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Title: Abbeychurch; Or, Self-Control and Self-Conceit
Author: Yonge, Charlotte M. (Charlotte Mary), 1823-1901
Language: English
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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.

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ABBEYCHURCH;

OR

SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-CONCEIT,


BY

CHARLOTTE M. YONGE


THE AUTHOR OF THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE.



Second Edition

The Original Printed Text of this work is in the possession of The
Charlotte M Yonge Fellowship.



'Never think yourself safe because you do your duty in ninety-nine
points; it is the hundredth which is to be the ground of your
self-denial, which must evidence, or rather instance and realize, your
faith.'

     Newman's Sermons



PREFACE.

Rechauffes are proverbially dangerous, but everyone runs into them
sooner or later, and the world has done me the kindness so often to
inquire after my first crude attempt, that after it has lain for many
years 'out of print,' I have ventured to launch it once
more--imperfections and all--though it is guilty of the error of
pointing rather to a transient phase of difficulty than to a general
principle.  The wheels of this world go so quickly round, that I have
lived to see that it would have been wiser in the clergyman to have
directed rather than obstructed the so-called 'march of intellect.' I
have lived also to be somewhat ashamed of the exuberant outpouring of
historical allusions, which, however, were perfectly natural among the
set of girls from whom my experience was taken: but these defects, as
well as the more serious one of tyrannical aversion to vulgarity, are
too inherent in this tale to be removed, and the real lesson intended
to be conveyed, of obedience and sincerity, of course remains unchanged.

The later story was a rather hasty attempt to parody the modern
sensation novel, as Northanger Abbey did the Radclyffe school, but it
makes the mistake of having too real a mystery.  However, such as they
are, the two stories go forth in company, trusting that they may not
prove too utterly wearisome to be brought forward this second time.

                                    May 9th, 1872.



ABBEYCHURCH

OR

SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-CONCEIT.



CHAPTER I.


One summer afternoon, Helen Woodbourne returned from her daily walk
with her sisters, and immediately repaired to the school-room, in order
to put the finishing touches to a drawing, with which she had been
engaged during the greater part of the morning.  She had not been long
established there, before her sister Katherine came in, and, taking her
favourite station, leaning against the window shutter so as to command
a good view of the street, she began, 'Helen, do you know that the
Consecration is to be on Thursday the twenty-eighth, instead of the
Tuesday after?'

'I know Lizzie wished that it could be so,' said Helen, 'because the
twenty-eighth is St. Augustine's day; but I thought that the Bishop had
appointed Tuesday.'

'But Papa wrote to him, and he has altered the day as Papa wished; I
heard Mamma and Mr. Somerville talking about it just now when I went
into the drawing-room,' answered Katherine.

'Will everything be ready in time?' said Helen.

'Dear me!' cried Katherine, 'I wonder if it will.  What is to be done
if that tiresome Miss Dighten does not send home our dresses in time?
We must go and hurry her to-morrow.  And I must get Mamma to go to
Baysmouth this week to get our ribbons.  I looked over all Mr. Green's
on Monday, and he has not one bit of pink satin ribbon wide enough, or
fit to be seen.'

'Oh! but I meant the things in the church--the cushions and the carving
on the Font,' said Helen.

'Oh dear! yes, the Font is very nearly done, we saw to-day, you know;
and as to the cushions, Mrs. Webbe may have Sarah to help her, and then
they will certainly be finished.  I wonder whether there will be any
fun!' said Katherine.

'Is a Consecration an occasion for fun?' asked Helen very gravely.

'Why, no, I do not exactly mean that,' replied Katherine, 'but there
will be a great many people, and the Mertons staying here, and Rupert
is always so full of fun.'

'Hm--m,' said Helen, 'I do not suppose he will be come back from
Scotland.'

'And Mrs. Turner says,' continued Katherine, 'that of course as the
Bishop is coming to luncheon after Church, Mamma must give an elegant
dejeuner a la fourchette to everybody.  Next time I go to St. Martin's
Street, Mrs. Turner is going to give me a receipt for making
blanc-manger with some cheap stuff which looks quite as well as
isinglass.  It is made on chemical principles, she says, for she heard
it all explained at the Mechanics' Institute.  And Aunt Anne will be
sure to bring us some of their grand fruit from Merton Hall. What a
set-out it will be!  The old Vicarage will not know itself; how
delightful it will be!'

'So you think the happiness of the Consecration day depends upon the
party and the luncheon,' said Helen.

'No, no, of course I do not,' said Katherine; 'but we must think about
that too, or we should not do what is proper.'

'Someone must,' said Helen, 'but it is happy for us that we are not
called upon to do so yet.'

'Why, we must help Mamma,' said Katherine; 'I am sure that is our duty.'

'Certainly,' said Helen; 'but we need not dwell upon such thoughts for
our own pleasure.'

'No, I do not, I am sure,' said Katherine; 'I do not care about the
grand dejeuner, I am sure I think a great deal more about the Church
and the Bishop--I wonder whether he will come by the railroad.'

At this moment, the door was thrown back hastily, and Elizabeth, the
elder sister of Katherine and Helen, darted in, looking full of
indignation, which she only wanted to pour forth, without much caring
whether it was listened to with sympathy or not.

'So have you heard,' she began, 'these Hazlebys are coming.  Did you
ever hear of such a nuisance?  Anything so preposterous?  Mrs. Hazleby
at a Consecration--I should as soon think of asking Gillespie Grumach.'

'It is for the Major's sake, of course,' said Helen; 'he will like to
come.'

'Ay, but he is not coming, he cannot get leave,' said Elizabeth; 'if he
was, I should not mind it so much, but it is only Mrs. Hazleby and the
girls, for she has the grace to bring Lucy, on Mamma's special
invitation.  But only think of Mrs. Hazleby, scolding and snapping for
ever; and Harriet, with her finery and folly and vulgarity.  And that
at a time which ought to be full of peace, and glorious feelings.  Oh!
they will spoil all the pleasure!'

'All?' said Helen.

'All that they can touch, all that depends upon sympathy,' said
Elizabeth.

'Well, but I do not see--' said Katherine.

'No, no,' said Elizabeth, 'we all know that you will be happy enough,
with your beloved Harriet.  How frivolous and silly you will be, by the
end of the first evening she has been here!'

'I am sure I think Harriet is very silly indeed,' said Katherine; 'I
cannot bear her vulgar ways, bouncing about as she does, and such dress
I never did see.  Last time she was here, she had a great large
artificial rose upon her bonnet; I wonder what Papa would say if he saw
me in such a thing!'

'Pray keep the same opinion of her all the time she is here, Kate,'
said Elizabeth; 'but I know you too well to trust you.  I only know
they will keep me in a perpetual state of irritation all the time, and
I hope that will not quite spoil my mind for the Service.'

'How can you talk of Mamma's relations in that way, Lizzie?' said Helen.

'I do not care whose relations they are,' said Elizabeth; 'if people
will be disagreeable, I must say so.'

'Mrs. Staunton used to say,' replied Helen, 'that people always ought
to keep up their connexion with their relations, whether they like them
or not.  There were some very stupid people, relations of Mr.
Staunton's, near Dykelands, whom Fanny and Jane could not endure, but
she used to ask them to dinner very often, and always made a point--'

'Well, if I had any disagreeable relations,' said Elizabeth, 'I would
make a point of cutting them.  I do not see why relations have a right
to be disagreeable.'

'I do not see how you could,' said Helen.  'For instance, would you
prevent Mamma from ever seeing the Major, her own brother?'

'He cannot be half so well worth seeing since he chose to marry such a
horrid wife,' said Elizabeth.

'Would you never see Horace again, if he did such a thing?' said
Katherine; 'I am sure I would not give him up.  Would you?'

'I could trust Horace, I think,' said Elizabeth; 'I will give him fair
warning, and I give you and Helen warning, that if you marry odious
people, I will have done with you.'

'When I was at Dykelands,' said Helen, 'everybody was talking about a
man who had married--'

'Never mind Dykelands now, Helen,' said Elizabeth, 'and do put down
your pencil.  That drawing was tolerable before luncheon, but you have
been making your tree more like Mr. Dillon's Sunday periwig, every
minute since I have been here.  And such a shadow!  But do not stop to
mend it.  You will not do any good now, and here is some better work.
Mamma wants us to help to finish the cushions.  We must do something to
earn the pleasure of having St. Austin's Church consecrated on St.
Austin's day.'

'What, do you mean that I am to work on that hard velvet?' said Helen,
who was a little mortified by the unsparing criticism on her drawing.

'Yes, I undertook that we three should make up the two cushions for the
desk and eagle; Mrs. Webbe's hands are full of business already, but
she has explained it all to me, and Kate will understand it better than
I can.'

'I thought Sarah Webbe was to help,' said Helen.

'She is doing the carpet,' said Elizabeth.  'Oh! if you look so
lamentable about it, Helen, we do not want your help.  Dora will sew
the seams very nicely, and enjoy the work too.  I thought you might be
glad to turn your handiwork to some account.'

'Really, Lizzie,' said Helen, 'I shall be very glad to be useful, if
you want me.  What shall I do?'

This was said in no gracious tone, and Elizabeth would not accept such
an offer of assistance.  'No, no; never mind,' said she, putting a
skein of crimson sewing-silk over Katherine's outstretched hands, and
standing with her back to Helen, who took up her pencil again in
silence, and made her black shadows much darker.

Elizabeth, who had not been of the walking party, and had thus heard of
all the arrangements which had been made that afternoon, went on
talking to Katherine.  'As soon as Church is over, the Bishop is coming
to luncheon here, and then to settle some business with Papa; then is
to be the school-children's feast--in the quadrangle, of course.  Oh,
how delightful that will be!  And Mamma and I have been settling that
we will have a little table for the smallest creatures, because the
elder sisters get no time to eat if they are attending to them, and if
the little ones are all together, everyone will come and help them.'

'The old women in the Alms-houses will,' said Katherine.

'Yes; and Dora will manage that nicely too, the table will not be too
high for her to reach, and she will be very happy to be able to wait on
her little class.  And they are to have tea and cake, instead of
dinner, for we do not want to have more cooking than can be helped,
that people may not be prevented from going to church, and the children
will be thirsty after being in church all the morning.'

'But we have a dinner-party, do not we?' said Katherine.

'Yes, but our youth and innocence will save us from being much plagued
by it,' said Elizabeth.

'Oh!  I thought you and Anne at least would dine with the company,'
said Katherine.

'So Mamma thought,' said Elizabeth; 'but then she recollected that if
we did, and not Harriet, Mrs. Hazleby would be mortally offended; and
when we came to reckon, it appeared that there would be thirteen
without us, and then Papa and I persuaded her, that it would be much
less uncivil to leave out all the Misses, than to take one and leave
the rest.  You know Anne and I are both under seventeen yet, so that
nobody will expect to see us.'

'Only thirteen people?' said Katherine; 'I thought the Bishop was to
dine and sleep here.'

'Oh no, that was settled long ago; Papa found he had engaged to go to
Marlowe Court,' said Elizabeth, 'and so there was room for the
Hazlebys; I hoped he would have guarded us from them.'

'But will there be room?' said Katherine; 'I cannot fancy it.'

'Oh!  half the rooms can be made Knight's Templar's horses and carry
double,' said Elizabeth; 'Mrs. Hazleby and both the girls may very well
be in the blue room.'

'And there is the best room for the Mertons, and Horace's for Rupert,'
said Katherine.

'Poor Horace! it is a shame that he, who laid the first stone, should
not be at the Consecration,' said Elizabeth.

'Well, but where is Anne to be?' said Katherine; 'if we take Dora into
our room, and Winifred goes to the nursery, there is their room; but
Aunt Anne's maid must have that.'

'Anne shall come to my room--if Aunt Anne will let her, that is to
say,' said Elizabeth; 'I wonder I never thought of that before, it will
counteract some of the horrors of the Hazlebys.  I shall have the
comfort of talking things over with the only person who knows what to
feel.  Yes, I will go and speak to Mamma, and shew her that it is the
only way of lodging the world conveniently.  Oh, how happy we shall be!'

As soon as Elizabeth had finished winding her skein, she hastened to
Mrs. Woodbourne, and found no great difficulty in gaining her consent
to the plan; and she then sat down to write to Miss Merton to inform
her of the change of day, and invite her to share her room.

Elizabeth Woodbourne and Anne Merton were first cousins, and nearly of
the same age.  They had spent much of their time together in their
childhood, and their early attachment to each other, strengthening as
they grew older, was now becoming something more than girlish
affection.  Anne was an only daughter; and Elizabeth, though the eldest
of a large family, had not hitherto found any of her sisters able to
enter into her feelings as fully as her cousin; and perhaps there was
no one who had so just an appreciation of Elizabeth's character as
Anne; who, though hers was of a very different order, had perhaps more
influence over her mind than anyone excepting Mr. Woodbourne.

Sir Edward Merton was brother to Mr. Woodbourne's first wife, the
mother of Elizabeth, Katherine, and Helen; he had been Mr. Woodbourne's
principal assistant in the erection of the new church, and indeed had
added all the decorations which the Vicar's limited means, aided by a
subscription, could not achieve; and his wife and daughter had taken
nearly as much interest in its progress as the ardent Elizabeth
herself.  Anne eagerly read Elizabeth's note to her mother, and waited
her consent to the scheme which it proposed.

'Well, Mamma,' said Anne, 'can you consent to this arrangement, or are
you afraid that Lizzie and I should chatter all night?'

'I hope you have outgrown your old habits of gossipping and idling,'
said Lady Merton; 'I believe I may trust you; and it may be
inconvenient to Mrs. Woodbourne to find room for you elsewhere.'

'I am very much obliged to you, Mamma,' said Anne, at first gravely,
then laughing, 'I mean that I shall enjoy it very much.  But pray,
Mamma, do not trust too much to our age and experience, for I do not
know anything more difficult than to stop short in a delightful talk,
only just for the sake of going to sleep.'

'Yes, it requires some self-control,' said Lady Merton.

'Self-control!' repeated Anne.  'Mamma, I am sure that "Patient
cautious self-control is wisdom's root," must be your motto, for you
are sure to tell me of it on every occasion.'

'I hope you are not tired of it, Anne,' said Lady Merton, 'for most
probably I shall often tell you of it again.'

'Oh yes, I hope you will,' said Anne; 'there will be more need of it
than ever, in this visit to Abbeychurch.'

'Yes,' said Lady Merton, 'you live so quietly here, excepting when
Rupert is at home, that you must take care that all the excitement and
pleasure there does not make you wild.'

'Indeed I must,' said Anne; 'I cannot fancy enjoying anything much more
than the Consecration of a church for which Papa has done so much, and
going with Lizzie, and meeting Rupert.  Really, Mamma, it is lucky
there is that one drawback, to keep it from seeming too pleasant
beforehand.'

'You mean the Hazelbys,' said her mother.

'Yes, Mamma,' replied Anne; 'I am rather surprised to hear that they
are to be there.  I should not think that a vulgar-minded Scotchwoman,
such as Lizzie describes Mrs. Hazleby, would take much delight in a
Consecration; but I suppose Uncle Woodbourne could not well avoid
asking them on such an occasion, I believe she is rather touchy.'

'You must take care what you say to Lizzie about the Hazlebys,' said
Lady Merton; 'a very little might make it appear that we wished to set
her against her step-mother's relations.'

'Oh! that would never do,' said Anne, 'but I am afraid it will be very
difficult to keep from shewing what we think, if Mrs. Hazleby is all
that Lizzie says.'

'Your Papa was pleased with what he saw of Major Hazleby last year,'
said Lady Merton.

'Oh yes, Lizzie likes him very much,' said Anne; 'it is the lady of
whom she has such a horror.'

'I should fancy,' said Lady Merton, 'that Mrs. Woodbourne's horror of
her was almost equal to Lizzie's.'

'Kind gentle Aunt Mildred,' said Anne, 'do you think she ever had a
horror of anyone?'

'It is certainly rather a strong word,' said Lady Merton, 'but you will
allow me to say that she has a great dread of her; I think Mrs. Hazleby
scolds and frightens her.'

'What a fury she must be,' said Anne, laughing, 'to be able to scold
and frighten such a gentle Desdomona as Mrs. Woodbourne.'

'Do not say too much on that subject,' said Lady Merton, 'or we shall
be forced to call your beloved Lizzie a fury.'

'O Mamma!' cried Anne, 'you cannot say that she is impetuous and
violent now.  She used, I allow, to be rather overbearing to Mrs.
Woodbourne; but that was before she was old enough fully to feel and
love her gentleness.  Then she did take advantage of it, and argue, and
dispute, but now--'

'She has her own way without disputing,' said Lady Merton.

'O Mamma, do you think so?' said Anne, as if she thought it a terrible
accusation.  'Yes, I really think that she has, but then her way is
generally right.'

'Yes,' said Lady Merton, 'she is in some respects more fit to govern
herself than most girls of sixteen.  Her good sense will keep her from
going very far wrong.'

'Very far, Mamma?' repeated Anne.

'Yes, for such an excitable impetuous creature is not likely to escape
going wrong, without steady control from herself or from someone else,'
said Lady Merton.

'But I can hardly imagine Lizzie's actually doing wrong,' said Anne;
'we were certainly both naughty children, but I think the worst we did,
was rather what makes nurses scold, than what would seriously displease
you or Papa.'

'Oh! she was always an upright, noble-spirited child,' said Lady Merton.

'And now,' continued Anne, 'when she is much interested in anything,
when her brilliant dark eyes are lighted up, and her beautiful smile is
on her lips, and her whole face is full of brightness, and she looks
slight and airy enough to be a spirit, and when she is talking about
some things--I could fancy her some higher kind of creature.'

Lady Merton smiled.  'I think I know what you mean,' said she; 'I used
to feel something of the kind with her mother.'

'What a wonderful person Aunt Katherine must have been!' cried Anne.
She paused, and presently added, 'Mamma, I do not know whether I ought
to say so, but much as I like Mrs. Woodbourne, I do rather wonder that
Uncle Woodbourne married again.'

'So did your Papa and I,' said Lady Merton; 'but you must excuse him,
when you think of his three little girls, Elizabeth especially,
requiring such anxious care of body and mind.'

'But you do not think Mrs. Woodbourne could manage Lizzie?' said Anne.

'No,' said Lady Merton, 'she could not manage her in the least, but her
mild influence has, I think, been of great service to her. Lizzie has
certainly grown more gentle of late, and I think it is from
consideration for her and the little children.'

'And I suppose,' said Anne, 'that Mrs. Woodbourne has done as much for
Kate as anyone could.'

'Not quite,' said Lady Merton; 'I think your Aunt Katherine would have
made her a little less trifling and silly.'

'But no one could ever have made her like Lizzie,' said Aune.

'No, but I think she might have been rather more than a mere
good-natured gossip,' said Lady Merton.

'It is curious to see how much difference expression makes in those two
sisters,' said Anne; 'their features are so much alike, that strangers
never know them apart; the only difference between them, that I could
mention, is that Lizzie is the most delicate looking; yet how
exceedingly unlike they are to each other!'

'Yes,' said Lady Merton; 'though Lizzie's whole countenance and air is
almost exactly her mother's, yet there is nothing about Kate but her
voice, which they have in common, that reminds me of her.'

'Helen is very unlike the others in everything,' said Anne.

'Helen will be the handsomest as far as regularity of features goes,'
said Lady Merton.

'Do you think so?' said Anne.

'Certainly,' said Lady Merton; 'her features are less prominent, and
her colour has not that fixed hectic look that both the others have,
especially Lizzie.'

'But she wants brightness and animation,' said Anne, 'and she so often
looks dismal and fretful, that I cannot fancy admiring her.'

'There has never been much sympathy between you and Helen,' said Lady
Merton, smiling.

'No,' said Anne, 'I never felt as if I knew or liked her.  I believe
Rupert and I were very unkind to her in our younger days; but, oh! she
was the most tiresome whining child I ever knew.'

'I believe that, though she was too young to know it,' said Lady
Merton, 'poor little Helen suffered more from your aunt's death than
either of her sisters.'

'How so, Mamma?' said Anne, looking rather alarmed.

'She was a very delicate baby, requiring a great deal of care,' said
Lady Merton; 'indeed, we have always thought that your aunt laid the
foundation of her illness, by sitting up with her while she was cutting
her large teeth, and during your aunt's illness, it was painful to see
how the poor child missed her.  And after her mother died, though Helen
had grown strong and healthy, old Margaret still made her the pet; and
uncertain nursery treatment, without her mother's firm kindness, was
not the best cure for such a temper as hers.'

'Yes,' said Anne, 'I remember she was always called Baby, and allowed
to have her own way, till she was six years old, when Horace was born.
How very ill-natured I must have been to her, and how cruel it really
was of me.  But I wonder my uncle did not prevent Margaret from
spoiling her.'

'My dear, a man with a parish of fifteen hundred inhabitants, cannot
watch his own nursery very minutely,' said Lady Merton; 'he taught
Elizabeth admirably, and that was all that could be expected of him.
Besides, with all his perfections, managing little girls is not what he
is best fitted for.'

Anne laughed.  'No, he is too grave and cold; I am rather afraid of him
still, I do not think he has any toleration for nonsense; but of course
he must be different with his own children.  And how do you think Mrs.
Woodbourne trained Helen?'

'I can hardly tell,' said Lady Merton; 'I used to admire her patience
and sweetness of temper, when Helen's fretfulness was most wearisome;
at the same time that I thought it might have been better for the child
to speak sharply to her, and punish her if she did not leave off
whining directly.  I believe I should have done so, though I do not
know that it would have been the best way, or in accordance with what
you call my motto.'

'Well,' said Anne, 'if Dykelands has done such wonders for Helen, as
they say, I hope I shall make friends with her, if she will let me,
which I do not think I deserve after my ill-usage of her.  Last time I
saw her, it was but for two days, and she was so odd, and grave, and
shy, that I could not get on with her, besides that I wanted to make
the most of my time with Lizzie.'

'I hope Rupert will not teaze her as he used to do,' said Lady Merton;
'last time she was here, his teazing and her whining were nearly
unbearable.'

'Oh! she must have outgrown whining,' said Anne.

'I am afraid you cannot promise me that he has outgrown teazing,' said
Lady Merton.

'The one depends upon the other,' said Anne; 'if she does not whine, he
will not teaze.  But had I not better finish my letter to him, and tell
him he must shorten his stay on the Border?'

'Yes, do so,' said Lady Merton; 'and tell him not to lose his keys as
usual.'

'I suppose they are gone by this time,' said Anne, as Lady Merton left
the room, and she sat down to her desk to write to her brother.



CHAPTER II.


Abbeychurch St. Mary's was a respectable old town, situated at the foot
of St. Austin's Hill, a large green mound of chalk, named from an
establishment of Augustine Friars, whose monastery (now converted into
alms-houses) and noble old church were the pride of the county.
Abbeychurch had been a quiet dull place, scarcely more than a large
village, until the days of railroads, when the sober inhabitants, and
especially the Vicar and his family, were startled by the news that the
line of the new Baysmouth railway was marked out so as to pass exactly
through the centre of the court round which the alms-houses were built.
Happily, however, the difficulty of gaining possession of the property
required for this course, proved too great even for the railway
company, and they changed the line, cutting their way through the
opposite side of St. Austin's Hill, and spoiling three or four
water-meadows by the river.  Soon after the completion of this work,
the town was further improved, by the erection of various rows of smart
houses, which arose on the slope of the hill, once the airy and healthy
play-place of the rising generation of Abbeychurch, and the best spot
for flying kites in all the neighbourhood.  London tradesmen were
tempted to retire to 'the beautiful and venerable town of Abbeychurch;'
the houses were quickly filled, one street after another was built,
till the population of the town was more than doubled.  A deficiency in
church accommodation was soon felt, for the old church had before been
but just sufficient for the inhabitants. Various proposals were
made--to fill up the arches with galleries, and to choke the centre
aisle with narrow pews; but all were equally distasteful to Mr.
Woodbourne, who, placing some benches in the aisle for the temporary
accommodation of his new parishioners, made every effort to raise funds
to build and endow an additional church.  He succeeded, as we have
heard; and it was the tall white spire of the now Church of St.
Austin's, which greeted Anne Merton's delighted eyes, as on the 27th of
August, she, with her father and mother, came to the top of a long
hill, about five miles from Abbeychurch.  What that sight was to her,
only those who have shared in the joys of church-building can know.
She had many a time built the church in her fancy; she knew from
drawing and description nearly every window, every buttress, every
cornice; she had heard by letter of every step in the progress of the
building; but now, that narrow white point, in the greyish green of the
distance, shewed her, for the first time, what really was the work of
her father--yes, of her father, for without him that spire would never
have been there; with the best intentions, Mr. Woodbourne could not
have accomplished more than a solid well-proportioned building, with
capabilities of embellishment. It was not till they had nearly reached
the town, that her thoughts turned to the pleasure of seeing her
cousins, or even of meeting her brother, whom she expected to find at
the Vicarage, on his return from Scotland, where he had been spending
the last six weeks.

In this anticipation, however, she was disappointed; he was not among
the group who stood in the hall, eager to greet the travellers, and no
tidings had been heard of him.  After talking over the chances of his
arriving in the course of the evening, Sir Edward went with Mr.
Woodbourne to see the new church, and the ladies were conducted to
their apartments; Mrs. Woodbourne making apologies to Anne for lodging
her with Elizabeth, and Anne laughingly declaring that she enjoyed
Elizabeth's company much more than solitary grandeur.  The two cousins
were followed by the whole tribe of children, flaxen-haired and
blue-eyed little sprites, the younger of whom capered round Anne in
high glee, though with a little shyness, sometimes looking upon her as
a stranger, sometimes recollecting former frolics, till Elizabeth
declared that it was time to dress; and Dorothea, the eldest, a quiet
and considerate little maiden of seven years old, carried off Winifred
and Edward to their own domains in the nursery.

Elizabeth's room had been set to rights for the accommodation of the
visitor, so that it suited most people's ideas of comfort better just
then, than in its usual state.  A number of books and papers had been
cleared from the table, to leave it free for Anne's toilette apparatus,
and a heap of school girls' frocks and tippets, which had originally
been piled up on two chairs, but, daily increasing in number, had grown
top-heavy, fallen down and encumbered the floor, had that morning been
given away, so that there was at least room to sit down.  Elizabeth's
desk and painting box were banished to the top of her chest-of-drawers,
where her looking-glass stood in a dark corner, being by no means
interesting to her.  Near the window was her book-case, tolerably well
supplied with works both English and foreign, and its lower shelf
containing a double row of brown-paper covered volumes, and
many-coloured and much soiled little books, belonging to the lending
library.  The walls were hung with Elizabeth's own works, for the most
part more useful than ornamental. There were genealogical and
chronological charts of Kings and Kaisars, comparisons of historical
characters, tables of Christian names and their derivations, botanical
lists, maps, and drawings--all in such confusion, that once, when Helen
attempted to find the Pope contemporary with Edward the First, she
asked Elizabeth why she had written the Pope down as Leo Nonus
Cardinal, on which she was informed, with a sufficient quantity of
laughter, that the word in question was the name of a flower, Leonurus
Cardiaca, looking like anything but what it was intended for in
Elizabeth's writing, and that Pope Martin the Fourth was to be found on
the other side of the Kings of France and Spain, and the portrait of
Charles the First. The chimney-piece was generally used as a place of
refuge for all small things which were in danger of being thrown away
if left loose on the table; but, often forgotten in their asylum, had
accumulated and formed a strange medley, which its mistress jealously
defended from all attacks of housemaids.  In the middle stood a plaster
cast of the statue of the Maid of Orleans, a present from her little
brother Horace; above it hung a small Geneva watch, which had belonged
to Elizabeth's own mother; and there were besides a few treasures of
Horace's, too tender to be trusted in the nursery in his absence at
school.

The window looked out upon the empty solitary street of the old town,
and though little was to be seen from it which could interest the two
girls, yet after the little ones were gone, they stood there talking
for some minutes; Elizabeth inquiring after half the people about
Merton Hall, a place which she knew almost as well as her own home.

'When does Mrs. Hazleby come?' said Anne, beginning to dress.

'Oh! do not ask me,' said Elizabeth, 'I do not know, and hardly care;
quite late, I hope and trust.'

'But, Lizzie,' asked Anne, 'what have these unfortunate Hazlebys done
to offend you?'

'Done!' answered Elizabeth, 'oh! a thousand things, all too small to be
described, but together they amount to a considerable sum, I can tell
you.  There has been a natural antipathy, an instinctive dislike,
between Mrs. Major Hazleby and me, ever since she paid her first visit
here, and, seeing me listening to something she was saying to Mamma,
she turned round upon me with that odious proverb, "Little pitchers
have long ears."'

'Perhaps she meant it as a compliment,' said Anne; 'you know, Mary of
Scotland says, that "Sovereigns ought to have long ears."'

'I suppose her son was of the same opinion,' said Elizabeth, 'when he
built his famous lug.  As to Mrs. Hazleby, she is never happy but when
she is finding fault with someone.  It will make you sick to hear her
scolding and patronizing poor Mamma.'

'She has been in India, has she not?' said Anne, in order to avoid
answering.

'Yes,' replied Elizabeth, 'she married the poor Major there, and the
eldest son was born there.  I often think I should like to ask old Mrs.
Hazleby how she felt on her first meeting with her fair
daughter-in-law.  They were safe in Ireland when Papa married, and did
not burst upon us in full perfection till Horace's christening, when
the aforesaid little pitcher speech was made.'

'And her daughters?' said Anne, 'I never heard you mention them.'

'Lucy is a nice quiet girl, and a great ally of Helen's, unless she has
cast her off for her new friends at Dykelands,' said Elizabeth; 'she is
rather creep-mouse, but has no _other_ fault that I know of. She is
like her father's family, something like Mamma.  But as for Harriet,
the eldest, and her mother's darling, you will soon be sensible of some
of her charms.  I only hope she will not teaze the children into
naughtiness, as she did last year.  I do not know what would be done if
Horace was at home.  One day he had a regular battle with her.  It
began of course in fun on both sides, but he soon grew angry, and at
last tore her frock and trod pretty hard on her foot. I could not be
sorry for her, she deserved it so completely; but then poor Horace had
to be punished.  And another time, she shut Dora up in a dark room, and
really it did the poor little girl a great deal of harm; she could not
sleep quietly for three nights after.  Dora is old enough to take care
of herself now; and Edward is quieter than Horace, which is a great
comfort; but, oh! I wish the Hazlebys were forty miles off!'

'Now, Lizzie,' said Anne, 'is it not a very strange thing to hear you
talk in this manner?--you, the most good-natured person in the world!'

'Thank you,' said Elizabeth; 'that is as much as to say that I am the
greatest goose in the world.'

'And you had rather be a goose than ill-natured,' said Anne.

'It does not follow that I should be a goose for want of ill-nature,'
said Elizabeth.

'But you say that to be good-natured is to be a goose,' said Anne.

'Yes; but good-nature is too poor a thing to be the reverse of
ill-nature,' said Elizabeth, 'it is only a negative quality.'

'I thought good-natured people were those who never used the negative,'
said Anne, laughing.

'Do not pun in the middle of a serious argument, Miss Anne,' said
Elizabeth, putting on a solemn face.

'Well, I will be quite as grave as the occasion requires,' said Anne.
'I believe I ought to have used the word kindness, as that is as active
in good as ill-nature in evil.  But pray, Lizzie, do not let us get
into any of these abstruse metaphysical discussions, or we shall arrive
at conclusions as wise as when we reasoned ourselves into saying, nine
years ago, that it was better to be naughty than good, because good
people in books were always stupid.'

'Idle as we were,' said Elizabeth, smiling, 'I do not think that we
ever intended to act on that maxim.  But really, Anne, I do believe
that if you had been a prim pattern of perfection, a real good little
girl, a true Miss Jenny Meek, who never put her foot in a puddle, never
tore her frock, never spoke above her breath, and never laughed louder
than a sucking dove, I should never have cared two straws for you.'

'I think little Dora might convince you that goodness and stupidity
need not always be united,' said Anne, after a short pause.

'Demure Dolly, as Horace calls her,' said Elizabeth, 'yes, she is a
very choice specimen; but, sweet little thing as she is, she would not
be half so good a subject for a story as our high-spirited Horace and
wild Winifred.  Dora is like peaceful times in history--very pleasant
to have to do with, but not so entertaining to read about.'

'Poor Dora, I thought she looked disconsolate as well as demure,
without Horace,' said Anne.

'She has been very forlorn, poor child,' said Elizabeth; 'there was
quite a beautiful chivalrous friendship between the brother and sister,
he delighting in her gentleness, and she in his high daring spirit.
Edward and Winifred are scarcely companions to her yet, so that she is
forced to turn to us and be one of the elders.'

'You think Horace is happy at Sandleford,' said Anne; 'I should hope he
would be; Rupert always looks back to his days there with a great deal
of pleasure.'

'I hope Horace's teeth will not meet with the same disaster as
Rupert's,' said Elizabeth, 'he has not quite so much beauty to spare;
but he really is a very fine looking boy, and just the bold merry
fellow to get on well at school, so that he is quite happy now that he
has recovered the leaving home.  But I am afraid my classical lore will
die of his departure, for my newly acquired knowledge of Virgil and the
Greek declensions will not be of use to Edward these three years.  He
is only just conquering "Lapis, lapidis."'

'But you can go on with Latin and Greek, alone, as you did with German,
cannot you?' said Anne.

'I do sometimes construe a little Virgil,' said Elizabeth; 'but Horace
is his natural contemporary, and he is not happy without him. Besides,
when I have nothing to oblige me to learn regularly, I do not know when
to do it, so Dido has been waiting an unconscionable time upon her
funeral pile; for who could think of Jupiter and Venus in the midst of
all our preparations for the Consecration?'

'I am glad Helen came home in time for it,' said Anne.

'I began to think we should never see her more,' said Elizabeth; 'there
was no gentleman at Dykelands to escort her, and Papa was too busy to
fetch her, till at last, Captain Atherley, Mrs. Staunton's brother,
took pity upon her, or rather on us, and brought her home.'

'Captain Atherley is the only one of the family whom I have ever seen,'
said Anne; 'I have always wished to know something more of them, they
were all such friends of Papa's and Mamma's and Aunt Katherine's.'

'If you wish to hear anything of Mrs. Staunton and her daughters,' said
Elizabeth, 'you have only to ask Helen; you will open the flood-gates
of a stream, which has overwhelmed us all, ever since she came home.'

'Then I hope Helen likes them as well as they seem to like her,' said
Anne; 'Mrs. Staunton spoke very highly of her in her letter to Mamma.'

'Oh yes,' said Elizabeth, 'they seem to have done nothing but sit with
their mouths open, admiring her; and she really is very much improved,
positively grown a reflective creature, and the most graceful as well
as the prettiest of the family.  She would be almost a beau ideal of a
sister, if she had but a few more home feelings, or, as you say, if she
did not like the Stauntons quite so much.  I wonder what you will think
of her.  Now are you ready?   Let us come down.'

When the two cousins came into the drawing-room, they found the rest of
the ladies already there.  Katherine and Helen Woodbourne were busy
arranging a quantity of beautiful flowers, which had been brought from
Merton Hall, to decorate the Vicarage on this occasion. Mrs. Woodbourne
was sitting at her favourite little work-table, engaged, as usual, with
her delicate Berlin embroidery.  A few of the choicest of the flowers
had been instantly chosen out for her, and were placed on her table in
a slender coloured glass, which she held up to Elizabeth as she entered
the room.

'Oh, how beautiful!' cried Elizabeth, advancing to the table, which was
strewn with a profusion of flowers.  'What delightful heliotrope and
geranium!  Oh, Anne! how could you tear off such a branch of Cape
jessamine? that must have been your handiwork, you ruthless one.'

'Anne has been more kind to us than to her greenhouse,' said Mrs.
Woodbourne; 'I am afraid she has displeased Mr. Jenkins; but I hope the
plants are not seriously damaged.'

'Oh no, indeed,' said Anne, 'you should see the plants before you pity
them, Aunt Mildred; we never let Mr. Jenkins scold us for helping
ourselves or our friends out of our own garden, for making a great
glorious nosegay is a pleasure which I do not know how to forego.'

'Do you call this a nosegay?' said Elizabeth, 'I call it a forest of
flowers.  Really, a Consecration opens people's hearts;--I do not mean
that yours is not open enough on ordinary occasions, Aunt Anne; but
when the children took their walk in the alms-house court this morning,
they were loaded with flowers from all quarters, beginning with old Mr.
Dillon offering Winifred his best variegated dahlia, by name Dod's
Mary.'

'Mr. Dillon!' exclaimed Katherine; 'I thought he never gave away his
flowers on any account.'

'I know,' said Elizabeth; 'but I have also heard him say that he could
not refuse little Miss Winifred if she asked him for the very house
over his head.'

'Did she ask him for the dahlia?' said Mrs. Woodbourne.

'No,' said Elizabeth, 'it was a free offer on his part.  Dora the
discreet tried to make her refuse it, but the dahlia had been gathered
long before Winifred could make up her mind to say no; and when the
little things came in this morning they looked like walking garlands.
Did you see the noble flower-pot in the hall?'

'You must go and look at the fruit which Lady Merton has been so kind
as to bring us, Lizzie,' said Mrs. Woodbourne; 'you never saw such fine
grapes and pines.'

'I hear you have undertaken that part of the arrangement, young
ladies,' said Lady Merton.

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'but I am afraid we do not know much about the
matter.'

'I am sure I cannot tell what I should do if you did not undertake it,
my dears,' said Mrs. Woodbourne.

'Do not begin thanking us till we have done the deed, Mamma,' said
Elizabeth; 'it may turn out a great deal worse than if we had left it
to the unassisted taste of the maids.'

The four girls continued to arrange the flowers: Elizabeth, inquiring
after many of the plants at Merton Hall; Anne, telling how the myrtle
was prospering, how well the geraniums had flowered, describing a new
fuchsia, and triumphing in the prize which the salpiglossis had gained
from the Horticultural Society; Helen, comparing the flora of Merton
Hall with that of Dykelands; Mrs. Woodbourne, rejoicing in cuttings to
be saved from the branches gathered by Anne's unsparing hand; and Lady
Merton, promising to send her seeds and young plants by Rupert, when he
should return to Oxford.

When the forest of flowers had been dispersed in the epergne, and in
various bowls and glasses, to ornament the drawing-room, the three
sisters began to collect the green leaves and pieces of stalks
remaining on the table, and as they bent down to sweep them off into a
basket, their heads chanced to be almost close together.

'Why, Lizzie,' said Lady Merton, 'where are your curls?  Have you made
yourself look so very different from Kate, to prevent all future
mistakes between you? and, Helen, have you really become a Pasha of two
tails?'

'Is it not very silly of Helen to wear them, Aunt Anne?' said Elizabeth.

'Indeed, dear Aunt Anne,' said Helen, 'my hair never will curl well,
and Mrs. Staunton always said it made me look like an old woman in the
way I wore it before, so what could I do but try it in the way in which
Fanny and Jane wore theirs?'

'Oh! we must all bow before Dykelands,' said Elizabeth.

'And I have been wondering what made you look so altered, Lizzie,' said
Lady Merton, 'and now I see it is your hair being straight.  I like
your curls better.'

'Ah, so do I,' said Mrs. Woodbourne; 'but Lizzie docs not like the
trouble of curling it.'

'No,' said Elizabeth, 'I think it a very useless plague.  It used
really to take me two hours a day, and now I am ready directly without
trouble or fuss.  People I care about will not think the worse of me
for not looking quite so well.'

'Perhaps not,' said Lady Merton, 'but they would think the better of
you for a little attention to their taste.'

'They might for attention to their wishes, Aunt Anne,' said Elizabeth,
'but hardly to their taste.  Taste is such a petty nonsensical thing.'

'I shall leave you and Anne to argue about the fine distinction between
taste and wishes,' said Lady Merton; 'it is more in your line than
mine.'

'You mean to say that I have been talking nonsense, Aunt Anne,' said
Elizabeth.

'I say nothing of the kind, Lizzie,' said her aunt; 'I only say that
you are in the habit of splitting hairs.'

Elizabeth saw that her aunt was not pleased.  She went to the
chimney-piece, and employed herself in making a delicate piece of ixia
get a better view of itself in the looking-glass.  Presently she turned
round, saying, 'Yes, Aunt Anne, I was very wrong; I was making a
foolish pretence at refinement, to defend myself.'

'I did not mean to begin scolding you the very moment I came near you,
Lizzie,' said Lady Merton.

'Indeed I wish you would, Aunt Anne,' said Elizabeth; 'pray scold me
from morning till night, there is no one who wants it more.'

'My dear child, how can you say so?' cried Mrs. Woodbourne.

'Many thanks for the agreeable employment you propose to me, Lizzie,'
said Lady Merton.

'If Rupert docs not come to-night, I mean to undertake a little of that
agreeable employment myself, when he arrives,' said Elizabeth, 'and to
make Anne help me.'

'I believe Rupert is so fond of being scolded, that it only makes him
worse,' said Lady Merton.

'Here are Papa and Uncle Edward coming back at last,' said Katherine,
who was, as usual, sitting in the window.

Mrs. Woodbourne looked greatly relieved; she had been for some time in
trouble for the dinner, not being able to console herself in the way in
which Elizabeth sometimes attempted to re-assure her in such
cases--'Never mind, Mamma, the dinner is used to waiting.'



CHAPTER III.


As soon as dinner was over, the girls proposed to walk to the new
church, that Anne might see it at her leisure before the Consecration.
The younger children were very urgent to be allowed to accompany them,
but Mrs. Woodbourne would only consent to Dora's doing so, on her
eldest sister's promise to return before her bed-time.

'And, Mamma,' said Elizabeth, as soon as this question was decided, and
the other two children had taken out their basket of bricks at the
other end of the room, 'have you settled whether Edward is to go to the
Consecration to-morrow?'

'I really think he is almost too young, my dear,' said Mrs. Woodbourne;
'you know it is a very long service.'

'Oh! Mamma,' said Dora, 'he is five years old now, and he says he will
be very good, and he will be very much disappointed if he has to stay
at home, now he has had his new frock and trousers; and Winifred and I
are going.'

'Really, Dora,' said Elizabeth, 'I think he had better not go, unless
he has some reason for wishing to do so, better than what you have
mentioned.'

'I believe he understands it all as well as we do,' said Dora; 'we have
all been talking about it in the nursery, this evening, at supper:--and
you know, Mamma, he has quite left off being naughty in church.'

'Still, my dear,' said Mrs. Woodbourne, 'I scarcely think that we can
take him; I cannot have him sitting with me, among the people whom we
have invited, and he will certainly grow tired and restless.'

'I do not think his being tired just at last will signify,' said
Elizabeth; 'he will attend at first, I am sure, and it is a thing he
must never forget all his life.  I will take care of him and Winifred,
and Dora can behave well without being watched.'

'Very well, my dear,' said Mrs. Woodbourne in her plaintive voice, 'I
shall be glad for him to go, if you can undertake to keep him in order,
but you must take care you do not tire yourself.  You will have almost
too much to do afterwards, and you must not let yourself be harassed by
his restlessness.'

'Oh no, Mamma, thank you,' said Elizabeth, 'he will not fidget, and I
am not afraid of anything in the summer, and on such a great day as
to-morrow.  I could walk to Johnny Groat's house, and take care of
fifty children, if need were.'

Edward was called, examined as to his reasons for wishing to go to the
Consecration, made to promise to behave well, and sent back in high
glee to play with Winifred.  Elizabeth and Dorothea then followed the
others up-stairs to prepare for the walk.

'It is very strange,' remarked Mrs. Woodbourne, as they left the room,
'that Elizabeth can manage the children so much better than anyone else
can; they always like best to be with her, though she always makes them
mind her, and Kate is much more what people would call good-natured.'

'Do you not think Lizzie good-natured?' said Lady Merton, rather
surprised.

'Oh yes, indeed I do,' said Mrs. Woodbourne, 'she is a most
kind-hearted creature.  I really believe there is nothing she would not
do for the children or me, I do not know what would become of me
without her: but you know her way of speaking, she does not mean any
harm; but still when people are not used to her, it vexes them; indeed
I did not mean to say anything against her, she is a most excellent
creature, quite her Papa's right hand.'

'Horace grew almost too much for her to manage before he went to
school, did not he?' said Lady Merton.

'Poor little boy!' said Mrs. Woodbourne, 'we miss him sadly, with his
merry face and droll ways.  You know, he was always a very
high-spirited child, but Lizzie could always make him mind her in the
end, and he was very obedient to his papa and me.  Edward is a quiet
meek boy, he has not his brother's high spirits, and I hope we shall
keep him at home longer.'

'Horace is certainly very young for a school-boy,' said Lady Merton;
'Rupert was ten years old when he went to Sandleford, but Sir Edward
afterwards regretted that he had not gone there earlier, and the little
boys are very well taken care of there.'

'Yes, Mr. Woodbourne said everything looked very comfortable,' said
Mrs. Woodbourne, sighing; 'and I suppose he must rough it some time or
other, poor little fellow, so that it may be as well to begin early.'

'And he has taken a good place,' said Lady Merton; 'Lizzie wrote in
high glee to tell Anne of it.'

'Yes,' said Mrs. Woodbourne, 'she had brought him on wonderfully; I am
sure I wonder how she could, with only a little occasional assistance
from her papa; but then, Horace is certainly a very clever child, and
few have Lizzie's spirits and patience, to be able to bear with a
little boy's idleness and inattention so good-humouredly.  And I do
believe she enjoyed playing with him and the others as much as the
children themselves; I used to say it was no use to send Lizzie to keep
the children in order, she only promoted the fun and noise.'

