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Title: It May Be True  Volume 1 of 3
Author: Wood, Mrs. Henry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "It May Be True  Volume 1 of 3" ***

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    A NOVEL.


    MRS. WOOD.

    VOL. I.






    Had'st thou lived in days of old,
    O, what wonders had been told
    Of thy lively countenance,
    And thy humid eyes that dance
    In the midst of their own brightness,
    In the very fane of lightness;
    Over which thine eyebrows, leaning,
    Picture out each lovely meaning;
    In a dainty bend they lie
    Like the streaks across the sky,
    Or the feathers from a crow,
    Fallen on a bed of snow.

The village of Ashleigh is situated in one of the most lovely and
romantic of the English counties; where mountains, valleys, woods and
forest trees appear to vie with each other in stately magnificence. The
village is literally embosomed amongst the trees. Lofty elms, majestic
oaks, and wide-spreading beech trees grow in and around it. On one side,
as far as the eye can reach, are mountains covered with verdure, with
all their varied and lovely tints of green. On the other side the view
is partially obstructed by a mass of forest trees growing in clumps, or
forming an arch overhead, through which nevertheless may be gained a
peep of the distant sea, with its blue waves, and sometimes the white
sails of a ship; or, on a clear day, even the small fishermen's boats
can be distinguished dotted here and there like small pearls.

Ashleigh has its country inn and ivy-mantled church, with the small
house dignified as the Parsonage, close by. Other houses are sprinkled
here and there down the green lanes, or along the road, shaded by its
lofty elms, at the end of which, on a small eminence, stands the Manor
or "Big House," as the villagers call it.

It is a large, brick building, but with nothing grand or imposing about
it; in fact, but for the lovely grounds and plantations on a small scale
around, the clematis, jasmine and other beautiful creepers, too numerous
to mention, trained up its walls, and hanging in luxuriant festoons
about the porch, and the dark ivy which almost covers the roof, the
whole of one side, and part of the front itself, it would be an ugly,
unwieldy-looking edifice; as it was, everything appeared bright and

Before you reach the village, a bridge crosses a small stream which
flows from the hill-side, and after winding gracefully and silently
through the midst, passes by the mill and being just seen like a long
thin thread of silver in the distance, is lost in the rich meadows

It was the beautiful spring time of the year:--

    "The delicate-footed May,
    With its slight fingers full of leaves and flowers."

The sun was just setting in all its regal splendour beneath the deep
rich crimson sky, throwing long dim shadows from the stately trees which
over-arched the road along which a young girl was slowly wending her
way. Her figure was slight, yet her step--although she appeared very
young--had none of the buoyancy or elasticity of youth. It was slow;
almost mournful. But either the graceful figure or step itself had a
certain dignified pride, neither stately, haughty, nor commanding;
perhaps it combined all three. Her face was very lovely. Fair golden
masses of hair waved under the broad straw hat she wore, while her eyes
were shaded by long, dark silken lashes. She had a clear, high forehead,
and a delicately fair complexion. Such was Amy Neville. She paused as
she reached the bridge, and, leaning against the low masonry at the
side, looked back. Nothing could be lovelier than the scene she gazed
on. The sun, as we have said, was just setting, and the sea, distinctly
seen from the bridge, looked like one large, broad mirror, its waves
dashing here and there like glittering diamonds. Far off, touched by
the last rays of the sun, the white cliffs stood out grandly, while
birds chirped and warbled among the leafy branches; groups of merry,
noisy children played in the village, under the shade of the elms,
through which here and there long thin white wreaths of smoke curled
gracefully and slowly upwards.

A cart, with its team of horses, roused Amy from her reverie, and she
went into the lane where the hedge-rows were one mass of wild flowers.
The delicate primrose, yellow cowslips, blue-bells, bryony, travellers'
joy, and a number of others, almost rivalling in their loveliness the
painted, petted ones in our own cultivated parterres, grew here in wild
luxuriance, and as Amy sauntered slowly on, she filled the basket she
carried on her arm with their beauty and fragrance. As she came in sight
of one of the houses before mentioned, a child of about ten years of age
came flying down the narrow garden-walk to meet her. Throwing her arms
round her neck she upset Amy's basket of treasures, covering her dark
hair with the lovely buds and blossoms. Leaving her to collect the
scattered flowers, Amy passed into the cottage, her home.

"You are late, Amy," said a voice, as she entered the little sitting
room, "or otherwise I have wished to see you more than usual, and am
impatient. Sarah has been eagerly watching the road ever since her
return from her walk. Poor child! I fear she misses her young school

"I think I am rather later than usual, mamma, but old Mrs. Collins was
more than usually talkative; so full of her ailments and griefs, I
really was quite vexed with her at last, as if no one in the world
suffers as she does. Then the evening was so lovely, I loitered at the
bridge to watch the sun set; you can have no idea how beautiful it was;
and the wild flowers in the lane, I could not resist gathering them,"
and throwing her hat carelessly on the table, Amy seated herself on a
low stool at her mother's feet.

"And why have you wished to see me so much, and what makes you look so
sad, dear mamma?" she asked, as Mrs. Neville laid her hand caressingly
on the masses of golden hair.

Receiving no reply, she bent her eager, loving eyes on her mother's
face. There was a sad, almost painful expression overshadowing the eyes,
and compressing the lips, and it was some time ere Mrs. Neville met her
gaze, and then tears had gathered under the long eyelashes, though none
rested on her cheek.

"I have been for a drive with Mrs. Elrington, Amy."

Amy turned away her face; she dared not trust herself to meet those
mournful eyes, expressing as they did all the grief she feared to
encounter; so she turned away, lest she also should betray emotion which
must be overcome, or be wanting in firmness to adhere to the plan she
had formed, a plan she knew to be right, and therefore to be carried
out; if the courage and resolution of which she had so boasted to Mrs.
Elrington did not give way in the now wished for, yet half-dreaded

"And she mentioned the letter to you, mamma?" asked Amy.

"She did. And much more beside. She tried to talk me over; tried to make
me give my consent to parting with you, my dear child."

"And did you consent, dear mamma? Did Mrs. Elrington tell you how much I
had set my heart upon going?"

"You wish to leave me, Amy?" asked Mrs. Neville reproachfully. "Think
how lonely I should be. How I should miss the thousand kind things you
do for me. And when I am sad, who will cheer me as you have done? I
cannot part with you, my child. It is too hard a trial. I cannot bring
myself to think of it!"

"But, mamma," replied Amy, pausing to stifle her rising emotion. "You
have Sarah, and she is full of fun and spirits, and always laughing and
merry, or singing about the house. And then, dear old Hannah will, I
know, do her best to fill my place, so that after a while you will
scarcely miss my sober face, and I am sure it is what I ought to do,
dear mamma, instead of remaining here in idleness, and seeing you daily
deprived of all the many comforts you have been accustomed to; and think
of the pleasure it would give me to know and feel I am working for you,
my own dear mother;" and Amy drew her mother's arm fondly round her

"Slaving for me, Amy! A governess's life is a life of slavery, though to
you it may appear all sunshine. A path of thorns; no bed of roses, such
as your excited fancy may have sketched out."

"No, mamma; you are wrong. I have thought over all the discomforts,
mortifications, slavery, if you will, and it does not alter my opinion.
I am willing to bear them all; and Mrs. Elrington, whom you love so much
and think so highly of, told me she thought if you gave your consent it
was the very best thing I could do. Nearly a month ago the idea entered
my head; and she offered then to write to a friend who she thought
might want a governess for her children, and I have pondered upon it
ever since. Do consent, dear mamma, pray do. Indeed you must let me have
my way in this."

"Well, Amy dear, I will say no more; I half promised Mrs. Elrington
before I came in; and now I give my consent; may I never have to regret
it," and Mrs. Neville turned away and bent her head over her work that
her daughter might not see the tears that were fast filling her eyes.

"Oh, thank you, again and again, dear mamma," said Amy, rising and
kissing her pale cheek, "I will go at once and tell Mrs. Elrington; see
it is not yet dusk, and I shall be back before Hannah has prepared the
tea table; or if not, quite in time to make the tea."

Mrs. Neville, Amy's mother, was dressed in deep mourning, her once dark
hair, now tinged with grey, smoothly braided beneath the close-fitting
widow's cap. The large, dark mournful eyes, the small delicate
features, the beautifully formed mouth, all told that Amy's mother must
once have been gifted with no common share of beauty. Sorrow more than
time had marked its ravages on her once fair face.

She had married early in life, and much against the wishes of her
friends, who did not approve of the poor but handsome Captain Neville.
Some years after their marriage, by the sudden and unlooked-for death of
an uncle and cousin, he came into a large property; but whether this
unexpected accession of wealth, with the temptations with which he was
surrounded in his new sphere, changed his heart, or whether the seeds
were there before, only requiring opportunity and circumstances to call
them forth into action; who can tell? Suffice it to say, he ran a sad
career of dissipation; and at his death little indeed remained for his
widow and children. And now the once courted, flattered, and admired
Sarah Barton, bred up and nurtured in the lap of luxury, with scarcely a
wish ungratified; was living in a small cottage, and her beloved child
on the eve of departing from her home, to be that poor despised being--a
governess. Captain Neville had been dead about four months, and his
widow mourned for him as the father of her children, thought of him as
he had been to her in the first early days of their married life, the
fond and loving husband.

Amy did not return till late. Mrs. Elrington had promised to write to
the lady that evening; and less than three days might bring the answer.

As day after day passed, poor Amy's heart beat fast; and her slight form
trembled whenever she heard the little gate opened, leading into the
small garden before the house; yet day after day passed by, and still
Mrs. Elrington came not; and Amy almost feared her kind old friend had
forgotten her promise, or, what was still worse, her application to the
lady had failed.

About ten days afterwards, one morning, as Amy sat with her mother in
the little sitting room, working and listening to the exclamations of
delight that fell from the lips of her little sister Sarah, who was
wondering how dear dolly would look in the smart new dress Amy was
making for her, the sound of approaching carriage wheels was dully heard
coming down the road. Presently a pony chaise drew up before the gate.
Amy could hardly draw her breath as she recognized from the window the
slow and measured step, the tall and stately figure of her kind old
friend; and gently pushing away her sister, who attempted to detain her,
probably disappointed at the unfinished state of dolly's frock, and not
daring to look at her mother, she went and met the old lady at the door.

"Dear Mrs. Elrington, I thought you would never come! Have you heard
from the lady, and what does she say?"

"Yes, Amy, I have heard twice from the lady since I saw you; but I
thought it best not to come until I had received a definite answer."

"It is very kind of you to come at all, dear Mrs. Elrington. But have
you been successful? Is the answer favourable?"

"Yes, Amy. The lady has engaged you, but there are three little girls,
not two, as I at first thought; however they are very young, and I hope
your trouble will be slight."

Poor Amy! What she had so long sighed and wished for, now seemed in its
stern reality the greatest calamity that could have befallen her. She
thought of her mother, whose comfort, solace, and companion she was, how
lonely she would be; what could or would she do without her? Must she,
indeed, leave her and her home where, for the last few months she had
been so happy, and live amongst strangers, who cared not for her? Must
she leave her birds, her flowers, all the thousand attractions and
associations of home? Yes, she must give up all, and only bear them
closer in her heart, not see and feel them every day; and as these
thoughts crossed her mind, tears she could not keep down welled up into
her eyes; they would not be controlled, and looking up and meeting Mrs.
Elrington's pitying gaze bent full on her, with a smothered sob she hid
her face on her kind friend's shoulder.

Mrs. Elrington suffered her to weep on in silence, and some minutes
elapsed ere Amy raised her head, and, smiling through her tears, took
Mrs. Elrington's hand and led her to the door of the room she had just
quitted and calling her sister, left the friends together.

An hour afterwards, when Amy entered the room, her mother was alone,
Mrs. Elrington was gone.

The widow's head rested on her hand, and tears were falling fast upon a
small miniature of Amy that her husband had had taken, for he had been
proud of his daughter's beauty.

She heard not Amy's light step, and the daughter bent softly over her
mother, and pressed her lips gently to her forehead. "My child." "My
mother." And they were folded in one long, mournful embrace.

It was the first--the last time Amy ever gave way before her mother; she
felt she must have strength for both; and nobly she bore up against her
own sorrowful feelings, smothered every rising emotion of her heart, and
prayed that her widowed mother might be comforted and supported during
her absence, and her own steps guided aright in the new path which lay
so gloomily before her.

Mrs. Elrington was now almost constantly with them; Amy had begged it as
a favour, for she felt she could not do without the kind old lady, who
was ever ready with her cheerful voice and pleasant, hopeful words to
cheer her mother's drooping spirits.

How fast the days flew by! It was Amy's last evening at home; in a few
short hours she would be far away from all those she loved.

A heavy cloud seemed to hang over the little party assembled round the
tea table, and scarce a word was spoken.

As the tea things were being removed, Mrs. Elrington went softly out,
and the widow, drawing her chair near her daughter's, clasped her hand
in hers, and in a low voice spoke long and earnestly words of love and
advice, such as only a mother knows how to speak.

Often in after years did Amy call to remembrance the sad, sweet smile,
the gentle, earnest voice with which her mother's last words of love
were uttered.



    Spring by Spring the branches duly
      Clothe themselves in tender flower;
    And for her sweet sake as truly
      All their fruit and fragrance shower:
    But the stream with careless laughter,
      Runs in merry beauty by,
    And it leaves me, yearning after
      Lorn to weep, and lone to die.
    In my eyes the syren river
      Sings and smiles up in my face;
    But for ever and for ever,
      Runs from my embrace.


As we shall have occasion to speak of Mrs. Elrington often in these
pages, some description of her is necessary, though a very slight one
will suffice.

She lived in the large house called the Manor, before described, and
had lived there for years in lonely solitude. She was a widow, and
although the widow's cap had long ago been laid aside, yet in other
respects her dress had altered little since the day she had first worn
widow's weeds; it was always black; even the bonnet was of the same
sombre hue, the cap, collar, and cuffs alone offering any relief to it.
Her features were very handsome, and her figure tall, upright, and
stately. Her hair was perfectly snow white, drawn off the high broad
forehead, under a simple cap; she was greatly beloved, as also held in
some slight awe; her voice was peculiarly soft, and when she spoke a
pleasant smile seemed to hover about her face which never failed to
gladden the hearts of those whom she addressed; but in general the
expression of her features when in repose was sad.

Mrs. Elrington and Mrs. Neville were old friends, which accounted
perhaps for the latter's choice of Ashleigh as a home on her husband's
death. They had both been severely tried with this world's sorrows; the
one years ago, the coveting either rank or riches, whichever leads on
to the one darling object of life only to be obtained by possessing
either one or both of these, and thereby sacrificing your love or
perhaps breaking your heart in the act of stepping over it to reach the
goal he longs for; and which, when attained, must, under these
circumstances bear its sting, and make him look back regretfully to the
time gone by for ever; or, perhaps worse still, to days too painful to

"I would far rather it would be so; than that a man should love me for
either my rank or riches, but having neither, perhaps no one will think
me worth having, or take the trouble to fall in love with me."

Mrs. Elrington smiled as she looked at the lovely, almost scornful face
now lifted to hers, and thought what a stumbling block it would prove in
many a man's path in life.

"You are laughing at me," exclaimed Amy, as she caught the smile on the
old lady's face. "Do let us talk of something else; of Mrs. Linchmore,
for instance; I do so want to know what she is like, only you never will
tell me."

"Because I cannot Amy; it is years since we met," replied Mrs.
Elrington, in a hard tone; "so that what she is like now I cannot
describe; you will have to do that when next we meet."

"But then," persisted Amy, "in that long ago time what was she like?"

"Very beautiful. A slight, tall, graceful figure, pliant as a reed. Eyes
dark as jet, and hair like a raven's wing. Are you satisfied, Amy?"

"Not quite. I still want to know what her character was. I am quite
satisfied that she must have been very beautiful."

"She was as a girl more than beautiful. There was a charm, a softness in
her manner that never failed to allure to her side those she essayed to
please. But in the end she grew vain of her loveliness, and paraded it
as a snare, until it led her to commit a great sin."

"She may be altered now," exclaimed Amy, "altered for the better."

"She must be grievously altered. Grief and remorse must have done their
work slowly but surely, for I never will believe that her heart has been
untouched by them."

"I am afraid I shall not like her," replied Amy, "and I had so made up
my mind that as your friend I should like her at once."

"We are not friends, Amy! Never can be now! Did we meet to-morrow it
would be as strangers. Let us speak of her no more. I cannot bear it,"
exclaimed Mrs. Elrington in an agitated voice, but after a moment her
face grew calm again, and she moved away looking more sorrowful than
angry; but Amy could not help wishing with all her heart that her
journey that day were miles away from Brampton Park; but there was
scarcely time for thought, for in another moment the coach was at the
door, and although bitter tears were shed when the last kiss was given,
Amy tried to smile through her tears and to be sanguine as to the
future, while Mrs. Neville was resigned, or apparently so, and little
Sarah--the only one who gave way to her grief unrestrained--sobbed as if
her heart would break, and when old Hannah took her by force almost,
from her sister's arms, she burst into a perfect passion of tears, which
lasted long after the coach was out of sight which conveyed Amy partly
on her road to her future home.

The morning was hot and sultry, one of those warm spring days, when
scarcely a breath of air disturbs the hum of the bee, or interrupts the
song of the birds; not a leaf stirred, even the flowers in the garden
scarcely lent their sweet perfume to the light wind; and the rippling
noise the little stream made gently gliding over the pebbly ground could
be distinctly heard from the cottage.

In the lane just outside the gate were collected a number of men, women,
and children; some out of curiosity, but by far the greater number to
bid farewell to, and to see the last of their beloved Miss Amy; for
although so recent an inhabitant, she was a general favourite in the
village, and numberless were the blessings she received as she stepped
past them into the coach, and with a fervent "God bless you," from Mrs.
Elrington, she was gone.

It was evening before she reached Brampton Park, her future home, and
the avenue of trees under which she passed were dimly seen in the bright

It was a long avenue, much longer than the elm tree road at Ashleigh,
yet it bore some resemblance to it; the trees as large and stately, and
the road as broad; but instead of the fragrant flowers in the little
lane at one end, Amy could discern a spacious lawn stretching far away
on one side, while the house, large, old fashioned, and gloomy rose
darkly to view on the other; but within a bright lamp hung in the large,
old handsome hall, illuminating a beautifully carved oak staircase.
Pictures of lords and ladies, in old fashioned dresses, were hanging on
the walls; Amy fancied they gazed sternly at her from out their time
worn frames, as she passed by them, and entered a large handsome
drawing-room, where easy couches, soft sofas, luxurious chairs of every
size and shape, inviting to repose and ease, seemed scattered about in
happy confusion. Crimson silk curtains hung in rich heavy folds before
the windows; a carpet as soft as velvet covered the floor; alabaster
vases and figures adorned the many tables; lamps hung from the ceiling;
in short everything that taste suggested and money could buy, was there.

At the further end of this room, or rather an inner room beyond,
connected by large folding doors, sat a lady reclining in a large arm
chair; one hand rested on a book in her lap, the other languidly on the
curly head of a little girl, kneeling at her feet; her dark hair lay in
rich glossy bands, on either temple, and was gathered in a knot at the
back of her small, beautifully shaped head, under a lace cap; a dark
silk dress fitted tight to her almost faultless figure, and fell in
graceful folds from her slender waist; a little lace collar, fastened by
a pearl brooch (the only ornament she wore), completed her attire, which
was elegant and simple. Her eyes were dark and piercing, the nose and
chin well-shaped, but perhaps a little too pointed; and the mouth small
and beautiful. Such was Mrs. Linchmore, the mother of two of Amy's
pupils. She was generally considered handsome, though few admired her
haughty manners, or the scornful expression of her face.

Mrs. Elrington had sent Mrs. Linchmore a slight sketch of Amy's history,
and had also mentioned that she was very young; yet Mrs. Linchmore was
scarcely prepared to see so delicate and fragile a being as the young
girl before her. A feeling of compassion filled her heart as she gazed
on Amy's sweet face, and her manner was less haughty than usual, and her
voice almost kind as she spoke.

"I fear, Miss Neville, you must have had a very unpleasant journey; the
weather to-day has been more than usually warm, and a coach--I believe
you came part of the way in one--not a very agreeable conveyance."

"I was the only inside passenger," replied Amy, seating herself in a
chair opposite Mrs. Linchmore, "so that I did not feel the heat much;
but I am rather tired; the after journey in the train, and then the
drive from the station here, has fatigued me greatly."

"You must indeed be very tired and depressed, one generally is after any
unusual excitement, and this must have been a very trying day for you,
Miss Neville, leaving your home and all those you love; but I trust ere
long you will consider this house your home, and I hope become
reconciled to the change, though I cannot expect it will ever compensate
for the one you have lost."

"Oh, not lost!" exclaimed Amy, raising her tearful eyes, "not lost, only
exchanged for a time; self-exiled, I ought to say."

"Self-exiled we will call it, if you like; a pleasant one I hope it
will be. Mr. Linchmore and I have promised Mrs. Elrington we will do all
we can to make it so. I hope we may not find it a difficult task to
perform. The _will_ will not be wanting on my part to insure success, if
I find you such as Mrs. Elrington describes."

"She is a very kind person," murmured Amy.

"She was always fond of young people, and very kind to them, so long as
they allowed her to have her own way; but she did not like being
thwarted. Her will was a law not to be disobeyed by those she loved,
unless they wished to incur her eternal displeasure. I suppose she is
quite the old lady now. It is," continued Mrs. Linchmore, with a
scarcely audible sigh, "nine long years since I saw her."

"She does not appear to me very old," replied Amy, "but nine years is a
long time, and she may have altered greatly."

"Most likely not," replied Mrs. Linchmore, in a cold tone. "Life to her
has been one bright sunshine. She has had few cares or troubles."

"Indeed, Mrs. Linchmore!" exclaimed Amy, forgetting in her haste her new
dependent position. "I have heard Mamma say that the death of her
husband early in life was a sore trial to her, as also that of her son,
which occurred not so very long ago."

"You mistake me, Miss Neville," replied Mrs. Linchmore, more coldly and
haughtily, "those may be trials, but were not the troubles I spoke of."

Amy was silenced, though she longed to ask what heavier trials there
could be, but she dared not add more in her kind friend's defence; as it
was, she fancied she detected an angry light in Mrs. Linchmore's dark
eyes as they flashed on her while she was speaking, and a proud, almost
defiant curl of the under lip.

Amy felt chilled as she recalled to mind Mrs. Elrington's words, that
she and Mrs. Linchmore never could be friends; and wondered not as she
gazed at the proud, haughty face before her, and then thought of the
gentle, loving look of her old friend. No; they could not be friends,
they could have nothing in common. How often had Mrs. Elrington
expressed a hope that Amy would learn to love her pupils, but never a
desire or wish that she might love their Mother also; and then the
description which Amy had so often eagerly asked, and which only that
morning had been granted her; how it had saddened her heart, and
predisposed her to think harshly of Mrs. Linchmore.

There must be something hidden away from sight, something that had
separated these two years ago. What was it? Had it anything to do with
that dread sin Mrs. Elrington had lately touched upon, and of which Amy
had longed, but dared not ask an explanation? If they had loved each
other once, what had separated them now? Where was the charm and
softness of manner which almost made the loveliness Mrs. Elrington had
spoken of? Very beautiful Amy thought the lady before her, but there was
nothing about her to win a girl's love, or draw her heart to her at
first sight.

How strange all this seemed now. She had never thought of it before. It
had never occurred to her. Her thoughts and feelings had been too
engrossed, too much wrapt up in regret at leaving her home, and
arranging for her Mother's comfort after her departure, to think of
anything else; but now, the more she pondered, the more extraordinary it
seemed, and the more difficult it was to arrive at any satisfactory
conclusion, and the impression her mind was gradually assuming was a
painful one.

A light, mocking laugh from her companion startled Amy; it grated
harshly on her ears, and snapped the thread of her perplexing thoughts.

"I doubt," said Mrs. Linchmore, as the laugh faded away to an almost
imperceptible curl of the lip; while her head was thrown haughtily back,
and she proudly met Amy's astonished gaze; "I doubt if Mrs. Elrington
would recognise me; nine years, as you wisely remark, may effect--though
not always--a great change. It has on me; many may possibly think for
the better; _she_ will say for the worse. But time, however hateful it
may be for many reasons, changing, as it does sadly, our outward
appearance; yet what wonderful changes it effects inwardly. It has one
very great advantage in my eyes, it brings forgetfulness; so that the
longer we live the less annoying to us are the faults and follies of
youth; they gradually fade from our vision. I could laugh now at Mrs.
Elrington's bitter remarks and sarcastic words; they would not cause me
one moment's uneasiness."

Amy was spared any reply by little Alice suddenly rising, and claiming
her mother's attention.

"This is the youngest of your pupils, Miss Neville. Alice dear, put down
my scissors, and go and speak to that lady."

The little girl, who had been staring at Amy ever since she entered, now
looked sullenly on the floor, but paid no attention to her mother's

"Go, dear, go! Will you not make friends with your new governess?"

"No I won't!" she exclaimed, with flashing eyes. "Nurse says she is a
naughty, cross woman, and I don't love her."

"Oh, fie! Nurse is very wrong to say such things. You see how much your
services are required, Miss Neville. I fear you will find this little
one sadly spoilt; she is a great pet of her papa's and mine."

"I trust," replied Amy, "we shall soon be good friends. Alice, dear,
will you not try and love me? I am not cross or naughty," and she
attempted to take the little hand Alice held obstinately beneath her

"No, no! go away, go away. I won't love you!"

At this moment the door opened, and Mr. Linchmore entered. He was a
fine, tall looking man, with a pleasing expression of countenance, and
his manner was so kind as he welcomed Amy that he won her heart at once.
"Hey-day!" he exclaimed, "was it Alice's voice I heard as I came
downstairs? I am afraid, Isabella, you keep her up too late. It is high
time she was in bed and asleep. We shall have little pale cheeks,
instead of these round rosy ones," added he, as the little girl climbed
his knee, and looked up fondly in his face.

"She was not in the least sleepy," replied his wife, "and begged so hard
to be allowed to remain, that I indulged her for once."

"Ah! well," said he, smiling, and glancing at Amy. "We shall have a
grand reformation soon. But where are Edith and Fanny?"

"They were so naughty I was obliged to send them away up stairs. Fanny
broke the vase Charles gave me last winter."

"By-the-by, I have just heard from Charles; he has leave from his
regiment for a month, and is going to Paris; but is coming down here for
a few days before he starts, just to say good-bye."

"One of his 'flying visits,' as he calls them. How sorry I am!"

"Sorry! why so?"

"Because he promised to spend his leave with us. What shall we do
without him? and how dull it will be here."

A cloud passed over her husband's face, but he made no reply; and a
silence somewhat embarrassing ensued, only broken some minutes after by
the nurse, who came to fetch Alice to bed, and Amy gladly availed
herself of Mrs. Linchmore's permission to retire at the same time.

They went up a short flight of stairs, and down a long corridor, or
gallery, then through another longer still, when nurse, half opening a
door to the left, exclaimed,--

"This is to be the school-room, miss. I thought you might like to see it
before you went to bed. Madam has ordered your tea to be got ready for
you there, though I'm thinking it's little you'll eat and drink
to-night, coming all alone to a strange place. However you'll may be
like to see Miss Edith and Miss Fanny, and they're both in here, Miss
Fanny at mischief I warrant."

Then catching up Alice in her arms, after a vain attempt on Amy's part
to obtain a kiss, she marched off with her in triumph, and Amy entered
the room.

On a low stool, drawn close to the open window, sat a fair-haired girl,
her head bent low over the page she was reading, or trying to decipher,
as the candles threw little light on the spot where she sat. Her long,
fair curls, gently waved by the soft evening breeze, swept the pages,
and quite concealed her face from Amy's gaze on the one side; while on
the other they were held back by her hand, so as not to impede the

A scream of merry laughter arrested Amy's footsteps as she was advancing
towards her, and turning round she saw a little girl, evidently younger
than the one by the window, dancing about with wild delight, holding the
two fore paws of a little black and white spaniel, which was dressed up
in a doll's cap and frock, and evidently anything but pleased at the
ludicrous figure he cut, although obliged to gambol about on his hind
legs for the little girl's amusement. Presently a snap and a growl
showed he was also inclined to resent his young mistress's liberties,
when another peal of laughter rewarded him, while, bringing her face
close to his, she exclaimed,--

"Oh, you dear naughty little doggie! you know you would not dare to bite
me." Then, catching sight of Amy, she instantly released doggie, and
springing up, rushed to the window, saying in a loud whisper--

"Oh, Edith, Edith! here's the horrid governess."

