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Title: Kenelm Chillingly — Complete
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron, 1803-1873
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Kenelm Chillingly — Complete" ***

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                           KENELM CHILLINGLY

                      HIS ADVENTURES AND OPINIONS

                                   BY

                          EDWARD BULWER LYTTON

                              (LORD LYTTON)



BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.

SIR PETER CHILLINGLY, of Exmundham, Baronet, F.R.S. and F.A.S., was
the representative of an ancient family, and a landed proprietor of
some importance. He had married young; not from any ardent
inclination for the connubial state, but in compliance with the
request of his parents. They took the pains to select his bride; and
if they might have chosen better, they might have chosen worse, which
is more than can be said for many men who choose wives for themselves.
Miss Caroline Brotherton was in all respects a suitable connection.
She had a pretty fortune, which was of much use in buying a couple of
farms, long desiderated by the Chillinglys as necessary for the
rounding of their property into a ring-fence. She was highly
connected, and brought into the county that experience of fashionable
life acquired by a young lady who has attended a course of balls for
three seasons, and gone out in matrimonial honours, with credit to
herself and her chaperon. She was handsome enough to satisfy a
husband's pride, but not so handsome as to keep perpetually on the
_qui vive_ a husband's jealousy. She was considered highly
accomplished; that is, she played upon the pianoforte so that any
musician would say she "was very well taught;" but no musician would
go out of his way to hear her a second time. She painted in
water-colours--well enough to amuse herself. She knew French and
Italian with an elegance so lady-like that, without having read more
than selected extracts from authors in those languages, she spoke them
both with an accent more correct than we have any reason to attribute
to Rousseau or Ariosto. What else a young lady may acquire in order
to be styled highly accomplished I do not pretend to know; but I am
sure that the young lady in question fulfilled that requirement in the
opinion of the best masters. It was not only an eligible match for
Sir Peter Chillingly,--it was a brilliant match. It was also a very
unexceptionable match for Miss Caroline Brotherton. This excellent
couple got on together as most excellent couples do. A short time
after marriage, Sir Peter, by the death of his parents--who, having
married their heir, had nothing left in life worth the trouble of
living for--succeeded to the hereditary estates; he lived for nine
months of the year at Exmundham, going to town for the other three
months. Lady Chillingly and himself were both very glad to go to
town, being bored at Exmundham; and very glad to go back to Exmundham,
being bored in town. With one exception it was an exceedingly happy
marriage, as marriages go. Lady Chillingly had her way in small
things; Sir Peter his way in great. Small things happen every day;
great things once in three years. Once in three years Lady Chillingly
gave way to Sir Peter; households so managed go on regularly. The
exception to their connubial happiness was, after all, but of a
negative description. Their affection was such that they sighed for a
pledge of it; fourteen years had he and Lady Chillingly remained
unvisited by the little stranger.

Now, in default of male issue, Sir Peter's estates passed to a distant
cousin as heir-at-law; and during the last four years this heir-at-law
had evinced his belief that practically speaking he was already
heir-apparent; and (though Sir Peter was a much younger man than
himself, and as healthy as any man well can be) had made his
expectations of a speedy succession unpleasantly conspicuous. He had
refused his consent to a small exchange of lands with a neighbouring
squire, by which Sir Peter would have obtained some good arable land,
for an outlying unprofitable wood that produced nothing but fagots and
rabbits, with the blunt declaration that he, the heir-at-law, was fond
of rabbit-shooting, and that the wood would be convenient to him next
season if he came into the property by that time, which he very
possibly might. He disputed Sir Peter's right to make his customary
fall of timber, and had even threatened him with a bill in Chancery on
that subject. In short, this heir-at-law was exactly one of those
persons to spite whom a landed proprietor would, if single, marry at
the age of eighty in the hope of a family.

Nor was it only on account of his very natural wish to frustrate the
expectations of this unamiable relation that Sir Peter Chillingly
lamented the absence of the little stranger. Although belonging to
that class of country gentlemen to whom certain political reasoners
deny the intelligence vouchsafed to other members of the community,
Sir Peter was not without a considerable degree of book-learning and a
great taste for speculative philosophy. He sighed for a legitimate
inheritor to the stores of his erudition, and, being a very benevolent
man, for a more active and useful dispenser of those benefits to the
human race which philosophers confer by striking hard against each
other; just as, how full soever of sparks a flint may be, they might
lurk concealed in the flint till doomsday, if the flint were not hit
by the steel. Sir Peter, in short, longed for a son amply endowed
with the combative quality, in which he himself was deficient, but
which is the first essential to all seekers after renown, and
especially to benevolent philosophers.

Under these circumstances one may well conceive the joy that filled
the household of Exmundham and extended to all the tenantry on that
venerable estate, by whom the present possessor was much beloved and
the prospect of an heir-at-law with a special eye to the preservation
of rabbits much detested, when the medical attendant of the
Chillinglys declared that 'her ladyship was in an interesting way;'
and to what height that joy culminated when, in due course of time, a
male baby was safely entbroned in his cradle. To that cradle Sir
Peter was summoned. He entered the room with a lively bound and a
radiant countenance: he quitted it with a musing step and an
overclouded brow.

Yet the baby was no monster. It did not come into the world with two
heads, as some babies are said to have done; it was formed as babies
are in general; was on the whole a thriving baby, a fine baby.
Nevertheless, its aspect awed the father as already it had awed the
nurse. The creature looked so unutterably solemn. It fixed its eyes
upon Sir Peter with a melancholy reproachful stare; its lips were
compressed and drawn downward as if discontentedly meditating its
future destinies. The nurse declared in a frightened whisper that it
had uttered no cry on facing the light. It had taken possession of
its cradle in all the dignity of silent sorrow. A more saddened and a
more thoughtful countenance a human being could not exhibit if he were
leaving the world instead of entering it.

"Hem!" said Sir Peter to himself on regaining the solitude of his
library; "a philosopher who contributes a new inhabitant to this vale
of tears takes upon himself very anxious responsibilities--"

At that moment the joy-bells rang out from the neighbouring church
tower, the summer sun shone into the windows, the bees hummed among
the flowers on the lawn. Sir Peter roused himself and looked forth,
"After all," said he, cheerily, "the vale of tears is not without a
smile."



CHAPTER II.

A FAMILY council was held at Exmundham Hall to deliberate on the name
by which this remarkable infant should be admitted into the Christian
community. The junior branches of that ancient house consisted,
first, of the obnoxious heir-at-law--a Scotch branch named Chillingly
Gordon. He was the widowed father of one son, now of the age of
three, and happily unconscious of the injury inflicted on his future
prospects by the advent of the new-born, which could not be truthfully
said of his Caledonian father. Mr. Chillingly Gordon was one of those
men who get on in the world with out our being able to discover why.
His parents died in his infancy and left him nothing; but the family
interest procured him an admission into the Charterhouse School, at
which illustrious academy he obtained no remarkable distinction.
Nevertheless, as soon as he left it the State took him under its
special care, and appointed him to a clerkship in a public office.
From that moment he continued to get on in the world, and was now a
Commissioner of Customs, with a salary of L1500 a year. As soon as he
had been thus enabled to maintain a wife, he selected a wife who
assisted to maintain himself. She was an Irish peer's widow, with a
jointure of L2000 a year.

A few months after his marriage, Chillingly Gordon effected insurances
on his wife's life, so as to secure himself an annuity of L1000 a year
in case of her decease. As she appeared to be a fine healthy woman,
some years younger than her husband, the deduction from his income
effected by the annual payments for the insurance seemed an
over-sacrifice of present enjoyment to future contingencies. The
result bore witness to his reputation for sagacity, as the lady died
in the second year of their wedding, a few months after the birth of
her only child, and of a heart-disease which had been latent to the
doctors, but which, no doubt, Gordon had affectionately discovered
before he had insured a life too valuable not to need some
compensation for its loss. He was now, then, in the possession of
L2500 a year, and was therefore very well off, in the pecuniary sense
of the phrase. He had, moreover, acquired a reputation which gave him
a social rank beyond that accorded to him by a discerning State. He
was considered a man of solid judgment, and his opinion upon all
matters, private and public, carried weight. The opinion itself,
critically examined, was not worth much, but the way he announced it
was imposing. Mr. Fox said that 'No one ever was so wise as Lord
Thurlow looked.' Lord Thurlow could not have looked wiser than Mr.
Chillingly Gordon. He had a square jaw and large red bushy eyebrows,
which he lowered down with great effect when he delivered judgment.
He had another advantage for acquiring grave reputation. He was a
very unpleasant man. He could be rude if you contradicted him; and as
few persons wish to provoke rudeness, so he was seldom contradicted.

Mr. Chillingly Mivers, another cadet of the house, was also
distinguished, but in a different way. He was a bachelor, now about
the age of thirty-five. He was eminent for a supreme well-bred
contempt for everybody and everything. He was the originator and
chief proprietor of a public journal called "The Londoner," which had
lately been set up on that principle of contempt, and we need not say,
was exceedingly popular with those leading members of the community
who admire nobody and believe in nothing. Mr. Chillingly Mivers was
regarded by himself and by others as a man who might have achieved the
highest success in any branch of literature, if he had deigned to
exhibit his talents therein. But he did not so deign, and therefore
he had full right to imply that, if he had written an epic, a drama, a
novel, a history, a metaphysical treatise, Milton, Shakspeare,
Cervantes, Hume, Berkeley would have been nowhere. He held greatly to
the dignity of the anonymous; and even in the journal which he
originated nobody could ever ascertain what he wrote. But, at all
events, Mr. Chillingly Mivers was what Mr. Chillingly Gordon was not;
namely, a very clever man, and by no means an unpleasant one in
general society.

The Rev. John Stalworth Chillingly was a decided adherent to the creed
of what is called "muscular Christianity," and a very fine specimen of
it too. A tall stout man with broad shoulders, and that division of
lower limb which intervenes between the knee and the ankle powerfully
developed. He would have knocked down a deist as soon as looked at
him. It is told by the Sieur de Joinville, in his Memoir of Louis,
the sainted king, that an assembly of divines and theologians convened
the Jews of an Oriental city for the purpose of arguing with them on
the truths of Christianity, and a certain knight, who was at that time
crippled, and supporting himself on crutches, asked and obtained
permission to be present at the debate. The Jews flocked to the
summons, when a prelate, selecting a learned rabbi, mildly put to him
the leading question whether he owned the divine conception of our
Lord. "Certainly not," replied the rabbi; whereon the pious knight,
shocked by such blasphemy, uplifted his crutch and felled the rabbi,
and then flung himself among the other misbelievers, whom he soon
dispersed in ignominious flight and in a very belaboured condition.
The conduct of the knight was reported to the sainted king, with a
request that it should be properly reprimanded; but the sainted king
delivered himself of this wise judgment:--

"If a pious knight is a very learned clerk, and can meet in fair
argument the doctrines of the misbeliever, by all means let him argue
fairly; but if a pious knight is not a learned clerk, and the argument
goes against him, then let the pious knight cut the discussion short
by the edge of his good sword."

The Rev. John Stalworth Chillingly was of the same opinion as Saint
Louis; otherwise, he was a mild and amiable man. He encouraged
cricket and other manly sports among his rural parishioners. He was a
skilful and bold rider, but he did not hunt; a convivial man--and took
his bottle freely. But his tastes in literature were of a refined and
peaceful character, contrasting therein the tendencies some might have
expected from his muscular development of Christianity. He was a
great reader of poetry, but he disliked Scott and Byron, whom he
considered flashy and noisy; he maintained that Pope was only a
versifier, and that the greatest poet in the language was Wordsworth;
he did not care much for the ancient classics; he refused all merit to
the French poets; he knew nothing of the Italian, but he dabbled in
German, and was inclined to bore one about the "Hermann and Dorothea"
of Goethe. He was married to a homely little wife, who revered him in
silence, and thought there would be no schism in the Church if he were
in his right place as Archbishop of Canterbury; in this opinion he
entirely agreed with his wife.

Besides these three male specimens of the Chillingly race, the fairer
sex was represented, in the absence of her ladyship, who still kept
her room, by three female Chillinglys, sisters of Sir Peter, and all
three spinsters. Perhaps one reason why they had remained single was,
that externally they were so like each other that a suitor must have
been puzzled which to choose, and may have been afraid that if he did
choose one, he should be caught next day kissing another one in
mistake. They were all tall, all thin, with long throats--and beneath
the throats a fine development of bone. They had all pale hair, pale
eyelids, pale eyes, and pale complexions. They all dressed exactly
alike, and their favourite colour was a vivid green: they were so
dressed on this occasion.

As there was such similitude in their persons, so, to an ordinary
observer, they were exactly the same in character and mind. Very well
behaved, with proper notions of female decorum: very distant and
reserved in manner to strangers; very affectionate to each other and
their relations or favourites; very good to the poor, whom they looked
upon as a different order of creation, and treated with that sort of
benevolence which humane people bestow upon dumb animals. Their minds
had been nourished on the same books--what one read the others had
read. The books were mainly divided into two classes,--novels, and
what they called "good books." They had a habit of taking a specimen
of each alternately; one day a novel, then a good book, then a novel
again, and so on. Thus if the imagination was overwarmed on Monday,
on Tuesday it was cooled down to a proper temperature; and if
frost-bitten on Tuesday, it took a tepid bath on Wednesday. The
novels they chose were indeed rarely of a nature to raise the
intellectual thermometer into blood heat: the heroes and heroines were
models of correct conduct. Mr. James's novels were then in vogue, and
they united in saying that those "were novels a father might allow his
daughters to read." But though an ordinary observer might have failed
to recognize any distinction between these three ladies, and, finding
them habitually dressed in green, would have said they were as much
alike as one pea is to another, they had their idiosyncratic
differences, when duly examined. Miss Margaret, the eldest, was the
commanding one of the three; it was she who regulated their household
(they all lived together), kept the joint purse, and decided every
doubtful point that arose: whether they should or should not ask Mrs.
So-and-so to tea; whether Mary should or should not be discharged;
whether or not they should go to Broadstairs or to Sandgate for the
month of October. In fact, Miss Margaret was the WILL of the body
corporate.

Miss Sibyl was of milder nature and more melancholy temperament; she
had a poetic turn of mind, and occasionally wrote verses. Some of
these had been printed on satin paper, and sold for objects of
beneficence at charity bazaars. The county newspapers said that the
verses "were characterized by all the elegance of a cultured and
feminine mind." The other two sisters agreed that Sibyl was the
genius of the household, but, like all geniuses, not sufficiently
practical for the world. Miss Sarah Chillingly, the youngest of the
three, and now just in her forty-fourth year, was looked upon by the
others as "a dear thing, inclined to be naughty, but such a darling
that nobody could have the heart to scold her." Miss Margaret said
"she was a giddy creature." Miss Sibyl wrote a poem on her, entitled,
"Warning to a young Lady against the Pleasures of the World." They
all called her Sally; the other two sisters had no diminutive
synonyms. Sally is a name indicative of fastness. But this Sally
would not have been thought fast in another household, and she was now
little likely to sally out of the one she belonged to. These sisters,
who were all many years older than Sir Peter, lived in a handsome,
old-fashioned, red-brick house, with a large garden at the back, in
the principal street of the capital of their native county. They had
each L10,000 for portion; and if he could have married all three, the
heir-at-law would have married them, and settled the aggregate L30,000
on himself. But we have not yet come to recognize Mormonism as legal,
though if our social progress continues to slide in the same grooves
as at present, Heaven only knows what triumphs over the prejudices of
our ancestors may not be achieved by the wisdom of our descendants!



CHAPTER III.

SIR PETER stood on his hearthstone, surveyed the guests seated in
semicircle, and said: "Friends,--in Parliament, before anything
affecting the fate of a Bill is discussed, it is, I believe, necessary
to introduce the Bill." He paused a moment, rang the bell, and said
to the servant who entered, "Tell Nurse to bring in the Baby."

Mr. CHILLINGLY GORDON.--"I don't see the necessity for that, Sir
Peter. We may take the existence of the Baby for granted."

Mr. MIVERS.--"It is an advantage to the reputation of Sir Peter's work
to preserve the incognito. _Omne ignotum pro magnifico_."

THE REV. JOHN STALWORTH CHILLINGLY.--"I don't approve the cynical
levity of such remarks. Of course we must all be anxious to see, in
the earliest stage of being, the future representative of our name and
race. Who would not wish to contemplate the source, however small, of
the Tigris or the Nile!--"

MISS SALLY (tittering).--"He! he!"

MISS MARGARET.--"For shame, you giddy thing!"

The Baby enters in the nurse's arms. All rise and gather round the
Baby with one exception,--Mr. Gordon, who has ceased to be
heir-at-law.

The Baby returned the gaze of its relations with the most contemptuous
indifference. Miss Sibyl was the first to pronounce an opinion on the
Baby's attributes. Said she, in a solemn whisper, "What a heavenly
mournful expression! it seems so grieved to have left the angels!"

THE REV. JOHN.--"That is prettily said, Cousin Sibyl; but the infant
must pluck up its courage and fight its way among mortals with a good
heart, if it wants to get back to the angels again. And I think it
will; a fine child." He took it from the nurse, and moving it
deliberately up and down, as if to weigh it, said cheerfully,
"Monstrous heavy! by the time it is twenty it will be a match for a
prize-fighter of fifteen stone!"

Therewith he strode to Gordon, who as if to show that he now
considered himself wholly apart from all interest in the affairs of a
family who had so ill-treated him in the birth of that Baby, had taken
up the "Times" newspaper and concealed his countenance beneath the
ample sheet. The Parson abruptly snatched away the "Times" with one
hand, and, with the other substituting to the indignant eyes of the
_ci-devant_ heir-at-law the spectacle of the Baby, said, "Kiss it."

"Kiss it!" echoed Chillingly Gordon, pushing back his chair--"kiss it!
pooh, sir, stand off! I never kissed my own baby: I shall not kiss
another man's. Take the thing away, sir: it is ugly; it has black
eyes."

Sir Peter, who was near-sighted, put on his spectacles and examined
the face of the new-born. "True," said he, "it has black eyes,--very
extraordinary: portentous: the first Chillingly that ever had black
eyes."

"Its mamma has black eyes," said Miss Margaret: "it takes after its
mamma; it has not the fair beauty of the Chillinglys, but it is not
ugly."

"Sweet infant!" sighed Sibyl; "and so good; does not cry."

"It has neither cried nor crowed since it was born," said the nurse;
"bless its little heart."

She took the Baby from the Parson's arms, and smoothed back the frill
of its cap, which had got ruffled.

"You may go now, Nurse," said Sir Peter.



CHAPTER IV.

"I AGREE with Mr. Shandy," said Sir Peter, resuming his stand on the
hearthstone, "that among the responsibilities of a parent the choice
of the name which his child is to bear for life is one of the gravest.
And this is especially so with those who belong to the order of
baronets. In the case of a peer his Christian name, fused into his
titular designation, disappears. In the case of a Mister, if his
baptismal be cacophonous or provocative of ridicule, he need not
ostentatiously parade it: he may drop it altogether on his visiting
cards, and may be imprinted as Mr. Jones instead of Mr. Ebenezer
Jones. In his signature, save where the forms of the law demand
Ebenezer in full, he may only use an initial and be your obedient
servant E. Jones, leaving it to be conjectured that E. stands for
Edward or Ernest,--names inoffensive, and not suggestive of a
Dissenting Chapel, like Ebenezer. If a man called Edward or Ernest be
detected in some youthful indiscretion, there is no indelible stain on
his moral character: but if an Ebenezer be so detected he is set down
as a hypocrite; it produces that shock on the public mind which is
felt when a professed saint is proved to be a bit of a sinner. But a
baronet never can escape from his baptismal: it cannot lie _perdu_; it
cannot shrink into an initial, it stands forth glaringly in the light
of day; christen him Ebenezer, and he is Sir Ebenezer in full, with
all its perilous consequences if he ever succumb to those temptations
to which even baronets are exposed. But, my friends, it is not only
the effect that the sound of a name has upon others which is to be
thoughtfully considered: the effect that his name produces on the man
himself is perhaps still more important. Some names stimulate and
encourage the owner; others deject and paralyze him: I am a melancholy
instance of that truth. Peter has been for many generations, as you
are aware, the baptismal to which the eldest-born of our family has
been devoted. On the altar of that name I have been sacrificed.
Never has there been a Sir Peter Chillingly who has, in any way,
distinguished himself above his fellows. That name has been a dead
weight on my intellectual energies. In the catalogue of illustrious
Englishmen there is, I think, no immortal Sir Peter, except Sir Peter
Teazle, and he only exists on the comic stage."

MISS SIBYL.--"Sir Peter Lely?"

SIR PETER CHILLINGLY.--"That painter was not an Englishman. He was
born in Westphalia, famous for hams. I confine my remarks to the
children of our native land. I am aware that in foreign countries the
name is not an extinguisher to the genius of its owner. But why? In
other countries its sound is modified. Pierre Corneille was a great
man; but I put it to you whether, had he been an Englishman, he could
have been the father of European tragedy as Peter Crow?"

MISS SIBYL.--"Impossible!"

MISS SALLY.--"He! he!"

MISS MARGARET.--"There is nothing to laugh at, you giddy child!"

SIR PETER.--"My son shall not be petrified into Peter."

MR. CHILLINGLY GORDON.--"If a man is such a fool--and I don't say your
son will not be a fool, Cousin Peter--as to be influenced by the sound
of his own name, and you want the booby to turn the world topsy-turvy,
you had better call him Julius Caesar or Hannibal or Attila or
Charlemagne."

SIR PETER, (who excels mankind in imperturbability of temper).--"On
the contrary, if you inflict upon a man the burden of one of those
names, the glory of which he cannot reasonably expect to eclipse or
even to equal, you crush him beneath the weight. If a poet were
called John Milton or William Shakspeare, he could not dare to publish
even a sonnet. No: the choice of a name lies between the two extremes
of ludicrous insignificance and oppressive renown. For this reason I
have ordered the family pedigree to be suspended on yonder wall. Let
us examine it with care, and see whether, among the Chillinglys
themselves or their alliances, we can discover a name that can be
borne with becoming dignity by the destined head of our house--a name
neither too light nor too heavy."

Sir Peter here led the way to the family tree--a goodly roll of
parchment, with the arms of the family emblazoned at the top. Those
arms were simple, as ancient heraldic coats are,--three fishes
_argent_ on a field _azure_; the crest a mermaid's head. All flocked
to inspect the pedigree except Mr. Gordon, who resumed the "Times"
newspaper.

"I never could quite make out what kind of fishes these are," said the
Rev. John Stalworth. "They are certainly not pike which formed the
emblematic blazon of the Hotofts, and are still grim enough to
frighten future Shakspeares on the scutcheon of the Warwickshire
Lucys."

"I believe they are tenches," said Mr. Mivers. "The tench is a fish
that knows how to keep itself safe by a philosophical taste for an
obscure existence in deep holes and slush."

SIR PETER.--"No, Mivers; the fishes are dace, a fish that, once
introduced into any pond, never can be got out again. You may drag
the water; you may let off the water; you may say, 'Those dace are
extirpated,'--vain thought!--the dace reappear as before; and in this
respect the arms are really emblematic of the family. All the
disorders and revolutions that have occurred in England since the
Heptarchy have left the Chillinglys the same race in the same place.
Somehow or other the Norman Conquest did not despoil them; they held
fiefs under Eudo Dapifer as peacefully as they had held them under
King Harold; they took no part in the Crusades, nor the Wars of the
Roses, nor the Civil Wars between Charles the First and the
Parliament. As the dace sticks to the water and the water sticks by
the dace, so the Chillinglys stuck to the land and the land stuck by
the Chillinglys. Perhaps I am wrong to wish that the new Chillingly
may be a little less like a dace."

"Oh!" cried Miss Margaret, who, mounted on a chair, had been
inspecting the pedigree through an eye-glass, "I don't see a fine
Christian name from the beginning, except Oliver."

SIR PETER.--"That Chillingly was born in Oliver Cromwell's
Protectorate, and named Oliver in compliment to him, as his father,
born in the reign of James I., was christened James. The three fishes
always swam with the stream. Oliver!--Oliver not a bad name, but
significant of radical doctrines."

Mr. MIVERS.--"I don't think so. Oliver Cromwell made short work of
radicals and their doctrines; but perhaps we can find a name less
awful and revolutionary."

"I have it! I have it!" cried the Parson. "Here is a descent from
Sir Kenelm Digby and Venetia Stanley. Sir Kenelm Digby! No finer
specimen of muscular Christianity. He fought as well as he wrote;
eccentric, it is true, but always a gentleman. Call the boy Kenelm!"

"A sweet name," said Miss Sibyl: "it breathes of romance."

"Sir Kenelm Chillingly! It sounds well,--imposing!" said Miss
Margaret.

"And," remarked Mr. Mivers, "it has this advantage--that while it has
sufficient association with honourable distinction to affect the mind
of the namesake and rouse his emulation, it is not that of so
stupendous a personage as to defy rivalry. Sir Kenelm Digby was
certainly an accomplished and gallant gentleman; but what with his
silly superstition about sympathetic powders, etc., any man nowadays
might be clever in comparison without being a prodigy. Yes, let us
decide on Kenelm."

Sir Peter meditated. "Certainly," said he, after a pause, "certainly
the name of Kenelm carries with it very crotchety associations; and I
am afraid that Sir Kenelm Digby did not make a prudent choice in
marriage. The fair Venetia was no better than she should be; and I
should wish my heir not to be led away by beauty but wed a woman of
respectable character and decorous conduct."

Miss MARGARET.--"A British matron, of course!"

THREE SISTERS (in chorus).--"Of course! of course!"

"But," resumed Sir Peter, "I am crotchety myself, and crotchets are
innocent things enough; and as for marriage the Baby cannot marry
to-morrow, so that we have ample time to consider that matter. Kenelm
Digby was a man any family might be proud of; and, as you say, sister
Margaret, Kenelm Chillingly does not sound amiss: Kenelm Chillingly it
shall be!"

The Baby was accordingly christened Kenelm, after which ceremony its
face grew longer than before.



CHAPTER V.

BEFORE his relations dispersed, Sir Peter summoned Mr. Gordon into his
library.

"Cousin," said he, kindly, "I do not blame you for the want of family
affection, or even of humane interest, which you exhibit towards the
New-born."

"Blame me, Cousin Peter! I should think not. I exhibit as much
family affection and humane interest as could be expected from
me,--circumstances considered."

"I own," said Sir Peter, with all his wonted mildness, "that after
remaining childless for fourteen years of wedded life, the advent of
this little stranger must have occasioned you a disagreeable surprise.
But, after all, as I am many years younger than you, and in the course
of nature shall outlive you, the loss is less to yourself than to your
son, and upon that I wish to say a few words. You know too well the
conditions on which I hold my estate not to be aware that I have not
legally the power to saddle it with any bequest to your boy. The
New-born succeeds to the fee-simple as last in tail. But I intend,
from this moment, to lay by something every year for your son out of
my income; and, fond as I am of London for a part of the year, I shall
now give up my town-house. If I live to the years the Psalmist allots
to man, I shall thus accumulate something handsome for your son, which
may be taken in the way of compensation."

Mr. Gordon was by no means softened by this generous speech. However,
he answered more politely than was his wont, "My son will be very much
obliged to you, should he ever need your intended bequest." Pausing a
moment, he added with a cheerful smile, "A large percentage of infants
die before attaining the age of twenty-one."

"Nay, but I am told your son is an uncommonly fine healthy child."

"My son, Cousin Peter! I was not thinking of my son, but of yours.
Yours has a big head. I should not wonder if he had water in it. I
don't wish to alarm you, but he may go off any day, and in that case
it is not likely that Lady Chillingly will condescend to replace him.
So you will excuse me if I still keep a watchful eye on my rights;
and, however painful to my feelings, I must still dispute your right
to cut a stick of the field timber."

"That is nonsense, Gordon. I am tenant for life without impeachment
of waste, and can cut down all timber not ornamental."

"I advise you not, Cousin Peter. I have told you before that I shall
try the question at law, should you provoke it, amicably, of course.
Rights are rights; and if I am driven to maintain mine, I trust that
you are of a mind too liberal to allow your family affection for me
and mine to be influenced by a decree of the Court of Chancery. But
my fly is waiting. I must not miss the train."

"Well, good-by, Gordon. Shake hands."

"Shake hands!--of course, of course. By the by, as I came through the
lodge, it seemed to me sadly out of repair. I believe you are liable
for dilapidations. Good-by."

"The man is a hog in armour," soliloquized Sir Peter, when his cousin
was gone; "and if it be hard to drive a common pig in the way he don't
choose to go, a hog in armour is indeed undrivable. But his boy ought
not to suffer for his father's hoggishness; and I shall begin at once
to see what I can lay by for him. After all, it is hard upon Gordon.
Poor Gordon; poor fellow! poor fellow! Still I hope he will not go to
law with me. I hate law. And a worm will turn, especially a worm
that is put into Chancery."



CHAPTER VI.

DESPITE the sinister semi-predictions of the _ci-devant_ heir-at-law,
the youthful Chillingly passed with safety, and indeed with dignity,
through the infant stages of existence. He took his measles and
whooping-cough with philosophical equanimity. He gradually acquired
the use of speech, but he did not too lavishly exercise that special
attribute of humanity. During the earlier years of childhood he spoke
as little as if he had been prematurely trained in the school of
Pythagoras. But he evidently spoke the less in order to reflect the
more. He observed closely and pondered deeply over what he observed.
At the age of eight he began to converse more freely, and it was in
that year that he startled his mother with the question, "Mamma, are
you not sometimes overpowered by the sense of your own identity?"

Lady Chillingly,--I was about to say rushed, but Lady Chillingly never
rushed,--Lady Chillingly glided less sedately than her wont to Sir
Peter, and repeating her son's question, said, "The boy is growing
troublesome, too wise for any woman: he must go to school."

Sir Peter was of the same opinion. But where on earth did the child
get hold of so long a word as "identity," and how did so extraordinary
and puzzling a metaphysical question come into his head? Sir Peter
summoned Kenelm, and ascertained that the boy, having free access to
the library, had fastened upon Locke on the Human Understanding, and
was prepared to dispute with that philosopher upon the doctrine of
innate ideas. Quoth Kenelm, gravely, "A want is an idea; and if, as
soon as I was born, I felt the want of food and knew at once where to
turn for it, without being taught, surely I came into the world with
an 'innate idea.'"

Sir Peter, though he dabbled in metaphysics, was posed, and scratched
his head without getting out a proper answer as to the distinction
between ideas and instincts. "My child," he said at last, "you don't
know what you are talking about: go and take a good gallop on your
black pony; and I forbid you to read any books that are not given to
you by myself or your mamma. Stick to 'Puss in Boots.'"



CHAPTER VII.

SIR PETER ordered his carriage and drove to the house of the stout
parson. That doughty ecclesiastic held a family living a few miles
distant from the Hall, and was the only one of the cousins with whom
Sir Peter habitually communed on his domestic affairs.

He found the Parson in his study, which exhibited tastes other than
clerical. Over the chimney-piece were ranged fencing-foils,
boxing-gloves, and staffs for the athletic exercise of single-stick;
cricket-bats and fishing-rods filled up the angles. There were sundry
prints on the walls: one of Mr. Wordsworth, flanked by two of
distinguished race-horses; one of a Leicestershire short-horn, with
which the Parson, who farmed his own glebe and bred cattle in its rich
pastures, had won a prize at the county show; and on either side of
that animal were the portraits of Hooker and Jeremy Taylor. There
were dwarf book-cases containing miscellaneous works very handsomely
bound; at the open window, a stand of flower-pots, the flowers in full
bloom. The Parson's flowers were famous.

The appearance of the whole room was that of a man who is tidy and
neat in his habits.

"Cousin," said Sir Peter, "I have come to consult you." And therewith
he related the marvellous precocity of Kenelm Chillingly. "You see
the name begins to work on him rather too much. He must go to school;
and now what school shall it be? Private or public?"

THE REV. JOHN STALWORTH.--"There is a great deal to be said for or
against either. At a public school the chances are that Kenelm will
no longer be overpowered by a sense of his own identity; he will more
probably lose identity altogether. The worst of a public school is
that a sort of common character is substituted for individual
character. The master, of course, can't attend to the separate
development of each boy's idiosyncrasy. All minds are thrown into one
great mould, and come out of it more or less in the same form. An
Etonian may be clever or stupid, but, as either, he remains
emphatically Etonian. A public school ripens talent, but its tendency
is to stifle genius. Then, too, a public school for an only son, heir
to a good estate, which will be entirely at his own disposal, is apt
to encourage reckless and extravagant habits; and your estate requires
careful management, and leaves no margin for an heir's notes-of-hand
and post-obits. On the whole, I am against a public school for
Kenelm."

"Well then, we will decide on a private one."

"Hold!" said the Parson: "a private school has its drawbacks. You
can seldom produce large fishes in small ponds. In private schools
the competition is narrowed, the energies stinted. The schoolmaster's
wife interferes, and generally coddles the boys. There is not
manliness enough in those academies; no fagging, and very little
fighting. A clever boy turns out a prig; a boy of feebler intellect
turns out a well-behaved young lady in trousers. Nothing muscular in
the system. Decidedly the namesake and descendant of Kenelm Digby
should not go to a private seminary."

"So far as I gather from your reasoning," said Sir Peter, with
characteristic placidity, "Kenelm Chillingly is not to go to school at
all."

"It does look like it," said the Parson, candidly; "but, on
consideration, there is a medium. There are schools which unite the
best qualities of public and private schools, large enough to
stimulate and develop energies mental and physical, yet not so framed
as to melt all character in one crucible. For instance, there is a
school which has at this moment one of the first scholars in Europe
for head-master,--a school which has turned out some of the most
remarkable men of the rising generation. The master sees at a glance
if a boy be clever, and takes pains with him accordingly. He is not a
mere teacher of hexameters and sapphics. His learning embraces all
literature, ancient and modern. He is a good writer and a fine
critic; admires Wordsworth. He winks at fighting: his boys know how
to use their fists; and they are not in the habit of signing
post-obits before they are fifteen. Merton School is the place for
Kenelm."

"Thank you," said Sir Peter. "It is a great comfort in life to find
somebody who can decide for one. I am an irresolute man myself, and
in ordinary matters willingly let Lady Chillingly govern me."

"I should like to see a wife govern _me_," said the stout Parson.

"But you are not married to Lady Chillingly. And now let us go into
the garden and look at your dahlias."



CHAPTER VIII.

THE youthful confuter of Locke was despatched to Merton School, and
ranked, according to his merits, as lag of the penultimate form. When
he came home for the Christmas holidays he was more saturnine than
ever; in fact, his countenance bore the impression of some absorbing
grief. He said, however, that he liked school very well, and eluded
all other questions. But early the next morning he mounted his black
pony and rode to the Parson's rectory. The reverend gentleman was in
his farmyard examining his bullocks when Kenelm accosted him thus
briefly,--

"Sir, I am disgraced, and I shall die of it if you cannot help to set
me right in my own eyes."

"My dear boy, don't talk in that way. Come into my study."

As soon as they entered that room, and the Parson had carefully closed
the door, he took the boy's arm, turned him round to the light, and
saw at once that there was something very grave on his mind. Chucking
him under the chin, the Parson said cheerily, "Hold up your head,
Kenelm. I am sure you have done nothing unworthy of a gentleman."

"I don't know that. I fought a boy very little bigger than myself,
and I have been licked. I did not give in, though; but the other boys
picked me up, for I could not stand any longer; and the fellow is a
great bully; and his name is Butt; and he's the son of a lawyer; and
he got my head into chancery; and I have challenged him to fight again
next half; and unless you can help me to lick him, I shall never be
good for anything in the world,--never. It will break my heart."

"I am very glad to hear you have had the pluck to challenge him. Just
let me see how you double your fist. Well, that's not amiss. Now,
put yourself into a fighting attitude, and hit out at me,--hard!
harder! Pooh! that will never do. You should make your blows as
straight as an arrow. And that's not the way to stand. Stop,--so:
well on your haunches; weight on the left leg; good! Now, put on
these gloves, and I'll give you a lesson in boxing."

Five minutes afterwards Mrs. John Chillingly, entering the room to
summon her husband to breakfast, stood astounded to see him with his
coat off, and parrying the blows of Kenelm, who flew at him like a
young tiger. The good pastor at that moment might certainly have
appeared a fine type of muscular Christianity, but not of that kind of
Christianity out of which one makes Archbishops of Canterbury.

"Good gracious me!" faltered Mrs. John Chillingly; and then,
wife-like, flying to the protection of her husband, she seized Kenelm
by the shoulders, and gave him a good shaking. The Parson, who was
sadly out of breath, was not displeased at the interruption, but took
that opportunity to put on his coat, and said, "We'll begin again
to-morrow. Now, come to breakfast." But during breakfast Kenelm's
face still betrayed dejection, and he talked little and ate less.

As soon as the meal was over, he drew the Parson into the garden and
said, "I have been thinking, sir, that perhaps it is not fair to Butt
that I should be taking these lessons; and if it is not fair, I'd
rather not--"

"Give me your hand, my boy!" cried the Parson, transported. "The name
of Kenelm is not thrown away upon you. The natural desire of man in
his attribute of fighting animal (an attribute in which, I believe, he
excels all other animated beings, except a quail and a gamecock) is to
beat his adversary. But the natural desire of that culmination of man
which we call gentleman is to beat his adversary fairly. A gentleman
would rather be beaten fairly than beat unfairly. Is not that your
thought?"

"Yes," replied Kenelm, firmly; and then, beginning to philosophize, he
added, "And it stands to reason; because if I beat a fellow unfairly,
I don't really beat him at all."

"Excellent! But suppose that you and another boy go into examination
upon Caesar's Commentaries or the multiplication table, and the other
boy is cleverer than you, but you have taken the trouble to learn the
subject and he has not: should you say you beat him unfairly?"

Kenelm meditated a moment, and then said decidedly, "No."

"That which applies to the use of your brains applies equally to the
use of your fists. Do you comprehend me?"

"Yes, sir; I do now."

"In the time of your namesake, Sir Kenelm Digby, gentlemen wore
swords, and they learned how to use them, because, in case of quarrel,
they had to fight with them. Nobody, at least in England, fights with
swords now. It is a democratic age, and if you fight at all, you are
reduced to fists; and if Kenelm Digby learned to fence, so Kenelm
Chillingly must learn to box; and if a gentleman thrashes a drayman
twice his size, who has not learned to box, it is not unfair; it is
but an exemplification of the truth that knowledge is power. Come and
take another lesson on boxing to-morrow."

Kenelm remounted his pony and returned home. He found his father
sauntering in the garden with a book in his hand. "Papa," said
Kenelm, "how does one gentleman write to another with whom he has a
quarrel, and he don't want to make it up, but he has something to say
about the quarrel which it is fair the other gentleman should know?"

"I don't understand what you mean."

"Well, just before I went to school I remember hearing you say that
you had a quarrel with Lord Hautfort, and that he was an ass, and you
would write and tell him so. When you wrote did you say, 'You are an
ass'? Is that the way one gentleman writes to another?"

"Upon my honour, Kenelm, you ask very odd questions. But you cannot
learn too early this fact, that irony is to the high-bred what
Billingsgate is to the vulgar; and when one gentleman thinks another
gentleman an ass, he does not say it point-blank: he implies it in the
politest terms he can invent. Lord Hautfort denies my right of free
warren over a trout-stream that runs through his lands. I don't care
a rush about the trout-stream, but there is no doubt of my right to
fish in it. He was an ass to raise the question; for, if he had not,
I should not have exercised the right. As he did raise the question,
I was obliged to catch his trout."

"And you wrote a letter to him?"

"Yes."

"How did you write, Papa? What did you say?"

"Something like this. 'Sir Peter Chillingly presents his compliments
to Lord Hautfort, and thinks it fair to his lordship to say that he
has taken the best legal advice with regard to his rights of free
warren; and trusts to be forgiven if he presumes to suggest that Lord
Hautfort might do well to consult his own lawyer before he decides on
disputing them.'"

"Thank you, Papa. I see."

That evening Kenelm wrote the following letter:--


Mr. Chillingly presents his compliments to Mr. Butt, and thinks it
fair to Mr. Butt to say that he is taking lessons in boxing; and
trusts to be forgiven if he presumes to suggest that Mr. Butt might do
well to take lessons himself before fighting with Mr. Chillingly next
half.


"Papa," said Kenelm the next morning, "I want to write to a
schoolfellow whose name is Butt; he is the son of a lawyer who is
called a serjeant. I don't know where to direct to him."

"That is easily ascertained," said Sir Peter. "Serjeant Butt is an
eminent man, and his address will be in the Court Guide."

The address was found,--Bloomsbury Square; and Kenelm directed his
letter accordingly. In due course he received this answer,--


You are an insolent little fool, and I'll thrash you within an inch of
your life.

ROBERT BUTT.


After the receipt of that polite epistle, Kenelm Chillingly's scruples
vanished, and he took daily lessons in muscular Christianity.

Kenelm returned to school with a brow cleared from care, and three
days after his return he wrote to the Reverend John,--


DEAR SIR,--I have licked Butt. Knowledge is power.

Your affectionate   KENELM.

P. S.--Now that I have licked Butt, I have made it up with him.


From that time Kenelm prospered. Eulogistic letters from the
illustrious head-master showered in upon Sir Peter. At the age of
sixteen Kenelm Chillingly was the head of the school, and, quitting it
finally, brought home the following letter from his Orbilius to Sir
Peter, marked "confidential":--


DEAR SIR PETER CHILLINGLY,--I have never felt more anxious for the
future career of any of my pupils than I do for that of your son. He
is so clever that, with ease to himself, he may become a great man.
He is so peculiar that it is quite as likely that he may only make
himself known to the world as a great oddity. That distinguished
teacher Dr. Arnold said that the difference between one boy and
another was not so much talent as energy. Your son has talent, has
energy: yet he wants something for success in life; he wants the
faculty of amalgamation. He is of a melancholic and therefore
unsocial temperament. He will not act in concert with others. He is
lovable enough: the other boys like him, especially the smaller ones,
with whom he is a sort of hero; but he has not one intimate friend.
So far as school learning is concerned, he might go to college at
once, and with the certainty of distinction provided he chose to exert
himself. But if I may venture to offer an advice, I should say employ
the next two years in letting him see a little more of real life and
acquire a due sense of its practical objects. Send him to a private
tutor who is not a pedant, but a man of letters or a man of the world,
and if in the metropolis so much the better. In a word, my young
friend is unlike other people; and, with qualities that might do
anything in life, I fear, unless you can get him to be like other
people, that he will do nothing. Excuse the freedom with which I
write, and ascribe it to the singular interest with which your son has
inspired me. I have the honour to be, dear Sir Peter,

Yours truly,   WILLIAM HORTON.


Upon the strength of this letter Sir Peter did not indeed summon
another family council; for he did not consider that his three maiden
sisters could offer any practical advice on the matter. And as to Mr.
Gordon, that gentleman having gone to law on the great timber
question, and having been signally beaten thereon, had informed Sir
Peter that he disowned him as a cousin and despised him as a man; not
exactly in those words,--more covertly, and therefore more stingingly.
But Sir Peter invited Mr. Mivers for a week's shooting, and requested
the Reverend John to meet him.

Mr. Mivers arrived. The sixteen years that had elapsed since he was
first introduced to the reader had made no perceptible change in his
appearance. It was one of his maxims that in youth a man of the world
should appear older than he is; and in middle age, and thence to his
dying day, younger. And he announced one secret for attaining that
art in these words: "Begin your wig early, thus you never become
gray."

Unlike most philosophers, Mivers made his practice conform to his
precepts; and while in the prime of youth inaugurated a wig in a
fashion that defied the flight of time, not curly and hyacinthine, but
straight-haired and unassuming. He looked five-and-thirty from the
day he put on that wig at the age of twenty-five. He looked
five-and-thirty now at the age of fifty-one.

"I mean," said he, "to remain thirty-five all my life. No better age
to stick at. People may choose to say I am more, but I shall not own
it. No one is bound to criminate himself."

Mr. Mivers had some other aphorisms on this important subject. One
was, "Refuse to be ill. Never tell people you are ill; never own it
to yourself. Illness is one of those things which a man should resist
on principle at the onset. It should never be allowed to get in the
thin end of the wedge. But take care of your constitution, and,
having ascertained the best habits for it, keep to them like
clockwork." Mr. Mivers would not have missed his constitutional walk
in the Park before breakfast if, by going in a cab to St. Giles's, he
could have saved the city of London from conflagration.

Another aphorism of his was, "If you want to keep young, live in a
metropolis; never stay above a few weeks at a time in the country.
Take two men of similar constitution at the age of twenty-five; let
one live in London and enjoy a regular sort of club life; send the
other to some rural district, preposterously called 'salubrious.'
Look at these men when they have both reached the age of forty-five.
The London man has preserved his figure: the rural man has a paunch.
The London man has an interesting delicacy of complexion: the face of
the rural man is coarse-grained and perhaps jowly."

A third axiom was, "Don't be a family man; nothing ages one like
matrimonial felicity and paternal ties. Never multiply cares, and
pack up your life in the briefest compass you can. Why add to your
carpet-bag of troubles the contents of a lady's imperials and
bonnet-boxes, and the travelling _fourgon_ required by the nursery?
Shun ambition: it is so gouty. It takes a great deal out of a man's
life, and gives him nothing worth having till he has ceased to enjoy
it." Another of his aphorisms was this, "A fresh mind keeps the body
fresh. Take in the ideas of the day, drain off those of yesterday.
As to the morrow, time enough to consider it when it becomes to-day."

Preserving himself by attention to these rules, Mr. Mivers appeared at
Exmundham _totus, teres_, but not _rotundus_,--a man of middle height,
slender, upright, with well-cut, small, slight features, thin lips,
enclosing an excellent set of teeth, even, white, and not indebted to
the dentist. For the sake of those teeth he shunned acid wines,
especially hock in all its varieties, culinary sweets, and hot drinks.
He drank even his tea cold.

"There are," he said, "two things in life that a sage must preserve at
every sacrifice, the coats of his stomach and the enamel of his teeth.
Some evils admit of consolations: there are no comforters for
dyspepsia and toothache." A man of letters, but a man of the world,
he had so cultivated his mind as both that he was feared as the one
and liked as the other. As a man of letters he despised the world; as
a man of the world he despised letters. As the representative of both
he revered himself.



CHAPTER IX.

ON the evening of the third day from the arrival of Mr. Mivers, he,
the Parson, and Sir Peter were seated in the host's parlour, the
Parson in an armchair by the ingle, smoking a short cutty-pipe; Mivers
at length on the couch, slowly inhaling the perfumes of one of his own
choice _trabucos_. Sir Peter never smoked. There were spirits and
hot water and lemons on the table. The Parson was famed for skill in
the composition of toddy. From time to time the Parson sipped his
glass, and Sir Peter less frequently did the same. It is needless to
say that Mr. Mivers eschewed toddy; but beside him, on a chair, was a
tumbler and a large carafe of iced water.

SIR PETER.--"Cousin Mivers, you have now had time to study Kenelm, and
to compare his character with that assigned to him in the Doctor's
letter."

MIVERS (languidly).--"Ay."

SIR PETER.--"I ask you, as a man of the world, what you think I had
best do with the boy. Shall I send him to such a tutor as the Doctor
suggests? Cousin John is not of the same mind as the Doctor, and
thinks that Kenelm's oddities are fine things in their way, and should
not be prematurely ground out of him by contact with worldly tutors
and London pavements."

"Ay," repeated Mr. Mivers more languidly than before. After a pause
he added, "Parson John, let us hear you."

The Parson laid aside his cutty-pipe and emptied his fourth tumbler of
toddy; then, throwing back his head in the dreamy fashion of the great
Coleridge when he indulged in a monologue, he thus began, speaking
somewhat through his nose,--

"At the morning of life--"

Here Mivers shrugged his shoulders, turned round on his couch, and
closed his eyes with the sigh of a man resigning himself to a homily.

"At the morning of life, when the dews--"

"I knew the dews were coming," said Mivers. "Dry them, if you please;
nothing so unwholesome. We anticipate what you mean to say, which is
plainly this, When a fellow is sixteen he is very fresh: so he is;
pass on; what then?"

"If you mean to interrupt me with your habitual cynicism," said the
Parson, "why did you ask to hear me?"

"That was a mistake I grant; but who on earth could conceive that you
were going to commence in that florid style? Morning of life indeed!
bosh!"

"Cousin Mivers," said Sir Peter, "you are not reviewing John's style
in 'The Londoner;' and I will beg you to remember that my son's
morning of life is a serious thing to his father, and not to be nipped
in its bud by a cousin. Proceed, John!"

Quoth the Parson, good-humouredly, "I will adapt my style to the taste
of my critic. When a fellow is at the age of sixteen, and very fresh
to life, the question is whether he should begin thus prematurely to
exchange the ideas that belong to youth for the ideas that properly
belong to middle age,--whether he should begin to acquire that
knowledge of the world which middle-aged men have acquired and can
teach. I think not. I would rather have him yet a while in the
company of the poets; in the indulgence of glorious hopes and
beautiful dreams, forming to himself some type of the Heroic, which he
will keep before his eyes as a standard when he goes into the world as
man. There are two schools of thought for the formation of
character,--the Real and the Ideal. I would form the character in the
Ideal school, in order to make it bolder and grander and lovelier when
it takes its place in that every-day life which is called Real. And
therefore I am not for placing the descendant of Sir Kenelm Digby, in
the interval between school and college, with a man of the world,
probably as cynical as Cousin Mivers and living in the stony
thoroughfares of London."

MR. MIVERS (rousing himself).--"Before we plunge into that Serbonian
bog--the controversy between the Realistic and the Idealistic
academicians--I think the first thing to decide is what you want
Kenelm to be hereafter. When I order a pair of shoes, I decide
beforehand what kind of shoes they are to be,--court pumps or strong
walking shoes; and I don't ask the shoemaker to give me a preliminary
lecture upon the different purposes of locomotion to which leather can
be applied. If, Sir Peter, you want Kenelm to scribble lackadaisical
poems, listen to Parson John; if you want to fill his head with
pastoral rubbish about innocent love, which may end in marrying the
miller's daughter, listen to Parson John; if you want him to enter
life a soft-headed greenhorn, who will sign any bill carrying 50 per
cent to which a young scamp asks him to be security, listen to Parson
John; in fine, if you wish a clever lad to become either a pigeon or a
ring-dove, a credulous booby or a sentimental milksop, Parson John is
the best adviser you can have."

"But I don't want my son to ripen into either of those imbecile
developments of species."

"Then don't listen to Parson John; and there's an end of the
discussion."

"No, there is not. I have not heard your advice what to do if John's
advice is not to be taken."

Mr. Mivers hesitated. He seemed puzzled.

"The fact is," said the Parson, "that Mivers got up 'The Londoner'
upon a principle that regulates his own mind,--find fault with the way
everything is done, but never commit yourself by saying how anything
can be done better."

"That is true," said Mivers, candidly. "The destructive order of mind
is seldom allied to the constructive. I and 'The Londoner' are
destructive by nature and by policy. We can reduce a building into
rubbish, but we don't profess to turn rubbish into a building. We are
critics, and, as you say, not such fools as to commit ourselves to the
proposition of amendments that can be criticised by others.
Nevertheless, for your sake, Cousin Peter, and on the condition that
if I give my advice you will never say that I gave it, and if you take
it that you will never reproach me if it turns out, as most advice
does, very ill,--I will depart from my custom and hazard my opinion."

"I accept the conditions."

"Well then, with every new generation there springs up a new order of
ideas. The earlier the age at which a man seizes the ideas that will
influence his own generation, the more he has a start in the race with
his contemporaries. If Kenelm comprehends at sixteen those
intellectual signs of the time which, when he goes up to college, he
will find young men of eighteen or twenty only just _prepared_ to
comprehend, he will produce a deep impression of his powers for
reasoning and their adaptation to actual life, which will be of great
service to him later. Now the ideas that influence the mass of the
rising generation never have their well-head in the generation itself.
They have their source in the generation before them, generally in a
small minority, neglected or contemned by the great majority which
adopt them later. Therefore a lad at the age of sixteen, if he wants
to get at such ideas, must come into close contact with some superior
mind in which they were conceived twenty or thirty years before. I am
consequently for placing Kenelm with a person from whom the new ideas
can be learned. I am also for his being placed in the metropolis
during the process of this initiation. With such introductions as are
at our command, he may come in contact not only with new ideas, but
with eminent men in all vocations. It is a great thing to mix betimes
with clever people. One picks their brains unconsciously. There is
another advantage, and not a small one, in this early entrance into
good society. A youth learns manners, self-possession, readiness of
resource; and he is much less likely to get into scrapes and contract
tastes for low vices and mean dissipation, when he comes into life
wholly his own master, after having acquired a predilection for
refined companionship under the guidance of those competent to select
it. There, I have talked myself out of breath. And you had better
decide at once in favour of my advice; for as I am of a contradictory
temperament, myself of to-morrow may probably contradict myself of
to-day."

Sir Peter was greatly impressed with his cousin's argumentative
eloquence.

The Parson smoked his cutty-pipe in silence until appealed to by Sir
Peter, and he then said, "In this programme of education for a
Christian gentleman, the part of Christian seems to me left out."

"The tendency of the age," observed Mr. Mivers, calmly, "is towards
that omission. Secular education is the necessary reaction from the
special theological training which arose in the dislike of one set of
Christians to the teaching of another set; and as these antagonists
will not agree how religion is to be taught, either there must be no
teaching at all, or religion must be eliminated from the tuition."

"That may do very well for some huge system of national education,"
said Sir Peter, "but it does not apply to Kenelm, as one of a family
all of whose members belong to the Established Church. He may be
taught the creed of his forefathers without offending a Dissenter."

"Which Established Church is he to belong to?" asked Mr.
Mivers,--"High Church, Low Church, Broad Church, Puseyite Church,
Ritualistic Church, or any other Established Church that may be coming
into fashion?"

"Pshaw!" said the Parson. "That sneer is out of place. You know very
well that one merit of our Church is the spirit of toleration, which
does not magnify every variety of opinion into a heresy or a schism.
But if Sir Peter sends his son at the age of sixteen to a tutor who
eliminates the religion of Christianity from his teaching, he deserves
to be thrashed within an inch of his life; and," continued the Parson,
eying Sir Peter sternly, and mechanically turning up his cuffs, "I
should _like_ to thrash him."

"Gently, John," said Sir Peter, recoiling; "gently, my dear kinsman.
My heir shall not be educated as a heathen, and Mivers is only
bantering us. Come, Mivers, do you happen to know among your London
friends some man who, though a scholar and a man of the world, is
still a Christian?"

"A Christian as by law established?"

"Well--yes."

"And who will receive Kenelm as a pupil?"

"Of course I am not putting, such questions to you out of idle
curiosity."

"I know exactly the man. He was originally intended for orders, and
is a very learned theologian. He relinquished the thought of the
clerical profession on succeeding to a small landed estate by the
sudden death of an elder brother. He then came to London and bought
experience: that is, he was naturally generous; he became easily taken
in; got into difficulties; the estate was transferred to trustees for
the benefit of creditors, and on the payment of L400 a year to
himself. By this time he was married and had two children. He found
the necessity of employing his pen in order to add to his income, and
is one of the ablest contributors to the periodical press. He is an
elegant scholar, an effective writer, much courted by public men, a
thorough gentleman, has a pleasant house, and receives the best
society. Having been once taken in, he defies any one to take him in
again. His experience was not bought too dearly. No more acute and
accomplished man of the world. The three hundred a year or so that
you would pay for Kenelm would suit him very well. His name is Welby,
and he lives in Chester Square."

"No doubt he is a contributor to 'The Londoner,'" said the Parson,
sarcastically.

"True. He writes our classical, theological, and metaphysical
articles. Suppose I invite him to come here for a day or two, and you
can see him and judge for yourself, Sir Peter?"

"Do."



CHAPTER X.

MR. WELBY arrived, and pleased everybody. A man of the happiest
manners, easy and courteous. There was no pedantry in him, yet you
could soon see that his reading covered an extensive surface, and here
and there had dived deeply. He enchanted the Parson by his comments
on Saint Chrysostom; he dazzled Sir Peter with his lore in the
antiquities of ancient Britain; he captivated Kenelm by his readiness
to enter into that most disputatious of sciences called metaphysics;
while for Lady Chillingly, and the three sisters who were invited to
meet him, he was more entertaining, but not less instructive. Equally
at home in novels and in good books, he gave to the spinsters a list
of innocent works in either; while for Lady Chillingly he sparkled
with anecdotes of fashionable life, the newest _bons mots_, the latest
scandals. In fact, Mr. Welby was one of those brilliant persons who
adorn any society amidst which they are thrown. If at heart he was a
disappointed man, the disappointment was concealed by an even serenity
of spirits; he had entertained high and justifiable hopes of a
brilliant career and a lasting reputation as a theologian and a
preacher; the succession to his estate at the age of twenty-three had
changed the nature of his ambition. The charm of his manner was such
that he sprang at once into the fashion, and became beguiled by his
own genial temperament into that lesser but pleasanter kind of
ambition which contents itself with social successes and enjoys the
present hour. When his circumstances compelled him to eke out his
income by literary profits, he slid into the grooves of periodical
composition, and resigned all thoughts of the labour required for any
complete work, which might take much time and be attended with scanty
profits. He still remained very popular in society, and perhaps his
general reputation for ability made him fearful to hazard it by any
great undertaking. He was not, like Mivers, a despiser of all men and
all things; but he regarded men and things as an indifferent though
good-natured spectator regards the thronging streets from a
drawing-room window. He could not be called _blase_, but he was
thoroughly _desillusionne_. Once over-romantic, his character now was
so entirely imbued with the neutral tints of life that romance
offended his taste as an obtrusion of violent colour into a sober
woof. He was become a thorough Realist in his code of criticism, and
in his worldly mode of action and thought. But Parson John did not
perceive this, for Welby listened to that gentleman's eulogies on the
Ideal school without troubling himself to contradict them. He had
grown too indolent to be combative in conversation, and only as a
critic betrayed such pugnacity as remained to him by the polished
cruelty of sarcasm.

He came off with flying colours through an examination into his Church
orthodoxy instituted by the Parson and Sir Peter. Amid a cloud of
ecclesiastical erudition, his own opinions vanished in those of the
Fathers. In truth, he was a Realist, in religion as in everything
else. He regarded Christianity as a type of existent civilization,
which ought to be reverenced, as one might recognize the other types
of that civilization; such as the liberty of the press, the
representative system, white neckcloths and black coats of an evening,
etc. He belonged, therefore, to what he himself called the school of
Eclectical Christiology; and accommodated the reasonings of Deism to
the doctrines of the Church, if not as a creed, at least as an
institution. Finally, he united all the Chillingly votes in his
favour; and when he departed from the Hall carried off Kenelm for his
initiation into the new ideas that were to govern his generation.



CHAPTER XI.

KENELM remained a year and a half with this distinguished preceptor.
During that time he learned much in book-lore; he saw much, too, of
the eminent men of the day, in literature, the law, and the senate.
He saw, also, a good deal of the fashionable world. Fine ladies, who
had been friends of his mother in her youth, took him up, counselled
and petted him,--one in especial, the Marchioness of Glenalvon, to
whom he was endeared by grateful association, for her youngest son had
been a fellow-pupil of Kenelm at Merton School, and Kenelm had saved
his life from drowning. The poor boy died of consumption later, and
her grief for his loss made her affection for Kenelm yet more tender.
Lady Glenalvon was one of the queens of the London world. Though in
the fiftieth year she was still very handsome: she was also very
accomplished, very clever, and very kind-hearted, as some of such
queens are; just one of those women invaluable in forming the manners
and elevating the character of young men destined to make a figure in
after-life. But she was very angry with herself in thinking that she
failed to arouse any such ambition in the heir of the Chillinglys.

It may here be said that Kenelm was not without great advantages of
form and countenance. He was tall, and the youthful grace of his
proportions concealed his physical strength, which was extraordinary
rather from the iron texture than the bulk of his thews and sinews.
His face, though it certainly lacked the roundness of youth, had a
grave, sombre, haunting sort of beauty, not artistically regular, but
picturesque, peculiar, with large dark expressive eyes, and a certain
indescribable combination of sweetness and melancholy in his quiet
smile. He never laughed audibly, but he had a quick sense of the
comic, and his eye would laugh when his lips were silent. He would
say queer, droll, unexpected things which passed for humour; but, save
for that gleam in the eye, he could not have said them with more
seeming innocence of intentional joke if he had been a monk of La
Trappe looking up from the grave he was digging in order to utter
"memento mori."

That face of his was a great "take in." Women thought it full of
romantic sentiment; the face of one easily moved to love, and whose
love would be replete alike with poetry and passion. But he remained
as proof as the youthful Hippolytus to all female attraction. He
delighted the Parson by keeping up his practice in athletic pursuits;
and obtained a reputation at the pugilistic school, which he attended
regularly, as the best gentleman boxer about town.

He made many acquaintances, but still formed no friendships. Yet
every one who saw him much conceived affection for him. If he did not
return that affection, he did not repel it. He was exceedingly gentle
in voice and manner, and had all his father's placidity of temper:
children and dogs took to him as by instinct.

On leaving Mr. Welby's, Kenelm carried to Cambridge a mind largely
stocked with the new ideas that were budding into leaf. He certainly
astonished the other freshmen, and occasionally puzzled the mighty
Fellows of Trinity and St. John's. But he gradually withdrew himself
much from general society. In fact, he was too old in mind for his
years; and after having mixed in the choicest circles of a metropolis,
college suppers and wine parties had little charm for him. He
maintained his pugilistic renown; and on certain occasions, when some
delicate undergraduate had been bullied by some gigantic bargeman, his
muscular Christianity nobly developed itself. He did not do as much
as he might have done in the more intellectual ways of academical
distinction. Still, he was always among the first in the college
examinations; he won two university prizes, and took a very creditable
degree, after which he returned home, more odd, more saturnine--in
short, less like other people--than when he had left Merton School.
He had woven a solitude round him out of his own heart, and in that
solitude he sat still and watchful as a spider sits in his web.

Whether from natural temperament or from his educational training
under such teachers as Mr. Mivers, who carried out the new ideas of
reform by revering nothing in the past, and Mr. Welby, who accepted
the routine of the present as realistic, and pooh-poohed all visions
of the future as idealistic, Kenelm's chief mental characteristic was
a kind of tranquil indifferentism. It was difficult to detect in him
either of those ordinary incentives to action,--vanity or ambition,
the yearning for applause or the desire of power. To all female
fascinations he had been hitherto star-proof. He had never
experienced love, but he had read a good deal about it; and that
passion seemed to him an unaccountable aberration of human reason, and
an ignominious surrender of the equanimity of thought which it should
be the object of masculine natures to maintain undisturbed. A very
eloquent book in praise of celibacy, and entitled "The Approach to the
Angels," written by that eminent Oxford scholar, Decimus Roach, had
produced so remarkable an effect upon his youthful mind that, had he
been a Roman Catholic, he might have become a monk. Where he most
evinced ardour it was a logician's ardour for abstract truth; that is,
for what he considered truth: and, as what seems truth to one man is
sure to seem falsehood to some other man, this predilection of his was
not without its inconveniences and dangers, as may probably be seen in
the following chapter.

Meanwhile, rightly to appreciate his conduct therein, I entreat thee,
O candid reader (not that any reader ever is candid), to remember that
he is brimful of new ideas, which, met by a deep and hostile
undercurrent of old ideas, become more provocatively billowy and
surging.



CHAPTER XII.

THERE had been great festivities at Exmundham, in celebration of the
honour bestowed upon the world by the fact that Kenelm Chillingly had
lived twenty-one years in it.

The young heir had made a speech to the assembled tenants and other
admitted revellers, which had by no means added to the exhilaration of
the proceedings. He spoke with a fluency and self-possession which
were surprising in a youth addressing a multitude for the first time.
But his speech was not cheerful.

The principal tenant on the estate, in proposing his health, had
naturally referred to the long line of his ancestors. His father's
merits as man and landlord had been enthusiastically commemorated; and
many happy auguries for his own future career had been drawn, partly
from the excellences of his parentage, partly from his own youthful
promise in the honours achieved at the University.

Kenelm Chillingly in reply largely availed himself of those new ideas
which were to influence the rising generation, and with which he had
been rendered familiar by the journal of Mr. Mivers and the
conversation of Mr. Welby.

He briefly disposed of the ancestral part of the question. He
observed that it was singular to note how long any given family or,
dynasty could continue to flourish in any given nook of matter in
creation, without any exhibition of intellectual powers beyond those
displayed by a succession of vegetable crops. "It is certainly true,"
he said, "that the Chillinglys have lived in this place from father to
son for about a fourth part of the history of the world, since the
date which Sir Isaac Newton assigns to the Deluge. But, so far as can
be judged by existent records, the world has not been in any way wiser
or better for their existence. They were born to eat as long as they
could eat, and when they could eat no longer they died. Not that in
this respect they were a whit less insignificant than the generality
of their fellow-creatures. Most of us now present," continued the
youthful orator, "are only born in order to die; and the chief
consolation of our wounded pride in admitting this fact is in the
probability that our posterity will not be of more consequence to the
scheme of Nature than we ourselves are." Passing from that
philosophical view of his own ancestors in particular, and of the
human race in general, Kenelm Chillingly then touched with serene
analysis on the eulogies lavished on his father as man and landlord.

"As man," he said, "my father no doubt deserves all that can be said
by man in favour of man. But what, at the best, is man? A crude,
struggling, undeveloped embryo, of whom it is the highest attribute
that he feels a vague consciousness that he is only an embryo, and
cannot complete himself till he ceases to be a man; that is, until he
becomes another being in another form of existence. We can praise a
dog as a dog, because a dog is a completed _ens_, and not an embryo.
But to praise a man as man, forgetting that he is only a germ out of
which a form wholly different is ultimately to spring, is equally
opposed to Scriptural belief in his present crudity and imperfection,
and to psychological or metaphysical examination of a mental
construction evidently designed for purposes that he can never fulfil
as man. That my father is an embryo not more incomplete than any
present is quite true; but that, you will see on reflection, is saying
very little on his behalf. Even in the boasted physical formation of
us men, you are aware that the best-shaped amongst us, according to
the last scientific discoveries, is only a development of some hideous
hairy animal, such as a gorilla; and the ancestral gorilla itself had
its own aboriginal forefather in a small marine animal shaped like a
two-necked bottle. The probability is that, some day or other, we
shall be exterminated by a new development of species.

"As for the merits assigned to my father as landlord, I must
respectfully dissent from the panegyrics so rashly bestowed on him.
For all sound reasoners must concur in this, that the first duty of an
owner of land is not to the occupiers to whom he leases it, but to the
nation at large. It is his duty to see that the land yields to the
community the utmost it can yield. In order to effect this object, a
landlord should put up his farms to competition, exacting the highest
rent he can possibly get from responsible competitors. Competitive
examination is the enlightened order of the day, even in professions
in which the best men would have qualities that defy examination. In
agriculture, happily, the principle of competitive examination is not
so hostile to the choice of the best man as it must be, for instance,
in diplomacy, where a Talleyrand would be excluded for knowing no
language but his own; and still more in the army, where promotion
would be denied to an officer who, like Marlborough, could not spell.
But in agriculture a landlord has only to inquire who can give the
highest rent, having the largest capital, subject by the strictest
penalties of law to the conditions of a lease dictated by the most
scientific agriculturists under penalties fixed by the most cautious
conveyancers. By this mode of procedure, recommended by the most
liberal economists of our age,--barring those still more liberal who
deny that property in land is any property at all,--by this mode of
procedure, I say, a landlord does his duty to his country. He secures
tenants who can produce the most to the community by their capital,
tested through competitive examination in their bankers' accounts and
the security they can give, and through the rigidity of covenants
suggested by a Liebig and reduced into law by a Chitty. But on my
father's land I see a great many tenants with little skill and less
capital, ignorant of a Liebig and revolting from a Chitty, and no
filial enthusiasm can induce me honestly to say that my father is a
good landlord. He has preferred his affection for individuals to his
duties to the community. It is not, my friends, a question whether a
handful of farmers like yourselves go to the workhouse or not. It is
a consumer's question. Do you produce the maximum of corn to the
consumer?

"With respect to myself," continued the orator, warming as the cold he
had engendered in his audience became more freezingly felt,--"with
respect to myself, I do not deny that, owing to the accident of
training for a very faulty and contracted course of education, I have
obtained what are called 'honours' at the University of Cambridge; but
you must not regard that fact as a promise of any worth in my future
passage through life. Some of the most useless persons--especially
narrow-minded and bigoted--have acquired far higher honours at the
University than have fallen to my lot.

"I thank you no less for the civil things you have said of me and of
my family; but I shall endeavour to walk to that grave to which we are
all bound with a tranquil indifference as to what people may say of me
in so short a journey. And the sooner, my friends, we get to our
journey's end, the better our chance of escaping a great many pains,
troubles, sins, and diseases. So that when I drink to your good
healths, you must feel that in reality I wish you an early deliverance
from the ills to which flesh is exposed, and which so generally
increase with our years that good health is scarcely compatible with
the decaying faculties of old age. Gentlemen, your good healths!"



CHAPTER XIII.

THE morning after these birthday rejoicings, Sir Peter and Lady
Chillingly held a long consultation on the peculiarities of their
heir, and the best mode of instilling into his mind the expediency
either of entertaining more pleasing views, or at least of professing
less unpopular sentiments; compatibly of course, though they did not
say it, with the new ideas that were to govern his century. Having
come to an agreement on this delicate subject, they went forth, arm in
arm, in search of their heir. Kenelm seldom met them at breakfast.
He was an early riser, and accustomed to solitary rambles before his
parents were out of bed.

The worthy pair found Kenelm seated on the banks of a trout-stream
that meandered through Chillingly Park, dipping his line into the
water, and yawning, with apparent relief in that operation.

"Does fishing amuse you, my boy?" said Sir Peter, heartily.

"Not in the least, sir," answered Kenelm.

"Then why do you do it?" asked Lady Chillingly.

"Because I know nothing else that amuses me more."

"Ah! that is it," said Sir Peter: "the whole secret of Kenelm's
oddities is to be found in these words, my dear; he needs amusement.
Voltaire says truly, 'Amusement is one of the wants of man.' And if
Kenelm could be amused like other people, he would be like other
people."

"In that case," said Kenelm, gravely, and extracting from the water a
small but lively trout, which settled itself in Lady Chillingly's
lap,--"in that case I would rather not be amused. I have no interest
in the absurdities of other people. The instinct of self-preservation
compels me to have some interest in my own."

"Kenelm, sir," exclaimed Lady Chillingly, with an animation into which
her tranquil ladyship was very rarely betrayed, "take away that horrid
damp thing! Put down your rod and attend to what your father says.
Your strange conduct gives us cause of serious anxiety."

Kenelm unhooked the trout, deposited the fish in his basket, and
raising his large eyes to his father's face, said, "What is there in
my conduct that occasions you displeasure?"

"Not displeasure, Kenelm," said Sir Peter, kindly, "but anxiety; your
mother has hit upon the right word. You see, my dear son, that it is
my wish that you should distinguish yourself in the world. You might
represent this county, as your ancestors have done before. I have
looked forward to the proceedings of yesterday as an admirable
occasion for your introduction to your future constituents. Oratory
is the talent most appreciated in a free country, and why should you
not be an orator? Demosthenes says that delivery, delivery, delivery,
is the art of oratory; and your delivery is excellent, graceful,
self-possessed, classical."

"Pardon me, my dear father, Demosthenes does not say delivery, nor
action, as the word is commonly rendered; he says, 'acting, or
stage-play,'--the art by which a man delivers a speech in a feigned
character, whence we get the word hypocrisy. Hypocrisy, hypocrisy,
hypocrisy! is, according to Demosthenes, the triple art of the orator.
Do you wish me to become triply a hypocrite?"

"Kenelm, I am ashamed of you. You know as well as I do that it is
only by metaphor that you can twist the word ascribed to the great
Athenian into the sense of hypocrisy. But assuming it, as you say, to
mean not delivery, but acting, I understand why your debut as an
orator was not successful. Your delivery was excellent, your acting
defective. An orator should please, conciliate, persuade, prepossess.
You did the reverse of all this; and though you produced a great
effect, the effect was so decidedly to your disadvantage that it would
have lost you an election on any hustings in England."

"Am I to understand, my dear father," said Kenelm, in the mournful and
compassionate tones with which a pious minister of the Church reproves
some abandoned and hoary sinner,--"am I to understand that you would
commend to your son the adoption of deliberate falsehood for the gain
of a selfish advantage?"

"Deliberate falsehood! you impertinent puppy!"

"Puppy!" repeated Kenelm, not indignantly but musingly,--"puppy! a
well-bred puppy takes after its parents."

Sir Peter burst out laughing.

Lady Chillingly rose with dignity, shook her gown, unfolded her
parasol, and stalked away speechless.

"Now, look you, Kenelm," said Sir Peter, as soon as he had composed
himself. "These quips and humours of yours are amusing enough to an
eccentric man like myself, but they will not do for the world; and how
at your age, and with the rare advantages you have had in an early
introduction to the best intellectual society, under the guidance of a
tutor acquainted with the new ideas which are to influence the conduct
of statesmen, you could have made so silly a speech as you did
yesterday, I cannot understand."

"My dear father, allow me to assure you that the ideas I expressed are
the new ideas most in vogue,--ideas expressed in still plainer, or, if
you prefer the epithet, still sillier terms than I employed. You will
find them instilled into the public mind by 'The Londoner' and by most
intellectual journals of a liberal character."

"Kenelm, Kenelm, such ideas would turn the world topsy-turvy."

"New ideas always do tend to turn old ideas topsy-turvy. And the
world, after all, is only an idea, which is turned topsy-turvy with
every successive century."

"You make me sick of the word 'ideas.' Leave off your metaphysics and
study real life."

"It is real life which I did study under Mr. Welby. He is the
Archimandrite of Realism. It is sham life which you wish me to study.
To oblige you I am willing to commence it. I dare say it is very
pleasant. Real life is not; on the contrary--dull," and Kenelm yawned
again.

"Have you no young friends among your fellow-collegians?"

"Friends! certainly not, sir. But I believe I have some enemies, who
answer the same purpose as friends, only they don't hurt one so much."

"Do you mean to say that you lived alone at Cambridge?"

"No, I lived a good deal with Aristophanes, and a little with Conic
Sections and Hydrostatics."

"Books. Dry company."

"More innocent, at least, than moist company. Did you ever get drunk,
sir?"

"Drunk!"

"I tried to do so once with the young companions whom you would
commend to me as friends. I don't think I succeeded, but I woke with
a headache. Real life at college abounds with headache."

"Kenelm, my boy, one thing is clear: you must travel."

"As you please, sir. Marcus Antoninus says that it is all one to a
stone whether it be thrown upwards or downwards. When shall I start?"

"Very soon. Of course there are preparations to make; you should have
a travelling companion. I don't mean a tutor,--you are too clever and
too steady to need one,--but a pleasant, sensible, well-mannered young
person of your own age."

"My own age,--male or female?"

Sir Peter tried hard to frown. The utmost he could do was to reply
gravely, "FEMALE! If I said you were too steady to need a tutor, it
was because you have hitherto seemed little likely to be led out of
your way by female allurements. Among your other studies may I
inquire if you have included that which no man has ever yet thoroughly
mastered,--the study of women?"

"Certainly. Do you object to my catching another trout?"

"Trout be--blessed, or the reverse. So you have studied woman. I
should never have thought it. Where and when did you commence that
department of science?"

"When? ever since I was ten years old. Where? first in your own
house, then at college. Hush!--a bite," and another trout left its
native element and alighted on Sir Peter's nose, whence it was
solemnly transferred to the basket.

"At ten years old, and in my own house! That flaunting hussy Jane,
the under-housemaid--"

"Jane! No, sir. Pamela, Miss Byron, Clarissa,--females in
Richardson, who, according to Dr. Johnson, 'taught the passions to
move at the command of virtue.' I trust for your sake that Dr. Johnson
did not err in that assertion, for I found all these females at night
in your own private apartments."

"Oh!" said Sir Peter, "that's all?"

"All I remember at ten years old," replied Kenelm.

"And at Mr. Welby's or at college," proceeded Sir Peter, timorously,
"was your acquaintance with females of the same kind?"

Kenelm shook his head. "Much worse: they were very naughty indeed at
college."

"I should think so, with such a lot of young fellows running after
them."

"Very few fellows run after the females. I mean--rather avoid them."

"So much the better."

"No, my father, so much the worse; without an intimate knowledge of
those females there is little use going to college at all."

"Explain yourself."

"Every one who receives a classical education is introduced into their
society,--Pyrrha and Lydia, Glycera and Corinna, and many more of the
same sort; and then the females in Aristophanes, what do you say to
them, sir?"

"Is it only females who lived two thousand or three thousand years
ago, or more probably never lived at all, whose intimacy you have
cultivated? Have you never admired any real women?"

"Real women! I never met one. Never met a woman who was not a sham,
a sham from the moment she is told to be pretty-behaved, conceal her
sentiments, and look fibs when she does not speak them. But if I am
to learn sham life, I suppose I must put up with sham women."

"Have you been crossed in love that you speak so bitterly of the sex?"

"I don't speak bitterly of the sex. Examine any woman on her oath,
and she'll own she is a sham, always has been, and always will be, and
is proud of it."

"I am glad your mother is not by to hear you. You will think
differently one of these days. Meanwhile, to turn to the other sex,
is there no young man of your own rank with whom you would like to
travel?"

"Certainly not. I hate quarrelling."

"As you please. But you cannot go quite alone: I will find you a good
travelling-servant. I must write to town to-day about your
preparations, and in another week or so I hope all will be ready.
Your allowance will be whatever you like to fix it at; you have never
been extravagant, and--boy--I love you. Amuse yourself, enjoy
yourself, and come back cured of your oddities, but preserving your
honour."

Sir Peter bent down and kissed his son's brow. Kenelm was moved; he
rose, put his arm round his father's shoulder, and lovingly said, in
an undertone, "If ever I am tempted to do a base thing, may I remember
whose son I am: I shall be safe then." He withdrew his arm as he said
this, and took his solitary way along the banks of the stream,
forgetful of rod and line.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE young man continued to skirt the side of the stream until he
reached the boundary pale of the park. Here, placed on a rough grass
mound, some former proprietor, of a social temperament, had built a
kind of belvidere, so as to command a cheerful view of the high road
below. Mechanically the heir of the Chillinglys ascended the mound,
seated himself within the belvidere, and leaned his chin on his hand
in a thoughtful attitude. It was rarely that the building was
honoured by a human visitor: its habitual occupants were spiders. Of
those industrious insects it was a well-populated colony. Their webs,
darkened with dust and ornamented with the wings and legs and
skeletons of many an unfortunate traveller, clung thick to angle and
window-sill, festooned the rickety table on which the young man leaned
his elbow, and described geometrical circles and rhomboids between the
gaping rails that formed the backs of venerable chairs. One large
black spider--who was probably the oldest inhabitant, and held
possession of the best place by the window, ready to offer perfidious
welcome to every winged itinerant who might be tempted to turn aside
from the high road for the sake of a little cool and repose--rushed
from its innermost penetralia at the entrance of Kenelm, and remained
motionless in the centre of its meshes, staring at him. It did not
seem quite sure whether the stranger was too big or not.

"It is a wonderful proof of the wisdom of Providence," said Kenelm,
"that whenever any large number of its creatures forms a community or
class, a secret element of disunion enters into the hearts of the
individuals forming the congregation, and prevents their co-operating
heartily and effectually for their common interest. 'The fleas would
have dragged me out of bed if they had been unanimous,' said the great
Mr. Curran; and there can be no doubt that if all the spiders in this
commonwealth would unite to attack me in a body, I should fall a
victim to their combined nippers. But spiders, though inhabiting the
same region, constituting the same race, animated by the same
instincts, do not combine even against a butterfly: each seeks his own
special advantage, and not that of the community at large. And how
completely the life of each thing resembles a circle in this respect,
that it can never touch another circle at more than one point. Nay, I
doubt if it quite touches it even there,--there is a space between
every atom; self is always selfish: and yet there are eminent masters
in the Academe of New Ideas who wish to make us believe that all the
working classes of a civilized world could merge every difference of
race, creed, intellect, individual propensities and interests into the
construction of a single web, stocked as a larder in common!" Here the
soliloquist came to a dead stop, and, leaning out of the window,
contemplated the high road. It was a very fine high road, straight
and level, kept in excellent order by turn pikes at every eight miles.
A pleasant greensward bordered it on either side, and under the
belvidere the benevolence of some mediaeval Chillingly had placed a
little drinking-fountain for the refreshment of wayfarers. Close to
the fountain stood a rude stone bench, overshadowed by a large willow,
and commanding from the high table-ground on which it was placed a
wide view of cornfields, meadows, and distant hills, suffused in the
mellow light of the summer sun. Along that road there came
successively a wagon filled with passengers seated on straw,--an old
woman, a pretty girl, two children; then a stout farmer going to
market in his dog-cart; then three flies carrying fares to the nearest
railway station; then a handsome young man on horseback, a handsome
young lady by his side, a groom behind. It was easy to see that the
young man and young lady were lovers. See it in his ardent looks and
serious lips parted but for whispers only to be heard by her; see it
in her downcast eyes and heightened colour. "'Alas! regardless of
their doom,'" muttered Kenelm, "what trouble those 'little victims'
are preparing for themselves and their progeny! Would I could lend
them Decimus Roach's 'Approach to the Angels'!" The road now for some
minutes became solitary and still, when there was heard to the right a
sprightly sort of carol, half sung, half recited, in musical voice,
with a singularly clear enunciation, so that the words reached
Kenelm's ear distinctly. They ran thus:--


 "Black Karl looked forth from his cottage door,
   He looked on the forest green;
  And down the path, with his dogs before,
   Came the Ritter of Neirestein:
  Singing, singing, lustily singing,
   Down the path with his dogs before,
  Came the Ritter of Neirestein."


At a voice so English, attuned to a strain so Germanic, Kenelm pricked
up attentive ears, and, turning his eye down the road, beheld,
emerging from the shade of beeches that overhung the park pales, a
figure that did not altogether harmonize with the idea of a Ritter of
Neirestein. It was, nevertheless, a picturesque figure enough. The
man was attired in a somewhat threadbare suit of Lincoln green, with a
high-crowned Tyrolese hat; a knapsack was slung behind his shoulders,
and he was attended by a white Pomeranian dog, evidently foot-sore,
but doing his best to appear proficient in the chase by limping some
yards in advance of his master, and sniffing into the hedges for rats
and mice, and such small deer.

By the time the pedestrian had reached to the close of his refrain he
had gained the fountain, and greeted it with an exclamation of
pleasure. Slipping the knapsack from his shoulder, he filled the iron
ladle attached to the basin. He then called the dog by the name of
Max, and held the ladle for him to drink. Not till the animal had
satisfied his thirst did the master assuage his own. Then, lifting
his hat and bathing his temples and face, the pedestrian seated
himself on the bench, and the dog nestled on the turf at his feet.
After a little pause the wayfarer began again, though in a lower and
slower tone, to chant his refrain, and proceeded, with abrupt
snatches, to link the verse on to another stanza. It was evident that
he was either endeavouring to remember or to invent, and it seemed
rather like the latter and more laborious operation of mind.


 "'Why on foot, why on foot, Ritter Karl,' quoth he,
   'And not on thy palfrey gray?'


Palfrey gray--hum--gray.


 "'The run of ill-luck was too strong for me,
   'And has galloped my steed away.'


That will do: good!"

"Good indeed! He is easily satisfied," muttered Kenelm. "But such
pedestrians don't pass the road every day. Let us talk to him." So
saying he slipped quietly out of the window, descended the mound, and
letting himself into the road by a screened wicket-gate, took his
noiseless stand behind the wayfarer and beneath the bowery willow.

The man had now sunk into silence. Perhaps he had tired himself of
rhymes; or perhaps the mechanism of verse-making had been replaced by
that kind of sentiment, or that kind of revery, which is common to the
temperaments of those who indulge in verse-making. But the loveliness
of the scene before him had caught his eye, and fixed it into an
intent gaze upon wooded landscapes stretching farther and farther to
the range of hills on which the heaven seemed to rest.

"I should like to hear the rest of that German ballad," said a voice,
abruptly.

The wayfarer started, and, turning round, presented to Kenelm's view a
countenance in the ripest noon of manhood, with locks and beard of a
deep rich auburn, bright blue eyes, and a wonderful nameless charm
both of feature and expression, very cheerful, very frank, and not
without a certain nobleness of character which seemed to exact
respect.

"I beg your pardon for my interruption," said Kenelm, lifting his hat:
"but I overheard you reciting; and though I suppose your verses are a
translation from the German, I don't remember anything like them in
such popular German poets as I happen to have read."

"It is not a translation, sir," replied the itinerant. "I was only
trying to string together some ideas that came into my head this fine
morning."

"You are a poet, then?" said Kenelm, seating himself on the bench.

"I dare not say poet. I am a verse-maker."

"Sir, I know there is a distinction. Many poets of the present day,
considered very good, are uncommonly bad verse-makers. For my part, I
could more readily imagine them to be good poets if they did not make
verses at all. But can I not hear the rest of the ballad?"

"Alas! the rest of the ballad is not yet made. It is rather a long
subject, and my flights are very brief."

"That is much in their favour, and very unlike the poetry in fashion.
You do not belong, I think, to this neighbourhood. Are you and your
dog travelling far?"

"It is my holiday time, and I ramble on through the summer. I am
travelling far, for I travel till September. Life amid summer fields
is a very joyous thing."

"Is it indeed?" said Kenelm, with much _naivete_. "I should have
thought that long before September you would have got very much bored
with the fields and the dog and yourself altogether. But, to be sure,
you have the resource of verse-making, and that seems a very pleasant
and absorbing occupation to those who practise it,--from our old
friend Horace, kneading laboured Alcaics into honey in his summer
rambles among the watered woodlands of Tibur, to Cardinal Richelieu,
employing himself on French rhymes in the intervals between chopping
off noblemen's heads. It does not seem to signify much whether the
verses be good or bad, so far as the pleasure of the verse-maker
himself is concerned; for Richelieu was as much charmed with his
occupation as Horace was, and his verses were certainly not Horatian."

"Surely at your age, sir, and with your evident education--"

"Say culture; that's the word in fashion nowadays."

"Well, your evident culture, you must have made verses."

"Latin verses, yes; and occasionally Greek. I was obliged to do so at
school. It did not amuse me."

"Try English."

Kenelm shook his head. "Not I. Every cobbler should stick to his
last."

"Well, put aside the verse-making: don't you find a sensible enjoyment
in those solitary summer walks, when you have Nature all to
yourself,--enjoyment in marking all the mobile evanescent changes in
her face,--her laugh, her smile, her tears, her very frown!"

"Assuming that by Nature you mean a mechanical series of external
phenomena, I object to your speaking of a machinery as if it were a
person of the feminine gender,--_her_ laugh, _her_ smile, etc. As
well talk of the laugh and smile of a steam-engine. But to descend to
common-sense. I grant there is some pleasure in solitary rambles in
fine weather and amid varying scenery. You say that it is a holiday
excursion that you are enjoying. I presume, therefore, that you have
some practical occupation which consumes the time that you do not
devote to a holiday?"

"Yes; I am not altogether an idler. I work sometimes, though not so
hard as I ought. 'Life is earnest,' as the poet says. But I and my
dog are rested now, and as I have still a long walk before me I must
wish you good-day."

"I fear," said Kenelm, with a grave and sweet politeness of tone and
manner, which he could command at times, and which, in its difference
from merely conventional urbanity, was not without fascination,--"I
fear that I have offended you by a question that must have seemed to
you inquisitive, perhaps impertinent; accept my excuse: it is very
rarely that I meet any one who interests me; and you do." As he spoke
he offered his hand, which the wayfarer shook very cordially.

"I should be a churl indeed if your question could have given me
offence. It is rather perhaps I who am guilty of impertinence, if I
take advantage of my seniority in years and tender you a counsel. Do
not despise Nature or regard her as a steam-engine; you will find in
her a very agreeable and conversable friend if you will cultivate her
intimacy. And I don't know a better mode of doing so at your age, and
with your strong limbs, than putting a knapsack on your shoulders and
turning foot-traveller like myself."

"Sir, I thank you for your counsel; and I trust we may meet again and
interchange ideas as to the thing you call Nature,--a thing which
science and art never appear to see with the same eyes. If to an
artist Nature has a soul, why, so has a steam-engine. Art gifts with
soul all matter that it contemplates: science turns all that is
already gifted with soul into matter. Good-day, sir."

Here Kenelm turned back abruptly, and the traveller went his way,
silently and thoughtfully.



CHAPTER XV.

KENELM retraced his steps homeward under the shade of his "old
hereditary trees." One might have thought his path along the
greenswards, and by the side of the babbling rivulet, was pleasanter
and more conducive to peaceful thoughts than the broad, dusty
thoroughfare along which plodded the wanderer he had quitted. But the
man addicted to revery forms his own landscapes and colours his own
skies.

"It is," soliloquized Kenelm Chillingly, "a strange yearning I have
long felt,--to get out of myself, to get, as it were, into another
man's skin, and have a little variety of thought and emotion. One's
self is always the same self; and that is why I yawn so often. But if
I can't get into another man's skin, the next best thing is to get as
unlike myself as I possibly can do. Let me see what is myself.
Myself is Kenelm Chillingly, son and heir to a rich gentleman. But a
fellow with a knapsack on his back, sleeping at wayside inns, is not
at all like Kenelm Chillingly; especially if he is very short of money
and may come to want a dinner. Perhaps that sort of fellow may take a
livelier view of things: he can't take a duller one. Courage, Myself:
you and I can but try."

For the next two days Kenelm was observed to be unusually pleasant.
He yawned much less frequently, walked with his father, played piquet
with his mother, was more like other people. Sir Peter was charmed:
he ascribed this happy change to the preparations he was making for
Kenelm's travelling in style. The proud father was in active
correspondence with his great London friends, seeking letters of
introduction for Kenelm to all the courts of Europe. Portmanteaus,
with every modern convenience, were ordered; an experienced courier,
who could talk all languages and cook French dishes if required, was
invited to name his terms. In short, every arrangement worthy a young
patrician's entrance into the great world was in rapid progress, when
suddenly Kenelm Chillingly disappeared, leaving behind him on Sir
Peter's library table the following letter:--


MY VERY DEAR FATHER,--Obedient to your desire, I depart in search of
real life and real persons, or of the best imitations of them.
Forgive me, I beseech you, if I commence that search in my own way. I
have seen enough of ladies and gentlemen for the present: they must be
all very much alike in every part of the world. You desired me to be
amused. I go to try if that be possible. Ladies and gentlemen are
not amusing; the more ladylike or gentlemanlike they are, the more
insipid I find them. My dear father, I go in quest of adventure like
Amadis of Gaul, like Don Quixote, like Gil Blas, like Roderick Random;
like, in short, the only people seeking real life, the people who
never existed except in books. I go on foot; I go alone. I have
provided myself with a larger amount of money than I ought to spend,
because every man must buy experience, and the first fees are heavy.
In fact, I have put fifty pounds into my pocket-book and into my purse
five sovereigns and seventeen shillings. This sum ought to last me a
year; but I dare say inexperience will do me out of it in a month, so
we will count it as nothing. Since you have asked me to fix my own
allowance, I will beg you kindly to commence it this day in advance,
by an order to your banker to cash my checks to the amount of five
pounds, and to the same amount monthly; namely, at the rate of sixty
pounds a year. With that sum I can't starve, and if I want more it
may be amusing to work for it. Pray don't send after me, or institute
inquiries, or disturb the household and set all the neighbourhood
talking, by any mention either of my project or of your surprise at
it. I will not fail to write to you from time to time. You will judge
best what to say to my dear mother. If you tell her the truth, which
of course I should do did I tell her anything, my request is virtually
frustrated, and I shall be the talk of the county. You, I know, don't
think telling fibs is immoral when it happens to be convenient, as it
would be in this case.

I expect to be absent a year or eighteen months; if I prolong my
travels it shall be in the way you proposed. I will then take my
place in polite society, call upon you to pay all expenses, and fib on
my own account to any extent required by that world of fiction which
is peopled by illusions and governed by shams.

Heaven bless you, my dear Father, and be quite sure that if I get into
any trouble requiring a friend, it is to you I shall turn. As yet I
have no other friend on earth, and with prudence and good luck I may
escape the infliction of any other friend.

   Yours ever affectionately,

     KENELM.

P. S.--Dear Father, I open my letter in your library to say again
"Bless you," and to tell you how fondly I kissed your old beaver
gloves, which I found on the table.


When Sir Peter came to that postscript he took off his spectacles and
wiped them: they were very moist.

Then he fell into a profound meditation. Sir Peter was, as I have
said, a learned man; he was also in some things a sensible man, and he
had a strong sympathy with the humorous side of his son's crotchety
character. What was to be said to Lady Chillingly? That matron was
quite guiltless of any crime which should deprive her of a husband's
confidence in a matter relating to her only son. She was a virtuous
matron; morals irreproachable, manners dignified, and _she-baronety_.
Any one seeing her for the first time would intuitively say, "Your
ladyship." Was this a matron to be suppressed in any well-ordered
domestic circle? Sir Peter's conscience loudly answered, "No;" but
when, putting conscience into his pocket, he regarded the question at
issue as a man of the world, Sir Peter felt that to communicate the
contents of his son's letter to Lady Chillingly would be the
foolishest thing he could possibly do. Did she know that Kenelm had
absconded with the family dignity invested in his very name, no
marital authority short of such abuses of power as constitute the
offence of cruelty in a wife's action for divorce from social board
and nuptial bed could prevent Lady Chillingly from summoning all the
grooms, sending them in all directions with strict orders to bring
back the runaway dead or alive; the walls would be placarded with
hand-bills, "Strayed from his home," etc.; the police would be
telegraphing private instructions from town to town; the scandal would
stick to Kenelm Chillingly for life, accompanied with vague hints of
criminal propensities and insane hallucinations; he would be ever
afterwards pointed out as "THE MAN WHO HAD DISAPPEARED." And to
disappear and to turn up again, instead of being murdered, is the most
hateful thing a man can do: all the newspapers bark at him, "Tray,
Blanche, Sweetheart, and all;" strict explanations of the unseemly
fact of his safe existence are demanded in the name of public decorum,
and no explanations are accepted; it is life saved, character lost.

Sir Peter seized his hat and walked forth, not to deliberate whether
to fib or not to fib to the wife of his bosom, but to consider what
kind of fib would the most quickly sink into the bosom of his wife.

A few turns to and fro on the terrace sufficed for the conception and
maturing of the fib selected; a proof that Sir Peter was a practised
fibber. He re-entered the house, passed into her ladyship's habitual
sitting-room, and said with careless gayety, "My old friend the Duke
of Clareville is just setting off on a tour to Switzerland with his
family. His youngest daughter, Lady Jane, is a pretty girl, and would
not be a bad match for Kenelm."

"Lady Jane, the youngest daughter with fair hair, whom I saw last as a
very charming child, nursing a lovely doll presented to her by the
Empress Eugenie,--a good match indeed for Kenelm."

"I am glad you agree with me. Would it not be a favourable step
towards that alliance, and an excellent thing for Kenelm generally, if
he were to visit the Continent as one of the Duke's travelling party?"

"Of course it would."

"Then you approve what I have done; the Duke starts the day after
to-morrow, and I have packed Kenelm off to town, with a letter to my
old friend. You will excuse all leave taking. You know that though
the best of sons he is an odd fellow; and seeing that I had talked him
into it, I struck while the iron was hot, and sent him off by the
express at nine o'clock this morning, for fear that if I allowed any
delay he would talk himself out of it."

"Do you mean to say Kenelm is actually gone? Good gracious."

Sir Peter stole softly from the room, and summoning his valet, said,
"I have sent Mr. Chillingly to London. Pack up the clothes he is
likely to want, so that he can have them sent at once, whenever he
writes for them."

And thus, by a judicious violation of truth on the part of his father,
that exemplary truth-teller Kenelm Chillingly saved the honour of his
house and his own reputation from the breath of scandal and the
inquisition of the police. He was not "THE MAN WHO HAD DISAPPEARED."



BOOK II.



CHAPTER I.

KENELM CHILLINGLY had quitted the paternal home at daybreak before any
of the household was astir. "Unquestionably," said he, as he walked
along the solitary lanes,--"unquestionably I begin the world as poets
begin poetry, an imitator and a plagiarist. I am imitating an
itinerant verse-maker, as, no doubt, he began by imitating some other
maker of verse. But if there be anything in me, it will work itself
out in original form. And, after all, the verse-maker is not the
inventor of ideas. Adventure on foot is a notion that remounts to the
age of fable. Hercules, for instance; that was the way in which he
got to heaven, as a foot-traveller. How solitary the world is at this
hour! Is it not for that reason that this is of all hours the most
beautiful?"

Here he paused, and looked around and above. It was the very height
of summer. The sun was just rising over gentle sloping uplands. All
the dews on the hedgerows sparkled. There was not a cloud in the
heavens. Up rose from the green blades of corn a solitary skylark.
His voice woke up the other birds. A few minutes more and the joyous
concert began. Kenelm reverently doffed his hat, and bowed his head
in mute homage and thanksgiving.



CHAPTER II.

ABOUT nine o'clock Kenelm entered a town some twelve miles distant
from his father's house, and towards which he had designedly made his
way, because in that town he was scarcely if at all known by sight,
and he might there make the purchases he required without attracting
any marked observation. He had selected for his travelling costume a
shooting-dress, as the simplest and least likely to belong to his rank
as a gentleman. But still in its very cut there was an air of
distinction, and every labourer he had met on the way had touched his
hat to him. Besides, who wears a shooting-dress in the middle of
June, or a shooting-dress at all, unless he be either a game-keeper or
a gentleman licensed to shoot?

Kenelm entered a large store-shop for ready-made clothes and purchased
a suit such as might be worn on Sundays by a small country yeoman or
tenant-farmer of a petty holding,--a stout coarse broadcloth upper
garment, half coat, half jacket, with waistcoat to match, strong
corduroy trousers, a smart Belcher neckcloth, with a small stock of
linen and woollen socks in harmony with the other raiment. He bought
also a leathern knapsack, just big enough to contain this wardrobe,
and a couple of books, which with his combs and brushes he had brought
away in his pockets; for among all his trunks at home there was no
knapsack.

These purchases made and paid for, he passed quickly through the town,
and stopped at a humble inn at the outskirt, to which he was attracted
by the notice, "Refreshment for man and beast." He entered a little
sanded parlour, which at that hour he had all to himself, called for
breakfast, and devoured the best part of a fourpenny loaf with a
couple of hard eggs.

Thus recruited, he again sallied forth, and deviating into a thick
wood by the roadside, he exchanged the habiliments with which he had
left home for those he had purchased, and by the help of one or two
big stones sunk the relinquished garments into a small but deep pool
which he was lucky enough to find in a bush-grown dell much haunted by
snipes in the winter.

"Now," said Kenelm, "I really begin to think I have got out of myself.
I am in another man's skin; for what, after all, is a skin but a
soul's clothing, and what is clothing but a decenter skin? Of its own
natural skin every civilized soul is ashamed. It is the height of
impropriety for any one but the lowest kind of savage to show it. If
the purest soul now existent upon earth, the Pope of Rome's or the
Archbishop of Canterbury's, were to pass down the Strand with the skin
which Nature gave to it bare to the eye, it would be brought up before
a magistrate, prosecuted by the Society for the Suppression of Vice,
and committed to jail as a public nuisance.

"Decidedly I am now in another man's skin. Kenelm Chillingly, I no
longer

   "Remain

     "Yours faithfully;

"But am,

   "With profound consideration,

     "Your obedient humble servant."

With light step and elated crest, the wanderer, thus transformed,
sprang from the wood into the dusty thoroughfare. He had travelled on
for about an hour, meeting but few other passengers, when he heard to
the right a loud shrill young voice, "Help! help! I will not go; I
tell you, I will not!" Just before him stood, by a high five-barred
gate, a pensive gray cob attached to a neat-looking gig. The bridle
was loose on the cob's neck. The animal was evidently accustomed to
stand quietly when ordered to do so, and glad of the opportunity.

The cries, "Help, help!" were renewed, mingled with louder tones in a
rougher voice, tones of wrath and menace. Evidently these sounds did
not come from the cob. Kenelm looked over the gate, and saw a few
yards distant in a grass field a well-dressed boy struggling violently
against a stout middle-aged man who was rudely hauling him along by
the arm.

The chivalry natural to a namesake of the valiant Sir Kenelm Digby was
instantly aroused. He vaulted over the gate, seized the man by the
collar, and exclaimed, "For shame! what are you doing to that poor
boy? let him go!"

"Why the devil do you interfere?" cried the stout man, his eyes
glaring and his lips foaming with rage. "Ah, are you the villain?
yes, no doubt of it. I'll give it to you, jackanapes," and still
grasping the boy with one hand, with the other the stout man darted a
blow at Kenelm, from which nothing less than the practised pugilistic
skill and natural alertness of the youth thus suddenly assaulted could
have saved his eyes and nose. As it was, the stout man had the worst
of it: the blow was parried, returned with a dexterous manoeuvre of
Kenelm's right foot in Cornish fashion, and _procumbit humi bos_; the
stout man lay sprawling on his back. The boy, thus released, seized
hold of Kenelm by the arm, and hurrying him along up the field, cried,
"Come, come before he gets up! save me! save me!" Ere he had
recovered his own surprise, the boy had dragged Kenelm to the gate,
and jumped into the gig, sobbing forth, "Get in, get in, I can't
drive; get in, and drive--you. Quick! Quick!"

"But--" began Kenelm.

"Get in, or I shall go mad." Kenelm obeyed; the boy gave him the
reins, and seizing the whip himself, applied it lustily to the cob.
On sprang the cob. "Stop, stop, stop, thief! villain! Holloa!
thieves! thieves! thieves! stop!" cried a voice behind. Kenelm
involuntarily turned his head and beheld the stout man perched upon
the gate and gesticulating furiously. It was but a glimpse; again the
whip was plied, the cob frantically broke into a gallop, the gig
jolted and bumped and swerved, and it was not till they had put a good
mile between themselves and the stout man that Kenelm succeeded in
obtaining possession of the whip and calming the cob into a rational
trot.

"Young gentleman," then said Kenelm, "perhaps you will have the
goodness to explain."

"By and by; get on, that's a good fellow; you shall be well paid for
it, well and handsomely."

Quoth Kenelm, gravely, "I know that in real life payment and service
naturally go together. But we will put aside the payment till you
tell me what is to be the service. And first, whither am I to drive
you? We are coming to a place where three roads meet; which of the
three shall I take?"

"Oh, I don't know; there is a finger-post. I want to get to,--but it
is a secret; you'll not betray me? Promise,--swear."

"I don't swear except when I am in a passion, which, I am sorry to
say, is very seldom; and I don't promise till I know what I promise;
neither do I go on driving runaway boys in other men's gigs unless I
know that I am taking them to a safe place, where their papas and
mammas can get at them."

"I have no papa, no mamma," said the boy, dolefully and with quivering
lips.

"Poor boy! I suppose that burly brute is your schoolmaster, and you
are running away home for fear of a flogging."

The boy burst out laughing; a pretty, silvery, merry laugh: it
thrilled through Kenelm Chillingly. "No, he would not flog me: he is
not a schoolmaster; he is worse than that."

"Is it possible? What is he?"

"An uncle."

"Hum! uncles are proverbial for cruelty; were so in the classical
days, and Richard III. was the only scholar in his family."

"Eh! classical and Richard III.!" said the boy, startled, and looking
attentively at the pensive driver. "Who are you? you talk like a
gentleman."

"I beg pardon. I'll not do so again if I can help it."--"Decidedly,"
thought Kenelm, "I am beginning to be amused. What a blessing it is
to get into another man's skin, and another man's gig too!" Aloud,
"Here we are at the fingerpost. If you are running away from your
uncle, it is time to inform me where you are running to."

Here the boy leaned over the gig and examined the fingerpost. Then he
clapped his hands joyfully.

"All right! I thought so, 'To Tor-Hadham, eighteen miles.' That's the
road to 'Tor-Hadham."

"Do you mean to say I am to drive you all that way,--eighteen miles?"

"Yes."

"And to whom are you going?"

"I will tell you by and by. Do go on; do, pray. I can't drive--never
drove in my life--or I would not ask you. Pray, pray, don't desert
me! If you are a gentleman you will not; and if you are not a
gentleman, I have got L10 in my purse, which you shall have when I am
safe at Tor-Hadham. Don't hesitate: my whole life is at stake!" And
the boy began once more to sob.

Kenelm directed the pony's head towards Tor-Hadham, and the boy ceased
to sob.

"You are a good, dear fellow," said the boy, wiping his eyes. "I am
afraid I am taking you very much out of your road."

"I have no road in particular, and would as soon go to Tor-Hadham,
which I have never seen, as anywhere else. I am but a wanderer on the
face of the earth."

"Have you lost your papa and mamma too? Why, you are not much older
than I am."

"Little gentleman," said Kenelm, gravely, "I am just of age, and you,
I suppose, are about fourteen."

"What fun!" cried the boy, abruptly. "Isn't it fun?"

"It will not be fun if I am sentenced to penal servitude for stealing
your uncle's gig, and robbing his little nephew of L10. By the by,
that choleric relation of yours meant to knock down somebody else when
he struck at me. He asked, 'Are you the villain?' Pray who is the
villain? he is evidently in your confidence."

"Villain! he is the most honourable, high-minded--But no matter now:
I'll introduce you to him when we reach Tor-Hadham. Whip that pony:
he is crawling."

"It is up hill: a good man spares his beast."

No art and no eloquence could extort from his young companion any
further explanation than Kenelm had yet received; and indeed, as the
journey advanced, and they approached their destination, both parties
sank into silence. Kenelm was seriously considering that his first
day's experience of real life in the skin of another had placed in
some peril his own. He had knocked down a man evidently respectable
and well to do, had carried off that man's nephew, and made free with
that man's goods and chattels; namely, his gig and horse. All this
might be explained satisfactorily to a justice of the peace, but how?
By returning to his former skin; by avowing himself to be Kenelm
Chillingly, a distinguished university medalist, heir to no ignoble
name and some L10,000 a year. But then what a scandal! he who
abhorred scandal; in vulgar parlance, what a "row!" he who denied that
the very word "row" was sanctioned by any classic authorities in the
English language. He would have to explain how he came to be found
disguised, carefully disguised, in garments such as no baronet's
eldest son--even though that baronet be the least ancestral man of
mark whom it suits the convenience of a First Minister to recommend to
the Sovereign for exaltation over the rank of Mister--was ever beheld
in, unless he had taken flight to the gold-diggings. Was this a
position in which the heir of the Chillinglys, a distinguished family,
whose coat-of-arms dated from the earliest authenticated period of
English heraldry under Edward III. as Three Fishes _azure_, could be
placed without grievous slur on the cold and ancient blood of the
Three Fishes?

