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Title: Kenelm Chillingly — Complete
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
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 "Kenelm Chillingly — Complete" ***

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KENELM CHILLINGLY

HIS ADVENTURES AND OPINIONS


By Edward Bulwer Lytton

(LORD LYTTON)



BOOK I.



CHAPTER I.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER III.

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

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

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

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

MISS SALLY (tittering).--“He! he!”

MISS MARGARET.--“For shame, you giddy thing!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You may go now, Nurse,” said Sir Peter.



CHAPTER IV.

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

MISS SIBYL.--“Sir Peter Lely?”

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

MISS SIBYL.--“Impossible!”

MISS SALLY.--“He! he!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miss MARGARET.--“A British matron, of course!”

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

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

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



CHAPTER V.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, good-by, Gordon. Shake hands.”

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

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



CHAPTER VI.

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER VII.

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

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

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

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

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

“Well then, we will decide on a private one.”

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER VIII.

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

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

“My dear boy, don’t talk in that way. Come into my study.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenelm meditated a moment, and then said decidedly, “No.”

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

“Yes, sir; I do now.”

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

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

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

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

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

“And you wrote a letter to him?”

“Yes.”

“How did you write, Papa? What did you say?”

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

“Thank you, Papa. I see.”

That evening Kenelm wrote the following letter:--


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


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

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

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


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

ROBERT BUTT.


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

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


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

Your affectionate KENELM.

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


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


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

Yours truly, WILLIAM HORTON.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER IX.

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

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

MIVERS (languidly).--“Ay.”

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

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

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

“At the morning of life--”

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

“At the morning of life, when the dews--”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But I don’t want my son to ripen into either of those imbecile
developments of species.”

“Then don’t listen to Parson John; and there’s an end of the
discussion.”

“No, there is not. I have not heard your advice what to do if John’s
advice is not to be taken.”

Mr. Mivers hesitated. He seemed puzzled.

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

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

“I accept the conditions.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A Christian as by law established?”

“Well--yes.”

“And who will receive Kenelm as a pupil?”

“Of course I am not putting such questions to you out of idle
curiosity.”

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

“No doubt he is a contributor to ‘The Londoner,’” said the Parson,
sarcastically.

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

“Do.”



CHAPTER X.

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

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



CHAPTER XI.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XII.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XIII.

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

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

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

“Not in the least, sir,” answered Kenelm.

“Then why do you do it?” asked Lady Chillingly.

“Because I know nothing else that amuses me more.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Deliberate falsehood! you impertinent puppy!”

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

Sir Peter burst out laughing.

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

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

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

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

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

“You make me sick of the word ‘ideas.’ Leave off your metaphysics and
study real life.”

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

“Have you no young friends among your fellow-collegians?”

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

“Do you mean to say that you lived alone at Cambridge?”

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

“Books. Dry company.”

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

“Drunk!”

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

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

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

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

“My own age,--male or female?”

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

“Certainly. Do you object to my catching another trout?”

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

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

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

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

“Oh!” said Sir Peter, “that’s all?”

“All I remember at ten years old,” replied Kenelm.

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

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

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

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

“So much the better.”

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

“Explain yourself.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Certainly not. I hate quarrelling.”

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

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



CHAPTER XIV.

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

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


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


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

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


 “‘Why on foot, why on foot, Ritter Karl,’ quoth he,
   ‘And not on thy palfrey gray?’


Palfrey gray--hum--gray.


 “‘The run of ill-luck was too strong for me,
   ‘And has galloped my steed away.’


That will do: good!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I dare not say poet. I am a verse-maker.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Surely at your age, sir, and with your evident education--”

“Say culture; that’s the word in fashion nowadays.”

“Well, your evident culture, you must have made verses.”

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

“Try English.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XV.

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

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

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


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

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

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

   Yours ever affectionately,

     KENELM.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course it would.”

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

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

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

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



BOOK II.



CHAPTER I.

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

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



CHAPTER II.

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

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

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

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

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

“Decidedly I am now in another man’s skin. Kenelm Chillingly, I no
longer

   “Remain

     “Yours faithfully;

“But am,

   “With profound consideration,

     “Your obedient humble servant.”

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

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

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

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

“But--” began Kenelm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is it possible? What is he?”

“An uncle.”

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

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

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

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

“All right! I thought so, ‘To Tor-Hadham, eighteen miles.’ That’s the
road to Tor-Hadham.”

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

“Yes.”

“And to whom are you going?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What fun!” cried the boy, abruptly. “Isn’t it fun?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER III.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


   “TO-MORROW NIGHT THEATRE OPENS.

   “RICHARD III. Mr. COMPTON.”


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

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

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

“Stop,” said the boy; “don’t you think that would suit us? it looks
quiet.”

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

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

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

“Dinner!” echoed the hostess,--“dinner!”

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

“Drink! This is strictly a Temperance Hotel, sir.”

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

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

“Not even a glass of beer?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why should they be drunk at a Temperance Hotel?”

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

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

“Yes. About what? Mutton-chops?”

“No. Cauliflowers and rice-pudding.”

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

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

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

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

“A-h!” said Kenelm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you think Macbeth was young when he murdered Duncan?”

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

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

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

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

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

“And what if it were? would not you give it?”

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

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

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

“I will take your note,” said Kenelm.

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



CHAPTER IV.

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

“Where does he lodge?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Protector!”

“Protector.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Stupid,” cried the lad, “can’t you see where you are going? Give this
to Mrs. Compton.”

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



CHAPTER V.

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

“You saw him?”

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

“Was he alone?”

“No; at supper with his wife.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, I promise that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They are mine,” replied the singer.

“And the air?”

“Mine too.”

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

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

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

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

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

“What case? I don’t understand you, sir.”

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

“Not if I am to get my travelling expenses paid.”

“What! the folly is so popular?”

“Does not your own heart tell you so?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To sing again?”

“Yes.”

“And on the subject I suggest?”

“No, indeed.”

“What! love, again?”

“I am afraid so.”

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

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

“Fiddle-de-dee,” said Kenelm.



CHAPTER VI.

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

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

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

“Yes,” was the scarce audible answer.

“And now only remains the question, ‘What is to be done?’”

“I am sure I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

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

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

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

“No, no.”

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

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

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

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

“What! you leave me here--alone?”

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

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

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



CHAPTER VII.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, uncle,” cried the girl, resolutely; “don’t blame her, nor any one
but me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I have! I have!” cried Elsie; “my lost mother’s sister: let me go to
her.”

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

“Why not?” asked Kenelm.

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

“I will now, Uncle.”

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

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

Kenelm was gone.

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

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

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



CHAPTER VIII.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This is new to you,” she said smiling.

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

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

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

“Be n’t it eno’?” said the farmer, nettled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Certainly not,” said Kenelm, sniffing a very agreeable odour.

“Where are the girls?” asked the farmer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You are quite a stranger in these parts?”

“Quite.”

“You don’t even know my name?”

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

“My name is John Saunderson.”

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

“By gosh! I never heard that before.”

“If I thought you had I should not have said it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER IX.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well said!” cried the farmer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Very likely. I am sure that I puzzle myself. Say on.”

“Looking at your dress and--and--”

“The two shillings you gave me? Yes--”

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

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

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

“How? Does she want to run away from her uncle?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passing through the garden, Kenelm encountered the junior Saunderson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“With the greatest pleasure.”

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

“Why Manchester?”

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER X.

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

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

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

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

“Are you afraid that your neighbours will think it wrong?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XI.

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

“Like him! I hate the sight of him.”

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

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

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

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

“So Tom Bowles is a tradesman. What trade?”

“A farrier, sir.”

“And, I am told, a very fine young man.”

“I don’t know as to that: he is very big.”

“And what made you hate him?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, no, no; he’s as steady and good a lad as ever lived. But--but--”

“Yes; but--”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER XII.

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

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

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

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

“As pretty as yourself?”

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

“Humph!” said Kenelm, incredulously.

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

“What are you sighing for?--tell me.”

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

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

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

“What shop do you mean?”

“There!”

“Where? I see no shop.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who be you?”

“Let go that young woman before I tell you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s all that soft-sawder about?” said Tom Bowles, somewhat
falteringly.

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

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

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

“You! I’d smash a dozen of you to powder.”

“In that case, you are safe to promise. Come, ‘tis a fair bargain. Is
n’t it, neighbours?”

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

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

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

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

Fighting Tom sulkily shook hands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well,” said one of the villagers, “Tom _can_ drink.”

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

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

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

“Now, my young friend, show me Will’s cottage.”

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

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

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

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

“I will, indeed,--indeed.” Poor Jessie’s voice died in sobs.

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

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

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



CHAPTER XIII.

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

He stooped his head, and stepped over the threshold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, I don’t know him. Who is he?”

“Our clergyman, sir. This is the book.”

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

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

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

“Did she? Good heavens!” exclaimed Kenelm.

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

“Why did not you do it?”

“Well, I don’t know; but I did not think it would be the right thing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why not move to a town, then?”

The young man coloured, and shook his head.

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

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

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

The doctor shook his head. “I can’t say yet. He has had a very ugly blow
somewhere.”

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

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

“Why not?”

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

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

“But are you a prize-fighter?”

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

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

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

“I hope so too; but I can’t say yet. Quarrel about a girl,--eh?”

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

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

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



CHAPTER XIV.

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

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

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

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

“Why did he leave a lawyer’s office to keep a little shop?”

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

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s your pleasure?” she asked, in a cold and somewhat stern voice.

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

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

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

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

Mrs. Bowles rose with a start. “You’re the man who beat my boy?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sir; how dare you--”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What! My Tom kill a woman!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But--”

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

CHAPTER XV.

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

“Have I the honour to address Mr. Lethbridge?”

“That is my name,” said the clergyman, smiling pleasantly. “Anything I
can do for you?”

“Yes, a great deal, if you will let me talk to you about a few of your
parishioners.”

“My parishioners! I beg your pardon, but you are quite a stranger to me,
and, I should think, to the parish.”

“To the parish,--no, I am quite at home in it; and I honestly believe
that it has never known a more officious busybody, thrusting himself
into its most private affairs.”

Mr. Lethbridge stared, and, after a short pause, said, “I have heard of
a young man who has been staying at Mr. Saunderson’s, and is indeed at
this moment the talk of the village. You are--”

“That young man. Alas! yes.”

“Nay,” said Mr. Lethbridge, kindly, “I cannot myself, as a minister
of the Gospel, approve of your profession, and, if I might take the
liberty, I would try and dissuade you from it; but still, as for the
one act of freeing a poor girl from the most scandalous persecution, and
administering, though in a rough way, a lesson to a savage brute who
has long been the disgrace and terror of the neighbourhood, I cannot
honestly say that it has my condemnation. The moral sense of a community
is generally a right one: you have won the praise of the village. Under
all the circumstances, I do not withhold mine. You woke this morning and
found yourself famous. Do not sigh ‘Alas.’”

“Lord Byron woke one morning and found himself famous, and the result
was that he sighed ‘Alas’ for the rest of his life. If there be two
things which a wise man should avoid, they are fame and love. Heaven
defend me from both!”

Again the parson stared; but being of compassionate nature, and inclined
to take mild views of everything that belongs to humanity, he said, with
a slight inclination of his head,--

“I have always heard that the Americans in general enjoy the advantage
of a better education than we do in England, and their reading public
is infinitely larger than ours; still, when I hear one of a calling
not highly considered in this country for intellectual cultivation or
ethical philosophy cite Lord Byron, and utter a sentiment at variance
with the impetuosity of inexperienced youth, but which has much to
commend it in the eyes of a reflective Christian impressed with the
nothingness of the objects mostly coveted by the human heart, I am
surprised, and--oh, my dear young friend, surely your education might
fit you for something better!”

It was among the maxims of Kenelm Chillingly’s creed that a sensible man
should never allow himself to be surprised; but here he was, to use
a popular idiom, “taken aback,” and lowered himself to the rank of
ordinary minds by saying, simply, “I don’t understand.”

“I see,” resumed the clergyman, shaking his head gently, “as I always
suspected, that in the vaunted education bestowed on Americans, the
elementary principles of Christian right and wrong are more neglected
than they are among our own humble classes. Yes, my young friend, you
may quote poets, you may startle me by remarks on the nothingness of
human fame and human love, derived from the precepts of heathen poets,
and yet not understand with what compassion, and, in the judgment
of most sober-minded persons, with what contempt, a human being who
practises your vocation is regarded.”

“Have I a vocation?” said Kenelm. “I am very glad to hear it. What is my
vocation? And why must I be an American?”

“Why, surely I am not misinformed? You are the American--I forget his
name--who has come over to contest the belt of prize-fighting with
the champion of England. You are silent; you hang your head. By your
appearance, your length of limb, your gravity of countenance, your
evident education, you confirm the impression of your birth. Your
prowess has proved your profession.”

“Reverend sir,” said Kenelm, with his unutterable seriousness of aspect,
“I am on my travels in search of truth and in flight from shams, but
so great a take-in as myself I have not yet encountered. Remember me in
your prayers. I am not an American; I am not a prize-fighter. I
honour the first as the citizen of a grand republic trying his best to
accomplish an experiment in government in which he will find the
very prosperity he tends to create will sooner or later destroy his
experiment. I honour the last because strength, courage, and sobriety
are essential to the prize-fighter, and are among the chiefest ornaments
of kings and heroes. But I am neither one nor the other. And all I
can say for myself is, that I belong to that very vague class commonly
called English gentlemen, and that, by birth and education, I have a
right to ask you to shake hands with me as such.”

Mr. Lethbridge stared again, raised his hat, bowed, and shook hands.

“You will allow me now to speak to you about your parishioners. You take
an interest in Will Somers; so do I. He is clever and ingenious. But it
seems there is not sufficient demand here for his baskets, and he would,
no doubt, do better in some neighbouring town. Why does he object to
move?”

“I fear that poor Will would pine away to death if he lost sight of that
pretty girl for whom you did such chivalrous battle with Tom Bowles.”

“The unhappy man, then, is really in love with Jessie Wiles? And do you
think she no less really cares for him?”

“I am sure of it.”

“And would make him a good wife; that is, as wives go?”

“A good daughter generally makes a good wife. And there is not a father
in the place who has a better child than Jessie is to hers. She really
is a girl of a superior nature. She was the cleverest pupil at our
school, and my wife is much attached to her. But she has something
better than mere cleverness: she has an excellent heart.”

“What you say confirms my own impressions. And the girl’s father has no
other objection to Will Somers than his fear that Will could not support
a wife and family comfortably.

“He can have no other objection save that which would apply equally to
all suitors. I mean his fear lest Tom Bowles might do her some mischief,
if he knew she was about to marry any one else.”

“You think, then, that Mr. Bowles is a thoroughly bad and dangerous
person?”

“Thoroughly bad and dangerous, and worse since he has taken to
drinking.”

“I suppose he did not take to drinking till he lost his wits for Jessie
Wiles?”

“No, I don’t think he did.”

“But, Mr. Lethbridge, have you never used your influence over this
dangerous man?”

“Of course, I did try, but I only got insulted. He is a godless animal,
and has not been inside a church for years. He seems to have got
a smattering of such vile learning as may be found in infidel
publications, and I doubt if he has any religion at all.”

“Poor Polyphemus! no wonder his Galatea shuns him.”

“Old Wiles is terribly frightened, and asked my wife to find Jessie a
place as servant at a distance. But Jessie can’t bear the thoughts of
leaving.”

“For the same reason which attaches Will Somers to the native soil?”

“My wife thinks so.”

“Do you believe that if Tom Bowles were out of the way, and Jessie
and Will were man and wife, they could earn a sufficient livelihood as
successors to Mrs. Bawtrey, Will adding the profits of his basket-work
to those of the shop and land?”

“A sufficient livelihood! of course. They would be quite rich. I know
the shop used to turn a great deal of money. The old woman, to be sure,
is no longer up to the business, but still she retains a good custom.”

“Will Somers seems in delicate health. Perhaps if he had a less weary
struggle for a livelihood, and no fear of losing Jessie, his health
would improve.”

“His life would be saved, sir.”

“Then,” said Kenelm, with a heavy sigh and a face as long as an
undertaker’s, “though I myself entertain a profound compassion for that
disturbance to our mental equilibrium which goes by the name of ‘love,’
and I am the last person who ought to add to the cares and sorrows which
marriage entails upon its victims,--I say nothing of the woes
destined to those whom marriage usually adds to a population already
overcrowded,--I fear that I must be the means of bringing these two
love-birds into the same cage. I am ready to purchase the shop and its
appurtenances on their behalf, on the condition that you will kindly
obtain the consent of Jessie’s father to their union. As for my brave
friend Tom Bowles, I undertake to deliver them and the village from that
exuberant nature, which requires a larger field for its energies. Pardon
me for not letting you interrupt me. I have not yet finished what I have
to say. Allow me to ask if Mrs. Grundy resides in this village.”

“Mrs. Grundy! Oh, I understand. Of course; wherever a woman has a
tongue, there Mrs. Grundy has a home.”

“And seeing that Jessie is very pretty, and that in walking with her I
encountered Mr. Bowles, might not Mrs. Grundy say, with a toss of her
head, ‘that it was not out of pure charity that the stranger had been so
liberal to Jessie Wiles’? But if the money for the shop be paid through
you to Mrs. Bawtrey, and you kindly undertake all the contingent
arrangements, Mrs. Grundy will have nothing to say against any one.”

Mr. Lethbridge gazed with amaze at the solemn countenance before him.

“Sir,” he said, after a long pause, “I scarcely know how to express my
admiration of a generosity so noble, so thoughtful, and accompanied with
a delicacy, and, indeed, with a wisdom, which--which--”

“Pray, my dear sir, do not make me still more ashamed of myself than I
am at present for an interference in love matters quite alien to my own
convictions as to the best mode of making an ‘Approach to the Angels.’
To conclude this business, I think it better to deposit in your hands
the sum of L45, for which Mrs. Bawtrey has agreed to sell the remainder
of her lease and stock-in-hand; but, of course, you will not make
anything public till I am gone, and Tom Bowles too. I hope I may get
him away to-morrow; but I shall know to-night when I can depend on his
departure, and till he goes I must stay.”

As he spoke, Kenelm transferred from his pocket-book to Mr. Lethbridge’s
hand bank-notes to the amount specified.

“May I at least ask the name of the gentleman who honours me with his
confidence, and has bestowed so much happiness on members of my flock?”

“There is no great reason why I should not tell you my name, but I see
no reason why I should. You remember Talleyrand’s advice, ‘If you are
in doubt whether to write a letter or not, don’t.’ The advice applies to
many doubts in life besides that of letter-writing. Farewell, sir!”

“A most extraordinary young man,” muttered the parson, gazing at the
receding form of the tall stranger; then gently shaking his head, he
added, “Quite an original.” He was contented with that solution of the
difficulties which had puzzled him. May the reader be the same.



CHAPTER XVI.

AFTER the family dinner, at which the farmer’s guest displayed more
than his usual powers of appetite, Kenelm followed his host towards the
stackyard, and said,--

“My dear Mr. Saunderson, though you have no longer any work for me to
do, and I ought not to trespass further on your hospitality, yet if I
might stay with you another day or so, I should be very grateful.”

“My dear lad,” cried the farmer, in whose estimation Kenelm had risen
prodigiously since the victory over Tom Bowles, “you are welcome to stay
as long as you like, and we shall be all sorry when you go. Indeed, at
all events, you must stay over Saturday, for you shall go with us to
the squire’s harvest-supper. It will be a pretty sight, and my girls are
already counting on you for a dance.”

“Saturday,--the day after to-morrow. You are very kind; but merrymakings
are not much in my way, and I think I shall be on my road before you set
off to the Squire’s supper.”

“Pooh! you shall stay; and, I say, young ‘un, if you want more to do, I
have a job for you quite in your line.”

“What is it?”

“Thrash my ploughman. He has been insolent this morning, and he is the
biggest fellow in the county, next to Tom Bowles.”

Here the farmer laughed heartily, enjoying his own joke.

“Thank you for nothing,” said Kenelm, rubbing his bruises. “A burnt
child dreads the fire.”

The young man wandered alone into the fields. The day was becoming
overcast, and the clouds threatened rain. The air was exceedingly still;
the landscape, missing the sunshine, wore an aspect of gloomy solitude.
Kenelm came to the banks of the rivulet not far from the spot on which
the farmer had first found him. There he sat down, and leaned his cheek
on his hand, with eyes fixed on the still and darkened stream lapsing
mournfully away: sorrow entered into his heart and tinged its musings.

“Is it then true,” said he, soliloquizing, “that I am born to pass
through life utterly alone; asking, indeed, for no sister-half of
myself, disbelieving its possibility, shrinking from the thought
of it,--half scorning, half pitying those who sigh for it?--thing
unattainable,--better sigh for the moon!

“Yet if other men sigh for it, why do I stand apart from them? If the
world be a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players, am I
to be the solitary spectator, with no part in the drama and no interest
in the vicissitudes of its plot? Many there are, no doubt, who covet as
little as I do the part of ‘Lover,’ ‘with a woful ballad, made to his
mistress’s eyebrow;’ but then they covet some other part in the drama,
such as that of Soldier ‘bearded as a pard,’ or that of Justice ‘in fair
round belly with fat capon lined.’ But me no ambition fires: I have no
longing either to rise or to shine. I don’t desire to be a colonel, nor
an admiral, nor a member of Parliament, nor an alderman; I do not yearn
for the fame of a wit, or a poet, or a philosopher, or a diner-out, or
a crack shot at a rifle-match or a _battue_. Decidedly, I am the one
looker-on, the one bystander, and have no more concern with the active
world than a stone has. It is a horrible phantasmal crotchet of Goethe,
that originally we were all monads, little segregated atoms adrift in
the atmosphere, and carried hither and thither by forces over which we
had no control, especially by the attraction of other monads, so
that one monad, compelled by porcine monads, crystallizes into a pig;
another, hurried along by heroic monads, becomes a lion or an Alexander.
Now it is quite clear,” continued Kenelm, shifting his position and
crossing the right leg over the left, “that a monad intended or
fitted for some other planet may, on its way to that destination, be
encountered by a current of other monads blowing earthward, and be
caught up in the stream and whirled on, till, to the marring of
its whole proper purpose and scene of action, it settles
here,--conglomerated into a baby. Probably that lot has befallen me: my
monad, meant for another region in space, has been dropped into this,
where it can never be at home, never amalgamate with other monads nor
comprehend why they are in such a perpetual fidget. I declare I know
no more why the minds of human beings should be so restlessly agitated
about things which, as most of them own, give more pain than pleasure,
than I understand why that swarm of gnats, which has such a very short
time to live, does not give itself a moment’s repose, but goes up and
down, rising and falling as if it were on a seesaw, and making as much
noise about its insignificant alternations of ascent and descent as if
it were the hum of men. And yet, perhaps, in another planet my monad
would have frisked and jumped and danced and seesawed with congenial
monads, as contentedly and as sillily as do the monads of men and gnats
in this alien Vale of Tears.”

Kenelm had just arrived at that conjectural solution of his perplexities
when a voice was heard singing, or rather modulated to that kind of
chant between recitative and song, which is so pleasingly effective
where the intonations are pure and musical. They were so in this
instance, and Kenelm’s ear caught every word in the following song:--


     CONTENT.

 “There are times when the troubles of life are still;
   The bees wandered lost in the depths of June,
  And I paused where the chime of a silver rill
   Sang the linnet and lark to their rest at noon.

 “Said my soul, ‘See how calmly the wavelets glide,
   Though so narrow their way to their ocean vent;
  And the world that I traverse is wide, is wide,
   And yet is too narrow to hold content’

 “O my son, never say that the world is wide;
   The rill in its banks is less closely pent:
  It is thou who art shoreless on every side,
   And thy width will not let thee enclose content.”


As the voice ceased Kenelm lifted his head. But the banks of the brook
were so curving and so clothed with brushwood that for some minutes the
singer was invisible. At last the boughs before him were put aside, and
within a few paces of himself paused the man to whom he had commended
the praises of a beefsteak, instead of those which minstrelsy in its
immemorial error dedicates to love.

“Sir,” said Kenelm, half rising, “well met once more. Have you ever
listened to the cuckoo?”

“Sir,” answered the minstrel, “have you ever felt the presence of the
summer?”

“Permit me to shake hands with you. I admire the question by which you
have countermet and rebuked my own. If you are not in a hurry, will you
sit down and let us talk?”

The minstrel inclined his head and seated himself. His dog--now emerged
from the brushwood--gravely approached Kenelm, who with greater gravity
regarded him; then, wagging his tail, reposed on his haunches,
intent with ear erect on a stir in the neighbouring reeds, evidently
considering whether it was caused by a fish or a water-rat.

“I asked you, sir, if you had ever listened to the cuckoo from no
irrelevant curiosity; for often on summer days, when one is talking with
one’s self,--and, of course, puzzling one’s self,--a voice breaks out,
as it were from the heart of Nature, so far is it and yet so near; and
it says something very quieting, very musical, so that one is tempted
inconsiderately and foolishly to exclaim, ‘Nature replies to me.’ The
cuckoo has served me that trick pretty often. Your song is a better
answer to a man’s self-questionings than he can ever get from a cuckoo.”

“I doubt that,” said the minstrel. “Song, at the best, is but the echo
of some voice from the heart of Nature. And if the cuckoo’s note seemed
to you such a voice, it was an answer to your questionings perhaps more
simply truthful than man can utter, if you had rightly construed the
language.”

“My good friend,” answered Kenelm, “what you say sounds very prettily;
and it contains a sentiment which has been amplified by certain critics
into that measureless domain of dunderheads which is vulgarly called
BOSH. But though Nature is never silent, though she abuses the privilege
of her age in being tediously gossiping and garrulous, Nature never
replies to our questions: she can’t understand an argument; she has
never read Mr. Mill’s work on Logic. In fact, as it is truly said by a
great philosopher, ‘Nature has no mind.’ Every man who addresses her is
compelled to force upon her for a moment the loan of his own mind. And
if she answers a question which his own mind puts to her, it is only
by such a reply as his own mind teaches to her parrot-like lips. And as
every man has a different mind, so every man gets a different answer.
Nature is a lying old humbug.”

The minstrel laughed merrily; and his laugh was as sweet as his chant.

“Poets would have a great deal to unlearn if they are to look upon
Nature in that light.”

“Bad poets would, and so much the better for them and their readers.”

“Are not good poets students of Nature?”

“Students of Nature, certainly, as surgeons study anatomy by dissecting
a dead body. But the good poet, like the good surgeon, is the man who
considers that study merely as the necessary A B C, and not as the
all-in-all essential to skill in his practice. I do not give the fame
of a good surgeon to a man who fills a book with details, more or less
accurate, of fibres and nerves and muscles; and I don’t give the fame of
a good poet to a man who makes an inventory of the Rhine or the Vale of
Gloucester. The good surgeon and the good poet are they who understand
the living man. What is that poetry of drama which Aristotle justly
ranks as the highest? Is it not a poetry in which description of
inanimate Nature must of necessity be very brief and general; in which
even the external form of man is so indifferent a consideration that it
will vary with each actor who performs the part? A Hamlet may be fair
or dark. A Macbeth may be short or tall. The merit of dramatic poetry
consists in the substituting for what is commonly called Nature (namely,
external and material Nature) creatures intellectual, emotional, but
so purely immaterial that they may be said to be all mind and soul,
accepting the temporary loans of any such bodies at hand as actors may
offer, in order to be made palpable and visible to the audience, but
needing no such bodies to be palpable and visible to readers. The
highest kind of poetry is therefore that which has least to do with
external Nature. But every grade has its merit more or less genuinely
great, according as it instils into Nature that which is not there,--the
reason and the soul of man.”

“I am not much disposed,” said the minstrel, “to acknowledge any one
form of poetry to be practically higher than another; that is, so far as
to elevate the poet who cultivates what you call the highest with some
success above the rank of the poet who cultivates what you call a very
inferior school with a success much more triumphant. In theory, dramatic
poetry may be higher than lyric, and ‘Venice Preserved’ is a very
successful drama; but I think Burns a greater poet than Otway.”

“Possibly he may be; but I know of no lyrical poet, at least among the
moderns, who treats less of Nature as the mere outward form of things,
or more passionately animates her framework with his own human heart,
than does Robert Burns. Do you suppose when a Greek, in some perplexity
of reason or conscience, addressed a question to the oracular oak-leaves
of Dodona that the oak-leaves answered him? Don’t you rather believe
that the question suggested by his mind was answered by the mind of
his fellow-man, the priest, who made the oak-leaves the mere vehicle
of communication, as you and I might make such vehicle in a sheet of
writing-paper? Is not the history of superstition a chronicle of the
follies of man in attempting to get answers from external Nature?”

“But,” said the minstrel, “have I not somewhere heard or read that the
experiments of Science are the answers made by Nature to the questions
put to her by man?”

“They are the answers which his own mind suggests to her,--nothing more.
His mind studies the laws of matter, and in that study makes experiments
on matter; out of those experiments his mind, according to its previous
knowledge or natural acuteness, arrives at its own deductions, and
hence arise the sciences of mechanics and chemistry, etc. But the matter
itself gives no answer: the answer varies according to the mind that
puts the question; and the progress of science consists in the perpetual
correction of the errors and falsehoods which preceding minds conceived
to be the correct answers they received from Nature. It is the
supernatural within us,--namely, Mind,--which can alone guess at the
mechanism of the natural, namely, Matter. A stone cannot question a
stone.”

The minstrel made no reply. And there was a long silence, broken but by
the hum of the insects, the ripple of onward waves, and the sigh of the
wind through reeds.



CHAPTER XVII.

SAID Kenelm, at last breaking silence--


     “‘Rapiamus, amici,
   Occasionem de die, dumque virent genua,
   Et decet, obducta solvatur fronte senectus!’”


“Is not that quotation from Horace?” asked the minstrel.

“Yes; and I made it insidiously, in order to see if you had not acquired
what is called a classical education.”

“I might have received such education, if my tastes and my destinies
had not withdrawn me in boyhood from studies of which I did not then
comprehend the full value. But I did pick up a smattering of Latin at
school; and from time to time since I left school I have endeavoured to
gain some little knowledge of the most popular Latin poets; chiefly, I
own to my shame, by the help of literal English translations.”

“As a poet yourself, I am not sure that it would be an advantage to know
a dead language so well that its forms and modes of thought ran,
though perhaps unconsciously, into those of the living one in which you
compose. Horace might have been a still better poet if he had not known
Greek better than you know Latin.”

“It is at least courteous in you to say so,” answered the singer, with a
pleased smile.

“You would be still more courteous,” said Kenelm, “if you would pardon
an impertinent question, and tell me whether it is for a wager that you
wander through the land, Homer-like, as a wandering minstrel, and allow
that intelligent quadruped your companion to carry a tray in his mouth
for the reception of pennies?”

“No, it is not for a wager; it is a whim of mine, which I fancy from
the tone of your conversation you could understand, being apparently
somewhat whimsical yourself.”

“So far as whim goes, be assured of my sympathy.”

“Well, then, though I follow a calling by the exercise of which I secure
a modest income, my passion is verse. If the seasons were always summer,
and life were always youth, I should like to pass through the world
singing. But I have never ventured to publish any verses of mine. If
they fell still-born it would give me more pain than such wounds to
vanity ought to give to a bearded man; and if they were assailed or
ridiculed it might seriously injure me in my practical vocation. That
last consideration, were I quite alone in the world, might not much
weigh on me; but there are others for whose sake I should like to make
fortune and preserve station. Many years ago--it was in Germany--I fell
in with a German student who was very poor, and who did make money by
wandering about the country with lute and song. He has since become a
poet of no mean popularity, and he has told me that he is sure he found
the secret of that popularity in habitually consulting popular tastes
during his roving apprenticeship to song. His example strongly impressed
me. So I began this experiment; and for several years my summers have
been all partly spent in this way. I am only known, as I think I told
you before, in the rounds I take as ‘The Wandering Minstrel;’ I receive
the trifling moneys that are bestowed on me as proofs of a certain
merit. I should not be paid by poor people if I did not please; and the
songs which please them best are generally those I love best myself.
For the rest, my time is not thrown away,--not only as regards bodily
health, but healthfulness of mind: all the current of one’s ideas
becomes so freshened by months of playful exercise and varied
adventure.”

“Yes, the adventure is varied enough,” said Kenelm, somewhat ruefully;
for he felt, in shifting his posture, a sharp twinge of his bruised
muscles. “But don’t you find those mischief-makers, the women, always
mix themselves up with adventure?”

“Bless them! of course,” said the minstrel, with a ringing laugh. “In
life, as on the stage, the petticoat interest is always the strongest.”

“I don’t agree with you there,” said Kenelm, dryly. “And you seem to
me to utter a claptrap beneath the rank of your understanding. However,
this warm weather indisposes one to disputation; and I own that a
petticoat, provided it be red, is not without the interest of colour in
a picture.”

“Well, young gentleman,” said the minstrel, rising, “the day is wearing
on, and I must wish you good-by; probably, if you were to ramble about
the country as I do, you would see too many pretty girls not to teach
you the strength of petticoat interest,--not in pictures alone; and
should I meet you again I may find you writing love-verses yourself.”

“After a conjecture so unwarrantable, I part company with you less
reluctantly than I otherwise might do. But I hope we shall meet again.”