Edith instantly arose, and then stood somewhat abashed at seeing Amy so
close to her; but Amy held out her hand, and said--

"I am sorry your sister thinks me so disagreeable; but I hope Edith will
befriend me, and teach her in time to believe me kind and loving."

"She is not my sister, but my cousin," replied Edith, drooping her long
eyelashes, and suffering her hand to remain in Amy's.

"Is Alice your sister?"

"No; she is my cousin, too. I have no sister."

The tone was sorrowful, and Amy fancied the little hand tightened its
hold, while the eyes were timidly raised to hers.

Sitting down, she drew the child towards her, while Fanny stood silently
by, gazing at her new friend. They chatted together some time, and when
nurse came to fetch them to bed, Edith still kept her place by Amy's
side, while Fanny, with Carlo in her lap, was seated at her feet, nor
did either of the little girls refuse her proffered kiss as she bade
them "good night."

How lonely Amy felt in that large long room.

Notwithstanding the evening was a warm one, the young girl drew her
shawl closer round her shoulders, as she sat down to her solitary tea;
and tears, the first she had shed that day, rolled slowly over her
cheeks as she thought of her mother's calm, loving face, and her
sister's merry prattle. How she missed them both! Although but a few
short hours since they parted, since she felt the warm, silent pressure
of her mother's hand, and Sarah's clinging embrace, yet the hours
seemed long; and oh, how long the months would be! But youth is hopeful,
and ere Amy went to bed, she had already begun to look forward to the
holidays as nearer than they were, to image to herself the warm welcome
home and the happy meeting hereafter with those she loved.



    Alas!----how changed that mien!
    How changed these timid looks have been,
    Since years of guilt and of disguise,
    Have steel'd her brow, and arm'd her eyes!
    No more of virgin terror speaks
    The blood that mantles in her cheeks;
    Fierce and unfeminine are there
    Frenzy for joy, for grief despair.


Mrs. Linchmore had married for money, yet money had not brought the
happiness she expected. At its shrine she had sacrificed all she held
dearest on earth, and with it her own self-esteem and self-respect. In
the first few months she had tried to reconcile the false step to
herself, had tried to hush the still, small voice within that was
constantly rising to upbraid her. Was not wealth hers? and with it could
she not purchase everything else? Alas! the "still, small voice" would
be heard. She could not stifle it; it pursued her everywhere: in her
pursuits abroad, in her occupations at home--Home! the name was a
mockery. It was a gilded prison, in which her heart was becoming cold
and hard, and all the best feelings of her woman's nature were being
turned to stone.

Ten years had passed away since Mrs Linchmore stood at the altar as a
bride; ten, to her, slow, miserable years. How changed she was! Her
husband, he who ought to have been her first thought, she treated with
cold indifference; yet he still loved her so passionately that not all
her coldness had been able to root out his love. Her voice was music to
him, her very step made his heart beat more quickly, and sometimes
brought a quick flush to his face; all that she did was his delight,
even her faults he looked on with patient forbearance. But although he
loved her so devotedly, he rarely betrayed it; his face might brighten
and flush when he heard her step, yet by the time she had drawn near,
and stood, perhaps, close by his side as he wrote, it had paled again,
and he would even look up and answer her coldly and calmly, while only
the unsteadiness of his hand as he bent over the paper again, would show
the tumult within; while she, his wife, all unconscious, would stand
coldly by, and pass as coldly away out of his sight, never heeding,
never seeing, the mournful longing and love in his eyes.

To her children Mrs. Linchmore appeared a cold, stern mother, but in
reality she was not so. She loved them devotedly. All her love was
centred in them. She was blind to their faults, and completely spoiled
them, especially Alice the youngest, a wilful affectionate little
creature, who insisted on having, if possible, her own way in
everything. She managed it somehow completely, and was in consequence a
kind of petty tyrant in the nursery. Nothing must go contrary to her
will and wishes, or a violent burst of passion was the consequence.
These paroxysms of temper were now of such common and frequent
occurrence, that Nurse Hopkins was not sorry the young governess had
arrived, and Alice been partially transferred to the school-room, where
Amy found it a hard task to manage her, and at the same time win her
love. Whenever she reproved, or even tried to reason, Alice thought it
was because she disliked her. "Mamma," she would say, "loves me, and she
never says I am naughty."

Her sister Fanny was the veriest little romp imaginable, almost always
in mischief. Chasing the butterflies on the lawn, or sitting under the
shade of the trees, with her doll in her lap, and Carlo by her side, was
all she cared for, and Amy could scarcely gain her attention at all. She
was a bright, merry little creature, full of laughter and fun, ready to
help her young playmates out of any scrape, and yet, from utter
thoughtlessness, perpetually falling into disgrace herself. Tearing her
frock in climbing trees, and cutting her hair to make dolls' wigs of,
were among her many misdemeanours, and a scolding was a common
occurrence. But she was always so sorry for her faults, so ready to
acknowledge them, and anxious to atone further. Amy's kind yet grave
face could sober her in a moment, and, with her arms thrown round her
neck, she would exclaim, "Oh, dear Miss Neville, I am so sorry--so
sorry." She was a loveable little creature, and Amy found it one of her
hardest trials to punish her. She hated books. Nothing pleased her so
much, when the morning's task was done, as to put (so she said) the
tiresome books to sleep on their shelves. She showed no disinclination
to learn, and would sit down with the full determination of being
industrious; but the slightest accident would distract her attention,
and set her thoughts wandering, and Edith had generally nearly finished
her lessons before Fanny had learnt her daily tasks.

Edith, a child of ten years old, was totally dissimilar, and of a
reserved, shrinking nature, rendered still more so from her peculiar
position. She was the orphan daughter of Mr. Linchmore's only sister,
bequeathed to him as a sacred trust; and he had taken her to his house
to be looked upon henceforth as his own child; but no kind voice greeted
her there, no hands clasped the little trembling one in theirs, and bade
her welcome; not a single word of encouragement or promise of future
love was hers, only the cold, calm look of her new aunt; and then total
indifference. Sad and silent, she would sit night after night in the
twilight by the nursery window, her little thoughts wandering away in a
world of her own, or more often still to her lost mother. None roused
her from them; even Fanny, giddy as she was, never disturbed her then.
Once nurse Hopkins said--

"Miss Edith, it isn't natural for you to be sitting here for all the
world like a grown woman; do get up, miss, and go and play with your

But as nurse never insisted upon it, so Edith sat on, and would have
remained for ever if she could in the bright world her fancy had
created. It was well for her Amy had come, or the girl's very nature
would have been changed by the cold atmosphere around her, so different
from the home she had lost, where all seemed one long sunshine. It was
long ere Amy understood her; so diligent, so attentive to her lessons,
so cautious of offending, so mindful of every word during school hours,
and yet never anxious to join Fanny in her play; but on a chair drawn
close to the window, and with a book in her lap, or her hands clasped
listlessly over the pages, and her eyes drooping under their long
lashes--so she sat. But a new era was opening in the child's history.

Some few weeks after Amy's arrival, as she sat working very busily
(Edith, as usual, had taken her seat at the window), she felt that the
child, far from reading, was intently watching her. At length, without
looking up, she said--

"Edith, dear, if you have done reading will you come and tidy my
workbasket for me? My wools are in sad confusion. I suspect Alice's
fingers have been very busy amongst them."

She came and busied herself with her task until it was completed. Then,
still and silent, she remained at her governess' side.

"Who is this shawl for, Miss Neville, when it is finished?" asked she.

"For my mother."

Edith drew closer still.

"Ah!" said she, "that is the reason why you look so happy; because,
though you are away from her, still you are trying to please her; and
you know she loves you, though no one else does."

"Yes, Edith; but I should never think _no one_ loved me, and if I were
you I am sure I should be happy."

"Ah, no! It is impossible."

"Not so; I should be ever saying to myself would my dear mamma have
liked this, or wished me to do that. Then I should love to think she
might be watching over me, and that thought alone would, I am sure, keep
me from idleness and folly."

"What is idleness?"

"Waste of time. Sitting doing nothing."

"And you think me idle, then?"

"Often, dear Edith. Almost every day, when you sit at the window so

"But no one minds it. No one loves me."

"I mind it, or I should not have noticed it; and I will love you if you
will let me."

For an instant the child stood irresolute, then, with her head buried in
Amy's lap, she sobbed out, "Oh! I never thought of that. I never
thought you would love me--no one does. I will not be idle any more,"
and she was not; someone loved her, both the living and the dead; and
the little craving heart was satisfied.

And so the days flew by. The summer months passed on, only interrupted
by a visit from Charles Linchmore. He was very unlike his brother; full
of fun and spirits, as fair as he was dark, and not so tall. He seemed
to look upon Amy at once as one of the belongings of the house, was
quite at home with her, chatted, sang duets, or turned the pages of the
music while she sang. Sometimes he joined her in her morning's walk with
the children. Once he insisted on rowing her on the lake; but as it was
always "Come along, Edith, now for the walk we talked of," or, "Now
then, Fanny, I'm ready for the promised lesson in rowing;" what could
Amy say? she could only hesitate, and then follow the rest. She felt
Mrs. Linchmore look coldly on her, and one evening, on the plea of a
severe headache, she remained up stairs; but so much consideration was
expressed by Mrs. Linchmore, such anxiety lest she should be unable to
go down the next evening, that Amy fancied she must have been mistaken;
the thought, nevertheless, haunted her all night. The next morning she
had hardly commenced studies when Charles Linchmore's whistle sounded in
the passage.

He opened the door, and insisted on the children having a holiday, and
while Amy stood half surprised, half irresolute, sent them for their
hats and a scamper on the lawn, then returned, and laughed at her
discomfiture. He had scarcely gone when Mrs. Linchmore came in; she
glanced round as Amy rose.

"Pray sit down, Miss Neville, but--surely I heard my brother here."

There was something in the tone Amy did not like, so she replied,
somewhat proudly,

"He _was_ here. Madam."

"_Was_ here? Why did he come?"

"He came for the children, and I suppose he had your sanction for so

"He never asked it. And I must beg, Miss Neville, that you will in
future make him distinctly understand that this is the school-room,
where he cannot possibly have any business whatever."

With flushed cheeks, for a while Amy stood near the window, just where
Mrs. Linchmore had left her; and then, "Oh! I will not put up with it!"
she said, half aloud, "I will go and tell her so." But on turning round
there stood Nurse Hopkins.

"It's a lovely place, miss, isn't it? such a many trees; you were
looking at it from the window, wern't you, miss? And then all those
fields do look so green and beautiful; and the lake, too; I declare it
looks every bit like silver shining among the trees."

"It is indeed lovely; but, Nurse, I was not thinking of that when you

"No, miss? Still it does not do to sit mopy like, it makes one dull. Now
I've lived here many a year, and yet, when I think of my old home, I do
get stupid like."

"Where is your home Nurse?"

"I've no home but this Miss, now."

"No home? But you said you had a home once."

"Yes Miss, so I had, but it's passed away long ago--some one else has it
now; such a pleasant cottage as it was, with its sanded floor and neat
garden; my husband always spent every spare hour in planting and laying
it out, and all to please me. I was so fond of flowers. Ah! me," sighed
she, "many's the time they've sent from the Park here to beg a
nosegay--at least, John, the gardener has--when company was coming."

"Your cottage was near here, then?"

"Yes Miss, just down the lane; why you can see the top of it from here,
right between those two tall trees yonder."

"Yes. I can just catch a far off glimpse of it."

"You've passed it often too, Miss. It's the farm as belongs to Farmer

"I know it well. But why did you give it up?"

"My husband, or old man, as I used joke like to call him, died," and
Nurse's voice trembled, "he was young and hearty looking too when he was
took away; what a happy woman I was Miss, before that! and so proud of
him and my children."

"How many children have you?"

"I had three Miss; two girls and a boy. I seem to see them now playing
about on the cottage floor; but others play there now just every bit as
happy, and I've lost them all. I'm all alone," and Nurse wiped her eyes
with the corner of her white apron.

"Not all alone Nurse," said Amy, compassionately.

"True Miss; not all alone; I was wrong. Well, I sometimes wish those
days would come again, but there, we never knows what's best for us. I'm
getting an old woman now and no one left to care for me. But I wasn't
going to tell you all about myself and my troubles when I began; but
somehow or other it came out, and I shall like you--if I may be so bold
to say so--all the better for knowing all about me; but I want, begging
your pardon, Miss, to give you a piece of advice, if so be as you won't
be too proud to take it from me; you see I know as well as you can tell
me, that you and the Madam have fallen out; and if it's about Miss
Alice, which I suppose it is, why don't be too strong handed over her at
first; she will never abide by it, but'll scream till her Mamma hears
her, and then Madam can't stand it no how; but'll be sure to pet her
more than ever to quiet her."

"But Nurse, I do not mean to be strong-handed with Miss Alice, that is,
if you mean severe; but she is at times naughty and must be punished."

"Well Miss, we should most of us be sorry to lose you: you are so quiet
like, and never interferes with nobody, and they do all downstairs agree
with me, that it ain't possible to cure Miss Alice altogether at first;
you must begin by little and little, and that when Madam isn't by."

"But that would be wrong, and I cannot consent to punish Miss Alice
without Mrs. Linchmore's free and full permission; neither can nor will
I take charge of any of the children unless I am allowed to exercise my
own judgment as to the course I am to pursue. I am not I hope, harsh or
severe towards your late charge; but I must be firm."

"I see Miss, it's no use talking, and I hope Madam will consent to let
you do as you wish; but I fear--I very much fear--" and nurse shook her
head wisely as she walked away.

"Well, I've done all I could, Mary," said she to the under housemaid, as
she went below, "and all to no purpose; there's no persuading Miss
Neville, more's the pity; she thinks she's right about Miss Alice, and
she'll stick to it. I wish I'd asked her not to go near Madam to-day.
I'm positive sure she was going when I surprised her after passing Mrs.
Linchmore in the passage. _She_ came from the school-room too, I know,
and vexed enough she was, or she'd never have had that hard look on her
face. Well, I only hope the Master will be by when they do meet again,
or there'll be mischief, mark me if there isn't."

"Law! Mrs. Hopkins, how you talk. I wouldn't wait for the master
neither, if I were Miss Neville. I'd speak at once and have done with
it, that's my plan; see if I would let Miss Alice come over me with her
tantrums, if I was a lady!"

"She speaks every bit like that lady you were reading about in the book
last night; she'd make you believe anything and love her too. Well, I
hope no harm will come of it, but I don't like that look on Madam's
face, nor on Miss Neville's, neither, for the matter of that."

But nurse was wrong. Perhaps Amy changed her mind, and never spoke to
Mrs. Linchmore. At all events, things went on as they did before Charles
Linchmore came--whose visit, by the way, was not quite such a flying
one--and continued the same long after he had gone away.



    "O my swete mother, before all other
      For you I have most drede:
    But now adue! I must ensue,
      Where fortune doth me lede.
    All this make ye: now let us flee:
      The day cometh fast upon;
    For in my minde, of all mankynde
      I love but you alone."

                   THE NUT BROWN MAID.

Amy spent the summer holidays with her mother. Mrs. Neville had grown
pale and thin, while a careworn expression had stolen over her face,
supplanting the former sad one; and she had a certain nervous, restless
manner unusual to her, which Amy could not fail to remark. Mrs.
Elrington attributed it to anxiety on her daughter's account during her
absence. It was a trying time for Mrs. Neville; she felt and thought
often of what her child might suffer, all that one so sensitive might
have to undergo from the neglect or taunts of the world; that world she
knew so little of, and into the gay circles of which only two short
years ago she had been introduced. How she had been admired and courted!
Perhaps some of those very acquaintances she might now meet, and how
would it be with her? How would they greet her? Not with the grasp of
friendship, but as one they had never seen, or having seen, forgotten.
She was no longer the rich heiress, but a governess working for her own
and others' support. She was no longer in the same society as
themselves, no longer worthy of a thought, and would be passed by and
forgotten; or, if remembered, looked on as a stranger.

Mrs. Neville thought her daughter altered. She had grown quieter, more
reserved, more womanly than before, and more forbearing with little,
exacting Sarah.

Would Amy do this, or look at that? show her how to cut out this, or
paint that--always something new; but Amy seldom expostulated or refused
assistance, but was, as her mother told Mrs. Elrington, a perfect martyr
to her sister's whims and fancies. She had changed. But why? Her mother
watched her narrowly, and doubted her being happy, and this thought made
her doubly anxious, and imprinted the careworn look more indelibly on
her face. A few mornings before Amy returned to Brampton, at the close
of the holidays, she went over to Mrs. Elrington's, and found her busy
in the garden tying up the stray shrubs, and rooting up the weeds.

"I am afraid, Amy dear, you have come to say 'good-bye,' so I must
finish my gardening to-morrow, and devote my time for the present to

"I shall be very glad, Mrs. Elrington, for indeed I have a great deal
to say. I am so anxious about mamma."

"Anxious, Amy! Well, come in and sit down, and tell me all about it. Sit
here close by me, and tell me what is the matter, or rather, what you
fancy is; as I think the anxiety is all on your account."

"It's mamma, Mrs. Elrington. I am so dissatisfied about her; she is so

"Changed! In what way?"

"In every way. She is not so strong, the least exertion tires her, and I
so often notice the traces of tears on her face. Then she is so dull;
and will sit for hours sometimes without saying a word, always busy with
that everlasting knitting, which I hate; it is quite an event if she
drops a stitch, as then her fingers are quiet for a little. If I look up
suddenly, I find her eyes fixed on me so mournfully: at other times,
when I speak she does not hear me, being evidently deep in her own
thoughts. She is so different from what she used to be, so very

"I cannot say I have noticed any change, and I am constantly with her."

"Ah! that is just why you don't see it. Hannah does not."

"But, my dear, she never complains: I think she would if she felt ill."

"Mamma never complains, dear Mrs. Elrington; I wish she would, as then I
might question her, now I feel it impossible. Does she seem happy when I
am away?"

"Quite so; and always especially cheerful when she has your letters."

"I will write much oftener this time; and you will also, will you not?
and tell me always exactly how she is, and do watch her, too, Mrs.
Elrington, for I am sure she is not so strong as she was."

"I will, indeed," and Mrs. Elrington pressed Amy's hand, "but you must
not fidget yourself unnecessarily, when there is not the least occasion
for it. I assure you I see little change in your mother--I mean in
bodily health, and I hope, please God, you will find her quite well
when you come again, so do not be low-spirited, Amy."

And so they parted. Mrs. Elrington's words comforted without convincing
Amy; and her face wore a more cheerful expression for some days after
her return to Brampton.

Mr. Linchmore greeted her very kindly; even Mrs. Linchmore seemed
pleased to see her; while the children, especially Fanny, were
boisterous in their welcome, and buzzed about her like bees, recounting
all the little events and accidents that had happened since she left,
until they were fetched away; when Mrs. Linchmore and Amy were alone.

"I trust you enjoyed your visit home, Miss Neville?"

"Thank you, yes; it was a great treat being with my mother and sister

"We missed you sadly, and are not sorry to welcome you back again. Edith
and Fanny have both grown weary of themselves and idleness; as for
Alice, only yesterday, while I was dressing for dinner, having taken the
child with me into my room, she amused herself by scrubbing the floor
with my toothbrush, having managed to turn up a piece of the carpet in
one of the corners; indeed, I should weary you, did I recount half she
has been guilty of in the way of mischief."

Amy smiled, and Mrs. Linchmore continued,

"Did you ever leave home before for so long a time?"

"Never. My mother and I had never been parted until I came here."

"You must have felt it very much. I trust Mrs. Neville is well?"

"No. I regret to say I am not quite satisfied with my mother. I do not
see any very material change, neither can I say she is ill, but I notice
a difference somewhere. I fear she frets a great deal, she is so much

"But your sister?"

"She is too young to be much of a companion to mamma, and I think tries
her a great deal. She has been rather a spoilt child, being so much
younger than I."

"Younger children always are spoilt. Have you no friends besides Mrs.

"Yes; several very kind ones: there are many nice people living near,
but none like clear, good Mrs. Elrington; she is so true, so unselfish,
so kind, and devotes a great deal of her time to mamma."

"Does she notice any change in your Mother?"

"She assured me not. But then they meet so constantly, she would not be
likely to notice it so much as I, who only see her seldom. She has
promised to let me know if she does see any alteration for the worse, so
with that I must rest satisfied, and hope all is well, unless I hear to
the contrary."

"How is Mrs. Elrington?"

"Quite well, thank you, and looks much the same."

"She asked about me, of course?" and Mrs. Linchmore half averted her
face from Amy's gaze.

"Yes, often; and as she has not seen you for so many years, I had much
to tell her. She seemed pleased to hear of the children, and asked a
great many questions about them."

"You _thought_ she seemed pleased to hear about them. I suspect
curiosity had a great deal to do with it, if not all. You will grow
wiser some day, Miss Neville, and learn to distinguish the true from the
false--friends from foes," and Mrs. Linchmore's eyes flashed. "Did you
give her my message, the kind remembrances I sent her, with the hope
that--that she had not forgotten me? Did she send no message in return?"

The question was sternly asked; Amy hesitated what to say. What was the
mysterious connection between the two? and why was it Mrs. Linchmore
never spoke of Mrs. Elrington without a touch of anger or bitterness?
even the latter, who seemed ever careful of wounding the feelings of
others, never spoke of Mrs. Linchmore in a friendly manner, though she
appeared to know or have known her well at some earlier period of life.

The question embarrassed Amy, "I was so hurried," said she, "in coming
away that I forgot--I mean she forgot--."

Mrs. Linchmore rose haughtily, "I dislike equivocation, Miss Neville,
and here there is not the slightest occasion for it. I did not expect a
message in return; I think I told you so, if I remember aright, when I
entrusted you with mine," and very proudly she walked across the room,
seated herself at the piano and sang as if there was no such thing as
woe in the world, while Amy sat, listened, and wondered, then softly
rose and went upstairs to the school room.

"Here we are! so busy, Miss Neville," cried Fanny, "putting all the
things to rights. It's so nice to have something to do, and I'm sorting
all the books, although I do hate lessons so," with which assertion
Fanny threw her arms round her governess' neck, while Alice begged for
a kiss, and Edith pressed closer to her side and passed her small hand
in hers.

Certainly the children were very fond of her; Fanny had been so from the
first; it was natural for her to love everybody, she was so impulsive,
but the other two she had won over by her own strong will and gentle but
firm training. Carlo, Fanny's dog, seemed as overjoyed as any of them,
leaping, barking, and jumping about until desired rather severely by his
young mistress to be quiet. "You are making a shameful noise, sir," she
said, giving him a pat, "will you please let somebody else's voice be
heard; and do sit down, dear Miss Neville, and let us tell you all we
have done since you have been away; we have lots of news, we have not
told you half yet, have we, Edith?"

So they began all over again, totally forgetting what they had said or
left unsaid, Amy patiently listening, pleased to think how glad they
were to see her. Each tendered a small present, to show that their
little fingers had not been quite unprofitably employed; half pleased,
half frightened lest it should not be liked. They told her amongst other
things that uncle Charles had been to Brampton again, but only for three
days; he would not remain longer, although Mrs. Linchmore had wished him
to; he had brought his dog "Bob" with him, such an ugly thing, who
growled and showed his teeth; they were all afraid of it, and were glad
when it went away.

"Bob used to come up here, Miss Neville, and sit in the window while
uncle was at work."

"At work! what work, Edith?"

"The book shelves. Oh! have you not seen them? do come and look, they
are so nice. See, he put them all up by himself, and worked so hard, and
when they were done he made us bring all your books; then he set them
up, and desired us not to meddle with them as they were only for you.
Was it not kind of him? We told him it was just what you wanted."

"How could you? I did not want them at all."

"Yes, Miss Neville, indeed you did; you said long before you went away
how much you should like some."

But Amy thought she neither wanted nor liked them, and felt vexed they
had been put up.

"Ah!" said Fanny, catching the vexed expression, "you can thank him for
them when he comes again; we were to tell you so, and that he would be
here in November, and this is August Miss Neville, so it's only three
months to wait."

"You can tell him Fanny when he comes, that I am much obliged to him,
lest I should forget to do so."

And Amy turned away, feeling more vexed than she liked to acknowledge to
herself; she had had nothing to do with putting up the shelves, but
would Mrs. Linchmore think so if she knew it? And did she know it, and
what had she thought? "Mamma was right," said she to her self. "It is
very hard to be a governess; and _he_ has misinterpreted and misjudged

A thorn had sprung up in Amy's path, which already wounded her slightly.



    O! if in this great world of strife,
    This mighty round of human life,
      We had no friends to cheer,
    O! then how cold the world would seem!
      How desolate the ebbing stream
        Of life from year to year!

                          J. B. KERRIDGE.

Autumn passed away, and winter spread its icy mantle over the earth.
Abroad all looked bleak, cold, and desolate. Trees had lost their
leaves, flowers their blossoms, and the beautiful green fields were
covered with snow; while here and there a snowdrop reared her drooping
head from under its white veil, or a crocus feebly struggled to escape
its cold embraces. Within doors, things wore a brighter aspect than
they had done for some time past. Visitors had arrived at Brampton, who,
it was hoped, would enliven the old Hall, and dissipate the dulness of
its haughty mistress. Rooms long unoccupied had bright, cheerful fires
blazing in the grates; footsteps hurried to and fro, echoing through the
long, lofty passages, where all before had been so still and silent. The
old, gloomy, melancholy look had totally disappeared, and the house
teemed with life and mirth.

Mrs. Hopkins was no longer nurse, but had been installed as housekeeper
in the room of one who had grown too old for the office; and was all
smiles and importance, much to the disgust of Mason, the lady's maid,
who, having always considered herself a grade above the _Nurse_, now
found herself a mere cipher next to the all-important _Housekeeper_, who
seemed to sweep everything before her as she walked grandly down the
long corridor; Mason's pert toss of the head, and still perter replies,
were met with cool disdain, much to her disappointment, as she tried to
discomfort her; but all to no purpose, as Mrs. Hopkins' sway continued
paramount; and she wielded her sceptre with undiminished power,
notwithstanding all the arts used to dislodge her.

It was a half-holiday; Amy had fetched her hat, and was on her way out;
in the corridor she met Mrs. Hopkins, who was always fond of a chat when
she could find the opportunity; besides, she had long wished for some
one to whom to unburden all Mason's impertinences. She immediately
courtesied, and began--

"Good morning, Miss. Isn't the old house looking different? it does my
heart good to see it, we havn't been so gay for many a year. I am so
glad Madam has given up going to foreign parts; it ain't good for the
young ladies, and I'm certain sure it ain't no good for servants,
Mason's never been the same since she went; I havn't patience with her
airs and graces!" Here she broke off abruptly, as Mason crossed the
passage, her flowing skirts sweeping the floor, and a little coquettish
cap just visible at the back of her head. "Only look at her, Miss,
thinking herself somebody in her own opinion, when in most everybody's
elses' she's a nobody. Why, Miss, a Duchess couldn't make more of
herself," said Mrs. Hopkins, testily.

"Indeed, I do not believe she could," replied Amy, smiling, "and I am
sure would not _think_ more of herself."

"Think, Miss! Why, it's my belief she dreams at night she's found the
hen with the golden egg, and so builds castles on the strength of it all
day long; and airy ones she'll find them, I know," and Mrs. Hopkins
laughed at the idea of Mason's supposed downfall.

"I suppose, Nurse, you have been very busy?"

"Yes, Miss, just what I like. I don't care to sit with my hands before
me. I'm always happy when I'm busy. It isn't natural for me to be idle."

"How many strangers are here, Nurse? You must forgive me for calling you
Nurse, but I am so accustomed to it."

"Forgive you, Miss! I'm Nurse to you and the children if you please,
always, I'm proud of the title; but to Mason and the rest I'm Mrs.
Hopkins," said she with firmness. "As to how many are here, why I can't
exactly say; they're not all come yet, there are several empty rooms,
but I suppose they'll be filled to-day or to-morrow at the latest; then
the young Master's to come; but his room's always ready; he comes and
goes when he likes. We call him the young Master, because he's to have
the Hall by-and-by. He's a thorough good gentleman, is Mr. Charles, and
will make a good master to them as lives to see it. But it is a pity,
Madam has no son."

"Excuse me for interrupting you, Miss Neville," said Mrs. Linchmore's
voice close behind, "but I wish, Mrs. Hopkins, another room prepared
immediately; one of the smaller ones will do," and Mrs. Linchmore passed
on. Amy followed; while nurse shrugged her shoulders, shook her head,
and muttered, "Another man! Humph! I don't like so many of 'em roaming
about the place; it ain't respectable."