'She is a merry creature,' said Lady Morton, 'her spirits never seem to
flag, and I think she is looking stronger than when I saw her last.'

'Indeed, I am very glad to hear you say so,' said Mrs. Woodbourne; 'she
has seemed very well and strong all the summer, but she still has that
constant cough, and we must always be anxious about her, I wish she
would take a little more care of herself, but she will not understand
how necessary precautions are; she goes out in all sorts of weather,
and never allows that anything will give her cold; indeed, I let Dora
go out with them this evening, because I knew that Lizzie would stay
out of doors too long, unless she had her to make her come in for her
sake.'

'How bright and well Helen looks!' said Lady Merton; 'she seems to have
been very happy at Dykelands.'

'Very happy indeed,' said Mrs. Woodbourne; 'I am sure we are
exceedingly obliged to Mrs. Staunton for asking her.  She has come back
quite a different creature, and can speak of nothing but the kindness
of her friends at Dykelands.'

Here the conversation dropped for a minute or two, for Lady Morton
found it difficult to reply.  Mrs. Staunton had lived in the village
where Merton Hall was situated, and where both Lady Merton and her
sister-in-law had spent their childhood.  She had been much attached to
Mrs. Woodbourne, and was Helen's godmother; but having settled in a
distant county, had scarcely kept up any intercourse with the
Woodbourne family since her friend's death, though constantly
corresponding with Lady Merton, and occasionally writing and sending
presents to her little god-daughter.  Chancing however to come to
London on business, she had written to Mr. Woodbourne to beg him to
bring Helen to meet her there, and allow her to take her back with her
into Lincolnshire to spend some time with her and her daughters. Mr.
Woodbourne, knowing that his wife had esteemed her very highly,
complied after a little deliberation.  Helen's visit had lasted longer
than at first proposed, and she only returned home, after an absence of
five months, just in time to wish her little brother farewell, on his
departure for school, a few weeks before the Consecration of St.
Austin's.  Lady Merton would have been glad to read Mrs. Woodbourne all
the admiration of Helen, which Mrs. Staunton had poured forth to her in
a letter written a short time before; but the terms in which it was
expressed were more exaggerated than Lady Merton liked to shew to one
who was not acquainted with Mrs. Staunton, and besides, her praise of
Helen was full of comparison with her mother.

Visiting Abbeychurch was always painful to Lady Merton, and her manner,
usually rather cold, was still more constrained when she was there;
for, although both she and Sir Edward had been very careful not to shew
any want of cordiality towards Mr. and Mrs. Woodbourne, they could not
but feel that the Vicarage never could be to them what it once had
been.  It was certainly quite impossible not to have an affection for
its present gentle kind-hearted mistress; and Lady Merton felt
exceedingly grateful to her, for having, some years ago, nursed Rupert
through a dangerous attack of scarlet-fever, with which he had been
seized at Abbeychurch, when on his way from school, when she herself
had been prevented by illness from coming to him; and Mrs. Woodbourne,
making light of her anxiety for her own children, had done all that the
most affectionate mother could have done for him, and had shewn more
energy than almost anyone had believed her to possess, comforting Sir
Edward with hopes and cheerful looks, soothing the boy's waywardness,
and bearing with his fretfulness in his recovery, as none but a mother,
or a friend as gentle as Mrs. Woodbourne, could have done.  Still, much
as she loved Mrs. Woodbourne for her own sake, Lady Merton could not
help missing Katherine, her first play-fellow, the bright friend of her
youth, her sister-in-law; Mrs. Woodbourne, a shy timid person, many
years younger, felt that such must be the case, and always feared that
she was thinking that the girls would have been in better order under
their own mother; so that the two ladies were never quite at their ease
when alone together.

In the mean time, Elizabeth, quite unconscious that Dora was intended
to act as a clog round her neck, to keep her from straying too far, was
mounting the hill, the merriest of the merry party.

'It is certainly an advantage to the world in general to have the
church on a hill,' said Anne, 'both for the poetry and beauty of the
sight; but I should think that the world in particular would be glad if
the hill were not quite so steep.'

'Oh!' said Elizabeth, 'on the side towards the new town it is fair and
soft enough to suit the laziest, it is only on our side that it
resembles the mountain of fame or of happiness; and St. Austin's, as
the new town is now to be called, is all that has any concern with it.'

'I wish it was not so steep on our side,' said Katherine; 'I do not
think I ever was so hot in all my life, as I was yesterday, when we
carried up all the cushions ourselves, and Papa sent me all the way
back to the Vicarage, only just to fetch a needle and thread for Mamma
to sew on a little bit of fringe.'

'Really, Kate,' said Elizabeth, 'you might have thought yourself very
happy to have anything to do for the Church.'

'All! it was all very well for you to say so,' said Katherine; 'you
were sitting in the cool at home, only hearing Edward read, not toiling
in the sun as I was.'

'That is not fair, Kate,' said Helen; 'you know it is sometimes very
hard work to hear Edward read; and besides, Mamma had desired Lizzie to
sit still in the house, because she had been at the church ever since
five, helping Papa to settle the velvet on the pulpit after the people
had put it on wrong.'

'You would not imagine, Anne,' said Elizabeth, 'how fearfully deficient
the world is, in common sense.  Would you believe it, the workmen
actually put the pulpit-cloth on with the embroidery upside-down, and I
believe we were five hours setting it right again.'

'Without any breakfast?' said Anne.

'Oh! we had no time to think of breakfast till Mr. Somerville came in
at ten o'clock to see what was going on, and told us how late it was,'
said Elizabeth.

By this time, they had reached the brow of the hill, from whence they
had a fine view of Abbeychurch, old and new.  Anne observed upon the
difference between the two divisions of the town.

'Yes,' said Elizabeth, 'our town consists of the remains of old
respectable England, and the beginning of the new great work-shop of
all nations, met together in tolerably close companionship.  I could
almost grudge that beautiful Gothic church to those regular red-brick
uniform rows of deformity.'

'I do not think even the new church can boast of more beauty than St.
Mary's,' said Anne.

'No, and it wants the handiwork of that best artist, old Time,' said
Elizabeth; 'it will be long before Queen Victoria's head on the corbel
at the new church is of as good a colour as Queen Eleanor's at the old
one, and we never shall see anything so pretty at St. Austin's as the
yellow lichen cap, and plume of spleen-wort feathers, which Edward the
First wears.'

'How beautiful the old church tower is!' said Anne, turning round to
look at it; 'and the gable ends of your house, and the tall trees of
the garden, with the cloistered alms-houses, have still quite a
monastic air.'

'If you only look at the tower with its intersecting arches and their
zig-zag mouldings,' said Elizabeth, 'and shut your eyes to our kitchen
chimney, on which rests all the fame of the Vicar before last.'

'What can you mean?' said Anne.

'That when anyone wishes to distinguish the Reverend Hugh Puddington
from all other Vicars of Abbeychurch, his appellation is "The man that
built the kitchen chimney."'

'That being, I suppose, the only record he has left behind him,' said
Anne.

'The only one now existing,' said Elizabeth, 'since Papa has made his
great horrid pew in the chancel into open seats.--Do not you remember
it, Kate? and how naughty you used to be, when Margaret left off
sitting there with us, and there was no one to see what we were
about--oh! and there is a great fat Patience on a monument on the wall
over our heads, and a very long inscription, recording things quite as
unsuitable to a clergyman.'

'I do not understand you, Lizzie,' said Helen; 'unsuitable as what?
Patience, or building chimneys, or making pews?'

'Patience is a virtue when she is not on a monument,' said Elizabeth.

'And neither pews nor chimneys can be unsuitable to a clergyman,' said
little Dora; 'there are four pews in the new church, and Papa built a
chimney for the school.'

Everyone laughed, much to Dora's surprise, and somewhat to Helen's, and
Elizabeth was forced to explain, for Dora's edification, that what she
intended by the speech in question, was only that it was unsuitable to
a clergyman to leave no record behind him, but what had been intended
to gratify his own love of luxury.

'I am sorry I said anything about him,' said she to Anne; 'it was
scarcely right to laugh at him, especially before Dora; I am afraid she
will never see the monument without thinking of the chimney.'

At this moment they arrived at the church, and all their attention was
bestowed upon it.  It was built in the Early English style, and neither
pains nor expense had been spared.  Anne, who had not been there since
the wall had been four feet above the ground, was most eager to see it;
and Elizabeth, who had watched it from day to day, was equally eager to
see whether Anne would think of everything in it as she did herself.

As the door opened, a flood of golden light poured in upon the pure
white stone Font, while the last beams of the evening sun were
streaming through the western window, shining on the edges of the
carved oak benches, and glancing upon the golden embroidery of the
crimson velvet on the Altar, above which, the shadows on the groined
roof of the semi-octagonal chancel were rapidly darkening, and the deep
tints of the five narrow lancet windows within five arches, supported
and connected by slender clustered shafts with capitals of richly
carved foliage, were full of solemn richness when contrasted with the
glittering gorgeous hues of the west window.

'Oh! Anne,' whispered Elizabeth, as they stood together in the porch,
giving a parting look before she closed the door, 'it is "all glorious
within," even now; and think what it will be to-morrow!'

Nothing more was said till they had left the churchyard, when Anne
exclaimed, looking wistfully towards the railroad, 'Then there is but
one chance of Rupert's coming to-night.'

'When the eight o'clock train comes in,' said Katherine; 'it is that
which is to bring the Hazlebys.'

'I really think,' said Helen, 'that the gas manufactory and the union
poor-house grow more frightful every day.  I thought they looked worse
than ever when I came home, and saw the contrast with Lincolnshire.  I
hope the old and new towns will long be as different as they are now.'

'I am afraid they hardly will,' said Anne; 'the old town will soon
begin to rival the new one.  You must already find new notions creeping
into it.'

'Creeping!' cried Elizabeth, 'they gallop along the railroad as fast as
steam can carry them.  However, we are happily a quiet dull race, and
do not take them in; we only open our eyes and stare at all the wonders
round.  I do not know what we may come to in time, we may be as genteel
as Kate's friend, Willie Turner, says the people are in Aurelia
Place--that perked-up row of houses, whose windows and doors give them
such a comical expression of countenance, more like butterflies than
aurelias.'

'Who is Kate's friend?' asked Anne, in a wondering tone.

'Willie Turner!' said Elizabeth; 'oh! the apothecary's daughter,
Wilhelmina.  You must have heard of Mr. Turner.  Rupert has made a
standing joke of him, ever since the scarlet-fever.'

'Oh yes!' said Anne, 'I know Mr. Turner's name very well; but I never
knew that Miss Turner was a friend of Kate's.'

'She was not,' said Elizabeth, 'till Helen went to Dykelands, and poor
Kitty was quite lonely for want of someone to gossip with, and so she
struck up a most romantic friendship with Willie Turner; and really, it
has done us one most important service.--May I mention it, Kate,
without betraying your confidence?'

'Nonsense, Lizzie,' said Katherine.

'Oh! you do not object,' said Elizabeth; 'then be it known to you,
Anne, that once upon a time, Kitty confided to me, what I forthwith
confided to Papa, that Mrs. Turner was working in cross-stitch a
picture of St. Augustine preaching to the Saxons, which she intended to
present as a cushion for one of the chairs of St. Austin's Church.'

'Oh! dreadful!' cried Anne.

'Papa walked up and down the room for full ten minutes after he heard
of it,' said Elizabeth; 'but Mamma came to our rescue.  She, the
mild-spoken, (Mildred, you know,) set off with the Saxon Winifred, the
peace-maker, to reject the Saint of the Saxons, more civilly than the
British bishops did.  She must have managed most beautifully, so as to
satisfy everybody.  I believe that she lamented that the Austin Friars
who named our hill were not called after the converter of our
forefathers, looking perfectly innocent of Kitty's secret all the time;
and Winifred eat Mrs. Turner's plum-cake, and stared at her
curiosities, so as to put her into good humour.  Thus far is certain,
from that day to this no more has been heard of St. Augustine or King
Ethelbert.'

'Oh! her work is made up into a screen now,' said Katharine, 'and is
very pretty.'

'And last time Mrs. Turner called at the Vicarage, she was very learned
about the Bishop of Hippo,' said Elizabeth; 'she is really very clever
in concealing her ignorance, when she does not think herself learned.'

'I thought they were not likely to promote the decoration of the new
church,' said Anne.

'Oh! she does not trouble herself about consistency,' said Elizabeth;
'anything which attracts notice pleases her.  She thinks our dear papa
has done more for the living than nine out of ten would have thought
of; and if there was any talk of presenting him with some small
testimonial of respect, her mite would be instantly forthcoming; and
Sir Edward Merton, he is the most munificent gentleman she ever heard
of; if all of his fortune were like him now!--"Only, my dear Miss
Lizzie, does not your papa think of having a lightning conductor
attached to the spire? such an elevation, it quite frightens me to
think of it! and the iron of the railroad, too--"'

'Oh! is she scientific, too?' aaid Anne.

'Yes; you see how the march of intellect has reached us,' said
Elizabeth; 'poor Kate is so much afraid of the electric fluid, that she
cannot venture to wear a steel buckle.  You have no idea of the efforts
we are making to keep up with the rest of the world.  We have a wicked
Radical newspaper all to ourselves; I wonder it has the face to call
itself the Abbeychurch Reporter.'

'Your inns are on the move,' said Anne; 'I see that little beer-shop
near the Station calls itself "The Locomotive Hotel."'

'I wish it were really locomotive,' said Elizabeth, 'so that it would
travel out of Abbeychurch; it is ruining half the young men here.'

'Well, perhaps the new town will mend,' said Anne; 'it will have a
Christian name to-morrow, and perhaps the influence of the old town
will improve it.'

'I think Papa has little hope of that kind,' said Elizabeth; 'if the
new town does grow a little better, the old will still grow worse. It
is grievous to see how much less conformable Papa finds the people of
the old town, than even I can remember them.  But come, we must be
locomotive, or Dora will not be at home in time.'



CHAPTER IV.


The clock was striking eight as the young ladies entered the house; but
Dora was allowed to sit up a little longer to see her aunt, Mrs.
Hazleby.  It was not long before a loud knock at the door announced
that lady's arrival.

Mrs. Hazleby was a tall bony Scotchwoman, with fierce-looking grey
eyes.  She gave Mrs. Woodbourne a very overpowering embrace, and then
was careful to mark the difference between her niece, little Dora, whom
she kissed, and the three elder girls, with whom she only shook hands.
She was followed by her daughters--Harriet, a tall showy girl of
sixteen, and Lucy, a pale, quiet, delicate-looking creature, a year
younger.  Rupert Merton was still missing; but his movements were
always so uncertain, that his family were in no uneasiness on his
account.

As Mrs. Woodbourne was advancing to kiss Harriet, a loud sharp 'yap'
was heard from something in the arms of the latter; Mrs. Woodbourne
started, turned pale, and looked so much alarmed, that Anne could not
laugh.  Harriet, however, was not so restrained, but laughed loudly as
she placed upon a chair a little Blenheim spaniel, with a blue ribbon
round his neck, and called to her sister Lucy to 'look after Fido.'  It
presently appeared that the little dog had been given to them at the
last place where they had been staying on the road to Abbeychurch; and
Mrs. Hazleby and her eldest daughter continued for some time to
expatiate upon the beauty and good qualities of Fido, as well as those
of all his kith and kin.  He was not, however, very cordially welcomed
by anyone at the Vicarage; for Mr. Woodbourne greatly disliked little
dogs in the house, his wife dreaded them much among her children, and
there were symptoms of a deadly feud between him and Elizabeth's only
pet, the great black cat, Meg Merrilies. But still his birth,
parentage, and education, were safe subjects of conversation; and all
were sorry when Mrs. Hazleby had exhausted them, and began to remark
how thin Elizabeth looked--to tell a story of a boy who had died of a
fever, some said of neglect, at the school where Horace was--to hint at
the possibility of Rupert's having been lost on the Scottish mountains,
blown up on the railroad, or sunk in a steam-vessel--to declare that
girls were always spoiled by being long absent from home, and to dilate
on the advantages of cheap churches.

She had nearly all the conversation to herself, the continual sound of
her voice being only varied by Harriet's notes and comments, given in a
pert shrill, high key, and by a few syllables in answer from Lady
Merton and Mrs. Woodbourne.  The two gentlemen, happily for themselves,
had a great quantity of plans and accounts of the church to look over
together, which were likely to occupy them through the whole of Sir
Edward's visit.  Elizabeth was busy numbering the Consecration tickets
for the next day, and Anne in helping her, so that they sat quietly
together in the inner drawing-room during the greater part of the
evening.

When they went up-stairs to bed, Elizabeth exclaimed, 'Oh! that horrid
new bonnet of mine!  I had quite forgotten it, and I must trim it now,
for I shall not have time to-morrow morning.  I will run to Kate and
Helen's room, and fetch my share of the ribbon.'

As she returned and sat down to work, she continued, 'It is too much
plague to quill up the ribbon as the others have theirs.  It will do
quite well enough plain.  Now, Anne, do not you think that as long as
dress is neat, which of course it must be, prettiness does not signify?'

'Perhaps I might think so, if I had to trim my own bonnets,' said Anne,
laughing.

'Ah! you do not think so--Anne, you who have everything about you, from
your shoe-strings upwards, in the most complete order and elegant
taste.  But then, you know, you would do quite as well if the things
were ugly.'

'If I wore yellow gowns and scarlet bonnets, for instance?' asked Anne.

'No, no, that would not be modest,' said Elizabeth; 'you would be no
longer a lady, so that you could not look lady-like, which I maintain a
lady always is, whether each morsel of her apparel is beautiful in
itself or not.'

'Indeed, Lizzie,' said Anne, 'I cannot say that I think as you do, at
least as far as regards ourselves, I think that it may be possible to
wear ugly things and still be lady-like, and I am sure I honour people
greatly who really deny themselves for the sake of doing right, if
anyone can seriously care for such a thing as dress; but I consider it
as a duty in such as ourselves, to consult the taste of the people we
live with.'

'As your mother said about my hair,' said Elizabeth thoughtfully; 'I
will do as she advised, Anne, but not while she is here, for fear Mamma
should fancy that I do so because Aunt Anne wished it, though I would
not to please her.  I believe you are right; but look here, will my
bonnet do?'

'I think it looks very well,' said Anne; 'but will it not seem
remarkable for you to be unlike your sisters?'

'Ah! it will give Mrs. Hazleby an opportunity of calling me blue, and
tormenting Mamma,' said Elizabeth; 'besides, Mamma wished us all to be
alike down to the little ones, so I will make the best of it, and trim
it like any London milliner.  But, Anne, you must consider it is a
great improvement in me to allow that respectable people must be neat.
I used to allow it in theory, but not in practice.'

'I do not think I ever saw you untidy, Lizzie,' said Anne, 'except
after a day's nutting in the hanging wood.'

'Oh yes, I could generally preserve a little outward tidiness,' said
Elizabeth; 'besides, a visit at Merton Hall is very different from
every day in shabby old Abbeychurch.  No, you must know that when I was
twelve years old, I was supposed to be capable of taking care of my own
wardrobe; and for some time all went on very smoothly, only that I
never did a stitch towards mending anything.'

'Did a beneficent fairy do it for you, then?'

'Not a sprite, nor even a brownie, but one of the old wrinkled kind of
fairies.  Old Margaret, that kindest of nurses, could not bear to see
her dear Miss Lizzie untidy, or to hear her dear Miss Lizzie scolded,
so she mended and mended without saying anything, encouraging me in
habits of arrant slovenliness, and if I had but known it, of deceit.
Dear old Margery, it was a heart-breaking thing when she went away, to
all from Winifred upwards, and to none more than to  me, who could
remember those two melancholy years when she often seemed my only
friend, when I was often naughty and Papa angry with me, and I feeling
motherless and wretched, used to sit on her lap and cry.  Dear old
Margery, it is a shame to abuse her in spite of the mischief her
over-kindness did us all.  Well, when our new maid came, on the
supposition that Miss Woodbourne took care of her own clothes, she
never touched them; and as Margaret's work was not endowed with the
fairy power of lasting for ever, I soon grew as ragged as any
ragged-robin in the hedge.  Mamma used to complain of my slovenliness,
but I am afraid I was naughty enough to take advantage of her
gentleness, and out-argue her; so things grew worse and worse, till at
last, one fatal day, Papa was aware of a great hole in my stockings.
Then forth it all came; he asked question after question; and dear kind
Mamma, even more unwilling to expose me than I was myself, was forced
to answer, and you may suppose how angry he was.  Oh! Anne, I can
hardly bear to think of the stern kindness of his voice when he saw I
was really quite wretched.  And only think how kind it was in him, he
spoke seriously to me, he shewed me that building the church, helping
our poor people, even Mamma's comforts, and the boys' education, depend
upon home economy; and how even I could make a difference by not
wasting my clothes, and making another servant necessary.'

'Then could you really gain neat habits immediately?' asked Anne;
'there could be no doubt of your resolving to do so, but few people
could or would persevere.'

'Oh! I am not properly tidy now,' said Elizabeth, opening a most
chaotic table-drawer, 'see, there is a proof of it.  However, I do not
think I have been shamefully slovenly in my own person since that
explosion, and I have scarcely been spoken to about it.  Who could
disregard such an appeal?  But, Anne, are you not enchanted with sweet
Mrs. Hazleby?'

'I wish you would not ask me, Lizzie,' said Anne, feeling very prudent,
'you know that I know nothing of her.'

'No, and you never will know enough of her to say such savage things as
I do,' said Elizabeth, 'but at any rate you saw her when she came in.'

'Certainly.'

'I mean the kissing; I am sure I am glad enough to escape it, and
always think Mamma and the children seem to be hugged by a bear; but
you know making such distinctions is not the way to make us like her,
even if we were so disposed.  Oh! and about me in particular, I am
convinced that she thinks that Mamma hates me as much as she does, for
she seems to think it will delight her to hear that I am thinner than
ever, and that such bright colour is a very bad sign, and then she
finishes off with a hypocritical sigh, and half whisper of "It can be
no wonder, poor thing!" trying to put everyone, especially Papa and
Uncle Edward, in mind of my own poor mother.  I declare I have no
patience with her or Harriet, or that ugly little wretch of a dog!'

In the mean time, Katherine and Helen were visiting their guests,
Harriet and Lucy Hazleby, whom, contrary to Elizabeth's arrangement,
Mrs. Woodbourne had lodged in the room where her own two little girls
usually slept.  Harriet was sitting at the table, at her ease, curling
her long cork-screw ringlets, with Fido at her feet; Lucy was unpacking
her wardrobe, Katherine lighting her, and admiring each article as it
was taken out, in spite of her former disapprobation of Harriet's style
of dress.  Helen stood lingering by the door, with her hand on the
lock, still listening or talking, though not much interested, and
having already three times wished her guests good night.  Their
conversation, though not worth recording for any sense or reflection
shewn by any of the talkers, may perhaps display their characters, and
add two or three facts to our story, which may be amusing to some few
of our readers.

'Oh! Lucy,' cried Harriet, with a start, 'take care of my spotted
muslin, it is caught on the lock of the box.  You always are so
careless.'

Katherine assisted Lucy to rescue the dress from the threatened danger,
and Harriet continued, 'Well, and what do you wear to-morrow, Kate?'

'White muslin, with pink ribbons,' said Katherine.

'I have a green and orange striped mousseline de laine, Mamma gave only
fifteen-pence a yard for it; I will shew it to you when Lucy comes to
it, and you will see if it is not a bargain.  And what bonnets?'

'Straw, with ribbon like our sashes,' said Katherine.  'Oh! we had so
much trouble to get--'

'My bonnet is green satin,' said Harriet, 'but if I had been you, Kate,
I would have had Leghorn.  Wouldn't you, Lucy?'

'Five Leghorn bonnets would have cost too much,' said Katherine, 'and
Mamma wished us all to be alike.'

'Ah! she would not let you be smarter than her own girls, eh, Kitty?'
said Harriet, laughing.

'I had been obliged to buy a very nice new straw bonnet at Dykelands,'
said Helen, 'and it, would have been a pity not to use that.'

'Well, I have no notion of a whole row of sisters being forced to dress
alike,' said Harriet; 'Aunt Mildred might--'

Here Lucy stopped her sister's speech, by bringing the gown forward to
display it.  When Harriet had sufficiently explained its excellence she
began, 'So your cousin, young Merton, is coming, is he?'

'Yes,' said Katherine, 'we expected him last night, or in the course of
this day, but he has not come yet.'

'Well, what sort of a young fellow is he?' said Harriet.

'Very clever indeed,' said Katherine.

'Oh! then he will not be in my line at all,' said Harriet; 'those
clever boys are never worth speaking to, are they, Lucy?'

'Do you like stupid ones better?' said Helen.

'Capital, isn't it, Lucy?' cried Harriet; 'I did not mean stupid; I
only meant, clever boys, as they call them, have no fun, they only
read, read for ever, like my brother Allan.'

'I am sure Rupert is full of fun,' said Katherine.

'Oh, but he is quite a boy, is not he?' said Harriet.

'Nineteen, and at Oxford,' said Katherine.

'Oh! I call that quite a boy--don't you, Lucy?' said Harriet; 'is he
handsome?'

'Yes, very,' said Katherine.

'Not like his sister, then, I suppose,' said Harriet.

'Oh! do not you, think Anne pretty?' said Katherine.

'I do not know--no, too small and pale to suit me,' said Harriet.

'Rupert is not like Anne,' said Katherine, 'he has a very bright pink
and white complexion, and light hair.'

'Is he tall?'

'No, not so tall as your brother George, but slighter.  He has had two
of his front teeth knocked out by a stone at school,' said Katherine.

'What a fuss they did make about those teeth!' muttered Helen.

'Was that the school where Horace is?' said Harriet.

'Yes,' said Katherine, 'Sandleford.'

'How you must miss Horace!' said Lucy.

'Poor little fellow, yes, that we do,' said Katherine, 'but he was so
riotous, he would pull all my things to pieces.  Nobody could manage
him but Lizzie, and she never minds what she has on.'

'What a tear he did make in my frock!' said Harriet, laughing; 'didn't
he, Lucy?'

'How tired you look, Lucy,' said Helen, 'I am sure you ought to be in
bed.'

'Oh no, I am not very sleepy,' said Lucy, smiling.

'I am dead tired, I am sure,' said Harriet, yawning; 'it was so hot in
the railway carriage.'

'Cannot the rest of those things be put away to-morrow morning,
Harriet?' said Helen.

'Oh!' said Harriet, yawning, 'there will not be time; Lucy may as well
do them all now she has begun.  How sleepy I am! we walked about London
all the morning.'

'Come, Helen,' said Katherine, 'it is quite time for us to be gone; we
must be up early to-morrow.'



CHAPTER V.


The morning of the twenty-eighth of August was as fine as heart could
wish, and the three sisters rose almost as soon as it was light, to
fulfil their promise of attending to all the small nondescript matters
of arrangement, needful when a large party is expected by a family not
much in the habit of receiving company.  Katherine, who had quite given
up all thoughts of equalling her elder sister in talent, and who prided
herself on being the useful member of the family, made herself very
busy in the store-room; Helen, arranged the fruit with much taste; and
Elizabeth was up-stairs and down, here, there, and everywhere, till it
was difficult to find anything which she had not rectified by labour of
head or hand.

'Well,' said she, as she brought Helen a fresh supply of vine leaves
from the garden, 'I wonder whether Rupert will come in time.  I shall
be very sorry if he does not, for he has done a great deal for the
church.'

'Has he indeed?' said Helen, with an air that expressed, 'I should not
have thought it.'

'O Helen, how can you take so little interest in the church?' said
Elizabeth; 'do not you remember how much trouble Rupert took to find a
pattern for the kneeling-stools, and what a beautiful drawing he sent
of those at Magdalen Collegia Chapel?  I am sure he would be very much
vexed to miss the Consecration.'

'I suppose he might come if he pleased,' said Helen; 'but perhaps he
did not choose to get up early enough.'

'That is the first time I ever heard Rupert accused of indolence,' said
Elizabeth.

'I do not mean that he does not generally get up in good time,' said
Helen; 'he is not lazy; but I do not think he chooses to put himself
out of the way; and besides, he rather likes to make people anxious
about him.'

'I know you have never liked Rupert,' said Elizabeth drily.

'Papa thinks as I do,' said Helen; 'I have heard him say that he is a
spoiled child, and thinks too much of himself.'

'Oh! that was only because Aunt Anne worked that beautiful waistcoat
for him,' said Elizabeth; 'that was not Rupert's fault.'

'And Papa said that he was quite fond enough already of smart
waistcoats,' said Helen; 'and he laughed at his wearing a ring.'

'That is only a blood-stone with his crest,' said Elizabeth, 'and I am
sure no one can accuse Rupert of vulgar smartness.'

'Not of _vulgar_ smartness,' said Helen, 'but you must allow that
everything about him has a--kind of--what shall I say?--recherche air,
that seems as if he thought a great deal of himself; I am sure you must
have heard Papa say something of the kind.'

'Really, Helen,' said Elizabeth, 'I cannot think why you should be
determined to say all that you can against that poor Rupert.'

Helen made no answer.

'I do believe,' said Elizabeth, 'that you have had a grudge against him
ever since he made you an April fool.  Oh! how capital it was,' cried
she, sitting down to laugh at the remembrance.  'To make you believe
that the beautiful work-box Uncle Edward sent you, was a case of
surgical instruments for Mr. Turner, to shew his gratitude for his
attendance upon Rupert when he had the fever, and for setting his mouth
to rights when his teeth were knocked out at school.  Oh! there never
was such fun as to see how frightened you looked, and how curious Kate
and Horace were, and how Mamma begged him not to open the box and shew
her the horrid things.'

'I wish Rupert would keep to the truth with his jokes,' said Helen.

'Helen,' said Elizabeth, 'you cannot mean to say that he ever says what
is untrue.  You are letting yourself be carried much too far by your
dislike.'

'If he does not positively assert what is not true, he often makes
people believe it,' said Helen.

'Only stupid people, who have no perception of a joke,' said Elizabeth;
'he never deceived me with any joke; it is only that you do not
understand.'

'I wonder how such a candid person as you are, can defend the slightest
departure from truth for any purpose,' said Helen.

'I would not defend anyone whom I did not believe to be upright and
open,' said Elizabeth; 'but it is only your slowness, and old spite
against Rupert because he used to joke you, that puts these fancies
into your head.  Now I must go to the children; I hope, Helen, you will
really enter into the spirit of the day, little as you seem to care
about the church.'

Helen gave a deep sigh as her sister left the room; she was vexed at
having been laughed at, at the disregard of her arguments, at the
reproach, and perhaps a little at Elizabeth's having taken no notice of
the beautiful pyramid of cherries which had cost her half an hour's
labour.

There was some truth in what Helen said of her cousin, though few would
have given his faults so much prominence.  Rupert Merton was an only
son, and very handsome, and this was the history of nearly all his
foibles.  No one could say that his career at school, and so far at
college, had not been everything that could be wished, and most people
had nearly as high an opinion of him as he had of himself; but Helen,
who had almost always been made a laughing-stock when he was with her,
had not quite so agreeable a recollection of his lively, graceful,
pleasant manners as her sisters had, and was glad to find that his
tormenting ways were not entirely caused by her own querulous temper,
as Elizabeth sometimes told her they were.

When Mrs. Woodbourne came down, Helen's handiwork received its full
share of admiration, and Mrs. Woodbourne was much pleased by the girls'
forethought and activity, which had saved her from a great deal of
fatigue.

The breakfast was quickly finished, and immediately afterwards the four
eldest Miss Woodbournes, together with Anne, went to the school to see
if the children were ready to go to church.  It was pleasant to see the
smiling courtesying row of girls, each with her Prayer-book in her
hand, replying to Elizabeth's nods, greetings, and questions, with
bright affectionate looks, or a few words, which shewed that they were
conscious of the solemnity of the service in which they were about to
bear a part.

Elizabeth left her sisters and Anne to assist the school-mistress in
marshalling them on their way to church, and returned home to fetch
Edward and Winifred, whom she had engaged to take with her.  She found
that nearly all the party were gone, and report said that the Bishop
had arrived at the house of Mr. Somerville, who was to be curate of St.
Austin's.  Winifred and Edward were watching for her at the door, in
great dread of being forgotten, for they said, 'Papa had come for
Mamma, and fetched her away in a great hurry, and then Harriet and Lucy
set off after them, and Uncle Edward had taken Aunt Anne long before to
look at the church.'  Elizabeth was rejoicing in the prospect of a
quiet walk with the children, and was only delaying in a vain attempt
to reduce the long fingers of Winifred's glove to something more like
the length of the short fingers of its owner, when a sharp voice at the
top of the stairs cried out, 'Wait for me!' and Mrs. Hazleby appeared,
looking very splendid in a short black silk cloak trimmed with scarlet.

'Where have you been all this time?' said she to Elizabeth, while she
caught hold of Winifred's hand, or, more properly speaking, of her
wrist; 'we shall all be too late.'

'I have been at the school,' said Elizabeth.

'What! do you keep school to-day?' asked Mrs. Hazleby.

'No,' said Elizabeth, 'but the children are going to the Consecration.'

'Poor little things!' exclaimed Mrs. Hazleby; 'how will they sit out
such a service?'

'None under seven years old are to be there,' said Elizabeth, 'and of
the older ones only those who are tolerably good; and I should think
they could join in the service sufficiently to prevent them from
finding it tedious.'

'Well, I hope so,' said Mrs. Hazleby, in a voice which meant, 'What
nonsense!'  'How steep the hill is!' added she presently; 'what a
fatigue for old people!'

'It is not nearly so steep on the other side,' replied Elizabeth, 'and
the people on this side have the old church.'

'Why did they choose such an exposed situation?' continued Mrs.
Hazleby; 'so hot in summer, and so cold in winter.'

'There was no other open piece of ground to be had near enough to the
new town,' answered Elizabeth, keeping to herself an additional reason,
which was, that tradition said that there had once been a little chapel
dedicated in the name of St. Augustine, on the site of the new church.
Mrs. Hazleby was silent for a few moments, when, as they came in sight
of what was passing at the top of the hill, she saw a gentleman hasten
across the church-yard, and asked who he was.

'Mr. Somerville, the new curate,' was the answer.

'What! another curate?  I thought Mr. Walker might have been enough!'
exclaimed Mrs. Hazleby.

'Papa did not think so,' said Elizabeth drily.

'Well, I suppose that is another hundred a year out of Mr. Woodbourne's
pocket,' said Mrs. Hazleby; 'enough to ruin his family.'

'I am sure,' said Elizabeth, beginning to grow angry, 'Papa had rather
do his duty as a clergyman, than lay up thousands for us.'

'Fine talking for young things,' said Mrs. Hazleby; 'besides, it is
nothing to you, you three elder ones will be well enough off with your
mother's fortune.'

Elizabeth was more annoyed and provoked by this speech than by anything
Mrs. Hazleby had ever said to her before; her cheeks burnt with
indignation, and something which felt very like shame, but her bonnet
concealed them, and she attempted no reply.  Mrs. Hazleby began talking
to Winifred about her new sash, and criticizing Elizabeth's dress; and
though Elizabeth could have wished Winifred's mind to have been
occupied with other things at such a time, yet she was glad of the
opportunity this diversion gave her to compose herself before entering
the church.

Almost everyone who has ever joined in our beautiful Consecration
Service, can imagine the feelings of some of the party from the
Vicarage--can figure to themselves Mrs. Woodbourne's quiet tears;
Dora's happy yet awe-struck face; Anne sympathizing with everyone,
rather than feeling on her own account; can think of the choking
overwhelming joy with which Elizabeth looked into little Edward's
wondering eyes, as the name of their father was read, the first among
those who petitioned the Bishop to set that building apart from all
ordinary and common uses; can feel, or perhaps have known, the
exultation with which she joined in the Psalms, and the swelling of
heart as she followed the prayer for a blessing on the families of
those who had been the means of the building of that House.  But we
must go no farther; for, such thoughts and scenes are too high to be
more than touched upon in a story of this kind; therefore we will only
add, that Winifred and Edward behaved quite as well as Elizabeth had
engaged that they should do, only beginning to yawn just before the end
of the service.

After they had returned from the church, the luncheon at the Vicarage
gave ample employment to Elizabeth's hands, and nearly enough to her
thoughts, in carving cold chicken, and doing the honours of Merton Hall
peaches, at the side-table; and she was very glad, when at three
o'clock the company adjourned to the quadrangle, to see the
school-children's feast.

The quadrangle was enclosed on the north side by the old church, on the
south and west by the alms-houses, and on the east by the low wall of
the Vicarage garden; there was a wide gravel path all round the court,
and here tables were spread, around which were to be seen the merry
faces of all the children of the two schools--the boys, a uniform rank
arrayed in King Edward's blue coats and yellow stockings, with but a
small proportion of modern-looking youths in brown or blue, and deep
white collars--the girls, a long party-coloured line, only resembling
each other in the white tippets, which had lately encumbered
Elizabeth's room.

Much activity was called for, from all who chose to take part in
supplying the children; the young ladies' baskets of buns were rapidly
emptied, and Mr. Somerville's great pitcher of tea frequently drained,
although he pretended to be very exclusive, and offer his services to
none but the children of St. Austin's, to whom Winifred introduced him.
The rest of the company walked round the cloisters, which were covered
with dark red roses and honeysuckles, talking to the old people,
admiring their flowers, especially Mr. Dillon's dahlias, and watching
the troop of children, who looked like a living flower-bed.

Mrs. Hazleby chanced to be standing near Mrs. Bouverie, a lady who
lived at some distance from Abbeychurch, and who was going to stay and
dine at the Vicarage.  She was tolerably well acquainted with Mr.
Woodbourne, but she had not seen the girls since they were quite young
children, and now, remarking Elizabeth, she asked Mrs. Hazleby if she
was one of Mr. Woodbourne's daughters.

'Oh yes,' said Mrs. Hazleby, 'the eldest of them.'

'She has a remarkably fine countenance,' said Mrs. Bouverie.

'Do you admire her?' said Mrs. Hazleby; 'well, I never could see
anything so remarkably handsome in Lizzie Woodbourne.  Too thin, too
sharp, too high-coloured; Kate is twenty times prettier, to say nothing
of the little ones.'

'I should not call Miss Woodbourne pretty,' said Mrs. Bouverie, 'but I
think her brow and eye exceedingly beautiful and full of expression.'

'Oh yes,' cried Mrs. Hazleby, 'she is thought vastly clever, I assure
you, though for my part I never could see anything in her but pertness.'

'She has not the air of being pert,' said Mrs. Bouverie.

'Oh! she can give herself airs enough,' said Mrs. Hazleby; 'my poor
sister-in-law has had trouble enough with her; just like her mother,
they say.'

'So I was thinking,' said Mrs. Bouverie, looking at Elizabeth, who was
stooping down to a little shy girl, and trying to hear her whispered
request.

Mrs. Bouverie spoke in a tone so different from that which Mrs. Hazleby
expected, that even she found that she had gone too far, and
recollected that it was possible that Mrs. Bouverie might have known
the first Mrs. Woodbourne.  She changed her note. 'Just like her poor
mother, and quite as delicate, poor girl.'

'Is she indeed?' said Mrs. Bouverie, in a tone of great interest.

'Yes, that she is, scarcely ever without a cough.  Full of spirits, you
see--rather too, much of it; but I should not be surprised any day--'

At this moment Winifred came running up, to cry, 'Look, Aunt Hazleby,
at the basket of balls; I have been to the house to fetch them, and now
the boys are going away to the cricket-ground, and the girls are to
have a famous game at play.'

Mrs. Hazleby only said, 'Hm,' but the other lady paid more attention to
the little girl, who was very little troubled with shyness, and soon
was very happy--throwing the balls to the girls, and--at the same
time--chattering to Mrs. Bouverie, and saying a great deal about
'Lizzie,' telling how Lizzie said that one little girl was good and
another was naughty, that Lizzie said she should soon begin to teach
her French; Lizzie taught her all her lessons, Mamma only heard her
music; Lizzie had shewn her where to look in her Consecration-book, so
that she should not be puzzled at Church to-day; Lizzie said she had
behaved very well, and that she should tell Papa so; she had a red
ribbon with a medal with Winchester Cathedral upon it, which Lizzie let
her wear to shew Papa and Mamma when she was good at her lessons; she
hoped she should wear it to-day, though she had not done any lessons,
for Lizzie said it was a joyful day, like a Sunday. All this made Mrs.
Bouverie desirous of being acquainted with 'Lizzie,' but she could find
no opportunity of speaking to her, as Elizabeth never willingly came
near strangers, and was fully occupied with the school-children, so
that she and Anne were the last to come in-doors to dress.

They were surprised on coming in to find Helen sitting on the last step
of the stairs, with Dora on her lap, the latter crying bitterly, and
Helen using all those means of consolation, which, with the best
intention, have generally the effect of making matters worse.  As soon
as Elizabeth appeared, Dora sprang towards her, exclaiming, 'Lizzie,
dear Lizzie, do you know, Aunt Hazleby says that my mamma is not your
mamma, nor Kate's, nor Helen's, and I do not like it.  What does she
mean?  Lizzie, I do not understand.'

Elizabeth looked up rather fiercely; but, kissing her little sister,
said, gently, 'Yes, Dora, it is really true, my own mother lies in the
churchyard.  I will shew you where.'

'And are you, not my sisters?' asked Dora, holding firmly by the hands
of Elizabeth, and Helen.

'Oh yes, yes, Dora!' cried Helen, 'we are your sisters, only not quite,
the same as Winifred.'

'And have you no mamma, really no mamma?' continued Dora looking
frightened, although soothed by Elizabeth's manner, and by feeling that
the truth was really told her.

'Not really, Dora; but your mamma is quite the same to us as if she
really was our mother,' said. Elizabeth, leading the little girl away,
and leaving Anne and Helen looking unutterable things at each other.

Helen then went into the large, drawing-room, to fetch some, of her
out-of-door apparel which she had left there, and Anne followed her. No
one was in the room but Mrs. Hazleby, who looked more disconcerted than
Helen had ever seen her before.  She seemed to think, it necessary to
make some apology, and began, 'I am sure I had no notion that, the
child did not know it all perfectly at her age.'

'Mamma has always wished to keep the little ones from knowing of any
difference as long as possible,' said Helen, rather indignantly; but
recollecting herself, she added, 'I think Dora is rather tired, and
perhaps she was the more easily overcome for that reason.'

'Ah! very likely, poor child,' said Mrs. Hazleby; 'it was folly to take
her to such a ceremony.'

'She seemed to enjoy it, and enter into it as much as any of us,' said
Helen.

'Ah! well, some people's children are vastly clever,' said Mrs.
Hazleby.  'Do you know where Fido is, Miss Helen? if one may ask you
such a question.'

Helen replied very courteously, by an offer to go and look for him. He
was quickly found, and as soon as she had brought him to his mistress,
she followed Anne to Elizabeth's room, where in a short time they were
joined by the latter, looking worn and tired, and with the brilliant
flush of excitement on her cheeks.

'Is Dora comforted?' was the first question asked on her entrance.

'Oh yes,' said Elizabeth, 'that was soon settled; she was only scared,
so I took her to Mamma, who kissed us both, told Dora she loved us all
the same, and so on; which made her quite happy again.'

'Dear little affectionate creature!' exclaimed Helen warmly.

'How very angry with her Mrs. Hazleby seemed!' said Anne.

'Yes,' said Helen, 'because Dora came to me in her distress, and would
not let Mrs. Hazleby kiss her.'

'How came Mrs. Hazleby to begin upon it?' said Elizabeth; 'was it from
her instinctive perception of disagreeable subjects?'

'I can hardly tell,' said Helen, 'I was not there at first; I rather
think--' but here she stopped short, and looked confused.

'Well, what do you think?'

'Why, I believe it arose from her seeing Uncle Edward playing with
Edward on the green,' began Helen, with a good deal of hesitation,
'saying that he was his godfather, and--and she--she hoped he would be
would be as--he would do as much for him, as if he was actually his
uncle.'

'Horrid woman!' said Elizabeth, blushing deeply.

'My dear Lizzie,' said Anne, laughing, 'do you hope he will not?'

'Nonsense, Anne,' said Elizabeth, laughing too; 'but I hope you quite
give up the Hazlebys after this specimen.'

'Now, Lizzie,' said Helen, 'that is quite in your unjust sweeping style
of censuring.  You do not mean to say that Lucy, or the Major, or the
boys, are disagreeable.'

'Root and branch, they are all infected,' said Elizabeth; 'who could
help it, living with Mrs. Hazleby?'

'Pray do not be so unfair, Lizzie,' continued Helen; 'I am sure that
Lucy is a most amiable, sensible, gentle creature; the more to be
admired for having such a mother and sister.'

'By way of foil, I suppose,' said Elizabeth; 'still, saving your
presence, Helen, I think that if Lucy had all the sense you ascribe to
her, she might keep things a little more straight.'

'Really, Lizzie,' said Helen, 'it is not like you to blame poor Lucy
for her misfortunes; but I know very well that you only do it to
contradict me.'

'Well,' said Elizabeth impatiently, 'I do allow that she is a redeeming
point, but I do not give her such hyperbolical praise as you do; I may
say she is the best of them, without calling her a paragon of
perfection.'

'I never called her any such thing!' exclaimed Helen; 'but you will
always wrest my words, and pretend to misunderstand me.'

