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Title: Dynevor Terrace; Or, The Clue of Life — Volume 2
Author: Yonge, Charlotte M. (Charlotte Mary), 1823-1901
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 "Dynevor Terrace; Or, The Clue of Life — Volume 2" ***

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DYNEVOR TERRACE.

VOL. II.


BY

CHARLOTTE M. YONGE



CONTENTS

      1.  THE TRYSTE.
     II.  THE THIRD TIME.
    III.  MISTS.
     IV.  OUTWARD BOUND.
      V.  THE NEW WORLD.
     VI.  THE TWO PENDRAGONS.
    VII.  ROLAND AND OLIVER
   VIII.  THE RESTORATION.
     IX.  THE GIANT OF THE WESTERN STAR.
      X.  THE WRONG WOMAN IN THE WRONG PLACE.
     XI.  AUNT CATHARINE'S HOME.
    XII.  THE FROST HOUSEHOLD.
   XIII.  THE CONWAY HOUSEHOLD.
    XIV.  THE TRUSTEES' MEETING.
     XV.  SWEET USES OF ADVERSITY.
    XVI.  THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION.
   XVII.  'BIDE A WEE.'
  XVIII.  THE CRASH.
    XIX.  FAREWELL TO GREATNESS.
     XX.  WESTERN TIDINGS.
    XXI.  STEPPING WESTWARD.
   XXII.  RATHER SUDDEN.
  XXIII.  THE MARVEL OF PERU.



CHAPTER I.

THE TRYSTE.

  One single flash of glad surprise
  Just glanced from Isabel's dark eyes,
  Then vanished in the blush of shame
  That as its penance instant came--
  'O thought unworthy of my race!'
                     The Lord of the Isles.


As little recked Fitzjocelyn of the murmurs which he had provoked, as
he guessed the true secret of his victory.  In his eyes, it was the
triumph of merit over prejudice, and Mrs. Frost espoused the same
gratifying view, though ascribing much to her nephew's activity, and
James himself, flushed with hope and success, was not likely to dissent.

Next they had to make their conquest available.  Apart from Louis's
magnificent prognostications, at the lowest computation, the head
master's income amounted to a sum which to James appeared affluence;
and though there was no house provided, it mattered the less since
there were five to choose from in the Terrace, even if his grandmother
had not wished that their household should be still the same.  With
Miss Conway's own fortune and the Terrace settled on herself, where
could be any risk?

Would Lady Conway think so? and how should the communication be made?
James at first proposed writing to her, enclosing a letter to Isabel;
but he changed his mind, unable to satisfy himself that, when absent
from restraint, she might not send a refusal without affording her
daughter the option.  He begged his grandmother to write to Isabel; but
she thought her letter might carry too much weight, and, whatever might
be her hopes, it was not for her to tell the young lady that such means
were sufficient.

Louis begged to be the bearer of the letter.  His aunt would certainly
keep terms with him, and he could insure that the case was properly
laid before Isabel; and, as there could be no doubt at present of his
persuasive powers, James caught at the offer.  The party were still at
Beauchastel, and he devised going to his old quarters at Ebbscreek, and
making a descent upon them from thence.

When he came to take up his credentials, he found James and his little
black leathern bag, determined to come at least to Ebbscreek with him,
and declaring it made him frantic to stay at home and leave his cause
in other hands, and that he could not exist anywhere but close to the
scene of action.

Captain Hannaford was smoking in his demi-boat, and gave his former
lodgers a hearty welcome, but he twinkled knowingly with his eye, and
so significantly volunteered to inform them that the ladies were still
at Beauchastel, that James's wrath at the old skipper's impudence began
to revive, and he walked off to the remotest end of the garden.

The Captain, remaining with Louis, with whom he was always on far more
easy terms, looked after the other gentleman, winked again, and
confessed that he had suspected one or other of them might be coming
that way this summer, though he could not say he had expected to see
them both together.

'Mind, Captain,' said Louis,' it wasn't _I_ that made the boat late
this time last year.'

'Well!  I might be wrong, I fancied you cast an eye that way.  Then
maybe it ain't true what's all over the place here.'

Louis pressed to hear what.  'Why, that when the French were going on
like Robert Spear and them old times, he had convoyed the young lady
right through the midst of them, and they would both have been shot, if
my Lady's butler hadn't come down with a revolver, killed half-a-dozen
of the mob, and rescued them out of it, but that Lord Fitzjocelyn had
been desperately wounded in going back to fetch her bracelet, and Mr.
Delaford had carried him out in his arms.'

'Well!' said Louis, coolly, without altering a muscle of his face, as
the Captain looked for an angry negative.

'And when they got home,--so the story went,--Mr. Frost, the tutor, was
so mad with jealousy and rage, that my Lady declared those moorings
would not suit her no longer, but had let go, and laid her head right
for Beauchastel.'

'Pray what was the young lady supposed to think of the matter?'

'Stories appeared to vary.  One version said that Mr. Delaford had
found him on his knees to her; and that my Lady had snatched her
cruelly away, because she would not have her married before her own
daughters, and looked over all the post, for fear there should be a
letter for her.  Another declared that Miss Conway would not have him
at any price, and was set upon the poor tutor, and that he was lying
dangerously ill of a low fever. --The women will have it so,' observed
the Captain, 'the story's everywhere, except maybe in the parlour at
Beauchastel, and I wouldn't wonder if Mrs. Mansell knew it all herself,
for her maid has a tongue a yard long.  I won't say but I thought there
might be some grain of truth at the bottom--'

'And you shall hear it by-and-by, when I know what it is myself.'

'I'd not say I would have believed it the more if that fine gentleman
had taken his oath of it--a fellow that ain't to be trusted,' observed
the Captain.

This might have led to a revelation, if Louis had had time to attend to
it; but he had pity on James's impatient misery, and proceeded to ask
the loan of the boat.  The tide would not, however, serve; and as
waiting till it would was not to be endured, the two cousins set off to
walk together through the woods, Louis beguiling the way by chaffing
James, as far as he would bear, with the idea of Isabel's name being
trifled with by the profane crowd.

He left James at the gate of the park, prowling about like a panther to
try for a glimpse of Isabel's window, and feeding his despair and
jealousy that Louis should boldly walk up to the door, while he, with
so much better a right, was excluded by his unguarded promise to Lady
Conway.

All the tumultuary emotions of his mind were endlessly repeated, and
many a slow and pealing note of the church-clock had added fuel to his
impatience, and spurred him to rush up to the door and claim his
rights, before Louis came bounding past the lodge-gates, flourishing
his cap, and crying, 'Hurrah, Jem!  All right!'

'I'm going to her at once!' cried Jem, beginning to rush off; but Louis
caught and imprisoned his arm.

'Not so fast, sir!  You are to see her.  I promise you shall see her if
you wish it, but it must be in my aunt's way.'

'Let me go, I say!'

'When I have walked five miles in your service, you won't afford me an
arm to help me back.  I am not a horse with wings, and I won't be
Cupid's post except on my own terms.  Come back.'

'I don't stir till I have heard the state of the case.'

'Yes, you do; for all the sportsmen will be coming home, and my aunt
would not for all the world that Mr. Mansell caught you on the
forbidden ground.'

'How can you give in to such shuffling nonsense!  If I am to claim
Isabel openly, why am I not to visit her openly?  You have yielded to
that woman's crooked policy.  I don't trust you!'

'When you are her son, you may manage her as you please.  Just now she
has us in her power, and can impose conditions.  Come on; and if you
are good, you shall hear.'

Drawing James along with him through the beechwood glades, he began,
'You would have been more insane still if you had guessed at my luck. I
found Isabel alone.  Mrs. Mansell had taken the girls to some juvenile
fete, and Delaford was discreet enough not to rouse my aunt from her
letters.  I augured well from the happy conjunction.'

'Go on; don't waste time in stuff.'

'Barkis is willing, then.  Is that enough to the point?'

'Fitzjocelyn, you never had any feelings yourself, and therefore you
trifle with those of others.'

'I beg your pardon.  It was a shame!  Jem, you may be proud.  She
trusts you completely, and whatever you think sufficient, she regards
as ample.'

'Like her!  Only too like her.  Such confidence makes one feel a
redoubled responsibility.'

'I thought I had found something at which you could not grumble.'

'How does she look?  How do they treat her?'

'Apparently they have not yet fed her on bread and water.  No;
seriously, I must confess that she looked uncommonly well and lovely!
Never mind, Jem; I verily believe that, in spite of absence and all
that, she had never been so happy in her life.  If any description
could convey the sweetness of voice and manner when she spoke of you! I
could not look in her face.  Those looks can only be for you.  We
talked it over, but she heeded no ways and means; it was enough that
you were satisfied.  She says the subject has never been broached since
the flight from Northwold, and that Lady Conway's kindness never
varies; and she told me she had little fear but that her dear mamma
would be prevailed on to give sanction enough to hinder her from
feeling as if she were doing wrong, or setting a bad example to her
sisters.  They know nothing of it; but Walter, who learnt it no one
knows how, draws the exemplary moral, that it serves his mother right
for inflicting a tutor on him.'

'Has she had my letter?  Does she know I am here?'

'Wait!  All this settled, and luncheon being ready, down came my Lady,
and we played unconsciousness to our best ability.  I must confess my
aunt beat us hollow!  Isabel then left us to our conference, which we
conducted with the gravity of a tailor and an old woman making a match
in Brittany.'

'You came out with that valuable improvable freehold, the Terrace, I
suppose?'

'I told the mere facts!  My aunt was rather grand about a
grammar-school; she said even a curacy would sound better, and she must
talk it over with Isabel.  I gave your letter, conjuring her to let
Isabel have it, and though she declared that it was no kindness, and
would put the poor darling into needless perplexity, she was touched
with my forbearance, in not having given it before, when I had such an
opportunity.  So she went away, and stayed a weary while: but when she
came, it was worth the waiting.  She said Isabel was old enough to know
her own mind, and the attachment being so strong, and you so
unexceptionable, she did not think it possible to object: she had great
delight in seeing you made happy, and fulfilling the dictates of her
own heart, now that it could be done with moderate prudence. They go to
Scarborough in a fortnight, and you will be welcome there. There's for
you!'

'Louis, you are the best fellow living!  But you said I was to see her
at once.'

'I asked, why wait for Scarborough?' and depicted you hovering
disconsolately round the precincts.  Never mind, Jem, I did not make
you more ridiculous than human nature must needs paint a lover, and it
was all to melt her heart.  I was starting off to fetch you, when I
found she was in great terror.  She had never told the Mansells of the
matter, and they must be prepared.  She cannot have it transpire while
she is in their house, and, in fact, is excessively afraid of Mr.
Mansell, and wants to tell her story by letter.  Now, I think,
considering all things, she has a right to take her own way.'

'You said I was not to go without meeting her!'

'I had assented, and was devising how to march off my lunatic quietly,
when the feminine goodnatured heart that is in her began to relent, and
she looked up in my face with a smile, and said the poor dears were
really exemplary, and if Isabel should walk to the beach and should
meet any one there, she need know nothing about it.'

'What says Isabel?'

'She held up her stately head, and thought it would be a better return
for Mr. Mansell's kindness to tell him herself before leaving
Beauchastel; but Lady Conway entreated her not to be hasty, and
protested that her fears were of Mr. Mansell's displeasure with her for
not having taken better care of her--she dreaded a break, and so
on,--till the end of it was, that though we agree that prudence would
carry us off to-morrow morning, yet her ladyship will look the other
way, if you happen to be on the southern beach at eleven o'clock
to-morrow morning.  I suppose you were very headlong and peremptory in
your note, for I could not imagine Isabel consenting to a secret tryste
even so authorized.'

'I never asked for any such thing!  I would not for worlds see her led
to do anything underhand.'

'She will honour you!  That's right, Jem!'

'Neither as a clergyman, nor as a Dynevor, can I consent to trick even
those who have no claim to her duty!'

'Neither as a gentleman, nor as a human creature,' added Louis, in the
same tone.  'Shall I go back and give your answer?'

'No; you are walking lame enough already.'

'No matter for that.'

'To tell you the truth, I can't stand your being with her again, while
I am made a fool of by that woman.  If I'm not to see her, I'll be off.
I'll send her a note; we will cross to Bickleypool, and start by the
mail-train this very night.'

Louis made no objection, and James hurried him into the little parlour,
where in ten minutes the note was dashed off:--


My Own Most Precious One!--(as, thanks to my most unselfish of cousins,
I may dare to call you,)--I regret my fervency and urgency for an
interview, since it led you to think I could purchase even such
happiness by a subterfuge unworthy of my calling, and an ill return of
the hospitality to which we owed our first meeting.  We will meet when
I claim you in the face of day, without the sense of stolen felicity,
which is a charm to common-place minds.  My glory is in the assurance
that you understand my letter, approve, and are relieved.  With such
sanction, and with ardour before you like mine, I see that you could do
no other than consent, and there is not a shadow of censure in my mind;
but if, without compromising your sense of obedience, you could openly
avow our engagement to Mr. Mansell, I own that I should feel that we
were not drawn into a compromise of sincerity.  What this costs me I
will not say; it will be bare existence till we meet at Scarborough.

                                       'Your own, J. E. F. D.'


Having written this and deposited it in the Ebbscreek post-office,
James bethought himself that his submissive cousin had thrown himself
on the floor, with his bag for a pillow, trying to make the most of the
few moments of rest before the midnight journey.  Seized with
compunction, James exclaimed, 'There, old fellow, we will stay
to-night.'

'Thank you--' He was too sleepy for more.

The delay was recompensed.  James was trying to persuade Louis to rouse
himself to be revived by bread-and-cheese and beer, and could extort
nothing but a drowsy repetition of the rhyme, in old days the war-cry
of the Grammar-school against the present headmaster,--

     'The Welshman had liked to be choked by a mouse,
      But he pulled him out by the tail,'--

when an alarum came in the shape of a little grinning boy from
Beauchastel, with a note on which James had nearly laid hands, as he
saw the writing, though the address was to the Viscount Fitzjocelyn.

'You may have it,' said Louis.  'If anything were wanting, the
coincidence proves that you were cut out for one another.  I rejoice
that the moon does not stoop from her sphere.'


'My Dear Cousin,--I trust to you to prevent Mr. F. Dynevor from being
hurt or disappointed; and, indeed, I scarcely think he will, though I
should not avail myself of the permission for meeting him so kindly
intended.  I saw at once that you felt as I did, and as I know he will.
He would not like me to have cause to blush before my kind friends--to
know that I had acted a deceit, nor to set an example to my sisters for
which they might not understand the justification.  I know that you
will obtain my pardon, if needed; and to be assured of it, would be all
that would be required to complete the grateful happiness of

             'Isabel.'


The boy had orders not to wait; and these being seconded by fears of
something that 'walked' in Ebbscreek wood after dark, he was gone
before an answer could be thought of.  It mattered the less, since
Isabel must receive James's note early in the morning; and so, in fact,
she did--and she was blushing over it, and feeling as if she could
never have borne to meet his eye but for the part she had fortunately
taken, when Louisa tapped at her door, with a message that Mr. Mansell
wished to speak with her, if she were ready.

She went down-stairs still in a glow; and her old friend's first words
were a compliment on her roses, so pointed, that she doubted for a
moment whether he did not think them suspicious, especially as he put
his hands behind his back, and paced up and down the room, for some
moments.  He then came towards her, and said, in a very kind tone,
'Isabel, my dear, I sent for you first, because I knew your own mother
very well, my dear; and though Lady Conway is very kind, and has always
done you justice,--that I will always say for her,--yet there are times
when it may make a difference to a young woman whether she has her own
mother or not.'

Isabel's heart was beating.  She was certain that some discovery had
been made, and longed to explain; but she was wise enough not to speak
in haste, and waited to see how the old gentleman would finally break
it to her.  He blundered on a little longer, becoming more confused and
distressed every minute, and at last came to the point abruptly.  'In
short, Isabel, my dear, what can you have done to set people saying
that you have been corresponding with the young men at Ebbscreek?'

'I sent a note to my cousin Fitzjocelyn last night,' said Isabel, with
such calmness, that the old gentleman fairly stood with his mouth open,
looking at her aghast.

'Fitzjocelyn!  Then it is Fitzjocelyn, is it?' he exclaimed.  'Then,
why could he not set about it openly and honourably?  Does his father
object?  I would not have thought it of you, Isabel, nor of the lad
neither!'

'You need not think it, dear Mr. Mansell.  There is nothing between
Lord Fitzjocelyn and myself but the warmest friendship.'

'Isabel!  Isabel! why are you making mysteries?  I do not wish to pry
into your affairs.  I would have trusted you anywhere; but when it
comes round to me that you have been sending a private messenger to one
of the young gentlemen there, I don't know what to be at!  I would not
believe Mrs. Mansell at first; but I saw the boy, and he said you had
sent him yourself.  My dear, you may mean, very rightly--I am sure you
do, but you must not set people talking!  It is not acting rightly by
me, Isabel; but I would not care for that, if it were acting rightly by
yourself.'  And he gazed at her with a piteous, perplexed expression.

'Let me call mamma,' said Isabel.

'As you will, my dear, but cannot you let the simple truth come out
between you and your own blood-relation, without all her words to come
between?  Can't you, Isabel?  I am sure you and I shall understand each
other.'

'That we shall,' replied Isabel, warmly.  'I have given her no promise.
Dear Mr. Mansell, I have wished all along that you should know that I
am engaged, with her full consent, to Mr. Frost Dynevor.'

'To the little black tutor!' cried Mr. Mansell, recoiling, but
recollecting himself.  'I beg your pardon, my dear, he may be a very
good man, but what becomes of all this scrambling over barricades with
the young Lord?'

Isabel described the true history of her engagement; and it was
received with a long, low whistle, by no means too complimentary.

'And what makes him come and hide in holes and corners, if this is all
with your mamma's good will?'

'Mamma thought you would be displeased; she insisted on taking her own
time for breaking it to you,' said Isabel.

'Was there ever a woman but must have her mystery?  Well, I should have
liked him better if he had not given into it!'

'He never did!' said Isabel, indignant enough to disclose in full the
whole arrangement made by Lady Conway's manoeuvres and lax good-nature.
'I knew it would never do,' she added, 'though I could not say so
before her and Fitzjocelyn.  My note was to tell them so: and look
here, Mr. Mansell, this is what Mr. Dynevor had already written before
receiving mine.'

She held it out proudly; and Mr. Mansell, making an unwilling sound
between his teeth, took it from her; but, as he read, his countenance
changed, and he exclaimed, 'Ha! very well!  This is something like! So
that's it, is it?  You and he would not combine to cheat the old man,
like a pair of lovers in a trumpery novel!'

'No, indeed!' said Isabel, 'that would be a bad way of beginning.'

'Where is the young fellow?--at Ebbscreek, did you say?  I'll tell you
what, Isabel,' with his hand on the bell, 'I'll have out the dogcart
this minute, and fetch him home to breakfast, to meet my Lady when she
comes down stairs, if it be only for the sake of showing that I like
plain dealing!'

'Isabel could only blush, smile, look doubtful, and yet so very happy
and grateful, that Mr. Mansell became cautious, lest his impulse should
have carried him too far, and, after having ordered the vehicle to be
prepared, he caught her by the hand, and detained her, saying, 'Mind
you, Miss, you are not to take this for over-much.  I'm afraid it is a
silly business, and I did not want you to throw yourself away on a
schoolmaster.  I must see and talk to the man myself; but I won't have
anything that's not open and above-board, and that my Lady shall see
for once in her life!'

'I'm not afraid,' said Isabel, smiling.  'James will make his own way
with you.'

Isabel ran away to excuse and explain her confession to Lady Conway;
while Mr. Mansell indulged in another whistle, and then went to inform
his wife that he was afraid the girl had been making a fool of herself;
but it was not Lady Conway's fault that she was nothing worse, and he
was resolved, whatever he did, to show that honesty was the only thing
that would go down with him.

The boat was rocking on the green waves, and Louis was in the act of
waving an adieu to deaf Mrs. Hannaford, when a huntsman's halloo caused
James to look round and behold Mr. Mansell standing up in his dogcart,
making energetic signals with his whip.

He had meant to be very guarded, and wait to judge of James before
showing that he approved, but the excitement of the chase betrayed him
into a glow of cordiality, and he shook hands with vehemence.

'That's right!--just in time!  Jump in, and come home to breakfast. So
you wouldn't be a party to my Lady's tricks!--just like her--just as
she wheedled poor Conway.  I will let her see how I esteem plain
dealing!  I don't say that I see my way through this business; but
we'll talk it over together, and settle matters without my Lady.'

James hardly knew where he was, between joy and surprise.  The
invitation was extended to his companion; but Fitzjocelyn discerned
that both James and Mr. Mansell would prefer being left to themselves;
he had a repugnance to an immediate discussion with the one aunt, and
was in haste to carry the tidings to the other: and besides, it was
becoming possible that letters might arrive from the travellers.
Actuated by all these motives, he declined the offer of hospitality,
and rowed across to Bickleypool, enlightening the Captain on the state
of affairs as far as he desired.



CHAPTER II.

THE THIRD TIME.

  Tho' this was fair, and that was braw,
    And you the toast of all the town,
  I sighed and said, amang them a',
    Ye are not Mary Morison.
                            BURNS.


Mrs. Frost and Louis were very merry over the result of Lady Conway's
stratagems, and sat up indulging in bright anticipations until so late
an hour, that Louis was compelled to relinquish his purpose of going
home that night, but he persisted in walking to Ormersfield before
breakfast, that he might satisfy himself whether there were any letters.

It was a brisk October morning, the sportsman's gun and whistle
re-echoing from the hill sides; where here and there appeared the dogs
careering along over green turnip-fields or across amber stubble. The
Little Northwold trees, in dark, sober tints of brown and purple, hung
over the grey wall, tinted by hoary lichen; and as Louis entered the
Ormersfield field paths, and plunged into his own Ferny dell, the long
grass and brackens hung over the path, weighed down with silvery dew,
and the large cavernous web of the autumnal spider was all one thick
flake of wet.

If he could not enter the ravine without thankfulness for his past
escape, neither could he forget gratitude to her who had come to his
relief from hopeless agony!  He quickened his pace, in the earnest
longing for tidings, which had seized him, even to heart sickness.

It was the reaction of the ardour and excitement that had so long
possessed him.  The victory had been gained--he had been obliged to
leave James to work in his own cause, and would be no longer wanted in
the same manner by his cousin.  The sense of loneliness, and of the
want of an object, came strongly upon him as he walked through the prim
old solitary garden, and looked up at the dreary windows of the house,
almost reluctant to enter, as long as it was without Mary's own serene
atmosphere of sympathy and good sense, her precious offices of love,
her clear steady eyes, even in babyhood his trustworthy counsellors.

Was it a delusion of fancy, acting on reflections in the glass, that,
as he mounted the steps from the lawn, depicted Mary's figure through
the dining-room windows?  Nay, the table was really laid for
breakfast--a female figure was actually standing over the tea-chest.

'A scene from the Vicar of Wakefield deluding me,' decided Louis,
advancing to the third window, which was open.

It was Mary Ponsonby.

'Mary!'

'You here?--They said you were not at home!'

'My father!--Where?'

'He is not come down.  He is as well as possible.  We came at eleven
last night.  I found I was not wanted,' added Mary, with a degree of
agitation, that made him conclude that she had lost her father.

One step he made to find the Earl, but too much excited to move away or
to stand still, he came towards her, wrung her hand in a more real way
than in his first bewildered surprise, and exclaimed in transport, 'O
Mary! Mary! to have you back again!' then, remembering his inference,
added, low and gravely, 'It makes me selfish--I was not thinking of
your grief.'

'Never mind,' said Mary, smiling, though her eyes overflowed, 'I must
be glad to be at home again, and such a welcome as this--'

'O Mary, Mary!' he cried, nearly beside himself, 'I have not known what
to do without you!  You will believe it now, won't you?'--oh, won't
you?'

Mary would have been a wonderful person had she not instantly and
utterly forgotten all her conclusions from Frampton's having declared
him gone to Beauchastel for an unlimited time; but all she did was to
turn away her crimson tearful face, and reply, 'Your father would not
wish it now.'

'Then the speculations have failed?  So much the better!'

'No, no! he must tell you--'

She was trying to withdraw her hand, when Lord Ormersfield opened the
door, and in the moment of his amazed 'Louis!' Mary had fled.

'What is it? oh! what is it, father? cried Louis for all greeting, 'why
can she say you would not wish it now?'

'Wish it? wish what?' asked the Earl, without the intuitive perception
of the meaning of the pronoun.

'What you have always wished--Mary and me--What is the only happiness
that life can offer me!'

'If I wished it a year ago, I could only wish it the more now,' said
the Earl.  'But how is this?--I fully believed you committed to Miss
Conway.'

'Miss Conway!  Miss Conway!' burst out Louis, in a frenzy.  'Because
Jem Frost was in love with her himself, he fancied every one else must
be the same, and now he will be married to her before Christmas, so
that's disposed of.  As to my feeling for her a particle, a shred of
what I do for Mary, it was a mere fiction--a romance, an impossibility.'

'I do not understand you, Louis. Why did you not find this out before?'

'Mrs. Ponsonby called it my duty to test my feelings, and I have tested
them.  That one is a beautiful poet's dream.  Mary is a woman, the only
woman I can ever love.  Not an hour but I have felt it, and now,
father, what does she mean?'

'She means, poor girl, what only her own scrupulous delicacy could
regard as an objection, but what renders me still more desirous to have
a right to protect her.  The cause of our return--'

'How?  I thought her father was dead.'

'Far worse.  At Valparaiso we met Robson, the confidential agent.  I
learnt from him that Mr. Ponsonby had hardly waited for her mother's
death to marry a Limenian, a person whom everything pointed out as
unfit to associate with his daughter.  Even Robson, cautious as he was,
said he could not undertake to recommend Miss Ponsonby to continue her
journey.'

'And this was all?' exclaimed Louis, too intent on his own views for
anything but relief.

'All?  Is it not enough to set her free?  She acquiesced in my judgment
that she could do no otherwise than return.  She wrote to her father,
and I sent three lines to inform him that, under the circumstances, I
fulfilled my promise to her mother by taking her home.  I had nearly
made her promise that, should we find you about to form an
establishment of your own, she would consider herself as my child;
but--'

'Oh, father! how shall we make her believe you care nothing for her
scruple?  The wretched man!  But--oh! where is she?'

'It does not amount to a scruple in her case,' deliberately resumed the
Earl.  'I always knew what Ponsonby was, and nothing from him could
surprise me--even such an outrage on feeling and decency. Besides, he
has effectually shut himself out of society, and degraded himself
beyond the power of interfering with you.  For the rest, Mary is
already, in feeling, so entirely my child, that to have the right to
call her so has always been my fondest wish.  And, Louis, the months I
have spent with her have not diminished my regard.  My Mary! she will
have a happier lot than her mother!'

The end of the speech rewarded Louis for the conflict by which he had
kept himself still to listen to the beginning.  Lord Ormersfield had
pity on him, and went in search of Mary; while he, remembering former
passages, felt that his father might be less startling and more
persuasive, but began to understand what James must have suffered in
committing his affairs to another.

The Earl found Mary in what had been her mother's sitting-room,
striving to brace her resolution by recalling the conversation that had
taken place there on a like occasion.  But alas! how much more the
heart had now to say!  How much it felt as if the only shelter or rest
in the desolate world was in the light of the blue eyes whose tender
sunshine had been on her for one instant!

Yet she began firmly--'If you please, would you be so kind as to let me
go to Aunt Melicent?'

'By-and-by, my dear, when you think fit.'

'Oh, then, at once, and without seeing any one, please!'

'Nay, Mary,' with redoubled gentleness, 'there is one who cannot let
you go without seeing him.  Mary, you will not disappoint my poor boy
again.  You will let him be an amendment in my scheme.'

'You have been always most kind to me, but you cannot really like this.'

'You forget that it has been my most ardent wish from the moment I saw
you what only your mother's child could be.'

'That was before-- No, I ought not!  Yours is not a family to bring
disgrace into.'

'I cannot allow you to speak thus.  I knew your trials at home when
first I wished you to be my son's wife, and my opinion is unchanged,
except by my increased wish to have the first claim to you.'

'Lord Ormersfield,' said Mary, collecting herself 'only one thing. Tell
me, as if we were indifferent persons, is this a connexion such as
would do Louis any harm?  I trust you to answer.'

He paced along the room, and she tried to control her trembling.  He
came back and spoke: No, Mary.  If he were a stranger, I should give
the same advice.  Your father's own family is unexceptionable; and
those kind of things, so far off--few will ever hear of them, and no
one will attach consequence to them.  If that be your only scruple, it
does you infinite credit; but I can entirely remove it.  What might be
an injury to you, single, would be of comparatively little importance
to him.'

'Miss Conway,' faltered Mary, who could never remember her, when in
Louis's presence.

'A mere delusion, of our own.  There was nothing in it.  He calls you
the only woman who can make him happy, as I always knew you were.  He
must explain all.  You will come to him, my dear child.'

Mary resisted no more; he led her down stairs, and left her within the
dining-room door.

'Mary, you will now--' was all Louis said; but she let him draw her
into his arms, and she rested against his breast, as when he had come
to comfort her in the great thunderstorm in auld lang-syne.  She felt
herself come at length to the shelter and repose for which her heart
had so long yearned, in spite of her efforts, and as if the world had
nothing more to offer of peace or joy.

'Oh, Mary, how I have wanted you!  You believe in me now!'

'I am sure mamma would!' murmured Mary.

He could have poured forth a torrent of affection, but the suspicion of
a footstep made her start from him; and the next moment she was
herself, glowing, indeed, and half crying with happiness, but alarmed
at her own agitation, and struggling to resume her common-place manner.

'There's your father not had a morsel of breakfast!' she exclaimed,
hurrying back to her teacups, whose ringing betrayed her trembling
hand.  'Call him, Louis.'

'Must I go?' said Louis, coming to assist in a manner that threatened
deluge and destruction.

'Oh yes, go!  I shall be able to speak to you when you come back.'

He had only to go into the verandah.  His father was watching at the
library window, and they wrung each other's hand in gladness beyond
utterance.

Mary had seated herself in the solid stately chair, with the whole
entrenchment of tea equipage before her.  They knew it signified that
she was to be unmolested; they took their places, and the Earl carved
ham, and Louis cut bread, and Mary poured out tea in the most
matter-of-fact manner, hazarding nothing beyond such questions as, 'May
I give you an egg?'

Then curiosity began to revive: Louis ventured, 'Where did you land?'
and his father made answer, 'At Liverpool, yesterday,' and how the
Custom-house had detained them, and he had, therefore, brought Mary
straight home, instead of stopping with her at Northwold, at eleven
o'clock, to disturb Mrs. Frost.

'You would have found us up,' said Louis.

'You were sleeping at the Terrace?'

'Yes, I walked here this morning.'

'Then your ankle must be pretty well,' was Mary's first contribution to
the conversation.

'Quite well for all useful purposes,' said Louis, availing himself of
the implied permission to turn towards her.

'But, Louis,' suddenly exclaimed the Earl, 'did you not tell me
something extraordinary about James Frost?  Whom did you say he was
going to marry?'

'Isabel Conway.'

Never was his love of electrifying more fully gratified!  Lord
Ormersfield was surprised into an emphatic interjection, and inquiry
whether they were all gone mad.

'Not that I am aware of,' said Louis.  'Perhaps you have not heard that
Mr. Lester is going to retire, and Jem has the school?'

'Then, it must be Calcott and the trustees who are out of their senses.'

'Do you not consider it an excellent appointment?'

'It might be so some years hence,' said the Earl.  'I am afraid it will
tie him down to a second-rate affair, when he might be doing better;
and the choice is the last thing I should have expected from Calcott.'

'He opposed it.  He wanted to bring in a very ordinary style of person,
from ---- School, but Jem's superiority and the general esteem for my
aunt carried the day.'

'What did Ramsbotham and his set do?'

'They were better than could have been hoped; they gave us their votes
when they found their man could not get in.'

'Ha?  As long as that fellow is against Calcott, he cares little whom
he supports.  I am sorry that Calcott should be defeated, even for
James's sake.  How did Richardson vote?'

'He was doubtful at first, but I brought him over.'

Lord Ormersfield gave a quick, searching glance as he said,' James
Frost did not make use of our interest in this matter.'

'Jem never did.  He and my aunt held back, and were unwilling to oppose
the Squire.  They would have given it up, but for me.  Father, I never
supposed you could be averse to my doing my utmost for Jem, when all
his prospects were at stake.'

'I should have imagined that James was too well aware of my sentiments
to allow it.'

What a cloud on the happy morning!

Louis eagerly exclaimed: 'James is the last person to be blamed!  He
and my aunt were always trying to stop me, but I would not listen to
their scruples.  I knew his happiness depended on his success, and I
worked for him, in spite of himself.  If I did wrong, I can only be
very sorry; but I cannot readily believe that I transgressed by setting
the question before people in a right light.  Only, whose fault soever
it was, it was not Jem's.'

Lord Ormersfield had not the heart to see one error in his son on such
a day as this, more especially as Mary peeped out behind the urn to
judge of his countenance, and he met her pleading eyes, swimming in
tears.

'No, I find no fault,' he kindly said.  'Young, ardent spirits may be
excused for outrunning the bounds that their elders might impose. But
you have not removed my amazement.  James intending to marry on the
grammar-school!--it cannot be worth 300 pounds a year.'

'Isabel is satisfied.  She never desired anything but a quiet, simple,
useful life.'

'Your Aunt Catharine delighted, of course?  No doubt of that; but what
has come to Lady Conway?'

'She cannot help it, and makes the best of it.  She gave us very little
trouble.'

'Ah! her own daughter is growing up,' said the Earl, significantly.

'Isabel is very fond of Northwold,' said Mary, feeling that Louis was
wanting her sympathy.  'She used to wish she could settle there--with
how little consciousness!'

'If I had to judge in such a case,' said Lord Ormersfield,
thoughtfully, 'I should hesitate to risk a woman's happiness with a
temper such as that of James Frost.'

'Oh, father!' cried Louis, indignantly.

'I suspect,' said Lord Ormersfield, smiling, 'that of late years,
James's temper has been more often displayed towards me than towards
you.'

'A certain proof how safe his wife will be,' returned Louis.

His father shook his head, and looking from one to the other of the
young people, congratulated himself that here, at least, there were no
perils of that description.  He asked how long the attachment had
existed.

'From the moment of first sight,' said Louis; 'the fine spark was
lighted on the Euston Square platform; and it was not much later with
her.  He filled up her beau ideal of goodness--'

'And, in effect, all Lady Conway's pursuit of you threw them together,'
said Lord Ormersfield, much entertained.

'Lady Conway has been their very best friend, without intending it. It
would not have come to a crisis by this time, if she had not taken me
to Paris.  It would have been a pity if the catastrophe of the
barricades had been all for nothing.'

Lord Ormersfield and Mary here broke out in amazement at themselves,
for having hitherto been oblivious of the intelligence that had greeted
them on their first arrival, when Frampton had informed them of Lord
Fitzjocelyn's wound and gallant conduct, and his father had listened to
the story like the fastening of a rivet in Miss Conway's chains, and
Mary with a flush of unselfish pride that Isabel had been taught to
value her hero.  They both claimed the true and detailed account, as if
they had hitherto been defrauded of it, and insisted on hearing what
had happened to him.

'I dare say you know best,' said Louis, lazily.  'I have heard so many
different accounts of late, that I really am beginning to forget which
is the right one, and rather incline to the belief that Delaford
brought a rescue or two with his revolver, and carried us into a
fortress where my aunt had secured the windows with feather-beds--'

'You had better make haste and tell, that the true edition may be
preserved,' said Mary, rallying her spirits in her eagerness.

'I have begun to understand why there never yet has been an authentic
account of a great battle,' said Louis.  'Life would make me coincide
with Sir Robert Walpole's judgment on history.  All I am clear about
is, that even a Red Republican is less red than he is painted; that
Isabel Conway is fit to visit the sentinels in a beleaguered castle--a
noble being-- But oh, Mary! did I not long sorely after you when it
came to the wounded knight part of the affair!  I am more sure of that
than of anything else!'

Mary blushed, but her tender heart was chiefly caring to know how much
he had been hurt, and so the whole story was unfolded by due
questioning; and the Earl had full and secret enjoyment of the signal
defeat of his dear sister-in-law, the one satisfaction on which every
one seemed agreed.

It was a melancholy certainty that Mary must go to Mrs. Frost, but the
Earl deferred the moment by sending the carriage with an entreaty that
she would come herself to fetch her guest.  Mary talked of writing a
note; but the autumn sun shone cheerily on the steps, and Louis wiled
her into seating herself on the upper step, while he reclined on the
lower ones, as they had so often been placed when this was his only way
of enjoying the air.  The sky was clear, the air had the still calm of
autumn, the evergreens and the yellow-fringed elms did not stir a
leaf--only a large heavy yellow plane leaf now and then detached itself
by its own weight and silently floated downwards.  Mary sat, without
wishing to utter a word to disturb the unwonted tranquillity, the rest
so precious after her months of sea-voyage, her journey, her
agitations.  But Louis wanted her seal of approval to all his past
doings, and soon began on their inner and deeper story, ending with,
'Tell me whether you think I was right, my own dear governess--'

'Oh no, you must never call me that any more.'

'It is a name belonging to my happiest days.'

'It was only in play.  It reverses the order of things.  I must look up
to you.'

'If you can!' said Louis, playfully, slipping down to a lower step.

A tear burst out as Mary said, 'Mamma said it must never be that way.'
Then recovering, she added, 'I beg your pardon, Louis; I was treating
it as earnest.  I think I am not quite myself to-day, I will go to my
room!'

'No, no, don't,' he said; 'I will not harass you with my gladness,
dearest.'  He stepped in-doors, brought out a book, and when Mrs. Frost
arrived to congratulate and be congratulated, she found Mary still on
the step, gazing on without seeing the trees and flowers, listening
without attending to the rich, soothing flow of Lope de Vega's
beautiful devotional sonnets, in majestic Spanish, in Louis's low,
sweet voice.



CHAPTER III.

MISTS.

  Therefore thine eye through mist of many days
    Shines bright; and beauty, like a lingering rose,
  Sits on thy cheek, and in thy laughter plays;
    While wintry frosts have fallen on thy foes,
  And, like a vale that breathes the western sky,
  Thy heart is green, though summer is gone by.
                                      F. TENNYSON.


Happy Aunt Kitty!--the centre, the confidante of so much love! Perhaps
her enjoyment was the most keen and pure of all, because the most free
from self--the most devoid of those cares for the morrow, which, after
besetting middle life, often so desert old age as to render it as free
and fresh as childhood.  She had known the worst: she had been borne
through by heart-whole faith and love, she had seen how often frettings
for the future were vain, and experienced that anticipation is worse
than reality.  Where there was true affection and sound trust, she
could not, would not, and did not fear for those she loved.

James went backwards and forwards in stormy happiness.  He had come to
a comfortable understanding with old Mr. Mansell, who had treated him
with respect and cordiality from the first, giving him to understand
that Isabel's further expectations only amounted to a legacy of a
couple of thousands on his own death, and that meantime he had little
or no hope of helping him in his profession.  He spoke of Isabel's
expensive habits, and the danger of her finding it difficult to adapt
herself to a small income; and though, of course, he might as well have
talked to the wind as to either of the lovers, his remonstrance was so
evidently conscientious as not to be in the least offensive, and Mr.
Frost Dynevor was graciously pleased to accept him as a worthy relation.

All was smooth likewise with Lady Conway.  She and Mr. Mansell
outwardly appeared utterly unconscious of each other's proceedings,
remained on the most civil terms, and committed their comments and
explanations to Mrs. Mansell, who administered them according to her
own goodnatured, gossiping humour, and sided with whichever was
speaking to her.  There was in Lady Conway much kindness and
good-humour, always ready to find satisfaction in what was inevitable,
and willing to see all at ease and happy around her--a quality which
she shared with Louis, and which rendered her as warm and even
caressing to 'our dear James' as if he had been the most welcome suitor
in the world; and she often sincerely congratulated herself on the
acquisition of a sensible gentleman to consult on business, and so
excellent a brother for Walter.  It was not falsehood, it was real
amiability; and it was an infinite comfort in the courtship, especially
the courtship of a Pendragon.  As to the two young sisters, their
ecstasy was beyond description, only alloyed by the grief of losing
Isabel, and this greatly mitigated by schemes of visits to Northwold.

The marriage was fixed for the end of November, so as to give time for
a little tranquillity before the commencement of James's new duties.
As soon as this intelligence arrived, Mrs. Frost removed herself, Mary,
and her goods into the House Beautiful, that No. 5 might undergo the
renovations which, poor thing! had been planned twenty years since,
when poor Henry's increasing family and growing difficulties had
decided her that she could 'do without them' one year more.

'Even should Miss Conway not like to keep house with the old woman,'
said she, by way of persuading herself she had no such expectation, 'it
was her duty to keep the place in repair.'

That question was soon at rest: Isabel would be but too happy to be
allowed to share her home, and truly James would hardly have attached
himself to a woman who could not regard it as a privilege to be with
the noble old lady.  Clara was likewise to be taken home; Isabel
undertook to complete her education, and school and tuition were both
to be removed from the contemplation of the happy girl, whose letters
had become an unintelligible rhapsody of joy and affection.

Isabel had three thousand pounds of her own, which, with that valuable
freehold, Dynevor Terrace, James resolved should be settled on herself,
speaking of it with such solemn importance as to provoke the gravity of
those accustomed to deal with larger sums.  With the interest of her
fortune he meant to insure his life, that, as he told Louis, with
gratified prudence, there might be no repetition of his own case, and
his family might never be a burden on any one.

The income of the school, with their former well-husbanded means, was
affluence for the style to which he aspired; and his grandmother,
though her menus plaisirs had once doubled her present revenue,
regarded it as the same magnificent advance, and was ready to launch
into the extravagance of an additional servant, and of fitting up the
long-disused drawing-room, and the dining-parlour, hitherto called the
school-room, and kicked and hacked by thirty years of boys.  She and
Clara would betake themselves to their present little sitting-room, and
make the drawing-room pleasant and beautiful for the bride.

And in what a world of upholstery did not the dear old lady spend the
autumn months!  How surpassingly happy was Jane, and how communicative
about Cheveleigh! and how pleased and delighted in little Charlotte's
promotion!

And Charlotte!  She ought to have been happy, with her higher wages and
emancipation from the more unpleasant work, with the expectation of one
whom she admired so enthusiastically as Miss Conway, and, above all,
with the long, open-hearted, affectionate letter, which Miss Ponsonby
had put into her hand with so kind a smile.  Somehow, it made her do
nothing but cry; she felt unwilling to sit down and answer it; and, as
if it were out of perverseness, when she was in Mrs. Martha's very
house, and when there was so much to be done, she took the most violent
fit of novel-reading that had ever been known; and when engaged in
working or cleaning alone, chanted dismal ballads of the type of
'Alonzo the brave and the fair Imogens,' till Mrs. Martha declared that
she was just as bad as an old dumbledore, and not worth half so much.

One day, however, Miss Ponsonby called her into her room, to tell her
that a parcel was going to Lima, in case she wished to send anything by
it.  Miss Ponsonby spoke so kindly, and yet so delicately, and
Charlotte blushed and faltered, and felt that she must write now!

'I have been wishing to tell you, Charlotte,' added Mary, kindly, 'how
much we like Mr. Madison.  There were some very undesirable people
among the passengers, who might easily have led him astray; but the
captain and mate both spoke to Lord Ormersfield in the highest terms of
his behaviour.  He never missed attending prayers on the Sundays; and,
from all I could see, I do fully believe that he is a sincerely good,
religions man; and, if he keeps on as he has begun, I think you are
very happy in belonging to him.'

Charlotte only curtsied and thanked; but it was wonderful how those
kind, sympathizing words blew off at once the whole mists of nonsense
and fancy.  Tom was the sound, good, religious man to whom her heart
and her troth were given; the other was no such thing, a mere
flatterer, and she had known it all along.  She would never think of
him again, and she was sure he would not think of her.  Truth had
dispelled all the fancied sense of hypocrisy and double-dealing: she
sat down and wrote to Tom as if Delaford had never existed, and
forthwith returned to be herself again, at least for the present.

Poor Mary! she might speak cheerfully, but her despatches were made up
with a trembling heart.  Louis and Mary missed the security and
felicity that seemed so perfect with James and Isabel.  In the first
place, nothing could be fixed without further letters, although the
Earl had tried to persuade Mary that her father had virtually forfeited
all claim to her obedience, and that she ought to proceed as if in fact
an orphan, and secure herself from being harassed by him, by hastening
her marriage.  Of this she would not hear, and she was exceedingly
grateful to Louis for abstaining from pressing her, as well as for
writing to Mr. Ponsonby in terms against which no exception could be
taken.

Till secure of his consent, she would not consider her engagement as
more than conditional, nor consent to its being mentioned to any one.
If Isabel knew it, that was James's fault.   Even the Faithfull sisters
were kept in ignorance; and she trusted thus to diminish the wrong that
she felt her secrecy to be doing to Aunt Melicent, who was so much
vexed and annoyed at her return, that she dreaded exceedingly the
effect of the knowledge of her engagement.  Miss Ponsonby was convinced
that the news had been exaggerated, and insisted that but for Lord
Ormersfield's dislike, it would have been further sifted; and she wrote
to Mary to urge her coming to her to await the full tidings, instead of
delaying among her father's avowed enemies.

Mary settled this point by mentioning her promise to Mrs. Frost to
remain with her until her grandchildren should be with her; and Miss
Ponsonby's correspondence ceased after a dry, though still kind letter,
which did not make Mary more willing to bestow her confidence, but left
her feeling in her honest heart as if she were dealing insincerely by
Aunt Melicent.

The discretion and reserve rendered requisite by the concealment were
such as to be very tormenting even to so gentle a temper as that of
Louis, since they took from him all the privileges openly granted to
the cousin, and scarcely left him those of the friend.  She, on whose
arm he had leant all last summer, would not now walk with him without
an escort, and, even with Mrs. Frost beside her, shrank from
Ormersfield like forbidden ground.  Her lively, frank tone of playful
command had passed away; nay, she almost shrank from his confidence,
withheld her counsel, and discouraged his constant visits.  He could
not win from her one of her broad, fearless comments on his past
doings; and in his present business, the taking possession of
Inglewood, the choice of stock, and the appointment of a bailiff,
though she listened and sympathized, and answered questions, she
volunteered no opinions, ahe expressed no wishes, she would not come to
see.

Poor Louis was often mortified into doubts of his own ability to
interest or make her happy; but he was very patient.  If disappointed
one day, he was equally eager the next; he submitted obediently to her
restrictions, and was remorseful when he forgot or transgressed; and
they had real, soothing, comforting talks just often enough to be
tantalizing, and yet to convince him that all the other unsatisfactory
meetings and partings were either his own fault, or that of some
untoward circumstance.

He saw, as did the rest, that Mary's spirits had received a shock not
easily to be recovered.  The loss of her mother was weighing on her
more painfully than in the first excitement; and the step her father
had taken, insulting her mother, degrading himself, and rending away
her veil of filial honour, had exceedingly overwhelmed and depressed
her; while sorrow hung upon her with the greater permanence and
oppression from her strong self-control, and dislike to manifestation.

All this he well understood; and, reverent to her feeling, he laid
aside all trifling, and waited on her mood with the tenderest
watchfulness.  When she could bear it, they would dwell together on the
precious recollections of her mother; and sometimes she could even
speak of her father, and relate instances of his affection for herself,
and all his other redeeming traits of character; most thankful to Louis
for accepting him on her word, and never uttering one word of him which
she could wish unsaid.

What Louis did not see, was that the very force of her own affection
was what alarmed Mary, and caused her reserve.  To a mind used to
balance and regulation, any sensation so mighty and engrossing appeared
wrong; and repressed as her attachment had been, it was the more
absorbing now that he was all that was left to her.  Admiration,
honour, gratitude, old childish affection, and caressing elder-sisterly
protection, all flowed in one deep, strong current; but the very depth
made her diffident.  She could imagine the whole reciprocated, and she
feared to be importunate.  If the day was no better than a weary
turmoil, save when his voice was in her ear, his eyes wistfully bent on
her, the more carefully did she restrain all expression of hope of
seeing him to-morrow, lest she should be exacting and detain him from
projects of his own.  If it was pride and delight to her to watch his
graceful, agile figure spring on horseback, she would keep herself from
the window, lest he should feel oppressed by her pursuing him; and when
she found her advice sought after as his law, she did not venture to
proffer it.  She was uncomfortable in finding the rule committed to
her, and all the more because Lord Ormersfield, who had learnt to talk
to her so openly that she sometimes thought he confounded her with her
mother, used in all his schemes to appear to take it for granted that
she should share with him in the managing, consulting headship of the
house, leaving Louis as something to be cared for and petted like a
child, without a voice in their decisions.  These conversations used to
make her almost jealous on Louis's account, and painfully recall some
of her mother's apprehensions.

That was the real secret source of all her discomfort--namely, the
misgiving lest she had been too ready to follow the dictates of her own
heart.  Would her mother have been satisfied?  Had not her fondness and
her desolation prevailed, where, for Louis's own sake, she should have
held back!  Every time she felt herself the elder in heart, every time
she feared to have disappointed him, every time she saw that his
liveliness was repressed by her mournfulness, she feared that she was
letting him sacrifice himself.  And still more did she question her
conduct towards her father.  She had only gradually become aware of the
extent of the mutual aversion between him and the Earl; and Miss
Ponsonby's reproaches awakened her to the fear that she had too lightly
given credence to hostile evidence.  Her affection would fain have
justified him; and, forgetting the difficulties of personal
investigation in such a case, she blamed herself for having omitted
herself to question the confidential clerk, and having left all to Lord
Ormersfield, who, cool and wary as he ordinarily was, would be less
likely to palliate Mr. Ponsonby's errors than those of any other
person.  Her heart grew sick as she counted the weeks ere she could
hear from Lima.

None of her troubles were allowed to interfere with Mrs. Frost's peace.
Outwardly, she was cheerful and helpful; equable, though less lively.
Those carpets and curtains, tables and chairs, which were the grand
topics at the House Beautiful, were neither neglected nor treated with
resigned impatience.  Mary's taste, counsel, and needle did good
service; her hearty interest and consideration were given to the
often-turned volume of designs for bedsteads, sofas, and
window-curtains; and Miss Mercy herself had hardly so many resources
for making old furniture new.  Many of her happiest half-hours with
Louis were spent as she sewed the stiff slippery chintz, and he held
the curtain rings, while Aunt Catharine went to inspect the workmen,
and many a time were her cares forgotten, and her active spirits
resumed, while Louis acted carpenter under her directions, and
rectified errors of the workmen.  It might not be poetical, but the
French sky-blue paper, covered with silvery fern-leaves, that Louis
took such pains to procure, and the china door-handles that he brought
over in his pockets, and the great map which Mary pasted over the
obstinate spot of damp in the vestibule, were the occasions of the
greatest blitheness and merriment that they shared together.  Much did
they enjoy the prediction that James would not know his own house;
greatly did they delight in sowing surprises, and in obtaining Aunt
Catharine's never-failing start of well-pleased astonishment.  Each
wedding present was an event;--Mr. Mansell's piano, which disconcerted
all previous designs; Lord Ormersfield's handsome plate; and many a
minor gift from old scholars, delighted to find an occasion when an
offering would not be an offence.  Even Mr. Calcott gave a valuable
inkstand, in which Mrs. Frost and Louis beheld something of forgiveness.

Isabel had expressed a wish that Mary should be one of her bridesmaids.
A wedding was not the scene which poor Mary wished to witness at
present; but she saw Louis bent on having her with him, and would not
vex him by reluctance.  He had also prevailed on his father to be
present, though the Earl was much afraid of establishing a precedent,
and being asked to act the part of father on future contingencies.
There was only one bride, as he told Louis, whom he could ever wish to
give away.  However, that trouble was spared him by Mr. Mansell; but
still Louis would not let him off, on the plea that James's side of the
house should make as imposing a demonstration as possible.

Mrs. Frost was less manageable.  Though warmly invited by the Conways,
and fondly entreated by her grandson, she shook her head, and said she
was past those things, and that the old mother always stayed at home to
cook the wedding dinner.  She should hear all when Clara came home the
next day, and should be ready for the happy pair when they would return
for Christmas, after a brief stay at Thornton Conway, which Isabel
wished James to see, that he might share in all her old associations.

All the rest of the party journeyed to London on a November day; and,
in gaslight and gloom, they deposited Mary at her aunt's house in
Bryanston Square.

Gaslight was the staple of Hymen's torch the next morning.  London was
under one of the fogs, of which it is popularly said you may cut them
with a knife.  The church was in dim twilight; the bride and bridegroom
loomed through the haze, and the indistinctness made Clara's fine tall
figure appear quite majestic above the heads of the other bridesmaids.

The breakfast was by lamp-light, and the mist looked lurid and grim
over the white cake, and no one talked of anything but the comparative
density of fogs; and Mr. Mansell's asthma had come on, and his speech
was devolved upon Lord Ormersfield, to whom Louis had imprudently
promised exemption.

What was worse, Lady Conway had paired them off in the order of
precedence; and Louis was a victim to two dowagers, between whom he
could neither see nor speak to Mary.  He was the more concerned,
because he had thought her looking depressed and avoiding his eye.

He tried to believe this caution, but he thought she was also eluding
his father, and her whole air gave him a vague uneasiness.  The whole
party were to dine with Lady Conway; and, trusting in the meantime to
discover what was on her spirits, he tried to resign himself to the
order of the day, without a farther glimpse of her.

When the married pair took leave, Walter gave his sister a great hug,
but had no perception of his office of handing her downstairs; and it
was Fitzjocelyn who gave her his arm, and put her into the carriage,
with an augury that the weather would be beautiful when once they had
left the fog in London.

She smiled dreamily, and repeated, 'beautiful,' as though all were so
beautiful already to her that she did not so much as perceive the fog.

James pressed his hand, saying, 'I am glad you are to be the one to be
happy next.'

'You do not look so,' said Clara, earnestly.

The two sisters had come partly downstairs, but their London habits had
restrained them from following to the street-door, as Clara had done;
and now they had rushed up again, while Clara, with one foot on the
staircase, looked in her cousin's face, as he tried to smile in answer,
and repeated, 'Louis, I hoped you were quite happy.'

'I am,' said Louis, quickly.

'Then why do you look so grave and uneasy?'

'Louis!' said an entreating voice above, and there stood Mary--'Pray
say nothing, but call a cab for me, please.  No, I am not ill--indeed,
I am not--but I cannot stay!'

'You look ill!  It has been too much for you!  Clara, take her--let her
lie down quietly,' cried Louis, springing to her side.

'Oh no, thank you-no,' said Mary, decidedly, though very low; 'I told
Lady Conway that I could not stay.  I settled it with Aunt Melicent.'

'That aunt of yours--'

'Hush!  No, it is for my own sake--my own doing.  I cannot bear it any
longer!  Please let me go!'

'Then I will take you.  I saw the brougham waiting.  We will go quietly
together.'

'No, that must not be.'

'I was thoughtless in urging you to come.  The turmoil has been too
much.  My poor Mary!  That is what comes of doing what I like instead
of what you like.  Why don't you always have your own way?  Let me
come; nay, if you will not, at least let Clara go with you, and come
back.'

Mary roused herself at last to speak, as she moved downstairs--'You
need not think of me; there is nothing the matter with me.  I promised
Aunt Melicent to come home.  She is very kind--it is not that.'

'You must not tell me not to think.  I shall come to inquire.  I shall
be with you the first thing tomorrow.'

'Yes, you must come to-morrow,' said Mary, in a tone he could not
interpret, and a tight lingering grasp on his hand, as he put her into
his father's carriage.

He stood hesitating for a moment as it drove off; then, instead of
entering the house, walked off quickly in the same direction.

Clara had stood all the time like a statue on the stairs, waiting to
see if she were wanted, and gazing intently, with her fingers clasped.
When both were gone she drew a long breath, and nodded with her head,
whispering to herself, in a grave and critical voice--'That is love!'

She did not see Fitzjocelyn again till nearly dinner-time; and, as he
caught her anxious interrogating eye, he came to her and said, very
low, 'I was not let in; Miss Ponsonby was engaged.  Miss Mary lying
down--I believe they never told her I was there.'

'It is all that aunt--horrid woman!'

'Don't talk of it now.  I _will_ see her to-morrow.'

Clara grieved for him whenever she saw him called on to exert himself
to talk; and she even guarded him from the sallies of his young
cousins.  Once, when much music and talk was going on, he came and sat
by her, and made her tell him how fondly and affectionately she had
parted with her schoolfellows; and how some of her old foes had become,
as she hoped, friends for life; but she saw his eye fixed and absent
even while she spoke, and she left off suddenly.  'Go on,' he said, 'I
like to hear;' and with a manifest effort he bent his mind to attend.

'Oh!' thought Clara, as she went up that night--'why will the days one
most expects to be happy turn out so much otherwise?  However, he will
manage to tell me all about it when he and his father take me home
to-morrow.'



CHAPTER IV.

OUTWARD BOUND.

  The voice which I did more esteem
    Than music in her sweetest key--
  Those eyes which unto me did seem
    More comfortable than the day--
  Those now by me, as they have been,
  Shall never more be heard or seen.
                              GEORGE WITHER.


In suspense and impatience, Fitzjocelyn awaited the end of his father's
breakfast, that he might hasten to learn what ailed Mary. The post came
in, vexing him at first merely as an additional delay, but presently a
sound of dissatisfaction attracted his notice to the foreign air of two
envelopes which had been forwarded from home.

'Hem!' said the Earl, gravely, 'I am afraid this fellow Ponsonby will
give us some trouble.'

'Then Mary had heard from him!' cried Louis.  'She was keeping it from
me, not to spoil the day.  I must go to her this moment--'but pausing
again, 'What is it?  He cannot have had my letter!'

'No, but he seems to have anticipated it.  Puffed up as they are about
these speculations, he imagines me to have brought Mary home for no
purpose but to repair our fortunes; and informs me that, in the event
of your marriage, she will receive not a farthing beyond her mother's
settlements.  I am much obliged!  It is all I ever thought you would
receive; and but for me, it would have been in the bottom of some mine
long ago!  Do you wish to see what he says?'

Louis caught up the missive.  It was the letter of a very angry man,
too violent to retain the cold formality which he tried to assume. 'He
was beholden to his lordship for his solicitude about his daughter.  It
was of a piece with other assistance formerly rendered to him in his
domestic arrangements, for which he was equally obliged.  He was happy
to inform his lordship that, in this instance, his precautions had been
uncalled for; and referred him to a letter which he would receive from
Mr. Dynevor by the same mail, for an explanation of the circumstances
to which he referred.  He had been informed, by undoubted authority,
that Lord Fitzjocelyn had done his daughter the honour of soliciting
her hand.  It might console his lordship to learn that, should the
union take place, the whole of his property would be secured to Mrs.
Ponsonby, and his daughter's sole fortune would be that which she
inherited by her mother's marriage settlements.  Possibly this
intelligence might lead to a cessation of these flattering attentions.'

'Mrs. Ponsonby! he can mention her in the same sentence with Mary's
mother!' said the Earl.

Louis turned pale as he read, and scarcely breathed as he looked up at
his father, dreading that he might so resent the studied affronts as to
wish to break off the connexion, and that he might have him likewise to
contend with; but on that score he was set at rest.  The Earl replied
to his exclamation of angry dismay, 'It is little more than I looked
for.  It is not the first letter I have had from him. I find he has
some just cause for offence.  The marriage is less disgraceful than I
had been led to believe.  Here is Oliver Dynevor's testimony.'

Oliver Dynevor's was a succinct business-like letter, certifying his
cousin that he had been mistaken in his view of the marriage.  Dona
Rosita de Guzman was an orphan of a very respectable family, who had
come to spend the year before her intended noviciate at the house of an
uncle.  She was very young, and Mr. Dynevor believed that the marriage
had been hastened by her relations making her feel herself unwelcome,
and her own reluctance to return to her convent, and that she might not
be aware how very recently Mr. Ponsonby had become a widower.  For his
own part, he was little used to ladies' society, and could form no
judgment of the bride; but he could assure Lord Ormersfield that she
had been guilty of no impropriety; she was visited by every one; and
that there was no reason against Mary Ponsonby associating with her.

'What could the clerk be thinking of?' exclaimed Louis.

'My first impression was not taken from the clerk.  What I heard first,
and in the strongest terms, was from the captain of a ship at
Valparaiso.  In fact, it was in the mouth of all who had known the
family.  Robson neither confirmed nor contradicted, and gave me the
notion of withholding much from regard for his employer.  He lamented
the precipitation, but seemed willing to make excuses.  He distinctly
said, he would not take it on himself to recommend Miss Ponsonby's
continuing her journey.  He was right.  If I had known all this, I
should still have brought her home.  I must write an apology, as far as
her character is concerned; but, be that as it may, the marriage is
atrocious--an insult--a  disgrace!  He could not have waited six
weeks--'

'But I must go to Mary!' cried Louis, as though reproaching himself for
the delay.  'Oh! that she should have forced herself to that wedding,
and spared me!'

'I am coming with you,' said the Earl.  'She will require my personal
assurance that all this makes no difference to me.'

'I am more afraid of the difference it may make to her,' said Louis.
'You have never believed how fond she is of her father.'

On arriving, they were ushered into the room where Miss Ponsonby was at
breakfast, and a cup of tea and untasted roll showed where her niece
had been.  She received them with stiff, upright chillness; and to
their hope that Mary was not unwell, replied--'Not very well.  She had
been over-fatigued yesterday, and had followed her advice in going to
lie down.'

Louis began to imagine a determination to exclude him, and was eagerly
beginning to say that she had asked him to come that morning--could she
not see him? when the lady continued, with the same severity--'Until
yesterday, I was not aware how much concern Lord Fitzjocelyn had taken
in what related to my niece.'

At that moment, when Louis's face was crimson with confusion and
impatience, the door was softly pushed ajar, and he heard himself
called in low, hoarse tones.  Miss Ponsonby was rising with an air of
vexed surprise, but he never saw her, and, hastily crossing the room,
he shut the door behind him, and followed the form that flitted up the
stairs so fast, that he did not come up with her till she had entered
the drawing-room, and stood leaning against a chair to gather breath.
She was very pale, and her eyes looked as if she had cried all night,
but she controlled her voice to say, 'I could not bear that you should
hear it from Aunt Melicent.'

'We had letters this morning, dearest.  Always thinking for me!  But I
must think for you.  You can hardly stand--'

He would have supported her to the sofa, but she shrank from him; and,
leaning more heavily on the chair, said--'Do you not know, Louis, all
that must be at an end?'

'I know no such thing.  My father is here on purpose to assure you that
it makes not the slightest difference to him.'

'Yours!  Yes!  But oh, Louis!' with a voice that, in its faintness and
steadiness, had a sound of anguish--'only think what I allowed him to
make me do!  To insult my father and his choice!  It was a mistake, I
know,' she continued, fearing to be unjust and to grieve Louis; 'but a
most dreadful one!'

'He says he should have brought you home all the same--' began Louis.
'Mary, you must sit down!' he cried, interrupting himself to come
nearer; and she obeyed, sinking into the chair.  'What a state you are
in!  How could you go through yesterday?  How could you be distressed,
and not let me know?'

'I could not spoil their wedding-day, that we had wished for so long.'

'Then you had the letter?'

'In the morning.  Oh, that I had examined farther!  Oh, that I had
never come home!'

'Mary! I cannot hear you say so.'

'You would have been spared all this.  You were doing very well without
me--as you will--'

He cried out with deprecating horror.

'Louis!' she said, imploringly.  'Oh, Louis! do not make it harder for
me to do right.'

'Why--what?  I don't understand!  Your father has not so much as heard
how we stand together.  He cannot be desiring you to give me up.'

'He--he forbids me to enter on anything of the sort with you.  I don't
know what made him think it possible, but he does.  And--' again Mary
waited for the power of utterance, 'he orders me to come out with Mrs.
Willis, in the Valdivia, and it sails on the 12th of December!'

'But Mary, Mary! you cannot be bound by this.  It is only fair towards
him, towards all of us, to give him time to answer our letters.'

Mary shook her head.  'The only condition, he says, on which he could
allow me to remain, would be if I were engaged to James Frost.'

'Too late for that, certainly,' said Louis; and the smile was a relief
to both.  'At any rate, it shows that he can spare you.  Only give him
time.  When he has my father's explanation--and my father is certain to
be so concerned at having cast any imputation on a lady. His first
thought was to apologize--'

'That is not all!  I remember now that dear mamma always said she did
not know whether he would consent.  Oh! how weak I was ever to listen--'

'No, Mary, that must not be said.  It was my presumptuous, inveterate
folly that prevented you from trusting my affection when she might have
helped us.'

'I don't know.  It would have caused her anxiety and distress when she
was in no state for them.  I don't think it did,' said Mary,
considering; 'I don't think she ever knew how much I cared.'

The admission could only do Louis's heart good, and he recurred to his
arguments that her father could be persuaded by such a letter as he
felt it in him to write.

'You do not know all,' said Mary.  'I could not show you his letter;
but, from it and from my aunt, I better understand what impressions he
has of you all, and how hopeless it is.'

'Tell me!'

She could not help giving herself the relief, when that most loving,
sympathizing face was pleading with her to let him comfort her.  She
knew there was no fiery nor rancorous temper to take umbrage, and it
was best for him to know the completeness of the death-blow.

'Oh, Louis! he fancies that my dear mother's fondness for her own
family destroyed his domestic peace.  He says their pride and narrow
notions poisoned--yes, that is the word--poisoned her mind against him;
and that was the reason he insisted on my being brought up here, and
kept from you all.'

'But I don't understand why he let you come straight home to us, and
live in Dynevor Terrace?'

'Then he was really sorry mamma was so ill; and--and for all that was
past; I am sure he felt it was the last parting, and only wished to do
anything that could make up to her.  He freely gave her leave to go
wherever she pleased, and said not a word against Northwold.  It was
one of her great comforts that he never seemed in the least vexed at
anything she had done since we went home.  Besides, my aunt says that
he and Mr. Dynevor had some plans about James and me.'

'He will have that out of his head.  He will come to reason.  Fond of
you, and sorry for the past, he will listen.  No wonder he was in a
passion; but just imagine what it would be to heed half Jem Frost says
when he is well worked up!'

'Papa is not like James,' said Mary; 'things go deeper with him.  He
never forgets!  I shall never forgive myself for not having spoken to
Robson!  I know his manner, seeming to assent and never committing
himself, and I ought to have gone through anything rather than have
taken such an accusation for granted.'

To hinder his pleading against her self-conviction, she re-opened her
letter to prove the cruelty of the injustice.  Mr. Ponsonby professed
to have been unwilling to enter so speedily on the new tie; but to have
been compelled, by the species of persecution which was exercised on
Rosita, in order to make her return to her nunnery.  He dwelt on her
timid affection and simplicity, and her exceeding mortification at the
slur which Mary had been induced to cast upon her; though, he said, her
innocent mind could not comprehend the full extent of the injury; since
the step his daughter had taken would, when known, seriously affect the
lady's reception into society, in a manner only to be repaired by
Mary's immediately joining them at Lima.  He peremptorily indicated the
ship and the escort--a merchant's wife, well known to her and charged
her, on her duty, as the only proof of obedience or affection which
could remedy the past, to allow no influence nor consideration whatever
to detain her.  'You see?' said Mary.

'I see!' was the answer.  'Mary, you are right, you must go.'

The words restored her confiding look, and her face lost almost all the
restless wretchedness which had so transformed it.  'Thank you,' she
said, with a long breath; 'I knew you would see it so.'

'It will be a very pretty new style of wedding tour.  Andes for Alps!
No, Mary, you need not suspect me of trifling now!  I really mean it,
and, seriously, our going in that way would set this Rosita straight
with society much more handsomely and effectually.  Don't doubt my
father--I will fetch him.'

'Stop, Louis!  You forget!  Did I not tell you that he expressly warns
me against you?  He must have heard of what happened before: he says I
had prudence once to withstand, and he trusts to my spirit and
discretion to--' Mary stopped short of the phrase before her eyes--to
resist the interested solicitations of necessitous nobility, and the
allurements of a beggarly coronet.  'No,' she concluded; 'he says that
you are the last person whom he could think of allowing me to accept.'
She hid her face in her hands, and her voice died away.

'Happily that is done,' said Louis, not yet disconcerted; 'but if you
go, as I own you must, it shall be with a letter of mine, explaining
all.  You will plead for me--I think you will, and when he is satisfied
that we are no rebels, then the first ship that sails for Peru--Say
that will do, Mary.'

'No, Louis, I know my father.'  She roused herself and sat upright,
speaking resolutely, but not daring to look at him--'I made up my mind
last night.  It was weak and selfish in me to enter into this
engagement, and it must be broken off.  You must be left free--not
bound for years and years.'

'Oh, Mary!  Mary! this is too much.  I deserved distrust by my wretched
folly and fickleness last year, but I did not know what you were to me
then--my most precious one!  Can you not trust me!  Do you not know how
I would wait?'

'You would wait,' said poor Mary, striving with choking tears, 'and be
sorry you had waited.'

'Are you talking madness, Mary?  I should live for the moment to
compensate for all.'

'You would waste your best years, and when the time came, you would
still be young, and I grown into an old careworn woman.  You would find
you had waited for what was nothing worth!'

'How can you talk so!' cried Louis, wounded, 'when you know that to
cherish and make up to you would be my dearest, fondest wish!  No,
don't shake your head!  You know it is not a young rose and lily beauty
that I love,--it is the honest, earnest glance in my Mary's eyes, the
rest, and trust, and peace, whenever I do but come near her.  Time
can't take that away!'

'Pray,' said Mary, feebly, 'don't let us discuss it now.  I know it is
right.  I was determined to say it to-day, that the worst might be
over, but I can't argue, nor bear your kindness now.  Please let it
wait.'

'Yes, let it wait.  It is depression.  You will see it in a true light
when you have recovered the shock, and don't fancy all must be given up
together.  Lie down and rest; I am sure you have been awake all night.'

'I may rest now I have told you, and seen you not angry with poor papa,
nor with me.  Oh! Louis--the gratitude to you, the weight off my mind!'

'I don't think any one could help taking the same view,' said Louis.
'It seems to me one of the cases where the immediate duty is the more
clear because it is so very painful.  Mary, I think that you are
committing your way unto the Lord, and you know 'He shall bring it to
pass.''

As he spoke there was a tap at the door, and Miss Ponsonby, stiffly
entering, said, 'Excuse my interruption, but I hope Lord Fitzjocelyn
will be considerate enough not to harass you any longer with
solicitations to act against your conscience.'

'He is not persuading me,' said Mary, turning towards her aunt a face
which, through all her dejection, proved her peace in his support and
approval, 'he is helping me.'

'Yes,' said Louis to the astonished aunt; 'since I have heard the true
state of the case, I have been convinced that there is no choice for
her but to go out, to repair the injustice so unfortunately done to
this poor lady.  It is a noble resolution, and I perfectly concur with
her.'

