The Two Guardians
Charlotte Mary Yonge
Part 4 out of 8
"Stuff! I'll take care of that!"
"If you would only tell me what you want it for?"
"I tell you, Marian, I can't do without it; I don't know what I shall
do, if you won't give it to me."
"Debts! O Gerald, you have not got into debt?"
"Well, and what do you look so scared about? Do you think they will kill
"O, Gerald, Gerald, this proves it all."
"It? what?" said Gerald. "Come, don't be so like a girl! I have not been
doing any thing wrong, I tell you, and it is all your fault if I can't
"With such an allowance as you have, O Gerald, how could you? And how
could you throw about money at home, when you knew you were in debt?"
"You talk as if I had been ruining my wife and ten small children,"
cried Gerald, impatiently. "A fine fuss about making a few pounds stand
over till next half. But you women go headlong at it, never see the
rights of a thing. So, you won't? Well, it is your doing now!"
"I can't see any end to it," said Marian, reflectingly. "If I thought
you would make a resolution--but you will be without money at all, and
how are you to get through this half? O, Gerald! better write to Mr.
Lyddell at once, and he will set you straight, and you can begin fresh."
Gerald made a face of utter contempt. The steam whistle was heard; they
were stopping. "There is an end of it, then" said he, angrily. "I did
not think you had been so ill-natured; it is all your fault, I tell you.
I thought you cared for me."
This was dreadful; Marian's purse was in her hand, and she began "O
Gerald dear, anything but that!"--when they found themselves close in
front of the station, and Lionel pulling at the door of their carriage,
and calling fiercely to the porter to unlock them.
Caroline was standing on the platform, and there was a tumult of
greetings and inquiries for luggage to be taken out and put in. Gerald
ran to see that his goods were separated from his sister's; Lionel shook
hands with Marian, and scolded her for staying away all the holidays;
roared to the porter that his portmanteau was for Slough, then turned
again to say, "You've heard of poor unfortunate, Marian?"
The bell rang; Gerald ran back; Marian knew she was weak, but could
not help it,--she squeezed the two sovereigns into his hand, and was
comforted for the moment by his affectionate farewell. Lionel and he
threw themselves into their carriage, and were whisked off.
"There!" said Caroline. "Now come along. O, I am so glad you are come; I
have so much to say."
Marian could not dwell on Gerald; she put her arm within Caroline's,
looked back to see Fanny safe under the care of an Oakworthy footman,
and soon was in the carriage.
"Well, Caroline; and how is every one?"
"Pretty well, considering the revulsion of ideas we have all undergone.
Poor Miss Morley left plenty of farewells for you. You can't think haw
pleased she was with your message."
"Poor thing! Where is she?"
"At her aunt's; she went on Monday. Mamma was impatient to have it over.
You know her ways."
Marian knew that this intimated that Caroline thought her mother had
not been kind; and she doubted whether to continue her inquiries;
but Caroline was too eager to tell, to wait for questions, and
proceeded:--"There had been dissatisfaction for a long time, as I
believe you may have guessed; mamma thought Clara backward, and wanting
in what Miss Morley calls 'the solid;' and at last, coming suddenly into
the schoolroom at twelve o'clock one fine day, she found reason good,
for they were very comfortably reading M. Eugene Sue."
"O, Caroline, impossible!"
"Too possible," said Caroline, "though I would not believe it at first.
However, they did not know what it was when they began, and were
afterwards too much bewitched with the story to leave off; and as they
felt it was wrong, they read it the more constantly to get it over
"But how in the world could they get such a book?"
"From the circulating library. It appears that they found the evenings
rather dull in London this spring, when we were all out, and so began a
little secret hiring, which was continued at Oakworthy, and with a worse
choice of books."
"That she should be so little to be trusted!"
"Nay, Marian, who could live with her half-an-hour in the schoolroom,
and think she could?"
"Certainly, she often puzzled me when first I came."
"And you never saw the worst. You always kept order, after you came."
"O, Caroline, what nonsense!"
"Yes, indeed you did. I do assure you that, scores of times, the
knowledge that your great eyes were wondering at me has kept me from
bullying Miss Morley into letting me do what I knew to be wrong. I could
persuade her and deceive myself, but I could not persuade you; and then
all the rest went for nothing, because you were sure to be right."
"It is very easy to see the right for other people," said Marian, with
rather a sad smile.
"Yes, only other people don't mind that, unless you do the right
for yourself; and that is the thing in you, Marian. If you had said
anything, I should not have minded it half so much; but your 'I don't
know,' cut me home."
"I am sorry--"
"No, don't be sorry, for I am glad. If you had not come before all the
good of Miss Cameron had gone off from me, what should I have been? O,
Marian, I am very glad you are come back; I did not know I liked you
half so well till you were gone."
"I am sure I might say the same" almost whispered Marian, in a choked
tone, under her bonnet. Caroline caught it up eagerly, and seizing her
by both hands, exclaimed, stooping forward to peep at her face, "Marian,
Marian, do you say so? And are you really not so very miserable at
coming back to us?"
A tear, one of Marian's very reluctant tears, actually rushed from her
eye, and with a hard struggle to speak, she said, "Miserable! how can
you say so? You are so very kind to me."
"And do you not hate us?" said Caroline, with, an arch look of delight,
then softened into something of mournfulness. "Nay, I did not mean that;
but you can bear to be with us after your own Agnes,--after those good
people,--after such a home as Fern Torr?"
"O, Caroline, this is very unlike my first coming to you!"
"Yes, I know we were not kind; we were not as we ought to have been to
"No, no, no; I was stiff and disagreeable; I would not be pleased," said
Marian, forgetting all coldness but her own.
"No wonder. O, Marian," and Caroline's voice trembled, "no one knows
better than I do how much there is to be lamented in our ways of going
on,--how different our house is from Fern Torr." Marian could not say
no. "You were too good for us; you are still, I would not see you like
us; but if we could make you comfortable enough to think Oakworthy not
an exile, but something like a home, how glad I should be!"
Marian laid her hand on Caroline's arm; and, with an effort that cost
her a spasm in her throat, she said, "You have!" Not another word could
she get out; but this was enough. Caroline kissed her for the first time
in her life, except at the formal partings at bed-time, and there were
tears on both their faces. After a time, Caroline broke into the flood
of thoughts in her cousin's mind, by saying, playfully, "When folks are
missed, then they are mourned, people say; and I am sure you deserve the
compliment, for till you were gone, I never knew your value. How many
silly fancies of Clara's have flourished, for want of your indifference
to put them down! How stupid it has been not to have you to read with,
or talk to! How lonely the drawing-room has been, and nothing but
nonsense if I went to the schoolroom. And then the boys,--Lionel has
been so unruly there was no bearing it, and grumbling for you every day;
and Johnny,--O, Marian, do you know it is settled that Johnny goes to
sea, after all?"
"Johnny! I know he wished it, but I thought Mrs. Lyddell never would
make up her mind to it."
"Ah! there have been storms in the higher quarters," said Caroline, with
would-be gaiety. "You are very lucky to have been away all this time,
for it has been by no means a serene sky. You know," she proceeded with
gravity, "they say the times are bad; well, in the midst of papa's
vexation at the tenants asking for a reduction of rent, in came a whole
lot of Elliot's long bills, which made papa lecture Walter and me one
whole evening on economy, and caused him to be extremely annoyed with
everything and everybody, and to say mamma must give up her opposition
to Johnny's being a sailor; and I never saw mamma take anything so
really to heart. It has been very uncomfortable; and in the midst came
this business of poor Miss Morley, who had rather harder measure in
"Poor little woman! Well, she was very good-natured," said Marian, glad
to turn the conversation from this account of family matters, not given
in the pleasantest style, but rather as if Caroline was trying to
conceal her real feelings by an air of satire.
"She was like a child in authority. You see, we, who know her well,
never think of blaming her as if she had originated the mischief; while
mamma, who never did know her, cannot be persuaded that she simply
yielded to Clara."
"That is not exactly the object one desires in a governess," said
Marian. "Well, poor thing! and how is Clara? is she very sorry?"
"I really can hardly tell. I have been vexed with Clara myself, to tell
you the truth; for I thought she acted shabbily. The blame passed over
her, and lighted on Miss Morley; and she did not stretch out a hand to
help her. Now Clara knew that it was wrong to read those books, just as
well as you or I; indeed, it was all her doing; and I could not bear
to see, her thinking herself innocent, and led into the scrape by Miss
Morley. She did cry excessively, and was very unhappy when she found
Miss Morley was really going, and the parting was heart-rending; but
then the very next day, in spite of their confidential friendship, she
began to disclose the poor woman's follies one after another, till I am
quite tired of hearing of them. They must have grown much worse than
they were in our time. I never knew then that she was always fancying
people were in love with her."
"T wonder what she will do!"
"She would not be a bad governess where the mother looked after the
children. Well, I hope she will soon get another situation, poor thing!"
"Yes, indeed, for I am afraid she never saved anything."
"O, no, she frittered all her money away, and always was poor at
quarter-day; and she has only that old aunt to take care of her."
"Poor thing, poor thing! If she would but have been firmer. And is Clara
to have another governess?"
"No, mamma thinks her too old; but I am sure I hope she is to develope
more. I do not think you or I were like her at fifteen."
"I think," said Marian, meditatively, "that Miss Morley and Clara helped
what--was not wise in each other."
"Yes, that is my hope,--that when Clara is out of her influence, she may
grow wiser. People's minds do grow at different times, you know. Poor
little Clara! I want Walter to talk to her, but it is hard to bring
about; for they seem to have no common subject. Ours is a very odd
household; we all go our own ways in our own worlds. Papa and mamma each
have their way; and Elliot his way. Walter stands alone too; then I am a
sort of connecting-link between the schoolroom set and mamma,--yes, and
with Walter too: while the three boys are a party by themselves. O,
Marian, no wonder you did not like us."
"Say no more of that, pray, Caroline."
She made no answer, but after a pause, suddenly exclaimed, "Nothing
would matter, if it was not for Elliot. He is the root of all that has
"Is he at home?"
"No; he went last week, and the storm lulled then. O, Marian, I am weary
of it all! But it is one comfort that you are come."
Caroline certainly looked very much harassed, and her words showed that
every one had been out of temper, and she had been obliged to bear it
all. Marian was very sorry, and felt quite fond of her, as she answered,
with a kind tone, "Thank you."
