The Two Guardians
Charlotte Mary Yonge
Part 2 out of 8
to do whatever she was doing; but as novelty was the great charm
in Clara's eyes, and as she met with no very warm return to her
endearments, all this soon wore off; and though she always came to
Marian whenever she had any bit of news to tell,--though she often
confided to her little complaints of the boys or Miss Morley,--this was
no great compliment, for she would have done the same to anything that
had ears. Her talk was no longer, as it had been at first, exclusively
for Marian; and this wag rather a relief, for it was not at all like the
talk Marian was used to with Agnes or with Edmund.
Young and unformed as Marian was, it would be hard to believe how much,
without knowing it, she missed the intercourse with superior minds, to
which she had been accustomed. It was just as her eye was dissatisfied
with the round green chalk hills, instead of the rocks and streams of
her own dear home; or as she felt weary of the straight, formal walks
she now took, instead of her dear old rambles,
"Over bank and over brae,
Where the copsewood is the greenest,
Where the fountain glistens sheenest,
Where the lady-fern grows strongest,
Where the morning dew lies longest."
Edmund's high spirits, Agnes' playful glee,--how delightful they were!
and though Marian often laughed now, it was not as she had laughed at
home. Then, too, she grew shy of making remarks, or asking questions,
when Clara had nothing to say but "How odd!" or Miss Morley would give
some matter-of-fact answer, generally either quite beside the point, or
else what Marian know before. Caroline understood what she meant, and
would take up the subject, but not always in a satisfactory manner; for
she and Marian always seemed to have quite opposite ways of viewing
every thing. Each felt that the other had more serious thoughts and
principles than most of those around them, but yet their likings and
dislikings were very different in the matter of books. "Anna Ross" was
almost the only one of Caroline's favourites that Marian cordially
liked; and this, as Caroline suspected, might he owing to a certain
analogy between Anna's situation and her own, by no means flattering to
the Lyddell family. It was wonderful how many were the disparities
of tastes, views, and opinions between them; but the root of these
differences seemed undiscoverable, since Marian would not or could not
argue, replied to all objections with a dry, short, "I don't know," and
adhered unalterably to her own way of thinking.
Miss Morley settled the matter by pronouncing that Sir Edmund and Lady
Arundel must have been very narrow-minded people; and this judgment was
so admired by Caroline and Clara, that it was sure to be brought forward
as conclusive, whenever Marian was the subject of conversation. At last
Lionel broke in one day, "Stuff! Marian is a good, sensible, downright
girl, and it is my belief that all that you mean by narrow-mindedness is
that she cares for what is right, and nothing else."
"How much you know about it, Lionel!" said Clara, laughing; but Caroline
answered in earnest, "There is reason in what you say, Lionel--Marian
does care for what is right; but the question is, whether her views of
it are not narrow?"
"The narrower the better, say I," said Lionel, as he plaited his
"Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life,"
came into Caroline's head, and she stood thoughtful. Clara exclaimed,
"Well done, Lionel! I wonder what he'll say next to defend his dear
"I know what I mean well enough," said Lionel. "I suppose you call it
being broad-minded to trace your drawings through against the window,
when mamma goes on telling you not. Better have her narrow mind, say I."
"Then why don't you," said Clara, "instead of going down to the stables
for ever with that man of Elliot's that mamma said you were never to
Lionel whisked his whip-lash before Clara's eyes, so as to make her
wink. "I did not say I was good myself;" said he; "I said Marian was."
And he ran out of the room.
Clara laughed at Lionel's admiration of Marian, which had begun to be
a joke in the schoolroom; but Caroline, as she practised her music,
thought a good deal over the conversation. "Is a narrow mind really a
fear of doing wrong?" was a question she asked herself several
times; and then she thought of all the things she had heard called
narrow-minded and scrupulous in Marian or others, but she soon found
herself lost in a mist, and wished she could talk it over with her
former governess, Miss Cameron. As to what Lionel had said about the
drawing, she was conscious she was very wrong; her mamma had called it
an idle practice to trace the outline through against the glass, and
had forbidden it; but a difficulty had soon brought her back to the
window-pane, exclaiming, "Just for this one thing, I am sure mamma would
"If Miss Cameron had been here, it would not have happened," said
Caroline to herself with a sigh, and for a few days she kept away from
the window; but another difficulty occurred, again she yielded to the
temptation, and whoa she heard her mother's step in the passage, hurried
back to her desk with guilty precipitation. A few days after, Clara was
actually caught in the fact by Mrs. Lyddell, and then Miss Morley began
making an excuse, evidently quite as much out of kindness to herself as
to her pupil. Marian looked up in surprise, with a wondering, inquiring
expression in her eyes. They were cast down the instant the governess
turned towards her; but Miss Morley always felt abashed, by meeting that
look of astonishment, which awoke in her a sensation of self-reproach
such as she had seldom known before.
Miss Morley was a little afraid of Marian's eyes, though not of her in
any other respect; nor did she like her much better than Caroline did,
though she gave her much less trouble than any of her other pupils,
except Caroline. Those questions and observations puzzled her, and she
thought the poor child had been reading books beyond her years--it was
such a great disadvantage to be an only daughter. Besides, she really
believed Marian Arundel had no affection for any one,--no warmth of
feeling; she would ten times prefer a less diligent and more troublesome
pupil, in whom she could take some interest, and who showed some
affection, to one so steady and correct in behaviour, without the frank
openness of heart which was so delightful. To make up, however, for this
general want of liking for poor Marian, on the other hand, every one was
fond of Gerald. His behaviour in the schoolroom was so very nice and
good, and out of doors his climbing, running, and riding were no less
admired by his contemporaries. Now and then, indeed, a dispute arose
between him and the other two boys, when Gerald criticised, and declared
that "Edmund and everybody" thought as he did; or when he would try to
outdo the sporting exploits reported of Elliot, by Edmund's shooting at
Fern Torr. One day there was a very serious quarrel, Gerald having
taken up the cause of an unfortunate frog, which Lionel and Johnny were
proposing to hunt, by rolling their marbles at it.
Gerald declared they should not, that frogs were harmless, innocent
creatures, and that Edmund and everybody liked them. This only made
Lionel and Johnny more determined; partly from the absurdity of Gerald's
appeal, and partly for the sake of mischief; and Gerald was overpowered,
unable to save his protege, and obliged to witness its cruel death. He
burst into tears, and then, came the accusation of crying for a frog.
Poor little boy, he burst away from his tormentors, and never stopped
till, he was safe in his sister's room pouring out his grief to her
and Saunders (for it was her dressing-time), and comforted by their
sympathising horror and pity.
Saunders said it gave her a turn, and Marian's feelings were much of the
same nature. She could not have thought it of Lionel. He was, indeed,
reckless and unruly; by reputation _the_ naughty one of the set; but
Marian had often thought that much of Johnny's misbehaviour was unjustly
charged on him, and there was an honesty about him, together with a
cordiality towards herself, which made her like him. And that he should
have been wantonly cruel!
She comforted Gerald as well as she could, and they went back to the
schoolroom together. Lionel, as he often did, brought her a knot in a
piece of string to be untied; she felt almost ready to shrink from him,
as capable of such a deed, and gave it back to him after untying it,
without a word. Lionel stood leaning against the shutter looking at her
for some minutes, while she fetched her books, and sat down to learn her
lessons. Tea came in; and while there was something of a bustle, and all
the others were talking, and engaged in different ways, Lionel crossed
over to her and said in a low voice, "So Gerald has made you angry with
"No; but Lionel, I could not have thought you would have done such a
"'Twas only a frog," said Lionel; "besides, I only did it to tease
"I do not see that that makes it any better," said Marian, gravely.
"Why, Gerald was so ridiculous, to say Edmund and everybody liked frogs;
but I didn't--I only mean that, if he had not made a fuss, I would never
have hurt the frog, and I did not mean to kill it as it was; so never
mind, Marian. I'll tell you what, Marian," added he, sinking his voice,
"I'd rather Caroline and Clara, and poor unfortunate into the bargain,
scolded me till they were black in the face, than that you looked at me
as you did just now."
"Did I?" said Marian, rather alarmed. "I am sure I did not know I looked
"Didn't you, though? It is just the way you look at poor unfortunate
when she sports her humbug."
"Hush, Lionel! this will never do. You know you ought not to talk in
that way," said Marian, rising to put an end to the conversation.
"But we have made it up?" said Lionel, holding her dress.
"Yes, yes," said Marian hastily, and with full forgiveness in look
and tone. As she took her place at the tea-table, she wondered within
herself what was the matter with her eyes to cause such remarks, and
still more why she could not help liking Lionel so much the best of her
cousins, in spite of all the naughtiness of word and deed, which shocked
her so much.
The nest day she was walking in the garden with Clara, when Gerald came
running up, with an entreaty that she would come and have a game at
cricket with him and Lionel. Clara exclaimed, laughed, and stared in
"She plays famously," said Gerald; "she, and Agnes, and I, beat all the
other Wortleys one day last summer. Come, Marian, don't say no; we have
not had a game for a very long time."
"Who is playing?" asked Marian.
"Only Lionel and me; Johnny is out with Mrs. Lyddell Come, we want you
very much indeed; there's a good girl."
To Clara's astonishment and Lionel's admiration, Marian complied; and
though, of course, no great cricketer, her skill was sufficient to
make her a prodigy in their eyes. But the game was brought to a sudden
conclusion by Miss Morley, who, seeing them from the window, came out
very much shocked, and gave the girls a lecture on decorum, which Marian
felt almost as an insult.
When they went in, Gerald told Saunders the whole adventure; and she,
who at Fern Torr had been inclined to the same opinion as Miss Morley,
and had often sighed and declared it to be unlike young ladies when
Marian and Agnes had played, now agreed with him that it was very hard
on Miss Marian not to have a little exercise, lamented that she should
always be cooped up in the schoolroom, and declared that there could be
no harm in playing with such a little boy as Master Lionel.