'I am glad you think so properly, sir,' returned Miss Ponsonby. 'Lord
Ormersfield seems quite of another opinion.  He was desirous of seeing
you, Mary; but I have been telling him I could permit no more
interviews to-day.'

'Oh no,' said Mary, putting her hand to her head, as if it could bear
no more; 'not to-day!   Louis, tell him how it is.  Make him forgive
me; but do not let me see him yet.'

'You shall see no one,' said Louis, tenderly; 'you shall rest. There--'
and, as if he had the sole right to her, he arranged the cushions,
placed her on the sofa, and hung over her to chafe her hands, and bathe
her forehead with eau de Cologne; while, as he detected signs of hasty
preparations about the room, he added, 'Don't trouble yourself with
your arrangements; I will see about all I can to help you.  Only rest,
and cure your head.'

'Say that one thing to me again,' whispered Mary, ere letting his hand
go.

Again he murmured the words, 'Commit thy way unto the Lord, and He
shall bring it to pass.'

Then Mary felt her hand pressed to his lips, but she would not unclose
her burning eyes; she would fain sleep beneath the impress of that
spell of patient confidence.

The gentle authority of his manner had deprived Miss Ponsonby of all
notion of interfering.  This 'odious, frivolous young man of fashion,'
so entirely disconcerted her ideas of ardent lovers, or of
self-interested puppies, that she gazed at him, surprised and softened;
and when he looked at her anxiously, to judge whether Mary would find
in her a kind comforter, her eyes were full of tears, and she said as
they left the room, 'It must be a great relief to my poor Mary that you
see it so sensibly.  She has been suffering much in anticipation of
this meeting.'

'Her unselfishness goes to one's heart!' said Louis, almost overcome.
'If she would but have spared herself yesterday!'

'Ah! she said she could not bear that you should be pained on your
friend's wedding-day.  I am much comforted to find that you appreciate
the effort.'

This was not what Miss Ponsonby had intended to say, but there was
something about the young man that touched her exceedingly; even when
fresh from a very civil and decorous combat with his father, and a
ripping-up of all the ancient grievances of the married life of their
two relations, rendering wider than ever the breach between the houses
of Ponsonby and Fitzjocelyn.

Lord Ormersfield came forward to learn whether he might see Mary, and
was met by assurances that she must be kept as quiet as possible; upon
which he took leave, making a stately bend of the head, while Louis
shook Miss Ponsonby's hand, and said he should come to the door to
inquire before the day was over.

'I never saw her so broken down,' he said, in answer to his father's
compassionate but indignant exclamation as they walked home. 'Yesterday
was a terrible strain on her.'

'I wish we had never brought her here,' said Lord Ormersfield.  'The
aunt is your enemy, as she always was that of Mary's mother.  She
nearly avowed that she set her brother on making this premature
prohibition.'

'I do not think she is unkind to Mary,' said Louis; 'I could be almost
glad that the dear Aunt Kitty is spared all this worry.  It would make
her so very miserable.'

'Her influence would be in your favour, whereas this woman is perfectly
unreasonable.  She justifies her brother in everything, and is actually
working on that poor girl's scruples of conscience to send her out by
this ship.'

'Nay,' said Louis, 'after hearing her father's letter, I do not see
that it is possible for her to do otherwise.'

Lord Ormersfield hastily turned to look at his son's countenance,--it
was flushed and melancholy, but fully in earnest; nevertheless the Earl
would not believe his ears, and made a sound as if he had missed the
words.

'I am grieved enough to say so,' repeated Louis; 'but, as he puts it, I
do not see how Mary can refuse to obey him.'

'I declare, Fitzjocelyn,' exclaimed his father, with some anger, 'any
one who takes the trouble, may talk you into anything imaginable!'

'Not into believing her wrong.'

'I did not think you so weak!' continued his father.  'It is the very
case where a woman's exaggerated notions of right may be wrought on to
do her infinite harm!  They become quite ridiculous without some one to
show that such things may be carried too far!  I must say, I did expect
strength of mind and common sense for your own interest. I esteem it a
mere matter of duty to put an end to such nonsense.'

'My dear father,' said Louis, 'it was Mary and her mother who first
taught me my own obligations.  I should never dare to interfere with
any one's filial duty--above all, where my own happiness is so deeply
concerned.'

'Yours!  I am not talking of yours.  What is to become of Mary with
such a man as that? and this Spanish woman, who, if she does not
deserve all that has been said of her, no doubt soon will?--no
education, no principles, breaking out of her convent!  And you let
yourself be drawn into calling it Mary's duty to run into such company
as that!  You are not fit to protect her.'

'From all I have heard of Mr. Ponsonby, I am convinced he has too much
regard for his daughter to summon her into any improper society. I do
not hear that he has been to blame as a father.  I wish I could see it
as you do; but not only do I know that Mary could not have an instant's
peace under the sense of his displeasure, but it seems to me that this
is one of the express commands which could not be disobeyed without
setting aside the law of Heaven.  If I gave my voice against it, I
should fear to bring on us a curse, and not a blessing.'

'Fitzjocelyn, I always knew how it would be if you took to being one of
those very good people.  Nothing is so weak, and yet so unmanageable.
Any rational being would look on it as a duty to rescue her from such a
man as that; but that is too ordinary a virtue for you.  You must go
higher.'

Louis made no answer.  Never had his father pained him so much, and he
could ill brook additional suffering.

'However,' said the Earl, recovering, 'I shall see her.  I shall put
the matter in a just light.  She is a sensible girl, and will
understand me when she has recovered the shock.  On one head I shall
give warning.  She must choose between us and her father.  If she
persist in going out to join this establishment, I will have your
engagement given up.'

'Father! father! you would not be so cruel!'

'I know what I am saying.  Am I to allow you to be encumbered all the
time she is on the other side of the world, waiting Ponsonby's
pleasure, to come home at last, in ten or fifteen years' time, worried
and fretted to death, like her poor mother?  No, Louis, it must be now
or never.'

'You are only saying what I would not hear from her.  She has been
insisting on breaking off, and all my hope was in you.'

'She has?  That is like her!  The only reasonable thing I have heard
yet.'

'Then you will not help me?  You, who I thought loved her like your own
daughter, and wished for nothing so much!'

'So I might; but that is a different thing from allowing you to wear
out your life in a hopeless engagement.  If she cast off her family,
nothing could be better, otherwise, I would never connect you with
them.'

It did not occur to his lordship that he was straining pretty hard the
filial duty of his own son, while he was arguing that Mary should snap
asunder the same towards her father.

The fresh discomfiture made poor Louis feel utterly dejected and almost
hopeless, but lest silence should seem to consent, he said, 'When you
see Mary, you will be willing for me to do anything rather than lose
what is so dear and so noble.'

'Yes, I will see Mary.  We will settle it between us, and have it right
yet; but we must give her to-day to think it over, and get over the
first shock.  When she has had a little time for reflection, a few cool
arguments from me will bring her to reason.'

So it was all to be settled over Louis's passive head; and thus
satisfied, his father, who was exceedingly sorry for him, forgot his
anger, and offered to go home alone as Clara's escort, promising to
return on the Monday, to bring the full force of his remonstrances to
bear down Mary's scruples.

Lord Ormersfield believed Clara too much of a child to have any ideas
on what was passing; and had it depended on him, she must have gone
home in an agony of ignorance on the cause of her cousin's trouble, but
Louis came with them to the station, and contrived to say to her while
walking up and down the platform, 'Her father is bitter against me.  He
has sent for her, and she is going!'

Clara looked mutely in his face, with a sort of inquiring dismay.

'You'll hear all about it when my father has told Aunt Kitty,' said
Louis.  'Clara,'--he paused, and spoke lower--'tell her I see what is
right now; tell her to--to pray for me, that I may not be talked into
tampering with my conscience or with hers.  Don't let it dwell on you
or on my aunt,' he added, cheerfully.  'No, it won't; you will be
thinking of Jem and Isabel.'  And as his father came up, his last words
were, in his own bright tone, 'Tell granny from me that giraffes ought
always to be seen by gaslight.'

Clara's countenance returned him a look of sorrowful reproach, for
thinking her capable of being amused when he was in distress; and she
sat in silent musings all the way home--pondering over his words,
speculating on his future, wondering what Mary felt, and becoming blunt
and almost angry, when her grave escort in the opposite corner
consulted civility by addressing some indifferent remark to her, as if,
she said to herself, 'she were no better than a stuffed giraffe, and
knew and cared nothing about anybody!'

He might have guessed that she understood something by the sudden way
in which she curtailed her grandmother's rapturous and affectionate
inquiries about the wedding, ran upstairs on the plea of taking off her
bonnet, and appeared no more till he had gone home; when, coming down,
she found granny, with tearful eyes, lamenting that Mr. Ponsonby was so
harsh and unkind, and fully possessed with the rational view which her
nephew had been impressing on her.

'Ha!' said Clara, 'that is what Louis meant.  I'll tell you what,
granny, Lord Ormersfield never knew in his life what was right, half as
well as Louis does.  I wish he would let him alone.  If Mary is good
enough for him, she will go out and wait till her father comes round.
If she is not, she won't; and Lord Ormersfield has no business to tease
her.'

'Then you would like her to go out?' said Mrs. Frost.

'I like anything that makes Louis happy.  I thought it would have been
delightful to have him married--one could be so much more at
Ormersfield, and Mary would be so nice; but as to their being
over-persuaded, and thinking themselves half wrong! why, they would
never be happy in their lives; and Louis would be always half-asleep or
half mad, to save himself the trouble of thinking.  But he'll never do
it!'

On the Saturday morning Mary's healthy and vigorous spirit had quite
resumed its tone.  The worst was over when she had inflicted the stroke
on Louis, and seen him ready to support instead of adding to her
distress.  He found her pale and sorrowful, but calm, collected, and
ready for exertion.  By tacit consent, they avoided all discussion of
the terms on which they were to stand.  Greatly touched by her
consideration for him on the wedding-day, he would not torture her with
pleadings, and was only too grateful for every service that he was
allowed to render her without protest, as still her chief and most
natural dependence.

She did not scruple to allow him to assist her; she understood the
gratification to him, and it was only too sweet to her to be still his
object.  She could trust him not to presume, his approval made her
almost happy; and yet it was hard that his very patience and
acquiescence should endear him so much as to render the parting so much
the more painful.  The day was spent in business.  He facilitated much
that would have been arduous for two solitary women, and did little all
day but go about for Mary, fulfilling the commissions which her father
had sent home; and though he did it with a sore heart, it was still a
privilege to be at work for Mary.

Rigid as Miss Ponsonby was, she began to be touched.  There was a doubt
as to his admission when he came on Sunday morning--'Mistress saw no
one on Sunday,' but when his name was carried in, Miss Ponsonby could
not withstand Mary's face.  She took care to tell him her rule; but
that, considering the circumstances, she had made an exception in his
favour, on the understanding that nothing was to break in upon the
observance of the Sabbath.

Louis bent his head, with the heartfelt answer that he was but too glad
to be permitted to go to church once more with Mary.

Aunt Melicent's Sunday was not quite their own Sunday, but all that
they could desire was to be quietly together, and restricted from all
those agitating topics and arrangements.  It was a day of rest, and
they valued it accordingly.  In fact, Miss Ponsonby found the young
Lord so good and inoffensive, that she broke her morning's resolution,
invited him to partake of the cold dinner, let him go to church with
them again in the evening, and remain to tea; and when he took leave,
she expressed such surprised admiration at his having come and gone on
his own feet, his church-going, and his conduct generally, that Mary
could not help suspecting that her good aunt had supposed that he had
never heard of the Fourth Commandment.

Miss Ponsonby was one of the many good women given to hard judgments on
slight grounds, and to sudden reactions still more violent; and the
sight of Lord Fitzjocelyn spending a quiet, respectable Sunday, had
such an effect on her, that she transgressed her own mandate, and
broached 'the distressing subject.'

'Mary, my dear, I suppose this young gentleman is an improved
character?'

'He is always improving,' said Mary.

'I mean, that an important change must have taken place since I
understood you to say you had refused him.  I thought you acted most
properly then; and, as I see him now, I think you equally right in
accepting him.'

'He was very much what he is now,' said Mary.

'Then it was from no doubt of his being a serious character?'

'None whatever,' said Mary, emphatically.

'Well, my dear, I must confess his appearance, his family, and your
refusal, misled me.  I fear I did him great injustice.'

A silence, and then Miss Ponsonby said, 'After all, my dear, though I
thought quite otherwise at first, I do believe that, considering what
the youth is, and how much attached he seems, you might safely continue
the engagement.'

Mary's heart glowed to her aunt for having been thus conquered by
Louis--she who, three nights back, had been so severely incredulous, so
deeply disappointed in her niece for having been deluded into endurance
of him.  But her resolution was fixed.  'It would not be right,' she
said; 'his father would not allow it.  There is so little chance of
papa's relenting, or of my coming home, that it would be wrong to keep
him in suspense.  He had better turn his thoughts elsewhere while he is
young enough to begin again.'

'It might save him from marrying some mere fine lady.'

'That will never be, whatever woman he chooses will--' She could not go
on, but presently cleared her voice--'No; I should like to leave him
quite free.  I was less his choice than his father's; and, though I
thought we should have been very happy, it does not seem to be the
leading of Heaven.  I am so far his inferior in cleverness, and
everything attractive, and have been made so like his elder sister,
that it might not have been best for him.  I want him to feel that, in
beginning afresh, he is doing me no injury; and then in time, whenever
I come home, it may be such a friendship as there was between our
elders.  That is what I try to look forward to,--no, I don't think I
look forward to anything.  Good night, Aunt Melicent--I am so glad you
like him!'

In this mind Mary met Lord Ormersfield.  The delay had been an
advantage, for he was less irritated, and she had regained
self-possession.  Her passage had been taken, and this was an argument
that told on the Earl, though he refused to call it irrevocable.  He
found that there was no staggering her on the score of the life that
awaited her; she knew more on that subject than he did, had confidence
in her father, and no dread of Rosita; and she was too much ashamed and
grieved at the former effect of his persuasions to attend to any more
of a like description.  He found her sense of duty more stubborn than
he had anticipated, and soon had no more to say. She might carry it too
far; but the principle was sound, and a father could not well
controvert it.  He had designed the rupture with Louis as a penalty to
drive her into his measures; but he could not so propound it, and was
wondering how to bring it in, when Mary relieved him by beginning
herself, and stating the grounds with such sensible, unselfish, almost
motherly care of Louis's happiness, that he was more unwilling than
ever to let him resign her, and was on the point of begging her to
re-consider, and let Louis wait for ever rather than lose her.  But he
knew they ought not to be bound, under such uncertainties, and his
conviction was too strong to give way to emotion.  He thanked her, and
praised her with unwonted agitation, and regretted more than ever; and
so they closed the conference by deciding that, unless Mr. Ponsonby
should be induced to relent by his daughter's representations on her
arrival, Mary and Louis must consider themselves as mutually released.

That loophole--forlorn, most forlorn hope, as they knew it to be--was
an infinite solace to the young people, by sparing them a formal
parting, and permitting them still to feel that they belonged to each
other.  If he began declaring that nothing would ever make him feel
disconnected with Mary, he was told that it was not time to think of
that, and they must not waste their time.  And once Mary reminded him
how much worse it would be if they had been separated by a quarrel.
'Anger might give one spirits,' he said, smiling mournfully.

'At the time; but think what it would be not to be able to remember
happy times without remorse.'

'Then you do mean to recollect, Mary?'

'I trust to bring myself to remember rightly and wisely.  I shall try
to set it for a reward for myself to cure me of repinings,' said Mary,
looking into his face, as if the remembrance of it must bring
cheerfulness and refreshment.

'And when shall I not think, Mary!  When I leave off work, I shall want
you for a companion; when I go to work, the thought must stir me up.
Your judgment must try my own.'

'Oh, hush, Louis! this is not good.  Be yourself, and be more than
yourself, and only think of the past as a time when we had a great deal
of pleasantness, and you did me much good.'

'Did I?'

'Yes; I see it now I am with Aunt Melicent.  You put so many more
thoughts in my head, and showed me that so much more was good and
wholesome than I used to fancy.  Dear mamma once said you were
educating me; and I hope to go on, and not let your lessons waste away.'

'Nay, Mary, you won good everywhere.  If you had not been Mary, I might
have made you a great goose.  But you taught me all the perseverance I
ever had.  And oh! Mary, I don't wonder you do not trust it.'

'There is the forbidden subject,' said Mary, firmly.

That was the sort of conversation into which they fell now and then
during those last days of busy sadness.

Truly it could have been worse.  Suffering by their own fault would
have rent them asunder more harshly, and Louis's freedom from all
fierceness and violence softened all ineffably to Mary.  James Frost's
letter of fiery indignation, almost of denunciation, made her thankful
that he was not the party concerned; and Louis made her smile at
Isabel's copy of all his sentiments in ladylike phrases.

The last day came.  Louis would not be denied seeing Mary on board the
Valdivia; and, in spite of all Miss Ponsonby's horror of railways, he
persuaded her to trust herself under his care to Liverpool.  She
augured great things from the letter which she had entrusted to Mary,
and in which she had spoken of Lord Fitzjocelyn in the highest terms
her vocabulary could furnish.

They parted bravely.  Spectators hindered all display of feeling, and
no one cried, except Miss Ponsonby.

'Good-bye, Louis; I will not forget your messages to Tom Madison.  My
love to your father and Aunt Catharine.'

'Good-bye, Mary; I shall see Tom and Chimborazo yet.'



CHAPTER V.

THE NEW WORLD.

  Still onward, as to southern skies,
  We spread our sails, new stars arise,
  New lights upon the glancing tide,
  Fresh hues where pearl and coral hide:
  What are they all but tokens true
  Of grace for ever fresh and new!
                        Prayers for Emigrants.


There are some days in the early year, devoid indeed of spring
brilliance, but full of soft, heavy, steaming fragrance, pervading the
grey air with sweet odours, and fostering the growth of tender bud and
fragile stem with an unseen influence, more mild and kindly than even
the smiling sunbeam or the gushing shower.  'A growing day,' as the
country-people term such genial, gentle weather, might not be without
analogy to the brief betrothal of Louis and Mary.

Subdued and anxious, there had been little of the ordinary light of
joy, hope, or gaiety, and their pleasures had been less their own than
in preparing the happiness of their two friends.  It was a time such as
to be more sweet in memory than it was in the present; and the shade
which had hung over it, the self-restraint and the forbearance which it
had elicited, had unconsciously conduced to the development of the
characters of both, preparing them to endure the parting far more
effectually than unmixed enjoyment could have done. The check upon
Louis's love of trifling, the restraint on his spirits, the being
thrown back on his own judgment when he wanted to lean upon Mary, had
given him a habit of controlling his boyish ways.

It was a call to train himself in manliness and self-reliance.  It
changed him from the unstable reed he once had been, and helped him to
take one steady and consistent view of the trial required of him and of
Mary, and then to act upon it resolutely and submissively. With Mary
gone, he cared little what became of him until her letters could
arrive; and his father, with more attention to his supposed benefit
than to his wishes, carried him at once, without returning home, to a
round of visits among all his acquaintance most likely to furnish a
distracting amount of Christmas gaieties.  In the midst of these, there
occurred a vacancy in the representation of a borough chiefly under the
influence of Sir Miles Oakstead; and, as it was considered expedient
that he should be brought into Parliament, his father repaired with him
at once to Oakstead, and involved him in all the business of the
election.  On his success, he went with his father to London for the
session, and this was all that his friends at Northwold knew of him.
He wrote hurried notes to James or to Mr. Holdsworth on necessary
affairs connected with his farm and improvements, mentioning facts
instead of feelings, and promising to write to Aunt Catharine when he
should have time; but the time did not seem to come, and it was easy to
believe that his passiveness of will, increased by the recent stroke,
had caused him to be hurried into a condition of involuntary practical
activity.

Mary, meanwhile, was retracing her voyage, in the lull of spirits
which, after long straining, had nothing to do but to wait in patience,
bracing themselves for a fresh trial.  Never suffering herself, at sea,
her first feelings, after the final wrench of parting, were interrupted
by the necessity of attending to her friend, a young mother, with
children enough to require all the services that the indefatigable Mary
could perform.  If Mrs. Willis always averred that she never could have
gone through the voyage without Miss Ponsonby, Mary felt, in return,
that the little fretful boy and girl, who would never let her sit and
think, except when both were asleep, had been no small blessing to her.

Yet Mary was not so much absorbed and satisfied with the visible and
practical as had once been the case.  The growth had not been all on
Louis's side.  If her steadfast spirit had strengthened his wavering
resolution, the intercourse and sympathy with him had opened and
unfolded many a perception and quality in her, which had been as
tightly and hardly cased up as leaf-buds in their gummy envelopes.  A
wider range had been given to her thoughts; there was a swelling of
heart, a vividness of sensation, such as she had not known in earlier
times; she had been taught the mystery of creation, the strange
connexion with the Unseen, and even with her fellow-men.  Beyond the
ordinary practical kind offices, for which she had been always ready,
there was now mingled something of Louis's more comprehensive spirit of
questioning what would do them good, and drawing food for reflection
from their diverse ways.

She was sensible of the change again and again, when sights recurred
which once had only spoken to her eye.  That luminous sea, sparkling
like floods of stars, had been little more than 'How pretty! how
funny!' at her first voyage.  Now, it was not only 'How Louis would
admire it!' but 'How profusely, how gloriously has the Creator spread
the globe with mysterious beauty! how marvellously has He caused His
creatures to hold forth this light, to attract others to their needful
food!'  And the furrow of fire left by their vessel's wake spoke to her
of that path 'like a shining light, shining more and more unto the
perfect day.'  If with it came the remembrance of his vision of the
threads of light, it was not a recollection which would lead to
repining.

And when at Cape Horn, a mighty ice mountain drifted within view,
spired, pinnacled, encrusted with whiteness, rivalled only by the glory
of the summer cloud, caverned here and there into hollows of sapphire
blue, too deeply dazzling to behold, or rising into peaks of clear,
hard, chill green; the wild fantastic points sometimes glimmering with
fragments of the rainbow arch; the rich variety, endless beyond measure
in form and colouring, and not only magnificent and terrible in the
whole mass, but lovely beyond imagination in each crystal too minute
for the eye.  Mary had once, on a like occasion, only said, 'it was
very cold;' and looked to see whether the captain expected the monster
to bear down on the ship. But the present iceberg put her in mind of
the sublime aspirations which gothic cathedrals seem as if they would
fain embody.  And then, she thought of the marvellous interminable
waste of beauty of those untrodden regions, whence yonder enormous
iceberg was but a small fragment--a petty messenger--regions unseen by
human eye--beauty untouched by human hand-the glory, the sameness, yet
the infinite variety of perfect purity.  Did it not seem, with all the
associations of cold, of peril, of dreariness, to be a visible token
that indeed He who fashioned it could prepare 'good things past man's
understanding!'

It was well for Mary that southern constellations, snowy, white-winged
albatross, leaping flying-fish, and white-capped mountain-coast, had
been joined in her mind with something higher, deeper, and less
personal, or their recurrence would have brought her nothing but pain
unmitigated in the contrast with the time when first she had beheld
them six years ago.

Then she was full of hope and eager ardour to arrive, longing for the
parental presence of which she had so long been deprived, hailing every
novel scene as a proof that she was nearer home, and without the
anticipation of one cloud, only expecting to be loved, to love, and to
be useful.  And now, all fond illusions as to her father had been
snatched away, her very love for him rendering the perception doubly
cruel; her mother, her precious mother, far away in Ormersfield
churchyard--her life probably shortened by his harshness--her place
occupied by a young girl, differing in language, in Church, in
everything--Mary's own pardon uncertain, after all her sacrifices--A
sense of having deeply offended, hung upon her; and her heart was so
entirely in England, that had her home been perfect, her voyage must
still have been a cruel effort.  That one anticipation of being set at
rest by her father's forgiveness, and the forlorn despairing hope of
his relenting towards Louis, were all she dared to dwell on; and when
Mrs. Willis counted the days till she could arrive and meet her
husband, poor Mary felt as if, but for these two chances of comfort,
she could gladly have prolonged the voyage for the rest of her life.

But one burning tropical noon, the Valdivia was entering Callao
harbour, and Mary, sick and faint at heart, was arraying herself in a
coloured dress, lest her mourning should seem to upbraid her father.
The voyage was over, the ship was anchored, boats were coming offshore,
the luggage was being hoisted out of the hold, the passengers were
congregated on deck, eager to land, some gazing with curious and
enterprising eyes on the new country, others scanning every boat in
hopes of meeting a familiar face.  Mrs. Willis stood trembling with
hope, excitement, and the strange dread often rushing in upon the last
moment of expectation.  She clung to Mary for support, and once said--

'Oh, Miss Ponsonby, how composed you are!'  Mary's feelings were too
deep--too much concentrated for trembling.  She calmed and soothed the
wife's sudden fright, lest 'something should have happened to George;'
and she even smiled when the children's scream of ecstacy infected
their mother, when the papa and uncle they had been watching for with
straining eyes proved to be standing on deck close beside them.

Mary cast her eyes round, and saw nothing of her own.  She stood apart,
while the Willis family were in all the rapture of the meeting; she saw
them moving off, too happy and sufficient for themselves even to
remember her.  She had a dull, heavy sensation that she must bear all,
and this was the beginning; and she was about to begin her arrangements
for her dreary landing, when Mrs. Willis's brother, Mr. Ward, turned
back.  He was a middle-aged merchant, whom her mother had much liked
and esteemed, and there was something cheering in his frank, hearty
greeting, and satisfaction in seeing her.  It was more like a welcome,
and it brought the Willises back, shocked at having forgotten her in
the selfishness of their own joy; but they had made sure that she had
been met.  Mr. Ward did not think that she was expected by the
Valdivia; Mr. Ponsonby had not mentioned it as likely.  So they were
all seated in the boat, with the black rowers; and while the Willises
fondled their children, and exchanged home-news, Mr. Ward sat by Mary,
and spoke to her kindly, not openly referring to the state of her home,
but showing a warmth and consideration which evinced much delicate
sympathy.

They all drove together in the Willises' carriage up the sloping road
from Callao to Lima, and Mary heard astonishment, such as she had once
felt, breaking out in screams from the children at the sight of
omnibuses filled with gaily-dressed negroes, and brown horsewomen in
Panama hats and lace-edged trousers careering down the road.  But then,
her father had come and fetched her from on board, and that dear mamma
was waiting in the carriage!  They entered the old walled town when
twilight had already closed in, and Mrs. Willis was anxious to take her
tired little ones home at once.  They were set down at their own door;
but Mr. Ward, with protecting anxious kindness, insisted on seeing Miss
Ponsonby safely home before he would join them.  As they drove through
the dark streets, Mary heard a little restless movement, betraying some
embarrassment; and at last, with an evident desire of reassuring her,
he said, 'Senora Rosita is thought very pleasing and engaging;' and
then, as if willing to change the subject, he hastily added, 'I suppose
you did not speak the Pizarro?'

'No.'

'She has sailed about three weeks.  She takes home your cousin, Mr.
Dynevor.'

Mary cried out with surprise.

'I thought him a complete fixture, but he is gone home for a year. It
seems his family property was in the market, and he was anxious to
secure it.'

'How glad his mother will be!' was all Mary could say, as there rushed
over her the thought of the wonderful changes this would make in
Dynevor Terrace.  Her first feeling was that she must tell Louis; her
second, that two oceans were between them; and then she thought of Aunt
Catharine having lived, after all, to see her son.

She had forgotten to expect the turn when the carriage wheeled under
the arched entry of her father's house.  All was gloom and stillness,
except where a little light shone in a sort of porter's lodge upon the
eager negro features of two blacks, with much gesticulation, playing at
dice.  They came out hastily at the sound of the carriage; and as Mr.
Ward handed out Mary, and inquired for Mr. Ponsonby, she recognised and
addressed the white-woolled old Xavier, the mayor domo.  Poor old
Xavier!  Often had she hunted and teased him, and tried to make him
understand 'cosas de Inglaterra,' and to make him cease from his
beloved dice; but no sooner did he see her face than, with a cry of
joy, 'La Senorita Maria! la Senorita Maria!' down he went upon his
knees, and began kissing the hem of her dress.

All the rest of the negro establishment came round, capering and
chattering Spanish; and, in the confusion, Mary could not get her
question heard--Where was her father? and Xavier's vehement threats and
commands to the others to be silent, did not produce a calm.  At last,
bearing a light, there came forward a faded, sallow dame, with a candle
in her hand, who might have sat for the picture of the Duena Rodriguez,
and at her appearance the negroes subsided.  She was an addition to the
establishment since Mary's departure; but in her might be easily
recognised the Tia, the individual who in Limenian households holds a
position between companion and housekeeper.  She introduced herself by
the lugubrious appellation of Senora Dolores, and, receiving Mary with
obsequious courtesy, explained that the Senor and Senora were at a
tertulia, or evening party.  She lighted Mary and Mr. Ward into the
quadra; and there Mr. Ward, shaking hands with her as if he would
thereby compensate for all that was wanting in her welcome, promised to
go and inform her father of her arrival.

Mary stood in the large dark room, with the soft matted floor, and the
windows high up near the carved timbered ceiling, the single lamp,
burning in rum, casting a dim gleam over the well-known furniture, by
which her mother had striven to give an English appearance to the room.
It was very dreary, and she would have given the world to be alone with
her throbbing head, her dull heartache, and the weariness of spirits
over-long wound up for the meeting; but her own apartment could be no
refuge until it had been cleansed and made ready, and Dolores and
Xavier were persecuting her every moment with their hospitality and
their inquiries.  Then came a quick, manly tread, and for a moment her
heart almost seemed to stand still, in the belief that it was her
father; but it was only Robson, hurrying in to offer his services and
apologies.  Perhaps he was the very last person she could bear to see,
feeling, as she did, that if he had been more explicit all the offence
would have been spared.  He was so much aware of all family matters,
and was accustomed to so much confidence from her father, that she
could not believe him unconscious; and there was something hateful to
her in the plausible frankness and deferential familiarity of his
manners, as, brushing up his sandy hair upon his forehead, he poured
forth explanations that Mr. Ponsonby would be delighted, but grieved
that no one had met her--Valdivia not expected so soon--not anticipated
the pleasure--if they had imagined that Miss Ponsonby was a passenger--

'My father desired that I would come out by her,' said Mary.

'Ay, true--so he informed me; but since later intelligence'--and he
cast a glance at Mary, to judge how much further to go; but meeting
with nothing but severity, he covered the impertinence by saying, 'In
fact, though the Valdivia was mentioned, and Mrs. Willis, Mr. Ponsonby
had reason to suppose you would not receive his letters in time to
avail yourself of the escort.'

'I did so, however,' said Mary, coldly.

'Most gratifying.  Mr. and Mrs. Ponsonby will be highly gratified. In
fact, Miss Ponsonby, I must confess that was a most unfortunate blunder
of mine last August.  I should not have fallen into the error had I not
been so long absent at Guayaquil that I had had no opportunity of
judging of the amiable lady; and I will own to much natural surprise
and some indignation, before I had had the pleasure of personal
acquaintance with the charms and the graces--Hem! In effect, it was a
step that no one could have recommended; and when your noble relative
put it to me in so many words whether I would counsel your continuing
your journey, I could not take it on me to urge a measure so painful to
your feelings, unaware as I was then of the amiable qualities of the
lady who occupies the situation of the highly beloved and esteemed--'

Mary could not bear to hear her mother's name in his mouth, so she cut
him short by saying, 'I suppose you thought you acted for the best, Mr.
Robson; it was very unfortunate, but it cannot be helped. Pray can you
tell me where the lad Madison is?' she added, resolved to show him that
she would not discuss these matters with him; 'I have a parcel for him.'

'He is at the San Benito mine, Miss Ponsonby.'

'How does he go on?'

'Well--I may say very well, allowing for inexperience.  He appears a
steady, intelligent lad, and I have no doubt will answer the purpose
well.'

There was one gratification for Mary, at least, in the pleasure this
would afford at home; but Robson continued making conversation about
Mr. Dynevor's visit to England, and the quantity of work this temporary
absence entailed on him; and then on the surprise it would be to his
patron to find her, and Senora Rosita's interest in her, and the
numerous gaieties of the bride, and the admiration she excited, and his
own desire to be useful.   This afforded Mary an opportunity for
getting rid of him at last, by sending him to make arrangements for her
baggage to be sent from Callao the next morning.

Ten minutes more, half spent in conquering her disgust, half in sick
anticipation, and other feet were crossing the matted sala, the curtain
over the doorway was drawn aside, and there stood her father, and a
lady, all white and diamonds, by his side.  He held out his arms, Mary
fell into them, and it was the same kind rough kiss which had greeted
her six years back.  It seemed to be forgiveness, consolation,
strength, all at once; and their words mingled--'Papa, you forgive
me'--'Mary, my good girl, I did not think they would have let you come
back to me.  This was but a dreary coming home for you, my dear.'  And
then, instantly changing his language to Spanish, he added, appealing
to his wife, that had they guessed she was on board, they would have
come to meet her.

Rosita replied earnestly to that effect, and warmly embraced Mary,
pitying her for such an arrival, and hoping that Dolores had made her
comfortable.  The rest of the conversation was carried on in the same
tongue.  Rosita was much what Mary had expected--of a beautiful figure,
with fine eyes, and splendid raven hair, but without much feature or
expression.  She looked almost like a dream to-night, however, with her
snowy robes, and the diamonds sparkling with their dewdrop flashes in
her hair and on her arms, with the fitful light caught from the
insufficient candles.  All she ventured to say had a timid gracefulness
and simplicity that were very winning; and her husband glanced more
than once to see if she were not gaining upon his daughter; and so in
truth she was, personally, though it was exceedingly painful to see her
where Mary had been used to see that dear suffering face; and it was
impossible not to feel the contrast with her father as painfully
incongruous.  Mr. Ponsonby was a large man, with the jovial manner of
one never accustomed to self-restraint; good birth and breeding making
him still a gentleman, in spite of his loud voice and the traces of
self-indulgence.  He was ruddy and bronzed, and his eyebrows and hair
looked as if touched by hoar frost; altogether as dissimilar a partner
as could be devised for the slender girlish being by his side.

After a little Spanish conversation, all kind on his aide, and thus
infinitely relieving Mary, they parted for the night.  She laid before
him the packet of letters, which she had held all this time as the last
link to Louis, and sought his eye as she did so with a look of appeal;
but he carefully averted his glance, and she could read nothing.

Weary as she was, Mary heard again and again, through her unglazed
windows, the watchman's musical cry of 'Ave Maria purisima, las--es
temblado!'  'Viva Peru y sereno!' and chid herself for foolish
anticipations that Louis would hear and admire all the strange sounds
of the New World.  The kindness of her welcome gave her a little hope;
and she went over and over again her own part of the discussion which
she expected, almost persuading herself, that Louis's own conduct and
her aunt's testimony must win the day.

She need not have spent so many hours in preparation for the morning.
She was up early, in hopes of seeing her father before he went to his
office, but he was gone for a ride.  The English breakfast, which had
been established, much to his content, by her own exertions, had quite
vanished, each of the family had a cup of chocolate in private, and
there was no meeting till, late in the morning, Rosita sauntered into
her room, embraced her, made inquiries as to her rest, informed her
that she was going to the Opera that night, and begged her to accompany
her.  To appear in public with Rosita was the tribute for which Mary
had come out, so she readily agreed; and thereupon the Senora digressed
into the subject of dress, and required of Mary a display of all her
robes, and an account of the newest fashions of the English ladies.  It
was all with such innocent, earnest pleasure, that Mary could not be
annoyed, and good-naturedly made all her disappointing display.

The midday meal brought her father--still kind and affectionate, but
never dropping the Spanish, nor manifesting any consciousness of her
letters.  She had hopes of the period allotted to the siesta, to which
custom, in old days, she had never acceded, but had always spent the
interval on any special occupation--above all, to writing for him; but
he went off without any notice of her, and she was in no condition to
dispense with the repose, for her frame was tired out, though her hopes
and fears could not even let her dreams rest.

Then came a drive with Rosita, resplendent in French millinery, then
supper; then the Opera, to which her father accompanied them, still
without a word.  Another day was nearly the same, only that this time
she had to do her best to explain the newest fashions in behalf of a
dress of Rosita's, then being made, and in the evening to go to a party
at the Consul's, where she met Mr. Ward, and had some talk which she
might have enjoyed but for her suspense.

On the third, Rosita was made happy by unpacking an elegant little
black papier mache table, a present from Miss Ponsonby.  Good Melicent!
were ever two sisters-in-law more unlike?   But Lord Ormersfield had
done Rosita and her husband good service.  If Aunt Melicent had first
learned the real facts, her wrath would have been extreme--a mere
child, a foreigner, a Roman Catholic, a nun!  Her horror would have
known no bounds, and she would, perhaps, have broken with her brother
forever.  But by making the newly-married pair victims of injustice,
the Earl had made the reality a relief, and Melicent had written
civilly to her brother, and a sisterly sort of stiff letter to the
bride--of which the Limenian could not understand one word; so that
Mary had to render it all into Spanish, even to her good aunt's hopes
that Rosita would be kind to her, and use all her influence in favour
of her happiness.

Whether Rosita would have comprehended this without Mary's blushes
might be questioned, but she did say, 'Ah! yes! you were to have
married the Visconde, were you not?  El Senor was so angry!  Did his
father forbid when your father refused your portion?'

'Oh no, he would receive me if I brought nothing.'

'And you wish to marry?' said Rosita.

'If my father would only consent.'

'But why did you come here then?' said Rosita, opening her large eyes.

'My father commanded me.'

'England is a long way off,' said Rosita, languidly, 'he could not have
reached you there.  You would have been a great lady and noble! How
could you come away, if he would still have you?'

'Because it would have been wrong.  We could not have been happy in
disobeying my father.'

'Ah! but you could have done penance.  I had many penances to do for
quitting my convent; Padre Inigo was very severe, but they are over at
last, and I am free for giving alms twice a week, and the Sisters have
forgiven me, and send me so many silver flowers and dulces; I will show
them to you some day.  Could you not have done penance?'

'I am afraid not.'

'Ah! I forgot you were a heretic, poor thing!  How inconvenient!  And
so you will not come with me to the bull-fight next Sunday?'

Such being Rosita's ideas on the point, Mary gave up much hope in her
influence, and tried what a good-humoured announcement of her
re-establishment of the English breakfast would effect towards bringing
her father to a tete-a-tete, but he never came near it.  The waiting in
silence was miserable enough for herself, but she would have continued
to bear it except for the injustice to Louis, who must not be kept in
suspense.  The departure of the next English mail should be the limit
of her endurance, and after a day of watching, she finally went up to
her father when he would have bidden her good night, and said, in
English, 'Papa, if you please, I must speak to you.'

'So you shall, my dear, but we are all tired; we must have our night's
rest.'

'No, papa, it must be to-night, if you please.  It is necessary for me
to know before to-morrow how I am to write to Lord Fitzjocelyn.'

'Pshaw!  Mary, I've settled that young fellow!'

'Papa, I don't think you know--'

'I've written him a civil answer, if that's what you mean, much
civiller than he or his father deserve,' he said, speaking loud, and
trying to fling away from her, but she stood her ground, and spoke
calmly and steadily, though her heart beat violently.

'You do not understand the true state of the case, papa; and without
doing so, you cannot write such an answer as they deserve.'

'I know this, that old Ormersfield has been the curse of my life!' and
out poured one of those torrents of fierce passion which had been
slowly but surely the death of his wife.  Mary had never heard one in
the full tide before, but she stood firm; there were none of the tears,
auch as, in her mother, had been wont to exasperate him further, but
with pale cheeks, compressed lips, and hands locked together, her heart
was one silent entreaty that it might be forgiven him above.  Thus she
stood while the storm of anger raged, and when at last it had exhausted
itself, he said, in a lower voice, 'And so you are still taken with
this fellow's son, this young puppy!  I thought you had more spirit and
sense, Mary, or I never would have trusted you among them.'

'There are very few people in this world half so good or so
right-minded as Fitzjocelyn,' said Mary, earnestly and deliberately.
'It was he who bade me come to you, well knowing that we could never be
happy without your consent.'

'Oh! he did so, did he?  He is deeper than I thought would not risk
your fortune.  Why, Mary, I did not think a girl of your sense could be
so taken in!  It is transparent, I tell you.  They get you there,
flatter you up with their attentions, but when they find you too wise
for them the first time, off goes this youth to Miss Conway, finds her
a bad speculation, no heiress at all, and disposes of her to his
cousin.  I wonder if he'll find old Dynevor grateful.  Meanwhile the
old Lord must needs come out here, finds our gains a better prize than
he expected, trumps up this story at Valparaiso, takes you in, and
brings you home to this precious youth.  And you, and your aunt too,
are ready to believe it all!  I always knew that women were fools
whenever a title came in their way, I see it more than ever now, since
you and Melicent are both like the rest of 'em.'

'Papa,' said Mary, again rallying her firmness, 'we have found sadly
how easy it is to be deceived when one is not on the spot.  Will you
listen to me, who saw it all?'

'No, Mary, I will not hear the nonsense they have put into your head,
my poor girl.  No!  I tell you it is of no use!  It is my resolute
purpose that not one farthing of mine shall go to patch up the
broken-down Ormersfield property!  The man is my enemy, and has sown
dissension in my family from the first moment I connected myself with
him.  I'll never see my daughter his son's wife.  I wonder he had the
impudence to propose it!  I shall think you lost to all feeling for
your father, if you say another word about it.'

'Very well,' said Mary, with steady submission.  'Then I will only
write one more letter to Fitzjocelyn, and tell him that your objections
are insuperable, and that he must think of it no more.'

'That's right, Mary! you are a good girl, after all!  You'll stand by
your father, in spite of all the House of Peers!  I'm glad to see you
hold up your head so bravely.  So you did fancy being a Viscountess,
did you! but it is not a heartbreaking matter either, my girl!'

This was too much for Mary, and when her father would have kissed her,
she laid her head on his shoulder and wept silently but bitterly.

'Ha! what's all this?  Why, you don't pretend to care for a young
mercenary scamp like that?'

'He is the noblest, most generous, most disinterested man I ever knew!'
said Mary, standing apart, and speaking clearly.  'I give him up
because--you command me, father, but I will not hear him spoken of
unjustly.'

'Ha! ha! so long as you give him up, we won't quarrel.  He shall be all
that, and more too, if you like; and we'll never fight over the matter
again, since I have you safe back, my child.'

'I do not mean to mention him again,' said Mary; 'I wish to obey you.'

'Then there's an end of the matter.  You'll get over it, my girl, and
we'll find some honest man worth two of your niggardly, proud-spirited
earls.  There, I know you are a reasonable girl that can be silent, and
not go on teasing.  So, Mary, you may have a cup of tea for me
to-morrow in the sala, like old times.  Goodnight, my dear.'

Waiting upon himself!  That was the reward that Mr. Ponsonby held out
to his daughter for crushing her first love!

But it was a reward.  Anything that drew her father nearer to her was
received with gratitude by Mary, and the words of kindness in some
degree softened the blow. She had never had much hope, though now she
found it had been more than she had been willing to believe; and even
now she could not absolutely cease to entertain some hopes of the
results of Oliver's return, nor silence one lingering fancy that Louis
might yet wait unbound; although she told herself of his vacillation
between herself and Isabel, of his father's influence, and of the
certainty that he would see many more worthy of his love than herself.
Not any one who could love him so well--oh no!  But when Mary found her
thoughts taking this turn, she rose up as she lay, clasped her hands
together, and repeated half aloud again and again, 'Be Thou my all!'

And by the morning, though Mary's cheek was very white, and her eyes
sunken for want of sleep, she had a cheerful word for her father, and a
smile, the very sight of which would have gone to the heart of any one
of those from whom he had cut her off.

Then she wrote her letters.  It was not so hard to make this final
severance as it had been to watch Louis's face, and think of the pain
she had to inflict.  Many a time had she weighed each phrase she set
down, so that it might offend neither against sincerity nor
resignation, and yet be soothing and consoling.  Some would have
thought her letter stiff and laboured, but she had learned to believe
that a grave and careful style befitted a serious occasion, and would
have thought incoherency childish or affected.

She released him entirely from his engagement, entreating him not to
rebel against the decision, but to join her in thankfulness that no
shade need be cast over the remembrance of the happy hours spent
together; and begging him not to grieve, since she had, after the first
pain, been able to acquiesce in the belief that the separation might
conduce to his happiness; and she should always regard him as one of
those most near and dear to her, and rejoice in whatever was for his
welfare, glad that his heart was still young enough to form new ties.
'Forgive me for speaking thus,' she added; 'I know that it may wound
you now, but there may come a time when it may make you feel more at
ease and unfettered; and I could not endure to imagine that the
affection which you brought yourself to lavish on one so unworthy,
should stand in the way of your happiness for life.'  She desired him
to make no answer, but to consider this as the final dissolution: and
she concluded by all that she thought would prove most consoling, as to
the present state of affairs with her; and with a few affectionate
words, to show that he was still a great deal to her, though everything
he might not be.

This done, Mary faced her life in the New World.  She had to form her
habits for herself, for her importance in the house was gone; but she
went to work resolutely, and, lonely as she was, she had far more
resources than if she had never been at Ormersfield.  She had many
hours to herself, and she unpacked her books, and set herself courses
of study, to which Louis had opened the door.  She unveiled her eyes to
natural history, and did not find flower or butterfly unsoothing. She
undertook the not very hopeful task of teaching a tiny negro imp, who
answered the purpose of a bell, to read and work; and she was
persevering in her efforts to get Xavier and Dolores to make her father
comfortable.

Her father was decidedly glad of her company.  He liked conversation,
and enjoyed the morning meeting, to which Mr. Ward was often a welcome
addition, delighting in anything so English, and finding Miss Ponsonby
much improved by her introduction to English society. Sometimes Mary
wrote for her father, and now and then was consulted; and she was
always grateful for whatever made her feel herself of use.  She was on
kind and friendly terms with Rosita, but they did not become more
intimate than at first.  The Senora was swinging in a hammock
half-asleep, with a cigarette between her lips, all the morning; and
when she emerged from this torpid state, in a splendid toilette, she
had too many more congenial friends often to need her step-daughter in
her visits, her expeditions to lotteries, and her calls on her old
friends the nuns.  On a fast-day, or any other occasion that kept her
at home, she either arranged her jewels, discussed her dresses, or had
some lively chatter, which she called learning English.  She coaxed,
fondled, and domineered prettily over Mr. Ponsonby; and he looked on
amused, gratified her caprices, caressed her, and seemed to regard her
as a pretty pet and plaything.



CHAPTER VI.

THE TWO PENDRAGONS.

  The red dragon and the white,
  Hard together gan they smite,
  With mouth, paw, and tail,
  Between hem was full hard batail.
                 The History of Merlin.


SPRING was on the borders of summer, when one afternoon, as Clara sat
writing a note in the drawing-room, she heard a tap at the door of the
little sitting-room, and springing to open it, she beheld a welcome
sight.

'Louis!  How glad I am!  Where do you come from?'

'Last from the station,' said Louis.

'What makes you knock at that door, now the drawing-room is alive?'

'I could not venture on an unceremonious invasion of Mrs. James Frost's
territory.'

'You'll find no distinction of territory here,' laughed Clara.  'It was
a fiction that we were to live in separate rooms, like naughty
children.  Does not the drawing-room look nice?'

'As much improved as the inhabitant.  Where are the other natives?'

'Granny and Isabel are walking, and will end by picking up Jem coming
out of school.  We used to wait for him so often, that at last he said
we should be laughed at, so there's a law against it which no one dares
to transgress but granny.'

'So I conclude that you are a happy family.'

'After all, it was worth spending two years at school to enjoy properly
the having it over.'

'I give Jem credit for having secured a first-rate governess for you.'

'That she is!  Why, with her I really do like reading and drawing all
the morning!  I almost believe that some day I shall wake up and find
myself an accomplished young lady!  And, Louis, have you read the last
Western Magazine?'

'I have read very little for sport lately.'

'Then I must tell you.  Jem was bemoaning himself about having nothing
to give to the new Blind Asylum, and the next evening Isabel brought
out the prettiest little manuscript book, tied with blue ribbon, and
told him to do as he pleased with it.  It was a charming account of her
expedition to the Hebrides, written out for her sisters, without a
notion of anything further; but Jem sent it to this Magazine, and it is
accepted, and the first part is out.  She will have quite a sum for it,
and all is to go to the Blind Asylum!'

'Capital!--Let me take it home to night, Clara, and I will stand an
examination on it to-morrow.'

'We ask her whether she projects a sketch of the Paris Revolution,'
said Clara, laughing.  'She has a famous heap of manuscripts in her
desk, and one long story about a Sir Roland, who had his name before
she knew Jem, but it is all unfinished, she tore out a great many
pages, and has to make a new finish; and I am afraid the poor knight is
going to die of a mortal wound at his lady's feet.  Isabel likes sad
things best;--but oh! here they come, and I'm talking dreadful treason.'

Three more joyous-looking people could hardly have been found than
those who entered the room, welcoming Louis with delight, and asking
what good wind had brought him.

'Partly that Inglewood is crying out for the master's eye,' said Louis;
'and partly that my father fancied I looked fagged, and kindly let me
run down for a holiday.'

'I am of his mind,' said Mrs. Frost, tenderly; 'there is an M.P.
expression gathering on your brows, Louis.'

'For you to dispel, Aunt Kitty.  I told him you were the best
dissipation, and Virginia was of the same mind.  Isabel, she says
Dynevor Terrace is the only place she ever wishes to see again.'

'Do you often see Virginia?' asked Isabel.

'Not unless I go early, and beg for her; and then she generally has
some master.  That last onset of accomplishments is serious!'

'Yes,' said Isabel, 'the sense of leisure and tranquillity here is
marvellous!'

'Not leisure in the sense of idleness,' said James.

'No,' said Isabel; 'but formerly idle requirements thronged my time,
and for nothing worth doing could I find leisure.'

'There is nothing more exacting than idle requirements,' said James.
'Pray is Clara accepting that invitation?  Come to dinner, Louis, and
give us an excuse.'

'No, he won't,' said Mrs. Frost, 'he will take my side.  These young
people want to cast off all their neighbours.'

'Now, granny,' exclaimed James, 'have we not dutifully dined all round?
Did not Isabel conduct Clara to that ball?  Is it not hard to reproach
us with sighing at an evening immolated at the shrine of the
Richardsons?'

'Well, my dears, you must judge.'

'I am ready to do whatever you think right; I leave you to settle it,'
said Isabel, moving out of the room, that Louis might be free for a
more intimate conversation.

'Now,' cried James, 'is it in the nature of things that she should live
in such society as Mrs. Walby's and Mrs. Richardson's?  People who call
her Mrs. James!'

'Such a queen as she looks among them!' said Clara.

'One comfort is, they don't like that,' said James.  'Even Mrs. Calcott
is not flattered by her precedence.  I hope we shall soon be dropped
out of their parties.  As long as I do my duty by their sons, what
right have they to impose the penance of their society on my wife?  All
the irksomeness of what she has left, and none of the compensations!'

'Blissful solitude' said Louis, 'thereto I leave you.'

'You are not going yet!  You mean to dine here?' was the cry.

'My dear friends,' he said, holding up his hands, 'if you only knew how
I long to have no one to speak to!'

'You crying out for silence!' exclaimed James.

'I am panting for what I have not had these five months--space for my
thoughts to turn round.'

'Surely you are at liberty to form your own habits!' said James.

'I am told so whenever my father sees me receive a note,' said Louis,
wearily; 'but I see that, habituated as he is to living alone, he is
never really at ease unless I am in the way; so I make our hours agree
as far as our respective treadmills permit; and though we do not speak
much, I can never think in company.'

'Don't you have your rides to yourself?'

'Why, no.  My father will never ride enough to do him good, unless he
wants to do me good.  People are all surprised to see him looking so
well; the country lanes make him quite blooming.'

'But not you, my poor boy,' said his aunt; 'I am afraid it is a sad
strain.'

'There now, Aunt Kitty, I am gone.  I must have the pleasure of looking
natural sometimes, without causing any vituperation of any one beyond
seas.'

'You shall look just as you please if you will only stay.  We are just
going to dinner.'

'Thank you, let me come to-morrow.  I shall be better company when I
have had my sulk out.'

His aunt followed him to the stairs, and he turned to her, saying,
anxiously, 'No letter?'  She shook her head.  'It would be barely
possible,' he said, 'but if it would only come while I am at home in
peace!'

'Ah! this is sadly trying!' said she, parting his hair on his brow as
he stood some steps below her, and winning a sweet smile from him.

'All for the best,' he said.  'One thing may mitigate another.  That
political whirlpool might suck me in, if I had any heart or hopes for
it.  And, on the other hand, it would be very unwholesome to be left to
my own inertness--to be as good for nothing as I feel.'

'My poor dear boy, you are very good about it.  I wish you could have
been spared.'

'I did not come to make you sad, Aunt Kitty,' he replied, smiling; 'no;
I get some energy back when I remember that this may be a probation.
Her mother would not have thought me man enough, and that is what I
have to work for.  Whether this end well or not, she is the leading
star of my life.'  And, with the renewal of spirit with which he had
spoken, he pressed his aunt's hand, and ran down stairs.

When he rode to Northwold, the following afternoon, having spent the
morning in walking over his fields, he overtook a most comfortable
couple--James and Isabel, returning from their holiday stroll, and
Louis, leaving his horse at the inn, and joining them, began to hear
all their school affairs.  James had thrown his whole heart into his
work, had been making various reforms, introducing new studies, making
a point of religious instruction, and meditating on a course of
lectures on history, to be given in the evenings, the attendance to be
voluntary, but a prize held out for proficiency.  Louis took up the
subject eagerly, and Isabel entered into the discussion with all her
soul, and the grammar-school did indeed seem to be in a way to become
something very superior in tone to anything Northwold had formerly
seen, engrossing as it did all the powers of a man of such ability, in
the full vigour of youth.

Talking earnestly, the trio had reached the Terrace, and James was
unlatching the iron gate, when he interrupted himself in the midst of
detailing his views on modern languages to say, 'No, I have nothing for
you.'

'Sir, I beg your pardon!' was the quick reply from a withered, small,
but not ill-dressed old man, 'I only asked--'

'Let the lady pass,' said James, peremptorily, wishing to save his wife
from annoyance, 'it is of no use, I never look at petitions.'

'Surely he is not a beggar!' said Isabel, as he drew her on.

'You may be easy about him, my dear,' said James.  'He has laid hold of
Louis, who would swallow the whole Spanish legion of impostors. He will
be after us directly with a piteous story.'

Louis was after him, with a face more than half arch fun--'Jem, Jem, it
is your uncle!'

'Nonsense!  How can you be so taken in!  Don't go and disappoint
granny--I'll settle him.'

'Take care, Jem--it is Oliver, and no mistake!  Why, he is as like you
as Pendragon blood can make him!  Go and beg his pardon.'

James hastened down stairs, as Louis bounded up--sought Mrs. Frost in
the sitting-rooms, and, without ceremony, rushed up and knocked at the
bed-room door.  Jane opened it.

'He is come!' cried Louis--'Oliver is come.'

Old Jane gave a shriek, and ran back wildly, clapping her hands.  Her
mistress started forward--'Come!--where?'

'Here!--in the hall with Jem.'

He feared that he had been too precipitate, for she hid her face in her
hands; but it was the intensity of thanksgiving; and though her whole
frame was in a tremor, she flew rather than ran forward, never even
seeing Louis's proffered arm.  He had only reached the landing-place,
when beneath he heard the greeting--'Mother, I can take you
home--Cheveleigh is yours.'  But to her the words were drowned in her
own breathless cry--'My boy! my boy!'  She saw, knew, heard nothing,
save that the son, missed and mourned for thirty-four years, was safe
within her arms, the longing void filled up.  She saw not that the
stripling had become a worn and elderly man,--she recked not how he
came.  He was Oliver, and she had him again!  What was the rest to her?

Those words?  They might be out of taste, but Fitzjocelyn guessed that
to speak them at the first meeting had been the vision of Oliver's
life--the object to which he had sacrificed everything. And yet how
chill and unheeded they fell!

Louis could have stood moralizing, but his heart had begun to throb at
the chance that Oliver brought tidings of Mary.  He felt himself an
intrusive spectator, and hastened into the drawing-room, when Clara
nearly ran against him, but stood still.  'I beg your pardon, but what
is Isabel telling me?  Is it really?'

'Really!  Kindred blood signally failed to speak.'

Clara took a turn up and down the room.  'I say, Louis, ought I to go
down?'

'No; leave him and granny to their happiness,' said Louis; and James,
at the same moment running up, threw himself into a chair, with an
emphatic 'There!'

'Dear grandmamma!' said Isabel; 'I hope it is not too much for her.'

James made no answer.

'Are you disappointed in him, dear James?' she continued.

'I could not be disappointed,' he answered, shortly.

'Poor man--he has a poor welcome among you,' said Louis.

'Welcome is not to be bought,' said James.  'I could not stand hearing
him reply to poor granny's heartfelt rapture with his riches and his
Cheveleigh, as if that were all she could prize.'

Steps were mounting the stairs, and the alert, sharp tones of Oliver
were heard--'Married then?  Should have waited--done it in style.'

James and Isabel glanced at each other in amused indignation; and Mrs.
Frost entered, tremulous with joy, and her bright hazel eyes lustrous
with tears, as she leant on the arm of her recovered son. He was a
little, spare, shrivelled man, drolly like his nephew, but with all the
youthfulness dried out of him, the freckles multiplied by scores, and
the keen black eyes sunken, sharpened, and surrounded with innumerable
shrewd puckers.  The movements were even more brisk, as if time were
money; and in speech, the small change of particles was omitted, and
every word seemed bitten off short at the end; the whole man, in
gesture, manner, and voice, an almost grotesque caricature of all
James's peculiarities.

'Mrs. Roland Dynevor, I presume? said Oliver, as Isabel came forward to
meet him.

'Never so known hitherto,' returned her husband.  'My wife is Mrs.
James Frost, if you please.'

'That is over now,' said Oliver, consequentially; and as his mother
presented to him 'poor Henry's little Clara,' he kissed her
affectionately, saying, 'Well-grown young lady, upon my word!  Like her
father--that's right.'

'Here is almost another grandchild,' said Mrs. Frost--'Louis
Fitzjocelyn--not much like the Fitzjocelyn you remember, but a new M.P.
as he was then.'

'Humph!' said Oliver, with a dry sound, apparently expressing, 'So that
is what our Parliament is made of.  Father well?' he asked.

'Quite well, thank you, sir.'

Oliver levelled his keen eyes on him, as though noting down
observations, while he was burning for tidings of Mary, yet held back
by reserve and sense of the uncongeniality of the man.  His aunt,
however, in the midst of her own joy, marked his restless eye, and put
the question, whether Mary Ponsonby had arrived?

'Ha! you let her go, did you?' said Oliver, turning on Louis.  'I told
her father you'd be no such fool.  He was in a proper rage at your
letter, but it would have blown over if you had stuck by her, and he is
worth enough to set you all on your legs.'

Louis could not bring himself to make any answer, and his mother
interrupted by a question as to Dona Rosita.

'Like all the rest.  Eyes and feet, that's all.  Foolish business! But
what possessed Ormersfield to make such a blunder?  I never saw
Ponsonby in such a tantrum, and his are no trifles.'

'It was all the fault of your clerk, Robson,' said James; 'he would not
refute the story.'

'Sharp fellow, Robson,' chuckled Oliver; 'couldn't refute it.  No; as
he told me, he knew the way Ponsonby had gone on ever since his wife
went home, and of late he had sent him to Guayaquil, about the
Equatorial Navigation--so he had seen nothing;--and, says he to me, he
had no notion of bringing out poor Miss Ponsonby--did not know whether
her father would thank him; and yet the best of it is, that he pacifies
Ponsonby with talking of difficulty of dealing with preconceived
notions.  Knows how to get hold of him.  Marriage would never have been
if he had been there, but it was the less damage. Mary would have had
more reason to have turned about, if she had not found him married.'

'But, Oliver,' said his mother, 'I thought this Robson was an honest
man, in whom you had entire confidence!'

'Ha! ha!  D'ye think I'd put that in _any_ man?  No, no; he knows how
far to go with me.  I've plenty of checks on him.  Can't get business
done but by a wide-awake chap like that.'

'Is Madison under him?' asked Louis, feeling as if he had been
apprenticing the boy to a chief of banditti.

'The lad you sent out?  Ay.  Left him up at the mines.  Sharp fellow,
but too raw for the office yet.'

'Too scrupulous!' said James, in an undertone, while his uncle was
explaining to his mother that he could not have come away without
leaving Robson to manage his affairs, and Mr. Ponsonby, and telling
exultingly some stories of the favourite clerk's sharp practice.

The party went down together in a not very congenial state.

Next to Mrs. Frost's unalloyed gladness, the most pleasant spectacle
was old Jane, who volunteered her services in helping to wait, that she
might have the delight of hovering about Master Oliver, to whom she
attended exclusively, and would not let Charlotte so much as offer him
the potatoes.  And Charlotte was in rather an excited state at the
presence of a Peruvian production, and the flutter of expecting a
letter which would make her repent of the smiles and blushes she had
expended over an elaborate Valentine, admired as an original
production, and valued the more, alas! because poor Marianne had
received none.  Charlotte was just beginning to repent of her
ungenerous triumph, and agitation made her waiting less deft and pretty
than usual; but this mattered the less, since to Oliver any attendance
by women-servants was a shock, as were the small table and plain fare;
and he looked round uneasily.

'Here is an old friend, Oliver,' said his mother, taking up a curious
old soup-ladle.

'I see.  It will take some time to get up the stock of plate.  I shall
give an order as I pass through London.  To be engraved with the
Dynevor crest as before, or would you prefer the lozenge, ma'am?'

'Oh, my dear, don't talk of it now!  I am only sorry this is nothing
but mutton-broth; but that's what comes of sudden arrivals, Oliver.'

'It shall be remedied at home,' said Oliver, as if he considered
mutton-broth as one degree from famine.

'I know you had it for me,' said Louis.  'If Jane excels in one art
before all others, it is in mutton-broth.'

Oliver darted a glance as if he imagined this compliment to be mere
derision of his mother and Jane.

Things went on in this style all the evening.  Oliver had two
ideas--Cheveleigh, and the Equatorial Steam Navigation Company--and on
these he rang the changes.

There was something striking in his devotion of a lifetime to redeem
his mother's fortunes, but the grandeur was not easily visible in the
detail.  He came down on Dynevor Terrace as a consequential, moneyed
man, contemptuous of the poverty which he might have alleviated, and
obtruding tardy and oppressive patronage.  He rubbed against the new
generation in too many places for charity or gratitude to be easy. He
was utterly at variance with taste, and openly broached unworthy
sentiments and opinions, and his kindness and his displeasure were
equally irksome.  If such repugnance to him were felt even by Louis,
the least personally affected, and the best able to sympathize with his
aunt; it was far stronger in James, abhorring patronage, sensible that,
happen what might, his present perfect felicity must be disturbed, and
devoid of any sentiment for Cheveleigh that could make the restoration
compensate for the obligation so unpleasantly enforced; and Isabel's
fastidious taste made her willing to hold aloof as far as might be
without vexing the old lady.

There was no amalgamation.  Fitzjocelyn and Isabel were near the
window, talking over her former home and her sisters, and all the
particulars of the society which she had left, and he had entered;
highly interesting to themselves and to the listening Clara, but to the
uninitiated sounding rather like 'taste, Shakspeare, and the musical
glasses.'

Oliver and his mother, sitting close together, were living in an old
world; asking and answering many a melancholy question on friends, dead
or lost sight of, and yet these last they always made sure that they
should find when they went home to Cheveleigh--that home to which the
son reverted with unbroken allegiance; while the whole was interspersed
with accounts of his plans, and explanations of his vast designs for
the renovation of the old place.

James hovered on the outskirts of both parties, too little at ease to
attach himself to either; fretted by his wife's interest in a world to
which he was a stranger, impatient of his uncle's plans, and trebly
angered by observing the shrewd curious glances which the old man cast
from time to time towards the pair by the window. Fortunately, Mrs.
Frost was still too absolutely wrapt in maternal transport to mark the
clouds that were gathering over her peace.  To look at her son, wait on
him, and hear his voice, so fully satisfied her, that as yet it made
little difference what that voice said, and it never entered her mind
to suppose that all her dear ones were not sharing her bliss.

'You were the first to tell me,' she said, as she bade Louis good night
with fondness additional to her messenger of good news; but, as he
pressed her dear old trembling hand, his heart misgave him whether her
joy might not be turned to pain; and when he congratulated Jane, and
heard her call it a blessed day, he longed to be certain that it would
prove so.

And, before he could sleep that night, he wrote a letter to Tom
Madison, warning him to let no temptation nor bad example lead him
aside from strict justice and fair dealing; and advising him rather to
come home, and give up all prospects of rising, than not preserve his
integrity.

James and Isabel were not merciful to their uncle when they could speak
of him without restraint; and began to conjecture his intentions with
regard to them.

'You don't wish to become an appendage to Cheveleigh?' said James,
fondly.

'I! who never knew happiness till I came here!'

'I do not know what my uncle may propose,' said James, 'but I know you
coincide in my determination that he shall never interfere with the
duties of my office.'

'You do not imagine that he wishes it?'

'I know he wishes I were not in Holy Orders.  I knew he disliked it at
the time of my ordination; but if he wished me to act according to his
views, he should have given himself the right to dictate.'

'By not neglecting you all your youth.'

'Not that I regret or resent what concerns myself; but it was his
leaving me a burden on my grandmother that drove me to become a
clergyman, and a consistent one I will be, not an idle heir-apparent to
this estate, receiving it as his gift, not my own birthright.'

'An idle clergyman!  Never! never!' cried Isabel.  'I should not
believe it was you!  And the school--you could not leave it just as
your plans are working, and the boys improving?'

'Certainly not; it would be fatal to abandon it to that stick, Powell.
Ah! Isabel,' as he looked at her beautiful countenance, 'how I pity the
man who has not a high-minded wife!  Suppose you came begging and
imploring me not to give any umbrage to the man, because you so doted
upon diamonds.'

'The less merit when one has learnt that they are very cold hard
stones,' said Isabel, smiling.

Isabel was a high-minded wife, but she would have been a still better
one if her loving admiration had allowed her to soften James, or to
question whether pride and rancour did not lurk unperceived in the
midst of the really high and sound motives that prompted him.

While their grandmother could only see Oliver on the best side, James
and Isabel could only see him on the worst, and lost the greatness of
the design in the mercenary habits that exclusive perseverance in it
had produced.  It had been a false greatness, but they could not grant
the elevation of mind that had originally conceived it.

The following day was Sunday, and nothing worse took place than little
skirmishes, in which the uncle and nephew's retort and rejoinder were
so drolly similar, that Clara found herself thinking of Miss
Faithfull's two sandy cats over a mouse; but she kept her simile to
herself, finding that Isabel regarded the faintest, gentlest comparison
of the two gentlemen almost as an affront.  All actual debate was
staved off by Mrs. Frost's entreaty that business discussion should be
deferred.  'Humph!' said Oliver, 'you reign here, ma'am, but that's not
the way we get on at Lima.'

'I dare say,' said James.

Mrs. Frost's joy was still undimmed.  It was almost a trance of
gladness, trembling in her smile, and overflowing in her eye, at every
congratulation and squeeze of the hand from her friends.

'Dear Jemmy,' said she, taking his arm as they went home in the
evening, 'did not that psalm seem meant for us?--'If riches increase,
set not your heart upon them.''

James had been thinking it meant for some one; but, as he said,
'certainly not for you, dear granny.'

'Ah! snares of wealth were set far enough from me for a time!  I never
felt so covetous as when there was a report that there was to be an
opposition school.  But now your dear uncle is bringing prosperity
back, I must take care not to set my heart even on what he has gained
for me.'

'I defy riches to hurt you,' said James, smiling.

'Ah!  Jemmy, you didn't know me as a county grandee,' she said, with a
bright sad look, 'when your poor grandpapa used to dress me up. I'm an
old woman now, past vanities, but I never could sit as loose to them as
your own dear wife does.  I never tried.  Well, it will be changed
enough; but I shall be glad to see poor old Cheveleigh.  It does me
good to hear poor Oliver call it home.  If only we had your dear
father!'

'To me Dynevor Terrace is home,' said James.

'A happy home it has been,' said the old lady.

''Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life!'  And
now, Oliver, whom I never thought to see again--oh! what can I do to be
thankful enough!  I knew what he was doing!  I knew he was not what you
all thought him!  And roughing it has been no harm to you or Clara, and
it is all over now!  And the dear old place comes back to the old name.
Oh, James, I can sometimes hardly contain myself--that my poor boy has
done it, and all for me, and his brother's children!'

James could scarcely find it in his heart to say a single word to damp
her joy, and all his resolution enabled him to do was to say gently,
'You know, dear granny, we must not forget that I am a clergyman.'

'I know.  I have been telling your uncle so; but we can do something.
You might take the curacy, and do a great deal of good.  There used to
be wild places sadly neglected in my time.  I hope that, since it has
been given back to us, we may feel it more as a stewardship than I did
when it was mine.'

James sighed, and looked softened and thoughtful.

'Your uncle means to purchase an annuity for Jane,' she added; 'and if
we could only think what to do for the Faithfulls!  I wonder whether
they would come and stay with us.  At least they can never vex
themselves again at not paying rent!'

After a pause--'Jem, my dear, could you manage to give your uncle the
true account of your marriage?  He admires Isabel very much, I can tell
you, and is pleased at the connexion.  But I fancy, though he will not
say so, that Mr. Ponsonby has desired him to find out all he can about
Louis; and unluckily they have persuaded themselves that poor Louis
courted Isabel, supposing that she was to have Beauchastel, and,
finding his error, betook himself to Mary.'

'Turning Isabel over to me!  Extremely flattering.'

'Now, Jem, don't be angry.  It is only foolish talk!  But unluckily I
can't persuade your uncle not to think the real story all my
partiality; and you might do much more, if it be not too unpleasant to
you.'

'Thank you, granny, it is out of the question.  If it were as he does
us the honour to imagine, I should be the last person to confess it. My
evidence could be of no service to Fitzjocelyn, when my uncle's maxim
is to place confidence in no one.  The sole refutation in my power is
the terms on which we meet.'

'Now, I have vexed you.  I wish I had said nothing about it; but when
dear Louis's happiness may depend on his report--'

'If I were base enough to have acted as he supposes, I should be base
enough to deny it.  There is not enough to be hoped to make me speak
with unreserve on such a subject.'

He saved himself from saying--to such a man; but the shrewd, suspicious
old bachelor was not an inviting confidant for the vicissitudes of
delicate and tender feelings of such recent date, and Mrs. Frost
reproached herself with asking too much of her proud, sensitive
grandson.

The black gown and trencher cap by no means gratified Oliver, when
James set off to school on Monday morning; but he consoled himself with
observing, 'We shall soon put an end to that.'

'James is quite devoted to the school,' said Isabel, and she was
answered by the dry growl.

'It will be a hard thing to transplant our young people,' said Mrs.
Frost, 'they have managed to be very happy here.'

'So hard of transplantation that I doubt the possibility,' said Isabel.
'You have made us take very deep root here.'

