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Title: Dynevor Terrace; Or, The Clue of Life — Volume 1
Author: Yonge, Charlotte M. (Charlotte Mary), 1823-1901
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dynevor Terrace; Or, The Clue of Life — Volume 1" ***

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DYNEVOR TERRACE:

OR

THE CLUE OF LIFE.


BY

CHARLOTTE M. YONGE.


THE AUTHOR OF 'THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE'



CONTENTS

      I.  CHARLOTTE.
     II.  AN OLD SCHOOLMISTRESS.
    III.  LOUIS LE DEBONNAIRE.
     IV.  THISTLE-DOWN.
      V.  THE TWO MINISTERS.
     VI.  FAREWELLS.
    VII.  GOSSAMER.
   VIII.  A TRUANT DISPOSITION.
     IX.  THE FAMILY COMPACT.
      X.  THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR.
     XI.  A HALTING PROPOSAL.
    XII.  CHILDE ROLAND.
   XIII.  FROSTY, BUT KINDLY.
    XIV.  NEW INHABITANTS.
     XV.  MOTLEY THE ONLY WEAR.
    XVI.  THE FRUIT OF THE CHRISTMAS-TREE
   XVII.  THE RIVALS.
  XVIII.  REST FOR THE WEARY.
    XIX.  MOONSHINE.
     XX.  THE FANTASTIC VISCOUNT.
    XXI.  THE HERO OF THE BARRICADES.
   XXII.  BURGOMASTERS AND GREAT ONE-EYERS.



VOLUME I


 Who wisdom's sacred prize would win,
 Must with the fear of God begin;
 Immortal praise and heavenly skill
 Have they who know and do His will.
                            New Version.



CHAPTER I.

CHARLOTTE.

  Farewell rewards and fairies,
  Good housewives now may say,
  For now foul sluts in dairies
  May fare as well as they.
                     BP. CORBET.


An ancient leafless stump of a horse-chesnut stood in the middle of a
dusty field, bordered on the south side by a row of houses of some
pretension.  Against this stump, a pretty delicate fair girl of
seventeen, whose short lilac sleeves revealed slender white arms, and
her tight, plain cap tresses of flaxen hair that many a beauty might
have envied, was banging a cocoa-nut mat, chanting by way of
accompaniment in a sort of cadence--

 'I have found out a gift for my fur,
  I have found where the wood-pigeons breed;
  But let me the plunder forbear,
  She will say--'

'Hollo, I'll give you a shilling for 'em!' was the unlooked-for
conclusion, causing her to start aside with a slight scream, as there
stood beside her a stout, black-eyed, round-faced lad, his ruddy cheeks
and loutish air showing more rusticity than agreed with his keen, saucy
expression, and mechanic's dress.

'So that's what you call beating a mat,' said he, catching it from her
hands, and mimicking the tender clasp of her little fingers. 'D'ye
think it's alive, that you use it so gingerly?  Look here! Give it him
well!' as he made it resound against the tree, and emit a whirlwind of
dust.  'Lay it into him with some jolly good song fit to fetch a stroke
home with!  Why, I heard my young Lord say, when Shakspeare was a
butcher, he used to make speeches at the calves, as if they was for a
sacrifice, or ever he could lift a knife to 'em.'

'Shakspeare!  He as wrote Romeo and Juliet, and all that!  He a
butcher!  Why, he was a poet!' cried the girl, indignantly.

'If you know better than Lord Fitzjocelyn, you may!' said the boy.

'I couldn't have thought it!' sighed the maiden.

'It's the best of it!' cried the lad, eagerly.  'Why, Charlotte, don't
ye see, he rose hisself.  Anybody may rise hisself as has a mind to it!'

'Yes, I've read that in books said Charlotte.  'You can, men can, Tom,
if you would but educate yourself like Edmund! in the _Old English
Baron_.  But then, you know whose son you are.  There can't be no
catastrophe--'

'I don't want none,' said Tom.  'We are all equal by birth, so the
orator proves without a doubt, and we'll show it one of these days. A
rare lady I'll make of you yet, Charlotte Arnold.'

'O hush, Tom, I can never be a lady--and I can't stand dawdling
here--nor you neither.  'Tisn't right to want to be out of our station,
though I do wish I lived in an old castle, where the maidens worked
tapestry, and heard minstrels, never had no stairs to scour. Come, give
me my mats, and thank you kindly!'

'I'll take 'em in,' said Tom, shouldering them.  ''Tis breakfast-hour,
so I thought I'd just run up and ax you when my young Lord goes up to
Oxford.

'He is gone,' said Charlotte; 'he was here yesterday to take leave of
missus. Mr. James goes later--'

'Gone!' cried Tom.  'If he didn't say he'd come and see me at Mr.
Smith's!'

'Did you want to speak to him?'

'I wanted to see him particular.  There's a thing lays heavy on my
mind.  You see that place down in Ferny dell--there's a steep bank down
to the water.  Well, my young Lord was very keen about building a kind
of steps there in the summer, and he and I settled the stones, and I
was to cement 'em.  By comes Mr. Frost, and finds faults, what I
thought he'd no call to; so I flings down my trowel, and wouldn't go on
for he!  I was so mortal angry, I would not go back to the work; and I
believe my Lord forgot it--and then he went back to college; and
Frampton and Gervas, they put on me, and you know how 'twas I come away
from Ormersfield. I was not going to say a word to one of that lot! but
if I could see Lord Fitzjocelyn, I'd tell him they stones arn't fixed;
and if the frost gets into 'em, there'll be a pretty go next time
there's a tolerablish weight!  But there--it is his own look-out!  If
he never thought it worth his while to keep his promise, and come and
see me--'

'O Tom! that isn't right!  He only forgot--I hear Mrs. Beckett telling
him he'd forget his own head if it wasn't fixed on, and Mr. James is
always at him.'

'Forget!  Aye, there's nothing gentlefolks forget like poor folks. But
I've done with he!  Let him look out--I kept my promises to him long
enough, but if he don't keep his'n--'

'For shame, for shame, Tom!  You don't mean it!' cried Charlotte. 'But,
oh!' with a different tone, 'give me the mat! There's the old Lord and
Mr. Poynings riding down the terrace!'

'I ain't ashamed of nothing!' said the lad, proudly; and as Charlotte
snatched away the mats, and vanished like a frightened hare, he stalked
along like a village Hampden, muttering, 'The old tyrant shall see
whether I'm to be trampled on!' and with both hands in his pockets, he
gazed straight up into the face of the grave elderly gentleman, who
never even perceived him.  He could merely bandy glances with Poynings,
the groom, and he was so far from indifferent that he significantly
lifted up the end of his whip.  Nothing could more have gratified Tom,
who retorted with a grimace and murmur, 'Don't you wish you may catch
me?  You jealous syc--what is the word, sick of uncles or aunts, was
it, that the orator called 'em?  He'd say I'd a good miss of being one
of that sort, and that my young Lord there opened my eyes in time.  No
better than the rest of 'em--'

And the clock striking eight, he quickened his pace to return to his
work.  He had for the two or three previous years been nominally under
the gardener at Ormersfield, but really a sort of follower and
favourite to the young heir, Lord Fitzjocelyn--a position which had
brought on him dislike from the superior servants, who were not
propitiated by his independent and insubordinate temper.  Faults on
every side had led to his dismissal; but Lord Fitzjocelyn had placed
him at an ironmonger's shop in the town of Northwold, where he had been
just long enough to become accessible to the various temptations of a
lad in such a situation.

Charlotte sped hastily round the end of the block of buildings, hurried
down the little back garden, and flew breathlessly into her own
kitchen, as a haven of refuge, but she found a tall, stiff starched,
elderly woman standing just within the door, and heard her last words.

'Well! as I said, 'tis no concern of mine; only I thought it the part
of a friend to give you a warning, when I seen it with my own eyes!--
Ah! here she is!' as Charlotte dropped into a chair.  'Yes, yes, Miss,
you need not think to deceive me; I saw you from Miss Mercy's window--'

'Saw what?' faintly exclaimed Charlotte.

'You know well enough,' was the return.  'You may think to blind Mrs.
Beckett here, but I know what over good-nature to young girls comes to.
Pretty use to make of your fine scholarship, to be encouraging
followers and sweethearts, at that time in the morning too!'

'Speak up, Charlotte,' said the other occupant of the room, a pleasant
little brisk woman, with soft brown, eyes, a clear pale skin, and a
face smooth, in spite of nearly sixty years; 'speak up, and tell Mrs.
Martha the truth, that you never encouraged no one.'

The girl's face was all one flame, but she rose up, and clasping her
hands together, exclaimed--'Me encourage!  I never thought of what Mrs.
Martha says!  I don't know what it is all about!'

'Here, Jane Beckett,' cried Mrs. Martha; 'd'ye see what 'tis to
vindicate her!  Will you take her word against mine, that she's been
gossiping this half hour with that young rogue as was turned off at
Ormersfield?'

'Tom Madison!  cried the girl, in utter amaze.  'Oh! Mrs. Martha!'

'Well! I can't stop!' said Martha. 'I must get Miss Faithfull's
breakfast! but if you was under me, Miss Charlotte, I can tell you it
would be better for you!  You'll sup sorrow yet, and you'll both
recollect my advice, both of you.'

Wherewith the Cassandra departed, and Charlotte, throwing her apron
over her face, began to cry and sob piteously.

'My dear! what is it now? exclaimed her kind companion, pulling down
her apron, and trying to draw down first one, then the other of the
arms which persisted in veiling the crimson face.  'Surely you don't
think missus or I would mistrust you, or think you'd take up with the
likes of him!'

'How could she be so cruel--so spiteful,' sobbed Charlotte, 'when he
only came to ask one question, and did a good turn for me with the
mats.  I never thought of such a thing.  Sweetheart, indeed!  So cruel
of her!'

'Bless me!' said Jane, 'girls used to think it only civility to say
they had a sweetheart!'

'Don't, Mrs. Beckett!  I hate the word!  I don't want no such thing! I
won't never speak to Tom Madison again, if such constructions is to be
put on it!'

'Well, after all, Charlotte dear, that will be the safest way. You are
young yet, and best not to think of settling, special if you aren't
sure of one that is steady and religious, and you'd better keep
yourself up, and not get a name for gossiping--though there's no harm
done yet, so don't make such a work.  Bless me, if I don't hear his
lordship's voice!  He ain't never come so early!'

'Yes, he is,' said Charlotte, recovering from her sobs; 'he rode up as
I came in.'

'Well, to be sure, he is come to breakfast!  I hope nothin's amiss with
my young Lord!  I must run up with a cup and plate, and you, make the
place tidy, in case Mr. Poynings comes in.  You'd better run into the
scullery and wash your face; 'tis all tears!  You're a terrible one to
cry, Charlotte!' with a kind, cheering smile and caress.

Mrs. Beckett bustled off, leaving Charlotte to restore herself to the
little handy piece of household mechanism which kind, patient, motherly
training had rendered her.

Charlotte Arnold had been fairly educated at a village school, and
tenderly brought up at home till left an orphan, when she had been
taken into her present place.  She had much native refinement and
imagination, which, half cultivated, produced a curious mixture of
romance and simplicity.  Her insatiable taste for reading was
meritorious in the eyes of Mrs. Beckett, who, unlearned herself,
thought any book better than 'gadding about,' and, after hearing her
daily portion of the Bible, listened to the most adventurous romances,
with a sense of pleasure and duty in keeping the girl to her book.
She loved the little fragile orphan, taught her, and had patience with
her, and trusted the true high sound principle which she recognised in
Charlotte, amid much that she could not fathom, and set down
alternately to the score of scholarship and youth.

Taste, modesty, and timidity were guards to Charlotte.  A broad stare
was terror to her, and she had many a fictitious horror, as well as
better-founded ones.  Truly she said, she hated the broad words Martha
had used.  One who craved a true knight to be twitted with a
sweetheart!  Martha and Tom Madison were almost equally distasteful, as
connected with such a reproach; and the little maiden drew into
herself, promenaded her fancy in castles and tournaments, kept under
Jane's wing, and was upheld by her as a sensible, prudent girl.



CHAPTER II.

AN OLD SCHOOLMISTRESS.

  I praise thee, matron, and thy due
  Is praise, heroic praise and true;
  With admiration I behold
  Thy gladness unsubdued and bold.
  Thy looks and gestures all present
  The picture of a life well spent;
  Our human nature throws away
  Its second twilight and looks gay.
                             WORDSWORTH.


Unconscious of Charlotte's flight and Tom's affront, the Earl of
Ormersfield rode along Dynevor Terrace--a row of houses with handsome
cemented fronts, tragic and comic masks alternating over the downstairs
windows, and the centre of the block adorned with a pediment and
colonnade; but there was an air as if something ailed the place: the
gardens were weedy, the glass doors hazy, the cement stained and
scarred, and many of the windows closed and dark, like eyes wanting
speculation, or with merely the dreary words 'To be let' enlivening
their blank gloom.  At the house where Charlotte had vanished, he drew
his rein, and opened the gate--not one of the rusty ones--he entered
the garden, where all was trim and fresh, the shadow of the house lying
across the sward, and preserving the hoar-frost, which, in the
sunshine, was melting into diamond drops on the lingering China roses.

Without ring or knock, he passed into a narrow, carpetless vestibule,
unadorned except by a beautiful blue Wedgewood vase, and laying down
hat and whip, mounted the bare staircase, long since divested of all
paint or polish.  Avoiding the door of the principal room, he opened
another at the side, and stood in a flood of sunshine, pouring in from
the window, which looked over all the roofs of the town, to the
coppices and moorlands of Ormersfield.  On the bright fire sung a
kettle, a white cat purred on the hearth, a canary twittered merrily in
the window, and the light smiled on a languishing Dresden shepherdess
and her lover on the mantelpiece, and danced on the ceiling, reflected
from a beautifully chased silver cream-jug--an inconsistent companion
for the homely black teapot and willow-patterned plates, though the two
cups of rare Indian porcelain were not unworthy of it.  The furniture
was the same mixture of the ordinary and the choice, either worn and
shabby, or such as would suit a virtuoso, but the whole arranged with
taste and care that made the effect bright, pleasant, and comfortable.
Lord Ormersfield stood on the hearth-rug waiting.  His face was that of
one who had learnt to wait, more considerate than acute, and bearing
the stamp both of toil and suffering, as if grief had taken away all
mobility of expression, and left a stern, thoughtful steadfastness.

Presently a lady entered the room.  Her hair was white as snow, and she
could not have seen less than seventy-seven years; but beauty was not
gone from her features--smiles were still on her lips, brightness in
her clear hazel eyes, buoyancy in her tread, and alertness and dignity
in her tall, slender, unbent figure.  There was nothing so remarkable
about her as the elasticity as well as sweetness of her whole look and
bearing, as if, while she had something to love, nothing could be
capable of crushing her.

'You here!' she exclaimed, holding out her hand to her guest.  'You are
come to breakfast.'

'Thank you; I wished to see you without interrupting your day's work.
Have you many scholars at present?'

'Only seven, and three go into school at Easter.  Jem and Clara, wish
me to undertake no more, but I should sorely miss the little fellows. I
wish they may do me as much credit as Sydney Calcott.  He wrote himself
to tell me of his success.'

'I am glad to hear it.  He is a very promising young man.'

'I tell him I shall come to honour, as the old dame who taught him to
spell.  My scholars may make a Dr. Busby of me in history.'

'I am afraid your preferment will depend chiefly on James and young
Calcott.'

'Nay, Louis tells me that he is going to read wonderfully hard; and if
he chooses, he can do more than even Sydney Calcott.'

'If!' said the Earl.

Jane here entered with another cup and plate, and Lord Ormersfield sat
down to the breakfast-table.  After some minutes' pause he said, 'Have
you heard from Peru?'

'Not by this mail.  Have you?'

'Yes, I have.  Mary is coming home.'

'Mary!' she cried, almost springing up--'Mary Ponsonby?  This is good
news--unless,' as she watched his grave face, 'it is her health that
brings her.'

'It is.  She has consulted the surgeon of the Libra, a very able man,
who tells her that there is absolute need of good advice and a colder
climate; and Ponsonby has consented to let her and her daughter come
home in the Libra.  I expect them in February.'

'My poor Mary!  But she will get better away from him.  I trust he is
not coming!'

'Not he,' said Lord Ormersfield.

'Dear, dear Mary!  I had scarcely dared to hope to see her again,'
cried the old lady, with tears in her eyes.  'I hope she will be
allowed to be with us, not kept in London with his sister.  London does
her no good.'

'The very purport of my visit,' said Lord Ormersfield, 'was to ask
whether you could do me the favour to set aside your scholars, and
enable me to receive Mrs. Ponsonby at home.'

'Thank you--oh, thank you.  There is nothing I should like better, but
I must consider--'

'Clara would find a companion in the younger Mary in the holidays, and
if James would make Fitzjocelyn his charge, it would complete the
obligation.  It would be by far the best arrangement for Mary's
comfort, and it would be the greatest satisfaction to me to see her
with you at Ormersfield.'

'I believe it would indeed,' said the old lady, more touched than the
outward manner of the Earl seemed to warrant.  'I would--you know I
would do my very best that you and Mary should be comfortable
together'--and her voice trembled--'but you see I cannot promise all at
once.  I must see about these little boys.  I must talk to Jem. In
short, you must not be disappointed'--and she put her hands before her
face, trying to laugh, but almost overcome.

'Nay, I did not mean to press you,' said Lord Ormersfield, gently; 'but
I thought, since James has had the fellowship and Clara has been at
school, that you wished to give up your pupils.'

'So I do,' said the lady, but still not yielding absolutely.

'For the rest, I am very anxious that James should accept Fitzjocelyn
as his pupil.  I have always considered their friendship as the best
hope, and other plans have had so little success, that--'

'I'm not going to hear Louis abused!' she exclaimed, gaily.

'Yes,' said Lord Ormersfield, with a look nearly approaching a smile,
'you are the last person I ought to invite, if I wish to keep your
nephew unspoiled.'

'I wish there were any one else to spoil him!'

'For his sake, then, come and make Ormersfield cheerful.  It will be
far better for him.'

'And for you, to see more of Jem,' she added.  'If he were yours, what
would you say to such hours?'

The last words were aimed at a young man who came briskly into the
room, and as he kissed her, and shook hands with the Earl, answered in
a quick, bright tone, 'Shocking, aye.  All owing to sitting up till
one!'

'Reading?' said the Earl.

'Reading,' he answered, with a sort of laughing satisfaction in dashing
aside the approval expressed in the query, 'but not quite as you
suppose.  See here,' as he held up maliciously a railway novel.

'I am afraid I know where it came from,' said Lord Ormersfield.

'Exactly so,' said James.  'It was Fitzjocelyn's desertion of it that
excited my curiosity.'

'Indeed.  I should have thought his desertions far too common to excite
any curiosity.'

'By no means.  He always has a reason.'

'A plausible one.'

'More than plausible,' cried James, excitement sparkling in his vivid
black eyes.  'It happens that this is the very book that you would most
rejoice to see distasteful to him--low morality, false principles,
morbid excitement, not a line that ought to please a healthy mind.'--

'Yet it has interest enough for you.'

'I am not Fitzjocelyn.'

'You know how to plead for him.'

'I speak simple truth,' bluntly answered James, running his hand
through his black hair, to the ruin of the morning smoothness, so that
it, as well as the whole of his quick, dark countenance seemed to have
undergone a change from sunny south to stormy north in the few moments
since his first appearance.

After a short silence, Lord Ormersfield turned to him, saying 'I have
been begging a favour of my aunt, and I have another to ask of you,'
and repeating his explanation, begged him to undertake the tutorship of
his son.

'I shall not be at liberty at Easter,' said James, 'I have all but
undertaken some men at Oxford.'

'Oh, my dear Jem!' exclaimed the old lady, 'is that settled beyond
alteration?'

'I'm not going to throw them over.'

'Then I shall hope for you at Midsummer,' said the Earl.

'We shall see how things stand,' he returned, ungraciously.

'I shall write to you,' said Lord Ormersfield, still undaunted, and
soon after taking his leave.

'Cool!' cried James, as soon as he was gone.  'To expect you to give up
your school at his beck, to come and keep house for him as long as it
may suit him!'

'Nay, Jem, he knew how few boys I have, and that I intended to give
them up.  You don't mean to refuse Louis?' she said, imploringly.

'I shall certainly not take him at Easter.  It would be a mere farce
intended to compensate to us for giving up the school, and I'll not
lend myself to it while I can have real work.'

'At Midsummer, then.  You know he will never let Louis spend a long
vacation without a tutor.'

'I hate to be at Ormersfield,' proceeded James, vehemently, 'to see
Fitzjocelyn browbeaten and contradicted every moment, and myself set up
for a model.  I may steal a horse, while he may not look over the wall!
Did you observe the inconsistency?--angry with the poor fellow first
for having the book, and then for not reading the whole, while it
became amiable and praiseworthy in me to burn out a candle over it!'

'Ah! that was my concern.  I tell him he would sing another note if you
were his son.'

'I'd soon make him!  I would not stand what Louis does.  The more he is
set down and sneered at, the more debonnaire he looks, till I could
rave at him for taking it so easily.'

'I hoped you might have hindered them from fretting each other, as they
do so often.'

'I should only be a fresh element of discord, while his lordship will
persist in making me his pattern young man.  It makes me hate myself,
especially as Louis is such an unaccountable fellow that he won't.'

'I am sorry you dislike the plan so much.'

'Do you mean that you wish for it, grandmamma? cried he, turning full
round on her with an air of extreme amazement.  'If you do, there's an
end of it; but I thought you valued nothing more than an independent
home.'

'Nor would I give it up on any account,' said she.  'I do not imagine
this could possibly last for more than a few months, or a year at the
utmost.  But you know, dear Jem, I would do nothing you did not like.'

'That's nothing to the purpose,' replied James.  'Though it is to be
considered whether Ormersfield is likely to be the best preparation for
Clara's future life.  However, I see you wish it--'

'I confess that I do, for a few months at least, which need interfere
neither with Clara nor with you.  I have not seen Lord Ormersfield so
eager for many years, and I should be very sorry to prevent those two
from being comfortably together in the old home--'

'And can't that be without a chaperon?' exclaimed James, laughing.
'Why, his lordship is fifty-five, and she can't be much less.  That is
a good joke.'

'It is not punctilio,' said his grandmother, looking distressed.  'It
is needful to be on the safe side with such a man as Mr. Ponsonby. My
fear is that he may send her home with orders not to come near us.'

'She used to be always at Ormersfield in the old times.'

'Yes, when my sister was alive.  Ah! you were too young to know about
those matters then.  The fact was, that things had come to such a pass
from Mr. Ponsonby's neglect and unkindness, that Lord Ormersfield,
standing in the place of her brother, thought it right to interfere.
His mother went to London with him, to bring poor Mary and her little
girl back to Ormersfield, and there they were till my sister's death,
when of course they could not remain.  Mr. Ponsonby had just got his
appointment as British envoy in Peru, and wished her to go with him.
It was much against Lord Ormersfield's advice, but she thought it her
duty, poor dear.  I believe he positively hates Lord Ormersfield; and
as if for a parting unkindness, he left his little girl at school with
orders to spend her holidays with his sister, and never to be with us.'

'That accounts for it!' said James.  'I never knew all this! nor why we
were so entirely cut off from Mary Ponsonby.  I wonder what she is now!
She was a droll sturdy child in those days!  We used to call her
Downright Dunstable!  She was almost of the same age as Louis, and a
great deal stouter, and used to fight for him and herself too. Has not
she been out in Peru?'

'Yes, she went out at seventeen.  I believe she is an infinite comfort
to her mother.'

'Poor Mary!  Well, we children lived in the middle of a tragedy, and
little suspected it!  By the bye, what relation are the Ponsonbys to
us?'

'Mrs. Ponsonby is my niece.  My dear sister, Mary--'

'Married Mr. Raymond--yes, I know!  I'll make the whole lucid; I'll
draw up a pedigree, and Louis shall learn it.'  And with elaborate
neatness he wrote as follows, filling in the dates from the first leaf
of an old Bible, after his grandmother had left the room.  The task,
lightly undertaken, became a mournful one, and as he read over his
performance, his countenance varied from the gentleness of regret to a
look of sarcastic pride, as though he felt that the world had dealt
hardly by him, and yet disdained to complain.


                                                                              KING ARTHUR
                                                                                   -
                                                                 Pendragons and Dynevors innumerable
                                                                                    -
                                                                        Roland Dynevor, d. 1793
                                                                                   -
             1.                                                                    2.                                               3.
  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

             -                                                                     -                                             -

  Catharine, m. James Frost Dynevor, Esq.                         Elizabeth, m. Jocelyn, 3rd Earl of Ormersfield           Mary, m. Ch. Raymond, Esq.
   b. 1770            b. 1765                                       b. 1772          b. 1760                               b. 1774     d.1802
                      d. 1816                                       d. 1835          d. 1833                               d. 1800

  1.                                     2.
  --------------------------------------------------                 Jocelyn, m. Louisa Villars,                           Mary, m. Robert Ponsonby Esq.,

  Henry Roland m. Frances Preston    Oliver J. Frost                4th Earl of    b. 1805                                 b. 1796    British Envoy
  Frost Dynevor        b. 1802          Dynevor                     Ormersfield    d. 1826                                                in Peru.
    b. 1794            d. 1832          b. 1797                       b. 1792
    d. 1832

  1.                  2.             3.           4.        5.
  ------------------------------------------------------------
  James Roland      Frances      Catharine   Oliver      Clara            Louis Fitzjocelyn                                Mary Ponsonby
  Frost Dynevor     b. 1826       b. 1827    b. 1829     b. 1831         Viscount Fitzjocelyn                                 b. 1826
   b. 1824          d. 1832       d. 1832    d. 1832                            b. 1826.
  Fellow of St.
  F. College,
  Oxford.


'Since 1816,' muttered James, as he finished.  'Thirty years of
drudgery!  When shall I be able to relieve her?  Ha!  O. J. F. Dynevor,
Esquire, if it were you who were coming from Peru, you would find a
score to settle!'

He ran down stairs to assist his grandmother in the Latin lessons of
her little school, the usual employment of his vacations.

Catharine Dynevor had begun life with little prospect of spending
nearly half of it as mistress of a school.

Her father was the last male of the Dynevors of Cheveleigh--a family
mounting up to the days of the Pendragons--and she had been made to
take the place of an eldest son, inheriting the extensive landed
property on condition that her name and arms should be assumed in case
of her marriage.  Her choice was one of the instances in which her
affections had the mastery over her next strongest characteristic,
family pride.  She married a highly-educated and wealthy gentleman, of
good family, but of mercantile connexions, such as her father, if
living, would have disdained.  Her married life was, however, perfectly
unclouded, her ample means gave her the power of dispensing joy, and
her temperament was so blithe and unselfish that no pleasure ever
palled upon her.  Cheveleigh was a proverb for hospitality, affording
unfailing fetes for all ages, full of a graceful ease and freedom that
inspired enjoyment.

Mr. Frost Dynevor was a man of refined taste, open-handed even to
extravagance, liberal in all his appointments, and gratifying to the
utmost his love of art and decoration, while his charities and generous
actions were hearty and lavish enough to satisfy even his warm-hearted
wife.

Joined with all this was a strong turn for speculations.  When the mind
has once become absorbed in earthly visions of wealth and prosperity,
the excitement exercises such a fascination over the senses that the
judgment loses balance.  Bold assumptions are taken as certainties, and
made the foundation of fresh fabrics--the very power of discerning
between fact and possibility departs, and, in mere good-will, men,
honest and honourable at heart, risk their own and their neighbours'
property, and ruin their character and good name, by the very actions
most foreign to to their nature, ere it had fallen under the strong
delusion.

Mr. Frost Dynevor had the misfortune to live in a country rich in
mineral wealth, and to have a brother-in-law easily guided, and with
more love of figures than power of investigating estimates on a large
scale.  Mines were set on foot, companies established, and buildings
commenced, and the results were only to be paralleled by those of the
chalybeate springs discovered by Mr. Dynevor at the little town of
Northwold, which were pronounced by his favourite hanger-on to be
destined 'literally to cut the throat of Bath and Cheltenham.'

Some towns are said to have required the life of a child ere their
foundations could be laid.  Many a speculation has swallowed a life and
fortune before its time for thriving has come.  Mr. Frost Dynevor and
Lord Ormersfield were the foremost victims to the Cheveleigh iron
foundries and the Northwold baths.  The close of the war brought a
commercial crisis that their companies could not stand; and Mr.
Dynevor's death spared him from the sight of the crash, which his
talent and sagacity might possibly have averted.  He had shown no
misgivings, but, no sooner was he removed from the helm, than the
vessel was found on the brink of destruction.  Enormous sums had been
sunk without tangible return, and the liabilities of the companies far
surpassed anything that they had realized.

Lord Ormersfield was stunned and helpless.  Mrs. Dynevor had but one
idea--namely, to sacrifice everything to clear her husband's name. Her
sons were mere boys, and the only person who proved himself able to act
or judge was the heir of Ormersfield, then about four-and-twenty, who
came forward with sound judgment and upright dispassionate sense of
justice to cope with the difficulties and clear away the involvements.

He joined his father in mortgaging land, sacrificing timber, and
reducing the establishment, so as to set the estate in the way of
finally becoming free, though at the expense of rigid economy and
self-denial.

Cheveleigh could not have been saved, even had the heiress not been
willing to yield everything to satisfy the just claims of the
creditors.  She was happy when she heard that it would suffice, and
that no one would be able to accuse her husband of having wronged him.
But for this, she would hardly have submitted to retain what her nephew
succeeded in securing for her--namely, an income of about 150 pounds
per annum, and the row of houses called Dynevor Terrace, one of the
building ventures at Northwold.  This was the sole dependence with
which she and her sons quitted the home of their forefathers.  'Never
mind, mother,' said Henry, kissing her, to prevent the tears from
springing, 'home is wherever we are together!' 'Never fear, mother,'
echoed Oliver, with knitted brow and clenched hands, 'I will win it
back.'

Oliver was a quiet lad, of diligent, methodical habits, and willingly
accepted a clerkship in a mercantile house, which owed some obligations
to his father.  At the end of a couple of years he was sent to reside
in South America; and his parting words to his mother were--'When you
see me again, Cheveleigh shall be yours.'

'Oh, my boy, take care.  Remember, 'They that haste to be rich shall
not be innocent.''

That was the last time she had seen Oliver.

Her great object was to maintain herself independently and to complete
Henry's education as a gentleman.  With this view she took up her abode
in the least eligible of her houses at Northwold, and, dropping the
aristocratic name which alone remained of her heiress-ship, opened a
school for little boys, declaring that she was rejoiced to recall the
days when Henry and Oliver wore frocks and learnt to spell. If any
human being could sweeten the Latin Grammar, it was Mrs. Frost, with
the motherliness of a dame, and the refinement of a lady, unfailing
sympathy and buoyant spirits, she loved each urchin, and each urchin
loved her, till she had become a sort of adopted grandmamma to all
Northwold and the neighbourhood.

Henry went to Oxford.  He gained no scholarship, took no honours, but
he fell neither into debt nor disgrace; he led a goodnatured easy life,
and made a vast number of friends; and when he was not staying with
them, he and his mother were supremely happy together.  He walked with
her, read to her, sang to her, and played with her pupils.  He had
always been brought up as the heir--petted, humoured, and waited on--a
post which he filled with goodhumoured easy grace, and which he
continued to fill in the same manner, though he had no one to wait on
him but his mother, and her faithful servant Jane Beckett.  Years
passed on, and they seemed perfectly satisfied with their division of
labour,--Mrs. Frost kept school, and Henry played the flute, or shot
over the Ormersfield property.

If any one remonstrated, Henry was always said to be waiting for a
government appointment, which was to be procured by the Ormersfield
interest.  More for the sake of his mother than of himself, the
Ormersfield interest was at length exerted, and the appointment was
conferred on him.  The immediate consequence was his marriage with the
first pretty girl he met, poorer than himself, and all the Ormersfield
interest failed to make his mother angry with him.

The cholera of 1832 put an end to poor Henry's desultory life.  His
house, in a crowded part of London, was especially doomed by the deadly
sickness; and out of the whole family the sole survivors were a little
girl of ten months old, and a boy of seven years, the latter of whom
was with his grandmother at Northwold.

Mrs. Frost was one of the women of whom affection makes unconscious
heroines.  She could never sink, as long as there was aught to need her
love and care; and though Henry had been her darling, the very
knowledge that his orphans had no one but herself to depend on, seemed
to brace her energies with fresh life.  They were left entirely on her
hands, her son Oliver made no offers of assistance. He had risen, so as
to be a prosperous merchant at Lima, and he wrote with regularity and
dutifulness, but he had never proposed coming to England, and did not
proffer any aid in the charge of his brother's children.  If she had
expected anything from him, she did not say so; she seldom spoke of
him, but never without tenderness, and usually as her 'poor Oliver,'
and she abstained from teaching her grandchildren either to look to
their rich uncle or to mourn over their lost inheritance.  Cheveleigh
was a winter evening's romance with no one but Jane Beckett; and the
grandmother always answered the children's inquiries by bidding them
prove their ancient blood by resolute independence, and by that true
dignity which wealth could neither give nor take away.

Of that dignity, Mrs. Frost was a perfect model.  A singular compound
of the gentle and the lofty, of tenderness and independence, she had
never ceased to be the Northwold standard of the 'real lady,' too mild
and gracious to be regarded as proud and poor, and yet too dignified
for any liberty to be attempted, her only fault, that touch of pride,
so ladylike and refined that it was kept out of sight, and never
offended, and everything else so sweet and winning that there was
scarcely a being who did not love, as well as honour her, for the
cheerfulness and resignation that had borne her through her many
trials.  Her trustful spirit and warm heart had been an elixir of
youth, and had preserved her freshness and elasticity long after her
sister and brother-in-law at Ormersfield had grown aged and sunk into
the grave, and even her nephew was fast verging upon more than middle
age.



CHAPTER III.

LOUIS LE DEBONNAIRE.

  I walked by his garden and saw the wild brier,
  The thorn and the thistle grow broader and higher.
                                        ISC WATTS.


Ormersfield Park was extensive, ranging into fine broken ground, rocky
and overgrown with brushwood; but it bore the marks of retrenchment;
there was hardly a large timber tree on the estate, enclosures had been
begun and deserted, and the deer had been sold off to make room for
farmers' cattle, which grazed up to the very front door.

The house was of the stately era of Anne, with a heavy portico and
clumsy pediment on the garden side, all the windows of the suite of
rooms opening on a broad stone terrace, whence steps descended to the
lawn, neatly kept, but sombre, for want of openings in the surrounding
evergreens.

It was early March, and a lady wrapped in a shawl was seated on the
terrace, enjoying the mild gleam of spring, and the freshness of the
sun-warmed air, which awoke a smile of welcome as it breathed on her
faded cheek, and her eyes gazed on the scene, in fond recognition.

It had been the home of Mrs. Ponsonby's childhood; and the slopes of
turf and belts of dark ilex were fraught with many a recollection of
girlish musings, youthful visions, and later, intervals of tranquillity
and repose.  After fourteen years spent in South America, how many
threads she had to take up again!  She had been as a sister to her
cousin, Lord Ormersfield, and had shared more of his confidence than
any other person during their earlier years, but afterwards their
intercourse had necessarily been confined to brief and guarded letters.
She had found him unchanged in his kindness to herself, and she was the
more led to ponder on the grave, stern impassiveness of his manner to
others, and to try to understand the tone of mind that it indicated.

She recalled him as he had been in his first youth--reserved, sensible,
thoughtful, but with the fire of ambition burning strongly within, and
ever and anon flashing forth vividly, repressed at once as too
demonstrative, but filling her with enthusiastic admiration. She
remembered him calmly and manfully meeting the shock of the failure,
that would, he knew, fetter and encumber him through life--how
resolutely he had faced the difficulties, how unselfishly he had put
himself out of the question, how uprightly he had dealt by the
creditors, how considerately by his father and aunt, how wise and
moderate his proceedings had been throughout.  She recollected how she
had shared his aspirations, and gloried in his consistent and prudent
course, without perceiving what sorrow had since taught her-that
ambition was to him what pleasure was to other young men.  What had it
not been to her when that ambition began to be gratified! when he had
become a leading man in Parliament, and by-and-by held office.

There, a change came over the spirit of her dream; and though she
sighed, she could not but smile at the fair picture that rose before
her, of a young girl of radiant loveliness, her golden curls drooping
over her neck, and her eyes blue as the starry veronica by the hedge
side, smiling in the sunshine.  She thought of the glances of proud
delight that her cousin had stolen at her, to read in her face, that
his Louisa was more than all he had told her.  Little was needed to
make her love the sweet, caressing young creature who had thrown her
arms round her, and told her that she saw it was all nonsense to tell
her she was such a good, grave, dreadful cousin Mary!  Yet there had
been some few misgivings!  So short an acquaintance!  Her cousin too
busy for more than being bewitched by the lovely face!  The Villiers
family, so gay and fashionable!  Might not all have been foreseen? And
yet, of what use would foresight have been?  The gentleman was deeply
attached, and the lady's family courted the match, the distinction he
had won, atoning for his encumbered fortune.

Other scenes arose on her memory--Louisa, a triumphant beauty, living
on the homage she received, all brilliance, grace, and enjoyment. But
there was a darkening background which grew more prominent.  Poor
Louisa had little wisdom by nature, and her education had been solely
directed to enable her to shine in the world, not to render her fit for
the companionship of a man of domestic tastes, accustomed to the
society of superior women.  There was nothing to fall back upon,
nothing to make a home, she was listless and weary whenever gaiety
failed her--and he, disappointed and baffled, too unbending to draw her
out, too much occupied to watch over her, yielded to her tastes, and
let her pursue her favourite enjoyments unchecked.

A time had come when childish vanity and frivolity were verging on
levity and imprudence.  Expostulations fell powerless on her
shallowness.  Painful was the remembrance of the deprecating roguish
glance of the beautiful eyes, and the coaxing caresses with which she
kissed away the lecture, and made promises, only to forget them.  She
was like the soulless Undine, with her reckless gaiety and sweetness,
so loving and childish that there was no being displeased with her, so
innocent and devoid of all art or guile in her wilfulness, that her
faults could hardly bear a harsher name than follies.

Again, Mrs. Ponsonby thought of the days when she herself had been left
to stay with her old uncle and aunt.  In this very house while her
husband was absent abroad, when she had assisted them to receive the
poor young wife, sent home in failing health.  She thought of the sad
weeks, so melancholy in the impossibility of making an impression, or
of leading poor Louisa from her frivolities, she recalled the sorrow of
hearing her build on future schemes of pleasure, the dead blank when
her prattle on them failed, the tedium of deeper subjects, and yet the
bewitching sweetness overpowering all vexation at her exceeding
silliness.  Though full one-and-twenty years had passed, still the
tears thrilled warm into Mrs. Ponsonby's eyes at the thought of
Louisa's fond clinging to her, in spite of many an admonition and even
exertion of authority, for she alone dared to control the spoilt
child's self-will; and had far more power than the husband, who seemed
to act as a check and restraint, and whose presence rendered her no
longer easy and natural.  One confidence had explained the whole.

'You know, Mary dear, I always was so much afraid of him!  If I had had
my own way, I know who it would have been; but there were mamma and
Anna Maria always saying how fortunate I was, and that he would be
Prime Minister, and all the rest.  Oh! I was far too young and foolish
for him.  He should have married a sober body, such as you, Mary!  Why
did he not?  She wished she had never teased him by going out so much,
and letting people talk nonsense; he had been very kind, and she was
not half good enough for him.  That confession, made to him, would have
been balm for ever; but she had not resolution for the effort, and the
days slid away till the worst fears were fulfilled.  Nay, were they the
worst fears?  Was there not an unavowed sense that it was safer that
she should die, while innocent of all but wayward folly, than be left
to perils which she was so little able to resist?

The iron expression of grief on her husband's face had forbidden all
sympathy, all attempt at consolation.  He had returned at once to his
business in London, there to find that poor Louisa's extravagance had
equalled her folly, and that he, whose pride it had been to redeem his
paternal property, was thrown back by heavy debts on his own account.
This had been known to Mrs. Ponsonby, but by no word from him; he had
never permitted the most distant reference to his wife, and yet, with
inconsistency betraying his passionate love, he had ordered one of the
most beautiful and costly monuments that art could execute, for her
grave at Ormersfield, and had sent brief but explicit orders that,
contrary to all family precedent, his infant should bear no name but
Louis.

On this boy Mrs. Ponsonby had founded all her hopes of a renewal of
happiness for her cousin; but when she had left England there had been
little amalgamation between the volatile animated boy, and his grave
unbending father.  She could not conjure up any more comfortable
picture of them than the child uneasily perched on his papa's knee,
looking wistfully for a way of escape, and his father with an air of
having lifted him up as a duty, without knowing what to do with him or
to say to him.

At her earnest advice, the little fellow had been placed as a boarder
with his great aunt, Mrs. Frost, when his grandmother's death had
deprived him of all that was homelike at Ormersfield, He had been with
her till he was old enough for a public school, and she spoke of him as
if he were no less dear to her than her own grandchildren; but she was
one who saw no fault in those whom she loved, and Mrs. Ponsonby had
been rendered a little anxious by a certain tone of dissatisfaction in
Lord Ormersfield's curt mention of his son, and above all by his cold
manner of announcing that this was the day when he would return from
Oxford for the Easter vacation.

Could it be that the son was unworthy, or had the father's feelings
been too much chilled ever to warm again, and all home affections lost
in the strife of politics?  These had ever since engaged him, whether
in or out of office, leaving little time for society or for any
domestic pursuit.

Her reflections were interrupted by a call of 'Mamma!' and her daughter
came running up the steps.  Mary Ponsonby had too wide a face for
beauty, and not slightness enough for symmetry, but nothing could be
more pleasing and trustworthy than the open countenance, the steady,
clear, greenish-brown eyes, the kind, sensible mouth, the firm chin,
broad though rather short forehead, and healthy though not
highly-coloured cheek; and the voice--full, soft, and cheerful--well
agreed with the expression, and always brought gladness and promise of
sympathy.

'See, mamma, what we have found for you.'

'Violets!  The very purple ones that used to grow on the orchard bank!'

'So they did.  Mary knew exactly where to look for them,' said Mrs.
Frost, who had followed her up the steps.

'And there is Gervas,' continued Mary; 'so charmed to hear of you, that
we had almost brought him to see you.'

Mrs. Ponsonby declared herself so much invigorated by Ormersfield air,
that she would go to see her old friend the gardener.  Mary hurried to
fetch her bonnet, and returned while a panegyric was going on upon her
abilities as maid-of-all-work, in her mother's difficulties with male
housemaids--black and brown--and washerwomen who rode on horseback in
white satin shoes.  She looked as if it were hardly natural that any
one but herself should support her mother, when Mrs. Frost tenderly
drew Mrs. Ponsonby's arm into her own; and it was indeed strange to see
the younger lady so frail and broken, and the elder so strong,
vigorous, and active; as they moved along in the sunshine, pausing to
note each spring blossom that bordered the gravel, and entered the
walled kitchen-garden, where espaliers ran parallel with the walks,
dividing the vegetables from the narrow flower-beds, illuminated by
crocuses opening the depths of their golden hearts to the sunbeams and
the revelling bees.   Old Gervas, in a patriarchal red waistcoat,
welcomed Mrs. Ponsonby with more warmth than flattery.   Bless me,
ma'am, I'm right glad to see you; but how old you be!'

'I must come home to learn how to grow young, Gervas,' said she,
smiling; 'I hear Betty is as youthful as my aunt here.'

'Ay, ma'am, Betty do fight it out tolerablish,' was the reply to this
compliment.

'Why, Gervas, what's all that wilderness?  Surely those used to be
strawberry beds.'

'Yes, ma'am, the earliest hautboys; don't ye mind?  My young Lord came
and begged it of me, and, bless the lad, I can't refuse him nothing.'

'He seems to be no gardener!'

'He said he wanted to make a Botany Bay sort of garden,' said the old
man; 'and sure enough 'tis a garden of weeds he's made of it, and mine
into the bargain!  He has a great big thistle here, and the down blows
right over my beds, thick as snow, so that it is three women's work to
be a match for the weeds; but speak to him of pulling it up, ye'd think
'twas the heart out of him.'

'Does he ever work here?'

'At first it was nought else; he and that young chap, Madison, always
bringing docks and darnel out of the hedges, and plants from the
nursery gardens, and bringing rockwork, and letting water in to make a
swamp.  There's no saying what's in the lad's head!  But, of late, he's
not done much but by times lying on the bank, reading or speaking
verses out loud to himself, or getting young Madison off his work to
listen to him.  Once he got me to hear; but, ma'am, 'twas all about
fairies and such like, putting an ass's head on an honest body as had
lost his way.  I told him 'twas no good for him or the boy to read such
stuff, and I'd ha' none of it; but, if he chose to read me some good
book, he'd be welcome--for the candles baint so good as they used, and
I can't get no spectacles to suit me.'

'And did he read to you?'

'A bit or two, ma'am, if the humour took him.  But he's young, you see,
ma'am.  I'm right glad he'll find you here.  My old woman says he do
want a lady about the place to make him comfortable like.'

'And who is this young Madison?' asked Mrs. Ponsonby, when they had
turned from the old gardener.

'To hear Jem, you would believe that he is the most promising plant
rearing for Botany Bay!' said Mrs. Frost.  'He is a boy from that wild
place Marksedge, whom Louis took interest in, and made more familiar
than Jem liked, or than, perhaps, was good for him.  It did not answer;
the servants did not like it, and it ended in his being sent to work
with Smith, the ironmonger.  Poor Louis! he took it sadly to heart, for
he had taken great pains with the boy.'

'I like to hear the old name, Louis!'

'I can't help it,' said Mrs. Frost.  'He must be his old aunt Kitty's
Louis le Debonnaire!  Don't you, remember your calling him so when he
was a baby?'

'Oh yes, it has exactly recalled to me the sort of gracious look that
he used to have--half sly, half sweet-and so very pretty!'

'It suits him as well now.  He is the kind of being who must have a pet
name;' and Mrs. Frost, hoping he might be already arrived, could hardly
slacken her eager step so as to keep pace with her niece's feeble
movements.  She was disappointed; the carriage had returned without
Lord Fitzjocelyn.  His hat and luggage were come, but he himself was
missing.  Mrs. Frost was very uneasy, but his father silenced
conjectures by saying, that it was his usual way, and he would make his
appearance before the evening.  He would not send to meet another
train, saying, that the penalty of irregularity must be borne, and the
horses should not suffer for such freaks; and he would fain have been
utterly indifferent, but he was evidently listening to every sound, and
betrayed his anxiety by the decision with which he checked all
expression of his aunt's fears.

There was no arrival all that evening, no explanation in the morning;
and Betty Gervas, whom Mary went to visit in the course of the day,
began to wonder whether the young Lord could be gone for a soldier--the
usual fate of all missing village lads.

Mary was on her way home, through the park, along a path skirting the
top of a wooded ravine, a dashing rivulet making a pleasant murmur
among the rocks below, and glancing here and there through the
brushwood that clothed the precipitous banks, when, with a sudden
rustling and crackling, a man leaped upon the path with a stone in each
hand.

Mary started, but she did not lose her presence of mind, and her next
glance showed her that the apparition was not alarming, and was nearly
as much amazed as herself.  It was a tall slight young man, in a suit
of shepherd's plaid, with a fair face and graceful agile form,
recalling the word debonnaire as she had yesterday heard it applied. In
instant conviction that this was the truant, she put out her hand by
the same impulse that lighted his features with a smile of welcome, and
the years of separation seemed annihilated as he exclaimed, 'My cousin
Mary!' and grasped her hand, adding, 'I hope I did not frighten you--'

'Oh no; but where did you come from?'

'Up a hill perpendicular, like Hotspur,' he replied, in soft low quiet
tones, which were a strange contrast to the words.  'No, see here,' and
parting the bushes he showed some rude steps, half nature, half art,
leading between the ferns and mountain-ash, and looking very inviting.

'How delightful!' cried Mary.

'I am glad you appreciate it,' he exclaimed; 'I will finish it off now,
and put a rail.  I did not care to go on when I had lost the poor
fellow who helped me, but it saves a world of distance.'

'It must be very pretty amongst those beautiful ferns!'

'You can't conceive anything more charming,' he continued, with the
same low distinct utterance, but an earnestness that almost took away
her breath.  'There are nine ferns on this bank--that is, if we have
the Scolopendrium Loevigatum, as I am persuaded.  Do you know anything
of ferns?  Ah! you come from the land of tree ferns.'

'Oh!  I am so glad to exchange them for our home flowers.  Primroses
look so friendly and natural.'

'These rocks are perfect nests for them, and they even overhang the
river.  This is the best bit of the stream, so rapid and foaming that I
must throw a bridge across for Aunt Catharine.  Which would be most
appropriate?  I was weighing it as I came up--a simple stone, or a
rustic performance in wood?'

'I should like stone,' said Mary, amused by his eagerness.

'A rough Druidical stone!  That's it!  The idea of rude negligent
strength accords with such places, and this is a stone country.  I know
the very stone!  Do come down and see!'

'To-morrow, if you please,' said Mary.  'Mamma must want me, and--but I
suppose they know of your return at home.'

'No, they don't.  They have learnt by experience that the right time is
the one never to expect me.'

Mary's eyes were all astonishment, as she said, between wonder and
reproof, 'Is that on purpose?'

'Adventures are thrust on some people,' was the nonchalant reply, with
shoulders depressed, and a twinkle of the eye, as if he purposed
amazing his auditor.'

'I hope you have had an adventure, for nothing else could justify you,'
said Mary, with some humour, but more gravity.

'Only a stray infant-errant, cast on my mercy at the junction station.
Nurse, between eating and gossiping left behind--bell rings--engine
squeaks--train starts--Fitzjocelyn and infant vis-a-vis.'

'You don't mean a baby?'

'A child of five years old, who soon ceased howling, and confided his
history to me.  He had been visiting grandmamma in London, and was
going home to Illershall; so I found the best plan would be to leave
the train at the next station, and take him home.'

'Oh, that was quite another thing!' exclaimed Mary, gratified at being
able to like him.  'Could you find his home?'

'Yes; he knew his name and address too well to be lost or mislaid. I
would have come home as soon as I had seen him in at the door; but the
whole family rushed out on me, and conjured me first to dine and then
to sleep.  They are capital people.  Dobbs is superintendent of the
copper and tin works--a thoroughly right-minded man, with a nice,
ladylike wife, the right sort of sound stuff that old England's heart
is made of.  It was worth anything to have seen it!  They do
incalculable good with their work-people.  I saw the whole concern.'

He launched into an explanation of the process, producing from his
pocket, papers of the ore, in every stage of manufacture, and twisting
them up so carelessly, that they would have become a mass of confusion,
had not Mary undertaken the repacking.

As they approached the house, the library window was thrown up, and
Mrs. Frost came hurrying down with outstretched arms.  She was met by
her young nephew with an overflow of fond affection, before he looked
up and beheld his father standing upright and motionless on the highest
step.  His excuses were made more lightly and easily than seemed to
suit such rigid looks; but Lord Ormersfield bent his head as if
resigning himself perforce to the explanation, and, with the softened
voice in which he always spoke to Mrs. Ponsonby, said, 'Here he
is--Louis, you remember your cousin.'

She was positively startled; for it was as if his mother's deep blue
eyes were raised to hers, and there were the same regular delicate
features, fair, transparent complexion, and glossy light-brown hair
tinted with gold--the same careless yet deprecating glance, the same
engaging smile that warmed her heart to him at once, in spite of an air
which was not that of wisdom.

'How little altered you are!' she exclaimed.  'If you were not taller
than your father, I should say you were the same Louis that I left
fourteen years ago.'

'I fear that is the chief change,' said Lord Ormersfield.

'A boy that would be a boy all his life, like Sir Thomas More's son!'
said Louis, coolly and simply, but with a twinkle in the corner of his
eye, as if he said it on purpose to be provoking; and Mrs. Frost
interposed by asking where the cousins had met, and whether they had
known each other.

'I knew him by what you said yesterday,' said Mary.

'Louis le Debonnaire? asked Mrs. Frost, smiling.

'No, Mary; not that name!' he exclaimed.  'It is what Jem calls me,
when he has nothing more cutting to say--'

'Aye, because it is exactly what you look when you know you deserve a
scolding--with your shoulders pulled down, and your face made up!' said
his aunt, patting him.

When Mrs. Ponsonby and Mary had left the room to dress, Louis
exclaimed, 'And that is Mrs. Ponsonby!  How ill she does look!  Her
very voice has broken down, though it still has the sweet sound that I
could never forget!  Has she had advice?'

'Dr. Hastings saw her in London,' said his father.  'He sent her into
the country at once, and thinks that there is fair hope that complete
rest of spirits may check the disease.'

'Will she stay here?' said Louis, eagerly.  'That would be like old
times, and we could make her very comfortable.  I would train those two
ponies for her drives--'

'I wish she would remain here,' said his father; 'but she is bent on
becoming my aunt's tenant.'

'Ha!  That is next best!  They could do nothing more commendable. Will
they be a windfall for the House Beautiful?'

'No,' said Mrs. Frost.  'They wish to have a house of their own, in
case Mr. Ponsonby should come home, or Miss Ponsonby to stay with them.'

'The respected aunt who brought Mary up!  How long has she been at
Lima?'

'Four years.'

'Four years!  She has not made use of her opportunities!  Alas for the
illusion dispelled!  The Spanish walk and mantilla melt away; and
behold! the primitive wide-mouthed body of fourteen years since!'

Mrs. Frost laughed, but it seemed to be a serious matter with Lord
Ormersfield. 'If you could appreciate sterling worth,' he said, 'you
would be ashamed to speak of your cousin with such conceited
disrespect.'

All the effect was to make Louis walk quietly out of the room; but his
shoulder and eyebrow made a secret telegraph of amazement to Mrs. Frost.

The new arrival seemed to have put the Earl into a state of constant
restless anxiety, subdued and concealed with a high hand, but still
visible to one who knew him so intimately as did Mrs. Ponsonby.  She
saw that he watched each word and gesture, and studied her looks to
judge of the opinion they might create in her.  Now the process was
much like weighing and balancing the down of Fitzjocelyn's own
favourite thistle; the profusion, the unsubstantiality, and the
volatility being far too similar; and there was something positively
sad in the solicitous heed taken of such utter heedlessness.

The reigning idea was the expedition to Illershall, and the excellent
condition of the work-people under his new friend the superintendent.
Forgetful that mines were a tender subject, the eager speaker became
certain that copper must exist in the neighbourhood, and what an
employment it would afford to all the country round.  'Marksedge must
be the very place, the soil promises metallic veins, the discovery
would be the utmost boon to the people.  It would lead to industry and
civilization, and counteract all the evils we have brought on them.
Mary, do you remember Marksedge, the place of exile?'

'Not that I know of.'

'No; we were too young to understand the iniquity.  In the last
generation, it was not the plan to stone Naboth, but to remove him.
Great people could not endure little people; so, by way of kindness,
our whole population of Ormersfield, except a few necessary retainers,
were transported bodily from betwixt the wind and our nobility, located
on a moor beyond our confines, a generous gift to the poor-rates of
Bletchynden, away from church, away from work, away from
superintendence, away from all amenities of the poor man's life!'

This was one of the improvements to which Mr. Dynevor had prompted the
last Earl; but Louis did not know whom he was cutting, as he uttered
this tirade, with a glow on his cheek and eye, but with his usual soft,
modulated intonation and polished language, the distinctness and
deliberation taking off all air of rattle, and rendering his words more
impressive.

'Indeed! is there much distress at Marksedge?' said Mrs. Ponsonby.

'They have gifts with our own poor at Christmas,' said Lord
Ormersfield, 'but they are a defiant, ungrateful set, always in
distress by their own fault.'

'What cause have they for gratitude?' exclaimed his son.  'For being
turned out of house and home? for the three miles' walk to their daily
work!  Yes, it is the fact.  The dozen families left here, with edicts
against lodgers, cannot suffice for the farmer's work; and all Norris's
and Beecher's men have to walk six miles every day of their lives,
besides the hard day's work.  They are still farther from their parish,
they are no one's charge, they have neither church nor school, and whom
should we blame for their being lawless?'

'It used to be thought a very good thing for the parish,' said Mrs.
Frost, looking at her niece.  'I remember being sorry for the poor
people, but we did not see things in the light in which Louis puts it.'

'Young men like to find fault with the doings of their elders,' said
Lord Ormersfield.

'Nothing can make me regard it otherwise than as a wicked sin!' said
Louis.

'Nay, my dear,' mildly said Aunt Catharine, 'if it were mistaken, I am
sure it was not intentionally cruel.'

'What I call wicked is to sacrifice the welfare of dependents to our
own selfish convenience!  And you would call it cruel too, Aunt
Catharine, if you could hear the poor creatures beg as a favour of Mr.
Holdsworth to be buried among their kin, and know how it has preyed on
the minds of the dying that they might not lie here among their own
people.'

'Change the subject, Fitzjocelyn,' said his father: 'the thing is done,
and cannot be undone.'

'The undoing is my daily thought,' said Louis.  'If I could have tried
my plan of weaving cordage out of cotton-grass and thistle-down, I
think I could have contrived for them.'

Mary looked up, and met his merry blue eye.  Was he saying it so
gravely to try whether he could take her in?  'If you could--' she
said, and he went off into a hearty laugh, and finished by saying, so
that no one could guess whether it was sport or earnest, 'Even taking
into account the depredations of the goldfinches, it would be an
admirable speculation, and would confer immeasurable benefits on the
owners of waste lands.  I mean to take out a patent when I have
succeeded in the spinning.'

'A patent for a donkey,' whispered Aunt Catharine.  He responded with a
deferential bow, and the conversation was changed by the Earl; but
copper was still the subject uppermost with Louis, and no sooner was
dinner over than he followed the ladies to the library, and began
searching every book on metals and minerals, till he had heaped up a
pile of volumes, whence be rang the changes on oxide, pyrites, and
carbonate, and octohedron crystals--names which poor Mrs. Frost had
heard but too often.  At last it came to certainty that he had seen the
very masses containing ore; he would send one to-morrow to Illershall
to be analysed, and bring his friend Dobbs down to view the spot.

'Not in my time,' interposed Lord Ormersfield.  'I would not wish for a
greater misfortune than the discovery of a mine on my property.'

'No wonder,' thought Mrs. Ponsonby, as she recollected Wheal Salamanca
and Wheal Catharine, and Wheal Dynevor, and all the other wheals that
had wheeled away all Cheveleigh and half Ormersfield, till the last
unfortunate wheal failed when the rope broke, and there were no funds
to buy a new one.  No wonder Lord Ormersfield trembled when he heard
his son launch out into those easily-ascending conjectural
calculations, freely working sums in his head, so exactly like the old
Earl, his grandfather, that she could have laughed, but for sympathy
with the father, and anxiety to see how the son would take the damp so
vexatiously cast on his projects.

He made the gesture that Mrs. Frost called debonnaire--read on for five
minutes in silence, insisted on teaching his aunt the cause of the
colours in peacock ores, compared them to a pigeon's neck, and talked
of old Betty Gervas's tame pigeons; whence he proceeded to memories of
the days that he and Mary had spent together, and asked which of their
old haunts she had revisited.  Had she been into the nursery?

'Oh yes! but I wondered you had sent the old walnut press into that
lumber-room.'

'Is that satire?' said Louis, starting and looking in her face.

'I don't know what you mean.'

'I have a better right to ask what you mean by stigmatizing my
apartment as a lumber-room?'

'It was only what I saw from the door,' said Mary, a little confused,
but rallying and answering with spirit; 'and I must maintain that, if
you mean the room over the garden entrance, it is very like a
lumber-room.'

'Ah, Mary! you have not outgrown the delusions of your sex.  Is an
Englishman's house his castle while housemaids maraud over it,
ransacking his possessions, irritating poor peaceful dust that only
wants to be let alone, sweeping away cherished cobwebs?'

'Oh, if you cherish cobwebs!' said Mary.

'Did not the fortunes of Scotland hang on a spider's thread?  Did not a
cobweb save the life of Mahomet, or Ali, or a mediaeval saint--no
matter which?  Was not a spider the solace of the Bastille?  Have not I
lain for hours on a summer morning watching the tremulous lines of the
beautiful geometrical composition?'

'More shame for you!' said Mary, with a sort of dry humorous bluntness.

'The very answer you would have made in old times,' cried Louis,
delighted.  'O Mary, you bring me back the days of my youth!  You never
would see the giant who used to live in that press!'

'I remember our great fall from the top of it.'

'Oh yes!' cried Louis;  'Jem Frost had set us up there bolt upright for
sentries, and I saw the enemies too soon, when you would not allow that
they were there.  I was going to fire my musket at them; but you used
violence to keep me steady to my duty--pulled my hair, did not you?'

'I know you scratched me, and we both rolled off together!  I wonder we
were not both killed!'

'That did not trouble Jem!  He picked us up, and ordered us into arrest
under the bed for breach of discipline.'

'I fear Jem was a martinet,' said Mrs. Frost.

'That he was!  A general formed on the model of him who, not contented
with assaulting a demi-lune, had taken une lune toute entiere.  We had
a siege of the Fort Bombadero, inaccessible, and with mortars firing
double-hand grenades.  They were dandelion clocks, and there were
nettles to act the part of poisoned spikes on the breach.'

'I remember the nettles,' said Mary, 'and Jem's driving you to gather
them; you standing with your bare legs in the nettle-bed, when he would
make me dig, and I could not come to help you!'

'On duty in the trenches.  Your sense of duty was exemplary.  I
remember your digging on, like a very Casablanca, all alone, in the
midst of a thunder-storm, because Jem had forgotten to call you in,
crying all the time with fear of the lightning!'

'You came to help me,' said Mary.  'You came rushing out from the
nursery to my rescue!'

'I could not make you stir.  We were taken prisoners by a sally from
the nursery.  For once in your life, you were in disgrace!'

'I quite thought I ought to mind Jem,' said Mary, 'and never knew
whether it was play or earnest.'

'Only so could you transgress,' said Louis,--'you who never cried,
except as my amateur Mungo Malagrowther.  Poor Mary! what an amazement
it was to me to find you breaking your heart over the utmost penalties
of the nursery law, when to me they only afforded agreeable occasions
of showing that I did not care!  I must have been intolerable till you
and Mrs. Ponsonby took me in hand!'

'I am glad you own your obligations,' said Lord Ormersfield.

'I own myself as much obliged to Mary for making me wise, as to Jem for
making me foolish.'

'It is not the cause of gratitude I should have expected,' said his
father.

'Alas! if he and Clara were but here!' sighed Louis.  'I entreated him
in terms that might have moved a pyramid from its base, but the Frost
was arctic.  An iceberg will move, but he is past all melting!'

'I respect his steadiness of purpose,' said the Earl; 'I know no young
man whom I honour more than James.'

His aunt and his son were looking towards each other with glistening
eyes of triumph and congratulation, and Mrs. Frost cleared her voice to
say that he was making far too much of her Jemmy; a very good boy, to
be sure, but if he said so much of him, the Marys would be disappointed
to see nothing but a little fiery Welshman.



CHAPTER IV.

THISTLE-DOWN.

  Lightly soars the thistle-down,
    Lightly does it float--,
  Lightly seeds of care are sown,
    Little do we note.
  Watch life's thistles bud and blow,
    Oh, 'tis pleasant folly;
  But when all life's paths they strew,
    Then comes melancholy.
                  Poetry Past and Present.


Mary Ponsonby had led a life of change and wandering that had given her
few strong local attachments.  The period she had spent at Ormersfield,
when she was from five to seven years old, had been the most joyous
part of her life, and had given her a strong feeling for the place
where she had lived with her mother, and in an atmosphere of affection,
free from the shadow of that skeleton in the house, which had darkened
her childhood more than she understood.

The great weakness of Mrs. Ponsonby's life had been her over-hasty
acceptance of a man, whom she did not thoroughly know, because her
delicacy had taken alarm at foolish gossip about herself and her
cousin.  It was a folly that had been severely visited.  Irreligious
himself, Mr. Ponsonby disliked his wife's strictness; he resented her
affection for her own family, gave way to dissipated habits, and made
her miserable both by violence and neglect.  Born late of this unhappy
marriage, little Mary was his only substantial link to his wife, and he
had never been wanting in tenderness to her: but many a storm had raged
over the poor child's head; and, though she did not know why the kind
old Countess had come to remove her and her mother, and 'papa' was
still a loved and honoured title, she was fully sensible of the calm
security at Ormersfield.

When Mr. Ponsonby had recalled his wife on his appointment at Lima,
Mary had been left in England for education, under the charge of his
sister in London.  Miss Ponsonby was good and kind, but of narrow
views, thinking all titled people fashionable, and all fashionable
people reprobate, jealous of her sister-in-law's love for her own
family, and, though unable to believe her brother blameless, holding it
as an axiom that married people could not fall out without faults on
both sides, and charging a large share of their unhappiness on the
house of Fitzjocelyn.  Principle had prevented her from endeavouring to
weaken the little girl's affection to her mother; but it had been her
great object to train her up in habits of sober judgment, and freedom
from all the romance, poetry, and enthusiasm which she fancied had been
injurious to Mrs. Ponsonby.  The soil was of the very kind that she
would have chosen.  Mary was intelligent, but with more sense than
fancy, more practical than intellectual, and preferring the homely to
the tasteful.  At school, study and accomplishments were mere tasks,
her recreation was found in acts of kindness to her companions, and her
hopes were all fixed on the going out to Peru, to be useful to her
father and mother.  At seventeen she went; full of active, housewifely
habits, with a clear head, sound heart, and cramped mind, her spirits
even and cheerful, but not high nor mirthful, after ten years of
evenings spent in needlework beside a dry maiden aunt.

Nor was the home she found at Lima likely to foster the joyousness of
early girlhood.  Mr. Ponsonby was excessively fond of her; but his
affection to her only marked, by contrast, the gulf between him and her
mother.  There was no longer any open misconduct on his part, and Mrs.
Ponsonby was almost tremblingly attentive to his wishes; but he was
chill and sarcastic in his manner towards her, and her nervous attacks
often betrayed that she had been made to suffer in private for
differences of opinion.  Health and spirits were breaking down; and,
though she never uttered a word of complaint, the sight of her
sufferings was trying for a warm-hearted young girl.

Mary's refuge was hearty affection to both parents.  She would not
reason nor notice where filial tact taught her that it was best to be
ignorant; she charged all tracasseries on the Peruvian republic, and
set herself simply to ameliorate each vexation as it arose, and divert
attention from it without generalizing, even to herself, on the state
of the family.  The English comfort which she brought into the Limenian
household was one element of peace; and her brisk, energetic habits
produced an air of ease and pleasantness that did much to make home
agreeable to her father, and removed many cares which oppressed her
mother.  To her, Mary was all the world-daughter, comforter, friend,
and nurse, unfailing in deeds of love or words of cheer, and removing
all sense of dreariness and solitude. And Mary had found her mother
all, and more than all she remembered, and admired and loved her with a
deep, quiet glow of intense affection.  There was so much call for
Mary's actual exertion of various kinds, that there was little
opportunity for cultivating or enlarging her mind by books, though the
scenes and circumstances around her could not but take some effect.
Still, at twenty-one she was so much what she had been at seventeen--so
staid, sensible, and practical, that Miss Ponsonby gladly pronounced
her not in the least spoilt.

Fain would her aunt have kept both her and her mother as her guests;
but Mrs. Ponsonby had permission to choose whatever residence best
suited her, and felt that Bryanston-square and Miss Ponsonby would be
fatal to her harassed spirits.  She yearned after the home and
companions of her youth, and Miss Ponsonby could only look severe, talk
of London doctors, and take Mary aside to warn her against temptations
from fashionable people.

Mary had been looking for the fashionable people ever since, and the
first sign of them she had seen, was the air and figure of her cousin
Fitzjocelyn.  Probably good Aunt Melicent would distrust him; and yet
his odd startling talk, and the arch look of mischief in the corners of
his mouth and eyes, had so much likeness to the little Louis of old
times, that she could not look on him as a stranger nor as a formidable
being; but was always recurring to the almost monitorial sense of
protection, with which she formerly used to regard him, when she shared
his nursery.

Her mother had cultivated her love for Ormersfield, and she was charmed
by her visits to old haunts, well remembering everything. She gladly
recognised the little low-browed church, the dumpy tower, and
grave-yard rising so high that it seemed to intend to bury the church
itself, and permitted many a view, through the lattices, of the seats,
and the Fitzjocelyn hatchments and monuments.

She lingered after church on Sunday afternoon with Mrs. Frost to look
at Lady Fitzjocelyn's monument.  It was in the chancel, a recumbent
figure in white marble, as if newly fallen asleep, and with the lovely
features chiselled from a cast taken after death had fixed and ennobled
their beauty.

'It is just like Louis's profile!' said Mrs. Frost, as they came out.

'Well,' said Louis, who was nearer than she was aware, 'I hope at least
no one will make me the occasion of a lion when I am dead.'

'It is very beautiful,' said Mary.

'May be so; but the sentiment is destroyed by its having been six
months in the Royal Academy, number 16,136, and by seeing it down among
the excursions in the Northwold Guide.'

'Louis, my dear, you should not be satirical on this,' said Mrs. Frost.

'I never meant it,' said Louis, 'but I never could love that monument.
It used to oppress me with a sense of having a white marble mother!
And, seriously, it fills up the chancel as if it were its show-room,
according to our family tradition that the church is dedicated to the
Fitzjocelyns.  Living or dead, we have taken it all to ourselves.'

'It was a very fair, respectable congregation,' said his aunt.

'Exactly so.  That is my complaint.  Everything belonging to his
lordship is respectable--except his son.'

'Take care, Louis; here is Mary looking as if she would take you at
your word.'

'Pray, Mary, do they let no one who is not respectable go to church in
Peru?'

'I do not think you would change your congregation for the wretched
crowds of brown beggars,' said Mary.

'Would I not?' cried Louis.  'Oh! if the analogous class here in
England could but feel that the church was for them!--not driven out
and thrust aside, by our respectability.'

'Marksedge to wit!' said a good-humoured voice, as Mr. Holdsworth, the
young Vicar, appeared at his own wicket, with a hearty greeting. 'I
never hear those words without knowing where you are, Fitzjocelyn.'

'I hope to be there literally some day this week,' said Louis.  'Will
you walk with me?  I want to ask old Madison how his grandson goes on.
I missed going to see after the boy last time I was at home.'