'I am sorry I have vexed you, Helen,' said Elizabeth, more kindly; and
Helen left the room.

'Indeed, Lizzie,' said Anne, 'I cannot think why you argued against
this poor girl, after what you said yesterday.'

'Because I cannot bear Helen's sententious decided manner,' said
Elizabeth; 'and she exaggerates so much, that I must sometimes take her
down.'

'But,' said Anne, 'do you not exaggerate the exaggeration, and so put
her more in the right than yourself?'

'You mean by turning her string of superlatives into a paragon of
perfection,' said Elizabeth; 'I certainly believe I was unjust, but I
could not help it.'

Anne did not see that her cousin might not have helped it, but she
thought she had said enough on the subject, and let it pass.

'Now, Anne,' said Elizabeth, presently after, 'what strange people we
are, to stand here abusing Helen and the Hazlebys, instead of talking
over such wonderful happiness as it is to think that your father and
mine have been allowed to complete such a work as this church.'

'Indeed it is wonderful happiness,' said Anne, her eyes filling with
tears, 'but I do not know whether you feel as I do, that it is too
great, too overwhelming, to talk of now it is fresh.  We shall enjoy
looking back to it more when we are further from it.'

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'this morning I was only fit to laugh or cry, at
I did not know what, and now I am vexed with myself for having been too
much occupied and annoyed with little things to be happy enough.  This
Consecration day will be a glorious time to look back to, when it is
alone on the horizon, and we have lost sight of all that blemishes it
now.  I will tell you what it will be like.  I once saw the Church, on
a misty day, from a great distance.  It was about the middle of the
day, and the veil of mist was hanging all round the hill, but there
stood the Church, clear and bright, and alone in the sunshine, all the
scaffold poles and unfinished roughness lost sight of in the distance.
I never saw a more beautiful sight.'

'And do you expect that distance of time will conceal all blemishes as
well as distance of place?' said Anne.

'Yes, unless I take a telescope to look at them with,' answered
Elizabeth; 'perhaps, Anne, in thirty years time, if we both live so
long, we may meet and talk over this day, and smile, and wonder that we
could have been vexed by anything at such a time.'

'You like looking forward,' said Anne; 'I suppose I am too happy, for I
am afraid to look forward; any change of any sort must bring sorrow
with it.'

'I suppose you are right,' said Elizabeth; 'that is, I believe the
safest frame of mind to be that which resigns itself to anything that
may be appointed for it, rather than that which makes schemes and
projects for itself.'

'Oh! but, Lizzie,' said Anne, 'I did not mean that.  Mine is rather an
indolent frame, which does not scheme, because my present condition is,
I do believe, happier than any I could imagine upon earth.  I do not
think that is resignation--there are some things under which I do not
think I could be resigned, at least not with my present feelings.'

'Yes, you would, Anne,' said Elizabeth; 'you are just the calm tempered
person who would rise up to meet the trial in peace.--But I do not know
what I am talking about; and so I shall go on with what I meant to say
before--that bright visions are my great delight.  I like to fancy what
Horace and Edward may be, I like to imagine my own mind grown older, I
like to consider what I shall think of the things that occupy us now.
But then I am not likely to be disappointed, even if my castles in the
air should fall down.  You know I am not likely to be a long-lived
person.'

'Oh! do not say so, my dear Lizzie,' cried Anne; 'I cannot bear it.'

'Indeed, Anne,' said Elizabeth, 'I did not mean to say anything which
could shock you.  I only touched upon what you must have known half
your life, and what Mrs. Hazleby has taken good care that I should not
forget.  I am perfectly well now, and have nothing the matter with me;
but then I know that a little illness has a great effect upon me, and
my colds are much sooner caught than cured.'

Before Anne could answer, there was a knock at the door, and Lady
Merton's maid appeared, ready to dress her young lady for the evening;
and thus the conversation ended.

The girls were to drink tea in the inner drawing-room, as soon as the
company were gone into the dining-room; and Anne and Elizabeth waited
to come down-stairs till dinner had begun.

As soon as they entered the room, Harriet began to admire the lace
trimming of Anne's dress, asking many questions about it, to all of
which Anne replied with great good nature.  As soon as the lace had
been sufficiently discussed, Harriet turned round to Elizabeth,
exclaiming, 'Why, Lizzie, why in the world have you taken to that
fashion of doing your hair? it makes you look thinner than ever. Such
dark hair too! it wants a little colour to relieve it; why do you not
wear a red band in it, like mine?'

'I thought this way of wearing it saved time,' said Elizabeth; 'but I
believe I shall curl it again.'

'Indeed I hope you will; you have no notion how thin it makes you
look,' said Harriet.

'Of course I must look thin if I am thin,' said Elizabeth, a good deal
annoyed by Harriet's pertinacity.

'Thin you are, indeed,' continued Harriet, taking hold of her wrist.
Elizabeth drew back hastily, and Harriet relinquished it; conscious
perhaps, that however thin the arm might look, her own broad ruddy hand
would hardly bear a comparison with Elizabeth's long slender white
fingers, and returned to the subject of the hair, shaking her profusion
of ringlets.

'And straight hair is all the fashion now, but I think it gives a
terrible dowdy look.  Only that does not signify when you are not
out.--By-the-bye, Miss Merton, are you out?'

'I shall not be seventeen these three months,' said Anne.

'Well, I am not seventeen yet, nor near it,' pursued Harriet; 'but I
always dine out, and at home too.  Don't I, Lucy?'

Elizabeth did not think it necessary to make any apology for Harriet's
not having been asked to dine with the company, since Mrs. Woodbourne
had already settled that matter with Mrs. Hazleby; but Katharine, who,
though younger, had more idea of manner, said, after a little
hesitation, 'Mamma talked of it, but Papa said that if one dined all
must, and there would be too many.'

'Oh, law! Kate,' said Harriet, 'never mind; I do not mind it a bit, I
would just as soon drink tea here, as dine.--You are not out, are you,
Lizzie?'

'If you consider that dining constitutes being out, I generally am,'
said Elizabeth, rather coldly and haughtily.

'Ay, ay,' cried Harriet, laughing, 'you would be out indeed, to go
without your dinner.--Capital, is not it, Kate? but I wanted to know
whether you are regularly come out?'

'I do not know,' replied Elizabeth.

'Oh, then, you are not,' said Harriet; 'everyone knows who is out: I
should not have been out now, if it had not been for Frank Hollis, (he
is senior lieutenant at last, you know)--well, when our officers gave
the grand ball at Hull, Frank Hollis came to Mamma, and said they could
do nothing without the Major's daughter, and I must open the ball.
Such nonsense he talked--didn't he, Lucy?  Well, Mamma gave way, and
said she'd persuade the Major.  Papa was rather grumpy at first, you
know, Lucy, but we coaxed him over at last.  Oh, it was such fun!  I
danced first with Frank Hollis--just out of gratitude, you know, and
then with Captain Murphy, and then--O Lucy, do you remember _who_?--and
I had a silk dress which Mamma brought from India, trimmed just like
yours, Miss Merton, only with four rows of lace, because I am taller,
you know, and a berthe of--'

Elizabeth could endure this no longer, and broke in, 'And pray,
Harriet, did you learn the book of fashions by heart?'

'Not quite,' said Harriet, with provoking obtuseness, or good humour;
'I did very nearly, though, when I was making my dress.  Now, Lizzie,
do not you wish you were out?'

'No, not in the least,' said Elizabeth, by this time quite out of
patience; 'I think society a nuisance, and I am glad to be free of it
as long as I can.'

'Lizzie,' said Helen gravely, 'you are talking rhodomontade.'

'By no means, Helen,' said Elizabeth; 'it is my serious opinion, that,
unless you can find real friends, minds that suit you, you should keep
to yourself, and let bores and geese keep to themselves.'

'Becoming yourself one of the interesting tribe of bears, or perhaps of
crabs,' whispered Anne.

'Well, what an odd girl you are!' cried Harriet; 'well, if ever--!'

'But, Lizzie, what would become of the world if there was no society?'
said Katherine.

'And, Lizzie,' began Helen, very seriously, 'do not you know that it is
a duty to take part in society, that--'

'Oh yes, Helen!' answered Elizabeth; 'I know all that books and wise
people say; but what I say is this: if a sumptuary law could decree
that wits should be measured by one standard, like the ruffs and
rapiers in Queen Elizabeth's time, so that those found wanting might be
banished, there might be some use in meeting people; but in the present
state of things there is none.'

'But how would you choose your standard?' said Anne; 'everyone would
take their own degree of sense as a measure.'

'Let them,' said Elizabeth; 'there would be a set of measures like the
bolters in a mill, one for the pastry-flour, one for the bread-flour,
one for the blues, one for the bran.'

'I am glad you put the blues after the bread,' said Anne; 'there is
hope of you yet, Lizzie.'

Elizabeth was too far advanced in her career of nonsense to be easily
checked, even by Anne; and she continued, 'Sir Walter Scott says in one
of his letters, that he wishes there could be a whole village of poets
and antiquaries isolated from the rest of the world.  That must be like
what I mean.'

'I do not think he meant what he said there,' said Helen.

'And pray remember,' said Anne, 'that your favourite brown bread is
made of all those kinds mixed--bran, and pastry-flour, and all.'

'Yes,' said Helen, 'all the world would turn idiots if there were not a
few sensible people to raise the others.'

'Well,' said Elizabeth, 'you know the Veillees du Chateau says, there
is a village where all the people do turn idiots at fourteen.'

'You are just the right age, Helen,' said Anne, 'you had better take
care, since Lizzie says you live in such a foolish world.'

Helen had not tact enough to perceive that it was better to turn off
the discussion by a joke, and continued, 'And you forget how useful it
is to the sensible people to be obliged to bear and forbear.'

'I should be content, if the foolish people would be raised by the
wise, instead of debasing them,' said Elizabeth.

'If people are really wise, they will not let themselves be debased,'
said Anne.

Helen glanced towards Lucy, Elizabeth caught her eye, and smiled in a
way which almost compensated for all her unkindness in their dispute an
hour before.

Harriet and Katherine, who had not been much interested by this
argument, now started another subject of conversation, which they had
almost entirely to themselves, and which occupied them until tea was
over, somewhat to Anne's amusement and Elizabeth's disgust, as they
listened to it.

As soon as the tea-things were removed, Elizabeth and Anne went to
fetch the children.  Elizabeth let loose her indignation as soon as she
was out of the drawing-room.

'Did you ever hear anything so vulgar?' said she.

'Indeed it was very ridiculous,' said Anne, beginning to laugh at the
remembrance.

'How can you be diverted with things that enrage me?' said Elizabeth.

'It is better than taking them to heart, as you do, my poor Lizzie,'
said Anne; 'they are but folly after all.'

'Disgusting provoking folly,' said Elizabeth; 'and then to see Kate
looking as if she thought it must be so delectable.  Really, Kate is
quite spoiled between Harriet and the Abbeychurch riff-raff, and I can
do nothing to prevent it.'

'But,' said Anne diffidently, seeing that her cousin was in a graver
mood this evening, 'do not you think that perhaps if you could be a
little more companionable to Kate, and not say things so evidently for
the sake of contradiction, you might gain a little useful influence?'

'Well,' said Elizabeth, smiling, 'I believe I do deserve a good
scolding; I fancy I was outrageously rude; but when people talk such
stuff, I do not much care what I say, as long as I am on the other side
of the question.'

'Still the reverse of wrong is not always right,' said Anne.

They now found themselves at the nursery door, and summoned the
children from that scene of playthings, and bread and butter.
Down-stairs, one of those games at romps arose, for which little
children are often made an excuse by great ones, and which was only
concluded by the entrance of the ladies from the drawing-room, which
caused Harriet hastily to retreat into the inner drawing-room, to
smoothe her ruffled lace; while Katherine was re-tying Winifred's
loosened sash, and laying a few refractory curls in their right places.

Mrs. Woodbourne called Elizabeth, and introduced her as 'my eldest
daughter,' to Mrs. Bouverie, and to Mrs. Dale, a lady who had lately
come to live in the neighbourhood, and who discovered a most striking
resemblance between Mrs. Woodbourne and Elizabeth, certainly at the
expense of a considerable stretch of imagination, as Mrs. Woodbourne
was a very little and very elegant looking person, very fair and pale,
and Elizabeth was tall, dark-eyed, dark-haired, her figure much too
slender for her height, and her movements too rapid to be graceful,
altogether as different a style of person as could well be imagined.

Not much prepossessed in favour of the party in general by this
specimen, Elizabeth, after shaking hands with Miss Maynard and her
niece, people whom she seldom saw, and did not much like, retreated to
one of the windows, and there began to meditate, as was her usual
custom on such occasions.  Once, when accompanying Mrs. Woodbourne on a
morning visiting expedition, she had translated the Erl King, which she
knew by heart, into English, far more literal than Sir Walter Scott's,
and with no fault, except that not above half the couplets professed to
rhyme, and most of those that did were deficient in metre.  Another
time she had composed three quarters of a story of a Saxon hero,
oppressed by a Norman baron, and going to the Crusades; and at another
time she had sent back the whole party to the times of Queen Elizabeth,
and fancied what they might be saying about the Spanish Armada.  But
now, whether because there was too much talking in the room, or because
the Consecration had lately left no room for the fancies on which she
was accustomed to feed, she could find nothing more sublime to reflect
upon than the appearance of her cousin Anne, who was entertaining the
young Miss Maynard, a shy girl, yet pleased with notice, by a
conversation, which, if not very interesting, saved her from belonging
to any of the four agreeable tribes mentioned at tea-time.

Now, Anne, though she did not posses the tall figure or striking
countenance of her cousins, the Woodbournes, or the brilliant
complexion of her brother, was one of those people who always look
well.  She was small and slightly made, and very graceful; and
everything she wore was appropriate and becoming, so that, without
bestowing much thought on the matter, she never looked otherwise than
perfectly well dressed.  She was rather pale; her eyes were grey, with
long dark lashes; and her hair brown; her features were well formed and
animated; and though by no means remarkable, everyone called her
nice-looking; some said she was pretty, and a few thought and felt that
her countenance was lovely.  So much had lately been said about
dress--about Elizabeth's curls, and Helen's tails, and Anne's
lace--that, wonderful to say, it was the readiest subject Elizabeth
could find to meditate upon.  As she looked at her cousin's white
muslin frock, with its border of handsome Moravian work, and its
delicate blue satin ribbons, at her well arranged hair, and pretty
mosaic brooch, she entered upon a calculation respecting the portion of
a woman's mind which ought to be occupied with her dress--a mental
process, the result of which might perhaps have proved of great benefit
to herself, and ultimately to Dora and Winifred, had it not been
suddenly cut short in the midst by a piercing scream from the latter
young lady, who had been playing on the floor with Edward and Fido.

Mrs. Woodbourne instantly caught up the little girl in her arms, and
sat down on the sofa with her on her lap, while Winifred buried her
hand in her pocket-handkerchief, screaming and sobbing violently. Fido
slunk away under the sofa; and Elizabeth hastily made her way through
the circle of ladies who surrounded Mrs. Woodbourne.

'That is what comes of teazing him,' said Mrs. Hazleby reproachfully to
Edward; who answered in a loud voice, 'I am sure I did not make him do
it.'

Elizabeth knelt down by Mrs. Woodbourne, and began to unroll the
handkerchief in which Winifred had wound up her hand; but she was
prevented by a fresh scream from the patient.

'Oh! my dear, never mind, do not cry; come, be a brave woman,' said
poor Mrs. Woodbourne, her voice quivering with alarm.

'Poor little dear!' exclaimed Mrs. Dale, 'she bears it like a little
angel; but it is quite a severe bite.'

'Mamma,' said Elizabeth, rising, 'I think she had better come up-stairs
with me.  Do not you come, Mamma; I will send for you, if--if it is
more than a scratch.'

She took Winifred in her arms and carried her off, followed by Mrs.
Dale, Miss Maynard, Harriet, Katherine, and Dora, the last-mentioned
looking quite pale with fright.

'If you please,' said Elizabeth, turning round at the foot of the
stairs, 'I can manage her better alone.'

She gained her point, though at the expense of politeness.  Mrs. Dale
and Miss Maynard retreated, and Harriet and Katherine followed in their
train.  Dora looked inquiringly at her eldest sister.

'Yes, Dora, you may come,' said she, running up-stairs to her own room,
where she shut the door, and set Winifred on her feet again. 'Well,
Winifred, let us see,' said she cheerfully, 'are you much hurt?'

'It bleeds,' said Winifred, withholding her hand.

'Not very much,' said Elizabeth, removing the handkerchief, and washing
off the blood, which had been more the cause of the scream than the
pain.  She soon satisfied herself and her sisters that the bite was
scarcely more than a scratch; and a piece of sticking-plaster, fetched
by Dora, whose ready eye and clear thoughtful head had already made her
the best finder in the family, had covered the wound before Mrs.
Woodbourne came up to satisfy herself as to the extent of the injury.
Winifred had by this time been diverted from the contemplation of her
misfortunes by the fitting on of the sticking-plaster, and by
admiration of Anne's bright rose-wood dressing-box, and was full of the
delight of discovering that A. K. M., engraven in silver upon the lid,
stood for Anne Katherine Merton, when her mamma came in.  It appeared
that the little girl and her brother had been playing rather too
roughly with Fido, and that he had revenged himself after the usual
fashion of little dogs, especially of those not come to years of
discretion.  Winifred was quite ready to assure her mamma that he had
scarcely hurt her, and that she was very sorry she had cried so much.
Mrs. Woodbourne and Elizabeth, however, agreed that it would be better
for her to appear no more that evening, and Dora undertook to keep her
company in the nursery--glad, as Elizabeth could see, to escape from
the presence of Aunt Hazleby, who had sunk much in Dora's good graces
since her conversation with her in the afternoon.

'If people would but let children alone,' said Elizabeth, as the two
little girls departed hand in hand; 'it puts me out of all patience to
see her first made silly by being pitied, and then told she is an
angel.  Too bad and too silly, I declare.'

'You should consider a little, my dear, and not speak so hastily,' said
gentle Mrs. Woodbourne; 'they mean it kindly.'

'Mistaken kindness,' said Elizabeth, as she opened the drawing-room
door.

In a moment they were overwhelmed with inquiries for 'the sweet little
sufferer,' as Mrs. Dale called her.

'I only hope there is no fear of the dog's being mad,' observed that
lady.

'Oh! there is no danger of that,' said Elizabeth, knowing how such a
terror would dwell on Mrs. Woodbourne's spirits.  'See, he can drink.'

Mrs. Hazleby had taken possession of the cream-jug, which had
accompanied the coffee, and was consoling the offender by pouring some
of its contents into a saucer for him.

'But I thought it was water that mad dogs refuse,' said Mrs. Dale.

'Mad dog!' cried Mrs. Hazleby, 'he is as mad as I am, I fancy; it was
quite enough to make him bite when Edward there was pulling his ears.'

'I did not pull his ears, Aunt Hazleby; I did not make him bite
Winifred,' vociferated Edward; 'I told you so before, Aunt Hazleby, and
you will say so.'

'Fine little fellow,' whispered Mrs. Dale, quite loud enough for Edward
to hear her; 'I quite admire his spirit.'

'Do not be rude, Edward my dear,' said his mother.

'But Aunt Hazleby will say that I made Fido bite Winifred, Mamma,' said
Edward; 'and I did not, he did it of himself.'

'Never mind now, my love, pray be quiet, my dear boy,' said Mrs.
Woodbourne imploringly; and Edward, who was really a very tractable
boy, walked off to his sister Katherine.

Mrs. Dale then seized upon Mrs. Woodbourne, to tell her some horrible
stories of hydrophobia; and Elizabeth, in hopes of lessening the
impression such stories were likely to make on Mrs. Woodbourne's mind,
listened also, sometimes not very courteously correcting evident
exaggerations, and at others contradicting certain statements.  At
last, just as the subject, fertile as it was, was exhausted, Anne's
going to the piano, and carrying off a train of listeners, brought Mrs.
Bouverie next to Elizabeth, and she took the opportunity of entering
into conversation with her.

'Do you play, Miss Woodbourne?'

'No, I do not,' replied Elizabeth, who particularly disliked this mode
of beginning a conversation.

'Do not you like music?' continued Mrs. Bouverie.

'I seldom have heard any I liked,' said Elizabeth shortly.

'Indeed you have been unfortunate,' said Mrs. Bouverie; 'but perhaps
you are not fond of the piano?'

'No,' said Elizabeth, with rather less of the manner of a suspected
criminal examined in sight of the rack; 'I am sick of all the
Abbeychurch pianos; I know them all perfectly, and hear nothing else.'

Mrs. Bouverie laughed, and was glad to obtain something like an answer.
'Your cousin plays very well,' said she.

'Yes,' said Elizabeth, 'I like her music better than most people's, and
she does not make a great fuss about it, she plays when she thinks
people like it, and not when they ask only out of politeness, without
caring about it.'

'Do you think many people ask in that manner?' said Mrs. Bouverie.

'Oh yes, everyone,' said Elizabeth; 'what can they do when they see a
disconsolate damsel sitting in a corner with nothing to say, and only
longing to be at the piano by way of doing something?  It would be too
cruel not to ask her.'

'Did you ever do so?' said Mrs. Bouverie, smiling.

'No,' said Elizabeth, 'luckily it is no affair of mine yet; but if ever
it was, there would be a hard struggle between my politeness and
sincerity.'

'Sincerity would be most likely to gain the day,' thought Mrs.
Bouverie.  'Perhaps,' said she, 'you are not a fair judge of other
people's sincerity, since you do not like music yourself.'

'I think,' said Elizabeth, 'that even if I did play, I could see in
people's faces whether they meant what they said; that is, if vanity
and love of applause did not blind me.'

Mrs. Bouverie was silent for a moment, and then said, 'Well, I must
say, I am disappointed to find that you do not play.'

Elizabeth remembered how well her mother had, played, and it was plain
to her that Mrs. Bouverie was noticing her for her mother's sake.  She
looked down and coloured as she replied, 'Both my sisters are musical,
and Helen is said to be likely to sing very well.  I believe the
history of my want of music to be,' added she, with a bright smile,
'that I was too naughty to learn; and now, I am afraid--I am not sorry
for it, as it would have taken up a great deal of time, and two singing
sisters are surely enough for one family.'

'I was in hopes of hearing,' said Mrs. Bouverie, 'that you had trained
your school-children to sing the sixty-fifth Psalm as nicely as they
did to-day.  I am sure their teacher must have come from the Vicarage.'

'No,' said Elizabeth, 'it was the school-master who taught them.
Perhaps, if Helen had not been from home so long, she might have helped
the girls, but when she came home three weeks ago, it was hardly worth
while for her to begin.  That is the only reason I ever wished to
understand music.'

Mrs. Bouverie now began talking to her about the church and its
architecture, and of the children, in exactly the way that Elizabeth
liked, and in half an hour she saw more of Elizabeth's true self than
Miss Maynard had ever seen, though she had known her all her life. Miss
Maynard had seen only her roughness.  Mrs. Bouverie had found her way
below it.   Elizabeth was as sincere and open as the day, although from
seldom meeting with anyone who could comprehend or sympathize with her
ideas, her manners had acquired a degree of roughness and reserve,
difficult to penetrate, and anything but attractive, suiting ill with
her sweet smile and beaming eyes.  She was talking quite happily and
confidentially to Mrs. Bouverie, when she caught Mrs. Woodbourne's eye,
and seeing her look anxious, she remembered Winifred's disaster, and
took the first opportunity of hastening up-stairs to see whether the
little girl's hand was still in as favourable a state as when she left
her.

A few moments after she had quitted the room, Sir Edward Merton
approached Mrs. Bouverie, and took the place beside her, which
Elizabeth had lately occupied.

'I hope Elizabeth has been gracious to you, as I see you have been so
kind as to talk to her,' said he, smiling.

'Oh, I hope we are becoming good friends,' said Mrs. Bouverie; 'I have
seldom seen so young a girl shew as much mind as your niece.'

'I am very glad to hear you say so,' said Sir Edward, 'for she is apt
to be rather more reserved with strangers than could be wished.'

'Perhaps she did not consider me as an entire stranger; I remember
seeing her once when a most engaging little child of four or five years
old,' said Mrs. Bouverie; 'and now I hope our acquaintance will
continue.  Shall we see her at Marlowe Court to-morrow, as I believe we
meet you there?  Of course we shall see Miss Merton?'

'No, I believe not,' said Sir Edward; 'we are rather too large a number
without the girls, who really form quite a troop by themselves.'

'I like to see your daughter and Miss Woodbourne together,' said Mrs.
Bouverie; 'I am sure they must be great allies.'

'Yes,' said Sir Edward, 'there is a tolerably strong cousinly
friendship between them: Anne has a wholesome feeling of inferiority,
which makes her rather proud of her cousin's preference.'

'Do you not think Miss Woodbourne very like her mother?' said Mrs.
Bouverie.  'I knew her immediately by the resemblance.'

'Very--very like her, a little darker certainly,' said Sir Edward, 'but
she reminds me of her constantly--there--that smile is my sister's
exactly.'

Elizabeth had just then re-entered the room, and was assuring her mamma
that Winifred had been as playful as ever all the remainder of the
evening, and was now fast asleep in bed.

'I am only afraid she is too fragile and delicate a creature,' said
Mrs. Bouverie; 'is her health strong?'

'Strong? no, not very,' said Sir Edward, 'she requires care, but there
is nothing much amiss with her; I know most people about here are in
the habit of lamenting over her as in a most dangerous state; but I
believe the fact is, that Mrs. Woodbourne is a nervous anxious person,
and frightens herself more than there is any occasion for.'

'Then I hope she generally looks less delicate than she does to-night,'
said Mrs. Bouverie.

'Oh! she may well look over-worked to-night,' said Sir Edward; 'she has
a spirit in her which would not let her rest on such a day as
this.--Come here, Miss Lizzie,' said he, beckoning to her, 'I want you
to account for those two red spots upon your cheeks.  Do you think they
ought to be there?'

'Yes, if they come in a good cause, Uncle,' said Elizabeth.

'Do you mean, then, to wear them any longer than necessary?' said Sir
Edward; 'pray have you sat still for five minutes together to-day?'

'Yes, while I was at tea,' said Elizabeth.

'And why are not you in bed and asleep at this moment?' asked her uncle.

'That is the very question Mamma has been asking,' said Elizabeth; 'and
I have been promising to depart, as soon as I can make my escape; so
good night, Uncle Edward--good night,' said she, giving her hand to her
uncle and to Mrs. Bouverie with almost equal cordiality.

'Good night, Lizzie, get you gone,' said Sir Edward; 'and if you can
carry off my girl with you, I shall be all the better pleased.'

Elizabeth succeeded in touching Anne's arm; and the two cousins flitted
away together, and soon forgot the various delights and annoyances of
the day in sleep.



CHAPTER VI.


The next morning was gloomy and rainy, as Elizabeth informed Anne at
about seven o'clock; 'and I am not sorry for it,' said she, 'for I want
to have you all to myself at home, so we will turn the incubi over to
Kate and Helen, and be comfortable together.'

'Will they submit to such treatment?' said Anne.

'Oh yes, my dear,' said Elizabeth; 'they want us as little as we want
them; they only want a little civility, and I will not be so sparing of
that useful commodity as I was yesterday evening.  And now, Anne, I am
going to beg your pardon for being so excessively rude to Harriet, as I
was last night.  She did not mind it, but you did, and much more than
if it had been to yourself.'

'I believe I did,' said Anne; 'other people do not know what you mean
when you set up your bristles, and I do.  Besides, I was sorry for
Lucy, who looks as if she had sensitiveness enough for the whole
family.'

'Poor Lucy!' said Elizabeth;


          "A weary lot is thine, fair maid,
             A weary lot is thine."


Yes, Lucy has very deep feeling; you may see it in the painful flushing
of her cheek, and the downcast look of her eye, when her mother and
sister expose themselves.  I really believe that that poor girl has
more to endure than most people.'

'O Lizzie,' said Anne, 'how differently you spoke of her yesterday!'

'Yes,' said Elizabeth, 'but then I was furious with Mrs. Hazleby; and
besides, I believe the truth was, that I was very tired and very cross,
not exactly the way in which I intended to conclude the Consecration
day; and now I am in my senses, I am very sorry I behaved as I did.
But, Anne, though I hereby retract all I said in dispraise of Lucy, and
confess that I was rude to Harriet, do not imagine that I disavow all I
said about society last night, for I assure you that I expressed my
deliberate opinion.'

'Your deliberate opinion, my dear?' said Anne, laughing.

'Yes, my deliberate opinion, my dear,' repeated Elizabeth.  'Pray why
should not I have a deliberate opinion, as well as Hannah More, or
Locke on the Human Understanding, or anyone else?'

'Because,' rejoined Anne, 'I think that if the rest of the world were
of your deliberate opinion, there would soon be a lock on the human
understanding.'

'I am sure I think there is at present,' returned Elizabeth; 'did you
see Aunt Anne last night wasted upon Mrs. Dale, obliged to listen to
the dullest stuff that ever was invented, and poor Mamma frightened out
of her wits?  I should not wonder if she had dreamt of mad dogs all
night.'

'I do not defend Mrs. Dale's powers of intellect,' said Anne, 'but I
should have thought that you at least had little reason to complain.
You were very well off next to Mrs. Bouverie.'

'Oh! Mrs. Bouverie is a rara avis, an exception to the general rule,'
said Elizabeth; 'but you know, she or my uncle, or aunt, or Papa, are
generally forced to put a lock on their understanding.  Why, Anne, what
are you laughing at?'

'Lizzie, I beg your pardon,' said Anne, trying to check herself, 'but I
could not help it.  Your speech put me in mind of the prints from
Albano's four elements.  Do not you remember Juno's visit to AEolus,
where he is opening the door of a little corner cupboard where he keeps
the puff-cheeked winds locked up?  Do you mean to say that Mamma keeps
her mighty powers of mind locked up in the same way, for fear they
should burst out and overwhelm everybody?'

Elizabeth heartily joined in her cousin's merriment.  'I will tell you
what I do mean, Anne, what the great law of society is.  Now, do not
put on that absurd face of mock gravity, or I shall only laugh, instead
of arguing properly.'

'Well, let us hear,' said Anne.

'It is almost more important than the law that you must eat with a
knife and fork,' said Elizabeth.  'There is one level of conversation,
fit for the meanest capacity; and whoever ventures to transgress it, is
instantly called blue, or a horrid bore, &c., &c.'

'Nonsense, Lizzie,' said Anne, laughing; 'I am sure I have heard plenty
of clever people talk, about sensible things too, and never did I hear
them called bores, or blue, or any of your awful et ceteras either.'

'Because people did not dare to do so,' said Elizabeth, 'but they
thought it all the same.'

'What do you mean by people?' said Anne.

'The dull, respectable, common-place gentry, who make up the mass of
mankind,' said Elizabeth.

'Do they?' said Anne.

'Do not they?' said Elizabeth.

'I do not know what the mass of mankind may be at Abbeychurch,' said
Anne, 'but I am sure the people whom we see oftenest at home, are such
as I think it a privilege to know.'  And she began to enumerate these
friends.

'Oh! Anne,' interrupted Elizabeth, 'do not, for pity's sake, make me
discontented; here am I in Abbeychurch, and must make the best of it. I
must be as polite and hypocritical as I can make myself.  I must waste
my time and endure dullness.'

'As to waste of time,' said Anne, 'perhaps it is most usefully employed
in what is so irksome as you find being in company.  Mamma has always
wished me to remember, that acquiring knowledge may after all be but a
selfish gratification, and many things ought to be attended to first.'

'That doctrine would not do for everybody,' said Elizabeth.

'No,' said Anne, 'but it does for us; and you will see it plainer, if
you remember on what authority it is said that all knowledge is
profitable for nothing without charity.'

'Charity, yes,' said Elizabeth; 'but Christian love is a very different
thing from drawing-room civility.'

'Not very different from bearing and forbearing, as Helen said,'
answered Anne.

'Politeness is not great enough,' said Elizabeth, 'to belong to
charity.'

'You are not the person to say so,' said Anne.

'Because I dislike it so much,' said Elizabeth, 'but that is because I
despise it.  It is such folly to sit a whole evening with your hands
before you doing nothing.'

'But do you not think,' said Anne, 'that enduring restraint, and
listening to what is not amusing, for the sake of pleasing others, is
doing something?'

'Passively, not actively,' said Elizabeth; 'but it is not to please
others, it is only that they may think you well bred, or rather that
they may not think about you at all.'

'It is to please our father and mother,' said Anne.

'Yes, and that is the reason it must be done,' said Elizabeth; 'it is
the way of the world, and cannot be helped.'

'Rather say it is the trial which has been ordained for us,' said Anne.

'Well,' said Elizabeth, smiling, 'I know all the time that you have the
best of the argument.  It would not be so if it was not good for us.'

'And as it is,' said Anne, 'I believe that there is more enjoyment in
the present order of things, than there would be in any arrangement we
could devise.'

'Oh! doubtless,' said Elizabeth, 'just as the corn ripens better with
all the disasters that seem to befall it, than it would if we had the
command of the clouds.'

'Of course,' said Anne, 'you really are a much more reasonable creature
than you pretend to be, Lizzie.'

'Am I?' said Elizabeth.  'Well, I will just tell you my great horror,
and I suppose you will laugh at me.  I can endure gossip for old people
who cannot employ themselves, and must talk, and have nothing to talk
of but their neighbours; but only think of those wretched _fainéants_
who go chattering on, wasting their own time and other people's, doing
no good on the face of the earth, and a great deal of harm.'

'But these unfortunates are probably quite as unable to talk on any
very wise subjects, as your beloved old people, to whom you give a
license to gossip,' said Anne; 'and you do not wish to condemn them to
perpetual silence.  They are most likely to be estimable people, who
ought to be amused.'

'Estimable--yes, perhaps,' said Elizabeth, 'but then I cannot esteem a
silly gossip.'

'Why, Lizzie,' cried Anne, 'you are still at the old story that it is
better to be wicked than stupid; at least, you reason upon that
foundation, though you do not really think so.'

'I believe,' said Elizabeth, 'that there must be some great crook in my
mind; for though I know and believe as firmly as I do any other
important thing, that mere intellect is utterly worthless, I cannot
feel it; it bewitches me as beauty does some people, and I suppose
always will, till I grow old and stupid, or get my mind into better
order.'

'Really,' said Anne, 'I think the strongest proof of your beginning to
grow old and stupid, is your doing such a very common-place thing, as
to abuse honest gossip.'

There was service at St. Mary's Church on Wednesday and Friday
mornings; but on this day the rain was so violent, that of all the
party at the Vicarage, the Mertons, and Elizabeth, Katherine, and
Helen, alone ventured to go to church.

When they returned, Anne followed her mother to her room, to talk over
the events of the previous day.  After much had been said of the
Consecration, and also of their wonder and regret at Rupert's absence,
Anne said, 'How strange it seems to lose sight of you and Papa as I
have done ever since I have been here!  Mamma, I have scarcely been
with you at all, and never see Papa but when he is talking to Uncle
Woodbourne, and everyone else is in the room.'

'But I hope you are enjoying yourself, my dear?' said Lady Merton.

'Oh yes, Mamma,' cried Anne; 'Lizzie is more delightful than ever, when
we are alone.'

'Are you taking a sudden romantic turn?' said Lady Merton, smiling; 'do
you mean in future to keep one friend all to yourself?'

'Oh no, Mamma,' said Anne, laughing; 'I only meant that Lizzie is more
like herself when we are alone together.  Sometimes when the others are
there, she gets vexed, and says things which I do not like to hear,
only for the sake of differing from them.'

'I have seen something of the kind about her before,' said Lady Merton,
'but not enough to be unpleasant.'

'No, Mamma, because you do not talk as Miss Hazleby did yesterday,'
said Anne, smiling.  'She certainly did make a very ridiculous oration
about officers and flirtations; but Lizzie, instead of putting a stop
to it quietly and gently, only went into the other extreme, and talked
about disliking all society.'

'I am very sorry to hear this,' said Lady Merton; 'I am afraid she will
make herself absurd and disagreeable by this spirit of contradiction,
even if nothing worse comes of it.'

'It was not all out of a spirit of contradiction,' said Anne, 'though
she said this morning, that she was very tired and very cross yesterday
evening.  But, Mamma, she also said that she thinks the time she spends
in company wasted, and she really believes that no one dares to talk
sense, or that if he does, everyone dislikes him.'

'That is only a little unconscious affectation of being wiser than
other people, assisted by living in a place where there are the usual
complement of dull people, and where her father's situation prevents
him from associating only with those whom he would prefer,' said Lady
Merton; 'her good sense will get the better of it.  I am much more
anxious about this spirit of contradiction.'

'Yes, it certainly led her to be very unjust, as she acknowledged this
morning,' said Anne, 'and rather unkind to Helen.  But then it was no
wonder that she was mad with the Hazlebys.'

Anne then told the history of poor Dora's trouble, and was quite
satisfied with her mother's displeasure at Mrs. Hazleby, and her
admiration of little Dora.

'And what do you think of Helen?' asked she presently.

'I can hardly tell,' said Anne, 'she is still very demure, with very
little of Lizzie's sparkling merriment; indeed, she does not seem in
the least able to enter into a joke.  But then she said some very
sensible things.  Lizzie said she wondered what we should think of her.
She thinks her very much improved, but complains that she has lost her
home feelings, and cares only for Dykelands; I scarcely know what she
means.'

'I think that I can guess,' said Lady Merton, 'from knowing a little
more of Mrs. Staunton's character.  She is a very amiable person, and
has in reality, I believe, plenty of good sense; but she has allowed
herself to fall into an exaggerated style of feeling and expression,
which, I dare say, bewitched a girl like Helen, and now makes her find
home cold and desolate.'

'Like the letter which Mrs. Staunton wrote to you about Rupert, and
which Papa called ecstatic,' said Anne.

'That is an instance of Mrs. Staunton's way of expressing herself,'
said Lady Merton; 'now I will give you one of her acuteness of feeling,
as she calls it.  Your Aunt Katherine was her greatest friend when she
was a girl, though I believe the kind epithets she lavished upon me
would have been enough to stock two or three moderate friendships.  We
all used to walk together, and spend at least one evening in the week
together.  One evening, your aunt, who had a good deal of the same high
careless spirit which you observe in Lizzie, chanced to make some
observation upon the rudeness of sailors in general, forgetting that
Helen Atherley's brother was a sailor.'

'Or if she had remembered it,' said Anne, 'judging by Lizzie, she would
have said the same thing; she would have taken it for granted that the
present company was always excepted.'

'Captain Atherley was not of the present company,' said Lady Merton,
'he was in the Mediterranean; and it happened that he had not had time
to call at Merton Hall in due form, the last time he had been at home,
so that poor Helen thought that this speech was aimed at him. She said
nothing at the time; but next morning arrived a note to me, to entreat
me to find out what her darling Henry could possibly have done to
offend dearest Katherine Merton, for she should be wretched till she
understood it, and Katherine had forgiven her and him.  She assured me
that she had lain awake all night, thinking it over, and had at last
come to the conclusion that it must be this unfortunate omission, and
she promised to write to dear Henry immediately, to make him send all
possible apologies.'

'Poor Captain Atherley!' exclaimed Anne; 'and what could my aunt say?'

'Unfortunately,' said Lady Merton, 'both she and I had entirely
forgotten the speech, and could not guess what could have given rise to
Helen's imaginations.  After a consultation, I was deputed to Helen
with many assurances that Katherine was very sorry, she could not
exactly tell why, but for whatever had grieved Helen; and after a good
deal of kissing and lamenting on both sides, which, I believe,
Katherine considered as a punishment for her inconsiderate speech,
things were set right again.'

'Inconsiderate, Mamma?' said Anne; 'that seems as if you blamed my
aunt, when it seems to me that Mrs. Staunton deserved all the blame for
her excessive folly, and what I should think want of confidence in her
friend's affection.'

'It was certainly very silly,' said Lady Merton; 'but you know, Anne,
that when people have once accustomed themselves to get into a habit of
making mountains of mole-hills, they cannot see anything as it really
is.  I thought Katherine quite in the right, as you do now, but I
believe she considered that, knowing as she did the over-sensitiveness
of her friend, she should have been more cautious in what she said.'

'That was the right way for her to take it,' said Anne; 'but I still
think Mrs. Staunton must be an excessively silly person.  Of course one
would wish to keep from hurting people's feelings, but it really is
hardly possible to help it, if they will ride out to meet offence in
such a way.'

'Yet, Anne,' said her mother, 'you may comfort yourself with knowing
that as long as you do what is commanded, set a watch before your lips,
you are not likely to wound the feelings of others, however sensitive.'

'I know, Mamma,' said Anne, 'that would correct every fault of that
kind; but then I hardly know how to do so thoroughly.  And I think
sensitiveness is a good thing--at least, it makes people know better
what will hurt others.'

'Be sensitive for others, without being ready to take offence for
yourself, then, Anne,' said Lady Merton.  'And now that you have fitted
the moral to my story, I must go down and help Mrs. Woodbourne to
entertain Mrs. Hazleby.'

'I pity you,' said Anne.  'If everyone, or indeed if half the world
were like her, I should be more violent in my opinions than Lizzie is.'

'And what are you going to do?' asked Lady Merton.

'I am going to sit in the school-room,' said Anne; 'I had a special
invitation from Dora this morning.'

On going down-stairs, Anne found that Katherine and Harriet had gone to
spend the morning with the Mrs. Turner mentioned during the walk to St.
Austin's, as her daughter, Miss Wilhelmina, had engaged to teach
Harriet to make wax flowers.  Lucy was up-stairs, writing to Major
Hazleby; and Helen was sitting in the school-room, where Elizabeth was
teaching the children.  Little Winifred had just finished her lessons,
and was skipping off in high glee with her medal round her neck, to
tell her mamma that she had gained four good marks.  Dora was perched
on a high stool, at Elizabeth's desk, with a broadly ruled paper before
her, on the top of which the words, 'My dear Horace, St. Austin's
Church was consecrated yesterday,' were to be seen in fair round hand.
No more was visible, for the little girl laughingly laid down her rosy
cheek, and all her light wavy curls, flat upon the letter, as  Anne
advanced and made a stealthy attempt to profit by the intelligence she
was sending to her brother.  Edward was standing by Elizabeth, reading
Mrs. Trimmer's Fabulous Histories, for, though five years old, he made
very slow progress in English literature, being more backward in
learning to read than any of the others had been, excepting Helen.  He
did not like the trouble of spelling, and was in the habit of guessing
at every word he did not know; and on his very composedly calling old
Joe the gardener, 'the old gander,' Anne burst into an irrepressible
giggle, and Helen, sedate as she was, could not help following her
example.  They had just composed themselves, when Edward made another
blunder, which set them off again, and Elizabeth, who when alone with
the children, could bear anything with becoming gravity, also gave way.

Edward, finding that he was diverting them, began to make absurd
mistakes on purpose, so that Elizabeth was forced to call him to order.
Anne thought it best to leave the room, and Helen followed her, saying,
'We had better leave Lizzie to manage him by herself; she always does
better without me.'

'You have never shewn me your drawings, Helen,' said Anne; 'I should
like very much to see them, if you will let me.'

'If you please,' said Helen.  'Will you come up to my room?  I keep all
my own things there, out of the way of the critics.'

'What critics?' inquired Anne.

'Lizzie, to be sure, and Papa,' said Helen; 'I think them the severest
people I know.'

'Do you indeed!' said Anne.

'Do not you?' said Helen; 'does not Lizzie say the sharpest things
possible?  I am sure she does to me, and she never likes anything I do.
If there is any little fault in it, she and Papa always look at that,
rather than anything else.'

'Well,' said Anne, 'it is a comfort that if they like anything you do,
you are sure it is really very good.  Their praise is worth more than
that of other people.'

Helen sighed, but made no reply, as by this time they had arrived at
the door of the room which she shared with Katherine.  It was a
complete contrast to Elizabeth's; it was larger and lighter, and looked
out upon the bright garden, the alms-houses, and the church tower.  The
upper part of the window was occupied by Katherine's large cage of
canary birds, and below was a stand of flower-pots, a cactus which
never dreamt of blossoming, an ice-plant, and a columnia belonging to
Katherine, a nourishing daphne of Helen's, and a verbena, and a few
geranium cuttings which she had brought from Dykelands, looking very
miserable under cracked tumblers and stemless wine-glasses.  On a small
round table were, very prettily arranged, various little knicknacks and
curiosities, which Elizabeth always laughed at, such as a glass ship,
which was surrounded with miniature watering-pots, humming-tops, knives
and forks, a Tonbridge-ware box, a gold-studded horn bonbonniere, a
Breakwater-marble ruler, several varieties of pincushions, a pen-wiper
with a doll in the middle of it, a little dish of money-cowries, and
another of Indian shot, the seed of the mahogany tree, some sea-eggs, a
false book made of the wreck of the Royal George, and some pieces of
spar and petrifactions which Helen had acquired on an expedition to
Matlock with the Stauntons.  The book-shelf, however, was to Anne the
most attractive object in the room; and whilst Helen was untying the
strings of her portfolio, she went up to it.

'What a beautiful little Bishop Wilson!' exclaimed she, taking out one
of the books.

'Yes,' said Helen with a sigh, 'that was dear Mrs. Staunton's last
present to me before I left Dykelands.  She said that perhaps she
should not see me again before I was confirmed, and it was the fittest
Godmother's gift she could find.'

'And is this pretty Lady of the Lake yours too?' said Anne; 'what a
pretty binding, with the Douglas arms on it!'