“Your wish flatters me much; but, if we do, pray respect the confidence
I have placed in you, and regard my wandering minstrelsy and my dog’s
tray as sacred secrets. Should we not so meet, it is but a prudent
reserve on my part if I do not give you my right name and address.”

“There you show the cautious common-sense which belongs rarely to lovers
of verse and petticoat interest. What have you done with your guitar?”

“I do not pace the roads with that instrument: it is forwarded to me
from town to town under a borrowed name, together with other raiment
that this, should I have cause to drop my character of wandering
minstrel.”

The two men here exchanged a cordial shake of the hand. And as the
minstrel went his way along the river-side, his voice in chanting seemed
to lend to the wavelets a livelier murmur, to the reeds a less plaintive
sigh.



CHAPTER XVIII.

IN his room, solitary and brooding, sat the defeated hero of a hundred
fights. It was now twilight; but the shutters had been partially closed
all day, in order to exclude the sun, which had never before been
unwelcome to Tom Bowles, and they still remained so, making the twilight
doubly twilight, till the harvest moon, rising early, shot its ray
through the crevice, and forced a silvery track amid the shadows of the
floor.

The man’s head drooped on his breast; his strong hands rested
listlessly on his knees: his attitude was that of utter despondency and
prostration. But in the expression of his face there were the signs of
some dangerous and restless thought which belied not the gloom but the
stillness of the posture. His brow, which was habitually open and
frank, in its defying aggressive boldness, was now contracted into deep
furrows, and lowered darkly over his downcast, half-closed eyes. His
lips were so tightly compressed that the face lost its roundness, and
the massive bone of the jaw stood out hard and salient. Now and then,
indeed, the lips opened, giving vent to a deep, impatient sigh, but they
reclosed as quickly as they had parted. It was one of those crises in
life which find all the elements that make up a man’s former self in
lawless anarchy; in which the Evil One seems to enter and direct the
storm; in which a rude untutored mind, never before harbouring a thought
of crime, sees the crime start up from an abyss, feels it to be an
enemy, yet yields to it as a fate. So that when, at the last, some
wretch, sentenced to the gibbet, shudderingly looks back to the moment
“that trembled between two worlds,”--the world of the man guiltless,
the world of the man guilty,--he says to the holy, highly educated,
rational, passionless priest who confesses him and calls him “brother,”
 “The devil put it into my head.”

At that moment the door opened; at its threshold there stood the man’s
mother--whom he had never allowed to influence his conduct, though he
loved her well in his rough way--and the hated fellow-man whom he longed
to see dead at his feet. The door reclosed: the mother was gone, without
a word, for her tears choked her; the fellow-man was alone with him. Tom
Bowles looked up, recognized his visitor, cleared his brow, and rubbed
his mighty hands.



CHAPTER XIX.

KENELM CHILLINGLY drew a chair close to his antagonist’s, and silently
laid a hand on his.

Tom Bowles took up the hand in both his own, turned it curiously towards
the moonlight, gazed at it, poised it, then with a sound between groan
and laugh tossed it away as a thing hostile but trivial, rose and locked
the door, came back to his seat and said bluffly,--

“What do you want with me now?”

“I want to ask you a favour.”

“Favour?”

“The greatest which man can ask from man,--friendship. You see, my dear
Tom,” continued Kenelm, making himself quite at home, throwing his arm
over the back of Tom’s chair, and stretching his legs comfortably as
one does by one’s own fireside; “you see, my dear Tom, that men like
us--young, single, not on the whole bad-looking as men go--can
find sweethearts in plenty. If one does not like us, another will;
sweethearts are sown everywhere like nettles and thistles. But the
rarest thing in life is a friend. Now, tell me frankly, in the course
of your wanderings did you ever come into a village where you could not
have got a sweetheart if you had asked for one; and if, having got
a sweetheart, you had lost her, do you think you would have had any
difficulty in finding another? But have you such a thing in the world,
beyond the pale of your own family, as a true friend,--a man friend; and
supposing that you had such a friend,--a friend who would stand by you
through thick and thin; who would tell you your faults to your face, and
praise you for your good qualities behind your back; who would do all
he could to save you from a danger, and all he could to get you out of
one,--supposing you had such a friend and lost him, do you believe that
if you lived to the age of Methuselah you could find another? You don’t
answer me; you are silent. Well, Tom, I ask you to be such a friend to
me, and I will be such a friend to you.”

Tom was so thoroughly “taken aback” by this address that he remained
dumfounded. But he felt as if the clouds in his soul were breaking, and
a ray of sunlight were forcing its way through the sullen darkness.
At length, however, the receding rage within him returned, though with
vacillating step, and he growled between his teeth,--

“A pretty friend indeed, robbing me of my girl! Go along with you!”

“She was not your girl any more than she was or ever can be mine.”

“What, you be n’t after her?”

“Certainly not; I am going to Luscombe, and I ask you to come with me.
Do you think I am going to leave you here?”

“What is it to you?”

“Everything. Providence has permitted me to save you from the most
lifelong of all sorrows. For--think! Can any sorrow be more lasting
than had been yours if you had attained your wish; if you had forced or
frightened a woman to be your partner till death do part,--you loving
her, she loathing you; you conscious, night and day, that your very love
had insured her misery, and that misery haunting you like a ghost!--that
sorrow I have saved you. May Providence permit me to complete my work,
and save you also from the most irredeemable of all crimes! Look into
your soul, then recall the thoughts which all day long, and not least at
the moment I crossed this threshold, were rising up, making reason dumb
and conscience blind, and then lay your hand on your heart and say, ‘I
am guiltless of a dream of murder.’”

The wretched man sprang up erect, menacing, and, meeting Kenelm’s calm,
steadfast, pitying gaze, dropped no less suddenly,--dropped on the
floor, covered his face with his hands, and a great cry came forth
between sob and howl.

“Brother,” said Kenelm, kneeling beside him, and twining his arm round
the man’s heaving breast, “it is over now; with that cry the demon that
maddened you has fled forever.”



CHAPTER XX.

WHEN, some time after, Kenelm quitted the room and joined Mrs. Bowles
below, he said cheerily, “All right; Tom and I are sworn friends. We are
going together to Luscombe the day after to-morrow,--Sunday; just write
a line to his uncle to prepare him for Tom’s visit, and send thither
his clothes, as we shall walk, and steal forth unobserved betimes in
the morning. Now go up and talk to him; he wants a mother’s soothing and
petting. He is a noble fellow at heart, and we shall be all proud of him
some day or other.”

As he walked towards the farmhouse, Kenelm encountered Mr. Lethbridge,
who said, “I have come from Mr. Saunderson’s, where I went in search of
you. There is an unexpected hitch in the negotiation for Mrs. Bawtrey’s
shop. After seeing you this morning I fell in with Mr. Travers’s
bailiff, and he tells me that her lease does not give her the power
to sublet without the Squire’s consent; and that as the premises were
originally let on very low terms to a favoured and responsible tenant,
Mr. Travers cannot be expected to sanction the transfer of the lease
to a poor basket-marker: in fact, though he will accept Mrs. Bawtrey’s
resignation, it must be in favour of an applicant whom he desires to
oblige. On hearing this, I rode over to the Park and saw Mr. Travers
himself. But he was obdurate to my pleadings. All I could get him to say
was, ‘Let the stranger who interests himself in the matter come and talk
to me. I should like to see the man who thrashed that brute Tom Bowles:
if he got the better of him perhaps he may get the better of me. Bring
him with you to my harvest-supper to-morrow evening.’ Now, will you
come?”

“Nay,” said Kenelm, reluctantly; “but if he only asks me in order to
gratify a very vulgar curiosity, I don’t think I have much chance of
serving Will Somers. What do you say?”

“The Squire is a good man of business, and, though no one can call him
unjust or grasping, still he is very little touched by sentiment; and
we must own that a sickly cripple like poor Will is not a very eligible
tenant. If, therefore, it depended only on your chance with the Squire,
I should not be very sanguine. But we have an ally in his daughter. She
is very fond of Jessie Wiles, and she has shown great kindness to Will.
In fact, a sweeter, more benevolent, sympathizing nature than that of
Cecilia Travers does not exist. She has great influence with her father,
and through her you may win him.”

“I particularly dislike having anything to do with women,” said Kenelm,
churlishly. “Parsons are accustomed to get round them. Surely, my dear
sir, you are more fit for that work than I am.”

“Permit me humbly to doubt that proposition; one does n’t get very
quickly round the women when one carries the weight of years on one’s
back. But whenever you want the aid of a parson to bring your own wooing
to a happy conclusion, I shall be happy, in my special capacity of
parson, to perform the ceremony required.”

“_Dii meliora_!” said Kenelm, gravely. “Some ills are too serious to be
approached even in joke. As for Miss Travers, the moment you call her
benevolent you inspire me with horror. I know too well what a benevolent
girl is,--officious, restless, fidgety, with a snub nose, and her pocket
full of tracts. I will not go to the harvest-supper.”

“Hist!” said the Parson, softly. They were now passing the cottage of
Mrs. Somers; and while Kenelm was haranguing against benevolent girls,
Mr. Lethbridge had paused before it, and was furtively looking in at the
window. “Hist! and come here,--gently.”

Kenelm obeyed, and looked in through the window. Will was seated; Jessie
Wiles had nestled herself at his feet, and was holding his hand in both
hers, looking up into his face. Her profile alone was seen, but its
expression was unutterably soft and tender. His face, bent downwards
towards her, wore a mournful expression; nay, the tears were rolling
silently down his cheeks. Kenelm listened and heard her say, “Don’t talk
so, Will, you break my heart; it is I who am not worthy of you.”

“Parson,” said Kenelm, as they walked on, “I must go to that confounded
harvest-supper. I begin to think there is something true in the
venerable platitude about love in a cottage. And Will Somers must be
married in haste, in order to repent at leisure.”

“I don’t see why a man should repent having married a good girl whom he
loves.”

“You don’t? Answer me candidly. Did you ever meet a man who repented
having married?”

“Of course I have; very often.”

“Well, think again, and answer as candidly. Did you ever meet a man who
repented not having married?”

The Parson mused, and was silent.

“Sir,” said Kenelm, “your reticence proves your honesty, and I respect
it.” So saying, he bounded off, and left the Parson crying out wildly,
“But--but--”



CHAPTER XXI.

MR. SAUNDERSON and Kenelm sat in the arbour: the former sipping his grog
and smoking his pipe; the latter looking forth into the summer night
skies with an earnest yet abstracted gaze, as if he were trying to count
the stars in the Milky Way.

“Ha!” said Mr. Saunderson, who was concluding an argument; “you see it
now, don’t you?”

“I? not a bit of it. You tell me that your grandfather was a farmer,
and your father was a farmer, and that you have been a farmer for thirty
years; and from these premises you deduce the illogical and irrational
conclusion that therefore your son must be a farmer.”

“Young man, you may think yourself very knowing ‘cause you have been at
the ‘Varsity, and swept away a headful of book-learning.”

“Stop,” quoth Kenelm. “You grant that a university is learned.”

“Well, I suppose so.”

“But how could it be learned if those who quitted it brought the
learning away? We leave it all behind us in the care of the tutors. But
I know what you were going to say,--that it is not because I had read
more books than you have that I was to give myself airs and pretend to
have more knowledge of life than a man of your years and experience.
Agreed, as a general rule. But does not every doctor, however wise and
skilful, prefer taking another doctor’s opinion about himself, even
though that other doctor has just started in practice? And seeing that
doctors, taking them as a body, are monstrous clever fellows, is not
the example they set us worth following? Does it not prove that no man,
however wise, is a good judge of his own case? Now, your son’s case
is really your case: you see it through the medium of your likings and
dislikings; and insist upon forcing a square peg into a round hole,
because in a round hole you, being a round peg, feel tight and
comfortable. Now I call that irrational.”

“I don’t see why my son has any right to fancy himself a square peg,”
 said the farmer, doggedly, “when his father and his grandfather and his
great-grandfather have been round pegs; and it is agin’ nature for
any creature not to take after its own kind. A dog is a pointer or
a sheep-dog according as its forebears were pointers or sheep-dogs.
There,” cried the farmer, triumphantly, shaking the ashes out of his
pipe. “I think I have posed you, young master!”

“No; for you have taken it for granted that the breeds have not been
crossed. But suppose that a sheep-dog has married a pointer, are you
sure that his son will not be more of a pointer than a sheep-dog?”

Mr. Saunderson arrested himself in the task of refilling his pipe, and
scratched his head.

“You see,” continued Kenelm, “that you have crossed the breed. You
married a tradesman’s daughter, and I dare say her grandfather and
great-grandfather were tradesmen too. Now, most sons take after their
mothers, and therefore Mr. Saunderson junior takes after his kind on the
distaff side, and comes into the world a square peg, which can only be
tight and comfortable in a square hole. It is no use arguing, Farmer:
your boy must go to his uncle; and there’s an end of the matter.”

“By goles!” said the farmer, “you seem to think you can talk me out of
my senses.”

“No; but I think if you had your own way you would talk your son into
the workhouse.”

“What! by sticking to the land like his father before him? Let a man
stick by the land, and the land will stick by him.”

“Let a man stick in the mud, and the mud will stick to him. You put
your heart in your farm, and your son would only put his foot into it.
Courage! Don’t you see that Time is a whirligig, and all things come
round? Every day somebody leaves the land and goes off into trade. By
and by he grows rich, and then his great desire is to get back to
the land again. He left it the son of a farmer: he returns to it as a
squire. Your son, when he gets to be fifty, will invest his savings in
acres, and have tenants of his own. Lord, how he will lay down the law
to them! I would not advise you to take a farm under him.”

“Catch me at it!” said the farmer. “He would turn all the contents of
the ‘pothecary’s shop into my fallows, and call it ‘progress.’”

“Let him physic the fallows when he has farms of his own: keep yours out
of his chemical clutches. Come, I shall tell him to pack up and be off
to his uncle’s next week?”

“Well, well,” said the farmer, in a resigned tone: “a wilful man must
e’en have his way.”

“And the best thing a sensible man can do is not to cross it. Mr.
Saunderson, give me your honest hand. You are one of those men who put
the sons of good fathers in mind of their own; and I think of mine when
I say ‘God bless you!’”

Quitting the farmer, Kenelm re-entered the house, and sought Mr.
Saunderson junior in his own room. He found that young gentleman still
up, and reading an eloquent tract on the Emancipation of the Human Race
from all Tyrannical Control,--Political, Social, Ecclesiastical, and
Domestic.

The lad looked up sulkily, and said, on encountering Kenelm’s
melancholic visage, “Ah! I see you have talked with the old governor,
and he’ll not hear of it.”

“In the first place,” answered Kenelm, “since you value yourself on
a superior education, allow me to advise you to study the English
language, as the forms of it are maintained by the elder authors, whom,
in spite of an Age of Progress, men of superior education esteem. No one
who has gone through that study; no one, indeed, who has studied the Ten
Commandments in the vernacular,--commits the mistake of supposing that
‘the old governor’ is a synonymous expression for ‘father.’ In the
second place, since you pretend to the superior enlightenment which
results from a superior education, learn to know better your own self
before you set up as a teacher of mankind. Excuse the liberty I take,
as your sincere well-wisher, when I tell you that you are at present
a conceited fool,--in short, that which makes one boy call another an
‘ass.’ But when one has a poor head he may redeem the average balance of
humanity by increasing the wealth of the heart. Try and increase yours.
Your father consents to your choice of your lot at the sacrifice of
all his own inclinations. This is a sore trial to a father’s pride, a
father’s affection; and few fathers make such sacrifices with a good
grace. I have thus kept my promise to you, and enforced your wishes on
Mr. Saunderson’s judgment, because I am sure you would have been a very
bad farmer. It now remains for you to show that you can be a very good
tradesman. You are bound in honour to me and to your father to try your
best to be so; and meanwhile leave the task of upsetting the world
to those who have no shop in it, which would go crash in the general
tumble. And so good-night to you.”

To these admonitory words, _sacro digna silentio_, Saunderson junior
listened with a dropping jaw and fascinated staring eyes. He felt like
an infant to whom the nurse has given a hasty shake, and who is too
stupefied by that operation to know whether he is hurt or not.

A minute after Kenelm had quitted the room he reappeared at the door,
and said in a conciliatory whisper, “Don’t take it to heart that I
called you a conceited fool and an ass. These terms are no doubt just as
applicable to myself. But there is a more conceited fool and a greater
ass than either of us; and that is the Age in which we have the
misfortune to be born,--an Age of Progress, Mr. Saunderson, junior!--an
Age of Prigs.”



BOOK III.



CHAPTER I.

IF there were a woman in the world who might be formed and fitted
to reconcile Kenelm Chillingly to the sweet troubles of love and the
pleasant bickerings of wedded life, one might reasonably suppose that
that woman could be found in Cecilia Travers. An only daughter and
losing her mother in childhood, she had been raised to the mistress-ship
of a household at an age in which most girls are still putting their
dolls to bed; and thus had early acquired that sense of responsibility,
accompanied with the habits of self-reliance, which seldom fails to give
a certain nobility to character; though almost as often, in the case of
women, it steals away the tender gentleness which constitutes the charm
of their sex.

It had not done so in the instance of Cecilia Travers, because she was
so womanlike that even the exercise of power could not make her manlike.
There was in the depth of her nature such an instinct of sweetness that
wherever her mind toiled and wandered it gathered and hoarded honey.

She had one advantage over most girls in the same rank of life,--she
had not been taught to fritter away such capacities for culture as
Providence gave her in the sterile nothingnesses which are called
feminine accomplishments. She did not paint figures out of drawing
in meagre water-colours; she had not devoted years of her life to the
inflicting on polite audiences the boredom of Italian bravuras, which
they could hear better sung by a third-rate professional singer in
a metropolitan music-hall. I am afraid she had no other female
accomplishments than those by which the sempstress or embroideress earns
her daily bread. That sort of work she loved, and she did it deftly.

But if she had not been profitlessly plagued by masters, Cecilia Travers
had been singularly favoured by her father’s choice of a teacher: no
great merit in him either. He had a prejudice against professional
governesses, and it chanced that among his own family connections was a
certain Mrs. Campion, a lady of some literary distinction, whose husband
had held a high situation in one of our public offices, and living, much
to his satisfaction, up to a very handsome income, had died, much to the
astonishment of others, without leaving a farthing behind him.

Fortunately, there were no children to provide for. A small government
pension was allotted to the widow; and as her husband’s house had been
made by her one of the pleasantest in London, she was popular enough to
be invited by numerous friends to their country seats; among others, by
Mr. Travers. She came intending to stay a fortnight. At the end of that
time she had grown so attached to Cecilia, and Cecilia to her, and her
presence had become so pleasant and so useful to her host, that
the Squire entreated her to stay and undertake the education of his
daughter. Mrs. Campion, after some hesitation, gratefully consented; and
thus Cecilia, from the age of eight to her present age of nineteen, had
the inestimable advantage of living in constant companionship with a
woman of richly cultivated mind, accustomed to hear the best criticisms
on the best books, and adding to no small accomplishment in literature
the refinement of manners and that sort of prudent judgment which result
from habitual intercourse with an intellectual and gracefully world-wise
circle of society: so that Cecilia herself, without being at all blue or
pedantic, became one of those rare young women with whom a well-educated
man can converse on equal terms; from whom he gains as much as he can
impart to her; while a man who, not caring much about books, is still
gentleman enough to value good breeding, felt a relief in exchanging the
forms of his native language without the shock of hearing that a bishop
was “a swell” or a croquet-party “awfully jolly.”

In a word, Cecilia was one of those women whom Heaven forms for man’s
helpmate; who, if he were born to rank and wealth, would, as his
partner, reflect on them a new dignity, and add to their enjoyment by
bringing forth their duties; who, not less if the husband she chose were
poor and struggling, would encourage, sustain, and soothe him, take her
own share of his burdens, and temper the bitterness of life with the
all-recompensing sweetness of her smile.

Little, indeed, as yet had she ever thought of love or of lovers. She
had not even formed to herself any of those ideals which float before
the eyes of most girls when they enter their teens. But of two things
she felt inly convinced: first, that she could never wed where she did
not love; and secondly, that where she did love it would be for life.

And now I close this sketch with a picture of the girl herself. She has
just come into her room from inspecting the preparations for the evening
entertainment which her father is to give to his tenants and rural
neighbours.

She has thrown aside her straw hat, and put down the large basket which
she has emptied of flowers. She pauses before the glass, smoothing back
the ruffled bands of her hair,--hair of a dark, soft chestnut, silky
and luxuriant,--never polluted, and never, so long as she lives, to be
polluted by auricomous cosmetics, far from that delicate darkness, every
tint of the colours traditionally dedicated to the locks of Judas.

Her complexion, usually of that soft bloom which inclines to paleness,
is now heightened into glow by exercise and sunlight. The features are
small and feminine; the eyes dark with long lashes; the mouth singularly
beautiful, with a dimple on either side, and parted now in a half-smile
at some pleasant recollection, giving a glimpse of small teeth
glistening as pearls. But the peculiar charm of her face is in an
expression of serene happiness, that sort of happiness which seems as if
it had never been interrupted by a sorrow, had never been troubled by a
sin,--that holy kind of happiness which belongs to innocence, the light
reflected from a heart and conscience alike at peace.



CHAPTER II.

IT was a lovely summer evening for the Squire’s rural entertainment. Mr.
Travers had some guests staying with him: they had dined early for
the occasion, and were now grouped with their host a little before six
o’clock on the lawn. The house was of irregular architecture, altered
or added to at various periods from the reign of Elizabeth to that of
Victoria: at one end, the oldest part, a gable with mullion windows;
at the other, the newest part, a flat-roofed wing, with modern sashes
opening to the ground, the intermediate part much hidden by a veranda
covered with creepers in full bloom. The lawn was a spacious table-land
facing the west, and backed by a green and gentle hill, crowned with
the ruins of an ancient priory. On one side of the lawn stretched a
flower-garden and pleasure-ground, originally planned by Repton; on the
opposite angles of the sward were placed two large marquees,--one for
dancing, the other for supper. Towards the south the view was left open,
and commanded the prospect of an old English park, not of the stateliest
character; not intersected with ancient avenues, nor clothed
with profitless fern as lairs for deer: but the park of a careful
agriculturist, uniting profit with show, the sward duly drained and
nourished, fit to fatten bullocks in an incredibly short time, and
somewhat spoilt to the eye by subdivisions of wire fence. Mr. Travers
was renowned for skilful husbandry, and the general management of
land to the best advantage. He had come into the estate while still in
childhood, and thus enjoyed the accumulations of a long minority. He had
entered the Guards at the age of eighteen, and having more command of
money than most of his contemporaries, though they might be of higher
rank and the sons of richer men, he had been much courted and much
plundered. At the age of twenty-five he found himself one of the leaders
of fashion, renowned chiefly for reckless daring where-ever honour could
be plucked out of the nettle danger: a steeple-chaser, whose exploits
made a quiet man’s hair stand on end; a rider across country, taking
leaps which a more cautious huntsman carefully avoided. Known at Paris
as well as in London, he had been admired by ladies whose smiles had
cost him duels, the marks of which still remained in glorious scars
on his person. No man ever seemed more likely to come to direst
grief before attaining the age of thirty, for at twenty-seven all the
accumulations of his minority were gone; and his estate, which, when he
came of age, was scarcely three thousand a year, but entirely at his own
disposal, was mortgaged up to its eyes.

His friends began to shake their heads and call him “poor fellow;” but,
with all his wild faults, Leopold Travers had been wholly pure from the
two vices out of which a man does not often redeem himself. He had never
drunk and he had never gambled. His nerves were not broken, his brain
was not besotted. There was plenty of health in him yet, mind and body.
At the critical period of his life he married for love, and his choice
was a most felicitous one. The lady had no fortune; but though handsome
and high-born, she had no taste for extravagance, and no desire for
other society than that of the man she loved. So when he said, “Let us
settle in the country and try our best to live on a few hundreds, lay
by, and keep the old place out of the market,” she consented with a
joyful heart: and marvel it was to all how this wild Leopold Travers
did settle down; did take to cultivating his home farm with his men from
sunrise to sunset like a common tenant-farmer; did contrive to pay the
interest on the mortgages, and keep his head above water. After some
years of pupilage in this school of thrift, during which his habits
became formed and his whole character braced, Leopold Travers suddenly
found himself again rich, through the wife whom he had so prudently
married without other dower than her love and her virtues. Her only
brother, Lord Eagleton, a Scotch peer, had been engaged in marriage to a
young lady, considered to be a rare prize in the lottery of wedlock.
The marriage was broken off under very disastrous circumstances; but the
young lord, good-looking and agreeable, was naturally expected to seek
speedy consolation in some other alliance. Nevertheless he did not
do so: he became a confirmed invalid, and died single, leaving to his
sister all in his power to save from the distant kinsman who succeeded
to his lands and title,--a goodly sum, which not only sufficed to pay
off the mortgages on Neesdale Park but bestowed on its owner a surplus
which the practical knowledge of country life that he had acquired
enabled him to devote with extraordinary profit to the general
improvement of his estate. He replaced tumble-down old farm buildings
with new constructions on the most approved principles; bought or
pensioned off certain slovenly incompetent tenants; threw sundry petty
holdings into large farms suited to the buildings he constructed;
purchased here and there small bits of land, commodious to the farms
they adjoined, and completing the integrity of his ring-fence; stubbed
up profitless woods which diminished the value of neighbouring arables
by obstructing sun and air and harbouring legions of rabbits; and
then, seeking tenants of enterprise and capital, more than doubled his
original yearly rental, and perhaps more than tripled the market value
of his property. Simultaneously with this acquisition of fortune, he
emerged from the inhospitable and unsocial obscurity which his previous
poverty had compelled, took an active part in county business, proved
himself an excellent speaker at public meetings, subscribed liberally to
the hunt, and occasionally joined in it,--a less bold but a wiser rider
than of yore. In short, as Themistocles boasted that he could make a
small state great, so Leopold Travers might boast with equal truth,
that, by his energies, his judgment, and the weight of his personal
character, he had made the owner of a property which had been at
his accession to it of third-rate rank in the county a personage so
considerable that no knight of the shire against whom he declared could
have been elected, and if he had determined to stand himself he would
have been chosen free of expense.

But he said, on being solicited to become a candidate, “When a man once
gives himself up to the care and improvement of a landed estate, he
has no time and no heart for anything else. An estate is an income or
a kingdom, according as the owner chooses to take it. I take it as a
kingdom, and I cannot be _roi faineant_, with a steward for _maire du
palais_. A king does not go into the House of Commons.”

Three years after this rise in the social ladder, Mrs. Travers was
seized with congestion of the lungs followed by pleurisy, and died after
less than a week’s illness. Leopold never wholly recovered her loss.
Though still young and always handsome, the idea of another wife, the
love of another woman, were notions which he dismissed from his, mind
with a quiet scorn. He was too masculine a creature to parade grief.
For some weeks, indeed, he shut himself up in his own room, so rigidly
secluded that he would not see even his daughter. But one morning he
appeared in his fields as usual, and from that day resumed his old
habits, and gradually renewed that cordial interchange of hospitalities
which had popularly distinguished him since his accession to wealth.
Still people felt that the man was changed; he was more taciturn,
more grave: if always just in his dealings, he took the harder side of
justice, where in his wife’s time he had taken the gentler. Perhaps, to
a man of strong will, the habitual intercourse with an amiable woman is
essential for those occasions in which Will best proves the fineness of
its temper by the facility with which it can be bent.

It may be said that Leopold Travers might have found such intercourse in
the intimate companionship of his own daughter. But she was a mere child
when his wife died, and she grew up to womanhood too insensibly for
him to note the change. Besides, where a man has found a wife his
all-in-all, a daughter can never supply her place. The very reverence
due to children precludes unrestrained confidence; and there is not
that sense of permanent fellowship in a daughter which a man has in a
wife,--any day a stranger may appear and carry her off from him. At all
events Leopold did not own in Cecilia the softening influence to
which he had yielded in her mother. He was fond of her, proud of her,
indulgent to her; but the indulgence had its set limits. Whatever she
asked solely for herself he granted; whatever she wished for matters
under feminine control--the domestic household, the parish school, the
alms-receiving poor--obtained his gentlest consideration. But when she
had been solicited by some offending out-of-door dependant or some petty
defaulting tenant to use her good offices in favour of the culprit, Mr.
Travers checked her interference by a firm “No,” though uttered in a
mild accent, and accompanied with a masculine aphorism to the effect
that “there would be no such things as strict justice and disciplined
order in the world if a man yielded to a woman’s pleadings in any matter
of business between man and man.” From this it will be seen that
Mr. Lethbridge had overrated the value of Cecilia’s alliance in the
negotiation respecting Mrs. Bawtrey’s premium and shop.



CHAPTER III.

IF, having just perused what has thus been written on the biographical
antecedents and mental characteristics of Leopold Travers, you, my dear
reader, were to be personally presented to that gentleman as he now
stands, the central figure of the group gathered round him, on his
terrace, you would probably be surprised,--nay, I have no doubt you
would say to yourself, “Not at all the sort of man I expected.” In that
slender form, somewhat below the middle height; in that fair countenance
which still, at the age of forty-eight, retains a delicacy of feature
and of colouring which is of almost womanlike beauty, and, from the
quiet placidity of its expression, conveys at first glance the notion of
almost womanlike mildness,--it would be difficult to recognize a man who
in youth had been renowned for reckless daring, in maturer years more
honourably distinguished for steadfast prudence and determined purpose,
and who, alike in faults or in merits, was as emphatically masculine as
a biped in trousers can possibly be.

Mr. Travers is listening to a young man of about two and twenty, the
eldest son of the richest nobleman of the county, and who intends to
start for the representation of the shire at the next general election,
which is close at hand. The Hon. George Belvoir is tall, inclined to be
stout, and will look well on the hustings. He has had those pains taken
with his education which an English peer generally does take with the
son intended to succeed to the representation of an honourable name and
the responsibilities of high station. If eldest sons do not often make
as great a figure in the world as their younger brothers, it is not
because their minds are less cultivated, but because they have less
motive power for action. George Belvoir was well read, especially
in that sort of reading which befits a future senator,--history,
statistics, political economy, so far as that dismal science is
compatible with the agricultural interest. He was also well-principled,
had a strong sense of discipline and duty, was prepared in politics
firmly to uphold as right whatever was proposed by his own party, and
to reject as wrong whatever was proposed by the other. At present he was
rather loud and noisy in the assertion of his opinions,--young men fresh
from the University generally are. It was the secret wish of Mr. Travers
that George Belvoir should become his son-in-law; less because of his
rank and wealth (though such advantages were not of a nature to be
despised by a practical man like Leopold Travers) than on account of
those qualities in his personal character which were likely to render
him an excellent husband.

Seated on wire benches, just without the veranda, but shaded by its
fragrant festoons, were Mrs. Campion and three ladies, the wives of
neighbouring squires. Cecilia stood a little apart from them, bending
over a long-backed Skye terrier, whom she was teaching to stand on his
hind legs.

But see, the company are arriving! How suddenly that green space, ten
minutes ago so solitary, has become animated and populous!

Indeed the park now presented a very lively appearance: vans, carts, and
farmers’ chaises were seen in crowded procession along the winding road;
foot-passengers were swarming towards the house in all directions. The
herds and flocks in the various enclosures stopped grazing to stare at
the unwonted invaders of their pasture: yet the orderly nature of their
host imparted a respect for order to his ruder visitors; not even a
turbulent boy attempted to scale the fences, or creep through their
wires; all threaded the narrow turnstiles which gave egress from one
subdivision of the sward to another.

Mr. Travers turned to George Belvoir: “I see old farmer Steen’s
yellow gig. Mind how you talk to him, George. He is full of whims and
crotchets, and if you once brush his feathers the wrong way he will be
as vindictive as a parrot. But he is the man who must second you at
the nomination. No other tenant-farmer carries the same weight with his
class.”

“I suppose,” said George, “that if Mr. Steen is the best man to second
me at the hustings, he is a good speaker?”

“A good speaker? in one sense he is. He never says a word too much. The
last time he seconded the nomination of the man you are to succeed, this
was his speech: ‘Brother Electors, for twenty years I have been one of
the judges at our county cattle-show. I know one animal from another.
Looking at the specimens before us to-day none of them are as good
of their kind as I’ve seen elsewhere. But if you choose Sir John Hogg
you’ll not get the wrong sow by the ear!’”

“At least,” said George, after a laugh at this sample of eloquence
unadorned, “Mr. Steen does not err on the side of flattery in his
commendations of a candidate. But what makes him such an authority with
the farmers? Is he a first-rate agriculturist?”

“In thrift, yes!--in spirit, no! He says that all expensive experiments
should be left to gentlemen farmers. He is an authority with other
tenants: firstly, because he is a very keen censor of their landlords;
secondly, because he holds himself thoroughly independent of his own;
thirdly, because he is supposed to have studied the political bearings
of questions that affect the landed interest, and has more than once
been summoned to give his opinion on such subjects to Committees of both
Houses of Parliament. Here he comes. Observe, when I leave you to talk
to him: firstly, that you confess utter ignorance of practical farming;
nothing enrages him like the presumption of a gentleman farmer like
myself: secondly, that you ask his opinion on the publication of
Agricultural Statistics, just modestly intimating that you, as at
present advised, think that inquisitorial researches into a man’s
business involve principles opposed to the British Constitution. And on
all that he may say as to the shortcomings of landlords in general, and
of your father in particular, make no reply, but listen with an air of
melancholy conviction. How do you do, Mr. Steen, and how’s the mistress?
Why have you not brought her with you?”