"Walter has been the only comfort; but then he has been very unhappy
too. I am afraid he knows more and worse of Elliot than he chooses to
tell me. And then he is so busy,--going up for his degree, you know,
after the vacation, and so nervous about it, that I have not liked to
talk to him about anything tiresome, because, poor fellow, he is
quite worried enough already. Well, but now tell me about pleasanter
things--your pretty Agnes, how is she? and Gerald?--I wanted to have
seen more of him. Was not he in glory?"
"O, yes," said Marian, as a pang shot through her at this recall of her
"And tell me the whole story of Saunders' wedding."
The two cousins had so much to say, that the long reaches of white chalk
road and the bare downs had hardly time to pain Marian's eye; and she
was surprised so soon to find herself in the well-known street of
It was not a hopeful prospect with which to return, after so happy a
summer as she had spent; and yet a degree of trouble gave Marian a
kindlier feeling towards the Lyddells. If it had not been for Gerald,
she would have arrived at Oakworthy in a bright temper. Even now the
discontent had been expelled by the dispositions fostered by Mr.
Wortley; and if there was a weight on her, it was not a burthen of
selfish repining,--the worst burthen of all. That Caroline had really
missed her,--that Caroline loved her,--was a discovery that warmed
her heart, and inclined her more than all before to look kindly on
Oakworthy, when she drove up to the door, and met Clara in the hall.
Clara hung upon her, and overwhelmed her with kisses; Mrs. Lyddell
received her just as she had done before; and Walter shook hands
cordially, as if he was very glad to see her again. The talk went on
about visits and engagements, and each moment made Marian feel that her
Sunday world had passed from her, and her workday world begun again.
Clara came to her room with her, partly to see her new maid, and partly
to talk with her about Miss Morley; but Marian, not wishing to have
Fanny immediately astonished by her random way of talking, gave a sort
of stern look and sign, which silenced poor Clara on that subject. There
were plenty more, however, and she talked on fast; indeed, Marian had
not two minutes alone that whole evening, till, somewhere towards
half-past eleven, her cousins bade her a final good-night.
She had time at last to think over that parting with Gerald, which had
hung heavily on her all this time, without her being able to enter upon
the subject with herself. What did it mean? Was it so very bad a sign?
Did it really confirm all her fears? or was it not possible that he
might have got into some chance difficulty? Might he not be careless and
extravagant, without being seriously in fault? Yes; but this was but of
a piece with other things which she had observed. Alone, it might not
have been so alarming; but even apart from this, she could not be quite
happy about him, after all she had observed. And had she been weak? had
she done what was bad for him? O, for some one to consult!--some one
under whose charge to put him! Was it her own fault that she had missed
the opportunity with Mr. Wortley!
To pray for him was all that could be done, and it in some degree
stilled that aching feeling in her heart. Yet, whenever she woke in the
night, she seemed to hear Caroline saying, "If it was not for Elliot!"
with a foreboding that "If it was not for Gerald!" might be on her
tongue in the same manner, for the rest of her life.
Every time Gerald's name was mentioned, there was a pang; every time
she thought of him in solitude, the fear and anxiety gained strength.
Consciousness of ignorance added to its poignancy; and young as she was,
it would be hard to describe how much suffering she underwent in secret,
night after night, as she lay awake, in her perplexed musings on that
one absorbing thought. Yet they were like those vague nightly terrors
of wolves, darkness, or mysterious horrors, from which little children
often suffer so much, without revealing them, and entirely shake off by
day; for Marian awoke in the morning to cheerfulness and activity, with
spirits undepressed, full of interest in things around; and only when
reminded of her fears, secretly wincing at the sudden throb of pain.
Marian's days were more at her own disposal than formerly. She might do
as she pleased all the morning,--sit in her own room, and choose her own
occupation; and she was just beginning to think over two or three bright
plans of usefulness. She would make a series of copies, from prints, of
Scripture subjects, for the Fern Torr children; she would translate some
stories for them, and she had devised many other things to be done; when
Caroline one day said to her, "Marian, I don't know if it is asking a
great deal, but if you could sit with us sometimes in the morning, it
would be a great gain. Mamma wants me to read with Clara. Now, you know
I have no authority; and doing it for a lesson, as if it was for Clara's
good, will only make her hate it, and pay no attention at all. But if we
read together, as if it was for our own benefit, she will join in, and
think it a womanly thing."
Marian smiled at the ingenuity of the scheme, such as she would have
been a great deal too awkward, as well as too straightforward ever to
devise. It was a case where "no" could not have been said, but there
were many ways of acting a no; and Marian was so sorry to give up the
Scripture drawings, the idea of which had greatly delighted her when
proposed by Agnes, that she had it in her heart to have backed out of it
as often as she could. A little thought, however, convinced her, that to
help Caroline's plans for her sister's good was the foremost duty, that
to avoid it would be positive wrong and unkindness; so she resolved
to lend herself to it with all her might, even though Agnes might be
And pray, why should Agnes be disappointed? Why were the drawing and
reading incompatible? Marian had taught herself to think it impossible
to do anything for Fern Torr, in public, for fear of being laughed at,
or observed upon; and these drawings, which were of sacred subjects, and
further involved some alterations of her own, would, she thought, be
worse than any. She mused a long time whether this was right feeling or
foolish bashfulness, and decided at last that it was a little of the
former trying to justify a great deal of the latter, and that Caroline
and Clara were not the same thing as Miss Morley and all the boys; so
with an effort, which, considering the occasion, was almost absurd in
its magnitude, she brought her portfolio down, began to draw, and did
not experience anything unpleasant in consequence. It was one of her
first practical lessons in the fancifulness of her shyness. Her cousins
took interest in what she was about, admired, and helped her to hunt
up subjects to make her series complete; indeed the three girls were
exceedingly comfortable together, and a pleasant, mutual good-feeling
constantly grew between them. Clara was certainly becoming less childish
and silly when no longer nominally under the authority of Miss Morley,
and the confidante of all her follies, but the companion of two sensible
girls, young and bright enough to enter into all the liveliness about
her that was not silliness and a great deal that was, and to drive away
some of her nonsense by laughing at it.
The mornings were thus pleasant and satisfactory, the afternoons were
less certain to be agreeable. If there was a ride, it was delightful,
if a walk, it was all very well; but there was a third contingency, to
which Marian had become liable, of being carried forth with her green
card-case on a morning visiting expedition by Mrs. Lyddell, and this was
one which required all her powers of resignation, though the misfortune
was much more imaginary than real.
There were three chances of the way of spending the evening too. The
first, the family party alone, this was pretty well, and though not
charming, was by far the best; Mrs. Lyddell's talk was agreeable, and to
sit with Caroline, and perhaps with the addition of Walter, at the small
table, working, reading, and talking, was as quiet and comfortable a way
of passing the time as might be. A dinner party at home was next best,
for she had her own quiet corners of conversation, and Walter would
sometimes come and take shelter there too, and get into a talk, as well
as if the room were empty of company, sometimes better, because his
mother could not hear him, and he was never so backward in telling his
real mind, as in her hearing. Worst of all was a party from home, where
she knew few persons, and disliked all she knew.
Unhappily, this was generally her feeling towards all the neighbourhood;
and though it may seem to be a strong expression, it is scarcely too
much to say that in Marian's habitual frame she looked on every one that
could be considered as company in the light of natural enemies, leagued
to prevent her walks and rides, to tease her, and to spoil her evenings.
This was partly the result of her constitutional shyness, but it would
have gone off, by this time, if she had not fostered it by imbibing Lady
Marchmont's exclusiveness. Marian would have been shocked to realize how
she despised and scorned her acquaintance--why? the answer would have
been hard to find--because they were company--because they were the
world--because they were Mrs. Lyddell's society--because she was
superior? How or why? She disdained them all, without knowing it, and
far less knowing why. She complied scrupulously with every rule of
formal politeness, and had become a tolerable mistress, by rote, of such
common-place small talk as served to fulfil her part, and make her not
feel herself absurd, but this was all; she would not let herself be
pleased or amused, she would not open her eyes to anything good or
agreeable about the people, except a very few favoured ones, chiefly
clergymen or their wives.
It was very wrong, it was Marian's one great fault at this period of her
life, and it had the effect of making her almost disliked. Clara had
scarcely said too much in telling Agnes that her pride was often
remarked, for Mrs. Lyddell's neighbours were just the people to fancy
pride where it was not, especially where the rank was superior to their
own. Tall, handsome, and outwardly self-possessed, Miss Arundel did not
gain credit, from superficial observers, for shyness, and was looked
upon as a very haughty ungracious girl, while it was whispered that Mrs.
Lyddell had had a great deal of trouble with her.
The autumn passed on in this manner, and towards its close, Elliot
returned from shooting in Scotland, and announced that his friend, Mr.
Faulkner, was coming to Oakworthy, to look at an estate, which was for
sale in the neighbourhood.
Mrs. Lyddell was pleased, and questioned her son about Mr. Faulkner's
thousands a-year; then turning to Marian, said,
"Surely, Marian, you know him; I heard of your meeting him and Lady
Julia at Lady Marchmont's."
"Yes," said Marian, with her face of rigidity.
"Ah! yes, to be sure, he told me so," said Elliot.
"Any one but Marian would be impatient to know what he said of her,"
"Do you want to know yourself, Caroline?" said Elliot; "shall I tell
"Yes, do," said Caroline, in her curiosity, forgetting that Marian might
"Ah! you ought to be warned if you want to set your cap at him, for
she has forestalled you. Let me see, what was it he said? O, that Lady
Marchmont would scarcely be alone in her glory long, for, for such as
liked the style of thing, her cousin was as perfect a piece of carving
in white marble as he ever had seen."
White marble was certainly not the comparison for Marian's cheeks at
that moment; it was pain and horror to her even to hear that she had
been spoken of between Elliot and Mr. Faulkner, and to be told it in
this manner, in public, was perfectly dreadful. She could neither sink
under the table nor run away, so with crimson face and neck, she kept
her post on the sofa, and every one saw she was intensely annoyed.
Elliot, who had told it in a mischief-making spirit, fancying he should
make his sister jealous, walked away, amusing himself with the notion
that he had sown the dragon's teeth; Caroline was very sorry to have
caused such painful blushes, yet was proud to hear of Marian's being
admired; and Mrs. Lyddell said not a word, but worked on with a jerk at
her thread, trying to persuade herself that she was not vexed that, as
Elliot said, her daughter had been forestalled.