Mrs. Linchmore, on reaching the hall, was turning off to the library,
when Edith and Fanny ran past, closely pursued by a young girl, who
stopped suddenly on perceiving them, and, addressing Mrs. Linchmore,

"Pray do not look at me, Isabella, I know my toilette is in dreadful
disorder. I have had such a run that I really feel quite warm."

"Your face is certainly rather flushed," replied Mrs. Linchmore, as she
looked at the young girl's red face, occasioned as much by the cold wind
outside, as by her run with the children.

"I know I'm looking a perfect fright," she added, vainly endeavouring to
smooth the dishevelled hair under her hat.

"Your run has certainly not improved your personal appearance. Allow me,
Miss Bennet, to introduce you to Miss Neville, whom I fear you will find
a sorry companion in such wild games."

"I don't know that!" and she gazed earnestly at Amy. "A romp is
excusable in this weather, it is so cold outside."

"A greater reason why you should remain in the house, and employ your
time more profitably;" so saying, Mrs. Linchmore walked away, leaving
the two girls together.

"That is so like her," observed Miss Bennet, "she takes no pleasure in a
little fun herself; consequently thinks it's wrong any one else should.
Now, children, be off," she continued, looking round, but they were
nowhere to be seen, having fled in dismay at the first sight of Mrs.

"Are you going out?" asked she, placing her hand on Amy's arm.

"Only for a short time."

"Then for that short time I will be your companion,--that is if you

Amy expressed her pleasure, and they were soon walking at a brisk pace
round the shrubbery.

Julia Bennet had no pretensions to beauty, though not by any manner of
means a plain girl. She had a very fair, almost transparent complexion,
and small, fairy hands and feet. She was a good-natured, merry girl, one
who seldom took any pains to disguise her faults or thoughts, and
consequently was frequently in scrapes, from which she as often cleverly
extricated herself. If she liked persons they soon found it out, or if
she disliked them they did not long remain in ignorance of it; not that
she made them acquainted with the fact point blank, but no trouble was
taken to please; they were totally overlooked. Not being pretty, no
envious belles were jealous of her, and young men were not obliged to
pay her compliments. Nor, indeed, had she been pretty, would they have
ventured to do what she most assuredly would have made them regret; yet
she was a great favourite with most people, never wanted a partner at a
ball, but would be sought out for a dance when many other girls with
greater pretensions to beauty were neglected. She was a cousin of Mr.
Linchmore's, the youngest of five sisters, only one of whom was
married. Julia gazed over her shoulder at her companion's hat, dress,
and shawl; nothing escaped her penetrating glance. She was rarely
silent, but had always something to say, although not so inveterate a
talker as her sister Anne. The latter, however, insisted that she was
more so, and had resolutely transferred the name of "Magpie" or "Maggy,"
with which her elder sisters had nicknamed her, to Julia.

"I have quite spoilt Isabella's temper for to-day," began Julia. "She
will remember that romp, as she calls it, for ages to come. I cannot
help laughing either, when I think of the figure I must have been when I
met her. Now confess, Miss Neville, did I not look a perfect fright?"

"You looked warm and tired, certainly,"

"Warm and tired! Now do not speak in that measured way, so exactly like
Isabella, when I was as red as this," and she pointed to the scarlet
feather in her hat, "and as for tired, I was panting for breath like
that dreadful old pet dog of hers. Well, I am glad I have made you
laugh; but do not, please, Miss Neville, if we are to be friends, speak
so like Isabella again. I hate it, and that's the truth."

"I will not, if I know it, but will say yes or no, if you like it best,
and wish it."

"And I do wish it, and that was not said a bit like Isabella, so I will
forgive you, and we will make up and be friends, as the children say,"
and she gave her hand to Amy. "And now tell me, Miss Neville, by way of
changing the subject, where, when, and how you became acquainted with my

"I am governess to her children," replied Amy, quietly.

Julia stopped suddenly, and looked at her in surprise.

"And are you really the governess of whom Edith and Fanny have talked to
me so much? Why, you cannot be much older than I."

"Do you not consider yourself old enough to be a governess?"

"Well, yes, of course I do; but you are so different to what I always
pictured to myself a governess ought to be. They should be ugly, cross
old maids, odious creatures, in fact I know mine was."

"Why so?" asked Amy.

"Oh, she did a hundred disagreeable things. All people have manias for
something, so there is, perhaps, nothing surprising in her being fond of
_bags_. She had bags for everything; for her boots and shoes, thimble
and scissors, brushes and combs, thread, buttons,--even to her
india-rubber. A small piece of coloured calico made me literally sick,
for it was sure to be converted into a bag, and a broken needle into a
pin, with a piece of sealing-wax as the head."

"She was not wasteful," said Amy, who could not forbear laughing at the
picture drawn.

"Wasteful! Truly not. It was 'waste not, want not,' with her; she had it
printed and pasted on a board, and hung up in the school-room, and well
she acted up to the motto."

"But I dare say she did you some good, notwithstanding her

"Well! 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating,' another of her wise
sayings; and it is early days to ask you what you think of me, so I
shall wait until we are better acquainted, which I hope will be soon.
How glad I was to get rid of her! I actually pulled down one of the
bells in ringing her out of the house, and would have had a large
bonfire of all the backboards and stocks, if I had dared. I could not
bear her, but I am sure I shall like you, and we will be friends, shall
we not? do not say no."

"Why should I? I will gladly have you as my friend."

"That is right; you will want one if Frances Strickland is coming: how
she will hate you. She likes me, so she says, so there is something to
console me for not being born a beauty; so proud and conceited as she is
too, everything she says and does is for effect. Her brother is as silly
as she is proud, and as fond of me as he is of his whiskers and

"I need not ask you if you like him."

"I shall certainly not break my heart if you are disposed to fall in
love with him."

"Nay, your description has not prepossessed me in his favour. And who
are the other guests?"

"I cannot tell you, for their name is legion, but you will be able to
see them soon, and review them much better than I can," and Julia turned
out of the shrubbery into one of the garden walks leading up to the

"Here is Anne," added she, in a tone of surprise, "all alone too, for a
wonder. See!" and she pointed to a young girl seemingly intent on
watching John the gardener, who was raking the gravel, and digging up a
stray weed here and there.

"Look here, John," cried she, as they approached unperceived, "here is a
weed you have overlooked. Give me the hoe, and let me dig it up. What
fun it is!" added she, placing a tiny foot on the piece of iron, "I
declare I would far rather do this than walk about all by myself. There!
see! I have done it capitally; now I'll look for another, and just
imagine they are men I am decapitating, and won't I go with a vengeance
at some of them," and then turning she caught sight of Julia and Amy.

"Well, Maggie," said she, "here I am talking to John, in default of a
better specimen of mankind, and really he is not so bad. I declare he is
far more amusing than Frank Smythe, and has more brains than half the
men I have danced with lately, and that's not saying much for John," and
she pouted her lips with an air of disdain.

"This is my sister Anne, Miss Neville," said Julia, introducing them,
"and so this," and she pointed to the hoe still in her sister's hand,
"is your morning's amusement, Anne?"

"Yes," said she, carelessly, "I was thoroughly miserable at first,
stalking about after John, and pretending to be amused with him, but
all the time looking towards the house out of the corners of my eyes; I
am sure they ache now," and she rubbed them, "but all to no purpose, not
a vestige of a man have I seen, not even the coat tail of one of them. I
was, as I say, miserable until I spied John's hoe, and then a bright
thought struck me, and I have been acting upon it ever since, and should
have cleared the walk by this time, if you had not interrupted me."

"Pray go on," said Julia, "it is very cold standing talking here, and I
have no doubt John is delighted to have such efficient aid."

"Now Mag, that is a little piece of jealousy on your part, because
perhaps you have not been spending the morning so pleasantly. But there
is the gong sounding for luncheon, come away," and she threw down the
hoe; "let us go and tidy ourselves; I am sure you want it," and she
pointed to her sister's hair; then went with a bounding, elastic step
towards the house.

"Good-bye, Miss Neville; I must not increase my cousin's bad temper by
being late. My sister Anne is a strange girl, but I think you will like
her by-and-by, she is so thoroughly good natured."

Amy watched Julia's light graceful figure as she went up the walk, then
turned and retraced her steps round the Shrubbery.



    "A poore widow, some deal stoop'n in age,
    Was whilom dwelling in a narwe cottage
    Beside a grove standing in a dale.
    This widow which I tell you of my Tale
    Since thilke day that she was last a wife
    In patience led a full simple life;
    For little was her cattle and her rent."


The country round Brampton was singularly beautiful and picturesque. A
thick wood skirted the park on one side, and reached to the edge of the
river that wound clearly, brightly, and silently through the valley
beyond, and at length lost itself after many turnings behind a
neighbouring hill, while hills and dales, meadows, rich pastures and
fields were seen as far as the eye could reach, with here and there
cottages scattered about, and lanes which in summer were scented with
the fragrance of wild flowers growing beneath and in the hedges, their
blossoms painting the sides with many colours, and were filled with
groups of village children culling the tiny treasures, but now were cold
and deserted.

To the right, in a shady nook, stood the village church, quiet and
solemn, its spire just overtopping some tall trees near, and its
church-yard dotted with cypress, yew, and willow trees, waving over
graves old and new.

Further on was the village of Brampton, containing some two or three
hundred houses, many of them very quaint and old-fashioned, but nearly
all neat and tidy, the gardens rivalling one another in the fragrance
and luxuriance of their flowers.

In the wood to the left, and almost hidden among the trees, stood a
small thatched cottage with a look of peculiar desolate chilliness; not
a vestige of cultivation was to be seen near it, although the ground
round about was carefully swept clear of dead leaves and stray sticks,
so that an appearance of neatness though not of comfort reigned around.
It seemed as if no friendly hand ever opened the windows, no step ever
crossed the threshold of the door, or cheerful voice sounded from
within. Its walls were perfectly bare, no jasmine, no sweet scented
clematis, no wild rose ever invaded them; even the ivy had passed them
by, and crept up a friendly oak tree.

Within might generally be seen an old woman sitting and swaying herself
backwards and forwards in a high-backed oak chair, and even appearing to
keep time with the ticking of a large clock that stood on one side of
the room, as ever and anon she sang the snatches of some old song, or
turned to speak to a large parrot perched on a stand near: a strange
inhabitant for such a cottage. Her face was very wrinkled and somewhat
forbidding, from a frown or rather scowl that seemed habitual to it. Her
hair was entirely grey, brushed up from the forehead and turned under
an old fashioned mob cap, the band round the head being bound by a piece
of broad black ribbon. A cheap cotton dress of a dark colour, and a
little handkerchief pinned across the bosom completed her attire.

The floor of the room was partly covered with carpet; the boards round
being beautifully clean and white. A small table stood in front of the
fire-place, and a clothes' press on the opposite side of the clock,
while on a peg behind the door hung a bonnet and grey cloak. The only
ornaments in the room, if ornaments they could be called, were a feather
fan on a shelf in one corner, and by its side a small, curiously-carved
ivory box.

The owner of the cottage was the old woman just described. Little was
known about her. The villagers called her "Goody Grey," probably on
account of the faded grey cloak she invariably wore in winter, or the
shawl of the same colour which formed part of her dress in summer. The
cottage had been built by Mr. Linchmore's father, just before his
death, and when completed, she came and took up her abode there; none
knowing who she was or where she came from; although numberless were the
villagers' conjectures as to who she could be; but their curiosity had
never been satisfied; she kept entirely to herself, and baffled the
wisest of them, until in time the curiosity as well as the interest she
excited, gradually wore away, and they grew to regard her with
superstitious awe; as one they would not vex or thwart for the world,
believing she had the power of bringing down unmitigated evil on them
and theirs; although they rarely said she exercised any such
dark power. The children of the village were forbidden to wander in the
wood, although "Goody Grey" had never been heard to say a harsh word to
them, nor indeed any word at all, as she never noticed or spoke to them.
The little creatures were not afraid of her, and seldom stopped their
play on her approach as she went through the village, which was seldom.
Unless spoken to, she rarely addressed a word to any one. Strangers
passing through Brampton looked upon her--as indeed did the inmates at
the Park--as a crazy, half-witted creature, and pitied and spoke to her
as such, but she invariably gave sharp, angry replies, or else never
answered at all, save by deepening if possible the frown on her brow.

As she finished the last verse of her song, the parrot as if aware it
had come to an end flapped his wings, and gave a shrill cry. "Hush!"
said she, "Be still!"

Almost at the same instant, the distant rumble of wheels was heard
passing along the high road which wound though a part of the wood near.
She rose up, went to the window, and opened it, and leaning her head
half out listened intently. Her height was about the middle stature, and
her figure gaunt and upright.

She could see nothing: the road was not distinguishable, but the sound
of the carriage wheels was plainly heard above the breeze sighing among
the leafless trees. She listened with an angry almost savage expression
on her face.

"Aye, there they come!" she exclaimed, drawing herself up to her full
height, "there they come! the beautiful, the rich, and the happy.
Happy!" she laughed wildly, "how many will find happiness in that house?
Woe to them! Woe! Woe! Woe!" and she waved her bony arms above her head,
looking like some evil spirit, while, as if to add more horror to her
words, the bird echoed her wild laugh.

"Ah, laugh!" she cried, "and so may you too, ye deluded ones, but only
for awhile: by-and-by there will be weeping and mourning and woe, which,
could ye but see as I see it, how loath would ye be to come here; but
now ye are blindly running your necks into the noose," and again her
half-crazed laugh rang through the cottage. "Woe to you!" she repeated,
closing the window as she had opened it. "Woe to you! Woe! Woe!"

Ere long the excitement passed away, or her anger exhausted itself; and
she gradually dropped her arms to her side and sank on a bench by the
window; her head dropped on her bosom, and she might be said to have
lost all consciousness but for the few unintelligible words she every
now and again muttered to herself in low indistinct tones.

Presently she rose again, opened the clothes-press, and took out some
boiled rice and sopped bread, which she gave to the parrot.

"Eat!" said she in a low, subdued tone, very different to her former
wild excited one, "Eat, take your fill, and keep quiet, for I'm going
out; and if I leave you idle you're sure to get into mischief before I
come back."

The bird, as she placed the rice in a small tin attached to his perch,
took hold of her finger with his beak, and tried to perch himself upon
her hand. She pushed him gently back and smoothed his feathers, "No,
no," said she. "It's too cold for you outside, you would wish yourself
at home again, although you do love me, and are the only living thing
that does." And another dark expression flitted across her face.

She put on the bonnet and grey cloak, and taking a thick staff in her
hand, went out.

The air was cold and frosty. The snow of the day before had melted away,
and the ground in consequence of the thaw and subsequent frost was very
slippery; but she walked bravely and steadily on, with the help of her
staff, scarcely ever making a false step. At the outskirts of the wood
was a small gate leading on to a footpath which ran across the park,
making a short cut from the valley to the village. Here she paused, and
looked hastily about her.

Now Goody Grey had never been known or seen to enter the Park, yet she
paused evidently undecided as to which path she should pursue, the long
or the short one. At length she resolved upon taking the long one; and
shaking her head she muttered, "No, no; may be I'll be in time the other
way;" and on she went as steadily as before, on through the village and
up by the church-yard; nor stayed, nor slackened her walk until she
gained the large gates and lodge of Brampton Park; then she halted and
gazed up the road.

Notwithstanding the time it had taken to come round, probably half an
hour, yet the carriage she had heard approaching in the distance had
only just reached the bottom of the hill, the road taking a long round
after leaving the wood. It came on slowly, the coachman being evidently
afraid to trust his horses over the slippery road. Slowly it approached,
and eagerly was it scanned by the old woman at the gates. Presently it
was quite close, and then came to a stand still, while the great lodge
bell rang out; and Goody Grey advanced to the window, and looked in.

On one side sat two rather elderly ladies; on the other an effeminate
looking young man and a girl. These were evidently not the people she
expected to see, for a shade of vexation and disappointment crossed her
face. After scanning the countenances of each, she fixed her eyes on the
young girl with an angry, menacing look, difficult to define, which the
latter bore for some moments without flinching; then turning her head
away, she addressed one of the ladies sitting opposite her.

"Have you no pence, Mamma? Pray do give this wretched being some, and
let us get rid of her."

"I do not think I have, Frances, nor indeed if I had would I give her
any. I make a point of never encouraging vagrants; she ought to be in
the Union, the proper place for people of her stamp. I have no doubt she
is an impostor, she looks like it, there are so many about now; we are
overrun with them."

"Well, Mamma, if you won't give her any, pray desire Porter to drive on.
What is he waiting for?"

"My dear, they have not opened the gates. There goes the bell again."

"Really, Alfred," said the girl, turning towards the young man at her
side, "one would think you were dumb, to see you sitting there so
indifferent. I wonder you have not more politeness towards Miss Tremlow
if you have none for your mother and sister. Do not you see?" continued
she, taking the paper he was reading from his hand and holding it so as
to partly screen her face. "Do not you see what an annoyance this
dreadful old woman is to us?"

He yawned and stretched himself, giving at the same time a side glance
at Goody Grey, as if it was too much trouble to turn his head. "Ha! yes.
Can't say I admire her. What does she want?"

"Want! We want her sent away, but one might as well appeal to a post as

"I shall not exert my lungs in her behalf; but you are wrong as regards
your polite comparison of 'post,'" and, putting down the window, he gave
a few pence into the old woman's hand, intimating at the same time that
he should be under the painful necessity of calling the porter;--and he
pointed to the man at the gates--unless she moved away.

"Take my blessing," said she, in reply. "The blessing of an old woman--"

"There, that will do. I do not want thanks."

"And I do not thank you," replied she, putting both hands on the window
so as to prevent its being closed. "I don't thank you. I give you my
blessing, which is better than thanks. But I have a word for you;" she
pointed her finger at Frances Strickland, "and mark well my words, for
they are sure to come to pass. Pride must have a fall. Evil wishes are
seldom fulfilled. Beware! you are forewarned. And now, drive on!" she
screamed to the coachman, striking at the same moment one of the horses
with the end of her staff; it plunged and reared violently, the other
horse became restive, and they set off at full speed up the avenue.
Fortunately, the road was a gradual ascent to the house, for had there
been nothing to check their mad career, some serious accident might have
happened; as it was, one of the windows was broken against the branch of
a tree, the carriage narrowly escaping an upset on a small mound of
earth thrown up at the side of the road.

The travellers were more or less alarmed. Miss Tremlow, who was seated
opposite Alfred, seized hold of him, and frantically entreated him to
save her, until he was thrown forward almost into her lap--"All of a
heap," as that lady afterwards expressed herself--as the carriage
swerved over against a tree, when she gradually released her hold, and
sank back into a state of insensibility.

"I hope she is dead!" said Alfred, settling himself once more in his
place by his sister, and rubbing his arm.

"Dead!" echoed his mother. "Who is dead?"

"Only that mad woman next you in the corner; there! let her alone,
mother; don't, for Heaven's sake, bring her round again, whatever you
do. I have had enough of her embraces to last me a precious long time."

The horses now slackened their speed, and were stopped by some of the
Hall servants not far from the door.

Mr. Linchmore was at the steps of the Terrace, and helped to lift out
Miss Tremlow, who was carried into the house still insensible; while
Mrs. Strickland, who had been screaming incessantly for the last five
minutes, now talked as excitedly about an old witch in a grey cloak;
while Frances walked into the house scarcely deigning a word, good, bad,
or indifferent to any one--her pale face strangely belying her apparent
coolness--leaving her brother to relate the history of their



    "Such is life then--changing ever,
    Shadows flit we day by day;
    Heedless of the fleeting seasons,
    Pass we to our destinies."

                                THOMAS COX.

All the visitors had now arrived at Brampton Park, and were amusing
themselves as well as the inclement weather would allow of, the snow
still covering the ground, and the cold so intense as to keep all the
ladies within doors, with the exception of Julia Bennet, who went out
every day, accompanied by the three children, as Amy's spare time was
quite taken up with Miss Tremlow, who had continued since her fright
too unwell to leave her room.

Julia Bennet often paid a visit to the school-room in the morning, and
sadly interrupted the studies by her incessant talking. Often did Amy
declare she would not allow her to come in until two o'clock, when the
lessons were generally ended for the afternoon's walk; but still, the
next morning, there she was, her merry face peeping from behind the
half-opened door, with a laughing, "I know I may come in; may I not?"
and Amy never refused. How could she?

One morning, after getting her pupils ready for an earlier walk than
usual, and giving them into Julia's charge--who vainly tried to persuade
her to go with them--she bent her steps, as usual, to Miss Tremlow's
room. On entering, she was surprised to see that lady sitting up in a
large arm chair propped with cushions and looking very comfortable by
the side of the warm fire. On enquiry, she learnt that Julia had been
busy with the invalid all the morning, and had insisted on her getting
out of bed.

"I am so very glad to see you looking so much better, and really hope
you will soon be able to go down stairs; it must be so dull for you
being so much alone," began Amy, as she quietly took a seat near.

"Miss Bennet wished to persuade me to do so to-day; but I really did not
feel equal to it, though I do not think she believed me; she has her own
peculiar notions about most things, and especially about invalids; I
dare say she means it all kindly, but I cannot help thinking her very
odd and eccentric."

"She is a very kind-hearted girl, it is impossible not to help liking

"She is very different from you, my dear, in a sick room, very

And well might she say so. Amy was all gentleness, so quiet in her
movements; there was something soft and amiable about her; you loved
her you scarcely knew or asked yourself why. Julia was all roughness,
bustling about, setting the room to rights--Miss Tremlow's,--whenever
she entered it; talking and laughing the while, and endeavouring to
persuade the unfortunate individual that it was not possible she could
feel otherwise than ill, when she never exerted herself or tried to get
better. Her too you loved, and loving her overlooked her faults; but she
obliged you to love her, she did not gain a place in your heart at once
as Amy did. Very different they were in temper and disposition; Julia
hasty and passionate; Amy forbearing and rarely roused; but at times her
father's proud, fiery spirit flashed forth, and then how beautiful she
looked in her indignation.

"I think I read to the end of the sixth chapter," said Amy, taking up a
book and opening it; "for I foolishly forgot to put in a mark."

Amy read every day to Miss Tremlow, and thus whiled away many a weary
hour that would have passed wearily for the invalid.

"You need not read to-day, my dear, you will tire yourself; so never
mind where we were. I hope myself to be able to read soon."

"I shall not be in the least tired; I like reading. Shall I begin?"

Miss Tremlow fidgeted and moved restlessly among the cushions, and then
said wearily--

"Do you know, my dear, I think it will be too much for me; I feel so
tired with the exertion of getting up."

The book was instantly closed, Miss Tremlow feeling quite relieved when
it was laid down.

"You are not vexed, Miss Neville, I hope. Your reading has been such a
treat to me, when otherwise I should have been so dull and stupid."

"Indeed, no, it has been quite a pleasure to me; but you do look weary
and tired. Shall I pour you out a glass of wine?"

"No, my dear, no; there is not the slightest occasion for it. And now
let us talk of something else; you shall tell me all about the
visitors, so that they may not be quite strangers to me when we meet."

"I have not seen any of them, except Mrs. Bennet and her daughters, and
Mrs. Strickland and hers."

"But you go down of an evening, and surely there are other visitors."

"I always used to spend my evenings with Mrs. Linchmore; but within the
last week I have remained upstairs, thinking I should be sent for if
wanted, and as no enquiries have been made, I conclude my absence is not
noticed; or if noticed I am only doing what is usual in such cases."

"Mrs. Linchmore is very foolish, and ought to have you down; you are too
pretty and young to be allowed to mope upstairs by yourself. You may
smile, but youth does not last for ever; it too soon fades away, and
then you will become a useless, fidgetty old maid, like myself; no one
to love or care for you, and all those who ought to love and take care
of you wishing you dead, that they may quarrel for the little money you
leave behind."

"But I have very few distant relations, and those I have do not love or
care for me."

"More reason why you should have a husband who would do both; but that
will come soon enough, I have no doubt. In the meantime you seem very
young to have the care of these three girls, the youngest a perfect
torment, if I remember aright; so spoilt and humoured."

"I am nearly nineteen," replied Amy.

"Too young to be sent out into this cold world all alone; but your
mother has, of course, advised you for the best."

"Yes, she gave me her advice; and love, and blessing, as well; the
latter was highly prized, but the first I did not follow. She did not
wish me to be a governess, but advised me strongly against it; still I
cannot think I have done wrong," added Amy, answering the enquiring look
Miss Tremlow bent on her. "Because--because--Oh! it would take too
long a time to tell you all I think, and you are weary already."

"Not so," and she took Amy's hand in hers. "I am interested in my kind
young friend, so shall prove a good listener, though perhaps I am too
tired to talk; so tell me your history, and all about yourself and those
you love."

Yet Amy sat silent, so that Miss Tremlow, who watched her, was troubled,
and added hastily, "never mind, my dear, I am sorry I asked you. It was
foolish and thoughtless of me."

"No, indeed, Miss Tremlow; it is I who am foolish; mine is but the
history of an every day life. There is little to tell, but what happens,
or might happen, to anyone; still less to conceal."

And Amy drew her chair closer still, and with faltering voice began the
history of her earlier years. A sad tale it was though she glanced but
slightly at her father's extravagance; but to speak of her mother's
patience, long suffering, and forbearance through it all, she wearied
not, forgetting that as she did so her father's conduct stood out in
all its worst light, so that when she had finished Miss Tremlow
exclaimed hastily--

"He must, nay, was a bold, bad man, not worthy of such a wife! It's a
mercy he is dead, or worse might have happened."

"Do not say that, Miss Tremlow; my mother loved him so dearly."

"That is the very reason why I cannot excuse him; no woman would; but
there now I have pained you again, and quite unintentionally; so please
read to me, and then there will be no chance of my getting into another
scrape, because I must hold my tongue, and I find that no very easy task
now, I can assure you."

Amy silently took up the book she had previously laid down, but had
scarcely read three pages when the door opened, and in walked Julia with
a glass of jelly in her hand.

"I have been looking for you everywhere, Miss Tremlow," she said.

"Why did you not come here? Had you forgotten I was ill?"

"Certainly not, witness this glass of jelly; but your room was the last
place in the world I thought of looking for you in, considering I made
you promise you would rouse yourself, and go below."

"I wish I could rouse myself," sighed Miss Tremlow, "but I am not equal
to it, or to go down stairs amongst so many strangers."

"Not equal to it? All stuff! You never will feel equal to either that,
or anything else, if you remain much longer shut up in this close room;
you will make yourself really ill; and now please to drink this glass of
wine, but first eat the jelly, and see how you feel after that."

"I will drink the wine my dear, but I could not touch the jelly. I do
really think it is the fourth glass you have brought me to-day, and--no,
I could not touch it."

"Well, you must take your choice between this, and some beef tea. Will
you toss up, as the boys do, which it shall be?"

"No, no; I'll have nothing to do with the tossing. I suppose I must
take the jelly," and she sighed as she contemplated it.

"Yes, and eat it too, and hate me into the bargain; when I do it
entirely for your good, because as long as you remain up here, and
complain of weakness, you must be dosed, and treated as an invalid, and
made to take strengthening things; so be thankful you have two such
nurses as Miss Neville and myself; one to talk and recount your pains
and aches to; and the other to insist upon rousing, and making you well,
whether you will or no, by forcing you to take and eat what is good for
you, and scolding you into the bargain when you require it, which is
nearly every day. Now, I am sure you are better after the jelly?"
continued she, taking the empty glass from her hand.

"It is of no use saying I am not," replied Miss Tremlow wearily.

"Not the slightest," said Julia, sitting down by Amy. "Why, you don't
mean to say that Miss Neville has been reading to you?" and she took
the book off Amy's lap, where it had lain forgotten. "After all my
injunctions, and your promises."

Miss Tremlow looked somewhat abashed.

"You really ought to be ashamed of yourself; as for Miss Neville, she
looks fagged to death; for goodness sake go out and take a walk, and try
and get a little colour into your cheeks, or there will be jelly and
beef tea for you to-morrow," and Julia laughed merrily. "And now," she
added, addressing Miss Tremlow, as Amy left the room, "Why did you allow
her to read? Did I not tell you it was bad for her; and that, not being
strong, the air of this close, hot room, is too much for her."

"Do not scold, or go on at such a rate, my dear; I really am not strong
enough to bear it. I did refuse to hear the reading; but in the course
of conversation I made an unfortunate remark, and she looked so pained,
that to get out of the scrape I asked her to read; but she had scarcely
opened the book when you entered."

"Never mind how long she read, you disobeyed orders; so as a punishment,
I shall put you to bed; and then I will read the whole book to you if
you like."

Miss Tremlow was delighted; she really was beginning to feel sadly
tired, and in no humour for Julia's chattering, so submitted without a
murmur; fervently hoping Julia would not persevere in the reading, or
that some one else in the house might be taken ill, and receive the half
of Julia's attentions.