'I fear he has not been going on well, and have been sorry for it ever
since,' said the Vicar.  'His master told me that he found him very
idle and saucy.'

'People of that sort never know how to speak to a lad,' said Louis. 'It
is their own rating that they ought to blame.'

'Not Tom Madison, I know,' said Mr. Holdsworth, laughing.  'But I did
not come out to combat that point, but to inquire after the commissions
you kindly undertook.'

'I have brought you such a set of prizes!  Red rubrics, red margins;
and for the apparatus, I have brought a globe with all the mountains in
high relief;--yes, and an admirable physical atlas, and a box of
instruments and models for applying mathematics to mechanics.  We might
give evening lectures, and interest the young farmers.'

'Pray,' said the Vicar, with a sound of dismay, 'where may the bill be?
I thought the limits were two pounds eighteen.'

'Oh!  I take all that on myself.'

'We shall see,' said Mr. Holdsworth, not gratefully.  'Was Origen sent
home in time for you to bring?'

'There!' cried Louis, starting, 'Origen is lying on the very chair
where I put him last January.  I will write to Jem Frost to-morrow to
send him to the binder.'

'Is it of any use to ask for the music?'

'I assure you, Mr. Holdsworth, I am very sorry.  I'll write at once to
Frost.'

'Then I am afraid the parish will not be reformed as you promised last
Christmas,' said the Vicar, turning, with a smile, to Mrs. Frost.  'We
were to be civilized by weekly concerts in the school.'

'What were you to play, Louis?' said Mrs. Frost, laughing.

'I was to imitate all the birds in the air at once,' said Louis,
beginning to chirp like a melee of sparrows, turning it into the croak
of a raven, and breaking off suddenly with, 'I beg your pardon--I
forgot it was Sunday! Indeed, Mr. Holdsworth, I can say no more than
that I was a wretch not to remember.  Next time I'll write it all down
in the top of my hat, with a pathetic entreaty that if my hat be
stolen, the thief shall fulfil the commissions, and punctually send in
the bill to the Rev. W. B. Holdsworth!'

'I shall hardly run the risk,' said Mr. Holdsworth, smiling, as he
parted with them, and disappeared within his clipped yew hedges.

'Poor, ill-used Mr. Holdsworth!' cried Aunt Catharine.

'Yes, it was base to forget the binding of that book,' said Louis,
gravely.  'I wish I knew what amends to make.'

'You owe amends far more for making a present of a commission.  I used
to do the like, to save myself trouble, till I came down in the world,
and then I found it had been a mere air de grand seigneur.'

'I should not dare to serve you or Jem so; but I thought the school was
impersonal, and could receive a favour.'

'It is no favour, unless you clearly define where the commission ended
and the gift began.  Careless benefits oblige no one.'

Fitzjocelyn received his aunt's scoldings very prettily.  His manner to
her was a becoming mixture of the chivalrous, the filial, and the
playful.  Mary watched it as a new and pretty picture.  All his
confidence, too, seemed to be hers; but who could help pouring out his
heart to the ever-indulgent, sympathizing Aunt Catharine?  It was
evidently the greatest treat to him to have her for his guest, and his
attention to her extended even to the reading a sermon to her in the
evening, to spare her eyes; a measure so entirely after Aunt Melicent's
heart, that Mary decided that even she would not think her cousin so
hopelessly fashionable.

Goodnatured he was, without doubt; for as the three ladies were sitting
down to a sociable morning of work and reading aloud, he came in to say
he was going to see after Tom Madison, and to ask if there were any
commands for Northwold, with his checked shooting-jacket pockets so
puffed out that his aunt began patting and inquiring. 'Provisions for
the House Beautiful,' he said, as forth came on the one side a long
rough brown yam.  'I saw it at a shop in London,' he said, 'and thought
the Faithfull sisters would like to be reminded of their West Indian
feasts.'  And, 'to make the balance true,' he had in the other pocket a
lambswool shawl of gorgeous dyes, with wools to make the like, and the
receipt, in what he called 'female algebra,' the long knitting-pins
under his arm like a riding-whip.  He explained that he thought it
would be a winter's work for Miss Salome to imitate it, and that she
would succour half-a-dozen families with the proceeds; and Mrs.
Ponsonby was pleased to hear him speak so affectionately of the two old
maiden sisters.  They were the nieces of an old gentleman to whom the
central and handsomest house of Dynevor Terrace had been let.  He had
an annuity which had died with him, and they inherited very little but
the furniture with which they had lived on in the same house, in hopes
of lodgers, and paying rent to Mrs. Frost when they had any.  There was
a close friendship and perfect understanding between her and them, and,
as she truly assured them, full and constant rent could hardly have
done her as much good as their neighbourhood.  Miss Mercy was the
Sister of Charity of all Northwold; Miss Salome, who was confined to
her chair by a complaint in her knee, knitted and made fancy-works, the
sale of which furnished funds for her charities.  She was highly
educated, and had a great knowledge of natural history.  Fitzjocelyn
had given their abode the name of the House Beautiful, as being
redolent of the essence of the Pilgrim's Progress; and the title was so
fully accepted by their friends, that the very postman would soon know
it. He lingered, discoursing on this topic, while Mary repacked his
parcels, and his aunt gave him a message to Jane Beckett, to send the
carpenter to No. 5 before Mary's visit of inspection; but she
prophesied that he would forget; and, in fact, it was no good augury
that he left the knitting-pins behind him on the table, and Mary was
only just in time to catch him with them at the front door.

'Thank you, Mary--you are the universal memory,' he said.  'What rest
you must give my father's methodical spirit!  I saw you pile up all
those Blackwoods of mine this morning, just as he was going to fall
upon them.'

'If you saw it, I should have expected you to do it yourself,' said
Mary, in her quaint downright manner.

'Never expect me to do what is expected,' answered he.

'Do you do that because it is not expected?' said Mary, feeling almost
as if he were beyond the pale of reason, as she saw him adjusting a
plant of groundsel in his cap.

'It is for the dicky-bird at my aunt's.  There's no lack of it at the
Terrace; but it is an old habit, and there always was an illusion that
Ormersfield groundsel is a superior article.'

'I suppose that is why you grow go much.'

'Are you a gardener?  Some day we will go to work, clear the place, and
separate the botanical from the intrusive!'

'I should like it, of all things!'

'I'll send the horse round to the stable, and begin at once!' exclaimed
Louis, all eagerness; but Mary demurred, as she had promised to read to
her mother and aunt some of their old favourites, Madame de Sevigne's
letters, and his attention flew off to his restless steed, which he
wanted her to admire.

'My Yeomanry charger,' he said.  'We turn out five troopers.  I hope
you will be here when we go out, for going round to Northwold brought
me into a direful scrape when I went to exhibit myself to the dear old
Terrace world.  My father said it was an unworthy ambition.  What would
he have thought, if he had seen Jane stroking me down with the brush on
the plea of dust, but really on the principle of stroking a dog!  Good
old Jane!  Have you seen her yet?  Has she talked to you about Master
Oliver?'

The horse became so impatient, that Mary had no time for more than a
monosyllable, before Louis was obliged to mount and ride off; and he
was seen no more till just before dinner, when, with a shade of French
malice, Mrs. Frost inquired about Jane and the carpenter: she had seen
the cap, still decorated with groundsel, lying in the hall, and had a
shrewd suspicion, but the answer went beyond her expectations--'Ah!' he
said, 'it is all the effect of the Norman mania!'

'What have you been doing?  What is the matter?' she cried, alarmed.

'The matter is not with me, but with the magistrates.'

'My dear Louis, don't look so very wise and capable, or I shall think
it a very bad scrape indeed!  Pray tell me what you have been about.'

'You know Sir Gilbert Brewster and Mr. Shoreland are rabid about the
little brook between their estates, of which each wishes to arrogate to
himself the exclusive fishing.  Their keepers watch like the Austrian
guard on the Danube, in a life of perpetual assault and battery.  Last
Saturday, March 3rd, 1847, one Benjamin Hodgekin, aged fifteen, had the
misfortune to wash his feet in the debateable water; the belligerent
powers made common cause, and haled the wretch before the Petty
Sessions.  His mother met me.  She lived in service here till she
married a man at Marksedge, now dead.  This poor boy is an admirable
son, the main stay of the family, who must starve if he were
imprisoned, and she declared, with tears in her eyes, that she could
not bear for a child of hers to be sent to gaol, and begged me to speak
to the gentlemen.'  He started up with kindling eyes and vehement
manner.  'I went to the Justice-room!'

'My dear! with the groundsel?'

'And the knitting-needles!'

On rushed the narration, unheeding trifles.  'There was the array: Mr.
Calcott in the chair, and old Freeman, and Captain Shaw, and fat Sir
Gilbert, and all the rest, met to condemn this wretched widow's son for
washing his feet in a gutter!'

'Pray what said the indictment?' asked Mrs. Ponsonby.

'Oh, that he had killed an infant trout of the value of three
farthings!  Three giant keepers made oath to it, but I had his own
mother's word that he was washing his feet!'

No one could help laughing, but Fitzjocelyn was far past perceiving any
such thing.  'Urge what I would, they fined him.  I talked to old
Brewster!  I appealed to his generosity, if there be room for
generosity about a trout no bigger than a gudgeon!  I talked to Mr.
Calcott, who, I thought, had more sense, but Justice Shallow would have
been more practicable!  No one took a rational view but Ramsbotham of
the factory, a very sensible man, with excellent feeling.  When it is
recorded in history, who will believe that seven moral, well-meaning
men agreed in condemning a poor lad of fifteen to a fine of five
shillings, costs three-and-sixpence--a sum he could no more pay than I
the National Debt, and with the alternative of three months'
imprisonment, branding and contaminating for life, and destroying all
self-respect?  I paid the fine, so there is one act of destruction the
less on the heads of the English squirearchy.'

'Act of destruction!'

'The worst destruction is to blast a man's character because the love
of adventure is strong within him--!'

He was at this point when Lord Ormersfield entered, and after his daily
civil ceremonious inquiries of the ladies whether they had walked or
driven out, he turned to his son, saying, 'I met Mr. Calcott just now,
and heard from him that he had been sorry to convict a person in whom
you took interest, a lad from Marksedge. What did you know of him?'

'I was prompted by common justice and humanity,' said Louis.  'My
protection was claimed for the poor boy, as the son of an old servant
of ours.'

'Indeed!  I think you must have been imposed on.  Mr. Calcott spoke of
the family as notorious poachers.'

'Find a poor fellow on the wrong side of a hedge, and not a squire but
will swear that he is a hardened ruffian!'

'Usually with reason,' said the Earl.  'Pray when did this person's
parents allege that they had been in my service?'

'It was his mother.  Her name was Blackett, and she left us on her
marriage with one of the Hodgekins.'

Lord Ormersfield rang the bell, and Frampton, the butler and
confidential servant, formed on his own model, made his appearance.

'Do you know whether a woman of the name of Blackett ever lived in
service here?'

'Not that I am aware of, my Lord.  I will ascertain the fact.'

In a few moments Frampton returned.  'Yes, my Lord, a girl named
Blackett was once engaged to help in the scullery, but was discharged
for dishonesty at the end of a month.'

'Did not Frampton know that that related to me?' said Louis, sotto
voce, to his aunt.  'Did he not trust that he was reducing me from a
sea anemone to a lump of quaking jelly?'

So far from this consummation, Lord Fitzjocelyn looked as triumphant as
Don Quixote liberating Gines de Pasamonte.  He and his father might
have sat for illustrations of

          'Youth is full of pleasance,
           Age is full of care,'

as they occupied the two ends of the dinner-table; the Earl concealing
anxiety and vexation, under more than ordinary punctilious politeness;
the Viscount doing his share of the honours with easy, winning grace
and attention, and rattling on in an under-tone of lively conversation
with Aunt Catharine.  Mary was silently amazed at her encouraging him;
but perhaps she could not help spoiling him the more, because there was
a storm impending.  At least, as soon as she was in the drawing-room,
she became restless and nervous, and said that she wished his father
could see that speaking sternly to him never did any good; besides, it
was mere inconsiderateness, the excess of chivalrous compassion.

Mrs. Ponsonby said she thought young men's ardour more apt to be
against than for the poacher.

'I must confess,' said Aunt Catherine, with all the reluctance of a
high-spirited Dynevor,--'I must confess that Louis is no sportsman! He
was eager about it once, till he had become a good shot; and then it
lost all zest for him, and he prefers his own vagaries.  He never takes
a gun unless James drives him out; and, oddly enough, his father is
quite vexed at his indifference, as if it were not manly. If his father
would only understand him!'

The specimen of that day had almost made Mrs. Ponsonby fear that there
was nothing to understand, and that only dear Aunt Kitty's affection
could perceive anything but amiable folly, and it was not much better
when the young gentleman reappeared, looking very debonnaire, and,
sitting down beside Mrs. Frost, said, in a voice meant for her
alone--'Henry IV; Part II., the insult to Chief Justice Gascoigne.  My
father will presently enter and address you:

                         'O that it could be proved
      That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
      In cradle-cloths our children as they lay,--
      Call'd yours Fitzjocelyn--mine, Frost Dynevor!'


'For shame, Louis!  I shall have to call you Fitzjocelyn!  You are
behaving very ill.'

'Insulting the English constitution in the person of seven squires.'

'Don't, my dear!  It was the very thing to vex your father that you
should have put yourself in such a position.'

'Bearding the Northwold bench with a groundsel plume and a
knitting-needle:

     'With a needle for a sword, and a thimble for a hat,
      Wilt thou fight a traverse with the Castle cat?'


The proper champion in such a cause, since 'What cat's averse to fish?''

'No, Louis dear,' said his aunt, struggling like a girl to keep her
countenance; 'this is no time for nonsense.  One would think you had no
feeling for your father.'

'My dear aunt, I can't go to gaol like Prince Hal.  I do assure you, I
did not assault the bench with the knitting-pins.  What am I to do?'

'Not set at nought your father's displeasure.'

'I can't help it,' said he, almost sadly, though half smiling.  'What
would become of me if I tried to support the full weight? Interfering
with institutions, ruining reputation, blasting bulwarks, patronizing
poachers, vituperating venerated--'

'Quite true,' cried Aunt Catherine, with spirit.  'You know you had no
business there, lecturing a set of men old enough to be your
grandfathers, and talking them all to death, no doubt.'

'Well, Aunt Kitty, if oppression maddens the wise, what must it do to
the foolish?'

'If you only allow that it was foolish--'

'No; I had rather know whether it was wrong.  I believe I was too
eager, and not respectful enough to the old squire: and, on reflection,
it might have been a matter of obedience to my father, not to interfere
with the prejudices of true-born English magistrates.  Yes, I was
wrong: I would have owned it sooner, but for the shell he fired over my
head.  And for the rest, I don't know how to repent of having protested
against tyranny.'

There was something redeeming in the conclusion, and it was a comfort,
for it was impossible to retain anger with one so gently,
good-humouredly polite and attentive.

A practical answer to the champion was not long in coming.  He
volunteered the next day to walk to Northwold with Mrs. Frost and Mary,
who wanted to spend the morning in selecting a house in Dynevor
Terrace, and to be fetched home by-and-by, when Mrs. Ponsonby took her
airing.  Two miles seemed nothing to Aunt Catharine, who accepted her
nephew's arm for love, and not for need, as he discoursed of all the
animals that might be naturalized in England, obtained from Mary an
account of the llamas of the Andes, and rode off upon a scheme of an
importation to make the fortune of Marksedge by a manufacture of Alpaca
umbrellas.

Meantime, he must show the beautiful American ducks which he hoped to
naturalize on the pond near the keeper's lodge: but, whistle and call
as he would, nothing showed itself but screaming Canada geese.  He ran
round, pulled out a boat half full of water, and, with a foot on each
side, paddled across to a bushy island in the centre,--but in vain.
The keeper's wife, who had the charge over them, came out: 'Oh, my
Lord, I am so sorry!  They pretty ducks!'

'Ha! the foxes?'

'I wish it was, my Lord; but it is they poachers out at Marksedge that
are so daring, they would come anywheres--and you see the ducks would
roost up in the trees, and you said I was not to shut 'em up at night.
My master was out up by Beech hollow; I heerd a gun, and looked out; I
seen a man and a boy--I'd take my oath it was young Hodgekin.  They do
say Nanny Hodgekin, she as was one of the Blacketts, whose husband was
transported, took in two ducks next morning to Northwold.  Warren
couldn't make nothing of it; but if ever he meets that Hodgekin again,
he says he _shall_ catch it!'

'Well, Mrs. Warren, it can't be helped--thank you for the good care you
took of the poor ducks,' said Louis, kindly; and as he walked on
through the gate, he gave a long sigh, and said, 'My dainty ducks! So
there's an end of them, and all their tameness!'  But the smile could
not but return.  'It is lucky the case does not come before the bench!
but really that woman deserves a medal for coolness!'

'I suppose,' said Mary, 'she could have paid the fine with the price of
the ducks.'

'Ah! the beauties!  I wish Mr. Hodgekin had fallen on the pheasants
instead!  However, I am thankful he and Warren did not come to a
collision about them.  I am always expecting that, having made those
Marksedge people thieves, murder will be the next consequence.'

A few seconds sufficed to bring the ludicrous back.  'How pat it comes!
Mary, did you prime Mrs. Warren, or did Frampton?'

'I believe you had rather laugh at yourself than at any one else,'
exclaimed his aunt, who felt baffled at having thrown away her
compassion.

'Of course.  One knows how much can be borne.  Why, Mary, has that set
you studying,--do you dissent?'

'I was thinking whether it is the best thing to be always ready to
laugh at oneself,' said Mary.  'Does it always help in mending?'

''Don't care' came to a bad end,' said Louis; 'but on the other hand,
care killed a cat--so there are two sides to the question.'

While Mary was feeling disappointed at his light tone, he changed it to
one that was almost mournful.  'The worst of it is, that 'don't care'
is my refuge.  Whatever I do care about is always thwarted by Frampton
or somebody, and being for ever thrown over, I have only to fall as
softly as I can.'

'You know, my dear,' said Mrs. Frost, 'that your father has no command
of means to gratify you.'

'There are means enough for ourselves,' said Louis; 'that is the
needful duty.  What merely personal indulgence did I ever ask for that
was refused me?'

'If that is all you have to complain of, I can't pity you,' said Mary.

'Listen, Mary.  Let me wish for a horse, there it is!  Let me wish for
a painted window, we can't afford it, though, after all, it would not
eat; but horses are an adjunct of state and propriety.  So again, the
parish feasted last 18th of January, because I came of age, and it was
_proper_; while if I ask that our people may be released from work on
Good Friday or Ascension Day, it is thought outrageous.'

'If I remember right, my dear,' interposed his aunt, 'you wanted no
work to be done on any saint's-day.  Was there not a scheme that Mr.
Holdsworth called the cricket cure!'

'That may yet be.  No one knows the good a few free days would do the
poor.  But I developed my plan too rapidly!  I'll try again for their
church-going on Good Friday.'

'I think you ought to succeed there.'

'I know how it will be.  My father will ring, propound the matter to
Frampton; the answer will be, 'Quite impracticable, my Lord,' and there
will be an end of it.'

'Perhaps not.  At least it will have been considered,' said Mary.

'True,' said Louis; 'but you little know what it is to have a Frampton!
If he be a fair sample of prime ministers, no wonder Princes of Wales
go into the opposition!'

'I thought Frampton was a very valuable superior servant.'

'Exactly so.  That is the worst of it.  He is supreme authority, and
well deserves it.  When la Grande Mademoiselle stood before the gates
of Orleans calling to the sentinel to open them, he never stirred a
step, but replied merely with profound bows.  That is my case.  I make
a request, am answered, 'Yes, my Lord;' find no results, repeat the
process, and at the fourth time am silenced with, 'Quite impracticable
my Lord.''

'Surely Frampton is respectful?'

'It is his very essence.  He is a thorough aristocrat, respecting
himself, and therefore respecting all others as they deserve.  He
respects a Viscount Fitzjocelyn as an appendage nearly as needful as
the wyverns on each side of the shield; but as to the individual
holding that office, he regards him much as he would one of the wyverns
with a fool's-cap on.'

And with those words, Fitzjocelyn had sprung into the hedge to gather
the earliest willow-catkins, and came down dilating on their silvery,
downy buds and golden blossoms, and on the pleasure they would give
Miss Faithfull, till Mary, who had been beginning to compassionate him,
was almost vexed to think her pity wasted on grievances of mere random
talk.

Warm and kindly was his greeting of his aunt's good old servant, Jane
Beckett, whom Mary was well pleased to meet as one of the kind friends
of her childhood.  The refinement that was like an atmosphere around
Mrs. Frost, seemed to have extended even to her servants; for Jane,
though she could hardly read, and carried her accounts in her head, had
manners of a gentle warmth and propriety that had a grace of their own,
even in her racy, bad grammar; and there was no withstanding the merry
smile that twitched up one side of her mouth, while her eyes twinkled
in the varied moods prompted by an inexhaustible fund of good temper,
sympathy, and affection, but the fulness of her love was for the
distant 'Master Oliver,' whose young nursery-maid she had been.  Her
eyes winked between tears and smiles when she heard that Miss Mary had
seen him but five months ago, and she inquired after him, gloried in
his prosperity, and talked of his coming home, with far less reserve
than his mother had done.

Mary was struck, also, with the pretty, modest looks of the little
underling, and remarked on them as they proceeded to the inspection of
the next house.

'Yes,' said Louis, 'Charlotte is something between a wood sorrel and a
five-plume moth.  Tom Madison, as usual, shows exquisite taste. She is
a perfect Lady of Eschalott.'

'Now, Louis!' said his aunt, standing still, and really looking
annoyed, 'you know I cannot encourage any such thing.  Poor little
Charlotte is an orphan, and I am all the more responsible for her.'

'There's a chivalry in poor Tom--'

'Nonsense!' said his aunt, as if resolved not to hear him out, because
afraid of herself.  'Don't say any more about it.  I wish I had never
allowed of his bringing your messages.'

'Who set him down in the kitchen to drink a cup of beer?' said Louis,
mischievously.

'Ah! well! one comfort is, that girls never care for boys of the same
age,' replied Aunt Catharine, as she turned the key, and admitted them
into No. 7; when Fitzjocelyn confused Mary's judgment with his
recommendations, till Aunt Catharine pointing out the broken shutter,
and asking if he would not have been better employed in fetching the
carpenter, than in hectoring the magistrates, he promised to make up
for it, fetched a piece of wood and James's tools, and was quickly at
work, his Aunt only warning him, that if he lost Jem's tools she would
not say it was her fault.

By the time Mary's imagination had portrayed what paper, paint,
furniture, and habitation might make the house, and had discerned how
to arrange a pretty little study in case of her father's return; he had
completed the repair in a workmanlike manner, and putting two fingers
to his cap, asked, 'Any other little job for me, ma'am?'

Of course, he forgot the tools, till shamed by Mary's turning back for
them, and after a merry luncheon, served up in haste by Jane, they
betook themselves to Number 8, where the Miss Faithfulls were seated at
a dessert of hard biscuits and water, of neither of which they ever
partook: they only adhered to the hereditary institution of sitting for
twenty minutes after dinner with their red and purple doileys before
them.

Mary seemed to herself carried back fourteen years, and to understand
why her childish fancy had always believed Christiana's Mercy a living
character, when she found herself in the calm, happy little household.
The chief change was that she must now bend down, instead of reaching
up, to receive the kind embraces.  Even the garments seemed unchanged,
the dark merino gowns, black silk aprons, white cap-ribbons, the soft
little Indian shawl worn by the elder sister, the ribbon bow by the
younger, distinctions that used to puzzle her infant speculation, not
aware that the coloured bow was Miss Mercy's ensign of youth, and that
its absence would have made Miss Salome feel aged indeed.  The two
sisters were much alike--but the younger was the more spare, shrivelled
up into a cheery nonpareil, her bloom changed into something quite as
fresh and healthful, and her blithe tripping step always active, except
when her fingers were nimbly taking their turn.  Miss Salome had become
more plump, her cheek was smoother and paler, her eye more placid, her
air that of a patient invalid, and her countenance more intellectual
than her sister's. She said less about their extreme enjoyment of the
yam, and while Mrs. Frost and Mary held counsel with Miss Mercy on
servants and furniture, there was a talk on entomology going on between
her and Fitzjocelyn.

It was very pretty to see him with the old ladies, so gently attentive,
without patronizing, and they, though evidently doting on him, laughing
at him, and treating him like a spoilt child.   He insisted on Mary's
seeing their ordinary sitting room, which nature had intended for a
housekeeper's room, but which ladylike inhabitants had rendered what he
called the very 'kernel of the House Beautiful.' There were the stands
of flowers in the window; the bullfinch scolding in his cage, the rare
old shells and china on the old-fashioned cabinets that Mary so well
remembered; and the silk patchwork sofa-cover, the old piano, and Miss
Faithfull's arm chair by the fire, her little table with her beautiful
knitting, and often a flower or insect that she was copying; for she
still drew nicely; and she smiled and consented, as Louis pulled out
her portfolios, life-long collections of portraits of birds, flowers,
or insects. Her knitting found a sale at the workshop, where the object
was well known, and the proceeds were diffused by her sister, and
whether she deserved her name might be guessed by the basket of poor
people's stores beside her chair.

Miss Mercy was well known in every dusky Northwold lane or alley, where
she always found or made a welcome for herself.  The kindly counsel and
ready hand were more potent than far larger means without them.

Such neighbours were in themselves a host, and Mary and her mother both
felt as if they had attained a region of unwonted tranquillity and
repose, when they had agreed to rent No. 5, Dynevor Terrace, from the
ensuing Lady-day, and to take possession when carpenters and
upholsterers should have worked their will.

Louis was half-way home when he exclaimed, 'There! I have missed Tom
Madison a second time.  When shall I ever remember him at the right
time?'

Little did Louis guess the effect his neglect was taking!  Charlotte
Arnold might have told, for Mrs. Martha had brought in stories of his
unsteadiness and idle habits that confirmed her in her obedience to
Jane.  She never went out alone in his leisure hours; never looked for
him in returning from church--alas! that was not the place to look for
him now.  And yet she could not believe him such a very bad boy as she
was told he had become.



CHAPTER V.

THE TWO MINISTERS.

  'The creature's neither one nor t'other.
  I caught the animal last night,
  And viewed him o'er by candle-light;
  I marked him well, 'twas black as jet.
  You stare, but sirs, I've got him yet,
  And can produce him.'  'Pray, sir, do;
  I'll lay my life the thing is blue.'
  'And I'll be sworn, that when you've seen
  The reptile, you'll pronounce him green.'
  'Well, then, at once to end the doubt,'
  Replies the man, 'I'll turn him out;
  And when before your eyes I've set him,
  If you don't find him black, I'll eat him.'
  He said--then, full before their sight
  Produced the beast, and lo! 'twas white!
                                     MERRICK.


Mrs. Ponsonby had seen in the tropics birds of brilliant hues, that
even, whilst the gazer pronounced them all one beaming tint of gorgeous
purple, would give one flutter, and in another light would flash with
golden green or fiery scarlet.  No less startling and unexpected were
the aspects of Lord Fitzjocelyn, 'Every thing by starts, and nothing
long;' sometimes absorbed in study, sometimes equally ardent over a
childish game; wild about philanthropic plans, and apparently
forgetting them the instant a cold word had fallen on them; attempting
everything, finishing nothing; dipping into every kind of book, and
forsaking it after a cursory glance; ever busy, yet ever idle; full of
desultory knowledge, ranging through all kinds of reading and natural
history, and still more full of talk.  This last was perhaps his most
decided gift.  To any one, of whatever degree, he would talk, he could
hardly have been silent ten minutes with any human being, except
Frampton or his father, and whether deep reflections or arrant nonsense
came out of his mouth, seemed an even chance, though both alike were in
the same soft low voice, and with the same air of quaint pensive
simplicity.  He was exceedingly provoking, and yet there was no being
provoked with him!

He was so sincere, affectionate, and obliging, that not to love him was
impossible, yet that love only made his faults more annoying, and Mrs.
Ponsonby could well understand his father's perpetual restless anxiety,
for his foibles were exactly of the sort most likely to tease such a
man as the Earl, and the most positively unsatisfactory part of his
character was the insouciance that he displayed when his trifling or
his wild projects had given umbrage.  Yet, even here, she could not but
feel a hope, such as it was, that the carelessness might be the effect
of want of sympathy and visible affection from his father, whose very
anxiety made him the more unbending; and that, what a worse temper
might have resented, rendered a good one gaily reckless and unheeding.

She often wondered whether she should try to give a hint--but Lord
Ormersfield seemed to dread leading to the subject, although on all
else that interested him he came to her as in old times, and seemed
greatly refreshed and softened by her companionship.

An old friend and former fellow-minister had proposed spending a night
at Ormersfield.  He was the person whom the Earl most highly esteemed,
and, in his own dignified way, he was solicitous that the household
should be in more than usually perfect order, holding a long conference
with the man of whom he was sure, Frampton.  Would that he could have
been equally sure of his son!  He looked at him almost wistfully
several times during breakfast, and at last, as they rose, gave an
exhortation 'that he would be punctual to dinner at half-past seven,
which would give him ample time, and he hoped he would be--' He paused
for a word, and his son supplied it.  'On my good behaviour, I
understand.'  With that he walked off, leaving Lord Ormersfield telling
Mrs. Ponsonby that it was the first introduction, as he had 'for
various reasons' thought it undesirable to bring Fitzjocelyn early to
London, and betraying his own anxiety as to the impression he might
produce on Sir Miles Oakstead.  His own perplexity and despondency
showed themselves in his desire to view his son with the eyes of
others, and he also thought the tenor of Fitzjocelyn's future life
might be coloured by his friend's opinion.

Evening brought the guest.  Mrs. Ponsonby was not well enough to appear
at dinner, but Mary and Mrs. Frost, pleased to see an historical
character, were in the drawing-room, enjoying Sir Miles's agreeable
conversation, until they caught certain misgivings reflected in each
other's looks, as time wore on and nothing had been seen or heard of
Louis.  The half-hour struck; the Earl waited five minutes, then rang
the bell.  'Is Lord Fitzjocelyn come in?'

'No, my Lord.'

'Bring in the dinner.'

Mary longed to fly in search of him, and spare further vexation.  She
had assumed all an elder sister's feelings, and suffered for him as she
used to do, when he was in disgrace and would not heed it.  She heard
no more of the conversation, and was insensible to the honour of going
in to dinner with the late Secretary of State, as she saw the empty
place at the table.

The soup was over, when she was aware of a step in the hall, and beside
her stood a grey figure, bespattered with mud, shading his eyes with
his hand, as if dazzled by the lights.  'I beg your pardon,' were the
words, 'but I was obliged to go to Northwold.  I have shot a
rose-coloured pastor!'

'Shot him!' cried Mary.  'Was he much hurt?'

'Killed!  I took him to Miss Faithfull, to be sketched before he is
stuffed--'

A clearer view of the company, a wave of the hand from the Earl, and
the young gentleman was gone.  Next he opened the library door, saying,
'Here's my pretty behaviour!'

'Louis! what is the matter?' cried Mrs. Ponsonby.

'I entirely forgot the right honourable, and marched into the
dining-room to tell Aunt Catharine that I have killed a rose-coloured
pastor.'

'Killed what?'

'A bird, hardly ever seen in England.  I spied him in the fir-wood,
went to Warren for a gun, brought him down, and walked on to the House
Beautiful, where Miss Faithfull was enchanted.  She will copy him, and
send him to the bird-stuffer.  I looked in to give directions, and old
Jenyns was amazed; he never knew one shot here before, so early in the
year too.  He says we must send the account to the Ornithological--'

'Do you know how wet you are?  exclaimed Mrs. Ponsonby, seeing rivulets
dropping from his coat.

'I see.  It rained all the way home, and was so dark, I could not see
the footpath; and when I came in, my eyes were blinded by the light,
and my head so full of the pastor, that the other minister never
occurred to me, and remains under the impression that I have confessed
a sacrilegious murder.'

'You really are incorrigible!' cried Mrs. Ponsonby.  'Why are you not
dressing for dinner?'

'Because you are going to give me a cup of your tea.'

'Certainly not.  I shall begin to think you purposely mortified your
father, when you know he wanted you to be reasonable.'

'The lower species never show off well to strangers,' said Fitzjocelyn,
coolly; but, as he lighted his candle, he added, with more candour, 'I
beg your pardon--indeed I did not do this on purpose, but don't say
anything about appearances--there's something in me that is sure to
revolt.'

So noiselessly that the moment was unknown, the vacant chair was filled
by a gentleman irreproachably attired, his face glowing with exercise,
or with what made him very debonnaire and really silent, dining rapidly
and unobtrusively, and never raising his eyes even to his aunt,
probably intending thus to remain all the evening; but presently Sir
Miles turned to him and said, 'Pray satisfy my curiosity.  Who is the
rose-coloured pastor?'

Louis raised his eyes, and meeting a pleasing, sensible face, out
beamed his arch look of suppressed fun as he answered, 'He is not at
all clerical.  He is otherwise called the rose-coloured ouzel or
starling.'

'Whence is that other startling name?'

'From his attending flocks of sheep, on the same mission as jackdaws
fulfil here--which likewise have an ecclesiastical reputation--

     'A great frequenter of the church.''

Fearing alike nonsense and ornithology, Lord Ormersfield changed the
subject, and Louis subsided, but when the gentlemen came into the
drawing-room, Mrs. Ponsonby was surprised to see him taking a fair
share, and no more, of the conversation.  Some information had been
wanted about the terms of labour in the mining districts, and Louis's
visit to Illershall enabled him to throw light on the subject, with
much clearness and accuracy.  Sir Miles had more literature than Lord
Ormersfield, and was more used to young men; and he began to draw
Fitzjocelyn out, with complete success.  Louis fully responded to the
touch, and without a notion that he was showing himself to the best
advantage, he yielded to the pleasure, and for once proved of what he
was capable--revealing unawares an unusual amount of intelligence and
observation, and great power of expression.  Not even his aunt had ever
seen him appear so much like a superior man, and the only alloy was his
father's, ill-repressed dread lest he should fall on dangerous ground,
and commit himself either to his wildly philanthropical or
extravagantly monarchical views, whichever might happen to be in the
ascendant.  However, such shoals were not approached, nor did Louis
ever plunge out of his depth.  The whole of his manner and demeanour
were proofs that, in his case, much talk sprang from exuberance of
ideas, not from self-conceit.

He was equally good in the morning: he had risen early to hunt up some
information which Sir Miles wanted, and the clearness and readiness
with which he had found it were wonderful.  The guest was delighted
with him; gave him a warm invitation to Oakstead, and on being left
alone with Mrs. Ponsonby, whom he had formerly known, expressed his
admiration of his friend's son--as a fine, promising young man, of
great ability and originality, and, what was still more remarkable, of
most simple, natural manners, perfectly free from conceit.  He seemed
the more amazed, when he found, what he would hardly believe, that
Fitzjocelyn was twenty-one, and had nearly finished his university
education.

The liking was mutual.  No sooner had Sir Miles departed, than Louis
came to the library in a rapture, declaring that here was the
refreshing sight of a man unspoilt by political life, which usually ate
out the hearts of people.

Mary smiled at this, and told him that he was talking 'like an old
statesman weary of the world.'

'One may be weary of the world beforehand as well as after,' said he.

'That does not seem worth while,' said Mary.

'No,' he said, 'but one's own immediate look-out may not be flattering,
whatever the next turn may bring;' and he took up the newspaper, and
began to turn it over.  ''As butler--as single-handed man--as clerk and
accountant.'  There, those are the lucky men, with downright work, and
some one to work for.  Or, just listen to this!' and he plunged into a
story of some heroic conduct during a shipwreck.  While he was reading
it aloud, with kindling eyes and enthusiastic interest, his father
opened the door.  'Louis,' he said, 'if you are doing nothing, I should
be obliged if you would make two copies of this letter.'

Louis glanced at the end of what he was reading, laid the paper down,
and opened a blotting-book.

'You had better come into the study, or you will not write correctly.'

'I can write, whatever goes on.'

'I particularly wish this to be legible and accurate.  You have begun
too low down.'

Louis took another sheet.

'That pen is not fit to write with.'

'The pens are delusions,' said Louis, trying them round, in an easy,
idle way: 'I never could mend a quill!  How is this steel one? Refuses
to recognise the purpose of his existence.  Aunt Catherine, do you
still forbid steel pens in your school?  If so, it must be the solitary
instance.  How geese must cackle blessings on the inventor! He should
have a testimonial--a silver inkstand representing the goose that laid
the golden eggs,--and all writing-masters should subscribe.  Ha! where
did this pen come from?  Mary, were you the bounteous mender!  A
thousand thanks.'

If Louis fretted his father by loitering and nonsense, his father was
no less trying by standing over him with advice and criticisms which
would have driven most youths beyond patience, but which he bore with
constant good-humour, till his father returned to the study, when he
exclaimed, 'Now, Mary, if you like to finish the wreck, it will not
interrupt me.  This is mere machine-work.'

'Thank you,' said Mary; 'I should like it better afterwards.  Do you
think I might do one copy for you?  Or would it not suit Lord
Ormersfield?'

Louis made polite demurs, but she overruled them and began.

He stretched himself, took up his Times, and skimmed the remaining
incidents of the shipwreck, till he was shamed by seeing Mary half-way
down the first page, when he resumed his pen, overtook her, and then
relapsed into talk, till Mrs. Frost fairly left the room, to silence
him.

As the two copies were completed, Lord Ormersfield returned; and Mary,
with many apologies, presented her copy, and received most gracious
thanks and compliments on her firm, clear writing, a vexation to her
rather than otherwise, since 'Fitzjocelyn' was called to account for
dubious scrawls, errors, and erasures.

He meekly took another sheet, consoling himself, however, by saying, 'I
warn you that pains will only make it Miss Fanny.'

'What do you mean?'

As if glad to be instigated, he replied, 'Did you never hear of my
signature being mistaken by an ingenious person, who addressed his
answer to 'Miss Fanny Jocelyn?  Why, Fanny has been one of Jem's
regular names for me ever since!  I have the envelope somewhere as a
curiosity.  I'll show it to you, Mary.'

'You seem to be proud of it!' exclaimed his father, nearly out of
patience.  'Pray tell me whether you intend to copy this creditably or
not.'

'I will endeavour, but the Fates must decide.  I can scrawl, or, with
pains, I can imitate Miss Fanny; but the other alternative only comes
in happy moments.'

'Do you mean that you cannot write well if you choose?'

'It is like other arts--an inspiration.  Dogberry was deep when he said
it came by nature.'

'Then make no more attempts.  No.  That schoolgirl's niggle is worse
than the first.'

'Fanny, as I told you,' said Louis, looking vacantly up in resigned
despair, yet not without the lurking expression of amusement, 'I will
try again.'

'No, I thank you.  I will have no more time wasted.'

Louis passively moved to the window, where he exclaimed that he saw
Aunt Catharine sunning herself in the garden, and must go and help her.

'Did you ever see anything like that?' cried Lord Ormersfield,
thoroughly moved to displeasure.

'There was at least good-humour,' said Mrs. Ponsonby.  'Pardon me,
there was almost as much to try his temper as yours.'

'He is insensible!'

'I think not.  A word from Aunt Catharine rules him.'

'Though you counselled it, Mary, I doubt whether her training has
answered.  Henry Frost should have been a warning.'

Mary found herself blundering in her new copy, and retreated with it to
the study, while her mother made answer: 'I do not repent of my advice.
The affection between him and Aunt Catherine is the greatest blessing
to him.'

'Poor boy!' said his father, forgetting his letters as he stood
pondering.  Mrs. Ponsonby seized the moment for reporting Sir Miles's
opinion, but the Earl did not betray his gratification.  'First sight!'
he said.  'Last night and this afternoon he is as unlike as these are,'
and he placed before her Louis's unlucky copies, together with a letter
written in a bold, manly hand.  'Three different men might have written
these!  And he pretends he cannot write like this, if he please!'

'I have no doubt it is to a certain extent true.  Yes, absolutely true.
You do not conceive the influence that mood has on some characters
before they have learnt to master themselves.  I do not mean temper,
but the mere frame of spirits.  Even sense of restraint will often take
away the actual power from a child, or where there is not a strong
will.'

'You are right!' said he, becoming rigid as if with pain.  'He is a
child!  You have not yet told me what you think of him.  You need not
hesitate.  No one sees the likeness more plainly than I do.'

'It is strong externally,' she said; 'but I think it is more external
than real, more temperament than character.'

'You are too metaphysical for me, Mary;' and he would fain have smiled.

'I want you to be hopeful.  Half the object would be attained if you
were, and he really deserves that you should.'

'He will not let me.  If I hope at one moment, I am disappointed the
next.'

'And how?  By nothing worse than boyishness.  You confirm what my aunt
tells me, that there has never been a serious complaint of him.'

'Never.  His conduct has always been blameless; but every tutor has
said the same--that he has no application, and allows himself to be
surpassed by any one of moderate energy!'

'Blameless conduct!  How many fathers would give worlds to be able to
give such a character of a son!'

'There are faults that are the very indications of a manly spirit,'
began the Earl, impatiently.  'Not that I mean that I wish--he has
never given me any trouble--but just look at James Frost, and you would
see what I mean!  There's energy in him--fire--independence; you feel
there is substance in him, and like him the better for having a will
and way of his own.'

'So, I think, has Louis; but it is so often thwarted, that it sinks
away under the sense of duty and submission.'

'If there were any consistency or reason in his fancies, they would not
give way so easily; but it is all talk, all extravagant notions--here
one day, gone the next.  Not a spark of ambition!'

'Ambition is not so safe a spark that we should wish to see it lighted.'

'A man must wish to see his son hold his proper station, and aim high!
No one can be satisfied to see him a trifler.'

'I have been trying to find out why he trifles.  As far as I can see,
he has no ambition, and I do not think his turn will be for a life like
yours.  His bent is towards what is to do good to others.  He would
make an admirable country gentleman.'

'A mere farmer, idling away his time in his fields.'

'No; doing infinite good by example and influence, and coming forward
whenever duty required it.  Depend upon it, the benefit to others is
the impulse which can work on Louis, not personal ambition.  Birth has
already given him more than he values.'

'You may be right,' said Lord Ormersfield, 'but it is hard to see so
many advantages thrown away, and what sometimes seems like so much
ability wasted.  But who can tell? he is never the same for an hour
together.'

'May it not be for want of a sphere of wholesome action?'

'He is not fit for it, Mary.  You know I resolved that the whole
burthen of our losses should fall on me; I made it my object that he
should not suffer, and should freely have whatever I had at the same
age.  Everything is cleared at last.  I could give him the same income
as I started in life with; but he is so reckless of money, that I
cannot feel justified in putting it into his hands.  Say what I will,
not a vacation occurs but he comes to tell me of some paltry debt of
ten or fifteen pounds.'

'He comes to tell you!  Nay, never say he has no resolution!  Such
debts as those, what are they compared with other young men's, of which
they do not tell their fathers?'

'If he were like other youths, I should know how to deal with him. But
you agree with me, he is not fit to have a larger sum in his hands.'

'Perhaps not; he is too impulsive and inexperienced.  If you were to
ask me how to make it conduce to his happiness, I should say, lay out
more on the estate, so as to employ more men, and make improvements in
which he would take interest.'

'I cannot make him care for the estate.  Last winter, when he came of
age, I tried to explain the state of affairs; but he was utterly
indifferent--would not trouble himself to understand the papers he was
to sign, and made me quite ashamed of such an exhibition before
Richardson.'

'I wish I could defend him!  And yet--you will think me unreasonable,
but I do believe that if he had thought the welfare of others was
concerned, he would have attended more.'

'Umph!'

'I am not sure that it is not his good qualities that make him so hard
to deal with.  The want of selfishness and vanity seem to take away two
common springs of action, but I do believe that patience will bring out
something much higher when you have found the way to reach it.'

'That I certainly have not, if it be there!'

'To cultivate his sympathies with you,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, hesitating,
and not venturing to look into his face.

'Enough, Mary,' he said, hastily.  You said the like to me once before.'

'But,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, firmly, '_here_ there is a foundation to
work on.  There are affections that only need to be drawn out to make
you happy, and him--not, perhaps, what you now wish, but better than
you wish.'

His face had become hard as he answered, 'Thank you, Mary; you have
always meant the best.  You have always been kind to me, and to all
belonging to me.'

Her heart ached for the father and son, understanding each other so
little, and paining each other so much, and she feared that the Earl's
mind had been too much cramped, and his feelings too much chilled, for
such softening on his part as could alone, as it seemed, prevent Louis
from being estranged, and left to his naturally fickle and indolent
disposition.

Mary had in the mean time completed her copies, and left them on the
Earl's table; and wishing neither to be thanked nor contrasted with
Louis, she put on her bonnet, to go in search of Aunt Catharine.  Not
finding her in the garden, she decided on visiting old Gervas and his
wife, who had gladly caught at her offer of reading to them.  The visit
over, she returned by the favourite path above Ferny dell, gathering
primroses, and meditating how to stir up Louis to finish off his rocky
steps, and make one piece of work complete.  She paused at the summit
of them, and was much inclined to descend and examine what was wanting,
when she started at hearing a rustling beneath, then a low moan and an
attempt at a call.  The bushes and a projecting rock cut off her view;
but, in some trepidation, she called out, 'Is any one there?'  Little
did she expect the answer--

'It is I--Fitzjocelyn.  Come!--I have had a fall.'

'I'm coming--are you hurt?' she cried, as with shaking limbs she
prepared to begin the descent.

'Not that way,' he called; 'it gave way--go to the left.'

She was almost disobeying; but, recalling herself to thought, she
hurried along the top till the bank became practicable, and tore her
way through brake and brier, till she could return along the side of
the stream.

Horror-struck, she perceived that a heavy stone had given way and
rolled down, bearing Louis with it, to the bottom, where he lay,
ghastly and helpless.  She called to him; and he tried to raise
himself, but sank back.  'Mary! is it you?  I thought I should have
died here,' he said; as she knelt by him, exclaiming, 'Oh, Louis!
Louis! what a dreadful fall!'

'It is my fault,' he eagerly interrupted.  'I am glad it has happened
to no one else.'

'And you are terribly hurt! I must go for help! but what can I do for
you?  Would you like some water?

'Water!  Oh! I have heard it all this time gurgling there!'

She filled his cap, and bathed his face, apparently to his great
relief, and she ventured to ask if he had been long there.

'Very long!' he said.  'I must have fainted after I got the stone off
my foot, so I missed Gervas going by.  I thought no one else would come
near.  Thank God!'

Mary almost grew sick as she saw how dreadfully his left ankle had been
crushed by a heavy stone; and her very turning towards it made him
shudder, and say, 'Don't touch me!  I am shattered all over.'

'I am afraid I should only hurt you,' she said, with difficulty
controlling herself.  'I had better fetch some one.'

He did not know how to be left again; but the damp chilliness of his
hands made her the more anxious to procure assistance, and, after
spreading her shawl over him, she made the utmost speed out of the
thicket.  As she emerged, she saw Lord Ormersfield riding with his
groom, and her scream and sign arrested him; but, by the time they met,
she could utter nothing but 'Louis!'

'Another accident!' was the almost impatient answer.

'He is dreadfully hurt!' she said, sobbing and breathless.  'His foot
is crushed!  He has been there this hour!'

The alarm was indeed given.  The Earl seemed about to rush away without
knowing whither; and she had absolutely to withhold him, while,
summoning her faculties, she gave directions to Poynings. Then she let
him draw her on, too fast for speaking, until they reached the spot
where Louis lay, so spent with pain and cold, that he barely opened his
eyes at their voices, made no distinct answers as to his hurts, and
shrank and moaned when his father would have raised him.

Mary contrived to place his head on her lap, bathed his forehead and
chafed his hands, while Lord Ormersfield stood watching him with looks
of misery, or paced about, anxiously looking for the servants.

They came at last, all too soon for poor Louis, who suffered terribly
in the transport, and gave few tokens of consciousness, except a cry
now and then extorted by a rougher movement.

None of the household, scarcely even Mrs. Frost, seemed at first to be
able to believe that Lord Fitzjocelyn could really have hurt himself
seriously.  'Again!' was the first word of every one, for his many
slight accidents were treated like crying 'Wolf;' but Frampton himself
looked perfectly pale and shocked when he perceived how the matter
really stood; and neither he nor Lord Ormersfield was half so helpful
as Mrs. Frost.  The shock only called out her energy in behalf of her
darling, and, tender as her nature was, she shrank from nothing that
could soothe and alleviate his suffering; and it did infinitely comfort
him, as he held her hand and looked with affection into her face, even
in the extremity of pain.

Fain would others have been the same support; but his father, though
not leaving him, was completely unnerved, and unable to do anything;
and Mrs. Ponsonby was suffering under one of the attacks that were
brought on by any sudden agitation.  Mary, though giddy and throbbing
in every pulse, was forced to put a resolute check on herself--brace
her limbs, steady her voice, and keep her face composed, while every
faculty was absorbed in listening for sounds from her cousin's room,
and her heart was quivering with an anguish of prayer and suspense.
Could she but hide her burning cheeks for one moment, let out one of
the sobs that seemed to be rending her breast, throw herself on her
knees and burst into tears, what an infinite relief it would be!  But
Mary had learnt to spend her life in having no self.



CHAPTER VI.

FAREWELLS.

  What yet is there that I should do,
    Lingering in this darksome vale?
  Proud and mighty, fair to view,
    Are our schemes, and yet they fail,
  Like the sand before the wind,
    That no power of man can bind.
                      ARNDT, Lyra Germanica.


Dynevor Terrace was said to have dark, damp kitchens, but by none who
had ever been in No. 5, when the little compact fire was compressed to
one glowing red crater of cinders, their smile laughing ruddily back
from the bright array on the dresser, the drugget laid down, the round
oaken table brought forward, and Jane Beckett, in afternoon trim,
tending her geraniums, the offspring of the parting Cheveleigh nosegay,
or gauffreing her mistress's caps.  No wonder that on raw evenings,
Master James, Miss Clara, or my young Lord, had often been found
gossiping with Jane, toasting their own cheeks as well as the bread, or
pinching their fingers in her gauffreing machine.

Yet, poor little Charlotte Arnold learnt that the kitchen could be
dreary, when Mrs. Beckett had been summoned to nurse Lord Fitzjocelyn,
and she remained in sole charge, under Mrs. Martha's occasional
supervision.  She found herself, her household cares over all too soon,
on a cold light March afternoon, with the clock ticking loud enough for
midnight, the smoke-jack indulging in supernatural groans, and the
whole lonely house full of undefined terrors, with an unlimited space
of the like solitude before her.  She would even have been glad to be
sure of an evening of Mrs. Martha's good advice, and of darning
stockings!  She sat down by the round table to Mr. James's wristbands;
but every creak or crack of the furniture made her start, and think of
death-watches.  She might have learnt to contemn superstition, but that
did not prevent it from affecting her nerves.

She spread her favourite study, The Old English Baron, on the table
before her; but the hero had some connexion in her mind with Tom
Madison, for whom she had always coveted a battle-field in France. What
would he feel when he heard how he had filled up his course of evil,
being well-nigh the death of his benefactor!  If any one ought to be
haunted, it would assuredly be no other than Tom!

Chills running over her at the thought, she turned to the fire as the
thing nearest life, but at the moment started at a hollow call of her
own name.  A face was looking in at her through the geraniums!  She
shrieked aloud, and clasped her hands over her eyes.

'Don't make a row.  Open the door!'

It was such a relief to hear something unghostly, that she sprang to
the door; but as she undid it, all her scruples seized her, and she
tried to hold it, saying, 'Don't come in!  You unfortunate boy, do you
know what you have done?'

But Tom Madison was in a mood to which her female nature cowered.  He
pushed the door open, saying authoritatively, 'Tell me how he is!'

'He is as ill as he can be to be alive,' said Charlotte, actuated at
once by the importance of being the repository of such tidings, and by
the excitement of communicating them to one so deeply concerned. 'Mr.
Poynings came in to fetch Mrs. Beckett--he would have no one else to
nurse him--and he says the old Lord and Missus have never had their
clothes off these two nights.'

'Then, was it along of them stones?' asked the lad, hoarsely.

'Yourself should know best!' returned Charlotte.  'Mr. Poynings says
'twas a piece of rock as big as that warming-pan as crushed his ankle!
and you know--'

'I know nothing,' said Tom.  'Master kept me in all day yesterday, and
I only heard just now at Little Northwold, where I've been to take home
some knives of Squire Calcott's.  Master may blow me up if he likes,
but I couldn't come till I'd heard the rights of it.  Is he so very
bad?'

'They've sent up to London for a doctor,' pursued Charlotte.  'Mr.
Walby don't give but little hope of him.  Poor young gentleman, I'm
sure he had a good word from high and low!'

'Well! I'm gone!' cried Tom, vehemently.  'Goodbye to you, Charlotte
Arnold!  You'll never see me in these parts more!'

'Gone!  Oh, Tom! what do you mean!'

'D'ye think I'll stay here to have this here cast in my face?  Such a
one as won't never walk the earth again!' and he burst out into
passionate tears.  'I wish I was dead!'

'Oh, hush, Tom!--that is wicked!'

'May be so!  I am all that's wicked, and you all turn against me!'

'I don't turn against you,' sobbed Charlotte, moved to the bottom of
her gentle heart.

'You! you turned against me long ago.  You've been too proud to cast
one look at me these three months; and he forgot me; and that's what
drew me on, when who cared what became of me--nor I neither now.'

'Don't speak that way!  Don't say 'twas pride.  Oh no! but I had to
behave proper, and how should I keep up acquaintance when they said you
went on--unsteady--'

'Aye, aye!  I know how it is,' said poor Tom, with broken-down
humility: 'I was not fit for you then, and I'm next thing to a murderer
now; and you're like a white dove that the very fingers of me would
grime.  I'll take myself out of your way; but, let what will come of
me, I'll never forget you, Charlotte.'

'Oh, wait, Tom!  If I could but say it right!--Oh! I know there's
something about biding patiently, and getting a blessing--if you'd only
stop while I recollect it.'

'I thought I heard voices!' exclaimed Mrs. Martha, suddenly descending
on them.  'I wonder you aren't ashamed of yourselves, and the family in
such trouble!  Downright owdacious!'

'Be this your house?' said Tom, stepping before Charlotte, his
dejection giving way instantly to rude independence.

'Oh, very well,' said Martha, with dignity.  'I know what to expect
from such sort of people.  The house and young woman is in my charge,
sir; and if you don't be off, I'll call the police.'

'Never trouble your old bones!' retorted Tom.

'Good-bye to you, Charlotte;' and, as in defiance of Martha, he took
her passive hand.  'You'll remember one as loved you true and faithful,
but was drove desperate!  Good-bye!  I'll not trouble no one no more!'

The three concluding negatives with which he dashed out of the house
utterly overwhelmed Charlotte, and made her perfectly insensible to
Mrs. Martha's objurgations.  She believed in the most horrible and
desperate intentions, and sobbed herself into such violent hysterics
that Miss Mercy came in to assist--imagined that the rude boy had
terrified her, misunderstood her shamefaced attempts at explanation,
and left her lying on her bed, crying quietly over her secret terrors,
and over that first, strangely-made declaration of love. The white
dove! she did not deserve it, but it was so poetical! and poor Tom was
so unhappy!  She had not time even to think what was become of her own
character for wisdom and prudence.

The next morning, between monition and triumph, Martha announced that
the good-for-nothing chap was off with a valuable parcel of Mr.
Calcott's, and the police were after him; with much more about his
former idle habits,--frequenting of democratic oratory, public-houses,
and fondness for bad company and strolling actors.  Meek and easily
cowed, Charlotte only opened her lips to say she knew that he had taken
home Mr. Calcott's parcel.  But this brought down a storm on her for
being impertinent enough to defend him, and she sat trembling till it
had subsided; and Martha retreating, left her to weep unrestrainedly
over her wild fancies, and the world's cruelty and injustice towards
one whom, as she was now ready to declare, she loved with her whole
heart.

The bell rang sharply, knocks rattled at the front door!  She was sure
that Tom had been just taken out of the river!  But instinct to answer
the bell awoke at the second furious clattering and double pealing,
which allowed no time for her to compose her tear-streaked, swollen
face, especially as the hasty sounds suggested 'Mr. James.'

Mr. James it was, but the expected rebuke for keeping him waiting was
not spoken.  As he saw her sorrowful looks, he only said, low and
softly, 'Is it so, Charlotte?'  In his eyes, there could be but one
cause for grief, and Charlotte's heart smote her for hypocrisy, when
she could barely command her voice to reply, 'No, sir; my Lord has had
a little better night.'

He spoke with unusual gentleness, as he made more inquiries than she
could answer; and when, after a few minutes, he turned to walk on to
Ormersfield, he said, kindly, 'Good-bye, Charlotte; I'll send you word
if I find him better:' and the tears rose in his eyes at the thought
how every one loved the patient.

He was not wrong.  There was everywhere great affection and sympathy
for the bright, fantastic being whom all laughed at and liked, and
Northwold and the neighbourhood felt that they could have better spared
something more valuable.

The danger was hardly exaggerated even by Charlotte.  The chill of the
long exposure had brought on high fever; and besides the crushed ankle,
there had been severe contusions, which had resulted in an acute pain
in the side, hitherto untouched by remedies, and beyond the
comprehension of the old Northwold surgeon, Mr. Walby.  As yet,
however, the idea of peril had not presented itself to Louis, though he
was perfectly sensible.  Severe pain and illness were new to him; and
though not fretful nor impatient, he had not the stoicism either of
pride or of physical indifference, put little restraint on the
expression of suffering, and was to an almost childish degree absorbed
in the present.  He was always considerate and grateful; and his fond
affection for his Aunt Catharine, and for good old Jane, never failed
to show itself whenever they did anything for his relief; and they were
the best of nurses.

Poor Lord Ormersfield longed to be equally effective; but he was
neither handy nor ready, and could only sit hour after hour beside his
son, never moving except to help the nurses, or to try to catch the
slightest accent of the sufferer.  Look up when Louis would, he always
saw the same bowed head, and earnest eyes, which, as Mrs. Ponsonby told
her daughter, looked as they did when Louisa was dying.

The coming of the London surgeon was an era to which Louis evidently
looked anxiously, with the iteration of sickness, often reckoning the
hours till he could arrive; and when at last he came, there was an
evident effort to command attention.

When the visit was over, and the surgeon was taking leave after the
consultation, Fitzjocelyn calmly desired to know his opinion, and kept
his eyes steadily fixed on his face, weighing the import of each word.
All depended on the subduing the inflammatory action, in the side; and
there was every reason to hope that he would have strength for the
severe treatment necessary.  There was no reason to despond.

'I understand--thank you,' said Louis.

He shut his eyes, and lay so still that Mrs. Frost trusted that he
slept; but when his father came in, they were open, and Lord
Ormersfield, bending over him, hoped he was in less pain.

'Thank you, there is not much difference.'  But the plaintive sound was
gone, the suffering was not the sole thought.

'Walby is coming with the leeches at two o'clock,' said Lord
Ormersfield: 'I reckon much on them.'

'Thank you.'  Silence again, but his face spoke a wish, and his aunt
Catharine said, 'What, my dear?'

'I should like to see Mr. Holdsworth,' said Louis, with eyes appealing
to his father.

'He has been here to inquire every day,' said the Earl, choosing
neither to refuse nor understand.  'Whenever it is not too much for
you--'

'It must be quickly, before I am weaker,' said Louis.  'Let it be
before Walby returns, father.'

'Whatever you wish, my dear--' and Lord Ormersfield, turning towards
the table, wrote a note, which Mrs. Frost offered to despatch, thinking
that her presence oppressed her elder nephew, who looked bowed down by
the intensity of grief, which, unexpressed, seemed to pervade the whole
man and weigh him to the earth: and perhaps this also struck Louis for
the first time, for, after having lain silent for some minutes, he
softly said, 'Father!'

The Earl was instantly beside him, but, instead of speaking, Louis
gazed in his face, and sighed, as he murmured, 'I was meant to have
been a comfort to you.'

'My dear boy--' began Lord Ormersfield, but he could not trust his
voice, as he saw Louis's eyes moist with tears.

'I wish I had!' he continued; 'but I have never been anything but a
care and vexation, and I see it all too late.'

'Nay, Louis,' said his father, trying to assume his usual tone of
authority, as if to prove his security, 'you must not give way to
feelings of illness.  It is weak to despond.'

'It is best to face it,' said the young man, with slow and feeble
utterance, but with no quailing of eye or voice.  'But oh, father! I
did not think you would feel it so much.  I am not worth it.'

For the Earl could neither speak nor breathe, as if smothered by one
mighty unuttered sob, and holding his son's hand between both his own,
pressed it convulsively.

'I am glad Mrs. Ponsonby is here,' said Louis; 'and you will soon find
what a nice fellow Edward Fitzjocelyn is, whom you may make just what--'

'Louis, my own boy, hush!  I cannot bear this,' cried his father, in an
accent wrung from him by excess of grief.

'I may recover,' said Louis, finding it his turn to comfort, 'and I
should like to be longer with you, to try to make up--'

'You will.  The leeches must relieve you.  Only keep up your spirits:
you have many years before you of happiness and success.'

The words brought a look of oppression over Louis's face, but it
cleared as he said, 'I am more willing to be spared those years!'

His father positively started.  'Louis, my poor boy,' he said, 'is it
really so?  I know I have seemed a cold, severe father.'

'Oh, do not say so!' exclaimed Louis; 'I have deserved far less-idle,
ungrateful, careless of your wishes.  I did not know I could pain you
so much, or I would not have done it.  You have forgiven often, say you
forgive now.'

'You have far more to forgive than I,' said the Earl.

'If I could tell you the half-waywardness, discontent, neglect, levity,
wasted time--my treatment of you only three days back. Everything
purposed--nothing done!  Oh! what a life to bring before the Judge!'
And he covered his face, but his father heard long-drawn sobs.

'Compose yourself, my dear boy,' he exclaimed, exceedingly grieved and
perplexed.  'You know there is no cause to despond; and even--even if
there were, you have no reason to distress yourself.  I can say, from
the bottom of my heart, that you have never given me cause for real
anxiety, your conduct has been exemplary, and I never saw such
attention to religion in any young man.  These are mere trifles--'

'Oh, hush, father!' exclaimed Louis.  'You are only making it worse;
you little know what I am!  If Mr. Holdsworth would come!'

'He could only tell you the same,' said his father.  'You may take
every comfort in thinking how blameless you have been, keeping so clear
of all the faults of your age.  I may not have esteemed you as you
deserved, my poor Louis; but, be assured that very few can have so
little to reproach themselves with as you have.'

Louis almost smiled.  'Poor comfort that,' he said, 'even if it were
true; but oh, father!' and there was a light in his eye, 'I had thought
of 'He hath blotted out like a cloud thy transgressions.''

'That is right.  One like you must find comfort in thinking.'

'There is comfort ineffable,' said Louis; 'but if I knew what I may
dare to take home to myself!  It is all so dim and confused.  This pain
will not let anything come connectedly.  Would you give me that little
manuscript book!'

It was given; and as the many loose leaves fell under Louis's weak
hand, his father was amazed at the mass of copies of prayers, texts,
and meditations that he had brought together; the earlier pages
containing childish prayers written in Aunt Catharine's hand. Louis's
cheeks coloured at the revelation of his hidden life, as his father put
them together for him.

'It is of no use,' he said, sadly; 'I cannot read.  Perhaps my aunt
would come and read this to me.'

'Let me,' said his father; and Louis looked pleased.

Lord Ormersfield read what was pointed out.  To him it was a glimpse of
a very new world of contrition, faith, hope, and prayer; but he saw the
uneasy expression on Louis's face give place to serenity, as one
already at home in that sphere.

'Thank you,' he said.  'That was what I wanted.  Mr. Holdsworth will
soon come, and then I don't want to say much more.  Only don't take
this too much to heart--I am not worth it; and but for you and the dear
Terrace home, I can be very glad.  If I may hope, the hope is so
bright!  Here there are so many ways of going wrong, and all I do
always fails; and yet I always tried to do Him service.  Oh, to have
all perfect!--no failure--no inconsistency--no self!  Can it be?'

'I always tried to do Him service!' Sadly and dejectedly as the words
were spoken--mournful as was the contrast between the will and the
result, this was the true cause that there was peace with Louis.
Unstable, negligent, impetuous, and weak as he had been, the one
earnest purpose had been his, guarding the heart, though not yet
controlling the judgment.  His soul was awake to the unseen, and thus
the sense of the reality of bliss ineffable, and power to take comfort
in the one great Sacrifice, came with no novelty nor strangeness.  It
was a more solemn, more painful preparation, but such as he had
habitually made, only now it was for a more perfect Festival.

His father, as much awestruck by his hopes as distressed by his
penitence, still gave himself credit for having soothed him, and went
to meet and forewarn the Vicar that poor Fitzjocelyn was inclined to
despond, and was attaching such importance to the merest, foibles in a
most innocent life, that he required the most tender and careful
encouragement.  He spoke in his usual tone of authoritative courtesy;
and then, finding that his son wished to be left alone with Mr.
Holdsworth, he went to the library to seek the only person to whom he
could bear to talk.

'Mary,' he said, 'you were right.  I have done so little to make that
poor boy of mine happy, that he does not wish for life.'

Mrs. Ponsonby looked up surprised.  'Are you sure of what he meant?'
she said.  'Was it not that this life has nothing to compare with that
which is to come?'

'But what can be more unnatural?' said the Earl.  'At his age, with
everything before him, nothing but what he felt as my harshness could
so have checked hope and enjoyment.  My poor Louis!'  And, though eye
and voice were steady and tearless, no words could express the anguish
of his under-tone.

Mrs. Ponsonby adduced instances showing that, to early youth, with
heart still untainted by the world, the joys of the Life Everlasting
have often so beamed out as to efface all that earth could promise, but
he could not be argued out of self-reproach for his own want of
sympathy, and spoke mournfully of his cold manner, sternness to small
faults, and denial of gratifications.

Mary the younger could not help rising from her corner to say, 'Indeed,
Louis said the other day that you never had denied him any personal
indulgence.'

'My dear, he never asked for personal indulgences,' said the Earl. His
further speech was interrupted by a quick step, a slow opening of the
door, and the entrance of James Frost, who grasped his outstretched
hand with a breathless inquiry.

'He is very ill--' Lord Ormersfield paused, too much oppressed to say
more.

'No better?  What did the London surgeon say? what?'

'He says there is no time to be lost in attacking the inflammation. If
we can subdue that, he may recover; but the state of the ankle weakens
him severely.  I believe myself that he is going fast,' said the Earl,
with the same despairing calmness; and James, after gazing at him to
collect his meaning, dropped into a chair, covered his face with his
hands, and sobbed aloud.

Lord Ormersfield looked on as if he almost envied the relief of the
outburst, but James's first movement was to turn on him, as if he were
neglecting his son, sharply demanding, 'Who is with him?'

'He wished to be left with Mr. Holdsworth.'

'Is it come to this!' cried James.  'Oh, why did I not come down with
him?  I might have prevented all this!'

'You could not have acted otherwise,' said the Earl, kindly.  'Your
engagement was already formed.'

'I could!' said James.  'I would not.  I thought it one of your excuses
for helping us.'

'It is vain to lament these things now,' said Lord Ormersfield.  'It is
very kind in you to have come down, and it will give him great pleasure
if he be able to see you.'

'If!'  James stammered between consternation and anger at the doubt,
and treated the Earl with a kind of implied resentment as if for
injustice suffered by Louis, but it was affecting to see his petulance
received with patience, almost with gratitude, as a proof of his
affection for Louis.  The Earl stood upright and motionless before the
fire, answering steadily, but in an almost inward voice, all the
detailed questions put by James, who, seated on one chair, with his
hands locked on the back of the other, looked keenly up to him with his
sharp black eyes, often overflowing with tears, and his voice broken by
grief.  When he had elicited that Louis had been much excited and
distressed by the thought of his failings, he burst out, 'Whatever you
may think, Lord Ormersfield, no one ever had less on his conscience!'

'I am sure of it.'

'I know of no one who would have given up his own way again and again
without a murmur, only to be called fickle.'

'Yes, it has often been so,' meekly said Lord Ormersfield.

'Fickle!' repeated James, warming with the topic, and pouring out what
had been boiling within for years.  'He was only fickle because his
standard was too high to be reached!  You thought him weak!'

'There may be weakness by nature strengthened by principle,' said Mrs.
Ponsonby.

'True,' cried Jem, who, having taken no previous notice of her, had at
first on her speaking bent his brows on her as if to extend to her the
storm he was inflicting on poor, defenceless Lord Ormersfield, 'he is
thought soft because of his easy way; but come to the point where harm
displays itself, you can't move him a step farther--though he hangs
back in such a quiet, careless fashion, that it seems as if he was only
tired of the whole concern, and so it goes down again as
changeableness.'

'You always did him justice,' said Lord Ormersfield, laying his hand on
his cousin's shoulder, but James retreated ungraciously.

'I suppose, where he saw evil, he actually took a dislike,' said Mrs.
Ponsonby.

'It is an absolute repugnance to anything bad.  You,' turning again on
the Earl, 'had an idea of his being too ready to run into all sorts of
company; but I told you there was no danger.'

'You told me I might trust to his disgust to anything unrefined or
dissipated.  You knew him best.'

'There is that about him which men, not otherwise particular, respect
as they might a woman or a child.  They never show themselves in their
true colours, and I have known him uphold them because he has never
seen their worst side!'

'I have always thought he learnt that peculiar refinement from your
grandmother.'

'I think,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, softly, 'that it is purity of heart
which makes him see heaven so bright.'

'Sydney Calcott walked part of the way with me,' continued Jem, 'and
showed more feeling than I thought was in him.  He said just what I do,
that he never saw any one to whom evil seemed so unable to cling. He
spoke of him at school--said he was the friend of all the juniors, but
too dreamy and uncertain for fellows of his own standing.  He said, at
first they did not know what to make of him, with his soft looks and
cool ways--they could not make him understand bullying, for he could
not be frightened nor put in a passion.  Only once, one great lout
tried forcing bad language on him, and then Fitzjocelyn struck him,
fought him, and was thoroughly licked, to be sure: but Calcott said it
was a moral victory--no one tried the like again--'

James was interrupted by Mr. Holdsworth's entrance.  He said a few
words apart to the Earl, who answered, with alarm, 'Not now; he has
gone through enough.'

'I told him so, but he is very anxious, and begged me to return in the
evening.'

'Thank you.  You had better join us at dinner.'