'Have you ever seen Cheveleigh, Mrs. Dynevor?'

'Never.'

'Poor Oliver! you and I think no place equal to our birthplace,' said
Mrs. Frost.

'I should think Mrs. Roland Dynevor would find it compensation.  How
many beds did we make up, mother, the year my father was sheriff?'

'You must go to Jane for that,' said his mother, laughing.  'I'm sure I
never knew.'

'I believe it was twenty-seven,' said Oliver, gravely.  'I know there
were one hundred and eighty-five persons at the ball, and that the room
was hung with blue brocade, mother; and you opened the ball with Lord
Francis.  I remember you had violet satin and white blonde.'

'My dear, how can you remember such things!  You were a little bit of a
schoolboy!'

'I was sixteen' said Oliver.  'It was the year '13.  I will have the
drawing-room hung with blue brocade, and I think Mrs. Roland Dynevor
will own that nothing can exceed it.'

'Very likely,' said Isabel, indifferently; and she escaped, beckoning
with her Clara, who was rather entertained with the reminiscences over
which granny and Uncle Oliver seemed ready to linger for ever; and yet
she was rather ashamed of her own amusement and interest, when she
heard her sister-in-law say, 'If he did but know how weary I am of that
hateful thing, a great house!'

'I hope Cheveleigh is not grander than Ormersfield,' said Clara, in an
odd sort of voice.

The ladies, for the first time, did not sit together this morning.
Clara practised, and Isabel took the Chapel in the Valley out of her
desk, and began a process of turning the Sir Roland into Sir Hubert.

Oliver and his mother were in the sitting-room, and, on James's return
from school in the middle of the day, he was summoned thither. Mrs.
Frost was sitting by the fire, rather tearful and nervous, and her son
stood full in the front, as dignified and magnanimous as size and
features would permit, and the same demeanour was instantly and
unconsciously assumed by his nephew, who was beyond measure chafed by
the attempt at a grand coup.

'I have requested your presence,' began Oliver, 'as the eldest son of
my elder brother, and thus, after my mother, the head of our family.
You are aware that when unfortunate circumstances involved my mother's
property, it was my determination to restore the inheritance to her,
and to my dear brother Henry.  For this object, I have worked for the
last thirty-four years, and a fortunate accident having brought our
family estate into the market, I have been enabled to secure it.  I am
now ready to make it over to my mother, with entail to yourself and
your heirs, as representatives of my brother Henry, and settling five
thousand pounds on your sister, as the portion to which the younger
children of our family have always been entitled. If you are willing to
reside at our family seat with my mother, I will assure you of a
suitable allowance during her lifetime, and--'

Nothing was more intolerable to a man like James than a shower of
obligations; and his spirit, angered at the very length of the address,
caught at the first opening for avoiding gratitude, and beheld in the
last proposal an absolute bribe to make him sacrifice his sacred
ministry, and he burst forth, 'Sir, I am much obliged to you, but no
offers shall induce me to forsake the duties of my calling.'

'You mistake, if you think I want anything unclerical.  No occasion to
hunt--Mr. Tresham used in my day--no one thought the worse of
him--unlucky your taking Orders.'

'There is no use in entering on that point,' said James.  'No other
course was left open to me, and my profession cannot be taken up nor
laid down as a matter of convenience.'

'Young men are taught to think more seriously than they were in our
day,' said Mrs. Frost.  'I told you that you must not try to make him
turn squire.'

'Well! well! good living may be had perhaps.  Move to Cheveleigh, and
look out for it at leisure, if nothing else will content him.  But
we'll have this drudgery given up.  I'll not go home and show my
nephew, heir of the Dynevors, keeping a third-rate grammar-school,'
said Oliver, with his one remaining Eton quality of contempt for
provincial schools.

The Northwold scholar and master were both roused to arms in James.

'Sir,' he said, 'you should have thought of that when you left this
heir of the Dynevors to be educated by the charity of this third-rate
grammar-school.'

'Is this your gratitude, sir!' passionately exclaimed Oliver; 'I, who
have toiled my whole life for your benefit, might look for another
return.'

'It was not for me,' said James.  'It was for family pride.  Had it
been from the affection that claims gratitude, you would not have left
your mother in her old age, to labour unaided for the support of your
brother's orphans.  For ourselves, I thank you; the habits nurtured by
poverty are the best education; but I cannot let you suppose that a
grand theatrical restoration can atone to me for thirty years' neglect
of my grandmother, or that my gratitude can be extorted by benefactions
at the expense of her past suffering.'

'Jem! dear Jem! what are you saying!' cried Mrs. Frost.  'Don't you
know how kindly your uncle meant?  Don't you know how happy we have
been?'

'You may forgive.  You are his mother, and you were injured, but I can
never forget what I have seen you undergo.'

'You foolish boy, to forget all our happiness--'

'Nor,' proceeded James, 'can I consent to forego the career of
usefulness that has been opened to me.'

'But, Jem, you could be so useful in the parish! and your uncle could
not wish you to do anything unhandsome by the trustees--'

'I wish him to do nothing, ma'am,' said Oliver.  'If he is too high and
mighty to accept a favour, it is his own loss.  We can do without him,
if he prefers the Fitzjocelyn patronage.  Much good may it do him!'

James deigned no answer, looked at his watch, and found it time to
return to the school.

Oliver broke out into angry exclamations, and his mother did her utmost
to soothe him.  He had no turn for being a country-gentleman, he was
fit for nothing but his counting-house, and he intended to return
thither as soon as he had installed his mother at Cheveleigh; and so
entirely did all his plans hinge upon his nephew, that even now he was
persuaded to hold out his forgiveness, on condition that James would
apologize, resign the school, and call himself Dynevor.

Mrs. Frost hoped that Isabel would prevail on her husband to listen
favourably; but Isabel gloried in his impracticability, and would have
regarded any attempt at mediation as an unworthy effort to turn him
aside from the path of duty.  She replied, that she would never say a
word to change his notions of right, and she treated poor Oliver with
all the lofty reserve that she had formerly practised upon possible
suitors.

When Fitzjocelyn came in the afternoon to take leave, before his return
to London, Mrs. Frost begged him to use his influence with James.  'Who
would have thought it would have so turned out?' she said.  'My poor
Oliver! to be so met after all his generous plans! and yet Jem does
want to do right!'

Unfortunately, Louis felt that, to own Oliver's generosity, it was
necessary to be out of sight of him; and finding that there was silence
and constraint in the drawing-room, he asked Isabel to walk with him to
meet James.

'One breathes freely!' said she, as they left the house.  'Was there
ever a more intolerable man?'

'Never was a man who made a more unlucky error in judgment.'

'And that is all you call it?'

'The spurious object warped the mind aside,' said Louis.  'The grand
idea was too exclusive, and now he suffers for the exclusiveness.  It
is melancholy to see the cinder of a burnt-offering to Mammon,
especially when the offering was meant for better things.'

In this strain he chose to talk, without coming to particulars, till,
near the corner of the old square, they met the shouting throng of
boys, and presently James himself, descending the steps of the grim old
grey building.

'I thought you would forgive me for coming to meet you under such an
escort,' said Isabel, 'especially as it was to escape from our Peruvian
relative.'

'Poor man! it was a great pity he did not come last year!' said Louis.

'I am glad I have no temptation to bend to his will,' returned James.

'Ha!  I like the true core of the quarrel to display itself.'

'Fitzjocelyn, you do not mean that you do not fully approve of the
course I have taken!'

'Extremely magnanimous, but not quite unprecedented.  Witness St.
Ronan's Well, where the younger Scrogie abjures the name of Mowbray.'

'Pshaw!  Louis, can't you understand?  Frost is a glorious name to me,
recording my grandmother's noble exertions on our behalf, but I can
imagine it to be hateful to him, recalling the neglect that made her
slaving necessary.'

'For which amiable reason you insist on obtruding it.  Pray, are the
houses henceforth to be Frost Terrace or Arctic Row?'

'Are you come to laugh or to remonstrate?' exclaimed James, stopping.

'Oh! you want to put on your armour!  Certainly, I should never tell if
I were come to remonstrate, nor should I venture in such a case--'

'Then you are come to approve,' said Isabel.  I knew it!'

'Little you two care--each of you sure of an admiring double.'

'I care for your opinion as much as ever I did,' said James.

'Exactly so,' said Louis, laughing.

'I desire to have your judgment in this matter.'

'If I could judge, I would,' said Louis.  'I see you right in
principle, but are you right in spirit?  I own my heart bleeds for Aunt
Kitty, regaining her son to battle with her grandson.'

'I am very sorry for her,' said James; 'but it can't be helped.  I
cannot resign my duties here for the sake of living dependent on a
suitable allowance.'

'Ah! Jem! Jem!  Oliver little knew the damage his neglect did you.'

'What damage?'

'The fostering an ugly little imp of independence.'

'Aye! you grandees have naturally a distaste for independence, and make
common cause against it.'

'Especially when in a rabid state.  Take care, Jem.  Independence never
was a Christian duty yet--'

'Then, you want me to go and live on the hoards for the sake of which
my grandmother was left to toil.  You would like to see me loitering
about, pensioned to swell the vanity of Cheveleigh, neglecting my vows,
forsaking my duties--'

'You unreasonable man!  Is there no way in this whole world for you to
do your duty as a clergyman, but hearing Northwold boys the Latin
grammar?'

'Then, what do you want me to do?'

'I don't want you to do anything.  You are the man to know what is
right; only, Isabel, don't help him to hate people more than can
possibly be avoided; and don't break dear Aunt Kitty's heart amongst
you.  That's what I care most about!'

When Louis bade his aunt farewell, he threw his arm round her neck,
looked fondly at her, and said, 'Dear aunt, you won't let them tease
you?'

'No, my dear, I am getting past being teased,' she said.  'Vexations
don't hurt me as much as love does me good, and they'll not forget
their affection.  It is all goodness in Jem, and poor Oliver will
understand it when I have got him into our home ways again; but he has
been so long away from home, poor fellow!'

'That's right.  I won't be uneasy for you.  Squabble as they will, they
won't hurt you. But, oh!  Dynevor Terrace without you!'

'Ah! you must come to me at _home_!'

'Home!  I'm like Jem, jealous for this old house.'

'It is odd how little I feel these things,' said his aunt.  'If any one
had told me, when I tore myself away from Cheveleigh, that I should
have it back, how little I should have thought that I could take it so
easily!  I wonder at myself when I wake in the morning that I am not
more moved by it, nor by leaving this dear old place. I suppose it is
because I have not long to stay anywhere.  I can keep nothing in my
head, but that I have got my Oliver!'

'I believe it is the peace that is not of this world!' said Louis.



CHAPTER VII.

ROLAND AND OLIVER

    'Twas old ancestral pride,
  'Twas hope to raise a fallen house
    From penury's disgrace,
  To purchase back from usurers
    The birthright of his race.
                       The Lump of Gold--C. MACKAY.


Mary's letter arrived not long after Louis's return to London; and her
calm, serious, beautifully-expressed farewell came upon him at last
like a blow which had been long impending, but of which preparation had
failed to lessen the weight.

'Ah!' said the Earl, when the chief part had been read to him, 'she is
admirable and excellent as ever.  It is a great disappointment that she
is unattainable, but I am glad she writes so sensibly, and sees that it
is right you should think no more about her.  After all, the connexion
with that fellow Ponsonby might have been very troublesome, and it is
well, as she says, that it was all over while you are so young.'

'Young or old, there is no other Mary in the world,' said Louis, sadly.

'We will say no more about it now.  I understand you, but you will
think differently by-and-by.'

Louis did not answer.  He knew that others might have been deceived by
the tardiness and uncertainty of his attachment, but that it had taken
such deep root, that he believed he could no more detach himself from
Mary than if she were his wife.  His heart fainted as he thought of
years without the strength and soothing which her very letter breathed
forth; as he pictured to himself alternations between his chill and
stately home and the weary maze of London, foresaw persuasions from his
father to induce him to form some new attachment, and dreaded to think
of the facility with which, perhaps, he might still be led out of his
own convictions.  Yet he still believed that patience and perseverance
would win the day, and tried to derive encouragement and energy from
the thought that this might be a trial sent for the very purpose of
training him in steadfastness.

A strong impulse drew him to Bryanston Square, where Miss Ponsonby was
very kind and warm, the more so because she had discovered how much
easier it had been to say than to unsay, and strongly regretted the
injustice she had done him.  He had the satisfaction of talking for a
good hour about Mary, and of sending a message, that he did not write
because he wished to be guided by her in everything, and that he was
striving to work so as to please her.  The conversation ended with some
good auguries as to the effect of Oliver's return to Peru; and Louis
went away cheered, bearing the final dismissal better than his father
had expected.  Lord Ormersfield attributed his tranquillity to having
his mind settled; and so it was, though not quite as his lordship
imagined.

Meantime, there was a lull at Dynevor Terrace.  Oliver was gone to take
possession and furnish the mansion, and Mrs. Frost's great object was
to keep the subject from irritating her grandson, so as to save him
from binding himself by any rash vows.  Cheveleigh was treated in the
domestic circle with judicious silence, Oliver's letters were read by
his mother in private, and their contents communicated to Jane alone,
whose happiness was surpassing, and her contempt for Dynevor Terrace
quite provoking to poor Mrs. Martha.

'Really,' said Charlotte one day, 'I don't think a catastrophe is half
so pretty as it ought to be.  Mr. Oliver is but a poor little puny man,
and I never knew Mr. James so hard to please.'

Charlotte and Marianne had begun to merge their rivalry in honest
friendship, cemented by Marianne's increasing weakness, and difficulty
in getting through even the light work her mistress required.  Jane
petted her now still more than Charlotte, and was always promising her
the delightful air and the luxuries of Cheveleigh.

'See here, Charlotte,' said Marianne, one afternoon when they sat down
together to their sewing; Marianne's eyes were brighter, and her cheeks
pinker, than for many days--'See here; it is for your good I show it
you, that you mayn't build on no false expectations.  It was marked
private; but I think it but fair you should see.'

'Mine was marked private too,' said Charlotte, slowly, as she fixed her
eyes on the envelope Marianne held out to her, and putting her hand
into her pocket, pulled out a similar one, directed to Miss Arnold.

Marianne scarcely suppressed a shriek, gasped, and turned pale.  Each
lady then proceeded to unfold a pink sheet of note-paper, containing an
original copy of verses, each labelled, 'On a hair of ----.'  Then came
a scented shining note, requesting to be informed whether the right
construction had been put on some words that had dropped from the Miss
Conways, and if it were true that the reverend and respected Mr. F.
Dynevor had come into a large fortune.  In that case, Mr. Delaford,
mercenary considerations apart, would take the earliest opportunity of
resigning his present position, and entering the family which contained
his charmer.

The Merry Wives were parodied by the hysterical maids.  Charlotte might
afford to laugh, but Marianne's heart was more in the matter, and they
struck up such a chorus that Jane broke upon them, declaring that they
would frighten Mrs. James Frost out of her senses.  When Charlotte told
her what was the matter, her comment was, 'And a very good thing, too,
that you should find him out in time!  A pair of silly girls you!  I
always was thankful I never could write, to be deluded with nonsense by
the post; and I am more so than ever now! Come, leave off crying,
Marianne; he ain't worth it.'

'But how shall we answer him, Mrs. Beckett?' said Charlotte.

'Never demean yourself to answer him,' said Jane; 'let him never hear
nought about you--that's the best for the like of him.  I can tell him
he need not be in no hurry about giving warning to Lady Conway. At
Cheveleigh we'll have a solemn, steady butler, with no nonsense, nor
verses, nor guitars--forty years old--and a married man.'

Charlotte took the advice, and acted with dignified contempt and
silence, relieved to imagine that Tom had never been in danger from
such a rival.  Marianne did not divulge the tender and melancholy
letter of reproach that she posted privately; but she grew paler, and
coughed more, all that bright summer.

Mrs. Frost had refused to let any cause remove her from Northwold,
until after an event which it was hoped would render James less
disdainful of his inheritance.  But--'Was there ever anything more
_contrary_?' exclaimed Jane, as she prepared to set out the table for a
grand tea.  'There's Master James as pleased and proud of that there
little brown girl, as if she was as fine a boy as Master Henry himself.
I do believe, upon my word, it is all to spite poor dear Master Oliver.'

Poor Jane, she was almost growing tart in her partizanship of Oliver.

The little brown girl was no dove of peace.  Her father decidedly
triumphed in the mortification that her sex was to others of the
family; and though he averred that the birth of a son would not have
made him change his mind, he was well satisfied to be spared the attack
which would have ensued.  Oliver, like Jane, appeared to regard the
poor child as a wilful offence, and revenged himself by a letter
announcing that Clara would be his heiress, information which Mrs.
Frost kindly withheld from her granddaughter, in the hope of a
reconciliation.

Lord Ormersfield took James in hand, undertaking to make him hear
common sense; but the sense was unfortunately too common, and the
authoritative manner was irritating, above all when a stately warning
was given that no Church-preferment was to be expected from his
influence; whereupon James considered himself insulted, and they parted
very stiff and grand, the Earl afterwards pronouncing that nothing was
so wrongheaded as a conscientious man.  But they were too much
accustomed to be on respectfully quarrelsome terms to alter their
regard for one retort more or less; and after all, there were very few
men whom Lord Ormersfield liked or esteemed half so much as the
fearless and uncompromising James Frost--James Frost--as he curtly
signed himself, in spite of all Louis's wit on Rolands and Olivers--and
yet those soft satirical speeches did more than all direct attacks to
shake his confidence in his own magnanimity; more especially because
Fitzjocelyn always declared himself incompetent to judge, and never
failed to uphold that he was so far right, that his ministry must stand
above all worldly considerations.

The breach had become so wide, that Oliver would not have accepted the
terms he had formerly offered.  His object seemed to be to pique his
nephew and niece, by showing them what they had lost.  He wrote the
most magnificent descriptions of Cheveleigh, and insisted that his
mother and Clara should come and take possession on the eightieth
birthday of the former, the 14th of September; and Isabel was
recovering so rapidly, that there was nothing to oppose to his project,
although the new Catharine would be scarcely three weeks old by that
time.

Thereupon came down, addressed to Clara, a case of Peruvian jewels,
newly set in London--intended doubtless to excite great jealousy in her
sister-in-law.  Poor Oliver! could he but have known that Isabel only
glanced at them to tell Clara the names of the ornaments, and to
relieve her mind by assurances that the whole of a set need not be worn
at once!  Next arrived an exceedingly smart French milliner, who, by
the help of Jane and Marianne, got Clara into her toils, and pinned and
measured her for a whole mortal morning; and even grandmamma ordered a
black velvet gown and accompaniments.

Lastly, there descended on Clara's devoted head a cheque for a sum
which terrified her imagination, and orders to equip herself suitably
as Miss Dynevor of Cheveleigh, who was to enjoy the same allowance
half-yearly.  Her first idea was what delightful presents could be made
to every one; but as she was devising showers of gifts for her niece,
James cut her short,--'I am sorry to give you pain, Clara, but it must
be understood that neither directly nor indirectly can I nor mine
receive anything bought with my uncle's money.'

'That was the only thing to make me not hate it.'

'It is best you should hate it.'

'I do!  Why did he come home to bother us?  Oh, Jem, can't I still live
here, and only visit there?'

'No, Clara.  The care of granny is your first duty; and during her
life, so long as you are single, her home must be yours.'

The edict was given in stern self-abnegation; but James was very kind
to her, treating her as a victim, and spending his leisure in walking
about with her, that she might take leave of every favourite haunt. He
was indulgent enough even to make no objection to going with her to
Ormersfield, where she wandered about the park, visited old scenes with
Louis, and went over all his improvements.  His cottages had as yet the
sole fault of looking too new, and one of his tenants would not shut up
his pigs; but otherwise all was going on well, and Inglewood was in the
excitement of Louis's first harvest.  He walked about with ears of
wheat in his hand, talked knowingly of loads and acres, and had almost
taught his father to watch the barometer.  It added to Clara's regrets
that she should miss the harvest-supper, for which he and Mr.
Holdsworth had wonderful designs; but it was not to take place until
Fitzjocelyn's return from Cheveleigh.  Oliver had invited him and his
father to conduct Mrs. Frost thither, and add eclat to her reception;
and this, as Clara said, 'was the only comfort in the business.'

James had effectually destroyed all pleasure on her part, and had made
the change appear an unmitigated misfortune, even though she did not
know what she would have thought the worst.  Congratulations were
dreadful to her, and it was all that Isabel could do to persuade her to
repress her dislike so as not to distress her grandmother.

To Mrs. Frost it was pain to leave what she owned, with thankful tears,
to have been a happy, peaceful refuge for her widowhood and poverty;
she grieved over each parting, clung to the Faithfulls, reiterated fond
counsels to Isabel, and could hardly bear to detach herself from the
great-grandchild.  But still it was her own son, and her own home, and
Oliver and Cheveleigh were more to her than even James and Dynevor
Terrace; so that, though she was sorry, it was not with a melancholy
sorrow, and she could still hope against hope, that uncle and nephew
might be brought together at last, and that a son of James would yet
reign in the dear old place.

Besides, she had not time to be unhappy.  She was fully employed
nursing Isabel, doing honour to the little one, answering Oliver's
letters, superintending Clara's wardrobe; choosing parting gifts for
innumerable friends, high and low; and making arrangements for the
inexperienced household.

Jane's place was to be--not exactly supplied, but occupied by a cook.
Miss Dynevor was to have 'a personal attendant;' and Mrs. Beckett
begged that Marianne might be chosen, since she could not bear to see
the poor thing sent away, when in so much need of care.  The diamonds,
the French millinery, and Jane's motherly care, came in strong contrast
to the miserable lodging, or the consumptive hospital, which poor
Marianne had begun to anticipate; and weeping with gratitude, she
declared that she had never seen nor thought of such kindness since her
mother died.

Isabel seldom roused herself to understand anything about her servants;
but she liked Marianne, and was glad Clara should have her, since she
was not strong enough to undertake nursery cares.  She believed it had
not agreed with her to sit up late.  Compunction for having been the
cause had never dawned on Isabel's mind.

Charlotte was to remain at Dynevor Terrace; James and Isabel wished to
keep her, and Mrs. Beckett thought her sufficiently indoctrinated with
her ways to have some chance of going on well.  'Besides,' as Jane
said, 'I can't be accountable for taking her into that large family,
until I see what company there may be.  She's a well-behaved girl
enough, but she's too pretty and too simple-like for me to have her
among the common run of servants.  I'll see what I can do for her, when
I see what sort of a housekeeper it is.'

And Jane gave Charlotte infinite injunctions, varying from due care of
the 'chaney images' to reserve with mankind.  'Because you see,
Charlotte' she said, 'you'll be terribly forsaken.  Mrs. James, poor
dear!--she would not know if the furniture weren't rubbed once in ten
years; but you must make it a pride to yourself to be faithful.'

'I am faithful!' cried Charlotte.  'I never cared for that traitor,
Delaford, and his guitar; but I could not get rid of him.  And I'll
tell you what--I'll seal up his fine red book, and all his verses; and
you shall leave them in London as you go through, with my compliments.
I think that will be proper and scornful.'

'Hoity-toity!  That's what she's at!  The best thing you can do too,
Charlotte; and I'm glad that you've too much spirit to pine like poor
Marianne.  I'd take my affidavit that if the crowner could sit upon her
when she dies--and die she will--that there fine gentleman and his
guitar will be found at the bottom of her chest.  But don't go off
about that now--though 'tis the reason I won't part from the poor thing
till I can help--the better luck for you that you'd got more in your
head than vanities and furbelows.  What I meant was not being faithful
to him out in Peru--that's your own affair, but the being faithful to
your duty to your mistress, whether she's after you or not.  You know
what a good servant is, and you've got to show it ain't all
eye-service.'

Charlotte cried heartily.  No one else was allowed that privilege when
the 13th came, excepting Mrs. Frost herself.  James, afraid that a
scene would hurt his wife, severely forbade Clara to give way; and the
poor girl, mute and white, did as she was told, and ventured not a word
of farewell, though her embraces were convulsive, and when she went
down stairs she could not help kissing Charlotte.

James handed his grandmother to her seat in the carriage which was to
take her to the station.

'Good-bye, my dear,' she said; 'I know the day will come when all this
will be made up.  You know how I have loved you both.'

'I wish my uncle all good.'

'I see it now,' she said, holding his hand between both of hers.  'It
is my fault.  I fostered our family pride.  May God take away the sin
from us both!'

The words were hardly articulate through tears, and perhaps James did
not hear.  He hurried Clara down the garden and into the carriage, and
she had her last nod from Miss Faithfull at the open window. Miss Mercy
was at the station, whither school-hours had hindered James from
accompanying them, but where they found Lord Ormersfield and Louis.

The warm-hearted little woman was all tears and smiles.  'Oh! dear Mrs.
Frost, I am so sorry, and yet it is selfish.  I am so happy! but where
shall we find such another neighbour?'

'Come and see us.  You know you are to persuade your sister.'

'Ah!'  She shook her head.  'Salome is hard to move.  But you--you are
such a traveller--you will come to see Mr. James?'

'I'm eighty to-morrow: I little expect to make any more journeys except
one, Mercy.  I never look to see poor Northwold more; but it has been a
place of blessings to me, and you have been one of them. Don't think
I'm too glad to go away, but I cannot but be thankful that my dear boy
is bringing me home to lay me down where my father and his father lie.'

It was said with that peculiar cheerfulness with which happy old age
can contemplate the end of the pilgrimage, and she looked at Louis with
a sunny smile.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE RESTORATION.

  When silent time, wi' lightly foot,
    Had trod on thirty years,
  I sought again my native land
    Wi' mony hopes and fears.
  As I drew near my ancient pile,
    My heart beat a' the way;
  The place I passed seemed yet to speak
    Of some dear former day.
  Some pensy chiels, a new-sprung race,
    Wad next their welcome pay;
    *   *   *   *   *
  But sair on ilka well-kenned face
    I missed the youthful bloom.
                         Miss Blamire


Oliver had sent orders to his mother to sleep in London, and proceed
the next morning by a train which would arrive at about two o'clock.

On that eventful morning, Clara was the prey of Mrs. Beckett, Marianne,
and the French milliner, and in such a flounced glace silk, such a lace
mantle, and such a flowery bonnet was she arrayed, that Lord
Ormersfield bowed to her as a stranger, and Louis talked of the
transformations of the Giraffe.  'Is it not humiliating,' she said, 'to
be so altered by finery?  You might dress Isabel for ever, and her
nobleness would surmount it all.'

'If you are not the rose, at least you have lived near the rose,' said
Louis.  'You don't fall quite short of the character of Miss Dynevor.'

'I wish I were going to school,' said Clara, as they passed along
familiar streets; 'then, at least, some one would pity me.'

After two hours spent on the railroad, the train entered a district
with the bleakness, but not the beauty, of the neighbourhood of
mountains; the fresh September breeze was laden with smoke, and
stations stood thick upon the line.  As the train dashed up to one of
these, a flag was seen waving, and the shout of 'Cheveleigh, Cheveleigh
road!' greeted them.

On the platform stood a tall footman, in the most crimson of coats,
powdered hair, and a stupendous crimson and white shoulder-knot, auch
as Clara had only seen going to St. James's.  She would never have
imagined that she had any concern with such splendour; but her
grandmother asked him if the carriage were there, as a mere matter of
course, and Jane devolved on him all luggage cares, as coolly as if she
had been ruling over him all his life.

As they issued from the station, a thin, uncertain, boyish cheer rang
out, and before them stood a handsome open carriage and four chestnut
horses, with crimson postillions, and huge crimson-and-white satin
rosettes.

'Wont they all turn to rats and pumpkins?' whispered Clara to Louis.

'Bless the poor boy!' cried Mrs. Frost, between laughing and crying,
'what has he been about?  Does he think I am the Sheriff's lady still?'

The party entered the carriage, and the crowd of little boys and girls,
flymen and porters, got up another 'hurrah!' as the four horses went
thundering off, with Mrs. Frost apologizing--'Poor Oliver's notions
were on such a grand scale!--He had been so long absent, that he did
not know how much these things had been disused.' But no one could look
at her bright tearful eyes, and quivering mouth, without seeing that
she exulted in her son's affection and his victory; and after all it
was natural to her, and a resumption of old habits.

They drove through two miles of brown flat heath, with far-away
mountain outlines, which she greeted as dear friends.  Here and there
the engine-house of a mine rose up among shabby buildings, and
by-and-by was seen a square church-tower, with lofty pinnacles, among
which floated forth a flag.  The old lady caught hold convulsively of
Clara's hand--'The old church!--My old church!--See, Clara, that is
where your dear grandfather lies!--My last home!'

With brimming eyes Mrs. Frost gazed on it as it came forth more
distinctly, and Clara looked with a sense of awe; but rending her away
from grave thoughts, shouts burst upon her ears, and above them the
pealing crash of all the bells, as they dashed under a splendid
triumphal arch, all evergreens and dahlias, forming the word 'Welcome!'
and were met by a party on horseback waving their hats, while a great
hurrah burst out from the numbers who lined the street. Mrs. Frost
bowed her thanks and waved her hand.  'But oh!' she said, almost
sobbing, 'where am I?  This is not Cheveleigh.'

Lord Ormersfield showed her a few old houses that they both recognised,
looking antiquated in the midst of a modern growth of narrow, conceited
new tenements.  The shouting crowd had, to Fitzjocelyn's eyes, more the
aspect of a rabble than of a genuine rejoicing peasantry.  What men
there were looked beer-attracted rather than reputable, and the main
body were whooping boys, women, nurse-girls, and babies.  The suspicion
crossed him that it was a new generation, without memories of forty
years since, wondering rather than welcoming, in spite of arches,
bells, and shouts.

After another half-mile, a gate swung wide beneath another arch, all
over C. D., the F. studiously omitted; and the carriage wheeled in amid
a shower of tight little nosegays from a squadron of school-children.
They drove up the long approach, through fir plantations, which drew
from Mrs. Frost a cry of friendly recognition--for her husband had
planted them; but they had not taken kindly to the soil, and fifty
years had produced but a starveling growth.  Beyond lay an expanse of
parched brown turf, here and there an enclosure of unprosperous trees,
and full in front stood the wide space of stuccoed wall, with a great
Gothic window full in the midst, and battlements in the castellated
style of the early years of the nineteenth century.

No one spoke.  After the first glance, Mrs. Frost shut her eyes to
restrain the hot tears that arose at the thought of the wintry morning,
when ice-drops hung hoary on the fir-trees, as she had driven away from
the portal, whence music was now pealing forth a greeting, and where
Oliver was standing on the very spot where, with clenched hand, he had
vowed that all should be restored.

Alas! how much was in his power to restore?

Gaily-dressed people surrounded the entrance, and, amid triumphant
strains from the band, the carriage stopped, and Oliver held out his
hand, saying, 'Welcome home, mother!'

She leant forward, kissed his brow, and suffered him to lead her up the
steps to the hall-door, Lord Ormersfield conducting Clara.  At the door
Mrs. Frost paused, to turn, curtsey, and sign her thanks to the throng
who had followed.  Her noble aspect and demeanour, so full of dignity
and feeling, obtained a fresh and more genuine acclamation; but
throughout there was a strange sense of unreality; she seemed like one
performing a part to gratify her son.  Clara asked her cousin if it
were not like acting a play; and it was plain to him that the
spectators beheld it with more curiosity than sympathy.

They were a new race.  Property had changed hands rapidly in a region
of trade and manufacture, and the old Dynevor name had been forgotten
past recall, amid the very population who were thriving upon the
identical speculations which had swamped Mr. Frost's fortune.  If the
crowd without looked like a mob, the assembly within had a parvenu
appearance; and as Oliver handed his mother across the hall, he
muttered something, as if he were disappointed both in the number and
consequence of his guests.

He led her into a magnificent apartment, all gilding, blue brocade, and
mirrors, as far as might be after the model of the days of the
Shrievalty; but the bare splendour could ill recall the grace and
elegance that had then reigned there without effort.  Peru had not
taught Oliver taste either of the eye or of the mind, and his
indefatigable introductions--'My mother, Mrs. Dynevor, my niece, Miss
Dynevor, Lord Ormersfield, Lord Fitzjocelyn,' came so repeatedly as
quite to jingle in their ears.

Sir Andrew Britton, a burly cotton lord, with a wife in all the colours
of the rainbow, seemed to be the grand guest.  His lady seated herself
beside Mrs. Frost, and began to tell her, with a tone of patronage, how
good a neighbourhood it was, and how much pleasure she should have in
introducing Miss Dynevor.

In vain did Mrs. Frost look for a face she knew, and inquire from her
new acquaintance after familiar old names of places and people.  The
places were either become factories, or some charming new family lived
there; and for the people, it seemed as if she might as well ask for
antediluvians; Lady Britton had seldom heard their names, or if any
trace survived, they had never been on her visiting list.

At last Oliver came up to her, saying, 'Here, ma'am, Mr. Henderson
claims an early acquaintance with you.'

'Mr. Henderson!' and she eagerly started up, but looked baffled.

'Little George Henderson,' said the grey-headed gentleman--for once a
real gentleman--'I assure you I have not forgotten the happy days I
have spent here.'

'Little George!' as she took him by both hands--'who would have thought
it!  You were little George with the apple cheeks.  And are no more of
you here?'

He shook his head sadly.  'They would have been even more glad than I
am to welcome you home; they were older, and knew you better.'

'Ah!  I must learn to ask no questions.  And yet, that dear sister
Fanny of yours--'

'Gone many years since, ma'am.  She died in India.  I hope my daughter
Fanny may put you a little mind of her.'

'Is she not here?'

'Why, no.  I wished to bring her, but she is but fifteen, and mamma
will not trust her out without herself.  We are quiet people, and the
world is growing too gay for us.'

'Clara and I must come to find you out.  Can you believe this tall
creature is poor dear Henry's daughter?' as Clara hastened to greet her
father's playfellow, with an alacrity which piqued Lady Britton into a
supercilious aside to Lord Fitzjocelyn that the Hendersons were in poor
circumstances, and no one visited them.

'And is no one here whom I know?  Not one of the old set, George?'
asked the old lady, mournfully.

'I fear there is hardly any one,' said Mr. Henderson.  'All seem even
to me new people.  Stay, do you recollect old Mrs. Golding?'

After a little confusion, Mr. Henderson's old Mrs. Golding proved to be
Mrs. Frost's young Mrs. Golding; and, on the eager inquiry whether she
were present, ensued the melancholy answer that she was deaf and
infirm, only just able to smile with pleasure at the tidings of her old
friend's restoration; and the daughter, whom she could only just
believe to be grown up, was a worn, elderly woman.  Not even the one
heartfelt greeting was without sadness; and Clara likewise met with one
solitary satisfaction, and that a very mixed one.  Mr. Danvers, the
young curate, whom Oliver had not thought worth presenting, was hailed
by Fitzjocelyn as if their slight Oxford acquaintance had been an
intimacy, and was by him introduced to Clara as belonging to James's
college.  She frankly held out her hand, but was discomfited by his
inquiry for her brother, whom he had hoped to meet.  Louis said
something about not expecting the schoolmaster abroad in the half-year,
and Clara was not at all grateful to him for relieving her from the
embarrassment, but regarded the reply as a shabby prevarication, and
was much inclined to speak out; but Louis was drawing the curate into
conversation about the population, and hearing but a desponding
history.  It was interrupted when Oliver, after waiting in vain for
more distinguished company, began to marshal his guests to the grand
hall, paved with black and white marble, and with a vast extent of wall
and window, decked with evergreens, flags, and mottoes.  Here a cold
collation was prepared, with a band in a music-gallery above, and all
the et ceteras dear to county papers.  Oliver himself handed in Lady
Britton, his mother fell to the lot of the Earl, and Fitzjocelyn
received orders to conduct a handsome, young, giggling Mrs. Smithers,
who, never having been in contact with a live Lord, wanted to make the
most of him, and, before she had arrived at her place, was declaring
that it was a most interesting occasion, just like a scene at the Opera.

Louis glanced back to see what became of Clara, and, finding her
following with Sir Andrew Britton, contrived to sit immediately
opposite to her, at the long, narrow table, with nothing between them
but a couple of cold chickens and a tongue garnished with transfixed
crayfish.  His eyes were, perhaps, a greater support to her than even
conversation, for she gathered a little philosophy and charity from
their cheering smile and arch twinkling, and she managed to listen
civilly to her neighbour, while she saw that her cousin was being very
polite to Mrs. Smithers.  She was a great way from all other friends,
for the table had been spread for a more numerous assembly, and the
company sat in little clusters, with dreary gaps between, where moulds
of jelly quaked in vain, and lobster-salads wasted their sweetness on
the desert air.  Her uncle could just be seen in the far perspective at
the head of the table, and, between him and the Earl, Louis descried
his Aunt Catharine, looking bright, with a little embellishing flush on
her withered cheek.

Sir Andrew was not a lady's man; and, after he had heard how far Miss
Dynevor had come to-day, that she had never ridden, and had not seen
the Menai tubular bridge, he discontinued the difficult task; and she,
finding that he had not even seen the cathedral, which she had passed
only fifteen miles off, gave him up, and occupied herself with watching
the infinite variety of affectations which Mrs. Smithers was playing
off, and the grave diversion with which Louis received them. The lady
was evidently trying to discover what had been the intermediate history
of Mrs. and Miss Dynevor; and Louis was taking pleasure in baffling
her, with cool, quiet answers, especially when she came to the question
whether Miss Dynevor had not a brother, and why he was not present.  It
appeared that Oliver had made almost as if his mother had been buried
and dug up again; involving the thirty-four years of her exile in such
utter mystery, that people had begun to make all sorts of wild stories
to account for her proceedings; and Lord Fitzjocelyn's explanation that
she had lived in her own house in Northwold, and taught him the Latin
grammar, seemed quite a disappointment from the simplicity and want of
romance.

The weary banquet had arrived at ices, and Clara hoped the end was
near, when the worse trial of speeches began.  Mr. Henderson was
declaring how strongly he felt the honour which had been devolved on
him, of expressing the universal joy in having so excellent and
much-beloved a neighbour restored by the noble exertions of her son.
He said all that the rest of the world ought to have felt, and so
heartily and sincerely as to make every one imagine the whole the
general sentiment, and the welcoming hurrah was cordial and joyous.
Mrs. Frost was deeply touched and gratified, and Lord Ormersfield
congratulated himself on having instigated Oliver to give this toast to
Mr. Henderson.  If Clara could have driven James from her mind, she
would have been delighted, but there could be no triumph for her where
he was excluded.

The Earl returned thanks on behalf of his aunt, and said a great deal
that could have come from the mouth of no one 'unaccustomed to public
speaking,' ending by proposing the health of 'Mr. Oliver Frost
Dynevor.'  In the midst of 'the fine old English gentleman,' while
Louis was suppressing a smile at the incongruity, a note was brought to
him, which he tossed to Clara, purporting that he was to return thanks
for her.  She bent over the table to say, 'You will say nothing I
cannot bear to hear,' folded her hands, and shut her eyes, as if she
had been going to stand fire.

Oliver's clear, harsh tones, incapable of slowness or solemnity, began
to return thanks for himself, and pronounce this to be the happy day to
which he had been looking throughout his life--the day of restoring the
family inheritance to his mother, and the child of his elder brother;
he faltered--he never could calmly speak of Henry. Failing the presence
of one so dear, he rejoiced, however, to be able to introduce to them
his only daughter, and he begged that his friends would drink the
health of the heiress of Cheveleigh, Miss Dynevor.

Never did toast apparently conduce so little to the health of the
subject.  Unprepared as Clara was for such a declaration, it was to her
as if she had been publicly denounced as the supplanter of her brother.
She became deadly white, and sat bolt upright, stiff and motionless,
barely stifling a scream, and her eyes fixed between command and
entreaty on her cousin without seeing, far less acknowledging, the bows
levelled at her.  Louis, alarmed by her looks, saw that no time was to
be lost; and rising hastily before any one was ready, perilled his fame
for eloquence by rapidly assuring the gentlemen and ladies that Miss
Dynevor was truly sensible of the kindness of their welcome, and their
manner of receiving the toast. Then pushing back his chair, with 'never
mind,' to Mrs. Smithers and her scent-bottle, he was at the back of
Clara's chair almost before her confused eyes had missed him in her
gasps for breath, and impulse to do something desperate; and so she
might, if his voice had not been in her ear, his hand grasping hers,
both to console and raise her.  'Clara, come, take care.'  She obeyed,
but trembling so much that he was obliged to support her.  Others would
have risen in alarm, but he silenced them by signs, and entreaties that
no one would frighten her grandmother.  There was a large glass door
standing open under the Gothic window, and through it he led her out
upon a wide green lawn.  She drew her breath in sobs, but could not
speak.  Louis asked her to untie her bonnet, and touched the string,
which was merely a streamer.  This brought a kind of laugh, but she
unfastened the bonnet herself, and the first use she made of her breath
was fiercely to exclaim--'How could you!  Why did you not tell them I
never will--'

'Sit down,' said Louis, gently.  'Let me fetch some water.'

'No--no--let me get away from this place!' and she almost dragged him
along, as fresh cheers and peals of music broke out, till they had
entered a lonely walk in a sort of wilderness of shrubs.  Still she
hurried on, till they came out on a quiet little garden, where the
tinkling of a little fountain was the only sound; the water looked
clear and fresh with the gold-fish darting in it, and the sun shone
calmly on the bright flowers and wavy ferns adorning the rockwork.

'What are you doing, Clara?  You must rest here,' said he, drawing her
down on a rustic bench, intended to represent a crocodile.

'I can't rest here!  I must go home!  I'm going home to Jem!' she
exclaimed, obeying, however, because, though she could run, she could
not stand.

'Dear Clara,' he said, affectionately, 'it was much worse than I
expected.  I never believed he could have committed himself to such an
open declaration, especially without warning.'

'I'll not stay!' cried Clara, with all the vehemence of her Dynevor
nature.  'I'll go straight home to Northwold to-morrow
morning--to-night if I could.  Yes, I will!  I never came here for
this!'

'And what is to become of my poor Aunt Kitty?'

'She has her Oliver!  She would not have me put Jem out of his
birthright.'

'James will not be put into it.'

She wrenched away her hand, and looked at him with all her brother's
fierceness.  'And you!' she cried, 'why could not you speak up like a
man, and tell them that I thank none of them, and will have nothing to
say to any of them; and that if this is to belong to any one, it must
be to my noble, my glorious, generous brother; and, if he hasn't it, it
may go to the Queen, for what I care!  I'll never have one stone of it.
Why could you not say so, instead of all that humbug'!'

'I thought the family had afforded quite spectacles enough for one
day,' said Louis; 'and besides, I had some pity upon your grandmother,
and on your uncle too.'

'Jem told me grandmamma claimed my first duty; but he never knew of
this wicked plan.'

'Yes, he did.'

'Knew that I was to supplant him!'

'Yes; we all knew it was a threat of your uncle; but we spared you the
knowledge, thinking that all might yet be accommodated, and never
expecting it would come on you in this sudden way.'

'Then I think I have been unfairly used,' cried Clara; 'I have been
brought here on false pretences.  As if I would have come near the
place if I had known it!'

'A very false pretence that your grandmother must not be left alone at
eighty, by the child whom she brought up.'

'Oh, Louis! you want to tear me to pieces!'

'I have pity on my aunt; I have far more pity on your uncle.'  Clara
stared at him.  'Here is a man who started with a grand heroic purpose
to redeem the estate, not for himself, but for her and his brother; he
exiles himself, he perseveres, till this one pursuit, for which he
denies himself home, kindred, wife or child, absorbs and withers him
up.  He returns to find his brother dead; and the children, for whom he
sacrificed all, set against him, and rejecting his favours.'

This was quite a new point of view to Clara.  'It is his own fault,'
she said.

'That a misfortune is by our own fault is no comfort,' said Louis. 'His
apparent neglect, after all, arose from his absorption in the one
object.'

'Yes; but how shameful to wish James to forget his Ordination.'

'A strong way of putting it.  He asked too much: but he would have
been, and may yet be, contented with concessions involving nothing
wrong.  His way of life can hardly have taught him to appreciate
James's scruples, as we do; and even if right and wrong were more
neatly partitioned between them than I think they are, it would still
be hard on him to find this destined heir spurning his benefits.'

'What are you coming to, Louis!  You think James right?

'I would give the world to think so, Clara.  One motive is too high for
praise, the other--No, I will say nothing of it.  But I could wish I
had not precipitated matters last year.'

'What, would you have robbed us of our few happy months?'

'It was your uncle whom I robbed; he would otherwise have come home
like a good genius; but he found you all happy without him, and with no
gratitude to spare for him.  And there he sits at the head of that long
melancholy table, trying to bring back days that have gone too far ever
to be recalled, and only raising their spectres in this mocking finery;
scarcely one man present, whose welcome comes from his heart; his
mother past the days of heeding the display, except for his sake; his
nephew rejecting him; you indignant and miserable. Oh, Clara!  I never
saw more plainly money given for that which is not bread, and labour
for that which satisfieth not.  Empty and hollow as the pageant was, I
could better bear to take my part in it, so far as truth would let me,
than tell that poor man that the last of his brother's children rejects
him and his benefits.'

'At this rate, you will make a hero of Uncle Oliver.'

'It is because he is one of this world's heroes that he is distasteful
to you.'

'I don't understand.'

'Exclusive devotion to one object, grand though it was, has made him
the man he appears to us.  Think what the spirit must have been that
conceived and carried out such a design!  Depend upon it there is a
greatness in him, which may show, when, as dear granny says, she has
cured him of all he learnt away from home.  I think that must be the
work for which you are all brought together here.'

'But I can't thrust out Jem.  I won't stay here on those terms.  I
shall protest--'

'It is not graceful to make an uproar about your own magnanimity, nor
to talk of what is to happen after a man's death.  You don't come here
to be heiress, but to take care of your grandmother.  There is no need
to disturb the future, unless, to be sure, you were obliged to explain
your expectations.'

'Ah! to be sure, any way I could restore it all to James.'

'Or, better still, you may yet be able to draw the uncle and nephew
together, and bring back peace and union.'

'Then I must stay and bear all this, you think?'

'As a mere matter of obedience, certainly.'

Clara's countenance fell.

'That may deprive it of the brilliance of a voluntary sacrifice; but,
after all, it is what makes your course safe and plain.'

'And very dismal, just because no one will believe so.'

'So the safer for humility,' said Louis.  'Perhaps the dear old Terrace
did not offer training and trial enough.  I try to believe something of
the kind in my own case.  If choice had been mine, I should hardly have
been exactly what I am; and you know how my chief happiness has been
put far from me; but I can imagine that to be at the summit of my
wishes might foster my sluggishness, and that I might rest too much on
better judgment than my own, if it were beside me.  Probation maybe
safer than joy; and you may do more good to yourself and others than
even under Isabel's wing.  Only think of the means in your hands, and
all the wretched population round!  There will be some hope of help for
the curate now--besides, I shall know where to come for subscriptions
next time I run crazy about any wonderful charity.'

Clara smiled.  'I suppose I must bear it,' she said.

'For shame, Clara!  With Aunt Kitty, who would make a palace of a
dungeon, in the glorious glow of such a sunset, turning each cloud to
red and purple radiance by the very force of love and faith, who could
regret the being beside her?  My own dear and precious aunt, to see her
so happy, with bliss and peace so undisturbed, so far above these toys,
and these distresses, gives me a sort of fear--'

'Oh, don't, Louis--'

They were interrupted by approaching voices.  Clara hastily started up,
as her uncle and Lady Britton appeared in the green alley.

'Oh, must I go back to them all!  My head does ache!'

Louis gave her his arm, pursued the path in the opposite direction, and
emerged at the lower end of the bowling-green, with the battlemented
front of the house rising before them.  Presently, he met his father
searching for him.  'Poor Clara has been overcome,' he said, in
explanation.  'The speechifying has been too much for her.'

It was the first time that Clara had appeared to the Earl in any light
but that of an idle school-girl, and he said, kindly, 'It must have
been very trying.  There should have been more preparation. Your uncle
would have shown better taste in sparing your grandmamma so obtrusive a
reception, and I was much pained both for her and for you during some
of the speeches.'

Sympathy from Lord Ormersfield nearly overthrew Clara again, and she
involuntarily squeezed Louis's arm.  He asked for his aunt, and was
told, 'She is in the house, entertaining these people.  They do not
know when to go away.  How could Oliver inflict such a party on her and
such a style of people!'

'I must go and help her,' said Louis.

Clara was in no condition to appear, but Louis caused Mrs. Beckett to
be summoned, and committed her to her care.  Her transport was one of
the few pleasant things of that day.  'Oh, Miss Clara!  Oh, my Lord!
Was there ever the like?  Isn't Master Oliver the most blessed boy?
Missus in her own home again!  Eight men, and a French man-cook!  If
ever I thought to see the day!  Her old room just as it was, only
grander!  Oh, if poor Mr. James was but here!'

'Ay, Jane, and here's Clara thinking herself ill about Mr. James. Take
her up and give her some tea, and make her fit to behave prettily
by-and-by, that granny may not be vexed.'

Having seen her safe under Jane's fondling care and infectious
exultation, he betook himself to the drawing-room, relieved his aunt's
anxiety by a whisper, and won golden opinions from the whole company,
before they were fairly got rid of; and Oliver begged to conduct his
mother to her apartment.  'Yes, my dear, I must go to poor little
Clara.'

'I've no fears for Clara,' said Oliver, as he led her upstairs.
'Knowing young fellow to wait for my announcement!  I can give her near
double what Ponsonby could. I'd not object--old Dynevor blood--'

'My poor Oliver, you have so learnt to think of money, that you can't
believe others live for anything else.  You'll learn your mistake.'

'You think the young chap meant nothing?  I shall look sharp after him,
then.  I look on Clara as my own.  I'll have no trifling.'

'You may save yourself the trouble,' said his mother.  'They understand
each other--they have always been like brother and sister, and I cannot
have the children teased, or things put into their heads.'

Oliver laughed his scornful chuckle, and said he did not understand
that sort of brother and sister, but happily he became absorbed in
showing his mother the fittings of her splendid bedroom.

Clara had the comfort of clinging round her grandmother's neck, and
being told that it was all nonsense.  Jem should have his rights, and
Uncle Oliver would learn to love and honour him at last; and she was a
good child, and ought to have been prepared, if granny could have
guessed he would do it so publicly and suddenly, but she must forgive
him, for he was beside himself at having got them home again, and he
could not make enough of her because she was poor Henry's child.  So
she saw granny must not be grieved, and she let herself be dressed for
a constrained dinner in the vast dining-room, where the servants
outnumbered the diners, and the silver covers bore the Dynevor dragon
as a handle, looking as spiteful as some of the race could do.

Oliver was obliged to conclude that no offer had passed between the two
young people; but on the way home next morning the Earl observed,
'Clara Frost has a fine figure, and is much improved by dress.  She
shows excellent feeling, and does credit to her education.'

'The Pendragon blood never had a finer development,' said Louis.

'Even supposing justice done to poor James, she will have a handsome
portion.  Oliver will have far more to dispose of than the five
thousand pounds guaranteed to her.'

'Poor child!' said Louis.

'Yes, I pity her for being exposed to his parading.  He forgot the
gentleman in his merchant's office.  If you should ever have any
thoughts of rescuing her from him, my approval would not be wanting,
and it would be the easiest way of restoring her brother.'

'My dear father, if Clara and I were always sister and brother when she
was poor, we certainly shall be no more now.'

Lord Ormersfield mentally execrated Mr. Ponsonby, and felt that he had
spoken too soon.

Jane's felicity was complete when, a few days after, she received,
addressed in Lord Fitzjocelyn's handwriting, an Illustrated News, with
a whole page containing 'the reception of Mrs. Dynevor of Cheveleigh,'
with grand portraits of all the flounces and veils, many gratuitous
moustaches, something passing for Oliver standing up with a wine-glass
in his hand, a puppy that would have perfectly justified Mr. Ponsonby's
aversion representing Lord Fitzjocelyn, and no gaps at the
banquet-table.

That picture Mrs. Beckett caused to be framed and glazed, kept it as
her treasure for life, and put it into her will as a legacy to
Charlotte Arnold.



CHAPTER IX.

THE GIANT OF THE WESTERN STAR.

  Come, let us range the subterranean vast,
  Dark catacombs of ages, twilight dells,
  And footmarks of the centuries long past,
  Which look on us from their sepulchral cells.

  Then glad emerge we to the cheering day,
  Some sun-ranged height, or Alpine snowy crown,
  Or Chimborazo towering far away
  O'er the great Andes chain, and, looking down,
  On flaming Cordilleras, mountain thrown
  O'er mountain, vast new realms.
                   The Creation--REV. I. WILLIAMS.


The same impression of the Illustrated London News which delighted Jane
Beckett's simple heart in England, caused no small sensation at Lima.

Dona Rosita cast one glance at El Visconde there portrayed, and then
became absorbed in Clara's bonnet; Mr. Robson pronounced Lord
Ormersfield as good a likeness as Mr. Dynevor, Mr. Ponsonby cast a
scornful look and smile at the unlucky figure representing Fitzjocelyn;
and not a critical voice was heard, excepting Tom Madison's, who
indignantly declared that they had made the young Lord look as if he
had stood behind a counter all his life.

The juxtaposition of Lord Fitzjocelyn and Mr. Dynevor's niece, was not
by any means forgotten.  It looked very like a graceful conclusion to
Oliver's exertions that he should crown their union, and the county
paper, which had likewise been forwarded, very nearly hinted as much.
Mr. Ponsonby took care that the paragraph should be laid in his
daughter's way, and he offered her the sight of Oliver Dynevor's own
letter.

Mary suspected that he regarded it as something conclusive, and took
care to read it when there were no eyes to mark her emotions.
'Ormersfield and his son were there,' wrote Oliver.  'The young man is
not so soft as he looks.  They tell me he is going to work sensibly at
the estate, and he has a sharp eye for the main chance. I hear he
played fast and loose till he found your daughter had better prospects
than Miss Conway, whom my fool of a nephew chose to marry, and now he
is making up to my niece.  My mother dotes on him, and I shall make no
objection--no extravagance that I can see, and he will take care of the
property.  You will take no offence, since you refuse the tender
altogether.'

Of this Mary believed two sentences--namely, that Aunt Catharine doted
on Fitzjocelyn, and that he was not so soft as he looked, which she
took as an admission that he was not comporting himself foolishly.  She
was quite aware that the friendship between him and Clara might deceive
an uninitiated spectator; and, though she commanded herself to think
that an attachment between them would be equally natural and desirable,
she could not but look with great satisfaction at the easy unsuspicious
tone of Mrs. Frost's letter, which, after mentioning with much
affection and gratitude all Oliver's attempts to make her happy, in
spite of the many sad changes around, ended by saying that poor Clara
felt the separation from her brother so much, that without dear Louis
she did not know how she would have gone through the festivities.  'You
can guess how he is everything to us all,' said Aunt Kitty, 'and I
brightened up his looks with giving him your last letter to read.  I
dare say, Miss Mary, you would like to scold me.'

Aunt Kitty!  Aunt Kitty! you dearly loved a little kindly mischief! Let
that be as it might, Mr. Ponsonby thought that Mr. Dynevor's letter had
certainly not had much effect, for Mary was more lively and cheerful
than he had seen her since her first arrival.  Mary's cheerfulness was
becoming the more necessary to him, since he was beginning a little to
weary of the childish charms of his young Limenian wife.  Rosita had
neither education nor conversation; and when all her pretty ways had
been tried on him in succession, they began to grow tedious.  Moreover,
the playful submission which she had brought from her convent was
beginning to turn into wilfulness. Her extravagances in dress were
appalling.  She refused to wear the same dresses twice, and cried,
stamped her graceful foot, and pouted when he remonstrated.  She
managed to spend every evening in amusement, either at the Opera, or at
evening parties, where her splendid eyes, and scraps of broken English,
made great havoc among young lieutenants and midshipmen visiting Lima.
Mr. Ponsonby was growing tired of these constant gaieties, and
generally remained at home, sending Mary in his stead, as a sort of
guard over her; and Mary, always the same in her white muslin, followed
Rosita through all the salas of Lima--listened to the confidences of
Limenian beauties--talked of England to little naval cadets, more
homesick than they would have chosen to avow--and felt sure of some
pleasure and interest for the evening, when Mr. Ward came to stand by
her chair.

One afternoon, as Mary sat in her window reading, a gay voice
exclaimed, 'Beso las manos a Usted;' and looking up, she saw one of the
prettiest figures imaginable.  A full dark purple satin skirt just
revealed the point of a dainty white satin shoe.  It was plaited low on
the hips, and girded loosely with a brightly striped scarf. The head
and upper part of the person were shrouded in a close hood of elastic
black silk webbing, fastened behind at the waist, and held over the
face by the hand, which just allowed one be-ringed finger and one
glancing dark eye to appear, while the other hand held a fan and a
laced pocket-handkerchief.  So perfectly did the costume suit the air
and shape of the lady, that, as she stood among Mary's orange trees, it
was like an illusion, of the fancy, but consternation took away all the
charm from Mary's eyes.  'Tapada, she cried; 'you surely are not going
out, tapada?'

'Ah, you have found me out,' cried Rosita.  'Yes, indeed I am! and I
have the like saya y manto ready for you.  Come, we will be on the
Alameda; Xavier waits to attend us.  Your Senor Ouard will be at his
evening walk.'

But Mary drew back.  This pretty disguise was a freak, such as only the
most gay ladies permitted themselves; and she had little doubt that her
father would be extremely displeased at his wife and daughter so
appearing, although danger there was none; since, though any one might
accost a female thus veiled, not the slightest impertinence was ever
allowed.  Mary implored Bosita to wait till Mr. Ponsonby's views should
be known; but she was only laughed at for her English precision, and
the pretty creature danced away to her stolen pleasure.

She came in, all glory and delight at the perplexity in which she had
involved the English officers, the guesses and courtesies of her own
countrymen, and her mystification of Mr. Robson, who had evidently
recognised her, though pretending to treat her as a charming stranger.

The triumph was of short duration.  For the first time, she had aroused
one of Mr. Ponsonby's gusts of passion; she quailed under it, wept
bitterly, and made innumerable promises, and then she put on her black
mantilla, and, with Xavier behind her, went to her convent chapel, and
returned, half crying over the amount of repetitions of her rosary by
which her penance was to be performed, and thereby all sense of the
fault put away.  Responsibility and reflection never seemed to be
impressed on that childish mind.

Mary had come in for some of the anger, for not having prevented
Rosita's expedition; but they were both speedily forgiven, and Mary
never was informed again of her using the saya y manto.

Their minds were diverted by the eager desire of one of the young
officers to visit the silver mines.  It had been an old promise to Mary
from her father to take her to see them; but in her former residence in
Peru, it had never been fulfilled.  He now wished to inspect matters
himself, in order to answer the numerous questions sent by Oliver; and
Rosita, eagerly catching at any proposal which promised a variety, a
party was made up for ascending to the San Benito mines, some days'
journey from Lima.  Mary and Rosita were the only ladies; but there
were several gentlemen, three naval officers, and Mr. Ward, who was
delighted to have an opportunity of visiting the wonders which had
been, for many years, within his reach without his rousing himself from
his business to see them.  Tents, bedding, and provisions were to be
carried with them, and Mary had full occupation in stimulating Dolores
to bring together the requisite preparations; while Mr. Ward and Robson
collected guides, muleteers, and litters.

It was a merry party, seated on the gaily-trapped mules, with an idle
young midshipman to make mischief, and all in spirits to enjoy his
nonsense, in the exhilaration of the mountain air blowing freshly from
the snowy summits which seemed to rise like walls before them. The
steaming, misty, relaxing atmosphere of Lima was left behind, and with
it many a care and vexation.  Mr. Ponsonby brought his mule to the side
of his wife's litter, and exchanged many a joke in Anglo-Spanish with
her and the lieutenant; and Mr. Ward, his brow unfurrowed from
counting-house cares, walked beside Mary's mule, gathered each new
flower for her, and listened to her narrative of some of the causes for
which she was glad, with her own eyes, to see Tom Madison in his scene
of action.

The first day of adventure they slept at a hacienda, surrounded with
fields where numerous llamas were pasturing.  The next began the real
mountain work; the rock looked like a wall before them, and the white
summits were sharply defined against the blue sky.  The sharper air
made Rosita shiver; but the English travellers congratulated themselves
on something like a breeze, consoling them for the glow with which the
sunbeams beat upon the rocks.  The palms and huge ferns had given place
to pines, and these were growing more scanty. Once or twice they met a
brown Indian, robed in a coloured blanket, with a huge straw hat, from
beneath which he gazed with curious, though gentle eyes, upon the
cavalcade.  By-and-by, looking like a string of ants descending a
perpendicular wall, Mary beheld a row of black specks slowly moving.
She was told that these were the mules bringing down the metal in
panniers--the only means of communication, until, as the lieutenant
promised, a perpendicular railroad should be invented.  The electricity
of the atmosphere made jokes easily pass current.  The mountain was
'only' one of the spurs of the Andes, a mere infant among the giants;
but, had it been set down in Europe, Mont Blanc must have hid his
diminished head; and the view was better than on some of the more
enormous neighbours, which were both further inland, and of such
height, that to gaze from them was 'like looking from an air-balloon
into vacancy.'  Whereas here Mary had but to turn her head, as her mule
steadily crept round the causeway--a legacy of the Incas--to behold the
expanse of the Pacific, a sheet of glittering light in the sunshine,
the horizon line raised so high, that the first moment it gave her a
sense of there being something wrong with her eye, before the feeling
of infinity rushed upon her.

They were turning the flank of the mountain, and losing the sunshine.
The evening air was almost chill, and the clearness such that they
already saw the ragged height whither they were bound rising in craggy
shattered grandeur, every flat space or gentler declivity covered with
sheds and huts for the work-people, and cavernous mouths opening on the
cliff-side.  Dark figures could be distinctly seen moving about; and as
to the descending mules, they seemed to be close on the other side of a
narrow ravine.  Rosita, who, now it came to the point, was not without
fears of sleeping on the bare mountain-side, wanted to push on; she was
sure they could arrive before night, but she was told that she knew
nothing of mountain atmosphere; and she was not discontented with the
bright fire and comfortable arrangements on which they suddenly came,
after turning round a great shoulder of rock.  Mr. Robson and the
sumpter-mules had quietly preceded them, and the gipsying on the Andes
was likely to be not much less luxurious than an English pic-nic.  The
negro cook had done his best; Mary made her father's coffee, and Rosita
was waited on to her satisfaction.  And when darkness came on, too
early for English associations with warm days, the lights of the
village at the mine glittered merrily, and, apparently, close at hand;
and the stars above shone as Mary had never seen them, so marvellously
large and bright, and the Magellan clouds so white and mysterious.  Mr.
Ward came and told her some of the observations made on them by
distinguished travellers; and after an earnest conversation, she sought
her matted bed, with a pleasant feeling on her mind, as if she had been
unusually near Louis's world.

Clear, sharp, and cold was the air next day; the snow-fields glistened
gloriously in the rising sun, and a rose-coloured mist seemed to rise
from them.  Rosita was shown the unusual spectacle of hoar frost, and
shiveringly profited by Mary's ample provision of wraps.  The
hill-sides were beyond conception desolate and bare. Birds were an
almost unknown race in Peru; and here even green things had departed,
scarcely a tuft of blossom looking out on the face of the red and
purple rock; and the exceeding stillness so awful, that even the
boy-sailor scarce dared to speak above his breath.  Rosita began to
repent of having come near so horrible a place; and when she put her
head out of her litter, and beheld herself winding along a ledge
projecting from the face of a sheer precipice, she would have begged to
go back instantly; but her husband spoke in a voice of authority which
subdued her; she drew in her head into her basket-work contrivance, and
had recourse to vows to Sta Rosa of Lima of a chaplet of diamond roses,
if she ever came safely down again.

Mary had made up her mind that they should not have been taken thither
if there were any real danger; and so, though she could have preferred
her mule taking the inner side of the ledge, and was not too happy when
it climbed like a cat, she smiled, and answered all inquiries that she
did not think she ought to be frightened.  The region was in general
more stern than beautiful, the clefts between the hills looking so
deep, that it seemed as if an overthrown mountain could hardly fill
them; but now and then came sudden peeps of that wonderful ocean; or
almost under her feet, as if she could throw a stone into it, there
would lie an intensely green valley, shut in with feathering pines, and
the hacienda and grazing llamas dwindled, so that they could have been
taken for a Swiss farm and flocks of sheep.

Not till the middle of the day did they meet the line of mules, and not
until the sunset did they find themselves close before the wonderful
perforated San Benito summit.  It was, unlike many other metalliferous
hills, an isolated, sharply-defined mass of rock, breaking into sudden
pinnacles and points, traversed with veins of silver.  These veins had
been worked with galleries, which, even before the Spanish conquest,
had honeycombed the solid rock, and had been thought to have exhausted
its riches; but it had been part of Oliver Dynevor's bold speculations
to bring modern science to profit by the leavings of the Peruvians and
their destroyers.  It was a marvellous work, but it might still be a
question whether the profit would bear out the expense.

However, that was not the present consideration.  No one could feel
anything but admiring astonishment at the fantastic craggy height of
peaks and spires, rising against the darkening sky, like the very
stronghold of the Giant of the Western Star; and, with the black
openings of the galleries, here and there showing the lights of the
workmen within.  Mary remembered the tales, in which Louis used vainly
to try to interest her, of metal-working Dwarfs within the mountains;
and would have been glad to tell him that, after all, reality was quite
as strange as his legends.

The miners, Indians and negroes, might truly have been Trolls, as, with
their brown and black countenances, and wild bright attire, they came
thronging out of their rude houses, built of piled stones on every
tolerably level spot.  Three or four stout, hearty Cornish miners, with
picks on their shoulders, made the contrast stranger; and among them
stood a young man, whose ruddy open face carried Mary home to
Ormersfield in one moment; and she could not but blush almost as if it
had been Louis, when she bent her head in acknowledgment of his bow.

He started towards her as if to help her off her mule; but Mr. Ponsonby
was detaining him by questions, and Mr. Ward, as usual, was at her
rein.  In a wonderfully brief time, as it seemed to her, all the
animals were led off to their quarters; and Robson, coming up,
explained that Madison's hut, the only habitable place, had been
prepared for the ladies--the gentlemen must be content to sleep in
their tent.

'The hut was at least clean,' said Robson, as he ushered them in; and
Mary felt as if it were a great deal more.  It was rudely built, and
only the part near the hearth was lined with matting; the table and the
few stools and chairs were rough carpentry, chiefly made out of boxes;
but upon the wall hung a beautiful print from Raffaelle, of which she
knew the giver as surely as if his name had been written on it; and the
small bookcase suspended near contained, compressed together, an
epitome of Louis's tastes--the choicest of all his favourites, in each
class of book.  Mary stood by it, reading the names, and trying to
perceive Louis's principle of selection in each case.  It jarred upon
her when, as the gentlemen loitered about, waiting for the evening
meal, they came and looked at the titles, with careless remarks that
the superintendent was a youth of taste, and a laugh at the odd
medley--Spenser, Shakspeare, 'Don Quixote,' Calderon, Fouque, and
selections from Jeremy Taylor, &c.

Mary would hear no more comments.  She went to the fire, and tried to
persuade Rosita they would come safe down again; and then, on the
apology for a mantelshelf, she saw some fossils and some dried grasses,
looking almost as if Fitzjocelyn had put them there.

She did not see Madison that night; but the next morning he presented
himself to act as their guide through the wonders of the extraordinary
region where his lot had been cast.  She found that this was only the
first floor of the wondrous castle.  Above and above, rose galleries,
whence the ore was lowered down to the buildings here placed, where it
underwent the first process of separation.  The paths above were fit
for none, save a chamois, or a barefooted Indian, or a sailor--for the
midshipman was climbing aloft in such places, that Tom's chief work was
to summon him back, in horror lest he should involve himself in endless
galleries, excavated before the days of Atahualpa.

Much of the desperate scrambling which Madison recommended as
plain-sailing, was beyond Mr. Ponsonby; but where he went, Mary went;
and when he stopped, she, though she had not drawn since the master at
her school had resigned her, as a hopeless case, applied herself to the
perpetration of an outline of the rocks, that, as she said, 'her aunts
might see what sort of place it was.'  Her steady head, and firm,
enterprizing hand and foot, enabled her to see the crowning wonder of
the mountain, one of the ventanillas or windows.  Mr. Ward, having
visited it, came back bent on taking her thither; there was no danger,
if she were not afraid.  So, between him and Tom Madison, she was
dragged up a steep path, and conducted into a gallery cut out in the
living rock, growing gloomier and gloomier, till suddenly there was a
spot of light on the sparkling floor, and Mary found herself beneath an
opening through the mountain crown, right up into the sky, which,
through the wild opening, looked of the deepest, most ultra-marine,
almost purple blue, utterly beyond conception in the glory of intense
colour, bringing only to her mind those most expressive, yet most
inexpressive words, 'the body of heaven in His clearness.'  She felt,
what she had often heard said, that to all mountain tops is given
somewhat of the glory that dwelt on Sinai.  That ineffable blue was
more dazzling than even the fields beyond fields of marvellous white
that met her eye on emerging from the dark gallery.

'I never wish so much that Lord Fitzjocelyn should see anything as
that,' said Tom Madison, when Mary, in her gratitude, was trying to say
something adequate to the trouble she had given, though the beauty was
beyond any word of admiration.

'He would--' she began to answer, but the rest died away, only answered
by Tom with an emphatic 'He _would_!' and then began the difficulties
of getting down.

But Mary had the pleasure at the next pause of hearing Mr. Ward say,
'That is a very fine intelligent young fellow, worthy of his library. I
think your father has a prize in him!'

Mary's eyes thanked Mr. Ward, with all her heart in them.  It was worth
going up the Andes for such a sentence to put into a letter that Aunt
Kitty would show to Louis.

Robson seemed anxious to monopolize the attention of the gentlemen, to
the exclusion of Madison; and while Tom was thus thrust aside, Mary
succeeded in having a conversation with him, such as she felt was a
sort of duty to Louis.  She asked him the names of the various
mountain-peaks in sight, whose bare crags, too steep to support the
snow, here and there stood out dark in salient contrast to the white
scenery, and as he gave them to her, mentioning the few facts that he
had been able to gather respecting them, she was able to ask him
whether he was in the habit of seeing anything approaching to society.
He smiled, saying that his nearest neighbours were many miles off--an
engineer conducting some far more extensive mining operations, whom he
sometimes met on business, and an old Spanish gentleman, who lived in a
valley far down the mountain side, with whom he sometimes smoked his
cigar on a Sunday, if he felt inclined for a perpendicular promenade on
a Peruvian causeway for nearly four miles.  Mary asked whether he often
did feel inclined.  No, he thought not often; he had generally worked
hard enough in the week to make his book the best company; but he liked
now and then to see something green for a change after these bare
mountains and rocks, and the old Don Manrique was very civil and
agreeable.  Then, after a few minutes' conversation of this kind,
something of the old conscious abruptness of tone seemed to come over
the young man, and looking down, he said bluntly, 'Miss Ponsonby, do
you think there would be any objection to my coming into Lima just for
Christmas?'