And then individually to himself, Kenelm, irrespectively of the Three
Fishes,--what a humiliation! He had put aside his respected father's
deliberate preparations for his entrance into real life; he had
perversely chosen his own walk on his own responsibility; and here,
before half the first day was over, what an infernal scrape he had
walked himself into! and what was his excuse? A wretched little boy,
sobbing and chuckling by turns, and yet who was clever enough to twist
Kenelm Chillingly round his finger; twist _him_, a man who thought
himself so much wiser than his parents,--a man who had gained honours
at the University,--a man of the gravest temperament,--a man of so
nicely critical a turn of mind that there was not a law of art or
nature in which he did not detect a flaw; that he should get himself
into this mess was, to say the least of it, an uncomfortable
reflection.

The boy himself, as Kenelm glanced at him from time to time, became
impish and Will-of-the-Wisp-ish. Sometimes he laughed to himself
loudly, sometimes he wept to himself quietly; sometimes, neither
laughing nor weeping, he seemed absorbed in reflection. Twice as they
came nearer to the town of Tor-Hadham, Kenelm nudged the boy, and
said, "My boy, I must talk with you;" and twice the boy, withdrawing
his arm from the nudge, had answered dreamily, "Hush! I am thinking."

And so they entered the town of Tor-Hadham, the cob very much done up.



CHAPTER III.

"NOW, young sir," said Kenelm, in a tone calm, but peremptory,--"now
we are in the town, where am I to take you? and wherever it be, there
to say good-by."

"No, not good-by. Stay with me a little bit. I begin to feel
frightened, and I am so friendless;" and the boy, who had before
resented the slightest nudge on the part of Kenelm, now wound his arm
into Kenelm's, and clung to him caressingly.

I don't know what my readers have hitherto thought of Kenelm
Chillingly: but, amid all the curves and windings of his whimsical
humour, there was one way that went straight to his heart; you had
only to be weaker than himself and ask his protection.

He turned round abruptly; he forgot all the strangeness of his
position, and replied: "Little brute that you are, I'll be shot if I
forsake you if in trouble. But some compassion is also due to the
cob: for his sake say where we are to stop."

"I am sure I can't say: I never was here before. Let us go to a nice
quiet inn. Drive slowly: we'll look out for one."

Tor-Hadham was a large town, not nominally the capital of the county,
but, in point of trade and bustle and life, virtually the capital.
The straight street, through which the cob went as slowly as if he had
been drawing a Triumphal Car up the Sacred Hill, presented an animated
appearance. The shops had handsome facades and plate-glass windows;
the pavements exhibited a lively concourse, evidently not merely of
business, but of pleasure, for a large proportion of the passers-by
was composed of the fair sex, smartly dressed, many of them young and
some pretty. In fact a regiment of her Majesty's -----th Hussars had
been sent into the town two days before; and, between the officers of
that fortunate regiment and the fair sex in that hospitable town,
there was a natural emulation which should make the greater number of
slain and wounded. The advent of these heroes, professional
subtracters from hostile and multipliers of friendly populations, gave
a stimulus to the caterers for those amusements which bring young
folks together,--archery-meetings, rifle-shootings, concerts, balls,
announced in bills attached to boards and walls and exposed at
shop-windows.

The boy looked eagerly forth from the gig, scanning especially these
advertisements, till at length he uttered an excited exclamation, "Ah,
I was right: there it is!"

"There what is?" asked Kenelm,--"the inn?" His companion did not
answer, but Kenelm following the boy's eye perceived an immense
hand-bill.


   "TO-MORROW NIGHT THEATRE OPENS.

   "RICHARD III. Mr. COMPTON."


"Do just ask where the theatre is," said the boy, in a whisper,
turning away his head.

Kenelm stopped the cob, made the inquiry, and was directed to take the
next turning to the right. In a few minutes the compo portico of an
ugly dilapidated building, dedicated to the Dramatic Muses, presented
itself at the angle of a dreary, deserted lane. The walls were
placarded with play-bills, in which the name of Compton stood forth as
gigantic as capitals could make it. The boy drew a sigh. "Now," said
he, "let us look out for an inn near here,--the nearest."

No inn, however, beyond the rank of a small and questionable looking
public-house was apparent, until at a distance somewhat remote from
the theatre, and in a quaint, old-fashioned, deserted square, a neat,
newly whitewashed house displayed upon its frontispiece, in large
black letters of funereal aspect, "Temperance Hotel."

"Stop," said the boy; "don't you think that would suit us? it looks
quiet."

"Could not look more quiet if it were a tombstone," replied Kenelm.

The boy put his hand upon the reins and stopped the cob. The cob was
in that condition that the slightest touch sufficed to stop him,
though he turned his head somewhat ruefully as if in doubt whether hay
and corn would be within the regulations of a Temperance Hotel.
Kenelm descended and entered the house. A tidy woman emerged from a
sort of glass cupboard which constituted the bar, minus the comforting
drinks associated with the _beau ideal_ of a bar, but which displayed
instead two large decanters of cold water with tumblers _a discretion_,
and sundry plates of thin biscuits and sponge-cakes. This tidy woman
politely inquired what was his "pleasure."

"Pleasure," answered Kenelm, with his usual gravity, "is not the word
I should myself have chosen. But could you oblige my horse--I mean
_that_ horse--with a stall and a feed of oats, and that young
gentleman and myself with a private room and a dinner?"

"Dinner!" echoed the hostess,--"dinner!"

"A thousand pardons, ma'am. But if the word 'dinner' shock you I
retract it, and would say instead something to eat and drink.'"

"Drink! This is strictly a Temperance Hotel, sir."

"Oh, if you don't eat and drink here," exclaimed Kenelm, fiercely, for
he was famished, "I wish you good morning."

"Stay a bit, sir. We do eat and drink here. But we are very simple
folks. We allow no fermented liquors."

"Not even a glass of beer?"

"Only ginger-beer. Alcohols are strictly forbidden. We have tea and
coffee and milk. But most of our customers prefer the pure liquid.
As for eating, sir,--anything you order, in reason."

Kenelm shook his head and was retreating, when the boy, who had sprung
from the gig and overheard the conversation, cried petulantly, "What
does it signify? Who wants fermented liquors? Water will do very
well. And as for dinner,--anything convenient. Please, ma'am, show
us into a private room: I am so tired." The last words were said in a
caressing manner, and so prettily, that the hostess at once changed
her tone, and muttering, "Poor boy!" and, in a still more subdued
mutter, "What a pretty face he has!" nodded, and led the way up a
very clean old-fashioned staircase.

"But the horse and gig, where are they to go?" said Kenelm, with a
pang of conscience on reflecting how ill treated hitherto had been
both horse and owner.

"Oh, as for the horse and gig, sir, you will find Jukes's
livery-stables a few yards farther down. We don't take in horses
ourselves; our customers seldom keep them: but you will find the best
of accommodation at Jukes's."

Kenelm conducted the cob to the livery-stables thus indicated, and
waited to see him walked about to cool, well rubbed down, and made
comfortable over half a peck of oats,--for Kenelm Chillingly was a
humane man to the brute creation,--and then, in a state of ravenous
appetite, returned to the Temperance Hotel, and was ushered into a
small drawing-room, with a small bit of carpet in the centre, six
small chairs with cane seats, prints on the walls descriptive of the
various effects of intoxicating liquors upon sundry specimens of
mankind,--some resembling ghosts, others fiends, and all with a
general aspect of beggary and perdition; contrasted by Happy-Family
pictures,--smiling wives, portly husbands, rosy infants, emblematic of
the beatified condition of members of the Temperance Society.

A table with a spotless cloth, and knives and forks for two, chiefly,
however, attracted Kenelm's attention.

The boy was standing by the window, seemingly gazing on a small
aquarium which was there placed, and contained the usual variety of
small fishes, reptiles, and insects, enjoying the pleasures of
Temperance in its native element, including, of course, an occasional
meal upon each other.

"What are they going to give us to eat?" inquired Kenelm. "It must be
ready by this time I should think."

Here he gave a brisk tug at the bell-pull. The boy advanced from the
window, and as he did so Kenelm was struck with the grace of his
bearing, and the improvement in his looks, now that he was without his
hat, and rest and ablution had refreshed from heat and dust the
delicate bloom of his complexion. There was no doubt about it that he
was an exceedingly pretty boy, and if he lived to be a man would make
many a lady's heart ache. It was with a certain air of gracious
superiority such as is seldom warranted by superior rank if it be less
than royal, and chiefly becomes a marked seniority in years, that this
young gentleman, approaching the solemn heir of the Chillinglys, held
out his hand and said,--

"Sir, you have behaved extremely well, and I thank you very much."

"Your Royal Highness is condescending to say so," replied Kenelm
Chillingly, bowing low, "but have you ordered dinner? and what are
they going to give us? No one seems to answer the bell here. As it
is a Temperance Hotel, probably all the servants are drunk."

"Why should they be drunk at a Temperance Hotel?"

"Why! because, as a general rule, people who flagrantly pretend to
anything are the reverse of that which they pretend to. A man who
sets up for a saint is sure to be a sinner, and a man who boasts that
he is a sinner is sure to have some feeble, maudlin, snivelling bit of
saintship about him which is enough to make him a humbug. Masculine
honesty, whether it be saint-like or sinner-like, does not label
itself either saint or sinner. Fancy Saint Augustine labelling
himself saint, or Robert Burns sinner; and therefore, though, little
boy, you have probably not read the poems of Robert Burns, and have
certainly not read the 'Confessions' of Saint Augustine, take my word
for it, that both those personages were very good fellows; and with a
little difference of training and experience, Burns might have written
the 'Confessions' and Augustine the poems. Powers above! I am
starving. What did you order for dinner, and when is it to appear?"

The boy, who had opened to an enormous width a naturally large pair of
hazel eyes, while his tall companion in fustian trousers and Belcher
neckcloth spoke thus patronizingly of Robert Burns and Saint
Augustine, now replied, with rather a deprecatory and shamefaced
aspect, "I am sorry I was not thinking of dinner. I was not so
mindful of you as I ought to have been. The landlady asked me what we
would have. I said, 'What you like;' and the landlady muttered
something about--" here the boy hesitated.

"Yes. About what? Mutton-chops?"

"No. Cauliflowers and rice-pudding."

Kenelm Chillingly never swore, never raged. Where ruder beings of
human mould swore or raged, he vented displeasure in an expression of
countenance so pathetically melancholic and lugubrious that it would
have melted the heart of an Hyrcanian tiger. He turned his
countenance now on the boy, and murmuring "Cauliflower!--Starvation!"
sank into one of the cane-bottomed chairs, and added quietly, "so much
for human gratitude."

The boy was evidently smitten to the heart by the bitter sweetness of
this reproach. There were almost tears in his Voice, as he said
falteringly, "Pray forgive me, I _was_ ungrateful. I'll run down and
see what there is;" and, suiting the action to the word, he
disappeared.

Kenelm remained motionless; in fact he was plunged into one of those
reveries, or rather absorptions of inward and spiritual being, into
which it is said that the consciousness of the Indian dervish can be
by prolonged fasting preternaturally resolved. The appetite of all
men of powerful muscular development is of a nature far exceeding the
properties of any reasonable number of cauliflowers and rice-puddings
to satisfy. Witness Hercules himself, whose cravings for substantial
nourishment were the standing joke of the classic poets. I don't know
that Kenelm Chillingly would have beaten the Theban Hercules either in
fighting or in eating; but, when he wanted to fight or when he wanted
to eat, Hercules would have had to put forth all his strength not to
be beaten.

After ten minutes' absence, the boy came back radiant. He tapped
Kenelm on the shoulder, and said playfully, "I made them cut a whole
loin into chops, besides the cauliflower; and such a big rice-pudding,
and eggs and bacon too! Cheer up! it will be served in a minute."

"A-h!" said Kenelm.

"They are good people; they did not mean to stint you: but most of
their customers, it seems, live upon vegetables and farinaceous food.
There is a society here formed upon that principle; the landlady says
they are philosophers!"

At the word "philosophers" Kenelm's crest rose as that of a practised
hunter at the cry of "Yoiks! Tally-ho!" "Philosophers!" said he,
"philosophers indeed! O ignoramuses, who do not even know the
structure of the human tooth! Look you, little boy, if nothing were
left on this earth of the present race of man, as we are assured upon
great authority will be the case one of these days,--and a mighty good
riddance it will be,--if nothing, I say, of man were left except
fossils of his teeth and his thumbs, a philosopher of that superior
race which will succeed to man would at once see in those relics all
his characteristics and all his history; would say, comparing his
thumb with the talons of an eagle, the claws of a tiger, the hoof of a
horse, the owner of that thumb must have been lord over creatures with
talons and claws and hoofs. You may say the monkey tribe has thumbs.
True; but compare an ape's thumb with a man's: could the biggest ape's
thumb have built Westminster Abbey? But even thumbs are trivial
evidence of man as compared with his teeth. Look at his teeth!"--here
Kenelm expanded his jaws from ear to ear and displayed semicircles of
ivory, so perfect for the purposes of mastication that the most
artistic dentist might have despaired of his power to imitate
them,--"look, I say, at his teeth!" The boy involuntarily recoiled.
"Are the teeth those of a miserable cauliflower-eater? or is it purely
by farinaceous food that the proprietor of teeth like man's obtains
the rank of the sovereign destroyer of creation? No, little boy, no,"
continued Kenelm, closing his jaws, but advancing upon the infant, who
at each stride receded towards the aquarium,--"no; man is the master
of the world, because of all created beings he devours the greatest
variety and the greatest number of created things. His teeth evince
that man can live upon every soil from the torrid to the frozen zone,
because man can eat everything that other creatures cannot eat. And
the formation of his teeth proves it. A tiger can eat a deer; so can
man: but a tiger can't eat an eel; man can. An elephant can eat
cauliflowers and rice-pudding; so can man! but an elephant can't eat a
beefsteak; man can. In sum, man can live everywhere, because he can
eat anything, thanks to his dental formation!" concluded Kenelm,
making a prodigious stride towards the boy. "Man, when everything
else fails him, eats his own species."

"Don't; you frighten me," said the boy. "Aha!" clapping his hands
with a sensation of gleeful relief, "here come the mutton-chops!"

A wonderfully clean, well-washed, indeed well-washed-out, middle-aged
parlour-maid now appeared, dish in hand. Putting the dish on the
table and taking off the cover, the handmaiden said civilly, though
frigidly, like one who lived upon salad and cold water, "Mistress is
sorry to have kept you waiting, but she thought you were Vegetarians."

After helping his young friend to a mutton-chop, Kenelm helped
himself, and replied gravely, "Tell your mistress that if she had only
given us vegetables, I should have eaten you. Tell her that though
man is partially graminivorous, he is principally carnivorous. Tell
her that though a swine eats cabbages and such like, yet where a swine
can get a baby, it eats the baby. Tell her," continued Kenelm (now at
his third chop), "that there is no animal that in digestive organs
more resembles man than a swine. Ask her if there is any baby in the
house; if so, it would be safe for the baby to send up some more
chops."

As the acutest observer could rarely be quite sure when Kenelm
Chillingly was in jest or in earnest, the parlour-maid paused a moment
and attempted a pale smile. Kenelm lifted his dark eyes, unspeakably
sad and profound, and said mournfully, "I should be so sorry for the
baby. Bring the chops!" The parlour-maid vanished. The boy laid
down his knife and fork, and looked fixedly and inquisitively on
Kenelm. Kenelm, unheeding the look, placed the last chop on the boy's
plate.

"No more," cried the boy, impulsively, and returned the chop to the
dish. "I have dined: I have had enough."

"Little boy, you lie," said Kenelm; "you have not had enough to keep
body and soul together. Eat that chop or I shall thrash you: whatever
I say I do."

Somehow or other the boy felt quelled; he ate the chop in silence,
again looked at Kenelm's face, and said to himself, "I am afraid."

The parlour-maid here entered with a fresh supply of chops and a dish
of bacon and eggs, soon followed by a rice-pudding baked in a tin
dish, and of size sufficient to have nourished a charity school. When
the repast was finished, Kenelm seemed to forget the dangerous
properties of the carnivorous animal; and stretching himself
indolently out, appeared to be as innocently ruminative as the most
domestic of animals graminivorous.

Then said the boy, rather timidly, "May I ask you another favour?"

"Is it to knock down another uncle, or to steal another gig and cob?"

"No, it is very simple: it is merely to find out the address of a
friend here; and when found to give him a note from me."

"Does the commission press? 'After dinner, rest a while,' saith the
proverb; and proverbs are so wise that no one can guess the author of
them. They are supposed to be fragments of the philosophy of the
antediluvians: came to us packed up in the ark."

"Really, indeed," said the boy, seriously. "How interesting! No, my
commission does not press for an hour or so. Do you think, sir, they
had any drama before the Deluge?"

"Drama! not a doubt of it. Men who lived one or two thousand years
had time to invent and improve everything; and a play could have had
its natural length then. It would not have been necessary to crowd
the whole history of Macbeth, from his youth to his old age, into an
absurd epitome of three hours. One cannot trace a touch of real human
nature in any actor's delineation of that very interesting Scotchman,
because the actor always comes on the stage as if he were the same age
when he murdered Duncan, and when, in his sear and yellow leaf, he was
lopped off by Macduff."

"Do you think Macbeth was young when he murdered Duncan?"

"Certainly. No man ever commits a first crime of violent nature, such
as murder, after thirty; if he begins before, he may go on up to any
age. But youth is the season for commencing those wrong calculations
which belong to irrational hope and the sense of physical power. You
thus read in the newspapers that the persons who murder their
sweethearts are generally from two to six and twenty; and persons who
murder from other motives than love--that is, from revenge, avarice,
or ambition--are generally about twenty-eight,--Iago's age.
Twenty-eight is the usual close of the active season for getting rid
of one's fellow-creatures; a prize-fighter falls off after that age.
I take it that Macbeth was about twenty-eight when he murdered Duncan,
and from about fifty-four to sixty when he began to whine about
missing the comforts of old age. But can any audience understand that
difference of years in seeing a three-hours' play? or does any actor
ever pretend to impress it on the audience, and appear as twenty-eight
in the first act and a sexagenarian in the fifth?"

"I never thought of that," said the boy, evidently interested. "But I
never saw 'Macbeth.' I have seen 'Richard III.:' is not that nice?
Don't you dote on the play? I do. What a glorious life an actor's
must be!"

Kenelm, who had been hitherto rather talking to himself than to his
youthful companion, here roused his attention, looked on the boy
intently, and said,--

"I see you are stage-stricken. You have run away from home in order
to turn player, and I should not wonder if this note you want me to
give is for the manager of the theatre or one of his company."

The young face that encountered Kenelm's dark eye became very flushed,
but set and defiant in its expression.

"And what if it were? would not you give it?"

"What! help a child of your age run away from his home, to go upon the
stage against the consent of his relations? Certainly not."

"I am not a child; but that has nothing to do with it. I don't want
to go on the stage, at all events without the consent of the person
who has a right to dictate my actions. My note is not to the manager
of the theatre, nor to one of his company; but it is to a gentleman
who condescends to act here for a few nights; a thorough gentleman,--a
great actor,--my friend, the only friend I have in the world. I say
frankly I have run away from home so that he may have that note, and
if you will not give it some one else will!"

The boy had risen while he spoke, and he stood erect beside the
recumbent Kenelm, his lips quivering, his eyes suffused with
suppressed tears, but his whole aspect resolute and determined.
Evidently, if he did not get his own way in this world, it would not
be for want of will.

"I will take your note," said Kenelm.

"There it is; give it into the hands of the person it is addressed
to,--Mr. Herbert Compton."



CHAPTER IV.

KENELM took his way to the theatre, and inquired of the door-keeper
for Mr. Herbert Compton. That functionary replied, "Mr. Compton does
not act to-night, and is not in the house."

"Where does he lodge?"

The door-keeper pointed to a grocer's shop on the other side of the
way, and said tersely, "There, private door; knock and ring."

Kenelm did as he was directed. A slatternly maid-servant opened the
door, and, in answer to his interrogatory, said that Mr. Compton was
at home, but at supper.

"I am sorry to disturb him," said Kenelm, raising his voice, for he
heard a clatter of knives and plates within a room hard by at his
left, "but my business requires to see him forthwith;" and, pushing
the maid aside, he entered at once the adjoining banquet-hall.

Before a savoury stew smelling strongly of onions sat a man very much
at his ease, without coat or neckcloth,--a decidedly handsome man, his
hair cut short and his face closely shaven, as befits an actor who has
wigs and beards of all hues and forms at his command. The man was not
alone; opposite to him sat a lady, who might be a few years younger,
of a somewhat faded complexion, but still pretty, with good stage
features and a profusion of blond ringlets.

"Mr. Compton, I presume," said Kenelm, with a solemn bow.

"My name is Compton: any message from the theatre? or what do you want
with me?"

"I--nothing!" replied Kenelm; and then deepening his naturally
mournful voice into tones ominous and tragic, continued, "By whom you
are wanted let this explain;" therewith he placed in Mr. Compton's
hand the letter with which he was charged, and stretching his arms and
interlacing his fingers in the _pose_ of Talma as Julius Caesar,
added, "'Qu'en dis-tu, Brute?'"

Whether it was from the sombre aspect and awe-inspiring delivery of
the messenger, or the sight of the handwriting on the address of the
missive, Mr. Compton's countenance suddenly fell, and his hand rested
irresolute, as if not daring to open the letter.

"Never mind me, dear," said the lady with blond ringlets, in a tone of
stinging affability: "read your _billet-doux_; don't keep the young
man waiting, love!"

"Nonsense, Matilda, nonsense! _billet-doux_ indeed! more likely a bill
from Duke the tailor. Excuse me for a moment, my dear. Follow me,
sir," and rising, still with shirtsleeves uncovered, he quitted the
room, closing the door after him, motioned Kenelm into a small parlour
on the opposite side of the passage, and by the light of a suspended
gas-lamp ran his eye hastily over the letter, which, though it seemed
very short, drew from him sundry exclamations. "Good heavens, how
very absurd! what's to be done?" Then, thrusting the letter into his
trousers-pocket, he fixed upon Kenelm a very brilliant pair of dark
eyes, which soon dropped before the steadfast look of that saturnine
adventurer.

"Are you in the confidence of the writer of this letter?" asked Mr.
Compton, rather confusedly.

"I am not the confidant of the writer," answered Kenelm, "but for the
time being I am the protector!"

"Protector!"

"Protector."

Mr. Compton again eyed the messenger, and this time fully realizing
the gladiatorial development of that dark stranger's physical form, he
grew many shades paler, and involuntarily retreated towards the
bell-pull.

After a short pause, he said, "I am requested to call on the writer.
If I do so, may I understand that the interview will be strictly
private?"

"So far as I am concerned, yes: on the condition that no attempt be
made to withdraw the writer from the house."

"Certainly not, certainly not; quite the contrary," exclaimed Mr.
Compton, with genuine animation. "Say I will call in half an hour."

"I will give your message," said Kenelm, with a polite inclination of
his head; "and pray pardon me if I remind you that I styled myself the
protector of your correspondent, and if the slightest advantage be
taken of that correspondent's youth and inexperience or the smallest
encouragement be given to plans of abduction from home and friends,
the stage will lose an ornament and Herbert Compton vanish from the
scene." With these words Kenelm left the player standing aghast.
Gaining the street-door, a lad with a band-box ran against him and was
nearly upset.

"Stupid," cried the lad, "can't you see where you are going? Give
this to Mrs. Compton."

"I should deserve the title you give if I did for nothing the business
for which you are paid," replied Kenelm, sententiously, and striding
on.



CHAPTER V.

"I HAVE fulfilled my mission," said Kenelm, on rejoining his
travelling companion. "Mr. Compton said he would be here in half an
hour."

"You saw him?"

"Of course: I promised to give your letter into his own hands."

"Was he alone?"

"No; at supper with his wife."

"His wife! what do you mean, sir?--wife! he has no wife."

"Appearances are deceitful. At least he was with a lady who called
him 'dear' and 'love' in as spiteful a tone of voice as if she had
been his wife; and as I was coming out of his street-door a lad who
ran against me asked me to give a band-box to Mrs. Compton."

The boy turned as white as death, staggered back a few steps, and
dropped into a chair.

A suspicion which during his absence had suggested itself to Kenelm's
inquiring mind now took strong confirmation. He approached softly,
drew a chair close to the companion whom fate had forced upon him, and
said in a gentle whisper,--

"This is no boy's agitation. If you have been deceived or misled, and
I can in any way advise or aid you, count on me as women under the
circumstances count on men and gentlemen."

The boy started to his feet, and paced the room with disordered steps,
and a countenance working with passions which he attempted vainly to
suppress. Suddenly arresting his steps, he seized Kenelm's hand,
pressed it convulsively, and said, in a voice struggling against a
sob,--

"I thank you,--I bless you. Leave me now: I would be alone. Alone,
too, I must face this man. There may be some mistake yet; go."

"You will promise not to leave the house till I return?"

"Yes, I promise that."

"And if it be as I fear, you will then let me counsel with and advise
you?"

"Heaven help me, if so! Whom else should I trust to? Go, go!"

Kenelm once more found himself in the streets, beneath the mingled
light of gas-lamps and the midsummer moon. He walked on mechanically
till he reached the extremity of the town. There he halted, and
seating himself on a milestone, indulged in these meditations:--

"Kenelm, my friend, you are in a still worse scrape than I thought you
were an hour ago. You have evidently now got a woman on your hands.
What on earth are you to do with her? A runaway woman, who, meaning
to run off with somebody else--such are the crosses and contradictions
in human destiny--has run off with you instead. What mortal can hope
to be safe? The last thing I thought could befall me when I got up
this morning was that I should have any trouble about the other sex
before the day was over. If I were of an amatory temperament, the
Fates might have some justification for leading me into this snare,
but, as it is, those meddling old maids have none. Kenelm, my friend,
do you think you ever can be in love? and, if you were in love, do you
think you could be a greater fool than you are now?"

Kenelm had not decided this knotty question in the conference held
with himself, when a light and soft strain of music came upon his ear.
It was but from a stringed instrument, and might have sounded thin and
tinkling but for the stillness of the night, and that peculiar
addition of fulness which music acquires when it is borne along a
tranquil air. Presently a voice in song was heard from the distance
accompanying the instrument. It was a man's voice, a mellow and a
rich voice, but Kenelm's ear could not catch the words. Mechanically
he moved on towards the quarter from which the sounds came, for Kenelm
Chillingly had music in his soul, though he was not quite aware of it
himself. He saw before him a patch of greensward, on which grew a
solitary elm with a seat for wayfarers beneath it. From this sward
the ground receded in a wide semicircle bordered partly by shops,
partly by the tea-gardens of a pretty cottage-like tavern. Round the
tables scattered throughout the gardens were grouped quiet customers,
evidently belonging to the class of small tradespeople or superior
artisans. They had an appearance of decorous respectability, and were
listening intently to the music. So were many persons at the
shop-doors and at the windows of upper rooms. On the sward, a little
in advance of the tree, but beneath its shadow, stood the musician,
and in that musician Kenelm recognized the wanderer from whose talk he
had conceived the idea of the pedestrian excursion which had already
brought him into a very awkward position. The instrument on which the
singer accompanied himself was a guitar, and his song was evidently a
love-song, though, as it was now drawing near to its close, Kenelm
could but imperfectly guess at its general meaning. He heard enough
to perceive that its words were at least free from the vulgarity which
generally characterizes street ballads, and were yet simple enough to
please a very homely audience.

When the singer ended there was no applause; but there was evident
sensation among the audience,--a feeling as if something that had
given a common enjoyment had ceased. Presently the white Pomeranian
dog, who had hitherto kept himself out of sight under the seat of the
elm-tree, advanced, with a small metal tray between his teeth, and,
after looking round him deliberately, as if to select whom of the
audience should be honoured with the commencement of a general
subscription, gravely approached Kenelm, stood on his hind legs,
stared at him, and presented the tray.

Kenelm dropped a shilling into that depository, and the dog, looking
gratified, took his way towards the tea-gardens. Lifting his hat, for
he was, in his way, a very polite man, Kenelm approached the singer,
and, trusting to the alteration in his dress for not being recognized
by a stranger who had only once before encountered him he said,--

"Judging by the little I heard, you sing very well, sir. May I ask
who composed the words?"

"They are mine," replied the singer.

"And the air?"

"Mine too."

"Accept my compliments. I hope you find these manifestations of
genius lucrative?"

The singer, who had not hitherto vouchsafed more than a careless
glance at the rustic garb of the questioner, now fixed his eyes full
upon Kenelm, and said, with a smile, "Your voice betrays you, sir. We
have met before."

"True; but I did not then notice your guitar, nor, though acquainted
with your poetical gifts, suppose that you selected this primitive
method of making them publicly known."

"Nor did I anticipate the pleasure of meeting you again in the
character of Hobnail. Hist! let us keep each other's secret. I am
known hereabouts by no other designation than that of the 'Wandering
Minstrel.'"

"It is in the capacity of minstrel that I address you. If it be not
an impertinent question, do you know any songs which take the other
side of the case?"

"What case? I don't understand you, sir."

"The song I heard seemed in praise of that sham called love. Don't
you think you could say something more new and more true, treating
that aberration from reason with the contempt it deserves?"

"Not if I am to get my travelling expenses paid."

"What! the folly is so popular?"

"Does not your own heart tell you so?"

"Not a bit of it,--rather the contrary. Your audience at present seem
folks who live by work, and can have little time for such idle
phantasies; for, as it is well observed by Ovid, a poet who wrote much
on that subject, and professed the most intimate acquaintance with it,
'Idleness is the parent of love.' Can't you sing something in praise
of a good dinner? Everybody who works hard has an appetite for food."

The singer again fixed on Kenelm his inquiring eye, but not detecting
a vestige of humour in the grave face he contemplated, was rather
puzzled how to reply, and therefore remained silent.

"I perceive," resumed Kenelm, "that my observations surprise you: the
surprise will vanish on reflection. It has been said by another poet,
more reflective than Ovid, that 'the world is governed by love and
hunger.' But hunger certainly has the lion's share of the government;
and if a poet is really to do what he pretends to do,--namely,
represent nature,--the greater part of his lays should be addressed to
the stomach." Here, warming with his subject, Kenelm familiarly laid
his band on the musician's shoulder, and his voice took a tone
bordering on enthusiasm. "You will allow that a man in the normal
condition of health does not fall in love every day. But in the
normal condition of health he is hungry every day. Nay, in those
early years when you poets say he is most prone to love, he is so
especially disposed to hunger that less than three meals a day can
scarcely satisfy his appetite. You may imprison a man for months, for
years, nay, for his whole life,--from infancy to any age which Sir
Cornewall Lewis may allow him to attain,--without letting him be in
love at all. But if you shut him up for a week without putting
something into his stomach, you will find him at the end of it as dead
as a door-nail."

Here the singer, who had gradually retreated before the energetic
advance of the orator, sank into the seat by the elm-tree and said
pathetically, "Sir, you have fairly argued me down. Will you please
to come to the conclusion which you deduce from your premises?"

"Simply this, that where you find one human being who cares about
love, you will find a thousand susceptible to the charms of a dinner;
and if you wish to be the popular minne-singer or troubadour of the
age, appeal to nature, sir,--appeal to nature; drop all hackneyed
rhapsodies about a rosy cheek, and strike your lyre to the theme of a
beefsteak."

The dog had for some minutes regained his master's side, standing on
his hind legs, with the tray, tolerably well filled with copper coins,
between his teeth; and now, justly aggrieved by the inattention which
detained him in that artificial attitude, dropped the tray and growled
at Kenelm.

At the same time there came an impatient sound from the audience in
the tea-garden. They wanted another song for their money.

The singer rose, obedient to the summons. "Excuse me, sir; but I am
called upon to--"

"To sing again?"

"Yes."

"And on the subject I suggest?"

"No, indeed."

"What! love, again?"

"I am afraid so."

"I wish you good evening then. You seem a well-educated man,--more
shame to you. Perhaps we may meet once more in our rambles, when the
question can be properly argued out."

Kenelm lifted his hat, and turned on his heel. Before he reached the
street, the sweet voice of the singer again smote his ears; but the
only word distinguishable in the distance, ringing out at the close of
the refrain, was "love."

"Fiddle-de-dee," said Kenelm.



CHAPTER VI.

AS Kenelm regained the street dignified by the edifice of the
Temperance Hotel, a figure, dressed picturesquely in a Spanish cloak,
brushed hurriedly by him, but not so fast as to be unrecognized as the
tragedian. "Hem!" muttered Kenelm, "I don't think there is much
triumph in that face. I suspect he has been scolded."

The boy--if Kenelm's travelling companion is still to be so
designated--was leaning against the mantelpiece as Kenelm re-entered
the dining-room. There was an air of profound dejection about the
boy's listless attitude and in the drooping tearless eyes.

"My dear child," said Kenelm, in the softest tones of his plaintive
voice, "do not honour me with any confidence that may be painful. But
let me hope that you have dismissed forever all thoughts of going on
the stage."

"Yes," was the scarce audible answer.

"And now only remains the question, 'What is to be done?'"

"I am sure I don't know, and I don't care."

"Then you leave it to me to know and to care; and assuming for the
moment as a fact that which is one of the greatest lies in this
mendacious world--namely, that all men are brothers--you will consider
me as an elder brother, who will counsel and control you as he would
an imprudent young--sister. I see very well how it is. Somehow or
other you, having first admired Mr. Compton as Romeo or Richard III.,
made his acquaintance as Mr. Compton. He allowed you to believe him a
single man. In a romantic moment you escaped from your home, with the
design of adopting the profession of the stage and of becoming Mrs.
Compton."

"Oh," broke out the girl, since her sex must now be declared, "oh,"
she exclaimed, with a passionate sob, "what a fool I have been! Only
do not think worse of me than I deserve. The man did deceive me; he
did not think I should take him at his word, and follow him here, or
his wife would not have appeared. I should not have known he had one
and--and--" here her voice was choked under her passion.

"But now you have discovered the truth, let us thank Heaven that you
are saved from shame and misery. I must despatch a telegram to your
uncle: give me his address."

"No, no."

"There is not a 'No' possible in this case, my child. Your reputation
and your future must be saved. Leave me to explain all to your uncle.
He is your guardian. I must send for him; nay, nay, there is no
option. Hate me now for enforcing your will: you will thank me
hereafter. And listen, young lady; if it does pain you to see your
uncle, and encounter his reproaches, every fault must undergo its
punishment. A brave nature undergoes it cheerfully, as a part of
atonement. You are brave. Submit, and in submitting rejoice!"

There was something in Kenelm's voice and manner at once so kindly and
so commanding that the wayward nature he addressed fairly succumbed.
She gave him her uncle's address, "John Bovill, Esq., Oakdale, near
Westmere." And after giving it, she fixed her eyes mournfully upon
her young adviser, and said with a simple, dreary pathos, "Now, will
you esteem me more, or rather despise me less?"

She looked so young, nay, so childlike, as she thus spoke, that Kenelm
felt a parental inclination to draw her on his lap and kiss away her
tears. But he prudently conquered that impulse, and said, with a
melancholy half-smile,--

"If human beings despise each other for being young and foolish, the
sooner we are exterminated by that superior race which is to succeed
us on earth the better it will be. Adieu, till your uncle comes."

"What! you leave me here--alone?"

"Nay, if your uncle found me under the same roof, now that I know you
are his niece, don't you think he would have a right to throw me out
of the window? Allow me to practise for myself the prudence I preach
to you. Send for the landlady to show you your room, shut yourself in
there, go to bed, and don't cry more than you can help."

Kenelm shouldered the knapsack he had deposited in a corner of the
room, inquired for the telegraph-office, despatched a telegram to Mr.
Bovill, obtained a bedroom at the Commercial Hotel, and fell asleep,
muttering these sensible words,--

"Rouchefoucauld was perfectly right when he said, 'Very few people
would fall in love if they had not heard it so much talked about.'"



CHAPTER VII.

KENELM CHILLINGLY rose with the sun, according to his usual custom,
and took his way to the Temperance Hotel. All in that sober building
seemed still in the arms of Morpheus. He turned towards the stables
in which he had left the gray cob, and had the pleasure to see that
ill-used animal in the healthful process of rubbing down.

"That's right," said he to the hostler. "I am glad to see you are so
early a riser."

"Why," quoth the hostler, "the gentleman as owns the pony knocked me
up at two o'clock in the morning, and pleased enough he was to see the
creature again lying down in the clean straw."

"Oh, he has arrived at the hotel, I presume?--a stout gentleman?"

"Yes, stout enough; and a passionate gentleman too. Came in a yellow
and two posters, knocked up the Temperance and then knocked up me to
see for the pony, and was much put out as he could not get any grog at
the Temperance."

"I dare say he was. I wish he had got his grog: it might have put him
in better humour. Poor little thing!" muttered Kenelm, turning away;
"I am afraid she is in for a regular vituperation. My turn next, I
suppose. But he must be a good fellow to have come at once for his
niece in the dead of the night."

About nine o'clock Kenelm presented himself again at the Temperance
Hotel, inquired for Mr. Bovill, and was shown by the prim maid-servant
into the drawing-room, where he found Mr. Bovill seated amicably at
breakfast with his niece, who of course was still in boy's clothing,
having no other costume at hand. To Kenelm's great relief, Mr. Bovill
rose from the table with a beaming countenance, and extending his hand
to Kenelm, said,--

"Sir, you are a gentleman; sit down, sit down and take breakfast."

Then, as soon as the maid was out of the room, the uncle continued,--

"I have heard all your good conduct from this young simpleton. Things
might have been worse, sir."

Kenelm bowed his head, and drew the loaf towards him in silence.
Then, considering that some apology was due to his entertainer, he
said,--

"I hope you forgive me for that unfortunate mistake, when--"

"You knocked me down, or rather tripped me up. All right now. Elsie,
give the gentleman a cup of tea. Pretty little rogue, is she not? and
a good girl, in spite of her nonsense. It was all my fault letting
her go to the play and be intimate with Miss Lockit, a stage-stricken,
foolish old maid, who ought to have known better than to lead her into
all this trouble."

"No, uncle," cried the girl, resolutely; "don't blame her, nor any one
but me."

Kenelm turned his dark eyes approvingly towards the girl, and saw that
her lips were firmly set; there was an expression, not of grief nor
shame, but compressed resolution in her countenance. But when her
eyes met his they fell softly, and a blush mantled over her cheeks up
to her very forehead.

"Ah!" said the uncle, "just like you, Elsie; always ready to take
everybody's fault on your own shoulders. Well, well, say no more
about that. Now, my young friend, what brings you across the country
tramping it on foot, eh? a young man's whim?" As he spoke, he eyed
Kenelm very closely, and his look was that of an intelligent man not
unaccustomed to observe the faces of those he conversed with. In fact
a more shrewd man of business than Mr. Bovill is seldom met with on
'Change or in market.

"I travel on foot to please myself, sir," answered Kenelm, curtly, and
unconsciously set on his guard.

"Of course you do," cried Mr. Bovill, with a jovial laugh. "But it
seems you don't object to a chaise and pony whenever you can get them
for nothing,--ha, ha!--excuse me,--a joke."

Herewith Mr. Bovill, still in excellent good-humour, abruptly changed
the conversation to general matters,--agricultural prospects, chance
of a good harvest, corn trade, money market in general, politics,
state of the nation. Kenelm felt there was an attempt to draw him
out, to sound, to pump him, and replied only by monosyllables,
generally significant of ignorance on the questions broached; and at
the close, if the philosophical heir of the Chillinglys was in the
habit of allowing himself to be surprised he would certainly have been
startled when Mr. Bovill rose, slapped him on the shoulder, and said
in a tone of great satisfaction, "Just as I thought, sir; you know
nothing of these matters: you are a gentleman born and bred; your
clothes can't disguise you, sir. Elsie was right. My dear, just
leave us for a few minutes: I have something to say to our young
friend. You can get ready meanwhile to go with me." Elsie left the
table and walked obediently towards the doorway. There she halted a
moment, turned round, and looked timidly towards Kenelm. He had
naturally risen from his seat as she rose, and advanced some paces as
if to open the door for her. Thus their looks encountered. He could
not interpret that shy gaze of hers: it was tender, it was
deprecating, it was humble, it was pleading; a man accustomed to
female conquests might have thought it was something more, something
in which was the key to all. But that something more was an unknown
tongue to Kenelm Chillingly.

When the two men were alone, Mr. Bovill reseated himself and motioned
to Kenelm to do the same. "Now, young sir," said the former, "you and
I can talk at our ease. That adventure of yours yesterday may be the
luckiest thing that could happen to you."

"It is sufficiently lucky if I have been of any service to your niece.
But her own good sense would have been her safeguard if she had been
alone, and discovered, as she would have done, that Mr. Compton had,
knowingly or not, misled her to believe that he was a single man."

"Hang Mr. Compton! we have done with him. I am a plain man, and I
come to the point. It is you who have carried off my niece; it is
with you that she came to this hotel. Now when Elsie told me how well
you had behaved, and that your language and manners were those of a
real gentleman, my mind was made up. I guess pretty well what you
are; you are a gentleman's son; probably a college youth; not
overburdened with cash; had a quarrel with your governor, and he keeps
you short. Don't interrupt me. Well, Elsie is a good girl and a
pretty girl, and will make a good wife, as wives go; and, hark ye, she
has L20,000. So just confide in me; and if you don't like your
parents to know about it till the thing's done and they be only got to
forgive and bless you, why, you shall marry Elsie before you can say
Jack Robinson."

For the first time in his life Kenelm Chillingly was seized with
terror,--terror and consternation. His jaw dropped; his tongue was
palsied. If hair ever stands on end, his hair did. At last, with
superhuman effort, he gasped out the word, "Marry!"

"Yes; marry. If you are a gentleman you are bound to it. You have
compromised my niece,--a respectable, virtuous girl, sir; an orphan,
but not unprotected. I repeat, it is you who have plucked her from my
very arms, and with violence and assault eloped with her; and what
would the world say if it knew? Would it believe in your prudent
conduct?--conduct only to be explained by the respect you felt due to
your future wife. And where will you find a better? Where will you
find an uncle who will part with his ward and L20,000 without asking
if you have a sixpence? and the girl has taken a fancy to you; I see
it: would she have given up that player so easily if you had not
stolen her heart? Would you break that heart? No, young man: you are
not a villain. Shake hands on it!"

"Mr. Bovill," said Kenelm, recovering his wonted equanimity, "I am
inexpressibly flattered by the honour you propose to me, and I do not
deny that Miss Elsie is worthy of a much better man than myself. But
I have inconceivable prejudices against the connubial state. If it be
permitted to a member of the Established Church to cavil at any
sentence written by Saint Paul,--and I think that liberty may be
permitted to a simple layman, since eminent members of the clergy
criticise the whole Bible as freely as if it were the history of Queen
Elizabeth by Mr. Froude,--I should demur at the doctrine that it is
better to marry than to burn: I myself should prefer burning. With
these sentiments it would ill become any one entitled to that
distinction of 'gentleman' which you confer on me to lead a
fellow-victim to the sacrificial altar. As for any reproach attached
to Miss Elsie, since in my telegram I directed you to ask for a young
gentleman at this hotel, her very sex is not known in this place
unless you divulge it. And--"

Here Kenelm was interrupted by a violent explosion of rage from the
uncle. He stamped his feet; he almost foamed at the mouth; he doubled
his fist, and shook it in Kenelm's face.

"Sir, you are mocking me: John Bovill is not a man to be jeered in
this way. You _shall_ marry the girl. I'll not have her thrust back
upon me to be the plague of my life with her whims and tantrums. You
have taken her, and you shall keep her, or I'll break every bone in
your skin."

"Break them," said Kenelm, resignedly, but at the same time falling
back into a formidable attitude of defence, which cooled the pugnacity
of his accuser. Mr. Bovill sank into his chair, and wiped his
forehead. Kenelm craftily pursued the advantage he had gained, and in
mild accents proceeded to reason,--

"When you recover your habitual serenity of humour, Mr. Bovill, you
will see how much your very excusable desire to secure your niece's
happiness, and, I may add, to reward what you allow to have been
forbearing and well-bred conduct on my part, has hurried you into an
error of judgment. You know nothing of me. I may be, for what you
know, an impostor or swindler; I may have every bad quality, and yet
you are to be contented with my assurance, or rather your own
assumption, that I am born a gentleman, in order to give me your niece
and her L20,000. This is temporary insanity on your part. Allow me
to leave you to recover from your excitement."

"Stop, sir," said Mr. Bovill, in a changed and sullen tone; "I am not
quite the madman you think me. But I dare say I have been too hasty
and too rough. Nevertheless the facts are as I have stated them, and
I do not see how, as a man of honour, you can get off marrying my
niece. The mistake you made in running away with her was, no doubt,
innocent on your part: but still there it is; and supposing the case
came before a jury, it would be an ugly one for you and your family.
Marriage alone could mend it. Come, come, I own I was too
business-like in rushing to the point at once, and I no longer say,
'Marry my niece off-hand.' You have only seen her disguised and in a
false position. Pay me a visit at Oakdale; stay with me a month; and
if at the end of that time you do not like her well enough to propose,
I'll let you off and say no more about it."

While Mr. Bovill thus spoke, and Kenelm listened, neither saw that the
door had been noiselessly opened and that Elsie stood at the
threshold. Now, before Kenelm could reply, she advanced into the
middle of the room, and, her small figure drawn up to its fullest
height, her cheeks glowing, her lips quivering, exclaimed,--

"Uncle, for shame!" Then addressing Kenelm in a sharp tone of
anguish, "Oh, do not believe I knew anything of this!" she covered her
face with both hands and stood mute.

All of chivalry that Kenelm had received with his baptismal
appellation was aroused. He sprang up, and, bending his knee as he
drew one of her hands into his own, he said,--

"I am as convinced that your uncle's words are abhorrent to you as I
am that you are a pure-hearted and high-spirited woman, of whose
friendship I shall be proud. We meet again." Then releasing her
hand, he addressed Mr. Bovill: "Sir, you are unworthy the charge of
your niece. Had you not been so, she would have committed no
imprudence. If she have any female relation, to that relation
transfer your charge."

"I have! I have!" cried Elsie; "my lost mother's sister: let me go to
her."

"The woman who keeps a school!" said Mr. Bovill sneeringly.

"Why not?" asked Kenelm.

"She never would go there. I proposed it to her a year ago. The minx
would not go into a school."

"I will now, Uncle."

"Well, then, you shall at once; and I hope you'll be put on bread and
water. Fool! fool! you have spoilt your own game. Mr. Chillingly,
now that Miss Elsie has turned her back on herself, I can convince you
that I am not the mad man you thought me. I was at the festive
meeting held when you came of age: my brother is one of your father's
tenants. I did not recognize your face immediately in the excitement
of our encounter and in your change of dress; but in walking home it
struck me that I had seen it before, and I knew it at once when you
entered the room to-day. It has been a tussle between us which should
beat the other. You have beat me; and thanks to that idiot! If she
had not put her spoke into my wheel, she would have lived to be 'my
lady.' Now good-day, sir."

"Mr. Bovill, you offered to shake hands: shake hands now, and promise
me, with the good grace of one honourable combatant to another, that
Miss Elsie shall go to her aunt the schoolmistress at once if she
wishes it. Hark ye, my friend" (this in Mr. Bovill's ear): "a man can
never manage a woman. Till a woman marries, a prudent man leaves her
to women; when she does marry, she manages her husband, and there's an
end of it."

Kenelm was gone.

"Oh, wise young man!" murmured the uncle. "Elsie, dear, how can you
go to your aunt's while you are in that dress?"

Elsie started as from a trance, her eyes directed towards the doorway
through which Kenelm had vanished. "This dress," she said
contemptuously, "this dress; is not that easily altered with shops in
the town?"

"Gad!" muttered Mr. Bovill, "that youngster is a second Solomon; and
if I can't manage Elsie, she'll manage a husband--whenever she gets
one."



CHAPTER VIII.

"BY the powers that guard innocence and celibacy," soliloquized Kenelm
Chillingly, "but I have had a narrow escape! and had that amphibious
creature been in girl's clothes instead of boy's, when she intervened
like the deity of the ancient drama, I might have plunged my armorial
Fishes into hot water. Though, indeed, it is hard to suppose that a
young lady head-over-ears in love with Mr. Compton yesterday could
have consigned her affections to me to-day. Still she looked as if
she could, which proves either that one is never to trust a woman's
heart or never to trust a woman's looks. Decimus Roach is right. Man
must never relax his flight from the women, if he strives to achieve
an 'Approach to the Angels.'"

These reflections were made by Kenelm Chillingly as, having turned his
back upon the town in which such temptations and trials had befallen
him, he took his solitary way along a footpath that wound through
meads and cornfields, and shortened by three miles the distance to a
cathedral town at which he proposed to rest for the night.

He had travelled for some hours, and the sun was beginning to slope
towards a range of blue hills in the west, when he came to the margin
of a fresh rivulet, overshadowed by feathery willows and the quivering
leaves of silvery Italian poplars. Tempted by the quiet and cool of
this pleasant spot, he flung himself down on the banks, drew from his
knapsack some crusts of bread with which he had wisely provided
himself, and, dipping them into the pure lymph as it rippled over its
pebbly bed, enjoyed one of those luxurious repasts for which epicures
would exchange their banquet in return for the appetite of youth.
Then, reclining along the bank, and crushing the wild thyme that grows
best and sweetest in wooded coverts, provided they be neighboured by
water, no matter whether in pool or rill, he resigned himself to that
intermediate state between thought and dream-land which we call
"revery." At a little distance he heard the low still sound of the
mower's scythe, and the air came to his brow sweet with the fragrance
of new-mown hay.

He was roused by a gentle tap on the shoulder, and turning lazily
round, saw a good-humoured jovial face upon a pair of massive
shoulders, and heard a hearty and winning voice say,--

"Young man, if you are not too tired, will you lend a hand to get in
my hay? We are very short of hands, and I am afraid we shall have
rain pretty soon."

Kenelm rose and shook himself, gravely contemplated the stranger, and
replied in his customary sententious fashion, "Man is born to help his
fellow-man,--especially to get in hay while the sun shines. I am at
your service."

"That's a good fellow, and I'm greatly obliged to you. You see I had
counted on a gang of roving haymakers, but they were bought up by
another farmer. This way;" and leading on through a gap in the
brushwood, he emerged, followed by Kenelm, into a large meadow,
one-third of which was still under the scythe, the rest being occupied
with persons of both sexes, tossing and spreading the cut grass.
Among the latter, Kenelm, stripped to his shirt-sleeves, soon found
himself tossing and spreading like the rest, with his usual melancholy
resignation of mien and aspect. Though a little awkward at first in
the use of his unfamiliar implements, his practice in all athletic
accomplishments bestowed on him that invaluable quality which is
termed "handiness," and he soon distinguished himself by the superior
activity and neatness with which he performed his work. Something--it
might be in his countenance or in the charm of his being a
stranger--attracted the attention of the feminine section of
haymakers, and one very pretty girl who was nearer to him than the
rest attempted to commence conversation.

"This is new to you," she said smiling.

"Nothing is new to me," answered Kenelm, mournfully. "But allow me to
observe that to do things well you should only do one thing at a time.
I am here to make hay and not conversation."

"My!" said the girl, in amazed ejaculation, and turned off with a toss
of her pretty head.

"I wonder if that jade has got an uncle," thought Kenelm. The farmer,
who took his share of work with the men, halting now and then to look
round, noticed Kenelm's vigorous application with much approval, and
at the close of the day's work shook him heartily by the hand, leaving
a two-shilling piece in his palm. The heir of the Chillinglys gazed
on that honorarium, and turned it over with the finger and thumb of
the left hand.

"Be n't it eno'?" said the farmer, nettled.

"Pardon me," answered Kenelm. "But, to tell you the truth, it is the
first money I ever earned by my own bodily labour; and I regard it
with equal curiosity and respect. But if it would not offend you, I
would rather that, instead of the money, you had offered me some
supper; for I have tasted nothing but bread and water since the
morning."

"You shall have the money and supper both, my lad," said the farmer,
cheerily. "And if you will stay and help till I have got in the hay,
I dare say my good woman can find you a better bed than you'll get in
the village inn; if, indeed, you can get one there at all."

"You are very kind. But before I accept your hospitality excuse one
question: have you any nieces about you?"

"Nieces!" echoed the farmer, mechanically thrusting his hands into his
breeches-pockets as if in search of something there, "nieces about me!
what do you mean? Be that a newfangled word for coppers?"

"Not for coppers, though perhaps for brass. But I spoke without
metaphor. I object to nieces upon abstract principle, confirmed by
the test of experience."

The farmer stared, and thought his new friend not quite so sound in
his mental as he evidently was in his physical conformation, but
replied, with a laugh, "Make yourself easy, then. I have only one
niece, and she is married to an iron-monger and lives in Exeter."

On entering the farmhouse, Kenelm's host conducted him straight into
the kitchen, and cried out, in a hearty voice, to a comely middle-aged
dame, who, with a stout girl, was intent on culinary operations,
"Hulloa! old woman, I have brought you a guest who has well earned his
supper, for he has done the work of two, and I have promised him a
bed."

The farmer's wife turned sharply round. "He is heartily welcome to
supper. As to a bed," she said doubtfully, "I don't know." But here
her eyes settled on Kenelm; and there was something in his aspect so
unlike what she expected to see in an itinerant haymaker, that she
involuntarily dropped a courtesy, and resumed, with a change of tone,
"The gentleman shall have the guest-room: but it will take a little
time to get ready; you know, John, all the furniture is covered up."

"Well, wife, there will be leisure eno' for that. He don't want to go
to roost till he has supped."

"Certainly not," said Kenelm, sniffing a very agreeable odour.

"Where are the girls?" asked the farmer.

"They have been in these five minutes, and gone upstairs to tidy
themselves."

"What girls?" faltered Kenelm, retreating towards the door. "I
thought you said you had no nieces."

"But I did not say I had no daughters. Why, you are not afraid of
them, are you?"

"Sir," replied Kenelm, with a polite and politic evasion of that
question, "if your daughters are like their mother, you can't say that
they are not dangerous."

"Come," cried the farmer, looking very much pleased, while his dame
smiled and blushed, "come, that's as nicely said as if you were
canvassing the county. 'Tis not among haymakers that you learned
manners, I guess; and perhaps I have been making too free with my
betters."

"What!" quoth the courteous Kenelm, "do you mean to imply that you
were too free with your shillings? Apologize for that, if you like,
but I don't think you'll get back the shillings. I have not seen so
much of this life as you have, but, according to my experience, when a
man once parts with his money, whether to his betters or his worsers,
the chances are that he'll never see it again."

At this aphorism the farmer laughed ready to kill himself, his wife
chuckled, and even the maid-of-all-work grinned. Kenelm, preserving
his unalterable gravity, said to himself,--

"Wit consists in the epigrammatic expression of a commonplace truth,
and the dullest remark on the worth of money is almost as sure of
successful appreciation as the dullest remark on the worthlessness of
women. Certainly I am a wit without knowing it."

Here the farmer touched him on the shoulder--touched it, did not slap
it, as he would have done ten minutes before--and said,--

"We must not disturb the Missis or we shall get no supper. I'll just
go and give a look into the cow-sheds. Do you know much about cows?"

"Yes, cows produce cream and butter. The best cows are those which
produce at the least cost the best cream and butter. But how the best
cream and butter can be produced at a price which will place them free
of expense on a poor man's breakfast-table is a question to be settled
by a Reformed Parliament and a Liberal Administration. In the
meanwhile let us not delay the supper."

The farmer and his guest quitted the kitchen and entered the farmyard.

"You are quite a stranger in these parts?"

"Quite."

"You don't even know my name?"

"No, except that I heard your wife call you John."

"My name is John Saunderson."

"Ah! you come from the North, then? That's why you are so sensible
and shrewd. Names that end in 'son' are chiefly borne by the
descendants of the Danes, to whom King Alfred, Heaven bless him!
peacefully assigned no less than sixteen English counties. And when a
Dane was called somebody's son, it is a sign that he was the son of a
somebody."

"By gosh! I never heard that before."

"If I thought you had I should not have said it."

"Now I have told you my name, what is yours?"

"A wise man asks questions and a fool answers them. Suppose for a
moment that I am not a fool."

Farmer Saunderson scratched his head, and looked more puzzled than
became the descendant of a Dane settled by King Alfred in the north of
England.

"Dash it," said he at last, "but I think you are Yorkshire too."

"Man, who is the most conceited of all animals, says that he alone has
the prerogative of thought, and condemns the other animals to the
meaner mechanical operation which he calls instinct. But as instincts
are unerring and thoughts generally go wrong, man has not much to
boast of according to his own definition. When you say you think, and
take it for granted, that I am Yorkshire, you err. I am not
Yorkshire. Confining yourself to instinct, can you divine when we
shall sup? The cows you are about to visit divine to a moment when
they shall be fed."

Said the farmer, recovering his sense of superiority to the guest whom
he obliged with a supper, "In ten minutes." Then, after a pause, and
in a tone of deprecation, as if he feared he might be thought fine, he
continued, "We don't sup in the kitchen. My father did, and so did I
till I married; but my Bess, though she's as good a farmer's wife as
ever wore shoe-leather, was a tradesman's daughter, and had been
brought up different. You see she was not without a good bit of
money: but even if she had been, I should not have liked her folks to
say I had lowered her; so we sup in the parlour."

Quoth Kenelm, "The first consideration is to sup at all. Supper
conceded, every man is more likely to get on in life who would rather
sup in his parlour than his kitchen. Meanwhile, I see a pump; while
you go to the cows I will stay here and wash my hands of them."

"Hold! you seem a sharp fellow, and certainly no fool. I have a son,
a good smart chap, but stuck up; crows it over us all; thinks no small
beer of himself. You'd do me a service, and him too, if you'd let him
down a peg or two."

Kenelm, who was now hard at work at the pump-handle, only replied by a
gracious nod. But as he seldom lost an opportunity for reflection, he
said to himself, while he laved his face in the stream from the spout,
"One can't wonder why every small man thinks it so pleasant to let
down a big one, when a father asks a stranger to let down his own son
for even fancying that he is not small beer. It is upon that
principle in human nature that criticism wisely relinquishes its
pretensions as an analytical science, and becomes a lucrative
profession. It relies on the pleasure its readers find in letting a
man down."



CHAPTER IX.

IT was a pretty, quaint farmhouse, such as might well go with two or
three hundred acres of tolerably good land, tolerably well farmed by
an active old-fashioned tenant, who, though he did not use
mowing-machines nor steam-ploughs nor dabble in chemical experiments,
still brought an adequate capital to his land and made the capital
yield a very fair return of interest. The supper was laid out in a
good-sized though low-pitched parlour with a glazed door, now wide
open, as were all the latticed windows, looking into a small garden,
rich in those straggling old English flowers which are nowadays
banished from gardens more pretentious and; infinitely less fragrant.
At one corner was an arbour covered with honeysuckle, and opposite to
it a row of beehives. The room itself had an air of comfort, and that
sort of elegance which indicates the presiding genius of feminine
taste. There were shelves suspended to the wall by blue ribbons, and
filled with small books neatly bound; there were flower-pots in all
the window-sills; there was a small cottage piano; the walls were
graced partly with engraved portraits of county magnates and prize
oxen; partly with samplers in worsted-work, comprising verses of moral
character and the names and birthdays of the farmer's grandmother,
mother, wife, and daughters. Over the chimney-piece was a small
mirror, and above that the trophy of a fox's brush; while niched into
an angle in the room was a glazed cupboard, rich with specimens of old
china, Indian and English.

The party consisted of the farmer, his wife, three buxom daughters,
and a pale-faced slender lad of about twenty, the only son, who did
not take willingly to farming: he had been educated at a superior
grammar school, and had high notions about the March of Intellect and
the Progress of the Age.

Kenelm, though among the gravest of mortals, was one of the least shy.
In fact shyness is the usual symptom of a keen _amour propre_; and of
that quality the youthful Chillingly scarcely possessed more than did
the three Fishes of his hereditary scutcheon. He felt himself
perfectly at home with his entertainers; taking care, however, that
his attentions were so equally divided between the three daughters as
to prevent all suspicion of a particular preference. "There is safety
in numbers," thought he, "especially in odd numbers. The three Graces
never married, neither did the nine Muses."

"I presume, young ladies, that you are fond of music," said Kenelm,
glancing at the piano.

"Yes, I love it dearly," said the eldest girl, speaking for the
others.

Quoth the farmer, as he heaped the stranger's plate with boiled beef
and carrots, "Things are not what they were when I was a boy; then it
was only great tenant-farmers who had their girls taught the piano,
and sent their boys to a good school. Now we small folks are for
helping our children a step or two higher than our own place on the
ladder."

"The schoolmaster is abroad," said the son, with the emphasis of a
sage adding an original aphorism to the stores of philosophy.

"There is, no doubt, a greater equality of culture than there was in
the last generation," said Kenelm. "People of all ranks utter the
same commonplace ideas in very much the same arrangements of syntax.
And in proportion as the democracy of intelligence extends--a friend
of mine, who is a doctor, tells me that complaints formerly reserved
to what is called aristocracy (though what that word means in plain
English I don't know) are equally shared by the commonalty
--_tic-douloureux_ and other neuralgic maladies abound. And the
human race, in England at least, is becoming more slight and
delicate. There is a fable of a man who, when he became exceedingly
old, was turned into a grasshopper. England is very old, and is
evidently approaching the grasshopper state of development. Perhaps
we don't eat as much beef as our forefathers did. May I ask you for
another slice?"

Kenelm's remarks were somewhat over the heads of his audience. But
the son, taking them as a slur upon the enlightened spirit of the age,
coloured up and said, with a knitted brow, "I hope, sir, that you are
not an enemy to progress."

"That depends: for instance, I prefer staying here, where I am well
off, to going farther and faring worse."

"Well said!" cried the farmer.

Not deigning to notice that interruption, the son took up Kenelm's
reply with a sneer, "I suppose you mean that it is to fare worse, if
you march with the time."

"I am afraid we have no option but to march with the time; but when we
reach that stage when to march any farther is to march into old age,
we should not be sorry if time would be kind enough to stand still;
and all good doctors concur in advising us to do nothing to hurry
him."

"There is no sign of old age in this country, sir; and thank Heaven we
are not standing still!"

"Grasshoppers never do; they are always hopping and jumping, and
making what they think 'progress,' till (unless they hop into the
water and are swallowed up prematurely by a carp or a frog) they die
of the exhaustion which hops and jumps unremitting naturally produce.
May I ask you, Mrs. Saunderson, for some of that rice-pudding?"

The farmer, who, though he did not quite comprehend Kenelm's
metaphorical mode of arguing, saw delightedly that his wise son looked
more posed than himself, cried with great glee, "Bob, my boy,--Bob,
our visitor is a little too much for you!"

"Oh, no," said Kenelm, modestly. "But I honestly think Mr. Bob would
be a wiser man, and a weightier man, and more removed from the
grasshopper state, if he would think less and eat more pudding."

When the supper was over the farmer offered Kenelm a clay pipe filled
with shag, which that adventurer accepted with his habitual
resignation to the ills of life; and the whole party, excepting Mrs.
Saunderson, strolled into the garden. Kenelm and Mr. Saunderson
seated themselves in the honeysuckle arbour: the girls and the
advocate of progress stood without among the garden flowers. It was a
still and lovely night, the moon at her full. The farmer, seated
facing his hayfields, smoked on placidly. Kenelm, at the third whiff,
laid aside his pipe, and glanced furtively at the three Graces. They
formed a pretty group, all clustered together near the silenced
beehives, the two younger seated on the grass strip that bordered the
flower-beds, their arms over each other's shoulders, the elder one
standing behind them, with the moonlight shining soft on her auburn
hair.

Young Saunderson walked restlessly by himself to and fro the path of
gravel.

"It is a strange thing," ruminated Kenelm, "that girls are not
unpleasant to look at if you take them collectively,--two or three
bound up together; but if you detach any one of them from the bunch,
the odds are that she is as plain as a pikestaff. I wonder whether
that bucolical grasshopper, who is so enamoured of the hop and jump
that he calls 'progress,' classes the society of the Mormons among the
evidences of civilized advancement? There is a good deal to be said
in favour of taking a whole lot of wives as one may buy a whole lot of
cheap razors. For it is not impossible that out of a dozen a good one
may be found. And then, too, a whole nosegay of variegated blooms,
with a faded leaf here and there, must be more agreeable to the eye
than the same monotonous solitary lady's smock. But I fear these
reflections are naughty; let us change them. Farmer," he said aloud,
"I suppose your handsome daughters are too fine to assist you much. I
did not see them among the haymakers."

"Oh, they were there, but by themselves, in the back part of the
field. I did not want them to mix with all the girls, many of whom
are strangers from other places. I don't know anything against them;
but as I don't know anything for them, I thought it as well to keep my
lasses apart."

"But I should have supposed it wiser to keep your son apart from them.
I saw him in the thick of those nymphs."

"Well," said the farmer, musingly, and withdrawing his pipe from his
lips, "I don't think lasses not quite well brought up, poor things! do
as much harm to the lads as they can do to proper-behaved lasses;
leastways my wife does not think so. 'Keep good girls from bad
girls,' says she, 'and good girls will never go wrong.' And you will
find there is something in that when you have girls of your own to
take care of."

"Without waiting for that time, which I trust may never occur, I can
recognize the wisdom of your excellent wife's observation. My own
opinion is, that a woman can more easily do mischief to her own sex
than to ours; since, of course, she cannot exist without doing
mischief to somebody or other."

"And good, too," said the jovial farmer, thumping his fist on the
table. "What should we be without women?"

"Very much better, I take it, sir. Adam was as good as gold, and
never had a qualm of conscience or stomach till Eve seduced him into
eating raw apples."

"Young man, thou'st been crossed in love. I see it now. That's why
thou look'st so sorrowful."

"Sorrowful! Did you ever know a man crossed in love who looked less
sorrowful when he came across a pudding?"

"Hey! but thou canst ply a good knife and fork, that I will say for
thee." Here the farmer turned round, and gazed on Kenelm with
deliberate scrutiny. That scrutiny accomplished, his voice took a
somewhat more respectful tone, as he resumed, "Do you know that you
puzzle me somewhat?"

"Very likely. I am sure that I puzzle myself. Say on."

"Looking at your dress and--and--"

"The two shillings you gave me? Yes--"

"I took you for the son of some small farmer like myself. But now I
judge from your talk that you are a college chap,--anyhow, a
gentleman. Be n't it so?"

"My dear Mr. Saunderson, I set out on my travels, which is not long
ago, with a strong dislike to telling lies. But I doubt if a man can
get along through this world without finding that the faculty of
lying was bestowed on him by Nature as a necessary means of
self-preservation. If you are going to ask me any questions about
myself, I am sure that I shall tell you lies. Perhaps, therefore, it
may be best for both if I decline the bed you proffered me, and take
my night's rest under a hedge."

"Pooh! I don't want to know more of a man's affairs than he thinks fit
to tell me. Stay and finish the haymaking. And I say, lad, I'm glad
you don't seem to care for the girls; for I saw a very pretty one
trying to flirt with you, and if you don't mind she'll bring you into
trouble."

"How? Does she want to run away from her uncle?"

"Uncle! Bless you, she don't live with him! She lives with her
father; and I never knew that she wants to run away. In fact, Jessie
Wiles--that's her name--is, I believe, a very good girl, and everybody
likes her,--perhaps a little too much; but then she knows she's a
beauty, and does not object to admiration."

"No woman ever does, whether she's a beauty or not. But I don't yet
understand why Jessie Wiles should bring me into trouble."

"Because there is a big hulking fellow who has gone half out of his
wits for her; and when he fancies he sees any other chap too sweet on
her he thrashes him into a jelly. So, youngster, you just keep your
skin out of that trap."

"Hem! And what does the girl say to those proofs of affection? Does
she like the man the better for thrashing other admirers into jelly?"

"Poor child! No; she hates the very sight of him. But he swears she
shall marry nobody else if he hangs for it. And, to tell you the
truth, I suspect that if Jessie does seem to trifle with others a
little too lightly, it is to draw away this bully's suspicion from the
only man I think she does care for,--a poor sickly young fellow who
was crippled by an accident, and whom Tom Bowles could brain with his
little finger."

"This is really interesting," cried Kenelm, showing something like
excitement. "I should like to know this terrible suitor."

"That's easy eno'," said the farmer, dryly. "You have only to take a
stroll with Jessie Wiles after sunset, and you'll know more of Tom
Bowles than you are likely to forget in a month."

"Thank you very much for your information," said Kenelm, in a soft
tone, grateful but pensive. "I hope to profit by it."

"Do. I should be sorry if any harm came to thee; and Tom Bowles in
one of his furies is as bad to cross as a mad bull. So now, as we
must be up early, I'll just take a look round the stables, and then
off to bed; and I advise you to do the same."

"Thank you for the hint. I see the young ladies have already gone in.
Good-night."

Passing through the garden, Kenelm encountered the junior Saunderson.

"I fear," said the Votary of Progress, "that you have found the
governor awful slow. What have you been talking about?"

"Girls," said Kenelm, "a subject always awful, but not necessarily
slow."

"Girls,--the governor been talking about girls? You joke."

"I wish I did joke, but that is a thing I could never do since I came
upon earth. Even in the cradle, I felt that life was a very serious
matter, and did not allow of jokes. I remember too well my first dose
of castor-oil. You too, Mr. Bob, have doubtless imbibed that
initiatory preparation to the sweets of existence. The corners of
your mouth have not recovered from the downward curves into which it
so rigidly dragged them. Like myself, you are of grave temperament,
and not easily moved to jocularity,--nay, an enthusiast for Progress
is of necessity a man eminently dissatisfied with the present state of
affairs. And chronic dissatisfaction resents the momentary relief of
a joke."

"Give off chaffing, if you please," said Bob, lowering the didascular
intonations of his voice, "and just tell me plainly, did not my father
say anything particular about me?"

"Not a word: the only person of the male sex of whom he said anything
particular was Tom Bowles."

"What, fighting Tom! the terror of the whole neighbourhood! Ah, I
guess the old gentleman is afraid lest Tom may fall foul upon me. But
Jessie Wiles is not worth a quarrel with that brute. It is a crying
shame in the Government--"

"What! has the Government failed to appreciate the heroism of Tom
Bowles, or rather to restrain the excesses of its ardour?"

"Stuff! it is a shame in the Government not to have compelled his
father to put him to school. If education were universal--"

"You think there would be no brutes in particular. It may be so; but
education is universal in China, and so is the bastinado. I thought,
however, that you said the schoolmaster was abroad, and that the age
of enlightenment was in full progress."

"Yes, in the towns, but not in these obsolete rural districts; and
that brings me to the point. I feel lost, thrown away here. I have
something in me, sir, and it can only come out by collision with equal
minds. So do me a favour, will you?"

"With the greatest pleasure."

"Give the governor a hint that he can't expect me, after the education
I have had, to follow the plough and fatten pigs; and that Manchester
is the place for ME."

"Why Manchester?"

"Because I have a relation in business there who will give me a
clerkship if the governor will consent. And Manchester rules
England."

"Mr. Bob Saunderson, I will do my best to promote your wishes. This
is a land of liberty, and every man should choose his own walk in it,
so that, at the last, if he goes to the dogs, he goes to them without
that disturbance of temper which is naturally occasioned by the sense
of being driven to their jaws by another man against his own will. He
has then no one to blame but himself. And that, Mr. Bob, is a great
comfort. When, having got into a scrape, we blame others, we
unconsciously become unjust, spiteful, uncharitable, malignant,
perhaps revengeful. We indulge in feelings which tend to demoralize
the whole character. But when we only blame ourselves, we become
modest and penitent. We make allowances for others. And indeed
self-blame is a salutary exercise of conscience, which a really good
man performs every day of his life. And now, will you show me the
room in which I am to sleep, and forget for a few hours that I am
alive at all: the best thing that can happen to us in this world, my
dear Mr. Bob! There's never much amiss with our days, so long as we
can forget about them the moment we lay our heads on the pillow."

The two young men entered the house amicably, arm in arm. The girls
had already retired, but Mrs. Saunderson was still up to conduct her
visitor to the guest's chamber,--a pretty room which had been
furnished twenty-two years ago on the occasion of the farmer's
marriage, at the expense of Mrs. Saunderson's mother, for her own
occupation when she paid them a visit, and with its dimity curtains
and trellised paper it still looked as fresh and new as if decorated
and furnished yesterday.

Left alone, Kenelm undressed, and before he got into bed, bared his
right arm, and doubling it, gravely contemplated its muscular
development, passing his left hand over that prominence in the upper
part which is vulgarly called the ball. Satisfied apparently with the
size and the firmness of that pugilistic protuberance, he gently
sighed forth, "I fear I shall have to lick Thomas Bowles." In five
minutes more he was asleep.



CHAPTER X.

THE next day the hay-mowing was completed, and a large portion of the
hay already made carted away to be stacked. Kenelm acquitted himself
with a credit not less praiseworthy than had previously won Mr.
Saunderson's approbation. But instead of rejecting as before the
acquaintance of Miss Jessie Wiles, he contrived towards noon to place
himself near to that dangerous beauty, and commenced conversation. "I
am afraid I was rather rude to you yesterday, and I want to beg
pardon."

"Oh," answered the girl, in that simple intelligible English which is
more frequent among our village folks nowadays than many popular
novelists would lead us into supposing, "oh, I ought to ask pardon for
taking a liberty in speaking to you. But I thought you'd feel
strange, and I intended it kindly."

"I'm sure you did," returned Kenelm, chivalrously raking her portion
of hay as well as his own, while he spoke. "And I want to be good
friends with you. It is very near the time when we shall leave off
for dinner, and Mrs. Saunderson has filled my pockets with some
excellent beef-sandwiches, which I shall be happy to share with you,
if you do not object to dine with me here, instead of going home for
your dinner."

The girl hesitated, and then shook her head in dissent from the
proposition.

"Are you afraid that your neighbours will think it wrong?"

Jessie curled up her lips with a pretty scorn, and said, "I don't much
care what other folks say, but is n't it wrong?"

"Not in the least. Let me make your mind easy. I am here but for a
day or two: we are not likely ever to meet again; but, before I go, I
should be glad if I could do you some little service." As he spoke he
had paused from his work, and, leaning on his rake, fixed his eyes,
for the first time attentively, on the fair haymaker.

Yes, she was decidedly pretty,--pretty to a rare degree: luxuriant
brown hair neatly tied up, under a straw hat doubtless of her own
plaiting; for, as a general rule, nothing more educates the village
maid for the destinies of flirt than the accomplishment of
straw-plaiting. She had large, soft blue eyes, delicate small
features, and a complexion more clear in its healthful bloom than
rural beauties generally retain against the influences of wind and
sun. She smiled and slightly coloured as he gazed on her, and,
lifting her eyes, gave him one gentle, trustful glance, which might
have bewitched a philosopher and deceived a _roue_. And yet Kenelm by
that intuitive knowledge of character which is often truthfulest where
it is least disturbed by the doubts and cavils of acquired knowledge,
felt at once that in that girl's mind coquetry, perhaps unconscious,
was conjoined with an innocence of anything worse than coquetry as
complete as a child's. He bowed his head, in withdrawing his gaze,
and took her into his heart as tenderly as if she had been a child
appealing to it for protection.

"Certainly," he said inly, "certainly I must lick Tom Bowles; yet
stay, perhaps after all she likes him."

"But," he continued aloud, "you do not see how I can be of any service
to you. Before I explain, let me ask which of the men in the field is
Tom Bowles?"

"Tom Bowles?" exclaimed Jessie, in a tone of surprise and alarm, and
turning pale as she looked hastily round; "you frightened me, sir: but
he is not here; he does not work in the fields. But how came you to
hear of Tom Bowles?"

"Dine with me and I'll tell you. Look, there is a quiet place in yon
corner under the thorn-trees by that piece of water. See, they are
leaving off work: I will go for a can of beer, and then, pray, let me
join you there."

Jessie paused for a moment as if doubtful still; then again glancing
at Kenelm, and assured by the grave kindness of his countenance,
uttered a scarce audible assent and moved away towards the
thorn-trees.

As the sun now stood perpendicularly over their heads, and the hand of
the clock in the village church tower, soaring over the hedgerows,
reached the first hour after noon, all work ceased in a sudden
silence: some of the girls went back to their homes; those who stayed
grouped together, apart from the men, who took their way to the
shadows of a large oak-tree in the hedgerow, where beer kegs and cans
awaited them.



CHAPTER XI.

"AND now," said Kenelm, as the two young persons, having finished
their simple repast, sat under the thorn-trees and by the side of the
water, fringed at that part with tall reeds through which the light
summer breeze stirred with a pleasant murmur, "now I will talk to you
about Tom Bowles. Is it true that you don't like that brave young
fellow? I say young, as I take his youth for granted."

"Like him! I hate the sight of him."

"Did you always hate the sight of him? You must surely at one time
have allowed him to think that you did not?"

The girl winced, and made no answer, but plucked a daffodil from the
soil, and tore it ruthlessly to pieces.

"I am afraid you like to serve your admirers as you do that ill-fated
flower," said Kenelm, with some severity of tone. "But concealed in
the flower you may sometimes find the sting of a bee. I see by your
countenance that you did not tell Tom Bowles that you hated him till
it was too late to prevent his losing his wits for you."

"No; I was n't so bad as that," said Jessie, looking, nevertheless,
rather ashamed of herself; "but I was silly and giddy-like, I own;
and, when he first took notice of me, I was pleased, without thinking
much of it, because, you see, Mr. Bowles (emphasis on _Mr._) is higher
up than a poor girl like me. He is a tradesman, and I am only a
shepherd's daughter; though, indeed, Father is more like Mr.
Saunderson's foreman than a mere shepherd. But I never thought
anything serious of it, and did not suppose he did; that is, at
first."

"So Tom Bowles is a tradesman. What trade?"

"A farrier, sir."

"And, I am told, a very fine young man."

"I don't know as to that: he is very big."

"And what made you hate him?"

"The first thing that made me hate him was that he insulted Father,
who is a very quiet, timid man, and threatened I don't know what if
Father did not make me keep company with him. Make me indeed! But
Mr. Bowles is a dangerous, bad-hearted, violent man, and--don't laugh
at me, sir, but I dreamed one night he was murdering me. And I think
he will too, if he stays here: and so does his poor mother, who is a
very nice woman, and wants him to go away; but he will not."

"Jessie," said Kenelm, softly, "I said I wanted to make friends with
you. Do you think you can make a friend of me? I can never be more
than friend. But I should like to be that. Can you trust me as one?"

"Yes," answered the girl, firmly, and, as she lifted her eyes to him,
their look was pure from all vestige of coquetry,--guileless, frank,
grateful.

"Is there not another young man who courts you more civilly than Tom
Bowles does, and whom you really could find it in your heart to like?"

Jessie looked round for another daffodil, and not finding one,
contented herself with a bluebell, which she did not tear to pieces,
but caressed with a tender hand. Kenelm bent his eyes down on her
charming face with something in their gaze rarely seen there,
--something of that unreasoning, inexpressible human fondness,
for which philosophers of his school have no excuse. Had ordinary
mortals, like you or myself, for instance, peered through the leaves
of the thorn-trees, we should have sighed or frowned, according to our
several temperaments; but we should all have said, whether spitefully
or envyingly, "Happy young lovers!" and should all have blundered
lamentably in so saying.

Still, there is no denying the fact that a pretty face has a very
unfair advantage over a plain one. And, much to the discredit of
Kenelm's philanthropy, it may be reasonably doubted whether, had
Jessie Wiles been endowed by nature with a snub nose and a squint,
Kenelm would have volunteered his friendly services, or meditated
battle with Tom Bowles on her behalf.

But there was no touch of envy or jealousy in the tone with which he
said,--

"I see there is some one you would like well enough to marry, and that
you make a great difference in the way you treat a daffodil and a
bluebell. Who and what is the young man whom the bluebell represents?
Come, confide."

"We were much brought up together," said Jessie, still looking down,
and still smoothing the leaves of the bluebell. "His mother lived in
the next cottage; and my mother was very fond of him, and so was
Father too; and, before I was ten years old, they used to laugh when
poor Will called me his little wife." Here the tears which had
started to Jessie's eyes began to fall over the flower. "But now
Father would not hear of it; and it can't be. And I've tried to care
for some one else, and I can't, and that's the truth."

"But why? Has he turned out ill?--taken to poaching or drink?"

"No, no, no; he's as steady and good a lad as ever lived. But--but--"

"Yes; but--"

"He is a cripple now; and I love him all the better for it." Here
Jessie fairly sobbed.

Kenelm was greatly moved, and prudently held his peace till she had a
little recovered herself; then, in answer to his gentle questionings,
he learned that Will Somers--till then a healthy and strong lad--had
fallen from the height of a scaffolding, at the age of sixteen, and
been so seriously injured that he was moved at once to the hospital.
When he came out of it--what with the fall, and what with the long
illness which had followed the effects of the accident--he was not
only crippled for life, but of health so delicate and weakly that he
was no longer fit for outdoor labour and the hard life of a peasant.
He was an only son of a widowed mother, and his sole mode of assisting
her was a very precarious one. He had taught himself basket-making;
and though, Jessie said, his work was very ingenious and clever, still
there were but few customers for it in that neighbourhood. And, alas!
even if Jessie's father would consent to give his daughter to the poor
cripple, how could the poor cripple earn enough to maintain a wife?

"And," said Jessie, "still I was happy, walking out with him on Sunday
evenings, or going to sit with him and his mother; for we are both
young, and can wait. But I dare n't do it any more now: for Tom
Bowles has sworn that if I do he will beat him before my eyes; and
Will has a high spirit, and I should break my heart if any harm
happened to him on my account."

"As for Mr. Bowles, we'll not think of him at present. But if Will
could maintain himself and you, your father would not object nor you
either to a marriage with the poor cripple?"

"Father would not; and as for me, if it weren't for disobeying Father,
I'd marry him to-morrow. _I_ can work."

"They are going back to the hay now; but after that task is over, let
me walk home with you, and show me Will's cottage and Mr. Bowles's
shop or forge."

"But you'll not say anything to Mr. Bowles. He would n't mind your
being a gentleman, as I now see you are, sir; and he's dangerous,--oh,
so dangerous!--and so strong."

"Never fear," answered Kenelm, with the nearest approach to a laugh he
had ever made since childhood; "but when we are relieved, wait for me
a few minutes at yon gate."



CHAPTER XII.

KENELM spoke no more to his new friend in the hayfields; but when the
day's work was over he looked round for the farmer to make an excuse
for not immediately joining the family supper. However, he did not
see either Mr. Saunderson or his son. Both were busied in the
stackyard. Well pleased to escape excuse and the questions it might
provoke, Kenelm therefore put on the coat he had laid aside and joined
Jessie, who had waited for him at the gate. They entered the lane
side by side, following the stream of villagers who were slowly
wending their homeward way. It was a primitive English village, not
adorned on the one hand with fancy or model cottages, nor on the other
hand indicating penury and squalor. The church rose before them gray
and Gothic, backed by the red clouds in which the sun had set, and
bordered by the glebe-land of the half-seen parsonage. Then came the
village green, with a pretty schoolhouse; and to this succeeded a long
street of scattered whitewashed cottages, in the midst of their own
little gardens.

As they walked the moon rose in full splendour, silvering the road
before them.

"Who is the Squire here?" asked Kenelm. "I should guess him to be a
good sort of man, and well off."

"Yes, Squire Travers; he is a great gentleman, and they say very rich.
But his place is a good way from this village. You can see it if you
stay, for he gives a harvest-home supper on Saturday, and Mr.
Saunderson and all his tenants are going. It is a beautiful park, and
Miss Travers is a sight to look at. Oh, she is lovely!" continued
Jessie, with an unaffected burst of admiration; for women are more
sensible of the charm of each other's beauty than men give them credit
for.

"As pretty as yourself?"

"Oh, pretty is not the word. She is a thousand times handsomer!"

"Humph!" said Kenelm, incredulously.

There was a pause, broken by a quick sigh from Jessie.

"What are you sighing for?--tell me."

"I was thinking that a very little can make folks happy, but that
somehow or other that very little is as hard to get as if one set
one's heart on a great deal."

"That's very wisely said. Everybody covets a little something for
which, perhaps, nobody else would give a straw. But what's the very
little thing for which you are sighing?"

"Mrs. Bawtrey wants to sell that shop of hers. She is getting old,
and has had fits; and she can get nobody to buy; and if Will had that
shop and I could keep it,--but 'tis no use thinking of that."

"What shop do you mean?"

"There!"

"Where? I see no shop."

"But it is _the_ shop of the village,--the only one,--where the
post-office is."

"Ah! I see something at the windows like a red cloak. What do they
sell?"

"Everything,--tea and sugar and candles and shawls and gowns and
cloaks and mouse-traps and letter-paper; and Mrs. Bawtrey buys poor
Will's baskets, and sells them for a good deal more than she pays."

"It seems a nice cottage, with a field and orchard at the back."

"Yes. Mrs. Bawtrey pays L8 a year for it; but the shop can well
afford it."

Kenelm made no reply. They both walked on in silence, and had now
reached the centre of the village street when Jessie, looking up,
uttered an abrupt exclamation, gave an affrighted start, and then came
to a dead stop.

Kenelm's eye followed the direction of hers, and saw, a few yards
distant, at the other side of the way, a small red brick house, with
thatched sheds adjoining it, the whole standing in a wide yard, over
the gate of which leaned a man smoking a small cutty-pipe. "It is Tom
Bowles," whispered Jessie, and instinctively she twined her arm into
Kenelm's; then, as if on second thoughts, withdrew it, and said, still
in a whisper, "Go back now, sir; do."

"Not I. It is Tom Bowles whom I want to know. Hush!"

For here Tom Bowles had thrown down his pipe and was coming slowly
across the road towards them.

Kenelm eyed him with attention. A singularly powerful man, not so
tall as Kenelm by some inches, but still above the middle height,
herculean shoulders and chest, the lower limbs not in equal
proportion,--a sort of slouching, shambling gait. As he advanced the
moonlight fell on his face; it was a handsome one. He wore no hat,
and his hair, of a light brown, curled close. His face was
fresh-coloured, with aquiline features; his age apparently about six
or seven and twenty. Coming nearer and nearer, whatever favourable
impression the first glance at his physiognomy might have made on
Kenelm was dispelled, for the expression of his face changed and
became fierce and lowering.

Kenelm was still walking on, Jessie by his side, when Bowles rudely
thrust himself between them, and seizing the girl's arm with one hand,
he turned his face full on Kenelm, with a menacing wave of the other
hand, and said in a deep burly voice,

"Who be you?"

"Let go that young woman before I tell you."

"If you weren't a stranger," answered Bowles, seeming as if he tried
to suppress a rising fit of wrath, "you'd be in the kennel for those
words. But I s'pose you don't know that I'm Tom Bowles, and I don't
choose the girl as I'm after to keep company with any other man. So
you be off."

"And I don't choose any other man to lay violent hands on any girl
walking by my side without telling him that he's a brute; and that I
only wait till he has both his hands at liberty to let him know that
he has not a poor cripple to deal with."

Tom Bowles could scarcely believe his ears. Amaze swallowed up for
the moment every other sentiment. Mechanically he loosened his hold
of Jessie, who fled off like a bird released. But evidently she
thought of her new friend's danger more than her own escape; for
instead of sheltering herself in her father's cottage, she ran towards
a group of labourers who, near at hand, had stopped loitering before
the public-house, and returned with those allies towards the spot in
which she had left the two men. She was very popular with the
villagers, who, strong in the sense of numbers, overcame their awe of
Tom Bowles, and arrived at the place half running, half striding, in
time, they hoped, to interpose between his terrible arm and the bones
of the unoffending stranger.

Meanwhile Bowles, having recovered his first astonishment, and
scarcely noticing Jessie's escape, still left his right arm extended
towards the place she had vacated, and with a quick back-stroke of the
left levelled at Kenelm's face, growled contemptuously, "Thou'lt find
one hand enough for thee."

But quick as was his aim, Kenelm caught the lifted arm just above the
elbow, causing the blow to waste itself on air, and with a
simultaneous advance of his right knee and foot dexterously tripped up
his bulky antagonist, and laid him sprawling on his back. The
movement was so sudden, and the stun it occasioned so utter, morally
as well as physically, that a minute or more elapsed before Tom Bowles
picked himself up. And he then stood another minute glowering at his
antagonist, with a vague sentiment of awe almost like a superstitious
panic. For it is noticeable that, however fierce and fearless a man
or even a wild beast may be, yet if either has hitherto been only
familiar with victory and triumph, never yet having met with a foe
that could cope with its force, the first effect of a defeat,
especially from a despised adversary, unhinges and half paralyzes the
whole nervous system. But as fighting Tom gradually recovered to the
consciousness of his own strength, and the recollection that it had
been only foiled by the skilful trick of a wrestler, and not the
hand-to-hand might of a pugilist, the panic vanished, and Tom Bowles
was himself again. "Oh, that's your sort, is it? We don't fight with
our heels hereabouts, like Cornishers and donkeys: we fight with our
fists, youngster; and since you _will_ have a bout at that, why, you
must."

"Providence," answered Kenelm, solemnly, "sent me to this village for
the express purpose of licking Tom Bowles. It is a signal mercy
vouchsafed to yourself, as you will one day acknowledge."

Again a thrill of awe, something like that which the demagogue in
Aristophanes might have felt when braved by the sausage-maker, shot
through the valiant heart of Tom Bowles. He did not like those
ominous words, and still less the lugubrious tone of voice in which
they were uttered, But resolved, at least, to proceed to battle with
more preparation than he had at first designed, he now deliberately
disencumbered himself of his heavy fustian jacket and vest, rolled up
his shirt-sleeves, and then slowly advanced towards the foe.

Kenelm had also, with still greater deliberation, taken off his
coat--which he folded up with care, as being both a new and an only
one, and deposited by the hedge-side--and bared arms, lean indeed and
almost slight, as compared with the vast muscle of his adversary, but
firm in sinew as the hind leg of a stag.

By this time the labourers, led by Jessie, had arrived at the spot,
and were about to crowd in between the combatants, when Kenelm waved
them back and said in a calm and impressive voice,--

"Stand round, my good friends, make a ring, and see that it is fair
play on my side. I am sure it will be fair on Mr. Bowles's. He is
big enough to scorn what is little. And now, Mr. Bowles, just a word
with you in the presence of your neighbours. I am not going to say
anything uncivil. If you are rather rough and hasty, a man is not
always master of himself--at least so I am told--when he thinks more
than he ought to do about a pretty girl. But I can't look at your
face even by this moonlight, and though its expression at this moment
is rather cross, without being sure that you are a fine fellow at
bottom, and that if you give a promise as man to man you will keep it.
Is that so?"

One or two of the bystanders murmured assent; the others pressed round
in silent wonder.

"What's all that soft-sawder about?" said Tom Bowles, somewhat
falteringly.

"Simply this: if in the fight between us I beat you, I ask you to
promise before your neighbours that you will not by word or deed
molest or interfere again with Miss Jessie Wiles."

"Eh!" roared Tom. "Is it that you are after her?"

"Suppose I am, if that pleases you; and on my side, I promise that if
you beat me, I quit this place as soon as you leave me well enough to
do so, and will never visit it again. What! do you hesitate to
promise? Are you really afraid I shall lick you?"

"You! I'd smash a dozen of you to powder."

"In that case, you are safe to promise. Come, 'tis a fair bargain.
Is n't it, neighbours?"

Won over by Kenelm's easy show of good temper, and by the sense of
justice, the bystanders joined in a common exclamation of assent.

"Come, Tom," said an old fellow, "the gentleman can't speak fairer;
and we shall all think you be afeard if you hold back."

Tom's face worked: but at last he growled, "Well, I promise; that is,
if he beats me."

"All right," said Kenelm. "You hear, neighbours; and Tom Bowles could
not show that handsome face of his among you if he broke his word.
Shake hands on it."

Fighting Tom sulkily shook hands.

"Well now, that's what I call English," said Kenelm, "all pluck and no
malice. Fall back, friends, and leave a clear space for us."

The men all receded; and as Kenelm took his ground, there was a supple
ease in his posture which at once brought out into clearer evidence
the nervous strength of his build, and, contrasted with Tom's bulk of
chest, made the latter look clumsy and topheavy.

The two men faced each other a minute, the eyes of both vigilant and
steadfast. Tom's blood began to fire up as he gazed; nor, with all
his outward calm; was Kenelm insensible of that proud beat of the
heart which is aroused by the fierce joy of combat. Tom struck out
first and a blow was parried, but not returned; another and another
blow,--still parried, still unreturned. Kenelm, acting evidently on
the defensive, took all the advantages for that strategy which he
derived from superior length of arm and lighter agility of frame.
Perhaps he wished to ascertain the extent of his adversary's skill, or
to try the endurance of his wind, before he ventured on the hazards of
attack. Tom, galled to the quick that blows which might have felled
an ox were thus warded off from their mark, and dimly aware that he
was encountering some mysterious skill which turned his brute strength
into waste force and might overmaster him in the long run, came to a
rapid conclusion that the sooner he brought that brute strength to
bear the better it would be for him. Accordingly, after three rounds,
in which without once breaking the guard of his antagonist he had
received a few playful taps on the nose and mouth, he drew back and
made a bull-like rush at his foe,--bull-like, for it butted full at
him with the powerful down-bent head, and the two fists doing duty as
horns. The rush spent, he found himself in the position of a man
milled. I take it for granted that every Englishman who can call
himself a man--that is, every man who has been an English boy, and, as
such, been compelled to the use of his fists--knows what a "mill" is.
But I sing not only "pueris," but "virginibus." Ladies, "a
mill,"--using with reluctance and contempt for myself that slang in
which ladywriters indulge, and Girls of the Period know much better
than they do their Murray,--"a mill,"--speaking not to ladywriters,
not to Girls of the Period, but to innocent damsels, and in
explanation to those foreigners who only understand the English
language as taught by Addison and Macaulay,--a "mill" periphrastically
means this: your adversary, in the noble encounter between fist and
fist, has so plunged his head that it gets caught, as in a vice,
between the side and doubled left arm of the adversary, exposing that
head, unprotected and helpless, to be pounded out of recognizable
shape by the right fist of the opponent. It is a situation in which
raw superiority of force sometimes finds itself, and is seldom spared
by disciplined superiority of skill. Kenelm, his right fist raised,
paused for a moment, then, loosening the left arm, releasing the
prisoner, and giving him a friendly slap on the shoulder, he turned
round to the spectators and said apologetically, "He has a handsome
face: it would be a shame to spoil it."

Tom's position of peril was so obvious to all, and that good-humoured
abnegation of the advantage which the position gave to the adversary
seemed so generous, that the labourers actually hurrahed. Tom,
himself felt as if treated like a child; and alas, and alas for him!
in wheeling round, and regathering himself up, his eye rested on
Jessie's face. Her lips were apart with breathless terror: he fancied
they were apart with a smile of contempt. And now he became
formidable. He fought as fights the bull in the presence of the
heifer, who, as he knows too well, will go with the conqueror.

If Tom had never yet fought with a man taught by a prizefighter, so
never yet had Kenelm encountered a strength which, but for the lack of
that teaching, would have conquered his own. He could act no longer
on the defensive; he could no longer play, like a dexterous fencer,
with the sledge-hammers of those mighty arms. They broke through his
guard; they sounded on his chest as on an anvil. He felt that did
they alight on his head he was a lost man. He felt also that the
blows spent on the chest of his adversary were idle as the stroke of a
cane on the hide of a rhinoceros. But now his nostrils dilated; his
eyes flashed fire: Kenelm Chillingly had ceased to be a philosopher.
Crash came his blow--how unlike the swinging roundabout hits of Tom
Bowles!--straight to its aim as the rifle-ball of a Tyrolese or a
British marksman at Aldershot,--all the strength of nerve, sinew,
purpose, and mind concentred in its vigour,--crash just at that part
of the front where the eyes meet, and followed up with the rapidity of
lightning, flash upon flash, by a more restrained but more disabling
blow with the left hand just where the left ear meets throat and
jaw-bone.

At the first blow Tom Bowles had reeled and staggered, at the second
he threw up his hands, made a jump in the air as if shot through the
heart, and then heavily fell forwards, an inert mass.

The spectators pressed round him in terror. They thought he was dead.
Kenelm knelt, passed quickly his hand over Tom's lips, pulse, and
heart, and then rising, said, humbly and with an air of apology,--

"If he had been a less magnificent creature, I assure you on my honour
that I should never have ventured that second blow. The first would
have done for any man less splendidly endowed by nature. Lift him
gently; take him home. Tell his mother, with my kind regards, that
I'll call and see her and him to-morrow. And, stop, does he ever
drink too much beer?"

"Well," said one of the villagers, "Tom _can_ drink."

"I thought so. Too much flesh for that muscle. Go for the nearest
doctor. You, my lad? good; off with you; quick. No danger, but
perhaps it may be a case for the lancet."

Tom Bowles was lifted tenderly by four of the stoutest men present and
borne into his home, evincing no sign of consciousness; but his face,
where not clouted with blood, was very pale, very calm, with a slight
froth at the lips.

Kenelm pulled down his shirt-sleeves, put on his coat, and turned to
Jessie,--

"Now, my young friend, show me Will's cottage."

The girl came to him, white and trembling. She did not dare to speak.
The stranger had become a new man in her eyes. Perhaps he frightened
her as much as Tom Bowles had done. But she quickened her pace,
leaving the public-house behind till she came to the farther end of
the village. Kenelm walked beside her, muttering to himself: and
though Jessie caught his words, happily she did not understand; for
they repeated one of those bitter reproaches on her sex as the main
cause of all strife, bloodshed, and mischief in general, with which
the classic authors abound. His spleen soothed by that recourse to
the lessons of the ancients, Kenelm turned at last to his silent
companion, and said kindly but gravely,--

"Mr. Bowles has given me his promise, and it is fair that I should now
ask a promise from you. It is this: just consider how easily a girl
so pretty as you can be the cause of a man's death. Had Bowles struck
me where I struck him I should have been past the help of a surgeon."

"Oh!" groaned Jessie, shuddering, and covering her face with both
hands.

"And, putting aside that danger, consider that a man may be hit
mortally on the heart as well as on the head, and that a woman has
much to answer for who, no matter what her excuse, forgets what misery
and what guilt can be inflicted by a word from her lip and a glance
from her eye. Consider this, and promise that, whether you marry Will
Somers or not, you will never again give a man fair cause to think you
can like him unless your own heart tells you that you can. Will you
promise that?"

"I will, indeed,--indeed." Poor Jessie's voice died in sobs.

"There, my child, I don't ask you not to cry, because I know how much
women like crying; and in this instance it does you a great deal of
good. But we are just at the end of the village; which is Will's
cottage?"

Jessie lifted her head, and pointed to a solitary, small thatched
cottage.

"I would ask you to come in and introduce me; but that might look too
much like crowing over poor Tom Bowles. So good-night to you, Jessie,
and forgive me for preaching."



CHAPTER XIII.

KENELM knocked at the cottage door; a voice said faintly, "Come in."

He stooped his head, and stepped over the threshold.

Since his encounter with Tom Bowles his sympathies had gone with that
unfortunate lover: it is natural to like a man after you have beaten
him; and he was by no means predisposed to favour Jessie's preference
for a sickly cripple.

Yet, when two bright, soft, dark eyes, and a pale intellectual
countenance, with that nameless aspect of refinement which delicate
health so often gives, especially to the young, greeted his quiet
gaze, his heart was at once won over to the side of the rival. Will
Somers was seated by the hearth, on which a few live embers despite
the warmth of the summer evening still burned; a rude little table was
by his side, on which were laid osier twigs and white peeled chips,
together with an open book. His hands, pale and slender, were at work
on a small basket half finished. His mother was just clearing away
the tea-things from another table that stood by the window. Will
rose, with the good breeding that belongs to the rural peasant, as the
stranger entered; the widow looked round with surprise, and dropped
her simple courtesy,--a little thin woman, with a mild, patient face.

The cottage was very tidily kept, as it is in most village homes where
the woman has it her own way. The deal dresser opposite the door had
its display of humble crockery. The whitewashed walls were relieved
with coloured prints, chiefly Scriptural subjects from the New
Testament, such as the Return of the Prodigal Son, in a blue coat and
yellow inexpressibles, with his stockings about his heels.

At one corner there were piled up baskets of various sizes, and at
another corner was an open cupboard containing books,--an article of
decorative furniture found in cottages much more rarely than coloured
prints and gleaming crockery.

All this, of course, Kenelm could not at a glance comprehend in
detail. But as the mind of a man accustomed to generalization is
marvellously quick in forming a sound judgment, whereas a mind
accustomed to dwell only on detail is wonderfully slow at arriving at
any judgment at all, and when it does, the probability is that it will
arrive at a wrong one, Kenelm judged correctly when he came to this
conclusion: "I am among simple English peasants; but, for some reason
or other, not to be explained by the relative amount of wages, it is a
favourable specimen of that class."

"I beg your pardon for intruding at this hour, Mrs. Somers," said
Kenelm, who had been too familiar with peasants from his earliest
childhood not to know how quickly, when in the presence of their
household gods, they appreciate respect, and how acutely they feel the
want of it. "But my stay in the village is very short, and I should
not like to leave without seeing your son's basket-work, of which I
have heard much."

"You are very good, sir," said Will, with a pleased smile that
wonderfully brightened up his face. "It is only just a few common
things that I keep by me. Any finer sort of work I mostly do by
order."

"You see, sir," said Mrs. Somers, "it takes so much more time for
pretty work-baskets, and such like; and unless done to order, it might
be a chance if he could get it sold. But pray be seated, sir," and
Mrs. Somers placed a chair for her visitor, "while I just run up
stairs for the work-basket which my son has made for Miss Travers. It
is to go home to-morrow, and I put it away for fear of accidents."

Kenelm seated himself, and, drawing his chair near to Will's, took up
the half-finished basket which the young man had laid down on the
table.

"This seems to me very nice and delicate workmanship," said Kenelm;
"and the shape, when you have finished it, will be elegant enough to
please the taste of a lady."

"It is for Mrs. Lethbridge," said Will: "she wanted something to hold
cards and letters; and I took the shape from a book of drawings which
Mr. Lethbridge kindly lent me. You know Mr. Lethbridge, sir? He is a
very good gentleman."

"No, I don't know him. Who is he?"

"Our clergyman, sir. This is the book."

To Kenelm's surprise, it was a work on Pompeii, and contained woodcuts
of the implements and ornaments, mosaics and frescos, found in that
memorable little city.

"I see this is your model," said Kenelm; "what they call a _patera_,
and rather a famous one. You are copying it much more truthfully than
I should have supposed it possible to do in substituting basket-work
for bronze. But you observe that much of the beauty of this shallow
bowl depends on the two doves perched on the brim. You can't manage
that ornamental addition."

"Mrs. Lethbridge thought of putting there two little stuffed
canary-birds."

"Did she? Good heavens!" exclaimed Kenelm.

"But somehow," continued Will, "I did not like that, and I made bold
to say so."

"Why did not you do it?"

"Well, I don't know; but I did not think it would be the right thing."

"It would have been very bad taste, and spoiled the effect of your
basket-work; and I'll endeavour to explain why. You see here, in the
next page, a drawing of a very beautiful statue. Of course this
statue is intended to be a representation of nature, but nature
idealized. You don't know the meaning of that hard word, idealized,
and very few people do. But it means the performance of a something
in art according to the idea which a man's mind forms to itself out of
a something in nature. That something in nature must, of course, have
been carefully studied before the man can work out anything in art by
which it is faithfully represented. The artist, for instance, who
made that statue, must have known the proportions of the human frame.
He must have made studies of various parts of it,--heads and hands,
and arms and legs, and so forth,--and having done so, he then puts
together all his various studies of details, so as to form a new
whole, which is intended to personate an idea formed in his own mind.
Do you go with me?"

"Partly, sir; but I am puzzled a little still."

"Of course you are; but you'll puzzle yourself right if you think over
what I say. Now if, in order to make this statue, which is composed
of metal or stone, more natural, I stuck on it a wig of real hair,
would not you feel at once that I had spoilt the work; that as you
clearly express it, 'it would not be the right thing'? and instead of
making the work of art more natural, I should have made it laughably
unnatural, by forcing insensibly upon the mind of him who looked at it
the contrast between the real life, represented by a wig of actual
hair, and the artistic life, represented by an idea embodied in stone
or metal. The higher the work of art (that is, the higher the idea it
represents as a new combination of details taken from nature), the
more it is degraded or spoilt by an attempt to give it a kind of
reality which is out of keeping with the materials employed. But the
same rule applies to everything in art, however humble. And a couple
of stuffed canary-birds at the brim of a basket-work imitation of a
Greek drinking-cup would be as bad taste as a wig from the barber's on
the head of a marble statue of Apollo."

"I see," said Will, his head downcast, like a man pondering,--"at
least I think I see; and I'm very much obliged to you, sir."

Mrs. Somers had long since returned with the work-basket, but stood
with it in her hands, not daring to interrupt the gentleman, and
listening to his discourse with as much patience and as little
comprehension as if it had been one of the controversial sermons upon
Ritualism with which on great occasions Mr. Lethbridge favoured his
congregation.

Kenelm having now exhausted his critical lecture--from which certain
poets and novelists who contrive to caricature the ideal by their
attempt to put wigs of real hair upon the heads of stone statues might
borrow a useful hint or two if they would condescend to do so, which
is not likely--perceived Mrs. Somers standing by him, took from her
the basket, which was really very pretty and elegant, subdivided into
various compartments for the implements in use among ladies, and
bestowed on it a well-merited eulogium.

"The young lady means to finish it herself with ribbons, and line it
with satin," said Mrs. Somers, proudly.

"The ribbons will not be amiss, sir?" said Will, interrogatively.