As Amy quitted Miss Tremlow's room, she almost fell over Fanny, who came
bounding down the corridor, never heeding or looking where she went.
Fanny never walked; her steps, like her spirits, were always elastic.
Amy's lectures availed nothing in that respect. Her movements were never
slow--never would be--everything she did was done hastily, and seldom
well done; half a message would be forgotten, her lessons only
imperfectly said, because never thoroughly learnt.

"Of course it is Fanny," said Amy, turning to help up the prostrate
child. "Have you hurt yourself, and why will you always be in such a

"I was right, though, this time, Miss Neville," said the child, rising,
"because Miss Bennet told me you were going out as soon as she came in,
and Mamma wants you; so you see I am only just in time to catch you,
because you are going out, you know."

"You would have plenty of time had you walked, instead of running in
that mad way. I am not yet dressed for walking. Are you hurt, child?"

"Oh, no, Miss Neville, not a bit. I think I have torn my frock, though.
Isn't it tiresome? Only look!"--and she held up one of the flounces,
nearly half off the skirt.

"I do not see how you could expect it to be otherwise. It must be mended
before you go to bed, Fanny."

"Yes, Miss Neville; I suppose it must. Oh, dear! my fingers are always
sewing and mending. I wish Mamma would not have my dresses made with

"You would still tear them, Fanny."

"Yes, I suppose I should; well, I have pinned it up as well as I can;
and now shall we go to Mamma; she is in her room, and Mason is so busy
there," said Fanny, forgetting all about her frock. "Do you know we are
going to have such a grand dinner party to-night; mamma is to wear her
pink silk dress, with black lace. I saw it on the bed; and such a lovely
wreath beside it. How I do wish I was big enough to have one just like

"And tear the flounce like this," replied Amy, laughing, and knocking at
Mrs. Linchmore's door.

"Come in, Miss Neville; I am sorry to trouble you, but I heard from
Fanny you were going out, and I wished to know if you would like to come
down into the drawing-room this evening, after dinner, it is both Mr.
Linchmore's wish and mine that you should do so; moreover, we shall be
glad to see you. The children will come and you could come down with
them, if you like."

"Thank you, but if I am allowed a choice, I would far rather remain
away. I am so unaccustomed to strangers; still if you wish it I--"

"No, you are to do just as you like in the matter, we shall be very glad
to see you if you should alter your mind, and I hope you will. And now
what news of Miss Tremlow? Is she really getting better, or still
thinking of Goody Grey?"

"She sat up to-day for the first time, and is I think decidedly
improving, but her nerves have been sadly shaken. Miss Bennet tried to
persuade her to go downstairs to-day; but I really must say she had not
strength for the exertion."

"I miss Julia sadly this dull weather, and I wish she would think of
others besides Miss Tremlow; she devotes nearly the whole day to her."

"Is not her sister as merry and cheerful?"

"Anne is all very well, but thinks only of pleasing herself, she never
helps entertain; you will scarcely see her in Miss Tremlow's, or anybody
else's sick room. And now if you are going out, I will not detain you
any longer. Perhaps you will kindly look into the conservatory as you
return, and bring me one or two flowers, and you, Fanny, can come with
me," and taking Fanny's hand she left the room, as Amy went to put on
her bonnet.



    "I saw the light that made the glossy leaves
    More glossy; the fair arm, the fairer cheek,
    Warmed by the eye intent on its pursuit;
    I saw the foot that, although half erect
    From its grey slipper, could not lift her up
    To what she wanted; I held down a branch
    And gathered her some blossoms."


Amy went for a walk in the grounds; there being plenty of time before
the evening closed in, as Julia had purposely returned early. A solitary
walk is not much calculated to raise and cheer the spirits, and Amy's,
though not naturally dull or sad, were anything but cheerful during her
ramble. Miss Tremlow's questions had recalled sad scenes and memories
which she had tried to forget; but some things are never forgotten; out
of sight or laid aside for a time they may be, until some accident, or
circumstance slight and trivial perhaps in itself, recalls them; and
then there they are as vivid and fresh as ever, holding the same place
and clinging round the heart with the same weight and tightness as ever;
until again they fade away into the shade; crossed out, as a pen does a
wrong word, yet the writing is there, though faintly and imperfectly
visible, whatever pains we take to erase it.

How Amy's thoughts wandered as she walked along over the frosty ground!
Time was when she had been as gay as Julia, and as light-hearted; but
she began to think those were by-gone days, such as would never come
again, or if they did, she would no longer be the same as before, and
therefore would not enjoy them as she once had. Then she sighed over the
past, and tried to picture to herself the future; _tried_, because very
mercifully the future of our lives, the foreseeing things that may
happen, is denied us. What a dark future it appeared! To be all her
life going over the self-same tasks, the same dull routine day by day;
her pupils might dislike their lessons, but how much more distasteful
they were to her. What a dull, dreary path lay before her! She passed
into the conservatory as these thoughts filled her heart. It was getting
dusk, and entering hastily, she gathered a few flowers, and was turning
on her way out, when she was attracted by a beautiful white Camellia,
ranged amongst a number of plants rather higher up than she could reach.
She stretched her arm over those below--in vain, the flower was beyond
her still. She made a second attempt, when an arm was suddenly passed
across her, and it was severed from its stem by some one at her side.

"It was a thousand pities to have gathered it," said a tall,
gentlemanly-looking man; "but I saw you were determined to have it," and
he picked up the flower, which had fallen, and held it for her

"Thank you," said Amy, nervously. He had startled her; his help had
been so unexpected. She told him so.

"You did not perceive me? and yet I am by no means so small as to be
easily overlooked. I wish I could be sometimes; but I regret I
frightened you."

"Not exactly frightened; only, not seeing you or knowing you were there,
it----" and Amy stopped short.

"Frightened you," said he, decidedly.

She did not contradict him. It was evident he did not intend she should,
for he scarcely allowed her time to reply as he went on,

"There is another bud left on the same plant. Will you have it? I will
gather it in a moment."

"Oh, no, by no means. Perhaps I ought not to have taken this; but John
is not here to guide me; I am rather sorry I have it now."

"Never mind; it is I who am the culprit, not you. Will you have the
other? Say the word, and it is yours. It is a pity to leave it neglected
here, now its companion is gone," and he moved towards the flower.

"Indeed I would rather not. One will be quite enough for Mrs. Linchmore,
and, besides, I have so many flowers now."

"They are not for yourself, then? I could almost quarrel with you for
culling them for anyone else."

"I never wear flowers," replied Amy, somewhat chillingly, with a slight
touch of hauteur, as she moved away.

But he would not have it so, and claimed her attention again.

"Why do you pass over this sweet flower? just in your path, too; I do
not know its name, I am so little of a gardener, but I am sure it would
grace your bouquet; see what delicate white blossoms it has."

"Yes it is very pretty, but I have enough flowers, thank you."

"You will not surely refuse to accept it," and at the same moment he
severed it from its stem. "Will you give me the Camellia in exchange?"

"No. I would rather not have it."

"It is a pity I gathered it," and he threw it on the ground, and made as
though he would have crushed it with his foot.

"Do not do that," said Amy hastily; "give it to me, and I will place it
with the other flowers in my bouquet."

"But those flowers are for some one else, not for yourself. You said so;
and I gathered this for you. Will you not have it?"

"You have no right to offer it," replied Amy, determined not to be
conciliated, "and I will only accept it on the terms I have said; if you
will pull it to pieces I cannot help it."

"No. I have not the heart to kill it so soon; I will keep it for some
other fair lady less obdurate," and he opened the door to allow of her
passing out. "I suppose we are both going the same way," said he,
overtaking her, notwithstanding she had hurried on.

"I am going home," replied Amy, now obliged to slacken her steps, and
hardly knowing whether to feel angry or not.

"So am I; if by home you mean Brampton House. How cold it is! are you
not very lightly clad for such inclement weather? The cold is intense."

"This shawl is warmer than it looks. We feel it cold just leaving the
conservatory; it was so very warm there."

"True; but we shall soon get not only warm, but out of breath if we
hurry on at this pace."

Amy smiled, and slackened her steps again. She felt she had been
hurrying on very fast.

"I think I saw you the day the Stricklands arrived?"

Then as Amy looked at him enquiringly; he added, "you were coming up the
long walk with the children and helped Miss Tremlow upstairs when she
was able to leave the library."

"I did," replied Amy, "but you? I do not remember you in the least. Oh!
yes I do, you were at the horses' heads. Yes, I remember quite well
now; it was you who first ran forward as they came up at that headlong
pace and stopped them. How stupid of me not to recollect you again."

"Not at all. I scarcely expected you would."

"Yes, but I ought to have, because out of the number of men collected
you were the only one who led the way; the only one it seemed to me who
had any presence of mind; there were plenty who _followed_, but none who
took the lead." Amy was quite eloquent and at home with him now, and he
smiled to himself as she went on. "I had not patience with all those
men, talking, screaming to one another, ordering here, calling there,
none knowing what ought to be done, all talking at random as the horses
dashed on, when suddenly you sprung from among them, the only one silent
amongst all the noise; the horses were stopped; the carriage stood
still; and the by-standers had nothing to do but cease talking, and
follow the example you set them."

"Really you will make me out a hero; I only did a very simple action."
Amy was silent, she was afraid she had said too much. "Do you know how
Miss Tremlow is?" continued he; "poor lady, I fear she was seriously

"She was indeed, but is now getting better, and I hope will soon make
her appearance downstairs."

"I am not surprised she was frightened, my only wonder is the accident
did not end more seriously. This Goody Grey, whoever she is, is greatly
to blame; mad she undoubtedly must be, and I cannot understand Mr.
Linchmore's allowing her to go at large."

"I believe she is quite harmless. I am going to see her some day; she
lives in a cottage down in the wood yonder."

"This was no harmless action, it looks like malice prepense, unless
indeed they excited her anger unintentionally."

"That is exactly what I have been thinking, and I intend finding out
more about it when I see her."

"I should be cautious how I went to see her; she may not be so harmless
as you imagine. At all events do not go alone; I will accompany you with
pleasure if you will allow me?"

"Thank you, I am not afraid. What harm could she do me? and as for her
foretelling future events I simply do not believe it, and should pay
little or no heed to anything she told, whether for good or ill," said
Amy, laughing as they reached the Terrace, when, wishing him good-bye,
she went in.

"I hope you have had a pleasant walk with Miss Neville, Mr. Vavasour,"
said Anne Bennet, coming up just behind as Amy disappeared, "Mr. Hall
and I have been close to you nearly all the way home, but you were too
busily engaged to perceive us."

"I hope you also have had a pleasant walk. Have you been far?" asked Mr.
Vavasour, evading a direct answer.

"An awful distance!" answered her companion, evidently a clergyman, by
the cut of his coat and white neck band.

"You know nothing at all about it," exclaimed Anne, turning sharp round,
"or I am sure you would not call it far; why we only went across the
fields round by the church and so home again. I thought you said you
enjoyed it extremely?"

"I am ready to take another this moment if you like. What say you? shall
we make a start of it?"

"No, decidedly not, it is too dark; but I will hold you to your word
to-morrow. I know of a lovely walk; only three or four hedges to
scramble through, but that is a mere nothing, you know. The view when we
do reach the hill is charming, you can form no idea of it until you have
seen it," and laughing merrily at Mr. Hall's disconsolate look, Anne
left him.

She peeped into the drawing-room; there was no one there but Mrs.

"What all alone! where's Julia?" asked she abruptly.

"I fancy in her own room, or with Miss Tremlow; she was here a few
minutes ago, and was enquiring for you. Have you had a pleasant walk?"

"Oh! very. Everybody asks me that question, or insinuates it, so that I
shall begin to imagine I have been in Paradise; here comes my Adam,"
added she sarcastically, as Mr. Hall entered, "and really I can stand
him no longer, the character of Eve is odious to me. I cannot play it
out another moment, so leave it for you if you like to assume it."

Away went Anne, her anger or ill temper increasing as she went up the
stairs. Flinging the door of their room wide open, and then closing it
as sharply, she quite astonished Julia, who sat with her feet on the
fender before the fire reading.

"She's a flirt, Mag!" exclaimed she, throwing her hat on the table, and
flinging herself into an arm chair, close to her sister. "Yes, you need
not look at me in that way; I say she's a flirt; I am certain of it!"

Julia burst out laughing.

"You may laugh as much as you like, it will not annoy me. I shall hold
to that opinion as long as I live, and you may deny it as much as you
please; but I shall still say she's a flirt. Nothing will convince me to
the contrary, and now I think I have exhausted my rage a little; I felt
at fever heat when I came in," said she, putting her hair off her face.

"I cannot think what your rage is all about, Anne," said Julia. "Of
course she is a flirt, no one ever asserts otherwise; it makes me laugh
to hear you go on; when not a soul, and least of all I, would take the
trouble of contradicting you."

"More shame to you then, that is all I can say, when you pretend to be
so fond of her; I am sure I expected you to fly into a tremendous temper
at my assertion of her being a flirt. If I had a friend I would stand
up for her, no one should accuse her of sins in my presence."

"I fond of her! well I think your walk has turned your head. I fond of
Isabella, indeed! You must be mad, when I begged mamma to leave me at
home, because I so much dislike her goings on."

"Isabella! who talked of Isabella? I am sure I did not; I said as plain
as possible, Miss Neville."

"Miss Neville! she is no flirt, and never will be," said Julia

"Ah! there it is, I knew you would say so, although only a minute ago
you said no one would take the trouble of contradicting me."

"Neither shall I. You can hold a solitary opinion if you like."

"Stuff and nonsense about solitary opinions! I shall just convince you."

"You will never do that."

"How can you tell, seeing I have not tried? but only listen to my story,
and I am certain you will be convinced."

"I am all attention," and Julia closed her book.

"You must know then that after luncheon I asked Mr. Vavasour to chaperon
me out walking, or rather I gave a hint he might go with me if he liked,
and really I think it was the least he could do, considering Isabella
being 'nowhere.' I had devoted myself to him all the morning, and
positively went so far as to fetch the paper knife for him; when whom
should I find awaiting me when I came down dressed for walking, but that
dreadful Mr. Hall, his best hat and coat on. I felt just mad with
vexation, and should have given him an answer that would have sent him
flying; only I fortunately caught sight of that Vavasour's face at the
window, watching our departure, with a smile at the corners of his
mouth. I was in such a rage, but managed to wave him a smiling adieu,
before I vented it out by walking my friend Hall through all the gaps in
the hedges by way of finding short cuts; until he was in a thorough
state of disgust and despair about his new coat, etc., and not anxious
to take another walk in a hurry; when whom should I see in the distance,
as we came home, but that wretch Vavasour and Miss Neville, laughing and
talking together as thick as two peas. No wonder he would not go out
with me, when he had a walk in perspective with her."

"Do stop Anne, you have talked yourself quite out of breath; and have
not convinced me either, for I still think you are wrong, and that most
likely he met her accidentally in the grounds. I sent her out myself;
she was very loath to go, so could not have promised to walk with

"Accidental fiddlestick. I am a woman, and do you suppose I do not know
a woman's ways. They looked as if they had known one another for years;
she must be a desperate flirt if they are only recently acquainted."

"Perhaps they have met before. Suppose you ask her, instead of
condemning her unheard."

"What a goose you are, Julia! You will never make your way in the
world. Ask, indeed! and be laughed at by both her and Mr. Vavasour for
my pains. I have not patience with you, Mag."

"I have not patience to listen to you; so I shall go on with my book, if
you will let me."

"No, I will not, Mag! I feel desperately annoyed, and will talk, whether
you like it or no, because if I do not, I shall feel in a rage all the
evening, and I am determined Mr. Vavasour shall not see how he has
disgusted me."

"I dare say he does not think about it. Had you asked him point blank,
of course he would have walked with you; but most likely he never
understood your hint."

"Upon my word, Julia, you are Job's comforter, and make me more vexed
than ever. I feel inclined to do something desperate, and have half a
mind to go down and torment that Mr. Hall afresh. I would if I thought I
should find him in the drawing-room."

"Don't, Anne; stay where you are, and do try and leave that unfortunate
Mr. Hall alone. I am sure you tease his very life out, poor man! I do
not believe he is quite so stupid as he looks, and expect he will turn
round upon you some day."

"I wish he would; there would be a little excitement in it; and as for
teasing him, I am sure I do not care if I do. Men wear the very life out
of us poor women."

"Not all of them, Anne."

"Yes, all of them; even Mr. Hall,--who is as simple as--as--I am sure I
do not know anything half bad enough to compare him to--would tyrannise
over a woman the moment he found out she loved him. Men are all alike in
that respect. Even he has sense enough for that, or, rather, it is a
man's nature, born in him, and he can no more get rid of it than he can

"You will change your opinion some day, Anne."

"Never! If ever I fall in love, I shall make a fool of myself, as most
women do, and be paid out the same; but my opinion will remain
unaltered all the time I am allowing myself to be trodden on. But
there, thank goodness, I am not in love, and not likely to be. My
thraldom is far off, I hope. Besides, I am wiser than I was a few years
back. 'A burnt child dreads the fire,' Mag. They will find it a hard
task to entice me into mischief. I like to pay them out. No retaliation
provokes me."

"Not Mr. Vavasour's?" laughed Julia.

"Oh, Mag," said Anne, rising, "how tiresome you are! You will be an old
maid, I prophesy, you are so prosy, and then we will both live together
and enjoy ourselves."

"I do not look forward to any such lot," replied Julia. "I should be

"Then I will live by myself. No nephews or nieces, mind, to torment me.
That would be anything but enjoyment. How slowly the time goes! I
declare it is only five o'clock. Just call me when it is time to dress,
will you?" and she walked across the room and threw herself on the bed,
first throwing a large warm railway wrapper on the top.

"There," said she, drawing it over her. "I am perfectly comfortable, and
intend forgetting that wretched Miss Neville and Vavasour in the arms of
Somnus, so you can go on with your book, Mag."

She remained perfectly still for a few moments, then sitting bolt
upright, and throwing off the shawl, she exclaimed,--

"I have thought of a capital plan, Mag, of annoying that wretch,
Vavasour. How glad I am I lay down; it might never have entered my head,
sitting there by that cosy fire. Just watch his face, please, to-night,
will you, towards the end of the evening? I say, Maggie, do you hear? or
am I talking to a stone? Why don't you answer?"

"Yes, yes; I hear you, I thought you were asleep."

"Then do not think any such thing until you hear me snore; and now,
good-night, or rather good-bye, until six o'clock. Just stir up the
fire, it is awfully cold over here; do not forget we dine at seven, and
I must have an hour to dress, as I intend making myself quite killing.
And now for my bright idea again," and once more she drew the wrapper
over her, and composed herself to sleep afresh.



    "A true good man there was there of religion,
    Pious and poor, the parson of a town:
    But rich he was in holy thought and work;
    And thereto a right holy man; a clerk
    That Christ's pure gospel would sincerely preach,
    And his parishioners devoutly teach.
    Benign he was, and wondrous diligent,
    And in adversity full patient.

    "Tho' holy in himself, and virtuous,
    He still to sinful men was mild and piteous;
    Not of reproach, imperious or malign;
    But in his teaching soothing and benign.
    To draw them on to heaven, by reason fair,
    And good example was his daily care.
    But were there one perverse and obstinate
    Were he of lofty or of low estate,
    Him would he sharply with reproof astound,
    A better priest is nowhere to be found."


Mrs. Linchmore was in the drawing-room, where she had been sitting ever
since Anne went off so abruptly, leaving her with Mr. Vavasour and the

The latter _was_ awkward and ungainly; and we question much if he would
have tyrannised over a wife: certainly not, unless some unforeseen event
accidentally discovered to him that he might make a woman who loved also
fear him, and jealous; this latter thought had never entered his
head--perhaps it was to come.

As Mrs. Linchmore and Robert Vavasour sat chatting and laughing, he
remained perfectly silent; sitting firmly upright in the chair he had
drawn close by, his long legs drawn up under him, trying in vain to find
an easy position for his hands; and those long arms, which he never
seemed to know what to do with, they certainly were too long for his
body, just like two sails of a windmill. He looked, as he sat, decidedly
like a man who could be thoroughly and completely
henpecked--notwithstanding the sometimes stern look on his brow--by any
woman possessing only half the amount of Anne Bennet's spirit; and she
would not have been edified had she returned to the drawing-room as she
threatened, and as no doubt Mr. Hall wished she would, for he looked
thoroughly uncomfortable and out of place; evidently in the way of the
two that sat there, who never addressed a single syllable to him, but
left him totally unnoticed, he all the time wishing to join in the
conversation, yet not knowing how to set about it.

In the pulpit he was a different creature altogether. No longer the
timid, awkward curate, but, to all intents and purposes, a
straightforward, honest man, unswerving in exhorting to the right,
unshrinking in pointing out the wrong. There, his long, ungainly legs
hidden, his face lighted up, as he warmed with his subject, he became
decidedly handsome; even taken at his worst, he could never be called

He was much liked in his parish, a small country village some few miles
distant from Brampton; smiles and kindly words greeting him whenever he
passed by the cottages; and such deep courtsies! A clergyman can
generally tell by the latter the kind of estimation in which he is held
by his parishioners. If liked, a deep courtesy and friendly voice speaks
to him. If otherwise, a slight reverence and scarcely a good morrow is
vouchsafed. Friendly voices always greeted Mr. Hall, even the children
ran to the doors to make a courtesy, and glance half slyly at his
pleasant, good humoured face.

Whether he had fallen in love with Anne or no, was not quite certain; if
he had, she took the most sure way of curing him, by laughing at him,
and turning him into ridicule; not from ill nature, but simply because
she had nothing better to do, and found the time hung heavy on her
hands. Not an idea had she that he was pained by it, or indeed perceived
it; but there she was wrong; he did see it, and inwardly vowed each time
it happened should be the last; yet somehow or other he would be sure
soon again to find himself either next her at table, or by her side out
walking, or told off as her partner in a round game; and so his vow was
broken, and would have been had he made twenty such.

Strange it was, that being a clever, well-read man, his powers of
conversation were so limited, but as long as those about him talked, he
did not appear to think it necessary to exert himself to amuse others,
so he passed as a dull, stupid, slow man.

Perhaps his silent, reserved habits had grown upon him imperceptibly,
from living so much alone as he had done for the last five years, with
only an elderly woman to look after his house, and act as housekeeper;
and a boy to wait on him.

The conversation of the two near him had sunk almost to a whisper, it
was so low; but they were mistaken if they suspected he was a listener.
He was not; his thoughts were with Anne, wondering at the time she took
in taking off her hat, and expecting every moment to see the door open.

What would he have said, had he known she was then sound asleep, with
no thought for anyone in the whole world, least of all for him. Still
his eyes kept wandering towards the door, and at length it did open, but
it was Frances Strickland who came in and seated herself on a sofa just
behind him.

"You are doing nothing, Mr. Hall," said she presently, "so do come here,
I want my skein of wool held."

Mr. Hall did not like the dictatorial manner in which this was said;
still, having no excuse to offer, he advanced.

"Pray bring a chair and sit down. How can I wind it, with you towering
above me in that way."

"I am tired of sitting," replied Mr. Hall, mildly resenting this speech,
"so will stand if you will allow me."

"I should never have supposed you tired of sitting, after the hedges I
saw you scrambling through with Anne Bennet."

Mr. Hall coughed uncomfortably. "I enjoyed my walk and am accustomed to
the country. It would be well if all young ladies were as active as Miss

"Or as masculine, which?"

"The former, certainly. I see nothing of the latter about her," replied
he rather decidedly.

"How strange! Everybody else does. I suppose you will not attempt to
deny she is a very _fast_ girl."

"I am not sufficiently acquainted with Miss Bennet to be able to form,
or rather give an opinion as to her character; most young ladies of the
present day are _fast_, and perhaps your friend is not an exception to
the general rule."

"Pray do not call her my friend. I am unlike the generality of girls in
that respect, and am hand and glove with no one."

"Do you mean you have no friend?"

"None, I am happy to say."

"I pity you, Miss Strickland," replied Mr. Hall.

"Reserve your commiseration," she said proudly, "for those who require
it. I should dislike having a friend even as active and _fast_ as Miss
Bennet, who, according to your idea," said Frances sarcastically,
"should have been born a grade lower in life; a housemaid for instance;
no amount of hard work would have been too much for her."

"She would have struggled bravely through it all, I make no doubt,"
replied he. "I have no mean opinion of Miss Anne's courage."

"Or have worked herself into a consumption, and so become a heroine, as
she appears to be already in your estimation. Pray take care, Mr. Hall,
you have let half a dozen threads drop off your fingers. How excessively

"Yes. I do not understand holding it; excuse me," and he laid the
tangled mass in her lap.

Was he as stupid as Anne pictured him; or would she, as Julia said, some
day find out her mistake.

"What hopeless confusion, Miss Strickland," said Mr. Vavasour, advancing
a step, as he passed by. "Is this your doing, Hall?" and he laughed,
while Frances's eyes flashed with mortification and anger.

"I am afraid so," replied he quietly. "The fact is Miss Strickland
enlisted my services, without making the least enquiry as to my
capabilities, hence this unfortunate failure. But I have resigned the
post I have filled so badly; will you take my place and do better?"

"I am very sorry to refuse, but I have promised to have a game of
billiards with Strickland, and the time's up," said he, looking at his
watch. "Many thanks to you all the same, my dear fellow, for making me
the offer of such a Penelope's web to unravel." And he passed on. Mr.
Hall followed.

"Tiresome, abominable man!" exclaimed Frances, gathering up the wool
apparently hopelessly entangled, and advancing towards the fire where
still sat Mrs. Linchmore. "Is not that Mr. Hall too bad; just see what
he has done--quite spoilt my skein."

"How was it managed?" asked Mrs. Linchmore carelessly.

"I asked him to hold it; of course I ought to have known better, such a
stupid creature as he is; his fingers are as awkward as his legs. I
cannot think how it is you invite him here, unless it is to be in the
way and make himself disagreeable; as in this instance."

"Disagreeable! You are the first person, Frances, I ever heard apply
that epithet to Mr. Hall; no one ever thinks of him, and had you left
him alone, it would not have happened."

"I know that; but I took compassion on him; you and Mr. Vavasour were so
deeply engaged," she said maliciously; "you never gave him a thought,
and because I did, this is my thanks. I shall be wiser for the future."

"As most people are. Learn wisdom, and yet commit foolish actions every
day of their lives."

"Perhaps I shall be different from most people," and she commenced
trying to disentangle the wool.

"A hopeless task," said Mrs. Linchmore, "only waste of time and temper;
better let it alone, there are plenty of wools upstairs in my work
basket; I have no doubt Mason will find you a match for this, if you ask
her, you are most welcome to any I have," and she took up the book she
had laid down, as a hint to Frances she wished the conversation to end.

So at least Frances thought, and left her alone, after first putting
away the wool in the sofa table drawer.

But Mrs. Linchmore did not read, she laid the book carelessly in her
lap, and was soon, apparently, deep in thought, from which she was only
aroused by her husband's entrance; drawing a half sigh at the
interruption, she took up her book again, and gave no reply to his

"I am afraid I have disturbed you, Isabella; you were dozing, were you
not? or very nearly so."

"Never mind. It is almost time to dress for dinner." She shut up the
book, and was rising, when he said,

"Do not move yet, Isabella; I came here to seek you; wishing to have a
few moments' conversation."

She looked at him enquiringly

"I have been thinking it would be as well if you wrote and invited Mrs.
Elrington to come and spend this Christmas with us."

"Mrs. Elrington!" cried she, in astonishment.

"Yes, I think it would be the right thing to do; nay, I am sure of it,
and wonder it has never struck either of us before."

"It would be the last thing I should think of; as I am sure there is not
the slightest use in asking her."

"Why not?"

"She would never come; but would send a refusal, perhaps not couched in
very civil terms."

"I think you may be wrong. I hope so, at least. It is true she held
aloof when we married, why, or wherefore, I never knew; and has
continued estranged ever since; but surely her sending Miss Neville is a
proof she might be conciliated; at all events, there can be no harm in
attempting it."

"She will never be conciliated, never! Besides, why should she be; you
surely are not at all anxious about it?"

"She brought you up, Isabella; was as a mother to you when you lost your
own; surely you are in her debt for that, and owe her some kindness for
all she bestowed on you."

"She has never taken the slightest notice of me during my ten years of
married life; therefore, however deep my debt of gratitude, I consider
it to have been cancelled after so much neglect and coldness."

"But recollect the kindness that went before. You owe her some gratitude
and kindly feeling for that; however misjudging, or mistaken, she may
be; at least, I think so."

"I cannot see it."