The most unpleasant result was, that Miss Morley and the cousins took an
impression that Agnes Wortley must be a vulgar romp, and were inclined
to think her an unsuitable friend for Marian. Their curiosity was
excited by the frequent letters between the two friends. Marian always
read those which she received with the utmost eagerness, hardly ever
telling any part of their contents, but keeping them to be enjoyed with
Gerald in her own room; and half her leisure moments were employed in
filling fat, black-edged envelopes, which were sent off at least as
often as once a week.
"I wonder what she says about us!" said Clara, one day.
"I don't think it would suit you," said Caroline; "I should not think
she painted us _couleur de rose_."
"Except Lionel," said Clara, "if their admiration is mutual. But, by the
by, Miss Morley, why do you not desire to see her letters? You always
look at mine."
"She is not quite in the same situation," said Miss Morley.
"But could not you?" continued Clara. "It would be very entertaining
only to look for once."
"And I think it would be only proper," said Caroline. "Who knows what
she may say of us to these dear friends of hers?"
The subject was not allowed to drop; the girls' curiosity led them to
find numerous reasons why their cousin's correspondence should not pass
without examination, and Miss Morley found she must either endure their
importunity, or yield to it. She was driven to choose the part of the
oppressor; and one day, when Clara had been tormenting her more than
usual, she addressed Marian, who was folding up a letter. "I think,"
said she, speaking in a timid, deprecating tone--"I think, Marian, if
you please, it might be as well, perhaps, if I were sometimes to look
over your letters; it has always been the custom here."
Then; was no encouragement to proceed in the look of blank amazement
with which Marian replied, "Edmund Arundel and Mr. Lyddell both approve
of my writing to Agnes Wortley."
"Ah!" interposed Clara; "but did they mean that your letters should
never be looked over?"
"I heard nothing about it," said Marian.
"Miss Cameron always looked over mine," said Caroline.
"I will ask Mr. Lyddell himself as soon as he comes home," said Marian,
There was a pause, but Caroline and Clara did not look satisfied. Miss
Morley knew they would leave her no peace if she desisted, and she went
on,--"I wish I could sometimes see a proof of willingness to yield."
Marian was out of patience, and putting her letter into the desk, locked
it up; and Caroline laughingly remarked, "Really, there must be some
treason in that letter!" If the observation had been taken as it was
meant, all would have been well; but Marian bit her lip with an air that
convinced the sisters that Caroline had hit the mark; and their glances
stimulated Miss Morley to say, as decidedly as she could, "Marian, your
present conduct convinces me that it is desirable that I should see that
Marian's dark eyes gave one indignant flash, as she proudly drew up her
head, opened her desk, laid her letter on the table before Miss Morley,
and slowly walked out of the room; but as soon as she had shut the door,
she ran at full speed along the passage to her own room, where, throwing
herself on the bed, she gave way to a fit of violent weeping, and sobs
which shook her whole frame. Proud, passionate feelings at first almost
choked her, and soon these were followed by a flood of the bitter tears
of loneliness and bereavement. "Who would have dared insult her thus,
had her father and mother been living?" and for a minute her agony for
their loss was more intense than it had ever been. Gradually, "the
turbid waters brightening as they ran," became soothing, as she dwelt on
the sweet, holy memory of her parents, and wholesome as she mourned over
her fit of pride and anger. But for what were they accountable, whose
selfish weakness and thoughtless curiosity had caused the orphan's tears
Caroline had not seen those flashing eyes without an instant perception
of the injustice of the accusation. Her half-jesting speech had led
the matter much further than she had intended; and alarmed at the
consequences, she ran after her cousin to entreat her pardon; but
Marian, unconscious of all save the tumult within herself, hurried on
too fast to be overtaken, and just as Caroline reached her door, had
shut it fast, and drawn the bolt, and a gentle knock and low call of
"Marian, dear Marian," were lost in the first burst of sobs. Caroline,
baffled and offended, turned away with feelings even more painful than
hers; and too proud to repeat the call, walked up and down, waiting till
the door should be opened, to assure her cousin that nothing should
induce her to touch the letter, and to beg her forgiveness; but as
minutes passed away in silence, she grew tired of waiting, thought
Marian sullen and passionate, and at length, returned to the schoolroom.
As soon as she entered, Clara exclaimed, "O Caroline, only think, how
"I don't want to hear anything about it," said Caroline, sitting down to
the piano; "I wish we had never thought of it."
She began, playing with all her might, but gradually she abated her
vehemence, as she caught a few sounds of a conversation between Clara
and Miss Morley. At last she turned round, asking, "What? who is his
"Mr. Arundel, 'Edmund and every body,' you know," answered Clara. "I
never heard anything like it. Only fancy his hearing that boy say his
"What? I don't understand," said Caroline; "Mr. Arundel and Gerald!
Nonsense! He can't be his godfather. Mamma said he was only
four-and-twenty, and Gerald is almost nine."
"Here is Marian's authority for it," said Clara; "and certainly those
Arundels are a curious family."
"Mr. Arundel is the next heir, is he not?" inquired Miss Morley.
"Yes," said Caroline; "I heard mamma telling old Mrs. Graves the whole
story. His father and mother both died when he was very young, and Sir
Edmund brought him up entirely, and every one looked upon him as the
heir till Gerald was born; and a groat disappointment it must have been,
for now he has next to nothing. But they all were just as fond of each
other as before; and it does seem very strange that Sir Edmund should
have made him their guardian, at his age, when there was Lord Marchmont,
who is their cousin, too."
"I dare say," said Clara, as if a most brilliant thought had struck her,
"I dare say there is a family compact, such as one reads of in books,
that he is to marry Marian."
"My dear Clara!" said Miss Morley laughing, "How should such a notion
come into your little head?"
"Now see if it is not so!" said Clara; "I do believe she is in love with
him already, and he is coming to see her."
"Is he?" cried Caroline, "I am very curious to sec him. Mamma says he is
very handsome, and quite a distinguished looking person. When does he
"You had better read," said Clara; "I can tell you that there are
wonderful things in the letter."
Curiosity again asserted its power, and Caroline yielded. The letter had
been opened, and it would not signify if one more person looked at it.
She took it, and read eagerly and stealthily, starting at every sound.
"My dear Agnes--I hope you and Jemmy are getting
on well in your solitude without the schoolboys. Tell
Charles, when you write, that a gentleman staying here
caught a trout last week that weighed three pounds, but I
believe that those which are caught in these rivers taste of
mud, and are not nearly so good as our own. I was very
much afraid that Gerald would go to school this summer,
but now Mrs. Lyddell has heard that it was settled that he
should not go till he was ten, and it is arranged for him to
stay till next year, when I hope he will be happier than
Charles was at first. You asked after his drawing, so I
have put in the last scrap I met with, and in case you
should not be able to find out what it is meant for, I must
inform you that it is the dog springing on the young Buecleuch.
The other day he sent Edmund a letter in hieroglyphics,
with pictures instead of nouns, and Edmund answered
it in the same way with funny little clever drawings
throughout. His regiment is going abroad nest spring, he
thinks, to the Cape, but he has promised to come and see us
first, and thinks of going home to see about his things.
Thank Mrs. Wortley for being so kind as to scold me for
not dating my letters. I shall not be likely to forget the
date of this on September 30th, for Mr. Lyddell has just
paid me my first quarter's allowance, and I am frightened
to think how large it is; ten pounds a quarter only for my
dress, and I am to have more when I am seventeen. So
matters can go on more as they used in the parish. Will
you be so kind as to pay this quarter's schooling for Amy
Lapthorn and Honor Weeks and Mary Daw, and find out
what clothes they want, and if Susan Grey has not a new
bonnet, give her one, and a flannel petticoat for old Betty,
and if any body else wants anything else let me know, and
pay up for all the children that dear mamma used to put into
the penny club, and send me word what it comes to, and I
will send the money when Edmund comes to pay his visit.
I suppose the apples are gathered by this time; you cannot
think how I miss the golden and red piles under the trees,
and the droning of the old cyder press. And do those beautiful
Red Admiral butterflies come in the crowds they did
last year to the heaps of apples in our orchard? Do you remember
how we counted five that all came and sat on your
pink frock while we were watching them?
"Will Mr. Wortley be kind enough to tell me of some
book of questions on the Catechism, more advanced than the
one he gave me? I suppose we ought to go on with the Catechism,
till we are confirmed, and so Gerald and I always go
through a section every Sunday, taking the book by turns,
and he knows our old one perfectly. He is so good and
steady about it that I quite wonder, considering that there
is no authority to keep him up to it, but he is very anxious
to stand a good examination when his godfather comes, and
Edmund is sure to ask hard questions. And Gerald has
never missed since we have been here, getting up in time to
come and read the Psalms with me before breakfast, and
really I think that is exceedingly good of him; but I have
come to the end of my paper, so good-bye.
"MARIAN C. ARUNDEL."
Caroline's cheeks glowed as she read, both with shame at her own
proceedings, and with respect for her narrow-minded cousin; but she had
no opportunity for making remarks, for just as she had finished the
letter, and folded it up again, the boys were heard coming in. The first
thing Gerald said was, "So Marian has not sent her letter; I will run
down with it, or it will be too late."
"It is not sealed," said Clara.
"Clara looks as if she had been peeping," said Johnny.
"I should like to see any one peep into Marian's letters," said Gerald,
taking it up, and carrying it away with him.
Lionel stood with his eyes fixed on Clara. "I do believe it is true
then!" said he, laying hold of Clara's arm; "I have a great mind to say
I'll never speak to you again, Clara. Peeping into people's letters.
Why, you ought to be hooted through the town!"
The boys looked nearly ready to put the hooting into effect, but Clara
answered angrily, "Peeping! I have been doing no such thing! Don't be so
"That is humbug," said Lionel; "you have been looking impudently, if you
have not been peeping slyly."
"Lionel, you are a very naughty boy indeed!" said Clara, almost crying;
"I have done just as Miss Morley and Caroline have been doing; Miss
Morley always looks over----"
"Let who will do it," said Lionel, "it is an impudent, ungentlemanlike
thing, that you all ought to be ashamed of. I declare papa shall hear of
"Lionel, do you know what you are saying?" said Caroline.
"This is sadly naughty!" feebly murmured Miss Morley.
"Lionel, mamma will be very angry," said Clara.