"Not at all. Your natural sense of the fitness of things tells you
that ribbons go well with straw and light straw-like work such as
this; though you would not put ribbons on those rude hampers and
game-baskets in the corner. Like to like; a stout cord goes suitably
with them: just as a poet who understands his art employs pretty
expressions for poems intended to be pretty and suit a fashionable
drawing-room, and carefully shuns them to substitute a simple cord for
poems intended to be strong and travel far, despite of rough usage by
the way. But you really ought to make much more money by this
fancy-work than you could as a day-labourer."

Will sighed. "Not in this neighbourhood, sir; I might in a town."

"Why not move to a town, then?"

The young man coloured, and shook his head.

Kenelm turned appealingly to Mrs. Somers. "I'll be willing to go
wherever it would be best for my boy, sir. But--" and here she
checked herself, and a tear trickled silently down her cheeks.

Will resumed, in a more cheerful tone, "I am getting a little known
now, and work will come if one waits for it." Kenelm did not deem it
courteous or discreet to intrude further on Will's confidence in the
first interview; and he began to feel, more than he had done at first,
not only the dull pain of the bruises he had received in the recent
combat, but also somewhat more than the weariness which follows long
summer-day's work in the open air. He therefore, rather abruptly, now
took his leave, saying that he should be very glad of a few specimens
of Will's ingenuity and skill, and would call or write to give
directions about them.

Just as he came in sight of Tom Bowles's house on his way back to Mr.
Saunderson's, Kenelm saw a man mounting a pony that stood tied up at
the gate, and exchanging a few words with a respectable-looking woman
before he rode on. He was passing by Kenelm without notice, when that
philosophical vagrant stopped him, saying, "If I am not mistaken, sir,
you are the doctor. There is not much the matter with Mr. Bowles?"

The doctor shook his head. "I can't say yet. He has had a very ugly
blow somewhere."

"It was just under the left ear. I did not aim at that exact spot:
but Bowles unluckily swerved a little aside at the moment, perhaps in
surprise at a tap between his eyes immediately preceding it: and so,
as you say, it was an ugly blow that he received. But if it cures him
of the habit of giving ugly blows to other people who can bear them
less safely, perhaps it may be all for his good, as, no doubt, sir,
your schoolmaster said when he flogged you."

"Bless my soul! are you the man who fought with him,--you? I can't
believe it."

"Why not?"

"Why not! So far as I can judge by this light, though you are a tall
fellow, Tom Bowles must be a much heavier weight than you are."

"Tom Spring was the champion of England; and according to the records
of his weight, which history has preserved in her archives, Tom Spring
was a lighter weight than I am."

"But are you a prize-fighter?"

"I am as much that as I am anything else. But to return to Mr.
Bowles, was it necessary to bleed him?"

"Yes; he was unconscious, or nearly so, when I came. I took away a
few ounces; and I am happy to say he is now sensible, but must be kept
very quiet."

"No doubt; but I hope he will be well enough to see me to-morrow."

"I hope so too; but I can't say yet. Quarrel about a girl,--eh?"

"It was not about money. And I suppose if there were no money and no
women in the world, there would be no quarrels and very few doctors.
Good-night, Sir."

"It is a strange thing to me," said Kenelm, as he now opened the
garden-gate of Mr. Saunderson's homestead, "that though I've had
nothing to eat all day, except a few pitiful sandwiches, I don't feel
the least hungry. Such arrest of the lawful duties of the digestive
organs never happened to me before. There must be something weird and
ominous in it."

On entering the parlour, the family party, though they had long since
finished supper, were still seated round the table. They all rose at
the sight of Kenelm. The fame of his achievements had preceded him.
He checked the congratulations, the compliments, and the questions
which the hearty farmer rapidly heaped upon him, with a melancholic
exclamation, "But I have lost my appetite! No honours can compensate
for that. Let me go to bed peaceably, and perhaps in the magic land
of sleep Nature may restore me by a dream of supper."



CHAPTER XIV.

KENELM rose betimes the next morning somewhat stiff and uneasy, but
sufficiently recovered to feel ravenous. Fortunately, one of the
young ladies, who attended specially to the dairy, was already up, and
supplied the starving hero with a vast bowl of bread and milk. He
then strolled into the hayfield, in which there was now very little
left to do, and but few hands besides his own were employed. Jessie
was not there. Kenelm was glad of that. By nine o'clock his work was
over, and the farmer and his men were in the yard completing the
ricks. Kenelm stole away unobserved, bent on a round of visits. He
called first at the village shop kept by Mrs. Bawtrey, which Jessie
had pointed out to him, on pretence of buying a gaudy neckerchief; and
soon, thanks to his habitual civility, made familiar acquaintance with
the shopwoman. She was a little sickly old lady, her head shaking, as
with palsy, somewhat deaf, but still shrewd and sharp, rendered
mechanically so by long habits of shrewdness and sharpness. She
became very communicative, spoke freely of her desire to give up the
shop, and pass the rest of her days with a sister, widowed like
herself, in a neighbouring town. Since she had lost her husband, the
field and orchard attached to the shop had ceased to be profitable,
and become a great care and trouble; and the attention the shop
required was wearisome. But she had twelve years unexpired of the
lease granted for twenty-one years to her husband on low terms, and
she wanted a premium for its transfer, and a purchaser for the stock
of the shop. Kenelm soon drew from her the amount of the sum she
required for all,--L45.

"You be n't thinking of it for yourself?" she asked, putting on her
spectacles, and examining him with care.

"Perhaps so, if one could get a decent living out of it. Do you keep
a book of your losses and your gains?"

"In course, sir," she said proudly. "I kept the books in my goodman's
time, and he was one who could find out if there was a farthing wrong,
for he had been in a lawyer's office when a lad."

"Why did he leave a lawyer's office to keep a little shop?"

"Well, he was born a farmer's son in this neighbourhood, and he always
had a hankering after the country, and--and besides that--"

"Yes."

"I'll tell you the truth; he had got into a way of drinking speerrits,
and he was a good young man, and wanted to break himself of it, and he
took the temperance oath; but it was too hard on him, for he could not
break himself of the company that led him into liquor. And so, one
time when he came into the neighbourhood to see his parents for the
Christmas holiday, he took a bit of liking to me; and my father, who
was Squire Travers's bailiff, had just died, and left me a little
money. And so, somehow or other, we came together, and got this house
and the land from the Squire on lease very reasonable; and my goodman
being well eddyeated, and much thought of, and never being tempted to
drink, now that he had a missis to keep him in order, had a many
little things put into his way. He could help to measure timber, and
knew about draining, and he got some bookkeeping from the farmers
about; and we kept cows and pigs and poultry, and so we did very well,
specially as the Lord was merciful and sent us no children."

"And what does the shop bring in a year since your husband died?"

"You had best judge for yourself. Will you look at the book, and take
a peep at the land and apple-trees? But they's been neglected since
my goodman died."

In another minute the heir of the Chillinglys was seated in a neat
little back parlour, with a pretty though confined view of the orchard
and grass slope behind it, and bending over Mrs. Bawtrey's ledger.

Some customers for cheese and bacon coming now into the shop, the old
woman left him to his studies. Though they were not of a nature
familiar to him, he brought to them, at least, that general clearness
of head and quick seizure of important points which are common to most
men who have gone through some disciplined training of intellect, and
been accustomed to extract the pith and marrow out of many books on
many subjects. The result of his examination was satisfactory; there
appeared to him a clear balance of gain from the shop alone of
somewhat over L40 a year, taking the average of the last three years.
Closing the book, he then let himself out of the window into the
orchard, and thence into the neighbouring grass field. Both were,
indeed, much neglected; the trees wanted pruning, the field manure.
But the soil was evidently of rich loam, and the fruit-trees were
abundant and of ripe age, generally looking healthy in spite of
neglect. With the quick intuition of a man born and bred in the
country, and picking up scraps of rural knowledge unconsciously,
Kenelm convinced himself that the land, properly managed, would far
more than cover the rent, rates, tithes, and all incidental outgoings,
leaving the profits of the shop as the clear income of the occupiers.
And no doubt with clever young people to manage the shop, its profits
might be increased.

Not thinking it necessary to return at present to Mrs. Bawtrey's,
Kenelm now bent his way to Tom Bowles's.

The house-door was closed. At the summons of his knock it was quickly
opened by a tall, stout, remarkably fine-looking woman, who might have
told fifty years, and carried them off lightly on her ample shoulders.
She was dressed very respectably in black, her brown hair braided
simply under a neat tight-fitting cap. Her features were aquiline and
very regular: altogether there was something about her majestic and
Cornelia-like. She might have sat for the model of that Roman matron,
except for the fairness of her Anglo-Saxon complexion.

"What's your pleasure?" she asked, in a cold and somewhat stern voice.

"Ma'am," answered Kenelm, uncovering, "I have called to see Mr.
Bowles, and I sincerely hope he is well enough to let me do so."

"No, sir, he is not well enough for that; he is lying down in his own
room, and must be kept quiet."

"May I then ask you the favour to let me in? I would say a few words
to you, who are his mother if I mistake not." Mrs. Bowles paused a
moment as if in doubt; but she was at no loss to detect in Kenelm's
manner something superior to the fashion of his dress, and supposing
the visit might refer to her son's professional business, she opened
the door wider, drew aside to let him pass first, and when he stood
midway in the parlour, requested him to take a seat, and, to set him
the example, seated herself.

"Ma'am," said Kenelm, "do not regret to have admitted me, and do not
think hardly of me when I inform you that I am the unfortunate cause
of your son's accident."

Mrs. Bowles rose with a start. "You're the man who beat my boy?"

"No, ma'am, do not say I beat him. He is not beaten. He is so brave
and so strong that he would easily have beaten me if I had not, by
good luck, knocked him down before he had time to do so. Pray, ma'am,
retain your seat and listen to me patiently for a few moments."

Mrs. Bowles, with an indignant heave of her Juno-like bosom, and with
a superbly haughty expression of countenance which suited well with
its aquiline formation, tacitly obeyed.

"You will allow, ma'am," recommenced Kenelm, "that this is not the
first time by many that Mr. Bowles has come to blows with another man.
Am I not right in that assumption?"

"My son is of hasty temper," replied Mrs. Bowles, reluctantly, "and
people should not aggravate him."

"You grant the fact, then?" said Kenelm, imperturbably, but with a
polite inclination of head. "Mr. Bowles has often been engaged in
these encounters, and in all of them it is quite clear that he
provoked the battle; for you must be aware that he is not the sort of
man to whom any other would be disposed to give the first blow. Yet,
after these little incidents had occurred, and Mr. Bowles had, say,
half killed the person who aggravated him, you did not feel any
resentment against that person, did you? Nay, if he had wanted
nursing, you would have gone and nursed him."

"I don't know as to nursing," said Mrs. Bowles, beginning to lose her
dignity of mien; "but certainly I should have been very sorry for him.
And as for Tom,--though I say it who should not say,--he has no more
malice than a baby: he'd go and make it up with any man, however badly
he had beaten him."

"Just as I supposed; and if the man had sulked and would not make it
up, Tom would have called him a bad fellow, and felt inclined to beat
him again."

Mrs. Bowles's face relaxed into a stately smile.

"Well, then," pursued Kenelm, "I do but humbly imitate Mr. Bowles, and
I come to make it up and shake hands with him."

"No, sir,--no," exclaimed Mrs. Bowles, though in a low voice, and
turning pale. "Don't think of it. 'Tis not the blows; he'll get over
those fast enough: 'tis his pride that's hurt; and if he saw you there
might be mischief. But you're a stranger, and going away: do go soon;
do keep out of his way; do!" And the mother clasped her hands.

"Mrs. Bowles," said Kenelm, with a change of voice and aspect,--a
voice and aspect so earnest and impressive that they stilled and awed
her,--"will you not help me to save your son from the dangers into
which that hasty temper and that mischievous pride may at any moment
hurry him? Does it never occur to you that these are the causes of
terrible crime, bringing terrible punishment; and that against brute
force, impelled by savage passions, society protects itself by the
hulks and the gallows?"

"Sir; how dare you--"

"Hush! If one man kill another in a moment of ungovernable wrath,
that is a crime which, though heavily punished by the conscience, is
gently dealt with by the law, which calls it only manslaughter; but if
a motive to the violence, such as jealousy or revenge, can be
assigned, and there should be no witness by to prove that the violence
was not premeditated, then the law does not call it manslaughter, but
murder. Was it not that thought which made you so imploringly
exclaim, 'Go soon; keep out of his way'?"

The woman made no answer, but, sinking back in her chair, gasped for
breath.

"Nay, madam," resumed Kenelm, mildly; "banish your fears. If you will
help me I feel sure that I can save your son from such perils, and I
only ask you to let me save him. I am convinced that he has a good
and a noble nature, and he is worth saving." And as he thus said he
took her hand. She resigned it to him and returned the pressure, all
her pride softening as she began to weep.

At length, when she recovered voice, she said,--

"It is all along of that girl. He was not so till she crossed him,
and made him half mad. He is not the same man since then,--my poor
Tom!"

"Do you know that he has given me his word, and before his
fellow-villagers, that if he had the worst of the fight he would never
molest Jessie Wiles again?"

"Yes, he told me so himself; and it is that which weighs on him now.
He broods and broods and mutters, and will not be comforted; and--and
I do fear that he means revenge. And again, I implore you to keep out
of his way."

"It is not revenge on me that he thinks of. Suppose I go and am seen
no more, do you think in your own heart that that girl's life is
safe?"

"What! My Tom kill a woman!"

"Do you never read in your newspaper of a man who kills his
sweetheart, or the girl who refuses to be his sweetheart? At all
events, you yourself do not approve this frantic suit of his. If I
have heard rightly, you have wished to get Tom out of the village for
some time, till Jessie Wiles is--we'll say, married, or gone elsewhere
for good."

"Yes, indeed, I have wished and prayed for it many's the time, both
for her sake and for his. And I am sure I don't know what we shall do
if he stays, for he has been losing custom fast. The Squire has taken
away his, and so have many of the farmers; and such a trade as it was
in his good father's time! And if he would go, his uncle, the
veterinary at Luscombe, would take him into partnership; for he has no
son of his own, and he knows how clever Tom is: there be n't a man who
knows more about horses; and cows, too, for the matter of that."

"And if Luscombe is a large place, the business there must be more
profitable than it can be here, even if Tom got back his custom?"

"Oh yes! five times as good,--if he would but go; but he'll not hear
of it."

"Mrs. Bowles, I am very much obliged to you for your confidence, and I
feel sure that all will end happily now we have had this talk. I'll
not press further on you at present. Tom will not stir out, I
suppose, till the evening."

"Ah, sir, he seems as if he had no heart to stir out again, unless for
something dreadful."

"Courage! I will call again in the evening, and then you just take me
up to Tom's room, and leave me there to make friends with him, as I
have with you. Don't say a word about me in the meanwhile."

"But--"

"'But,' Mrs. Bowles, is a word that cools many a warm impulse, stifles
many a kindly thought, puts a dead stop to many a brotherly deed.
Nobody would ever love his neighbour as himself if he listened to all
the Buts that could be said on the other side of the question."

CHAPTER XV.

KENELM now bent his way towards the parsonage, but just as he neared
its glebe-lands he met a gentleman whose dress was so evidently
clerical that he stopped and said,--

"Have I the honour to address Mr. Lethbridge?"

"That is my name," said the clergyman, smiling pleasantly. "Anything
I can do for you?"

"Yes, a great deal, if you will let me talk to you about a few of your
parishioners."

"My parishioners! I beg your pardon, but you are quite a stranger to
me, and, I should think, to the parish."

"To the parish,--no, I am quite at home in it; and I honestly believe
that it has never known a more officious busybody, thrusting himself
into its most private affairs."

Mr. Lethbridge stared, and, after a short pause, said, "I have heard
of a young man who has been staying at Mr. Saunderson's, and is indeed
at this moment the talk of the village. You are--"

"That young man. Alas! yes."

"Nay," said Mr. Lethbridge, kindly, "I cannot myself, as a minister of
the Gospel, approve of your profession, and, if I might take the
liberty, I would try and dissuade you from it; but still, as for the
one act of freeing a poor girl from the most scandalous persecution,
and administering, though in a rough way, a lesson to a savage brute
who has long been the disgrace and terror of the neighbourhood, I
cannot honestly say that it has my condemnation. The moral sense of a
community is generally a right one: you have won the praise of the
village. Under all the circumstances, I do not withhold mine. You
woke this morning and found yourself famous. Do not sigh 'Alas.'"

"Lord Byron woke one morning and found himself famous, and the result
was that he sighed 'Alas' for the rest of his life. If there be two
things which a wise man should avoid, they are fame and love. Heaven
defend me from both!"

Again the parson stared; but being of compassionate nature, and
inclined to take mild views of everything that belongs to humanity, he
said, with a slight inclination of his head,--

"I have always heard that the Americans in general enjoy the advantage
of a better education than we do in England, and their reading public
is infinitely larger than ours; still, when I hear one of a calling
not highly considered in this country for intellectual cultivation or
ethical philosophy cite Lord Byron, and utter a sentiment at variance
with the impetuosity of inexperienced youth, but which has much to
commend it in the eyes of a reflective Christian impressed with the
nothingness of the objects mostly coveted by the human heart, I am
surprised, and--oh, my dear young friend, surely your education might
fit you for something better!"

It was among the maxims of Kenelm Chillingly's creed that a sensible
man should never allow himself to be surprised; but here he was, to
use a popular idiom, "taken aback," and lowered himself to the rank of
ordinary minds by saying, simply, "I don't understand."

"I see," resumed the clergyman, shaking his head gently, "as I always
suspected, that in the vaunted education bestowed on Americans, the
elementary principles of Christian right and wrong are more neglected
than they are among our own humble classes. Yes, my young friend, you
may quote poets, you may startle me by remarks on the nothingness of
human fame and human love, derived from the precepts of heathen poets,
and yet not understand with what compassion, and, in the judgment of
most sober-minded persons, with what contempt, a human being who
practises your vocation is regarded."

"Have I a vocation?" said Kenelm. "I am very glad to hear it. What
is my vocation? And why must I be an American?"

"Why, surely I am not misinformed? You are the American--I forget his
name--who has come over to contest the belt of prize-fighting with the
champion of England. You are silent; you hang your head. By your
appearance, your length of limb, your gravity of countenance, your
evident education, you confirm the impression of your birth. Your
prowess has proved your profession."

"Reverend sir," said Kenelm, with his unutterable seriousness of
aspect, "I am on my travels in search of truth and in flight from
shams, but so great a take-in as myself I have not yet encountered.
Remember me in your prayers. I am not an American; I am not a
prize-fighter. I honour the first as the citizen of a grand republic
trying his best to accomplish an experiment in government in which he
will find the very prosperity he tends to create will sooner or later
destroy his experiment. I honour the last because strength, courage,
and sobriety are essential to the prize-fighter, and are among the
chiefest ornaments of kings and heroes. But I am neither one nor the
other. And all I can say for myself is, that I belong to that very
vague class commonly called English gentlemen, and that, by birth and
education, I have a right to ask you to shake hands with me as such."

Mr. Lethbridge stared again, raised his hat, bowed, and shook hands.

"You will allow me now to speak to you about your parishioners. You
take an interest in Will Somers; so do I. He is clever and ingenious.
But it seems there is not sufficient demand here for his baskets, and
he would, no doubt, do better in some neighbouring town. Why does he
object to move?"

"I fear that poor Will would pine away to death if he lost sight of
that pretty girl for whom you did such chivalrous battle with Tom
Bowles."

"The unhappy man, then, is really in love with Jessie Wiles? And do
you think she no less really cares for him?"

"I am sure of it."

"And would make him a good wife; that is, as wives go?"

"A good daughter generally makes a good wife. And there is not a
father in the place who has a better child than Jessie is to hers.
She really is a girl of a superior nature. She was the cleverest
pupil at our school, and my wife is much attached to her. But she has
something better than mere cleverness: she has an excellent heart."

"What you say confirms my own impressions. And the girl's father has
no other objection to Will Somers than his fear that Will could not
support a wife and family comfortably.

"He can have no other objection save that which would apply equally to
all suitors. I mean his fear lest Tom Bowles might do her some
mischief, if he knew she was about to marry any one else."

"You think, then, that Mr. Bowles is a thoroughly bad and dangerous
person?"

"Thoroughly bad and dangerous, and worse since he has taken to
drinking."

"I suppose he did not take to drinking till he lost his wits for
Jessie Wiles?"

"No, I don't think he did."

"But, Mr. Lethbridge, have you never used your influence over this
dangerous man?"

"Of course, I did try, but I only got insulted. He is a godless
animal, and has not been inside a church for years. He seems to have
got a smattering of such vile learning as may be found in infidel
publications, and I doubt if he has any religion at all."

"Poor Polyphemus! no wonder his Galatea shuns him."

"Old Wiles is terribly frightened, and asked my wife to find Jessie a
place as servant at a distance. But Jessie can't bear the thoughts of
leaving."

"For the same reason which attaches Will Somers to the native soil?"

"My wife thinks so."

"Do you believe that if Tom Bowles were out of the way, and Jessie and
Will were man and wife, they could earn a sufficient livelihood as
successors to Mrs. Bawtrey, Will adding the profits of his basket-work
to those of the shop and land?"

"A sufficient livelihood! of course. They would be quite rich. I
know the shop used to turn a great deal of money. The old woman, to
be sure, is no longer up to the business, but still she retains a good
custom."

"Will Somers seems in delicate health. Perhaps if he had a less weary
struggle for a livelihood, and no fear of losing Jessie, his health
would improve."

"His life would be saved, sir."

"Then," said Kenelm, with a heavy sigh and a face as long as an
undertaker's, "though I myself entertain a profound compassion for
that disturbance to our mental equilibrium which goes by the name of
'love,' and I am the last person who ought to add to the cares and
sorrows which marriage entails upon its victims,--I say nothing of the
woes destined to those whom marriage usually adds to a population
already overcrowded,--I fear that I must be the means of bringing
these two love-birds into the same cage. I am ready to purchase the
shop and its appurtenances on their behalf, on the condition that you
will kindly obtain the consent of Jessie's father to their union. As
for my brave friend Tom Bowles, I undertake to deliver them and the
village from that exuberant nature, which requires a larger field for
its energies. Pardon me for not letting you interrupt me. I have not
yet finished what I have to say. Allow me to ask if Mrs. Grundy
resides in this village."

"Mrs. Grundy! Oh, I understand. Of course; wherever a woman has a
tongue, there Mrs. Grundy has a home."

"And seeing that Jessie is very pretty, and that in walking with her I
encountered Mr. Bowles, might not Mrs. Grundy say, with a toss of her
head, 'that it was not out of pure charity that the stranger had been
so liberal to Jessie Wiles'? But if the money for the shop be paid
through you to Mrs. Bawtrey, and you kindly undertake all the
contingent arrangements, Mrs. Grundy will have nothing to say against
any one."

Mr. Lethbridge gazed with amaze at the solemn countenance before him.

"Sir," he said, after a long pause, "I scarcely know how to express my
admiration of a generosity so noble, so thoughtful, and accompanied
with a delicacy, and, indeed, with a wisdom, which--which--"

"Pray, my dear sir, do not make me still more ashamed of myself than I
am at present for an interference in love matters quite alien to my
own convictions as to the best mode of making an 'Approach to the
Angels.' To conclude this business, I think it better to deposit in
your hands the sum of L45, for which Mrs. Bawtrey has agreed to sell
the remainder of her lease and stock-in-hand; but, of course, you will
not make anything public till I am gone, and Tom Bowles too. I hope I
may get him away to-morrow; but I shall know to-night when I can
depend on his departure, and till he goes I must stay."

As he spoke, Kenelm transferred from his pocket-book to Mr.
Lethbridge's hand bank-notes to the amount specified.

"May I at least ask the name of the gentleman who honours me with his
confidence, and has bestowed so much happiness on members of my
flock?"

"There is no great reason why I should not tell you my name, but I see
no reason why I should. You remember Talleyrand's advice, 'If you are
in doubt whether to write a letter or not, don't.' The advice applies
to many doubts in life besides that of letter-writing. Farewell,
sir!"

"A most extraordinary young man," muttered the parson, gazing at the
receding form of the tall stranger; then gently shaking his head, he
added, "Quite an original." He was contented with that solution of
the difficulties which had puzzled him. May the reader be the same.



CHAPTER XVI.

AFTER the family dinner, at which the farmer's guest displayed more
than his usual powers of appetite, Kenelm followed his host towards
the stackyard, and said,--

"My dear Mr. Saunderson, though you have no longer any work for me to
do, and I ought not to trespass further on your hospitality, yet if I
might stay with you another day or so, I should be very grateful."

"My dear lad," cried the farmer, in whose estimation Kenelm had risen
prodigiously since the victory over Tom Bowles, "you are welcome to
stay as long as you like, and we shall be all sorry when you go.
Indeed, at all events, you must stay over Saturday, for you shall go
with us to the squire's harvest-supper. It will be a pretty sight,
and my girls are already counting on you for a dance."

"Saturday,--the day after to-morrow. You are very kind; but
merrymakings are not much in my way, and I think I shall be on my road
before you set off to the Squire's supper."

"Pooh! you shall stay; and, I say, young 'un, if you want more to do,
I have a job for you quite in your line."

"What is it?"

"Thrash my ploughman. He has been insolent this morning, and he is
the biggest fellow in the county, next to Tom Bowles."

Here the farmer laughed heartily, enjoying his own joke.

"Thank you for nothing," said Kenelm, rubbing his bruises. "A burnt
child dreads the fire."

The young man wandered alone into the fields. The day was becoming
overcast, and the clouds threatened rain. The air was exceedingly
still; the landscape, missing the sunshine, wore an aspect of gloomy
solitude. Kenelm came to the banks of the rivulet not far from the
spot on which the farmer had first found him. There he sat down, and
leaned his cheek on his hand, with eyes fixed on the still and
darkened stream lapsing mournfully away: sorrow entered into his heart
and tinged its musings.

"Is it then true," said he, soliloquizing, "that I am born to pass
through life utterly alone; asking, indeed, for no sister-half of
myself, disbelieving its possibility, shrinking from the thought of
it,--half scorning, half pitying those who sigh for it?--thing
unattainable,--better sigh for the moon!

"Yet if other men sigh for it, why do I stand apart from them? If the
world be a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players, am I
to be the solitary spectator, with no part in the drama and no
interest in the vicissitudes of its plot? Many there are, no doubt,
who covet as little as I do the part of 'Lover,' 'with a woful ballad,
made to his mistress's eyebrow;' but then they covet some other part
in the drama, such as that of Soldier 'bearded as a pard,' or that of
Justice 'in fair round belly with fat capon lined.' But me no
ambition fires: I have no longing either to rise or to shine. I don't
desire to be a colonel, nor an admiral, nor a member of Parliament,
nor an alderman; I do not yearn for the fame of a wit, or a poet, or a
philosopher, or a diner-out, or a crack shot at a rifle-match or a
_battue_. Decidedly, I am the one looker-on, the one bystander, and
have no more concern with the active world than a stone has. It is a
horrible phantasmal crotchet of Goethe, that originally we were all
monads, little segregated atoms adrift in the atmosphere, and carried
hither and thither by forces over which we had no control, especially
by the attraction of other monads, so that one monad, compelled by
porcine monads, crystallizes into a pig; another, hurried along by
heroic monads, becomes a lion or an Alexander. Now it is quite
clear," continued Kenelm, shifting his position and crossing the right
leg over the left, "that a monad intended or fitted for some other
planet may, on its way to that destination, be encountered by a
current of other monads blowing earthward, and be caught up in the
stream and whirled on, till, to the marring of its whole proper
purpose and scene of action, it settles here,--conglomerated into a
baby. Probably that lot has befallen me: my monad, meant for another
region in space, has been dropped into this, where it can never be at
home, never amalgamate with other monads nor comprehend why they are
in such a perpetual fidget. I declare I know no more why the minds of
human beings should be so restlessly agitated about things which, as
most of them own, give more pain than pleasure, than I understand why
that swarm of gnats, which has such a very short time to live, does
not give itself a moment's repose, but goes up and down, rising and
falling as if it were on a seesaw, and making as much noise about its
insignificant alternations of ascent and descent as if it were the hum
of men. And yet, perhaps, in another planet my monad would have
frisked and jumped and danced and seesawed with congenial monads, as
contentedly and as sillily as do the monads of men and gnats in this
alien Vale of Tears."

Kenelm had just arrived at that conjectural solution of his
perplexities when a voice was heard singing, or rather modulated to
that kind of chant between recitative and song, which is so pleasingly
effective where the intonations are pure and musical. They were so in
this instance, and Kenelm's ear caught every word in the following
song:--


     CONTENT.

 "There are times when the troubles of life are still;
   The bees wandered lost in the depths of June,
  And I paused where the chime of a silver rill
   Sang the linnet and lark to their rest at noon.

 "Said my soul, 'See how calmly the wavelets glide,
   Though so narrow their way to their ocean vent;
  And the world that I traverse is wide, is wide,
   And yet is too narrow to hold content'

 "O my son, never say that the world is wide;
   The rill in its banks is less closely pent:
  It is thou who art shoreless on every side,
   And thy width will not let thee enclose content."


As the voice ceased Kenelm lifted his head. But the banks of the
brook were so curving and so clothed with brushwood that for some
minutes the singer was invisible. At last the boughs before him were
put aside, and within a few paces of himself paused the man to whom he
had commended the praises of a beefsteak, instead of those which
minstrelsy in its immemorial error dedicates to love.

"Sir," said Kenelm, half rising, "well met once more. Have you ever
listened to the cuckoo?"

"Sir," answered the minstrel, "have you ever felt the presence of the
summer?"

"Permit me to shake hands with you. I admire the question by which
you have countermet and rebuked my own. If you are not in a hurry,
will you sit down and let us talk?"

The minstrel inclined his head and seated himself. His dog--now
emerged from the brushwood--gravely approached Kenelm, who with
greater gravity regarded him; then, wagging his tail, reposed on his
haunches, intent with ear erect on a stir in the neighbouring reeds,
evidently considering whether it was caused by a fish or a water-rat.

"I asked you, sir, if you had ever listened to the cuckoo from no
irrelevant curiosity; for often on summer days, when one is talking
with one's self,--and, of course, puzzling one's self,--a voice breaks
out, as it were from the heart of Nature, so far is it and yet so
near; and it says something very quieting, very musical, so that one
is tempted inconsiderately and foolishly to exclaim, 'Nature replies
to me.' The cuckoo has served me that trick pretty often. Your song
is a better answer to a man's self-questionings than he can ever get
from a cuckoo."

"I doubt that," said the minstrel. "Song, at the best, is but the
echo of some voice from the heart of Nature. And if the cuckoo's note
seemed to you such a voice, it was an answer to your questionings
perhaps more simply truthful than man can utter, if you had rightly
construed the language."

"My good friend," answered Kenelm, "what you say sounds very prettily;
and it contains a sentiment which has been amplified by certain
critics into that measureless domain of dunderheads which is vulgarly
called BOSH. But though Nature is never silent, though she abuses the
privilege of her age in being tediously gossiping and garrulous,
Nature never replies to our questions: she can't understand an
argument; she has never read Mr. Mill's work on Logic. In fact, as it
is truly said by a great philosopher, 'Nature has no mind.' Every man
who addresses her is compelled to force upon her for a moment the loan
of his own mind. And if she answers a question which his own mind
puts to her, it is only by such a reply as his own mind teaches to her
parrot-like lips. And as every man has a different mind, so every man
gets a different answer. Nature is a lying old humbug."

The minstrel laughed merrily; and his laugh was as sweet as his chant.

"Poets would have a great deal to unlearn if they are to look upon
Nature in that light."

"Bad poets would, and so much the better for them and their readers."

"Are not good poets students of Nature?"

"Students of Nature, certainly, as surgeons study anatomy by
dissecting a dead body. But the good poet, like the good surgeon, is
the man who considers that study merely as the necessary A B C, and
not as the all-in-all essential to skill in his practice. I do not
give the fame of a good surgeon to a man who fills a book with
details, more or less accurate, of fibres and nerves and muscles; and
I don't give the fame of a good poet to a man who makes an inventory
of the Rhine or the Vale of Gloucester. The good surgeon and the good
poet are they who understand the living man. What is that poetry of
drama which Aristotle justly ranks as the highest? Is it not a poetry
in which description of inanimate Nature must of necessity be very
brief and general; in which even the external form of man is so
indifferent a consideration that it will vary with each actor who
performs the part? A Hamlet may be fair or dark. A Macbeth may be
short or tall. The merit of dramatic poetry consists in the
substituting for what is commonly called Nature (namely, external and
material Nature) creatures intellectual, emotional, but so purely
immaterial that they may be said to be all mind and soul, accepting
the temporary loans of any such bodies at hand as actors may offer, in
order to be made palpable and visible to the audience, but needing no
such bodies to be palpable and visible to readers. The highest kind
of poetry is therefore that which has least to do with external
Nature. But every grade has its merit more or less genuinely great,
according as it instils into Nature that which is not there,--the
reason and the soul of man."

"I am not much disposed," said the minstrel, "to acknowledge any one
form of poetry to be practically higher than another; that is, so far
as to elevate the poet who cultivates what you call the highest with
some success above the rank of the poet who cultivates what you call a
very inferior school with a success much more triumphant. In theory,
dramatic poetry may be higher than lyric, and 'Venice Preserved' is a
very successful drama; but I think Burns a greater poet than Otway."

"Possibly he may be; but I know of no lyrical poet, at least among the
moderns, who treats less of Nature as the mere outward form of things,
or more passionately animates her framework with his own human heart,
than does Robert Burns. Do you suppose when a Greek, in some
perplexity of reason or conscience, addressed a question to the
oracular oak-leaves of Dodona that the oak-leaves answered him? Don't
you rather believe that the question suggested by his mind was
answered by the mind of his fellow-man, the priest, who made the
oak-leaves the mere vehicle of communication, as you and I might make
such vehicle in a sheet of writing-paper? Is not the history of
superstition a chronicle of the follies of man in attempting to get
answers from external Nature?"

"But," said the minstrel, "have I not somewhere heard or read that the
experiments of Science are the answers made by Nature to the questions
put to her by man?"

"They are the answers which his own mind suggests to her,--nothing
more. His mind studies the laws of matter, and in that study makes
experiments on matter; out of those experiments his mind, according to
its previous knowledge or natural acuteness, arrives at its own
deductions, and hence arise the sciences of mechanics and chemistry,
etc. But the matter itself gives no answer: the answer varies
according to the mind that puts the question; and the progress of
science consists in the perpetual correction of the errors and
falsehoods which preceding minds conceived to be the correct answers
they received from Nature. It is the supernatural within us,--namely,
Mind,--which can alone guess at the mechanism of the natural, namely,
Matter. A stone cannot question a stone."

The minstrel made no reply. And there was a long silence, broken but
by the hum of the insects, the ripple of onward waves, and the sigh of
the wind through reeds.



CHAPTER XVII.

SAID Kenelm, at last breaking silence--


     "'Rapiamus, amici,
   Occasionem de die, dumque virent genua,
   Et decet, obducta solvatur fronte senectus!'"


"Is not that quotation from Horace?" asked the minstrel.

"Yes; and I made it insidiously, in order to see if you had not
acquired what is called a classical education."

"I might have received such education, if my tastes and my destinies
had not withdrawn me in boyhood from studies of which I did not then
comprehend the full value. But I did pick up a smattering of Latin at
school; and from time to time since I left school I have endeavoured
to gain some little knowledge of the most popular Latin poets;
chiefly, I own to my shame, by the help of literal English
translations."

"As a poet yourself, I am not sure that it would be an advantage to
know a dead language so well that its forms and modes of thought ran,
though perhaps unconsciously, into those of the living one in which
you compose. Horace might have been a still better poet if he had not
known Greek better than you know Latin."

"It is at least courteous in you to say so," answered the singer, with
a pleased smile.

"You would be still more courteous," said Kenelm, "if you would pardon
an impertinent question, and tell me whether it is for a wager that
you wander through the land, Homer-like, as a wandering minstrel, and
allow that intelligent quadruped your companion to carry a tray in his
mouth for the reception of pennies?"

"No, it is not for a wager; it is a whim of mine, which I fancy from
the tone of your conversation you could understand, being apparently
somewhat whimsical yourself."

"So far as whim goes, be assured of my sympathy."

"Well, then, though I follow a calling by the exercise of which I
secure a modest income, my passion is verse. If the seasons were
always summer, and life were always youth, I should like to pass
through the world singing. But I have never ventured to publish any
verses of mine. If they fell still-born it would give me more pain
than such wounds to vanity ought to give to a bearded man; and if they
were assailed or ridiculed it might seriously injure me in my
practical vocation. That last consideration, were I quite alone in
the world, might not much weigh on me; but there are others for whose
sake I should like to make fortune and preserve station. Many years
ago--it was in Germany--I fell in with a German student who was very
poor, and who did make money by wandering about the country with lute
and song. He has since become a poet of no mean popularity, and he
has told me that he is sure he found the secret of that popularity in
habitually consulting popular tastes during his roving apprenticeship
to song. His example strongly impressed me. So I began this
experiment; and for several years my summers have been all partly
spent in this way. I am only known, as I think I told you before, in
the rounds I take as 'The Wandering Minstrel;' I receive the trifling
moneys that are bestowed on me as proofs of a certain merit. I should
not be paid by poor people if I did not please; and the songs which
please them best are generally those I love best myself. For the
rest, my time is not thrown away,--not only as regards bodily health,
but healthfulness of mind: all the current of one's ideas becomes so
freshened by months of playful exercise and varied adventure."

"Yes, the adventure is varied enough," said Kenelm, somewhat ruefully;
for he felt, in shifting his posture, a sharp twinge of his bruised
muscles. "But don't you find those mischief-makers, the women, always
mix themselves up with adventure?"

"Bless them! of course," said the minstrel, with a ringing laugh. "In
life, as on the stage, the petticoat interest is always the
strongest."

"I don't agree with you there," said Kenelm, dryly. "And you seem to
me to utter a claptrap beneath the rank of your understanding.
However, this warm weather indisposes one to disputation; and I own
that a petticoat, provided it be red, is not without the interest of
colour in a picture."

"Well, young gentleman," said the minstrel, rising, "the day is
wearing on, and I must wish you good-by; probably, if you were to
ramble about the country as I do, you would see too many pretty girls
not to teach you the strength of petticoat interest,--not in pictures
alone; and should I meet you again I may find you writing love-verses
yourself."

"After a conjecture so unwarrantable, I part company with you less
reluctantly than I otherwise might do. But I hope we shall meet
again."

"Your wish flatters me much; but, if we do, pray respect the
confidence I have placed in you, and regard my wandering minstrelsy
and my dog's tray as sacred secrets. Should we not so meet, it is but
a prudent reserve on my part if I do not give you my right name and
address."

"There you show the cautious common-sense which belongs rarely to
lovers of verse and petticoat interest. What have you done with your
guitar?"

"I do not pace the roads with that instrument: it is forwarded to me
from town to town under a borrowed name, together with other raiment
that this, should I have cause to drop my character of wandering
minstrel."

The two men here exchanged a cordial shake of the hand. And as the
minstrel went his way along the river-side, his voice in chanting
seemed to lend to the wavelets a livelier murmur, to the reeds a less
plaintive sigh.



CHAPTER XVIII.

IN his room, solitary and brooding, sat the defeated hero of a hundred
fights. It was now twilight; but the shutters had been partially
closed all day, in order to exclude the sun, which had never before
been unwelcome to Tom Bowles, and they still remained so, making the
twilight doubly twilight, till the harvest moon, rising early, shot
its ray through the crevice, and forced a silvery track amid the
shadows of the floor.

The man's head drooped on his breast; his strong hands rested
listlessly on his knees: his attitude was that of utter despondency
and prostration. But in the expression of his face there were the
signs of some dangerous and restless thought which belied not the
gloom but the stillness of the posture. His brow, which was
habitually open and frank, in its defying aggressive boldness, was now
contracted into deep furrows, and lowered darkly over his downcast,
half-closed eyes. His lips were so tightly compressed that the face
lost its roundness, and the massive bone of the jaw stood out hard and
salient. Now and then, indeed, the lips opened, giving vent to a
deep, impatient sigh, but they reclosed as quickly as they had parted.
It was one of those crises in life which find all the elements that
make up a man's former self in lawless anarchy; in which the Evil One
seems to enter and direct the storm; in which a rude untutored mind,
never before harbouring a thought of crime, sees the crime start up
from an abyss, feels it to be an enemy, yet yields to it as a fate.
So that when, at the last, some wretch, sentenced to the gibbet,
shudderingly looks back to the moment "that trembled between two
worlds,"--the world of the man guiltless, the world of the man
guilty,--he says to the holy, highly educated, rational, passionless
priest who confesses him and calls him "brother," "The devil put it
into my head."

At that moment the door opened; at its threshold there stood the man's
mother--whom he had never allowed to influence his conduct, though he
loved her well in his rough way--and the hated fellow-man whom he
longed to see dead at his feet. The door reclosed: the mother was
gone, without a word, for her tears choked her; the fellow-man was
alone with him. Tom Bowles looked up, recognized his visitor, cleared
his brow, and rubbed his mighty hands.



CHAPTER XIX.

KENELM CHILLINGLY drew a chair close to his antagonist's, and silently
laid a hand on his.

Tom Bowles took up the hand in both his own, turned it curiously
towards the moonlight, gazed at it, poised it, then with a sound
between groan and laugh tossed it away as a thing hostile but trivial,
rose and locked the door, came back to his seat and said bluffly,--

"What do you want with me now?"

"I want to ask you a favour."

"Favour?"

"The greatest which man can ask from man,--friendship. You see, my
dear Tom," continued Kenelm, making himself quite at home, throwing
his arm over the back of Tom's chair, and stretching his legs
comfortably as one does by one's own fireside; "you see, my dear Tom,
that men like us--young, single, not on the whole bad-looking as men
go--can find sweethearts in plenty. If one does not like us, another
will; sweethearts are sown everywhere like nettles and thistles. But
the rarest thing in life is a friend. Now, tell me frankly, in the
course of your wanderings did you ever come into a village where you
could not have got a sweetheart if you had asked for one; and if,
having got a sweetheart, you had lost her, do you think you would have
had any difficulty in finding another? But have you such a thing in
the world, beyond the pale of your own family, as a true friend,--a
man friend; and supposing that you had such a friend,--a friend who
would stand by you through thick and thin; who would tell you your
faults to your face, and praise you for your good qualities behind
your back; who would do all he could to save you from a danger, and
all he could to get you out of one,--supposing you had such a friend
and lost him, do you believe that if you lived to the age of
Methuselah you could find another? You don't answer me; you are
silent. Well, Tom, I ask you to be such a friend to me, and I will be
such a friend to you."

Tom was so thoroughly "taken aback" by this address that he remained
dumfounded. But he felt as if the clouds in his soul were breaking,
and a ray of sunlight were forcing its way through the sullen
darkness. At length, however, the receding rage within him returned,
though with vacillating step, and he growled between his teeth,--

"A pretty friend indeed, robbing me of my girl! Go along with you!"

"She was not your girl any more than she was or ever can be mine."

"What, you be n't after her?"

"Certainly not; I am going to Luscombe, and I ask you to come with me.
Do you think I am going to leave you here?"

"What is it to you?"

"Everything. Providence has permitted me to save you from the most
lifelong of all sorrows. For--think! Can any sorrow be more lasting
than had been yours if you had attained your wish; if you had forced
or frightened a woman to be your partner till death do part,--you
loving her, she loathing you; you conscious, night and day, that your
very love had insured her misery, and that misery haunting you like a
ghost!--that sorrow I have saved you. May Providence permit me to
complete my work, and save you also from the most irredeemable of all
crimes! Look into your soul, then recall the thoughts which all day
long, and not least at the moment I crossed this threshold, were
rising up, making reason dumb and conscience blind, and then lay your
hand on your heart and say, 'I am guiltless of a dream of murder.'"

The wretched man sprang up erect, menacing, and, meeting Kenelm's
calm, steadfast, pitying gaze, dropped no less suddenly,--dropped on
the floor, covered his face with his hands, and a great cry came forth
between sob and howl.

"Brother," said Kenelm, kneeling beside him, and twining his arm round
the man's heaving breast, "it is over now; with that cry the demon
that maddened you has fled forever."



CHAPTER XX.

WHEN, some time after, Kenelm quitted the room and joined Mrs. Bowles
below, he said cheerily, "All right; Tom and I are sworn friends. We
are going together to Luscombe the day after to-morrow,--Sunday; just
write a line to his uncle to prepare him for Tom's visit, and send
thither his clothes, as we shall walk, and steal forth unobserved
betimes in the morning. Now go up and talk to him; he wants a
mother's soothing and petting. He is a noble fellow at heart, and we
shall be all proud of him some day or other."

As he walked towards the farmhouse, Kenelm encountered Mr. Lethbridge,
who said, "I have come from Mr. Saunderson's, where I went in search
of you. There is an unexpected hitch in the negotiation for Mrs.
Bawtrey's shop. After seeing you this morning I fell in with Mr.
Travers's bailiff, and he tells me that her lease does not give her
the power to sublet without the Squire's consent; and that as the
premises were originally let on very low terms to a favoured and
responsible tenant, Mr. Travers cannot be expected to sanction the
transfer of the lease to a poor basket-marker: in fact, though he will
accept Mrs. Bawtrey's resignation, it must be in favour of an
applicant whom he desires to oblige. On hearing this, I rode over to
the Park and saw Mr. Travers himself. But he was obdurate to my
pleadings. All I could get him to say was, 'Let the stranger who
interests himself in the matter come and talk to me. I should like to
see the man who thrashed that brute Tom Bowles: if he got the better
of him perhaps he may get the better of me. Bring him with you to my
harvest-supper to-morrow evening.' Now, will you come?"

"Nay," said Kenelm, reluctantly; "but if he only asks me in order to
gratify a very vulgar curiosity, I don't think I have much chance of
serving Will Somers. What do you say?"

"The Squire is a good man of business, and, though no one can call him
unjust or grasping, still he is very little touched by sentiment; and
we must own that a sickly cripple like poor Will is not a very
eligible tenant. If, therefore, it depended only on your chance with
the Squire, I should not be very sanguine. But we have an ally in his
daughter. She is very fond of Jessie Wiles, and she has shown great
kindness to Will. In fact, a sweeter, more benevolent, sympathizing
nature than that of Cecilia Travers does not exist. She has great
influence with her father, and through her you may win him."

"I particularly dislike having anything to do with women," said
Kenelm, churlishly. "Parsons are accustomed to get round them.
Surely, my dear sir, you are more fit for that work than I am."

"Permit me humbly to doubt that proposition; one does n't get very
quickly round the women when one carries the weight of years on one's
back. But whenever you want the aid of a parson to bring your own
wooing to a happy conclusion, I shall be happy, in my special capacity
of parson, to perform the ceremony required."

"_Dii meliora_!" said Kenelm, gravely. "Some ills are too serious to
be approached even in joke. As for Miss Travers, the moment you call
her benevolent you inspire me with horror. I know too well what a
benevolent girl is,--officious, restless, fidgety, with a snub nose,
and her pocket full of tracts. I will not go to the harvest-supper."

"Hist!" said the Parson, softly. They were now passing the cottage
of Mrs. Somers; and while Kenelm was haranguing against benevolent
girls, Mr. Lethbridge had paused before it, and was furtively looking
in at the window. "Hist! and come here,--gently."

Kenelm obeyed, and looked in through the window. Will was seated;
Jessie Wiles had nestled herself at his feet, and was holding his hand
in both hers, looking up into his face. Her profile alone was seen,
but its expression was unutterably soft and tender. His face, bent
downwards towards her, wore a mournful expression; nay, the tears were
rolling silently down his cheeks. Kenelm listened and heard her say,
"Don't talk so, Will, you break my heart; it is I who am not worthy of
you."

"Parson," said Kenelm, as they walked on, "I must go to that
confounded harvest-supper. I begin to think there is something true
in the venerable platitude about love in a cottage. And Will Somers
must be married in haste, in order to repent at leisure."

"I don't see why a man should repent having married a good girl whom
he loves."

"You don't? Answer me candidly. Did you ever meet a man who repented
having married?"

"Of course I have; very often."

"Well, think again, and answer as candidly. Did you ever meet a man
who repented not having married?"

The Parson mused, and was silent.

"Sir," said Kenelm, "your reticence proves your honesty, and I respect
it." So saying, he bounded off, and left the Parson crying out
wildly, "But--but--"



CHAPTER XXI.

MR. SAUNDERSON and Kenelm sat in the arbour: the former sipping his
grog and smoking his pipe; the latter looking forth into the summer
night skies with an earnest yet abstracted gaze, as if he were trying
to count the stars in the Milky Way.

"Ha!" said Mr. Saunderson, who was concluding an argument; "you see it
now, don't you?"

"I? not a bit of it. You tell me that your grandfather was a farmer,
and your father was a farmer, and that you have been a farmer for
thirty years; and from these premises you deduce the illogical and
irrational conclusion that therefore your son must be a farmer."

"Young man, you may think yourself very knowing 'cause you have been
at the 'Varsity, and swept away a headful of book-learning."

"Stop," quoth Kenelm. "You grant that a university is learned."

"Well, I suppose so."

"But how could it be learned if those who quitted it brought the
learning away? We leave it all behind us in the care of the tutors.
But I know what you were going to say,--that it is not because I had
read more books than you have that I was to give myself airs and
pretend to have more knowledge of life than a man of your years and
experience. Agreed, as a general rule. But does not every doctor,
however wise and skilful, prefer taking another doctor's opinion about
himself, even though that other doctor has just started in practice?
And seeing that doctors, taking them as a body, are monstrous clever
fellows, is not the example they set us worth following? Does it not
prove that no man, however wise, is a good judge of his own case?
Now, your son's case is really your case: you see it through the
medium of your likings and dislikings; and insist upon forcing a
square peg into a round hole, because in a round hole you, being a
round peg, feel tight and comfortable. Now I call that irrational."

"I don't see why my son has any right to fancy himself a square peg,"
said the farmer, doggedly, "when his father and his grandfather and
his great-grandfather have been round pegs; and it is agin' nature for
any creature not to take after its own kind. A dog is a pointer or a
sheep-dog according as its forebears were pointers or sheep-dogs.
There," cried the farmer, triumphantly, shaking the ashes out of his
pipe. "I think I have posed you, young master!"

"No; for you have taken it for granted that the breeds have not been
crossed. But suppose that a sheep-dog has married a pointer, are you
sure that his son will not be more of a pointer than a sheep-dog?"

Mr. Saunderson arrested himself in the task of refilling his pipe, and
scratched his head.

"You see," continued Kenelm, "that you have crossed the breed. You
married a tradesman's daughter, and I dare say her grandfather and
great-grandfather were tradesmen too. Now, most sons take after their
mothers, and therefore Mr. Saunderson junior takes after his kind on
the distaff side, and comes into the world a square peg, which can
only be tight and comfortable in a square hole. It is no use arguing,
Farmer: your boy must go to his uncle; and there's an end of the
matter."

"By goles!" said the farmer, "you seem to think you can talk me out of
my senses."

"No; but I think if you had your own way you would talk your son into
the workhouse."

"What! by sticking to the land like his father before him? Let a man
stick by the land, and the land will stick by him."

"Let a man stick in the mud, and the mud will stick to him. You put
your heart in your farm, and your son would only put his foot into it.
Courage! Don't you see that Time is a whirligig, and all things come
round? Every day somebody leaves the land and goes off into trade.
By and by he grows rich, and then his great desire is to get back to
the land again. He left it the son of a farmer: he returns to it as a
squire. Your son, when he gets to be fifty, will invest his savings
in acres, and have tenants of his own. Lord, how he will lay down the
law to them! I would not advise you to take a farm under him."

"Catch me at it!" said the farmer. "He would turn all the contents of
the 'pothecary's shop into my fallows, and call it 'progress.'"

"Let him physic the fallows when he has farms of his own: keep yours
out of his chemical clutches. Come, I shall tell him to pack up and
be off to his uncle's next week?"

"Well, well," said the farmer, in a resigned tone: "a wilful man must
e'en have his way."

"And the best thing a sensible man can do is not to cross it. Mr.
Saunderson, give me your honest hand. You are one of those men who
put the sons of good fathers in mind of their own; and I think of mine
when I say 'God bless you!'"

Quitting the farmer, Kenelm re-entered the house, and sought Mr.
Saunderson junior in his own room. He found that young gentleman
still up, and reading an eloquent tract on the Emancipation of the
Human Race from all Tyrannical Control,--Political, Social,
Ecclesiastical, and Domestic.

The lad looked up sulkily, and said, on encountering Kenelm's
melancholic visage, "Ah! I see you have talked with the old governor,
and he'll not hear of it."

"In the first place," answered Kenelm, "since you value yourself on a
superior education, allow me to advise you to study the English
language, as the forms of it are maintained by the elder authors,
whom, in spite of an Age of Progress, men of superior education
esteem. No one who has gone through that study; no one, indeed, who
has studied the Ten Commandments in the vernacular,--commits the
mistake of supposing that 'the old governor' is a synonymous
expression for 'father.' In the second place, since you pretend to the
superior enlightenment which results from a superior education, learn
to know better your own self before you set up as a teacher of
mankind. Excuse the liberty I take, as your sincere well-wisher, when
I tell you that you are at present a conceited fool,--in short, that
which makes one boy call another an 'ass.' But when one has a poor
head he may redeem the average balance of humanity by increasing the
wealth of the heart. Try and increase yours. Your father consents to
your choice of your lot at the sacrifice of all his own inclinations.
This is a sore trial to a father's pride, a father's affection; and
few fathers make such sacrifices with a good grace. I have thus kept
my promise to you, and enforced your wishes on Mr. Saunderson's
judgment, because I am sure you would have been a very bad farmer. It
now remains for you to show that you can be a very good tradesman.
You are bound in honour to me and to your father to try your best to
be so; and meanwhile leave the task of upsetting the world to those
who have no shop in it, which would go crash in the general tumble.
And so good-night to you."

To these admonitory words, _sacro digna silentio_, Saunderson junior
listened with a dropping jaw and fascinated staring eyes. He felt
like an infant to whom the nurse has given a hasty shake, and who is
too stupefied by that operation to know whether he is hurt or not.

A minute after Kenelm had quitted the room he reappeared at the door,
and said in a conciliatory whisper, "Don't take it to heart that I
called you a conceited fool and an ass. These terms are no doubt just
as applicable to myself. But there is a more conceited fool and a
greater ass than either of us; and that is the Age in which we have
the misfortune to be born,--an Age of Progress, Mr. Saunderson,
junior!--an Age of Prigs."



BOOK III.



CHAPTER I.

IF there were a woman in the world who might be formed and fitted to
reconcile Kenelm Chillingly to the sweet troubles of love and the
pleasant bickerings of wedded life, one might reasonably suppose that
that woman could be found in Cecilia Travers. An only daughter and
losing her mother in childhood, she had been raised to the
mistress-ship of a household at an age in which most girls are still
putting their dolls to bed; and thus had early acquired that sense of
responsibility, accompanied with the habits of self-reliance, which
seldom fails to give a certain nobility to character; though almost as
often, in the case of women, it steals away the tender gentleness
which constitutes the charm of their sex.

It had not done so in the instance of Cecilia Travers, because she was
so womanlike that even the exercise of power could not make her
manlike. There was in the depth of her nature such an instinct of
sweetness that wherever her mind toiled and wandered it gathered and
hoarded honey.

She had one advantage over most girls in the same rank of life,--she
had not been taught to fritter away such capacities for culture as
Providence gave her in the sterile nothingnesses which are called
feminine accomplishments. She did not paint figures out of drawing in
meagre water-colours; she had not devoted years of her life to the
inflicting on polite audiences the boredom of Italian bravuras, which
they could hear better sung by a third-rate professional singer in a
metropolitan music-hall. I am afraid she had no other female
accomplishments than those by which the sempstress or embroideress
earns her daily bread. That sort of work she loved, and she did it
deftly.

But if she had not been profitlessly plagued by masters, Cecilia
Travers had been singularly favoured by her father's choice of a
teacher: no great merit in him either. He had a prejudice against
professional governesses, and it chanced that among his own family
connections was a certain Mrs. Campion, a lady of some literary
distinction, whose husband had held a high situation in one of our
public offices, and living, much to his satisfaction, up to a very
handsome income, had died, much to the astonishment of others, without
leaving a farthing behind him.

Fortunately, there were no children to provide for. A small
government pension was allotted to the widow; and as her husband's
house had been made by her one of the pleasantest in London, she was
popular enough to be invited by numerous friends to their country
seats; among others, by Mr. Travers. She came intending to stay a
fortnight. At the end of that time she had grown so attached to
Cecilia, and Cecilia to her, and her presence had become so pleasant
and so useful to her host, that the Squire entreated her to stay and
undertake the education of his daughter. Mrs. Campion, after some
hesitation, gratefully consented; and thus Cecilia, from the age of
eight to her present age of nineteen, had the inestimable advantage of
living in constant companionship with a woman of richly cultivated
mind, accustomed to hear the best criticisms on the best books, and
adding to no small accomplishment in literature the refinement of
manners and that sort of prudent judgment which result from habitual
intercourse with an intellectual and gracefully world-wise circle of
society: so that Cecilia herself, without being at all blue or
pedantic, became one of those rare young women with whom a
well-educated man can converse on equal terms; from whom he gains as
much as he can impart to her; while a man who, not caring much about
books, is still gentleman enough to value good breeding, felt a relief
in exchanging the forms of his native language without the shock of
hearing that a bishop was "a swell" or a croquet-party "awfully
jolly."

In a word, Cecilia was one of those women whom Heaven forms for man's
helpmate; who, if he were born to rank and wealth, would, as his
partner, reflect on them a new dignity, and add to their enjoyment by
bringing forth their duties; who, not less if the husband she chose
were poor and struggling, would encourage, sustain, and soothe him,
take her own share of his burdens, and temper the bitterness of life
with the all-recompensing sweetness of her smile.

Little, indeed, as yet had she ever thought of love or of lovers. She
had not even formed to herself any of those ideals which float before
the eyes of most girls when they enter their teens. But of two things
she felt inly convinced: first, that she could never wed where she did
not love; and secondly, that where she did love it would be for life.

And now I close this sketch with a picture of the girl herself. She
has just come into her room from inspecting the preparations for the
evening entertainment which her father is to give to his tenants and
rural neighbours.

She has thrown aside her straw hat, and put down the large basket
which she has emptied of flowers. She pauses before the glass,
smoothing back the ruffled bands of her hair,--hair of a dark, soft
chestnut, silky and luxuriant,--never polluted, and never, so long as
she lives, to be polluted by auricomous cosmetics, far from that
delicate darkness, every tint of the colours traditionally dedicated
to the locks of Judas.

Her complexion, usually of that soft bloom which inclines to paleness,
is now heightened into glow by exercise and sunlight. The features
are small and feminine; the eyes dark with long lashes; the mouth
singularly beautiful, with a dimple on either side, and parted now in
a half-smile at some pleasant recollection, giving a glimpse of small
teeth glistening as pearls. But the peculiar charm of her face is in
an expression of serene happiness, that sort of happiness which seems
as if it had never been interrupted by a sorrow, had never been
troubled by a sin,--that holy kind of happiness which belongs to
innocence, the light reflected from a heart and conscience alike at
peace.



CHAPTER II.

IT was a lovely summer evening for the Squire's rural entertainment.
Mr. Travers had some guests staying with him: they had dined early for
the occasion, and were now grouped with their host a little before six
o'clock on the lawn. The house was of irregular architecture, altered
or added to at various periods from the reign of Elizabeth to that of
Victoria: at one end, the oldest part, a gable with mullion windows;
at the other, the newest part, a flat-roofed wing, with modern sashes
opening to the ground, the intermediate part much hidden by a veranda
covered with creepers in full bloom. The lawn was a spacious
table-land facing the west, and backed by a green and gentle hill,
crowned with the ruins of an ancient priory. On one side of the lawn
stretched a flower-garden and pleasure-ground, originally planned by
Repton; on the opposite angles of the sward were placed two large
marquees,--one for dancing, the other for supper. Towards the south
the view was left open, and commanded the prospect of an old English
park, not of the stateliest character; not intersected with ancient
avenues, nor clothed with profitless fern as lairs for deer: but the
park of a careful agriculturist, uniting profit with show, the sward
duly drained and nourished, fit to fatten bullocks in an incredibly
short time, and somewhat spoilt to the eye by subdivisions of wire
fence. Mr. Travers was renowned for skilful husbandry, and the
general management of land to the best advantage. He had come into
the estate while still in childhood, and thus enjoyed the
accumulations of a long minority. He had entered the Guards at the
age of eighteen, and having more command of money than most of his
contemporaries, though they might be of higher rank and the sons of
richer men, he had been much courted and much plundered. At the age
of twenty-five he found himself one of the leaders of fashion,
renowned chiefly for reckless daring where-ever honour could be
plucked out of the nettle danger: a steeple-chaser, whose exploits
made a quiet man's hair stand on end; a rider across country, taking
leaps which a more cautious huntsman carefully avoided. Known at
Paris as well as in London, he had been admired by ladies whose smiles
had cost him duels, the marks of which still remained in glorious
scars on his person. No man ever seemed more likely to come to direst
grief before attaining the age of thirty, for at twenty-seven all the
accumulations of his minority were gone; and his estate, which, when
he came of age, was scarcely three thousand a year, but entirely at
his own disposal, was mortgaged up to its eyes.

His friends began to shake their heads and call him "poor fellow;"
but, with all his wild faults, Leopold Travers had been wholly pure
from the two vices out of which a man does not often redeem himself.
He had never drunk and he had never gambled. His nerves were not
broken, his brain was not besotted. There was plenty of health in him
yet, mind and body. At the critical period of his life he married for
love, and his choice was a most felicitous one. The lady had no
fortune; but though handsome and high-born, she had no taste for
extravagance, and no desire for other society than that of the man she
loved. So when he said, "Let us settle in the country and try our
best to live on a few hundreds, lay by, and keep the old place out of
the market," she consented with a joyful heart: and marvel it was to
all how this wild Leopold Travers did settle down; did take to
cultivating his home farm with his men from sunrise to sunset like a
common tenant-farmer; did contrive to pay the interest on the
mortgages, and keep his head above water. After some years of
pupilage in this school of thrift, during which his habits became
formed and his whole character braced, Leopold Travers suddenly found
himself again rich, through the wife whom he had so prudently married
without other dower than her love and her virtues. Her only brother,
Lord Eagleton, a Scotch peer, had been engaged in marriage to a young
lady, considered to be a rare prize in the lottery of wedlock. The
marriage was broken off under very disastrous circumstances; but the
young lord, good-looking and agreeable, was naturally expected to seek
speedy consolation in some other alliance. Nevertheless he did not do
so: he became a confirmed invalid, and died single, leaving to his
sister all in his power to save from the distant kinsman who succeeded
to his lands and title,--a goodly sum, which not only sufficed to pay
off the mortgages on Neesdale Park but bestowed on its owner a surplus
which the practical knowledge of country life that he had acquired
enabled him to devote with extraordinary profit to the general
improvement of his estate. He replaced tumble-down old farm buildings
with new constructions on the most approved principles; bought or
pensioned off certain slovenly incompetent tenants; threw sundry petty
holdings into large farms suited to the buildings he constructed;
purchased here and there small bits of land, commodious to the farms
they adjoined, and completing the integrity of his ring-fence; stubbed
up profitless woods which diminished the value of neighbouring arables
by obstructing sun and air and harbouring legions of rabbits; and
then, seeking tenants of enterprise and capital, more than doubled his
original yearly rental, and perhaps more than tripled the market value
of his property. Simultaneously with this acquisition of fortune, he
emerged from the inhospitable and unsocial obscurity which his
previous poverty had compelled, took an active part in county
business, proved himself an excellent speaker at public meetings,
subscribed liberally to the hunt, and occasionally joined in it,--a
less bold but a wiser rider than of yore. In short, as Themistocles
boasted that he could make a small state great, so Leopold Travers
might boast with equal truth, that, by his energies, his judgment, and
the weight of his personal character, he had made the owner of a
property which had been at his accession to it of third-rate rank in
the county a personage so considerable that no knight of the shire
against whom he declared could have been elected, and if he had
determined to stand himself he would have been chosen free of expense.

But he said, on being solicited to become a candidate, "When a man
once gives himself up to the care and improvement of a landed estate,
he has no time and no heart for anything else. An estate is an income
or a kingdom, according as the owner chooses to take it. I take it as
a kingdom, and I cannot be _roi faineant_, with a steward for _maire
du palais_. A king does not go into the House of Commons."

Three years after this rise in the social ladder, Mrs. Travers was
seized with congestion of the lungs followed by pleurisy, and died
after less than a week's illness. Leopold never wholly recovered her
loss. Though still young and always handsome, the idea of another
wife, the love of another woman, were notions which he dismissed from
his, mind with a quiet scorn. He was too masculine a creature to
parade grief. For some weeks, indeed, he shut himself up in his own
room, so rigidly secluded that he would not see even his daughter.
But one morning he appeared in his fields as usual, and from that day
resumed his old habits, and gradually renewed that cordial interchange
of hospitalities which had popularly distinguished him since his
accession to wealth. Still people felt that the man was changed; he
was more taciturn, more grave: if always just in his dealings, he took
the harder side of justice, where in his wife's time he had taken the
gentler. Perhaps, to a man of strong will, the habitual intercourse
with an amiable woman is essential for those occasions in which Will
best proves the fineness of its temper by the facility with which it
can be bent.

It may be said that Leopold Travers might have found such intercourse
in the intimate companionship of his own daughter. But she was a mere
child when his wife died, and she grew up to womanhood too insensibly
for him to note the change. Besides, where a man has found a wife his
all-in-all, a daughter can never supply her place. The very reverence
due to children precludes unrestrained confidence; and there is not
that sense of permanent fellowship in a daughter which a man has in a
wife,--any day a stranger may appear and carry her off from him. At
all events Leopold did not own in Cecilia the softening influence to
which he had yielded in her mother. He was fond of her, proud of her,
indulgent to her; but the indulgence had its set limits. Whatever she
asked solely for herself he granted; whatever she wished for matters
under feminine control--the domestic household, the parish school, the
alms-receiving poor--obtained his gentlest consideration. But when
she had been solicited by some offending out-of-door dependant or some
petty defaulting tenant to use her good offices in favour of the
culprit, Mr. Travers checked her interference by a firm "No," though
uttered in a mild accent, and accompanied with a masculine aphorism to
the effect that "there would be no such things as strict justice and
disciplined order in the world if a man yielded to a woman's pleadings
in any matter of business between man and man." From this it will be
seen that Mr. Lethbridge had overrated the value of Cecilia's alliance
in the negotiation respecting Mrs. Bawtrey's premium and shop.



CHAPTER III.

IF, having just perused what has thus been written on the biographical
antecedents and mental characteristics of Leopold Travers, you, my
dear reader, were to be personally presented to that gentleman as he
now stands, the central figure of the group gathered round him, on his
terrace, you would probably be surprised,--nay, I have no doubt you
would say to yourself, "Not at all the sort of man I expected." In
that slender form, somewhat below the middle height; in that fair
countenance which still, at the age of forty-eight, retains a delicacy
of feature and of colouring which is of almost womanlike beauty, and,
from the quiet placidity of its expression, conveys at first glance
the notion of almost womanlike mildness,--it would be difficult to
recognize a man who in youth had been renowned for reckless daring, in
maturer years more honourably distinguished for steadfast prudence and
determined purpose, and who, alike in faults or in merits, was as
emphatically masculine as a biped in trousers can possibly be.

Mr. Travers is listening to a young man of about two and twenty, the
eldest son of the richest nobleman of the county, and who intends to
start for the representation of the shire at the next general
election, which is close at hand. The Hon. George Belvoir is tall,
inclined to be stout, and will look well on the hustings. He has had
those pains taken with his education which an English peer generally
does take with the son intended to succeed to the representation of an
honourable name and the responsibilities of high station. If eldest
sons do not often make as great a figure in the world as their younger
brothers, it is not because their minds are less cultivated, but
because they have less motive power for action. George Belvoir was
well read, especially in that sort of reading which befits a future
senator,--history, statistics, political economy, so far as that
dismal science is compatible with the agricultural interest. He was
also well-principled, had a strong sense of discipline and duty, was
prepared in politics firmly to uphold as right whatever was proposed
by his own party, and to reject as wrong whatever was proposed by the
other. At present he was rather loud and noisy in the assertion of
his opinions,--young men fresh from the University generally are. It
was the secret wish of Mr. Travers that George Belvoir should become
his son-in-law; less because of his rank and wealth (though such
advantages were not of a nature to be despised by a practical man like
Leopold Travers) than on account of those qualities in his personal
character which were likely to render him an excellent husband.

Seated on wire benches, just without the veranda, but shaded by its
fragrant festoons, were Mrs. Campion and three ladies, the wives of
neighbouring squires. Cecilia stood a little apart from them, bending
over a long-backed Skye terrier, whom she was teaching to stand on his
hind legs.

But see, the company are arriving! How suddenly that green space, ten
minutes ago so solitary, has become animated and populous!

Indeed the park now presented a very lively appearance: vans, carts,
and farmers' chaises were seen in crowded procession along the winding
road; foot-passengers were swarming towards the house in all
directions. The herds and flocks in the various enclosures stopped
grazing to stare at the unwonted invaders of their pasture: yet the
orderly nature of their host imparted a respect for order to his ruder
visitors; not even a turbulent boy attempted to scale the fences, or
creep through their wires; all threaded the narrow turnstiles which
gave egress from one subdivision of the sward to another.

Mr. Travers turned to George Belvoir: "I see old farmer Steen's yellow
gig. Mind how you talk to him, George. He is full of whims and
crotchets, and if you once brush his feathers the wrong way he will be
as vindictive as a parrot. But he is the man who must second you at
the nomination. No other tenant-farmer carries the same weight with
his class."

"I suppose," said George, "that if Mr. Steen is the best man to second
me at the hustings, he is a good speaker?"

"A good speaker? in one sense he is. He never says a word too much.
The last time he seconded the nomination of the man you are to
succeed, this was his speech: 'Brother Electors, for twenty years I
have been one of the judges at our county cattle-show. I know one
animal from another. Looking at the specimens before us to-day none
of them are as good of their kind as I've seen elsewhere. But if you
choose Sir John Hogg you'll not get the wrong sow by the ear!'"

"At least," said George, after a laugh at this sample of eloquence
unadorned, "Mr. Steen does not err on the side of flattery in his
commendations of a candidate. But what makes him such an authority
with the farmers? Is he a first-rate agriculturist?"

"In thrift, yes!--in spirit, no! He says that all expensive
experiments should be left to gentlemen farmers. He is an authority
with other tenants: firstly, because he is a very keen censor of their
landlords; secondly, because he holds himself thoroughly independent
of his own; thirdly, because he is supposed to have studied the
political bearings of questions that affect the landed interest, and
has more than once been summoned to give his opinion on such subjects
to Committees of both Houses of Parliament. Here he comes. Observe,
when I leave you to talk to him: firstly, that you confess utter
ignorance of practical farming; nothing enrages him like the
presumption of a gentleman farmer like myself: secondly, that you ask
his opinion on the publication of Agricultural Statistics, just
modestly intimating that you, as at present advised, think that
inquisitorial researches into a man's business involve principles
opposed to the British Constitution. And on all that he may say as to
the shortcomings of landlords in general, and of your father in
particular, make no reply, but listen with an air of melancholy
conviction. How do you do, Mr. Steen, and how's the mistress? Why
have you not brought her with you?"

"My good woman is in the straw again, Squire. Who is that youngster?"

"Hist! let me introduce Mr. Belvoir."

Mr. Belvoir offers his hand.

"No, sir!" vociferates Steen, putting both his own hands behind him.
"No offence, young gentleman. But I don't give my hand at first sight
to a man who wants to shake a vote out of it. Not that I know
anything against you. But, if you be a farmer's friend rabbits are
not, and my lord your father is a great one for rabbits."

"Indeed you are mistaken there!" cries George, with vehement
earnestness. Mr. Travers gave him a nudge, as much as to say, "Hold
your tongue." George understood the hint, and is carried off meekly
by Mr. Steen down the solitude of the plantations.

The guests now arrived fast and thick. They consisted chiefly not
only of Mr. Travers's tenants, but of farmers and their families
within the range of eight or ten miles from the Park, with a few of
the neighbouring gentry and clergy.

It was not a supper intended to include the labouring class; for Mr.
Travers had an especial dislike to the custom of exhibiting peasants
at feeding-time, as if they were so many tamed animals of an inferior
species. When he entertained work-people, he made them comfortable in
their own way; and peasants feel more comfortable when not invited to
be stared out of countenance.

"Well, Lethbridge," said Mr. Travers, "where is the young gladiator
you promised to bring?"

"I did bring him, and he was by my side not a minute ago. He has
suddenly given me the slip: 'abiit, evasit, erupit.' I was looking
round for him in vain when you accosted me."

"I hope he has not seen some guest of mine whom he wants to fight."

"I hope not," answered the Parson, doubtfully. "He's a strange
fellow. But I think you will be pleased with him; that is, if he can
be found. Oh, Mr. Saunderson, how do you do? Have you seen your
visitor?"

"No, sir, I have just come. My mistress, Squire, and my three girls;
and this is my son."

"A hearty welcome to all," said the graceful Squire; (turning to
Saunderson junior), "I suppose you are fond of dancing. Get yourself
a partner. We may as well open the ball."

"Thank you, sir, but I never dance," said Saunderson junior, with an
air of austere superiority to an amusement which the March of
Intellect had left behind.

"Then you'll have less to regret when you are grown old. But the band
is striking up; we must adjourn to the marquee. George" (Mr. Belvoir,
escaped from Mr. Steen, had just made his appearance), "will you give
your arm to Cecilia, to whom I think you are engaged for the first
quadrille?"

"I hope," said George to Cecilia, as they walked towards the marquee,
"that Mr. Steen is not an average specimen of the electors I shall
have to canvass. Whether he has been brought up to honour his own
father and mother I can't pretend to say, but he seems bent upon
teaching me not to honour mine. Having taken away my father's moral
character upon the unfounded allegation that he loved rabbits better
than mankind, he then assailed my innocent mother on the score of
religion, and inquired when she was going over to the Church of Rome,
basing that inquiry on the assertion that she had taken away her
custom from a Protestant grocer and conferred it on a Papist."

"Those are favourable signs, Mr. Belvoir. Mr. Steen always prefaces a
kindness by a great deal of incivility. I asked him once to lend me a
pony, my own being suddenly taken lame, and he seized that opportunity
to tell me that my father was an impostor in pretending to be a judge
of cattle; that he was a tyrant, screwing his tenants in order to
indulge extravagant habits of hospitality; and implied that it would
be a great mercy if we did not live to apply to him, not for a pony,
but for parochial relief. I went away indignant. But he sent me the
pony. I am sure he will give you his vote."

"Meanwhile," said George, with a timid attempt at gallantry, as they
now commenced the quadrille, "I take encouragement from the belief
that I have the good wishes of Miss Travers. If ladies had votes, as
Mr. Mill recommends, why, then--"

"Why, then, I should vote as Papa does," said Miss Travers, simply.
"And if women had votes, I suspect there would be very little peace in
any household where they did not vote as the man at the head of it
wished them."

"But I believe, after all," said the aspirant to Parliament,
seriously, "that the advocates for female suffrage would limit it to
women independent of masculine control, widows and spinsters voting in
right of their own independent tenements."

"In that case," said Cecilia, "I suppose they would still generally go
by the opinion of some man they relied on, or make a very silly choice
if they did not."

"You underrate the good sense of your sex."

"I hope not. Do you underrate the good sense of yours, if, in far
more than half the things appertaining to daily life, the wisest men
say, 'Better leave _them_ to the _women_'? But you're forgetting the
figure, _cavalier seul_."

"By the way," said George, in another interval of the dance, "do you
know a Mr. Chillingly, the son of Sir Peter, of Exmundham, in
Westshire?"

"No; why do you ask?"

"Because I thought I caught a glimpse of his face: it was just as Mr.
Steen was bearing me away down that plantation. From what you say, I
must suppose I was mistaken."

"Chillingly! But surely some persons were talking yesterday at dinner
about a young gentleman of that name as being likely to stand for
Westshire at the next election, but who had made a very unpopular and
eccentric speech on the occasion of his coming of age."

"The same man: I was at college with him,--a very singular character.
He was thought clever; won a prize or two; took a good degree: but it
was generally said that he would have deserved a much higher one if
some of his papers had not contained covert jests either on the
subject or the examiners. It is a dangerous thing to set up as a
humourist in practical life,--especially public life. They say Mr.
Pitt had naturally a great deal of wit and humour, but he wisely
suppressed any evidence of those qualities in his Parliamentary
speeches. Just like Chillingly, to turn into ridicule the important
event of festivities in honour of his coming of age,--an occasion that
can never occur again in the whole course of his life."

"It was bad taste," said Cecilia, "if intentional. But perhaps he was
misunderstood, or taken by surprise."

"Misunderstood,--possibly; but taken by surprise,--no. The coolest
fellow I ever met. Not that I have met him very often. Latterly,
indeed, at Cambridge he lived much alone. It was said that he read
hard. I doubt that; for my rooms were just over his, and I know that
he was much more frequently out of doors than in. He rambled a good
deal about the country on foot. I have seen him in by-lanes a dozen
miles distant from the town when I have been riding back from the
bunt. He was fond of the water, and pulled a mighty strong oar, but
declined to belong to our University crew; yet if ever there was a
fight between undergraduates and bargemen, he was sure to be in the
midst of it. Yes, a very great oddity indeed, full of contradictions,
for a milder, quieter fellow in general intercourse you could not see;
and as for the jests of which he was accused in his examination
papers, his very face should have acquitted him of the charge before
any impartial jury of his countrymen."

"You sketch quite an interesting picture of him," said Cecilia. "I
wish we did know him: he would be worth seeing."

"And, once seen, you would not easily forget him,--a dark, handsome
face, with large melancholy eyes, and with one of those spare slender
figures which enable a man to disguise his strength, as a fraudulent
billiard-player disguises his play."

The dance had ceased during this conversation, and the speakers were
now walking slowly to and fro the lawn amid the general crowd.

"How well your father plays the part of host to these rural folks!"
said George, with a secret envy. "Do observe how quietly he puts that
shy young farmer at his ease, and now how kindly he deposits that lame
old lady on the bench, and places the stool under her feet. What a
canvasser he would be! and how young he still looks, and how monstrous
handsome!"

This last compliment was uttered as Travers, having made the old lady
comfortable, had joined the three Miss Saundersons, dividing his
pleasant smile equally between them; and seemingly unconscious of the
admiring glances which many another rural beauty directed towards him
as he passed along. About the man there was a certain indescribable
elegance, a natural suavity free from all that affectation, whether of
forced heartiness or condescending civility, which too often
characterizes the well-meant efforts of provincial magnates to
accommodate themselves to persons of inferior station and breeding.
It is a great advantage to a man to have passed his early youth in
that most equal and most polished of all democracies,--the best
society of large capitals. And to such acquired advantage Leopold
Travers added the inborn qualities that please.

Later in the evening Travers, again accosting Mr. Lethbridge, said, "I
have been talking much to the Saundersons about that young man who did
us the inestimable service of punishing your ferocious parishioner,
Tom Bowles; and all I hear so confirms the interest your own account
inspired me with that I should really like much to make his
acquaintance. Has not he turned up yet?"

"No; I fear he must have gone. But in that case I hope you will take
his generous desire to serve my poor basket-maker into benevolent
consideration."

"Do not press me; I feel so reluctant to refuse any request of yours.
But I have my own theory as to the management of an estate, and my
system does not allow of favour. I should wish to explain that to the
young stranger himself; for I hold courage in such honour that I do
not like a brave man to leave these parts with an impression that
Leopold Travers is an ungracious churl. However, he may not have
gone. I will go and look for him myself. Just tell Cecilia that she
has danced enough with the gentry, and that I have told Farmer Turby's
son, a fine young fellow and a capital rider across country, that I
expect him to show my daughter that he can dance as well as he rides."



CHAPTER IV.

QUITTING Mr. Lethbridge, Travers turned with quick step towards the
more solitary part of the grounds. He did not find the object of his
search in the walks of the plantation; and, on taking the circuit of
his demesne, wound his way back towards the lawn through a sequestered
rocky hollow in the rear of the marquee, which had been devoted to a
fernery. Here he came to a sudden pause; for, seated a few yards
before him on a gray crag, and the moonlight full on his face, he saw
a solitary man, looking upwards with a still and mournful gaze,
evidently absorbed in abstract contemplation.

Recalling the description of the stranger which he had heard from Mr.
Lethbridge and the Saundersons, Mr. Travers felt sure that he had come
on him at last. He approached gently; and, being much concealed by
the tall ferns, Kenelm (for that itinerant it was) did not see him
advance, until he felt a hand on his shoulder, and, turning round,
beheld a winning smile and heard a pleasant voice.

"I think I am not mistaken," said Leopold Travers, "in assuming you to
be the gentleman whom Mr. Lethbridge promised to introduce to me, and
who is staying with my tenant, Mr. Saunderson?"

Kenelm rose and bowed. Travers saw at once that it was the bow of a
man in his own world, and not in keeping with the Sunday costume of a
petty farmer. "Nay," said he, "let us talk seated;" and placing
himself on the crag, he made room for Kenelm beside him.

"In the first place," resumed Travers, "I must thank you for having
done a public service in putting down the brute force which has long
tyrannized over the neighbourhood. Often in my young days I have felt
the disadvantage of height and sinews, whenever it would have been a
great convenience to terminate dispute or chastise insolence by a
resort to man's primitive weapons; but I never more lamented my
physical inferiority than on certain occasions when I would have given
my ears to be able to thrash Tom Bowles myself. It has been as great
a disgrace to my estate that that bully should so long have infested
it as it is to the King of Italy not to be able with all his armies to
put down a brigand in Calabria."

"Pardon me, Mr. Travers, but I am one of those rare persons who do not
like to hear ill of their friends. Mr. Thomas Bowles is a particular
friend of mine."

"Eh!" cried Travers, aghast. "'Friend!' you are joking.

"You would not accuse me of joking if you knew me better. But surely
you have felt that there are few friends one likes more cordially, and
ought to respect more heedfully, than the enemy with whom one has just
made it up."

"You say well, and I accept the rebuke," said Travers, more and more
surprised. "And I certainly have less right to abuse Mr. Bowles than
you have, since I had not the courage to fight him. To turn to
another subject less provocative. Mr. Lethbridge has told me of your
amiable desire to serve two of his young parishioners, Will Somers and
Jessie Wiles, and of your generous offer to pay the money Mrs. Bawtrey
demands for the transfer of her lease. To that negotiation my consent
is necessary, and that consent I cannot give. Shall I tell you why?"

"Pray do. Your reasons may admit of argument."

"Every reason admits of argument," said Mr. Travers, amused at the
calm assurance of a youthful stranger in anticipating argument with a
skilful proprietor on the management of his own property. "I do not,
however, tell you my reasons for the sake of argument, but in
vindication of my seeming want of courtesy towards yourself. I have
had a very hard and a very difficult task to perform in bringing the
rental of my estate up to its proper value. In doing so, I have been
compelled to adopt one uniform system, equally applied to my largest
and my pettiest holdings. That system consists in securing the best
and safest tenants I can, at the rents computed by a valuer in whom I
have confidence. To this system, universally adopted on my estate,
though it incurred much unpopularity at first, I have at length
succeeded in reconciling the public opinion of my neighbourhood.
People began by saying I was hard; they now acknowledge I am just. If
I once give way to favour or sentiment, I unhinge my whole system.
Every day I am subjected to moving solicitations. Lord Twostars, a
keen politician, begs me to give a vacant farm to a tenant because he
is an excellent canvasser, and has always voted straight with the
party. Mrs. Fourstars, a most benevolent woman, entreats me not to
dismiss another tenant, because he is in distressed circumstances and
has a large family; very good reasons perhaps for my excusing him an
arrear, or allowing him a retiring pension, but the worst reasons in
the world for letting him continue to ruin himself and my land. Now,
Mrs. Bawtrey has a small holding on lease at the inadequate rent of L8
a year. She asks L45 for its transfer, but she can't transfer the
lease without my consent; and I can get L12 a year as a moderate
rental from a large choice of competent tenants. It will better
answer me to pay her the L45 myself, which I have no doubt the
incoming tenant would pay me back, at least in part; and if he did
not, the additional rent would be good interest for my expenditure.
Now, you happen to take a sentimental interest, as you pass through
the village, in the loves of a needy cripple whose utmost industry has
but served to save himself from parish relief, and a giddy girl
without a sixpence, and you ask me to accept these very equivocal
tenants instead of substantial ones, and at a rent one-third less than
the market value. Suppose that I yielded to your request, what
becomes of my reputation for practical, business-like justice? I
shall have made an inroad into the system by which my whole estate is
managed, and have invited all manner of solicitations on the part of
friends and neighbours, which I could no longer consistently refuse,
having shown how easily I can be persuaded into compliance by a
stranger whom I may never see again. And are you sure, after all,
that, if you did prevail on me, you would do the individual good you
aim at? It is, no doubt, very pleasant to think one has made a young
couple happy. But if that young couple fail in keeping the little
shop to which you would transplant them (and nothing more likely:
peasants seldom become good shopkeepers), and find themselves, with a
family of children, dependent solely, not on the arm of a strong
labourer, but the ten fingers of a sickly cripple, who makes clever
baskets, for which there is but slight and precarious demand in the
neighbourhood, may you not have insured the misery of the couple you
wished to render happy?"

"I withdraw all argument," said Kenelm, with an aspect so humiliated
and dejected, that it would have softened a Greenland bear, or a
Counsel for the Prosecution. "I am more and more convinced that of
all the shams in the world that of benevolence is the greatest. It
seems so easy to do good, and it is so difficult to do it.
Everywhere, in this hateful civilized life, one runs one's head
against a system. A system, Mr. Travers, is man's servile imitation of
the blind tyranny of what in our ignorance we call 'Natural Laws,' a
mechanical something through which the world is ruled by the cruelty
of General Principles, to the utter disregard of individual welfare.
By Natural Laws creatures prey on each other, and big fishes eat
little ones upon system. It is, nevertheless, a hard thing for the
little fish. Every nation, every town, every hamlet, every
occupation, has a system, by which, somehow or other, the pond swarms
with fishes, of which a great many inferiors contribute to increase
the size of a superior. It is an idle benevolence to keep one
solitary gudgeon out of the jaws of a pike. Here am I doing what I
thought the simplest thing in the world, asking a gentleman, evidently
as good-natured as myself, to allow an old woman to let her premises
to a deserving young couple, and paying what she asks for it out of my
own money. And I find that I am running against a system, and
invading all the laws by which a rental is increased and an estate
improved. Mr. Travers, you have no cause for regret in not having
beaten Tom Bowles. You have beaten his victor, and I now give up all
dream of further interference with the Natural Laws that govern the
village which I have visited in vain. I had meant to remove Tom
Bowles from that quiet community. I shall now leave him to return to
his former habits,--to marry Jessie Wiles, which he certainly will do,
and--"

"Hold!" cried Mr. Travers. "Do you mean to say that you can induce
Tom Bowles to leave the village?"

"I had induced him to do it, provided Jessie Wiles married the
basket-maker; but, as that is out of the question, I am bound to tell
him so, and he will stay."

"But if he left, what would become of his business? His mother could
not keep it on; his little place is a freehold; the only house in the
village that does not belong to me, or I should have ejected him long
ago. Would he sell the premises to me?"

"Not if he stays and marries Jessie Wiles. But if he goes with me to
Luscombe and settles in that town as a partner to his uncle, I suppose
he would be too glad to sell a house of which he can have no pleasant
recollections. But what then? You cannot violate your system for the
sake of a miserable forge."

"It would not violate my system if, instead of yielding to a
sentiment, I gained an advantage; and, to say truth, I should be very
glad to buy that forge and the fields that go with it."

"'Tis your affair now, not mine, Mr. Travers. I no longer presume to
interfere. I leave the neighbourhood to-morrow: see if you can
negotiate with Mr. Bowles. I have the honour to wish you a good
evening."

"Nay, young gentleman, I cannot allow you to quit me thus. You have
declined apparently to join the dancers, but you will at least join
the supper. Come!"

"Thank you sincerely, no. I came here merely on the business which
your system has settled."

"But I am not sure that it is settled." Here Mr. Travers wound his
arm within Kenelm's, and looking him full in the face, said, "I know
that I am speaking to a gentleman at least equal in rank to myself,
but as I enjoy the melancholy privilege of being the older man, do not
think I take an unwarrantable liberty in asking if you object to tell
me your name. I should like to introduce you to my daughter, who is
very partial to Jessie Wiles and to Will Somers. But I can't venture
to inflame her imagination by designating you as a prince in
disguise."

"Mr. Travers, you express yourself with exquisite delicacy. But I am
just starting in life, and I shrink from mortifying my father by
associating my name with a signal failure. Suppose I were an
anonymous contributor, say, to 'The Londoner,' and I had just brought
that highly intellectual journal into discredit by a feeble attempt at
a good-natured criticism or a generous sentiment, would that be the
fitting occasion to throw off the mask, and parade myself to a mocking
world as the imbecile violator of an established system? Should I
not, in a moment so untoward, more than ever desire to merge my
insignificant unit in the mysterious importance which the smallest
Singular obtains when he makes himself a Plural, and speaks not as
'I,' but as 'We'? _We_ are insensible to the charm of young ladies;
_We_ are not bribed by suppers; _We_, like the witches of 'Macbeth,'
have no name on earth; _We_ are the greatest wisdom of the greatest
number; _We_ are so upon system; _We_ salute you, Mr. Travers, and
depart unassailable."

Here Kenelm rose, doffed and replaced his hat in majestic salutation,
turned towards the entrance of the fernery, and found himself suddenly
face to face with George Belvoir, behind whom followed, with a throng
of guests, the fair form of Cecilia. George Belvoir caught Kenelm by
the hand, and exclaimed, "Chillingly! I thought I could not be
mistaken."

"Chillingly!" echoed Leopold Travers from behind. "Are you the son of
my old friend Sir Peter?"

Thus discovered and environed, Kenelm did not lose his wonted presence
of mind; he turned round to Leopold Travers, who was now close in his
rear, and whispered, "If my father was your friend, do not disgrace
his son. Do not say I am a failure. Deviate from your system, and
let Will Somers succeed Mrs. Bawtrey." Then reverting his face to Mr.
Belvoir, he said tranquilly, "Yes; we have met before."

"Cecilia," said Travers, now interposing, "I am happy to introduce to
you as Mr. Chillingly, not only the son of an old friend of mine, not
only the knight-errant of whose gallant conduct on behalf of your
protegee Jessie Wiles we have heard so much, but the eloquent arguer
who has conquered my better judgment in a matter on which I thought
myself infallible. Tell Mr. Lethbridge that I accept Will Somers as a
tenant for Mrs. Bawtrey's premises."

Kenelm grasped the Squire's hand cordially. "May it be in my power to
do a kind thing to you, in spite of any system to the contrary!"

"Mr. Chillingly, give your arm to my daughter. You will not now
object to join the dancers?"



CHAPTER V.

CECILIA stole a shy glance at Kenelm as the two emerged from the
fernery into the open space of the lawn. His countenance pleased her.
She thought she discovered much latent gentleness under the cold and
mournful gravity of its expression; and, attributing the silence he
maintained to some painful sense of an awkward position in the abrupt
betrayal of his incognito, sought with womanly tact to dispel his
supposed embarrassment.

"You have chosen a delightful mode of seeing the country this lovely
summer weather, Mr. Chillingly. I believe such pedestrian exercises
are very common with university students during the long vacation."

"Very common, though they generally wander in packs like wild dogs or
Australian dingoes. It is only a tame dog that one finds on the road
travelling by himself; and then, unless he behaves very quietly, it is
ten to one that he is stoned as a mad dog."

"But I am afraid, from what I hear, that you have not been travelling
very quietly."

"You are quite right, Miss Travers, and I am a sad dog if not a mad
one. But pardon me: we are nearing the marquee; the band is striking
up, and, alas! I am not a dancing dog."

He released Cecilia's arm, and bowed.

"Let us sit here a while, then," said she, motioning to a
garden-bench. "I have no engagement for the next dance, and, as I am
a little tired, I shall be glad of a reprieve."

Kenelm sighed, and, with the air of a martyr stretching himself on the
rack, took his place beside the fairest girl in the county.

"You were at college with Mr. Belvoir?"

"I was."

"He was thought clever there?"

"I have not a doubt of it."

"You know he is canvassing our county for the next election. My
father takes a warm interest in his success, and thinks he will be a
useful member of Parliament."

"Of that I am certain. For the first five years he will be called
pushing, noisy, and conceited, much sneered at by men of his own age,
and coughed down on great occasions; for the five following years he
will be considered a sensible man in committees, and a necessary
feature in debate; at the end of those years he will be an
under-secretary; in five years more he will be a Cabinet Minister, and
the representative of an important section of opinions; he will be an
irreproachable private character, and his wife will be seen wearing
the family diamonds at all the great parties. She will take an
interest in politics and theology; and if she die before him, her
husband will show his sense of wedded happiness by choosing another
lady, equally fitted to wear the family diamonds and to maintain the
family consequences."

In spite of her laughter, Cecilia felt a certain awe at the solemnity
of voice and manner with which Kenelm delivered these oracular
sentences, and the whole prediction seemed strangely in unison with
her own impressions of the character whose fate was thus shadowed out.

"Are you a fortune-teller, Mr. Chillingly?" she asked, falteringly,
and after a pause.

"As good a one as any whose hand you could cross with a shilling."

"Will you tell me my fortune?"

"No; I never tell the fortunes of ladies, because your sex is
credulous, and a lady might believe what I tell her. And when we
believe such and such is to be our fate, we are too apt to work out
our life into the verification of the belief. If Lady Macbeth had
disbelieved in the witches, she would never have persuaded her lord to
murder Duncan."

"But can you not predict me a more cheerful fortune than that tragical
illustration of yours seems to threaten?"

"The future is never cheerful to those who look on the dark side of
the question. Mr. Gray is too good a poet for people to read
nowadays, otherwise I should refer you to his lines in the 'Ode to
Eton College,'--


   "'See how all around us wait
    The ministers of human fate,
      And black Misfortune's baleful train.'


"Meanwhile it is something to enjoy the present. We are young; we are
listening to music; there is no cloud over the summer stars; our
conscience is clear; our hearts untroubled: why look forward in search
of happiness? shall we ever be happier than we are at this moment?"

Here Mr. Travers came up. "We are going to supper in a few minutes,"
said he; "and before we lose sight of each other, Mr. Chillingly, I
wish to impress on you the moral fact that one good turn deserves
another. I have yielded to your wish, and now you must yield to mine.
Come and stay a few days with me, and see your benevolent intentions
carried out."

Kenelm paused. Now that he was discovered, why should he not pass a
few days among his equals? Realities or shams might be studied with
squires no less than with farmers; besides, he had taken a liking to
Travers. That graceful _ci-devant_ Wildair, with the slight form and
the delicate face, was unlike rural squires in general. Kenelm
paused, and then said frankly,--

"I accept your invitation. Would the middle of next week suit you?"

"The sooner the better. Why not to-morrow?"

"To-morrow I am pre-engaged to an excursion with Mr. Bowles. That may
occupy two or three days, and meanwhile I must write home for other
garments than those in which I am a sham."

"Come any day you like."

"Agreed."

"Agreed; and, hark! the supper-bell."

"Supper," said Kenelm, offering his arm to Miss Travers,--"supper is a
word truly interesting, truly poetical. It associates itself with the
entertainments of the ancients, with the Augustan age, with Horace and
Maecenas; with the only elegant but too fleeting period of the modern
world; with the nobles and wits of Paris, when Paris had wits and
nobles; with Moliere and the warm-hearted Duke who is said to have
been the original of Moliere's Misanthrope; with Madame de Sevigne and
the Racine whom that inimitable letter-writer denied to be a poet;
with Swift and Bolingbroke; with Johnson, Goldsmith, and Garrick.
Epochs are signalized by their eatings. I honour him who revives the
Golden Age of suppers." So saying, his face brightened.



CHAPTER VI.


KENELM CHILLINGLY, ESQ., TO SIR PETER CHILLINGLY, BART., ETC.

MY DEAR FATHER,--I am alive and unmarried. Providence has watched
over me in these respects; but I have had narrow escapes. Hitherto I
have not acquired much worldly wisdom in my travels. It is true that
I have been paid two shillings as a day labourer, and, in fact, have
fairly earned at least six shillings more; but against that additional
claim I generously set off, as an equivalent, my board and lodging.
On the other hand, I have spent forty-five pounds out of the fifty
which I devoted to the purchase of experience. But I hope you will be
a gainer by that investment. Send an order to Mr. William Somers,
basket-maker, Graveleigh, -----shire, for the hampers and game-baskets
you require, and I undertake to say that you will save twenty per cent
on that article (all expenses of carriage deducted) and do a good
action into the bargain. You know, from long habit, what a good
action is worth better than I do. I dare say you will be more pleased
to learn than I am to record the fact that I have been again decoyed
into the society of ladies and gentlemen, and have accepted an
invitation to pass a few days at Neesdale Park with Mr.
Travers,--christened Leopold, who calls you "his old friend,"--a term
which I take for granted belongs to that class of poetic exaggeration
in which the "dears" and "darlings" of conjugal intercourse may be
categorized. Having for that visit no suitable garments in my
knapsack, kindly tell Jenkes to forward me a portmanteau full of those
which I habitually wore as Kenelm Chillingly, directed to me at
"Neesdale Park, near Beaverston." Let me find it there on Wednesday.

I leave this place to-morrow morning in company with a friend of the
name of Bowles: no relation to the reverend gentleman of that name who
held the doctrine that a poet should bore us to death with
fiddle-faddle minutia of natural objects in preference to that study
of the insignificant creature Man, in his relations to his species, to
which Mr. Pope limited the range of his inferior muse; and who,
practising as he preached, wrote some very nice verses, to which the
Lake school and its successors are largely indebted. My Mr. Bowles
has exercised his faculty upon Man, and has a powerful inborn gift in
that line which only requires cultivation to render him a match for
any one. His more masculine nature is at present much obscured by
that passing cloud which, in conventional language, is called "a
hopeless attachment." But I trust, in the course of our excursion,
which is to be taken on foot, that this vapour may consolidate by
motion, as some old-fashioned astronomers held that the nebula does
consolidate into a matter-of-fact world. Is it Rochefoucauld who says
that a man is never more likely to form a hopeful attachment for one
than when his heart is softened by a hopeless attachment to another?
May it be long, my dear father, before you condole with me on the
first or congratulate me on the second.

   Your affectionate son,

     KENELM.

Direct to me at Mr. Travers's. Kindest love to my mother.


The answer to this letter is here subjoined as the most convenient
place for its insertion, though of course it was not received till
some days after the date of my next chapter.


SIR PETER CHILLINGLY, BART., TO KENELM CHILLINGLY, ESQ.

MY DEAR Boy,--With this I despatch the portmanteau you require to the
address that you give. I remember well Leopold Travers when he was in
the Guards,--a very handsome and a very wild young fellow. But he had
much more sense than people gave him credit for, and frequented
intellectual society; at least I met him very often at my friend
Campion's, whose house was then the favourite rendezvous of
distinguished persons. He had very winning manners, and one could not
help taking an interest in him. I was very glad when I heard he had
married and reformed. Here I beg to observe that a man who contracts
a taste for low company may indeed often marry, but he seldom reforms
when he does so. And, on the whole, I should be much pleased to hear
that the experience which has cost you forty-five pounds had convinced
you that you might be better employed than earning two, or even six
shillings as a day-labourer.

I have not given your love to your mother, as you requested. In fact,
you have placed me in a very false position towards that other author
of your eccentric being. I could only guard you from the inquisition
of the police and the notoriety of descriptive hand-bills by allowing
my lady to suppose that you had gone abroad with the Duke of
Clairville and his family. It is easy to tell a fib, but it is very
difficult to untell it. However, as soon as you have made up your
mind to resume your normal position among ladies and gentlemen, I
should be greatly obliged if you would apprise me. I don't wish to
keep a fib on my conscience a day longer than may be necessary to
prevent the necessity of telling another.

From what you say of Mr. Bowles's study of Man, and his inborn talent
for that scientific investigation, I suppose that he is a professed
Metaphysician, and I should be glad of his candid opinion upon the
Primary Basis of Morals, a subject upon which I have for three years
meditated the consideration of a critical paper. But having lately
read a controversy thereon between two eminent philosophers, in which
each accuses the other of not understanding him, I have resolved for
the present to leave the Basis in its unsettled condition.

You rather alarm me when you say you have had a narrow escape from
marriage. Should you, in order to increase the experience you set out
to acquire, decide on trying the effect of a Mrs. Chillingly upon your
nervous system, it would be well to let me know a little beforehand,
so that I might prepare your mother's mind for that event. Such
household trifles are within her special province; and she would be
much put out if a Mrs. Chillingly dropped on her unawares.

This subject, however, is too serious to admit of a jest even between
two persons who understand, so well as you and I do, the secret cipher
by which each other's outward style of jest is to be gravely
interpreted into the irony which says one thing and means another. My
dear boy, you are very young; you are wandering about in a very
strange manner, and may, no doubt, meet with many a pretty face by the
way, with which you may fancy that you fall in love. You cannot think
me a barbarous, tyrant if I ask you to promise me, on your honour,
that you will not propose to any young lady before you come first to
me and submit the case to my examination and approval. You know me
too well to suppose that I should unreasonably withhold my consent if
convinced that your happiness was at stake. But while what a young
man may fancy to be love is often a trivial incident in his life,
marriage is the greatest event in it; if on one side it may involve
his happiness, on the other side it may insure his misery. Dearest,
best, and oddest of sons, give me the promise I ask, and you will free
my breast from a terribly anxious thought which now sits on it like a
nightmare.

Your recommendation of a basket-maker comes opportunely. All such
matters go through the bailiff's hands, and it was but the other day
that Green was complaining of the high prices of the man he employed
for hampers and game-baskets. Green shall write to your protege.

Keep me informed of your proceedings as much as your anomalous
character will permit; so that nothing may diminish my confidence that
the man who had the honour to be christened Kenelm will not disgrace
his name, but acquire the distinction denied to a Peter.

Your affectionate father.



CHAPTER VII.

VILLAGERS lie abed on Sundays later than on workdays, and no shutter
was unclosed in a window of the rural street through which Kenelm
Chillingly and Tom Bowles went, side by side, in the still soft air of
the Sabbath morn. Side by side they went on, crossing the pastoral
glebe-lands, where the kine still drowsily reclined under the bowery
shade of glinting chestnut leaves; and diving thence into a narrow
lane or by-road, winding deep between lofty banks all tangled with
convolvulus and wild-rose and honeysuckle.

They walked in silence, for Kenelm, after one or two vain attempts at
conversation, had the tact to discover that his companion was in no
mood for talk; and being himself one of those creatures whose minds
glide easily into the dreamy monologue of revery, he was not
displeased to muse on undisturbed, drinking quietly into his heart the
subdued joy of the summer morn, with the freshness of its sparkling
dews, the wayward carol of its earliest birds, the serene quietude of
its limpid breezy air. Only when they came to fresh turnings in the
road that led towards the town to which they were bound, Tom Bowles
stepped before his companion, indicating the way by a monosyllable or
a gesture. Thus they journeyed for hours, till the sun attained
power, and a little wayside inn near a hamlet invited Kenelm to the
thought of rest and food.

"Tom," said he then, rousing from his revery, "what do you say to
breakfast?"

Answered Tom sullenly, "I am not hungry; but as you like."

"Thank you, then we will stop here a while. I find it difficult to
believe that you are not hungry, for you are very strong, and there
are two things which generally accompany great physical strength: the
one is a keen appetite; the other is--though you may not suppose it,
and it is not commonly known--a melancholic temperament."

"Eh!--a what?"

"A tendency to melancholy. Of course you have heard of Hercules: you
know the saying 'as strong as Hercules'?"

"Yes, of course."

"Well, I was first led to the connection between strength, appetite,
and melancholy, by reading in an old author named Plutarch that
Hercules was among the most notable instances of melancholy
temperament which the author was enabled to quote. That must have
been the traditional notion of the Herculean constitution; and as for
appetite, the appetite of Hercules was a standard joke of the comic
writers. When I read that observation it set me thinking, being
myself melancholic and having an exceedingly good appetite. Sure
enough, when I began to collect evidence, I found that the strongest
men with whom I made acquaintance, including prize-fighters and Irish
draymen, were disposed to look upon life more on the shady than the
sunny side of the way; in short, they were melancholic. But the
kindness of Providence allowed them to enjoy their meals, as you and I
are about to do." In the utterance of this extraordinary crotchet
Kenelm had halted his steps; but now striding briskly forward he
entered the little inn, and after a glance at its larder, ordered the
whole contents to be brought out and placed within a honeysuckle
arbour which he spied in the angle of a bowling-green at the rear of
the house.

In addition to the ordinary condiments of loaf and butter and eggs and
milk and tea, the board soon groaned beneath the weight of pigeon-pie,
cold ribs of beef, and shoulder of mutton, remains of a feast which
the members of a monthly rustic club had held there the day before.
Tom ate little at first; but example is contagious, and gradually he
vied with his companion in the diminution of the solid viands before
him. Then he called for brandy.

"No," said Kenelm. "No, Tom; you have promised me friendship, and
that is not compatible with brandy. Brandy is the worst enemy a man
like you can have; and would make you quarrel even with me. If you
want a stimulus I allow you a pipe. I don't smoke myself, as a rule,
but there have been times in my life when I required soothing, and
then I have felt that a whiff of tobacco stills and softens one like
the kiss of a little child. Bring this gentleman a pipe."

Tom grunted, but took to the pipe kindly, and in a few minutes, during
which Kenelm left him in silence, a lowering furrow between his brows
smoothed itself away.

Gradually he felt the sweetening influences of the day and the place,
of the merry sunbeams at play amid the leaves of the arbour, of the
frank perfume of the honeysuckle, of the warble of the birds before
they sank into the taciturn repose of a summer noon.

It was with a reluctant sigh that he rose at last, when Kenelm said,
"We have yet far to go: we must push on."