The Vicar understood Lord Ormersfield better than did James, and said,
pressing his hand, 'My Lord, it is heart-breaking, but the blessedness
is more than we can feel.'

Mrs. Ponsonby and Mary were left to try to pacify James, who was half
mad at his exclusion from the sickroom, and very angry with every hint
of resignation--abusing the treatment of the doctors, calling Mr. Walby
an old woman, and vehemently bent on prophesying the well-doing of the
patient.  Keenly sensitive, grief and suspense made him unusually
irritable; and he seemed to have no power of waiting patiently, and
trusting the event to wiser Hands.

Mrs. Ponsonby dared not entertain any such ardent wishes.  Life had not
afforded her so much joy that she should deem it the greatest good, and
all that she had heard gave her the impression that Louis was too soft
and gentle for the world's hard encounter,--most pure and innocent,
sincere and loving at present, but rather with the qualities of
childhood than of manhood, with little strength or perseverance, so
that the very dread of taint or wear made it almost a relief to think
of his freshness and sweetness being secured for ever.  Even when she
thought of his father, and shrank from such grief for him, she could
not but see a hope that this affliction might soften the heart closed
up by the first and far worse sorrow, and detach it from the interests
that had absorbed it too exclusively.  All this was her food for silent
meditation.  Mary sat reading or working beside her, paler perhaps than
her wont, and betraying that her ear caught every sound on the stairs,
but venturing no word except the most matter-of-fact remark, quietly
giving force to the more favourable symptoms.

Not till after Mr. Walby's second visit, when there was a little
respite in the hard life-and-death contest between the remedies and the
inflammation, could Mrs. Frost spare a few moments for her grandson.
She met him on the stairs--threw her arms round his neck, called him
her poor Jemmy, and hastily told him that he must not make her cry.  He
looked anxiously in her face, and told her that he must take her place,
for she was worn out.'

'No, thank you, my dear, I can rest by-and-by.'

It sounded very hopeless.

'Come, granny, you always take the bright side.'

'Who knows which is the bright side?' she said.  'Such as he are always
the first.  But there, dear Jem, I told you not to make too much of
granny--' and hastily withdrawing her hand, she gave a parting caress
to his hair as he stood on the step below her, and returned to her
charge.

It would have been an inexpressible comfort to James to have had some
one to reproach.  His own wretchedness was like a personal injury, and
an offence that he could resent would have been a positive relief.  He
was forced to get out of the way of Frampton coming up with a tray of
lemonade, and glared at him, as if even a station on the stairs were
denied, then dashed out of doors, and paced the garden, goaded by every
association the scene recalled.  It seemed a mere barbarity to deprive
him of what he now esteemed as the charm of his life--the cousin who
had been as a brother, ever seeking his sympathy, never offended by his
sharp, imperious temper, and though often slighted or tyrannized over,
meeting all in his own debonnaire fashion, and never forsaking the
poor, hard-working student, so that he might well feel that the world
could not offer him aught like Louis Fitzjocelyn.

He stood in the midst of the botanical garden, and, with almost
triumphant satisfaction, prognosticated that now there would be regret
that Louis's schemes had been neglected or sneered at, and when too
late, his father might feel as much sorrow as he had time for.  It was
the bitterness, not the softness of grief, in which he looked forth
into the dull blue east-windy haze deepening in the twilight, and
presently beheld something dark moving along under the orchard bank
beneath.  'Hollo! who's there?' he exclaimed, and the form, rearing
itself, disclosed young Madison, never a favourite with him, and
though, as a persecuted protege of Louis, having claims which at
another time might have softened him, coming forward at an unlucky
moment, when his irritation only wanted an object on which to discharge
itself.  It was plain that one who came skulking in the private grounds
could intend no good, and James greeted him, harshly, with 'You've no
business here!'

'I'm doing no harm,' said the boy, doggedly, for his temper was as
stubborn as James's was excitable.

'No harm! lurking here in that fashion in the dark!  You'll not make me
believe that!  Let me hear what brings you here!  The truth, mind!'

'I came to hear how Lord Fitzjocelyn is,' said Tom, with brief
bluntness and defiance.

'A likely story!  What, you came to ask the apple-trees?' and James
scornfully laughed.  'There was no back-door, I suppose!  I could
forgive you anything but such a barefaced falsehood, when you know it
was your own intolerable carelessness that was the only cause of the
accident!'

'Better say 'twas yourself!' cried Tom, hoarse with passion and shaking
all over.

The provocation was intense enough to bring back James's real principle
and self-restraint, and he spoke with more dignity.  'You seem to be
beside yourself, Madison,' he said, 'you had better go at once, before
any one finds you here.  Lord Fitzjocelyn cared for you so much, that I
should not wish for you to meet your deserts under present
circumstances.  Go!  I wish to have no more of your tongue!'

The boy was bounding off, while James walked slowly after to see him
beyond the grounds, and finding Warren the keeper, desired him to be on
the look-out.  Warren replied with the tidings that Madison had run
away from his place, and that the police were looking out for him on
the suspicion of having stolen Mr. Calcott's parcel, moralizing further
on the depravity of such doings when my young Lord was so ill, but
accounting for the whole by pronouncing poaching to be bred in the bone
of the Marksedge people.

This little scene had done Jem a great deal of good, both by the
exhalation of bitterness and by the final exertion of forbearance. He
had, indeed, been under two great fallacies on this day,--soothing
Charlotte for the grief that was not caused by Fitzjocelyn's illness,
and driving to extremity the lad brimming over with sorrow not inferior
to his own.  Little did he know what a gentle word might have done for
that poor, wild, tempestuous spirit!

Yet, James's heart smote him that evening, when, according to Louis's
earnest wish, Mr. Holdsworth came again, and they all were admitted to
the room, and he saw the feeble sign and summons to the Vicar to bend
down and listen.  'Tell poor Madison, it was wrong in me not to go to
see him.  Give him one of my books, and tell him to go on well!'

That day had been one of rapid change, and the remedies and suffering
had so exhausted Louis that he could scarcely speak, and seemed hardly
conscious who was present.  All his faculties were absorbed in the one
wish, which late in the evening was granted.  The scene was like an
epitome of his life--the large irregular room, cumbered with the
disorderly apparatus of all his multifarious pursuits, while there he
lay on his little narrow iron bed, his features so fair and colourless
as to be strangely like his mother's marble effigy--his eyes closed,
and his brows often contracted with pain, so that there was a doubt how
far his attention was free, but still with a calm, pure sweetness, that
settled down more and more, as if he were being lulled into a sleep.

'He is asleep,' Mrs. Frost said, as they all rose up.

They felt what that sleep might become.

'We might as well wish to detain a snow-wreath,' thought Mr. Holdsworth.



CHAPTER VII.

GOSSAMER.

  Chaos is come again.--Othello.


That sleep was not unto death.  When James and Mary came simultaneously
creeping to the door in the grey twilight of the morning, they heard
that there had been less pain and more rest, and gradually throughout
the day, there was a diminution of the dangerous symptoms, till the
trembling hope revived that the patient might be given back again to
life.

James was still sadly aggrieved at being forbidden the sick-room, and
exceedingly envied Lord Ormersfield's seat there.  He declared, so that
Mary doubted whether it were jest or earnest, that the Earl only
remained there because society expected it from their relative
positions, and that it must retard poor Fitzjocelyn's recovery to be
perpetually basilisked by those cold grey eyes.  Mary stood up
gallantly for the Earl, who had always been so kind to her, and, on her
mother's authority, vouched for his strong though hidden, feelings; to
which Jem replied, 'Aye! he was hiding a strong fear of being too late
for the beginning of the Session.'

'I do not think it right to impute motives,' said Mary.

'I would not, Mary, if I could help it,' said James, 'but through the
whole course of my life I have never seen a token that his lordship is
worthy of his son.  If he were an ordinary, practical, common-place
block, apt to support his dignity, he might value him, but all the
grace, peculiarity, and conventionality is a mere burthen and vexation,
utterly wasted.'

Mary knew that she was a common-place block, and did not wonder at
herself for not agreeing with James, but cherishing a strong conviction
that the father and son would now leave off rubbing against each other;
since no unprejudiced person could doubt of the strong affection of the
father, nor of the warm gratitude of the son. In spite of the asperity
with which James spoke of the Earl, she was beginning to like him
almost as much as she esteemed him.  This had not been the case in
their childhood, when he used to be praised by the elders for his
obedience to his grandmother and his progress in the Northwold Grammar
School; but was terribly overbearing with his juniors, and whether he
cuffed Louis or led him into mischief, equally distressed her.  Grown
up, he was peculiarly vif, quick and ready, unselfish in all his ways,
and warmly affectionate--very agreeable companion where his
sensitiveness was not wounded, and meriting high honour by his deeper
qualities.  Young as he was, he had already relieved his grandmother
from his own maintenance: he had turned to the utmost account his
education at the endowed school at Northwold; by sheer diligence, had
obtained, first a scholarship and then a fellowship at Oxford; and now,
by practising rigid economy, and spending his vacations in tuition, he
was enabled to send his sister to a boarding-school.  He had stolen a
few days from his pupils on hearing of Fitzjocelyn's danger, but was
forced to return as soon as the improvement became confirmed.  On the
previous day, he asked Mary to walk with him to the scene of the
accident, and they discussed the cause with more coolness than they
really felt, as they shuddered at the depth of the fall, and the size
of the stones.

James declared it all the fault of that runaway scamp, young Madison,
in whom Louis had always been deceived, and who had never been seen
since the night of his apparition in the garden.

'Poor boy! I suppose that was the reason he ran away,' said Mary.

'A very good thing, too.  He would never have been anything but a
torment to Louis.  I remember telling him he was setting the stones so
as to break the neck of some one!'

'I think it would be of more use to build them up than to settle how
they broke down,' said Mary.  'Do you think we could manage it safely?'

'A capital thought!' cried James, eagerly, and no sooner said than
done.  The two cousins set to work--procured some cement from the
bricklayer in the village, and toiled at their masonry with right
good-will as long as light and time served them, then made an
appointment to meet at half-past six next morning, and finish their
work.

When the rendezvous took place, they were rejoicing over Mrs. Frost's
report of an excellent night, and over her own happy looks, from which
James prognosticated that all her fatigue and watching had done no harm
to her vigorous frame, for which gladness was always the best cordial.
It was a joyous beginning on that spring morning, and seemed to add
fresh sparkles to the dazzling dewdrops, and double merriment to the
blackbirds and thrushes answering each other far and wide, around, as
the sun drew up the grey veil of morning mist. 'They all seem holding a
feast for his recovery!' exclaimed Mary, warming for once into poetry,
as she trudged along, leaving green footmarks in the silver dew.

'Well they may,' said James; 'for who loves them better than he?  I
grudge myself this lovely morning, when he is lying there, and my poor
Clara is caged up at that place--the two who would the most enjoy it.'

'Your going to see her will be as good as the spring morning.'

'Poor child!  I dread it!' sighed Jem.

It was his first voluntary mention of his sister.  He had always turned
the conversation when Mrs. Ponsonby or Mary had tried to inquire for
her, and Mary was glad to lead him on to say more.

'I remember her last when you were teaching her to run alone, and
letting none of us touch her, because you said she was your child, and
belonged to no one else.'

'I should not be so ungrateful, now that I am come to the sense of my
responsibility in teaching her to go alone.'

'But she has Aunt Catherine,' said Mary, thinking that he was putting
the natural guardian out of the question as much now as in the days
referred to.

'My grandmother never had to do with any girl before, and does not
profess to understand them.  She let Clara be regularly a boy in
school, at first learning the same lessons, and then teaching; and
whatever I tried to impress in the feminine line, naturally, all went
for nothing.  She is as wild as a hare, and has not a particle of a
girl about her!'

'But she is very young.'

'There it is again!  She grows so outrageously.  She is not sixteen,
and there she is taller than granny already.  It is getting quite
absurd.'

'What advice do you want on that head?'

'Seriously, it is a disadvantage, especially to that sort of girl, who
can't afford to look like a woman before her time.  Well, as she must
probably depend on herself, I looked out for as good a school as could
be had for the means, and thought I had succeeded, and that she would
be brought into some sort of shape.  Granny was ready to break her
heart, but thought it quite right.'

'Then, does it not answer?'

'That is just what I can't tell.  You have been used to schools: I wish
you could tell me whether it is a necessary evil, or Clara's own
idiosyncrasy, or peculiar to the place.'

'Whether what is?'

'Her misery!'

'Misery!  Why, there is nothing of that in her letters to my aunt.
There is not a complaint.'

'She is a brave girl, who spares granny, when she knows it would be of
no use to distress her.  Judge now, there's the sort of letter that I
get from her.'

Mary read.


'DEAREST JEMMY,--Write to me as quick as ever you can, and tell me how
Louis is; and let me come home, or I shall run mad.  It is no good
telling me to command my feelings; I am sure I would if I could, for
the girls are more detestable than ever; but what can one do when one
cannot sleep nor eat?  All the screaming and crying has got into one
bump in my throat, because I can't get it out in peace.  If I could
only shy the inkstand at the English teacher's head! or get one moment
alone and out of sight!  Let me come home.  I could at least run
messages; and it is of no use for me to stay here, for I can't learn,
and all the girls are looking at me.  If they were but boys, they would
have sense! or if I could but kick them!  This will make you angry, but
do forgive me; I can't help it, for I am so very unhappy.  Louis is as
much to me as you are, and no one ever was so kind; but I know he will
get well--I know he will; only if I knew the pain was better, and could
but hear every minute.  You need not come to fetch me; only send me a
telegraph, and one to Miss Brigham.  I have money enough for a
second-class ticket, and would come that instant.  If you saw the eyes
and heard the whispers of these girls, I am sure you would.  I should
laugh at such nonsense any other time, but now I only ask to be
wretched quietly in a corner.

              'Your affectionate, nearly crazy, sister,
                                       'CLARA FROST DYNEVOR.'


Mary might well say that there was nothing more expedient than going to
see Clara, and 'much,' said poor James, 'he should gain by that,'
especially on the head that made him most uneasy, and on which he could
only hint lightly--namely, whether the girls were 'putting nonsense in
her head.'

'If they had done her any harm, she would never have written such a
letter,' said Mary.

'True,' said Jem.  'She is a mere child, and never got that notion into
her head for a moment; but if they put it in, we are done for! Or if
the place were ever so bad, I can't remove her now, when granny is thus
occupied.  One reason why I made a point of her going to school was,
that I thought doing everything that Fitzjocelyn did was no preparation
for being a governess.'

'Oh! I hope it will not come to that!  Mr. Oliver Dynevor talks of
coming home in a very few years.'

'So few, that we shall be grey before he comes.  No; Clara and I are
not going to be bound to him for the wealth heaped up while my
grandmother was left in poverty.  We mean to be independent.'

Mary was glad to revert to Clara.

'I must do the best I can for her for the present,' said Jem,--'try to
harden her against the girls, and leave her to bear it.  Poor dear! it
makes one's heart ache!  And to have done it oneself, too! Then, in the
holidays, perhaps, you will help me to judge.  You will be her friend,
Mary; there's nothing she needs so much.  I thought she would have
found one at school but they are not the right stamp of animal.  She
has been too much thrown on Louis; and though he has made a noble thing
of her, that must come to an end, and the sooner the better.'

Certainly, it was a perplexity for a young elder brother; but there
could not but remain some simple wonder in Mary's mind whether the
obvious person, Mrs. Frost, had not better have been left to decide for
her granddaughter.

The building operations gave full occupation to the powers of the two
cousins, and in good time before breakfast, all was successfully
completed,--a hand-rail affixed, and the passage cleared out, till it
looked so creditable, as well as solid, that there was no more to wish
for but that Louis should be able to see their handiwork.

James went away in the better spirits for having been allowed to shake
Louis by the hand and exchange a few words with him.  Mary augured that
it would be the better for Clara and for the pupils.

All that further transpired from him was a cheerful letter to Mrs.
Frost, speaking of Clara as perfectly well, and beginning to
accommodate herself to her situation, and from this Mary gathered that
he was better satisfied.

The days brought gradual improvement to the patient, under Mrs. Frost's
tender nursing, and his father's constant assiduity; both of which, as
he revived, seemed to afford him the greatest pleasure, and were
requited with the utmost warmth and caressing sweetness towards his
aunt, and towards his father with ever-fresh gratitude and delight.
Lord Ormersfield was like another man, in the sick-room, whence he
never willingly absented himself for an hour.

One day, however, when he was forced to go to Northwold on business,
Louis put on a fit of coaxing importunity.  Nothing would serve him but
some of Jane Beckett's choice dried pears, in the corner of the oaken
cupboard, the key of which was in Aunt Kitty's pocket, and no one must
fetch them for him but Aunt Kitty herself, he was so absurdly earnest
and grave about them, that Jane scolded him, and Mrs. Frost saw
recovery in his arch eyes; understanding all the time that it was all
an excuse for complimenting Jane, and sending her to air herself, visit
the Faithfull sisters, and inspect the Lady of Eschalott.  So she
consented to accompany Lord Ormersfield, and leave their charge to Mrs.
Ponsonby, who found Louis quite elated at the success of his
manoeuvre--so much disposed to talk, and so solicitous for the good of
his nurses, that she ventured on a bold stroke.

His chamber was nearly as much like a lumber-room as ever; for any
attempt to clear away or disturb his possessions had seemed, in his
half-conscious condition, to excite and tease him so much, that it had
been at once relinquished.  Although the room was large, it was always
too much crowded with his goods; and the tables and chairs that had
been brought in during his illness, had added to the accumulation which
was the despair of Mrs. Beckett and Mr. Frampton. Mrs. Ponsonby thought
it was time for Louis to make a sacrifice in his turn, and ventured to
suggest that he was well enough to say where some of his things might
be bestowed; and though he winced, she persevered in representing how
unpleasant it must be to his father to live in the midst of so much
confusion.  The debonnaire expression passed over his face, as he
glanced around, saying, 'You are right. I never reflected on the
stretch of kindness it must have been.  It shall be done.  If I lose
everything, it will not be soon that I find it out.'

It evidently cost him a good deal, and Mrs. Ponsonby proposed that Mary
should come and deal with his treasures; a plan at which he caught so
eagerly, that it was decided that no time was like the present, and
Mary was called.  He could move nothing but his hands; but they were
eagerly held out in welcome: and his eyes glittered with the bright
smile that once she had feared never to see again. She felt a moisture
in her own which made her glad to turn aside to her task even while he
complimented her with an allusion to the labours of Hercules.  It did
not seem uncalled-for, when she began by raising a huge sheet of paper
that had been thrown in desperation to veil the confusion upon the
table, and which proved to be the Ordnance map of the county,
embellished with numerous streaks of paint.  'The outlines of the old
Saxon wappentakes,' said Louis: 'I was trying to make them out in blue,
and the Roman roads in red. That mark is spontaneous; it has been
against some paint.'

Which paint was found in dried swamps in saucers, while cakes of lake
and Prussian blue adhered to the drawing-board.

'The colour-box is probably in the walnut-press; but I advise you not
to irritate that yet.  Let me see that drawing, the design for the
cottages that Frampton nipped in the bud--'

'How pretty and comfortable they do look!' exclaimed Mary, pleased to
come to something that was within her sphere of comprehension. 'If they
were but finished!'

'Ah!  I thought of them when I was lying there in the dell!   Had they
been allowed to stand where I wanted them, there would have been no
lack of people going home from work; but, 'Quite impracticable' came in
my way, and I had no heart to finish the drawing.'

'What a pity!' exclaimed Mary.

'This was Richardson's veto, two degrees worse than Frampton's; and I
shall never be able to abuse Frampton again.  I have seen him in his
true light now, and never was any one more kind and considerate.  Ha,
Mary, what's that?'

'It looks like a rainbow in convulsions.'

'Now, Mary, did not I tell you that I could not laugh?  It is a diagram
to illustrate the theory of light for Clara.'

'Does she understand _that_?' cried Mary.

'Clara?  She understands anything but going to school--poor child! Yes,
burn that map of the strata,--not that--it is to be a painted window
whenever I can afford one, but I never could make money stay with me.
I never could think why--'

The _why_ was evident enough in the heterogeneous mass--crumpled
prints, blank drawing-paper, and maps heaped ruinously over and under
books, stuffed birds, geological specimens, dislocated microscopes,
pieces of Roman pavement, curiosities innumerable and indescribable;
among which roamed blotting-books, memorandum-books, four pieces of
Indian rubber, three pair of compasses, seven paper-knives, ten knives,
thirteen odd gloves, fifteen pencils, pens beyond reckoning, a purse, a
key, half a poem on the Siege of Granada, three parts of an essay upon
Spade Husbandry, the dramatis personae of a tragedy on Queen
Brunehault, scores of old letters, and the dust of three years and a
half.

Louis owned that the arrangements conduced to finding rather than
losing, and rejoiced at the disinterment of his long-lost treasures;
but either he grew weary, or the many fragments, the ghosts of departed
fancies, made him thoughtful; for he became silent, and only watched
and smiled as Mary quietly and noiselessly completed her reforms, and
arranged table and chairs for the comfort of his father and aunt.  He
thanked her warmly, and hoped that she would pursue her kind task
another day,--a permission which she justly esteemed a great testimony
to her having avoided annoying him.  It was a great amusement to him to
watch the surprised and pleased looks of his various nurses as each
came in, and a real gratification to see his father settle himself with
an air of comfort, observing that 'they were under great obligations to
Mary.'  Still, the sight of the arrangements had left a dreary,
dissatisfied feeling with Louis: it might have been caught from Mary's
involuntary look of disappointment at each incomplete commencement that
she encountered,--the multitude of undertakings hastily begun, laid
aside and neglected--nothing properly carried out.  It seemed a mere
waste of life, and dwelt on his spirits, with a weariness of himself
and his own want of steadfastness--a sense of having disappointed her
and disappointed himself, and he sighed so heavily several times, that
his aunt anxiously asked whether he were in pain.  He was, however, so
much better, that no one was to sit up with him at night--only his
father would sleep on a bed on the floor.  As he bade him good night,
Louis, for the first time, made the request that he might have his
Bible given to him, as well as his little book; and on his father
advising him not to attempt the effort of reading, he said, 'Thank you;
I think I can read my two verses: I want to take up my old habits.'

'Have you really kept up this habit constantly?' asked his father, with
wonder that Louis did not understand.

'Aunt Catharine taught it to us, he said.  'I neglected it one
half-year at school; but I grew so uncomfortable, that I began again.'

The Earl gave the little worn volume, saying, 'Yes, Louis, there has
been a thread running through your life.'

'Has there been one thread?' sadly mused Louis, as he found the weight
of the thick book too much for his weak hands, and his eyes and head
too dizzy and confused for more than one verse:--

     'I am come that they might have life,
      And that they might have it more abundantly.''

The Bible sank in his hands, and he fell into a slumber so sound and
refreshing, that when he opened his eyes in early morning, he did not
at first realize that he was not awakening to health and activity, nor
why he had an instinctive dread of moving.  He turned his eyes towards
the window, uncurtained, so that he could see the breaking dawn.  The
sky, deep blue above, faded and glowed towards the horizon into gold,
redder and more radiant below; and in the midst, fast becoming merged
in the increasing light, shone the planet Venus, in her pale, calm
brilliance.

There was repose and delight in dwelling on that fair morning sky, and
Louis lay dreamily gazing, while thoughts passed over his mind, more
defined and connected than pain and weakness had as yet permitted.
Since those hours in which he had roused his faculties to meet with
approaching death, he had been seldom awake to aught but the sensations
of the moment, and had only just become either strong enough, or
sufficiently at leisure for anything like reflection.  As he watched
the eastern reddening, he could not but revert to the feelings with
which he had believed himself at the gate of the City that needs
neither sun nor moon to lighten it, and, for the first time, he
consciously realized that he was restored to this world of life.

The sensation was not unmixed.  His youthful spirit bounded at the
prospect of returning vigour, his warm heart clung round those whom he
loved, and the perception of his numerous faults made him grateful for
a longer probation; but still he had a sense of having been at the
borders of the glorious Land, and thence turned back to a tedious,
doubtful pilgrimage.

There was much to occasion this state of mind.  His life had been
without great troubles, but with many mortifications; he had never been
long satisfied with himself or his pursuits, his ardour had only been
the prelude to vexation and self-abasement, and in his station in the
world there was little incentive to exertion.  He had a strong sense of
responsibility, with a temperament made up of tenderness, refinement,
and inertness, such as shrank from the career set before him.  He had
seen just enough of political life to destroy any romance of
patriotism, and to make him regard it as little more than party spirit,
and dread the hardening and deadening process on the mind.  He had a
dismal experience of his own philanthropy; and he had a conscience that
would not sit down satisfied with selfish ease, pleasure, or
intellectual pursuits.  His smooth, bright, loving temper had made him
happy; but the past was all melancholy, neglect, and futile enterprise;
he had no attaching home--no future visions; and, on the outskirts of
manhood, he shrank back from the turmoil, the temptations, and the
roughness that awaited him--nay, from the mere effort of perseverance,
and could almost have sighed to think how nearly the death-pang had
been over, and the home of Love, Life, and Light had been won for
ever:--

     'I am come that they might have life,
      And that they might have it more abundantly.'

The words returned on him, and with them what his father had said, 'You
have had a thread running through your life.'  He was in a state
between sleeping and waking, when the confines of reflection and
dreaming came very near together, and when vague impressions, hardly
noticed at the time they were made, began to tell on him without his
own conscious volition.  It was to him as if from that brightening
eastern heaven, multitudes of threads of light were floating hither and
thither, as he had often watched the gossamer undulating in the
sunshine.  Some were firm, purely white, and glistening here and there
with rainbow tints as they tended straight upwards, shining more and
more into the perfect day; but for the most part they were tangled
together in inextricable confusion, intermingled with many a broken
end, like fleeces of cobweb driven together by the autumn wind,--some
sailing aimlessly, or with shattered tangled strands-some white, some
dark, some anchored to mere leaves or sprays, some tending down to the
abyss, but all in such a perplexed maze that the eye could seldom trace
which were directed up, which downwards, which were of pure texture,
which defiled and stained.

In the abortive, unsatisfactory attempt to follow out one fluctuating
clue, not without whiteness, and heaving often upwards, but frail,
wavering, ravelled, and tangled, so that scarcely could he find one
line that held together, Louis awoke to find his father wondering that
he could sleep with the sun shining full on his face.

'It was hardly quite a dream,' said Louis, as he related it to Mrs.
Frost.

'It would make a very pretty allegory.'

'It is too real for that just now,' he said.  'It was the moral of all
my broken strands that Mary held up to me yesterday.'

'I hope you are going to do more than point your moral, my dear.  You
always were good at that.'

'I mean it,' said Louis, earnestly.  'I do not believe such an
illness--ay, or such a dream--can come for nothing.'

So back went his thoughts to the flaws in his own course; and chiefly
he bewailed his want of sympathy for his father.  Material obedience
and submission had been yielded, but, having little cause to believe
himself beloved, his heart had never been called into action so as to
soften the clashings of two essentially dissimilar characters. Instead
of rebelling, or even of murmuring, he had hid disappointment in
indifference, taken refuge in levity and versatility, and even consoled
himself by sporting with what he regarded as prejudice or unjust
displeasure.  All this cost him much regret and self-reproach at each
proof of the affection so long veiled by reserve.  Never would he have
given pain, had he guessed that his father could feel; but he had grown
up to imagine the whole man made up of politics and conventionalities,
and his new discoveries gave him at least as much contrition as
pleasure.

After long study of the debates, that morning, his father prepared to
write.  Louis asked for the paper, saying his senses would just serve
for the advertisements, but presently he made an exclamation of
surprise at beholding, in full progress, the measure which had brought
Sir Miles Oakstead to Ormersfield, one of peculiar interest to the
Earl.  His blank look of wonder amused Mrs. Ponsonby, but seemed
somewhat to hurt his father.

'You did not suppose I could attend to such matters now?' he said.

'But I am so much better!'

Fearing that the habit of reserve would check any exchange of feeling,
Mrs. Ponsonby said, 'Did you fancy your father could not think of you
except upon compulsion?'

'I beg your pardon, father,' said Louis, smiling, while a tear rose to
his eyes, 'I little thought I was obstructing the business of the
nation.  What will Sir Miles do to me?'

'Sir Miles has written a most kind and gratifying letter,' said Lord
Ormersfield, 'expressing great anxiety for you, and a high opinion of
your powers.'

Louis had never heard of his own powers, except for mischief, and the
colour returned to his cheeks, as he listened to the kind and cordial
letter, written in the first shock of the tidings of the accident. He
enjoyed the pleasure it gave his father far more than the commendation
to himself; for he well knew, as he said, that 'there is something
embellishing in a catastrophe,' and he supposed 'that had driven out
the rose-coloured pastor.'

'There is always indulgence at your age,' said the Earl.  'You have
created an impression which may be of great importance to you
by-and-by.'

Louis recurred to politics.  The measure was one which approved itself
to his mind, and he showed all the interest which was usually stifled,
by such subjects being forced on him.  He was distressed at detaining
his father when his presence might be essential to the success of his
party, and the Earl could not bear to leave him while still confined to
his bed.  The little scene, so calm, and apparently so cold, seemed to
cement the attachment of father and son, by convincing Louis of the
full extent of his father's love; and his enthusiasm began to invest
the Earl's grey head with a perfect halo of wisdom slighted and
affection injured; and the tenor of his thread of life shone out bright
and silvery before him, spun out of projects of devoting heart and soul
to his father's happiness, and meriting his fondness.

The grave Earl was looking through a magnifying-glass no less powerful.
He had not been so happy since his marriage; the consciousness of his
own cold manner made him grateful for any demonstration from his son,
and the many little graces of look and manner which Louis had inherited
from his mother added to the charm. The sense of previous injustice
enhanced all his good qualities, and it was easy to believe him
perfect, while nothing was required of him but to lie still.  Day and
night did Lord Ormersfield wait upon him, grudging every moment spent
away from him, and trying to forestall each wish, till he became almost
afraid to express a desire, on account of the trouble it would cause.
Mary found the Earl one day wandering among the vines in the old
hothouse, in search of a flower, when, to her amusement, he selected a
stiff pert double hyacinth, the special aversion of his son, who
nevertheless received it most graciously, and would fain have concealed
the headache caused by the scent, until Mrs. Frost privately abstracted
it.  Another day, he went, unasked, to hasten the birdstuffer in
finishing the rose-coloured pastor; and when it came, himself brought
it up-stairs, unpacked it, and set it up where Louis could best admire
its black nodding crest and pink wings; unaware that to his son it
seemed a memento of his own misdeeds--a perpetual lesson against
wayward carelessness.

'It is like a new love,' said Mrs. Ponsonby; 'but oh! how much depends
upon Louis after his recovery!'

'You don't mistrust his goodness now, mamma!'

'I could not bear to do so.  I believe I was thinking of his father
more than of himself.  After having been so much struck by his
religious feeling, I dread nothing so much as his father finding him
deficient in manliness or strength of character.'



CHAPTER VIII.

A TRUANT DISPOSITION.

  Gathering up each broken thread.
                             WHYTEHEAD.


'Tom Madison is come back,' said the Vicar, as he sat beside
Fitzjocelyn's couch, a day or two after Lord Ormersfield had gone to
London.

'Come back--where has he been?' exclaimed Louis.

'There!' said the Vicar, with a gesture of dismay; 'I forgot that you
were to hear nothing of it!  However, I should think you were well
enough to support the communication.'

'What is it?' cried Louis, the blood rushing into his cheeks so
suddenly, that Mr. Holdsworth felt guilty of having disregarded the
precautions that he had fancied exaggerated by the fond aunt.  'Poor
fellow--he has not--' but, checking himself, he added, 'I am
particularly anxious to hear of him.'

'I wish there were anything more gratifying to tell you; but he took
the opportunity of the height of your illness to run away from his
place, and has just been passed home to his parish.  After all your
pains, it is very mortifying, but--'

'Pains!  Don't you know how I neglected him latterly!' said Louis.
'Poor fellow--then--' but he stopped himself again, and added, 'You
heard nothing of the grounds?'

'They were not difficult to find,' said Mr. Holdsworth.  'It is the old
story.  He was, as Mrs. Smith told me, 'a great trial'--more and more
disposed to be saucy and disobedient, taking up with the most
good-for-nothing boys in the town, haunting those Chartist lectures,
and never coming home in proper time at night.  The very last evening,
he had come in at eleven o'clock, and when his master rebuked him, came
out with something about the rights of man.  He was sent to Little
Northwold, about the middle of the day, to carry home some
silver-handled knives of Mr. Calcott's, and returned no more. Smith
fancied, at first, that he had made off with the plate, and set the
police after him, but that proved to be an overhasty measure, for the
parcel had been safely left.  However, Miss Faithfull's servant found
him frightening Mrs. Frost's poor little kitchen-maid into fits, and
the next day James Frost detected him lurking suspiciously about the
garden here, and set Warren to warn him off--'

Louis gave a kind of groan, and struck his hand against the couch in
despair, then said, anxiously, 'What then?'

'No more was heard of him, till yesterday the police passed him home to
the Union as a vagabond.  He looks very ill and ragged; but he is in
one of those sullen moods, when no one can get a word out of him. Smith
declines prosecuting for running away, being only too glad of the
riddance on any terms; so there he is at his grandfather's, ready for
any sort of mischief.'

'Mr. Holdsworth,' said Louis, raising himself on his elbow, 'you are
judging, like every one else, from appearances.  If I were at liberty
to tell the whole, you would see what a noble nature it was that I
trifled with; and they have been hounding--Poor Tom! would it have been
better for him that I had never seen him?  It is a fearful thing, this
blind treading about among souls, not knowing whether one does good or
harm!'

'If you feel so,' said Mr. Holdsworth, hoping to lead him from the
unfortunate subject, 'what must _we_ do?'

'My position, if I live, seems to have as much power for evil, without
the supernatural power for good.  Doing hastily, or leaving undone, are
equally fatal!'

'Nay, what hope can there be but in fear, and sense of responsibility?'

'I think not.  I do more mischief than those who do not go out of their
way to think of the matter at all!'

'Do you!' said the Vicar, smiling.  'At least, I know, for my own part,
I prefer all the trouble and perplexity you give me, to a squire who
would let me and my parish jog on our own way.'

'I dare say young Brewster never spoilt a Tom Madison.'

'The sight of self indulgence spoils more than injudicious care does.
Besides, I look on these experiments as giving experience.'

'Nice experience of my best efforts!'

'Pardon me, Fitzjocelyn, have we seen your best?'

'I hope you will!' said Louis, vigorously.  'And to begin, will you
tell this poor boy to come to me?'

Mr. Holdsworth had an unmitigated sense of his own indiscretion, and
not such a high one of Fitzjocelyn's discretion as to make him think
the interview sufficiently desirable for the culprit, to justify the
possible mischief to the adviser, whose wisdom and folly were equally
perplexing, and who would surely be either disappointed or deceived.
Dissuasions and arguments, however, failed; and Mrs. Frost, who was
appealed to as a last resource, no sooner found that her patient's
heart was set on the meeting, than she consented, and persuaded Mr.
Holdsworth that no harm would ensue equal to the evil of her boy lying
there distressing himself.

Accordingly, in due time, Mr. Holdsworth admitted the lad, and, on a
sign from Louis, shut himself out, leaving the runaway standing within
the door, a monument of surly embarrassment.  Raising himself, Louis
said, affectionately, 'Never mind, Tom, don't you see how fast I am
getting over it?'

The lad looked up, but apparently saw little such assurance in the thin
pale cheeks, and feeble, recumbent form; for his face twitched all
over, resumed the same sullen stolidity, and was bent down again.

'Come near, Tom,' continued Louis, with unabated kindness--'come and
sit down here.  I am afraid you have suffered a great deal,' as the boy
shambled with an awkward footsore gait.  'It was a great pity you ran
away.'

'I couldn't stay!' burst out Tom, half crying.

'Why not?'

'Not to have that there cast in my teeth!' he exclaimed, with blunt
incivility.

'Did any one reproach you?' said Louis, anxiously.  'I thought no one
knew it but ourselves.'

'You knew it, then, my Lord?' asked Tom, staring.

'I found out directly that there was no cement,' said Louis.  'I had
suspected it before, and intended to examine whenever I had time.'

'Well!  I thought, when I came back, no one did seem to guess as 'twas
all along of me!' cried Tom.  'So sure I thought you hadn't known it,
my Lord.  And you never said nothing, my Lord!'

'I trust not.  I would not consciously have accused you of what was
quite as much my fault as yours.  That would not have been fair play.'

'If I won't give it to Bill Bettesworth!' cried Tom.

'What has he done?'

'Always telling me that gentlefolks hadn't got no notion of fair play
with the like of us, but held us like the dirt to be trampled on! But
there--I'll let him know--'

'Who is he?'

'A young man what works with Mr. Smith,' returned Tom, his sullenness
having given place to a frank, open manner, such as any one but Louis
would have deemed too free and ready.

'Was he your great friend at Northwold?'

'A chap must speak to some one,' was Tom's answer.

'And what kind of a some one was he?'

'Why, he comes down Illershall way.  He knows a thing or two, and can
go on like an orator or a play-book--or like yourself, my Lord.'

'Thank you.  I hope the thing or two were of the right sort.'

Tom looked sheepish.

'I heard something about bad companions.  I hope he was not one.  I
ought to have come and visited you, Tom; I have been very sorry I did
not.  You'd better let me hear all about it, for I fear there must have
been worse scrapes than this of the stones.'

'Worse!' cried Tom--'sure nothing could be worserer!'

'I wish there were no evils worse than careless forgetfulness,' said
Louis.

'I didn't forget!' said Tom.  'I meant to have told you whenever you
came to see me, but'--his eyes filled and his voice began to
alter--'you never came, and she at the Terrace wouldn't look at me!
And Bill and the rest of them was always at me, asking when I expected
my aristocrat, and jeering me 'cause I'd said you wasn't like the rest
of 'em.  So then I thought I'd have my liberty too, and show I didn't
care no more than they, and spite you all.'

'How little one thinks of the grievous harm a little selfish
heedlessness may do!' sighed Louis, half aloud.  'If you had only
looked to something better than me, Tom!  And so you ran into mischief?'

Half confession, half vindication ensued, and the poor fellow's story
was manifest enough.  His faults had been unsteadiness and misplaced
independence rather than any of the more degrading stamp of evils. The
public-house had not been sought for liquor's sake, but for that of the
orator who inflamed the crude imaginations and aspirations that
effervesced in the youth's mind; and the rudely-exercised authority of
master and foreman had only driven his fierce temper further astray.
With sense of right sufficient to be dissatisfied with himself, and
taste and principle just enough developed to loathe the evils round
him, hardened and soured by Louis's neglect, and rendered discontented
by Chartist preachers, he had come to long for any sort of change or
break; and the tidings of the accident, coupled with the hard words
which he knew himself to deserve but too well, had put the finishing
stroke.

Hearing that the police were in pursuit of him, he had fancied it was
on account of the harm done by his negligence.  'I hid about for a
day,' he said: 'somehow I felt as if I could not go far off, till I
heard how you were, my Lord, and I'd made up my mind that as soon as
ever I heard the first stroke of the bell, I'd go and find the police,
and his Lordship might hang me, and glad!'

Louis was nearer a tear than a smile.

'Then Mr. Frost finds me, and was mad at me.  Nothing wasn't bad enough
for me, and he sets Mr. Warren to see me off, so I had nothing for it
but to cut.'

'What did you think of doing?' sighed Louis.

'I made for the sea.  If I could have got to them places in the Indies,
such as that Philip went to, as you reads about in the verse-book--he
as killed his wife and lost his son, and made friends with that there
big rascal, and had the chest of gold--'

'Philip Mortham!  Were you going in search of buccaneers?'

'I don't know, my Lord.  Once you told me of some English Sir, as kills
the pirates, and is some sort of a king.  I thought, may be, now you'd
tell me where they goes to dig for gold.'

'Oh, Tom, Tom, what a mess I have made of your notions!'

'Isn't there no such place?'

'It's a bad business, and what can you want of it?'

'I want to get shut of them as orders one about here and there, with
never a civil word.  Besides,' looking down, 'there's one I'd like to
see live like a lady.'

'Would that make her happier?'

'I'll never see her put about, and slave and drudge, as poor mother
did!' exclaimed Tom.

'That's a better spirit than the mere dislike to a master,' said Louis.
'What is life but obedience?'

'I'd obey fast enough, if folk would only speak like you do--not drive
one about like a dog, when one knows one is every bit as good as they.'

'I'm sure I never knew that!'

Tom stared broadly.

'I never saw the person who was not my superior,' repeated Louis,
quietly, and in full earnest.  'Not that this would make rough words
pleasanter, I suppose.  The only cure I could ever see for the ills of
the world is, that each should heartily respect his neighbour.'

Paradoxes musingly uttered, and flying over his head, wore to Tom a
natural and comfortable atmosphere; and the conversation proceeded.
Louis found that geography had been as much at fault as chronology, and
that the runaway had found himself not at the sea, but at Illershall,
where he had applied for work, and had taken a great fancy to Mr.
Dobbs, but had been rejected for want of a character, since the good
superintendent made it his rule to keep up a high standard among his
men.  Wandering had succeeded, in which, moneyless, forlorn, and unable
to find employment, he had been obliged to part with portions of his
clothing to procure food; his strength began to give way, and he had
been found by the police sleeping under a hedge; he was questioned, and
sent home, crestfallen, sullen, and miserable, unwilling to stay at
Marksedge, yet not knowing where to go.

His hankering was for Illershall, and Louis, thinking of the judicious
care, the evening school, and the openings for promotion, decided at
once that the experiment should be tried without loss of time.  He
desired Tom to bring him ink and paper, and hastily wrote:


'DEAR MR. DOBBS,--You would do me a great kindness by employing this
poor fellow, and bearing with him.  I have managed him very ill, but he
would reward any care.  Have an eye to him, and put him in
communication with the chaplain.  If you can take him, I will write
more at length.  If you have heard of my accident, you will excuse more
at present.

                            'Yours very truly,
                                   'FITZJOCELYN.'


Then arose the question, how Tom was to get to Illershall.  He did not
know; and Louis directed his search into the places where the loose
money in his pocket might have been put.  When it was found, Tom
scrupled at the proposed half-sovereign.  Three-and-fourpence would pay
for his ticket.  'You will want a supper and a bed.  Go respectably,
Tom, and keep so. It will be some consolation for the mischief I have
done you!'

'You done me harm!' cried Tom.  'Why, 'tis all along of you that I
ain't a regularly-built scamp!'

'Very irregularly built, whatever you are!' said Louis.  But I'll tell
you what you shall do for me,' continued he, with anxious earnestness.
'Do you know the hollow ash-tree that shades over Inglewood stile?  It
has a stout sucker, with a honeysuckle grown into it--coming up among
the moss, where the great white vase-shaped funguses grew up in the
autumn.'

'I know him, my Lord,' said Tom, brightening at the detail, given with
all a sick man's vivid remembrance of the out-of-doors world.

'I have fixed my mind on that stick!  I think it has a bend at the
root.  Will you cut it for me, and trim it up for a walking-stick?'

'That I will, my Lord!'

'Thank you.  Bring it up to me between seven and eight in the morning,
if you please; and so I shall see you again--'

Mr. Holdsworth was already entering to close the conversation, which
had been already over-long and exciting, for Louis, sinking back,
mournfully exclaimed, 'The medley of that poor boy's mind is the worst
of my pieces of work.  I have made him too refined for one class, and
left him too rough for another--discontented with his station, and too
desultory and insubordinate to rise, nobleness of nature turning to
arrogance, fact and fiction all mixed up together. It would be a study,
if one was not so sorry!'

Nevertheless, Mr. Holdsworth could not understand how even Fitzjocelyn
could have given the lad a recommendation, and he would have
remonstrated, but that the long interview had already been sufficiently
trying; so he did his best to have faith in his eccentric friend's good
intentions.

In the early morning, Tom Madison made his appearance, in his best
clothes, erect and open-faced, a strong contrast to the jaded, downcast
being who had yesterday presented himself.  The stick was prepared to
perfection, and Louis acknowledged it with gratitude proportioned to
the fancies that he had spent on it, poising it, feeling the cool grey
bark, and raising himself in bed to try how he should lean on it.
'Hang it up there, Tom, within my reach.  It seems like a beginning of
independence.'

'I wish, my Lord,' blurted out Tom, in agitation, 'you'd tell me if
you're to go lame for life, and then I should know the worst of it.'

'I suspect no one knows either the worst or the best,' said Louis,
kindly.  'Since the pain has gone off, I have been content, and asked
no questions.  Mr. Walby says my ankle is going on so well, that it is
a real picture, and a pleasure to touch it; and though I can't say the
pleasure is mutual, I ought to be satisfied.'

'You'll only laugh at me!' half sobbed Tom, 'and if there was but
anything I could do!  I've wished my own legs was cut off--and serve me
right--ever since I seen you lying there.'

'Thank you; I'm afraid they would have been no use to me!  But,
seriously, if I had been moderately prudent, it would not have
happened.  And as it is, I hope I shall be glad of that roll in Ferny
dell to the end of my life.'

'I did go to see after mending them stones!' cried Tom, as if injured
by losing this one compensation; 'but they are all done up, and there
ain't nothing to do to them.'

'Look here, Tom: if you want to do anything for me, it is easily told,
what would be the greatest boon to me.  They tell me I've spoilt you,
and I partly believe it, for I put more of my own fancies into you than
of real good, and the way I treated you made you impatient of control:
and then, because I could not keep you on as I should have wished,--as,
unluckily, you and I were not made to live together on a desert
island,--I left you without the little help I might have given.  Now,
Tom, if you go to the bad, I shall know it is all my fault--'

'That it ain't,' the boy tried to say, eagerly, but Louis went on.

'Don't let my bad management be the ruin of you.  Take a turn from this
moment.  You know Who can help you, and Who, if you had thought of Him,
would have kept you straight when I forgot.  Put all the stuff out of
your head about one man being equal to another.  Equal they are; but
some have the trial of ruling, others of obeying, and the last are the
lucky ones.  If we could only see their souls, we should know it.
You'll find evening schools and lectures at Illershall; you'd better
take to them, for you've more real liking for that sort of thing than
for mischief; and if you finished up your education, you'd get into a
line that would make you happier, and where you might do much good.
There--promise me that you'll think of these things, and take heed to
your Sundays.'

'I promise,' said Tom.

'And mind you write to me, Tom, and tell how you get on.  I'll write,
and let you know about your grandfather, and Marksedge news and all--'

The 'Thank you, my Lord,' came with great pleasure and alacrity.

'Some day, when you are a foreman, perhaps I may bring Miss Clara to
see copper-smelting.  Only mind, that you'll never go on soundly, nor
even be fit to make your pretty tidy nest for any gentle bird, unless
you mind one thing most of all; and that is, that we have had a new
Life given us, and we have to begin now, and live it for ever and ever.'

As he raised himself, holding out his pale, slender hand from his white
sleeve, his clear blue eyes earnestly fixed on the sky, his face all
one onward look, something of that sense of the unseen passed into the
confused, turbulent spirit of the boy, very susceptible of poetical
impressions, and his young lord's countenance connected itself with all
the floating notions left in his mind by parable or allegory.  He did
not speak, as Louis heartily shook his hardy red hand, and bade him
good speed, but his bow and pulled forelock at the door had in them
more of real reverence than of conventional courtesy.

Of tastes and perceptions above his breeding, the very sense of his own
deficiencies had made him still more rugged and clownish, and removed
him from the sympathies of his own class, while he almost idolized the
two most refined beings whom he knew, Lord Fitzjocelyn and Charlotte
Arnold.  On an interview with her, his heart was set. He had taken
leave of his half-childish grandfather, made up his bundle, and marched
into Northwold, with three hours still to spare ere the starting of the
parliamentary train.  Sympathy, hope, resolution, and the sense of
respectability had made another man of him; and, above all, he dwelt on
the prospect held out of repairing the deficiencies of his learning.
The consciousness of ignorance and awkwardness was very painful, and he
longed to rub it off, and take the place for which he felt his powers.
'I will work!' thought he; 'I have a will to it, and, please God, when
I come back next, it won't be as a rough, ignorant lout that I'll stand
before Charlotte!'



'Louis,' said Mary Ponsonby, as she sat at work beside him that
afternoon, after an expedition to the new house at Dynevor Terrace, 'I
want to know, if you please, how you have been acting like a gentleman.'

'I did not know that I had been acting at all of late.'

'I could not help hearing something in Aunt Catharine's garden that has
made me very curious.'

'Ha!' cried Louis, eagerly.

'I was sowing some annuals in our back garden, and heard voices through
the trellis.  Presently I heard, quite loud, 'My young Lord has behaved
like a real gentleman, as he is, and no mistake, or I'd never have been
here now.'  And, presently, 'I've promised him, and I promise you,
Charlotte, to keep my Church, and have no more to do with them things.
I'll keep it as sacred as they keeps the Temperance pledge; for sure
I'm bound to him, as he forgave me, and kept my secret as if I'd been
his own brother: and when I've proved it, won't that satisfy you,
Charlotte?'

'And what did Charlotte say?'

'I think she was crying; but I thought listening any more would be
unfair, so I ran upstairs and threw up the drawing-room window to warn
them.'

'Oh, Mary, how unfeeling!'

'I thought it could be doing no good!'

'That is so like prudent people, who can allow no true love under five
hundred pounds a year!  Did you see them?  How did they look?'

'Charlotte was standing in an attitude, her hands clasped over her
broom.  The gentleman was a country-looking boy--'

'Bearing himself like a sensible, pugnacious cock-robin?  Poor fellow,
so you marred their parting.'

'Charlotte flew into the house, and the boy walked off up the garden.
Was he your Madison, Louis? for I thought my aunt did not think it
right to encourage him about her house.'

'And so he is to be thwarted in what would best raise and refine him.
That great, bright leading star of a well-placed affection is not to be
allowed to help him through all the storms and quicksands in his way.'

Good Mary might well open her eyes, but, pondering a little, she said,
'He need not leave off liking Charlotte, if that is to do him good; but
I suppose the question is, what is safest for her?'

'Well, he is safe enough.  He is gone to Illershall to earn her.'

'Oh! then I don't care!  But you have not answered me, and I think I
can guess the boy's secret that you have been keeping.  Did you not
once tell me that you trusted those stones in Ferny dell to him?'

'Now, Mary, you must keep his secret!'

'But why was it made one?  Did you think it unkind to say that it was
his fault?'

'Of course I did.  When I thought it was all over with me, I could not
go and charge the poor fellow with it, so as to make him a marked man.
I was only afraid that thinking so often of stopping myself, I should
bring it out by mistake.'

Mary looked down, and thought; then raised her eyes suddenly, and said,
as if surprised, 'That was really very noble in you, Louis!' Then,
thinking on, she said, 'But how few people would think it worth while!'

'Yes,' said Louis; 'but I had a real regard for this poor fellow, and
an instinct, perhaps perverse, of shielding him; so I could not accuse
him on my own account.  Besides, I believe I am far more guilty towards
him.  His neglect only hurt my ankle--my neglect left him to fall into
temptation.'

'Yet, by the way he talks of you--'

'Yes, he has the sort of generous disposition on which a little
delicacy makes a thousand times more impression than a whole pile of
benefits I hope and trust that he is going to repair all that is past.
I wish I could make out whether good intentions overrule errors in
detail, or only make them more fatal.'

Mary was glad to reason out the question.  Abstract practical views
interested her, and she had much depth and observation, more original
than if she had read more and thought less.  Of course, no conclusion
was arrived at; but the two cousins had an argument of much enjoyment
and some advantage to both.

Affairs glided on quietly till the Saturday, when Lord Ormersfield
returned.  Never had he so truly known what it was to come home as when
he mounted the stairs, with steps unlike his usual measured tread, and
beheld his son's look of animated welcome, and eager, outstretched
hands.

'I was afraid,' said the Earl, presently, 'that you had not felt so
well,' and he touched his own upper lip to indicate that the same
feature in his son was covered with down like a young bird.

Louis blushed a little, but spoke indifferently.  'I thought it a pity
not to leave it for the regulation moustache for the Yeomanry.'

'I wish I could think you likely to be fit to go out with the Yeomanry.'

'Every effort must be made!' cried Louis.  'What do they say in London
about the invasion?'

It was the year 1847, when a French invasion was in every one's mouth,
and Sydney Calcott had been retailing all sorts of facts about
war-steamers and artillery, in a visit to Fitzjocelyn, whose patriotism
had forthwith run mad, so that he looked quite baffled when his father
coolly set the whole down as 'the regular ten years' panic.'  There was
a fervid glow within him of awe, courage, and enterprise, the outward
symbol of which was that infant yellow moustache.  He was obliged,
however, to allow the subject to be dismissed, while his father told
him of Sir Miles Oakstead's kind inquiries, and gave a message of
greeting from his aunt Lady Conway, delivering himself of it as an
unpleasant duty, and adding, as he turned to Mrs. Ponsonby, 'She
desired to be remembered to you, Mary.'

'I have not seen her for many years.  Is Sir Walter alive?'

'No; he died about three years ago.'

'I suppose her daughters are not come out yet?'

'Her own are in the school-room; but there is a step-daughter who is
much admired.'

'Those cousins of mine,' exclaimed Louis, 'it is strange that I have
never seen them.  I think I had better employ some of my spare time
this summer in making their acquaintance.'

Mrs. Ponsonby perceived that the Earl had become inspired with a deadly
terror of the handsome stepdaughter; for he turned aside and began to
unpack a parcel.  It was M'Culloch's Natural Theology, into which Louis
had once dipped at Mr. Calcott's, and had expressed a wish to read it.
His father had taken some pains to procure this too-scarce book for
him, and he seized on it with delighted and surprised gratitude,
plunging at once into the middle, and reading aloud a most eloquent
passage upon electricity.  No beauty, however, could atone to Lord
Ormersfield for the outrage upon method.  'If you would oblige me,
Louis,' he said, 'you would read that book consecutively.'

'To oblige you, certainly,' said Louis, smiling, and turning to the
first page, but his vivacious eagerness was extinguished.

M'Culloch is not an author to be thoroughly read without a strong
effort.  His gems are of the purest ray, but they lie embedded in a
hard crust of reasoning and disquisition; and on the first morning,
Louis, barely strong enough yet for a battle with his own volatility,
looked, and owned himself, dead beat by the first chapter.

Mary took pity on him.  She had been much interested by his account of
the work, and would be delighted if he would read it with her. He
brightened at once, and the regular habit began, greatly to their
mutual enjoyment.  Mary liked the argument, Louis liked explaining it;
and the flood of allusions was delightful to both, with his richness of
illustration, and Mary's actual experience of ocean and mountains.  She
brought him whatever books he wanted, and from the benevolent view of
entertaining him while a prisoner, came to be more interested than her
mother had ever expected to see her in anything literary.  It was
amusing to see the two cousins unconsciously educating each other--the
one learning expansion, the other concentration, of mind.  Mary could
now thoroughly trust Louis's goodness, and therefore began by bearing
with his vagaries, and gradually tracing the grain of wisdom that was
usually at their root; and her eyes were opened to new worlds, where
all was not evil or uninteresting that Aunt Melicent distrusted.  Louis
made her teach him Spanish; and his insight into grammar and keen
delight in the majestic language and rich literature infected her,
while he was amused by her positive distaste to anything incomplete,
and playfully, though half murmuringly, submitted to his 'good
governess,' and let her keep him in excellent order.  She knew where
all his property was, and, in her quaint, straightforward way, would
refuse to give him whatever 'was not good for him.'

It was all to oblige Mary that, when he could sit up and use pen and
pencil, he set to work to finish his cottage plans, and soon drew and
talked himself into a vehement condition about Marksedge.  Mary's
patronage drew on the work, even to hasty learning of perspective
enough for a pretty elevation intelligible to the unlearned, and a
hopeless calculation of the expense.

The plans lay on the table when next his father came home, and their
interest was explained.

'Did you draw all these yourself?' exclaimed the Earl.  'Where did you
learn architectural drawing?  I should have thought them done by a
professional hand.'

'It is easy enough to get it up from books,' said Louis; 'and Mary kept
me to the point, in case you should be willing to consider the matter.
I would have written out the estimate; but this book allows for bricks,
and we could use the stone at Inglewood more cheaply, to say nothing of
beauty.'

'Well,' said Lord Ormersfield, considering, 'you have every right to
have a voice in the management of the property.  I should like to hear
your views with regard to these cottages.'

Colouring deeply, and with earnest thanks, Fitzjocelyn stated the
injury both to labourers and employers, caused by their distance from
their work; he explained where he thought the buildings ought to stand,
and was even guarded enough to show that the rents would justify the
outlay.  He had considered the matter so much, that he could even have
encountered Richardson; and his father was only afraid that what was so
plausible _must_ be insecure.  Caution contended with a real desire to
gratify his son, and to find him in the right.  He must know the wishes
of the farmer, be sure of the cost, and be certain of the spot
intended.  His crippled means had estranged him from duties that he
could not fulfil according to his wishes, and, though not a hard
landlord, he had no intercourse with his tenants, took little interest
in his estate, and was such a stranger to the localities, that Louis
could not make him understand the nook selected for the buildings.  He
had seen the arable field called 'Great Courtiers,' and the farm called
'Small Profits,' on the map, but did not know their ups and downs much
better than the coast of China.

'Mary knows them!' said Louis.  'She made all my measurements there,
before I planned the gardens.'

'Mary seems to be a good friend to your designs,' said the Earl,
looking kindly at her.

'The best!' said Louis.  'I begin to have some hope of my doings when I
see her take them in hand.'

Lord Ormersfield thanked Mary, and asked whether it would be
trespassing too much on her kindness to ask her to show him the place
in question.  She was delighted, and they set out at once, the Earl
almost overpowering her by his exceeding graciousness, so that she was
nearly ready to laugh when he complimented her on knowing her way
through the bye-paths of his own park so much better than he did. 'It
is a great pleasure to me that you can feel it something like home,' he
said.

'I was so happy here as a child,' said Mary, heartily, 'that it must
seem to me more of a home than any other place.'

'I hope it may always be so, my dear.'

He checked himself, as if he had been about to speak even more warmly;
and Mary did the honours of the proposed site for the cottages, a waste
strip fronting a parish lane, open to the south, and looking full of
capabilities, all of which she pointed out after Louis's well-learned
lesson, as eagerly as if it had been her own affair.

Lord Ormersfield gave due force to all, but still was prudent.  'I must
find out,' he said, 'whether this place be in my hands, or included in
Morris's lease.  You see, Mary, this is an encumbered property, with
every disadvantage, so that I cannot always act as you and Louis would
wish; but we so far see our way out of our difficulties, that, if
guided by good sense, he will be able to effect far more than I have
ever done.'

'I believe,' was Mary's answer, 'this green is in the farmer's hands,
but that he has no use for it.'

'I should like to be certain of his wishes.  Farmers are so unwilling
to increase the rates, that I should not like to consent till I know
that it would be really a convenience to him.'

Mary suggested that there stood the farmhouse; and the Earl
apologetically asked if she would dislike their proceeding thither, as
he would not detain her long.  She eagerly declared that Louis would be
'so glad,' and Lord Ormersfield turned his steps to the door, where he
had only been once in his life, when he was a very young man, trying to
like shooting.

The round-eyed little maid would say nothing but 'Walk in, sir,' in
answer to inquiries if Mr. Norris were at home; and they walked into a
parlour, chill with closed windows, and as stiff and fine as the lilac
streamers of the cap that Mrs. Norris had just put on for their
reception.  Nevertheless, she was a sensible, well-mannered woman, and
after explaining that her husband was close at hand, showed genuine
warmth and interest in inquiring for Lord Fitzjocelyn.  As the
conversation began to flag, Mary had recourse to admiring a handsome
silver tankard on a side table.  It was the prize of a ploughing-match
eight years ago, and brought out a story that evidently always went
with it, how Mrs. Norris had been unwell and stayed at home, and had
first heard of her husband's triumph by seeing the young Lord galloping
headlong up the homefield, hurraing, and waving his cap.  He had taken
his pony the instant he heard the decision, and rushed off to be the
first to bring the news to Mrs. Norris, wild with the honour of Small
Profits.  'And,' said the farmer's wife, 'I always say Norris was as
pleased with what I told him, as I was with the tankard!'

Norris here came in, an unpretending, quiet man, of the modern,
intelligent race of farmers.  There was anxiety at first in his eye,
but it cleared off as he heard the cause of his landlord's visit, and
he was as propitious as any cautious farmer could be.  He was strong on
the present inconveniences, and agreed that it would be a great boon to
have a _few_ families brought back, such as were steady, and would not
burden the rates; but the _few_ recurred so often as to show that he
was afraid of a general migration of Marksedge.  Lord Ormersfield
thereupon promised that he should be consulted as to the individuals.

'Thank you, my Lord.  There are some families at Marksedge that one
would not wish to see nearer here; and I'll not say but I should like
to have a voice in the matter, for they are apt to take advantage of
Lord Fitzjocelyn's kindness.'

'I quite understand you.  Nothing can be more reasonable.  I only acted
because my son was persuaded it was your wish.'

'It is so, my Lord.  I am greatly obliged.  He has often talked of it
with me, and I had mentioned the matter to Mr. Richardson, but he
thought your lordship would be averse to doing anything.'

'I have not been able to do all I could have wished,' said the Earl.
'My son will have it in his power to turn more attention to the
property.'

And he _is_ a thorough farmer's friend, as they all say,' earnestly
exclaimed Norris, with warmth breaking through the civil formal manner.

'True,' said Lord Ormersfield, gratified; 'he is very much attached to
the place, and all connected with it.'

'I'm sure they're the same to him,' replied the farmer.  'As an
instance, my Lord, you'll excuse it--do you see that boy driving in the
cows?  You would not look for much from him.   Well, the morning the
doctor from London came down, that boy came to his work, crying so that
I thought he was ill.  'No, master,' said he, 'but what'll ever become
of us when we've lost my young Lord?'  And he burst out again, fit to
break his heart.  I told him I was sorry enough myself, but to go to
his work, for crying would do no good.  'I can't help it, master,' says
he, 'when I looks at the pigs.  Didn't he find 'em all in the park, and
me nutting--and helped me his own self to drive 'em out before Mr.
Warren see 'em, and lifted the little pigs over the gap as tender as if
they were Christians?'

'Yes, that's the way with them all,' interposed Mrs. Norris: 'he has
the good word of high and low.'

Lord Ormersfield smiled: he smiled better than he used to do, and took
leave.

'Fitzjocelyn will be a popular man,' he said.

Mary could not help being diverted at this moral deduced from the
pig-story.  'Every one is fond of him,' was all she said.

'Talent and popularity,' continued the Earl.  'He will have great
influence.  The free, prepossessing manner is a great advantage, where
it is so natural and devoid of effort.'

'It comes of his loving every one,' said Mary, almost indignantly.

'It is a decided advantage,' continued the Earl, complacently.  'I have
no doubt but that he has every endowment requisite for success. You and
your mother have done much in developing his character, my dear; and I
see every reason to hope that the same influence continued will produce
the most beneficial results.'

Mary thought this a magnificent compliment, even considering that no
one but her mamma had succeeded in teaching Louis to read when a little
boy, or in making him persevere in anything now: but then, when Lord
Ormersfield did pay a compliment, it was always in the style of Louis
XIV.



CHAPTER IX.

THE FAMILY COMPACT.

     Who, nurst with tender care,
  And to domestic bounds confined,
     Was still a wild Jack-hare
                            COWPER.


'Mary,' said Mrs. Frost.

Mrs. Ponsonby was sitting by the open window of the library, inhaling
the pleasant scents of July.  Raising her eyes, she saw her aunt gazing
at her with a look somewhat perplexed, but brim full of mischievous
frolic.  However, the question was only--'Where is that boy?'

'He is gone down with Mary to his cottage-building.'

'Oh! if Mary is with him, I don't care,' said Aunt Catharine, sitting
down to her knitting; but her ball seemed restless, and while she
pursued it, she broke out into a little laugh, and exclaimed, 'I beg
your pardon, my dear, but I cannot help it.  I never heard anything so
funny!'

'As this scheme,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, with a little hesitation.

'Then you have the other side of it in your letter,' cried Mrs. Frost,
giving way to her merriment.  'The Arabian Nights themselves, the two
viziers laying their heads together, and sending home orders to us to
make up the match!'

'My letter does not go so far,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, amused, but anxious.

'Yours is the lady's side.  My orders are precise.  Oliver has talked
it over with Mr. Ponsonby, and finds the connexion would be agreeable;
so he issues a decree that his nephew, Roland Dynevor--(poor Jem--he
would not know himself!)--should enter on no profession, but forthwith
pay his addresses to Miss Ponsonby, since he will shortly be in a
position befitting the heir of our family!'

'You leave Prince Roland in happy ignorance,' said Mrs. Ponsonby,
blushing a little.

'Certainly--or he would fly off like a sky-rocket at the first symptom
of the princess.'

'Then I think we need not alter our plans.  All that Mary's father
tells me is, that he does not intend to return home as yet, though his
successor is appointed, since he is much occupied by this new
partnership with Oliver, and expects that the investment will be
successful.  He quite approves of our living at the Terrace, especially
as he thinks I ought to be informed that Oliver has declared his
intentions with regard to his nephew, and so if anything should arise
between the young people, I am not to discourage it.'

'Mary is in request,' said Mrs. Frost, slyly, and as she met Mrs.
Ponsonby's eyes full of uneasy inquiry.  'You don't mean that you have
not observed at least his elder lordship's most decided courtship?
Don't be too innocent, my dear.'

'Pray don't say so, Aunt Kitty, or you will make me uncomfortable in
staying here.  If the like ever crossed his mind, he must perceive that
the two are just what we were together ourselves.'

'That might make him wish it the more,' Aunt Catharine had almost said,
but she restrained it halfway, and said, 'Louis is hardly come to the
time of life for a grande passion.'

'True.  He is wonderfully young, and Mary not only seems much older,
but is by no means the girl to attract a mere youth.  I rather suspect
she will have no courtship but from the elders.'

'In spite of her opportunities.  What would some mammas--Lord
Ormersfield's bugbear, for instance, Lady Conway--give for such a
chance!  Three months of a lame young Lord, and such a lame young Lord
as my Louis!'

'I might have feared,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, 'if Mary were not so
perfectly simple.  Aunt Melicent managed to abstract all romance, and I
never regretted it so little.  She has looked after him merely because
it came in her way as a form of kindness, and is too much his governess
for anything of the other sort.'

'So you really do not wish for the other sort?' said Mrs. Frost, half
mortified, as if it were a slight to her boy.

'I don't know how her father might take it,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, eager
to disarm, her.  'With his grand expectations, and his view of the
state of this property, he might make difficulties.  He is fond of
expressing his contempt for needy nobility, and I am afraid, after all
that has passed, that this would be the last case in which he would
make an exception.'

'Yet you say he is fond of Mary.'

'Very fond.  If anything would triumph over his dislike, it would be
his affection for her, but I had rather my poor Mary had not to put it
to the proof.  And, after all, I don't think it the safest way for a
marriage, that the man should be the most attractive, and the woman the
most--'

'Sensible!  Say it, Mary--that is the charm in my nephew's eyes.'

'Your great-nephew is the point!  No, no, Aunt Kitty; you are under a
delusion.  The kindness to Mary is no more than 'auld lang-syne,' and
because he thinks her too impossible.  He cannot afford for his son to
marry anything but a grand unquestionable heiress.  Mary's fortune,
besides, depending on speculations, would be nothing to what Lady
Fitzjocelyn ought to have.'

'For shame!  I think better of him.  I believe he would be unworldly
when Louis's happiness was concerned.'

'To return to James,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, decidedly: 'I am glad that
his uncle should have declared his intentions.'

'Oh, my dear, we are quite used to that.  I am only glad that Jem takes
no heed.  We have had enough of that!--for my own part,' and the tears
arose, 'I never expect that poor Oliver will think he has done enough
in my lifetime.  These things do so grow on a man!  If I had but kept
him at home!'

'It might have been the same.'

'There would have been something to divide his attention.  His brother
used to be a sort of idol; he seemed to love him the more for his
quiet, easy ways, and to delight in waiting on him.  I do believe he
delays, because he cannot bear to come home without Henry!'

Mrs. Ponsonby preferred most topics to that of Mrs. Frost's sons, and
was relieved by the sight of the young people returning across the
lawn--Fitzjocelyn with his ash stick, but owing a good deal of support
to Mary's firm, well-knit arm.  They showed well together: even
lameness could not disfigure the grace of his leisurely movements; and
the bright changefulness and delicacy of his face contrasted well with
the placid nobleness of her composed expression, while her complexion
was heightened and her eyes lighted by exercise, so that she was almost
handsome.  She certainly had been looking uncommonly well lately.  Was
this the way they were to walk together through life?

But Mrs. Ponsonby had known little of married life save the troubles,
and she was doubly anxious for her daughter's sake.  She exceedingly
feared unformed characters, and natures that had no root in themselves.
Mary's husband must not lean on her for strength.

She was glad, as with new meaning, she watched their proceedings, to
see how easily, and as a matter of course, Louis let Mary bring his
footstool and his slipper, fetch his books, each at the proper time,
read Spanish with him, and make him look out the words in the
dictionary when he knew them by intuition, remind him of orders to be
written for his buildings, and manage him as her pupil.  If she ruled,
it was with perfect calmness and simplicity, and the playfulness was
that of brother and sister, not even with the coquettish intimacy of
cousinhood.

The field was decidedly open to Roland Dynevor, alias James Frost.

Mrs. Ponsonby was loth to contemplate that contingency, though in all
obedience, she exposed her daughter to the infection.  He was expected
on that afternoon, bringing his sister with him, for he had not
withstood the united voices that entreated him to become Fitzjocelyn's
tutor during the vacation, and the whole party had promised to remain
for the present as guests at Ormersfield.

Louis, in high spirits, offered to drive Mrs. Ponsonby to meet the
travellers at the station; and much did he inflict on her poor
shattered nerves by the way.  He took no servant, that there might be
the more room, and perched aloft on the driving seat, he could only use
his indefatigable tongue by leaning back with his head turned round to
her.  She kept a sharp lookout ahead; but all her warnings of coming
perils only caused him to give a moment's attention to the horses and
the reins, before he again turned backwards to resume his discourse.
In the town, his head was more in the right direction, for he was
nodding and returning greetings every moment; he seemed to have a
bowing acquaintance with all the world, and when he drew up at the
station, reached down several times to shake hands with figures whom
his father would barely have acknowledged; exchanging good-humoured
inquiries or congratulations with almost every third person.