'I suppose not; I cannot tell.'

Tom explained that all the miners would be making holiday, and the
senior Cornishman might safely be left in charge of the works, while he
only wished to spend Christmas-day itself in the city, and would be a
very short time absent.  He blushed a little as he spoke, and Mary
ventured to reply to what she gathered of his thought, 'No other day
would suit you as well?'

'No, ma'am, it hardly would,' he answered, gravely.

'I will try what can be done,' said Mary, 'unless you would speak to
Mr. Ponsonby yourself.'

He looked inquiringly at Mr. Ponsonby's figure some paces distant, and
shook his head.

'I will try,' repeated Mary; and then she added, 'These grand hill-tops
and blue sky almost make a church--'

'Yes, ma'am,' said Tom, his black eyes lighting at the thought; 'I've
felt so sometimes, but 'tis a mighty lonely one after a time.  I've
taken my book, and got out of earshot of the noise the blacks make; and
I do assure you, Miss Ponsonby, the stillness was enough to drive one
wild, with nothing but savage rocks to look at either!  Not a green
plant, nor a voice to answer, unless one got to the mountain echoes,
and they are worse--'

'But surely you have the Cornishmen!  What do they do on a Sunday?'

'They lie about, and smoke and sleep, or go down to the valley,' said
Tom.  'I never thought of them.'

'I think you should,' said Mary, gravely.  'If you are in any authority
over them, it must give you a charge over their souls. I think you
should, at least, give them the choice of reading the service with you.'

'I'll think about it,' said Madison, gruffly.

'I will send up some books for them to make an opening,' said Mary. 'I
should not like to think of men living in such scenes, without being
the better for them.'

Robson was here obliged to call Madison to refer some question to him;
but Mary had another talk with him, when he begged to know if there
were likely soon to be an opportunity of sending to England. He had
some fossils which he wished to send to Lord Fitzjocelyn; and he
fetched them, and explained his theories with regard to them as if he
had almost forgotten that she was not his young Lord.  She carried his
request to her father, and was answered that of course he might take a
holiday if he could leave the works with safety; he had better spend a
few days in the town when he did come.  With this answer she made him
happy; and they set off, to the extreme joy of Rosita, who had
engrossed much less attention than she had expected, and declared she
would never have come into these horrible places if she could have
imagined what they were like.  Certainly, no one wished to have her
company there again.

When Mr. Ponsonby mentioned the permission which he had accorded to
Madison, Robson coughed and looked annoyed.  Mary could not help
suspecting that this was because the request had not been preferred
through himself.  'So the young fellow wants to be coming down, does
he?  I thought his ardour was too hot to last long.'

'Very natural that the poor lad should want a holiday,' said Mr.
Ponsonby.  'It must take a tolerable flow of spirits to stand long,
being so many feet above the level of the sea, in caves fit for a
robber's den at the theatre.'

'Oh, I am making no objection, sir,' returned Robson; 'the young man
may take his pleasure for what I care, so he can be trusted not to
neglect his business.'

Here the path narrowed, and Mary had to fall back out of hearing; but
she had an unpleasant suspicion that Robson was telling her father
something to Tom's disadvantage, and she had to consider how to avoid
rousing a jealousy, which she knew might be dangerous.

Mr. Ward, however, came up to interrupt her thoughts and watch the
steps of her mule.  The worst difficulties of the descent had precluded
all conversation; and the party were just beginning to breathe freely,
think of terra firma as not far off, and gaze with easier minds on the
marvellous ocean.  Mary went on in very comfortable discussion of the
wonders they had seen, and of Madison's remark that the performances of
the Incas made one quite ashamed of the achievements of modern
science--a saying in which Mr. Ward perfectly agreed; and then he began
to say something rather long, and a little disconnected, and Mary's
mind took an excursion to Aunt Kitty, and the reading of the letter
that she was going to write, when suddenly something in Mr. Ward's
voice startled her, and recalling her attention, she discovered, to her
dismay, that he was actually making her an offer!  An offer!  She would
as soon have expected one from her father!  And oh! how well
expressed--how entirely what it ought to be!  How unlike every one of
those three of her past experience!

In great distress she exclaimed, 'Oh, Mr. Ward, pray do not--indeed, I
cannot!'

'I feared that I was but too likely to meet with such an answer,' said
Mr. Ward; 'and yet your father encouraged me to hope, that in course of
time--'

'Then papa has told you what he thinks?' said Mary.

'I applied to him before I could venture to join this party.  Mary, I
am aware that I can bring none of the advantages which have'--his voice
faltered--'which have forestalled me; but the most true and earnest
affection is already yours.'

'I am very sorry for it, Mr. Ward,' said Mary, gravely, though much
touched.  'It is very kind of you, but it is only fair and candid to
tell you that papa has probably led you into a mistake.  He thinks that
the--the object was weak and unworthy, and that my feelings could be
easily overcome.  He does not know--'

'He assured me that all was at an end--'

'It is,' said Mary; 'but I am certain that I shall never feel for any
one else the same as'--and the tears were coming last.  'You are very
kind, Mr. Ward, but it is of no use to think that this can ever be.'

'Forgive me for having harassed you,' said Mr. Ward, and they went on
so long in silence that Mary hoped it was over, and yet he did not go
away from her.  She was sorry to see the grieved, dejected expression
on his good, sensible, though somewhat worn countenance; and she
esteemed him highly; but who could have thought of so unlucky a fancy
coming into his head?  When, at length, he spoke again, it was to say
that he begged that she would forget what was past, and allow him to
continue on his former footing.  Mary was glad to have something
grateful to say, and answered that she should have been very sorry to
lose him as a friend; whereupon his face cheered up, he thanked her,
and fell back from her rein.  In spite of her past trials of the
futility of the attempt to live with a rejected suitor as if nothing
had happened, she had hopes of the possibility when her own heart was
untouched, and the gentleman nearly doubled her years; but when she
talked to her father, she gathered that it was considered by both
gentlemen that the proposal had been premature, and that her final
detachment from Louis was reckoned on as so certain that Mr. Ward was
willing to wait, as if it were only a matter of time.  He was so
wealthy and prosperous, and a connexion with him would have been so
useful to the firm, that Mary was grateful to her father for forbearing
to press her on what he evidently wished so earnestly. Mr. Ward had
exactly the excellent, well-balanced character, which seemed made to
suit her, and she could have imagined being very happy with him,
if--No, no--Mr. Ward could not be thought of at the same moment.

Yet, whatever she might say, no one would believe her; so she held her
peace, and wrote her history of the silver mines; and Mr. Ward haunted
the house, and was most kindly forbearing and patient, and Mary found
at every turn, how good a man he was, and how cruel and mistaken his
sister thought her.

And Christmas came, when the churches were perfect orange-groves, and
the scene of the wanderers of Bethlehem was acted from house to house
in the twilight.  The scanty English congregation met in the room that
served as a chapel in the Consul's house--poor Mary alone of all her
household there to keep the feast; and Mr. Ward was there, and Madison
had come down from his mountain.  There were hearts at home that would
rejoice to hear that.

Mary saw him afterwards, and he thanked her for her suggestion
respecting the miners.  Two had been only as shy as Tom himself; they
had been reading alone, and were glad to join company, a third was
beginning to come, and it had led to a more friendly intercourse. Mary
sent him away, very happy with some books for them, some new Spanish
reading for himself, an astronomical book, and her little celestial
globe--for the whole firmament of stars had been by no means lost on
him.  That interview was her Christmas treat.  Well for her that she
did not hear Robson say, 'That young man knows how to come over the
ladies.  I shall keep a sharper look-out after him. I know no harm of
him, but if there's one man I trust less than another, it is one that
tries the serious dodge.'



CHAPTER X.

THE WRONG WOMAN IN THE WRONG PLACE.

  Give me again my hollow tree,
  My crust of bread, and liberty.
     The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse--POPE.


The new cook's first compliment to Charlotte was, 'Upon my word, you
are a genteel young woman, I dare say you have a lot of sweethearts.'

The indignant denial of the Lady of Eschalott was construed into her
being 'sly,' and Mrs. Cook promised herself to find her out.

Those were not happy days with the little maiden.  The nurse looked
down on her, and the cook filled the kitchen with idlers, whose looks
and speeches were abhorrent to her.  Sometimes the woman took offence
at her for being high; at others, she forced on her advice upon her
dress, or tried to draw out confidences either on lovers or the affairs
of the family.  Charlotte was sadly forlorn, and shut herself up in her
pantry, or in her own little attic with Jane's verbenas which cook had
banished from the kitchen, and lost her sorrows in books hired at the
library.  She read, and dreamt, created leisure for reading, lived in a
trance, and awoke from it to see her work neglected, reproach herself,
and strain her powers to make up for what was left undone.  Then,
finding her efforts failing, she would be distressed and melancholy,
until a fresh novel engrossed her for a time, and the whole scene was
enacted over again.

Still, it was not all idleness nor lost ground.  The sense of
responsibility was doing her good, she withstood the cook's follies,
and magnanimously returned unopened a shining envelope of Mr.
Delaford's.  At Christmas, when Mr. and Mrs. Frost went to pay a visit
at Beauchastel, and the cook enjoyed a course of gaieties, the only use
she made of her liberty was to drink tea once with Mrs. Martha, and to
walk over to Marksedge to see old Madison, who was fast breaking, and
who dictated to her his last messages to his grandson.

James and Isabel spent a pleasant lively Christmas with their
hospitable old friends, and James returned full of fresh vigour and new
projects.  His first was to offer his assistance to the Vicar, so as to
have a third service on the Sunday; but there were differences of
opinion between them, and his proposal was received so ungraciously,
that a coolness arose, which cut him off from many openings for
usefulness.

However, he had enough to occupy him in his own department, the school.
He was astonished at his boys' deficiency in religious instruction, and
started a plan for collecting them for some teaching for an hour before
morning service.  Mr. Calcott agreed with him that nothing could be
more desirable, but doubted whether the parents would compel their sons
to attend, and advised James to count the cost, doubting whether, in
the long run, he would be able to dispense with one day of entire rest.
This was the more to be considered, since James expended a wonderful
amount of energy in his teaching, did his utmost to force the boys on,
in class and in private, drilled his usher, joined in the games, and
gave evening lectures on subjects of general information.

Some responded to his training, and these he strenuously encouraged,
asking them to dinner and taking them to walk; and these were
enthusiastically fond of him, and regarded his beautiful wife as a
being of a superior order.  Fitzjocelyn and James used to agree that
intercourse with her was a very important element in their training,
and the invitations were made as impartial as possible, including the
intelligent and well-conducted, irrespective of station.  Isabel's
favourite guest was a good, well-mannered lad, son to Mr. Ramsbotham's
follower, the butcher, but, unluckily, Mrs. Richardson and her friends
did not esteem it a compliment when their sons were asked to meet him,
and, on the other hand, James did not always distinguish real merit
from mere responsiveness to his own mind. Dull boys, or such as had a
half sullen, half conservative dislike to change, did not gain notice
of an agreeable kind, and while intending to show strict justice, he
did not know how far he was affected by his prepossessions.

His lectures had emancipated him from evening parties; and, after Mrs.
Frost's departure, visiting gave Isabel little trouble.  The calm,
lofty manners that had been admired in Miss Conway, were thought pride
in Mrs. James Frost, and none of the ladies of Northwold even wished to
do more than exchange morning calls with her, and talk among themselves
of her fine-ladyism.  She recked nothing of their keeping aloof; her
book and her pen were far pleasanter companions on her alternate
evenings of solitude, and in them she tried to lose her wishes for the
merry days spent with granny and Clara, and her occasional perceptions
that all was not as in their time.  James would sometimes bring this
fact more palpably before her.

The separation of the families had not diminished the income of the
household, but the difference in comfort was great.  Isabel knew
nothing of management, and did not care to learn.  She had been willing
to live on a small scale, but she did not understand personal
superintendence, she was careless of display, and perfectly happy as
long as she was the guest of the grandmother, but she had no
comprehension of petty tidinesses or small economies.  Now James,
brought up on a very different scale, knew in detail how the household
ought to live, and made it a duty not to exceed a fixed sum.  He had
the eye for neatness that she wanted; he could not believe it a
hardship to go without indulgences to which his grandmother and sister
had not been accustomed.  Thus, he protested against unnecessary fires;
Isabel shivered and wore shawls; he was hurt at seeming to misuse her,
resigned his study fire, and still found the coals ever requiring to be
renewed, insisted that his wife should speak to the cook, and mystified
her by talking about the regulation of the draught of the kitchen fire;
and when Isabel understood, she forgot the lecture.

He was a devoted and admiring husband, but he could not coolly discover
innumerable petty neglects and wasteful habits.  Impatient words broke
out, and Isabel always received them so meekly that he repented and
apologized; and in the reconciliation the subject was forgotten, but
only to be revived another time.  Isabel was always ready to give warm
aid and sympathy in all his higher cares and purposes, and her mild
tranquillity was repose and soothing to him, but she was like one in a
dream.  She had married a vision of perfection, and entered on a
romance of happy poverty, and she had no desire to awaken; so she never
exerted her mind upon the world around her, when it seemed oppressive;
and kept the visionary James Frost before her, in company with Adeline
and the transformed Sir Hubert. It was much easier to line his tent
with a tapestry of Maltese crosses, than to consider whether the hall
should be covered with cocoanut matting.

How Christmas passed with Clara, may be seen in the following letter:--


'Cheveleigh, Jan. 1851.

'Dearest Jem,--I can write a long letter to-night, for a fortunate cold
has spared me from one of Sir Andrew's dinner-parties.  It is a
reminiscence of the last ball, partly brought on by compunction at
having dragged poor granny thither, in consideration of my unguarded
declaration of intense dislike to be chaperoned by Lady Britton. Granny
looks glorious in black velvet and diamonds, and I do trust that her
universal goodwill rendered the ball more tolerable to her than it was
to me.  She, at least, is all she seems; whereas I am so infested with
civilities, that I long to proclaim myself little Clara Frost, bred up
for a governess, and the laughing-stock of her school. Oh! for that
first ball where no one danced with me but Mr. Richardson, and I was
not a mere peg for the display of Uncle Oliver's Peruvian jewels!  I
have all the trouble in the world to be allowed to go about fit to be
seen, and only by means of great fighting and coaxing did I prevail to
have my dress only from London instead of Paris.

'And no wonder I shivered all the way to the ball.  Fancy Jane
insisting on my going to display my dress to that poor dying Marianne;
I was shocked at the notion of carrying my frivolities into such a
scene, but Jane said her mind ran on it, and it was 'anything to take
off her thoughts from that man.'  So I went into her room, and oh! if
you could have seen the poor thing, with her short breath and racking
cough, her cheeks burning and her eyes glistening at that flimsy
trumpery.  One bunch of the silver flowers on my skirt was wrong; she
spied it, and they would not thwart her, so she would have the needle,
and the skeleton trembling fingers set them right.  They said she would
sleep the easier for it, and she thanked me as if it had really set her
more at rest; but how sad, how strange it seems, when she knows that
she is sinking fast, and has had Mr. Danvers with her every day.   He
thinks all is well with her; but it was a melancholy, blank, untaught
mind, to begin to work on.  Louis would call her life a mournful
picture of our civilization.  She has told it all to Jane: she was of
the mechanic class, just above the rank that goes to Sunday-schools;
she went to a genteel weekly school, and was taken out pleasuring on
Sunday--no ground-work at all.  An orphan at fifteen, she never again
knew tenderness.  Then came dressmaking till her health failed, and she
tried service.  She says, Isabel's soft tones made a paradise for her;
but late hours, which she did not feel at the time, wore her out, and
Delaford trifled with her. Always when alone he pretended devotion to
her, then flirted with any other who came in his way, and worry and
fretting put the finish to her failing health.  She had no spirit to
break entirely with him, and even now is pining for one kind word,
which he seems to be too hard and selfish to send to her, in answer to
a letter of forgiveness that she wrote a fortnight back.  What a wretch
he must be!  Jane says, he tried flirting with poor little Charlotte,
and that she was a little 'took up' with his guitar and his verses; but
then, Jane says, 'Charlotte has somewhat at the bottom, and knows
better than to heed a man as wasn't real religious.'  I suppose that is
the true difference between Charlotte and Marianne, and even if we
looked into Delaford's history, most likely we should find him another
nineteenth-century victim to an artificial life.  At least, I trust
that Jane has been the greatest blessing, Marianne herself speaks of
her as more than a mother to her; and I believe I told you of the poor
girl's overpowering gratitude, when she found we would not turn her out
to die homeless.  We read, and we talk, and Mr. Danvers comes; but I
believe dear old Jane does more for her than all.

'Poor Jane! when her task of nursing is over, I do not know what she
will turn to.  The grand servants only keep terms with her because
Uncle Oliver gave notice that no one should stay in the house who did
not show respect to his _friend_ Mrs. Beckett.  It takes all her love
for Missus and Master Oliver to make her bear it; and her chief solace
is in putting me to bed, and in airing Master Oliver's shirt and
slippers.  You would laugh to hear her compassionating the home
minced-pies! and she tells me she would give fifty pounds rather than
bring Charlotte here.  My uncle wished grandmamma to manage the house,
and she did so at first, but she and the servants did not get on well
together; and she said, what I never knew her say before, that she is
too old, and so we have an awful dame who rules with a high hand.

'You ask whether the dear granny is happy.  You know she is all
elasticity, and things are pleasanter here to her than to me, but I do
not think she enjoys life as she did at home.  It is hard to have her
whole mission reduced to airing those four horses.  We have tormented
my uncle out of making us use more than two at a time, by begging for
six and the Lord Mayor's coach; but aired alternately they must be, and
we must do it, and by no road but what the coachman chooses; and this
does not seem to me to agree with her like trotting about the town on
her errands.  There is no walking here, excepting in the
pleasure-ground, where all my grandfather's landscape-gardening has
been cut up so as to be a mere vexation to her.  The people round are
said to be savage and disaffected, and the quarter of a mile between
the park and the village is subject to miners going home.  They did
once holloa at me, and orders were issued that I should walk no more.
I believe that if they saw me fearless, and coming among them for
friendly purposes, they would leave off hooting; but the notion
frightens granny, so I am a prisoner.  They are the people to think it
a mockery to be visited by a lady bedizened as I am, and stuck up in a
carriage; so we can do very little except through Mr. Danvers, and my
uncle is always discontented at the sight of him, and fancies he is
always begging. A little sauciness on my part has the best effect when
anything is wanted, for my uncle is very kind to me in his own fashion,
which is not mine.

'We have made something of a nest in the last of the suite of rooms,
the only one habitably small; but it is wonderful where all the time in
the day goes.  My uncle likes me to ride with him in the morning, and I
have to help granny air the horses in the afternoon; and in the
evening, when we are lucky enough to dine alone, I play them both
asleep, unless they go to backgammon.  Think of granny reduced to that!
We should be very happy when he is detained in his study, but that
granny thinks it is bad for him.  Dear granny!

I see the object of her life is to win him back to serious thoughts.
She seems to think of him like a schoolboy who must be lured to find
home pleasanter than idle ways; and she begs me quite sadly to bear
with him, and make him happy, to prevent him from longing after his
counting-house at Lima.  She tried to make him promise never to go
back, but he has only promised never to go while she lives, and she
seems to think it would be fatal, and to charge all his disregard of
religious matters upon herself for having sent him out.  If you could
see her pleased smile when we extort a subscription, or when she gets
him to church; but when those South American mails come in on
Sundays--alas!  Those accounts are his real element, and his moments of
bliss are over the 'Money-market and City intelligence,' or in
discussing railway shares with Sir Andrew.  All the rest is an
obstinate and dismal allegiance to the days of Shrievalty, about as
easy to recall as the days when the Pendragons wore golden collars and
armlets.  Imitated hospitality turns into ostentation; and the people
who seek after silver covers and French cookery are no more to my taste
than they are, in good earnest, to Uncle Oliver's.  The nice people, if
there are any, won't come in our way, except Mr. Henderson; and when we
do pluck up courage to disgust Mr. Coachman by calling on Mrs.
Henderson, we are very happy.  But she is a wise woman, and will not
bring her pretty Fanny into our world; and when I press her, behold! I
remember what I used to think of patronage.

'But Louis has promised to come at Easter, and he will teach me a
little more charity, I hope; and, what is better (no, I don't mean
that), will tell me about the dear, dear, trebly dear Terrace and all
the doings.  I hope you will begin your Sunday scheme; but granny fears
the bad set will not care, and the good will prefer having their
families together.  It is worse than I expected even of Mr. Purvis to
refuse the afternoon service, when you offered to take all the trouble
off his hands; granny hopes you will take care what you are about with
him.  Tell Louis we have a famous letter from Mary to show him if he
will bring us all news of every one, and especially of his godchild.
Contrary to custom, you tell us more about her than her mamma does.

                    'Your most affectionate Sister,
                                       'CLARA.'


Before Easter, Charlotte's poor rival was lying at rest in Cheveleigh
churchyard, and Jane's task of love was at an end.



CHAPTER XI.

AUNT CATHARINE'S HOME.

  The lady sleeps--O may her sleep,
  As it is lasting, so be deep!
  Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
  This bed being changed for one more holy,
  This room for one more melancholy,
  Some tomb, that oft hath flung its black
  And wing-like panels fluttering back,
  Triumphant o'er the fluttering palls
  Of her grand family funerals.
                        E. A. POE.


The summer was nearly over, when, one morning at breakfast, Louis
surprised his father by a sound, half consternation, half amusement,
and handed him a note, containing these words:--


'DEAR F.,--There were three of us last night; there are five this
morning.  Isabel and the twins are doing well.  Heaven knows what is to
become of us!

        'Yours,
          J. F.'


'What would you have?' said Lord Ormersfield, calmly.  'The poorer
people are, the more children they have!'

He went on with his own letters, while Louis laughed at the enunciation
of this inverse ratio; and then took up the note again, to wonder at
the tone of anxiety and distress, so unlike James.  He went to call on
Lady Conway, and was better satisfied to find that James had written in
a lively strain to her, as if proud of his little daughters, and
resolved not to be pitied.  Of this he was in no danger from his
sisters-in-law, who looked upon twin-girls as the only blessing needed
to complete Isabel's felicity, had devised three dozen names for them,
and longed to be invited to Northwold to see them.

Nothing was heard of James for more than a week, and, as London grew
hotter, dustier, and drearier than ever, Fitzjocelyn longed, more than
he thought wholesome to confess, after Ormersfield turf, the deep
ravines, and rushing brooks.  The sun shone almost through the blind of
the open window on the large library table, where sat Louis at his own
end, writing to his Inglewood bailiff, and now and then solacing
himself by lifting with the feather of his pen one of the bells of a
delicate lily in a glass before him--a new spectacle on the Earl's
writing-table; and so was a strip of vellum, with illuminations rich
and rare--Louis's indulgence when he felt he had earned an hour's
leisure.  There was a ring at the door, a step on the stairs, and
before the father and son stood James, his little black bag in his
hand, like himself, all dust, and his face worn, heated, and tired.

'Then you have not heard from Cheveleigh?' he said, in answer to their
astonished greetings, producing a note, which was eagerly read:--


'Dearest Jem,--My uncle says I may write to you, in case you can leave
Isabel, that he will be glad to see you.  I told you that dear
grandmamma had a cold, and so we would not let her come to Isabel; but
I little guessed what was coming.  It only seemed a feverish cold, and
Jane and I almost laughed at my uncle for choosing to send for a
doctor.  He was not alarmed at first, but yesterday she was inert and
sleepy, and he asked for more advice.  Dr. Hastings came to-day, and
oh! Jem, he calls it a breaking up of the constitution, and does not
think she will rally.  She knows us, but she is almost always drowsy,
and very hard to rouse.  If you can come without hurting Isabel, I know
you will.  We want you all the more, because my uncle will not let me
send for Mr. Danvers.  Poor Uncle Oliver is dreadfully troubled.

                           'Your most affectionate CLARA.'


'Transplantation has killed her--I knew it would!' said James, as Louis
stood, with the note in his hand, as if not yet understanding the blow.

'Nay,' said the Earl, 'it is an age at which we could hardly hope she
would long be spared.  You could leave Mrs. James Frost with comfort?'

'Yes, Miss Mercy undertakes her--she is doing well--she would not hear
of my staying.  I must go on, the train starts at two,' he added,
hastily, looking at the time-piece.

'We will send you,' said Lord Ormersfield.  'Take time to rest.  You
look very ill!  You should have some luncheon.'

'No, thank you!' said James, at first with the instinct of resistance;
but yielding and confessing, 'Charlotte went into hysterics, and I had
nothing to eat before I came away.'

Louis came forward from the window where he had been standing as in a
dream, he laid his hand on James's shoulder, and said, 'I will go!' His
voice was hardly audible, but, clearing it, and striving to recall his
thoughts, he added, 'Father, I can be spared.  The division is not
coming on to-night, or you could get me a pair.'

The Earl looked doubtfully at James.

'Yes, let me go,' said Louis.  'I must see her again.  It has been
mother and son between us.'  And, hiding his face in his hands, he
hurried out of the room.

'Let him come,' said James.  'If duty and affection claim a right, none
have such as he.'

'I hesitate only as to acting unceremoniously by your uncle.'

'This is no moment for ceremony--no time to deprive her of whatever she
loves best.'

'Be it so, then.  His own feelings are his best passport, and well has
she deserved all that he can ever feel!  And, James, if she should
express any desire to see me, if I can be of any use in settling
matters, or could promote any better understanding with your uncle, I
am ready at a moment's notice.  I would come at once, but that many
might be burdensome to your uncle and sister.'

The two cousins were quickly on their way.  James took a second-class
ticket, the first time he had ever done so in travelling with his
cousin.  Fitzjocelyn placed himself beside him without remark.

James dozed as well as the narrow seat would permit, and only woke to
chafe at each halt, and Louis mused over the associations of those
scenes, and last year's triumphant return.  Had the change of habits
truly hastened the decay of her powers? had her son's toil and success
been merely to bring her home to the grave of her fathers, at the
expense of so many heartburnings, separations, and dissensions? At
least, he trusted that her last hours might be crowned by the
peacemaker's joy, and that she might see strife and bitterness laid
aside between Oliver, and Henry's only surviving son.

Alas! it was not to be.  The shutters and blinds were closed, and Clara
met them at the door, her pale face and streaming eyes forestalling the
tidings.  The frame, hitherto so vigorous and active, had been spared
long or weary decay; and tranquil torpor had mildly conducted the
happy, gentle spirit to full repose.  She had slumbered away without
revival or suffering, as one who did 'rest from her labours,' and her
eyes had been closed on the previous night.

Clara wept as she spoke, but she had been alone with her sorrow long
enough to face it, and endure calmly.

Not so her brother.  It was anguish to have come too late, and to have
missed the last word and look; and he strode madly up and down the
room, almost raving at the separation and removal which he declared had
killed her.

'Oh, speak to him, Louis!' cried Clara.  'Oh, what shall I do?'

As she spoke, the door was opened, and Mr. Dynevor came in, with a
grief-stricken look and quieter manner, but his entrance instantly
silenced all James's demonstrations, and changed them into a haughty,
compressed bitterness, as though he actually looked on him in the light
of his grandmother's destroyer.

'Ah! James,' began his uncle, gently, 'I wish you had been here
earlier!'

'I left home by the first train after hearing.  I ought to have heard
sooner.'

'I could not suppose you would choose to come here without serious
reason,' said Oliver, with more dignity than usual.  'However, I would
willingly forget, and you will remain here for the present.'

'I must apologize for having thrust myself on you, sir,' said Louis,
'but, indeed, I could not stay away.  After what she has been to me,
ever since I can remember her--' and tears cut him short.

'Sir, it does you honour!' returned Oliver.  'She was attached to you.
I hope you will not leave us as yet.'

Louis felt as if he could not leave the house where what was mortal of
his dear old aunt yet remained, and he likewise had a perception that
he might be a support and assistance to Clara in keeping the peace
between her brother and uncle; so he gratefully accepted the invitation.

Mr. Dynevor presently explained that he intended the funeral to take
place at the end of the week.

'I can not be so long from home,' said James, in a quick, low voice.

Clara ran up to her uncle, laid her hand on his arm, and drew him into
a window, whence he presently turned, saying, 'Your sister tells me
that you cannot be so long absent in the present state of your family.
If possible, the day shall be hastened.'

James was obliged to say, 'Thank you!' but any concession seemed to
affect him like an injury.

Grievous work was it to remain at Cheveleigh, under the constant dread
of some unbecoming outbreak between uncle and nephew. Fortunately,
Oliver had too much on his hands to have much time to spend with the
others; but when they were together, there was scarcely a safe subject,
not even the intended names of the twins. James made hasty answer that
they had already received their names, Mercy and Salome.  Louis and
Clara both cried out incredulously.

'Yes,' said James.  'We don't like family names.'

'But such as those!'

'I wish nothing better for them than to be such another pair of
faithful sisters.  May they only do as well, poor children!'

The end was softer than the beginning, and there was a tight short
sigh, that seemed to burst upward from a whole world of suppressed
anxiety and despondence.

It was not easy to understand him, he would not talk of home, was brief
about his little Catharine; and when Clara said something of Isabel's
writings, formerly his great pride, and feared that she would have no
more time for them, his blunt answer was, 'She ought not.'

These comparatively indifferent topics were the only resource; for he
treated allusions to his grandmother as if they were rending open a
wound, and it was only in his absence that Louis and Clara could hold
the conversations respecting her, which were their chief comfort and
relief.  If they were certain that Oliver was busy, and James writing
letters, they would walk up and down the sheltered alley, where Louis
had last year comforted Clara.  The green twilight and chequered shade
well accorded with the state of their minds, darkened, indeed, by one
of the severest losses that could ever befall either of them, and yet
it was a sorrow full of thankfulness and blessed hope.

Louis spoke of his regret that scenes of uncongenial gaiety should have
been forced upon her last year.

'I believe it made very little difference to her,' said Clara.  'She
did just what Uncle Oliver wished, but only as she used to play with
us, no more; nay, rather less for her own amusement than as she would
play at battledore, or at thread-paper verses.'

'And she was not teased nor harassed?'

'I think not.  She was grieved if I were set against Uncle Oliver's
plans, and really hurt if she could not make him think as she did about
right and wrong, but otherwise she was always bright.  She never found
people tiresome; she could find something kind to say to and for the
silliest; and when my uncle's display was most provoking, she would
only laugh at 'poor Oliver's' odd notions of doing her honour.  I used
to be quite ashamed of the fuss I would make when I thought a thing
vulgar; when I saw that sort of vanity by the side of her real
indifference, springing from unworldliness.'

'And then her mornings were quiet?'

'More quiet than at home.  While we were riding, she used to sit with
her dear old big Bible, and the two or three old books she was so fond
of.  You remember her Sutton and her Bishop Home, and often she would
show me some passage that had struck her as prettier than ever, well as
she had always known it.  Once she said she was very thankful for the
leisure time, free from household cares, and even from friendly gossip;
for she said first she had been gay, then she had been busy, and had
never had time to meditate quietly.'

'So she made a cloister of this grand house.  Ah! I trusted she was
past being hurt by external things.  That grand old age was like a pure
glad air where worldly fumes could not mount up.  My only fear would
have been this unlucky estrangement making her unhappy.'

'I think I may tell you how she felt it,' said Clara; 'I am trying to
tell James, but I don't know whether I can.  She said she had come to
perceive that she had confounded pride with independence.  She blamed
herself, so that I could not bear to hear it, for the grand fine things
in her life.  She said pride had made her stand alone, and unkindly
spurn much that was kindly meant.  I don't mean that she repented of
the actions, but of the motives; she said the glory of being beholden
to no one had run through everything; and had been very hurtful even to
Uncle Oliver.  She never let him know all her straits, and was too
proud, she said, to ask, when she was hurt at his not offering help,
and so she made him seem more hard-hearted, and let us become set
against him.  She said she had fostered the same temper in poor Jem,
who had it strongly enough by inheritance, and that she had never known
the evil, nor understood it as pride, till she saw the effects.'

'Did they make her unhappy?'

'She cried when she spoke of it, and I have seen her in tears at
church, and found her eyes red when she had been alone, but I don't
think it was a hard, cruel sorrow; I think the sunshine of her nature
managed to beam through it.'

'The sunshine was surely love,' said Louis, 'making the rainbow of hope
on the tears of repentance.  Perhaps it is a blessing vouchsafed to the
true of heart to become aware of such a hidden constitutional infirmity
in time to wash it out with blessed tears like those.'

'Hidden,' said Clara, 'yes, indeed it was, even from herself, because
it never showed in manner, like my pride; she was gracious and affable
to all the world.  I heard the weeding-women saying, 'she had not one
bit of pride,' and when I told her of it, she shook her head, and
laughed sadly, and said that was the kind of thing which had taken her
in.'

'Common parlance is a deceitful thing,' said Louis, sighing; 'people
can't even be sincere without doing harm!  Well, I had looked to see
her made happy by harmony between those two!'

'She gave up the hope of seeing it,' said Clara, 'but she looked to it
all the same.  She said meekly one day that it might be her penalty to
see them at variance in her own lifetime, but over her grave perhaps
they would be reconciled, and her prayers be answered. How she did love
Uncle Oliver!  Do you know, Louis, what she was to him showed me what
the mother's love must be, which we never missed, because--because we
had her!'

'Don't talk of it, Clara,' said Louis, hastily; 'we cannot dwell on
ourselves, and bear it patiently!'

It was truly the loss of a most tender mother to them both; bringing
for the first time the sense of orphanhood on the girl, left between
the uncongenial though doting uncle, and the irritable though
affectionate brother; and Louis, though his home was not broken up,
suffered scarcely less.  His aunt's playful sweetness had peculiarly
accorded with his disposition, and the affection and confidence of his
fond, clinging nature had fastened themselves upon her, all the more in
the absence of his own Mary.  Each loss seemed to make the other more
painful.  Aunt Kitty's correspondence was another link cut away between
him and Peru, and he had never known such a sense of dreariness in his
whole life.  Clara was going patiently and quietly through those trying
days, with womanly considerateness; believing herself supported by her
brother, and being so in fact by the mere sisterly gratification of his
presence, though she was far more really sustained and assisted by
Fitzjocelyn.  How much happier was the sorrow of Louis and Clara than
that of James or Oliver!  Tempers such as those in which the uncle and
nephew but too closely resembled each other were soured, not softened
by grief, and every arrangement raised discussions which did not tend
to bring them nearer together.

Oliver designed a stately funeral.  Nothing was too much for him to
lavish on his mother, and he was profuse in orders for hangings,
velvet, blazonry, mutes, and hired mourners, greedy of offers of the
dreary state of empty carriages, demanding that of Lord Ormersfield,
and wanting James to write to Lady Conway for the same purpose.

Nothing could be more adverse to the feelings of the grandchildren; but
Clara had been schooled into letting her uncle have his way, and knew
that dear granny would have said Oliver might do as he pleased with her
in death as in life, owning the affection so unpleasantly manifested;
James, on the other hand, could see no affection, nothing but
disgusting parade, as abhorrent to his grandmother's taste as to his
own.  He thought he had a right to be consulted, for he by no means
believed himself to have abdicated his headship of the family; and he
made his voice heard entirely without effect, except the indignation of
his uncle, and the absence of the Conway carriage; although Lord
Ormersfield wrote that he should bring Sir Walter in his own person,
thus leaving James divided between satisfaction in any real token of
respect to his grandmother, and dislike to gratifying Oliver's
ostentation by the production of his baronet kin.

Sydney Calcott wrote to him in the name of various former scholars of
Mrs. Frost, anxious to do her the last honours by attending the
funeral.  Homage to her days of gallant exertion in poverty was most
welcome and touching to the young people; but their uncle, without
taste to understand it, wishing to forget her labours, and fancying
them discreditable to a daughter of the Dynevors, received the proposal
like an indignity; and but for Fitzjocelyn's mediation and
expostulations, it would have been most unsuitably rejected.  He was
obliged to take the answer into his own hands, since Oliver insisted
that his mother was to be regarded in no light save that of Mrs.
Dynevor, of Cheveleigh; and James was equally resolved that she should
be only Mrs. Frost, of Dynevor Terrace.

It was heart-sickening to see these bickerings over the grave of one so
loving and so beloved; and very trying to be always on the alert to
obviate the snappings that might at any time become a sharp dissension;
but nothing very distressing actually arose until the last day before
the funeral, when the three cousins were sitting together in the
morning-room; James writing letters.

'I am asking Lady Conway to give you a bed to-morrow night, Clara,' he
said.  'We shall be at home by three o'clock.'

'Oh, Jem!' said Clara, clasping her hands to keep them from trembling;
'I never thought of that.'

'You are not ready!  That is unlucky, for I cannot come to fetch you;
but I suppose you can travel down with Jane.  Only I should have
thought it easier to do the thing at once.'

'But, Jem! has my uncle said anything?  Does he wish me to go?'

James laid down his pen, and stood upright, as if he did not understand
her words.

Clara came up to him, saying, 'I believe I ought to do what he may
wish.'

'I told you,' said James, as if her words were not worth considering,
'that you need only remain here on her account, who no longer needs
you.'

Louis would have left them to themselves, but Clara's glance sued for
his protection, and, as he settled himself in his chair, she spoke with
more decision.--'Dear James, nothing would make me so happy as to go to
dear home; but I do not think grandmamma would like me to leave Uncle
Oliver.'

'Oh, very well,' said James, sitting down to his writing, as if he had
done with her; 'I understand.'

'Dear James!  O tell me you are not angry with me!  Tell me you think I
am right!' cried Clara, alarmed by his manner.

'Quite right in one point of view,' he said, with acrimony.

'James,' said Louis, very low, but so as to make them both start, 'that
is not the way to treat your sister!'

'We will renew the discussion another time, if you wish it, Clara,'
said James.

'No,' said Clara, 'I wish Louis to be here.  He will judge for me,' and
she spoke clearly, her face colouring.  'It was grandmamma's great wish
that I should love my uncle.  She used to beg me to be patient with
him, and rejoiced to see us together.  She often said he must not be
left with no one to make a home for him, and to go out to Lima again.'

'Did she ever desire you to remain here?'

'No,' said Clara, 'she never did; but I am convinced that if she had
known how soon she was to leave us, she would have done so.  I feel as
much bound as if she had.  I have heard her call him my charge. And not
only so, but my uncle has never varied in his kindness to me, and when
he worked all his life for grandmamma, and my father, it would be
wicked and cruel in me--if he does care for me--to forsake him, now he
has lost them all, and is growing old.'

'You need not scruple on that score,' said James.  'He has attained his
object, and made the most of it.  He is free now, and he will soon find
a Rosita, if his mines are not sufficient for him.'

'James, you should not say wrong things,' said Clara.

'I am not likely to think it wrong, whatever you may.  I have no
expectations.  Do not rise up in arms against me, Fitzjocelyn, I do not
accuse her.  I might have foreseen it.  She meant well at first, but
the Terrace cannot bear competition with a place like this. Where two
so-called duties clash, she is at perfect liberty to make her choice.
It would not be easy to come down to what I have to offer.  I
understand.  The world will call it a wise choice.  Say no more, Clara,
I feel no anger.'

She attempted no words; she clasped her hands over her face, and ran
out of the room.

'James,' said Louis, rising, indignation rendering his voice more low
and clearly distinct than ever, 'I little thought to hear you insult
that orphan sister of yours in her grief.  No! I shall not defend her,
I shall go to give her what comfort I can.  Heaven help her, poor
lonely child!'

He was gone.  James paced about in desperation, raving against Louis
for maintaining what he thought Clara's self-deception; and, in the
blindness of anger, imagining that their ultra-generosity would conduct
them to the repair of Ormersfield with the revenues of Cheveleigh; and,
disdainful as he was, it seemed another cruel outrage that his rightful
inheritance should be in the hands of another, and his children
portionless.  He was far too wrathful to have any consistency or
discrimination in his anger, and he was cruelly wounded at finding that
his sister deserted him, as he thought, for her uncle's riches, and
that his own closest friend was ready to share the spoil.

In the stillness of the house, the sound of a door had revealed to
Louis where to seek his cousin.  It was in the grand saloon, where the
closed shutters availed not to exclude the solid beams of slanting
sunlight falling through the crevices, and glancing on the gilding,
velvet, and blazonry upon the costly coffin, that shut her out from the
dear tender hands and lips that had never failed to caress away her
childish griefs.  At first, the strange broad lines of shadowy light in
the gloom were all he could see, but one ray tinged with paly light a
plaited tress, which could only be Clara's flaxen hair.

She had flung herself, crouching in a heap, on the floor, never
stirring, so that he almost feared she had fainted; and, kneeling on
one knee beside her, spoke soothingly: 'My poor little dear Clary, this
is the worst of all, but you know it was not Jem who spoke.  It was
only prejudice and temper.  He is not himself.'

The dim light seemed to encourage Clara to lift her head to listen to
the kind words.  'Was I so very wrong?' she murmured; 'you know I never
thought of that!  Will he forgive me, and let me come home? But, oh,
granny! and what is to become of my uncle?' she ended, with a sound of
misery.

'Not here, not now, Clara--' said Louis; 'She is in perfect peace;
unhurt by our unhappy dissensions; she is with Him who looks at hearts,
who can take away all variance.'

There was a short space of silence, as the two cousins knelt in the
darkened room, in the sunbeams, which seemed as if they could not yet
forsake her who had lived in the light of love.

Presently Louis gave Clara his hand to raise her, and led her into the
adjoining room, also dim, but full of sweet fragrant breezes from the
garden.  He seated her on a low couch, and stood by, anxiously watching
her.

'If he had only told me I was wrong!' she sighed.

'He could not tell you so, Clara, for it is not wrong, and he knows it
is not.  He will thank you by-and-by for not attending to him, now that
he does not know what he says.  He is fairly distracted with this grief
coming upon his home cares.'

'Cares at dear, dear happy home!' cried Clara.  'Never!'

'Ah, Clara!  I fear that much comfort went away with dear granny. I
think he is overtasking himself at the school; and three children
within a year may well make a man anxious and oppressed.'

'And I have vexed and disappointed him more!' exclaimed she.  'No
wonder he was angry, and ready to impute anything!  But he will believe
me, he will forgive me, he will take me home.'

'It is my belief,' said Fitzjocelyn, in his peculiar way, 'that the
worst injury you could do to James would be to give way to the spirit
that has possessed him.'

'But, Louis,' cried Clara, wildly astonished, 'I must go; I can't have
Jem saying these things of me.'

'His saying them does not make them true.'

'He is my brother.  He has the only right to me.  If I must choose
between him and my uncle, he must be mine--mine.'

'You have not to choose between him and your uncle.  You have to choose
between right and wrong, between his frenzy and his true good.'

'My brother! my brother!  I go with my brother!' was still her vehement
cry.  Without listening to her cousin's last words, she made a gesture
to put him aside, and rose to hurry to her brother.

But Louis stood before her, and spoke gravely.  'Very well.  Yield
yourself to his management.  Go back to be another burden upon a
household, poor enough already to sour him with cares.  Let him tell
your uncle that both his brother's children loathe the fruit of the
self-sacrifice of a lifetime.  Transgress your grandmother's wishes;
condemn that poor man to a desolate, objectless, covetous old age; make
the breach irreconcilable for ever; and will James be the better or the
happier for your allowing his evil temper the full swing?'

Clara wrung her hands.  'My uncle!  Yes, what shall I do with my uncle?
If I could only have them both?'

'This way you would have neither.  Keep the straight path, and you may
end in having both.'

'Straight--I don't know what straight is!  It must be right to cling to
my own brother in his noble poverty.  Oh! that he should imagine me
caring for this horrid, horrid state and grandeur!'

Louis recurred to the old argument, that James did not know what he was
saying, and recalled her to the remembrance of what she had felt to be
the right course before James's ebullition.  She owned it most
reluctantly; but oh! she said, would James still forgive her, and not
believe such dreadful things, but trust and be patient with her, and
perhaps Uncle Oliver might after all be set on going to Peru, and
beyond remonstrance.  Then it would all come right--no, not right, for
granny had dreaded his going.  Confused and distressed by the
conflicting claims, Clara was thankful for the present respite given to
her by Louis's promise that his father should sound her uncle as to his
wishes and intentions.  Lord Ormersfield's upright, unimpassioned
judgment appeared like a sort of refuge from the conflict of the
various claims, and he was besides in a degree, her guardian, being the
sole executor of the only will which Mrs. Frost had ever made, soon
after the orphans came under her charge, giving the Terrace to James,
and dividing the money in the Funds between the two.

Weeping, but not unhopeful--convinced, though not acknowledging
it--only praying for strength and patience, and hungering for one kind
word from James--Clara quitted that almost brother, in whose counsel he
had constrained her to seek relief, and went to her own chamber, there
to throw herself on the guidance of that Friend, who sticketh closer
than a brother.

The remaining part of the day passed quietly.  James did not
consciously make any difference in his manner, meaning to be still
affectionate, though disappointed, and pitying her mistake, both as to
her present happiness and future good.

Lord Ormersfield and Walter arrived in the evening, and James applied
himself to finding occupation for his brother-in-law, whom he kept out
of the way in the garden very satisfactorily.  The Earl was so softened
and sorrowful, that Clara hardly knew him.  He deeply felt the loss of
the kind, gentle aunt, whose sympathy had been more to him than he had
known at the time; the last remnant of the previous generation, the
last link with his youth, and he was even more grieved for the blank
she left with Louis than for himself.  By Louis's desire, he inquired
into Oliver's intentions.  'Must stay here,' was the answer.  'Can't
leave that child alone with the property.  I can look to the Equatorial
Company here--must do without me out there.  No, no, I can't leave the
girl to her brother; he'd teach her his own nasty, spiteful temper, and
waste the property on all those brats.  No, I'm fixed here; I must look
after Henry's child, fine girl, good-tempered girl; takes after Henry,
don't you think so?'

That Clara took after her father in anything but being tall and fair,
would hardly have been granted by any one who knew her better than the
Earl, but he readily allowed it, and Oliver proceeded:--'As long as she
does not marry, here I am; but I trust some one will soon take the care
of her off my hands--man who would look after the property well.  She's
a good girl too, and the finest figure in the whole county; lucky him
who gets her.  I shall be sorry to part with the child, too, but I
shall be working for her, and there's nothing left that cares a rush
for me now, so I might as well be out of the way of the young things.
I know the old place at Lima, and the place knows me; and what do I
care for this now my mother is gone?  If I could only see Clara safe
settled here, then I should care as little what became of me as I
suppose she would.'

The Earl was touched by the dreary, desponding tone of the reply, and
reported it to Louis and Clara with such terms, that Clara's decision
was made at once, namely, that it would be wrong and cruel to cast away
her uncle, and be swayed by James's prejudice; and Lord Ormersfield
told her with grave approval that she was quite right, and that he
hoped that James would recover from his unreasonable folly.

'Make Jem forgive me,' said Clara, faintly, as her announcement of her
purpose, when she finally sought her room, obliged to be thought meanly
of, rather than do ill, denying her fondest affections, cutting herself
off from all she loved, and, with but this consolation, that she was
doing as grandmamma would have bidden her. Oh, how her heart yearned
after home!

On the morrow, Clara sorrowed in her solitary chamber alone with
faithful Jane, who, amid her bursts of tears, felt the one
satisfaction, that her dear mistress had lived to be buried like the
stock she came of, and who counted the carriages and numbered the
scarfs, like so many additional tributes from the affection of her dear
Master Oliver.

Once on that day James was visibly startled from his heavy, stern mood
of compressed, indignant sorrow.  It was as he advanced to the entrance
of the vault, and his eye was struck by a new and very handsome tablet
on the wall.  It was to the father, mother, and young brother and
sisters, whose graves had been hastily made far away in the time of the
pestilence, the only Dynevors who did not lie in the tombs of their
fathers.  For one moment James moved nearer to his uncle.  Could he
have spoken then, what might not have followed? but it was impossible,
and the impulse passed away.

But he was kind when he hurried upstairs for a last embrace to Clara.
He still felt fondly, brotherly, and compassionate; and all the more,
because she had proved more weak against temptation than he had
expected.  His farewell was, 'Good-bye, my poor Clara, God bless you.'

'Oh, thank you!' cried Clara, from the bottom of her heart.  'You
forgive me, James?'

'I forgive; I am sorry for you, my poor child.  Mind, Dynevor Terrace
is still your home, if you do not find the happiness you expect in your
chosen lot.'

'Happiness!' but he had no time to hear.  He was gone, while she sobbed
out her message of love for Isabel, and Louis ran up, pale with
repressed suffering, and speaking with difficulty, as he wrung her
hand, and murmured, 'Oh, Clara! may we but abide patiently.'

After his good-bye, he turned back again to say, 'I'm selfish; but let
me put you in mind not to let the Lima correspondence drop.'

'Oh, no, no; you know I won't.'

'Thank you!  And let me leave you Mary's keynote of comfort, 'Commit
thy way unto the Lord, and He will bring it to pass.''

'Thank you,' said Clara, in her turn, and she was left alone.



CHAPTER XII.

THE FROST HOUSEHOLD.

  The wind of late breathed gently forth,
  Now shifted east, and east by north,
  Bare trees and shrubs but ill, you know,
  Could shelter them from rain or snow,
  Stepping into their nests they paddled,
  Themselves were chilled, their eggs were addled,
  Soon every father bird and mother
  Grew quarrelsome, and pecked each other.
                        Pairing Time Anticipated--COWPER.


Three weeks longer did the session drag on, but on the joyful day when
release was given, Lord Ormersfield was surprised to find Mr. Dynevor's
card upon his table, with an address at Farrance's hotel.

Louis alone was at leisure to repair thither.  He found Clara alone,
looking as if her grief were still very fresh, and, though striving to
speak gaily, the tears very near the surface.

'We are going abroad,' she said; 'Uncle Oliver thinks it a part of my
education, and declares he will not have me behind the Miss Brittons.
We are bound straight for Switzerland.'

'Lucky girl,' said Louis.

'I'm sure I don't care for it,' said Clara; 'mountains and pictures are
not a bit in my line, unless I had Isabel and you, Louis, to make me
care.'

'Learn, then,' said Louis; 'it shows that your education is defective.
Yes, I see,' he continued, as Clara signed heavily, 'but you don't know
the good it will do you to have your mind forcibly turned aside.'

'If I could only sit quiet in a corner,' said Clara.

'So you will, in many a corner of a railway carriage.'

She smiled a little.  'The truth is,' she said, 'that poor Uncle Oliver
cannot be quiet.  I can't see what pleasure Italy will be to him, but
he is too miserable at home.  I never saw such restless unhappiness!'
and her eyes filled with tears.  'Oh, Louis!  I am glad you would not
let me say anything about leaving him.  Sometimes when he bids me good
night, he puts his arm round me, and says so pitifully that I do not
care for him.  Do you know, I think mine is the little spar of love
that he tries to cling to in the great ship wreck; and I feel quite
sorry and hypocritical that it is such a poor, miserable shred.'

'It will grow,' said Louis, smiling.

'I don't know; he is terribly provoking sometimes--and without dear
granny to hinder the rubs.  O, Louis! it is true that there is no
bearing to stay at home in those great empty rooms!'

'And Jane?'

'Oh, she goes,' said Clara, recovering a smile; 'she is firmly
persuaded that we shall run into another revolution, and as she could
not frighten us by the description of your wounds, she decides to come
and dress ours when we get any.  Dear old Jenny, I am glad she goes;
she is the only creature I can talk to; but, Louis, before my uncle
comes in, I have something to give you.'

It was the letters that Mary had written to her aunt since the parting,
and the Spanish books which she had left in her charge.

'It is very kind in you, Clara,' said Louis, fervently.

They talked of Mary, and a little of James, from whom Clara had once
heard; but it had been a stiff letter, as if a barrier were between
them, and then Mr. Dynevor came in, and seemed pleased to find Louis
there; even asking him whether he could not join them on their tour,
and help Clara to speak French.

'No, thank you, sir,' said Louis, 'I am afraid my company brought no
good luck last time.'

'Never mind that--manage better now--ha, Clara.'

'It would be very nice; but he has a great deal too much to do at
home,' said Clara.

Oliver would not be persuaded that Fitzjocelyn would not meet them
abroad, and began magniloquently talking of his courier, and his route,
and while he was looking for the map, the two cousins smiled, and Clara
said,--'Lucky you to have work at home, and to stay with it.'

'Only I say, Clara, when you break down anywhere, send me a telegraph.'

'No such good luck,' sighed Clara.

'So he won't come,' said her uncle, when he was gone; 'but we shall
have him following us yet--Ha! ha!  Never mind, Clara.'

Clara laughed.  She knew what her uncle meant, but the notion was to
her too impossible and ridiculous even to need a blush.  She did not
think the world contained Louis's equal; but she had always known that
his love was disposed of, and she no more thought of wishing for it
than for any other impossible thing.  His affection for Mary gave her
no more pain than did that of James for Isabel; and she would have
treated with scorn and anger anything that impeached his constancy.
The pleasure with which he received Mary's letters was the single
satisfaction that she carried away with her.

And so she was borne away, and her sad heart could not choose but be
somewhat enlivened by change and novelty, while her uncle made it his
business to show her everything as rapidly as it could be seen,
apparently with no relish himself for aught but perpetual movement.

So passed the autumn with Clara.  It was not much brighter at Dynevor
Terrace.  Clara, being still under age, had it not in her power to
resign her half of her grandmother's income, even if her brother would
have accepted it; and 70 pounds made a difference in such an income as
James's, more especially as his innovations did not tend to fill the
school.

Murmurs were going about that Mr. Frost was severe, or that he was
partial.  Some censured his old opinions, others his new studies; one
had been affronted by being almost told his boy was a dunce, another
hated all this new-fangled nonsense.  The ladies were all, to a woman,
up against his wife, her airs, her poverty, her twins, and her
housekeeping; and seldom spoke of her save to contrast her with good
old Mrs. Frost.  And then it was plain that something was wrong between
him and his uncle, and no one could believe but that his temper had
been the cause.  The good Miss Faithfulls struggled in vain to silence
scandal, and keep it from 'coming round;' and luckily Isabel was the
last person likely either to hear or resent.

The boys met with decreased numbers after the holidays; and James
received them with undiminished energy, but with failing patience, and
a temper not improved by the late transactions at Cheveleigh, and
fretted, as Louis had divined, by home cares.

Of all living women, Isabel was one of the least formed by habits or
education to be an economical housewife and the mother of twins.
Maternal love did not develop into unwearied delight in infant
companionship, nor exclusive interest in baby smiles; and while she had
great visions for the future education of her little maidens, she was
not desirous to prolong the time spent in their society, but in general
preferred peace and Sir Hubert.  On the other hand, James was an
unusually caressing father.  After hours among rough inattentive boys,
nothing rested him so much as to fondle those tender creatures; his
eldest girl knew him, and was in ecstasy whenever he approached; and
the little pair of babies, by their mere soft helplessness, gave him an
indescribable sense of fondness and refreshment.  His little ones were
all the world to him, and he could not see how a pattern mother should
ever be so happy as with them around her.  He forgot the difference
between the pastime of an hour and the employment of a day.  The need
of such care on her part was the greater since the nursery
establishment was deficient.  The grand nurse had almost abdicated on
the double addition to her charge, and had only been bribed to stay by
an ill-spared increase in wages, and a share in an underling, who was
also to help Charlotte in her housemaid's department.  Nevertheless,
the nurse was always complaining; the children, though healthy, always
crying, and their father always certain it was somebody's fault.  Nor
did the family expenses diminish, retrench his own indulgences as he
might.  It was the mistress's eye that was wanting, and Isabel did not
know how to use it.  The few domestic cares that she perceived to be
her duty were gone through as weary tasks, and her mind continued
involved in her own romantic world, where she was oblivious of all that
was troublesome or vexatious.  Now and then she was aware of a sluggish
dulness that seemed to be creeping over her higher aspirations--a want
of glow and feeling on religious subjects, even in the most sacred
moments; and she wondered and grieved at a condition, such as she had
never experienced in what she had thought far more untoward
circumstances.  She did not see the difference between doing her best
when her will was thwarted, and her present life of neglect and
indulgence.  Nothing roused her; she did not perceive omissions that
would have fretted women of housewifely instincts, and her soft dignity
and smooth temper felt few annoyances; and though James could sometimes
be petulant, he was always withheld from reproving her both by his
enthusiastic fondness, and his sense that for him she had quitted her
natural station of ease and prosperity.

On a dark hazy November afternoon, when the boys had been unusually
obtuse and mischievous, and James, worn-out, wearied, and uncertain
whether his cuts had alighted on the most guilty heads, strode home
with his arm full of Latin exercises, launched them into the study, and
was running up to the drawing-room, when he almost fell over Charlotte,
who was scouring the stairs.

She gave a little start and scream, and stood up to let him pass.  He
was about to rebuke her for doing such work at such an hour; but he saw
her flushed, panting, and evidently very tired, and his wrath was
averted.  Hurrying on to the drawing-room, he found Isabel eagerly
writing.  She looked up with a pretty smile of greeting; but he only
ran his hand through his already disordered hair, and exclaimed--

'Our stairs are like the Captain of Knockdunder's.  You never know they
are cleaned, except by tumbling over the bucket and the maid.'

'Are they being done?' said Isabel, quietly.  'I suppose the maids were
busy this morning.'

'And Charlotte, too!  She looks half dead.  I thought Ellen was to do
such work, and ought to have done it in proper time.'

'Little Catharine is so fretful, that Ellen cannot be spared from the
nursery.'

'I suppose she might be, if you were not absorbed in that writing.'

'I had the children with me, while the servants were at dinner; but
Kitty was so troublesome, that I could not keep her.  I am particularly
anxious to finish this.'

'Some people would think a sick child more engrossing than that--' He
had very nearly said trash, but he broke off short.

'There is nothing really the matter with her,' began Isabel,
composedly; but James did not wait to listen, and muttering, 'That girl
will be killed if she goes on,' he ran up to the nursery, whence he
already heard a sound of low fretting.

The child was sitting on the nurse's lap, with a hot red spot on one
cheek, teased and disturbed by the noises that the lesser ones were
constantly making, as one lay in her cot, and the other was carried
about by the girl.  As he entered, she shrieked joyously, and stretched
out her arms, and Kitty was at once clinging, hugging round his neck.
Sending Ellen down to finish the stairs, he carried off the little
girl, fondling and talking to her, and happy in her perfect content.
But he did not go to the drawing-room.  'No, no, mamma must not be
interrupted,' he bitterly thought, as he carried her down to the
fireless study, hung his plaid round himself and her, and walked up and
down the room with her, amusing her till she fell into a slumber on his
shoulder.

Isabel could not at once resume her pen.  Her even temper was for once
ruffled, and her bosom swelled at the thought that his reproach was
unjust; she was willing to do what was fitting, and he ought not to
expect her to be an absolute nursery-maid.  Women must keep up the tone
of their own minds, and she might be being useful to the world as well
as to her own family.  If he wanted a mere household drudge, why had he
not looked elsewhere?  Up went her queenly head, as she believed her
powers were meant for other things; but her heart gave a painful throb
at the recollection that poverty had been her voluntary choice, and had
seemed perfect felicity with James.  Alas! she loved, honoured, and
admired him, as her upright, unselfish, uncompromising husband, but
worries, and rebukes, and tart answers, had made many a rent in the
veil in which her fancy had enfolded him.  Sir Roland had disappeared,
and James and Sir Hubert were falling farther and farther asunder.

And Isabel sighed, partly at the memory of the imaginary being for whom
she had taken James, and partly at the future prospect, the narrow
sphere, the choice between solitude and dull society, the homely toils
that must increase, worn-out garments, perpetual alphabets, children
always whining, and James always irritated, thinking her remiss, and
coming in with that furrow on his forehead, and his hair standing up
wildly.  She shrank from the contemplation, took her letter-case on her
knee, moved close to the fire to profit by the light, stirred up a
clear flame, and proceeded with the benevolent hermit, who came to the
rescue when Sir Hubert was at the last gasp, and Adeline had received
his beautiful resigned words. The hermit had transported him into his
hut, and comforted Adeline, and was beginning a consolatory harangue,
making revelations that were to set everything right, when just as he
had gone as far as 'My son, know that I did not always wear this
amice,' there was a tap at the door, and she saw Fitzjocelyn, who had
been at Oakstead for the last few weeks, attending to some matters
connected with his constituency.

'Ah! is it you?' she said, her lap too full of papers for her to rise.
'I did not know you were come home.'

'I came yesterday; and what company do you think I had in the train as
far as Estminster?'

'Ah, I can guess! How does Louisa look?'

'Rather languid; but Estminster is to work wonders.  She declares that
Northwold is her best cure, and I am speculating whether she will
prevail.  I think Lady Conway dreads your example.'

'Mamma does not allow for the force of imagination,' said Isabel, not
exactly knowing what prompted either the words or the sigh.

'I am come to ask if you will kindly give me a dinner.  My father is
gone to the book-club meeting, so I thought we would try to revive old
times,' he said, smiling, but sadly, for the present scene was little
like the No. 5 of old times.

'We shall be delighted,' said Isabel, with alacrity, relieved at
avoiding a tete-it-tete with her husband at present, and refreshed by
the sight of one belonging to her former life, and external to her
present round of monotonous detail.  'Fortunately, it is not a lecture
night and James will be very glad.'

I suppose he is not come in from school?'

'Yea, he is.  I think he is in the study.  I will let him know,' she
said, with her hand on the bell.

'I will go to him,' said Louis, departing out of consideration that she
might wish for space to attend to dinner, room, and dress.  The two
last were scarcely in such a state as he had been used to see at No. 5:
books were on the sofa, the table-cover hung awry; the Dresden
Shepherd's hat was grimed, and his damsel's sprigged gown hemmed with
dust; there were no flowers in the vases, which his aunt had never left
unsupplied; and Isabel, though she could not be otherwise than handsome
and refined, had her crape rumpled, and the heavy folds of her dark
hair looking quite ready for the evening toilette; and, as she sat on
her low seat by the fire, the whole had an indescribable air of comfort
passing into listless indulgence.

Fitzjocelyn politely apologized to Ellen for a second time stepping
over her soapy deluge, and, as he opened the study door with a
preliminary knock, a voice, as sharp and petulant as it was low, called
out, 'Hollo!  Be quiet there, can't you!  You've no business here yet,
and I have no time to waste on your idleness.'

'I am sorry to hear it,' said Louis, advancing into the dim light of
the single bed-room candle, which only served to make visible the
dusky, unshuttered windows, and the black gulf of empty grate.  James
was sitting by the table, with his child wrapped in the plaid, asleep
on his breast, and his disengaged hand employed in correcting
exercises.  Without moving, he held it out, purple and chilled,
exclaiming, 'Ha! Fitzjocelyn, I took you for that lout of a Garett.'

'Is this an average specimen of your reception of your scholars?'

'I was afraid of his waking the child.  She has been unwell all day,
and I have scarcely persuaded her to go to sleep.'

'Emulating Hooker.'

'As little in patience as in judgment,' sighed James.

'And which of them is it who is lulled by the strains of 'As in
proesenti?''

'Which?' said James, somewhat affronted.  'Can't you tell sixteen
months from five?'

'I beg her pardon; but I can't construct a whole child from an inch of
mottled leg--as Professor Owen would a megalosaurus from a tooth. Does
she walk?'

'Poor child, she _must_!' said James.  'She thinks it very hard to have
two sisters so little younger than herself,' and he peeped under the
plaid at the little brown head, and drew it closer round, with a look
of almost melancholy tenderness, guarding carefully against touching
her with his cold hands.

'She will think it all the better by-and-by,' said Louis.

'You had better not stay here in the cold.  I'll come when I have heard
that boy's imposition and looked over these exercises.'  And he ran his
hand through his hair again.

'Don't!  You look like enough to a lion looking out of a bush to
frighten ten boys already,' said Louis.  'I'll do the exercises,'
pulling the copy-books away.

'What, you don't trust me?' as James detained them.

'No, I don't,' said James, his cousin's brightness awakening his
livelier manner.  'It needs an apprenticeship to be up to their
blunders.'

'Let me read them to you.  I gave notice to Isabel that I am come to
dinner, and no doubt she had rather I were disposed of.'

James objected no farther, and the dry labour was illuminated by the
discursive remarks and moralizings which Louis allowed to flow in their
natural idle course, both to divert his dispirited cousin, and to
conceal from himself how much cause there was for depression. When the
victim of the imposition approached, Louis prevented the dreaded clumsy
entrance, seized on a Virgil, and himself heard the fifty lines,
scarcely making them serve their purpose as a punishment, but sending
the culprit away in an unusually amiable temper.

Services from Louis were too natural to James to be requited with
thanks; but he was not uncivil in his notice of a wrong tense that had
been allowed to pass, and the question was argued with an eagerness
which showed that he was much enlivened.  On the principle that Louis
must care for all that was his, as he rose to take the still-sleeping
child upstairs, he insisted that his cousin should come with him, if
only for the curiosity of looking at the other two little animals, and
learning the difference between them and Kitty, at whom he still looked
as if her godfather had insulted her.

It was pretty to see his tenderness, as he detached the little girl
from her hold, and laid her in the cot, making a little murmuring
sound; and boasted how she would have shown off if awake, and laughed
over her droll little jealousies of his even touching the twins.  As
she was asleep, he might venture; and it was comical to hear him
declaring that no one need mistake them for each other, and to see him
trying to lay them side by side on his knees to be compared, when they
would roll over, and interlace their little scratching fingers; and
Louis stood by teasing him, and making him defend their beauty in terms
that became extravagant.  He was really happy here; the careworn look
smoothed away, the sharpness left his tones, and there was nothing but
joyous exultation and fondness in his whole manner.

The smile did not last long, for Louis was well-nigh thrown downstairs
by a dustpan in a dark corner, and James was heard muttering that
nothing in that house was ever in its right place; and while Louis was
suggesting that it was only himself who was not in the right place,
they entered the drawing-room, which, like the lady, was in the same
condition as that in which he had left it.  Since Isabel had lost
Marianne and other appliances, she had thought it not worth while to
dress for dinner; so nothing had happened, except that the hermit had
proved to be Adeline's great uncle, and had begun to clear up the
affair of the sacrilege.

He was reluctant to leave off when the gentlemen appeared; but Isabel
shut him up, and quietly held out the portfolio to James, who put it on
the side-table, and began to clear the books away and restore some sort
of order; but it was a task beyond his efforts.

Dinner was announced by Charlotte, as usual, all neat grace and
simplicity, in her black dress and white apron, but flushed and heated
by exertions beyond her strength.  All that depended on her had been
well done; but it would not seem to have occurred to her mistress that
three people ate more than two; and to Louis, who had been too busy to
take any luncheon, the two dishes seemed alarmingly small.  One was of
haricot mutton, the other of potatoes; and Charlotte might be seen to
blush as she carried Lord Fitzjocelyn the plate containing a chop
resembling Indian rubber, decorated with grease and with two balls of
nearly raw carrot, and followed it up with potatoes apparently all
bruises.

Louis talked vigorously of Virginia and Louisa--secretly marvelling how
his hosts had brought themselves down to such fare.  Isabel was dining
without apparently seeing anything amiss, and James attempted nothing
but a despairing toss of his chin, as he pronounced the carrots
underdone.  After the first course there was a long interval, during
which Isabel and Louis composedly talked about the public meeting which
he had been attending, and James fidgetted in the nervousness of
hardly-restrained displeasure; but suddenly a frightful shrieking
arose, and he indignantly cried, 'That girl!'

'Poor Charlotte in her hysterics again,' said Isabel, moving off,
quickly for her, with the purple scent-bottle at her chatelaine.

'Isabel makes her twice as bad,' exclaimed James; 'to pet her with
eau-de-Cologne is mere nonsense.  Some day I shall throw a bucket of
cold water over her.'

Isabel had left the door open, and they heard her softly comforting
Charlotte with 'Never mind,' and 'Lord Fitzjocelyn would not care,'
till the storm lulled.  Charlotte crept off to her room, and Isabel
returned to the dinner-table.

'Well, what's the matter now?' said James.

'Poor Charlotte!' said Isabel, smiling; 'it seems that she trusted to
making a grand appearance with the remains of yesterday's pudding, and
that she was quite overset by the discovery that Ellen and Miss
Catharine had been marauding on them.'

'You don't mean that Kitty has been eating that heavy pudding at this
time of night?' cried James.

'Kitty eats everything,' was the placid answer, 'and I do not think we
can blame Ellen, for she often comes down after our dinner to find
something for the nursery supper.'

'Things go on in the most extraordinary manner,' muttered James.

'I suppose Charlotte misses Jane,' said Louis.  'She looks ill.'

'No wonder,' said James, 'she is not strong enough for such work. She
has no method, and yet she is the only person who ever thinks of doing
a thing properly.  I wish your friend Madison would come home and take
her off our hands, for she is always alternating between fits of
novel-reading and of remorse, in which she nearly works herself to
death with running after lost time.'

'I should be sorry to part with her,' said Isabel; 'she is so quiet,
and so fond of the children.'

'She will break down some day,' said James; 'if not before, certainly
when she hears that Madison has a Peruvian wife.'

'There is no more to come,' said Isabel, rising; 'shall we come
upstairs?'

James took up the candles, and Louis followed, considerably hungry, and
for once provoked by Isabel's serene certainty that nobody cared
whether there were anything to eat.  However, he had forgotten all by
the time he came upstairs, and began to deliver a message from Lady
Conway, that she was going to write in a day or two to beg for a visit
from Isabel during her sojourn at Estminster, a watering-place about
thirty miles distant.  Isabel's face lighted with pleasure. 'I could
go?' she said, eagerly turning towards James.

'Oh, yes, if you wish it,' he answered, gruffly, as if vexed at her
gratification.

'I mean, of course, if you can spare me,' she said, with an air of more
reserve.

'If you wish it, go by all means.  I hope you will.'

'The Christmas holidays are so near, that we may both go,' said Isabel;
but James still had not recovered his equanimity, and Louis thought it
best to begin talking of other things; and, turning to James, launched
into the results of his Inglewood crops, and the grand draining plan
which was to afford Marksedge work for the winter, and in which his
father had become much interested.  But he did not find that ready heed
to all that occupied him of which he used to be certain at the Terrace.
Isabel cared not at all for farming, and took no part in 'mere country
squire's talk;' and James was too much overburthened with troubles and
anxieties to enter warmly into those of others.  Of those to whom
Louis's concerns had been as their own, one had been taken from him,
the other two were far away; and the cold 'yes,' 'very good,' fell
coldly on his ear.

The conversation reverted to the school; and here it appeared that two
years' experience had taken away the freshness of novelty, and the
cycle of disappointment had begun.  More boys were quitting the school
than the new-comers could balance; and James spoke with acute vexation
of the impracticability of the boys, and the folly of the parents.  The
attendance at his evening lectures had fallen off; and he declared that
there was a spirit of opposition to whatever he did. The boys
disobeyed, knowing that they should be favoured at home, and if they
were punished, the parents talked of complaints to the trustees.  The
Sunday teaching was treated as especially obnoxious: the genteel
mothers talked ridiculously about its resembling a charity-school, the
fathers did not care whether their sons went or not, and he had
scarcely five boys who appeared there regularly, and of them one was
the butcher's son, who came rather in spite of his parents than with
their consent.  Attendance at church was more slack than ever; and when
he lectured the defaulters, and gave them additional tasks in the week,
it was resented as an injustice.  To crown all, Mr. Ramsbotham had
called, and had been extremely insolent about a boy whose ears had been
boxed for reading Pickwick in school, under cover of his Latin grammar,
and Isabel was almost indignant with Miss Faithfull for having ventured
to hint to her that she wished Mr. Frost would be a little more gentle
with the boys.