"I am sorry you do not, Isabella, and that I have failed in convincing
you; little as I know of Mrs. Elrington," continued he, rather
decidedly, "I cannot believe she, or indeed any woman, would bear
malice so long, and not be anxious at some time during their life to
make amends; it is unlike their nature; besides, she is no longer young,
years are creeping on her slowly, but surely; depend upon it she will
take the invitation kindly."

"Never!" said his wife again; "she does not think herself in the wrong,
and is so different from most women; she is sternness itself; and I
hope, Robert, you will give up the idea of asking her."

"I cannot do that. You know, Isabella, I never speak, or express a wish,
unless I have fully considered the question at stake. It is my wish you
should write, and I cannot but think the reply will be different from
what you seem to expect."

"Do not force me to write, Robert. It is disagreeable to me."

"Force you!" exclaimed he, in surprise. "Certainly not; but I wish it,
Isabella, most decidedly."

"How can I write, or what can I say? when she has never addressed a line
to me for such a length of time, or taken the slightest notice of me
whatever," said she half pettishly, half mournfully, very different from
Mrs. Linchmore's usual haughty tone.

He looked half irresolute as he noticed it; her anger and coldness would
only have made him more stern; but one symptom of softness melted him at

"Isabella, dear," and he came near, and took her hand, "I am sorry to
have to ask you to do anything disagreeable, and what is evidently so
painful to you; you will forgive me, dear one, will you not?"

But she looked up coldly in his face, and drawing away her hand,
returned not the pressure of his; and his irresolution faded away while
he said,

"You must not forget, Isabella, she opened a correspondence with you,
after her long neglect and silence, and sent us Miss Neville; surely
that was a sign her coldness was giving way."

"She heard we wanted a governess through Mrs. Murchison. I never had a
line from her on the subject; our correspondence was carried on entirely
through a third person, from first to last."

"You forget the letter she wrote when Miss Neville came?"

"No; I remember that perfectly. A very cold, stiff letter, I thought

"A very cold one, certainly. Well, perhaps it would be better I should
write; I will if you wish it; I am quite decided in my opinion that one
of us ought to do so."

"No, no, by no means," replied Mrs. Linchmore, hurriedly. "I will do as
you like about it; and write to-morrow morning, since you think I ought,
and you wish it so much."

"Thank you, Isabella." He stooped down over her again, and kissed her
forehead; but she received it coldly as before, her face half averted.
"I fear," he added, "it will give you pain; but it is right."

"Pain! He little knows or even guesses how much," said Mrs. Linchmore
half aloud when he was gone, "or how much misery he has raked up during
the one short half-hour he has been here. I wish he had never come; or
rather never thought about the invitation."

With a sigh she arose slowly, and went to dress for dinner. To be gay
and light, with a secret woe gnawing and tearing at her heart strings.

Seated at the glass, Mason brushing and plaiting her hair, the book
still in her hand, apparently Mrs. Linchmore read, but it was not so;
her thoughts wandered; several times she turned back the pages, and
re-read what had gone before.

Presently Amy came in, bringing the flowers she had gathered.

"Come in, Miss Neville. What a lovely bouquet you have brought me. I
hope you have changed your mind about coming down this evening, and that
we are to have the pleasure of seeing you after all."

"No indeed, Mrs. Linchmore, I have not. I should much prefer remaining
away, unless, as I said before, you particularly wish me to go down."

"No, you must please yourself entirely, and do just as you like. But I
think Mr. Linchmore will be disappointed if you do not. He wished it; as
he said you must find it so especially dull all alone by yourself."

"I do not, I assure you; and have several letters to write to go by
to-morrow's post. I am glad you like the flowers Mrs. Linchmore," and
she laid them on the table with the Camellia.

"Thank you. How beautifully you have arranged them! But the Camellia,
why not place it with the rest?"

"I thought you would wear it in your hair as you did the other evening.
Is it not beautiful? so purely white."

"Mason has taken out this Italian spray," and she took up an elegant
silver ornament of Maltese work, "but I do not intend wearing it,
neither can I this lovely Camellia; kindly place it amongst the other
flowers you have arranged so nicely," and she gave the bouquet into
Amy's hand.

"What a thousand pities, Ma'am!" said Mason. "It would look beautiful;
far better than the ornament."

"Tastes differ," replied her mistress. "Thank you, Miss Neville, that
will do very nicely; I thought, or rather feared, you would have to take
the bouquet to pieces, but you have managed it admirably."

"I had not secured the flowers so very tightly, or perhaps the string
had become loose."

"How tiresome the weather is, keeping so very cold; everyone seems out
of temper with it, and must find Brampton especially dull. I am sure I
scarcely know what to suggest as an amusement by way of novelty. Can you
think of anything, Miss Neville? for I have exhausted all my ideas."

"I cannot imagine how any one can find it dull here," replied Amy, "so
many to talk to, and so much to do."

"Everyone is not so easily satisfied. I am quite weary of it, and think
I must give a ball. That will afford a little excitement for some time
to come, and please everybody except Mr. Hall; and he can go and look
after his parishioners for that day."

Mason had now finished the last plait, and inquired what ornament her
mistress intended wearing in her hair, as she must arrange it

Mrs. Linchmore turned to Amy.

"Would you kindly bring the flowers on my work table yonder? and Mason
wind the plaits round my head so as to hang rather low."

Amy crossed the room, and took the flower out of the tumbler. Could it
be possible? She examined it closely. Yes, there was no mistaking it. It
was the self-same spray Mr. Vavasour had gathered, and offered her an
hour or two before; there were the delicate white blossoms he had so
admired. A beautiful little flower, or rather spray, it was; but too
small, too insignificant to be worn in that rich dark hair.

An unconscious smile hovered on her lips as she returned and gave it to
Mason, who turned up her eyes on beholding it. _That_ miserable little
piece of green and white to adorn the plaits she had arranged? It was
not worthy of a place there, but Mason dared not say so; she merely
ventured on the enquiry as to whether Miss Neville had brought the right

"Certainly," was the reply. "Place it on the left side, and almost as
low down as the hair itself."

But Mason was cross, and pinned it in badly, she would not understand
Mrs. Linchmore's directions.

"What are you doing! Mason; I never knew you so awkward. How badly you
have arranged it; not in the least as I like."

"Mrs. Linchmore wishes the spray to hang a little lower," suggested Amy.

"Perhaps, Miss Neville, you will very kindly pin it; as Mason seems to
be so excessively stupid."

"I never pinned in such a flower before Ma'am," replied Mason, shrugging
her shoulders, while she made way for Amy to take her place, who soon
arranged it to Mrs. Linchmore's satisfaction.

The dress was put on, its rich silk folds falling round her graceful
figure. Her dark hair, almost throwing the black lace trimmings into the
shade, wound round her small head in thick bands. Very beautiful she
looked; and so Amy thought, as she stood gazing at her, while Mason
fastened the bracelets round the fair white arms, and drew a shawl round
the still fairer shoulders.

"You will find it cold, Ma'am, going down the corridor and stairs."

"I dare say. Good night, Miss Neville. I regret we are not to have the
pleasure of seeing you," and with a proud, firm step, Mrs. Linchmore
went out.

Would she have entered the drawing room so haughtily, had she known she
was wearing a flower that had been offered; nay, gathered for her
governess! The room was a blaze of light, as with a proud, yet graceful
step, a slight, haughty movement, perceptible about the small beautiful
head, Mrs. Linchmore bowed, and shook hands with her guests.

Even in that shake there was haughtiness. It was no cordial grasp of the
hand, but a slight, very slight pressure, as the small taper fingers met
yours, and they were withdrawn, while a smile just curled the corner of
the lips, and she passed on; each tiny foot firmly, gracefully, yet
proudly planted on the ground: the same mocking smile, the same haughty
bend repeated, ere, gathering the rich silk dress in one hand, and
dropping at the same moment the splendid Cashmere that had partially
concealed her beautiful figure, she leant back, as if tired of the
exertion, amongst the soft crimson cushions of the sofa.

"What a beautiful, cold-hearted creature she is," thought Robert
Vavasour, as he watched her.

"What airs she gives herself," muttered Sotto Voce, a rather pretty
woman, and a neighbour, "coming in as if she were an Empress, after we
have all been assembled here the last ten minutes! For my part, I wonder
she condescends to come at all."

How fortunate it is opinions differ, as well as tastes; but I am not so
sure this lady was singular in hers; certain I am, it would not have
caused Mrs. Linchmore one moment's uneasiness; she did not care a straw
what women thought of either her pride or her looks; she knew well that
by far the greater number envied her, therefore she could afford to
laugh at such speeches; but it was a rule with her--perhaps a studied
one--not to make her appearance until nearly all her guests were

She was never, even when an invited guest, early, but always amongst the
late comers; never actually unpunctual, but generally last, when she
would walk in as she had done now, haughty and graceful, the perfection
of ease in every slow and measured movement, totally unmindful of, or
apparently careless and unconcerned at the glances of admiration or the
many eyes bent on her as she passed.

Few could have entered a room filled with company so calmly and
gracefully, with the _lady_ stamped in every step she took, every turn
of the head, every bend of the swan-like throat, or easy, graceful
figure: the pretty neighbour might have practised it for hours--nay,
days, and failed. It was innate in Mrs. Linchmore: it was impossible to
conceive her doing anything awkwardly, or out of place. Even now, as she
leant amongst the soft cushions, she was grace itself; while a lady
near, sat stiffly upright, looking most uncomfortable, though the
self-same cushions were behind and around her, inviting to repose and

"My flower is highly honoured," said Robert Vavasour, as he drew near,
and partly leant over the back of the sofa.

"Your flower!" exclaimed Mrs. Linchmore, with a well-acted glance of

"It is scarcely worthy of a place amongst those rich dark braids," added
he, softly.

"Ah, yes," replied she, raising her hand to her head, "I had quite
forgotten all about it. It is a lovely spray."

"It would have looked better in the bouquet. Those braids require no
addition to set them off."

"So Miss Neville said when she pinned it in. I am sorry she has done it
awkwardly, and that it does not please you," said she carelessly, "It is
too late to remedy the defect now."

"Defect," said he, rather hastily, "the word is unwisely chosen; it is
impossible to find fault. The only defect, since you will it so, is the
unworthiness of the flower itself."

"Do you condemn my poor bouquet also?"

"It is exquisite," he said, taking it from her hand, "and a great deal
of taste displayed in its arrangement; the colours harmonize so well.
The flowers are lovely."

"I suppose they are lovely; everything that costs money is. I used to be
just as well pleased once with the wild flowers growing in the hedges.
Take care, Mr. Vavasour, you will crush my poor Camellia. See, it has
fallen at your feet."

"Not for worlds!" replied he, stooping and raising it from the ground;
"how loosely it was tied in; see, the stem is not broken, but has been
cleverly fastened with a piece of thread. I may keep it, may I not?"
asked he, as she stretched out her hand for it.

"It is not worth the keeping."

"Say not so, for I prize it highly. Is it to be mine?"

"Yes, if you wish it," replied Mrs. Linchmore, with a faint attempt at a
smile, while the thought flashed across her mind that she wished she had
thrown his flower away.

Then she rose and led the way in to dinner, anything but pleased with
the result of her conversation either with Robert Vavasour or her
husband, and it required a great effort on her part to fulfil her
character of hostess for that evening; and many noticed how far more
haughty she was than usual, and how absent and at random the answers she

"So I have the Camellia at last," thought Mr. Vavasour, "and Miss
Neville pinned in the flower I gathered, which she refused to accept;
well, strange things happen sometimes; I am certain she never
foresaw this."

And he too moved away and followed his hostess.



    "And what is life?--An hour glass on the run,
      A mist retreating from the morning sun,
    A busy, bustling, still-repeated dream,
      Its length?--A minute's pause, a moment's thought;
    And happiness?--A bubble on the stream,
      That, in the act of seizing, shrinks to naught.
    What is vain hope?--the puffing gale of morn,
      That robs each flow'ret of its gem,--and dies;
    A cobweb, hiding disappointment's thorn,
      Which stings more keenly through the thin disguise."

                                              JOHN CLARE.

The eight o'clock train came whizzing and puffing into the Standale
station; Standale was a large town about ten miles distant from
Brampton, and the nearest railway station to the Park. Charles Linchmore
had barely time to step on to the platform, ere it was off again and out
of sight, puffing as hard and fast as ever.

"Tom has sent me a horse?" questioned he of the porter.

"Yes, Sir. Waiting for you the last ten minutes, Sir."

Charles Linchmore passed out, and was soon wending his way along the
road to Brampton Park. The moon had not yet risen, and owing to the
slippery state of the roads, on account of the heavy fall of snow and
recent frost, he rode on leisurely enough.

"Come along, Bob," said he to a shaggy Scotch terrier, who kept close to
the hind legs of the horse; "come along, old fellow, I'd give you a run
after your pent-up journey, only the roads are so confoundedly slippery,
and her majesty is determined to hide herself behind the clouds

The dog wagged his tail as though he understood his master, and kept on
as before. He was not much of a companion, but what with an occasional
puff at his cigar, and talk to his dog, Charles Linchmore went on
comfortably enough. As the smoke curled about his handsome mouth, his
thoughts wandered. What were they doing at the Hall? Was Miss Neville
still there, or absent as when he last paid his visit? and if there, had
any of the numerous visitors found out what a nice girl she was?

"Of course they think her pretty, of that there can be no doubt,"
thought he, "and I dare say she has found it out too by this time, and
gives herself airs; unless such an example as my brother's wife before
her eyes gives her timely warning, and she steers on another tack.
There's no being up to the girls now-a-days; as to prying into their
hearts it's impossible, and not to be imagined for a moment; they are
growing too deep for us men, and beat us out-and-out in deceit and

"She has magnificent hair," thought he after a pause, "I suppose it's
all her own--just the colour I like, though she has a ridiculous fashion
of binding it up about her head. Perhaps she thinks it makes her look
like a Madonna;" here he took a long puff at his cigar. "Well, I could
not fall in love with a Madonna, it's not my style, and I do not think
she is like one either; an angel's eyes don't flash like hers do
sometimes. Perhaps Robert thinks his wife an angel, there is no
accounting for tastes, but if Miss Neville has grown one iota like her,
I'll--" here he paused again, "I'll have a flirtation with her, and--and
then go back to my regiment."

The idea made him savage, and throwing away his cigar, he halted until
the groom who rode behind came up.

"You can ride on, home, Tom, I don't want you," said he, and then he
listened to the clatter of the horse's hoofs on the hard frosty ground,
until they faded away in the distance out of hearing.

"We are all selfish," mused he, "that man would have ridden more slowly
and carefully had it been his own horse. I dare say though, I am just as
selfish if I only knew it."

He lit another cigar, and rode on some miles without interruption, until
stopped by the Brampton Turnpike Gate.

"Hulloa!" called he.

But no notice was taken of his repeated shouts, although a faint gleam
of light shone partly across the road from a slight crack in one of the
shutters, showing that some of the inmates were at least awake.

"Confound the fellow!" muttered Charles as he called again.

When the door suddenly opened, and the figure of a man stood in the

"I tell yer I can undo it very well myself, and will too, so just stand
fast," said he in a thick voice, to somebody inside the cottage, while
and with anything but a steady gait he managed somehow between a shuffle
and scramble to get over the one step of the cottage,--lifting his legs
at the same time, as if the steps was so many feet, instead of inches
high,--and reach the gate. Here, steadying himself by leaning both arms
across the top, he looked up to where Charles Linchmore stood.

"I say young, man!" exclaimed he. "What do yer mean by hollering and
bawling in that way? Havn't yer any patience. If ye're in sich a mortal
hurry, why don't yer take and jump the gate? Eh!"

"Open the gate, you blockhead, or I will make you," exclaimed Charles,

"Speak civil, can't yer? I ain't going to open the gate with them words
for my pains."

Just then the moon emerged from behind a cloud, and shone full on
Charles Linchmore's face. The man recognised him in a moment,
notwithstanding his tipsy state.

"In course, Sir, I'll open, who says I shan't? Bless yer sir, I'll open
it as wide as ever he'll go. Dang me! if I can though," muttered he, as
he fumbled at the fastening.

"Bring a lanthorn, Jem, can't yer," called he, turning his face towards
the cottage, the door of which still remained open. "Bring a light; yer
was mighty anxious just now to come out when yer wasn't wanted, and now
yer are, yer don't care to show yer face."

He had scarcely finished speaking when another man emerged from the
cottage, a hand was placed on the lock, and with a clatter the gate
swung back to the other side of the road.

"I've half a mind to give you a sound horsewhipping," said Charles,
passing through, followed by Bob, the latter venting his displeasure in
a low suppressed growl, "but I hope your wife will save me the trouble,
so I shall reserve it for some future opportunity."

"Thank yer Sir. She takes to it kindly she do, and don't want no

"I hope she will give you an extra dose of it at all events," said
Charles. "Is that you, Grant?" he added, addressing the other man. "It's
scarcely safe for you to be out so late, is it?"

"You've heard all about the trial then, Sir?" questioned Grant.

"I read an account of it in the papers, and was sorry enough for poor

"Most everybody was Sir, and the parson gave us a fine discourse the
Sunday after his funeral; but somehow preaching don't heal a broken
heart, and Susan do take on awful at times; she haven't forgotten him,
and it's my belief never will."

"Poor thing! Her husband's was a sudden and sad death, shot down like a
dog by the poachers. The gang are still prowling about, so they say."

"Yes, Sir, and will do more mischief yet, they're a bad, desperate set,
the lot that's here this year."

"I suppose you are keeping this man company, or looking after him in his
drunken state. You would scarcely be going home alone at this late hour
of the evening?"

"No, Sir. I am going home. I've been up to the Hall, and stayed there
longer than I ought."

"It is too late a great deal for you to be out, and the whole country
round about swarming with poachers."

"True, Sir. But I shan't go before my time--"

"Nonsense!" interrupted Charles. "Come, I tell you what; I'll see you
home, I have nothing better to do; but first get that man safely housed
somewhere, do not leave him out here to be run over."

"Oh! I'll soon settle him, sir."

And while Charles Linchmore struck a light and lit another cigar, Grant
went once more into the cottage.

Opening a door, he called up the stairs, "Mrs. Marks! Here's your
husband. I've brought him home rather unsteady on his pins; you'd better
come down and see after him at once afore he gets into mischief."

"He is! Is he?" screamed a shrill voice from the top. "I expected as
much. I warrant I'll soon make him steady again!"

With which satisfactory reply Grant rejoined Charles Linchmore, and they
left the 'pikeman singing a drunken song, and vainly trying to shut the
gate, the opening of which had previously so baffled his endeavours.

Turning off the high road, they struck into a side path or narrow lane,
the tall hedges towering above them on either side, while here and
there a tree loomed like a giant overhead.

"So you have been gossiping up at the Hall, Grant?" began Charles,
encouraging his companion to talk.

"Yes, Sir; and a sight of company there is there now; not a man or maid
able or willing to talk to you; so it's not much in the way of a gossip
I've had. No, sir, I went to see my daughter Mary, but she was busy with
the young ladies, getting them ready for a big dinner. Sich a sight of
carriages in the yard, and the dogs barking like mad. You'd scarce know
the place again, Sir. It's so changed."

"I'm glad of it. It used to be as dull as ditch water."

"Lord love ye, Sir! You won't find it dull or lonesome now. Why afore
the frost set in, the roads were all alive with ladies and gentlemen
riding over them. Matthew the Pikeman hadn't no time scarce to eat his
victuals, let alone take a drop. So there's some excuse, Sir, for him
getting muddled a bit now, and he didn't forsee the party up at the
Hall to-night."

"I see," replied Charles, smiling, "he was overworked, poor man, I've no
doubt it is so."

"Well, as to that Sir, I can't say he's got much to worry himself about
on that score. His wife says he's an idle dog; but then that's her way,
she never says he's over-burthened with brains."

"A vixen, eh? It's a good thing all women don't resemble Mrs. Marks."

"Yes, Sir, it is. Which same is a comfort if you're thinking of taking a
wife; I ask your pardon, Sir, for being so bold."

"I Grant! I take a wife! That is anything but a sensible speech of
yours, and requires a great deal of thought."

"Well, Sir, I dare say when your time comes, you'll get one as'll suit
you, as Mrs. Marks suits her husband, he'd be nothing without her, and
though he brags and bullies about awful behind her back, he's like a
tame cat afore her. To every word he gives, she lets fly more than a
dozen. It's my belief she'd talk any man dumb in half an hour."

"A pleasant life for Marks, upon my soul! I no longer wonder he
frequents the public house."

"He don't go there often, Sir, don't think it. No, he most allays
manages to go on the sly, and it ain't so easy to 'scape her eyes.
Sometimes when he thinks she's safe at the wash-tub, he sneaks off; but
he darn't for the life of him go on if he hears her voice calling out
after him behind. Then he's forced to turn tail, and go back home with
it 'tween his legs, with scarce even a growl. But it 'grees with him, he
don't get so _very_ thin; most others would be worn to skin and bone
afore this. And now I'm in sight of the cottage, sir, so I needn't
trouble you to come any further, and I'm much beholden to you, Sir, for
coming so far."

But Charles Linchmore saw him safe to the door, then turned his horse's
head once more towards the Hall.

This time he had not long to wait at the Turnpike Gate. It was swung
open by a tall, bony, masculine looking woman,--apparently quite a match
for the thin, spare Pikeman--who wished him good night in a loud, shrill

"Mrs. Marks," thought Charles. "Her voice sounds hoarse, as though she
had been pitching into that unfortunate husband of hers pretty
considerably. I hope there's no second Mrs. M. to be had, or reserved
for me, as Grant half hinted, in some snug corner."

As he entered the Lodge gate, he wondered if Miss Neville had joined the
guests at dinner; who had taken her in, sat next her, and talked to her;
and whether he should find her the centre of an admiring circle, or
flirting in some "snuggery," or on the "causeuse," where he had had such
a desperate flirtation with his cousin, Frances Strickland, only a year

But he had scarcely taken half-a-dozen steps in the Hall, before he saw
her standing at the further end, by the large roaring Christmas fire.

He crossed at once to where she was; holding out his hand cordially,
forgetting in a moment all his savage thoughts and suspicions.

"Good evening, Miss Neville. You have not forgotten an old friend?"

Amy gave him her hand, but not quite so eagerly as it was clasped in
those strong fingers of his.

"The sight of the fire is quite cheering. I am half frozen with the
cold," continued he, drawing nearer to it.

"It is a bleak drive from the station; and I always fancy colder on that
road than any other."

"I rode it; and should have been warm enough if the frosty roads would
have allowed of a gallop. I met Grant, the head Keeper, as I came along,
and saw him home; it was too late for him to be out alone, and a price
set on his head by those cowardly ruffians, the poachers."

"You heard about the fight then. What a sad affair it was from beginning
to end. It has made us all nervous and fearful for Grant, as he gave
the principal evidence against the unfortunate man who was hung; and
they have vowed to be revenged on him; but Mr. Linchmore has doubled the
number of Keepers nearly, so we hope that will intimidate them."

"I hope it may; and now suppose we talk about something more lively; the
dinner for instance. How many people are here?"

"About thirty altogether. But they have all left the dining-room now
some little time. You are late."

"I meant to be. I hate dinners," he said crossly, half inclined to be
out of temper again, as of course she must be waiting for somebody out
there; otherwise why all alone?

"Here Bob," said he aloud, "here's room for you, old fellow; come and
warm your toes. He's no beauty, Miss Neville, is he?" and he glanced
inquiringly in her face. "Would she think him a horror, as his Cousin
Frances had done?

"Decidedly not," replied Amy, "but I like dogs."

"I am glad of it. I am very fond of Bob, I believe he is the only
creature who cares for me. By-the-by how is my sister's fat pet? Poor
beast, what a specimen of a dog he is! Bob and he never got on well

"He is as asthmatic as ever, and has not had a fit for an age. I cannot
say what the sight of your dog may do, especially if he turns the right
side of his face towards him."

"Yes. That eye is certainly rather so-so; and the lip uncomfortably
short; but I am proud of those marks, and so is he; they are most
honourable wounds, and show he has borne the brunt of many a battle
without flinching."

While Amy and he both laughed, Frances Strickland came into the hall.
She glanced at the two in surprise, and stood for a moment irresolute.
Once she made as though she would have gone towards them, then turning,
went swiftly into the music-room; came back as softly, and with another
look re-entered the drawing-room.

Closing the door, her eyes wandered restlessly until they fixed their
gaze on Mrs. Linchmore, who, seated on the music stool, was carelessly
turning the pages of a book, while two or three young men seemed eagerly
proffering their services, or selecting from among a number of songs the
one she was to sing.

An expression of disappointment flitted over Frances' face while going
towards the piano. One of the gentlemen had just moved away to another
part of the room. So laying down the music she held in her hand, she
advanced towards the vacant seat, and had nearly secured it, when it was
filled by another, just as Mrs. Linchmore began one of the airs from

Again that vexed, baffled look, with a dimly perceptible frown. As she
turned away, Anne Bennet rose and seated herself by Julia.

"Look at Frances, Maggie," whispered she, "and tell me what you see in
her face."

"What should I see?" laughed Julia, "but pride. I have never been able
to find any other expression."

"Then you are a greater simpleton than I; and if I had the stick the
fool gave to the king on his death bed, you should have it; for I see a
great deal more."

"Wise sister Anne. What do you see?"

"An angry, spiteful, vexed look; as if she had seen a ghost in the
music-room, where I know she went just now."

"Nonsense! Even if she had it would not frighten her, she would think it
had only made its appearance to fall down and worship her; and would
spurn it with her foot."

"I am certain she saw something out there, and I am determined to see
what it was."

"Of course," said Julia demurely, "and here comes Mr. Hall to help you."

"Always coming when he is not wanted," exclaimed Anne crossly. "I shall
not say a word to him; or if I do, I will be abominably rude."

Quite unconscious of what was awaiting him Mr. Hall advanced, and said
good humouredly,

"I have been thinking Miss Anne, where we shall go to-morrow for the
walk you have so kindly threatened me with."

"It will most likely pour in torrents," replied she.

"I do not anticipate it, the glass is rising, so there is every prospect
of our walk coming off; and if I might be allowed to choose, I know of a
very lovely one, even in winter time."

"That is impossible," said she sharply, "everything looks cold and

"Not while the snow remains in the branches of the trees; even then the
Oak Glen can never look ugly; the large rocks prevent that."

"The Oak Glen! Oh, pray do not trouble yourself to take me there; I will
lead you blind-fold." That will settle him, thought she.

But no, Mr. Hall was not to be defeated in that style, and went on again
quite unconcernedly.

"You have sketched it, perhaps. It would make a lovely painting."

"I do not paint; that is to say only caricatures of people that make
themselves ridiculous." That must finish him, thought she, as Julia
gave her dress a slight pull.

But Mr. Hall had not the slightest idea of leaving, and seemed as though
he heard not; and quite out of temper Anne said;

"What are you pulling at my dress for, Julia? I think she has a secret
to tell me Mr. Hall, so you really must go away."

"I dare say it will keep until to-morrow," replied the impenetrable Mr.
Hall; "young ladies never have any very serious secrets."

"You are quite right, Mr. Hall," said Julia, "my secret will keep very
well until to-morrow."

"What a wretch he is!" thought Anne, tapping her tiny foot impatiently
on the ground; "Isabella will have finished that song soon, and then it
will be too late. How tiresome I cannot get rid of him, when every
moment is so precious."

"Mr. Hall," said she aloud, "If Julia's secret will keep, mine will not;
and since you are determined to remain here, why you must be a sharer in
it; there is no help for it."

"By all means," replied he, coolly, "I am all attention."

"You will only hear part of it; but men are so curious, I dare say you
will soon ferret out the rest. Can I trust you?"

"Of course. It is only the fair sex that are not to be trusted."

"I have no time to quarrel with you, or I would resent such a rude
speech. Now will you attend, please. I am going to ask you to help
me--that is if you will."

"Certainly I will. I am all attention."

"I am desirous of leaving the room without Miss Strickland's knowledge;
can you help me to manage it?"

"Is that all? You shall see."

He went over to where Frances still stood by the piano; with huge,
ungainly strides, as though a newly ploughed field was under his feet,
instead of the soft velvet carpet.

"What an awkward bear he is!" said Anne to her sister, as she watched
him; "I shall give him a hint to get drilled, or become a volunteer
parson, he would be sure to shoot himself the very first time he
handled a rifle; do only look at him Mag, he is like a large tub
rolling along."

"Do not abuse him Anne, see how quickly he has done what you wished; I
am sure he deserves praise for that."

"I wish he always would do what I wish; and then I should not be
tormented with him so often," replied Anne.