The landlady, indeed, had already given them a hint that she and the
family wanted to go to church, and to shut up the house in their
absence. Kenelm drew out his purse, but Tom did the same with a
return of cloud on his brow, and Kenelm saw that he would be mortally
offended if suffered to be treated as an inferior; so each paid his
due share, and the two men resumed their wandering. This time it was
along a by-path amid fields, which was a shorter cut than the lane
they had previously followed, to the main road to Luscombe. They
walked slowly till they came to a rustic foot-bridge which spanned a
gloomy trout-stream, not noisy, but with a low, sweet murmur,
doubtless the same stream beside which, many miles away, Kenelm had
conversed with the minstrel. Just as they came to this bridge there
floated to their ears the distant sound of the hamlet church-bell.

"Now let us sit here a while and listen," said Kenelm, seating himself
on the baluster of the bridge. "I see that you brought away your pipe
from the inn, and provided yourself with tobacco: refill the pipe and
listen."

Tom half smiled and obeyed.

"O friend," said Kenelm, earnestly, and after a long pause of thought,
"do you not feel what a blessed thing it is in this mortal life to be
ever and anon reminded that you have a soul?"

Tom, startled, withdrew the pipe from his lips, and muttered,--

"Eh!"

Kenelm continued,--

"You and I, Tom, are not so good as we ought to be: of that there is
no doubt; and good people would say justly that we should now be
within yon church itself rather than listening to its bell. Granted,
my friend, granted; but still it is something to hear that bell, and
to feel by the train of thought which began in our innocent childhood,
when we said our prayers at the knees of a mother, that we were lifted
beyond this visible Nature, beyond these fields and woods and waters,
in which, fair though they be, you and I miss something; in which
neither you nor I are as happy as the kine in the fields, as the birds
on the bough, as the fishes in the water: lifted to a consciousness of
a sense vouchsafed to you and to me, not vouchsafed to the kine, to
the bird, and the fish,--a sense to comprehend that Nature has a God,
and Man has a life hereafter. The bell says that to you and to me.
Were that bell a thousand times more musical it could not say that to
beast, bird, and fish. Do you understand me, Tom?"

Tom remains silent for a minute, and then replies, "I never thought of
it before; but, as you put it, I understand."

"Nature never gives to a living thing capacities not practically meant
for its benefit and use. If Nature gives to us capacities to believe
that we have a Creator whom we never saw, of whom we have no direct
proof, who is kind and good and tender beyond all that we know of kind
and good and tender on earth, it is because the endowment of
capacities to conceive such a Being must be for our benefit and use:
it would not be for our benefit and use if it were a lie. Again, if
Nature has given to us a capacity to receive the notion that we live
again, no matter whether some of us refuse so to believe, and argue
against it,--why, the very capacity to receive the idea (for unless we
receive it we could not argue against it) proves that it is for our
benefit and use; and if there were no such life hereafter, we should
be governed and influenced, arrange our modes of life, and mature our
civilization, by obedience to a lie, which Nature falsified herself in
giving us the capacity to believe. You still understand me?"

"Yes; it bothers me a little, for you see I am not a parson's man; but
I do understand."

"Then, my friend, study to apply,--for it requires constant
study,--study to apply that which you understand to your own case.
You are something more than Tom Bowles, the smith and doctor of
horses; something more than the magnificent animal who rages for his
mate and fights every rival: the bull does that. You are a soul
endowed with the capacity to receive the idea of a Creator so divinely
wise and great and good that, though acting by the agency of general
laws, He can accommodate them to all individual cases, so that--taking
into account the life hereafter, which He grants to you the capacity
to believe--all that troubles you now will be proved to you wise and
great and good either in this life or the other. Lay that truth to
your heart, friend, now--before the bell stops ringing; recall it
every time you hear the church-bell ring again. And oh, Tom, you have
such a noble nature!--"

"I--I! don't jeer me,--don't."

"Such a noble nature; for you can love so passionately, you can war so
fiercely, and yet, when convinced that your love would be misery to
her you love, can resign it; and yet, when beaten in your war, can so
forgive your victor that you are walking in this solitude with him as
a friend, knowing that you have but to drop a foot behind him in order
to take his life in an unguarded moment; and rather than take his
life, you would defend it against an army. Do you think I am so dull
as not to see all that? and is not all that a noble nature?"

Tom Bowles covered his face with his hands, and his broad breast
heaved.

"Well, then, to that noble nature I now trust. I myself have done
little good in life. I may never do much; but let me think that I
have not crossed your life in vain for you and for those whom your
life can colour for good or for bad. As you are strong, be gentle; as
you can love one, be kind to all; as you have so much that is grand as
Man,--that is, the highest of God's works on earth,--let all your acts
attach your manhood to the idea of Him, to whom the voice of the bell
appeals. Ah! the bell is hushed; but not your heart, Tom,--that
speaks still."

Tom was weeping like a child.



CHAPTER VIII.

NOW when our two travellers resumed their journey, the relationship
between them had undergone a change; nay, you might have said that
their characters were also changed. For Tom found himself pouring out
his turbulent heart to Kenelm, confiding to this philosophical scoffer
at love all the passionate humanities of love,--its hope, its anguish,
its jealousy, its wrath,--the all that links the gentlest of emotions
to tragedy and terror. And Kenelm, listening tenderly, with softened
eyes, uttered not one cynic word,--nay, not one playful jest. He,
felt that the gravity of all he heard was too solemn for mockery, too
deep even for comfort. True love of this sort was a thing he had
never known, never wished to know, never thought he could know, but he
sympathized in it not the less. Strange, indeed, how much we do
sympathize, on the stage, for instance, or in a book, with passions
that have never agitated ourselves! Had Kenelm jested or reasoned or
preached, Tom would have shrunk at once into dreary silence; but
Kenelm said nothing, save now and then, as he rested his arm,
brother-like, on the strong man's shoulder, he murmured, "Poor
fellow!" So, then, when Tom had finished his confessions, he felt
wondrously relieved and comforted. He had cleansed his bosom of the
perilous stuff that weighed upon the heart.

Was this good result effected by Kenelm's artful diplomacy, or by that
insight into human passions vouchsafed unconsciously to himself, by
gleams or in flashes, to this strange man who surveyed the objects and
pursuits of his fellows with a yearning desire to share them,
murmuring to himself, "I cannot, I do not stand in this world; like a
ghost I glide beside it, and look on "?

Thus the two men continued their way slowly, amid soft pastures and
yellowing cornfields, out at length into the dusty thoroughfares of
the main road. That gained, their talk insensibly changed its tone:
it became more commonplace; and Kenelm permitted himself the license
of those crotchets by which he extracted a sort of quaint pleasantry
out of commonplace itself; so that from time to time Tom was startled
into the mirth of laughter. This big fellow had one very agreeable
gift, which is only granted, I think, to men of genuine character and
affectionate dispositions,--a spontaneous and sweet laugh, manly and
frank, but not boisterous, as you might have supposed it would be.
But that sort of laugh had not before come from his lips, since the
day on which his love for Jessie Wiles had made him at war with
himself and the world.

The sun was setting when from the brow of a hill they beheld the
spires of Luscombe, imbedded amid the level meadows that stretched
below, watered by the same stream that had wound along their more
rural pathway, but which now expanded into stately width, and needed,
to span it, a mighty bridge fit for the convenience of civilized
traffic. The town seemed near, but it was full two miles off by road.

"There is a short cut across the fields beyond that stile, which leads
straight to my uncle's house," said Tom; "and I dare say, sir, that
you will be glad to escape the dirty suburb by which the road passes
before we get into the town."

"A good thought, Tom. It is very odd that fine towns always are
approached by dirty suburbs; a covert symbolical satire, perhaps, on
the ways to success in fine towns. Avarice or ambition go through
very mean little streets before they gain the place which they jostle
the crowd to win,--in the Townhall or on 'Change. Happy the man who,
like you, Tom, finds that there is a shorter and a cleaner and a
pleasanter way to goal or to resting-place than that through the dirty
suburbs!"

They met but few passengers on their path through the fields,--a
respectable, staid, elderly couple, who had the air of a Dissenting
minister and his wife; a girl of fourteen leading a little boy seven
years younger by the hand; a pair of lovers, evidently lovers at least
to the eye of Tom Bowles; for, on regarding them as they passed
unheeding him, he winced, and his face changed. Even after they had
passed, Kenelm saw on the face that pain lingered there: the lips were
tightly compressed, and their corners gloomily drawn down.

Just at this moment a dog rushed towards them with a short quick
bark,--a Pomeranian dog with pointed nose and pricked ears. It hushed
its bark as it neared Kenelm, sniffed his trousers, and wagged its
tail.

"By the sacred Nine," cried Kenelm, "thou art the dog with the tin
tray! where is thy master?"

The dog seemed to understand the question, for it turned its head
significantly; and Kenelm saw, seated under a lime-tree, at a good
distance from the path, a man, with book in hand, evidently employed
in sketching.

"Come this way," he said to Tom: "I recognize an acquaintance. You
will like him." Tom desired no new acquaintance at that moment, but
he followed Kenelm submissively.



CHAPTER IX.

"YOU see we are fated to meet again," said Kenelm, stretching himself
at his ease beside the Wandering Minstrel, and motioning Tom to do the
same. "But you seem to add the accomplishment of drawing to that of
verse-making! You sketch from what you call Nature?"

"From what I call Nature! yes, sometimes."

"And do you not find in drawing, as in verse-making, the truth that I
have before sought to din into your reluctant ears; namely, that
Nature has no voice except that which man breathes into her out of his
mind? I would lay a wager that the sketch you are now taking is
rather an attempt to make her embody some thought of your own, than to
present her outlines as they appear to any other observer. Permit me
to judge for myself." And he bent over the sketch-book. It is often
difficult for one who is not himself an artist nor a connoisseur to
judge whether the pencilled jottings in an impromptu sketch are by the
hand of a professed master or a mere amateur. Kenelm was neither
artist nor connoisseur, but the mere pencil-work seemed to him much
what might be expected from any man with an accurate eye who had taken
a certain number of lessons from a good drawing-master. It was enough
for him, however, that it furnished an illustration of his own theory.
"I was right," he cried triumphantly. "From this height there is a
beautiful view, as it presents itself to me; a beautiful view of the
town, its meadows, its river, harmonized by the sunset; for sunset,
like gilding, unites conflicting colours, and softens them in uniting.
But I see nothing of that view in your sketch. What I do see is to me
mysterious."

"The view you suggest," said the minstrel, "is no doubt very fine, but
it is for a Turner or a Claude to treat it. My grasp is not wide
enough for such a landscape."

"I see indeed in your sketch but one figure, a child."

"Hist! there she stands. Hist! while I put in this last touch."

Kenelm strained his sight, and saw far off a solitary little girl, who
was tossing something in the air (he could not distinguish what), and
catching it as it fell. She seemed standing on the very verge of the
upland, backed by rose-clouds gathered round the setting sun; below
lay in confused outlines the great town. In the sketch those outlines
seemed infinitely more confused, being only indicated by a few bold
strokes; but the figure and face of the child were distinct and
lovely. There was an ineffable sentiment in her solitude; there was a
depth of quiet enjoyment in her mirthful play, and in her upturned
eyes.

"But at that distance," asked Kenelm, when the wanderer had finished
his last touch, and, after contemplating it, silently closed his book,
and turned round with a genial smile, "but at that distance, how can
you distinguish the girl's face? How can you discover that the dim
object she has just thrown up and recaught is a ball made of flowers?
Do you know the child?"

"I never saw her before this evening; but as I was seated here she was
straying around me alone, weaving into chains some wild-flowers which
she had gathered by the hedgerows yonder, next the high road; and as
she strung them she was chanting to herself some pretty nursery
rhymes. You can well understand that when I heard her thus chanting I
became interested, and as she came near me I spoke to her, and we soon
made friends. She told me she was an orphan, and brought up by a very
old man distantly related to her, who had been in some small trade and
now lived in a crowded lane in the heart of the town. He was very
kind to her, and being confined himself to the house by age or ailment
he sent her out to play in the fields on summer Sundays. She had no
companions of her own age. She said she did not like the other little
girls in the lane; and the only little girl she liked at school had a
grander station in life, and was not allowed to play with her, and so
she came out to play alone; and as long as the sun shines and the
flowers bloom, she says she never wants other society."

"Tom, do you hear that? As you will be residing in Luscombe, find out
this strange little girl, and be kind to her, Tom, for my sake."

Tom put his large hand upon Kenelm's, making no other answer; but he
looked hard at the minstrel, recognized the genial charm of his voice
and face, and slid along the grass nearer to him.

The minstrel continued: "While the child was talking to me I
mechanically took the flower-chains from her hands, and not thinking
what I was about, gathered them up into a ball. Suddenly she saw what
I had done, and instead of scolding me for spoiling her pretty chains,
which I richly deserved, was delighted to find I had twisted them into
a new plaything. She ran off with the ball, tossing it about till,
excited with her own joy, she got to the brow of the hill, and I began
my sketch."

"Is that charming face you have drawn like hers?"

"No; only in part. I was thinking of another face while I sketched,
but it is not like that either; in fact, it is one of those patchworks
which we call 'fancy heads,' and I meant it to be another version of a
thought that I had just put into rhyme when the child came across me."

"May we hear the rhyme?"

"I fear that if it did not bore yourself it would bore your friend."

"I am sure not. Tom, do you sing?"

"Well, I _have_ sung," said Tom, hanging his head sheepishly, "and I
should like to hear this gentleman."

"But I do not know these verses, just made, well enough to sing them;
it is enough if I can recall them well enough to recite." Here the
minstrel paused a minute or so as if for recollection, and then, in
the sweet clear tones and the rare purity of enunciation which
characterized his utterance, whether in recital or song, gave to the
following verses a touching and a varied expression which no one could
discover in merely reading them.


     THE FLOWER-GIRL BY THE CROSSING.

   "By the muddy crossing in the crowded streets
    Stands a little maid with her basket full of posies,
   Proffering all who pass her choice of knitted sweets,
    Tempting Age with heart's-ease, courting Youth with roses.

   "Age disdains the heart's-ease,
    Love rejects the roses;
   London life is busy,--
    Who can stop for posies?

   "One man is too grave, another is too gay;
    This man has his hothouse, that man not a penny:
   Flowerets too are common in the month of May,
    And the things most common least attract the many.

   "Ill, on London crossings,
    Fares the sale of posies;
   Age disdains the heart's-ease,
    Youth rejects the roses."


When the verse-maker had done, he did not pause for approbation, nor
look modestly down, as do most people who recite their own verses, but
unaffectedly thinking much more of his art than his audience, hurried
on somewhat disconsolately,--

"I see with great grief that I am better at sketching than rhyming.
Can you" (appealing to Kenelm) "even comprehend what I mean by the
verses?"

KENELM.--"Do you comprehend, Tom?"

TOM (in a whisper).--"No."

KENELM.--"I presume that by his flower-girl our friend means to
represent not only poetry, but a poetry like his own, which is not at
all the sort of poetry now in fashion. I, however, expand his
meaning, and by his flower-girl I understand any image of natural
truth or beauty for which, when we are living the artificial life of
crowded streets, we are too busy to give a penny."

"Take it as you please," said the minstrel, smiling and sighing at the
same time; "but I have not expressed in words that which I did mean
half so well as I have expressed it in my sketch-book."

"Ah! and how?" asked Kenelm.

"The image of my thought in the sketch, be it poetry or whatever you
prefer to call it, does not stand forlorn in the crowded streets: the
child stands on the brow of the green hill, with the city stretched in
confused fragments below, and, thoughtless of pennies and passers-by,
she is playing with the flowers she has gathered; but in play casting
them heavenward, and following them with heavenward eyes."

"Good!" muttered Kenelm, "good!" and then, after a long pause, he
added, in a still lower mutter, "Pardon me that remark of mine the
other day about a beefsteak. But own that I am right: what you call a
sketch from Nature is but a sketch of your own thought."



CHAPTER X.

THE child with the flower-ball had vanished from the brow of the hill;
sinking down amid the streets below, the rose-clouds had faded from
the horizon; and night was closing round, as the three men entered the
thick of the town. Tom pressed Kenelm to accompany him to his
uncle's, promising him a hearty welcome and bed and board, but Kenelm
declined. He entertained a strong persuasion that it would be better
for the desired effect on Tom's mind that he should be left alone with
his relations that night, but proposed that they should spend the next
day together, and agreed to call at the veterinary surgeon's in the
morning.

When Tom quitted them at his uncle's door, Kenelm said to the
minstrel, "I suppose you are going to some inn; may I accompany you?
We can sup together, and I should like to hear you talk upon poetry
and Nature."

"You flatter me much; but I have friends in the town, with whom I
lodge, and they are expecting me. Do you not observe that I have
changed my dress? I am not known here as the 'Wandering Minstrel.'"

Kenelm glanced at the man's attire, and for the first time observed
the change. It was still picturesque in its way, but it was such as
gentlemen of the highest rank frequently wear in the country,--the
knickerbocker costume,--very neat, very new, and complete, to the
square-toed shoes with their latchets and buckles.

"I fear," said Kenelm, gravely, "that your change of dress betokens
the neighbourhood of those pretty girls of whom you spoke in an
earlier meeting. According to the Darwinian doctrine of selection,
fine plumage goes far in deciding the preference of Jenny Wren and her
sex, only we are told that fine-feathered birds are very seldom
songsters as well. It is rather unfair to rivals when you unite both
attractions."

The minstrel laughed. "There is but one girl in my friend's
house,--his niece; she is very plain, and only thirteen. But to me
the society of women, whether ugly or pretty, is an absolute
necessity; and I have been trudging without it for so many days that I
can scarcely tell you how my thoughts seemed to shake off the dust of
travel when I found myself again in the presence of--"

"Petticoat interest," interrupted Kenelm. "Take care of yourself. My
poor friend with whom you found me is a grave warning against
petticoat interest, from which I hope to profit. He is passing
through a great sorrow; it might have been worse than sorrow. My
friend is going to stay in this town. If you are staying here too,
pray let him see something of you. It will do him a wondrous good if
you can beguile him from this real life into the gardens of poetland;
but do not sing or talk of love to him."

"I honour all lovers," said the minstrel, with real tenderness in his
tone, "and would willingly serve to cheer or comfort your friend, if I
could; but I am bound elsewhere, and must leave Luscombe, which I
visit on business--money business--the day after to-morrow."

"So, too, must I. At least give us both some hours of your time
to-morrow."

"Certainly; from twelve to sunset I shall be roving about,--a mere
idler. If you will both come with me, it will be a great pleasure to
myself. Agreed! Well, then, I will call at your inn to-morrow at
twelve; and I recommend for your inn the one facing us,--The Golden
Lamb. I have heard it recommended for the attributes of civil people
and good fare."

Kenelm felt that he here received his _conge_, and well comprehended
the fact that the minstrel, desiring to preserve the secret of his
name, did not give the address of the family with whom he was a guest.

"But one word more," said Kenelm. "Your host or hostess, if resident
here, can, no doubt, from your description of the little girl and the
old man her protector, learn the child's address. If so, I should
like my companion to make friends with her. Petticoat interest there
at least will be innocent and safe. And I know nothing so likely to
keep a big, passionate heart like Tom's, now aching with a horrible
void, occupied and softened, and turned to directions pure and gentle,
as an affectionate interest in a little child."

The minstrel changed colour: he even started. "Sir, are you a wizard
that you say that to me?"

"I am not a wizard, but I guess from your question that you have a
little child of your own. So much the better: the child may keep you
out of much mischief. Remember the little child. Good evening."

Kenelm crossed the threshold of The Golden Lamb, engaged his room,
made his ablutions, ordered, and, with his usual zest, partook of his
evening meal; and then, feeling the pressure of that melancholic
temperament which he so strangely associated with Herculean
constitutions, roused himself up, and, seeking a distraction from
thought, sauntered forth into the gaslit streets.

It was a large handsome town,--handsomer than Tor-Hadham, on account
of its site in a valley surrounded by wooded hills, and watered by the
fair stream whose windings we have seen as a brook,--handsomer, also,
because it boasted a fair cathedral, well cleared to the sight, and
surrounded by venerable old houses, the residences of the clergy or of
the quiet lay gentry with mediaeval tastes. The main street was
thronged with passengers,--some soberly returning home from the
evening service; some, the younger, lingering in pleasant promenade
with their sweethearts or families, or arm in arm with each other, and
having the air of bachelors or maidens unattached. Through this
street Kenelm passed with inattentive eye. A turn to the right took
him towards the cathedral and its surroundings. There all was
solitary. The solitude pleased him, and he lingered long, gazing on
the noble church lifting its spires and turrets into the deep blue
starry air.

Musingly, then, he strayed on, entering a labyrinth of gloomy lanes,
in which, though the shops were closed, many a door stood open, with
men of the working class lolling against the threshold, idly smoking
their pipes, or women seated on the doorsteps gossiping, while noisy
children were playing or quarrelling in the kennel. The whole did not
present the indolent side of an English Sabbath in the pleasantest and
rosiest point of view. Somewhat quickening his steps, he entered a
broader street, attracted to it involuntarily by a bright light in the
centre. On nearing the light he found that it shone forth from a
gin-palace, of which the mahogany doors opened and shut momently as
customers went in and out. It was the handsomest building he had seen
in his walk, next to that of the cathedral. "The new civilization
versus the old," murmured Kenelm. As he so murmured, a hand was laid
on his arm with a sort of timid impudence. He looked down and saw a
young face, but it had survived the look of youth; it was worn and
hard, and the bloom on it was not that of Nature's giving. "Are you
kind to-night?" asked a husky voice.

"Kind!" said Kenelm, with mournful tones and softened eyes, "kind!
Alas, my poor sister mortal! if pity be kindness, who can see you and
not be kind?"

The girl released his arm, and he walked on. She stood some moments
gazing after him till out of sight, then she drew her hand suddenly
across her eyes, and retracing her steps, was, in her turn, caught
hold of by a rougher hand than hers, as she passed the gin-palace.
She shook off the grasp with a passionate scorn, and went straight
home. Home! is that the right word? Poor sister mortal!



CHAPTER XI.

AND now Kenelm found himself at the extremity of the town, and on the
banks of the river. Small squalid houses still lined the bank for
some way, till, nearing the bridge, they abruptly ceased, and he
passed through a broad square again into the main street. On the
other side of the street there was a row of villa-like mansions, with
gardens stretching towards the river.

All around in the thoroughfare was silent and deserted. By this time
the passengers had gone home. The scent of night-flowers from the
villa-gardens came sweet on the starlit air. Kenelm paused to inhale
it, and then lifting his eyes, hitherto downcast, as are the eyes of
men in meditative moods, he beheld, on the balcony of the nearest
villa, a group of well-dressed persons. The balcony was unusually
wide and spacious. On it was a small round table, on which were
placed wine and fruits. Three ladies were seated round the table on
wire-work chairs, and on the side nearest to Kenelm, one man. In that
man, now slightly turning his profile, as if to look towards the
river, Kenelm recognized the minstrel. He was still in his
picturesque knickerbocker dress, and his clear-cut features, with the
clustering curls of hair, and Rubens-like hue and shape of beard, had
more than their usual beauty, softened in the light of skies, to which
the moon, just risen, added deeper and fuller radiance. The ladies
were in evening dress, but Kenelm could not distinguish their faces
hidden behind the minstrel. He moved softly across the street, and
took his stand behind a buttress in the low wall of the garden, from
which he could have full view of the balcony, unseen himself. In this
watch he had no other object than that of a vague pleasure. The whole
grouping had in it a kind of scenic romance, and he stopped as one
stops before a picture.

He then saw that of the three ladies one was old; another was a slight
girl of the age of twelve or thirteen; the third appeared to be
somewhere about seven or eight and twenty. She was dressed with more
elegance than the others. On her neck, only partially veiled by a
thin scarf, there was the glitter of jewels; and, as she now turned
her full face towards the moon, Kenelm saw that she was very
handsome,--a striking kind of beauty, calculated to fascinate a poet
or an artist,--not unlike Raphael's Fornarina, dark, with warm tints.

Now there appeared at the open window a stout, burly, middle-aged
gentleman, looking every inch of him a family man, a moneyed man,
sleek and prosperous. He was bald, fresh-coloured, and with light
whiskers.

"Holloa," he said, in an accent very slightly foreign, and with a loud
clear voice, which Kenelm heard distinctly, "is it not time for you to
come in?"

"Don't be so tiresome, Fritz," said the handsome lady, half
petulantly, half playfully, in the way ladies address the tiresome
spouses they lord it over. "Your friend has been sulking the whole
evening, and is only just beginning to be pleasant as the moon rises."

"The moon has a good effect on poets and other mad folks, I dare say,"
said the bald man, with a good-humoured laugh. "But I can't have my
little niece laid up again just as she is on the mend: Annie, come
in."

The girl obeyed reluctantly. The old lady rose too.

"Ah, Mother, you are wise," said the bald man; "and a game at euchre
is safer than poetizing in night air." He wound his arm round the old
lady with a careful fondness, for she moved with some difficulty as if
rather lame. "As for you two sentimentalists and moon-gazers, I give
you ten minutes' time,--not more, mind."

"Tyrant!" said the minstrel.

The balcony now held only two forms,--the minstrel and the handsome
lady. The window was closed, and partially veiled by muslin
draperies, but Kenelm caught glimpses of the room within. He could
see that the room, lit by a lamp on the centre table and candles
elsewhere, was decorated and fitted up with cost and in a taste not
English. He could see, for instance, that the ceiling was painted,
and the walls were not papered, but painted in panels between
arabesque pilasters.

"They are foreigners," thought Kenelm, "though the man does speak
English so well. That accounts for playing euchre of a Sunday
evening, as if there were no harm in it. Euchre is an American game.
The man is called Fritz. Ah! I guess--Germans who have lived a good
deal in America; and the verse-maker said he was at Luscombe on
pecuniary business. Doubtless his host is a merchant, and the
verse-maker in some commercial firm. That accounts for his
concealment of name, and fear of its being known that he was addicted
in his holiday to tastes and habits so opposed to his calling."

While he was thus thinking, the lady had drawn her chair close to the
minstrel, and was speaking to him with evident earnestness, but in
tones too low for Kenelm to hear. Still it seemed to him, by her
manner and by the man's look, as if she were speaking in some sort of
reproach, which he sought to deprecate. Then he spoke, also in a
whisper, and she averted her face for a moment; then she held out her
hand, and the minstrel kissed it. Certainly, thus seen, the two might
well be taken for lovers; and the soft night, the fragrance of the
flowers, silence and solitude, stars and moon light, all girt them as
with an atmosphere of love. Presently the man rose and leaned over
the balcony, propping his cheek on his hand, and gazing on the river.
The lady rose too, and also leaned over the balustrade, her dark hair
almost touching the auburn locks of her companion.

Kenelm sighed. Was it from envy, from pity, from fear? I know not;
but he sighed.

After a brief pause, the lady said, still in low tones, but not too
low this time to escape Kenelm's fine sense of hearing,--

"Tell me those verses again. I must remember every word of them when
you are gone."

The man shook his head gently, and answered, but inaudibly.

"Do," said the lady; "set them to music later; and the next time you
come I will sing them. I have thought of a title for them."

"What?" asked the minstrel.

"Love's quarrel."

The minstrel turned his head, and their eyes met, and, in meeting,
lingered long. Then he moved away, and with face turned from her and
towards the river, gave the melody of his wondrous voice to the
following lines:--


     LOVE'S QUARREL.

 "Standing by the river, gazing on the river,
   See it paved with starbeams,--heaven is at our feet;
  Now the wave is troubled, now the rushes quiver;
   Vanished is the starlight: it was a deceit.

 "Comes a little cloudlet 'twixt ourselves and heaven,
   And from all the river fades the silver track;
  Put thine arms around me, whisper low, 'Forgiven!'
   See how on the river starlight settles back."


When he had finished, still with face turned aside, the lady did not,
indeed, whisper "Forgiven," nor put her arms around him; but, as if by
irresistible impulse, she laid her hand lightly on his shoulder.

The minstrel started.

There came to his ear,--he knew not from whence, from whom,--

"Mischief! mischief! Remember the little child!"

"Hush!" he said, staring round. "Did you not hear a voice?"

"Only yours," said the lady.

"It was our guardian angel's, Amalie. It came in time. We will go
within."



CHAPTER XII.

THE next morning betimes Kenelm visited Tom at his uncle's home. A
comfortable and respectable home it was, like that of an owner in easy
circumstances. The veterinary surgeon himself was intelligent, and
apparently educated beyond the range of his calling; a childless
widower, between sixty and seventy, living with a sister, an old maid.
They were evidently much attached to Tom, and delighted by the hope of
keeping him with them. Tom himself looked rather sad, but not sullen,
and his face brightened wonderfully at first sight of Kenelm. That
oddity made himself as pleasant and as much like other people as he
could in conversing with the old widower and the old maid, and took
leave, engaging Tom to be at his inn at half past twelve, and spend
the day with him and the minstrel. He then returned to the Golden
Lamb, and waited there for his first visitant; the minstrel. That
votary of the muse arrived punctually at twelve o'clock. His
countenance was less cheerful and sunny than usual. Kenelm made no
allusion to the scene he had witnessed, nor did his visitor seem to
suspect that Kenelm had witnessed it or been the utterer of that
warning voice.

KENELM.--"I have asked my friend Tom Bowles to come a little later,
because I wished you to be of use to him, and, in order to be so, I
should suggest how."

THE MINSTREL.--"Pray do."

KENELM.--"You know that I am not a poet, and I do not have much
reverence for verse-making merely as a craft."

THE MINSTREL.--"Neither have I."

KENELM.--"But I have a great reverence for poetry as a priesthood. I
felt that reverence for you when you sketched and talked priesthood
last evening, and placed in my heart--I hope forever while it
beats--the image of the child on the sunlit hill, high above the
abodes of men, tossing her flower-ball heavenward and with heavenward
eyes."

The singer's cheek coloured high, and his lip quivered: he was very
sensitive to praise; most singers are.

Kenelm resumed, "I have been educated in the Realistic school, and
with realism I am discontented, because in realism as a school there
is no truth. It contains but a bit of truth, and that the coldest and
hardest bit of it, and he who utters a bit of truth and suppresses the
rest of it tells a lie."

THE MINSTREL (slyly).--"Does the critic who says to me, 'Sing of
beefsteak, because the appetite for food is a real want of daily life,
and don't sing of art and glory and love, because in daily life a man
may do without such ideas,'--tell a lie?"

KENELM.--"Thank you for that rebuke. I submit to it. No doubt I did
tell a lie,--that is, if I were quite in earnest in my recommendation,
and if not in earnest, why--"

THE MINSTREL.--"You belied yourself."

KENELM.--"Very likely. I set out on my travels to escape from shams,
and begin to discover that I am a sham _par excellence_. But I
suddenly come across you, as a boy dulled by his syntax and his vulgar
fractions suddenly comes across a pleasant poem or a picture-book, and
feels his wits brighten up. I owe you much: you have done me a world
of good."

"I cannot guess how."

"Possibly not, but you have shown me how the realism of Nature herself
takes colour and life and soul when seen on the ideal or poetic side
of it. It is not exactly the words that you say or sing that do me
the good, but they awaken within me new trains of thought, which I
seek to follow out. The best teacher is the one who suggests rather
than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach
himself. Therefore, O singer! whatever be the worth in critical eyes
of your songs, I am glad to remember that you would like to go through
the world always singing."

"Pardon me: you forget that I added, 'if life were always young, and
the seasons were always summer.'"

"I do not forget. But if youth and summer fade for you, you leave
youth and summer behind you as you pass along,--behind in hearts which
mere realism would make always old, and counting their slothful beats
under the gray of a sky without sun or stars; wherefore I pray you to
consider how magnificent a mission the singer's is,--to harmonize your
life with your song, and toss your flowers, as your child does,
heavenward, with heavenward eyes. Think only of this when you talk
with my sorrowing friend, and you will do him good, as you have done
me, without being able to guess how a seeker after the Beautiful, such
as you, carries us along with him on his way; so that we, too, look
out for beauty, and see it in the wild-flowers to which we had been
blind before."

Here Tom entered the little sanded parlour where this dialogue had
been held, and the three men sallied forth, taking the shortest cut
from the town into the fields and woodlands.



CHAPTER XIII.

WHETHER or not his spirits were raised by Kenelm's praise and
exhortations, the minstrel that day talked with a charm that
spellbound Tom, and Kenelm was satisfied with brief remarks on his
side tending to draw out the principal performer.

The talk was drawn from outward things, from natural objects,--objects
that interest children, and men who, like Tom Bowles, have been
accustomed to view surroundings more with the heart's eye than the
mind's eye. This rover about the country knew much of the habits of
birds and beasts and insects, and told anecdotes of them with a
mixture of humour and pathos, which fascinated Tom's attention, made
him laugh heartily, and sometimes brought tears into his big blue
eyes.

They dined at an inn by the wayside, and the dinner was mirthful; then
they wended their way slowly back. By the declining daylight their
talk grew somewhat graver, and Kenelm took more part in it. Tom
listened mute,--still fascinated. At length, as the town came in
sight, they agreed to halt a while, in a bosky nook soft with mosses
and sweet with wild thyme.

There, as they lay stretched at their ease, the birds hymning vesper
songs amid the boughs above, or dropping, noiseless and fearless, for
their evening food on the swards around them, the wanderer said to
Kenelm, "You tell me that you are no poet, yet I am sure you have a
poet's perception: you must have written poetry?"

"Not I; as I before told you, only school verses in dead languages:
but I found in my knapsack this morning a copy of some rhymes, made by
a fellow-collegian, which I put into my pocket meaning to read them to
you both. They are not verses like yours, which evidently burst from
you spontaneously, and are not imitated from any other poets. These
verses were written by a Scotchman, and smack of imitation from the
old ballad style. There is little to admire in the words themselves,
but there is something in the idea which struck me as original, and
impressed me sufficiently to keep a copy, and somehow or other it got
into the leaves of one of the two books I carried with me from home."

"What are those books? Books of poetry both, I will venture to
wager--"

"Wrong! Both metaphysical, and dry as a bone. Tom, light your pipe,
and you, sir, lean more at ease on your elbow; I should warn you that
the ballad is long. Patience!"

"Attention!" said the minstrel.

"Fire!" added Tom.

Kenelm began to read,--and he read well.


     LORD RONALD'S BRIDE.

        PART I.

 "WHY gathers the crowd in the market-place
  Ere the stars have yet left the sky?"
 "For a holiday show and an act of grace,--
   At the sunrise a witch shall die."

 "What deed has she done to deserve that doom?
   Has she blighted the standing corn,
  Or rifled for philters a dead man's tomb,
   Or rid mothers of babes new-born?"

 "Her pact with the fiend was not thus revealed,
   She taught sinners the Word to hear;
  The hungry she fed, and the sick she healed,
   And was held as a Saint last year.

 "But a holy man, who at Rome had been,
   Had discovered, by book and bell,
  That the marvels she wrought were through arts unclean,
   And the lies of the Prince of Hell.

 "And our Mother the Church, for the dame was rich,
   And her husband was Lord of Clyde,
  Would fain have been mild to this saint-like witch
   If her sins she had not denied.

 "But hush, and come nearer to see the sight,
   Sheriff, halberds, and torchmen,--look!
  That's the witch standing mute in her garb of white,
   By the priest with his bell and book."

  So the witch was consumed on the sacred pyre,
   And the priest grew in power and pride,
  And the witch left a son to succeed his sire
   In the halls and the lands of Clyde.

  And the infant waxed comely and strong and brave,
   But his manhood had scarce begun,
  When his vessel was launched on the northern wave
   To the shores which are near the sun.

        PART II.

  Lord Ronald has come to his halls in Clyde
   With a bride of some unknown race;
  Compared with the man who would kiss that bride
   Wallace wight were a coward base.

  Her eyes had the glare of the mountain-cat
   When it springs on the hunter's spear,
  At the head of the board when that lady sate
   Hungry men could not eat for fear.

  And the tones of her voice had that deadly growl
   Of the bloodhound that scents its prey;
  No storm was so dark as that lady's scowl
   Under tresses of wintry gray.

 "Lord Ronald! men marry for love or gold,
   Mickle rich must have been thy bride!"
 "Man's heart may be bought, woman's hand be sold,
   On the banks of our northern Clyde.

 "My bride is, in sooth, mickle rich to me
   Though she brought not a groat in dower,
  For her face, couldst thou see it as I do see,
   Is the fairest in hall or bower!"

  Quoth the bishop one day to our lord the king,
  "Satan reigns on the Clyde alway,
  And the taint in the blood of the witch doth cling
   To the child that she brought to day.

 "Lord Ronald hath come from the Paynim land
   With a bride that appals the sight;
  Like his dam she hath moles on her dread right hand,
   And she turns to a snake at night.

 "It is plain that a Scot who can blindly dote
   On the face of an Eastern ghoul,
  And a ghoul who was worth not a silver groat,
   Is a Scot who has lost his soul.

  "It were wise to have done with this demon tree
   Which has teemed with such caukered fruit;
  Add the soil where it stands to my holy See,
   And consign to the flames its root."

 "Holy man!" quoth King James, and he laughed, "we know
   That thy tongue never wags in vain,
  But the Church cist is full, and the king's is low,
   And the Clyde is a fair domain.

 "Yet a knight that's bewitched by a laidly fere
   Needs not much to dissolve the spell;
  We will summon the bride and the bridegroom here
   Be at hand with thy book and bell."

        PART III.

  Lord Ronald stood up in King James's court,
   And his dame by his dauntless side;
  The barons who came in the hopes of sport
   Shook with fright when they saw the bride.

  The bishop, though armed with his bell and book,
   Grew as white as if turned to stone;
  It was only our king who could face that look,
   But he spoke with a trembling tone.

 "Lord Ronald, the knights of thy race and mine
   Should have mates in their own degree;
  What parentage, say, hath that bride of thine
   Who hath come from the far countree?

 "And what was her dowry in gold or land,
   Or what was the charm, I pray,
  That a comely young gallant should woo the hand
   Of the ladye we see to-day?"

  And the lords would have laughed, but that awful dame
   Struck them dumb with her thunder-frown:
 "Saucy king, did I utter my father's name,
   Thou wouldst kneel as his liegeman down.

 "Though I brought to Lord Ronald nor lands nor gold,
   Nor the bloom of a fading cheek;
  Yet, were I a widow, both young and old
   Would my hand and my dowry seek.

 "For the wish that he covets the most below,
   And would hide from the saints above,
  Which he dares not to pray for in weal or woe,
   Is the dowry I bring my love.

 "Let every man look in his heart and see
   What the wish he most lusts to win,
  And then let him fasten his eyes on me
   While he thinks of his darling sin."

  And every man--bishop, and lord, and king
   Thought of what he most wished to win,
  And, fixing his eye on that grewsome thing,
   He beheld his own darling sin.

  No longer a ghoul in that face he saw;
   It was fair as a boy's first love:
  The voice that had curdled his veins with awe
   Was the coo of the woodland dove.

  Each heart was on flame for the peerless dame
   At the price of the husband's life;
  Bright claymores flash out, and loud voices shout,
  "In thy widow shall be my wife."

  Then darkness fell over the palace hall,
   More dark and more dark it fell,
  And a death-groan boomed hoarse underneath the pall,
   And was drowned amid roar and yell.

  When light through the lattice-pane stole once more,
   It was gray as a wintry dawn,
  And the bishop lay cold on the regal floor,
   With a stain on his robes of lawn.

  Lord Ronald was standing beside the dead,
   In the scabbard he plunged his sword,
  And with visage as wan as the corpse, he said,
  "Lo! my ladye hath kept her word.

 "Now I leave her to others to woo and win,
   For no longer I find her fair;
  Could I look on the face of my darling sin,
   I should see but a dead man's there.

 "And the dowry she brought me is here returned,
   For the wish of my heart has died,
  It is quenched in the blood of the priest who burned
   My sweet mother, the Saint of Clyde."

  Lord Ronald strode over the stony floor,
   Not a hand was outstretched to stay;
  Lord Ronald has passed through the gaping door,
   Not an eye ever traced the way.

  And the ladye, left widowed, was prized above
   All the maidens in hall and bower,
  Many bartered their lives for that ladye's love,
   And their souls for that ladye's dower.

  God grant that the wish which I dare not pray
   Be not that which I lust to win,
  And that ever I look with my first dismay
   On the face of my darling sin!


As he ceased, Kenelm's eye fell on Tom's face upturned to his own,
with open lips, an intent stare, and paled cheeks, and a look of that
higher sort of terror which belongs to awe. The man, then recovering
himself, tried to speak, and attempted a sickly smile, but neither
would do. He rose abruptly and walked away, crept under the shadow of
a dark beech-tree, and stood there leaning against the trunk.

"What say you to the ballad?" asked Kenelm of the singer.

"It is not without power," answered he.

"Ay, of a certain kind."

The minstrel looked hard at Kenelm, and dropped his eyes, with a
heightened glow on his cheek.

"The Scotch are a thoughtful race. The Scot who wrote this thing may
have thought of a day when he saw beauty in the face of a darling sin;
but, if so, it is evident that his sight recovered from that glamoury.
Shall we walk on? Come, Tom."

The minstrel left them at the entrance of the town, saying, "I regret
that I cannot see more of either of you, as I quit Luscombe at
daybreak. Here, by the by, I forgot to give it before, is the address
you wanted."

KENELM.--"Of the little child. I am glad you remembered her."

The minstrel again looked hard at Kenelm, this time without dropping
his eyes. Kenelm's expression of face was so simply quiet that it
might be almost called vacant.

Kenelm and Tom continued to walk on towards the veterinary surgeon's
house, for some minutes silently. Then Tom said in a whisper, "Did
you not mean those rhymes to hit me here--_here_?" and he struck his
breast.

"The rhymes were written long before I saw you, Tom; but it is well if
their meaning strike us all. Of you, my friend, I have no fear now.
Are you not already a changed man?"

"I feel as if I were going through a change," answered Tom, in slow,
dreary accents. "In hearing you and that gentleman talk so much of
things that I never thought of, I felt something in me,--you will
laugh when I tell you,--something like a bird."

"Like a bird,--good!--a bird has wings."

"Just so."

"And you felt wings that you were unconscious of before, fluttering
and beating themselves as against the wires of a cage. You were true
to your instincts then, my dear fellow-man,--instincts of space and
Heaven. Courage!--the cage-door will open soon. And now, practically
speaking, I give you this advice in parting: You have a quick and
sensitive mind which you have allowed that strong body of yours to
incarcerate and suppress. Give that mind fair play. Attend to the
business of your calling diligently; the craving for regular work is
the healthful appetite of mind: but in your spare hours cultivate the
new ideas which your talk with men who have been accustomed to
cultivate the mind more than the body has sown within you. Belong to
a book-club, and interest yourself in books. A wise man has said,
'Books widen the present by adding to it the past and the future.'
Seek the company of educated men and educated women too; and when you
are angry with another, reason with him: don't knock him down; and
don't be knocked down yourself by an enemy much stronger than
yourself,--Drink. Do all this, and when I see you again you will
be--"

"Stop, sir,--you will see me again?"

"Yes, if we both live, I promise it."

"When?"

"You see, Tom, we have both of us something in our old selves which we
must work off. You will work off your something by repose, and I must
work off mine, if I can, by moving about. So I am on my travels. May
we both have new selves better than the old selves, when we again
shake hands! For your part try your best, dear Tom, and Heaven
prosper you."

"And Heaven bless you!" cried Tom, fervently, with tears rolling
unheeded from his bold blue eyes.



CHAPTER XIV.

THOUGH Kenelm left Luscombe on Tuesday morning, he did not appear at
Neesdale Park till the Wednesday, a little before the dressing-bell
for dinner. His adventures in the interim are not worth repeating.
He had hoped he might fall in again with the minstrel, but he did not.

His portmanteau had arrived, and he heaved a sigh as he cased himself
in a gentleman's evening dress. "Alas! I have soon got back again
into my own skin."

There were several other guests in the house, though not a large
party,--they had been asked with an eye to the approaching
election,--consisting of squires and clergy from remoter parts of the
county. Chief among the guests in rank and importance, and rendered
by the occasion the central object of interest, was George Belvoir.

Kenelm bore his part in this society with a resignation that partook
of repentance.

The first day he spoke very little, and was considered a very dull
young man by the lady he took in to dinner. Mr. Travers in vain tried
to draw him out. He had anticipated much amusement from the
eccentricities of his guest, who had talked volubly enough in the
fernery, and was sadly disappointed. "I feel," he whispered to Mrs.
Campion, "like poor Lord Pomfret, who, charmed with Punch's lively
conversation, bought him, and was greatly surprised that, when he had
once brought him home, Punch would not talk."

"But your Punch listens," said Mrs. Campion, "and he observes."

George Belvoir, on the other hand, was universally declared to be very
agreeable. Though not naturally jovial, he forced himself to appear
so,--laughing loud with the squires, and entering heartily with their
wives and daughters into such topics as county-balls and
croquet-parties; and when after dinner he had, Cato-like, 'warmed his
virtue with wine,' the virtue came out very lustily in praise of good
men,--namely, men of his own party,--and anathemas on bad
men,--namely, men of the other party.

Now and then he appealed to Kenelm, and Kenelm always returned the
same answer, "There is much in what you say."

The first evening closed in the usual way in country houses. There
was some lounging under moonlight on the terrace before the house;
then there was some singing by young lady amateurs, and a rubber of
whist for the elders; then wine-and-water, hand-candlesticks, a
smoking-room for those who smoked, and bed for those who did not.

In the course of the evening, Cecilia, partly in obedience to the
duties of hostess and partly from that compassion for shyness which
kindly and high-bred persons entertain, had gone a little out of her
way to allure Kenelm forth from the estranged solitude he had
contrived to weave around him. In vain for the daughter as for the
father. He replied to her with the quiet self-possession which should
have convinced her that no man on earth was less entitled to
indulgence for the gentlemanlike infirmity of shyness, and no man less
needed the duties of any hostess for the augmentation of his comforts,
or rather for his diminished sense of discomfort; but his replies were
in monosyllables, and made with the air of a man who says in his
heart, "If this creature would but leave me alone!"

Cecilia, for the first time in her life, was piqued, and, strange to
say, began to feel more interest about this indifferent stranger than
about the popular, animated, pleasant George Belvoir, who she knew by
womanly instinct was as much in love with her as he could be.

Cecilia Travers that night on retiring to rest told her maid,
smilingly, that she was too tired to have her hair done; and yet, when
the maid was dismissed, she looked at herself in the glass more
gravely and more discontentedly than she had ever looked there before;
and, tired though she was, stood at the window gazing into the moonlit
night for a good hour after the maid left her.



CHAPTER XV.

KENELM CHILLINGLY has now been several days a guest at Neesdale Park.
He has recovered speech; the other guests have gone, including George
Belvoir. Leopold Travers has taken a great fancy to Kenelm. Leopold
was one of those men, not uncommon perhaps in England, who, with great
mental energies, have little book-knowledge, and when they come in
contact with a book-reader who is not a pedant feel a pleasant
excitement in his society, a source of interest in comparing notes
with him, a constant surprise in finding by what venerable authorities
the deductions which their own mother-wit has drawn from life are
supported, or by what cogent arguments derived from books those
deductions are contravened or upset. Leopold Travers had in him that
sense of humour which generally accompanies a strong practical
understanding (no man, for instance, has more practical understanding
than a Scot, and no man has a keener susceptibility to humour), and
not only enjoyed Kenelm's odd way of expressing himself, but very
often mistook Kenelm's irony for opinion spoken in earnest.

Since his early removal from the capital and his devotion to
agricultural pursuits, it was so seldom that Leopold Travers met a man
by whose conversation his mind was diverted to other subjects than
those which were incidental to the commonplace routine of his life
that he found in Kenelm's views of men and things a source of novel
amusement, and a stirring appeal to such metaphysical creeds of his
own as had been formed unconsciously, and had long reposed unexamined
in the recesses of an intellect shrewd and strong, but more accustomed
to dictate than to argue. Kenelm, on his side, saw much in his host
to like and to admire; but, reversing their relative positions in
point of years, he conversed with Travers as with a mind younger than
his own. Indeed, it was one of his crotchety theories that each
generation is in substance mentally older than the generation
preceding it, especially in all that relates to science; and, as he
would say, "The study of life is a science, and not an art."

But Cecilia,--what impression did she create upon the young visitor?
Was he alive to the charm of her rare beauty, to the grace of a mind
sufficiently stored for commune with those who love to think and to
imagine, and yet sufficiently feminine and playful to seize the
sportive side of realities, and allow their proper place to the
trifles which make the sum of human things? An impression she did
make, and that impression was new to him and pleasing. Nay, sometimes
in her presence and sometimes when alone, he fell into abstracted
consultations with himself, saying, "Kenelm Chillingly, now that thou
hast got back into thy proper skin, dost thou not think that thou
hadst better remain there? Couldst thou not be contented with thy lot
as erring descendant of Adam, if thou couldst win for thy mate so
faultless a descendant of Eve as now flits before thee?" But he could
not abstract from himself any satisfactory answer to the question he
had addressed to himself.

Once he said abruptly to Travers, as, on their return from their
rambles, they caught a glimpse of Cecilia's light form bending over
the flower-beds on the lawn, "Do you admire Virgil?"

"To say truth I have not read Virgil since I was a boy; and, between
you and me, I then thought him rather monotonous."

"Perhaps because his verse is so smooth in its beauty?"

"Probably. When one is very young one's taste is faulty; and if a
poet is not faulty, we are apt to think he wants vivacity and fire."

"Thank you for your lucid explanation," answered Kenelm, adding
musingly to himself, "I am afraid I should yawn very often if I were
married to a Miss Virgil."



CHAPTER XVI.

THE house of Mr. Travers contained a considerable collection of family
portraits, few of them well painted, but the Squire was evidently
proud of such evidences of ancestry. They not only occupied a
considerable space on the walls of the reception rooms, but swarmed
into the principal sleeping-chambers, and smiled or frowned on the
beholder from dark passages and remote lobbies. One morning, Cecilia,
on her way to the china closet, found Kenelm gazing very intently upon
a female portrait consigned to one of those obscure receptacles by
which through a back staircase he gained the only approach from the
hall to his chamber.

"I don't pretend to be a good judge of paintings," said Kenelm, as
Cecilia paused beside him; "but it strikes me that this picture is
very much better than most of those to which places of honour are
assigned in your collection. And the face itself is so lovely that it
would add an embellishment to the princeliest galleries."

"Yes," said Cecilia, with a half-sigh. "The face is lovely, and the
portrait is considered one of Lely's rarest masterpieces. It used to
hang over the chimney-piece in the drawing-room. My father had it
placed here many years ago."

"Perhaps because he discovered it was not a family portrait?"

"On the contrary,--because it grieves him to think it is a family
portrait. Hush! I hear his footstep: don't speak of it to him; don't
let him see you looking at it. The subject is very painful to him."

Here Cecilia vanished into the china closet and Kenelm turned off to
his own room.

What sin committed by the original in the time of Charles II. but only
discovered in the reign of Victoria could have justified Leopold
Travers in removing the most pleasing portrait in the house from the
honoured place it had occupied, and banishing it to so obscure a
recess? Kenelm said no more on the subject, and indeed an hour
afterwards had dismissed it from his thoughts. The next day he rode
out with Travers and Cecilia. Their way passed through quiet shady
lanes without any purposed direction, when suddenly, at the spot where
three of those lanes met on an angle of common ground, a lonely gray
tower, in the midst of a wide space of grass-land which looked as if
it had once been a park, with huge boles of pollarded oak dotting the
space here and there, rose before them.

"Cissy!" cried Travers, angrily reining in his horse and stopping
short in a political discussion which he had forced upon Kenelm,
"Cissy! How comes this? We have taken the wrong turn! No matter, I
see there," pointing to the right, "the chimney-pots of old Mondell's
homestead. He has not yet promised his vote to George Belvoir. I'll
go and have a talk with him. Turn back, you and Mr. Chillingly,--meet
me at Terner's Green, and wait for me there till I come. I need not
excuse myself to you, Chillingly. A vote is a vote." So saying, the
Squire, whose ordinary riding-horse was an old hunter, halted, turned,
and, no gate being visible, put the horse over a stiff fence and
vanished in the direction of old Mondell's chimney-pots. Kenelm,
scarcely hearing his host's instructions to Cecilia and excuses to
himself, remained still and gazing on the old tower thus abruptly
obtruded on his view.

Though no learned antiquarian like his father, Kenelm had a strange
fascinating interest in all relics of the past; and old gray towers,
where they are not church towers, are very rarely to be seen in
England. All around the old gray tower spoke with an unutterable
mournfulness of a past in ruins: you could see remains of some large
Gothic building once attached to it, rising here and there in
fragments of deeply buttressed walls; you could see in a dry ditch,
between high ridges, where there had been a fortified moat: nay, you
could even see where once had been the bailey hill from which a baron
of old had dispensed justice. Seldom indeed does the most acute of
antiquarians discover that remnant of Norman times on lands still held
by the oldest of Anglo-Norman families. Then, the wild nature of the
demesne around; those ranges of sward, with those old giant
oak-trunks, hollowed within and pollarded at top,--all spoke, in
unison with the gray tower, of a past as remote from the reign of
Victoria as the Pyramids are from the sway of the Viceroy of Egypt.

"Let us turn back," said Miss Travers; "my father would not like me to
stay here."

"Pardon me a moment. I wish my father were here; he would stay till
sunset. But what is the history of that old tower? a history it must
have."

"Every home has a history, even a peasant's hut," said Cecilia. "But
do pardon me if I ask you to comply with my father's request. I at
least must turn back."

Thus commanded, Kenelm reluctantly withdrew his gaze from the ruin and
regained Cecilia, who was already some paces in return down the lane.

"I am far from a very inquisitive man by temperament," said Kenelm,
"so far as the affairs of the living are concerned. But I should not
care to open a book if I had no interest in the past. Pray indulge my
curiosity to learn something about that old tower. It could not look
more melancholy and solitary if I had built it myself."

"Its most melancholy associations are with a very recent past,"
answered Cecilia. "The tower, in remote times, formed the keep of a
castle belonging to the most ancient and once the most powerful family
in these parts. The owners were barons who took active share in the
Wars of the Roses. The last of them sided with Richard III., and
after the battle of Bosworth the title was attainted, and the larger
portion of the lands was confiscated. Loyalty to a Plantagenet was of
course treason to a Tudor. But the regeneration of the family rested
with their direct descendants, who had saved from the general wreck of
their fortunes what may be called a good squire's estate,--about,
perhaps, the same rental as my father's, but of much larger acreage.
These squires, however, were more looked up to in the county than the
wealthiest peer. They were still by far the oldest family in the
county; and traced in their pedigree alliances with the most
illustrious houses in English history. In themselves too for many
generations they were a high-spirited, hospitable, popular race,
living unostentatiously on their income, and contented with their rank
of squires. The castle, ruined by time and siege, they did not
attempt to restore. They dwelt in a house near to it, built about
Elizabeth's time, which you could not see, for it lies in a hollow
behind the tower,--a moderate-sized, picturesque, country gentleman's
house. Our family intermarried with them,--the portrait you saw was a
daughter of their house,--and very proud was any squire in the county
of intermarriage with the Fletwodes."

"Fletwode,--that was their name? I have a vague recollection of
having heard the name connected with some disastrous--oh, but it can't
be the same family: pray go on."

"I fear it is the same family. But I will finish the story as I have
heard it. The property descended at last to one Bertram Fletwode,
who, unfortunately, obtained the reputation of being a very clever man
of business. There was some mining company in which, with other
gentlemen in the county, he took great interest; invested largely in
shares; became the head of the direction--"

"I see; and was of course ruined."

"No; worse than that: he became very rich; and, unhappily, became
desirous of being richer still. I have heard that there was a great
mania for speculations just about that time. He embarked in these,
and prospered, till at last he was induced to invest a large share of
the fortune thus acquired in the partnership of a bank which enjoyed a
high character. Up to that time he had retained popularity and esteem
in the county; but the squires who shared in the adventures of the
mining company, and knew little or nothing about other speculations in
which his name did not appear, professed to be shocked at the idea of
a Fletwode of Fletwode being ostensibly joined in partnership with a
Jones of Clapham in a London bank."

"Slow folks, those country squires,--behind the progress of the age.
Well?"

"I have heard that Bertram Fletwode was himself very reluctant to take
this step, but was persuaded to do so by his son. This son, Alfred,
was said to have still greater talents for business than the father,
and had been not only associated with but consulted by him in all the
later speculations which had proved so fortunate. Mrs. Campion knew
Alfred Fletwode very well. She describes him as handsome, with quick,
eager eyes; showy and imposing in his talk; immensely ambitious, more
ambitious than avaricious,--collecting money less for its own sake
than for that which it could give,--rank and power. According to her
it was the dearest wish of his heart to claim the old barony, but not
before there could go with the barony a fortune adequate to the lustre
of a title so ancient, and equal to the wealth of modern peers with
higher nominal rank."

"A poor ambition at the best; of the two I should prefer that of a
poet in a garret. But I am no judge. Thank Heaven I have no
ambition. Still, all ambition, all desire to rise, is interesting to
him who is ignominiously contented if he does not fall. So the son
had his way, and Fletwode joined company with Jones on the road to
wealth and the peerage; meanwhile did the son marry? if so, of course
the daughter of a duke or a millionnaire. Tuft-hunting, or
money-making, at the risk of degradation and the workhouse. Progress
of the age!"

"No," replied Cecilia, smiling at this outburst, but smiling sadly,
"Fletwode did not marry the daughter of a duke or a millionnaire; but
still his wife belonged to a noble family,--very poor, but very proud.
Perhaps he married from motives of ambition, though not of gain. Her
father was of much political influence that might perhaps assist his
claim to the barony. The mother, a woman of the world, enjoying a
high social position, and nearly related to a connection of
ours,--Lady Glenalvon."

"Lady Glenalvon, the dearest of my lady friends! You are connected
with her?"

"Yes; Lord Glenalvon was my mother's uncle. But I wish to finish my
story before my father joins us. Alfred Fletwode did not marry till
long after the partnership in the bank. His father, at his desire,
had bought up the whole business, Mr. Jones having died. The bank was
carried on in the names of Fletwode and Son. But the father had
become merely a nominal or what I believe is called a 'sleeping'
partner. He had long ceased to reside in the county. The old house
was not grand enough for him. He had purchased a palatial residence
in one of the home counties; lived there in great splendour; was a
munificent patron of science and art; and in spite of his earlier
addictions to business-like speculations he appears to have been a
singularly accomplished, high-bred gentleman. Some years before his
son's marriage, Mr. Fletwode had been afflicted with partial
paralysis, and his medical attendant enjoined rigid abstention from
business. From that time he never interfered with his son's
management of the bank. He had an only daughter, much younger than
Alfred. Lord Eagleton, my mother's brother, was engaged to be married
to her. The wedding-day was fixed,--when the world was startled by
the news that the great firm of Fletwode and Son had stopped payment;
is that the right phrase?"

"I believe so."

"A great many people were ruined in that failure. The public
indignation was very great. Of course all the Fletwode property went
to the creditors. Old Mr. Fletwode was legally acquitted of all other
offence than that of overconfidence in his son. Alfred was convicted
of fraud,--of forgery. I don't, of course, know the particulars, they
are very complicated. He was sentenced to a long term of servitude,
but died the day he was condemned; apparently by poison, which he had
long secreted about his person. Now you can understand why my father,
who is almost gratuitously sensitive on the point of honour, removed
into a dark corner the portrait of Arabella Fletwode,--his own
ancestress, but also the ancestress of a convicted felon: you can
understand why the whole subject is so painful to him. His wife's
brother was to have married the felon's sister; and though, of course,
that marriage was tacitly broken off by the terrible disgrace that had
befallen the Fletwodes, yet I don't think my poor uncle ever recovered
the blow to his hopes. He went abroad, and died in Madeira of a slow
decline."

"And the felon's sister, did she die too?"

"No; not that I know of. Mrs. Campion says that she saw in a
newspaper the announcement of old Mr. Fletwode's death, and a
paragraph to the effect that after that event Miss Fletwode had sailed
from Liverpool to New York."

"Alfred Fletwode's wife went back, of course, to her family?"

"Alas! no,--poor thing! She had not been many months married when the
bank broke; and among his friends her wretched husband appears to have
forged the names of the trustees to her marriage settlement, and sold
out the sums which would otherwise have served her as a competence.
Her father, too, was a great sufferer by the bankruptcy, having by his
son-in-law's advice placed a considerable portion of his moderate
fortune in Alfred's hands for investment, all of which was involved in
the general wreck. I am afraid he was a very hard-hearted man: at all
events his poor daughter never returned to him. She died, I think,
even before the death of Bertram Fletwode. The whole story is very
dismal."

"Dismal indeed, but pregnant with salutary warnings to those who live
in an age of progress. Here you see a family of fair fortune, living
hospitably, beloved, revered, more looked up to by their neighbours
than the wealthiest nobles; no family not proud to boast alliance with
it. All at once, in the tranquil record of this happy race, appears
that darling of the age, that hero of progress,--a clever man of
business. He be contented to live as his fathers! He be contented
with such trifles as competence, respect, and love! Much too clever
for that. The age is money-making,--go with the age! He goes with
the age. Born a gentleman only, he exalts himself into a trader. But
at least he, it seems, if greedy, was not dishonest. He was born a
gentleman, but his son was born a trader. The son is a still cleverer
man of business; the son is consulted and trusted. Aha! He too goes
with the age; to greed he links ambition. The trader's son wishes to
return--what? to the rank of gentleman?--gentleman! nonsense!
everybody is a gentleman nowadays,--to the title of Lord. How ends it
all! Could I sit but for twelve hours in the innermost heart of that
Alfred Fletwode; could I see how, step by step from his childhood, the
dishonest son was avariciously led on by the honest father to depart
from the old _vestigia_ of Fletwodes of Fletwode,--scorning The Enough
to covet The More, gaining The More to sigh, 'It is not The
Enough,'--I think I might show that the age lives in a house of glass,
and had better not for its own sake throw stones on the felon!"

"Ah, but, Mr. Chillingly, surely this is a very rare exception in the
general--"

"Rare!" interrupted Kenelm, who was excited to a warmth of passion
which would have startled his most intimate friend,-if indeed an
intimate friend had ever been vouchsafed to him,--"rare! nay, how
common--I don't say to the extent of forgery and fraud, but to the
extent of degradation and ruin--is the greed of a Little More to those
who have The Enough! is the discontent with competence, respect, and
love, when catching sight of a money-bag! How many well-descended
county families, cursed with an heir who is called a clever man of
business, have vanished from the soil! A company starts, the clever
man joins it one bright day. Pouf! the old estates and the old name
are powder. Ascend higher. Take nobles whose ancestral titles ought
to be to English ears like the sound of clarions, awakening the most
slothful to the scorn of money-bags and the passion for renown. Lo!
in that mocking dance of death called the Progress of the Age, one who
did not find Enough in a sovereign's revenue, and seeks The Little
More as a gambler on the turf by the advice of blacklegs! Lo!
another, with lands wider than his greatest ancestors ever possessed,
must still go in for The Little More, adding acre to acre, heaping
debt upon debt! Lo! a third, whose name, borne by his ancestors, was
once the terror of England's foes,--the landlord of a hotel! A
fourth,--but why go on through the list? Another and another still
succeeds; each on the Road to Ruin, each in the Age of Progress. Ah,
Miss Travers! in the old time it was through the Temple of Honour that
one passed to the Temple of Fortune. In this wise age the process is
reversed. But here comes your father."

"A thousand pardons!" said Leopold Travers. "That numskull Mondell
kept me so long with his old-fashioned Tory doubts whether liberal
politics are favourable to agricultural prospects. But as he owes a
round sum to a Whig lawyer I had to talk with his wife, a prudent
woman; convinced her that his own agricultural prospects were safest
on the Whig side of the question; and, after kissing his baby and
shaking his hand, booked his vote for George Belvoir,--a plumper."

"I suppose," said Kenelm to himself, and with that candour which
characterized him whenever he talked to himself, "that Travers has
taken the right road to the Temple, not of Honour, but of honours, in
every country, ancient or modern, which has adopted the system of
popular suffrage."



CHAPTER XVII.

THE next day Mrs. Campion and Cecilia were seated under the veranda.
They were both ostensibly employed on two several pieces of
embroidery, one intended for a screen, the other for a sofa-cushion;
but the mind of neither was on her work.

MRS. CAMPION.--"Has Mr. Chillingly said when he means to take leave?"

CECILIA.--"Not to me. How much my dear father enjoys his
conversation!"

MRS. CAMPION.--"Cynicism and mockery were not so much the fashion
among young men in your father's day as I suppose they are now, and
therefore they seem new to Mr. Travers. To me they are not new,
because I saw more of the old than the young when I lived in London,
and cynicism and mockery are more natural to men who are leaving the
world than to those who are entering it."

CECILIA.--"Dear Mrs. Campion, how bitter you are, and how unjust! You
take much too literally the jesting way in which Mr. Chillingly
expresses himself. There can be no cynicism in one who goes out of
his way to make others happy."

MRS. CAMPION.--"You mean in the whim of making an ill-assorted
marriage between a pretty village flirt and a sickly cripple, and
settling a couple of peasants in a business for which they are wholly
unfitted."

CECILIA.--"Jessie Wiles is not a flirt, and I am convinced that she
will make Will Somers a very good wife, and that the shop will be a
great success."

MRS. CAMPION.--"We shall see. Still, if Mr. Chillingly's talk belies
his actions, he may be a good man, but he is a very affected one."

CECILIA.--"Have I not heard you say that there are persons so natural
that they seem affected to those who do not understand them?"

Mrs. Campion raised her eyes to Cecilia's face, dropped them again
over her work, and said, in grave undertones,--"Take care, Cecilia."

"Take care of what?"

"My dearest child, forgive me; but I do not like the warmth with which
you defend Mr. Chillingly."

"Would not my father defend him still more warmly if he had heard
you?"

"Men judge of men in their relations to men. I am a woman, and judge
of men in their relations to women. I should tremble for the
happiness of any woman who joined her fate with that of Kenelm
Chillingly."

"My dear friend, I do not understand you to-day."

"Nay; I did not mean to be so solemn, my love. After all, it is
nothing to us whom Mr. Chillingly may or may not marry. He is but a
passing visitor, and, once gone, the chances are that we may not see
him again for years."

Thus speaking, Mrs. Campion again raised her eyes from her work,
stealing a sidelong glance at Cecilia; and her mother-like heart sank
within her, on noticing how suddenly pale the girl had become, and how
her lips quivered. Mrs. Campion had enough knowledge of life to feel
aware that she had committed a grievous blunder. In that earliest
stage of virgin affection, when a girl is unconscious of more than a
certain vague interest in one man which distinguishes him from others
in her thoughts,--if she hears him unjustly disparaged, if some
warning against him is implied, if the probability that he will never
be more to her than a passing acquaintance is forcibly obtruded on
her,--suddenly that vague interest, which might otherwise have faded
away with many another girlish fancy, becomes arrested, consolidated;
the quick pang it occasions makes her involuntarily, and for the first
time, question herself, and ask, "Do I love?" But when a girl of a
nature so delicate as that of Cecilia Travers can ask herself the
question, "Do I love?" her very modesty, her very shrinking from
acknowledging that any power over her thoughts for weal or for woe can
be acquired by a man, except through the sanction of that love which
only becomes divine in her eyes when it is earnest and pure and
self-devoted, makes her prematurely disposed to answer "yes." And
when a girl of such a nature in her own heart answers "yes" to such a
question, even if she deceive herself at the moment, she begins to
cherish the deceit till the belief in her love becomes a reality. She
has adopted a religion, false or true, and she would despise herself
if she could be easily converted.

Mrs. Campion had so contrived that she had forced that question upon
Cecilia, and she feared, by the girl's change of countenance, that the
girl's heart had answered "yes."



CHAPTER XVIII.

WHILE the conversation just narrated took place, Kenelm had walked
forth to pay a visit to Will Somers. All obstacles to Will's marriage
were now cleared away; the transfer of lease for the shop had been
signed, and the banns were to be published for the first time on the
following Sunday. We need not say that Will was very happy. Kenelm
then paid a visit to Mrs. Bowles, with whom he stayed an hour. On
reentering the Park, he saw Travers, walking slowly, with downcast
eyes and his hands clasped behind him (his habit when in thought). He
did not observe Kenelm's approach till within a few feet of him, and
he then greeted his guest in listless accents, unlike his usual
cheerful tones.

"I have been visiting the man you have made so happy," said Kenelm.

"Who can that be?"

"Will Somers. Do you make so many people happy that your reminiscence
of them is lost in their number?"

Travers smiled faintly, and shook his head.

Kenelm went on. "I have also seen Mrs. Bowles, and you will be
pleased to hear that Tom is satisfied with his change of abode: there
is no chance of his returning to Graveleigh; and Mrs. Bowles took very
kindly to my suggestion that the little property you wish for should
be sold to you, and, in that case, she would remove to Luscombe to be
near her son."

"I thank you much for your thought of me," said Travers, "and the
affair shall be seen to at once, though the purchase is no longer
important to me. I ought to have told you three days ago, but it
slipped my memory, that a neighbouring squire, a young fellow just
come into his property, has offered to exchange a capital farm, much
nearer to my residence, for the lands I hold in Graveleigh, including
Saunderson's farm and the cottages: they are quite at the outskirts of
my estate, but run into his, and the exchange will be advantageous to
both. Still I am glad that the neighbourhood should be thoroughly rid
of a brute like Tom Bowles."

"You would not call him brute if you knew him; but I am sorry to hear
that Will Somers will be under another landlord."

"It does not matter, since his tenure is secured for fourteen years."

"What sort of man is the new landlord?"

"I don't know much of him. He was in the army till his father died,
and has only just made his appearance in the county. He has, however,
already earned the character of being too fond of the other sex: it is
well that pretty Jessie is to be safely married."

Travers then relapsed into a moody silence from which Kenelm found it
difficult to rouse him. At length the latter said kindly,--

"My dear Mr. Travers, do not think I take a liberty if I venture to
guess that something has happened this morning which troubles or vexes
you. When that is the case, it is often a relief to say what it is,
even to a confidant so unable to advise or to comfort as myself."

"You are a good fellow, Chillingly, and I know not, at least in these
parts, a man to whom I would unburden myself more freely. I am put
out, I confess; disappointed unreasonably, in a cherished wish, and,"
he added, with a slight laugh, "it always annoys me when I don't have
my own way."

"So it does me."

"Don't you think that George Belvoir is a very fine young man?"

"Certainly."

"_I_ call him handsome; he is steadier, too, than most men of his age,
and of his command of money; and yet he does not want spirit nor
knowledge of life. To every advantage of rank and fortune he adds the
industry and the ambition which attain distinction in public life."

"Quite true. Is he going to withdraw from the election after all?"

"Good heavens, no!"

"Then how does he not let you have your own way?"

"It is not he," said Travers, peevishly; "it is Cecilia. Don't you
understand that George is precisely the husband I would choose for
her; and this morning came a very well written manly letter from him,
asking my permission to pay his addresses to her."

"But that is your own way so far."

"Yes, and here comes the balk. Of course I had to refer it to
Cecilia, and she positively declines, and has no reasons to give; does
not deny that George is good-looking and sensible, that he is a man of
whose preference any girl might be proud; but she chooses to say she
cannot love him, and when I ask why she cannot love him, has no other
answer than that 'she cannot say.' It is too provoking."

"It is provoking," answered Kenelm; "but then Love is the most
dunderheaded of all the passions; it never will listen to reason. The
very rudiments of logic are unknown to it. 'Love has no wherefore,'
says one of those Latin poets who wrote love-verses called elegies,--a
name which we moderns appropriate to funeral dirges. For my own part,
I can't understand how any one can be expected voluntarily to make up
his mind to go out of his mind. And if Miss Travers cannot go out of
her mind because George Belvoir does, you could not argue her into
doing so if you talked till doomsday."

Travers smiled in spite of himself, but he answered gravely,
"Certainly, I would not wish Cissy to marry any man she disliked, but
she does not dislike George; no girl could: and where that is the
case, a girl so sensible, so affectionate, so well brought up, is sure
to love, after marriage, a thoroughly kind and estimable man,
especially when she has no previous attachment,--which, of course,
Cissy never had. In fact, though I do not wish to force my daughter's
will, I am not yet disposed to give up my own. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly."

"I am the more inclined to a marriage so desirable in every way,
because when Cissy comes out in London, which she has not yet done,
she is sure to collect round her face and her presumptive inheritance
all the handsome fortune-hunters and titled _vauriens_; and if in love
there is no wherefore, how can I be sure that she may not fall in love
with a scamp?"

"I think you may be sure of that," said Kenelm. "Miss Travers has too
much mind."

"Yes, at present; but did you not say that in love people go out of
their mind?"

"True! I forgot that."

"I am not then disposed to dismiss poor George's offer with a decided
negative, and yet it would be unfair to mislead him by encouragement.
In fact, I'll be hanged if I know how to reply."

"You think Miss Travers does not dislike George Belvoir, and if she
saw more of him may like him better, and it would be good for her as
well as for him not to put an end to that, chance?"

"Exactly so."

"Why not then write: 'My dear George,--You have my best wishes, but my
daughter does not seem disposed to marry at present. Let me consider
your letter not written, and continue on the same terms as we were
before.' Perhaps, as George knows Virgil, you might find your own
schoolboy recollections of that poet useful here, and add, _Varium et
mutabile semper femina_; hackneyed, but true."

"My dear Chillingly, your suggestion is capital. How the deuce at
your age have you contrived to know the world so well?"

Kenelm answered in the pathetic tones so natural to his voice, "By
being only a looker-on; alas!"

Leopold Travers felt much relieved after he had written his reply to
George. He had not been quite so ingenuous in his revelation to
Chillingly as he may have seemed. Conscious, like all proud and fond
fathers, of his daughter's attractions, he was not without some
apprehension that Kenelm himself might entertain an ambition at
variance with that of George Belvoir: if so, he deemed it well to put
an end to such ambition while yet in time: partly because his interest
was already pledged to George; partly because, in rank and fortune,
George was the better match; partly because George was of the same
political party as himself,--while Sir Peter, and probably Sir Peter's
heir, espoused the opposite side; and partly also because, with all
his personal liking to Kenelm, Leopold Travers, as a very sensible,
practical man of the world, was not sure that a baronet's heir who
tramped the country on foot in the dress of a petty farmer, and
indulged pugilistic propensities in martial encounters with stalwart
farriers, was likely to make a safe husband and a comfortable
son-in-law. Kenelm's words, and still more his manner, convinced
Travers that any apprehensions of rivalry that he had previously
conceived were utterly groundless.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE same evening, after dinner (during that lovely summer month they
dined at Neesdale Park at an unfashionably early hour), Kenelm, in
company with Travers and Cecilia, ascended a gentle eminence at the
back of the gardens, on which there were some picturesque ivy-grown
ruins of an ancient priory, and commanding the best view of a glorious
sunset and a subject landscape of vale and wood, rivulet and distant
hills.

"Is the delight in scenery," said Kenelm, "really an acquired gift, as
some philosophers tell us? Is it true that young children and rude
savages do not feel it; that the eye must be educated to comprehend
its charm, and that the eye can be only educated through the mind?"

"I should think your philosophers are right," said Travers. "When I
was a schoolboy, I thought no scenery was like the flat of a cricket
ground; when I hunted at Melton, I thought that unpicturesque country
more beautiful than Devonshire. It is only of late years that I feel
a sensible pleasure in scenery for its own sake, apart from
associations of custom or the uses to which we apply them."

"And what say you, Miss Travers?"

"I scarcely know what to say," answered Cecilia, musingly. "I can
remember no time in my childhood when I did not feel delight in that
which seemed to me beautiful in scenery, but I suspect that I vaguely
distinguished one kind of beauty from another. A common field with
daisies and buttercups was beautiful to me then, and I doubt if I saw
anything more beautiful in extensive landscapes."

"True," said Kenelm: "it is not in early childhood that we carry the
sight into distance: as is the mind so is the eye; in early childhood
the mind revels in the present, and the eye rejoices most in the
things nearest to it. I don't think in childhood that we--

 "'Watched with wistful eyes the setting sun.'"

"Ah! what a world of thought in that word 'wistful'!" murmured
Cecilia, as her gaze riveted itself on the western heavens, towards
which Kenelm had pointed as he spoke, where the enlarging orb rested
half its disk on the rim of the horizon.

She had seated herself on a fragment of the ruin, backed by the
hollows of a broken arch. The last rays of the sun lingered on her
young face, and then lost themselves in the gloom of the arch behind.
There was a silence for some minutes, during which the sun had sunk.
Rosy clouds in thin flakes still floated, momently waning: and the
eve-star stole forth steadfast, bright, and lonely,--nay, lonely not
now; that sentinel has aroused a host.

Said a voice, "No sign of rain yet, Squire. What will become of the
turnips?"

"Real life again! Who can escape it?" muttered Kenelm, as his eye
rested on the burly figure of the Squire's bailiff.

"Ha! North," said Travers, "what brings you here? No bad news, I
hope?"

"Indeed, yes, Squire. The Durham bull--"

"The Durham bull! What of him? You frighten me."

"Taken bad. Colic."

"Excuse me, Chillingly," cried Travers; "I must be off. A most
valuable animal, and no one I can trust to doctor him but myself."

"That's true enough," said the bailiff, admiringly. "There's not a
veterinary in the county like the Squire."

Travers was already gone, and the panting bailiff had hard work to
catch him up.

Kenelm seated himself beside Cecilia on the ruined fragment.

"How I envy your father!" said he.

"Why just at this moment,--because he knows how to doctor the bull?"
said Cecilia, with a sweet low laugh.

"Well, that is something to envy. It is a pleasure to relieve from
pain any of God's creatures,--even a Durham bull."

"Indeed, yes. I am justly rebuked."

"On the contrary you are to be justly praised. Your question
suggested to me an amiable sentiment in place of the selfish one which
was uppermost in my thoughts. I envied your father because he creates
for himself so many objects of interest; because while he can
appreciate the mere sensuous enjoyment of a landscape and a sunset, he
can find mental excitement in turnip crops and bulls. Happy, Miss
Travers, is the Practical Man."

"When my dear father was as young as you, Mr. Chillingly, I am sure
that he had no more interest in turnips and bulls than you have. I do
not doubt that some day you will be as practical as he is in that
respect."

"Do you think so--sincerely?"

Cecilia made no answer.

Kenelm repeated the question.

"Sincerely, then, I do not know whether you will take interest in
precisely the same things that interest my father; but there are other
things than turnips and cattle which belong to what you call
'practical life,' and in these you will take interest, as you took in
the fortunes of Will Somers and Jessie Wiles."

"That was no practical interest. I got nothing by it. But even if
that interest were practical,--I mean productive, as cattle and turnip
crops are,--a succession of Somerses and Wileses is not to be hoped
for. History never repeats itself."

"May I answer you, though very humbly?"

"Miss Travers, the wisest man that ever existed never was wise enough
to know woman; but I think most men ordinarily wise will agree in
this, that woman is by no means a humble creature, and that when she
says she 'answers very humbly,' she does not mean what she says.
Permit me to entreat you to answer very loftily."

Cecilia laughed and blushed. The laugh was musical; the blush
was--what? Let any man, seated beside a girl like Cecilia at starry
twilight, find the right epithet for that blush. I pass it by
epithetless. But she answered, firmly though sweetly,--

"Are there not things very practical, and affecting the happiness, not
of one or two individuals, but of innumerable thousands, in which a
man like Mr. Chillingly cannot fail to feel interest, long before he
is my father's age?"

"Forgive me: you do not answer; you question. I imitate you, and ask
what are those things as applicable to a man like Mr. Chillingly?"

Cecilia gathered herself up, as with the desire to express a great
deal in short substance, and then said,--

"In the expression of thought, literature; in the conduct of action,
politics."

Kenelm Chillingly stared, dumfounded. I suppose the greatest
enthusiast for woman's rights could not assert more reverentially than
he did the cleverness of women; but among the things which the
cleverness of woman did not achieve, he had always placed "laconics."
"No woman," he was wont to say, "ever invented an axiom or a proverb."

"Miss Travers," he said at last, "before we proceed further, vouchsafe
to tell me if that very terse reply of yours is spontaneous and
original; or whether you have not borrowed it from some book which I
have not chanced to read?"

Cecilia pondered honestly, and then said, "I don't think it is from
any book; but I owe so many of my thoughts to Mrs. Campion, and she
lived so much among clever men, that--"

"I see it all, and accept your definition, no matter whence it came.
You think I might become an author or a politician. Did you ever read
an essay by a living author called 'Motive Power'?"

"No."

"That essay is designed to intimate that without motive power a man,
whatever his talents or his culture, does nothing practical. The
mainsprings of motive power are Want and Ambition. They are absent
from my mechanism. By the accident of birth I do not require bread
and cheese; by the accident of temperament and of philosophical
culture I care nothing about praise or blame. But without want of
bread and cheese, and with a most stolid indifference to praise and
blame, do you honestly think that a man will do anything practical in
literature or politics? Ask Mrs. Campion."

"I will not ask her. Is the sense of duty nothing?"

"Alas! we interpret duty so variously. Of mere duty, as we commonly
understand the word, I do not think I shall fail more than other men.
But for the fair development of all the good that is in us, do you
believe that we should adopt some line of conduct against which our
whole heart rebels? Can you say to the clerk, 'Be a poet'? Can you
say to the poet, 'Be a clerk'? It is no more to the happiness of a
man's being to order him to take to one career when his whole heart is
set on another, than it is to order him to marry one woman when it is
to another woman that his heart will turn."

Cecilia here winced and looked away. Kenelm had more tact than most
men of his age,--that is, a keener perception of subjects to avoid;
but then Kenelm had a wretched habit of forgetting the person he
talked to and talking to himself. Utterly oblivious of George
Belvoir, he was talking to himself now. Not then observing the effect
his _mal-a-propos_ dogma had produced on his listener, he went on,
"Happiness is a word very lightly used. It may mean little; it may
mean much. By the word happiness I would signify, not the momentary
joy of a child who gets a plaything, but the lasting harmony between
our inclinations and our objects; and without that harmony we are a
discord to ourselves, we are incompletions, we are failures. Yet
there are plenty of advisers who say to us, 'It is a duty to be a
discord.' I deny it."

Here Cecilia rose and said in a low voice, "It is getting late. We
must go homeward."

They descended the green eminence slowly, and at first in silence.
The bats, emerging from the ivied ruins they left behind, flitted and
skimmed before them, chasing the insects of the night. A moth,
escaping from its pursuer, alighted on Cecilia's breast, as if for
refuge.

"The bats are practical," said Kenelm; "they are hungry, and their
motive power to-night is strong. Their interest is in the insects
they chase. They have no interest in the stars; but the stars lure
the moth."

Cecilia drew her slight scarf over the moth, so that it might not fly
off and become a prey to the bats. "Yet," said she, "the moth is
practical too."

"Ay, just now, since it has found an asylum from the danger that
threatened it in its course towards the stars."

Cecilia felt the beating of her heart, upon which lay the moth
concealed. Did she think that a deeper and more tender meaning than
they outwardly expressed was couched in these words? If so, she
erred. They now neared the garden gate, and Kenelm paused as he
opened it. "See," he said, "the moon has just risen over those dark
firs, making the still night stiller. Is it not strange that we
mortals, placed amid perpetual agitation and tumult and strife, as if
our natural element, conceive a sense of holiness in the images
antagonistic to our real life; I mean in images of repose? I feel at
the moment as if I suddenly were made better, now that heaven and
earth have suddenly become yet more tranquil. I am now conscious of a
purer and sweeter moral than either I or you drew from the insect you
have sheltered. I must come to the poets to express it,--


 "'The desire of the moth for the star,
   Of the night for the morrow;
  The devotion to something afar
   From the sphere of our sorrow.'


"Oh, that something afar! that something afar! never to be reached on
this earth,--never, never!"

There was such a wail in that cry from the man's heart that Cecilia
could not resist the impulse of a divine compassion. She laid her
hand on his, and looked on the dark wildness of his upward face with
eyes that Heaven meant to be wells of comfort to grieving man. At the
light touch of that hand Kenelm started, looked down, and met those
soothing eyes.

"I am happy to tell you that I have saved my Durham," cried out Mr.
Travers from the other side of the gate.



CHAPTER XX.

AS Kenelm that night retired to his own room, he paused on the
landing-place opposite to the portrait which Mr. Travers had consigned
to that desolate exile. This daughter of a race dishonoured in its
extinction might well have been the glory of the house she had entered
as a bride. The countenance was singularly beautiful, and of a
character of beauty eminently patrician; there was in its expression a
gentleness and modesty not often found in the female portraits of Sir
Peter Lely, and in the eyes and in the smile a wonderful aspect of
innocent happiness.

"What a speaking homily," soliloquized Kenelm, addressing the picture,
"against the ambition thy fair descendant would awake in me, art thou,
O lovely image! For generations thy beauty lived in this canvas, a
thing of joy, the pride of the race it adorned. Owner after owner
said to admiring guests, 'Yes, a fine portrait, by Lely; she was my
ancestress,--a Fletwode of Fletwode.' Now, lest guests should
remember that a Fletwode married a Travers thou art thrust out of
sight; not even Lely's art can make thee of value, can redeem thine
innocent self from disgrace. And the last of the Fletwodes, doubtless
the most ambitious of all, the most bent on restoring and regilding
the old lordly name, dies a felon; the infamy of one living man is so
large that it can blot out the honour of the dead." He turned his
eyes from the smile of the portrait, entered his own room, and,
seating himself by the writing-table, drew blotting-book and
note-paper towards him, took up the pen, and instead of writing fell
into deep revery. There was a slight frown on his brow, on which
frowns were rare. He was very angry with himself.

"Kenelm," he said, entering into his customary dialogue with that
self, "it becomes you, forsooth, to moralize about the honour of races
which have no affinity with you. Son of Sir Peter Chillingly, look at
home. Are you quite sure that you have not said or done or looked a
something that may bring trouble to the hearth on which you are
received as guest? What right had you to be moaning forth your
egotisms, not remembering that your words fell on compassionate ears,
and that such words, heard at moonlight by a girl whose heart they
move to pity, may have dangers for her peace? Shame on you, Kenelm!
shame! knowing too what her father's wish is; and knowing too that you
have not the excuse of desiring to win that fair creature for
yourself. What do you mean, Kenelm? I don't hear you; speak out. Oh,
'that I am a vain coxcomb to fancy that she could take a fancy to me:'
well, perhaps I am; I hope so earnestly; and at all events, there has
been and shall be no time for much mischief. We are off to-morrow,
Kenelm; bestir yourself and pack up, write your letters, and then 'put
out the light,--put out _the_ light!'"

But this converser with himself did not immediately set to work, as
agreed upon by that twofold one. He rose and walked restlessly to and
fro the floor, stopping ever and anon to look at the pictures on the
walls.

Several of the worst painted of the family portraits had been
consigned to the room tenanted by Kenelm, which, though both the
oldest and largest bed-chamber in the house, was always appropriated
to a bachelor male guest, partly because it was without dressing-room,
remote, and only approached by the small back-staircase, to the
landing-place of which Arabella had been banished in disgrace; and
partly because it had the reputation of being haunted, and ladies are
more alarmed by that superstition than men are supposed to be. The
portraits on which Kenelm now paused to gaze were of various dates,
from the reign of Elizabeth to that of George III., none of them by
eminent artists, and none of them the effigies of ancestors who had
left names in history,--in short, such portraits as are often seen in
the country houses of well-born squires. One family type of features
or expression pervaded most of these portraits; features clear-cut and
hardy, expression open and honest. And though not one of those dead
men had been famous, each of them had contributed his unostentatious
share, in his own simple way, to the movements of his time. That
worthy in ruff and corselet had manned his own ship at his own cost
against the Armada; never had been repaid by the thrifty Burleigh the
expenses which had harassed him and diminished his patrimony; never
had been even knighted. That gentleman with short straight hair,
which overhung his forehead, leaning on his sword with one hand, and a
book open in the other hand, had served as representative of his
county town in the Long Parliament, fought under Cromwell at Marston
Moor, and, resisting the Protector when he removed the "bauble," was
one of the patriots incarcerated in "Hell hole." He, too, had
diminished his patrimony, maintaining two troopers and two horses at
his own charge, and "Hell hole" was all he got in return. A third,
with a sleeker expression of countenance, and a large wig, flourishing
in the quiet times of Charles II., had only been a justice of the
peace, but his alert look showed that he had been a very active one.
He had neither increased nor diminished his ancestral fortune. A
fourth, in the costume of William III.'s reign, had somewhat added to
the patrimony by becoming a lawyer. He must have been a successful
one. He is inscribed "Sergeant-at-law." A fifth, a lieutenant in the
army, was killed at Blenheim; his portrait was that of a very young
and handsome man, taken the year before his death. His wife's
portrait is placed in the drawing-room because it was painted by
Kneller. She was handsome too, and married again a nobleman, whose
portrait, of course, was not in the family collection. Here there was
a gap in chronological arrangement, the lieutenant's heir being an
infant; but in the time of George II. another Travers appeared as the
governor of a West India colony. His son took part in a very
different movement of the age. He is represented old, venerable, with
white hair, and underneath his effigy is inscribed, "Follower of
Wesley." His successor completes the collection. He is in naval
uniform; he is in full length, and one of his legs is a wooden one.
He is Captain, R.N., and inscribed, "Fought under Nelson at
Trafalgar." That portrait would have found more dignified place in
the reception-rooms if the face had not been forbiddingly ugly, and
the picture itself a villanous daub.

"I see," said Kenelm, stopping short, "why Cecilia Travers has been
reared to talk of duty as a practical interest in life. These men of
a former time seem to have lived to discharge a duty, and not to
follow the progress of the age in the chase of a money-bag,--except
perhaps one, but then to be sure he was a lawyer. Kenelm, rouse up
and listen to me; whatever we are, whether active or indolent, is not
my favourite maxim a just and a true one; namely, 'A good man does
good by living'? But, for that, he must be a harmony and not a
discord. Kenelm, you lazy dog, we must pack up."

Kenelm then refilled his portmanteau, and labelled and directed it to
Exmundham, after which he wrote these three notes:--


NOTE I.

TO THE MARCHIONESS OF GLENALVON.

MY DEAR FRIEND AND MONITRESS,--I have left your last letter a month
unanswered. I could not reply to your congratulations on the event of
my attaining the age of twenty-one. That event is a conventional
sham, and you know how I abhor shams and conventions. The truth is
that I am either much younger than twenty-one or much older. As to
all designs on my peace in standing for our county at the next
election, I wished to defeat them, and I have done so; and now I have
commenced a course of travel. I had intended on starting to confine
it to my native country. Intentions are mutable. I am going abroad.
You shall hear of my whereabout. I write this from the house of
Leopold Travers, who, I understand from his fair daughter, is a
connection of yours; a man to be highly esteemed and cordially liked.

No, in spite of all your flattering predictions, I shall never be
anything in this life more distinguished than what I am now. Lady
Glenalvon allows me to sign myself her grateful friend,

K. C.


NOTE II.

DEAR COUSIN MIVERS,--I am going abroad. I may want money; for, in
order to rouse motive power within me, I mean to want money if I can.
When I was a boy of sixteen you offered me money to write attacks upon
veteran authors for "The Londoner." Will you give me money now for a
similar display of that grand New Idea of our generation; namely, that
the less a man knows of a subject the better he understands it? I am
about to travel into countries which I have never seen, and among
races I have never known. My arbitrary judgments on both will be
invaluable to "The Londoner" from a Special Correspondent who shares
your respect for the anonymous, and whose name is never to be
divulged. Direct your answer by return to me, _poste restante_,
Calais.

Yours truly,

K. C.


NOTE III.

MY DEAR FATHER,--I found your letter here, whence I depart to-morrow.
Excuse haste. I go abroad, and shall write to you from Calais.

I admire Leopold Travers very much. After all, how much of
self-balance there is in a true English gentleman! Toss him up and
down where you will, and he always alights on his feet,--a gentleman.
He has one child, a daughter named Cecilia,--handsome enough to allure
into wedlock any mortal whom Decimus Roach had not convinced that in
celibacy lay the right "Approach to the Angels." Moreover, she is a
girl whom one can talk with. Even you could talk with her. Travers
wishes her to marry a very respectable, good-looking, promising
gentleman, in every way "suitable," as they say. And if she does, she
will rival that pink and perfection of polished womanhood, Lady
Glenalvon. I send you back my portmanteau. I have pretty well
exhausted my experience-money, but have not yet encroached on my
monthly allowance. I mean still to live upon that, eking it out, if
necessary, by the sweat of my brow or brains. But if any case
requiring extra funds should occur,--a case in which that extra would
do such real good to another that I feel _you_ would do it,--why, I
must draw a check on your bankers. But understand that is your
expense, not mine, and it is _you_ who are to be repaid in Heaven.
Dear father, how I do love and honour you every day more and more!
Promise you not to propose to any young lady till I come first to you
for consent!--oh, my dear father, how could you doubt it? how doubt
that I could not be happy with any wife whom you could not love as a
daughter? Accept that promise as sacred. But I wish you had asked me
something in which obedience was not much too facile to be a test of
duty. I could not have obeyed you more cheerfully if you had asked me
to promise never to propose to any young lady at all. Had you asked
me to promise that I would renounce the dignity of reason for the
frenzy of love, or the freedom of man for the servitude of husband,
then I might have sought to achieve the impossible; but I should have
died in the effort!--and thou wouldst have known that remorse which
haunts the bed of the tyrant.

Your affectionate son,

K. C.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE next morning Kenelm surprised the party at breakfast by appearing
in the coarse habiliments in which he had first made his host's
acquaintance. He did not glance towards Cecilia when he announced his
departure; but, his eye resting on Mrs. Campion, he smiled, perhaps a
little sadly, at seeing her countenance brighten up and hearing her
give a short sigh of relief. Travers tried hard to induce him to stay
a few days longer, but Kenelm was firm. "The summer is wearing away,"
said he, "and I have far to go before the flowers fade and the snows
fall. On the third night from this I shall sleep on foreign soil."

"You are going abroad, then?" asked Mrs. Campion.

"Yes."

"A sudden resolution, Mr. Chillingly. The other day you talked of
visiting the Scotch lakes."

"True; but, on reflection, they will be crowded with holiday tourists,
many of whom I shall probably know. Abroad I shall be free, for I
shall be unknown."

"I suppose you will be back for the hunting season," said Travers.

"I think not. I do not hunt foxes."

"Probably we shall at all events meet in London," said Travers. "I
think, after long rustication, that a season or two in the bustling
capital may be a salutary change for mind as well as for body; and it
is time that Cecilia were presented and her court-dress specially
commemorated in the columns of the 'Morning Post.'"

Cecilia was seemingly too busied behind the tea-urn to heed this
reference to her debut.

"I shall miss you terribly," cried Travers, a few moments afterwards,
and with a hearty emphasis. "I declare that you have quite unsettled
me. Your quaint sayings will be ringing in my ears long after you are
gone."

There was a rustle as of a woman's dress in sudden change of movement
behind the tea-urn.

"Cissy," said Mrs. Campion, "are we ever to have our tea?"

"I beg pardon," answered a voice behind the urn. "I hear Pompey" (the
Skye terrier) "whining on the lawn. They have shut him out. I will
be back presently."

Cecilia rose and was gone. Mrs. Campion took her place at the
tea-urn.

"It is quite absurd of Cissy to be so fond of that hideous dog," said
Travers, petulantly.

"Its hideousness is its beauty," returned Mrs. Campion, laughing.
"Mr. Belvoir selected it for her as having the longest back and the
shortest legs of any dog he could find in Scotland."

"Ah, George gave it to her; I forgot that," said Travers, laughing
pleasantly.

It was some minutes before Miss Travers returned with the Skye
terrier, and she seemed to have recovered her spirits in regaining
that ornamental accession to the party; talking very quickly and
gayly, and with flushed cheeks, like a young person excited by her own
overflow of mirth.

But when, half an hour afterwards, Kenelm took leave of her and Mrs.
Campion at the hall-door, the flush was gone, her lips were tightly
compressed, and her parting words were not audible. Then, as his
figure (side by side with her father, who accompanied his guest to the
lodge) swiftly passed across the lawn and vanished amid the trees
beyond, Mrs. Campion wound a mother-like arm around her waist and
kissed her. Cecilia shivered and turned her face to her friend
smiling; but such a smile,--one of those smiles that seem brimful of
tears.

"Thank you, dear," she said meekly; and, gliding away towards the
flower-garden, lingered a while by the gate which Kenelm had opened
the night before. Then she went with languid steps up the green
slopes towards the ruined priory.



BOOK IV.



CHAPTER I.

IT is somewhat more than a year and a half since Kenelm Chillingly
left England, and the scene now is in London, during that earlier and
more sociable season which precedes the Easter holidays,--season in
which the charm of intellectual companionship is not yet withered away
in the heated atmosphere of crowded rooms,--season in which parties
are small, and conversation extends beyond the interchange of
commonplace with one's next neighbour at a dinner-table,--season in
which you have a fair chance of finding your warmest friends not
absorbed by the superior claims of their chilliest acquaintances.

There was what is called a _conversazione_ at the house of one of
those Whig noblemen who yet retain the graceful art of bringing
agreeable people together, and collecting round them the true
aristocracy, which combines letters and art and science with
hereditary rank and political distinction,--that art which was the
happy secret of the Lansdownes and Hollands of the last generation.
Lord Beaumanoir was himself a genial, well-read man, a good judge of
art, and a pleasant talker. He had a charming wife, devoted to him
and to her children, but with enough love of general approbation to
make herself as popular in the fashionable world as if she sought in
its gayeties a refuge from the dulness of domestic life.

Amongst the guests at the Beaumanoirs, this evening were two men,
seated apart in a small room, and conversing familiarly. The one
might be about fifty-four; he was tall, strongly built, but not
corpulent, somewhat bald, with black eyebrows, dark eyes, bright and
keen, mobile lips round which there played a shrewd and sometimes
sarcastic smile.

This gentleman, the Right Hon. Gerard Danvers, was a very influential
member of Parliament. He had, when young for English public life,
attained to high office; but--partly from a great distaste to the
drudgery of administration; partly from a pride of temperament, which
unfitted him for the subordination that a Cabinet owes to its chief;
partly, also, from a not uncommon kind of epicurean philosophy, at
once joyous and cynical, which sought the pleasures of life and held
very cheap its honours--he had obstinately declined to re-enter
office, and only spoke on rare occasions. On such occasions he
carried great weight, and, by the brief expression of his opinions,
commanded more votes than many an orator infinitely more eloquent.
Despite his want of ambition, he was fond of power in his own
way,--power over the people who _had_ power; and, in the love of
political intrigue, he found an amusement for an intellect very subtle
and very active. At this moment he was bent on a new combination
among the leaders of different sections in the same party, by which
certain veterans were to retire, and certain younger men to be
admitted into the Administration. It was an amiable feature in his
character that he had a sympathy with the young, and had helped to
bring into Parliament, as well as into office, some of the ablest of a
generation later than his own. He gave them sensible counsel, was
pleased when they succeeded, and encouraged them when they
failed,--always provided that they had stuff enough in them to redeem
the failure; if not, he gently dropped them from his intimacy, but
maintained sufficiently familiar terms with them to be pretty sure
that he could influence their votes whenever he so desired.

The gentleman with whom he was now conversing was young, about
five-and-twenty; not yet in Parliament, but with an intense desire to
obtain a seat in it, and with one of those reputations which a youth
carries away from school and college, justified, not by honours purely
academical, but by an impression of ability and power created on the
minds of his contemporaries and endorsed by his elders. He had done
little at the University beyond taking a fair degree, except acquiring
at the debating society the fame of an exceedingly ready and adroit
speaker. On quitting college he had written one or two political
articles in a quarterly review, which created a sensation; and though
belonging to no profession, and having but a small yet independent
income, society was very civil to him, as to a man who would some day
or other attain a position in which he could damage his enemies and
serve his friends. Something in this young man's countenance and
bearing tended to favour the credit given to his ability and his
promise. In his countenance there was no beauty; in his bearing no
elegance. But in that countenance there was vigour, there was energy,
there was audacity. A forehead wide but low, protuberant in those
organs over the brow which indicate the qualities fitted for
perception and judgment,--qualities for every-day life; eyes of the
clear English blue, small, somewhat sunken, vigilant, sagacious,
penetrating; a long straight upper lip, significant of resolute
purpose; a mouth in which a student of physiognomy would have detected
a dangerous charm. The smile was captivating, but it was artificial,
surrounded by dimples, and displaying teeth white, small, strong, but
divided from each other. The expression of that smile would have been
frank and candid to all who failed to notice that it was not in
harmony with the brooding forehead and the steely eye; that it seemed
to stand distinct from the rest of the face, like a feature that had
learned its part. There was that physical power in the back of the
head which belongs to men who make their way in life,--combative and
destructive. All gladiators have it; so have great debaters and great
reformers,--that is, reformers who can destroy, but not necessarily
reconstruct. So, too, in the bearing of the man there was a hardy
self-confidence, much too simple and unaffected for his worst enemy to
call it self-conceit. It was the bearing of one who knew how to
maintain personal dignity without seeming to care about it. Never
servile to the great, never arrogant to the little; so little
over-refined that it was never vulgar,--a popular bearing.

The room in which these gentlemen were seated was separated from the
general suite of apartments by a lobby off the landing-place, and
served for Lady Beaumanoir's boudoir. Very pretty it was, but simply
furnished, with chintz draperies. The walls were adorned with
drawings in water-colours, and precious specimens of china on fanciful
Parian brackets. At one corner, by a window that looked southward and
opened on a spacious balcony, glazed in and filled with flowers, stood
one of those high trellised screens, first invented, I believe, in
Vienna, and along which ivy is so trained as to form an arbour.

The recess thus constructed, and which was completely out of sight
from the rest of the room, was the hostess's favourite writing-nook.
The two men I have described were seated near the screen, and had
certainly no suspicion that any one could be behind it.

"Yes," said Mr. Danvers, from an ottoman niched in another recess of
the room, "I think there will be an opening at Saxboro' soon: Milroy
wants a Colonial Government; and if we can reconstruct the Cabinet as
I propose, he would get one. Saxboro' would thus be vacant. But, my
dear fellow, Saxboro' is a place to be wooed through love, and only
won through money. It demands liberalism from a candidate,--two kinds
of liberalism seldom united; the liberalism in opinion which is
natural enough to a very poor man, and the liberalism in expenditure
which is scarcely to be obtained except from a very rich one. You may
compute the cost of Saxboro' at L3000 to get in, and about L2000 more
to defend your seat against a petition,--the defeated candidate nearly
always petitions. L5000 is a large sum; and the worst of it is, that
the extreme opinions to which the member for Saxboro' must pledge
himself are a drawback to an official career. Violent politicians are
not the best raw material out of which to manufacture fortunate
placemen."

"The opinions do not so much matter; the expense does. I cannot
afford L5000, or even L3000."

"Would not Sir Peter assist? He has, you say, only one son; and if
anything happen to that son, you are the next heir."

"My father quarrelled with Sir Peter, and harassed him by an imprudent
and ungracious litigation. I scarcely think I could apply to him for
money to obtain a seat in Parliament upon the democratic side of the
question; for, though I know little of his politics, I take it for
granted that a country gentleman of old family and L10,000 a year
cannot well be a democrat."

"Then I presume you would not be a democrat if, by the death of your
cousin, you became heir to the Chillinglys."

"I am not sure what I might be in that case. There are times when a
democrat of ancient lineage and good estates could take a very high
place amongst the aristocracy."

"Humph! my dear Gordon, _vous irez loin_."

"I hope to do so. Measuring myself against the men of my own day, I
do not see many who should outstrip me."

"What sort of a fellow is your cousin Kenelm? I met him once or twice
when he was very young, and reading with Welby in London. People then
said that he was very clever; he struck me as very odd."

"I never saw him, but from all I hear, whether he be clever or whether
he be odd, he is not likely to do anything in life,--a dreamer."

"Writes poetry perhaps?"

"Capable of it, I dare say."

Just then some other guests came into the room, amongst them a lady of
an appearance at once singularly distinguished and singularly
prepossessing, rather above the common height, and with a certain
indescribable nobility of air and presence. Lady Glenalvon was one of
the queens of the London world, and no queen of that world was ever
less worldly or more queen-like. Side by side with the lady was Mr.
Chillingly Mivers. Gordon and Mivers interchanged friendly nods, and
the former sauntered away and was soon lost amid a crowd of other
young men, with whom, as he could converse well and lightly on things
which interested them, he was rather a favourite, though he was not an
intimate associate. Mr. Danvers retired into a corner of the
adjoining lobby, where he favoured the French ambassador with his
views on the state of Europe and the reconstruction of Cabinets in
general.

"But," said Lady Glenalvon to Chillingly Mivers, "are you quite sure
that my old young friend Kenelm is here? Since you told me so, I have
looked everywhere for him in vain. I should so much like to see him
again."

"I certainly caught a glimpse of him half an hour ago; but before I
could escape from a geologist who was boring me about the Silurian
system, Kenelm had vanished."

"Perhaps it was his ghost!"

"Well, we certainly live in the most credulous and superstitious age
upon record; and so many people tell me that they converse with the
dead under the table that it seems impertinent in me to say that I
don't believe in ghosts."

"Tell me some of those incomprehensible stories about table-rapping,"
said Lady Glenalvon. "There is a charming, snug recess here behind
the screen."

Scarcely had she entered the recess when she drew back with a start
and an exclamation of amaze. Seated at the table within the recess,
his chin resting on his hand, and his face cast down in abstracted
revery, was a young man. So still was his attitude, so calmly
mournful the expression of his face, so estranged did he seem from all
the motley but brilliant assemblage which circled around the solitude
he had made for himself, that he might well have been deemed one of
those visitants from another world whose secrets the intruder had
wished to learn. Of that intruder's presence he was evidently
unconscious. Recovering her surprise, she stole up to him, placed her
hand on his shoulder, and uttered his name in a low gentle voice. At
that sound Kenelm Chillingly looked up.

"Do you not remember me?" asked Lady Glenalvon. Before he could
answer, Mivers, who had followed the marchioness into the recess,
interposed.

"My dear Kenelm, how are you? When did you come to London? Why have
you not called on me; and what on earth are you hiding yourself for?"