Scarcely had the train dashed up before Mrs. Ponsonby was startled by a
shout of 'He's there himself!  Louis!  Louis!' and felt, as well as
saw, the springing ascent to the box of a tall apparition, in a scanty
lilac cotton dress, an outgrown black mantle, and a brown straw bonnet,
scarcely confining an overprofusion of fair hair. Louis let go the
reins to catch hold of both hands, and cry, 'Well, old Giraffe! what
have you done with Jem?'

'Seeing to the luggage!  You won't let him turn me out!  I must sit
here!'

'You must have manners,' said Louis; 'look round, and speak rationally
to Mrs. Ponsonby.'

'I never saw she was there!' and slightly colouring, the 'Giraffe'
erected her length, turned round a small insignificant face slightly
freckled, with hazel eyes, as light as if they had been grey; and
stretched down a hand to be shaken by her new relation, but she was
chiefly bent on retaining her elevation.

'There, Jem!' she cried exultingly, as he came forth, followed by the
trunks and portmanteaus.

'Madcap!' he said; 'but I suppose the first day of the holidays must be
privileged.  Ha! Fitzjocelyn, you're the right man in the right place,
whatever Clara is.'

So they drove off, James sitting by Mrs. Ponsonby, and taking care to
inform her that, in spite of her preposterous height, Clara was only
sixteen, he began to ask anxious questions as to Fitzjocelyn's
recovery, while she looked up at the pair in front, and thought, from
the appearance of things, that even Louis's tongue was more than
rivalled, for the newcomer seemed to say a sentence in the time he took
in saying a word.  Poor Mrs. Ponsonby! she would not have been happier
had she known in which pair of hands the reins were!

'And Louis! how are you?' cried Clara, as soon as this point had been
gained; 'are you able to walk?'

'After a fashion.'

'And does your ankle hurt you?'

'Only if I work it too hard.  One would think that lounging had become
a virtue instead of a vice, to hear the way I am treated.'

'You look--' began Clara.  'But oh, Louis!' cried she, in a sort of
hesitating wonder, 'what! a moustache?'

'Don't say a word:' he lowered his voice.  'Riding is against orders,
but I cannot miss the Yeomanry, under the present aspect of affairs.'

'The invasion!  A man in the train was talking of the war steamers, but
Jem laughed.  Do you believe in it?'

'It is a time when a display of loyalty and national spirit may turn
the scale.  I am resolved to let no trifle prevent me from doing my
part,' he said, colouring with enthusiasm.

'You are quite right,' cried Clara.  'You ought to take your vassals,
like a feudal chief!   I am sure the defence of one's country ought to
outweigh everything.'

'Exactly so.  Our volunteer forces are our strength and glory, and are
a happy meeting of all classes in the common cause.  But say nothing,
Clara, or granny will take alarm, and get an edict from Walby against
me.'

'Dear granny!  But I wish we were going home to the Terrace.'

'Thank you.  How flattering!'

'You would be always in and out, and it would be so much more
comfortable.  Is Lord Ormersfield at home?'

'No, he will not come till legislation can bear London no longer.'

'Oh!'--with a sound of great relief.

'You don't know how kind he has been,' said Louis, eagerly.  'You will
find it out when you are in the house with him.'

Clara laughed, but sighed.  'I think we should have had more fun at
home.'

'What! than with me for your host?  Try what I can do.  Besides, you
overlook Mary.'

'But she has been at school!'

'Well!'

'I didn't bargain for school-girls at home!'

'I should not have classed Mary in that category.'

'Don't ask me to endure any one who has been at school!  Oh, Louis! if
you could only guess--if you would only speak to Jem not to send me
back to that place--'

'Aunt Kitty will not consent, I am sure, if you are really unhappy
there, my poor Clara.'

'No! no! I am ordered not to tell granny.  It would only vex her, and
Jem says it must be.   I don't want her to be vexed, and if I tell you,
I may be able to keep it in!'

Out poured the whole flood of troubles, unequal in magnitude, but most
trying to the high-spirited girl.  Formal walks, silent meals, set
manners, perpetual French, were a severe trial, but far worse was the
companionship.  Petty vanities, small disputes, fretful jealousies,
insincere tricks, and sentimental secrets, seemed to Clara a great deal
more contemptible than the ignorance, indolence, abrupt manners and
boyish tastes which brought her into constant disgrace--and there
seemed to be one perpetual chafing and contradiction, which made her
miserable.  And a further confidence could not help following, though
with a warning that Jem must not hear it, for she did not mind, and he
spent every farthing on her that he could afford.  She had been teased
about her dress, told that her friends were mean and shabby, and
rejected as a walking companion, because she had no parasol, and that
was vulgar.

'I am sure I wanted to walk with none of them,' said Clara, 'and when
our English governess advised me to get one, I told her I would give in
to no such nonsense, for only vulgar people cared about them. Such a
scrape I got into!   Well, then Miss Salter, whose father is a knight,
and who thinks herself the great lady of the school, always bridled
whenever she saw me, and, at last, Lucy Raynor came whispering up, to
beg that I would contradict that my grandmamma kept a school, for Miss
Salter was so very particular.'

'I should like to have heard your contradiction.'

'I never would whisper, least of all to Lucy Raynor, so I stood up in
the midst, and said, as clear as I could, that my grandmother had
always earned an honest livelihood by teaching little boys, and that I
meant to do the same, for nothing would ever make me have anything to
do with girls.'

'That spoilt it,' said Louis--'the first half was dignified.'

'What was the second?'

'Human nature,' said Louis.

'I see,' said Clara.  'Well, they were famously scandalized, and that
was all very nice, for they let me alone.  But you brought far worse on
me, Louis.'

'I!'

'Ay!  'Twas my own fault, though, but I couldn't help it.  You must
know, they all are ready to bow down to the ninety-ninth part of a
Lord's little finger; and Miss Brown--that's the teacher--always reads
all the fashionable intelligence as if it were the Arabian Nights, and
imparts little bits to Miss Salter and her pets; and so it was that I
heard, whispered across the table, the dreadful accident to Viscount
Fitzjocelyn!'

'Did nobody write to you?'

'Yes--I had a letter from granny, and another from Jem by the next
morning's post, or I don't know what I should have done.  Granny was
too busy to write at first; I didn't three parts believe it before, but
there was no keeping in at that first moment.'

'What did you do?'

'I gave one great scream, and flew at the newspaper.  The worst was,
that I had to explain, and then--oh! it was enough to make one sick.
Why had I not said I was Lord Ormersfield's cousin?  I turned into a
fine aristocratic-looking girl on the spot!  Miss Salter came and
fondled, and wanted me to walk with her!'

'Of course; she had compassion on your distress--amiable feeling!'

'She only wanted to ask ridiculous questions, whether you were
handsome.'

'What did you reply?'

'I told them not a word, except that my brother was going to be your
tutor.  When I saw Miss Salter setting off by this line, I made Jem
take second-class tickets, that she might be ashamed of me.'

'My dear Giraffe, bend down your neck, and don't take such a
commonplace, conventional view of your schoolfellows.'

'Conventional! ay, all agree because they know it by experience,' said
Clara--'I'm sure I do!'

'Then take the other side--see the best.'

'Jem says you go too far, and are unreasonable with your theory of
making the best of every one.'

'By no means.  I always made the worst of Frampton, and now I know what
injustice I did him.  I never saw greater kindness and unselfishness
than he has shown me.'

'I should like to know what best you would make of these girls!'

'You have to try that!'

'Can I get any possible good by staying?'

'A vast deal.'

'I'm sure Italian, and music, and drawing, are not a good compared with
truth, and honour, and kindness.'

'All those things only grow by staying wherever we may happen to be,
unless it is by our own fault.'

'Tell me what good you mean!'

'Learning not to hate, learning to mend your gloves.  Don't jerk the
reins, Clara, or you'll get me into a scrape.'

Clara could extract no more, nor did she wish it, for having relieved
her mind by the overflow, she only wanted to forget her misfortunes.
Her cousin Louis was her chief companion, they had always felt
themselves on the same level of nonsense, and had unreservedly shared
each other's confidences and projects; and ten thousand bits of
intelligence were discussed with mutual ardour, while Clara's ecstasy
became uncontrollable as she felt herself coming nearer to her
grandmother.  She finally descended with a bound almost as distressing
to her brother as her ascent had been, and leapt at once to the embrace
of Mrs. Frost, who stood there, petting, kissing her, and playfully
threatening all sorts of means to stop her growth. Clara reared up her
giraffe figure, boasting of having overtopped all the world present,
except Louis!  She made but a cold, abrupt response to her cousin
Mary's greeting, and presently rushed upstairs in search of dear old
Jane, with an impetus that made Mrs. Frost sigh, and say, 'Poor child!
how happy she is;' and follow her, smiling, while James looked annoyed.

'Never mind, Jem,' said Louis, who had thrown himself at full length on
the sofa, 'she deserves compensation.  Let it fizz.'

'And undo everything!  What do you say to that, Mary?'

'Mary is to say nothing,' said Louis, 'I mean that poor child to have
her swing.'

'I shall leave you and James to settle that,' said Mary, quitting them.

'I am very anxious that Clara should form a friendship with Mary,' said
James, gravely.

'Friendships can't be crammed down people's throats,' said Louis, in a
weary indifferent tone.

'You who have been three months with Mary--!'

'Mary and I did not meet with labels round our necks that here were a
pair of friends.  Pray do you mean to send that victim of yours back to
school?'

'Don't set her against it.  I have been telling her of the necessity
all the way home.'

'Is it not to be taken into consideration that a bad--not to say a
base-style of girl seems to prevail there?'

'I can't help it, Fitzjocelyn,' cried Jem, ruffling up his hair, as he
always did when vexed.  'Girls fit to be her companions don't go to
school--or to no school within my means.  This place has sound
superiors, and she _must_ be provided with a marketable stock of
accomplishments, so there's no choice.  I can trust her not to forget
that she is a Dynevor.'

'Query as to the benefit of that recollection.'

'What do you mean?'

'That I never saw evils lessened by private self-exaltation.'

'Very philosophical! but as a matter of fact, what was it but the sense
of my birth that kept me out of all the mischief I was exposed to at
the Grammar School!'

'I always thought it had been something more respectable,' said Louis,
his voice growing more sleepy.

'Pshaw!  Primary motives being understood, secondary stand common wear
the best.'

'As long as they don't eat into the primary.'

'The long and short of it is,' exclaimed James, impatiently, 'that we
must have no nonsense about Clara.  It is pain enough to me to inflict
all this on her, but I would not do it, if I thought it were more than
mere discomfort.  Her principles are fixed, she is above these
trumperies.  But you have the sense to see that her whole welfare may
depend on whether she gets fitted to be a valuable accomplished
governess or a mere bonne, tossed about among nursery-maids.  There's
where poverty galls!  Don't go and set my grandmother on!  If she grew
wretched and took Clara away, it would be mere condemning of her to
rudeness and struggling!'

'Very well,' said Louis, as James concluded the brief sentences,
uttered in the bitterness of his heart, 'one bargain I make.  If I am
to hold my tongue about school, I will have my own way with her in the
holidays.'

'I tell you, Louis, that it is time to have done with childishness.
Clara is growing up--I _won't_ have you encourage her in all that wild
flightiness--I didn't want to have had her here at all!  If she is ever
to be a reasonable, conformable woman, it is high time to begin.  I
can't have you undoing the work of six months! when Mary might make
some hand of her, too--'

James stopped.  Louis's eyes were shut, and he appeared to be
completely asleep.  If silence were acquiescence, it was at least
gained; and so he went away, and on returning, intended to impress his
lessons of reserve on Clara and her grandmother, but was prevented by
finding Mrs. Ponsonby and her daughter already in the library,
consulting over some letters, while Clara sat at her grandmother's knee
in the full felicity of hearing all the Northwold news.

The tea was brought in, and there was an inquiry for Louis.  He came
slowly forward from the sofa at the dark end of the room, but
disclaimed, of course, the accusation of fatigue.

'A very bad sign,' said James, 'that you have been there all this time
without our finding it out.  Decidedly, you have taken me in. You don't
look half as well as you promised.  You are not the same colour ten
minutes together, just now white, and now--how you redden!'

'Don't, Jem!' cried Louis, as each observation renewed the tide of
burning crimson in his cheek.  'It is like whistling to a turkey-cock.
If I had but the blue variety, it might be more comfortable, as well as
more interesting.'

Clara went into a choking paroxysm of laughter, which her brother tried
to moderate by a look, and Louis rendered more convulsive by quoting

     'Marked you his cheek of heavenly blue,'

and looked with a mischievous amusement at James's ill-suppressed
displeasure at the merriment that knew no bounds, till even Mrs. Frost,
who had laughed at first as much at James's distress as at Louis's
travestie or Clara's fun, thought it time to check it by saying, 'You
are right, Jem, he is not half so strong as he thinks himself.  You
must keep him in good order.'

'Take care, Aunt Kitty,' said Louis; 'you'll make me restive.  A tutor
and governess both!  I appeal!  Shall we endure it, Clara?'

'Britons never shall be slaves!' was the eager response.

'Worthy of the daughter of the Pendragons,' said Louis; 'but it lost
half its effect from being stifled with laughing.  You should command
yourself, Clara, when you utter a sentiment.  I beg to repeat Miss
Frost Dynevor's novel and striking speech, and declare my adhesion,
'Britons never shall be slaves!'  Liberty, fraternity, and equality!
Tyrants, beware!'

'You ungrateful boy!' said Mrs. Frost; 'that's the way you use your
good governess!'

'Only the way the nineteenth century treats all its good governesses,'
said Louis.

'When it gets past them,' said Mary, smiling.  'I hope you did not
think I was not ready to give you up to your tutor?'

Mary found the renunciation more complete than perhaps she had
expected.  The return of his cousins had made Fitzjocelyn a different
creature.  He did indeed read with James for two hours every morning,
but this was his whole concession to discipline; otherwise he was more
wayward and desultory than ever, and seemed bent on teazing James, and
amusing himself by making Clara extravagantly wild and idle.  Tired of
his long confinement, he threw off all prudence with regard to health,
as well as all struggle with his volatile habits; and the more he was
scolded, the more he seemed to delight in making meekly ridiculous
answers and going his own way.  Sometimes he and Clara would make an
appointment, at some unearthly hour, to see Mrs. Morris make cheese, or
to find the sun-dew blossom open, or to sketch some effect of morning
sun.  Louis would afterwards be tired and unhinged the whole day, but
never convinced, only capable of promoting Clara's chatter; and ready
the next day to stand about with her in the sun at the cottages, to the
increase of her freckles, and the detriment of his ankle.  Their
frolics would have been more comprehensible had she been more
attractive; but her boisterous spirits were not engaging to any one but
Louis, who seemed to enjoy them in proportion to her brother's
annoyance, and to let himself down into nearly equal folly.

He gave some slight explanation to Mary, one day when he had been
reminded of one of their former occupations--'Ah! I have no time for
that now.  You see there's nobody else to protect that poor Giraffe
from being too rational.'

'Is that her great danger?' said Mary.

'Take my advice, Mary, let her alone.  Follow your own judgment, and
not poor Jem's fidgets.  He wants to be 'father, mother both, and
uncle, all in one,' and so he misses his natural vocation of elder
brother.  He wants to make a woman of her before her time; and now he
has his way with her at school, he shall let her have a little
compensation at home.'

'Is this good for her?  Is it the only way she can be happy?'

'It is her way, at least; and if you knew the penance she undergoes at
school, you would not grudge it to her.  She is under his orders not to
disclose the secrets of her prison-house, lest they should disquiet
Aunt Catharine; and she will not turn to you, because--I beg your
pardon, Mary--she has imbibed a distrust of all school-girls; and
besides, Jem has gone and insisted on your being her friend more than
human nature can stand.'

'It is a great pity,' said Mary, smiling, but grieved; 'I should not
have been able to do her much good--but if I could only try!'

'I'll tell you,' said Louis, coming near, with a look between
confidence and embarrassment; 'is it in the power of woman to make her
dress look rather more like other people's without inflaming the blood
of the Dynevors--cautiously, you know?  Even my father does not dare to
give her half-a-sovereign for pocket-money; but do ask your mother if
she could not be made such that those girls should not make her their
laughingstock.'

'You don't mean it!'

'Aye, I do; and she has not even told James, lest he should wish to
spend more upon her.  She glories in it, but that is hardly wholesome.'

'Then she told you?'

'Oh, yes!  We always were brothers!  It is great fun to have her here!
I always wished it, and I'm glad it has come before they have made her
get out of the boy.  He will be father to the woman some day; and that
will be soon enough, without teasing her.'

Mary wished to ask whether all this were for Clara's good, but she
could not very well put such a question to him; and, after all, it was
noticeable that, noisy and unguarded as Clara's chatter was, there
never was anything that in itself should not have been said: though her
manner with Louis was unceremonious, it was never flirting; and
refinement of mind was as evident in her rough-and-ready manner as in
his high-bred quietness.  This seemed to account for Mrs. Frost's
non-interference, which at first amazed her niece; but Aunt Catharine's
element was chiefly with boys, and her love for Clara, though very
great, showed itself chiefly in still regarding her as a mere child,
petting her to atone for the privations of school, and while she might
assent to the propriety of James's restrictions, always laughing or
looking aside when they were eluded.

James argued and remonstrated.  He said a great deal, always had the
advantage in vehemence, and appeared to reduce Louis to a condition of
quaint debonnaire indifference; and warfare seemed the normal state of
the cousins, the one fiery and sensitive, the other cool and impassive,
and yet as appropriate to each other as the pepper and the cucumber, to
borrow a bon mot from their neighbour, Sydney Calcott.

If Jem came to Mary brimful of annoyance with Louis's folly, a mild
word of assent was sufficient to make him turn round and do battle with
the imaginary enemy who was always depreciating Fitzjocelyn.  To make
up for Clara's avoidance of Mary, he rendered her his prime counsellor,
and many an hour was spent in pacing up and down the garden in the
summer twilight; while she did her best to pacify him by suggesting
that thorough relaxation would give spirits and patience for Clara's
next half year, and that it might be wiser not to overstrain his own
undefined authority, while the lawful power, Aunt Catharine, did not
interfere.  Surely she might safely be trusted to watch over her own
granddaughter; and while Clara was so perfectly simple, and Louis such
as he was, more evil than good might result from inculcating reserve.
At any rate, it was hard to meddle with the poor child's few weeks of
happiness, and to this James always agreed; and then he came the next
day to relieve himself by fighting the battle over again.  So
constantly did this occur, that Aunt Kitty, in her love of mischief,
whispered to Mrs. Ponsonby that she only hoped the two viziers would
not quarrel about the three thousand sequins, three landed estates, and
three slaves.

Still, Louis's desertion had left unoccupied so many of the hours of
Mary's time that he had previously absorbed, that her mother watched
anxiously to see whether she would feel the blank.  But she treated it
as a matter of course.  She had attended to her cousin when he needed
her, and now that he had regained his former companion, Clara, she
resigned him without effort or mortification, as far as could be seen.
She was forced to fall back on other duties, furnishing the house,
working for every one, and reading some books that Louis had brought
before her.  The impulse of self-improvement had not expired with his
attention, and without any shadow of pique she was always ready to play
the friend and elder sister whenever he needed her, and to be grateful
when he shared her interests or pursuits.  So the world went till Lord
Ormersfield's return caused Clara's noise to subside so entirely, that
her brother was sufficiently at ease to be exceedingly vivacious and
entertaining, and Mrs. Ponsonby hoped for a great improvement in the
state of affairs.



CHAPTER X.

THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR.

  For who is he, whose chin is but enriched
  With one appearing hair, that will not follow
  These culled and choice-drawn cavaliers 'gainst France?
  Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege.
                                         King Henry V.


The next forenoon, Mary met James in the park, wandering in search of
his pupil, whom he had not seen since they had finished their morning's
work in the study.  Some wild freak with Clara was apprehended, but
while they were conferring, Mary exclaimed, 'What's that?' as a clatter
and clank met her ear.

'Only the men going out to join old Brewster's ridiculous yeomanry,'
said Jem.

'Oh, I should like to see them,' cried Mary, running to the top of a
bank, whence she could see into the hollow road leading from the
stables to the lodge.  Four horsemen, the sun glancing on their
helmets, were descending the road, and a fifth, at some distance ahead,
was nearly out of sight.  'Ah,' she said, 'Louis must have been seeing
them off.  How disappointed he must be not to go!'

'I wish I was sure--' said James, with a start.  'I declare his folly
is capable of anything!  Why did I not think of it sooner?'

Clara here rushed upon them with her cameleopard gallop, sending her
voice before her, 'Can you see them?'

'Scarcely,' said Mary, making room for her.

'Where's Louis'!' hastily demanded her brother.

'Gone to the yeomanry meeting,' said Clara, looking in their faces in
the exultation of producing a sensation.

James was setting off with a run to intercept him, but it was too late;
and Clara loudly laughed as she said, 'You can't catch him.'

'I've done with him!' cried James.  'Can madness go further?'

'James!  I am ashamed of you,' cried the Giraffe, with great
stateliness.  'Here are the enemy threatening our coasts, and our towns
full of disaffection and sedition; and when our yeomanry are lukewarm
enough to go off grouse-shooting instead of attending to their duty,
what is to become of the whole country if somebody does not make an
exertion?  The tranquillity of all England may depend on the face our
yeomanry show.'

'On Lieutenant Fitzjocelyn's yellow moustache!  Pray how long have you
been in the secret of these heroic intentions?'

'Ever since I came home.'

'We all knew that he meant to go out if he could,' said Mary, in a tone
calculated to soothe Jem, and diminish Clara's glory in being sole
confidante, 'but we did not think him well enough.  I hope it will do
him no harm.'

'Exertions in a good cause can do no harm!' boldly declared Clara;
then, with sudden loss of confidence, 'do you really think it will?'

'Just cripple him for life,' said James.

'Mr. Walby wished him not to attempt riding,' said Mary.  'He thinks
any strain on the ankle just now might hurt him very much; but it may
be over caution.'

'Mr. Walby is an old woman,' said Clara.  'Now, Jem, you said so
yourself.  Besides, it is all for his duty!  Of course, he would risk
anything for the good of his country.'

'Don't say another word, Clara,' exclaimed James, 'or you will drive me
distracted with your folly.  One grain of sense, and even you would
have stopped it; but neither you nor he could miss a chance of his
figuring in that masquerade dress!  Look at the sun, exactly like a
red-hot oven!  We shall have him come home as ill as ever!'

Clara had another milder and more sorrowful version of the scolding
from her grandmother, but Lord Ormersfield escaped the day's anxiety by
being so busy with Richardson, that he never emerged from the study,
and did not miss his son.

It was an exceedingly sultry day, and the hopeful trusted that Louis
would be forced to give in, before much harm could be done; but it was
not till five o'clock that the hoofs were heard on the gravel; and Jem
went out to revenge himself with irony for his uneasiness.

'I hope you are satisfied,' he said, 'dulce est pro patria mori.'

Louis was slowly dismounting, and as he touched the ground gave a
slight cry of pain, and caught at the servant's arm for support.

'No more than I expected,' said James, coming to help him; and at the
same moment Lord Ormersfield was heard exclaiming--

'Fitzjocelyn--! what imprudence!'

'Take care,' hastily interrupted James, finding Louis leaning
helplessly against him, unable to speak or stand, and his flushed cheek
rapidly changing to deadly white.

They lifted him up the steps into the hall, where he signed to be laid
down on the seat of the cool north window, and trying to smile, said
'it was only the hot sun, and his foot aching _rather_; it would soon
go off.'  And when, with much pain and difficulty, Frampton had
released his swollen foot from the regulation-boot, into which he had
foolishly thrust it, he went on more fluently.  'He had thought it his
duty, especially when Mr. Shaw, the captain of his troop, had chosen to
go away--he had believed it could do no harm--he was sure it was only a
little present discomfort, and in the present crisis--'

He addressed his aunt, but his eyes were on his father; and when he
heard not a single word from him, he suddenly ceased, and presently,
laying his head down on the window-sill, he begged that no one would
stand and watch him, he should come into the library in a few minutes.

The few minutes lasted, however, till near dinnertime, when he called
to Mary, as she was coming downstairs, and asked her to help him into
the library; he could remain no longer exposed to Frampton's pity, as
dinner went in.

He dragged himself along with more difficulty than he had found for
weeks, and sank down on the sofa with a sigh of exhaustion; while
Clara, who was alone in the room, reared herself up from an easy-chair,
where she had been sitting in an attitude that would have been despair
to her mistress.

'Ha, Clara!' said Louis, presently; 'you look as if you had been the
object of invective?'

'I don't care,' exclaimed Clara,  'I know you were in the good old
cause.'

'Conde at Jarnac, Charles XII. at Pultowa--which?' said Louis.  'I
thought of both myself--only, unluckily, I made such frightful
blunders.  I was thankful to my men for bringing me off, like other
great commanders.'

'Oh, Louis! but at least you were in your place--you set the example.'

'Unluckily, these things descend from the sublime to the other thing,
when one is done up, and beginning to doubt whether self-will cannot
sometimes wear a mask.'

'I'm sure they are all quite cross enough to you already, without your
being cross to yourself.'

'An ingenious and elegant impersonal,' said Louis.

Clara rushed out into the garden to tell the stiff old rose-trees that
if Lord Ormersfield were savage now, he would be more horrid than ever.

Meanwhile, Louis drew a long sigh, murmuring, 'Have I gone and vexed
him again?  Mary, have I been very silly?'

The half-piteous doubt and compunction had something childish, which
made her smile as she answered: 'You had better have done as you were
told.'

'The surest road to silliness,' said Louis, whose tendency was to
moralize the more, the more tired he was, 'is to think one is going to
do something fine!  It is dismal work to come out at the other end of
an illusion.'

'With a foot aching as, I am afraid, yours does.'

'I should not mind that, but that I made such horrid mistakes!'

These weighed upon his mind so much, that he went on, half aloud,
rehearsing the manoeuvres and orders in which he had failed, from the
difficulty of taking the command of his troop for the first time, when
bewildered with pain and discomfort.  The others came in, and James
looked rabid; Louis stole a glance now and then at his father, who
preserved a grave silence, while Clara stood aloof, comparing the
prostrate figure in blue and silver to all the wounded knights in
history or fiction.

He was past going in to dinner, and the party were 'civil and
melancholy,' Mrs. Frost casting beseeching looks at her grandson, who
sat visibly chafing at the gloom that rested on the Earl's brow, and
which increased at each message of refusal of everything but iced
water.  At last Mrs. Frost carried off some grapes from the dessert to
tempt him, and as she passed through the open window--her readiest way
to the library--the Earl's thanks concluded with a disconsolate murmur
'quite ill,' and 'abominable folly;' a mere soliloquy and nearly
inaudible, but sufficient spark to produce the explosion.

'Fitzjocelyn's motives deserve no such name as folly,' James cried,
with stammering eagerness.

'I know you did not encourage him,' said Lord Ormersfield.

'I did,' said a young, clear voice, raised in alarm at her own
boldness; 'Jem knew nothing of it, but I thought it right.'

Lord Ormersfield made a little courteous inclination with his head,
which annihilated Clara upon the spot.

'I doubt whether I should have done right in striving to prevent him,'
said James.  'Who can appreciate the moral effect of heroism?'

'Heroism in the cause of a silver jacket!'

'Now, that is the most unfair thing in the world!' cried James, always
most violent when he launched out with his majestic cousin. 'There is
not a man living more careless of his appearance.  You do him justice,
Mrs. Ponsonby?'

'Yes, I do not believe that vanity had anything to do with it.  A man
who would bear what he has done to-day would do far more.'

'If it had been for any reasonable cause,' said the Earl.

'You may not understand it, Lord Ormersfield,' exclaimed James, 'but I
do.  In these times of disaffection, a sound heart, and whole spirit,
in our volunteer corps may be the saving of the country; and who can
tell what may be the benefit of such an exhibition of self-sacrificing
zeal.  The time demands every man's utmost, and neither risk nor
suffering can make him flinch from his duty.'

'My dear Jem,' said a voice behind him at the window, 'I never see my
follies so plainly as when you are defending them.  Come and help me up
stairs; Granny is ordering me up; a night's rest will set all smooth.'

It was not a night's rest, neither did it set things smooth.  In vain
did Louis assume a sprightly countenance, and hold his head and
shoulders erect and stately; there was no concealing that he was very
pale, and winced at every step.  His ankle had been much hurt by the
pressure of the stirrup, and he was not strong enough to bear with
impunity severe pain, exertion, and fatigue on a burning summer day. It
was evident that his recovery had been thrown back for weeks.

His father made no reproaches, but was grievously disappointed.  His
exaggerated estimate of his son's discretion had given place to a no
less misplaced despondency, quite inaccessible to Mrs. Ponsonby's
consolations as to the spirit that had prompted the performance.  He
could have better understood a youth being unable to forego the
exhibition of a handsome person and dress, than imagine that any one of
moderate sense could either expect the invasion, or use these means of
averting it.  If imagination was to be allowed for, so much the worse.
A certain resemblance to the childish wilfulness with which his wife
had trifled with her health, occurred to him, increasing his vexation
by gloomy shadows of the past.

His silent mortification and kind anxiety went to his son's heart.
Louis was no less disappointed in himself, in finding his own judgment
as untrustworthy as ever, since the exploit that had been a perpetual
feast to his chivalrous fancy had turned out a mere piece of
self-willed imprudence, destroying all the newly-bestowed and
highly-valued good opinion of his father; and even in itself,
incompetently executed.  'He had made a fool of himself every way.'
That had been James's first dictum, and he adopted it from conviction.

In the course of the day, goodnatured, fat Sir Gilbert Brewster, the
colonel of the yeomanry, who had been seriously uneasy at his looks,
and had tried to send him home, rode over to inquire for him,
complimenting him on being 'thorough game to the last.'  Louis relieved
his mind by apologies for his blunders, whereupon he learnt that his
good colonel had never discovered them, and now only laughed at them,
and declared that they were mere trifles to what the whole corps,
officers and men, committed whenever they met, and no one cared except
one old sergeant who had been in the Light Dragoons. Louis's very
repentance for them was another piece of absurdity.  He smiled, indeed,
but seemed to give himself up as a hopeless subject. His spirits
flagged as they had not done throughout his illness, and, unwell,
languid, and depressed, he spent his days without an attempt to rally.
He was only too conscious of his own inconsistency, but he had not
energy enough to resume any of the habits that Mary had so diligently
nursed, neglected even his cottage-building, would not trouble himself
to consider the carpenter's questions, forgot messages, put off
engagements, and seemed to have only just vigour enough to be
desultory, tease James, and spoil Clara.

Lord Ormersfield became alarmed, and called in doctors, who recommended
sea air, and James suggested a secluded village on the Yorkshire coast,
where some friends had been reading in the last long vacation.  This
was to be the break-up of the party; Mrs. Frost and the two Marys would
resort to Dynevor Terrace, Clara would return to school, and James
undertook the charge of Louis, who took such exceedingly little heed to
the arrangements, that Jem indignantly told him that he cared neither
for himself nor anybody else.



CHAPTER XI.

A HALTING PROPOSAL.

  Shallow.  Will you upon good dowry, marry her?
  Slender.  I will do a greater thing than that, upon your request.
                                  Merry Wives of Windsor.


The first thing that Louis did appear to care for was a letter that
arrived about three days previous to their departure, addressed to
'Lord Fitsgosling, Hawmsfield Park, Northwold.'  Rather too personal,
as he observed, he must tell his correspondent that it hurt his
feelings.  The correspondent was Tom Madison, whose orthography lagged
behind his other attainments, if his account might be trusted of 'they
lectures on Kemistry.'  His penmanship was much improved, and he was
prospering, with hopes of promotion and higher wages, when he should
have learnt to keep accounts.  He liked Mr. Dobbs and the chaplain, and
wished to know how to send a crown per post to 'old granfer up at
Marksedge; because he is too ignorant to get a border sinned.  Please,
my lord, give my duty to him and all enquiring friends, and to Schirlt,
up at the Teras.'

Highly amused, Louis lay on the uppermost step from the library window,
in the cool summer evening, laughing over the letter. 'There, Aunt
Kitty, he said, 'I commit that tender greeting to your charge,' and as
she looked doubtful, 'Yes, do, there's a good aunt and mistress.'

'I am afraid I should not be a good mistress; I ought not to sanction
it.'

'Better sanction it above board than let it go on by stealth,' said
Louis.  'You are her natural protector.'

'So much the more reason against it!  I ought to wish her to forget
this poor boy of yours.'

'Ay, and light Hymen's torch with some thriving tallow chandler, who
would marry a domestic slave as a good speculation, without one spark
of the respectful chivalrous love that--'

'Hush! you absurd boy.'

'Well, then, if you won't, I shall go to Jane.  The young ladies are
all too cold and too prudent, but Jane has a soft spot in her heart,
and will not think true love is confined within the rank that keeps a
gig.  I did think Aunt Kitty had been above vulgar prejudices.'

'Not above being coaxed by you, you gosling, you,' said Aunt Kitty;
'only you must come out of the dew, the sun is quite gone.'

'Presently,' said Louis, as she retreated by the window.

'I would not have been too cold or too prudent!' said Clara.

'I well believe it!'

'You will be one if you are not the other,' said Mary, gathering her
work up, with the dread of one used to tropical dews.  'Are not you
coming in?'

'When I can persuade myself to write a letter of good advice, a thing I
hate.'

'Which,' asked Mary; 'giving or receiving it?'

'Receiving, of course.'--'Giving, of course,' said Clara and Louis at
the same instant.

'Take mine, then,' said Mary, 'and come out of the damp.'

'Mary is so tiresome about these things!' cried Clara, as their cousin
retreated.  'Such fidgetting nonsense.'

'I once argued it with her,' said Louis, without stirring; 'and she had
the right side, that it is often more self-denying to take care of
one's health, than to risk it for mere pleasure or heedlessness.'

'There's no dew!' said Clara; 'and if there was, it would not hurt, and
if it did, I should be too glad to catch a cold, or something to keep
me at home.  Oh, if I could only get into a nice precarious state of
health!'

'You would soon wish yourself at school, or anywhere else, so that you
could feel some life in your limbs,' half sighed Louis.

'I've more than enough!  Oh! how my feet ache to run! and my throat
feels stifled for want of making a noise, and the hatefulness of always
sitting upright, with my shoulders even!  Come, you might pity me a
little this one night, Louis: I know you do, for Jem is always telling
me not to let you set me against it.'

'No, I don't pity you.  Pity is next akin to contempt.'

'Nonsense, Louis.  Do be in earnest.'

'I have seldom seen the human being whom I could presume to pity:
certainly not you, bravely resisting folly and temptation, and with so
dear and noble a cause for working.'

'You mean, the hope of helping to maintain grandmamma.'

'Which you will never be able to do, unless you pass through this
ordeal, and qualify yourself for skilled labour.'

'I know that,' said Clara; 'but the atmosphere there seems to poison,
and take the vigour out of all they teach.  Oh, so different from
granny teaching me my notes, or Jem teaching me French--'

'Growling at you--'

'He never growled half as much as, I deserved.  I cared to learn of
him; but I don't care for anything now,--no, not for drawing, which you
taught me!  There's no heart in it!  The whole purpose is to get
amazing numbers of marks and pass each other.  All dates and words, and
gabble gabble!'

'Ay! there's an epitome of the whole world: all ambition, and vanity,
and gabble gabble,' said Louis, sadly.  'And what is a gosling, that he
should complain?'

'You don't mean that in reality.  You are always merry.

'Some mirth is because one does not always think, Clara; and when one
does think deeply enough, there is better cheerfulness.'

'Deeply enough,' said Clara.  'Ah! I see.  Knowing that the world of
gabble is not what we belong to, only a preparation?  Is that it!'

'It is what I meant.'

'Ah I but how to make that knowledge help us.'

'There's the point.  Now and then, I think I see; but then I go off on
a wrong tack: I get a silly fit, and a hopeless one, and lose my clue.
And yet, after all, there is a highway; and wayfaring men, though
fools, shall not err therein,' murmured Louis, as he gazed on the first
star of evening.

'Oh! tell me how to see my highway at school!'

'If I only kept my own at home, I might.  But you have the
advantage--you have a fixed duty, and you always have kept hold of your
purposes much better than I.'

'My purpose!' said Clara.  'I suppose that is to learn as fast as I
can, that I may get away from that place, and not be a burthen to
granny and Jem.  Perhaps Jem will marry and be poor, and then I shall
send his sons to school and college.'

'And pray what are your social duties till that time comes?'

'That's plain enough,' said Clara: 'to keep my tone from being
deteriorated by these girls.  Why, Louis, what's that for?' as, with a
bow and air of alarm, he hastily moved aside from her.

'If you are so much afraid of being deteriorated--'

'Nonsense!  If you only once saw their trumpery cabals, and vanities,
and mean equivocations, you would understand that the only thing to be
done is to keep clear of them; take the learning I am sent for, but
avoid them!'

'And where is the golden rule all this time?' said Louis, very low.

'But ought not one to keep out of what is wrong?'

'Yes, but not to stand aloof from what is not wrong.  Look out, not for
what is inferior to yourself, but what is superior.  Ah! you despair;
but, my Giraffe, will you promise me this?  Tell me, next Christmas, a
good quality for every bad one you have found in them. You shake your
head.  Nay, you must, for the credit of your sex.  I never found the
man in whom there was not something to admire, and I had rather not
suppose that women are not better than men.  Will you promise?'

'I'll try, but--'

'But, mind, it takes kind offices to bring the blossoms out.
There--that's pretty well, considering our mutual sentiments as to good
advice.'

'Have you been giving me good advice?'

'Not bad, I hope.'

'I thought only people like--like Mary--could give advice.'

'Ah! your blindness about Mary invalidates your opinion of your
schoolfellows.  It shows that you do not deserve a good friend.'

'I've got you; I want no other.'

'Quite wrong.  Not only is she full of clear, kind, solid sense, like a
pillar to lean on, but she could go into detail with you in your
troubles.  You have thrown away a great opportunity, and I am afraid I
helped you.  I shall hold you in some esteem when you are--to conclude
sententiously--worthy of her friendship.'

Clara's laugh was loud enough to bring out the Earl, to summon them
authoritatively out of the dew.  Louis sat apart, writing his letter;
Clara, now and then, hovering near, curious to hear how he had
corrected Tom's spelling.  He had not finished, when the ladies bade
him good-night; and, as he proceeded with it, his father said, 'What is
that engrossing correspondence, Louis?'

'Such a sensible letter, that I am quite ashamed of it,' said Louis.

'I wonder at the time you chose for writing, when you are so soon to
part with our guests.'

'I have no excuse, if you think it uncivil.  I never have spirit to set
about anything till the sun is down.'

His father began at once to speak softly: 'No, I intended no blame; I
only cannot but wonder to see you so much engrossed with Clara Dynevor.'

'Poor child! she wants some compensation.'

'I have no doubt of your kind intentions; but it would be safer to
consider what construction may be placed on attentions so exclusive.'

Louis looked up in blank, incredulous amazement, and then almost
laughingly exclaimed, 'Is that what you mean?  Why, she is an infant, a
baby--'

'Not in appearance--'

'You don't know her, father,' said Louis.  'I love her with all my
heart, and could not do more.  Why, she is, and always has been, my
she-younger-brother!'

'I am aware,' said the Earl, without acknowledging this peculiar
relationship, 'that this may appear very ridiculous, but experience has
shown the need of caution.  I should be concerned that your heedless
good-nature should be misconstrued, so as to cause pain and
disappointment to her, or to lead you to neglect one who has every
claim to your esteem and gratitude.'

Louis was bewildered.  'I have been a wretch lately,' he said, 'but I
did not know I had been a bear.'

'I did not mean that you could be deficient in ordinary courtesy; but I
had hoped for more than mere indifferent civility towards one eminently
calculated--' Lord Ormersfield for once failed in his period.

'Are we talking at cross purposes?' exclaimed Fitzjocelyn.  'What have
I been doing, or not doing?'

'If my meaning require explanation, it is needless to attempt any.-- Is
your ankle painful to-night?'

Not a word more, except about his health, could Louis extract, and he
went to his room in extreme perplexity.  Again and again did he revolve
those words.  Quick as were his perceptions on most points, they were
slow where self-consciousness or personal vanity might have sharpened
them; and it was new light to him that he had come to a time of life
that could attach meaning to his attentions.

Whom had he been neglecting?  What had his father been hoping?  Who was
eminently calculated, and for what?

It flashed upon him all at once.  'I see! I see!' he cried, and burst
into a laugh.

Then came consternation, or something very like it.  He did not want to
feel embarked in manhood.  And then his far-away dream of a lady-love
had been so transcendently fair, so unequalled in grace, so perfect in
accomplishments, so enthusiastic in self-devoted charity, all
undefined, floating on his imagination in misty tints of glory! That
all this should be suddenly brought down from cloudland, to sink into
Mary Ponsonby, with the honest face and downright manner for whom
romance and rapture would be positively ridiculous!

Yet the notion would not be at once dismissed.  His declaration that he
would do anything to gratify his father had been too sincere for him
lightly to turn from his suggestion, especially at a moment when he was
full of shame at his own folly, and eagerness to retain the ground he
had lost in his father's opinion, and, above all, to make him happy.
His heart thrilled and glowed as he thought of giving his father real
joy, and permanently brightening and enlivening that lonely, solitary
life.  Besides, who could so well keep the peace between him and his
father, and save him by hints and by helpfulness from giving annoyance?
He had already learnt to depend on her; she entered into all his
interests, and was a most pleasant companion--so wise and good, that
the most satisfactory days of his life had been passed under her
management, and he had only broken from it to 'play the fool.'  He was
sick of his own volatile Quixotism, and could believe it a relief to be
kept in order without trusting to his own judgment.  She had every
right to his esteem and affection, and the warm feeling he had for her
could only be strengthened by closer ties.  The unworldliness of the
project likewise weighed with him. Had she been a millionaire or a
Duke's daughter, he would not have spent one thought on the matter; but
he was touched by seeing how his father's better feelings had conquered
all desire for fortune or connexion.

And then Mary could always find everything he wanted!

'I will do it!' he determined.  'Never was son more bound to consider
his father.  Of course, she will make a much better wife than I
deserve.  Most likely, my fancies would never have been fulfilled. She
will save me from my own foolishness.  What ought a man to wish for
more than a person sure to make him good?  And--well, after all, it
cannot be for a long time.  They must write to Lima.  Perhaps they will
wait till her father's return, or at least till I have taken my degree.'

This last encouraging reflection always wound up the series that
perpetually recurred throughout that night of broken sleep; and when he
rose in the morning, he felt as if each waking had added a year to his
life, and looked at the glass to see whether he had not grown quite
elderly.

'No, indeed!  I am ridiculously youthful, especially since I shaved off
my moustache in my rage at the Yeomanry mania!  I must systematically
burn my cheeks, to look anything near her age!'  And he laughed at
himself, but ended with a long-drawn sigh.

He was in no state of mind to pause: he was tired of self-debate, and
was in haste to render the step irrevocable, and then fit himself to
it; and he betook himself at once to the study, where he astonished his
father by his commencement, with crimson cheeks--'I wished to speak to
you.  Last night I did not catch your meaning at once.'

'We will say no more about it,' was the kind answer.  'If you cannot
turn your thoughts in that direction, there is an end of the matter.'

'I think,' said Louis, 'that I could.'

'My dear boy,' said the Earl, with more eagerness than he could quite
control, 'you must not imagine that I wish to influence your
inclinations unduly; but I must confess that what I have seen for the
last few months, has convinced me that nothing could better secure your
happiness.'

'I believe so,' said Louis, gazing from the window.

'Right,' cried the Earl, with more gladness and warmth than his son had
ever seen in him;  'I am delighted that you appreciate such sterling
excellence!  Yes, Louis,' and his voice grew thick, 'there is nothing
else to trust to.'

'I know it,' said Louis.  'She is very good.  She made me very happy
when I was ill.'

'You have seen her under the most favourable circumstances.  It is the
only sort of acquaintance to be relied on.  You have consulted your own
happiness far more than if you had allowed yourself to be attracted by
mere showy gifts.'

'I am sure she will do me a great deal of good,' said Louis, still
keeping his eyes fixed on the evergreens.

'You could have done nothing to give me more pleasure!' said the Earl,
with heartfelt earnestness.  'I know what she is, and what her mother
has been to me.  That aunt of hers is a stiff, wrongheaded person, but
she has brought her up well--very well, and her mother has done the
rest.  As to her father, that is a disadvantage; but, from what I hear,
he is never likely to come home; and that is not to be weighed against
what she is herself.  Poor Mary! how rejoiced she will be, that her
daughter at least should no longer be under that man's power!  It is
well you have not been extravagant, like some young men, Louis.  If you
had been running into debt, I should not have been able to gratify your
wishes now; but the property is so nearly disencumbered, that you can
perfectly afford to marry her, with the very fair fortune she must
have, unless her father should gamble it away in Peru.'

This was for Lord Ormersfield the incoherency of joy, and Louis was
quite carried along by his delight.  The breakfast-bell rang, and the
Earl rising and drawing his son's arm within his own, pressed it,
saying, 'Bless you, Louis!' It was extreme surprise and pleasure to
Fitzjocelyn, and yet the next moment he recollected that he stood
committed.

How silent he was--how unusually gentle and gracious his father to the
whole party! quite affectionate to Mary, and not awful even to Clara.
There was far too much meaning in it, and Louis feared Mrs. Ponsonby
was seeing through all.

'A morning of Greek would be insupportable,' thought he; and yet he
felt as if the fetters of fate were being fast bound around him, when
he heard his father inviting James to ride with him.

He wandered and he watched, he spoke absently to Clara, but felt as if
robbed of a protector, when she was summoned up-stairs to attend to her
packing, and Mary remained alone, writing one of her long letters to
Lima.

'Now or never,' thought he, 'before my courage cools.  I never saw my
father in such spirits!'

He sat down on an ottoman opposite to her, and turned over some
newspapers with a restless rustling.

'Can I fetch anything for you?' asked Mary, looking up.

'No, thank you.  You are a great deal too good to me, Mary.'

'I am glad,' said Mary, absently, anxious to go on with her letter;
but, looking up again at him--'I am sure you want something.'

'No--nothing--but that you should be still more good to me.'

'What is the matter?' said Mary, suspecting that he was beginning to
repent of his lazy fit, and wanted her to hear his confession.

'I mean, Mary,' said he, rising, and speaking faster, 'if you--if you
would take charge of me altogether.  If you would have me, I would do
all I could to make you happy, and it would be such joy to my father,
and--'(rather like an after-thought)'to me.'

Her clear, sensible eyes were raised, and her colour deepened, but the
confusion was on the gentleman's side--she was too much amazed to feel
embarrassment, and there was a pause, till he added, 'I know better
than to think myself worthy of you; but you will take me in hand--and,
indeed, Mary, there is no one whom I like half so well.'

Poor Louis! was this his romantic and poetical wooing!

'Stop, if you please, Louis!' exclaimed Mary.  'This is so very
strange!'  And she seemed ready to laugh.

'And--what do you say, Mary?'

'I do not know.  I cannot tell what I ought to say,' she returned,
rising.  'Will you let me go to mamma?'

She went; and Louis roamed about restlessly, till, on the stairs, he
encountered Mrs. Frost, who instantly exclaimed, 'Why, my dear, what is
the matter with you?'

'I have been proposing to Mary,' said he, in a very low murmur, his
eyes downcast, but raised the next moment, to see the effect, as if it
had been a piece of mischief.

'Well--proposing what?'

'Myself;' most innocently whispered.

'You!--you!--Mary!--And--' Aunt Catharine was scarcely able to speak,
in the extremity of her astonishment.  'You are not in earnest!'

'She is gone to her mother,' said Louis, hanging over the baluster, so
as to look straight down into the hall; and both were silent, till Mrs.
Frost exclaimed, 'My dear, dear child, it is an excellent choice!  You
must be very happy with her!'

'Yes, I found my father was bent on it.'

'That was clear enough,' said his aunt, laughing, but resuming a tone
of some perplexity.  'Yet it takes me by surprise: I had not guessed
that you were so much attracted.'

'I do like her better than any one.  No one is so thoroughly good, no
one is likely to make me so good, nor my father so happy.'

There was some misgiving in Mrs. Frost's tone, as she said, 'Dear
Louis, you are acting on the best of motives, but--'

'Don't, pray don't, Aunt Kitty,' cried Louis, rearing himself for an
instant to look her in the face, but again throwing half his body over
the rail, and speaking low.  'I could not meet any one half so good, or
whom I know as well.  I look up to her, and--yes--I do love her
heartily--I would not have done it otherwise.  I don't care for beauty
and trash, and my father has set his heart on it.'

'Yes, but--' she hesitated.  'My dear, I don't think it safe to marry,
because one's father has set his heart on it.'

'Indeed,' said Louis, straightening himself, 'I do think I am giving
myself the best chance of being made rational and consistent.  I never
did so well as when I was under her.'

'N--n--no--but--'

'And think how my father will unbend in a homelike home, where all
should be made up to him,' he continued, deep emotion swelling his
voice.

'My dear boy!  And you are sure of your own feeling?'

'Quite sure.  Why, I never saw any one,' said he, smiling--'I never
cared for any one half so much, except you, Aunt Kitty, no, I didn't.
Won't that do?'

'I know I should not have liked your grandpapa--your uncle, I mean-to
make such comparisons.'

'Perhaps he had not got an Aunt Kitty,' said Louis.

'No, no!  I can't have you so like a novel.  No, don't be anxious. It
can't be for ever so long, and, of course, the more I am with her, the
better I must like her.  It will be all right.'

'I don't think you know anything about it,' said Mrs. Frost, 'but
there, that's the last I shall say.  You'll forgive your old aunt.'

He smiled, and playfully pressed her hand, adding, 'But we don't know
whether she will have me.'

Mary had meantime entered her mother's room, with a look that revealed
the whole to Mrs. Ponsonby, who had already been somewhat startled by
the demeanour of the father and son at breakfast.

'Oh, mamma, what is to be done?'

'What do you wish, my child?' asked her mother, putting her arm round
her waist.

'I don't know yet,' said Mary.  'It is so odd!'  And the disposition to
laugh returned for a moment.

'You were not at all prepared.'

'Oh no!  He seems so young.  And,' she added, blushing, 'I cannot tell,
but I should not have thought his ways were like the kind of thing.'

'Nor I, and the less since Clara has been here.'

'Oh,' said Mary, without a shade on her calm, sincere brow, 'he has
Clara so much with him because he is her only friend.'

The total absence of jealousy convinced Mrs. Ponsonby that the heart
could hardly have been deeply touched, but Mary continued, in a
slightly trembling voice, 'I do not see why he should have done this,
unless--'

'Unless that his father wished it.'

'Oh,' said Mary, somewhat disappointed, 'but how could Lord Ormersfield
possibly--'

'He has an exceeding dread of Louis's making as great a mistake as he
did,' said Mrs. Ponsonby; 'and perhaps he thinks you the best security.'

'And you think Louis only meant to please him?'

'My dear, I am afraid it may be so.  Louis is very fond of him, and
easily led by a strong character.'

She pressed her daughter closer, and felt rather than heard a little
sigh; but all that Mary said was, 'Then I had better not think about
it.'

'Nay, my dear, tell me first what you think of his manner.'

'It was strange, and a little debonnaire, I think,' said Mary, smiling,
but tears gathering in her eyes.  'He said I was too good for him.  He
said he would make me happy, and that he and his father would be very
happy.'  A great tear fell.  'Something about not being worthy.'  Mary
shed a few more tears, while her mother silently caressed her; and,
recovering her composure, she firmly said, 'Yes, mamma, I see it is not
the real thing.  It will be kinder to him to tell him to put it out of
his head.'

'And you, my dear?'

'Oh, mamma, you know you could not spare me.'

'If this were the real thing, dearest--'

'No,' whispered Mary, 'I could not leave you alone with papa.'

Mrs. Ponsonby went on as if she had not heard: 'As it is, I own I am
relieved that you should not wish to accept him.  I cannot be sure it
would be for your happiness.'

'I do not think it would be right,' said Mary, as if that were her
strength.

'He is a dear, noble fellow, and has the highest, purest principles and
feelings.  I can't but love him almost as if he were my own child: I
never saw so much sweetness and prettiness about any one, except his
mother; and, oh! how far superior he is to her!  But then, he is
boyish, he is weak--I am afraid he is changeable.'

'Not in his affections,' said Mary, reproachfully.

'No, but in purposes.  An impulse leads him he does not know where, and
now, I think, he is acting on excellent motives, without knowing what
he is doing.  There's no security that he might not meet the person
who--'

'Oh, mamma!'

'He would strive against temptation, but we have no right to expose him
to it.  To accept him now, it seems to me, would be taking too much
advantage of his having been left so long to our mercy, and it might
be, that he would become restless and discontented, find out that he
had not chosen for himself--regret--and have his tone of mind lowered--'

'Oh, stop, mamma, I would not let it be, on any account.'

'No, my dear, I could not part with you where we were not sure the
'real thing' was felt for you.  If he had been strongly bent on it, he
would have conducted matters differently; but he knows no better.'

'You and I don't part,' said Mary.

Neither spoke till she renewed her first question,

'What is to be done?'

'Shall I go and speak to him, my dear?'

'Perhaps I had better, if you will come with me.'

Then, hesitating--'I will go to my room for a moment, and then I shall
be able to do it more steadily.'

Mrs. Ponsonby's thoughts were anxious during the five minutes of Mary's
absence; but she returned composed, according to her promise, whatever
might be the throbbings beneath.  As Mrs. Ponsonby opened the door, she
saw Louis and his aunt together, and was almost amused at their
conscious start, the youthful speed with which the one darted into the
further end of the corridor, and the undignified haste with which the
other hopped down stairs.

By the time they reached the drawing-room, he had recovered himself so
as to come forward in a very suitable, simple manner, and Mary said, at
once, 'Louis, thank you; but we think it would be better not--'

'Not!' exclaimed Fitzjocelyn.

'Not,' repeated Mary; 'I do not think there is that between us which
would make it right.'

'There would be!' cried Louis, gaining ardour by the difficulty, 'if
you would only try.  Mrs. Ponsonby, tell her we would make her happy.'

'You would try,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, kindly; 'but I think she is right.
Indeed, Louis, you must forgive me for saying that you are hardly old
enough to make up your mind--'

'Madison is younger,' said Louis, boyishly enough to make her smile,
but earnestly proceeding, 'Won't you try me?  Will you not say that if
I can be steady and persevering--'

'No,' said Mrs. Ponsonby; 'it would not be fair towards either of you
to make any conditions.'

'But if without them, I should do better--Mary, will you say nothing?'

'We had better not think of it,' said Mary, her eyes on the ground.

'Why? is it that I am too foolish, too unworthy?'

She made a great effort.  'Not that, Louis.  Do not ask any more; it is
better not; you have done as your father wished--now let us be as we
were before.'

'My father will be very much disappointed,' said Louis, with chagrin.

'I will take care of your father,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, and as Mary took
the moment for escaping, she proceeded to say some affectionate words
of her own tender feeling towards Louis; to which he only replied by
saying, sadly, and with some mortification, 'Never mind; I know it is
quite right.  I am not worthy of her.'

'That is not the point; but I do not think you understand your own
feelings, or how far you were actuated by the wish to gratify your
father.'

'I assure you,' cried Louis, 'you do not guess how I look up to Mary;
her unfailing kindness, her entering into all my nonsense--her firm,
sound judgment, that would keep me right--and all she did for me when I
was laid up.  Oh! why cannot you believe how dear she is to me?'

'_How dear_ is just what I do believe; but still this is not enough.'

'Just what Aunt Kitty says,' said Louis, perplexed, yet amused at his
own perplexity.

'You will know better by-and-by,' she answered, smiling: 'in the
meantime, believe that you are our very dear cousin, as ever.'  And she
shook hands with him, detecting in his answering smile a little relief,
although a great deal of disappointment.

Mary had taken refuge in her room, where a great shower of tears would
have their course, though she scolded herself all the time. 'Have done!
have done!  It is best as it is.  He does not really wish it, and I
could not leave mamma.  We will never think of it again, and we will be
as happy as we were before.'

Her mother, meanwhile, was waiting below-stairs, thinking that she
should spare Louis something, by taking the initiative in speaking to
his father; and she was sorry to see the alacrity with which the Earl
came up to her, with a congratulatory 'Well, Mary!'  She could hardly
make him comprehend the real state of the case; and then his
resignation was far more trying than that of the party chiefly
concerned.  Her praise of Fitzjocelyn had little power to comfort. 'I
see how it is,' he said, calmly: 'do not try to explain it away; I
acquiesce--I have no doubt you acted wisely for your daughter.'

'Nothing would have delighted me more, if he were but a few years
older.'

'You need not tell me the poor boy's failings,' said his father, sadly.

'It is on account of no failing; but would it not be a great mistake to
risk their happiness to fulfil our own scheme?'

'I hoped to secure their happiness.'

'Ay, but is there not something too capricious to find happiness
without its own free will and choice?  Did you never hear of the heart?'

'Oh! if she be attached elsewhere'--and he seemed so much relieved,
that Mrs. Ponsonby was sorry to be obliged to contradict him in haste,
and explain that she did not believe Fitzjocelyn's heart to be yet
developed; whereupon he was again greatly vexed.  'So he has offered
himself without attachment.  I beg your pardon, Mary; I am sorry your
daughter should have been so treated.'

'Do not misunderstand me.  He is strangely youthful and simple, bent on
pleasing you, and fancying his warm, brotherly feeling to be what you
desire.'

'It would be the safest foundation.'

'Yes, if he were ten years older, and had seen the world; but in these
things he is like a child, and it would be dangerous to influence him.
Do not take it to heart; you ought to be contented, for I saw nothing
so plainly as that he loves nobody half so well as you.  Only be
patient with him.'

'You are the same Mary as ever,' he said, softened; and she left him,
hoping that she had secured a favourable audience for his son, who soon
appeared at the window, somewhat like a culprit.

'I could not help it!' he said.

'No; but you may set a noble aim before you--you may render yourself
worthy of her esteem and confidence, and in so doing you will fulfil my
fondest hopes.'

'I asked her to try me, but they would make no conditions.  I am sorry
this could not be, since you wished it.'

'If you are not sorry on your own account, there are no regrets to be
wasted on mine.'

'Candidly, father,' said Louis, 'much as I like her, I cannot be sorry
to keep my youth and liberty a little longer.'

'Then you should never have entered on the subject at all,' said Lord
Ormersfield, beginning to write a letter; and poor Louis, in his
praiseworthy effort not to be reserved with him, found he had been
confessing that he had not only been again making a fool of himself,
but, what was less frequent and less pardonable, of his father
likewise.   He limped out at the window, and was presently found by his
great-aunt, reading what he called a raving novel, to see how he ought
to have done it.  She shook her head at him, and told him that he was
not even decently concerned.

'Indeed I am,' he replied.  'I wished my father to have had some peace
of mind about me, and it does not flatter one's vanity.'

Dear, soft-hearted Aunt Kitty, with all her stores of comfort ready
prepared, and unable to forgive, or even credit, the rejection of her
Louis, without a prior attachment, gave a hint that this might be his
consolation.  He caught eagerly at the idea.  'I had never once thought
of that!  It can't be any Spaniard out in Peru--she has too much sense.
What are you looking so funny about?  What! is it nearer home?  That's
it, then!  Famous!  It would be a capital arrangement, if that terrible
old father is conformable.  What an escape I have had of him!  I am
sure it is a most natural and proper preference--'

'Stop! stop, Louis, you are going too fast.  I know nothing.  Don't say
a word to Jem, on any account: indeed, you must not.  It is all going
on very well now; but the least notion that he was observed, or that it
was his Uncle Oliver's particular wish, and there would be an end of
it.'

She was just wise enough to keep back the wishes of the other vizier,
but she had said enough to set Louis quite at his ease, and put him in
the highest spirits.  He seemed to have taken out a new lease of
boyishness, and, though constrained before Mary, laughed, talked, and
played pranks, so as unconsciously to fret his father exceedingly.

Clara's alert wits perceived that so many private interviews had some
signification; and Mrs. Frost found her talking it over with her
brother, and conjecturing so much, that granny thought it best to
supply the key, thinking, perhaps, that a little jealousy would do Jem
no harm.  But the effect on him was to produce a fit of hearty
laughter, as he remembered poor Lord Ormersfield's unaccountable
urbanity and suppressed exultation in the morning's ride.  'I honour
the Ponsonbys,' he said, 'for not choosing to second his lordship's
endeavours to tyrannize over that poor fellow, body and soul.  Poor
Louis! he is fabulously dutiful.'

But Clara, recovering from her first stupor of wonder, began scolding
him for presuming to laugh at anything so cruel to Louis.  It was not
the part of a friend!  And with tears of indignation and sympathy
starting from her eyes, she was pathetically certain that, though
granny and Jem were so unfeeling as to laugh, his high spirits were
only assumed to hide his suffering.  'Poor Louis! what had he not said
to her about Mary last night!  Now she knew what he meant!  And as to
Mary, she was glad she had never liked her, she had no patience with
her: of course, she was far too prosy and stupid to care for anything
like Louis, it was a great escape for him.  It would serve her right to
marry a horrid little crooked clerk in her father's office; and poor
dear, dear Louis must get over it, and have the most beautiful wife in
the world.  Don't you remember, Jem, the lady with the splendid dark
eyes on the platform at Euston Square, when you so nearly made us miss
the train, with the brow that you said--'

'Hush, Clara, don't talk nonsense.'



CHAPTER XII.

CHILDE ROLAND.

  A house there is, and that's enough,
  From whence one fatal morning issues
  A brace of warriors, not in buff,
  But rustling in their silks and tissues.
  The heroines undertook the task;
  Thro' lanes unknown, o'er stiles they ventured,--
  Rapped at the door, nor stayed to ask,
  But bounce into the parlour entered.
                            Gray's Long Story.


'No carmine?  Nor scarlet lake in powder?'

'Could procure some, my Lord.'

'Thank you, the actinia would not live.  I must take what I can find. A
lump of gamboge--'

'If you stay much longer, he will not retain his senses,' muttered
James Frost, who was leaning backwards against the counter, where the
bewildered bookseller of the little coast-town of Bickleypool was
bustling, in the vain endeavour to understand and fulfil the demands of
that perplexing customer, Lord Fitzjocelyn.

'Some drawing-paper.  This is hardly absorbent enough.  If you have any
block sketch-books?--'

'Could procure some, my Lord.'

James looked at his watch, while the man dived into his innermost
recesses.  'The tide!' he said.

'Never mind, we shall only stick in the mud.'

'How could you expect to find anything here?  A half-crown paint-box is
their wildest dream.'

'Keep quiet, Jem, go and look out some of those library books, like a
wise man.'

'A wise man would be at a loss here,' said James, casting his eye along
the battered purple backs of the circulating-library books.

'Wisdom won't condescend!  Ah! thank you, this will do nicely. Those
colours--yes; and the Seaside Book.  I'll choose one or two. What is
most popular here?'

James began to whistle; but Louis, taking up a volume, became engrossed
beyond the power of hints, and hardly stepped aside to make way for
some ladies who entered the shop.  A peremptory touch of the arm at
length roused him, and holding up the book to the shopman, he put it
into his pocket, seized his ash-stick, put his arm into his cousin's,
and hastened into the street.

'Did you ever see--' began Jem.

'Most striking.  I did not know you had met with her.  What an
idea--the false self conjuring up phantoms--'

'What are you talking of?  Did you not see her?'

'Elizabeth Barrett.  Was she there?'

'Is that her name?  Do you know her?'

'I had heard of her, but never--'

'How?--where?  Who is she?'

'I only saw her name in the title-page.'

'What's all this?  You did not see her?'

'Who?  Did not some ladies come into the shop?'

'Some ladies!  Is it possible?  Why, I touched you to make you look.'

'I thought it was your frenzy about the tide.  What now?--'

James made a gesture of despair.  'The loveliest creature I ever saw.
You may see her yet, as she comes out.  Come back!'

'Don't be so absurd,' said Fitzjocelyn, laughing, and, with instinctive
dislike of staring, resisting his cousin's effort to wheel him round.
'What, you will?' withdrawing his arm.  'I shall put off without you,
if you don't take care.'

And, laughing, he watched Jem hurry up the sloping street and turn the
corner, then turned to pursue his own way, his steps much less lame and
his looks far more healthful than they had been a month before.  He
reached the quay--narrow, slippery, and fishy, but not without beauty,
as the green water lapped against the hewn stones, and rocked the
little boats moored in the wide bay, sheltered by a richly-wooded
promontory.  'Jem in a fit of romance!  Well, whose fault will it be if
we miss the tide?  I'll sit in the boat, and read that poem again.--
Oh! here he comes, out of breath.  Well, Jem, did the heroine drop
glove or handkerchief?  Or, on a second view, was she minus an eye?'

'You were,' said James, hurrying breathlessly to unmoor the boat.

'Let me row,' said Louis; 'your breath and senses are both lost in the
fair vision.'

'It is of no use to talk to you--'

'I shall ask no questions till we are out of the harbour, or you will
be running foul of one of those colliers--a tribute with which the Fair
Unknown may dispense.'

The numerous black colliers and lighters showed that precautions were
needful till they had pushed out far enough to make the little fishy
town look graceful and romantic; and the tide was ebbing so fast, that
Louis deemed it prudent to spend his strength on rowing rather than on
talking.

James first broke silence by exclaiming--'Do you know where Beauchastel
is?'

'On the other side of the promontory.  Don't you remember the spire
rising among the trees, as we see it from the water?'

'That church must be worth seeing.  I declare I'll go there next
Sunday.'

Another silence, and Louis said--'I am curious to know whether you saw
her.'

'She was getting into the carriage as I turned the corner; so I went
back and asked Bull who they were.'

'I hope she was the greengrocer's third cousin.'

'Pshaw!  I tell you it was Mrs. Mansell and her visitors.'

'Oho!  No wonder Beauchastel architecture is so grand.  What an
impudent fellow you are, Jem!'

'The odd thing is,' said James, a little ashamed of Louis having put
Mansell and Beauchastel together, as he had not intended, 'that it
seems they asked Bull who we were.  I thought one old lady was staring
hard at you, as if she meant to claim acquaintance, but you shot out of
the shop like a sky-rocket.'

'Luckily there's no danger of that.  No one will come to molest us
here.'

'Depend on it, they are meditating a descent on his lordship.'

'You shall appear in my name, then.'

'Too like a bad novel: besides, you don't look respectable enough for
my tutor.  And, now I think of it, no doubt she was asking Bull how he
came to let such a disreputable old shooting-jacket into his shop.'

The young men worked up an absurd romance between them, as merrily they
crossed the estuary, and rowed up a narrow creek, with a whitewashed
village on one side, and on the other a solitary house, the garden
sloping to the water, and very nautical--the vane, a union-jack waved
by a brilliant little sailor on the top of a mast, and the arbour, half
a boat set on end; whence, as James steered up to the stone steps that
were one by one appearing, there emerged an old, grizzly,
weather-beaten sailor, who took his pipe from his mouth, and caught
hold of the boat.

'Thank you, Captain!' cried Fitzjocelyn.  'I've brought home the boat
safe, you see, by my own superhuman exertions--no thanks to Mr. Frost,
there!'

'That's his way, Captain,' retorted Jem, leaping out, and helping his
cousin: 'you may thank me for getting him home at all!  But for me, he
would have his back against the counter, and his head in a book, this
very moment.'

'Ask him what he was after,' returned Louis.

'Which of us d'ye think most likely to lag, Captain Hannaford?' cried
Jem, preventing the question.

'Which would you choose to have on board?'

'Ye'd both of ye make more mischief than work,' said the old seaman,
who had been looking from one to the other of the young men, as if they
were performing a comedy for his special diversion.

'So you would not enter us on board the Eliza Priscilla?' cried Louis.

'No, no,' said the old man, shrewdly, and with an air of holding
something back; whereupon they both pressed him, and obtained for
answer, 'No, no, I wouldn't sail with you'--signing towards
Fitzjocelyn--'in my crew: ye'd be more trouble than ye're worth.  And
as to you, sir, if I wouldn't sail with ye, I'd like still less to sail
under you.'

He finished with a droll, deprecating glance, and Louis laughed
heartily; but James was silent, and as soon as they had entered the
little parlour, declared that it would not do to encourage that old
skipper--he was waylaying them like the Ancient Mariner, and was
actually growing impudent.

'An old man's opinion of two youngsters is not what I call impudence,'
began Louis, with an emphasis that made Jem divert his attack.

Those two cousins had never spent a happier month than in these small
lodgings, built by the old retired merchant-seaman evidently on the
model of that pride of his heart, the Eliza Priscilla, his little
coasting trader, now the charge of his only surviving son; for this was
a family where drowning was like a natural death, and old Captain
Hannaford looked on the probability of sleeping in Ebbscreek
churchyard, much as Bayard did at the prospect of dying in his bed. His
old deaf wife kept the little cabin-like rooms most exquisitely neat;
and the twelve-years-old Priscilla, the orphan of one of the lost sons,
waited on the gentlemen with an old-fashioned, womanly deportment and
staid countenance that, in the absence of all other grounds of
distress, Louis declared was quite a pain to him.

The novelty of the place, the absence of restraint, the easy life, and,
above all, the freshness of returning health, rendered his spirits
exceedingly high, and he had never been more light-hearted and full of
mirth.  James, elated at his rapid improvement, was scarcely less full
of liveliness and frolic, enjoying to the utmost the holiday, which
perhaps both secretly felt might be the farewell to the perfect
carelessness of boyish relaxation.  Bathing, boating, fishing,
dabbling, were the order of the day, and withal just enough quarrelling
and teasing to add a little spice to their pleasures. Louis was over
head and ears in maritime natural history; but Jem, backed by Mrs.
Hannaford, prohibited his 'messes' from making a permanent settlement
in the parlour; though festoons of seaweed trellised the porch,
ammonites heaped the grass-plat, tubs of sea-water flanked the approach
to the front door; and more than one bowl, with inmates of a suspicious
nature, was often deposited even on the parlour table.

On the afternoon following the expedition to Bickleypool, Louis was
seated, with an earthenware pan before him, coaxing an actinia with raw
beef to expand her blossom, to be copied for Miss Faithfull. Another
bowl stood near, containing some feathery serpulas; and the weeds were
heaped on the locker of the window behind him, and on the back of the
chair which supported his lame foot.  The third and only remaining
chair accommodated James, with a book placed on the table; and a
semicircle swept round it, within which nothing marine might extend.