    Thus, when I felt the force of love,
      When all the passion fill'd my breast,--
    When, trembling, with the storm I strove,
      And pray'd, but vainly pray'd, for rest;
    'Twas tempest all, a dreadful strife
      For ease, for joy, for more than life:
    'Twas every hour to groan and sigh
      In grief, in fear, in jealousy.


Frances did not look very well pleased when she saw Mr. Hall advancing;
in fact turned away her head almost rudely, so that any very timid man
would have taken the hint and retreated.

But Mr. Hall, however simple he looked, was not timid; he had a way of
always carrying his point. That strong unflinching will of his would
have subdued a much more formidable enemy than a proud, weak woman. I
say weak, because when a woman gives way to or does not strive against
any besetting sin, she lays herself open to attack, and is easily
wounded when that most palpable fault is assailed. So it was with

Her mother and Mrs. Bennet were sisters, the first had married a rich
merchant, the other a comparatively poor man, whose five daughters did
not conduce to enrich him, however much they might his family fireside.
Mrs. Linchmore's mother was an elder sister, she had died young leaving
her only child to the care, as has been seen, of Mrs. Elrington. Frances
and Mrs. Linchmore somewhat resembled one another. The same haughty
look, and at times, scornful expression appeared in both, but with this
difference, that the former could command hers at will almost, while the
latter was either not so well versed in the art of concealment or
scorned to use means to prevent its being visible.

They were both rich. Riches do not of necessity bring pride, although
they in a great measure foster and increase it. They make the seeds bear
fruit which otherwise would remain dormant for ever, and Frances being
an only daughter had been early taught to believe she was a magnet,
towards which all hearts would turn, and that wealth was necessary to
happiness, while her cousins the Bennets were quoted as examples of
poverty, until she thoroughly learnt to despise and pity them, believing
in her ignorance that they and all must envy her and her parents wealth.

Mr. Hall, in her ideas, was a poor simpleton almost beneath her regard,
and she would have taken no notice of him had it not been for his
admiration of Anne. She could not bear another should receive worship
while she was present. He was simply a being to be made useful, as in
the instance of the skein of wool; though that little episode had in
some slight measure induced her to think he was not quite such a Simon
Pure as he looked, and although Mr. Hall on this occasion really
exerted himself to be agreeable, the tangled mass lying in the sofa
table drawer, was too recent an injury to be easily forgotten; and he
only received monosyllables in reply to his remarks.

But he was not to be defeated. Anne had asked him to help her, and help
her he would; so notwithstanding Frances' ungraciousness he talked on,
and so engrossed her attention that he soon had the satisfaction of
watching Anne's unobserved escape from the room, and of thinking that
perhaps she would like him a little better for his clever management.

Alas! Anne had far too much curiosity to think of anything but
gratifying that. Until that had been satisfied not a thought had she for
anything else. Her inquisitiveness was as great almost as Frances'
pride. There never was a plot concocted at home, or a pleasure planned
as a surprise for her, but she had found out all about it before it was
in a fair way of completion. Her sisters were constantly foreboding
scrapes and troubles for her, but nothing as in this instance daunted
her. She would not be baffled. She guessed from Frances' face that
something had annoyed her; that trouble was in consequence in store for
some one, and she was resolved to find out what that something was.

As she stood outside in the hall, she saw at a glance Frances' ghosts,
and ever impulsive, was beside them in a moment.

"Good evening, Charles. There are at least a dozen cousins in there,"
and she pointed in the direction of the drawing-room, "waiting to say
the same to you."

"Then let them wait, until I have warned and nerved myself to encounter
such an immense array of females."

"Most men would have been roasted in less time; but you have had very
pleasant company," and she glanced at Amy, "to perform your deed of
martyrdom in."

"I had a cold ride," replied he drily, "and only arrived a short time
ago from the Brampton Station."

"In these fast days even the clocks are somehow in the fashion, and go
faster than they did formerly. I remember when I used to think
half-an-hour an awful long time to wait for anybody, and I suspect
Mrs. Linchmore's patience is fast evaporating."

"Nonsense! How should she know I have arrived?"

"Because all ill news travels fast."

"Do not be surprised, Miss Neville," said Charles, apologetically, "at
any thing you hear fall from Miss Bennet's lips, she is--," he hesitated
a moment, "rather peculiar."

Anne's laugh rang loud and clear through the hall; then coming close
beside him, and standing on tiptoe, she whispered a few words in his
ear, evidently by the sudden start he gave and the quick flush that
succeeded it, something that annoyed him; for while Anne still laughed
he wished Miss Neville good-night, and, whistling to his dog, went away

Then Anne no longer laughed, but with a sigh turned suddenly to Miss
Neville, and as she did so caught sight of Mr. Hall's face at the
half-open drawing-room door.

"Is it possible!" exclaimed she, "that I caught sight of Mr. Hall's ugly
phiz peeping through the door?"

"Yes; he was there not long ago; at least I saw him when you were
whispering to Mr. Linchmore."

"Upon my word, I am losing all patience with that man. How I do wish
Charles had been a little more cousinly; how astonished he would have
been, and what a lecture he would have read me. Keep a secret, indeed!
Not he. Why he is a thousand times worse that I. Good-bye, Miss
Neville, I am sorry to have interrupted your cosy chat, but I could not
possibly help it; you will forgive me, won't you."

Amy told her there was nothing to forgive. That she had promised the
children she would take them upstairs, and was merely waiting for them.

"Then do not wait any longer," Anne said, "but take my advice, go to
bed, and send Mary. You do not know Mrs. Linchmore as well as I do,
_she_ is _peculiar_ in some things; and--now do not be angry--but I
doubt if she would like your being here." And without waiting to see the
effect of her speech, Anne went off.

"You _cannot_ keep a secret, Mr. Hall," said she, stumbling upon him as
she entered the drawing-room. "I have tried you, and you are not to be
trusted in the very slightest."

"You forget, Miss Anne, you did not trust me, otherwise--"

"You would not have peeped," she said, finishing the sentence.

"True. I should not."

"But a secret is no secret when it is entrusted to a multitude. If you
have found out mine--which, mind, I doubt--do not divulge it."

Ten minutes later Mrs. Linchmore herself left the room with the
children, and Anne again enlisted Mr. Hall's services, asking him to see
if Miss Neville was in the Hall. "Do not trouble to come and tell me, I
do not wish it; but just shake your head, or nod as the case may be, yes
or no; I shall understand you."

"I have found it all out, Mag," said she, crossing the room as Mr. Hall
disappeared; and with no little pride Anne once more seated herself in
the still vacant chair.

"I do not doubt you, Anne. Was it worth the trouble?"

"I should think so. There would have been a flame before now, the train
was laid and the match all ready, but before it could be set fire to I
dispersed it. So you see curiosity is not always a fault, but in some
instances praiseworthy."

Julia laughed. "What reasoning," she said.

"It is sound, good reasoning though, Mag; and now do tell me if Mr. Hall
is in the room?"

"Yes, and looking at you, Anne."

This should have satisfied her, and she should have given Mr. Hall the
chance of making the promised signal; but no, she could not resist the
pleasure of tormenting him a little, so went on talking to her sister
and giving no heed.

Presently, a few minutes later, she again asked, "What is Mr. Hall doing
Mag? Has he left off looking in this direction?"

"No, he is still looking," replied Julia, laughing.

"Oh what a wretch; and how foolish he is. I suppose he will go on
looking until everybody in the room sees him," and slowly raising her
eyes she received the promised shake, and really felt happy at having
extricated Amy out of some trouble, though she hardly knew what. She
remained where she was for the rest of the evening, expecting every
moment to see her cousin Charles come in at the opposite door, but he
never made his appearance. Frances' eyes were also constantly wandering
in the same direction; perhaps she too expected him, but he disappointed
them both. They saw no more of him until the next morning at breakfast,
when approaching Anne as she stood at the window inwardly abusing the
unpromising state of the weather--it was snowing fast--he asked who had
told her of his arrival the evening before. "I am determined to know,"
said he, "so you had better make a clean breast of it at once, and tell
me who acted as I am inclined to think so spitefully."

But Anne pretended not to understand him. He had been asleep and
dreaming since. She had never even hinted that any one had been
spiteful; it was a pure invention of his brain, and leaving him, she
went to the table. There seeing Mr. Hall busy helping some cold fowl,
she walked round and took a seat as far off from him as she possibly
could. But what was her astonishment at seeing him, as she began cutting
a piece of bread, deliberately walk round to where she was; and taking
the knife from her hand, cut a slice which he put on her plate, and then
seat himself beside her. She dared not look at her sister, knowing full
well she was laughing, and that was sufficient to make her feel angry
and indignant, so turning her face away, she vouchsafed him not one
word, but listened to the conversation going on around.

"I am very glad to see you, Charles," Mrs. Linchmore was saying. "How
early you must have arrived. Did you sleep at Standale? I believe the
place does boast of an hotel of some kind."

"No. I arrived last night, but having indulged in a cigar as I came
along, with Bob for a companion,--two of your abominations--I had to
divest myself of my travelling costume lest you should detect the first;
see Bob safely housed for the second, and take a glass of brandy and
water for the third; and by the time I had finished that, I thought the
bed looked uncommonly comfortable, so just tried it to see if it was,
and suppose I was right, for I only awoke about twenty minutes ago, and
have had a scramble to get down in time."

"Three very poor excuses. I did hear a whisper that you were here, but
could not believe it, as I thought you would of course come and make
yourself agreeable to my visitors, if not to myself and your cousins,"
said Mrs. Linchmore, with a slight symptom of annoyance in her tone,
"however, Bob, if he was your only companion was, I have no doubt more
pleasant company. By what train did you arrive?"

"By one of the late trains," replied he, catching a glimpse of Anne's
face, the expression of which rather puzzled him, but he fancied it told
him to be on his guard, so he added, "I was not in a fit state to be
seen by any lady just from that dusty, smoky railway."

"I saw you," said Frances, quietly looking up, "but you were too busily
engaged to perceive me."

"And--" Mr. Hall was on the point of adding "_I_--" and perhaps telling
that he had seen Amy also; but before the latter word had escaped his
lips Anne, turned round quickly and catching his arm whispered,

"My secret! Beware, beware!"

"Is that your secret?" asked Mr. Hall, "Remember I am still in
ignorance; you only half trusted me. Pray forgive me."

Anne felt astonished and abashed. A great tall man like Mr. Hall ask her
pardon so humbly; she thought she should like him a little better from
that time forth. So full of wonderment was she, that she failed to
notice the quick triumphant glance Charles flashed at her across the
table, on hearing Frances' words.

It did not snow incessantly; some days were fine enough, and what with
hunting, riding, shooting and skating, they passed pleasantly for the
visitors, notwithstanding Mrs. Linchmore's fears that they were finding
Brampton Hall dull and stupid.

The ball had not as yet been talked of, except in the housekeeper's
room, where of course Mason carried the news, to the no small vexation
of Mrs. Hopkins, who thought the place quite gay enough as it was; and
sighed for the good old times, when she could walk about without being
obliged to drop a courtesy at every step she took, as she encountered
some fair girl, or man with fierce moustaches and whiskers; these latter
she regarded as so many birds of prey, waiting for some unfortunate
victim to pounce down upon and bear away in their fierce talons.

Charles Linchmore did not apparently care much for any of the gay party
assembled, and often loitered away half the morning in the library,
where setting the door ajar, and seating himself so that he could catch
a glimpse of any one passing, he lounged impatiently until the gong
sounded for luncheon. Then throwing down his book, with a gesture half
of weariness, half of vexation, he either remained where he was, and
took no notice of the summons, or went into the dining-room with
anything but a happy or contented expression of face; feeling
uncomfortably out of sorts and out of temper with himself and the whole
world, and in no mood for Frances' soft smiles--who, proud as she was,
could and did unbend to him--or for Anne's sharp retorts.

What had become of Miss Neville? Where was she? Did she never go out? It
was an unheard-of piece of eccentricity, remaining so long shut up in
the house; besides it was bad for the children. Surely a cold walk was
better than none at all? These and many other questions Charles asked
himself, until he grew tired and out of patience, and tried to think of
other things, but it was useless; his thoughts always came back to the
one starting point, Miss Neville; she was evidently uppermost in his
mind; although he stood a good chance, or seemed to do so, of returning
to his regiment, without even the flirtation he had threatened her with
as a punishment, if he should find her at all resembling his brother's
wife, or spoilt with mixing amongst the small world at Brampton.

Had he only wandered near the door leading out into the shrubbery from
the flight of stairs in the wing appropriated to the children and Miss
Neville, he would have seen her every day, and not wasted his mornings
in vain wishes and surmises as to what had become of her.

One cold, raw day after a gallop with his cousin Frances, and almost a
renewal of his old flirtation--she was a fearless horsewoman, and he
could never help admiring a woman who rode well--he walked round to the
stables to have a look at the horses.

As he passed in sight of the school-room window, he could not resist the
temptation of looking up, and saw Amy, whom a few minutes ago he had
almost forgotten, standing by the window. Scarcely knowing whether she
noticed him or not, he raised his hat. She bowed slightly ere she moved
away out of his sight.

Was it his fancy, or did he really detect a mocking smile on her lips?
Was it possible she was glorying in having deluded him so successfully
ever since the night of his arrival? The idea aroused him at once; he
would no longer be inactive. The chase was becoming exciting, since she
would not leave the citadel, he would storm it.

Instead of going to the stables, he turned back, and went to his own
room, changed his thick, heavy riding boots, and then made for the
school-room, passing Mrs. Linchmore's door on his way with a defiant,
determined step; but he was uninterrupted in his journey; he met no one.
He soon reached the corridor, stood before the school-room door and
knocked. But the soft voice he had expected to hear in reply was silent.

Again he knocked. No reply still. He grew bolder, opened the door
softly, and with Bob at his heels, walked in.

The room was tenantless. Amy and her pupils were nowhere.

So she had guessed his intention, perhaps seen him from the window
turning back, and divining his motive, flown. He was angry, indignant,
but his time was his own, he would wait where he was half the day; he
would see her, she should not elude him thus.

Being in a bad temper, he vented it on unoffending Bob.

"How dare you follow me here, Sir?" The poor animal looked up wistfully,
not knowing in what he had offended, since his master patted his head so
caressingly as they stood outside the door together.

On the table was a half finished drawing, the paper still damp with the
last touches, the brushes all scattered about; one had fallen on the
edge of the paper; Charles took it up, carefully washed out the mark it
had left, and laid it by carefully.

Amy's work-box stood invitingly open. He looked in, and turned over the
contents: there was a piece of embroidery; small holes that had been cut
out and sewn over, the "_holy work_," as he called it, that he hated so

Somehow this small piece appeared to have a curious interest in his
eyes, he looked at it, put it down and then looked at it again. There
was the needle still in the half finished flower, and a small mark as
though the finger had been injured in the sewing. This decided him, and
with a half frightened, guilty look he put it in his pocket, just as
Bob, evidently with the view of making friends, rubbed against his legs.

"Ah! my friend," said Charles, looking down, "Your warning
comes too late. The deed is done."

"What is too late?" asked Frances advancing into the room, "and what
have you done?"

"You here," stammered Charles.

"Yes, why not? since Mr. Charles Linchmore designs to come."

"Then I came--, that is you forget," said he recovering himself, "I
sometimes take my nieces for a walk."

"I forget nothing," replied she, "my memory serves me well."

"Why are you here?" asked he, "surely you can have no excuse for

"It was chance directed my footsteps," replied she carelessly.

This was scarcely true. Ever since Frances had seen Amy talking with her
cousin on the evening of his arrival, a strange fascination to speak
with the governess had taken possession of her; why she hardly knew or
questioned; but now at this moment, as she stood so unexpectedly face to
face with Charles and marked his confusion, a jealous hatred crept
slowly, yet surely over her heart, a jealousy that was to be the bane of
her after life, to influence her every action, almost thought, and lead
her to follow blindly all its revengeful promptings, undeterred either
by the oft-times whispered voice of conscience, or the evident and
consequent sufferings of others.

What woman is not jealous of the one she fears is supplanting her, or
obtaining an interest in the heart of him she loves? but here Frances
had barely reason for her jealousy, Charles never having given her
sufficient cause to think he cared for her, beyond a cousinly regard;
yet she loved him as much as her proud heart was capable of loving.

"This drawing is beautifully done," said she, advancing and examining it
closely. "What have you done with the copy?"

The copy? What if she had named the "Holy Work?"

He cast a furtive glance at his pocket as he replied, "I have not seen
it. I suppose Miss Neville draws without one."

"I have never heard Isabella say she was an artist."

"I suspect my 'brother's wife.'" This was a favourite term of Charles's;
he generally spoke of Mrs. Linchmore as my 'brother's wife.' "I suspect
my brother's wife knows very little about Miss Neville's
accomplishments; she is not in her line; no two people could be more

"No. They are very different."


"But you are wrong, Charles, in thinking Isabella does not trouble her
head about her governess; she laughingly told me one day that she
thought her rather inclined to flirt."

"Indeed!" said he, consciously. "When was that?"

"I almost forget--last month I think, she noticed it, so you see she
must know something about her."

"Or next to nothing," replied he.

"I believe she thought _that_ her only fault; and you know it did not
look very well to see her come home so late with Mr. Vavasour."

"With Vavasour! When was that."

"Oh! I forget when; just a few days before you came."

"Flirting with Vavasour!" exclaimed Charles, thrown off his guard by the
suddenness of the announcement. "I won't believe it!"

"You had better ask Anne, then; she can tell you all about it, as she
and Mr. Hall walked home behind them, and talked about it afterwards; it
made quite a stir at the time."

"I dare say. I don't doubt you," said Charles, whistling apparently
quite unconcerned, when in reality he was infinitely disgusted.

"Well, if you do, you have only to come to the window," said Frances
triumphantly, "and judge for yourself."

With quick, hasty footsteps he was by her side in a moment. Yes, there
was Miss Neville, picking her way over the snow with Vavasour beside
her, the children some few yards ahead, so that the two were alone. _He_
had found out a way of meeting and joining her, though Charles had not;
no doubt they had been carrying on this game for days, while he had been
wasting his in hopeless guesses and surmises as to what had become of
her, imagining her miserably dull, shut up in the school room.

Yes, the secret was out now. It was for him she had left the drawing so
hastily, and all her things ruthlessly scattered about. For this he
himself had waited so patiently, and had thought to wait half the day.
He would have snatched the "Holy work" from his pocket and torn it into
shreds if he could, but other eyes than Bob's were on him now, and
without another word he strode away, passing through the door which
separated these rooms from the large corridor, just as Amy's and the
children's voices were heard on the stairs leading from the garden.

Frances watched his exit with a triumphant look; had she given him a bad
opinion of Amy Neville? and had he believed her?

She remained where she was, still and silent, until the door opened and
Amy came in, her face lighted up with smiles, and her cheeks glowing
with a faint tinge of colour from her walk. Frances' face flushed hotly
as she thought how beautiful she was; and passing by her with a scornful
bend of the head in acknowledgment of the governess's greeting, she
gained her own room, and bolted the door.

There throwing herself on her knees, she clasped her hands over her face
as she murmured passionately, "I hate her! But he shall not love her! He
shall not love her!"



                  "All shod with steel,
    We hissed along the polished ice, in games
    Confederate, imitative of the chace
    And woodland pleasures."


    "I will forget her! All dear recollections
    Pressed in my heart, like flowers within a book,
    Shall be torn out, and scattered to the winds!
    I will forget her!"


Alfred Strickland had chosen the breakfast-room as being the least
likely to be visited by any one after the morning's meal had been
despatched, and had made himself tolerably comfortable before the fire
in a large easy chair with a book, where he remained undisturbed by the
rustling of dresses and crinolines.

No two people were more dissimilar than Alfred and his sister. Their
features were as unlike as their tastes, disposition, and temper.
Indolence, not pride, was his failing; he seldom troubled his head about
any one but himself, not that he was selfishly inclined; he was not,
excepting on this one point of laziness, but would help any one out of a
difficulty so long as it cost him little or no trouble, but if that
"loomed in the distance," then his aid was very reluctantly given;
advice you were welcome to, and might have plenty of it; it required no
bodily exertion to talk, he could lie down and do that; but what inward
sighs and groans if his legs were put into requisition!

Good-natured to a fault, his sister's taunts, and she gave him plenty of
them--failed to rouse the lion within him, so he generally came off
victorious in their pitched battles, and was just as friendly as ever
the next time they met, whereas she would nurse her ill feeling for

He had been brought up to no profession. His father's hardly amassed
wealth descended to him as only son, and perhaps the idea of having as
much money at command as he could possibly want, first fostered his
indolence and made him gradually sink into a state of quiet laziness
which soon grew habitual, and from which as yet he had been roused but
on one occasion.

If the book he happened to be reading accidentally fell to the ground,
there it might remain until some one by chance saw it, and placed it on
the table again. He was good looking, somewhat of a fop, and had rather
a good opinion of himself, as most men of the present day have; and was
always dressed with scrupulous regard as to taste and fashion.

The one occasion on which he had been aroused was, when returning home
one day by the river side in his dog-cart, he saw a boy struggling in
the water, evidently for life.

In a moment the reins were on the horse's neck, he had plunged in and
brought him safe to land; then had to walk about a mile in his wet
things, his horse having taken fright at the cries of the boy's

Frances never believed this story, but always declared he had been
thrown into the river by the jerk the horse gave when starting off.

Alfred Strickland was not the only one who had chosen the breakfast room
as being the least likely to be interrupted by visitors. Julia had
persuaded Miss Tremlow at last to come down stairs, and was even now
advancing with the invalid on her arm to invade his fancied peace and
quietness. As their voices sounded at the door, Alfred turned in dismay,
and with no little disgust saw the two approach the fire near which he
had made himself so comfortable, and as he thought secure from all

"We scarcely expected to find anyone here," Julia said, "but you will
not interfere with my patient, being too lazy to move."

Alfred took the hint, and remained quiet, watching Julia as she first
wheeled a chair nearer the fire, then placed some soft cushions, and a
footstool and small table in readiness, all so nicely, and without the
least exertion or trouble to the invalid, who seemed a mere puppet
swayed about at the other's will; and he could not help thinking what a
nice wife she would make.

"I don't mind having a cushion too, Julia," said he, "if you have one to

"A cushion, you lazy creature. I've half a mind to throw it at your
head. The idea of my waiting on you!"

"Thank you," replied Alfred, inwardly thinking what a vile temper she
had, and how foolish it was to form hasty opinions.

"You will be paid out some day," said Julia. "I shall live to see you a
perfect martyr to your wife's whims and fancies."

"God forbid that I should ever be so foolish as to marry at all, much
less an invalid wife--of all things the most detestable."

"Well I will ask Goody Grey next time I see her what she prophecies."

"My dear," exclaimed Miss Tremlow, "pray do not mention that name; it
sets me all of a tremble. I have not forgotten that dreadful day, and
how the horses ran when she struck them. Have you, Mr. Strickland?"

"I? No indeed, I am not likely to forget it in a hurry, I shall be
reminded of it for some time to come," and he rubbed his arm as though
he still felt the grasp of her fingers.

"Let us talk of something else," said Julia; "this conversation is
against orders, and strictly prohibited. I am going to fetch your port
wine, Miss Tremlow, as I think you need it; now read your book, and do
not think of anything else, least of all of that horrid old woman."

"She does it all out of kindness, I dare say," said Miss Tremlow as the
door closed on Julia, "but I do so dislike being dosed."

"What an ungrateful being," said Alfred, "why, you ought to think
yourself in luck at being so waited on. I wish I was."

"I wish you were, with all my heart."

"Here she comes," said Alfred, "armed to the teeth," as a few minutes
after Julia returned with the wine in one hand and a shawl in the other.

"And your tormentor following in my train," laughed Julia, "my sister
Anne, most anxious to persuade you to join the skaters."

There was no resisting Anne, who had made up her mind to stay and
torment him, unless he gave up his book and went; so with many a sigh of
reluctance, he slowly rose and prepared to accompany her.

"Here is your hat and coat," said she. "I do not mind getting them as a
kind of preparatory recompense for fixing our skates, which you will
have to do presently. Good bye, Miss Tremlow, I am glad to see you down
again; how cosy you look! just like a dormouse wrapped up in flannel."

"Here's Charles," said Alfred, as they stumbled upon him in the passage.
"Will not he do as well; he is partial to all these kind of amusements."

No; Charles was going for a ride, his horse already waiting for him at
the door; besides he was in no mood for joining a party of pleasure; he
had felt in a restless, dissatisfied mood ever since the day he had
detected Amy walking with Mr. Vavasour, and he had carried away the
piece of embroidery and gone to his own room so angrily; and while
Frances was sobbing passionately he had thrown it on the fire, and paced
up and down with hasty impatience.

Yet what right had he to be angry? He was not in love with her; no; he
admired her, thought her different to most girls he had ever seen,
inasmuch as she was no flirt; was agreeable, and did not give herself
airs. It was her supposed flirtation with another that annoyed him. Had
not his brother's wife given him black looks, smiling yet sharp hints
about going into the school-room. What right had Vavasour to become
acquainted with the governess? What right had he to walk and talk with
her? perhaps visit her, where he had been forbidden to set foot, nay

Yet while he blamed and accused her, those soft, melancholy eyes pursued
him, until in a softened mood he drew the work from the grate where it
had lain scarcely singed, and locked it away in his desk. He could not
return it, that was impossible; but he would never look at it, he would
forget its existence, as well as Amy Neville's.

But was it so easy to forget her? As he rode slowly away from the Hall
door, down the long avenue--avoiding the short cut by the stables, which
would of necessity lead him past the school-room window,--he still
thought of her, otherwise why go down the avenue? unless he feared Miss
Neville might think he wished to see or watch her; he who had ceased to
take any interest in her movements.

What was it to him where she went or who she walked with? His horses and
dog were all he cared for in the whole world, and were worth a dozen
women, who only existed in excitement, or a whirlwind of gaiety and
pleasure. There was no such thing as a pretty, quiet girl to be met
with; a score of plain ones; but if pretty, then flirts, coquettes;
beings whose sole delight was angling for hearts, gaining and then
breaking them.

But his was not to be lost in that way. The more he thought of Amy's
supposed flirtation with Vavasour, the more bitter he grew. He was very
sorry he had not joined the party on the ice. Why make himself
miserable? It was not too late; he would ride round now, and if she were
there, show her how little he cared for her.

He turned his horse's head, and cantered down the lane, nor slackened
his speed until he came in sight of the lake, then dismounting and
throwing the reins over his arm, he walked to a spot which commanded a
view of almost the whole piece of water; but his eyes in vain sought
Miss Neville, she was not amongst the skaters.

Many of the neighbouring gentry had come over to Brampton, and the lake
presented a picturesque and lively scene. Conspicuous in the midst of
the gay assemblage, on account of her tall and commanding figure, was
Mrs. Linchmore, one hand rested on Mr. Vavasour's supporting arm, while
seemingly with the utmost care and gentleness he guided her wavering and
unsteady feet, as she glided over the slippery surface.

Frances Strickland, with a small coquettish-looking hat, white ermine
boa and muff, was describing circles, semicircles, and all the most
difficult and intricate man[oe]uvres known only to experienced skaters;
now she approached so near as to make Mrs. Linchmore cling rather closer
to the protecting arm of her companion, but just as a faint exclamation
of alarm escaped her lips, with a smile Frances would take a sudden
swerve to the right, and be almost at the other end of the lake before
Vavasour had succeeded in quieting the fears of the haughty lady at his

It was strange, but Frances seemed to excel in everything. She was
apparently as fearless a skater as horsewoman. Charles had seen her put
her horse at a leap that even he, bold as he was, glanced at twice
before following in her wake; yet she had never swerved, nay, scarcely
moved in her saddle.

Now he gazed after her until the small hat with its waving scarlet
feather was scarcely distinguishable in the distance; yet fearless as
she was, he could not allow there was anything at all masculine about
her; no, the proud bend of the head, the small pliant figure forbade
that, yet still he was not altogether satisfied; there was a something
wanting, something that did not please him; and then involuntarily, his
thoughts wandered towards Miss Neville again.

"She takes the shine out of us all, does not she?" asked Julia, who had
advanced unperceived to his side. "Is that what you were so deep in
thought about?"

"Not exactly. She does skate admirably, it is true; but I was thinking
if Lawless, a friend of mine could but see her, he would lose his heart
in no time. She is just the sort of woman he is always raving about."

"Oh, ask him down by all means, and let him go mad if it pleases him, so
long as we get rid of Frances."

"That speech savours of jealousy or rivalry. Which is it, Julia?"

"Neither the one nor the other."

"She is a girl many women would fear as a rival."

"Nonsense, Charles; she is so different to most women, so proud, and as
cold as the ice she is skating on. If I were a man, I could not fall in
love with Frances."