Isabel was fully alive now, and almost as vehement as her husband, in
her complaints against his many foes.  There was no lack of sympathy
here, indeed, there might be rather too much, for she did not afford
the softening influence that James had hitherto found at home.

'Well, Jem,' said Louis, at last, 'I think you should keep your hands
off the boys.'

'You are not bitten with the nonsense about personal dignity and
corporal punishment?' said James.

'By no means.  I have an infinite respect for the great institution of
flogging; but a solemn execution is one thing, a random stroke another.'

'Theories are very good things till you come to manage two score dunces
without sense or honour.  There is only one sort of appeal to their
feelings that tells.'

'Maybe so, but I have my doubts whether you are the man to make it.'

Louis was sorry he had so spoken, for a flush of pain came up in
James's face at the remembrance of what Fitzjocelyn had long ago
forgotten--a passionate blow given to deter him from a piece of wilful
mischief, in which he was persisting for the mere amusement of
provoking.  It stood out among all other varieties of cuff, stroke, and
knock, by the traces it had left, by Mrs. Frost's grief at it, and the
forgiveness from the Earl, and it had been the most humiliating
distress of James's childhood.  It humbled him even now, and he
answered--

'You may be right, Louis; I may be not sufficiently altered since I was
a boy.  I have struck harder than I intended more than once, and I have
told the boys so.'

'I am sure, if they had any generosity, they would have been touched
with your amends,' cried Isabel.

'After all, a schoolmaster's life does not tend to mend the temper,'
concluded James, sighing, and passing his hand over his forehead.

'No,' thought Louis, 'nor does Isabel's mutton!'



CHAPTER XIII.

THE CONWAY HOUSEHOLD.

  And ye shall walk in silk attire,
    And siller hae to spare,
  Gin ye'll consent to be his bride,
    Nor think of Donald mair.
                   Miss BLAMIRE.


What makes you so lame to-day?' asked Lord Ormersfield, as Louis
crossed the library, on returning from an interview to which he had
been summoned in another room.

'I only stumbled over an obstruction on the Frost staircase yesterday,'
said Louis. 'Poor Jem chose to have me up to the nursery; and to see
him in the paternal character is the funniest as well as the
pleasantest spectacle the house affords.'

'Ah! it is not what it was,' said the Earl.  'I suppose I must call
there before the holidays, though,' he added, reluctantly.  'But what
did that man, Ramsbotham, want with you?'

'To ask our interest for that appointment for his friend Grant.'

'Indeed! what could bring him here?'

'Why, unluckily, he fancied he had some claim on me, on the score of
Jem Frost's election.  I was too innocent then to know what those
things go for.'

'You may say so!' ejaculated the Earl.  'So he was insolent enough to
bring that up, was he?'

'Worse,' said Fitzjocelyn; 'he wanted to threaten that, unless I would
oblige him now, there were matters which it was his duty to lay before
the trustees.  I told him he would do, of course, whatever was his
duty; whereupon he thought my Lordship was interested in Mr. Frost.'

'Intolerably impertinent!  I hope you set him down!'

'I told him that neither Mr. Frost nor I should wish him to pretermit
his duty on any consideration whatever.  Then he harked back to what he
did for us at the election; and I was forced to tell him that if he
considered that he had thereby established a claim on me, I must own
myself in his debt; but as to reciprocating it, by putting in a person
like Grant, that was against my conscience.  He flew into a passion,
informed me that Mr. Frost would take the consequences, mounted the
British Lion, and I bowed him out upon that majestic quadruped, talking
grandly of illiberal prejudices and the rising generation.'

'You acknowledged that he had a claim on you?'

'As things go in this world, I suppose it is true.'

'Louis! you will never know how to deal with those people.'

'I am afraid not.  I could not, either boldly or diplomatically, get
rid of the charge; so there was nothing for it but to confess. That's
not the worst of it.  I am afraid he really will be able to take
revenge on poor Jem, and I'm sure he can't afford to lose any more
scholars.'

'Such a fellow as that will not have much in his power against James,'
said Lord Ormersfield.  'What I am afraid of is, that you have cut the
ground from under your feet.  I cannot see how you are ever to stand
for Northwold.'

'Nor I,' said Louis.  'In fact, father, I have always thought it most
wonderfully kind forbearance that you never reproached me more for my
doings on that occasion.  I believe we were all too happy,' he
presently added, with a sigh, which was re-echoed by his father, at the
same time trying to say something about youthfulness, to which Louis,
who had been leaning thoughtfully on the mantelpiece, presently
answered--'How much wiser old people are than young!  An original
axiom, is not it? but it is the last which one learns!'

'You would hardly act in the same way now?' said his father.

'I wonder when it ever answers to interfere with the natural course of
events!' responded Louis, musingly.  'There were two things that Mr.
Calcott told me once upon a time.'  Those two things he left unuttered.
They were--that the gentleman would be wasted on the school, and that
the lady was not made for a poor man's wife.  No wonder they made him
sigh, but he concluded by exclaiming aloud--

'Well, I hope they will both go to Estminster, and come back with fresh
life!'

The Estminster invitation was already on the road; but, unfortunately,
Lady Conway had been unable to secure lodgings large enough to receive
the children.  She was urgent, however, that Isabel should come as soon
as possible, since Louisa had been more unwell than usual, and was
pining for her eldest sister; and she hoped that James would join her
there as soon as the holidays should set him free.

James was hurt to find Isabel so much delighted to go, but resolved
that she should not be deprived of the pleasure, and petulantly denied
the offers, which became even entreaties, that she might wait till he
could accompany her.  He arranged, therefore, that he should follow her
in a fortnight's time, the Miss Faithfulls undertaking the charge of
their small namesakes; and Lady Conway wrote to fix a day when Delaford
should come to take care of Isabel on her journey.

James and Isabel laughed at this measure.  Mrs. James Frost was
certainly not in circumstances to carry such a hero of the buttery in
her suite; and Lady Conway herself had more sense than to have proposed
it, but for Delaford's own representations.  In fact, there was a
pretty face at Dynevor Terrace, and he had been piqued enough by the
return of his letters to be resolved on re-establishing his influence.
Therefore did he demonstrate to my Lady that the only appropriate
trains would bring him to Northwold at seven in the evening, and take
him and Mrs. James Frost Dynevor away at eleven next morning; and
therefore did Isabel look up in a sudden fit of recollection, as the
breakfast was being removed, and say, 'Charlotte, Delaford is coming on
Tuesday to fetch me to Estminster, and will sleep here that night.'

Isabel little guessed that in the days when she viewed the fantastic
Viscount as her greatest enemy, the announcement of his approach would
have been far less appalling to her.

'The wretch! the traitor! the vile deceiver!' thought Charlotte, not
chary of her epithets, and almost ready to wreak her vengeance on the
silver spoons.  'He has gone and broken poor Marianne's heart, and now
he wants to treat me the same, and make me faithless to poor Tom, that
is up in the mountain-tops and trusts to me!  O me, what shall I do?
Mrs. Beckett is gone, and there's no one to give me an advice! If I
speak to him or scorn him, he'll take his advantage all alike--and his
words are so fine and so soft, that do what I will to hate him when I'm
away, he is sure to wind round me when he's there; and I can't get
away, and I'm a poor, lonely, fatherless and motherless orphan, and a
vain girl, that has listened already to his treacherous suit more than
poor Tom would think for.'

Charlotte worked on in much grief and perplexity for some minutes,
revolving the vanity that had led to her follies, and humbling herself
in her own eyes.  Suddenly, a flash of thought crossed her, and woke a
smile upon her face, almost a look of mischief.  She tied on a clean
apron, and running upstairs, opened the drawing-room door, and said,
'If you please, ma'am, might I ask Miss Faithfull's Martha to tea on
Tuesday night?'

'Oh yes, if you like,' said Isabel, never raising her eyes from the
rebuilding of the ruined chapel in the valley.

Away skipped Charlotte, and in two minutes was at the back door of the
House Beautiful.  Mrs. Martha had been grimly kind to her ever since
she had been afflicted with the cook for a fellow-servant, and received
her only with a reproof for coming gadding out, when she ought to be
hard at work; but when she heard the invitation, she became
wrathful--she had rather go ten miles out of her way than even look at
'that there Ford.'

But Charlotte explained her purpose, and implored, and put her in mind
that Mrs. Beckett was gone, and she had no protector; and Martha
relented, told her that if she had minded her she would never have been
in the scrape at all, but agreed, not without satisfaction, to afford
Mr. Delaford the society of his old acquaintance.

And so when Mr. Delaford, with his whiskers freshly curled and his
boots in a state of fascinating polish, walked up Dynevor Terrace, the
door was opened by Ellen, and the red-faced cook and the upright Mrs.
Martha sat on either side the fire.  Daintily did he greet them, and
stand warming himself before the fire, adapting his conversation to
them for the next ten minutes, before he ventured to ask whether Miss
Arnold were still an inmate.  'Taking out dinner--taking in tea,'
gruffly replied Martha.

Mr. Delaford waited, but Ellen only ran in for one moment to fetch the
kettle, and Martha discoursed as usual on the gold mines in Peru.
By-and-by, when the parlour tea could by no possibility be supposed to
be farther prolonged, there swept into the kitchen the stately nurse.
Charlotte had run up to the nursery, and begged as a favour that she
might be left to watch the children, while Mrs. Nurse entertained Mr.
Delaford below-stairs; and in pity to so grand a gentleman, constrained
to mix with such 'low servants,' the nurse had yielded, and Charlotte
sat safe and sound by the nursery fire, smiling at his discomfiture,
and reading over Tom's letters with an easier conscience than for many
a day.

Mr. Delaford was too much of a gentleman to be uncivil to the three
dames by the kitchen fire, but he watched every step and every creaking
door.  He even went the length of coming up to family prayers, in hopes
of there meeting Charlotte; but she only joined the procession at the
parlour door, and had flown upstairs, like a little bird, before he was
out again.

The gentleman was affronted, and resolved to make her feel it.  They
could not but meet at the kitchen breakfast, and he barely acknowledged
her.  This was the most trying stroke of all, for it set her, in the
eyes of the cook and nurse, on a level with the inferior servants, to
whom he would not have deigned a look, and it was not easy to resist
showing that she was on more familiar terms with him than all.  But the
instinct of self-protection and the wisdom of sincerity came to her
aid.  She abstained from raising her eyes to his face, from one
conscious word or glance; she locked herself into her pantry when she
took down the breakfast-things, and avoided every encounter, even when
she had begun to feel that it would have been more flattering had he
made more efforts.  At last, dire necessity obliged her to accept his
aid in carrying her mistress's box down the stairs.  He walked
backwards, she forwards.  She would not meet his eye, and he was too
well-bred for one word on the stairs; but in the garden he exclaimed,
'Miss Arnold, what have I done?'

'I never ought to have listened to you,' said Charlotte.  'It was not
right by neither of us; so please say no more.'

'If you could understand--'

'I don't want to understand nothing.'

Charlotte drove him on with the box till they were close to the fly,
and then, leaving him and the man to adjust the packing, flew back to
announce that all was ready for her mistress.  The last kisses were
given to the children, and a message left with Charlotte for her
master, who was in school; then she stood with Miss Catharine in her
arms, and saw the fly drive off.

'Well,' said Mrs. Cook, 'that butler thinks himself a great beau, no
doubt!  I asked him whether he thought you pretty, Charlotte, and he
said you hadn't no air nor no complexion.  It's as I tells you--nobody
will never take no notice of you while you goes about so dowdy.'

Charlotte did not know whether she was glad that the cook could not
tease her about Delaford, or mortified to be supposed beneath his
notice.  No air, forsooth!  She who had often heard it said that she
looked like any lady!

'But oh,' said Charlotte to herself, as she spent her daily five
minutes at noonday in quiet thought, 'am I not a poor silly thing not
to be thankful that care has been round me this time, and that I have
not been let to do nothing giddy nor false by Tom, whatever I may have
thought!'

Meanwhile, Isabel had found it much harder to part with her babies for
three weeks than it had seemed at the first proposal; and there were
tears in her eyes as she gazed at the peaked, red-tiled roof of the old
grammar-school, and reckoned the days and hours before her husband
would join her.

Other associations revived when she found herself at Estminster, and
was received with shrieks of joy, caresses, and exclamations too fond
and foolish to bear repetition; and then the pale Louisa rested against
her, stroking her hand, and Lady Conway fondled her, and Virginia,
looking formed and handsome, retreated a little way to study her and
declare that she was the same Isabel, neither altered nor grown
older--it was all a dream that she had ever left them.

She almost felt it so herself, so entirely did she fit into the old
habits, the little quiet dinner (only it seemed unusually good), the
subsequent closing round the fire with the addition of Miss King and
Louisa, the easy desultory chat, the books with Mudie's stamp lying
about, the music which must be practised.  It was very like being Miss
Conway still; and when she awoke the next morning to find it late, and
to the impulse of hurrying up, or _not_ hurrying, expecting to find
James making breakfast himself, and cross at being made late for
school, she turned on her pillow, half doubting whether she had dreamt
these two years in one long night, and remembering that captive
mermaid, who had but to resume her maritime headgear and return to her
native element, to forget the very existence of her fisherman husband
and children.  No! Isabel was not come to that! but she was almost
ashamed to enjoy her extra hour's repose; and then the leisurely
breakfast--nay, even the hot rolls and clear coffee were appreciated;
and she sighed as she called up the image of the breakfast over an hour
ago, the grim kettle, the bad butter, the worse fire, and James, cold
and hurried, with Kitty on his knee gnawing a lump of crust.  It was a
contrast to Lady Conway reading her letters and discussing engagements
with comfortable complacency, and Virginia making suggestions, and
Louisa's grave bright eyes consulting hers, and Miss King quietly
putting in a remark, and the anticipation of Walter's return, as if he
were the only person wanting.

The sisters always resented their mother's habit of talking of 'poor
Isabel,' regarding her as the happiest of women; and they were
confirmed in their belief by seeing her looking exceedingly well and
handsome, with perhaps a little more dignity and a sweeter smile.
Virginia loved to snatch private interviews with Miss King, to express
her confidence in dear Isabel's felicity, in the infallibility and
other perfections of James, and in the surpassing cleverness of little
Catharine; and Louisa was always sighing to behold the twins.  But, to
the delight of the school-room, the chapel in the valley was produced
in a complete form, and a very pretty romance it was; but the hermit
and the brilliant denouement were quite a shock to the young ladies,
just when their tears were prepared, and Virginia was almost angry.

'Oh, my dear, there is trouble enough in the world!' said Isabel;
'Hubert and Adeline have been my companions so long, that at least I
must leave them happy.'

'Indeed,' said Miss King, 'I am almost surprised that you have been
able to finish them at all, with so much re-writing.'

To her surprise, Isabel blushed, and her answer partook of
self-defence.  'James is so busy, and the children so young, that this
has been my great resource.  When my little girls are older, I must
begin educating in earnest.  I want to talk over Madame Neckar's book
with you, Miss King.'

'All systems begin alike from infant obedience, I believe,' said the
governess.

'Yes,' said Isabel, 'little Catharine is obedience itself with us. It
is curious to see how well she knows the difference between us and the
nurses.  There are great tempests upstairs, and her papa takes them
very much to heart.  He always has her downstairs when he is at home;
and he has accustomed her to so much attention, that there is no doing
anything while she is by, or I would have her more with me.'

The self-justifying tone rather puzzled Miss King.  She noted likewise
that Isabel was backward in entering into details of her home life, and
that she never said a word to encourage her sister's wishes to visit
her at Northwold.  Knowing Isabel as the governess did, she was sure
that she would not merely talk of things on the surface, if her spirit
were fully content.  Only once did she go any deeper, and that was as
she took up a little book of religious poetry of which she had been
very fond.  'Ah!' she said, 'I don't feel these things as I used.  I
think practical life dulls one.'

'I should have said, practical life made things real,' said Miss King.

Isabel had not found out that having duties and not doing them was less
practical than having no particular task.

Another cloud of mystery was over the relations with Mr. Dynevor and
Clara.  Isabel baffled all Lady Conway's inquiries and advice by
entering into no particulars, but adhering to her own version of the
matter, 'that Mr. Dynevor had required of James conditions incompatible
with his duty,' and not deigning to explain either duty or conditions,
as beyond the capacity of her hearer.

Of Clara no account was vouchsafed, except that Isabel believed she was
abroad; 'they had been very much disappointed in her,' and Isabel was
afraid that she was a good deal altered; and the subject seemed so
painful, that Virginia did not venture to push her inquiries any
farther.

The great subject of interest in the Conway family was that Virginia
and Louisa were going to lose their maid; and the suggestion somehow
arose that Charlotte should be her successor.  It was agreed on all
hands that nature had formed her for a lady's-maid, and a few lessons
from a hairdresser would make her perfection; and she would be
invaluable in reading to Louisa when restless and unable to sleep.

Isabel gave herself credit for the most notable arrangement she had
ever made--promoting the little maiden, whom she really liked, and
relieving herself from the constant annoyance about sparing Ellen from
the nursery by obtaining a stronger housemaid.  She had only a few
scruples, or rather she knew that James would have some, as to exposing
Charlotte to Delaford's attentions after what she had heard in Clara's
letter; but the least hint on this score led to a panegyric upon
Delaford's perfections--his steadiness, his prudence, his cleverness on
journeys, his usefulness in taking care of Walter. 'I know that Walter
is safe when he is with Delaford,' said Lady Conway.  And even the
sensible Miss King observed, smiling, 'that there always _would_ be
nonsense between men and maidservants; and there were many more
dangerous places than the present.  She would watch over Charlotte, and
Fanshawe was quite to be trusted.'

The Conway family knew rather less about their own servants' hall than
they did of feudal establishments five hundred years ago.

Still, Isabel, in her superior prudence, resolved to consult Fanshawe
on the true state of affairs.  Fanshawe was a comfortable portly
personage, chiefly absorbed in her caps and her good cheer, and faring
smoothly through life, on the principle of always saying what was
expected of her, and never seeing anything to anybody's disadvantage.

She assured Mrs. James Frost that she did not think Delaford to blame;
many girls would be foolish about a man with personal advantages, but
she could not see it was his fault.  Poor Marianne had been always
weakly, and, 'After all, ma'am, some young women will put constructions
upon anything,' said Mrs. Fanshawe, deciding that at least she should
make no mischief by sacrificing poor Marianne.

Isabel did not like to come to more individual inquiries, lest she
should prepare discomfort for Charlotte; but she easily satisfied
herself that all was as right as convenient, and having occasion to
write some orders to Charlotte, communicated the proposal, saying that
all should be settled on her return.

There was wild work in the brain of the poor little Lady of Eschalott.
No more stairs to scrub!  No more mats to shake!  No more hurrying
after lost time, and an uneasy remembrance of undone duties! No more
hardening of fingers, no more short-sleeved lilac, no more vulgarities
from the cook!  Ladylike dress, high wages, work among flowers and
gauzes, reading to Miss Louisa, housekeeper's-room society, rank as
'Arnold' or 'Miss Arnold!'  How much more suitable to the betrothed of
the Superintendent at San Benito!  To be sure, she was aware that a
serpent lurked among the flowers; but she had shown him a bit of her
mind once, and she found she could take care of herself, and keep him
at a distance.

With her eyes shut, she already beheld Jane Beckett meeting her, when
seated at the back of a carriage, with a veil and a parasol, addressing
her as a grand lady, and kissing and praising her when she found her
little Charlotte after all.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE TRUSTEES' MEETING.

  Know you not, master, to some kind of men
  Their graces serve them but as enemies?
                           As You Like It.


'My Lord,' said Frampton, entering the library late one evening, in
visible perturbation, and addressing himself to Fitzjocelyn, 'there is
a person wishing to see you.'

'What person at this time of night?' said Louis.

'In fact, my Lord,' said the butler, hesitating, 'it is the young
person at Mr. Frost's.'

'Something must be the matter!' cried Louis, starting up.

'She would explain nothing to me, she insisted on seeing your lordship;
and--in fact--she was in such a state of agitation that I left her with
Mrs. Bowles.'

Louis lost no time in hurrying into the hall.  Charlotte must have
followed Frampton without his knowledge, for she was already there;
and, springing with clasped hands towards Fitzjocelyn, she cried,
sobbing, 'My Lord, my Lord, come to master!'

'Is he ill? or the children?'

'No, no! but he'll be off, he'll be off like poor Tom!' exclaimed
Charlotte, between her gasps; 'but I've locked it!' and she waved a
door-key, and seemed about to laugh hysterically.

'Sit down, Charlotte,' said Louis, authoritatively, bringing a chair.
'If you do not explain yourself reasonably at once, I shall call Mrs.
Bowles, and desire her to put you to bed.'

She made an imploring gesture, sank trembling into the chair, and,
after a few incoherent efforts, managed to speak--'If you would but
come to master, my Lord--I know it is something bad.'

Louis thought it wisest to despatch Frampton at once to order the
carriage to be brought out immediately; and this so far pacified
Charlotte, that she could speak comprehensibly on the cause of her
alarm.  'He is in such a way!' she began.  'He went out to the
school-examination, I believe, in his cap and gown, this morning; he
was gone all day, but just at dusk I heard him slam-to the front door,
fit to shake the house down, like he does when he is put out. I'd a
thought nothing of that; but by-and-by I heard him stamping up and down
the study, like one in a frenzy, and I found his cap and gown lying all
of a heap in a corner of the hall.  Then, Mr. Calcott came to call; and
when I went into the study, master had his head down on the table, and
wouldn't see no one; he fairly stamped to me to be gone, and bring him
no more messages.  Mr. Calcott, he looked so sorry and concerned, and
sent in again.  I was to say that he hoped some arrangement might be
made, if Mr. Frost would only see him; but master had locked the door,
and hallooed out that I was to say he was obliged, but couldn't see
nobody.  So Mr. Calcott was forced to go; and there was poor master.
Not one morsel of dinner has he had.  I knocked, but he would not open,
only said he did not want for nothing.  No, not even when 'twas time
for Miss Catharine to come down.   She thumped at the door, and called
'Papa' so pretty; but he never heeded, except to call out, 'Take her
away!'  Charlotte was crying so much that she could hardly proceed.
'Then I knew it must be something very melancholy indeed.  But
by-and-by he opens the door with a great jerk, and runs right up to the
lumber-room.  I saw his face, and 'twas like a corpse, my Lord; and he
brings down his portmanteau into his dressing-room, and I hears him
pulling out all his drawers.  'He'll be gone!' I thinks, 'he'll be off
to America, too!  And my poor mistress!'  So I went up quietly, and in
secret, unbeknown to them all, and got my bonnet; and I've run every
step of the way--for you are the only one, my Lord, as can soothe his
wounded spirit; and I've locked both the doors, and here's the key, so
he can't be gone till you come.'

'Locked the doors!' cried Louis.  'What have you done?  Suppose your
mistress or Miss Clara were ill?'

'Oh, no--no, it is not that,' said Charlotte; 'or why should he flee
from the face of his children?  Why, I took Miss Salome up to the top
of the stairs, when she was screaming and crying with all her might,
and you would not have thought he was within a mile of her.  No, my
Lord, no one can't do nothing but you.'

'I'll come at once,' said Louis.  'You did quite right to fetch me; but
it was a frightful thing to lock the door.'

Sending Charlotte to the housekeeper, he went to communicate her
strange intelligence to his father, who shared his dismay so much as
almost to wish to come with him to Northwold; but Louis felt he could
deal better alone with James.  His fears took the direction of the
Italian travellers, knowing that any misfortune to them must recoil on
James with double agony after such a parting.

In very brief space the carriage was at Northwold, and desiring that it
should wait at the corner of the Terrace, Louis followed Charlotte, who
had jumped down from the box, and hastened forward to unlock the door;
and he was in time to hear the angry, though suppressed, greeting that
received her.  'Pretty doings, ma'am!  So I have caught you out at
last, though you did think to lock me in!  He shan't come in!  I wonder
at your impudence!  The very front door!'

'Oh, cook, don't!'  The poor breathless voice managed at last to be
heard.  'This is Lord Fitzjocelyn.'

Cook had vanished out of sight or hearing before Louis's foot was
within the threshold.  The study-door was open, the fire expiring, the
books and papers pushed back; and James's fierce, restless tread was
heard pacing vehemently about his own room.  Louis ran hastily up, and
entered at once.  His cousin stood staring with wild eyes, his hair was
tossed and tangled, his face lividly pale, and the table was strewn
with fragments of letters, begun and torn up again; his clothes lay
tumbled in disorder on the floor, where his portmanteau lay open and
partly packed.  All Louis's worst alarm seemed fulfilled at once.
'What has happened?' he cried, catching hold of both James's hands, as
if to help him to speak.  'Who is ill?--not Clara?'

'No--no one is ill,' said James, withdrawing his hands, and kneeling
down by his box, with an air of feigned indifference; 'I am only going
to London.'

'To London?'

'Aye, to see what is to be done,--ship--chaplaincy, curacy, literature,
selling sermons at five shillings each,--what not. I am no longer
master of Northwold school!'  He strove to speak carelessly, but
bending over his packing, thrust down the clothes with desperate blows.

Louis sat down, too much dismayed to utter a word.

'One morning's work in the conclave,' said James, with the same assumed
ease.  'Here's their polite reprimand, which they expected me to put up
with,--censuring all my labour, forbidding Sunday-classes, accusing me
of partiality and cruelty, with a lot of nonsense about corporal
punishment and dignity.  I made answer, that if I were master at all, I
must be at liberty to follow my own views, otherwise I would resign;
and, would you believe it, they snapped at the offer--they thought it
highly desirable!  There's an end of it.'

'Impossible!' cried Louis, casting his eye over the reprimand, and
finding that the expressions scarcely warranted James's abstract of
them.  'You must have mistaken!'

'Do you doubt _that_?' and James threw to him a sheet where, in
Richardson's clerkly handwriting, the trustees of King Edward's
Northwold Grammar School formally accepted the resignation of the
Reverend James Roland Frost Dynevor.

'They cannot be so hasty!  Did not Mr. Calcott call to gee you?'

'An old humbug!'

'I'll go and see him this instant.  Something may be done.'

'No,' said James, holding him down by the shoulder, 'I will not be
degraded by vain solicitations.'

'This must be that wretched Ramsbotham!' exclaimed Louis.  'Oh, Jem! I
little thought he had so much power to injure you.'

'It is as well you did not,' said James.  'It would have made no
difference, except in the pain it would have cost you; and the only
gratification in this business is, that I suffer because neither you
nor I would deny our principles.  I thank you, Fitzjocelyn!' and he
straightened himself in the satisfaction of persecuted rectitude.

'You have very little to thank me for,' said Louis, wringing his hand,
and turning aside, as if unable yet to face the full extent of the evil.

'Never fear for us,' continued James, boldly; 'we shall struggle on.
Mens conscia,--you see I can't forget to be a schoolmaster.'

'But what are you about?  Where are you going?'

'To London.  You spoke to a publisher about my lectures on history;
they will serve for introduction.  He may make me his hack--a willing
one, while I advertise--apply for anything.  I must be gone!'

'You do not look fit for a night journey.  You would be too early at
Estminster to see Isabel.'

'Don't name her!' cried James, starting round as if the word were a
dart.  'Thank Heaven that she is away!  I must write to her.  Maybe,
Lady Conway will keep her till I am settled--till I have found some
lodging in London where no one will know us.'

'And where you may run up a comfortable doctor's bill.'

With a gesture--half passion, half despair--James reiterated, 'There's
no staying here.  I must be gone.  I must be among strangers.'

'Your mens conscia would better prove that it has no cause for shame by
staying here, instead of rushing out of sight into the human
wilderness, and sacrificing those poor little--'

James struck his foot on the floor, as though to intercept the word;
but Louis continued, apparently unmoved by his anger--'Those poor
little children.  If misfortune and injury be no disgrace to the
injured, I call it cowardly pride to fly off by night to hide oneself,
instead of living in your own house, like an honest man.'

'Live!--pray what am I to live on?' cried James, laughing hoarsely.

'You will not find out by whirling to London in your present state.'

In fact, Louis's most immediate care was to detain him for that one
night.  There was a look of coming illness about him, and his
desperate, maddened state of mind might obscure his judgment, and urge
him into some precipitate measure, such as he might afterwards rue
bitterly for the sake of the wife and children, the bare thought of
whom seemed at present to sting him so intolerably.  Moreover, Louis
had a vague hope that so harsh a proceeding would be abandoned by the
trustees; his father would remonstrate, and James might be able to
think and to apologize.  He was hardly a rational being to-night, and
probably would have driven away any other companion; but long habit,
and external coolness, enabled Louis to stand his ground, and to
protract matters till the clock, striking eleven, relieved him, as much
as it exasperated James, by proving it so late that the last train
would have already past.

He persisted in declaring that he should go by the first in the
morning, and Louis persuaded him to go to bed, after Charlotte had
brought them some tea, which, he said, choked him.  Deciding on
sleeping at No. 5, Louis sent home the carriage, with a note to his
father; and Charlotte pressed her hands together in a transport of
gratitude when she found that he was not going to abandon her master.
She did her best to make the forlorn house comfortable; but it was but
cold comfort, with all the fires gone out, and he was too sad and
anxious to heed it.

She was at his door early the next morning, with a summons more
alarming than surprising.  She was sure that master was very ill.

There was James lying across his bed, half-dressed, turned away from
the dim morning light, and more frightfully pale than ever.  He started
angrily at Louis's entrance, and sprang up, but fell back, insisting
with all his might that nothing ailed him but a common headache, which
needed only to be left quiet for an hour or two.  He said it venomously.

'A very uncommon headache,' thought Louis.  'My belief is, that it is
little short of brain fever!  If I could only feel his pulse!  But it
would be very like taking a mad dog's hand.  There's nothing for it but
to fetch old Walby.  He may have some experience of refractory
patients.'

'Go home, Louis,' reiterated James, savagely, on opening his eyes and
finding him not gone.  'I tell you I want nobody.  I shall be in London
before night.'

And starting up, he tried to draw the curtain at his feet, to shut out
the tardy dawn; but too giddy to persevere, he sank back after one
noisy pull.

Louis drew it completely, shaded the window, and would have settled the
pillows, but was not allowed; and obtaining an impatient grunt by way
of dismissal, he ran down stairs, caught up hat and stick, and set off
to summon Mr. Walby from his comfortable family breakfast-table.  The
good old doctor was more concerned than amazed.  He could hardly
surmount the shock to his trustee conscience, on hearing of the
consequence of yesterday's proceedings.

'I was much grieved at the time,' he said, as they walked to the
Terrace together.  'You will believe me that I was no willing party, my
Lord.'

'I could never believe that you would do anything hard towards any one,
Mr. Walby,' said Louis, kindly; and a few more like assurances led the
old man to volunteer the history of the case in confidence.

Ramsbotham had brought before the meeting of the trustees a serious
mass of charges, on which he founded a motion that Mr. Frost should be
requested to resign.  Every one rejected such a measure, and the
complaints were sifted.  Some were palpably false, others exaggerated,
others related to matters of principle; but deducting these, it still
was proved that the Sunday attendance and evening lectures were too
visibly the test of his favour, and that the boys were sometimes
treated with undue severity, savouring of violent temper.  'I must
confess, my Lord,' said Mr. Walby, sinking his voice, 'I am afraid Mr.
Frost is too prompt with his hand.  A man does not know how hard he
hits, when he knocks a boy over the ears with a book.  Mrs. Barker's
little boy really had a gathering under the ear in consequence;--I saw
it myself.'

Louis was confounded; he had nothing to say to this; he knew the force
that irritation gave to James's hand too well to refuse his credence,
and he could only feel shame and dismay, as if himself guilty by his
misjudged patronage.

Mr. Walby proceeded to say that, under the circumstances, the trustees
had decided on remonstrating by letter, after the examination; and it
was easy to perceive that the reprimand, which might have been wise and
moderate from the Squire, had gained a colour from every one concerned,
so as to censure what was right and aggravate what was wrong.  Mr.
Frost's reply had been utterly unexpected; Ramsbotham and the
bookseller had caught at the resignation, and so did the butcher, who
hated the schoolmaster for having instilled inconveniently high
principles into his son. Richardson abstained from voting; Mr. Calcott
fought hard for Mr. Frost, but the grocer was ill, and only poor old
Mr. Walby supported him, and even they felt that their letter had not
deserved such treatment.  Alas! had not Fitzjocelyn himself taught
Northwold that the Squire was not a dictator?  Even then, Mr. Calcott,
still hoping that an apology might retrieve the day, had set forth to
argue the matter with James Frost, whom he could not suppose serious in
his intentions, but thought he meant to threaten the trustees into
acquiescence.  The doors had been closed against him, and Mr. Walby
feared that now the step was known, it was too late to retract it. 'The
ladies would never allow it,' he declared; 'there was no saying how
virulent they were against Mr. Frost; and as to consideration for his
family, that rather inflamed their dislike.  They had rich relations
enough!  It would be only too good for so fine a lady to be brought
down.'  Every one had some story of her pride, neglect, or bad
housewifery.  'And I can tell you,' said Mr. Walby, 'that I am not in
their good books for declaring that I never saw anything from her but
very pretty, affable manners.'

With these words they reached the house; and with sighs and murmurs of
'Ah! poor young man!'  Mr. Walby followed Louis to the landing-place,
where they both paused, looking at each other in doubt how to effect an
entrance, Louis suddenly remembering that no presence would be more
intolerable to the patient than that of a trustee.  However, there was
nothing for it but to walk in, and announce, as a matter of course,
that he had thought it right to call in Mr. Walby.

The extremity of displeasure brought James to his feet, and out into
the passage, saying, with grave formality, that he was much obliged,
and glad to see Mr. Walby as a friend, but Lord Fitzjocelyn was
mistaken in thinking him in need of his advice.  Many thanks, he would
trouble him no further; and affecting a laugh, he said that Fitzjocelyn
seemed never to have heard of a bad headache.

'Acting does not mend matters, Jem,' said Louis.  'You had much better
confess how really ill you are.'

Excessive giddiness made James stagger against his cousin, and Louis,
throwing his arms round him, looked in great alarm to the doctor for
help, but was answered by something very like a smile.  'Aye, aye, sir,
there's nothing for it but to go to bed.  If his lordship there had
seen as many cases of jaundice as I have, he would not look so
frightened.  Very wholesome disorder!  Yes, lie down, and I'll send you
a thing or two to take.'

So saying, Mr. Walby helped Louis to lay their unwilling invalid on the
bed without much resistance or reply, and presently departed, so
infinitely relieved that he could not help indulging in a little
chuckle at the young Viscount's mistake.  As soon as he was gone, James
revived enough to protest that it was all nonsense, doctors must needs
give a name to everything; if they would only let him alone, he should
be himself and off to London in two hours; and that it was Fitzjocelyn
himself who was looking excessively ill, and as yellow as a guinea.  He
would not hear of undressing and going absolutely to bed, and fairly
scolded every one out of sight.  Good Miss Mercy, who had trotted in at
the tidings of illness, stood at the nursery-door, telegraphing signs
of commiseration in answer to Louis's looks of perplexity.

'At least,' she said, 'you had better come to breakfast with us, and
hear what my sister says--Salome always knows what is best.'

He soon found himself in the snug parlour, where the small round
breakfast-table, drawn close to Miss Faithfull's fireside chair, had a
sort of doll's-house air of cheerful comfort, with the tiny plates,
tea-cups, and the miniature loaf, and the complicated spider-legs,
among which it was not easy to dispose of his own length of limb.

The meal passed in anxious consultation.  There might be no danger, but
the disorder was severe and increasing.  James's health had long been
suffering from harass of mind, want of exercise, and unwholesome diet;
and the blow of the previous day had brought things to a crisis.  There
he lay, perfectly unmanageable, permitting neither aid nor consolation,
unable to endure the sight of any one, and too much stupefied by
illness to perceive the impracticability of his wild scheme of seeking
employment in London.

Miss Faithfull pronounced that either Mercy or Lord Fitzjocelyn must go
and fetch Mrs. James Frost home.

'I was only thinking how long we could keep her away,' said Louis.
'Pray don't be shocked, dear Miss Mercy, but I thought I could nurse
poor Jem much better alone than with another dead weight on our hands.'

'They would neither of them thank you,' said Miss Faithfull, laughing.
'Depend upon it, she will know best how to deal with him.'

'Well, you see more of their household than I do, but I have never
dared to think of her!  Do you remember the words, 'if thou hast run
with the footmen and they have wearied thee--''

'There are some people who can run with the horsemen better than with
the footmen,' said Miss Salome.  'You know we are very fond of young
Mrs. Frost.  We cannot forget her sweetness when she lived in this
house, and she has always been most kind and friendly.  I do believe
that to display the most admirable qualities, she only needs to be
roused.'

'To live in the house with Jem, and Jem's three babies, and yet want
rousing!'

'I have thought,' said Salome, diffidently, 'that he was only too
gentle with her.'

'Do you know how very severe you are growing, Miss Faithfull?' said
Louis, looking her in the face, in the gravity of amusement.

'I mean,' said Miss Faithfull, blushing, 'though of course I do not
know, that I have fancied it might be better for both if he could have
gone to the root of the matter, and set fairly before her the prime
duties requisite in the mistress of such a family.  He may have done
so.'

'I think not,' said Louis; 'it would be awkward when a woman fancied
she embraced poverty voluntarily for his sake.  Poverty!  It was riches
compared with their present condition. Isabel on 150 pounds a-year!  It
may well make poor Jem ill to think about it!  I only wonder it is not
a brain-fever!'

'Lord Fitzjocelyn regrets that brain-fever,' said Miss Faithfull.

'Probably my ideas on the subject are derived from the prevalence of
the complaint in light literature,' said Louis, smiling.  'It would be
more dignified, and suit Isabel better.  Poor Isabel!  I hope I have
done her injustice.  She behaved gloriously at the barricades, and has
a great soul after all; but I had begun to think heroines not
calculated for moderate circumstances.  May they do better in no
circumstances at all!  Heighho! how a heavy heart makes one talk
nonsense!  So I am to fetch the poor thing home, Miss Faithfull.'

This was determined on, whether with or without James's consent; Miss
Mercy undertaking that she and Martha would help Charlotte, and dispose
of the children in the House Beautiful; and she went back with Louis to
fetch them, when little Catharine was found peeping through the bars of
her prison-gate at the top of the nursery-stairs, shouting lustily for
papa.  She graciously accepted her godfather as a substitute, and was
carried by him to her kind neighbour's house, already a supplementary
home.  As to her father, Louis found him more refractory than ever.
His only greeting was, 'Why are not you gone home?'  He scorned Mr.
Walby's prescriptions, and made such confident assertions that he
should be off to London in the evening, that Fitzjocelyn almost
reverted to the brain-fever theory, and did not venture to hint his
intention to any one but Charlotte, telling her that he should now
almost think her justified in locking the doors.

Sending information to his father, he started for Estminster, very
disconsolate, and full of self-reproach for the hasty proceedings which
had borne such bitter fruits.  The man and the situation had been an
injustice to each other; a sensitive irritable person was the very last
to be fit for a position requiring unusual judgment and temper, where
his energy had preyed upon itself.  His being placed there had been the
work of Louis's own impetuous scorn of the wisdom of elder and graver
heads.  Such regrets derived additional poignancy from the
impossibility of conferring direct assistance upon James, and from the
degree of justice in the hard measure which had been dealt to him,
would make it for ever difficult to recommend him, and yet the devising
future schemes for his welfare was the refuge which Louis's mind most
willingly sought from the present perplexity of the communication in
store for poor Isabel.

As he put out his head at the Estminster station, a familiar voice
shouted, 'Hollo!  Fitzjocelyn, how jolly!  Have you got James there? I
told Isabel it would be no use; but when she did not get a letter this
morning, she would have it that he was coming, and got me to walk up
with her.'

'Where is she?' asked Louis, as he jumped out and shook hands with
Walter.

'Walking up and down the esplanade.  She would not come into the
station, so I said I would run up to satisfy her.  I don't know what
she will say to you for not being Frost.'

'Do you mean that she is anxious!'

'It is the correct thing, isn't it, when wives get away from their
husbands, and have not the fragment of a letter for twenty-four whole
hours?  But what do you mean, Fitzjocelyn?' asked the boy, suddenly
sobering.  'Is anything really the matter?'

'Yes, Walter,' said Louis; 'we must tell your sister as best we can.
James is ill, and I am come for her.'

Walter was silent for a few minutes, then drew a sigh, saying, 'Poor
Isabel, I wish it had not been!  These were the only comfortable
holidays I have had since she chose to marry.'

Isabel here came in sight, quickening her pace as she first saw that
her brother had a companion, but slackening in disappointment when she
perceived that it was not her husband; then, the next moment hurrying
on, and as she met them, exclaiming, 'Tell me at once! What is it?'

'Nothing serious,' said Louis.  'The children are all well, but I left
James very uncomfortable, though with nothing worse than a fit of
jaundice.'

The inexperienced Isabel hardly knew whether this were not as
formidable as even the cherished brain-fever, and becoming very pale,
she said, 'I am ready at once--Walter will let mamma know.'

'There will be no train for two hours,' said Louis.  'You will have
plenty of time to prepare.'

'You should have telegraphed,' said Isabel, 'I could have come by the
first train.'

Trembling, she grasped Walter's arm, and began hastening home,
impatient to be doing something.  'I knew something was wrong,' she
exclaimed; 'I ought to have gone home yesterday, when there was no
letter.'

'Indeed, there--was nothing the matter yesterday, at least, with his
health,' said Louis.  'You are alarming yourself far too much--'

'To be sure, Isabel,' chimed in Walter.  'A fellow at my tutor's had
it, and did nothing but wind silkworm's silk all the time.  We shall
have James yet to spend Christmas with us.  Everybody laughs at the
jaundice, though Fitzjocelyn does look so lugubrious that he had almost
frightened _me_.'

'Is this true?' said Isabel, looking from one to the other, as if she
had been frightened in vain.

'Quite true, Isabel,' said Walter.  'Never mind Fitzjocelyn's long
face; I wouldn't go if I were you!  Don't spoil the holidays.'

'I must go, Walter dear,' said Isabel, 'but I do not think Lord
Fitzjocelyn would play with my fears.  Either he is very ill, or
something else is wrong.'

'You have guessed it, Isabel,' said Louis.  'This illness is partly the
effect of distress of mind.'

'That horrid meeting of trustees!' cried Isabel.  'I am sure they have
been impertinent.'

'They objected to some of his doings; he answered by threatening to
resign, and I am sorry to say that the opposition set prevailed to have
his resignation accepted.'

'A very good thing too,' cried Sir Walter.  'I always thought that
school a shabby concern.   To be under a lot of butchers and bakers,
and nothing but cads among the boys!  He ought to be heartily glad to
be rid of the crew.'

Isabel's indignation was checked by a sort of melancholy amusement at
her brother's view, but Louis doubted whether she realized the weight
of her own words as she answered--'Unfortunately, Walter, it is nearly
all we have to live upon.'

'So much the better,' continued Walter.  'I'll tell you--you shall all
go to Thornton Conway, and I'll come and spend my holidays there,
instead of kicking my heels at these stupid places.  I shan't mind your
babies a bit, and Frost may call himself my tutor if he likes. I don't
care if you take me away from Eton.'

'A kind scheme, Walter,' said Isabel, 'but wanting in two important
points, mamma's consent and James's.'

'Oh, I'll take care of mamma!'

'I'm afraid I can't promise the same as to James.'

'Ah! I see.  Delaford was quite right when he said Mr. Frost was a
gentleman who never knew what was for his own advantage.'

As they arrived at the house, Isabel desired to know how soon she must
be ready, and went upstairs.  Walter detained his cousin--'I say,
Fitzjocelyn, have they really got nothing to live on?'

'No more than will keep them from absolute want.'

'I shall take them home,' said Walter, with much satisfaction. 'I shall
write to tell James that there is nothing else to be done. I cannot do
without Isabel, and I'll make my mother consent.'

Fitzjocelyn was glad to be freed from the boy on any terms, and to see
him go off to write his letter.

Walter was at least sincere and warm-hearted in his selfishness, and so
more agreeable than his mother, whom Louis found much distressed, under
the secret conviction that something might be expected of her. 'Poor
Isabel!  I wish she could come to me; but so many of them--and we
without a settled home.  If there were no children--but London houses
are so small; and, indeed, it would be no true kindness to let them
live in our style for a little while.  They must run to expenses in
dress; it would be much more economical at home, and I could send
Walter to them if he is very troublesome.'

'Thank you,' said Louis.  'I think James will be able to ride out the
storm independently.'

'I know that would be his wish.  And I think I heard that Mr. Dynevor
objected to the school.  That might be one obstacle removed.'

Lady Conway comforted herself by flourishing on into predictions that
all would now be right, and that poor dear Isabel would soon be a much
richer woman than herself; while Louis listened to the castle-building,
not thinking it worth while to make useless counter-prophecies.

The sisters were upstairs, assisting Isabel, and they all came down
together.  The girls were crying; but Isabel's dark, soft eyes, and
noble head, had an air of calm, resolute elevation, which drove all
Louis's misgivings away, and which seemed quite beyond and above the
region of Lady Conway's caresses and affectionate speeches.  Walter and
Virginia came up to the station, and parted with their sister with
fondness that was much mure refreshing, Walter reiterating that his was
the only plan.

'Now, Fitzjocelyn,' said Isabel, when they were shut into a coupe,
'tell me what you said about distress of mind.  It has haunted me
whether you used those words.'

'Could you doubt his distress at such a state of affairs?'

'I thought there could be no distress of mind where the suffering is
for the truth.'

'Ah! if he could quite feel it so!'

'What do you mean?  There has been a cabal against James from the first
to make him lay aside his principles, and I cannot regret his refusal
to submit to improper dictation, at whatever cost to myself.'

'I am afraid he better knows than you do what that cost is likely to
be.'

'Does he think I cannot bear poverty?' exclaimed Isabel.

'He had not said so--' began Louis; 'but--'

'You both think me a poor, helpless creature,' said Isabel, her eyes
kindling as they had done in the midst of danger.  'I can do better
than you think.  I may be able myself to do something towards our
maintenance.'

He could not help answering, in the tone that gave courtesy to almost
any words, 'I am afraid it does not answer for the wife to be the
bread-winner.'

'Then you doubt my writing being worth anything?' she asked, in a hurt
tone of humility.  'Tell me candidly, for it would be the greatest
kindness;' and her eye unconsciously sought the bag where lay Sir
Hubert, whom all this time her imagination was exalting, as the hero
who would free them from their distresses.

'Worth much pleasure to me, to the world at large,' said Louis;
'but--you told me to speak plainly--to your home, would any
remuneration be worth your own personal care?'

Isabel coloured, but did not speak.

Louis ventured another sentence--'It is a delicate subject, but you
must know better than I how far James would be likely to bear that
another, even you, should work for his livelihood.'

When Isabel spoke again, it was to ask further particulars; and when he
had told all, she found solace in exclaiming at the folly and injustice
of James's enemies, until the sense of fairness obliged him to say, 'I
wish the right and the wrong ever were fairly divided in this world;
and yet perhaps it is best as it is: the grain of right on either side
may save the sin from being a presumptuous one.'

'It would be hard to find the one grain of right on the part of the
Ramsbotham cabal.'

'Perhaps you would not think so, if you were a boy's mother.'

'Oh!' cried Isabel, with tears in her eyes, 'if he thought he had been
too hasty, he always made such reparation that only cowards could help
being touched.  I'm sure they deserved it, and much more.'

'No doubt,' said Louis; 'but, alas! if all had their deserts--'

'Then you really think he was too severe?'

'I think his constitutional character was hardly fit for so trying a
post, and that his family and school troubles reacted upon each other.'

'You mean Clara's conduct; and dear grandmamma--oh! if she could but
have stayed with us!  If you could have seen how haggard and grieved he
came home from Cheveleigh!  I do not think he has been quite the same
ever since.'

'And No. 5 has never been the same,' said Louis.

'Tell me,' said Isabel, suddenly, 'are we very poor indeed?'

'I fear so, Isabel.  Till James can find some employment, I fear there
is a stern struggle with poverty before you.'

'Does that mean living as the Faithfulls do?'

'Yes, I think your means will be nearly the same as theirs.'

'Fitzjocelyn,' said Isabel, after a long pause, 'I see what you have
been implying all this time, and I have been feeling it too.  I have
been absorbed in my own pursuits, and not paid attention enough to
details of management, and so I have helped to fret and vex my husband.
You all think my habits an additional evil in this trial.'

'James has never said a word of the kind,' cried Louis.

'I know he has not; but I ought to have opened my eyes to it long ago,
and I thank you for helping me.  There--will you take that manuscript,
and keep it out of my way?  It has been a great tempter to me.  It is
finished now, and it might bring in something.  But I can have only one
thought now--how to make James happier and more at ease.'

'Then, Isabel, I don't think your misfortunes will be misfortunes.'

'To suffer for right principles should give strength for anything,'
said Isabel.  'Think what many better women than I have had to endure,
when they have had to be ashamed of their husband, not proud of him!
Now, I do hope and trust that God will help us, and carry us and the
children through with it!'

Louis felt that in this frame she was truly fit to cheer and sustain
James.  How she might endure the actual struggle with penury, he dared
not imagine; at present he could only be carried along by her lofty
composure.

James still lay on his tossed, uncomfortable bed in the evening
twilight.  The long, lonely hours, when he imagined Louis to have taken
him at his word and gone home, had given him a miserable sense of
desertion, and as increasing sensations of illness took from him the
hopes of moving on that day, he became distracted at the thought of the
anxiety his silence would cause Isabel, and, after vainly attempting to
write, had been lying with the door open, watching for some approaching
step.

There was the familiar sound of a soft, gliding step on the stairs,
then a pause, and the sweet soft voice, 'My poor James, how sadly
uncomfortable you are!'

'My dear!' he cried, hastily raising himself, 'who has been frightening
you?'

'No one, Fitzjocelyn was so kind as to come for me.'

'Ah! I wished you to have been spared this unpleasant business.'

'Do you think I could bear to stay away!  Oh, James! have I been too
useless and helpless for you even to be glad to see me?'

'It was for your own sake,' he murmured, pressing her hand.  'Has
Fitzjocelyn told you?'

'Yes,' said Isabel, looking up, as she sat beside him.  'Never mind,
James.  It is better to suffer wrong than to do it.  I do not fear but
that, if we strive to do our duty, God will help us, and make it turn
out for the best for our children and ourselves.'

He grasped her hand in intense emotion.

'I know you are anxious about me,' added Isabel.  'My ways have been
too self-indulgent for you to think I can bear hardness.  I made too
many professions at first; I will make no more now, but only tell you
that I trust to do my utmost, and not shrink from my duties.  And now,
not a word more about it till you are better.'



CHAPTER XV.

SWEET USES OF ADVERSITY.

  One furnace many times the good and bad will hold;
  But what consumes the chaff will only cleanse the gold.
                                           R. C. TRENCH.


During the succeeding days, James had little will or power to consider
his affairs; and Isabel, while attending on him, had time to think over
her plans.  Happily, they had not a debt.  Mrs. Frost had so entirely
impressed her grandson's mind with her own invariable rule of paying
her way, that it had been one of his grounds for pride that he had
never owed anything to any man.

They were thus free to choose their own course, but Lord Ormersfield
urged their remaining at Northwold for the present.  He saw Mr.
Calcott, who had been exceedingly concerned at the turn affairs had
taken, and very far from wishing to depose James, though thinking that
he needed an exhortation to take heed to his ways.  It had been an
improper reprimand, improperly received; but the Earl and the Squire
agreed that nothing but morbid fancy could conjure up disgrace, such as
need prevent James Frost from remaining in his own house until he could
obtain employment, provided he and his wife had the resolution to
contract their style of living under the eye of their neighbours.

This gave neither of them a moment's uneasiness.  It was not the
direction of their pride; and even before James's aching head was
troubled with deliberation, Isabel had discussed her plan with the Miss
Faithfulls.  She would imagine herself in a colony, and be troubled
with no more scruples about the conventional tasks of a lady than if
she were in the back-woods.

They would shut up some of the rooms, take one servant of all-work, and
Isabel would be nursery-maid herself.  'We may do quite as well as the
carpenter's wife,' she said; 'she has more children and less income,
and yet always seems to me the richest person whom I know.'

James groaned, and turned his face away.  He could not forbid it, for
even Isabel's exertion must be permitted rather than the dishonour of
living beyond their means; and he consoled himself with thinking that
when the deadening inertness of his illness should leave him, he should
see some means of finding employment for himself, which would save her
from toil and exertion, and, in the meantime, with all his keen
self-reproach, it was a blessed thing to have been brought back to his
enthusiastic admiration for her, all discontents and drawbacks utterly
forgotten in her assiduous affection and gallant cheerfulness.

Lord Ormersfield had readily acceded to his son's wish to bring the
party to spend Christmas at Ormersfield, as soon as James could be
moved.  During their visit the changes were to be made, and before
setting out Isabel had to speak to the servants.  Charlotte's alacrity
and usefulness had made her doubly esteemed during her master's
illness; and when he heard how she was to be disposed of, he seemed
much vexed.  He said that she was a legacy from his grandmother, and
too innocent and pretty to be cast about among strange servants in all
the places where the Conways visited; and that he would not have
consented to the transfer, but that, under their present circumstances,
it was impossible to keep her.  If any evil came to her, it would be
another miserable effect of his own temper.

Isabel thought he exaggerated the dangers, and she spoke brightly to
Charlotte about fixing the day of her going to Estminster, so as to be
put into the ways of the place before her predecessor departed. The
tears at once came into Charlotte's eyes, and she answered, 'If you
please, ma'am, I should be very sorry to leave, unless I did not give
satisfaction.'

'That is far from being the reason, Charlotte; but we cannot keep so
good a servant--Mr. Frost has given up--'

'I have been put out of the school,' said James, from his sofa, in his
stern sense of truth.  'We must live on as little as possible, and
therefore must part with you, Charlotte, though from no fault of yours.
You must look on us as your friends, and in any difficulty apply to us;
for, as Mrs. Frost says, we look on you as a charge from my
grandmother.'

Charlotte escaped to hide her tears; and when, a few minutes after, the
Ormersfield carriage arrived, and nurses and babies were packed in, and
her master walked feebly and languidly down stairs, and her mistress
turned round to say, kindly, 'You will let me know, Charlotte?' she
just articulated, 'Thank you, ma'am, I will write.'

Mr. Frost's words had not been news to Charlotte.  His affairs had been
already pretty well understood and discussed, and the hard, rude,
grasping comments of the vulgar cook--nay, even of the genteel
nurse--had been so many wounds to the little maiden, bred up by Jane in
the simplicity of feudal reverence and affection for all that bore the
name of Frost Dynevor.

Her mistress left to the tender mercies of some servant such as these,
some one who might only care for her own ease and profit, and not once
think of who and what she had been!  The little children knocked about
by some careless girl!  Never, never!  All the doubts and scruples
about putting her own weak head and vain heart in the way of being made
faithless to Tom revived, reinforced by her strong and generous
affection.  A romantic purpose suddenly occurred to her, flushing her
cheek and brightening her eye.  In that one impulse, scrubbing, washing
dishes, short lilac sleeves were either forgotten, or acquired a
positive glory, and while the cook was issuing her invitations for a
jollification and gossip at the expense of Mr. and Mrs. Frost,
Charlotte sat in her attic, amid Jane's verbenas, which she had
cherished there ever since their expulsion from the kitchen, and wrote
and cried, and left off, to read over, and feel satisfied at, the
felicity of her phrases, and the sentiment of her project.


'Dear and Honoured Madam,--Pardon the liberty I am taking but I am sure
that you and my reverend and redoubted master would not willingly have
inflicted so much pain as yesterday on a poor young female which was
brought up from an orphan child by my dear late lamented mistress and
owes everything to her and would never realize the touching lines of
the sublime poet

          Deserted in his utmost need
          By those his former bounty fed.

As to higher wages and a situation offering superior advantages such as
might prove attractive to other minds it has none to me.  My turn is
for fidelity in obscurity and dear and honoured lady I am a poor
unprotected girl which has read in many volumes of the dangers of going
forth into the snares of a wealthy and powerful family and begs you not
to deprive her of the shelter of the peaceful roof which has been her
haven and has been the seen of the joys and sorrows of her career.
Dear lady pardon the liberty that I have taken but it would brake my
heart to leave you and master and the dear children espeshilly in the
present winter of adversity which I have hands to help in to the best
of my poor abilities.  Dear and honoured lady I have often been idle
but I will be so no more I love the dear little ladies with all my
heart and I can cook and act in any capacity and wages is no object I
will not take none nor beer neither--and the parlour tea-leaves will be
sufficient.  Dear and honoured master and mistress forgive the liberty
a poor girl has taken and lend a favourable ear to my request for if
you persist in parting with me I know I shall not survive it.

                      'Your humble and faithful Servant,
                                   'CHARLOTTE ARNOLD.'


Isabel received this letter while she was at breakfast with Lord
Ormersfield and Louis, and it was, of course, impossible to keep it to
herself.  'Talking of no wages!' said the Earl.  'Send her off at once.'

'You will despise me,' said Isabel, with tears in her eyes; 'but there
is something very touching in it, in spite of the affectation. I
believe she really means it.'

'Affectation is only matter of taste,' said Louis.  'Half the
simplicity of our day is only fashion; and Charlotte's letter, with a
few stops, and signed Chloe, would have figured handsomely in Mrs.
Radcliffe's time.'

'It does not depend on me,' said Isabel; 'James could not bear her
going before, and I am sure he will not now.'

'I think he ought not,' said Louis.  'Poor girl!  I do believe the
snares of wealthy families and fidelity in obscurity, really mean with
her the pomps and vanities versus duty and affection.'

'I am sure I would not drive her back to them,' said Isabel; 'but I am
only afraid the work will be too much for her strength.'

'The willing heart goes all the way,' said Louis; 'and maybe it will be
more wholesome than London, and sitting up.'

Isabel coloured and sighed; but added, that it would be infinite relief
on the children's account to keep some one so gentle-handed, and so
entirely to be trusted.

James's decision was immediate.  He called the letter a farrago, but
his laugh was mixed with tears at the faithful affection it displayed.
'It was mere folly,' he said, 'to think of keeping her without wages;
but, if she would accept such as could be afforded after taking a rough
village girl for her food to do the hard work, the experiment should be
made, in the hope that the present straits would only endure for a
short time.

This little event seemed to have done him much good, and put him more
at peace with the world.  He was grateful for Lord Ormersfield's
kindness and forbearance, and the enforced rest from work was
refreshing him; while Isabel had never been so cheerful and lively in
her life as now, when braced manfully for her work, full of energy, and
feeling that she must show herself happy and courageous to support his
depressed spirits.  She was making a beginning--she was practising
herself in her nursery duties, and, to her surprise, finding them quite
charming; and little Kitty so delighted with all she did for her, that
all the hitherto unsounded depths of the motherly heart were stirred
up, and she could not think why she had never found out her true
happiness.  She looked so bright and so beautiful, that even Lord
Ormersfield remarked it, pitying her for trials which he thought she
little realized; but Louis augured better, believing that it was not
ignorance but resolution which gave animation and brilliancy to her
dark eye and cheerfulness to her smile.

Fitzjocelyn took her to Dynevor Terrace in the afternoon to settle the
matter with Charlotte; and, on the way, he took the opportunity of
telling her that he had been reading Sir Hubert, and admired him very
much, discussing him and Adeline with the same vivid interest as her
own sisters showed in them as persons, not mere personages. Isabel said
they already seemed to her to belong to a world much farther back than
the last fortnight.

'There is some puzzle in the middle,' said Louis.  'I can't make out
the hero whose addresses were so inconvenient to Adeline, and who ran
away from the pirates.  He began as a crabbed old troubadour, who made
bad verses; and then he went on as a fantastic young Viscount, skipping
and talking nonsense.'

'Oh!' cried Isabel, much discomposed.  'Did I leave that piece there? I
took it to Estminster by mistake, and they told me of it.  I should
have taken it out.'

'That would have been a pity,' said Louis, 'for the Viscount is a much
more living man than the old troubadour.  When he had so many plans of
poems for the golden violet that he made none at all, I was quite taken
with him.  I began to think I was going to have a lesson.'

Isabel blushed and tried to laugh, but it was so unsuccessful that
Louis exclaimed in high glee--'There!  I do believe I was the fantastic
Viscount!  Oh! Isabel, it was too bad!  I can fairly acquit myself of
skipping ever since I had the honour of your acquaintance.'

'Or of running away from the pirates,' said Isabel.  'No, it was a
great deal too bad, and very wrong indeed.  It was when you did not run
away that I was so much ashamed, that I thought I had torn out every
atom.  I never told any one--not even Virginia!'

Louis had a very hearty laugh, and, when Isabel gaw him so excessively
amused, she ventured to laugh too at her ancient prejudice, and the
strange chance which had made the fantastic Viscount, Sir Roland's
critic.

'You must restore him,' said Louis, returning to business.  'That old
troubadour is the one inconsistency in the story, evidently not fitting
into the original plot.  I shall be delighted to sit for the portrait.'

'I don't think you could now,' said Isabel.  'I think the motley must
have been in the spectacles with which I looked at you.'

'Ah! it is a true poem,' said Louis, 'it must have been a great relief
to your feelings!  Shall I give it back to you?

'Oh!  I can't touch it now!' cried Isabel.  'You may give it to me, and
if ever I have time to think again of it, I may touch it up, but
certainly not now.'

'And when you do, pray don't omit the Viscount.  I can't lose my chance
of going down to posterity.'

He went his way, while Isabel repaired to the Terrace, and found
Charlotte awaiting her answer in much trepidation.

The low wages, instead of none at all, were a great disappointment,
doing away with all the honour and sentiment, and merely degrading her
in the eyes of her companions; but her attachment conquered this
objection, and face to face with her mistress, the affectation
departed, and left remaining such honest and sincere faithfulness and
affection, that Isabel felt as if a valuable and noble-hearted friend
had suddenly been made known to her.  It was a silly little fanciful
heart, but it was sound to the core; and when Isabel said,  'There will
be very hard work, Charlotte, but we will try to do our best for Mr.
Frost and the children, and we will help each other,' Charlotte felt as
if no task could be too hard if it were to be met with such a look and
smile.

'Is it settled?' asked Lord Fitzjocelyn, as Charlotte opened the door
for him.

'Oh, yes, thank you, my Lord--'

'But, Charlotte, one thing is decided.  Mrs. Frost can afford no more
eau de Cologne.  The first hysterics and you go!'

He passed upstairs, and found Isabel beginning to dismantle the
drawing-room--'Which you arranged for us!' she said.

A long, deep sigh was the answer, and Louis mused for some moments ere
he said--'It is hard work to say good-bye to trifles with which
departed happiness seems connected.'

'Oh, no!' cried Isabel, eagerly.  'With such a home, the happiness
cannot be departed.'

'No, not with such a home!' said Louis, with a melancholy smile; 'but I
was selfish enough to be thinking who hung that picture--'

'I don't think you were the selfish person,' said Isabel.

'Patience and work!' said Louis, rousing himself.  'Some sort of good
time _must_ come,'--and he quickly put his hand to assist in putting
the Dresden shepherd and shepherdess into retirement, observing that
they seemed the genii of the place, and he set his mind on their
restoration.

'I do not think,' said Isabel, as she afterwards narrated this scene to
her husband, 'that I ever realized his being so much attached to Mary
Ponsonby; I thought it was a convenient suitable thing in which he
followed his father's wishes, and I imagined he had quite recovered it.'

'He did not look interesting enough?  Yes! he was slow in knowing his
own mind; but his heart once given there is no recalling it, whatever
his father may wish.'

'Or my mother,' said Isabel, smiling.

'Ah!  I have never asked you what your party say of him in the London
world.'

'They say he quite provokes them by being such a diligent member, and
that people debate as to whether he will distinguish himself.  Some say
he does not care enough, and others, that he has too many crotchets.'

'Just so!  Public men are not made of that soft, scrupulous stuff,
which only hardens and toughens when principle is clear before him.
Well, as to society--'

'Virginia says he is hardly ever to be had; he is either at the House,
or he has something to do for his father; he slips out of parties, and
they never catch him unless they are in great want of a gentleman to
take them somewhere, and then no one is so useful. Mamma has been
setting innumerable little traps for him, but he marches straight
through them all, and only a little tone of irony betrays that he sees
through them.  Every one likes him, and the only complaint is, that he
is so seldom to be seen, keeping almost entirely to his father's set,
always with his father--'

'Ay! I can bear to watch his submission better than formerly.  His
attentions are in such perfect good taste that they are quite
beautiful; and his lordship has quite ceased snubbing, and begins to
have a glimmering that when Louis says something never dreamt of in his
philosophy, the defect may be in his understanding, and not in
Fitzjocelyn's.'

'I could excuse him for not always understanding Fitzjocelyn!  But
there never were two kinder people in the world; and I could not have
imagined that I should ever like Lord Ormersfield half so much.'

'He is improved.  Louis's exclusive devotion has not been lost on him.
Holdsworth has been sitting with me, and talking of the great change in
the parish.  He told me that at his first arrival here, seven years
ago, when he was very young, he found himself quite disheartened and
disgusted by the respectability of the place.  Every one was cold,
distant, correct, and self-esteeming; so perfectly contented with
themselves and the routine, that he felt all his ardour thrown  away,
and it seemed to him that he was pastor to a steam-engine--a mere item
in the proprieties of Ormersfield.  He was almost ready to exchange,
out of weariness and impatience, when Fitzjocelyn came home, and awoke
fresh life and interest by his absurdities, his wonderful
philanthropies, and extraordinary schemes. His sympathy and earnestness
were the first refreshment and encouragement; and Holdsworth declares
that no one can guess the benefit that he was to him even when he was
most ridiculous.  Since that, he says, the change has been striking,
though so gradual. Louis has all the same freshness and energy, but
without the fluctuation and impetuosity.  And his example of humility
and sincerity has worked, not only in reclaiming the wild outlying
people, but even awakening the comfortable dependents from their
self-satisfaction.  Even Frampton is far from the impenetrable person
he used to be.'

'And I suppose they have done infinite good to the wild Marksedge
people!'

'Some are better, some are worse.  I believe that people always are
worse when they reject good.  I am glad to find, too, that the
improvements answer in a pecuniary point of view.  His Lordship is
amazed at his son's sagacity, and they have never been so much at ease
in money matters.'

'Indeed!  Well, I must own that I have always been struck with the very
small scale on which things are done here.  Just the mere margin of
what is required by their station, barely an indulgence!'

'I fancy you must look into subscriptions for Fitzjocelyn's means,'
said James; 'and for the rest, they have no heart for new furniture
till he marries.'

'Well!  I wonder if Mary is worth so much heart!  It might be the best
thing for him if she would find some worthy merchant.  He is very young
still, and looks younger.  I should like him to begin the world again.'

'Ha!  Isabel, you want to cook up a romance of your own for him.'

James was recovering cheerfulness.  He thought he was bracing himself
to bear bravely with an unmerited wrong.  The injustice of his sentence
hid from him the degree of justice; and with regard to his own temper,
he knew better what he restrained than what he expressed, and
habitually gave himself credit for what he did not say or do. There was
much that was really good in his present spirit, and it was on the way
to be better; but his was not the character to be materially altered by
the first brunt of a sudden shock.  It was a step that he had brought
himself to forgive the trustees.  He did not yet see that he had any
need to be forgiven.

At the end of three weeks James and Isabel returned to their home, and
to their new way of life; and Fitzjocelyn had only time to see that
they were beginning their struggle with good courage, before the
meeting of Parliament summoned him to London.

Isabel fully justified Miss Faithfull's prediction.  She was too truly
high-minded to think any task beneath her; and with her heart in, not
out of her immediate work, she could not fail to be a happier woman.
Success gave as much pleasure in a household duty as in an
accomplishment--nay, far more when it was a victory over herself, and
an increase to the comfort of her husband.  Her strength was much
tried, and the children often fatigued and harassed her; but there was
unspeakable compensation in their fondness and dependence on her, and
even in the actual services themselves.  The only wonder began to be
how she could have ever trusted them in any hands but her own. Her
husband's affection and consideration were sources of joy ever renewed;
and though natural irritability and pressing anxieties might now and
then betray him into a hasty word, his penitence so far surpassed the
momentary pain it might have cost her, that she was obliged to do her
utmost to comfort him.  She sometimes found herself awkward or
ignorant, and sometimes flagged from over-exertion; yet throughout,
James's approval, and her own sense that she was striving to do her
best, kept her mind at rest.  Above all, the secret of her happiness
was, that the shock of adversity had awakened her from her previous
deadness and sluggishness of soul, and made her alive to a feeling of
trust and support, a frame of mind ever repenting, ever striving
onwards.  Thus she went bravely through the very class of trials that
she would once have thought merely lowering, inglorious, and devoid of
poetry.  What would have been in itself sordid, gained a sweetness from
the light of love and duty, and never in all her dreamy ease had she
been as cheerful and lighthearted as in the midst of hardship and rigid
economy.  Her equable temper and calm composure came to her aid; and
where a more nervous and excitable woman would have preyed upon
herself, and sunk under imaginary troubles, she was always ready to
soothe and sustain the anxious and sensitive nature of her husband.
After all, hers was the lightest share of the trial. To her, the call
was to act, and to undergo misfortunes occasioned by no fault of hers;
to him, the call was the one most galling to an active and eager
man--namely, to endure, and worse, to see endured, the penalty of his
own errors.  In vain did he seek for employment. A curacy, without a
fair emolument, would have been greater poverty than their present
condition, as long as the house was unlet; and, though he answered
advertisements and made applications, the only eligible situations
failed; and he knew, among so many candidates, the last to be chosen
would be a person of violent temper, unable to bear rebuke.
Disappointment came upon disappointment, and the literary work, with
which, through Louis's exertions, he had been supplied, was not likely
to bring in any speedy return.

All that he could do was to take more than his part in domestic
trifles, such as most men would have scorned, and to relieve his wife
as far as possible of the children, often at the cost of his writing.
He bore the brunt of many a trial of which she was scarcely
aware--slights from the harsh vulgar, and compassion from the kind
vulgar; and the proud self-assertion was gone which had hardened him to
all such stings.  To his lot fell the misery of weighing and balancing
what comforts could best be cut off without positive injury to his wife
and little ones.  To consider whether an empty house should be repaired
for a doubtful tenant, to make the venture, and have it rejected, was a
severe vexation, when the expense trenched on absolute necessaries, and
hardly less trying was it to be forced to accept the rent of the House
Beautiful, knowing how ill it could be spared; and yet, that without it
he must lapse into the hopeless abyss of debt.  Moreover, there was

     The terrible heart thrill
     To have no power of giving

to some of the poor who had learnt to look to the Terrace in his
grandmother's time, and meals were curtailed, that those in greater
need might not be left quite unaided.