“My good woman is in the straw again, Squire. Who is that youngster?”

“Hist! let me introduce Mr. Belvoir.”

Mr. Belvoir offers his hand.

“No, sir!” vociferates Steen, putting both his own hands behind him. “No
offence, young gentleman. But I don’t give my hand at first sight to
a man who wants to shake a vote out of it. Not that I know anything
against you. But, if you be a farmer’s friend rabbits are not, and my
lord your father is a great one for rabbits.”

“Indeed you are mistaken there!” cries George, with vehement
earnestness. Mr. Travers gave him a nudge, as much as to say, “Hold your
tongue.” George understood the hint, and is carried off meekly by Mr.
Steen down the solitude of the plantations.

The guests now arrived fast and thick. They consisted chiefly not only
of Mr. Travers’s tenants, but of farmers and their families within
the range of eight or ten miles from the Park, with a few of the
neighbouring gentry and clergy.

It was not a supper intended to include the labouring class; for Mr.
Travers had an especial dislike to the custom of exhibiting peasants
at feeding-time, as if they were so many tamed animals of an inferior
species. When he entertained work-people, he made them comfortable in
their own way; and peasants feel more comfortable when not invited to be
stared out of countenance.

“Well, Lethbridge,” said Mr. Travers, “where is the young gladiator you
promised to bring?”

“I did bring him, and he was by my side not a minute ago. He has
suddenly given me the slip: ‘abiit, evasit, erupit.’ I was looking round
for him in vain when you accosted me.”

“I hope he has not seen some guest of mine whom he wants to fight.”

“I hope not,” answered the Parson, doubtfully. “He’s a strange fellow.
But I think you will be pleased with him; that is, if he can be found.
Oh, Mr. Saunderson, how do you do? Have you seen your visitor?”

“No, sir, I have just come. My mistress, Squire, and my three girls; and
this is my son.”

“A hearty welcome to all,” said the graceful Squire; (turning to
Saunderson junior), “I suppose you are fond of dancing. Get yourself a
partner. We may as well open the ball.”

“Thank you, sir, but I never dance,” said Saunderson junior, with an air
of austere superiority to an amusement which the March of Intellect had
left behind.

“Then you’ll have less to regret when you are grown old. But the band
is striking up; we must adjourn to the marquee. George” (Mr. Belvoir,
escaped from Mr. Steen, had just made his appearance), “will you give
your arm to Cecilia, to whom I think you are engaged for the first
quadrille?”

“I hope,” said George to Cecilia, as they walked towards the marquee,
“that Mr. Steen is not an average specimen of the electors I shall have
to canvass. Whether he has been brought up to honour his own father and
mother I can’t pretend to say, but he seems bent upon teaching me not
to honour mine. Having taken away my father’s moral character upon the
unfounded allegation that he loved rabbits better than mankind, he then
assailed my innocent mother on the score of religion, and inquired when
she was going over to the Church of Rome, basing that inquiry on the
assertion that she had taken away her custom from a Protestant grocer
and conferred it on a Papist.”

“Those are favourable signs, Mr. Belvoir. Mr. Steen always prefaces a
kindness by a great deal of incivility. I asked him once to lend me a
pony, my own being suddenly taken lame, and he seized that opportunity
to tell me that my father was an impostor in pretending to be a judge of
cattle; that he was a tyrant, screwing his tenants in order to indulge
extravagant habits of hospitality; and implied that it would be a
great mercy if we did not live to apply to him, not for a pony, but for
parochial relief. I went away indignant. But he sent me the pony. I am
sure he will give you his vote.”

“Meanwhile,” said George, with a timid attempt at gallantry, as they now
commenced the quadrille, “I take encouragement from the belief that I
have the good wishes of Miss Travers. If ladies had votes, as Mr. Mill
recommends, why, then--”

“Why, then, I should vote as Papa does,” said Miss Travers, simply. “And
if women had votes, I suspect there would be very little peace in any
household where they did not vote as the man at the head of it wished
them.”

“But I believe, after all,” said the aspirant to Parliament, seriously,
“that the advocates for female suffrage would limit it to women
independent of masculine control, widows and spinsters voting in right
of their own independent tenements.”

“In that case,” said Cecilia, “I suppose they would still generally go
by the opinion of some man they relied on, or make a very silly choice
if they did not.”

“You underrate the good sense of your sex.”

“I hope not. Do you underrate the good sense of yours, if, in far more
than half the things appertaining to daily life, the wisest men say,
‘Better leave _them_ to the _women_’? But you’re forgetting the figure,
_cavalier seul_.”

“By the way,” said George, in another interval of the dance, “do
you know a Mr. Chillingly, the son of Sir Peter, of Exmundham, in
Westshire?”

“No; why do you ask?”

“Because I thought I caught a glimpse of his face: it was just as Mr.
Steen was bearing me away down that plantation. From what you say, I
must suppose I was mistaken.”

“Chillingly! But surely some persons were talking yesterday at dinner
about a young gentleman of that name as being likely to stand for
Westshire at the next election, but who had made a very unpopular and
eccentric speech on the occasion of his coming of age.”

“The same man: I was at college with him,--a very singular character. He
was thought clever; won a prize or two; took a good degree: but it was
generally said that he would have deserved a much higher one if some of
his papers had not contained covert jests either on the subject or the
examiners. It is a dangerous thing to set up as a humourist in practical
life,--especially public life. They say Mr. Pitt had naturally a great
deal of wit and humour, but he wisely suppressed any evidence of those
qualities in his Parliamentary speeches. Just like Chillingly, to turn
into ridicule the important event of festivities in honour of his coming
of age,--an occasion that can never occur again in the whole course of
his life.”

“It was bad taste,” said Cecilia, “if intentional. But perhaps he was
misunderstood, or taken by surprise.”

“Misunderstood,--possibly; but taken by surprise,--no. The coolest
fellow I ever met. Not that I have met him very often. Latterly, indeed,
at Cambridge he lived much alone. It was said that he read hard. I doubt
that; for my rooms were just over his, and I know that he was much
more frequently out of doors than in. He rambled a good deal about the
country on foot. I have seen him in by-lanes a dozen miles distant from
the town when I have been riding back from the hunt. He was fond of the
water, and pulled a mighty strong oar, but declined to belong to our
University crew; yet if ever there was a fight between undergraduates
and bargemen, he was sure to be in the midst of it. Yes, a very great
oddity indeed, full of contradictions, for a milder, quieter fellow in
general intercourse you could not see; and as for the jests of which
he was accused in his examination papers, his very face should
have acquitted him of the charge before any impartial jury of his
countrymen.”

“You sketch quite an interesting picture of him,” said Cecilia. “I wish
we did know him: he would be worth seeing.”

“And, once seen, you would not easily forget him,--a dark, handsome
face, with large melancholy eyes, and with one of those spare slender
figures which enable a man to disguise his strength, as a fraudulent
billiard-player disguises his play.”

The dance had ceased during this conversation, and the speakers were now
walking slowly to and fro the lawn amid the general crowd.

“How well your father plays the part of host to these rural folks!” said
George, with a secret envy. “Do observe how quietly he puts that shy
young farmer at his ease, and now how kindly he deposits that lame old
lady on the bench, and places the stool under her feet. What a canvasser
he would be! and how young he still looks, and how monstrous handsome!”

This last compliment was uttered as Travers, having made the old
lady comfortable, had joined the three Miss Saundersons, dividing his
pleasant smile equally between them; and seemingly unconscious of the
admiring glances which many another rural beauty directed towards him
as he passed along. About the man there was a certain indescribable
elegance, a natural suavity free from all that affectation, whether
of forced heartiness or condescending civility, which too often
characterizes the well-meant efforts of provincial magnates to
accommodate themselves to persons of inferior station and breeding. It
is a great advantage to a man to have passed his early youth in that
most equal and most polished of all democracies,--the best society of
large capitals. And to such acquired advantage Leopold Travers added the
inborn qualities that please.

Later in the evening Travers, again accosting Mr. Lethbridge, said, “I
have been talking much to the Saundersons about that young man who did
us the inestimable service of punishing your ferocious parishioner,
Tom Bowles; and all I hear so confirms the interest your own
account inspired me with that I should really like much to make his
acquaintance. Has not he turned up yet?”

“No; I fear he must have gone. But in that case I hope you will take
his generous desire to serve my poor basket-maker into benevolent
consideration.”

“Do not press me; I feel so reluctant to refuse any request of yours.
But I have my own theory as to the management of an estate, and my
system does not allow of favour. I should wish to explain that to the
young stranger himself; for I hold courage in such honour that I do not
like a brave man to leave these parts with an impression that Leopold
Travers is an ungracious churl. However, he may not have gone. I will
go and look for him myself. Just tell Cecilia that she has danced enough
with the gentry, and that I have told Farmer Turby’s son, a fine young
fellow and a capital rider across country, that I expect him to show my
daughter that he can dance as well as he rides.”



CHAPTER IV.

QUITTING Mr. Lethbridge, Travers turned with quick step towards the more
solitary part of the grounds. He did not find the object of his search
in the walks of the plantation; and, on taking the circuit of his
demesne, wound his way back towards the lawn through a sequestered rocky
hollow in the rear of the marquee, which had been devoted to a fernery.
Here he came to a sudden pause; for, seated a few yards before him on
a gray crag, and the moonlight full on his face, he saw a solitary man,
looking upwards with a still and mournful gaze, evidently absorbed in
abstract contemplation.

Recalling the description of the stranger which he had heard from Mr.
Lethbridge and the Saundersons, Mr. Travers felt sure that he had come
on him at last. He approached gently; and, being much concealed by the
tall ferns, Kenelm (for that itinerant it was) did not see him advance,
until he felt a hand on his shoulder, and, turning round, beheld a
winning smile and heard a pleasant voice.

“I think I am not mistaken,” said Leopold Travers, “in assuming you to
be the gentleman whom Mr. Lethbridge promised to introduce to me, and
who is staying with my tenant, Mr. Saunderson?”

Kenelm rose and bowed. Travers saw at once that it was the bow of a man
in his own world, and not in keeping with the Sunday costume of a petty
farmer. “Nay,” said he, “let us talk seated;” and placing himself on the
crag, he made room for Kenelm beside him.

“In the first place,” resumed Travers, “I must thank you for having
done a public service in putting down the brute force which has long
tyrannized over the neighbourhood. Often in my young days I have felt
the disadvantage of height and sinews, whenever it would have been a
great convenience to terminate dispute or chastise insolence by a
resort to man’s primitive weapons; but I never more lamented my physical
inferiority than on certain occasions when I would have given my ears to
be able to thrash Tom Bowles myself. It has been as great a disgrace to
my estate that that bully should so long have infested it as it is
to the King of Italy not to be able with all his armies to put down a
brigand in Calabria.”

“Pardon me, Mr. Travers, but I am one of those rare persons who do not
like to hear ill of their friends. Mr. Thomas Bowles is a particular
friend of mine.”

“Eh!” cried Travers, aghast. “‘Friend!’ you are joking.

“You would not accuse me of joking if you knew me better. But surely you
have felt that there are few friends one likes more cordially, and ought
to respect more heedfully, than the enemy with whom one has just made it
up.”

“You say well, and I accept the rebuke,” said Travers, more and more
surprised. “And I certainly have less right to abuse Mr. Bowles than
you have, since I had not the courage to fight him. To turn to another
subject less provocative. Mr. Lethbridge has told me of your amiable
desire to serve two of his young parishioners, Will Somers and Jessie
Wiles, and of your generous offer to pay the money Mrs. Bawtrey demands
for the transfer of her lease. To that negotiation my consent is
necessary, and that consent I cannot give. Shall I tell you why?”

“Pray do. Your reasons may admit of argument.”

“Every reason admits of argument,” said Mr. Travers, amused at the calm
assurance of a youthful stranger in anticipating argument with a skilful
proprietor on the management of his own property. “I do not, however,
tell you my reasons for the sake of argument, but in vindication of my
seeming want of courtesy towards yourself. I have had a very hard and a
very difficult task to perform in bringing the rental of my estate up
to its proper value. In doing so, I have been compelled to adopt one
uniform system, equally applied to my largest and my pettiest holdings.
That system consists in securing the best and safest tenants I can,
at the rents computed by a valuer in whom I have confidence. To this
system, universally adopted on my estate, though it incurred much
unpopularity at first, I have at length succeeded in reconciling the
public opinion of my neighbourhood. People began by saying I was
hard; they now acknowledge I am just. If I once give way to favour or
sentiment, I unhinge my whole system. Every day I am subjected to moving
solicitations. Lord Twostars, a keen politician, begs me to give a
vacant farm to a tenant because he is an excellent canvasser, and has
always voted straight with the party. Mrs. Fourstars, a most benevolent
woman, entreats me not to dismiss another tenant, because he is in
distressed circumstances and has a large family; very good reasons
perhaps for my excusing him an arrear, or allowing him a retiring
pension, but the worst reasons in the world for letting him continue to
ruin himself and my land. Now, Mrs. Bawtrey has a small holding on lease
at the inadequate rent of L8 a year. She asks L45 for its transfer, but
she can’t transfer the lease without my consent; and I can get L12 a
year as a moderate rental from a large choice of competent tenants. It
will better answer me to pay her the L45 myself, which I have no doubt
the incoming tenant would pay me back, at least in part; and if he did
not, the additional rent would be good interest for my expenditure.
Now, you happen to take a sentimental interest, as you pass through the
village, in the loves of a needy cripple whose utmost industry has but
served to save himself from parish relief, and a giddy girl without a
sixpence, and you ask me to accept these very equivocal tenants instead
of substantial ones, and at a rent one-third less than the market value.
Suppose that I yielded to your request, what becomes of my reputation
for practical, business-like justice? I shall have made an inroad into
the system by which my whole estate is managed, and have invited all
manner of solicitations on the part of friends and neighbours, which I
could no longer consistently refuse, having shown how easily I can be
persuaded into compliance by a stranger whom I may never see again. And
are you sure, after all, that, if you did prevail on me, you would do
the individual good you aim at? It is, no doubt, very pleasant to think
one has made a young couple happy. But if that young couple fail in
keeping the little shop to which you would transplant them (and
nothing more likely: peasants seldom become good shopkeepers), and find
themselves, with a family of children, dependent solely, not on the arm
of a strong labourer, but the ten fingers of a sickly cripple, who makes
clever baskets, for which there is but slight and precarious demand in
the neighbourhood, may you not have insured the misery of the couple you
wished to render happy?”

“I withdraw all argument,” said Kenelm, with an aspect so humiliated and
dejected, that it would have softened a Greenland bear, or a Counsel for
the Prosecution. “I am more and more convinced that of all the shams in
the world that of benevolence is the greatest. It seems so easy to
do good, and it is so difficult to do it. Everywhere, in this hateful
civilized life, one runs one’s head against a system. A system, Mr.
Travers, is man’s servile imitation of the blind tyranny of what in our
ignorance we call ‘Natural Laws,’ a mechanical something through which
the world is ruled by the cruelty of General Principles, to the utter
disregard of individual welfare. By Natural Laws creatures prey on each
other, and big fishes eat little ones upon system. It is, nevertheless,
a hard thing for the little fish. Every nation, every town, every
hamlet, every occupation, has a system, by which, somehow or other, the
pond swarms with fishes, of which a great many inferiors contribute to
increase the size of a superior. It is an idle benevolence to keep
one solitary gudgeon out of the jaws of a pike. Here am I doing what I
thought the simplest thing in the world, asking a gentleman, evidently
as good-natured as myself, to allow an old woman to let her premises to
a deserving young couple, and paying what she asks for it out of my own
money. And I find that I am running against a system, and invading all
the laws by which a rental is increased and an estate improved. Mr.
Travers, you have no cause for regret in not having beaten Tom Bowles.
You have beaten his victor, and I now give up all dream of further
interference with the Natural Laws that govern the village which I
have visited in vain. I had meant to remove Tom Bowles from that quiet
community. I shall now leave him to return to his former habits,--to
marry Jessie Wiles, which he certainly will do, and--”

“Hold!” cried Mr. Travers. “Do you mean to say that you can induce Tom
Bowles to leave the village?”

“I had induced him to do it, provided Jessie Wiles married the
basket-maker; but, as that is out of the question, I am bound to tell
him so, and he will stay.”

“But if he left, what would become of his business? His mother could
not keep it on; his little place is a freehold; the only house in the
village that does not belong to me, or I should have ejected him long
ago. Would he sell the premises to me?”

“Not if he stays and marries Jessie Wiles. But if he goes with me to
Luscombe and settles in that town as a partner to his uncle, I suppose
he would be too glad to sell a house of which he can have no pleasant
recollections. But what then? You cannot violate your system for the
sake of a miserable forge.”

“It would not violate my system if, instead of yielding to a sentiment,
I gained an advantage; and, to say truth, I should be very glad to buy
that forge and the fields that go with it.”

“‘Tis your affair now, not mine, Mr. Travers. I no longer presume to
interfere. I leave the neighbourhood to-morrow: see if you can negotiate
with Mr. Bowles. I have the honour to wish you a good evening.”

“Nay, young gentleman, I cannot allow you to quit me thus. You have
declined apparently to join the dancers, but you will at least join the
supper. Come!”

“Thank you sincerely, no. I came here merely on the business which your
system has settled.”

“But I am not sure that it is settled.” Here Mr. Travers wound his arm
within Kenelm’s, and looking him full in the face, said, “I know that
I am speaking to a gentleman at least equal in rank to myself, but as
I enjoy the melancholy privilege of being the older man, do not think
I take an unwarrantable liberty in asking if you object to tell me your
name. I should like to introduce you to my daughter, who is very partial
to Jessie Wiles and to Will Somers. But I can’t venture to inflame her
imagination by designating you as a prince in disguise.”

“Mr. Travers, you express yourself with exquisite delicacy. But I
am just starting in life, and I shrink from mortifying my father by
associating my name with a signal failure. Suppose I were an anonymous
contributor, say, to ‘The Londoner,’ and I had just brought that
highly intellectual journal into discredit by a feeble attempt at
a good-natured criticism or a generous sentiment, would that be the
fitting occasion to throw off the mask, and parade myself to a mocking
world as the imbecile violator of an established system? Should I not,
in a moment so untoward, more than ever desire to merge my insignificant
unit in the mysterious importance which the smallest Singular obtains
when he makes himself a Plural, and speaks not as ‘I,’ but as ‘We’?
_We_ are insensible to the charm of young ladies; _We_ are not bribed
by suppers; _We_, like the witches of ‘Macbeth,’ have no name on earth;
_We_ are the greatest wisdom of the greatest number; _We_ are so upon
system; _We_ salute you, Mr. Travers, and depart unassailable.”

Here Kenelm rose, doffed and replaced his hat in majestic salutation,
turned towards the entrance of the fernery, and found himself suddenly
face to face with George Belvoir, behind whom followed, with a throng
of guests, the fair form of Cecilia. George Belvoir caught Kenelm by the
hand, and exclaimed, “Chillingly! I thought I could not be mistaken.”

“Chillingly!” echoed Leopold Travers from behind. “Are you the son of my
old friend Sir Peter?”

Thus discovered and environed, Kenelm did not lose his wonted presence
of mind; he turned round to Leopold Travers, who was now close in his
rear, and whispered, “If my father was your friend, do not disgrace his
son. Do not say I am a failure. Deviate from your system, and let Will
Somers succeed Mrs. Bawtrey.” Then reverting his face to Mr. Belvoir, he
said tranquilly, “Yes; we have met before.”

“Cecilia,” said Travers, now interposing, “I am happy to introduce to
you as Mr. Chillingly, not only the son of an old friend of mine,
not only the knight-errant of whose gallant conduct on behalf of your
protegee Jessie Wiles we have heard so much, but the eloquent arguer who
has conquered my better judgment in a matter on which I thought myself
infallible. Tell Mr. Lethbridge that I accept Will Somers as a tenant
for Mrs. Bawtrey’s premises.”

Kenelm grasped the Squire’s hand cordially. “May it be in my power to do
a kind thing to you, in spite of any system to the contrary!”

“Mr. Chillingly, give your arm to my daughter. You will not now object
to join the dancers?”



CHAPTER V.

CECILIA stole a shy glance at Kenelm as the two emerged from the fernery
into the open space of the lawn. His countenance pleased her. She
thought she discovered much latent gentleness under the cold and
mournful gravity of its expression; and, attributing the silence he
maintained to some painful sense of an awkward position in the abrupt
betrayal of his incognito, sought with womanly tact to dispel his
supposed embarrassment.

“You have chosen a delightful mode of seeing the country this lovely
summer weather, Mr. Chillingly. I believe such pedestrian exercises are
very common with university students during the long vacation.”

“Very common, though they generally wander in packs like wild dogs or
Australian dingoes. It is only a tame dog that one finds on the road
travelling by himself; and then, unless he behaves very quietly, it is
ten to one that he is stoned as a mad dog.”

“But I am afraid, from what I hear, that you have not been travelling
very quietly.”

“You are quite right, Miss Travers, and I am a sad dog if not a mad one.
But pardon me: we are nearing the marquee; the band is striking up, and,
alas! I am not a dancing dog.”

He released Cecilia’s arm, and bowed.

“Let us sit here a while, then,” said she, motioning to a garden-bench.
“I have no engagement for the next dance, and, as I am a little tired, I
shall be glad of a reprieve.”

Kenelm sighed, and, with the air of a martyr stretching himself on the
rack, took his place beside the fairest girl in the county.

“You were at college with Mr. Belvoir?”

“I was.”

“He was thought clever there?”

“I have not a doubt of it.”

“You know he is canvassing our county for the next election. My father
takes a warm interest in his success, and thinks he will be a useful
member of Parliament.”

“Of that I am certain. For the first five years he will be called
pushing, noisy, and conceited, much sneered at by men of his own age,
and coughed down on great occasions; for the five following years he
will be considered a sensible man in committees, and a necessary feature
in debate; at the end of those years he will be an under-secretary; in
five years more he will be a Cabinet Minister, and the representative of
an important section of opinions; he will be an irreproachable private
character, and his wife will be seen wearing the family diamonds at all
the great parties. She will take an interest in politics and theology;
and if she die before him, her husband will show his sense of wedded
happiness by choosing another lady, equally fitted to wear the family
diamonds and to maintain the family consequences.”

In spite of her laughter, Cecilia felt a certain awe at the solemnity of
voice and manner with which Kenelm delivered these oracular sentences,
and the whole prediction seemed strangely in unison with her own
impressions of the character whose fate was thus shadowed out.

“Are you a fortune-teller, Mr. Chillingly?” she asked, falteringly, and
after a pause.

“As good a one as any whose hand you could cross with a shilling.”

“Will you tell me my fortune?”

“No; I never tell the fortunes of ladies, because your sex is credulous,
and a lady might believe what I tell her. And when we believe such and
such is to be our fate, we are too apt to work out our life into the
verification of the belief. If Lady Macbeth had disbelieved in the
witches, she would never have persuaded her lord to murder Duncan.”

“But can you not predict me a more cheerful fortune than that tragical
illustration of yours seems to threaten?”

“The future is never cheerful to those who look on the dark side of
the question. Mr. Gray is too good a poet for people to read nowadays,
otherwise I should refer you to his lines in the ‘Ode to Eton
College,’--


   “‘See how all around us wait
    The ministers of human fate,
      And black Misfortune’s baleful train.’


“Meanwhile it is something to enjoy the present. We are young; we
are listening to music; there is no cloud over the summer stars; our
conscience is clear; our hearts untroubled: why look forward in search
of happiness? shall we ever be happier than we are at this moment?”

Here Mr. Travers came up. “We are going to supper in a few minutes,”
 said he; “and before we lose sight of each other, Mr. Chillingly, I wish
to impress on you the moral fact that one good turn deserves another. I
have yielded to your wish, and now you must yield to mine. Come and stay
a few days with me, and see your benevolent intentions carried out.”

Kenelm paused. Now that he was discovered, why should he not pass a few
days among his equals? Realities or shams might be studied with squires
no less than with farmers; besides, he had taken a liking to Travers.
That graceful _ci-devant_ Wildair, with the slight form and the delicate
face, was unlike rural squires in general. Kenelm paused, and then said
frankly,--

“I accept your invitation. Would the middle of next week suit you?”

“The sooner the better. Why not to-morrow?”

“To-morrow I am pre-engaged to an excursion with Mr. Bowles. That may
occupy two or three days, and meanwhile I must write home for other
garments than those in which I am a sham.”

“Come any day you like.”

“Agreed.”

“Agreed; and, hark! the supper-bell.”

“Supper,” said Kenelm, offering his arm to Miss Travers,--“supper is a
word truly interesting, truly poetical. It associates itself with the
entertainments of the ancients, with the Augustan age, with Horace and
Maecenas; with the only elegant but too fleeting period of the modern
world; with the nobles and wits of Paris, when Paris had wits and
nobles; with Moliere and the warm-hearted Duke who is said to have been
the original of Moliere’s Misanthrope; with Madame de Sevigne and the
Racine whom that inimitable letter-writer denied to be a poet; with
Swift and Bolingbroke; with Johnson, Goldsmith, and Garrick. Epochs are
signalized by their eatings. I honour him who revives the Golden Age of
suppers.” So saying, his face brightened.



CHAPTER VI.


KENELM CHILLINGLY, ESQ., TO SIR PETER CHILLINGLY, BART., ETC.

MY DEAR FATHER,--I am alive and unmarried. Providence has watched over
me in these respects; but I have had narrow escapes. Hitherto I have not
acquired much worldly wisdom in my travels. It is true that I have been
paid two shillings as a day labourer, and, in fact, have fairly earned
at least six shillings more; but against that additional claim I
generously set off, as an equivalent, my board and lodging. On the other
hand, I have spent forty-five pounds out of the fifty which I devoted
to the purchase of experience. But I hope you will be a gainer by
that investment. Send an order to Mr. William Somers, basket-maker,
Graveleigh, -----shire, for the hampers and game-baskets you require,
and I undertake to say that you will save twenty per cent on that
article (all expenses of carriage deducted) and do a good action into
the bargain. You know, from long habit, what a good action is worth
better than I do. I dare say you will be more pleased to learn than I
am to record the fact that I have been again decoyed into the society of
ladies and gentlemen, and have accepted an invitation to pass a few days
at Neesdale Park with Mr. Travers,--christened Leopold, who calls you
“his old friend,”--a term which I take for granted belongs to that class
of poetic exaggeration in which the “dears” and “darlings” of conjugal
intercourse may be categorized. Having for that visit no suitable
garments in my knapsack, kindly tell Jenkes to forward me a portmanteau
full of those which I habitually wore as Kenelm Chillingly, directed
to me at “Neesdale Park, near Beaverston.” Let me find it there on
Wednesday.

I leave this place to-morrow morning in company with a friend of the
name of Bowles: no relation to the reverend gentleman of that name who
held the doctrine that a poet should bore us to death with fiddle-faddle
minutia of natural objects in preference to that study of the
insignificant creature Man, in his relations to his species, to which
Mr. Pope limited the range of his inferior muse; and who, practising as
he preached, wrote some very nice verses, to which the Lake school and
its successors are largely indebted. My Mr. Bowles has exercised his
faculty upon Man, and has a powerful inborn gift in that line which
only requires cultivation to render him a match for any one. His more
masculine nature is at present much obscured by that passing cloud
which, in conventional language, is called “a hopeless attachment.” But
I trust, in the course of our excursion, which is to be taken on foot,
that this vapour may consolidate by motion, as some old-fashioned
astronomers held that the nebula does consolidate into a matter-of-fact
world. Is it Rochefoucauld who says that a man is never more likely to
form a hopeful attachment for one than when his heart is softened by a
hopeless attachment to another? May it be long, my dear father, before
you condole with me on the first or congratulate me on the second.

   Your affectionate son,

     KENELM.

Direct to me at Mr. Travers’s. Kindest love to my mother.


The answer to this letter is here subjoined as the most convenient place
for its insertion, though of course it was not received till some days
after the date of my next chapter.


SIR PETER CHILLINGLY, BART., TO KENELM CHILLINGLY, ESQ.

MY DEAR Boy,--With this I despatch the portmanteau you require to the
address that you give. I remember well Leopold Travers when he was in
the Guards,--a very handsome and a very wild young fellow. But he
had much more sense than people gave him credit for, and frequented
intellectual society; at least I met him very often at my friend
Campion’s, whose house was then the favourite rendezvous of
distinguished persons. He had very winning manners, and one could not
help taking an interest in him. I was very glad when I heard he had
married and reformed. Here I beg to observe that a man who contracts a
taste for low company may indeed often marry, but he seldom reforms when
he does so. And, on the whole, I should be much pleased to hear that the
experience which has cost you forty-five pounds had convinced you that
you might be better employed than earning two, or even six shillings as
a day-labourer.

I have not given your love to your mother, as you requested. In fact,
you have placed me in a very false position towards that other author of
your eccentric being. I could only guard you from the inquisition of the
police and the notoriety of descriptive hand-bills by allowing my lady
to suppose that you had gone abroad with the Duke of Clairville and his
family. It is easy to tell a fib, but it is very difficult to untell
it. However, as soon as you have made up your mind to resume your normal
position among ladies and gentlemen, I should be greatly obliged if
you would apprise me. I don’t wish to keep a fib on my conscience a
day longer than may be necessary to prevent the necessity of telling
another.

From what you say of Mr. Bowles’s study of Man, and his inborn talent
for that scientific investigation, I suppose that he is a professed
Metaphysician, and I should be glad of his candid opinion upon the
Primary Basis of Morals, a subject upon which I have for three years
meditated the consideration of a critical paper. But having lately read
a controversy thereon between two eminent philosophers, in which each
accuses the other of not understanding him, I have resolved for the
present to leave the Basis in its unsettled condition.

You rather alarm me when you say you have had a narrow escape from
marriage. Should you, in order to increase the experience you set out
to acquire, decide on trying the effect of a Mrs. Chillingly upon your
nervous system, it would be well to let me know a little beforehand, so
that I might prepare your mother’s mind for that event. Such household
trifles are within her special province; and she would be much put out
if a Mrs. Chillingly dropped on her unawares.

This subject, however, is too serious to admit of a jest even between
two persons who understand, so well as you and I do, the secret cipher
by which each other’s outward style of jest is to be gravely interpreted
into the irony which says one thing and means another. My dear boy, you
are very young; you are wandering about in a very strange manner, and
may, no doubt, meet with many a pretty face by the way, with which you
may fancy that you fall in love. You cannot think me a barbarous, tyrant
if I ask you to promise me, on your honour, that you will not propose
to any young lady before you come first to me and submit the case to my
examination and approval. You know me too well to suppose that I should
unreasonably withhold my consent if convinced that your happiness was
at stake. But while what a young man may fancy to be love is often a
trivial incident in his life, marriage is the greatest event in it;
if on one side it may involve his happiness, on the other side it
may insure his misery. Dearest, best, and oddest of sons, give me the
promise I ask, and you will free my breast from a terribly anxious
thought which now sits on it like a nightmare.

Your recommendation of a basket-maker comes opportunely. All such
matters go through the bailiff’s hands, and it was but the other day
that Green was complaining of the high prices of the man he employed for
hampers and game-baskets. Green shall write to your protege.

Keep me informed of your proceedings as much as your anomalous character
will permit; so that nothing may diminish my confidence that the man who
had the honour to be christened Kenelm will not disgrace his name, but
acquire the distinction denied to a Peter.

Your affectionate father.



CHAPTER VII.

VILLAGERS lie abed on Sundays later than on workdays, and no shutter was
unclosed in a window of the rural street through which Kenelm Chillingly
and Tom Bowles went, side by side, in the still soft air of the Sabbath
morn. Side by side they went on, crossing the pastoral glebe-lands,
where the kine still drowsily reclined under the bowery shade of
glinting chestnut leaves; and diving thence into a narrow lane or
by-road, winding deep between lofty banks all tangled with convolvulus
and wild-rose and honeysuckle.

They walked in silence, for Kenelm, after one or two vain attempts at
conversation, had the tact to discover that his companion was in no mood
for talk; and being himself one of those creatures whose minds glide
easily into the dreamy monologue of revery, he was not displeased to
muse on undisturbed, drinking quietly into his heart the subdued joy of
the summer morn, with the freshness of its sparkling dews, the wayward
carol of its earliest birds, the serene quietude of its limpid breezy
air. Only when they came to fresh turnings in the road that led towards
the town to which they were bound, Tom Bowles stepped before his
companion, indicating the way by a monosyllable or a gesture. Thus they
journeyed for hours, till the sun attained power, and a little wayside
inn near a hamlet invited Kenelm to the thought of rest and food.

“Tom,” said he then, rousing from his revery, “what do you say to
breakfast?”

Answered Tom sullenly, “I am not hungry; but as you like.”

“Thank you, then we will stop here a while. I find it difficult to
believe that you are not hungry, for you are very strong, and there are
two things which generally accompany great physical strength: the one is
a keen appetite; the other is--though you may not suppose it, and it is
not commonly known--a melancholic temperament.”

“Eh!--a what?”