"I don't care," said Lionel loudly and vehemently; "I know that you all
ought to be ashamed of yourselves, every one of you. Why, if you
were boys you would never hold up your heads again; but girls can do
anything, and that is the reason they have no shame."
"Hush! Lionel, dear Lionel!" said Caroline, coming to him persuasively,
but he shook her off:
"I want none of your _dears_," said he; "ask Marian's pardon, not mine."
He turned his back, and took up a book. The girls dared say no more to
him; Miss Morley very nearly cried as she thought how impossible it was
for women to manage great boys. She ought to complain of his rudeness,
but the explanation of what gave rise to it was impossible, and so, poor
woman, she thought herself too good-natured.
Gerald, in the meantime, had gone to his sister's room, where he called
hastily on finding the door fastened. She opened it, and he eagerly
asked what was the matter.
"Never mind," said Marian; "thank you for remembering my letter. Will
you fetch the sealing wax out of----"
"Well, but what is the matter?"
"Nothing that signifies; never mind."
"But I do mind, I can't bear for you to cry. You know I can't, so don't
begin again," added he, as his affectionate tones made her lip quiver,
and her eyes fill with tears.
"But, Gerald, pray get the wax, or----. But no, no," added she
hurriedly, "do not, I will not touch it, till----"
"Till when?" asked Gerald; "I wish you would tell me how they have
been vexing you. I am sure they hare, for they all looked guilty. Poor
Marian!" He put his arm round her neck, and drew her cheek to his. Who
could withstand such a brother? Marian whispered. "Only--but don't make
a fuss--only Miss Morley made me show her my letter."
He started from her, and broke forth into a torrent of indignation; and
it was not quickly that she succeeded in getting him to listen to her
entreaties that he would not tell any one.
"What do you mean to do?" said he. "O I will write such a letter to
Edmund, in hopes she will ask to see it. But she won't venture on mine.
Shall I tell Edmund?"
"No, no, Gerald, you do nothing; pray don't say anything. I will speak
to Mr. Lyddell, for it was he who gave me leave."
"And I hope he will give poor unfortunate a good rowing. Won't it be
"Now, Gerald, pray don't say such things, or I shall be sorry I told
you. I dare say she thought it was right."
"Stuff and nonsense! Right indeed! I hope Mr. Lyddell will give it to
"If I may not write without having my letters read, I am sure I shall
never be able to write at all!"
"And when shall you speak? Luckily there is no company to-night, and I
hope I shall be there to hear."
"No, you will not; I shall wait till you are gone to bed, for I am sure
Lionel and Johnny ought to know nothing about it. I believe I had better
not have told you; but, Gerald, you are all I have, and I can't help
telling you everything."
"Of course, Marian, so you ought, for let them laugh at me as they will,
I always tell you everything. And won't it be nice when I am grown up,
and we can get away from them all, and live at home together, and I go
out shooting every day, and you and Ranger stand at the top of the steps
to watch me? For Ranger will be too old to go out shooting by that
In the midst of this picture of rural felicity, Saunders came to tell
Marian that it was time to dress.
When she returned to the schoolroom, Caroline would have given anything
not to have read the letter; she was too sure that there was nothing
wrong in it, and she could not show the trust in her cousin which would
have enabled her to speak freely, and say she was very sorry for her
speech and meant nothing by it; nor did she wish to revive the subject
before Lionel, whose indignation would be still more unpleasant in
Marian's own presence. She therefore said nothing, and on the other hand
Marian felt awkward and constrained; Lionel was secretly ashamed of his
own improper behaviour to Miss Morley, and well knowing that he should
never dare to perform his threat of telling his father, put on a surly
kind of demeanour, quite as uncivil to Marian as to anyone else; and but
that Clara never minded anything, and that Johnny knew and cared little
about the matter, their tea that evening would have been wonderfully
unsociable. Gerald had not much to say, but the bent of his thoughts was
evident enough when his ever-busy pencil produced the sketch of a cat
pricking her paw by patting a hedgehog rolled up in a ball.
Neither Miss Morley nor her pupils ever expected to hear more of the
letter, for they knew perfectly well that what Lionel had said was but a
threat, for the appeal direct to Mr. or Mrs. Lyddell was a thing never
thought of at Oakworthy. Marian had, however, made up her mind; her
anxiety overpowered her shyness; she knew that Mr. Lyddell was the
proper person, and perhaps the fact was that she was less afraid of him
than of his wife. So, though she resisted all the glances cast at her
by Gerald, whenever he thought he saw a good opportunity for her, and
waited till all the three little boys had gone to bed, she by no means
gave up her purpose. It was time for her too, to wish good night; and
while her heart beat fast, she said, "Mr. Lyddell, you gave me leave to
write to Agnes Wortley. Was it on condition of my letters being looked
"Who meddles with your letters?" said Mr. Lyddell, much surprised.
Caroline, having helped to get her governess into the scrape, thought
it but fair to say what she could for her, and answered, "Miss Morley
thought that you and mamma would wish it."
"By no means," said Mr. Lyddell, turning to Marian, "I have the
highest opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Wortley, the very highest; I wish your
correspondence to be perfectly free."
"Thank you," said Marian. "Good night!" and away she went, to tell
Gerald how it had passed; and he, who had been lying awake in
expectation, was much disappointed to hear no more than this.
As soon as she was gone, Mrs. Lyddell exclaimed, "What could have given
Miss Morley reason to think that her letters were to be inspected?
Really, Miss Morley must have some courage! I should be sorry to be the
person to make the request."
"Ah! Marian was very angry indeed," said Clara; "quite in a passion."
"Very proper," said Mr. Lyddell. "A spirited thing. She is a girl of
Mrs. Lyddell let the matter drop with the girls, but going to the
schoolroom, she inquired into it more fully, and found that by poor
unfortunate faithful Morley's own account, she had allowed herself to
be made the tool of the curiosity of Caroline and Clara. She spoke
severely, and Miss Morley had displeasure to endure, which was
considerably more disagreeable than all Clara's importunities could have
However, the next morning it appeared as if the whole affair was
forgotten by all parties; Marian win just as usual, and so were her
cousins; but, in secret, Caroline felt guilty, and held her in higher
estimation since she had seen the contents of the letter, which, as
she could perceive, Marian might well be doubly unwilling to show; she
wished that Marian would but be as open to her as she was to Agnes, but
this unfortunate business seemed like another great bar to their ever
being really intimate, and she did not know how to surmount it.
These reflections were shortly after driven out of Caroline's head by
a severe fit of toothache, which for three days made her unfit for
anything but to sit by the fire reading idle books. Mrs. Lyddell
proposed to take her to Salisbury to consult a dentist, and Lionel was
supposed likewise to require inspection. Then, turning to Marian, Mrs.
Lyddell said, "This is not the pleasantest kind of expedition, but
perhaps you may like to see Salisbury, and I think your bonnet wants
"Thank you," said Marian, pleased with the Invitation. "I shall be very
glad to go; I believe my teeth ought to be looked at. The dentist at
Exeter said last winter that they were crowded and ought to be watched."
"Very well," said Mrs. Lyddell, "we will see what Mr. Polkinghorn says."
"Polkinghorn," said Marian, as Mrs. Lyddell left the room; "that is a
"You are very welcome to him, I am sure," said Caroline; "I wish the
trade was abolished."
"What cowards girls are!" said Lionel.
"Let us see how boys behave before we say anything against girls," was
"Shan't you scream?" said Lionel.
"Of course she will not," said Caroline, "unless with joy at meeting a
Marian laughed, and Lionel began an exhilarating story about an
unfortunate who was strapped to the dentist's chair, dragged nine times
round the room, and finally had his jaw broken.
Marian enjoyed her drive to Salisbury, though it added to her contempt
for Wiltshire scenery, by showing her more and more of desolate down.
She watched the tall Cathedral spire from far in the distance, peering
up among the hills like a picture more than a reality, and she admired
the green meadows and quiet vale where the town stands. Poor Caroline
was taken up with dreadful anticipations of Mr. Pokingtooth, as Lionel
called him, and when arrived at his clamber of torture, hung back, so as
to allow Marian to be the first victim. The result of the examination
was, that it would be better; though not absolutely necessary, that a
certain double tooth should be extracted, and Mr. Polkinghorn, left the
room in search of an instrument.
"So you think it ought to go?" sighed Marian.
"I should say so," said Mrs. Lyddell, "but you may decide for yourself."
Marian covered her face with her hands, and considered. The dentist
returned; she laid back her head and opened her mouth, and the tooth
was drawn. Caroline and Lionel escaped more easily, and they left the
dentist's. Mrs. Lyddell said something in commendation of Marian's
courage, and asked if she would like to see the Cathedral, an offer
which she gladly accepted, expecting to go to the service, as the bells
now began to ring; but she was disappointed, for Mrs. Lyddell said, "Ah!
I had forgotten the hour. We must do our commissions first, and be at
the Cathedral before the doors are shut." Marian did not venture to
express her wishes, but she thought of the days when attending the
Cathedral service had been the crowning pleasure of a drive to Exeter,
and in dwelling on the recollection, she spent the attention which Mrs.
Lyddell expected her to bestow on her new bonnet.
Their business did not occupy them very long, and they entered the
Cathedral before the anthem was over; but Marian felt that it was not
fitting to loiter about the nave while worship was going on within the
choir; and the uncomfortable feeling occupied her so much, that she
could hardly look at the fair clustered columns and graceful arches, and
seemed scarcely to know or care for the gallant William Longsword, when
led to the side of his mail-clad, cross-legged effigy. The deep notes of
the organ, which delighted Caroline, gave her a sense of shame; and even
when the service was over, and they entered the choir, these thoughts
had not so passed away as to enable her to give full admiration to the
exquisite leafy capitals and taper arcades of the Lady Chapel. Perhaps,
too, there was a little perverseness in her inability to think that this
Cathedral surpassed that of Exeter.
She thanked Mrs. Lyddell rather stiffly, as she thought to herself, "I
did not reckon upon this!" and they set out on their homeward drive.
Caroline looked thoughtful, and did not say much, Lionel fell asleep,
and Mrs. Lyddell, after a few not very successful attempts at talking to
Marian, took out her bills, and began to look over them and to reckon.