Nor was this the only cause for which James underwent actual stern
privation.  The reign of bad cookery was over.  Charlotte, if
unmethodical, was delicately neat; and though she kept them waiting for
their dinner, always served it up with the precision of past
prosperity.  Cheap cookery and cottage economy were the study, and the
results were pronounced admirable; but the master was the dispenser;
and when a modicum of meat was to make nourishing a mountain of rice,
or an ocean of broth, it would occur to him, as he helped Isabel, that
the piece de resistance would hardly hold out for the kitchen
devourers.  He would take the recipe at its word, and dine on the
surrounding structure; and in spite of the cottage economy, he was
nearly as hungry after dinner as before it, and people began to say
that he had never recovered his looks since his illness.  These daily
petty acts of self-denial and self-restraint had begun to tame his
spirit and open his eyes in a manner that neither precept nor example
had yet effected.

Charlotte had imbibed to the full the spirit of patient exertion which
pervaded the house.  Mrs. Martha had told her she was a foolish girl,
and would be tired of the place in a fortnight; but when she did not
see her tired, she would often rush in after her two mistresses were
shut up for the evening, scold Charlotte for her want of method, and
finish all that was left undone, while Charlotte went up to the nursery
to release her mistress.  As to novels and sentiment, they had gone
after Sir Hubert; and though Charlotte was what Martha expressively
called 'fairly run off her feet,' she had never looked better nor
happier.  Her mistress treated her like a friend; she doted on the
children, and the cook was out of the kitchen; Delaford was off her
mind, and neither stairs nor even knife-cleaning could hurt her
feelings.  To be sure, her subordinate, a raw girl from Marksgedge,
devoured all that was set before her, and what was not eatable, she
broke; but as she had been sent from home with no injunctions but to
'look sharp and get stout,' so she was only fulfilling her vocation,
and on some question of beer, her mother came and raved at Charlotte,
and would have raved at Mrs. Frost, if her dignified presence had not
overawed her.  So she only took the girl away in offence, and Charlotte
was much happier with an occasional charwoman to share her labours.

There was much happiness in No. 5, notwithstanding that the spring and
summer of 1851 were very hard times; and perhaps felt the more, because
the sunny presence of Louis Fitzjocelyn did not shine there as usual.

He was detained in London all the Easter recess by his father's
illness.  Lord Ormersfield was bound hand and foot by a severe attack
of rheumatism, caught almost immediately after his going to London. It
seemed to have taken a strong hold of his constitution, and lingered on
for weeks, so that he could barely move from his armchair by the fire,
and began to give himself up as henceforth to be a crippled old man--a
view out of which Louis and Sir Miles Oakstead tried by turns to laugh
him; indeed, Sir Miles accused him of wanting to continue his monopoly
of his son--and of that doubly-devoted attention by which Louis
enlivened his convalescence.

Society had very little chance with Fitzjocelyn now, unless he was
fairly hunted out by the Earl, who was always haunted by ungrounded
alarms for his health and spirits, and never allowed him to fail in the
morning rides, which were in fact his great refreshment, as much from
the quiet and the change of scene, as from the mere air and exercise.

'Father,' said he, coming in one day a little after Easter, 'you are a
very wise man!'

'Eh!' said the Earl, looking up in wonder and expectation excited by
this prelude, hoping for the fulfilment of some political prediction.

'He is a wise man,' proceeded Louis, 'who does not put faith in
treasures, especially butlers; also, who does not bring a schoolboy to
London with nothing to do!'

'What now?' said the Earl.  'Is young Conway in a scrape?'

'I am,' said Fitzjocelyn; 'I have made a discovery, and I don't exactly
see what to do with it.  You see I have been taking the boy out riding
with me, as the only thing I could well do for him these holidays.  You
must know he is very good and patronizing; I believe he thinks he could
put me up to a few things in time.  Well, to-day, as we passed a
questionable-looking individual, Walter bowed, as if highly elated by
the honour of his acquaintance, and explained to me that he was the
celebrated--I forget who, but that's owing to my defective education.
The fact is, that this Delaford, to whom my aunt implicitly trusts, has
been introducing this unlucky boy to a practical course of Bell's
Life--things that I went through Eton, and never even heard of.'  And
he detailed some of them.

'No more than she might have expected,' said Lord Ormersfield.

'And what is to be done?'

'I should say, never interfere between people and their servants, still
less between them and their sons.  You will do no good.'

'I cannot see this go on!' cried Louis.  'The boy told me all, by way
of showing me his superiority.  I believe he wants to introduce me to
some of his distinguished friends.  They flatter him, and make him a
great man; and as to any scruples about his mother, Delaford has
disposed of her objections as delicate weaknesses.  When I began to
look grave, the poor boy set it down to my neglected training, always
spending my holidays in the country, and not knowing what fast men are
up to.'

'And so he goes to destruction--just the sort of boy that does,' said
the Earl, with due acquiescence in the course of the world.

'He need not,' exclaimed Louis.  'He is a nice boy, a very nice boy, if
only he cared for his mother, or knew right from wrong.'

Lord Ormersfield smiled at these slight exceptions.

'He is heartily fond of Isabel,' said Louis.  'If I thought Jem could
do any good, I would send for him; but he has made my aunt so much
afraid of unworldliness just now, that I only wonder she lets Miss King
stay on.'

'You had better leave it alone,' said the Earl, 'unless you can do
anything with the boy.  I am glad that I am not his guardian!'

'I wish I was,' sighed Louis.

'I suppose you will grow older some day,' said Lord Ormersfield.
'However, I see you will not be contented without going your own way to
work.'

'When the Earl saw his son the next day, Louis looked radiant at having
taken one step.  He had seen his aunt, and she had endured the
revelation with more equanimity than he could have supposed possible.
'It was a house where they took things easily,' as he said; a house
where nothing was more feared than a scene; and Lady Conway had thanked
her nephew greatly for his communication; promised what he did not ask,
that he should not be betrayed to Walter; assured him that the butler
should be dismissed, without giving any reason, before the summer
holidays; and for the few remaining days before Walter returned to
Eton, she thought she might reckon on her dear Fitzjocelyn for keeping
his eye upon him: no doubt all would be right when Delaford was once
gone.

It was the old want of a high standard--the love of ease rather than
the love of right.  The Earl laughed at her short-sighted policy, and
resented her saddling Louis with the care of her son; while Louis
philosophized upon good-nature, and its use and abuse.

Whether Mr. Delaford learnt that Sir Walter had betrayed him to Lord
Fitzjocelyn, or whether he took alarm from the young gentleman being
kept under surveillance, he scented danger; and took the initiative, by
announcing to my Lady that he intended to retire from his situation
into private life at the month's end.

Lady Conway rejoiced in being spared the fabrication by which she had
intended to dismiss her paragon without hurting his feelings, thanked
Fitzjocelyn more than ever, and was sure that dear Walter would do very
well.

But no sooner had Delaford departed than a series of discoveries began
to be made.  Lady Conway's bills reached back to dates far beyond those
of the cheques which she had put into Delaford's hands to pay them, and
a tissue of peculation began to reveal itself, so alarming and
bewildering to her, that she implored her nephew to investigate it for
her.

Louis, rather against the will of his father, who was jealous of any
additional tasks thrown on him, entered into the matter with the head
of an accountant, and the zeal of a pursuer of justice; and stirred up
a frightful mass of petty and unblushing fraud, long practised as a
mere matter of course upon the mistress, who had set the example of
easy-going, insincere self-seeking.  It involved the whole household so
completely, that there was no alternative but a clearance of every
servant, whether innocent or guilty, and a fresh beginning.  Indeed, so
great had been the debts which had accumulated, that there was no doubt
that the treacherous butler must have been gambling to a great extent
with his mistress's money; and the loss was so heavy that Lady Conway
found she should be obliged to retrench, 'just when she should have
been so glad to have helped poor dear Isabel!'  She must even give up a
season in London, but dear Virginia was far too good and sensible to
repine.

Lord Ormersfield, who had become much interested in the investigation,
and assisted much by his advice, wanted her to go to Thornton Conway;
and Louis urged the step warmly as the best hope for Walter.  But she
could not live there, she said, without far too heavy an expenditure;
and she would make visits for the present, and find some cheap place
abroad, where the girls could have masters.

And so her establishment was broken up, and Louis wrote warm
congratulations to James that poor little Charlotte had not been
tempted into the robber's den.  Isabel could not help reading the whole
history to Charlotte, who turned white at the notion of such
wickedness, and could hardly utter a word; though afterwards, as she
sat rocking little Mercy to sleep, she bestowed a great deal of good
advice on her, 'never to mind what nobody said to her, above all, when
they talked like a book, for there were a great many snakes and vipers
in the grass, and 'twas best to know good friends when one had them.'
And coupled with her moralizing, there was no small degree of humble
thankfulness for the impulse that had directed her away from the evil.
How could she ever have met Tom again if she had shared in the stigma
on the dishonest household?  Simple-hearted loyalty had been a guard
against more perils than she had even imagined!



CHAPTER XVI.

THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION.

This Valley is that from whence also the King will give to His their
Vineyards; and they that go through it shall sing, as Christian did,
for all he met with Apollyon.--Pilgrim's Progress.


The close of the session still found Lord Ormersfield so stiff, bent,
and suffering, that Louis with some difficulty persuaded him into
trying the experiment of foreign baths, and in a few weeks' time they
were both established at the Hotel du Grand Monarque at Aix-la-Chapelle.

The removing his son to a dull watering-place, when he had so many
avocations at home, had been a great vexation to the Earl; but he was
delighted at the versatile spirits which made a holiday and delight of
the whole, and found an endless fund of interest and occupation even in
his attendance on the wearisome routine of health-seeking. German
books, natural history, the associations of the place, and the
ever-fresh study of the inhabitants and the visitors, were food enough
for his lively conversation; and the Earl, inspirited by improving
health, thought he had never enjoyed his son so much.

They were already old inhabitants of their hotel, when one afternoon
they were much amused by finding a consequential courier gesticulating
vehemently to the whole establishment on the apartments he was to
secure for a superb Milord Anglais, who seemed to require half the
hotel.  Their sitting-room, overlooking the court, was especially
coveted, and the landlord even followed them upstairs with many excuses
to ask if they could exchange it for another for only two days.  Lord
Ormersfield's negative had all the exceeding politeness of offended
dignity; and Louis was much amused at the surmises, with which he
consoled himself, that this was nothing but some trumpery speculator,
most likely a successful quack doctor--no one else went about in such a
style.

In a grave, grand way, he was not a little curious, and took care to
place himself where he could command a view of the court; while Louis,
making no secret of his own amusement, worked up an excitement to
entertain his father, and stood watching at the window.

'Crack! crack! there are the postilion's whips!  Now for the Grand
Monarque himself--thundering under the archway!  Why, there are only
two of them, after all!--a lady and a little yellow old man!  Father,
you are right after all--he is the very pattern of a successful quack!
How tall the lady is!  Halloo!' and he stood transfixed for a moment,
then sprang to the door, replying to his father's astonished
question--'Clara!  Clara Dynevor!'

The party were in course of proceeding up the principal staircase--the
tall figure of a young lady in mourning moving on with so stately, so
quiet, and almost weary a manner, that Louis for a moment drew back,
doubting whether the remarkable height had not deceived him.  Her head
was turned away, and she was following the host, scarcely exerting
herself to gaze round, when she came close to the open door, where
Louis moved slightly forwards.  There was a little ecstatic shriek, and
both her hands were clasped in his, while her face was glowing with
animation and delight.

'I don't know how to believe it!' she said; 'can you be here?'

'We are curing my father.  Had you not heard of his illness?'

'I hear nothing,' said Clara, sadly, as she held out her hand to Lord
Ormersfield, who had also come to meet her; and her uncle, who followed
close behind, was full of cordial rejoicings on the encounter.

There was Jane Beckett also, whom Louis next intercepted on her way to
the bedrooms, laden with bags, and smiling most joyously to see him.
'To be sure, my young Lord!  And your papa here too, my Lord! Well!
who'll be coming abroad next, I wonder?'

'I wonder at nothing since I have met you here, Jane.'

'And I am right glad of it, my Lord.  You'll cheer up poor Miss Clara a
bit, I hope--for--Bless me! wont those Frenchmen never learn to carry
that box right side up?'

And off rushed Jane to a never-ending war of many tongues in defence of
Clara's finery; while Louis, following into the sitting-room, found Mr.
Dynevor inviting his father to the private dinner which he had ordered
for greater dignity.

The proposal was accepted for the sake of spending the evening
together, but little was thus gained; for, excepting for that one
little scream, Louis would hardly have felt himself in the company of
his Giraffe.  She had become a very fine-looking person, not quite
handsome, but not many degrees from it, and set off by profuse hair,
and every advantage of figure and dress; while her manner was
self-possessed and formal, indifferent towards ordinary people, but
warm and coaxing towards her uncle.  Blunt--almost morose to others--he
was fondling and affectionate towards her; continually looking at the
others as if to claim admiration of her, appealing to her every moment,
and even when talking himself, his keen eye still seeming to watch
every word or gesture.

The talk was all Switzerland and Italy--routes and pictures, mountains
and cathedrals--all by rote, and with no spirit nor heart in the
discussion--not a single word coming near home, nothing to show that
Dynevor Terrace had any existence.  Louis bade Clara good-night,
mortified at the absence of all token of feeling for her brother, and
more than half repenting his advice to remain with her uncle.  How
could the warm-hearted girl have become this cold, haughty being,
speaking by mechanism?  He scarcely felt inclined to see her again; but
early the next morning, as he was at breakfast with his father, there
was a knock at the door, and a voice said, 'May I come in?' and as
Louis opened, there stood the true Clara, all blushes and abruptness.
'I beg your pardon if it is wrong,' she said, 'but I could not help it.
I must hear of him--of James.'

Lord Ormersfield welcomed her in an almost fatherly manner, and made
her sit down, telling her that she had come at a good moment, since
Louis had just received a letter; but he feared that it was not a very
good account of Isabel.

'Isabel!  Is anything the matter?'

'You are behindhand.  Had you not heard of the arrival of number four?'

'I never hear anything,' said Clara, her eyes overflowing.

'Ha! not since we last met?' asked the Earl.

'They wrote once or twice; but you know they thought me wrong, and it
has all died away since I went abroad.  The last letter I had was dated
in November.'

'You know nothing since that time!'

'No; I often thought of writing to Miss Faithfull, but I could not bear
to show how it was, since they would not answer me.  So I made bold to
come to you, for I cannot ask before my uncle.  He is quite passionate
at the very name.'

'He is kind to you?' asked Lord Ormersfield, hastily.

'Most kind, except for that, the only thing I care about.  But you have
a letter!  Oh! I am famishing to hear of them!'

She did not even know of the loss of the school; and her distress was
extreme as she heard of their straits.  'It must be killing Isabel,'
she said; 'if I could but be at home to work for her!'

'Isabel has come out beyond all praise,' said Louis.  'I am afraid
there is much for them to undergo; but I do believe they are much
happier in the midst of it.'

'Everybody must be happy in Dynevor Terrace,' said Clara.

Louis shook his head and smiled, adding, 'But, Clara, I do believe, if
it were to come over again, Jem would hardly act in the same way.'

'Do you think he has forgiven me?'

'Judge for yourself.'

Her hand trembling, she caught at the well-known handwriting that to
her seemed as if it could hardly be the property of any one else; and
it was well for her that Louis had partly prepared her for the tone of
depression, and the heavy trials it revealed, when she had been
figuring to herself the writer enjoying all the felicity from which she
was banished.


                      'No. 5, Dynevor Terrace, Sept. 14th, 1851.

'Dear Fitzjocelyn,--I ought to have written yesterday; but I took the
whole duty at Ormersfield on Sunday, and was too lazy the next day to
do more than keep the children out of the way, and look after Isabel;
for, though I am told not to be uneasy, she does not regain strength as
she has done before.  Over-exertion, or bad nursing, one or both, tell
upon her; and I wish we may not have too dear a bargain in the nurse
whom she chose for cheapness' sake.  My lectures were to have paid the
expenses, but the author's need is not always the first consideration;
the money will not be forthcoming till Christmas, and meantime we
cannot launch out.  However, Ormersfield partridges are excellent fare
for Isabel, and I could return thanks for the abundant supply that
would almost seem disproportionate; but you can guess the value as
substantial comforts.  A box of uneatable grouse from Beauchastel,
carriage twelve shillings, was a cruel subject of gratitude; but those
good people mean more kindly than I deserve; and when Isabel is well
again, we shall rub on.  This little one promises more resemblance to
her than the others.  We propose to call her Frances, after my poor
mother and sister.  Do you remember the thrill of meeting their names
in Cheveleigh church?  That memorial was well done of my uncle.  If
these children were to be left as we were, you would, I know, be their
best friend; but I have a certain desire to see your own assurance to
that effect.  Don't fancy this any foreboding, but four daughters bind
a man to life, and I sometimes feel as if I hardly deserved to see good
days.  If I am spared to bring up these children, I hope to make them
understand the difference between independence and pride.

'I have been looking back on my life; I have had plenty of time during
these months of inaction, which I begin to see were fit discipline.
Till Holdsworth left his parish under my charge the other day for six
weeks, I have exercised no office of my ministry, as you know that Mr.
Purvis's tone with me cut me off from anything that could seem like
meddling with him.  I never felt more grateful to any man than I did
when Holdsworth made the proposal.  It was as if my penance were
accepted for the spirit against which you too justly warned me before
my Ordination.  Sunday was something between a very sorrowful and a
very happy day.

'I did not see the whole truth at first.  I was only aware of my
unhappy temper, which had provoked the immediate punishment; but the
effort (generally a failure) to prevent my irritability from adding to
the distresses I had brought on my poor wife, opened my eyes to much
that I had never understood.  Yet I had presumed to become an
instructor--I deemed myself irreproachable!

'I believe the origin of the whole was, that I never distinguished a
fierce spirit of self-exaltation from my grandmother's noble resolution
to be independent.  It was a demon which took the semblance of good,
and left no room for demons of a baser sort.  Even as a boy at the
Grammar-school, I kept out of evil from the pride of proving myself
gentlemanly under any circumstances; the motive was not a bit better
than that which made me bully you.   I can never remember being without
an angry and injured feeling that my uncle's neglect left my
grandmother burdened, and obliged me to receive an inferior education;
and with this, a certain hope that he would never put himself in the
right, nor lay me under obligations.  You saw how this motive actuated
me, when I never discerned it. I trust that I was not insincere, though
presumptuous and self-deceiving I was to an extent which I can only
remember with horror.  If it approached to sacrilege, may the wilful
blindness be forgiven!  At least, I knew it not; and with all my heart
I meant to fulfil the vows I had taken on me.  Thus, when my uncle
actually returned, there was a species of revengeful satisfaction in
making my profession interfere with his views, when he had made it the
only one eligible for me.  How ill I behaved--how obstinately I set
myself against all mediation--how I wrapped myself in
self-approval--you know better than I do.  My conceit, and absurdity,
and thanklessness, have risen up before me; and I remember offers that
would have involved no sacrifice of my clerical obligations--offers
that I would not even consider--classing them all as 'mere truckling
with my conscience.'  What did I take for a conscience?

'Ever since, things have gone from bad to worse, grieving my dear
grandmother's last year, and estranging me from my poor little sister
because she would not follow my dictation.  At last my sins brought
down the penalty, and I would not grieve except for the innocent who
suffer with me.  Perhaps, but for them, I should never have felt it.
Nor do I feel tempted to murmur; for there is a strange peace with us
throughout, in spite of a sad heart and too many explosions of my
miserable temper, and the sight of the hardships so bravely met by my
dear wife.  But for all this, I should never have known what she is!
She whispered to me last evening, when she saw me looking tired and
depressed, that she had no fears for the future, for this had been the
happiest year of her life.  Nothing can make her forget to soothe me!

'I have written a long rigmarole all about myself; but an outpouring is
sometimes a relief, and you have borne with me often enough to do so
now.  My poor Clara's pardon, and some kind of clerical duty, are my
chief wishes; but my failures in the early part of the year have taught
me how unworthy I am to stir a step in soliciting anything of the kind.
Did I tell you how some ten of the boys continue to touch their hats to
me? and Smith, the butcher's son, often comes to borrow a book, and
consult me on some of the difficulties that his father throws in his
way.  He is a fine fellow, and at least I hope that my two years at the
school did him no harm.  I was much impressed with the orderliness at
Ormersfield Sunday-school.  I wish I could have got half as much
religious knowledge into my poor boys.  I walked through your turnips
in the South field, and thought they wanted rain.  Frampton tells me
the Inglewood harvest is in very good condition; but I will see the
bailiff, and give you more particulars, when I can be better spared
from home for a few hours.  Kitty's assistance in writing has
discomposed these last few lines.

                                 'Yours ever,
                                      'J.R.F.D.'


Clara turned away and groaned aloud several times as she read; but all
she said, as she gave it back to Louis, was, 'What is to be done? You
must talk to my uncle.'

'Ah, Clara! young gentlemen of the nineteenth century make but a bad
hand of the part of benevolent fairy.'

'I don't think my speaking would be of any use,' said Clara.  'Oh, if
this only would have been a boy!'

Lord Ormersfield undertook to sound Mr. Dynevor, and found an early
opportunity of asking whether he had heard of poor James's misfortune.
Yes, he had known it long ago.  No wonder, with such a temper.  Kept it
from the child, though.  Would not have her always hankering after them.

Was he aware of his great distress and difficulties?  Ha, ha! thought
so!  Fine lady wife!  No end of children--served him right!--to bring
down his pride.

Lord Ormersfield hazarded a hint that James had seen his errors, and
the school was no longer in the way.

'No, no!' said Oliver.  'Too late now.  Drink as he has brewed.  He
should have thought twice before he broke my poor mother's heart with
his cantankerous ways.  Cheveleigh beneath him, forsooth!  I'm not
going to have it cut up for a lot of trumpery girls!  I've settled the
property and whatever other pickings there may be upon my little
Clara--grateful, and worthy of it!  Her husband shall take Dynevor name
and arms--unless, to be sure, he had a title of his own.  The girl was
much admired at Rome last winter, had a fair offer or two, but not a
word will she say to any of them.  I can't tell what's in her head, not
I!'

And he looked knowingly at Lord Ormersfield, and willingly extended his
stay at Aix-la-Chapelle, letting Fitzjocelyn organize expeditions from
thence to Liege and other places in the neighbourhood.

The two cousins were so glad to be together, and the Earl so much
pleased that Louis should have anything which gave him so much delight
as this meeting with his old playfellow, that he did all in his power
to facilitate and prolong their intercourse.  He often sacrificed
himself to Oliver's prosings on the Equatorial navigation, that the two
young people might be at liberty; and he invited Clara to their early
breakfast and walk before her uncle wanted her in the morning.  These
were Clara's times of greatest happiness, except that it gave her a new
and strange sensation to be talked to by his lordship like a
grown-up--nay, a sensible woman.  Once she said to herself, laughing,
'He really treats me almost as if I were poor Mary herself.'  And then
came another flash: 'Perhaps he would even like me on the same terms!'
And then she laughed again, and shook her head:  'No, no, my Lord, your
son is much too good for that!  Uncle Oliver would not have looked so
benignant at us when we were sitting in the gardens last night, if he
had known that I was giving Louis all my Lima letters.  I wish they
were more worth having!  It was very stupid of me not to know Mary
better, so that we write like two old almanacs.  However, my letter
from hence will be worth its journey to Peru.'

Clara's heart was several degrees lighter, both from the pleasure of
the meeting and a suggestion of the Earl's, upon which she had at once
acted, and which seemed, even as she laid pen to paper, to bring her
somewhat nearer to her brother.

Her letter arrived at No. 5, on the next Monday morning at
breakfast-time.  It did not at first attract the attention of James.
The Sunday exertions had again left a mental and physical lassitude,
showing how much care and privation had told upon his strength; and
Isabel's still tardy convalescence weighed him down with anxiety for
the future, and almost with despair, as he thought of the comforts for
want of which she suffered, though so patiently and silently dispensing
with them.  To his further vexation, he had, on the previous Saturday,
seen Charlotte receiving at the back-door an amount of meat beyond her
orders; and, having checked himself because too angry and too much
grieved to speak at once, had reserved the reproof for the Monday, when
Charlotte brought in her book of petty disbursements.

Failing to detect the obnoxious item, he said, 'Where's the account of
the meat that came in on Saturday?'

'There, sir!' said Charlotte, indicating the legitimate amount, but
blushing violently.

'That was not all?' he said, with a look of stern, interrogation.

'Oh! if you please, sir, that was nothing!'

'This will not do, Charlotte!  I can have nothing taken into my house
without being paid for.  I insist on knowing what you could mean?'

'Oh, sir!' tearfully exclaimed the girl, 'it is paid for--I'll show you
the account, if you will--with my own money.  I'd not have had you hear
of it for the world; but I could not bear that nurse's insinuations
about her meat five times a-day--she that never nursed nothing like a
real lady before!  But I meant no harm, sir; and I hope you'll excuse
the liberty, for I did not mean to take none; and I'm sure I'm quite
contented for my own part, nor never meant to complain.'

'I know you did not, Charlotte!  You are only too patient and kind--'
But his voice broke down, and he was forced silently to sign to her to
leave him.

'Can humiliation go farther!' he thought.  'My boasted independence
ending in this poor, faithful servant being stung, by the sneers of
this hired woman, into eking out her scanty meals with her own
insufficient wages!'

Little Catharine, who had been gazing with dilated black eyes, came
scrambling on his knee to caress him, perceiving that he was grieved.

'Ah!  Kitty, Kitty!' he said, 'it is well that you are too young to
feel these troubles!'

'Papa! letter!' cried Kitty, waving the unregarded letter in the
triumph of discovery.

'The Reverend James Frost.'  It was the writing formed by his own
copies, which he could not see without a sharp pang of self-reproach
for cruel injustice and unkindness.

Kitty slid down with the empty envelope to act reading to the twins,
whom she caught by turns as they crawled away, and set up straight
before her.  Her operations and their remonstrances, though as loud as
they were inarticulate, passed utterly unheard and unheeded by their
father, as he read:--


                         'Hotel du Grand Monarque. Aix-la-Chapelle,
                                      Sept. 18th.

'My Dearest James,--As a mere matter of honesty and justice, I may
venture to write to you.  You always accepted from dear grandmamma the
income from the money in the Stocks.  I did not know that half of it
has since come to me, till Lord Ormersfield paid me this last year's
dividend; and if you will not have his enclosed cheque for it, put it
in the fire, for I will never have it in any form.  It is not my
uncle's, but my own; and if you would make me very happy, write to me
here.  You must not suppose that I am trying to buy a letter; but I
look on this as yours, and I thought you had it till Lord Ormersfield
told me about it.  We met him and Louis quite unexpectedly--the best
thing that has happened to me for years, though they told me much that
grieves me exceedingly--but I cannot write about it till I know that I
may.  Tell me of dear Isabel and the babes.  My heart yearns after
them! it would leap up at the sight of a stone from the Terrace!

                             'Your ever affectionate
                                       'Clara.'


His first impulse was, as though he feared to repent, to turn to his
desk, the tears of feeling still in his eyes, and dash off these
words:--

'Your bounty, my dearest sister, is scarcely less welcome than the
forgiving spirit which prompted it.  I will not conceal that I was
sorely in need of means to supply Isabel with the comforts that she
requires.  That your affection can survive my treatment last year,
makes me equally grateful to you and ashamed of what then took place.'

He scarcely dared to look upon those phrases.  Great as were his needs,
and kindly as the proffer was made, it was new and painful to him to be
under any such obligation, and he could hardly bend his spirit to know
that never again should he be able to feel that he had never been
beholden for money to a living creature.  And while he felt it due to
his sister to own the full extent of the benefit, he weighed his words
as he wrote on, lest the simplest facts should look like a craving for
further assistance.

Charlotte came up to remove the breakfast, and he looked up to give an
order for some nourishing dainty for her mistress, adding, 'What did
that mutton come to?  No, I am not displeased with you, but Miss Clara
has sent me some money.'

His assurance was needed, for Charlotte went down thinking she had
never seen master look so stern.  He had spoken from a sense that the
truth was due to the generous girl, but each word had been intense
pain.  He wrote on, often interrupted by little riots among the
children, and finally by a sharp contention, the twins having possessed
themselves of a paper-knife, which Kitty, with precocious notions of
discipline, considered as forbidden; and little Mercy was rapped over
the fingers in the struggle.  The roar brought down interference, and
Kitty fell into disgrace; but when, after long persuasion, she was
induced to yield the paper-cutter, kiss and make friends, Mercy,
instead of embracing, locked her fingers into her dark curls, and
tugged at them in a way so opposite to her name, that all Kitty's
offence was forgotten in her merit for stopping her scream half-way at
the sight of her father's uplifted finger, and his whisper of 'Poor
mamma!'

That life of worry and baby squabbles, the reflection of his own
faults, was hard to bear; and with a feeling of seeking a refuge, when
the two little ones had fallen into their noonday sleep, and were left
with their mother to the care of good Miss Mercy, he set out for some
parish work at Ormersfield, still taking with him little Kitty, whose
quicksilver nature would never relieve her elders by a siesta.

He was afraid to speak to Isabel until he should have composed himself,
and, harassed and weary in spirits and in frame, he walked slowly, very
sore at the domestic discovery, and scarcely feeling the diminution of
the immediate pressure in the new sense of degradation. He could own
that it was merited, and was arguing with himself that patience and
gratitude were the needful proofs that the evil temper had been
expelled.  He called back his thankfulness for his wife's safety, his
children's health, the constancy of his kind friends, and the
undeserved ardour of his young sister's affection, as well as poor
little Charlotte's unselfishness.  The hard exasperated feeling that
once envenomed every favour, and barbed every dart that wounded him,
was gone; he could own the loving kindness bestowed on him, both from
Heaven and by man, and began to find peace and repose in culling the
low fragrant blossoms which cheered even the Valley of Humiliation.

He turned down the shady lane, overhung by the beech-trees of Mr.
Calcott's park, and as he lifted Kitty in his arms to allow her the
robin-redbreast, he did not feel out of tune with the bird's sweet
autumnal notes, nor with the child's merry little voice, but each
refreshed his worn and contrite spirit.

The sound of hoofs approaching made him turn his head; and while Kitty
announced 'horse!' and 'man!' he recognised Mr. Calcott, and felt
abashed, and willing to find a retreat from the meeting; but there was
no avoiding it, and he expected, as usual, to be passed with a bow; but
the Squire slackened his pace as he overtook him, and called out,
good-humouredly, 'Ha, Mr. Frost, good morning' (once it would have been
Jem).  'I always know you by the little lady on your shoulder.  I was
intending to call on you this afternoon on a little business; but if
you will step up to the house with me, I shall be much obliged.'

James's heart beat thick with undefined hope; but, after all, it might
be only to witness some paper.  After what had occurred, and Mrs.
Calcott considering herself affronted by Isabel, bare civility was
forgiveness; and he walked up the drive with the Squire, who had
dismounted, and was inquiring with cordial kindness for Mrs. Frost, yet
with a little awkwardness, as if uncertain on what terms they stood,
more as if he himself were to blame than the young clergyman.

Arriving at the house, James answered for his little girl's absence of
shyness, and she was turned over to the Miss Calcotts, while the Squire
conducted him to the study, and began with hesitation and something of
apology--'It had struck him--it was not worth much--he hardly liked to
propose it, and yet till something better should turn up--anything was
better than doing nothing.'  To which poor James heartily agreed.  The
board of guardians, where Mr. Calcott presided, were about to elect a
chaplain to the union workhouse; the salary would be only fifty pounds,
but if Mr. Frost would be willing to offer himself, it would be a great
blessing to the inmates, and there would be no opposition.

Mr. Calcott, making the proposal from sincere goodwill, but with some
dread how the Pendragon blood would receive it, was absolutely
astounded by the effect.

Fifty pounds additional per annum was a boon only to be appreciated
after such a pinching year as the past; the gratitude for the old
Squire's kind pardon was so strong, and the blessing of re-admission to
pastoral work touched him so deeply, that, in his weakened and dejected
state, he could not restrain his tears, nor for some moments utter a
word.  At last he said, 'Oh, Mr. Calcott, I have not deserved this at
your hands.'

'There, there,' said the Squire, trying to laugh it off, though he too
became husky, 'say no more about it.  It is a poor thing, and can't be
made better; but it will be a real kindness to us to look after the
place.'

'Let me say thus much,' said James, 'for I cannot be at peace till I
have done so--I am aware that I acted unjustifiably in that whole
affair, both when elected and dismissed.'

'No, no, don't let's go over that again!' said Mr. Calcott, in dread of
a scene.  'An over-ardent friend may be a misfortune, and you were very
young.  Not that I would have taken your resignation if it had been
left to me, but the world is grown mighty tender.  I dare say you never
flogged a boy like what I underwent fifty years ago, and was the better
for it,' and he launched into some frightful old-world stories of the
like inflictions, hoping to lead away from personalities, but James was
resolved to say what was on his mind. 'It was not severity,' he said,
'it was temper.  I richly deserved some portion of the rebuke, and it
would have been well for me if that same temper had allowed me to
listen to you, sir, or to reason.'

'Well,' said Mr. Calcott, kindly, 'you think very rightly about the
matter, and a man of six-and-twenty has time to be wiser, as I tell
Mrs. Calcott, when Sydney treats us to some of his theories.  And now
you have said your say, you must let me say mine, and that is, that
there are very few young couples--aye, or old ones--who would have had
the sense to go on as you are doing, fighting it out in your own
neighbourhood without nonsense or false shame.  I honour you and Mrs.
Frost for it, both of you!'

James coloured deeply.  He could have found commendation an
impertinence, but the old Squire was a sort of patriarch in the county,
and appreciation of Isabel's conduct must give him pleasure. He
stammered something about her having held up wonderfully, and the
salary being an immense relief, and then took refuge in matter-of-fact
inquiries on his intended functions.

This lasted till nearly half-past one, and Mr. Calcott insisted on his
staying to luncheon.   He found the ladies greatly amused with their
little guest--a very small, but extremely forward and spirited child,
not at all pretty, with her brown skin and womanly eyes, but looking
most thoroughly a lady, even in her little brown holland frock, and
white sun-bonnet, her mamma's great achievement.  Neither shy nor
sociable, she had allowed no one to touch her, but had entrenched
herself in a corner behind a chair, through the back of which she
answered all civilities, with more self-possession than distinctness,
and convulsed the party with laughing, when they asked if she could
play at bo-peep, by replying that 'the children did.' She sprang from
her place of refuge to his knee as soon as he entered, and occupied
that post all luncheon time, comporting herself with great discretion.
There was something touching in the sight of the tenderness of the
young father, taking off her bonnet, and settling her straggling curls
with no unaccustomed hands; and Mrs. Calcott's heart was moved, as she
remarked his worn, almost hollow cheeks, his eyes still quick, but sunk
and softened, his figure spare and thin, and even his dress not without
signs of poverty; and she began making kind volunteers of calling on
Mrs. Frost, nor were these received as once they would have been.

'He is the only young man,' said Mr. Calcott, standing before the fire,
with his hands behind him, as soon as the guest had departed, 'except
his cousin at Ormersfield, whom I ever knew to confess that he had been
mistaken.  That's the difference between them and the rest, not
excepting your son Sydney, Mrs. Calcott.'

Mamma and sisters cried in chorus, that Sydney had no occasion for such
confessions.

The Squire gave his short, dry laugh, and repeated that 'Jem Frost and
young Fitzjocelyn differed from other youths, not in being right but in
being wrong.'

On which topic Mrs. Calcott enlarged, compassionating poor Mr. Frost
with a double quantity of pity for his helpless beauty of a fine
lady-wife; charitably owning, however, that she really seemed improved
by her troubles.  She should have thought better of her if she had not
kept that smart housemaid, who looked so much above her station, and
whom the housekeeper had met running about the lanes in the dark, the
very night when Mr. Frost was so ill.

'Pshaw! my dear,' said her husband, 'cannot you let people be judges of
their own affairs?'

It was what he had said on the like occasions for the last thirty
years; but Mrs. Calcott was as wise as ever in other folks' matters.

The fine lady-wife had meanwhile been arranging a little surprise for
her husband.  She was too composed to harass herself at his not
returning at midday, she knew him and Kitty to be quite capable of
taking care of each other, and could imagine him detained by parish
work, and disposing of the little maiden with Betty Gervas, or some
other Ormersfield friend, but she had thought him looking fagged and
worried, she feared his being as tired as he had been on the Sunday,
and she could not bear that he should drink tea uncomfortably in the
study, tormented by the children.  So she had repaired to the parlour,
and Miss Mercy, after many remonstrances, had settled her there; and
when the good little lady had gone home to her sister's tea, Isabel lay
on the sofa, wrapped in her large soft shawl, languidly attempting a
little work, and feeling the room dreary, and herself very weak, and
forlorn, and desponding, as she thought of James's haggard face, and
the fresh anxieties that would be entailed on him if she should become
sickly and ailing.  The tear gathered on her eyelash as she said to
herself, 'I would not exert myself when I could; perhaps now I cannot,
when I would give worlds to lighten one of his cares!'  And then she
saw one little bit of furniture standing awry, in the manner that used
so often to worry his fastidious eye; and, in the spirit of doing
anything to please him, she moved across the room to rectify it, and
then sat down in the large easy chair, wearied by the slight exertion,
and becoming even more depressed and hopeless; 'though,' as she told
herself, 'all is sure to be ordered well.  The past struggle has been
good--the future will be good if we can but treat it rightly.'

Just as the last gleams were fading on the tops of the Ormersfield
coppices, she heard the hall-door, and James's footstep; and it was
more than the ordinary music of his 'coming up the stair;' there was a
spring and life in it that thrilled into her heart, and glanced in her
eye, as she sat up in her chair, to welcome him with no forced smile.

And as he came in with a pleased exclamation, his voice had no longer
the thin, worn sound, as if only resolute resignation prevented
peevishness; there was a cheerfulness and solidity in the tone, as he
came fondly to her side, regretted having missed her first appearance,
and feared she had been long alone.

'Oh, no; but I was afraid you would be so tired!  Carrying Kitty all
the way, too!  But you look so much brighter.'

'I am brighter,' said James.  'Two things have happened for which I
ought to be very thankful.  My dear, can you bear to be wife to the
chaplain of the Union at fifty pounds a-year!'

'Oh! have you something to do? cried Isabel; 'I am so glad!  Now we
shall be a little more off your mind.  And you will do so much good! I
have heard Miss Mercy say how much she wished there were some one to
put those poor people in the right way.'

'Yes; I hope that concentrated earnestness of attention may do
something to make up for my deficiency in almost every other
qualification,' said James.  'At least, I feel some of the importance
of the charge, and never was anything more welcome.'

'And how did it happen?'

'People are more forgiving than I could have hoped.  Mr. Calcott has
offered me this, in the kindest way; and as if that were not enough,
see what poor little Clara says.'

'Poor little Clara!' said Isabel, reading the letter; 'you don't mean
to disappoint her!'

'I should be a brute if I did. No; I wrote to her this morning to thank
her for her pardoning spirit.'

'You should have told me; I should like to send her my love.  I am glad
she has not quite forgotten us, though she mistook the way to her own
happiness.'

'Isabel! unless I were to transport you to Cheveleigh a year ago,
nothing would persuade you of my utter wrong-headedness.'

'Nor that, perhaps,' said Isabel, with a calm smile.

'Not my having brought you to be grateful for the Union chaplaincy?'

'Not if you had brought me to the Union literally,' said Isabel,
smiling.  'Indeed, dear James, I think we have both been so much the
better and happier for this last year, that I would not have been
without it for any consideration; and if any mistakes on your part led
to it, they were mistakes on the right side.  Don't shake your head,
for you know they were what only a good man could have made.'

'That may be all very well for a wife to believe!'

And the rest of the little dispute was concluded, as Charlotte came
smiling up with the tea.



CHAPTER XVII.

'BIDE A WEE.'

  Come unto these yellow sands,
  And then take hands!
                     Tempest


The Ponsonby family were spending the hot season at Chorillos, the
Peruvian watering-place, an irregular assembly of cane-built,
mud-besmeared ranches, close on the shore of the Pacific, with the
mountains seeming to rise immediately in the rear.

They had gone for Mr. Ponsonby's health, and Rosita's amusement; and in
the latter object they had completely succeeded.  In her bathing-dress,
full trousers, and a beautifully-embroidered blouse, belted at the
waist, a broad-brimmed straw hat, and her raven hair braided in two
long tresses, she wandered on the shore with many another fair
Limenian, or entered the sea under the protection of a brown Indian;
and, supported by mates or gourds, would float for hours together among
her companions, splashing about, and playing all sorts of frolics, like
so many mermaids.

In the evening she returned to more terrestrial joys, and arraying
herself in some of her infinite varieties of ball-dresses, with flowers
and jewels in her hair, a tiny Panama hat cocked jauntily on the top of
her head, and a rich shawl with one end thrown over the shoulder, she
would step daintily out in her black satin shoes, with old Xavier in
attendance, or sometimes with Robson as her cavalier, to meet her
friends on the beach, or make a call in the lamp-lit corridor of some
other rancho.  There were innumerable balls, dances, and pic-nics to
the rich and fertile villages and haciendas around, and fetes of every
description almost every evening; visits to the tombs of the old
Peruvians, whose graves were often rudely and lightly searched for the
sake of their curious images and golden ornaments.  The Senora declared
it was the most lovely summer she had ever spent, and that nothing
should induce her to return to Lima while her friends remained there.

The other object, of re-invigorating Mr. Ponsonby, had not been
attained.  He had been ailing for some time past, and, instead of
deriving benefit from the sea-breezes, only missed the comforts of
home.  He was so testy and exacting that Mary would have seldom liked
to leave him to himself, even if she had been disposed to lead the life
of a fish; and she was seldom away from him, unless Robson came down
from Lima to transact business with him.

Mary dreaded these interviews, for her father always emerged from them
doubly irritable and dispirited; and when Rosita claimed the Senor
Robson as her knight for her evening promenade, and the father and
daughter were left alone together, he would blame the one lady for
going, the other for staying--then draw out his papers again, and
attempt to go over them, with a head already aching and confused--be
angry at Mary's entreaties that he would lay them aside, or allow her
to help him--and presently be obliged with a sigh to desist, and lie
back in his chair, while she fanned him, or cooled his forehead with
iced water.  Yet he was always eager and excited for Robson to come;
and a delay of a day would put his temper in such a state that his wife
kept out of his sight, leaving Mary to soothe him as she might.

'Mary,' said her father one evening, when she was standing at the
window of the corridor, refreshing her eye with gazing at the glorious
sunset in the midst of a pile of crimson and purple clouds, reflected
in the ocean--'Mary, Ward is going to Mew York next week.'

'So soon?' said Mary.

'Aye, and he is coming here to-morrow to see you.'

Mary still looked out with a sort of interest to see a little gold
flake change its form as it traversed a grand violet tower.

'I hope you will make him a more reasonable answer than you did last
time,' said her father; 'it is too bad to keep the poor man dangling on
at this rate!  And such a man!'

'I am very sorry for it, but I cannot help it,' said Mary; 'no one can
be kinder or more forbearing than he has been, but I wish he would look
elsewhere.'

'So you have not got that nonsense out of your head!' exclaimed Mr.
Ponsonby, with muttered words that Mary would not hear.  'All my fault
for ever sending you among that crew!  Coming between you and the best
match in Lima--the best fellow in the world--strict enough to content
Melicent or your mother either!  What have you to say against him,
Mary?  I desire to know that.'

'Nothing, papa,' said Mary, 'except that I wish he could make a better
choice.'

'I tell you, you and he were made for each other.  It is the most
provoking thing in the world, that you will go on in this obstinate
way!  I can't even ask the man to do me a kindness, with having an eye
to these abominable affairs, that are all going to the dogs. There's
old Dynevor left his senses behind him when he went off to play the
great man in England, writing every post for remittances, when he knows
what an outlay we've been at for machinery; and there's the Equatorial
Company cutting its own throat at Guayaquil, and that young fellow up
at the San Benito not half to be trusted--Robson can't make out his
accounts; and here am I such a wretch that I can hardly tell what two
and two make; and here's Ward, the very fellow to come in and set all
straight in the nick of time; and I can't ask him so much as to look at
a paper for me, because I'm not to lay myself under an obligation.'

'But, papa, if our affairs are not prosperous, it would not be fair to
connect Mr. Ward or any one with them.'

'Never you trouble yourself about that!  You'll come in for a pretty
fortune of your own, whatever happens to that abominable cheat of a
Company; and that might be saved if only I was the man I was, or
Dynevor was here.  If Ward would give us a loan, and turn his mind to
it, we should be on our legs in an instant.  It is touch and go just
now!--I declare, Mary,' he broke out again after an interval, 'I never
saw anything so selfish as you are!  Lingering and pining on about this
foolish young man, who has never taken any notice of you since you have
been out here, and whom you hear is in love with another woman--married
to her very likely by this time--or, maybe, only wishing you were
married and out of his way.'

'I do not believe so,' answered Mary, stoutly.

'What! you did not see Oliver's letter from that German place?'

'Yes, I did,' said Mary; 'but I know his manner to Clara.'

'You do?  You take things coolly, upon my word!'

'No,' said Mary.  'I know they are like brother and sister, and Clara
could never have written to me as she has done, had there been any such
notion.  But that is not the point, papa.  What I know is, that while
my feelings are what they are at present, it would not be right of me
to accept any one; and so I shall tell Mr. Ward, if he is still
determined to see me.  Pray forgive me, dear papa.  I do admire and
honour him very much, but I cannot do any more; and I am sorry I have
seemed pining or discontented, for I tried not to be so.'

A grim grunt was all the answer that Mr. Ponsonby vouchsafed.  His
conscience, though not his lips, acquitted poor Mary of discontent or
pining, as indeed it was the uniform cheerfulness of her demeanour that
had misled him into thinking the unfortunate affair forgotten.

He showed no symptoms of speaking again; and Mary, leaning back in her
chair, had leisure to recover herself after the many severe strokes
that had been made at her.  There was one which she had rebutted
valiantly at the moment, but which proved to have been a poisoned
dart--that suggestion that it might be selfish in her not to set Louis
even more free, by her own marriage!

She revolved the probabilities: Clara, formed, guided, supported by
himself, the companion of his earlier youth, preferred to all others,
and by this time, no doubt, developed into all that was admirable. What
would be more probable than their mutual love?  And when Mary went over
all the circumstances of her own strange courtship, she could not but
recur to her mother's original impression, that Louis had not known
what he was doing.  Those last weeks had made her feel rather than
believe otherwise, but they were far in the distance now, and he had
been so young!  It was not unlikely that even yet, while believing
himself faithful to her, his heart was in Clara's keeping, and that the
news of her marriage would reveal to them both, in one rush of
happiness, that they were destined for each other from the first.

Mary felt intense pain, and yet a strange thrill of joy, to think that
Louis might at last be happy.

She drew Clara's last letter out of her basket, and re-read it, in
hopes of some contradiction.  Clara's letters had all hitherto been
stiff.  She had not been acknowledged to be in the secret of Mary's
engagement while it subsisted, and this occasioned a delicacy in
writing to her on any subject connected with it; and so the mention of
the meeting at the 'Grand Monarque' came in tamely, and went off
quickly into Lord Ormersfield's rheumatism and Charlemagne's tomb. But
the remarkable thing in the letter was the unusual perfume of happiness
that pervaded it; the conventional itinerary was abandoned, and there
was a tendency to droll sayings--nay, some shafts from a quiver at
which Mary could guess.  She had set all down as the exhilaration of
Louis's presence, but perhaps that exhilaration, was to a degree in
which she alone could sympathize.

Mary was no day-dreamer; and yet, ere Rosita's satin shoe was on the
threshold, she had indulged in the melancholy fabric of a castle at
Ormersfield, in which she had no share, except the consciousness that
it had been her self-sacrifice that had given Louis at last the
felicity for which he was so well fitted.

But at night, in her strange little room, lying in her hammock, and
looking up through her one unglazed window, high up in the roof, to the
stars that slowly travelled across the space, she came back to a more
collected opinion.  She had no right to sacrifice Mr. Ward as well as
herself.  Louis could not be more free than she had made him already,
and it would be doing evil that good might come, to accept the
addresses of one man while she could not detach her heart from another.
'Have I ever really tried yet? she thought.  'Perhaps I am punishing
him and poor Mr. Ward, because, as papa says, I have languished, and
have never tried in earnest to wean my thoughts from him.  He was the
one precious memory, besides my dear mother, and she never thought it
would come to good.  He will turn out to have been constant to Clara
all the time, though he did not know it.'

Even if Mr. Ponsonby had been in full health, he would have had no
inclination to spare Mary the conversation with Mr. Ward, who took his
hot nine miles' ride from Lima in the early morning, before the shadow
of the mountains had been drawn up from the arid barren slope leading
to Chorillos.

He came in time for the late breakfast, when the table was loaded with
various beautiful tropical fruits, tempting after his ride, and in his
state of suspense.  He talked of his journey, and of his intended
absence, and his regret, in a manner half mechanical, half dreamy,
which made Mary quite sorry for him; it was melancholy for a man of his
age to have fixed so many fond hopes where disappointment was in store
for him.  She wished to deal as kindly with him as she could, and did
not shrink away when her father left them, muttering something about a
letter, and Rosita went to take her siesta.

With anxious diffidence he ventured to ask whether she remembered what
had passed between them on the San Benito mountain.

'Yes, Mr. Ward, but I am afraid I do not think differently now, in
spite of all your kindness.'

Poor Mr. Ward's countenance underwent a change, as if he had hoped
more.  'Your father had given me reason to trust,' he said, 'that you
had recovered your spirits; otherwise I should hardly have presumed to
intrude on you.  And yet, before so long an absence, you cannot wonder
that I longed to hear something decisive.'

'Indeed I wished what I said before to be decisive.  I am very sorry to
give pain to one so much kinder than I deserve, and to whom I look up
so much, but you see, Mr. Ward, I cannot say what is untrue.'

'Miss Ponsonby,' said Mr. Ward, 'I think you may be acting on a most
noble but mistaken view.  I can well believe that what you have once
experienced you can never feel again.  That would be more than I should
dare to ask.  My own feeling for you is such that I believe I should be
able to rejoice in hearing of the fulfilment of your happiness, in your
own way; but since there seems no such probability, cannot you grant me
what you can still give, which would be enough to cause me the greatest
joy to which I have ever aspired; and if my most devoted affection
could be any sufficient return, you know that it is yours already.'

The grave earnestness with which he spoke went to Mary's heart, and the
tears came into her eyes.  She felt it almost wrong to withstand a man
of so much weight and worth; but she spoke steadily--'This is very
kind--very kind indeed; but I do not feel as if it would be right.'

'Will you not let me be the judge of what will satisfy me?'

'You cannot judge of my feelings, Mr. Ward.  You must believe me that,
with all my esteem and gratitude, I do not yet feel as if I should be
acting rightly by you or by any one else, under my present sentiments.'

'You do not _yet_ feel?'

Mary felt that the word was a mistake.  'I do not think I ever shall,'
she added.

'You will not call it persecution, if I answer that perhaps I may make
the venture once more,' he said.  'I shall live on that word 'yet'
while I am at New York.  I will tease you no more now; but remember
that, though I am too old to expect to be a young lady's first choice,
I never saw the woman whom I could love, or of whom I could feel so
sure that she would bring a blessing with her; and I do believe that,
if you would trust me, I could make you happy.  There! I ask no answer.
I only shall think of my return next year, and not reckon on that.  I
know you will tell me whatever is true.'  He pressed her hand, and
would fain have smiled reassuringly.

He took leave much more kindly than Mary thought she deserved, and did
not appear to be in low spirits.  She feared that ahe had raised
unwarrantable hopes, but the truth was, that Mr. Ponsonby had privately
assured him that, though she could not yet believe it, poor girl! the
young man in England would be married before many months were over to
old Dynevor's niece.  There would be no more difficulty by the time he
came back, for she liked him heartily already, and was a sensible girl.

So Mr. Ward departed, and Mary was relieved, although she missed his
honest manly homage, and sound wise tone of thought, where she had so
few to love or lean on.  She thought that she ought to try to put
herself out of the way of her cousins at home as much as possible, and
so she did not try to make time to write to Clara, and time did not
come unsought, for her father's health did not improve; and when they
returned to Lima, he engrossed her care almost entirely, while his
young wife continued her gaieties, and Mary had reason to think the
saya y manto disguise was frequently donned; but it was so much the
custom of ladies of the same degree, that Mary thought it neither
desirable nor likely to be effectual to inform her father, and incite
him to interfere.  She devoted herself to his comfort, and endeavoured
to think as little as she heard of English cousins.

There was not much to hear.  After returning home quite well, Lord
Ormersfield was laid up again by the first cold winds, and another
summer of German brunnens was in store for him and Louis.  Lady Conway
had taken a cottage in the Isle of Wight, where Walter, having found
the Christmas holidays very dull, and shown that he could get into
mischief as well without Delaford as with him, she sent him off in a
sort of honourable captivity to James and Isabel, expecting that he
would find it a great punishment.  Instead of this, the change from
luxury to their hard life seemed to him a sort of pic-nic.  He enjoyed
the 'fun' of the waiting on themselves, had the freedom of Ormersfield
park for sport; and at home, his sister, whom he had always loved and
respected more than any one else.  James had time to attend to him, and
to promote all his better tastes and feelings; and above all, he lost
his heart to his twin nieces.  It was exceedingly droll to see the half
quarrelsome coquetries between the three, and to hear Walter's grand
views for the two little maidens as soon as he should be of age.  James
and Louis agreed that there could not be much harm in him, while he
could conform so happily to such a way of life.  Everything is
comparative, and the small increase to James's income had been
sufficient to relieve him from present pinching and anxiety in the
scale of life to which he and Isabel had become habituated.  His
chaplaincy gave full employment for heart and head to a man so
energetic and earnest; he felt himself useful there, and threw himself
into it with all his soul; and, what was more wonderful, he had never
yet quarrelled with the guardians; and the master told Mr. Calcott that
he had heard Mr. Frost was a fiery gentleman, but he had always seen
him particularly gentle, especially with the children in school.  The
old women could never say enough in his praise, and doated on the
little brown fairy who often accompanied him.

There was plenty to be done at home--little luxury, and not much rest;
but Isabel's strength and spirits seemed a match for all, in her own
serene quiet way, and the days passed very happily.

Charlotte had a workhouse girl under her, who neither ate nor broke so
vehemently as her predecessor.  One night, when Charlotte sat mending
and singing in the nursery, the girl came plodding up in her heavy
shoes, saying, 'There's one wanting to see ye below.'

'One!  Who can it be?' cried Charlotte, her heart bounding at the
thought of a denouement to her own romance.

'He looks like a gentleman,' said the girl, 'and he wanted not to see
master, but Miss Arnold most particular.'  More hopes for Charlotte.
She had nearly made one bound downstairs, but waited to lay awful
commands on the girl not to leave the children on no account; then flew
down, pausing at the foot of the stairs to draw herself up, and
remember dignity and maidenliness.  Alas for her hopes!  It was
Delaford!  His whiskers still were sleek and curly; he still had a
grand air; but his boots were less polished--his hat had lost the
gloss--and he looked somewhat the worse for wear.

Poor Charlotte started back as if she had seen a wild beast in her
kitchen.  She had heard of his dishonesty, and her thoughts flew
distractedly to her spoons, murder, and the children.  And here he was
advancing gracefully to take her hand.  She jumped back, and exclaimed,
faintly, 'Mr. Delaford, please go away!  I can't think what you come
here for!'

'Ah! I see, you have listened to the voice of unkind scandal,' said Mr.
Delaford.  'I have been unfortunate, Miss Arnold--unfortunate and
misunderstood--guilty never.  On the brink of quitting for ever an
ungrateful country, I could not deny myself the last sad satisfaction
of visiting the spot where my brightest hours have been passed;' and he
looked so pathetic, that Charlotte felt her better sense melting, and
spoke in a hurry--

'Please don't, Mr. Delaford, I've had enough of all that.  Please go,
and take my best wishes, as long as you don't come here, for I know all
about you.'

But the intruder only put his hand upon his heart, and declared that he
had been misrepresented; and let a cruel world think of him as it
might, there was one breast in which he could not bear that a false
opinion, of him should prevail.  And therewith he reached a chair, and
Charlotte found herself seated and listening to him, neither believing,
nor wishing to believe him, longing that he would take himself away,
but bewildered by his rhetoric.  In the first place, he had been
hastily judged; he had perhaps yielded too much to Sir Walter--but
youth, &c.; and when Lady Conway's means were in his hands, it had
seemed better--he knew now that it had been a weakness, but so he had
judged at the time--to supply the young gentleman's little occasions,
than to make an eclat.  Moreover, if he had not been the most
unfortunate wretch in the world, a few lucky hits would have enabled
him to restore the whole before Lord Fitzjocelyn hurried on the
inquiry; but the young gentleman thought he acted for the best, and Mr.
Delaford magnanimously forgave him.

Charlotte could not follow through half the labyrinth; and sat pinching
the corner of her apron, with a vague idea that perhaps he was not so
bad as was supposed; but what would happen if her master should find
him there?   She never looked up, nor made any answer, till he began to
give her a piteous account of his condition; how he did not know where
to turn, nor what to do; and was gradually beginning to sell off his
'little wardrobe to purchase the necessaries of life.'  Then the
contrast began to tell on her soft heart, and she looked up with a
sound of compassion.

In the wreck of his fortunes and hopes, he had thought of her; he knew
she had too generous a spirit to crush a wretch trodden down by
adversity, who had loved her truly, and who had once had some few hopes
of requital.  Those were, alas! at an end; yet still he saw that
'woman, lovely woman, in our hours of ease'--And here he stumbled in
his quotation, but the fact was, that his hopes being blasted in
England, he had decided on trying his fortune in another hemisphere;
but, unfortunately, he had not even sufficient means to pay for a
passage of the humblest description, and if he could venture to entreat
for a--in fact, a loan--it should be most faithfully and gratefully
restored the moment the fickle goddess should smile on him.

Charlotte felt a gleam of joy at the prospect of getting rid of him on
any terms.  She belonged to a class who seldom find the golden mean in
money matters, being either exceedingly close and saving, or else
lavish either on themselves or other people.  Good old Jane had never
succeeded in saving; all her halfpence went to the beggars, and all her
silver melted into halfpence, or into little presents; and on the
receipt of her wages, she always rushed on to the shop like a child
with a new shilling.  Reading had given Charlotte a few theories on the
subject, but her practice had not gone far.  She always meant to put
into the savings' bank; but hiring books, and daintiness, though not
finery, in dress, had prevented her means from ever amounting to a sum,
in her opinion, worth securing.  The spirit of economy in the household
had so far infected her that she had, in spite of her small wages, more
in hand than ever before, and when she found what Mr. Delaford wanted,
a strange mixture of feelings actuated her.  She pitied the change in
his fortunes; she could not but be softened by his flattering
sayings,--she could not bear that he should not have another chance of
retrieving his character--she knew she had trifled unjustifiably with
his feelings, if he had any,--and she had a sense of being in fault.
And so the little maiden ran upstairs, peeped into her red-leather
work-box, pulled out her bead-purse, and extracted therefrom three
bright gold sovereigns, and ran downstairs again, trembling at her own
venturesomeness, afraid that their voices might be heard.  She put the
whole before Delaford, saying--

'There--that is all that lays in my power.  Don't mention it, pray.
Now, please go, and a happy journey to you.'

How she wished his acknowledgments and faithful promises were over! He
did hint something about refreshment, bread-and-cheese and beer, fare
which he used to despise as 'decidedly low,' but Charlotte was obdurate
here, and at last he took his leave.  There stood the poor, foolish,
generous little thing, raking out the last embers of the kitchen fire,
conscious that she had probably done the silliest action of her life,
very much ashamed, and afraid of any one knowing it; and yet strangely
light of heart, as if she had done something to atone for the past
permission that she had granted him to play with her vanity.

'Some day she might tell Tom all about it, and she did not think he
would be angry, for he knew what it was to have nowhere to go, and to
want to try for one more chance.'



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE CRASH.

  Late and early at employ;
    Still on thy golden stores intent;
    Thy summer in heaping and hoarding is spent,
  What thy winter will never enjoy.
                                     SOUTHEY.


'Stitch! stitch!' said James Frost, entering the nursery on a fine
August evening, and finding his wife with the last beams of sunshine
glistening on her black braids of hair, as she sat singing and working
beside the cot where slept, all tossed and rosy, the yearling child.
'Stitch! stitch!  If I could but do needlework!'

'Ah!' said Isabel, playfully, lifting up a sweeter face than had ever
been admired in Miss Conway, 'if you will make your kittens such little
romps, what would you have but mending?'

'Is it my fault?  I am very sorry I entailed such a business on you.
You were at that frock when I went to evening prayers at the Union, and
it is not mended yet.'

'Almost; and see what a perfect performance it is, all the spots
joining as if they had never been rent.  I never was so proud of
anything as of my mending capabilities.  Besides, I have not been doing
it all the time: this naughty little Fanny was in such a laughing mood,
that she would neither sleep herself nor let the rest do so; and Kitty
rose up out of her crib, and lectured us all.  Now, don't wake
them--no, you must not even kiss the twin cherries; for if they have
one of papa's riots, they will hardly sleep all night.'

'Then you must take me away; it is like going into a flower-garden, and
being told not to gather.'

'Charlotte is almost ready to come to them, and in the meantime here is
something for you to criticise,' said she, taking from the recess of
her matronly workbasket a paper with a pencilled poem, on the Martyrs
of Carthage, far more terse and expressive than anything she used to
write when composition was the object of the day.  James read and
commented, and was disappointed when they broke off short-- 'Ah! there
baby woke.'

'Some day I shall give you a subject.  Do you know how Sta. Francesca
Romana found in letters of gold the verse of the Psalm she had been
reading, and from which she had been five times called away to attend
to her household duties?'

'I thought you were never to pity me again--'

'Do you call that pitying you?'

'Worse,' said Isabel, smiling.

'Well, then, what I came for was to ask if you can put on your bonnet,
and take a walk in the lanes this lovely evening.'

A walk was a rare treat to the busy mother, and, with a look of
delight, she consented to leave her mending and her children to
Charlotte.  There seldom were two happier beings than that pair, as
they wandered slowly, arm-in-arm, in the deep green lanes, in the
summer twilight, talking sometimes of the present, sometimes of the
future, but with the desultory, vague speculation of those who feared
little because they knew how little there was to fear.

'It is well they are all girls,' said James, speaking of that constant
topic, the children;  'we can manage their education pretty well, I
flatter myself, by the help of poor Clara's finishing governess, as
Louis used to call you.'

'If the edge of my attainments be not quite rusted off.  Meantime, you
teach Kitty, and I teach nothing.'

'You don't lose your singing.  Your voice never used to be so sweet.'

'It keeps the children good.  But you should have seen Kitty chaunting
'Edwin and Angelina' to the twins this morning, and getting up an
imitation of crying at 'turn Angelina, ever dear,' because, she said,
Charlotte always did.'

'That is worth writing to tell Fitzjocelyn!  It will be a great
disappointment if they have to stay abroad all this winter; but he
seems to think it the only chance of his father getting thoroughly
well, so I suppose there is little hope of him.  I should like for him
to see Kitty as she is now, she is so excessively droll!'

'Yes; and it must be a great deprivation to have to leave all his farm
to itself, just as it is looking so well; only he makes himself happy
with whatever he is doing.'

'How he would enjoy this evening!  I never saw more perfect rest!'

'Yes;--the sounds of the town come through the air in a hush! and the
very star seems to twinkle quietly!'

They stood still without speaking to enjoy that sense of stillness and
refreshment, looking up through the chestnut boughs that overshadowed
the deep dewy lane, where there was not air enough even to waft down
the detached petals of the wild rose.

'Such moments as these must be meant to help one on,' said James, 'to
hinder daily life from running into drudgery.'

'And it is so delightful to have a holiday given, now and then, instead
of having a life all holiday.  Ah! there's a glow-worm--look at the
wonder of that green lamp!'

'I must show it to Kitty,' said James, taking it up on a cushion of
moss.

'Her acquaintance will begin earlier than mine.  Do you remember
showing me my first glow-worm at Beauchastel?  I used to think that the
gem of my walks, before I knew better.  It is a great treat to have
poor Walter here in the holidays, so good and pleasant; but I must say
one charm is the pleasure of being alone together afterwards.'

'A pleasure it is well you do not get tired of, my dear, and I am
afraid it will soon be over for the present.  I do believe that is
Richardson behind us!  An attorney among the glow-worms is more than I
expected.'

'Good evening, sir,' said the attorney, coming up with them; 'is Mrs.
Frost braving the dew?'  And then, after some moments, 'Have you heard
from your sister lately, Mr. Frost?'

'About three weeks ago.'

'She did not mention then,' said Mr. Richardson, hesitating, 'Mr.
Dynevor's health?'

'No!  Have you heard anything?'

'I thought you might wish to be aware of what I learnt from, I fear,
too good authority.  It appears that Mr. Dynevor paid only a part of
the purchase-money of the estate, giving security for the rest on his
property in Peru; and now, owing to the failure of the Equatorial Steam
Navigation Company, Mr. Dynevor is, I fear, actually insolvent.'

'Did you say he was ill?'

'I heard mentioned severe illness--paralytic affection; but as you have
not heard from Miss Clara, I hope it may be of no importance.'

After a few more inquiries, and additional information being elicited,
good-nights were exchanged, and Mr. Richardson passed on. At first
neither spoke, till Isabel said--

'And Clara never wrote!'

'She would identify herself too much with her uncle in his misfortune.
Poor dear child! what may she not be undergoing!'

'You will go to her?'

'I must.  Whether my uncle will forgive me or not, to Clara I must go.
Shall I write first?'

'Oh! no; it will only make a delay, and your uncle might say 'don't
come.''

'Right; delay would prolong her perplexities.  I will go to-morrow, and
Mr. Holdsworth will see to the workhouse people.'

His alert air showed how grateful was any excuse that could take him to
Clara, the impulse of brotherly love coming uppermost of all his
sensations.  Then came pity for the poor old man whose cherished design
had thus crumbled, and the anxious wonder whether he would forgive, and
deign to accept sympathy from his nephew.

'My dear,' said James, doubtfully; 'supposing, what I hardly dare to
imagine, that he should consent, what should you say to my bringing him
here?

'I believe it would make you happy,' said Isabel.  'Oh! yes, pray
do--and then we should have Clara.'

'I should rejoice to offer anything like reparation, though I do not
dare to hope it will be granted; and I do not know how to ask you to
break up the home comfort we have prized so much.'

'It will be all the better comfort for your mind being fully at ease;
and I am sure we should deserve none at all, if we shut our door
against him now that he is in distress.  You must bring him, poor old
man, and I will try with all my might to behave well to him.'

'It is a mere chance; but I am glad to take your consent with me. As to
our affording it, I suppose he may have, at the worst, an allowance
from the creditors, so you will not have to retrench anything.'

'Don't talk of that, dearest.  We never knew how little we could live
on till we tried; and if No. 12 is taken, and you are paid for the new
edition of the lectures, and Walter's pay besides--'

'And Sir Hubert,' added James.

'Of course we shall get on,' said Isabel.  'I am not in the least
afraid that the little girls will suffer, if they do live a little
harder for the sake of their old uncle.  I only wish you had had your
new black coat first, for I am afraid you won't now.'

'You need not reckon on that.  I don't expect that I shall be allowed
the comfort of doing anything for him.  But see about them I must. Oh,
may I not be too late!'

Early the next morning James was on his way, travelling through the
long bright summer day; and when, after the close, stifling railway
carriage, full of rough, loud-voiced passengers, he found himself in
the cool of the evening on the bare heath, where the slanting sunbeams
cast a red light, he was reminded by every object that met his eye of
the harsh and rebellious sensations that he had allowed to reign over
him at his last arrival there, which had made him wrangle over the bier
of one so loving and beloved, and exaggerate the right till it wore the
semblance of the wrong.

By the time he came to the village, the parting light was shining on
the lofty church tower, rising above the turmoil and whirl of the
darkening world below, almost as sacred old age had lifted his
grandmother into perpetual peace and joy, above the fret and vexation
of earthly cares and dissensions.  The recollection of her confident
trust that reconciliation was in store, came to cheer him as he crossed
the park, and the aspect of the house assured him that at least he was
not again too late.

The servant who answered the bell said that Mr. Dynevor was very ill,
and Miss Dynevor could see no one.  James sent in his card, and stood
in an agony of impatience, imagining all and more than all he deserved,
to have taken place--his uncle either dying, or else forcibly
withholding his sister from him.

At last there was a hurried step, and the brother and sister were
clasping each other in speechless joy.

'O Jem! dear Jem! this is so kind!' cried Clara, as with arms round
each other they crossed the hall.  'Now I don't care for anything!'

'My uncle?'

'Much better,' said Clara; 'he speaks quite well again, and his foot is
less numb.'

'Was it paralysis?'

'Yes; brought on by trouble and worry of mind.  But how did you know,
Jem?'

'Richardson told me.  Oh, Clara, had I offended too deeply for you to
summon me?'

'No, indeed,' said Clara, pressing his arm, 'I knew you would help us
as far as you could; but to throw ourselves on you would be robbing the
children, so I wanted to have something fixed before you heard.'

'My poor child, what could be fixed?'

'You gave me what is better than house and land,' said Clara.  'I wrote
to Miss Brigham; she will give me employment in the school till I can
find a place as daily governess, and she is to take lodgings for us.'

'And is this what it has come to, my poor Clara?'

'Oh, don't pity me! my heart has felt like an India-rubber ball ever
since the crash.  Even poor Uncle Oliver being so ill could not keep me
from feeling as if the burthen were off my back, and I were little
Clara Frost again.  It seemed to take away the bar between us; and so
it has!  O Jem! this is happiness.  Tell me of Isabel and the babies.'

'You will come home to them.  Do you think my uncle would consent?'

She answered with an embrace, a look of rapture and of doubt, and then
a negative.  'Oh, no, we cannot be a burthen on you.  You have quite
enough on your hands.  And, oh! you have grown so spare and thin.  I
mean to maintain my uncle, if--' and her spirited bearing softened into
thoughtfulness, as if the little word conveyed that she meant not to be
self-confident.

'But, Clara, is this actual ruin?  I know only what Richardson could
tell me.'

'I do not fully understand,' said Clara.  'It had been plain for a long
time that something was on Uncle Oliver's mind; he was so restless all
the winter at Paris, and at last arranged our coming home very
suddenly.  I think he was disappointed in London, for he went out at
once, and came back very much discomposed.  He even scolded me for not
having married; and when I tried to coax him out of it, he said it was
for my good, and he wanted to see after his business in Peru.  I put
him in mind how dear granny had begged him to stay at home; but he told
me I knew nothing about it, and that he would have gone long ago if I
had not been an obstinate girl, and had known how to play my cards.  I
said something about going home, but that made him more furious than
ever.  But, after all, it is not fair to tell all about the last few
months.  Dr. Hastings says his attack had been a long time coming on,
and he must have been previously harassed.'

'And you had to bear with it all?'