Louis was by turns drawing, enticing his refractory sitter, exhorting
her to bloom, and complimenting her delicate beauty, until James, with
a groan, exclaimed, 'Is silence impossible to you, Fitzjocelyn? I would
go into the garden, but that I should be beset by the intolerable old
skipper!'

'I beg your pardon--I thought you never heard nor heeded me.'

'I don't in general, but this requires attention; and it is past all
bearing to hear how you go on to that Jelly!'

'Read aloud, then: it will answer two purposes.

'This is Divinity--Hooker,' said James, sighing wearily.

'So much the better.  I read some once; I wish I had been obliged to go
on.'

'You are the oddest fellow!--After all, I believe you have a craving
after my profession.'

'Is that a discovery?' said Louis, washing the colour out of his brush.
'The only person I envy is a country curate--except a town one.'

'Don't talk like affectation!' growled James.

'Do you know, Jem,' said Louis, leaning back, and drawing the brush
between his lips, 'I am persuaded that something will turn up to
prevent it from being your profession.'

'Your persuasions are wrong, then!'

'That fabulous uncle in the Indies--'

'You know I am determined to accept nothing from my uncle, were he to
lay it at my feet--which he never will.'

'Literally or metaphorically?' asked Louis, softly.

'Pshaw!'

'You Dynevors don't resemble my sea-pink.  See how she stretches her
elegant fringes for this very unpleasant bit of meat!  There!  I won't
torment you any more; read, and stop my mouth!'

'You are in earnest?'

'You seem to think that if a man cannot be a clergyman, he is not to be
a Christian.'

'Then don't break in with your actinias and stuff!'

'Certainly not,' said Louis, gravely.

The first interruption came from James himself.  Leaping to his feet
with a sudden bound, he exclaimed, 'There they are!' and stood
transfixed in a gaze of ecstasy.

'You have made me smudge my lake,' said Louis, in the mild tone of
'Diamond, Diamond!'

'I tell you, there they are!' cried James, rushing into wild activity.

'One would think it the Fair Unknown,' said Louis, not troubling
himself to look round, nor desisting from washing out his smudge.

'It is! it is!--it is all of them!  Here they come, I tell you, and the
place is a very merman's cave!'

'Take care--the serpula--don't!' as James hurriedly opened the door
leading to the stairs--disposed of the raw meat on one step and the
serpulas on another, and hurled after them the heap of seaweed, all but
one trailing festoon of 'Luckie Minnie's lines,' which, while his back
was turned, Louis by one dexterous motion wreathed round the crown of
his straw hat; otherwise never stirring, but washing quietly on, until
he rose as little Priscilla opened the door, and stood aside, mutely
overawed at the stream of flounced ladies that flowed past, and seemed
to fill up the entire room.  It was almost a surprise to find that,
after all, there were only three of them!

'I knew I was not mistaken,' said a very engaging, affectionate voice.
'It is quite shocking to have to introduce myself to you--Lady Conway--'

'My aunt!' cried Louis, with eager delight--'and my cousin!' he added,
turning with a slight blush towards the maiden, whom he felt, rather
than saw, to be the worthy object of yesterday's rapture.

'Not quite,' she answered, not avoiding the grasp of his hand, but
returning it with calm, distant politeness.

'Not quite,' repeated Lady Conway.  'Your real cousins are no farther
off than Beauchastel--'

'Where you must come and see them,' added the third lady--a portly,
cordial, goodnatured dame, whom Lady Conway introduced as Mrs. Mansell,
who had known his mother well; and Louis making a kind of presentation
of his cousin James, the two elder ladies were located on two of the
chairs: the younger one, as if trying to be out of the way, placed
herself on the locker.  Jem stood leaning on the back of the other
chair; and Louis stood over his aunt, in an ecstasy at the meeting--at
the kind, warm manner and pleasant face of his aunt--and above all, at
the indescribable pleasure imparted by the mere presence of the
beautiful girl, though he hardly dared even to look at her; and she was
the only person whose voice was silent in the chorus of congratulation,
on the wonderful chance that had brought the aunt and nephew together.
The one had been a fortnight at Beauchastel, the other a month at
Ebbscreek, without guessing at each other's neighbourhood, until Lady
Conway's attention had been attracted at the library by Louis's
remarkable resemblance to her sister, and making inquiries, she had
learnt that he was no other than Lord Fitzjocelyn.  She was enchanted
with the likeness, declaring that all she wished was to see him look
less delicate, and adding her entreaties to those of Mrs. Mansell, that
the two young men would come at once to Beauchastel.

Louis looked with wistful doubt at James, who, he knew, could not brook
going to fine places in the character of tutor; but, to his surprise
and pleasure, James was willing and eager, and made no demur, except
that Fitzjocelyn could not walk so far, and the boat was gone out.
Mrs. Mansell then proposed the ensuing Monday, when, she said, she and
Mr. Mansell should be delighted to have them to meet a party of
shooting gentlemen--of course they were sportsmen. Louis answered at
once for James; but for himself, he could not walk, nor even ride the
offered shooting-pony; and thereupon ensued more minute questions
whether his ankle were still painful.

'Not more than so as to be a useful barometer.  I have been testing it
by the sea-weeds.  If I am good for nothing else, I shall be a walking
weather-glass, as well as a standing warning against man-traps.'

'You don't mean that you fell into a man-trap!' exclaimed Mrs. Mansell,
in horror.  'That will be a warning for Mr. Mansell!  I have such a
dread of the frightful things!'

'A trap ingeniously set by myself,' said Louis.  'I was only too glad
no poor poacher fell into it.'

'Your father told me that it was a fall down a steep bank,' exclaimed
Lady Conway.

'Exactly so; but I suppose he thought it for my credit to conceal that
my trap consisted of a flight of stone stops, very solid and permanent,
with the trifling exception of cement.'

'If the truth were known,' said James, 'I believe that a certain scamp
of a boy was at the bottom of those steps.'

'I'm the last person to deny it,' said Louis, quietly, though not
without rising colour, 'there was a scamp of a boy at the bottom of the
steps, and very unpleasant he found it--though not without the best
consequences, and among them the present--' And he turned to Lady
Conway with a pretty mixture of gracefulness and affection, enough to
win the heart of any aunt.

Mrs. Mansell presently fell into raptures at the sight of the drawing
materials, which must, she was sure, delight Isabel, but she was rather
discomfited by the sight of the 'subject,'--called it an odious
creature, then good-humouredly laughed at herself, but would not sit
down again, evidently wishing to escape from close quarters with such
monsters.  Lady Conway likewise rose, and looked into the basin,
exclaiming, in her turn, 'Ah!  I see you understand these things!  Yes,
they are very interesting!  Virginia will be delighted; she has been
begging me for an aquarium wherever we go.  You must tell her how to
manage it.  Look, Isabel, would not she be in ecstasies?'

Miss Conway looked, but did not seem to partake in the admiration. 'I
am perverse enough never to like what is the fashion,' she said.

'I tried to disgust Fitzjocelyn with his pets on that very ground,'
said James; 'but their charms were too strong for him.'

'Fashion is the very testimony to them,' said Louis.  'I think I could
convince you.'

He would perhaps have produced his lovely serpula blossoms, but he was
forced to pass on to his aunt and Mrs. Mansell, who had found something
safer for their admiration, in the shape of a great Cornu ammonis in
the garden.

'He can throw himself into any pursuit,' said James, as he paused at
the door with Miss Conway; but suddenly becoming aware of the slimy
entanglement round his hat, he exclaimed, 'Absurd fellow!' and pulled
it off rather petulantly, adding, with a little constraint, 'Recovery
does put people into mad spirits!  I fancy the honest folks here look
on in amaze.'

Miss Conway gave a very pretty smile of sympathy and consolation, that
shone like a sunbeam on her beautiful pensive features and dark, soft
eyes.  Then she began to admire the view, as they stood on the turf,
beside Captain Hannaford's two small cannon, overlooking the water
towards Bickleypool, with a purple hill rising behind it.  A yacht was
sailing into the harbour, and James ran indoors to fetch a spy-glass,
while Lady Conway seized the occasion of asking her nephew his tutor's
name.

Louis, who had fancied she must necessarily understand all his kindred,
was glad to guard against shocks to Jem's sensitive pride, and eagerly
explained the disproportion between his birth and fortune, and his
gallant efforts to relieve his grandmother from her burthens.  He was
pleased to find that he had touched all his auditors, and to hear
kind-hearted Mrs. Mansell repeat her special invitation to Mr. Frost
Dynevor with double cordiality.

'If you must play practical jokes,' said James, as they watched the
carriage drive off, 'I wish you would choose better moments for them.'

'I thought you would be more in character as a merman brave,' said
Louis.

'I wonder what character you thought you appeared in?'

'I never meant you to discover it while they were here, nor would you,
if you were not so careful of your complexion.  Come, throw it at my
head now, as you would have done naturally, and we shall have fair
weather again!'

'I am only concerned at the impression you have made.'

'Too late now, is it?  You don't mean to be bad company for the rest of
the day.  It is too bad, after such a presence as has been here. She is
a poem in herself.  It is like a vision to see her move in that calm,
gliding way.  Such eyes, so deep, so tranquil, revealing the sphere
apart where she dwells!  An ideal!  How can you be savage after sitting
in the same room, and hearing that sweet, low voice?'

Meantime the young lady sat back in the carriage, dreamily hearing, and
sometimes answering, the conversation of her two elders, as they
returned through pretty forest-drives into the park of Beauchastel, and
up to the handsome, well-kept house; where, after a few words from Mrs.
Mansell, she ascended the stairs.

'Isabel!' cried a bright voice, and a girl of fourteen came skating
along the polished oak corridor.  'Come and have some tea in the
school-room, and tell us your adventures!'  And so saying, she dragged
the dignified Isabel into an old-fashioned sitting-room, where a little
pale child, two years younger, sprang up, and, with a cry of joy, clung
round the elder sister.

'My white bind-weed,' said Isabel, fondly caressing her, 'have you been
out on the pony?'

'Oh I yes, we wanted only you.  Sit down there.'

And as Isabel obeyed, the little Louisa placed herself on her lap, with
one arm round her neck, and looked with proud glee at the kind,
sensible-faced governess who was pouring out the tea.

'The reconnoitring party!' eagerly cried Virginia.

'Did you find the cousin?'

'Yes, we did.'

'Oh!  Then what is he like?'

'You will see when he comes on Monday.'

'Coming--oh!  And is he so very handsome?'

'I can see how pretty a woman your Aunt Louisa must have been.'

'News!' laughed Virginia; 'when mamma is always preaching to me to be
like her!'

'Is he goodnatured?' asked Louisa.

'I had not full means of judging,' said Isabel, more thoughtfully than
seemed justified by the childish question.  'His cousin is coming too,'
she added; 'Mr. Frost Dynevor.'

'Another cousin!' exclaimed Virginia.

'No; a relation of Lord Ormersfield--a person to be much respected. He
is heir to a lost estate, and of a very grand old family.  Lord
Fitzjocelyn says that he is exerting himself to the very utmost for his
grandmother and orphan sister; denying himself everything.  He is to be
a clergyman.  There was a book of divinity open on the table.'

'He must be very good!' said Louisa, in a low, impressed voice, and
fondling her sister's hand.  'Will he be as good as Sir Roland?'

'Oh! I am glad he is coming!' cried Virginia.  'We have so wished to
see somebody very good!'

A bell rang--a signal that Lady Conway would be in her room, where she
liked her two girls to come to her while she was dressing. Louisa
reluctantly detached herself from her sister, and Virginia lingered to
say, 'Dress quickly, please, please, Isabel.  I know there is a new bit
of Sir Roland done!  Oh! I hope Mr. Dynevor is like him!'

'Not quite,' said Isabel, smiling as they ran away.  'Poor children, I
am afraid they will be disappointed; but long may their craving be to
see 'somebody very good!'

'I am very glad they should meet any one answering the description,'
said the governess.  'I don't gather that you are much delighted with
the object of the expedition.'

'A pretty boy--very pretty.  It quite explains all I have ever heard of
his mother.'

'As you told the children.'

'More than I told the children.  Their aunt never by description seemed
to me my ideal, as you know.  I would rather have seen a likeness to
Lord Ormersfield, who--though I don't like him--has something striking
in the curt, dry, melancholy dignity of his manner.'

'And how has Lord Fitzjocelyn displeased you?'

'Perhaps there is no harm in him--he may not have character enough for
that; but talk, attitudes, everything betrays that he is used to be
worshipped--takes it as a matter of course, and believes nothing so
interesting as himself.'

'Don't you think you may have gone with your mind made up?'

'If you mean that I thought myself uncalled for, and heartily detested
the expedition, you are right; but I saw what I did not expect.'

'Was it very bad?'

'A very idle practical joke, such as I dislike particularly.  A
quantity of wet sea-weed wound round Mr. Dynevor's hat.'

Miss King laughed.  'Really, my dear, I don't think you know what young
men like from each other.'

'Mr. Dynevor did not like it,' said Isabel, 'though he tried to pass it
off lightly as the spirits of recovery.  Those spirits--I am afraid he
has too much to suffer from them.   There is something so ungenerous in
practical wit, especially from a prosperous man to one unprosperous!'

'Well, Isabel, I won't contradict, but I should imagine that such
things often showed people to be on the best of terms.'

Isabel shook her head, and left the room, to have her dark hair
braided, with little heed from herself, as she sat dreamily over a
book.  Before the last bracelet was clasped, she was claimed by her two
little sisters, who gave her no peace till her desk was opened, and a
manuscript drawn forth, that they might hear the two new pages of her
morning's work.  It was a Fouque-like tale, relieving and giving
expression to the yearnings for holiness and loftiness that had grown
up within Isabel Conway in the cramped round of her existence.  The
story went back to the troubadour days of Provence, where a knight, the
heir of a line of shattered fortunes, was betrothed to the heiress of
the oppressors, that thus all wrongs might be redressed.  They had
learnt to love, when Sir Roland discovered that the lands in dispute
had been won by sacrilege.  He met Adeline at a chapel in a little
valley, to tell the whole.  They agreed to sacrifice themselves, that
restitution should be made; the knight to go as a crusader to the Holy
Land; the lady, after waiting awhile to tend her aged father, to enter
a convent, and restore her dower to the church.  Twice had Isabel
written that parting, pouring out her heart in the high-souled tender
devotion of Roland and his Adeline; and both feeling and description
were beautiful and poetical, though unequal.  Louisa used to cry
whenever she heard it, yet only wished to hear it again and again, and
when Virginia insisted on reading it to Miss King, tears had actually
been surprised in the governess's eyes.  Yet she liked still better
Adeline's meek and patient temper, where breathed the feeling Isabel
herself would fain cherish--the deep, earnest, spiritual life and high
consecrated purpose that were with the Provencal maiden through all her
enforced round of gay festivals, light minstrelsy, tourneys, and Courts
of Love.  Thus far had the story gone.  Isabel had been writing a wild,
mysterious ballad, reverting to that higher love and the true spirit of
self-sacrifice, which was to thrill strangely on the ears of the
thoughtless at a contention for the Golden Violet, and which she had
adapted to a favourite air, to the extreme delight of the two girls.
To them the Chapel in the valley, Roland and his Adeline, were very
nearly real, and were the hidden joy of their hearts,--all the more
because their existence was a precious secret between the three sisters
and Miss King, who viewed it as such an influence on the young ones,
that, with more meaning than she could have explained, she called it
their Telemaque.  The following-up of the teaching of Isabel and Miss
King might lead to results as little suspected by Lady Conway as
Fenelon's philosophy was by Louis XIV.

Lady Conway was several years older than her beautiful sister, and had
married much later.  Perhaps she had aimed too high, and had met with
disappointments unavowed; for she had finally contented herself with
becoming the second wife of Sir Walter Conway, and was now his serene,
goodnatured, prosperous widow.  Disliking his estate and neighbourhood,
and thinking the daughters wanted London society and London masters,
she shut up the house until her son should be of age, and spent the
season in Lowndes-square, the autumn either abroad, in visits, or at
watering-places.

Beauchastel was an annual resort of the family.  Isabel was more
slenderly portioned than her half-sisters; and she was one of the
nearest surviving relations of her mother's cousin, Mr. Mansell, whose
large comfortable house was always hospitable; and whose wife, a great
dealer in goodnatured confidential gossip, used to throw out hints to
her great friend Lady Conway, that much depended on Isabel's
marriage--that Mr. Mansell had been annoyed at connexions formed by
others of his relations--but though he had decided on nothing, the dear
girl's choice might make a great difference.

Nothing could be more passive than Miss Conway.  She could not remember
her mother, but her childhood had been passed under an admirable
governess; and though her own Miss Longman had left her, Miss King, the
successor, was a person worthy of her chief confidence.  At
two-and-twenty, the school-room was still the home of her affections,
and her ardent love was lavished on her little sisters and her brother
Walter.

Going out with Lady Conway was mere matter of duty and submission. She
had not such high animal spirits as to find enjoyment in her gaieties,
and her grave, pensive character only attained to walking through her
part; she had seen little but the more frivolous samples of society,
scorned and disliked all that was worldly and manoeuvring, and hung
back from levity and coquetry with utter distaste.  Removed from her
natural home, where she would have found duties and seen various
aspects of life, she had little to interest or occupy her in her
unsettled wanderings; and to her the sap of life was in books, in
dreams, in the love of her brother and sisters, and in discussions with
Miss King; her favourite vision for the future, the going to live with
Walter at Thornton Conway when he should be of age.  But Walter was
younger than Louisa, and it was a very distant prospect.

Her characteristic was a calm, serene indifference, in which her
stepmother acquiesced, as lovers of peace do in what they cannot help;
and the more willingly, that her tranquil dignity and pensive grace
exactly suited the style of her tall queenly figure, delicate features,
dark soft languid eyes, and clear olive complexion, just tinged with
rosebud pink.

What Louis said of her to his tutor on the Monday night of their
arrival was beyond the bounds of all reason; and it was even more
memorable that Jem was neither satirical nor disputatious, assented to
all, and if he sighed, it was after his door was shut.

A felicitous day ensued, spent by James in shooting, by Fitzjocelyn, in
the drawing-room; whither Mrs. Mansell had requested Isabel's presence,
as a favour to herself.  The young lady sat at work, seldom raising her
eyes, but this was enough for him; his intense admiration and pleasure
in her presence so exhilarated him, that he rattled away to the utmost.
Louisa was at first the excuse.  In no further doubt of his
good-nature, she spent an hour in the morning in giving him anagrams to
guess; and after she had repaired to the schoolroom, he went on
inventing fresh ones, and transposing the ivory letters, rambling on in
his usual style of pensive drollery.  Happiness never set him off to
advantage, and either there was more froth than ordinary, or it
appeared unusually ridiculous to an audience who did not detect the
under-current of reflection.  His father would have been in despair,
Mrs. Ponsonby or Mary would have interposed; but the ladies of
Beauchastel laughed and encouraged him,--all but Isabel, who sat in the
window, and thought of Adeline, 'spighted and angered both,' by a
Navarrese coxcomb, with sleeves down to his heels, and shoes turned up
to his knees.  She gave herself great credit for having already created
him a Viscount.

In the afternoon, Louis drove out lionizing with his aunt; but though
the ponies stopped of themselves at all the notable views; sea, hill,
and river were lost on him.  Lady Conway could have drawn out a far
less accessible person, and her outpouring of his own sentiments made
him regard her as perfect.

She consulted him about her winter's resort.  Louisa required peculiar
care, and she had thought of trying mineral baths--what was thought of
Northwold? what kind of houses were there?  The Northwold faculty
themselves might have taken a lesson from Fitzjocelyn's eloquent
analysis of the chemical properties of the waters, and all old Mr.
Frost's spirit would seem to have descended on him when he dilated on
the House Beautiful.  Lodgers for Miss Faithfull! what jubilee they
would cause!  And such lodgers!  No wonder he was in ecstasy.  All the
evening the sound of his low, deliberate voice was unceasing, and his
calm announcements to his two little cousins were each one more
startling than the last; while James, to whom it was likewise all
sunshine, was full of vivacity, and a shrewd piquancy of manner that
gave zest to all he said, and wonderfully enlivened the often rather
dull circle at Beauchastel.

Morning came; and when the ladies descended to breakfast, it was found
that Lord Fitzjocelyn had gone out with the sportsmen.  The children
lamented, and their elders pronounced a young gentleman's passion for
shooting to be quite incalculable.  When, late in the day, the party
returned, it was reported that he did not appear to care much for the
sport; but had walked beside Mr. Mansell's shooting-pony, and had
finally gone with him to see his model farm. This was a sure road to
the old squire's heart, and no one was more delighted with the guest.
For Aunt Catharine's sake, Louis was always attracted by old age, and
his attentive manners had won Mr. Mansell's heart, even before his
inquiries about his hobby had completed the charm.  To expound and to
listen to histories of agricultural experiments that really answered,
was highly satisfactory to both, and all the evening they were eager
over the great account-book which was the pride of the squire's heart;
while Virginia and Louisa grumbled or looked imploring, and Isabel
marvelled at there being any interest for any one in old Mr. Mansell's
conversation.

'What is the meaning of this?' asked James, as they went up stairs.

Louis shrugged like a Frenchman, looked debonnaire, and said
'Good-night.'

Again he came down; prepared for shooting, though both pale and lame;
but he quietly put aside all expostulations, walking on until, about
fifty yards from the house, a pebble, turning under the injured foot,
caused such severe pain that he could but just stagger to a tree and
sit down.

There was much battling before Mr. Mansell would consent to leave him,
or he to allow James to help him back to the house, before going on to
overtake the party.

Very irate was Jem, at folly that seemed to have undone the benefits of
the last month, and at changeableness that was a desertion of the queen
to whom all homage was due.  He was astonished that Louis turned into
the study, a room little inhabited in general, and said, 'Make
haste--you will catch the others; don't fall in with the ladies.'

'I mean to send your aunt to you.'

'Pray don't.  Can't you suppose that peace is grateful after having
counted every mortal hour last night?'

'Was that the reason you were going to walk ten miles without a leg to
stand upon?  Fitzjocelyn! is this systematic?'

'What is?' said Louis, wearily.

'Your treatment of--your aunt.'

'On what system should aunts be treated?'

'Of all moments to choose for caprice!  Exactly when I thought even you
were fixed!'

'Pur troppo,' sighed Louis.

'Ha!' cried Jem, 'you have not gone and precipitated matters!  I
thought you could never amaze me again; but even you might have felt
she was a being to merit rather more time and respect!'

'Even I am not devoid of the organ of veneration.'

His meek tone was a further provocation; and with uplifted chin, hair
ruffled like the crest of a Shetland pony, flashing eyes, and distinct
enunciation, James exclaimed, 'You will excuse me for not understanding
you.  You come here; you devote yourself to your aunt and cousins--you
seem strongly attracted; then, all on a sudden, you rush out
shooting--an exercise for which you don't care, and when you can't
walk: you show the most pointed neglect.  And after being done-up
yesterday, you repeat the experiment to-day, as if for the mere object
of laming yourself for life.  I could understand pique or temper, but
you have not the--'

'The sense,' said Louis; 'no, nor anything to be piqued at.'

'If there be a motive,' said James, 'I have a right to demand not to be
trifled with any longer.'

'I wish you could be content to shoot your birds, and leave me in
peace: you will only have your fun spoilt, like mine, and go into a
fury.  The fact is, that my father writes in a state of perturbation.
He says, I might have understood, from the tenor of his conduct, that
he did not wish me to be intimate with my aunt's family!  He cannot
know anything about them, for it is all one warning against fashion and
frivolity.  He does not blame us--especially not you.'

'I wish he did.'

'But he desires that our intercourse should be no more than propriety
demands, and plunges into a discourse against first impressions,
beauty, and the like.'

'So that's the counterblast!'

'You ought to help me, Jem,' said Louis, dejectedly.

'I'll help you with all my heart to combat your father's prejudices.'

'An hour's unrestrained intercourse with these people would best
destroy them,' said Louis; 'but, in the mean time--I wonder what he
means.'

'He means that he is in terror for his darling scheme.'

'Mrs. Ponsonby was very right,' sighed Louis.

'Ay!  A pretty condition you would be in, if she had not had too much
principle to let you be a victim to submission.  That's what you'll
come to, though!  You will never know the meaning of passion; you will
escape something by it, though you will be twisted round his lordship's
finger, and marry his choice.  I hope she will have red hair!'

'Negative and positive obedience stand on different grounds,' said
Louis, with such calmness as often fretted James, but saved their
friendship.  'Besides, till I had this letter, I had no notion of any
such thing.'

James's indignation resulted in fierce stammering; while Louis
deliberately continued a viva voce self-examination, with his own
quaint naivete, betraying emotion only by the burning colour of cheek
and brow.

'No; I had no such notion.  I only felt that her presence had the
gladdening, inspiriting, calming effect of moonlight or starlight. I
reverenced her as a dream of poetry walking the earth.  Ha! now one
hears the sound of it--that is like it!  I did not think it was such a
confirmed case.  I should have gone on in peace but for this letter,
and never thought about it at all.'

'So much the better for you!'

'My father is too just and candid not to own his error, and be
thankful.'

'And you expect her to bear with your alternations in the mean time?'

'Towards her I have not alternated.  When I have made giggle with Clara
under the influence of the starry sky, did you suppose me giggling with
Lyra or the Pleiades!  I should dread to see the statue descend; it
seemed irreverence even to gaze.  The lofty serenity keeps me aloof.  I
like to believe in a creature too bright and good for human nature's
daily food.  Our profane squinting through telescopes at the Lady Moon
reveals nothing but worn-out volcanoes and dry oceans, black gulfs and
scorched desolation; but verily that may not be Lady Moon's fault--only
that of our base inventions.  So I would be content to mark
her--Isabel, I mean--queenly, moonlike name!--walk in beauty and
tranquillity unruffled, without distorting my vision by personal aims
at bringing her down to my level.  There--don't laugh at me, Jem.'

'No, I am too sorry for you.'

'Why!' he exclaimed, impatient of compassion; 'do you think it
desperate?'

'I see your affection given to a most worthy object, and I know what
your notions of submission will end in.'

'Once for all, Jem,' said Fitzjocelyn, 'do you know how you are using
my father?  No; Isabel Conway may be the happiness or the
disappointment of my life--I cannot tell.  I am sure my father is
mistaken, and I believe he may be convinced; but I am bound not to fly
in the face of his direct commands, and, till we can come to an
understanding, I must do the best I can, and trust to--'

The last word was lost, as he turned to nurse his ankle, and presently
to entreat James to join the sportsmen; but Jem was in a mood to do
nothing pleasing to himself nor to any one else.  A sacrifice is
usually irritating to the spectators, who remonstrate rather than
listen to self-reproach; and Louis had been guilty of three great
offences--being in the right, making himself ridiculous, and submitting
tamely--besides the high-treason to Isabel's beauty. It was well that
the Earl was safe out of the way of the son of the Pendragons!

Fitzjocelyn was in pain and discomfort enough to make James unwilling
to leave him; though his good-will did not prevent him from keeping up
such a stream of earplugs and sinister auguries, that it was almost the
climax of good-temper that enabled Louis to lie still, trying to read a
great quarto Park's Travels, and abstaining from any reply that could
aggravate matters.  As the one would not go to luncheon, the other
would not; and after watching the sound of the ladies' setting out for
their drive, Louis said that he would go and lie on the turf; but at
that moment the door was thrown open, and in ran Virginia.
Explanations were quickly exchanged--how she had come to find Vertot's
Malta for Isabel, and how he had been sent in by hurting his foot.

'Were you going to stay in all day?' said Virginia.  'Oh, come with us!
We have the pony-carriage; and we are going to a dear old ruin, walking
and driving by turns.  Do, pray, come; there's plenty of room.'

There could be no objection to the school-room party, and it was no
small relief to escape from James and hope he was amused; so
Fitzjocelyn allowed himself to be dragged off in triumph, and James was
acceding to his entreaty that he would go in search of the
shooting-party, when, as they reached the hall-door, they beheld Miss
Conway waiting on the steps.

There was no receding for her any more than for Louis, so she could
only make a private resolution against the pony-carriage, and dedicate
herself to the unexceptionable company of little sister, governess and
tutor; for James had resigned the shooting, and attached himself to the
expedition.  It was an excellent opportunity of smoothing his cousin's
way, and showing that all was not caprice that might so appear: so he
began to tell of his most advantageous traits of character, and to
explain away his whimsical conduct, with great ardour and ingenuity.
He thought he should be perfectly satisfied if he could win but one
smile of approbation from that gravely beautiful mouth; and it came at
last, when he told of Fitzjocelyn's devoted affection to Mrs. Frost and
his unceasing kindness to the old ladies of Dynevor Terrace.  Thus
gratified, he let himself be led into abstract questions of
principle,--a style of discussion frequent between Miss King and
Isabel, but on which the latter had never seen the light of a man's
mind thrown except through books.  The gentlemen whom she had met were
seldom either deep or earnest, except those too much beyond her reach;
and she had avoided anything like confidence or intimacy: but Mr.
Dynevor could enlighten and vivify her perplexed reflections, answer
her inquiries, confirm her opinion of books, and enter into all that
she ventured with diffidence to express.  He was enchanted to find that
no closer approach could dim the lustre of Louis's moon, and honoured
her doubly for what she had made herself in frivolous society.  He felt
sure that his testimony would gain credit where Fitzjocelyn's would be
regarded as love-blinded, and already beheld himself forcing full proof
of her merits on the reluctant Earl, beholding Louis happy, and Isabel
emancipated from constraint.

A five miles' walk gave full time for such blissful discoveries; for
Miss Conway was resolute against entering the pony-carriage, and walked
on, protesting against ever being fatigued; while Louis was obliged to
occupy his seat in the carriage, with a constant change of companions.

'I think, my dear,' said Miss King, when the younger girls had gone to
their mother's toilette, 'that you will have to forgive me.'

'Meaning,' said Isabel, 'that you are bitten too!  Ah! Miss King, you
could not withstand the smile with which he handed you in!'

'Could you withstand such an affectionate account of your cruel,
tyrannical practical joker?'

'Facts are stubborn things.  Do you know what Mr. Dynevor is doing at
this moment?  I met him in the gallery, hurrying off to Ebbscreek for
some lotion for Lord Fitzjocelyn's ankle.  I begged him to let Mrs.
Mansell send; but no-no one but himself could find it, and his cousin
could not bear strangers to disarrange his room.  If anything were
wanting, it would be enough to see how simply and earnestly such a man
has been brought to pamper--nay, to justify, almost to adore, the whims
and follies of this youth.'

'If anything were wanting to what?  To your dislike.'

'It would not be so active as dislike, unless--' Isabel spoke with
drooping head, and Miss King did not ask her to finish, but said, 'He
has not given you much cause for alarm.'

'So; he is at least a thorough gentleman.  It may be conceit, or wrong
self-consciousness, but from the moment the poor boy was spied in the
shop, I had a perception that mamma and Mrs. Mansell marked him down.
Personally he would be innocent, but, through all his chatter, I cannot
shake off the fancy that I am watched, or that decided indifference is
not needed to keep him at a distance.'

'I wish you could have seen him without knowing him!'

'In vain, dear Miss King!  I can't bear handsome men.  I see his
frivolity and shallowness; and for amiability, what do you think of
keeping his cousin all the morning from shooting for such a mere
nothing, and then sending him off for a ten miles' walk?

'For my part, I confess that I was struck with the good sense and
kindness he showed in our tete-a-tete--I thought it justified Mr.
Dynevor's description.'

'Yes, I have no doubt that there is some good in him.  He might have
done very well, if he had not always been an idol.'

Isabel was the more provoked with Lord Fitzjocelyn, when, by-and-by, he
appeared in the drawing-room, and related the result of his cousin's
mission.  Jem, who would know better than himself where to find his
property, had not chosen to believe his description of the spot where
he had left the lotion, and, in the twilight, Louis had found his foot
coiled about by the feelers and claws of a formidable monster--no other
than a bottled scorpion, a recent present from Captain Hannaford.  He
did not say how emblematic the scorpion lotion was of that which Jem
had been administering to his wounded spirit all the morning, but he
put the story in so ludicrous a light that Isabel decided that Mr.
Dynevor was ungenerously and ungratefully treated as a butt; and she
turned away in displeasure from the group whom the recital was amusing,
to offer her sympathy to the tutor, and renew the morning's
conversation.



CHAPTER XIII.

FROSTY, BUT KINDLY.

  Go not eastward, go not westward,
  For a stranger whom we know not.
  Like a fire upon the hearthstone,
  Is a neighbour's homely daughter;
  Like the moonlight or the starlight,
  Is the handsomest of strangers.
                      Legend of Hiawatha.


'What a laboured production had the letter been!  How many copies had
the statesman written! how late had he sat over it at night! how much
more consideration had he spent on it than on papers involving the
success of his life!  A word too much or too little might precipitate
the catastrophe, and the bare notion of his son's marriage with a pupil
of Lady Conway renewed and gave fresh poignancy to the past.

At first his anxieties were past mention; but he grew restless under
them, and the instinct of going to Mrs. Ponsonby prevailed.  At least,
she would know what had transpired from James, or from Fitzjocelyn to
Mrs. Frost.

She had heard of ecstatic letters from both the cousins, and Mary had
been delighted to identify Miss Conway with the Isabel of whom one of
her school friends spoke rapturously, but the last letter had beenfrom
James to his grandmother, declaring that Lord Ormersfield was
destroying the happiness of the most dutiful of sons, who was obedient
even to tameness, and so absurd that there was no bearing him.  His
lordship must hear reason, and learn that he was rejecting the most
admirable creature in existence, her superiority of mind exceeding even
her loveliness of person.  He had better beware of tyranny; it was
possible to abuse submission, and who could answer for the consequences
of thwarting strong affections?  All the ground Fitzjocelyn had gained
in the last six weeks had been lost; and for the future, James would
not predict.

'An uncomfortable matter,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, chiefly for the sake of
reading her daughter's feelings.  'If it were not in poor Louis's mind
already, his father and James would plant it there by their contrary
efforts.'

'Oh! I hope it will come right,' said Mary.  'Louis is too good, and
his father too kind, for it not to end well.  And then, mamma, he will
be able to prove, what nobody will believe--that he is constant.'

'You think so, do you?' said her mother, smiling.

Mary blushed, but answered, 'where he really cared, he would be
constant.  His fancy might be taken, and he might rave, but he would
never really like what was not good.--If he does think about Miss
Conway, we may trust she is worthy of him.  Oh! I should like to see
her!'

Mary's eyes lighted up with an enthusiasm that used to be a stranger to
them.  It was not the over-acted indifference nor the tender generosity
of disappointment: it seemed more to partake of the fond, unselfish,
elder-sisterly affection that she had always shown towards Louis, and
it set her mother quite at ease.

Seeing Lord Ormersfield riding into the terrace, Mary set out for a
walk, that he might have his tete-a-tete freely with her mother.  On
coming home, she met him on the stairs; and he spoke with a sad
softness and tone of pardon that alarmed her so much, that she hastened
to ask her mother whether Louis had really avowed an attachment.

'Oh no,' said Mrs. Ponsonby; 'he has written a very right-minded
letter, on the whole, poor boy! though he is sure the Conways have only
to be known to be appreciated.  Rather too true!  It is in his Miss
Fanny hand, stiff and dispirited; and his father has worked himself
into such a state of uneasiness, that I think it will end in his going
to Ebbscreek at once.'

'O mamma, you won't let him go and torment Louis?'

'Why, Mary, have you been learning of James?  Perhaps he would torment
him more from a distance; and besides, I doubt what sort of counsellor
James is likely to make in his present mood.'

'I never could see that James made any difference to Louis,' said Mary.
'I know people think he does, because Louis gives up wishes and plans
to him; but he is not led in opinions or principles, as far as I can
see.'

'Not unless his own wishes went the same way.'

'At least, Lord Ormersfield will see Miss Conway!'

'I am afraid that will do no good.  It will not be for the first time.
Lady Conway has been his dread from the time of his own marriage; and
if she should come to Northwold, he will be in despair. I do think he
must be right; she must be making a dead set at Louis.'

'Not Miss Conway,' said Mary.  'I know she must be good, or he would
not endure her for a moment.'

'Mary, you do not know the power of beauty.'

'I have heard of it,' said Mary; 'I have seen how Dona Guadalupe was
followed.  But those people were not like Louis.  No, mamma; I think
James might be taken in, I don't think Louis could be--unless he had a
very grand dream of his own before his eyes; and then it would be his
own dream, not the lady that he saw; and by-and-by he would find it
out, and be so vexed!'

'And, I trust, before he had committed himself!'

'Mamma, I won't have you think Miss Conway anything but up to his
dreams!  I know she is.  Only think what Jane Drummond says of her!'

When the idea of going to see how matters stood had once occurred to
the Earl, he could not stay at home: the ankle and the affections
preyed on him by turns, and he wrote to Sir Miles Oakstead to fix an
earlier day for the promised visit, as well as to his son, to announce
his speedy arrival.  Then he forgot the tardiness of cross-country
posts, and outran his letter, so that he found no one to meet him at
Bickleypool; and on driving up to the gate at Ebbscreek, found all
looking deserted.  After much knocking, Priscilla appeared, round-eyed
and gasping, and verified his worst fears with 'Gone to Bochattle.'
However, she explained that only one gentleman was gone to dine there;
the other was rowing him round the point, with grandfather;--they would
soon be back--indeed they ought, for the tide was so low, they would
have to land down by the shingle bar.

She pointed out where the boat must come in; and thither the Earl
directed his steps, feeling as if he were going to place himself under
a nutmeg-grater, as he thought how James Frost would receive the
implied distrust of his guardianship.

The sunset gleam was fading on the sleepy waves that made but a feint
of breaking, along the shining expanse of moist uncovered sand, when
two figures were seen progressing from the projecting rocks, casting
long shadows before them.  Lord Ormersfield began to prepare a
mollifying address--but, behold!  Was it the effect of light so much to
lengthen Jem's form? nay, was it making him walk with a stick?  A
sudden, unlooked-for hope seized the Earl.  The next minute he had been
recognised; and in the grasping hands and meeting eyes, all was
forgotten, save the true, fond affection of father and son.

'I did not expect this pleasure.  They told me you were dining out.'

'Only rowing Jem to the landing-place.  I told him to make my excuses.
It is a dinner to half the neighbourhood, and my foot is always
troublesome if I do not lay it up in the evening.'

'I am glad you are prudent,' said his father, dismissing his fears in
his gratification, and proceeding to lay his coming to the score of his
foot.

Fitzjocelyn did not wish to see through the plea--he was much too happy
in his father's unusual warmth and tenderness, and in the delights of
hospitality.  Mrs. Hannaford was gone out, and eatables were scarce;
but a tea-dinner was prepared merrily between Priscilla, the Captain,
and Louis, who gloried in displaying his school-fagging accomplishments
with toast, eggs, and rashers--hobbled between parlour and kitchen,
helping Priscilla, joking with the Captain, and waiting on his father
so eagerly and joyously as to awaken a sense of adventure and enjoyment
in the Earl himself.  No meal, with Frampton behind his chair, had ever
equalled Fitzjocelyn's cookery or attendance; and Louis's reminiscences
of the penalties he had suffered from his seniors for burnt toast,
awoke like recollections of schoolboy days, hitherto in utter oblivion,
and instead of the intended delicate conversation, father and son found
themselves laughing over a 'tirocinium or review of schools.'

Still, the subject must be entered on; and when Lord Ormersfield had
mentioned the engagement to go to Oakstead, he added, 'All is well,
since I have found you here.  Let me tell you that I never felt more
grateful nor more relieved than by this instance of regard for my
wishes.'

Though knowing the fitful nature of Louis's colour, he would have been
better satisfied not to have called up such an intensity of red, and to
have had some other answer than, 'I wish you saw more of them.'

'I see them every year in London.'

'London gives so little scope for real acquaintance,' ventured Louis
again, with downcast eyes.

'You forget that Lady Conway is my sister-in-law.'  Louis would have
spoken, but his father added, 'Before you were born, I had full
experience of her.  You must take it on trust that her soft,
prepossessing manners belong to her as a woman of the world who cannot
see you without designs on you.'

'Of course,' said Louis, 'I yield to your expressed wishes; but my aunt
has been very kind to me: and,' he added, after trying to mould the
words to their gentlest form, 'you could not see my cousins without
being convinced that it is the utmost injustice--'

'I do not censure them,' said his father, as he hesitated between
indignation and respect, 'I only tell you, Louis, that nothing could
grieve me more than to see your happiness in the keeping of a pupil of
Lady Conway.'

He met a look full of consternation, and of struggles between filial
deference and the sense of injustice.  All Louis allowed himself to say
was, however, 'Surely, when I am her own nephew! when our poverty is a
flagrant fact--she may be acquitted of anything but caring for me
for--for my mother's sake.'

There was a silence that alarmed Louis, who had never before named his
mother to the Earl.  At last, Lord Ormersfield spoke clearly and
sternly, in characteristic succinct sentences, but taking breath
between each.  'You shall have no reason to think me prejudiced.  I
will tell you facts.  There was a match which she desired for such
causes as lead her to seek you.  The poverty was greater, and she knew
it.  On one side there was strong affection; on that which she
influenced there was--none whatever.  If there were scruples, she
smothered them.  She worked on a young innocent mind to act out her
deceit, and without a misgiving on--on his part that his feelings wore
not returned, the marriage took place.'

'It could not have been all her own fault,' cried Louis.  'It must have
been a willing instrument--much to blame--'

His father cut him short with sudden severity, such as startled him.
'Never say so, Louis.  She was a mere child, educated for that sole
purpose, her most sweet and docile nature wasted and perverted.'

'And you know this of your own knowledge?' said Fitzjocelyn, still
striving to find some loophole to escape from such testimony.

The Earl paused, as if to collect himself, then repeated the words,
slowly and decidedly, 'Of my own knowledge.  I could not have spoken
thus otherwise.'

'May I ask how it ended?'

'As those who marry for beauty alone have a right to expect.  There was
neither confidence nor sympathy.  She died early.  I--we--those who
loved her as their own life--were thankful.'

Louis perceived the strong effort and great distress with which these
words were uttered, and ventured no answer, glancing hastily through
all his connexions to guess whose history could thus deeply affect his
father; but he was entirely at a loss; and Lord Ormersfield, recovering
himself, added, 'Say no more of this; but, believe me, it was to spare
you from her manoeuvres that I kept you apart from that family.'

'The Northwold baths have been recommended for Louisa,' said
Fitzjocelyn.  'Before we knew of your objections, we mentioned Miss
Faithfull's lodgings.'

What the Earl was about to utter, he suppressed.

'You cannot look at those girls and name manoeuvring!' cried Louis.

'Poor things.'

After a silence, Lord Ormersfield added, with more anxiety than
prudence, 'Set my mind at rest, Louis.  There can have been no harm
done yet, in so short a time.'

'I--don't--know--' said Louis, slowly.  'I have seldom spoken to her,
to be sure.  She actually makes me shy!  I never saw anything half so
lovely.  I cannot help her reigning over my thoughts.  I shall never
believe a word against her, though I cannot dispute what you say of my
aunt.  She is of another mould, I wish you could let me hope that--'

A gesture of despair from his father cut him short.

'I will do whatever you please,' he concluded.

'You will find that time conquers the fancy,' said the Earl, quickly.
'I am relieved to find that you have at least not committed yourself:
it would be no compliment to Mary Ponsonby.'

Louis's lip curled somewhat; but he said no more, and made no
objections to the arrangements which his father proceeded to detail.
Doubtful of the accommodations of Ebbscreek, Lord Ormersfield had
prudently retained his fly, and though Louis, intending to sleep on the
floor, protested that there was plenty of room, he chose to return to
the inn at Bickleypool.  He would call for Louis to-morrow, to take him
for a formal call at Beauchastel; and the day after they would go
together to Oakstead, leaving James to return home, about ten days
sooner than had been previously concerted.

Lord Ormersfield had not been gone ten minutes, before James's quick
bounding tread was heard far along the dry woodland paths. He vaulted
over the gate, and entered by the open window, exclaiming, as he did
so, 'Hurrah!  The deed is done; the letter is off to engage the House
Beautiful.'

'Doom is doom!' were the first words that occurred to Louis.  'The lion
and the prince.'

'What's that?'

'There was once a king,' began Louis, as if the tale were the newest in
the world, 'whose son was predestined to be killed by a lion. After
much consideration, his majesty enclosed his royal highness in a tower,
warranted wild-beast proof, and forbade the chase to be mentioned in
his hearing.  The result was, that the locked-up prince died of
look-jaw in consequence of tearing his hand with a nail in the picture
of the lion.'

'I shall send that apologue straight to Ormersfield.'

'You may spare that trouble.  My father has been with me all the
evening.'

'Oh! his double-ganger visits you.  That accounts for your freaks.'

'Double-gangers seldom come in yellow-bodied flys.'

'His lordship in propria persona.  You don't mean it.'

'He is sleeping at the 'George' at Bickleypool.  There is a letter
coming to-morrow by the post, to say he is coming to-day, with every
imaginable civility to you; but I am to go to the rose-coloured
pastor's with him on Wednesday.'

'So there's an end of our peace and comfort!'

'I am afraid we have sadly discomposed his peace.'

'Did you discover whether his warnings have the slightest foundation?'

'He told me a history that somewhat accounts for his distrust of my
aunt.  I think there must be another side to it, and nothing can be
more unjust than to condemn all the family, but it affected him so
exceedingly that I do not wonder at his doing so.  He gave no names,
but I am sure it touched him very nearly.  Can you tell who it could
have been?'  And he narrated enough to make James exclaim, 'It ought to
touch him nearly.  He was talking of himself.'

'Impossible!--my mother!' cried Louis, leaping up.

'Yes--his own version of his married life.'

'How do you know?  You cannot remember it,' said Louis, though too well
convinced, as he recollected the suppressed anguish, and the horror
with which all blame of the young wife had been silenced.

'I have heard of it again and again.  It was an unhappy, ill-assorted
marriage: she was gay, he was cold.'

'My Aunt Catharine says so?'

'As far as she can blame anything.  Your mother was a sweet blossom in
a cold wind.  She loved and pitied her with all her heart.  Your aunt
was talking, this very evening, of your father having carried her
sister to Ormersfield, away from all her family, and one reason of her
desire to go to Northwold is to see those who were with her at last.'

Louis was confounded.  'Yes! I see,' he said.  'How obtuse not to read
it in his own manner!  How much it explains!' and he silently rested
his brow on his hands.

'Depend upon it, there are two sides to the story.  I would not be a
pretty, petted, admired girl in his keeping.'

'Do you think it mends matters with me to fasten blame on either?' said
Louis, sadly.  'No; I was realizing the perception of such a thread of
misery woven into his life, and thinking how little I have felt for
him.'

'Endowing him with your own feelings, and then feeling for him!'

'No.  I cannot estimate his feeling.  He is of harder, firmer stuff
than I; and for that very reason, I suspect, suffering is a more
terrific thing.  I heard the doctors saying, when I bore pain badly,
that it would probably do the less future harm: a bad moral, but I
believe it is true of the mental as of the physical constitution.'
Answering something between a look and a shrug of James, he mused on,
aloud--'I understand better what the wreck of affection must have been.'

'For my part,' said James, 'I do not believe in the affection that can
tyrannize over and blight a woman.'

'Nay, James! I cannot doubt.  My very name--my having been called by
it, are the more striking in one so fond of usage and precedent. Things
that passed between him and Mrs. Ponsonby while I was ill--much that I
little regarded and ill requited--show what force of love and grief
there must have been.  The cold, grave manner, is the broken,
inaccessible edge of the cliff rent asunder.'

'If romance softens the rough edge, you are welcome to it!  I may as
well go to bed!'

'Not romance--the sad reality of my poor father's history.  I trust I
shall never treat his wishes so lightly--'

Impatient of one-sided sympathy, James exclaimed, 'As if you did not
give way to him like a slave!'

'Yes, like a slave,' said Louis, gravely.  'I wish to give way like a
son who would try to comfort him for what he has undergone.'

'Now, I should have thought your feeling would have been for your
mother!'

'If my mother could speak to me,' said Louis, with trembling lips, 'she
would surely bid me to try my utmost, as far as in me lies, to bring
peace and happiness to my father.  I cannot tell where the errors may
have been, and I will never ask.  If she was as like to me as they say,
I could understand some of them!  At least, I know that I am doubly
bound to give as little vexation to him as possible, and I trust that
you will not make it harder to me.  You lost your father so early, that
you can hardly estimate--'

'The trial?' said James, willing to give what had passed the air of a
joke.

'Exactly so--Good night.'



CHAPTER XIV.

NEW INHABITANTS.

  Sometimes a troop of damsels glad--
  Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
  Or long-haired page in crimson clad,
      Goes by to towered Camelot;
  And sometimes, through the mirror blue,
  The knights come riding two and two.
  She hath no loyal knight and true--
      The Lady of Shalott.
                          TENNYSON.


'Oakstead, Oct. 14th, 1847.

'My Dear Aunt,--I find that Fitzjocelyn is writing to you, but I think
you will wish for a fuller account of him than can be obtained from his
own letters.  Indeed, I should be much obliged if you would kindly
exercise your influence to persuade him that he is not in a condition
to be imprudent with impunity.  Sir Miles Oakstead was absolutely
shocked to see the alteration in his appearance, as well as in his
spirits; and although both our kind host and hostess are most
solicitous on his account, it happens unfortunately that they are at
this juncture quite alone, so that he is without companions of his own
age.  I must not, however, alarm you.  The fact is, that circumstances
have occurred which, though he has acted in the most exemplary manner,
have harassed and distressed him a good deal, and his health suffers
from the difficulty of taking sufficient exercise. James will triumph
when he hears that I regret having shortened his stay by the sea-side;
for neither the place nor the weather seems to agree with him: he has
had a recurrence of wakeful nights, and is very languid.  Poor boy!
yesterday he wandered out alone in the rain, lost his way, and came
home so fatigued that he slept for three hours on the sofa, but to-day
he seems better--has more colour, and has been less silent.  We go to
Leffingham Castle from Monday till Thursday, when I shall take him to
London for Hastings to decide whether it be fit for him to return to
Christchurch after the vacation, according to his own most anxious
wish.  With my love to Mary Ponsonby and her daughter, and best
remembrances to James,

                                     'Your affectionate nephew,
                                               'ORMERSFIELD.'


The same envelope contained another letter of many sheets, beginning in
a scrawl:--


'Scene--Rose-coloured Pastor's Nest.  Tables, chairs, books, papers,
despatch-boxes.  The two ex-ministers writing and consulting. Viscount
F. looking on like a colt running beside its parent at plough, thinking
that harness leaves deep marks, and that he does not like the furrow.

'October 13th, 1847.--That correct date must be a sign that he is
getting into harness.

'Well, dear Aunt Kitty, to make a transition from the third to the
first person, like Mrs. Norris, you have in this short scene an epitome
of the last fortnight.  Lady Oakstead is an honourable matron, whom I
pity for having me in her way; a man unable to be got rid of by the
lawful exercises of shooting and riding, and with a father always
consulting her about him, and watching every look and movement, till
the blood comes throbbing to my temples by the mere attraction of his
eyes.  To be watched into a sense of impatience and ingratitude, is a
trial of life for which one is not prepared.  My father and Sir Miles
are very busy; I hang here an anomaly, sitting with them as being less
in their way than in Lady Oakstead's, and wondering what I shall be
twenty years hence.  I am sick of the only course of life that will
content my father, and I can see no sunshine likely to brighten it.
But, at least, no one's happiness is at stake but my own.  Here is a
kind, cordial letter from Lady Conway, pressing me to join her at
Scarborough, make expeditions, &c.  My father is in such a state about
me, that I believe I could get his consent to anything, but I suppose
it would not be fair, and I have said nothing to him as yet.  On Monday
we go to Leffingham, which, I hear, is formality itself.  After that,
more state visits, unless I can escape to Oxford.  My father fancies me
not well enough; but pray unite all the forces of the Terrace to
impress that nothing else will do me any good.  Dragging about in this
dreary, heartless way is all that ails me, and reading for my degree
would be the best cure.  I mean to work hard for honours, and, if
possible, delude myself with hopes of success.  Work is the need.
Here, there is this one comfort.  There is no one to talk to, no birds
in last year's nest, sons absent, daughters disposed of, but,
unluckily, the Pastoress, under a mistaken sense of kindness, has asked
the Vicar's son to walk with me, and he is always lying in wait,--an
Ensign in a transition state between the sheepish schoolboy and the
fast man, with an experience of three months of depot.  Having roused
him from the pristine form, I regret the alternative.

'Did I ever write so savage a letter?  Don't let it vex you, or I won't
send it.  What a bull!  There is such a delectable Scotch mist, that no
one will suspect me of going out; and I shall actually cheat the
Ensign, and get a walk in solitude to hearten me for the dismal state
dinner party of the evening.

'October 14th.--Is it in the book of fate that I should always treat
this rose-coloured pastor like a carrion crow?  I have done it again!
And it has but brought out more of my father's marvellous kindness and
patience.

'I plunged into the Scotch mist unsuspected and unpursued.  The visible
ebullition of discontent had so much disgusted me that I must needs see
whether anything could be done with it, and fairly face the matter, as
I can only do in a walk.  Pillow counsel is feverish and tumultuous;
one is hardly master of oneself.  The soft, cool, mist-laden air, heavy
but incense-breathing, was a far more friendly adjunct in the quiet
decay of nature--mournful, but not foul nor corrupt, because man had
not spoilt it.  It suited me better than a sunny, glaring day, such as
I used to revel in, and the brightness of which, last spring, made me
pine to be in the free air.  Such days are past with me; I had better
know that they are, and not strive after them.  Personal happiness is
the lure, not the object, in this world.  I have my Northwold home, and
I am beginning to see that my father's comfort depends on me as I
little imagined, and sufficiently to sweeten any sacrifice.  So I have
written to refuse Scarborough, for there is no use in trying to combine
two things, pleasing my father and myself.  I wish the determination
may last; but mine have never been good for much, and you must help me.

'Neither thinking nor fog conduced to seeing where I was going; and
when my ankle began to give out, and I was going to turn, I ran into a
hedge, which, looming through the mist, I had been taking for a fine
range of distant mountains--rather my way of dealing with other
objects.  Being without a horse on whose neck to lay the reins, I could
only coast the hedge, hoping it might lead me back to Oakstead Park,
which I had abandoned in my craving for space and dread of being dogged
by the Ensign.  But the treacherous hedge led me nowhere but to a
horsepond; and when I had struggled out of the adjacent mire, and
attained a rising ground, I could only see about four yards square of
bare down, all the rest being grey fog.  Altogether, the scene was
worth something.  I heard what I thought the tinkling of a sheep bell
through the cloud, which dulled the sound like cotton wool; I pursued
the call, when anon, the veil began to grow thin, and revealed, looking
just like a transparency, a glimpse of a little village in a valley
almost under my feet, trees, river, church-spire and all, and the bell
became clearer, and showed me what kind of flock it was meant for.  I
turned that way, and had just found a path leading down the steep, when
down closed the cloud--a natural dissolving view--leaving me wondering
whether it had been mirage or imagination, till presently, the curtain
drew up in earnest.  Out came, not merely form, but colour, as I have
seen a camera clear itself--blue sky, purple hills, russet and orange
woods, a great elm green picked out with yellow, a mass of brown oaks,
a scarlet maple, a beech grove, skirting a brilliant water meadow, with
a most reflective stream running through it, and giving occasion for a
single arched bridge, and a water mill, with a wheel draperied with
white foam; two swans disporting on the water (I would not declare they
were not geese), a few cottony flakes of mist hanging over damp
corners, the hill rising green, with the bright whitewashed cottages of
this district, on the side a rich, red, sandstone-coloured church, late
architecture, tower rather mouldering--all the more picturesque;
churchyard, all white headstones and ochreous sheep, surmounted by a
mushroom-shaped dark yew tree, railed in with intensely white rails,
the whole glowing in the parting coup-de-soleil of a wet day, every
tear of every leaf glistening, and everything indescribably lustrous.
It is a picture that one's mental photograph ought to stamp for life,
and the cheering and interest it gave, no one but you can understand. I
wished for you, I know.  It looks so poor in words.

'After the service, I laid hold of the urchin whose hearty stare had
most reminded me of Tom Madison, and gave him a shilling to guide me
back to Oakstead, a wise measure, for down came the cloud, blotting all
out like the Castle of St. John, and by the time I came home, it was
pitch dark and raining hard, and my poor father was imagining me at the
foot of another precipice.  I was hoping to creep up in secret, but
they all came out, fell upon me, Lady Oakstead sent me tea, and ordered
me to rest; and so handsomely did I obey, that when next I opened my
eyes, and saw my father waiting, as I thought, for me to go down to
dinner with him, I found he had just come up after the ladies had
quitted the dining-room.  So kind and so little annoyed did he seem,
that I shook myself, to be certified that I had broken no more bones,
but it was all sheer forbearance and consideration--enough to go to
one's heart--when it was the very thing to vex him most.  With great
penitence, I went down, and the first person I encountered was the very
curate I had seen in my _mist_erious village, much as if he had walked
out of a story book. On fraternizing, I found him to be a friend of
Holdsworth.  Lady Oakstead is going to take me, this afternoon, to see
his church, &c., thoroughly; and behold, I learn from him that she is a
notable woman for doing good in her parish, never so happy as in
trotting to cottages, though her good deeds are always in the
background. Thereupon, I ventured to attack her this morning on cottage
garniture, and obtained the very counsel I wanted about ovens and
piggeries, we began to get on together, and she is to put me up to all
manner of information that I want particularly.  I must go now, not to
keep her waiting, never mind the first half of my letter--I have no
time to cancel it now.  I find my father wants to put in a note: don't
believe a word that he says, for I am much better to-day, body and mind.


     Goosey, goosey gander,
     Where shall we wander,


Anywhere, everywhere, to remain still
                     'Your most affectionate,
                                    'FITS GOSLING.'


Dear Aunt Kitty!  One of her failings was never to be able to keep a
letter to herself.  She fairly cried over her boy's troubles; and Mrs.
Ponsonby would not have known whether to laugh or cry but for James's
doleful predictions, which were so sentimental as to turn even his
grandmother to the laughing party, and left him no sympathizer but
Mary, who thought it very hard and cruel to deride Louis when he was
trying so earnestly to be good and suffering so much.  Why should they
all--Aunt Catharine herself--be merry over his thinking the spring-days
of his life past away, and trying so nobly and patiently to resign
himself?

'It is the way of the world, Mary,' said James.  'People think they are
laughing at the mistaking a flock of sheep for the army of Pentapolin
of the naked arm, when they are really sneering at the lofty spirit
taking the weaker side.  They involve the sublime temper in the
ridiculous accident, and laugh both alike to scorn.'

'Not mamma and Aunt Catharine,' said Mary.  'Besides, is not half the
harm in the world done by not seeing where the sublime is invaded by
the ridiculous?'

'I see nothing ridiculous in the matter,' said James.  'His father has
demanded an unjustifiable sacrifice.  Fitzjocelyn yields and suffers.'

'I do believe Lord Ormersfield must relent; you see how pleased he is,
saying that Louis's conduct is exemplary.'

'He would sacrifice a dozen sons to one prejudice!'

'Perhaps Miss Conway will overcome the prejudice.  I am sure, if he
thinks Louis's conduct exemplary, Louis must have the sort of happiness
he used to wish for most, and his father would do his very best to
gratify him.'

That sentence was Mary's cheval de bataille in her discussions with
James, who could never be alone with her without broaching the subject.
The two cousins often walked together during James's month at
Northwold.  The town church was not very efficiently served, and was
only opened in the morning and late evening on Sundays, without any
afternoon prayers, and James was often in the habit of walking to
Ormersfield church for the three o'clock service, and asking Mary to
join him.  Their return was almost always occupied in descriptions of
Miss Conway's perfections, and Mary learnt to believe that two beings,
evidently compounded of every creature's best, must be destined for
each other.

'How well it is,' she thought, 'that I did not stand in the way.  Oh!
how unhappy and puzzled I should be now.  How thankful I am that dear
mamma understood all for us so well!  How glad I am that Louis is
waiting patiently, not doing anything self-willed.  As long as his
father says he is exemplary, it must make one happy, and mamma will
convince Lord Ormersfield.  It will all turn out well; and how
delightful it will be to see him quite happy and settled!'

Mary and her mother had by this time taken root at Dynevor Terrace, and
formed an integral part of the inhabitants.  Their newspaper went the
round of the houses, their name was sent to the Northwold book-club and
enrolled among the subscribers to local charities, and Miss Mercy
Faithfull found that their purse and kitchen would bear deeper hauls
than she could in general venture upon.  Mary was very happy, working
under her, and was a welcome and cheerful visitor to the many sick,
aged, and sorrowful to whom she introduced her.

If Mary could only have induced Aunt Melicent to come and see with her
own eyes, to know Mrs. Frost and the Faithfull sisters, and, above all,
to see mamma in her own house, she thought one of her most eager wishes
would have been fulfilled.  But invite as she and her mother might,
they could not move Miss Ponsonby from Bryanstone Square.  Railroads
and country were both her dread; and she was not inclined, to overcome
her fears on behalf of a sister-in-law whom she forgave, but could not
love.

'You must give it up, my dear,' said Mrs. Ponsonby.  'I let the time
for our amalgamation pass.  Melicent and I were not tolerant of each
other.  Since she has given you back to me, I can love and respect her
as I never did before; but a little breach in youth becomes too wide in
age for either repentance or your affection, my dear, to be able to
span it.'

Mary saw what a relief it was that the invitations were not accepted,
and though she was disappointed, she blamed herself for having wished
otherwise.  Tranquillity was such a boon to that wearied spirit, each
day was so much gain that went by without the painful, fluttered look
of distress, and never had Mrs. Ponsonby had so much quiet enjoyment
with her daughter and her aunt.  Mary was perfectly contented in seeing
her better, and had no aims beyond the present trivial, commonplace
life, with so many to help by little ordinary services, and her mother
serene and comfortable.  Placid, and yet active, she went busily
through the day, and did not forget the new pleasures to which Louis
had opened her mind.  She took up his books without a pang, and would
say, briskly and unblushingly, to her mother, how strange it was that
before she had been with him, she had never liked at all, what she now
cared for so much.

The winter portended no lack of excitement.  Miss Faithfull's rooms
were engaged.  When Miss Mercy ran in breathless to Mrs. Frost with the
tidings, she little knew what feelings were excited; the hope and fear,
the doubt and curiosity; the sense of guilt towards the elder nephew,
in not preventing what she could not prevent, the rejoicing on behalf
of the younger nephew; the ladylike scorn of the motives that brought
the lodgers; yet the warm feeling towards what was dear to Louis and
admired by Jem.

What a flapping and battering of carpets on the much-enduring stump!
What furious activity of Martha!  What eager help of little Charlotte,
who was in a perfect trepidation of delight at the rumour that a real
beauty, fit for a heroine, was coming!  What trotting hither and
thither of Miss Mercy!  What netting of blinds and stitching of chintz
by Miss Salome!  What envy and contempt on the part of other landladies
on hearing that Miss Faithfull's apartments were engaged for the whole
winter!  What an anxious progress was Miss Mercy's, when she conducted
Mrs. Frost and Mary to a final inspection! and what was her triumph
when Mary, sitting down on the well-stuffed arm-chair, pronounced that
people who would not come there did not understand what comfort was.

Every living creature gazed--Mrs. Frost through her blind, Mary behind
her hydrangea in the balcony, Charlotte from her attic window,--when
the lodgers disembarked in full force--two ladies, two children, one
governess, three maids, two men, two horses, one King Charles's
spaniel!  Let it be what it might, it was a grand windfall for the Miss
Faithfulls.

Mary's heart throbbed as the first carriage thundered upon the gravel,
and a sudden swelling checked her voice as she was about to exclaim
'There she is!' when the second lady emerged, and moved up the garden
path.  She was veiled and mantled; but accustomed as was Mary's eye to
the Spanish figure and walk, the wonderful grace of movement and
deportment struck her as the very thing her eye had missed ever since
she left Peru.  What the rest of the strangers were like, she knew not;
she had only eyes for the creature who had won Louis's affection, and
doubtless deserved it, as all else that was precious.

'So they are come, Charlotte,' said Mrs. Frost, as the maiden demurely
brought in the kettle.

'Yes, ma'am;' and stooping to put the kettle on, and growing
carnation-coloured over the fire.  'Oh, ma'am, I never saw such a young
lady.  She is all one as the king's sister in The Lord of the Isles!'

While the object of all this enthusiasm was arriving at the Terrace,
she was chiefly conscious that Sir Roland was sinking down on the
ramparts of Acre, desperately wounded in the last terrible siege; and
she was considering whether palmer or minstrel should carry the tidings
of his death to Adeline.  It was her refuge from the unpleasant
feelings, with which she viewed the experiment of the Northwold baths
upon Louisa's health.  As the carriage stopped, she cast one glance at
the row of houses, they struck her as dreary and dilapidated; she drew
her mantle closer, shivered, and walked into the house.  'Small rooms,
dingy furniture-that is mamma's affair,' passed through her mind, as
she made a courteous acknowledgment of Miss Mercy's greeting, and stood
by the drawing-room fire.  'Roland slowly awoke from his swoon; a
white-robed old man, with a red eight-pointed cross on his breast, was
bending over him.  He knew himself to be in--I can't remember which
tower the Hospitallers defended.  I wonder whether Marianne can find
the volume of Vertot.'

'Isabel, Isabel!' shrieked Virginia, who, with Louisa, had been roaming
everywhere, 'here is a discovery in the school-room!  Come!'

It was an old framed print of a large house, as much of a sham castle
as the nature of things would permit; and beneath were the words
'Cheveleigh, the seat of Roland Dynevor, Esquire.'

'There!' cried Virginia; 'you see it is a castle, a dear old feudal
castle!  Think of that, Isabel!  Why, it is as good as seeing Sir
Roland himself, to have seen Mr. Dynevor Frost disinherited.  Oh! if
his name were only Roland, instead of that horrid James!'

'His initials are J. R.,' said Isabel.  'It is a curious coincidence.'

'It only wants an Adeline to have the castle now,' said Louisa.  'Oh!
there shall be an heiress, and she shall be beautiful, and he shan't go
crusading--he shall marry her.'

The sisters had not been aware that the school-room maid, who had been
sent on to prepare, was busy unpacking in a corner of the room. 'They
say, Miss Louisa,' she interposed, 'that Mr. Frost is going to be
married to a great heiress--his cousin, Miss Ponsonby, at No. 7.'

Isabel requited the forwardness by silently leaving the room with the
sisters, and Virginia apologized for not having been more cautious than
to lead to such subjects.  'It is all gossip,' she said, angrily;  'Mr.
Dynevor would never marry for money.'

'Nay, let us find in her an Adeline,' said Isabel.

The next day, Miss Mercy had hurried into No. 7, to declare that the
ladies were all that was charming, but that their servants gave
themselves airs beyond credence, especially the butler, who played the
guitar, and insisted on a second table; when there was a peal of the
bell, and Mary from her post of observation 'really believed it was
Lady Conway herself;' whereupon Miss Mercy, without listening to
persuasions, popped into the back drawing room to effect her retreat.

Lady Conway was all eagerness and cordiality, enchanted to renew her
acquaintance, venturing so early a call in hopes of prevailing on Mrs.
Ponsonby to come out with her to take a drive.  She conjured up
recollections of Mary's childhood, declared that she looked to her for
drawing Isabel out, and was extremely kind and agreeable.  Mary thought
her delightful, with something of Louis's charm of manner; and Mrs.
Ponsonby believed it no acting, for Lady Conway was sincerely affable
and affectionate, with great warmth and kindness, and might have been
all that was excellent, had she started into life with a different code
of duty.

So there was to be an intimacy.  For Fitzjocelyn's sake, as well as for
the real good-nature of the advances, Mrs. Ponsonby would not shrink
back more than befitted her self-respect.  Of that quality she had less
than Mrs. Frost, who, with her innate punctilious spirit, avoided all
favours or patronage.  It was curious to see the gentle old lady fire
up with all the dignity of the Pendragons, at the least peril of
incurring an obligation, and, though perfectly courteous, easy, and
obliging, she contrived to keep at a greater distance than if she had
been mistress of Cheveleigh.  There, she would have remembered that
both she and Lady Conway were aunts to Louis; at Northwold, her care
was to become beholden for nothing that she could not repay.

Lady Conway did her best, when driving out with Mrs. Ponsonby, to draw
her into confidence.  There were tender reminiscences from her heart of
poor sweet Louisa, tearful inquiries respecting her last weeks,
certainties that Mrs. Ponsonby had been of great use to her; for, poor
darling, she had been thoughtless--so much to turn her head.  There was
cause for regret in their own education--there was then so much less
attention to essentials.  Lady Conway could not have borne to bring up
her own girls as she herself and her sisters had grown up; she had
chosen a governess who made religion the first object, and she was
delighted to see them all so attached to her; she had never had any
fears of their being too serious--people had learnt to be reasonable
now, did not insist on the impracticable, did not denounce moderate
gaieties, as had once been done to the alarm of poor Louisa.

Sweetest Louisa's son!  She could not speak too warmly of him, and she
declared herself highly gratified by Mr. Mansell's opinion of his
modesty, attention, and good sense.  Mr. Mansell was an excellent
judge, he had such as opinion of Lord Ormersfield's public character.

And, at a safe interval, she mentioned the probability that Beauchastel
might be settled on Isabel, if she should marry so as to please Mr.
Mansell: he cared for connexion more than for wealth; if he had a
weakness, it was for rank.

Mrs. Ponsonby thought it fair that the Earl should be aware of these
facts.  He smiled ironically.

He left his card with his sister-in-law, and, to have it over while
Louis was safe at Oxford, invited the party to spend a day at
Ormersfield, with Mrs. Frost to entertain them.  He was far too
considerate of the feelings that he attributed to the Ponsonbys to ask
them to come; and as three out of the six in company were more or less
in a state of haughtiness and coolness, Lady Conway's graces failed
entirely; and poor innocent Virginia and Louisa protested that they had
never spent so dull a day, and that they could not believe their cousin
Fitzjocelyn could belong to such a tiresome place.

Isabel, who had undergone more dull days than they had, contrived to
get through it by torturing Adeline with utter silence of all tidings
from the East, and by a swarm of suitors, with the fantastic Viscount
foremost.  She never was awake from her dream until Mr. Holdsworth came
to dinner, and was so straightforward and easy that he thawed every one.