Kenelm had now recovered the self-possession which he rarely lost long
in the presence of others. He returned cordially his kinsman's
greeting, and kissed with his wonted chivalrous grace the fair hand
which the lady withdrew from his shoulder and extended to his
pressure. "Remember you!" he said to Lady Glenalvon with the
kindliest expression of his soft dark eyes; "I am not so far advanced
towards the noon of life as to forget the sunshine that brightened its
morning. My dear Mivers, your questions are easily answered. I
arrived in England two weeks ago, stayed at Exmundham till this
morning, to-day dined with Lord Thetford, whose acquaintance I made
abroad, and was persuaded by him to come here and be introduced to his
father and mother, the Beaumanoirs. After I had undergone that
ceremony, the sight of so many strange faces frightened me into
shyness. Entering this room at a moment when it was quite deserted, I
resolved to turn hermit behind the screen."

"Why, you must have seen your cousin Gordon as you came into the
room."

"But you forget I don't know him by sight. However, there was no one
in the room when I entered; a little later some others came in, for I
heard a faint buzz, like that of persons talking in a whisper.
However, I was no eavesdropper, as a person behind a screen is on the
dramatic stage."

This was true. Even had Gordon and Danvers talked in a louder tone,
Kenelm had been too absorbed in his own thoughts to have heard a word
of their conversation.

"You ought to know young Gordon; he is a very clever fellow, and has
an ambition to enter Parliament. I hope no old family quarrel between
his bear of a father and dear Sir Peter will make you object to meet
him."

"Sir Peter is the most forgiving of men, but he would scarcely forgive
me if I declined to meet a cousin who had never offended him."

"Well said. Come and meet Gordon at breakfast to-morrow,--ten
o'clock. I am still in the old rooms."

While the kinsmen thus conversed, Lady Glenalvon had seated herself on
the couch beside Kenelm, and was quietly observing his countenance.
Now she spoke. "My dear Mr. Mivers, you will have many opportunities
of talking with Kenelm; do not grudge me five minutes' talk with him
now."

"I leave your ladyship alone in your hermitage. How all the men in
this assembly will envy the hermit!"



CHAPTER II.

"I AM glad to see you once more in the world," said Lady Glenalvon;
"and I trust that you are now prepared to take that part in it which
ought to be no mean one if you do justice to your talents and your
nature."

KENELM.--"When you go to the theatre, and see one of the pieces which
appear now to be the fashion, which would you rather be,--an actor or
a looker-on?"

LADY GLENALVON.--"My dear young friend, your question saddens me."
(After a pause.)--"But though I used a stage metaphor when I expressed
my hope that you would take no mean part in the world, the world is
not really a theatre. Life admits of no lookers-on. Speak to me
frankly, as you used to do. Your face retains its old melancholy
expression. Are you not happy?"

KENELM.--"Happy, as mortals go, I ought to be. I do not think I am
unhappy. If my temper be melancholic, melancholy has a happiness of
its own. Milton shows that there are as many charms in life to be
found on the _Penseroso_ side of it as there are on the _Allegro_."

LADY GLENALVON.--"Kenelm, you saved the life of my poor son, and when,
later, he was taken from me, I felt as if he had commended you to my
care. When at the age of sixteen, with a boy's years and a man's
heart, you came to London, did I not try to be to you almost as a
mother? and did you not often tell me that you could confide to me the
secrets of your heart more readily than to any other?"

"You were to me," said Kenelm, with emotion, "that most precious and
sustaining good genius which a youth can find at the threshold of
life,--a woman gently wise, kindly sympathizing, shaming him by the
spectacle of her own purity from all grosser errors, elevating him
from mean tastes and objects by the exquisite, ineffable loftiness of
soul which is only found in the noblest order of womanhood. Come, I
will open my heart to you still. I fear it is more wayward than ever.
It still feels estranged from the companionship and pursuits natural
to my age and station. However, I have been seeking to brace and
harden my nature, for the practical ends of life, by travel and
adventure, chiefly among rougher varieties of mankind than we meet in
drawing-rooms. Now, in compliance with the duty I owe to my dear
father's wishes, I come back to these circles, which under your
auspices I entered in boyhood, and which even then seemed to me so
inane and artificial. Take a part in the world of these circles; such
is your wish. My answer is brief. I have been doing my best to
acquire a motive power, and have not succeeded. I see nothing that I
care to strive for, nothing that I care to gain. The very times in
which we live are to me, as to Hamlet, out of joint; and I am not born
like Hamlet to set them right. Ah! if I could look on society through
the spectacles with which the poor hidalgo in 'Gil Blas' looked on his
meagre board,--spectacles by which cherries appear the size of
peaches, and tomtits as large as turkeys! The imagination which is
necessary to ambition is a great magnifier."

"I have known more than one man, now very eminent, very active, who at
your age felt the same estrangement from the practical pursuits of
others."

"And what reconciled those men to such pursuits?"

"That diminished sense of individual personality, that unconscious
fusion of one's own being into other existences, which belong to home
and marriage."

"I don't object to home, but I do to marriage."

"Depend on it there is no home for man where there is no woman."

"Prettily said. In that case I resign the home."

"Do you mean seriously to tell me that you never see the woman you
could love enough to make her your wife, and never enter any home that
you do not quit with a touch of envy at the happiness of married
life?"

"Seriously, I never see such a woman; seriously, I never enter such a
home."

"Patience, then; your time will come, and I hope it is at hand.
Listen to me. It was only yesterday that I felt an indescribable
longing to see you again,--to know your address that I might write to
you; for yesterday, when a certain young lady left my house after a
week's visit, I said this girl would make a perfect wife, and, above
all, the exact wife to suit Kenelm Chillingly."

"Kenelm Chillingly is very glad to hear that this young lady has left
your house."

"But she has not left London: she is here to-night. She only stayed
with me till her father came to town, and the house he had taken for
the season was vacant; those events happened yesterday."

"Fortunate events for me: they permit me to call on you without
danger."

"Have you no curiosity to know, at least, who and what is the young
lady who appears to me so well suited to you?"

"No curiosity, but a vague sensation of alarm."

"Well, I cannot talk pleasantly with you while you are in this
irritating mood, and it is time to quit the hermitage. Come, there
are many persons here, with some of whom you should renew old
acquaintance, and to some of whom I should like to make you known."

"I am prepared to follow Lady Glenalvon wherever she deigns to lead
me,--except to the altar with another."



CHAPTER III.

THE rooms were now full,--not overcrowded, but full,--and it was
rarely even in that house that so many distinguished persons were
collected together. A young man thus honoured by so _grande_ a dame
as Lady Glenalvon could not but be cordially welcomed by all to whom
she presented him, Ministers and Parliamentary leaders, ball-givers,
and beauties in vogue,--even authors and artists; and there was
something in Kenelm Chillingly, in his striking countenance and
figure, in that calm ease of manner natural to his indifference to
effect, which seemed to justify the favour shown to him by the
brilliant princess of fashion and mark him out for general
observation.

That first evening of his reintroduction to the polite world was a
success which few young men of his years achieve. He produced a
sensation. Just as the rooms were thinning, Lady Glenalvon whispered
to Kenelm,--

"Come this way: there is one person I must reintroduce you to; thank
me for it hereafter."

Kenelm followed the marchioness, and found himself face to face with
Cecilia Travers. She was leaning on her father's arm, looking very
handsome, and her beauty was heightened by the blush which overspread
her cheeks as Kenelm Chillingly approached.

Travers greeted him with great cordiality; and Lady Glenalvon asking
him to escort her to the refreshment-room, Kenelm had no option but to
offer his arm to Cecilia.

Kenelm felt somewhat embarrassed. "Have you been long in town, Miss
Travers?"

"A little more than a week, but we only settled into our house
yesterday."

"Ah, indeed! were you then the young lady who--" He stopped short,
and his face grew gentler and graver in its expression.

"The young lady who--what?" asked Cecilia with a smile.

"Who has been staying with Lady Glenalvon?"

"Yes; did she tell you?"

"She did not mention your name, but praised that young lady so justly
that I ought to have guessed it."

Cecilia made some not very audible answer, and on entering the
refreshment-room other young men gathered round her, and Lady
Glenalvon and Kenelm remained silent in the midst of a general
small-talk. When Travers, after giving his address to Kenelm, and, of
course, pressing him to call, left the house with Cecilia, Kenelm said
to Lady Glenalvon, musingly, "So that is the young lady in whom I was
to see my fate: you knew that we had met before?"

"Yes, she told me when and where. Besides, it is not two years since
you wrote to me from her father's house. Do you forget?"

"Ah," said Kenelm, so abstractedly that he seemed to be dreaming, "no
man with his eyes open rushes on his fate: when he does so his sight
is gone. Love is blind. They say the blind are very happy, yet I
never met a blind man who would not recover his sight if he could."



CHAPTER IV.

Mr. CHILLINGLY MIVERS never gave a dinner at his own rooms. When he
did give a dinner it was at Greenwich or Richmond. But he gave
breakfast-parties pretty often, and they were considered pleasant. He
had handsome bachelor apartments in Grosvenor Street, daintily
furnished, with a prevalent air of exquisite neatness, a good library
stored with books of reference, and adorned with presentation copies
from authors of the day, very beautifully bound. Though the room
served for the study of the professed man of letters, it had none of
the untidy litter which generally characterizes the study of one whose
vocation it is to deal with books and papers. Even the implements for
writing were not apparent, except when required. They lay concealed
in a vast cylinder bureau, French made, and French polished. Within
that bureau were numerous pigeon-holes and secret drawers, and a
profound well with a separate patent lock. In the well were deposited
the articles intended for publication in "The Londoner," proof-sheets,
etc.; pigeon-holes were devoted to ordinary correspondence; secret
drawers to confidential notes, and outlines of biographies of eminent
men now living, but intended to be completed for publication the day
after their death.

No man wrote such funeral compositions with a livelier pen than that
of Chillingly Mivers; and the large and miscellaneous circle of his
visiting acquaintances allowed him to ascertain, whether by
authoritative report or by personal observation, the signs of mortal
disease in the illustrious friends whose dinners he accepted, and
whose failing pulses he instinctively felt in returning the pressure
of their hands; so that he was often able to put the finishing-stroke
to their obituary memorials days, weeks, even months, before their
fate took the public by surprise. That cylinder bureau was in harmony
with the secrecy in which this remarkable man shrouded the productions
of his brain. In his literary life Mivers had no "I," there he was
ever the inscrutable, mysterious "We." He was only "I" when you met
him in the world, and called him Mivers.

Adjoining the library on one side was a small dining or rather
breakfast room, hung with valuable pictures,--presents from living
painters. Many of these painters had been severely handled by Mr.
Mivers in his existence as "We,"--not always in "The Londoner." His
most pungent criticisms were often contributed to other intellectual
journals conducted by members of the same intellectual clique.
Painters knew not how contemptuously "We" had treated them when they
met Mr. Mivers. His "I" was so complimentary that they sent him a
tribute of their gratitude.

On the other side was his drawing-room, also enriched by many gifts,
chiefly from fair hands,--embroidered cushions and table-covers, bits
of Sevres or old Chelsea, elegant knick-knacks of all kinds.
Fashionable authoresses paid great court to Mr. Mivers; and in the
course of his life as a single man, he had other female adorers
besides fashionable authoresses.

Mr. Mivers had already returned from his early constitutional walk in
the Park, and was now seated by the cylinder _secretaire_ with a
mild-looking man, who was one of the most merciless contributors to
"The Londoner" and no unimportant councillor in the oligarchy of the
clique that went by the name of the "Intellectuals."

"Well," said Mivers, languidly, "I can't even get through the book; it
is as dull as the country in November. But, as you justly say, the
writer is an 'Intellectual,' and a clique would be anything but
intellectual if it did not support its members. Review the book
yourself; mind and make the dulness of it the signal proof of its
merit. Say: 'To the ordinary class of readers this exquisite work may
appear less brilliant than the flippant smartness of'--any other
author you like to name; 'but to the well educated and intelligent
every line is pregnant with,' etc. By the way, when we come by and by
to review the exhibition at Burlington House, there is one painter
whom we must try our best to crush. I have not seen his pictures
myself, but he is a new man; and our friend, who has seen him, is
terribly jealous of him, and says that if the good judges do not put
him down at once, the villanous taste of the public will set him up as
a prodigy. A low-lived fellow too, I hear. There is the name of the
man and the subject of the pictures. See to it when the time comes.
Meanwhile, prepare the way for onslaught on the pictures by occasional
sneers at the painter." Here Mr. Mivers took out of his cylinder a
confidential note from the jealous rival and handed it to his
mild-looking _confrere_; then rising, he said, "I fear we must suspend
our business till to-morrow; I expect two young cousins to breakfast."

As soon as the mild-looking man was gone, Mr. Mivers sauntered to his
drawing-room window, amiably offering a lump of sugar to a canary-bird
sent to him as a present the day before, and who, in the gilded cage
which made part of the present, scanned him suspiciously and refused
the sugar.

Time had remained very gentle in its dealings with Chillingly Mivers.
He scarcely looked a day older than when he was first presented to the
reader on the birth of his kinsman Kenelm. He was reaping the fruit
of his own sage maxims. Free from whiskers and safe in wig, there was
no sign of gray, no suspicion of dye. Superiority to passion,
abnegation of sorrow, indulgence of amusement, avoidance of excess,
had kept away the crow's-feet, preserved the elasticity of his frame
and the unflushed clearness of his gentlemanlike complexion. The door
opened, and a well-dressed valet, who had lived long enough with
Mivers to grow very much like him, announced Mr. Chillingly Gordon.

"Good morning," said Mivers; "I was much pleased to see you talking so
long and so familiarly with Danvers: others, of course, observed it,
and it added a step to your career. It does you great good to be seen
in a drawing-room talking apart with a Somebody. But may I ask if the
talk itself was satisfactory?"

"Not at all: Danvers throws cold water on the notion of Saxboro', and
does not even hint that his party will help me to any other opening.
Party has few openings at its disposal nowadays for any young man.
The schoolmaster being abroad has swept away the school for statesmen
as he has swept away the school for actors,--an evil, and an evil of a
far greater consequence to the destinies of the nation than any good
likely to be got from the system that succeeded it."

"But it is of no use railing against things that can't be helped. If
I were you, I would postpone all ambition of Parliament and read for
the bar."

"The advice is sound, but too unpalatable to be taken. I am resolved
to find a seat in the House, and where there is a will there is a
way."

"I am not so sure of that."

"But I am."

"Judging by what your contemporaries at the University tell me of your
speeches at the Debating Society, you were not then an ultra-Radical.
But it is only an ultra-Radical who has a chance of success at
Saxboro'."

"I am no fanatic in politics. There is much to be said on all sides:
_coeteris paribus_, I prefer the winning side to the losing; nothing
succeeds like success."

"Ay, but in politics there is always reaction. The winning side one
day may be the losing side another. The losing side represents a
minority, and a minority is sure to comprise more intellect than a
majority: in the long run intellect will force its way, get a majority
and then lose it, because with a majority it will become stupid."

"Cousin Mivers, does not the history of the world show you that a
single individual can upset all theories as to the comparative wisdom
of the few or the many? Take the wisest few you can find, and one man
of genius not a tithe so wise crushes them into powder. But then that
man of genius, though he despises the many, must make use of them.
That done, he rules them. Don't you see how in free countries
political destinations resolve themselves into individual
impersonations? At a general election it is one name around which
electors rally. The candidate may enlarge as much as he pleases on
political principles, but all his talk will not win him votes enough
for success, unless he says, 'I go with Mr. A.,' the minister, or with
Mr. Z., the chief of the opposition. It was not the Tories who beat
the Whigs when Mr. Pitt dissolved Parliament. It was Mr. Pitt who
beat Mr. Fox, with whom in general political principle--slave-trade,
Roman Catholic emancipation, Parliamentary reform--he certainly agreed
much more than he did with any man in his own cabinet."

"Take care, my young cousin," cried Mivers, in accents of alarm;
"don't set up for a man of genius. Genius is the worst quality a
public man can have nowadays: nobody heeds it, and everybody is
jealous of it."

"Pardon me, you mistake; my remark was purely objective, and intended
as a reply to your argument. I prefer at present to go with the many
because it is the winning side. If we then want a man of genius to
keep it the winning side, by subjugating its partisans to his will, he
will be sure to come. The few will drive him to us, for the few are
always the enemies of the one man of genius. It is they who
distrust,--it is they who are jealous,--not the many. You have
allowed your judgment, usually so clear, to be somewhat dimmed by your
experience as a critic. The critics are the few. They have
infinitely more culture than the many. But when a man of real genius
appears and asserts himself, the critics are seldom such fair judges
of him as the many are. If he be not one of their oligarchical
clique, they either abuse, or disparage, or affect to ignore him;
though a time at last comes when, having gained the many, the critics
acknowledge him. But the difference between the man of action and the
author is this, that the author rarely finds this acknowledgment till
he is dead, and it is necessary to the man of action to enforce it
while he is alive. But enough of this speculation: you ask me to meet
Kenelm; is he not coming?"

"Yes, but I did not ask him till ten o'clock. I asked you at
half-past nine, because I wished to hear about Danvers and Saxboro',
and also to prepare you somewhat for your introduction to your cousin.
I must be brief as to the last, for it is only five minutes to the
hour, and he is a man likely to be punctual. Kenelm is in all ways
your opposite. I don't know whether he is cleverer or less clever;
there is no scale of measurement between you: but he is wholly void of
ambition, and might possibly assist yours. He can do what he likes
with Sir Peter; and considering how your poor father--a worthy man,
but cantankerous--harassed and persecuted Sir Peter, because Kenelm
came between the estate and you, it is probable that Sir Peter bears
you a grudge, though Kenelm declares him incapable of it; and it would
be well if you could annul that grudge in the father by conciliating
the goodwill of the son."

"I should be glad so to annul it; but what is Kenelm's weak side?--the
turf? the hunting-field? women? poetry? One can only conciliate a man
by getting on his weak side."

"Hist! I see him from the windows. Kenelm's weak side was, when I
knew him some years ago, and I rather fancy it still is--"

"Well, make haste! I hear his ring at your door-bell."

"A passionate longing to find ideal truth in real life."

"Ah!" said Gordon, "as I thought,--a mere dreamer"



CHAPTER V.

KENELM entered the room. The young cousins were introduced, shook
hands, receded a step, and gazed at each other. It is scarcely
possible to conceive a greater contrast outwardly than that between
the two Chillingly representatives of the rising generation. Each was
silently impressed by the sense of that contrast. Each felt that the
contrast implied antagonism, and that if they two met in the same
arena it must be as rival combatants; still, by some mysterious
intuition, each felt a certain respect for the other, each divined in
the other a power that he could not fairly estimate, but against which
his own power would be strongly tasked to contend. So might exchange
looks a thorough-bred deer-hound and a half-bred mastiff: the
bystander could scarcely doubt which was the nobler animal; but he
might hesitate which to bet on, if the two came to deadly quarrel.
Meanwhile the thorough-bred deer-hound and the half-bred mastiff
sniffed at each other in polite salutation. Gordon was the first to
give tongue.

"I have long wished to know you personally," said he, throwing into
his voice and manner that delicate kind of deference which a well-born
cadet owes to the destined head of his house. "I cannot conceive how
I missed you last night at Lady Beaumanoir's, where Mivers tells me he
met you; but I left early,"

Here Mivers led the way to the breakfast-room, and, there seated, the
host became the principal talker, running with lively glibness over
the principal topics of the day,--the last scandal, the last new book,
the reform of the army, the reform of the turf, the critical state of
Spain, and the debut of an Italian singer. He seemed an embodied
Journal, including the Leading Article, the Law Reports, Foreign
Intelligence, the Court Circular, down to the Births, Deaths, and
Marriages. Gordon from time to time interrupted this flow of soul
with brief, trenchant remarks, which evinced his own knowledge of the
subjects treated, and a habit of looking on all subjects connected
with the pursuits and business of mankind from a high ground
appropriated to himself, and through the medium of that blue glass
which conveys a wintry aspect to summer landscapes. Kenelm said
little, but listened attentively.

The conversation arrested its discursive nature, to settle upon a
political chief, the highest in fame and station of that party to
which Mivers professed--not to belong, he belonged to himself alone,
but to appropinquate. Mivers spoke of this chief with the greatest
distrust, and in a spirit of general depreciation. Gordon acquiesced
in the distrust and the depreciation, adding, "But he is master of the
position, and must, of course, be supported through thick and thin for
the present."

"Yes, for the present," said Mivers, "one has no option. But you will
see some clever articles in 'The Londoner' towards the close of the
session, which will damage him greatly, by praising him in the wrong
place, and deepening the alarm of important followers,--an alarm now
at work, though suppressed."

Here Kenelm asked, in humble tones, why Gordon thought that a minister
he considered so untrustworthy and dangerous must for the present be
supported through thick and thin.

"Because at present a member elected so to support him would lose his
seat if he did not: needs must when the devil drives."

KENELM.--"When the devil drives, I should have thought it better to
resign one's seat on the coach; perhaps one might be of some use, out
of it, in helping to put on the drag."

MIVERS.--"Cleverly said, Kenelm. But, metaphor apart, Gordon is
right. A young politician must go with his party; a veteran
journalist like myself is more independent. So long as the journalist
blames everybody, he will have plenty of readers."

Kenelm made no reply, and Gordon changed the conversation from men to
measures. He spoke of some Bills before Parliament with remarkable
ability, evincing much knowledge of the subject, much critical
acuteness, illustrating their defects, and proving the danger of their
ultimate consequences.

Kenelm was greatly struck with the vigour of this cold, clear mind,
and owned to himself that the House of Commons was a fitting place for
its development.

"But," said Mivers, "would you not be obliged to defend these Bills if
you were member for Saxboro'?"

"Before I answer your question, answer me this: dangerous as the Bills
are, is it not necessary that they shall pass? Have not the public so
resolved?"

"There can be no doubt of that."

"Then the member for Saxboro' cannot be strong enough to go against
the public."

"Progress of the age!" said Kenelm, musingly. "Do you think the class
of gentlemen will long last in England?"

"What do you call gentlemen? The aristocracy by birth?--the
_gentilshommes_?"

"Nay, I suppose no laws can take away a man's ancestors, and a class
of well-born men is not to be exterminated. But a mere class of
well-born men--without duties, responsibilities, or sentiment of that
which becomes good birth in devotion to country or individual
honour--does no good to a nation. It is a misfortune which statesmen
of democratic creed ought to recognize, that the class of the
well-born cannot be destroyed: it must remain as it remained in Rome
and remains in France, after all efforts to extirpate it, as the most
dangerous class of citizens when you deprive it of the attributes
which made it the most serviceable. I am not speaking of that class;
I speak of that unclassified order peculiar to England, which, no
doubt, forming itself originally from the ideal standard of honour and
truth supposed to be maintained by the _gentilshommes_, or well-born,
no longer requires pedigrees and acres to confer upon its members the
designation of gentleman; and when I hear a 'gentleman' say that he
has no option but to think one thing and say another, at whatever risk
to his country, I feel as if in the progress of the age the class of
gentleman was about to be superseded by some finer development of
species."

Therewith Kenelm rose, and would have taken his departure, if Gordon
had not seized his hand and detained him.

"My dear cousin, if I may so call you," he said, with the frank manner
which was usual to him, and which suited well the bold expression of
his face and the clear ring of his voice, "I am one of those who, from
an over-dislike to sentimentality and cant, often make those not
intimately acquainted with them think worse of their principles than
they deserve. It may be quite true that a man who goes with his party
dislikes the measures he feels bound to support, and says so openly
when among friends and relations, yet that man is not therefore devoid
of loyalty and honour; and I trust, when you know me better, you will
not think it likely I should derogate from that class of gentlemen to
which we both belong."

"Pardon me if I seemed rude," answered Kenelm; "ascribe it to my
ignorance of the necessities of public life. It struck me that where
a politician thought a thing evil, he ought not to support it as good.
But I dare say I am mistaken."

"Entirely mistaken," said Mivers, "and for this reason: in politics
formerly there was a direct choice between good and evil. That rarely
exists now. Men of high education, having to choose whether to accept
or reject a measure forced upon their option by constituent bodies of
very low education, are called upon to weigh evil against evil,--the
evil of accepting or the evil of rejecting; and if they resolve on the
first, it is as the lesser evil of the two."

"Your definition is perfect," said Gordon, "and I am contented to rest
on it my excuse for what my cousin deems insincerity."

"I suppose that is real life," said Kenelm, with his mournful smile.

"Of course it is," said Mivers.

"Every day I live," sighed Kenelm, "still more confirms my conviction
that real life is a phantasmal sham. How absurd it is in philosophers
to deny the existence of apparitions! what apparitions we, living men,
must seem to the ghosts!


      "'The spirits of the wise
   Sit in the clouds and mock us.'"



CHAPTER VI.

CHILLINGLY GORDON did not fail to confirm his acquaintance with
Kenelm. He very often looked in upon him of a morning, sometimes
joined him in his afternoon rides, introduced him to men of his own
set who were mostly busy members of Parliament, rising barristers, or
political journalists, but not without a proportion of brilliant
idlers,--club men, sporting men, men of fashion, rank, and fortune.
He did so with a purpose, for these persons spoke well of him,--spoke
well not only of his talents, but of his honourable character. His
general nickname amongst them was "HONEST GORDON." Kenelm at first
thought this sobriquet must be ironical; not a bit of it. It was
given to him on account of the candour and boldness with which he
expressed opinions embodying that sort of cynicism which is vulgarly
called "the absence of humbug." The man was certainly no hypocrite;
he affected no beliefs which he did not entertain. And he had very
few beliefs in anything, except the first half of the adage, "Every
man for himself,--and God for us all."

But whatever Chillingly Gordon's theoretical disbeliefs in things
which make the current creed of the virtuous, there was nothing in his
conduct which evinced predilection for vices: he was strictly upright
in all his dealings, and in delicate matters of honour was a favourite
umpire amongst his coevals. Though so frankly ambitious, no one could
accuse him of attempting to climb on the shoulders of patrons. There
was nothing servile in his nature; and, though he was perfectly
prepared to bribe electors if necessary, no money could have bought
himself. His one master-passion was the desire of power. He sneered
at patriotism as a worn-out prejudice, at philanthropy as a
sentimental catch-word. He did not want to serve his country, but to
rule it. He did not want to raise mankind, but to rise himself. He
was therefore unscrupulous, unprincipled, as hungerers after power for
itself too often are; yet still if he got power he would probably use
it well, from the clearness and strength of his mental perceptions.
The impression he made on Kenelm may be seen in the following
letter:--


TO SIR PETER CHILLINGLY, BART., ETC.

MY DEAR FATHER,--You and my dear mother will be pleased to hear that
London continues very polite to me: that "arida nutrix leonum" enrolls
me among the pet class of lions which ladies of fashion admit into the
society of their lapdogs. It is somewhere about six years since I was
allowed to gaze on this peep-show through the loopholes of Mr. Welby's
retreat. It appears to me, perhaps erroneously, that even within that
short space of time the tone of "society" is perceptibly changed.
That the change is for the better is an assertion I leave to those who
belong to the _progressista_ party.

I don't think nearly so many young ladies six years ago painted their
eyelids and dyed their hair: a few of them there might be, imitators
of the slang invented by schoolboys and circulated through the medium
of small novelists; they might use such expressions as "stunning,"
"cheek," "awfully jolly," etc. But now I find a great many who have
advanced to a slang beyond that of verbal expressions,--a slang of
mind, a slang of sentiment, a slang in which very little seems left of
the woman and nothing at all of the lady.

Newspaper essayists assert that the young men of the day are to blame
for this; that the young men like it; and the fair husband-anglers
dress their flies in the colours most likely to attract a nibble.
Whether this excuse be the true one I cannot pretend to judge; but it
strikes me that the men about my own age who affect to be fast are a
more languid race than the men from ten to twenty years older, whom
they regard as _slow_. The habit of dram-drinking in the morning is a
very new idea, an idea greatly in fashion at the moment. Adonis calls
for a "pick-me-up" before he has strength enough to answer a
_billet-doux_ from Venus. Adonis has not the strength to get nobly
drunk, but his delicate constitution requires stimulants, and he is
always tippling.

The men of high birth or renown for social success belonging, my dear
father, to your time, are still distinguished by an air of good
breeding, by a style of conversation more or less polished and not
without evidences of literary culture, from men of the same rank in my
generation, who appear to pride themselves on respecting nobody and
knowing nothing, not even grammar. Still we are assured that the
world goes on steadily improving. _That_ new idea is in full vigour.

Society in the concrete has become wonderfully conceited as to its own
progressive excellences, and the individuals who form the concrete
entertain the same complacent opinion of themselves. There are, of
course, even in my brief and imperfect experience, many exceptions to
what appear to me the prevalent characteristics of the rising
generation in "society." Of these exceptions I must content myself
with naming the most remarkable. _Place aux dames_, the first I name
is Cecilia Travers. She and her father are now in town, and I meet
them frequently. I can conceive no civilized era in the world which a
woman like Cecilia Travers would not grace and adorn, because she is
essentially the type of woman as man likes to imagine woman; namely,
on the fairest side of the womanly character. And I say "woman"
rather than "girl," because among "Girls of the Period" Cecilia
Travers cannot be classed. You might call her damsel, virgin, maiden,
but you could no more call her girl than you could call a well-born
French demoiselle _fille_. She is handsome enough to please the eye
of any man, however fastidious, but not that kind of beauty which
dazzles all men too much to fascinate one man; for--speaking, thank
Heaven, from mere theory--I apprehend that the love for woman has in
it a strong sense of property; that one requires to individualize
one's possession as being wholly one's own, and not a possession which
all the public are invited to admire. I can readily understand how a
rich man, who has what is called a show place, in which the splendid
rooms and the stately gardens are open to all inspectors, so that he
has no privacy in his own demesnes, runs away to a pretty cottage
which he has all to himself, and of which he can say, "_This_ is home;
_this_ is all mine."

But there are some kinds of beauty which are eminently show
places,--which the public think they have as much a right to admire as
the owner has; and the show place itself would be dull and perhaps
fall out of repair, if the public could be excluded from the sight of
it.

The beauty of Cecilia Travers is not that of a show place. There is a
feeling of safety in her. If Desdemona had been like her, Othello
would not have been jealous. But then Cecilia would not have deceived
her father; nor I think have told a blackamoor that she wished "Heaven
had made her such a man." Her mind harmonizes with her person: it is
a companionable mind. Her talents are not showy, but, take them
altogether, they form a pleasant whole: she has good sense enough in
the practical affairs of life, and enough of that ineffable womanly
gift called tact to counteract the effects of whimsical natures like
mine, and yet enough sense of the humouristic views of life not to
take too literally all that a whimsical man like myself may say. As
to temper, one never knows what a woman's temper is--till one puts her
out of it. But I imagine hers, in its normal state, to be serene, and
disposed to be cheerful. Now, my dear father, if you were not one of
the cleverest of men you would infer from this eulogistic mention of
Cecilia Travers that I was in love with her. But you no doubt will
detect the truth that a man in love with a woman does not weigh her
merits with so steady a hand as that which guides this steel pen. I
am not in love with Cecilia Travers. I wish I were. When Lady
Glenalvon, who remains wonderfully kind to me, says, day after day,
"Cecilia Travers would make you a perfect wife," I have no answer to
give; but I don't feel the least inclined to ask Cecilia Travers if
she would waste her perfection on one who so coldly concedes it.

I find that she persisted in rejecting the man whom her father wished
her to marry, and that he has consoled himself by marrying somebody
else. No doubt other suitors as worthy will soon present themselves.

Oh, dearest of all my friends,--sole friend whom I regard as a
confidant,--shall I ever be in love? and if not, why not? Sometimes I
feel as if, with love as with ambition, it is because I have some
impossible ideal in each, that I must always remain indifferent to the
sort of love and the sort of ambition which are within my reach. I
have an idea that if I did love, I should love as intensely as Romeo,
and that thought inspires me with vague forebodings of terror; and if
I did find an object to arouse my ambition, I could be as earnest in
its pursuit as--whom shall I name?--Caesar or Cato? I like Cato's
ambition the better of the two. But people nowadays call ambition an
impracticable crotchet, if it be invested on the losing side. Cato
would have saved Rome from the mob and the dictator; but Rome could
not be saved, and Cato falls on his own sword. Had we a Cato now, the
verdict at a coroner's inquest would be, "suicide while in a state of
unsound mind;" and the verdict would have been proved by his senseless
resistance to a mob and a dictator! Talking of ambition, I come to
the other exception to the youth of the day; I have named a
_demoiselle_, I now name a _damoiseau_. Imagine a man of about
five-and-twenty, and who is morally about fifty years older than a
healthy man of sixty,--imagine him with the brain of age and the
flower of youth; with a heart absorbed into the brain, and giving warm
blood to frigid ideas: a man who sneers at everything I call lofty,
yet would do nothing that he thinks mean; to whom vice and virtue are
as indifferent as they were to the Aesthetics of Goethe; who would
never jeopardize his career as a practical reasoner by an imprudent
virtue, and never sully his reputation by a degrading vice. Imagine
this man with an intellect keen, strong, ready, unscrupulous,
dauntless,--all cleverness and no genius. Imagine this man, and then
do not be astonished when I tell you he is a Chillingly.

The Chillingly race culminates in him, and becomes Chillinglyest. In
fact, it seems to me that we live in a day precisely suited to the
Chillingly idiosyncrasies. During the ten centuries or more that our
race has held local habitation and a name, it has been as airy
nothings. Its representatives lived in hot-blooded times, and were
compelled to skulk in still water with their emblematic daces. But
the times now, my dear father, are so cold-blooded that you can't be
too cold-blooded to prosper. What could Chillingly Mivers have been
in an age when people cared twopence-halfpenny about their religious
creeds, and their political parties deemed their cause was sacred and
their leaders were heroes? Chillingly Mivers would not have found
five subscribers to "The Londoner." But now "The Londoner" is the
favourite organ of the intellectual public; it sneers away all the
foundations of the social system, without an attempt at
reconstruction; and every new journal set up, if it keep its head
above water, models itself on "The Londoner." Chillingly Mivers is a
great man, and the most potent writer of the age, though nobody knows
what he has written. Chillingly Gordon is a still more notable
instance of the rise of the Chillingly worth in the modern market.

There is a general impression in the most authoritative circles that
Chillingly Gordon will have high rank in the van of the coming men.
His confidence in himself is so thorough that it infects all with whom
he comes into contact,--myself included.

He said to me the other day, with a _sang-froid_ worthy of the iciest
Chillingly, "I mean to be Prime Minister of England: it is only a
question of time." Now, if Chillingly Gordon is to be Prime Minister,
it will be because the increasing cold of our moral and social
atmosphere will exactly suit the development of his talents.

He is the man above all others to argue down the declaimers of
old-fashioned sentimentalities,--love of country, care for its
position among nations, zeal for its honour, pride in its renown.
(Oh, if you could hear him philosophically and logically sneer away
the word "prestige"!) Such notions are fast being classified as
"bosh." And when that classification is complete,--when England has
no colonies to defend, no navy to pay for, no interest in the affairs
of other nations, and has attained to the happy condition of
Holland,--then Chillingly Gordon will be her Prime Minister.

Yet while, if ever I am stung into political action, it will be by
abnegation of the Chillingly attributes, and in opposition, however
hopeless, to Chillingly Gordon, I feel that this man cannot be
suppressed, and ought to have fair play; his ambition will be
infinitely more dangerous if it become soured by delay. I propose, my
dear father, that you should have the honour of laying this clever
kinsman under an obligation, and enabling him to enter Parliament. In
our last conversation at Exmundham, you told me of the frank
resentment of Gordon _pere_, when my coming into the world shut him
out from the Exmundham inheritance; you confided to me your intention
at that time to lay by yearly a sum that might ultimately serve as a
provision for Gordon _fils_, and as some compensation for the loss of
his expectations when you realized your hope of an heir; you told me
also how this generous intention on your part had been frustrated by a
natural indignation at the elder Gordon's conduct in his harassing and
costly litigation, and by the addition you had been tempted to make to
the estate in a purchase which added to its acreage, but at a rate of
interest which diminished your own income, and precluded the
possibility of further savings. Now, chancing to meet your lawyer,
Mr. Vining, the other day, I learned from him that it had been long a
wish which your delicacy prevented your naming to me, that I, to whom
the fee-simple descends, should join with you in cutting off the
entail and resettling the estate. He showed me what an advantage this
would be to the property, because it would leave your hands free for
many improvements in which I heartily go with the progress of the age,
for which, as merely tenant for life, you could not raise the money
except upon ruinous terms; new cottages for labourers, new buildings
for tenants, the consolidation of some old mortgages and charges on
the rent-roll, etc. And allow me to add that I should like to make a
large increase to the jointure of my dear mother. Vining says, too,
that there is a part of the outlying land which, as being near a town,
could be sold to considerable profit if the estate were resettled.

Let us hasten to complete the necessary deeds, and so obtain the
L20,000 required for the realization of your noble and, let me add,
your just desire to do something for Chillingly Gordon. In the new
deeds of settlement we could insure the power of willing the estate as
we pleased, and I am strongly against devising it to Chillingly
Gordon. It may be a crotchet of mine, but one which I think you
share, that the owner of English soil should have a son's love for the
native land, and Gordon will never have that. I think, too, that it
will be best for his own career, and for the establishment of a frank
understanding between us and himself, that he should be fairly told
that he would not be benefited in the event of our death. Twenty
thousand pounds given to him now would be a greater boon to him than
ten times the sum twenty years later. With that at his command, he
can enter Parliament, and have an income, added to what he now
possesses, if modest, still sufficient to make him independent of a
minister's patronage.

Pray humour me, my dearest father, in the proposition I venture to
submit to you.

   Your affectionate son, KENELM.


FROM SIR PETER CHILLINGLY TO KENELM CHILLINGLY.

MY DEAR BOY,--You are not worthy to be a Chillingly; you are decidedly
warm-blooded: never was a load lifted off a man's mind with a gentler
hand. Yes, I have wished to cut off the entail and resettle the
property; but, as it was eminently to my advantage to do so, I shrank
from asking it, though eventually it would be almost as much to your
own advantage. What with the purchase I made of the Faircleuch
lands--which I could only effect by money borrowed at high interest on
my personal security, and paid off by yearly instalments, eating
largely into income--and the old mortgages, etc., I own I have been
pinched of late years. But what rejoices me the most is the power to
make homes for our honest labourers more comfortable, and nearer to
their work, which last is the chief point, for the old cottages in
themselves are not bad; the misfortune is, when you build an extra
room for the children, the silly people let it out to a lodger.

My dear boy, I am very much touched by your wish to increase your
mother's jointure,--a very proper wish, independently of filial
feeling, for she brought to the estate a very pretty fortune, which,
the trustees consented to my investing in land; and though the land
completed our ring-fence, it does not bring in two per cent, and the
conditions of the entail limited the right of jointure to an amount
below that which a widowed Lady Chillingly may fairly expect.

I care more about the provision on these points than I do for the
interests of old Chillingly Gordon's son. I had meant to behave very
handsomely to the father; and when the return for behaving handsomely
is being put into Chancery--A Worm Will Turn. Nevertheless, I agree
with you that a son should not be punished for his father's faults;
and, if the sacrifice of L20,000 makes you and myself feel that we are
better Christians and truer gentlemen, we shall buy that feeling very
cheaply.


Sir Peter then proceeded, half jestingly, half seriously, to combat
Kenelm's declaration that he was not in love with Cecilia Travers;
and, urging the advantages of marriage with one whom Kenelm allowed
would be a perfect wife, astutely remarked that unless Kenelm had a
son of his own it did not seem to him quite just to the next of kin to
will the property from him, upon no better plea than the want of love
for his native country. "He would love his country fast enough if he
had 10,000 acres in it."

Kenelm shook his head when he came to this sentence.

"Is even then love for one's country but cupboard-love after all?"
said he; and he postponed finishing the perusal of his father's
letter.



CHAPTER VII.

KENELM CHILLINGLY did not exaggerate the social position he had
acquired when he classed himself amongst the lions of the fashionable
world. I dare not count the number of three-cornered notes showered
upon him by the fine ladies who grow romantic upon any kind of
celebrity; or the carefully sealed envelopes, containing letters from
fair Anonymas, who asked if he had a heart, and would be in such a
place in the Park at such an hour. What there was in Kenelm
Chillingly that should make him thus favoured, especially by the fair
sex, it would be difficult to say, unless it was the two-fold
reputation of being unlike other people, and of being unaffectedly
indifferent to the gain of any reputation at all. He might, had he so
pleased, have easily established a proof that the prevalent though
vague belief in his talents was not altogether unjustified. For the
articles he had sent from abroad to "The Londoner" and by which his
travelling expenses were defrayed, had been stamped by that sort of
originality in tone and treatment which rarely fails to excite
curiosity as to the author, and meets with more general praise than
perhaps it deserves.

But Mivers was true to his contract to preserve inviolable the
incognito of the author, and Kenelm regarded with profound contempt
the articles themselves and the readers who praised them.

Just as misanthropy with some persons grows out of benevolence
disappointed, so there are certain natures--and Kenelm Chillingly's
was perhaps one of them--in which indifferentism grows out of
earnestness baffled.

He had promised himself pleasure in renewing acquaintance with his old
tutor, Mr. Welby,--pleasure in refreshing his own taste for
metaphysics and casuistry and criticism. But that accomplished
professor of realism had retired from philosophy altogether, and was
now enjoying a holiday for life in the business of a public office. A
minister in favour of whom, when in opposition, Mr. Welby, in a moment
of whim, wrote some very able articles in a leading journal, had, on
acceding to power, presented the realist with one of those few good
things still left to ministerial patronage,--a place worth about
L1,200 a year. His mornings thus engaged in routine work, Mr. Welby
enjoyed his evenings in a convivial way.

"_Inveni portum_," he said to Kenelm; "I plunge into no troubled
waters now. But come and dine with me to-morrow, tete-a-tete. My
wife is at St. Leonard's with my youngest born for the benefit of
sea-air." Kenelm accepted the invitation.

The dinner would have contented a Brillat-Savarin: it was faultless;
and the claret was that rare nectar, the Lafitte of 1848.

"I never share this," said Welby, "with more than one friend at a
time."

Kenelm sought to engage his host in discussion on certain new works in
vogue, and which were composed according to purely realistic canons of
criticism. "The more realistic; these books pretend to be, the less
real they are," said Kenelm. "I am half inclined to think that the
whole school you so systematically sought to build up is a mistake,
and that realism in art is a thing impossible."

"I dare say you are right. I took up that school in earnest because I
was in a passion with pretenders to the Idealistic school; and
whatever one takes up in earnest is generally a mistake, especially if
one is in a passion. I was not in earnest and I was not in a passion
when I wrote those articles to which I am indebted for my office."
Mr. Welby here luxuriously stretched his limbs, and lifting his glass
to his lips, voluptuously inhaled its bouquet.

"You sadden me," returned Kenelm. "It is a melancholy thing to find
that one's mind was influenced in youth by a teacher who mocks at his
own teachings."

Welby shrugged his shoulders. "Life consists in the alternate process
of learning and unlearning; but it is often wiser to unlearn than to
learn. For the rest, as I have ceased to be a critic, I care little
whether I was wrong or right when I played that part. I think I am
right now as a placeman. Let the world go its own way, provided the
world lets you live upon it. I drain my wine to the lees, and cut
down hope to the brief span of life. Reject realism in art if you
please, and accept realism in conduct. For the first time in my life
I am comfortable: my mind, having worn out its walking-shoes, is now
enjoying the luxury of slippers. Who can deny the realism of
comfort?"

"Has a man a right," Kenelm said to himself, as he entered his
brougham, "to employ all the brilliancy of a rare wit, all the
acquisitions of as rare a scholarship, to the scaring of the young
generation out of the safe old roads which youth left to itself would
take,--old roads skirted by romantic rivers and bowery trees,--
directing them into new paths on long sandy flats, and then,
when they are faint and footsore, to tell them that he cares not a pin
whether they have worn out their shoes in right paths or wrong paths,
for that he has attained the _summum bonum_ of philosophy in the
comfort of easy slippers?"

Before he could answer the question he thus put to himself, his
brougham stopped at the door of the minister whom Welby had
contributed to bring into power.

That night there was a crowded muster of the fashionable world at the
great man's house. It happened to be a very critical moment for the
minister. The fate of his cabinet depended on the result of a motion
about to be made the following week in the House of Commons. The
great man stood at the entrance of the apartments to receive his
guests, and among the guests were the framers of the hostile motion
and the leaders of the opposition. His smile was not less gracious to
them than to his dearest friends and stanchest supporters.

"I suppose this is realism," said Kenelm to himself; "but it is not
truth, and it is not comfort." Leaning against the wall near the
doorway, he contemplated with grave interest the striking countenance
of his distinguished host. He detected beneath that courteous smile
and that urbane manner the signs of care. The eye was absent, the
cheek pinched, the brow furrowed. Kenelm turned away his looks, and
glanced over the animated countenances of the idle loungers along
commoner thoroughfares in life. Their eyes were not absent; their
brows were not furrowed; their minds seemed quite at home in
exchanging nothings. Interest many of them had in the approaching
struggle, but it was much such an interest as betters of small sums
may have on the Derby day,--just enough to give piquancy to the race;
nothing to make gain a great joy, or loss a keen anguish.

"Our host is looking ill," said Mivers, accosting Kenelm. "I detect
symptoms of suppressed gout. You know my aphorism, 'nothing so gouty
as ambition,' especially Parliamentary ambition."

"You are not one of those friends who press on my choice of life that
source of disease; allow me to thank you."

"Your thanks are misplaced. I strongly advise you to devote yourself
to a political career."

"Despite the gout?"

"Despite the gout. If you could take the world as I do, my advice
might be different. But your mind is overcrowded with doubts and
fantasies and crotchets, and you have no choice but to give them vent
in active life."

"You had something to do in making me what I am,--an idler; something
to answer for as to my doubts, fantasies, and crotchets. It was by
your recommendation that I was placed under the tuition of Mr. Welby,
and at that critical age in which the bent of the twig forms the shape
of the tree."

"And I pride myself on that counsel. I repeat the reasons for which I
gave it: it is an incalculable advantage for a young man to start in
life thoroughly initiated into the New Ideas which will more or less
influence his generation. Welby was the ablest representative of
these ideas. It is a wondrous good fortune when the propagandist of
the New Ideas is something more than a bookish philosopher,--when he
is a thorough 'man of the world,' and is what we emphatically call
'practical.' Yes, you owe me much that I secured to you such tuition,
and saved you from twaddle and sentiment, the poetry of Wordsworth and
the muscular Christianity of Cousin John."

"What you say that you saved me from might have done me more good than
all you conferred on me. I suspect that when education succeeds in
placing an old head upon young shoulders the combination is not
healthful: it clogs the blood and slackens the pulse. However, I must
not be ungrateful; you meant kindly. Yes, I suppose Welby is
practical: he has no belief, and he has got a place. But our host, I
presume, is also practical; his place is a much higher one than
Welby's, and yet he is surely not without belief?"

"He was born before the new ideas came into practical force; but in
proportion as they have done so, his beliefs have necessarily
disappeared. I don't suppose that he believes in much now, except the
two propositions: firstly, that if he accept the new ideas he will
have power and keep it, and if he does not accept them power is out of
the question; and, secondly, that if the new ideas are to prevail he
is the best man to direct them safely,--beliefs quite enough for a
minister. No wise minister should have more."

"Does he not believe that the motion he is to resist next week is a
bad one?"

"A bad one of course, in its consequences, for if it succeed it will
upset him; a good one in itself I am sure he must think it, for he
would bring it on himself if he were in opposition."

"I see that Pope's definition is still true, 'Party is the madness of
the many for the gain of the few.'"

"No, it is not true. Madness is a wrong word applied to the many: the
many are sane enough; they know their own objects, and they make use
of the intellect of the few in order to gain their objects. In each
party it is the many that control the few who nominally lead them. A
man becomes Prime Minister because he seems to the many of his party
the fittest person to carry out their views. If he presume to differ
from these views, they put him into a moral pillory, and pelt him with
their dirtiest stones and their rottenest eggs."

"Then the maxim should be reversed, and party is rather the madness of
the few for the gain of the many?

"Of the two, that is the more correct definition."

"Let me keep my senses and decline to be one of the few."

Kenelm moved away from his cousin's side, and entering one of the less
crowded rooms, saw Cecilia Travers seated there in a recess with Lady
Glenalvon. He joined them, and after a brief interchange of a few
commonplaces, Lady Glenalvon quitted her post to accost a foreign
ambassadress, and Kenelm sank into the chair she vacated.

It was a relief to his eye to contemplate Cecilia's candid brow; to
his ear to hearken to the soft voice that had no artificial tones, and
uttered no cynical witticisms.

"Don't you think it strange," said Kenelm, "that we English should so
mould all our habits as to make even what we call pleasure as little
pleasurable as possible? We are now in the beginning of June, the
fresh outburst of summer, when every day in the country is a delight
to eye and ear, and we say, 'The season for hot rooms is beginning.'
We alone of civilized races spend our summer in a capital, and cling
to the country when the trees are leafless and the brooks frozen."

"Certainly that is a mistake; but I love the country in all seasons,
even in winter."

"Provided the country house is full of London people?"

"No; that is rather a drawback. I never want companions in the
country."

"True; I should have remembered that you differ from young ladies in
general, and make companions of books. They are always more
conversable in the country than they are in town; or rather, we listen
there to them with less distracted attention. Ha! do I not recognize
yonder the fair whiskers of George Belvoir? Who is the lady leaning
on his arm?"

"Don't you know?--Lady Emily Belvoir, his wife."

"Ah! I was told that he had married. The lady is handsome. She will
become the family diamonds. Does she read Blue-books?"

"I will ask her if you wish."

"Nay, it is scarcely worth while. During my rambles abroad I saw but
few English newspapers. I did, however, learn that George had won his
election. Has he yet spoken in Parliament?"

"Yes; he moved the answer to the Address this session, and was much
complimented on the excellent tone and taste of his speech. He spoke
again a few weeks afterwards, I fear not so successfully."

"Coughed down?"

"Something like it."

"Do him good; he will recover the cough, and fulfil my prophecy of his
success."

"Have you done with poor George for the present? If so, allow me to
ask whether you have quite forgotten Will Somers and Jessie Wiles?"

"Forgotten them! no."

"But you have never asked after them?"

"I took it for granted that they were as happy as could be expected.
Pray assure me that they are."

"I trust so now; but they have had trouble, and have left Graveleigh."

"Trouble! left Graveleigh! You make me uneasy. Pray explain."

"They had not been three months married and installed in the home they
owed to you, when poor Will was seized with a rheumatic fever. He was
confined to his bed for many weeks; and, when at last he could move
from it, was so weak as to be still unable to do any work. During his
illness Jessie had no heart and little leisure to attend to the shop.
Of course I--that is, my dear father--gave them all necessary
assistance; but--"

"I understand; they were reduced to objects of charity. Brute that I
am, never to have thought of the duties I owed to the couple I had
brought together. But pray go on."

"You are aware that just before you left us my father received a
proposal to exchange his property at Graveleigh for some lands more
desirable to him?"

"I remember. He closed with that offer."

"Yes; Captain Stavers, the new landlord of Graveleigh, seems to be a
very bad man; and though he could not turn the Somerses out of the
cottage so long as they paid rent, which we took care they did
pay,--yet out of a very wicked spite he set up a rival shop in one of
his other cottages in the village, and it became impossible for these
poor young people to get a livelihood at Graveleigh."

"What excuse for spite against so harmless a young couple could
Captain Stavers find or invent?"

Cecilia looked down and coloured. "It was a revengeful feeling
against Jessie."

"Ah, I comprehend."

"But they have now left the village, and are happily settled
elsewhere. Will has recovered his health, and they are prospering
much more than they could ever have done at Graveleigh."

"In that change you were their benefactress, Miss Travers?" said
Kenelm, in a more tender voice and with a softer eye than he had ever
before evinced towards the heiress.

"No, it is not I whom they have to thank and bless."

"Who, then, is it? Your father?"

"No. Do not question me. I am bound not to say. They do not
themselves know; they rather believe that their gratitude is due to
you."

"To me! Am I to be forever a sham in spite of myself? My dear Miss
Travers, it is essential to my honour that I should undeceive this
credulous pair; where can I find them?"

"I must not say; but I will ask permission of their concealed
benefactor, and send you their address."

A touch was laid on Kenelm's arm, and a voice whispered, "May I ask
you to present me to Miss Travers?"

"Miss Travers," said Kenelm, "I entreat you to add to the list of your
acquaintances a cousin of mine,--Mr. Chillingly Gordon."

While Gordon addressed to Cecilia the well-bred conventionalisms with
which acquaintance in London drawing-rooms usually commences, Kenelm,
obedient to a sign from Lady Glenalvon, who had just re-entered the
room, quitted his seat, and joined the marchioness.

"Is not that young man whom you left talking with Miss Travers your
clever cousin Gordon?"

"The same."

"She is listening to him with great attention. How his face brightens
up as he talks! He is positively handsome, thus animated."

"Yes, I could fancy him a dangerous wooer. He has wit and liveliness
and audacity; he could be very much in love with a great fortune, and
talk to the owner of it with a fervour rarely exhibited by a
Chillingly. Well, it is no affair of mine."

"It ought to be."

Alas and alas! that "ought to be;" what depths of sorrowful meaning
lie within that simple phrase! How happy would be our lives, how
grand our actions, how pure our souls, if all could be with us as it
ought to be!



CHAPTER VIII.

WE often form cordial intimacies in the confined society of a country
house, or a quiet watering-place, or a small Continental town, which
fade away into remote acquaintanceship in the mighty vortex of London
life, neither party being to blame for the estrangement. It was so
with Leopold Travers and Kenelm Chillingly. Travers, as we have seen,
had felt a powerful charm in the converse of the young stranger, so in
contrast with the routine of the rural companionships to which his
alert intellect had for many years circumscribed its range. But on
reappearing in London the season before Kenelm again met him, he had
renewed old friendships with men of his own standing,--officers in the
regiment of which he had once been a popular ornament, some of them
still unmarried, a few of them like himself widowed, others who had
been his rivals in fashion, and were still pleasant idlers about town;
and it rarely happens in a metropolis that we have intimate
friendships with those of another generation, unless there be some
common tie in the cultivation of art and letters, or the action of
kindred sympathies in the party strife of politics. Therefore Travers
and Kenelm had had little familiar communication with each other since
they first met at the Beaumanoirs'. Now and then they found
themselves at the same crowded assemblies, and interchanged nods and
salutations. But their habits were different; the houses at which
they were intimate were not the same, neither did they frequent the
same clubs. Kenelm's chief bodily exercise was still that of long and
early rambles into rural suburbs; Leopold's was that of a late ride in
the Row. Of the two, Leopold was much more the man of pleasure. Once
restored to metropolitan life, a temper constitutionally eager,
ardent, and convivial took kindly, as in earlier youth, to its light
range of enjoyments.

Had the intercourse between the two men been as frankly familiar as it
had been at Neesdale Park, Kenelm would probably have seen much more
of Cecilia at her own home; and the admiration and esteem with which
she already inspired him might have ripened into much warmer feeling,
had he thus been brought into clearer comprehension of the soft and
womanly heart, and its tender predisposition towards himself.

He had said somewhat vaguely in his letter to Sir Peter, that
"sometimes he felt as if his indifference to love, as to ambition, was
because he had some impossible ideal in each." Taking that conjecture
to task, he could not honestly persuade himself that he had formed any
ideal of woman and wife with which the reality of Cecilia Travers was
at war. On the contrary, the more he thought over the characteristics
of Cecilia, the more they seemed to correspond to any ideal that had
floated before him in the twilight of dreamy revery; and yet he knew
that he was not in love with her, that his heart did not respond to
his reason; and mournfully he resigned himself to the conviction that
nowhere in this planet, from the normal pursuits of whose inhabitants
he felt so estranged, was there waiting for him the smiling playmate,
the earnest helpmate. As this conviction strengthened, so an
increased weariness of the artificial life of the metropolis, and of
all its objects and amusements, turned his thoughts with an intense
yearning towards the Bohemian freedom and fresh excitements of his
foot ramblings. He often thought with envy of the wandering minstrel,
and wondered whether, if he again traversed the same range of country,
he might encounter again that vagrant singer.



CHAPTER IX.

IT is nearly a week since Kenelm had met Cecilia, and he is sitting in
his rooms with Lord Thetford at that hour of three in the afternoon
which is found the most difficult to dispose of by idlers about town.
Amongst young men of his own age and class with whom Kenelm assorted
in the fashionable world, perhaps the one whom he liked the best, and
of whom he saw the most, was this young heir of the Beaumanoirs; and
though Lord Thetford has nothing to do with the direct stream of my
story, it is worth pausing a few minutes to sketch an outline of one
of the best whom the last generation has produced for a part that,
owing to accidents of birth and fortune, young men like Lord Thetford
must play on that stage from which the curtain is not yet drawn up.
Destined to be the head of a family that unites with princely
possessions and a historical name a keen though honourable ambition
for political power, Lord Thetford has been care fully educated,
especially in the new ideas of his time. His father, though a man of
no ordinary talents, has never taken a prominent part in public life.
He desires his eldest son to do so. The Beaumanoirs have been Whigs
from the time of William III. They have shared the good and the ill
fortunes of a party which, whether we side with it or not, no
politician who dreads extremes in the government of a State so
pre-eminently artificial that a prevalent extreme at either end of the
balance would be fatal to equilibrium, can desire to become extinct or
feeble so long as a constitutional monarchy exists in England. From
the reign of George I. to the death of George IV., the Beaumanoirs
were in the ascendant. Visit their family portrait gallery, and you
must admire the eminence of a house which, during that interval of
less than a century, contributed so many men to the service of the
State or the adornment of the Court,--so many Ministers, Ambassadors,
Generals, Lord Chamberlains, and Masters of the Horse. When the
younger Pitt beat the great Whig Houses, the Beaumanoirs vanish into
comparative obscurity; they reemerge with the accession of William
IV., and once more produce bulwarks of the State and ornaments of the
Crown. The present Lord of Beaumanoir, _poco curante_ in politics
though he be, has at least held high offices at Court; and, as a
matter of course, he is Lord Lieutenant of his county, as well as
Knight of the Garter. He is a man whom the chiefs of his party have
been accustomed to consult on critical questions. He gives his
opinions confidentially and modestly, and when they are rejected never
takes offence. He thinks that a time is coming when the head of the
Beaumanoirs should descend into the lists and fight hand-to-hand with
any Hodge or Hobson in the cause of his country for the benefit of the
Whigs. Too lazy or too old to do this himself, he says to his son,
"You must do it: without effort of mine the thing may last my life.
It needs effort of yours that the thing may last through your own."

Lord Thetford cheerfully responds to the paternal admonition. He
curbs his natural inclinations, which are neither inelegant nor
unmanly; for, on the one side, he is very fond of music and painting,
an accomplished amateur, and deemed a sound connoisseur in both; and,
on the other side, he has a passion for all field sports, and
especially for hunting. He allows no such attractions to interfere
with diligent attention to the business of the House of Commons. He
serves in Committees, he takes the chair at public meetings on
sanitary questions or projects for social improvement, and acquits
himself well therein. He has not yet spoken in debate, but he has
only been two years in Parliament, and he takes his father's wise
advice not to speak till the third. But he is not without weight
among the well-born youth of the party, and has in him the stuff out
of which, when it becomes seasoned, the Corinthian capitals of a
Cabinet may be very effectively carved. In his own heart he is
convinced that his party are going too far and too fast; but with that
party he goes on light-heartedly, and would continue to do so if they
went to Erebus. But he would prefer their going the other way. For
the rest, a pleasant, bright-eyed young fellow, with vivid animal
spirits; and, in the holiday moments of reprieve from public duty he
brings sunshine into draggling hunting-fields, and a fresh breeze into
heated ballrooms.

"My dear fellow," said Lord Thetford, as he threw aside his cigar, "I
quite understand that you bore yourself: you have nothing else to do."

"What can I do?"

"Work."

"Work!"

"Yes, you are clever enough to feel that you have a mind; and mind is
a restless inmate of body: it craves occupation of some sort, and
regular occupation too; it needs its daily constitutional exercise.
Do you give your mind that?"

"I am sure I don't know, but my mind is always busying itself about
something or other."

"In a desultory way,--with no fixed object."

"True."

"Write a book, and then it will have its constitutional."

"Nay, my mind is always writing a book (though it may not publish
one), always jotting down impressions, or inventing incidents, or
investigating characters; and between you and me, I do not think that
I do bore myself so much as I did formerly. Other people bore me more
than they did."

"Because you will not create an object in common with other people:
come into Parliament, side with a party, and you have that object."

"Do you mean seriously to tell me that you are not bored in the House
of Commons?"

"With the speakers very often, yes; but with the strife between the
speakers, no. The House of Commons life has a peculiar excitement
scarcely understood out of it; but you may conceive its charm when you
observe that a man who has once been in the thick of it feels forlorn
and shelved if he lose his seat, and even repines when the accident of
birth transfers him to the serener air of the Upper House. Try that
life, Chillingly."

"I might if I were an ultra-Radical, a Republican, a Communist, a
Socialist, and wished to upset everything existing, for then the
strife would at least be a very earnest one."

"But could not you be equally in earnest against those revolutionary
gentlemen?"

"Are you and your leaders in earnest against them? They don't appear
to me so."

Thetford was silent for a minute. "Well, if you doubt the principles
of my side, go with the other side. For my part, I and many of our
party would be glad to see the Conservatives stronger."

"I have no doubt they would. No sensible man likes to be carried off
his legs by the rush of the crowd behind him; and a crowd is less
headlong when it sees a strong force arrayed against it in front. But
it seems to me that, at present, Conservatism can but be what it now
is,--a party that may combine for resistance, and will not combine for
inventive construction. We are living in an age in which the process
of unsettlement is going blindly at work, as if impelled by a Nemesis
as blind as itself. New ideas come beating into surf and surge
against those which former reasoners had considered as fixed banks and
breakwaters; and the new ideas are so mutable, so fickle, that those
which were considered novel ten years ago are deemed obsolete to-day,
and the new ones of to-day will in their turn be obsolete to-morrow.
And, in a sort of fatalism, you see statesmen yielding way to these
successive mockeries of experiment,--for they are experiments against
experience,--and saying to each other with a shrug of the shoulders,
'Bismillah! it must be so; the country will have it, even though it
sends the country to the dogs.' I don't feel sure that the country
will not go there the sooner, if you can only strengthen the
Conservative element enough to set it up in office, with the certainty
of knocking it down again. Alas! I am too dispassionate a looker-on
to be fit for a partisan: would I were not! Address yourself to my
cousin Gordon."

"Ay, Chillingly Gordon is a coming man, and has all the earnestness
you find absent in party and in yourself."

"You call him earnest?"

"Thoroughly, in the pursuit of one object,--the advancement of
Chillingly Gordon. If he get into the House of Commons, and succeed
there, I hope he will never become my leader; for if he thought
Christianity in the way of his promotion, he would bring in a bill for
its abolition."

"In that case would he still be your leader?"

"My dear Kenelm, you don't know what is the spirit of party, and how
easily it makes excuses for any act of its leader. Of course, if
Gordon brought in a bill for the abolition of Christianity, it would
be on the plea that the abolition was good for the Christians, and his
followers would cheer that enlightened sentiment."

"Ah," said Kenelm, with a sigh, "I own myself the dullest of
blockheads; for instead of tempting me into the field of party
politics, your talk leaves me in stolid amaze that you do not take to
your heels, where honour can only be saved by flight."

"Pooh! my dear Chillingly, we cannot run away from the age in which we
live: we must accept its conditions and make the best of them; and if
the House of Commons be nothing else, it is a famous debating society
and a capital club. Think over it. I must leave you now. I am going
to see a picture at the Exhibition which has been most truculently
criticised in 'The Londoner,' but which I am assured, on good
authority, is a work of remarkable merit. I can't bear to see a man
snarled and sneered down, no doubt by jealous rivals, who have their
influence in journals, so I shall judge of the picture for myself. If
it be really as good as I am told, I shall talk about it to everybody
I meet; and in matters of art I fancy my word goes for something.
Study art, my dear Kenelm. No gentleman's education is complete if he
does n't know a good picture from a bad one. After the Exhibition I
shall just have time for a canter round the Park before the debate of
the session, which begins to-night."

With a light step the young man quitted the room, humming an air from
the "Figaro" as he descended the stairs. From the window Kenelm
watched him swinging himself with careless grace into his saddle and
riding briskly down the street,--in form and face and bearing a very
model of young, high-born, high-bred manhood. "The Venetians,"
muttered Kenelm, "decapitated Marino Faliero for conspiring against
his own order,--the nobles. The Venetians loved their institutions,
and had faith in them. Is there such love and such faith among the
English?"

As he thus soliloquized he heard a shrilling sort of squeak; and a
showman stationed before his window the stage on which Punch satirizes
the laws and moralities of the world, "kills the beadle and defies the
devil."



CHAPTER X.

KENELM turned from the sight of Punch and Punch's friend the cur, as
his servant, entering, said a person from the country, who would not
give his name, asked to see him.

Thinking it might be some message from his father, Kenelm ordered the
stranger to be admitted, and in another minute there entered a young
man of handsome countenance and powerful frame, in whom, after a
surprised stare, Kenelm recognized Tom Bowles. Difficult indeed would
have been that recognition to an unobservant beholder: no trace was
left of the sullen bully or the village farrier; the expression of the
face was mild and intelligent,--more bashful than hardy; the brute
strength of the form had lost its former clumsiness, the simple dress
was that of a gentleman,--to use an expressive idiom, the whole man
was wonderfully "toned down."

"I am afraid, sir, I am taking a liberty," said Tom, rather nervously,
twiddling his hat between his fingers.

"I should be a greater friend to liberty than I am if it were always
taken in the same way," said Kenelm, with a touch of his saturnine
humour; but then yielding at once to the warmer impulse of his nature,
he grasped his old antagonist's hand and exclaimed, "My dear Tom, you
are so welcome. I am so glad to see you. Sit down, man; sit down:
make yourself at home."

"I did not know you were back in England, sir, till within the last
few days; for you did say that when you came back I should see or hear
from you," and there was a tone of reproach in the last words.

"I am to blame, forgive me," said Kenelm, remorsefully. But how did
you find me out? you did not then, I think, even know my name. That,
however, it was easy enough to discover; but who gave you my address
in this lodging?"

"Well, sir, it was Miss Travers; and she bade me come to you.
Otherwise, as you did not send for me, it was scarcely my place to
call uninvited."

"But, my dear Tom, I never dreamed that you were in London. One don't
ask a man whom one supposes to be more than a hundred miles off to pay
one an afternoon call. You are still with your uncle, I presume? and
I need not ask if all thrives well with you: you look a prosperous
man, every inch of you, from crown to toe."

"Yes," said Tom; "thank you kindly, sir, I am doing well in the way of
business, and my uncle is to give me up the whole concern at
Christmas."

While Tom thus spoke Kenelm had summoned his servant, and ordered up
such refreshments as could be found in the larder of a bachelor in
lodgings. "And what brings you to town, Tom?"

"Miss Travers wrote to me about a little business which she was good
enough to manage for me, and said you wished to know about it; and so,
after turning it over in my mind for a few days, I resolved to come to
town: indeed," added Tom, heartily, "I did wish to see your face
again."

"But you talk riddles. What business of yours could Miss Travers
imagine I wished to know about?"

Tom coloured high, and looked very embarrassed. Luckily, the servant
here entering with the refreshment-tray allowed him time to recover
himself. Kenelm helped him to a liberal slice of cold pigeon-pie,
pressed wine on him, and did not renew the subject till he thought his
guest's tongue was likely to be more freely set loose; then he said,
laying a friendly hand on Tom's shoulders, "I have been thinking over
what passed between me and Miss Travers. I wished to have the new
address of Will Somers; she promised to write to his benefactor to ask
permission to give it. You are that benefactor?"

"Don't say benefactor, sir. I will tell how it came about if you will
let me. You see, I sold my little place at Graveleigh to the new
Squire, and when Mother removed to Luscombe to be near me, she told me
how poor Jessie had been annoyed by Captain Stavers, who seems to
think his purchase included the young women on the property along with
the standing timber; and I was half afraid that she had given some
cause for his persecution, for you know she has a blink of those soft
eyes of hers that might charm a wise man out of his skin and put a
fool there instead."

"But I hope she has done with those blinks since her marriage."

"Well, and I honestly think she has. It is certain she did not
encourage Captain Stavers, for I went over to Graveleigh myself on the
sly, and lodged concealed with one of the cottagers who owed me a
kindness; and one day, as I was at watch, I saw the Captain peering
over the stile which divides Holmwood from the glebe,--you remember
Holmwood?"

"I can't say I do."

"The footway from the village to Squire Travers's goes through the
wood, which is a few hundred yards at the back of Will Somers's
orchard. Presently the Captain drew himself suddenly back from the
stile, and disappeared among the trees, and then I saw Jessie coming
from the orchard with a basket over her arm, and walking quick towards
the wood. Then, sir, my heart sank. I felt sure she was going to
meet the Captain. However, I crept along the hedgerow, hiding myself,
and got into the wood almost as soon as Jessie got there, by another
way. Under the cover of the brushwood I stole on till I saw the
Captain come out from the copse on the other side of the path, and
plant himself just before Jessie. Then I saw at once I had wronged
her. She had not expected to see him, for she hastily turned back,
and began to run homeward; but he caught her up, and seized her by the
arm. I could not hear what he said, but I heard her voice quite sharp
with fright and anger. And then he suddenly seized her round the
waist, and she screamed, and I sprang forward--"

"And thrashed the Captain?"

"No, I did not," said Tom; "I had made a vow to myself that I never
would be violent again if I could help it. So I took him with one
hand by the cuff of the neck, and with the other by the waistband, and
just pitched him on a bramble bush,--quite mildly. He soon picked
himself up, for he is a dapper little chap, and became very blustering
and abusive. But I kept my temper, and said civilly, 'Little
gentleman, hard words break no bones; but if ever you molest Mrs.
Somers again, I will carry you into her orchard, souse you into the
duck-pond there, and call all the villagers to see you scramble out of
it again; and I will do it now if you are not off. I dare say you
have heard of my name: I am Tom Bowles.' Upon that his face, which
was before very red, grew very white, and muttering something I did
not hear, he walked away.

"Jessie--I mean Mrs. Somers--seemed at first as much frightened at me
as she had been at the Captain; and though I offered to walk with her
to Miss Travers's, where she was going with a basket which the young
lady had ordered, she refused, and went back home. I felt hurt, and
returned to my uncle's the same evening; and it was not for months
that I heard the Captain had been spiteful enough to set up an
opposition shop, and that poor Will had been taken ill, and his wife
was confined about the same time, and the talk was that they were in
distress and might have to be sold up.

"When I heard all this, I thought that after all it was my rough
tongue that had so angered the Captain and been the cause of his
spite, and so it was my duty to make it up to poor Will and his wife.
I did not know how to set about mending matters, but I thought I'd go
and talk to Miss Travers; and if ever there was a kind heart in a
girl's breast, hers is one."

"You are right there, I guess. What did Miss Travers say?"

"Nay; I hardly know what she did say, but she set me thinking, and it
struck me that Jessie--Mrs. Somers--had better move to a distance, and
out of the Captain's reach, and that Will would do better in a less
out-of-the-way place. And then, by good luck, I read in the newspaper
that a stationary and a fancywork business, with a circulating
library, was to be sold on moderate terms at Moleswich, the other side
of London. So I took the train and went to the place, and thought the
shop would just suit these young folks, and not be too much work for
either; then I went to Miss Travers, and I had a lot of money lying by
me from the sale of the old forge and premises, which I did not know
what to do with; and so, to cut short a long story, I bought the
business, and Will and his wife are settled at Moleswich, thriving and
happy, I hope, sir."

Tom's voice quivered at the last words, and he turned aside quickly,
passing his hand over his eyes.

Kenelm was greatly moved.

"And they don't know what you did for them?"

"To be sure not. I don't think Will would have let him self be
beholden to me. Ah! the lad has a spirit of his own, and Jessie--Mrs.
Somers--would have felt pained and humbled that I should even think of
such a thing. Miss Travers managed it all. They take the money as a
loan which is to be paid by instalments. They have sent Miss Travers
more than one instalment already, so I know they are doing well."

"A loan from Miss Travers?"

"No; Miss Travers wanted to have a share in it, but I begged her not.
It made me happy to do what I did all myself; and Miss Travers felt
for me and did not press. They perhaps think it is Squire Travers
(though he is not a man who would like to say it, for fear it should
bring applicants on him), or some other gentleman who takes an
interest in them."

"I always said you were a grand fellow, Tom. But you are grander
still than I thought you."

"If there be any good in me, I owe it to you, sir. Think what a
drunken, violent brute I was when I first met you. Those walks with
you, and I may say that other gentleman's talk, and then that long
kind letter I had from you, not signed in your name, and written from
abroad,--all these changed me, as the child is changed at nurse."

"You have evidently read a good deal since we parted."

"Yes; I belong to our young men's library and institute; and when of
an evening I get hold of a book, especially a pleasant story-book, I
don't care for other company."

"Have you never seen any other girl you could care for, and wish to
marry?"

"Ah, sir," answered Tom, "a man does not go so mad for a girl as I did
for Jessie Wiles, and when it is all over, and he has come to his
senses, put his heart into joint again as easily as if it were only a
broken leg. I don't say that I may not live to love and to marry
another woman: it is my wish to do so. But I know that I shall love
Jessie to my dying day; but not sinfully, sir,--not sinfully. I would
not wrong her by a thought."

There was a long pause.

At last Kenelm said, "You promised to be kind to that little girl with
the flower-ball; what has become of her?"

"She is quite well, thank you, sir. My aunt has taken a great fancy
to her, and so has my mother. She comes to them very often of an
evening, and brings her work with her. A quick, intelligent little
thing, and full of pretty thoughts. On Sundays, if the weather is
fine, we stroll out together in the fields."

"She has been a comfort to you, Tom."

"Oh, yes."

"And loves you?"

"I am sure she does; an affectionate, grateful child."

"She will be a woman soon, Tom, and may love you as a woman then."

Tom looked indignant and rather scornful at that suggestion, and
hastened to revert to the subject more immediately at his heart.

"Miss Travers said you would like to call on Will Somers and his wife;
will you? Moleswich is not far from London, you know."

"Certainly, I will call."

"I do hope you will find them happy; and if so, perhaps you will
kindly let me know; and--and--I wonder whether Jessie's child is like
her? It is a boy; somehow or other I would rather it had been a
girl."

"I will write you full particulars. But why not come with me?"

"No, I don't think I could do that, just at present. It unsettled me
sadly when I did again see her sweet face at Graveleigh, and she was
still afraid of me too! that was a sharp pang."

"She ought to know what you have done for her, and will."

"On no account, sir; promise me that. I should feel mean if I humbled
them,--that way."

"I understand, though I will not as yet make you any positive promise.
Meanwhile, if you are staying in town, lodge with me; my landlady can
find you a room."

"Thank you heartily, sir; but I go back by the evening train; and,
bless me! how late it is now! I must wish you good-by. I have some
commissions to do for my aunt, and I must buy a new doll for Susey."

"Susey is the name of the little girl with the flower-ball?"

"Yes. I must run off now; I feel quite light at heart seeing you
again and finding that you receive me still so kindly, as if we were
equals."

"Ah, Tom, I wish I was your equal,--nay, half as noble as Heaven has
made you!"

Tom laughed incredulously, and went his way.

"This mischievous passion of love," said Kenelm to himself, "has its
good side, it seems, after all. If it was nearly making a wild beast
of that brave fellow,--nay, worse than wild beast, a homicide doomed
to the gibbet,--so, on the other hand, what a refined, delicate,
chivalrous nature of gentleman it has developed out of the stormy
elements of its first madness! Yes, I will go and look at this
new-married couple. I dare say they are already snarling and spitting
at each other like cat and dog. Moleswich is within reach of a walk."



BOOK V.



CHAPTER I.

TWO days after the interview recorded in the last chapter of the
previous Book, Travers, chancing to call at Kenelm's lodgings, was
told by his servant that Mr. Chillingly had left London, alone, and
had given no orders as to forwarding letters. The servant did not
know where he had gone, or when he would return.

Travers repeated this news incidentally to Cecilia, and she felt
somewhat hurt that he had not written her a line respecting Tom's
visit. She, however, guessed that he had gone to see the Somerses,
and would return to town in a day or so. But weeks passed, the season
drew to its close, and of Kenelm Chillingly she saw or heard nothing:
he had wholly vanished from the London world. He had but written a
line to his servant, ordering him to repair to Exmundham and await him
there, and enclosing him a check to pay outstanding bills.

We must now follow the devious steps of the strange being who has
grown into the hero of this story. He had left his apartment at
daybreak long before his servant was up, with his knapsack, and a
small portmanteau, into which he had thrust--besides such additional
articles of dress as he thought he might possibly require, and which
his knapsack could not contain--a few of his favourite books. Driving
with these in a hack-cab to the Vauxhall station, he directed the
portmanteau to be forwarded to Moleswich, and flinging the knapsack on
his shoulders, walked slowly along the drowsy suburbs that stretched
far into the landscape, before, breathing more freely, he found some
evidences of rural culture on either side of the high road. It was
not, however, till he had left the roofs and trees of pleasant
Richmond far behind him that he began to feel he was out of reach of
the metropolitan disquieting influences. Finding at a little inn,
where he stopped to breakfast, that there was a path along fields, and
in sight of the river, through which he could gain the place of his
destination, he then quitted the high road, and traversing one of the
loveliest districts in one of our loveliest counties, he reached
Moleswich about noon.



CHAPTER II.

ON entering the main street of the pretty town, the name of Somers, in
gilt capitals, was sufficiently conspicuous over the door of a very
imposing shop. It boasted two plate-glass windows, at one of which
were tastefully exhibited various articles of fine stationery,
embroidery patterns, etc.; at the other, no less tastefully, sundry
specimens of ornamental basket-work.

Kenelm crossed the threshold and recognized behind the counter--fair
as ever, but with an expression of face more staid, and a figure more
rounded and matron-like--his old friend Jessie. There were two or
three customers before her, between whom she was dividing her
attention. While a handsome young lady, seated, was saying, in a
somewhat loud but cheery and pleasant voice, "Do not mind me, Mrs.
Somers: I can wait," Jessie's quick eye darted towards the stranger,
but too rapidly to distinguish his features, which, indeed, he turned
away, and began to examine the baskets.

In a minute or so the other customers were served and had departed;
and the voice of the lady was again heard, "Now, Mrs. Somers, I want
to see your picture-books and toys. I am giving a little children's
party this afternoon, and I want to make them as happy as possible."

"Somewhere or other, on this planet, or before my Monad was whisked
away to it, I have heard that voice," muttered Kenelm. While Jessie
was alertly bringing forth her toys and picture-books, she said, "I am
sorry to keep you waiting, sir; but if it is the baskets you come
about, I can call my husband."

"Do," said Kenelm.

"William, William," cried Mrs. Somers; and after a delay long enough
to allow him to slip on his jacket, William Somers emerged from the
back parlour.

His face had lost its old trace of suffering and ill health; it was
still somewhat pale, and retained its expression of intellectual
refinement.

"How you have improved in your art!" said Kenelm, heartily.

William started, and recognized Kenelm at once. He sprang forward and
took Kenelm's outstretched hand in both his own, and, in a voice
between laughing and crying, exclaimed, "Jessie, Jessie, it is he!--he
whom we pray for every night. God bless you! God bless and make you
as happy as He permitted you to make me!"

Before this little speech was faltered out, Jessie was by her
husband's side, and she added, in a lower voice, but tremulous with
deep feeling, "And me too!"

"By your leave, Will," said Kenelm, and he saluted Jessie's white
forehead with a kiss that could not have been kindlier or colder if it
had been her grandfather's.

Meanwhile the lady had risen noiselessly and unobserved, and stealing
up to Kenelm, looked him full in the face.

"You have another friend here, sir, who has also some cause to thank
you--"

"I thought I remembered your voice," said Kenelm, looking puzzled.
"But pardon me if I cannot recall your features. Where have we met
before?"

"Give me your arm when we go out, and I will bring myself to your
recollection. But no: I must not hurry you away now. I will call
again in half an hour. Mrs. Somers, meanwhile put up the things I
have selected. I will take them away with me when I come back from
the vicarage, where I have left the pony-carriage." So, with a
parting nod and smile to Kenelm, she turned away, and left him
bewildered.

"But who is that lady, Will?"

"A Mrs. Braefield. She is a new comer."

"She may well be that, Will," said Jessie, smiling, "for she has only
been married six months."

"And what was her name before she married?"

"I am sure I don't know, sir. It is only three months since we came
here, and she has been very kind to us and an excellent customer.
Everybody likes her. Mr. Braefield is a city gentleman and very rich;
and they live in the finest house in the place, and see a great deal
of company."

"Well, I am no wiser than I was before," said Kenelm. "People who ask
questions very seldom are."

"And how did you find us out, sir?" said Jessie. "Oh! I guess," she
added, with an arch glance and smile. "Of course, you have seen Miss
Travers, and she told you."

"You are right. I first learned your change of residence from her,
and thought I would come and see you, and be introduced to the
baby,--a boy, I understand? Like you, Will?"

"No, sir, the picture of Jessie."

"Nonsense, Will; it is you all over, even to its little hands."

"And your good mother, Will, how did you leave her?"

"Oh, sir!" cried Jessie, reproachfully; "do you think we could have
the heart to leave Mother,--so lone and rheumatic too? She is tending
baby now,--always does while I am in the shop."

Here Kenelm followed the young couple into the parlour, where, seated
by the window, they found old Mrs. Somers reading the Bible and
rocking the baby, who slept peacefully in its cradle.

"Will," said Kenelm, bending his dark face over the infant, "I will
tell you a pretty thought of a foreign poet's, which has been thus
badly translated:


 "'Blest babe, a boundless world this bed so narrow seems to thee;
  Grow man, and narrower than this bed the boundless world shall
  be.'"[1]


  [1] Schiller.


"I don't think that is true, sir," said Will, simply; "for a happy
home is a world wide enough for any man."

Tears started into Jessie's eyes; she bent down and kissed--not the
baby, but the cradle. "Will made it." She added blushing, "I mean
the cradle, sir."

Time flew past while Kenelm talked with Will and the old mother, for
Jessie was soon summoned back to the shop; and Kenelm was startled
when he found the half-hour's grace allowed to him was over, and
Jessie put her head in at the door and said, "Mrs. Braefield is
waiting for you."

"Good-by, Will; I shall come to see you again soon; and my mother
gives me a commission to buy I don't know how many specimens of your
craft."



CHAPTER III.

A SMART pony-phaeton, with a box for a driver in livery equally smart,
stood at the shop-door.

"Now, Mr. Chillingly," said Mrs. Braefield, "it is my turn to run away
with you; get in!"

"Eh!" murmured Kenelm, gazing at her with large dreamy eyes. "Is it
possible?"

"Quite possible; get in. Coachman, home! Yes, Mr. Chillingly, you
meet again that giddy creature whom you threatened to thrash; it would
have served her right. I ought to feel so ashamed to recall myself to
your recollection, and yet I am not a bit ashamed. I am proud to show
you that I have turned out a steady, respectable woman, and, my
husband tells me, a good wife."

"You have only been six months married, I hear," said Kenelm, dryly.
"I hope your husband will say the same six years hence."

"He will say the same sixty years hence, if we live as long."

"How old is he now?"

"Thirty-eight."

"When a man wants only two years of his hundredth, he probably has
learned to know his own mind; but then, in most cases, very little
mind is left to him to know."

"Don't be satirical, sir; and don't talk as if you were railing at
marriage, when you have just left as happy a young couple as the sun
ever shone upon; and owing,--for Mrs. Somers has told me all about her
marriage,--owing their happiness to you."

"Their happiness to me! not in the least. I helped them to marry, and
in spite of marriage they helped each other to be happy."

"You are still unmarried yourself?"

"Yes, thank Heaven!"

"And are you happy?"

"No; I can't make myself happy: myself is a discontented brute."

"Then why do you say 'thank Heaven'?"

"Because it is a comfort to think I am not making somebody else
unhappy."

"Do you believe that if you loved a wife who loved you, you should
make her unhappy?"

"I am sure I don't know; but I have not seen a woman whom I could love
as a wife. And we need not push our inquiries further. What has
become of that ill-treated gray cob?"

"He was quite well, thank you, when I last heard of him."

"And the uncle who would have inflicted me upon you, if you had not so
gallantly defended yourself?"

"He is living where he did live, and has married his housekeeper. He
felt a delicate scruple against taking that step till I was married
myself and out of the way."

Here Mrs. Braefield, beginning to speak very hurriedly, as women who
seek to disguise emotion often do, informed Kenelm how unhappy she had
felt for weeks after having found an asylum with her aunt,--how she
had been stung by remorse and oppressed by a sense of humiliation at
the thought of her folly and the odious recollection of Mr.
Compton,--how she had declared to herself that she would never marry
any one now--never! How Mr. Braefield happened to be on a visit in
the neighbourhood, and saw her at church,--how he had sought an
introduction to her,--and how at first she rather disliked him than
not; but he was so good and so kind, and when at last he proposed--and
she had frankly told him all about her girlish flight and
infatuation--how generously he had thanked her for a candour which had
placed her as high in his esteem as she had been before in his love.
"And from that moment," said Mrs. Braefield, passionately, "my whole
heart leaped to him. And now you know all; and here we are at the
Lodge."

The pony-phaeton went with great speed up a broad gravel-drive,
bordered with rare evergreens, and stopped at a handsome house with a
portico in front, and a long conservatory at the garden side,--one of
those houses which belong to "city gentlemen," and often contain more
comfort and exhibit more luxury than many a stately manorial mansion.

Mrs. Braefield evidently felt some pride as she led Kenelm through the
handsome hall, paved with Malvern tiles and adorned with Scagliola
columns, and into a drawing-room furnished with much taste and opening
on a spacious flower-garden.

"But where is Mr. Braefield?" asked Kenelm.

"Oh, he has taken the rail to his office; but he will be back long
before dinner, and of course you dine with us."

"You're very hospitable, but--"

"No buts: I will take no excuse. Don't fear that you shall have only
mutton-chops and a rice-pudding; and, besides, I have a children's
party coming at two o'clock, and there will be all sorts of fun. You
are fond of children, I am sure?"

"I rather think I am not. But I have never clearly ascertained my own
inclinations upon that subject."

"Well, you shall have ample opportunity to do so to-day. And oh! I
promise you the sight of the loveliest face that you can picture to
yourself when you think of your future wife."

"My future wife, I hope, is not yet born," said Kenelm, wearily, and
with much effort suppressing a yawn. "But at all events, I will stay
till after two o'clock; for two o'clock, I presume, means luncheon."

Mrs. Braefield laughed. "You retain your appetite?"

"Most single men do, provided they don't fall in love and become
doubled up."

At this abominable attempt at a pun, Mrs. Braefield disdained to
laugh; but turning away from its perpetrator she took off her hat and
gloves and passed her hands lightly over her forehead, as if to smooth
back some vagrant tress in locks already sufficiently sheen and trim.
She was not quite so pretty in female attire as she had appeared in
boy's dress, nor did she look quite as young. In all other respects
she was wonderfully improved. There was a serener, a more settled
intelligence in her frank bright eyes, a milder expression in the play
of her parted lips. Kenelm gazed at her with pleased admiration. And
as now, turning from the glass, she encountered his look, a deeper
colour came into the clear delicacy of her cheeks, and the frank eyes
moistened. She came up to him as he sat, and took his hand in both
hers, pressing it warmly. "Ah, Mr. Chillingly," she said, with
impulsive tremulous tones, "look round, look round this happy,
peaceful home!--the life so free from a care, the husband whom I so
love and honour; all the blessings that I might have so recklessly
lost forever had I not met with you, had I been punished as I
deserved. How often I thought of your words, that 'you would be proud
of my friendship when we met again'! What strength they gave me in my
hours of humbled self-reproach!" Her voice here died away as if in
the effort to suppress a sob.

She released his hand, and, before he could answer, passed quickly
through the open sash into the garden.



CHAPTER IV.

THE children have come,--some thirty of them, pretty as English
children generally are, happy in the joy of the summer sunshine, and
the flower lawns, and the feast under cover of an awning suspended
between chestnut-trees, and carpeted with sward.

No doubt Kenelm held his own at the banquet, and did his best to
increase the general gayety, for whenever he spoke the children
listened eagerly, and when he had done they laughed mirthfully.

"The fair face I promised you," whispered Mrs. Braefield, "is not here
yet. I have a little note from the young lady to say that Mrs.
Cameron does not feel very well this morning, but hopes to recover
sufficiently to come later in the afternoon."

"And pray who is Mrs. Cameron?"

"Ah! I forgot that you are a stranger to the place. Mrs. Cameron is
the aunt with whom Lily resides. Is it not a pretty name, Lily?"

"Very! emblematic of a spinster that does not spin, with a white head
and a thin stalk."

"Then the name belies my Lily, as you will see."

The children now finished their feast, and betook themselves to
dancing in an alley smoothed for a croquet-ground, and to the sound of
a violin played by the old grandfather of one of the party. While
Mrs. Braefield was busying herself with forming the dance, Kenelm
seized the occasion to escape from a young nymph of the age of twelve
who had sat next him at the banquet, and taken so great a fancy to him
that he began to fear she would vow never to forsake his side, and
stole away undetected.

There are times when the mirth of others only saddens us, especially
the mirth of children with high spirits, that jar on our own quiet
mood. Gliding through a dense shrubbery, in which, though the lilacs
were faded, the laburnum still retained here and there the waning gold
of its clusters, Kenelm came into a recess which bounded his steps and
invited him to repose. It was a circle, so formed artificially by
slight trellises, to which clung parasite roses heavy with leaves and
flowers. In the midst played a tiny fountain with a silvery murmuring
sound; at the background, dominating the place, rose the crests of
stately trees, on which the sunlight shimmered, but which rampired out
all horizon beyond. Even as in life do the great dominant
passions--love, ambition, desire of power or gold or fame or
knowledge--form the proud background to the brief-lived flowerets of
our youth, lift our eyes beyond the smile of their bloom, catch the
glint of a loftier sunbeam, and yet, and yet, exclude our sight from
the lengths and the widths of the space which extends behind and
beyond them.

Kenelm threw himself on the turf beside the fountain. From afar came
the whoop and the laugh of the children in their sports or their
dance. At the distance their joy did not sadden him,--he marvelled
why; and thus, in musing revery, thought to explain the why to
himself.

"The poet," so ran his lazy thinking, "has told us that 'distance
lends enchantment to the view,' and thus compares to the charm of
distance the illusion of hope. But the poet narrows the scope of his
own illustration. Distance lends enchantment to the ear as well as to
the sight; nor to these bodily senses alone. Memory no less than hope
owes its charm to 'the far away.'

"I cannot imagine myself again a child when I am in the midst of young
noisy children. But as their noise reaches me here, subdued and
mellowed, and knowing, thank Heaven, that the urchins are not within
reach of me, I could readily dream myself back into childhood, and
into sympathy with the lost playfields of school.

"So surely it must be with grief: how different the terrible agony for
a beloved one just gone from earth, to the soft regret for one who
disappeared into Heaven years ago! So with the art of poetry: how
imperatively, when it deals with the great emotions of tragedy, it
must remove the actors from us, in proportion as the emotions are to
elevate, and the tragedy is to please us by the tears it draws!
Imagine our shock if a poet were to place on the stage some wise
gentleman with whom we dined yesterday, and who was discovered to have
killed his father and married his mother. But when Oedipus commits
those unhappy mistakes nobody is shocked. Oxford in the nineteenth
century is a long way off from Thebes three thousand or four thousand
years ago.

"And," continued Kenelm, plunging deeper into the maze of metaphysical
criticism, "even where the poet deals with persons and things close
upon our daily sight,--if he would give them poetic charm he must
resort to a sort of moral or psychological distance; the nearer they
are to us in external circumstance, the farther they must be in some
internal peculiarities. Werter and Clarissa Harlowe are described as
contemporaries of their artistic creation, and with the minutest
details of apparent realism; yet they are at once removed from our
daily lives by their idiosyncrasies and their fates. We know that
while Werter and Clarissa are so near to us in much that we sympathize
with them as friends and kinsfolk, they are yet as much remote from us
in the poetic and idealized side of their natures as if they belonged
to the age of Homer; and this it is that invests with charm the very
pain which their fate inflicts on us. Thus, I suppose, it must be in
love. If the love we feel is to have the glamour of poetry, it must
be love for some one morally at a distance from our ordinary habitual
selves; in short, differing from us in attributes which, however near
we draw to the possessor, we can never approach, never blend, in
attributes of our own; so that there is something in the loved one
that always remains an ideal,--a mystery,--'a sun-bright summit
mingling with the sky'!"

Herewith the soliloquist's musings glided vaguely into mere revery.
He closed his eyes drowsily, not asleep, nor yet quite awake; as
sometimes in bright summer days when we recline on the grass we do
close our eyes, and yet dimly recognize a golden light bathing the
drowsy lids; and athwart that light images come and go like dreams,
though we know that we are not dreaming.



CHAPTER V.

FROM this state, half comatose, half unconscious, Kenelm was roused
slowly, reluctantly. Something struck softly on his cheek,--again a
little less softly; he opened his eyes, they fell first upon two tiny
rosebuds, which, on striking his face, had fallen on his breast; and
then looking up, he saw before him, in an opening of the trellised
circle, a female child's laughing face. Her hand was still uplifted
charged with another rosebud, but behind the child's figure, looking
over her shoulder and holding back the menacing arm, was a face as
innocent but lovelier far,--the face of a girl in her first youth,
framed round with the blossoms that festooned the trellise. How the
face became the flowers! It seemed the fairy spirit of them.

Kenelm started and rose to his feet. The child, the one whom he had
so ungallantly escaped from ran towards him through a wicket in the
circle. Her companion disappeared.

"Is it you?" said Kenelm to the child, "you who pelted me so cruelly?
Ungrateful creature! Did I not give you the best strawberries in the
dish and all my own cream?"

"But why did you run away and hide yourself when you ought to be
dancing with me?" replied the young lady, evading, with the instinct
of her sex, all answer to the reproach she had deserved.

"I did not run away, and it is clear that I did not mean to hide
myself, since you so easily found me out. But who was the young lady
with you? I suspect she pelted me too, for she seems to have run away
to hide herself."

"No, she did not pelt you; she wanted to stop me, and you would have
had another rosebud--oh, so much bigger!--if she had not held back my
arm. Don't you know her,--don't you know Lily?"

"No; so that is Lily? You shall introduce me to her."

By this time they had passed out of the circle through the little
wicket opposite the path by which Kenelm had entered, and opening at
once on the lawn. Here at some distance the children were grouped,
some reclined on the grass, some walking to and fro, in the interval
of the dance.

In the space between the group and the trellise Lily was walking alone
and quickly. The child left Kenelm's side and ran after her friend,
soon overtook, but did not succeed in arresting her steps. Lily did
not pause till she had reached the grassy ball-room, and here all the
children came round her and shut out her delicate form from Kenelm's
sight.

Before he had reached the place, Mrs. Braefield met him.

"Lily is come!"

"I know it: I have seen her."

"Is not she beautiful?"

"I must see more of her if I am to answer critically; but before you
introduce me, may I be permitted to ask who and what is Lily?"

Mrs. Braefield paused a moment before she answered, and yet the answer
was brief enough not to need much consideration. "She is a Miss
Mordaunt, an orphan; and, as I before told you, resides with her aunt,
Mrs. Cameron, a widow. They have the prettiest cottage you ever saw
on the banks of the river, or rather rivulet, about a mile from this
place. Mrs. Cameron is a very good, simple-hearted woman. As to
Lily, I can praise her beauty only with safe conscience, for as yet
she is a mere child,--her mind quite unformed."

"Did you ever meet any man, much less any woman, whose mind was
formed?" muttered Kenelm. "I am sure mine is not, and never will be
on this earth."

Mrs. Braefield did not hear this low-voiced observation. She was
looking about for Lily; and perceiving her at last as the children who
surrounded her were dispersing to renew the dance, she took Kenelm's
arm, led him to the young lady, and a formal introduction took place.

Formal as it could be on those sunlit swards, amidst the joy of summer
and the laugh of children. In such scene and such circumstance
formality does not last long. I know not how it was, but in a very
few minutes Kenelm and Lily had ceased to be strangers to each other.
They found themselves seated apart from the rest of the merry-makers,
on the bank shadowed by lime-trees; the man listening with downcast
eyes, the girl with mobile shifting glances now on earth, now on
heaven, and talking freely; gayly,--like the babble of a happy stream,
with a silvery dulcet voice and a sparkle of rippling smiles.

No doubt this is a reversal of the formalities of well-bred life, and
conventional narrating thereof. According to them, no doubt, it is
for the man to talk and the maid to listen; but I state the facts as
they were, honestly. And Lily knew no more of the formalities of
drawing-room life than a skylark fresh from its nest knows of the
song-teacher and the cage. She was still so much of a child. Mrs.
Braefield was right: her mind was still so unformed.

What she did talk about in that first talk between them that could
make the meditative Kenelm listen so mutely, so intently, I know not,
at least I could not jot it down on paper. I fear it was very
egotistical, as the talk of children generally is,--about herself and
her aunt, and her home and her friends; all her friends seemed
children like herself, though younger,--Clemmy the chief of them.
Clemmy was the one who had taken a fancy to Kenelm. And amidst all
this ingenuous prattle there came flashes of a quick intellect, a
lively fancy,--nay, even a poetry of expression or of sentiment. It
might be the talk of a child, but certainly not of a silly child. But
as soon as the dance was over, the little ones again gathered round
Lily. Evidently she was the prime favourite of them all; and as her
companion had now become tired of dancing, new sports were proposed,
and Lily was carried off to "Prisoner's Base."

"I am very happy to make your acquaintance, Mr. Chillingly," said a
frank, pleasant voice; and a well-dressed, good-looking man held out
his hand to Kenelm.

"My husband," said Mrs. Braefield, with a certain pride in her look.

Kenelm responded cordially to the civilities of the master of the
house, who had just returned from his city office, and left all its
cares behind him. You had only to look at him to see that he was
prosperous, and deserved to be so. There were in his countenance the
signs of strong sense, of good-humour,--above all, of an active
energetic temperament. A man of broad smooth forehead, keen hazel
eyes, firm lips and jaw; with a happy contentment in himself, his
house, the world in general, mantling over his genial smile, and
outspoken in the metallic ring of his voice.

"You will stay and dine with us, of course," said Mr. Braefield; "and,
unless you want very much to be in town to-night, I hope you will take
a bed here."

Kenelm hesitated.

"Do stay at least till to-morrow," said Mrs. Braefield. Kenelm
hesitated still; and while hesitating his eye rested on Lily,
leaning on the arm of a middle-aged lady, and approaching the
hostess,--evidently to take leave.

"I cannot resist so tempting an invitation," said Kenelm, and he fell
back a little behind Lily and her companion.

"Thank you much for so pleasant a day," said Mrs. Cameron to the
hostess. "Lily has enjoyed herself extremely. I only regret we could
not come earlier."

"If you are walking home," said Mr. Braefield, "let me accompany you.
I want to speak to your gardener about his heart's-ease: it is much
finer than mine."

"If so," said Kenelm to Lily, "may I come too? Of all flowers that
grow, heart's-ease is the one I most prize."

A few minutes afterwards Kenelm was walking by the side of Lily along
the banks of a little stream, tributary to the Thames; Mrs. Cameron
and Mr. Braefield in advance, for the path only held two abreast.

Suddenly Lily left his side, allured by a rare butterfly--I think it
is called the Emperor of Morocco--that was sunning its yellow wings
upon a group of wild reeds. She succeeded in capturing this wanderer
in her straw hat, over which she drew her sun-veil. After this
notable capture she returned demurely to Kenelm's side.

"Do you collect insects?" said that philosopher, as much surprised as
it was his nature to be at anything.

"Only butterflies," answered Lily; "they are not insects, you know;
they are souls."

"Emblems of souls you mean,--at least, so the Greeks prettily
represented them to be."

"No, real souls,--the souls of infants that die in their cradles
unbaptized; and if they are taken care of, and not eaten by birds, and
live a year then they pass into fairies."

"It is a very poetical idea, Miss Mordaunt, and founded on evidence
quite as rational as other assertions of the metamorphosis of one
creature into another. Perhaps you can do what the philosophers
cannot,--tell me how you learned a new idea to be an incontestable
fact?"

"I don't know," replied Lily, looking very much puzzled; "perhaps I
learned it in a book, or perhaps I dreamed it."

"You could not make a wiser answer if you were a philosopher. But you
talk of taking care of butterflies; how do you do that? Do you impale
them on pins stuck into a glass case?"

"Impale them! How can you talk so cruelly? You deserve to be pinched
by the fairies."

"I am afraid," thought Kenelm, compassionately, "that my companion has
no mind to be formed; what is euphoniously called 'an innocent.'"

He shook his head and remained silent. Lily resumed,--

"I will show you my collection when we get home; they seem so happy.
I am sure there are some of them who know me: they will feed from my
hand. I have only had one die since I began to collect them last
summer."

"Then you have kept them a year: they ought to have turned into
fairies."

"I suppose many of them have. Of course I let out all those that had
been with me twelve months: they don't turn to fairies in the cage,
you know. Now I have only those I caught this year, or last autumn;
the prettiest don't appear till the autumn."

The girl here bent her uncovered head over the straw hat, her tresses
shadowing it, and uttered loving words to the prisoner. Then again
she looked up and around her, and abruptly stopped, and exclaimed,--

"How can people live in towns? How can people say they are ever dull
in the country? Look," she continued, gravely and earnestly, "look at
that tall pine-tree, with its long branch sweeping over the water; see
how, as the breeze catches it, it changes its shadow, and how the
shadow changes the play of the sunlight on the brook:--


 "'Wave your tops, ye pines;
  With every plant, in sign of worship wave.'


"What an interchange of music there must be between Nature and a poet!"

Kenelm was startled. This "an innocent"!--this a girl who had no mind
to be formed! In that presence he could not be cynical; could not
speak of Nature as a mechanism, a lying humbug, as he had done to the
man poet. He replied gravely,--

"The Creator has gifted the whole universe with language, but few are
the hearts that can interpret it. Happy those to whom it is no
foreign tongue, acquired imperfectly with care and pain, but rather a
native language, learned unconsciously from the lips of the great
mother. To them the butterfly's wing may well buoy into heaven a
fairy's soul!"

When he had thus said Lily turned, and for the first time attentively
looked into his dark soft eyes; then instinctively she laid her light
hand on his arm, and said in a low voice, "Talk on; talk thus: I like
to hear you."

But Kenelm did not talk on. They had now arrived at the garden-gate
of Mrs. Cameron's cottage, and the elder persons in advance paused at
the gate and walked with them to the house.

It was a long, low, irregular cottage, without pretension to
architectural beauty, yet exceedingly picturesque,--a flower-garden,
large, but in proportion to the house, with parterres in which the
colours were exquisitely assorted, sloping to the grassy margin of the
rivulet, where the stream expanded into a lake-like basin, narrowed at
either end by locks, from which with gentle sound flowed shallow
waterfalls. By the banks was a rustic seat, half overshadowed by the
drooping boughs of a vast willow.

The inside of the house was in harmony with the
exterior,--cottage-like, but with an unmistakable air of refinement
about the rooms, even in the little entrance-hall, which was painted
in Pompeian frescos.

"Come and see my butterfly-cage," said Lily, whisperingly.

Kenelm followed her through the window that opened on the garden; and
at one end of a small conservatory, or rather greenhouse, was the
habitation of these singular favourites. It was as large as a small
room; three sides of it formed by minute wirework, with occasional
draperies of muslin or other slight material, and covered at
intervals, sometimes within, sometimes without, by dainty creepers; a
tiny cistern in the centre, from which upsprang a sparkling jet. Lily
cautiously lifted a sash-door and glided in, closing it behind her.
Her entrance set in movement a multitude of gossamer wings, some
fluttering round her, some more boldly settling on her hair or dress.
Kenelm thought she had not vainly boasted when she said that some of
the creatures had learned to know her. She released the Emperor of
Morocco from her hat; it circled round her fearlessly, and then
vanished amidst the leaves of the creepers. Lily opened the door and
came out.

"I have heard of a philosopher who tamed a wasp," said Kenelm, "but
never before of a young lady who tamed butterflies."

"No," said Lily, proudly; "I believe I am the first who attempted it.
I don't think I should have attempted it if I had been told that
others had succeeded before me. Not that I have succeeded quite. No
matter; if they don't love me, I love them."

They re-entered the drawing-room, and Mrs. Cameron addressed Kenelm.

"Do you know much of this part of the country, Mr. Chillingly?"

"It is quite new to me, and more rural than many districts farther
from London."

"That is the good fortune of most of our home counties," said Mr.
Braefield; "they escape the smoke and din of manufacturing towns, and
agricultural science has not demolished their leafy hedgerows. The
walks through our green lanes are as much bordered with convolvulus
and honeysuckle as they were when Izaak Walton sauntered through them
to angle in that stream!"

"Does tradition say that he angled in that stream? I thought his
haunts were rather on the other side of London."

"Possibly; I am not learned in Walton or in his art, but there is an
old summer-house, on the other side of the lock yonder, on which is
carved the name of Izaak Walton, but whether by his own hand or
another's who shall say? Has Mr. Melville been here lately, Mrs.
Cameron?"

"No, not for several months."

"He has had a glorious success this year. We may hope that at last
his genius is acknowledged by the world. I meant to buy his picture,
but I was not in time: a Manchester man was before me."

"Who is Mr. Melville? any relation to you?" whispered Kenelm to Lily.

"Relation,--I scarcely know. Yes, I suppose so, because he is my
guardian. But if he were the nearest relation on earth, I could not
love him more," said Lily, with impulsive eagerness, her cheeks
flushing, her eyes filling with tears.

"And he is an artist,--a painter?" asked Kenelm.

"Oh, yes; no one paints such beautiful pictures,--no one so clever, no
one so kind."

Kenelm strove to recollect if he had ever heard the name of Melville
as a painter, but in vain. Kenelm, however, knew but little of
painters: they were not in his way; and he owned to himself, very
humbly, that there might be many a living painter of eminent renown
whose name and works would be strange to him.

He glanced round the wall; Lily interpreted his look. "There are no
pictures of his here," said she; "there is one in my own room. I will
show it you when you come again."

"And now," said Mr. Braefield, rising, "I must just have a word with
your gardener, and then go home. We dine earlier here than in London,
Mr. Chillingly."