Marian did not recover herself sufficiently to say one word about Mr.
Faulkner till she was in her own room, and then when Caroline came, to
pity her for her blushes, and apologize for having occasioned them, she
said, "O! how I wish he was not coming!"
"Why, don't you like him in return for his admiration?"
"He is a horrible man!" said Marian.
"Horrible, and why? What has he done to you? I am sure you are very
"Don't talk of it," said Marian, blushing furiously again, then
recollecting that she might give rise to a suspicion that he had already
said something to her, she added, "I don't--I don't mean anything about
"Well, but what do you mean? Is it really anything more than his being
Elliot's friend, and having dared to--."
"No, but Caroline, don't say anything about it; it was what I heard
about him at the Marchmonts."
"It does not seem fair to tell how they talked over their guests, so
don't repeat it again, pray."
"You seem to find it like having a tooth drawn. Well! I am sworn to
secrecy. I won't tell a living creature."
"I am sure I know hardly anything, only that Lord Marchmont thinks very
badly of him, and was quite sorry he had been asked to dinner. And he
spoke of his having taken up Germanism, and oh! Caroline, for a man's
faith to be unsettled is the worst of all, for then there is nothing to
fall back upon."
Caroline stood by Marian's fire, looking thoughtful for some moments.
"Yes," she said, "you and Walter are in the same mind there, but it is
not like what I was brought up to think. Miss Cameron used to teach us
that the being in earnest in believing was the thing rather than the
form of faith."
"O, Caroline, that cannot be right. We have been commanded to hold one
form of faith, and it must be wrong to set up another and hold it."
"Yes, but if people are not clear that only one was given to every one,
and that just as we say it is?"
"Then it is very bad of them!" said Marian indignantly, "for I am sure
the Bible is quite clear--one faith--the form of sound words--the faith
once delivered to the saints."
"I am quite clear about it," said Caroline.
"O, of course," said Marian, looking at her with a sort of alarm at her
speaking of the possibility as regarded herself of not being clear.
"But if people are not clear, what are they to do?"
"I don't know," said Marian, quickly; "only I hope I shall never have
anything to do with such people; I can't judge for them; I had rather
not think about them; it is of no use."
"Of no use--what, not if you could do such a person good?"
"Only in this way," said Marian, taking up her Prayer Book, and turning
to the Collect for Good Friday.
"Yes, but trying to convince?"
"I should be afraid."
"Afraid! Marian, I am sure nothing could hurt your faith."
"I would not try," said Marian, shaking her head sadly.
"But at that rate no one ever would be converted?"
"You forget that there are clergymen."
"Yes, but other people have done good."
"O yes, but not women by arguing. O no, no, Caroline, we never ought to
put our weakness forward, as if it could guard the truth. You know the
wrong side may find stronger arguments than we are able to do--mind I
don't say than can be found--of course truth is the strongest of all,
but we may be overpowered, though the truth is not. We women should not
stand out to argue for the truth any more than we should stand out to
fight as champions in the right cause."
"And is this the reason you never would argue?"
"I don't know--I mean no, it was only because I had nothing to say; I
knew when a thing was right, but could not tell why, and the more you
asked, the more I did not know."
"And do you know now?"
"Sometimes," said Marian, "not often, but Mr. Wortley taught me some
things, and one grows up to others. But I could never explain even when
"For instance--" said Caroline, laughing.
"O that came, I don't know how. Have I said so much?"
"A great deal that is very nice. Good night, Marian."
"She seemed some nymph in her sedan,
Apparelled in exactest sort,
And ready to be borne to court."
Mr. Faulkner came at the time appointed, and Caroline, who had kept
Marian's counsel, according to promise, was very curious to see how they
would behave towards each other. As to Marian, she was just what might
be expected,--more cold, distant, and stately than she had ever been to
the most vulgar of Mrs. Lyddell's acquaintance. She gave a chilling bend
to repel his attempt at shaking hands, made replies of the shortest when
he tried to talk to her, and would not look up, or put on the slightest
air of interest, at all the entertaining stories he was telling at
The others were all extremely pleased with him. Elliot had never before
brought home so agreeable a friend; a person who could talk of anything
but hunting and racing was a new thing among his acquaintance, and
every one was loud in his praise. Caroline, from having been prejudiced
against him by Marian's history, was more surprised than the others:
and scolded Marian, in the evening, for not having told them how very
agreeable he was.
"I never can think any one agreeable when I know there is hollowness
within," said Marian.
"I suppose Lord Marchmont knows," said Caroline, in a tone of annoyance
and of a little doubt; and there the conversation ended.
Few people were ever more agreeable than Mr. Faulkner. He had read
everything, travelled everywhere, and was full of conversation suited to
every one. If Marain had not heard Lord Marchmont's account of him, she
must have liked him; but knowing what she did, she could and would not:
looking at him something as Madame Cottin's Matilde first looked at
Malek Adel, and not suffering herself to lose any of her horror. For the
first day or two her frigidity was something wonderful, as she found
him inclined to make attempts to cultivate her acquaintance; but she
thoroughly succeeded in repelling him. He left off trying to talk to
her; and one day when they were obliged to go in to dinner together,
only exchanged the fewest and most formal of words with her, and
positively neglected her for his other neighbour.
After this, Marian did not quite so much overdo her stateliness. She
could afford to be like herself with the others, even when he was in the
room, though she never voluntarily took part in a conversation in
which he was engaged, and her coldest air came over her whenever he
approached. And it was well for her she could be so; for he stayed more
than a fortnight, decided on buying the estate of High Down, and was
asked to come again and make his head-quarters at Oakworthy, while
superintending the alterations. All were sorry when he went; even the
boys, whose first holiday week had been rendered very agreeable by his
good nature. Johnny and Gerald vied with each other in his praise,
heaping together a droll medley of schoolboy panegyrics; and Marian, not
wishing to tell them of her objections, allowed that he had been very
kind to them.
The Christmas holidays passed, and left no change in the impression on
her mind regarding Gerald; only she heard no news of her two sovereigns,
and he did not so much as give her the opportunity of speaking to him
alone. The heartache was growing worse than ever, and she was beginning
to have a sort of desperate feeling that she would--she would--do she
knew not what--write to Mr. Wortley--write more strongly to Gerald than
she had ever yet dared to do--when one morning, a foreign looking letter
arrived, in handwriting she knew full well, though it had never before
been addressed to herself. There was company staying in the house, and
Marian was not sorry it was impossible to read it at the breakfast
table. She did not know what she was eating or what she was saying, and
ran away with it as soon as she could, to enjoy it in her own room. A
letter from Edmund! Could it be possible, or could it--O disappointing
thought!--be only some enclosure for her to forward. In alarm at the
idea, she tore it open. A long letter, and quite certainly to herself;
for there stood the three welcome words, "My dear Marian." She glanced
hastily down the first page, to make sure that there was nothing the
matter; but no, it was all right--he wrote in his own lively style. He
began by saying it was so long since he had heard from England, that he
was growing afraid he was forgotten, and felt very small when the post
came in, and brought something for every one but him; and he was going
to try a fresh person, since he was growing desperate, and had sent
appeals in vain to all his correspondents. He asked many questions about
home friends, and about Marian herself; and then told much to
interest her about his own doings, his way of living, and his hunting
expeditions, with all the strange wild beasts with which they had made
him acquainted, and he concluded thus:--"I hope you will write soon, and
that you will be able to give me a flourishing account of Gerald. His
silence may mean nothing, but it may also mean so much, that to hear
he is going on particularly well would be double satisfaction just
at present. Therefore with a view to what passed in our last walk at
Oakworthy, tell me if you are completely satisfied with regard to him."
It was a ray of light upon all Marian's perplexities; showing her what
course to take, and filling her with hope. Her confidence in Edmund's
power of setting everything right was still unchanged, and when Gerald's
case was fully before him, he would know how to judge, and what to do;
it would all be safe and off her mind. She felt sure that this had been
the very reason of his writing; and full of gratitude, and infinitely
relieved, she opened her desk, as if to answer was the easiest and most
comfortable thing in the world.
She did not, however, get on quite as fast as she expected; she dreaded
equally the saying too much, or too little,--the giving Edmund actually
a bad impression of her poor Gerald, or letting him think that there was
no cause for anxiety. Then she thought the best way would be merely to
give the facts, and let him draw his own conclusions; but these facts
were in themselves trifles light as air, and it seemed unkind to send
them across half the world. She left off trying to write, and resolved
to give herself time for consideration; but time only made her more
perplexed. She waited a week, wrote at last, and as soon as her letter
was fairly gone, thought of forty different ways of saying the thing
better and more justly, dwelt again and again on each line that could
convoy a false impression one way or the other, and reproached herself
by turns for having spoken disadvantageously of her dear affectionate
brother, and for not having let her cousin fairly see the full extent of
the mischief. On the whole, however, she was much happier now that it
was all in Edmund's hands; so much so, that when Mr. Faulkner came
again, she could not be quite so stiff; and being entirely relieved
from the fear of his taking notice of her, could do him the favour of
laughing when he told anything amusing.
Winter and early spring came and went; the Easter holidays brought
Gerald home, and she tried again in vain to get him to write to Edmund;
but she could bear it better now that she had hopes.
They went to London, and Marian was carried into the midst of all the
gaieties supposed to befit her age and situation. Mrs. Lyddell would
have thought herself very far from "doing her justice," if she had
not taken her to all the balls and parties in her way; and Marian was
obliged to submit, and get into the carriage, when she had much rather
have gone to bed.
She put off the expectation of much enjoyment till Lady Marchmont should
come, and her arrival took place unusually late that season. She had
not been well, and little Willie had been somewhat ailing; so that the
bringing him into London air was put off as long as possible. It was not
till the latter part of May that she came, as she had always promised to
do, in time for Marian's presentation at court, on which both she and
Mrs. Lyddell were bent; and Marian ready to endure it, by the help of a
few romantic thoughts of loyalty. The day after Lady Marchmont arrived,
she called at Mrs. Lyddell's and came in, as she generally did once in
a year. After her visit was over, she asked Marian to come and take a
drive, and no sooner where they in the carriage, than she exclaimed, "A
nice looking girl, that Miss Lyddell! Is she the one who is to marry Mr.