'Yes,' said Helen, 'that was Fanny's present; and Jane gave me the
pretty forget-me-not brooch I wore yesterday.  You see I have plenty of
keep-sakes from the dear people.'

Anne then turned to the portfolio on the table.  Helen shewed her, in
the first place, a rather stiff and formal looking forget-me-not,
painted by Fanny Staunton, and a carelessly sketched but neatly shaded
head drawn by Jane, both which specimens of art Anne tried hard to
admire for Helen's sake, but could not find it in her heart to do so.
Helen's own drawings, which were landscapes, gave more promise of
improvement, and displayed a good deal of taste and freedom of hand,
though some were by no means correct in the outline. Helen pointed out
several faults which she candidly acknowledged to be wrong, and some
others which she said 'Lizzie called blunders.'

'There,' said she, 'is the house at dear Dykelands; there is my window
with the Banksia roses clustering round it, so that I could gather them
as I stood in my room.  That room is still to be called Helen's.  But
now, Anne, do you think that line ought to be straight? Lizzie says it
should, but I think the perspective alters it; I am sure I saw it so.'

'Indeed, Helen,' said Anne, 'I think the shadow must have deceived
you.'  And with a little trouble she proved that Elizabeth was right.

'Ah!' said Helen, 'if Lizzie would but have shewn me patiently, instead
of saying, 'Why, Helen, cannot you draw a straight line?' I should have
understood her.'  Then she continued, while taking out India-rubber and
pencil to rectify the mistake, 'I used to draw a great deal at dear
Dykelands; we had a sketching master, and used to go out with him twice
a week, but it was very delightful when we three went alone, when one
of us used to read while the others drew. I am sure these sketches will
for ever remind me of those happy days.'

'Why, Helen,' said Anne, smiling, 'you speak as if you never meant to
be happy again.'

'Do I?' said poor Helen; 'I am afraid I do seem rather silly about dear
Dykelands.  The other day I was singing

     "My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
      My heart's in the Highlands, gone chasing the deer,"

when in came Lizzie, and said, "No, Helen,

      Your heart is at Dykelands, your heart's in the bogs,
      Your heart is at Dykelands, gone chasing the frogs,"

for she is always laughing at it for being so damp, dear place.  And it
was before Horace went to school, and he would do nothing but sing it
at me all day, and make Winifred do so too.'

Anne could not help laughing.

'Then you too think me absurd,' said Helen; 'but if you only knew how
happy I was at Dykelands, and how desolate I sometimes feel here, you
would not wonder at me.'

'Then you do not like Abbeychurch?' said Anne incredulously; she could
not say 'you are not happy at home.'

'Who could prefer a little dismal town to a pleasant house in the
country?' said Helen; 'you like Merton Hall better than this place, do
not you, Anne?'

'Of course,' replied Anne; 'but then Merton Hall is my home.'

'And Abbeychurch is mine,' sighed poor Helen.  'I believe it is very
wrong to be discontented with home, but I cannot help it.'

'My dear Helen, what do you mean?' exclaimed Anne, quite aghast.

'Indeed, Anne,' said Helen, 'I do not wonder that you are shocked, but
you do not know how I feel here.  At Dykelands I felt that people liked
me and were pleased with me, but at home nobody wants me, nobody cares
for me, I am in the way wherever I go.'

'My dear Helen,' cried Anne, 'that must be fancy!'

'I wish it was,' said poor Helen, shaking her head.

'But only think,' proceeded Anne, 'what you are accusing them of. Not
loving you, and wishing you away.'

'No, I do not say it is as bad as that,' said Helen; 'but I am sure I
am of no use here, and might as well be away.'

'I suppose,' said Anne, 'that you have been so long away as to have
lost all your old home occupations, and you have not yet had time to
make new ones.'

'Perhaps it is so,' said Helen; 'but I do not think I had any
occupations before I went to Dykelands, at least none worth having, and
now I cannot make myself new ones.  Lizzie does everything, and will
not let me help her, for fear I should do mischief.'

'Now, Helen,' said Anne, who had by this time collected her ideas,
which had been completely startled by her cousin's avowal of dislike of
home, 'I will tell you what I think Mamma would say to you.  I think
you used to be indolent and waste your senses, but now Dykelands has
given you a spur, and you are very much improved.'

'Do you really think so?' interrupted Helen, who had lately felt quite
starved for want of praise.

'Yes,' said Anne, 'and so does everyone, and so Lizzie told me.'

'Lizzie?' said Helen; 'I thought she considered me as great a baby as
ever.'

'No, no, my dear,' said Anne; 'I will tell you what she said of you.
She said you were almost all she could wish in a sister, and that you
were quite a reflective creature; and that is high praise from her.'

'Well, if she thinks so,' said Helen, 'she does not shew it; she is
always making game of my opinions and feelings.'

'So she does of almost everyone's,' said Anne; 'but that is no proof
that she does not love them.'

'And she will never listen to anything that I say, or take interest in
anything I care for,' continued Helen.

'Indeed, Helen, you only think so because you do not understand her
ways,' said Anne; 'all last month she could think of nothing but the
Consecration, and Horace's going to school.  Now all that is over and
you are quiet again, after we are gone you will get on capitally
together.'

'I am sure she contradicts every word I say,' said Helen.

'That is not out of unkindness, I assure you,' said Anne, who
unfortunately could not deny that such was the fact.  'She only likes
an argument, which sharpens your wits, and does no harm, if both sides
are but good-humoured and cheerful.  She will find you out in time, and
you will understand her better.'

'Oh! Lizzie is delightful when she does not contradict,' said Helen;
'she is cleverer than anyone I ever saw, even than Fanny Staunton, and
Papa says her patience and diligence with Horace were beyond all
praise; but I can never be clever enough for her to make me her friend.'

'But you do not think people choose their friends only for their
cleverness?' said Anne.

'Why, no,' said Helen, 'I do not think they ought, but Lizzie does. You
would not be her friend if you were not clever.'

'Well,' said Anne, 'but try and convince her that you can be her friend
without being clever, if you will not allow that you are.'

'Oh!' said Helen, brightening up, 'if Lizzie would but make a friend of
me, how happy we should be! if she would but talk to me of her own
concerns, and listen to mine!  But she never chooses to hear me speak
of Dykelands.'

'Then,' said Anne, 'you must remember that she has never been there,
and does not know the people.'

'Yes,' said Helen; 'but I think that if she had been there, and I at
home, I should have listened for her sake, besides that Mrs. Staunton
was our own mamma's dearest friend.'

Anne had always thought that her own mother had been Aunt Katherine's
dearest friend; but she had forbearance enough to leave the honour to
Mrs. Staunton in Helen's imagination, and answered, 'And for that very
reason, and for your sake too, Helen, she will delight to hear about
Mrs. Staunton when you are quiet together, if you do not give her too
much at a time, or talk of Dykelands when she is thinking of something
else.  Oh yes, Helen, you and Lizzie will be excellent friends, unless
you are much more silly than I think either of you.'

Anne smiled so cheerfully, that Helen could not help smiling too; but
she would probably have found another sorrow to lament over, if at this
moment Dora had not come up to summon them to their early dinner.

Helen felt exceedingly grateful to Anne for having listened so kindly
and patiently to her list of grievances.  It was the first sympathy, as
she considered, that she had met with since she had left Dykelands, and
it atoned in her mind for various little thoughtless ways of Anne's,
which had wounded her in former years, and which she had not perhaps
striven sufficiently to banish from her memory; and this was a great
advantage from this conversation, even if she derived no further
benefit from it.

On her side, Anne had some thoughts of telling Elizabeth what Helen's
feelings really were, in hopes that she might shew a little regard for
them; but, sisterless herself, she thought the bond of sisterhood too
sacred to be rashly interfered with by a stranger's hand; besides, she
considered Helen's complaints as really confidential, if not expressly
so, and resolved to mention them to no one but Lady Merton, and to
limit her attempts at being useful to bringing the two sisters before
each other in their most amiable light, and at any rate to avoid saying
anything that could possibly occasion a discussion between them, though
she could hardly imagine that it was possible to dislike one of the
merry arguments that she delighted in. However, remembering her
mother's story of Mrs. Staunton, she decided that though it was a great
misfortune for people to have such strange fancies, yet their friends
ought to respect them.



CHAPTER VII.


As soon as dinner was over, Elizabeth went up to her own room, and was
followed in a few moments by Anne, who found her putting on her bonnet
and cloak.  'Can you be going out in such weather as this?' exclaimed
she.

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'I must

          "Let content with my fortunes fit,
           Though the rain it raineth every day."'


'But what are the fortunes which oblige you to go out?' said Anne.

'The fortunes of an old woman to whom Kate or I read every Friday,'
said Elizabeth, 'and the fortunes of various young school-children, who
must be prepared for Papa or Mr. Walker to catechize in Church on
Sunday.'

'Why do not you send Kate or Helen, instead of murdering yourself in
the wet?' said Anne.

'Miss Kitty is three inches deep in the mysteries of a spencer, (I do
not mean Edmund,)' said Elizabeth, 'and it will not be out of her head
these three days, at least not till she has made Mamma's old black
satin gown into one after Harriet's pattern; I heard her asking for it
as I came up-stairs.'

'And would not Helen go?' said Anne; 'she does not catch cold as easily
as you do.'

'Helen has contrived, somehow or other,' said Elizabeth, 'to know no
more about the school-children than if they were so many Esquimaux;
besides, anyone with any experience of Helen's ways, had rather walk
ninety miles in the rain, than be at the pains of routing her out of
the corner of the sofa to do anything useful.'

'Indeed,' said Anne, 'I think Helen does wish to make herself useful.'

'I dare say she sits still and wishes it in the abstract, for I think
it must be a very disagreeable thing to reflect that she might as well
be that plaster statue for any good that she does,' said Elizabeth;
'but she grumbles at every individual thing you propose for her to do,
just as she says she wishes to be a companion to Dora and Winifred, yet
whenever they wish her to play with them or tell them a story, which is
all the companionship children of their age understand, she is always
too much at her ease to be disturbed.  And now, as she is the only
person in the house with whom poor Lucy is tolerably at her ease, it
would be cruel to take her away.'

'That is more of a reason,' said Anne; 'what a pity it is that Lucy is
so shy!'

'Excessive shyness and reserve is what prevents her mother from being
able to spoil her,' said Elizabeth; 'so do not regret it.'

'Still I do not like to see you going out in this way,' said Anne.

'I may truly say that rain never hurts me,' said Elizabeth; 'and if I
once let one trifle stop me in these parish matters, I shall be stopped
for ever, and never do anything.  Perhaps I shall not come back this
hour and a half, for old Mrs. Clayton must be dying to hear all about
our Consecration, luncheon, dinner, &c., and as she is the widow of the
last Vicar, we are in duty bound to be civil to her, and I must go and
call upon her.  Oh! you poor thing, I forgot how deserted you will be,
and really the drawing-room is almost uninhabitable with that Bengal
tiger in it.  Here is that delightful Norman Conquest for you to read;
pray look at the part about Hereward the Saxon.'

Elizabeth would not trust herself to stay with Anne any longer, and ran
down-stairs, and might soon be heard putting up her umbrella and
shutting the front door after her.

Anne found the afternoon pass rather heavily, in spite of the
companionship of William the Conqueror and Hereward the Saxon, of
assisting the children in a wet day game of romps, and of shewing Dora
and Winifred the contents of the box they had admired the day before.
Helen and Lucy were sitting at work very comfortably in the corner of
the sofa in the inner drawing-room; Harriet and Katherine very busy
contriving the spencer in the front drawing-room, keeping up a
whispering accompaniment to the conversation of the elder ladies--if
conversation it could be called, when Mrs. Hazleby had it all to
herself, while giving Lady Merton and Mrs. Woodbourne an account of the
discomforts she had experienced in country quarters in Ireland.

Sir Edward and Mr. Woodbourne were engaged in looking over the accounts
of the church in the study, and Fido was trying to settle his disputes
with Meg Merrilies, who, with arching back, tail erect, and eyes like
flaming green glass, waged a continual war with him over her basket in
the hall.

Anne was very glad to hear her cousin's footstep in the hall as she
returned.  Coming straight to the drawing-room, Elizabeth exclaimed,
'Mamma, did you tell Mrs. Clarke that she might have a frock for Susan?'

'Yes, my dear,' said Mrs. Woodbourne; 'she asked me yesterday when you
were not near, and I told her you would give her one.  I thought the
child looked very ragged.'

'I suppose she must have it,' said Elizabeth, looking much vexed; 'I
told her she should not, a month ago, unless she sent the children to
school regularly, and they have scarcely been there five days in the
last fortnight.'

'I wish I had known it, my dear,' said Mrs. Woodbourne; 'you know I am
always very sorry to interfere with any of your plans.'

'O Mamma, there is no great harm done,' said Elizabeth.  She then went
to fetch the frock, and gave it to the woman with a more gentle and
sensible rebuke than could have been expected from the vehemence of her
manner towards Mrs. Woodbourne a minute before.  When this was done,
and she had taken off her bonnet, she came to beckon Anne up-stairs.

'So you have finished your labours,' said Anne, taking up her work,
while Elizabeth sat down to rule a copy-book for Winifred.

'Yes,' said Elizabeth, '"we are free to sport and play;" I have read to
the old woman, and crammed the children, and given old Mrs. Clayton a
catalogue raisonnee of all the company and all their dresses, and a
bill of fare of our luncheon and dinner, and where everything came
from.'

'And yet you profess to hold gossip in abomination,' said Anne.

'Oh! but this is old gossip, regular legitimate amusement for the poor
old lady,' said Elizabeth.  'She really is a lady, but very badly off,
and most of the Abbeychurch gentility are too fine to visit her, so
that a little quiet chat with her is by no means of the common-place
kind.  Besides, she knows and loves us all like her own children.  It
was one of the first pleasures I can remember, to gather roses for her,
and carry them to her from her own old garden here.'

'Well, in consideration of all that you say,' said Anne, 'I suppose I
must forgive her for keeping you away all this afternoon.'

'And what did you do all that time?' said Elizabeth.  'Have you read
Hereward, and do not you delight in him?'

'Yes,' said Anne, 'and I want to know whether he is not the father of
Cedric of Rotherwood.'

'He must have been his grandfather,' said Elizabeth; 'Cedric lived a
hundred years after.'

'But Cedric remembered Torquilstone before the Normans came,' said Anne.

'No, no, he could not, though he had been told what it had been before
Front-de-Boeuf altered it,' said Elizabeth.

'And old Ulrica was there when Front-de-Boeuf's father took it,' said
Anne.

'I cannot tell how long a hag may live,' said Elizabeth, 'but she could
not have been less than a hundred and thirty years old in the time of
Richard Coeur-de-Lion.'

'Coeur-de-Lion came to the throne in 1189,' said Anne.  'No, I suppose
Torquil Wolfganger could not have been dispossessed immediately after
the Conquest.  But then you know Ulrica calls Cedric the son of the
great Hereward.'

'Her wits were a little out of order,' said Elizabeth; 'either she
meant his grandson, or Sir Walter Scott made as great an anachronism as
when he made that same Ulrica compare Rebecca's skin to paper.  If she
had said parchment, it would not have been such a compliment.'

'How much interest Ivanhoe makes us take in the Saxons and Normans!'
said Anne.

'And what nonsense it is to say that works of fiction give a distaste
for history,' said Elizabeth.

'You are an instance to the contrary,' said Anne; 'no one loves stories
so well, and no one loves history better.'

'I believe such stories as Ivanhoe were what taught me to like
history,' said Elizabeth.

'In order to find out the anachronisms in them?' said Anne; 'I think it
is very ungrateful of you.'

'No indeed,' said Elizabeth; 'why, they used to be the only history I
knew, and almost the only geography.  Do not you remember Aunt Anne's
laughing at me for arguing that Bohemia was on the Baltic, because
Perdita was left on its coast?  And now, I believe that Coeur de Lion
feasted with Robin Hood and his merry men, although history tells me
that he disliked and despised the English, and the only sentence of
their language history records of his uttering was, "He speaks like a
fool Briton."  I believe that Queen Margaret of Anjou haunted the
scenes of grandeur that once were hers, and that she lived to see the
fall of Charles of Burgundy, and die when her last hope failed her,
though I know that it was not so.'

'Then I do not quite see how such stories have taught you to like
history,' said Anne.

'They teach us to realize and understand the people whom we find in
history,' said Elizabeth.

'Oh yes,' said Anne; 'who would care for Louis the eleventh if it was
not for Quentin Durward? and Shakespeare makes us feel as if we had
been at the battle of Shrewsbury.'

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'and they have done even more for history. They
have taught us to imagine other heroes whom they have not mentioned.
Cannot you see the Black Prince, his slight graceful figure, his fair
delicate face full of gentleness and kindness--fierce warrior as he
is--his black steel helmet, and tippet of chain-mail, his clustering
white plume, his surcoat with England's leopards and France's lilies?
Cannot you make a story of his long constant attachment to his
beautiful cousin, the Fair Maid of Kent?  Cannot you imagine his
courteous conference with Bertrand du Guesclin, the brave ugly
Breton?--Edward lying almost helpless on his couch, broken down with
suffering and disappointment, and the noble affectionate Captal de
Buch, who died of grief for him, thinking whether he will ever be able
to wear his black armour again, and carry terror and dismay to the
stoutest hearts of France.'

'Give Froissart some of the credit of your picture,' said Anne.

'Froissart is in some places like Sir Walter himself,' said Elizabeth;
'but now I will tell you of a person who lived in no days of romance,
and has not had the advantage of a poetical historian to light him up
in our imagination.  I mean the great Prince of Conde. Now, though he
is very unlike Shakespeare's Coriolanus, yet there is resemblance
enough between them to make the comparison very amusing. There was much
of Coriolanus' indomitable pride and horror of mob popularity when he
offended Beaufort and his kingdom in the halles, when, though as 'Louis
de Bourbon' he refused to do anything to shake the power of the throne,
he would not submit to be patronized by the mean fawning Mazarin.  Not
that the hard-hearted Conde would have listened to his wife and mother,
even if he had loved them as Coriolanus did, or that his arrogance did
not degenerate into wonderful meanness at last, such as Coriolanus
would have scorned; but the parallel was very amusing, and gave me a
great interest in Conde.  And did you ever observe what a great
likeness there is in the characters of the two apostates, Julian and
Frederick the Great?'

'Then you like history for the sake of comparing the characters
mentioned in it?' said Anne.

'I think so,' said Elizabeth; 'and that is the reason I hate
abridgements, the mere bare bones of history.  I cannot bear dry facts,
such as that Charles the Fifth beat Francis the First, at Pavia, in a
war for the duchy of Milan, and nothing more told about them.  I am
always ready to say, as the Grand Seignior did about some such great
battle among the Christians, that I do not care whether the dog bites
the hog, or the hog bites the dog.'

'What a kind interest in your fellow-creatures you display!' said Anne.
'I think one reason why I like history is because I am searching out
all the characters who come up to my notion of perfect chivalry, or
rather of Christian perfection.  I am making a book of true knights.  I
copy their portraits when I can find them, and write the names of those
whose likenesses I cannot get.  I paint their armorial bearings over
them when I can find out what they are, and I have a great red cross in
the first page.'

'And I will tell you of something else to put at the beginning,' said
Elizabeth, 'a branch of laurel entwined with the beautiful white
bind-weed.  One of our laurels was covered with wreaths of it last
year, and I thought it was a beautiful emblem of a pure-hearted hero.
The glaring sun, which withers the fair white spotless flower, is like
worldly prosperity spoiling the pure simple mind; and you know how
often it is despised and torn away from the laurel to which it is so
bright an ornament.'

'Yes,' said Anne, 'it clings more safely and fearlessly round the
simplest and most despised of plants.  And would you call the little
pink bindweed childish innocence?'

'No, I do not think I should,' said Elizabeth, 'it is not sufficiently
stainless.  But then innocence, from not seeing or knowing what is
wrong, is not like the guilelessness which can use the world as not
abusing it.'

'Yet Adam and Eve fell when they gained the knowledge of good and
evil,' said Anne.

'Yes, because they gained their knowledge by doing evil,' said
Elizabeth, 'but you must allow that what is tried and not found wanting
is superior to what has failed only because it has had no trial.  St.
John's Day is placed nearer Christmas than that of the Holy Innocents.'

'And St. John knew what evil was,' said Anne; 'yes you are right there.'

'You speak as if you still had some fault to find with me, Anne,' said
Elizabeth.

'No, indeed I have not,' said Anne, 'I quite agree with you; it was
only your speaking of knowledge of evil us a kind of advantage, that
startled me.'

'Because you think knowledge and discernment my idol,' said Elizabeth;
'but we have wandered far away from my white convolvulus, and I have
not done with it yet.  When autumn came, and the leaves turned bright
yellow, it was a golden crown.'

'But there your comparison ends,' said Anne; 'the laurel ought to
vanish away, and leave the golden wreath behind.'

'No,' said Elizabeth; 'call the golden wreath the crown of glory on the
brow of the old saint-like hero, and remember that when he dies, the
immortality the world prizes is that of the coarse evergreen laurel,
and no one dreams of his white wreath.'

'I wish you would make a poem of your comparison, for the beginning of
my book of chivalry,' said Anne.

'It will not do,' said Elizabeth, 'I am no poet; besides, if I wished
to try, just consider what a name the flower has--con-vol-vu-lus, a
prosaic, dragging, botanical term, a mile long.  Then bindweed only
reminds me of smothered and fettered raspberry bushes, and a great hoe.
Lily, as the country people call it, is not distinguishing enough,
besides that no one ever heard of a climbing lily.  But, Anne, do tell
me whom you have in your book of knights.  I know of a good many in the
real heroic age, but tell me some of the later ones.'

'Lord Exmouth,' said Anne; 'I am sure he was a true knight.'

'And the Vendeen leaders, I suppose,' said Elizabeth.

'Yes, I have written the names of M. de Lescure and of Henri de la
Rochejaquelein; I wish I knew where to find their pictures, and I want
a Prussian patriot.  I think the Baron de la Motte Fouque, who was a
Knight of St. John, and who thought so much of true chivalry, would
come in very well.'

'I do not know anything about himself,' said Elizabeth, 'though,
certainly, no one but a true knight could have written Sintram.  I am
afraid there was no leader good enough for you among the Spanish
patriots in the Peninsular war.'

'I do not know,' said Anne; 'I admire Don Jose Palafox for his defence
of Zaragoza, but I know nothing more of him, and there is no chance of
my getting his portrait.  I am in great want of Cameron of Lochiel, or
Lord Nithsdale, or Derwentwater; for Claverhouse is the only Jacobite
leader I can find a portrait of, and I am afraid the blood of the
Covenanters is a blot on his escutcheon, a stain on his white wreath.'

'I am sorry you have nothing to say to bonnie Dundee,' said Elizabeth,
'for really, between the Whiggery and stupidity of England, and the
wickedness of France, good people are scarce from Charles the Martyr to
George the Third.  How I hate that part of history!  Oh! but there were
Prince Eugene and the Vicomte de Turenne.'

'Prince Eugene behaved very well to Marlborough in his adversity,' said
Anne: 'but I do not like people to take affront and abandon their
native country.'

'Oh! but Savoy was more his country than France,' said Elizabeth,
'however, I do not know enough about him to make it worth while to
fight for him.'

'And as to Turenne,' said Anne, 'I do not like the little I know of
him; he was horribly cruel, was he not?'

'Oh! every soldier was cruel in those days,' said Elizabeth; 'it was
the custom of their time, and they could not help it.'

Anne shook her head.

'Then you will be forced to give up my beloved Black Prince,' continued
Elizabeth piteously; 'you know he massacred the people at Limoges.'

'I cannot do without him,' said Anne; 'he was ill and very much
exasperated at the time, and I choose to believe that the massacre was
commanded by John of Gaunt.'

'And I choose to believe that all the cruelties of the French were by
the express order of Louis Quatorze,' said Elizabeth; 'you cannot be
hard on a man who gave all his money and offered to pawn his plate to
bring Charles the Second back to England.'

'I must search and consider,' said Anne; 'I will hunt him out when I go
home, and if we have a print of him, and if he is tolerably
good-looking, I will see what I can do with him.'

'You have Lodge's portraits,' said Elizabeth, 'so you are well off for
Cavaliers; do you mean to take Prince Rupert in compliment to your
brother?'

'No, he is not good enough, I am afraid,' said Anne, 'though besides
our own Vandyke there is a most tempting print of him, in Lodge, with a
buff coat and worked ruffles; but though I used to think him the
greatest of heroes, I have given him up, and mean to content myself
with Charles himself, the two Lindsays, Ormond and Strafford, Derby and
Capel, and Sir Ralph Hopton.'

'And Montrose, and the Marquis of Winchester,' said Elizabeth; 'you
must not forget the noblest of all.'

'I only forgot to mention them,' said Anne, 'I could not leave them
out.  The only difficulty is whom to choose among the Cavaliers.'

'And who comes next?' said Elizabeth.

'Gustavus Adolphus and Sir Philip Sydney.'

'Do not mention them together, they are no pair,' said Elizabeth. 'What
a pity it was that Sir Philip was a euphuist.'

'Forgive him for that failing, in consideration of his speech at
Zutphen,' said Anne.

'Only that speech is so hackneyed and commonplace,' said Elizabeth, 'I
am tired of it.'

'The deed was not common-place,' said Anne.

'No, and dandyism was as entirely the fault of his time as cruelty was
of Turenne's,' said Elizabeth; 'Sir Walter Raleigh was worse than
Sydney, and Surrey quite as bad, to judge by his picture.'

'It is not quite as bad a fault as cruelty,' said Anne, 'little as you
seem to think of the last.'

'Now comes the chivalric age,' said Elizabeth; 'never mind telling me
all the names, only say who is the first of your heroes--neither
Orlando nor Sir Galahad, I suppose.'

'No, nor Huon de Bordeaux,' said Anne.

'The Cid, then, I suppose,' said Elizabeth, 'unless he is too fierce
for your tender heart.'

'Ruy, mi Cid Campeador?' said Anne, 'I must have him in consideration
of his noble conduct to the King who banished him, and the speech the
ballad gives him:

          "For vassals' vengeance on their lord,
             Though just, is treason still;
           The noblest blood is his, who best
             Bears undeserved ill."


And the loyalty he shewed in making the King clear himself of having
any share in his brother's death, even though Alphonso was silly enough
to be affronted.'

'Like Montrose's feeling towards his lady-love,' said Elizabeth; 'not
bearing the least stain on what he loved or honoured.'

'But he is not our earliest knight,' said Anne; 'I begin with our own
Alfred, with his blue shield and golden cross.'

'King Alfred!' exclaimed Elizabeth, 'do you consider him a knight?'

'Certainly,' said Anne; 'besides that I care more for the spirit of
chivalry than for the etiquette of the accolade and golden spurs; we
know that Alfred knighted his grandson Athelstane, so that he must have
been a knight himself.'

'By-the-bye,' said Elizabeth, 'I think I have found out the origin of
the golden spurs being part of a knight's equipment.  Do you remember
when the Cid's beloved king Don Sancho was killed, that Rodrigo could
not overtake the traitor Bellido Dolfos, because he had no spurs on,
whereupon he cursed every knight who should for the future ride without
them.  Now that was at the time when the laws of chivalry were
attaining their perfection, but--'

'Not so fast,' said Anne; 'I have a much earlier pair of golden spurs
for you.  Do not you remember Edmund, the last King of East Anglia,
being betrayed to the Danish wedding-party at Hoxne, by the glitter of
his golden spurs, and cursing every new married pair who should ever
pass over the bridge where he was found.  I think that makes for my
side of the question.  Here is Edmund, a knight in golden spurs when
Alfred was a child.  Ah ha, Miss Lizzie!'

Before Elizabeth could answer, Winifred came to tell her that her mamma
wanted her, and she was forced to leave the question of King Alfred's
and King Edmund's chivalry undecided; for, to her praise be it spoken,
she was much too useful a person ever to be able to pursue her own
peculiar diversions for many minutes together.  She had to listen to
some directions, and undertake some messages, so that she could not
return to her own room till after Anne had gone down-stairs.  She
herself was not ready till just as the elders were setting off to the
dinner-party at Marlowe Court, and rejoicing in the cessation of the
rain and the fineness of the evening.

About half an hour afterwards, the young ladies assembled in the inner
drawing-room to drink tea.  Helen, however, remained in the outer
drawing-room, practising her music, regardless of the sounds of mirth
that proceeded from the other room, until Elizabeth opened the door,
calling out,

     '"Sweet bird, that shunnest the noise of folly,
       Most musical, most melancholy,"

come in to tea, so please your highness.'

'What can you mean?' said Helen; 'I am sure I am not melancholy.'

'I am sure you shun the noise of folly,' said Elizabeth.

'I am sorry you consider all our merriment as folly,' said Anne, hoping
to save Helen.

'Indeed I do not,' said Elizabeth; 'it was no more folly than a
kitten's play, and quite as much in the natural course of things.'

'Helen's occupation being out of the natural course of things,' said
Anne, 'I should think she was better employed than we were.'

'In making a noise,' said Elizabeth; 'so were we, I do not see much
difference.'

'O Lizzie, it was not the same thing!' said Helen, exceedingly
mortified at being laughed at for what she considered as a heroic piece
of self-denial, and so it was, though perhaps not so great in her as it
would have been in one who was less musical, and more addicted to the
noise of folly.

'How touchy Helen is this evening!' thought Elizabeth; 'I had better
let her alone, both for her sake and my own.'

'How foolish I was to interfere!' thought Anne; 'it was the most
awkward thing I ever did; I only roused the spirit of contradiction,
and did Helen more harm than good; I never will meddle between sisters
again.'

Presently after, Elizabeth asked Harriet Hazleby whether she had ever
been at Winchester.

'Yes,' was the answer, 'and a duller place I would not wish to see.'

'It is a handsome old town, is it not?' inquired Anne, turning to Lucy;
but Harriet caught up the word, and exclaimed, 'Handsome, indeed!  I do
not think there is one tolerable new looking street in the whole place,
except one or two houses just up by the railroad station.'

Anne still looked towards Lucy, as if awaiting her answer; Lucy
replied, 'The Cathedral and College and the old gateways are very
beautiful, but there are not so many old looking houses as you would
expect.'

'It must be badly off indeed,' said Elizabeth, 'if it has neither old
houses nor new; but I wanted to know whether William Rufus' monument is
in a tolerable state of preservation.'

'Oh! the monuments are very grand indeed,' said Harriet; 'everyone
admired them.  There are the heads of some of the old kings most
beautifully painted, put away in a dark corner.  They are very curious
things indeed; I wonder they do not bring them out.'

'Those are the heads of the Stuart kings,' whispered Lucy.

'Why, Harriet,' exclaimed Dora, 'William Rufus was not a Stuart, he was
the second of the Normans.'

'Very likely, very likely, Dora, my dear,' answered Harriet; 'I have
done with all those things now, thank goodness; I only know that seeing
the Cathedral was good fun; I did not like going into the crypts, I
said I would not go, when I saw how dark it was; and Frank Hollis said
I should, and it was such fun!'

Dora opened her eyes very wide, and Elizabeth said, 'There could
certainly never be a better time or place.'

Looking up, she saw poor Lucy's burning cheeks, and was sorry she had
not been silent.  No one spoke for a few moments, but presently Anne
said, 'Alfred the Great is not buried in the Cathedral, is he?'

No one could tell; at last Helen said, 'I remember reading that he was
buried in Hyde Abbey, which is now pulled down.'

'There is a street at Winchester, called Hyde Street,' said Lucy.

'Yes, I know,' said Harriet, 'where the Bridewell is, I remember--'

'By-the-bye, Anne,' said Elizabeth, anxious to cut short Harriet's
reminiscences, 'I never answered what you said about Alfred and
Athelstane.  I do not think that Alfred did more than present him with
his sword, which was always solemnly done, even to squires, before they
were allowed to fight, and might be done by a priest.'

'But when Athelstane is called a knight, and the ceremony of presenting
him with his weapons is mentioned,' said Anne, 'I cannot see why we
should not consider him to have been really knighted.'

'Because,' said Elizabeth, 'I do not think that the old Saxon word,
knight, meant the sworn champion, the devoted warrior of noble birth,
which it now expresses.  You know Canute's old rhyme says, "Row  to the
shore, knights," as if they were boatmen, and not gentlemen.'

'I do not think it could have been beneath the dignity of a knight to
row Canute,' said Anne, 'considering that eight kings rowed Edgar the
Peaceable.'

'Other things prove that Knight meant a servant, in Saxon,' said
Elizabeth.

'I know it does sometimes, as in German now,' said Anne; 'but the
question is, when it acquired a meaning equivalent in dignity to the
French Chevalier.'

'Though it properly means anything but a horseman,' said Elizabeth; 'we
ought to have a word answering to the German Ritter.'

'Yes, our language was spoilt by being mixed with French before it had
come to its perfection,' said Anne; 'but still you have not proved that
King Alfred was not a knight in the highest sense of the word, a preux
chevalier.'

'I never heard of Alfred on horseback, nor did I ever know him called
Sir Alfred of Wessex.'

'Sir is French, and short for seigneur or senior,' said Anne; 'besides,
I suppose, you never heard Coeur-de-Lion called Sir Richard
Plantagenet.'

'I will tell you how you may find out all about it,' interrupted
Katherine; 'Mrs. Turner's nephew, Mr. Augustus Mills, is going to give
a lecture this evening, at seven o'clock, upon chivalry, and all that.
Mrs. Turner has been telling us all day how much she wishes us to go.'

'Mr. Augustus Mills!' said Elizabeth; 'is he the little red-haired
wretch who used to pester me about dancing all last year?'

'No, no,' said Katherine, 'that was Mr. Adolphus Mills, his brother,
who is gone to be clerk to an attorney somewhere.  This is Mr.
Augustus, a very fine young man, and so clever, Willie says, and he has
most beautiful curling black hair.'

'It wants a quarter to seven now,' said Elizabeth, 'and the sky is most
beautifully clear, at last.  Do you like the thoughts of this lecture,
Anne?'

'I should like to go very much indeed,' said Anne; 'but first I must go
and seal and send some letters for Mamma, so I must depart while you
finish your tea.'  So saying, she left the room.

'Pray, Kate,' said Helen, as Anne closed the door, 'where is this
lecture to be given?'

'At the Mechanics' Institute, of course,' said Katherine.

'So we cannot go,' said Helen.

'And pray why not, my sapient sister?' said Elizabeth; 'what objection
has your high mightiness?'

'My dear Lizzie,' said Helen, 'I wish you had heard all that I have
heard, at Dykelands, about Mechanics' Institutes.'

'My dear Helen,' said Elizabeth, 'I wish you would learn that Dykelands
is no Delphos to me.'

'Nay, but my dearest sister,' exclaimed Helen, clasping her hands, 'do
but listen to me; I am sure that harm will come of your going.'

'Well, ope your lips, Sir Oracle,' said Elizabeth impatiently, 'no dog
shall bark, only make haste about it, or we shall be too late.'

'Do you not know, Lizzie,' said Helen, 'that Socialists often hold
forth in Mechanics' Institutes?'

'The abuse of a thing does not cancel its use,' said Elizabeth, 'and I
do not suppose that Mr. Mills preaches Socialism.'

'Captain Atherley says,' persisted Helen, 'that all sorts of people
ought not to mix themselves up together on equal terms.'

'Oh! then he never goes to church,' retorted Elizabeth.

'No, no, that was only my foolish way of expressing myself,' said
Helen; 'I meant that he says that it is wrong for Church people to put
themselves on a level with Dissenters, or Infidels, or Socialists, for
aught they know to the contrary.'

'Since you have been in the north, Helen,' said Elizabeth, 'you have
thought every third man you met a Chartist or a Socialist; but as I do
not believe there are specimens of either kind in Abbeychurch, I see no
harm in taking our chance of the very few Dissenters there are here,
and sitting to hear a lecture in company with our own townspeople.'

'Really, I think we had better not go without asking leave first,' said
Katherine.

'In the first place,' said Elizabeth, 'there is no one to ask; and
next, I know that Mrs. Turner has offered hundreds of times to take us
there, and I suppose Papa would have refused once for all, if he had
been so very much afraid of our turning Chartists as Helen seems to be.
I can see no reason why we should not go.'

'Then you consider my opinion as utterly worthless,' cried Helen,
losing all command of temper, which indeed she had preserved longer
than could have been expected.  'I might have known it; you never care
for one word I say.  You will repent it at last, I know you will.'

'It is not that I never care for what you say, Helen,' said Elizabeth,
'it is only when you give me Dykelands opinions instead of your own,
and talk of what you do not understand.  I suppose no one has any
objection to a walk, at least.  Shall we get ready?'

Everyone consented, and they went to prepare.  It should be said, in
excuse for Elizabeth, that both she and Helen had been absent from home
at the time of the establishment of the Mechanics' Institute at
Abbeychurch, so that they had not known of their father's opposition to
it.  Helen, who, when at Dykelands, had been nearer the manufacturing
districts, had heard more of the follies and mischiefs committed by
some of the favourers of these institutions. Unfortunately, however,
her temper had prevented her from reasoning calmly, and Elizabeth had
wilfully blinded herself, and shut her ears to conviction, being
determined to follow her own course.  Anne, who had always lived at
Merton Hall, excepting two months of each year, which she spent in
London, knew nothing of country town cabals, and thinking the lecture
was of the same nature as those she had heard in London, asked no
questions, as she had not heard the debate between Elizabeth and Helen.
Katherine, however, hesitated to go without the permission of her
father and mother; or, in other words, she was afraid they would
reprove her, and she was not unwilling to listen to Helen's
representations on the subject, while they were putting on their
bonnets.

'It is not only,' said Helen, 'that we are sure that it is not right to
go anywhere without leave from Papa or Mamma, but that I know that
these Mechanics' Institutes are part of a system of--'

'Oh yes, I know,' said Katherine, 'of Chartism, and Socialism, and all
that is horrible.  I cannot imagine how Lizzie can think of going.'

'Then you will not go,' said Helen.

'Oh, I do not know,' said Katherine; 'it will seem so odd and so
particular if Anne and Lizzie and the Hazlebys go, and we do not. It
would be like setting ourselves up against our elders.'

'You do not always think much of that, Kate,' said Helen; 'besides, if
our eldest sister thinks proper to do wrong, I do not see that we are
forced to do so too.'

'Well, but Lizzie said it was not wrong, and she is the eldest,' argued
Katherine.

'Lizzie said it was not wrong, that she might have her own way, and
contradict me,' said Helen.

'We shall see what Anne says,' said Katherine; 'but if they go, I must,
you know.  It was to me that Mrs. Turner gave the invitation, and she
and Willie would think it so odd to see the others without me; and Mr.
Mills too, he said so very politely that he hoped that he should be
honoured with my presence and Harriet's, it would be an additional
stimulus to his exertions, he said.'

'My dear Kate,' exclaimed Helen, 'how could you listen to such affected
nonsense?'

'Why, Lizzie says everybody talks nonsense,' said Katherine, 'but we
must listen and be civil, you know; I am sure I wish people would not
be so silly, it is very disagreeable to hear it; but I cannot help it,
and after this I really think I ought to go, it would be very odd if I
did not.'

'Better do what is odd than what is wrong,' said Helen.

In her secret soul, Katherine had been of the same opinion the whole
time, and now that she thought she had made a sufficient merit of
giving up the expedition, she was about to promise to follow Helen's
advice, when she was interrupted by the entrance of Harriet, with her
shawl and bonnet in her hand, coming to gossip with Katherine, and thus
escape from Lucy, who had been quietly suggesting that in a doubtful
case, such as the present seemed to be, it was always best to keep to
the safe side.  Harriet had laughed at Lucy for not being able to give
any reasons, told her that it was plain that Helen knew nothing about
the matter, and declared that she thanked goodness that if Mr.
Woodbourne was ever so angry, he was not her master, and her own mamma
never minded what she did.  Lucy could make no answer in words, but her
silent protest against her sister's conduct made Harriet so uneasy that
she quitted her as soon as she could.

Helen still hoped that Anne would see the folly of the scheme, and
persuade Elizabeth to give it up, and content herself with taking a
walk, or that her sister's better sense would prevail; but she was
disappointed, when, as they left the house, Anne asked where the
lecture was to be given, Elizabeth replied, 'At the Mechanics'
Institute;' and no further observation was made, Anne's silence
confirming Elizabeth in her idea that Helen had been talking nonsense.
Still, as St. Martin's Street, where Mr. Turner lived, was their way
out of the town, Helen remained in doubt respecting her sister's
intentions until they reached Mr. Turner's house, and Elizabeth walked
up the steps, and knocked at the door.

Helen immediately wheeled round, and walked indignantly homewards, too
full of her own feelings to make any attempt to persuade Katherine to
follow her example, and every step shewing how grieved and affronted
she was.

Lucy laid her hand on her sister's arm, and looked up imploringly in
her face.

'Pooh!' said Harriet pettishly, jerking the ribbon by which she was
leading Fido: 'give me one reason, Lucy, and I will come.'

'What Helen said,' answered Lucy.

'Stuff and nonsense!' said Harriet; 'that was no reason at all.'

'What did Helen say?' asked Anne, who had been rather startled by her
departure.

'Only some Dykelands fancies about Socialists,' said Elizabeth; 'that
is the reason she has gone off like a tragedy queen.  I did not think
all Abbeychurch was ready for the French Revolution--that was all.'

'There, Lucy, you see,' said Harriet; 'come along, there's a good girl.'

Here Mrs. Turner's page opened the door, and answered that his mistress
was at home.

'Dora, my dear,' said Elizabeth, 'this is too late an affair for you;
we shall not be at home till after you are gone to bed.
Good-night--run after Helen.'

Dora obeyed, and Lucy also turned away; Katherine lingered.  'Come,
Kate,' said Harriet, mounting the steps. --'Lucy, you nonsensical girl,
come back; everyone can see you out of the window; it is very rude,
now; if Mrs. Turner sees you, what will she think?  Mamma would be very
angry to see you so silly.  Come back, I tell you!'

Lucy only looked back, and shook her head, and then hastened away; but
Katherine, fearing that her friends would be irrecoverably offended if
she turned away from their house, thinking that she had gone too far to
recede, and trusting to Elizabeth to shield her from blame, followed
the others up-stairs.

Helen turned back, much surprised, as Lucy and Dora overtook her; and
they hastened to give explanations.

'Lizzie said I had better come home,' said Dora.

'And I thought it would be the safest thing to do,' said Lucy.

'I am very glad of it,' said Helen; 'I am sure it is not right to go,
but when Lizzie has once set her mind on anything, she will listen to
no one.'

'Then do you think Papa and Mamma will be displeased?' said Dora; 'I do
not think Lizzie thinks so.'

'I cannot be quite sure,' said Helen; 'but I do not think Lizzie
chooses to believe that they will.'

'But let me understand you, Helen,' said Lucy; 'I only know that you
think that Uncle Woodbourne would not approve of your going.  What are
your reasons for thinking so?  I did not clearly understand you.
Church-people and Dissenters put themselves on a level in almost every
public place.'

'They do not meet in every public place on what they agree to call
neutral ground,' said Helen, 'or profess to lay aside all such
distinctions, and to banish religion in order to avoid raising
disputes.  You know that no subject can be safely treated of, except
with reference to the Christian religion.'

'How do you mean?' said Lucy.

'Why,' said Helen, hesitating a little, 'how many people run wild, and
adopt foolish and wicked views of politics, for want of reading history
religiously!  And the astronomers and geologists, without faith,
question the possibility of the first chapter of Genesis; and some
people fancy that the world was peopled with a great tribe of wild
savages, instead of believing all about Adam and Eve and the
Patriarchs.  Now if you turn religion out, you see, you are sure to
fall into false notions; and that is what these Mechanics' Institute
people do.'

'Yes,' said Lucy, 'I have heard what you say about those things before,
but I never saw them in connection with each other.'

'Nor should I have seen them in this light, if it had not been for a
conversation between Captain Atherly and another gentleman, one day at
Dykelands,' said Helen.  'But, Lucy, did you leave this party, then,
only because I said it was wrong, or because you thought so yourself?'

'Indeed, I can hardly tell,' answered Lucy; 'I scarcely know what to
think right and what wrong, but I thought I might be certain that it
was safer to go home.'

'I do not see,' said Helen, drawing herself up, and feeling as if she
had done a very wise thing, and known her reasons for doing it, too, 'I
do not see that it is so very hard to know what is right from what is
wrong.  It is the easiest way to think what Papa and Mamma would
approve, and then try to recollect what reasons they would give.'

'But then you are not always sure of what they would say,' replied
Lucy; 'at least I am not, and it is not always possible to ask them.
What did you do all the time you were at Dykelands?'

'Oh! dear Mrs. Staunton was quite a mother to me,' said Helen; 'and
besides, it was as easy to think what would please Papa there as it is
here.  You were from home for some time last year, were you not, Lucy?'

'Yes,' replied Lucy, 'I spent several months at Hastings, with
Grandmamma; and I am almost ashamed to say that I felt more comfortable
there than anywhere else.  I liked being by the sea, and having a
garden, and being out of the way of the officers.  Papa and Grandmamma
talked of my always living there, and I hoped I should; but then I
should not have liked to leave Papa and the rest, and not to be at home
in my brothers' holidays, so I believe things are best as they are.'

'How you must wish to have a home!' said Helen.

'Do not you think that home is wherever your father and mother and
brothers and sisters are, Helen?' said Lucy.

'Oh yes, certainly,' said Helen, quickly; 'but I meant a settled home.'