Marian sat looking out of the window, lost in a vision of the hills,
woods, and streams of Fern Torr, which lasted till they had reached
Such an expedition was so uncommon an event in the lives of the
inhabitants of the schoolroom, that those who stayed at home were as
excited about it as those who went, and a full and particular account
was expected of all they had seen and all they had done. Caroline and
Lionel both seemed to think Marian a perfect miracle of courage in
voluntarily consenting to lose a tooth.
"And I am sure," said Caroline as they sat at tea, "I cannot now
understand what made you have it done."
"To oblige a countryman," said Marian laughing.
"Well, but what was your real reason?" persisted Caroline.
"Mrs. Lyddell thought it best, and so did the dentist," said Marian.
"O," said Caroline, "he only said so because it was his trade."
"Then how could Mrs. Lyddell depend on him?" said Marian, gravely.
"Dentists never are to be depended on," said Caroline; "they only try to
fill their own pockets like other people."
"You forget," said Lionel, "Devonshire men are not like other people."
"O yes, I beg their pardon," said Caroline, while every one laughed
except Gerald; who thought the praise only their due.
"But why did you have it done?" said Clara, returning to the charge; "I
am sure I never would."
"Yes, but Marian is not you," said Lionel.
"You would have disobeyed no one," said Caroline.
"I do not know," said Marian, thinking of one whom she would have
disobeyed by showing weakness.
"Then did you think it wrong not to have that tooth drawn?" said
"I do not know."
"Did you think it right to have it done?"
"I do not know, unless that I did not like it."
"Do you mean to say that not liking a thing makes it right?" exclaimed
"Very often," said Marian.
"Miss Morley, now is not that Popish?" cried Clara.
"Perhaps your cousin can explain herself," said Miss Morley.
"Yes, do," said Caroline, "you must tell us what you mean."
"I don't know," was Marian's first answer; but while uttering the reply,
the real reason arranged itself in words; and finding she must speak
clearly, she said, "Self-denial is always best, and in a doubtful case,
the most disagreeable is always the safest."
Miss Morley said that Marian was right in many instances, but that this
was not a universal rule, and so the conversation ended.
"O Brignal banks are fresh and fair,
And Greta woods are green;
I'd rather rove with Edmund there,
Than reign our English queen."
Winter came, and with it the time fixed for that farewell visit from
Edmund Arundel, to which Marian and Gerald had long looked forward.
Marian was becoming very anxious for it on Gerald's account, for she was
beginning to feel that he was not quite the same child as when he first
arrived at Oakworthy. He was less under control, less readily obedient
to Miss Morley, less inclined to quote Edmund upon all occasions, more
sensible of his own consequence, and more apt to visit that forbidden
ground, the stables.
She longed for Edmund's coming, trusting to him to set everything right,
and to explain to her the marvels of this strange new world.
Several gentlemen were staying in the house, and there was to be a
dinner party on the day when he was expected, so that she thought the
best chance of seeing him would be to stay in the garden with Gerald,
while the others took their walk, so that she might be at hand on his
arrival. Clara, though by no means wanted, chose to stay also, and the
two girls walked up and down the terrace together.
"It is so very odd," said Clara "that you should care about such a great
"He is only twenty-four," answered Marian.
"But he must have been grown up ever since you remember."
"Yes, but he is so kind. He used to carry us about and play with us when
we were quite little children, and since I have been older he has made
me almost a companion. He taught me to ride, and trained my bay pony,
my beautiful Mayflower, and read with me, and helped me in my music and
"That is more than Elliot would do for us, if he could," said Clara. "It
is very dull to have no one to care about our lessons, but to be shut up
in the schoolroom for ever with poor unfortunate."
Marian did not choose to say how fully she assented to this complaint,
but happiness had opened her heart, and she went on,--"I have had so
many delightful walks with him through the beautiful wood full of rocks,
and out upon the moor. O, Clara, you cannot think what it is to sit upon
one of those rocks, all covered with moss and lichen, and the ferns
growing in every cleft and cranny, and the beautiful little ivy-leafed
campanula wreathing itself about the moss, and such a soft, free,
delicious air blowing all around. And Edmund and I used to take out a
book, and read and sketch so delightfully there!"
"Do you know, Marian," said Clara mysteriously, "I have heard some one
say--I will not tell you who--that it is a wonder that Mr. Arundel is so
fond of you, of Gerald, at least, for if it was not for him, he would
have had Fern Torr, and have been Sir Edmund."
"But why should he not be fond of Gerald?"
"Really, Marian, you are a very funny person in some things," exclaimed
Clara. "To think of your not being able to guess that!"
Here Mrs. Lyddell interrupted them by calling from the window to ask why
they were staying in the garden?
"We were waiting to see Mr. Arundel, mamma," answered Clara.
"I think," said Mrs. Lyddell, "that as I am going out, it is not quite
_the thing_ for you young ladies to wait to receive a gentleman in my
absence. You had better overtake the others. Marian will see Mr. Arundel
in the evening."
"How cross!" exclaimed Clara, as soon as they were out of hearing. "Now
we have to go along that horrid, stupid path that poor unfortunate is
so fond of! If mamma had to go there herself, she would know what a
nuisance it is!"
Marian was silent, because she was too much annoyed to speak properly
of Mrs. Lyddell, whose interference seemed to her a needless piece of
unkindness. At home she would have thought it strange not to hasten to
greet cousin Edmund, and she feared he would think she neglected him,
yet she could not, in Clara's presence, leave a message for him with her
brother. Gerald begged her to remain, but she replied, with, a short,
blunt "I can't," and set off with Clara, feeling provoked with
everybody. In process of time she recovered candour enough to
acknowledge to herself that Mrs. Lyddell was right as far as Clara was
concerned, but the struggle kept her silent, her cousin thought her
sulky, and the walk was not agreeable.
Gerald did not as usual attend her toilette, but as she passed along the
passage on her way to the schoolroom, she heard sounds in the hall so
like home that her heart bounded, Gerald's voice and Edmund's in reply!
She could not help opening the door which separated the grand staircase
from the schoolroom passage, the voice sounded plainer, she looked over
the balusters, and saw--yes, actually saw Edmund, the top of his black
head was just below her. Should she call? Should she run half-way down
stairs, and just exchange one greeting unrestrainedly? But no; her heart
beat so fast as to take away her breath, and that gave her time for
recollection: Mrs. Lyddell might not think it proper, it would be
meeting him in an underhand way, and that would never do!
Marian turned back, shut the door of communication, and in the next
moment was in the schoolroom. When Gerald came up to tea, he was in the
wildest spirit; making fun, romping with Lionel and John, and putting
everything in such an uproar that it was quite a relief when the time
came for going down to the drawing-room.
Now, Marian's great fear was that the gentlemen would be cruel enough
to stay in the dining-room till after half-past nine, when she would
be obliged to go to bed. She could hardly speak to anybody, she shrank
away, as near the door as she dared, and half sprang up every time it
opened, then sat down ashamed of herself, and disappointed to see only
the servants with coffee and tea.
At last, the fatal time had all but come, when the black figures of the
gentlemen entered one after the other, Marian scarcely venturing to look
at them, and overpowered with a double access of fright and shyness,
which chained her to her seat, and her eyes to the ground. But
now--Edmund's hand was grasping hers, Edmund was by her side, his voice
was saying, "Well, Marian, how are you?"
She looked up at him for one moment, then on the ground again, without
"Oakworthy has put no colour in your cheeks," said he. "Are you quite
"Quite, thank you," said she, almost as shortly and coldly as if she had
been answering Mrs. Lyddell.
"When did you hear from home?"
"Yesterday," said she, speaking more readily. "Agnes always writes once
a week. When do you go there?"
"Next week, when I leave this place."
"You come from the Marchmonts, don't you?"
"Yes, Selina sends you her love, and all manner of kind messages. She
hopes to see you in London after Easter."
"O dear! There is Mrs. Lyddell looking at me, and I see Caroline is
gone! Good night, Edmund."
"So soon? I hoped to have seen more of you to-day; I came early on
"I thought so, but they would not let me stay at home."
"I understand. Don't squeeze up your lips and look woeful. I knew how it
was. Good night."
Marian walked slowly up stairs, sighing as she went, and looked into
Gerald's room. He was awake, and called out, "Well, Marian, are you not
glad he has come?"
"O yes, very," returned Marian, in a tone of little gladness; "I hope
you will be very happy with him."
"Why not you?"
"It will be all disappointment," she answered in a choking voice, as,
sheltered by the darkness, she knelt down by Gerald's bed, and burst
into tears. "It will all be like to-day."
"No, it shall not!" cried Gerald; "I will tell Edmund all about it, and
he shall send them all to the right about! I can't think why you did not
tell Mrs. Lyddell that you always stay at home for Edmund."
"Miss Arundel," said Saunders, at the door, "do you know that it is half
an hour later than usual?"
The next morning Marian awoke with brighter spirits. It was possible
that she might accomplish one walk with him, and Gerald was sure of
being constantly at his side, which was the great point. At any rate,
she could not be very unhappy while he was in the house.
She heard nothing of him all the morning, but, just as the schoolroom
dinner was over, in came Mrs. Lyddell, and with her Edmund himself, to
the great surprise of all the inhabitants. Marian looked very happy, but
said very little, while there was some talk with Miss Morley, and then
Edmund asked if she had no drawings to show him. She brought out her
portfolio, and felt it like old times when he observed on her improved
shading, or criticised the hardness of her distant hills, while Miss
Morley wondered at his taste and science. It was delightful to find that
she and Gerald were really to take a walk with him by themselves. She
almost flew to fetch her walking dress, and soon the three were on their
There was a great quantity of home news to be talked over, for Edmund
had not heard half so often nor so minutely as Marian, and he had to be
told how Charles Wortley got on at his new school, that Ranger had
been lost for a day and a half, and many pieces of the same kind of
intelligence, of which the most important was that Farmer Bright's widow
had given up the hill farm, and his nephew wanted to take it, but Mr.
Wortley hoped that this would not be allowed, as he was a dissenter.
"Indeed!" said Edmund; "I wonder Carter did not mention that."
"Had you heard this before?" said Marian; "I thought it news."