Afterwards, he never failed to return an enthusiastic reply to the
question that all the neighbourhood were asking each other--namely,
whether they had seen Miss Conway.

No one was a more devoted admirer than the Lady of Eschalott, whose
webs had a bad chance when there was one glimpse of Miss Conway to be
obtained from the window, and the vision of whose heart was that Mrs.
Martha might some day let her stand in the housemaid's closet, to
behold her idol issue forth in the full glory of an evening dress--a
thing Charlotte had read of, but never seen anything nearer to it than
Miss Walby coming to tea, and her own Miss Clara in the scantiest of
all white muslins.

But Mrs. Martha was in an unexampled state of vixenish crossness, and
snapped venomously at mild Mrs. Beckett for the kindest offers of
sparing Charlotte to assist her in her multiplied labours.  She seemed
to be running after time all day long, with five dinners and teas upon
her hands, poor woman, and allowing herself not the slightest
relaxation, except to rush in for a few seconds to No. 7, to indulge
herself by inveighing against the whole of the fine servants; and yet
she was so proud of having lodgers at all, that she hated them for
nothing so much as for threatening to go away.

The object of her bitterest invectives was the fastidious butler, Mr.
Delaford, who by her account could do nothing for himself, grudged her
mistresses their very sitting-room, drank wine with the ladies' maids
like a gentleman, and ordered fish for the second table; talked of
having quitted a duke, and submitting to live with Lady Conway because
he compassionated unprotected females, and my Lady was dependent on him
for the care of Sir Walter in the holidays.  To crown his offences, he
never cleaned his own plate, but drew sketches and played the guitar!
Moreover, Mrs. Martha had her notions that he was making that sickly
Frenchified maid of Miss Conway's much too fond of him; and as to his
calling himself Mr. Delaford--why, Mrs. Martha had a shrewd suspicion
that he was some kin to her first cousin's brother-in-law's shopman's
wife in Tottenham-court-road, whose name she knew was Ford, and who had
been picked out of a gutter!  The establishment of such a fact appeared
as if it would be the triumph of Mrs. Martha's life.  In the meantime,
she more than hinted that she would wear herself to the bone rather
than let Charlotte Arnold into the house; and Jane, generally
assenting, though seldom going all lengths, used to divert the
conversation by comparisons with Mr. Frampton's politeness and
consideration.  He never came to No. 5 to give trouble, only to help.

The invectives produced on Charlotte's mind an effect the reverse of
what was intended.  Mr. Delaford, a finer gentleman than Mr. Frampton
and Mr. Poynings, must be a wonder of nature.  The guitar--redolent of
serenades and Spanish cloaks--oh! but once to see and hear it! The very
rudeness of Mrs. Martha's words, so often repeated, gave her a feeling
in favour of their object.  She had known Mrs. Martha unjust before.
Poor Tom! if he had only been a Spaniard, he would have sung about the
white dove--his pretty thought--in a serenade, but then he might have
poignarded Mr. James in his passion, which would have been less
agreeable--she supposed he had forgotten her long ago--and so much the
better!

It was a Sunday evening.  Every one was gone to church except
Charlotte, who was left to keep house.  Though November, it was not
cold, the day had been warm and showery, and the full moon had risen in
the most glorious brightness, riding in a sky the blue of which looked
almost black by contrast with her brilliancy.  Charlotte stood at the
back door, gazing at the moon walking in brightness, and wandered into
the garden, to enjoy what to her was beyond all other delights, reading
Gessner's Death of Abel by moonlight.  There was quite sufficient
light, even if she had not known the idyll almost by heart; and in a
trance of dreamy, undefined delight, she stood beside the dark
ivy-covered wall, each leaf glistening in the moonbeams, which shed a
subdued pearliness over her white apron and collar, paled but gave a
shadowy refinement to her features, and imparted a peculiar soft golden
gloss to the fair braids of hair on her modest brow.

A sound of opening the back gate made her give one of her violent
starts; but before she could spring into the shelter of the house, she
was checked by the civil words, 'I beg your pardon, I was mistaken--I
took this for No. 8.'

'Three doors off--' began Charlotte, discovering, with a shy thrill of
surprise and pleasure, that she had been actually accosted by the great
Mr. Delaford; and the moonlight, quite as becoming to him as to her,
made him an absolute Italian count, tall, dark, pale, and whiskered.
He did not go away at once, he lingered, and said softly, 'I perceive
that you partake my own predilection for the moonlight hour.'

Charlotte would have been delighted, had it not been a great deal
harder to find an answer than if the old Lord had asked her a question;
but she simpered and blushed, which probably did just as well.  Mr.
Delaford supposed she knew the poet's lines--

     'How sweet the moonlight sleeps on yonder bank--'


'Oh yes, sir--so sweet!' exclaimed the Lady of Eschalott, under her
breath, though yonder bank was only represented by the chequer-work of
Mrs. Ponsonby's latticed trellis; and Mr. Delaford proceeded to quote
the whole passage, in a deep mellow voice, but with a great deal of
affectation; and Charlotte gasped, 'So beautiful!'

'I perceive that you have a fine taste for poetry,' said Mr. Delaford,
so graciously, that Charlotte presumed to say, 'Oh, sir! is it true
that you can play the guitar?'

He smiled upon her tone of veneration, and replied, 'a trifle--a little
instrumental melody was a great resource.  If his poor performance
would afford her any gratification, he would fetch his guitar.'

'Oh, sir--thank you--a psalm-tune, perhaps.  It is Sunday--if you would
be so kind.'

He smiled superciliously as he regretted that his music was not of that
description, and Charlotte felt ready to sink into the earth at the
indignity she had done the guitar in forgetting that it could accompany
anything but such songs as Valancourt sang to Emily.  She begged his
pardon humbly; and he declared that he had a great respect for a lady's
scruples, and should be happy to meet her another evening.  'If Mrs.
Beckett would allow her,' said Charlotte, overpowered with gratitude:
'there would be the moon full to-morrow--how delightful!'  He could
spare a short interval between the dinner and the tea; and with this
promise he took leave.

Honest little Charlotte told Mrs. Beckett the whole story, and all her
eager wishes for to-morrow evening; and Jane sighed and puzzled
herself, and knew it would make Martha very angry, but could not help
being goodnatured.  Jane had a great deference for Martha's strong,
rough character; but then Martha had never lived in a great house, and
did not know 'what was what,' nor the difference between 'low people'
and upper servants.   So Jane acted chaperon as far as her easy
discretion went, and had it to say to her own conscience, and to the
angry Martha, that he never said one word that need offend any young
woman.

There was a terrible storm below-stairs in the House Beautiful at the
idea of Delaford taking up with Mrs. Frost's little
kitchen-maid--Delaford, the lady's-maid killer par excellence, wherever
Lady Conway went, and whose coquetries whitened the cheeks of Miss
Conway's poor Marianne, the object of his attentions whenever he had no
one else in view.  He had not known Charlotte to be a kitchen-maid when
he first beheld her, and her fair beauty and retiring grace had had
full scope, assisted by her veneration for himself; and now the scorn
of the grand Mrs. Fanshawe, and the amusement of teasing Marianne, only
made him the more bent on patronizing 'the little rustic,' as he called
her.  He was deferential to Mrs. Beckett, who felt herself in her
element in discussing plate, china, and large establishments with him;
and he lent books, talked poetry, and played the guitar to Charlotte,
and even began to take her portrait, with her mouth all on one side.

Delaford was an admirable servant, said the whole Conway family; he was
trusted as entirely as he represented, and Lady Conway often gave him
charge over her son in sports and expeditions beyond ladies'
management: he was, in effect, nearly the ruler of the household, and
never allowed his lady to go anywhere if he did not approve.  If it had
not been for the 'little rustic's' attractions, perhaps he might have
made strong demonstrations against the House Beautiful.  Little did
Miss Faithfull know the real cause of her receiving or retaining her
lodgers.



CHAPTER XV.

MOTLEY THE ONLY WEAR.

  For better far than passion's glow,
    Or aught of worldly choice,
  To listen His own will to know,
    And, listening, hear his voice.
                  The Angel of Marriage--REV. I. WILLIAMS.


The friendships that grew up out of sight were far more effective than
anything that Lady Conway could accomplish on the stage.  Miss King and
the Miss Faithfulls found each other out at once, and the governess was
entreated to knock at the door at the bottom of the stairs whenever her
pupils could spare her.

Then came eager wishes from her pupils to be admitted to the snuggery,
and they were invited to see the curiosities.  Isabel believed the
'very good' was found, and came with her sisters.  She begged to be
allowed to help in their parish work, under Miss Mercy Faithfull's
guidance; and Sir Roland stood still, while she fancied she was
learning to make little frocks, but really listening to their
revelations of so new a world.  She went out with Miss Mercy--she
undertook a class and a district, and began to be happier than ever
before; though how much of the absolute harder toil devolved on Miss
King, neither she nor the governess understood.

This led to intercourse with Mary Ponsonby; and Isabel was a very
different person in that homely, friendly parlour, from the lofty,
frigid Miss Conway of the drawing-room.  Cold hauteur melted before
Mary's frank simplicity, and they became friends as fast as two ladies
could beyond the age of romantic plunges, where on one side there was
good-will without enthusiasm, on the other enthusiasm and reserve.
They called each other 'Miss Conway' and 'Miss Ponsonby,' and exchanged
no family secrets; but they were, for all that, faster friends than
young ladies under twenty might imagine.

One winter's day, the crisp, exhilarating frost had lured them far
along the high road beyond Mr. Calcott's park palings, talking over
Isabel's favourite theme, what to wish for her little brother, when the
sound of a large clock striking three made Isabel ask where she was.

'It was the stable clock at Ormersfield,' said Mary, 'did you not know
we were on that road?'

'No, I did not.'  And Isabel would have turned, but Mary begged her to
take a few steps up the lane, that they might see how Lord
Fitzjocelyn's new cottages looked.  Isabel complied, and added, after a
pause, 'Are you one of Lord Fitzjocelyn's worshippers?'

'I should not like to worship any one,' said Mary, looking
straightforward.  'I am very fond of him, because I have known him all
my life.  And he is so good!'

'Then I think I may consider you exempt!  It is the only fault I have
to find with Northwold.  You are the only person who does not rave
about him--the only person who has not mentioned his name.'

'Have I not?  I think that was very unkind of me--'

'Very kind to me,' said Isabel.

'I meant, to him,' said Mary, blushing; 'if you thought that I did not
think most highly of him--'

'Don't go on!  I was just going to trust to you for a calm,
dispassionate statement of his merits, and I shall soon lose all my
faith in you.'

'My mother--' began Mary; but just then Lord Ormersfield came forth
from one of the cottages, and encountered the young ladies.  He
explained that Fitzjocelyn was coming home next week, and he had come
to see how his last orders had been executed, since Frampton and the
carpenter had sometimes chosen to think for themselves.  He was very
anxious that all should be right, and, after a few words, revealed a
perplexity about ovens and boilers, in which Mary's counsel would be
invaluable.  So, with apologies and ceremonies to Miss Conway, they
entered, and Isabel stood waiting in the dull kitchen, smelling of raw
plaster, wondering at the extreme eagerness of the discussion with the
mason over the yawning boiler, the Earl referring to his son's letter,
holding it half-a-yard off, and at last giving it to Mary to decipher
by the waning light.

So far had it waned, that when the fixtures had all been inspected,
Lord Ormersfield declared that the young ladies must not return alone,
and insisted on escorting them home.  Every five minutes some one
thought of something to say: there was an answer, and by good luck a
rejoinder; then all died away, and Mary pondered how her mother would
in her place have done something to draw the two together, but she
could not.  She feared the walk had made Isabel more adverse to all
connected with Ormersfield than even previously; for the Ormersfield
road was avoided, and the question as to Fitzjocelyn's merits was never
renewed.

Mary thought his cause would be safest in the hands of his great
champion, who was coming home from Oxford with him, and was to occupy
his vacation in acting tutor to little Sir Walter Conway.  Louis came,
the day after his return, with his father, to make visits in the
Terrace, and was as well-behaved and uninteresting as morning calling
could make him.   He was looking very well--his general health quite
restored, and his ankle much better; though he was still forbidden to
ride, and could not walk far.

'You must come and see me, Aunt Kitty,' he said; 'I am not available
for coming in to see you.  I'm reading, and I've made a resignation of
myself,' he added, with a slight blush, and debonnaire shrug, glancing
to see that his father was occupied with James.

They were to dine with Lady Conway on the following Tuesday.  In the
interim, no one beheld them except Jem, who walked to Ormersfield once
or twice for some skating for his little pupil Walter, and came back
reporting that Louis had sold himself, body and soul, to his father.

Clara came home, a degree more civilized, and burning to confide to
Louis that she had thought of his advice, had been the less miserable
for it, and had much more on which to consult him.  She could not
conceive why even grandmamma would not consent to her accompanying the
skaters; though she was giving herself credit for protesting that she
was not going on the ice, only to keep poor Louis company, while the
others were skating.

She was obliged to defer her hopes of seeing him until Tuesday, when
she had been asked to drink tea in the school-room, and appear in the
evening.  Mrs. Frost had consented, as a means of exempting herself
from the party.  And Clara's incipient feminine nature began to flutter
at her first gaiety.  The event was magnified by a present from Jem, of
a broad rose-coloured sash and white muslin dress, with a caution that
she was not to consider the tucks up to the waist as a provision for
future growth.

She flew to exhibit the finery to the Miss Faithfulls, and to consult
on the making-up, and, to her consternation, was caught by Miss Conway
kneeling on the floor, being measured by Miss Salome.  To Isabel, there
was a sort of touching novelty in the simplicity that could glory in
pink ribbon when embellished by being a brother's gift; she looked on
with calm pleasure at such homely excitement, and even fetched some
bows of her own, for examples, and offered to send Marianne down with
patterns.

Clara was enchanted to recognise in Miss Conway the vision of the
Euston-square platform.  The grand, quiet style of beauty was exactly
fitted to impress a mind like hers, so strongly imbued with sentiments
like those of Louis, and regarding Isabel as necessarily Louis's
destiny, she began to adore her accordingly, with a girl-reverence,
quite as profound, far more unselfish, and little less ardent than that
of man for woman.  That a female vision of perfection should engross
Clara's imagination, was a step towards softening her; but, poor child!
the dawn of womanhood was to come in a painful burst.

Surprised at her own aspect, with her light hair dressed by Jane and
wreathed with ivy leaves by grandmamma, and her skirts so full that she
could not refrain from making a gigantic cheese, she was inspected and
admired by granny and Jane, almost approved by Jem himself; and,
exalted by the consciousness of being well-dressed, she repaired to the
school-room tea at the House Beautiful.

Virginia and Louisa were, she thought, very poor imitations of Louis's
countenance--the one too round, the other too thin and sallow; but both
they, their brother, and Miss King were so utterly unlike anything at
school, that she was at once at ease, and began talking with Walter
over schoolboy fun, in which he could not be a greater proficient than
herself.  Walter struck up a violent friendship for her on the spot,
and took to calling her 'a fellow,' in oblivion of her sex; and
Virginia and Louisa fell into ecstasies of laughter, which encouraged
Clara and Walter to compote with each other which should most astonish
their weak minds.

In the drawing-room, Lady Conway spoke so graciously, that Clara, was
quite distressed at looking over her head.  Mary looked somewhat
oppressed, saying her mother had not been so well that day; and she was
disposed to keep in the background, and occupy herself with Clara; but
it was quite contrary to the Giraffe's notions to be engrossed by any
one when Louis was coming.  As if she had divined Mary's intentions of
keeping her from importuning him, she was continually gazing at the
door, ready at once to claim his attention.

At first, the gentlemen only appeared in a black herd at the door,
where Mr. Calcott had stopped Lord Ormersfield short, in his eagerness
to impress on him the views of the county on a police-bill in course of
preparation for the next session.  The other magistrates congregated
round; but James Frost and Sydney Calcott had slipped past, to the
piano where Lady Conway had sent Miss Calcott and Isabel.  'Why did not
Fitzjocelyn, come too?' was murmured by the young group in the recess
opposite the door; and when at last he became visible, leaning against
the wall, listening to the Squire, Virginia declared he was going to
serve them just as he used at Beauchastel.

'Oh, no! he shan't--I'll rescue him!' exclaimed Clara; and leaping up
to her cameleopard attitude, she sprang forward, and, with a voice
audible in an unlucky lull of the music, she exclaimed, 'Louis! Louis!
don't you see that I am here?'

As he turned, with a look of surprise and almost rebuke, her own words
came back to her ears as they must have sounded to others; her face
became poppy-coloured, nothing light but her flaxen eyebrows; and she
scarcely gave her hand to be shaken.  'No, I did not know you were
coming,' he said; and almost partaking her confusion, as he felt all
eyes upon her, he looked in vain for a refuge for her.

How welcome was Mary's kind face and quiet gesture, covering poor
Clara's retreat as she sank into a dark nook, sheltered by the old
black cabinet!  Louis thanked Mary by a look, as much as to say, 'Just
like you,' and was glad to perceive that James had not been present.
He had gone to ask Miss Faithfull to supply the missing stanzas of a
Jacobite song, and just then returned, saying that she knew them, but
could not remember them.

Fitzjocelyn, however, capped the fragment, and illustrated it with some
anecdotes that interested Miss Conway.  James had great hopes that she
was going to see him to the best advantage, but still there was a great
drawback in the presence of Sydney Calcott.  Idolized at home,
successful abroad, young Calcott had enough of the prig to be a
perpetual irritation to Jem Frost, all the more because he could never
make Louis resent, nor accept, as other than natural, the goodnatured
supercilious patronage of the steady distinguished senior towards the
idle junior.

Jacobite legends and Stuart relics would have made Miss Conway
oblivious of everything else; but Sydney Calcott must needs divert the
conversation from that channel by saying, 'Ah! there Fitzjocelyn is in
his element.  He is a perfect handbook to the byways of history.'

'For the diffusion of useless knowledge?' said Louis.

'Illustrated by the examination, when the only fact you could adduce
about the Argonauts was that Charles V. founded the order of the Golden
Fleece.'

'I beg your pardon; it was his great-grandfather.  I had read my
Quentin Durward too well for that.'

'I suspect,' said Isabel, 'that we had all rather be examined in our
Quentin Durward than our Charles V.

'Ah!' said young Calcott, 'I had all my dates at my fingers' ends when
I went up for the modern history prize.  Now my sister could beat me.'

'A proof of what I always say,' observed Louis, 'that it is lost labour
to read for an examination.'

'From personal experience?' asked Sydney.

'A Strasburg goose nailed down and crammed before a fire, becomes a
Strasburg pie,' said Louis.

Never did Isabel look more bewildered, and Sydney did not seem at once
to catch the meaning.  James added, 'A goose destined to fulfil the
term of existence is not crammed, but the pie stimulus is not required
to prevent it from starving.'

'Is your curious and complimentary culinary fable aimed against reading
or against examinations?' asked Sydney.

'Against neither; only against the connecting preposition.'

'Then you mean to find a superhuman set of students?'

'No; I'm past that.  Men and examinations will go on as they are; the
goose will run wild, the requirements will be increased, he will nail
himself down in his despair; and he who crams hardest, and has the
hottest place will gain.'

'Then how is the labour lost?' asked Isabel.

'You are new to Fitzjocelyn's paradoxes,' said Sydney; as if glorying
in having made Louis contradict himself.

'The question is, what is lost labour?' said Louis.

Both Sydney Calcott and Miss Conway looked as if they thought he was
arguing on after a defeat.  'Calcott is teaching her his own
obtuseness!' thought James, in a pet; and he exclaimed, 'Is the aim to
make men or winners of prizes?'

'The aim of prizes is commonly supposed to be to make men,' loftily
observed Sydney.

'Exactly so; and, therefore, I would not make them too analogous to the
Strasburg system,' said Louis.  'I would have them close, searching,
but not admitting of immediate cramming.'

'Pray how would you bring that about?'

'By having no subject on which superficial knowledge could make a show.'

'Oh!  I see whither you are working round!  That won't do now, my dear
fellow; we must enlarge our field, or we shall lay ourselves open to
the charge of being narrow-minded.'

'You have not strength of mind to be narrow-minded!' said Louis,
shaking his head.  'Ah! well, I have no more to say; my trust is in the
narrow mind, the only expansive one--'

He was at that moment called away; Lord Ormersfield's carriage had been
announced, and his son was not in a quarter of the room where he wished
to detain him.  James could willingly have bitten Sydney Calcott for
the observation, 'Poor Fitzjocelyn! he came out strong to-night.'

'Very clever,' said Isabel, wishing to gratify James.

'Oh yes, very; if he had ever taken pains,' said Sydney.  'There is
often something in his paradoxes.  After all, I believe he is reading
hard for his degree, is he not, Jem?  His feelings would not be hurt by
the question, for he never piqued himself upon his consistency.'

Luckily for the general peace, the Calcott household was on the move,
and Jem solaced himself on their departure by exclaiming, 'Well done,
Strasburg system!  A high-power Greek-imbibing machine, he may be, but
as to comprehending Fitzjocelyn--'

'Nay,' said Isabel, 'I think Lord Fitzjocelyn ought to carry about a
pocket expositor, if he will be so very startling.   He did not stay to
tell us what to understand by narrow minds.'

'Did you ever hear of any one good for anything, that was not accused
of a narrow mind?' exclaimed James.

'If that were what he meant,' said Isabel,--'but he said his trust was
in the narrow mind--'

'In what is popularly so called,' said James.

'I think,' said Mary, leaning forward, and speaking low, 'that he did
not mean it to be explained away.  I think he was going to say that the
heart may be wide, but the mind must be so far narrow, that it will
accept only the one right, not the many wrong.'

'I thought narrowness of mind consisted in thinking your own way the
only right one,' said Isabel.

'Every one says so,' said Mary, 'and that is why he says it takes
strength of mind to be narrow-minded.  Is not the real evil, the
judging people harshly, because their ways are not the same; not the
being sure that the one way is the only right!  Others may be better
than ourselves, and may be led right in spite of their error, but
surely we are not to think all paths alike--

'And is that Lord Fitzjocelyn's definition of a narrow mind?' said
Isabel.  'It sounds like faith and love.  Are you sure you did not make
it yourself, Miss Ponsonby?'

'I could not,' said Mary, blushing, as she remembered one Sunday
evening when he had said something to that effect, which had insensibly
overthrown the theory in which she had been bred up, namely, that all
the sincere were right, and yet that, practically every one was to be
censured, who did not act exactly like Aunt Melicent.

She rose to take leave, and Clara clung to her, emerging from the shade
of her cabinet with colour little mitigated since her disappearance.
James would have come with them, but was detained by Lady Conway for a
few moments longer than it took them to put on their shawls; and Clara
would not wait.  She dragged Mary down the steps into the darkness, and
groaned out, 'O Mary, he can never speak to me again!'

'My dear! he will not recollect it.  It was very awkward, but new
places and new people often do make us forget ourselves.'

'Everybody saw, everybody heard!  O, I shall never bear to meet one of
them again!'

'I think very few saw or heard--' began Mary.

'He did!  I did!  That's enough!  The rest is nothing!  I have been as
bad as any one at school!  I shall never hold up my head there again as
I have done, and Louis!  Oh!'

'Dear child, it will not be remembered.  You only forgot how tall you
were, and that you were not at home.  He knows you too well to care.'

James shouted from behind to know why they had not been let into the
house; and as Clara rushed in at the door and he walked on with Mary to
leave her at home and fetch his grandmother, who had been spending the
evening with Mrs. Ponsonby, he muttered, 'I don't know which is most
intolerable!  He neglects her, talks what, if it be not nonsense, might
as well be; and as if she were not ready enough to misunderstand,
Sydney Calcott must needs thrust in his wits to embroil her
understanding.  Mary! can't you get her to see the stuff he is made of?'

'If she cannot do that for herself, no persuasion of mine will make
her,' said Mary.

'No! you do not half appreciate him either!  No one does!  And yet you
could, if you tried, do something with her!  I see she does not think
you prejudiced.  You made an impression to-night.'

Mary felt some consternation.  Could it depend on her?   She could
speak naturally, and from her heart in defence of Louis when occasion
served; but something within her forbade the thought of doing so on a
system.  Was that something wrong!  She could not answer; but contented
herself with the womanly intuition that showed her that anything of
persuasion in the present state of affairs would be ineffectual and
unbecoming.

Meantime, Clara had fled to her little room, to bid her childhood
farewell in a flood of bitter tears.

Exaggerated shame, past disdain of the foibles of others, the fancy
that she was publicly disgraced and had forfeited Louis's good opinion,
each thought renewed her sobs; but the true pang was the perception
that old times were passed for ever.  He might forgive, he would still
be friend and cousin; but womanhood had broken on her, and shown that
perfect freedom was at an end.  Happy for her that she wept but for the
parting from a playfellow!  Happy that her feelings were young and
undeveloped, free from all the cruel permanence that earlier vanity or
self-consciousness might have given; happy that it could be so freely
washed away!  When she had spent her sobs, she could resolve to be wise
and steady, so as to be a fit governess to his children; and the tears
flowed at the notion of being so distant and respectful to his
lordship.  But what stories she could tell them of his boyhood!  And in
the midst of--'Now, my dears, I will tell you about your papa when he
was a little boy,' she fell asleep.

That party was a thing to be remembered with tingling cheeks for life,
and Clara dreaded her next meeting with Louis; but the days passed on
without his coming to the Terrace, and the terror began to wear off,
especially as she did not find that any one else remembered her
outbreak.  Mary guarded against any unfavourable impression by a few
simple words to Isabel and Miss King as to the brotherly terms that had
hitherto prevailed, and poor Clara's subsequent distress. Clara came in
for some of the bright tints in which her brother was viewed at the
House Beautiful; Walter was very fond of her, and she had been drawn
into a friendship for Virginia, cemented in the course of long walks,
when the schoolroom party always begged for Mr. and Miss Dynevor,
because no one else could keep Walter from disturbing Louisa's nerves
by teasing her pony or sliding on dubious ice.

As Mrs. Ponsonby often joined in Lady Conway's drive, Mary and Isabel
were generally among the walkers; and Mary was considered by Louisa as
an inestimable pony-leader, and an inexhaustible magazine of stories
about sharks, earthquakes, llamas, and icebergs.

James and Miss Conway generally had either book or principle to
discuss, and were usually to be found somewhat in the rear, either with
or without Miss King.  One day, however, James gave notice that he
should not be at their service that afternoon; and as soon as Walter's
lessons had been despatched, he set out with rapid steps for
Ormersfield Park, clenching his teeth together every now and then with
his determinate resolution that he would make Louis know his own mind,
and would 'stand no nonsense.'

'Ah!  James, good morning,' said the Earl, as he presented himself in
the study.  'You will find Louis in his room.  I wish you would make
him come out with you.  He is working harder than is good for him.'

He spoke of his son far differently from former times; but Jem only
returned a judiciously intoned 'Poor fellow.'

Lord Ormersfield looked at him anxiously, and, hesitating, said, 'You
do not think him out of spirits?'

'Oh, he carries it off very well.  I know no one with so strong a sense
of duty,' replied Jem, never compassionate to the father.

Again the Earl paused, then said, 'He may probably speak more
unreservedly to you than to me.'

'He shuns the topic.  He says there is no use in aggravating the
feelings by discussion.  He would fain submit in heart as well as in
will.'

Lord Ormersfield sighed, but did not appear disposed to say more; and,
charitably hoping that a dagger had been implanted in him, Jem ran
up-stairs, and found Louis sitting writing at a table, which looked as
if Mary had never been near it.

'Jem!  That's right!  I've not seen you this age.'

'What are you about?'

'I wanted particularly some one to listen.  It is an essay on the
Police--'

'Is this earnest?'

'Sober earnest.  Sir Miles and all that set are anxious to bring the
matter forward, and my father has been getting it up, as he does
whatever he may have to speak upon.  His eyes are rather failing for
candle-light work, so I have been helping him in the evening, till it
struck me that it was a curious subject to trace in history,--the
Censors, the attempts in Germany and Spain, to supply the defective
law, the Spanish and Italian dread of justice.  I became enamoured of
the notion, and when I have thrown all the hints together, I shall try
to take in my father by reading them to him as an article in the
Quarterly.'

'Oh, very well. If your soul is there, that is an end of the matter.'

'Of what matter?'

'Things cannot run on in this way.  It is not a thing to lay upon me to
go on working in your cause with her when you will not stir a step in
your own behalf.'

'I am very much obliged to you, but I never asked you to work in my
cause.  I beg your pardon, Jem, don't fly into a Welsh explosion.  No
one ever meant more kindly and generously--' He checked himself in
amaze at the demonstration he had elicited; but, as it was not
accompanied with words, he continued, 'No one can be more grateful to
you than I; but, as far as I can see, there is nothing for it but to be
thankful that no more harm has been done, and to let the matter drop;'
and he dropped his hand with just so much despondency as to make Jem
think him worth storming at, instead of giving him up; and he went over
the old ground of Louis being incapable of true passion and unworthy of
such a being if he could yield her without an effort, merely for the
sake of peace.

'I say, Jem,' said Louis, quietly, 'all this was bad enough on neutral
ground; it is mere treason under my father's own roof, and I will have
no more of it.'

'Then,' cried James, with a strange light in his eyes, 'you henceforth
renounce all hopes--all pretensions?'

'I never had either hope or pretension.  I do not cease to think her,
as I always did, the loveliest creature I ever beheld.  I cannot help
that; and the state I fell into after being with her on Tuesday,
convinced me that it is safest to stay here and fill up time and
thought as best I may.'

'For once, Fitzjocelyn,' said James, with a gravity not natural to him,
'I think better of your father than you do.  I would neither treat him
as so tyrannical nor so prejudiced as your conduct supposes him.'

'How?  He is as kind as possible.  We never had so much in common.'

'Yes.  Your submission so far, and the united testimony of the Terrace,
will soften him.  Show your true sentiments.  A little steadiness and
perseverance, and you will prevail.'

'Don't make me feverish, Jem.'

A summons to Lord Fitzjocelyn to come down to a visitor in the library
cut short the discussion, and James took leave at once, neither cousin
wishing to resume the conversation.

The darts had not been injudiciously aimed.  The father and son were
both rendered uneasy.  They had hitherto been unusually comfortable
together, and though the life was unexciting, Louis's desire to be
useful to his father, and the pressing need of working for his degree,
kept his mind fairly occupied.  Though wistful looks might sometimes be
turned along the Northwold road, when he sallied forth in the twilight
for his constitutional walk, he did not analyse which number of the
Terrace was the magnet, and he avoided testing to the utmost the powers
of his foot.  The affection and solicitude shown for him at home
claimed a full return; nor had James been greatly mistaken in ascribing
something to the facility of nature that yielded to force of character.
But Jem had stirred up much that Louis would have been contented to
leave dormant; and the hope that he had striven to excite came almost
teazingly to interfere with the passive acquiescence of an indolent
will.  Perturbed and doubtful, he was going to seek counsel as usual of
the open air, as soon as the visitor was gone, but his father followed
him into the hall, asking whither he was going.

'I do not know.  I had been thinking of trying whether I can get as far
as Marksedge.'

Marksedge would be fatal to the ankle, solitude to the spirits, thought
the Earl; and he at once declared his intention of walking with his son
as far as he should let him go.

Louis was half vexed, half flattered, and they proceeded in silence,
till conscious of being ruffled, and afraid of being ungracious, he
made a remark on the farm that they were approaching, and learnt in
return that the lease was nearly out, the tenant did not want a
renewal, and that Richardson intended to advertise.

He breathed a wish that it were in their own hands, and this led to a
statement of the condition of affairs, the same to which a year before
he had been wilfully deaf, and to which he now attended chiefly for the
sake of gratifying his father, though he better understood what
depended on it.  At least, it was making the Earl insensible to the
space they were traversing, and the black outlines of Marksedge were
rising on him before he was aware.  Then he would have turned, but
Louis pleaded that having come so far, he should be glad to speak to
Madison's grandfather, and one or two other old people, and he
prevailed.

Lord Ormersfield was not prepared for the real aspect of the hamlet.

'Richardson always declared that the cottages were kept in repair,' he
said.

'Richardson never sees them.  He trusts to Reeves.'

'The people might do something themselves to keep the place decent.'

'They might; but they lose heart out of sight of respectability.  I
will just knock at this door--I will not detain you a moment.'

The dark smoky room, damp, ill-paved floor, and cracked walls produced
their effect; and the name and voice of the inmate did more. Lord
Ormersfield recognised a man who had once worked in the garden, and
came forward and spoke, astonished and shocked to find him prematurely
old.  The story was soon told; there had been a seasoning fever as a
welcome to the half-reclaimed moorland; ague and typhus were frequent
visitors, and disabling rheumatism a more permanent companion to
labourers exhausted by long wet walks in addition to the daily toil.
At an age less than that of the Earl himself, he beheld a bowed and
broken cripple.

Fitzjocelyn perceived his victory, and forebore to press it too
hastily, lest he should hurt his father's feelings; and walked on
silently, thinking how glad Mary would be to hear of this expedition,
and what a pity it was that the unlucky passage of last August should
have interfered with their comfortable friendship.  At last the Earl
broke silence by saying, 'It is very unfortunate;' and Louis echoed,
'Very.'

'My poor Uncle Dynevor!  He was, without exception, the most
wrong-headed person I ever came in contact with, yet so excessively
plausible and eager that he carried my poor father entirely along with
him.  Louis! nothing is so ruinous as to surrender the judgment.'

Fully assenting, Louis wondered whether Marksedge would serve no
purpose save the elucidation of this truism, and presently another
ensued.

'Mischief is sooner done than repaired.  As I have been allowing you,
there has never been ready money at command.'

'I thought there were no more mortgages to be paid off.  The rents of
the Fitzjocelyn estate and the houses in the lower town must come to
something.'

He was then told how these, with his mother's fortune, had been set
apart to form a fund for his establishment, and for the first time he
was shown the object of arrangements against which he had often in
heart rebelled.  His first impulse was to exclaim that it was a great
pity, and that he could not bear that his father should have denied
himself on his account.

'Do you think these things are sacrifices to me?' said the Earl.  'My
habits were formed long ago.'

'Mine have been formed on yours,' said Louis.  'I should be encumbered
by such an income as you propose unless you would let me lay it out in
making work for the men and improving the estate, and that I had rather
you undertook, for I should be certain to do something preposterous,
and then be sorry.'

'Mrs. Ponsonby judged rightly.  It was her very advice.'

'Then!' cried Louis, as if the deed were done.

'You would not find the income too large in the event of your marriage.'

'A most unlikely event!'

His father glanced towards him. If there had been a symptom of
unhappiness, relenting was near, but it so chanced that Marksedge was
reigning supreme, and he was chiefly concerned to set aside the
supposition as an obstacle to his views.  The same notion as James
Frost's occurred to the Earl, that it could not be a tenacious
character which could so easily set aside an attachment apparently so
fervent, but the resignation was too much in accordance with his
desires to render him otherwise than gratified, and he listened with
complacency to Louis's plans.  Nothing was fixed, but there was an
understanding that all should have due consideration.

This settled, Louis's mind recurred to the hint which his father had
thrown out, and he wondered whether it meant that the present
compliance might be further stretched, but he thought it more likely to
be merely a reference to ordinary contingencies.  Things were far too
comfortable between him and his father to be disturbed by discussion,
and he might ultimately succeed better by submitting, and leaving facts
and candour to remove prejudice.

To forget perplexity in the amusement of a mystification, he brought
down his essay, concealing it ingeniously within a review flanked by
blue-books, and, when Lord Ormersfield was taking out a pair of
spectacles with the reluctance of a man not yet accustomed to them, he
asked him if he would like to hear an article on the Police question.

At first the Earl showed signs of nodding, and said there was nothing
to the purpose in all the historical curiosities at the outset, so that
Louis, alarmed lest he should absolutely drop asleep, skipped all his
favourite passages, and came at once to the results of the recent
inquiries.  The Earl was roused.  Who could have learnt those facts?
That was telling--well put, but how did he get hold of it. The very
thing he had said himself--What Quarterly was it?  Surely the Christmas
number was not out.  Hitherto Louis had kept his countenance and voice,
but in an hiatus, where he was trying to extemporize, his father came
to look over his shoulder to see what ailed the book, and, glancing
upwards with a merry debonnaire face, he made a gesture as if convicted.

'Do you mean that this is your own composition?'

'I beg your pardon for the pious fraud!'

'It is very good!  Excellently done!' said Lord Ormersfield.  'There
are redundancies--much to betray an unpractised hand--but--stay, let me
hear the rest--' Very differently did he listen now, broad awake,
attacking the logic of every third sentence, or else double shotting it
with some ponderous word, and shaking his head at Utopian views of
crime to be dried up at the fountain head.  Next, he must hear the
beginning, and ruthlessly picked it to pieces, demolishing all the
Vehme Gericht and Santissima Hermandad as irrelevant, and, when he had
made Louis ashamed and vexed with the whole production, astonishing him
by declaring that it would tell, and advising him to copy it out fair
with these _little_ alterations.

These _little_ alterations would, as he was well aware, evaporate all
the spirit, and though glad to have pleased his father, his
perseverance quailed before the task; but he said no more than thank
you.  The next day, before he had settled to anything, Lord Ormersfield
came to his room, saying, 'You will be engaged with your more important
studies for the next few hours.  Can you spare the paper you read to me
last night?'

'I can spare it better than you can read it, I fear,' said Louis,
producing a mass of blotted MS in all his varieties of penmanship, and
feeling a sort of despair at the prospect of being brought to book on
all his details.

His father carried it off, and they did not meet again till late in the
day, when the first thing Louis heard was, 'I thought it worth while to
have another opinion on your manuscript before re-writing it.  I tried
to read it to Mrs. Ponsonby, but we were interrupted, and I left it
with her.'

Presently after.  'I have made an engagement for you.  Lady Conway
wishes that you should go to luncheon with her to-morrow.  I believe
she wants to consult you about some birth-day celebration.'

Louis was much surprised, and somewhat entertained.

'When will you have the carriage?' pursued the Earl.

'Will not you come?'

'No, I am not wanted.  In fact, I do not see how you can be required,
but anything will serve as an excuse.  In justice, however, I should
add that our friends at the Terrace are disposed to think well of the
younger part of the family.'

Except for the cold constraint of the tone, Louis could have thought
much ground gained, but he was sure that his holiday would be damped by
knowing that it was conceded at the cost of much distress and
uneasiness.

Going to Northwold early enough for a call at No. 5, he was greeted by
Mrs. Frost with, 'My dear! what have you been about?  I never saw your
father so much pleased in his life!  He came in on purpose to tell me,
and I thought it exceedingly kind.  So you took him in completely.
What an impudent rogue you always were!'

'I never meant it to go beyond the study.  I was obliged to write it
down in self-defence, that I might know what he was talking of.'

'I believe he expects you to be even with Sydney Calcott after all. It
is really very clever.  Where did you get all those funny stories?'

'What! you have gone and read it!'

'Ah, ha!  Mrs. Ponsonby gave us a pretty little literary soiree. Don't
be too proud, it was only ourselves, except that Mary brought in Miss
Conway.  Jem tried to read it, but after he had made that Spanish
Society into 'Hammer men dead,' Mary got it away from him, and read
through as if it had been in print.'

'What an infliction!'

'It is very disrespectful to think us so frivolous.  We only wished all
reviews were as entertaining.'

'It is too bad, when I only wanted to mystify my father.'

'It serves you right for playing tricks.  What have you been doing to
him, Louis?  You will turn him into a doting father before long.'

'What have you done with Clara?'

'She goes every day to read Italian with Miss Conway, and the governess
is so kind as to give her drawing lessons.  She is learning far more
than at school, and they are so kind!  I should hardly know how to
accept it, but Jem does not object, and he is really very useful there,
spends a great deal of time on the boy, and is teaching the young
ladies Latin.'

'They are leaving you lonely in the holidays!  You ought to come to
Ormersfield, your nephews would take better care of you.'

'Ah! I have my Marys.  If I were only better satisfied about the dear
old one.  She is far less well than when she came.'

'Indeed!  Is Mary uneasy?'

'She says nothing, but you know how her eye is always on her, and she
never seems to have her out of her thoughts.  I am afraid they are
worried about Lima.  From what Oliver says, I fear Mr. Ponsonby goes on
worse than ever without either his family or his appointment to be a
restraint.'

'I hope they do not know all!  Mary would not believe it, that is one
comfort!'

'Ah, Louis! there are things that the heart will not believe, but which
cut it deeply!  However, if that could be any comfort to them, he
wishes them to spare nothing here.  He tells them they may live at the
rate of five thousand pounds a-year, poor dears.  Indeed, he and Oliver
are in such glory over their Equatorial steam navigation, that I expect
next to hear of a crash.'

'You don't look as if it would be a very dreadful sound.'

'If it would only bring my poor Oliver back to me!'

'Yes--nothing would make Jem so civil to him as his coming floated in
on a plank, wet through, with a little bundle in one hand and a parrot
in the other.'

Mrs. Frost gave one of her tender laughs, and filled up the picture.
'Jane would open the door, Jane would know Master Oliver's black eyes
in a moment--'No, no.  _I_ must see him first!  If he once looked up I
could not miss him, whatever colour he may have turned.  I wonder
whether he would know me!'

'Don't you know that you grow handsomer every year, Aunt Kitty?'

'Don't flatter, sir.'

'Well, I most go to my aunt.'

He tarried to hear the welcome recital of all the kind deeds of the
house of Conway.  He presently found Lady Conway awaiting him in the
drawing-room, and was greeted with great joy.  'That is well!  I hoped
to work on your father by telling him I did not approve of young men
carrying industry too far--'

'That is not my habit.'

'Then it is your excuse for avoiding troublesome relations!  No, not a
word!  I know nothing about the secret that occupied Isabel at Mrs.
Ponsonby's select party.  But I really wanted you.  You are more au
fait as to the society here than the Ponsonbys and Dynevors.  Ah! when
does that come off?'

'What is to come off?'

'Miss Ponsonby and Mr. Dynevor.  What a good creature he is!'

'I cannot see much likelihood of it, but you are more on the scene of
action.'

'She could do much better, with such expectations, but on his account I
could not be sorry.  It is shocking to think of that nice young sister
being a governess.  I think it a duty to give her every advantage that
may tend to form her.  With her connexions and education, I can have no
objection to her as a companion to your cousins, and with a few
advantages, though she will never be handsome, she might marry well.
They are a most interesting family. Isabel and I are most anxious to do
all in our power for them.'

'Clara is obliged,' said Louis, with undetected irony, but secret
wonder at the dexterity with which the patronage must have been
administered so as not to have made the interesting family fly off at a
tangent.

Isabel made her appearance in her almost constant morning dress of soft
dove-coloured merino entirely unadorned, and looking more like a maiden
in a romance than ever.  She had just left Adeline standing on the
steps of a stone cross, exhorting the Provencals to arm against a
descent of Moorish corsairs, and she held out her hand to Fitzjocelyn
much as Adeline did, when the fantastic Viscount professed his
intention of flying instead of fighting, and wanted her to sit behind
him on his courser.

Lady Conway pronounced her council complete, and propounded the fete
which she wished to give on the 12th of January in honour of Louisa's
birthday.  Isabel took up a pencil, and was lost in sketching wayside
crosses, and vessels with lateen sails, only throwing in a word or two
here and there when necessary.  Dancing was still, Lady Conway feared,
out of the question with Fitzjocelyn.

'And always will be, I suspect.  So much for my bargain with Clara to
dance with her at her first ball!'

'You like dancing?' exclaimed Isabel, rejoiced to find another
resemblance to the fantastic Viscount.

'Last year's Yeomanry ball was the best fun in the world!'

'There, Isabel,' said Lady Conway, 'you ought to be gratified to find a
young man candid enough to allow that he likes it!  But since that
cannot be, I must find some other plan--'

'What cannot be?' exclaimed Louis.  'You don't mean to omit the
dancing--'

'It could not be enjoyed without you.  Your cousins and friends could
not bear to see you sitting down--'

Isabel's lips were compressed, and the foam of her waves laughed
scornfully under her pencil.

'They must get accustomed to the melancholy spectacle,' said Louis. 'I
do not mean to intermit the Yeomanry ball, if it take place while I am
at home.  The chaperons are the best company, after all. Reconsider it,
my dear aunt, or you will keep me from coming at all.'

Lady Conway was only considering of tableaux, and Louis took fire at
the notion: he already beheld Waverley in his beloved Yeomanry suit,
Isabel as Flora, Clara as Davie Gellatley--the character she would most
appreciate.  Isabel roused herself to say that tableaux were very dull
work to all save the actors, and soon were mere weariness to them.  Her
stepmother told her she had once been of a different mind, when she had
been Isabel Bruce, kneeling in her cell, the ring before her.  'I was
young enough then to think myself Isabel,' was her answer, and she drew
the more diligently because Fitzjocelyn could not restrain an
interjection, and a look which meant, 'What an Isabel she must have
been!'

She sat passive while Lady Conway and Louis decked up a scene for Flora
MacIvor; but presently it appeared that the Waverley of the piece was
to be, according to Louis, not the proper owner of the Yeomanry
uniform, but James Frost.  His aunt exclaimed, and the rehearsals were
strong temptation; but he made answer, 'No--you must not reckon on me:
my father would not like it.'

The manful childishness, the childish manfulness of such a reply, were
impenetrable.  If his two-and-twenty years did not make him ashamed of
saying so, nothing else could, and it covered a good deal. He knew that
his father's fastidious pride would dislike his making a spectacle of
himself, and thought that it would be presuming unkindly on to-day's
liberty to involve himself in what would necessitate terms more
intimate than were desired.

The luncheon silenced the consultation, which was to be a great secret
from the children; but afterwards, when it was resumed, with the
addition of James Frost, Fitzjocelyn was vexed to find the tableaux
discarded; not avowedly because he excluded himself from a share, but
because the style of people might not understand them. The
entertainment was to be a Christmas-tree--not so hackneyed a spectacle
in the year 1848 as in 1857--and Louis launched into a world of
couplets for mottoes.  Next came the question of guests, when Lady
Conway read out names from the card-basket, and Fitzjocelyn was in
favour of everybody, till Jem, after many counter-statements, assured
Lady Conway that he was trying to fill her rooms with the most
intolerable people in the world.

'My aunt said she wanted to give pleasure.'

'Ah! there's nothing so inconvenient to one's friends as good nature.
Who cares for what is shared indiscriminately?'

'I don't think I can trust Fitzjocelyn with my visiting-list just yet,'
said Lady Conway.  'You are too far above to be sensible of the grades
beneath, with your place made for you.'

'Not at all,' said Louis.  'Northwold tea-parties were my earliest,
most natural dissipation; and I spoke for these good people for my own
personal gratification.'

'Nay, I can't consent to your deluding Lady Conway into Mrs. Walby.'

'If there be any one you wish me to ask, my dear Fitzjocelyn--' began
Lady Conway.

'Oh no, thank you; Jem is quite right.  I might have been playing on
your unguarded innocence; but I am the worst person in the world to
consult; for all the county and all the town are so kind to me, that I
don't know whom I could leave out.  Now, the Pendragon there will help
you to the degree of gentility that may safely be set to consort
together.'

'What an unkind fling!' thought Isabel.

Louis took leave, exclaiming to himself on the stairs, 'There! if
comporting oneself like a donkey before the object be a token, I've
done it effectually.  Didn't I know the exclusiveness of the woman?
Yet, how could I help saying a word for the poor little Walbys? and,
after all, if they were there, no one would speak to them but Aunt
Kitty and I.  And Isabel, I am sure she scorned the fastidious
nonsense; I saw it in her eye and lip.'

After a quarter of an hour spent in hearing her praises from Miss
Faithfull, he betook himself to Mrs. Ponsonby's, not quite without
embarrassment, for he had not been alone with the mother and daughter
since August.

'I am glad you did not come before,' said Mary, heartily; 'I have just
done:' and she returned to her writing-table, while her mother was
saying,

'We like it very much.'

'You have not been copying that wretched concern!' exclaimed Louis.
'Why, Mary, you must have been at it all night.  It is a week's work.'

'Copying is not composing,' said Mary.

'But you have mended it, made it consecutive!  If I had guessed that my
father meant to trouble any one with it!'

'If you take pains with it, it may be very valuable,' said Mrs.
Ponsonby.  'We have marked a few things that you had better revise
before it goes to Oakstead.'

'Goes to Oakstead!' said Louis, faintly.

'Your father talks of sending it, to see if Sir Miles does not think it
might tell well in one of the Reviews.'

'I hope not.  I should lose all my faith in anonymous criticism, if
they admitted such a crude undergraduate's omnium gatherum!  Besides,
what an immense task to make it presentable!'

'Is that the root of your humility?'

'Possibly.  But for very shame I must doctor it, if Mary has wasted so
much time over it.  It does not look so bad in your hand!'

'It struck me whether you had rendered this Spanish story right.'

'Of course not.  I never stuck to my dictionary.'

A sound dose of criticism ensued, tempered by repetitions of his
father's pleasure, and next came some sympathy and discussion about the
farm and Marksedge, in which the ladies took their usual earnest part,
and Mary was as happy as ever in hearing of his progress.  He said no
word of their neighbours; but he could not help colouring when Mary
said, as he wished her good-bye, 'We like the party in the House
Beautiful so much!  Miss Conway is such an acquisition to me! and they
are doing all you could ever have wished for Clara.'

Mary was glad that she had said it.  Louis was not so glad.  He thought
it must have been an effort, then derided his vanity for the
supposition.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE FRUIT OF THE CHRISTMAS-TREE

  Age, twine thy brows with fresh spring flowers,
  And call a train of laughing hours;
  And bid them dance, and bid them sing:
  And thou, too, mingle in the ring.
                             WORDSWORTH


The 12th of January was the last day before James and Louis meant to
return to Oxford, Jem taking Clara on from thence to school.  It was to
be the farewell to Christmas--one much enjoyed in Dynevor Terrace.
Fitzjocelyn's absence was almost a relief to Clara; she could not make
up her mind to see him till she could hope their last encounter had
been forgotten; and in the mean time, her anticipations were fixed on
the great 12th.  She was aware of what the entertainment would consist,
but was in honour bound to conceal her knowledge from Virginia and
Louisa, who on their side affected great excitement and curiosity, and
made every ostentation of guessing and peeping.  Gifts were smuggled
into the house from every quarter--some to take their chance, some
directed with mottoes droll or affectionate.  Clara prepared a few
trifles, in which she showed that school had done something for her
fingers, and committed her little parcels to her brother's care; and
Miss Mercy was the happiest of all, continually knocking at the locked
door of the back drawing-room with gilded fir cones, painted banners,
or moss birds'-nests, from Miss Salome.

Miss King and Isabel had undertaken the main business.  When roused
from her pensive stillness, Isabel could be very eager, active, and
animated; and she worked with the exhilaration that she could freely
enjoy when unrestrained by perceiving that she was wanted to produce an
effect.  What woman's height and hand could not perform fell to the
share of James, who, with his step-ladder and dexterous hands, was
invaluable.  Merrily, merrily did the three work, laughing over their
suspended bonbons, their droll contrivances, or predicting the
adaptations of their gifts; and more and more gay was the laugh, the
tutor more piquant, the governess more keen and clever, the young lady
more vivacious, as the twilight darkened, and the tree became more
laden, and the streamers and glass balls produced a more brilliant
effect.

Proudly, when the task was accomplished, did they contemplate their
work, and predict the aspect of their tinsel and frippery when duly
lighted up.  Then, as they dispersed to dress, James ran home, and
hastily tapped at his sister's door.

'What is the matter?' she cried.  'Have the tassels come off my purse?'

'Nothing of the kind, but--' he came quite in, and looked round
restlessly, then hastily said, 'You gave me nothing for Miss Conway.'

'I wished it very much,' said Clara, 'but I could not bear to do
anything trumpery for her.  Oh, if one could give her anything worth
having!'

'Clara, I had thought--but I did not know if you would like to part
with it--'

'I had thought of it too,' said Clara; 'but I thought you would not
like it to be given away.'

Pulling out a drawer, she opened an odd little box of queer
curiosities, whence she took a case containing an exquisite ivory
carving, a copy of the 'Madonna della Sedia,' so fine that a magnifier
alone could fully reveal the delicacy and accuracy of the features and
expression.  It was mounted as a bracelet clasp, and was a remnant of
poor Mr. Dynevor's treasures.  It had been given to Mrs. Henry Frost,
and had descended to her daughter.

'Should you be willing?' wistfully asked James.

'That I should!  I have longed to give her what she would really care
for.  She has been so very kind--and her kindness is so very sweet in
its graciousness!  I shall always be the happier for the very thinking
of it.'

'I am glad--' began Jem, warmly; but, breaking off, he added--'This
would make us all more comfortable.  It would lessen the weight of
obligation, and that would be satisfactory to you.'

'I don't know.  I like people to be so kind, that I can't feel as if I
would pay them off, but as if I could do nothing but love them.'

'You did not imagine that I rate this as repayment!'

'Oh! no, no!'

'No! it is rather that nothing can be too precious--' then
pausing--'You are sure you are willing, Clary?'

'Only too glad.  I like it to be something valuable to us as well as in
itself.  If I only had a bit of black velvet, I could set it up.'

In ten minutes, Jem had speeded to a shop and back again, and stood by
as Clara stitched the clasp to the ribbon velvet; while there was an
amicable dispute, he insisting that the envelope should bear only the
initials of the true donor, and she maintaining that 'he gave the black
velvet.'  She had her way, and wrote, 'From her grateful C. F. D. and
J. R. F. D.;' and as James took the little packet, he thanked her with
an affectionate kiss--a thing so unprecedented at an irregular hour,
that Clara's heart leapt up, and she felt rewarded for any semblance of
sacrifice.

He told his grandmother that he had agreed with his sister that they
could do no otherwise than present the ivory clasp; and Mrs. Frost, who
had no specially tender associations with it, was satisfied to find
that they had anything worth offering on equal terms.

She was to be of the party, and setting forth, they, found the House
Beautiful upside down--even the Faithfull parlour devoted to shawls and
bonnets, and the two good old sisters in the drawing-room; Miss Salome,
under the protection of little Louisa, in an easy chair, opposite the
folding doors.  Small children were clustered in shy groups round their
respective keepers.  Lady Conway was receiving her guests with the
smile so engaging at first sight, Isabel moving from one to the other
with stately grace and courtesy, Virginia watching for Clara, and both
becoming merged in a mass of white skirts and glossy heads, occupying a
wide area.  Mrs. Frost was rapturously surrounded by half-a-dozen young
men, Sydney Calcott foremost, former pupils enchanted to see her, and
keeping possession of her all the rest of the evening.  She was a
dangerous person to invite, for the Northwold youth had no eyes but for
her.

The children were presently taken down to tea in the dining-room by
Miss King and Miss Mercy; and presently a chorus of little voices and
peals of laughter broke out, confirming the fact, whispered by Delaford
to his lady, that Lord Fitzjocelyn had arrived, and had joined the
downstairs party.

While coffee went round in the drawing-room, Isabel glided out to
perform the lighting process.

'Oh, Mr. Dynevor!' she exclaimed, finding him at her side, 'I did not
mean to call you away.'

'Mere unreason to think of the performance alone,' said James, setting
up his trusty ladder.  'What would become of that black lace?'

'Thank you, it may be safer and quicker.'

'So far the evening is most successful,' said Jem, lighting above as
she lighted below.

'That it is!  I like Northwold better than any place I have been in
since I left Thornton Conway.  There is so much more heartiness and
friendliness here than in ordinary society.

'I think Fitzjocelyn's open sympathies have conduced--'

Isabel laughed, and he checked himself, disconcerted.

'I beg your pardon,' she said; 'I was amused at the force of habit. If
I were to say the Terrace chimneys did not smoke, you would say it was
Lord Fitzjocelyn's doing.'

'Do not bid me do otherwise than keep him in mind.'

Down fell the highest candle: the hot wax dropping on Isabel's arm
caused her to exclaim, bringing Jem down in horror, crying, 'I have
hurt you! you are burnt!'

'Oh no, only startled.  There is no harm done, you see,' as she cracked
away the cooled wax--'not even a mark to remind me of this happy
Christmas.'

'And it has been a happy Christmas to you,' he said, remounting.

'Most happy.  Nothing has been so peaceful or satisfactory in my
wandering life.'

'Shall I find you here at Easter?'

'I fear not.  Mamma likes to be in London early; but perhaps she may
leave the school-room party here, as Louisa is gaining so much ground,
and that would be a pledge of our return.'

'Too much joy,' said James, almost inaudibly.

'I hope Walter may spend his holidays here,' she pursued.  'It is a
great thing for him to be with any one who can put a few right notions
into his head.'

Jem abstained from, as usual, proposing Fitzjocelyn for his example,
but only said that Walter was very susceptible of good impressions.

'And most heartily we thank you for all you have done for him,' said
Isabel, doubting whether Walter's mother appreciated the full extent of
it; 'indeed, we have all a great deal to thank you for.  I hope my
sisters and I may be the better all our lives for the helps and
explanations you have given to us.  Is that the last candle?  How
beautiful!  We must open.'

'Miss Conway--'

'Yes'--she paused with her hand on the key.

'No, no--do not wait,' taking the key himself.  'Yet--yes, I must--I
must thank you for such words--'

'My words?' said Isabel, smiling.  'For thanking you, or being happy
here?'

'Both! both!  Those words will be my never-failing charm.  You little
guess how I shall live on the remembrance.  Oh, if I could only convey
to you what feelings you have excited--'

The words broke from him as if beyond his control, and under the
pressing need of not wasting the tapers, he instinctively unlocked the
door as he spoke, and cut himself short by turning the handle, perhaps
without knowing what he was about.

Instantly Lady Conway and Miss King each pushed a folding leaf, Isabel
and James drew back on either side, and the spectators beheld the tall
glistening evergreen, illuminated with countless little spires of
light, glancing out among the dark leaves, and reflected from the gilt
fir-cones, glass balls, and brilliant toys.

'Sister! sister!' cried Miss Mercy, standing by Miss Faithfull's chair,
in the rear of the throng, and seizing her hand in ecstasy; 'it is like
a dream! like what we have read of!  Oh, the dear little children!  So
very kind of Lady Conway!  Could you have imagined--?' She quite gasped.

'It is very pretty, but it was a nicer Christmas-tree last year at Lady
Runnymede's,' said Louisa, with the air of a critic.  'There we had
coloured lamps.'

'Little fastidious puss!' said Louis, 'I thought you keeping in the
background out of politeness; but I see you are only blasee with
Christmas-trees.  I pity you!  I could no more be critical at such a
moment than I could analyse the jewels in Aladdin's cave.'

'Oh, if you and Miss Faithfull talk, Cousin Fitzjocelyn, you will make
it seem quite new.'

'You will deride the freshness of our simplicity,' said Louis, but
presently added, 'Miss Salome, have we not awakened to the enchanted
land?  Did ever mortal tree bear stars of living flame?  Here are
realized the fabled apples of gold--nay, the fir-cones of Nineveh, the
jewel-fruits of Eastern story, depend from the same bough. Yonder lamps
shine by fairy spell.'

'Now, Cousin Fitzjocelyn, do you think I suppose you so silly--'

'Soft!  The Dryad of the Enchanted Bower advances.  Her floating robes,
her holly crown, beseem her queenly charms.'

'As if you did not know that it is only Isabel!'

'Only!  May the word be forgiven to a sister!  Isabel!  The name is
all-expressive.'

'She is looking even more lovely than usual,' said Miss Faithfull. 'I
never saw such a countenance.'

'She has a colour to-night,' added Miss Mercy, 'which does, as you say,
make her handsomer than ever.  Dear! dear!  I hope she is not tired.  I
am so sorry I did not help her to light the tree!'

'I do not think it is fatigue,' said her sister.  'I hope it is
animation and enjoyment--all I have ever thought wanting to that sweet
face.'

'You are as bad as my prosaic cousin,' said Louis, 'disenchanting the
magic bower and the wood-nymph into fir, wax, and modern young
ladyhood.'

'There, cousin, it is you who have called her a modern young lady.'

Before Louisa had expressed her indignation, there was a call for her.

'The Sovereign of the Bower beckons,' said Louis.  'Favoured damsel,
know how to deserve her smiles.  Fairy gifts remain not with the
unworthy.'

As he put her forward, some one made way for her.  It was Mary, and he
blushed at perceiving that she must have heard all his rhodomontade.
As if to make amends, he paused, and asked for Mrs. Ponsonby.

'Much more comfortable to-night, thank you;' and the pleasant, honest
look of her friendly eyes relieved him by not reproaching him.

'I wish she were here.  It is a prettier, more visionary sight than I
could have conceived.'

'I wish she could see it; but she feared the crowd.  Many people in a
room seem to stifle her.  Is Lord Ormersfield here?'

'No, it would not be his element.  But imagine his having taken to
walking with me!  I really think he will miss me.'

'Really?' said Mary, amused.

'It is presumptuous; but he does not see well at night, and is not
quite broken in to his spectacles.  Mary, I hope you will walk over to
see after him.  Nothing would be so good for him as walking you back,
and staying to dinner with you.  Go right into the library; he would be
greatly pleased.  Can't you make some book excuse?  And you have the
cottages to see.  The people inaugurated the boilers with Christmas
puddings.'

'Mr. Holdsworth told us how pleased they were.  And the Norrises?'

'Mrs. Norris is delighted; she has found a woman to wash, and says it
will save her a maid.  The people can get milk now: I assure you they
look more wholesome already!  And Beecher has actually asked for two
more houses in emulation.  And Richardson found himself turned over to
me!'

'Oh, that's right.'

'I've been at the plans all the afternoon.  I see how to contrive the
fireplace in the back room, that we could not have in the first set,
and make them cheaper, too.  My father has really made a point of that
old decrepit Hailes being moved from Marksedge; and Mary, he, and
Richardson mean Inglewood to be made over to me for good.  I am to put
in a bailiff, and do as I can with it--have the profits or bear the
losses.  I think I have an idea--'

In spite of her willingness to hear the idea, Mary could not help
asking, 'Have you sent off the Police article?'

'Hush, Mary; it is my prime object to have it well forgotten.'

'Oh! did not Sir Miles like it?'

'He said it wanted liveliness and anecdote.  So the Santissima
Hermandad, and all the extraneous history, were sent to him; and then
he was well content, and only wanted me to leave out all the Christian
chivalry--all I cared to say--'

'You don't mean not to finish?  Your father was so pleased, Isabel so
much struck!  It is a pity--'

'No, no; you may forgive me, Mary--it is not pure laziness.  It was
mere rubbish, without the point, which was too strong for the two
politicians; rubbish, any way.  Don't tell me to go on with it; it was
a mere trial, much better let it die away.  I really have no time; if I
don't mind my own business, I shall be a plucked gosling; and that
would go to his, lordship's heart.  Besides, I must get these plans
done.  Do you remember where we got the fire-bricks for the ovens?'

Mary was answering, when Walter came bursting through the crowd. 'Where
is he?  Fitzjocelyn, it is your turn.'

'Here is a curious specimen for our great naturalist,' said Mrs. Frost,
a glow in her cheeks, and her voice all stifled mirth and mischief.

It was a large nest of moss and horsehair, partly concealed under the
lower branches, and containing two huge eggs streaked and spotted with
azure and vermilion, and a purple and yellow feather, labelled,
'Dropped by the parent animal in her flight, on the discovery of the
nest by the crew of H.M.S. Flying Dutchman.  North Greenland, April
1st, 1847.  Qu.?  Female of Equus Pegasus.  Respectfully dedicated to
the Right Honourable Viscount Fitzjocelyn.'

'A fine specimen,' said the Viscount at once, with the air of a
connoisseur, by no means taken by surprise.  'They are not very
uncommon; I found one myself about the same date in the justice-room. I
dare say Mr. Calcott recollects the circumstance.'

'Oh, my dear fellow,' exclaimed Sydney, instead of his father; 'you
need not particularize.  You always were a discoverer in that line.'

'True,' said Louis, 'but this is unique.  North Greenland--ah! I
thought it was from a Frosty country.  Ha, Clara?'

'Not I; I know nothing of it,' cried Clara, in hurry and confusion, not
yet able to be suspected of taking liberties with him.

'No?' said Louis, turning about his acquisition; 'I thought I knew the
female that laid these eggs.  The proper name is, I fancy, Glacies
Dynevorensis--var. Catharina--perhaps--'

Walter and Louisa had brought their mother to see the nest, the point
of which she comprehended as little as they; and not understanding how
much amusement was betokened by her nephew's gravity, she protested
that none of her party had devised it, nor even been privy to it, and
that Mr. Dynevor must bear the blame, but he was very busy detaching
the prizes from the tree, and hastily denied any concern with it.  Aunt
Catharine was obliged to console Lady Conway, and enchant Louis by
owning herself the sole culprit, with no aid but Miss Mercy's.
Together they had disposed the nest in its right locality, as soon as
the Earl's absence was secure.

'I had not courage for it before him,' she laughed.  'As for this
fellow, I knew he would esteem it a compliment.'

'As a tribute to his imagination?' said Isabel, who, in her mood of
benevolence, could be struck with the happy understanding between aunt
and nephew revealed by such a joke, so received.

'It would be a curious research,' said Louis, 'whether more of these
nidifications result from over-imagination or the want of it.'

'Often from want of imagination, and no want of cowardice,' said Isabel.

'That sort of nest has not illuminated eggs like these,' said Louis.
'They are generally extremely full of gunpowder, and might be painted
with a skull and crossbones.  I say, Clara, has Aunt Kitty considered
the consequences?  She has sacrificed her ostrich eggs!  I can never
part with these original productions of her genius.'

He exhibited his mare's nest with his own gay bonhommie to all who were
curious, and presently, when every one's attention had been again
recalled to the wonders which Isabel was distributing, and he had
turned aside to dispose of his treasure, he heard a sound of soliloquy
half aloud, 'I wonder whether she has it!' from Clara, who stood a
little apart.

'What?' asked Louia.

'My ivory clasp with the Madonna,' said Clara.  'Jem and I thought it
the only thing worthy of Miss Conway.'

'Hem!' said Louis; 'it is not your fault, Clara; but it would be
graceful to learn to receive a favour.'

'A favour, but not a grand thing like this,' said Clara, showing a
beautiful little case of working implements.

'Hardly worth, even intrinsically, your mother's bracelet,' said Louis.
'But I am not going to talk treason to the family doctrine, though it
is very inconvenient to your friends.'

'Then you think we ought not to have done it?'

'That depends on what I can't decide.'

'What's that?'

'Whether you give it out of love or out of pride.'

'I think we gave it out of one, and excused it by the other.'

'Very satisfactory.  To reward you, here is something for you to do. I
shall never get at Aunt Kitty to-night.  I see the midshipman, young
Brewster, will not relinquish her; so will you or will she administer
this letter to the Lady of Eachalott?'

'You don't mean that is Tom Madison!' exclaimed Clara.  'Why, it is
like copper-plate.  No more Fitsgoslings!'

'No, indeed!  Is he not a clever fellow?  He has just reached the stage
of civilization that breaks out in dictionary words.  I have been, in
return, telling him the story of the Irish schoolmaster who puzzled the
magistrate's bench by a petition about a small cornuted animal, meaning
a kid.  But I should think it would be very edifying to Charlotte to
see herself commemorated as the individual at the Terrace, and his
grandfather as his aged relative.  He sends the old man ten shillings
this time, for he is promoted.  Don't you think I may be proud of him?
Is Mary gone home?  She must hear about him.'

As he turned away in search of Mary, Clara felt a soft hand on her
shoulder, and Isabel beckoned her to follow into the back drawing-room,
where the tree was burnt out and deserted.

'I may thank _you_,' said Isabel, in a low, sweet voice, pressing her
hand.

'And Jem,' said Clara; 'he thought of it first.'

'It is the most beautiful Christmas gift; but I do not like for you to
part with it, my dear.'

'We both wished it, and grandmamma gave leave.  We longed for you to
have something we prized like this, for it belonged to my mamma.  It is
Jem's present too, for he went out and bought the black velvet.'

'Clasp it on for me, dear Clara.  There!' and Isabel kissed the fingers
which obeyed.  'It shall never leave my arm.'

Clara's face burnt with surprise and pleasure amounting to
embarrassment, as Isabel expressed hopes of meeting again, and engaged
her to write from school.  She looked for her brother to take his share
of thanks; but he was determinately doing his duty in cutting chicken
and cake for those who desired supper, and he did not come in their way
again till all the guests were gone, and good-night and good-bye were
to be said at once.

Lady Conway was warm in expressing her hopes that Walter would enjoy
the same advantages another holidays, and told Mr. Dynevor she should
write to him.  But Jem made little answer, nothing like a promise.
Clara thought he had become stiff from some unknown affront, perhaps
some oppressive present, for he seemed to intend to include all the
young ladies in one farewell bow.  But Isabel advanced with
outstretched hand and flushing cheek, and her murmured 'Thank you' and
confiding pressure drew from him such a grasp as could not easily be
forgotten.

Clara's heart was all the lighter because she was sure that Fitzjocelyn
had forgiven, and, what was more, forgotten.  She had spoken naturally
to him once more, and was ready for anything now--even though they had
missed all confidential discussions upon school.

She gave Charlotte Tom Madison's letter.  The little maiden took it,
and twirled it about rather superciliously.  'What business had my
young Lord,' she thought, 'to fancy she cared for that poor fellow?
Very likely he was improved, and she was glad of it, but she knew what
was genteel now.  Yes, she would read it at once; there was no fear
that it would make her soft and foolish--she had got above that!'



CHAPTER XVII.

THE RIVALS.

  'Which king, Bezonian?'--Henry IV.


Sir Roland of Provence remained in suspense whether to be a novice or
an irrevocably pledged Hospitalier.  The latter was most probable; and
when Adeline's feelings had been minutely analysed, Miss Conway
discovered that she had better not show her morning's work to her
sisters.

Clara and Louis pronounced Jem to be as savage as a bear all through
the journey.  Clara declared it was revenge for having been civil and
amiable all through the vacation; and Louis uttered a theatrical aside,
that even _that_ could not have been maintained if he had not
occasionally come to Ormersfield to relieve himself a little upon their
two lordships.

Laugh as he might, Fitzjocelyn was much concerned and perplexed by his
cousin's ill-humour, when it appeared more permanent than could be
puffed off in a few ebullitions.  Attempts to penetrate the gloom made
it heavier, and Louis resolved to give it time to subside.  He waited
some days before going near James, and when he next walked to his
college found him engaged with pupils.  He was himself very busy, and
had missed his cousin several times before he at length found him alone.