"O, Selina! how could you have heard such nonsense?"
"What, is it to be denied? It is not settled, then?"
"No, nor ever will be."
"Why, surely the man has been spending months at Oakworthy."
"Only weeks; besides, he was buying a house."
"A very proper preliminary to a wife."
"O, no, no it is impossible!"
"But why? Perhaps you know some good reason to the contrary; for I heard
he admired you very much when he met you last year."
"Don't say such things, Selina. How could you fancy it possible, after
all the horrid things Lord Marchmont said of him!"
"What is impossible, my dear? That he should think you very handsome?"
"Don't, Selina, pray don't! That any body good for any thing should ever
"Any body good for any thing!" repeated Selina. "Well, granted,--and
it is a considerable grant,--does that make the supposition out of the
"Yes, as regards Caroline. O, Selina! you do not know Caroline, or you
would not look so incredulous!"
"Time will show," said Lady Marchmont, gaily. "I reserve to myself the
satisfaction of having known it beforehand."
"It never will be," said Marian. "And how is little Willie?"
"Very well, poor little man, if he would only grow, but he is so small,
that I am fairly ashamed to show such a hop-o'-my-thumb. But he is
coming out quite a genius; he reads as well as I do, and makes the
And the history of his wise speeches occupied them for some time, with
other matters, until just as their drive was nearly concluded, Selina
exclaimed, "But all this time I have never asked you if you can throw
any light on this extraordinary step of Edmund Arundel's?"
"What do you mean?" cried Marian.
"Have you not heard that he has exchanged, and is coming home? The most
foolish thing,--just as he might have been sure of promotion. It is not
likely to be health, for the climate agreed very well with him."
"Yes," assented Marian, wrapt in her own thoughts; "but did he write to
"Not a word; we only saw it in the Gazette, and Lord Marchmont would
hardly believe it could be he; but it was but too plain,--Lieutenant
Edmund Gerald Arundel. It is very strange; he was not wont to do foolish
"No," said Marian, mechanically.
"And you know nothing about it? You know him better than we do. Ho
seemed the very man for the Colonies, with no ties at home, unless--no,
it is impossible--unless there could be a lady in the case."
"O, no!" replied Marian colouring so much at the secret consciousness of
his motive, that Selina laughed, saying, "I could almost suspect you, in
spite of your demureness, of being the very lady. However, I am glad you
think there is no truth in my surmise, for he could not do a more absurd
thing than marry. Only when a man gives up all his prospects in this
way, there is nothing too preposterous to be expected to come next."
By this time they were at Mrs. Lyddell's door, and Marian gladly
escaped, feeling stunned at the effect her letter had produced. How
noble, how kind, how generous, how self-devoted Edmund was! this was the
prominent thought. She knew him to be very fond and very proud of his
regiment, to be much attached to several of his brother officers, and to
have given them more of his affection than persons with home interests
generally do; indeed, they had served him instead of home. All his
success in life, and his hopes of promotion, given up too,--sacrifices
which she could not estimate; and it was she who had caused them. She
had thoughtlessly led him to do himself all this injury, out of his
kindness and affection, and his sense of duty towards her and her
brother. She was very unhappy when she thought of this; then came the
bright ray of joy and relief in hope and confidence for Gerald,--Gerald
saved, saved from corruption, ruin, from being like Elliot, from
breaking her heart, made all that his father and mother would have made
him, her pride, her delight, the glory and honour of Fern Torr,--O,
joy, joy! And the mere seeing Edmund again,--joy, joy! Yes, the joy far
predominated over the pain and regret; indeed, be the injury to himself
what it might, who could be sorry that he had acted so nobly? Yes,
Marian was happy; her eyes were bright, her smile frequent; she laughed
with Clara, she romped with little Willie Marchmont, she was ungracious
to none but Mr. Faulkner who came to the house so much, that she began
to fear that Caroline might have the annoyance of an offer from him,
more especially since he had made his mother and sister call on Mrs.
Lyddell, and Miss Faulkner seemed to intend to be intimate.
The day of the drawing-room had come; Mrs. Lyddell and Caroline were
going, and Marian was of course to go with Lady Marchmont. She had just
been full dressed, and had come down stairs to wait for Lady Marchmont's
carriage, when a step was heard approaching. She thought it was the
servant, to announce it; it was the servant, but the announcement was
not what she expected. It was "Mr. Arundel,"--and Edmund stood before
her, browner, thinner, older, but still Edmund himself.
She could not have spoken; she only held out her hand, and returned his
strong pressure with all the force her soft fingers were capable of.
Mrs. Lyddell spoke, he answered, explanations were given and received,
and still she stood as if she was dreaming, until he turned to her, and
said, "Well, Marian, these are transformations indeed?"
"I can't help it," said Marian.
"Do you think I want you to help it? I suppose I need not ask if the
Marchmonts are in town?"
"Lady Marchmont presents Marian," said Mrs. Lyddell; "we expect her
carriage every minute."
And just then the announcement really came.
"Her carriage, not herself?" said Edmund. "Well, I think I might go
with you to her house, Marian, if your feathers are not ashamed of such
"O, pray come!"
"And you will return to dinner, I hope, Mr. Arundel," said Mrs. Lyddell,
"at half-past seven? Mr. Lyddell will be so glad to see you."
Edmund accepted the invitation, and the two cousins went down stairs
together. As soon as they were in the carriage, Edmund said, "A lucky
moment to come in. It is something to have seen you in all your
splendour. You have grown into something magnificent!"
"All this finery makes me look taller than I really am."
"Nevertheless, however you may try to conceal it, I am afraid you have
turned into the full grown cat. I saw it in your letter."
"O, Edmund, I am so sorry I wrote that letter."
"Why? Are you happier about Gerald?"
"No, I don't know that I am," said Marian, sighing; "but--but I little
thought it would make so much difference to you. I did not know what I
"I am glad of it, or you would not have written so freely; though after
all you could not have helped being like a sensible straightforward
"O, it is untold relief that you are come; and yet I must be sorry--"
"I won't have you sorry. No one should regret having told the honest
truth. The fact is, I ought never to have gone. And poor Gerald?"
"I have no more to say, only vague fears. But now you are come, it is
"Don't trust too much to me, Marian. Remember, it will be a generous
thing in Gerald if he attends to me at all. He is not obliged to do so."
"You will--you must do everything. Gerald is as fond of you as ever, I
know he is, though he would not write. O, I am glad! You heard of our
delightful going home, I hope?"
"Yes. All well there?" said Edmund, hurriedly.
"Very well. Agnes is grown so tall, and it is so very nice there. The
old Manor house--"
"Well," he broke in suddenly; "and how do you get on with Selina
"She is very, very kind. But O! here we are in her street, and I shall
have no more of you to-day."
"Not at dinner?"
"O; it is a great, horrid party, as Mrs. Lyddell should have warned
"Could not I take you in to dinner?"
"I am afraid not. Mrs. Lyddell will never treat me as if I was at home,
and I am afraid there is an honourable man that I must be bestowed on."
They had reached Lady Marchmont's door, and going up stairs, found her
looking like a princess in a fairy tale, in her white plumes and her
diamonds; and Willie, the smallest, most delicate, and prettiest of
little boys, admiring the splendours of his papa's yeomanry uniform.
In spite of being considerably provoked with Edmund for having come
home, Lord and Lady Marchmont welcomed him with as much warmth as if
it was the most prudent thing he could have done. They insisted on his
coming to stay at their house, and as it was full time to set off, left
him to see about his worldly goods being transported thither.
"Has he told you his reason, Marian?" asked Selina, as soon as the two
ladies and their trains were safely disposed of, in the carriage.
"I know them," said Marian, her colour rising, "and most noble they are;
but I had rather let him tell you himself."
"Marian's discretion again," said Lord Marchmont, smiling.
"Only set me at rest on one point," said Selina; "it is no love affair,
"No, indeed," said Marian; "or do you think he would have told me?"
Probably there were few young ladies who played their part that day in
the drawing-room, that last remnant of the ancient state and majesty of
our courts, with happier minds, or less intent on their own appearance,
than Marian Arundel. She was very glad when the bustle and crowd were
over, and she could be alone to enjoy the certainty that Edmund was
really at home again.
He came according to promise that evening, but she could not have much
conversation with him, as he was placed at a distance from her, the
greater part of the time. He was not sorry to be thus able to watch her,
though he did not see her in the point of view in which she pleased him
best. She looked better now, he thought, than in the court dress; for
the broad, simple, antique braids of her dark hair, only adorned by two
large pearl pins, suited better than the plumes and lappets, with the
cast of her classical features. All that he had thought promised
beauty, as a child, had fulfilled the promise, and the countenance, the
expression, would have been fine, seen on a much plainer face, and as
she eat there, her black, shady eyes cast down, her dark pencilled
eyebrows contrasting with her colourless cheek, and her plain white
drapery in full folds, flowing round her, she might have been some
majestic lady in a mysterious picture, who had stepped from her frame
into a scene belonging to another age. She looked as if she was acting a
tableau; she moved, indeed, and smiled, and spoke occasionally; but the
queen-like deportment of her neck did not relax; her lips resumed their
statue-like expression; there was no smile about the eye, no interest
in the air. She was among the company, but not of them; neither shy nor
formal, but as if she belonged to some other sphere, and had only come
there by mistake. Edmund could have counted the times, for they were
few enough, when her head bent forward with eagerness, and there was
animation in her face.
How different from Caroline! her brightly coloured, blooming face
sparkling with life and light; flowers among her light, shining hair;
her dress of well-chosen, tasteful, brilliant tints, ornament, lace
and ribbon, all well assorted in kind and quantity, her alert, lively
movements carrying her from one group to another, with something
pleasant and appropriate to say to all, bringing smiles and animation
with her wherever she went. Not that Edmund did not prefer his cousin's
severe simplicity, and admire it as something grand; but that stern
grandeur was not all that fitted the place; and though he thought her
beautiful, he was not satisfied.
Edmund had some talk with Mrs. Lyddell, who spoke of Gerald with great
warmth; more, he thought, than she showed in the mention of Marian. He
stayed till the last, and saw the relaxation of her grand company-face,
before he wished them good night.
"Well," said Mrs. Lyddell, as the door closed behind him, and she
lighted her candle, "Africa has not robbed Mr. Arundel of all his good
looks. How old is he?"