"Most of it is," said Edmund, "but not about the farm. The letting it is
part of my business here, but I did not know of this man's dissent. Your
correspondence has done good service."
"I am sure it is my great delight," said Marian; "I do not know what I
should do without hearing from Agnes. I think I have learnt to prize her
more since I have known other people."
"You don't find the Miss Lyddells quite as formidable as you expected
though?" said Edmund; "the eldest has a nice open, countenance."
"We get on very well," said Marian. "Caroline is so good-tempered and
clever, and Lionel is delightful."
"O, Edmund," interposed Gerald, "Lionel and I had such fun the other
day. We caught the old donkey and blindfolded it with our handkerchiefs,
and let it loose, and if you could but have seen how it kicked up its
They went on with the history of adventures of the same description,
enjoying themselves exceedingly, and when Marian went in, she was much
pleased to find how favourable an impression Edmund had made on her
companions, although some of their commendations greatly surprised her;
Miss Morley pronouncing that he had in the greatest degree an _air
distingue_, and was a remarkably fashionable young man. Marian could
endure the _air distingue_, but could hardly swallow the fashionable
young man, an expression which only conveyed to her mind the idea of
Elliot Lyddell and his moustached friends. However, she knew it was
meant for high praise, and her present amiable fit was strong enough to
prevent her from taking it as an insult.
The next day was Sunday, and she provokingly missed Edmund three times,
in the walks to and from church, he being monopolized by "some stupid
person," who had far less right to him than she had; but at last,
when she had been completely worried and vexed with her succession of
disappointments, and had come into what Lionel would have emphatically
called "a state of mind," Edmund contrived to come to her before going
in doors, and asked if she could not take a few turns with him on the
terrace. She came gladly, and yet hardly with full delight, for the
irritation of the continually recurring disappointments through the
whole day, still had its influence on her spirits, and she did not at
first speak. "Where is Gerald?" asked Edmund.
"I don't know; somewhere with the boys," said Marian, disconsolately.
"Well, why not?" said Edmund laughing.
"I don't know," said Marian.
"That is a meditative 'I don't know,' which conveys more than meets the
"I don't know whether----; I mean I don't think it does Gerald any
"I don't know," repeated Marian in a tone which to any one else would
have appeared sullen.
"I should like to arrive at your meaning, Marian. Are you not happy
"I don't know," said Marian; but Edmund, convinced that all was not
right, was resolved to penetrate these determined professions of
"Is Gerald under Miss Morley?" he asked.
"Yes, during most of the day. They all say he is very good."
"And does not that satisfy you?"
"I don't know."
Edmund perceived that the subject of her brother was too near her heart
to be easily approached, and resolved to change his tone.
"How have you been getting on?" he asked. "Does learning flourish under
the present dynasty?"
"I don't know," replied Marian for the seventh time, but she did not as
usual stop there, and continued, "they think one knows nothing unless
one has learnt all manner of dates, and latitudes, and such things. Not
one of them knew Orion when they saw him in the sky, and yet even Clara
thought me dreadfully stupid because I could not find out on the globe
the altitude of Beta in Serpentarius, at New Orleans, at three o'clock
in the morning."
Edmund could not help laughing at her half-complaining, half-humorous
tone, and this encouraged her to proceed.
"In history they don't care whether a man is good or bad; they only care
when he lived. O Edmund, the lists of names and dates, kings and Roman
"Metals, semi-metals, and distinguished philosophers," said Edmund; and
Marian, who in days of old had read "Mansfield Park," laughed as she
used to do at home.
"Exactly," said she, "O, Edmund, it is very different learning from what
it used to be. All lesson and no thinking, no explaining, no letting one
make out more about the interesting places. I wanted the other day to
look out in some history book to find whether Rinaldo in Tasso was a
real man, but nobody would care about it; and as to the books, all the
real good _grown-up_ ones are down in Mr. Lyddell's library, where no
one can get at them."
"Does not Miss Lyddell enter into these things?"
"O yes, Caroline does, a great deal more than Miss Morley; but I don't
know--I never can get on with Caroline----."
Marian had now gone on to the moment when her heart was ready to be
open, and the whole story, so long laid up for Edmund, began to be
poured forth; while he, anxious to hear all, and more sympathizing than
he was willing to show himself, only put in a word or two here and
there, so as to sustain the narration. Everything was told, how Clara
was frivolous and wearisome; how Caroline was cold, incomprehensible,
and unsympathetic; how unjust and weak Miss Morley was; how sharp,
hasty, and unmotherly she found Mrs. Lyddell; and then, growing more
eager, Marian, with tears springing to her eyes, told of the harm the
influence of Oakworthy was doing Gerald; his love of the stables, and
Saunders' opinion of the company he was likely to meet there. This led
her to more of Saunders' communications about the general arrangement
of the house, and the want of really earnest care for what is right;
further still to what Saunders had told of Elliot and his ways, which
were such as to shock her excessively, and yet she had herself heard Mr.
Lyddell say that he was a fine spirited fellow!
Edmund was not sorry to find that he had but small space in which to
give the reply for which Marian was eagerly looking. He avoided the main
subject, and spoke directly to a point on which his little cousin was
certainly wrong. "Well, Marian, who would have thought of your taking to
gossiping with servants?" Then, as she looked down, too much ashamed to
speak, he added, "I suppose poor Saunders has not sought for charms at
Oakworthy any more than you have."
"Indeed I do not think I tried to make the worst of it when I came."
"Is that a confession that you are doing so now?"
"I do not know."
"Then let us see if you will give the same account to-morrow; I shall
ask you whenever I see you particularly amiable. And now I think I have
kept you out quite late enough."
The next day was very pleasant, bright, and frosty; Marian, from having
relieved her heart, felt more free and happy, and her lessons went off
quickly and smoothly. All went well, even though Edmund was obliged to
go and call on a friend at Salisbury instead of coming to walk with her.
Her walk with Miss Morley and her cousins was prosperous and pleasant;
the boys ran races, and Marian and Clara were allowed to join them
without a remonstrance. Marian was running and laughing most joyously,
when she was stopped by hearing a horse's feet near her, and looking
round saw Edmund returning from his ride. "May I keep her out a little
longer?" said he to Miss Morley, as he jumped off his horse, and Marian
came to his side. Miss Morley returned a ready assent, and after
disposing of the horse, the two cousins walked on happily together, she
telling him some pleasant histories of Gerald and the other little boys,
and lamenting the loss that Lionel would be when he went to school.
After they had talked over Salisbury Cathedral, and Marian had heard
with great interest of Edmund's late employments in Scotland, and all
he was to do and see in Africa, and saying much about that never-ending
subject, Fern Torr, Edmund thought her so cheerful that he said, "Well,
may I venture to ask your opinion of the people here?"
"I don't know," said Marian, who was so much ashamed of the accusation
of gossiping with Saunders as to be willing to pass over all that had
been founded on her information, "perhaps I did say too much yesterday,
and yet I do not know I am sure I should never have chosen them for
"Perhaps they would return that compliment."
"Then you really think it is my own fault?"
"No;" (Edmund tried hard to prevent his "no" from being too emphatic,
and forced himself to go on thus) "I do not suppose it is entirely your
fault, but at the same time you do not strike me as a person likely to
make friends easily."
"O, Edmund, I could never bring myself to kiss, and say 'dearest' and
'darling,' and all that, like Clara."
"There is the thing," said Edmund; "not that it is wrong to dislike
it, not that I could ever imagine your doing any thing like it;" and,
indeed, the idea seemed so preposterous, that both the cousins
laughed; "but the disposition is not one likely to be over and above
prepossessing to strangers."
"You mean that I am disagreeable?"
"No, far from it. I only mean that you are chilly, and make almost all
who come near you the same towards you."
"I cannot help it," said Marian.
"Yes, you could in time, if you did not fairly freeze yourself by
constant dwelling on their worst points. Make the best of them with all
your might, and you will soon learn to like them better."
"But if the things are so, Edmund, how can I see them otherwise?"
"Don't look out for them, and be glad of every excuse for disliking the
people. Don't fancy harshness and unkindness where no one intends it. I
am quite sure that Mr. Lyddell wishes to give you every advantage, and
that Mrs. Lyddell thinks she treats you like her own child."
"I don't think I should like to be her own child," said Marian. "It is
true that she is the same with me as with them, but--"
"Poor Marian," said Edmund, kindly, "you have been used to such
gentleness at home, that no wonder the world seems hard and unkind to
you. But I did not mean to make you cry; you know you must rough it, and
"Never mind my crying," said Marian, struggling to speak; "it is
nothing, but I cannot help it. It is so very long since any one has
known what I meant."
Edmund could not trust himself to speak, so full was he of affectionate
compassion for her, and of indignation against the Lyddells, when these
few words revealed to him all her loneliness; and they walked on for a
considerable distance in silence, till, with a sudden change of tone, he
asked if she had had any riding since she came to Oakworthy.
"O no, I have not been on horseback once. What a treat a good canter on
Mayflower would be!"
"I suspect one victory over her would put you in spirits to be amiable
for a month," said Edmund.
"Dear old Mayflower!" said Marian. "How delightful that day was when she
first came home, and we took that very long ride to the Eastcombe!"
Edmund and Marian fell into a line of reminiscences which enlivened them
both, and she went in-doors in a cheerful mood, while he seriously took
the riding into consideration; knowing, as he did, that her mother had
thought a great deal of out-of-door exercise desirable for her, and
guessing that her want of spirits might very probably arise from want of
the air and freedom to which she had always been accustomed. The result
of his meditations was, that the next morning she was delighted by
Gerald's rushing into the school-room, calling out, "Put on your habit,
Marian; make haste and put on your habit. You are to have my pony, and
I am to have Lionel's, and Edmund is to have Sorell, and we are all to
ride together to Chalk Down!"
How fast Marian obeyed the summons may well be believed; and though
Gerald's pony was not comparable to Mayflower, it was much to feel
herself again in the saddle, with the fresh wind breathing on her
checks, and Edmund by her side. Par and joyously did they ride; so far,
that Gerald was tired into unusual sleepiness all the evening; but
Marian was but the fresher and brighter, full of life and merriment,
which quite surprised her cousins.