'Why, Jem, old fellow, what are you about?  You've not been near my
rooms this term.  Are you renouncing me in anticipation of my plucking?'

'You won't be plucked unless you go out of your senses for the
occasion.'

'No thanks to your advice and assistance if I am not.  But it would
conduce to my equanimity, Jem, to know whether we are quarrelling, as
in that case I should know how to demean myself.'

'I've no quarrel with you.  You have far more reason--But,' added Jem,
catching himself up, 'don't you know I have no leisure for trifling?
The Ordination is the second week in March.'

'The Ordination!'

'Ay--you know it!  My fellowship depends on it.'

'I never liked to contemplate it.'  He sat down and mused, while James
continued his occupation.  Presently he said, 'Look here.  Sir Miles
Oakstead asked me if I had any clever Oxford friend to recommend.  If
he comes into office, he--'

'I'll be no great man's hanger-on.'

'This matter is not imminent.  You are barely four-and-twenty.  Wait a
year or two; even a few months would--'

'You have tried my forbearance often enough,' broke in James; 'my
object is--as you very well know--to maintain myself and mine without
being liable to obnoxious patronage.  If you think I should disgrace
the office, speak out!'

Louis, without raising his eyes, only answered with a smile.

'Then, what do you mean?  As to your notions of a vocation, ninety-nine
out of a hundred are in my case.  I have been bred up to this--nothing
else is open--I mean to do my duty; and surely that is vocation--no one
has a right to object--'

'No one; I beg your pardon,' meekly said Louis, taking up his stick to
go; but both knew it was only a feint, and James, whose vehemence was
exhausting itself, resumed, in an injured tone, 'What disturbs you?
what is this scruple of yours!--you, who sometimes fancy you would have
been a curate yourself!'

'I have just inclination enough to be able to perceive that you have
none.'

'And is every one to follow his bent?'

'This is not a step to be taken against the grain, even for the best
earthly motives.  Jem!  I only beg you to ask advice.  For the very
reason that you are irreproachable, you will never have it offered.'

'The present time, for instance?' said James, laughing as best he might.

'That is nothing.  I have no faith in my own judgment, but, thinking as
I do of the profession and of you, I cannot help believing that my
distaste for seeing you in it must be an instinct.'

'Give me your true opinion and its grounds candidly, knowing that I
would not ask another man living.'

'Nor me, if I did not thrust it on you.'

'Now for it!  Let us hear your objection.'

'Simply this.  I do not see that anything impels you to take Holy
Orders immediately, except your wish to be independent, and irrevocably
fixed before your uncle can come home.  This seems to me to have a
savour of something inconsistent with what you profess.  It might be
fine anywhere else, but will it not bear being brought into the light
of the sanctuary?  No, I cannot like it.  I have no doubt many go up
for ordination far less fit than you, but--Jem, I wish you would not.
If you would but wait a year!'

'No, Fitzjocelyn, my mind is made up.  I own that I might have
preferred another course, and Heaven knows it is not that I think
myself worthy of this; but I have been brought up to this, and I will
not waver.  It is marked out for me as plainly as your earldom for you,
and I will do my duty in it as my appointed calling.  There lies my
course of honest independence: you call it pride--see what those are
who are devoid of it: there lie my means of educating my sister,
providing for my grandmother.  I can see no scruple that should deter
me.'

Fitzjocelyn having said his say, it was his turn and his nature to be
talked down.

'In short,' concluded James, walking about the room, 'there is no
alternative.  Waiting for a College living is bad enough, but nothing
else can make happiness even possible.'

'One would think you meant one sort of happiness,' said Louis, with a
calm considering tone, and look of inquiry which James could not brook.

'What else?' he cried.  'Fool and madman that I am to dwell on the
hopeless--'

'Why should it be hopeless?--' began Louis.

'Hush! you are the last person with whom I could discuss this subject,'
he said, trying to be fierce, but with more sorrow than anger.  'I must
bear my burthen alone.  Believe me, I struggled hard. If you and I be
destined to clash, one comfort is, that even I could never quarrel with
you.'

'I have not the remotest idea of your meaning.'

'So much the better.  No, so much the worse.  You are not capable of
feeling what I do for her, or you would have hated me long ago.  Do not
stay here!  I do not know that I can quite bear the sight of you--But
don't let me lose you, Louis.'

James wrung the hand of his cousin; and no sooner was he alone, than he
began to pace the room distractedly.

'Poor Jem!' soliloquized Fitzjocelyn.  'At least, I am glad the trouble
is love, not the Ordination.  But as to his meaning!  He gives me to
understand that we are rivals--It is the most absurd thing I ever
knew--I declare I don't know whether he means Mary or Isabel.  I
suppose he would consider Mary's fortune a barrier--No, she is too
serene for his storms--worthy, most worthy--but she would hate to be
worshipped in that wild way.  Besides, I am done for in that quarter.
No clashing there--! Nay, the other it can never be--after all his
efforts to lash me up at Christmas.  Yet, he was much with her, he made
Clara sacrifice the clasp to her.  Hm!  She is an embodied romance,
deserving to be raved about; while for poor dear Mary, it would be
simply ridiculous.  I wish I could guess--it is too absurd to doubt,
and worse to ask; and, what's more, he would not stand it.  If I did
but know!  I'm not so far gone yet, but that I could leave the field to
him, if that would do him any good.  Heigh ho! it would be en regle to
begin to hate him, and be as jealous as Bluebeard; but there!  I don't
know which it is to be about, and one can't be jealous for two ladies
at once, luckily, for it would be immensely troublesome, unless a good,
hearty quarrel would be wholesome to revive his spirits.  It is a bad
time for it, though! Well, I hope he does not mean Mary--I could not
bear for her to be tormented by him.  That other creature might reign
over him like the full moon dispersing clouds.  Well! this is the
queerest predicament I ever heard of!'  And on he wandered, almost as
much diverted by the humour of the doubt, as annoyed by the dilemma.

He had no opportunity for farther investigation: James removed himself
so entirely from his society, that he was obliged to conclude that the
prevailing mood was that of not being quite able to bear the sight of
him.  His consolation was the hope of an opening for some generous
proceeding, though how this should be accomplished was not visible,
since it was quite as hard to be generous with other people's hearts as
to confer a benefit on a Pendragon.  At any rate, he was so confident
of Jem's superiority, as to have no fear of carrying off the affection
of any one whom his cousin wished to win.

James was ordained, and shortly after went to some pupils for the
Easter vacation, which was spent by Louis at Christchurch, in studying
hard.  The preparation for going up for his degree ended by absorbing
him entirely, as did every other pursuit to which he once fairly
devoted himself, and for the first time he gave his abilities full
scope in the field that ought long ago to have occupied them. When,
finally, a third class was awarded to him, he was conscious that it
might have been a first, but for his past waste of time.

He was sorry to leave Oxford: he had been happy there in his own
desultory fashion; and the additional time that his illness had kept
him an undergraduate, had been welcome as deferring the dreaded moment
of considering what was to come next.  He had reached man's estate
almost against his will.

He was to go to join his father in London; and he carried thither
humiliation for having, by his own fault, missed the honours that too
late he had begun to value as a means of gratifying his father.

The Earl, however, could hardly have taken anything amiss from Louis.
After having for so many years withheld all the lassez-aller of
paternal affection, when the right chord had once been touched, his
fondness for his grown-up son had the fresh exulting pride, and almost
blindness that would ordinarily have been lavished on his infancy.
Lord Ormersfield's sentiments were few and slowly adopted, but they had
all the permanence and force of his strong character, and his affection
for Fitzjocelyn partook both of parental glory in a promising only son,
and of that tenderness, at once protecting and dependent, that fathers
feel for daughters.  This was owing partly to Louis's gentle and
assiduous attentions during the last vacation, and also to his long
illness, and remarkable resemblance to his mother, which rendered
fondness of him a sort of tribute to her, and restored to the Earl some
of the transient happiness of his life.

It was a second youth of the affections, but it was purchased by a step
towards age.  The anxiety, fatigue, and various emotions of the past
year had told on the Earl, and though still strong, vigorous, and
healthy, the first touch of autumn had fallen on him--he did not find
his solitary life so self-sufficing as formerly, and craved the home
feeling of the past Christmas.  So the welcome was twice as warm as
Louis had expected; and as he saw the melancholy chased away, the stern
grey eyes lighted up, and the thin, compressed lips relaxed into a
smile, he forgot his aversion to the well-appointed rooms in Jermyn
Street, and sincerely apologized that he had not brought home more
credit to satisfy his father.

'Oakstead was talking it over with me,' was the answer; 'and we
reckoned up many more third-class men than first who have distinguished
themselves.'

'Many thanks to Sir Miles,' said Louis, laughing.  'My weak mind would
never have devised such consolation.'

'Perhaps the exclusive devotion to study which attains higher honours
may not be the beat introduction to practical life.'

'It is doing the immediate work with the whole might.'

'You do work with all your might.'

'Ay! but too many irons in the fire, and none of them red-hot through,
have been my bane.'

'You do not set out in life without experience; I am glad your
education is finished, Louis!' said his father, turning to contemplate
him, as if the sight filled up some void.

'Are you?' said Louis, wearily.  'I don't think I am.  It becomes my
duty--or yours, which is a relief--to find out the next stage.'

'Have you no wishes?'

'Not at the present speaking, thank you.  If I went out and talked to
any one, I might have too many.'

'No views for your future life?'

'Thus far: to do as little harm as may be--to be of some use at
home--and to make turnips grow in the upland at Inglewood, I have some
vague fancy to see foreign parts, especially now they are all in such a
row--it would be such fun--but I suppose you would not trust me there
now.  Here I am for you to do as you please with me--a gracious
permission, considering that you did not want it.  Only the first
practical question is how to get this money from Jem to Clara.  I
should like to call on her, but I suppose that would hardly be
according to the proprieties.'

'I would walk to the school with you, if you wish to see her.  My aunt
will be glad to hear of her, if we go home to-morrow.'

'Are you thinking of going home?' exclaimed Louis, joyfully coming to
life.

'Yes; but for a cause that will grieve you.  Mrs. Ponsonby is worse,
and has written to ask me to come down.'

'Materially worse?'

'I fear so.  I showed my aunt's letter to Hastings, who said it was the
natural course of the disease, but that he thought it would have been
less speedy.  I fear it has been hastened by reports from Peru. She had
decided on going out again; but the agitation overthrew her, and she
has been sinking ever since,' said Lord Ormersfield, mournfully.

'Poor Mary!'

'For her sake I must be on the spot, if for no other cause.  If I had
but a home to offer her!'

Louis gave a deep sigh, and presently asked for more details of Mrs.
Ponsonby's state.

'I believe she is still able to sit up and employ herself at times, but
she often suffers dreadfully.  They are both wonderfully cheerful.  She
has little to regret.'

'What a loss she will be!  Oh, father! what will you do without her?'

'I am glad that you have known her.  She has been more than a sister to
me.  Things might have been very different, if that miserable marriage
had not separated us for so many years.'

'How could it have happened?  How was it that she--so good and
wise--did not see through the man?'

'She would, if she had been left to herself; but she was not.  My
mother discovered, when too late, that there had been foolish,
impertinent jokes of that unfortunate trifler, poor Henry Frost, that
made her imagine herself suspected of designs on me.'

'Mary would never have attended to such folly!' cried Louis.

'Mary is older.  Besides, she loved the man, or thought she did. I
believe she thinks herself attached to him still.  But for Mary's
birth, there would have been a separation long ago.  There ought to
have been; but, after my father's death, there was no one to interfere!
What would I not have given to have been her brother! Well!  I never
could see why one like her was so visited--!' Then rousing himself, as
though tender reminiscences were waste of time, he added, 'There you
see the cause of the caution I gave you with regard to Clara Dynevor.
It is not fair to expose a young woman to misconstructions and idle
comments, which may goad her to vindicate her dignity by acting in a
manner fatal to her happiness.  Now,' he added, having drawn his moral,
'if we are to call on Clara, this would be the fittest time.  I have
engaged for us both to dine at Lady Conway's this evening: I thought
you would not object.'

'Thank you; but I am sure you cannot wish to go out after such news.'

'There is not sufficient excuse for refusing.  There is to be no party,
and it would be a marked thing to avoid it.'

Louis hazarded a suggestion that the meeting with Clara would be to
little purpose if they were all to sit in state in the drawing-room;
and she was asked for on the plea of going to see the new Houses of
Parliament.  The Earl of Ormersfield's card and compliments went
upstairs, and Miss Frost Dynevor appeared, with a demure and astonished
countenance, which changed instantly to ecstasy when she saw that the
Earl was not alone.  Not at all afraid of love, but only of
misconstructions, he goodnaturedly kept aloof, while Clara, clinging to
Louis's arm, was guided through the streets, and in and out among the
blocks of carved stone on the banks of the Thames, interspersing her
notes of admiration and his notes on heraldry with more comfortable
confidences than had fallen to their lot through the holidays.

His first hope was that Clara might reveal some fact to throw light on
the object of her brother's affections, but her remarks only added to
his perplexity.  Once, when they had been talking of poor Mary, and
lamenting her fate in having to return to her father, Louis hazarded
the conjecture that she might find an English home.

'There is her aunt in Bryanston Square,' said Clara.  'Or if she would
only live with us!  You see I am growing wise, as you call it: I like
her now.'

'That may be fortunate,' said Louis.  'You know her destination
according to Northwold gossip.'

'Nonsense!  Jem would scorn an heiress if she were ten times prettier.
He will never have an escutcheon of pretence like the one on the old
soup tureen that the Lady of Eschalott broke, and Jane was so sorry for
because it was the last of the old Cheveleigh china.'

Louis made another experiment.  'Have you repented yet of giving away
your clasp?'

'No, indeed!  Miss Conway always wears it.  She should be richly
welcome to anything I have in the world.'

'You and Jem saw much more of them than I did.'

'Whose fault was that?  Jem was always raving about your stupidity in
staying at home.'

He began to question whether his interview with James had been a dream.
As they were walking back towards the school, Clara went on to tell him
that Lady Conway had called and taken her to a rehearsal of a concert
of ancient music, and that Isabel had taken her for one or two drives
into the country.

'This must conduce to make school endurable,' said Louis.

'I think I hate it more because I hate it less.'

'Translate, if you please.'

'The first half-year, I scorned them all, and they scorned me; and that
was comfortable--'

'And consistent.  Well?'

'The next, you had disturbed me; I could not go on being savage with
the same satisfaction, and their tuft-hunting temper began to discharge
itself in such civility to me, that I could not give myself airs with
any peace.'

'Have you made no friends?'

One and a half.  The whole one is a good, rough, stupid girl, who comes
to school because she can't learn, and is worth all the rest put
together.  The half is Caroline Salter, who is openly and honestly
purse-proud, has no toad-eating in her nature, and straight-forwardly
contemns high-blood and no money.  We fought ourselves into respect for
one another; and now, I verily believe, we are fighting ourselves into
friendship.  She is the only one that is proud, not vain; so we
understand each other.  As to the rest, they adore Caroline Halter's
enamelled watch one day; and the next, I should be their 'dearest' if I
would but tell them what we have for dinner at Ormersfield, and what
colour your eyes are!'

'The encounters have made you so epigrammatic and satirical, that there
is no coming near you.'

'Oh, Louis! if you knew all, you would despise me as I do myself! I do
sometimes get drawn into talking grandly about Ormersfield; and though
I always say what I am to be, I know that I am as vain and proud as any
of them: I am proud of being poor, and of the Pendragons, and of not
being silly!  I don't know which is self-respect, and which is pride!'

'I have always had my doubts about that quality of self-respect. I
never could make out what one was to respect.'

'Oh, dear! les voila!' cried Clara, as, entering Hanover Square, they
beheld about twenty damsels coming out of the garden in couples.  'I
would not have had it happen for the whole world!' she added, abruptly
withdrawing the arm that had clung to him so trustfully across many a
perilous crossing.

She seemed to intend to slip into the ranks without any farewells, but
the Earl, with politeness that almost confounded the little elderly
governess, returned thanks for having been permitted the pleasure of
her company, and Louis, between mischief and good-nature, would not
submit to anything but a hearty, cousinly squeeze of the hand, nor
relinquish it till he had forced her to utter articulately the message
to grandmamma that she had been muttering with her head averted.  At
last it was spoken sharply, and her hand drawn petulantly away, and,
without looking back at him, her high, stiff head vanished into the
house, towering above the bright rainbow of ribbons, veils, and
parasols.

The evening would have been very happy, had not Lord Ormersfield looked
imperturbably grave and inaccessible to his sister-in-law's
blandishments.  She did not use the most likely means of disarming him
when she spoke of making a tour in the summer.  It had been a long
promise that Isabel and Virginia should go to see their old governess
at Paris; but if France still were in too disturbed a state, they might
enjoy themselves in Belgium, and perhaps her dear Fitzjocelyn would
accompany them as their escort.

His eyes had glittered at the proposal before he recollected the sorrow
that threatened his father, and began to decline, protesting that he
should be the worst escort in the world, since he always attracted
accidents and adventures.  But his aunt, discovering that he had never
been abroad, became doubly urgent, and even appealed to his father.

'As far as I am concerned, Fitzjocelyn may freely consult his own
inclinations,' said the Earl, so gravely, that Lady Conway could only
turn aside the subject by a laugh, and assurance that she did not mean
to give him up.  She began to talk of James Frost, and her wishes to
secure him a second time as Walter's tutor in the holidays.

'You had better take him with you,' said Louis; 'he would really be of
use to you, and how he would enjoy the sight of foreign parts!'

Isabel raised her head with a look of approbation, such as encouraged
him to come a little nearer, and apeak of the pleasure that her
kindness had given to Clara.

'There is a high spirit and originality about Clara, which make her a
most amusing companion.'

Isabel replied, 'I am very glad of an hour with her, especially now
that I am without my sisters.'

'She must be such a riddle to her respectable school-fellows, that
intercourse beyond them must be doubly valuable.'

'Poor child!  Is there no hope for her but going out as a governess?'

'Unluckily, we have no Church patronage for her brother; the only
likely escape--unless, indeed, the uncle in Peru, whom I begin to
regard as rather mythical, should send an unavoidable shower of gold on
them.'

'I hope not,' said Isabel, 'I could almost call their noble poverty a
sacred thing.  I never saw anything so beautiful as the reverent
affection shown to Mrs. Dynevor on Walter's birthday, when she was the
Queen of the Night, and looked it, and her old pupils vied with each
other in doing her honour.  I have remembered the scene so often in
looking at our faded dowagers here.'

'I would defy Midas to make my Aunt Catharine a faded dowager,' said
Louis.

'No; but he could have robbed their homage of half--nay, all its grace.'

They talked of Northwold, and Isabel mentioned various details of Mrs.
Ponsonby, which she had learnt from Miss King, and talked of Mary with
great feeling and affection.  Never had Louis had anything so like a
conversation with Isabel, and he was more bewitched than ever by the
enthusiasm and depth of sensibilities which she no longer concealed by
coldness and reserve.  In fact, she had come to regard him as an
accessory of Northwold, and was delighted to enjoy some exchange of
sympathy upon Terrace subjects--above all, when separated from the
school-room party.  Time had brought her to perceive that the fantastic
Viscount did not always wear motley, and it was almost as refreshing as
meeting with Clara, to have some change from the two worlds in which
she lived.  In her imaginary world, Adeline had just been rescued from
the Corsairs by a knight hospitalier, with his vizor down, and was
being conducted home by him, with equal probabilities of his dying at
her feet of a concealed mortal wound, or conducting her to her convent
gate, and going off to be killed by the Moors.  The world of gaiety was
more hollow and wearisome than ever; and the summons was as unwelcome
to her as to Fitzjocelyn, when Lord Ormersfield reminded him that the
ladies were going to an evening party, and that it was time to take
leave.

'Come with us, Fitzjocelyn,' said his aunt.  'They would be charmed to
have you;' and she mentioned some lions, whose names made Louis look at
his father.

'I will send the carriage for you,' said the Earl; but Louis had learnt
to detect the tone of melancholy reluctance in that apparently
unalterable voice, and at once refused.  Perhaps it was for that reason
that Isabel let him put on her opera-cloak and hand her down stairs.
'I don't wonder at you,' she said; 'I wish I could do the same.'

'I wished it at first,' he answered; 'but I could not have gone without
a heavy heart.'

'Are you young enough to expect to go to any gaieties without a heavy
heart?'

'I am sorry for you,' said he, in his peculiar tone: 'I suppose I am
your elder.'

'I am almost twenty-_four_,' she said, with emphasis.

'Indeed!  That must be the age for care, to judge by the change it has
worked in Jem Frost.'

The words were prompted by a keen, sudden desire to mark their effect;
but he failed to perceive any, for they were in a dark part of the
entry, and her face was turned away.

'Fitzjocelyn,' said the Earl, on the way home, 'do not think it
necessary to look at me whenever you receive an invitation.  It makes
us both appear ridiculous, and you are in every respect your own
master.'

'I had rather not, thank you,' said Louis, in an almost provokingly
indifferent tone.

'It is full time you should assume your own guidance.'

'How little he knows how little that would suit him!' thought Louis,
sighing despondingly.  'Am I called on to sacrifice myself in
everything, and never even satisfy him?'



CHAPTER XVIII.

REST FOR THE WEARY.

  Therefore, arm thee for the strife
  All throughout this mortal life,
  Soldier now and servant true,
  Earth behind, and heaven in view.
                       REV. I. WILLIAMS.


The first impression on arriving at Northwold was, that the danger had
been magnified.  Mrs. Frost's buoyant spirits had risen at the first
respite; and though there was a weight on Mary's brow, she spoke
cheerfully, and as if able to attend to other interests, telling Louis
of her father's wish for some good workmen to superintend the mines,
and asking him to consult his friends at Illershall on the subject.

Lord Ormersfield came down encouraged by his visit to the invalid, whom
he had found dressed and able to converse nearly as usual.  She begged
him to come to dinner the next day, and spend the evening with her,
promising with a smile that if he would bring Louis, their aunt should
chaperon Mary.

When the Earl went upstairs after dinner, the other three closed round
the fire, and talked in a tranquil, subdued strain, on various topics,
sometimes grave, sometimes enlivened by the playfulness inherent in two
of the party.  Aunt Kitty spoke of her earlier days, and Louis and Mary
ventured questions that they would have ordinarily deemed intrusive.
Yet it was less the matter than the manner of their dialogue--the deep,
unavowed fellow-feeling and mutual reliance--which rendered it so
refreshing and full of a kind of repose.  Louis felt it like the
strange bright stillness, when birds sing their clearest, fullest
notes, and the horizon reach of sky beams with the softest, brightest
radiance, just ere it be closed out by the thunder-cloud, whose first
drops are pausing to descend; and to Mary it was peace--peace which she
was willing gratefully to taste to the utmost, from the instinctive
perception that the call had come for her to brace all her powers of
self-control and fortitude; while to the dear old aunt, besides her
enjoyment of her darling's presence, each hour was a boon that she
could believe the patient or the daughter, relieved and happy.

Louis was admitted for a few minutes' visit to the sick-chamber, and
went up believing that he ought to be playful and cheerful; but he was
nearly overcome by Mrs. Ponsonby's own brightness, as she hoped that
her daughter and aunt had made themselves agreeable.

'Thank you, I never was so comfortable, not even when my foot was bad.'

'I believe you consider that a great compliment.'

'Yes, I never was so much off my own mind, nor on other people's:' and
the recollection of all he owed to Mrs. Ponsonby's kindness rushing
over him, he looked so much affected, that Mary was afraid of his
giving way, and spoke of other matters; her mother responded, and he
came away quite reassured, and believing Mrs. Frost's augury that at
the next call, the invalid would be in the drawing-room.

On the way home, however, his father overthrew such hopes, and made him
aware of the true state of the case,--namely, that this was but the
lull before another attack, which, whether it came within weeks or
days, would probably be the last.

'Does Mary know?'

'She does.  She bears up nobly.'

'And what is to become of her?'

The Earl sighed deeply.  'Lima is her destiny.  Her mother is bent on
it, and says that she wishes it herself; but on one thing I am
resolved: she shall not go alone!  I have told her mother that I will
go with her, and not leave her without seeing what kind of home that
man has for her.  Mary--the mother, I mean--persists in declaring that
he has real affection for his child, and that her presence will save
him.'

'If anything could--' broke out Louis.

'It should! it ought; but I do not trust him.  I know Robert Ponsonby
as his wife has never chosen to know him.  This was not a time for
disguise, and I told her plainly what I thought of risking her daughter
out there.  But she called it Mary's duty--said that he was fully to be
trusted where his child was concerned, and that Mary was no stranger at
Lima, but could take care of herself, and had many friends besides
Oliver Dynevor there.  But I told her that go with her I would!'

'You to take the voyage!  Was not she glad?'

'I think she was relieved; but she was over-grateful and distressed,
and entreating me to be patient with him.  She need not fear.  I never
was a hasty man; and I shall only remember that she bears his name, and
that he is Mary's father--provided always that it is fit Mary should
remain with him.  Miserable!  I can understand that death may well come
as a friend--But her daughter!' he exclaimed, giving way more than he
might have done anywhere but in the dark; 'how can she endure to leave
her to such a father--to such prospects!'

'She knows it is not only to such a father that she leaves her,'
murmured Louis.

'Her words--almost her words,' said the Earl, between earnestness and
impatience; 'but when these things come to pressing realities, it is
past me how such sayings are a consolation.'

'Not if they were no more than sayings.'

There was silence.  Louis heard an occasional groaning sigh from his
father, and sat still, with feelings strongly moved, and impelled to
one of his sudden and impetuous resolutions.

The next morning, he ordered his horse, saying he would bring the last
report from the Terrace.

That afternoon, Mrs. Ponsonby observed a tremulousneas in Mary's hand,
and a willingness to keep her face turned away; and, on more minute
glances, a swelling of the eyelids was detected.

'My dear,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, 'you should take a walk to-day.  Pray go
out with the Conways.'

'Oh no, thank you, mamma.'

'If the cousins come in from Ormersfield, I shall tell Louis to take
you to look at his farm.  It would be very good for you--My dear, what
is it?' for Mary's ears and neck, all that she could see, were crimson.

'Oh, mamma! he has been doing it again.  I did not mean to have told
you--' said Mary, the strong will to be calm forcing back the tears and
even the flush.

'Nay, dear child, nothing can hurt me now.  You must let me share all
with you to the last. What did you say to him?'

'I told him that I could not think of such things now,' said Mary,
almost indignantly.

'And he?'

'He begged my pardon, and said he only did it because he thought it
might be a relief to you.'

'Only; did he say 'only?'

'I am not sure.  At least,' she added, with a deep sigh, 'I thought he
meant only--'

'And you, my dearest, if you had not thought he meant _only_?'

'Don't ask me, mamma; I cannot think about it!'

'Mary, dearest, I do wish to understand you.'

'Is it of any use for me to ask myself?' said Mary.

'I think it is.  I do not say that there might not be insuperable
obstacles; but I believe we ought to know whether you are still
indifferent to Louis.'

'Oh, that I never was!  Nobody could be!'

'You know what I mean,' said her mother, slightly smiling.

'Mamma, I don't know what to say,' replied Mary, after a pause.  'I had
thought it wrong to let my thoughts take that course; but when he spoke
in his own soft, gentle voice, I felt, and I can't help it,
that--he--could--comfort--me--better--than--any one.'

Not hesitating, but slowly, almost inaudibly, she brought out the
words; and, as the tears gushed out irrepressibly with the last, she
hastened from the room, and was seen no more till she had recovered
composure, and seemed to have dismissed the subject.

Louis kept this second attempt a secret; he was not quite sure how he
felt, and did not wish to discuss his rejection.  At breakfast, he
received a note from Mrs. Ponsonby, begging him to come to the Terrace
at three o'clock; and the hope thus revived made him more
conversational than he had been all the former day.

He found that Mary was out walking, and he was at once conducted to
Mrs. Ponsonby's room, where he looked exceedingly rosy and confused,
till she began by holding out her hand, and saying, 'I wish to thank
you.'

'I am afraid I vexed Mary,' said Louis, with more than his usual
simplicity; 'but do you think there is no hope?  I knew it was a bad
time, but I thought it might make you more at ease on her account.'

'You meant all that was most kind.'

'I thought I might just try,' pursued he, disconsolately, 'whether she
did think me any steadier.  I hope she did not think me very
troublesome.  I tried not to harass her much.'

'My dear Louis, it is not a question of what you call steadiness.  It
is the old story of last summer, when you thought us old ones so much
more romantic than yourself.'

'You are thinking of Miss Conway,' said Louis, blushing, but with
curious naivete.  'Well, I have been thinking of that, and I really do
not believe there was anything in it.  I did make myself rather a fool
at Beauchastel, and Jem would have made me a greater one; but you know
my father put a stop to it.  Thinking her handsomer than other people
can't be love, can it?'

'Not alone, certainly.'

'And actually,' he pursued, 'I don't believe I ever think of her when I
am out of the way of her!  No, indeed! if I had not believed that was
all over, do you think I could have said what I did yesterday?'

'Not unless you believed so.'

'Well, but really you don't consider how little I have seen of her. I
was in awe of her at first, and since, I have kept away on purpose. I
never got on with her at all till the other evening.  I don't believe I
care for her one bit.  Then,' suddenly pausing, and changing his tone,
'you don't trust me after all.'

'I do.  I trust your principle and kindness implicitly, but I think the
very innocence of your heart prevents you from knowing what you are
about.'

'It is very hard,' said Louis; 'every one will have it that I must be
in love, till I shall have to believe so myself, and when I know it
cannot come to good.'

'You are making yourself more simple than you really are,' said Mra.
Ponsonby, half provoked.

Louis shut his eyes, and seemed to be rousing his faculties; then,
taking a new turn, he earnestly said, 'You know that the promises must
settle the question, and keep my affections fast.'

'Ah, Louis! there is the point.  Others, true and sincere as yourself,
have broken their own hearts, and those of others, from having made
vows in wilful ignorance of latent feelings.  It would be a sin in me
to allow you to bind yourself to Mary, with so little comprehension as
you have of your own sentiments.'

'Then I have done wrong in proposing it.'

'What would have been wrong in some cases, was more of blindness--ay,
and kindness--in you.  Louis, I cannot tell you my gratitude for your
wish to take care of my dear girl,' she said, with tears in her eyes.
'I hope you fully understand me.'

'I see I have made a fool of myself again, and that you have a right to
be very angry with me.'

'Not quite,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, smiling, 'but I am going to give you
some advice.  Settle your mind as to Miss Conway.  Your father is
beginning to perceive that his distrust was undeserved; he has promised
me not to object in case it should be for your true happiness; and I do
believe, for my own part, that, in some respects, she is better fitted
for his daughter-in-law than my poor Mary.'

'No one ever was half as good as Mary!' cried Louis.  'And this is what
you tell me!'

'Mind, I don't tell you to propose to her, nor to commit yourself in
any way: I only tell you to put yourself in a position to form a
reasonable judgment of your own feelings.  That is due to her, to
yourself, and to your wife, be she who she may.'

Louis sighed, and presently added, smiling, 'I am not going to rave
about preferences for another; but I do want to know whether anything
can be done for poor Jem Frost.'

'Ha! has he anything of this kind on his mind?'

'He does it in grand style--disconsolate, frantic, and frosty; but he
puzzles me completely by disclosing nothing but that he has no hope,
and thinks me his rival.  Can nothing be done?'

'No, Louis,' said Mrs. Ponsonby, decidedly; 'I have no idea that there
is anything in that quarter.  What may be on his mind, I cannot tell: I
am sure that he is not on Mary's.'

Louis rose.  'I have tired you,' he said, 'and you are very patient
with my fooleries.'

'You have been very patient with many a lecture of mine, Louis.'

'There are very few who would have thought me worth lecturing.'

'Ah, Louis! if I did not like you so well for what you are, I should
still feel the right to lecture you, when I remember the night I
carried you to your father, and tried to make him believe that you
would be his comfort and blessing. I think you have taught him the
lesson at last!'

'You have done it all,' said Louis, with deep feeling.

'And now, may I say what more I want to see in you?  If you could
acquire more resolution, more manliness--will you pardon my saying so?'

'Ah!  I have always found myself the identical weak man that all books
give up as a hopeless case,' said Louis, accepting the imputation more
easily than she could have supposed possible.

'No,' she said, vigorously, 'you have not come to your time of life
without openings to evil that you could not have resisted if you had
been really weak.'

'Distaste--and rather a taste for being quizzed,' said Louis.

'Those are not weakness.  Your will is indolent, and you take refuge in
fancying that you want strength.  Rouse yourself, not to be drifted
about--make a line for yourself.'

'My father will have me walk in no line but his own.'

'You have sense not to make duty to him an excuse for indolence and
dislike of responsibility.  You have often disappointed yourself by
acting precipitately; and now you are throwing yourself prone upon him,
in a way that is unwise for you both.'

'I don't know what to do!' said Louis.  'When I thought the aim of my
life was to be to devote myself to his wishes, you--ay, and he
too--tell me to stand alone.'

'It will be a disappointment to him, if you do not act and decide for
yourself--yes, and worse than disappointment.  He knows what your
devotional habits are; and if he sees you wanting in firmness or
energy, he will set down all the rest as belonging to the softer parts
of your nature.'

'On the contrary,' exclaimed Louia, indignantly, 'all the resolution I
ever showed came from nothing else!'

'I know it.  Let him see that these things make a man of you; and,
Louis--you feel what a difference it might make!'

Louis bowed his head thoughtfully.

'You, who are both son and daughter to him, may give up schemes and
pleasures for his sake, and may undertake work for which you have no
natural turn; but, however you may cross your inclinations, never be
led contrary to your judgment.  Then, and with perseverance, I think
you will be safe.'

'Perseverance--your old lesson.'

'Yes; you must learn to work over the moment when novelty is gone and
failure begins, even though your father should treat the matter as a
crotchet of your own.  If you know it is worth doing, go on, and he
will esteem you and it.'

'My poor private judgment! you work it hard! when it has generally only
run me full-drive into some egregious blunder!'

'Not your true deliberate judgment, exercised with a sense of
responsibility.  Humility must not cover your laziness.  You have such
qualities and such talents as must be intended to do good to others,
not to be trifled away in fitful exertions.  Make it your great effort
to see clearly, and then to proceed steadfastly, without slackening
either from weariness or the persuasions of others.'

'And you won't let me have the one person who can see clearly, and keep
me steady?'

'To be your husband, instead of your wife!  No, Louis; you must learn
to take yourself on your own hands, and lean neither on your father,
nor on any one else on earth, before you can be fit for Mary, or--'

'And if I did?' began Louis.

'You would make a man of yourself,' she said, interrupting him. 'That
is the first thing--not a reed shaken with the wind.  You can do it;
there is nothing that Grace cannot do.'

'I know there is not,' said Louis, reverently.

'And, oh! the blessing that you would so bring on yourself and on your
dear father!  You have already learnt to make him happier than I ever
looked to see him; and you must be energetic and consistent, that so he
may respect, not you, but the Power which can give you the strength.'

Louis's heart was too full to make any answer.  Mrs. Ponsonby lay back
in her chair, as though exhausted by the energy with which she had
spoken the last words; and there was a long silence.  He thought he
ought to go, and yet could not resolve to move.  At last she
spoke--'Good-bye, Louis.  Come what may, I know Mary will find in you
the--all that I have found your father.'

'Thank you, at least, for saying that,' said Louis.  'If you would only
hold out a hope--I wish it more than ever now!  I do not believe that I
should ever do as well with any one else!  Will you not give me any
prospect?'

'Be certain of your own heart, Louis!  Nay,' as she saw his face
brighten, 'do not take that as a promise.  Let me give you a few
parting words, as the motto I should like to leave with you--'Quit
yourselves like men; be strong.'  And so, Louis, whatever be your fixed
and resolute purpose, so it be accordant with the Will of Heaven, you
would surely, I believe, attain it, and well do you know how I should
rejoice to see'--She broke off, and said, more feebly, 'I must not go
on any longer.  Let me wish you good-bye, Louis: I have loved you only
less than my own child!'

Louis knelt on one knee beside her, held her hand, and bowed down his
face to hide the shower of tears that fell, while a mother's kiss and a
mother's blessing were on his brow.

He went down stairs, and out of the house, and took his horse from the
inn stables, without one word to any one.  The ostlers said to each
other that the young Lord was in great trouble about the lady at the
Terrace.

Mary came home; and if she knew why that long walk had been urged on
her, she gave no sign.  She saw her mother worn and tired, and she
restrained all perception that she was conscious that there had been
agitation.  She spoke quietly of the spring flowers that she had seen,
and of the people whom she had met; she gave her mother her tea, and
moved about with almost an increase of the studied quietness of the
sick-room.  Only, when Mrs. Frost came in for an hour, Mary drew back
into a corner with her knitting, and did not speak.

'Mary,' said her mother, when she came back from lighting her aunt down
stairs, 'come to me, my child.'

Mary came, and her mother took both her hands.  They were chilly; and
there was a little pulse on Mary's temple that visibly throbbed, and
almost seemed to leap, with fearful rapidity.

'Dear child, I had no power to talk before, or I would not have kept
you in suspense.  I am afraid it will not do.'

'I was sure of it,' said Mary, almost in a whisper.  'Dear mamma, you
should not have vexed and tired yourself.'

'I comforted myself,' said Mrs. Ponsonby; 'I said things to him that I
had longed to say, and how beautifully he took them!  But I could not
feel that he knew what he was about much better than he did the first
time.'

'It would not be right,' said Mary, in her old tone.

'I think your father might have been persuaded.  I would have written,
and done my utmost--'

'Oh, mamma, anything rather than you should have that worry!'

'And I think things will be different--he is softened, and will be more
so.  But it is foolish to talk in this way, and it may be well that the
trial should not be made; though that was not the reason I answered
Louis as I did.'

'I suppose it will be Miss Conway,' said Mary, trying to smile.

'At least, it ought to be no one else till he has seen enough of her to
form a judgment without the charm of prohibition; and this he may do
without committing himself, as they are so nearly connected.  I must
ask his father to give him distinct permission, and then I shall have
done with these things.'

Mary would not break the silence, nor recall her to earthly interests;
but she returned to the subject, saying, wistfully, 'Can you tell me
that you are content, dear child?'

'Quite content, thank you, mamma--I am certain it is right,' said Mary.
'It would be taking a wrong advantage of his compassion.  I fall too
far short of what would be wanted to make him happy.'

She spoke firmly, but her eyes were full of tears.  Her mother felt as
if no one could fail of happiness with Mary, but, controlling the
impulse, said, 'It is best, dearest; for you could not bear to feel
yourself unable to make him happy, or to fancy he might have more peace
without you.  My dear, your prospect is not all I could have wished or
planned, but this would be too cruel.'

'It is my duty to go to papa,' said Mary.  'What would be selfish could
not turn out well.'

'If you could be sure of his feelings--if he were only less strangely
youthful--No,' she added, breaking off, as if rebuking herself, 'it is
not to be thought of, but I do not wonder at you, my poor Mary--I never
saw any one so engaging, nor in whom I could place such confidence.'

'I am so glad!' said Mary, gratefully.  'You used not to have that
confidence.'

'I feared his being led.  Now I feel as sure as any one can dare of his
goodness.  But I have been talking to him about self-reliance and
consistency.  He is so devoid of ambition, and so inert and diffident
when not in an impetuous fit, that I dread his doing no good as well as
no evil.'

Mary shook her head.  Did she repress the expression of the sense that
her arm had sometimes given him steadiness and fixed his aim?'

'The resemblance to his mother struck me more than ever,' continued
Mrs. Ponsonby.  'There is far more mind and soul, but almost the same
nature--all bright, indolent sweetness, craving for something to lean
on, but he shows what she might have been with the same principles.
Dear boy! may he do well!'

'He will be very happy with Miss Conway,' said Mary.  'She will learn
to appreciate all he says and does--her enthusiasm will spur him on. I
shall hear of them.'

The unbreathed sigh seemed to be added to the weight of oppression on
Mary's patient breast; but she kept her eye steady, her brow unruffled.

All the joys did indeed appear to be passing from her with her mother,
and she felt as if she should never know another hour of gladness, nor
of rest in full free open-hearted confidence, but she could not dwell
either on herself or on the future, and each hour that her mother was
spared to her was too precious to be wasted or profaned by aught that
was personal.

Mrs. Ponsonby herself realized the weary soon to be at rest, the
harassed well nigh beyond the reach of troubling.  She treated each
earthly care and interest as though there were peace in laying it down
for the last time.  At intervals, as she was able, she wrote a long
letter to her husband, to accompany the tidings of her death; and she
held several conversations with Mary on her conduct for the future.
She hoped much from Mary's influence, for Mr. Ponsonby was fond of his
daughter, and would not willingly display himself in his worst colours
before her; and Mary's steadiness of spirits and nerves might succeed,
where her own liability to tears and trembling had always been a
provocation.  Her want of judgment in openly preferring her own
relations to his uncongenial sister had sown seeds of estrangement and
discord which had given Mrs. Ponsonby some cause for self-reproach, and
she felt great hope that her daughter would prevail where she had
failed.  There was little danger that he would not show Mary affection
enough to make her home-duties labours of love; and at her age, and
with her disposition, she could both take care of herself, and be an
unconscious restraint on her father.  The trust and hope that she would
be the means of weaning her father from evil, and bringing him home a
changed man, was Mrs. Ponsonby's last bright vision.

As to scruples on Lord Ormersfield becoming Mary's escort on the
voyage, Mrs. Ponsonby perceived his determination to be fixed beyond
remonstrance.  Perhaps she could neither regret that her daughter
should have such a protector, nor bear to reject his last kindness; and
she might have lingering hopes of the consequences of his meeting her
husband, at a time when the hearts of both would be softened.

These matters arranged, she closed out the world.  Louis saw her but
once again, when other words than their own were spoken, and when the
scene brought back to him a like one which had seemed his own farewell
to this earth.  His thread of life was lengthened--here was the moment
to pray that it might be strengthened.  Firm purpose was wakening
within him, and the battle-cry rang again in his ears--'Quit yourselves
like men; be strong!'

His eye sought Mary.  She looked, indeed, like one who could 'suffer
and be strong.'  Her brow was calm, though as if a load sat on her,
borne too patiently to mar her peace.  The end shone upon her, though
the path might be hid in gloom: one step at a time was enough, and she
was blest above all in her mother's good hope.

A hush was on them all, as though they were watching while a tired,
overtasked child sank to rest.

There was a space of suffering, when Mary and Miss Mercy did all that
love could do, and kept Mrs. Frost from the sight of what she could
neither cheer nor alleviate, and when all she could do was to talk over
the past with Lord Ormersfield.

Then came a brief interval of relief and consciousness, precious for
ever to Mary's recollection.  The last words of aught beneath were--'My
dearest love to your father.  Tell him I know now how much he has to
forgive.'

The tender, impulsive, overhasty spirit had wrought for itself some of
the trials that had chastened and perfected it, even while breaking
down the earthly tabernacle, so as to set free the weary soul, to enter
into Rest!



CHAPTER XIX.

MOONSHINE.

  He talked of daggers and of darts,
    Of passions and of pains,
  Of weeping eyes and wounded hearts,
    Of kisses and of chains:
  But still the lady shook her head,
    And swore by yea and nay,
  My whole was all that he had said,
    And all that he could say.
                     W. MACKWORTH PRAED.


Mary's strength gave way.  She was calm and self-possessed as ever, she
saw Lord Ormersfield, wrote to her aunt, made all necessary
arrangements, and, after the funeral, moved to Mrs. Frost's house. But,
though not actually ill, she was incapable of exertion, could not walk
up stairs without fatigue; and after writing a letter, or looking over
papers, Aunt Catharine would find her leaning back, so wan and
exhausted, that she could not resist being laid down to rest on the
sofa.

She shrank from seeing any fresh face, and the effort of talking to the
Earl resulted in such weariness and quiet depression, that Mrs. Frost
dared not press her to admit any one else, except Louis, who rode to
the Terrace almost every day; but when the kind aunt, believing there
must be solace in the sight of her boy, begged to bring him in, Mary
answered, with unusual vehemence, 'Pray don't: tell him I cannot see
any one.'  And when Mrs. Frost returned from a sorrowful talk with
Louis, she believed that Mary had been weeping.

Louis was sad enough.  Out of the few friends of his childhood he could
ill afford to lose one, and he grieved much for his father, to whom the
loss was very great.  The Earl strove, in his old fashion, to stifle
sorrow in letters of business, but could not succeed: the result was,
that he would discuss the one, Mary's past, and the other, Mary's
future, till time waxed so short that he gladly accepted his son's
assistance.  Conversations with Richardson and orders to Frampton
devolved on Louis, and the desire to do no mischief caused him to
employ his intellect in acquiring a new habit of attention and accuracy.

His reverence for Mary was doubled, and he was much concerned at his
exclusion, attributing it to his mistimed proposals, and becoming
sensible that he had acted boyishly and without due respect.  With a
longing desire to do anything for her, he dared not even send her a
greeting, a flower, or a book, lest it should appear an intrusion; and
but for his mournful looks, his aunt would have been almost vexed at
his so often preventing her from going to make another attempt to
induce his cousin to see him.

Mary first roused herself on finding that Lord Ormersfield was taking
it for granted that she would wait to hear from her father before
sailing for Peru.  The correspondence which had passed since her mother
had begun to decline, had convinced her that he expected and wished for
her without loss of time, and the vessel whose captain he chiefly
trusted was to sail at the end of May.  She entreated to be allowed to
go alone, declaring that she had no fears, and would not endure that
the Earl should double Cape Horn on her account; but he stood fast--he
would not be deprived of the last service that he could render to her
mother, and he had not reliance enough on her father to let her go out
without any guardian or friend.

Recent letters from Mr. Ponsonby and from Oliver Dynevor reiterated
requests for an intelligent man conversant with mining operations, and
Oliver had indicated a person whom he remembered at Chevleigh; but, as
his mother said, he forgot that people grew old in the Eastern
hemisphere, and the application was a failure.  Finding that Mary
regarded it as her charge, Fitzjocelyn volunteered to go to Illershall
to consult his friend Mr. Dobbs; and his first meeting with Mary was
spent in receiving business-like instructions as to the person for whom
he should inquire.

There were some who felt dubious when he was seen walking back from the
station with a young man who, in spite of broadcloth and growth, was
evidently Tom Madison.

'I could not help it, Mary,' said Louis, 'it was not my fault that
Dobbs would recommend him.'

Mr. Dobbs had looked this way and that, and concluded with, 'Well, Lord
Fitzjocelyn, I do not know who would answer your purpose better than
the young fellow you sent here a year ago.'

It appeared that Tom had striven assiduously both to learn his business
and to improve himself; and, having considerable abilities, already
brightened and sharpened by Louis, his progress had been surprising.
He had no low tastes, and was perfectly to be relied on for all
essential points; but Mr. Dobbs owned that he should be relieved by
parting with him, as he was not liked by his fellows, and was thought
by the foremen to give himself airs.  Quarrels and misunderstandings
had arisen so often, that he himself had been obliged to exert an
influence on his behalf, which he feared might make him obnoxious to
the accusation of partiality.  He considered that the lad had worth,
substance, and promise far beyond his fellows; but his blunt, haughty
manners, impatience of rough jokes, and rude avoidance of the
unrefined, made him the object of their dislike, so that it was
probable that he would thrive much better abroad and in authority; and
at his age, he was more likely to adapt himself to circumstances, and
learn a new language, than an older man, more used to routine.

The vision of the land for digging gold and silver seemed about to be
realized, just as Tom had been growing learned enough to despise it.
Enterprise and hopes of fortune made him wild to go; and Mary after
reading Dobbs's letter, and laying before Louis the various temptations
of Lima, found that he thought England to the full as dangerous for his
protege.  She, therefore, sent for the young man, and decided as
dispassionately as she could, upon taking him.

The Ormersfield world was extremely indignant; Frampton and Gervas
prophesied that no good would come of such a choice, and marvelled at
the Vicar, who gave the lad lodging in his house, and spent the
evenings in giving him such mathematical instruction and teaching of
other kinds, as he thought most likely to be useful to him.

To his surprise, however, Tom was much more grave and sober-minded
under his promotion than could have been expected.  Louis, who had
undertaken his outfit, was almost disappointed to find him so much out
of heart, and so little responsive to cheerful auguries; and at last a
little hint at bantering about the individual at the Terrace explained
his despondence.

It was all over.  Charlotte had hardly spoken to him while he was
waiting at No. 5, and Miss Faithfull's Martha had told him there had
been nothing but walking and talking with Lady Conway's fine butler,
and that Charlotte would never have nothing more to say to him!  Now!
Just as he might have spoken!  Was it not enough to knock the heart out
of it all!  He never wished to go near No. 5 again.

Louis strongly advised him at least to know his fate, and declared that
for his part, he would never take any Mrs. Martha's word, rather than
that of the lady herself.  Speak out, and, of course, Montrose's famous
motto came in, and was highly appreciated by Tom, though he still shook
his head ruefully, as he recollected what a lout he had been at his
last meeting with Charlotte, and how little he could compare with such
a fine gentleman as had been described, 'And she always had a taste for
gentility.'

'Well, Tom, I would not wish to see a better gentleman any day, than
you have stuff enough in you to make; and, if Charlotte be a girl worth
having, she'll value that more than French polish.  You're getting
polished, too, Tom, and will more as you get better and sounder, and
that polish will be true and not French.'

Meantime Charlotte had been in twenty states of mind.  Had Tom striven
at once to return to the former terms, the Lady of Eschalott might have
treated it as mere natural homage, compared him with Delaford's
delicate flatteries, and disclaimed him.  She had been chilling and shy
at the first meeting, expecting him to presume on his promotion, but
when he was gone, came no more, except for necessary interviews with
Miss Ponsonby, and then merely spoke civilly, and went away directly,
her heart began to fail her. Neglect mortified her; she was first
affronted, sure she did not care, and resolved to show that she did
not; but then the vexation became stronger, she wondered if he had
heard of Delaford, was angry at her intercourse with the butler being
deemed an offence, and finally arrived at a hearty longing for a return
to old times. Vanity or affection, one or the other, demanded Tom's
allegiance.

And Tom came at last.  He did not come by moonlight--he did not come at
all romantically; but as she was washing vegetables, he stood by the
scullery door, and made no elegant circumlocutions.  Would she be his
wife, some time or other? and he would try to be worthy of her.

Fitzjocelyn had judged her rightly!  Sound true love had force enough
to dispel every illusion of sentimental flattery.  Charlotte burst into
a flood of tears, and, sobbing behind her apron, confessed that she
never liked nobody like Tom, but she was afraid he would think she had
been false to him, for she did like Mr. Delaford's talk, all about
poetry and serenades; but she never would heed him no more, not if he
went down on his knees to her.

Tom was a great deal more likely to perform that feat.

He stood his ground when Mrs. Beckett came in, and told her all about
it, and the good old soul mingled her tears with Charlotte's, wished
them joy, and finished washing the greens.  Nevertheless Mrs. Frost
thought the kitchen-clock was very slow.

Their 'walking together' was recognised.  Martha was very angry with
Jane, and predicted that the young vagabone would never be heard of
more; and that the only benefit would be, that it would settle the
girl's mind, and hinder her from encouraging any more followers.  And
even Mrs. Frost had her doubts.  Her prudent counsel interfered with
Tom's wish to carry out poor little Charlotte as his wife; and they had
to content themselves with a betrothal until they should have 'saved
something,' exchanging brooches, each with a memorial lock of hair.
During the remaining week, the Lady of Eschalott neither ate nor slept,
and though she did her work, her tears never seemed to cease.  She
defended herself by averring that Miss Ponsonby's pillow was soaked
every morning; but if Mary's heavy eyelids corroborated her, her
demeanour did not.  Mary was busy in dismantling the house and in
packing up; speaking little, but always considerate and self-possessed,
and resolute in avoiding all excitement of feeling.  She would not go
to Ormersfield, as the Earl proposed, even for one day, and a few books
connected with the happy lessons of last summer, were given into Mrs.
Frost's keeping, with the steady, calm word, 'I had better not take
them.'  She made no outpouring even to that universal, loving
confidante, Aunt Catharine; and the final parting did not break down
her self-restraint, though, as the last bend of her head was given, the
last chimney of Northwold disappeared, her sensation of heartache
almost amounted to sickening.

She was going to Bryanston Square.  Her aunt had been as kind as
possible, and had even offered to come to Northwold to fetch her home;
but Mary had been too considerate to allow her to think of so dreadful
a journey, and had in fact, been glad to be left only to her own Aunt
Catharine.  The last letters which had passed between Mrs. Ponsonby and
Annt Melicent had been such as two sincere Christian women could not
fail to write in such circumstances as must soften down all asperities,
alleviate prejudice and variance, and be a prelude to that perfect
unity when all misunderstandings shall end for ever; and thus Mary had
the comfort of knowing that the two whom she loved so fondly, had
parted with all mutual affection and cordial honour.

She really loved the little prim stiff figure who stood on the stairs
to welcome her.  The house had been her home for ten of the most
home-forming years of her life, and felt familiar and kindly; it was
very quiet, and it was an unspeakable comfort to be with one who talked
freely of her father with blind partiality and love, and did not
oppress her with implied compassion for her return to him.

Yet Mary could not help now and then being sensible that good Aunt
Melicent was not the fountain of wisdom which she used to esteem her.
Now and then a dictum would sound narrow and questionable, objections
to books seemed mistaken, judgments of people hard, and without
sufficient foundation; and when Mary tried to argue, she found herself
decidedly set down, with as much confident superiority as if she had
been still sixteen years old.  Six years spent in going to the other
side of the world, and in seeing so many varieties of people, did not
seem to Aunt Melicent to have conferred half so much experience as
sleeping every night in Bryanston Square, daily reading the Morning
Post, and holding intercourse with a London world of a dozen old
ladies, three curates, and a doctor.

The worst of it was, that a hurt and angry tenderness was always
excited in Mary's mind by the manner of any reference to Northwold or
Ormersfield.  It seemed to be fixed, beyond a doubt, that everything
there must have been wrong and fashionable; and even poor dear Aunt
Kitty was only spoken of with a charitable hope that affliction had
taught her to see the error of her days of worldly display.

It was allowed that there was nothing objectionable in Clara Frost, who
was subdued by the sight of Mary's deep mourning, and in silent formal
company could be grave and formal too.  But there was a severe shock in
a call from Lady Conway and Isabel; and on their departure Mary was
cross-examined, in the hope that they had been outrageously gay at
Northwold, and for want of any such depositions, was regaled with
histories of poor Lady Fitzjocelyn's vanities, which had not lost by
their transmission through twenty-two years and twice as many mouths.

Still more unpleasant was the result of a visit from the Earl and his
son to appoint the day of starting for Liverpool.  Louis was in no mood
to startle any one; he was very sad at heart, and only anxious to be
inoffensive; but his air was quite enough to give umbrage, and cause
the instant remark, 'I never saw such a puppy!'

Nothing but such angry incoherency occurred to Mary, that she forcibly
held her peace, but could not prevent a burning crimson from spreading
over her face.  She went and stood at the window, glad that Miss
Ponsonby had just taken up the newspaper, which she daily read from end
to end, and then posted for Lima.

By and by came a little dry cough, as she went through the
presentations at the levee, and read out 'Viscount Fitzjocelyn, by the
Earl of Ormersfield.'

Mary's mind made an excursion to the dear Yeomanry suit, till her aunt,
having further hunted them out among the Earls and Viscounts summed up
at the end, severely demanded whether she had known of their intention.

'I knew he was to be presented.'

'Quite the young man of fashion.  No doubt beginning that course, as if
the estate were not sufficiently impoverished already.  I am not
surprised at the report that Lord Ormersfield was very anxious to
secure your fortune for his son.'

This was too much, and Mary exclaimed, 'He never believes in any
fortune that depends on speculation.'

'Oh, so there was nothing in it!' said Miss Ponsonby, who would have
liked the satisfaction of knowing that her niece had refused to be a
Countess, and, while Mary was debating whether her silence were
untruthful, her bent head and glowing cheek betrayed her.  'Ah! my
dear, I will ask no questions; I see you have been annoyed.  It always
happens when a girl with expectations goes among needy nobility.'

'You would not say that, if you knew the circumstances,' said Mary,
looking down.

'I won't distress you, my dear; I know you are too wise a girl to be
dazzled with worldly splendours, and that is enough for me.'

The poor old furniture at Ormersfield!

Mary held her tongue, though reproaching herself for cruel injustice to
all that was dearest to her, but how deny her refusal, or explain the
motives.

Not that her aunt wanted any explanation, except her own excellent
training, which had saved her niece from partaking her mother's
infatuation for great people.  She had a grand secret to pour into the
bosom of her intimates in some tete-a-tete tea-party by-and-by, and
poor Mary little guessed at the glorification of her prudence which was
flowing from her aunt's well-mended pen, in a long letter to Mr.
Ponsonby.  She thought it right that he should be informed, she said,
that their dear Mary had conducted herself according to their fondest
wishes; that the relations, among whom she had unfortunately been
thrown, had formed designs on her fortune, such as they had every
reason to expect; that every solicitation had been employed, but that
Mary had withstood all that would have been most alluring to girls
brought up to esteem mere worldly advantages.  It was extremely
gratifying, the more so as the young gentleman in question might be
considered as strikingly handsome to the mere outward eye, which did
not detect the stamp of frivolity, and the effect of an early
introduction to the world of fashion and dissipation.  She trusted that
their dear young heiress would have a better fate, owing to her own
wisdom, than being chosen to support the extravagance of a young titled
adventurer.

Having worked herself up into enthusiastic admiration of her own work,
Miss Ponsonby was kinder than ever to her niece, and pitied her for
being harassed with Lord Fitzjocelyn's company to Liverpool.

Mary was not as much relieved as she had expected, when her hand had
been released from his pressure, and she had seen the last glimpse of
his returning boat.

Henceforth her imagination was to picture him only with Isabel Conway.

And so Viscount Fitzjocelyn was left with more liberty than he knew
what to do with.  He was disinclined to begin the pursuit of Miss
Conway, as if this would involve a want of delicacy and feeling, and he
had no other object.  The world was before him, but when he drove to
the Liverpool Station, he was unwilling to exert his mind to decide for
what ticket to ask.

The bias was given by the recollection of a message from his father to
Frampton.  It would be less trouble to go home than to write, and,
besides, Aunt Catharine was alone.  She was his unfailing friend, and
it would be a great treat to have her to himself.

Home then he went, where he spent the long summer days in listless,
desultory, busy idleness, often alone, dreaming over last year, often
passing his evenings with his aunt, or bringing her to see his designs;
dining out whenever he was invited, and returning odd uncertain answers
when Mr. Calcott asked him what he was going to do.

Mr. Holdswolth was going to leave James in charge of his parish, and
take a walking tour in Cornwall, and perversely enough, Louis's fancy
fixed on joining him; and was much disappointed when Mrs. Frost proved,
beyond dispute, that an ankle, which a little over haste or fatigue
always rendered lame, would be an unfair drag upon a companion, and
that if he went at all, it must not be on his own feet.

At last, Lady Conway made a descent upon Northwold.  Paris had become
so tranquil that she had no hesitation in taking her two elder
daughters to make their promised visit; and such appeals were made to
Louis to join them, that it became more troublesome to refuse than to
comply, and, at the shortest notice, he prepared to set out as the
escort of the Conway family.

'Now for it!' he thought.  'If she be the woman, I cannot fail to find
it out, between the inns and the sights!'

Short as the notice was, the Lady of Eschalott could have wished it
shorter.  No sooner had Mr. Delaford set foot in the House Beautiful,
than Mrs. Martha announced to him that he would be happy to hear that
Charlotte Arnold was going to be married to a very respectable young
man, whom she had known all his life, and to whom Mr. Dynevor and Miss
Ponsonby had given an appointment to the gold mines, out of respect for
Lord Fitzjocelyn.  Mr. Delaford gravely declared himself glad to hear
it.

But Delaford's purpose in life was, that no maiden should fail of being
smitten with his charms; and he took Charlotte's defection seriously to
heart.  His first free moment was devoted to a call in Number 5, but
Charlotte was scouring in the upper regions, and Mrs. Beckett only
treated him to another edition of the gold mines, in which, if they
became silver, the power and grandeur of Mr. Oliver were mightily
magnified.  Mr. Delaford thrummed his most doleful tunes on the guitar
that evening, but though the June sun was sinking beauteously,
Charlotte never put her head out.  However, the third time, he found
her, and then she was coy and blushing, reserved and distant, and so
much prettier, and more genuine than all his former conquests, that
something beyond vanity became interested.

He courted the muses, and walked in with a pathetic copy of verses,
which, some day or other, might serve to figure in the county
newspaper, complaining of desertion and cruelty.

Charlotte sat at the little round table; Jane was upstairs, and without
her guardian, she felt that she must guard herself.  He laid the verses
down before her with a most piteous countenance.

'Please don't, Mr. Delaford,' she said; 'I asked Mrs. Beckett to tell
you--'

'She has transfixed my breast,' was the commencement, and out poured a
speech worthy of any hero of Charlotte's imagination, but it was not
half so pleasant to hear as to dream of, and the utmost she could say
was a reiteration of her 'please don't!'

At last she mustered courage to say, 'I can't listen, sir.  I never
ought to have done it.  I am promised now, and I can't.'

A melodramatic burst of indignation frightened her nearly out of her
senses, and happily brought Jane down.  He was going the next day, but
he returned once more to the charge, very dolorous and ill-used; but
Charlotte had collected herself and taken counsel by that time. 'I
never promised you anything, sir,' she said.  'I never knew you meant
nothing.'

'Ah! Miss Arnold, you cannot interpret the heart!' and he put his hand
upon it.

'Nor I don't believe you meant it, neither!' continued Charlotte, with
spirit.  'They tell me 'tis the way you goes on with all young women as
have the ill-luck to believe you, and that 'tis all along of your
hard-heartedness that poor Miss Marianne looks so dwining.'

'When ladies will throw themselves at a gentleman's head, what can a
poor man do?  Courtesy to the sex is my motto; but never, never did I
love as I love you!' said Delaford--'never have I spoken as I do now!
My heart and hand are yours, fairest Charlotte!'

'For shame, Mr. Delaford; don't you know I am promised?'

He went on, disregarding--'My family is above my present situation,
confidential though it be; but I would at once quit my present post--I
would open an extensive establishment for refreshment at some
fashionable watering-place.  My connexions could not fail to make it
succeed.  You should merely superintend--have a large establishment
under you--and enjoy the society and amusements for which you are
eminently fitted.  We would have a library of romance and
poetry--attend the theatre weekly--and,'--(finishing as if to clench
the whole) 'Charlotte, do you know what my property consists of?  I
have four hundred pounds and expectations!'

If Charlotte had not been guarded, what would have been the effect of
the library of poetry and romance?

But her own poetry, romance, and honest heart, all went the same way,
and she cried out--'I don't care what you have, not I.  I've promised,
and I'll be true--get along with you!'

The village girl, hard pressed, was breaking out.

'You bid me go.  Cruel girl! your commands shall be obeyed.  I go
abroad!  You know the disturbed state of the Continent.--In some
conflict for liberty, where the desperate poniard is uplifted--there--'

'Oh! don't talk so dreadful.  Pray--'

'Do you bid me pause?  At a word from you.  You are the arbitress of my
destiny.'

'No; I've nothing to do--do go!  Only promise you'll not do nothing
dangerous--'

'Reject me, and life is intolerable.  Where the maddened crowd rise
upon their tyrants, there in thickest of the fray--'

'You'll be the first to take to your heels, I'll be bound!  Ain't you
ashamed of yourself, to be ranting and frightening a poor girl that
fashion?' cried the friendly dragon Martha, descending on them.

'Do you apply that language to me, ma'am?'

'That I do! and richly you deserve it, too, sir!  See if your missus
doesn't hear of your tricks, if I find you at this again.'

The 'sex' fairly scolded the courteous Delaford off the field; and
though she turned her wrath on Charlotte for having encouraged him, and
wondered what the poor young man over the seas would think of it, her
interposition had never been so welcome.  Charlotte cried herself into
tranquillity, and was only farther disturbed by a dismal epistle,
conveyed by the shoe-boy on the morning of departure, breathing the
language of despair, and yet announcing that she had better think twice
of the four hundred pounds and expectations, for that it was her
destiny that she and no other should be the bride of Delaford.

'If I could only know he would do nothing rash!' sighed Charlotte.

Jane comforted her; Martha held that he was the last man in the world
who would do anything rash.  Miss Conway's Marianne, who was left
behind, treated Charlotte as something ignominious, but looked so ill,
miserable, and pining, that Miss Mercy was persuaded she was going into
a decline, and treated her with greater kindness than she had met since
she was a child.

In the meantime, Fitzjocelyn had begun with a fit of bashfulness. The
knowledge that this was the crisis, and that all his friends looked to
the result of the expedition, made him feel as if he were committing
himself whenever he handed Isabel in or out of a carriage, and find no
comfort except in Virginia's chattering.

This wore off quickly; the new scene took effect on his impressible
mind, and the actual sights and sounds drove out all the rest.  His
high spirits came back, he freely hazarded Mrs. Frost's old
boarding-school French, and laughed at the infinite blunders for which
Virginia took him to task, was excessively amused at Delaford's
numerous adventures, and enjoyed everything to the utmost.  To Miss
Conway he turned naturally as the person best able to enter into the
countless associations of every scene; and Isabel, becoming aware of
his amount of knowledge, and tone of deep thought, perceived that she
had done Mr. Frost Dynevor injustice in believing his friendship blind
or unmerited.

They were on most comfortable terms.  They had walked all over
Versailles together, and talked under their breath of the murdered
Queen; they had been through the Louvre, and Isabel, knowing it well of
old, found all made vivid and new by his enthusiastic delight; they had
marvelled together at the poor withered 'popular trees,' whose name had
conferred on them the fatal distinction of trees of liberty; they had
viewed, like earnest people, the scenes of republican Paris, and
discussed them with the same principles, but with sufficient difference
in detail for amicable argument.  They had thought much of things and
people, and not at all of each other.

Only Isabel thought she would make the Viscount into a Vidame, both as
more quaint and less personal, and involving slight erasures, and Louis
was surprised to find what was the true current of his thoughts.  With
Isabel propitious, without compunction in addressing her, with all the
novelty and amusement before him, he found himself always recurring to
Mary, trying all things by Mary's judgment, wondering whether he should
need approval of his theories in Mary's eyes, craving Mary's
sympathies, following her on her voyage, and imagining her arrival.
Was it the perverse spirit of longing after the most unattainable?

He demanded of himself whether it were a fatal sign that he regretted
the loss of Isabel, when she went to spend a few days with her old
governess.  Miss Longman had left the Conway family in order to take
care of the motherless children of a good-for-nothing brother, who had
run too deeply into debt to be able to return to England.  He was now
dead, but she was teaching English, and obtaining advantages of
education for her nieces, which detained her at Paris; and as she had a
bed to offer her former pupil, Isabel set her heart on spending her
last three days in the unrestrained intercourse afforded by a visit to
her.  Louis found that though their party had lost the most agreeable
member, yet it was not the loss of the sun; and that he was quite as
ready to tease his aunt and make Virginia laugh, as if Isabel had been
looking on with a smile of wonder and commiseration for their nonsense.



CHAPTER XX.

THE FANTASTIC VISCOUNT.

  Search for a jewel that too casually
  Hath left mine arm: it was thy master's.  Shrew me
  If I would lose it for a revenue
  Of any king's in Europe!--Cymbeline.


'My dear Fitzjocelyn, what is to be done?  Have you heard?  Delaford
says these horrid creatures are rising!  There was an attack on the
Hotel de Ville last night!  A thousand people killed, at least!--The
National Guard called out!'

'One of the lions of Paris, my dear aunt; Virginia is seeing it in
style.'

'Seeing it!  We must go at once.  They will raise those horrid
barricades;--we shall be closed in.  And Isabel gone to that governess!
I wish I had never consented!  How could I come here at all?
Fitzjocelyn, what is to be done?'

'Drive round that way, if you are bent on going,' said Louia, coolly.
'Meantime, Virginia, my dear, I will thank you for some coffee.'

'How can you talk of such things?' cried his aunt.  'It is all those
savage wretches, mad because the national workshops are closed.
Delaford declares they will massacre all the English.'

'Poor wretches, I believe they are starving.  I think you are making
yourself ill--the most pressing danger.  Come, Virginia, persuade your
mamma to sit down to breakfast, while I go to reconnoitre. Where are
the passports?'

Virginia had lost all terror in excitement, but neither she nor her
mother could bear to let him go out, to return they knew not when. The
carriage had already been ordered, but Lady Conway was exceedingly
frightened at the notion of driving anywhere but direct to the railway
station; she was sure that they should encounter something frightful if
they went along the Boulevards.

'Could not Delaford go to fetch Isabel?' suggested Virginia, 'he might
take a carriage belonging to the hotel.'

Delaford was summoned, and desired to go to fetch Miss Conway, but
though he said, 'Yes, my Lady,' he looked yellow and white, and
loitered to suggest whether the young lady would not be alarmed.

'I will go with you,' said Louis.  'Order the carriage, and I shall be
ready.'

Lady Conway, to whom his presence seemed protection, was almost
remonstrating, but he said, 'Delaford is in no state to be of use. He
would take bonjour for a challenge.  Let me go with him, or he will
take care the young lady is alarmed.  When we are all together, we can
do as may seem best, and I shall be able better to judge whether we are
to fight or fly.'

Outside the door he found Delaford, who begged to suggest to his
lordship that my Lady would be alarmed if she were left without either
of them, he could hardly answer it to himself that she should remain
without any male protector.

'Oh yes, pray remain to defend her,' said Louis, much amused, and
hastening down-stairs he ordered the carriage to drive to Rue ----, off
the Boulevard St. Martin.

He thought there were signs boding tempest.  Shops were closed, and men
in blouses were beginning to assemble in knots--here and there the
red-cap loomed ominously in the far end of narrow alleys, and in the
wider streets the only passengers either seemed in haste like himself,
or else were National Guards hurrying to their alarm-post.

He came safely to Miss Longman's apartments, where he found all on the
alert--the governess and her nieces recounting their experiences of
February, which convinced them that there was more danger in returning
than in remaining.  Miss Longman was urgent to keep Isabel and Lord
Fitzjocelyn for at least a few hours, which she declared would probably
be the duration of any emeute, but they knew this would cause dreadful
anxiety, and when Fitzjocelyn proposed returning alone, Isabel insisted
on accompanying him, declaring that she had no fears, and that her
mother would be miserable if her absence should detain them.  Perhaps
she was somewhat deceived by the cool, almost ludicrous, light in which
he placed the revolution, as a sort of periodical spasm, and Miss
Longman's predictions that the railway would be closed, only quickened
her preparations.