"Nearly twenty-eight," said Marian.
"I am always forgetting that he is so young," said Mrs. Lyddell. "Well,
good night. I wonder what brought him home?"
"I do not wonder, for it is plain enough," said Caroline, as the girls
turned up their own staircase.
"Marian tries to look innocent," said Clara, laughing violently.
"I am sure I don't understand," said Marian.
"Now I am sure that is on purpose to make us explain," said Clara. "It
is too bad, Marian; when he came straight to you, instead of going to
"And the tete-a-tete in the carriage," said Caroline.
"Don't be so ridiculous," said Marian; "but I believe you like such
jokes so well, that you would make them out of anything."
"I don't make a joke of it at all. I always thought it was with that
very view, he was made your guardian."
"You very absurd persons, good night!" said Marian, shutting her door,
and laughing to herself at such a very ludicrous idea as such a scheme
on the part of her father.
These kind of jokes, of which some people are still very fond, may be
very hurtful, since a young girl's inexperience may found far more upon
them than the laughers ever intended. Caroline and Clara were not acting
a kind part, though they were far from any unkind meaning. Marian had
great susceptibility and deep affections; and had her mind been less
strong, her happiness might have been seriously injured. Even if their
observations had no real meaning, and no effect on her heart, yet they
could not fail to occasion her many moments of embarrassment, and might
interfere with her full, free confidence in her best and earliest
In some degree they had this result. Marian began to be aware that her
situation with Edmund was not without awkwardness,--that he was still
a young man, and that she was now a young woman; and whilst shocked
at herself, and disliking the moment that had opened the door to the
thought, was obliged to consider how far there might be truth in the
She was quite sure that she had influenced him strongly, quite sure that
he regarded her with warm affection; she wished she was equally sure it
was with a brother's love. Yes, she wished, for to think otherwise would
lower him in her estimation. He was her first cousin, and if first
cousins had better not marry he would never think of it; besides, the
merit of his sacrificing all for Gerald's good would be lost, and
his return would have been an act of self-gratification instead of
self-devotion. No, she would not, could not believe any such thing; she
was certain Edmund never would be so weak as to wish to do anything only
doubtfully right, and thus, strangely enough, her full trust in the
dignity of his character, prevented her from imagining him in love with
Still she knew her cousins were watching her, and this prevented her
from ever meeting him in thorough comfort at Mr. Lyddell's; and even
when at Lord Marchmont's, her maidenly reserve had been so far awakened
as to make her shrink back from the full freedom of their former
intercourse. This, however, was more in her feeling than in her manners,
which, if they differed at all from what they were formerly, only seemed
to be what naturally arose from her growth in years.
She observed that he was not in good spirits. It was not what others,
not even Selina, could perceive, but Edmund and Marian had known each
other too well and too long, not to read each other's faces, and know
the meaning of each other's tones. She did not expect him to be as merry
as in olden days at home, nor did she desire it; but there was more
depression about him than she thought comfortable, and she was sure that
it was an effort to him to talk in the lively way that had once been
natural to him. She was afraid he felt the separation from his friends
in his old regiment very severely, or else that he was very anxious
about Gerald, and yet she had found out that the tenderest point of all
was Fern Torr, for he either would not or could not speak of that, but
always contrived to turn the conversation as soon as it was touched
upon. She grieved over his unhappiness a great deal, and yet would not
enter on any questioning, from an innate feeling, that it would not
be becoming. He was only to stay a very short time in London, before
joining his regiment at Portsmouth, and he meant to go and spend a day
at Eton to see Gerald, but Lady Marchmont suddenly proposed that they
should all go together; she said she must inspect Eton before Master
Willie was ready to go, and that it would be a charming scheme to take
Marian and surprise Gerald. Marian had a few secret doubts whether this
was exactly the most suitable way of fulfilling Edmund's intentions,
but it was so delightful a treat that she laid aside her scruples, and
Selina coaxed her husband into finding a day to accompany them.
So one fine June morning, the day before Edmund's departure, they set
off, Selina's high spirits and Marian's happiness giving the party a
very joyous aspect. Father Thames looked as stately and silvery as ever,
the playing fields smiled in the sunshine, and Windsor Castle looked
down on them majestically. Marian felt it a holiday to have escaped from
London into so fair a scene, and even if she had come for nothing else,
would have been happy in beholding some of the most honoured spots in
the broad realm of England.
She had many questions to ask, but Lord Marchmont was taken up with
showing his old haunts to his wife, and she was walking some distance in
front, with Edmund, on whose face there was an expression of melancholy
thought that she would not disturb. He was an Etonian, and how fall of
remembrances must all be around him.
Presently two or three boys met them running, and were passing them,
when Marion exclaimed, "There is Lionel!" "Lyddell!" called Edmund, and
one of them stopped, so taken by surprise that Marian was for a moment
horrified by thinking she had mistaken him; but the next glance
re-assured her, for she knew Lionel's way of standing, and his hat
pulled far over his forehead.
"Lionel," said she, "where is Gerald?"
"Hallo! You here!" said he, wheeling round so that the light might not
be in his eyes, and shading them with one hand while he tried to make
out Edmund, and gave his other hand to Marian.
"How did you come here? Are any of the people at home here?"
"No, this is my cousin Edmund. I am come with the Marchmonts."
"You have quite forgotten me," said Edmund, shaking hands.
"Not if I could see you," said Lionel, frowning at the light, as he
"O, Lionel, how bad your eyes are!" exclaimed Marion.
"I have just been reading, and there is such a _hideous_ sunshine
to-day," said Lionel.
"And where is Gerald?"
"I'll go and fetch him."
"Where is he?"
"I'll find him," and off he ran, with a fresh pull of his hat over his
forehead to keep off the hideous sunshine. The Marchmonts came up at the
moment, and were told who he was, and that he was gone to find Gerald.
Edmund asked what was the matter with his eyes.
"They are never very good," said Marian. "Reading and strong light
always hurt them."
"Has he had any advice?"
"The surgeon at Oakworthy looked at them last Christmas, when the snow
dazzled them, but he did not think there was much amiss with them. It
was always so. But where can Gerald be?"
In the space of about five minutes, Gerald and Lionel appeared, and the
former came up to them alone, with a look which had more of shyness than
of pleasure, and his greeting, while more courteous, was less open and
cordial than Lionel's had been. They all went together to the house of
the boys' tutor, who had also been Edmund's; there was a great maze of
talking and introductions: Lady Marchmont made herself very charming to
the mistress of the house: Edmund and the tutor disappeared together,
and did not come back till the others had nearly finished a most
hospitable luncheon; after which the visitors set out to see all that
there was time to see, and Marian caused Gerald to fetch Lionel to
Lionel walked with Edmund and Marian, but Gerald on the other hand
attached himself to Lord and Lady Marchmont, talking to them freely and
pleasantly, answering Selina's questions, much to her amusement and
satisfaction, and Lord Marchmont comparing notes with him, as old
Etonians delight to do with "the sprightly race, disporting" for the
time being, on the "margen green" of Father Thames. A particularly
lively, pleasant, entertaining, well-mannered boy was Gerald, but, all
the time, Marian was feeling that he was holding aloof both from her and
Edmund, never allowing either of them the opportunity of speaking to him
alone, for even a minute; and his manner, whenever Edmund either spoke
to him or looked at him, was such as to betray to her that he was ill at
Thus it was while they viewed the chapel, the court, with what Selina
was pleased to call "Henry's holy shade," the upper school, the hundred
steps, the terrace, and beautiful S. George's, with its gorgeous banners
and carved stalls, and blazoned shields, that glimpse into the Gothic
world of chivalry and romance; and in the midst of it that simple flat
stone, which thrills the heart with a deep feeling at once of love,
sorrow and reverence; that stone which recalls the desolate night which,
in darkness and ruin, amid torn banners, and scutcheons riven, saw the
Martyr king go white to his grave. Marian entered into all these things,
in spite of her anxiety, for her mind was free enough to be open to
external objects, now that her brother was in Edmund's hands, and she
was relieved of that burthen of responsibility which had so pressed on
Such was their Eton day, and with no more satisfaction from Gerald did
they part at the Slough station. The Marchmonts were loud in his praise,
Marian sought the real opinion in Edmund's eyes, but he was leaning
back, looking meditative, and when first he roused himself to enter into
conversation, it was of Lionel and not of Gerald that he spoke.
"Do you say that any one has looked at that boy's eyes?"
"Yes, Mr. Wells, the Oakworthy apothecary."
"Do you know what is thought of him?"
"I don't know," said Marian considering. "He attends a good many people,
I believe he is thought well of; but no one ever is ill at home, so I
have no experience of him. Yes, he was called in once when we all had
the measles, and last winter about Lionel's eyes. I am sure I don't know
whether he is what you would call a good doctor or not; all I know is,
that he is not at all like Dr. Oldham."
Edmund smiled. "Has Mrs. Lyddell not been uneasy?"
"O no!" said Marian. "No one ever troubles their head about Lionel,
besides it was always so."
"His eyes were always weak, and easily tired and dazzled, from the very
first when I knew him. They don't look as if there was anything amiss
with them, and so people don't suspect it."
"I think they do look very much amiss," said Edmund. "Do not you observe
an indistinctness about the pupil, between it and the iris? Can you tell
whether that was always the case?"
"I don't know, I see what you mean. I should say it had begun of late.
Do you think it so bad a sign?" she asked anxiously.
"I am not sure; I only know if he belonged to me, I should not like it
Marian pondered and feared, and considered if it would be possible
to stir up Mrs. Lyddell; she herself was much startled, and rather
indignant; but she doubted greatly whether poor Lionel was of sufficient
importance in the family for any one to be very anxious on his account.
In the meantime, she was extremely desirous of hearing what account
Edmund had received from the tutor respecting her brother, but she had
no opportunity till late in the evening, when he came and sat by her on
the sofa, saying, "Now, Marian, I will answer your anxious eyes, though
I am afraid I have nothing very satisfactory to tell you. I don't know
that there is any positive harm--it is only the old story of a clever
boy with too much money, and too much left to himself. Idleness and
"And what shall you do?"
"I don't know--I must think."
Whereupon they both sat silent.
"I shall see you again in the summer," said he.
"O yes--perhaps you will come in Gerald's holidays."