“A tendency to melancholy. Of course you have heard of Hercules: you
know the saying ‘as strong as Hercules’?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, I was first led to the connection between strength, appetite, and
melancholy, by reading in an old author named Plutarch that Hercules
was among the most notable instances of melancholy temperament which the
author was enabled to quote. That must have been the traditional notion
of the Herculean constitution; and as for appetite, the appetite of
Hercules was a standard joke of the comic writers. When I read that
observation it set me thinking, being myself melancholic and having
an exceedingly good appetite. Sure enough, when I began to collect
evidence, I found that the strongest men with whom I made acquaintance,
including prize-fighters and Irish draymen, were disposed to look upon
life more on the shady than the sunny side of the way; in short, they
were melancholic. But the kindness of Providence allowed them to enjoy
their meals, as you and I are about to do.” In the utterance of this
extraordinary crotchet Kenelm had halted his steps; but now striding
briskly forward he entered the little inn, and after a glance at its
larder, ordered the whole contents to be brought out and placed within a
honeysuckle arbour which he spied in the angle of a bowling-green at the
rear of the house.

In addition to the ordinary condiments of loaf and butter and eggs and
milk and tea, the board soon groaned beneath the weight of pigeon-pie,
cold ribs of beef, and shoulder of mutton, remains of a feast which the
members of a monthly rustic club had held there the day before. Tom ate
little at first; but example is contagious, and gradually he vied with
his companion in the diminution of the solid viands before him. Then he
called for brandy.

“No,” said Kenelm. “No, Tom; you have promised me friendship, and that
is not compatible with brandy. Brandy is the worst enemy a man like
you can have; and would make you quarrel even with me. If you want a
stimulus I allow you a pipe. I don’t smoke myself, as a rule, but there
have been times in my life when I required soothing, and then I have
felt that a whiff of tobacco stills and softens one like the kiss of a
little child. Bring this gentleman a pipe.”

Tom grunted, but took to the pipe kindly, and in a few minutes, during
which Kenelm left him in silence, a lowering furrow between his brows
smoothed itself away.

Gradually he felt the sweetening influences of the day and the place, of
the merry sunbeams at play amid the leaves of the arbour, of the frank
perfume of the honeysuckle, of the warble of the birds before they sank
into the taciturn repose of a summer noon.

It was with a reluctant sigh that he rose at last, when Kenelm said, “We
have yet far to go: we must push on.”

The landlady, indeed, had already given them a hint that she and
the family wanted to go to church, and to shut up the house in their
absence. Kenelm drew out his purse, but Tom did the same with a return
of cloud on his brow, and Kenelm saw that he would be mortally offended
if suffered to be treated as an inferior; so each paid his due share,
and the two men resumed their wandering. This time it was along a
by-path amid fields, which was a shorter cut than the lane they had
previously followed, to the main road to Luscombe. They walked
slowly till they came to a rustic foot-bridge which spanned a gloomy
trout-stream, not noisy, but with a low, sweet murmur, doubtless the
same stream beside which, many miles away, Kenelm had conversed with the
minstrel. Just as they came to this bridge there floated to their ears
the distant sound of the hamlet church-bell.

“Now let us sit here a while and listen,” said Kenelm, seating himself
on the baluster of the bridge. “I see that you brought away your pipe
from the inn, and provided yourself with tobacco: refill the pipe and
listen.”

Tom half smiled and obeyed.

“O friend,” said Kenelm, earnestly, and after a long pause of thought,
“do you not feel what a blessed thing it is in this mortal life to be
ever and anon reminded that you have a soul?”

Tom, startled, withdrew the pipe from his lips, and muttered,--

“Eh!”

Kenelm continued,--

“You and I, Tom, are not so good as we ought to be: of that there is no
doubt; and good people would say justly that we should now be within
yon church itself rather than listening to its bell. Granted, my friend,
granted; but still it is something to hear that bell, and to feel by the
train of thought which began in our innocent childhood, when we said
our prayers at the knees of a mother, that we were lifted beyond this
visible Nature, beyond these fields and woods and waters, in which, fair
though they be, you and I miss something; in which neither you nor I are
as happy as the kine in the fields, as the birds on the bough, as the
fishes in the water: lifted to a consciousness of a sense vouchsafed to
you and to me, not vouchsafed to the kine, to the bird, and the fish,--a
sense to comprehend that Nature has a God, and Man has a life hereafter.
The bell says that to you and to me. Were that bell a thousand times
more musical it could not say that to beast, bird, and fish. Do you
understand me, Tom?”

Tom remains silent for a minute, and then replies, “I never thought of
it before; but, as you put it, I understand.”

“Nature never gives to a living thing capacities not practically meant
for its benefit and use. If Nature gives to us capacities to believe
that we have a Creator whom we never saw, of whom we have no direct
proof, who is kind and good and tender beyond all that we know of kind
and good and tender on earth, it is because the endowment of capacities
to conceive such a Being must be for our benefit and use: it would not
be for our benefit and use if it were a lie. Again, if Nature has given
to us a capacity to receive the notion that we live again, no matter
whether some of us refuse so to believe, and argue against it,--why, the
very capacity to receive the idea (for unless we receive it we could
not argue against it) proves that it is for our benefit and use; and if
there were no such life hereafter, we should be governed and influenced,
arrange our modes of life, and mature our civilization, by obedience
to a lie, which Nature falsified herself in giving us the capacity to
believe. You still understand me?”

“Yes; it bothers me a little, for you see I am not a parson’s man; but I
do understand.”

“Then, my friend, study to apply,--for it requires constant
study,--study to apply that which you understand to your own case. You
are something more than Tom Bowles, the smith and doctor of horses;
something more than the magnificent animal who rages for his mate and
fights every rival: the bull does that. You are a soul endowed with the
capacity to receive the idea of a Creator so divinely wise and great
and good that, though acting by the agency of general laws, He can
accommodate them to all individual cases, so that--taking into account
the life hereafter, which He grants to you the capacity to believe--all
that troubles you now will be proved to you wise and great and good
either in this life or the other. Lay that truth to your heart, friend,
now--before the bell stops ringing; recall it every time you hear the
church-bell ring again. And oh, Tom, you have such a noble nature!--”

“I--I! don’t jeer me,--don’t.”

“Such a noble nature; for you can love so passionately, you can war so
fiercely, and yet, when convinced that your love would be misery to
her you love, can resign it; and yet, when beaten in your war, can so
forgive your victor that you are walking in this solitude with him as a
friend, knowing that you have but to drop a foot behind him in order to
take his life in an unguarded moment; and rather than take his life, you
would defend it against an army. Do you think I am so dull as not to see
all that? and is not all that a noble nature?”

Tom Bowles covered his face with his hands, and his broad breast heaved.

“Well, then, to that noble nature I now trust. I myself have done little
good in life. I may never do much; but let me think that I have not
crossed your life in vain for you and for those whom your life can
colour for good or for bad. As you are strong, be gentle; as you
can love one, be kind to all; as you have so much that is grand as
Man,--that is, the highest of God’s works on earth,--let all your acts
attach your manhood to the idea of Him, to whom the voice of the bell
appeals. Ah! the bell is hushed; but not your heart, Tom,--that speaks
still.”

Tom was weeping like a child.



CHAPTER VIII.

NOW when our two travellers resumed their journey, the relationship
between them had undergone a change; nay, you might have said that their
characters were also changed. For Tom found himself pouring out his
turbulent heart to Kenelm, confiding to this philosophical scoffer at
love all the passionate humanities of love,--its hope, its anguish, its
jealousy, its wrath,--the all that links the gentlest of emotions to
tragedy and terror. And Kenelm, listening tenderly, with softened eyes,
uttered not one cynic word,--nay, not one playful jest. He, felt that
the gravity of all he heard was too solemn for mockery, too deep even
for comfort. True love of this sort was a thing he had never known,
never wished to know, never thought he could know, but he sympathized
in it not the less. Strange, indeed, how much we do sympathize, on
the stage, for instance, or in a book, with passions that have never
agitated ourselves! Had Kenelm jested or reasoned or preached, Tom would
have shrunk at once into dreary silence; but Kenelm said nothing, save
now and then, as he rested his arm, brother-like, on the strong man’s
shoulder, he murmured, “Poor fellow!” So, then, when Tom had finished
his confessions, he felt wondrously relieved and comforted. He had
cleansed his bosom of the perilous stuff that weighed upon the heart.

Was this good result effected by Kenelm’s artful diplomacy, or by that
insight into human passions vouchsafed unconsciously to himself, by
gleams or in flashes, to this strange man who surveyed the objects and
pursuits of his fellows with a yearning desire to share them, murmuring
to himself, “I cannot, I do not stand in this world; like a ghost I
glide beside it, and look on “?

Thus the two men continued their way slowly, amid soft pastures and
yellowing cornfields, out at length into the dusty thoroughfares of
the main road. That gained, their talk insensibly changed its tone: it
became more commonplace; and Kenelm permitted himself the license of
those crotchets by which he extracted a sort of quaint pleasantry out of
commonplace itself; so that from time to time Tom was startled into the
mirth of laughter. This big fellow had one very agreeable gift, which
is only granted, I think, to men of genuine character and affectionate
dispositions,--a spontaneous and sweet laugh, manly and frank, but not
boisterous, as you might have supposed it would be. But that sort of
laugh had not before come from his lips, since the day on which his love
for Jessie Wiles had made him at war with himself and the world.

The sun was setting when from the brow of a hill they beheld the spires
of Luscombe, imbedded amid the level meadows that stretched below,
watered by the same stream that had wound along their more rural
pathway, but which now expanded into stately width, and needed, to span
it, a mighty bridge fit for the convenience of civilized traffic. The
town seemed near, but it was full two miles off by road.

“There is a short cut across the fields beyond that stile, which leads
straight to my uncle’s house,” said Tom; “and I dare say, sir, that you
will be glad to escape the dirty suburb by which the road passes before
we get into the town.”

“A good thought, Tom. It is very odd that fine towns always are
approached by dirty suburbs; a covert symbolical satire, perhaps, on the
ways to success in fine towns. Avarice or ambition go through very mean
little streets before they gain the place which they jostle the crowd to
win,--in the Townhall or on ‘Change. Happy the man who, like you, Tom,
finds that there is a shorter and a cleaner and a pleasanter way to goal
or to resting-place than that through the dirty suburbs!”

They met but few passengers on their path through the fields,--a
respectable, staid, elderly couple, who had the air of a Dissenting
minister and his wife; a girl of fourteen leading a little boy seven
years younger by the hand; a pair of lovers, evidently lovers at
least to the eye of Tom Bowles; for, on regarding them as they passed
unheeding him, he winced, and his face changed. Even after they had
passed, Kenelm saw on the face that pain lingered there: the lips were
tightly compressed, and their corners gloomily drawn down.

Just at this moment a dog rushed towards them with a short quick
bark,--a Pomeranian dog with pointed nose and pricked ears. It hushed
its bark as it neared Kenelm, sniffed his trousers, and wagged its tail.

“By the sacred Nine,” cried Kenelm, “thou art the dog with the tin tray!
where is thy master?”

The dog seemed to understand the question, for it turned its head
significantly; and Kenelm saw, seated under a lime-tree, at a good
distance from the path, a man, with book in hand, evidently employed in
sketching.

“Come this way,” he said to Tom: “I recognize an acquaintance. You
will like him.” Tom desired no new acquaintance at that moment, but he
followed Kenelm submissively.



CHAPTER IX.

“YOU see we are fated to meet again,” said Kenelm, stretching himself
at his ease beside the Wandering Minstrel, and motioning Tom to do the
same. “But you seem to add the accomplishment of drawing to that of
verse-making! You sketch from what you call Nature?”

“From what I call Nature! yes, sometimes.”

“And do you not find in drawing, as in verse-making, the truth that I
have before sought to din into your reluctant ears; namely, that Nature
has no voice except that which man breathes into her out of his mind?
I would lay a wager that the sketch you are now taking is rather an
attempt to make her embody some thought of your own, than to present her
outlines as they appear to any other observer. Permit me to judge for
myself.” And he bent over the sketch-book. It is often difficult for
one who is not himself an artist nor a connoisseur to judge whether the
pencilled jottings in an impromptu sketch are by the hand of a professed
master or a mere amateur. Kenelm was neither artist nor connoisseur, but
the mere pencil-work seemed to him much what might be expected from any
man with an accurate eye who had taken a certain number of lessons from
a good drawing-master. It was enough for him, however, that it furnished
an illustration of his own theory. “I was right,” he cried triumphantly.
“From this height there is a beautiful view, as it presents itself to
me; a beautiful view of the town, its meadows, its river, harmonized by
the sunset; for sunset, like gilding, unites conflicting colours, and
softens them in uniting. But I see nothing of that view in your sketch.
What I do see is to me mysterious.”

“The view you suggest,” said the minstrel, “is no doubt very fine, but
it is for a Turner or a Claude to treat it. My grasp is not wide enough
for such a landscape.”

“I see indeed in your sketch but one figure, a child.”

“Hist! there she stands. Hist! while I put in this last touch.”

Kenelm strained his sight, and saw far off a solitary little girl, who
was tossing something in the air (he could not distinguish what), and
catching it as it fell. She seemed standing on the very verge of the
upland, backed by rose-clouds gathered round the setting sun; below lay
in confused outlines the great town. In the sketch those outlines seemed
infinitely more confused, being only indicated by a few bold strokes;
but the figure and face of the child were distinct and lovely. There
was an ineffable sentiment in her solitude; there was a depth of quiet
enjoyment in her mirthful play, and in her upturned eyes.

“But at that distance,” asked Kenelm, when the wanderer had finished his
last touch, and, after contemplating it, silently closed his book, and
turned round with a genial smile, “but at that distance, how can you
distinguish the girl’s face? How can you discover that the dim object
she has just thrown up and recaught is a ball made of flowers? Do you
know the child?”

“I never saw her before this evening; but as I was seated here she was
straying around me alone, weaving into chains some wild-flowers which
she had gathered by the hedgerows yonder, next the high road; and as she
strung them she was chanting to herself some pretty nursery rhymes.
You can well understand that when I heard her thus chanting I became
interested, and as she came near me I spoke to her, and we soon made
friends. She told me she was an orphan, and brought up by a very old man
distantly related to her, who had been in some small trade and now lived
in a crowded lane in the heart of the town. He was very kind to her, and
being confined himself to the house by age or ailment he sent her out to
play in the fields on summer Sundays. She had no companions of her own
age. She said she did not like the other little girls in the lane; and
the only little girl she liked at school had a grander station in life,
and was not allowed to play with her, and so she came out to play alone;
and as long as the sun shines and the flowers bloom, she says she never
wants other society.”

“Tom, do you hear that? As you will be residing in Luscombe, find out
this strange little girl, and be kind to her, Tom, for my sake.”

Tom put his large hand upon Kenelm’s, making no other answer; but he
looked hard at the minstrel, recognized the genial charm of his voice
and face, and slid along the grass nearer to him.

The minstrel continued: “While the child was talking to me I
mechanically took the flower-chains from her hands, and not thinking
what I was about, gathered them up into a ball. Suddenly she saw what
I had done, and instead of scolding me for spoiling her pretty chains,
which I richly deserved, was delighted to find I had twisted them into a
new plaything. She ran off with the ball, tossing it about till, excited
with her own joy, she got to the brow of the hill, and I began my
sketch.”

“Is that charming face you have drawn like hers?”

“No; only in part. I was thinking of another face while I sketched, but
it is not like that either; in fact, it is one of those patchworks which
we call ‘fancy heads,’ and I meant it to be another version of a thought
that I had just put into rhyme when the child came across me.”

“May we hear the rhyme?”

“I fear that if it did not bore yourself it would bore your friend.”

“I am sure not. Tom, do you sing?”

“Well, I _have_ sung,” said Tom, hanging his head sheepishly, “and I
should like to hear this gentleman.”

“But I do not know these verses, just made, well enough to sing them; it
is enough if I can recall them well enough to recite.” Here the minstrel
paused a minute or so as if for recollection, and then, in the sweet
clear tones and the rare purity of enunciation which characterized his
utterance, whether in recital or song, gave to the following verses a
touching and a varied expression which no one could discover in merely
reading them.


     THE FLOWER-GIRL BY THE CROSSING.

   “By the muddy crossing in the crowded streets
    Stands a little maid with her basket full of posies,
   Proffering all who pass her choice of knitted sweets,
    Tempting Age with heart’s-ease, courting Youth with roses.

   “Age disdains the heart’s-ease,
    Love rejects the roses;
   London life is busy,--
    Who can stop for posies?

   “One man is too grave, another is too gay;
    This man has his hothouse, that man not a penny:
   Flowerets too are common in the month of May,
    And the things most common least attract the many.

   “Ill, on London crossings,
    Fares the sale of posies;
   Age disdains the heart’s-ease,
    Youth rejects the roses.”


When the verse-maker had done, he did not pause for approbation, nor
look modestly down, as do most people who recite their own verses, but
unaffectedly thinking much more of his art than his audience, hurried on
somewhat disconsolately,--

“I see with great grief that I am better at sketching than rhyming. Can
you” (appealing to Kenelm) “even comprehend what I mean by the verses?”

KENELM.--“Do you comprehend, Tom?”

TOM (in a whisper).--“No.”

KENELM.--“I presume that by his flower-girl our friend means to
represent not only poetry, but a poetry like his own, which is not at
all the sort of poetry now in fashion. I, however, expand his meaning,
and by his flower-girl I understand any image of natural truth or beauty
for which, when we are living the artificial life of crowded streets, we
are too busy to give a penny.”

“Take it as you please,” said the minstrel, smiling and sighing at the
same time; “but I have not expressed in words that which I did mean half
so well as I have expressed it in my sketch-book.”

“Ah! and how?” asked Kenelm.

“The image of my thought in the sketch, be it poetry or whatever you
prefer to call it, does not stand forlorn in the crowded streets: the
child stands on the brow of the green hill, with the city stretched in
confused fragments below, and, thoughtless of pennies and passers-by,
she is playing with the flowers she has gathered; but in play casting
them heavenward, and following them with heavenward eyes.”

“Good!” muttered Kenelm, “good!” and then, after a long pause, he added,
in a still lower mutter, “Pardon me that remark of mine the other day
about a beefsteak. But own that I am right: what you call a sketch from
Nature is but a sketch of your own thought.”



CHAPTER X.

THE child with the flower-ball had vanished from the brow of the hill;
sinking down amid the streets below, the rose-clouds had faded from the
horizon; and night was closing round, as the three men entered the
thick of the town. Tom pressed Kenelm to accompany him to his uncle’s,
promising him a hearty welcome and bed and board, but Kenelm declined.
He entertained a strong persuasion that it would be better for the
desired effect on Tom’s mind that he should be left alone with his
relations that night, but proposed that they should spend the next day
together, and agreed to call at the veterinary surgeon’s in the morning.

When Tom quitted them at his uncle’s door, Kenelm said to the minstrel,
“I suppose you are going to some inn; may I accompany you? We can sup
together, and I should like to hear you talk upon poetry and Nature.”

“You flatter me much; but I have friends in the town, with whom I lodge,
and they are expecting me. Do you not observe that I have changed my
dress? I am not known here as the ‘Wandering Minstrel.’”

Kenelm glanced at the man’s attire, and for the first time observed
the change. It was still picturesque in its way, but it was such as
gentlemen of the highest rank frequently wear in the country,--the
knickerbocker costume,--very neat, very new, and complete, to the
square-toed shoes with their latchets and buckles.

“I fear,” said Kenelm, gravely, “that your change of dress betokens
the neighbourhood of those pretty girls of whom you spoke in an earlier
meeting. According to the Darwinian doctrine of selection, fine plumage
goes far in deciding the preference of Jenny Wren and her sex, only we
are told that fine-feathered birds are very seldom songsters as well. It
is rather unfair to rivals when you unite both attractions.”

The minstrel laughed. “There is but one girl in my friend’s house,--his
niece; she is very plain, and only thirteen. But to me the society of
women, whether ugly or pretty, is an absolute necessity; and I have been
trudging without it for so many days that I can scarcely tell you how
my thoughts seemed to shake off the dust of travel when I found myself
again in the presence of--”

“Petticoat interest,” interrupted Kenelm. “Take care of yourself. My
poor friend with whom you found me is a grave warning against petticoat
interest, from which I hope to profit. He is passing through a great
sorrow; it might have been worse than sorrow. My friend is going to stay
in this town. If you are staying here too, pray let him see something
of you. It will do him a wondrous good if you can beguile him from this
real life into the gardens of poetland; but do not sing or talk of love
to him.”

“I honour all lovers,” said the minstrel, with real tenderness in his
tone, “and would willingly serve to cheer or comfort your friend, if I
could; but I am bound elsewhere, and must leave Luscombe, which I visit
on business--money business--the day after to-morrow.”

“So, too, must I. At least give us both some hours of your time
to-morrow.”

“Certainly; from twelve to sunset I shall be roving about,--a mere
idler. If you will both come with me, it will be a great pleasure to
myself. Agreed! Well, then, I will call at your inn to-morrow at twelve;
and I recommend for your inn the one facing us,--The Golden Lamb. I have
heard it recommended for the attributes of civil people and good fare.”

Kenelm felt that he here received his _conge_, and well comprehended the
fact that the minstrel, desiring to preserve the secret of his name, did
not give the address of the family with whom he was a guest.

“But one word more,” said Kenelm. “Your host or hostess, if resident
here, can, no doubt, from your description of the little girl and the
old man her protector, learn the child’s address. If so, I should like
my companion to make friends with her. Petticoat interest there at least
will be innocent and safe. And I know nothing so likely to keep a big,
passionate heart like Tom’s, now aching with a horrible void,
occupied and softened, and turned to directions pure and gentle, as an
affectionate interest in a little child.”

The minstrel changed colour: he even started. “Sir, are you a wizard
that you say that to me?”

“I am not a wizard, but I guess from your question that you have a
little child of your own. So much the better: the child may keep you out
of much mischief. Remember the little child. Good evening.”

Kenelm crossed the threshold of The Golden Lamb, engaged his room, made
his ablutions, ordered, and, with his usual zest, partook of his evening
meal; and then, feeling the pressure of that melancholic temperament
which he so strangely associated with Herculean constitutions, roused
himself up, and, seeking a distraction from thought, sauntered forth
into the gaslit streets.

It was a large handsome town,--handsomer than Tor-Hadham, on account of
its site in a valley surrounded by wooded hills, and watered by the fair
stream whose windings we have seen as a brook,--handsomer, also, because
it boasted a fair cathedral, well cleared to the sight, and surrounded
by venerable old houses, the residences of the clergy or of the quiet
lay gentry with mediaeval tastes. The main street was thronged with
passengers,--some soberly returning home from the evening service; some,
the younger, lingering in pleasant promenade with their sweethearts or
families, or arm in arm with each other, and having the air of
bachelors or maidens unattached. Through this street Kenelm passed with
inattentive eye. A turn to the right took him towards the cathedral and
its surroundings. There all was solitary. The solitude pleased him,
and he lingered long, gazing on the noble church lifting its spires and
turrets into the deep blue starry air.

Musingly, then, he strayed on, entering a labyrinth of gloomy lanes, in
which, though the shops were closed, many a door stood open, with men
of the working class lolling against the threshold, idly smoking their
pipes, or women seated on the doorsteps gossiping, while noisy children
were playing or quarrelling in the kennel. The whole did not present the
indolent side of an English Sabbath in the pleasantest and rosiest point
of view. Somewhat quickening his steps, he entered a broader street,
attracted to it involuntarily by a bright light in the centre. On
nearing the light he found that it shone forth from a gin-palace, of
which the mahogany doors opened and shut momently as customers went in
and out. It was the handsomest building he had seen in his walk, next to
that of the cathedral. “The new civilization versus the old,” murmured
Kenelm. As he so murmured, a hand was laid on his arm with a sort
of timid impudence. He looked down and saw a young face, but it had
survived the look of youth; it was worn and hard, and the bloom on it
was not that of Nature’s giving. “Are you kind to-night?” asked a husky
voice.

“Kind!” said Kenelm, with mournful tones and softened eyes, “kind! Alas,
my poor sister mortal! if pity be kindness, who can see you and not be
kind?”

The girl released his arm, and he walked on. She stood some moments
gazing after him till out of sight, then she drew her hand suddenly
across her eyes, and retracing her steps, was, in her turn, caught hold
of by a rougher hand than hers, as she passed the gin-palace. She shook
off the grasp with a passionate scorn, and went straight home. Home! is
that the right word? Poor sister mortal!



CHAPTER XI.

AND now Kenelm found himself at the extremity of the town, and on the
banks of the river. Small squalid houses still lined the bank for some
way, till, nearing the bridge, they abruptly ceased, and he passed
through a broad square again into the main street. On the other side
of the street there was a row of villa-like mansions, with gardens
stretching towards the river.

All around in the thoroughfare was silent and deserted. By this time
the passengers had gone home. The scent of night-flowers from the
villa-gardens came sweet on the starlit air. Kenelm paused to inhale it,
and then lifting his eyes, hitherto downcast, as are the eyes of men
in meditative moods, he beheld, on the balcony of the nearest villa,
a group of well-dressed persons. The balcony was unusually wide and
spacious. On it was a small round table, on which were placed wine and
fruits. Three ladies were seated round the table on wire-work chairs,
and on the side nearest to Kenelm, one man. In that man, now slightly
turning his profile, as if to look towards the river, Kenelm recognized
the minstrel. He was still in his picturesque knickerbocker dress,
and his clear-cut features, with the clustering curls of hair, and
Rubens-like hue and shape of beard, had more than their usual beauty,
softened in the light of skies, to which the moon, just risen, added
deeper and fuller radiance. The ladies were in evening dress, but Kenelm
could not distinguish their faces hidden behind the minstrel. He moved
softly across the street, and took his stand behind a buttress in
the low wall of the garden, from which he could have full view of the
balcony, unseen himself. In this watch he had no other object than
that of a vague pleasure. The whole grouping had in it a kind of scenic
romance, and he stopped as one stops before a picture.

He then saw that of the three ladies one was old; another was a
slight girl of the age of twelve or thirteen; the third appeared to be
somewhere about seven or eight and twenty. She was dressed with more
elegance than the others. On her neck, only partially veiled by a thin
scarf, there was the glitter of jewels; and, as she now turned her
full face towards the moon, Kenelm saw that she was very handsome,--a
striking kind of beauty, calculated to fascinate a poet or an
artist,--not unlike Raphael’s Fornarina, dark, with warm tints.

Now there appeared at the open window a stout, burly, middle-aged
gentleman, looking every inch of him a family man, a moneyed man, sleek
and prosperous. He was bald, fresh-coloured, and with light whiskers.

“Holloa,” he said, in an accent very slightly foreign, and with a loud
clear voice, which Kenelm heard distinctly, “is it not time for you to
come in?”

“Don’t be so tiresome, Fritz,” said the handsome lady, half petulantly,
half playfully, in the way ladies address the tiresome spouses they lord
it over. “Your friend has been sulking the whole evening, and is only
just beginning to be pleasant as the moon rises.”

“The moon has a good effect on poets and other mad folks, I dare say,”
 said the bald man, with a good-humoured laugh. “But I can’t have my
little niece laid up again just as she is on the mend: Annie, come in.”

The girl obeyed reluctantly. The old lady rose too.

“Ah, Mother, you are wise,” said the bald man; “and a game at euchre is
safer than poetizing in night air.” He wound his arm round the old lady
with a careful fondness, for she moved with some difficulty as if rather
lame. “As for you two sentimentalists and moon-gazers, I give you ten
minutes’ time,--not more, mind.”

“Tyrant!” said the minstrel.

The balcony now held only two forms,--the minstrel and the handsome
lady. The window was closed, and partially veiled by muslin draperies,
but Kenelm caught glimpses of the room within. He could see that the
room, lit by a lamp on the centre table and candles elsewhere, was
decorated and fitted up with cost and in a taste not English. He could
see, for instance, that the ceiling was painted, and the walls were not
papered, but painted in panels between arabesque pilasters.

“They are foreigners,” thought Kenelm, “though the man does speak
English so well. That accounts for playing euchre of a Sunday evening,
as if there were no harm in it. Euchre is an American game. The man
is called Fritz. Ah! I guess--Germans who have lived a good deal in
America; and the verse-maker said he was at Luscombe on pecuniary
business. Doubtless his host is a merchant, and the verse-maker in some
commercial firm. That accounts for his concealment of name, and fear of
its being known that he was addicted in his holiday to tastes and habits
so opposed to his calling.”

While he was thus thinking, the lady had drawn her chair close to the
minstrel, and was speaking to him with evident earnestness, but in tones
too low for Kenelm to hear. Still it seemed to him, by her manner and by
the man’s look, as if she were speaking in some sort of reproach,
which he sought to deprecate. Then he spoke, also in a whisper, and
she averted her face for a moment; then she held out her hand, and the
minstrel kissed it. Certainly, thus seen, the two might well be taken
for lovers; and the soft night, the fragrance of the flowers, silence
and solitude, stars and moon light, all girt them as with an atmosphere
of love. Presently the man rose and leaned over the balcony, propping
his cheek on his hand, and gazing on the river. The lady rose too,
and also leaned over the balustrade, her dark hair almost touching the
auburn locks of her companion.

Kenelm sighed. Was it from envy, from pity, from fear? I know not; but
he sighed.

After a brief pause, the lady said, still in low tones, but not too low
this time to escape Kenelm’s fine sense of hearing,--

“Tell me those verses again. I must remember every word of them when you
are gone.”

The man shook his head gently, and answered, but inaudibly.

“Do,” said the lady; “set them to music later; and the next time you
come I will sing them. I have thought of a title for them.”

“What?” asked the minstrel.

“Love’s quarrel.”

The minstrel turned his head, and their eyes met, and, in meeting,
lingered long. Then he moved away, and with face turned from her
and towards the river, gave the melody of his wondrous voice to the
following lines:--


     LOVE’S QUARREL.

 “Standing by the river, gazing on the river,
   See it paved with starbeams,--heaven is at our feet;
  Now the wave is troubled, now the rushes quiver;
   Vanished is the starlight: it was a deceit.

 “Comes a little cloudlet ‘twixt ourselves and heaven,
   And from all the river fades the silver track;
  Put thine arms around me, whisper low, ‘Forgiven!’
   See how on the river starlight settles back.”


When he had finished, still with face turned aside, the lady did not,
indeed, whisper “Forgiven,” nor put her arms around him; but, as if by
irresistible impulse, she laid her hand lightly on his shoulder.

The minstrel started.

There came to his ear,--he knew not from whence, from whom,--

“Mischief! mischief! Remember the little child!”

“Hush!” he said, staring round. “Did you not hear a voice?”

“Only yours,” said the lady.

“It was our guardian angel’s, Amalie. It came in time. We will go
within.”



CHAPTER XII.

THE next morning betimes Kenelm visited Tom at his uncle’s home. A
comfortable and respectable home it was, like that of an owner in easy
circumstances. The veterinary surgeon himself was intelligent, and
apparently educated beyond the range of his calling; a childless
widower, between sixty and seventy, living with a sister, an old maid.
They were evidently much attached to Tom, and delighted by the hope of
keeping him with them. Tom himself looked rather sad, but not sullen,
and his face brightened wonderfully at first sight of Kenelm. That
oddity made himself as pleasant and as much like other people as he
could in conversing with the old widower and the old maid, and took
leave, engaging Tom to be at his inn at half past twelve, and spend the
day with him and the minstrel. He then returned to the Golden Lamb, and
waited there for his first visitant; the minstrel. That votary of the
muse arrived punctually at twelve o’clock. His countenance was less
cheerful and sunny than usual. Kenelm made no allusion to the scene
he had witnessed, nor did his visitor seem to suspect that Kenelm had
witnessed it or been the utterer of that warning voice.

KENELM.--“I have asked my friend Tom Bowles to come a little later,
because I wished you to be of use to him, and, in order to be so, I
should suggest how.”

THE MINSTREL.--“Pray do.”

KENELM.--“You know that I am not a poet, and I do not have much
reverence for verse-making merely as a craft.”

THE MINSTREL.--“Neither have I.”

KENELM.--“But I have a great reverence for poetry as a priesthood. I
felt that reverence for you when you sketched and talked priesthood
last evening, and placed in my heart--I hope forever while it beats--the
image of the child on the sunlit hill, high above the abodes of men,
tossing her flower-ball heavenward and with heavenward eyes.”

The singer’s cheek coloured high, and his lip quivered: he was very
sensitive to praise; most singers are.

Kenelm resumed, “I have been educated in the Realistic school, and with
realism I am discontented, because in realism as a school there is no
truth. It contains but a bit of truth, and that the coldest and hardest
bit of it, and he who utters a bit of truth and suppresses the rest of
it tells a lie.”

THE MINSTREL (slyly).--“Does the critic who says to me, ‘Sing of
beefsteak, because the appetite for food is a real want of daily life,
and don’t sing of art and glory and love, because in daily life a man
may do without such ideas,’--tell a lie?”

KENELM.--“Thank you for that rebuke. I submit to it. No doubt I did tell
a lie,--that is, if I were quite in earnest in my recommendation, and if
not in earnest, why--”

THE MINSTREL.--“You belied yourself.”