But visits, alas! are fleeting things, and Edmund's last day at
Oakworthy came only too soon. Precious as it was, it was for the most
part devoted to business with Mr. Lyddell, though he sent Marian a
message that he hoped for a walk with her and her brother in the
The hour came, but not the man; and while Caroline and Clara went out
with Miss Morley, Marian sat down with a book to wait for him. In about
an hour's time the boys came to tell her they were going to the pond
"O Gerald, won't you wait for Edmund?"
"I have waited till I am tired. I cannot stay in this whole afternoon,
and I do not think he will come this age."
"He is shut up in the study with papa," said Lionel; "I heard their
voices very loud, as if they were in _such_ a rage."
"I wish I could see them," said Johnny, "it would be such fun."
Away ran the boys, leaving Marian in a state of wonder and anxiety, but
still confident that Edmund would not forget her. She put on her walking
dress, and sat down to her book again, but still she was left to wait.
The winter twilight commenced, and still no Edmund; steps approached,
but not the right ones; and in came the walking party, with a general
exclamation of "Poor Marian! what, still waiting?" Miss Morley advised
her to take a few turns on the terrace, instead of practising that
horrid Mozart. Marian disconsolately went down stairs, looking wistfully
at the library door as she went past it, and, at a funeral pace,
promenaded along the terrace. As she passed beneath the window of
Caroline's room, a head was popped out, and a voice sang--
"So, sir, you're come at last, I thought you'd come no more,
I've waited with my bonnet on from one till half-past four!
You know I sit alone--"
At that moment, Edmund himself was seen advancing from the door; the
song ended in a scream of laughter and dismay, and the window was
hastily shut. Edmund smiled a little, but very little, and said, "True
enough, I am afraid I have used you very ill."
"Tiresome affairs," said Marian, looking up into his harassed face. "I
hope they have not made your head ache?"
"I have been worried, but it is not the fault of the affairs, I wish you
had not lost your walk," added he abruptly, beginning to stride on so
fast that she could scarcely keep up with him, and apparently forgetting
her presence entirely in his own engrossing thoughts. She watched him
intently as she toiled to keep by his side, longing, but not daring,
to inquire what was the matter. At last he broke out into a muttered
exclamation, "destitute of all principle! all labour in vain!"
"This whole day have I been at it, trying to bring him to reason about
"What? Did he wish the Dissenter to have it?"
"He saw no objection--treated all I said as the merest moonshine!"
"What? all the annoyance to the Wortleys, and the mischief to the poor
people!" exclaimed Marian, "Why, we should have a meeting-house!"
"Nothing more likely, in the Manor field, and fifty pounds
subscribed--all for the sake of toleration and Gerald's interests."
"You don't mean that he has done it?" said Marian, alarmed, and not
quite understanding Edmund's tone of irony, "Cannot you prevent it?"
"I have prevented It; I said that, with my knowledge of my uncle's
intentions, I could never feel justified in consenting to sign the
"And that puts a stop to it? Oh, I am very glad. But I suppose he was
"I never saw a man more so. He said he had no notion of sacrificing
Gerald's interest to party feeling."
"How could it be for Gerald's interest to bring Dissenters to Fern Torr?
I am sure it would be very disagreeable. I thought it, was quite wrong
to have any dealings with them."
"He has been popularity-hunting too long to have many scruples on that
Marian could not help triumphing. "Well, Edmund, I am glad you have come
to my opinion at last. I knew you would not like the Lyddells when you
knew them better."
"I never was much smitten with them," said Edmund, abruptly, as if
affronted at the imputation of having liked them.
"But Edmund," cried Marian, standing still in the extremity of her
amazement, "what have you been about all this time? Have you not been
telling me it is all my own fault that I do not get on with them?"
He was silent for a little while; and then turning round half-way,
as people do when much diverted, he broke out into a hearty fit of
laughter. "It is plain," said he, at last, "that nature never designed
me for a young lady's counsellor."
"What do you mean, Edmund?"
"I suspect I have done mischief," said Edmund, after a little
consideration, "and I believe all that remains to be done is to tell you
all, and come down from my character of Mentor, which certainly I have
not fulfilled particularly well."
"I am sure I do not understand you," said Marian.
"Well, then," said Edmund, speaking in a more free and unembarrassed
tone than he had used since he had been at Oakworthy, "this is the fact
of the matter, as Mrs. Cornthwayte would say, Marian. I always thought
it very unlucky that you were obliged to live here; but as it could not
be helped, and I really knew nothing against the Lyddells, there was no
use in honing and moaning about it beforehand, so I tried to make the
best of it. Well, I came here, and found things as bad as I expected,
and was very glad to find you steady in the principles we learnt at
home. Still, I thought you deficient in kindly feeling towards them, and
inclined to give way to repining and discontent, and I think you allowed
I was not far wrong. To-day, I must allow, I was off my guard, and have
made a complete mess of all my prudence."
"O, I am very glad of it," said Marian. "I understand you now, and you
are much more like yourself."
"Yes, it was a very unsuccessful attempt," said Edmund, again laughing
at himself, "and I am very glad it is over; for I have been obliged to
be the high and mighty guardian all this time, and I am very tired of
it;" and he yawned.
"Then you don't like them any better than I do," repeated Marian, in a
tone of heartfelt satisfaction.
"Stop, stop, stop; don't think that cousin Edmund means to give you
leave to begin hating them."
"Hating them? O no! but now you will tell me what I ought to do, since
there is no possibility of getting away from them."
"No, there is no possibility," said Edmund, considering; "I could not
ask the Marchmonts again, though they did make the offer in the first
fulness of their hearts. Besides, there are objections; I should not
feel satisfied to trust you to so giddy a head as Selina's. No, Marian,
it cannot be helped; so let us come to an understanding about these same
"Well, then, why is it that we do not do better? I know there are faults
on my side; but what are the faults on theirs?"
"Marian, I believe the fault to be that they do not look beyond this
present life," said Edmund, in a grave, low tone.
Marian thought a little while, and then said, "Caroline does, but I see
what you mean with the others."
"Then your conduct should be a witness of your better principles," said
Edmund. "You may stand on very high ground, and it entirely depends
on yourself whether you maintain that position, or sink down to their
"O, but that is awful!" cried Marian; and then in a tone of still
greater dismay, "and Gerald? O, Edmund, what is to become of him?"
"I must trust him to you, Marian."
"You have great influence over him, and that, rightly used, may be his
safeguard. Many a man has owed everything to a sister's influence."
Then, as Marian's eye glistened with somewhat of tender joy and yet of
fear, he went on, "But take care; if you deteriorate, he will be in
great danger; and, on the other hand, beware of obstinacy and rigidity
in trifles--you know what I mean--which might make goodness distasteful
"O, worse and worse, Edmund! What is to be done? If I can do him so much
harm, I know I can do him very little good; and what will it be when he
is older, and will depend less on what I say?"
"He will always depend more on what you _do_ than on what you say."
"But what can I do? all the schoolboy temptations that I know nothing
about. And Elliot--O, Edmund! think of Elliot, and say if it is not
dreadful that Mr. Lyddell should have the management of our own Gerald?
Papa never could have known--"
"I think, while he is still so young, that there is not much harm to be
apprehended from that quarter," said Edmund; "afterwards, I believe
I may promise you that he shall not be left entirely to Oakworthy
"And," said Marian, "could you not make him promise to keep away from
the stables? Those men--and their language--could you not, Edmund?"
"I could, but I would not," said Edmund. "I had rather that, if
he transgresses, he should not break his word as well as run into
temptation. There is no such moral crime in going down to the stables,
as should make us willing to oblige him to take a vow against it."
"Would it not keep him out of temptation?"
"Only by substituting another temptation," said Edmund. "No, Marian; a
boy must be governed by principles, and not by promises."
"Principles--people are always talking of them, but I don't half
understand what they are," said Marian.
"The Creed and the Ten Commandments are what I call principles," said
"But those are promises, Edmund."
"You are right, Marian; but they are not promises to man."
"I could do better if I had any one to watch me, or care about me," said
Edmund's face was full of sadness. "We--I mean you, are alone indeed,
Marian; but, depend upon it, it is for the best. We might be tempted not
to look high enough, and you have to take heed to yourself for Gerald's
"I do just sometimes feel as I ought," said Marian; "but it is by fits
and starts. O, Edmund, I would give anything that you were not going."
"It is too late now," said Edmund, "and there are many reasons which
convince me that I ought not to exchange. In a year or two, when I have
my promotion, I hope to return, and then, Marian, I shall find you a
finished young lady."
"Poor child," said Edmund, laughing.
"And you are going home," said Marian, enviously.
"Home, yes," said Edmund, in a tone which seemed as if he did not think
himself an object of envy.
"Yes, the hills and woods," said Marian, "and the Wortleys."
"Yes, I am very glad to go," said Edmund. "Certainly even the being
hackneyed cannot spoil the beauty or the force of those lines of
"What, you mean, 'Ah! happy hills; ah! pleasing shade?'"
"Yes," said Edmund, sighing and musing for some minutes before he again
spoke, and then it was very earnestly. "Marian, you must not go wrong,
Gerald must not--with such parents as yours----." Marian did not answer,
for she could not; and presently he added, "It does seem strange that
such care as my uncle's should have been given to me, and then his own
boy left thus. But, Marian, you must watch him, you must guard him. If
you are in real difficulty or doubt how to act, you have the Wortleys;
and if you see anything about which you are seriously uneasy with regard
to him, write to me, and I will do my utmost, little as that is."
"Yes, yes, I am glad to be sure of it," said Marian.
"Well, I am glad to have had this talk," said Edmund. "I did you
injustice, Marian; you are fit to be treated as a friend: but you must
forgive me, for it cost me a good deal to try to be wise with you."
"I think you have seemed much wiser since you left it off," said Marian,
"Somehow, though I was glad to hear you, it did not comfort me or set me
to rights before."