As the two gentlemen, after taking leave, re-entered the hall, Lily
followed them and said to Kenelm, "What time will you come to-morrow
to see the picture?"

Kenelm averted his head, and then replied, not with his wonted
courtesy, but briefly and brusquely,--

"I fear I cannot call to-morrow. I shall be far away by sunrise."

Lily made no answer, but turned back into the room.

Mr. Braefield found the gardener watering a flower-border, conferred
with him about the heart's-ease, and then joined Kenelm, who had
halted a few yards beyond the garden-gate.

"A pretty little place that," said Mr. Braefield, with a sort of
lordly compassion, as became the owner of Braefieldville. "What I
call quaint."

"Yes, quaint," echoed Kenelm, abstractedly.

"It is always the case with houses enlarged by degrees. I have heard
my poor mother say that when Melville or Mrs. Cameron first bought it,
it was little better than a mere labourer's cottage, with a field
attached to it. And two or three years afterwards a room or so more
was built, and a bit of the field taken in for a garden; and then by
degrees the whole part now inhabited by the family was built, leaving
only the old cottage as a scullery and washhouse; and the whole field
was turned into the garden, as you see. But whether it was Melville's
money or the aunt's that did it, I don't know. More likely the
aunt's. I don't see what interest Melville has in the place: he does
not go there often, I fancy; it is not his home."

"Mr. Melville, it seems, is a painter, and, from what I heard you say,
a successful one."

"I fancy he had little success before this year. But surely you saw
his pictures at the Exhibition?"

"I am ashamed to say I have not been to the Exhibition."

"You surprise me. However, Melville had three pictures there,--all
very good; but the one I wished to buy made much more sensation than
the others, and has suddenly lifted him from obscurity into fame."

"He appears to be a relation of Miss Mordaunt's, but so distant a one
that she could not even tell me what grade of cousinship he could
claim."

"Nor can I. He is her guardian, I know. The relationship, if any,
must, as you say, be very distant; for Melville is of humble
extraction, while any one can see that Mrs. Cameron is a thorough
gentlewoman, and Lily Mordaunt is her sister's child. I have heard my
mother say that it was Melville, then a very young man, who bought the
cottage, perhaps with Mrs. Cameron's money; saying it was for a
widowed lady, whose husband had left her with very small means. And
when Mrs. Cameron arrived with Lily, then a mere infant, she was in
deep mourning, and a very young woman herself,--pretty too. If
Melville had been a frequent visitor then, of course there would have
been scandal; but he very seldom came, and when he did, he lodged in a
cottage, Cromwell Lodge, on the other side of the brook; now and then
bringing with him a fellow-lodger,--some other young artist, I
suppose, for the sake of angling. So there could be no cause for
scandal, and nothing can be more blameless than poor Mrs. Cameron's
life. My mother, who then resided at Braefieldville, took a great
fancy to both Lily and her aunt, and when by degrees the cottage grew
into a genteel sort of place, the few gentry in the neighbourhood
followed my mother's example and were very kind to Mrs. Cameron, so
that she has now her place in the society about here, and is much
liked."

"And Mr. Melville?--does he still very seldom come here?"

"To say truth, he has not been at all since I settled at
Braefieldville. The place was left to my mother for her life, and I
was not much there during her occupation. In fact, I was then a
junior partner in our firm, and conducted the branch business in New
York, coming over to England for my holiday once a year or so. When
my mother died, there was much to arrange before I could settle
personally in England, and I did not come to settle at Braefieldville
till I married. I did see Melville on one of my visits to the place
some years ago; but, between ourselves, he is not the sort of person
whose intimate acquaintance one would wish to court. My mother told
me he was an idle, dissipated man, and I have heard from others that
he was very unsteady. Mr. -----, the great painter, told me that he
was a loose fish; and I suppose his habits were against his getting
on, till this year, when, perhaps, by a lucky accident, he has painted
a picture that raises him to the top of the tree. But is not Miss
Lily wondrously nice to look at? What a pity her education has been
so much neglected!"

"Has it?"

"Have not you discovered that already? She has not had even a
music-master, though my wife says she has a good ear, and can sing
prettily enough. As for reading I don't think she has read anything
but fairy tales and poetry, and such silly stuff. However, she is
very young yet; and now that her guardian can sell his pictures, it is
to be hoped that he will do more justice to his ward. Painters and
actors are not so regular in their private lives as we plain men are,
and great allowance is to be made for them; still, every one is bound
to do his duty. I am sure you agree with me?"

"Certainly," said Kenelm, with an emphasis which startled the
merchant. "That is an admirable maxim of yours: it seems a
commonplace, yet how often, when it is put into our heads, it strikes
as a novelty! A duty may be a very difficult thing, a very
disagreeable thing, and, what is strange, it is often a very invisible
thing. It is present,--close before us, and yet we don't see it;
somebody shouts its name in our ears, 'Duty,' and straight it towers
before us a grim giant. Pardon me if I leave you: I can't stay to
dine. Duty summons me elsewhere. Make my excuses to Mrs. Braefield."

Before Mr. Braefield could recover his self-possession, Kenelm had
vaulted over a stile and was gone.



CHAPTER VI.

KENELM walked into the shop kept by the Somerses, and found Jessie
still at the counter. "Give me back my knap sack. Thank you," he
said, flinging the knapsack across his shoulders. "Now, do me a
favour. A portmanteau of mine ought to be at the station. Send for
it, and keep it till I give further directions. I think of going to
Oxford for a day or two. Mrs. Somers, one more word with you. Think,
answer frankly, are you, as you said this morning, thoroughly happy,
and yet married to the man you loved?"

"Oh, so happy!"

"And wish for nothing beyond? Do not wish Will to be other than he
is?"

"God forbid! You frighten me, sir."

"Frighten you! Be it so. Everyone who is happy should be frightened
lest happiness fly away. Do your best to chain it, and you will, for
you attach Duty to Happiness; and," muttered Kenelm, as he turned from
the shop, "Duty is sometimes not a rose-coloured tie, but a heavy
iron-hued clog."

He strode on through the street towards the sign-post with "To Oxford"
inscribed thereon. And whether he spoke literally of the knapsack, or
metaphorically of duty, he murmured, as he strode,--


 "A pedlar's pack that bows the bearer down."



CHAPTER VII.



KENELM might have reached Oxford that night, for he was a rapid and
untirable pedestrian; but he halted a little after the moon rose, and
laid himself down to rest beneath a new-mown haystack, not very far
from the high road.

He did not sleep. Meditatingly propped on his elbow, he said to
himself,--

"It is long since I have wondered at nothing. I wonder now: can this
be love,--really love,--unmistakably love? Pooh! it is impossible;
the very last person in the world to be in love with. Let us reason
upon it,--you, myself, and I. To begin with,--face! What is face?
In a few years the most beautiful face may be very plain. Take the
Venus at Florence. Animate her; see her ten years after; a chignon,
front teeth (blue or artificially white), mottled complexion, double
chin,--all that sort of plump prettiness goes into double chin. Face,
bah! What man of sense--what pupil of Welby, the realist--can fall in
love with a face? and even if I were simpleton enough to do so, pretty
faces are as common as daisies. Cecilia Travers has more regular
features; Jessie Wiles a richer colouring. I was not in love with
them,--not a bit of it. Myself, you have nothing to say there. Well,
then, mind? Talk of mind, indeed! a creature whose favourite
companionship is that of butterflies, and who tells me that
butterflies are the souls of infants unbaptized. What an article for
'The Londoner,' on the culture of young women! What a girl for Miss
Garrett and Miss Emily Faithfull! Put aside Mind as we have done
Face. What rests?--the Frenchman's ideal of happy marriage? congenial
circumstance of birth, fortune, tastes, habits. Worse still. Myself,
answer honestly, are you not floored?"

Whereon "Myself" took up the parable and answered, "O thou fool! why
wert thou so ineffably blessed in one presence? Why, in quitting that
presence, did Duty become so grim? Why dost thou address to me those
inept pedantic questionings, under the light of yon moon, which has
suddenly ceased to be to thy thoughts an astronomical body and has
become, forever and forever, identified in thy heart's dreams with
romance and poesy and first love? Why, instead of gazing on that
uncomfortable orb, art thou not quickening thy steps towards a cozy
inn and a good supper at Oxford? Kenelm, my friend, thou art in for
it. No disguising the fact: thou art in love!"

"I'll be hanged if I am," said the Second in the Dualism of Kenelm's
mind; and therewith he shifted his knapsack into a pillow, turned his
eyes from the moon, and still could not sleep. The face of Lily still
haunted his eyes; the voice of Lily still rang in his ears.

Oh, my reader! dost thou here ask me to tell thee what Lily was
like?--was she dark? was she fair? was she tall? was she short? Never
shalt thou learn these secrets from me. Imagine to thyself the being
to which thine whole of life, body and mind and soul, moved
irresistibly as the needle to the pole. Let her be tall or short,
dark or fair, she is that which out of all womankind has suddenly
become the one woman for thee. Fortunate art thou, my reader, if thou
chance to have heard the popular song of "My Queen" sung by the one
lady who alone can sing it with expression worthy the verse of the
poetess and the music of the composition, by the sister of the
exquisite songstress. But if thou hast not heard the verse thus sung,
to an accompaniment thus composed, still the words themselves are, or
ought to be, familiar to thee, if thou art, as I take for granted, a
lover of the true lyrical muse. Recall then the words supposed to be
uttered by him who knows himself destined to do homage to one he has
not yet beheld:--


   "She is standing somewhere,--she I shall honour,
    She that I wait for, my queen, my queen;
   Whether her hair be golden or raven,
    Whether her eyes be hazel or blue,
   I know not now, it will be engraven
    Some day hence as my loveliest hue.
   She may be humble or proud, my lady,
    Or that sweet calm which is just between;
   But whenever she comes, she will find me ready
    To do her homage, my queen, my queen."


Was it possible that the cruel boy-god "who sharpens his arrows on the
whetstone of the human heart" had found the moment to avenge himself
for the neglect of his altars and the scorn of his power? Must that
redoubted knight-errant, the hero of this tale, despite the Three
Fishes on his charmed shield, at last veil the crest and bow the knee,
and murmur to himself, "She has come, my queen"?



CHAPTER VIII.

THE next morning Kenelm arrived at Oxford,--"Verum secretumque
Mouseion."

If there be a place in this busy island which may distract the passion
of youth from love to scholarship, to Ritualism, to mediaeval
associations, to that sort of poetical sentiment or poetical
fanaticism which a Mivers and a Welby and an advocate of the Realistic
School would hold in contempt,--certainly that place is Oxford,--home;
nevertheless, of great thinkers and great actors in the practical
world.

The vacation had not yet commenced, but the commencement was near at
hand. Kenelm thought he could recognize the leading men by their
slower walk and more abstracted expression of countenance. Among the
Fellows was the eminent author of that book which had so powerfully
fascinated the earlier adolescence of Kenelm Chillingly, and who had
himself been subject to the fascination of a yet stronger spirit. The
Rev. Decimus Roach had been ever an intense and reverent admirer of
John Henry Newman,--an admirer, I mean, of the pure and lofty
character of the man, quite apart from sympathy with his doctrines.
But although Roach remained an unconverted Protestant of orthodox, if
High Church, creed, yet there was one tenet he did hold in common with
the author of the "Apologia." He ranked celibacy among the virtues
most dear to Heaven. In that eloquent treatise, "The Approach to the
Angels," he not only maintained that the state of single blessedness
was strictly incumbent on every member of a Christian priesthood, but
to be commended to the adoption of every conscientious layman.

It was the desire to confer with this eminent theologian that had
induced Kenelm to direct his steps to Oxford.

Mr. Roach was a friend of Welby, at whose house, when a pupil, Kenelm
had once or twice met him, and been even more charmed by his
conversation than by his treatise.

Kenelm called on Mr. Roach, who received him very graciously, and, not
being a tutor or examiner, placed his time at Kenelm's disposal; took
him the round of the colleges and the Bodleian; invited him to dine in
his college-hall; and after dinner led him into his own rooms, and
gave him an excellent bottle of Chateau Margeaux.

Mr. Roach was somewhere about fifty,--a good-looking man and evidently
thought himself so; for he wore his hair long behind and parted in the
middle, which is not done by men who form modest estimates of their
personal appearance.

Kenelm was not long in drawing out his host on the subject to which
that profound thinker had devoted so much meditation.

"I can scarcely convey to you," said Kenelm, "the intense admiration
with which I have studied your noble work, 'Approach to the Angels.'
It produced a great effect on me in the age between boyhood and youth.
But of late some doubts on the universal application of your doctrine
have crept into my mind."

"Ay, indeed?" said Mr. Roach, with an expression of interest in his
face.

"And I come to you for their solution."

Mr. Roach turned away his head, and pushed the bottle to Kenelm.

"I am quite willing to concede," resumed the heir of the Chillinglys,
"that a priesthood should stand apart from the distracting cares of a
family, and pure from all carnal affections."

"Hem, hem," grunted Mr. Roach, taking his knee on his lap and
caressing it.

"I go further," continued Kenelm, "and supposing with you that the
Confessional has all the importance, whether in its monitory or its
cheering effects upon repentant sinners, which is attached to it by
the Roman Catholics, and that it ought to be no less cultivated by the
Reformed Church, it seems to me essential that the Confessor should
have no better half to whom it can be even suspected he may, in an
unguarded moment, hint at the frailties of one of her female
acquaintances."

"I pushed that argument too far," murmured Roach.

"Not a bit of it. Celibacy in the Confessor stands or falls with the
Confessional. Your argument there is as sound as a bell. But when it
comes to the layman, I think I detect a difference."

Mr. Roach shook his head, and replied stoutly, "No; if celibacy be
incumbent on the one, it is equally incumbent on the other. I say
'if.'"

"Permit me to deny that assertion. Do not fear that I shall insult
your understanding by the popular platitude; namely, that if celibacy
were universal, in a very few years the human race would be extinct.
As you have justly observed, in answer to that fallacy, 'It is the
duty of each human soul to strive towards the highest perfection of
the spiritual state for itself, and leave the fate of the human race
to the care of the Creator.' If celibacy be necessary to spiritual
perfection, how do we know but that it may be the purpose and decree
of the All Wise that the human race, having attained to that
perfection, should disappear from earth? Universal celibacy would
thus be the euthanasia of mankind. On the other hand, if the Creator
decided that the human race, having culminated to this crowning but
barren flower of perfection, should nevertheless continue to increase
and multiply upon earth, have you not victoriously exclaimed,
'Presumptuous mortal! how canst thou presume to limit the resources of
the Almighty? Would it not be easy for Him to continue some other
mode, unexposed to trouble and sin and passion, as in the nuptials of
the vegetable world, by which the generations will be renewed? Can we
suppose that the angels--the immortal companies of heaven--are not
hourly increasing in number, and extending their population throughout
infinity? and yet in heaven there is no marrying nor giving in
marriage.' All this, clothed by you in words which my memory only
serves me to quote imperfectly,--all this I unhesitatingly concede."

Mr. Roach rose and brought another bottle of the Chateau Margeaux from
his cellaret, filled Kenelm's glass, reseated himself, and took the
other knee into his lap to caress.

"But," resumed Kenelm, "my doubt is this."

"Ah!" cried Mr. Roach, "let us hear the doubt."

"In the first place, is celibacy essential to the highest state of
spiritual perfection; and, in the second place, if it were, are
mortals, as at present constituted, capable of that culmination?"

"Very well put," said Mr. Roach, and he tossed off his glass with more
cheerful aspect than he had hitherto exhibited.

"You see," said Kenelm, "we are compelled in this, as in other
questions of philosophy, to resort to the inductive process, and draw
our theories from the facts within our cognizance. Now looking round
the world, is it the fact that old maids and old bachelors are so much
more spiritually advanced than married folks? Do they pass their
time, like an Indian dervish, in serene contemplation of divine
excellence and beatitude? Are they not quite as worldly in their own
way as persons who have been married as often as the Wife of Bath,
and, generally speaking, more selfish, more frivolous, and more
spiteful? I am sure I don't wish to speak uncharitably against old
maids and old bachelors. I have three aunts who are old maids, and
fine specimens of the genus; but I am sure they would all three have
been more agreeable companions, and quite as spiritually gifted, if
they had been happily married, and were caressing their children,
instead of lapdogs. So, too, I have an old bachelor cousin,
Chillingly Mivers, whom you know. As clever as a man can be. But,
Lord bless you! as to being wrapped in spiritual meditation, he could
not be more devoted to the things of earth if he had married as many
wives as Solomon, and had as many children as Priam. Finally, have
not half the mistakes in the world arisen from a separation between
the spiritual and the moral nature of man? Is it not, after all,
through his dealings with his fellow-men that man makes his safest
'approach to the angels'? And is not the moral system a very muscular
system? Does it not require for healthful vigour plenty of continued
exercise, and does it not get that exercise naturally by the
relationships of family, with all the wider collateral struggles with
life which the care of family necessitates?

"I put these questions to you with the humblest diffidence. I expect
to hear such answers as will thoroughly convince my reason, and I
shall be delighted if so. For at the root of the controversy lies the
passion of love. And love must be a very disquieting, troublesome
emotion, and has led many heroes and sages into wonderful weaknesses
and follies."

"Gently, gently, Mr. Chillingly; don't exaggerate. Love, no doubt,
is--ahem--a disquieting passion. Still, every emotion that changes
life from a stagnant pool into the freshness and play of a running
stream is disquieting to the pool. Not only love and its
fellow-passions, such as ambition, but the exercise of the reasoning
faculty, which is always at work in changing our ideas, is very
disquieting. Love, Mr. Chillingly, has its good side as well as its
bad. Pass the bottle."

KENELM (passing the bottle).--"Yes, yes; you are quite right in
putting the adversary's case strongly, before you demolish it: all
good rhetoricians do that. Pardon me if I am up to that trick in
argument. Assume that I know all that can be said in favour of the
abnegation of common-sense, euphoniously called 'love,' and proceed to
the demolition of the case."

THE REV. DECIMUS ROACH (hesitatingly).--"The demolition of the case?
humph! The passions are ingrafted in the human system as part and
parcel of it, and are not to be demolished so easily as you seem to
think. Love, taken rationally and morally by a man of good education
and sound principles, is--is--"

KENELM.--"Well, is what?"

THE REV. DECIMUS ROACH.--"A--a--a--thing not to be despised. Like the
sun, it is the great colourist of life, Mr. Chillingly. And you are
so right: the moral system does require daily exercise. What can give
that exercise to a solitary man, when he arrives at the practical age
in which he cannot sit for six hours at a stretch musing on the divine
essence; and rheumatism or other ailments forbid his adventure into
the wilds of Africa as a missionary? At that age, Nature, which will
be heard, Mr. Chillingly, demands her rights. A sympathizing female
companion by one's side; innocent little children climbing one's
knee,--lovely, bewitching picture! Who can be Goth enough to rub it
out, who fanatic enough to paint over it the image of a Saint Simeon
sitting alone on a pillar? Take another glass. You don't drink
enough, Mr. Chillingly."

"I have drunk enough," replied Kenelm, in a sullen voice, "to think I
see double. I imagined that before me sat the austere adversary of
the insanity of love and the miseries of wedlock. Now, I fancy I
listen to a puling sentimentalist uttering the platitudes which the
other Decimus Roach had already refuted. Certainly either I see
double, or you amuse yourself with mocking my appeal to your wisdom."

"Not so, Mr. Chillingly. But the fact is, that when I wrote that book
of which you speak I was young, and youth is enthusiastic and
one-sided. Now, with the same disdain of the excesses to which love
may hurry weak intellects, I recognize its benignant effects when
taken, as I before said, rationally,--taken rationally, my young
friend. At that period of life when the judgment is matured, the
soothing companionship of an amiable female cannot but cheer the mind,
and prevent that morose hoar-frost into which solitude is chilled and
made rigid by increasing years. In short, Mr. Chillingly, having
convinced myself that I erred in the opinion once too rashly put
forth, I owe it to Truth, I owe it to Mankind, to make my conversion
known to the world. And I am about next month to enter into the
matrimonial state with a young lady who--"

"Say no more, say no more, Mr. Roach. It must be a painful subject to
you. Let us drop it."

"It is not a painful subject at all!" exclaimed Mr. Roach, with
warmth. "I look forward to the fulfilment of my duty with the
pleasure which a well-trained mind always ought to feel in recanting a
fallacious doctrine. But you do me the justice to understand that of
course I do not take this step I propose--for my personal
satisfaction. No, sir, it is the value of my example to others which
purifies my motives and animates my soul."

After this concluding and noble sentence, the conversation drooped.
Host and guest both felt they had had enough of each other. Kenelm
soon rose to depart.

Mr. Roach, on taking leave of, him at the door, said, with marked
emphasis,--

"Not for my personal satisfaction,--remember that. Whenever you hear
my conversion discussed in the world, say that from my own lips you
heard these words,--NOT FOR MY PERSONAL SATISFACTION. No! my kind
regards to Welby,--a married man himself, and a father: he will
understand me."



CHAPTER IX.

ON quitting Oxford, Kenelm wandered for several days about the
country, advancing to no definite goal, meeting with no noticeable
adventure. At last he found himself mechanically retracing his steps.
A magnetic influence he could not resist drew him back towards the
grassy meads and the sparkling rill of Moleswich.

"There must be," said he to himself, "a mental, like an optical,
illusion. In the last, we fancy we have seen a spectre. If we dare
not face the apparition,--dare not attempt to touch it,--run
superstitiously away from it,--what happens? We shall believe to our
dying day that it was not an illusion, that it was a spectre; and so
we may be crazed for life. But if we manfully walk up to the phantom,
stretch our hands to seize it, oh! it fades into thin air, the cheat
of our eyesight is dispelled, and we shall never be ghost-ridden
again. So it must be with this mental illusion of mine. I see an
image strange to my experience: it seems to me, at first sight,
clothed with a supernatural charm; like an unreasoning coward, I run
away from it. It continues to haunt me; I cannot shut out its
apparition. It pursues me by day alike in the haunts of men,--alike
in the solitudes of nature; it visits me by night in my dreams. I
begin to say this must be a real visitant from another world: it must
be love; the love of which I read in the Poets, as in the Poets I read
of witchcraft and ghosts. Surely I must approach that apparition as a
philosopher like Sir David Brewster would approach the black cat
seated on a hearth-rug, which he tells us that some lady of his
acquaintance constantly saw till she went into a world into which
black cats are not held to be admitted. The more I think of it the
less it appears to me possible that I can be really in love with a
wild, half-educated, anomalous creature, merely because the apparition
of her face haunts me. With perfect safety, therefore, I can approach
the creature; in proportion as I see more of her the illusion will
vanish. I will go back to Moleswich manfully."

Thus said Kenelm to himself, and himself answered,--"Go; for thou
canst not help it. Thinkest thou that Daces can escape the net that
has meshed a Roach? No,--


   'Come it will, the day decreed by fate,'


when thou must succumb to the 'Nature which will be heard.' Better
succumb now, and with a good grace, than resist till thou hast reached
thy fiftieth year, and then make a rational choice not for thy
personal satisfaction."

Whereupon Kenelm answered to himself, indignantly, "Pooh! thou
flippant. My _alter ego_, thou knowest not what thou art talking
about! It is not a question of Nature; it is a question of the
supernatural,--an illusion,--a phantom!" Thus Kenelm and himself
continued to quarrel with each other; and the more they quarrelled,
the nearer they approached to the haunted spot in which had been seen,
and fled from, the fatal apparition of first love.



BOOK VI.



CHAPTER I.

SIR PETER had not heard from Kenelm since a letter informing him that
his son had left town on an excursion, which would probably be short,
though it might last a few weeks; and the good Baronet now resolved to
go to London himself, take his chance of Kenelm's return, and if still
absent, at least learn from Mivers and others how far that very
eccentric planet had contrived to steer a regular course amidst the
fixed stars of the metropolitan system. He had other reasons for his
journey. He wished to make the acquaintance of Chillingly Gordon
before handing him over the L20,000 which Kenelm had released in that
resettlement of estates, the necessary deeds of which the young heir
had signed before quitting London for Moleswich. Sir Peter wished
still more to see Cecilia Travers, in whom Kenelm's accounts of her
had inspired a very strong interest.

The day after his arrival in town Sir Peter breakfasted with Mivers.

"Upon my word you are very comfortable here," said Sir Peter, glancing
at the well-appointed table, and round the well-furnished rooms.

"Naturally so: there is no one to prevent my being comfortable. I am
not married; taste that omelette."

"Some men declare they never knew comfort till they were married,
Cousin Miners."

"Some men are reflecting bodies, and catch a pallid gleam from the
comfort which a wife concentres on herself. With a fortune so modest
and secure, what comforts, possessed by me now, would not a Mrs.
Chillingly Mivers ravish from my hold and appropriate to herself!
Instead of these pleasant rooms, where should I be lodged? In a dingy
den looking on a backyard excluded from the sun by day and vocal with
cats by night; while Mrs. Mivers luxuriated in two drawing-rooms with
southern aspect and perhaps a boudoir. My brougham would be torn from
my uses and monopolized by 'the angel of my hearth,' clouded in her
crinoline and halved by her chignon. No! if ever I marry--and I never
deprive myself of the civilities and needlework which single ladies
waste upon me by saying I shall not marry--it will be when women have
fully established their rights; for then men may have a chance of
vindicating their own. Then if there are two drawing-rooms in the
house I shall take one; if not, we will toss up who shall have the
back parlour; if we keep a brougham, it will be exclusively mine three
days in the week; if Mrs. M. wants L200 a year for her wardrobe she
must be contented with one, the other half will belong to my personal
decoration; if I am oppressed by proof-sheets and printers' devils,
half of the oppression falls to her lot, while I take my holiday on
the croquet ground at Wimbledon. Yes, when the present wrongs of
women are exchanged for equality with men, I will cheerfully marry;
and to do the thing generous, I will not oppose Mrs. M.'s voting in
the vestry or for Parliament. I will give her my own votes with
pleasure."

"I fear, my dear cousin, that you have infected Kenelm with your
selfish ideas on the nuptial state. He does not seem inclined to
marry,--eh?"

"Not that I know of."

"What sort of girl is Cecilia Travers?"

"One of those superior girls who are not likely to tower into that
terrible giantess called a 'superior woman.' A handsome,
well-educated, sensible young lady, not spoiled by being an heiress;
in fine, just the sort of girl whom you could desire to fix on for a
daughter-in-law."

"And you don't think Kenelm has a fancy for her?"

"Honestly speaking, I do not."

"Any counter-attraction? There are some things in which sons do not
confide in their fathers. You have never heard that Kenelm has been a
little wild?"

"Wild he is, as the noble savage who ran in the woods," said Cousin
Mivers.

"You frighten me!"

"Before the noble savage ran across the squaws, and was wise enough to
run away from them. Kenelm has run away now somewhere."

"Yes, he does not tell me where, nor do they know at his lodgings. A
heap of notes on his table and no directions where they are to be
forwarded. On the whole, however, he has held his own in London
society,--eh?"

"Certainly! he has been more courted than most young men, and perhaps
more talked of. Oddities generally are."

"You own he has talents above the average? Do you not think he will
make a figure in the world some day, and discharge that debt to the
literary stores or the political interests of his country, which alas,
I and my predecessors, the other Sir Peters, failed to do; and for
which I hailed his birth, and gave him the name of Kenelm?"

"Upon my word," answered Mivers,--who had now finished his breakfast,
retreated to an easy-chair, and taken from the chimney-piece one of
his famous trabucos,--"upon my word, I can't guess; if some great
reverse of fortune befell him, and he had to work for his livelihood,
or if some other direful calamity gave a shock to his nervous system
and jolted it into a fussy, fidgety direction, I dare say he might
make a splash in that current of life which bears men on to the grave.
But you see he wants, as he himself very truly says, the two
stimulants to definite action,--poverty and vanity."

"Surely there have been great men who were neither poor nor vain?"

"I doubt it. But vanity is a ruling motive that takes many forms and
many aliases: call it ambition, call it love of fame, still its
substance is the same,--the desire of applause carried into fussiness
of action."

"There may be the desire for abstract truth without care for
applause."

"Certainly. A philosopher on a desert island may amuse himself by
meditating on the distinction between light and heat. But if, on
returning to the world, he publish the result of his meditations,
vanity steps in and desires to be applauded."

"Nonsense, Cousin Mivers, he may rather desire to be of use and
benefit to mankind. You don't deny that there is such a thing as
philanthropy."

"I don't deny that there is such a thing as humbug. And whenever I
meet a man who has the face to tell me that he is taking a great deal
of trouble, and putting himself very much out of his way, for a
philanthropical object, without the slightest idea of reward either in
praise or pence, I know that I have a humbug before me,--a dangerous
humbug, a swindling humbug, a fellow with his pocket full of villanous
prospectuses and appeals to subscribers."

"Pooh, pooh; leave off that affectation of cynicism: you are not a
bad-hearted fellow; you must love mankind; you must have an interest
in the welfare of posterity."

"Love mankind? Interest in posterity? Bless my soul, Cousin Peter, I
hope you have no prospectuses in _your_ pockets; no schemes for
draining the Pontine Marshes out of pure love to mankind; no
propositions for doubling the income-tax, as a reserve fund for
posterity, should our coal-fields fail three thousand years hence.
Love of mankind! Rubbish! This comes of living in the country."

"But you do love the human race; you do care for the generations that
are to come."

"I! Not a bit of it. On the contrary, I rather dislike the human
race, taking it altogether, and including the Australian bushmen; and
I don't believe any man who tells me that he would grieve half as much
if ten millions of human beings were swallowed up by an earthquake at
a considerable distance from his own residence, say Abyssinia, as he
would for a rise in his butcher's bills. As to posterity, who would
consent to have a month's fit of the gout or tic-douloureux in order
that in the fourth thousand year, A. D., posterity should enjoy a
perfect system of sewage?"

Sir Peter, who had recently been afflicted by a very sharp attack of
neuralgia, shook his head, but was too conscientious not to keep
silence.

"To turn the subject," said Mivers, relighting the cigar which he had
laid aside while delivering himself of his amiable opinions, "I think
you would do well, while in town, to call on your old friend Travers,
and be introduced to Cecilia. If you think as favourably of her as I
do, why not ask father and daughter to pay you a visit at Exmundham?
Girls think more about a man when they see the place which he can
offer to them as a home, and Exmundham is an attractive place to
girls,--picturesque and romantic."

"A very good idea," cried Sir Peter, heartily. "And I want also to
make the acquaintance of Chillingly Gordon. Give me his address."

"Here is his card on the chimney-piece, take it; you will always find
him at home till two o'clock. He is too sensible to waste the
forenoon in riding out in Hyde Park with young ladies."

"Give me your frank opinion of that young kinsman. Kenelm tells me
that he is clever and ambitious."

"Kenelm speaks truly. He is not a man who will talk stuff about love
of mankind and posterity. He is of our day, with large, keen,
wide-awake eyes, that look only on such portions of mankind as can be
of use to him, and do not spoil their sight by poring through cracked
telescopes to catch a glimpse of posterity. Gordon is a man to be a
Chancellor of the Exchequer, perhaps a Prime Minister."

"And old Gordon's son is cleverer than my boy,--than the namesake of
Kenelm Digby!" and Sir Peter sighed.

"I did not say that. I am cleverer than Chillingly Gordon, and the
proof of it is that I am too clever to wish to be Prime
Minister,--very disagreeable office, hard work, irregular hours for
meals, much abuse and confirmed dyspepsia."

Sir Peter went away rather down-hearted. He found Chillingly Gordon
at home in a lodging in Jermyn Street. Though prepossessed against
him by all he had heard, Sir Peter was soon propitiated in his favour.
Gordon had a frank man-of-the-world way with him, and much too fine a
tact to utter any sentiments likely to displease an old-fashioned
country gentleman, and a relation who might possibly be of service in
his career. He touched briefly, and with apparent feeling, on the
unhappy litigation commenced by his father; spoke with affectionate
praise of Kenelm; and with a discriminating good-nature of Mivers, as
a man who, to parody the epigram on Charles II.,


   "Never says a kindly thing
   And never does a harsh one."


Then he drew Sir Peter on to talk of the country and agricultural
prospects. Learned that among his objects in visiting town was the
wish to inspect a patented hydraulic ram that might be very useful for
his farm-yard, which was ill supplied with water. Startled the
Baronet by evincing some practical knowledge of mechanics; insisted on
accompanying him to the city to inspect the ram; did so, and approved
the purchase; took him next to see a new American reaping-machine, and
did not part with him till he had obtained Sir Peter's promise to dine
with him at the Garrick; an invitation peculiarly agreeable to Sir
Peter, who had a natural curiosity to see some of the more recently
distinguished frequenters of that social club. As, on quitting
Gordon, Sir Peter took his way to the house of Leopold Travers, his
thoughts turned with much kindliness towards his young kinsman.
"Mivers and Kenelm," quoth he to himself, "gave me an unfavourable
impression of this lad; they represent him as worldly, self-seeking,
and so forth. But Mivers takes such cynical views of character, and
Kenelm is too eccentric to judge fairly of a sensible man of the
world. At all events, it is not like an egotist to put himself out of
his way to be so civil to an old fellow like me. A young man about
town must have pleasanter modes of passing his day than inspecting
hydraulic rams and reaping-machines. Clever they allow him to be.
Yes, decidedly clever, and not offensively clever,--practical."

Sir Peter found Travers in the dining-room with his daughter, Mrs.
Campion, and Lady Glenalvon. Travers was one of those men rare in
middle age, who are more often to be found in their drawing-room than
in their private study; he was fond of female society; and perhaps it
was this predilection which contributed to preserve in him the charm
of good breeding and winning manners. The two men had not met for
many years; not indeed since Travers was at the zenith of his career
of fashion, and Sir Peter was one of those pleasant _dilettanti_ and
half humoristic conversationalists who become popular and courted
diners-out.

Sir Peter had originally been a moderate Whig because his father had
been one before him; but he left the Whig party with the Duke of
Richmond, Mr. Stanley (afterwards Lord Derby), and others, when it
seemed to him that that party had ceased to be moderate.

Leopold Travers had, as a youth in the Guards, been a high Tory, but,
siding with Sir Robert Peel on the repeal of the Corn Laws, remained
with the Peelites after the bulk of the Tory party had renounced the
guidance of their former chief, and now went with these Peelites in
whatever direction the progress of the age might impel their strides
in advance of Whigs and in defiance of Tories.

However, it is not the politics of these two gentlemen that are in
question now. As I have just said, they had not met for many years.
Travers was very little changed. Sir Peter recognized him at a
glance; Sir Peter was much changed, and Travers hesitated before, on
hearing his name announced, he felt quite sure that it was the right
Sir Peter towards whom he advanced, and to whom he extended his
cordial hand. Travers preserved the colour of his hair and the neat
proportions of his figure, and was as scrupulously well dressed as in
his dandy days. Sir Peter, originally very thin and with fair locks
and dreamy blue eyes, had now become rather portly,--at least towards
the middle of him,--and very gray; had long ago taken to spectacles;
his dress, too, was very old-fashioned, and made by a country tailor.
He looked quite as much a gentleman as Travers did; quite perhaps as
healthy, allowing for difference of years; quite as likely to last his
time. But between them there was the difference of the nervous
temperament and the lymphatic. Travers, with less brain than Sir
Peter, had kept his brain constantly active; Sir Peter had allowed his
brain to dawdle over old books and lazily delight in letting the hours
slip by. Therefore Travers still looked young, alert,--up to his day,
up to anything; while Sir Peter, entering that drawing-room, seemed a
sort of Rip van Winkle who had slept through the past generation, and
looked on the present with eyes yet drowsy. Still, in those rare
moments when he was thoroughly roused up, there would have been found
in Sir Peter a glow of heart, nay, even a vigour of thought, much more
expressive than the constitutional alertness that characterized
Leopold Travers, of the attributes we most love and admire in the
young.

"My dear Sir Peter, is it you? I am so glad to see you again," said
Travers. "What an age since we met, and how condescendingly kind you
were then to me; silly fop that I was! But bygones are bygones; come
to the present. Let me introduce to you, first, my valued friend,
Mrs. Campion, whose distinguished husband you remember. Ah, what
pleasant meetings we had at his house! And next, that young lady of
whom she takes motherly charge, my daughter Cecilia. Lady Glenalvon,
your wife's friend, of course needs no introduction: time stands still
with her."

Sir Peter lowered his spectacles, which in reality he only wanted for
books in small print, and gazed attentively on the three ladies,--at
each gaze a bow. But while his eyes were still lingeringly fixed on
Cecilia, Lady Glenalvon advanced, naturally in right of rank and the
claim of old acquaintance, the first of the three to greet him.

"Alas, my dear Sir Peter! time does not stand still for any of us;
but what matter, if it leaves pleasant footprints? When I see you
again, my youth comes before me,--my early friend, Caroline
Brotherton, now Lady Chillingly; our girlish walks with each other;
wreaths and ball-dresses the practical topic; prospective husbands,
the dream at a distance. Come and sit here: tell me all about
Caroline."

Sir Peter, who had little to say about Caroline that could possibly
interest anybody but himself, nevertheless took his seat beside Lady
Glenalvon, and, as in duty bound, made the most flattering account of
his She Baronet which experience or invention would allow. All the
while, however, his thoughts were on Kenelm, and his eyes on Cecilia.

Cecilia resumes some mysterious piece of lady's work, no matter
what,--perhaps embroidery for a music-stool, perhaps a pair of
slippers for her father (which, being rather vain of his feet and
knowing they looked best in plain morocco, he will certainly never
wear). Cecilia appears absorbed in her occupation; but her eyes and
her thoughts are on Sir Peter. Why, my lady reader may guess. And
oh, so flatteringly, so lovingly fixed! She thinks he has a most
charming, intelligent, benignant countenance. She admires even his
old-fashioned frock-coat, high neckcloth, and strapped trousers. She
venerates his gray hairs, pure of dye. She tries to find a close
resemblance between that fair, blue-eyed, plumpish, elderly gentleman
and the lean, dark-eyed, saturnine, lofty Kenelm; she detects the
likeness which nobody else would. She begins to love Sir Peter,
though he has not said a word to her.

Ah! on this, a word for what it is worth to you, my young readers.
You, sir, wishing to marry a girl who is to be deeply, lastingly in
love with you, and a thoroughly good wife practically, consider well
how she takes to your parents; how she attaches to them an
inexpressible sentiment, a disinterested reverence; even should you
but dimly recognize the sentiment, or feel the reverence, how if
between you and your parents some little cause of coldness arise, she
will charm you back to honour your father and your mother, even though
they are not particularly genial to her: well, if you win that sort of
girl as your wife think you have got a treasure. You have won a woman
to whom Heaven has given the two best attributes,--intense feeling of
love, intense sense of duty. What, my dear lady reader, I say of one
sex, I say of another, though in a less degree; because a girl who
marries becomes of her husband's family, and the man does not become
of his wife's. Still I distrust the depth of any man's love to a
woman, if he does not feel a great degree of tenderness (and
forbearance where differences arise) for her parents. But the wife
must not so put them in the foreground as to make the husband think he
is cast in the cold of the shadow. Pardon this intolerable length of
digression, dear reader: it is not altogether a digression, for it
belongs to my tale that you should clearly understand the sort of girl
that is personified in Cecilia Travers.

"What has become of Kenelm?" asked Lady Glenalvon.

"I wish I could tell you," answered Sir Peter. "He wrote me word that
he was going forth on rambles into 'fresh woods and pastures new,'
perhaps for some weeks. I have not had a word from him since."

"You make me uneasy," said Lady Glenalvon. "I hope nothing can have
happened to him: he cannot have fallen ill."

Cecilia stops her work, and looks up wistfully.

"Make your mind easy," said Travers with a laugh; "I am in this
secret. He has challenged the champion of England, and gone into the
country to train."

"Very likely," said Sir Peter, quietly: "I should not be in the least
surprised; should you, Miss Travers?"

"I think it more probable that Mr. Chillingly is doing some kindness
to others which he wishes to keep concealed."

Sir Peter was pleased with this reply, and drew his chair nearer to
Cecilia's. Lady Glenalvon, charmed to bring those two together, soon
rose and took leave.

Sir Peter remained nearly an hour talking chiefly with Cecilia, who
won her way into his heart with extraordinary ease; and he did not
quit the house till he had engaged her father, Mrs. Campion, and
herself to pay him a week's visit at Exmundham, towards the end of the
London season, which was fast approaching.

Having obtained this promise, Sir Peter went away, and ten minutes
after Mr. Chillingly Gordon entered the drawing-room. He had already
established a visiting acquaintance with the Traverses. Travers had
taken a liking to him. Mrs. Campion found him an extremely
well-informed, unaffected young man, very superior to young men in
general. Cecilia was cordially polite to Kenelm's cousin. Altogether
that was a very happy day for Sir Peter. He enjoyed greatly his
dinner at the Garrick, where he met some old acquaintance and was
presented to some new "celebrities." He observed that Gordon stood
well with these eminent persons. Though as yet undistinguished
himself, they treated him with a certain respect, as well as with
evident liking. The most eminent of them, at least the one with the
most solidly established reputation, said in Sir Peter's ear, "You may
be proud of your nephew Gordon!"

"He is not my nephew, only the son of a very distant cousin."

"Sorry for that. But he will shed lustre on kinsfolk, however
distant. Clever fellow, yet popular; rare combination,--sure to
rise."

Sir Peter suppressed a gulp in the throat. "Ah, if some one as
eminent had spoken thus of Kenelm!"

But he was too generous to allow that half-envious sentiment to last
more than a moment. Why should he not be proud of any member of the
family who could irradiate the antique obscurity of the Chillingly
race? And how agreeable this clever young man made himself to Sir
Peter!

The next day Gordon insisted on accompanying him to see the latest
acquisitions in the British Museum, and various other exhibitions, and
went at night to the Prince of Wales's Theatre, where Sir Peter was
infinitely delighted with an admirable little comedy by Mr. Robertson,
admirably placed on the stage by Marie Wilton. The day after, when
Gordon called on him at his hotel, he cleared his throat, and thus
plunged at once into the communication he had hitherto delayed.

"Gordon, my boy, I owe you a debt, and I am now, thanks to Kenelm,
able to pay it."

Gordon gave a little start of surprise, but remained silent.

"I told your father, shortly after Kenelm was born, that I meant to
give up my London house, and lay by L1000 a year for you, in
compensation for your chance of succeeding to Exmundham should I have
died childless. Well, your father did not seem to think much of that
promise, and went to law with me about certain unquestionable rights
of mine. How so clever a man could have made such a mistake would
puzzle me, if I did not remember that he had a quarrelsome temper.
Temper is a thing that often dominates cleverness,--an uncontrollable
thing; and allowances must be made for it. Not being of a quarrelsome
temper myself (the Chillinglys are a placid race), I did not make the
allowance for your father's differing, and (for a Chillingly)
abnormal, constitution. The language and the tone of his letter
respecting it nettled me. I did not see why, thus treated, I should
pinch myself to lay by a thousand a year. Facilities for buying a
property most desirable for the possessor of Exmundham presented
themselves. I bought it with borrowed money, and though I gave up the
house in London, I did not lay by the thousand a year."

"My dear Sir Peter, I have always regretted that my poor father was
misled--perhaps out of too paternal a care for my supposed
interests--into that unhappy and fruitless litigation, after which no
one could doubt that any generous intentions on your part would be
finally abandoned. It has been a grateful surprise to me that I have
been so kindly and cordially received into the family by Kenelm and
yourself. Pray oblige me by dropping all reference to pecuniary
matters: the idea of compensation to a very distant relative for the
loss of expectations he had no right to form, is too absurd, for me at
least, ever to entertain."

"But I am absurd enough to entertain it, though you express yourself
in a very high-minded way. To come to the point, Kenelm is of age,
and we have cut off the entail. The estate of course remains
absolutely with Kenelm to dispose of, as it did before, and we must
take it for granted that he will marry; at all events he cannot fall
into your poor father's error: but whatever Kenelm hereafter does with
his property, it is nothing to you, and is not to be counted upon.
Even the title dies with Kenelm if he has no son. On resettling the
estate, however, sums of money have been realized which, as I stated
before, enable me to discharge the debt which Kenelm heartily agrees
with me is due to you. L20,000 are now lying at my bankers' to be
transferred to yours; meanwhile, if you will call on my solicitor, Mr.
Vining, Lincoln's-inn, you can see the new deed and give to him your
receipt for the L20,000, for which he holds my cheque. Stop! stop!
stop! I will not hear a. word: no thanks; they are not due."

Here Gordon, who had during this speech uttered various brief
exclamations, which Sir Peter did not heed, caught hold of his
kinsman's hand, and, despite of all struggles, pressed his lips on it.
"I must thank you; I must give some vent to my emotions," cried
Gordon. "This sum, great in itself, is far more to me than you can
imagine: it opens my career; it assures my future."

"So Kenelm tells me; he said that sum would be more use to you now
than ten times the amount twenty years hence."

"So it will,--it will. And Kenelm consents to this sacrifice?"

"Consents! urges it."

Gordon turned away his face, and Sir Peter resumed: "You want to get
into Parliament; very natural ambition for a clever young fellow. I
don't presume to dictate politics to you. I hear you are what is
called a Liberal; a man may be a Liberal, I suppose, without being a
Jacobin."

"I hope so, indeed. For my part I am anything but a violent man."

"Violent, no! Who ever heard of a violent Chillingly? But I was
reading in the newspaper to-day a speech addressed to some popular
audience, in which the orator was for dividing all the lands and all
the capital belonging to other people among the working class, calmly
and quietly, without any violence, and deprecating violence: but
saying, perhaps very truly, that the people to be robbed might not
like it, and might offer violence; in which case woe betide them; it
was they who would be guilty of violence; and they must take the
consequences if they resisted the reasonable, propositions of himself
and his friends! That, I suppose, is among the new ideas with which
Kenelm is more familiar than I am. Do you entertain those new ideas?"

"Certainly not: I despise the fools who do."

"And you will not abet revolutionary measures if you get into
Parliament?"

"My dear Sir Peter, I fear you have heard very false reports of my
opinions if you put such questions. Listen," and therewith Gordon
launched into dissertations very clever, very subtle, which committed
him to nothing, beyond the wisdom of guiding popular opinions into
right directions: what might be right directions he did not define; he
left Sir Peter to guess them. Sir Peter did guess them, as Gordon
meant he should, to be the directions which he, Sir Peter, thought
right; and he was satisfied.

That subject disposed of, Gordon said, with much apparent feeling,
"May I ask you to complete the favours you have lavished on me? I
have never seen Exmundham, and the home of the race from which I
sprang has a deep interest for time. Will you allow me to spend a few
days with you, and under the shade of your own trees take lessons in
political science from one who has evidently reflected on it
profoundly?"

"Profoundly, no; a little,--a little, as a mere bystander," said Sir
Peter, modestly, but much flattered. "Come, my dear boy, by all
means; you will have a hearty welcome. By the by, Travers and his
handsome daughter promised to visit me in about a fortnight, why not
come at the same time?"

A sudden flash lit up the young man's countenance.

"I shall be so delighted," he cried. "I am but slightly acquainted
with Mr. Travers, but I like him much, and Mrs. Campion is so well
informed."

"And what say you to the girl?"

"The girl, Miss Travers. Oh, she is very well in her way. But I
don't talk with young ladies more than I can help."

"Then you are like your cousin Kenelm?"

"I wish I were like him in other things."

"No, one such oddity in a family is quite enough. But though I would
not have you change to a Kenelm, I would not change Kenelm for the
most perfect model of a son that the world can exhibit." Delivering
himself of this burst of parental fondness, Sir Peter shook hands with
Gordon, and walked off to Mivers, who was to give him luncheon and
then accompany him to the station. Sir Peter was to return to
Exmundham by the afternoon express.

Left alone, Gordon indulged in one of those luxurious guesses into the
future which form the happiest moments in youth when so ambitious as
his. The sum Sir Peter placed at his disposal would insure his
entrance in Parliament. He counted with confidence on early successes
there. He extended the scope of his views. With such successes he
might calculate with certainty on a brilliant marriage, augmenting his
fortune, and confirming his position. He had previously fixed his
thoughts on Cecilia Travers. I will do him the justice to say not
from mercenary motives alone, but not certainly with the impetuous
ardour of youthful love. He thought her exactly fitted to be the wife
of an eminent public man, in person, acquirement, dignified yet
popular manners. He esteemed her, he liked her, and then her fortune
would add solidity to his position. In fact, he had that sort of
rational attachment to Cecilia which wise men, like Lord Bacon and
Montaigne, would commend to another wise man seeking a wife. What
opportunities of awaking in herself a similar, perhaps a warmer,
attachment the visit to Exmundham would afford! He had learned when
he had called on the Traverses that they were going thither, and hence
that burst of family sentiment which had procured the invitation to
himself.

But he must be cautious, he must not prematurely awaken Travers's
suspicions. He was not as yet a match that the squire could approve
of for his heiress. And, though he was ignorant of Sir Peter's
designs on that, young lady, he was much too prudent to confide his
own to a kinsman of whose discretion he had strong misgivings. It was
enough for him at present that way was opened for his own resolute
energies. And cheerfully, though musingly, he weighed its obstacles,
and divined its goal, as he paced his floor with bended head and
restless strides, now quick, now slow.

Sir Peter, in the meanwhile, found a very good luncheon prepared for
him at Mivers's rooms, which he had all to himself, for his host never
"spoilt his dinner and insulted his breakfast" by that intermediate
meal. He remained at his desk writing brief notes of business, or of
pleasure, while Sir Peter did justice to lamb cutlets and grilled
chicken. But he looked up from his task, with raised eyebrows, when
Sir Peter, after a somewhat discursive account of his visit to the
Traverses, his admiration of Cecilia, and the adroitness with which,
acting on his cousin's hint, he had engaged the family to spend a few
days at Exmundham, added, "And, by the by, I have asked young Gordon
to meet them."

"To meet them! meet Mr. and Miss Travers! you have? I thought you
wished Kenelm to marry Cecilia. I was mistaken, you meant Gordon!"

"Gordon," exclaimed Sir Peter, dropping his knife and fork.
"Nonsense, you don't suppose that Miss Travers prefers him to Kenelm,
or that he has the presumption to fancy that her father would sanction
his addresses?"

"I indulge in no suppositions of the sort. I content myself with
thinking that Gordon is clever, insinuating, young; and it is a very
good chance of bettering himself that you have thrown in his way.
However, it is no affair of mine; and though on the whole I like
Kenelm better than Gordon, still I like Gordon very well, and I have
an interest in following his career which I can't say I have in
conjecturing what may be Kenelm's--more likely no career at all."

"Mivers, you delight in provoking me; you do say such uncomfortable
things. But, in the first place, Gordon spoke rather slightingly of
Miss Travers."

"Ah, indeed; that's a bad sign," muttered Mivers.

Sir Peter did not hear him, and went on.

"And, besides, I feel pretty sure that the dear girl has already a
regard for Kenelm which allows no room for a rival. However, I shall
not forget your hint, but keep a sharp lookout; and, if I see the
young man wants to be too sweet on Cecilia, I shall cut short his
visit."

"Give yourself no trouble in the matter; it will do no good.
Marriages are made in heaven. Heaven's will be done. If I can get
away I will run down to you for a day or two. Perhaps in that case
you can ask Lady Glenalvon. I like her, and she likes Kenelm. Have
you finished? I see the brougham is at the door, and we have to call
at your hotel to take up your carpet-bag."

Mivers was deliberately sealing his notes while he thus spoke. He now
rang for his servant, gave orders for their delivery, and then
followed Sir Peter down stairs and into the brougham. Not a word
would he say more about Gordon, and Sir Peter shrank from telling him
about the L20,000. Chillingly Mivers was perhaps the last person to
whom Sir Peter would be tempted to parade an act of generosity.
Mivers might not unfrequently do a generous act himself, provided it
was not divulged; but he had always a sneer for the generosity of
others.



CHAPTER II.

WANDERING back towards Moleswich, Kenelm found himself a little before
sunset on the banks of the garrulous brook, almost opposite to the
house inhabited by Lily Mordaunt. He stood long and silently by the
grassy margin, his dark shadow falling over the stream, broken into
fragments by the eddy and strife of waves, fresh from their leap down
the neighbouring waterfall. His eyes rested on the house and the
garden lawn in the front. The upper windows were open. "I wonder
which is hers," he said to himself. At last he caught a glimpse of
the gardener, bending over a flower border with his watering-pot, and
then moving slowly through the little shrubbery, no doubt to his own
cottage. Now the lawn was solitary, save that a couple of thrushes
dropped suddenly on the sward.

"Good evening, sir," said a voice. "A capital spot for trout this."

Kenelm turned his head, and beheld on the footpath, just behind him, a
respectable elderly man, apparently of the class of a small retail
tradesman, with a fishing-rod in his hand and a basket belted to his
side.

"For trout," replied Kenelm; "I dare say. A strangely attractive spot
indeed."

"Are you an angler, sir, if I may make bold to inquire?" asked the
elderly man, somewhat perhaps puzzled as to the rank of the stranger;
noticing, on the one hand, his dress and his mien, on the other, slung
to his shoulders, the worn and shabby knapsack which Kenelm had
carried, at home and abroad, the preceding year.

"Ay, I am an angler."

"Then this is the best place in the whole stream. Look, sir, there is
Izaak Walton's summer-house; and further down you see that white,
neat-looking house. Well, that is my house, sir, and I have an
apartment which I let to gentleman anglers. It is generally occupied
throughout the summer months. I expect every day to have a letter to
engage it, but it is vacant now. A very nice apartment,
sir,--sitting-room and bedroom."

"_Descende ceolo, et dic age tibia_," said Kenelm.

"Sir?" said the elderly man.

"I beg you ten thousand pardons. I have had the misfortune to have
been at the university, and to have learned a little Latin, which
sometimes comes back very inopportunely. But, speaking in plain
English, what I meant to say is this: I invoked the Muse to descend
from heaven and bring with her--the original says a fife, but I
meant--a fishing-rod. I should think your apartment would suit me
exactly; pray show it to me."

"With the greatest pleasure," said the elderly man. "The Muse need
not bring a fishing-rod! we have all sorts of tackle at your service,
and a boat too, if you care for that. The stream hereabouts is so
shallow and narrow that a boat is of little use till you get farther
down."

"I don't want to get farther down; but should I want to get to the
opposite bank, without wading across, would the boat take me or is
there a bridge?"

"The boat can take you. It is a flat-bottomed punt, and there is a
bridge too for foot-passengers, just opposite my house; and between
this and Moleswich, where the stream widens, there is a ferry. The
stone bridge for traffic is at the farther end of the town."

"Good. Let us go at once to your house."

The two men walked on.

"By the by," said Kenelm, as they walked, "do you know much of the
family that inhabit the pretty cottage on the opposite side, which we
have just left behind?"

"Mrs. Cameron's. Yes, of course, a very good lady; and Mr. Melville,
the painter. I am sure I ought to know, for he has often lodged with
me when he came to visit Mrs. Cameron. He recommends my apartment to
his friends, and they are my best lodgers. I like painters, sir,
though I don't know much about paintings. They are pleasant
gentlemen, and easily contented with my humble roof and fare."

"You are quite right. I don't know much about paintings myself; but I
am inclined to believe that painters, judging not from what I have
seen of them, for I have not a single acquaintance among them
personally, but from what I have read of their lives, are, as a
general rule, not only pleasant but noble gentlemen. They form within
themselves desires to beautify or exalt commonplace things, and they
can only accomplish their desires by a constant study of what is
beautiful and what is exalted. A man constantly so engaged ought to
be a very noble gentleman, even though he may be the son of a
shoeblack. And living in a higher world than we do, I can conceive
that he is, as you say, very well contented with humble roof and fare
in the world we inhabit."

"Exactly, sir; I see--I see now, though you put it in a way that never
struck me before."

"And yet," said Kenelm, looking benignly at the speaker, "you seem to
me a well-educated and intelligent man; reflective on things in
general, without being unmindful of your interests in particular,
especially when you have lodgings to let. Do not be offended. That
sort of man is not perhaps born to be a painter, but I respect him
highly. The world, sir, requires the vast majority of its inhabitants
to live in it,--to live by it. 'Each for himself, and God for us
all.' The greatest happiness of the greatest number is best secured
by a prudent consideration for Number One."

Somewhat to Kenelm's surprise (allowing that he had now learned enough
of life to be occasionally surprised) the elderly man here made a dead
halt, stretched out his hand cordially, and cried, "Hear, hear! I see
that, like me, you are a decided democrat."

"Democrat! Pray, may I ask, not why you are one,--that would be a
liberty, and democrats resent any liberty taken with themselves; but
why you suppose I am?"

"You spoke of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. That is
a democratic sentiment surely! Besides, did not you say, sir, that
painters,--painters, sir, painters, even if they were the sons of
shoeblacks, were the true gentlemen,--the true noblemen?"

"I did not say that exactly, to the disparagement of other gentlemen
and nobles. But if I did, what then?"

"Sir, I agree with you. I despise rank; I despise dukes and earls and
aristocrats. 'An honest man's the noblest work of God.' Some poet
says that. I think Shakspeare. Wonderful man, Shakspeare. A
tradesman's son,--butcher, I believe. Eh! My uncle was a butcher,
and might have been an alderman. I go along with you heartily,
heartily. I am a democrat, every inch of me. Shake hands, sir, shake
hands; we are all equals. 'Each man for himself, and God for us
all.'"

"I have no objection to shake hands," said Kenelm; "but don't let me
owe your condescension to false pretences. Though we are all equal
before the law, except the rich man, who has little chance of justice
as against a poor man when submitted to an English jury, yet I utterly
deny that any two men you select can be equals. One must beat the
other in something; and, when one man beats another, democracy ceases
and aristocracy begins."

"Aristocracy! I don't see that. What do you mean by aristocracy?"

"The ascendency of the better man. In a rude State the better man is
the stronger; in a corrupt State, perhaps the more roguish; in modern
republics the jobbers get the money and the lawyers get the power. In
well-ordered States alone aristocracy appears at its genuine worth:
the better man in birth, because respect for ancestry secures a higher
standard of honour; the better man in wealth, because of the immense
uses to enterprise, energy, and the fine arts, which rich men must be
if they follow their natural inclinations; the better man in
character, the better man in ability, for reasons too obvious to
define; and these two last will beat the others in the government of
the State, if the State be flourishing and free. All these four
classes of better men constitute true aristocracy; and when a better
government than a true aristocracy shall be devised by the wit of man,
we shall not be far off from the Millennium and the reign of saints.
But here we are at the house,--yours, is it not? I like the look of
it extremely."

The elderly man now entered the little porch, over which clambered
honeysuckle and ivy intertwined, and ushered Kenelm into a pleasant
parlour, with a bay window, and an equally pleasant bedroom behind it.

"Will it do, sir?"

"Perfectly. I take it from this moment. My knapsack contains all I
shall need for the night. There is a portmanteau of mine at Mr.
Somers's shop, which can be sent here in the morning."

"But we have not settled about the terms," said the elderly man,
beginning to feel rather doubtful whether he ought thus to have
installed in his home a stalwart pedestrian of whom he knew nothing,
and who, though talking glibly enough on other things, had preserved
an ominous silence on the subject of payment.

"Terms? true, name them."

"Including board?"

"Certainly. Chameleons live on air; democrats on wind bags. I have a
more vulgar appetite, and require mutton."

"Meat is very dear now-a-days," said the elderly man, "and I am
afraid, for board and lodging I cannot charge you less than L3
3s.,--say L3 a week. My lodgers usually pay a week in advance."

"Agreed," said Kenelm, extracting three sovereigns from his purse. "I
have dined already: I want nothing more this evening; let me detain
you no further. Be kind enough to shut the door after you."

When he was alone, Kenelm seated himself in the recess of the bay
window, against the casement, and looked forth intently. Yes; he was
right: he could see from thence the home of Lily. Not, indeed, more
than a white gleam of the house through the interstices of trees and
shrubs, but the gentle lawn sloping to the brook, with the great
willow at the end dipping its boughs into the water, and shutting out
all view beyond itself by its bower of tender leaves. The young man
bent his face on his hands and mused dreamily: the evening deepened;
the stars came forth; the rays of the moon now peered aslant through
the arching dips of the willow, silvering their way as they stole to
the waves below.

"Shall I bring lights, sir? or do you prefer a lamp or candles?" asked
a voice behind,--the voice of the elderly man's wife. "Do you like
the shutters closed?"

The question startled the dreamer. They seemed mocking his own old
mockings on the romance of love. Lamp or candles, practical lights
for prosaic eyes, and shutters closed against moon and stars!

"Thank you, ma'am, not yet," he said; and rising quietly he placed his
hand on the window-sill, swung himself through the open casement, and
passed slowly along the margin of the rivulet, by a path checkered
alternately with shade and starlight; the moon yet more slowly rising
above the willows, and lengthening its track along the wavelets.



CHAPTER III.

THOUGH Kenelm did not think it necessary at present to report to his
parents or his London acquaintances his recent movements and his
present resting-place, it never entered into his head to lurk _perdu_
in the immediate vicinity of Lily's house, and seek opportunities of
meeting her clandestinely. He walked to Mrs. Braefield's the next
morning, found her at home, and said in rather a more off-hand manner
than was habitual to him, "I have hired a lodging in your
neighbourhood, on the banks of the brook, for the sake of its
trout-fishing. So you will allow me to call on you sometimes, and one
of these days I hope you will give me the dinner I so unceremoniously
rejected some days ago. I was then summoned away suddenly, much
against my will."

"Yes; my husband said that you shot off from him with a wild
exclamation about duty."

"Quite true; my reason, and I may say my conscience, were greatly
perplexed upon a matter extremely important and altogether new to me.
I went to Oxford,--the place above all others in which questions of
reason and conscience are most deeply considered, and perhaps least
satisfactorily solved. Relieved in my mind by my visit to a
distinguished ornament of that university, I felt I might indulge in a
summer holiday, and here I am."

"Ah! I understand. You had religious doubts,--thought perhaps of
turning Roman Catholic. I hope you are not going to do so?"

"My doubts were not necessarily of a religious nature. Pagans have
entertained them."

"Whatever they were I am pleased to see they did not prevent your
return," said Mrs. Braefield, graciously. "But where have you found a
lodging; why not have come to us? My husband would have been scarcely
less glad than myself to receive you."

"You say that so sincerely, and so cordially, that to answer by a
brief 'I thank you' seems rigid and heartless. But there are times in
life when one yearns to be alone,--to commune with one's own heart,
and, if possible, be still; I am in one of those moody times. Bear
with me."

Mrs. Braefield looked at him with affectionate, kindly interest. She
had gone before him through the solitary road of young romance. She
remembered her dreamy, dangerous girlhood, when she, too, had yearned
to be alone.

"Bear with you; yes, indeed. I wish, Mr. Chillingly, that I were your
sister, and that you would confide in me. Something troubles you."

"Troubles me,--no. My thoughts are happy ones, and they may sometimes
perplex me, but they do not trouble."

Kenelm said this very softly; and in the warmer light of his musing
eyes, the sweeter play of his tranquil smile, there was an expression
which did not belie his words.

"You have not told me where you have found a lodging," said Mrs.
Braefield, somewhat abruptly.

"Did I not?" replied Kenelm, with an unconscious start, as from an
abstracted reverie. "With no undistinguished host, I presume, for
when I asked him this morning for the right address of this cottage,
in order to direct such luggage as I have to be sent there, he gave me
his card with a grand air, saying, 'I am pretty well known at
Moleswich, by and beyond it.' I have not yet looked at his card. Oh,
here it is,--'Algernon Sidney Gale Jones, Cromwell Lodge;' you laugh.
What do you know of him?"

"I wish my husband were here; he would tell you more about him. Mr.
Jones is quite a character."

"So I perceive."

"A great radical,--very talkative and troublesome at the vestry; but
our vicar, Mr. Emlyn, says there is no real harm in him, that his bark
is worse than his bite, and that his republican or radical notions
must be laid to the door of his godfathers! In addition to his name
of Jones, he was unhappily christened Gale; Gale Jones being a noted
radical orator at the time of his birth. And I suppose Algernon
Sidney was prefixed to Gale in order to devote the new-born more
emphatically to republican principles."

"Naturally, therefore, Algernon Sidney Gale Jones baptizes his house
Cromwell Lodge, seeing that Algernon Sidney held the Protectorate in
especial abhorrence, and that the original Gale Jones, if an honest
radical, must have done the same, considering what rough usage the
advocates of Parliamentary Reform met with at the hands of his
Highness. But we must be indulgent to men who have been unfortunately
christened before they had any choice of the names that were to rule
their fate. I myself should have been less whimsical had I not been
named after a Kenelm who believed in sympathetic powders. Apart from
his political doctrines, I like my landlord: he keeps his wife in
excellent order. She seems frightened at the sound of her own
footsteps, and glides to and fro, a pallid image of submissive
womanhood in list slippers."

"Great recommendations certainly, and Cromwell Lodge is very prettily
situated. By the by, it is very near Mrs. Cameron's."

"Now I think of it, so it is," said Kenelm, innocently. Ah! my friend
Kenelm, enemy of shams, and truth-teller, _par excellence_, what hast
thou come to? How are the mighty fallen! "Since you say you will
dine with us, suppose we fix the day after to-morrow, and I will ask
Mrs. Cameron and Lily."

"The day after to-morrow: I shall be delighted."

"An early hour?"

"The earlier the better."

"Is six o'clock too early?"

"Too early! certainly not; on the contrary. Good-day: I must now go
to Mrs. Somers; she has charge of my portmanteau."

Then Kenelm rose.

"Poor dear Lily!" said Mrs. Braefield; "I wish she were less of a
child."

Kenelm reseated himself.

"Is she a child? I don't think she is actually a child."

"Not in years; she is between seventeen and eighteen: but my husband
says that she is too childish to talk to, and always tells me to take
her off his hands; he would rather talk with Mrs. Cameron."

"Indeed!"

"Still I find something in her."

"Indeed!"

"Not exactly childish, nor quite womanish."

"What then?"

"I can't exactly define. But you know what Mr. Melville and Mrs.
Cameron call her as a pet name?"

"No."

"Fairy! Fairies have no age; fairy is neither child nor woman."

"Fairy. She is called fairy by those who know her best? Fairy!"

"And she believes in fairies."

"Does she?--so do I. Pardon me, I must be off. The day after
to-morrow,--six o'clock."

"Wait one moment," said Elsie, going to her writing-table. "Since you
pass Grasmere on your way home, will you kindly leave this note?"

"I thought Grasmere was a lake in the north?"

"Yes; but Mr. Melville chose to call the cottage by the name of the
lake. I think the first picture he ever sold was a view of
Wordsworth's house there. Here is my note to ask Mrs. Cameron to meet
you; but if you object to be my messenger--"

"Object! my dear Mrs. Braefield. As you say, I pass close by the
cottage."



CHAPTER IV.

KENELM went with somewhat rapid pace from Mrs. Braefield's to the shop
in the High Street kept by Will Somers. Jessie was behind the
counter, which was thronged with customers. Kenelm gave her a brief
direction about his portmanteau, and then passed into the back
parlour, where her husband was employed on his baskets,--with the
baby's cradle in the corner, and its grandmother rocking it
mechanically, as she read a wonderful missionary tract full of tales
of miraculous conversions: into what sort of Christians we will not
pause to inquire.

"And so you are happy, Will?" said Kenelm, seating himself between the
basket-maker and the infant; the dear old mother beside him, reading
the tract which linked her dreams of life eternal with life just
opening in the cradle that she rocked. He not happy! How he pitied
the man who could ask such a question.

"Happy, sir! I should think so, indeed. There is not a night on
which Jessie and I, and mother too, do not pray that some day or other
you may be as happy. By and by the baby will learn to pray 'God bless
papa, and mamma, grandmamma, and Mr. Chillingly.'"

"There is some one else much more deserving of prayers than I, though
needing them less. You will know some day: pass it by now. To return
to the point: you are happy; if I asked why, would you not say,
'Because I have married the girl I love, and have never repented'?"

"Well, sir, that is about it; though, begging your pardon, I think it
could be put more prettily somehow."

"You are right there. But perhaps love and happiness never yet found
any words that could fitly express them. Good-bye, for the present."

Ah! if it were as mere materialists, or as many middle-aged or elderly
folks, who, if materialists, are so without knowing it, unreflectingly
say, "The main element of happiness is bodily or animal health and
strength," that question which Chillingly put would appear a very
unmeaning or a very insulting one addressed to a pale cripple, who
however improved of late in health, would still be sickly and ailing
all his life,--put, too, by a man of the rarest conformation of
physical powers that nature can adapt to physical enjoyment,--a man
who, since the age in which memory commences, had never known what it
was to be unwell, who could scarcely understand you if you talked of a
finger-ache, and whom those refinements of mental culture which
multiply the delights of the senses had endowed with the most
exquisite conceptions of such happiness as mere nature and its
instincts can give! But Will did not think the question unmeaning or
insulting. He, the poor cripple, felt a vast superiority on the scale
of joyous being over the young Hercules, well born, cultured, and
wealthy, who could know so little of happiness as to ask the crippled
basket-maker if he were happy.--he, blessed husband and father!



CHAPTER V.

LILY was seated on the grass under a chestnut-tree on the lawn. A
white cat, not long emerged from kittenhood, curled itself by her
side. On her lap was an open volume, which she was reading with the
greatest delight.

Mrs. Cameron came from the house, looked round, perceived the girl,
and approached; and either she moved so gently, or Lily was so
absorbed in the book, that the latter was not aware of her presence
till she felt a light hand on her shoulder, and, looking up,
recognized her aunt's gentle face.

"Ah! Fairy, Fairy, that silly book, when you ought to be at your
French verbs. What will your guardian say when he comes and finds you
have so wasted time?"

"He will say that fairies never waste their time; and he will scold
you for saying so." Therewith Lily threw down the book, sprang to her
feet, wound her arm round Mrs. Cameron's neck, and kissed her fondly.
"There! is that wasting time? I love you so, aunty. In a day like
this I think I love everybody and everything!" As she said this, she
drew up her lithe form, looked into the blue sky, and with parted lips
seemed to drink in air and sunshine. Then she woke up the dozing cat,
and began chasing it round the lawn.

Mrs. Cameron stood still, regarding her with moistened eyes. Just at
that moment Kenelm entered through the garden gate. He, too, stood
still, his eyes fixed on the undulating movements of Fairy's exquisite
form. She had arrested her favourite, and was now at play with it,
shaking off her straw hat, and drawing the ribbon attached to it
tantalizingly along the smooth grass. Her rich hair, thus released
and dishevelled by the exercise, fell partly over her face in wavy
ringlets; and her musical laugh and words of sportive endearment
sounded on Kenelm's ear more joyously than the thrill of the skylark,
more sweetly than the coo of the ring-dove.

He approached towards Mrs. Cameron. Lily turned suddenly and saw him.
Instinctively she smoothed back her loosened tresses, replaced the
straw hat, and came up demurely to his side just as he had accosted
her aunt.

"Pardon my intrusion, Mrs. Cameron. I am the bearer of this note from
Mrs. Braefield." While the aunt read the note, he turned to the
niece.

"You promised to show me the picture, Miss Mordaunt."

"But that was a long time ago."

"Too long to expect a lady's promise to be kept?"

Lily seemed to ponder that question, and hesitated before she
answered.

"I will show you the picture. I don't think I ever broke a promise
yet, but I shall be more careful how I make one in future."

"Why so?"

"Because you did not value mine when I made it, and that hurt me."
Lily lifted up her head with a bewitching stateliness, and added
gravely, "I was offended."

"Mrs. Braefield is very kind," said Mrs. Cameron; "she asks us to dine
the day after to-morrow. You would like to go, Lily?"

"All grown-up people, I suppose? No, thank you, dear aunt. You go
alone, I would rather stay at home. May I have little Clemmy to play
with? She will bring Juba, and Blanche is very partial to Juba,
though she does scratch him."

"Very well, my dear, you shall have your playmate, and I will go by
myself."

Kenelm stood aghast. "You will not go, Miss Mordaunt; Mrs. Braefield
will be so disappointed. And if you don't go, whom shall I have to
talk to? I don't like grown-up people better than you do."

"You are going?"

"Certainly."

"And if I go you will talk to me? I am afraid of Mr. Braefield. He
is so wise."

"I will save you from him, and will not utter a grain of wisdom."

"Aunty, I will go."

Here Lily made a bound and caught up Blanche, who, taking her kisses
resignedly, stared with evident curiosity upon Kenelm.

Here a bell within the house rang the announcement of luncheon. Mrs.
Cameron invited Kenelm to partake of that meal. He felt as Romulus
might have felt when first invited to taste the ambrosia of the gods.
Yet certainly that luncheon was not such as might have pleased Kenelm
Chillingly in the early days of the Temperance Hotel. But somehow or
other of late he had lost appetite; and on this occasion a very modest
share of a very slender dish of chicken fricasseed, and a few cherries
daintily arranged on vine leaves, which Lily selected for him,
contented him,--as probably a very little ambrosia contented Romulus
while feasting his eyes on Hebe.

Luncheon over, while Mrs. Cameron wrote her reply to Elsie, Kenelm was
conducted by Lily into her own _own_ room, in vulgar parlance her
_boudoir_, though it did not look as if any one ever _bouder'd_ there.
It was exquisitely pretty,--pretty not as a woman's, but as a child's
dream of the own _own_ room she would like to have,--wondrously neat
and cool, and pure-looking; a trellis paper, the trellis gay with
roses and woodbine, and birds and butterflies; draperies of muslin,
festooned with dainty tassels and ribbons; a dwarf bookcase, that
seemed well stored, at least as to bindings; a dainty little
writing-table in French _marqueterie_, looking too fresh and spotless
to have known hard service. The casement was open, and in keeping
with the trellis paper; woodbine and roses from without encroached on
the window-sides, gently stirred by the faint summer breeze, and
wafted sweet odours into the little room. Kenelm went to the window,
and glanced on the view beyond. "I was right," he said to himself; "I
divined it." But though he spoke in a low inward whisper, Lily, who
had watched his movements in surprise, overheard.

"You divined it. Divined what?"

"Nothing, nothing; I was but talking to myself."

"Tell me what you divined: I insist upon it!" and Fairy petulantly
stamped her tiny foot on the floor.

"Do you? Then I obey. I have taken a lodging for a short time on the
other side of the brook,--Cromwell Lodge,--and seeing your house as I
passed, I divined that your room was in this part of it. How soft
here is the view of the water! Ah! yonder is Izaak Walton's
summer-house."

"Don't talk about Izaak Walton, or I shall quarrel with you, as I did
with Lion when he wanted me to like that cruel book."

"Who is Lion?"

"Lion,--of course, my guardian. I called him Lion when I was a little
child. It was on seeing in one of his books a print of a lion playing
with a little child."

"Ah! I know the design well," said Kenelm, with a slight sigh. "It
is from an antique Greek gem. It is not the lion that plays with the
child, it is the child that masters the lion, and the Greeks called
the child 'Love.'"

This idea seemed beyond Lily's perfect comprehension. She paused
before she answered, with the naivete of a child six years old,--

"I see now why I mastered Blanche, who will not make friends with any
one else: I love Blanche. Ah, that reminds me,--come and look at the
picture."

She went to the wall over the writing-table, drew a silk curtain aside
from a small painting in a dainty velvet framework, and pointing to
it, cried with triumph, "Look there! is it not beautiful?"

Kenelm had been prepared to see a landscape, or a group, or anything
but what he did see: it was the portrait of Blanche when a kitten.

Little elevated though the subject was, it was treated with graceful
fancy. The kitten had evidently ceased from playing with the cotton
reel that lay between her paws, and was fixing her gaze intently on a
bulfinch that had lighted on a spray within her reach.

"You understand," said Lily, placing her hand on his arm, and drawing
him towards what she thought the best light for the picture; "it is
Blanche's first sight of a bird. Look well at her face; don't you see
a sudden surprise,--half joy, half fear? She ceases to play with the
reel. Her intellect--or, as Mr. Braefield would say, 'her
instinct'--is for the first time aroused. From that moment Blanche
was no longer a mere kitten. And it required, oh, the most careful
education, to teach her not to kill the poor little birds. She never
does now, but I had such trouble with her."

"I cannot say honestly that I do see all that you do in the picture;
but it seems to me very simply painted, and was, no doubt, a striking
likeness of Blanche at that early age."

"So it was. Lion drew the first sketch from life with his pencil; and
when he saw how pleased I was with it--he was so good--he put it on
canvas, and let me sit by him while he painted it. Then he took it
away, and brought it back finished and framed as you see, last May, a
present for my birthday."

"You were born in May--with the flowers."

"The best of all the flowers are born in May,--violets."

"But they are born in the shade, and cling to it. Surely, as a child
of May, you love the sun!"

"I love the sun; it is never too bright nor too warm for me. But I
don't think that, though born in May, I was born in sunlight. I feel
more like my own native self when I creep into the shade and sit down
alone. I can weep then."

As she thus shyly ended, the character of her whole countenance was
changed: its infantine mirthfulness was gone; a grave, thoughtful,
even a sad expression settled on the tender eyes and the tremulous
lips.

Kenelm was so touched that words failed him, and there was silence for
some moments between the two. At length Kenelm said, slowly,--

"You say your own native self. Do you, then, feel, as I often do,
that there is a second, possibly a _native_, self, deep hid beneath
the self,--not merely what we show to the world in common (that may be
merely a mask), but the self that we ordinarily accept even when in
solitude as our own, an inner innermost self, oh so different and so
rarely coming forth from its hiding-place, asserting its right of
sovereignty, and putting out the other self as the sun puts out a
star?"

Had Kenelm thus spoken to a clever man of the world--to a Chillingly
Mivers, to a Chillingly Gordon--they certainly would not have
understood him. But to such men he never would have thus spoken. He
had a vague hope that this childlike girl, despite so much of
childlike talk, would understand him; and she did at once.

Advancing close to him, again laying her hand on his arm, and looking
up towards his bended face with startled wondering eyes, no longer
sad, yet not mirthful,--

"How true! You have felt that too? Where _is_ that innermost self,
so deep down,--so deep; yet when it does come forth, so much
higher,--higher,--immeasurably higher than one's everyday self? It
does not tame the butterflies; it longs to get to the stars. And
then,--and then,--ah, how soon it fades back again! You have felt
that. Does it not puzzle you?"

"Very much."

"Are there no wise books about it that help to explain?"

"No wise books in my very limited reading even hint at the puzzle. I
fancy that it is one of those insoluble questions that rest between
the infant and his Maker. Mind and soul are not the same things, and
what you and I call 'wise men' are always confounding the two--"

Fortunately for all parties--especially the reader; for Kenelm had
here got on the back of one of his most cherished hobbies, the
distinction between psychology and metaphysics, soul and mind
scientifically or logically considered--Mrs. Cameron here entered the
room, and asked him how he liked the picture.

"Very much. I am no great judge of the art. But it pleased me at
once, and now that Miss Mordaunt has interpreted the intention of the
painter I admire it yet more."

"Lily chooses to interpret his intention in her own way, and insists
that Blanche's expression of countenance conveys an idea of her
capacity to restrain her destructive instinct, and be taught to
believe that it is wrong to kill birds for mere sport. For food she
need not kill them, seeing that Lily takes care that she has plenty to
eat. But I don't think that Mr. Melville had the slightest suspicion
that he had indicated that capacity in his picture."

"He must have done so, whether he suspected it or not," said Lily,
positively; "otherwise he would not be truthful."

"Why not truthful?" asked Kenelm.

"Don't you see? If you were called upon to describe truthfully the
character of any little child, would you only speak of such naughty
impulses as all children have in common, and not even hint at the
capacity to be made better?"

"Admirably put!" said Kenelm. "There is no doubt that a much fiercer
animal than a cat--a tiger, for instance, or a conquering hero--may be
taught to live on the kindest possible terms with the creatures on
which it was its natural instinct to prey."

"Yes, yes; hear that, aunty! You remember the Happy Family that we
saw eight years ago, at Moleswich fair, with a cat not half so nice as
Blanche allowing a mouse to bite her ear? Well, then, would Lion not
have been shamefully false to Blanche if he had not"--

Lily paused and looked half shyly, half archly, at Kenelm, then added,
in slow, deep-drawn tones--"given a glimpse of her innermost self?"

"Innermost self!" repeated Mrs. Cameron, perplexed and laughing
gently.

Lily stole nearer to Kenelm and whispered,--

"Is not one's innermost self one's best self?"

Kenelm smiled approvingly. The fairy was rapidly deepening her spell
upon him. If Lily had been his sister, his betrothed, his wife, how
fondly he would have kissed her! She had expressed a thought over
which he had often inaudibly brooded, and she had clothed it with all
the charm of her own infantine fancy and womanlike tenderness. Goethe
has said somewhere, or is reported to have said, "There is something
in every man's heart, that, if you knew it, would make you hate him."
What Goethe said, still more what Goethe is reported to have said, is
never to be taken quite literally. No comprehensive genius--genius at
once poet and thinker--ever can be so taken. The sun shines on a
dunghill. But the sun has no predilection for a dunghill. It only
comprehends a dunghill as it does a rose. Still Kenelm had always
regarded that loose ray from Goethe's prodigal orb with an abhorrence
most unphilosophical for a philosopher so young as generally to take
upon oath any words of so great a master. Kenelm thought that the
root of all private benevolence, of all enlightened advance in social
reform, lay in the adverse theorem,--that in every man's nature there
lies a something that, could we get at it, cleanse it, polish it,
render it visibly clear to our eyes, would make us love him. And in
this spontaneous, uncultured sympathy with the results of so many
laborious struggles of his own scholastic intellect against the dogma
of the German giant, he felt as if he had found a younger--true, but
oh, how much more subduing, because so much younger--sister of his own
man's soul. Then came, so strongly, the sense of her sympathy with
his own strange innermost self, which a man will never feel more than
once in his life with a daughter of Eve, that he dared not trust
himself to speak. He somewhat hurried his leave-taking.

Passing in the rear of the garden towards the bridge which led to his
lodging, he found on the opposite bank, at the other end of the
bridge, Mr. Algernon Sidney Gale Jones peacefully angling for trout.

"Will you not try the stream to-day, sir? Take my rod." Kenelm
remembered that Lily had called Izaak Walton's book "a cruel one," and
shaking his head gently, went his way into the house. There he seated
himself silently by the window, and looked towards the grassy lawn and
the dipping willows, and the gleam of the white walls through the
girdling trees, as he had looked the eve before.

"Ah!" he murmured at last, "if, as I hold, a man but tolerably good
does good unconsciously merely by the act of living,--if he can no
more traverse his way from the cradle to the grave, without letting
fall, as he passes, the germs of strength, fertility, and beauty, than
can a reckless wind or a vagrant bird, which, where it passes, leaves
behind it the oak, the corn-sheaf, or the flower,--ah, if that be so,
how tenfold the good must be, if the man find the gentler and purer
duplicate of his own being in that mysterious, undefinable union which
Shakspeares and day-labourers equally agree to call love; which Newton
never recognizes, and which Descartes (his only rival in the realms of
thought at once severe and imaginative) reduces into links of early
association, explaining that he loved women who squinted, because,
when he was a boy, a girl with that infirmity squinted at him from the
other side of his father's garden-wall! Ah! be this union between man
and woman what it may; if it be really love, really the bond which
embraces the innermost and bettermost self of both,--how daily,
hourly, momently, should we bless God for having made it so easy to be
happy and to be good!"



CHAPTER VI.

THE dinner-party at Mr. Braefield's was not quite so small as Kenelm
had anticipated. When the merchant heard from his wife that Kenelm
was coming, he thought it would be but civil to the young gentleman to
invite a few other persons to meet him.

"You see, my dear," he said to Elsie, "Mrs. Cameron is a very good,
simple sort of woman, but not particularly amusing; and Lily, though a
pretty girl, is so exceedingly childish. We owe much, my sweet Elsie,
to this Mr. Chillingly,"--here there was a deep tone of feeling in his
voice and look,--"and we must make it as pleasant for him as we can.
I will bring down my friend Sir Thomas, and you ask Mr. Emlyn and his
wife. Sir Thomas is a very sensible man, and Emlyn a very learned
one. So Mr. Chillingly will find people worth talking to. By the by,
when I go to town I will send down a haunch of venison from Groves's."

So when Kenelm arrived, a little before six o'clock, he found in the
drawing-room the Rev. Charles Emlyn, vicar of Moleswich proper, with
his spouse, and a portly middle-aged man, to whom, as Sir Thomas
Pratt, Kenelm was introduced. Sir Thomas was an eminent city banker.
The ceremonies of introduction over, Kenelm stole to Elsie's side.

"I thought I was to meet Mrs. Cameron. I don't see her."

"She will be here presently. It looks as if it might rain, and I have
sent the carriage for her and Lily. Ah, here they are!"

Mrs. Cameron entered, clothed in black silk. She always wore black;
and behind her came Lily, in the spotless colour that became her name;
no ornament, save a slender gold chain to which was appended a single
locket, and a single blush rose in her hair. She looked wonderfully
lovely; and with that loveliness there was a certain nameless air of
distinction, possibly owing to delicacy of form and colouring;
possibly to a certain grace of carriage, which was not without a
something of pride.

Mr. Braefield, who was a very punctual man, made a sign to his
servant, and in another moment or so dinner was announced. Sir
Thomas, of course, took in the hostess; Mr. Braefield, the vicar's
wife (she was a dean's daughter); Kenelm, Mrs. Cameron; and the vicar,
Lily.

On seating themselves at the table Kenelm was on the left hand, next
to the hostess, and separated from Lily by Mrs. Cameron and Mr. Emlyn;
and when the vicar had said grace, Lily glanced behind his back and
her aunt's at Kenelm (who did the same thing), making at him what the
French call a _moue_. The pledge to her had been broken. She was
between two men very much grown up,--the vicar and the host. Kenelm
returned the _moue_ with a mournful smile and an involuntary shrug.

All was silent till, after his soup and his first glass of sherry, Sir
Thomas began,--

"I think, Mr. Chillingly, we have met before, though I had not the
honour then of making your acquaintance." Sir Thomas paused before he
added, "Not long ago; the last State ball at Buckingham Palace."

Kenelm bent his head acquiescingly. He had been at that ball.

"You were talking with a very charming woman,--a friend of mine,--Lady
Glenalvon."

(Sir Thomas was Lady Glenalvon's banker.)

"I remember perfectly," said Kenelm. "We were seated in the picture
gallery. You came to speak to Lady Glenalvon, and I yielded to you my
place on the settee."

"Quite true; and I think you joined a young lady, very handsome,--the
great heiress, Miss Travers."

Kenelm again bowed, and, turning away as politely as he could,
addressed himself to Mrs. Cameron. Sir Thomas, satisfied that he had
impressed on his audience the facts of his friendship with Lady
Glenalvon and his attendance at the court ball, now directed his
conversational powers towards the vicar, who, utterly foiled in the
attempt to draw out Lily, met the baronet's advances with the ardour
of a talker too long suppressed. Kenelm continued, unmolested, to
ripen his acquaintance with Mrs. Cameron. She did not, however, seem
to lend a very attentive ear to his preliminary commonplace remarks
about scenery or weather, but at his first pause, said,--

"Sir Thomas spoke about a Miss Travers: is she related to a gentleman
who was once in the Guards, Leopold Travers?"

"She is his daughter. Did you ever know Leopold Travers?"

"I have heard him mentioned by friends of mine long ago,--long ago,"
replied Mrs. Cameron with a sort of weary languor, not unwonted, in
her voice and manner; and then, as if dismissing the bygone
reminiscence from her thoughts, changed the subject.

"Lily tells me, Mr. Chillingly, that you said you were staying at Mr.
Jones's, Cromwell Lodge. I hope you are made comfortable there."

"Very. The situation is singularly pleasant."

"Yes, it is considered the prettiest spot on the brook-side, and used
to be a favourite resort for anglers; but the trout, I believe, are
growing scarce; at least, now that the fishing in the Thames is
improved, poor Mr. Jones complains that his old lodgers desert him.
Of course you took the rooms for the sake of the fishing. I hope the
sport may be better than it is said to be."

"It is of little consequence to me: I do not care much about fishing;
and since Miss Mordaunt calls the book which first enticed me to take
to it 'a cruel one,' I feel as if the trout had become as sacred as
crocodiles were to the ancient Egyptians."

"Lily is a foolish child on such matters. She cannot bear the thought
of giving pain to any dumb creature; and just before our garden there
are a few trout which she has tamed. They feed out of her hand; she
is always afraid they will wander away and get caught."

"But Mr. Melville is an angler?"

"Several years ago he would sometimes pretend to fish, but I believe
it was rather an excuse for lying on the grass and reading 'the cruel
book,' or perhaps, rather, for sketching. But now he is seldom here
till autumn, when it grows too cold for such amusement."

Here Sir Thomas's voice was so loudly raised that it stopped the
conversation between Kenelm and Mrs. Cameron. He had got into some
question of politics on which he and the vicar did not agree, and the
discussion threatened to become warm, when Mrs. Braefield, with a
woman's true tact, broached a new topic, in which Sir Thomas was
immediately interested, relating to the construction of a conservatory
for orchids that he meditated adding to his country-house, and in
which frequent appeal was made to Mrs. Cameron, who was considered an
accomplished florist, and who seemed at some time or other in her life
to have acquired a very intimate acquaintance with the costly family
of orchids.

When the ladies retired Kenelm found himself seated next to Mr. Emlyn,
who astounded him by a complimentary quotation from one of his own
Latin prize poems at the university, hoped he would make some stay at
Moleswich, told him of the principal places in the neighbourhood worth
visiting, and offered him the run of his library, which he flattered
himself was rather rich, both in the best editions of Greek and Latin
classics and in early English literature. Kenelm was much pleased
with the scholarly vicar, especially when Mr. Emlyn began to speak
about Mrs. Cameron and Lily. Of the first he said, "She is one of
those women in whom quiet is so predominant that it is long before one
can know what undercurrents of good feeling flow beneath the unruffled
surface. I wish, however, she was a little more active in the
management and education of her niece,--a girl in whom I feel a very
anxious interest, and whom I doubt if Mrs. Cameron understands.
Perhaps, however, only a poet, and a very peculiar sort of poet, can
understand her: Lily Mordaunt is herself a poem."

"I like your definition of her," said Kenelm. "There is certainly
something about her which differs much from the prose of common life."

"You probably know Wordsworth's lines:


  "' . . . and she shall lean her ear
   In many a secret place
   Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
   And beauty, born of murmuring sound,
   Shall pass into her face.'


"They are lines that many critics have found unintelligible; but Lily
seems like the living key to them."

Kenelm's dark face lighted up, but he made no answer.

"Only," continued Mr. Emlyn, "how a girl of that sort, left wholly to
herself, untrained, undisciplined, is to grow up into the practical
uses of womanhood, is a question that perplexes and saddens me."

"Any more wine?" asked the host, closing a conversation on commercial
matters with Sir Thomas. "No?--shall we join the ladies?"



CHAPTER VII.

THE drawing-room was deserted; the ladies were in the garden. As
Kenelm and Mr. Emlyn walked side by side towards the group (Sir Thomas
and Mr. Braefield following at a little distance), the former asked,
somewhat abruptly, "What sort of man is Miss Cameron's guardian, Mr.
Melville?"

"I can scarcely answer that question. I see little of him when he
comes here. Formerly, he used to run down pretty often with a
harum-scarum set of young fellows, quartered at Cromwell
Lodge,--Grasmere had no accommodation for them,--students in the
Academy, I suppose. For some years he has not brought those persons,
and when he does come himself it is but for a few days. He has the
reputation of being very wild."

Further conversation was here stopped. The two men, while they thus
talked, had been diverging from the straight way across the lawn
towards the ladies, turning into sequestered paths through the
shrubbery; now they emerged into the open sward, just before a table,
on which coffee was served, and round which all the rest of the party
were gathered.

"I hope, Mr. Emlyn," said Elsie's cheery voice, "that you have
dissuaded Mr. Chillingly from turning Papist. I am sure you have
taken time enough to do so."

Mr. Emlyn, Protestant every inch of him, slightly recoiled from
Kenelm's side. "Do you meditate turning--" He could not conclude the
sentence.

"Be not alarmed, my dear sir. I did but own to Mrs. Braefield that I
had paid a visit to Oxford in order to confer with a learned man on a
question that puzzled me, and as abstract as that feminine pastime,
theology, is now-a-days. I cannot convince Mrs. Braefield that Oxford
admits other puzzles in life than those which amuse the ladies." Here
Kenelm dropped into a chair by the side of Lily.

Lily half turned her back to him.

"Have I offended again?"

Lily shrugged her shoulders slightly and would not answer.

"I suspect, Miss Mordaunt, that among your good qualities, nature has
omitted one; the bettermost self within you should replace it."

Lily here abruptly turned to him her front face: the light of the
skies was becoming dim, but the evening star shone upon it.

"How! what do you mean?"

"Am I to answer politely or truthfully?"

"Truthfully! Oh, truthfully! What is life without truth?"

"Even though one believes in fairies?"

"Fairies are truthful, in a certain way. But you are not truthful.
You were not thinking of fairies when you--"

"When I what?"

"Found fault with me."

"I am not sure of that. But I will translate to you my thoughts, so
far as I can read them myself, and to do so I will resort to the
fairies. Let us suppose that a fairy has placed her changeling into
the cradle of a mortal: that into the cradle she drops all manner of
fairy gifts which are not bestowed on mere mortals; but that one
mortal attribute she forgets. The changeling grows up; she charms
those around her: they humour, and pet, and spoil her. But there
arises a moment in which the omission of the one mortal gift is felt
by her admirers and friends. Guess what that is."

Lily pondered. "I see what you mean; the reverse of truthfulness,
politeness."

"No, not exactly that, though politeness slides into it unawares: it
is a very humble quality, a very unpoetic quality; a quality that many
dull people possess; and yet without it no fairy can fascinate
mortals, when on the face of the fairy settles the first wrinkle. Can
you not guess it now?"

"No: you vex me; you provoke me;" and Lily stamped her foot
petulantly, as in Kenelm's presence she had stamped it once before.
"Speak plainly, I insist."

"Miss Mordaunt, excuse me: I dare not," said Kenelm, rising with a
sort of bow one makes to the Queen; and he crossed over to Mrs.
Braefield.

Lily remained, still pouting fiercely.

Sir Thomas took the chair Kenelm had vacated.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE hour for parting came. Of all the guests, Sir Thomas alone stayed
at the house a guest for the night. Mr. and Mrs. Emlyn had their own
carriage. Mrs. Braefield's carriage came to the door for Mrs. Cameron
and Lily.

Said Lily, impatiently and discourteously, "Who would not rather walk
on such a night?" and she whispered to her aunt.

Mrs. Cameron, listening to the whisper and obedient to every whim of
Lily's, said, "You are too considerate, dear Mrs. Braefield; Lily
prefers walking home; there is no chance of rain now."

Kenelm followed the steps of the aunt and niece, and soon overtook
them on the brook-side.

"A charming night, Mr. Chillingly," said Mrs. Cameron.

"An English summer night; nothing like it in such parts of the world
as I have visited. But, alas! of English summer nights there are but
few."

"You have travelled much abroad?"

"Much, no, a little; chiefly on foot."

Lily hitherto had not said a word, and had been walking with downcast
head. Now she looked up and said, in the mildest and most
conciliatory of human voices,--

"You have been abroad;" then, with an acquiescence in the manners of
the world which to him she had never yet manifested, she added his
name, "Mr. Chillingly," and went on, more familiarly. "What a breadth
of meaning the word 'abroad' conveys! Away, afar from one's self,
from one's everyday life. How I envy you! you have been abroad: so
has Lion" (here drawing herself up), "I mean my guardian, Mr.
Melville."

"Certainly, I have been abroad, but afar from myself--never. It is an
old saying,--all old sayings are true; most new sayings are false,--a
man carries his native soil at the sole of his foot."

Here the path somewhat narrowed. Mrs. Cameron went on first, Kenelm
and Lily behind; she, of course, on the dry path, he on the dewy
grass.

She stopped him. "You are walking in the wet, and with those thin
shoes." Lily moved instinctively away from the dry path.

Homely though that speech of Lily's be, and absurd as said by a
fragile girl to a gladiator like Kenelm, it lit up a whole world of
womanhood: it showed all that undiscoverable land which was hidden to
the learned Mr. Emlyn, all that land which an uncomprehended girl
seizes and reigns over when she becomes wife and mother.

At that homely speech, and that impulsive movement, Kenelm halted, in
a sort of dreaming maze. He turned timidly, "Can you forgive me for
my rude words? I presumed to find fault with you."

"And so justly. I have been thinking over all you said, and I feel
you were so right; only I still do not quite understand what you meant
by the quality for mortals which the fairy did not give to her
changeling."

"If I did not dare say it before, I should still less dare to say it
now."

"Do." There was no longer the stamp of the foot, no longer the flash
from her eyes, no longer the wilfulness which said, "I insist;"--

"Do;" soothingly, sweetly, imploringly.

Thus pushed to it, Kenelm plucked up courage, and not trusting himself
to look at Lily, answered brusquely,--

"The quality desirable for men, but more essential to women in
proportion as they are fairy-like, though the tritest thing possible,
is good temper."

Lily made a sudden bound from his side, and joined her aunt, walking
through the wet grass.

When they reached the garden-gate, Kenelm advanced and opened it.
Lily passed him by haughtily; they gained the cottage-door.

"I don't ask you in at this hour," said Mrs. Cameron. "It would be
but a false compliment."

Kenelm bowed and retreated. Lily left her aunt's side, and came
towards him, extending her hand.

"I shall consider your words, Mr. Chillingly," she said, with a
strangely majestic air. "At present I think you are not right. I am
not ill-tempered; but--" here she paused, and then added with a
loftiness of mien which, had she not been so exquisitely pretty, would
have been rudeness--"in any case I forgive you."



CHAPTER IX.

THERE were a good many pretty villas in the outskirts of Moleswich,
and the owners of them were generally well off, and yet there was
little of what is called visiting society; owing perhaps to the fact
that there not being among these proprietors any persons belonging to
what is commonly called "the aristocratic class," there was a vast
deal of aristocratic pretension. The family of Mr. A-----, who had
enriched himself as a stock-jobber, turned up its nose at the family
of Mr. B-----, who had enriched himself still more as a linen-draper,
while the family of Mr. B----- showed a very cold shoulder to the
family of Mr. C-----, who had become richer than either of them as a
pawnbroker, and whose wife wore diamonds, but dropped her h's.
England would be a community so aristocratic that there would be no
living in it, if one could exterminate what is now called
"aristocracy." The Braefields were the only persons who really drew
together the antagonistic atoms of the Moleswich society, partly
because they were acknowledged to be the first persons there, in right
not only of old settlement (the Braefields had held Braefieldville for
four generations), but of the wealth derived from those departments of
commercial enterprise which are recognized as the highest, and of an
establishment considered to be the most elegant in the neighbourhood;
principally because Elsie, while exceedingly genial and cheerful in
temper, had a certain power of will (as her runaway folly had
manifested), and when she got people together compelled them to be
civil to each other. She had commenced this gracious career by
inaugurating children's parties, and when the children became friends
the parents necessarily grew closer together. Still her task had only
recently begun, and its effects were not in full operation. Thus,
though it became known at Moleswich that a young gentleman, the heir
to a baronetcy and a high estate, was sojourning at Cromwell Lodge, no
overtures were made to him on the part of the A's, B's, and C's. The
vicar, who called on Kenelm the day after the dinner at
Braefieldville, explained to him the social conditions of the place.
"You understand," said he, "that it will be from no want of courtesy
on the part of my neighbours if they do not offer you any relief from
the pleasures of solitude. It will be simply because they are shy,
not because they are uncivil. And, it is this consideration that
makes me, at the risk of seeming too forward, entreat you to look into
the vicarage any morning or evening on which you feel tired of your
own company; suppose you drink tea with us this evening,--you will
find a young lady whose heart you have already won."

"Whose heart I have won!" faltered Kenelm, and the warm blood rushed
to his cheek.

"But," continued the vicar, smiling, "she has no matrimonial designs
on you at present. She is only twelve years old,--my little girl
Clemmy."

"Clemmy!--she is your daughter? I did not know that. I very
gratefully accept your invitation."

"I must not keep you longer from your amusement. The sky is just
clouded enough for sport. What fly do you use?"

"To say truth, I doubt if the stream has much to tempt me in the way
of trout, and I prefer rambling about the lanes and by-paths to


 "'The noiseless angler's solitary stand.'

"I am an indefatigable walker, and the home scenery round the place has
many charms for me. Besides," added Kenelm, feeling conscious that he
ought to find some more plausible excuse than the charms of home
scenery for locating himself long in Cromwell Lodge, "besides, I
intend to devote myself a good deal to reading. I have been very idle
of late, and the solitude of this place must be favourable to study."

"You are not intended, I presume, for any of the learned professions?"

"The learned professions," replied Kenelm, "is an invidious form of
speech that we are doing our best to eradicate from the language. All
professions now-a-days are to have much about the same amount of
learning. The learning of the military profession is to be levelled
upwards, the learning of the scholastic to be levelled downwards.
Cabinet ministers sneer at the uses of Greek and Latin. And even such
masculine studies as Law and Medicine are to be adapted to the
measurements of taste and propriety in colleges for young ladies. No,
I am not intended for any profession; but still an ignorant man like
myself may not be the worse for a little book-reading now and then."

"You seem to be badly provided with books here," said the vicar,
glancing round the room, in which, on a table in the corner, lay
half-a-dozen old-looking volumes, evidently belonging not to the
lodger but to the landlord. "But, as I before said, my library is at
your service. What branch of reading do you prefer?"

Kenelm was, and looked, puzzled. But after a pause he answered:

"The more remote it be from the present day, the better for me. You
said your collection was rich in mediaeval literature. But the Middle
Ages are so copied by the modern Goths, that I might as well read
translations of Chaucer or take lodgings in Wardour Street. If you
have any books about the manners and habits of those who, according to
the newest idea in science, were our semi-human progenitors in the
transition state between a marine animal and a gorilla, I should be
very much edified by the loan."

"Alas," said Mr. Emlyn, laughing, "no such books have been left to
us."

"No such books? You must be mistaken. There must be plenty of them
somewhere. I grant all the wonderful powers of invention bestowed on
the creators of poetic romance; still not the sovereign masters in
that realm of literature--not Scott, not Cervantes, not Goethe, not
even Shakspeare--could have presumed to rebuild the past without such
materials as they found in the books that record it. And though I, no
less cheerfully, grant that we have now living among us a creator of
poetic romance immeasurably more inventive than they,--appealing to
our credulity in portents the most monstrous, with a charm of style
the most conversationally familiar,--still I cannot conceive that even
that unrivalled romance-writer can so bewitch our understandings as to
make us believe that, if Miss Mordaunt's cat dislikes to wet her feet,
it is probably because in the prehistoric age her ancestors lived in
the dry country of Egypt; or that when some lofty orator, a Pitt or a
Gladstone, rebuts with a polished smile which reveals his canine teeth
the rude assault of an opponent, he betrays his descent from a
'semi-human progenitor' who was accustomed to snap at his enemy.
Surely, surely there must be some books still extant written by
philosophers before the birth of Adam, in which there is authority,
even though but in mythic fable, for such poetic inventions. Surely,
surely some early chroniclers must depose that they saw, saw with
their own eyes, the great gorillas who scratched off their hairy
coverings to please the eyes of the young ladies of their species, and
that they noted the gradual metamorphosis of one animal into another.
For, if you tell me that this illustrious romance-writer is but a
cautious man of science, and that we must accept his inventions
according to the sober laws of evidence and fact, there is not the
most incredible ghost story which does not better satisfy the common
sense of a sceptic. However, if you have no such books, lend me the
most unphilosophical you possess,--on magic, for instance,--the
philosopher's stone"--

"I have some of them," said the vicar, laughing; "you shall choose for
yourself."

"If you are going homeward, let me accompany you part of the way: I
don't yet know where the church and the vicarage are, and I ought to
know before I come in the evening."

Kenelm and the vicar walked side by side, very sociably, across the
bridge and on the side of the rivulet on which stood Mrs. Cameron's
cottage. As they skirted the garden pale at the rear of the cottage,
Kenelm suddenly stopped in the middle of some sentence which had
interested Mr. Emlyn, and as suddenly arrested his steps on the turf
that bordered the lane. A little before him stood an old peasant
woman, with whom Lily, on the opposite side of the garden pale, was
conversing. Mr. Emlyn did not at first see what Kenelm saw; turning
round rather to gaze on his companion, surprised by his abrupt halt
and silence. The girl put a small basket into the old woman's hand,
who then dropped a low curtsy, and uttered low a "God bless you." Low
though it was, Kenelm overheard it, and said abstractedly to Mr.
Emlyn, "Is there a greater link between this life and the next than
God's blessing on the young, breathed from the lips of the old?"



CHAPTER X.

"AND how is your good man, Mrs. Haley?" said the vicar, who had now
reached the spot on which the old woman stood,--with Lily's fair face
still bended down to her,--while Kenelm slowly followed him.

"Thank you kindly, sir, he is better; out of his bed now. The young
lady has done him a power of good--"

"Hush!" said Lily, colouring. "Make haste home now; you must not keep
him waiting for his dinner."

The old woman again curtsied, and went off at a brisk pace.

"Do you know, Mr. Chillingly," said Mr. Emlyn, "that Miss Mordaunt is
the best doctor in the place? Though if she goes on making so many
cures she will find the number of her patients rather burdensome."

"It was only the other day," said Lily, "that you scolded me for the
best cure I have yet made."

"I?--Oh! I remember; you led that silly child Madge to believe that
there was a fairy charm in the arrowroot you sent her. Own you
deserved a scolding there."

"No, I did not. I dressed the arrowroot, and am I not Fairy? I have
just got such a pretty note from Clemmy, Mr. Emlyn, asking me to come
up this evening and see her new magic lantern. Will you tell her to
expect me? And, mind, no scolding."

"And all magic?" said Mr. Emlyn; "be it so."

Lily and Kenelm had not hitherto exchanged a word. She had replied
with a grave inclination of her head to his silent bow. But now she
turned to him shyly and said, "I suppose you have been fishing all the
morning?"

"No; the fishes hereabout are under the protection of a Fairy,--whom I
dare not displease."

Lily's face brightened, and she extended her hand to him over the
palings. "Good-day; I hear aunty's voice: those dreadful French
verbs!"

She disappeared among the shrubs, amid which they heard the thrill of
her fresh young voice singing to herself.