KENELM.--“Very likely. I set out on my travels to escape from shams, and
begin to discover that I am a sham _par excellence_. But I suddenly
come across you, as a boy dulled by his syntax and his vulgar fractions
suddenly comes across a pleasant poem or a picture-book, and feels his
wits brighten up. I owe you much: you have done me a world of good.”

“I cannot guess how.”

“Possibly not, but you have shown me how the realism of Nature herself
takes colour and life and soul when seen on the ideal or poetic side
of it. It is not exactly the words that you say or sing that do me the
good, but they awaken within me new trains of thought, which I seek
to follow out. The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than
dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.
Therefore, O singer! whatever be the worth in critical eyes of your
songs, I am glad to remember that you would like to go through the world
always singing.”

“Pardon me: you forget that I added, ‘if life were always young, and the
seasons were always summer.’”

“I do not forget. But if youth and summer fade for you, you leave youth
and summer behind you as you pass along,--behind in hearts which mere
realism would make always old, and counting their slothful beats under
the gray of a sky without sun or stars; wherefore I pray you to consider
how magnificent a mission the singer’s is,--to harmonize your life with
your song, and toss your flowers, as your child does, heavenward, with
heavenward eyes. Think only of this when you talk with my sorrowing
friend, and you will do him good, as you have done me, without being
able to guess how a seeker after the Beautiful, such as you, carries us
along with him on his way; so that we, too, look out for beauty, and see
it in the wild-flowers to which we had been blind before.”

Here Tom entered the little sanded parlour where this dialogue had been
held, and the three men sallied forth, taking the shortest cut from the
town into the fields and woodlands.



CHAPTER XIII.

WHETHER or not his spirits were raised by Kenelm’s praise and
exhortations, the minstrel that day talked with a charm that spellbound
Tom, and Kenelm was satisfied with brief remarks on his side tending to
draw out the principal performer.

The talk was drawn from outward things, from natural objects,--objects
that interest children, and men who, like Tom Bowles, have been
accustomed to view surroundings more with the heart’s eye than the
mind’s eye. This rover about the country knew much of the habits of
birds and beasts and insects, and told anecdotes of them with a mixture
of humour and pathos, which fascinated Tom’s attention, made him laugh
heartily, and sometimes brought tears into his big blue eyes.

They dined at an inn by the wayside, and the dinner was mirthful; then
they wended their way slowly back. By the declining daylight their talk
grew somewhat graver, and Kenelm took more part in it. Tom listened
mute,--still fascinated. At length, as the town came in sight, they
agreed to halt a while, in a bosky nook soft with mosses and sweet with
wild thyme.

There, as they lay stretched at their ease, the birds hymning vesper
songs amid the boughs above, or dropping, noiseless and fearless, for
their evening food on the swards around them, the wanderer said to
Kenelm, “You tell me that you are no poet, yet I am sure you have a
poet’s perception: you must have written poetry?”

“Not I; as I before told you, only school verses in dead languages: but
I found in my knapsack this morning a copy of some rhymes, made by a
fellow-collegian, which I put into my pocket meaning to read them to
you both. They are not verses like yours, which evidently burst from you
spontaneously, and are not imitated from any other poets. These verses
were written by a Scotchman, and smack of imitation from the old ballad
style. There is little to admire in the words themselves, but there
is something in the idea which struck me as original, and impressed me
sufficiently to keep a copy, and somehow or other it got into the leaves
of one of the two books I carried with me from home.”

“What are those books? Books of poetry both, I will venture to wager--”

“Wrong! Both metaphysical, and dry as a bone. Tom, light your pipe, and
you, sir, lean more at ease on your elbow; I should warn you that the
ballad is long. Patience!”

“Attention!” said the minstrel.

“Fire!” added Tom.

Kenelm began to read,--and he read well.


     LORD RONALD’S BRIDE.

        PART I.

 “WHY gathers the crowd in the market-place
  Ere the stars have yet left the sky?”
  “For a holiday show and an act of grace,--
   At the sunrise a witch shall die.”

 “What deed has she done to deserve that doom?
   Has she blighted the standing corn,
  Or rifled for philters a dead man’s tomb,
   Or rid mothers of babes new-born?”

 “Her pact with the fiend was not thus revealed,
   She taught sinners the Word to hear;
  The hungry she fed, and the sick she healed,
   And was held as a Saint last year.

 “But a holy man, who at Rome had been,
   Had discovered, by book and bell,
  That the marvels she wrought were through arts unclean,
   And the lies of the Prince of Hell.

 “And our Mother the Church, for the dame was rich,
   And her husband was Lord of Clyde,
  Would fain have been mild to this saint-like witch
   If her sins she had not denied.

 “But hush, and come nearer to see the sight,
   Sheriff, halberds, and torchmen,--look!
  That’s the witch standing mute in her garb of white,
   By the priest with his bell and book.”

  So the witch was consumed on the sacred pyre,
   And the priest grew in power and pride,
  And the witch left a son to succeed his sire
   In the halls and the lands of Clyde.

  And the infant waxed comely and strong and brave,
   But his manhood had scarce begun,
  When his vessel was launched on the northern wave
   To the shores which are near the sun.

        PART II.

  Lord Ronald has come to his halls in Clyde
   With a bride of some unknown race;
  Compared with the man who would kiss that bride
   Wallace wight were a coward base.

  Her eyes had the glare of the mountain-cat
   When it springs on the hunter’s spear,
  At the head of the board when that lady sate
   Hungry men could not eat for fear.

  And the tones of her voice had that deadly growl
   Of the bloodhound that scents its prey;
  No storm was so dark as that lady’s scowl
   Under tresses of wintry gray.

 “Lord Ronald! men marry for love or gold,
   Mickle rich must have been thy bride!”
  “Man’s heart may be bought, woman’s hand be sold,
   On the banks of our northern Clyde.

 “My bride is, in sooth, mickle rich to me
   Though she brought not a groat in dower,
  For her face, couldst thou see it as I do see,
   Is the fairest in hall or bower!”

  Quoth the bishop one day to our lord the king,
  “Satan reigns on the Clyde alway,
  And the taint in the blood of the witch doth cling
   To the child that she brought to day.

 “Lord Ronald hath come from the Paynim land
   With a bride that appals the sight;
  Like his dam she hath moles on her dread right hand,
   And she turns to a snake at night.

 “It is plain that a Scot who can blindly dote
   On the face of an Eastern ghoul,
  And a ghoul who was worth not a silver groat,
   Is a Scot who has lost his soul.

  “It were wise to have done with this demon tree
   Which has teemed with such caukered fruit;
  Add the soil where it stands to my holy See,
   And consign to the flames its root.”

 “Holy man!” quoth King James, and he laughed, “we know
   That thy tongue never wags in vain,
  But the Church cist is full, and the king’s is low,
   And the Clyde is a fair domain.

 “Yet a knight that’s bewitched by a laidly fere
   Needs not much to dissolve the spell;
  We will summon the bride and the bridegroom here
   Be at hand with thy book and bell.”

        PART III.

  Lord Ronald stood up in King James’s court,
   And his dame by his dauntless side;
  The barons who came in the hopes of sport
   Shook with fright when they saw the bride.

  The bishop, though armed with his bell and book,
   Grew as white as if turned to stone;
  It was only our king who could face that look,
   But he spoke with a trembling tone.

 “Lord Ronald, the knights of thy race and mine
   Should have mates in their own degree;
  What parentage, say, hath that bride of thine
   Who hath come from the far countree?

 “And what was her dowry in gold or land,
   Or what was the charm, I pray,
  That a comely young gallant should woo the hand
   Of the ladye we see to-day?”

  And the lords would have laughed, but that awful dame
   Struck them dumb with her thunder-frown:
 “Saucy king, did I utter my father’s name,
   Thou wouldst kneel as his liegeman down.

 “Though I brought to Lord Ronald nor lands nor gold,
   Nor the bloom of a fading cheek;
  Yet, were I a widow, both young and old
   Would my hand and my dowry seek.

 “For the wish that he covets the most below,
   And would hide from the saints above,
  Which he dares not to pray for in weal or woe,
   Is the dowry I bring my love.

 “Let every man look in his heart and see
   What the wish he most lusts to win,
  And then let him fasten his eyes on me
   While he thinks of his darling sin.”

  And every man--bishop, and lord, and king
   Thought of what he most wished to win,
  And, fixing his eye on that grewsome thing,
   He beheld his own darling sin.

  No longer a ghoul in that face he saw;
   It was fair as a boy’s first love:
  The voice that had curdled his veins with awe
   Was the coo of the woodland dove.

  Each heart was on flame for the peerless dame
   At the price of the husband’s life;
  Bright claymores flash out, and loud voices shout,
  “In thy widow shall be my wife.”

  Then darkness fell over the palace hall,
   More dark and more dark it fell,
  And a death-groan boomed hoarse underneath the pall,
   And was drowned amid roar and yell.

  When light through the lattice-pane stole once more,
   It was gray as a wintry dawn,
  And the bishop lay cold on the regal floor,
   With a stain on his robes of lawn.

  Lord Ronald was standing beside the dead,
   In the scabbard he plunged his sword,
  And with visage as wan as the corpse, he said,
  “Lo! my ladye hath kept her word.

 “Now I leave her to others to woo and win,
   For no longer I find her fair;
  Could I look on the face of my darling sin,
   I should see but a dead man’s there.

 “And the dowry she brought me is here returned,
   For the wish of my heart has died,
  It is quenched in the blood of the priest who burned
   My sweet mother, the Saint of Clyde.”

  Lord Ronald strode over the stony floor,
   Not a hand was outstretched to stay;
  Lord Ronald has passed through the gaping door,
   Not an eye ever traced the way.

  And the ladye, left widowed, was prized above
   All the maidens in hall and bower,
  Many bartered their lives for that ladye’s love,
   And their souls for that ladye’s dower.

  God grant that the wish which I dare not pray
   Be not that which I lust to win,
  And that ever I look with my first dismay
   On the face of my darling sin!


As he ceased, Kenelm’s eye fell on Tom’s face upturned to his own, with
open lips, an intent stare, and paled cheeks, and a look of that higher
sort of terror which belongs to awe. The man, then recovering himself,
tried to speak, and attempted a sickly smile, but neither would do.
He rose abruptly and walked away, crept under the shadow of a dark
beech-tree, and stood there leaning against the trunk.

“What say you to the ballad?” asked Kenelm of the singer.

“It is not without power,” answered he.

“Ay, of a certain kind.”

The minstrel looked hard at Kenelm, and dropped his eyes, with a
heightened glow on his cheek.

“The Scotch are a thoughtful race. The Scot who wrote this thing may
have thought of a day when he saw beauty in the face of a darling sin;
but, if so, it is evident that his sight recovered from that glamoury.
Shall we walk on? Come, Tom.”

The minstrel left them at the entrance of the town, saying, “I regret
that I cannot see more of either of you, as I quit Luscombe at daybreak.
Here, by the by, I forgot to give it before, is the address you wanted.”

KENELM.--“Of the little child. I am glad you remembered her.”

The minstrel again looked hard at Kenelm, this time without dropping his
eyes. Kenelm’s expression of face was so simply quiet that it might be
almost called vacant.

Kenelm and Tom continued to walk on towards the veterinary surgeon’s
house, for some minutes silently. Then Tom said in a whisper, “Did you
not mean those rhymes to hit me here--_here_?” and he struck his breast.

“The rhymes were written long before I saw you, Tom; but it is well if
their meaning strike us all. Of you, my friend, I have no fear now. Are
you not already a changed man?”

“I feel as if I were going through a change,” answered Tom, in slow,
dreary accents. “In hearing you and that gentleman talk so much of
things that I never thought of, I felt something in me,--you will laugh
when I tell you,--something like a bird.”

“Like a bird,--good!--a bird has wings.”

“Just so.”

“And you felt wings that you were unconscious of before, fluttering and
beating themselves as against the wires of a cage. You were true to
your instincts then, my dear fellow-man,--instincts of space and Heaven.
Courage!--the cage-door will open soon. And now, practically speaking,
I give you this advice in parting: You have a quick and sensitive mind
which you have allowed that strong body of yours to incarcerate and
suppress. Give that mind fair play. Attend to the business of your
calling diligently; the craving for regular work is the healthful
appetite of mind: but in your spare hours cultivate the new ideas which
your talk with men who have been accustomed to cultivate the mind more
than the body has sown within you. Belong to a book-club, and interest
yourself in books. A wise man has said, ‘Books widen the present by
adding to it the past and the future.’ Seek the company of educated men
and educated women too; and when you are angry with another, reason
with him: don’t knock him down; and don’t be knocked down yourself by an
enemy much stronger than yourself,--Drink. Do all this, and when I see
you again you will be--”

“Stop, sir,--you will see me again?”

“Yes, if we both live, I promise it.”

“When?”

“You see, Tom, we have both of us something in our old selves which we
must work off. You will work off your something by repose, and I must
work off mine, if I can, by moving about. So I am on my travels. May
we both have new selves better than the old selves, when we again shake
hands! For your part try your best, dear Tom, and Heaven prosper you.”

“And Heaven bless you!” cried Tom, fervently, with tears rolling
unheeded from his bold blue eyes.



CHAPTER XIV.

THOUGH Kenelm left Luscombe on Tuesday morning, he did not appear at
Neesdale Park till the Wednesday, a little before the dressing-bell for
dinner. His adventures in the interim are not worth repeating. He had
hoped he might fall in again with the minstrel, but he did not.

His portmanteau had arrived, and he heaved a sigh as he cased himself in
a gentleman’s evening dress. “Alas! I have soon got back again into my
own skin.”

There were several other guests in the house, though not a
large party,--they had been asked with an eye to the approaching
election,--consisting of squires and clergy from remoter parts of the
county. Chief among the guests in rank and importance, and rendered by
the occasion the central object of interest, was George Belvoir.

Kenelm bore his part in this society with a resignation that partook of
repentance.

The first day he spoke very little, and was considered a very dull young
man by the lady he took in to dinner. Mr. Travers in vain tried to draw
him out. He had anticipated much amusement from the eccentricities of
his guest, who had talked volubly enough in the fernery, and was sadly
disappointed. “I feel,” he whispered to Mrs. Campion, “like poor Lord
Pomfret, who, charmed with Punch’s lively conversation, bought him, and
was greatly surprised that, when he had once brought him home, Punch
would not talk.”

“But your Punch listens,” said Mrs. Campion, “and he observes.”

George Belvoir, on the other hand, was universally declared to be very
agreeable. Though not naturally jovial, he forced himself to appear
so,--laughing loud with the squires, and entering heartily with
their wives and daughters into such topics as county-balls and
croquet-parties; and when after dinner he had, Cato-like, ‘warmed his
virtue with wine,’ the virtue came out very lustily in praise of good
men,--namely, men of his own party,--and anathemas on bad men,--namely,
men of the other party.

Now and then he appealed to Kenelm, and Kenelm always returned the same
answer, “There is much in what you say.”

The first evening closed in the usual way in country houses. There was
some lounging under moonlight on the terrace before the house; then
there was some singing by young lady amateurs, and a rubber of whist for
the elders; then wine-and-water, hand-candlesticks, a smoking-room for
those who smoked, and bed for those who did not.

In the course of the evening, Cecilia, partly in obedience to the duties
of hostess and partly from that compassion for shyness which kindly and
high-bred persons entertain, had gone a little out of her way to allure
Kenelm forth from the estranged solitude he had contrived to weave
around him. In vain for the daughter as for the father. He replied to
her with the quiet self-possession which should have convinced her that
no man on earth was less entitled to indulgence for the gentlemanlike
infirmity of shyness, and no man less needed the duties of any hostess
for the augmentation of his comforts, or rather for his diminished sense
of discomfort; but his replies were in monosyllables, and made with the
air of a man who says in his heart, “If this creature would but leave me
alone!”

Cecilia, for the first time in her life, was piqued, and, strange to
say, began to feel more interest about this indifferent stranger than
about the popular, animated, pleasant George Belvoir, who she knew by
womanly instinct was as much in love with her as he could be.

Cecilia Travers that night on retiring to rest told her maid, smilingly,
that she was too tired to have her hair done; and yet, when the maid
was dismissed, she looked at herself in the glass more gravely and more
discontentedly than she had ever looked there before; and, tired though
she was, stood at the window gazing into the moonlit night for a good
hour after the maid left her.



CHAPTER XV.

KENELM CHILLINGLY has now been several days a guest at Neesdale Park.
He has recovered speech; the other guests have gone, including George
Belvoir. Leopold Travers has taken a great fancy to Kenelm. Leopold
was one of those men, not uncommon perhaps in England, who, with great
mental energies, have little book-knowledge, and when they come
in contact with a book-reader who is not a pedant feel a pleasant
excitement in his society, a source of interest in comparing notes with
him, a constant surprise in finding by what venerable authorities the
deductions which their own mother-wit has drawn from life are supported,
or by what cogent arguments derived from books those deductions are
contravened or upset. Leopold Travers had in him that sense of humour
which generally accompanies a strong practical understanding (no man,
for instance, has more practical understanding than a Scot, and no man
has a keener susceptibility to humour), and not only enjoyed Kenelm’s
odd way of expressing himself, but very often mistook Kenelm’s irony for
opinion spoken in earnest.

Since his early removal from the capital and his devotion to
agricultural pursuits, it was so seldom that Leopold Travers met a man
by whose conversation his mind was diverted to other subjects than those
which were incidental to the commonplace routine of his life that he
found in Kenelm’s views of men and things a source of novel amusement,
and a stirring appeal to such metaphysical creeds of his own as had been
formed unconsciously, and had long reposed unexamined in the recesses of
an intellect shrewd and strong, but more accustomed to dictate than to
argue. Kenelm, on his side, saw much in his host to like and to admire;
but, reversing their relative positions in point of years, he conversed
with Travers as with a mind younger than his own. Indeed, it was one
of his crotchety theories that each generation is in substance mentally
older than the generation preceding it, especially in all that relates
to science; and, as he would say, “The study of life is a science, and
not an art.”

But Cecilia,--what impression did she create upon the young visitor?
Was he alive to the charm of her rare beauty, to the grace of a mind
sufficiently stored for commune with those who love to think and to
imagine, and yet sufficiently feminine and playful to seize the sportive
side of realities, and allow their proper place to the trifles which
make the sum of human things? An impression she did make, and that
impression was new to him and pleasing. Nay, sometimes in her presence
and sometimes when alone, he fell into abstracted consultations with
himself, saying, “Kenelm Chillingly, now that thou hast got back into
thy proper skin, dost thou not think that thou hadst better remain
there? Couldst thou not be contented with thy lot as erring descendant
of Adam, if thou couldst win for thy mate so faultless a descendant of
Eve as now flits before thee?” But he could not abstract from himself
any satisfactory answer to the question he had addressed to himself.

Once he said abruptly to Travers, as, on their return from their
rambles, they caught a glimpse of Cecilia’s light form bending over the
flower-beds on the lawn, “Do you admire Virgil?”

“To say truth I have not read Virgil since I was a boy; and, between you
and me, I then thought him rather monotonous.”

“Perhaps because his verse is so smooth in its beauty?”

“Probably. When one is very young one’s taste is faulty; and if a poet
is not faulty, we are apt to think he wants vivacity and fire.”

“Thank you for your lucid explanation,” answered Kenelm, adding musingly
to himself, “I am afraid I should yawn very often if I were married to a
Miss Virgil.”



CHAPTER XVI.

THE house of Mr. Travers contained a considerable collection of family
portraits, few of them well painted, but the Squire was evidently proud
of such evidences of ancestry. They not only occupied a considerable
space on the walls of the reception rooms, but swarmed into the
principal sleeping-chambers, and smiled or frowned on the beholder from
dark passages and remote lobbies. One morning, Cecilia, on her way
to the china closet, found Kenelm gazing very intently upon a female
portrait consigned to one of those obscure receptacles by which through
a back staircase he gained the only approach from the hall to his
chamber.

“I don’t pretend to be a good judge of paintings,” said Kenelm, as
Cecilia paused beside him; “but it strikes me that this picture is very
much better than most of those to which places of honour are assigned in
your collection. And the face itself is so lovely that it would add an
embellishment to the princeliest galleries.”

“Yes,” said Cecilia, with a half-sigh. “The face is lovely, and the
portrait is considered one of Lely’s rarest masterpieces. It used to
hang over the chimney-piece in the drawing-room. My father had it placed
here many years ago.”

“Perhaps because he discovered it was not a family portrait?”

“On the contrary,--because it grieves him to think it is a family
portrait. Hush! I hear his footstep: don’t speak of it to him; don’t let
him see you looking at it. The subject is very painful to him.”

Here Cecilia vanished into the china closet and Kenelm turned off to his
own room.

What sin committed by the original in the time of Charles II. but only
discovered in the reign of Victoria could have justified Leopold Travers
in removing the most pleasing portrait in the house from the honoured
place it had occupied, and banishing it to so obscure a recess? Kenelm
said no more on the subject, and indeed an hour afterwards had dismissed
it from his thoughts. The next day he rode out with Travers and
Cecilia. Their way passed through quiet shady lanes without any purposed
direction, when suddenly, at the spot where three of those lanes met on
an angle of common ground, a lonely gray tower, in the midst of a wide
space of grass-land which looked as if it had once been a park, with
huge boles of pollarded oak dotting the space here and there, rose
before them.

“Cissy!” cried Travers, angrily reining in his horse and stopping short
in a political discussion which he had forced upon Kenelm, “Cissy!
How comes this? We have taken the wrong turn! No matter, I see there,”
 pointing to the right, “the chimney-pots of old Mondell’s homestead. He
has not yet promised his vote to George Belvoir. I’ll go and have a talk
with him. Turn back, you and Mr. Chillingly,--meet me at Terner’s Green,
and wait for me there till I come. I need not excuse myself to you,
Chillingly. A vote is a vote.” So saying, the Squire, whose ordinary
riding-horse was an old hunter, halted, turned, and, no gate being
visible, put the horse over a stiff fence and vanished in the direction
of old Mondell’s chimney-pots. Kenelm, scarcely hearing his host’s
instructions to Cecilia and excuses to himself, remained still and
gazing on the old tower thus abruptly obtruded on his view.

Though no learned antiquarian like his father, Kenelm had a strange
fascinating interest in all relics of the past; and old gray towers,
where they are not church towers, are very rarely to be seen in England.
All around the old gray tower spoke with an unutterable mournfulness
of a past in ruins: you could see remains of some large Gothic building
once attached to it, rising here and there in fragments of deeply
buttressed walls; you could see in a dry ditch, between high ridges,
where there had been a fortified moat: nay, you could even see where
once had been the bailey hill from which a baron of old had dispensed
justice. Seldom indeed does the most acute of antiquarians discover
that remnant of Norman times on lands still held by the oldest of
Anglo-Norman families. Then, the wild nature of the demesne around;
those ranges of sward, with those old giant oak-trunks, hollowed within
and pollarded at top,--all spoke, in unison with the gray tower, of a
past as remote from the reign of Victoria as the Pyramids are from the
sway of the Viceroy of Egypt.

“Let us turn back,” said Miss Travers; “my father would not like me to
stay here.”

“Pardon me a moment. I wish my father were here; he would stay till
sunset. But what is the history of that old tower? a history it must
have.”

“Every home has a history, even a peasant’s hut,” said Cecilia. “But do
pardon me if I ask you to comply with my father’s request. I at least
must turn back.”

Thus commanded, Kenelm reluctantly withdrew his gaze from the ruin and
regained Cecilia, who was already some paces in return down the lane.

“I am far from a very inquisitive man by temperament,” said Kenelm, “so
far as the affairs of the living are concerned. But I should not care to
open a book if I had no interest in the past. Pray indulge my curiosity
to learn something about that old tower. It could not look more
melancholy and solitary if I had built it myself.”

“Its most melancholy associations are with a very recent past,” answered
Cecilia. “The tower, in remote times, formed the keep of a castle
belonging to the most ancient and once the most powerful family in these
parts. The owners were barons who took active share in the Wars of the
Roses. The last of them sided with Richard III., and after the battle
of Bosworth the title was attainted, and the larger portion of the lands
was confiscated. Loyalty to a Plantagenet was of course treason to
a Tudor. But the regeneration of the family rested with their direct
descendants, who had saved from the general wreck of their fortunes what
may be called a good squire’s estate,--about, perhaps, the same rental
as my father’s, but of much larger acreage. These squires, however,
were more looked up to in the county than the wealthiest peer. They
were still by far the oldest family in the county; and traced in their
pedigree alliances with the most illustrious houses in English history.
In themselves too for many generations they were a high-spirited,
hospitable, popular race, living unostentatiously on their income, and
contented with their rank of squires. The castle, ruined by time and
siege, they did not attempt to restore. They dwelt in a house near to
it, built about Elizabeth’s time, which you could not see, for it lies
in a hollow behind the tower,--a moderate-sized, picturesque, country
gentleman’s house. Our family intermarried with them,--the portrait you
saw was a daughter of their house,--and very proud was any squire in the
county of intermarriage with the Fletwodes.”

“Fletwode,--that was their name? I have a vague recollection of having
heard the name connected with some disastrous--oh, but it can’t be the
same family: pray go on.”

“I fear it is the same family. But I will finish the story as I have
heard it. The property descended at last to one Bertram Fletwode, who,
unfortunately, obtained the reputation of being a very clever man of
business. There was some mining company in which, with other gentlemen
in the county, he took great interest; invested largely in shares;
became the head of the direction--”

“I see; and was of course ruined.”

“No; worse than that: he became very rich; and, unhappily, became
desirous of being richer still. I have heard that there was a great
mania for speculations just about that time. He embarked in these, and
prospered, till at last he was induced to invest a large share of the
fortune thus acquired in the partnership of a bank which enjoyed a high
character. Up to that time he had retained popularity and esteem in
the county; but the squires who shared in the adventures of the mining
company, and knew little or nothing about other speculations in which
his name did not appear, professed to be shocked at the idea of a
Fletwode of Fletwode being ostensibly joined in partnership with a Jones
of Clapham in a London bank.”

“Slow folks, those country squires,--behind the progress of the age.
Well?”

“I have heard that Bertram Fletwode was himself very reluctant to take
this step, but was persuaded to do so by his son. This son, Alfred, was
said to have still greater talents for business than the father, and
had been not only associated with but consulted by him in all the later
speculations which had proved so fortunate. Mrs. Campion knew Alfred
Fletwode very well. She describes him as handsome, with quick, eager
eyes; showy and imposing in his talk; immensely ambitious, more
ambitious than avaricious,--collecting money less for its own sake than
for that which it could give,--rank and power. According to her it was
the dearest wish of his heart to claim the old barony, but not before
there could go with the barony a fortune adequate to the lustre of a
title so ancient, and equal to the wealth of modern peers with higher
nominal rank.”

“A poor ambition at the best; of the two I should prefer that of a poet
in a garret. But I am no judge. Thank Heaven I have no ambition.
Still, all ambition, all desire to rise, is interesting to him who is
ignominiously contented if he does not fall. So the son had his way,
and Fletwode joined company with Jones on the road to wealth and the
peerage; meanwhile did the son marry? if so, of course the daughter of
a duke or a millionnaire. Tuft-hunting, or money-making, at the risk of
degradation and the workhouse. Progress of the age!”

“No,” replied Cecilia, smiling at this outburst, but smiling sadly,
“Fletwode did not marry the daughter of a duke or a millionnaire; but
still his wife belonged to a noble family,--very poor, but very proud.
Perhaps he married from motives of ambition, though not of gain. Her
father was of much political influence that might perhaps assist his
claim to the barony. The mother, a woman of the world, enjoying a high
social position, and nearly related to a connection of ours,--Lady
Glenalvon.”

“Lady Glenalvon, the dearest of my lady friends! You are connected with
her?”

“Yes; Lord Glenalvon was my mother’s uncle. But I wish to finish my
story before my father joins us. Alfred Fletwode did not marry till long
after the partnership in the bank. His father, at his desire, had bought
up the whole business, Mr. Jones having died. The bank was carried on
in the names of Fletwode and Son. But the father had become merely a
nominal or what I believe is called a ‘sleeping’ partner. He had long
ceased to reside in the county. The old house was not grand enough for
him. He had purchased a palatial residence in one of the home counties;
lived there in great splendour; was a munificent patron of science
and art; and in spite of his earlier addictions to business-like
speculations he appears to have been a singularly accomplished,
high-bred gentleman. Some years before his son’s marriage, Mr. Fletwode
had been afflicted with partial paralysis, and his medical attendant
enjoined rigid abstention from business. From that time he never
interfered with his son’s management of the bank. He had an only
daughter, much younger than Alfred. Lord Eagleton, my mother’s brother,
was engaged to be married to her. The wedding-day was fixed,--when the
world was startled by the news that the great firm of Fletwode and Son
had stopped payment; is that the right phrase?”

“I believe so.”

“A great many people were ruined in that failure. The public indignation
was very great. Of course all the Fletwode property went to the
creditors. Old Mr. Fletwode was legally acquitted of all other offence
than that of overconfidence in his son. Alfred was convicted of
fraud,--of forgery. I don’t, of course, know the particulars, they are
very complicated. He was sentenced to a long term of servitude, but
died the day he was condemned; apparently by poison, which he had long
secreted about his person. Now you can understand why my father, who
is almost gratuitously sensitive on the point of honour, removed into a
dark corner the portrait of Arabella Fletwode,--his own ancestress, but
also the ancestress of a convicted felon: you can understand why the
whole subject is so painful to him. His wife’s brother was to have
married the felon’s sister; and though, of course, that marriage was
tacitly broken off by the terrible disgrace that had befallen the
Fletwodes, yet I don’t think my poor uncle ever recovered the blow to
his hopes. He went abroad, and died in Madeira of a slow decline.”

“And the felon’s sister, did she die too?”

“No; not that I know of. Mrs. Campion says that she saw in a newspaper
the announcement of old Mr. Fletwode’s death, and a paragraph to the
effect that after that event Miss Fletwode had sailed from Liverpool to
New York.”

“Alfred Fletwode’s wife went back, of course, to her family?”

“Alas! no,--poor thing! She had not been many months married when the
bank broke; and among his friends her wretched husband appears to have
forged the names of the trustees to her marriage settlement, and sold
out the sums which would otherwise have served her as a competence.
Her father, too, was a great sufferer by the bankruptcy, having by
his son-in-law’s advice placed a considerable portion of his moderate
fortune in Alfred’s hands for investment, all of which was involved in
the general wreck. I am afraid he was a very hard-hearted man: at all
events his poor daughter never returned to him. She died, I think, even
before the death of Bertram Fletwode. The whole story is very dismal.”

“Dismal indeed, but pregnant with salutary warnings to those who live
in an age of progress. Here you see a family of fair fortune, living
hospitably, beloved, revered, more looked up to by their neighbours than
the wealthiest nobles; no family not proud to boast alliance with it.
All at once, in the tranquil record of this happy race, appears that
darling of the age, that hero of progress,--a clever man of business. He
be contented to live as his fathers! He be contented with such trifles
as competence, respect, and love! Much too clever for that. The age is
money-making,--go with the age! He goes with the age. Born a gentleman
only, he exalts himself into a trader. But at least he, it seems, if
greedy, was not dishonest. He was born a gentleman, but his son was
born a trader. The son is a still cleverer man of business; the son is
consulted and trusted. Aha! He too goes with the age; to greed he
links ambition. The trader’s son wishes to return--what? to the rank of
gentleman?--gentleman! nonsense! everybody is a gentleman nowadays,--to
the title of Lord. How ends it all! Could I sit but for twelve hours in
the innermost heart of that Alfred Fletwode; could I see how, step by
step from his childhood, the dishonest son was avariciously led on by
the honest father to depart from the old _vestigia_ of Fletwodes of
Fletwode,--scorning The Enough to covet The More, gaining The More to
sigh, ‘It is not The Enough,’--I think I might show that the age lives
in a house of glass, and had better not for its own sake throw stones on
the felon!”

“Ah, but, Mr. Chillingly, surely this is a very rare exception in the
general--”

“Rare!” interrupted Kenelm, who was excited to a warmth of passion which
would have startled his most intimate friend,-if indeed an intimate
friend had ever been vouchsafed to him,--“rare! nay, how common--I don’t
say to the extent of forgery and fraud, but to the extent of degradation
and ruin--is the greed of a Little More to those who have The Enough! is
the discontent with competence, respect, and love, when catching sight
of a money-bag! How many well-descended county families, cursed with
an heir who is called a clever man of business, have vanished from the
soil! A company starts, the clever man joins it one bright day. Pouf!
the old estates and the old name are powder. Ascend higher. Take nobles
whose ancestral titles ought to be to English ears like the sound of
clarions, awakening the most slothful to the scorn of money-bags and
the passion for renown. Lo! in that mocking dance of death called
the Progress of the Age, one who did not find Enough in a sovereign’s
revenue, and seeks The Little More as a gambler on the turf by the
advice of blacklegs! Lo! another, with lands wider than his greatest
ancestors ever possessed, must still go in for The Little More, adding
acre to acre, heaping debt upon debt! Lo! a third, whose name, borne by
his ancestors, was once the terror of England’s foes,--the landlord of
a hotel! A fourth,--but why go on through the list? Another and another
still succeeds; each on the Road to Ruin, each in the Age of Progress.
Ah, Miss Travers! in the old time it was through the Temple of Honour
that one passed to the Temple of Fortune. In this wise age the process
is reversed. But here comes your father.”