Another silence, then she said, "Do you think very badly of poor
"No, I don't say that, for I know nothing, only I wonder his family are
not more anxious."
"I shall see if Mrs. Lyddell will believe there is cause for alarm."
The carriage was announced, she wished him good-bye again, thanked her
cousins for her pleasant day, and departed, wondering to herself how it
could have been a pleasant day, as after all it had been, in spite of
doubt and anxiety and care.
She told Mrs. Lyddell when she came in, that she had seen Lionel.
"How were his eyes?" asked Caroline.
"I am afraid they were more dazzled than usual."
No one said anything, and after a pause she went on. "Edmund remarked
a sort of indistinctness about the pupil, which he said was not a good
"What was that?" said Mr. Lyddell looking up, and Marian, startled, yet
glad to have attracted his notice, repeated what she had said. "Did not
Wells look at his eyes last winter?" he said, turning to his wife.
"Yes, he said he could not see anything the matter with them--they must
be spared--and he sent a mixture to bathe them. Lionel has been using it
"How would it be to have him up here to see some one?" said Mr. Lyddell.
"Better wait for the holidays," answered his wife. "It would be the
worst thing possible to set him thinking, about his eyes in the middle
of the half-year. Little as he does now, it would soon be less, and his
eyes have kept him back so much already that he really cannot afford to
lose any more time."
There it ended, Mrs. Lyddell was not to be alarmed; she had been too
long used to prosperity even to contemplate the possibility that harm
should come nigh to her or to her dwelling. Mr. Lyddell, who left all
family matters to her, forgot all about it, and though Marian talked
Caroline into some fears on the subject, Caroline could do no more than
she could herself.
"_Benedict_. What, my dear Lady Disdain, are you yet living?"
"_Beatrice_. Is it possible Disdain should die while she has such
meet food to feed her?"
_Much Ado about Nothing._
The Lyddell family did not continue in London much longer; it had been a
short season, and though the session of Parliament was not over, most
of the ladies were taking flight into the country, before the end of
June,--Mrs. Lyddell among the rest,--and her husband went backwards and
forwards to London, as occasion called him.
The girls were glad to get into the country, but Marian soon found that
she had not escaped either from gaieties, or from the objects of her
aversion; for Mr. Faulkner brought his mother and sisters to High Down
House, gave numerous parties there, and made a constant interchange of
civilities with the family at Oakworthy. Archery was pretty much the
fashion with the young ladies that year; it was a sport which Marian
liked particularly, having often practised it with Edmund and Agnes, and
her bow and arrows were always the first to be ready.
One day when Marian, Caroline, and Clara were shooting on the lawn at
Oakworthy, Mr. and Miss Faulkner rode from High Down, came out on the
lawn, and joined them. From that moment, any one could see the change
that came over Marian. Instead of laughing and talking, teaching Clara,
and paying only half attention to her own shooting, she now went on as
if it was her sole object, and as if she had no other purpose in life.
She fixed her arrows and twanged her string with a rigidity as if the
target had been a deadly enemy, or her whole fate was concentrated in
hitting the bull's eye; and when her arrows went straight to the mark,
or at least much straighter than those of any one else, she never
turned her head, or vouchsafed more than the briefest answer to the
The others were talking of archery in general and in particular,--just
what, if it had not been Mr. Faulkner, would have delighted her; but
she would not hear him. He might speak of the English long-bow, and
the cloth yard-shaft, and the butts at which Elizabeth shot, and the
dexterity required for hitting a deer, and of the long arrow of the
Indian, and the Wourali reed of South America,--as long as he spoke it
was nothing to her, let Caroline smile and answer, and appeal to her as
much she would. Then came a talk about archery meetings and parties, in
which at last they all grew so eager, that they stood still round the
return target, and Marian could not shoot back again without perilling
them; so she unstrung her bow, and stood apart with a stern face, which
made her look a great deal more like Diana, than she by any means
suspected or desired.
Two days after, there came a note from Miss Faulkner,--Julia, as she had
requested to be called,--saying that her brother was so delighted with
the archery schemes that had been discussed, that he could not give them
up, and intended to give a grand fete at High Down,--archery in the
morning, a ball in the evening, and all the ladies who liked, to be in
costume. She ended by begging Caroline to come to luncheon that day, or
the next, to enter into council on the subject. There was great delight;
such an entertainment was quite a novelty in the neighbourhood, and the
costume seemed to make it all the more charming in the eyes of Caroline,
Clara, and their mother; all were talking at once, and wondering what it
could or should be, while Marian went on reading imperturbably without
"It ought to be in Robin Hood's time, if only for the sake of Maid
Marian," said Caroline. "She will be quite sure to win the prize."
"O yes, that she will," said Clara; "she shoots so much better than any
"I shall not shoot in public," said Marian, looking up for a moment, and
then going on with her book.
"You will do nothing to make yourself particular," said Mrs. Lyddell:
"it will be very silly to set your face against this fete, when every
one knows how fond you are of archery."
"We don't know anything yet about what is to be," said Caroline,
quickly; and at that moment Elliot, coming in, offered to ride with her
to High Down, whereupon she hastened to get ready. Such an obliging
offer from her brother was certainly too uncommon a thing to be
neglected, in spite of the unwonted graciousness and amiability which
Elliot had for the last few weeks assumed towards her.
When she was gone, Marian and Clara resumed their ordinary occupations,
and one of them at least troubled herself no more about the fete, until,
shortly before dinner time, Elliot, Caroline, and Mr. Faulkner all rode
up to the front door. Mr. Faulkner, it appeared, was come to dinner, and
to carry on the consultation, since he was extremely eager about the
scheme, and no time was to be lost in sending out the invitations.
The Sherwood Forest plan had been talked over, and abandoned as too
common-place. It was to be a Kenilworth fete; eight young ladies of Lady
Julia's especial party were to appear in the morning in a pretty uniform
dress, a little subdued from the days of the ruff and farthingale; and
in the evening there was to be a regular Kenilworth quadrille, in which
each lady or gentleman was to assume the dress of some character of
Queen Elizabeth's court. In fact, as Mr. Faulkner said;--
"Gorgeous dames and statesmen bold
In bearded majesty appear."
Amy Robsart, Katherine Seymour, Anne Clifford, Frances Walsingham,
Mildred Cecil, and other ladies of the time were mentioned, and then
came the counting up of their eight living representatives,--the two
Misses Faulkner, Caroline, yes, and Clara herself, who started and
danced with ecstasy, then glanced entreatingly at her mother, who looked
doubtful; Marian, two cousins of the Faulkners, who were always ready
for anything, and a Miss Mordaunt, were reckoned up, and their dresses
quickly discussed; but all the time Marian said not a word. She was
thinking of the waste of time and consideration, the folly, levity
and vanity, the throwing away of money, all this would occasion, and
enjoying in her own mind the pleasure of resisting it _in toto_. She
supposed she must go to the archery meeting, though why people could
not be contented to shoot on their own lawns, instead of spoiling their
pleasure by all this fuss, she could not guess; but make a show of
herself and her shooting, be stared at by all the world,--that she would
never do. Nor would she make a figure of herself at the ball, and spend
the money which she wanted very much for her poor people and her
books, now that her court dress and London finery had eaten up such an
unconscionable share of her allowance. Increased as it was, she had
never felt so poor as at present; she wanted Mrs. Jameson's "Sacred and
Legendary Art" for herself, and there were all the presents to be sent
to the old people at Fern Torr; and should these be given up for the
sake of appearing as the fair Anne Clifford, or some such person, for
one evening, during which she would be feeling most especially unnatural
and uncomfortable? No indeed! and she trusted that she had a very good
and sufficient defence against all such foolery, in the slight mourning
which she was wearing for one of the Marchmont connection. True, she had
thought of leaving it off next Sunday, but no matter; it would be such
armour as was not to be lightly parted with; and if she went to the ball
at all, it should never, never be as the heiress of the Cliffords, but
as the faithful mourning relation of old Mr. Thomas Marchmont, her
second cousin once removed, whom she had never beheld in her life, and
who would have been dead at least nine weeks by the time it took place.
She said nothing about it in the drawing-room; but when they went up
stairs, she told Caroline not to reckon upon her, for she should be in
mourning, and could not wear a fancy dress. Caroline looked much vexed.
"It was a great pity," she said, "and Julia Faulkner wished it to be
all their own set. Besides, would not Marian shoot,--she who did it so
"O, no, no, I could do no such thing with all those people staring."
"Not even for a silver arrow? You would be sure to win it."
"I should be ashamed of the very sight of it ever after. O no! I should
like--at least I should not mind seeing it all as a spectator, but as to
making a part of the show, never, never, Caroline!"
"Well, I know it is of no use to try to persuade you!" said Caroline,
with a little annoyance in her tone. "Good night."
Lady Julia, with her son and daughter, came to call the next day. Marian
thought herself fortunate in not being in the drawing-room. She put on
her bonnet, slipped out at the garden door, and walked away with a book
in her hand, to the remotest regions of the park, where she sat down
under a thorn-tree, and read Schiller's Thirty Years' War with a sort of
exemplary diligence and philosophy, till it was so late that she thought
herself perfectly secure of the Faulkners' being gone. Yet she only just
missed them, for their carriage was driving off at one door, as she
reached the other.
"Where have you been, Marian?" was the first greeting.
"I have been walking to the old thorn."
"O, have you? We hunted for you everywhere in the house: we would hardly
believe Fanny when she said you were gone out, for I knew you meant to
walk with us."
"I thought you would be engaged so long that it was not worth while to
wait for you."
"Well, but did you know you had missed the Faulkners?" said Clara.
"I knew they were here."
Every one understood this except Clara, and very little did it please
Mrs. Lyddell or Caroline.
"Marian," said Mrs. Lyddell, "you really must not be so absurd about
this matter. Your mourning is nothing. You need not be wearing it even
now; and it will annoy Lady Julia, and put her to serious inconvenience,
if you continue to refuse."
"I am sure I do not wish to inconvenience her," said Marian; "but there
must be many young ladies who would be only too happy to take the part."
"Of course," said Mrs. Lyddell, "any one else would rejoice to be asked;
but the point is, that it is so unpleasant to admit any thing of a
stranger into the intimacy these things occasion."
"I am almost a stranger to them."