'He was never unkind.  Oh, no; but it was sad to see him so miserable,
and not to know why--and so uncertain, too!  Sometimes he would insist
on giving grand parties, and yet he was angry with the expense of my
poor little pony-carriage.  I don't think he always quite knew what he
was about; and while he hoped to pull through, I suppose he was afraid
of any one guessing at his embarrassments.  On this day fortnight he
was reading his letters at breakfast--I saw there was something amiss,
and said something stupid about the hot rolls, because he could not
bear me to notice.  I think that roused him, for he got up, but he
tottered, and by the time I came to him he seemed to slip down into my
arms, quite insensible.  The surgeon in the village bled him, and he
came to himself, but could not speak. I had almost sent for you then,
but Dr. Hastings came, and thought he would recover, and I did not
venture.  Indeed, Jane forbade me; she is a sort of lioness and her
whelps.  Well, the next day came Mr. Morrison, who is the Mr.
Richardson to this concern, and by-and-by he asked to see me.  He kept
the doctor in the next room.  I believe he thought I should faint or
make some such performance, for he began about his painful duty, and
frightened me lest my poor uncle should be worse, only he was not the
right man to tell me.  So at last it came out that we were ruined, and
I was not an heiress at all, at all!  If it had not been for poor Uncle
Oliver, I should have cried 'Hurrah!'  I did nearly laugh to hear him
complimenting my firmness. I believe the history is this:--Hearing that
this place was for sale, brought Uncle Oliver home before his affairs
could well do without him.  He paid half the price, and promised to pay
the rest in three years, giving security on the mines and the other
property in Peru; but somehow the remittances have never come properly,
and he trusted to some great success with the Equatorial Company to set
things straight, but it seems that it has totally failed, and that was
the news that overthrew him.  Then the creditors, who had been put off
with hopes, all came down on him together, and there seems to be
nothing to be done but to give up everything to them.  Poor Uncle
Oliver!--I sat watching him that evening, and thinking how Louis would
say the sea had swept away his whole sand castle with one wave.'

'Does he know it?  Have any steps been taken?'

'Mr. Morrison showed me what my poor uncle had done.  He had really
executed a deed giving me the whole estate; he would have borne all the
disgrace and persecution himself--for you know it would have been a
most horrible scrape, as he had given them security on property that
was not really secure.  Mr. Morrison said the deed would hold, and that
he would bring me counsel's opinion if I liked.  But, oh, Jem!  I was
so thankful that my birthday was over, and I was my own woman!  I made
him draw up a paper, and I signed it, undertaking that they shall have
quiet possession provided they will come to an amicable settlement, and
not torment my uncle.'

'I hope he is a man of sense, who will make the best terms?'

'You may see to that now.  I'm sure he is a man of compliments.  He
tells me grand things about my disinterestedness, and the creditors and
they have promised to let us stay unmolested as long as I please, which
will be only till my uncle can move, for I must get rid of all these
servants and paraphernalia, and in the meantime they are concocting the
amicable adjustment, and Mr. Morrison said he should try to stipulate
for a maintenance for my uncle, but he was not sure of it, without
giving up what may yet come from Peru.  Jane's annuity is safe--that is
a comfort!  What work I had to make her believe it! and now she wants
us all to live upon it.'

'That was a rare and beautiful power by which my grandmother infused
such faithful love into all her dependants.  But now for the person
really to be pitied.'

'It was only three days ago that it was safe to speak of it, but then
he had grown so anxious that the doctors said I must begin.  So I
begged and prayed him to forgive me, and then told what I had done, and
he was not so very angry.  He only called me a silly child, and said I
did not know what I had done in those few days that I had been left to
myself.  So I told him dear granny had had it, and that was all that
signified, and that I never had any right here.  Then,' said Clara,
tearfully, 'he began to cry like a child, and said at least she had
died in her own home, and he called me Henry's child: and then Jane
came and turned me out, and wont let me go near him unless I promise to
be good and say nothing.  But I must soon; for however she pats him,
and says, 'Don't, Master Oliver,' I see his mind runs on nothing else,
and the doctor says he may soon hear the plans, and be moved.'

'Can you venture to tell him that I am here?'

Before Clara could answer, Jane opened the door--'Miss Clara, your
uncle;' and there she stopped, at the unexpected sight of the brother
and sister still hand in hand.  'Here, Jane, do you see him?' cried
Clara; and James came forward with outstretched hand, but he was not
graciously received.

'Now, Master James, you ain't coming here to worrit your poor uncle?'

'No, indeed, Jane.  I am come in the hope of being of some use to him.'

'I'd rather by half it had been Lord Fitzjocelyn,' muttered Jane, 'he
was always quieter.'

'Now, Jane, you should not be so cross,' cried Clara, 'when it is your
own Jemmy, come on purpose to help and comfort us all!  You are going
to tell Uncle Oliver, and make him glad to see him, as you know you
are.'

'I know,' said James, 'that last time I was here, I behaved ill enough
to make you dread my presence, Jane; but I have learnt and suffered a
good deal since that time, and I wish for nothing so much as for my
uncle's pardon.'

Mrs. Beckett would have been more impressed, had she ever ceased to
think of Master Jemmy otherwise than as a self-willed but candid boy;
and she answered as if he had been throwing himself on her mercy after
breaking a window, or knocking down Lord Fitzjocelyn--

'Well, sir, that is all you can say.  I'm glad you are sorry.  I'll see
if I can mention, it to your uncle.'

Off trotted Jane, while Clara's indignation and excited spirits
relieved themselves by a burst of merry laughter, as she hung about her
brother, and begged to hear of the dear old home.

The old servant, in her simplicity, went straight upstairs, and up to
her nursling, as he had again become.  'Master Oliver,' said she, 'he
is come.  Master Jem is come back, and 'twould do your heart good to
see how happy the children are together--just like you and poor Master
Henry.'

'Did she ask him here?' said Mr. Dynevor, uneasily.

'No, sir, he came right out of his own head, because he thought she
would feel lost.'

Oliver vouchsafed no reply, and Jane pressed no farther.  He never
alluded to his guest; but when Clara came into the room, his eye dwelt
on her countenance of bright content and animation, and the smiles that
played round her lips as she sat silent.  Her voice was hushed in the
sick-room, but he heard it about the house with the blithe, lively ring
that had been absent from it since he carried her away from Northwold;
and her steps danced upstairs, and along the galleries, with the light,
bounding tread unknown to the constrained, dignified Miss Dynevor.  Ah
the notice he took that night was to say, petulantly, when Clara was
sitting with him, 'Don't stay here; you want to be down-stairs.'

'Oh, no, dear uncle, I am come to stay with you.  I don't want, in the
least, to be anywhere but here.'

He seemed pleased, although he growled; and next morning Jane reported
that he had been asking for how long his nephew had come, and saying he
was glad that Miss Dynevor had someone to look after her--a sufferance
beyond expectation.  In his helpless state, Jane had resumed her
nursery relations with him; and he talked matters over with her so
freely that it was well that the two young people were scarcely less
her children, and had almost an equal share of her affection, so that
Clara felt that matters might be safely trusted in her hands.

Clara's felicity could hardly be described, with her fond affections
satisfied by her brother's presence, and her fears of managing ill,
removed by reliance on him; and many as were the remaining cases, and
great as was the suspense lest her uncle should still nourish
resentment, nothing could overcome the sense of restored joy ever
bubbling up, not even the dread that James might not bear patiently
with continued rebuffs.  But James was so much more gentle and tolerant
than she had ever known him, that at first she could not understand
missing the retort, the satire, the censure which had seemed an
essential part of her brother.  She was always instinctively guarding
against what never happened, or if some slight demonstration flashed
out, he caught himself up, and asked pardon before she had perceived
anything, till she began to think marriage had altered him wonderfully,
and almost to owe Isabel a grudge for having cowed his spirit.  She
could hardly believe that he was waiting so patiently in the guise of a
suppliant, when she thought him in the right from the first; though she
could perceive that the task was easier now that the old man was in
adversity, and she saw that he regarded his exclusion from his uncle's
room in the light of a just punishment, to be endured with humility.

James, on his side, was highly pleased with his sister.  Having only
seen her as the wild, untamed Giraffe, he was by no means prepared for
the dignity and decision with which Miss Dynevor reigned over the
establishment.  Her tall figure, and the simple, straightforward ease
of her movements and manners, seemed made to grace those large, lofty
rooms; and as he watched her playing the part of mistress of the house
so naturally in the midst of the state, the servants, the silver
covers, and the trappings, he felt that heiress-ship became her so
well, that he could hardly believe that her tenure there was over, and
unregretted.  'Even Isabel could not do it better,' he said, smiling;
and she made a low curtsey for the compliment, and laughed back, 'I'm
glad you have come to see my performance.  It has been a very long,
dull pageant, and here comes Mr. Morrison, I hope with the last act.'

Morrison was evidently much relieved that Miss Dynevor should have some
relative to advise with, since he did not like the responsibility of
her renunciation, though owning that it was the only thing that could
save her uncle from disgraceful ruin, and perhaps from prosecution;
whereas now the gratitude and forbearance of the creditors were
secured, and he hoped that Mr. Dynevor might be set free from the
numerous English involvements, without sacrificing his remaining
property in Peru.  The lawyer seemed to have no words to express to
James his sense of Miss Dynevor's conduct in the matter, her
promptitude and good sense having apparently struck him as much as her
generosity, and there was no getting him to believe, as Clara wished,
that the sacrifice was no sacrifice at all--nothing, as she said, but
'common honesty and a great riddance.'  He promised to take steps in
earnest for the final settlement with the creditors; and though still
far from the last act, Clara began to consider of hastening her plans.
It was exceedingly doubtful whether Oliver would hear of living at
Dynevor Terrace, and Clara could not be separated from him; besides
which, she was resolved that her brother should not be burthened, and
she would give James no promises, conditional or otherwise.

Mr. Dynevor had discovered that Morrison had been in the house, and was
obviously restless to know what had taken place.  By-and-by he said to
Jane, with an air of inquiry, 'Why does not the young man come near me?'

Mrs. Beckett was too happy to report the invitation, telling 'Master
Jem' at the same time that 'he was not to rake up nothing gone and
past; there was quite troubles enough for one while.'  Clara thought
the same, and besides was secretly sure that if he admitted that he had
been wrong in part, his uncle would imagine him to mean that he had
been wrong in the whole.  Their instructions and precautions were
trying to James, whose chaplaincy had given him more experience of the
sick and the feeble than they gave him credit for; but he was patient
enough to amaze Clara and pacify Jane, who ushered him into the
sick-chamber.  There, even in his worst days, he must have laid aside
ill-feeling at the aspect of the shrunken, broken figure in the
pillowed arm-chair, prematurely aged, his hair thin and white, his face
shrivelled, his eyelid drooping, and mouth contracted.  He was still
some years under sixty; but this was the result of toil and climate--of
the labour generously designed, but how conducted, how resulting?

He had not learned to put out his left hand--he only made a sharp nod,
as James, with tender and humble respect, approached, feeling that, how
his grandmother was gone, this frail old man, his father's brother, was
the last who claimed by right his filial love and gratitude.  How
different from the rancour and animosity with which he had met his
former advances!

He ventured gently on kindly hopes that his uncle was better, and they
were not ill taken, though not without fretfulness. Presently Oliver
said, 'Come to look after your sister?  that's right--good girl, good
girl!'

'That she is!' exclaimed James, heartily.

'Too hasty! too great hurry,' resumed Oliver; 'she had better have
waited, saved the old place,--never mind what became of the old man,
one-half dead already.'

'She would not have been a Clara good for much, if she had treated you
after that fashion, sir,' said James, smiling.

He gave his accustomed snort.  'The mischief a girl let alone can do in
three days, when once she's of age, and one can't stop her!  Women
ought never to come of age, ain't fit for it, undo all the work of my
lifetime with a stroke of her pen!'

'For your sake, sir!'

'Pshaw!  Pity but she'd been safe married--tied it up well with
settlements then out of her power.  Can't think what that young
Fitzjocelyn was after--it ain't the old affair.  Ponsonby writes me
that things are to be settled as soon as Ward comes back.'

'Indeed!'

'Aye, good sort of fellow--no harm to have him in our concerns--I hope
he'll look into the accounts, and find what Robson is at.  After all, I
shall soon be out there myself, and make Master Robson look about him.
Mad to allow myself to stay--but I'll wait no longer. Morrison may put
the fellows off'--I'll give him a hint; we'll save the place, after
all, when I once get out to Lima.  If only I knew what to do with that
girl!'

James could not look at him without a conviction that he would never
recover the use of his hand and foot; but this was no time to
discourage his spirits, and the answer was--'My sister's natural home
would be with me.'

'Ha! the child would like it, I suppose.  I'd make a handsome allowance
for her.  I shall manage that when my affairs are in my own hands; but
I may as well write to the mountains as to Ponsonby.  Aye, aye!  Clara
might go to you.  She'll have enough any way to be quite worth young
Fitzjocelyn's while, you may tell him.  That mine in the San Benito
would retrieve all, and I'll not forget.  Pray, how many children have
you by this time?'

'Four little girls, sir,' said James, restraining the feeling which was
rising in the contact with his uncle, revealing that both were still
the same men.

'Hm!  No time lost, however!  Well, we shall see!  Any way, an
allowance for Clara's board won't hurt.  What's your notion?'

James's notion was profound pity for the poor old man.  'Indeed, sir,'
he said, 'Clara is sure to be welcome.  All we wish is, that you would
kindly bring her to us at once.  Perhaps you would find the baths of
service; we would do our utmost to make you comfortable, and we are not
inhabiting half the house, so that there would be ample space to keep
the children from inconveniencing you.'

'Clara is set on it, I'll warrant.'

'Clara waits to be guided by your wishes; but my wife and I should
esteem it as the greatest favour you could do us.'

'Ha! we'll see what I can manage.  I must see Morrison'--and he fell
into meditation, presently breaking from it to say fretfully, 'I say,
Roland, would you reach me that tumbler?'

Never had James thought to be grateful for that name!  He would gladly
have been Roland Dynevor for the rest of his days, if he could have
left behind him the transgressions of James Frost!  But the poor man's
shattered thoughts had been too long on the stretch; and, without
further ceremony, Jane came in and dismissed his nephew.

Clara hardly trusted her ears when she was told shortly after, by her
uncle, that they were to go to Northwold.  Roland wished it; and, poor
fellow! the board and lodging were a great object to him.  He seemed to
have come to his senses now it was too late; and if Clara wished it,
and did not think it dull, there she might stay while he himself was
gone to Lima.

'A great object the other way,' Clara had nearly cried, in her
indignation that James could not be supposed disinterested in an
invitation to an old man, who probably was destitute.

Brother and uncle appeared to have left her out of the consultation;
but she was resolved not to let him be a burthen on those who had so
little already, and she called her old friend Jane to take counsel with
her, whether it would not be doing them an injury to carry him thither
at all.  So much of Jane's heart as was not at Cheveleigh was at
Dynevor Terrace, and her answer was decided.

'To be sure, Miss Clara, nothing couldn't be more natural.'

'Nothing, indeed, but I can't put them to trouble and expense.'

'I'll warrant,' said Jane, 'that I'll make whatever they have go twice
as far as Charlotte ever will.  Why, you know I keeps myself; and for
the rest, it will be a mere saving to have me in the kitchen! There's
no air so good for Master Oliver.'

'I see you mean to go, Jane,' said Clara.  'Now, I have to look out for
myself.'

'Bless me, Miss Clara, don't you do nothing in a hurry.  Go home quiet
and look about you.'

Jane had begun to call Northwold home; and, in spite of her mournings
over the old place, Clara thought she had never been so happy there as
in her present dominion over Master Oliver, and her prospects of her
saucepans and verbenas at No. 5.

Poor Oliver! what a scanty measure of happiness had his lifelong
exertions produced!  Many a human sacrifice has been made to a grim and
hollow idol, failing his devotees in time of extremity.  Had it not
been thus with Oliver Dynevor's self-devotion to the honour of his
family?



CHAPTER XIX.

FAREWELL TO GREATNESS.

  Soon from the halls my fathers reared
  Their scutcheons must descend.
                                   Scott


Mr. Holdsworth contrived to set James at liberty for a fortnight, and
he was thus enabled to watch over the negotiation, and expedite matters
for the removal.  The result was, that the resignation of the estate,
furniture, and of Clara's jewels, honourably cleared off the debts
contracted in poor Mr. Dynevor's eagerness to reinstate the family in
all its pristine grandeur, and left him totally dependent on whatever
might be rescued in Peru.  He believed this to be considerable, but the
brother and sister founded little hopes on the chance; as, whatever
there might be, had been entangled in the Equatorial Company, and
nothing could be less comprehensible than Mr. Robson's statements.

Clara retained her own seventy pounds per annum, which, thrown into the
common stock, would, James assured her, satisfy him, in a pecuniary
point of view, that he was doing no wrong to his children; though he
added, that even if there had been nothing, he did not believe they
would ever be the worse for what might be spent on their infirm old
uncle.

Notice was sent to Isabel to prepare, and she made cordial reply that
the two rooms on the ground-floor were being made ready for Mr.
Dynevor, and Clara's own little room being set in order; Miss Mercy
Faithfull helping with all her might, and little Kitty stamping about,
thinking her services equally effectual.

Oliver was in haste to leave a place replete with disappointment and
failure, and was so helpless and dependent as to wish for his nephew's
assistance on the journey; and it was, therefore, fixed for the end of
James's second week.  No one called to take leave, except the Curate
and good Mr. Henderson, who showed Clara much warm, kind feeling, and
praised her to her brother.

She begged James to walk with her for a farewell visit to her
grandmother's other old friend.  Great was her enjoyment of this
expedition; she said she had not had a walk worth having since she was
at Aix-la-Chapelle, and liberty and companionship compensated for all
the heat and dust in the dreary tract, full of uncomfortable
shabby-genteel abodes, and an unpromising population.

'One cannot regret such a tenantry,' said Clara.

'Poor creatures!' said James.  'I wonder into whose hands they will
fall.  Your heart may be free, Clara; you have followed the clear path
of duty; but it is a painful thought for me, that to strive to amend
these festering evils, caused very likely by my grandfather's
speculations, might have been my appointed task.  I should not have had
far to seek for occupation.  When I was talking to the Curate
yesterday, my heart smote me to think what I might have done to help
him.'

'It would all have been over now.'

'It ought not.  Nay, perhaps, my presence might have left my uncle free
to attend to his own concerns.'

'I really believe you are going to regret the place!'

'After all, Clara, I was a Dynevor before my uncle came home.  It might
have been my birthright.  But, as Isabel says, what we are now is far
more likely to be safe for the children.  I was bad enough as I was,
but what should I have been as a pampered heir!  Let it go.'

'Yes, let it go,' said Clara; 'it has been little but pain to me.  We
shall teach my poor uncle that home love is better than old family
estates.  I almost wish he may recover nothing in Peru, that he may
learn that you receive him for his own sake.'

'That is more than I can wish,' said James.  'A hundred or two a-year
would come in handily.  Besides, I am afraid that Mary Ponsonby may be
suffering in this crash.'

'She seems to have taken care of herself,' said Clara.  'She does not
write to me, and I am almost ready to believe her father at last.  I
could not have thought it of her!'

'Isabel has always said it was the best thing that could happen to
Louis.'

'Isabel never had any notion of Louis.  I don't mean any offence, but
if she had known what he was made of, she would never have had you.'

'Thank you, Clara!  I always thought it an odd predilection, but no one
can now esteem Fitzjocelyn more highly than ahe does.'

'Very likely; but if she thinks Louis can stand Mary's deserting him--'

'It will be great pain, no doubt; but once over, he will be free.'

'It never will be over.'

'That is young-ladyism.'

'I never was a young lady, and I know what I mean.  Mary may not be all
he thinks her, and she may be dull enough to let her affection wear
out; but I do not believe he will ever look at any one again, as he did
after Mary on your wedding-day.'

'So you forbid him to be ever happy again!'

'Not at all, only in that one way.  There are many others of being
happy.'

'That one way meaning marriage.'

'I mean that sort of perfect marriage that, according to the saying, is
made in heaven.  Whether that could have been with Mary, I do not know
her well enough to guess; but I am convinced that he will always have
the same kind of memory of her that a man has of a first love, or first
wife.'

'It may have been a mistake to drive him into the attachment, which
Isabel thinks has been favoured by absence, leaving scope for
imagination; but I cannot give up the hope that his days of happiness
are yet to come.'

'Nor do I give up Mary, yet,' said Clara.  'Till she announces her
defection I shall not believe it, for it would be common honesty to
inform poor Louis, and in that she never was deficient.'

'It is not a plant that seems to thrive on the Peruvian soil.'

'No; and I am dreadfully afraid for Tom Madison.  There were hints
about him in Mr. Ponsonby's letters, which make me very anxious; and
from what my uncle says, it seems that there is such an atmosphere of
gambling and trickery about his office, that he thinks it a matter of
course that no one should be really true and honest.'

'That would be a terrible affair indeed!  I don't know for which I
should be most concerned, Louis or our poor little Charlotte.  But
after all, Clara, we have known too many falsehoods come across the
Atlantic, to concern ourselves about anything without good reason.'

So they talked, enjoying the leisure the walk gave them for
conversation, and then paying the painful visit, when Clara tried in
vain to make it understood by the poor old lady that she was going
away, and that James was her brother.  They felt thankful that such
decay had been spared their grandmother, and Clara sighed to think that
her uncle might be on the brink of a like loss of faculties, and then
felt herself more than ever bound to him.

On the way home they went together to the church, and pondered over the
tombs of their ancestry,--ranging from the grim, defaced old knight,
through the polished brass, the kneeling courtier, and the dishevelled
Grief embracing an urn, down to the mural arch enshrining the dear
revered name of Catharine, daughter of Roland, and wife of James Frost
Dynevor, the last of her line whose bones would rest there.  Her grave
had truly been the sole possession that her son's labours had secured
for her; that grave was the only spot at Cheveleigh that claimed a pang
from Clara's heart.  She stood beside it with deep, fond, clinging love
and reverence, but with no painful recollections to come between her
and that fair, bright vision of happy old age.  Alas! for the memories
that her brother had sown to spring up round him now!

Apart from all these vipers of his own creating, James after all felt
more in the cession of Cheveleigh than did his sister.  These were days
of change and of feudal feeling wearing out; but James, long as he had
pretended to scorn 'being sentimental about his forefathers,' was
strongly susceptible of such impressions; and he was painfully
conscious of being disinherited.  He might have felt thus, without any
restoration or loss, as the mere effect of visiting his birthright as a
stranger; but, as he received all humbly instead of proudly, the
feeling did him no harm.  It softened him into sympathy with his uncle,
and tardy appreciation of his single-minded devotion to the estate,
which he had won not for himself, but for others, only to see it first
ungratefully rejected, and then snatched away.  Then, with a thrill of
humiliation at his own unworthiness, came the earnest prayer that it
might yet be vouchsafed to him to tend the exhausted body, and train
the contracted mind to dwell on that inheritance whence there could be
no casting out.

Poor Oliver was fretful and restless, insisting on being brought down
to his study to watch over the packing of his papers, and miserable at
being unable to arrange them himself.  Even the tenderest pity for him
could not prevent him from being an exceeding trial; and James could
hardly yet have endured it, but for pleasure and interest in watching
his sister's lively good-humour, saucy and determined when the old man
was unreasonable, and caressing and affectionate, when he was violent
in his impotence; never seeming to hear, see, or regard anything unkind
or unpleasant; and absolutely pleased and gratified when her uncle, in
his petulance, sometimes ungraciously rejected her services in favour
of those of 'Roland,' who, he took it for granted, must, as a man, have
more sense.  It would sometimes cross James, how would Isabel and the
children fare with this ill-humour; but he had much confidence in his
wife's sweet calm temper, and more in the obvious duty; and, on the
whole, he believed it was better not to think about it.

The suffering that the surrender cost Oliver was only shown in this
species of petty fractiousness, until the last morning, when his nephew
was helping him across the hall, and Clara close at his side, he made
them stand still beside one of the pillars, and groaned as he said,
'Here I waited for the carriage last time!  Here I promised to get it
back again!'

'I wish every one kept promises as you did,' said James, looking about
for something cheerful to say.

'I had hope then,' said Oliver; and well might he feel the contrast
between the youth, with such hopes, energies, and determination mighty
within him, and the broken and disappointed man.

'Hope yet, and better hope!' James could not help saying.

'Not while there's such a rascal in the office at Lima,' cried Oliver,
testily.

'Oh! Uncle Oliver, he did not mean that!' exclaimed Clara.

Mr. Dynevor grumbled something about parsons, which neither of them
chose to hear; and Clara cut it short by saying, 'After all, Uncle
Oliver, you have done it all!  Dear grandmamma came back and was happy
here, and that was all that signified.  You never wanted it for
yourself, you know, and my dear father was not here to have it.  And
for you, what could you have had more than your nephew and niece to--to
try to be like your children!  And hadn't you rather have them without
purchase than with?'  And as she saw him smile in answer to her bright
caress, she added merrily, 'There's nothing else to pity but the fir
trees and gold fish; and as they have done very happily before without
the Pendragon reign, I dare any they will again; so I can't be very
sorry for them!'

This was Clara's farewell to her greatness, and cheerily she enlivened
her uncle all the way to London, and tried to solace him after the
interviews that he insisted on with various men of business, and which
did not tend to make him stronger in health or spirits through the next
day's journey.

The engine whistled its arriving shriek at Northwold.  Happy Clara!
What was the summer rain to her?  Every house, every passenger, were
tokens of home; and the damp rain-mottled face of the Terrace, looking
like a child that had been crying, was more welcome to her longing eyes
than ever had been lake or mountain.

Isabel and little Catharine stood on the step; but as Mr. Dynevor was
lifted out, the little girl shrank out of sight with a childish awe of
infirmity.  The dining-room had been made a very comfortable
sitting-room for him, and till he was settled there, nothing else could
be attended to; but he was so much fatigued, that it was found best to
leave him entirely to Jane; and Clara, after a few moments, followed
her brother from the room.

As she shut the door, she stood for some seconds unobserved, and
unwilling to interfere with the scene before her.  Halfway upstairs,
James had been pulled down to sit on the steps, surrounded by his
delighted flock.  The baby was in his arms, flourishing her hands as he
danced her; Kitty, from above, had clasped tightly round his neck,
chattering and kissing with breathless velocity; one twin in front was
drumming on his knee, and shrieking in accordance with every shout of
the baby; and below, leaning on the balusters, stood their mother's
graceful figure, looking up at them with a lovely smiling face of
perfect gladness.  She was the first to perceive Clara; and, with a
pretty gesture to be silent, she pointed to the stand of the Wedgewood
jar, under which sat the other little maid, her two fat arms clasped
tight round her papa's umbrella, and the ivory handle indenting her
rosy cheek, as she fondled it in silent transport.

'My little Salome,' whispered Isabel, squeezing Clara's hand, 'our
quiet one.  She could not sleep for expecting papa, and now she is in a
fit of shy delight; she can't shout with the others; she can only nurse
his umbrella.'

Just then James made a desperate demonstration, amid peals of laughter
from his daughters.  'We are stopping the way!  Get out, you unruly
monsters!  Let go, Kitty--Mercy; I shall kick!  Mamma, catch this
ball;' making a feint of tossing the crowing Fanny at her.

Assuredly, thought Clara, pity was wasted; there was not one too many.
And then began the happy exulting introductions, and a laugh at little
Mercy, who stood blank and open-mouthed, gazing up and up her tall
aunt, as if there were no coming to the top of her.  Clara sat down on
the stairs, to bring her face to a level, and struck up a friendship
with her on the spot, while James lilted up his little Salome, her joy
still too deep and reserved for manifestation; only without a word she
nestled close to him, laid her head on his shoulder, and closed her
eyes, as if languid with excess of rapture--a pretty contrast to her
sister's frantic delight, which presently alarmed James lest it should
disturb his uncle, and he called them up-stairs.

But Clara must first run to the House Beautiful, and little Mercy must
needs come to show her the way, and trotted up before her,
consequentially announcing, 'Aunt Cara.'  Miss Faithfull alone was
present; and, without speaking, Clara dropped on the ground, laid her
head on her dear old friend's lap, and little Mercy exclaimed, in
wondering alarm, 'Aunt Cara naughty--Aunt Cara crying!'

'My darling,' said Miss Faithfull, as she kissed Clara's brow and
stroked her long flaxen hair, 'you have gone through a great deal. We
must try to make you happy in your poor old home.'

'Oh, no! oh, no!  It is happiness!  Oh! such happiness! but I don't
know what to do with it, and I want granny!'

She was almost like little Salome; the flood of bliss in returning
home, joined with the missing of the one dearest welcome, had come on
her so suddenly that she was almost stifled, till she had been calmed
and soothed by the brief interval of quiet with her dear old friend.
She returned to No. 5, there to find that her uncle was going to bed,
and Charlotte, pink and beautiful with delight, was running about in
attendance on Jane.  She went up straight to her own little room, which
had been set out exactly as in former times, so that she could feel as
if she had been not a day absent; and she lost not a moment in adding
to it all the other little treasures which made it fully like her own.
She looked out at the Ormersfield trees, and smiled to think how well
Louis's advice had turned out; and then she sighed, in the fear that it
might yet be her duty to leave home.  If her uncle could live without
her, she must tear herself away, and work for his maintenance.

However, for the present, she might enjoy to the utmost, and she
proceeded to the little parlour, which, to her extreme surprise, she
found only occupied by the four children--Kitty holding the youngest
upon her feet, till, at the new apparition, Fanny suddenly seated
herself for the convenience of staring.

'Are you all alone here!' exclaimed Clara.

'I am taking care of the little ones,' replied Kitty, with dignity.

'Where's mamma!'

'She is gone down to get tea.  Papa is gone to the Union; but we do not
mean to wait for him,' answered the little personage, with an air
capable, the more droll because she was on the smallest scale, of much
less substance than the round fat twins, and indeed chiefly
distinguishable from them by her slender neat shape; for the faces were
at first sight all alike, brown, small-featured, with large dark eyes,
and dark curly hair--Mercy, with the largest and most impetuous eyes,
and Salome with a dreamy look, more like her mother.  Fanny was in a
different style, and much prettier; but her contemplation ended in
alarm and inclination to cry, whereupon Kitty embraced her, and
consoled her like a most efficient guardian; then seeing Mercy becoming
rather rude in her familiarities with her aunt, held up her small
forefinger, and called out gravely, 'Mercy, recollect yourself!'

Wonders would never cease!  Here was Isabel coming up with the tea-tray
in her own hands!

'My dear, do you always do that?'

'No, only when Charlotte is busy; and,' as she picked up the baby, 'now
Kitty may bring the rest.'

So, in various little journeys, the miniature woman's curly head arose
above the loaf, and the butter-dish, and even the milk-jug, held
without spilling; while Isabel would have set out the tea-things with
one hand, if Clara had not done it for her; and the workhouse girl
finally appeared with the kettle.

Was this the same Isabel whom Clara last remembered with her baby in
her lap, beautiful and almost as inanimate as a statue?  There was
scarcely more change from the long-frocked infant to the bustling
important sprite, than from that fair piece of still life to the active
house-mother.  Unruffled grace was innate; every movement had a lofty,
placid deliberation and simplicity, that made her like a disguised
princess; and though her beauty was a little worn, what it had lost in
youth was far more than compensated by sweetness and animation.  The
pensive cast remained, but the dreaminess had sobered into thought and
true hope.  Her dress was an old handsome silk, frayed and worn, but so
becoming to her, that the fading was unnoticed in the delicate neatness
of the accompaniments.  And the dear old room!  It looked like a
cheerful habitation; but Clara's almost instant inquiry was for the
porcelain Arcadians, and could not think it quite as tidy and orderly
as it used to be in old times, when she was the only fairy Disorder.
'However, I'll see to that,' quoth she to herself.  And she gave
herself up to the happy tea-drinking, when James was welcomed by
another tumult, and was pinned down by Kitty and Salome on either
side--mamma making tea in spite of Fanny on her lap--Mercy adhering to
the new-comer--the eager conversation--Kitty thrusting in her little
oar, and being hushed by mamma--the grand final game at romps, ending
with Isabel carrying off her little victims, one by one, to bed; and
James taking the tea-tray down stairs.  Clara followed with other parts
of the equipage, and then both stood together warming themselves, and
gossiped over the dear old kitchen fire, till Isabel came down and
found them there. And then, before any of the grand news was discussed,
all the infant marvels of the last fortnight had to be detailed; and
the young parents required Clara's opinion whether they were spoiling
Kitty.

Next, Clara found her way to the cupboard, brought the shepherd and
shepherdess to light, looked them well over, and satisfied herself that
there was not one scar or wound on either--nay, it is not absolutely
certain that she did not kiss the damsel's delicate pink cheek--set
them up on the mantelpiece, promised to keep them in order, and stood
gazing at them till James accused her of regarding them as her penates!

'Why, Jem!' she said, turning on him, 'you are a mere recreant if you
can feel it like home without them!'

'I have other porcelain figures to depend on for a home!' said James.

'Take care, James!' said his wife, with the fond sadness of one whose
cup overflowed with happiness; 'Clara's shepherdess may look fragile,
but she has kept her youth and seen many a generation pass by of such
as you depend on!'

'She once was turned out of Cheveleigh, too, and has borne it as easily
as Clara,' said James, smiling.  'I suspect her worst danger is from
Fanny.  There's a lady who, I warn you, can never withstand Fanny!'

Isabel took up her own defence, and they laughed on.  Poor Uncle
Oliver! could he but have known how little all this had to do with
Cheveleigh!



CHAPTER XX.

WESTERN TIDINGS.

  O lady! worthy of earth's proudest throne!
  Nor less, by excellence of nature, fit
  Beside an unambitious hearth to sit
  Domestic queen, where grandeur is unknown--
  Queen and handmaid lowly.
                             WORDSWORTH.


A house in the Terrace was let, and the rent was welcome; and shortly
after, Clara had an affectionate letter from her old school-enemy, Miss
Salter, begging her to come as governess to her little brother,
promising that she should be treated like one of the family, and
offering a large salary.

Clara was much afraid that it was her duty to accept the proposal,
since her uncle seemed very fairly contented, and was growing very fond
of 'Roland,' and the payment would be so great an assistance, but James
and Isabel were strongly averse to it; and her conscience was satisfied
by Miss Mercy Faithfull's discovery of a family at the Baths in search
of a daily governess.

Miss Frost was not a person to be rejected, and in another week she
found herself setting out to breakfast with a girl and three boys,
infusing Latin, French, and geography all the forenoon, dining with
them, sometimes walking with them, and then returning to the merry
evening of Dynevor Terrace.

Mr. Dynevor endured the step pretty well.  She had ascendancy enough
over him always to take her own way, and he was still buoyed up by the
hope of recovering enough to rectify his affairs in Peru.  He was
better, though his right side remained paralysed, and Mr. Walby saw
little chance of restoration.  Rising late, and breakfasting slowly,
the newspaper and visits from James wiled away the morning.  He
preferred taking his meals alone; and after dinner was wheeled out in a
chair on fine days.  Clara came to him as soon as her day's work was
over; and, when he was well enough to bear it, the whole party were
with him from the children's bedtime till his own.  Altogether, the
invalid-life passed off pretty well.  He did not dislike the children,
and Kitty liked anything that needed to be waited on.  He took Clara's
services as a right, but was a little afraid of 'Mrs. Dynevor,' and
highly flattered by any attention from her; and with James his moods
were exceedingly variable, and often very trying, but, in general, very
well endured.

Peruvian mails were anticipated in the family with a feeling most akin
to dread.  The notice of a vessel coming in was the signal for
growlings at everything, from the post-office down to his dinner; and
the arrival of letters made things only worse.  As Clara said, the
galleons were taken by the pirates; the Equatorial Company seemed to be
doing the work of Caleb Balderston's thunderstorm, and to be bearing
the blame of a deficit such as Oliver could not charge on it. The whole
statement was backed by Mr. Ponsonby, whose short notes spoke of
indisposition making him more indebted than ever to the exertions of
Robson.  This last was gone to Guayaquil to attempt to clear up the
accounts of the Equatorial Company, leaving the office at Lima in the
charge of Madison and the new clerk, Ford; and Mr. Dynevor was promised
something decisive and satisfactory on his return.  Of Mary there was
no mention, except what might be inferred in a postscript:--'Ward is
expected in a few weeks.'

Mr. Dynevor was obliged to resign himself; and so exceedingly fractious
was he, that Clara had been feeling quite dispirited, when her brother
called her to tell her joyously that Lord Ormersfield and Louis were
coming home, and would call in on their way the next evening.  Those
wretched children must not take her for a walk.

Nevertheless, the wretched children did want to walk, and Clara could
not get home till half-an-hour after she knew the train must have come
in; and she found the visitors in her uncle's room.  Louis came forward
to the door to meet her, and shook her hand with all his heart, saying,
under his breath,

'I congratulate you!'

'Thank you!' she said, in the same hearty tone.

'And now, look at him! look at my father!  Have not we made a good
piece of work of keeping him abroad all the winter?  Does not he look
as well as ever he did in his life?'

This was rather strong, for Lord Ormersfield was somewhat grey, and a
little bent; but he had resumed all his look of health and vigour, and
was a great contrast to his younger, but far older-looking cousin.  He
welcomed Clara with his tone of courteous respect, and smiled at his
son's exultation, saying, Fitzjocelyn deserved all the credit, for he
himself had never thought to be so patched up again, and poor Oliver
was evidently deriving as much encouragement as if rheumatism had been
paralysis.

'I must look in at the House Beautiful,' said Louis, presently. 'Clara,
I can't lose your company.  Won't you come with me?'

Of course she came; and she divined why, instead of at once entering
the next house, he took a turn along the Terrace, and, after a pause,
asked, 'Clara, when did you last hear from Lima?'

'Not for a long time.  I suppose she is taken up by her father's
illness.'

He paused, collected himself, and asked again, 'Have you heard nothing
from your uncle?'

'Yes,' said Clara, sadly, 'but Louis,' she added, with a lively tone,
'what does not come from herself, I would not believe.'

'I do not.'

'That's right, don't be vexed when it may be nothing.'

'No; if she had found any one more worthy of her, she would not
hesitate in making me aware of it.  I ought to be satisfied, if she
does what is best for her own happiness.  Miss Ponsonby believes that
this is a man of sterling worth, probably suiting her better than I
might have done.  She was a good deal driven on by circumstances
before, and, perhaps, it was all a mistake on her side.'  And he tried
to smile.

Clara exclaimed that 'Mary could not have been all he had believed,
if--'

'No,' he said, 'she is all, and more than all.  I comprehend her better
now, and could have shown her that I do.  She has been the blessing of
my life so far, and her influence always will be so.  I shall always be
grateful to her, be the rest as it may, and I mean to live on hope to
the last.  Now for the good old ladies.  Really, Clara, the old Dynevor
Terrace atmosphere has come back, and there seems to be the same sort
of rest and cheering in coming into these old iron gates!  After all,
Isabel is growing almost worthy to be called Mrs. Frost.'  And in this
manner he talked on, up to the very door of the House Beautiful, as if
to cheat himself out of despondency.

'That was a very pretty meeting,' said Isabel to her husband, when no
witness was present but little Fanny.

'What, between his lordship and my uncle?'

'You know better.'

'My dear, your mother once tried match-making for Fitzjocelyn.  Be
warned by her example.'

'I am doing no such thing.  I am only observing what every one sees.'

'Don't be so common-place.'

'That's all disdain--you must condescend.  I have been hearing from Mr.
Dynevor of the excellent offers that Clara refused.'

'Do you think Uncle Oliver and Clara agree as to excellence?'

'Still,' continued Isabel, 'considering how uncomfortable she was, it
does not seem improbable that she would have married, unless some
attachment had steeled her heart and raised her standard.  I know she
was unconscious, but it was Fitzjocelyn who formed her.'

'He has been a better brother to her than I have been; but look only at
their perfect ease.'

'Now it is my belief that they were made for each other, and can
venture to find it out, since she is no longer an heiress, and he is
free from his Peruvian entanglement.'

'Fanny, do you hear what a scheming mamma you have?  I hope she will
have used it all upon Sir Hubert before you come out as the beauty of
the Terrace!'

'Well, I mean to sound Clara.'

'You had better leave it alone.'

'Do you forbid me?'

'Why, no, for I don't think you have the face to say anything that
would distress her, or disturb the friendship which has been her
greatest benefit.'

'Thank you.  All I intend is, that if it should be as I suppose, the
poor things should not miss coming to an understanding for want--'

'Of a Christmas-tree,' said James, laughing.  'You may have your own
way.  I have too much confidence in your discretion and in theirs to
imagine that you will produce the least effect.'

Isabel's imagination was busily at work, and she was in haste to make
use of her husband's permission; but it was so difficult to see Clara
alone, that some days passed before the two sisters were left together
in the sitting-room, while James was writing a letter for his uncle.
Isabel's courage began to waver, but she ventured a commencement.

'Mr. Dynevor entertains me with fine stories of your conquests, Clara.'

Clara laughed, blushed, and answered bluntly, 'What a bother it was!'

'You are very hard-hearted.'

'You ought to remember the troubles of young ladyhood enough not to
wonder.'

'I never let things run to that length; but then I had no fortune. But
seriously, Clara, were all these people objectionable?'

'Do you think one could marry any man, only because he was not
objectionable?  There was no harm in one or two; but I was not going to
have anything to say to them.'

'Really, Clara, you make me curious.  Had you made any resolution?'

'I know only two men whom I could have trusted to fulfil my
conditions,' said Clara.

'Conditions?'

'Of course! that if Cheveleigh was to belong to any of us, it should be
to the rightful heir.'

'My dear, noble Clara! was that what kept you from thinking of
marriage?'

'Wasn't it a fine thing to have such a test?  Not that I ever came to
trying it.  Simple no answered my purpose.  I met no one who tempted me
to make the experiment.'

'Two men!' said Isabel, 'if you had said one, it would have been
marked.'

'Jem and Louis, of course,' said Clara.

'Oh! that is as good as saying one.'

'As good as saying none,' said Clara, with emphasis.

'There may be different opinions on that point,' returned Isabel, not
daring to lift her eyes from her work, though longing to study Clara's
face, and feeling herself crimsoning.

'Extremely unfounded opinions, and rather--'

'Rather what?'

'Impertinent, I was going to say, begging your pardon, dear Isabel.'

'Nay, I think it is I who should beg yours, Clara.'

'No, no,' said Clara, laughing, but speaking gravely immediately after,
'lookers-on do not always see most of the game.  I have always known
his mind so well that I could never possibly have fallen into any such
nonsense.  I respect him far too much.'

Isabel felt as if she must hazard a few words more--'Can you guess what
he will do if Mr. Ponsonby's reports prove true?'

'I do not mean to anticipate misfortunes,' said Clara.

Isabel could say no more; and when Clara next spoke, it was to ask for
another of James's wristbands to stitch.  Then Isabel ventured to peep
at her face, and saw it quite calm, and not at all rosy; if it had
been, the colour was gone.

Thus it was, and there are happily many such friendships existing as
that between Louis and Clara.  Many a woman has seen the man whom she
might have married, and yet has not been made miserable.  If there be
neither vanity nor weak self-contemplation on her side, nor trifling on
his part, nor unwise suggestions forced on her by spectators, the
honest, genuine affection need never become passion.  If intimacy is
sometimes dangerous, it is because vanity, folly, and mistakes are too
frequent; but in spite of all these, where women are truly refined, and
exalted into companions and friends, there has been much more happy,
frank intercourse and real friendship than either the romantic or the
sagacious would readily allow.  The spark is never lighted, there is no
consciousness, no repining, and all is well.

Fresh despatches from Lima arrived; and after a day, when Oliver had
been so busy overlooking the statement from Guayaquil that he would not
even take his usual airing, he received Clara with orders to write and
secure his passage by the next packet for Callao.

'Dear uncle, you would never dream of it!  You could not bear the
journey!' she cried, aghast.

'It would do me good. Do not try to cross me, Clara.  No one else can
deal with this pack of rascals.  Your brother has not been bred to it,
and is a parson besides, and there's not a soul that I can trust. I'll
go.  What! d'ye think I can live on him and on you, when there is a
competence of my own out there, embezzled among those ragamuffins?'

'I am sure we had much rather--'

'No stuff and nonsense.  Here is Roland with four children
already--very likely to have a dozen more.  If you and he are fools,
I'm not, and I won't take the bread out of their mouths.  I'll leave my
will behind, bequeathing whatever I may get out of the fire evenly
between you two, as the only way to content you; and if I never turn up
again, why you're rid of the old man.'

'Very well, uncle, I shall take my own passage at the same time.'

'You don't know what you are talking of.  You are a silly child, and
your brother would be a worse if he let you go.'

'If Jem lets you go, he will let me.  He shall let me.  Don't you know
that you are never to have me off your hands, uncle?  No, no, I shall
stick to you like a burr.  You may go up to the tip-top of Chimborazo
if you please, but you'll not shake me off.'

It was her fixed purpose to accompany him, and she was not solicitous
to dissuade him from going, for she could be avaricious for James's
children, and had a decided wish for justice on the guilty party; and,
besides, Clara had a private vision of her own, which made her dance in
her little room.  Mary had written in her father's stead--there was not
a word of Mr. Ward--indeed, Mr. Ponsonby was evidently so ill that his
daughter could think of nothing else.  Might not Clara come in time to
clear up any misunderstanding--convince Mr. Ponsonby--describe Louis's
single-hearted constancy during all these five years, and bring Mary
home to him in triumph?  She could have laughed aloud with delight at
the possibility; and when the other alternative occurred to her, she
knit her brows with childish vehemence, as she promised Miss Mary that
she would never be her bridesmaid.

Presently she heard Fitzjocelyn's voice in the parlour, and, going
down, found him in consultation over a letter which Charlotte had
brought to her master.  It was so well written and expressed, that
Louis turned to the signature before he could quite believe that it was
from his old pupil.  Tom wrote to communicate his perplexity at the
detection of the frauds practised on his employers.  He had lately been
employed in the office at Lima, where much had excited his suspicion;
and, finally, from having 'opened a letter addressed by mistake to the
firm, but destined for an individual, he had discovered that large
sums, supposed to be required by the works, or lost in the Equatorial
failure, had been, in fact, invested in America in the name of that
party.'  The secret was a grievous burthen.  Mr. Ponsonby was far too
ill to be informed; besides that, he should only bring suspicion on
himself; and Miss Ponsonby was so much occupied as to be almost equally
inaccessible.  Tom had likewise reason to believe that his own
movements were watched, and that any attempt to communicate with her or
her father would be baffled; and, above all, he could not endure
himself to act the spy and informer. He only wished that, if possible,
without mentioning names, Charlotte could give a hint that Mr. Dynevor
must not implicitly trust to all he heard.

James was inclined to suppress such vague information, which he thought
would only render his uncle more restless and wretched in his
helplessness, and was only questioning whether secrecy would not amount
to deceit.

'The obvious thing is for me to go to Peru,' said Louis.

'My uncle and I were intending to go,' said Clara.

'How many more of you?' exclaimed James.

     'I would not change my native land
      For rich Peru and all her gold;'

chanted little Kitty from the corner, where she was building houses for
the 'little ones.'

'Extremely to the purpose,' said Louis, laughing.  'Follow her example,
Clara.  Make your uncle appoint me his plenipotentiary, and I will try
what I can to find out what these rogues are about.'

'Are you in earnest?'

'Never more so in my life.'

James beckoned him to the window, and showed him a sentence where Tom
said that the best chance for the firm was in Miss Ponsonby's marriage
with Mr. Ward, but that engagement was not yet declared on account of
her father's illness.

'The very reason,' said Louis, 'I cannot go on in this way.  I must
know the truth.'

'And your father?'

'It would be much better for him that the thing were settled.  He will
miss me less during the session, when he is in London with all his old
friends about him.  It would not take long, going by the Isthmus.  I'll
ride back at once, and see how he bears the notion. Say nothing to Mr.
Dynevor till you hear from me; but I think he will consent.  He will
not endure that she should be left unprotected; her father perhaps
dying, left to the mercy of these rascals.'

'And forgive me, Louis, if you found her not needing you!'

'If she be happy, I should honour the man who made her so.  At least, I
might be of use to you.  I should see after poor Madison.  I have sent
him to the buccaneers indeed!  Good-bye!  I cannot rest till I see how
my father takes it!'

It was long since Louis had been under an excess of impetuosity; but he
rode home as fast as he had ridden to Northwold to canvass for James,
and had not long been at Ormersfield before his proposition was laid
before his father.

It was no small thing to ask of the Earl, necessary as his son had
become to him; and the project at first appeared to him senseless. He
thought Mary had not shown herself sufficiently sensible of his son's
merits to deserve so much trouble; and if she were engaged to Mr. Ward,
Fitzjocelyn would find himself in an unpleasant and undignified
position.  Besides, there was the ensuing session of Parliament!  No!
Oliver must send out some trustworthy man of business, with full powers.

Louis only answered, that of course it depended entirely on his
father's consent; and by-and-by his submission began to work.  Lord
Ormersfield could not refuse him anything, and took care, on parting
for the night, to observe that the point was not settled, only under
consideration.

And consideration was more favourable than might have been expected.
The Earl was growing anxious to see his son married, and of that there
was no hope till his mind should be settled with regard to Mary.  It
would be more for his peace to extinguish the hope, if it were never to
be fulfilled.  Moreover, the image of Mary had awakened the Earl's own
fatherly fondness for her, and his desire to rescue her from her
wretched home.  Even Mr. Ponsonby could hardly withstand Louis in
person, he thought, and must be touched by so many years of constancy.
The rest might be only a misunderstanding which would be cleared up by
a personal interview.  Added to this, Lord Ormersfield knew that Clara
would not let her uncle go alone, and did not think it fit to see her
go out alone with an infirm paralytic; James could not leave his wife
or his chaplaincy, and the affair was unsuited to his profession; a
mere accountant would not carry sufficient authority, nor gain
Madison's confidence; in fact, Fitzjocelyn, and no other, was the
trustworthy man of business; and so his lordship allowed when Louis
ventured to recur to the subject the next morning, and urge some of his
arguments.

The bright clearing of Louis's face spoke his thanks, and he began at
once to detail his plans for his father's comfort, Lord Ormersfield
listening as if pleased by his solicitude, though caring for little
until the light of his eyes should return.

'The next point is that you should give me a testimonial that I _am_ a
trustworthy man of business.'

'I will ride into Northwold with you, and talk it over with Oliver.'

Here lay the knotty point; but the last five years had considerably
cultivated Fitzjocelyn's natural aptitude for figures, by his attention
to statistics, his own farming-books, and the complicated accounts of
the Ormersfield estate,--so that both his father and Richardson could
testify to his being an excellent man of business; and his coolness,
and mildness of temper, made him better calculated to deal with a rogue
than a more hasty man would have been.

They found, on arriving, that James had been talking to Mr. Walby, who
pronounced that the expedition to Lima would be mere madness for Mr.
Dynevor, since application to business would assuredly cause another
attack, and even the calculations of the previous day had made him very
unwell, and so petulant and snappish, that he could be pleased with
nothing, and treated as mere insult the proposal that he should entrust
his affairs to 'such a lad.'

Even James hesitated to influence him to accept the offer.  'I
scruple,' he said, drawing the Earl aside, 'because I thought you had a
particular objection to Fitzjocelyn's being thrown in the way of
speculations.  I thought you dreaded the fascination.'

'Thank you, James; I once did so,' said the Earl.  'I used to believe
it a family mania; I only kept it down in myself by strong resolution,
in the very sight of the consequences, but I can trust Fitzjocelyn.  He
is too indifferent to everything apart from duty to be caught by
flattering projects, and you may fully confide in his right judgment.
I believe it is the absence of selfishness or conceit that makes him so
clear-sighted.'

'What a change! what a testimony!' triumphantly thought James.  It
might be partial, but he was not the man to believe so.

That day was one of defeat; but on the following, a note from James
advised Fitzjocelyn to come and try his fortune again; Mr. Dynevor
would give no one any rest till he had seen him.

Thereupon Louis was closeted with the old merchant, who watched him
keenly, and noted every question or remark he made on the accounts;
then twinkled his eyes with satisfaction as he hit more than one of the
very blots over which Oliver had already perplexed himself.  So
clear-headed and accurate did he show himself, that he soon perceived
that Mr. Dynevor looked at him as a good clerk thrown away; and he
finally obtained from him full powers to act, to bring the villain to
condign punishment, and even, if possible, to dispose of his share in
the firm.

Miss Ponsonby was much relieved to learn that Lord Fitzjocelyn was
going out, though fearing that he might meet with disappointment; but,
at least, her brother would be undeceived as to the traitor in whom he
was confiding.  No letters were to announce Louis's intentions, lest
the enemy should take warning; but he carried several with him, to be
given or not, according to the state of affairs; and when, on his way
through London, he went to receive Miss Ponsonby's commissions, she
gave him a large packet, addressed to Mary.

'Am I to give her this at all events!' he asked, faltering.

'It would serve her right.'

'Then I should not give it to her.  Pray write another, for she does
not deserve to be wounded, however she may have decided.'

'I do not know how I shall ever forgive her,' sighed Aunt Melicent.

'People are never so unforgiving as when they have nothing to forgive.'

'Ah! Lord Fitzjocelyn, that is not your case.  This might have been far
otherwise, had I not misjudged you at first.'

'Do not believe so.  It would have been hard to think me more foolish
than I was.  This probation has been the best schooling for me; and,
let it end as it may, I shall be thankful for what has been.'

And in this spirit did he sail, and many an anxious thought followed
him, no heart beating higher than did that of little Charlotte, who
founded a great many hopes on the crisis that his coming would produce.
Seven years was a terrible time to have been engaged, and the little
workhouse girl thought her getting almost as old as Mrs. Beckett.  She
wondered whether Tom thought so too!  She did not want to think about
Martha's first cousin, who was engaged for thirty-two years to a
journeyman tailor, and when they married at last, they were both so
cross that she went out to service again at the end of a month.
Charlotte set up all her caps with Tom's favourite colour, and 'turned
Angelina' twenty times a-day.

Then came the well-known Peruvian letters, and a thin one for
Charlotte.  Without recollecting that it must have crossed Lord
Fitzjocelyn on the road, she tore it open the instant she had carried
in the parlour letters.  Alas! poor Charlotte!


'I write to you for the last time, lest you should consider yourself
any longer bound by the engagements which must long have been
distasteful.  When I say that Mr. Ford has for some months been my
colleague, you will know to what I allude, without my expressing any
further.  I am already embarked for the U. S.  My enemies have
succeeded in destroying my character and blighting my hopes.  I am at
present a fugitive from the hands of so-called justice; but I could
have borne all with a cheerful heart if you had not played me false.
You will never hear more of one who loved you faithfully.

                                    'TH. MADISON.'


Poor Charlotte!  The wound was a great deal too deep for her usual
childish tears, or even for a single word.  She stood still, cold, and
almost unconscious till she heard a step, then she put the cruel letter
away in her bosom, and went about her work as usual.

They thought her looking very pale, and Jane now and then reproached
her with eating no more than a sparrow, and told her she was getting
into a dwining way; but she made no answer, except that she 'could do
her work.'  At last, one Sunday evening, when she had been left alone
with the children, her mistress found her sitting at the foot of her
bed, among the sleeping little ones, weeping bitterly but silently.
Isabel's kindness at length opened her heart, and she put the letter
into her hand.  Poor little thing, it was very meekly borne: 'Please
don't tell no one, ma'am,' she said; 'I couldn't hear him blamed!'

'But what does he mean?  He must be under some terrible error.  Who is
this Ford?'

'It is Delaford, ma'am, I make no doubt, though however he could have
got there!  And, oh dear me! if I had only told poor Tom the whole,
that I was a silly girl, and liked his flatteries now and then, but
constant in my heart I always was!'

Isabel could not but suppose that Delaford, if it were he, might have
exaggerated poor Charlotte's little flirtation; but there was small
comfort here, since contradiction was impossible.  The U. S., over
which the poor child had puzzled in vain, was no field in which to
follow him up--he had not even dated his letter; and it was a very,
very faint hope that Lord Fitzjocelyn might trace him out, especially
as he had evidently fled in disgrace; and poor Charlotte sobbed
bitterly over his troubles, as well as her own.

She was better after she had told her mistress, though still she shrank
from any other sympathy.  Even Jane's pity would have been too much for
her, and her tender nature was afraid of the tongues that would have
discussed her grief.  Perhaps the high-toned nature of Isabel was the
very best to be brought into contact with the poor girl's spirit, which
was of the same order, and many an evening did Isabel sit in the
twilight, beside the children's beds, talking to her, or sometimes
reading a few lines to show her how others had suffered in the same
way.  'It is my own fault,' said poor Charlotte; 'it all came of my
liking to be treated like one above the common, and it serves me right.
Yes, ma'am, that was a beautiful text you showed me last night, I
thought of it all day, and I'll try to believe that good will come out
of it.  I am sure you are very good to let me love the children!  I'm
certain sure Miss Salome knows that I'm in trouble, for she never fails
to run and kiss me the minute she comes in sight; and she'll sit so
quiet in my lap, the little dear, and look at me as much as to say,
'Charlotte, I wish I could comfort you.'  But it was all my own fault,
ma'am, and I think I could feel as if I was punished right, so I knew
poor Tom was happy.'

'Alas!' thought Isabel, after hearing Charlotte's reminiscences; 'how
close I have lived to a world of which I was in utter ignorance!  How
little did we guess that, by the careless ease and inattention of our
household, we were carrying about a firebrand, endangering not only
poor Walter, but doing fearful harm wherever we went!'



CHAPTER XXI.

STEPPING WESTWARD.

   On Darien's sands and deadly dew.
                        Rokeby.


Enterprise and speed both alike directed Fitzjocelyn's course across
the Isthmus of Panama, which in 1853 had newly become practicable for
adventurous travellers.  A canal conducted him as far as Cruces, after
which he had to push on through wild forest and swamp, under the escort
of the muleteers who took charge of the various travellers who had
arrived by the same packet.

It was a very novel and amusing journey, even in the very discomforts
and the strange characters with whom he was thrown, and more
discontented travellers used to declare that Don Luis, as he told the
muleteers to call him, always seemed to have the best success with the
surly hotel-keepers, though when he resigned his acquisitions to any
resolute grumbler, it used to be discovered that he had been putting up
with the worst share.

A place called Guallaval seemed to be the most squalid and forlorn of
all the stations--outside, an atmosphere of mosquitoes; inside, an
atmosphere of brandy and smoke, the master an ague-stricken Yankee, who
sat with his bare feet high against the wall, and only deigned to jerk
with his head to show in what quarter was the drink and food, and to
'guess that strangers must sleep on the ground, for first-comers had
all the beds'--hammocks slung up in a barn, or unwholesome cupboards in
the wall.

At the dirty board sat several of the party first arrived, washing down
tough, stringy beef with brandy.  Louis was about to take his place
near a very black-bearded young man, who appeared more civilized than
the rest, and who surprised him by at once making room for him, leaving
the table with an air of courtesy; and when, in his halting Spanish, he
begged 'his Grace' not to disturb himself, he was answered, in the same
tongue, 'I have finished.'

After the meal, such as it was, he wandered out of the hut, to escape
the fumes and the company within; but he was presently accosted by the
same stranger, who, touching his slouched Panama hat, made him a speech
in Spanish, too long and fluent for his comprehension, at the same time
offering him a cigar.  He was civilly refusing, when, to his surprise,
the man interrupted him in good English.  'These swamps breed fever, to
a certainty.  A cigar is the only protection; and even then there is
nothing more dangerous than to be out at sunset.'

'Thank you, I am much obliged,' said Louis, turning towards the hut.
'Have you been long out here?'

'The first time on the Isthmus; but I know these sort of places. Pray
go in, my Lord.'

The title and the accent startled Louis, and he exclaimed, 'You must be
from the Northwold country?'

He drew back, and said bluntly, 'Never mind me, only keep out of this
pestiferous air.'

But the abrupt surliness completed the recognition, and, seizing his
hand, Louis cried, 'Tom! how are you?'  You have turned into a thorough
Spaniard, and taken me in entirely.'

'Only come in, my Lord; I would never have spoken to you, but that I
could not see you catching your death.'

'I am coming: but what's the matter?  Why avoid me, when you are the
very man I most wished to see?'

'I'm done for,' said Tom.  'The fellows up there have saddled their
rogueries on me, and I'm off to the States.  I--'

'What do you say?  There, I am coming in.  Be satisfied, Tom; I am come
out with a commission from Mr. Dynevor, to see what can be arranged.'

'That's right,' cried Tom, 'now poor Miss Ponsonby will have one
friend.'

'Your letter to Charlotte brought me out--' began Louis; but Madison
broke in with an expression of dismay and self-reproach at seeing him
walking somewhat lame.

'It is only when I am tired, and not thinking of it,' said Louis; 'do
you know that old ash stick, Tom, my constant friend?  See, here are
the names of all the places I have seen cut out on it.'

'I knew it, and you, the moment you sat down by the table,' said Tom,
in a tone of the utmost feeling, as Louis took his arm.  'You are not
one to forget.'

'And yet you were going to pass me without making yourself known.'

'A disgraced man has no business to be known,' said Tom, low and
hoarsely.  'No, I wish none of them ever to hear my name again; and but
for the slip of the tongue that came so naturally, you should not, but
I was drawn to you, and could not help it.  I am glad I have seen you
once more, my Lord--'

He would have left him at the entrance, but Louis held him fast.

'You are the very man I depend on for unravelling the business.  A man
cannot be disgraced by any one but himself, and that is not the case
with you, Tom.'

'No, thank Heaven,' said Tom, fervently; 'I've kept my honesty, if I
have lost all the rest.'

Little more was needed to bring Madison to a seat on a wooden bench
beside Fitzjocelyn, answering his anxious inquiries.  The first tidings
were a shock--Mr. Ponsonby was dead.  He had long been declining, and
the last thing Tom had heard from Lima was, that he was dead; but of
the daughter there was no intelligence; Tom had been too much occupied
with his own affairs to know anything of her. Robson had returned from
Guayaquil some weeks previously, and in the settlement of accounts
consequent on Mr. Ponsonby's death, Tom had demurred giving up all the
valuable property at the mines under his charge, until he should have
direct orders from Mr. Dynevor or Miss Ponsonby.  A hot dispute ensued,
and Robson became aware that Tom was informed of his nefarious
practices, and had threatened him violently; but a few hours after he
had returned, affecting to have learnt from the new clerk, Ford, that
Madison's peculations required to be winked at with equal forbearance,
and giving him the alternative of sharing the spoil, or of being
denounced to the authorities.  He took a night to consider; and, as
Louis started at hearing of any deliberation, he said, sadly, 'You
would not believe me, my Lord, but I had almost a mind.  They would
take away my character, any way; and what advantage was my honesty
without that? And as to hurting my employers, they would only take what
I did not; and such as that is thought nothing of by very many.  I'd
got no faith in man nor woman left, and I'd got nothing but suspicion
by my honesty; so why should I not give in to the way of the world, and
try if it would serve me.  But then, my Lord, it struck me that if I
had nothing else, I had still my God left.'

Louis grasped his hand.

'Yes, I'm thankful that Miss Ponsonby asked me to read to the Cornish
miners,' said Madison.  'One gets soon heathenish in a heathenish
place; and but for that I don't believe I should ever have stood it
out.  But Joseph's words, 'How can I do this great wickedness, and sin
against God,' kept ringing in my ears like a peal of bells, all night,
and by morning I sent in a note to Mr. Robson, to say No to what he
proposed.'

Every other principle would have cracked in such a conflict, and Louis
looked up at Tom with intense admiration, while the young man spoke on,
not conscious that it had been noble, but ashamed of owning himself to
have been brought to a pass where mere integrity had been an effort.

He had gone back at once to his mines, in some hopes that the threats
might yet prove nothing but blustering; but he had scarcely arrived
there when an Indian muleteer, to whom he had shown some kindness,
brought him intelligence that la justida was in quest of him, but in
difficulties how to get up the mountains.  The poor Indians guided his
escape, conducting him down wonderful paths only known to themselves,
hiding him in strange sequestered huts, and finally guiding him safely
to Callao, where he had secretly embarked on board an American vessel
bound for Panama.  Louis asked why he had fled, instead of taking his
trial, and confuting Robson; but he smiled, and said, my Lord knew
little of foreign justice; besides, Ford was ready to bear any witness
that Robson might put into his mouth;--and his face grew dark.  Who was
this Ford?  He could not tell; Mr. Robson had picked him up a few
months back, when there was a want of a clerk; like loved like, he
supposed, but it was no concern of his. Would it be safe for him to
venture back to Peru, under Fitzjocelyn's protection, and assist him in
unmasking the treacherous Robson!  To this he readily agreed, catching
at the hope of establishing his innocence; but declaring that he should
then go at once to the States.--'What, not even go home to see
Charlotte?  I've got a letter for you, when I can get at it.'

Tom made no answer, and Fitzjocelyn feared that, in spite of all his
good qualities, his fidelity in love had not equalled his fidelity to
his employers.  He could not understand his protege during the few days
of their journey.  He was a great acquisition to his comfort, with his
knowledge of the language and people, and his affectionate deference.
At home, where all were courtly, he had been almost rude; but here, in
the land of ill manners, his attentions were so assiduous that Louis
was obliged to beg him to moderate them lest they should both be
ridiculous.  He had become a fine-looking young man, with a foreign air
and dress agreeing well with his dark complexion; and he had acquired
much practical ability and information.  Mountains, authority, and a
good selection of books had been excellent educators; he was a very
superior and intelligent person, and, without much polish, had laid
aside his peasant rusticities, and developed some of the best qualities
of a gentleman. But though open and warm-hearted on many points with
his early friend, there was a gloom and moodiness about him, which
Louis could only explain by thinking that his unmerited disgrace preyed
on him more than was quite manly.  To this cause, likewise, Louis at
first attributed his never choosing to hear a word about Charlotte; but
as the distaste--nay almost sullenness, evoked by any allusion to her,
became more apparent, Louis began unwillingly to balance his suspicions
between some fresh attachment, or unworthy shame at an engagement to a
maidservant.

The poor little damsel's sweet blushing face and shy courtesy, and all
her long and steady faithfulness, made him feel indignant at such a
suspicion, and he resolved to bring Madison to some explanation; but he
did not find the opportunity till after they had embarked at the
beautiful little islet of Toboga for Callao.  On board, he had time to
find in his portmanteau the letter with which she had entrusted him,
and, seeking Madison on deck, gave it to him.  He held it in his hand
without opening it; but the sparkle in his dark eye did not betoken the
bashfulness of fondness, and Louis, taking a turn along the deck to
watch him unperceived, saw him raise his hand as if to throw the poor
letter overboard at once.  A few long steps, and Louis was beside him,
exclaiming, 'What now, Tom--is that the way you treat your letters?'

'The little hypocrite!  I don't want no more of her false words,'
muttered Tom, returning, in his emotion, to his peasant's emphatic
double negative.

'Hypocrite!  Do you know how nobly and generously she has been helping
Mr. and Mrs. Frost through their straits? how faithfully--'

'I know better,' said Tom, hoarsely; 'don't excuse her, my Lord; you
know little of what passes in your own kitchens.'

'Too true, I fear, in many cases,' said Louis; 'but I have seen this
poor child in circumstances that make me feel sure that she is an
admirable creature.  What misunderstanding can have arisen?'

'No misunderstanding, my Lord.  I saw, as plain as I see you, her name
and her writing in the book that she gave to Ford--her copying out of
his love-poems, my Lord, in the blank pages,--if I had wanted any proof
of what he alleged.'

And he had nearly thrown the letter into the Pacific; but Louis caught
his arm.

'Did you ever read Cymbeline, Tom?'

'Yes, to be sure I have,' growled Tom, in surprise.

'Then remember Iachimo, and spare that letter.  What did he tell you?'

With some difficulty Fitzjocelyn drew from Madison that he had for some
time been surprised at Ford's knowledge of Northwold and the
neighbourhood; but had indulged in no suspicions till about the epoch
of Robson's return from Guayaquil.  Chancing to be waiting in his
fellow-clerk's room, he had looked at his books, and, always attracted
by poetry as the rough fellow was, had lighted on a crimson
watered-silk volume, in the first page of which he had, to his horror,
found the name of Charlotte Arnold borne aloft by the two doves, and in
the blank leaves several extremely flowery poems in her own handwriting.

With ill-suppressed rage he had demanded an explanation, and had been
met with provokingly indifferent inuendoes.  The book was the gift of a
young lady with whom Ford had the pleasure to be acquainted; the little
effusions were trifles of his own, inscribed by her own fair hands.
Oh, yes! he knew Miss Arnold very well--very pretty, very complaisant!
Ah! he was afraid there were some broken hearts at home!  Poor little
thing! he should never forget how she took leave of him, after forcing
upon him her little savings!  He was sorry for her, too; but a man
cannot have compassion on all the pretty girls he sees.

'And you could be deceived by such shallow coxcombry as this!' said
Louis.

'I tell you there was the book,' returned Tom.

'Well, Tom, if Mr. Ford prove to be the Ford I take him to be, I'll
undertake that you shall see through him, and be heartily ashamed of
yourself.  Give me back the letter,--you do not deserve to have it.'

'I don't want it,' said Tom, moodily; 'she has not been as true to me
as I've been to her, and if she isn't what I took her for, I do not
care to hear of her again.  I used to look at the mountain-tops, and
think she was as pure as they; and that she should have been making
herself the talk of a fellow like that, and writing so sweet to me all
the time!--No, my Lord, there's no excusing it; and 'twas her being
gone after the rest that made it so bitter hard to me!  If she had been
true, I would have gone through fire and water to be an honest man
worthy of her; but when I found how she had deceived me, it went hard
with me to cut myself off from the wild mountain life that I'd got to
love, and my poor niggers, that will hardly have so kind a master set
over them.'

'You have stood the fiery ordeal well,' said Louis; 'and I verily
believe that you will soon find that it was only an ordeal.'

The care of Tom was a wholesome distraction to the suspense that became
almost agony as Louis approached Peru, and beheld the gigantic summits
of the more northern Andes, which sunset revealed shining out white and
fitfully, like the Pilgrim's vision of the Celestial City, although,
owing to their extreme distance, even on a bright noonday, nothing was
visible but clear deep-blue sky.  They seemed to make him realize that
the decisive moment was near, when he should tread the same soil with
Mary, and yet, as he stood silently watching those glorious heights,
human hopes and cares seemed to shrink into nothing before the eternity
and Infinite Greatness of which the depth and the height spoke.  Yet He
remembereth the hairs of our heads, Who weigheth the mountains in the
balance, and counteth the isles as a very little thing.  Louis took
comfort, but nerved himself for resignation; his prayer was more, that
he might bear rightly whatever might be in store, than that he should
succeed.  He could hardly have made the latter petition with that
submissiveness and reserve befitting all entreaty for blessings of this
passing world.



CHAPTER XXII.

RATHER SUDDEN.

  O! would you hear of a Spanish lady,
    How she woo'd an Englishman?
  Garments gay, as rich as may be,
    Decked with jewels she had on.
                         Old Ballad.