After receiving many entreaties to return in case of alarm, they took
leave, Louis seating himself beside the driver, as well to keep a
look-out, as to free Miss Conway from fears of a tete-a-tete.  Except
for such a charge of ladies, he would have been delighted at the
excitement of an emeute; but he was far from guessing how serious a
turn affairs were taking.

The dark blue groups were thickening into crowds; muskets and pikes
were here and there seen, and once he recognised the sinister red flag.
A few distant shots were heard, and the driver would gladly have
hastened his speed, but swarms of haggard-looking men began to impede
their progress, and strains of 'Mourir pour la patrie' now and then
reached their ears.

Close to the Porte St. Denis they were brought to a full stop by a
dense throng, above whose heads were seen a line of carriages, the red
flag planted on the top.  Many hands were seizing the horses' heads,
and Louis leapt down, but not before the door had been opened, and
voices were exclaiming, 'Descendez citoyenne; au nom de la nation,
descendez.'  The mob were not uncivil, they made way for Louis, and
bade him reassure her that no harm was intended, but the carriage was
required for the service of the nation.

Isabel had retreated as far as she could from their hands, but she
showed no signs of quailing; her eyes were bright, her colour high, and
the hand was firm which she gave to Louis as she stepped out. There was
a murmur of admiration, and more than one bow and muttered apology
about necessity and the nation, as the crowd beheld the maiden in all
her innate nobleness and dignity.

'Which way?' asked Louis, finding that the crowd were willing to let
them choose their course.

'Home,' said Isabel, decidedly, 'there is no use in turning back.'

They pressed on past the barricade for which their carriage had been
required, a structure of confiscated vehicles, the interstices filled
up with earth and paving stones, which men and boys were busily tearing
up from the trottoirs, and others carrying to their destination.  They
were a gaunt, hungry, wolfish-looking race, and the first words that
Isabel spoke were words of pity, when they had passed them, and
continued their course along the Boulevards, here in desolate
tranquillity.  'Poor creatures, they look as if misery made them
furious! and yet how civil they were.'

'Were you much alarmed?  I wish I could have come to you sooner.'

'Thank you; I knew that you were at hand, and their address was not
very terrific, poor things.  I do not imagine there was any real
danger.'

'I wish I knew whether we are within or without the barricades.  If
within, we shall have to cross another.  We are actually becoming
historical!'

He broke off, amazed by Isabel's change of countenance, as she put her
hand to the arm he held, hastily withdrew it, and exclaimed, 'My
bracelet! oh, my bracelet!' turning round to seek it on the pavement.

'The ivory clasp?' asked Louis, perceiving its absence.

'Oh yes!' she cried, in much distress, 'I would not have lost it for
all the world.'

'You may have left it at Miss Longman's.'

'No, no, I was never without it!'

She turned, and made a few retrograde steps, searching on the ground,
as if conscious only of her loss, shaking off his hand when he touched
her arm to detain her.

A discovery broke on, him.  Well that he could bear it!

'Hark!' he said, 'there is cannon firing!  Miss Conway, you cannot go
back.  I will do my utmost to recover your clasp, but we must not stay
here.'

'I had forgotten.  I beg your pardon, I did not think!' said Isabel,
with a species of rebuked submission, as if impressed by the calmness
that gave authority to his manner; and she made no remark as he made
her resume his arm, and hurried her on past houses with closed doors
and windows.

Suddenly there was the sound of a volley of musketry far behind.
'Heaven help the poor wretches,' said Louis; and Isabel's grasp
tightened on his arm.

Again, again--the dropping sound of shot became continual.  And now it
was in front as well as in the rear; and the booming of cannon
resounded from the heart of the city.  They were again on the outskirts
of a crowd.

'It is as I thought,' said Louis, 'we are between both.  There is
nothing for it but to push on, and see whether we can cross the
barricades; are you afraid to encounter it!'

'No,' said Isabel.

'There is a convent not far off, I think.  We might find shelter for
you there.  Yet they might break in.  It might not be easy to meet. I
believe you are safer with me.  Will you trust in me?'

'I will not have you endanger yourself for me.  Dispose of me as you
will--in a convent, or anywhere.  Your life is precious, your safety is
the first thing.'

'You are speaking in irony.'

'I did not mean it: I beg your pardon.'  But she coloured and faltered.
'You must distinctly understand that this is only as Englishman to
Englishwoman.'

'As Englishman to Englishwoman,' repeated Louis, in her own formula.
'Or rather,' he added, lowering his voice, 'trust me, for the sake of
those who gave the clasp.'

He was answered by her involuntary pressure of his arm, and finally, to
set her at ease, he said, hurriedly, 'If it went wrong with me, it
would be to Lima that I should ask you to send my love.'

There was no time for more.  They were again on the freshly-torn
ground, whence the pavement had been wrenched.  The throng had
thickened behind them, and seemed to be involving them in the vortex.
Above their heads Louis could see in front between the tall houses, the
summit of another barricade complete, surmounted with the red flag, and
guarded by a fierce party of ruffians.

All at once, tremendous yells broke out on all sides.  The rattle of a
drum, now and then, might be distinguished, shouts and shrieks
resounded, and there was a sharp fire of musketry from the barricade,
and from the adjoining windows; there was a general rush to the front,
and Louis could only guard Isabel by pressing her into the recess of
the closed doorway of one of the houses, and standing before her,
preventing himself from being swept away only by exerting all his
English strength against the lean, wild beings who struggled past him,
howling and screaming.  The defenders sprang upon the barricade, and
thrust back and hurled down the National Guards, whose heads were now
and then seen as they vainly endeavoured to gain the summit.  This
desperate struggle lasted for a few minutes, then cries of victory
broke out, and there was sharp firing on both sides, which, however,
soon ceased; the red flag and the blouses remaining still in
possession.  Isabel had stood perfectly silent and motionless through
the whole crisis, and though she clung to her protector's arm, it was
not with nervous disabling terror, even in the frightful tumult of the
multitude.  There was some other strength with her!

'You are not hurt?' said Louis, as the pressure relaxed.

'Oh no! thank God!  You are not?'

'Are you ready?  We must make a rush before the next assault.'

A lane opened in the throng to afford passage for the wounded. Isabel
shrank back, but Louis drew her on hastily, till they had attained the
very foot of the barricade, where a space was kept clear, and there was
a cry 'Au large, or we shall fire.'

'Let us pass, citizens,' said Louis, hastily rehearsing the French he
had been composing.  'You make not war on women.  Let me take this
young lady to her mother.'

Grim looks were levelled at them by the fierce black-bearded men, and
their mutterings of belle made her cling the closer to her guardian.

'Let her pass, the poor child!' said more than one voice.

'Hein!--they are English, who take the bread out of our mouths.'

'If you were a political economist,' said Louis, gravely, fixing his
eyes on the shrewd-looking, sallow speaker, I would prove to you your
mistake; but I have no time, and you are too good fellows to wish to
keep this lady here, a mark for the Garde Nationale.'

'He is right there,' said several of the council of chiefs, and a
poissarde, with brawny arms and a tall white cap, thrusting forward,
cried out, 'Let them go, the poor children.  What are they doing here?
They look fit to be set up in the church for waxen images!'

'Take care you do not break us,' exclaimed Louis, whose fair cheek had
won this tribute; and his smile, and the readiness of his reply, won
his admission to the first of the steps up the barricade.

'Halte la!' cried a large-limbed, formidable-looking ruffian on the
summit, pointing his musket towards them; 'none passes here who does
not bring a stone to raise our barricade for the rights of the Red
Republic, and cry, La liberte, l'egalite, et la, fraternite, let it fit
his perfidious tongue as it may.'

'There's my answer,' said Louis, raising his right arm, which was
dripping; with blood, 'you have made me mount the red flag!'

'Ha!' cried the friendly fishwife, 'Wounded in the cause of the nation!
Let him go.'

'He has not uttered the cry!' shouted the rest.

Louis looked round with his cool, pensive smile.

'Liberty!' he said, 'what _we_ mean by liberty is freedom to go where
we will, and say what we will.  I wish you had it, my poor fellows.
Fraternity--it is not shooting our brother.  Egalite--I preach that
too, but in my own fashion, not yours.  Let me pass--si cela vou est
egal.'

His nonchalant intrepidity--a quality never lost on the French--raised
an acclamation of le brave Anglais.  No one stirred a hand to hinder
their mounting to the banquette, and several hands were held out to
assist in surmounting the parapet of this extempore fortification.
Isabel bowed her thanks, and Louis spoke them with gestures of
courtesy; and shouts of high applause followed them as they sped along
the blood-stained street.

The troops were re-forming after the repulse, and the point was to pass
before the attack could be renewed, as well as not to be mistaken for
the insurgents.

They were at once challenged, but a short explanation to the officer
was sufficient, and they were suffered to turn into the Rue Richelieu,
where they were only pursued by the distant sounds of warfare.

'Oh, Lord Fitzjocelyn!' cried Isabel, as he slackened his pace, and
gasped for breath.

'You are sure you are not hurt?' he said.

'Oh no, no; but you--'

'It is very little,' he said--'a stray shot--only enough to work on
their feelings.  What good-natured rogues they were.  I will only twist
my handkerchief round to stop the blood.  Thank you.'

Isabel tried to help him, but she was too much afraid of hurting him to
draw the bandage tight.

They dashed on, finding people on the watch for tidings, and meeting
bodies of the National Guard, and when at length they reached the Place
Vendome, they found the whole establishment watching for them, and
Virginia flew to meet them on the stairs, throwing her arms round her
sister, while Lady Conway started forward with the agitated joy, and
almost anger, of one who felt injured by the fright they had made her
suffer.

'There you are!  What has kept you!  Delaford said they were
slaughtering every one on the Boulevards!'

'I warned you of the consequences of taking me,' said Louis, dropping
into a chair.

'Mamma! he is all over blood!' screamed Virginia.

Lady Conway recoiled, with a slight shriek.

'It is a trifle,' said Louis;' Isabel is safe.  There is all cause for
thankfulness.  We could never have got through if she had not been
every inch a heroine.'

'Oh, Lord Fitzjocelyn, if I could thank you!'

'Don't,' said Louis, with so exactly his peculiar droll look and smile,
that all were reassured.

Isabel began to recount their adventure.

'In the midst of those horrid wretches! and the firing!' cried Lady
Conway.  'My dear, how could you bear it?  I should have died of
fright!'

'There was no time for fear,' said Isabel, with a sort of scorn; 'I
should have been ashamed to be frightened when Lord Fitzjocelyn took it
so quietly.  I was only afraid lest you should repeat their horrid
war-cry.  I honour your refusal.'


'Of course one would not in their sense, poor things, and on
compulsion,' said Louis, his words coming the slower from the
exhaustion which made him philosophize, rather than exert himself. 'In
a true sense, it is the war-cry of our life.'

'How can you talk so!' cried Lady Conway.  'Delaford says the ruffians
are certain to overpower the Guard.  We must go directly. Very likely
this delay of yours may prevent us from getting off at all.'

'I will find out whether the way be open,' said Louis, 'when I have-'

His words failed him, for as he rose, the handkerchief slipped off, a
gush of blood came with it, and he was so faint that he could hardly
reach the sofa.

Lady Conway screamed, Virginia rang the bells, Isabel gave orders that
a surgeon should be called.

'Spirits from the vasty deep,' muttered Louis, in the midst of his
faintness, 'the surgeons have graver work on hand.'

'For heaven's sake, don't talk so!' cried his aunt, without daring to
look at him; 'I know your arm is broken!'

'Broken bones are a very different matter, experto crede.  This will be
all right when I can stop the bleeding,' and steadying himself with
difficulty, he reached the door, and slowly repaired to his own room,
while the girls sent Fanshawe and Delaford to his assistance.

Lady Conway, unable to bear the sight of blood, was in a state of
nervous sobbing, which Virginia's excited restlessness did not tend to
compose; and Isabel walked up and down the room, wishing that she could
do anything, looking reproachfully at her mother, and exalting to the
skies the courage, presence of mind, and fortitude of the wounded
knight.

Presently, Delaford came down with a message from Lord Fitzjocelyn that
it was of no use to wait for him, for as the butler expressed it, 'the
haemorrhage was pertinacious,' and he begged that the ladies would
depart without regard to him.  'In fact,' said Delaford, 'it was a
serious crisis, and there was no time to be lost; an English gentleman,
Captain Lonsdale, who had already offered his services, would take care
of his lordship, and my Lady had better secure herself and the young
ladies.'

'Leave Fitzjocelyn!' cried Virginia.

'Is it very dangerous, Delaford?' asked Lady Conway.

'I would not be responsible for the consequences of remaining, my
Lady,' was the answer.  'Shall I order the horses to be brought out?'

'I don't know.  Is the street full of people?  Oh! there is firing!
What shall I do?  Isabel, what do you say!'

Isabel was sitting still and upright; she hardly raised her eyelids, as
she tranquilly said, 'Nothing shall induce me to go till he is better.'

'Isabel! this is most extraordinary!  Do you know what you are saying?'

Isabel did not weaken her words by repetition, but signed to Delaford
to leave them, and he never ventured to disregard Miss Conway. Virginia
hung about her, and declared that she was quite right; and Lady Conway,
in restless despair, predicted that they would all be massacred, and
that her nephew would bleed to death, and appealed to every one on the
iniquity of all the doctors in Paris for not coming near him.

Poor Louis himself was finding it very forlorn to be left to Fanshawe,
whose one idea was essences, and Delaford, who suggested nothing but
brandy.  Some aunts and cousins he had, who would not have left him to
their tender mercies.  He was growing confused and feeble, speculating
upon arteries, and then starting from a delusion of Mary's voice to
realize his condition, and try to waken his benumbed faculties.

At last, a decided step was heard, and he saw standing by him a
vigorous, practical-looking Englishman, and a black-eyed, white-hooded
little Soeur de Charite.  Captain Lonsdale, on hearing the calls for
surgical aid, had without a word, hurried out and secured the brisk
little Sister, who, with much gesticulation, took possession of the
arm, and pronounced it a mere trifle, which would have been nothing but
for the loss of blood, the ball having simply passed through the fleshy
part of the arm, avoiding the bone.  Louis, pleased with this encounter
as a result of the adventure, was soon in condition to rise, though
with white cheeks and tottering step, and to present to Lady Conway her
new defender.

The sight of a bold, lively English soldier was a grand consolation,
even though he entirely destroyed all plans of escape by assuring her
that there was a tremendous disturbance in the direction of the
Northern Railway, and that the only safe place for ladies was just
where she was.  He made various expeditions to procure intelligence,
and his tidings were cheerful enough to counteract the horrible stories
that Delaford was constantly bringing in, throughout that Saturday, the
dreadful 24th of June, 1848.

It was late before any one ventured to go to bed; and Louis, weak and
weary, had wakened many times from dreamy perceptions that some
wonderful discovery had been made, always fixing it upon Mary, and then
finding himself infinitely relieved by recollecting that it did not
regard her.  He was in the full discomfort of the earlier stage of this
oft-repeated vision, when his door was pushed open, and Delaford's
trembling voice exclaimed, 'My Lord, I beg your pardon, the massacre is
beginning.'

'Let me know when it is over,' said Louis, nearly in his sleep.

Delaford reiterated that the city was bombarded, thousands of armed men
were marching on the hotel, and my Lady ought to be informed.  A
distant cannonade, the trampling of many feet, and terrified voices on
the stairs, finally roused Louis, and hastily rising, he quitted his
room, and found all the ladies on the alert.  Lady Conway was holding
back Virginia from the window, and by turns summoning Isabel to leave
it, and volubly entreating the master of the hotel to secure it with
feather-beds to defend them from the shot.

'Oh, Fitzjocelyn!' she screamed, 'tell him so--tell him to take us to
the cellars.  Why will he not put the mattresses against the windows
before they fire?'

'I should prefer a different relative position for ourselves and the
beds,' said Louis, in his leisurely manner, as he advanced to look out.
'These are the friends of order, my dear aunt; you should welcome your
protectors.  Their beards and their bayonets by gaslight are a grand
military spectacle.'

'They will fire!  There will be fighting here!  They will force their
way in.  Don't, Virginia--I desire you will not go near the window.'

'We are all right.  You are as safe as if you were in your own
drawing-room,' said Captain Lonsdale, walking in, and with his loud
voice drowning the panic, that Louis's cool, gentle tones only
irritated.

Isabel looked up and smiled, as Louis stood by her, leaving his aunt
and Virginia to the martial tones of their consoler.

'I could get no one to believe me when I said it was only the
soldiers,' she observed, with some secret amusement.

'The feather-bed fortress was the leading idea,' said Louis. 'Some
ladies have a curious pseudo presence of mind.'

'Generally, I believe,' said Isabel, 'a woman's presence of mind should
be to do as she is told, and not to think for herself, unless she be
obliged.'

'Thinking for themselves has been fatal to a good many,' said Louis,
relapsing into meditation--'this poor Paris among the rest, I fancy.
What a dawn for a Sunday morning!  How cold the lights look, and how
yellow the gas burns.  We may think of home, and be thankful!' and
kneeling with one knee on a chair, he leant against the shutter, gazing
out and musing aloud.

'Thankful, indeed!' said Isabel, thoughtfully.

'Yes--first it was thinking not at all, and then thinking not in the
right way.'

Isabel readily fell into the same strain.  'They turned from daylight
and followed the glare of their own gas,' said she.

So they began a backward tracing of the calamities of France; and, as
Louis's words came with more than usual slowness and deliberation, they
had only come to Cardinal de Richelieu, when Captain Lonsdale
exclaimed, 'I am sorry to interrupt you, Lord Fitzjocelyn, but may I
ask whether you can afford to lose any more blood?'

'Thank you; yes, the bandage is loosened, but I was too comfortable to
move,' said Louis, sleepily, and he reeled as he made the attempt, so
that he could not have reached his room without support.

The Captain had profited sufficiently by the Sister's example to be
able to staunch the blood, but not till the effusion had exhausted
Louis so much that all the next day it mattered little to him that the
city was in a state of siege, and no one allowed to go out or come in.
Even a constant traveller like Captain Lonsdale, fertile in resource,
and undaunted in search of all that was to be seen, was obliged to
submit, the more willingly that Fitzjocelyn needed his care, and the
ladies' terror was only kept at bay by his protection. He sat beside
the bed where lay Louis in a torpid state, greatly disinclined to be
roused to attend when his aunt would hasten into the room, full of some
horrible rumour brought in by Delaford, and almost petulant because he
would not be alarmed.  All he asked of the Tricolor or of the Drapeau
Rouge for the present was to let him alone, and he would drop into a
doze again, while the Captain was still arguing away her terror.

More was true than he would allow her to credit and when the little
Soeur de Charite found a few minutes for visiting her patient's wound,
her bright face was pale with horror and her eyes red with weeping.

'Our good Archbishop!' she sobbed, when she allowed herself to speak,
and to give way to a burst of tears.  'Ah, the martyr!  Ah, the good
pastor!  The miserable--But no--my poor people, they knew not what they
did!'

And as Louis, completely awakened, questioned her, she told how the
good Archbishop Affre had begun that Sunday of strife and bloodshed by
offering his intercessions at the altar for the unhappy people, and
then offering his own life.  'The good shepherd giveth his life for the
sheep,' were his words, as he went forth to stand between the hostile
parties, and endeavour to check their fury against one another.  She
herself had seen him, followed by a few priests, and preceded by a
brave and faithful ouvrier, who insisted on carrying before him a green
branch, as an emblem of his peaceful mission.  She described how, at
the sight of his violet robes, and the white cross on his breast, the
brave boy gardes mobiles came crowding round him, all black with
powder, begging for his blessing, some reminding him that he had
confirmed them, while others cried, 'Your blessing on our muskets, and
we shall be invincible,' while some of the women asked him to carry the
bandages and lint which they wished to send to the wounded.

On he went, comforting the wounded, absolving the dying, and exhorting
the living, and at more than one scene of conflict the combatants
paused, and yielded to his persuasions; but at the barricade at the
Faubourg St. Antoine, while he was signing to the mob to give him a
moment to speak, a ball struck him, and followed by the weeping and
horror-struck insurgents, he was borne into the curate's house,
severely wounded, while the populace laid down their weapons, to sign a
declaration that they knew not who had fired the fatal shot.

'No, no, it was none of our people!' repeated the little nun.  'Not one
of them, poor lost creatures as too many are, would have committed the
act--so sacrilegious, so ungrateful!  Ah! you must not believe them
wicked.  It is misery that drove them to rise.  Hold!  I met a young
man--alas! I knew him well when he was a child--I said to him, 'Ah! my
son, you are on the bad train.'  'Bread, mother--it is bread we must
have,' he answered.  'Why, would you speak to one who has not eaten for
twenty-four hours?'  I told him he knew the way to our kitchen.  'No,
mother,' he said, 'I shall not eat; I shall get myself killed.''

Many a lamentable detail of this description did she narrate, as she
busied herself with the wound; and Louis listened, as he had listened
to nothing else that day, and nearly emptied his travelling purse for
the sufferers.  Isabel and Virginia waylaid her on the stairs to admire
and ask questions, but she firmly, though politely, put them aside,
unable to waste any time away from her children--her poor wounded!

On Monday forenoon tranquillity was restored, the rabble had been
crushed, and the organized force was triumphant.  Still the state of
siege continued, and no one was allowed free egress or ingress, but the
Captain pronounced this all nonsense, and resolutely set out for a
walk, taking the passports with him, and promising Lady Conway to
arrange for her departure.

By-and-by he came in, subdued and affected by the procession which he
had encountered--the dying Archbishop borne home to his palace on a
litter, carried by workmen and soldiers, while the troops, who lined
the streets, paid him their military salutes, and the people crowded to
their doors and windows--one voice of weeping and mourning running
along Paris--as the good prelate lay before their eyes, pale,
suffering, peaceful, and ever and anon lifting his feeble hand for a
last blessing to the flock for whom he had devoted himself.

The Captain was so much impressed that, as he said, he could not get
over it, and stayed for some time talking over the scene with the young
ladies, before starting up, as if wondering at his own emotion, he
declared that he must go and see what they would do next.

Presently afterwards, Fitzjocelyn came down stairs.  His aunt was
judiciously lying down in her own apartment to recruit her nerves after
her agitation, and had called Virginia to read to her, and Isabel was
writing her journal, alone, in the sitting-room.  Lady Conway would
have been gratified at her eager reception of him, but, as he seemed
very languid, and indisposed for conversation, she continued her
occupation, while he rested in an arm-chair.

Presently he said, 'Is it possible that you could have left that
bracelet at Miss Longman's?'

'Pray do not think about it,' exclaimed Isabel; 'I am ashamed of my
childishness!  Perhaps, but for that delay, you would not have been
hurt,' and her eyes filled with tears, as her fingers encircled the
place where the bracelet should have been.

'Perhaps, but for that delay, we might both have been shot,' said
Louis.  'No, indeed; I could not wonder at your prizing it so much.'

'I little thought that would be the end of it,' said Isabel.  'I am
glad you know its history, so that I may have some excuse;' and she
tried to smile, but she blushed deeply as she dried her eyes.

'Excuse? more than excuse!' said Louis, remembering his fears that it
would be thrown away upon her.  'I know--'

'He has told you!' cried Isabel, starting with bashful eagerness.

'He has told me what I understand now,' said Louis, coming near in a
glow of grateful delight.  'Oh, I am so glad you appreciate him. Thank
you.'

'You are inferring too much,' said Isabel, turning away in confusion.

'Don't you mean it!' exclaimed Louis.  'I thought--'

'We must not mistake each other,' said Isabel, recovering her
self-possession.  'Nothing amounting to what you mean ever passed,
except a few words the last evening, and I may have dwelt on them more
than I ought,' faltered she, with averted head.

'Not more than he has done, I feel certain,' said Louis; 'I see it all!
Dear old Jem!  There's no such fellow in existence.'  But here
perceiving that he was going too far, he added, almost timidly, 'I beg
your pardon.'

'You have no occasion,' she said, smiling in the midst of her blushes.
'I feared I had said what I ought not.  I little expected such kind
sympathy.'

She hastily left him, and Lady Conway soon after found him so full of
bright, half-veiled satisfaction, that she held herself in readiness
for a confession from one or both every minute, and, now that the panic
was over, gave great credit to the Red Republicans for having served
her so effectually, and forgave the young people for having been so
provoking in their coolness in the time of danger, since it proved how
well they were suited to each other.  She greatly enjoyed the
universally-implied conviction with regard to the handsome young pair.
Nor did they struggle against it; neither of them made any secret of
their admiration for the conduct of the other, and the scrupulous
appellations of Miss Conway and Lord Fitzjocelyn were discarded for
more cousinly titles.

The young hero fell somewhat in his aunt's favour when he was missing
at the traveller's early breakfast, although Delaford reported him much
better and gone out.  'What if he should be late for the train?--what
if he should be taken up by the police?'  Virginia scolded her sister
for not being equally restless, and had almost hunted the Captain into
going in search of him; when at last, ten minutes before the moment of
departure, in he came, white, lame, and breathless, but his eyes
dancing with glee, and his lips archly grave, as he dropped something
into Isabel's lap.

'Her bracelet!' exclaimed Virginia, as Isabel looked up with swimming
eyes, unable to speak.  'Where did you find it?'

'In the carriage, in the heart of the barricade at the Porte St. Denis.'

'It is too much!' cried Isabel, recovering her utterance, and rising
with her hands locked together in her emotion.  'You make me repent my
having lamented for it!'

'I had an old respect for Clara's clasp.'

'I never saw a prettier attention,' said his aunt.

'It is only a pity that you cannot fasten it on for her.'

'That could only be done by the right hand,' muttered Louia, under his
breath, enjoying her blush.

'You have not told us how you got it!' said Virginia.

'It struck me that there was a chance, and I had promised to lose none.
I found the soldiers in the act of pulling down the barricade. What an
astonishing construction it is!  I spoke to the officer, who was very
civil, and caused me to depose that I had hired the carriage, and
belonged to the young lady.  I believe my sling had a great effect; for
they set up a shout of acclamation when the bracelet appeared, lying on
the cushion as quietly as if it were in its own drawer.'

'The value will be greater than ever _now_, Isabel,' said Lady Conway.
'You will never lose it again!'

Isabel did not gainsay her.

The Captain shrugged his shoulders, and looked sagacious at his
patient's preparation for the journey before him.

Louis gravely looked into his face as he took leave of him, and said,
'You are wrong.'

The Captain raised his eyebrows incredulously.  As they left the city,
the bells of all the churches were tolling for the martyred Archbishop.
And not for him alone was there mourning and lamentation through the
city: death and agony were everywhere; in some of the streets, each
house was a hospital, and many a groan and cry of mortal pain was
uttered through that fair summer-day.  Louis, in a low voice, reminded
Isabel that, on this same day, the English primate was consecrating the
abbey newly restored for a missionary college; and his eyes glistened
as he dwelt with thanksgiving upon the contrast, and thought of the
'peace within our walls, and plenteousness within our palaces.'

He lay back in his corner of the carriage, too much tired to talk;
though, by-and-by, he began to smile over his own musings, or to make
some lazily ludicrous remark to amuse Virginia.   His aunt caressed her
wounded hero, and promoted his intercourse with Isabel, to his
exquisite amusement, in his passive, debonnaire condition, especially
as Isabel was perfectly insensible to all these manuoevres.

There she sat, gazing out of window, musing first on the meeting with
the live Sir Roland, secondly on the amends to be made in the 'Chapel
in the valley.'  The Cloten of the piece must not even be a Vidame
nothing distantly connected with a V; even though this prototype was
comporting himself much more like the nonchalant, fantastic Viscount,
than like her resolute, high-minded Knight at the Porte St. Denis.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE HERO OF THE BARRICADES.

  The page slew the boar,
  The peer had the gloire.
               Quentin Durward.


Great uneasiness was excited at Dynevor Terrace by the tidings of the
insurrection at Paris.  After extracting all possible alarm from her
third-hand newspaper, Mrs. Frost put on her bonnet to set off on a
quest for a sight of the last day's Times.  James had offered to go,
but she was too restless to remain at home; and when he had
demonstrated that the rumour must be exaggerated, and that there was no
need for alarm, he let her depart, and as soon as she was out of sight,
caught up the paper to recur to the terrible reports of the first day's
warfare.  He paced about the little parlour, reviling himself for not
having joined the party, to infuse a little common sense; Fitzjocelyn,
no more fit to take care of himself than a baby, probably running into
the fray from mere rash indifference!  Isabel exposed to every peril
and terror!  Why had he refused to join them? The answer was maddening.
He hated himself, as he found his love for his cousin melting under the
influence of jealousy, and of indignation that his own vehement passion
must be sacrificed to the tardy, uncertain love which seemed almost an
insult to such charms.

'What needs dwelling on it?' he muttered; 'doubtless they are engaged
by this time!  I shall surely do something desperate if they come here,
under my very eye.  Would that I could go to the Antipodes, ere I
forfeit Louis's love!  But my grandmother, Clara!  Was ever man so
miserably circumstanced?'

A hand was on the door; and he strove to compose his face lest he
should shock his grandmother.

It was not Mrs. Frost.

'Louis! for Heaven's sake, where are they!'

'In the House Beautiful.'

James breathed--'And you! what makes you so pale?  What have you done
to your arm?

'A little affair of the barricades.  I have been watering the French
Republic with my blood.'

'Rushing into the thickest of the row, of course.'

'Only escorting Miss Conway through an assault of the Garde Nationale
said Louis, in a tone as if he had been saying 'walking up the High
Street.'  How could he help teasing, when he could make such amends?

James began to pace up and down again, muttering something about
madness and frenzy.

'It was not voluntary,' said Louis.  'When the carriage was confiscated
for the service of the nation, what could we do?--I can tell you, Jem,'
he added, fervently, 'what a gallant being she is! It was the glorious
perfection of gentle, lofty feminine courage, walking through the
raging multitude--through shots, through dreadful sights, like Una
through the forest, in Christian maidenly fearlessness.'

James had flung himself into a chair, hiding his face, and steadying
his whole person, by resting his elbow on his knee and his brow on his
hand, as he put a strong force on himself that he might hear Louis out
without betraying himself.  Louis paused in ardent contemplation of the
image he had called up, and poor James gruffly whispered, 'Go on: you
were happy.'

'Very happy, in knowing what cause I have to rejoice for you.'

James gave a great start, and trembled visibly.

'I did not tell you,' pursued Louis, 'that the single moment when she
lost her firmness, was when she thought she had lost a certain ivory
clasp.'

James could endure no more: 'Louis,' he said, 'you must try me no
longer.  What do you mean?'

Louis affectionately put his hand on his shoulder: 'I mean, dear Jem,
that I understand it now; and it is a noble heart that you have won,
and that can value you as you deserve.'

James wrung his hand, and looked bewildered, inquiring, and happy; but
his quivering lips could form no words.

'It was a time to reveal the depths of the heart,' said Louis.  'A few
words and the loss of the bracelet betrayed much: and afterwards, as
far as a lady could, she confessed that something which passed between
you the last evening--'

'Louis!' cried James, 'I could not help it!  I had been striving
against it all along; but if you could imagine how I was tried!  You
never would come to plead your own cause, and I thought to work for
you, but my words are too near the surface.  I cut myself short.  I
have bitterly reproached myself ever since, but I did not know the harm
I had done you.  Can you forgive me?  Can you--No, it is vain to ask;
you never can be happy.'

'My dear Jem, you go on at such a pace, there is no answering you.
There is no forgiveness in the case.  Further acquaintance had already
convinced me that she was lovely and perfect, but that 'she is na mine
ain lassie.'  Yes, she caught my imagination; and you and my father
would have it that I was in love, and I supposed you knew best: but
when I was let alone to a rational consideration, I found that to me
she is rather the embodied Isabel of romance, a beauteous vision, than
the--the--in short, that there is another who has all that I am wanting
in.  No, no, dear Jem; it was you who made the generous sacrifice.
Have no scruples about me; I am content with the part of Una's Lion,
only thankful that Sans-Loy and Sans-Foy had not quite demolished him
before he had seen her restored to the Red Cross Knight.'

It was too much for James; he hid his face in his hands, and burst into
tears.  Such joy dawning on him, without having either offended or
injured his cousin, produced a revulsion of feeling which he could not
control, and hearing the street-door opened, he ran out of the room,
just before his grandmother came hurrying in, on the wings of the
intelligence heard below.

'Yes!  I knew my own boy would come to me!' she cried.  'Even Miss
Conway has not begun to keep him from me yet.'

'Nor ever will, Aunt Kitty.  There are obstacles in the way.  You must
be granny, and mother, and sister and wife, and all my womankind, a
little longer, if you please.'  And he sat down fondly at her feet, on
a footstool which had been his childish perch.

'Not distressed, you insensible boy?'

'Very happy about Isabel,' said he, turning to look at her with eyes
dancing with merry mystification.

'A foolish girl not to like my Louis!  I thought better of her; but I
suppose my Lady has taught her to aim higher!'

'So she does,' said Louis, earnestly.

'Ungrateful girl!  Why, Charlotte tells me you led her straight over
the barricades, with cannon firing on you all the time!'

'But not Cupid.'

'Then, it is true! and you have really hurt yourself!  And so pale! My
poor boy--what is it?  I must nurse you.'

'I had so little blood left, that a gnat of tolerable appetite could
have made an end of me on Sunday, without more ado.  But, instead of
that, I had a good little Sister of Charity; and wasn't that alone
worth getting a bullet through one's arm?'

Aunt Catharine was shuddering thankfully through the narration, when
James came down, his brow unclouded, but his manner still agitated, as
if a burthen had been taken away, and he hardly knew how to realize his
freedom from the weight.

Mrs. Frost could not part with her boy, and Jane Beckett evidently had
a spite against 'they French bandages;' so that Louis only talked of
going home enough to get himself flattered and coaxed into remaining at
No. 5, as their patient.

The two young men went in the afternoon to inquire after the Conway
party, when they found that her ladyship was lying down, but Isabel,
who had been summoned from a wholesale conflagration of all the MS.
relating to the fantastic Viscount, brought down Miss King, apparently
to converse for her; for she did little except blush, and seemed unable
to look at either of the friends.

As they took leave, Louisa came into the room with a message that mamma
hoped to see Mr. Frost Dynevor to-morrow, and trusted that he had made
no engagements for the holidays.

James murmured something inaudible, and ran down stairs, snarling at
Louis as he turned to the Miss Faithfulls' door, and telling him he
wanted to obtain a little more petting and commiseration.

'I could not waste such an opportunity of looking interesting!' said
Louis, laughing, as he tapped at the door.

Delaford marshalled out the poor tutor with a sense of triumph.  'His
hopes, at least, were destroyed!' thought the butler; and he proceeded
to regale Marianne with the romance of the Barricades,--how he had
himself offered to be Miss Conway's escort, but Lord Fitzjocelyn had
declared that not a living soul but himself should be the young lady's
champion; and, seeing the young nobleman so bent on it, Mr. Delaford
knew that the force of true affection was not to be stayed, no more
than the current of the limpid stream, and had yielded the point; and,
though, perhaps, his experience might have spared her the contaminating
propinquity of the low rabble, yet, considering the circumstances, he
did not regret his absence, since he was required for my lady's
protection, and, no doubt, two fond hearts had been made happy.  Then,
in the midnight alarm, when the young nobleman had been disabled,
Delaford had been the grand champion:--he had roused the establishment;
he had calmed every one's fears; he had suggested arming all the
waiters, and fortifying the windows; he had been the only undaunted
representative of the British Lion, when the environs swarmed with
deadly foes, with pikes and muskets flashing in the darkness.

Fanshawe had been much too busy with her ladyship's nerves, and too
ignorant of French, to gather enough for his refutation, had she wished
for it; and, in fact, she had regarded him as the only safeguard of the
party, devoutly believing all his reports, and now she was equally
willing to magnify her own adventures.  What a hero Delaford was all
over the terrace and its vicinity!  People looked out to see the
defender of the British name; and Charlotte Arnold mended stockings,
and wondered whether her cruelty had made him so desperately courageous.

She could almost have been sorry that the various arrivals kept the
domestic establishments of both houses so fully occupied!  Poor Tom!
she had been a long time without hearing of him! and a hero was turning
up on her hands!

The world was not tranquil above-stairs.  The removal of the one great
obstacle to James's attachment had only made a thousand others visible;
and he relapsed into ill-suppressed irritability, to the disappointment
of Louis, who did not perceive the cause.  At night, however, when Mrs.
Frost had gone up, after receiving a promise, meant sincerely, however
it might be kept, that 'poor Louis' should not be kept up late, James
began with a groan:

'Now that you are here to attend to my grandmother, I am going to
answer this advertisement for a curate near the Land's End.'

'Heyday!'

'It is beyond human endurance to see her daily and not to speak! I
should run wild!  It would be using Lady Conway shamefully.'

'And some one else.  What should hinder you from speaking?'

'You talk as if every one was heir to a peerage.'

'I know what I am saying.  I do not see the way to your marriage just
yet, but it would be mere trifling with her feelings, after what has
passed already, not to give her the option of engaging herself.'

'I'm sure I don't know what I said!  I was out of myself.  I was
ashamed to remember that I had betrayed myself, and dared not guess
what construction she put on it.'

'Such a construction as could only come from her own heart!'

After some raptures, James added, attempting to be cool, 'You candidly
think I have gone so far, that I am bound in honour to make
explanation.'

'I am sure it would make her very unhappy if you went off in
magnanimous silence to the Land's End; and remaining as the boy's
tutor, without confession, would be a mere delusion and treachery
towards my aunt.'

'That woman!'

'She is not her mother.'

'Who knows how far she will think herself bound to obedience?  With
that sort of relationship, nobody knows what to be at.'

'I don't think Isabel wishes to make her duty to Lady Conway more
stringent than necessary.  They live in utterly different spheres; and,
at least, you can be no worse off than you are already.'

'I may be exposing her to annoyance.  Women have ten million ways of
persecuting each other.'

'Had you seen Isabel's eye when she looked on the wild crowd, you would
know how little she would heed worse persecution than my poor aunt
could practise.  It will soon be my turn to say you don't deserve her.'

James was arguing against his own impulse, and his scruples only
desired to be talked down; Louis's generous and inconsiderate ardour
prevailed, and, after interminable discussion, it was agreed that,
after some communication with the young lady herself, an interview
should be sought with Lady Conway, for which James was already
bristling, prepared to resent scorn with scorn.

In the morning, he was savage with shamefacedness, could not endure any
spectator, and fairly hunted his cousin home to Ormersfield, where
Louis prowled about in suspense--gave contradictory orders to Frampton,
talked as if he was asleep, made Frampton conclude that he had left his
heart behind him, and was ever roaming towards the Northwold turnpike.

At about four o'clock, a black figure was seen posting along the centre
of the road, and, heated, panting, and glowing, James came up--made a
decided and vehement nod with his head, but did not speak till they had
turned into the park, when he threw himself flat on the grass under an
old thorn, and Louis followed his example, while Farmer Morris's
respectable cows stared at the invasion of their privacy.

'Tout va bien?' asked Louis.

'As well as a man in my position can expect!  She is the most noble of
created beings, Louis!'

'And what is her mother?'

'Don't call her mother!  You shall hear.  I could not stay at home! I
went to the Faithfulls' room: I found Miss Mercy waiting for her, to
join in a walk to some poor person.  I went with them.  I checked her
when she was going into the cottage.  We have been walking round
Brackley's fields--'

'And poor Miss Mercy?'

'Never remembered her till this moment!'

'She will forgive!  And her ladyship?'

'That's the worst of it.  She was nearly as bad as you could have
been!--so intensely civil and amiable, that I began to think her all on
my side.  I really could be taken in to suppose she felt for us!'

'I have no doubt she did.  My good aunt is very sincerely loth to hurt
people's feelings.'

'She talked of her duty!  She sympathized!  It was not till I was out
of the house that I saw it was all by way of letting me down
easy-trapping me into binding myself on honour not to correspond.'

'Not correspond!' cried Louis, in consternation.  'Are you not engaged?'

'As far as understanding each other goes.  But who knows what may be
her machinations, or Isabel's sense of obedience?'

'Does she forbid it?'

'No.  She went to speak to Isabel.  I fancy she found it unwise to test
her power too far; so she came down and palavered me,--assured me that
I was personally all that heart could wish--she loved her dear child
the better for valuing solid merit.  Faugh! how could I stand such
gammon?  But I must perceive that she was peculiarly circumstanced with
regard to Isabel's family, she must not seem to sanction an engagement
till I could offer a home suited to her expectations.  She said
something of my Uncle Oliver; but I disposed of that.  However, I dare
say it made her less willing to throw me overboard!  Anyway, she
smoothed me and nattered me, till I ended by agreeing that she has no
choice but to remove instanter from the Terrace, and forbid me her
abode!  And, as I said, she wormed a promise from me not to correspond.'

'You have no great loss there. Depend upon it that Isabel would neither
brave her openly by receiving your letters, nor submit to do anything
underhand.'

'Nor would I ask her!--but it is intolerable to have been tricked into
complacent consent.'

'I am glad your belle-mere knows how to manage you.'

'I told you she was only less unbearable than yourself.  You have it
from the same stock.'

'The better for your future peace.  I honour her.  If she had let the
Welsh dragon show his teeth in style, he would only have had to make
unpleasant apologies when the good time comes.'

'When!' sighed James.

'If Isabel be the woman I take her for, she will be easily content.'

'She is sick of parade; she has tried how little it can do for a mind
like hers: she desires nothing but a home like our own--but what
prospect have I of any such thing?  Even if the loss of my fellowship
were compensated, how could I marry and let Clara be a governess? Clara
must be my first consideration.  But, I say, we ought to be going home.'

'I thought I was at home.'

'My grandmother and Jane won't be pacified till they see you.  They
think you are not fit to be in a house by yourself.  They both fell on
me for having let you go.  You must come back, or my grandmother will
think you gone off in despair, as you ought to be, and I shall never
dare to speak to her.'

'At your service,' said the duteous Fitzjocelyn.  'I'll leave word at
the lodge.'

'By-the-bye, are you up to walking?'

'Candidly, now I think of it, I doubt whether I am.  Come, and let us
order the carriage.'

'No--no;--I can't stand waiting--I'll go home and get over the first
with granny--you come after.  Yes; that's right.'

So the hunted Louis waited, contentedly, while James marched back,
chary of his precious secret, and unwilling to reveal it even to her,
and yet wanting her sympathy.

The disclosure was a greater shock than he had expected from her keen
and playful interest in matters of love and matrimony.  It was a
revival of the mournful past, and she shed tears as she besought him
not to be imprudent, to remember his poor father, and not rush into a
hasty marriage.  He and his sister had been used to poverty, but it was
different with Miss Conway.

He bitterly replied, that Lady Conway would take care they were not
imprudent; and that instant the granny's heart melted at the thought of
his uncertain prospect, and at hearing of the struggles and sufferings
that he had undergone.  They had not talked half an hour, before she
had taken home Isabel Conway to her heart as a daughter, and flown in
the face of all her wisdom, but assuring him that she well knew that
riches had little to do with happiness, auguring an excellent living,
and, with great sagacity, promising to settle the Terrace on his wife,
and repeating, in perfect good faith, all the wonderful probabilities
which her husband had seen in it forty years ago.

When Louis arrived, he found her alone, and divided between pride in
her grandson's conquest, and some anxiety on his own account, which
took the form of asking him what he meant by saying that Isabel aimed
higher than himself.

'Did she not?' said Louis; and with a sort of compunction for a playful
allusion to the sacred calling, he turned it off with, 'Why, what do
you think of Roland ap Dynasvawr ap Roland ap Gruffydd ap Rhys ap
Morgan ap Llywellwyn ap Roderic ap Caradoc ap Arthur ap Uther ap
Pendragon?' running this off with calm, slow, impressive deliberation.

'Certify me, Louis dear, before I can quite rejoice, that this fun is
not put on.'

'Did you think me an arrant dissembler?  No, indeed: before I guessed
how it was with them, I had found out--Oh! Aunt Kitty, shall I ever get
Mary to believe in me, after the ridiculous way in which I have behaved
to her?'

'Is this what you really mean?'

'Indeed it is.  The very presence of Isabel could not keep me from
recurring to her; and at home, not a room, not a scene, but is replete
with recollections of all that she was to me last year!  And that I
should only understand it when half the world is between us! How mad I
was!  How shall I ever persuade her to forget my past folly?  Past!
Nay, folly and inconsistency are blended in all I do, and now they have
lost me the only person who could help me to conquer them!  And now she
is beyond my reach, and I shall never be worthy of her.'

He was much agitated.  The sight of James's success, and the return to
his solitary home, had stirred up his feelings very strongly; and he
needed his aunt's fond soothing and sympathy--but it was not difficult
to comfort and cheer him.  His disposition was formed more for
affection than passion, and his attachment to Mary was of a calmer
nature than his fiery cousin would have allowed to be love. It took a
good deal of working-up to make it outwardly affect his spirits or
demeanour, in general, it served only as an ingredient in the
pensiveness that pervaded all his moods, even his most arrant nonsense.

The building of castles for James, and the narration of the pleasing
delusion in which he had brought home his aunt, were sufficient to
enliven him.  He was to go the next morning to call upon Lady Conway,
and see whether he could persuade her into any concessions: James was
very anxious that Isabel and his grandmother should meet, and was
beginning to propose that Louis should arrange an interview for them in
Miss Faithfull's room, before the departure, which was fixed for Monday.

'I intend to call upon Lady Conway,' said Mrs. Frost, with dignity that
made him feel as if he had been proposing something contraband.

Louis went first, and was highly entertained by the air of apology and
condolence with which his aunt received him.  She told him how
excessively concerned she was, and how guilty she felt towards him--a
score on which, he assured her, she had no need to reproach herself.
She had heard enough from Isabel to lead to so much admiration of his
generosity, that he was obliged to put a stop to it, without being
skilful enough to render sincerity amiable, but she seemed satisfied,
eagerly assured him of her approval, and declared that she fully
understood him.

Had she explained, he would have thought her understanding went too
far.  She entirely forgave him.  After all, he was her own sister's
son, and Isabel only a step-daughter; and though she had done her duty
by putting Isabel in the way of the connexion, she secretly commended
his prudence in withstanding beauty, and repairing the dilapidated
estate with Peruvian gold.  She sounded him, as a very wise man, on the
chances of Oliver Dynevor doing something for his nephew, but did not
receive much encouragement; though he prophesied that James was certain
to get on, and uttered a rhapsody that nearly destroyed his new
reputation for judgment.  Lady Conway gave him an affectionate
invitation to visit her whenever he could, and summoned the young
ladies to wish him good-bye.  The mute, blushing gratitude of Isabel's
look was beautiful beyond description; and Virginia's countenance was
exceedingly arch and keen, though she was supposed to know nothing of
the state of affairs.

Lady Conway was alone when Mrs. Frost was seen approaching the house.
The lady at once prepared to be affably gracious to her apologies and
deprecations of displeasure; but she was quite disconcerted by the
dignified manner of her entrance;--tall, noble-looking, in all the
simple majesty of age, and of a high though gentle spirit, Lady Conway
was surprised into absolute respect, and had to rally her ideas before,
with a slight laugh, she could say, 'I see you are come to condole with
me on the folly of our two young people.'

'I think too highly of them to call it folly,' said the heiress of the
Dynevors.

'Why, in one way, to be sure,' hesitated Lady Conway, 'we cannot call
it folly to be sensible of each other's merits; and if--if Mr. Dynevor
have any expectations--I think your son is unmarried?'

'He is;' but she added, smiling, 'you will not expect me to allow that
my youngest child is old enough to warrant any calculations on that
score.'

'It is very unfortunate; I pity them from my heart.  An engagement of
this kind is a wretched beginning for life.'

'Oh, do not say so!' cried the old lady, 'it may often be the greatest
blessing, the best incentive to both parties.'

Lady Conway was too much surprised to make a direct answer, but she
continued, 'If my brother could exert his interest--and I know that he
has so high an opinion of dear Mr. Dynevor--and you have so much
influence.  That dear, generous Fitzjocelyn, too--'

As soon as Mrs. Frost understood whom Lady Conway designated as her
brother, she drew herself up, and said, coldly, that Lord Ormersfield
had no church patronage, and no interest that he could exert on behalf
of her grandson.

Again, 'it was most unlucky;' and Lady Conway proceeded to say that she
was the more bound to act in opposition to her own feelings, because
Mr. Mansell was resolved against bequeathing Beauchastel to any of his
cousinhood who might marry a clergyman; disliking that the place should
fall to a man who ought not to reside.  It was a most unfortunate
scruple; but in order to avoid offending him, and losing any chance,
the engagement must remain a secret.

Mrs. Frost replied, that Mr. Mansell was perfectly right; and seemed in
nowise discomfited or conscious that there was any condescension on her
ladyship's part in winking at an attachment between Miss Conway and a
Dynevor of Cheveleigh.  She made neither complaint nor apology; there
was nothing for Lady Conway to be gracious about; and when the request
was made to see Miss Conway, her superiority was so fully established
that there was no demur, and the favour seemed to be on her side.

The noble old matron had long been a subject of almost timid veneration
to the maiden, and she obeyed the summons with more bashful awe than
she had ever felt before; and with much fear lest the two elders might
have been combining to make an appeal to her to give up her betrothal,
for James's sake.

As she entered, the old lady came to meet her, held out both arms, and
drew her into her bosom, with the fond words, 'My dear child!'

Isabel rested in her embrace, as if she had found her own mother again.

'My dear child,' again said Mrs. Frost, 'I am glad you like my Jem, for
he has always been a good boy to his granny.'

The homeliness of the words made them particularly endearing, and
Isabel ventured to put her arm round the slender waist.

'Yes, darling,' continued the grandmother; 'you will make him good and
happy, and you must teach him to be patient, for I am afraid you will
both want a great deal of patience and submission.'

'He will teach me,' whispered Isabel.

Lady Conway was fairly crying.

'I am glad to know that he has you to look to, when his old grandmother
is gone.'

'Oh, don't say--'

'I shall make way for you some day,' said Mrs. Frost, caressing her.
'You are leaving us, my dear.  It is quite right, and we will not
murmur; but would not your mamma spare you to us for one evening? Could
you not come and drink tea with us, that we may know each other a
little better?'

The stepmother's affectionate assent, and even emotion, were a great
surprise to Isabel; and James began to imagine that nothing was beyond
Mrs. Frost's power.

Louis saved James the trouble of driving him away by going to dine with
Mr. Calcott, and the evening was happy, even beyond anticipation; the
grandmother all affection, James all restless bliss, Isabel serene amid
her blushes; and yet the conversation would not thrive, till Mrs. Frost
took them out walking, and, when in the loneliest lane, conceived a
wish to inquire the price of poultry at the nearest farm, and sent the
others to walk on.  Long did she talk of the crops, discourse of the
French and Bohemian enormities, and smilingly contradict reports that
the young lord was to marry the young lady, before the lovers
reappeared, without the most distant idea where they had been.

After that, they could not leave off talking; they took granny into
their counsels, and she heard Isabel confess how the day-dream of her
life had been to live among the 'very good.'  She smiled with humble
self-conviction of falling far beneath the standard, as she discovered
that the enthusiastic girl had found all her aspirations for 'goodness'
realized by Dynevor Terrace; and regarding it as peace, joy, and
honour, to be linked with it.  The newly-found happiness, and the
effort to be worthy of it, were to bear her through all uncongenial
scenes; she had such a secret of joy that she should never repine again.

'Ah!  Isabel, and what am I to do?' said James.

'You ask?' she said, smiling.  'You, who have Northwold for your home,
and live in the atmosphere I only breathe now and then?'

'Your presence is my atmosphere of life.'

'Mrs. Frost, tell him he must not talk so wrongly, so extravagantly, I
mean.'

'It may be wrong; it is not extravagant.  It falls only too far short
of my feeling!  What will the Terrace be without you?'

'It will not be without my thoughts.  How often I shall think I see the
broad road, and the wide field, and the mountain-ash berries, that were
reddening when we came; and the canary in the window!  How little my
first glance at the houses took in what they would be to me!'

And then they had to settle the haunts she was to revisit at
Beauchastel.  An invitation thither was the ostensible cause of the
rapid break-up from the House Beautiful; but the truth was not so
veiled but that there were many surmises among the uninitiated.  Jane
had caught something from my young Lord's demeanour which certified
her, and made her so exceedingly proud and grand, that, though she was
too honourable to breathe a word of her discovery, she walked with her
kind old head three inches higher; and, as a great favour, showed
Charlotte a piece of poor dear Master Henry's bridecake, kept for luck,
and a little roll of treasured real Brussels lace, that she had saved
to adorn her cap whenever Mr. James should marry.

Charlotte was not absolutely as attentive as she might have been to
such interesting curiosities.  She had one eye towards the window all
the time; she wanted to be certified how deeply she had wounded the
hero of the barricade, and she had absolutely not seen him since his
return!  The little damsel missed homage!

'You are not heeding me!' exclaimed Jane at last.

'Yes; I beg your pardon, ma'am--'

'Charlotte, take care.  Mind me, one thing at a time,' said Jane,
oracularly.  'Not one eye here, the other there!'

'I'm sure I don't know what you mean, Mrs. Beckett.'

'Come, don't colour up, and say you don't know nothing!  Why did you
water your lemon plant three times over, but that you wanted to be
looking out of window?  Why did you never top nor tail the gooseberries
for the pudding, but sent them up fit to choke my poor missus?  If
Master Jem hadn't--Bless me! what was I going to say?--but we should
soon have heard of it!  No, no, Charlotte; I've been a mother to you
ever since you came here, a little starveling thing, and I'll speak
plain for your good.  If you fancy that genteel butler in there, say so
downright; but first sit down, and write away a letter to give up the
other young man!'

Charlotte's cheeks were in a flame, and something vehement at the end
of her tongue, when, with a gentle knock, and 'By your favour, ladies,'
in walked Mr. Delaford.

Jane was very civil, but very stiff at first, till he thawed her by
great praise of Lord Fitzjocelyn, the mere prelude to his own
magnificent exploits.

Charlotte listened like a very Desdemona.  He was very pathetic, and
all that was not self-exaltation was aimed at her.  Nothing could have
been more welcome than the bullets to penetrate his heart, and he
turned up his eyes in a feeling manner.

Charlotte's heart was exceedingly touched, and she had tears in her
eyes when she moved forward in the attitude of the porcelain
shepherdess in the parlour, to return a little volume of selections of
tender poetry, bound in crimson silk, that he had lent to her some time
since. 'Would she not honour him by accepting a trifling gift?'

She blushed, she accepted; and with needle-like pen, in characters fine
as hair, upon a scroll garlanded with forget-me-nots, and borne in mid
air by two portly doves, was Charlotte Arnold's name inscribed by the
hero of the barricades.

Oh, vanity! vanity! how many garbs dost thou wear!

Delaford went away, satisfied that he had produced an impression such
as he could improve if they should ever be thrown together again.

The Lady of Eschalott remained anything but satisfied.  She was touchy
and fretful, found everything a grievance, left cobwebs in the corners,
and finally went into hysterics because the cat jumped at the
canary-bird's cage.



CHAPTER XXII.

BURGOMASTERS AND GREAT ONE-EYERS.

  When full upon his ardent soul
  The champion feels the influence roll,
  He swims the lake, he leaps the wall,
  Heeds not the depth, nor plumbs the fall.
  Unshielded, mailless, on he goes,
  Singly against a host of foes!
                       Harold the Dauntless.


'Jem!  Jem! have you heard?'

'What should I hear?'

'Mr. Lester is going to retire at Christmas!'

'Does that account for your irrational excitement?'

'And it has not occurred to you that the grammar-school would be the
making of you!  Endowment, 150 pounds--thirty, forty boys at 10 pounds
per annum, 400 pounds at least.  That is 550 pounds--say 600 pounds for
certain; and it would be doubled under a scholar and a gentleman--1200
pounds a year!  And you might throw it open to boarders; set up the
houses in the Terrace, and let them at--say 40 pounds?  Nine houses,
nine times forty--'

'Well done, Fitzjocelyn!  At this rate one need not go out to Peru.'

'Exactly so; you would be doubling the value of your own property as a
secondary consideration, and doing incalculable good--'

'As if there were any more chance of my getting the school than of the
rest of it!'

'So you really had not thought of standing?'

'I would, most gladly, if there were the least hope of success.  I
can't afford to miss any chance; but it is mere folly to talk of it.
One-half of the trustees detest my principles; the others would think
themselves insulted by a young man in deacon's orders offering himself.'

'It is evident that you are the only man on whom they can combine who
can save the school, and do any good to all those boys--mind you, the
important middle class, whom I would do anything to train in sound
principles.'

'So far, it is in my favour that I am one of the few University men
educated here.'

'You are your grandmother's grandson--that is everything! and you have
more experience of teaching than most men twice your age.'

James made a face at his experience; but little stimulus was needed to
make him attempt to avail himself of so fair an opening, coming so much
sooner than he could have dared to expect.  It was now September, and
the two months of waiting and separation seemed already like so many
years.  By the time Mrs. Frost came in from her walk, she found the two
young gentlemen devising a circular, and composing applications for
testimonials.

After the first start of surprise, and telling James he ought to go to
school himself, Mrs. Frost was easily persuaded to enter heartily into
the project; but she insisted on the first measure being to consult Mr.
Calcott.  He was the head of the old sound and respectable party--the
chairman of everything, both in county and borough--and had the casting
vote among the eight trustees of King Edward's School, who, by old
custom, nominated each other from the landholders within the town.  She
strongly deprecated attempting anything without first ascertaining his
views; and, as the young men had lashed themselves into great ardour,
the three walked off at once to lay the proposal before the Squire.

But Mr. Calcott was not at home.  He had set off yesterday, with Miss
Calcott and Miss Caroline, for a tour in Wales, and would not return
for a week or ten days.

To the imaginations of Lord Fitzjocelyn and Mr. Frost, this was fatal
delay.  Besides, he would be sure to linger!--He would not come home
for a month--nay, six weeks at least!--What candidates might not
start--what pledges might not be given in the meantime!

James, vehement and disappointed, went home to spend the evening on the
concoction of what his grandmother approved as 'a very proper letter,'
to be despatched to meet the Squire at the post-office at Caernarvon,
and resigned himself to grumble away the period of his absence,
secretly relieved at the postponement of the evil day of the canvass,
at which all the Pendragon blood was in a state of revolt.

But Louis, in his solitude at Ormersfield, had nothing to distract his
thoughts, or prevent him from lapsing into one of his most single-eyed
fits of impetuosity.  He had come to regard James as the sole hope for
Northwold school, and Northwold school as the sole hope for James; and
had created an indefinite host of dangerous applicants, only to be
forestalled by the most vigorous measures. Evening, night, and morning,
did but increase the conviction, till he ordered his horse, and
galloped to the Terrace as though the speed of his charger would decide
the contest.

Eloquently and piteously did he protest against James's promise to take
no steps until the Squire's opinion should be known.  He convinced his
cousin, talked over his aunt, and prevailed to have the letter
re-written, and sent off to the post with the applications for
testimonials.

Then the rough draft of the circular was revised and corrected, till it
appeared so admirable to Louis, that he snatched it up, and ran away
with it to read it to old Mr. Walby, who was one of the trustees, and
very fond of his last year's patient.  His promise, good easy man, was
pretty sure to be the prize of the first applicant; but this did not
render it less valuable to his young lordship, who came back all
glorious with an eighth part of the victory, and highly delighted with
the excellent apothecary's most judicious and gratifying
sentiments,--namely, all his own eager rhetoric, to which the good man
had cordially given his meek puzzle-headed assent.  Thenceforth Mr.
Walby was to 'think' all Fitzjocelyn's strongest recommendations of his
cousin.

There was no use in holding back now.  James was committed, and,
besides, there was a vision looming in the distance of a scholar from a
foreign University with less than half a creed.  Thenceforth prompt
measures were a mere duty to the rising generation; and Louis dragged
his Coriolanus into the town, to call upon certain substantial
tradesmen, who had voices among the eight.

Civility was great; but the portly grocer and gentlemanly bookseller
had both learned prudence in many an election; neither would make any
immediate reply--the one because he never did anything but what Mr.
Calcott directed, and the other never pledged himself till all the
candidates were in the field, and he had impartially printed all their
addresses.

Richardson, the solicitor, and man-of-business to the Ormersfield
estate, appeared so sure a card, that James declared that he was
ashamed of the farce of calling on him, but they obtained no decided
reply.  Louis was proud that Richardson should display an independent
conscience, and disdained his cousin's sneering comment, that he had
forgotten that there were other clients in the county besides the
Fitzjocelyns.

No power could drag Mr. Frost a step further.  He would not hear of
canvassing that 'very intelligent' Mr. Ramsbotham, of the Factory, who
had been chosen at unawares by the trustees before his principles had
developed themselves; far less on his nominee, the wealthy butcher,
always more demonstratively of the same mind.

James declared, first, that he would have nothing to do with them;
secondly, that he could not answer it to the Earl to let Louis ask a
favour of them; thirdly, that he had rather fail than owe his election
to them; fourthly, that it would be most improper usage of Mr. Calcott
to curry favour with men who systematically opposed him; and, fifthly,
that they could only vote for him on a misunderstanding of his
intentions.

The eighth trustee was a dead letter,--an old gentleman long retired
from business at his bank to a cottage at the Lakes, where he was
written to, but without much hope of his taking the trouble even to
reply.  However, if the choice lay only between James and the
representative of the new lights, there could be little reasonable fear.

Much fretting and fuming was expended on the non-arrival of a letter
from Mr. Calcott; but on the appointed tenth day he came home, and the
next morning James was at Ormersfield in an agony of disappointment.
The Squire had sent him a note, kind in expression, regretting his
inability to give his interest to one for whom he had always so much
regard, and whose family he so highly respected, but that he had
already promised his support to a Mr. Powell, the under-master of a
large classical school, whom he thought calculated for the situation,
both by experience and acquirements.

James had been making sure enough of the school to growl at his
intended duties; but he had built so entirely on success, and formed so
many projects, that the disappointment was extreme; it appeared a cruel
injury in so old a friend to have overlooked him.  He had been much
vexed with his grandmother for regarding the veto as decisive; and he
viewed all his hopes of happiness with Isabel as overthrown.

Louis partook and exaggerated his sentiments.  They railed--the one
fiercely, the other philosophically--against the Squire's domineering;
they proved him narrow and prejudiced--afraid of youth, afraid of
salutary reform, bent on prolonging the dull old system, and on
bringing in a mere usher.  They recollected a mauvais sujet from the
said classical school; argued that it never turned out good scholars,
nor good men; and that they should be conferring the greatest benefit
on Northwold burghers yet unborn, by recalling the old Squire to a
better mind, or by bringing in James Frost in spite of him.

Not without hopes of the first, though, as James told him, no one would
have nourished them save himself, Louis set forth for Little Northwold,
with the same valour which had made him the champion of the Marksedge
poacher.  He found the old gentleman good-natured and sympathizing, for
he liked the warm friendship of 'the two boys,' and had not the most
remote idea of their disputing his verdict.

'It is very unlucky that I was from home,' he said.  'I am afraid the
disappointment will be the greater from its having gone so far.'

'May I ask whether you are absolutely pledged to Mr. Powell?'

'Why, yes.  I may say so.  Considering all things, it is best as it is.
I should have been unwilling to vex my good old friend, Mrs. Frost; and
yet,' smiling benignantly on his fretted auditor, 'I have to look out
for the school first of all, you know.'

'Perhaps I shall not allow that Mr. Powell is the best look-out for the
school, sir.'

'Eh?  The best under the circumstances.  Such a place as this wants
experience and discipline more than scholarship.  Powell is the very
man, and has been waiting for it long; and young Frost could do much
better for himself, if he will only have patience.'

'Then his age is all that is against him?  The only inferiority to Mr.
Powell?

'Hm! yes, I may say so.  Inferior?  No, he is superior enough; it is a
mere joke to compare them; but this is not a post for one of your young
unmarried men.'

'If that be all,' cried Louis, 'the objection would be soon removed. It
may be an inducement to hear that you would be making two people happy
instead of one.'

'Now, don't tell me so!' almost angrily exclaimed the Squire.  'Jem
Frost marry!  He has no business to think of it these ten years!  He
ought to be minding his grandmother and sister.  To marry on that
school would be serving poor Mrs. Frost exactly as his poor absurd
father did before him, and she is too old to have all that over again.
I thought he was of a different sort of stamp.'

'My aunt gives her full consent.'

'I've no doubt of it! just like her!  But he ought to be ashamed to ask
her, at her age, when she should have every comfort he could give her.
Pray, who is the lady?  There was some nonsense afloat about Miss
Conway; but I never believed him so foolish!'

'It is perfectly true, but I must beg you not to mention it; I ought
not to have been betrayed into mentioning it.'

'You need not caution me.  It is not news I should be forward to
spread.  What does your father say to it?'

'The engagement took place since he left England.'

'I should think so!'  Then pausing, he added, with condescending
good-nature, 'Well, Fitzjocelyn, I seem to you a terrible old
flint-stone, but I can't help that.  There are considerations besides
true love, you know; and for these young people, they can't have pined
out their hearts yet, as, by your own showing, they have not been
engaged three months.  If it were Sydney himself, I should tell him
that love is all the better for keeping--if it is good for anything;
and where there is such a disparity, it ought, above all, to be tested
by waiting.  So tell Master Jem, with my best wishes, to take care of
his grandmother.  I shall think myself doing him a kindness in keeping
him out of the school, if it is to hinder him from marrying at
four-and-twenty, and a girl brought up as she has been!'

'And, Mr. Calcott,' said Louis, rising, 'you will excuse my viewing my
cousin's engagement as an additional motive for doing my utmost to
promote his success in obtaining a situation, for which I consider him
as eminently fitted.  Good morning, sir.'

'Good morning, my Lord.'

Lord Fitzjocelyn departed so grave, so courteous, so dignified, so
resolute, so comically like his father, that the old Squire threw
himself back in his chair and laughed heartily.  The magnificent
challenge of war to the knife, was no more to him than the adjuration
he had heard last year in the justice-room; and he no more expected
these two lads to make any effectual opposition than he did to see them
repeal the game-laws.

The Viscount meanwhile rode off thoroughly roused to indignation. The
good sense of sixty naturally fell hard and cold on the ears of
twenty-two, and it was one of the moments when counsel inflamed instead
of checking him.  Never angry on his own account, he could be
exceedingly wrathful for others; and the unlucky word, disparity, drove
him especially wild.  In mere charity, he thought it right to withhold
this insult to the Pendragons from his cousin's ears; but this very
reserve seemed to bind him to resent it in James's stead; and he was
far more blindly impetuous than if, as usual, he had seen James so
vehement that he was obliged to try to curb and restrain him.

He would not hear of giving in!  When the Ramsbotham candidate
appeared, and James scrupled to divide the contrary interest, Louis
laid the whole blame of the split upon Mr. Calcott; while, as to poor
Mr. Powell, no words were compassionate enough for his dull, slouching,
ungentlemanly air; and he was pronounced to be an old writing-master,
fit for nothing but to mend pens.

But Mr. Walby's was still their sole promise.  The grocer followed the
Squire; the bookseller was liberal, and had invited the Ramsbotham
candidate to dinner.  On this alarming symptom, Fitzjocelyn fell upon
Richardson, and talked, and talked, and talked, till the solicitor
could either bear it no longer, or feared for the Ormersfield agency,
and his vote was carried off as a captive.

This triumph alarmed Mrs. Frost and James, who knew how scrupulously
the Earl abstained from seeking anything like a favour at Northwold;
and they tried to impress this on Louis, but he was exalted far above
even understanding the remonstrance.  It was all their
disinterestedness; he had no notion of that guarded pride which would
incur no obligation.  No, no; if Jem would be beholden to no one, he
would accept all as personal kindness to himself.  Expect a return! he
returned good-will--of course he would do any one a kindness. Claims,
involving himself! he would take care of that; and off he went laughing.

He came in the next day, announcing a still grander and more formidable
encounter.  He had met Mr. Ramsbotham himself, and secured his promise
that, in case he failed in carrying his own man, he and the butcher
would support Mr. Frost.

The fact was, that Lord Fitzjocelyn's advocacy of the poacher, his free
address, his sympathy for 'the masses,' and his careless words, had
inspired expectations of his liberal views; Mr. Ramsbotham was not
sorry to establish a claim, and was likewise gratified by the frank
engaging manners, which increased the pleasure of being solicited by a
nobleman--a distinction of which he thought more than did all the
opposite party.

To put James beyond the perils of the casting vote was next the point.
Without divulging his tactics, Louis flew off one morning by the train,
made a sudden descent on the recluse banker at Ambleside, barbarously
used his gift of the ceaseless tongue, till the poor old man was nearly
distracted, touched his wife's tender heart with good old Mrs. Frost
and the two lovers, and made her promise to bring him comfortably and
quietly down to stay at Ormersfield and give his vote.

And so, when the election finally came on, Mr. Calcott found himself
left with only his faithful grocer to support his protege.  Three votes
were given at once for the Reverend James Roland Frost Dynevor; the
bookseller followed as soon as he saw how the land lay; and Ramsbotham
and Co. swelled the majority as soon as they saw that their friend had
no chance.

Poor Mr. Powell went home to his drudgery with his wrinkles deeper than
ever; and his wife sighed as she resigned her last hope of sending her
son to the University.

Mr. Calcott had, for the first time in his life, been over-ridden by an
unscrupulous use of his neighbour's rank; and of the youthfulness that
inspired hopes of fixing a claim on an untried, inexperienced man.

The old Squire was severely hurt and mortified; but he was very
magnanimous--generously wished James joy, and congratulated Mrs. Frost
with all his heart.  He was less cordial with Louis; but the worst he
said of him was, that he was but a lad, his father was out of the way,
and he wished he might not find that he had got himself into a scrape.
He could not think why a man of old Ormersfield's age should go
figuring round Cape Horn, instead of staying to keep his own son in
order.

Sydney was absent; but the rest of the family and their friends were
less forbearing than the person chiefly concerned.  They talked
furiously, and made a strong exertion of forgiveness in order not to
cut Fitzjocelyn.  Sir Gilbert Brewster vowed that it would serve him
right to be turned out of the troop, and that he must keep a sharp look
out lest he should sow disaffection among the Yeomanry.  Making friends
with Ramsbotham! never taking out a gun!  The country was gone to the
dogs when such as he was to be a peer!



END OF VOL. I.





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