"Yes, but not to us, Marian," said Clara. "You have known them as long,
or longer than we have; and you would look so very well. Lady Julia said
herself that such a distinguished face and figure as yours would set the
whole thing off to advantage."
Caroline well knew this was but the way to make Marian still more
determined against it. She held her tongue through all the persuasions
of her mother and Clara; and trusting a little, but not much, to the
superior influence which she knew herself to possess, she followed
Marian to her room, and began,--"Marian, are you still resolute against
this unfortunate archery? because, if you do not really think it a
matter of right and wrong, I should be very much obliged to you if you
would only yield."
It was not so easy to withstand Caroline speaking in this way, as Mrs.
Lyddell almost scolding and Clara talking nonsense; but Marian had made
up her mind, and would not let herself be shaken. "I don't think I can,"
was her answer.
"Will you say whether you really think it wrong?"
"I don't know." Not her considering "I don't know," but the dry,
provoking end-of-the-matter answer of half sullen days gone by.
"If you really thought it positively wrong," proceeded Caroline, "not
another word would I say: but I don't see how you can without condemning
all gaeties, and that I know you do not."
"I only think it a--a waste of time--a great deal of nonsense," said
Marian, faltering for an answer; "and really I have spent so much money;
I do not like to throw away any more."
"O, you do not know how we have settled that," said Caroline, beginning
to be hopeful now that she had something tangible to attack. "The
dresses for the morning will be nothing,--only a white skirt and green
polka, which will do to wear for ever after, and a little ruff, very
pretty, and no expense at all; and a little alteration will make our
court dresses perfectly suitable for Queen Elizabeth's ladies. You need
not be at all afraid of being ruined."
Marian saw that, though there would be many a little expense to make a
mickle one, yet it would still only cost her Mrs. Jameson, instead of
the gifts to the poor people; but as this was what chiefly justified
her in her own eyes, she would not admit the conviction, and answered,
"Those things that are altered and adapted really are as costly in the
end as if they were new altogether. Besides, I could not, I really could
not shoot before such an assembly."
"I should so like to see you get the arrow."
"O Caroline, that would be worse than anything!"
"Well, then, don't get it; shoot as badly as you please: only do be kind
and make one of us, or you will spoil the whole concern."
"How can that be? What difference can my dressing up or shooting make to
"Why, for one thing, if you are not one, as you must be, living with us
and all, Julia will be obliged to ask that Miss Grimley; don't you know
"What, that old young lady who has been figuring in the newspaper so
long as getting all the archery prizes?"
"Yes, the veteran archer, as Elliot calls her; and Mr. Faulkner says, if
she appears in character at all, it must be as Queen Elizabeth herself
dancing a stately pavise to the sound of the little fiddle. She is some
connection of theirs, and must be asked, if you will not take it; and
she is almost as bad as Queen Elizabeth herself, and will give none of
us any peace about the dresses, O Marian! Julia said she should esteem
it as a real kindness from you if you would be Lady Anne, if only for
the sake of keeping her out!"
"I think it would be very absurd for a person who hates the whole
concern to be dragged in, for the sake of keeping out one who likes it!"
"Then you are still resolved? Well, I had not much expectation, but
still I was half inclined to hope you would relent, if you did not think
it a point of principle, when you knew that it would be a real favor to
"To you, Caroline! you do not care for such trumpery."
"I do care about seeing my friends mortified and vexed," said Caroline,
"Your friends!" exclaimed Marian, in a voice of contempt.
"Yes, as much as kindness can make them."
"And esteem? O Caroline!"
"Kindness--readiness to oblige," repeated Caroline.
"They are my friends, and I am very fond of them."
Caroline went away without another word, and Marian felt that her words
implied that she preferred readiness to oblige, to rigid, unbending
superiority in goodness. Marian felt it, and was disappointed in
Caroline, and pleased to have kept her determination, without asking
herself how far it was satisfied pride in obstinacy.
This was the last time for many weeks that Caroline lingered talking
in Marian's room. The old chill had come on again. Both knew, though
neither said so, that it was not so much because it was a display and
expense that Marian refused, as because it was the Faulkners' party. If
it had been Lady Marchmont's, it would have been very different. Now
Caroline liked the Faulkners; they were all good natured, and much more
agreeable than any others in the neighbourhood--than any, indeed, with
whom she had yet been brought into close intercourse. She thought Marian
was unjust and ungracious, both to them and to her; that she had been
prejudiced from the first, and now was very decidedly making herself
disagreeable by a rigidity in trifles, which was almost positive
unkindness. Caroline's home, as has been shown, was neither a very
happy, nor a very satisfactory one; so that of late she had learnt to
look upon her brother Walter and Marian as her chief comforts, and was
now much more hurt and disappointed at Marian's conduct than she was
willing to show. It was particularly unfortunate just at this time, when
there was so much to invite and gratify her at High Down, when she was
in especial need of a true and affectionate friend and counsellor, and
when Walter was absent, being engaged in preparing for his ordination,
which was to take place in the course of the autumn.
Mrs. Lyddell was much displeased with Marian, and showed it by her
coldness and formality; and Marian began to live more alone with
herself, and at war with the outer world, than she had done even before
Edmund's first visit five years ago. Caroline and Clara were a great
deal with the Faulkners, either at High Down or at home. Clara was in a
perfect transport at being admitted into the number of the archeresses,
and had struck up one of her eternal friendships with Louisa, the second
Miss Faulkner; and Marian might very fairly be provoked at seeing how
entirely her mind was diverted from all the rationality which she and
Caroline had been endeavouring--and as they had hoped, not without
success--to infuse into her during the past year. To get Clara to
settle quietly down to anything was an utter impossibility; her wisest
employment was the study of Elizabethan costumes, her most earnest, the
practice of archery. Now Marian always maintained that archery, on their
own lawn, and among themselves, was a very pretty sport; and for the
sake of consistency with her own principles, she very diligently shot
whenever the Faulkners were not there, and did her very best, by precept
and example, to make Clara fit her arrows to the string in her own
direct and purpose-like way, draw the bow-string to her ear with a
steady effort and aim, instead of a fitful jerk or twitch; and in fact
shoot, if she was to shoot, like a sensible woman, who really intended
damage to the target. Clara was very much obliged, and made some
progress; but Marian thus did herself little good with any one else,
for her love of the sport, and her excellence at it, made her spirit of
disdain all the more marked. Clara, was again, as in former times, her
chief friend in the family; for Marian, after the first vexation, held
her sense too cheap to blame her for her folly. It was the fault of the
others that she had been put in the way of what could not fail to turn
her head; so she listened, without showing many tokens of contempt,
to her endless histories of dear Louisa, and all the plans at High
Down,--of the witticisms that were perpetrated, the anticipations of
amusement and admiration, and of the tracasseries which Miss Grimley had
not failed to occasion. Marian was often entertained, and Clara more
than once hoped she was on the point of regretting that she was not one
of the favoured eight; but nothing could be further from Marian's mind.
She did not intend to absent herself either from the archery or from the
ball, but she must wear her own character, and no other; and people
were allowed to assume fancy dresses or not, just as suited their
inclination, so that she was in no fear of rendering herself remarkable.
Caroline and Clara were to go to High Down two days before the great
occasion, and stay till the day after; Marian to remain at Oakworthy.
Just before they went, Clara danced into her room, saying, "Marian, do
you know some of the officers at Portsmouth have been asked to the ball?
You know there is a railroad all the way. I wonder if Mr. Arundel will
"Decidedly not," replied Marian.
"What, not when he knows what an attraction there will be?"
"Don't talk such nonsense, Clara; the idea of thinking a man would take
such a journey for a ball! Well, I hope you will be very happy."
"O do come and see my dress, Marian, before it is packed up; it is on
mamma's bed, and it is so beautiful!"
Marian came, and admired. Caroline was to be Amy Robsart, and Clara,
Janet Foster; a part her mother had chosen for her, as more appropriate
to a girl not yet come out. Certainly, Tony Foster would scarcely have
recognized his demure little Puritan under the little lace hood,
the purple bodice, and white skirt, at which Clara looked with such
exultation; and Janet was further to be supposed to have taken
possession of the Countess's orient neck-pearls, and was to wear them as
the only ornament that could with any propriety be bestowed on her. It
happened that Marian had a remarkably fine set of pearls. She had few
jewels of any kind; but these had been her grandmother's, and there
was some tradition belonging to them which no one ever could remember.
Janet's necklace was so much less pretty, that Marian could not help
exclaiming that Clara had better wear hers. Clara demurred, for she knew
Marian relied on these pearls to help out a dress which had seen more
than one London party; but it ended in Marian's having her own way, and
being contemptuous at the gratitude with which her loan was received.
Yet she was surprised to find that it was a relief to her that Mrs.
Lyddell departed a little from her cold politeness, and showed herself
really pleased and obliged.
Certainly, if Mrs. Lyddell had not in some degree relaxed, those two
days would have been very forlorn. As it was, it was very odd to sit
down to dinner with only Mr. and Mrs. Lyddell and Elliot, and to have no
one but Mrs. Lyddell to speak to in the drawing-room. She was glad when
the day came, to have it over; and she was not sufficiently hard-hearted
to regret that it was as fine as could be wished. To High Down they
went, and everything was just as Marian had expected,--every one walked
about and idled, and wondered when the shooting would begin; and when
it did begin, no one paid much attention to it except those who were
interested in some of the competitors. Marian watched her pupil
anxiously, and Clara, between excitement and nervousness, shot much
worse than if she had been in the garden at home, and went so wide of
the mark, that Marian was ashamed of her. Caroline did better, but not
well; and the prize was of course borne off by Miss Grimley, who was
popularly reported to have arrows enough to stock the quivers of two or
Clara ran up to Marian, and walked with her a little while; telling her
all that had come to pass during the last two days,--a great deal of
bustle, and merriment, and nonsense, which Clara seemed to have enjoyed
excessively, and of which Marian could have said, "Every one to his
taste." Of Caroline she saw little or nothing; and after wandering
about in the rear of Mrs. Lyddell, and exchanging a great many cold
salutations, and colder sentences of small-talk, she was very glad to
find herself once more in the carriage, though it was only to go home,
dine and dress for the ball, and then High Down again.