Edmund and Marian could have gone on for hours longer, but it was
already quite dark; and the sound of Elliot's whistle approaching
warned them that one was coming who would little understand their
friendship,--why the soldier should loiter with the little girl, or why
the young girl should cling to the side of her elder cousin. They went
in-doors, and hastened different ways; they saw each other again, but
only in full assembly of the rest of the family. And at last, soon after
breakfast the nest morning, Marian stood in the hall, watching Edmund
drive from the door; and while her face was cold, pale, and still as
ever, her heart throbbed violently, and her throat felt as if she was
ready to choke. She heard of him at Fern Torr, she heard of him at
Portsmouth, she heard of his embarkation; and many and many a lonely
moment was filled up with tears of storm and tempest; of fever and
climate, of the lion and of the Caffre.
"Child of the town! for thee, alas!
Glad nature spreads nor tree or grass;
Birds build no nests, nor in the sun
Glad streams come singing as they run.
Thy paths are paved for five long miles,
Thy groves and hills are peaks and tiles,
Thy fragrant air is yon thick smoke,
Which shrouds thee like a mourning cloak."
And so Edmund was gone! But he had bequeathed to Marian a purpose and
an object, which gave her a spirit to try hard and feel out a way for
herself in this confused tangle of a world around, her. She was happier,
though perhaps more anxious; for now it was not mere vague dislike and
discontent, but a clearer perception both of the temptations around and
of the battle required of her.
In January the whole family went to London, the object of many of
Marian's terrors. Caroline and Clara were both sorry to go, and the boys
lamented exceedingly; Lionel saying it was very hard that the last two
months before his going to school should be spent boxed up there, with
nothing to do. Indeed the life of the schoolroom party was here more
monotonous than that at Oakworthy; for besides the constant regularity
of lessons, there was now no variety in the walks; they only paced round
the square, or on fine days went as far as the park.
And then there were the masters! Marian was in a state of great fear,
under the anticipation of her first lessons from them; but the reality
proved much better than she had expected. To be sure, she disliked the
dancing with all her heart, and made no great figure in music; but
people were patient with her, and that was a great comfort; and then she
thoroughly liked and enjoyed the lessons in languages and in drawing.
There were further advantages in the London life, upon which she had not
calculated, for here she was nobody, less noticed than Caroline, seldom
summoned to see visitors, and, when she went into the drawing-room,
allowed to remain in the back-ground as much as she pleased; so that,
though her eye pined for green trees and purple hills, and her ear was
wearied with the never-ceasing sound of wheels, London so far exceeded
her expectations, that she wrote to Agnes, that, "if there were no
smoke, and no fog, and no streets, and no people, there would be no
great harm in it, especially if there was anything for the boys to do."
The boys were certainly to be pitied; in a house smaller than Oakworthy,
and without the occupations out of doors to which they had been
accustomed, edicts of silence were more ineffectual than ever, and yawns
became painfully frequent. Every one's temper fell into an uncomfortable
state of annoyance and irritation; Miss Morley, instead of her usual
quiet, piteous way of reproving, was fretful; Caroline was sharp; Clara
sometimes rude like the boys, sometimes cross with them; even Marian
was now and then tormented into a loss of temper, when there was no
obtaining the quiet which she, more than the others, needed in order to
learn a lesson properly. Each day Lionel grew more unruly, chiefly from
the want of occupation, leading the other two along with him; and each
day the female portion of the party grew more inclined to fretfulness,
as they felt their own helplessness. It even came to consultations
between Miss Morley and Caroline whether they must not really tell of
the boys: but the evil day was always put off till "next time."
Gerald was riotous when Lionel and John made him so, but not often on
his own account; and he had more resources of his own than they had. His
drawing was a great amusement to him, though rather in a perverse way;
for he would not be induced to take lessons of the master, seldom drew
at the right time, or in the right place, and frequently in the wrong
"I never can learn except when I am drawing," he said, and his slate
was often so filled with designs, that the sums were jostled into the
narrowest possible space, while his Latin grammar was similarly adorned.
There sat the Muse in full beauty, enthroned upon Parnassus, close to
_musa musae; magister_ had a wig, and _dominus_ a great rod; while the
extraordinary physiognomies round _facies faciei_ would have been worthy
of any collection of caricatures. Moreover the illustrations of the verb
_amo_ commemorated the gentleman who was married on Sunday, killed his
wife on Wednesday, and at the preter-pluperfect tense was hanged on
Saturday. Other devices were scattered along the margin, and peeped out
of every nook--old men's heads, dogs, hunters, knights, omnibuses; and
the habit of drawing so grew upon him, that when he was going to read
any book where scribbling was insufferable, Marian generally took the
precaution of putting all pencils out of reach.
She often warned him to take care of the school-room Atlas; but, incited
by Lionel, he could not resist the temptation of putting a pipe in the
mouth of the Britannia who sat in a corner of the map of England. This
pipe she carefully rubbed out, but not till it had received from the
others a sort of applause which he took as encouragement to repeat the
offence; and when next Marian looked at Britannia, she found the pipe
restored, and a cocked hat on the lion's head. Again there was much
merriment; and though Miss Morley, more than once, told Gerald this
would never do, and he really must not, she could not help laughing so
much, that he never quite believed her to be in earnest, and proceeded
to people the world with inhabitants by no means proportioned to the
size of their countries. John-o'-Groat and his seven brothers took
possession of their house, Turks paraded in the Mediterranean, and in
the large empty space in the heart of Africa, Baron Munchausen caused
the lion to leap down the crocodile's throat.
It was about this time that Marian was one day summoned to the
drawing-room at an unusual time, and found Mr. and Mrs. Lyddell both
there looking exceedingly gracious. "Here is a present for you, Marian,"
said the former, putting into her hands a large thin parcel.
"For me! O thank you!" said Marian, too much surprised and embarrassed
to make much of her thanks; nor did her wonder diminish as, unfolding
the paper, she beheld a blue watered silk binding, richly embossed, with
the title of "The Wreath of Beauty," and soon there lay before her, in
all the smoothness of India paper and mezzotint, a portrait, beneath
which she read the name of Selina, Viscountess Marchmont.
"Selina!" repeated she, in the extremity of her amazement.
"Yes," said Mr. Lyddell, resting there in expectation of renewed and
eager acknowledgements; but all he received was this--"Can that be
"It is said to be a very good likeness," said Mrs. Lyddell.
"O!" cried Marian, and there she checked herself.
"Mr. Lyddell was quite struck with the resemblance to you," added Mrs.
The astonishment of Marian's glance was greater than ever, but here
she bethought herself that Mr. Lyddell had intended to give her great
pleasure, and that she was very ungrateful; whereupon the room seemed to
swim round with her in her embarrassment, and with a great effort she
stammered out something about his being very kind, and her being very
much obliged to him; and then, perceiving that she ought to add more, in
order to satisfy that judge of politeness, Mrs. Lyddell, she said that
it was a long time since she had seen Lady Marchmont, and that she could
not so well judge of the likeness; and then she bore it away to sigh and
wonder over it unrestrainedly with Gerald.
No wonder the Lyddells were surprised, for Lady Marchmont's portrait was
incomparably the most beautiful in the book; the classical regularity of
the features, the perfect form of nose and chin, the lovely lip, and the
undulating line of the hair, all were exquisite; the turn of the long
neck, the _pose_ of the tall graceful figure, and the simple elegance
of the dress, were such as to call for great admiration. But all that
Marian saw was an affectation in that twisted position,--a straining
round of the eyes, and a kind of determination at archness of expression
in the mouth. Where was the merry, artless, sweet-looking Selina she
remembered, whose yet unformed though very pretty features had faded
from her memory, and left only the lively, good-natured expression
which, here she sought in vain?
"O Selina, Selina, can you be like this'?" exclaimed she; "and to think
of their saying I am like it! I am sure I hope one is as true as the
Gerald drew his face into a horrible caricature of the expression in the
portrait, and set his sister laughing.
"I hope I shall never see her If she has grown like it," said she,
"I should take the stick to her if she was," said Gerald.
"I am afraid it must be too true," said Marian, "or she would never
allow herself to be posted up in this absurd way. I wonder Lord
Marchmont allows it!"
"I'll tell you, Marian," said the sympathising Gerald, "if I had ten
beauties for my wife--"
"Ten beauties! O, Gerald!"
"Well, one ten times as beautiful as Selina, I mean; I would cure her of
vanity well; for I would tell her that, if she chose to have her picture
drawn in this Book of Beauty, it should only be with a ring through her
nose, and two stars tattooed on her cheeks."
"And a very good plan too," said Marian, laughing; "but I am afraid
poor Selina cannot be in such good hands. See, here are the impertinent
people writing verses about her, as if they had any business to ask
her what she is thinking about. Listen, Gerald; did you ever hear such
"Lady, why that radiant smile,
Matching with that pensive brow,
Like sunbeams on some mountain pile
Glowing on solemn heights of snow?
"Lady, why that glance of thought,
Joined to that arch lip of mirth,
Like shade by fleecy cloudlet brought
Over some paradise of earth?
"Yea, thou may'st smile, the world for thee
Is opening all its fairest bowers;
Yet in that earnest face I see
These may not claim thy dearest hours.
"But for thy brow, thy smile we deem
The gladsome mirth of fairy sprite;
But for thy smile, thy mien would seem
Some angel's from the world of light.
"Yet laughing lip and thoughtful brow
Are depths and gleams of mortal life;
Angel and fay, of us art thou,
Then art a woman and a wife!"
"What would they have her to be? a husband?" said Gerald.
Here Caroline and Clara came hastily in, eager to see the portrait and
read the verses, and very far were they from being able to imagine why
she did not like the portrait. Caroline owned that there might be a
little affectation, but she thought the beauty very considerable; and as
to Clara, she was in raptures, saying she never _did_ see any one half
so lovely. And as to the verses, they were the sweetest things she
ever read; and she carried them off to show to Miss Morley, who fully
sympathised with her. Marian found no one to share her opinion but
Gerald and Lionel, and their criticisms were unsparingly extended to
Lady Marchmont's features, as well as her expression, "Such mincing
lips! such untidy hair! Hollo! who has given her a black eye?" till they
had not left her a single beauty.