'I do sometimes wish we were settled,' said Lucy; 'but I have been used
to wandering all my life, and do not mind it as much as you would,
perhaps.  We scarcely stay long enough in one place to get attached to
it; and some places are so disagreeable, that it is a pleasure to leave
them.'

'Such as those in Ireland, that Mrs. Hazleby was talking of yesterday?'
said Helen.

'I did not mind those half so much as I do some others,' said Lucy; 'we
could easily get into the country, and I used to walk with Papa every
day, or ride when Harriet did not want the horse.  It was rather
uncomfortable, for we were very much crowded when George and Allan were
at home; but then they had leave to shoot and fish, and enjoyed
themselves very much.'

'Really, Lucy,' said Helen, 'I cannot think how you can be so very
contented.'

'I did not know there was anything to be discontented with,' said Lucy,
smiling; 'I am sure I am very happy.'

'But what did you say just now you disliked?' said Helen.

'Did I say I disliked anything?' said Lucy.  'Oh! I know what it was. I
do not like going to a large town, where we can only walk in the
streets, and go out shopping every day, and the boys have nothing to
amuse them.  And it is worst of all to go to a place where Papa and
Mamma have been before, and know all the people; we go out to tea half
the days we are there, or to dinner, or have company at home, and I
never get a quiet evening's reading with Papa, and Allan has a very
great dislike to company.'

As Lucy finished her speech they came to the Vicarage; and as they
opened the door, Meg Merrilies came purring out to meet Dora.  They
looked round for Fido, in order to keep the peace between the two
enemies, but he was nowhere to be seen, and Dora remembered to have
seen him with Harriet, just as they left the rest of the party at Mr.
Turner's door; so dismissing him from their minds, they went to finish
their walk in the garden, where Helen gave Lucy a full description of
all the beauties of Dykelands, and the perfections of its inhabitants;
and finding her an attentive and obliging listener, talked herself into
a state of most uncommon good humour and amiability for the rest of the
evening.  On her side, Lucy, though she had no particular interest in
the Stauntons, and indeed had never heard their name before Helen's
visit to them, was really pleased and amused, for she had learnt to
seek her pleasures in the happiness of other people.



CHAPTER VIII.


If Helen had not been too much offended by Elizabeth's disregard of her
counsel to think of anything but her own dignity, and had waited to
remind Katherine of her argument with her, the latter might perhaps
have taken the safest course, for it was not without many qualms of
conscience that she ascended the stairs to Mrs. Turner's drawing-room.

There was no one in the room; and as soon as the page had closed the
door, Elizabeth exclaimed, 'I declare, Anne, there is the bone of
contention itself--St. Augustine in his own person!  Oh! look at King
Ethelbert's square blue eye; and, Kate, is not this St. Austin's Hill
itself in the distance?'

'Nonsense, Lizzie!' said Katherine, crossly; 'you know it is no such
thing.  It was in the pattern.'

'I assure you it is round, and exactly the colour of St. Austin's,'
said Elizabeth; 'there can be no doubt about it.'

Elizabeth's criticisms were here cut short by the entrance of Mrs.
Turner and her daughter, ready dressed for the evening's excursion.

'Mrs. Turner,' said Elizabeth, with all the politeness she was capable
of towards that lady, 'we are come to claim your kind offer of taking
us to the Mechanics' Institute this evening.'

'Oh, my dear Miss Lizzie,' cried Mrs. Turner, 'I am so delighted to
have the honour, you cannot think!  It is my nephew, Augustus Mills,
who lectures to-night.  Most talented young man, poor fellow, is
Augustus--never without a book in his hand; quite in your line, Miss
Lizzie.'

At this moment the gentleman quite in Elizabeth's line came into the
room.  He had a quantity of bushy black hair, a long gold chain round
his neck, a plaid velvet waistcoat, in which scarlet was the
predominant colour--and his whole air expressed full consciousness of
the distinguished part which he was about to act.  Poor Elizabeth!
little reliance as she usually placed in Katherine's descriptions, she
had expected to see something a little more gentleman-like than what
she now beheld; and her dismay was increased, when Mrs. Turner
addressed her nephew--'Augustus, Augustus, my dear, you never were so
flattered in your life?  Here _is_ Miss Merton, and Miss Hazleby, and
Miss Lizzie Woodbourne, all come on purpose to hear your lecture!'

Mr. Augustus said something about being very happy, and bowed, but
whether to the young ladies or to his own reflection in the
looking-glass was doubtful.  He was then regularly introduced to Anne
and Elizabeth; and upon Mr. Turner making his appearance, they arranged
themselves for the walk to the Mechanics' Institute.  Mr. Turner, a fat
silent old gentleman, very ceremoniously offered his arm to Miss
Merton, who, though by this time exceedingly amazed and disgusted by
all she saw and heard, could scarcely refrain from laughing at the airs
and graces of her squire, or at the horror she plainly perceived in
Elizabeth's face, when the talking Mrs. Turner exclaimed, 'Now,
Augustus, I must have you take Miss Woodbourne--I know you will be such
friends!'

Little did Mrs. Turner suspect, as in the overflowing of her pride and
delight she bestowed upon Elizabeth the hero of the night, the mingled
feeling of shame and repugnance which the poor girl had to encounter as
she placed her hand within the offered arm of Mr. Mills, almost
groaning at her own folly, and vainly seeking some possible means of
escape.  Mrs. Turner followed with Harriet; and Katherine and
Wilhelmina brought up the rear.

'You are very fond of study, I believe, Miss Woodbourne?' said Mr.
Mills, as they left the house.

Elizabeth made some inarticulate answer: she was in the utmost dread of
meeting either of the curates, or worse still, her cousin Rupert
Merton, if he should chance to arrive that evening.

'Most interesting pursuit!' continued Mr. Mills, wishing to shew his
aunt how well he and his companion agreed.  'I am quite devoted to it,
always was!  You are a classical scholar, I presume?'

Elizabeth was ready to wish she had never learnt to read: she fancied
she saw a figure like Rupert's at the other end of the street, and was
too much frightened to reply.

While they were traversing one street of the old town, crossing the
bridge over the little stream which flowed along the valley, and
walking along the principal street of the new town, Mr. Mills continued
to talk, and Elizabeth to echo the last word of each sentence; or when
that would not serve for a reply, she had recourse to the simple
interjection 'Oh!' that last refuge of listeners with nothing to say.
After a walk, which she thought was at least as many miles in length as
it was yards, they arrived at the Mechanics' Institute, outside which
they found sundry loiterers, and a strong scent of tobacco; and inside
some crowded benches, a table with some chairs ranged round it, and a
strong odour of gas.

After a good deal of pushing and shoving, the ladies were safely
deposited on one of the front benches; while Mr. Turner, who was one of
the managing committee, seated himself on one of the chairs; and Mr.
Augustus Mills stood at the table.

Elizabeth felt as if the crimson flush called up by vexation and
embarrassment, together with her hasty walk, would never leave her
cheeks; she held her head down till Katherine touched her to make her
look up, and trusting that her bonnet would screen her heightened
colour from observation, she obeyed the sign.  A flaring gas-light hung
opposite to her; and as she raised her face she encountered the gaze of
Mr. Higgins, the Radical and Dissenting editor of a newspaper which had
several times abused Mr. Woodbourne.  The moment he caught her eye, he
bowed with something of a triumphant air; and she, doubly ashamed of
herself and provoked with him, bent her head so low that he might well
imagine that she returned the bow.  She hoped by looking down to escape
all further observation, but unfortunately for her, Mrs. Turner had
taken care to find a conspicuous place for her party; and Katherine,
who had by this time quite forgotten her doubts and misgivings, was
nodding and smiling to everyone, with what she considered the utmost
grace and affability.  Anne, meanwhile, was trying to account for
Elizabeth's ever having thought of going to such a place, wondering
what Sir Edward and Lady Merton would think of the expedition, and for
a moment considering whether Mr. Woodbourne could approve of it, yet at
the same time keenly enjoying all that was ludicrous in the scene, and
longing to talk it over with Rupert.  She was also much diverted with
Mr. Augustus Mills's eloquent lecture, in which she afterwards declared
that she heard the words 'barbarous institution' fifteen times
repeated, and 'civilized and enlightened age,' at least twenty-three
times.  She was, however, not a little fatigued before it was nearly
concluded, and was heartily glad when after an hour and a half it was
terminated by a mighty flourish of rhetoric, upon the universal
toleration, civilization, and liberty enjoyed in the nineteenth century.

Deafened by the applause of those who had heard little and understood
less, half stifled by the heat of the room, and their heads aching from
the smell of gas, the girls now hoped to escape; but they were forced
to wait till the crowd nearer the door had dispersed, and then to
listen to the numerous compliments and congratulations which poured in
upon Mrs. Turner from all quarters before they could reach the open
air; and then, strenuously refusing all invitations to take tea in St.
Martin's Street, they happily regained the Vicarage. Helen and Lucy met
them at the door, with hopes that they had had a pleasant evening.

Elizabeth answered quickly, 'Come, come, say no more about it, it was a
foolish affair altogether;' but the inquiry, after the feelings she had
seen expressed in Elizabeth's face, struck Anne as so excessively
ridiculous, that the moment they were in the drawing-room she sank down
upon the sofa, giving way to the laughter which, long repressed, now
burst forth louder and more merrily upon every fresh remembrance of the
scene; while the other girls, though persisting in declaring that they
had seen nothing diverting, were soon infected by her joyous merriment,
and the room rang again with laughter.

'Well, Lizzie,' said Anne, recovering her breath, 'I hope, as Helen
says, you have had a pleasant evening; I hope you were very much
edified.'

'How can you be so absurd, Anne?' answered Elizabeth, trying to look
serious, but the corners of her mouth relaxing, in spite of her
attempts to control her risible muscles.

'I hope,' continued Anne, with a very grave face, 'that Mr. Augustus
was fully sensible of your wisdom, love of erudition, and classical
scholarship, though I cannot say they appeared on the surface.'

'You may be sure he thought me very wise,' said Elizabeth; 'I only
echoed his own words--and what would a man have more?'

'And how tenderly you touched him with the tip of your glove!'
continued Anne.  'I wish you could have seen yourself!'

'Indeed, I wish you had, Lizzie,' said Katherine; 'I think you would
have been ashamed of yourself.'

'I am ashamed,' said Elizabeth, gravely and shortly.

Lucy here asked where Fido was.

No one knew; no one could recollect anything about him from the time
they had left Mr. Turner's house to go to the Mechanics' Institute.
Katherine and Harriet went to the front door, they called, they
searched, they even went to Mr. Turner's to inquire for him, but all
their researches were fruitless; and Harriet turned angrily upon her
sister, saying, 'It is all your fault, Lucy, for running home in such a
hurry, and never thinking of him.  How was I to be watching him there,
did you think?'

'I should have supposed,' said Elizabeth, 'that the person who was
leading the dog was more likely--'

'No, no, Elizabeth,' hastily interrupted Lucy, 'it was my fault in some
degree.  I know I ought to have thought of him.'

'Well, say no more about him,' said Elizabeth; 'I dare say he will come
home before morning.'

And Elizabeth left the room to take off her bonnet, and to visit the
nursery, where the children were in bed.  All were asleep excepting
Dora; and as Elizabeth leant over her, kissing her and bidding her
good-night, the little girl put her arm round her neck, and said,
'Lizzie, will you tell me one thing?  Was it naughty to--to go where
you went to-night?'

Elizabeth had felt annoyed and provoked and surprised at herself for
her folly, but she had not thought herself in fault; but now Dora's
soft, sweet, caressing tone sounded in her ears like a serious reproof,
and turned her thought upon her sin.  She was too upright and sincere
to evade such an inquiry as this, even from a younger sister and a
pupil, and answered, 'Indeed, Dora, I can hardly tell yet how wrong it
was; but I am afraid it was very wrong, for I am sure it is a thing I
hope you will never do.  Besides, I know I was very self-willed, and
unkind to Helen; I have set you a very bad example, Dora, and I believe
I ought to beg your pardon for it. Good-night, my dear!'

Was Elizabeth lowered in her sister's eyes by humbling herself?

Just as the girls were arranging themselves in the drawing-room for the
evening, a loud knocking was heard at the front-door, and Harriet and
Anne both sprang up--the one exclaiming, 'Someone has brought Fido
back!'--the other, 'Can that be Rupert?'

The last supposition was proved to be right; and in another moment
Rupert Merton was receiving the affectionate greetings of his sister
and cousins.  Elizabeth felt some embarrassment in performing a regular
introduction of Mr. Merton to the Miss Hazlebys; but Rupert's easy
well-bred manners rendered the formidable ceremony much easier than she
had expected, and the cousins soon fell into their usual style of
conversation.

'Well, Mr. Rupert,' said Elizabeth, 'better late than never; that is
all that can be said for you!'

'Am I late?' said Rupert; 'I hope no one has waited for me.'

'I hope not indeed,' said Elizabeth; 'pray, did you expect the Bishop
and Clergy, and the whole town of Abbeychurch, St. Mary and St. Austin,
to wait your pleasure and convenience?  Anne, did you ever hear the
like?  Do you think Prince Rupert himself was ever so favoured and
honoured?

'What do you mean?' said Rupert.

'That you have come a day too late, you idle boy!' said Anne.

'I thought next Tuesday was to have been the day of the Consecration,'
said Rupert.

'Did you never get my letter?' said Anne; 'I wrote to tell you that the
day was altered, and you were to meet us here on the Wednesday.'

'Can I ask you to believe a gentleman's word in opposition to a
lady's?' said Rupert, looking round.  'I did indeed receive a letter
from my amiable sister, full of--let me see--histories of dogs and
cats, and the harvest, and old Dame Philips, and commissions for
pencils, which I will produce if I have not lost the key of my
portmanteau, but not one word of the Consecration.'

'But indeed I wrote a good many words about it,' said Anne; 'have you
the letter, Rupert?'

'Have I the letter?' cried Rupert.  'Young ladies, did you ever hear of
such overweening presumption?  Here is a damsel who expects her scraps
of angular writing to be preserved with as much care as the Golden
Bulls of the Pope!'

'That is to say, you burnt it without reading it,' said Anne.

'The former part of your supposition is true, sweet sister mine,'
replied Rupert: 'not knowing what spells it might contain, seeing that
Miss Merton's caligraphy is more like the cabalistic characters of a
sorceress than the Italian-hand of a gentle demoiselle, I exorcised
it--I committed it to the devouring element!'

'Without turning over the second page of the second piece of
note-paper, I suppose?' said Anne.

'How was I ever to suppose that anyone would write a letter for the
purpose of giving me an important piece of information,' said Rupert,
'and then put the pith of it in a place where no one would ever dream
of looking?  No, Lady Elizabeth, if by my absence your feast has lost
its brightest ornament, its wittiest and wisest cavalier, it is this
sister of mine whom you must accuse!'

It was really not a little provoking to be blamed in this manner for
Rupert's own carelessness; but Anne was used to her brother's ways, and
could bear them with good humour.  Elizabeth, however, attacked him.
'Why, Rupert, one would suppose you had never heard where a woman's
mind is to be found!  These are most futile excuses.'

'I will only attempt one other,' said the truant--'the utter
worthlessness of young ladies' letters, which is such as not to
encourage their friends to make any very strict researches into them.'

'Worse and worse!' said Elizabeth; 'you have certainly behaved most
cavalierly, that must be confessed!  We are only considering what
punishment you deserve.'

'I deserve the punishment I have had, Lizzie,' said Rupert; 'I have
missed the Consecration, and three days of this fair company!'

'Besides that, you will be held up ever after as a warning to Horace
and Edward,' said Elizabeth.

'I saw that first-mentioned pupil of yours on Sunday,' said Rupert.

'Oh! how pleased Mamma will be!' cried Elizabeth; 'then you went to
Sandleford?'

'Yes; finding myself too late for the coach on Saturday afternoon, by
which I had intended to go to Ely,' said Rupert, 'I made up my mind to
spend Sunday at Sandleford, and take a cursory view of the young
gentleman, and of my old haunts.'

'Thank you,' said Elizabeth, her eyes beaming with pleasure; 'I am sure
that was very kind of you.  And how did he look, poor little fellow,
and what did he say, and was not he delighted to see you?'

'I shall leave you to judge of that,' said Rupert, 'and say that he
looked very happy and flourishing, with face and shirt-collar all over
ink on Saturday afternoon; and he said more than I can remember on
Sunday evening.'

'And what does Dr. Freeman say of him?' said Elizabeth.

'Dr. Freeman assured me--what do you think, young ladies?--that Master
Horatio Woodbourne is by far the most promising youth who has entered
his celebrated academy since--of course you know whom I mean, and will
spare my blushes!'

'Unluckily,' said Anne, 'the evident fabrication of the latter part of
that speech destroys our belief in the beginning of it.'

'No, no,' said Elizabeth, 'it is only the most promising, not the most
performing.  No one can doubt of Rupert's promises!'

'Rupert, you always do talk such nonsense,' said Katherine.

'Many thanks for the compliment, Lady Kate,' said Rupert, with a bow;
'considering how my intelligence is received, I think I shall spare it
in future.  I have a letter and parcel from Master Horatio in my
portmanteau, and they may speak for themselves, if I have not lost my
keys, as I said before.'

'O Rupert!' cried Anne, 'how could you lose them again, after all the
pains Mamma took to save them?'

'Indeed, Anne, I did behave better than usual,' said Rupert; 'I kept
them safe till yesterday, I assure you.  I wish you would come and give
me the carriage keys; perhaps some of them may unlock the portmanteau.'

Anne did not think they would; she said they had all been tried twice
before; but Rupert would not be satisfied till the experiment had been
repeated once more; and long after all the other girls were gone to
bed, he kept his sister up, looking out some things which had been
brought from Merton Hall for him, while he sat by recounting all his
adventures in Scotland.  Anne was much delighted to listen, and very
glad to have her brother with her again; but perhaps, if he had not
been quite so much engrossed by his own affairs, he would have seen
that she looked very tired, and have remembered that it was much later
than her usual bed-time.

While Katherine and Helen were undressing, the former began:

'Helen, I wish you had gone, it was such fun!'

'Was it?' said Helen.  'I thought Lizzie did not seem much gratified.'

'Lizzie?  Oh no,' said Katherine; 'she only hung her head and looked
vexed, though there were such a number of people, all so civil and
bowing--Mr. Wilkins, and the Greens, and Mr. Higgins.'

'Did Mr. Higgins bow to you and Lizzie?' exclaimed Helen.

'Yes, that he did,' said Katherine triumphantly; 'and a very polite bow
he made, I assure you, Helen.  I was quite glad to see him; I hope he
is coming round.'

'How did Lizzie like it?' asked Helen.

'Oh! she is so odd, you know,' said Katherine; 'she seemed really quite
angry; I jogged her once or twice to make her look up, but she shook me
off quite crossly; I thought she would have been pleased.'

'I should think few things would vex her much more,' said Helen.

'Well,' said Katherine, 'Willie once told me that some people think
Lizzie very proud and disdainful, and I really begin to believe so too.'

'Oh no, Kate,' said Helen; 'I am sure she is not proud, it is only--'

'Mercy, Helen!' here interrupted Kate, 'what are you doing to your
hair?'

'Curling it,' replied Helen, in her composed manner.

'Why in the world?' said Katherine; 'I thought you liked your plaits
better.'

'Lizzie does not,' said Helen.

'Well,' said Katherine, 'I am sure I should never dream of doing such a
thing, only because Lizzie chooses to make a fuss.'

'Perhaps not,' said Helen.

There was a silence.  Presently Helen said, 'I suppose Mr. Higgins's
next Sunday's paper will mention that the Mechanics' Institute was
honoured by the presence of the Miss Woodbournes!'

'Dear me, do you think so?' said Katherine, who could not guess from
her sister's manner what opinion she intended to express.

'I think it very probable indeed,' said Helen; 'such a sanction to the
education-without-religion system is not to be neglected.'

'System!' said Katherine, looking bewildered; 'how are we to sanction
anything?'

'Our station here, as the daughters of the clergyman, gives us some
weight,' said Helen; 'besides that, what each person does, however
trifling, is of importance to others.'

This was not very clearly expressed, and Katherine did not trouble
herself to understand it.  She only said, 'Well, I hope we have not got
into a scrape; however, you know it was Lizzie's doing, not mine.'

'I thought you went,' said Helen.

'Yes,' said Katherine; 'but that was only because Lizzie said it was
not wrong.  She is the eldest, and you know she is accountable.'

'I should think that poor consolation,' said Helen.

'Well,' said Katherine sleepily, 'good-night.  Those horrid gas-lights
have made my head ache.  I cannot talk any more.'



CHAPTER IX.


Although she had sat up so much later than usual the night before, Anne
was dressed on Saturday morning in time to go to her mother's room for
a little while before breakfast.

'Mamma,' said she, after they had spoken of Rupert's arrival, 'where do
you think we went yesterday evening?'

'Where, my dear?'

'To hear a lecture at the Mechanics' Institute, Mamma.'

'I should not have thought that your uncle would have approved of his
daughters going to such a place,' said Lady Merton.

'Do you think we ought not to have gone, Mamma?' said Anne.

'I do not know the circumstances, my dear,' said Lady Merton; 'the
Mechanics' Institute may perhaps be under your uncle's management, and
in that case--'

'Oh no,' said Anne.  'I do not think it is--at least, I do not think
Uncle Woodbourne would have liked the lecture we heard much better than
Lizzie and I did; and after it was too late, I found that Helen had
declared it was very wrong of us to go.  She would not go; and I found
that when I was out of the room, she and Lizzie had had a great debate
about it.'

Anne then gave a full account of all that had occurred, and ended with,
'Now, Mamma, do you think we could have helped going on after we once
came to Mrs. Turner's, and found what kind of a thing it was likely to
be?'

'People certainly cannot stop themselves easily when they have taken
the first wrong step,' said Lady Merton.

Anne sighed. 'Then I am afraid we have done very wrong,' said she.

'For yourself, Anne,' said her mother, 'I do not think you are much to
blame, since I cannot see how you were to know that your cousins were
going without their father's consent.'

'I am glad you think so, Mamma,' said Anne; 'but I cannot be quite
happy about it, for I might certainly have supposed that there was some
reason against our going, when Helen and the youngest Miss Hazleby
turned back and went home.'

'You heard none of Helen's remonstrances?' said Lady Merton.

'No, Mamma; I was foolish enough to be satisfied with Lizzie's saying
that she had been talking nonsense,' said Anne; 'besides, I could see
that Helen was out of temper, and I thought that might account for her
objecting.'

'These are very good reasons, Anne,' said Lady Merton.

'Indeed they are not, Mamma,' said Anne; 'I am afraid the real cause
was, that my head was so full of the pleasure I expected in going to
the lecture, that I did not choose to think that we ought not to go. I
am afraid I am growing thoughtless, as you said I should here.'

'No, no, Anne,' said Lady Merton, smiling, 'I did not say you would, I
only said you must guard against doing so; and as far as I have seen,
you have shewn more self-command than when you and Lizzie were last
together.'

'Ah! but when you are not looking on, Mamma,' said Anne; 'that is the
dangerous time, especially now Rupert is come; he and Lizzie will make
us laugh dreadfully.'

'I hope they will,' said Lady Merton, 'provided it is without flippancy
or unkindness.'

'But, Mamma,' said Anne, presently after, 'what do you think about
Lizzie? was she in the wrong?'

'I cannot tell without knowing more about it,' said Lady Merton; 'do
you know what she thinks herself?'

'No, Mamma,' said Anne; 'she was asleep before I went to bed last
night, and up before I awoke this morning.  But I do firmly believe,
that if Lizzie had had the slightest idea that she was doing wrong in
going there, she would as soon have thought of flying as of doing so.'

It was now breakfast-time; and Rupert came up to summon his mother and
sister, and to inform them that his portmanteau had just been broken
open for the seventh time since it had been in his possession. He said
this with some satisfaction, for he was somewhat vain of his
carelessness, for of what cannot people be vain?

During breakfast, it was arranged that the three elder ladies should go
in the Mertons' carriage to Baysmouth, a large town, which was about
ten miles distant from Abbeychurch, and take Winifred and Edward with
them; Dora was to accompany the other young people in a long walk, to a
farm-house, which report said had been a baronial castle in the days of
King Stephen, and from exploring the antiquities of which some of them
expected great things, especially as it was known by the mysterious
name of Whistlefar.  Mr. Woodbourne and Sir Edward expected to be
engaged all day in the final settlement of accounts with the architect
of the church.

As soon as the two parties of pleasure had been arranged, Elizabeth
left the breakfast-table to tell the children of the treat in store for
them, and to write a little note to Horace, to accompany Dora's letter,
which had been finished that morning before breakfast.

Just after she had quitted the room, Sir Edward asked what the
smart-looking building, at the corner of Aurelia Place, was.

'You mean the Mechanics' Institute,' said Mr. Woodbourne.

'Never was new town without one,' said Rupert.

'Is this one well conducted?' inquired Lady Merton.

'Not much worse than such things usually are,' replied Mr. Woodbourne;
'two or three Socialist lectures were given there, but they were
stopped before they had time to do much harm.'

'Were you obliged to interfere?' said Sir Edward.

'Yes,' said Mr. Woodbourne; 'I went to some of the managing
committee--Mr. Green and old Mr. Turner--and after some rather strong
representations on my part, they found means to put a stop to them.
Higgins, their chief promoter, made several violent attacks upon me in
his newspaper for my illiberality and bigotry; and poor Mr. Turner was
so much distressed, that he came to entreat me to go myself, or at
least to allow my girls to go, to some lectures, which he promised
should be perfectly harmless.  I told him that I disapproved of
Mechanics' Institutes in general, and especially of the way in which
this one is conducted, and that I had resolved long before that none of
my family should ever set foot in it.  Here the matter ended; and I
have heard no more of it, except that Mrs. Turner is constantly
tormenting my wife with offers to take the girls to some peculiarly
interesting lecture.'

If Elizabeth had been present, she would certainly have immediately
confessed her indiscretion of the evening before; but she was not
there, and Katherine, who was on the point of speaking, was checked by
an imploring glance from Harriet.  The conversation was changed, and
nothing more was said on the subject.  As soon as they could leave the
breakfast-table, all the young ladies instantly flew to the
school-room, where Elizabeth was sitting alone, writing.

'Lizzie, Lizzie!' exclaimed three voices at once, 'do you know what you
have done?'

'Is it anything very fatal?' said Elizabeth, looking quite composed.

'A fine scrape you have got into!' cried Katherine.

'A pretty kettle of fish you have brought us into!' exclaimed Harriet.

'But what is the matter, good ladies?' said Elizabeth; 'why do you look
so like the form that drew Priam's curtains at the dead of night?'

'Come, Lizzie,' said Katherine pettishly, 'do not be so provoking with
Priam and all that stuff, but tell us what is to be done about that
horrid Institute.'

'Oh! that is it, is it?' said Elizabeth; 'so I suppose Fido was stolen
there, and you are afraid to tell!'

'I am afraid he was,' said Katherine; 'but that is not the worst of
it--I know nothing about him.  But do you know what Papa says?  Uncle
Edward has been asking about the Institute; and, oh dear! oh dear! Papa
said he could not bear Mechanics' Institutes, and had resolved quite
firmly that none of his family should ever set foot in one!'

Elizabeth really looked quite appalled at this piece of intelligence;
and Katherine continued, 'And Chartists, and Socialists, and horrible
people, have been lecturing there!  I remember now, that when you were
at Merton Hall in the spring, there was a great uproar, and the
Abbeychurch Reporter behaved very badly to Papa about it.  A fine
affair you have made of it, indeed, Lizzie!'

'And pray, Miss Kate,' said Elizabeth sharply, 'who was the person who
first proposed this fine expedition?  Really, I think, if everyone had
their deserts, you would have no small share of blame! What could
prevent you from telling me all this yesterday, when it seems you knew
it all the time?'

'I forgot it,' said Katherine.

'Exactly like you,' continued her sister; 'and how could you listen to
all Helen said, and not be put in mind of it?  And how could you bring
me back such a flaming description of Mrs. Turner's august puppy of a
nephew?  If we are in a kettle of fish, as Harriet says, you are at the
bottom of it!'

'Well, Lizzie,' said Katherine, 'do not be so cross; you know Mamma
says I have such a bad memory, I cannot help forgetting.'

And she began to cry, which softened Elizabeth's anger a little.

'I did not mean to throw _all_ the blame upon you, Kate,' said she; 'I
know I ought not to have trusted to you; besides that, I led you all
into it, being the eldest.  I only meant to shew you that you are not
quite so immaculate as you seem to imagine.  We have all done very
wrong, and must take the consequences.'

Helen was leaving the room, when Harriet died out, 'O Helen, pray do
not go and tell of us!'

'Helen has no such intention,' said Elizabeth; 'I am going to tell Papa
myself as soon as he has done breakfast.'

'Oh! Lizzie, dearest Lizzie,' cried Harriet, 'I beg you will not; you
do not know what Mamma would do to me!'

'Pray, Harriet,' said Elizabeth scornfully, 'do you think that I am
going to conceal my own faults from my own father?'

'But, Lizzie, stop one moment,' said Harriet; 'you know it was you and
Kate who took me; I did not know it was wrong to go; and now Fido is
lost, Mamma will be certain to say it was by my going, and she will be
dreadfully angry with me; and you would not wish me to be scolded for
what was your fault!'

'Should not you wish me to tell, Anne,' said Elizabeth, turning her
back upon Harriet.

'I told Mamma this morning,' said Anne.

'Told her!' exclaimed Harriet; 'and what did she say--?'

'She said she wondered that my cousins were allowed to go to such a
place,' said Anne; 'and she seemed very sorry we had gone.'

'But was she angry with you?' persisted Harriet.

Anne hesitated; and Elizabeth replied, 'No, of course she could not be
angry with Anne, when it was all my doing.  She must be displeased
enough with me, though.'

'But will she tell Mamma and Aunt Mildred?' said Harriet.

'I do not think she will,' answered Anne.

'No, because she trusts to me to tell,' said Elizabeth; 'so that you
see I must, Harriet.'

'Must you?' said Harriet; 'I cannot see why; it will only get us all a
scolding.'

'Which we richly deserve,' said Elizabeth.

'I am sure, if you like to be scolded,' said Harriet, 'you are very
welcome; only do not make Mamma scold me too.'

'I am sure, if you like to be insincere and cowardly,' said Elizabeth,
'you shall not make me so too.'

'I do not want you to tell a fib,' said Harriet; 'I only want you to
say nothing.'

'L'un vaut bien l'autre,' said Elizabeth.

'What?' said Harriet; 'do only wait till we are gone, if you are
determined to tell--there's a dear girl.'

'Deceive Papa and Mamma for three whole days!' cried Elizabeth; 'I
wonder you are not ashamed of yourself.  Besides, Harriet, I do not see
what you have to fear.  It was Kate and I who did wrong; we knew
better, and cast away Helen's good advice; we shut our eyes and went
headlong into mischief, but you had no reason to suppose that you might
not do as we did.'

'No,' said Harriet, 'I should not care if it was not for Fido.'

'But will my silence find Fido?' said Elizabeth.

'No,' said Harriet; 'but if Mamma knows we went there she will scold us
for going, because she will be angry about Fido; and if she once thinks
that it was I who lost him--oh, Lizzie, you do not know how angry she
will be!'

'But, Harriet,' said Katherine, 'I thought you used to say that you
could do anything with your Mamma, and that she never minded where you
went.'

'Oh! that is when she is in good humour,' said Harriet; 'she is not
often cross with me, but when she is, you may hear her from one end of
the house to the other.  Cannot you, Lucy?  And now she will be
dreadfully cross about Fido, and the other thing coming upon it, I do
not know what she may say.  O Lizzie, you will save me!'

'I will only tell of Kate and myself,' said Elizabeth; 'or I will ask
Papa not to mention it to Mrs. Hazleby; though, Harriet, there are some
people who prefer any suffering, just or unjust, to deceit.'

'Then you mean to tell directly,' said Katherine, in a piteous tone.

'Of course I do,' said Elizabeth; 'there is the dining-room door shut.
Come with me, Kate.'

Katherine rather unwillingly followed her sister into the passage; but
when there, fear making her ingenious, a sudden thought struck her.
'Lizzie,' whispered she, 'if you tell Papa that you and I went, Mrs.
Hazleby will be sure to hear, and if she asks Harriet about it, perhaps
she--you know--may tell a story about it.'

'Fine confidence you shew in your chosen friend!' said Elizabeth.

'Why, one must be civil; and Harriet is a sort of cousin,' said
Katherine; 'but I am sure she is not half so much my friend as Willie.'

'Well, never mind defending your taste in friends,' said Elizabeth;
'for as I do think your scruple worth answering, I will tell you that I
had thought of the same thing; but I do not choose to do evil that good
may come, or that evil may not come.  I shall tell Papa what an
excellent opinion you have of Harriet, and leave him to do as he
pleases.'

Elizabeth's hand was on the lock of the door of her father's study,
when Katherine exclaimed, 'There is someone there--I hear voices!'

'Uncle Edward,' said Elizabeth.  'I do not mind his being there; we
ought to beg his pardon for leading Anne astray.'

'Oh! but do not you see,' said Katherine, 'here are a hat and a roll of
papers on the table!  Mr. Roberts must be come.'

'Tiresome man!' cried Elizabeth; 'he will be there all day, and I shall
not see Papa I do not know when.  It really was a very convenient thing
when the architects of the old German cathedrals used to take a
desperate leap from the top of the tower as soon as it was finished.
Well, I must find Mamma now.'

'Cannot you wait till the evening, when you may see Papa?' said
Katherine, hoping to put off the evil day.

'I cannot have this upon my mind all day unconfessed,' said Elizabeth;
'besides, Harriet will pester me with entreaties as long as it is
untold.  Come, Kitty, do not be such a coward.'

'I am sure I do not want you not to tell,' said Katherine, looking
rather miserable; 'only I am not in such a hurry about it as you are.
You do not know where Mamma is.'

'No, but I will find her,' said Elizabeth.

The sisters set off on the chase; they looked into the drawing-room,
the dining-room, Mrs. Woodbourne's room, without success; they ran up
to the nursery, but she was not there; and they were going down again,
when Katherine, seeing Elizabeth go towards the kitchen stairs,
exclaimed, 'Well, I will go no further; it is so ridiculous, as if it
was a matter of life and death!  You may call if you want me.'

Katherine retreated into her own room, and Elizabeth ran down to the
kitchen, where she found Mrs. Woodbourne ordering dinner.

Elizabeth stood by the fire, biting her lip and pinching her finger,
and trembling all over with impatience, while Mrs. Woodbourne and the
cook were busily consulting over some grouse which Rupert had brought
from Scotland.

'Lizzie, my dear,' said Mrs. Woodbourne presently, 'would you just run
to my room and fetch down the green receipt-book?'

Elizabeth obeyed: running was rather a relief to her, and she was
down-stairs again in another instant.

'Why, Lizzie,' said Mrs. Woodbourne, with a smile, 'you must be wild
to-day; you have brought me the account-book instead of--But, my dear
child, what is the matter?' said she, perceiving that Elizabeth's face
was scarlet, and her eyes full of tears.

'I will tell you presently,' whispered Elizabeth, breathlessly, 'when
you have done.'  She darted away again, and returned with the right
book; but Mrs. Woodbourne was too much alarmed by her manner to spend
another moment in giving directions to the cook, and instantly followed
her to her own room.  Elizabeth hastily shut the door, and sat down to
recover her breath.

'My dear Lizzie, there is nothing amiss with any of the--' exclaimed
Mrs. Woodbourne, almost gasping for breath.

'Oh no, Mamma,' said Elizabeth, a smile passing over her face in spite
of her distress, 'it is not Winifred who is mad.  It is I who have been
more mad and foolish and self-willed than you would ever believe.
Mamma, I have been with Mrs. Turner to the Mechanics' Institute.'

'My dear Lizzie, you do not mean it!' said Mrs. Woodbourne.

'Yes, Mamma, indeed it is so,' said Elizabeth mournfully; 'I did not
know what had happened there certainly, but I would not listen to
Helen's good advice, and so I have made Papa seem to consent to what he
abhors; I have led Kate and Anne and Harriet all wrong.  Oh! Mamma, is
not it terrible?'

'Indeed, I wish I had told you what your Papa said to Mr. Turner,' said
Mrs. Woodbourne; 'I am afraid your papa will be very much annoyed; but,
my dear, do not distress yourself, you could not know that it was
wrong.'

'Yes; but, Mamma,' said Elizabeth, 'I did know that it was wrong to go
out without asking your leave.  Simple obedience might have kept me
straight.  But now I will tell you all, and you shall judge what had
best be done about the Hazlebys and Fido.'

Rather incoherently, and with many sobs, Elizabeth told the history of
the preceding evening.  Mrs. Woodbourne listened to her with the utmost
kindness, and said all she could to soothe and console her, assuring
her that Mr. Woodbourne could not be seriously displeased with her for
having transgressed a command of which she was ignorant. Elizabeth was
much relieved by having been able to talk over her conduct in this
manner; and though she still felt that she had been very much to blame,
and by no means sure that Mr. Woodbourne would pass over her fault so
lightly, was greatly comforted by her mamma's kindness.  She went away
to bathe her swollen eyes, before she went down to the school-room to
read the Psalms and Lessons with her sisters, as was their regular
custom when there was no service at the church, before they began their
morning's work; Mrs. Woodbourne undertaking to call the children down
in a few minutes, and saying that she would speak to Katherine in the
course of the day.  She willingly promised to say nothing to Mrs.
Hazleby, and only wished she was quite sure that there were no symptoms
of madness about Fido.

'What a strange girl Lizzie is!' cried Harriet, just as Elizabeth
departed on her search for her father or Mrs. Woodbourne.

'But, Harriet,' said Lucy, drawing her aside to the window, 'what
difference is her saying nothing to make?  Mamma will ask how Fido was
lost.'

'I am sure, Lucy, that was more your fault than mine,' said Harriet; 'I
could not be watching him all the time we were at that place.'

'Then why did you take him there?' said Helen.

'Because Lucy chose to run away without ever thinking what I was to
do,' said Harriet.

'But when you were leading him, and it must have been you who let go
his string,' said Helen; 'I cannot see how you can accuse Lucy of
having been the means of losing him, when she was safe at home.'

Harriet was saved from the necessity of finding an answer, by hearing
her mother calling her in the passage, and she hastened to obey the
summons.

'Do you know where Fido is?' was Mrs. Hazleby's question.

'No,' said Harriet, finding she had only escaped one dilemma to fall
into another.  She avoided any further questions, however, by hastening
past her mother and running up-stairs.

'Lucy, Lucy!' then called Mrs. Hazleby; and as Lucy came out of the
school-room, she repeated the inquiry.

'I do not know, Mamma,' answered Lucy in a low voice, but standing
quite still.

'Go and ask for him in the kitchen then,' said Mrs. Hazleby.

'I am afraid it would be of no use. Ma'am,' said Lucy, firmly, but not
daring to raise her eyes; 'we missed him when we came in from walking,
yesterday evening.'

'Yesterday evening!' cried Mrs. Hazleby; 'and did you never speak of
it?  I never knew anyone so careless as you are, in all my life.  It is
of no use to leave anything in your charge, you care for--'

Here Lucy leant back and shut the door behind her, so that Anne and
Helen could distinguish nothing but the sound of Mrs. Hazleby's loud
angry voice raised to its highest pitch.

'Poor Lucy!' sighed Helen.

'Dreadful!' said Anne.

'And how can anyone say that Lucy is not one of the noblest, most
self-devoted creatures upon earth?' exclaimed Helen, with tears in her
eyes; 'there she is, bearing all that terrible scolding, rather than
say it was Harriet's fault, as everyone knows it was.  I am sure no one
is like Lucy.  And this is going on continually about something or
other.'

'How can she exist?' said Anne.

'With her acute feelings and painful timidity,' said Helen, 'it is
worse for her than it would be for anyone else, yet how gently and
simply she bears it all! and old Mrs. Hazleby says that she is often
ill after these scoldings, and she would have taken her away to live
with her, as the Major proposed, after Miss Dorothea Hazleby died, but
that she thought it would be taking away all the comfort of her
father's life.  Oh! Anne,' cried Helen, walking up and down the room as
Mrs. Hazleby's voice became louder and louder, 'I cannot bear it; what
shall I do?  Oh! if it was but right, if it would not make it worse for
Lucy, I could, I would go out and tell Mrs. Hazleby what everybody
thinks of her.'

'I do not wonder that Miss Hazleby was ready to do almost anything to
avoid such a scene,' said Anne.

'Mean selfish creature!' said Helen; 'she ran away on purpose that Lucy
might stay and bear all this.  Anne, I do believe that if martyrs are
made, and crowns are gained, by daily sufferings and hourly
self-denial, that such a crown will be dear dear Lucy's.'

Anne's answer was--

          'And all the happy souls that rode
           Transfigured through that fresh abode,
           Had heretofore in humble trust,
           Shone meekly 'mid their native dust,
           The glow-worms of the earth!'


'Thank you, Anne,' said Helen, wiping away her tears; 'I will think of
Lucy as the light, the glow-worm of her family.  Thank you; the thought
of her meek clear light in darkness need not be gloomy, as it has been.'

Anne had never thought of Helen as possessing so much enthusiasm, and
was almost more inclined to wonder at her than at Lucy.  While they had
been talking, Mrs. Hazleby's voice had ceased, steps were now heard in
the passage, and a letter was brought in and given to Helen. It was
from Fanny Staunton, but she had only just time to glance it over,
before the three children came in, followed by their mother and
Elizabeth.  Anne went to call her mother to join them in reading the
Psalms and Lessons; and Winifred was sent to summon Katherine, who had
purposely lingered up-stairs till all the rest were assembled.

Elizabeth's eyes were very red, and she was afraid to trust her voice
to read the first verse of the Psalm, as it was always her part to do;
but little Dora, who sat next to her, and who seemed in part to enter
into her feelings, although she said nothing, read the first verse for
her; and Elizabeth took Edward, who always looked over her book, upon
her knee when the Lessons began, so as to screen her face from her
aunt.  When they had finished, attention was drawn away from her by
Edward, who was eagerly assuring Lady Merton that the Bible and
Prayer-book which Uncle Edward, his godfather, had given him, were
quite safe, and he was to use them himself when Lizzie thought he could
read well enough.  This Dora explained as meaning when he had for a
week abstained from guessing words instead of spelling them; and
Elizabeth proposed to him to try whether he could read to-day without
one mistake.  Edward objected to reading at that time, as he was to go
out at half-past twelve, and there would be no time for lessons.
Elizabeth demonstrated that it was now only half-past ten, and that it
was impossible that he could spend two hours in putting on his best
frock and trowsers, and in settling what to buy with the bright
half-crown which Uncle Edward had given him; and Winifred assured him
that she meant to do all her lessons to-day.  Edward looked round to
appeal to his mother, but both she and Lady Merton had left the room,
and he was forced to content himself with asking Anne whether she
thought there was time.

'Oh yes, Edward; I hope you will let me hear how well you can read; I
want to know whether the young robins saw any more monsters,' said Anne
good-naturedly.

Winifred, rather inopportunely, was ready with the information, that
the nest was visited by two more monsters; but Anne stopped her ears,
and declared she would hear nothing but from Edward himself, and the
young gentleman was thus persuaded to begin his lesson.

Helen did not wait to see how the question was decided, but went up to
her own room to enjoy Fanny Staunton's letter.  She paused however a
few moments, to consider whether she should go to Lucy, but thinking
that it must certainly be painful to her to speak of what had passed,
she proceeded to her own room, there to send her whole heart and mind
to Dykelands.

Fanny Staunton's letter was overflowing with affection and with regrets
for Helen's departure; and this, together with her descriptions of her
own and her sister's amusements and occupations, made Helen's heart
yearn more strongly than ever after the friends she had left.  Anne's
cheerful manner, and Lucy's quiet content, had, the day before, made
Helen rather ashamed of herself, and she had resolved to leave off
pining for Dykelands, and to make herself happy, by being useful and
obliging, without thinking about little grievances, such as almost
everyone could probably find in their own home, if they searched for
them.  When she had curled her hair, it was with the hope that the
sacrifice of her tails would convince Elizabeth that she had some
regard for her taste; unfortunately, however, her hair was rather too
soft to curl well, and after having been plaited for the last three
months, it was most obstinate in hanging deplorably straight, in a way
very uncomfortable to her feelings and irritating to her temper;
besides which, Elizabeth had been too much occupied by her own concerns
all the morning, to observe the alteration, and indeed, if she had
remarked it, she was not likely to feel as much flattered by this
instance of deference to her opinion, as Helen thought she ought to be.
Last night, Helen had lamented that her own petulance had prevented her
from reasoning calmly with Elizabeth, and from setting before her all
the arguments upon which she had discoursed so fluently to Lucy, after
the imprudent step had been taken; but now, she threw the blame upon
Elizabeth's impetuosity and unkindness, and felt somewhat aggrieved,
because neither of her sisters had expressed a full sense of her
firmness and discretion.  She compared Fanny's affectionate
expressions, with Elizabeth's sharp and hasty manner; the admiration
which her friends had made rather too evident, with the wholesome
though severe criticisms she sometimes met with at home; the quietness
at Dykelands, with the constant bustle at the Vicarage; and ended, by
thinking Mrs. Woodbourne the only person of the family who possessed
any gentleness or kindness, and making up her mind that Dykelands was
the only pleasant place in England, and that she herself was a most
ill-used person, whose merits were not in the least appreciated.