"That child has a heart of gold," said Mr. Emlyn, as the two men
walked on. "I did not exaggerate when I said she was the best doctor
in the place. I believe the poor really do believe that she is a
fairy. Of course we send from the vicarage to our ailing parishioners
who require it, food and wine; but it never seems to do them the good
that her little dishes made by her own tiny hands do; and I don't know
if you noticed the basket that old woman took away,--Miss Lily taught
Will Somers to make the prettiest little baskets; and she puts her
jellies or other savouries into dainty porcelain gallipots nicely
fitted into the baskets, which she trims with ribbons. It is the look
of the thing that tempts the appetite of the invalids, and certainly
the child may well be called Fairy at present; but I wish Mrs. Cameron
would attend a little more strictly to her education. She can't be a
fairy forever."

Kenelm sighed, but made no answer.

Mr. Emlyn then turned the conversation to erudite subjects, and so
they came in sight of the town, when the vicar stopped and pointed
towards the church, of which the spire rose a little to the left, with
two aged yew-trees half shadowing the burial-ground, and in the rear a
glimpse of the vicarage seen amid the shrubs of its garden ground.

"You will know your way now," said the vicar; "excuse me if I quit
you: I have a few visits to make; among others, to poor Haley, husband
to the old woman you saw. I read to him a chapter in the Bible every
day; yet still I fancy that he believes in fairy charms."

"Better believe too much, than too little," said Kenelm; and he turned
aside into the village and spent half-an-hour with Will, looking at
the pretty baskets Lily had taught Will to make. Then, as he went
slowly homeward, he turned aside into the churchyard.

The church, built in the thirteenth century, was not large, but it
probably sufficed for its congregation, since it betrayed no signs of
modern addition; restoration or repair it needed not. The centuries
had but mellowed the tints of its solid walls, as little injured by
the huge ivy stems that shot forth their aspiring leaves to the very
summit of the stately tower as by the slender roses which had been
trained to climb up a foot or so of the massive buttresses. The site
of the burial-ground was unusually picturesque: sheltered towards the
north by a rising ground clothed with woods, sloping down at the south
towards the glebe pasture-grounds through which ran the brooklet,
sufficiently near for its brawling gurgle to be heard on a still day.
Kenelm sat himself on an antique tomb, which was evidently
appropriated to some one of higher than common rank in bygone days,
but on which the sculpture was wholly obliterated.

The stillness and solitude of the place had their charms for his
meditative temperament; and he remained there long, forgetful of time,
and scarcely hearing the boom of the clock that warned him of its
lapse.

When suddenly, a shadow--the shadow of a human form--fell on the grass
on which his eyes dreamily rested. He looked up with a start, and
beheld Lily standing before him mute and still. Her image was so
present in his thoughts at the moment that he felt a thrill of awe, as
if the thoughts had conjured up her apparition. She was the first to
speak.

"You here, too?" she said very softly, almost whisperingly. "Too!"
echoed Kenelm, rising; "too! 'Tis no wonder that I, a stranger to the
place, should find my steps attracted towards its most venerable
building. Even the most careless traveller, halting at some remote
abodes of the living, turns aside to gaze on the burial-ground of the
dead. But my surprise is that you, Miss Mordaunt, should be attracted
towards the same spot."

"It is my favourite spot," said Lily, "and always has been. I have
sat many an hour on that tombstone. It is strange to think that no
one knows who sleeps beneath it. The 'Guide Book to Moleswich,'
though it gives the history of the church from the reign in which it
was first built, can only venture a guess that this tomb, the grandest
and oldest in the burial-ground, is tenanted by some member of a
family named Montfichet, that was once very powerful in the county,
and has become extinct since the reign of Henry VI. But," added Lily,
"there is not a letter of the name Montfichet left. I found out more
than any one else has done; I learned black-letter on purpose; look
here," and she pointed to a small spot in which the moss had been
removed. "Do you see those figures? are they not XVIII? and look
again, in what was once the line above the figures, ELE. It must have
been an Eleanor, who died at the age of eighteen--"

"I rather think it more probable that the figures refer to the date of
the death, 1318 perhaps; and so far as I can decipher black-letter,
which is more in my father's line than mine, I think it is AL, not EL,
and that it seems as if there had been a letter between L and the
second E, which is now effaced. The tomb itself is not likely to
belong to any powerful family then resident at the place. Their
monuments, according to usage, would have been within the
church,--probably in their own mortuary chapel."

"Don't try to destroy my fancy," said Lily, shaking her head; "you
cannot succeed, I know her history too well. She was young, and some
one loved her, and built over her the finest tomb he could afford; and
see how long the epitaph must have been! how much it must have spoken
in her praise and of his grief. And then he went his way, and the
tomb was neglected, and her fate forgotten."

"My dear Miss Mordaunt, this is indeed a wild romance to spin out of
so slender a thread. But even if true, there is no reason to think
that a life is forgotten, though a tomb be neglected."

"Perhaps not," said Lily, thoughtfully. "But when I am dead, if I can
look down, I think it would please me to see my grave not neglected by
those who had loved me once."

She moved from him as she said this, and went to a little mound that
seemed not long since raised; there was a simple cross at the head and
a narrow border of flowers round it. Lily knelt beside the flowers
and pulled out a stray weed. Then she rose, and said to Kenelm, who
had followed, and now stood beside her,--

"She was the little grandchild of poor old Mrs. Hales. I could not
cure her, though I tried hard: she was so fond of me, and died in my
arms. No, let me not say 'died,'--surely there is no such thing as
dying. 'Tis but a change of life,--


   'Less than the void between two waves of air,
    The space between existence and a soul.'"


"Whose lines are those?" asked Kenelm.

"I don't know; I learnt them from Lion. Don't you believe them to be
true?"

"Yes. But the truth does not render the thought of quitting this
scene of life for another more pleasing to most of us. See how soft
and gentle and bright is all that living summer land beyond; let us
find subject for talk from that, not from the graveyard on which we
stand."

"But is there not a summer land fairer than that we see now; and which
we do see, as in a dream, best when we take subjects of talk from the
graveyard?" Without waiting for a reply, Lily went on. "I planted
these flowers: Mr. Emlyn was angry with me; he said it was 'Popish.'
But he had not the heart to have them taken up; I come here very often
to see to them. Do you think it wrong? Poor little Nell! she was so
fond of flowers. And the Eleanor in the great tomb, she too perhaps
knew some one who called her Nell; but there are no flowers round her
tomb. Poor Eleanor!"

She took the nosegay she wore on her bosom, and as she repassed the
tomb laid it on the mouldering stone.



CHAPTER XI.

THEY quitted the burial-ground, taking their way to Grasmere. Kenelm
walked by Lily's side; not a word passed between them till they came
in sight of the cottage.

Then Lily stopped abruptly, and lifting towards him her charming face,
said,--

"I told you I would think over what you said to me last night. I have
done so, and feel I can thank you honestly. You were very kind: I
never before thought that I had a bad temper; no one ever told me so.
But I see now what you mean; sometimes I feel very quickly, and then I
show it. But how did I show it to you, Mr. Chillingly?"

"Did you not turn your back to me when I seated myself next you in
Mrs. Braefield's garden, vouchsafing me no reply when I asked if I had
offended?"

Lily's face became bathed in blushes, and her voice faltered, as she
answered,--

"I was not offended; I was not in a bad temper then: it was worse than
that."

"Worse? what could it possibly be?"

"I am afraid it was envy."

"Envy of what? of whom?"

"I don't know how to explain; after all, I fear aunty is right, and
the fairy tales put very silly, very naughty thoughts into one's head.
When Cinderella's sisters went to the king's ball, and Cinderella was
left alone, did not she long to go too? Did not she envy her
sisters?"

"Ah! I understand now: Sir Charles spoke of the Court Ball."

"And you were there talking with handsome ladies--and--oh! I was so
foolish and felt sore."

"You, who when we first met wondered how people who could live in the
country preferred to live in towns, do then sometimes contradict
yourself, and sigh for the great world that lies beyond these quiet
water banks. You feel that you have youth and beauty, and wish to be
admired!"

"It is not that exactly," said Lily, with a perplexed look in her
ingenuous countenance, "and in my better moments, when the 'bettermost
self' comes forth, I know that I am not made for the great world you
speak of. But you see--" Here she paused again, and as they had now
entered the garden, dropped wearily on a bench beside the path.
Kenelm seated himself there too, waiting for her to finish her broken
sentence.

"You see," she continued, looking down embarrassed, and describing
vague circles on the gravel with her fairy-like foot, "that at home,
ever since I can remember, they have treated me as if--well, as if I
were--what shall I say? the child of one of your great ladies. Even
Lion, who is so noble, so grand, seemed to think when I was a mere
infant that I was a little queen: once when I told a fib he did not
scold me; but I never saw him look so sad and so angry as when he
said, 'Never again forget that you are a lady.' And, but I tire you--"

"Tire me, indeed! go on."

"No, I have said enough to explain why I have at times proud thoughts,
and vain thoughts; and why, for instance, I said to myself, 'Perhaps
my place of right is among those fine ladies whom he--' but it is all
over now." She rose hastily with a pretty laugh, and bounded towards
Mrs. Cameron, who was walking slowly along the lawn with a book in her
hand.



CHAPTER XII.

IT was a very merry party at the vicarage that evening. Lily had not
been prepared to meet Kenelm there, and her face brightened
wonderfully as at her entrance he turned from the book-shelves to
which Mr. Emlyn was directing his attention. But instead of meeting
his advance, she darted off to the lawn, where Clemmy and several
other children greeted her with a joyous shout.

"Not acquainted with Macleane's Juvenal?" said the reverend scholar;
"you will be greatly pleased with it; here it is,--a posthumous work,
edited by George Long. I can lend you Munro's Lucretius, '69. Aha!
we have some scholars yet to pit against the Germans."

"I am heartily glad to hear it," said Kenelm. "It will be a long time
before they will ever wish to rival us in that game which Miss Clemmy
is now forming on the lawn, and in which England has recently acquired
a European reputation."

"I don't take you. What game?"

"Puss in the Corner. With your leave I will look out and see whether
it be a winning game for puss--in the long-run." Kenelm joined the
children, amidst whom Lily seemed not the least childlike. Resisting
all overtures from Clemmy to join their play, he seated himself on a
sloping bank at a little distance,--an idle looker-on. His eye
followed Lily's nimble movements, his ear drank in the music of her
joyous laugh. Could that be the same girl whom he had seen tending
the flower-bed amid the gravestones? Mrs. Emlyn came across the lawn
and joined him, seating herself also on the bank. Mrs. Emlyn was an
exceedingly clever woman: nevertheless she was not formidable,--on the
contrary, pleasing; and though the ladies in the neighbourhood said
'she talked like a book,' the easy gentleness of her voice carried off
that offence.

"I suppose, Mr. Chillingly," said she, "I ought to apologize for my
husband's invitation to what must seem to you so frivolous an
entertainment as a child's party. But when Mr. Emlyn asked you to
come to us this evening, he was not aware that Clemmy had also invited
her young friends. He had looked forward to rational conversation
with you on his own favourite studies."

"It is not so long since I left school, but that I prefer a half
holiday to lessons, even from a tutor so pleasant as Mr. Emlyn,--


   "'Ah, happy years,--once more who would not be a boy!'"


"Nay," said Mrs. Emlyn, with a grave smile. "Who that had started so
fairly as Mr. Chillingly in the career of man would wish to go back
and resume a place among boys?"

"But, my dear Mrs. Emlyn, the line I quoted was wrung from the heart
of a man who had already outstripped all rivals in the race-ground he
had chosen, and who at that moment was in the very Maytime of youth
and of fame. And if such a man at such an epoch in his career could
sigh to 'be once more a boy,' it must have been when he was thinking
of the boy's half holiday, and recoiling from the task work he was
condemned to learn as man."

"The line you quote is, I think, from 'Childe Harold,' and surely you
would not apply to mankind in general the sentiment of a poet so
peculiarly self-reflecting (if I may use that expression), and in whom
sentiment is often so morbid."

"You are right, Mrs. Emlyn," said Kenelm, ingenuously. "Still a boy's
half holiday is a very happy thing; and among mankind in general there
must be many who would be glad to have it back again,--Mr. Emlyn
himself, I should think."

"Mr. Emlyn has his half holiday now. Do you not see him standing just
outside the window? Do you not hear him laughing? He is a child
again in the mirth of his children. I hope you will stay some time in
the neighbourhood; I am sure you and he will like each other. And it
is such a rare delight to him to get a scholar like yourself to talk
to."

"Pardon me, I am not a scholar; a very noble title that, and not to be
given to a lazy trifler on the surface of book-lore like myself."

"You are too modest. My husband has a copy of your Cambridge prize
verses, and says 'the Latinity of them is quite beautiful.' I quote
his very words."

"Latin verse-making is a mere knack, little more than a proof that one
had an elegant scholar for one's tutor, as I certainly had. But it is
by special grace that a real scholar can send forth another real
scholar, and a Kennedy produce a Munro. But to return to the more
interesting question of half holidays; I declare that Clemmy is
leading off your husband in triumph. He is actually going to be Puss
in the Corner."

"When you know more of Charles,--I mean my husband,--you will discover
that his whole life is more or less of a holiday. Perhaps because he
is not what you accuse yourself of being: he is not lazy; he never
wishes to be a boy once more; and taskwork itself is holiday to him.
He enjoys shutting himself up in his study and reading; he enjoys a
walk with the children; he enjoys visiting the poor; he enjoys his
duties as a clergyman. And though I am not always contented for him,
though I think he should have had those honours in his profession
which have been lavished on men with less ability and less learning,
yet he is never discontented himself. Shall I tell you his secret?"

"Do."

"He is a _Thanks-giving Man_. You, too, must have much to thank God
for, Mr. Chillingly; and in thanksgiving to God does there not blend
usefulness to man, and such sense of pastime in the usefulness as
makes each day a holiday?"

Kenelm looked up into the quiet face of this obscure pastor's wife
with a startled expression in his own.

"I see, ma'am," said he, "that you have devoted much thought to the
study of the aesthetical philosophy as expounded by German thinkers,
whom it is rather difficult to understand."

"I, Mr. Chillingly! good gracious! No! What do you mean by your
aesthetical philosophy?"

"According to aesthetics, I believe man arrives at his highest state
of moral excellence when labour and duty lose all the harshness of
effort,--when they become the impulse and habit of life; when as the
essential attributes of the beautiful, they are, like beauty, enjoyed
as pleasure; and thus, as you expressed, each day becomes a holiday: a
lovely doctrine, not perhaps so lofty as that of the Stoics, but more
bewitching. Only, very few of us can practically merge our cares and
our worries into so serene an atmosphere."

"Some do so without knowing anything of aesthetics and with no
pretence to be Stoics; but, then, they are Christians."

"There are some such Christians, no doubt; but they are rarely to be
met with. Take Christendom altogether, and it appears to comprise the
most agitated population in the world; the population in which there
is the greatest grumbling as to the quantity of labour to be done, the
loudest complaints that duty instead of a pleasure is a very hard and
disagreeable struggle, and in which holidays are fewest and the moral
atmosphere least serene. Perhaps," added Kenelm, with a deeper shade
of thought on his brow, "it is this perpetual consciousness of
struggle; this difficulty in merging toil into ease, or stern duty
into placid enjoyment; this refusal to ascend for one's self into the
calm of an air aloof from the cloud which darkens, and the hail-storm
which beats upon, the fellow-men we leave below,--that makes the
troubled life of Christendom dearer to Heaven, and more conducive to
Heaven's design in rendering earth the wrestling-ground and not the
resting-place of man, than is that of the Brahmin, ever seeking to
abstract himself from the Christian's conflicts of action and desire,
and to carry into its extremest practice the aesthetic theory, of
basking undisturbed in the contemplation of the most absolute beauty
human thought can reflect from its idea of divine good!"

Whatever Mrs. Emlyn might have said in reply was interrupted by the
rush of the children towards her; they were tired of play, and eager
for tea and the magic lantern.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE room is duly obscured and the white sheet attached to the wall;
the children are seated, hushed, and awe-stricken. And Kenelm is
placed next to Lily.

The tritest things in our mortal experience are among the most
mysterious. There is more mystery in the growth of a blade of grass
than there is in the wizard's mirror or the feats of a spirit medium.
Most of us have known the attraction that draws one human being to
another, and makes it so exquisite a happiness to sit quiet and mute
by another's side; which stills for the moment the busiest thoughts in
our brain, the most turbulent desires in our heart, and renders us but
conscious of a present ineffable bliss. Most of us have known that.
But who has ever been satisfied with any metaphysical account of its
why or wherefore? We can but say it is love, and love at that earlier
section of its history which has not yet escaped from romance; but by
what process that other person has become singled out of the whole
universe to attain such special power over one is a problem that,
though many have attempted to solve it, has never attained to
solution. In the dim light of the room Kenelm could only distinguish
the outlines of Lily's delicate face, but at each new surprise in the
show, the face intuitively turned to his, and once, when the terrible
image of a sheeted ghost, pursuing a guilty man, passed along the
wall, she drew closer to him in her childish fright, and by an
involuntary innocent movement laid her hand on his. He detained it
tenderly, but, alas! it was withdrawn the next moment; the ghost was
succeeded by a couple of dancing dogs. And Lily's ready laugh--partly
at the dogs, partly at her own previous alarm--vexed Kenelm's ear. He
wished there had been a succession of ghosts, each more appalling than
the last.

The entertainment was over, and after a slight refreshment of cakes
and wine-and-water the party broke up; the children visitors went away
attended by servant-maids who had come for them. Mrs. Cameron and
Lily were to walk home on foot.

"It is a lovely night, Mrs. Cameron," said Mr. Emlyn, "and I will
attend you to your gate."

"Permit me also," said Kenelm.

"Ay," said the vicar, "it is your own way to Cromwell Lodge."

The path led them through the churchyard as the nearest approach to
the brook-side. The moonbeams shimmered through the yew-trees and
rested on the old tomb; playing, as it were, round the flowers which
Lily's hand had that day dropped upon its stone. She was walking
beside Kenelm, the elder two a few paces in front.

"How silly I was," said she, "to be so frightened at the false ghost!
I don't think a real one would frighten me, at least if seen here, in
this loving moonlight, and on God's ground!"

"Ghosts, were they permitted to appear except in a magic lantern,
could not harm the innocent. And I wonder why the idea of their
apparition should always have been associated with such phantasies of
horror, especially by sinless children, who have the least reason to
dread them."

"Oh, that is true," cried Lily; "but even when we are grown up there
must be times in which we should so long to see a ghost, and feel what
a comfort, what a joy it would be."

"I understand you. If some one very dear to us had vanished from our
life; if we felt the anguish of the separation so intensely as to
efface the thought that life, as you said so well, 'never dies;' well,
yes, then I can conceive that the mourner would yearn to have a
glimpse of the vanished one, were it but to ask the sole and only
question he could desire to put, 'Art thou happy? May I hope that we
shall meet again, never to part,--never?'"

Kenelm's voice trembled as he spoke, tears stood in his eyes. A
melancholy--vague, unaccountable, overpowering--passed across his
heart, as the shadow of some dark-winged bird passes over a quiet
stream.

"You have never yet felt this?" asked Lily doubtingly, in a soft
voice, full of tender pity, stopping short and looking into his face.

"I? No. I have never yet lost one whom I so loved and so yearned to
see again. I was but thinking that such losses may befall us all ere
we too vanish out of sight."

"Lily!" called forth Mrs. Cameron, halting at the gate of the
burial-ground.

"Yes, auntie?"

"Mr. Emlyn wants to know how far you have got in 'Numa Pompilius.'
Come and answer for yourself."

"Oh, those tiresome grown-up people!" whispered Lily, petulantly, to
Kenelm. "I do like Mr. Emlyn; he is one of the very best of men. But
still he is grown up, and his 'Numa Pompilius' is so stupid."

"My first French lesson-book. No, it is not stupid. Read on. It has
hints of the prettiest fairy tale I know, and of the fairy in especial
who bewitched my fancies as a boy."

By this time they had gained the gate of the burial-ground.

"What fairy tale? what fairy?" asked Lily, speaking quickly.

"She was a fairy, though in heathen language she is called a
nymph,--Egeria. She was the link between men and gods to him she
loved; she belongs to the race of gods. True, she, too, may vanish,
but she can never die."

"Well, Miss Lily," said the vicar, "and how far in the book I lent
you,--'Numa Pompilius.'"

"Ask me this day next week."

"I will; but mind you are to translate as you go on. I must see the
translation."

"Very well. I will do my best," answered Lily meekly. Lily now
walked by the vicar's side, and Kenelm by Mrs. Cameron's, till they
reached Grasmere.

"I will go on with you to the bridge, Mr. Chillingly," said the vicar,
when the ladies had disappeared within their garden. "We had little
time to look over my books, and, by the by, I hope you at least took
the Juvenal."

"No, Mr. Emlyn; who can quit your house with an inclination for
satire? I must come some morning and select a volume from those works
which give pleasant views of life and bequeath favourable impressions
of mankind. Your wife, with whom I have had an interesting
conversation, upon the principles of aesthetical philosophy--"

"My wife! Charlotte! She knows nothing about aesthetical
philosophy."

"She calls it by another name, but she understands it well enough to
illustrate the principles by example. She tells me that labour and
duty are so taken up by you--


   'In den heitern Regionen
    Wo die reinen Formen wohnen,'


that they become joy and beauty,--is it so?"

"I am sure that Charlotte never said anything half so poetical. But,
in plain words, the days pass with me very happily. I should be
ungrateful if I were not happy. Heaven has bestowed on me so many
sources of love,--wife, children, books, and the calling which, when
one quits one's own threshold, carries love along with it into the
world beyond; a small world in itself,--only a parish,--but then my
calling links it with infinity."

"I see; it is from the sources of love that you draw the supplies for
happiness."

"Surely; without love one may be good, but one could scarcely be
happy. No one can dream of a heaven except as the abode of love.
What writer is it who says, 'How well the human heart was understood
by him who first called God by the name of Father'?"

"I do not remember, but it is beautifully said. You evidently do not
subscribe to the arguments in Decimus Roach's 'Approach to the
Angels.'"

"Ah, Mr. Chillingly! your words teach me how lacerated a man's
happiness may be if he does not keep the claws of vanity closely
pared. I actually feel a keen pang when you speak to me of that
eloquent panegyric on celibacy, ignorant that the only thing I ever
published which I fancied was not without esteem by intellectual
readers is a Reply to 'The Approach to the Angels,'--a youthful book,
written in the first year of my marriage. But it obtained success: I
have just revised the tenth edition of it."

"That is the book I will select from your library. You will be
pleased to hear that Mr. Roach, whom I saw at Oxford a few days ago,
recants his opinions, and, at the age of fifty, is about to be
married; he begs me to add, 'not for his own personal satisfaction.'"

"Going to be married!--Decimus Roach! I thought my Reply would
convince him at last."

"I shall look to your Reply to remove some lingering doubts in my own
mind."

"Doubts in favour of celibacy?"

"Well, if not for laymen, perhaps for a priesthood."

"The most forcible part of my Reply is on that head: read it
attentively. I think that, of all sections of mankind, the clergy are
those to whom, not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of the
community, marriage should be most commended. Why, sir," continued
the vicar, warming up into oratorical enthusiasm, "are you not aware
that there are no homes in England from which men who have served and
adorned their country have issued forth in such prodigal numbers as
those of the clergy of our Church? What other class can produce a
list so crowded with eminent names as we can boast in the sons we have
reared and sent forth into the world? How many statesmen, soldiers,
sailors, lawyers, physicians, authors, men of science, have been the
sons of us village pastors? Naturally: for with us they receive
careful education; they acquire of necessity the simple tastes and
disciplined habits which lead to industry and perseverance; and, for
the most part, they carry with them throughout life a purer moral
code, a more systematic reverence for things and thoughts religious,
associated with their earliest images of affection and respect, than
can be expected from the sons of laymen whose parents are wholly
temporal and worldly. Sir, I maintain that this is a cogent argument,
to be considered well by the nation, not only in favour of a married
clergy,--for, on that score, a million of Roaches could not convert
public opinion in this country,--but in favour of the Church, the
Established Church, which has been so fertile a nursery of illustrious
laymen; and I have often thought that one main and undetected cause of
the lower tone of morality, public and private, of the greater
corruption of manners, of the more prevalent scorn of religion which
we see, for instance, in a country so civilized as France, is, that
its clergy can train no sons to carry into the contests of earth the
steadfast belief in accountability to Heaven."

"I thank you with a full heart," said Kenelm. "I shall ponder well
over all that you have so earnestly said. I am already disposed to
give up all lingering crotchets as to a bachelor clergy; but, as a
layman, I fear that I shall never attain to the purified philanthropy
of Mr. Decimus Roach, and, if ever I do marry, it will be very much
for my personal satisfaction."

Mr. Emlyn laughed good-humouredly, and, as they had now reached the
bridge, shook hands with Kenelm, and walked homewards, along the
brook-side and through the burial-ground, with the alert step and the
uplifted head of a man who has joy in life and admits of no fear in
death.



CHAPTER XIV.

FOR the next two weeks or so Kenelm and Lily met not indeed so often
as the reader might suppose, but still frequently; five times at Mrs.
Braefield's, once again at the vicarage, and twice when Kenelm had
called at Grasmere; and, being invited to stay to tea at one of those
visits, he stayed the whole evening. Kenelm was more and more
fascinated in proportion as he saw more and more of a creature so
exquisitely strange to his experience. She was to him not only a
poem, but a poem in the Sibylline Books; enigmatical, perplexing
conjecture, and somehow or other mysteriously blending its interest
with visions of the future.

Lily was indeed an enchanting combination of opposites rarely blended
into harmony. Her ignorance of much that girls know before they
number half her years was so relieved by candid, innocent simplicity,
so adorned by pretty fancies and sweet beliefs, and so contrasted and
lit up by gleams of a knowledge that the young ladies we call well
educated seldom exhibit,--knowledge derived from quick observation of
external Nature, and impressionable susceptibility to its varying and
subtle beauties. This knowledge had been perhaps first instilled, and
subsequently nourished, by such poetry as she had not only learned by
heart, but taken up as inseparable from the healthful circulation of
her thoughts; not the poetry of our own day,--most young ladies know
enough of that,--but selected fragments from the verse of old, most of
them from poets now little read by the young of either sex, poets dear
to spirits like Coleridge or Charles Lamb,--none of them, however, so
dear to her as the solemn melodies of Milton. Much of such poetry she
had never read in books: it had been taught her in childhood by her
guardian the painter. And with all this imperfect, desultory culture,
there was such dainty refinement in her every look and gesture, and
such deep woman-tenderness of heart. Since Kenelm had commended "Numa
Pompilius" to her study, she had taken very lovingly to that
old-fashioned romance, and was fond of talking to him about Egeria as
of a creature who had really existed.

But what was the effect that he,--the first man of years correspondent
to her own with whom she had ever familiarly conversed,--what was the
effect that Kenelm Chillingly produced on the mind and the heart of
Lily?

This was, after all, the question that puzzled him the most,--not
without reason: it might have puzzled the shrewdest bystander. The
artless candour with which she manifested her liking to him was at
variance with the ordinary character of maiden love; it seemed more
the fondness of a child for a favourite brother. And it was this
uncertainty that, in his own thoughts, justified Kenelm for lingering
on, and believing that it was necessary to win, or at least to learn
more of, her secret heart before he could venture to disclose his own.
He did not flatter himself with the pleasing fear that he might be
endangering her happiness; it was only his own that was risked. Then,
in all those meetings, all those conversations to themselves, there
had passed none of the words which commit our destiny to the will of
another. If in the man's eyes love would force its way, Lily's frank,
innocent gaze chilled it back again to its inward cell. Joyously as
she would spring forward to meet him, there was no tell-tale blush on
her cheek, no self-betraying tremor in her clear, sweet-toned voice.
No; there had not yet been a moment when he could say to himself, "She
loves me." Often he said to himself, "She knows not yet what love
is."

In the intervals of time not passed in Lily's society, Kenelm would
take long rambles with Mr. Emlyn, or saunter into Mrs. Braefield's
drawing-room. For the former he conceived a more cordial sentiment of
friendship than he entertained for any man of his own age,--a
friendship that admitted the noble elements of admiration and respect.

Charles Emlyn was one of those characters in which the colours appear
pale unless the light be brought very close to them, and then each
tint seems to change into a warmer and richer one. The manner which,
at first, you would call merely gentle, becomes unaffectedly genial;
the mind you at first might term inert, though well-informed, you now
acknowledge to be full of disciplined vigour. Emlyn was not, however,
without his little amiable foibles; and it was, perhaps, these that
made him lovable. He was a great believer in human goodness, and very
easily imposed upon by cunning appeals to "his well-known
benevolence." He was disposed to overrate the excellence of all that
he once took to his heart. He thought he had the best wife in the
world, the best children, the best servants, the best beehive, the
best pony, and the best house-dog. His parish was the most virtuous,
his church the most picturesque, his vicarage the prettiest,
certainly, in the whole shire,--perhaps, in the whole kingdom.
Probably it was this philosophy of optimism which contributed to lift
him into the serene realm of aesthetic joy.

He was not without his dislikes as well as likings. Though a liberal
Churchman towards Protestant dissenters, he cherished the _odium
theologicum_ for all that savoured of Popery. Perhaps there was
another cause for this besides the purely theological one. Early in
life a young sister of his had been, to use his phrase, "secretly
entrapped" into conversion to the Roman Catholic faith, and had since
entered a convent. His affections had been deeply wounded by this
loss to the range of them. Mr. Emlyn had also his little infirmities
of self-esteem rather than of vanity. Though he had seen very little
of any world beyond that of his parish, he piqued himself on his
knowledge of human nature and of practical affairs in general.
Certainly no man had read more about them, especially in the books of
the ancient classics. Perhaps it was owing to this that he so little
understood Lily,--a character to which the ancient classics afforded
no counterpart nor clue; and perhaps it was this also that made Lily
think him "so terribly grown up." Thus, despite his mild good-nature,
she did not get on very well with him.

The society of this amiable scholar pleased Kenelm the more, because
the scholar evidently had not the remotest idea that Kenelm's sojourn
at Cromwell Lodge was influenced by the vicinity to Grasmere. Mr.
Emlyn was sure that he knew human nature, and practical affairs in
general, too well to suppose that the heir to a rich baronet could
dream of taking for wife a girl without fortune or rank, the orphan
ward of a low-born artist only just struggling into reputation; or,
indeed, that a Cambridge prizeman, who had evidently read much on
grave and dry subjects, and who had no less evidently seen a great
deal of polished society, could find any other attraction in a very
imperfectly-educated girl, who tamed butterflies and knew no more than
they did of fashionable life, than Mr. Emlyn himself felt in the
presence of a pretty wayward innocent child, the companion and friend
of his Clemmy.

Mrs. Braefield was more discerning; but she had a good deal of tact,
and did not as yet scare Kenelm away from her house by letting him see
how much she had discerned. She would not even tell her husband, who,
absent from the place on most mornings, was too absorbed in the cares
of his own business to interest himself much in the affairs of others.

Now Elsie, being still of a romantic turn of mind, had taken it into
her head that Lily Mordaunt, if not actually the princess to be found
in poetic dramas whose rank was for a while kept concealed, was yet
one of the higher-born daughters of the ancient race whose name she
bore, and in that respect no derogatory alliance for Kenelm
Chillingly. A conclusion she had arrived at from no better evidence
than the well-bred appearance and manners of the aunt, and the
exquisite delicacy of the niece's form and features, with the
undefinable air of distinction which accompanied even her most
careless and sportive moments. But Mrs. Braefield also had the wit to
discover that, under the infantine ways and phantasies of this almost
self-taught girl, there lay, as yet undeveloped, the elements of a
beautiful womanhood. So that altogether, from the very day she first
re-encountered Kenelm, Elsie's thought had been that Lily was the wife
to suit him. Once conceiving that idea, her natural strength of will
made her resolve on giving all facilities to carry it out silently and
unobtrusively, and therefore skilfully.

"I am so glad to think," she said one day, when Kenelm had joined her
walk through the pleasant shrubberies in her garden ground, "that you
have made such friends with Mr. Emlyn. Though all hereabouts like him
so much for his goodness, there are few who can appreciate his
learning. To you it must be a surprise as well as pleasure to find,
in this quiet humdrum place, a companion so clever and well-informed:
it compensates for your disappointment in discovering that our brook
yields such bad sport."

"Don't disparage the brook; it yields the pleasantest banks on which
to lie down under old pollard oaks at noon, or over which to saunter
at morn and eve. Where those charms are absent even a salmon could
not please. Yes; I rejoice to have made friends with Mr. Emlyn. I
have learned a great deal from him, and am often asking myself whether
I shall ever make peace with my conscience by putting what I have
learned into practice."

"May I ask what special branch of learning is that?"

"I scarcely know how to define it. Suppose we call it
'Worth-whileism.' Among the New Ideas which I was recommended to study
as those that must govern my generation, the Not-worth-while Idea
holds a very high rank; and being myself naturally of calm and equable
constitution, that new idea made the basis of my philosophical system.
But since I have become intimate with Charles Emlyn I think there is a
great deal to be said in favour of Worth-whileism, old idea though it
be. I see a man who, with very commonplace materials for interest or
amusement at his command, continues to be always interested or
generally amused; I ask myself why and how? And it seems to me as if
the cause started from fixed beliefs which settle his relations with
God and man, and that settlement he will not allow any speculations to
disturb. Be those beliefs questionable or not by others, at least
they are such as cannot displease a Deity, and cannot fail to be
kindly and useful to fellow-mortals. Then he plants these beliefs on
the soil of a happy and genial home, which tends to confirm and
strengthen and call them into daily practice; and when he goes forth
from home, even to the farthest verge of the circle that surrounds it,
he carries with him the home influences of kindliness and use.
Possibly my line of life may be drawn to the verge of a wider circle
than his; but so much the better for interest and amusement, if it can
be drawn from the same centre; namely, fixed beliefs daily warmed into
vital action in the sunshine of a congenial home."

Mrs. Braefield listened to this speech with pleased attention, and as
it came to its close, the name of Lily trembled on her tongue, for she
divined that when he spoke of home Lily was in his thoughts; but she
checked the impulse, and replied by a generalized platitude.

"Certainly the first thing in life is to secure a happy and congenial
home. It must be a terrible trial for the best of us if we marry
without love."

"Terrible, indeed, if the one loves and the other does not."

"That can scarcely be your case, Mr. Chillingly, for I am sure you
could not marry where you did not love; and do not think I flatter you
when I say that a man far less gifted than you can scarcely fail to be
loved by the woman he wooes and wins."

Kenelm, in this respect one of the modestest of human beings, shook
his head doubtingly, and was about to reply in self-disparagement,
when, lifting his eyes and looking round, he halted mute and still as
if rooted to the spot. They had entered the trellised circle through
the roses of which he had first caught sight of the young face that
had haunted him ever since.

"Ah!" he said abruptly; "I cannot stay longer here, dreaming away the
work-day hours in a fairy ring. I am going to town to-day by the next
train."

"Yoa are coming back?"

"Of course,--this evening. I left no address at my lodgings in
London. There must be a large accumulation of letters; some, no
doubt, from my father and mother. I am only going for them. Good-by.
How kindly you have listened to me!"

"Shall we fix a day next week for seeing the remains of the old Roman
villa? I will ask Mrs. Cameron and her niece to be of the party."

"Any day you please," said Kenelm joyfully.



CHAPTER XV.

KENELM did indeed find a huge pile of letters and notes on reaching
his forsaken apartment in Mayfair; many of them merely invitations for
days long past, none of them of interest except two from Sir Peter,
three from his mother, and one from Tom Bowles.

Sir Peter's were short. In the first he gently scolded Kenelm for
going away without communicating any address; and stated the
acquaintance he had formed with Gordon, the favourable impression that
young gentleman had made on him, the transfer of the L20,000 and the
invitation given to Gordon, the Traverses, and Lady Glenalvon. The
second, dated much later, noted the arrival of his invited guests,
dwelt with warmth unusual to Sir Peter on the attractions of Cecilia,
and took occasion to refer, not the less emphatically because as it
were incidentally, to the sacred promise which Kenelm had given him
never to propose to a young lady until the case had been submitted to
the examination and received the consent of Sir Peter. "Come to
Exmundham, and if I do not give my consent to propose to Cecilia
Travers hold me a tyrant and rebel."

Lady Chillingly's letters were much longer. They dwelt more
complainingly on his persistence in eccentric habits; so exceedingly
unlike other people, quitting London at the very height of the season,
going without even a servant nobody knew where: she did not wish to
wound his feelings; but still those were not the ways natural to a
young gentleman of station. If he had no respect for himself, he
ought to have some consideration for his parents, especially his poor
mother. She then proceeded to comment on the elegant manners of
Leopold Travers, and the good sense and pleasant conversation of
Chillingly Gordon, a young man of whom any mother might be proud.
From that subject she diverged to mildly querulous references to
family matters. Parson John had expressed himself very rudely to Mr.
Chillingly Gordon upon some book by a foreigner,--Comte or Count, or
some such name,--on which, so far as she could pretend to judge, Mr.
Gordon had uttered some very benevolent sentiments about humanity,
which, in the most insolent manner, Parson John had denounced as an
attack on religion. But really Parson John was too High Church for
her. Having thus disposed of Parson John, she indulged some ladylike
wailings on the singular costume of the three Miss Chillinglys. They
had been asked by Sir Peter, unknown to her--so like him--to meet
their guests; to meet Lady Glenalvon and Miss Travers, whose dress was
so perfect (here she described their dress); and they came in
pea-green with pelerines of mock blonde, and Miss Sally with corkscrew
ringlets and a wreath of jessamine, "which no girl after eighteen
would venture to wear."

"But, my dear," added her ladyship, "your poor father's family are
certainly great oddities. I have more to put up with than any one
knows. I do my best to carry it off. I know my duties, and will do
them."

Family grievances thus duly recorded and lamented, Lady Chillingly
returned to her guests.

Evidently unconscious of her husband's designs on Cecilia, she
dismissed her briefly: "A very handsome young lady, though rather too
blonde for her taste, and certainly with an air _distingue_." Lastly,
she enlarged on the extreme pleasure she felt on meeting again the
friend of her youth, Lady Glenalvon.

"Not at all spoilt by the education of the great world, which, alas!
obedient to the duties of wife and mother, however little my
sacrifices are appreciated, I have long since relinquished. Lady
Glenalvon suggests turning that hideous old moat into a fernery,--a
great improvement. Of course your poor father makes objections."

Tom's letter was written on black-edged paper, and ran thus:--


DEAR SIR,--Since I had the honour to see you in London I have had a
sad loss: my poor uncle is no more. He died very suddenly after a
hearty supper. One doctor says it was apoplexy, another valvular
disease of the heart. He has left me his heir, after providing for
his sister: no one had an idea that he had saved so much money. I am
quite a rich man now. And I shall leave the veterinary business,
which of late--since I took to reading, as you kindly advised--is not
much to my liking The principal corn-merchant here has offered to
take me into partnership; and, from what I can see, it will be a very
good thing and a great rise in life. But, sir, I can't settle to it
at present; I can't settle, as I would wish to anything. I know you
will not laugh at me when I say I have a strange longing to travel for
a while. I have been reading books of travels, and they get into my
head more than any other books. But I don't think I could leave the
country with a contented heart till I have had just another look at
you know whom,--just to see her, and know she is happy. I am sure I
could shake hands with Will and kiss her little one without a wrong
thought. What do you say to that, dear sir? You promised to write to
me about her. But I have not heard from you. Susey, the little girl
with the flower-ball, has had a loss too: the poor old man she lived
with died within a few days of my dear uncle's decease. Mother moved
here, as I think you know, when the forge at Graveleigh was sold; and
she is going to take Susey to live with her. She is quite fond of
Susey. Pray let me hear from you soon; and do, dear sir, give me your
advice about travelling--and about Her. You see I should like Her to
think of me more kindly when I am in distant parts.

   I remain, dear sir,

     Your grateful servant,

        T. BOWLES.

P.S.--Miss Travers has sent me Will's last remittance. There is very
little owed me now; so they must be thriving. I hope she is not
overworked.


On returning by the train that evening, Kenelm went to the house of
Will Somers. The shop was already closed, but he was admitted by a
trusty servant-maid to the parlour, where he found them all at supper,
except indeed the baby, who had long since retired to the cradle, and
the cradle had been removed upstairs. Will and Jessie were very proud
when Kenelm invited himself to share their repast, which, though
simple, was by no means a bad one. When the meal was over and the
supper things removed, Kenelm drew his chair near to the glass door
which led into a little garden very neatly kept--for it was Will's
pride to attend to it before he sat down to his more professional
work. The door was open, and admitted the coolness of the starlit air
and the fragrance of the sleeping flowers.

"You have a pleasant home here, Mrs. Somers."

"We have, indeed, and know how to bless him we owe it to."

"I am rejoiced to think that. How often when God designs a special
kindness to us He puts the kindness into the heart of a
fellow-man,--perhaps the last fellow-man we should have thought of;
but in blessing him we thank God who inspired him. Now, my dear
friends, I know that you all three suspect me of being the agent whom
God chose for His benefits. You fancy that it was from me came the
loan which enabled you to leave Graveleigh and settle here. You are
mistaken,--you look incredulous."

"It could not be the Squire," exclaimed Jessie. "Miss Travers assured
me that it was neither he nor herself. Oh, it must be you, sir. I
beg pardon, but who else could it be?"

"Your husband shall guess. Suppose, Will, that you had behaved ill to
some one who was nevertheless dear to you, and on thinking over it
afterwards felt very sorry and much ashamed of yourself, and suppose
that later you had the opportunity and the power to render a service
to that person, do you think you would do it?"

"I should be a bad man if I did not."

"Bravo! And supposing that when the person you thus served came to
know it was you who rendered the service, he did not feel thankful, he
did not think it handsome of you, thus to repair any little harm he
might have done you before, but became churlish and sore and
cross-grained, and with a wretched false pride said that because he
had offended you once he resented your taking the liberty of
befriending him now, would you not think that person an ungrateful
fellow; ungrateful not only to you his fellow-man,--that is of less
moment,--but ungrateful to the God who put it into your heart to be
His human agent in the benefit received?"

"Well, sir, yes, certainly," said Will, with all the superior
refinement of his intellect to that of Jessie, unaware of what Kenelm
was driving at; while Jessie, pressing her hands tightly together,
turned pale, and with a frightened hurried glance towards Will's face,
answered, impulsively,--

"Oh, Mr. Chillingly, I hope you are not thinking, not speaking, of Mr.
Bowles?"

"Whom else should I think or speak of?"

Will rose nervously from his chair, all his features writhing.

"Sir, sir, this is a bitter blow,--very bitter, very."

Jessie rushed to Will, flung her arms round him and sobbed. Kenelm
turned quietly to old Mrs. Somers, who had suspended the work on which
since supper she had been employed, knitting socks for the baby,--

"My dear Mrs. Somers, what is the good of being a grandmother and
knitting socks for baby grandchildren, if you cannot assure those
silly children of yours that they are too happy in each other to
harbour any resentment against a man who would have parted them, and
now repents?"

Somewhat to Kenelm's admiration, I dare not say surprise, old Mrs.
Somers, thus appealed to, rose from her seat, and, with a dignity of
thought or of feeling no one could have anticipated from the quiet
peasant woman, approached the wedded pair, lifted Jessie's face with
one hand, laid the other on Will's head, and said, "If you don't long
to see Mr. Bowles again and say 'The Lord bless you, sir!' you don't
deserve the Lord's blessing upon you." Therewith she went back to her
seat, and resumed her knitting.

"Thank Heaven, we have paid back the best part of the loan," said
Will, in very agitated tones, "and I think, with a little pinching,
Jessie, and with selling off some of the stock, we might pay the rest;
and then,"--and then he turned to Kenelm,--"and then, sir, we will"
(here a gulp) "thank Mr. Bowles."

"This don't satisfy me at all, Will," answered Kenelm; "and since I
helped to bring you two together, I claim the right to say I would
never have done so could I have guessed you could have trusted your
wife so little as to allow a remembrance of Mr. Bowles to be a thought
of pain. You did not feel humiliated when you imagined that it was to
me you owed some moneys which you have been honestly paying off.
Well, then, I will lend you whatever trifle remains to discharge your
whole debts to Mr. Bowles, so that you may sooner be able to say to
him, 'Thank you.' But between you and me, Will, I think you will be a
finer fellow and a manlier fellow if you decline to borrow that trifle
of me; if you feel you would rather say 'Thank you' to Mr. Bowles,
without the silly notion that when you have paid him his money you owe
him nothing for his kindness."

Will looked away irresolutely. Kenelm went on: "I have received a
letter from Mr. Bowles to-day. He has come into a fortune, and thinks
of going abroad for a time; but before he goes, he says he should like
to shake hands with Will, and be assured by Jessie that all his old
rudeness is forgiven. He had no notion that I should blab about the
loan: he wished that to remain always a secret. But between friends
there need be no secrets. What say you, Will? As head of this
household, shall Mr. Bowles be welcomed here as a friend or not?"

"Kindly welcome," said old Mrs. Somers, looking up from the socks.

"Sir," said Will, with sudden energy, "look here; you have never been
in love, I dare say. If you had, you would not be so hard on me. Mr.
Bowles was in love with my wife there. Mr. Bowles is a very fine man,
and I am a cripple."

"Oh, Will! Will!" cried Jessie.

"But I trust my wife with my whole heart and soul; and, now that the
first pang is over, Mr. Bowles shall be, as mother says, kindly
welcome,--heartily welcome."

"Shake hands. Now you speak like a man, Will. I hope to bring Bowles
here to supper before many days are over."

And that night Kenelm wrote to Mr. Bowles:


MY DEAR TOM,--Come and spend a few days with me at Cromwell Lodge,
Moleswich. Mr. and Mrs. Somers wish much to see and to thank you. I
could not remain forever degraded in order to gratify your whim. They
would have it that I bought their shop, etc., and I was forced in
self-defence to say who it was. More on this and on travels when you
come.

   Your true friend,

     K. C.



CHAPTER XVI.

MRS. CAMERON was seated alone in her pretty drawing-room, with a book
lying open, but unheeded, on her lap. She was looking away from its
pages, seemingly into the garden without, but rather into empty space.

To a very acute and practised observer, there was in her countenance
an expression which baffled the common eye.

To the common eye it was simply vacant; the expression of a quiet,
humdrum woman, who might have been thinking of some quiet humdrum
household detail,--found that too much for her, and was now not
thinking at all.

But to the true observer, there were in that face indications of a
troubled past, still haunted with ghosts never to be laid at
rest,--indications, too, of a character in herself that had undergone
some revolutionary change; it had not always been the character of a
woman quiet and humdrum. The delicate outlines of the lip and nostril
evinced sensibility, and the deep and downward curve of it bespoke
habitual sadness. The softness of the look into space did not tell of
a vacant mind, but rather of a mind subdued and over-burdened by the
weight of a secret sorrow. There was also about her whole presence,
in the very quiet which made her prevalent external characteristic,
the evidence of manners formed in a high-bred society,--the society in
which quiet is connected with dignity and grace. The poor understood
this better than her rich acquaintances at Moleswich, when they said,
"Mrs. Cameron was every inch a lady." To judge by her features she
must once have been pretty, not a showy prettiness, but decidedly
pretty. Now, as the features were small, all prettiness had faded
away in cold gray colourings, and a sort of tamed and slumbering
timidity of aspect. She was not only not demonstrative, but must have
imposed on herself as a duty the suppression of demonstration. Who
could look at the formation of those lips, and not see that they
belonged to the nervous, quick, demonstrative temperament? And yet,
observing her again more closely, that suppression of the
constitutional tendency to candid betrayal of emotion would the more
enlist our curiosity or interest; because, if physiognomy and
phrenology have any truth in them, there was little strength in her
character. In the womanly yieldingness of the short curved upper lip,
the pleading timidity of the regard, the disproportionate but elegant
slenderness of the head between the ear and the neck, there were the
tokens of one who cannot resist the will, perhaps the whim, of another
whom she either loves or trusts.

The book open on her lap is a serious book on the doctrine of grace,
written by a popular clergyman of what is termed "the Low Church."
She seldom read any but serious books, except where such care as she
gave to Lily's education compelled her to read "Outlines of History
and Geography," or the elementary French books used in seminaries for
young ladies. Yet if any one had decoyed Mrs. Cameron into familiar
conversation, he would have discovered that she must early have
received the education given to young ladies of station. She could
speak and write French and Italian as a native. She had read, and
still remembered, such classic authors in either language as are
conceded to the use of pupils by the well-regulated taste of orthodox
governesses. She had a knowledge of botany, such as botany was taught
twenty years ago. I am not sure that, if her memory had been fairly
aroused, she might not have come out strong in divinity and political
economy, as expounded by the popular manuals of Mrs. Marcet. In
short, you could see in her a thoroughbred English lady, who had been
taught in a generation before Lily's, and immeasurably superior in
culture to the ordinary run of English young ladies taught nowadays.
So, in what after all are very minor accomplishments,--now made major
accomplishments,--such as music, it was impossible that a connoisseur
should hear her play on the piano without remarking, "That woman has
had the best masters of her time." She could only play pieces that
belonged to her generation. She had learned nothing since. In short,
the whole intellectual culture had come to a dead stop long years ago,
perhaps before Lily was born.

Now, while she is gazing into space Mrs. Braefield is announced. Mrs.
Cameron does not start from revery. She never starts. But she makes
a weary movement of annoyance, resettles herself, and lays the serious
book on the sofa table. Elsie enters, young, radiant, dressed in all
the perfection of the fashion, that is, as ungracefully as in the eyes
of an artist any gentlewoman can be; but rich merchants who are proud
of their wives so insist, and their wives, in that respect,
submissively obey them.

The ladies interchange customary salutations, enter into the customary
preliminaries of talk, and after a pause Elsie begins in earnest.

"But sha'n't I see Lily? Where is she?"

"I fear she has gone into the town. A poor little boy, who did our
errands, has met with an accident,--fallen from a cherry-tree."

"Which he was robbing?"

"Probably."

"And Lily has gone to lecture him?"

"I don't know as to that; but he is much hurt, and Lily has gone to
see what is the matter with him."

Mrs. Braefield, in her frank outspoken way,--"I don't take much to
girls of Lily's age in general, though I am passionately fond of
children. You know how I do take to Lily; perhaps because she is so
like a child. But she must be an anxious charge to you."

Mrs. Cameron replied by an anxious "No; she is still a child, a very
good one; why should I be anxious?"

Mrs. Braefield, impulsively,--"Why, your child must now be eighteen."

Mrs. Cameron,--"Eighteen--is it possible! How time flies! though in a
life so monotonous as mine, time does not seem to fly, it slips on
like the lapse of water. Let me think,--eighteen? No, she is but
seventeen,--seventeen last May."

Mrs. Braefield,--"Seventeen! A very anxious age for a girl; an age in
which dolls cease and lovers begin."

Mrs. Cameron, not so languidly, but still quietly,--"Lily never cared
much for dolls,--never much for lifeless pets; and as to lovers, she
does not dream of them."

Mrs. Braefield, briskly,--"There is no age after six in which girls do
not dream of lovers. And here another question arises. When a girl
so lovely as Lily is eighteen next birthday, may not a lover dream of
her?"

Mrs. Cameron, with that wintry cold tranquillity of manner, which
implies that in putting such questions an interrogator is taking a
liberty,--"As no lover has appeared, I cannot trouble myself about his
dreams."

Said Elsie inly to herself, "This is the stupidest woman I ever met!"
and aloud to Mrs. Cameron,--"Do you not think that your neighbour, Mr.
Chillingly, is a very fine young man?"

"I suppose he would be generally considered so. He is very tall."

"A handsome face?"

"Handsome, is it? I dare say."

"What does Lily say?"

"About what?"

"About Mr. Chillingly. Does she not think him handsome?"

"I never asked her."

"My dear Mrs. Cameron, would it not be a very pretty match for Lily?
The Chillinglys are among the oldest families in Burke's 'Landed
Gentry,' and I believe his father, Sir Peter, has a considerable
property."

For the first time in this conversation Mrs. Cameron betrayed emotion.
A sudden flush overspread her countenance, and then left it paler than
before. After a pause she recovered her accustomed composure, and
replied, rudely,--

"It would be no friend to Lily who could put such notions into her
head; and there is no reason to suppose that they have entered into
Mr. Chillingly's."

"Would you be sorry if they did? Surely you would like your niece to
marry well, and there are few chances of her doing so at Moleswich."

"Pardon me, Mrs. Braefield, but the question of Lily's marriage I have
never discussed, even with her guardian. Nor, considering the
childlike nature of her tastes and habits, rather than the years she
has numbered, can I think the time has yet come for discussing it at
all."

Elsie, thus rebuked, changed the subject to some newspaper topic which
interested the public mind at the moment and very soon rose to depart.
Mrs. Cameron detained the hand that her visitor held out, and said in
low tones, which, though embarrassed, were evidently earnest, "My dear
Mrs. Braefield, let me trust to your good sense and the affection with
which you have honoured my niece not to incur the risk of unsettling
her mind by a hint of the ambitious projects for her future on which
you have spoken to me. It is extremely improbable that a young man of
Mr. Chillingly's expectations would entertain any serious thoughts of
marrying out of his own sphere of life, and--"

"Stop, Mrs. Cameron, I must interrupt you. Lily's personal
attractions and grace of manner would adorn any station; and have I
not rightly understood you to say that though her guardian, Mr.
Melville, is, as we all know, a man who has risen above the rank of
his parents, your niece, Miss Mordaunt, is like yourself, by birth a
gentlewoman?"

"Yes, by birth a gentlewoman," said Mrs. Cameron, raising her head
with a sudden pride. But she added, with as sudden a change to a sort
of freezing humility, "What does that matter? A girl without fortune,
without connection, brought up in this little cottage, the ward of a
professional artist, who was the son of a city clerk, to whom she owes
even the home she has found, is not in the same sphere of life as Mr.
Chillingly, and his parents could not approve of such an alliance for
him. It would be most cruel to her, if you were to change the
innocent pleasure she may take in the conversation of a clever and
well-informed stranger into the troubled interest which, since you
remind me of her age, a girl even so childlike and beautiful as Lily
might conceive in one represented to her as the possible partner of
her life. Don't commit that cruelty; don't--don't, I implore you!"

"Trust me," cried the warm-hearted Elsie, with tears rushing to her
eyes. "What you say so sensibly, so nobly, never struck me before. I
do not know much of the world,--knew nothing of it till I
married,--and being very fond of Lily, and having a strong regard for
Mr. Chillingly, I fancied I could not serve both better
than--than--but I see now; he is very young, very peculiar; his
parents might object, not to Lily herself, but to the circumstances
you name. And you would not wish her to enter any family where she
was not as cordially welcomed as she deserves to be. I am glad to
have had this talk with you. Happily, I have done no mischief as yet.
I will do none. I had come to propose an excursion to the remains of
the Roman Villa, some miles off, and to invite you and Mr. Chillingly.
I will no longer try to bring him and Lily together."

"Thank you. But you still misconstrue me. I do not think that Lily
cares half so much for Mr. Chillingly as she does for a new butterfly.
I do not fear their coming together, as you call it, in the light in
which she now regards him, and in which, from all I observe, he
regards her. My only fear is that a hint might lead her to regard him
in another way, and that way impossible."

Elsie left the house extremely bewildered, and with a profound
contempt for Mrs. Cameron's knowledge of what may happen to two young
persons "brought together."



CHAPTER XVII.

NOW, on that very day, and about the same hour in which the
conversation just recorded between Elsie and Mrs. Cameron took place,
Kenelm, in his solitary noonday wanderings, entered the burial-ground
in which Lily had some short time before surprised him. And there he
found her, standing beside the flower border which she had placed
round the grave of the child whom she had tended and nursed in vain.

The day was cloudless and sunless; one of those days that so often
instil a sentiment of melancholy into the heart of an English summer.

"You come here too often, Miss Mordaunt," said Kenelm, very softly, as
he approached.

Lily turned her face to him, without any start of surprise, with no
brightening change in its pensive expression,--an expression rare to
the mobile play of her features.

"Not too often. I promised to come as often as I could; and, as I
told you before, I have never broken a promise yet."

Kenelm made no answer. Presently the girl turned from the spot, and
Kenelm followed her silently till she halted before the old tombstone
with its effaced inscription.

"See," she said, with a faint smile, "I have put fresh flowers there.
Since the day we met in this churchyard, I have thought so much of
that tomb, so neglected, so forgotten, and--" she paused a moment, and
went on abruptly, "do you not often find that you are much too--what
is the word? ah! too egotistical, considering and pondering and
dreaming greatly too much about yourself?"

"Yes, you are right there; though, till you so accused me, my
conscience did not detect it."

"And don't you find that you escape from being so haunted by the
thought of yourself, when you think of the dead? they can never have
any share in your existence _here_. When you say, 'I shall do this or
that to-day;' when you dream, 'I may be this or that to-morrow,' you
are thinking and dreaming, all by yourself, for yourself. But you are
out of yourself, beyond yourself, when you think and dream of the
dead, who can have nothing to do with your to-day or your to-morrow."

As we all know, Kenelm Chillingly made it one of the rules of his life
never to be taken by surprise. But when the speech I have written
down came from the lips of that tamer of butterflies, he was so
startled that all it occurred to him to say, after a long pause,
was,--

"The dead are the past; and with the past rests all in the present or
the future that can take us out of our natural selves. The past
decides our present. By the past we divine our future. History,
poetry, science, the welfare of states, the advancement of
individuals, are all connected with tombstones of which inscriptions
are effaced. You are right to honour the mouldered tombstones with
fresh flowers. It is only in the companionship of the dead that one
ceases to be an egotist."

If the imperfectly educated Lily had been above the quick
comprehension of the academical Kenelm in her speech, so Kenelm was
now above the comprehension of Lily. She, too, paused before she
replied,--

"If I knew you better, I think I could understand you better. I wish
you knew Lion. I should like to hear you talk with him."

While thus conversing, they had left the burial-ground, and were in
the pathway trodden by the common wayfarer.

Lily resumed,--"Yes, I should like to hear you talk with Lion."

"You mean your guardian, Mr. Melville?"

"Yes, you know that."

"And why should you like to hear me talk to him?"

"Because there are some things in which I doubt if he was altogether
right, and I would ask you to express my doubts to him; you would,
would you not?"

"But why can you not express them yourself to your guardian; are you
afraid of him?"

"Afraid, no indeed! But--ah, how many people there are coming this
way! There is some tiresome public meeting in the town to-day. Let
us take the ferry: the other side of the stream is much pleasanter; we
shall have it more to ourselves."

Turning aside to the right while she thus spoke, Lily descended a
gradual slope to the margin of the stream, on which they found an old
man dozily reclined in his ferry-boat.

As, seated side by side, they were slowly borne over the still waters
under a sunless sky, Kenelm would have renewed the subject which his
companion had begun, but she shook her head, with a significant glance
at the ferryman. Evidently what she had to say was too confidential
to admit of a listener, not that the old ferryman seemed likely to
take the trouble of listening to any talk that was not addressed to
him. Lily soon did address her talk to him, "So, Brown, the cow has
quite recovered."

"Yes, Miss, thanks to you, and God bless you. To think of your
beating the old witch like that!"

"'Tis not I who beat the witch, Brown; 'tis the fairy. Fairies, you
know, are much more powerful than witches."

"So I find, Miss."

Lily here turned to Kenelm; "Mr. Brown has a very nice milch-cow that
was suddenly taken very ill, and both he and his wife were convinced
that the cow was bewitched."

"Of course it were, that stands to reason. Did not Mother Wright tell
my old woman that she would repent of selling milk, and abuse her
dreadful; and was not the cow taken with shivers that very night?"

"Gently, Brown. Mother Wright did not say that your wife would repent
of selling milk, but of putting water into it."

"And how did she know that, if she was not a witch? We have the best
of customers among the gentlefolks, and never any one that
complained."

"And," answered Lily to Kenelm, unheeding this last observation, which
was made in a sullen manner, "Brown had a horrid notion of enticing
Mother Wright into his ferry-boat and throwing her into the water, in
order to break the spell upon the cow. But I consulted the fairies,
and gave him a fairy charm to tie round the cow's neck. And the cow
is quite well now, you see. So, Brown, there was no necessity to
throw Mother Wright into the water, because she said you put some of
it into the milk. But," she added, as the boat now touched the
opposite bank, "shall I tell you, Brown, what the fairies said to me
this morning?"

"Do, Miss."

"It was this: If Brown's cow yields milk without any water in it, and
if water gets into it when the milk is sold, we, the fairies, will
pinch Mr. Brown black and blue; and when Brown has his next fit of
rheumatics he must not look to the fairies to charm it away."

Herewith Lily dropped a silver groat into Brown's hand, and sprang
lightly ashore, followed by Kenelm.

"You have quite converted him, not only as to the existence, but as to
the beneficial power of fairies," said Kenelm.

"Ah," answered Lily very gravely, "ah, but would it not be nice if
there were fairies still? good fairies, and one could get at them?
tell them all that troubles and puzzles us, and win from them charms
against the witchcraft we practise on ourselves?"

"I doubt if it would be good for us to rely on such supernatural
counsellors. Our own souls are so boundless that the more we explore
them the more we shall find worlds spreading upon worlds into
infinities; and among the worlds is Fairyland." He added, inly to
himself, "Am I not in Fairyland now?"

"Hush!" whispered Lily. "Don't speak more yet awhile. I am thinking
over what you have just said, and trying to understand it."

Thus walking silently they gained the little summer-house which
tradition dedicated to the memory of Izaak Walton. Lily entered it
and seated herself; Kenelm took his place beside her. It was a small
octagon building which, judging by its architecture, might have been
built in the troubled reign of Charles I.; the walls plastered within
were thickly covered with names and dates, and inscriptions in praise
of angling, in tribute to Izaak, or with quotations from his books.
On the opposite side they could see the lawn of Grasmere, with its
great willows dipping into the water. The stillness of the place,
with its associations of the angler's still life, were in harmony with
the quiet day, its breezeless air, and cloud-vested sky.

"You were to tell me your doubts in connection with your guardian,
doubts if he were right in something which you left unexplained, which
you could not yourself explain to him."

Lily started as from thoughts alien to the subject thus reintroduced.
"Yes, I cannot mention my doubts to him because they relate to me, and
he is so good. I owe him so much that I could not bear to vex him by
a word that might seem like reproach or complaint. You remember,"
here she drew nearer to him; and with that ingenuous confiding look
and movement which had, not unfrequently, enraptured him at the
moment, and saddened him on reflection,--too ingenuous, too confiding,
for the sentiment with which he yearned to inspire her,--she turned
towards him her frank untimorous eyes, and laid her hand on his arm:
"you remember that I said in the burial-ground how much I felt that
one is constantly thinking too much of one's self. That must be
wrong. In talking to you only about myself I know I am wrong, but I
cannot help it: I must do so. Do not think ill of me for it. You see
I have not been brought up like other girls. Was my guardian right in
that? Perhaps if he had insisted upon not letting me have my own
wilful way, if he had made me read the books which Mr. and Mrs. Emlyn
wanted to force on me, instead of the poems and fairy tales which he
gave me, I should have had so much more to think of that I should have
thought less of myself. You said that the dead were the past; one
forgets one's self when one thinks of the dead. If I had read more of
the past, had more subjects of interest in the dead whose history it
tells, surely I should be less shut up, as it were, in my own small,
selfish heart? It is only very lately I have thought of this, only
very lately that I have felt sorrow and shame in the thought that I am
so ignorant of what other girls know, even little Clemmy. And I dare
not say this to Lion when I see him next, lest he should blame
himself, when he only meant to be kind, and used to say, 'I don't want
Fairy to be learned, it is enough for me to think she is happy.' And
oh, I was so happy, till--till of late!"

"Because till of late you only knew yourself as a child. But, now
that you feel the desire of knowledge, childhood is vanishing. Do not
vex yourself. With the mind which nature has bestowed on you, such
learning as may fit you to converse with those dreaded 'grown-up
folks' will come to you very easily and quickly. You will acquire
more in a month now than you would have acquired in a year when you
were a child, and task-work was loathed, not courted. Your aunt is
evidently well instructed, and if I might venture to talk to her about
the choice of books--"

"No, don't do that. Lion would not like it."

"Your guardian would not like you to have the education common to
other young ladies?"

"Lion forbade my aunt to teach me much that I rather wished to learn.
She wanted to do so, but she has given it up at his wish. She only
now teases me with those horrid French verbs, and that I know is a
mere make-belief. Of course on Sunday it is different; then I must
not read anything but the Bible and sermons. I don't care so much for
the sermons as I ought, but I could read the Bible all day, every
week-day as well as Sunday; and it is from the Bible that I learn that
I ought to think less about myself."

Kenelm involuntarily pressed the little hand that lay so innocently on
his arm.

"Do you know the difference between one kind of poetry and another?"
asked Lily, abruptly.

"I am not sure. I ought to know when one kind is good and another
kind is bad. But in that respect I find many people, especially
professed critics, who prefer the poetry which I call bad to the
poetry I think good."

"The difference between one kind of poetry and another, supposing them
both to be good," said Lily, positively, and with an air of triumph,
"is this,--I know, for Lion explained it to me,--in one kind of poetry
the writer throws himself entirely out of his existence, he puts
himself into other existences quite strange to his own. He may be a
very good man, and he writes his best poetry about very wicked men: he
would not hurt a fly, but he delights in describing murderers. But in
the other kind of poetry the writer does not put himself into other
existences, he expresses his own joys and sorrows, his own individual
heart and mind. If he could not hurt a fly, he certainly could not
make himself at home in the cruel heart of a murderer. There, Mr.
Chillingly, that is the difference between one kind of poetry and
another."

"Very true," said Kenelm, amused by the girl's critical definitions.
"The difference between dramatic poetry and lyrical. But may I ask
what that definition has to do with the subject into which you so
suddenly introduced it?"

"Much; for when Lion was explaining this to my aunt, he said, 'A
perfect woman is a poem; but she can never be a poem of the one kind,
never can make herself at home in the hearts with which she has no
connection, never feel any sympathy with crime and evil; she must be a
poem of the other kind, weaving out poetry from her own thoughts and
fancies.' And, turning to me, he said, smiling, 'That is the poem I
wish Lily to be. Too many dry books would only spoil the poem.' And
you now see why I am so ignorant, and so unlike other girls, and why
Mr. and Mrs. Emlyn look down upon me."

"You wrong at least Mr. Emlyn, for it was he who first said to me,
'Lily Mordaunt is a poem.'"

"Did he? I shall love him for that. How pleased Lion will be!"

"Mr. Melville seems to have an extraordinary influence over your
mind," said Kenelm, with a jealous pang.

"Of course. I have neither father nor mother: Lion has been both to
me. Aunty has often said, 'You cannot be too grateful to your
guardian; without him I should have no home to shelter you, no bread
to give you.' He never said that: he would be very angry with aunty
if he knew she had said it. When he does not call me Fairy he calls
me Princess. I would not displease him for the world."

"He is very much older than you; old enough to be your father, I
hear."

"I dare say. But if he were twice as old I could not love him
better."

Kenelm smiled: the jealousy was gone. Certainly not thus could any
girl, even Lily, speak of one with whom, however she might love him,
she was likely to fall in love.

Lily now rose up, rather slowly and wearily. "It is time to go home:
aunty will be wondering what keeps me away,--come."

They took their way towards the bridge opposite to Cromwell Lodge.

It was not for some minutes that either broke silence. Lily was the
first to do so, and with one of those abrupt changes of topic which
were common to the restless play of her secret thoughts.

"You have father and mother still living, Mr. Chillingly?"

"Thank Heaven, yes."

"Which do you love the best?"

"That is scarcely a fair question. I love my mother very much; but my
father and I understand each other better than--"

"I see: it is so difficult to be understood. No one understands me."

"I think I do."

Lily shook her head with an energetic movement of dissent.

"At least as well as a man can understand a young lady."

"What sort of young lady is Miss Cecilia Travers?"

"Cecilia Travers! When and how did you ever hear that such a person
existed?"

"That big London man whom they call Sir Thomas mentioned her name the
day we dined at Braefieldville."

"I remember,--as having been at the Court ball."

"He said she was very handsome."

"So she is."

"Is she a poem too?"

"No; that never struck me."

"Mr. Emlyn, I suppose, would call her perfectly brought up,--well
educated. He would not raise his eyebrows at her as he does at
me,--poor me, Cinderella!"

"Ah, Miss Mordaunt, you need not envy her. Again let me say that you
could very soon educate yourself to the level of any young ladies who
adorn the Court balls."

"Ay; but then I should not be a poem," said Lily, with a shy, arch
side-glance at his face.

They were now on the bridge, and before Kenelm could answer Lily
resumed quickly, "You need not come any farther; it is out of your
way."

"I cannot be so disdainfully dismissed, Miss Mordaunt; I insist on
seeing you to at least your garden gate."

Lily made no objection and again spoke,--

"What sort of country do you live in when at home; is it like this?"

"Not so pretty; the features are larger, more hill and dale and
woodland: yet there is one feature in our grounds which reminds me a
little of this landscape,--a light stream, somewhat wider, indeed,
than your brooklet; but here and there the banks are so like those by
Cromwell Lodge that I sometimes start and fancy myself at home. I
have a strange love for rivulets and all running waters, and in my
foot wanderings I find myself magnetically attracted towards them."

Lily listened with interest, and after a short pause said, with a
half-suppressed sigh, "Your home is much finer than any place here,
even than Braefieldville, is it not? Mrs. Braefield says your father
is very rich."

"I doubt if he is richer than Mr. Braefield; and, though his house may
be larger than Braefieldville, it is not so smartly furnished, and has
no such luxurious hothouses and conservatories. My father's tastes
are like mine, very simple. Give him his library, and he would
scarcely miss his fortune if he lost it. He has in this one immense
advantage over me."

"You would miss fortune?" said Lily, quickly.

"Not that; but my father is never tired of books. And shall I own it?
there are days when books tire me almost as much as they do you."

They were now at the garden gate. Lily, with one hand on the latch,
held out the other to Kenelm, and her smile lit up the dull sky like a
burst of sunshine, as she looked in his face and vanished.



BOOK VII.



CHAPTER I.

KENELM did not return home till dusk, and just as he was sitting down
to his solitary meal there was a ring at the bell, and Mrs. Jones
ushered in Mr. Thomas Bowles.

Though that gentleman had never written to announce the day of his
arrival, he was not the less welcome.

"Only," said Kenelm, "if you preserve the appetite I have lost, I fear
you will find meagre fare to-day. Sit down, man."

"Thank you, kindly, but I dined two hours ago in London, and I really
can eat nothing more."

Kenelm was too well-bred to press unwelcome hospitalities. In a very
few minutes his frugal repast was ended; the cloth removed, the two
men were left alone.

"Your room is here, of course, Tom; that was engaged from the day I
asked you, but you ought to have given me a line to say when to expect
you, so that I could have put our hostess on her mettle as to dinner
or supper. You smoke still, of course: light your pipe."

"Thank you, Mr. Chillingly, I seldom smoke now; but if you will excuse
a cigar," and Tom produced a very smart cigar-case.

"Do as you would at home. I shall send word to Will Somers that you
and I sup there to-morrow. You forgive me for letting out your
secret. All straightforward now and henceforth. You come to their
hearth as a friend, who will grow dearer to them both every year. Ah,
Tom, this love for woman seems to me a very wonderful thing. It may
sink a man into such deeps of evil, and lift a man into such heights
of good."

"I don't know as to the good," said Tom, mournfully, and laying aside
his cigar.

"Go on smoking: I should like to keep you company; can you spare me
one of your cigars?"

Tom offered his case. Kenelm extracted a cigar, lighted it, drew a
few whiffs, and, when he saw that Tom had resumed his own cigar,
recommenced conversation.

"You don't know as to the good; but tell me honestly, do you think if
you had not loved Jessie Wiles, you would be as good a man as you are
now?"

"If I am better than I was, it is not because of my love for the
girl."

"What then?"

"The loss of her."

Kenelm started, turned very pale, threw aside the cigar, rose, and
walked the room to and fro with very quick but very irregular strides.

Tom continued quietly. "Suppose I had won Jessie and married her, I
don't think any idea of improving myself would have entered my head.
My uncle would have been very much offended at my marrying a
day-labourer's daughter, and would not have invited me to Luscombe. I
should have remained at Graveleigh, with no ambition of being more
than a common farrier, an ignorant, noisy, quarrelsome man; and if I
could not have made Jessie as fond of me as I wished, I should not
have broken myself of drinking, and I shudder to think what a brute I
might have been, when I see in the newspapers an account of some
drunken wife-beater. How do we know but what that wife-beater loved
his wife dearly before marriage, and she did not care for him? His
home was unhappy, and so he took to drink and to wife-beating."

"I was right, then," said Kenelm, halting his strides, "when I told you
it would be a miserable fate to be married to a girl whom you loved to
distraction, and whose heart you could never warm to you, whose life
you could never render happy."

"So right!"

"Let us drop that part of the subject at present," said Kenelm,
reseating himself, "and talk about your wish to travel. Though
contented that you did not marry Jessie, though you can now, without
anguish, greet her as the wife of another, still there are some
lingering thoughts of her that make you restless; and you feel that
you could more easily wrench yourself from these thoughts in a marked
change of scene and adventure, that you might bury them altogether in
the soil of a strange land. Is it so?"

"Ay, something of that, sir."

Then Kenelm roused himself to talk of foreign lands, and to map out a
plan of travel that might occupy some months. He was pleased to find
that Tom had already learned enough of French to make himself
understood at least upon commonplace matters, and still more pleased
to discover that he had been not only reading the proper guide-books
or manuals descriptive of the principal places in Europe worth
visiting, but that he had acquired an interest in the places; interest
in the fame attached to them by their history in the past, or by the
treasures of art they contained.

So they talked far into the night; and when Tom retired to his room,
Kenelm let himself out of the house noiselessly, and walked with slow
steps towards the old summer-house in which he had sat with Lily. The
wind had risen, scattering the clouds that had veiled the preceding
day, so that the stars were seen in far chasms of the sky
beyond,--seen for a while in one place, and, when the swift clouds
rolled over them there, shining out elsewhere. Amid the varying
sounds of the trees, through which swept the night gusts, Kenelm
fancied he could distinguish the sigh of the willow on the opposite
lawn of Grasmere.



CHAPTER II.

KENELM despatched a note to Will Somers early the next morning,
inviting himself and Mr. Bowles to supper that evening. His tact was
sufficient to make him aware that in such social meal there would be
far less restraint for each and all concerned than in a more formal
visit from Tom during the day-time; and when Jessie, too, was engaged
with customers to the shop.

But he led Tom through the town and showed him the shop itself, with
its pretty goods at the plate-glass windows, and its general air of
prosperous trade; then he carried him off into the lanes and fields of
the country, drawing out the mind of his companion, and impressed with
great admiration of its marked improvement in culture, and in the
trains of thought which culture opens out and enriches.

But throughout all their multiform range of subject Kenelm could
perceive that Tom was still preoccupied and abstracted: the idea of
the coming interview with Jessie weighed upon him.

When they left Cromwell Lodge at nightfall, to repair to the supper at
Will's; Kenelm noticed that Bowles had availed himself of the contents
of his carpet-bag to make some refined alterations in his dress. The
alterations became him.

When they entered the parlour, Will rose from his chair with the
evidence of deep emotion on his face, advanced to Tom, took his hand
and grasped and dropped it without a word. Jessie saluted both guests
alike, with drooping eyelids and an elaborate curtsy. The old mother
alone was perfectly self-possessed and up to the occasion.

"I am heartily glad to see you, Mr. Bowles," said she, "and so all
three of us are, and ought to be; and if baby was older, there would
be four."

"And where on earth have you hidden baby?" cried Kenelm. "Surely he
might have been kept up for me to-night, when I was expected; the last
time I supped here I took you by surprise, and therefore had no right
to complain of baby's want of respect to her parents' friends."

Jessie raised the window-curtain, and pointed to the cradle behind it.
Kenelm linked his arm in Tom's, led him to the cradle, and, leaving
him alone to gaze on the sleeping inmate, seated himself at the table,
between old Mrs. Somers and Will. Will's eyes were turned away
towards the curtain, Jessie holding its folds aside, and the
formidable Tom, who had been the terror of his neighbourhood, bending
smiling over the cradle: till at last he laid his large hand on the
pillow, gently, timidly, careful not to awake the helpless sleeper,
and his lips moved, doubtless with a blessing; then he, too, came to
the table, seating himself, and Jessie carried the cradle upstairs.

Will fixed his keen, intelligent eyes on his bygone rival; and
noticing the changed expression of the once aggressive countenance,
the changed costume in which, without tinge of rustic foppery, there
was the token of a certain gravity of station scarcely compatible with
a return to old loves and old habits in the village world, the last
shadow of jealousy vanished from the clear surface of Will's
affectionate nature.

"Mr. Bowles," he exclaimed, impulsively, "you have a kind heart, and a
good heart, and a generous heart. And your corning here to-night on
this friendly visit is an honour which--which"--"Which," interrupted
Kenelm, compassionating Will's embarrassment, "is on the side of us
single men. In this free country a married man who has a male baby
may be father to the Lord Chancellor or the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But--well, my friends, such a meeting as we have to-night does not
come often; and after supper let us celebrate it with a bowl of punch.
If we have headaches the next morning none of us will grumble."

Old Mrs. Somers laughed out jovially. "Bless you, sir, I did not
think of the punch; I will go and see about it," and, baby's socks
still in her hands, she hastened from the room.

What with the supper, what with the punch, and what with Kenelm's art
of cheery talk on general subjects, all reserve, all awkwardness, all
shyness between the convivialists, rapidly disappeared. Jessie
mingled in the talk; perhaps (excepting only Kenelm) she talked more
than the others, artlessly, gayly, no vestige of the old coquetry;
but, now and then, with a touch of genteel finery, indicative of her
rise in life, and of the contact of the fancy shopkeeper with noble
customers. It was a pleasant evening; Kenelm had resolved that it
should be so. Not a hint of the obligations to Mr. Bowles escaped
until Will, following his visitor to the door, whispered to Tom, "You
don't want thanks, and I can't express them. But when we say our
prayers at night, we have always asked God to bless him who brought us
together, and has since made us so prosperous,--I mean Mr. Chillingly.
To-night there will be another besides him, for whom we shall pray,
and for whom baby, when he is older, will pray too."

Therewith Will's voice thickened; and he prudently receded, with no
unreasonable fear lest the punch might make him too demonstrative of
emotion if he said more.

Tom was very silent on the return to Cromwell Lodge; it did not seem
the silence of depressed spirits, but rather of quiet meditation, from
which Kenelm did not attempt to rouse him.

It was not till they reached the garden pales of Grasmere that Tom,
stopping short, and turning his face to Kenelm, said, "I am very
grateful to you for this evening,--very."

"It has revived no painful thoughts then?"

"No; I feel so much calmer in mind than I ever believed I could have
been, after seeing her again."

"Is it possible!" said Kenelm, to himself. "How should I feel if I
ever saw in Lily the wife of another man, the mother of his child?"
At that question he shuddered, and an involuntary groan escaped from
his lips. Just then having, willingly in those precincts, arrested
his steps when Tom paused to address him, something softly touched the
arm which he had rested on the garden pale. He looked, and saw that
it was Blanche. The creature, impelled by its instincts towards
night-wanderings, had, somehow or other, escaped from its own bed
within the house, and hearing a voice that had grown somewhat familiar
to its ear, crept from among the shrubs behind upon the edge of the
pale. There it stood, with arched back, purring low as in pleased
salutation.

Kenelm bent down and covered with kisses the blue ribbon which Lily's
hand had bound round the favourite's neck. Blanche submitted to the
caress for a moment, and then catching a slight rustle among the
shrubs made by some awaking bird, sprang into the thick of the
quivering leaves and vanished.

Kenelm moved on with a quick impatient stride, and no further words
were exchanged between him and his companion till they reached their
lodging and parted for the night.



CHAPTER III.

THE next day, towards noon, Kenelm and his visitor, walking together
along the brook-side, stopped before Izaak Walton's summer-house, and,
at Kenelm's suggestion, entered therein to rest, and more at their
ease to continue the conversation they had begun.

"You have just told me," said Kenelm, "that you feel as if a load were
taken off your heart, now that you have again met Jessie Somers, and
that you find her so changed that she is no longer the woman you
loved. As to the change, whatever it be, I own, it seems to me for
the better, in person, in manners, in character; of course I should
not say this, if I were not convinced of your perfect sincerity when
you assured me that you are cured of the old wound. But I feel so
deeply interested in the question how a fervent love, once entertained
and enthroned in the heart of a man so earnestly affectionate and so
warm-blooded as yourself, can be, all of a sudden, at a single
interview, expelled or transferred into the calm sentiment of
friendship, that I pray you to explain."

"That is what puzzles me, sir," answered Tom, passing his hand over
his forehead. "And I don't know if I can explain it.

"Think over it, and try."

Tom mused for some moments and then began. "You see, sir, that I was
a very different man myself when I fell in love with Jessie Wiles, and
said, 'Come what may, that girl shall be my wife. Nobody else shall
have her.'"

"Agreed; go on."

"But while I was becoming a different man, when I thought of her--and
I was always thinking of her--I still pictured her to myself as the
same Jessie Wiles; and though, when I did see her again at Graveleigh,
after she had married--the day--"

"You saved her from the insolence of the Squire."

"She was but very recently married. I did not realize her as married.
I did not see her husband, and the difference within myself was only
then beginning. Well, so all the time I was reading and thinking, and
striving to improve my old self at Luscombe, still Jessie Wiles
haunted me as the only girl I had ever loved, ever could love; I could
not believe it possible that I could ever marry any one else. And
lately I have been much pressed to marry some one else; all my family
wish it: but the face of Jessie rose up before me, and I said to
myself, 'I should be a base man if I married one woman, while I could
not get another woman out of my head.' I must see Jessie once more,
must learn whether her face is now really the face that haunts me when
I sit alone; and I have seen her, and it is not that face: it may be
handsomer, but it is not a girl's face, it is the face of a wife and a
mother. And, last evening, while she was talking with an
open-heartedness which I had never found in her before, I became
strangely conscious of the difference in myself that had been silently
at work within the last two years or so. Then, sir, when I was but an
ill-conditioned, uneducated, petty village farrier, there was no
inequality between me and a peasant girl; or, rather, in all things
except fortune, the peasant girl was much above me. But last evening
I asked myself, watching her and listening to her talk, 'If Jessie
were now free, should I press her to be my wife?' and I answered
myself, 'No.'"

Kenelm listened with rapt attention, and exclaimed briefly, but
passionately, "Why?"

"It seems as if I were giving myself airs to say why. But, sir,
lately I have been thrown among persons, women as well as men, of a
higher class than I was born in; and in a wife I should want a
companion up to their mark, and who would keep me up to mine; and ah,
sir, I don't feel as if I could find that companion in Mrs. Somers."

"I understand you now, Tom. But you are spoiling a silly romance of
mine. I had fancied the little girl with the flower face would grow
up to supply the loss of Jessie; and, I am so ignorant of the human
heart, I did think it would take all the years required for the little
girl to open into a woman, before the loss of the old love could be
supplied. I see now that the poor little child with the flower face
has no chance."

"Chance? Why, Mr. Chillingly," cried Tom, evidently much nettled,
"Susey is a dear little thing, but she is scarcely more than a mere
charity girl. Sir, when I last saw you in London you touched on that
matter as if I were still the village farrier's son, who might marry a
village labourer's daughter. But," added Tom, softening down his
irritated tone of voice, "even if Susey were a lady born I think a man
would make a very great mistake, if he thought he could bring up a
little girl to regard him as a father; and then, when she grew up,
expect her to accept him as a lover."

"Ah, you think that!" exclaimed Kenelm, eagerly, and turning eyes that
sparkled with joy towards the lawn of Grasmere. "You think that; it
is very sensibly said,--well, and you have been pressed to marry, and
have hung back till you had seen again Mrs. Somers. Now you will be
better disposed to such a step; tell me about it?"

"I said, last evening, that one of the principal capitalists at
Luscombe, the leading corn-merchant, had offered to take me into
partnership. And, sir, he has an only daughter, she is a very amiable
girl, has had a first-rate education, and has such pleasant manners
and way of talk, quite a lady. If I married her I should soon be the
first man in Luscombe, and Luscombe, as you are no doubt aware,
returns two members to Parliament; who knows, but that some day the
farrier's son might be--" Tom stopped abruptly, abashed at the
aspiring thought which, while speaking, had deepened his hardy colour
and flashed from his honest eyes.

"Ah!" said Kenelm, almost mournfully, "is it so? must each man in his
life play many parts? Ambition succeeds to love, the reasoning brain
to the passionate heart. True, you are changed; my Tom Bowles is
gone."

"Not gone in his undying gratitude to you, sir," said Tom, with great
emotion. "Your Tom Bowles would give up all his dreams of wealth or
of rising in life, and go through fire and water to serve the friend
who first bid him be a new Tom Bowles! Don't despise me as your own
work: you said to me that terrible day, when madness was on my brow
and crime within my heart, 'I will be to you the truest friend man
ever found in man.' So you have been. You commanded me to read; you
commanded me to think; you taught me that body should be the servant
of mind."

"Hush, hush, times are altered; it is you who can teach me now. Teach
me, teach me; how does ambition replace love? How does the desire to
rise in life become the all-mastering passion, and, should it prosper,
the all-atoning consolation of our life? We can never be as happy,
though we rose to the throne of the Caesars, as we dream that we could
have been, had Heaven but permitted us to dwell in the obscurest
village, side by side with the woman we love."

Tom was exceedingly startled by such a burst of irrepressible passion
from the man who had told him that, though friends were found only
once in a life, sweethearts were as plentiful as blackberries.

Again he swept his hand over his forehead, and replied hesitatingly: "I
can't pretend to say what maybe the case with others. But to judge by
my own case, it seems to me this: a young man who, out of his own
business, has nothing to interest or excite him, finds content,
interest, and excitement when he falls in love; and then, whether for
good or ill, he thinks there is nothing like love in the world, he
don't care a fig for ambition then. Over and over again did my poor
uncle ask me to come to him at Luscombe, and represent all the worldly
advantage it would be to me; but I could not leave the village in
which Jessie lived, and, besides, I felt myself unfit to be anything
higher than I was. But when I had been some time at Luscombe, and
gradually got accustomed to another sort of people, and another sort
of talk, then I began to feel interest in the same objects that
interested those about me; and when, partly by mixing with better
educated men, and partly by the pains I took to educate myself, I felt
that I might now more easily rise above my uncle's rank of life than
two years ago I could have risen above a farrier's forge, then the
ambition to rise did stir in me, and grew stronger every day. Sir, I
don't think you can wake up a man's intellect but what you wake with
it emulation. And, after all, emulation is ambition."

"Then, I suppose, I have no emulation in me, for certainly I have no
ambition."

"That I can't believe, sir; other thoughts may cover it over and keep
it down for a time. But sooner or later, it will force its way to the
top, as it has done with me. To get on in life, to be respected by
those who know you, more and more as you grow older, I call that a
manly desire. I am sure it comes as naturally to an Englishman
as--as--"

"As the wish to knock down some other Englishman who stands in his way
does. I perceive now that you were always a very ambitious man, Tom;
the ambition has only taken another direction. Caesar might have been


   "'But the first wrestler on the green.'


"And now, I suppose, you abandon the idea of travel: you will return to
Luscombe, cured of all regret for the loss of Jessie; you will marry
the young lady you mention, and rise, through progressive steps of
alderman and mayor, into the rank of member for Luscombe."

"All that may come in good time," answered Tom, not resenting the tone
of irony in which he was addressed, "but I still intend to travel: a
year so spent must render me all the more fit for any station I aim
at. I shall go back to Luscombe to arrange my affairs, come to terms
with Mr. Leland the corn-merchant, against my return, and--"

"The young lady is to wait till then."

"Emily--"

"Oh, that is the name? Emily! a much more elegant name than Jessie."

"Emily," continued Tom, with an unruffled placidity,--which,
considering the aggravating bitterness for which Kenelm had exchanged
his wonted dulcitudes of indifferentism, was absolutely saintlike,
"Emily knows that if she were my wife I should be proud of her, and
will esteem me the more if she feels how resolved I am that she shall
never be ashamed of me."

"Pardon me, Tom," said Kenelm softened, and laying his hand on his
friend's shoulder with brotherlike tenderness. "Nature has made you a
thorough gentleman; and you could not think and speak more nobly if
you had come into the world as the head of all the Howards."



CHAPTER IV.

TOM went away the next morning. He declined to see Jessie again,
saying curtly, "I don't wish the impression made on me the other
evening to incur a chance of being weakened."

Kenelm was in no mood to regret his friend's departure. Despite all
the improvement in Tom's manners and culture, which raised him so much
nearer to equality with the polite and instructed heir of the
Chillinglys, Kenelm would have felt more in sympathy and rapport with
the old disconsolate fellow-wanderer who had reclined with him on the
grass, listening to the minstrel's talk or verse, than he did with the
practical, rising citizen of Luscombe. To the young lover of Lily
Mordaunt there was a discord, a jar, in the knowledge that the human
heart admits of such well-reasoned, well-justified transfers of
allegiance; a Jessie to-day, or an Emily to-morrow; "La reine est
morte: vive la reine"

An hour or two after Tom had gone, Kenelm found himself almost
mechanically led towards Braefieldville. He had instinctively divined
Elsie's secret wish with regard to himself and Lily, however skilfully
she thought she had concealed it.

At Braefieldville he should hear talk of Lily, and in the scenes where
Lily had been first beheld.

He found Mrs. Braefield alone in the drawing-room, seated by a table
covered with flowers, which she was assorting and intermixing for the
vases to which they were destined.

It struck him that her manner was more reserved than usual and
somewhat embarrassed; and when, after a few preliminary matters of
small talk, he rushed boldly _in medias res_ and asked if she had seen
Mrs. Cameron lately, she replied briefly, "Yes, I called there the
other day," and immediately changed the conversation to the troubled
state of the Continent.

Kenelm was resolved not to be so put off, and presently returned to
the charge.

"The other day you proposed an excursion to the site of the Roman
villa, and said you would ask Mrs. Cameron to be of the party.
Perhaps you have forgotten it?"

"No; but Mrs. Cameron declines. We can ask the Emlyns instead. He
will be an excellent _cicerone_."

"Excellent! Why did Mrs. Cameron decline?"

Elsie hesitated, and then lifted her clear brown eyes to his face,
with a sudden determination to bring matters to a crisis.

"I cannot say why Mrs. Cameron declined, but in declining she acted
very wisely and very honourably. Listen to me, Mr. Chillingly. You
know how highly I esteem, and how cordially I like you, and judging by
what I felt for some weeks, perhaps longer, after we parted at Tor
Hadham--" Here again she hesitated, and, with a half laugh and a
slight blush, again went resolutely on. "If I were Lily's aunt or
elder sister, I should do as Mrs. Cameron does; decline to let Lily
see much more of a young gentleman too much above her in wealth and
station for--"

"Stop," cried Kenelm, haughtily, "I cannot allow that any man's wealth
or station would warrant his presumption in thinking himself above
Miss Mordaunt."

"Above her in natural grace and refinement, certainly not. But in the
world there are other considerations which, perhaps, Sir Peter and
Lady Chillingly might take into account."

"You did not think of that before you last saw Mrs. Cameron."

"Honestly speaking, I did not. Assured that Miss Mordaunt was a
gentlewoman by birth, I did not sufficiently reflect upon other
disparities."

"You know, then, that she is by birth a gentlewoman?"

"I only know it as all here do, by the assurance of Mrs. Cameron, whom
no one could suppose not to be a lady. But there are different
degrees of lady and of gentleman, which are little heeded in the
ordinary intercourse of society, but become very perceptible in
questions of matrimonial alliance; and Mrs. Cameron herself says very
plainly that she does not consider her niece to belong to that station
in life from which Sir Peter and Lady Chillingly would naturally wish
their son should select his bride. Then (holding out her hand) pardon
me if I have wounded or offended you. I speak as a true friend to you
and to Lily both. Earnestly I advise you, if Miss Mordaunt be the
cause of your lingering here, earnestly I advise you to leave while
yet in time for her peace of mind and your own."

"Her peace of mind," said Kenelm, in low faltering tones, scarcely
hearing the rest of Mrs. Braefield's speech. "Her peace of mind? Do
you sincerely think that she cares for me,--could care for me,--if I
stayed?"

"I wish I could answer you decidedly. I am not in the secrets of her
heart. I can but conjecture that it might be dangerous for the peace
of any young girl to see too much of a man like yourself, to divine
that he loved her, and not to be aware that he could not, with the
approval of his family, ask her to become his wife."

Kenelm bent his face down, and covered it with his right hand. He did
not speak for some moments. Then he rose, the fresh cheek very pale,
and said,--

"You are right. Miss Mordaunt's peace of mind must be the first
consideration. Excuse me if I quit you thus abruptly. You have given
me much to think of, and I can only think of it adequately when
alone."



CHAPTER V.


FROM KENELM CHILLINGLY TO SIR PETER CHILLINGLY.


MY FATHER, MY DEAR FATHER,--This is no reply to your letters. I know
not if itself can be called a letter. I cannot yet decide whether it
be meant to reach your hands. Tired with talking to myself, I sit
down to talk to you. Often have I reproached myself for not seeing
every fitting occasion to let you distinctly know how warmly I love,
how deeply I reverence you; you, O friend, O father. But we
Chillinglys are not a demonstrative race. I don't remember that you,
by words, ever expressed to me the truth that you loved your son
infinitely more than he deserves. Yet, do I not know that you would
send all your beloved old books to the hammer rather than I should
pine in vain for some untried, if sinless, delight on which I had set
my heart? And do you not know equally well, that I would part with
all my heritage, and turn day-labourer, rather than you should miss
the beloved old books?

That mutual knowledge is taken for granted in all that my heart yearns
to pour forth to your own. But, if I divine aright, a day is coming
when, as between you and me, there must be a sacrifice on the part of
one to the other. If so, I implore that the sacrifice may come from
you. How is this? How am I so ungenerous, so egotistical, so
selfish, so ungratefully unmindful of all I already owe to you, and
may never repay? I can only answer, "It is fate, it is nature, it is
love "--

 . . . . . . . . .

Here I must break off. It is midnight, the moon halts opposite to the
window at which I sit, and on the stream that runs below there is a
long narrow track on which every wave trembles in her light; on either
side of the moonlit track all the other waves, running equally to
their grave in the invisible deep, seem motionless and dark. I can
write no more.

 . . . . . . . . .

     (Dated two days later.)

They say she is beneath us in wealth and station. Are we, my
father--we, two well-born gentlemen--coveters of gold or lackeys of
the great? When I was at college, if there were any there more
heartily despised than another it was the parasite and the
tuft-hunter; the man who chose his friends according as their money or
their rank might be of use to him. If so mean where the choice is so
little important to the happiness and career of a man who has
something of manhood in him, how much more mean to be the parasite and
tuft-hunter in deciding what woman to love, what woman to select as
the sweetener and ennobler of one's everyday life! Could she be to my
life that sweetener, that ennobler? I firmly believe it. Already
life itself has gained a charm that I never even guessed in it before;
already I begin, though as yet but faintly and vaguely, to recognize
that interest in the objects and aspirations of my fellow-men which is
strongest in those whom posterity ranks among its ennoblers. In this
quiet village it is true that I might find examples enough to prove
that man is not meant to meditate upon life, but to take active part
in it, and in that action to find his uses. But I doubt if I should
have profited by such examples; if I should not have looked on this
small stage of the world as I have looked on the large one, with the
indifferent eyes of a spectator on a trite familiar play carried on by
ordinary actors, had not my whole being suddenly leaped out of
philosophy into passion, and, at once made warmly human, sympathized
with humanity wherever it burned and glowed. Ah, is there to be any
doubt of what station, as mortal bride, is due to her,--her, my
princess, my fairy? If so, how contented you shall be, my father,
with the worldly career of your son! how perseveringly he will strive
(and when did perseverance fail?) to supply all his deficiencies of
intellect, genius, knowledge, by the energy concentrated on a single
object which--more than intellect, genius, knowledge, unless they
attain to equal energy equally concentrated--commands what the world
calls honours.

Yes, with her, with her as the bearer of my name, with her to whom I,
whatever I might do of good or of great, could say, "It is thy work,"
I promise that you shall bless the day when you took to your arms a
daughter.

 . . . . . . . . .

"Thou art in contact with the beloved in all that thou feelest
elevated above thee." So it is written by one of those weird Germans
who search in our bosoms for the seeds of buried truths, and conjure
them into flowers before we ourselves were even aware of the seeds.

Every thought that associates itself with my beloved seems to me born
with wings.

 . . . . . . . . .

I have just seen her, just parted from her. Since I had been
told--kindly, wisely told--that I had no right to hazard her peace of
mind unless I were privileged to woo and to win her, I promised myself
that I would shun her presence until I had bared my heart to you, as I
am doing now, and received that privilege from yourself; for even had
I never made the promise that binds my honour, your consent and
blessing must hallow my choice. I do not feel as if I could dare to
ask one so innocent and fair to wed an ungrateful, disobedient son.
But this evening I met her, unexpectedly, at the vicar's, an excellent
man, from whom I have learned much; whose precepts, whose example,
whose delight in his home, and his life at once active and serene, are
in harmony with my own dreams when I dream of her.

I will tell you the name of the beloved; hold it as yet a profound
secret between you and me. But oh for the day when I may hear you
call her by that name, and print on her forehead the only kiss by man
of which I should not be jealous.

It is Sunday, and after the evening service it is my friend's custom
to gather his children round him, and, without any formal sermon or
discourse, engage their interests in subjects harmonious to
associations with the sanctity of the day; often not directly bearing
upon religion; more often, indeed, playfully starting from some little
incident or some slight story-book which had amused the children in
the course of the past week, and then gradually winding into reference
to some sweet moral precept or illustration from some divine example.
It is a maxim with him that, while much that children must learn they
can only learn well through conscious labour, and as positive
task-work, yet Religion should be connected in their minds not with
labour and task-work, but should become insensibly infused into their
habits of thought, blending itself with memories and images of peace
and love; with the indulgent tenderness of the earliest teachers, the
sinless mirthfulness of the earliest home; with consolation in after
sorrows, support through after trials, and never parting company with
its twin sister, Hope.

I entered the vicar's room this evening just as the group had
collected round him. By the side of his wife sat a lady in whom I
feel a keen interest. Her face wears that kind of calm which speaks
of the lassitude bequeathed by sorrow. She is the aunt of my beloved
one. Lily had nestled herself on a low ottoman, at the good pastor's
feet, with one of his little girls, round whose shoulder she had wound
her arm. She is much more fond of the companionship of children than
that of girls of her own age. The vicar's wife, a very clever woman,
once, in my hearing, took her to task for this preference, asking her
why she persisted in grouping herself with mere infants who could
teach her nothing? Ah! could you have seen the innocent, angel-like
expression of her face when she answered simply, "I suppose because
with them I feel safer, I mean nearer to God."

Mr. Emlyn--that is the name of the vicar--deduced his homily this
evening from a pretty fairy tale which Lily had been telling to his
children the day before, and which he drew her on to repeat.

Take, in brief, the substance of the story:--

"Once on a time, a king and queen made themselves very unhappy because
they had no heir to their throne; and they prayed for one; and lo, on
some bright summer morning, the queen, waking from sleep, saw a cradle
beside her bed, and in the cradle a beautiful sleeping babe. Great
day throughout the kingdom! But as the infant grew up, it became very
wayward and fretful: it lost its beauty; it would not learn its
lessons; it was as naughty as a child could be. The parents were very
sorrowful; the heir, so longed for, promised to be a great plague to
themselves and their subjects. At last one day, to add to their
trouble, two little bumps appeared on the prince's shoulders. All the
doctors were consulted as to the cause and the cure of this deformity.
Of course they tried the effect of back-bands and steel machines,
which gave the poor little prince great pain, and made him more
unamiable than ever. The bumps, nevertheless, grew larger, and as
they increased, so the prince sickened and pined away. At last a
skilful surgeon proposed, as the only chance of saving the prince's
life, that the bumps should be cut out; and the next morning was fixed
for that operation. But at night the queen saw, or dreamed she saw, a
beautiful shape standing by her bedside. And it said to her
reproachfully, 'Ungrateful woman! How wouldst thou repay me for the
precious boon that my favour bestowed on thee! In me behold the Queen
of the Fairies. For the heir to thy kingdom, I consigned to thy
charge an infant from Fairyland, to become a blessing to thee and to
thy people; and thou wouldst inflict upon it a death of torture by the
surgeon's knife.' And the queen answered, 'Precious indeed thou mayest
call the boon,--a miserable, sickly, feverish changeling.'

"'Art thou so dull,' said the beautiful visitant, 'as not to
comprehend that the earliest instincts of the fairy child would be
those of discontent, at the exile from its native home? and in that
discontent it would have pined itself to death, or grown up, soured
and malignant, a fairy still in its power but a fairy of wrath and
evil, had not the strength of its inborn nature sufficed to develop
the growth of its wings. That which thy blindness condemns as the
deformity of the human-born, is to the fairy-born the crowning
perfection of its beauty. Woe to thee, if thou suffer not the wings
of the fairy child to grow.'

"And the next morning the queen sent away the surgeon when he came
with his horrible knife, and removed the back-board and the steel
machines from the prince's shoulders, though all the doctors predicted
that the child would die. And from that moment the royal heir began
to recover bloom and health. And when at last, out of those deforming
bumps, budded delicately forth the plumage of snow-white wings, the
wayward peevishness of the prince gave place to sweet temper. Instead
of scratching his teachers, he became the quickest and most docile of
pupils, grew up to be the joy of his parents and the pride of their
people; and people said, 'In him we shall have hereafter such a king
as we have never yet known.'"

Here ended Lily's tale. I cannot convey to you a notion of the
pretty, playful manner in which it was told. Then she said, with a
grave shake of the head, "But you do not seem to know what happened
afterwards. Do you suppose that the prince never made use of his
wings? Listen to me. It was discovered by the courtiers who attended
on His Royal Highness that on certain nights, every week, he
disappeared. In fact, on these nights, obedient to the instinct of
the wings, he flew from palace halls into Fairyland; coming back
thence all the more lovingly disposed towards the human home from
which he had escaped for a while."

"Oh, my children," interposed the preacher earnestly, "the wings would
be given to us in vain if we did not obey the instinct which allures
us to soar; vain, no less, would be the soaring, were it not towards
the home whence we came, bearing back from its native airs a stronger
health, and a serener joy; more reconciled to the duties of earth by
every new flight into heaven."

As he thus completed the moral of Lily's fairy tale, the girl rose
from her low seat, took his hand, kissed it reverently, and walked
away towards the window. I could see that she was affected even to
tears, which she sought to conceal. Later in the evening, when we
were dispersed on the lawn, for a few minutes before the party broke
up, Lily came to my side timidly and said, in a low whisper,--

"Are you angry with me? what have I done to displease you?"

"Angry with you; displeased? How can you think of me so unjustly?"

"It is so many days since you have called, since I have seen you," she
said so artlessly, looking up at me with eyes in which tears still
seemed to tremble.

Before I could trust myself to reply, her aunt approached, and
noticing me with a cold and distant "Good-night," led away her niece.

I had calculated on walking back to their home with them, as I
generally have done when we met at another house. But the aunt had
probably conjectured I might be at the vicarage that evening, and in
order to frustrate my intention had engaged a carriage for their
return. No doubt she has been warned against permitting further
intimacy with her niece.

My father, I must come to you at once, discharge my promise, and
receive from your own lips your consent to my choice; for you will
consent, will you not? But I wish you to be prepared beforehand, and
I shall therefore put up these disjointed fragments of my commune with
my own heart and with yours, and post them to-morrow. Expect me to
follow them after leaving you a day free to consider them
alone,--alone, my dear father: they are meant for no eye but yours.

K. C.



CHAPTER VI.

THE next day Kenelm walked into the town, posted his voluminous letter
to Sir Peter, and then looked in at the shop of Will Somers, meaning
to make some purchases of basket-work or trifling fancy goods in
Jessie's pretty store of such articles, that might please the taste of
his mother.

On entering the shop his heart beat quicker. He saw two young forms
bending over the counter, examining the contents of a glass case. One
of these customers was Clemmy; in the other there was no mistaking the
slight graceful shape of Lily Mordaunt. Clemmy was exclaiming, "Oh,
it is so pretty, Mrs. Somers! but," turning her eyes from the counter
to a silk purse in her hand, she added sorrowfully, "I can't buy it.
I have not got enough, not by a great deal."

"And what is it, Miss Clemmy?" asked Kenelm.

The two girls turned round at his voice, and Clemmy's face brightened.

"Look here," she said, "is it not too lovely?"

The object thus admired and coveted was a little gold locket, enriched
by a cross composed of small pearls.

"I assure you, miss," said Jessie, who had acquired all the coaxing
arts of her trade, "it is really a great bargain. Miss Mary Burrows,
who was here just before you came, bought one not nearly so pretty and
gave ten shillings more for it."

Miss Mary Burrows was the same age as Miss Clementina Emlyn, and there
was a rivalry as to smartness between those youthful beauties. "Miss
Burrows!" sighed Clemmy, very scornfully.

But Kenelm's attention was distracted from Clemmy's locket to a little
ring which Lily had been persuaded by Mrs. Somers to try on, and which
she now drew off and returned with a shake of the head. Mrs. Somers,
who saw that she had small chance of selling the locket to Clemmy, was
now addressing herself to the elder girl more likely to have
sufficient pocket-money, and whom, at all events, it was quite safe to
trust.

"The ring fits you so nicely, Miss Mordaunt, and every young lady of
your age wears at least one ring; allow me to put it up." She added
in a lower voice, "Though we only sell the articles in this case on
commission, it is all the same to us whether we are paid now or at
Christmas."

"'Tis no use tempting me, Mrs. Somers," said Lily, laughing, and then
with a grave air, "I promised Lion, I mean my guardian, never to run
into debt, and I never will."

Lily turned resolutely from the perilous counter, taking up a paper
that contained a new ribbon she had bought for Blanche, and Clemmy
reluctantly followed her out of the shop.

Kenelm lingered behind and selected very hastily a few trifles, to be
sent to him that evening with some specimens of basket-work left to
Will's tasteful discretion; then purchased the locket on which Clemmy
had set her heart; but all the while his thoughts were fixed on the
ring which Lily had tried on. It was no sin against etiquette to give
the locket to a child like Clemmy, but would it not be a cruel
impertinence to offer a gift to Lily?