The white buildings of Callao looked out of the palm gardens, and, with
throbbing heart, Fitzjocelyn was set on shore, leaving Madison on board
until he should hear from him that evening or the next morning.

Hiring a calesa, he drove at once to Lima, to the house of the late Mr.
Ponsonby.  The heavy folding gates admitted him to the archway, where
various negroes were loitering; and as he inquired for the ladies, one
of them raised a curtain, and admitted him into the large cool twilight
hall, so dark that, with eyes dazzled by the full glare of day, he
could hardly discern at the opposite end of the hall, where a little
more light was admitted from one of the teatina windows, two figures
seated at a table covered with ledgers and papers.  As if dreaming, he
followed his barefooted guide across the soft India matting, and heard
his Spanish announcement, that, might it please her Grace, here was a
Senor from England.

Both rose; the one a well-dressed man, the other--it was the well-known
action--'Mary!' it was all that he had the power to say; he was hardly
visible, but what tone was ever like that low, distinct, earnest voice?

Mary clasped her hands together as if in bewilderment.

'Xavier should not--I will speak,' whispered her companion to her, and
beginning, 'Address yourself to me, sir!'

But Mary sprang forward, signing him back with her hand.  'It is my
cousin, Lord Fitzjocelyn!' she said, as if breath and effort would
serve no more, and she laid her hand in that of Louis.

'Mr. Ward?' said Louis, barely able to frame the question, yet striving
for a manner that might leave no thorns behind.

'No; oh, no!  Mr. Robson.'

The very sound of the 'No' made his heart bound up again, and his hand
closed fast on that which lay within it, while a bow passed between him
and Robson.

'And you are come?' as if it were too incredible.

'I told you I should,' he answered.

'I will leave you, Miss Ponsonby,' said Robson; 'we will continue our
little business when you are less agreeably engaged.'

He began to gather the papers together, an action which suddenly
recalled Louis to the recollection of Tom's cautions as to prudence and
alertness, and he forced himself to a prompt tone of business.

'I hope to be able to be of use,' he said, turning to Mary.  'Mr.
Dynevor has given me a commission to look into his affairs,' and he put
into Robson's hands the letter written by James, and signed by Oliver.

'Thank you, Lord Fitzjocelyn, I shall be very happy to give any
explanations you may wish,' said Robson, measuring with his eye his
youthful figure and features, and piling up the books.

'I should prefer having these left with me,' said Louis; 'I have but
little time before me, and if I could look them over to-night, I should
be prepared for you to-morrow.'

'Allow me.  You would find it impossible to understand these entries.
There is much to be set in order before they would be ready for the
honour of your lordship's inspection.'

'I particularly wish to have them at once.  You give me authority to
act for you, Miss Ponsonby?' he added, looking at her, as she stood
holding by the table, as one half awake.

'Oh! yes, I put the whole into your hands,' she answered, mechanically,
obeying his eye.

'Allow me, my Lord,' said Robson, as Fitzjocelyn laid the firm hand of
detention on the heavy ledgers, and great leathern pocket-book.

'Yes; we had better know exactly what you leave in my charge, Mr.
Robson,' said Louis, beginning to suspect that the clerk fancied that
the weight and number of the books and bundles of bills might satisfy
his unpractised eye, and that the essential was to be found in the
pocket-book, on which he therefore retained a special hold; asking, as
Robson held out his hand for it, 'is this private property?'

'Why, yes; no, it is and it is not,' said Robson, looking at the lady,
as though to judge whether she were attending.  'I only brought it here
that Miss Ponsonby might have before her--always a satisfaction to a
lady, you know, sir--though Miss Ponsonby's superior talents for
business quite enable her to comprehend.  But our affairs are not what
I could wish.  The Equatorial bubble was most unfortunate, and that
unfortunate young man, who has absconded after a long course of
embezzlement, has carried off much valuable property.  I was laying the
case before Miss Ponsonby, and showing her what amount had been
fortunately secured.'

'What is in the pocket-book?' asked Louis of Mary; and, though she was
apparently conscious of nothing around her, he obtained a direct reply.

'The vouchers for the shares.'

'In the Equatorial.  Unlucky speculation--so much waste paper,'
interrupted Robson.  'Your lordship had better let me clear away the
trash, which will only complicate the matter, and distract your
understanding.'

'Thank you; as you say there has been fraud, I should be better
satisfied to be able to tell Mr. Dynevor that the papers have never
been out of my hands.  I will call on you early to-morrow.'

Mr. Robson waited to make many inquiries for Mr. Dynevor's health, and
to offer every attention to Lord Fitzjocelyn, to introduce him to the
Consul, to find apartments for him, &c.; but at last he took leave, and
Louis was free to turn to the motionless Mary, who had done nothing all
this time but follow him with her eyes.

All his doubts had returned, and, in the crisis of his fate, he stood
irresolute, daring neither to speak nor ask, lest feelings should be
betrayed which might poison her happiness.

'Is it you?' were her first words, as though slowly awakening.

'It is I, come to be whatever you will let me be,' he answered, as best
he could.

'Oh, Louis!' she said, 'this is too much!'  And she hid her face in her
hands.

'Tell me--one word, Mary, and I shall know what to do, and will not
harass nor grieve you.'

'Grieve me!  You!' exclaimed Mary, in an inexpressibly incredulous tone.

'Enough!  It is as it was before!' and he drew her into his arms, as
unresistingly as five years ago, and his voice sank with intense
thankfulness, as he said, 'My Mary--my Mary! has He not brought it to
pass?'

The tears came dropping from her eyes, and then she could speak.

'Louis, my dear father withdrew his anger.  He gave full consent and
blessing, if you still--'

'Then nothing is wanting--all is peace!' said Louis.  'You know how you
are longed for at home--'

'That you should have come--come all this way!  That Lord Ormersfield
should have spared you!' exclaimed Mary, breaking out into happy little
sentences, as her tears relieved her.  'Oh, how far off all my distress
and perplexity seem now!  How foolish to have been so unhappy when
there you were close by!  But you must see Dona Rosita,' cried she,
recollecting herself, after an interval, 'I must tell her.'

Mary hurried into another room by a glass door, and Louis heard her
speaking Spanish, and a languid reply; then returning, she beckoned to
him to advance, whispering, 'Don't be surprised, these are the usual
habits.  We can talk before her, she never follows English.'

He could at first see no one, but presently was aware of a grass
hammock swung from the richly-carved beams, and in it something white;
then of a large pair of black eyes gazing full at him with a liquid
soft stare.  He made his bow, and summoned his best Spanish, and she
made an answer which he understood, by the help of Mary, to be a
welcome; then she smiled and signed with her head towards him and Mary,
and said what Mary only interpreted by colouring, as did Louis, for
such looks and smiles were of all languages.  Then it was explained
that only as a relation did she admit his Excellency el Visconde,
before her evening toilette in her duelos was made--Mary would take
care of him.  And dismissing them with a graceful bend of her head, she
returned to her doze and her cigarito.

Mary conducted Louis to the cool, shaded, arched doorway, opening under
the rich marble cloister of the court-yard, where a fountain made a
delicious bubbling in the centre.  She clapped her hands--a little
negro girl appeared, to whom she gave an order, and presently two more
negroes came in, bringing magnificent oranges and pomegranates, and
iced wine and water, on a silver tray, covered with a
richly-embroidered napkin.  He would have felt himself in the Alhambra,
if he could have felt anything but that he was beside Mary.

'Sit down, sit down, you have proved yourself Mary enough already by
waiting on me.  I want to look at you, and to hear you.  You are not
altered!' he cried joyfully, as he drew her into the full light. 'You
have your own eyes, and that's your very smile! only grown handsomer.
That's all!'

She really was.  She was a woman to be handsomer at twenty-seven than
at twenty-one; and with the glow of unexpected bliss over her fine
countenance, it did not need a lover's eye to behold her as something
better than beautiful.

And for her! who shall tell the marvel of scarcely-credited joy, every
time she heard the music of his softly-dropped distinct words, and
looked up at the beloved face, perhaps a little less fair, with rather
less of the boyish delicacy of feature, but more noble, more
defined--as soft and sweet as ever, but with all the indecision gone;
all that expression that had at times seemed like weakness.  He was not
the mere lad she had loved with a guiding motherly love, but a man to
respect and rely on--ready, collected, dealing with easy coolness with
the person who had domineered over that house for years.  He was all,
and more than all, her fondest fancy had framed; and coming to her aid
at the moment of her utmost difficulty, brought to her by the love
which she had not dared to confide in nor encourage!  No wonder that
she feared to move, lest she should find herself awakened from a dream
too happy to last.

'But oh, Louis,' said she, as if it were almost a pledge of reality to
recollect a vexation, 'I must tell you first, for it will grieve you,
and we did not take pains enough to keep him out of temptation. That
unhappy runaway clerk--'

'Is safe at Callao,' said Louis, 'and is to help me to release you from
the meshes they have woven round you.  Save for the warning he sent
home, I could never have shown cause for coming to you, Mary, while you
would not summon me.  That was too bad, you know, since you had the
consent.'

'That was only just at last,' faltered Mary.  'It was so kind of him,
for I had disappointed him so much!'

'What?  I know, Mary; his letters kept me in a perpetual fright for the
last year; and not one did you write to poor little Clara to comfort
us.'

'It was not right in me,' said Mary; 'but I thought it might be so much
better for you if you were never put in mind of me.  I beg your pardon,
Louis.'

'We should have trusted each other better, if people would have let us
alone,' said Louis.  'In fact, it was trust after all.  It always came
back again, if it were scared away for a moment.'

'Till I began to doubt if I were doing what was kind by you,' said
Mary.  'Oh, that was the most distressing time of all; I thought if I
were out of the way, you might begin to be happy, and I tried to leave
off thinking about you.'

'Am I to thank you?'

'I _could_ not,--that is the truth of it,' said Mary.  'I was able to
keep you out of my mind enough, I hope, for it not to be wrong; but as
to putting any one else there--I was forced at last to tell poor papa
so, when he wanted to send for Mr. Ward; and then--he said that if you
had been as constant, he supposed it must be, and he hoped we should be
happy; and he said you had been a pet of my mother, and that Lord
Ormersfield had been a real friend to her.  It was so kind of him, for
I know it would have been the greatest relief to his mind to leave
things in Mr. Ward's charge.'

Mary had been so much obliged to be continually mentioning her father,
that, though the loss was still very recent, she was habituated to
speak of him with firmness; and it was an extreme satisfaction to tell
all her sorrows, and all the little softening incidents, to Louis.  Mr.
Ponsonby had shown much affection and gratitude to her during the few
closing days of his illness, and had manifested some tokens of
repentance for his past life; but there had been so much pain and
torpor, that there had been little space for reflection, and the long
previous decline had not been accepted as a warning.  Perhaps the
intensity of Mary's prayers had been returned into her bosom, in the
strong blindness of filial love; for as she dwelt fondly on the few
signs of better things, the narration fell mournfully on Louis's ears,
as that of an unhopeful deathbed.

An exceeding unwillingness to contemplate death, had prevented Mr.
Ponsonby from making a new will.  By one made many years back, he had
left the whole of his property, without exception, to his daughter, his
first wife having been provided for by her marriage settlements, and
now, with characteristic indolence and selfishness, he had deferred
till too late the securing any provision for his Limenian wife; and
only when he found himself dying, had he said to Mary, 'You will take
care to provide for poor Rosita!'

So Mary had found herself heiress to a share in the miserably-involved
affairs of Dynevor and Ponsonby; and as soon as she could think of the
future at all, had formed the design of settling Rosita in a convent
with a pension, and going herself to England.

But Rosita was not easily to be induced to give up her gaieties for a
convent life; and, moreover, there was absolutely such a want of ready
money, that Mary did not see how to get home, though Robson assured her
there was quite enough to live upon as they were at present.  Nor was
it possible to dispose of the mines and other property without Mr.
Dynevor's consent, and he might not be in a state to give it.

The next stroke was young Madison's sudden disappearance, and the
declaration by Robson that he had carried off a great deal of
property--a disappointment to her even greater than the loss.  Robson
was profuse in compliments and attentions, but continually deferred the
statement of affairs that he had promised; and Mary could not bear to
accept the help of Mr. Ward, the only person at hand able and willing
to assist her.  She had at last grown desperate, and, resolved to have
something positive to write to Mr. Dynevor, as well as not to go on
living without knowing her means, she had insisted on Robson bringing
his accounts.  She knew just enough to be dissatisfied with his vague
statements; and the more he praised her sagacity, the more she saw that
he was taking advantage of her ignorance, which he presumed to be far
greater than it really was. At the very moment when she was most
persuaded of his treachery, and felt the most lonely and desolate--when
he was talking fluently, and she was seeking to rally her spirits, and
discover the path of right judgment, where the welfare of so many was
concerned--it was then that Fitzjocelyn's voice was in her ear.

She had scarcely explained to Louis why his coming was, if possible,
doubly and trebly welcome, when the negro admitted another guest, whom
Rosita received much as she had done his predecessor, only with less
curiosity.  Mary rose, blushing deeply, and crossing the room held out
her hand, and said simply, but with something of apology, 'Mr. Ward,
this is Lord Fitzjocelyn.'

Mr. Ward raised his eyes to her face for one moment.  'I understand,'
he said, in a low, not quite steady voice.  'It is well.  Will you
present me?' he added, as though collecting himself like a brave man
after a blow.

'Here is my kindest friend,' she said, as she conducted him to Louis,
and they shook hands in the very manner she wished to see, learning
mutual esteem from her tone and each other's aspect.

'I am sorry to have intruded,' said Mr. Ward.  'I came in the hope that
you might find some means of making me of use to you; and, perhaps, I
may yet be of some assistance to Lord Fitzjocelyn.'

He enforced the proposal with so much cordiality, and showed so plainly
that it would be his chief pleasure and consolation to do anything for
Miss Ponsonby, that they did not scruple to take him into their
counsels; and Mary looked on with exulting wonder at the ability and
readiness displayed by Louis in the discussion of business details,
even with a man whose profession they were.  In remote space, almost
beyond memory, save to enhance the present joy of full reliance, was
the old uncomfortable sense of his leaning too much upon her.  To have
him acting and thinking for her, and with one touch carrying off her
whole burthen of care, was comfort and gladness beyond what she had
even devised in imagination.  The only drawback, besides compassion for
Mr. Ward, was the shock of hearing of the extent of the treachery of
Robson, in whom her father had trusted so implicitly, and to whom he
had shown so much favour.

They agreed that they would go to the Consul, and concert measures;
Mary only begging that Robson might not be hardly dealt with, and they
went away, leaving her to her overwhelming happiness, which began to
become incredible as soon as Louis was out of sight.

By-and-by, he came back to the evening meal, when Rosita appeared, with
her uncovered hair in two long, unadorned tresses, plaited, and hanging
down on each shoulder, and arrayed in black robes, which, by their
weight and coarseness, recalled Eastern fashions of mourning, which
Spain derived from the Moors.  She attempted a little Spanish talk with
El Visconde, much to his inconvenience, though he was too joyous not to
be doubly good-natured, especially as he pitied her, and regarded her
as a very perplexing charge newly laid on him.

He had time to tell Mary that he was to sleep at the Consul's, whence
he had sent a note and a messenger to fetch Tom Madison, since it
appeared that the prosecution, the rumour of which had frightened the
poor fellow away, had not been actually set on foot before he decamped;
and even if it had been, there were many under worse imputations at
large in the Peruvian Republic.

Fitzjocelyn had appointed that Robson should call on him early in the
morning, and, if he failed to detect him, intended to confront him with
Madison before the Consul, when there could be little doubt that his
guilt would be brought home to him.  He found that the Consul and Mr.
Ward had both conceived a bad opinion of Robson, and had wondered at
the amount of confidence reposed in him; whereas Madison had been
remarked as a young man of more than average intelligence and
steadiness, entirely free from that vice of gambling which was the bane
of all classes in Spanish South America.  Mary sighed as she heard
Louis speak so innocently of 'all classes'--it was too true, as he
would find to his cost, when he came to look into their affairs, and
learn what Rosita had squandered.  Next, he asked about the other
clerk, Ford, of whom Mary knew very little, except that she had heard
Robson mention to her father, when preparing to set out for Guayaquil,
that in the consequent press of business he had engaged a new
assistant, who had come from Rio as servant to a traveller.  She had
sometimes heard Robson speak in praise of his acquisition, and exalt
him above Madison; and once or twice she had seen him, and fancied him
like some one whom she had known somewhere, but she had for many months
seldom left her father's room, and knew little of what passed beyond it.

Louis took his leave early, as he had to examine his prize, the
pocket-book, and make up his case before confronting Robson; and he
told Mary that he should refrain from seeing her on the morrow until
the 'tug of war should be over.'  'Mr. Ward promises to come to help
me,' he added.  'Really, Mary, I never saw a more generous or
considerate person.  I am constantly on the point of begging his
pardon.'

'I must thank him some way or other,' said Mary; 'his forbearance has
been beautiful.  I only wish he would have believed me, for I always
told him the plain truth.  It would have spared him something; but
nobody would trust my account of you.'

The morning came, and with it Madison; but patient as Fitzjocelyn
usually was, he was extremely annoyed at finding his precious time
wasted by Robson's delay in keeping his appointment.  After allowing
for differing clocks, for tropical habits, and every other imaginable
excuse for unpunctuality, he decided that there must have been some
mistake, and set off to call at the counting-house.

A black porter opened the door, and he stepped forward into the inner
room, where, leaning lazily back before a desk, smoking a cigar over
his newspaper, arrayed in a loose white jacket, with open throat and
slippered feet, reposed a gentleman, much transformed from the spruce
butler, but not difficult of recognition.  He started to his feet with
equal alacrity and consternation, and bowed, not committing himself
until he should see whether he were actually known to his lordship.
Fitzjocelyn was in too great haste to pause on this matter, and quickly
acknowledging the salutation, as if that of a stranger, demanded where
Mr. Robson was.

In genuine surprise and alarm, Ford exclaimed that he had not seen him;
he thought he was gone to meet his lordship at the Consular residence.
No! could he be at his own house?  It was close by, and the question
was asked, but the Senor Robson had gone out in the very early morning.
Ford looked paler and paler, and while Louis said he would go and
inquire for him at Miss Ponsonby's, offered to go down to the Consul's
to see if he had arrived there in the meantime.

Mary came to meet Louis in the sala, saying that she was afraid that
they had not shown sufficient consideration for poor Dona Rosita, who
really had feeling; she had gone early to her convent, and had not yet
returned, though she had been absent two hours.

Louis had but just explained his perplexity and vexation, when the old
negro Xavier came in with looks of alarm, begging to know whether La
Senora were come in, and excusing himself for having lost sight of her.
She had not gone to the convent, but to the cathedral; and he, kneeling
in the crowded nave while she passed on to one of the side chapels, had
not seen her again, and, after waiting far beyond the usual duration of
her devotions, had supposed that she had gone home unattended.

As he finished his story, there was a summons to Lord Fitzjocelyn to
speak to Mr. Ford, and on Mary's desiring that he should be admitted,
he came forward, exclaiming, 'My Lord, he has not been at the Consul's!
I beg to state that he has the keys of all the valuables at the office;
nothing is in my charge.'

Louis turned to consult Mary; but, as if a horrible idea had come over
her, she was already speeding through the door of the quadra, and
appearing there again in a few seconds, she beckoned him, with a
countenance of intense dismay, and whispered under her breath, 'Louis!
Louis! her jewels are gone!  Poor thing! poor thing! what will become
of her?'

Mary had more reasons for her frightful suspicion than she would detain
him to hear.  Robson, always polite, had been especially so to the
young Limenian; she had been much left to his society, and Mary had
more than once fancied that they were more at ease in her own absence.
She was certain that the saya y manto had been frequently employed to
enable Rosita to enjoy dissipation, when her husband's condition would
have rendered her public appearance impossible; and at the Opera or on
the Alameda, Robson might have had every opportunity of paying her
attention, and forwarding her amusements. There could be no doubt that
she had understood more of their plans than had been supposed, had
warned him, and shared his flight.

Pursuit, capture, and a nunnery would be far greater kindness to the
poor childish being, than leaving her to the mercy of a runaway
swindler; and all measures were promptly taken, Ford throwing himself
into the chase with greater ardour and indignation than even Madison;
for he had trusted to Robson's grand professions that he could easily
throw dust into the young Lord's inexperienced eyes, come off with
flying colours, and protect his subordinate.  If he had changed his
mind since the Senora's warning, he had not thought it necessary to
inform his confederate; and Ford was not only furious at the desertion,
but anxious to make a merit of his zeal, and encouraged by having as
yet seen no sign that he was recognised.

Regardless of heat and fatigue, Fitzjocelyn, Mr. Ward, and the two
clerks, were indefatigable throughout the day, but it was not till near
sunset that a Spanish agent of Mr. Ward's brought back evidence that a
Limenian lady and English gentleman had been hastily married by a
village padre in the early morning, and Madison shortly after came from
Callao, having traced such a pair to an American vessel, which was long
since out of harbour.  It was well that the pocket-book had been saved,
for it contained securities to a large amount, which Robson, after
showing to Mary to satisfy her, doubtless intended to keep in hand for
such a start as the present.  Without it, he had contrived, as Madison
knew, to secure quite sufficient to remove any anxieties as to the
Senora Rosita owning a fair share of her late husband's property.

The day of terrible anxiety made it a relief to Mary to have any
certainty, though she was infinitely shocked at the tidings, which
Louis conveyed to her at once.  Mrs. Willis, whom Mr. Ward had sent to
be her companion, went to her brother in the outer room, and left the
lovers alone in the quadra, where Mary could freely express her grief
and disappointment, her sorrow for the insult to her father, and her
apprehensions for the poor fugitive herself, whom she loved enough to
lament for exceedingly, and to recall every excuse that could be found
in a wretched education, a miserable state of society, a childish mind,
and religion presented to her in a form that did nothing to make it
less childish.

Mary's first recovery from the blow was shown by her remembering how
fatigued and heated Louis must be, and when she had given orders for
refreshment for him, and had thus resumed something of her ordinary
frame, he sat looking at her anxiously, and presently said, 'And what
will you do next, Mary!'

'I cannot tell.  Mrs. Willis and Mrs. ---- have both been asking me
very kindly to come to them, but I cannot let Mrs. Willis stay with me
away from her children.  Yet it seems hard on Mr. Ward that you should
be coming to me there.  I suppose I must go to Mrs. ----; but I waited
to consult you.  I had rather be at home, if it were right.'

'It may easily be made right,' quietly said Louis.

'How!' asked Mary.

'I find,' he continued, 'that the whole affair may be easily settled,
if you will give me authority.'

'I thought I had given you authority to act in my name.'

'It might be simplified.'

'Shall I sign my name!'

'Yes--once--to make mine yours.  If your claims are mine, I can take
much better care of the Dynevor interest.'

Mary rested her cheek on her hand, and looked at him with her grave
steady face, not very much discomposed after the first glimpse of his
meaning.

'Will you, Mary?'

'You know I will,' she said.

'Then there is no time to be lost.  Let it be to-morrow.  Yes'--going
on in the quiet deliberate tone that made it so difficult to interrupt
him--'then I could, in my own person, negotiate for the sale of the
mines.  I find there is an offer that Robson kept secret. I could wind
up the accounts, see what can be saved for the Northwold people, and
take you safe home by the end of a fortnight.'

'Oh, Louis!' cried Mary, almost sobbing, 'this will not do.  I cannot
entangle you in our ruinous affairs.'

'Insufficient objections are consent,' said Louis, smiling.  'Do you
trust me, Mary?'

'It is of no use to ask.'

'You think I am not to be trusted with affairs that have become my own!
I believe I am, Mary.  You know I must do my utmost for the Dynevors;
and I assure you I see my way.  I have no reasonable doubt of clearing
off all future liabilities.  You mean to let me arrange?'

'Yes, but--'

'Then why not obviate all awkward situations at once?'

'My father!  You should not ask it, Louis.'

'I would not hasten you, but for the sake of my own father, Mary.  He
is growing old, and I could not have left him for anything but the hope
of bringing him his own chosen daughter.  I want you to help me take
care of him, and we must not leave him alone to the long evenings and
cold winds.'

Mary was yielding--'I must not keep you from him,' she said, 'but
to-morrow--a Sunday, too--'

'Ah!  Mary, do you want gaiety!  No, if we cannot have it in a holy
place, let it at least have the consecration of the day--let us have
fifty-two wedding days a year instead of one.  Indeed, I would not
press you, but that I could take care of you so much better, and it is
not as if our acquaintance had not begun--how long ago--twenty-seven
years, I think?'

'Settle it as you like,' she managed to say, with a great flood of
tears-but what soft bright tears!  'I trust you.'

He saw she wanted solitude; he only stayed for a few words of earnest
thanks, and the assurance that secrecy and quietness would be best
assured by speed.  'I will come back,' he said, 'when I have seen to
the arrangement.  And there is one thing I must do first, one poor
fellow who must not be left in suspense any longer.'

Tired as he ought to have been, he lightly crossed the sala to the room
appropriated to business, where he had desired the two clerks to wait
for him, and where Tom Madison stood against the wall, with folded
arms, while Ford lounged in a disengaged attitude on a chair, but rose
alert and respectful at his appearance.

Louis asked one or two necessary questions on the custody of the office
for the night and ensuing day, and Ford made repeated assurances that
nothing would be found missing that had been left in his charge.  'I
believe you, Mr. Delaford,' said Fitzjocelyn, quietly.  'I do not think
the lower species of fraud was ever in your style.'

Delaford tried to open his lips, but visibly shook.  Louis answered,
what he had not yet said, 'I do not intend to expose you.  I think you
had what excuse neglect can give, and unless I should be called on
conscientiously to speak to your character, I shall leave you to make a
new one.'

Delaford began to stammer out thanks, and promises of explaining the
whole of Robson's peculations (little he knew the whole of them).

'There is one earnest of your return to sincerity that I require,' said
Louis.  'Explain at once the degree of your acquaintance with Charlotte
Arnold.'

Tom Madison still stood moody--affecting not to hear.

'Oh! my Lord, I did not know that you were interested in that young
person.'

'I am interested where innocence has been maligned,' said Louis,
sternly.

'I am sure, my Lord, nothing has ever passed at which the most
particular need take umbrage,' exclaimed Delaford.  'If Mr. Madison
will recollect, I mentioned nothing as the most fastidious need--'

Mr. Madison would not hear.

'You only inferred that she had not been insensible to your
attractions?'

'Why, indeed, my Lord, I flatter myself that in my time I have had the
happiness of not being unpleasing to the sex,' said Delaford, with a
sigh and a simper.

'It is a mortifying question, but you owe it to the young woman to
answer, whether she gave you any encouragement.'

'No, my Lord.  I must confess that she always spoke of a previous
attachment, and dashed my earlier hopes to the ground.'

'And the book of poems!  How came that to be in your possession?

Delaford confessed that it had been a little tribute, returned upon his
hands by the young lady in question.

'One question more, Mr. Delaford: what was the fact as to her lending
you means for your voyage?'

Delaford was not easily brought to confession on this head; but he did
at length own that he had gone in great distress to Charlotte, and had
appealed to her bounty; but he distinctly acknowledged that it was not
in the capacity of suitor; in fact, as he ended by declaring, he had
the pleasure of saying that there was no young person whom he esteemed
more highly than Miss Arnold, and that she had never given him the
least encouragement, such as need distress the happy man who had
secured her affections.

The happy man did not move till Delaford had left the room, when Louis
walked up to him and said, 'I can further tell you, of my own
knowledge, that that good girl refused large wages, and a lady's-maid's
place, partly because she would not live in the same house with that
man; and she has worked on with a faithful affection and constancy,
beyond all praise, as the single servant to Mr. and Mrs. Frost in their
distress.'

'Don't talk to me, my Lord,' cried Tom, turning away; 'I'm the most
unhappy man in the world!'

'I did not ask you to shake hands with Delaford to-night.  You will
another day.  He is only a vain coxcomb, and treated you to a little of
his conceit, with, perhaps, a taste of spite at a successful rival; but
he has only shown you what a possession you have in her.'

'You don't know what I've done, my Lord.  I have written her a letter
that she can never forgive!'

'You don't know what I've done, Tom.  I posted a letter by the mail
just starting from Callao--a letter to Mr. Frost, with a hint to
Charlotte that you were labouring under a little delusion; I knew, from
your first narration, that Ford could be no other than my old friend,
shorn of his beams.'

'That letter--' still muttered Tom.

'She'll forgive, and like you all the better for having afforded her a
catastrophe, Tom.  You may write by the next mail; unless, what is
better still, you come home with us by the same, and speak for
yourself.  If I am your master then, I'll give you the holiday.  Yes,
Tom, it was important to me to clear up your countenance, for I want to
bespeak your services to-morrow as my friend.'

'My Lord!' cried Tom, aghast.  'If you do require any such service,
though I should not have thought it, there are many nearer your own
rank, officers and gentlemen fitter for an affair of the kind.  I never
knew anything about fire-arms, since I gave up poaching.'

'Indeed, Tom, I am very far from intending to dispense with your
services.  I want you to guide me to procure the required weapon!'

'Surely,' said Tom, with a deep, reluctant sigh, 'you never crossed the
Isthmus without one?'

'Yes, indeed, I did; I never saw the party there whom I should have
liked to challenge in this way.  Why, Tom, did you really think I had
come out to Peru to fight a duel on a Sunday morning?'

'That's what comes of living in this sort of place.  Duels are meat and
drink to the people here,' said Tom, ashamed and relieved, 'and there
have been those who told me it was all that was wanting to make me a
gentleman.  But in what capacity am I to serve you, my Lord!'

'In the first place, tell me where I may procure a wedding-ring! Yes,
Tom, that's the weapon!   You've no objection to being my friend in
that capacity!'

Tom's astonished delight went beyond the bounds of expression, and
therefore was compressed into an almost grim 'Whatever you will, my
Lord;' but two hot tears were gushing from his eyes.  He dashed them
away, and added, 'What a fool I am!  You'll believe me, my Lord, though
I can't speak, that, though there may be many nearer and more your
equals, there's none on earth more glad and happy to see you so, than
myself.'

'I believe it, indeed, Tom; shake hands, to wish me joy; I am right
glad to have one here from Ormersfield, to make it more home-like. For,
though it is a hurry at last, you can guess what she has been to me
from the first.  Knowing her thoroughly has been one of the many, many
benefits that Ferny dell conferred on me.'

There was no time for more than to enjoin silence.  Louis had to hurry
to the Consul and the Chaplain, and to overcome their astonishment.

On the other hand, Mary was, as usual, seeking and recovering the
balance of her startled spirits in her own chamber.  She saw the matter
wisely and simply, and had full confidence in Louis, with such a
yearning for his protection that, it may be, the strange suddenness of
the proposal cost her the less.  She came forth and announced her
intention to Mrs. Willis, who was inclined to resent it as derogatory
to the dignity of womanhood, and the privileges of a bride; but Mary
smiled and answered that, 'when he had taken so much trouble for her,
she could not give him any more by things of that sort.  She must be as
little in his way as possible.'

And Mrs. Willis sighed, and pitied her, but was glad that she should be
off her poor brother's mind as soon as might be, and was glad to resign
her task of chaperoning her.

Only three persons beyond the Consul's family knew what was about to
happen, when Miss Ponsonby, in her deep mourning, attended the morning
service in the large hall at the Consul-house; and such eyes as were
directed towards the handsome stranger, only gazed at the unwonted
spectacle of an English nobleman, not with the more eager curiosity
that would have been attached to him had all been known.

Mr. Ward lingered a few moments, and begged for one word with Miss
Ponsonby. She could not but comply, and came to meet him, blushing, but
composed, in that simple, frank kindness which only wished to soften
the disappointment.

'Mary,' he said, 'I am not come to harass you.  I have done so long
enough, and I would not have tormented you, but on that one head I did
not do justice to your judgment.  I see now how vain my hope was. I am
glad to have met him--I am glad to know how worthy of you he is, and to
have seen you in such hands.'

'You are very kind to speak so,' said Mary.

'Yes, Mary, I could not have borne to part with you, if I were not
convinced that he is a good man as well as an able man.  I might have
known that you would not choose otherwise.  I shall see your name among
the great ladies of the land.  I came to say something else.  I wished
to thank you for the many happy hours I have spent with you, though you
never for a moment trifled with me.  It was I who deceived myself.
Good-bye, Mary.  Perhaps you will write to my sister, and let her know
of your arrival.'

'I will write to you, if you please,' said Mary.

'It will be a great pleasure,' he said, earnestly.  'And will you let
me be of any use in my power to you and Lord Fitzjocelyn?'

'Indeed, we shall be most grateful.   You have been a most kind and
forbearing friend.  I should like to know that you were happy,' said
Mary, lingering, and hardly knowing what to say.

'My little nieces are fond enough of their uncle.  My sister wants me.
In short, you need not vex yourself about me.  Some day, when I am an
old man, I may come and bring you news of Lima.  Meanwhile, you will
sometimes wear this bracelet, and remember that you have an old friend.
I shall call on Lord Fitzjocelyn at the office to-morrow, and see if we
can find any clue to Robson's retreat.  Good-bye, and blessings on you,
Mary.'

Mary rejoined Louis, to speak to him of the kind and noble man who so
generously and resolutely bore the wreck of his hopes.  They walked up
and down together in the cool shade of the trees in the Consul's
garden, and they spoke of the unselfishness which seemed to take away
the smart from the wound of disappointment.  They spoke sometimes, but
the day was for the most part spent in the sweetness of pensive, happy
silence, musing with full hearts over this crowning of their long
deferred hopes, and not without prayer that the same protecting Hand
might guide them, as they should walk together through life.

By-and-by Mary disappeared.  She would perhaps have preferred her
ordinary dress--but the bridal white seemed to her to be due both to
Louis and to the solemn rite and mystery; and when the time came, she
met him, in her plain white muslin and long veil, confined by a few
sprays of real orange flowers, beneath which her calmly noble face was
seen, simple and collected as ever, forgetting in her earnestness all
adjuncts that might have been embarrassing or distressing.

The large hall was darkening with twilight, and the flowers and
branches that decked it showed gracefully in the subdued light. Prayer
and praise had lately echoed there, and Louis and Mary could feel that
He was with them who blessed the pair at Cana, far distant as they were
from their own church--their own home.  Yes, the Church, their mother,
their home, was with them in her sacred ritual and her choice
blessings, and their consciences were free from self-will, or
self-pleasing, such as would have put far from them the precious gifts
promised in the name of their Lord.

When it was over, and they first raised their eyes to one another's
faces, each beheld in the other a look of entire thankful content, not
the less perfect because it was grave and peaceful.

'I think mamma would be quite happy,' said Mary.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE MARVEL OF PERU.

  Turn, Angelina, ever dear,
    My charmer, turn to see
  Thy own, thy long-lost Edwin here,
    Restored to love and thee,
                              GOLDSMITH.


Lord Ormersfield sat alone in the library, where the fire burnt more
for the sake of cheerfulness than of warmth.  His eyes were weary with
reading, and, taking off his spectacles, he turned his chair away from
the table, and sat gazing into the fire, giving audience to dreamy
thoughts.

He missed the sunny face ever prompt to watch his moods, and find or
make time for the cheerful word or desultory chat which often broke and
refreshed drier occupation.  He remembered when he had hardly tolerated
the glass of flowers, the scraps of drawing, the unbusinesslike books
at his son's end of the table, but the room looked dull without them
now, and he was ready to own the value of the grace and finish of life,
hindering the daily task from absorbing the whole man, as had been the
case with himself in middle life.

Somewhat of the calm of old age had begun to fall on the Earl, and he
had latterly been wont to think more deeply.  These trifles could not
have spoken to his heart save for their connexion with his son, and
even Louis's tastes would have worn out with habit, had it not been for
the radiance permanent in his own mind, namely, the thankful, adoring
love that finds the true brightness in "whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report."
This spirit it was which had kept his heart fresh, his spirit youthful,
and changed constitutional versatility into a power of hearty
adaptation to the least congenial tastes.

Gentleness, affection, humility, and refinement were in his nature.
Mrs. Frost had trained these qualities into the beauty of Christian
graces; and Mrs. Ponsonby and her daughter had taught him to bring his
high principles to supply that which was wanting.  Indolence of will,
facility of disposition, unsteadiness of purpose, inconsiderate
impulses without perseverance, had all betokened an inherent weakness,
which the Earl's cure, ambition, had been powerless to remedy; but duty
had been effectual in drawing strength out of what had been feeble by
nature.  It was religion that had made a man of Louis; and his father
saw and owned it, no longer as merely the woman's guide in life and the
man's resource chiefly in death, to be respected and moderately
attended to, but never so as to interfere unreasonably with the world.
No; he had learnt that it was the only sure and sound moving-spring: he
knew it as his son's strengthening, brightening thread of life; and
began to perceive that his own course might have been less gloomy and
less harsh, devoid of such dark strands, had he held the right clue.
The contrast brought back some lines which, without marking, he had
heard Louis and his aunt reading together, and, albeit little wont to
look into his son's books, he was so much haunted by the rhythm that he
rose and searched them out--

          Yea, mark him well, ye cold and proud,
          Bewildered in a heartless crowd,
            Starting and turning pale
              At rumour's angry din:
            No storm can now assail
              The charm he bears within.
          Rejoicing still, and doing good,
          And with the thought of God imbued,
            No glare of high estate,
              No gloom of woe or want,
            The radiance may abate,
              Where Heaven delights to haunt.


The description went to his heart, so well did it agree with Louis. Yet
there was a sad feeling, for the South American mail had been some days
due, and he had not heard of his son since he was about to land at
Callao.  Five months was a long absence; and as the chances of failure,
disappointment, climate, disease, and shipwreck arose before him, he
marvelled at himself for having consented to peril his sole treasure,
and even fancied that a solitary, childless old age might be the
penalty in store for having waited to be led heavenward by his son.

It was seldom that the Earl gave way, and, reproaching himself for his
weakness, he roused himself and rang the bell for better light. There
was a movement in the house, and for some moments the bell was not
answered; but presently the door was opened.

'Bring the other lamp.'

'Yes, my Lord.'

The slow, soft voice did not belong to Frampton.  He started up, and
there stood Louis!

'My dear father,' he said; and Lord Ormersfield sprang up, grasped his
son's hand, and laid the other hand on his shoulder, but durst ask no
questions, for the speedy return seemed to bespeak that he had failed.
He looked in Louis's face, and saw it full of emotion, with dew on the
eyelashes; but suddenly a sweet archness gleamed in the eyes, and he
steadied his trembling lip to say with a smile,

'Lady Fitzjocelyn!'

And that very moment Mary was in Lord Ormersfield's arms.

'My children! my dear children, happy at last!  God bless you!  This is
all I ever wished!'

He held a hand of each, and looked from one to the other till Mary
turned away to hide her tears of joy; and Louis, with his eyes still
moist, began talking, to give her time to recover.

'You will forgive our not writing?  We landed this morning, found the
last mail was not come in, and could not help coming on.  We knew you
would be anxious, and thought you would not mind the suddenness.'

'No, indeed,' said his father; 'if all surprises were like this one!
But you are the loser, Mary.  I am afraid this is not the reception for
a bride!'

'Mary has dispensed with much that belongs to a bride,' said Louis.
'See here!' and, seizing her hand, he began pulling off her glove, till
she did it for him; 'did you ever see such a wedding-ring?--a great,
solid thing of Peruvian gold, with a Spanish posy inside!'

'I like it,' said Mary; 'it shows--'

'What you are worth, eh, Mary?  Well! here we are!  It seems real at
last!  And you, father, have you been well?'

'Yes, well indeed, now I have you both!  But how came you so quickly?
You never brought her across the Isthmus?'

'Indeed I did.  She would come.  It was her first act of rebellion; for
we were not going to let you meet the frosts alone--the October frosts,
I mean; I hope the Dynevor Frosts are all right?'

Frampton was here seen at the open door, doubtful whether to intrude;
yet, impelled by necessity, as he caught Fitzjocelyn's eye, he,
hesitating, said--

'My Lord, the Spanish gentleman!'

'The greatest triumph of my life!' cried Louis, actually clapping his
hands together with ecstacy, to the butler's extreme astonishment.

'Why, Frampton, don't you know him?'

'My Lord!!!'

'Let me introduce you, then, to--Mr. Thomas Madison!' and, as Frampton
still stood perplexed, looking at the fine, foreign-looking man, who
was keeping in the background, busied with the luggage, Louis
continued, 'You cannot credit such a marvel of Peru!'

'Young Madison, my Lord!' repeated Frampton, slowly coming to his
senses.

'No other.  He has done Lady Fitzjocelyn and all of us infinite
service,' continued Louis, quickly, to prevent Madison's reception from
receiving a fall in proportion to the grandeur of the first impression.
'He is to stay here for a short time before going to his appointment at
Bristol, in Mr. Ward's counting-house, with a salary of 180 pounds. I
shall be much obliged if you will make him welcome.'

And, returning in his glee to the library, Louis found Mary explaining
how 'a gentleman at Lima,' who had long professed to covet so good a
clerk as Madison, had, on the break-up of their firm, offered him a
confidential post, for which he was well fitted by his knowledge of the
Spanish language and the South American trade, to receive the cargoes
sent home.  'In truth,' said Louis, coming in, 'I had reason to be
proud of my pupil.  We could never have found our way through the
accounts without him; and the old Cornish man, whom we sent for from
the mines, gave testimony to him such as will do Mr. Holdsworth's heart
good.  But nothing is equal to Frampton's taking him for a Spanish Don!'

'And poor Delaford's witness was quite as much to his credit,' said
Mary.

'Ay! if Delaford had not been equally willing to depose against him
when he was the apparent Catiline!' said Louis.  'Poor Delaford! he was
very useful to us, after all; and I should be glad to know he had a
better fate than going off to the diggings with a year's salary in his
pocket!'

(Footnote.  A recent writer relates that he found the near relation of
a nobleman gaining a scanty livelihood as shoe-black at the diggings.
Query.  Might not this be Mr. Delaford?)

'Then everything is settled?' asked his father.

'Almost everything.  The mines are off our hands, and the transfer will
be completed as soon as Oliver has sent his signature; and there's
quite enough saved to make them very comfortable.  You have told me
nothing of them yet?'

'They are all very well.  James has been coming here twice a-week since
I have been at home, and has been very attentive and pleasant; but I
have not been at the Terrace much.  There never was such a houseful of
children.  Oliver's room is the only place where one is safe from
falling over two or three.  However, they seem to like it, and to
think, the more the better.  James came over here the morning after the
boy was born, as much delighted as if he had had any prospects.'

'A boy at last!  Poor Mr. Dynevor!  Does he take it as an insult to his
misfortunes?'

'He seems as well pleased as they; and, in fact, I hope the boy may
not, after all, be unprovided for.  Mr. Mansell wrote to offer to be
godfather, and I thought I could not do otherwise than ask him to stay
here.  I am glad I did so, for he told me that now he has seen for
himself the noble way they are going on in, he has made up his mind.
He has no relation nearer than Isabel, and he means to make his will in
favour of her son.  He asked whether I would be a trustee, but I said I
was growing old, and had little doubt you would be glad enough.  You
will have plenty of such work, Louis.  It is very dangerous to be known
as a good man-of-business, and good-natured.'

'Pray, how does Jem bear it?'

'With tolerable equanimity.  It may be many years before the child is
affected by it, if Mrs. Mansell has it for her life.  Besides, James is
a wiser man than he used to be.'

'He has been somewhat like Robinson Crusoe's old goat,' said Louis.
'Poor Jem! the fall and the scanty fare tamed him.  I liked him so well
before, that I did not know how much better I was yet to like him.
Mary, you must see his workhouse.  Giving up his time to it as he does,
he does infinite good there.'

'Yes, Mr. Calcott says that he lives in fear of some one offering him a
living,' said Lord Ormersfield.

'And the dear old Giraffe?' said Louis.

'Clara?  She is looking almost handsome.  I wish some good man would
marry her.  She would make an excellent wife.'

'I am not ready to spare her yet,' said Mary; 'I must make acquaintance
with her before any excellent man carries her off.'

'But there is a marriage that will surprise you,' said the Earl; 'your
eldest cousin, whose name I can never remember--'

'Virginia,' cried Louis.  'Captain Lonsdale, I hope!'

'What could have made you fix on him?'

'Because the barricades could not have been in vain, and he was an
excellent fellow, to whom I owe a great deal of gratitude.  He kept my
aunt's terrors in abeyance most gallantly; and little Virginia drank in
his words, and built up a hero!  But how was it?'

'You remember that Lady Conway would not take our advice, and stay
quietly at home.  On the first steamer she fell in with this captain,
and it seems that she was helpless enough, without her former butler,
to be very grateful to him for managing her passports and conducting
her through Germany.  And the conclusion was, that she herself had
encouraged him so far, that she really had not any justification in
refusing when he proposed for the young lady, as he is fairly provided
for.'

'My poor aunt!  No one ever pities her when she is 'hoist with her own
petard!'  I am glad poor Virginia is to be happy in her own way.'

'I shall send my congratulations to-morrow,' said the Earl, smiling
triumphantly, 'and a piece of intelligence of my own.  At H. B. M.
Consul's, Lima--what day was it, Louis?'

Mary ran away to take off her bonnet, as much surprised by the Earl's
mirth as if she had seen primroses in December.  Yet such blossoms are
sometimes tempted forth; and affection was breathing something like a
second spring on the life so long unnaturally chilled and blighted.
If his shoulders were bowed, his figure had lost much of its rigidity;
and though his locks were thinned and whitened, and his countenance
slightly aged, yet the softened look and the more frequent smile had
smoothed away the sternness, and given gentleness to his dignity.

No sooner was she out of the room than Lord Ormersfield asked, 'And
what have you done with the Spanish woman?'

The answer excited a peal of laughter, which made Louis stand aghast,
both at such unprecedented merriment and at the cause; for hitherto he
had so entirely felt with Mary, as never to have seen the ludicrous
aspect of the elopement.  Presently, however, he was amused by
perceiving that his father not merely regarded it as a relief from an
embarrassing charge, but as an entire acquittal for his own conscience
for any slanders he had formerly believed of Dona Rosita.

Louis briefly explained that, the poor lady being provided for by
Robson's investments in America, he had thought it right that the
Ponsonby share of the firm should bear the loss through these
embezzlements; and he had found that her extravagance had made such
inroads on the property, that while the Dynevor share (always the
largest) resulted in a fair competence, Louis had saved nothing out of
the wreck of the Ponsonby affairs but Mary herself.  'Can you excuse
it, father?' he said, with all the old debonnaire manner.

'You will never be a rich man, Louis.  You and she will have some
cares, but--' and his voice grew thick--'you are rich in what makes
life happy.  You have left me nothing more to ask or wish for!'

'Except that I may be worthy of her, father.  You first taught me how
she ought to be loved.  You have been very patient with me all this
time.  I feel as if I must thank you for her--' and then, changing his
tone as she opened the door--'Look at her now she has her bonnet
off--does not she look natural?'

'I am sure I feel so,' said Mary.  'You know this always seemed more
like home than anything else.'

'Yes, and now I do feel sure that I have you at last, Mary.  That
Moorish castle of yours used to make me afraid of wakening: it was so
much fitter for Isabel's fantastic Viscount.  By-the-bye, has she
brought that book out?'

'Oh, yes, and James is nearly as proud of it as he is of his son.  He
actually wanted me to read it!  He tells me it is selling very well,
and I hope it may really bring them in something.'

'Now, then--there's the tea.  Sit down, Mary, and look exactly as you
did the morning I came home and found you.'

'I'm afraid I cannot,' said Mary, looking up in his face with an arch,
deprecating expression.

'Why not?'

'Don't you know that I am so much happier?'

Before breakfast next morning Fitzjocelyn must visit his farm, and Mary
must come with him.

How delicious was that English morning after their voyage; the slant
rays of the sun silvering the turf, and casting rainbows across the
gossamer threads from one brown bent to another; the harvest fields on
the slopes dotted with rich sheaves of wheat; the coppices, in their
summer glory, here and there touched with the gold of early autumn, and
the slopes and meadows bright with lively green, a pleasant change for
eyes fresh from the bare, rugged mountain-side and the rank unwholesome
vegetation of Panama.  Shaggy little Scottish oxen were feeding on the
dewy grass, their black coats looking sleek in the sun beyond the long
shadows of the thorns; but as Mary said, laughing, 'Only Farmer
Fitzjocelyn's cattle came here now,' and she stopped more than once to
be introduced to some notable animal, or to hear the history of
experiments in fatting beasts.

'There! they have found you out!  That's for you,' said Louis, as a
merry peal of bells broke out from the church tower, and came joyously
up through the tranquil air.  'Yes, Ormersfield, you are greeting a
friend!  You may be very glad, old place!  I wish Mr. Holdsworth would
come up to breakfast!  Is it too wet for you this way, Mary?'

This way was into Fernydell, and Mary answered, 'Oh, no--no; it is
where I most wanted to go with you.  We have never been there together
since--'

'No, you never would walk with me after I could go alone!' said Louis,
with a playful tone of reproach, veiling deep feeling.

In silence he handed her down the rocky steps, plunging deeper among
the hazels and rowan-trees; then pausing, he turned aside the luxuriant
leaves of a tuft of hartstongue, and showed her, cut on a stone, veiled
both by the verdure and the form of the rock, the letters--

                  Deo Gratias,
                   L. F. 1847.


'I like that!' was all that Mary's full heart allowed her to say.

'Yes,' said Louis, 'I feel quite as thankful for the accident as for
the preservation.'

'And that dear mamma was with us,' added Mary.  'Between her and you,
it was a blessing to us all.  I see these letters are not new; you must
have cut them out long ago.'

'As soon as I could get here without help,' he answered.  'I thought I
should be able to find the very spot where I lay, by remembering the
cross which the bare mountain-ash boughs made against the sky; but by
that time they were all leaf and flower; and now, do you see, there
they are, with the fruit just formed and blushing.'

'Like other things,' said Mary, reaching after the spray, 'once all
blossom, now--'

'Fruit very unripe,' as he said, between a smile and a sigh; 'but there
is some encouragement in the world after all, and every project of mine
has not turned out like my two specimens of copper ore.  You remember
them, Mary and our first encounter?'

'Remember it!' said Mary.  'I don't think I forgot a day of that
summer.'

'What I brought you here for,' said Louis, 'was to ask you to let me do
what I have long wished--to let me put the letter M here?'

'I think you might have done it without leave,' said Mary.

'So I might at first, but by the time I came here again, Mary, you had
become in my estimation 'a little more than kin,' and less than--no, I
wont say that, but one could not treat you as comfortably as Clara.  I
lost a cousin one August day, and never found her again!'

'Never?'

'Never--but the odd thing is, that I cannot believe that what I did
find has been away these seven years.'

'Yes, that is very strange,' said Mary; 'I have felt it so.  Wo do seem
to understand and guess each other's thoughts as if we had been going
on together all this time.  I believe it is because you gave me the
first impulse to think, and taught me the way.'

'And I know who first taught me to think to any purpose,' said Louis,
smiling.  'But who is this descending on us?'

It was the Spanish gentleman, reddening all over at such an encounter,
in mid-career towards her at the Terrace, and muttering something,
breathless and almost surly, about begging pardon.

'Look here, Tom,' said Louis, lifting the leaves to show the letters.
'That is all I ever could feel on that matter, and so should you.
There, no more about it,--you want to be on your way; and tell Mr.
Frost that we shall be at Northwold in the afternoon.'

About half an hour after, Clara was delicately blowing the dust out of
the wreath of forget-me-nots on the porcelain shepherdess's hat, when a
shriek resounded through the house, and, barely saving the Arcadian in
her start, she rushed downstairs.  James, in his shirt-sleeves, was
already on his way to the kitchen.  There Kitty was found, too much
frightened, to run away, making lunges with the toasting-fork at a
black-bearded figure, who held in his arms Charlotte Arnold, in a fit
of the almost forgotten hysterics.  The workhouse girl shrieked for the
police; Jane was at Master Oliver's door, prepared for flight or
defence; Isabel stood on the stairs, with her baby in her arms, and her
little flock clinging to her skirts, when Clara darted back, laughing
too much to speak distinctly, as she tried to explain who the ruffian
really was.

'And Louis is coming, and Mary!  Oh! Isabel, he has her at last!  Oh!
Jem! Jem! did we ever want dear granny so much!  I always knew it would
come right at last!  Jane, Jane, do you hear, Lord Fitzjocelyn is
married!  Let me in; I must go and tell Uncle Oliver!'

James looked at Isabel, and read in her smile Clara's final acquittal
from all suspicions beneath the dignity of both.  Uncle Oliver would
have damped her joy, had it been in his power.  He gave up his affairs
as hopeless, as soon as he found that young Fitzjocelyn had only made
them an excuse for getting married, and he was so excessively angry
with her for being happy, that she found she must carry her joyous face
out of his sight.

It was not easy to be a dignified steady governess that morning, and
when the lessons were finished, she could have danced home all the way.
She had scarcely reached the Terrace gate, when the well-known sound of
the wheels was heard, and in another moment she was between the two
dear cousins; Fitzjocelyn's eyes dancing with gladsomeness, and Mary's
broad tranquil brow and frank kindly smile, free from the shadow of a
single cloud!  Clara's heart leapt up with joy, joy full and unmixed,
the guerdon of the spirit untouched by vanity or selfishness, without
one taint that could have mortified into jealous, disappointed pain.
It was bliss to one of those whom she loved best, it was the winning of
a brother and sister, and perhaps Clara's life had never had a happier
moment.

Lord Ormersfield could have thanked her for that joyous, innocent
welcome.  He had paid her attentions for his son's sake, of which he
had become rather ashamed; and as Louis and Mary hastened on to meet
James and Isabel, he detained her for a moment, to say some special
words of kindness.  Clara, perhaps, had an intuitive perception of his
meaning, and reference to her past heiress state, for she laughed
gaily, and said, 'Yes, I never was more glad of anything!  He was so
patient that I was sure he deserved it!  I always trusted to such a
time as this, when he used to talk to me for want of dear grandmamma.'

Mary was led upstairs to be introduced to the five children, while the
gentlemen went over the accounts in Oliver's room.  Enough had been
rescued from the ruin to secure, not wealth, but fair competence; the
mines were disposed of to a company which would pay the value by
instalments, and all the remainder of the business was in train to be
easily wound up by Mr. Ward.  Mr. Dynevor's gratitude was not
overpowering: he was short and dry, privately convinced that he could
have managed matters much better himself, and charging all the loss on
Fitzjocelyn's folly in letting Robson escape.  But, though James was
hurt at his unthankfulness, and Lord Ormersfield could have been very
angry, the party most concerned did not take it much to heart; he
believed he had done his best, but an experienced eye might detect
blunders, and he knew it was hard to trust affairs out of one's own
hands.

Even the Earl was glad to escape to the sitting-room, though every one
was talking at once, and Mercy the loudest; and Louis, as the children
would call him in spite of their mamma, was at once seized on by Kitty
to be introduced to 'our brother.'

'And what is his name, Kitty?'

'Woland!' shouted all the young ladies in chorus.

'Sir Woland is in the book that mamma did make,' said Kitty.

Louis looked at Isabel with laughing eyes.

'It was Uncle Oliver's great wish,' she said, 'and we did not wish to
remember the days of Sir Hubert.'

Before Lord Ormersfield was quite deafened, Louis recollected that they
must show Mary at the House Beautiful; and they took leave.  The Earl
begged James to come back to dinner with them, and Louis asked if Clara
could not find room in the carriage too.  It was the earnest of what
Ormersfield was to be to her henceforth, and she was all delight, and
earnestness to be allowed to walk home with James by starlight.  And
the evening realized all she could wish.  The gentlemen had their
conversation in the dining-room, and Mary and Clara sat on the steps
together in the warm twilight, and talked of granny; and Clara poured
out all that Mary did not yet know of Louis.

'I hear you have been in hysterics again,' had been Lord Fitzjocelyn's
greeting to Charlotte.  'You are prepared for the consequences.'

Charlotte was prepared.  The mutual pardon had not been very hard to
gain, and Tom had only to combat her declarations that it was downright
presumptuous for her to have more than master had a year, and her
protests that she could not leave her mistress and the dear children in
their poverty.  The tidings that they were relieved from their present
straits answered this scruple, and Charlotte was a pretty picture of
shrinking exultation when she conducted her betrothed to Mrs. Martha,
who, however, declared that she would not take his hundred and eighty
pounds a year--no, nor twice that,--to marry him in that there black
beard.

Mrs. Beckett made him exceedingly welcome, and he spent the chief part
of his time at No. 5, where he was much more at ease than at
Ormersfield.  He confessed that, though not given to bashfulness before
any man, there was something in Mr. Frampton's excessive civility that
quite overcame him, and made him always expect to be kicked out of
doors the next minute for sauciness.

Charlotte's whirlwinds of feeling had nearly expended themselves in
that one shock of meeting.  The years of cheerful toil, and the weeks
of grief and suspense, had been good training for that silly little
heart, and the prospect of her new duties brought on her a sobering
sense of responsibility.  She would always be tender and clinging, but
the fragrant woodbine would be trained round a sound, sturdy oak, and
her modesty, gentleness, and sincerity, gave every promise of her being
an excellent wife.

Tom had little time to spare before undertaking his new office, and it
was better that the parting should be speedy, for it was a grievous
one, both to the little bride and to Isabel and the children.  Friend
rather than servant, her place could be ill supplied by the two maids
who were coming in her room, and Isabel could have found it in her
heart to sympathize with Mercy and Salome in their detestation of the
black man who was coming to take away their dear Charlotte.

Clara's first outlay, on her restoration to comparative wealth, was on
Charlotte's wedding-dress.  It was a commission given to Mary, when
with Fitzjocelyn, she went to London for one day, to put the final
stroke to the dissolution of the unfortunate firm, and to rejoice Aunt
Melicent with the sight of her happiness.

Good old Miss Ponsonby's heart was some degrees softer and less narrow
than formerly.  She had a good many prejudices left, but she did not
venture on such sweeping censures as in old times, and she would have
welcomed Lord Ormersfield with real cordiality, for the sake of his
love to her Mary.  Indeed, Louis's fascinations and Mary's bright face
had almost persuaded her into coming home with them; but the confirmed
Londoner prevailed, and she had a tyrant maid-servant, who would not
let her go, even to the festival at Ormersfield in honour of her niece.

The Earl was bent on rejoicings for his son's marriage, and Louis
dexterously managed that the banquet should take place on the day fixed
for Tom's wedding, thus casting off all oppressive sense of display, by
regarding it as Madison's feast instead of his own. Clara, who seemed
to have been set free from governess tasks solely to be the willing
slave of all the world, worked as hard as Mary and Louis at all the
joyous arrangements; nor was the festival itself, like many such
events, less bright than the previous toils.

The wedding took place in Ormersfield Church, on a bright September
morning; James Frost performed the marriage, Lord Fitzjocelyn gave the
bride away, and little Kitty was the bridesmaid.  The ring was of
Peruvian gold, and the brooch that clasped the bride's lace collar was
of silver from the San Benito mine.  In her white bonnet and
dove-coloured silk, she looked as simple and ladylike as she was
pretty, and a very graceful contrast to her Spanish gentleman
bridegroom.

The Ormersfield bowling-green, which was wont to be so still and
deserted, hemmed in by the dark ilex belt, beheld such a scene as had
not taken place there since its present master was a boy.  There were
long tables spread for guests of all ranks and degrees.  Louis had his
own way with the invitations, and had gathered a miscellaneous host.
Sir Miles Oakstead had come to see his old friend made happy, and to
smile as he was introduced to the rose-coloured pastor in his glass
case.  Mr. Calcott was there, and Mrs. Calcott, all feuds with Mrs.
James Frost long since forgotten; and Sir Gilbert Brewster shone in his
colonel's uniform,--for Lady Fitzjocelyn had intimated a special desire
that all the members of the yeomanry should appear in costume; and many
a young farmer's wife and sister came all the more proudly, in the fond
belief that her own peculiar hero looked in his blue and silver 'as
well as Lord Fitzjocelyn himself.'  And Miss Mercy Faithful was there,
watching over Oliver, to make up for the want of her sister.  And old
Mr. Walby was bowing and gossiping with many a patient; and James, with
his little brown woman in his hand, was looking after the party of
paupers for whom he had obtained a holiday; and Mr. Holdsworth was
keeping guard over his village boys, whose respectable parents remained
in two separate throngs, male and female; and Clara Frost was here,
there, and everywhere--now setting Mrs. Richardson at ease, now
carrying little Mercy to look at the band, now conveying away Salome
when frightened, now finding a mother for a village child taken with a
sobbing fit of shyness, now conducting a stray schoolboy to his
companions, now running up for a few gay words to her old uncle, to
make sure that he was neither chilly nor tired.  How pleasant it was to
her to mingle with group after group of people, and hear from one and
another how handsome and how happy Lord Fitzjocelyn looked, and Lady
Fitzjocelyn quite beautiful; and, then, as they walked from party to
party, setting all at ease and leaving pleased looks wherever they
went, to cross them now and then, and exchange a blithe smile or merry
remark.

No melancholy gaps here! thought she, as she helped her uncle to the
easy chair prepared for him at the dinner-table; no spiritless
curiosity, no forced attempts to display what no one felt!

There must needs be toasts, and such as thought themselves assembled
for the sake of the 'marriage in high life,' were taken by surprise
when Lord Fitzjocelyn rose, and began by thanking those assembled for
assisting in doing honour to the event of the day--the marriage of two
persons, for each of whom he himself as well as those most dear to him
felt the warmest respect and gratitude for essential services and
disinterested attachment, alike in adversity and in prosperity.
Unpleasant as he knew it was to have such truths spoken to one's face,
he could not deny himself the satisfaction of expressing a portion of
the esteem and reverence he felt for such noble conduct as had been
displayed by those whose health he had the pleasure to propose--Mr. and
Mrs. Thomas Madison.

'There,' was his aside, as he sat down, 'I only hope I have not made
him surly; poor fellow, I have put him in a predicament, but it could
not be otherwise!'

Clara had tears in her eyes, but not like those she had shed at
Cheveleigh; James gave Louis a look of heartfelt gratitude, bowed the
lowest to the happy pair, and held up little Kitty that her imitative
nod and sip might not be lost upon them.

Mrs. Beckett said, 'Well, I never!  If ever a girl deserved it,'
choked, and flourished her white handkerchief; Frampton saluted like my
Lord and Louis XIV. rolled into one; and Warren and Gervas privately
agreed that they did not know what was coming of the world, since
Marksedge poachers had only to go to foreign parts to be coined goold
in the silver mines.  Mrs. Madison's pretty face was all blushes,
smiles, and tears.  Mr. Madison rose to reply with unexpected alacrity,
and Louis was soon relieved from anxiety, at least, as far as regarded
his eloquence, for he thought in the majestic Spanish idiom, and
translated as he went--

'My Lords,' he began, 'gentlemen and ladies and neighbours, my Lord
Fitzjocelyn has done my wife and myself an honour as unlooked-for as
undeserved; and the manner of the favour is such that we shall carry
the grateful remembrance to the end of our lives.  He has been so
condescending as to speak of such services as it was in our power to
render; but he has passed over in silence that which gives him a claim
to the utmost that I could place at his feet.  He will forgive me for
speaking openly, for I cannot refrain from disburthening my mind, and
letting you know, even more than you are at present aware of, what your
Senor--what your Lord truly is.  Most of you have known me but too
well.  It is not ten years since I was a rude, untaught boy upon the
heath, such as a large proportion of those present would deem beneath
their notice: Lord Fitzjocelyn did not think so.  His kindness of
manner and encouraging words awakened in me new life and energy.  He
gave me his time and his teaching, and, what was far more, he gave me
his sympathy and his example.  It was these which gave vitality to
lessons dimly understood, or which had fallen dead on my ears, when
only heard in my irregular attendance at school. But the work in me was
tardy, and at first I requited his kindness with presumption,
insubordination, and carelessness.  Then, when I had been dismissed,
and when my wilful neglect had occasioned the accident of which the
traces are still only too visible, then, did I not merit to be exposed
and cast off for ever?  I knew it, and I fled, as if I could leave
behind me my grief and my shame.  Little did I dare to guess that he
was dealing with me as though I had been his own brother, and
scrupulously concealing my share in the misfortune.  When I returned,
sullen and overwhelmed, he alone--yes! and while still suffering
severely--spoke a kind word to me, and exerted himself to rescue me
from the utter ruin and degradation to which despair would have led me.
He placed me in the situation which conducted me to my present
position; he gave me the impulse to improve myself; and, above all, he
infused into me the principles without which the rest would have been
mere temptations.  If I have been blest beyond my deserts--if I have
been prosperous beyond reasonable expectation--if, among numerous
failures, I have withstood some evils--all, under the greatest and
highest Benefactor, is owing to the kindness, and, above all, to the
generous forbearance of Lord Fitzjocelyn.  I wish I could testify my
gratitude in any better manner than by speaking of him to his face; but
I am sure you will all drink his health more heartily, if possible, for
knowing one more trait in addition to your own personal experience of
his character!'

Alas! that all things hidden, and yet to be proclaimed on the
house-tops, would bear the light as well as Fitzjocelyn's secret!  The
revelation of this unobtrusive act of patience and forbearance excited
a perfect tumult of enthusiasm among persons already worked up to great
ardour for one so beloved; and shouts, and even tears, on every side
strove in vain to express the response to Madison's words.

'Too bad, Tom!' was Louis's muttered comment.

'You are paid in your own coin,' retorted Mary, raising her glistening
eyes, full of archness.

'I perceive it is no surprise to you, Lady Fitzjocelyn!' said Sir Miles
Oakstead; 'and, I own, nothing from that quarter' (nodding at Louis)
'surprises me greatly.'

'She practised eavesdropping,' said Louis, 'when the poor fellow was
relieving his mind by a confession to the present Mrs. Madison.'

'And I think Mrs. Madison and I deserve credit for having kept the
secret so long,' said Mary.

'It explains,' observed Mr. Holdsworth.  'I did not understand your
power over Madison.'

'It was the making of us both,' said Louis; 'and a very fine specimen
of the grandeur of that rough diamond.  It elucidates what I have
always said, that if you can but find the one vulnerable place, there
is a wonderful fund of nobleness in some of these people.'

'Do you take this gentleman as an average specimen?'

'Every ploughboy is not an undeveloped Madison; but in every parish
there may be some one with either the _thinking_ or the rising element
in his composition; and if the right ingredient be not added, the
fermentation will turn sour, as my neglect had very nearly made it do
with him.  He would have been a fine demagogue by this time, if he had
not had a generous temper and Sunday-school foundation.'

'Hush!' said Mary, smiling--'you must not moralize.  I believe you are
doing it that poor Farmer Norris may not catch your eye.'

Louis gave a debonnaire glance of resignation; and the farmer, rising
in the full current of feeling caused by Madison's speech, said, with
thorough downright emotion, that he knew it was of no use to try to
enhance what had been already so well expressed, but he believed there
was scarcely a person present who did not feel, equally with Mr.
Madison, the right to claim Lord Fitzjocelyn as a personal friend,--and
an irrepressible hum of fervent assent proved how truly the farmer
spoke.  'Yes,--each had in turn experienced so much of his friendly
kindness, and, what was more, of his sympathy, that he could
confidently affirm that there was scarcely one in the neighbourhood who
had not learnt the news of his happiness as if some good thing had
happened to himself individually.  They all as one man were delighted
to have him at home again, and to wish him joy of the lady, whom many
of them know already well enough to rejoice in welcoming her for her
own sake, as well as for that of Lord Fitzjocelyn.'

Again and again did the cheers break forth--hearty, homely, and
sincere; and such were the bright, tearful, loving eyes, which sought
those of Fitzjocelyn on every side, that his own filled so fast that
all seemed dazzled and misty, and he hastily strove to clear them as he
arose; but the swelling of his heart brought the happy dew again, and
would scarcely let him find voice.  'My friends, my dear, good friends,
you are all very kind to me.  It is of no use to tell you how little I
deserve it, but you know how much I wish to do so, and here is one who
has helped me, and who will help me.  We thank you with all our hearts.
You may well wish my father and me joy, and yourselves too.  Thank you;
you should not look at me so kindly if you wish me to say more.'

The Earl, who had studied popularity as a useful engine, but had never
prized love beyond his own family, was exceedingly touched by the
ardour of enthusiastic affection that his son had obtained,--not by
courting suffrages, not by gifts, not by promises, but simply by real
open-hearted love to every one.  Lord Ormersfield himself came in for
demonstrations of warm feeling which he would certainly never have
sought nor obtained ten years ago, when he was respected and looked up
to as an upright representative of certain opinions; but personally,
either disliked or regarded with coldness.

He knew what these cheers were worth, and that even Fitzjocelyn might
not long be the popular hero; but he was not the less gratified and
triumphant, and felt that no success of his whole life had been worth
the present.

'After all, Clara,' said Oliver Dynevor, as his nephew and niece were
assisting him to the carriage, 'they have managed these things better
than we did, though they did not have Gunter.'

'Gunter can't bring heart's love down from town in a box,' said Clara,
in a flash of indignation.  'No, dear uncle, there are things that
can't be got unless by living for them.'

'Nor even by living for them, Clara,' said James; 'you must live for
something else.'

Lord Ormersfield had heard these few last words, and there was deep
thought in his eye as he bade his cousins farewell at the hall door.

Clara was the last to take her place; and, as she turned round with a
merry smile to wish him goodbye, he said, 'You have been making
yourself very useful, Clara, I am afraid you have had no time to enjoy
yourself.'

'That's a contradiction,' said Clara, laughing; 'here's busy little
Kitty, who never is thoroughly happy but when she thinks she is useful,
and I am child enough to be of the same mind.  I never was unhappy but
when I was set to enjoy myself.  It has been the most beautiful day of
my life.  Thank you for it.  Goodbye!'

The Earl crossed the hall, and found Mary standing alone on the terrace
steps, looking out at the curling smoke from the cottage chimneys, and
on the coppices and hedge-rows.

'Are you tired, my dear?' he said.

'Oh no!  I was only thinking of dear mamma's persuading Louis to go on
with the crumpled plans of those cottages.  How happy she would be.'

'I was thinking of her likewise,' said the Earl.  'She spoke truly when
she told me that he might not be what I then wished to make him, but
something far better.'

Mary looked up with a satisfied smile of approval, saying, 'I am so
glad you think so.'

'Yes,' said Lord Ormersfield, 'I have thought a good deal since.  I
have been alone here, and I think I see why Louis has done better than
some of his elders.  It seems to me that some of us have not known the
duties that lay by the way-side, so to speak, from the main purpose of
life.  I wish I could talk it over with your mother, my dear, what do
you think she would say?'

Mary thought of Louis's vision of the threads.  'I think,' she said,
'that I have heard her say something like it.  The real aim of life is
out of sight, and even good people are too apt to attach themselves to
what is tangible, like friendship or family affection, or usefulness,
or public spirit; but these are like the paths of glory which lead but
to the grave, and no farther.  It is the single-hearted, faithful aim
towards the one thing needful, to which all other things may be added
as mere accessories.  It brings down strength and wisdom.  It brings
the life everlasting already to begin in this life, and so makes the
path shine more and more unto the perfect day!'



THE END.





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