Such were the feelings which gradually took possession of her mind,
while she was writing her answer to Fanny's letter; and by the time she
had finished, had brought her into that agreeable frame, which is
disposed to be offended with the first person who does not act up to
its expectations.

Katherine's study, through the whole morning, was to avoid a private
interview with Mrs. Woodbourne; and she really shewed considerable
ingenuity in evading her.  If Mrs. Woodbourne called her, she answered,
'Yes, Mamma, I am coming directly,' but she took care not to come till
she knew that her mamma was no longer alone; if Lady Merton wanted
anything which she had left up-stairs, Katherine would officiously
volunteer to fetch it, when particularly told that she was not wanted;
if Mrs. Woodbourne moved to the door, and made signs to Katherine to
follow her, she worked with double assiduity, and never looked up
unless to speak to Rupert or to Harriet; and thus she contrived to
elude the reproof she expected, until the whole party, except the two
gentlemen, met at twelve o'clock for an early luncheon, so that there
was no longer any danger that Mrs. Woodbourne would find an opportunity
of speaking to her, at present.

The three children were to dine late with the rest of the party, and
were in high glee at the prospect of the afternoon's amusement;
Elizabeth seemed to have recovered her spirits; Harriet was as noisy as
ever; and Lucy, if possible, a little quieter than was her wont; Anne,
as usual, ready to be amused with anything; and Rupert quite prepared
to amuse everyone.

Fido was again mentioned, and Rupert, who had heard about half of the
history of his loss, suggested the possibility of his having been
despatched by the railroad to London, there to be converted into
sausages.  Harriet, after many exclamations of 'O Mr. Merton!' declared
that if she believed such a thing could ever happen, she would never
eat another sausage in her life, and concluded as usual with, 'would
you, Lucy?'  Mrs. Woodbourne inquired anxiously after Winifred's hand.
Mrs. Hazleby was on the point of taking fire at the implied suspicion
of her lamented favourite's sanity, when Rupert averted the threatened
danger, by a grave examination of Winifred and Meg Merrilies, who had
both been wounded, and concluded by recommending that as soon as puss
shewed symptoms of hydrophobia, Winifred should be smothered between
two feather-beds, to prevent further mischief.  Everyone laughed,
except Dora, who thought the proposal exceedingly shocking; and Rupert
argued very gravely with her on the expediency of the measure, until
she was called away to prepare for the walk.



CHAPTER X.


Dora re-considered her arguments while putting on her bonnet, and the
instant the walking party were outside the front door, she began again.
'But, Rupert, it would be committing murder to kill Winifred, even if
she had the Fidophobia.'

'No, no, Dora,' said Rupert, 'it is your mamma and Lizzie who have the
Fidophobia.'

'What can you mean?' said Helen; 'how can you frighten the child so,
Rupert?'

'Do not you know, Helen,' said Elizabeth, ''tis his vocation.  He is a
true Knight Rupert.'

'Expound, most learned cousin,' said Rupert; 'you are too deep.'

'You must know,' said Elizabeth, 'that Knecht Ruprecht is the German
terrifier of naughty children, the same as the chimney-sweeper in
England, or Coeur de Lion in Palestine, or the Duke of Wellington in
France.

          'Baby, baby, he's a giant,
             Tall and black as Rouen steeple;
           And he dines and sups, 'tis said,
             Every day, on naughty people.'


'I should have thought,' said Rupert, 'that considering my namesake's
babe-bolting propensities, and his great black dog, that he would have
been more likely to be held up in terrorem in England.'

'I suppose there was some old grim Sir Rupert in Germany,' said
Elizabeth; 'but my dictionary is my only authority.'

'You are taking knecht to mean a knight,' said Anne, 'contrary to your
argument last night.  Knecht Ruprecht's origin is not nearly so sublime
as you would make it out.  Keightley's Fairy Mythology says he is only
our old friend Robin Good-fellow, Milton's lubber fiend, the Hob
Goblin.  You know, Rupert, and Robert, and Hob, are all the same name,
Rudbryht, bright in speech.'

'And a hobbish fellow means a gentleman as clumsy as the lubber fiend,'
said Elizabeth.

'No doubt he wore hob-nails in his shoes,' said Rupert.

'And chimney hobs were so called, because his cream bowl was duly set
upon them,' said Anne.

'And he was as familiar as the Robin Redbreast,' said Elizabeth.

'And wore a red waistcoat like him, and like Herb Robert,' said Anne.

'As shabby as this flower,' said Elizabeth, gathering a ragged Robin
from the hedge.

'Well done, etymology,' said Rupert; 'now for syntax and prosody.'

'I hope we have been talking syntax all this time,' said Elizabeth; 'we
will keep prosody for the evening, and then play at Conglomeration.'

They now came to some bright green water-meadows, which bordered the
little stream as soon as it left the town.  There was a broad dry path
by the river side, and as they walked along it, there was no lack of
laughter or merriment in anyone but Helen, and she could find no
amusement in anything she saw or heard.  At last, however, she was
highly delighted at the sight of some plants of purple loose-strife,
growing on the bank.  'Oh!' cried she, 'that is the flower that is so
beautiful at Dykelands.'

'What! the loose strife?' said Elizabeth, 'it is common enough in all
damp places.'

Poor Helen! as if this slight to the flower she admired were not a
sufficient shock to her feelings, Rupert, perfectly unconscious on what
tender ground he was treading, said, 'If it is a lover of damp, I am
sure it can nowhere be better suited than at Dykelands.  Did you grow
web-footed there, Helen?'

'O Rupert,' said Helen, 'I am sure the garden is always quite dry.'

'Except when it is wet,' said Elizabeth.

'That was certainly the case when I was there two years ago,' observed
Rupert; 'I could not stir two steps from the door without meeting with
a pool deep enough to swim a man-of-war.'

'Rupert,' said Elizabeth, 'I hereby give notice, that whosoever says
one single word against the perfect dryness, cleanliness, and beauty,
of dear Dykelands, commits high treason against Miss Helen Woodbourne;
and as protecting disconsolate damsels is the bounden duty of a true
knight and cavalier, I advise you never to mention the subject, on pain
of being considered a discourteous recreant.'

'Lizzie, how can you?' said Helen peevishly.

'How strange it is,' said Anne, 'that so many old family houses should
have been built in damp places.'

'Our ancestors were once apparently frogs,' said Rupert; unhappily
reminding Helen of her sister's parody.

'Well,' said Elizabeth, 'I can understand why monasteries should have
been built in damp places, near rivers or bogs, both for the sake of
the fish, and to be useful in draining; but why any other mortal except
Dutchmen, tadpoles, and newts, should delight in mud and mire, passes
my poor comprehension.'

Rupert pointed to a frog which Dora's foot had startled from its
hiding-place, and said, 'Pray, why, according to my theory, should not
the human kind have once been frogs? leap-frog being only a return to
our natural means of progression.'

'And bull-frogs in a course of becoming stalwart gentlemen,' said Anne.

'Yes, we often hear of a croaking disposition, do not we, Helen?' said
Elizabeth; 'you see both that propensity, and a love of marshes, are
but indications of a former state of existence.'

'And I am sure that your respectable neighbour, Mr. Turner, is a toad
on his hind legs,' said Rupert.

'Minus the precious jewel,' said Elizabeth.

'By-the-bye,' said Rupert, 'is there not some mystery about that
gentleman?  This morning I hazarded a supposition, in the drawing-room,
that the lost darling we have heard so much of, might have been
dissected for the benefit of Mr. Turner's pupils, and thereupon arose a
most wonderful whispering between Kate and one of your sweet cousins
there, Lizzie, about some nephew, an Adolphus or Augustus, or some such
name; but the more questions I asked, the more dark and mysterious did
the young ladies become.'

'I wonder if it is possible!' cried Elizabeth, with a sudden start.

'What is possible?' asked Anne.

'That Rupert should be right,' said Elizabeth; 'was Mrs. Hazleby in the
room when you spoke?'

'Yes, but what of that?' said Rupert.

'That you, talking at random,' said Elizabeth, 'very nearly betrayed
Harriet's grand secret.'

'Really, the affair becomes quite exciting,' said Rupert; 'pray do not
leave me in suspense, explain yourself.'

'I do not think I can, Rupert,' said Elizabeth, not wishing to expose
Harriet, for Mrs. Woodbourne's sake.

'Then I am to understand,' said Rupert, 'that Miss Hazleby has
presented Fido to this noble Adolphus, as a pledge of the tenderest
friendship, and that you and Kate act as confidants.'

'Nonsense, Rupert,' said Anne, trying to check him by a look.

'And I suppose,' proceeded Rupert, 'that the gentleman is to extract
poor Fido's faithful heart, and wear it next his own.  I never should
have devised so refined and sentimental a souvenir.  It is far beyond
forget-me-nots and arrows.  So professional too.'

Elizabeth and Anne laughed so much that they could neither of them
speak for some moments; but when Anne recovered, she took her brother
by the arm and whispered, 'Rupert, the less you say about the Turners
or Fido, the better.  I will explain it all to you when we have an
opportunity.'

Elizabeth thanked her by a look; and at this moment Dora, who had been
far in advance with Katherine and the Hazlebys, came running back to
beg Rupert to gather for her some fine bulrushes which grew on the
brink of the river.  Rupert was very willing to comply with her
request; but Elizabeth recommended Dora to leave them till they should
return, and not to take the trouble of carrying them to Whistlefar
Castle and back again.

Leaving the river, they began to ascend a steep chalky lane, which had
been wet all the winter, and was now full of rough hardened wheel-ruts
and holes made by slipping horses.  Elizabeth thought that Robert
Bruce's calthorps could hardly have made the ground more uneven, and
she was just going to say so, when Helen groaned out, 'What a horrid
place!  I slip and bruise my ancle every minute.' Upon which she
immediately took the other side of the question, and answered, 'It is
not nearly so bad as the long lane on the down, and you never complain
of that.'

'Oh! but this is all up-hill,' said Helen.

'I am not in the least tired, Helen,' said Dora, who with Rupert's
assistance was taking flying leaps over the ruts.

'You? no, I should think not,' said Helen, in so piteous a tone, that
Rupert very good-naturedly waited till she came up to him, and then
offered her his arm.

On seeing this, Harriet was rather vexed that she had not been first
noticed by the gentleman, and began to make heavy complaints of the
badness of the road, but no one paid much attention to her. Elizabeth
however gave her arm to Lucy, who never could bear much fatigue.

After they had gained the top of the hill, they walked on for some
distance between high hedges, and as none of the party knew the way
further than the river, except from some directions given them by Mr.
Walker, the Curate, they begun to think that they must have missed a
turn to the left, which he had told them to take.  Harriet and Helen
both declared that they had passed the turning; Katherine was sure they
had not; and Elizabeth said that she had seen a turn to the right some
way behind them, but that to the left was yet to come. As they could
not agree upon this question, Rupert walked onwards to explore, leaving
the young ladies to rest on the trunk of a tree lying by the side of
the road.  While he was gone, Elizabeth drew Helen aside, saying,
'Helen, you had better take care, I hope Rupert has not observed how
much out of humour you are.'

'I am not out of humour,' said Helen, according to the usual fashion of
denying such a charge.

'Then why do you look and speak as if you were?' said her sister; 'you
had better watch yourself.'

'I think you are enough to vex anyone, Lizzie,' said Helen; 'bringing
me ever so far out of the way on such a road as this, and then scolding
me for saying I do not like it.'

'I see,' answered Elizabeth, 'you are not in a fit state to be reasoned
with.'

'No,' retorted Helen, who had indulged in her ill-humour till she
hardly knew what she said, 'you will never condescend to hear what I
have to say.  Perhaps it might be as well sometimes if you would.'

'Yes, Helen,' said Elizabeth, colouring and turning away, 'it would
indeed.  I know I have given you a right to upbraid me.'

At this moment Rupert came back, cheering the drooping courage of the
wearied and heated damsels with intelligence, that 'there is no lane
without a turning,' and he had found the one they were seeking.

Things now went on better; they came to a shady green path by the side
of a wood, and Helen was more silent, her temper having perhaps been a
little improved by the coolness.  Soon, however, they had to cross two
long fields, where gleaning was going on merrily; Helen made several
complaints of the heat and of the small size of her parasol; and
Elizabeth had to catch Dora, and hold her fast, to prevent her from
overheating herself by a race after Rupert through the stubble.  At the
first stile, Harriet thought proper to make a great outcry, and was
evidently quite disposed for a romp, but Rupert helped her over so
quietly that she had no opportunity for one.  They now found themselves
in a grass field, the length of which made Helen sigh.

'Why, Helen, how soon you are tired!' said Rupert; 'I am afraid
Dykelands did not agree with you.'

'Helen is only a little cross, she will be better presently,' said
Dora, in so comical a tone, that Rupert, Katherine, and Harriet all
laughed, and Helen said sharply, 'Dora, do not be pert.'

Rupert was really a very good-natured youth, but it would have required
more forbearance than he possessed, to abstain from teazing so tempting
a subject as poor Helen was at this moment.

'And how do you know that Helen is a little cross, Dora, my dear?' said
he.

'Because she looks so,' said Dora.

'And how do people look when they are a little cross, Dora?'

'I do not know,' answered Dora.

'Do they look so, my dear?' said Rupert, mimicking poor Helen's
woe-begone face in a very droll way.

Dora laughed, and Helen was still more displeased.  'Dora, it is very
naughty,' said she.

'What! to look cross?' said Rupert; 'certainly, is it not, Dora?'

Elizabeth and Anne were far in the rear, reaching for some botanical
curiosity, on the other side of a wet ditch, or they would certainly
have put a stop to this conversation, which was not very profitable to
any of the parties concerned.  Dora was rather a matter-of-fact little
person, and a very good implement for teazing with, as she did not at
all suspect the use made of her, until a sudden thought striking her,
she stopped short, saying very decidedly, 'We will not talk of this any
more.'

'Why not?' said Rupert, rather sorry to be checked in the full
enjoyment of his own wit.

'Because Helen does not like it,' said Dora.

'But, Dora,' said Rupert, wishing to try the little girl rather
further, 'do not you think she deserves it, for being out of temper?'

'I do not know,' said Dora gravely, 'but I know it is not right or kind
to say what vexes her, and I shall not stay with you any longer,
Rupert, if you will do it.'

So saying, Dora, well-named Discreet Dolly, ran away to Lucy, of whom
she was very fond.

Rupert was both amused and surprised at Dora's behaviour, and perhaps,
at the same time, a little ashamed and piqued by a little girl of seven
years old having shewn more right feeling and self-command than he had
displayed; and to cover all these sensations, he began to talk nonsense
to Katherine and Harriet as fast as he could.

In the mean time Helen walked on alone, a little behind the rest of the
party; for by this time Elizabeth and Anne had come up with the others,
and had passed her.  As they entered a little copse, she began to
recollect herself.  She had from her infancy been accustomed to give
way to fits of peevishness and fretfulness, thinking that as long as
her ill-humour did not burst forth in open name, as Elizabeth's used
formerly to do, there was no great harm in letting it smoulder away,
and make herself and everyone else uncomfortable. Some time ago,
something had brought conviction to her mind that such conduct was not
much better than bearing malice and hatred in her heart, and she had
resolved to cure herself of the habit.  Then came her visit to
Dykelands, where everything went on smoothly, and there was little
temptation to give way to ill-humour, so that she had almost forgotten
her reflections on the subject, till the present moment, when she
seemed suddenly to wake and find herself in the midst of one of her old
sullen moods.  She struggled hard against it, and as acknowledging ill
temper is one great step towards conquering it, she soon recovered
sufficiently to admire the deep pink fruit of the skewer-wood, and the
waxen looking red and yellow berries of the wild guelder rose, when
suddenly the rear of the darkness dim which over-shadowed her spirits
was scattered by the lively din of a long loud whistle from Rupert, who
was concealed from her by some trees, a little in advance of her.  She
hastened forwards, and found him and all the others just emerged from
the wood, and standing on an open bare common where neither castle nor
cottage was to be seen, nothing but a carpet of purple heath, dwarf
furze, and short soft grass upon which a few cows, a colt, and a
donkey, were browsing.  The party were standing together, laughing,
some moderately, others immoderately.

'What is the matter?' asked Helen.

'I do not know,' said Elizabeth, 'unless Rupert is hallooing because he
is out of the wood.'

'Wait till you have heard my reasons unfolded,' said Rupert; 'did you
never hear how this celebrated fortress came by its name?'

'Never,' said several voices.

'Then listen, listen, ladies all,' said Rupert.  'You must know that
once upon a time there was a most beautiful princess, who lived in a
splendid castle, where she received all kinds of company.  Well, one
day, there arrived an old grim palmer, just like the picture of
Hopeful, in the Pilgrim's Progress, with a fine striped cockle-shell
sticking upright in his hat-band.  Well, the cockle-shell tickled the
Princess's fancy very much, and she made her pet knight (for she had as
many suitors as Penelope) promise that he would steal it from him that
very night.  So at the witching hour of midnight, the knight approached
the palmer's couch, and gently abstracted the cockle hat and staff,
placing in their stead, the jester's cap and bells, and bauble.  Next
morning when it was pitch dark, for it was the shortest day, up jumped
the palmer, and prepared to resume his journey.  Now it chanced that
the day before, the lady had ordered that the fool should be whipped,
for mocking her, when she could not get the marrow neatly out of a bone
with her fingers, and peeped into it like a hungry magpie; so that the
moment the poor palmer appeared in the court-yard, all the squires and
pages set upon him, taking him for the fool, and whipped him round and
round like any peg-top. Suddenly, down fell the cap and bells, and he
saw what had been done; upon which he immediately turned into an
enchanter, and commanded the Princess and all her train to fall into a
deep sleep, all excepting the knight who had committed the offence, who
is for ever riding up and down the castle court, repenting of his
discourtesy, with his face towards the tail of a cream-coloured donkey,
wearing a cap and bells for a helmet, with a rod for a lance, and a
cockle-shell for a shield, and star-fishes for spurs, and the Princess
can only be disenchanted by her devoted champion doing battle with him.
All, however, has vanished away from vulgar eyes, and can only be
brought to light by being thrice whistled for.  A slight tradition has
remained, and the place has ever since been known by the mysterious
name of Whistlefar.'

'And has no one ever found it?' said Dora.

'I cannot say,' answered Rupert.

'A deed of such high emprise can only be reserved for the great Prince
Rupert himself,' said Elizabeth.

'How can such nonsensical traditions be kept up?' said Harriet; 'I
thought everyone had forgotten such absurd old stories, only fit to
frighten children.'

'Oh! you know nobody believes them,' said Katherine.

'But, Rupert,' said Helen, 'this must be a modern story, it cannot be a
genuine old legend, it is really not according to the spirit of those
times to say that a palmer could be an enchanter, or so revengeful.'

'Oh!' said Rupert, 'you know everything bad is to be learnt among the
Saracens.'

'Still,' said Helen, 'if you consider the purpose for which the Palmers
visited the Holy Land, you cannot think them likely to learn the dark
rites of the Infidels, and scarcely to wish to gratify personal
resentment.'

'The frock does not make the friar,' said Rupert, 'and this may have
been a bad palmer.  Think of the Knights Templars.'

'Besides,' said Helen, 'how could the squires see either palmer or
jester when it was pitch dark?'

'I suppose there were lamps in the court,' said Rupert; 'but

          "I cannot tell how the truth may be,
           I tell the tale as 'twas told to me."'


'But who told you, Rupert?' said Helen.

'Why, the story of Red Mantle, Helen, cannot you see?' said Elizabeth;
'it was on the table all the morning.'

'O Lizzie, was there ever anything so cruel?' cried Rupert; 'Edie
Ochiltree was nothing to you.  Everyone was swallowing it so quietly,
and you will not even let me enjoy the credit of originality.'

'I am sure I give you credit due,' said Elizabeth; 'it is really an
ingenious compound of Red Mantle, the Sleeping Beauty, Robert of Paris,
and Triermain, and the cockle-shell shield and star-fish spurs form an
agreeable variation.'

'I never will tell another story in your presence, Lizzie,' said
Rupert, evidently vexed, but carrying it off with great good humour;
'you are worse than Quarterly, Edinburgh, and Blackwood put together.'

'I really think you deserved it, Rupert,' said Anne; 'I cannot pity
you, you ought not to laugh at the pilgrims.'

'Oh! I dare not open my lips before such devotees of crusading,' said
Rupert.

'And pray, Rupert,' said Elizabeth, 'what did you mean by comparing me
to Edie Ochiltree? did you mean to say that you were like Monkbarns?  I
never heard that that gentleman fabricated either legends or
curiosities, and made them pass for genuine ancient ones.'

At this moment, happily for Rupert, they came to the top of a small
rising ground, and beheld a farmhouse at about a hundred yards before
them.  Rupert whistled long and loud and shrill, and two or three of
the young ladies exclaimed, 'Is this Whistlefar Castle?'

'It is only enchanted,' said Elizabeth; 'clear away the mist of
incredulity from your eyes, and behold keep, drawbridge, tower and
battlement, and loop-hole grates where captives weep.'

It cannot be denied that the young party were a little disappointed by
the aspect of the renowned Whistlefar, but they did ample justice to
all that was to be seen; a few yards of very thick stone wall in the
court, a coat of arms carved upon a stone built into the wall upside
down, and the well-turned arch of the door-way.  Some, putting on Don
Quixote's eyes for the occasion, saw helmets in milk-pails, dungeons in
cellars, battle-axes in bill-hooks, and shields in pewter-plates,
called the baby in its cradle the sleeping Princess, agreed that the
shield must have been reversed by order of the palmer, and that one of
the cows was the mischievous knight's cream-coloured donkey; so that
laughter happily supplied the place of learned lore.

On the way home the party were not quite so merry, although Helen was
unusually agreeable, and enjoyed a very pleasant conversation with
Rupert and Anne, who, she was pleased to find, really thought her worth
talking to.  Elizabeth was occupied with Dora, who was tired, and
wanted to be cheered and amused.  She did not however forget her
bulrushes, and when they came in sight of them, she ran forwards to
claim Rupert's promise of gathering some for her and her little brother
and sister.  This was a service of difficulty, for some of the
bulrushes grew in the water, and others on deceitful ground, where a
pool appeared wherever Rupert set his foot.  With two or three strides
and leaps, however, he reached a little dry island, covered with a tuft
of sedges, in the midst of the marsh, and was reaching some of the
bulrushes with the hook of Anne's parasol, when he suddenly cried out,
'Hollo, what have we here?'

'What?' said some of the girls.

'A dead dog, I believe,' said Rupert.

'Oh! let me see,' cried Harriet, advancing cautiously over the morass.

'Are you curious in such matters. Miss Hazleby?' said Rupert, laughing,
as Harriet came splashing towards him through the wet, holding up her
frock with one hand, and stretching out the other to him, to be helped
upon the island.  He pulled her upon it safely, but it quaked
fearfully; and there was hardly room for them both to stand on it,
while Harriet, holding fast by Rupert's hand, bent forwards, beheld the
object of her curiosity, uttered a loud scream, lost her balance, and
would have fallen into the river had she not been withheld by Rupert's
strength of arm.  They both slipped down on the opposite sides of the
island, into the black mud, and Harriet precipitately retreated to the
mainland.

'Well, what is the matter?' said Elizabeth.

'Oh! my poor dear little doggie!' cried Harriet.

'Is it Fido?' said Elizabeth; 'then, Harriet, there is no fear of your
eating him in a sausage; you may be at rest on that score.'

'But can it really be Fido?' said Katherine, pressing forwards.

'Do you wish to see?' said Rupert, 'for if so, I advise you to make
haste, the island is sinking fast.'

'I am splashed all over, so I do not care.  Can I have one more look?'
said Harriet, in a melancholy voice.

Rupert handed her back to the island, where she took her last farewell
of poor Fido, all his long hair drenched with water, and the very same
blue ribbon which she had herself tied round his neck the day before,
floating, a funeral banner, on the surface of the stream. She
contemplated him until her weight and Rupert's had sunk the island so
much, that it was fast becoming a lake, while Elizabeth whispered to
Anne to propose presenting her with a forget-me-not, on Fido's part.

'I hope,' said Rupert, as they proceeded with their walk, 'that you are
fully sensible of poor Fido's generous self-sacrifice; he immolated
himself to remove, by the manner of his death, any suspicions of
Winifred's having the Fidophobia.'

'Perhaps,' said Elizabeth, 'he had some knowledge of the frightful
suspicions which attached to him, and, like the Irish varmint in St.
Patrick's days,

                      "went flop,
          Slap bang into the water,
          And thus committed suicide
          To save himself from slaughter."'


They now began to consider how Fido could have met with his death.
Harriet was sure that some naughty boy must have thrown him in.  Lucy
thought that in that case he would have lost his blue ribbon; Dora
indignantly repelled the charge of cruelty from the youth of
Abbeychurch; Elizabeth said such a puppy was very likely to fall off
the bridge; and Rupert decided that he had most probably been attacked
by a fit, to which, he said, half-grown puppies were often liable.

Rupert and Anne then began talking about a dog which they had lost some
time ago in nearly the same manner; and during this dialogue the party
divided, Harriet and Katherine walked on in close consultation, and
Lucy and Helen began helping Dora to sort and carry her bulrushes,
which detained them behind the others.

'What appears to me the most mysterious part of the story,' said
Rupert, 'is how the beloved Fido, petted and watched and nursed and
guarded as he seems to have been, should have contrived to stray from
your house as far as to the river.'

'Oh! that is no mystery at all,' said Elizabeth; 'we crossed the bridge
twice yesterday evening, and I dare say we left him behind us there.'

'What could you have been doing on the bridge yesterday evening?' said
Rupert.  'Oh! I know; I saw the people coming away from a tee-total
entertainment; you were certainly there, Anne, I hope you enjoyed it.'

'How very near the truth you do contrive to get, Rupert,' said
Elizabeth.

'Then,' cried Rupert, with a start, 'I see it all.  I thought you all
looked very queer at breakfast.  I understand it all.  You have been to
the Mechanics' Institute.'

'Yes, Rupert,' said Elizabeth.

'No, but you do not mean to say that you really have, Lizzie and Anne,'
cried Rupert, turning round to look into their faces.

Each made a sign of assent; and Rupert, as soon as he had recovered
from his astonishment, burst into a violent fit of laughter, which
lasted longer than either his sister or cousin approved, and it was not
till after he had been well scolded by both, that he chose to listen to
their full account of all that had passed on the subject.

'The worst of it is, now,' said Elizabeth, 'that as soon as Mrs.
Hazleby hears that Fido has been found in the river, she will ask how
he came near it.'

'And what then?' said Anne.

'Why, she well knows that the bridge is not a place to which we are
likely to resort; she will ask what took us there; I would not trust
Harriet to tell the truth, and I have promised not to betray her, so
what is to be done if Mrs. Hazleby asks me?' said Elizabeth.

'I hope she will not ask her youngest daughter,' said Anne.

'That she shall not do,' said Elizabeth: 'I will tell her myself that
Fido was found in the river, and answer all her questions as best I
can.'

'It is rather a pity,' said Anne archly, 'that Miss Hazleby did not
actually fall into the river, for the sensation caused by Rupert's
rescuing her would quite have absorbed all the interest in Fido's
melancholy fate.'

'Thank you, Anne,' said Rupert; 'I am sure I only wonder she was not
submerged.  I never could have guessed any fair lady could be so heavy.
I am sure I feel the claw she gave my arm at this moment.'

'How very ungallant!' said Anne.

'Still,' said Rupert, 'without appearing as the preserver of the fair
Harriet from a watery grave, I think I have interest enough with Mrs.
Hazleby to be able to break the fatal news to her, and calm her first
agonies of grief and wrath.'

'You, Rupert?' said Anne.

'Myself, Anne,' replied Rupert; 'you have no notion what friends Mrs.
Hazleby and I have become.  We had a tete-a-tete of an hour and a half
this morning.'

'What could you find to talk about?' said Anne.

'First,' said Rupert, 'she asked about my grouse shooting; where I
went, and with whom, and whether I had seen any of the Campbells of
Inchlitherock.  Of course we embarked in a genealogy of the whole
Campbell race; then came a description of the beauties of
Inchlitherock.   Next I was favoured with her private history; how she,
being one of thirteen, was forced, at eighteen, to leave the lovely
spot, and embark with her brother for India.'

'On speculation,' said Elizabeth.

'And finally, how she came to marry the Major.'

'O Rupert, that is too much; you must have invented it!' cried Anne.

'Indeed I did not, Anne,' said Rupert; 'it is a fact that she lived
somewhere in the Mofussil with her brother, and there she encountered
the Major.  You, young ladies, may imagine how she fascinated him, and
how finally her brother seems to have bullied the Major into marrying
her.'

'Poor man!' said Elizabeth, 'I always wondered how he chanced to fall
into her clutches.  But did you hear no more?'

'No more of her personal history,' said Rupert; 'she kindly employed
the rest of her time in giving me wise counsels.'

'Oh! pray let us have the benefit of them,' said Anne, who had by this
time pretty well forgotten her prudence.

'There were many regrets that I was not in the army,' said Rupert, 'and
many pieces of advice which would have been very useful if I had, but
which I am afraid were thrown away upon me, ending with wise
reflections upon the importance of a wise choice of a wife, especially
for a young man of family, exposed to danger from designing young
ladies, with cautions against beauty because of its perishable nature,
and learning, because literary ladies are fit for nothing.'

'Meaning to imply,' said Elizabeth, 'how fortunate was Major Hazleby in
meeting with so sweet a creature as the charming Miss Barbara Campbell,
possessed of neither of these dangerous qualities.'

'I do not know,' said Anne; 'I think she might have possessed some of
the former when she left Inchlitherock.'

'Before twenty years of managing and scolding had fixed her eyes in one
perpetual stare,' said Elizabeth.  'But here we are at home.'

They found the hall table covered with parcels, which shewed that Mrs.
Woodbourne and her party had returned from their drive, and the girls
hastened up-stairs.

Anne found her mamma in her room, as well as Sir Edward, who was
finishing a letter.

'Well, Mamma, had you a prosperous journey?' said she.

'Yes, very much so,' said Lady Merton: 'Mrs. Hazleby was in high
good-humour, she did nothing but sing Rupert's praises, and did not
scold Mrs. Woodbourne as much as usual.'

'And what have you been doing, Miss Anne?' said Sir Edward; 'you are
quite on the qui vive.'

'Oh! I have been laughing at the fun which Rupert and Lizzie have been
making about Mrs. Hazleby,' said Anne; 'I really could not help it,
Mamma, and I do not think I began it.'

'Began what?' said Sir Edward.

'Why, Mamma was afraid I should seem to set Lizzie against her
step-mother's relations, if I quizzed them or abused them,' said Anne.

'I do not think what you could say would make much difference in
Lizzie's opinion of them,' said Sir Edward, 'but certainly I should
think they were not the best subjects of conversation here.'

'But I have not told you of the grand catastrophe,' said Anne; 'we have
found poor Fido drowned among the bulrushes.'

'I hope Mrs. Woodbourne will be happy again,' said Lady Merton.

'And, Mamma, he must have fallen in while we were at the Mechanics'
Institute,' said Anne; 'there is one bad consequence of our folly
already.'

'I cannot see what induced you to go,' said Sir Edward; 'I thought
Lizzie had more sense.'

'I believe the actual impulse was given by a dispute between Lizzie and
me on the date of chivalry,' said Anne.

'And so Rupert's friends, the Turners, are great authorities in
history,' said Sir Edward; 'I never should have suspected it.'

'Now I think of it,' said Anne, 'it was the most ridiculous part of the
affair, considering the blunder that Lizzie told me Mrs. Turner made
about St. Augustine.  What could we have been dreaming of?'

'Midsummer madness,' said Sir Edward.

'But just tell me, Papa,' said Anne, 'do you not think Helen quite the
heroine of the story?'

'I think Helen very much improved in appearance and manners,' said Sir
Edward; 'and I am quite willing to believe all that I see you have to
tell me of her.'

'Do not wait to tell it now, Anne,' said Lady Merton, 'or Mrs.
Woodbourne will not think us improved in appearance or manners. It is
nearly six o'clock.'

'I will keep it all for the journey home,' said Anne, 'when Papa's ears
will be disengaged.'

'And his tongue too, to give you a lecture upon Radicalism, Miss,' said
Sir Edward, with a fierce gesture, which drove Anne away laughing.

Elizabeth had finished dressing, a little too rapidly, and had gone to
find Mrs. Woodbourne.  'Well, Mamma,' said she, as soon as she came
into her room, 'Winifred has lived to say 'the dog is dead'.'

'What do you mean, my dear?' said Mrs. Woodbourne.

'The enemy is dead, Mamma,' said Elizabeth; 'we found him drowned by
the green meadow.'

'Poor little fellow! your aunt will be very sorry,' was kind Mrs.
Woodbourne's remark.

'But now, Mamma,' said Elizabeth, 'you may be quite easy about
Winifred; he could not possibly have been mad.'

'How could he have fallen in, poor little dog?' said Mrs. Woodbourne.

'He must have strayed about upon the bridge while we were at the
Mechanics' Institute,' said Elizabeth; 'it was all my fault, and I am
afraid it is a very great distress to Lucy.  Helen might well say
mischief would come of our going.'

'I wish the loss of Fido was all the mischief likely to come of it, my
dear,' said Mrs. Woodbourne, with a sigh; 'I am afraid your papa will
be very much annoyed by it, with so much as he has on his mind too.'

'Ah! Mamma, that is the worst of it, indeed,' said Elizabeth, covering
her face with her hands; 'if I could do anything--'

'My dearest child,' said Mrs. Woodbourne, 'do not go on making yourself
unhappy, I am very sorry I said anything about your Papa; you know he
cannot be angry with one who grieves so sincerely for what she has done
amiss.  I am sure you have learnt a useful lesson, and will be wiser in
future.  Now do put your scarf even, and let me pin this piece of lace
straight for you, it is higher on one side than the other, and your
band is twisted.'

On her side, Lucy, trembling as she entered her mother's room, but firm
in her purpose of preserving her sister from the temptation to
prevaricate, by taking all the blame which Mrs. Hazleby chose to
ascribe to her, quietly communicated the fatal intelligence to Mrs.
Hazleby.  Her information was received with a short angry 'H--m,' and
no more was said upon the matter, as Mrs. Hazleby was eager to shew
Harriet some wonderful bargains which she had met with at Baysmouth.



CHAPTER XI.


As soon as Mrs. Hazleby made her appearance in the drawing-room before
dinner, Rupert began repeating,

          'The wound it seemed both sore and sad
             To every Christian eye,
           And while they swore the dog was mad,
             They swore the child would die,

           But soon a wonder came to light,
             That shewed the rogues they lied,
           The child recovered of the bite,
             It was the dog that died.'


'I beg to offer my congratulations,' continued he, setting a chair for
her.

Mrs. Hazleby looked surprised.

'On the demonstration we have this day received of your superior
judgement, Ma'am,' said Rupert, 'though indeed we could hardly have
doubted it before.'

'Pray let me understand you, Mr. Merton,' said Mrs. Hazleby.

'Have you not heard of the circumstance to which I allude?' said
Rupert; 'for if you are not already aware of it, I must beg to be
excused from relating it; I could not bear to give so great a shock to
a lady's feelings.'

'Oh! you mean about Fido,' said Mrs. Hazleby, almost smiling; 'yes,
Lucy told me that you had found him.  Really, my girls are so careless,
I can trust nothing to them.'

'Indeed, Madam,' said Rupert, 'I assure you that nothing could have
been more heart-rending than the scene presented to our eyes when the
Miss Hazlebys first became aware of the untimely fate of their
favourite.  Who could behold it with dry eye--or dry foot?' added he,
in an under-tone, with a side glance at Anne.

Rupert contrived to talk so much nonsense to Mrs. Hazleby, that he
charmed her with his attention, gave her no time to say anything about
Fido, and left Anne much surprised that she had never found out that he
was laughing at her.  At dinner, the grouse he had brought came to
their aid; Mrs. Hazleby was delighted to taste a blackcock once more,
and was full of reminiscences of Inchlitherock; and by means of these
recollections, and Rupert's newly imported histories, Sir Edward and
Mr. Woodbourne contrived to make the conversation more entertaining
than Elizabeth thought it ever could be in any party in which Mrs.
Hazleby was present.

Afterwards in the drawing-room, Dora's bulrushes and the other
children's purchases were duly admired, and the little people, being
rather fatigued, were early sent to bed, although Edward vehemently
insisted, with his eyes half shut, that he was not in the least sleepy.
The elder girls then arranged themselves round the table. Helen was
working a bunch of roses of different colours; Anne admired it very
much, but critics were not wanting to this, as to every other
performance of Helen's.

'It is all very pretty except that rose,' said Katherine, 'but I am
sure that is an unnatural colour.--Is it not, Anne?'

'I do not think that I ever saw one like it,' said Anne; 'but that is
no proof that there is no such flower.'

'What do you think, Lizzie?' said Katherine; 'ought not Helen to alter
it?'

Anne was rather alarmed by this appeal; but Elizabeth answered
carelessly, without looking up, 'Oh! you know I know nothing about that
kind of work.'

'But you can tell what colour a rose is,' persisted Katherine; 'now do
not you think Helen will spoil her work with that orange-coloured rose?
who ever heard of such a thing?'

Helen was on the point of saying that one of the gable-ends of the
house at Dykelands was covered with a single rose of that colour, but
she remembered that Dykelands was not a safe subject, and refrained.

'Come, do not have a York and Lancaster war about an orange-coloured
rose, Kate,' said Elizabeth, coming up to Helen; 'why, Anne, where are
your eyes? did you never see an Austrian briar, just the the colour of
Helen's lambs-wools?'

Though this was a mere trifle, Helen was pleased to find that Elizabeth
could sometimes be on her side of the question, and worked on in a more
cheerful spirit.

'Why, Anne,' said Elizabeth, presently after, 'you are doing that old
wreath over again, that you were about last year, when I was at Merton
Hall.'

'Yes,' said Anne; 'it is a pattern which I like very much.'

'Do you like working the same thing over again?' said Katherine; 'I
always get tired of it.'

'I like it very much,' said Anne; 'going over the same stitches puts me
in mind of things that were going on when I was working them
before.--Now, Lizzie, the edge of that poppy seems to have written in
it all that delightful talk we had together, at home, about growing up,
that day when Papa and Mamma dined out, and we had it all to ourselves.
And the iris has the whole of Don Quixote folded up in it, because Papa
was reading it to us, when I was at work upon it.'

'There certainly seems to be a use and pleasure in never sitting down
three minutes without that carpet-work, which I should never have
suspected,' said Elizabeth.

'Anne thinks as I do,' said Mrs. Woodbourne; 'I find carpet-work quite
a companion to me, but I cannot persuade Lizzie to take any pleasure in
it.'

'I have not time for it,' said Elizabeth, 'nor patience if I had time.
It is all I can persuade myself to do to keep my clothes from being
absolute rags.'

'Yes,' said Katherine; 'you always read with Meg in your lap, when you
have no mending to do; you have been six months braiding that frock.'

'Oh! that is company work,' said Elizabeth; 'I began it at Merton Hall
for Dora, but I believe Winifred must have it now.  But now it is so
nearly done, that I shall finish while you are here.'

Elizabeth did not however long continue working, for as soon as tea was
over she proposed to play at the game of Conglomeration, as she had
talked of doing in the course of the walk.  'I give notice, however,'
said she, 'that we are likely to laugh more than will suit the gravity
of the elders, therefore I recommend adjourning to the inner
drawing-room.--Mamma, may we have candles there?'

Consent was given, and while the candles were being brought, and
Elizabeth was looking out some paper, Anne whispered to her brother,
'Rupert, pray say nothing about Fido, or the Mechanics' Institute, or
something unpleasant will surely come of it.'

'Oh! Anne,' was the answer, 'you have robbed me of my best couplet--

          Weeping like forsaken Dido,
          When she found the slaughtered Fido.

Where is the use of playing if there is to be no fun?'

''Where is the use of fun?' said the cockchafer to the boy who was
spinning it,' said Anne.

'Impertinence, impertinence, impertinence,' said Rupert, shaking his
head at her.

By this time all was ready, and Elizabeth called the brother and sister
to take their places at the table in the inner drawing-room. She then
wrote a substantive at the upper end of a long strip of paper, and
folding it down, handed it on to Lucy, who also wrote a noun, turned it
down, and gave the paper to Helen, who, after writing hers and hiding
it, passed it on to Rupert.  Thus the paper was handed round till it
was filled.  It was then unrolled, and each player was required to
write a copy of verses in which these words were to be introduced as
rhymes in the order in which they stood in the list.  Rupert was rather
put out by his sister's not allowing him to turn the poem in the way he
wished, and he thought proper to find fault with half the words in the
list.

'HARROGATE,' said he, 'what is to be done with such a word?'

'You can manage it very well if you choose,' said Elizabeth.

'But who could have thought of such a word?' said he, holding up the
list to the candle, and scrutinizing the writing.  'Some one with a
watery taste, doubtless.'

'You know those things are never divulged,' said Anne.

'FRANCES, too,' continued Rupert, 'there is another impossible case; I
will answer for it, Helen wrote that, a reminiscence of dear Dykelands.'

'No, indeed I did not,' said Helen; 'it is FRANCIS, too, I believe.'

'Oh yes,' said Harriet, 'it is FRANCIS, I wrote it, because--do not you
remember, Lucy?--Frank Hollis--'

'Well, never mind,' said Elizabeth, who wished to hear no more of that
gentleman; 'you may make it whichever you please.  And Rupert, pray do
not be so idle; put down the list, no one can see it; write your own
verses, and tell me the next word to witch.'

'EYES,' said Rupert, 'and then BOUNCE.  I do not believe that word is
English.'

'BOUNCE, no,' said Katherine; 'it is BONNET, I wrote it myself.'

'Then why do you make your 't' so short?' said Rupert; 'I must give you
a writing lesson, Miss Kitty.'

'I must give you a lesson in silence, Mr. Rupert,' said Elizabeth.

'I obey,' said Rupert, with a funny face of submission, and taking up
his paper and pencil; but in a minute or two he started up, exclaiming,
'What are they saying about Oxford?' and walked into the next room,
intending to take part in the conversation between his father and
uncle.  Mr. Woodbourne, however, who was no great admirer of Rupert's
forwardness, did not shew so much deference to his nephew's opinion as
to make him very unwilling to return to the inner drawing-room, when
Anne came to tell him that all the poems were finished, and Elizabeth
ready to read them aloud.

'So this is all that you have to shew for yourself,' said Elizabeth,
holding up a scrap of paper; 'what is all this?'

'A portrait of Miss Merton,' said Rupert; 'do not you see the poet's
eye in a fine frenzy rolling?'

'Is it?' said Elizabeth; 'I took it for Miss Squeers in the agonies of
death, as I see that is the subject of the poem--all that there is of
it, at least.

    Did ever you see a stupider POEM?
    Pray who is the author?  I know him, I know him,
    He went to school to Mr. Squeers,
    Who often made the youth shed TEARS.

Now for the next, which is nearly as short.


    I will write a POEM,
    Clear and flowing,
    It will make you shed TEARS,
    And excite your fears.
    'Tis about a witch,
    Drowned in a ditch,
    Your tears come from your EYES.
    If you are wise,
    Don't make a BOUNCE,
    Or you'll tear your flounce,
    And upset the sugar JAR,
    Which I cannot spare,
    I must give some to FRANCIS,
    So well he dances;
    Sugar canes packed up in LEAVES,
    The canes are tied up like wheat sheaves;
    Francis wears a scarlet JACKET,
    He made a dreadful racket
    At HARROGATE,
    Because he had to wait,
    In a field of BARLEY,
    To hold a parley,
    About a bone of marrow;
    His heart was transfixed by an ARROW,
    By a lady in VELVET,
    And he was her pet.'


All laughed heartily at this poem, which perhaps diverted them more
than a better would have done; Harriet was highly delighted with what
she considered their applause, though she knew that of all the rhymes,
scarcely three had been found by herself.

'Why, Mr. Merton, what are you doing?' asked Harriet; 'are you writing
any more?'

'Oh! I hope he will tell us about Mr. Squeers,' said Katherine.

No one could doubt that the next which Elizabeth read was her own.


    I'm afraid you expect a beautiful POEM,
    Though I make a long and tedious proem,
    But great and dreadful are my fears,
    No poem of mine will put you in TEARS.
    My genius suggests neither fairy nor witch,
    My tales to adorn with cauldrons of pitch,
    Alarm the world with fiery EYES,
    And from the hero snatch his prize,
    Leap out from her den with a terrible BOUNCE,
    And on the trembling damsel pounce,
    And bottle her up in a close corked JAR,
    Or whirl her away in a flaming car;
    Then her knight, the brave Sir FRANCIS,
    Upon his noble steed advances,
    All his armour off he LEAVES,
    Preserves alone his polished greaves,
    His defence is a buff JACKET,
    Nor sword nor axe nor lance can crack it,
    It was made at HARROGATE,
    By a tailor whose shop had a narrow gate;
    The elves attack with spears of BARLEY,
    But he drives them off, oh! rarely,
    Then they shoot him with an ARROW,
    From bow-strings greased with ear-wigs' marrow,
    The feathers, moth-wings downy VELVET,
    The bow-strings, of the spider's net:
    Thousands come, armed in this PATTERN,
    Which proves their mistress is no slattern;
    Some wear the legs and hoof of PAN,
    And some are in the form of man;
    But the knight is armed, for in his POCKET
    He has a talismanic locket,
    Which once belonged to HERCULES,
    Who wore it on his bunch of keys;
    The fairy comes, quite old and fat,
    Mounted upon a monstrous BAT;
    Around the knight a web she weaves,
    And holds him fast, and there she LEAVES
    Sir Francis weeping for his charmer,
    And longing for his knightly ARMOUR.
    But his sword was cast in the self-same forge
    As that of the great champion GEORGE;
    Thus he defies the witch's ARMY,
    He breaks his bands; 'Ye elves, beware me,
    I fear not your LEVIATHAN,
    No spells can stop a desperate man.'
    Away in terror flies the REAR-GUARD,
    He seizes on the witch abhorred,
    Confines her in a COCKLE SHELL,
    And breaks all her enchantments fell,
    Catches her principal LIEUTENANT,
    Makes him of a split pine the tenant;
    Carries away the lady, nimble,
    As e'er Miss Merton plied her THIMBLE;
    Oh! this story would your frowns unbend.
    Could I tell it to the END.