“A thousand pardons!” said Leopold Travers. “That numskull Mondell kept
me so long with his old-fashioned Tory doubts whether liberal politics
are favourable to agricultural prospects. But as he owes a round sum to
a Whig lawyer I had to talk with his wife, a prudent woman; convinced
her that his own agricultural prospects were safest on the Whig side of
the question; and, after kissing his baby and shaking his hand, booked
his vote for George Belvoir,--a plumper.”

“I suppose,” said Kenelm to himself, and with that candour which
characterized him whenever he talked to himself, “that Travers has taken
the right road to the Temple, not of Honour, but of honours, in every
country, ancient or modern, which has adopted the system of popular
suffrage.”



CHAPTER XVII.

THE next day Mrs. Campion and Cecilia were seated under the veranda.
They were both ostensibly employed on two several pieces of embroidery,
one intended for a screen, the other for a sofa-cushion; but the mind of
neither was on her work.

MRS. CAMPION.--“Has Mr. Chillingly said when he means to take leave?”

CECILIA.--“Not to me. How much my dear father enjoys his conversation!”

MRS. CAMPION.--“Cynicism and mockery were not so much the fashion among
young men in your father’s day as I suppose they are now, and therefore
they seem new to Mr. Travers. To me they are not new, because I saw
more of the old than the young when I lived in London, and cynicism and
mockery are more natural to men who are leaving the world than to those
who are entering it.”

CECILIA.--“Dear Mrs. Campion, how bitter you are, and how unjust!
You take much too literally the jesting way in which Mr. Chillingly
expresses himself. There can be no cynicism in one who goes out of his
way to make others happy.”

MRS. CAMPION.--“You mean in the whim of making an ill-assorted marriage
between a pretty village flirt and a sickly cripple, and settling a
couple of peasants in a business for which they are wholly unfitted.”

CECILIA.--“Jessie Wiles is not a flirt, and I am convinced that she will
make Will Somers a very good wife, and that the shop will be a great
success.”

MRS. CAMPION.--“We shall see. Still, if Mr. Chillingly’s talk belies his
actions, he may be a good man, but he is a very affected one.”

CECILIA.--“Have I not heard you say that there are persons so natural
that they seem affected to those who do not understand them?”

Mrs. Campion raised her eyes to Cecilia’s face, dropped them again over
her work, and said, in grave undertones,--“Take care, Cecilia.”

“Take care of what?”

“My dearest child, forgive me; but I do not like the warmth with which
you defend Mr. Chillingly.”

“Would not my father defend him still more warmly if he had heard you?”

“Men judge of men in their relations to men. I am a woman, and judge of
men in their relations to women. I should tremble for the happiness of
any woman who joined her fate with that of Kenelm Chillingly.”

“My dear friend, I do not understand you to-day.”

“Nay; I did not mean to be so solemn, my love. After all, it is nothing
to us whom Mr. Chillingly may or may not marry. He is but a passing
visitor, and, once gone, the chances are that we may not see him again
for years.”

Thus speaking, Mrs. Campion again raised her eyes from her work,
stealing a sidelong glance at Cecilia; and her mother-like heart sank
within her, on noticing how suddenly pale the girl had become, and how
her lips quivered. Mrs. Campion had enough knowledge of life to feel
aware that she had committed a grievous blunder. In that earliest stage
of virgin affection, when a girl is unconscious of more than a certain
vague interest in one man which distinguishes him from others in her
thoughts,--if she hears him unjustly disparaged, if some warning against
him is implied, if the probability that he will never be more to her
than a passing acquaintance is forcibly obtruded on her,--suddenly that
vague interest, which might otherwise have faded away with many another
girlish fancy, becomes arrested, consolidated; the quick pang it
occasions makes her involuntarily, and for the first time, question
herself, and ask, “Do I love?” But when a girl of a nature so delicate
as that of Cecilia Travers can ask herself the question, “Do I love?”
 her very modesty, her very shrinking from acknowledging that any power
over her thoughts for weal or for woe can be acquired by a man, except
through the sanction of that love which only becomes divine in her eyes
when it is earnest and pure and self-devoted, makes her prematurely
disposed to answer “yes.” And when a girl of such a nature in her own
heart answers “yes” to such a question, even if she deceive herself at
the moment, she begins to cherish the deceit till the belief in her love
becomes a reality. She has adopted a religion, false or true, and she
would despise herself if she could be easily converted.

Mrs. Campion had so contrived that she had forced that question upon
Cecilia, and she feared, by the girl’s change of countenance, that the
girl’s heart had answered “yes.”



CHAPTER XVIII.

WHILE the conversation just narrated took place, Kenelm had walked forth
to pay a visit to Will Somers. All obstacles to Will’s marriage were now
cleared away; the transfer of lease for the shop had been signed, and
the banns were to be published for the first time on the following
Sunday. We need not say that Will was very happy. Kenelm then paid a
visit to Mrs. Bowles, with whom he stayed an hour. On reentering the
Park, he saw Travers, walking slowly, with downcast eyes and his hands
clasped behind him (his habit when in thought). He did not observe
Kenelm’s approach till within a few feet of him, and he then greeted his
guest in listless accents, unlike his usual cheerful tones.

“I have been visiting the man you have made so happy,” said Kenelm.

“Who can that be?”

“Will Somers. Do you make so many people happy that your reminiscence of
them is lost in their number?”

Travers smiled faintly, and shook his head.

Kenelm went on. “I have also seen Mrs. Bowles, and you will be pleased
to hear that Tom is satisfied with his change of abode: there is no
chance of his returning to Graveleigh; and Mrs. Bowles took very kindly
to my suggestion that the little property you wish for should be sold
to you, and, in that case, she would remove to Luscombe to be near her
son.”

“I thank you much for your thought of me,” said Travers, “and the affair
shall be seen to at once, though the purchase is no longer important to
me. I ought to have told you three days ago, but it slipped my memory,
that a neighbouring squire, a young fellow just come into his property,
has offered to exchange a capital farm, much nearer to my residence,
for the lands I hold in Graveleigh, including Saunderson’s farm and the
cottages: they are quite at the outskirts of my estate, but run into
his, and the exchange will be advantageous to both. Still I am glad that
the neighbourhood should be thoroughly rid of a brute like Tom Bowles.”

“You would not call him brute if you knew him; but I am sorry to hear
that Will Somers will be under another landlord.”

“It does not matter, since his tenure is secured for fourteen years.”

“What sort of man is the new landlord?”

“I don’t know much of him. He was in the army till his father died,
and has only just made his appearance in the county. He has, however,
already earned the character of being too fond of the other sex: it is
well that pretty Jessie is to be safely married.”

Travers then relapsed into a moody silence from which Kenelm found it
difficult to rouse him. At length the latter said kindly,--

“My dear Mr. Travers, do not think I take a liberty if I venture to
guess that something has happened this morning which troubles or vexes
you. When that is the case, it is often a relief to say what it is, even
to a confidant so unable to advise or to comfort as myself.”

“You are a good fellow, Chillingly, and I know not, at least in these
parts, a man to whom I would unburden myself more freely. I am put out,
I confess; disappointed unreasonably, in a cherished wish, and,” he
added, with a slight laugh, “it always annoys me when I don’t have my
own way.”

“So it does me.”

“Don’t you think that George Belvoir is a very fine young man?”

“Certainly.”

“_I_ call him handsome; he is steadier, too, than most men of his
age, and of his command of money; and yet he does not want spirit nor
knowledge of life. To every advantage of rank and fortune he adds the
industry and the ambition which attain distinction in public life.”

“Quite true. Is he going to withdraw from the election after all?”

“Good heavens, no!”

“Then how does he not let you have your own way?”

“It is not he,” said Travers, peevishly; “it is Cecilia. Don’t you
understand that George is precisely the husband I would choose for her;
and this morning came a very well written manly letter from him, asking
my permission to pay his addresses to her.”

“But that is your own way so far.”

“Yes, and here comes the balk. Of course I had to refer it to Cecilia,
and she positively declines, and has no reasons to give; does not deny
that George is good-looking and sensible, that he is a man of whose
preference any girl might be proud; but she chooses to say she cannot
love him, and when I ask why she cannot love him, has no other answer
than that ‘she cannot say.’ It is too provoking.”

“It is provoking,” answered Kenelm; “but then Love is the most
dunderheaded of all the passions; it never will listen to reason. The
very rudiments of logic are unknown to it. ‘Love has no wherefore,’ says
one of those Latin poets who wrote love-verses called elegies,--a name
which we moderns appropriate to funeral dirges. For my own part, I can’t
understand how any one can be expected voluntarily to make up his mind
to go out of his mind. And if Miss Travers cannot go out of her mind
because George Belvoir does, you could not argue her into doing so if
you talked till doomsday.”

Travers smiled in spite of himself, but he answered gravely, “Certainly,
I would not wish Cissy to marry any man she disliked, but she does not
dislike George; no girl could: and where that is the case, a girl so
sensible, so affectionate, so well brought up, is sure to love, after
marriage, a thoroughly kind and estimable man, especially when she has
no previous attachment,--which, of course, Cissy never had. In fact,
though I do not wish to force my daughter’s will, I am not yet disposed
to give up my own. Do you understand?”

“Perfectly.”

“I am the more inclined to a marriage so desirable in every way, because
when Cissy comes out in London, which she has not yet done, she is
sure to collect round her face and her presumptive inheritance all the
handsome fortune-hunters and titled _vauriens_; and if in love there
is no wherefore, how can I be sure that she may not fall in love with a
scamp?”

“I think you may be sure of that,” said Kenelm. “Miss Travers has too
much mind.”

“Yes, at present; but did you not say that in love people go out of
their mind?”

“True! I forgot that.”

“I am not then disposed to dismiss poor George’s offer with a decided
negative, and yet it would be unfair to mislead him by encouragement. In
fact, I’ll be hanged if I know how to reply.”

“You think Miss Travers does not dislike George Belvoir, and if she saw
more of him may like him better, and it would be good for her as well as
for him not to put an end to that, chance?”

“Exactly so.”

“Why not then write: ‘My dear George,--You have my best wishes, but my
daughter does not seem disposed to marry at present. Let me consider
your letter not written, and continue on the same terms as we were
before.’ Perhaps, as George knows Virgil, you might find your own
schoolboy recollections of that poet useful here, and add, _Varium et
mutabile semper femina_; hackneyed, but true.”

“My dear Chillingly, your suggestion is capital. How the deuce at your
age have you contrived to know the world so well?”

Kenelm answered in the pathetic tones so natural to his voice, “By being
only a looker-on; alas!”

Leopold Travers felt much relieved after he had written his reply
to George. He had not been quite so ingenuous in his revelation to
Chillingly as he may have seemed. Conscious, like all proud and
fond fathers, of his daughter’s attractions, he was not without some
apprehension that Kenelm himself might entertain an ambition at variance
with that of George Belvoir: if so, he deemed it well to put an end to
such ambition while yet in time: partly because his interest was already
pledged to George; partly because, in rank and fortune, George was the
better match; partly because George was of the same political party as
himself,--while Sir Peter, and probably Sir Peter’s heir, espoused the
opposite side; and partly also because, with all his personal liking to
Kenelm, Leopold Travers, as a very sensible, practical man of the world,
was not sure that a baronet’s heir who tramped the country on foot in
the dress of a petty farmer, and indulged pugilistic propensities in
martial encounters with stalwart farriers, was likely to make a safe
husband and a comfortable son-in-law. Kenelm’s words, and still more his
manner, convinced Travers that any apprehensions of rivalry that he had
previously conceived were utterly groundless.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE same evening, after dinner (during that lovely summer month they
dined at Neesdale Park at an unfashionably early hour), Kenelm, in
company with Travers and Cecilia, ascended a gentle eminence at the back
of the gardens, on which there were some picturesque ivy-grown ruins of
an ancient priory, and commanding the best view of a glorious sunset and
a subject landscape of vale and wood, rivulet and distant hills.

“Is the delight in scenery,” said Kenelm, “really an acquired gift,
as some philosophers tell us? Is it true that young children and rude
savages do not feel it; that the eye must be educated to comprehend its
charm, and that the eye can be only educated through the mind?”

“I should think your philosophers are right,” said Travers. “When I was
a schoolboy, I thought no scenery was like the flat of a cricket ground;
when I hunted at Melton, I thought that unpicturesque country more
beautiful than Devonshire. It is only of late years that I feel a
sensible pleasure in scenery for its own sake, apart from associations
of custom or the uses to which we apply them.”

“And what say you, Miss Travers?”

“I scarcely know what to say,” answered Cecilia, musingly. “I can
remember no time in my childhood when I did not feel delight in that
which seemed to me beautiful in scenery, but I suspect that I vaguely
distinguished one kind of beauty from another. A common field with
daisies and buttercups was beautiful to me then, and I doubt if I saw
anything more beautiful in extensive landscapes.”

“True,” said Kenelm: “it is not in early childhood that we carry the
sight into distance: as is the mind so is the eye; in early childhood
the mind revels in the present, and the eye rejoices most in the things
nearest to it. I don’t think in childhood that we--

 “‘Watched with wistful eyes the setting sun.’”

“Ah! what a world of thought in that word ‘wistful’!” murmured Cecilia,
as her gaze riveted itself on the western heavens, towards which Kenelm
had pointed as he spoke, where the enlarging orb rested half its disk on
the rim of the horizon.

She had seated herself on a fragment of the ruin, backed by the hollows
of a broken arch. The last rays of the sun lingered on her young face,
and then lost themselves in the gloom of the arch behind. There was a
silence for some minutes, during which the sun had sunk. Rosy clouds in
thin flakes still floated, momently waning: and the eve-star stole forth
steadfast, bright, and lonely,--nay, lonely not now; that sentinel has
aroused a host.

Said a voice, “No sign of rain yet, Squire. What will become of the
turnips?”

“Real life again! Who can escape it?” muttered Kenelm, as his eye rested
on the burly figure of the Squire’s bailiff.

“Ha! North,” said Travers, “what brings you here? No bad news, I hope?”

“Indeed, yes, Squire. The Durham bull--”

“The Durham bull! What of him? You frighten me.”

“Taken bad. Colic.”

“Excuse me, Chillingly,” cried Travers; “I must be off. A most valuable
animal, and no one I can trust to doctor him but myself.”

“That’s true enough,” said the bailiff, admiringly. “There’s not a
veterinary in the county like the Squire.”

Travers was already gone, and the panting bailiff had hard work to catch
him up.

Kenelm seated himself beside Cecilia on the ruined fragment.

“How I envy your father!” said he.

“Why just at this moment,--because he knows how to doctor the bull?”
 said Cecilia, with a sweet low laugh.

“Well, that is something to envy. It is a pleasure to relieve from pain
any of God’s creatures,--even a Durham bull.”

“Indeed, yes. I am justly rebuked.”

“On the contrary you are to be justly praised. Your question suggested
to me an amiable sentiment in place of the selfish one which was
uppermost in my thoughts. I envied your father because he creates for
himself so many objects of interest; because while he can appreciate the
mere sensuous enjoyment of a landscape and a sunset, he can find mental
excitement in turnip crops and bulls. Happy, Miss Travers, is the
Practical Man.”

“When my dear father was as young as you, Mr. Chillingly, I am sure that
he had no more interest in turnips and bulls than you have. I do not
doubt that some day you will be as practical as he is in that respect.”

“Do you think so--sincerely?”

Cecilia made no answer.

Kenelm repeated the question.

“Sincerely, then, I do not know whether you will take interest in
precisely the same things that interest my father; but there are other
things than turnips and cattle which belong to what you call ‘practical
life,’ and in these you will take interest, as you took in the fortunes
of Will Somers and Jessie Wiles.”

“That was no practical interest. I got nothing by it. But even if that
interest were practical,--I mean productive, as cattle and turnip crops
are,--a succession of Somerses and Wileses is not to be hoped for.
History never repeats itself.”

“May I answer you, though very humbly?”

“Miss Travers, the wisest man that ever existed never was wise enough
to know woman; but I think most men ordinarily wise will agree in this,
that woman is by no means a humble creature, and that when she says she
‘answers very humbly,’ she does not mean what she says. Permit me to
entreat you to answer very loftily.”

Cecilia laughed and blushed. The laugh was musical; the blush was--what?
Let any man, seated beside a girl like Cecilia at starry twilight, find
the right epithet for that blush. I pass it by epithetless. But she
answered, firmly though sweetly,--

“Are there not things very practical, and affecting the happiness, not
of one or two individuals, but of innumerable thousands, in which a man
like Mr. Chillingly cannot fail to feel interest, long before he is my
father’s age?”

“Forgive me: you do not answer; you question. I imitate you, and ask
what are those things as applicable to a man like Mr. Chillingly?”

Cecilia gathered herself up, as with the desire to express a great deal
in short substance, and then said,--

“In the expression of thought, literature; in the conduct of action,
politics.”

Kenelm Chillingly stared, dumfounded. I suppose the greatest enthusiast
for woman’s rights could not assert more reverentially than he did the
cleverness of women; but among the things which the cleverness of woman
did not achieve, he had always placed “laconics.” “No woman,” he was
wont to say, “ever invented an axiom or a proverb.”

“Miss Travers,” he said at last, “before we proceed further, vouchsafe
to tell me if that very terse reply of yours is spontaneous and
original; or whether you have not borrowed it from some book which I
have not chanced to read?”

Cecilia pondered honestly, and then said, “I don’t think it is from any
book; but I owe so many of my thoughts to Mrs. Campion, and she lived so
much among clever men, that--”

“I see it all, and accept your definition, no matter whence it came.
You think I might become an author or a politician. Did you ever read an
essay by a living author called ‘Motive Power’?”

“No.”

“That essay is designed to intimate that without motive power a man,
whatever his talents or his culture, does nothing practical. The
mainsprings of motive power are Want and Ambition. They are absent
from my mechanism. By the accident of birth I do not require bread and
cheese; by the accident of temperament and of philosophical culture
I care nothing about praise or blame. But without want of bread and
cheese, and with a most stolid indifference to praise and blame, do you
honestly think that a man will do anything practical in literature or
politics? Ask Mrs. Campion.”

“I will not ask her. Is the sense of duty nothing?”

“Alas! we interpret duty so variously. Of mere duty, as we commonly
understand the word, I do not think I shall fail more than other men.
But for the fair development of all the good that is in us, do you
believe that we should adopt some line of conduct against which our
whole heart rebels? Can you say to the clerk, ‘Be a poet’? Can you say
to the poet, ‘Be a clerk’? It is no more to the happiness of a man’s
being to order him to take to one career when his whole heart is set
on another, than it is to order him to marry one woman when it is to
another woman that his heart will turn.”

Cecilia here winced and looked away. Kenelm had more tact than most men
of his age,--that is, a keener perception of subjects to avoid; but then
Kenelm had a wretched habit of forgetting the person he talked to and
talking to himself. Utterly oblivious of George Belvoir, he was talking
to himself now. Not then observing the effect his _mal-a-propos_ dogma
had produced on his listener, he went on, “Happiness is a word very
lightly used. It may mean little; it may mean much. By the word
happiness I would signify, not the momentary joy of a child who gets
a plaything, but the lasting harmony between our inclinations and our
objects; and without that harmony we are a discord to ourselves, we are
incompletions, we are failures. Yet there are plenty of advisers who say
to us, ‘It is a duty to be a discord.’ I deny it.”

Here Cecilia rose and said in a low voice, “It is getting late. We must
go homeward.”

They descended the green eminence slowly, and at first in silence.
The bats, emerging from the ivied ruins they left behind, flitted and
skimmed before them, chasing the insects of the night. A moth, escaping
from its pursuer, alighted on Cecilia’s breast, as if for refuge.

“The bats are practical,” said Kenelm; “they are hungry, and their
motive power to-night is strong. Their interest is in the insects they
chase. They have no interest in the stars; but the stars lure the moth.”

Cecilia drew her slight scarf over the moth, so that it might not
fly off and become a prey to the bats. “Yet,” said she, “the moth is
practical too.”

“Ay, just now, since it has found an asylum from the danger that
threatened it in its course towards the stars.”

Cecilia felt the beating of her heart, upon which lay the moth
concealed. Did she think that a deeper and more tender meaning than they
outwardly expressed was couched in these words? If so, she erred. They
now neared the garden gate, and Kenelm paused as he opened it. “See,”
 he said, “the moon has just risen over those dark firs, making the still
night stiller. Is it not strange that we mortals, placed amid perpetual
agitation and tumult and strife, as if our natural element, conceive a
sense of holiness in the images antagonistic to our real life; I mean
in images of repose? I feel at the moment as if I suddenly were
made better, now that heaven and earth have suddenly become yet more
tranquil. I am now conscious of a purer and sweeter moral than either I
or you drew from the insect you have sheltered. I must come to the poets
to express it,--


 “‘The desire of the moth for the star,
   Of the night for the morrow;
  The devotion to something afar
   From the sphere of our sorrow.’


“Oh, that something afar! that something afar! never to be reached on
this earth,--never, never!”

There was such a wail in that cry from the man’s heart that Cecilia
could not resist the impulse of a divine compassion. She laid her hand
on his, and looked on the dark wildness of his upward face with eyes
that Heaven meant to be wells of comfort to grieving man. At the light
touch of that hand Kenelm started, looked down, and met those soothing
eyes.

“I am happy to tell you that I have saved my Durham,” cried out Mr.
Travers from the other side of the gate.



CHAPTER XX.

AS Kenelm that night retired to his own room, he paused on the
landing-place opposite to the portrait which Mr. Travers had consigned
to that desolate exile. This daughter of a race dishonoured in its
extinction might well have been the glory of the house she had entered
as a bride. The countenance was singularly beautiful, and of a character
of beauty eminently patrician; there was in its expression a gentleness
and modesty not often found in the female portraits of Sir Peter
Lely, and in the eyes and in the smile a wonderful aspect of innocent
happiness.

“What a speaking homily,” soliloquized Kenelm, addressing the picture,
“against the ambition thy fair descendant would awake in me, art thou,
O lovely image! For generations thy beauty lived in this canvas, a thing
of joy, the pride of the race it adorned. Owner after owner said
to admiring guests, ‘Yes, a fine portrait, by Lely; she was my
ancestress,--a Fletwode of Fletwode.’ Now, lest guests should remember
that a Fletwode married a Travers thou art thrust out of sight; not even
Lely’s art can make thee of value, can redeem thine innocent self from
disgrace. And the last of the Fletwodes, doubtless the most ambitious of
all, the most bent on restoring and regilding the old lordly name, dies
a felon; the infamy of one living man is so large that it can blot
out the honour of the dead.” He turned his eyes from the smile of
the portrait, entered his own room, and, seating himself by the
writing-table, drew blotting-book and note-paper towards him, took
up the pen, and instead of writing fell into deep revery. There was a
slight frown on his brow, on which frowns were rare. He was very angry
with himself.

“Kenelm,” he said, entering into his customary dialogue with that self,
“it becomes you, forsooth, to moralize about the honour of races which
have no affinity with you. Son of Sir Peter Chillingly, look at home.
Are you quite sure that you have not said or done or looked a something
that may bring trouble to the hearth on which you are received as guest?
What right had you to be moaning forth your egotisms, not remembering
that your words fell on compassionate ears, and that such words, heard
at moonlight by a girl whose heart they move to pity, may have dangers
for her peace? Shame on you, Kenelm! shame! knowing too what her
father’s wish is; and knowing too that you have not the excuse of
desiring to win that fair creature for yourself. What do you mean,
Kenelm? I don’t hear you; speak out. Oh, ‘that I am a vain coxcomb to
fancy that she could take a fancy to me:’ well, perhaps I am; I hope so
earnestly; and at all events, there has been and shall be no time for
much mischief. We are off to-morrow, Kenelm; bestir yourself and pack
up, write your letters, and then ‘put out the light,--put out _the_
light!’”

But this converser with himself did not immediately set to work, as
agreed upon by that twofold one. He rose and walked restlessly to and
fro the floor, stopping ever and anon to look at the pictures on the
walls.

Several of the worst painted of the family portraits had been consigned
to the room tenanted by Kenelm, which, though both the oldest and
largest bed-chamber in the house, was always appropriated to a bachelor
male guest, partly because it was without dressing-room, remote, and
only approached by the small back-staircase, to the landing-place of
which Arabella had been banished in disgrace; and partly because it had
the reputation of being haunted, and ladies are more alarmed by that
superstition than men are supposed to be. The portraits on which Kenelm
now paused to gaze were of various dates, from the reign of Elizabeth to
that of George III., none of them by eminent artists, and none of them
the effigies of ancestors who had left names in history,--in short, such
portraits as are often seen in the country houses of well-born squires.
One family type of features or expression pervaded most of these
portraits; features clear-cut and hardy, expression open and honest.
And though not one of those dead men had been famous, each of them had
contributed his unostentatious share, in his own simple way, to the
movements of his time. That worthy in ruff and corselet had manned his
own ship at his own cost against the Armada; never had been repaid by
the thrifty Burleigh the expenses which had harassed him and diminished
his patrimony; never had been even knighted. That gentleman with short
straight hair, which overhung his forehead, leaning on his sword
with one hand, and a book open in the other hand, had served as
representative of his county town in the Long Parliament, fought under
Cromwell at Marston Moor, and, resisting the Protector when he removed
the “bauble,” was one of the patriots incarcerated in “Hell hole.” He,
too, had diminished his patrimony, maintaining two troopers and two
horses at his own charge, and “Hell hole” was all he got in return.
A third, with a sleeker expression of countenance, and a large wig,
flourishing in the quiet times of Charles II., had only been a justice
of the peace, but his alert look showed that he had been a very active
one. He had neither increased nor diminished his ancestral fortune. A
fourth, in the costume of William III.’s reign, had somewhat added to
the patrimony by becoming a lawyer. He must have been a successful one.
He is inscribed “Sergeant-at-law.” A fifth, a lieutenant in the army,
was killed at Blenheim; his portrait was that of a very young and
handsome man, taken the year before his death. His wife’s portrait is
placed in the drawing-room because it was painted by Kneller. She was
handsome too, and married again a nobleman, whose portrait, of course,
was not in the family collection. Here there was a gap in chronological
arrangement, the lieutenant’s heir being an infant; but in the time
of George II. another Travers appeared as the governor of a West India
colony. His son took part in a very different movement of the age. He is
represented old, venerable, with white hair, and underneath his
effigy is inscribed, “Follower of Wesley.” His successor completes the
collection. He is in naval uniform; he is in full length, and one of his
legs is a wooden one. He is Captain, R.N., and inscribed, “Fought under
Nelson at Trafalgar.” That portrait would have found more dignified
place in the reception-rooms if the face had not been forbiddingly ugly,
and the picture itself a villanous daub.

“I see,” said Kenelm, stopping short, “why Cecilia Travers has been
reared to talk of duty as a practical interest in life. These men of a
former time seem to have lived to discharge a duty, and not to follow
the progress of the age in the chase of a money-bag,--except perhaps
one, but then to be sure he was a lawyer. Kenelm, rouse up and listen
to me; whatever we are, whether active or indolent, is not my favourite
maxim a just and a true one; namely, ‘A good man does good by living’?
But, for that, he must be a harmony and not a discord. Kenelm, you lazy
dog, we must pack up.”

Kenelm then refilled his portmanteau, and labelled and directed it to
Exmundham, after which he wrote these three notes:--


NOTE I.

TO THE MARCHIONESS OF GLENALVON.

MY DEAR FRIEND AND MONITRESS,--I have left your last letter a month
unanswered. I could not reply to your congratulations on the event of my
attaining the age of twenty-one. That event is a conventional sham,
and you know how I abhor shams and conventions. The truth is that I am
either much younger than twenty-one or much older. As to all designs on
my peace in standing for our county at the next election, I wished to
defeat them, and I have done so; and now I have commenced a course of
travel. I had intended on starting to confine it to my native country.
Intentions are mutable. I am going abroad. You shall hear of my
whereabout. I write this from the house of Leopold Travers, who, I
understand from his fair daughter, is a connection of yours; a man to be
highly esteemed and cordially liked.

No, in spite of all your flattering predictions, I shall never be
anything in this life more distinguished than what I am now. Lady
Glenalvon allows me to sign myself her grateful friend,

K. C.


NOTE II.

DEAR COUSIN MIVERS,--I am going abroad. I may want money; for, in order
to rouse motive power within me, I mean to want money if I can. When I
was a boy of sixteen you offered me money to write attacks upon veteran
authors for “The Londoner.” Will you give me money now for a similar
display of that grand New Idea of our generation; namely, that the less
a man knows of a subject the better he understands it? I am about to
travel into countries which I have never seen, and among races I have
never known. My arbitrary judgments on both will be invaluable to “The
Londoner” from a Special Correspondent who shares your respect for the
anonymous, and whose name is never to be divulged. Direct your answer by
return to me, _poste restante_, Calais.

Yours truly,

K. C.


NOTE III.

MY DEAR FATHER,--I found your letter here, whence I depart to-morrow.
Excuse haste. I go abroad, and shall write to you from Calais.

I admire Leopold Travers very much. After all, how much of self-balance
there is in a true English gentleman! Toss him up and down where you
will, and he always alights on his feet,--a gentleman. He has one child,
a daughter named Cecilia,--handsome enough to allure into wedlock any
mortal whom Decimus Roach had not convinced that in celibacy lay the
right “Approach to the Angels.” Moreover, she is a girl whom one can
talk with. Even you could talk with her. Travers wishes her to marry
a very respectable, good-looking, promising gentleman, in every way
“suitable,” as they say. And if she does, she will rival that pink and
perfection of polished womanhood, Lady Glenalvon. I send you back my
portmanteau. I have pretty well exhausted my experience-money, but have
not yet encroached on my monthly allowance. I mean still to live upon
that, eking it out, if necessary, by the sweat of my brow or brains. But
if any case requiring extra funds should occur,--a case in which that
extra would do such real good to another that I feel _you_ would do
it,--why, I must draw a check on your bankers. But understand that is
your expense, not mine, and it is _you_ who are to be repaid in Heaven.
Dear father, how I do love and honour you every day more and more!
Promise you not to propose to any young lady till I come first to you
for consent!--oh, my dear father, how could you doubt it? how doubt
that I could not be happy with any wife whom you could not love as a
daughter? Accept that promise as sacred. But I wish you had asked me
something in which obedience was not much too facile to be a test of
duty. I could not have obeyed you more cheerfully if you had asked me to
promise never to propose to any young lady at all. Had you asked me to
promise that I would renounce the dignity of reason for the frenzy of
love, or the freedom of man for the servitude of husband, then I might
have sought to achieve the impossible; but I should have died in the
effort!--and thou wouldst have known that remorse which haunts the bed
of the tyrant.

Your affectionate son,

K. C.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE next morning Kenelm surprised the party at breakfast by appearing
in the coarse habiliments in which he had first made his host’s
acquaintance. He did not glance towards Cecilia when he announced his
departure; but, his eye resting on Mrs. Campion, he smiled, perhaps a
little sadly, at seeing her countenance brighten up and hearing her give
a short sigh of relief. Travers tried hard to induce him to stay a few
days longer, but Kenelm was firm. “The summer is wearing away,” said he,
“and I have far to go before the flowers fade and the snows fall. On the
third night from this I shall sleep on foreign soil.”

“You are going abroad, then?” asked Mrs. Campion.

“Yes.”

“A sudden resolution, Mr. Chillingly. The other day you talked of
visiting the Scotch lakes.”

“True; but, on reflection, they will be crowded with holiday tourists,
many of whom I shall probably know. Abroad I shall be free, for I shall
be unknown.”

“I suppose you will be back for the hunting season,” said Travers.

“I think not. I do not hunt foxes.”

“Probably we shall at all events meet in London,” said Travers. “I
think, after long rustication, that a season or two in the bustling
capital may be a salutary change for mind as well as for body; and it
is time that Cecilia were presented and her court-dress specially
commemorated in the columns of the ‘Morning Post.’”

Cecilia was seemingly too busied behind the tea-urn to heed this
reference to her debut.

“I shall miss you terribly,” cried Travers, a few moments afterwards,
and with a hearty emphasis. “I declare that you have quite unsettled me.
Your quaint sayings will be ringing in my ears long after you are gone.”

There was a rustle as of a woman’s dress in sudden change of movement
behind the tea-urn.

“Cissy,” said Mrs. Campion, “are we ever to have our tea?”

“I beg pardon,” answered a voice behind the urn. “I hear Pompey” (the
Skye terrier) “whining on the lawn. They have shut him out. I will be
back presently.”

Cecilia rose and was gone. Mrs. Campion took her place at the tea-urn.

“It is quite absurd of Cissy to be so fond of that hideous dog,” said
Travers, petulantly.

“Its hideousness is its beauty,” returned Mrs. Campion, laughing. “Mr.
Belvoir selected it for her as having the longest back and the shortest
legs of any dog he could find in Scotland.”

“Ah, George gave it to her; I forgot that,” said Travers, laughing
pleasantly.

It was some minutes before Miss Travers returned with the Skye
terrier, and she seemed to have recovered her spirits in regaining that
ornamental accession to the party; talking very quickly and gayly, and
with flushed cheeks, like a young person excited by her own overflow of
mirth.