"Why not? She may be a little cold and proud perhaps, but that would
only entail a little more trouble in winning her, and make her love the
more valued when won."

"If she has any love to win. I doubt it; she is so utterly

"I see nothing to find fault with on the score of coldness; few girls
now-a-days--though not absolutely cold-hearted--have hearts worth the
having, or wooing and winning."

"How bitter you are against us."

"Not more so than you were yourself. Did you not call Frances a
petrifaction?" said he, laughing. "But, if Frances does not please you,
who, may I ask, comes nearer perfection in your eyes?"

"Oh! lots of women. She and Miss Neville, for instance, ought not to be
named in the same breath together."

Then, as Charles made no reply, she added, "I wonder if she skates?"

"Skates! Pshaw! she would be afraid to trust that dainty foot of hers on
the slippery ice. I hate a woman with no nerve, afraid of her own

"If being an accomplished skater is the only proof of a woman's nerve
and courage, what a set of cowards more than half our sex must be! I
very much doubt if one in a dozen of us are acquainted with the art."

"Well, if not, you are well up in a dozen and one others wherewith to
drive us poor men out of our seven senses at times."

"I know what is the matter with him now," thought Julia; "and why he is
so cross, some girl he cares for has been paying him out. I hope it is
not Frances. I cannot bear the idea of his having fallen in love with
her, although I strongly suspected he was on the high road to it last

"Uncle Charles," said a small voice, while a tiny hand was laid on his
arm, "I should so like to have a slide."

It was Fanny. Charles lifted his hat courteously but indifferently to
Miss Neville's almost friendly greeting, and watched her furtively as
she gazed over the lake.

What would she think of Vavasour's attentions to his brother's wife? Now
she would find out that he could be as devoted to other women; could
guide another's footsteps over the ice just as carefully as he had
directed and picked her way for her over the snow; but whatever Amy
thought she looked calm and unconcerned as she turned round and desired
Fanny not to go so near the horse's feet. Charles assured her the horse
was quiet enough; he had never known him indulge in the vicious
propensity of kicking.

"He might disappoint you this time," suggested Julia, "and prove
treacherous, there is no certainty about it."

"He might, but he will not," was the reply, "not that I place such
implicit reliance in him as I would in Bob; a look is enough for him."

"I would not trust either of them," said Julia, "I have seen Bob's
teeth, and heard his growl; and as for the horse, why it was as much as
you could do to mount him yesterday, when you went out with Frances. I
heard Mr. Hall say he would not insure your life for a pound."

"My thanks to Hall for his kind consideration in valuing my neck at so
cheap a rate. Just assure him the next time you see him that I have not
the very remotest idea of having it broken yet."

"He has not the very remotest idea of riding," laughed Julia; "only
imagine those long legs of his dangling like ribbons on the side of a

"Where is Hall? I do not see him among the skaters, though Anne is."

"No; he has gone over to see how they are getting on in that wretched
little parish of his, and tried hard to persuade Anne and me to go with
him, but my sister does not care for looking over churches, even if they
were built in the time of Methuselah, and preferred the skating, much to
his regret, and I must confess I was not at all sorry to do the same."

"Uncle Charles, do take me for a slide, please," pleaded Fanny, again
undeterred by timid Edith, pulling at her sleeve and begging her not to

"I would take you with the greatest pleasure in life, Fanny; but what is
to become of my horse?"

"Cousin Julia will hold him. Won't you, cousin?" asked the child, flying
to her side.

"I hold him?" exclaimed Julia. "No, thank you, Fanny, I value my life
too well; besides, child, I should be frightened."

"Miss Neville will, then, she is so fond of horses," cried Fanny,
darting off to where her governess stood.

"A fruitless errand," muttered Charles, turning on his heels, "she has
not a grain of courage. I wish she had."

But as if to shame him for this assertion, or to gratify his wish, when
he looked up, there stood the governess.

"I shall be happy to hold your horse for you, Mr. Linchmore," she said,
while Fanny clapped her hands and capered about with delight.

"You, Miss Neville!" he repeated incredulously. "Impossible!"

"And why not? he seems to stand very quietly. Is he inclined to be

"Vicious! Far from it. But I am afraid--"

"I will hold him," interrupted Amy, decidedly, and without hesitation,
"there is nothing to be afraid of."

"Charles thinks," said Julia, maliciously, "you have not the nerve for

"I see no occasion for any display of nerve," replied Amy, while, with
little show of opposition on his part, she took the reins from his
almost unwilling hand, and before he had well recovered from his
surprise, he found himself on the ice with Fanny's hand fast locked in

And where was Frances all this time? Had she forgotten her
determination--her newly-born hatred of Amy? Had she thought better of
her secret machinations? No. Time only increased her dislike; more
deeply rooted her jealousy, while molehills became mountains in her

Should she see herself supplanted by a governess, one so inferior to her
in wealth and station, one whom _he_ had known but a few hours. A few
hours? Was it possible so short a time could have overthrown the power
she fancied she had held in his heart for years. Impossible! It could
not be, and again that bitter cry arose in her heart, and she inwardly

"He shall not love her!"

But Frances drove back the bitter feelings at her heart, and met him as
he advanced on the ice with smiles and pleasant words, as though she
knew not what sorrow or unhappiness was; but Charles, although he
answered her courteously enough, was absent, and often gave random
replies, wide of the mark.

Secretly angry, she was not baffled, and suddenly declared her intention
of taking off her skates, she would then be better able to talk to
Charles than flying round about him, and putting in a word here and
there. She had had enough of the amusement for one morning, would
Charles kindly come and help her? He was too polite to refuse, although
it took him further away from the bank where Amy still held his horse.
He gave one glance as he turned away--and yet another--the latter look
betrayed him. Frances saw it, and a bitter remark rose to her lips, the
only one she was guilty of that day; but it came angrily and vehemently;
she could not help it, could not subdue it; she would have given worlds
to have afterwards unsaid it.

"Miss Neville makes a capital groom. I suppose she has been accustomed
to that sort of thing."

"I never heard Miss Neville say an unkind word of any one," was the
severe rejoinder.

"I shall hate myself for that false move," thought Frances. "I must try
and hide my feelings better," and she raised her foot to his knee, but
even while she did so, a scream from Julia made him spring to his feet.

But he was too late; his horse was plunging and rearing violently, while
Amy's weak arm seemed barely sufficient to curb and control him,
although she was trying her utmost to pacify and quiet him.

Charles took it all in at a glance.

"I shall love that girl in spite of myself," he said, as he sprang
across the frozen surface to her side.

How tenderly anxious he was, even his voice slightly trembled as he
asked the question:

"Are you hurt?"

No, she was not. But her hand dropped helplessly to her side as he drew
the reins from it.

"This is the wonderfully quiet horse," cried Julia. "I never saw such
behaviour; astonishing in one of his meek temper, but of course this is
the first time he has ever been guilty of such tricks."

"How did it happen?" asked Charles, of Amy.

"I scarcely know, it was all so sudden."

"But something must have frightened him?"

"Yes; I fancy the sound of a horse's feet galloping by excited him, and
one of the hounds rushed to his side, and then he became almost beyond
my control."

His sorrow was expressed on his face, and was more expressive than any
words could be. His regrets--but before he could speak those, Amy had
bowed, wished him good morning, and was gone.

The sorrow faded away from his face; a vexed look succeeded. Why had she
left him so hastily? Could she not have spared him a few moments wherein
to express his regret. Was she angry? No, he could not think so, her
temper appeared unruffled, and her face wore its usual soft and sweet

As Frances advanced to his side he impatiently sprang on his horse and
cantered off, but Frances thought as she stood listening to his horse's
receding steps on the hard frosty ground, that ere long the canter
sounded in her ears far more like a gallop.

Some twenty minutes later, as Amy was returning home through the lane,
her attention was drawn towards a horseman going at headlong speed
across the distant fields. The children wondered who it could be, but
Amy never wondered at all; she knew well enough.

"It is your uncle," she said.



    "Still further on she crept with trembling feet,
     With hope a friend, with fear a foe to meet;
     And there was something fearful in the sight
     And in the sound of what appear'd to-night;
     For now, of night and nervous terror bred,
     Arose a strong and superstitious dread;
     She heard strange noises, and the shapes she saw
     Of fancied beings bound her soul in awe."


But few of the party returned home in the very best of spirits, or
appeared to have enjoyed their afternoon's pleasure on the ice. Charles
scarcely raised his eyes during dinner, or addressed a word to any one.
Anne was infinitely disgusted at his inattention and dulness, having
made up her mind during Mr. Hall's absence to thoroughly enjoy herself,
being in no fear of a look from those earnest eyes of his, as she
rattled away almost heedless of what fell from her lips, or hazarded
trifling, thoughtless remarks.

Frances' face, if possible, wore a more scornful expression than usual;
she was inwardly chafing at her want of tact and judgment in giving way
to temper, and allowing Charles to see that Amy was the cause of it.
That thought vexed her proud spirit beyond measure, and although to all
appearance she was calm and self-possessed, yet inwardly her heart
trembled with angry passions, and her mind was filled with forebodings
and dim shadowings of the future and what it would reveal to her.

Was it possible she could be supplanted by another, and that other no
proud beauty like herself, but a governess! The thought was gall and
wormwood to her. It was not only her pride that was touched. No; as I
have said before, she loved her cousin with all the love of that proud,
and to all appearance, cold heart. Should he not love her in return?
Yes, he must. He should never be Amy's. Never! And she pressed her lips
together and contracted the delicately-pencilled brows at the bare
supposition. She would not believe--could not--that in so short a time
his heart was another's. It was merely a liking, not love, and it must
be her care to prevent the latter.

What right had he in the school-room? What was he doing there when she
entered so inopportunely?

Ah! she had never guessed that secret yet, or found out the theft of the
"Holy work," or her heart would have been even sorer than it was, and
her thoughts more bitter and revengeful towards Amy.

Frances had never been thwarted; all had as yet gone smoothly with her;
the bare possibility of the one great object in life--her love--being
unvalued only made her the more determined to succeed. She had no
softness, no gentleness of nature; her love was fierce and
strong--headlong in its course; like a torrent it swept along, and
carried away all and everything that impeded its course. There was no
calm, no sunshine, no breaking of the heavy clouds; all was storm--would
be until the end might be gained, and then--even then, there was a
question if the troubled, angry spirit would be quiet, or at rest, or
ever satisfied.

Charles did not re-enter the drawing room after dinner. "Gone for a
smoke or prefers the company of Bob," was Alfred's ungracious rejoinder
when his sister questioned him; so retiring to an ottoman in a far-off
corner, Frances wrapt herself up in her thoughts, or, as Anne remarked,
made herself as disagreeable as she could by refusing to join in any one
game or amusement proposed. After fruitless attempts to strike up a
flirtation with somebody, Anne walked off to bed, thinking a quiet chat
with her sister was preferable to the dulness below.

As she reached the first landing on her way up stairs, a gust of cold
wind from the sudden opening of the hall door made her pause and look
round; and presently Mr. Hall's voice reached her: very pleasant and
cheery she thought it sounded, and she could not resist the temptation
of peeping over, just to see how he looked after his cold ride.

Yes, there he was, close by the fire, full in the light of the lamp,
shaking himself like a large dog, his thick hair in a shocking tangled
mass, but this was nothing unusual.

Anne smiled. "What a figure he is!" thought she, "such a great unwieldy
creature!" and then half turned, as if to retrace her steps, but
woman-like, fearful lest he should guess why she returned, magnanimously
went on, but on reaching her own room, no Julia was there to unburden
her vexations to, or talk herself into a more congenial mood with.

"She plays me this trick every night," said she, taking off her dress
and throwing a shawl round her shoulders; then stirring up the fire into
a blaze, she sat down and reviewed in her own mind the events of the day
and the evening's dulness.

Some minutes slipped by; and then, whether she grew tired of being alone
in that large room or vexed at her sister's prolonged absence she
determined on going in quest of her.

Springing up, away she went to Miss Tremlow's room, and receiving no
reply to her repeated knocks for admission, cautiously opened the door
and went in, expecting to find her sister.

Miss Tremlow was disrobed for the night, and had tied a large yellow
handkerchief round her head, the only symptom of a cap being the huge
border overshadowing her small thin face like a pall; while one or two
curl-papers--Miss Tremlow wore her hair in ringlets--made themselves
guiltily perceptible here and there. Anne burst out laughing.

"My goodness, Miss Tremlow! how extraordinary you look," exclaimed she.
"Do you always dress yourself out in this style when you have a cold?"

"A cold, Miss Anne? I have no cold."

"Then why on earth have you decked yourself out with that handkerchief.
Oh! I know, you are afraid of thieves, and think the sight will frighten
them. Well, you are not far wrong there."

"No such thing; I am subject to rheumatism, so take every precaution
against it," replied Miss Tremlow stiffly, not exactly knowing whether
to feel offended or not.

"Of course, quite right," replied Anne, not daring to raise her eyes
until Miss Tremlow turned her back, and then the corner of the bright
handkerchief stood out so oddly over the high-crowned cap, while a
border almost as wide and stiffly starched as the front one drooped from
under it, that the incentive to mirth was irresistible, and Anne laughed

"I cannot help it, indeed I cannot," said she, as the lady's now angry
face met her gaze. "It is of no use looking so vexed, you should not
make such a figure of yourself."

"You had better go to bed, Miss Anne," said Miss Tremlow sharply,
opening the door.

And very submissively Anne went out of the room, but instead of going to
bed, bent her steps towards the school-room, and there found the object
of her search; her sister with Miss Neville.

"Such a scrape as you have led me into, Mag," began she, still laughing,
and drawing a chair near the two round the fire. "Of course I thought
you were in that queer sick creature's room. What a fright she has made
of herself with her head tied up in that yellow handkerchief, enough to
make any one laugh."

"I hope, Anne, you did not," replied her sister.

"Then hope no such thing, for I laughed outright, and so would Miss
Neville, I am sure. I defy even that sober Mr. Hall to have stood it,"
and again Anne laughed at the bare recollection. "It's all your fault,
Mag, had you gone quietly to bed as you ought, I should never like the
Caliph have roamed abroad in search of adventure."

"Why did you come up to bed so soon?" asked Julia.

"So soon! I am sure I never spent so dull an evening; I suppose people's
hearts were frozen as well as their toes with coming in contact with the
ice. As to Frances, she behaved abominably, and turned the cold-shoulder
to everybody. If it is to be like this every evening, I would far rather
have the 'short commons' of home than the dainty fare here."

"For shame, Anne! What will Miss Neville think?"

"Think that I am in a bad temper, that's all. Isabella might have tried
to amuse us a little; but no, she only thought of self, sitting so
cosily flirting with Mr. Vavasour. How I do dislike that man! I am sure
he is no good, and no one seems to know who he is. I do wish that
handsome Captain Styles were here. Do you remember last year, what fun
we used to have? We never had a dull evening then," and Anne sighed, and
looked so comically sad that Julia and Amy both laughed.

"It is just as well he is not here," replied the former. "And as for
Mr. Vavasour, everyone knows how intimate old Mr. Vavasour and Mr.
Linchmore's father were."

"Yes; but that gives no clue as to who young Mr. Vavasour is."

Who Vavasour's parents were had never transpired. All he himself knew
was, that he had been left an orphan at an early age, and entrusted to
Mr. Vavasour. The utmost care had been bestowed on his education; no
pains, no money had been spared.

Mr. Vavasour was an eccentric, passionate old bachelor, fond and proud
of his adopted son, or, as some supposed, his own son; but this latter
was mere idle surmise. He was certainly treated and regarded by the
servants and even friends as such; and yet they had not a shadow of
proof that he was so.

It must not be imagined that Robert rested calmly, or made no attempts
to obtain a clue to his history, and clear up the doubt under which his
proud, impatient spirit chafed. He did. He battled and waged war at
times against the other's will, when the weight became more intolerable
than he could bear; but only to meet with stern rebuffs, and a will as
determined as his own. In that one particular, the two resembled each
other; not otherwise. In outward form they were unlike.

It was after one of these battles, in which as usual Robert was
vanquished, that wounded to the quick by the other's violence, and
seeing the hopelessness of ever moving that iron will, Robert left the
only home he had ever known, and went abroad.

After that nothing went right. The old man fretted, grew more and more
exacting to those about him, and gave way more frequently to violent
fits of rage. There was no Robert to act as mediator, or control and
subdue him; and few were surprised to hear of his almost sudden death.
He bequeathed not only his forgiveness but his wealth to Robert, who
only returned in time to follow him to the grave.

He sought amongst the old man's papers for some document to throw a
light on his birth. There was none. The only letter--if such it could be
called--bearing at all on the subject was addressed to his lawyer, and
ran thus--

"This is to certify that Robert Vavasour is not my son, as some fools as
well as wise men suppose. The secret of his birth was never made known
to me. He was entrusted to my care as a helpless orphan, under a solemn
promise that I would never reveal by whom. That promise I have
faithfully kept, and will, with God's help, keep to the end; believing
it can answer no good purpose to reveal it, but only entail much
unhappiness and sorrow."

He was not the old man's son then. There was comfort in that, small as
it was: perhaps after all there was no shame attached to him. It was too
late to remedy now his disbelief of Mr. Vavasour's word, and the angry
manner in which they had parted, but it pained and grieved him deeply;
until now that he was dead, Robert had never thought how much he had
loved the only friend he had ever known.

Perhaps the person who had entrusted him to old Mr. Vavasour was still
alive, perhaps even now watched over him. He thought it could not be his
mother; she would not have left him so long without some token of her
love. He would still hope that some day his birth might be no secret,
but as clear as day: yet it weighed on his mind, and made him appear
older than he was, and more reserved; and his manner at times was cold
and distant, with no fancy for the light talk and every-day trifles
passing around him.

No wonder Anne disliked him. Here was a something which checked her
thoughtlessness far more decidedly than poor Mr. Hall's sober face. The
one she had no fear of, while the other's sometimes sarcastic look
annoyed and vexed her, and made her anxious to escape into a far corner
away from him, whenever she saw that peculiar curl of the lip betokening
so utter a contempt for what she was saying. No wonder she tried to
prejudice Amy against him; her pride having been wounded ever since the
day she thought he had neglected her so shamefully, and walked out with
Miss Neville, leaving her to fare as best she could with Mr. Hall.

Seeing Julia determined on taking his part, she turned to Amy.

"You do not like him, do you, Miss Neville? I am sure Charles is worth
twenty such men as Mr. Vavasour."

"I know so little of either."

"Oh, nonsense! It is a very safe reply, no doubt, but it will not do. My
cousin was here half the summer."

"Only a fortnight the first time he came; and the second visit he made,
I was at Ashleigh, at home."

"Quite long enough for you to find out what a good-for-nothing,
kind-hearted creature he is. Besides, for the fortnight you had the
field all to yourself, and after that advantage ought not to allow
another to bowl you out."

"How you do talk, Anne; I am sure Miss Neville does not understand one
half you are saying, you go on at such a rate."

"Of course I do; what is the use of sitting like this?" and she clasped
her two hands together on her lap and twirled her thumbs. "Do tell me
what you two say to one another when I am not here, for if Mag comes
every night, and I suppose she does not go to that sick-body's room,
seeing she dresses herself up in a style enough to frighten half a dozen
children, with the belief she is the veritable 'Bogy,' you surely do not
sit like two Quakeresses, without a word, waiting for the spirit to move
you. Positively, Miss Neville, I look upon Mag's coming here as an
invasion of my rights, since I am left shivering in bed, and frightened
to death for fear of ghosts. They do say the house is haunted; and once
I nearly fainted when a coal dropped out of the fire into the fender. I
really thought the ghost had come, and durst not emerge from under the
bedcloths until I was pretty nearly smothered."

"You surely are not afraid of ghosts, Miss Bennet?"

"Oh, but I am, though, ghosts, hobgoblins, thieves, and every other
existing and non-existing horror; and if we are to talk of such things,
I vote for the door being locked. Do stir the fire, and turn up the
lamp. There, it does look rather less gloomy now. But how cold it is!"

"Cold?" said Julia, "I am as warm as a toast."

"No doubt of it Mag, so cosily as you are wrapped up in 'joint-stock
property.' I wonder you are not ashamed to let me see you looking so
comfortable, even your feet tucked up too. Would you believe it, Miss
Neville, 'joint-stock property' is that dressing-gown, and belongs to
both of us, hence its name, but Mag coolly walks off with it in this
most shameful way every night."

"Perhaps she thinks you do not want it."

"I suppose she does; but having, as I say a share in it, I think I might
be allowed to wear it sometimes."

"By all means, Anne. Why not?" said her sister.

"Why not? You shall hear, Miss Neville, and judge whether I complain
without reason. You must know Mag and I have an allowance, and we found
out we could not get on without a dressing-gown; so, as we are neither
of us doomed to gruel and hot water at the same time, we agreed to club
together and have a joint property one, since which the number of colds
Miss Julia has had is quite unaccountable and shocking. I declare to
goodness the gown--look when I will--is never on the peg, but for ever
round her shoulders; however, it certainly will be my turn next, for I
never felt so frozen in all my life. There!" said she, sneezing, or
pretending to do so, "what do you think of that signal? does it not
portend stormy weather ahead? And now cease laughing, and let us go to
bed, for I am awfully sleepy, and tired into the bargain; quite done

"And no wonder," said Julia. "Did you ever hear anyone talk as she
does? She never knows when to stop."

Amy thought she never had; but it was amusing and pleasant talk; there
could be no dismals where Anne was. It was light talk, but still it was
pleasant, and made everyone in a good mood, or at least cheerful.

"I shall see you early to-morrow, Miss Neville," said Julia. "I have so
much to say to you."

"If you do not come to bed, Mag," said Anne, from the half-opened door,
"I declare I will talk in my sleep to vex you."

Amy went with them as far as the baize door which separated this wing of
the house from the other rooms, and then bid good-night to her visitors.

As the light from the candle Anne carried vanished, she was surprised at
seeing a dim light glimmering through the key-hole of an unoccupied room
opposite. It was but momentary, yet while it lasted it threw a long,
thin, bright streak of light across the corridor, full against the wall
close beside where she stood.

In some surprise, she retraced her steps, and drew aside the window
curtain of her room and tried to look out. But there was no moon; it was
one of those dark, pitchy nights, with not a star visible, betokening
either rain or another fall of snow.

Full of conjecture as to whether her eyes had deceived her or not, and
feeling too timid to venture out again, Amy went to bed, and tried to
imagine all manner of solutions as to the cause of the light, all of
which she in turn rejected as utterly improbable. She had satisfied
herself it was not the moon's rays; then what could it be?

She recalled to memory the day Nurse Hopkins showed her over the house.
The picture gallery, with its secret stairs leading into some quaint old
unused rooms, with their old worn-out hangings and antique furniture;
ghostly-looking, and certainly dismal and solitary, in being so far
removed from that part of the house now teeming with life and gaiety;
yet Nurse apparently had no fear, but walked boldly on, and appeared in
no hurry to emerge into the life beyond, as she talked of the former
greatness of the Hall. To Amy, however, the feeling of utter loneliness,
the dull, dead sound of the opening and shutting of doors, as they
passed through, sent a chill to her heart. Even the jingling of the
ponderous bunch of keys Nurse carried jarred against her nerves, so that
perhaps her own shadow might have startled and alarmed her.

But although Nurse, in a loud tone of voice, seemed never tired of
recounting the by-gone grandeur, which had been handed down to her from
the sayings of former housekeepers, yet her voice had sunk into a
whisper, as in passing by that door, she stopped and said, "No one ever
goes in there. It was old Mrs. Linchmore's room," as if the simple fact
of its having been old Mrs. Linchmore's room forbade further enquiry,
and was in itself sufficient to check all idle curiosity.

Amy passed by the door whenever she went into the long corridor. The
room stood at one end, facing the entire length of the passage; but the
door was at the side adjoining the door of another room, and opposite
the baize door, so that Amy's dress almost brushed its panels in passing
by, and never could she recollect having once seen the door standing
open, or the signs of a housemaid's work near it.

Perhaps the room was held sacred by Mr. Linchmore as having been his
mother's; perhaps he it was who was there now, although it did seem
strange his going at such an hour, being past twelve o'clock by Anne's
watch when they parted. Still, it might be his peculiar fancy to go,
when secure from interruption and the remarks of others.

All people had strange fancies; perhaps this was his. And partly
comforted and assured with the conclusion she had arrived at, and partly
wearied with the effort, Amy fell asleep.



    "And the hours of darkness and the days of gloom,
     That shadow and shut out joys are come;
     And there's a mist on the laughing sea,
     And the flowers and leaves are nought to me;
     And on my brow are furrows left,
     And my lip of ease and smile is reft;
     And the time of gray hairs and trembling limbs,
     And the time when sorrow the bright eye dims,
     And the time when death seems nought to fear,
     So sad is life,--is here, is here!"

                                     MARY ANNE BROWN.

Amy passed a restless night, and awoke oppressed in spirit. It was yet
early, but she arose and dressed hastily, determined on seeking the
fresh air, hoping that, that, would in a measure restore her drooping

It was a bright, clear morning, and Amy felt some of its brightness
creep over her as she picked her way across the hard, uneven ground
towards the wood. Here the trees glistened with the frost, and birds
chirped among the bare boughs, or hopped fearlessly about the path. She
walked on heedlessly, striking deeper into the wood, and approached,
almost before she was aware of it, Goody Grey's cottage. How bleak and
desolate it looked now the branches of the tall trees stripped of their
green foliage waved over it; while the dim, uncertain shadows streamed
through them palely, and the wind whistled and moaned mournfully as it
rushed past the spot where Amy stood deliberating whether she should
continue her walk or not. A moment decided her on knocking lightly at
the door, but receiving no reply, she lifted the latch and entered.

Goody Grey was seated in the high-backed arm chair, but no song issued
from her lips; they were compressed together with some strong inward
emotion, and she either did not see, or took no notice of Amy's
entrance. The ivory box stood open on the table beside her, while in
her hand she held some glittering object, seemingly a child's coral. On
this Goody Grey's eyes were fixed with an expression of intense emotion.
She clasped it in her hands, pressing it to her lips and bosom, while
groans and sobs shook her frame, choking the words that now and then
rose to her lips, and she seemed to Amy's pitying eyes to be suffering
uncontrollable agony. How lovingly sometimes, in the midst of her
anguish, she gazed at the toy! How she fondled and caressed it; rocking
her body backwards and forwards in the extremity of her emotion. Amy
stood quietly in the doorway, not venturing to speak, although she
longed to utter the compassionate words that filled her heart. At
length, feeling that under the present circumstances her visit would
only be considered an intrusion, and could scarcely be a time to offer
or attempt consolation, she turned to go. As she did so, the skirt of
her dress became entangled in a chair close by, and overturned it. The
noise roused Goody Grey; she hastily thrust the trinket into her bosom,
and started up.

"Who are you?" she exclaimed fiercely. "What do you here? How dare you

"I did not mean to disturb you," replied Amy, somewhat alarmed at her
voice and manner.

Goody Grey paid no heed to her words, but walked up and down the small
room with hasty steps, her excitement increasing every moment, while her
features became convulsed with passion; some of her hair escaped from
under her cap, and floated in long, loose locks down her shoulders,
while her eyes looked so bright and piercing that Amy shrank within
herself as the old woman approached her, and exclaimed passionately--

"Do you think it possible a woman could die with a lie on her lips, and
revenge at her heart? with no repentance!--no remorse!--no pity for one
breaking heart!--no thought of an hereafter!--no hope of heaven! Do you
think it possible a woman could die so?"

"No. It is not possible," replied Amy; striving to speak calmly, "no
woman could die so."

"True,--true; she was no woman, but a fiend! a very devil in her hate
and revenge!"

"Ah, speak not so," replied Amy, as the first startling effect of her
words and wild looks had passed away. "Say not such dreadful words. If
any woman could have lived and died as you say, she deserves your pity,
not your condemnation."

"Pity! she'll have none from me. I hated her! she wrecked my happiness
when I was a young girl, and for what? but to gratify her insane
jealousy. Do you see this?" said she, taking off her cap, and shaking
down the thick masses of almost snow-white hair; "it was once golden,
and as fair as yours, but a few short months of--of agony changed it to
what you see, and drove me mad; _she_ worked the wreck; _she_ caused
the--the madness, and gloried in it. And yet you wonder that I condemn

Her hair was the silvered hair of an old woman, and as it fell from its
concealment down her shoulders almost to her feet, throwing a pale,
softened, mournful shadow over her excited features, Amy was struck with
the beauty of her face; she must once have been very beautiful; while
her face, lighted up as it now was, was not the face of an aged woman.
No; it must have been, as she herself said, a sudden, severe sorrow
years ago that had helped to change that once luxuriant golden hair to
grey. Her figure, as she stood confronting Amy, was slight, and by no
means ungraceful; that also bore no trace of age, and although she
generally walked with the aid of a thick staff, it was more to steady
the weakness of her steps than to support the tottering, uncertain ones
of old age.