'Oh!' said Rupert, glad to seize an opportunity of retaliating upon
Elizabeth; 'I give you credit; a very ingenious compound of Thalaba,
Pigwiggin, and the Tempest, and the circumstance of the witch whirling
away the lady is something new.'

'No, it is not,' said Elizabeth; 'it is the beginning of the story of
the Palace of Truth, in the Veillees du Chateau.  I only professed to
conglomerate the words, not to pass off my story as a regular old
traditional legend.'

'Well, well,' said Rupert; 'go on; have you only two more?'

'Only two,' said Elizabeth; 'Kate and Lucy behaved as shabbily as you
did.  Helen, I believe you must read yours.  I can never read your
writing readily, and besides, I am growing hoarse.'

Helen obeyed.


    How hard it is to write a POEM,
      Graceful and witty, plain and clear,
    Harder than ploughing--'tis, or sowing,
      So hard that I should shed a TEAR.

    Did I not know the highest pitch
      Of merit, in the poet's EYES
    Is but to laugh, a height to WHICH
      'Tis not so hard for me to rise.

    For badness soon is gained, forth BOUNCE
      My rhymes such as they are;
    Good critics, on my lines don't pounce,
      Though on the ear they JAR.

    I've had a letter from dear FRANCES,
      Who says, through the light plane tree LEAVES,
    Upon the lawn the sun-beam glances,
      The wheat is bound up in its sheaves

    By Richard, in the fustian JACKET
      His mistress bought at HARROGATE,
    And up in lofty ricks they stack it,
      There for the threshing will it wait.

    Then will they turn to fields of BARLEY,
      Bearded and barbed with many an ARROW,
    Just where the fertile soil is marly,
      And in the spring was used the harrow.

    Drawn by the steeds in coats of VELVET,
      Old Steady, Jack, and Slattern,
    Their manes well combed, and black as jet,
      Their tails in the same PATTERN.

    While Richard's son, with pipe of PAN,
      His hands within his POCKETS,
    Walks close beside the old plough-man,
      Dreaming of squibs and rockets.

    That youth, he greatly loves his ease,
      He's growing much too fat,
    And though as strong as HERCULES,
      He'll only use his BAT.

    He won't sweep up the autumn LEAVES,
      The tree's deciduous ARMOUR,
    No scolding Dickey's spirit grieves
      Like working like a farmer,

    Or labouring like his cousin GEORGE,
      With arms all bare and brawny,
    Within the blacksmith's glowing forge;
      He would be in the ARMY.

    But no, young Dick, you're not the man
      Our realms to watch and ward,
    For worse than a LEVIATHAN
      You'd dread the foe's REAR-GUARD,

    And in the storm of shot and SHELL,
      You'd soon desert your pennant,
    Care nought for serjeant, corporal,
      Or general LIEUTENANT,

    But prove yourself quite swift and nimble,
      And thus would meet your END;
    No, better take a tailor's THIMBLE
      And learn your ways to mend.


'Capital, Helen!' said Elizabeth.

'How very pretty!' said Lucy.

'And very well described,' said Anne; 'you have brought in those
ungainly words most satisfactorily.'

'Now, Helen, here is Anne's,' said Elizabeth; 'it is a choice one, and
I have kept it for the last.'

'Let me read Anne's,' said Rupert; 'no one can decypher her writing as
well as I can.'

'As was proved by the thorough acquaintance you shewed with the
contents of her last letter,' said Elizabeth.

Rupert began as follows:

    Now must I write in numbers flowing
    Extemporaneously a POEM?


'Why, Rupert,' cried Anne, 'you must be reading Kate's.  Mine began
with--'

'I declare that I have yours in my hand, Anne,' said Rupert.

'And I did not write one,' said Katherine.


    Now must I write in numbers flowing
    Extemporaneously a POEM?
    One that will fill your eyes with TEARS,
    While I relate how our worst fears
    Were realized in yonder ditch.
    Conveyed there by some water-WITCH,
    We found, sad sight for longing EYES!
    Fido, much loved, though small in size.
    Hard fate, but while our tears bemoan it,
    Let us take up the corpse and BONE it,
    Then place the mummy in a JAR,
    Keep it from sausage-makers far,
    Extract his heart to send to FRANCIS;
    This gift from HER, his soul entrances,
    Within his scarlet gold-laced JACKET
    His heart makes a tremendous racket;
    Visions of bliss arise, a surrogate,
    Ay, and a wedding tour to HARROGATE.


When Rupert came to Fido, Anne uttered one indignant 'Rupert!' but as
he proceeded, she was too much confounded to make the slightest
demonstration, and yet she was nearly suffocated with laughter in the
midst of her vexation, when she thought of the ball at Hull, and 'Frank
Hollis.'  Elizabeth and Katherine too were excessively diverted, though
the former repented of having ever proposed such a game for so
incongruous a party.  There was a little self-reproach mingled even
with Anne's merriment, for she felt that if she had more carefully
abstained from criticising the Hazlebys, or from looking amused by what
was said of them, Rupert would hardly have attempted this piece of
impertinence.  Helen, who considered it as a most improper proceeding,
sat perfectly still and silent, with a countenance full of demure
gravity, which made Elizabeth and Anne fall into fresh convulsions as
they looked at her; Lucy only blushed; and as for Harriet, the last two
lines could scarcely be heard, for her exclamations of, 'O Mr. Merton,
that is too bad!  O Mr. Merton, how could you think of such a thing?  O
Mr. Merton, I can never forgive you!  Oh dear! Oh dear!  I shall never
stop laughing.  Oh dear!  Mr. Merton, what would Frank Hollis say to
you? how ridiculous!'

'Now for Anne's real poem, Rupert,' said Elizabeth, not choosing to
make any remarks, lest Rupert should consider them as compliments.

'Have you not heard it?' said Rupert.

'Nonsense,' said Elizabeth.

'Why, I told you I had it in my hand,' said Rupert.

'And you have it still,' said Elizabeth; 'deliver it up, if you please;
it is the best of all, I can tell you, I had a cursory view of it.'

'No, no,' said Anne, who saw that her brother meant to teaze her, and
not to restore her verses; 'it was a very poor performance, it is much
better for my fame that it should never be seen.  Only think what a
sublime notion the world will have of it, when it is said that even the
great Rupert himself is afraid to let it appear.'

Elizabeth made another attempt to regain the poem, but without effect,
and Anne recalled the attention of all to Helen's verses.

'What is a pennant?' said Elizabeth; 'I do not like words to be twisted
for the sake of the rhyme.'

A flag,' said Helen.

'I never doubted that you intended it for a flag,' said Elizabeth; 'but
what I complain of is, that it is a transmogrified pennon.'

'I believe a pennant to be a kind of flag,' said Helen.

'Let us refer the question to Papa,' said Anne, 'as soon as he has
finished that interminable conversation with Uncle Woodbourne.'

'Really, in spite of that slight blemish,' said Elizabeth, 'your poem
is the best we have heard, Helen.'

'And I can testify,' said Rupert, 'that the description of the
cart-horses at Dykelands is perfectly correct.  But, Helen, is it true
that your friend Dicky has been seized with a fit of martial ardour
such as you describe?'

'Yes,' said Helen, 'he was very near enlisting, but it made his mother
very unhappy, and Mrs. Staunton--'

'Went down upon her knees to beseech him to remain, and let her roast
beef be food for him, not himself be food for powder,' said Rupert,
'never considering how glad the parish would be to get rid of him.'

'No,' said Helen, 'her powder became food for him; she made him
under-gamekeeper.'

'Excellent, Helen, you shine to-night,' cried Elizabeth; 'such a bit of
wit never was heard from you before.'

'Your poem is a proof that the best way of being original is to
describe things as you actually see them,' said Anne.

'Is not mine original?  I do not think it was taken from any book,'
said Harriet, willing to pick up a little more praise.

'Not perhaps from any book,' said Elizabeth, with a very grave face;
'but I am afraid we must convict you of having borrowed from the mother
of books, Oral tradition.'

'Oral tradition!' repeated Harriet, opening her mouth very wide.

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'for I cannot help imagining that the former
part of your ode is a parody upon

            "I'll tell you a story
          About Jack A'Nory,
             And now my story's begun;
          I'll tell you another
             About Jack and his brother,
          And now my story is done."

And that your friend Francis must have been the hero who complains so
grievously of Taffy the Welshman, whose house was doubtless situated in
a field of barley, while his making a dreadful racket is quite
according to the ancient notions of what he did with the marrow-bone.'

'Oh! there is Papa looking in at us,' said Anne; 'now for the question
of pennon and pennant.'

'Oh! Anne, it is all nonsense,' cried Helen; 'do not shew it.'

But Anne, with Helen's paper in her hand, had already attacked Sir
Edward, who, to the author's great surprise, actually read the poem all
through, smiling very kindly, and finished by saying, 'Ah ha! Helen, it
is plain enough that your friends are naval.  I can see where your
pennant came from.'

'But is it not a flag, Uncle Edward?' asked Helen.

'A flag it is,' said Sir Edward, 'and properly called and spelt
pendant.'

'There, Helen, you are an antidote to the hydrophobia,' said Rupert;
'everything becomes--'

'Do not let us have any more of that stale joke,' said Elizabeth; 'it
is really only a poetical license to use a sea-flag for a land-flag,
and Helen had the advantage of us, since we none of us knew that
Pennant signified anything but the naturalist.'

'And pray, Helen,' said Sir Edward, 'am I to consider this poem as an
equivalent for the music you have cheated us of, this evening?'

'I hope you will consider that it is,' said Elizabeth; 'is it not
positively poetical, Uncle Edward?'

Helen was hardly ever in a state of greater surprise and pleasure than
at this moment, for though she could not seriously believe that her
lines were worthy of all the encomiums bestowed on them, yet she was
now convinced that Elizabeth was not absolutely determined to
depreciate every performance of hers, and that she really possessed a
little kindness for her.

When Mr. Woodbourne rang the bell, Elizabeth gathered up all the
papers, and was going to put them into a drawer, when Harriet came up
to her, saying in a whisper, evidently designed to attract notice,
'Lizzie, do give me that ridiculous thing, you know, of Mr. Merton's; I
could not bear you to have it, you would shew it to everyone.'

'Indeed I should do no such thing,' said Elizabeth; 'I never wish to
see it more, you are very welcome to it.'

Harriet received the precious document with great satisfaction,
carefully folded it up, and placed it in her bag, very much to Rupert's
delight, as he silently watched her proceedings.

When they went up to bed, Anne followed Lady Merton to her room, in
order to ask some question about the dress which she was to wear the
next day, Sunday, and after remaining with her a few minutes, she
returned to Elizabeth.  She found her looking full of trouble, quite a
contrast to the bright animated creature she had been a few minutes
before.

'My dear Lizzie,' exclaimed Anne, 'has anything happened? what has
grieved you?'

'Why, Anne,' said Elizabeth, with almost a groan, 'has not enough
happened to grieve me? is it not terrible to think of what I have done?'

Anne stood still and silent, much struck by her cousin's sorrow; for
she had considered their expedition to the Mechanics' Institute as a
foolish girlish frolic, but by no means as serious a matter as it now
proved to be.

'I want you to tell me, Anne,' continued Elizabeth; 'was I not quite
out of my senses yesterday evening?  I can hardly believe it was myself
who went to that horrible place, I wish you could prove that it was my
double-ganger.'

Anne laughed,

'But does it not seem incredible,' said Elizabeth, 'that I, Elizabeth
Woodbourne, should have voluntarily meddled with a radical, levelling
affair, should have sought out Mrs. Turner and all the set I most
dislike, done perhaps an infinity of mischief, and all because Kate
wanted to go out on a party of pleasure with that foolish Willie. Oh!
Anne, I wish you would beat me.'

'Would that be any comfort to you?' said Anne, smiling.

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'I should feel as if I was suffering a little
for my madness.  Oh! how I hope Papa will speak to me about it.  If he
does not, I shall see his displeasure in his eyes, and oh! I could bear
anything better than the silent stern way in which he used to look at
me, once before, when I had behaved very ill.  And then, to-morrow is
Sunday, and I shall scarcely see him all day, and he will have no time
to speak to me; and how can I get through a Sunday, feeling that he is
angry with me? how shall I teach the children, or do anything as usual?
Anne, what do you think was the first sound in my ears when I awoke
this morning, and has been returning upon me all day?--the words, "It
was a tree to be desired to make one wise."'

'Little wisdom we have gained from it,' said Anne.

'Eve's wisdom,' said Elizabeth, 'the knowledge of evil, and the wisdom
of vanity and vexation of spirit.  But was it not curious, Anne? when
first I woke, before I had opened my eyes, those words were sounding in
my ears, like a dream of Papa's voice, reading the Lesson at church; I
almost fell asleep again, and again those words came back in Papa's
voice, and then I woke entirely, and before I had seen what kind of day
it was, before I knew whether it was Saturday or Sunday, I was sure
there was something wrong, and then there was all this black Mechanics'
Institute business before me.  And all through this day those words
have been ringing in my ears, and coming upon me like the pressure of
King James's iron belt.'

'Have they indeed?' said Anne, 'I could hardly have believed it. I have
not seen your "look o'ercast and lower," like his.'

'Perhaps not,' said Elizabeth; 'but yet I was like him.

          "Forward he rushed with double glee
           Into the tide of revelry."

And I believe that having anything on my mind puts me in wilder
spirits, apparently, than usual, but I am sure that my merriment to-day
was no proof that I was happy.  It was partly, I believe, from a mad
spirit, like what drives wicked men to drinking, and partly from folly
and levity.  It was the same when Mamma's sister, Miss Dorothea
Hazleby, died; I am sure I was very sorry for Aunt Dorothy, for she was
a most amiable person, and had always been particularly kind to me, and
I was very sorry too for Mamma and old Mrs. Hazleby, who were
broken-hearted about it; yet would you believe it? the very day that
Papa was gone to Hastings, to the funeral, and Mamma was at home, too
ill and too wretched to go, even to her mother, I was out in the garden
with Horace and Dora, forgot all about her distress, and began a noisy
game with them close under her window.  She sent Kate to tell them not
to make such a noise; and when we came in, and she found that it was my
doing, she gave me such a kind, grieved, reproachful look, that I think
I shall never forget it.  And now it is most strange to think how
wildly and merrily I laughed at all Rupert's jokes, when I knew I was
in disgrace, and after having behaved so very ill.'

'Indeed, I did not think it would have distressed you so much,' said
Anne; 'I never thought it was more than a very foolish affair.'

'It is a very different thing for you,' said Elizabeth; 'you have
nothing to do with the town, and you need not have known that it was
not a fit place to go to.'

'But you did not know that it was not fit for us,' said Anne.

'I did know that I ought not to go where I had not been told I might
go,' said Elizabeth.  'It was relying on my own judgement that led me
astray.  But, oh! I wish I had been here at the time the Socialist
lectures were given; I should as soon have thought of climbing up the
kitchen-chimney, as of going to that den, and giving the ragamuffins
such a victory over Papa.'

'It was very silly of us not to ask a few more questions,' said Anne.

'Ah! that is the worst part of my behaviour,' said Elizabeth; 'that
abominably unfair account which I gave you, at Mr. Turner's door, of
Helen's objections.  It was in fact almost deceit, and the only thing
that can take off from the blackness of it, is that I was sufficiently
senseless to believe it myself at the time I spoke.'

'Oh yes, of course you did,' said Anne.

'Yet there must have been a sort of feeling that your hearing her
arguments would put a stop to the beautiful scheme,' said Elizabeth;
'you do not know, perhaps, that Kate was nearly convinced by Helen's
good sense, and I do believe that the reason I was not, was, what I
tremble to think of, that I have been indulging in a frightful spirit
of opposing and despising Helen, because I was angry with her for
loving Dykelands better than home.  I do believe she hardly dares to
open her lips.  I heard her telling Lucy afterwards that there was a
rose at Dykelands of the colour of her pattern, and I dare say she did
not say so, when it would have been to the purpose, for fear I should
say that damp turns roses orange-coloured; and I could see she did not
defend her pendant with Captain Atherley for fear I should tell her he
was not infallible.  No wonder she pines for Dykelands; a fine sort of
sister and home she has found here, poor child.'

'Oh! now you think so--' Anne began, but here she stopped short,
checked by her dread of interfering between sisters; she could not bear
to add to Elizabeth's bitter feelings of self-reproach, and she could
not say that her conduct on the preceding evening had been by any means
what it ought to have been, that she had treated Helen kindly, or that
Helen had not suffered much from her want of consideration for her.
She only kissed her cousin, and wished her good night very
affectionately, and nothing more was said that evening.

But Anne's silence was often very expressive to those who could
understand it, and of these Elizabeth was one.

The toilette of Katherine and Helen passed in a very different manner
that evening; Katherine did nothing but giggle and chatter incessantly,
about the game they had been playing at, in order to prevent Helen from
saying anything about the result of their excursion the evening before,
and to keep herself from thinking of the cowardly part she had been
acting all day.  Helen only wished to be left in peace, to think over
her share in all these transactions, and to consider how she might
become a tolerably useful member of society for the future; and on her
making no reply to one of Katherine's speeches, the latter suddenly
became silent, and she was left to her own reflections.



CHAPTER XII.


Elizabeth was always fully employed on a Sunday, and on that which
followed the Consecration she had perhaps more on her hands even than
usual, so that she had little opportunity for speaking, or even for
thinking, of her troubles.

Mr. Woodbourne was going to assist Mr. Somerville in the services at
St. Austin's, leaving Mr. Walker to do the duty at St. Mary's, as the
old church was now to be always called.

Mr. Somerville had asked Mrs. Woodbourne to bring all her party to
luncheon at his house, and had added a special invitation to the
children to be present at the opening of the new Sunday-school, which
was to take place between the services.  It was however necessary that
someone should stay and superintend what the young people called,
rather contemptuously, 'the old school;' and this Elizabeth undertook,
saying that she did not like to lose one Sunday's teaching of her own
class.  Anne was about to offer to remain with her and assist her, but
on Helen's making the same proposal, she thought it better to give the
sisters an opportunity of being alone together, and, as she was more
desirous of doing right than of appearing eager to be useful, she said
nothing of what she had intended.  Elizabeth was much gratified by her
sister's voluntary proffer of assistance, for the head and front of
Helen's offences on her return from Dykelands, had been, that she had
loathed the idea of helping to train the screaming school-girls to sing
in church, and had altogether shewn far less interest in parish matters
than Elizabeth thought their due.

'I am sure,' said Elizabeth, as they were walking from school to
church, 'it is worth while to stay to see the aisle now it is clear of
the benches, and there is breathing room left in the dear old church.
And listen to the bells! does not it seem as if the two churches were
exchanging greetings on St. Austin's first Sunday? Yes, St. Mary's is
our home, our mother church,' added she, as she walked under the heavy
stone porch, its groined roof rich with quaint bosses, the support of
many a swallow's nest, and came in sight of the huge old square font,
standing on one large column and four small ones, where she herself and
all her brothers and sisters had been christened.

The three little children were not to go to St. Austin's in the
morning, but Katherine had promised to come back to fetch them in time
for the luncheon at Mr. Somerville's, and thus Dora had the full
advantage of studying the Puddington monument before the service began.

Katherine and Harriet came back whilst Elizabeth and Helen were at
luncheon, and after giving them a list of half the people who were at
church, they called the children to come to Mr. Somerville's with them.

'Why do not you put on your bonnet, Dora?' said Winifred.

'I am not going,' said Dora.

'Why not?' asked Winifred.

'Because I had rather not,' was the answer.

'Why, you silly little child,' said Katherine; 'are you shy of Mr.
Somerville? look there, Edward and Winifred are not shy, and you are
quite a great girl.  How Horace would laugh!'

'I cannot help it,' said Dora; 'I had rather not go.'

'If you are thinking of your little class, Dora,' said Elizabeth, 'I
will hear them for you; you will trust them with me, will you not? and
I will remember who is first.'

'Thank you,' said Dora; 'I had rather go to church and school with you.'

'Nonsense, Dora,' said Katherine; 'I wish you would come.'

'Now do,' said Harriet; 'you cannot think what a nice luncheon Mr.
Somerville will have for you.'

'There is a very nice luncheon here,' said Dora.

'Oh! but not like a company luncheon,' said Harriet; 'besides, Mr.
Somerville will be so disappointed if you do not come.  Poor Mr.
Somerville, won't you be sorry for him, Dora?'

'Oh no, he does not want me--does he, Lizzie?' said Dora.

'No, I do not suppose he does,' said Elizabeth; 'he only asked you out
of good nature.'

'Well, if Dora will not come,' said Katherine, 'there is no use in
staying.--Come, Winifred and Edward.'

Elizabeth was sure that Dora had reasons of her own for choosing to
remain with her, but she thought it best to ask no questions; and the
reasons appeared, when, as they came into the Alms-house Court after
evening service, Dora pressed her hand, saying, in a low mysterious
tone, 'Lizzie, will you shew me what you promised?'

Elizabeth knew what she meant, and returning through the church into
the church-yard, led the way to the east end, where, close beside a
projecting buttress, Dora beheld a plain flat white stone, with three
small crosses engraven on it, and with a feeling between awe and
wonder, read the simple inscription.


                               KATHERINE,

                   WIFE OF THE REV. HORATIO WOODBOURNE,

                    VICAR OF ABBEYCHURCH ST. MARY'S,

                             MAY 14TH, 1826,

                                AGED 28.


It was the first time that Elizabeth and Helen had stood together at
their mother's grave, for Helen was but three years old at the time she
had been deprived of her, and, after their father's second marriage, a
kind of delicacy in Elizabeth, young as she was, had prevented her from
ever mentioning her to her younger sisters.

After a few minutes, during which no one spoke, the three sisters
turned away, and re-entered the church.  Helen and Dora had reached the
north door, and were leaving the church, when they missed Elizabeth,
and looking round, saw her sitting in one of the low pews, in the
centre aisle, her face raised towards the flamboyant tracery of the
east window.  Dora, who seemed to have a sort of perception that her
presence was a restraint upon her sisters, whispered, 'I am going to
feed the doves,' and hastened across the quadrangle, while Helen came
back to Elizabeth's side.  Her sister rose, and with her own bright
smile, said, 'Helen, I could not help coming here, it was where I sat
at the day of the funeral, and I wanted to look at that flame-shaped
thing in the top of the window, as I did all through the reading of the
Lesson.  Do you see?  What strange thoughts were in my head, as I sat
looking at that deep blue glass, with its shape like an angel's head
and meeting wings, and heard of glories celestial! I never hear those
words without seeing that form.'

With these words Elizabeth and Helen left the church; Helen put her arm
into her sister's, a thing which Elizabeth very seldom liked anyone to
do, even Anne, but now the two girls walked slowly arm-in-arm, through
the quadrangle, and along the broad gravel path in the Vicarage garden.

'Then you were at her funeral?' was the first thing Helen said.

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'Papa wished it, and I am sure I am very glad
they let me go.'

No more was spoken till Helen began again.  'When I was at Dykelands,
Mrs. Staunton used often to talk to me about our mother, and I began to
try to recollect her, but I had only an impression of something kind,
some voice I should know again, but I could not remember her in the
least.'

'Ah! I wish you could,' said Elizabeth thoughtfully.

'I suppose you remember her quite well,' said Helen, 'and all that
happened?'

'Yes,' said Elizabeth, 'I remember some things as well as if they had
happened yesterday, and others are all confusion in my mind; I quite
remember going to kiss her, the last day, and how strange and silent
and sad all the room looked, and Aunt Anne keeping quite calm and
composed in the room, but beginning to cry as soon as she had led me
out.  I shall never forget the awful mysterious feelings I had then.'

'And could she speak to you?' said Helen; 'did she know you?'

'Yes, she gave me one of her own smiles, and said something in a very
low voice.'

'Tell me a little more, Lizzie,' said Helen, 'for I have thought very
much about her lately.  Can you remember her before she was ill?'

'Oh yes,' said Elizabeth, speaking slowly, and pausing now and then; 'I
remember her well; I sometimes fancy I can hear her voice and her step
at night, when she used to come up to the nursery to see us in bed.  I
always used to listen for her; and when she began to grow weak, and
could not come up so many stairs, I used to lie and cry for half an
hour.  And now, when I am reading the same books with the children that
I read with her, things that she said to me come back upon me.'

'Do you think,' said Helen, 'that you are as like her as Uncle Edward
once said you were?'

Elizabeth paused; 'possibly,' said she, 'in eyes, nose, and mouth; but,
Helen, I do not think there ever could be anyone really like our
mother; I was much too young to know all that she was whilst she was
alive, but as I have grown older, and compared what I have seen of
other people with what I recollect of her, I have grown certain that
she must have been the most excellent, sensible, clever, kind, charming
person that ever lived.'

'So Mrs. Staunton says,' replied Helen; 'she used to tell me that I was
a good deal like her, and should be more so; but I do not think she
would have said so, if she had seen you.  I am so slow and so dull, and
so unlike to you in your quick active ways.'

'Do you know, Helen,' said Elizabeth, who had been pursuing her own
thoughts, rather than listening to her sister's words, 'I do believe
that we should all have been more like her if she had lived; at least,
I am sure I should.'

Helen did not answer; and Elizabeth continued in her usual rapid
manner, 'I do not mean to lay all my faults at Mamma's door, for I
should have been much worse without her, and I have spurned away most
of the good she would have done me in her kind gentle way; but I do
believe no one but my own mother ever knew how to manage me.  You never
were so wild, Helen, and you will do far far better.'

'O Lizzie, what do you mean?' cried Helen.

'I mean, my dear Helen,' exclaimed Elizabeth, hardly knowing what she
was saying, 'that I have been using you shamefully ever since you came
home.  I have done nothing but contradict you, and snap at you, whether
right or wrong; and a pretty spectacle we must have made of ourselves.
Now I see that you have twice the sense and understanding that I have,
and are so unpretending as to be worth a hundred times more.  I wish
with all my heart that I had taken your advice, and that the Mechanics'
Institute was at the bottom of the sea.'

Before Helen had recovered from her astonishment at this incoherent
speech, sufficiently to make any sort of reply, the rest of the party
were seen returning from St. Austin's, and Winifred and Edward hastened
towards the two sisters, to tell them all the wonders they had seen.

During the remainder of that day, a few words in her mother's feeble
voice rung in Elizabeth's ears more painfully even than the text she
had mentioned the day before.  It was, 'Lizzie, I know you will be a
kind sister to Kate and poor little Helen.'

In the course of the evening, Lady Merton found Anne and Helen alone
together in the drawing-room.  Helen was reclining on the sofa, in a
dreamy state, her book half closed in her hand, and Anne was sitting at
the window, reading as well as she could by the failing light.

'So you are alone here,' said Lady Merton, as she entered the room.

'Yes,' said Helen, starting up; 'I rather think the Hazlebys are
packing up--you know they go by the one o'clock train to-morrow--and I
believe Kate is helping them; and Mamma is hearing the little ones say
the Catechism.'

'So I thought,' said Lady Merton.  'I was surprised to find you here.'

'Oh!' said Helen, 'we generally say the Catechism to Papa every Sunday
evening, and he asks us questions about it; and we are to go on with
him till we are confirmed.'

'And when will that be?' said her aunt.

'Next spring,' said Helen; 'we shall all three of us be confirmed at
the same time.  But if Mrs. Hazleby had not been here, Papa would have
heard us all down-stairs.  I should have liked for you to hear how
perfect Edward is now, and how well Dora answers Papa's questions;
though perhaps before you she would be too shy.'

'And I should have been glad for Anne to have joined you,' said Lady
Merton; 'it is long since your godfather has heard you, Anne.'

'Not since we were here last,' said Anne, 'and that is almost two years
ago.'

'And where is Lizzie?' said Lady Merton; 'is she with your Mamma?'

'No,' said Helen, 'her other work is not over yet.  On Sunday evening,
she always reads with four great girls who have left school, and have
no time to learn except on Sunday evenings.  I am sure I cannot think
how she can; I should have thought morning and afternoon school quite
enough for anyone!'  And she threw herself back on the sofa, and gave a
very long yawn.

Her aunt smiled as she answered, 'You certainly seem to find it so.'

'Indeed I do,' said Helen; 'I think teaching the most tiresome work in
the world.'

'O Helen, is it possible?' cried Anne.

'Helen is not much used to it,' said her aunt.

'No,' said Helen, 'there used to be teachers enough without me, but now
Lizzie wants me to take a class, I suppose I must, because it is my
duty; but really I do not think I can ever like it.'

'If you do it cheerfully because it is your duty, you will soon be
surprised to find yourself interested in it,' said her aunt.

'Now, Aunt Anne,' said Helen, sitting up, and looking rather more
alive, 'I really did take all the pains I could to-day, but I was never
more worried than with the dullness of those children.  They could not
answer the simplest question.'

'Most poor children seem dull with a new teacher,' said Lady Merton;
'besides which, you perhaps did not use language which they could
understand.'

'Possibly,' said Helen languidly; 'but then there is another thing
which I dislike--I cannot bear to hear the most beautiful chapters in
the Bible stammered over as if the children had not the least
perception of their meaning.'

'Their not being able to read the chapter fluently is no proof that
they do not enter into it,' said Lady Merton; 'it often happens that
the best readers understand less than some awkward blunderers, who read
with reverence.'

'Then it is very vexatious,' said Helen.

'You will tell a different story next year,' said Lady Merton, 'when
you have learnt a little more of the ways of the poor children.'

'I hope so,' said Helen; 'but what I have seen to-day only makes me
wonder how Papa and Lizzie can get the children to make such beautiful
answers as they sometimes do in church.'

'And perhaps,' said Lady Merton, smiling, 'the person who taught Miss
Helen Woodbourne to repeat Gray's Elegy, would be inclined to wonder
how at fourteen she could have become a tolerably well-informed young
lady.'

'Oh, Aunt,' said Helen, 'have not you forgotten that day?  How
dreadfully I must have tormented everybody!  I am sure Mamma's patience
must have been wonderful.'

'And I am very glad that Lizzie saves her from so much of the labour of
teaching now,' said Lady Merton.

'I see what you mean,' said Helen; 'I ought to help too.'

'Indeed, my dear, I had no intention of saying so,' said Lady Merton;
'yourself and your mamma can be the only judges in such a matter.'

'I believe Mamma does think that Lizzie has almost too much to do,'
said Helen; 'but there has been less since Horace has been at school.'

'But Edward is fast growing up to take his place,' said her aunt.

'Edward will never take Horace's place,' said Helen; 'he will be five
times the trouble.  Horace could learn whatever he pleased in an
instant, and the only drawback with him was inattention; but Edward is
so slow and so dawdling, that his lessons are the plague of the
school-room.  His reading is tiresome enough, and what Lizzie will do
with his Latin I cannot think; but that can be only her concern.  And
Winifred is sharp enough, but she never pays attention three minutes
together; I could not undertake her, I should do her harm and myself
too.'

'I am rather of your opinion, so far,' said Lady Merton; 'but you have
said nothing against Dora.'

'Dora!' said Helen; 'yes, she has always been tolerably good, but she
knows nearly as much as I do.  Lizzie says she knows the reasons of a
multiplication sum, and I am sure I do not.'

'Perhaps you might learn by studying with her,' aaid Lady Merton.

'Yes, Lizzie says she has learnt a great deal from teaching the
children,' said Helen; 'but then she had a better foundation than most
people.  You know she used to do her lessons with Papa, and he always
made her learn everything quite perfect, and took care she should
really understand each step she took, so that she knows more about
grammar and arithmetic, and all the latitude and longitude puzzling
part of geography than I do--a great deal more.'

'I am sorry to find there is some objection to all the lessons of all
the children,' said Lady Merton.

'I suppose I might help in some,' said Helen; 'but then I have very
little time; I have to draw, and to practise, and to read French and
Italian and history to Mamma, and to write exercises; but then Mamma
has not always leisure to hear me, and it is very unsatisfactory to go
on learning all alone. At Dykelands there were Fanny and Jane.'

'I should not have thought a person with four sisters need complain of
having to learn alone,' said her aunt.

'No more should I,' said Helen; 'but if you were here always, you would
see how it is; Lizzie is always busy with the children, and learns her
German and Latin no one knows when or how, by getting up early, and
reading while she is dressing, or while the children are learning.  She
picks up knowledge as nobody else can; and Kate will only practise or
read to Mamma, and she is so desultory and unsettled, that I cannot go
on with her as I used before I went to Dykelands; and Dora--I see I
ought to take to her, but I am afraid to do so--I do not like it.'

'So it appears,' said Lady Merton.

'I should think it the most delightful thing!' cried Anne.

'You two are instances of the way in which people wish for the
advantages they have not, and undervalue those they have,' said Lady
Merton, smiling.

'Advantages!' repeated Helen.

'Why, do not you think it an advantage to have sisters?' said Anne; 'I
wish you would give some of them to me if you do not.'

'Indeed,' said Helen warmly, 'I do value my sisters very much; I am
sure I am very fond of them.'

'As long as they give you no trouble,' said Lady Merton.

'Well,' said Helen, 'I see you may well think me a very poor selfish
creature, but I really do mean to try to improve.  I will offer to
undertake Dora's music; Lizzie does not understand that, and it is
often troublesome to Mamma to find time to hear her practise, and I
think I should pay more attention to it than Kate does sometimes.  I
think Dora will play very well, and I should like her to play duets
with me.'

'I am glad you can endure one of your sisters,' said Anne, laughing
rather maliciously.

'Pray say no more of that, Anne,' said Helen; 'it was only my foolish
indolence that made me make such a speech.'

As Helen finished speaking, Elizabeth came into the room, looking
rather weary, but very blithe.  'I have been having a most delightful
talk about the Consecration with the girls,' said she, 'hearing what
they saw, and what they thought of it.  Mary Watson took her master's
children up the hill to see the church-yard consecrated, and the eldest
little boy--that fine black-eyed fellow, you know, Helen--said he never
could play at ball there again, now the Bishop had read the prayers
there.  I do really hope that girl will be of great use to those little
things; her mistress says no girl ever kept them in such good order
before.'

'I was going to compliment you on the good behaviour of your children
at St. Austin's, Lizzie,' said Lady Merton; 'I thought I never saw a
more well conducted party.'

'Ah! some of our best children are gone to St. Austin's,' said
Elizabeth; 'I quite grudge them to Mr. Somerville; I hate the girls to
get out of my sight.'

'So do I,' said Anne, 'I am quite angry when our girls go out to
service, they _will_ get such horrid places--public houses, or at best
farm houses, where they have a whole train of babies to look after, and
never go to church.'

'And very few of the most respectable fathers and mothers care where
their children go to service,' said Elizabeth; 'I am sure I often wish
the children had no parents.'

'In order that they may learn a child's first duty?' said Lady Merton.

'Well, but is it not vexatious, Aunt Anne,' said Elizabeth, 'when there
is a nice little girl learning very well in school, but forgetting as
soon as she is out of it, her mother will not put herself one inch out
of the way to keep her there regularly; when the child goes to church
continually, the mother never comes at all, or never kneels down when
she is there.  If you miss her at school on the Sunday morning, her
mother has sent her to the shop, and perhaps told her to tell a
falsehood about it; if her hand is clammy with lollipops, or there is a
perfume of peppermint all round her, or down clatters a halfpenny in
the middle of church, it is all her father's fault.'

'Oh! except the clatter, that last disaster never happens with us,'
said Anne; 'the shop is not open on Sunday.'

'Ah! that is because Uncle Edward is happily the king of the parish,'
said Elizabeth; 'it has the proper Church and State government, like
Dante's notion of the Empire.  But you cannot help the rest; and we are
still worse off, and how can we expect the children to turn out well
with such home treatment?'

'No, Lizzie,' said Lady Merton; 'you must not expect them to turn out
well.'

'O Mamma! Mamma!' cried Anne.

'What do you teach them for?' exclaimed Helen.

'I see what you mean,' said Elizabeth; 'we can only cast our bread upon
the waters; we must look to the work, and not to the present
appearance.  But, Aunt Anne, the worst is, if they go wrong, I must be
afraid it is my fault; that it is from some slip in my teaching, some
want of accordance between my example and my precept, and no one can
say that it is not so.'

'No one on earth,' said her aunt solemnly; 'and far better it is for
you, that you should teach in fear.'

'I sometimes fancy,' said Elizabeth, 'that the girls would do better if
we had the whole government of them, but I know that is but fancy; they
are each in the place and among the temptations which will do them most
good.  But oh! it is a melancholy thing to remember that of the girls
whom I myself have watched through the school and out into the world,
there are but two on whom I can think with perfect satisfaction.'

'Taking a high standard, of course?' said Lady Merton.

'Oh yes, and not reckoning many who I hope will do well, like this one
of whom I was talking, but who have had no trial,' said Elizabeth;
'there are many very good ones now, if they will but keep so.  One of
these girls that I was telling you of, has shewn that she had right
principle and firmness, by her behaviour towards a bad fellow-servant;
she is at Miss Maynard's.'

'And where is the other?' asked Anne.

'In her grave,' said Elizabeth.

'Ah!' said Helen, 'I missed her to-day, in the midst of her little
class, bending over them as she used to do, and looking in their faces,
as if she saw the words come out of their mouths.'

'Do you mean the deaf girl with the speaking eyes?' said Anne; 'you
wrote to tell me you had lost her.'

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'she it was whose example shewed me that an
infirmity may be a blessing.  Her ear was shut to the noises of the
world, the strife of tongues, and as her mother said, "she did not know
what a bad word was," only it was tuned to holy things.  She always
knew what was going on in church, and by her eager attention learnt to
do everything in school; and when her deafness was increased by her
fever, and she could not hear her mother's and sisters' voices, she
could follow the prayers Papa read, the delirium fled away from them.
Oh! it is a blessing and a privilege to have been near such a girl; but
then--though the last thing she said was to desire her sisters to be
good girls and keep to their church and school--she would have been the
same, have had the same mind, without our teaching--our mere
school-keeping, I mean.  Aunt Anne, you say you have kept school in
your village for thirty years; you were just in my situation, the
clergyman's daughter; so do tell me what effect your teaching has had
as regards the children of your first set of girls.  Are they better
managed at home than their mothers?'

'More civilized and better kept at school, otherwise much the same,'
said Lady Merton.  'Yes, my experience is much the same as yours;
comparatively few of those I have watched from their childhood have
done thoroughly well, and their good conduct has been chiefly owing to
their parents.  Some have improved and returned to do right, perhaps
partly in consequence of their early teaching.'

'Sad work, sad work, after all!' said Elizabeth, as she left the room
to finish hearing the little ones, and release Mrs. Woodbourne.

'And yet,' said Helen, as the door closed, 'no one is so happy at
school as Lizzie, or delights more in the children, or in devising
pleasure for them.'

'I never shall understand Lizzie,' said Anne, with a kind of sigh; 'who
would have suspected her of such desponding feelings? and I cannot
believe it is so bad an affair.  How can it be, taking those dear
little things fresh from their baptism, training them with holy things
almost always before them, their minds not dissipated by all kinds of
other learning, like ours.'

'I do not know that that is quite the best thing, though in a degree it
is unavoidable,' said her mother.

'So I was thinking,' said Helen; 'I think it must make religious
knowledge like a mere lesson; I know that is what Lizzie dreads, and
they begin the Bible before they can read it well.'

'But can it, can it really be so melancholy? will all those
bright-faced creatures, who look so earnest and learn so well, will
they turn their backs upon all that is right, all they know so well?'
said poor Anne, almost ready to cry.  'O Mamma, do not tell me to think
so.'

'No, no, you need not, my dear,' said Lady Merton; 'it would be
grievous and sinful indeed to say any such things of baptized
Christians, trained up by the Church.  The more you love them, and the
more you hope for them, the better.  You will learn how to hope and how
to fear as you grow older.'

'But I have had as much experience as Lizzie,' said Anne; 'I am but a
month younger, and school has been my Sunday delight ever since I can
remember; Mamma, I think the Abbeychurch people must be very bad--you
see they keep shop on Sunday; but then you spoke of our own people. It
must have been my own careless levity that has prevented me from
feeling like Lizzie; but I cannot believe--'

'You have not been the director of the school for the last few years,
as Lizzie has,' said Lady Merton; 'the girls under your own protection
are younger, their trial is hardly begun.'

'I am afraid I shall be disheartened whenever I think of them,' said
Anne; 'I wish you had not said all this--and yet--perhaps--if
disappointment is really to come, I had better be prepared for it.'

'Yes, you may find this conversation useful, Anne,' said Lady Merton;
'if it is only to shew you why I have always tried to teach you
self-control in your love of the school.'

'I know I want self-control when I let myself be so engrossed in it as
to neglect other things,' said Anne; 'and I hope I do manage now not to
shew more favour to the girls I like best, than to the others; but in
what other way do you mean, Mamma?'

'I mean that you must learn not to set your heart upon individual
girls, or plans which seem satisfactory at first,' said Lady Merton;
'disappointment will surely be sent in some form or other, to try your
faith and love; and if you do not learn to fear now that your hopes are
high, you will hardly have spirit enough left to persevere cheerfully
when failure has taught you to mistrust yourself.'

'I know that I must be disappointed if I build upon schemes or
exertions of my own,' said Anne; 'but I should be very conceited--very
presumptuous, I mean--to do so, and I hope I never shall.'

'I cannot think how you, or anybody who thinks like you, can ever
undertake to keep school,' said Helen; 'I never saw how awful a thing
it is, before; not merely hearing lessons, and punishing naughty
children, I am sure I dread it now; I would have nothing to do with it
if Papa did not wish it, and so make it my duty.'

'Nobody would teach the children at all if they thought like you,
Helen,' said Anne; 'and then what would become of them?'

'People who are not fit often do teach them, and is not that worse than
nothing?' said Helen; 'I should think irreverence and false doctrine
worse than ignorance.'

'Certainly,' said Lady Merton; 'and happy it is, that, as in your case,
Helen, the duty of obedience, or some other equally plain, teaches us
when to take responsibility upon ourselves and when to shrink from it.'

'I must say,' said Anne, 'I cannot recover from hearing Mamma and
Lizzie talk of their "little victims," just in Gray's tone.'

'No,' said Lady Merton; 'I only say,

          "If thou wouldst reap in love,
             First sow in holy fear."'



CHAPTER XIII.


On Monday morning, as soon as breakfast was over, Elizabeth and
Katherine went to the school to receive the penny-club money, and to
change the lending library books.  They were occupied in this manner
for about half an hour; and on their return, Elizabeth went to Mrs.
Woodbourne's dressing-room, to put away the money, and to give her an
account of her transactions. While she was so employed, her father came
into the room with a newspaper in his hand.

'Look here, Mildred,' said he, laying it down on the table before his
wife, 'this is what Walker has just brought me.'

Mrs. Woodbourne glanced at the paragraph he pointed out, and exclaimed,
'O Lizzie! this is a sad thing!'

Elizabeth advanced, she grew giddy with dismay as she read as follows:

'On Friday last, a most interesting and instructive lecture on the Rise
and Progress of the Institution of Chivalry was delivered at the
Mechanics' Institute, in this city, by Augustus Mills, Esq.  This young
gentleman, from whose elegant talents and uncommon eloquence we should
augur no ordinary career in whatever profession may be honoured with
his attention, enlarged upon the barbarous manners of the wild
untutored hordes among whom the proud pageantry of pretended faith,
false honour, and affected punctilio, had its rise.  He traced it
through its gilded course of blood and carnage, stripped of the
fantastic and delusive mantle which romance delights to fling over its
native deformity, to the present time, when the general civilization
and protection enjoyed in this enlightened age, has left nought but the
grim shadow of the destructive form which harassed and menaced our
trembling ancestors.  We are happy to observe that increasing
attendance at the Mechanics' Institute of Abbeychurch, seems to prove
that the benefits of education are becoming more fully appreciated by
all classes.  We observed last Friday, at the able lecture of Mr.
Mills, among a numerous assemblage of the distinguished inhabitants and
visitors of Abbeychurch, Miss Merton, daughter of Sir Edward Merton, of
Merton Hall, Baronet, together with the fair and accomplished daughters
of the Rev. H. Woodbourne, our respected Vicar.'

'I shall certainly contradict it,' continued Mr. Woodbourne, while
Elizabeth was becoming sensible of the contents of the paragraph; 'I
did not care what Higgins chose to any of my principles, but this is a
plain fact, which may be believed if it is not contradicted.'

'O Mamma, have not you told him?' said Elizabeth faintly.

'What, do you mean to say that this is true?' exclaimed Mr. Woodbourne,
in a voice which sounded to Elizabeth like a clap of thunder.