But when, half an hour afterwards, Kenelm took leave of her and Mrs.
Campion at the hall-door, the flush was gone, her lips were tightly
compressed, and her parting words were not audible. Then, as his figure
(side by side with her father, who accompanied his guest to the lodge)
swiftly passed across the lawn and vanished amid the trees beyond, Mrs.
Campion wound a mother-like arm around her waist and kissed her.
Cecilia shivered and turned her face to her friend smiling; but such a
smile,--one of those smiles that seem brimful of tears.

“Thank you, dear,” she said meekly; and, gliding away towards the
flower-garden, lingered a while by the gate which Kenelm had opened
the night before. Then she went with languid steps up the green slopes
towards the ruined priory.



BOOK IV.



CHAPTER I.

IT is somewhat more than a year and a half since Kenelm Chillingly left
England, and the scene now is in London, during that earlier and more
sociable season which precedes the Easter holidays,--season in which
the charm of intellectual companionship is not yet withered away in the
heated atmosphere of crowded rooms,--season in which parties are small,
and conversation extends beyond the interchange of commonplace with
one’s next neighbour at a dinner-table,--season in which you have a
fair chance of finding your warmest friends not absorbed by the superior
claims of their chilliest acquaintances.

There was what is called a _conversazione_ at the house of one of those
Whig noblemen who yet retain the graceful art of bringing agreeable
people together, and collecting round them the true aristocracy, which
combines letters and art and science with hereditary rank and political
distinction,--that art which was the happy secret of the Lansdownes and
Hollands of the last generation. Lord Beaumanoir was himself a genial,
well-read man, a good judge of art, and a pleasant talker. He had a
charming wife, devoted to him and to her children, but with enough love
of general approbation to make herself as popular in the fashionable
world as if she sought in its gayeties a refuge from the dulness of
domestic life.

Amongst the guests at the Beaumanoirs, this evening were two men, seated
apart in a small room, and conversing familiarly. The one might be about
fifty-four; he was tall, strongly built, but not corpulent, somewhat
bald, with black eyebrows, dark eyes, bright and keen, mobile lips round
which there played a shrewd and sometimes sarcastic smile.

This gentleman, the Right Hon. Gerard Danvers, was a very influential
member of Parliament. He had, when young for English public life,
attained to high office; but--partly from a great distaste to the
drudgery of administration; partly from a pride of temperament, which
unfitted him for the subordination that a Cabinet owes to its chief;
partly, also, from a not uncommon kind of epicurean philosophy, at once
joyous and cynical, which sought the pleasures of life and held very
cheap its honours--he had obstinately declined to re-enter office, and
only spoke on rare occasions. On such occasions he carried great weight,
and, by the brief expression of his opinions, commanded more votes than
many an orator infinitely more eloquent. Despite his want of ambition,
he was fond of power in his own way,--power over the people who _had_
power; and, in the love of political intrigue, he found an amusement for
an intellect very subtle and very active. At this moment he was bent on
a new combination among the leaders of different sections in the same
party, by which certain veterans were to retire, and certain younger men
to be admitted into the Administration. It was an amiable feature in his
character that he had a sympathy with the young, and had helped to
bring into Parliament, as well as into office, some of the ablest of
a generation later than his own. He gave them sensible counsel,
was pleased when they succeeded, and encouraged them when they
failed,--always provided that they had stuff enough in them to redeem
the failure; if not, he gently dropped them from his intimacy, but
maintained sufficiently familiar terms with them to be pretty sure that
he could influence their votes whenever he so desired.

The gentleman with whom he was now conversing was young, about
five-and-twenty; not yet in Parliament, but with an intense desire to
obtain a seat in it, and with one of those reputations which a youth
carries away from school and college, justified, not by honours purely
academical, but by an impression of ability and power created on the
minds of his contemporaries and endorsed by his elders. He had done
little at the University beyond taking a fair degree, except acquiring
at the debating society the fame of an exceedingly ready and adroit
speaker. On quitting college he had written one or two political
articles in a quarterly review, which created a sensation; and though
belonging to no profession, and having but a small yet independent
income, society was very civil to him, as to a man who would some day or
other attain a position in which he could damage his enemies and serve
his friends. Something in this young man’s countenance and bearing
tended to favour the credit given to his ability and his promise. In his
countenance there was no beauty; in his bearing no elegance. But in that
countenance there was vigour, there was energy, there was audacity. A
forehead wide but low, protuberant in those organs over the brow which
indicate the qualities fitted for perception and judgment,--qualities
for every-day life; eyes of the clear English blue, small, somewhat
sunken, vigilant, sagacious, penetrating; a long straight upper
lip, significant of resolute purpose; a mouth in which a student
of physiognomy would have detected a dangerous charm. The smile
was captivating, but it was artificial, surrounded by dimples, and
displaying teeth white, small, strong, but divided from each other. The
expression of that smile would have been frank and candid to all who
failed to notice that it was not in harmony with the brooding forehead
and the steely eye; that it seemed to stand distinct from the rest
of the face, like a feature that had learned its part. There was that
physical power in the back of the head which belongs to men who make
their way in life,--combative and destructive. All gladiators have it;
so have great debaters and great reformers,--that is, reformers who can
destroy, but not necessarily reconstruct. So, too, in the bearing of the
man there was a hardy self-confidence, much too simple and unaffected
for his worst enemy to call it self-conceit. It was the bearing of one
who knew how to maintain personal dignity without seeming to care about
it. Never servile to the great, never arrogant to the little; so little
over-refined that it was never vulgar,--a popular bearing.

The room in which these gentlemen were seated was separated from the
general suite of apartments by a lobby off the landing-place, and served
for Lady Beaumanoir’s boudoir. Very pretty it was, but simply furnished,
with chintz draperies. The walls were adorned with drawings in
water-colours, and precious specimens of china on fanciful Parian
brackets. At one corner, by a window that looked southward and opened
on a spacious balcony, glazed in and filled with flowers, stood one of
those high trellised screens, first invented, I believe, in Vienna, and
along which ivy is so trained as to form an arbour.

The recess thus constructed, and which was completely out of sight from
the rest of the room, was the hostess’s favourite writing-nook. The two
men I have described were seated near the screen, and had certainly no
suspicion that any one could be behind it.

“Yes,” said Mr. Danvers, from an ottoman niched in another recess of the
room, “I think there will be an opening at Saxboro’ soon: Milroy wants a
Colonial Government; and if we can reconstruct the Cabinet as I propose,
he would get one. Saxboro’ would thus be vacant. But, my dear fellow,
Saxboro’ is a place to be wooed through love, and only won through
money. It demands liberalism from a candidate,--two kinds of liberalism
seldom united; the liberalism in opinion which is natural enough to a
very poor man, and the liberalism in expenditure which is scarcely to
be obtained except from a very rich one. You may compute the cost of
Saxboro’ at L3000 to get in, and about L2000 more to defend your seat
against a petition,--the defeated candidate nearly always petitions.
L5000 is a large sum; and the worst of it is, that the extreme opinions
to which the member for Saxboro’ must pledge himself are a drawback to
an official career. Violent politicians are not the best raw material
out of which to manufacture fortunate placemen.”

“The opinions do not so much matter; the expense does. I cannot afford
L5000, or even L3000.”

“Would not Sir Peter assist? He has, you say, only one son; and if
anything happen to that son, you are the next heir.”

“My father quarrelled with Sir Peter, and harassed him by an imprudent
and ungracious litigation. I scarcely think I could apply to him for
money to obtain a seat in Parliament upon the democratic side of the
question; for, though I know little of his politics, I take it for
granted that a country gentleman of old family and L10,000 a year cannot
well be a democrat.”

“Then I presume you would not be a democrat if, by the death of your
cousin, you became heir to the Chillinglys.”

“I am not sure what I might be in that case. There are times when a
democrat of ancient lineage and good estates could take a very high
place amongst the aristocracy.”

“Humph! my dear Gordon, _vous irez loin_.”

“I hope to do so. Measuring myself against the men of my own day, I do
not see many who should outstrip me.”

“What sort of a fellow is your cousin Kenelm? I met him once or twice
when he was very young, and reading with Welby in London. People then
said that he was very clever; he struck me as very odd.”

“I never saw him, but from all I hear, whether he be clever or whether
he be odd, he is not likely to do anything in life,--a dreamer.”

“Writes poetry perhaps?”

“Capable of it, I dare say.”

Just then some other guests came into the room, amongst them a lady
of an appearance at once singularly distinguished and singularly
prepossessing, rather above the common height, and with a certain
indescribable nobility of air and presence. Lady Glenalvon was one of
the queens of the London world, and no queen of that world was ever
less worldly or more queen-like. Side by side with the lady was Mr.
Chillingly Mivers. Gordon and Mivers interchanged friendly nods, and the
former sauntered away and was soon lost amid a crowd of other young
men, with whom, as he could converse well and lightly on things which
interested them, he was rather a favourite, though he was not an
intimate associate. Mr. Danvers retired into a corner of the adjoining
lobby, where he favoured the French ambassador with his views on the
state of Europe and the reconstruction of Cabinets in general.

“But,” said Lady Glenalvon to Chillingly Mivers, “are you quite sure
that my old young friend Kenelm is here? Since you told me so, I have
looked everywhere for him in vain. I should so much like to see him
again.”

“I certainly caught a glimpse of him half an hour ago; but before I
could escape from a geologist who was boring me about the Silurian
system, Kenelm had vanished.”

“Perhaps it was his ghost!”

“Well, we certainly live in the most credulous and superstitious age
upon record; and so many people tell me that they converse with the
dead under the table that it seems impertinent in me to say that I don’t
believe in ghosts.”

“Tell me some of those incomprehensible stories about table-rapping,”
 said Lady Glenalvon. “There is a charming, snug recess here behind the
screen.”

Scarcely had she entered the recess when she drew back with a start and
an exclamation of amaze. Seated at the table within the recess, his chin
resting on his hand, and his face cast down in abstracted revery, was a
young man. So still was his attitude, so calmly mournful the expression
of his face, so estranged did he seem from all the motley but brilliant
assemblage which circled around the solitude he had made for himself,
that he might well have been deemed one of those visitants from another
world whose secrets the intruder had wished to learn. Of that intruder’s
presence he was evidently unconscious. Recovering her surprise, she
stole up to him, placed her hand on his shoulder, and uttered his name
in a low gentle voice. At that sound Kenelm Chillingly looked up.

“Do you not remember me?” asked Lady Glenalvon. Before he could answer,
Mivers, who had followed the marchioness into the recess, interposed.

“My dear Kenelm, how are you? When did you come to London? Why have you
not called on me; and what on earth are you hiding yourself for?”

Kenelm had now recovered the self-possession which he rarely lost long
in the presence of others. He returned cordially his kinsman’s greeting,
and kissed with his wonted chivalrous grace the fair hand which the lady
withdrew from his shoulder and extended to his pressure. “Remember you!”
 he said to Lady Glenalvon with the kindliest expression of his soft dark
eyes; “I am not so far advanced towards the noon of life as to forget
the sunshine that brightened its morning. My dear Mivers, your questions
are easily answered. I arrived in England two weeks ago, stayed at
Exmundham till this morning, to-day dined with Lord Thetford, whose
acquaintance I made abroad, and was persuaded by him to come here and
be introduced to his father and mother, the Beaumanoirs. After I had
undergone that ceremony, the sight of so many strange faces frightened
me into shyness. Entering this room at a moment when it was quite
deserted, I resolved to turn hermit behind the screen.”

“Why, you must have seen your cousin Gordon as you came into the room.”

“But you forget I don’t know him by sight. However, there was no one in
the room when I entered; a little later some others came in, for I heard
a faint buzz, like that of persons talking in a whisper. However, I was
no eavesdropper, as a person behind a screen is on the dramatic stage.”

This was true. Even had Gordon and Danvers talked in a louder tone,
Kenelm had been too absorbed in his own thoughts to have heard a word of
their conversation.

“You ought to know young Gordon; he is a very clever fellow, and has an
ambition to enter Parliament. I hope no old family quarrel between his
bear of a father and dear Sir Peter will make you object to meet him.”

“Sir Peter is the most forgiving of men, but he would scarcely forgive
me if I declined to meet a cousin who had never offended him.”

“Well said. Come and meet Gordon at breakfast to-morrow,--ten o’clock. I
am still in the old rooms.”

While the kinsmen thus conversed, Lady Glenalvon had seated herself on
the couch beside Kenelm, and was quietly observing his countenance.
Now she spoke. “My dear Mr. Mivers, you will have many opportunities of
talking with Kenelm; do not grudge me five minutes’ talk with him now.”

“I leave your ladyship alone in your hermitage. How all the men in this
assembly will envy the hermit!”



CHAPTER II.

“I AM glad to see you once more in the world,” said Lady Glenalvon; “and
I trust that you are now prepared to take that part in it which ought to
be no mean one if you do justice to your talents and your nature.”

KENELM.--“When you go to the theatre, and see one of the pieces which
appear now to be the fashion, which would you rather be,--an actor or a
looker-on?”

LADY GLENALVON.--“My dear young friend, your question saddens me.”
 (After a pause.)--“But though I used a stage metaphor when I expressed
my hope that you would take no mean part in the world, the world is not
really a theatre. Life admits of no lookers-on. Speak to me frankly, as
you used to do. Your face retains its old melancholy expression. Are you
not happy?”

KENELM.--“Happy, as mortals go, I ought to be. I do not think I am
unhappy. If my temper be melancholic, melancholy has a happiness of its
own. Milton shows that there are as many charms in life to be found on
the _Penseroso_ side of it as there are on the _Allegro_.”

LADY GLENALVON.--“Kenelm, you saved the life of my poor son, and when,
later, he was taken from me, I felt as if he had commended you to my
care. When at the age of sixteen, with a boy’s years and a man’s heart,
you came to London, did I not try to be to you almost as a mother? and
did you not often tell me that you could confide to me the secrets of
your heart more readily than to any other?”

“You were to me,” said Kenelm, with emotion, “that most precious and
sustaining good genius which a youth can find at the threshold of
life,--a woman gently wise, kindly sympathizing, shaming him by the
spectacle of her own purity from all grosser errors, elevating him from
mean tastes and objects by the exquisite, ineffable loftiness of soul
which is only found in the noblest order of womanhood. Come, I will open
my heart to you still. I fear it is more wayward than ever. It still
feels estranged from the companionship and pursuits natural to my age
and station. However, I have been seeking to brace and harden my nature,
for the practical ends of life, by travel and adventure, chiefly among
rougher varieties of mankind than we meet in drawing-rooms. Now, in
compliance with the duty I owe to my dear father’s wishes, I come back
to these circles, which under your auspices I entered in boyhood, and
which even then seemed to me so inane and artificial. Take a part in the
world of these circles; such is your wish. My answer is brief. I have
been doing my best to acquire a motive power, and have not succeeded. I
see nothing that I care to strive for, nothing that I care to gain. The
very times in which we live are to me, as to Hamlet, out of joint; and
I am not born like Hamlet to set them right. Ah! if I could look on
society through the spectacles with which the poor hidalgo in ‘Gil Blas’
looked on his meagre board,--spectacles by which cherries appear the
size of peaches, and tomtits as large as turkeys! The imagination which
is necessary to ambition is a great magnifier.”

“I have known more than one man, now very eminent, very active, who
at your age felt the same estrangement from the practical pursuits of
others.”

“And what reconciled those men to such pursuits?”

“That diminished sense of individual personality, that unconscious
fusion of one’s own being into other existences, which belong to home
and marriage.”

“I don’t object to home, but I do to marriage.”

“Depend on it there is no home for man where there is no woman.”

“Prettily said. In that case I resign the home.”

“Do you mean seriously to tell me that you never see the woman you could
love enough to make her your wife, and never enter any home that you do
not quit with a touch of envy at the happiness of married life?”

“Seriously, I never see such a woman; seriously, I never enter such a
home.”

“Patience, then; your time will come, and I hope it is at hand. Listen
to me. It was only yesterday that I felt an indescribable longing to
see you again,--to know your address that I might write to you; for
yesterday, when a certain young lady left my house after a week’s visit,
I said this girl would make a perfect wife, and, above all, the exact
wife to suit Kenelm Chillingly.”

“Kenelm Chillingly is very glad to hear that this young lady has left
your house.”

“But she has not left London: she is here to-night. She only stayed
with me till her father came to town, and the house he had taken for the
season was vacant; those events happened yesterday.”

“Fortunate events for me: they permit me to call on you without danger.”

“Have you no curiosity to know, at least, who and what is the young lady
who appears to me so well suited to you?”

“No curiosity, but a vague sensation of alarm.”

“Well, I cannot talk pleasantly with you while you are in this
irritating mood, and it is time to quit the hermitage. Come, there are
many persons here, with some of whom you should renew old acquaintance,
and to some of whom I should like to make you known.”

“I am prepared to follow Lady Glenalvon wherever she deigns to lead
me,--except to the altar with another.”



CHAPTER III.

THE rooms were now full,--not overcrowded, but full,--and it was rarely
even in that house that so many distinguished persons were collected
together. A young man thus honoured by so _grande_ a dame as Lady
Glenalvon could not but be cordially welcomed by all to whom she
presented him, Ministers and Parliamentary leaders, ball-givers, and
beauties in vogue,--even authors and artists; and there was something in
Kenelm Chillingly, in his striking countenance and figure, in that calm
ease of manner natural to his indifference to effect, which seemed to
justify the favour shown to him by the brilliant princess of fashion and
mark him out for general observation.

That first evening of his reintroduction to the polite world was
a success which few young men of his years achieve. He produced a
sensation. Just as the rooms were thinning, Lady Glenalvon whispered to
Kenelm,--

“Come this way: there is one person I must reintroduce you to; thank me
for it hereafter.”

Kenelm followed the marchioness, and found himself face to face with
Cecilia Travers. She was leaning on her father’s arm, looking very
handsome, and her beauty was heightened by the blush which overspread
her cheeks as Kenelm Chillingly approached.

Travers greeted him with great cordiality; and Lady Glenalvon asking him
to escort her to the refreshment-room, Kenelm had no option but to offer
his arm to Cecilia.

Kenelm felt somewhat embarrassed. “Have you been long in town, Miss
Travers?”

“A little more than a week, but we only settled into our house
yesterday.”

“Ah, indeed! were you then the young lady who--” He stopped short, and
his face grew gentler and graver in its expression.

“The young lady who--what?” asked Cecilia with a smile.

“Who has been staying with Lady Glenalvon?”

“Yes; did she tell you?”

“She did not mention your name, but praised that young lady so justly
that I ought to have guessed it.”

Cecilia made some not very audible answer, and on entering the
refreshment-room other young men gathered round her, and Lady Glenalvon
and Kenelm remained silent in the midst of a general small-talk. When
Travers, after giving his address to Kenelm, and, of course, pressing
him to call, left the house with Cecilia, Kenelm said to Lady Glenalvon,
musingly, “So that is the young lady in whom I was to see my fate: you
knew that we had met before?”

“Yes, she told me when and where. Besides, it is not two years since you
wrote to me from her father’s house. Do you forget?”

“Ah,” said Kenelm, so abstractedly that he seemed to be dreaming, “no
man with his eyes open rushes on his fate: when he does so his sight is
gone. Love is blind. They say the blind are very happy, yet I never met
a blind man who would not recover his sight if he could.”



CHAPTER IV.

Mr. CHILLINGLY MIVERS never gave a dinner at his own rooms. When he
did give a dinner it was at Greenwich or Richmond. But he gave
breakfast-parties pretty often, and they were considered pleasant.
He had handsome bachelor apartments in Grosvenor Street, daintily
furnished, with a prevalent air of exquisite neatness, a good library
stored with books of reference, and adorned with presentation copies
from authors of the day, very beautifully bound. Though the room served
for the study of the professed man of letters, it had none of the untidy
litter which generally characterizes the study of one whose vocation it
is to deal with books and papers. Even the implements for writing
were not apparent, except when required. They lay concealed in a vast
cylinder bureau, French made, and French polished. Within that bureau
were numerous pigeon-holes and secret drawers, and a profound well with
a separate patent lock. In the well were deposited the articles intended
for publication in “The Londoner,” proof-sheets, etc.; pigeon-holes
were devoted to ordinary correspondence; secret drawers to confidential
notes, and outlines of biographies of eminent men now living, but
intended to be completed for publication the day after their death.

No man wrote such funeral compositions with a livelier pen than that
of Chillingly Mivers; and the large and miscellaneous circle of
his visiting acquaintances allowed him to ascertain, whether by
authoritative report or by personal observation, the signs of mortal
disease in the illustrious friends whose dinners he accepted, and whose
failing pulses he instinctively felt in returning the pressure of their
hands; so that he was often able to put the finishing-stroke to their
obituary memorials days, weeks, even months, before their fate took the
public by surprise. That cylinder bureau was in harmony with the secrecy
in which this remarkable man shrouded the productions of his brain. In
his literary life Mivers had no “I,” there he was ever the inscrutable,
mysterious “We.” He was only “I” when you met him in the world, and
called him Mivers.

Adjoining the library on one side was a small dining or rather breakfast
room, hung with valuable pictures,--presents from living painters.
Many of these painters had been severely handled by Mr. Mivers in his
existence as “We,”--not always in “The Londoner.” His most pungent
criticisms were often contributed to other intellectual journals
conducted by members of the same intellectual clique. Painters knew not
how contemptuously “We” had treated them when they met Mr. Mivers.
His “I” was so complimentary that they sent him a tribute of their
gratitude.

On the other side was his drawing-room, also enriched by many gifts,
chiefly from fair hands,--embroidered cushions and table-covers, bits
of Sevres or old Chelsea, elegant knick-knacks of all kinds. Fashionable
authoresses paid great court to Mr. Mivers; and in the course of his
life as a single man, he had other female adorers besides fashionable
authoresses.

Mr. Mivers had already returned from his early constitutional walk
in the Park, and was now seated by the cylinder _secretaire_ with a
mild-looking man, who was one of the most merciless contributors to “The
Londoner” and no unimportant councillor in the oligarchy of the clique
that went by the name of the “Intellectuals.”

“Well,” said Mivers, languidly, “I can’t even get through the book;
it is as dull as the country in November. But, as you justly say,
the writer is an ‘Intellectual,’ and a clique would be anything
but intellectual if it did not support its members. Review the book
yourself; mind and make the dulness of it the signal proof of its merit.
Say: ‘To the ordinary class of readers this exquisite work may appear
less brilliant than the flippant smartness of’--any other author you
like to name; ‘but to the well educated and intelligent every line is
pregnant with,’ etc. By the way, when we come by and by to review the
exhibition at Burlington House, there is one painter whom we must try
our best to crush. I have not seen his pictures myself, but he is a new
man; and our friend, who has seen him, is terribly jealous of him, and
says that if the good judges do not put him down at once, the villanous
taste of the public will set him up as a prodigy. A low-lived fellow
too, I hear. There is the name of the man and the subject of the
pictures. See to it when the time comes. Meanwhile, prepare the way for
onslaught on the pictures by occasional sneers at the painter.” Here
Mr. Mivers took out of his cylinder a confidential note from the jealous
rival and handed it to his mild-looking _confrere_; then rising, he
said, “I fear we must suspend our business till to-morrow; I expect two
young cousins to breakfast.”

As soon as the mild-looking man was gone, Mr. Mivers sauntered to his
drawing-room window, amiably offering a lump of sugar to a canary-bird
sent to him as a present the day before, and who, in the gilded cage
which made part of the present, scanned him suspiciously and refused the
sugar.

Time had remained very gentle in its dealings with Chillingly Mivers.
He scarcely looked a day older than when he was first presented to the
reader on the birth of his kinsman Kenelm. He was reaping the fruit of
his own sage maxims. Free from whiskers and safe in wig, there was no
sign of gray, no suspicion of dye. Superiority to passion, abnegation of
sorrow, indulgence of amusement, avoidance of excess, had kept away the
crow’s-feet, preserved the elasticity of his frame and the unflushed
clearness of his gentlemanlike complexion. The door opened, and a
well-dressed valet, who had lived long enough with Mivers to grow very
much like him, announced Mr. Chillingly Gordon.

“Good morning,” said Mivers; “I was much pleased to see you talking so
long and so familiarly with Danvers: others, of course, observed it, and
it added a step to your career. It does you great good to be seen in a
drawing-room talking apart with a Somebody. But may I ask if the talk
itself was satisfactory?”

“Not at all: Danvers throws cold water on the notion of Saxboro’, and
does not even hint that his party will help me to any other opening.
Party has few openings at its disposal nowadays for any young man. The
schoolmaster being abroad has swept away the school for statesmen as
he has swept away the school for actors,--an evil, and an evil of a far
greater consequence to the destinies of the nation than any good likely
to be got from the system that succeeded it.”

“But it is of no use railing against things that can’t be helped. If I
were you, I would postpone all ambition of Parliament and read for the
bar.”

“The advice is sound, but too unpalatable to be taken. I am resolved to
find a seat in the House, and where there is a will there is a way.”

“I am not so sure of that.”

“But I am.”

“Judging by what your contemporaries at the University tell me of your
speeches at the Debating Society, you were not then an ultra-Radical.
But it is only an ultra-Radical who has a chance of success at
Saxboro’.”

“I am no fanatic in politics. There is much to be said on all sides:
_coeteris paribus_, I prefer the winning side to the losing; nothing
succeeds like success.”

“Ay, but in politics there is always reaction. The winning side one day
may be the losing side another. The losing side represents a minority,
and a minority is sure to comprise more intellect than a majority: in
the long run intellect will force its way, get a majority and then lose
it, because with a majority it will become stupid.”

“Cousin Mivers, does not the history of the world show you that a single
individual can upset all theories as to the comparative wisdom of the
few or the many? Take the wisest few you can find, and one man of genius
not a tithe so wise crushes them into powder. But then that man of
genius, though he despises the many, must make use of them. That
done, he rules them. Don’t you see how in free countries political
destinations resolve themselves into individual impersonations? At
a general election it is one name around which electors rally. The
candidate may enlarge as much as he pleases on political principles, but
all his talk will not win him votes enough for success, unless he says,
‘I go with Mr. A.,’ the minister, or with Mr. Z., the chief of the
opposition. It was not the Tories who beat the Whigs when Mr. Pitt
dissolved Parliament. It was Mr. Pitt who beat Mr. Fox, with whom in
general political principle--slave-trade, Roman Catholic emancipation,
Parliamentary reform--he certainly agreed much more than he did with any
man in his own cabinet.”

“Take care, my young cousin,” cried Mivers, in accents of alarm; “don’t
set up for a man of genius. Genius is the worst quality a public man can
have nowadays: nobody heeds it, and everybody is jealous of it.”

“Pardon me, you mistake; my remark was purely objective, and intended
as a reply to your argument. I prefer at present to go with the many
because it is the winning side. If we then want a man of genius to keep
it the winning side, by subjugating its partisans to his will, he will
be sure to come. The few will drive him to us, for the few are always
the enemies of the one man of genius. It is they who distrust,--it is
they who are jealous,--not the many. You have allowed your judgment,
usually so clear, to be somewhat dimmed by your experience as a critic.
The critics are the few. They have infinitely more culture than the
many. But when a man of real genius appears and asserts himself, the
critics are seldom such fair judges of him as the many are. If he be not
one of their oligarchical clique, they either abuse, or disparage, or
affect to ignore him; though a time at last comes when, having gained
the many, the critics acknowledge him. But the difference between the
man of action and the author is this, that the author rarely finds this
acknowledgment till he is dead, and it is necessary to the man of action
to enforce it while he is alive. But enough of this speculation: you ask
me to meet Kenelm; is he not coming?”

“Yes, but I did not ask him till ten o’clock. I asked you at half-past
nine, because I wished to hear about Danvers and Saxboro’, and also to
prepare you somewhat for your introduction to your cousin. I must be
brief as to the last, for it is only five minutes to the hour, and he
is a man likely to be punctual. Kenelm is in all ways your opposite. I
don’t know whether he is cleverer or less clever; there is no scale of
measurement between you: but he is wholly void of ambition, and might
possibly assist yours. He can do what he likes with Sir Peter;
and considering how your poor father--a worthy man, but
cantankerous--harassed and persecuted Sir Peter, because Kenelm came
between the estate and you, it is probable that Sir Peter bears you a
grudge, though Kenelm declares him incapable of it; and it would be
well if you could annul that grudge in the father by conciliating the
goodwill of the son.”

“I should be glad so to annul it; but what is Kenelm’s weak side?--the
turf? the hunting-field? women? poetry? One can only conciliate a man by
getting on his weak side.”

“Hist! I see him from the windows. Kenelm’s weak side was, when I knew
him some years ago, and I rather fancy it still is--”

“Well, make haste! I hear his ring at your door-bell.”

“A passionate longing to find ideal truth in real life.”

“Ah!” said Gordon, “as I thought,--a mere dreamer”



CHAPTER V.

KENELM entered the room. The young cousins were introduced, shook hands,
receded a step, and gazed at each other. It is scarcely possible
to conceive a greater contrast outwardly than that between the two
Chillingly representatives of the rising generation. Each was silently
impressed by the sense of that contrast. Each felt that the contrast
implied antagonism, and that if they two met in the same arena it must
be as rival combatants; still, by some mysterious intuition, each felt a
certain respect for the other, each divined in the other a power that
he could not fairly estimate, but against which his own power would
be strongly tasked to contend. So might exchange looks a thorough-bred
deer-hound and a half-bred mastiff: the bystander could scarcely doubt
which was the nobler animal; but he might hesitate which to bet on, if
the two came to deadly quarrel. Meanwhile the thorough-bred deer-hound
and the half-bred mastiff sniffed at each other in polite salutation.
Gordon was the first to give tongue.

“I have long wished to know you personally,” said he, throwing into his
voice and manner that delicate kind of deference which a well-born cadet
owes to the destined head of his house. “I cannot conceive how I missed
you last night at Lady Beaumanoir’s, where Mivers tells me he met you;
but I left early.”

Here Mivers led the way to the breakfast-room, and, there seated, the
host became the principal talker, running with lively glibness over the
principal topics of the day,--the last scandal, the last new book, the
reform of the army, the reform of the turf, the critical state of Spain,
and the debut of an Italian singer. He seemed an embodied Journal,
including the Leading Article, the Law Reports, Foreign Intelligence,
the Court Circular, down to the Births, Deaths, and Marriages. Gordon
from time to time interrupted this flow of soul with brief, trenchant
remarks, which evinced his own knowledge of the subjects treated, and
a habit of looking on all subjects connected with the pursuits and
business of mankind from a high ground appropriated to himself, and
through the medium of that blue glass which conveys a wintry aspect to
summer landscapes. Kenelm said little, but listened attentively.

The conversation arrested its discursive nature, to settle upon a
political chief, the highest in fame and station of that party to which
Mivers professed--not to belong, he belonged to himself alone, but to
appropinquate. Mivers spoke of this chief with the greatest distrust,
and in a spirit of general depreciation. Gordon acquiesced in the
distrust and the depreciation, adding, “But he is master of the
position, and must, of course, be supported through thick and thin for
the present.”

“Yes, for the present,” said Mivers, “one has no option. But you will
see some clever articles in ‘The Londoner’ towards the close of the
session, which will damage him greatly, by praising him in the wrong
place, and deepening the alarm of important followers,--an alarm now at
work, though suppressed.”

Here Kenelm asked, in humble tones, why Gordon thought that a minister
he considered so untrustworthy and dangerous must for the present be
supported through thick and thin.

“Because at present a member elected so to support him would lose his
seat if he did not: needs must when the devil drives.”

KENELM.--“When the devil drives, I should have thought it better to
resign one’s seat on the coach; perhaps one might be of some use, out of
it, in helping to put on the drag.”

MIVERS.--“Cleverly said, Kenelm. But, metaphor apart, Gordon is right.
A young politician must go with his party; a veteran journalist like
myself is more independent. So long as the journalist blames everybody,
he will have plenty of readers.”

Kenelm made no reply, and Gordon changed the conversation from men
to measures. He spoke of some Bills before Parliament with remarkable
ability, evincing much knowledge of the subject, much critical
acuteness, illustrating their defects, and proving the danger of their
ultimate consequences.

Kenelm was greatly struck with the vigour of this cold, clear mind, and
owned to himself that the House of Commons was a fitting place for its
development.

“But,” said Mivers, “would you not be obliged to defend these Bills if
you were member for Saxboro’?”

“Before I answer your question, answer me this: dangerous as the Bills
are, is it not necessary that they shall pass? Have not the public so
resolved?”

“There can be no doubt of that.”

“Then the member for Saxboro’ cannot be strong enough to go against the
public.”

“Progress of the age!” said Kenelm, musingly. “Do you think the class of
gentlemen will long last in England?”

“What do you call gentlemen? The aristocracy by birth?--the
_gentilshommes_?”

“Nay, I suppose no laws can take away a man’s ancestors, and a class of
well-born men is not to be exterminated. But a mere class of well-born
men--without duties, responsibilities, or sentiment of that which
becomes good birth in devotion to country or individual honour--does no
good to a nation. It is a misfortune which statesmen of democratic creed
ought to recognize, that the class of the well-born cannot be destroyed:
it must remain as it remained in Rome and remains in France, after all
efforts to extirpate it, as the most dangerous class of citizens when
you deprive it of the attributes which made it the most serviceable.
I am not speaking of that class; I speak of that unclassified order
peculiar to England, which, no doubt, forming itself originally from
the ideal standard of honour and truth supposed to be maintained by the
_gentilshommes_, or well-born, no longer requires pedigrees and acres to
confer upon its members the designation of gentleman; and when I hear
a ‘gentleman’ say that he has no option but to think one thing and say
another, at whatever risk to his country, I feel as if in the progress
of the age the class of gentleman was about to be superseded by some
finer development of species.”