Jessie spoke: "Miss Mordaunt took a great fancy to this ring, Mr.
Chillingly. I am sure her aunt would like her to have it. I have a
great mind to put it by on the chance of Mrs. Cameron's calling here.
It would be a pity if it were bought by some one else."

"I think," said Kenelm, "that I will take the liberty of showing it to
Mrs. Cameron. No doubt she will buy it for her niece. Add the price
of it to my bill." He seized the ring and carried it off; a very poor
little simple ring, with a single stone shaped as a heart, not half
the price of the locket.

Kenelm rejoined the young ladies just where the path split into two,
the one leading direct to Grasmere, the other through the churchyard
to the vicarage. He presented the locket to Clemmy with brief kindly
words which easily removed any scruple she might have had in accepting
it; and, delighted with her acquisition, she bounded off to the
vicarage, impatient to show the prize to her mamma and sisters, and
more especially to Miss Mary Burrows, who was coming to lunch with
them.

Kenelm walked on slowly by Lily's side.

"You have a good heart, Mr. Chillingly," said she, somewhat abruptly.
"How it must please you to give such pleasure! Dear little Clemmy!"

This artless praise, and the perfect absence of envy or thought of
self evinced by her joy that her friend's wish was gratified, though
her own was not, enchanted Kenelm.

"If it pleases to give pleasure," said he, "it is your turn to be
pleased now; you can confer such pleasure upon me."

"How?" she asked, falteringly, and with quick change of colour.

"By conceding to me the same right your little friend has allowed."

And he drew forth the ring.

Lily reared her head with a first impulse of haughtiness. But when
her eyes met his the head drooped down again, and a slight shiver ran
through her frame.

"Miss Mordaunt," resumed Kenelm, mastering his passionate longing to
fall at her feet and say, "But, oh! in this ring it is my love that I
offer,--it is my troth that I pledge!" "Miss Mordaunt, spare me the
misery of thinking that I have offended you; least of all would I do
so on this day, for it may be some little while before I see you
again. I am going home for a few days upon a matter which may affect
the happiness of my life, and on which I should be a bad son and an
unworthy gentleman if I did not consult him who, in all that concerns
my affections, has trained me to turn to him, the father; in all that
concerns my honour to him, the gentleman."

A speech more unlike that which any delineator of manners and morals
in the present day would put into the mouth of a lover, no critic in
"The Londoner" could ridicule. But, somehow or other, this poor
little tamer of butterflies and teller of fairy tales comprehended on
the instant all that this most eccentric of human beings thus frigidly
left untold. Into her innermost heart it sank more deeply than would
the most ardent declaration put into the lips of the boobies or the
scamps in whom delineators of manners in the present day too often
debase the magnificent chivalry embodied in the name of "lover."

Where these two had, while speaking, halted on the path along the
brook-side, there was a bench, on which it so happened that they had
seated themselves weeks before. A few moments later on that bench
they were seated again.

And the trumpery little ring with its turquoise heart was on Lily's
finger, and there they continued to sit for nearly half an hour; not
talking much, but wondrously happy; not a single vow of troth
interchanged. No, not even a word that could be construed into "I
love." And yet when they rose from the bench, and went silently along
the brook-side, each knew that the other was beloved.

When they reached the gate that admitted into the garden of Grasmere,
Kenelm made a slight start. Mrs. Cameron was leaning over the gate.
Whatever alarm at the appearance Kenelm might have felt was certainly
not shared by Lily; she advanced lightly before him, kissed her aunt
on the cheek, and passed on across the lawn with a bound in her step
and the carol of a song upon her lips.

Kenelm remained by the gate, face to face with Mrs. Cameron. She
opened the gate, put her arm in his, and led him back along the
brook-side.

"I am sure, Mr. Chillingly," she said, "that you will not impute to my
words any meaning more grave than that which I wish them to convey,
when I remind you that there is no place too obscure to escape from
the ill-nature of gossip, and you must own that my niece incurs the
chance of its notice if she be seen walking alone in these by-paths
with a man of your age and position, and whose sojourn in the
neighbourhood, without any ostensible object or motive, has already
begun to excite conjecture. I do not for a moment assume that you
regard my niece in any other light than that of an artless child,
whose originality of tastes or fancy may serve to amuse you; and still
less do I suppose that she is in danger of misrepresenting any
attentions on your part. But for her sake I am bound to consider what
others may say. Excuse me, then, if I add that I think you are also
bound in honour and in good feeling to do the same. Mr. Chillingly,
it would give me a great sense of relief if it suited your plans to
move from the neighbourhood."

"My dear Mrs. Cameron," answered Kenelm, who had listened to this
speech with imperturbable calm of visage, "I thank you much for your
candour, and I am glad to have this opportunity of informing you that
I am about to move from this neighbourhood, with the hope of returning
to it in a very few days and rectifying your mistake as to the point
of view in which I regard your niece. In a word," here the expression
of his countenance and the tone of his voice underwent a sudden
change, "it is the dearest wish of my heart to be empowered by my
parents to assure you of the warmth with which they will welcome your
niece as their daughter, should she deign to listen to my suit and
intrust me with the charge of her happiness."

Mrs. Cameron stopped short, gazing into his face with a look of
inexpressible dismay.

"No! Mr. Chillingly," she exclaimed, "this must not be,--cannot be.
Put out of your mind an idea so wild. A young man's senseless
romance. Your parents cannot consent to your union with my niece; I
tell you beforehand they cannot."

"But why?" asked Kenelm, with a slight smile, and not much impressed
by the vehemence of Mrs. Cameron's adjuration.

"Why?" she repeated passionately; and then recovering something of her
habitual weariness of quiet. "The why is easily explained. Mr.
Kenelm Chillingly is the heir of a very ancient house and, I am told,
of considerable estates. Lily Mordaunt is a nobody, an orphan,
without fortune, without connection, the ward of a humbly born artist,
to whom she owes the roof that shelters her; she is without the
ordinary education of a gentlewoman; she has seen nothing of the world
in which you move. Your parents have not the right to allow a son so
young as yourself to throw himself out of his proper sphere by a rash
and imprudent alliance. And, never would I consent, never would
Walter Melville consent, to her entering into any family reluctant to
receive her. There,--that is enough. Dismiss the notion so lightly
entertained. And farewell."

"Madam," answered Kenelm very earnestly, "believe me, that had I not
entertained the hope approaching to conviction that the reasons you
urge against my presumption will not have the weight with my parents
which you ascribe to them, I should not have spoken to you thus
frankly. Young though I be, still I might fairly claim the right to
choose for myself in marriage. But I gave to my father a very binding
promise that I would not formally propose to any one till I had
acquainted him with my desire to do so, and obtained his approval of
my choice; and he is the last man in the world who would withhold that
approval where my heart is set on it as it is now. I want no fortune
with a wife, and should I ever care to advance my position in the
world, no connection would help me like the approving smile of the
woman I love. There is but one qualification which my parents would
deem they had the right to exact from my choice of one who is to bear
our name. I mean that she should have the appearance, the manners,
the principles, and--my mother at least might add--the birth of a
gentlewoman. Well, as to appearance and manners, I have seen much of
fine society from my boyhood, and found no one among the highest born
who can excel the exquisite refinement of every look, and the inborn
delicacy of every thought, in her of whom, if mine, I shall be as
proud as I shall be fond. As to defects in the frippery and tinsel of
a boarding-school education, they are very soon remedied. Remains
only the last consideration,--birth. Mrs. Braefield informs me that
you have assured her that, though circumstances into which as yet I
have no right to inquire, have made her the ward of a man of humble
origin, Miss Mordaunt is of gentle birth. Do you deny that?"

"No," said Mrs. Cameron, hesitating, but with a flash of pride in her
eyes as she went on. "No. I cannot deny that my niece is descended
from those who, in point of birth, were not unequal to your own
ancestors. But what of that?" she added, with a bitter despondency of
tone. "Equality of birth ceases when one falls into poverty,
obscurity, neglect, nothingness!"

"Really this is a morbid habit on your part. But, since we have thus
spoken so confidentially, will you not empower me to answer the
question which will probably be put to me, and the answer to which
will, I doubt not, remove every obstacle in the way of my happiness?
Whatever the reasons which might very sufficiently induce you to
preserve, whilst living so quietly in this place, a discreet silence
as to the parentage of Miss Mordaunt and your own,--and I am well
aware that those whom altered circumstances of fortune have compelled
to altered modes of life may disdain to parade to strangers the
pretensions to a higher station than that to which they reconcile
their habits,--whatever, I say, such reasons for silence to strangers,
should they preclude you from confiding to me, an aspirant to your
niece's hand, a secret which, after all, cannot be concealed from her
future husband?"

"From her future husband? of course not," answered Mrs. Cameron. "But
I decline to be questioned by one whom I may never see again, and of
whom I know so little. I decline, indeed, to assist in removing any
obstacle to a union with my niece, which I hold to be in every way
unsuited to either party. I have no cause even to believe that my
niece would accept you if you were free to propose to her. You have
not, I presume, spoken to her as an aspirant to her hand. You have
not addressed to her any declaration of your attachment, or sought to
extract from her inexperience any words that warrant you in thinking
that her heart will break if she never sees you again."

"I do not merit such cruel and taunting questions," said Kenelm,
indignantly. "But I will say no more now. When we again meet let me
hope you will treat me less unkindly. Adieu!"

"Stay, sir. A word or two more. You persist in asking your father
and Lady Chillingly to consent to your proposal to Miss Mordaunt?"

"Certainly I do."

"And you will promise me, on your word as a gentleman, to state fairly
all the causes which might fairly operate against their consent,--the
poverty, the humble rearing, the imperfect education of my niece,--so
that they might not hereafter say you had entrapped their consent, and
avenge themselves for your deceit by contempt for her?"

"Ah, madam, madam, you really try my patience too far. But take my
promise, if you can hold that of value from one whom you can suspect
of deliberate deceit."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Chillingly. Bear with my rudeness. I have
been so taken by surprise, I scarcely know what I am saying. But let
us understand each other completely before we part. If your parents
withhold their consent you will communicate it to me; me only, not to
Lily. I repeat I know nothing of the state of her affections. But it
might embitter any girl's life to be led on to love one whom she could
not marry."

"It shall be as you say. But if they do consent?"

"Then you will speak to me before you seek an interview with Lily, for
then comes another question: Will her guardian consent?--and--and--"

"And what?"

"No matter. I rely on your honour in this request, as in all else.
Good-day."

She turned back with hurried footsteps, muttering to herself, "But
they will not consent. Heaven grant that they will not consent, or if
they do, what--what is to be said or done? Oh, that Walter Melville
were here, or that I knew where to write to him!"

On his way back to Cromwell Lodge, Kenelm was overtaken by the vicar.

"I was coming to you, my dear Mr. Chillingly, first to thank you for
the very pretty present with which you have gladdened the heart of my
little Clemmy, and next to ask you to come with me quietly to-day to
meet Mr. -----, the celebrated antiquarian, who came to Moleswich this
morning at my request to examine that old Gothic tomb in our
churchyard. Only think, though he cannot read the inscription any
better than we can, he knows all about its history. It seems that a
young knight renowned for feats of valour in the reign of Henry IV.
married a daughter of one of those great Earls of Montfichet who were
then the most powerful family in these parts. He was slain in
defending the church from an assault by some disorderly rioters of the
Lollard faction; he fell on the very spot where the tomb is now
placed. That accounts for its situation in the churchyard, not within
the fabric. Mr. ----- discovered this fact in an old memoir of the
ancient and once famous family to which the young knight Albert
belonged, and which came, alas! to so shameful an end, the Fletwodes,
Barons of Fletwode and Malpas. What a triumph over pretty Lily
Mordaunt, who always chose to imagine that the tomb must be that of
some heroine of her own romantic invention! Do come to dinner; Mr.
----- is a most agreeable man, and full of interesting anecdotes."

"I am so sorry I cannot. I am obliged to return home at once for a
few days. That old family of Fletwode! I think I see before me,
while we speak, the gray tower in which they once held sway; and the
last of the race following Mammon along the Progress of the Age,--a
convicted felon! What a terrible satire on the pride of birth!"

Kenelm left Cromwell Lodge that evening, but he still kept on his
apartments there, saying he might be back unexpectedly any day in the
course of the next week.

He remained two days in London, wishing all that he had communicated
to Sir Peter in writing to sink into his father's heart before a
personal appeal to it.

The more he revolved the ungracious manner in which Mrs. Cameron had
received his confidence, the less importance he attached to it. An
exaggerated sense of disparities of fortune in a person who appeared
to him to have the pride so common to those who have known better
days, coupled with a nervous apprehension lest his family should
ascribe to her any attempt to ensnare a very young man of considerable
worldly pretensions into a marriage with a penniless niece, seemed to
account for much that had at first perplexed and angered him. And if,
as he conjectured, Mrs. Cameron had once held a much higher position
in the world than she did now,--a conjecture warranted by a certain
peculiar conventional undeniable elegance which characterized her
habitual manner,--and was now, as she implied, actually a dependant on
the bounty of a painter who had only just acquired some professional
distinction, she might well shrink from the mortification of becoming
an object of compassion to her richer neighbours; nor, when he came to
think of it, had he any more right than those neighbours to any
confidence as to her own or Lily's parentage, so long as he was not
formally entitled to claim admission into her privity.

London seemed to him intolerably dull and wearisome. He called
nowhere except at Lady Glenalvon's; he was glad to hear from the
servants that she was still at Exmundham. He relied much on the
influence of the queen of the fashion with his mother, whom he knew
would be more difficult to persuade than Sir Peter, nor did he doubt
that he should win to his side that sympathizing and warm-hearted
queen.



CHAPTER VII.

IT is somewhere about three weeks since the party invited by Sir Peter
and Lady Chillingly assembled at Exmundham, and they are still there,
though people invited to a country house have seldom compassion enough
for the dulness of its owner to stay more than three days. Mr.
Chillingly Mivers, indeed, had not exceeded that orthodox limit.
Quietly observant, during his stay, of young Gordon's manner towards
Cecilia, and hers towards him, he had satisfied himself that there was
no cause to alarm Sir Peter, or induce the worthy baronet to regret
the invitation he had given to that clever kinsman. For all the
visitors remaining Exmundham had a charm.

To Lady Glenalvon, because in the hostess she met her most familiar
friend when both were young girls, and because it pleased her to note
the interest which Cecilia Travers took in the place so associated
with memories of the man to whom it was Lady Glenalvon's hope to see
her united. To Chillingly Gordon, because no opportunity could be so
favourable for his own well-concealed designs on the hand and heart of
the heiress. To the heiress herself the charm needs no explanation.

To Leopold Travers the attractions of Exmundham were unquestionably
less fascinating. Still even he was well pleased to prolong his stay.
His active mind found amusement in wandering over an estate the
acreage of which would have warranted a much larger rental, and
lecturing Sir Peter on the old-fashioned system of husbandry which
that good-natured easy proprietor permitted his tenants to adopt, as
well as on the number of superfluous hands that were employed on the
pleasure-grounds and in the general management of the estate, such as
carpenters, sawyers, woodmen, bricklayers, and smiths.

When the Squire said, "You could do just as well with a third of those
costly dependants," Sir Peter, unconsciously plagiarizing the answer
of the old French grand seigneur, replied, "Very likely. But the
question is, could the rest do just as well without me?"

Exmundham, indeed, was a very expensive place to keep up. The house,
built by some ambitious Chillingly three centuries ago, would have
been large for an owner of thrice the revenues; and though the
flower-garden was smaller than that at Braefieldville, there were
paths and drives through miles of young plantations and old woodlands
that furnished lazy occupation to an army of labourers. No wonder
that, despite his nominal ten thousand a year, Sir Peter was far from
being a rich man. Exmundham devoured at least half the rental. The
active mind of Leopold Travers also found ample occupation in the
stores of his host's extensive library.

Travers, never much of a reader, was by no means a despiser of
learning, and he soon took to historical and archaeological researches
with the ardour of a man who must always throw energy into any pursuit
that occasion presents as an escape from indolence. Indolent Leopold
Travers never could be. But, more than either of these resources of
occupation, the companionship of Chillingly Gordon excited his
interest and quickened the current of his thoughts. Always fond of
renewing his own youth in the society of the young, and of the
sympathizing temperament which belongs to cordial natures, he had, as
we have seen, entered very heartily into the ambition of George
Belvoir, and reconciled himself very pliably to the humours of Kenelm
Chillingly. But the first of these two was a little too commonplace,
the second a little too eccentric, to enlist the complete
good-fellowship which, being alike very clever and very practical,
Leopold Travers established with that very clever and very practical
representative of the rising generation, Chillingly Gordon. Between
them there was this meeting-ground, political and worldly, a great
contempt for innocuous old-fashioned notions; added to which, in the
mind of Leopold Travers, was a contempt--which would have been
complete, but that the contempt admitted dread--of harmful
new-fashioned notions which, interpreted by his thoughts, threatened
ruin to his country and downfall to the follies of existent society,
and which, interpreted by his language, tamed itself into the man of
the world's phrase, "Going too far for me." Notions which, by the
much more cultivated intellect and the immeasurably more soaring
ambition of Chillingly Gordon, might be viewed and criticised thus:
"Could I accept these doctrines? I don't see my way to being Prime
Minister of a country in which religion and capital are still powers
to be consulted. And, putting aside religion and capital, I don't see
how, if these doctrines passed into law, with a good coat on my back I
should not be a sufferer. Either I, as having a good coat, should
have it torn off my back as a capitalist, or, if I remonstrated in the
name of moral honesty, be put to death as a religionist."

Therefore when Leopold Travers said, "Of course we must go on,"
Chillingly Gordon smiled and answered, "Certainly, go on." And when
Leopold Travers added, "But we may go too far," Chillingly Gordon
shook his dead, and replied, "How true that is! Certainly too far."

Apart from the congeniality of political sentiment, there were other
points of friendly contact between the older and younger man. Each
was an exceedingly pleasant man of the world; and, though Leopold
Travers could not have plumbed certain deeps in Chillingly Gordon's
nature,--and in every man's nature there are deeps which his ablest
observer cannot fathom,--yet he was not wrong when he said to himself,
"Gordon is a gentleman."

Utterly would my readers misconceive that very clever young man, if
they held him to be a hypocrite like Blifil or Joseph Surface.
Chillingly Gordon, in every private sense of the word, was a
gentleman. If he had staked his whole fortune on a rubber at whist,
and an undetected glance at his adversary's hand would have made the
difference between loss and gain, he would have turned away his head
and said, "Hold up your cards." Neither, as I have had occasion to
explain before, was he actuated by any motive in common with the
vulgar fortune-hunter in his secret resolve to win the hand of the
heiress. He recognized no inequality of worldly gifts between them.
He said to himself, "Whatever she may give me in money, I shall amply
repay in worldly position if I succeed, and succeed I certainly shall.
If I were as rich as Lord Westminster, and still cared about being
Prime Minister, I should select her as the most fitting woman I have
seen for a Prime Minister's wife."

It must be acknowledged that this sort of self-commune, if not that of
a very ardent lover, is very much that of a sensible man setting high
value on himself, bent on achieving the prizes of a public career, and
desirous of securing in his wife a woman who would adorn the station
to which he confidently aspired. In fact, no one so able as
Chillingly Gordon would ever have conceived the ambition of being
Minister of England if in all that in private life constitutes the
English gentleman he could be fairly subject to reproach.

He was but in public life what many a gentleman honest in private life
has been before him, an ambitious, resolute egotist, by no means
without personal affections, but holding them all subordinate to the
objects of personal ambition, and with no more of other principle than
that of expediency in reference to his own career than would cover a
silver penny. But expediency in itself he deemed the statesman's only
rational principle. And to the consideration of expediency he brought
a very unprejudiced intellect, quite fitted to decide whether the
public opinion of a free and enlightened people was for turning St.
Paul's Cathedral into an Agapemone or not.

During the summer weeks he had thus vouchsafed to the turfs and groves
of Exmundham, Leopold Travers was not the only person whose good
opinion Chillingly Gordon had ingratiated. He had won the warmest
approbation from Mrs. Campion. His conversation reminded her of that
which she had enjoyed in the house of her departed spouse. In talking
with Cecilia she was fond of contrasting him to Kenelm, not to the
favour of the latter, whose humours she utterly failed to understand,
and whom she pertinaciously described as "so affected." "A most
superior young man Mr. Gordon, so well informed, so sensible,--above
all, so natural." Such was her judgment upon the unavowed candidate
to Cecilia's hand; and Mrs. Campion required no avowal to divine the
candidature. Even Lady Glenalvon had begun to take friendly interest
in the fortunes of this promising young man. Most women can
sympathize with youthful ambition. He impressed her with a deep
conviction of his abilities, and still more with respect for their
concentration upon practical objects of power and renown. She too,
like Mrs. Campion, began to draw comparisons unfavourable to Kenelm
between the two cousins: the one seemed so slothfully determined to
hide his candle under a bushel, the other so honestly disposed to set
his light before men. She felt also annoyed and angry that Kenelm was
thus absenting himself from the paternal home at the very time of her
first visit to it, and when he had so felicitous an opportunity of
seeing more of the girl in whom he knew that Lady Glenalvon deemed he
might win, if he would properly woo, the wife that would best suit
him. So that when one day Mrs. Campion, walking through the gardens
alone with Lady Glenalvon while from the gardens into the park went
Chillingly Gordon, arm-in-arm with Leopold Travers, abruptly asked,
"Don't you think that Mr. Gordon is smitten with Cecilia, though he,
with his moderate fortune, does not dare to say so? And don't you
think that any girl, if she were as rich as Cecilia will be, would be
more proud of such a husband as Chillingly Gordon than of some silly
earl?"

Lady Glenalvon answered curtly, but somewhat sorrowfully, "Yes."

After a pause she added, "There is a man with whom I did once think
she would have been happier than with any other. One man who ought to
be dearer to me than Mr. Gordon, for he saved the life of my son, and
who, though perhaps less clever than Mr. Gordon, still has a great
deal of talent within him, which might come forth and make him--what
shall I say?--a useful and distinguished member of society, if married
to a girl so sure of raising any man she marries as Cecilia Travers.
But if I am to renounce that hope, and look through the range of young
men brought under my notice, I don't know one, putting aside
consideration of rank and fortune, I should prefer for a clever
daughter who went heart and soul with the ambition of a clever man.
But, Mrs. Campion, I have not yet quite renounced my hope; and, unless
I do, I yet think there is one man to whom I would rather give
Cecilia, if she were my daughter."

Therewith Lady Glenalvon so decidedly broke off the subject of
conversation that Mrs. Campion could not have renewed it without such
a breach of the female etiquette of good breeding as Mrs. Campion was
the last person to adventure.

Lady Chillingly could not help being pleased with Gordon. He was
light in hand, served to amuse her guests, and made up a rubber of
whist in case of need.

There were two persons, however, with whom Gordon made no ground;
namely, Parson John and Sir Peter. When Travers praised him one day
for the solidity of his parts and the soundness of his judgment, the
Parson replied snappishly, "Yes, solid and sound as one of those
tables you buy at a broker's; the thickness of the varnish hides the
defects in the joints: the whole framework is rickety." But when the
Parson was indignantly urged to state the reason by which he arrived
at so harsh a conclusion, he could only reply by an assertion which
seemed to his questioner a declamatory burst of parsonic intolerance.

"Because," said Parson John, "he has no love for man, and no reverence
for God. And no character is sound and solid which enlarges its
surface at the expense of its supports."

On the other hand, the favour with which Sir Peter had at first
regarded Gordon gradually vanished, in proportion as, acting on the
hint Mivers had originally thrown out but did not deem it necessary to
repeat, he watched the pains which the young man took to insinuate
himself into the good graces of Mr. Travers and Mrs. Campion, and the
artful and half-suppressed gallantry of his manner to the heiress.

Perhaps Gordon had not ventured thus "to feel his way" till after
Mivers had departed; or perhaps Sir Peter's parental anxiety rendered
him, in this instance, a shrewder observer than was the man of the
world, whose natural acuteness was, in matters of affection, not
unfrequently rendered languid by his acquired philosophy of
indifferentism.

More and more every day, every hour, of her sojourn beneath his roof,
did Cecilia become dearer to Sir Peter, and stronger and stronger
became his wish to secure her for his daughter-in-law. He was
inexpressibly flattered by her preference for his company: ever at
hand to share his customary walks, his kindly visits to the cottages
of peasants or the homesteads of petty tenants; wherein both were sure
to hear many a simple anecdote of Master Kenelm in his childhood,
anecdotes of whim or good-nature, of considerate pity or reckless
courage.

Throughout all these varieties of thought or feeling in the social
circle around her, Lady Chillingly preserved the unmoved calm of her
dignified position. A very good woman certainly, and very ladylike.
No one could detect a flaw in her character, or a fold awry in her
flounce. She was only, like the gods of Epicurus, too good to trouble
her serene existence with the cares of us simple mortals. Not that
she was without a placid satisfaction in the tribute which the world
laid upon her altars; nor was she so supremely goddess-like as to soar
above the household affections which humanity entails on the dwellers
and denizens of earth. She liked her husband as much as most elderly
wives like their elderly husbands. She bestowed upon Kenelm a liking
somewhat more warm, and mingled with compassion. His eccentricities
would have puzzled her, if she had allowed herself to be puzzled: it
troubled her less to pity them. She did not share her husband's
desire for his union with Cecilia. She thought that her son would
have a higher place in the county if he married Lady Jane, the Duke of
Clanville's daughter; and "that is what he ought to do," said Lady
Chillingly to herself. She entertained none of the fear that had
induced Sir Peter to extract from Kenelm the promise not to pledge his
hand before he had received his father's consent. That the son of
Lady Chillingly should make a _mesalliance_, however crotchety he
might be in other respects, was a thought that it would have so
disturbed her to admit that she did not admit it.

Such was the condition of things at Exmundham when the lengthy
communication of Kenelm reached Sir Peter's hands.



BOOK VIII.



CHAPTER I.

NEVER in his whole life had the mind of Sir Peter been so agitated as
it was during and after the perusal of Kenelm's flighty composition.
He had received it at the breakfast-table, and, opening it eagerly,
ran his eye hastily over the contents, till he very soon arrived at
sentences which appalled him. Lady Chillingly, who was fortunately
busied at the tea-urn, did not observe the dismay on his countenance.
It was visible only to Cecilia and to Gordon. Neither guessed who
that letter was from.

"No bad news, I hope," said Cecilia, softly.

"Bad news," echoed Sir Peter. "No, my dear, no; a letter on business.
It seems terribly long," and he thrust the packet into his pocket,
muttering, "see to it by and by."

"That slovenly farmer of yours, Mr. Nostock, has failed, I suppose,"
said Mr. Travers, looking up and observing a quiver on his host's lip.
"I told you he would,--a fine farm too. Let me choose you another
tenant."

Sir Peter shook his head with a wan smile.

"Nostock will not fail. There have been six generations of Nostocks
on the farm."

"So I should guess," said Travers, dryly.

"And--and," faltered Sir Peter, "if the last of the race fails, he
must lean upon me, and--if one of the two break down--it shall not
be--"

"Shall not be that cross-cropping blockhead, my dear Sir Peter. This
is carrying benevolence too far."

Here the tact and _savoir vivre_ of Chillingly Gordon came to the
rescue of the host. Possessing himself of the "Times" newspaper, he
uttered an exclamation of surprise, genuine or simulated, and read
aloud an extract from the leading article, announcing an impending
change in the Cabinet.

As soon as he could quit the breakfast-table, Sir Peter hurried into
his library and there gave himself up to the study of Kenelm's
unwelcome communication. The task took him long, for he stopped at
intervals, overcome by the struggle of his heart, now melted into
sympathy with the passionate eloquence of a son hitherto so free from
amorous romance, and now sorrowing for the ruin of his own cherished
hopes. This uneducated country girl would never be such a helpmate to
a man like Kenelm as would have been Cecilia Travers. At length,
having finished the letter, he buried his head between his clasped
hands, and tried hard to realize the situation that placed the father
and son into such direct antagonism.

"But," he murmured, "after all it is the boy's happiness that must be
consulted. If he will not be happy in my way, what right have I to
say that he shall not be happy in his?"

Just then Cecilia came softly into the room. She had acquired the
privilege of entering his library at will; sometimes to choose a book
of his recommendation, sometimes to direct and seal his letters,--Sir
Peter was grateful to any one who saved him an extra trouble,--and
sometimes, especially at this hour, to decoy him forth into his wonted
constitutional walk.

He lifted his face at the sound of her approaching tread and her
winning voice, and the face was so sad that the tears rushed to her
eyes on seeing it. She laid her hand on his shoulder, and said
pleadingly, "Dear Sir Peter, what is it,--what is it?"

"Ah--ah, my dear," said Sir Peter, gathering up the scattered sheets
of Kenelm's effusion with hurried, trembling hands. "Don't
ask,--don't talk of it; 'tis but one of the disappointments that all
of us must undergo, when we invest our hopes in the uncertain will of
others."

Then, observing that the tears were trickling down the girl's fair,
pale cheeks, he took her hand in both his, kissed her forehead, and
said, whisperingly, "Pretty one, how good you have been to me! Heaven
bless you. What a wife you will be to some man!"

Thus saying, he shambled out of the room through the open casement.
She followed him impulsively, wonderingly; but before she reached his
side he turned round, waved his hand with a gently repelling gesture,
and went his way alone through dense fir-groves which had been planted
in honour of Kenelm's birth.



CHAPTER II.

KENELM arrived at Exmundham just in time to dress for dinner.
His arrival was not unexpected, for the morning after his father
had received his communication, Sir Peter had said to Lady
Chillingly--"that he had heard from Kenelm to the effect that he might
be down any day."

"Quite time he should come," said Lady Chillingly. "Have you his
letter about you?"

"No, my dear Caroline. Of course he sends you his kindest love, poor
fellow."

"Why poor fellow? Has he been ill?"

"No; but there seems to be something on his mind. If so we must do
what we can to relieve it. He is the best of sons, Caroline."

"I am sure I have nothing to say against him, except," added her
Ladyship, reflectively, "that I do wish he were a little more like
other young men."

"Hum--like Chillingly Gordon, for instance?"

"Well, yes; Mr. Gordon is a remarkably well-bred, sensible young man.
How different from that disagreeable, bearish father of his, who went
to law with you!"

"Very different indeed, but with just as much of the Chillingly blood
in him. How the Chillinglys ever gave birth to a Kenelm is a question
much more puzzling."

"Oh, my dear Sir Peter, don't be metaphysical. You know how I hate
puzzles."

"And yet, Caroline, I have to thank you for a puzzle which I can never
interpret by my brain. There are a great many puzzles in human nature
which can only be interpreted by the heart."

"Very true," said Lady Chillingly. "I suppose Kenelm is to have his
old room, just opposite to Mr. Gordon's."

"Ay--ay, just opposite. Opposite they will be all their lives. Only
think, Caroline, I have made a discovery!"

"Dear me! I hope not. Your discoveries are generally very expensive,
and bring us in contact with such very odd people."

"This discovery shall not cost us a penny, and I don't know any people
so odd as not to comprehend it. Briefly it is this: To genius the
first requisite is heart; it is no requisite at all to talent. My
dear Caroline, Gordon has as much talent as any young man I know, but
he wants the first requisite of genius. I am not by any means sure
that Kenelm has genius, but there is no doubt that he has the first
requisite of genius,--heart. Heart is a very perplexing, wayward,
irrational thing; and that perhaps accounts for the general incapacity
to comprehend genius, while any fool can comprehend talent. My dear
Caroline, you know that it is very seldom, not more than once in three
years, that I presume to have a will of my own against a will of
yours; but should there come a question in which our son's heart is
concerned, then (speaking between ourselves) my will must govern
yours."

"Sir Peter is growing more odd every day," said Lady Chillingly to
herself when left alone. "But he does not mean ill, and there are
worse husbands in the world."

Therewith she rang for her maid, gave requisite orders for the
preparing of Kenelm's room, which had not been slept in for many
months, and then consulted that functionary as to the adaptation of
some dress of hers, too costly to be laid aside, to the style of some
dress less costly which Lady Glenalvon had imported from Paris as _la
derniere mode_.

On the very day on which Kenelm arrived at Exmundham, Chillingly
Gordon had received this letter from Mr. Gerald Danvers.


DEAR GORDON,--In the ministerial changes announced as rumour in the
public papers, and which you may accept as certain, that sweet little
cherub--is to be sent to sit up aloft and pray there for the life of
poor Jack; namely, of the government he leaves below. In accepting
the peerage, which I persuaded him to do,--creates a vacancy for the
borough of -----, just the place for you, far better in every way than
Saxborough. ----- promises to recommend you to his committee. Come to
town at once. Yours, etc.

   G. DANVERS.


Gordon showed this letter to Mr. Travers, and, on receiving the hearty
good-wishes of that gentleman, said, with emotion partly genuine,
partly assumed, "You cannot guess all that the realization of your
good-wishes would be. Once in the House of Commons, and my motives
for action are so strong that--do not think me very conceited if I
count upon Parliamentary success."

"My clear Gordon, I am as certain of your success as I am of my own
existence."

"Should I succeed,--should the great prizes of public life be within
my reach,--should I lift myself into a position that would warrant my
presumption, do you think I could come to you and say, 'There is an
object of ambition dearer to me than power and office,--the hope of
attaining which was the strongest of all my motives of action? And in
that hope shall I also have the good-wishes of the father of Cecilia
Travers?"

"My dear fellow, give me your hand; you speak manfully and candidly as
a gentleman should speak. I answer in the same spirit. I don't
pretend to say that I have not entertained views for Cecilia which
included hereditary rank and established fortune in a suitor to her
hand, though I never should have made them imperative conditions. I
am neither potentate nor _parvenu_ enough for that; and I can never
forget" (here every muscle in the man's face twitched) "that I myself
married for love, and was so happy. How happy Heaven only knows!
Still, if you had thus spoken a few weeks ago, I should not have
replied very favourably to your question. But now that I have seen so
much of you, my answer is this: If you lose your election,--if you
don't come into Parliament at all, you have my good-wishes all the
same. If you win my daughter's heart, there is no man on whom I would
more willingly bestow her hand. There she is, by herself too, in the
garden. Go and talk to her."

Gordon hesitated. He knew too well that he had not won her heart,
though he had no suspicion that it was given to another. And he was
much too clever not to know also how much he hazards who, in affairs
of courtship, is premature.

"Ah!" he said, "I cannot express my gratitude for words so generous,
encouragement so cheering. But I have never yet dared to utter to
Miss Travers a word that would prepare her even to harbour a thought
of me as a suitor. And I scarcely think I should have the courage to
go through this election with the grief of her rejection on my heart."

"Well, go in and win the election first; meanwhile, at all events,
take leave of Cecilia."

Gordon left his friend, and joined Miss Travers, resolved not indeed
to risk a formal declaration, but to sound his way to his chances of
acceptance.

The interview was very brief. He did sound his way skilfully, and
felt it very unsafe for his footsteps. The advantage of having gained
the approval of the father was too great to be lost altogether, by one
of those decided answers on the part of the daughter which allow of no
appeal, especially to a poor gentleman who wooes an heiress.

He returned to Travers, and said simply, "I bear with me her
good-wishes as well as yours. That is all. I leave myself in your
kind hands."

Then he hurried away to take leave of his host and hostess, say a few
significant words to the ally he had already gained in Mrs. Campion,
and within an hour was on his road to London, passing on his way the
train that bore Kenelm to Exmundham. Gordon was in high spirits. At
least he felt as certain of winning Cecilia as he did of winning his
election.

"I have never yet failed in what I desired," said he to himself,
"because I have ever taken pains not to fail."

The cause of Gordon's sudden departure created a great excitement in
that quiet circle, shared by all except Cecilia and Sir Peter.



CHAPTER III.

KENELM did not see either father or mother till he appeared at dinner.
Then he was seated next to Cecilia. There was but little conversation
between the two; in fact, the prevalent subject of talk was general
and engrossing, the interest in Chillingly Gordon's election;
predictions of his success, of what he would do in Parliament.
"Where," said Lady Glenalvon, "there is such a dearth of rising young
men, that if he were only half as clever as he is he would be a gain."

"A gain to what?" asked Sir Peter, testily. "To his country? about
which I don't believe he cares a brass button."

To this assertion Leopold Travers replied warmly, and was not less
warmly backed by Mrs. Campion.

"For my part," said Lady Glenalvon, in conciliatory accents, "I think
every able man in Parliament is a gain to the country; and he may not
serve his country less effectively because he does not boast of his
love for it. The politicians I dread most are those so rampant in
France nowadays, the bawling patriots. When Sir Robert Walpole said,
'All those men have their price,' he pointed to the men who called
themselves 'patriots.'"

"Bravo!" cried Travers.

"Sir Robert Walpole showed his love for his country by corrupting it.
There are many ways besides bribing for corrupting a country," said
Kenelm, mildly, and that was Kenelm's sole contribution to the general
conversation.

It was not till the rest of the party had retired to rest that the
conference, longed for by Kenelm, dreaded by Sir Peter, took place in
the library. It lasted deep into the night; both parted with
lightened hearts and a fonder affection for each other. Kenelm had
drawn so charming a picture of the Fairy, and so thoroughly convinced
Sir Peter that his own feelings towards her were those of no passing
youthful fancy, but of that love which has its roots in the innermost
heart, that though it was still with a sigh, a deep sigh, that he
dismissed the thought of Cecilia, Sir Peter did dismiss it; and,
taking comfort at last from the positive assurance that Lily was of
gentle birth, and the fact that her name of Mordaunt was that of
ancient and illustrious houses, said, with half a smile, "It might
have been worse, my dear boy. I began to be afraid that, in spite of
the teachings of Mivers and Welby, it was 'The Miller's Daughter,'
after all. But we still have a difficult task to persuade your poor
mother. In covering your first flight from our roof I unluckily put
into her head the notion of Lady Jane, a duke's daughter, and the
notion has never got out of it. That comes of fibbing."

"I count on Lady Glenalvon's influence on my mother in support of your
own," said Kenelm. "If so accepted an oracle in the great world
pronounce in my favour, and promise to present my wife at Court and
bring her into fashion, I think that my mother will consent to allow
us to reset the old family diamonds for her next reappearance in
London. And then, too, you can tell her that I will stand for the
county. I will go into Parliament, and if I meet there our clever
cousin, and find that he does not care a brass button for the country,
take my word for it, I will lick him more easily than I licked Tom
Bowles."

"Tom Bowles! who is he?--ah! I remember some letter of yours in which
you spoke of a Bowles, whose favourite study was mankind, a moral
philosopher."

"Moral philosophers," answered Kenelm, "have so muddled their brains
with the alcohol of new ideas that their moral legs have become shaky,
and the humane would rather help them to bed than give them a licking.
My Tom Bowles is a muscular Christian, who became no less muscular,
but much more Christian, after he was licked."

And in this pleasant manner these two oddities settled their
conference, and went up to bed with arms wrapped round each other's
shoulder.



CHAPTER IV.

KENELM found it a much harder matter to win Lady Glenalvon to his side
than he had anticipated. With the strong interest she had taken in
Kenelm's future, she could not but revolt from the idea of his union
with an obscure portionless girl whom he had only known a few weeks,
and of whose very parentage he seemed to know nothing, save an
assurance that she was his equal in birth. And, with the desire,
which she had cherished almost as fondly as Sir Peter, that Kenelm
might win a bride in every way so worthy of his choice as Cecilia
Travers, she felt not less indignant than regretful at the overthrow
of her plans.

At first, indeed, she was so provoked that she would not listen to his
pleadings. She broke away from him with a rudeness she had never
exhibited to any one before, refused to grant him another interview in
order to re-discuss the matter, and said that, so far from using her
influence in favour of his romantic folly, she would remonstrate well
with Lady Chillingly and Sir Peter against yielding their assent to
his "thus throwing himself away."

It was not till the third day after his arrival that, touched by the
grave but haughty mournfulness of his countenance, she yielded to the
arguments of Sir Peter in the course of a private conversation with
that worthy baronet. Still it was reluctantly (she did not fulfil her
threat of remonstrance with Lady Chillingly) that she conceded the
point, that a son who, succeeding to the absolute fee-simple of an
estate, had volunteered the resettlement of it on terms singularly
generous to both his parents, was entitled to some sacrifice of their
inclinations on a question in which he deemed his happiness vitally
concerned; and that he was of age to choose for himself independently
of their consent, but for a previous promise extracted from him by his
father, a promise which, rigidly construed, was not extended to Lady
Chillingly, but confined to Sir Peter as the head of the family and
master of the household. The father's consent was already given, and,
if in his reverence for both parents Kenelm could not dispense with
his mother's approval, surely it was the part of a true friend to
remove every scruple from his conscience, and smooth away every
obstacle to a love not to be condemned because it was disinterested.

After this conversation, Lady Glenalvon sought Kenelm, found him
gloomily musing on the banks of the trout-stream, took his arm, led
him into the sombre glades of the fir-grove, and listened patiently to
all he had to say. Even then her woman's heart was not won to his
reasonings, until he said pathetically, "You thanked me once for
saving your son's life: you said then that you could never repay me;
you can repay me tenfold. Could your son, who is now, we trust, in
heaven, look down and judge between us, do you think he would approve
you if you refuse?"

Then Lady Glenalvon wept, and took his hand, kissed his forehead as a
mother might kiss it, and said, "You triumph; I will go to Lady
Chillingly at once. Marry her whom you so love, on one condition:
marry her from my house."

Lady Glenalvon was not one of those women who serve a friend by
halves. She knew well how to propitiate and reason down the apathetic
temperament of Lady Chillingly; she did not cease till that lady
herself came into Kenelm's room, and said very quietly,--

"So you are going to propose to Miss Mordaunt, the Warwickshire
Mordaunts I suppose? Lady Glenalvon says she is a very lovely girl,
and will stay with her before the wedding. And as the young lady is
an orphan Lady Glenalvon's uncle the Duke, who is connected with the
eldest branch of the Mordaunts, will give her away. It will be a very
brilliant affair. I am sure I wish you happy; it is time you should
have sown your wild oats."

Two days after the consent thus formally given, Kenelm quitted
Exmundham. Sir Peter would have accompanied him to pay his respects
to the intended, but the agitation he had gone through brought on a
sharp twinge of the gout, which consigned his feet to flannels.

After Kenelm had gone, Lady Glenalvon went into Cecilia's room.
Cecilia was seated very desolately by the open window. She had
detected that something of an anxious and painful nature had been
weighing upon the minds of father and son, and had connected it with
the letter which had so disturbed the even mind of Sir Peter; but she
did not divine what the something was, and if mortified by a certain
reserve, more distant than heretofore, which had characterized
Kenelm's manner towards herself, the mortification was less sensibly
felt than a tender sympathy for the sadness she had observed on his
face and yearned to soothe. His reserve had, however, made her own
manner more reserved than of old, for which she was now rather chiding
herself than reproaching him.

Lady Glenalvon put her arms round Cecilia's neck and kissed her,
whispering, "That man has so disappointed me: he is so unworthy of the
happiness I had once hoped for him!"

"Whom do you speak of?" murmured Cecilia, turning very pale.

"Kenelm Chillingly. It seems that he has conceived a fancy for some
penniless girl whom he has met in his wanderings, has come here to get
the consent of his parents to propose to her, has obtained their
consent, and is gone to propose."

Cecilia remained silent for a moment with her eyes closed, then she
said, "He is worthy of all happiness, and he would never make an
unworthy choice. Heaven bless him--and--and--" She would have added,
"his bride," but her lips refused to utter the word bride.

"Cousin Gordon is worth ten of him," cried Lady Glenalvon,
indignantly.

She had served Kenelm, but she had not forgiven him.



CHAPTER V.

KENELM slept in London that night, and, the next day, being singularly
fine for an English summer, he resolved to go to Moleswich on foot.
He had no need this time to encumber himself with a knapsack; he had
left sufficient change of dress in his lodgings at Cromwell Lodge.

It was towards the evening when he found himself in one of the
prettiest rural villages by which


   "Wanders the hoary Thames along
   His silver-winding way."


It was not in the direct road from London to Moleswich, but it was a
pleasanter way for a pedestrian. And when, quitting the long street
of the sultry village, he came to the shelving margin of the river, he
was glad to rest a while, enjoy the cool of the rippling waters, and
listen to their placid murmurs amid the rushes in the bordering
shallows. He had ample time before him. His rambles while at
Cromwell Lodge had made him familiar with the district for miles round
Moleswich, and he knew that a footpath through the fields at the right
would lead him, in less than an hour, to the side of the tributary
brook on which Cromwell Lodge was placed, opposite the wooden bridge
which conducted to Grasmere and Moleswich.

To one who loves the romance of history, English history, the whole
course of the Thames is full of charm. Ah! could I go back to the
days in which younger generations than that of Kenelm Chillingly were
unborn, when every wave of the Rhine spoke of history and romance to
me, what fairies should meet on thy banks, O thou our own Father
Thames! Perhaps some day a German pilgrim may repay tenfold to thee
the tribute rendered by the English kinsman to the Father Rhine.

Listening to the whispers of the reeds, Kenelm Chillingly felt the
haunting influence of the legendary stream. Many a poetic incident or
tradition in antique chronicle, many a votive rhyme in song, dear to
forefathers whose very names have become a poetry to us, thronged
dimly and confusedly back to his memory, which had little cared to
retain such graceful trinkets in the treasure-house of love. But
everything that, from childhood upward, connects itself with romance,
revives with yet fresher bloom in the memories of him who loves.

And to this man, through the first perilous season of youth, so
abnormally safe from youth's most wonted peril,--to this would-be
pupil of realism, this learned adept in the schools of a Welby or a
Mivers,--to this man, love came at last as with the fatal powers of
the fabled Cytherea; and with that love all the realisms of life
became ideals, all the stern lines of our commonplace destinies
undulated into curves of beauty, all the trite sounds of our every-day
life attuned into delicacies of song. How full of sanguine yet dreamy
bliss was his heart--and seemed his future--in the gentle breeze and
the softened glow of that summer eve! He should see Lily the next
morn, and his lips were now free to say all that they had as yet
suppressed.

Suddenly he was roused from the half-awake, half-asleep happiness that
belongs to the moments in which we transport ourselves into Elysium,
by the carol of a voice more loudly joyous than that of his own
heart--


        "Singing, singing,
   Lustily singing,
   Down the road, with his dogs before,
   Came the Ritter of Nierestein."


Kenelm turned his head so quickly that he frightened Max, who had for
the last minute been standing behind him inquisitively with one paw
raised, and sniffing, in some doubt whether he recognized an old
acquaintance; but at Kenelm's quick movement the animal broke into a
nervous bark, and ran back to his master.

The minstrel, little heeding the figure reclined on the bank, would
have passed on with his light tread and his cheery carol, but Kenelm
rose to his feet, and holding out his hand, said, "I hope you don't
share Max's alarm at meeting me again?"

"Ah, my young philosopher, is it indeed you?"

"If I am to be designated a philosopher it is certainly not I. And,
honestly speaking, I am not the same. I, who spent that pleasant day
with you among the fields round Luscombe two years ago--"

"Or who advised me at Tor Hadham to string my lyre to the praise of a
beefsteak. I, too, am not quite the same,--I, whose dog presented you
with the begging-tray."

"Yet you still go through the world singing."

"Even that vagrant singing time is pretty well over. But I disturbed
you from your repose; I would rather share it. You are probably not
going my way, and as I am in no hurry, I should not like to lose the
opportunity chance has so happily given me of renewing acquaintance
with one who has often been present to my thoughts since we last met."
Thus saying, the minstrel stretched himself at ease on the bank, and
Kenelm followed his example.

There certainly was a change in the owner of the dog with the
begging-tray, a change in costume, in countenance, in that
indescribable self-evidence which we call "manner." The costume was
not that Bohemian attire in which Kenelm had first encountered the
wandering minstrel, nor the studied, more graceful garb, which so well
became his shapely form during his visit to Luscombe. It was now
neatly simple, the cool and quiet summer dress any English gentleman
might adopt in a long rural walk. And as he uncovered his head to
court the cooling breeze, there was a graver dignity in the man's
handsome Rubens-like face, a line of more concentrated thought in the
spacious forehead, a thread or two of gray shimmering here and there
through the thick auburn curls of hair and beard. And in his manner,
though still very frank, there was just perceptible a sort of
self-assertion, not offensive, but manly; such as does not misbecome
one of maturer years, and of some established position, addressing
another man much younger than himself, who in all probability has
achieved no position at all beyond that which the accident of birth
might assign to him.

"Yes," said the minstrel, with a half-suppressed sigh, "the last year
of my vagrant holidays has come to its close. I recollect that the
first day we met by the road-side fountain, I advised you to do like
me, seek amusement and adventure as a foot-traveller. Now, seeing
you, evidently a gentleman by education and birth, still a
foot-traveller, I feel as if I ought to say, 'You have had enough of
such experience: vagabond life has its perils as well as charms; cease
it, and settle down.'"

"I think of doing so," replied Kenelm, laconically.

"In a profession?--army, law, medicine?"

"No."

"Ah, in marriage then. Right; give me your hand on that. So a
petticoat indeed has at last found its charm for you in the actual
world as well as on the canvas of a picture?"

"I conclude," said Kenelm, evading any direct notice of that playful
taunt, "I conclude from your remark that it is in marriage _you_ are
about to settle down."

"Ay, could I have done so before I should have been saved from many
errors, and been many years nearer to the goal which dazzled my sight
through the haze of my boyish dreams."

"What is that goal,--the grave?"

"The grave! That which allows of no grave,--fame."

"I see--despite of what you just now said--you still mean to go
through the world seeking a poet's fame."

"Alas! I resign that fancy," said the minstrel, with another
half-sigh. "It was not indeed wholly, but in great part the hope
of the poet's fame that made me a truant in the way to that which
destiny, and such few gifts as Nature conceded to me, marked
out for my proper and only goal. But what a strange, delusive
Will-o'-the-Wisp the love of verse-making is! How rarely a man of
good sense deceives himself as to other things for which he is fitted,
in which he can succeed; but let him once drink into his being the
charm of verse-making, how the glamour of the charm bewitches his
understanding! how long it is before he can believe that the world
will not take his word for it, when he cries out to sun, moon, and
stars, 'I, too, am a poet.' And with what agonies, as if at the wrench
of soul from life, he resigns himself at last to the conviction that
whether he or the world be right, it comes to the same thing. Who can
plead his cause before a court that will not give him a hearing?"

It was with an emotion so passionately strong, and so intensely
painful, that the owner of the dog with the begging-tray thus spoke,
that Kenelm felt, through sympathy, as if he himself were torn asunder
by the wrench of life from soul. But then Kenelm was a mortal so
eccentric that, if a single acute suffering endured by a fellow mortal
could be brought before the evidence of his senses, I doubt whether he
would not have suffered as much as that fellow-mortal. So that,
though if there were a thing in the world which Kenelm Chillingly
would care not to do, it was verse-making, his mind involuntarily
hastened to the arguments by which he could best mitigate the pang of
the verse-maker.

Quoth he: "According to my very scanty reading, you share the love of
verse-making with men the most illustrious in careers which have
achieved the goal of fame. It must, then, be a very noble love:
Augustus, Pollio, Varius, Maecenas,--the greatest statesmen of their
day,--they were verse-makers. Cardinal Richelieu was a verse-maker;
Walter Raleigh and Philip Sidney, Fox, Burke, Sheridan, Warren
Hastings, Canning, even the grave William Pitt,--all were
verse-makers. Verse-making did not retard--no doubt the qualities
essential to verse-making accelerated--their race to the goal of fame.
What great painters have been verse-makers! Michael Angelo, Leonardo
da Vinci, Salvator Rosa"--and Heaven knows how may other great names
Kenelm Chillingly might have proceeded to add to his list, if the
minstrel had not here interposed.

"What! all those mighty painters were verse-makers?"

"Verse-makers so good, especially Michael Angelo,--the greatest
painter of all,--that they would have had the fame of poets, if,
unfortunately for that goal of fame, their glory in the sister art of
painting did not outshine it. But when you give to your gift of song
the modest title of verse-making, permit me to observe that your gift
is perfectly distinct from that of the verse-maker. Your gift,
whatever it may be, could not exist without some sympathy with the non
verse-making human heart. No doubt in your foot travels, you have
acquired not only observant intimacy with external Nature in the
shifting hues at each hour of a distant mountain, in the lengthening
shadows which yon sunset casts on the waters at our feet, in the
habits of the thrush dropped fearlessly close beside me, in that turf
moistened by its neighbourhood to those dripping rushes, all of which
I could describe no less accurately than you,--as a Peter Bell might
describe them no less accurately than a William Wordsworth. But in
such songs of yours as you have permitted me to hear, you seem to have
escaped out of that elementary accidence of the poet's art, and to
touch, no matter how slightly, on the only lasting interest which the
universal heart of man can have in the song of the poet; namely, in
the sound which the poet's individual sympathy draws forth from the
latent chords in that universal heart. As for what you call 'the
world,' what is it more than the fashion of the present day? How far
the judgment of that is worth a poet's pain I can't pretend to say.
But of one thing I am sure, that while I could as easily square the
circle as compose a simple couplet addressed to the heart of a simple
audience with sufficient felicity to decoy their praises into Max's
begging-tray, I could spin out by the yard the sort of verse-making
which characterizes the fashion of the present day."

Much flattered, and not a little amused, the wandering minstrel turned
his bright countenance, no longer dimmed by a cloud, towards that of
his lazily reclined consoler, and answered gayly,--

"You say that you could spin out by the yard verses in the fashion of
the present day. I wish you would give me a specimen of your skill in
that handiwork."

"Very well; on one condition, that you will repay my trouble by a
specimen of your own verses, not in the fashion of the present
day,--something which I can construe. I defy you to construe mine."

"Agreed."

"Well, then, let us take it for granted that this is the Augustan age
of English poetry, and that the English language is dead, like the
Latin. Suppose I am writing for a prize-medal in English, as I wrote
at college for a prize-medal in Latin: of course, I shall be
successful in proportion as I introduce the verbal elegances peculiar
to our Augustan age, and also catch the prevailing poetic
characteristic of that classical epoch.

"Now I think that every observant critic will admit that the striking
distinctions of the poetry most in the fashion of the present day,
namely, of the Augustan age, are,--first, a selection of such verbal
elegances as would have been most repulsive to the barbaric taste of
the preceding century; and, secondly, a very lofty disdain of all
prosaic condescensions to common-sense, and an elaborate cultivation
of that element of the sublime which Mr. Burke defines under the head
of obscurity.

"These premises conceded, I will only ask you to choose the metre.
Blank verse is very much in fashion just now."

"Pooh! blank verse indeed! I am not going so to free your experiment
from the difficulties of rhyme."

"It is all one to me," said Kenelm, yawning; "rhyme be it: heroic or
lyrical?"

"Heroics are old-fashioned; but the Chaucer couplet, as brought to
perfection by our modern poets, I think the best adapted to dainty
leaves and uncrackable nuts. I accept the modern Chaucerian. The
subject?"

"Oh, never trouble yourself about that. By whatever title your
Augustan verse-maker labels his poem, his genius, like Pindar's,
disdains to be cramped by the subject. Listen, and don't suffer Max
to howl, if he can help it. Here goes."

And in an affected but emphatic sing-song Kenelm began:--


   "In Attica the gentle Pythias dwelt.
   Youthful he was, and passing rich: he felt
   As if nor youth nor riches could suffice
   For bliss. Dark-eyed Sophronia was a nice
   Girl: and one summer day, when Neptune drove
   His sea-car slowly, and the olive grove
   That skirts Ilissus, to thy shell, Harmonia,
   Rippled, he said 'I love thee' to Sophronia.
   Crocus and iris, when they heard him, wagged
   Their pretty heads in glee: the honey-bagged
   Bees became altars: and the forest dove
   Her plumage smoothed. Such is the charm of love.
   Of this sweet story do ye long for more?
   Wait till I publish it in volumes four;
   Which certain critics, my good friends, will cry
   Up beyond Chaucer. Take their word for 't. I
   Say 'Trust them, but not read,--or you'll not buy.'"


"You have certainly kept your word," said the minstrel, laughing; "and
if this be the Augustan age, and the English were a dead language, you
deserve to win the prize-medal."

"You flatter me," said Kenelm, modestly. "But if I, who never before
strung two rhymes together, can improvise so readily in the style of
the present day, why should not a practical rhymester like yourself
dash off at a sitting a volume or so in the same style; disguising
completely the verbal elegances borrowed, adding to the delicacies of
the rhyme by the frequent introduction of a line that will not scan,
and towering yet more into the sublime by becoming yet more
unintelligible? Do that, and I promise you the most glowing panegyric
in 'The Londoner,' for I will write it myself."

"'The Londoner'!" exclaimed the minstrel, with an angry flush on his
cheek and brow, "my bitter, relentless enemy."

"I fear, then, you have as little studied the critical press
of the Augustan age as you have imbued your muse with the classical
spirit of its verse. For the art of writing a man must cultivate
himself. The art of being reviewed consists in cultivating the
acquaintance of reviewers. In the Augustan age criticism is cliquism.
Belong to a clique and you are Horace or Tibullus. Belong to no
clique and, of course, you are Bavius or Maevius. 'The Londoner' is
the enemy of no man: it holds all men in equal contempt. But as, in
order to amuse, it must abuse, it compensates the praise it is
compelled to bestow upon the members of its clique by heaping
additional scorn upon all who are cliqueless. Hit him hard: he has no
friends."

"Ah," said the minstrel, "I believe that there is much truth in what
you say. I never had a friend among the cliques. And Heaven knows
with what pertinacity those from whom I, in utter ignorance of the
rules which govern so-called organs of opinion, had hoped, in my time
of struggle, for a little sympathy, a kindly encouragement, have
combined to crush me down. They succeeded long. But at last I
venture to hope that I am beating them. Happily, Nature endowed me
with a sanguine, joyous, elastic temperament. He who never despairs
seldom completely fails."

This speech rather perplexed Kenelm, for had not the minstrel declared
that his singing days were over, that he had decided on the
renunciation of verse-making? What other path to fame, from which the
critics had not been able to exclude his steps, was he, then, now
pursuing,--he whom Kenelm had assumed to belong to some commercial
moneymaking firm? No doubt some less difficult prose-track, probably
a novel. Everybody writes novels nowadays, and as the public will
read novels without being told to do so, and will not read poetry
unless they are told that they ought, possibly novels are not quite so
much at the mercy of cliques as are the poems of our Augustan age.

However, Kenelm did not think of seeking for further confidence on
that score. His mind at that moment, not unnaturally, wandered from
books and critics to love and wedlock.

"Our talk," said he, "has digressed into fretful courses; permit me to
return to the starting-point. You are going to settle down into the
peace of home. A peaceful home is like a good conscience. The rains
without do not pierce its roof, the winds without do not shake its
walls. If not an impertinent question, is it long since you have
known your intended bride?"

"Yes, very long."

"And always loved her?"

"Always, from her infancy. Out of all womankind, she was designed to
be my life's playmate and my soul's purifier. I know not what might
have become of me, if the thought of her had not walked beside me as
my guardian angel. For, like many vagrants from the beaten high roads
of the world, there is in my nature something of that lawlessness
which belongs to high animal spirits, to the zest of adventure, and
the warm blood that runs into song, chiefly because song is the voice
of a joy. And no doubt, when I look back on the past years I must own
that I have too often been led astray from the objects set before my
reason, and cherished at my heart, by erring impulse or wanton fancy."

"Petticoat interest, I presume," interposed Kenelm, dryly.

"I wish I could honestly answer 'No,'" said the minstrel, colouring
high. "But from the worst, from all that would have permanently
blasted the career to which I intrust my fortunes, all that would have
rendered me unworthy of the pure love that now, I trust, awaits and
crowns my dreams of happiness, I have been saved by the haunting smile
in a sinless infantine face. Only once was I in great peril,--that
hour of peril I recall with a shudder. It was at Luscombe."

"At Luscombe!"

"In the temptation of a terrible crime I thought I heard a voice say,
'Mischief! Remember the little child.' In that supervention which is
so readily accepted as a divine warning, when the imagination is
morbidly excited, and when the conscience, though lulled asleep for a
moment, is still asleep so lightly that the sigh of a breeze, the fall
of a leaf, can awake it with a start of terror, I took the voice for
that of my guardian angel. Thinking it over later, and coupling the
voice with the moral of those weird lines you repeated to me so
appositely the next day, I conclude that I am not mistaken when I say
it was from your lips that the voice which preserved me came."

"I confess the impertinence: you pardon it?"

The minstrel seized Kenelm's hand and pressed it earnestly.

"Pardon it! Oh, could you but guess what cause I have to be grateful,
everlastingly grateful! That sudden cry, the remorse and horror of my
own self that it struck into me,--deepened by those rugged lines which
the next day made me shrink in dismay from 'the face of my darling
sin'! Then came the turning-point of my life. From that day, the
lawless vagabond within me was killed. I mean not, indeed, the love
of Nature and of song which had first allured the vagabond, but the
hatred of steadfast habits and of serious work,--_that_ was killed. I
no longer trifled with my calling: I took to it as a serious duty.
And when I saw her, whom fate has reserved and reared for my bride,
her face was no longer in my eyes that of the playful child; the soul
of the woman was dawning into it. It is but two years since that day,
to me so eventful. Yet my fortunes are now secured. And if fame be
not established, I am at last in a position which warrants my saying
to her I love, 'The time has come when, without fear for thy future, I
can ask thee to be mine.'"

The man spoke with so fervent a passion that Kenelm silently left him
to recover his wonted self-possession,--not unwilling to be
silent,--not unwilling, in the softness of the hour, passing from
roseate sunset into starry twilight, to murmur to himself, "And the
time, too, has come for me!"

After a few moments the minstrel resumed lightly and cheerily,--

"Sir, your turn: pray have you long known--judging by our former
conversation you cannot have long loved--the lady whom you have wooed
and won?"

As Kenelm had neither as yet wooed nor won the lady in question, and
did not deem it necessary to enter into any details on the subject of
love particular to himself, he replied by a general observation,--

"It seems to me that the coming of love is like the coming of spring:
the date is not to be reckoned by the calendar. It may be slow and
gradual; it may be quick and sudden. But in the morning, when we wake
and recognize a change in the world without, verdure on the trees,
blossoms on the sward, warmth in the sunshine, music in the air, then
we say Spring has come!"

"I like your illustration. And if it be an idle question to ask a
lover how long he has known the beloved one, so it is almost as idle
to ask if she be not beautiful. He cannot but see in her face the
beauty she has given to the world without."

"True; and that thought is poetic enough to make me remind you that I
favoured you with the maiden specimen of my verse-making on condition
that you repaid me by a specimen of your own practical skill in the
art. And I claim the right to suggest the theme. Let it be--"

"Of a beefsteak?"

"Tush, you have worn out that tasteless joke at my expense. The theme
must be of love, and if you could improvise a stanza or two expressive
of the idea you just uttered I shall listen with yet more pleased
attention."

"Alas! I am no _improvisatore_. Yet I will avenge myself on your
former neglect of my craft by chanting to you a trifle somewhat in
unison with the thought you ask me to versify, but which you would not
stay to hear at Tor Hadham (though you did drop a shilling into Max's
tray); it was one of the songs I sang that evening, and it was not
ill-received by my humble audience.


   "THE BEAUTY OF THE MISTRESS IS IN THE LOVER'S EYE.

   "Is she not pretty, my Mabel May?
    Nobody ever yet called her so.
   Are not her lineaments faultless, say?
    If I must answer you plainly, No.

   "Joy to believe that the maid I love
    None but myself as she is can see;
   Joy that she steals from her heaven above,
    And is only revealed on this earth to me!"


As soon as he had finished this very artless ditty, the minstrel rose
and said,--

"Now I must bid you good-by. My way lies through those meadows, and
yours no doubt along the high road."

"Not so. Permit me to accompany you. I have a lodging not far from
hence, to which the path through the fields is the shortest way."

The minstrel turned a somewhat surprised and somewhat inquisitive look
towards Kenelm. But feeling, perhaps, that having withheld from his
fellow-traveller all confidence as to his own name and attributes, he
had no right to ask any confidence from that gentleman not voluntarily
made to him, he courteously said "that he wished the way were longer,
since it would be so pleasantly halved," and strode forth at a brisk
pace.

The twilight was now closing into the brightness of a starry summer
night, and the solitude of the fields was unbroken. Both these men,
walking side by side, felt supremely happy. But happiness is like
wine; its effect differing with the differing temperaments on which it
acts. In this case garrulous and somewhat vaunting with the one man,
warm-coloured, sensuous, impressionable to the influences of external
Nature, as an Aeolian harp to the rise or fall of a passing wind; and,
with the other man, taciturn and somewhat modestly expressed,
saturnine, meditative, not indeed dull to the influences of external
Nature, but deeming them of no value, save where they passed out of
the domain of the sensuous into that of the intellectual, and the soul
of man dictated to the soulless Nature its own questions and its own
replies.

The minstrel took the talk on himself, and the talk charmed his
listener. It became so really eloquent in the tones of its utterance,
in the frank play of its delivery, that I could no more adequately
describe it than a reporter, however faithful to every word a true
orator may say, can describe that which, apart from all words, belongs
to the presence of the orator himself.

Not, then, venturing to report the language of this singular
itinerant, I content myself with saying that the substance of it was
of the nature on which it is said most men can be eloquent: it was
personal to himself. He spoke of aspirations towards the achievement
of a name, dating back to the dawn of memory; of early obstacles in
lowly birth, stinted fortunes; of a sudden opening to his ambition
while yet in boyhood, through the generous favour of a rich man, who
said, "The child has genius: I will give it the discipline of culture;
one day it shall repay to the world what it owes to me;" of studies
passionately begun, earnestly pursued, and mournfully suspended in
early youth. He did not say how or wherefore: he rushed on to dwell
upon the struggles for a livelihood for himself and those dependent on
him; how in such struggles he was compelled to divert toil and energy
from the systematic pursuit of the object he had once set before him;
the necessities for money were too urgent to be postponed to the
visions of fame. "But even," he exclaimed, passionately, "even in
such hasty and crude manifestations of what is within me, as
circumstances limited my powers, I know that I ought to have found
from those who profess to be authoritative judges the encouragement of
praise. How much better, then, I should have done if I had found it!
How a little praise warms out of a man the good that is in him, and
the sneer of a contempt which he feels to be unjust chills the ardour
to excel! However, I forced my way, so far as was then most essential
to me, the sufficing breadmaker for those I loved; and in my holidays
of song and ramble I found a delight that atoned for all the rest.
But still the desire of fame, once conceived in childhood, once
nourished through youth, never dies but in our grave. Foot and hoof
may tread it down, bud, leaf, stalk; its root is too deep below the
surface for them to reach, and year after year stalk and leaf and bud
re-emerge. Love may depart from our mortal life: we console
ourselves; the beloved will be reunited to us in the life to come.
But if he who sets his heart on fame loses it in this life, what can
console him?"

"Did you not say a little while ago that fame allowed of no grave?"

"True; but if we do not achieve it before we ourselves are in the
grave, what comfort can it give to us? Love ascends to heaven, to
which we hope ourselves to ascend; but fame remains on the earth,
which we shall never again revisit. And it is because fame is
earth-born that the desire for it is the most lasting, the regret for
the want of it the most bitter, to the child of earth. But I shall
achieve it now; it is already in my grasp."

By this time the travellers had arrived at the brook, facing the
wooden bridge beside Cromwell Lodge.

Here the minstrel halted; and Kenelm with a certain tremble in his
voice, said, "Is it not time that we should make ourselves known to
each other by name? I have no longer any cause to conceal mine,
indeed I never had any cause stronger than whim,--Kenelm Chillingly,
the only son of Sir Peter, of Exmundham, -----shire."

"I wish your father joy of so clever a son," said the minstrel with
his wonted urbanity. "You already know enough of me to be aware that
I am of much humbler birth and station than you; but if you chance to
have visited the exhibition of the Royal Academy this year--ah! I
understand that start--you might have recognized a picture of which
you have seen the rudimentary sketch, 'The Girl with the Flower-ball,'
one of three pictures very severely handled by 'The Londoner,' but, in
spite of that potent enemy, insuring fortune and promising fame to the
wandering minstrel, whose name, if the sight of the pictures had
induced you to inquire into that, you would have found to be Walter
Melville. Next January I hope, thanks to that picture, to add,
'Associate of the Royal Academy.' The public will not let them keep
me out of it, in spite of 'The Londoner.' You are probably an
expected guest at one of the more imposing villas from which we see
the distant lights. I am going to a very humble cottage, in which
henceforth I hope to find my established home. I am there now only
for a few days, but pray let me welcome you there before I leave. The
cottage is called Grasmere."



CHAPTER VI.

THE minstrel gave a cordial parting shake of the hand to the
fellow-traveller whom he had advised to settle down, not noticing how
very cold had become the hand in his own genial grasp. Lightly he
passed over the wooden bridge, preceded by Max, and merrily, when he
had gained the other side of the bridge, came upon Kenelm's ear,
through the hush of the luminous night, the verse of the uncompleted
love-song,--


        "Singing, singing,
   Lustily singing,
   Down the road, with his dogs before,
   Came the Ritter of Nierestein."


Love-song, uncompleted; why uncompleted? It was not given to Kenelm
to divine the why. It was a love-song versifying one of the prettiest
fairy tales in the world, which was a great favourite with Lily, and
which Lion had promised Lily to versify, but only to complete it in
her presence and to her perfect satisfaction.



CHAPTER VII.

IF I could not venture to place upon paper the exact words of an
eloquent coveter of fame, the earth-born, still less can I dare to
place upon paper all that passed through the voiceless heart of a
coveter of love, the heaven-born.

From the hour in which Kenelm Chillingly had parted from Walter
Melville until somewhere between sunrise and noon the next day, the
summer joyousness of that external Nature which does now and then,
though, for the most part, deceitfully, address to the soul of man
questions and answers all her soulless own, laughed away the gloom of
his misgivings.

No doubt this Walter Melville was the beloved guardian of Lily; no
doubt it was Lily whom he designated as reserved and reared to become
his bride. But on that question Lily herself had the sovereign voice.
It remained yet to be seen whether Kenelm had deceived himself in the
belief that had made the world so beautiful to him since the hour of
their last parting. At all events it was due to her, due even to his
rival, to assert his own claim to her choice. And the more he
recalled all that Lily had ever said to him of her guardian, so
openly, so frankly, proclaiming affection, admiration, gratitude, the
more convincingly his reasonings allayed his fears, whispering, "So
might a child speak of a parent: not so does the maiden speak of the
man she loves; she can scarcely trust herself to praise."

In fine, it was not in despondent mood, nor with dejected looks, that,
a little before noon, Kenelm crossed the bridge and re-entered the
enchanted land of Grasmere. In answer to his inquiries, the servant
who opened the door said that neither Mr. Melville nor Miss Mordaunt
were at home; they had but just gone out together for a walk. He was
about to turn back, when Mrs. Cameron came into the hall, and, rather
by gesture than words, invited him to enter. Kenelm followed her into
the drawing-room, taking his seat beside her. He was about to speak,
when she interrupted him in a tone of voice so unlike its usual
languor, so keen, so sharp, that it sounded like a cry of distress.

"I was just about to come to you. Happily, however, you find me
alone, and what may pass between us will be soon over. But first tell
me: you have seen your parents; you have asked their consent to wed a
girl such as I described; tell me, oh tell me that that consent is
refused!"

"On the contrary, I am here with their full permission to ask the hand
of your niece."

Mrs. Cameron sank back in her chair, rocking herself to and fro in the
posture of a person in great pain.

"I feared that. Walter said he had met you last evening; that you,
like himself, entertained the thought of marriage. You, of course
when you learned his name, must have known with whom his thought was
connected. Happily, he could not divine what was the choice to which
your youthful fancy had been so blindly led."

"My dear Mrs. Cameron," said Kenelm, very mildly, but very firmly,
"you were aware of the purpose for which I left Moleswich a few days
ago, and it seems to me that you might have forestalled my intention,
the intention which brings me; thus early to your house. I come to
say to Miss Mordaunt's guardian, 'I ask the hand of your ward. If you
also woo her, I have a very noble rival. With both of us no
consideration for our own happiness can be comparable to the duty of
consulting hers. Let her choose between the two.'"

"Impossible!" exclaimed Mrs. Cameron; "impossible. You know not what
you say; know not, guess not, how sacred are the claims of Walter
Melville to all that the orphan whom he has protected from her very
birth can give him in return. She has no right to a preference for
another: her heart is too grateful to admit of one. If the choice
were given to her between him and you, it is he whom she would choose.
Solemnly I assure you of this. Do not, then, subject her to the pain
of such a choice. Suppose, if you will, that you had attracted her
fancy, and that now you proclaimed your love and urged your suit, she
would not, must not, the less reject your hand, but you might cloud
her happiness in accepting Melville's. Be generous. Conquer your own
fancy; it can be but a passing one. Speak not to her, nor to Mr.
Melville, of a wish which can never be realized. Go hence, silently,
and at once."

The words and the manner of the pale imploring woman struck a vague
awe into the heart of her listener. But he did not the less
resolutely answer, "I cannot obey you. It seems to me that my honour
commands me to prove to your niece that, if I mistook the nature of
her feelings towards me, I did not, by word or look, lead her to
believe mine towards herself were less in earnest than they are; and
it seems scarcely less honourable towards my worthy rival to endanger
his own future happiness, should he discover later that his bride
would have been happier with another. Why be so mysteriously
apprehensive? If, as you say, with such apparent conviction, there is
no doubt of your niece's preference for another, at a word from her
own lips I depart, and you will see me no more. But that word must be
said by her; and if you will not permit me to ask for it in your own
house, I will take my chance of finding her now, on her walk with Mr.
Melville; and, could he deny me the right to speak to her alone, that
which I would say can be said in his presence. Ah! madam, have you no
mercy for the heart that you so needlessly torture? If I must bear
the worst, let me learn it, and at once."

"Learn it, then, from my lips," said Mrs. Cameron, speaking with voice
unnaturally calm, and features rigidly set into stern composure. "And
I place the secret you wring from me under the seal of that honour
which you so vauntingly make your excuse for imperilling the peace of
the home I ought never to have suffered you to enter. An honest
couple, of humble station and narrow means, had an only son, who
evinced in early childhood talents so remarkable that they attracted
the notice of the father's employer, a rich man of very benevolent
heart and very cultivated taste. He sent the child, at his expense,
to a first-rate commercial school, meaning to provide for him later in
his own firm. The rich man was the head partner of an eminent bank;
but very infirm health, and tastes much estranged from business, had
induced him to retire from all active share in the firm, the
management of which was confined to a son whom he idolized. But the
talents of the protege he had sent to school took there so passionate
a direction towards art and estranged from trade, and his designs in
drawing when shown to connoisseurs were deemed so promising of future
excellence, that the patron changed his original intention, entered
him as a pupil in the studio of a distinguished French painter, and
afterwards bade him perfect his taste by the study of Italian and
Flemish masterpieces.

"He was still abroad, when--" here Mrs. Cameron stopped, with visible
effort, suppressed a sob, and went on, whisperingly, through teeth
clenched together--"when a thunderbolt fell on the house of the
patron, shattering his fortunes, blasting his name. The son, unknown
to the father, had been decoyed into speculations which proved
unfortunate: the loss might have been easily retrieved in the first
instance; unhappily he took the wrong course to retrieve it, and
launched into new hazards. I must be brief. One day the world was
startled by the news that a firm, famed for its supposed wealth and
solidity, was bankrupt. Dishonesty was alleged, was proved, not
against the father,--he went forth from the trial, censured indeed for
neglect, not condemned for fraud, but a penniless pauper. The--son,
the son, the idolized son, was removed from the prisoner's dock, a
convicted felon, sentenced to penal servitude; escaped that sentence
by--by--you guess--you guess. How could he escape except through
death?--death by his own guilty deed?"

Almost as much overpowered by emotion as Mrs. Cameron herself, Kenelm
covered his bended face with one hand, stretching out the other
blindly to clasp her own, but she would not take it.

A dreary foreboding. Again before his eyes rose the old gray
tower,--again in his ears thrilled the tragic tale of the Fletwodes.
What was yet left untold held the young man in spell-bound silence.
Mrs. Cameron resumed,--

"I said the father was a penniless pauper; he died lingeringly
bedridden. But one faithful friend did not desert that bed,--the
youth to whose genius his wealth had ministered. He had come from
abroad with some modest savings from the sale of copies or sketches
made in Florence. These savings kept a roof over the heads of the old
man and the two helpless, broken-hearted women,--paupers like
himself,--his own daughter and his son's widow. When the savings were
gone, the young man stooped from his destined calling, found
employment somehow, no matter how alien to his tastes, and these three
whom his toil supported never wanted a home or food. Well, a few
weeks after her husband's terrible death, his young widow (they had
not been a year married) gave birth to a child,--a girl. She did not
survive the exhaustion of her confinement many days. The shock of her
death snapped the feeble thread of the poor father's life. Both were
borne to the grave on the same day. Before they died, both made the
same prayer to their sole two mourners, the felon's sister, the old
man's young benefactor. The prayer was this, that the new-born infant
should be reared, however humbly, in ignorance of her birth, of a
father's guilt and shame. She was not to pass a suppliant for charity
to rich and high-born kinsfolk, who had vouchsafed no word even of
pity to the felon's guiltless father and as guiltless wife. That
promise has been kept till now. I am that daughter. The name I bear,
and the name which I gave to my niece, are not ours, save as we may
indirectly claim them through alliances centuries ago. I have never
married. I was to have been a bride, bringing to the representative
of no ignoble house what was to have been a princely dower; the
wedding day was fixed, when the bolt fell. I have never again seen my
betrothed. He went abroad and died there. I think he loved me; he
knew I loved him. Who can blame him for deserting me? Who could
marry the felon's sister? Who would marry the felon's child? Who but
one? The man who knows her secret, and will guard it; the man who,
caring little for other education, has helped to instil into her
spotless childhood so steadfast a love of truth, so exquisite a pride
of honour, that did she know such ignominy rested on her birth she
would pine herself away."

"Is there only one man on earth," cried Kenelm, suddenly, rearing his
face,--till then concealed and downcast,--and with a loftiness of
pride on its aspect, new to its wonted mildness, "is there only one
man who would deem the virgin at whose feet he desires to kneel and
say, 'Deign to be the queen of my life,' not far too noble in herself
to be debased by the sins of others before she was even born; is there
only one man who does not think that the love of truth and the pride
of honour are most royal attributes of woman or of man, no matter
whether the fathers of the woman or the man were pirates as lawless as
the fathers of Norman kings, or liars as unscrupulous, where their own
interests were concerned, as have been the crowned representatives of
lines as deservedly famous as Caesars and Bourbons, Tudors and
Stuarts? Nobility, like genius, is inborn. One man alone guard _her_
secret!--guard a secret that if made known could trouble a heart that
recoils from shame! Ah, madam, we Chillinglys are a very obscure,
undistinguished race, but for more than a thousand years we have been
English gentlemen. Guard her secret rather than risk the chance of
discovery that could give her a pang! I would pass my whole life by
her side in Kamtchatka, and even there I would not snatch a glimpse of
the secret itself with mine own eyes: it should be so closely muffled
and wrapped round by the folds of reverence and worship."

This burst of passion seemed to Mrs. Cameron the senseless declamation
of an inexperienced, hot-headed young man; and putting it aside, much
as a great lawyer dismisses as balderdash the florid rhetoric of some
junior counsel, rhetoric in which the great lawyer had once indulged,
or as a woman for whom romance is over dismisses as idle verbiage some
romantic sentiment that befools her young daughter, Mrs. Cameron
simply replied, "All this is hollow talk, Mr. Chillingly; let us come
to the point. After all I have said, do you mean to persist in your
suit to my niece?"

"I persist."

"What!" she cried, this time indignantly, and with generous
indignation; "what, even were it possible that you could win your
parents' consent to marry the child of a man condemned to penal
servitude, or, consistently with the duties a son owes to parents,
conceal that fact from them, could you, born to a station on which
every gossip will ask, 'Who and what is the name of the future Lady
Chillingly?' believe that the who and the what will never be
discovered! Have you, a mere stranger, unknown to us a few weeks ago,
a right to say to Walter Melville, 'Resign to me that which is your
sole reward for the sublime sacrifices, for the loyal devotion, for
the watchful tenderness of patient years'?"

"Surely, madam," cried Kenelm, more startled, more shaken in soul by
this appeal, than by the previous revelations, "surely, when we last
parted, when I confided to you my love for your niece, when you
consented to my proposal to return home and obtain my father's
approval of my suit,--surely then was the time to say, 'No; a suitor
with claims paramount and irresistible has come before you.'"

"I did not then know, Heaven is my witness, I did not then even
suspect, that Walter Melville ever dreamed of seeking a wife in the
child who had grown up under his eyes. You must own, indeed, how much
I discouraged your suit; I could not discourage it more without
revealing the secret of her birth, only to be revealed as an extreme
necessity. But my persuasion was that your father would not consent
to your alliance with one so far beneath the expectations he was
entitled to form, and the refusal of that consent would terminate all
further acquaintance between you and Lily, leaving her secret
undisclosed. It was not till you had left, only indeed two days ago,
that I received a letter from Walter Melville,--a letter which told me
what I had never before conjectured. Here is the letter, read it, and
then say if you have the heart to force yourself into rivalry,
with--with--" She broke off, choked by her exertion, thrust the
letter into his hands, and with keen, eager, hungry stare watched his
countenance while he read.



        ----- STREET, BLOOMSBURY.

MY DEAR FRIEND,--Joy and triumph! My picture is completed, the
picture on which for so many months I have worked night and day in
this den of a studio, without a glimpse of the green fields,
concealing my address from every one, even from you, lest I might be
tempted to suspend my labours. The picture is completed: it is sold;
guess the price! Fifteen hundred guineas, and to a dealer,--a dealer!
Think of that! It is to be carried about the country exhibited by
itself. You remember those three little landscapes of mine which two
years ago I would gladly have sold for ten pounds, only neither Lily
nor you would let me. My good friend and earliest patron, the German
merchant at Luscombe, who called on me yesterday, offered to cover
them with guineas thrice piled over the canvas. Imagine how happy I
felt when I forced him to accept them as a present. What a leap in a
man's life it is when he can afford to say, "I give!" Now then, at
last, at last I am in a position which justifies the utterance of the
hope which has for eighteen years been my solace, my support; been the
sunbeam that ever shone through the gloom when my fate was at the
darkest; been the melody that buoyed me aloft as in the song of the
skylark, when in the voices of men I heard but the laugh of scorn. Do
you remember the night on which Lily's mother besought us to bring up
her child in ignorance of her parentage, not even to communicate to
unkind and disdainful relatives that such a child was born? Do you
remember how plaintively, and yet how proudly, she, so nobly born, so
luxuriously nurtured, clasping my hand when I ventured to remonstrate,
and say that her own family could not condemn her child because of the
father's guilt,--she, the proudest woman I ever knew, she whose smile
I can at rare moments detect in Lily, raised her head from her pillow,
and gasped forth,--

"I am dying: the last words of the dying are commands. I command you
to see that my child's lot is not that of a felon's daughter
transported to the hearth of nobles. To be happy, her lot must be
humble: no roof too humble to shelter, no husband too humble to wed,
the felon's daughter."

From that hour I formed a resolve that I would keep hand and heart
free, that when the grandchild of my princely benefactor grew up into
womanhood I might say to her, "I am humbly born, but thy mother would
have given thee to me." The newborn, consigned to our charge, has now
ripened into woman, and I have now so assured my fortune that it is no
longer poverty and struggle that I should ask her to share. I am
conscious that, were her fate not so exceptional, this hope of mine
would be a vain presumption,--conscious that I am but the creature of
her grandsire's bounty, and that from it springs all I ever can
be,--conscious of the disparity in years,-conscious of many a past
error and present fault. But, as fate so ordains, such considerations
are trivial; I am her rightful choice. What other choice, compatible
with these necessities which weigh, dear and honoured friend,
immeasurably more on your sense of honour than they do upon mine? and
yet mine is not dull. Granting, then, that you, her nearest and most
responsible relative, do not contemn me for presumption, all else
seems to me clear. Lily's childlike affection for me is too deep and
too fond not to warm into a wife's love. Happily, too, she has not
been reared in the stereotyped boarding-school shallowness of
knowledge and vulgarities of gentility; but educated, like myself, by
the free influences of Nature, longing for no halls and palaces save
those that we build as we list, in fairyland; educated to comprehend
and share the fancies which are more than booklore to the worshipper
of art and song. In a day or two, perhaps the day after you receive
this, I shall be able to escape from London, and most likely shall
come on foot as usual. How I long to see once more the woodbine on
the hedgerows, the green blades of the cornfields, the sunny lapse of
the river, and dearer still the tiny falls of our own little noisy
rill! Meanwhile I entreat you, dearest, gentlest, most honored of
such few friends as my life has hitherto won to itself, to consider
well the direct purport of this letter. If you, born in a grade so
much higher than mine, feel that it is unwarrantable insolence in me
to aspire to the hand of my patron's grandchild, say so plainly; and I
remain not less grateful for your friendship than I was to your
goodness when dining for the first time at your father's palace. Shy
and sensitive and young, I felt that his grand guests wondered why I
was invited to the same board as themselves. You, then courted,
admired, you had sympathetic compassion on the raw, sullen boy; left
those, who then seemed to me like the gods and goddesses of a heathen
Pantheon, to come and sit beside your father's protege and cheeringly
whisper to him such words as make a low-born ambitious lad go home
light-hearted, saying to himself, "Some day or other." And what it is
to an ambitious lad, fancying himself lifted by the gods and goddesses
of a Pantheon, to go home light-hearted muttering to himself, "Some
day or other," I doubt if even you can divine.

But should you be as kind to the presumptuous man as you were to the
bashful boy, and say, "Realized be the dream, fulfilled be the object
of your life! take from me as her next of kin, the last descendant of
your benefactor," then I venture to address to you this request. You
are in the place of mother to your sister's child, act for her as a
keeper now, to prepare her mind and heart for the coming change in the
relations between her and me. When I last saw her, six months ago,
she was still so playfully infantine that it half seems to me I should
be sinning against the reverence due to a child, if I said too
abruptly, "You are woman, and I love you not as child but as woman."
And yet, time is not allowed to me for long, cautious, and gradual
slide from the relationship of friend into that of lover. I now
understand what the great master of my art once said to me, "A career
is a destiny." By one of those merchant princes who now at
Manchester, as they did once at Genoa or Venice, reign alike over
those two civilizers of the world which to dull eyes seem
antagonistic, Art and Commerce, an offer is made to me for a picture
on a subject which strikes his fancy: an offer so magnificently
liberal that his commerce must command my art; and the nature of the
subject compels me to seek the banks of the Rhine as soon as may be.
I must have all the hues of the foliage in the meridian glories of
summer. I can but stay at Grasmere a very few days; but before I
leave I must know this, am I going to work for Lily or am I not? On
the answer to that question depends all. If not to work for her,
there would be no glory in the summer, no triumph in art to me: I
refuse the offer. If she says, "Yes; it is for me you work," then she
becomes my destiny. She assures my career. Here I speak as an
artist: nobody who is not an artist can guess how sovereign over even
his moral being, at a certain critical epoch in his career of artist
or his life of man, is the success or the failure of a single work.
But I go on to speak as man. My love for Lily is such for the last
six months that, though if she rejected me I should still serve art,
still yearn for fame, it would be as an old man might do either. The
youth of my life would be gone.

As man I say, all my thoughts, all my dreams of happiness, distinct
from Art and fame, are summed up in the one question, "Is Lily to be
my wife or not?"

   Yours affectionately,

     W. M.


Kenelm returned the letter without a word.

Enraged by his silence, Mrs. Cameron exclaimed, "Now, sir, what say
you? You have scarcely known Lily five weeks. What is the feverish
fancy of five weeks' growth to the lifelong devotion of a man like
this? Do you now dare to say, 'I persist'?"

Kenelm waved his hand very quietly, as if to dismiss all conception of
taunt and insult and said with his soft melancholy eyes fixed upon the
working features of Lily's aunt, "This man is more worthy of her than
I. He prays you, in his letter, to prepare your niece for that change
of relationship which he dreads too abruptly to break to her himself.
Have you done so?"

"I have; the night I got the letter."

"And--you hesitate; speak truthfully, I implore. And she--"

"She," answered Mrs. Cameron, feeling herself involuntarily compelled
to obey the voice of that prayer--"she seemed stunned at first,
muttering, 'This is a dream: it cannot be true,--cannot! I Lion's
wife--I--I! I, his destiny! In me his happiness!' And then she
laughed her pretty child's laugh, and put her arms round my neck, and
said, 'You are jesting, aunty. He could not write thus!' So I put
that part of his letter under her eyes; and when she had convinced
herself, her face became very grave, more like a woman's face than I
ever saw it; and after a pause she cried out passionately, 'Can you
think me--can I think myself--so bad, so ungrateful, as to doubt what
I should answer, if Lion asked me whether I would willingly say or do
anything that made him unhappy? If there be such a doubt in my heart,
I would tear it out by the roots, heart and all!' Oh, Mr. Chillingly!
There would be no happiness for her with another, knowing that she had
blighted the life of him to whom she owes so much, though she never
will learn how much more she owes." Kenelm not replying to this
remark, Mrs. Cameron resumed, "I will be perfectly frank with you, Mr.
Chillingly. I was not quite satisfied with Lily's manner and looks
the next morning, that is, yesterday. I did fear there might be some
struggle in her mind in which there entered a thought of yourself.
And when Walter, on his arrival here in the evening, spoke of you as
one he had met before in his rural excursions, but whose name he only
learned on parting at the bridge by Cromwell Lodge, I saw that Lily
turned pale, and shortly afterwards went to her own room for the
night. Fearing that any interview with you, though it would not alter
her resolve, might lessen her happiness on the only choice she can and
ought to adopt, I resolved to visit you this morning, and make that
appeal to your reason and your heart which I have done now,--not, I am
sure, in vain. Hush! I hear his voice!"

Melville entered the room, Lily leaning on his arm. The artist's
comely face was radiant with ineffable joyousness. Leaving Lily, he
reached Kenelm's side as with a single bound, shook him heartily by
the hand, saying, "I find that you have already been a welcomed
visitor in this house. Long may you be so, so say I, so (I answer for
her) says my fair betrothed, to whom I need not present you."

Lily advanced, and held out her hand very timidly. Kenelm touched
rather than clasped it. His own strong hand trembled like a leaf. He
ventured but one glance at her face. All the bloom had died out of
it, but the expression seemed to him wondrously, cruelly tranquil.

"Your betrothed! your future bride!" he said to the artist, with a
mastery over his emotion rendered less difficult by the single glance
at that tranquil face. "I wish you joy. All happiness to you, Miss
Mordaunt. You have made a noble choice."

He looked round for his hat; it lay at his feet, but he did not see
it; his eyes wandering away with uncertain vision, like those of a
sleep-walker.

Mrs. Cameron picked up the hat and gave it to him.

"Thank you," he said meekly; then with a smile half sweet, half
bitter, "I have so much to thank you for, Mrs. Cameron."

"But you are not going already,--just as I enter too. Hold! Mrs.
Cameron tells me you are lodging with my old friend Jones. Come and
stop a couple of days with us: we can find you a room; the room over
your butterfly cage, eh, Fairy?"

"Thank you too. Thank you all. No; I must be in London by the first
train."

Speaking thus, he had found his way to the door, bowed with the quiet
grace that characterized all his movements, and was gone.

"Pardon his abruptness, Lily; he too loves; he too is impatient to
find a betrothed," said the artist gayly: "but now he knows my dearest
secret, I think I have a right to know his; and I will try."

He had scarcely uttered the words before he too had quitted the room
and overtaken Kenelm just at the threshold.

"If you are going back to Cromwell Lodge,--to pack up, I suppose,--let
me walk with you as far as the bridge."

Kenelm inclined his head assentingly and tacitly as they passed
through the garden-gate, winding backwards through the lane which
skirted the garden pales; when, at the very spot in which the day
after their first and only quarrel Lily's face had been seen
brightening through the evergreen, that day on which the old woman,
quitting her, said, "God bless you!" and on which the vicar, walking
with Kenelm, spoke of her fairy charms; well, just in that spot Lily's
face appeared again, not this time brightening through the evergreens,
unless the palest gleam of the palest moon can be said to brighten.
Kenelm saw, started, halted. His companion, then in the rush of a
gladsome talk, of which Kenelm had not heard a word, neither saw nor
halted; he walked on mechanically, gladsome, and talking.

Lily stretched forth her hand through the evergreens. Kenelm took it
reverentially. This time it was not his hand that trembled.

"Good-by," she said in a whisper, "good-by forever in this world. You
understand,--you do understand me. Say that you do."

"I understand. Noble child! noble choice! God bless you! God
comfort me!" murmured Kenelm. Their eyes met. Oh, the sadness; and,
alas! oh the love in the eyes of both!

Kenelm passed on.

All said in an instant. How many Alls are said in an instant!
Melville was in the midst of some glowing sentence, begun when Kenelm
dropped from his side, and the end of the sentence was this:

"Words cannot say how fair seems life; how easy seems conquest of
fame, dating from this day--this day"--and in his turn he halted,
looked round on the sunlit landscape, and breathed deep, as if to
drink into his soul all of the earth's joy and beauty which his gaze
could compass and the arch of the horizon bound.

"They who knew her even the best," resumed the artist, striding on,
"even her aunt, never could guess how serious and earnest, under all
her infantine prettiness of fancy, is that girl's real nature. We
were walking along the brook-side, when I began to tell how solitary
the world would be to me if I could not win her to my side; while I
spoke she had turned aside from the path we had taken, and it was not
till we were under the shadow of the church in which we shall be
married that she uttered the word that gives to every cloud in my fate
the silver lining; implying thus how solemnly connected in her mind
was the thought of love with the sanctity of religion."

Kenelm shuddered,--the church, the burial-ground, the old Gothic tomb,
the flowers round the infant's grave!

"But I am talking a great deal too much about myself," resumed the
artist. "Lovers are the most consummate of all egotists, and the most
garrulous of all gossips. You have wished me joy on my destined
nuptials, when shall I wish you joy on yours? Since we have begun to
confide in each other, you are in my debt as to a confidence."

They had now gained the bridge. Kenelm turned round abruptly,
"Good-day; let us part here. I have nothing to confide to you that
might not seem to your ears a mockery when I wish you joy." So
saying, so obeying in spite of himself the anguish of his heart,
Kenelm wrung his companion's hand with the force of an uncontrollable
agony, and speeded over the bridge before Melville recovered his
surprise.

The artist would have small claim to the essential attribute of
genius--namely, the intuitive sympathy of passion with passion--if
that secret of Kenelm's which he had so lightly said "he had acquired
the right to learn," was not revealed to him as by an electric flash.
"Poor fellow!" he said to himself pityingly; "how natural that he
should fall in love with Fairy! but happily he is so young, and such a
philosopher, that it is but one of those trials through which, at
least ten times a year, I have gone with wounds that leave not a
scar."

Thus soliloquizing, the warm-blooded worshipper of Nature returned
homeward, too blest in the triumph of his own love to feel more than a
kindly compassion for the wounded heart, consigned with no doubt of
the healing result to the fickleness of youth and the consolations of
philosophy. Not for a moment did the happier rival suspect that
Kenelm's love was returned; that an atom in the heart of the girl who
had promised to be his bride could take its light or shadow from any
love but his own. Yet, more from delicacy of respect to the rival so
suddenly self-betrayed than from any more prudential motive, he did
not speak even to Mrs. Cameron of Kenelm's secret and sorrow; and
certainly neither she nor Lily was disposed to ask any question that
concerned the departed visitor.

In fact the name of Kenelm Chillingly was scarcely, if at all,
mentioned in that household during the few days which elapsed before
Walter Melville quitted Grasmere for the banks of the Rhine, not to
return till the autumn, when his marriage with Lily was to take place.
During those days Lily was calm and seemingly cheerful; her manner
towards her betrothed, if more subdued, not less affectionate than of
old. Mrs. Cameron congratulated herself on having so successfully got
rid of Kenelm Chillingly.



CHAPTER VIII.

SO, then, but for that officious warning, uttered under the balcony at
Luscombe, Kenelm Chillingly might never have had a rival in Walter
Melville. But ill would any reader construe the character of Kenelm,
did he think that such a thought increased the bitterness of his
sorrow. No sorrow in the thought that a noble nature had been saved
from the temptation to a great sin.

The good man does good merely by living. And the good he does may
often mar the plans he formed for his own happiness. But he cannot
regret that Heaven has permitted him to do good.

What Kenelm did feel is perhaps best explained in the letter to Sir
Peter, which is here subjoined:--


"MY DEAREST FATHER,--Never till my dying day shall I forget that
tender desire for my happiness with which, overcoming all worldly
considerations, no matter at what disappointment to your own cherished
plans or ambition for the heir to your name and race, you sent me away
from your roof, these words ringing in my ear like the sound of
joy-bells, 'Choose as you will, with my blessing on your choice. I
open my heart to admit another child: your wife shall be my daughter.'
It is such an unspeakable comfort to me to recall those words now. Of
all human affections gratitude is surely the holiest; and it blends
itself with the sweetness of religion when it is gratitude to a
father. And, therefore, do not grieve too much for me, when I tell
you that the hopes which enchanted me when we parted are not to be
fulfilled. Her hand is pledged to another,--another with claims upon
her preference to which mine cannot be compared; and he is himself,
putting aside the accidents of birth and fortune, immeasurably my
superior. In that thought--I mean the thought that the man she
selects deserves her more than I do, and that in his happiness she
will blend her own--I shall find comfort, so soon as I can fairly
reason down the first all-engrossing selfishness that follows the
sense of unexpected and irremediable loss. Meanwhile you will think
it not unnatural that I resort to such aids for change of heart as are
afforded by change of scene. I start for the Continent to-night, and
shall not rest till I reach Venice, which I have not yet seen. I feel
irresistibly attracted towards still canals and gliding gondolas. I
will write to you and to my dear mother the day I arrive. And I trust
to write cheerfully, with full accounts of all I see and encounter.
Do not, dearest father, in your letters to me, revert or allude to
that grief which even the tenderest word from your own tender self
might but chafe into pain more sensitive. After all, a disappointed
love is a very common lot. And we meet every day, men--ay, and women
too--who have known it, and are thoroughly cured. The manliest of our
modern lyrical poets has said very nobly, and, no doubt, very justly,


     "To bear is to conquer our fate.


   "Ever your loving son,

     "K. C."



CHAPTER IX.

NEARLY a year and a half has elapsed since the date of my last
chapter. Two Englishmen were--the one seated, the other reclined at
length--on one of the mounds that furrow the ascent of Posilippo.
Before them spread the noiseless sea, basking in the sunshine, without
visible ripple; to the left there was a distant glimpse through gaps
of brushwood of the public gardens and white water of the Chiaja.
They were friends who had chanced to meet abroad unexpectedly, joined
company, and travelled together for many months, chiefly in the East.
They had been but a few days in Naples. The elder of the two had
important affairs in England which ought to have summoned him back
long since. But he did not let his friend know this; his affairs
seemed to him less important than the duties he owed to one for whom
he entertained that deep and noble love which is something stronger
than brotherly, for with brotherly affection it combines gratitude and
reverence. He knew, too, that his friend was oppressed by a haunting
sorrow, of which the cause was divined by one, not revealed by the
other.

To leave him, so beloved, alone with that sorrow in strange lands, was
a thought not to be cherished by a friend so tender; for in the
friendship of this man there was that sort of tenderness which
completes a nature, thoroughly manlike, by giving it a touch of the
woman's.

It was a day which in our northern climates is that of winter: in the
southern clime of Naples it was mild as an English summer day,
lingering on the brink of autumn; the sun sloping towards the west,
and already gathering around it roseate and purple fleeces; elsewhere
the deep blue sky was without a cloudlet.

Both had been for some minutes silent; at length the man reclining on
the grass--it was the younger man--said suddenly, and with no previous
hint of the subject introduced, "Lay your hand on your heart, Tom, and
answer me truly. Are your thoughts as clear from regrets as the
heavens above us are from a cloud? Man takes regret from tears that
have ceased to flow, as the heavens take clouds from the rains that
have ceased to fall."

"Regrets? Ah, I understand, for the loss of the girl I once loved to
distraction! No; surely I made that clear to you many, many, many
months ago, when I was your guest at Moleswich."

"Ay, but I have never, since then, spoken to you on that subject. I
did not dare. It seems to me so natural that a man, in the earlier
struggle between love and reason, should say, 'Reason shall conquer,
and has conquered;' and yet--and yet--as time glides on, feel that the
conquerors who cannot put down rebellion have a very uneasy reign.
Answer me not as at Moleswich, during the first struggle, but now, in
the after-day, when reaction from struggle comes."

"Upon my honour," answered the friend, "I have had no reaction at all.
I was cured entirely, when I had once seen Jessie again, another man's
wife, mother to his child, happy in her marriage; and, whether she was
changed or not,--very different from the sort of wife I should like to
marry, now that I am no longer a village farrier."

"And, I remember, you spoke of some other girl whom it would suit you
to marry. You have been long abroad from her. Do you ever think of
her,--think of her still as your future wife? Can you love her? Can
you, who have once loved so faithfully, love again?"

"I am sure of that. I love Emily better than I did when I left
England. We correspond. She writes such nice letters." Tom
hesitated, blushed, and continued timidly, "I should like to show you
one of her letters."

"Do."

Tom drew forth the last of such letters from his breast-pocket.

Kenelm raised himself from the grass, took the letter, and read
slowly, carefully, while Tom watched in vain for some approving smile
to brighten up the dark beauty of that melancholy face.

Certainly it was the letter a man in love might show with pride to a
friend: the letter of a lady, well educated, well brought up, evincing
affection modestly, intelligence modestly too; the sort of letter in
which a mother who loved her daughter, and approved the daughter's
choice, could not have suggested a correction.

As Kenelm gave back the letter, his eyes met his friend's. Those were
eager eyes,--eyes hungering for praise. Kenelm's heart smote him for
that worst of sins in friendship,--want of sympathy; and that uneasy
heart forced to his lips congratulations, not perhaps quite sincere,
but which amply satisfied the lover. In uttering them, Kenelm rose to
his feet, threw his arm round his friend's shoulder, and said, "Are
you not tired of this place, Tom? I am. Let us go back to England
to-morrow." Tom's honest face brightened vividly. "How selfish and
egotistical I have been!" continued Kenelm; "I ought to have thought
more of you, your career, your marriage,--pardon me--"

"Pardon you,--pardon! Don't I owe to you all,--owe to you Emily
herself? If you had never come to Graveleigh, never said, 'Be my
friend,' what should I have been now? what--what?"

The next day the two friends quitted Naples _en route_ for England,
not exchanging many words by the way. The old loquacious crotchety
humour of Kenelm had deserted him. A duller companion than he was you
could not have conceived. He might have been the hero of a young
lady's novel. It was only when they parted in London, that Kenelm
evinced more secret purpose, more external emotion than one of his
heraldic Daces shifting from the bed to the surface of a waveless
pond.

"If I have rightly understood you, Tom, all this change in you,
all this cure of torturing regret, was wrought, wrought
lastingly,--wrought so as to leave you heart-free for the world's
actions and a home's peace, on that eve when you saw her whose face
till then had haunted you, another man's happy wife, and in so seeing
her, either her face was changed or your heart became so."

"Quite true. I might express it otherwise, but the fact remains the
same."

"God bless you, Tom; bless you in your career without, in your home
within," said Kenelm, wringing his friend's hand at the door of the
carriage that was to whirl to love and wealth and station the whilom
bully of a village, along the iron groove of that contrivance which,
though now the tritest of prosaic realities, seemed once too poetical
for a poet's wildest visions.



CHAPTER X.

A WINTER'S evening at Moleswich. Very different from a winter sunset
at Naples. It is intensely cold. There has been a slight fall of
snow, accompanied with severe, bright, clean frost, a thin sprinkling
of white on the pavements. Kenelm Chillingly entered the town on
foot, no longer a knapsack on his back. Passing through the main
street, he paused a moment at the door of Will Somers. The shop was
closed. No, he would not stay there to ask in a roundabout way for
news. He would go in straightforwardly and manfully to Grasmere. He
would take the inmates there by surprise. The sooner he could bring
Tom's experience home to himself, the better. He had schooled his
heart to rely on that experience, and it brought him back the old
elasticity of his stride. In his lofty carriage and buoyant face were
again visible the old haughtiness of the indifferentism that keeps
itself aloof from the turbulent emotions and conventional frivolities
of those whom its philosophy pities and scorns.

"Ha! ha!" laughed he who like Swift never laughed aloud, and often
laughed inaudibly. "Ha! ha! I shall exorcise the ghost of my grief.
I shall never be haunted again. If that stormy creature whom love
might have maddened into crime, if he were cured of love at once by a
single visit to the home of her whose face was changed to him,--for
the smiles and the tears of it had become the property of another
man,--how much more should I be left without a scar! I, the heir of
the Chillinglys! I, the kinsman of a Mivers! I, the pupil of a
Welby! I--I, Kenelm Chillingly, to be thus--thus--" Here, in the
midst of his boastful soliloquy, the well-remembered brook rushed
suddenly upon eye and ear, gleaming and moaning under the wintry moon.
Kenelm Chillingly stopped, covered his face with his hands, and burst
into a passion of tears.

Recovering himself slowly, he went on along the path, every step of
which was haunted by the form of Lily. He reached the garden gate of
Grasmere, lifted the latch, and entered. As he did so, a man,
touching his hat, rushed beside, and advanced before him,--the village
postman. Kenelm drew back, allowing the man to pass to the door, and
as he thus drew back, he caught a side view of lighted windows looking
on the lawn,--the windows of the pleasant drawing-room in which he had
first heard Lily speak of her guardian.

The postman left his letters, and regained the garden gate, while
Kenelm still stood wistfully gazing on those lighted windows. He had,
meanwhile, advanced along the whitened sward to the light, saying to
himself, "Let me just see her and her happiness, and then I will knock
boldly at the door, and say, 'Good-evening, Mrs. Melville.'"

So Kenelm stole across the lawn, and, stationing himself at the angle
of the wall, looked into the window.

Melville, in dressing-robe and slippers, was seated alone by the
fireside. His dog was lazily stretched on the hearth rug. One by one
the