'Indeed, Papa,' said she, once looking up in his face, and then bending
her eyes on the ground, while the colour in her checks grew deeper and
deeper; 'I am sorry to say that it is quite true, that we did so very
wrong and foolishly as to go.  Helen and Lucy alone were sensible and
strong-minded enough to refuse to go.'

Mr. Woodbourne paced rapidly up and down the room, and Elizabeth
plainly saw that his displeasure was great.

'But, Mr. Woodbourne,' said her mamma, 'she did not know that it was
wrong.  Do you not remember that she was not at home at the time that
Socialist was here? and I never told her of all that passed then. You
see it was entirely my fault.'

'Oh! no, no, Mamma, do not say so!' said Elizabeth; 'it was entirely
mine.  I was led away by my foolish eagerness and self-will, I was bent
on my own way, and cast aside all warnings, and now I see what mischief
I have done.  Cannot you do anything to repair it, Papa? cannot you say
that it was all my doing, my wilfulness, my carelessness of warning, my
perverseness?'

'I wish I had known it before,' said Mr. Woodbourne, 'I could at least
have spoken to Mr. Turner on Saturday, and prevented the Mertons' name
from appearing.'

'I did not tell you because I had no opportunity,' said Mrs.
Woodbourne; 'Lizzie came and told me all, the instant she knew that she
had done wrong; but I thought it would harass you, and you were so much
occupied that I had better wait till all this bustle was over, but she
told me everything most candidly, and would have come to you, but that
Mr. Roberts was with you at the time.--My dear Lizzie, do not distress
yourself so much, I am sure you have suffered a great deal.'

'O Mamma,' said Elizabeth, 'how can I ever suffer enough for such a
tissue of ill-conduct? you never will see how wrong it was in me.'

'Yet, Lizzie,' said her father kindly, 'we may yet rejoice over the
remembrance of this unpleasant affair, if it has made you reflect upon
the faults that have led to it.'

'But what is any small advantage to my own character compared with the
injury I have done?' said Elizabeth; 'I have made it appear as if you
had granted the very last thing you would ever have thought of; I have
led Kate and Anne into disobedience.  Oh! I have done more wrongly than
I ever thought I could.'

At this moment Katherine came into the room with some message for Mrs.
Woodbourne.

'Come here, Kate,' said her father; 'read this.'

Katherine cast a frightened glance upon Elizabeth, who turned away from
her.  She read on, and presently exclaimed, 'Fair and accomplished
daughters! dear me! that is ourselves.'  Then catching Elizabeth by the
arm, she whispered, 'Does he know it?'

'Yes, Katherine,' said Mr. Woodbourne sternly; 'your sister has shewn a
full conviction that she has done wrong, a feeling of which I am sorry
to see that you do not partake.'

'Indeed, indeed, Papa,' cried Katherine, bursting into tears, 'I am
very sorry; I should never have gone if it had not been for the others.'

'No excuses, if you please, Katherine,' said Mr. Woodbourne; 'I wish to
hear exactly how it happened.'

'First, Papa,' said Elizabeth, 'let me beg one thing of you, do not
tell Mrs. Hazleby that Harriet went with us, for she could not know
that it was wrong of us to go, and she is very much afraid of her
mother's anger.'

Mr. Woodbourne made a sign of assent; and Elizabeth proceeded to give a
full account of the indiscreet expedition, taking the blame so entirely
upon herself, that although Katherine was on the watch to contradict
anything that might tell unfavourably for her, she could not find a
word to gainsay--speaking very highly of Helen, not attempting to make
the slightest excuse, or to plead her sorrow for what had happened as a
means of averting her father's displeasure, and ending by asking
permission to go to Mrs. Turner the instant the Hazlebys had left
Abbeychurch, to tell her that the excursion had been entirely without
Mr. Woodbourne's knowledge or consent.  'For,' said she, 'that is the
least I can do towards repairing what can never be repaired.'

'I am not sure that that would be quite a wise measure, my dear
Lizzie,' said Mrs. Woodbourne.

'Certainly not,' said Mr. Woodbourne; 'it would put Lizzie in a very
unsuitable situation, and in great danger of being impertinent.'

'Yes,' said Elizabeth; 'I see that I do wrong whichever way I turn.'

'Come, Lizzie,' said her father, 'I see that I cannot be as much
displeased with you as you are with yourself.  I believe you are
sincerely sorry for what has passed, and now we will do our best to
make it useful to you, and prevent it from having any of the bad
consequences to my character which distress you so much.'

Elizabeth was quite overcome by Mr. Woodbourne's kindness, she sprung
up, threw her arms round his neck, kissed him, and taking one more look
to see that his eyes no longer wore the expression which she dreaded,
she darted off to her own room, to give a free course to the tears with
which she had long been struggling.

Katherine, who had been studying the newspaper all this time, seeing
Elizabeth's case so easily dismissed, and not considering herself as
nearly so much to blame, now giggled out, 'Mamma, did you ever see
anyone so impertinent as this man?  "Fair and accomplished daughters,"
indeed! was there ever anything so impertinent?'

'Yes, Katherine,' said Mr. Woodbourne, 'there is something far more
impertinent in a young lady who thinks proper to defy my anger, and to
laugh at the consequences of her giddy disobedience.'

'Indeed, Papa,' said Katherine, 'I am very sorry, but I am sure it was
not disobedience.  I did not know we were not to go.'

'Not when you had heard all that was said on the subject last year?'
said Mr. Woodbourne; 'I am ashamed to see you resort to such a foolish
subterfuge.'

'I did not remember it,' said Katherine; 'I am sure I should never have
gone if I had, but Lizzie was so bent upon it.'

'Again throwing the blame upon others,' said Mr. Woodbourne; 'your
sister has set you a far better example.  She forbore from saying what
I believe she might have said with perfect truth, that had you not
chosen to forget my commands when they interfered with your fancies,
she would not have thought of going; and this is the return which you
make to her kindness.'

'Well,' sobbed Katherine, 'I never heard you say we should not go, I do
not remember it.  You know Mamma says I have a very bad memory.'

'Your memory is good enough for what pleases yourself,' said Mr.
Woodbourne; 'you have been for some time past filling your head with
vanity and gossipping, without making the slightest attempt to improve
yourself or strengthen your mind, and this is the consequence.
However, this you will remember if you please, that it is my desire
that you associate no more with that silly chattering girl, Miss
Turner, than your sisters do.  You know that I never approved of your
making a friend of her, but you did not choose to listen to any
warnings.'

Katherine well knew that her father had often objected to her
frequently going to drink tea with the Turners, and had checked her for
talking continually of her friend; and anyone not bent on her own way
would have thought these hints enough, but as they were not given with
a stern countenance, or in a peremptory manner, she had paid no
attention to them.  Now, she could not be brought to perceive what her
fault really had been, but only sobbed out something about its being
very hard that she should have all the scolding, when it was Lizzie's
scheme, not hers.  Again forgetting that she had been the original
proposer of the expedition.

'Pray, my dear, do not go on defending yourself,' said Mrs. Woodbourne,
'you see it does no good.'

'But, Mamma,' whined Katherine, in such a tone that Mr. Woodbourne
could bear it no longer, and ordered her instantly to leave the room,
and not to appear again till she could shew a little more submission.
She obeyed, after a little more sobbing and entreating; and as she
closed the door behind her, Harriet came out of the opposite room.

'What is the matter?' whispered she; 'has it all come out?'

'Yes, it is in the paper, and Papa is very angry,' sighed Katherine.

'Is there anything about me?' asked Harriet eagerly, paying no regard
to poor Katherine's woful appearance and streaming eyes.

'Oh no, nothing,' said Katherine, hastening away, as Mrs. Hazleby and
Lucy came into the passage.

'Hey-day! what is all this about?' exclaimed the former, encountering
Mr. Woodbourne, as he came out of his wife's dressing-room; 'what is
the matter now?'

'I believe your daughter can explain it better than I can,' answered
Mr. Woodbourne, giving her the paper, and walking away to his study as
soon as he came to the bottom of the stairs.

As soon as Mrs. Hazleby found herself in the drawing-room she called
upon her eldest daughter to explain to her the meaning of what she saw
in the newspaper.

'Why, Mamma,' Harriet began, 'you know Miss Merton and Lizzie
Woodbourne care for nothing but history and all that stuff, and do not
mind what they do, as long as they can talk, talk, talk of nothing else
all day long.  So they were at it the day you dined out, and they had
some question or other, whether King Arthur's Round Table were knights
or not, till at last Kate said something about the Institute, and they
were all set upon going, though Helen told them they had better not, so
out we went, we walked all together to Mrs. Turner's, and she took
them.  I suppose Fido must have fallen into the river while they were
at the Institute.'

'Poor dear little fellow, I dare say that was the way he was lost,'
said Mrs. Hazleby; 'when once young people take that kind of nonsense
into their head, there is an end of anything else.  Well, and how was
it we never heard of it all this time?'

'I think no one would wish to tell of it,' said Harriet; 'you would not
have heard of it now, if it had not been in the paper.'

'Well, I hope Miss Lizzie will have enough of it,' said Mrs. Hazleby;
'it will open her papa's eyes to all her conceit, if anything will.'

'I am sure it is time,' said Harriet; 'she thinks herself wiser than
all the world, one cannot speak a word for her.'

'O Harriet!' said Lucy, looking up from her work with some indignation
in her eyes.

'I believe you think it all very grand, Lucy,' said her mother; 'you
care for nothing as long as you can dawdle about with Helen.  Pray did
you go to this fine place?'

'No, Mamma,' said Lucy.

'H--m,' said Mrs. Hazleby, rather disappointed at losing an opportunity
of scolding her.

Anne had gone to write a letter in her mother's room, whilst Elizabeth
was busy.  She had just finished it, and was thinking of going to see
whether anyone was ready to read in the school-room, when Rupert came
in, and making a low bow, addressed her thus: 'So, Miss Nancy, I
congratulate you.'

'What is the matter now?' said Anne.

'Pray, Anne,' said he, 'did you ever experience the satisfaction of
feeling how pleasant it is to see one's name in print?'

'You were very near having something like that pleasure yourself,' said
Anne; 'it was only your arrival on Friday that saved the expense of an
advertisement at the head of a column in the Times--

   "R. M., return, return, return to your sorrowing friends."'


'Pray be more speedy next time,' said Rupert, 'for then I shall be even
with you.'

'I am sure you have some wickedness in your head, or all your speeches
would not begin with "Pray,"' said Anne; 'what do you mean?'

'What I say,' answered Rupert; 'I have just read Miss Merton's name in
the paper.'

'Some other Miss Merton, you foolish boy!' said Anne.

'No, no, yourself, Anne Katherine Merton, daughter of Sir Edward,' said
Rupert.

'My dear Rupert, you do not mean it!' said Anne, somewhat alarmed.

'I saw it with my eyes,' said Rupert.

'But where?'

'In the Abbeychurch Reporter, or whatever you call it.'

'Oh!' said Anne, looking relieved, 'we are probably all there, as
having been at the Consecration.'

'The company there present, are, I believe, honoured with due mention
of Sir Edward Merton and family,' said Rupert; 'but I am speaking of
another part of the paper where Miss Merton is especially noted, alone
in her glory.'

'In what paper did you say, Rupert?' said Lady Merton.

'The Abbeychurch Reporter,' said he.

'Mr. Higgins's paper!' said Anne.  'O Mamma, I see it all--that
horrible Mechanics' Institute!'

'Why, Anne,' said her brother, 'I thought you would be charmed with
your celebrity.'

'But where have you seen it, Rupert?' said Anne; 'poor Lizzie, has she
heard it?'

'Mr. Walker came in just now in great dismay, to shew it to Mr.
Woodbourne,' said Rupert; 'and they had a very long discussion on the
best means of contradicting it, to which I listened with gravity, quite
heroic, I assure you, considering all things.  Then my uncle carried it
off to shew it to his wife, and I came up to congratulate you.'

'I am sure it is no subject of congratulation,' said Anne; 'where was
Papa all the time?'

'Gone to call on Mr. Somerville,' said Rupert.

'But I thought Lizzie had told her father,' said Lady Merton.

'She told Mrs. Woodbourne directly,' said Anne; 'but she could not get
at my uncle, and I suppose Mrs. Woodbourne had not told him. What an
annoyance for them all!  I hope Mr. Woodbourne is not very much
displeased.'

'He was more inclined to laugh than to be angry, said Rupert; 'and it
is indeed a choice morceau, worthy of Augustus Mills, Esquire, himself.
I hope Mr. Woodbourne will bring it down-stairs, that you may explain
to me the rare part which describes the decrepid old Giant Chivalry,
sitting in his den, unable to do any mischief, only biting his nails at
the passers by, like the Giant Pope in the Pilgrim's Progress.'

Anne could not help laughing. 'But, Rupert,' said she, 'pray do not say
too much about it in the evening.  I am not at all sure that Papa will
not be very much displeased to see his name figuring in the paper as if
he was a supporter of this horrid place.  I wish, as Lizzie says, that
I had cut my head off before I went, for it has really come to be
something serious.  Papa's name will seem to sanction their
proceedings.'

'My dear,' said Lady Merton, 'you may comfort yourself by remembering
that your Papa's character is too well known to be affected by such an
assertion as this; most people will not believe it, and those who do,
can only think that his daughter is turning radical, not himself.'

'Ay, this is the first public decisive act of Miss Merton's life,' said
Rupert; 'no wonder so much is made of it.'

'But, Rupert,' said Anne, 'I only beg of you not to say anything about
it to Lizzie.'

'You cut me off from everything diverting,' said Rupert; 'you are
growing quite impertinent, but I will punish you some day when you do
not expect it.'

'I do not care what you do when we are at home,' said Anne; 'I defy you
to do your worst then; only spare Lizzie and me while we are here.'

'Spare Lizzie, indeed!' said Rupert; 'she does not want your
protection, she is able enough to take care of herself.'

'I believe Rupert's five wits generally go off halting, from the sharp
encounter of hers,' said Lady Merton.

'And therefore he wants to gain a shabby advantage over a wounded
enemy,' said Anne; 'I give you up, you recreant; your name should have
been Oliver, instead of Rupert.'

'There is an exemplification of the lecture,' said Rupert; 'impotent
chivalry biting its nails with disdain and despite.'

'Well, Mamma,' said Anne, 'since chivalry is impotent, I shall leave
you to tame that foul monster with something else; I will have no more
to do with him.'

She went to fetch her work out of her bed-room, but on seeing Elizabeth
there, her pocket-handkerchief in her hand, and traces of tears on her
face, was hastily retreating, when her cousin said, 'Come in,' and
added, 'So, Anne, you have heard, the murder is out.'

'The Mechanics' Institute, you mean,' said Anne, 'not Fido.'

'Not Fido,' said Elizabeth; 'but the rest of the story is out; I mean,
it is not known who killed Cock Robin, and I do not suppose it ever
will be; but the Mechanics' Institute affair is in the newspaper, and
it is off my mind, for I have had it all out with Papa.  And, Anne, he
was so very kind, that I do not know how to think of it.  He made light
of the annoyance to himself on purpose to console me, and--but,' added
she, smiling, while the tears came into her eyes again, 'I must not
talk of him, or I shall go off into another cry, and not be fit for the
reading those unfortunate children have been waiting for so long.  Tell
me, are my eyes very unfit to be seen?'

'Not so very bad,' said Anne.

'Well, I cannot help it if they are,' said Elizabeth; 'come down and
let us read.'

They found Helen alone in the school-room, where she had been sitting
ever since breakfast-time, thinking that the penny club was occupying
Elizabeth most unusually long this morning.

'Helen,' said Elizabeth, as she came into the room, 'Papa knows the
whole story, and I can see that he is as much pleased with your conduct
as I am sure you deserve.'

All was explained in a few words.  Helen was now by no means inclined
to triumph in her better judgement, for, while she had been waiting,
alone with her drawing, she had been thinking over all that had passed
since the unfortunate Friday evening, wondering that she could ever
have believed that Elizabeth was not overflowing with affection, and
feeling very sorry for the little expression of triumph which she had
allowed to escape her in her ill-temper on Saturday.  'Lizzie,' said
she, 'will you forgive me for that very unkind thing I said to you?'

Elizabeth did not at first recollect what it was, and when she did, she
only said, 'Nonsense, Helen, I never consider what people say when they
are cross, any more than when they are drunk.'

Anne was very much diverted by the idea of Elizabeth's experience of
what drunken people said, or of drunkenness and ill-temper being
allied, and her merriment restored the spirits of her cousins, and took
off from what Elizabeth called the 'awfulness of a grand pardoning
scene.'  Helen was then sent to summon the children to their lessons,
which were happily always supposed to begin later on a Monday than on
any other day of the week.

The study door was open, and as she passed by, her father called her
into the room.  'Helen,' said he, 'Elizabeth tells me that you acted
the part of a sensible and obedient girl the other evening, and I am
much pleased to hear it.'

Helen stood for a few moments, too much overcome with delight and
surprise to be able to speak.  Mr. Woodbourne went on writing, and she
bounded upstairs with something more of a hop, skip, and jump, than
those steps had known from her foot since she had been an inhabitant of
the nursery herself, thinking 'What would he say if he knew that I only
refused to go, out of a spirit of opposition?' yet feeling the truth of
what Anne had said, that her father's praise, rarely given, and only
when well earned, was worth all the Stauntons' admiration fifty times
over.

When Mrs. Woodbourne came down, she advised Helen not to call
Katherine, saying that she thought it would be better for her to be
left to herself, so that she was seen no more till just before the
Hazlebys departed, when she came down to take leave of them, looking
very pale, her eyes very red, and her voice nearly choking, but still
there was no appearance of submission about her.

'Helen,' said Lucy, as they were standing in the window of the inner
drawing-room, 'I should like you to tell Aunt Mildred how very much I
have enjoyed this visit.'

'I wish you would tell her so yourself,' said Helen; 'I am sure you
cannot be afraid of her, Lucy.'

'Oh no, I am not afraid of her,' said Lucy, 'only I do not like to say
this to her.  It is putting myself too forward almost, to say it to you
even, Helen; but I have been wishing all the time I have been here, to
thank her for having been so very kind as to mention me especially, in
her letter to Papa.'

'But have you really enjoyed your visit here?' said Helen, thinking how
much she had felt for Lucy on several occasions.

'Oh! indeed I have, Helen,' answered she; 'to say nothing of the
Consecration, such a sight as I may never see again in all my life, and
which must make everyone very happy who has anything to do with your
Papa, and Aunt Mildred; it has been a great treat to be with you all
again, and to see your uncle and aunt, and Miss Merton.  I hardly ever
saw such a delightful person as Miss Merton, so clever and so sensible,
and now I shall like to hear all you have to say about her in your
letters.'

'Yes, I suppose Anne is clever and sensible,' said Helen musingly.

'Do not you think her so?' said Lucy, with some surprise.

'Why, yes, I do not know,' said Helen, hesitating; 'but then, she does
laugh so very much.'

Lucy could not make any answer, for at this moment her mother called
her to make some arrangement about the luggage; but she pondered a
little on the proverb which declares that it is well to be merry and
wise.

Mrs. Hazleby had been condoling with Mr. Woodbourne upon his daughter's
misbehaviour, and declaring that her dear girls would never dream of
taking a single step without her permission, but that learning was the
ruin of young ladies.

Mr. Woodbourne listened to all this discourse very quietly, without
attempting any remark, but as soon as the Hazlebys had gone up-stairs
to put on their bonnets, he said, 'Well, I wish Miss Harriet joy of her
conscience.'

'I wish Barbara had been more gentle with those girls,' replied Mrs.
Woodbourne, with a sigh.  And this was all that passed between the
elders on the subject of the behaviour of Miss Harriet Hazleby.

Mr. Woodbourne and Rupert accompanied Mrs. Hazleby and her daughters to
the railroad station, Rupert shewing himself remarkably polite to Mrs.
Hazleby's pet baskets, and saving Lucy from carrying the largest and
heaviest of them, which generally fell to her share.



CHAPTER XIV.


'Well,' said Elizabeth, drawing a long breath, as she went out to walk
with Anne and Helen, 'there is the even-handed justice of this world.
Of the four delinquents of last Friday, there goes one with flying
colours, in all the glory of a successful deceit; you, Anne, who, to
say the best of you, acted like a very great goose, are considered as
wise as ever; I, who led you all into the scrape with my eyes wilfully
blinded, am only pitied and comforted; poor Kitty, who had less idea of
what she was doing than any of us, has had more crying and scolding
than anybody else; and Lucy, who behaved so well--oh! I cannot bear to
think of her.'

'It is a puzzle indeed,' said Helen; 'I mean as far as regards Harriet
and Lucy.'

'Not really, Helen,' said Elizabeth; 'it is only a failure in story
book justice.  Lucy is too noble a creature to be rewarded in a
story-book fashion; and as for Harriet, impunity like hers is in
reality a greater punishment than all the reproof in the world.'

'How could she sit by and listen to all that Papa and Mrs. Hazleby were
saying?' said Helen.

'How could she bear the glance of Papa's eye?' said Elizabeth; 'did you
watch it?  I thought I never saw it look so stern, and yet that
contemptible creature sat under it as contentedly as possible.  Oh! it
made me quite sick to watch her.'

Are you quite sure that she knew whether my uncle was aware of her
share in the matter?' said Anne.

'She must have seen it in that glance, or have been the most insensible
creature upon earth,' said Elizabeth.

'Ah!' said Anne, 'I have some notion what that eye of your Papa's can
be.'

'You, Anne?' said Elizabeth; 'you do not mean that you could ever have
done anything to make him look at you in that way?'

'Indeed I have,' said Anne; 'do not you remember?'

'No, indeed,' said Elizabeth.

'However, it was not quite so bad as this,' said Anne.

'But do tell us what it was,' said Elizabeth, 'or I shall think it
something uncommonly shocking.'

'I never spoke of it since, because I was too much ashamed,' said Anne;
'and it was very silly of me to do so now.'

'But when was it?' said Elizabeth.

'Two years ago,' said Anne, 'when you were all staying at Merton Hall,
just before that nice nursery-maid of yours, Susan, married our man
Evans.'

'Yes, I remember,' said Elizabeth; 'but what has that to do with your
crime, whatever it may be?'

'A great deal,' said Anne; 'do not you recollect our hunting all over
the garden one day for Winifred and Dora, and at last our asking old
Ambrose whether he had seen them?'

'Oh yes, I think I do,' said Elizabeth; 'and he said that he had seen
Susan and the children go down the blind walk.  Then I said Dora had
talked of seeing a blackbird's nest there, and he answered, with a most
comical look, 'Ah! ha! Miss Woodbourne, I fancy they be two-legged
blackbirds as Susan is gone to see.''

'Why, blackbirds have but two legs,' said Helen, looking mystified;
'what did he mean'?'

'That is exactly what Kate said,' said Elizabeth; 'but really I thought
you were sharper, Helen.  Cannot you guess?'

'Not in the least,' said Helen.

'That Evans was clipping the hedges,' said Anne.

Elizabeth and Anne indulged in a good laugh at Helen, as much as at
Ambrose, and presently Elizabeth said, 'Well, but, Anne, where is your
crime?'

'Oh! I thought you had remembered, and would spare me,' said Anne.

'But we have not,' said Elizabeth; 'so now for it.'

'Then if I am to tell,' said Anne, 'do not you recollect that I began
to tell Rupert the story in the middle of dinner, when all the servants
were there?'

'O Anne, I never fancied you such a goose!' said Elizabeth.

'My delinquencies made very little impression on you, then,' said Anne;
'I went on very fluently with the story till just as I had pronounced
the words, "two-legged blackbirds," I saw Uncle Woodbourne's eye upon
me, as he sat just opposite, with all its cold heavy sternness of
expression, and at the same moment I heard a strange suppressed snort
behind my chair.'

'Poor creature!' said Elizabeth; 'but you certainly deserved it.'

'I was ready to sink under the table,' said Anne; 'I did not dare to
look up to Papa or Mamma, and I have been very much obliged to Mamma
ever since for never alluding to that terrible dinner.'

'It is a regular proof that Fun is one of the most runaway horses in
existence,' said Elizabeth; 'very charming when well curbed, but if you
give him the rein--'

'Yes, I have been learning that by sad experience all my life,' said
Anne, with a sigh.

'You will never be silly enough to give him up, though,' said Elizabeth.

'Silly, do you call it?' said Helen.

'People think so differently on those matters,' said Anne.

'Yes, but a "spirit full of glee" is what I think the most delightful
thing in the world,' said Elizabeth, 'and so do you.'

'Yes, in old age, when its blitheness has been proved to be something
beyond animal spirits,' said Anne.

'And it is right that people should have animal spirits in their
youth,' said Elizabeth, 'not grey heads on green shoulders, like some
people of my acquaintance.--Do not be affronted, Helen; I dare say your
head will grow greener all your life, it is better to-day than it was
on Saturday morning.'

'But the worst of it is,' said Anne, 'that I believe it is very silly
of me, but I am afraid Uncle Woodbourne has always thought me a most
foolish girl ever since, and I do not like the idea of it.'

'Who would?' said Elizabeth; 'I am afraid I cannot tell you what he
thinks of your sense, but of this I am sure, that he must think you the
choicest damsel of his acquaintance, and wish his daughters were more
like you.'

'And there could not have been the same meaning in his eye when he
looked at you, as when he looked at Harriet,' said Helen.

'Oh no, I hope not,' said Anne.

'And you understood it a little better than one who can only feel
personal inconvenience,' said Elizabeth; 'but how can I blame Harriet
when I was the occasion of her fault? it is a thing I can never bear to
think of.'

As Elizabeth said this, they came to a shop where Anne wished to buy
some little presents for some children in the village at home, who, she
said, would value them all the more for not being the production of the
town nearest them.  They pursued their search for gay remnants of
coloured prints, little shawls, and pictured pocket-handkerchiefs, into
the new town, and passed by Mr. Higgins's shop, the window of which was
adorned with all the worst caricatures which had found their way to
Abbeychurch, the portraits of sundry radical leaders, embossed within a
halo of steel-pens, and a notice of a lecture on 'Personal
Respectability,' to be given on the ensuing Friday at the Mechanics'
Institute, by the Rev. W. Pierce, the Dissenting preacher.

Mr. Higgins appeared at the shop door, for the express purpose, as it
seemed, of honouring Miss Merton and Miss Woodbourne each with a very
low bow.

'There, Helen, is my punishment,' said Elizabeth; 'since you are
desirous of poetical justice upon me.'

'Not upon you,' said Helen, 'only upon Harriet.'

'Harriet has lost Fido,' said Elizabeth.

Here Rupert came to meet them, and no more was said on the subject.

Rupert obeyed his sister tolerably well during most of the day, though
he was sorely tempted to ask Elizabeth to send Anne an abstract, in
short-hand, of the lecture on Personal Respectability; but he
refrained, for he was really fond of his cousin, and very good-natured,
excepting when his vanity was offended.

Anne however was in a continual fright, for he delighted in tormenting
her by going as near the dangerous subject as he dared; and often, when
no one else thought there was any danger, she knew by the expression of
his eye that he had some spiteful allusion on his lips.  Besides, he
thought some of the speeches he had made in the morning too clever to
be wasted on his mother and sister, when his cousins were there to hear
them, and Anne could not trust to his forbearance to keep them to
himself all day, so that she kept a strict watch upon him.

In the evening, however, Mr. Woodbourne called her and Helen to play
some Psalm tunes from which he wanted to choose some for the Church. He
spoke to her in a way which made her hope that he did not think her
quite foolish, but she would have been glad to stay and keep Rupert in
order.  However, she was rejoiced to hear Elizabeth propose to him to
play at chess, and she saw them sit down very amicably.

This proposal, however, proved rather unfortunate, for Elizabeth was
victorious in the first battle, the second was a drawn game, and Rupert
lost the third, just as he thought he was winning it, from forgetting
to move out the castle's pawn after castling his king. He could not
bear to be conquered, and pushed away the chess-board rather pettishly.

'Good morning to you, Prince Rupert,' said Elizabeth triumphantly; 'do
you wish for any more?'

Rupert made no answer, but pulled the inkstand across the table, opened
the paper-case, and took up a pen.

'Oh!' said Elizabeth, 'I suppose we may expect a treatise on the art of
fortification, salient angles, and covered ways, not forgetting the
surrender of Bristol.'

No reply, but Rupert scratched away very diligently with his pen, the
inkstand preventing Elizabeth from seeing what he was about.

'Anne,' said Elizabeth, leaning back, and turning round, 'I am thinking
of making a collection of the heroes who could not bear to be beaten at
chess, beginning with Charlemagne's Paladins, who regularly beat out
each other's brains with the silver chess-board, then the Black Prince,
and Philippe of Burgundy.  Can you help me to any more?'

Anne did not hear, and Rupert remained silent as ever; and Elizabeth,
determining to let him make himself as silly as he pleased, took up her
work and sewed on her braid very composedly.  Katherine had come down
again at dinner-time, and was working in silence.  She had been
standing by the piano, but finding that no one asked her to play, or
took any notice of her, she had come back to the table.

'Dear me, Prince Rupert,' said she, looking over his shoulder, 'what
strange thing are you doing there?'

'A slight sketch,' said he, 'to be placed in Lizzie's album as a
companion to a certain paragraph which I believe she has studied.'

Rupert threw his pen-and-ink drawing down before Elizabeth.  It was
really not badly done, and she saw in a moment, by the help of the
names which he had scribbled below in his worst of all bad writing,
that it represented the Giants, Pope and Pagan, as described in the
Pilgrim's Progress, while, close to Pope, was placed a delineation very
like Don Quixote, purporting to be the superannuated Giant Chivalry,
biting his nails at a dapper little personification of 'Civil and
Religious Liberty.'  A figure whose pointed head, lame foot, and stout
walking-stick, shewed him to be intended for Sir Walter Scott, was
throwing over him an embroidered surcoat, which a most striking and
ludicrous likeness of Mr. Augustus Mills was pulling off at the other
end; and the scene was embellished by a ruined castle in the distance,
and a quantity of skulls and cross-bones in the fore-ground.  Elizabeth
could not but think it unkind of him to jest on this matter, while her
eye-lids were still burning and heavy from the tears it had caused her
to shed; but she knew Rupert well enough to be certain that it was only
a sign that he was out of temper, and had not yet conquered his old
boyish love of teazing. She put the paper into her basket, saying, in a
low tone, 'Thank you, Rupert; I shall keep it as a memorial of several
things, some of which may do me good; but I fear it will always put me
in mind that cavaliers of the present day would have little objection
to such battles as I was speaking of, even with women, if this poor old
gentleman did not retain a small degree of vitality.'

Rupert was vexed, both at being set down in a way he did not expect,
and because he was really sorry that his wounded self-conceit bad led
him to do what he saw had mortified Elizabeth more than he had intended.

'What is it? what is it?' asked Katherine.

'Never mind, Kate,' said Rupert.

'Well, but what fun is it?' persisted Katherine.

'Only downright nonsense,' said Rupert, looking down, and unconsciously
drawing very strange devices on the blotting paper, 'unworthy the
attention of so wise a lady.'

'Only the dry bones of an ill-natured joke,' said Lady Merton, who had
seen all that passed, from the other end of the table.  She spoke so
low as only to be heard by her son; but Elizabeth saw his colour
deepen, and, as he rose and went to the piano, she felt sorry for him,
and soon found an opportunity of reminding him that he had promised to
draw something for Edward's scrap-book, and asked him if he would do so
now.

'Willingly,' said Rupert, 'but only on one condition, Lizzie.'

'What?' said Elizabeth.

'That you give me back that foolish thing,' said Rupert, fixing his
eyes intently on the coach and horses which he was drawing.

'There it is,' said Elizabeth, restoring it to him.  'No, no, Rupert,
do not tear it up, it is the cleverest thing you ever drew, Sir Walter
is excellent.'

Yet, in spite of this commendation, Rupert had torn his performance
into the smallest scraps, before his sister came back to the table.

Anne had been in some anxiety ever since the conclusion of the games;
but Sir Edward and Mr. Woodbourne were standing between her and the
table, so that she could neither see nor hear, and when at length she
had finished playing, and was released, she found Rupert and Elizabeth
so quiet, and so busy with their several employments, that she greatly
dreaded that all had not gone right.  She bethought herself of the
sketches Rupert had made in Scotland, asked him to fetch them, and by
their help, she contrived to restore the usual tone of conversation
between the cousins, so that the remainder of the evening passed away
very pleasantly.

When Anne and Elizabeth awoke the following morning, Anne said that she
had remembered, the evening before, just when it was too late to do
anything, that the last Sunday Rupert had left his Prayer-book behind
him at St. Austin's; and as they were to set off on their journey
homewards immediately after breakfast, she asked Elizabeth whether
there would be time to walk to the new church and fetch it before
breakfast.

'I think it would be a very pleasant walk in the freshness of the
morning, if you like to go,' said she.

'Oh yes,' said Elizabeth, 'there is plenty of time, and I should like
the walk very much; but really, Anne, you spoil that idle boy in a
terrible way.'

'Ah! Rupert is an only son,' said Anne; 'he has a right to be spoilt.'

'Then I hope that Horace and Edward will save each other from the same
fate,' said Elizabeth; 'I do not like to see a sister made such a slave
as you have been all your life.'

'Wait till Horace and Edward are at home in the holidays before you
talk of slavery,' said Anne; 'there will be five slaves and two
masters, that will be all the difference.'

'Well are the male kind called barons in heraldry,' said Elizabeth;
'there is no denying that they are a lordly race; but I think I would
have sent Mr. Rupert up the hill himself, rather than go before
breakfast, with a day's journey before me.'

'Suppose he would not go?' said Anne.

'Let him lose his Prayer-book, then,' said Elizabeth.

'But if I had rather fetch it for him?' said Anne.

'I can only answer that there are no slaves as willing as sisters,'
said Elizabeth.

The two cousins had a pleasant morning walk up the hill, enjoying the
freshness of the morning air, and watching the various symptoms of
wakening in the town.  They carried the keys of the church with them,
as no clerk had as yet been appointed, and they were still in Mr.
Woodbourne's possession, so that it was not necessary to call anyone to
open the doors for them.

Whilst Anne was searching for the Prayer-book, Elizabeth stood in the
aisle, her eyes fixed on the bright red cross in the centre window over
the Altar.  The sun-beams were lighting it up gloriously, and from it,
her gaze fell upon the Table of Commandments, between it and the Altar.
Presently, Anne came and stood by her side in silence. 'Anne,' said
Elizabeth, after a few minutes, 'I will tell you what I have been
thinking of.  On the day when Horace laid the first stone of this
church, two years ago, something put me, I am sorry to say, into one of
my old fits of ill temper.  It was the last violent passion I ever was
in; I either learnt to control them, or outgrew them.  And now, may
this affair at the Consecration be the last of my self-will and
self-conceit; for indeed there is much that is fearfully wrong in me to
be corrected, before I can dare to think of the Confirmation.'

Perhaps we cannot take leave of Elizabeth Woodbourne at a better
moment, therefore we will say no more of her, or of the other
inhabitants of the Vicarage, but make a sudden transition to the
conversation, which Anne had hoped to enjoy on the journey back to
Merton Hall.

She had told her father of nearly all her adventures, had given Fido's
history more fully, informed Rupert of all that he had missed, and was
proceeding with an account of Helen.  'Really,' said she, 'I have much
more hope of her being happy at home, than I had at first.'

'I will answer for it that she will be happy enough,' said Rupert; 'she
has been living on flummery for the last half-year, and you cannot
expect her to be contented with mutton-chops just at first.'

'Helen does not find so much fault with the mutton-chops as with the
pepper Lizzie adds to them,' said Anne.

'I should be sorry to live without pepper,' said Rupert.

'I am not so sure of that,' said Lady Merton.

'At least you do not wish to have enough to choke you,' said Anne; 'you
must have it in moderation.'

'I think Lizzie is learning moderation,' said Lady Merton; 'she is
acquiring more command of impulse, and Helen more command of feeling,
so that I think there is little danger of their not agreeing.'

'Is it not curious, Mamma,' said Anne, 'that we should have been
talking of the necessity of self-control, just before we set out on
this visit, when I told you that line of Burns was your motto; and now
we find that the want of it is the reason of all that was wrong between
those two sisters.  I wonder whether we could make out that any more of
the follies we saw in this visit were caused by the same deficiency in
anyone else.'

'Beginning at home?' said Sir Edward.

'Of course, Papa,' said Anne; 'I know that my failure in self-control
has done mischief, though I cannot tell how much.  I laughed at the
Hazlebys continually, in spite of Mamma's warning, and encouraged
Lizzie to talk of them when I had better not have done so; and I
allowed myself to be led away by eagerness to hear that foolish
lecture.  I suppose I want control of spirits.'

'And now having finished our own confession, how merrily we begin upon
our neighbours!' said Rupert; 'whom shall we dissect first?'

'Indeed, Rupert,' said Anne, 'I do not want to make the most of their
faults, I only wish to study their characters, because I think it is a
useful thing to do.  Now I do not see that Kate's faults are occasioned
by want of self-control; do you think they are, Mamma?'

'Do you think that piece of thistle-down possesses any self-control?'
said Rupert.

'You mean that Kate does not control her own conduct at all, but is
drifted about by every wind that blows,' said Anne; 'yes, it was Miss
Hazleby's influence that made her talk so much more of dress than
usual, and really seem sillier than I ever saw her before.'

'And what do you say of the fair Harriet herself?' said Rupert.

'Nothing,' said Anne.

'And Mrs. Hazleby is her daughter in a magnifying glass,' said Rupert;
'a glorious specimen of what you all may come to.  And Mrs. Woodbourne?'

'Oh! I have nothing to do with the elders,' said Anne; 'but if you want
me to find you a fault in her, I shall say that she ought to control
her unwillingness to correct people.  And now we have discussed almost
everyone.'

'From which discussion,' said Rupert, 'it appears that of all the
company at Abbeychurch, the sole possessor of that most estimable
quality, the root of all other excellencies, is--your humble servant.'

On this unfortunate speech of poor Rupert's, father, mother, and
sister, all set up a shout of laughter, which lasted till Rupert began
to feel somewhat enraged.

'Oh! I did not say that I had done with everybody,' said Anne; 'but,
perhaps, whatever I might think, I might not have presumed--'

'O Rupert!' said Lady Merton,

          'Could some fay the giftie gie us
           To see oursels as others see us--'


'Mamma's beloved Burn's Justice again,' interrupted Rupert.

'No, no, we do not mean to let our mouths be stopped,' said Lady
Merton; 'such a challenge must be answered.'

'Shew him no mercy, Anne,' said Sir Edward; 'he likes pepper.'

'Pray, Rupert,' said Anne, 'what would you have been without
self-control, if, possessing such a quantity of it, you still allowed
so much spirit of mischief to domineer over you, that you frightened
Dora out of her wits about Winifred, and tormented Helen all the way to
Whistlefar, and worst of all, that you could not help writing that
wicked poem, and then pretending that it was mine; why, it was an
outrage upon us all, it would have been bad enough if the name had
belonged to no one, but when you knew that he was a real man--'

'And that Miss Hazleby wrote his name on purpose that something of the
kind might be done,' said Rupert; 'I gratified her beyond measure, and
then was so kind and disinterested as to give you the credit of it, if
you would have accepted it.  You may be sure that she will shew the
poem to her hero, and tell him what a charming fellow that young Rupert
Merton is.'

'Now just listen, Mamma,' said Anne; 'I begged of Mr. Rupert not to
write anything about Fido in the Conglomeration on Saturday evening;
and because I did so, he would write nothing on his own account, but
pretending to read my verses, he brings out a horrible composition
about a certain Mr. Francis Hollis, who, Miss Hazelby had been telling
us, had been the means of her going to an officers' ball, at Hull, and
whom she had danced with--'

'Capital, capital!' cried Rupert; 'I never heard all this; I did not
know how good my poem was, I knew the truth by intuition.'

'But having heard this made it all the worse for me,' said Anne; 'and
Mamma, this dreadful doggerel--'

'Anne, I declare--' cried Rupert.

'And, Mamma, this dreadful doggerel,' proceeded Anne, 'proposed to send
Fido's heart to this Mr. Hollis, and so put him in raptures with a gift
from Miss Hazleby, and fill his mind with visions of a surrogate, and a
wedding tour to Harrogate.  Now was it not the most impertinent
ungentlemanlike thing you ever heard of?'

'How can you talk such nonsense, Anne?' said Rupert; 'do you think I
should have written it, if I had not known it would please her?'

'I believe you would not have dared to behave in such a manner to
Lizzie, or to anyone else who knew what was due to her,' said Anne; 'if
Miss Hazleby is vain and vulgar, she is still a woman, and ought to be
respected as such.'

Rupert laughed rather provokingly. 'It is just as I say,' said Anne;
'now is it not, Mamma?'

'Oh yes, Anne,' said Rupert, 'perfectly right, you have caught Helen's
sententious wisdom exactly; I have no doubt that such were the thoughts
which passed through her mind, while she sat like propriety
personified, wondering how you could have so little sense of decorum as
to laugh at anything so impudent.'

'I know I ought not to have laughed,' said Anne; 'that was one of the
occasions when I did not exert sufficient self-control.  But there was
really very little to laugh at, it was quite an old joke.  Rupert had
disposed of Fido's heart long before, but he is so fond of his own wit,
that he never knows when we have had enough of a joke.'

'I could tell you of something much worse, Anne,' said Lady Merton,
'which quite proves the truth of what you say.'

Rupert coloured, made an exclamation about something in the road, and
seemed so much discomposed by this hint, that Anne forbore to ask any
questions.

'Rupert fitted himself to a T, that we must say for him,' said Sir
Edward.

'What do you mean, Papa?' said Anne.

'There is another word which begins with self-con--' said Lady Merton,'
which suits him remarkably well.'

'Ah! ha!' cried Anne.

'At any rate,' cried Rupert vigorously, 'do not make it appear as if I
were the only individual with a tolerable opinion of my own
advantages--when Helen looks like the picture of offended dignity if
you presume to say a syllable contrary to some of her opinions, or in
disparagement of dear Dykelands; and Kate thinks herself the most
lovely creature upon earth, and the only useful person in the house;
and Harriet believes no one her equal in the art of fascination; and
Mrs. Woodbourne thinks no children come within a mile of hers in beauty
and excellence; and Lizzie--'

'I am sure few people are more humble-minded than Lizzie,' interrupted
Anne indignantly.

'What, when she would take no one's advice but her own, if it were to
save her life?' said Rupert.

'But she thinks everyone better than herself, and makes no parade
either of her talents or of her usefulness,' said Anne.

'Still she has a pretty high opinion of her own judgement,' said Rupert.

'Well she may,' said Anne.

'When it leads her to go to Mechanics' Institutes,' said Rupert; 'that
is the reason Anne respects her so much.'

'I advise you to throw no stones at her, Sir,' said Sir Edward; 'it
would be well if some people of my acquaintance were as upright in
acknowledging deficiencies in themselves, as she is.'

'Besides, I cannot see that Helen is conceited,' said Anne; 'if she
was, she would not be made unhappy by other people's criticisms.'

'Helen wants a just estimate of herself,' said Lady Merton; 'she cares
more for what people say of what she does, than whether it is good in
itself.'

'But, Anne,' said Sir Edward, 'why do not you claim to be the only
person in the world devoid of conceit?'

'Because I am conceited in all the ways which Rupert has mentioned,'
said Anne; 'I believe myself witty, and wise, and amiable, and useful,
and agreeable, and I do not like taking advice, and I am very angry
when my friends are abused, and I do believe I think I have the most
exquisite brother in the world; and besides, if I said I was not
conceited it would be the best possible proof of the contrary.--But,
Mamma, there is a person whom we have not mentioned, who has no conceit
and plenty of self-control.'

'Do you mean little Dora?' said Lady Merton.

'No, not Dora, though I am pretty much of Mrs. Woodbourne's opinion
respecting her,' said Anne; 'I meant one who is always overlooked, Miss
Lucy Hazleby.'

'She may have every virtue upon earth for aught I know,' said Rupert;
'I can only testify that she has un grand talent pour le silence.'

'I only know her from what my cousins told me,' said Anne; 'they seem
to have a great respect for her, though Helen is the only person she
ever seems to talk to.  I never could make her speak three words to me.'

'She has a fine countenance and very sweet expression, certainly,' said
Lady Merton.

'Poor girl,' said Sir Edward; 'she blushes so much, that it was almost
painful to look at her.'

'You seem to be utterly deficient in proofs of her excellence,' said
Rupert; 'you will leave her a blank page at last.'

'Pages are not always blank when you see nothing on them,' said Lady
Merton; 'characters may be brought out by the fire.'

'Yes, Mamma, the fire of temptation,' said Anne; 'and I have heard Lucy
tried by her mother's violence, and she never concealed any part of the
truth as far as only regarded herself, even to avoid those terrible
unjust reproofs, and put herself forward to bear her sister's share of
blame; and she was firm in turning back from the Mechanics' Institute
when her sister scolded her.'

'Firmness, which, in so timid a person, proved that she had more
self-control than any of you,' said Sir Edward.

'Then let us wind up the history of our visit in a moral style,' said
Anne, 'and call it a lesson on Self-control and Self-conceit.'

'Nonsense,' said Rupert; 'do you think that if anyone read its history,
they would learn any such lesson unless you told them beforehand?'

'Perhaps not,' said Sir Edward, 'as you have not learnt it from your
whole life.'

'No,' said Lady Merton; 'that lesson is not to be learnt by anyone who
is not on the watch for it.'

'So we conclude with Mamma's wisdom,' said Rupert.

'And Rupert's folly,' said Anne.



THE END





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