Marian hoped the subject was quite forgotten, when she had hidden
away the book under all her others: but the nest time there was a
dinner-party, Mrs. Lyddell desired her to fetch it, to show to some one
who knew Lady Marchmont. She took it up stairs again us soon as she
could, but again and again was she obliged to bring it, and condemned to
hear it talked over and admired. One day when she was going wearily and
reluctantly up stairs, she was arrested by a call from Lionel, who
was creeping up outside the balusters in a fashion which had no
recommendation but its extreme difficulty and danger.
"Eh, Marian, what, going after beauty again?"
"I wish it was Beauty and the Beast," said Marian, disconsolately.
"There are different tastes in the world, that is certain; but don't
break that neck of yours, Lionel."
Lionel replied by letting go with one hand and brandishing that and his
foot over the giddy space below. Marian frowned and squeezed up her
lips, but did not speak till it pleased him to draw himself in again,
and throw himself over the balusters before her, saying, "That is a
reward for you, Marian; Clara would have screeched."
The next time Marian was desired to fetch the book, it was for a morning
visitor,--a broad, stately, pompous old lady, who had had the pleasure
of meeting Lady Marchmont, and thought Miss Arundel very like her.
"Are you going after beauty?" said Lionel, again meeting Marian on the
"Yes," said Marian, with a sigh.
"Well, I hope she will be pleased, that's all," said Lionel.
Marian thought there was a meaning in this speech, but she was in haste,
and without considering it, ran down stairs again. As she was opening
the drawing-room door, she saw Gerald on the top of the stairs, calling
to her, "Marian, have you that book? O, wait--"
"I cannot come now, Gerald," said she, entering the room, and shutting
the door after her. She laid the book on the table, and the page was
"O beautiful!" exclaimed the old lady, "How exact a likeness!"
"Why, Marian!" broke involuntarily from Mrs. Lyddell, and Marian,
looking at the print, could, in spite of her dismay, hardly keep from
laughing; for the elegant Lady Marchmont now appeared decorated with a
huge pair of mustachios, an elaborate jewelled ring in the nose, and a
wavy star on each cheek, and in the middle of the forehead; while over
the balustrade on which she was leaning there peeped a monster with
grotesque eyes, a pair of twisted horns, a parrot's beak, vulture's
claws, and a scaly tail stretching away in complicated spires far into
the distance. No one could for a moment doubt that this was Gerald's
work, and Marian felt sure that he had been thereto incited by Lionel.
Extreme was her consternation at the thought of the displeasure which he
had incurred; but in the mean time there was something very amusing
in the sight of the old lady beginning to perceive that something was
wrong, and yet not able to make it out, and not choosing to own her
difficulties. Mrs. Lyddell, though vexed and angry, carried it off very
well. "Ah! some mischief of the boys," said she, decidedly. "I am afraid
it is not fit to be seen." And so saying, she closed the book, and
changed the conversation.
As soon as the visitor had taken leave, the scene was changed; Mrs.
Lyddell walked hastily to the table, threw open the book, and began to
examine into the degree of damage it had suffered. "I suppose you know
nothing of this, Marian?" said she, surveying her with one of her
quickest and most formidable glances.
"O no," said Marian; "I am sure I am very sorry."
"Well, I must inquire about it," said Mrs. Lyddell, taking up the
book, and hastening towards the school-room, followed by poor Marian,
trembling with all her heart for her brother, and somewhat for Lionel,
even though she could not help being angry with him for having got
Gerald into such a scrape.
There stood the boys, looking partly exulting, partly frightened; Lionel
a little more of the first, Gerald a little more of the second; for
this was Gerald's first desperate piece of mischief, whereas Lionel had
survived many such. Besides, Gerald's handiwork was too evident to be
mistaken, while his companion's part in the folly could be known to no
one; and though it might be guessed at by Marian, Lionel thought she
might be trusted.
The book was spread upon the table, and the expressions of horror from
the three ladies of the school-room were as strong as could reasonably
"Indeed," pleaded Miss Morley, in her deplorable tone, "I am continually
ordering Sir Gerald not to scribble in books, but he never will obey."
"That is not true!" cried Gerald, in a loud, startling voice.
"Gerald," said Mrs. Lyddell, "that is no proper manner of speaking; you
have behaved very ill already--do not add to your fault. Before any more
is said, beg Miss Morley's pardon."
There was a silence, and she repeated, "I desire that you will ask Miss
Morley's pardon directly--still silent? what is the meaning of this?"
Gerald stood bolt upright, and very rigid; poor Marian glancing
appealingly, first at him, then at Mrs. Lyddell, then at Miss Morley,
all equally without effect. She saw it all--that he might have been
brought to own that be had done wrong about this individual case; but
that the sweeping accusation of disobeying orders, which, as they all
knew, were never given with anything like decision, had roused a proud,
determined sense of injustice, and that he was ready to suffer anything
rather than apologise. She was wild to speak, to do something; yet what
could she attempt?
Mrs. Lyddell would not begin upon the book-scribbling subject till she
had conquered the spirit of defiance, and continued to insist on his
begging Miss Morley's pardon; but the more she ordered, the more
determined he grew. There he stood, his proud, dark eye fixed on a
picture on the wall, his lip curled with a sort of disdain, and an
expression in his whole motionless figure that, had his cause but been
good, would have been resolution, whereas it now was only indomitable
self-will and pride.
At any rate, it was an expression that showed that he was not to be
conquered by woman, though he might have been won over by her: and Mrs.
Lyddell had tact enough to give up the battle without owning herself
defeated, and without further discussion said, "Go to your own room,
Gerald; I shall give you time to reflect and get the better of your
obstinacy. You may come here again when you are ready to ask Miss Morley
to forgive you for your very improper conduct towards her."
Without turning to the right or left,--without one look towards his
sister, Gerald walked out of the room, and even shut the door after him
gently. Poor Marian, who could guess all that she felt?
"This is very extraordinary," said Mrs. Lyddell, "so well-behaved a boy
as he is in general."
"Ah! boys of his age always get quite beyond ladies' management," said
"Such determined obstinacy!" said Mrs. Lyddell.
"Perhaps he did not understand you," said Marian, unable to keep from
saying something, though she could not in her agitation think of
anything to the purpose.
"Understand? that is nonsense, Marian. What was there to understand?
He spoke very improperly, find I desire him to apologise; and if he is
obstinate, it is very wrong of you to defend him."
Marian was silenced, though her heart was swelling and her temples
throbbing. In another minute Mrs. Lyddell was summoned to some more
company, and Marian had nothing worse to hear than her companions'
commiseration for the book, and declarations that India rubber would do
it no good.
The afternoon passed away, and nothing was heard of Gerald: indeed,
Marian understood him well enough to expect that nothing would be heard.
As she was on her way to her own room, looking wistfully at his door,
Lionel overtook her; and thumping her hard on the back, exclaimed,
"Isn't it a jolly beast, Marian?"
"O, Lionel, it was very naughty of you. How could you make Gerald behave
"Never mind, Marian, he will get out of it soon enough. Come, don't be
savage; we did it all for your good."
"My good! how can you talk such nonsense?"
"Why, I'll bet you anything you like, that mamma will never be for
having the little beastie down to show the company."
Marian half smiled; it was pleasant to find that, towards her at least,
the boys' intention had been anything but unkind, but still she hardly
knew how to be placable with Lionel when he had led her brother into
mischief, and then left him to bear all the blame.
"It was very wrong," she repeated.
"Come, don't be cross, Marian. You don't mean that you really cared for
that trumpery picture?"
"I did not care for it so much," said she, "but it was a valuable book,
and it was very kind of your papa to give it to me, so I was sorry to
have it spoilt."
"Won't it rub out?" said Lionel.
"No, of course not."
"I thought pencil always did."
"And then, Lionel, why could you not have thought what disgrace you were
leading Gerald into?"
"You don't think, Marian, I was going to be shabby enough to leave
Gerald alone in the scrape? No, if I do, I'll give you leave to tell of
me or do whatever you please; but you see now he is not in disgrace for
drawing that pretty little beast, but for giving poor unfortunate a bit
of his mind, so what use would there be in my putting my neck into the
noose before my time? No, if Gerald is the fellow I take him for, and
stands out about begging her pardon, the whole business of the book will
blow over, and we shall hear no more of it."
Marian shook her head. "O, Lionel, if you would only think whether a
thing is right before you do it!"
"How can you wish me to be so stupid, Marian?"
"I am sure, Lionel, the funniest, merriest people that I know, think
most about what is right."
"Well, that may do in Devonshire perhaps," said Lionel, stretching
himself, "but it won't here except with you. Indeed there is nobody else
that I know of that does make such a fuss about right and wrong, except
Walter, and he hasn't got an atom of fun to bless himself with."
"But, Lionel, what good will all the fun in the world do us when we come
to die?" said Marian, whispering.
The boy looked full at her, but would not show that he felt any force
in her words. "I don't mean to die just yet," he said, and by way of
escaping from the subject he mounted on the balusters, and was sliding
down as he had often done before, when by some hitch or some slip he
lost his balance, and slid down without the power to stop himself.
Marian thought him gone, and with suspended breath stood, in an agony of
horror, listening for his fall on the stones of the hall far beneath;
but the next moment she saw that he had been stopped by the turn of the
staircase, and the instinct of self-preservation had made him cling fast
to the rail with both hands, though he was unable to recover his footing
on the narrow ledge of the steps beyond it. She did not scream or call,
she ran down to the landing place--how she did it she knew not--but she
threw her arms round him and succeeded in lifting and dragging him over
the rail, which was not very high, till he stood on the safe side of the
balusters, Her heart beat, her head swam, and she was obliged to sit
down on the step and pant for breath; Lionel leant against the wall,
for his nerve was not restored for a moment or two, after his really
frightful peril. Not a word was spoken, and perhaps it was better that
none should pass between them. Mr. Lyddell's step was heard ascending,
and they both hurried away as fast as they could.
No one was told of the adventure, it was not Marian's part to speak
of it, if indeed she _could_ have done so, and it did not appear that
Lionel chose to mention it. Perhaps it was that he did not like to enter
upon it seriously, and it had been too much of an answer to his light
speech to be made a laughing matter. At any rate he was silent, and
Marian was very glad of it.
Mr. Lyddell was coming up to visit the prisoner and try if he could
bring him to reason, but it soon transpired that all his attempts had
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