Who? and what had caused such a wreck? It must have been some terrible
blow to have sent her mad in her youth, and to have left her even now,
at times--whenever the dark remembrance of it swept over her--hardly
sane in more mature age. Would the divulging of the secret remove the
sad weight from her heart, or quiet the agony of her thoughts? It might
in a measure do so, but Amy shrank from sustaining alone the frenzy that
might ensue, and as Goody Grey repeated her last question of "Do you
wonder that I condemn her?" Amy, with the view of soothing her, replied

"She may have lived hardened in sin, but through the dark shadows
remorse must have swept at times, and stung her deeply. Besides, her
life and death were most wretched, and deserve your pity more than

"Had she known remorse, she never could have died so revengefully. I
don't believe she ever felt its sting, and as for pity, she would have
scorned it!" and Goody Grey laughed a wild, bitter laugh at the thought.

"Did she injure you so very deeply?"

"How dare you ask me that question? Are not you afraid to? Don't you
know it stirs up all my worst passions within me, and sends me mad,
--mad do I say? No, no, I am not mad now; I was once, but that, like
the rest, is past--past for ever!" and her voice changed suddenly from
its fierceness to an almost mournful sadness.

"Did you know her well?" Amy ventured to ask, notwithstanding the rebuff
her last question had met with.

"Aye, did I; too well--too well! Would to God I had never seen her, it
would have been better had I died first: but I live, if such a life as
mine can be called living. And _she_ is dead and I haven't forgiven her;
never will; unless," said she, correcting herself, "unless--oh God! I
dare not think of _that_; does it not bring sorrow--deep, intense,
despairing sorrow, sorrow that scorches my brain?" and either exhausted
with her fierce excitement, or overwhelmed with the recollection of the
cause of her grief, she sank down in a chair, and covering her face with
her hands, moaned and rocked herself about afresh.

For the moment Amy felt half inclined to leave her--her strange words
and wild manner had so unnerved her--but a glance at the
sorrow-stricken face, as it was suddenly lifted away from the hands that
had screened it, decided her upon remaining for at least a few minutes
longer. Perhaps the compassionate feeling at her heart had something to
do with the decision, or it might be she hoped to say a few words of
comfort to the sorrowing creature so relentless in her bitter feelings
towards one who had evidently been remorseless in her revenge, and
unforgiving even in her death; one who had injured her, if not
irreparably, at least deeply and lastingly.

As Amy stood deliberating how best to shape her words so as not to
irritate her afresh, Goody Grey spoke, and her voice was no longer
fierce or passionate, but mournfully sad.

"I am lonely," she said, "very lonely. There are days when the thoughts
of my heart drive me wild, and are more than I can bear; there are days
when I feel as if death would be welcome, were it not for one hope, one
craving wish. Will this hope, this wish, ever be realised? Shall I ever
be any other than a broken-hearted, despairing woman?"

"The clouds may clear--sunshine may burst forth when least expected."

"May! That's what I repeat to myself day and night--day and night. The
two words, '_Hope on_,' are ever beating to and fro in my brain, like
the tickings of that clock, and sometimes I persuade myself that the
time-piece says, '_Hope on, hope on_.' But only the years roll on--the
hope is never realised; and soon my heart will whisper, and the clock
will tick, '_no hope, no hope_.'"

"Do you never earnestly pray that God will lighten the heavy load that
weighs on your spirits or that He will bring comfort to your sorrowing

"Do I ever cease to pray; or is there not one fervent prayer always on
my lips and heart? Day after day I bewail my sins, and ask God's
forgiveness and mercy for my poor, broken, contrite heart, and sometimes
I rise from my knees, feeling at peace with--with even _her_. But then
wild thoughts come back; thoughts that utterly distract me, and which I
can neither control nor prevent, and then I go mad, and don't know what
I say or think. But enough of my sufferings. You can neither heal nor
cure them; even now you have seen too much, and betrayed me into saying
more than I ought. Tell me what led you to my cottage so early?"

"I could not sleep last night," replied Amy, "and so strolled out,
thinking the air would revive me."

"It is strange you could not sleep," replied Goody Grey, speaking as she
usually did to strangers, in a half solemn, impressive manner. "You who
have health, youth, and innocence to help you. I seldom sleep, but then
I am old and careworn. Why could you not sleep?" and she looked as
though she would pierce the inmost recesses of Amy's heart.

"I can scarcely tell you why, perhaps my fancy misled me; but whatever
the cause, I would rather not speak of it."

"Well perhaps it were best so, and better still if the parent bird
looked after her young, when the kite may find its way to her nest."

Amy looked up quickly.

"I scarcely understand your words," she replied, "or I am at a loss to
understand their meaning."

"I meant you no harm, 'twas for your good I spoke. Others have thought
like you and been deceived. Others have hoped like you, and been
deceived. Others have been as loving and true as you _may be_, and been
deceived. When you think yourself the safest, then remember my words,
'when you think that you stand, take heed lest you fall.'"

There was a tone of kindness lurking beneath her words, so that Amy
regretted she had spoken so hastily, and felt half inclined to tell her
so, when Goody Grey again spoke.

"Who is that tall, dark, fine-looking man; a Linchmore in his walk, and
perhaps his manner and proud bearing, but there the resemblance ceases;
the expression of the face is different, the eye has no cunning in it,
but looks at you steadily, without fear? He is brave and noble-looking.
Who is he?"

"I think you must mean Mr. Vavasour," replied Amy.

"Vavasour," repeated Goody Grey, thoughtfully, "the name is strange to
me, yet--stay--a dim recollection floats across my brain that I have
heard the name before; but my memory fails me sadly at times, and my
thoughts grow confused as I strive to catch the thread of some
long-forgotten, long-buried vision of the past. Well, perhaps it is best
so. Life is but a span, and I am weary of it--very weary."

"We are all at times desponding," said Amy; "even I feel so sometimes at
the Hall, and there you know the house is filled with visitors, and is
one continued round of gaiety."

"Yes," said Goody Grey, as if speaking to herself. "Amidst the gayest
scenes the heart is often the saddest. But," continued she, addressing
Amy, "your sweet face looks as though no harsh wind had ever blown
across it; may it be long before a cold word or look mars its sunshine.
But there is a young girl at the Hall; one amongst the many visiting
there who has a proud look that will work her no good. I have warned
her, for I can trace her destiny clearly. But she has a spirit; a
revengeful spirit, that will never bend till it breaks. She scorned my
warning and thought me mad; yet evil will overtake her, and that, too,
when least she expects it. Have nothing to do with her. Avoid her. Trust
her not. And now go you away, and let the events of this morning be
buried in your heart. I would not that all should know Goody Grey, as
you know her; think of the old woman with pity; not with doubt and

"I will. I do think of you with pity," replied Amy. "How can I do
otherwise when I have seen the anguish of your heart."

"Hush! recall not thoughts that have passed almost as quickly as they
came. And now farewell, I am tired and would be alone."

As Amy came in sight of the Hall on her way home, she met Mr. Vavasour.

"Where have you been to so early?" said he; "I have watched you more
than an hour ago cross the park and make for the wood, but there I lost
sight of you, and have been wandering about ever since in the vain hope
of finding you. Where have you been?"

But Amy was in no mood for being questioned. She felt almost vexed at
it, and answered crossly--

"I should have thought Mr. Vavasour might have found something better to
do than to dog my footsteps. I had no idea my conduct was viewed with

"You are mistaken, Miss Neville, if you think I view any conduct of
yours with suspicion; such an unworthy thought never entered my head. If
I have unwittingly offended, allow me to apologise for that and my
unpardonable curiosity which has led me into this scrape."

"Where no offence is meant, no apology is required," said Amy, coldly.
"It would have been better had Mr. Vavasour remained at home instead of
venturing abroad to play the spy!"

"You compare me Miss Neville, to one of the most despicable of mankind,
when I am far from deserving of the epithet."

"We judge men by their actions not by their words. I have yet to learn
that Mr. Vavasour did not enact the spy, when both his actions and his
words condemn him."

"Be it so," replied Robert Vavasour, almost as coldly as she had spoken.
"But I would fain Miss Neville had conceived a different opinion of me."

Amy made no reply, and in silence they reached the house; his manner
being kind, almost tender, as he bid her farewell.



    "Know you not there is a power
      Strong as death, which from above
    Once was given--a fadeless dower,
      Blessed with the name of love!
    On it hangs how many a tale!
      Tales of human joys and woes;
    Fan it with an adverse gale,
      Then it strong and stronger grows.

                             J. B. KERRIDGE.

"Such a fuss about a piece of embroidery!" exclaimed Mason, entering the
servants' hall; "one would think Miss Neville had lost half a fortune
instead of a trumpery piece of needle-work. I'm sure she's welcome to
any of mine," and she tossed over the contents of her work-box with a
contemptuous nod of the head. "I don't suppose it was very much better
than this--or this!" and she drew forth an elaborate strip of work;
either a careless gift from her mistress, or one of her righteous
cribbings, such as servants in places like hers think it no robbery to
appropriate to themselves.

"Law! Mrs. Mason, however did you work it?" asked Mary, in her

"It's one of Madam's cast-offs, I expect," said Mrs. Hopkins, with some
asperity of manner.

"It don't much signify where I got it, or who it belonged to; it's mine
now, and as good, I know, as the piece Miss Neville's turning the house
upside down for. Governesses always make places disagreeable; they're
sure to lose something or another, and then wonder who's taken it, and
then make us out a pack of thieves. I've made up my mind never to take a
situation again where there's a governess."

"Does Miss Neville accuse anybody of having taken it?" asked Mrs.
Hopkins, more sternly than before, and certainly more sharply.

"Well; no, Mrs. Hopkins, she doesn't exactly do that, she wouldn't dare
to; but a hint's as good as a plain-spoken word sometimes. I know I
could scarcely stand quiet in Madam's room just now. I did say I was
surprised she hadn't lost something more valuable, and should have
spoken my mind more plainly than that, but you know Madam's temper as
well as I do, Mrs. Hopkins; it isn't for me to tell you; and I can't
always say what I wish. She had been put out, too, about that new violet
silk dress; it's been cut a trifle too short waisted--a nasty fault--and
doesn't fit as it ought, so it couldn't have happened at a more awkward
time. Besides, I believe Madam thinks Miss Neville an angel, so quiet
and '_mum_;' for my part I dislike people that can't say 'bo' to a
goose; and I don't think Miss Neville would jump if a thunderbolt fell
at her feet."

This remark set Mary, and Jane, Frances Strickland's maid, laughing;
but not a muscle of Mrs. Hopkin's face moved as she asked--

"How did you happen to hear of the loss of the piece of work?"

"Oh! Miss Fanny came in open-mouthed to tell her Mamma of it, and said
'wasn't it strange that though they had hunted high and low for it, they
could not find it.' Miss Edith accused Carlo;--you know what a
rampacious dog he is;--but then they would have found some of the
shreds, but not a vestige of it could they see, rummage as they would.
There's the school-room bell, Mary, that's for you to hear all about it,
and be put on your trial, and be frightened to death." She added as Mary
left the room, "She's no more spirit in her than the cat," and she
glanced contemptuously at the sleepy tortoise-shell curled up before the

"Mary's plenty of spirit when she's put to it," replied Mrs. Hopkins,
"she's not like some people, ready to let fly at every word that's

"And quite right too, I say; when words are spoke that make one's heart
leap up to one's throat; but there, servants ain't supposed to have
hearts or tongues neither for the matter of that now-a-days; why if a
man only looks at us, we're everything that's bad, when I'm sure I'd
scorn to have the lots of 'followers' some young ladies have."

"Mrs. Mason," said Mrs. Hopkins, rising with dignity, "this talk does
not become you to speak, nor me to listen to; leastways I won't allow it
in this room," and she rose and drew up her portly figure in some pride,
and no little expression of anger on her face, while she shook out the
stiff folds of her black silk dress. "If the place doesn't suit you; you
can leave and get a better if you can; but not one word shall you say in
my hearing against any of Madam's friends."

"Good gracious, Mrs. Hopkins, you're enough to frighten anyone. I wasn't
aware I'd said anything against anybody, and I'm sure and certain if I
did, I didn't mean it. I have no fault to find with my place, I'm well
enough satisfied with it, but I'm not partial to Miss Neville," yet at
the same time Mason gathered up her work, and thrust it hastily into
the box which she closed noisily, as if the spirit was ready to fly out,
if she only dare let it.

But Mason knew well enough that Mrs. Hopkins was not to be trifled with,
she could say a great deal, but beyond a certain point she dare not go;
for as soon as the other chose she could silence her. All her airs and
assumed grandeur were as nothing, and were regarded with cool disdain
and contempt, but reign paramount the housekeeper would--and did; her
quiet decided way at once checked and subdued the lady's maid, and all
her pertness and boasting fell to the ground, but the sweep of her full
ample skirts expanded with crinoline annoyed and vexed Mrs. Hopkins much
more than her words; the one she could and did check; the other she had
no power over, since Mrs. Linchmore tolerated them, and found no fault.

Mason partly guessed it was so, for she invariably swept over something
that stood in her way when Mrs. Hopkins was present, either some coals
from the coal box, or the fender-irons, the latter were the more often
knocked down as Nurse so particularly disliked the noise. Mason had even
ventured upon the tall basket of odds and ends from which Mrs. Hopkins
always found something to work at, and which stood close by her side as
she sat sewing. It would have stood small chance now of escape could
Mason have found an excuse for going near it.

"Well Mary, has the work been found?" asked Mrs. Hopkins, as the girl
came back.

"No Ma'am, it hasn't; Miss Neville says she supposes she must have
mislaid it somewhere," while Mason curled her lip as much as to say, "I
could have told you that."

"Well, you had better go and look over your young ladies' wardrobes;
there's no telling sometimes where things get put to, at all events it's
as well to search everywhere."

And Mary went, but of course with small chance of finding what she
sought for, as it still lay snugly enough under the shelf in Charles'
desk, while he appeared totally unmindful of it or indifferent as to
its existence; but then the last two days he had been indifferent to
almost every thing. He could not account for Miss Neville's coldness and
stiffness; surely he had done nothing to offend her, yet why had she
treated him so discourteously at the lake, and turned away with scarcely
a word?

He had seen her walking with Vavasour; surely if she had done that,
there could be no great harm in her remaining to say three words to him.
He had also seen Mr. Hall one morning hasten after her with a glove she
had dropped accidentally, and she had turned and thanked him civilly
enough, even walked a few paces with him; then why was he to be the only
one snubbed?

It irritated and annoyed him. He thought of the hundred-and-one girls
that he knew all ready to be talked to and admired. There was even his
proud cousin Frances unbent to him; yet he was only conscious of a
feeling of weariness and unconcern at her condescension.

Amy's manner puzzled him, and at times he determined on meeting her
coldly; at others that he would make her come round. What had he done to
deserve such treatment? he could not accuse himself in one single
instance. But then Charles knew nothing of his sister-in-law's
interference. That one visit of hers to the school-room had determined
Amy on the line of conduct she ought to adopt. There was no help for it,
she must be cold to him; must show she did not want, would not have his
attentions, they only troubled her and brought annoyance with them. She
was every bit as proud as Charles. What if he thought as Mrs. Linchmore
did? She would show him how little she valued his apparent kindness, or
wished for his attentions.

Ah! Amy was little versed in men's hearts, or she would have known that
her very coldness and indifference only urged the young man on; and made
the gain of one loving smile from her, worth all the world beside.

Charles was sauntering quietly home through the grounds from the next
day's skating on the lake, when the children's voices sounded in the
distance; he unconsciously quickened his steps, and soon reached the
spot where they were playing.

"Another holiday!" he exclaimed, as he saw at a glance that Miss Neville
was not there.

"Oh! yes, Uncle, isn't it nice. We have enjoyed ourselves so much."

"I wish I had known it," he replied, "for I would just as soon have had
a game of romps with you, as gone skating. You must let me know when you
have a holiday again."

"That won't be for a long time," said Edith, "Fanny's birthday comes
next, and it isn't for another six months."

"Whose birthday is it to-day then?"

"No one's. We have been having a regular turn-out of the school-room,
all the books taken down and the cupboards emptied, because Miss Neville
has lost her work."

"Lost her work, has she?" said Charles, not daring to look the two
girls in the face, as he took a long pull at his cigar, and watched the
smoke as it curled upwards.

"Yes, Uncle, lost her work; such a beautiful piece she was doing; we
can't find it anywhere, and Miss Neville is so vexed about it."

Vexed, was she? He wished he had taken the thimble and scissors as well.
He felt a strange satisfaction in learning something had roused her, and
that she was not quite so invulnerable as he thought.

"Was she very angry?" he asked.

"Miss Neville is never very angry," replied Edith, "but she looked very
much vexed about it. I think she thought some one had been playing her a
trick, as she would not allow Fanny to say it had been stolen."

"I dare say she will find it again. It will turn up somewhere or other;
you must have another search," and away he walked, knowing full well
that unless he brought it to light it never would be found, and that
all search would be fruitless.

Soon after, as the children walked towards the house, they met Robert

"Well young lady, and where are you going to?" asked he of Fanny, who,
having Carlo attached to a chain, was some way behind her sister and

"We are going home, Sir," said Fanny, with some difficulty making the
dog keep up, by occasionally scolding him, which he seemed not to mind
one bit, but only walked the slower, and tugged the more obstinately at
his chain.

"I have a little favour to ask of you," said he, "will you grant it?"

"What is it, Sir?" asked Fanny.

"Will you wait here a few minutes until my return?"

"Yes. But oh! please don't be long."

"Not three minutes," said he, as he disappeared.

"Fanny! Fanny! are you coming?" called Edith, returning; "we are late,
it is nearly four o'clock."

"I cannot come," said Fanny, "I have promised to wait for him," with
which unsatisfactory reply, Edith went on and left her.

And Fanny did wait, some--instead of three--ten minutes, until her
little feet ached, and her hands were blue with the cold, and her
patience, as well as Carlo's, was well-nigh exhausted, he evincing his
annoyance by sundry sharp barks and jumping up with his fore paws on her
dress. At last, her patience quite worn out, Fanny walked round to the
front of the house, where, just as she reached the terrace, she met Mr.

"There," said he, placing a Camellia in her hand, "hold it as carefully
as you can, for it is not fresh gathered, and may fall to pieces, and
take it very gently to your governess."

"Yes Sir, I will; but oh! what a time you have been, and how she will
scold me for being so late, because it rang out four o'clock ever such
a time ago, and Edith and Alice are long gone in."

"Then do not stand talking, Fanny, but make haste in, and be careful of
the flower."

"But you must please take Carlo round to the left wing door for me, as
Mamma does not like his coming in this way. You see his paws are quite

"I suppose I must, but it's an intolerable nuisance."

But the dog had not the slightest idea of losing his young mistress, and
being dragged off in that ignominious way, but resisted the chain with
all his might.

"Suppose we undo his chain, and let him loose," suggested Robert. "I
dare say Mamma will excuse his intrusion for this once."

Away went Fanny, faithfully following out the instructions she had
received, and carrying the flower most carefully, when suddenly a hand
grasped her shoulder rather roughly.

"Oh! cousin Frances, how you startled me!" said Fanny.

"Where are you going to with that flower?" and she pointed to the
Camellia Fanny held so gently between her small fingers.

"It's for Miss Neville, cousin."

"For Miss Neville is it? I suspected as much. Give it to me; let me look
at it."

"No, it will fall to pieces. He said so; and that I was to be very
careful of it; so you musn't have it."

"Who gave it you? Speak, child; I will know."

But little Fanny inherited the Linchmore's spirit, and was nothing
daunted at the other's stern, overbearing manner. In fact her little
heart rose to fever heat; so tossing back her long, thick hair with one
hand, while with the other she put the flower behind her, and looking
her tall cousin steadily in the face, she replied defiantly--

"I shan't tell you."

"How dare you say that, how dare you speak to me in that rude way; I
will know who gave it to you. Tell me directly."

"No I won't, cousin."

Frances raised her hand to strike, but Fanny quailed not; she still held
the flower behind her back, away from the other, and made her small
figure as tall as she could, planting her little foot firmly so as to
resist the blow to her utmost when it did come.

But it came not. The hand fell, but not on Fanny.

With a strong effort Frances controlled herself, and determined on
trying persuasion; for she would find out where she got the flower.

Now Frances had been dressing in her room, and had accidentally seen
from her window Charles talking to the children; so when she,
unfortunately for Fanny, met her in the passage, and saw the Camellia,
she naturally enough concluded he had sent it. If not he, who had? but
she was certain it was Charles; her new-born jealousy told her so.

Still the child must confess and satisfy her, must confirm her
suspicions, and then--but though Frances shut her teeth firmly, as some
sudden thought flashed through her, yet she could not quite tell what
her vengeance was to be, or what measures she would take; she only felt,
only knew she must annihilate and crush her rival, and remove her out of
her path.

"I do not want the flower, Fanny," commenced she in a low voice, meant
to propitiate and coax.

"You would not have it, if you did!" replied Fanny, not a bit
conciliated or deceived at the change of tone and voice.

Frances could scarcely control her anger.

"You need not hold it so determinately behind you. I am not going to
take it from you."

"No! I should not let you."

"Nonsense! I could take it if I liked, but I do not want it; and I know
where you got it too, Fanny."

"No you don't, cousin. I am sure you don't."

"But I do; for I saw your uncle give it you, just now."

"If you saw him, why did you bother so? But I know you did not see him.
You are telling me a fib, cousin Frances, and it's very wicked of you!"
said Fanny, looking up reproachfully.

At this, as Frances thought, confirmation of her doubts, her rage burst

"You little abominable, good-for-nothing creature! you have the face to
accuse me of telling a falsehood; I will have you punished for it. Your
Mamma shall know how shamefully you are being brought up by that
would-be-saint, Miss Neville."

"If you say a word against my governess," retorted Fanny, "I will tell
Mamma, too; all I know you've done."

"What have I done? you little bold thing, speak!" and she grasped the
child's arm again, so sharply that Fanny's face flushed hotly with the
pain; but she bore it firmly, and never uttered a cry, or said a word in

"Say what have I done. I will know."

"You stole Miss Neville's work," replied Fanny fearlessly. "No one
thinks it's you, but I know it, and could tell if I liked."

"Tell what?"

"That you took my governess's work," repeated Fanny. "I know it was you;
because I saw her put it away in her basket before we went out, and when
we came home again it was gone, and she has never found it since."

"What are you talking about? I think you are crazed."

"No, I am not. What did you go into the school-room for that day, while
we were out? There's nothing of yours there; and why did you look so
angry at Miss Neville, when we all came upstairs, if you had not taken
away her piece of embroidery to vex and annoy her."

"Was it on that day Miss Neville lost a piece of work?"

"Yes, it was only half finished, too; and you took it, you know you

"And you say some one took it while you were out walking?"


Frances lifted away her hand from Fanny's arm, where it had been placed
so roughly, and let it fall helplessly to her side.

Gradually she drooped her eyes, and slowly moved away.

"It is too much," she said, with a deep sigh, while the child stood mute
with astonishment at the effect of her words, she being old and wise
enough to see they had not only disarmed, but wounded and hurt Frances,
and stung her to the quick.

And so they had.

Frances knew well enough _she_ had not taken the work. Was it Charles?
and was that the reason why he had looked so guilty when she
unexpectedly entered? It was not the mere fact of being caught in the
school-room. No; it was a cowardly fear lest she should have seen the
theft that had made him start, and answer at random, and appear so
confused. All was accounted for now.

Yes; he it was who had taken it, and for what? She paused and looked
back. Fanny was following at a respectful distance. She waited until she
came up.

"You know not what you have done, child," she said, sternly, with just a
slight tremble of the lips and lower part of the face. "I will never
forgive you for telling me."

She went on, and the now startled child went on too, knowing full well
that her governess must be growing anxious.

And Amy had grown anxious at her prolonged absence, and after awaiting
Mary's fruitless search for her in the shrubbery and garden, had gone
herself in quest of her, first to Julia's room, thinking she might be
there, or at the least they might be able to give her some information;
but neither of the sisters had, of course, seen anything of her, so Amy
retraced her steps, and had reached the end of the gallery, when
Charles turned the corner.

They met face to face.

He held out his hand. Amy could not refuse to take it, indeed it was all
so sudden, she never thought of refusing.

"Have you hurt your hand, Miss Neville?" he inquired, seeing she held
out the left, while the right was in some measure supported by the thumb
being thrust into the waist belt.

"Slightly," replied Amy, and would have passed on, but he was determined
this time she should not evade him.

"What is the matter with it? How did you hurt it?"

"It was wrenched," she said, hesitatingly, and a little confusedly. "I
do not think there is much the matter with it."

"Wrenched!" echoed he, in some surprise. Then, all at once, the thought
seemed to strike him as to how it was done, and he added, decidedly,
"It was yesterday, at the lake, holding my horse. Confound him!"

Amy did not deny his assertion, indeed she could not, as it was true.

"Are you much hurt?" he asked again, in a kind voice.

"I think not. It is bruised or sprained, that is all."

"All!" he repeated, reproachfully and tenderly.

But Amy would not raise her eyes, and replied, coldly, "Yes; I can
scarcely tell you which."

"But I can, if you will allow me."

And in spite of her still averted face, he drew her towards the long
window, near where they were standing, she having no power of resisting,
not knowing well how to, so she held out her hand as well as she was

He held the small, soft fingers in his, and took off from her wrist the
ribbon with which she had bound it.

It was much swollen and inflamed, and was decidedly sprained. He looked
closer still, until his breath blew over those clear blue veins, and he
could scarcely resist the temptation of pressing his lips on
them--might, perhaps, have done so--when they were both startled.

A dark shadow floated towards them, and danced in the light reflected
from the windows by the last red rays of the fast fading sun, right
across them.

It was Frances, returning, full of anger and wounded feeling, after her
meeting with Fanny.

Scornfully she stood and looked at both, while both quailed at her
glance, and the proud, angry look in her eyes.

Charles was the first to recover himself. "Miss Neville has sprained her
wrist badly, Frances. Come and see."

More scornfully still, she returned his gaze, and then saying, with
cutting sarcasm, "Pray do not let me disturb you," she swept on, as
though the ground was scarcely good enough for her to walk on, or that
her pride would at all hazards o'er master any and every thing that
came in her way.

So she passed out of their sight.

"It is too much," she repeated again, "and more than I can bear," but
this time there was no rebellious sigh, nothing but pride and
determination struggling in her heart.

She went into her own room, and locked the door, so that the loud click
of the key, as she turned it in the lock, startled again those she had
left in the gallery.

"My cousin is not blessed with a good temper," remarked Charles, "though
what she has had to vex her I know not, and do not much care;" but at
the same time, if Amy could have read his heart, she would have seen
that he was inwardly uncomfortable at her having caught him.

"I am sorry," was all Amy said, but it expressed much, as taking the
ribbon from his hand, and gently declining his proffered assistance of
again binding it round the injured wrist, she left him.

And Amy was sorry. She could not think she had done wrong in allowing
Charles Linchmore to look at the sprain, simply because she could not
well have refused him without awkwardness; besides, he took her hand as
a matter of course, and never asked her permission at all; but then
might not Miss Strickland imagine thousands of other things, put a
number of other constructions upon finding them in the embrasure of the
window together alone.

It was very evident from her manner that she had done so, and Amy shrank
within herself at the idea that perhaps she also would think she was
leading him on, and endeavouring to gain his heart, and he, too, as Mrs.
Hopkins had told her, the inheritor of the very house she lived in.

As a governess, perhaps she had done wrong, she ought not to have
allowed him to evince so much sympathy; but what if she explained to
Miss Strickland how it had all happened, there would then be an end to
her suspicions; her woman's heart and feeling would at once see how
little she had intended doing wrong, and feel for her and exonerate her
from all blame or censure.

So Amy determined on seeking an interview with Frances. It was, as far
as she could see, the right thing to do; and she went; when how Frances
received her, and how far she helped her, must be seen in another

    END OF VOL. I.

T. C. NEWBY, 30, Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square, London.




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Transcriber's Note: The oe ligature is shown as [oe]. The spelling and
punctuation are as printed in the original publication, with the
following exceptions:

    chidren is now children, beome is now become, recoun is now
    recount, Lichmore is now Litchmore, atlhough is now although,
    exercisd is now exercised, hinself is now himself, unfortuate is
    now unfortunate, remostest is now remotest, Beding is now Bedding
    and pacifiy is now pacify.

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