She wore white, with jet ornaments, and a row of pearls round her
hair,--the only thing that saved her from being rather shabbily dressed
than otherwise. However, Mrs. Lyddell had long since announced that she
had done saying anything about Marian's dress, and Fanny had not been a
ladies' maid long enough to grow into a tyrant; so that she had her own
way, and no one repeated to her, what she knew full well, that her white
silk was yellow where it swept the ground, and the lace did not stand
out as freshly as once it did.
Mrs. Lyddell and Elliot talked and laughed all the way, quizzing the
company very sociably, and both appearing in the highest spirits. Mr.
Lyddell was asleep in his corner; Marian with her forehead against the
window, and her thoughts with Gerald. They reached High Down in the
midst of a stream of carriages; and Marian, in her plain white, had to
walk into the ball-room with Elliot, who had completed his offences in
her eyes, by daring to assume the dress of Sir Philip Sidney. She soon,
however, was free of him, for he liked her as little as she liked him,
and moreover had to go and perform his part in the noted Kenilworth
quadrille. Marian was left standing by Mrs. Lyddell, as she usually did,
through the greater part of a ball; for as she never waltzed, there
were few dances in which she could take a part. She had made half the
Oakworthy neighbours afraid of her; and Mrs. Lyddell, having found that
all activity in the way of being a useful chaperon was thrown away, had
acquiesced in leaving her to herself, "doing her justice" sufficient by
taking her to the ball.
Marian was entertained by the pageant, as she deemed it. It was a very
pretty scene, with so many gay dresses, in the bright light; and it was
amusing to recognise her acquaintances in the wonderful costumes some
of them had seen fit to assume. She would have liked some one to
laugh with, at a shepherdess dancing, crook and all; and she highly
appreciated a good-natured old gentleman, who was willing to do
anything, however absurd, that could please his friends, and had come
out as my grave Lord Keeper himself, with
"His bushy beard and shoe-strings green,
His high-crowned hat and satin-doublet."
Caroline looked more like a beauty than she had ever seen her before.
Her fair ringlets and white neck had a peculiar elegance, set off by the
delicate fan-like ruff, and graceful head-gear of the Countess Amy. The
only fault that Marian could find was, that poor Amy never could have
looked as if she had so much mind as Caroline's countenance expressed.
As to her partner, Marian did not behold him with very different
feelings, from those with which she would have regarded the real Earl
of Leicester, could she have had one peep at the actual pageant of
Kenilworth, with its outward pomp, masking the breaking hearts beneath.
Thereupon she fell deep into musings on "Kenilworth," which she had read
at home, when, so young and unlearned in novels as not to have a guess
at what would happen, when it was all a wonder and fairy-land of
delight, and when poor Tressilian's name of Edmund had been his first
charm in her eyes, even before she loved him for his deep character and
melancholy fate. She thought how unlike all this common-place world was
to the world it aped--how far these Raleighs and Sidneys were from being
worthy to usurp the name even for one evening! and as to Tressilian, how
impossible to see any face here that would even shadow her idea of him!
And yet she did not know; she might have to change her mind. There
actually was a countenance handsome, thoughtful, almost melancholy
enough for Tressilian himself, with the deep dark eyes, pale, clear,
sun-burnt, brown complexion, and jetty hair that befitted her hero; a
short beard and dark dress would have completed him, but she almost
thought it a pity that such a face should appear above a scarlet coat
and gold epaulettes.
However, Tressilian had been moving towards the end of the room where
she was standing, and was coming so near that she could not study him
after the first; so she turned to speak to Miss Faulkner, who had
finished her quadrille, and just as a polka was commencing, she was
surprised by finding Tressilian himself standing by her, and asking to
have the honour of dancing with her.
"Thank you, I don't dance the Polka," she replied; and as she spoke
quick flashes of thought crossed her thus--"I have not been introduced
to him--I have met him before--how horrid of Tressilian's face to talk
of polkas--ha! it is Edmund!"
Edmund Arundel's eye it was that was glancing at her with a look of
great amusement at her bewilderment.
"The next quadrille," he proceeded, in the same ceremonious voice.
"O Edmund, Edmund, I did not know you in the least! Who would have
thought of seeing you here?"
"Why not? Did you not know we were asked?"
"Asked? yes; but who would have come who could have helped it?"
"I wanted particularly to see you." Then, after speaking to Mrs.
Lyddell, he turned to her again, and resumed, "But am I not to have the
pleasure of dancing the next quadrille with you?"
"If it is any pleasure to you, I am sure you are very welcome."
"In the mean time, what is the meaning of your not being amongst the
performers? You used to be a capital shot."
"I? O, of course I could not shoot before all the world."
"Well, I was in hopes my pupil had been doing me credit; so much so,
that I tried very hard to make that lady with the silver arrow into
you, and--" as Marian looked at Miss Grimley's thin, freckled face, and
reddish, sandy locks, and could not help smiling, he continued, "when
that would not quite do, I went on trying to turn each maid of honour
into you, till, just as I gave you up, I saw young Dashwood fixed in
contemplation; and well he might be, for there was something so majestic
as could be nothing but Zenobia, Queen of the East, or Miss Arundel
"Majestic! nonsense! nothing can feel less majestic."
"Then decidedly you are not what you seem."
"I was trying all the time to make you into Tressilian, only your red
coat was in the way. You know I never saw you in it before."
"And so you have given up archery?"
"O, no! I shoot at home; only I cannot make a spectacle of myself,--I
hate the whole thing so much."
"And you would not wear a fancy dress?"
"You see I am in mourning."
"Why, who is dead?"
"Don't you know? Old Mr. Thomas Marchmont."
"Yes, and his great-grandfather likewise! Well, you certainly are
inclined to make the most of your connection with the peerage,"
"Edmund!" and for the first time Marian felt as if she had been making
herself more foolish than magnanimous. He gave his arm and they walked
along together. He presently began abruptly, "What I came here for was
to consult you about a plan for Gerald. You see I shall never get at him
unless I have him alone. Now I don't like to take him away from you for
the holidays, but I do not see how it is to be managed otherwise."
"I don't do him any good now," said Marian sadly.
"What I thought of was this; I find I can get leave for two months this
summer. Now suppose I was to take him to Marchmont's grouse shooting
place in Scotland, and about among the Highlands and Islands. Perhaps
the pleasure of that excursion would make up for the being carried off
by an awful guardian, and those scrambles might bring him to the old
footing with me."
"O it would be very nice to have him with you," said Marian; "but----"
"Well, what is the but?"
"I don't know, only would not taking him home be more likely to revive
old associations than anything else?"
"No," answered Edmund most decidedly; then in a more hesitating manner,
as if casting about for reasons, he added, "I mean he was at home last
year--it would not appear so inviting as this expedition--it would be
giving every one a great deal of trouble."
"To have the Manor House set to rights--yes--but just a week at the
Parsonage--just to revive the old feelings with you. For you to teach
him how to behave to the Fern Torr people."
"No," repeated Edmund, "it would not do."
He spoke in a manner that made Marian look up in his face with surprise,
and exclaim as if hurt, "Then you are really casting off poor old Fern
The next moment she was sorry she had said so, for his namesake in
"Kenilworth" could never have worn a more melancholy aspect than he, as
he answered in a very low voice of deep feeling, "I am the last man in
the world to be reproached with too little affection for Fern Torr."
Marian was grieved, surprised, confused, but she had no time to find an
answer, for the quadrille was forming, Edmund began a search for _vis a
vis_, and she found herself dancing before she had made up her mind what
she should have said if she could have replied at once; but it was too
late to return to the subject, and she thought it best to begin entirely
another, by asking, the next time they were standing still, how he liked
the officers of his new regiment.
"Very much, most of them," replied Edmund; "one or two are particularly
"Do you like any as well as Captain Gresham or--"
"New friends are not old ones," quickly answered Edmund.
"O no, but if you knew them as well, are there any equally worthy to be
liked? I want you to be comfortable there very much, as it is all our
"Don't say any more of that, Marian. Thank you, I am very
comfortable--they are a very pleasant set."
"Are there any of them here?"
"Yes, three of them."
_L'Ete_ cut short his speech, and when they paused again he began, "I
mean you to dance with Dashwood--there that rosy tall boy standing
partnerless behind the lady in a Swiss fly-away cap."
"O I see," said Marian.
"Yes, and don't be high and mighty with him."
"High and mighty, when I am only shy."
"Effects are seen, causes are not equally on the surface."
"Well, he is a very nice right-minded boy, very shy himself; so don't
be grand, for I have a great regard for him, and I want him to have a
Marian was considerably frightened by being told to be agreeable, the
thing which of all others she thought the most difficult; but she would
attempt anything for the sake of obliging Edmund, and making no answer,
consoled herself with thinking how far off the next quadrille was. In
the mean time, whilst she danced in the most business-like and least
pleasure-like way possible, she was pondering on what she had to say on
her own account to her cousin, and when the quadrille was over and he
took her to the supper room in quest of ices, she eagerly began, "Then
you think me wrong about my fancy dress?"
"Shall I give your own favourite reply?"
"Don't you think it a good thing to avoid all this folly and expense?"
"And to prove Miss Arundel's lofty contempt for finery and foolery?"
"I do not want to set myself up, but how am I to help thinking all this
"A hard question, since no one attempts to say it is far otherwise; but
after all, everything in this world is nonsense, except as a means of
doing right or wrong."
"And you do not think I made this nonsense a means of doing right?"
"If it had been any body else, I should have admired, but I do not trust
_you_. However I know nothing about it, I cannot judge of the amount of
sacrifice. Cream ice or water ice?"
They could not converse any more just then, and in the next polka,
Clara, who not being come out, was not well off for partners, was
extremely honoured and delighted by being asked to dance by Mr. Arundel.
When the turn of a quadrille came round again, Edmund, as good as his
word, introduced to Marian his youthful ensign, and she, dreadfully
afraid of not obeying Edmund by being agreeable to his friend, set
herself to talk with all her might; told him what some of the costumes
were intended to represent, speculated as to the others, found him
very pleasant, and ended by making him consider his friend's cousin as
delightful as she was handsome, and he had been very much impressed with
her countenance. She saw Edmund was well pleased to see him looking
animated and gratified, and the consequence was that she had to dance
with another of his brother officers, and after all it had not been by
any means such hard work to be amiable as she was apt to imagine. At any
rate she never liked a ball so well, but then she had never met Edmund
at any other, which might account for it. After the last quadrille, Mrs.
Lyddell summoned her to come home, they took their leave of Caroline and
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