Therewith Kenelm rose, and would have taken his departure, if Gordon had
not seized his hand and detained him.

“My dear cousin, if I may so call you,” he said, with the frank manner
which was usual to him, and which suited well the bold expression of his
face and the clear ring of his voice, “I am one of those who, from an
over-dislike to sentimentality and cant, often make those not intimately
acquainted with them think worse of their principles than they deserve.
It may be quite true that a man who goes with his party dislikes the
measures he feels bound to support, and says so openly when among
friends and relations, yet that man is not therefore devoid of loyalty
and honour; and I trust, when you know me better, you will not think it
likely I should derogate from that class of gentlemen to which we both
belong.”

“Pardon me if I seemed rude,” answered Kenelm; “ascribe it to my
ignorance of the necessities of public life. It struck me that where a
politician thought a thing evil, he ought not to support it as good. But
I dare say I am mistaken.”

“Entirely mistaken,” said Mivers, “and for this reason: in politics
formerly there was a direct choice between good and evil. That rarely
exists now. Men of high education, having to choose whether to accept or
reject a measure forced upon their option by constituent bodies of very
low education, are called upon to weigh evil against evil,--the evil of
accepting or the evil of rejecting; and if they resolve on the first, it
is as the lesser evil of the two.”

“Your definition is perfect,” said Gordon, “and I am contented to rest
on it my excuse for what my cousin deems insincerity.”

“I suppose that is real life,” said Kenelm, with his mournful smile.

“Of course it is,” said Mivers.

“Every day I live,” sighed Kenelm, “still more confirms my conviction
that real life is a phantasmal sham. How absurd it is in philosophers to
deny the existence of apparitions! what apparitions we, living men, must
seem to the ghosts!


      “‘The spirits of the wise
   Sit in the clouds and mock us.’”



CHAPTER VI.

CHILLINGLY GORDON did not fail to confirm his acquaintance with Kenelm.
He very often looked in upon him of a morning, sometimes joined him
in his afternoon rides, introduced him to men of his own set who were
mostly busy members of Parliament, rising barristers, or political
journalists, but not without a proportion of brilliant idlers,--club
men, sporting men, men of fashion, rank, and fortune. He did so with a
purpose, for these persons spoke well of him,--spoke well not only
of his talents, but of his honourable character. His general nickname
amongst them was “HONEST GORDON.” Kenelm at first thought this sobriquet
must be ironical; not a bit of it. It was given to him on account of
the candour and boldness with which he expressed opinions embodying that
sort of cynicism which is vulgarly called “the absence of humbug.” The
man was certainly no hypocrite; he affected no beliefs which he did not
entertain. And he had very few beliefs in anything, except the first
half of the adage, “Every man for himself,--and God for us all.”

But whatever Chillingly Gordon’s theoretical disbeliefs in things which
make the current creed of the virtuous, there was nothing in his conduct
which evinced predilection for vices: he was strictly upright in all
his dealings, and in delicate matters of honour was a favourite umpire
amongst his coevals. Though so frankly ambitious, no one could accuse
him of attempting to climb on the shoulders of patrons. There was
nothing servile in his nature; and, though he was perfectly prepared to
bribe electors if necessary, no money could have bought himself. His one
master-passion was the desire of power. He sneered at patriotism as a
worn-out prejudice, at philanthropy as a sentimental catch-word. He did
not want to serve his country, but to rule it. He did not want to
raise mankind, but to rise himself. He was therefore unscrupulous,
unprincipled, as hungerers after power for itself too often are; yet
still if he got power he would probably use it well, from the clearness
and strength of his mental perceptions. The impression he made on Kenelm
may be seen in the following letter:--


TO SIR PETER CHILLINGLY, BART., ETC.

MY DEAR FATHER,--You and my dear mother will be pleased to hear that
London continues very polite to me: that “arida nutrix leonum” enrolls
me among the pet class of lions which ladies of fashion admit into the
society of their lapdogs. It is somewhere about six years since I was
allowed to gaze on this peep-show through the loopholes of Mr. Welby’s
retreat. It appears to me, perhaps erroneously, that even within that
short space of time the tone of “society” is perceptibly changed. That
the change is for the better is an assertion I leave to those who belong
to the _progressista_ party.

I don’t think nearly so many young ladies six years ago painted their
eyelids and dyed their hair: a few of them there might be, imitators of
the slang invented by schoolboys and circulated through the medium of
small novelists; they might use such expressions as “stunning,” “cheek,”
 “awfully jolly,” etc. But now I find a great many who have advanced to
a slang beyond that of verbal expressions,--a slang of mind, a slang
of sentiment, a slang in which very little seems left of the woman and
nothing at all of the lady.

Newspaper essayists assert that the young men of the day are to blame
for this; that the young men like it; and the fair husband-anglers dress
their flies in the colours most likely to attract a nibble. Whether this
excuse be the true one I cannot pretend to judge; but it strikes me that
the men about my own age who affect to be fast are a more languid race
than the men from ten to twenty years older, whom they regard as _slow_.
The habit of dram-drinking in the morning is a very new idea, an idea
greatly in fashion at the moment. Adonis calls for a “pick-me-up” before
he has strength enough to answer a _billet-doux_ from Venus. Adonis
has not the strength to get nobly drunk, but his delicate constitution
requires stimulants, and he is always tippling.

The men of high birth or renown for social success belonging, my
dear father, to your time, are still distinguished by an air of good
breeding, by a style of conversation more or less polished and not
without evidences of literary culture, from men of the same rank in
my generation, who appear to pride themselves on respecting nobody and
knowing nothing, not even grammar. Still we are assured that the world
goes on steadily improving. _That_ new idea is in full vigour.

Society in the concrete has become wonderfully conceited as to its
own progressive excellences, and the individuals who form the concrete
entertain the same complacent opinion of themselves. There are, of
course, even in my brief and imperfect experience, many exceptions to
what appear to me the prevalent characteristics of the rising generation
in “society.” Of these exceptions I must content myself with naming the
most remarkable. _Place aux dames_, the first I name is Cecilia Travers.
She and her father are now in town, and I meet them frequently. I
can conceive no civilized era in the world which a woman like Cecilia
Travers would not grace and adorn, because she is essentially the type
of woman as man likes to imagine woman; namely, on the fairest side of
the womanly character. And I say “woman” rather than “girl,” because
among “Girls of the Period” Cecilia Travers cannot be classed. You might
call her damsel, virgin, maiden, but you could no more call her girl
than you could call a well-born French demoiselle _fille_. She is
handsome enough to please the eye of any man, however fastidious, but
not that kind of beauty which dazzles all men too much to fascinate one
man; for--speaking, thank Heaven, from mere theory--I apprehend that the
love for woman has in it a strong sense of property; that one requires
to individualize one’s possession as being wholly one’s own, and not
a possession which all the public are invited to admire. I can readily
understand how a rich man, who has what is called a show place, in which
the splendid rooms and the stately gardens are open to all inspectors,
so that he has no privacy in his own demesnes, runs away to a pretty
cottage which he has all to himself, and of which he can say, “_This_ is
home; _this_ is all mine.”

But there are some kinds of beauty which are eminently show
places,--which the public think they have as much a right to admire as
the owner has; and the show place itself would be dull and perhaps fall
out of repair, if the public could be excluded from the sight of it.

The beauty of Cecilia Travers is not that of a show place. There is a
feeling of safety in her. If Desdemona had been like her, Othello would
not have been jealous. But then Cecilia would not have deceived her
father; nor I think have told a blackamoor that she wished “Heaven
had made her such a man.” Her mind harmonizes with her person: it is
a companionable mind. Her talents are not showy, but, take them
altogether, they form a pleasant whole: she has good sense enough in
the practical affairs of life, and enough of that ineffable womanly gift
called tact to counteract the effects of whimsical natures like mine,
and yet enough sense of the humouristic views of life not to take too
literally all that a whimsical man like myself may say. As to temper,
one never knows what a woman’s temper is--till one puts her out of it.
But I imagine hers, in its normal state, to be serene, and disposed to
be cheerful. Now, my dear father, if you were not one of the cleverest
of men you would infer from this eulogistic mention of Cecilia Travers
that I was in love with her. But you no doubt will detect the truth that
a man in love with a woman does not weigh her merits with so steady a
hand as that which guides this steel pen. I am not in love with Cecilia
Travers. I wish I were. When Lady Glenalvon, who remains wonderfully
kind to me, says, day after day, “Cecilia Travers would make you a
perfect wife,” I have no answer to give; but I don’t feel the least
inclined to ask Cecilia Travers if she would waste her perfection on one
who so coldly concedes it.

I find that she persisted in rejecting the man whom her father wished
her to marry, and that he has consoled himself by marrying somebody
else. No doubt other suitors as worthy will soon present themselves.

Oh, dearest of all my friends,--sole friend whom I regard as a
confidant,--shall I ever be in love? and if not, why not? Sometimes
I feel as if, with love as with ambition, it is because I have some
impossible ideal in each, that I must always remain indifferent to the
sort of love and the sort of ambition which are within my reach. I have
an idea that if I did love, I should love as intensely as Romeo, and
that thought inspires me with vague forebodings of terror; and if I
did find an object to arouse my ambition, I could be as earnest in its
pursuit as--whom shall I name?--Caesar or Cato? I like Cato’s
ambition the better of the two. But people nowadays call ambition an
impracticable crotchet, if it be invested on the losing side. Cato would
have saved Rome from the mob and the dictator; but Rome could not be
saved, and Cato falls on his own sword. Had we a Cato now, the verdict
at a coroner’s inquest would be, “suicide while in a state of unsound
mind;” and the verdict would have been proved by his senseless
resistance to a mob and a dictator! Talking of ambition, I come to the
other exception to the youth of the day; I have named a _demoiselle_, I
now name a _damoiseau_. Imagine a man of about five-and-twenty, and who
is morally about fifty years older than a healthy man of sixty,--imagine
him with the brain of age and the flower of youth; with a heart absorbed
into the brain, and giving warm blood to frigid ideas: a man who sneers
at everything I call lofty, yet would do nothing that he thinks mean; to
whom vice and virtue are as indifferent as they were to the Aesthetics
of Goethe; who would never jeopardize his career as a practical reasoner
by an imprudent virtue, and never sully his reputation by a degrading
vice. Imagine this man with an intellect keen, strong, ready,
unscrupulous, dauntless,--all cleverness and no genius. Imagine this
man, and then do not be astonished when I tell you he is a Chillingly.

The Chillingly race culminates in him, and becomes Chillinglyest. In
fact, it seems to me that we live in a day precisely suited to the
Chillingly idiosyncrasies. During the ten centuries or more that our
race has held local habitation and a name, it has been as airy nothings.
Its representatives lived in hot-blooded times, and were compelled to
skulk in still water with their emblematic daces. But the times now, my
dear father, are so cold-blooded that you can’t be too cold-blooded to
prosper. What could Chillingly Mivers have been in an age when people
cared twopence-halfpenny about their religious creeds, and their
political parties deemed their cause was sacred and their leaders were
heroes? Chillingly Mivers would not have found five subscribers to
“The Londoner.” But now “The Londoner” is the favourite organ of the
intellectual public; it sneers away all the foundations of the social
system, without an attempt at reconstruction; and every new journal set
up, if it keep its head above water, models itself on “The Londoner.”
 Chillingly Mivers is a great man, and the most potent writer of the age,
though nobody knows what he has written. Chillingly Gordon is a still
more notable instance of the rise of the Chillingly worth in the modern
market.

There is a general impression in the most authoritative circles that
Chillingly Gordon will have high rank in the van of the coming men. His
confidence in himself is so thorough that it infects all with whom he
comes into contact,--myself included.

He said to me the other day, with a _sang-froid_ worthy of the iciest
Chillingly, “I mean to be Prime Minister of England: it is only a
question of time.” Now, if Chillingly Gordon is to be Prime Minister, it
will be because the increasing cold of our moral and social atmosphere
will exactly suit the development of his talents.

He is the man above all others to argue down the declaimers of
old-fashioned sentimentalities,--love of country, care for its position
among nations, zeal for its honour, pride in its renown. (Oh, if
you could hear him philosophically and logically sneer away the word
“prestige”!) Such notions are fast being classified as “bosh.” And
when that classification is complete,--when England has no colonies to
defend, no navy to pay for, no interest in the affairs of other nations,
and has attained to the happy condition of Holland,--then Chillingly
Gordon will be her Prime Minister.

Yet while, if ever I am stung into political action, it will be by
abnegation of the Chillingly attributes, and in opposition, however
hopeless, to Chillingly Gordon, I feel that this man cannot be
suppressed, and ought to have fair play; his ambition will be infinitely
more dangerous if it become soured by delay. I propose, my dear father,
that you should have the honour of laying this clever kinsman under
an obligation, and enabling him to enter Parliament. In our last
conversation at Exmundham, you told me of the frank resentment of Gordon
_pere_, when my coming into the world shut him out from the Exmundham
inheritance; you confided to me your intention at that time to lay
by yearly a sum that might ultimately serve as a provision for Gordon
_fils_, and as some compensation for the loss of his expectations when
you realized your hope of an heir; you told me also how this generous
intention on your part had been frustrated by a natural indignation at
the elder Gordon’s conduct in his harassing and costly litigation, and
by the addition you had been tempted to make to the estate in a purchase
which added to its acreage, but at a rate of interest which diminished
your own income, and precluded the possibility of further savings. Now,
chancing to meet your lawyer, Mr. Vining, the other day, I learned from
him that it had been long a wish which your delicacy prevented your
naming to me, that I, to whom the fee-simple descends, should join with
you in cutting off the entail and resettling the estate. He showed me
what an advantage this would be to the property, because it would leave
your hands free for many improvements in which I heartily go with the
progress of the age, for which, as merely tenant for life, you could not
raise the money except upon ruinous terms; new cottages for labourers,
new buildings for tenants, the consolidation of some old mortgages and
charges on the rent-roll, etc. And allow me to add that I should like
to make a large increase to the jointure of my dear mother. Vining says,
too, that there is a part of the outlying land which, as being near a
town, could be sold to considerable profit if the estate were resettled.

Let us hasten to complete the necessary deeds, and so obtain the L20,000
required for the realization of your noble and, let me add, your just
desire to do something for Chillingly Gordon. In the new deeds of
settlement we could insure the power of willing the estate as we
pleased, and I am strongly against devising it to Chillingly Gordon.
It may be a crotchet of mine, but one which I think you share, that the
owner of English soil should have a son’s love for the native land, and
Gordon will never have that. I think, too, that it will be best for his
own career, and for the establishment of a frank understanding between
us and himself, that he should be fairly told that he would not be
benefited in the event of our death. Twenty thousand pounds given to him
now would be a greater boon to him than ten times the sum twenty years
later. With that at his command, he can enter Parliament, and have an
income, added to what he now possesses, if modest, still sufficient to
make him independent of a minister’s patronage.

Pray humour me, my dearest father, in the proposition I venture to
submit to you.

   Your affectionate son, KENELM.


FROM SIR PETER CHILLINGLY TO KENELM CHILLINGLY.

MY DEAR BOY,--You are not worthy to be a Chillingly; you are decidedly
warm-blooded: never was a load lifted off a man’s mind with a gentler
hand. Yes, I have wished to cut off the entail and resettle the
property; but, as it was eminently to my advantage to do so, I shrank
from asking it, though eventually it would be almost as much to your own
advantage. What with the purchase I made of the Faircleuch lands--which
I could only effect by money borrowed at high interest on my personal
security, and paid off by yearly instalments, eating largely into
income--and the old mortgages, etc., I own I have been pinched of late
years. But what rejoices me the most is the power to make homes for our
honest labourers more comfortable, and nearer to their work, which last
is the chief point, for the old cottages in themselves are not bad; the
misfortune is, when you build an extra room for the children, the silly
people let it out to a lodger.

My dear boy, I am very much touched by your wish to increase your
mother’s jointure,--a very proper wish, independently of filial feeling,
for she brought to the estate a very pretty fortune, which, the trustees
consented to my investing in land; and though the land completed our
ring-fence, it does not bring in two per cent, and the conditions of
the entail limited the right of jointure to an amount below that which a
widowed Lady Chillingly may fairly expect.

I care more about the provision on these points than I do for the
interests of old Chillingly Gordon’s son. I had meant to behave very
handsomely to the father; and when the return for behaving handsomely
is being put into Chancery--A Worm Will Turn. Nevertheless, I agree with
you that a son should not be punished for his father’s faults; and, if
the sacrifice of L20,000 makes you and myself feel that we are better
Christians and truer gentlemen, we shall buy that feeling very cheaply.


Sir Peter then proceeded, half jestingly, half seriously, to combat
Kenelm’s declaration that he was not in love with Cecilia Travers; and,
urging the advantages of marriage with one whom Kenelm allowed would be
a perfect wife, astutely remarked that unless Kenelm had a son of his
own it did not seem to him quite just to the next of kin to will the
property from him, upon no better plea than the want of love for his
native country. “He would love his country fast enough if he had 10,000
acres in it.”

Kenelm shook his head when he came to this sentence.

“Is even then love for one’s country but cupboard-love after all?” said
he; and he postponed finishing the perusal of his father’s letter.



CHAPTER VII.

KENELM CHILLINGLY did not exaggerate the social position he had acquired
when he classed himself amongst the lions of the fashionable world. I
dare not count the number of three-cornered notes showered upon him by
the fine ladies who grow romantic upon any kind of celebrity; or the
carefully sealed envelopes, containing letters from fair Anonymas, who
asked if he had a heart, and would be in such a place in the Park at
such an hour. What there was in Kenelm Chillingly that should make him
thus favoured, especially by the fair sex, it would be difficult to say,
unless it was the two-fold reputation of being unlike other people, and
of being unaffectedly indifferent to the gain of any reputation at all.
He might, had he so pleased, have easily established a proof that
the prevalent though vague belief in his talents was not altogether
unjustified. For the articles he had sent from abroad to “The Londoner”
 and by which his travelling expenses were defrayed, had been stamped
by that sort of originality in tone and treatment which rarely fails to
excite curiosity as to the author, and meets with more general praise
than perhaps it deserves.

But Mivers was true to his contract to preserve inviolable the incognito
of the author, and Kenelm regarded with profound contempt the articles
themselves and the readers who praised them.

Just as misanthropy with some persons grows out of benevolence
disappointed, so there are certain natures--and Kenelm Chillingly’s was
perhaps one of them--in which indifferentism grows out of earnestness
baffled.

He had promised himself pleasure in renewing acquaintance with his old
tutor, Mr. Welby,--pleasure in refreshing his own taste for metaphysics
and casuistry and criticism. But that accomplished professor of realism
had retired from philosophy altogether, and was now enjoying a holiday
for life in the business of a public office. A minister in favour of
whom, when in opposition, Mr. Welby, in a moment of whim, wrote some
very able articles in a leading journal, had, on acceding to power,
presented the realist with one of those few good things still left to
ministerial patronage,--a place worth about L1,200 a year. His mornings
thus engaged in routine work, Mr. Welby enjoyed his evenings in a
convivial way.

“_Inveni portum_,” he said to Kenelm; “I plunge into no troubled waters
now. But come and dine with me to-morrow, tete-a-tete. My wife is at
St. Leonard’s with my youngest born for the benefit of sea-air.” Kenelm
accepted the invitation.

The dinner would have contented a Brillat-Savarin: it was faultless; and
the claret was that rare nectar, the Lafitte of 1848.

“I never share this,” said Welby, “with more than one friend at a time.”

Kenelm sought to engage his host in discussion on certain new works in
vogue, and which were composed according to purely realistic canons of
criticism. “The more realistic; these books pretend to be, the less
real they are,” said Kenelm. “I am half inclined to think that the whole
school you so systematically sought to build up is a mistake, and that
realism in art is a thing impossible.”

“I dare say you are right. I took up that school in earnest because I
was in a passion with pretenders to the Idealistic school; and whatever
one takes up in earnest is generally a mistake, especially if one is in
a passion. I was not in earnest and I was not in a passion when I wrote
those articles to which I am indebted for my office.” Mr. Welby here
luxuriously stretched his limbs, and lifting his glass to his lips,
voluptuously inhaled its bouquet.

“You sadden me,” returned Kenelm. “It is a melancholy thing to find that
one’s mind was influenced in youth by a teacher who mocks at his own
teachings.”

Welby shrugged his shoulders. “Life consists in the alternate process of
learning and unlearning; but it is often wiser to unlearn than to learn.
For the rest, as I have ceased to be a critic, I care little whether I
was wrong or right when I played that part. I think I am right now as a
placeman. Let the world go its own way, provided the world lets you live
upon it. I drain my wine to the lees, and cut down hope to the brief
span of life. Reject realism in art if you please, and accept realism in
conduct. For the first time in my life I am comfortable: my mind, having
worn out its walking-shoes, is now enjoying the luxury of slippers. Who
can deny the realism of comfort?”

“Has a man a right,” Kenelm said to himself, as he entered his brougham,
“to employ all the brilliancy of a rare wit, all the acquisitions of as
rare a scholarship, to the scaring of the young generation out of the
safe old roads which youth left to itself would take,--old roads skirted
by romantic rivers and bowery trees,--directing them into new paths on
long sandy flats, and then, when they are faint and footsore, to tell
them that he cares not a pin whether they have worn out their shoes in
right paths or wrong paths, for that he has attained the _summum bonum_
of philosophy in the comfort of easy slippers?”

Before he could answer the question he thus put to himself, his brougham
stopped at the door of the minister whom Welby had contributed to bring
into power.

That night there was a crowded muster of the fashionable world at the
great man’s house. It happened to be a very critical moment for the
minister. The fate of his cabinet depended on the result of a motion
about to be made the following week in the House of Commons. The great
man stood at the entrance of the apartments to receive his guests, and
among the guests were the framers of the hostile motion and the leaders
of the opposition. His smile was not less gracious to them than to his
dearest friends and stanchest supporters.

“I suppose this is realism,” said Kenelm to himself; “but it is not
truth, and it is not comfort.” Leaning against the wall near the
doorway, he contemplated with grave interest the striking countenance
of his distinguished host. He detected beneath that courteous smile
and that urbane manner the signs of care. The eye was absent, the cheek
pinched, the brow furrowed. Kenelm turned away his looks, and glanced
over the animated countenances of the idle loungers along commoner
thoroughfares in life. Their eyes were not absent; their brows were
not furrowed; their minds seemed quite at home in exchanging nothings.
Interest many of them had in the approaching struggle, but it was
much such an interest as betters of small sums may have on the Derby
day,--just enough to give piquancy to the race; nothing to make gain a
great joy, or loss a keen anguish.

“Our host is looking ill,” said Mivers, accosting Kenelm. “I detect
symptoms of suppressed gout. You know my aphorism, ‘nothing so gouty as
ambition,’ especially Parliamentary ambition.”

“You are not one of those friends who press on my choice of life that
source of disease; allow me to thank you.”

“Your thanks are misplaced. I strongly advise you to devote yourself to
a political career.”

“Despite the gout?”

“Despite the gout. If you could take the world as I do, my advice might
be different. But your mind is overcrowded with doubts and fantasies and
crotchets, and you have no choice but to give them vent in active life.”

“You had something to do in making me what I am,--an idler; something
to answer for as to my doubts, fantasies, and crotchets. It was by your
recommendation that I was placed under the tuition of Mr. Welby, and at
that critical age in which the bent of the twig forms the shape of the
tree.”

“And I pride myself on that counsel. I repeat the reasons for which I
gave it: it is an incalculable advantage for a young man to start in
life thoroughly initiated into the New Ideas which will more or less
influence his generation. Welby was the ablest representative of these
ideas. It is a wondrous good fortune when the propagandist of the
New Ideas is something more than a bookish philosopher,--when he is
a thorough ‘man of the world,’ and is what we emphatically call
‘practical.’ Yes, you owe me much that I secured to you such tuition,
and saved you from twaddle and sentiment, the poetry of Wordsworth and
the muscular Christianity of Cousin John.”

“What you say that you saved me from might have done me more good than
all you conferred on me. I suspect that when education succeeds
in placing an old head upon young shoulders the combination is not
healthful: it clogs the blood and slackens the pulse. However, I must
not be ungrateful; you meant kindly. Yes, I suppose Welby is practical:
he has no belief, and he has got a place. But our host, I presume, is
also practical; his place is a much higher one than Welby’s, and yet he
is surely not without belief?”

“He was born before the new ideas came into practical force; but
in proportion as they have done so, his beliefs have necessarily
disappeared. I don’t suppose that he believes in much now, except the
two propositions: firstly, that if he accept the new ideas he will have
power and keep it, and if he does not accept them power is out of the
question; and, secondly, that if the new ideas are to prevail he is the
best man to direct them safely,--beliefs quite enough for a minister. No
wise minister should have more.”

“Does he not believe that the motion he is to resist next week is a bad
one?”

“A bad one of course, in its consequences, for if it succeed it will
upset him; a good one in itself I am sure he must think it, for he would
bring it on himself if he were in opposition.”

“I see that Pope’s definition is still true, ‘Party is the madness of
the many for the gain of the few.’”

“No, it is not true. Madness is a wrong word applied to the many: the
many are sane enough; they know their own objects, and they make use of
the intellect of the few in order to gain their objects. In each party
it is the many that control the few who nominally lead them. A man
becomes Prime Minister because he seems to the many of his party the
fittest person to carry out their views. If he presume to differ from
these views, they put him into a moral pillory, and pelt him with their
dirtiest stones and their rottenest eggs.”

“Then the maxim should be reversed, and party is rather the madness of
the few for the gain of the many?

“Of the two, that is the more correct definition.”

“Let me keep my senses and decline to be one of the few.”

Kenelm moved away from his cousin’s side, and entering one of the less
crowded rooms, saw Cecilia Travers seated there in a recess with Lady
Glenalvon. He joined them, and after a brief interchange of a few
commonplaces, Lady Glenalvon quitted her post to accost a foreign
ambassadress, and Kenelm sank into the chair she vacated.

It was a relief to his eye to contemplate Cecilia’s candid brow; to
his ear to hearken to the soft voice that had no artificial tones, and
uttered no cynical witticisms.

“Don’t you think it strange,” said Kenelm, “that we English should so
mould all our habits as to make even what we call pleasure as little
pleasurable as possible? We are now in the beginning of June, the fresh
outburst of summer, when every day in the country is a delight to eye
and ear, and we say, ‘The season for hot rooms is beginning.’ We alone
of civilized races spend our summer in a capital, and cling to the
country when the trees are leafless and the brooks frozen.”

“Certainly that is a mistake; but I love the country in all seasons,
even in winter.”

“Provided the country house is full of London people?”

“No; that is rather a drawback. I never want companions in the country.”

“True; I should have remembered that you differ from young ladies in
general, and make companions of books. They are always more conversable
in the country than they are in town; or rather, we listen there to them
with less distracted attention. Ha! do I not recognize yonder the fair
whiskers of George Belvoir? Who is the lady leaning on his arm?”

“Don’t you know?--Lady Emily Belvoir, his wife.”

“Ah! I was told that he had married. The lady is handsome. She will
become the family diamonds. Does she read Blue-books?”

“I will ask her if you wish.”

“Nay, it is scarcely worth while. During my rambles abroad I saw but
few English newspapers. I did, however, learn that George had won his
election. Has he yet spoken in Parliament?”

“Yes; he moved the answer to the Address this session, and was much
complimented on the excellent tone and taste of his speech. He spoke
again a few weeks afterwards, I fear not so successfully.”

“Coughed down?”

“Something like it.”

“Do him good; he will recover the cough, and fulfil my prophecy of his
success.”

“Have you done with poor George for the present? If so, allow me to ask
whether you have quite forgotten Will Somers and Jessie Wiles?”

“Forgotten them! no.”

“But you have never asked after them?”

“I took it for granted that they were as happy as could be expected.
Pray assure me that they are.”

“I trust so now; but they have had trouble, and have left Graveleigh.”

“Trouble! left Graveleigh! You make me uneasy. Pray explain.”

“They had not been three months married and installed in the home they
owed to you, when poor Will was seized with a rheumatic fever. He was
confined to his bed for many weeks; and, when at last he could move from
it, was so weak as to be still unable to do any work. During his illness
Jessie had no heart and little leisure to attend to the shop. Of course
I--that is, my dear father--gave them all necessary assistance; but--”

“I understand; they were reduced to objects of charity. Brute that I am,
never to have thought of the duties I owed to the couple I had brought
together. But pray go on.”

“You are aware that just before you left us my father received a
proposal to exchange his property at Graveleigh for some lands more
desirable to him?”

“I remember. He closed with that offer.”

“Yes; Captain Stavers, the new landlord of Graveleigh, seems to be
a very bad man; and though he could not turn the Somerses out of the
cottage so long as they paid rent, which we took care they did pay,--yet
out of a very wicked spite he set up a rival shop in one of his other
cottages in the village, and it became impossible for these poor young
people to get a livelihood at Graveleigh.”

“What excuse for spite against so harmless a young couple could Captain
Stavers find or invent?”

Cecilia looked down and coloured. “It was a revengeful feeling against
Jessie.”

“Ah, I comprehend.”

“But they have now left the village, and are happily settled elsewhere.
Will has recovered his health, and they are prospering much more than
they could ever have done at Graveleigh.”

“In that change you were their benefactress, Miss Travers?” said Kenelm,
in a more tender voice and with a softer eye than he had ever before
evinced towards the heiress.

“No, it is not I whom they have to thank and bless.”

“Who, then, is it? Your father?”

“No. Do not question me. I am bound not to say. They do not themselves
know; they rather believe that their gratitude is due to you.”

“To me! Am I to be forever a sham in spite of myself? My dear Miss
Travers, it is essential to my honour that I should undeceive this
credulous pair; where can I find them?”

“I must not say; but I will ask permission of their concealed
benefactor, and send you their address.”

A touch was laid on Kenelm’s arm, and a voice whispered, “May I ask you
to present me to Miss Travers?”

“Miss Travers,” said Kenelm, “I entreat you to add to the list of your
acquaintances a cousin of mine,--Mr. Chillingly Gordon.”

While Gordon addressed to Cecilia the well-bred conventionalisms with
which acquaintance in London drawing-rooms usually commences, Kenelm,
obedient to a sign from Lady Glenalvon, who had just re-entered the
room, quitted his seat, and joined the marchioness.

“Is not that young man whom you left talking with Miss Travers your
clever cousin Gordon?”

“The same.”

“She is listening to him with great attention. How his face brightens up
as he talks! He is positively handsome, thus animated.”

“Yes, I could fancy him a dangerous wooer. He has wit and liveliness and
audacity; he could be very much in love with a great fortune, and talk
to the owner of it with a fervour rarely exhibited by a Chillingly.
Well, it is no affair of mine.”

“It ought to be.”

Alas and alas! that “ought to be;” what depths of sorrowful meaning lie
within that simple phrase! How happy would be our lives, how grand our
actions, how pure our souls, if all could be with us as it ought to be!



CHAPTER VIII.

WE often form cordial intimacies in the confined society of a country
house, or a quiet watering-place, or a small Continental town, which
fade away into remote acquaintanceship in the mighty vortex of London
life, neither party being to blame for the estrangement. It was so with
Leopold Travers and Kenelm Chillingly. Travers, as we have seen, had
felt a powerful charm in the converse of the young stranger, so in
contrast with the routine of the rural companionships to which his alert
intellect had for many years circumscribed its range. But on reappearing
in London the season before Kenelm again met him, he had renewed old
friendships with men of his own standing,--officers in the regiment of
which he had once been a popular ornament, some of them still unmarried,
a few of them like himself widowed, others who had been his rivals
in fashion, and were still pleasant idlers about town; and it rarely
happens in a metropolis that we have intimate friendships with those of
another generation, unless there be some common tie in the cultivation
of art and letters, or the action of kindred sympathies in the party
strife of politics. Therefore Travers and Kenelm had had little familiar
communication with each other since they first met at the Beaumanoirs’.
Now and then they found themselves at the same crowded assemblies, and
interchanged nods and salutations. But their habits were different; the
houses at which they were intimate were not the same, neither did they
frequent the same clubs. Kenelm’s chief bodily exercise was still that
of long and early rambles into rural suburbs; Leopold’s was that of
a late ride in the Row. Of the two, Leopold was much more the man of
pleasure. Once restored to metropolitan life, a temper constitutionally
eager, ardent, and convivial took kindly, as in earlier youth, to its
light range of enjoyments.

Had the intercourse between the two men been as frankly familiar as it
had been at Neesdale Park, Kenelm would probably have seen much more of
Cecilia at her own home; and the admiration and esteem with which she
already inspired him might have ripened into much warmer feeling, had
he thus been brought into clearer comprehension of the soft and womanly
heart, and its tender predisposition towards himself.

He had said somewhat vaguely in his letter to Sir Peter, that “sometimes
he felt as if his indifference to love, as to ambition, was because he
had some impossible ideal in each.” Taking that conjecture to task,
he could not honestly persuade himself that he had formed any ideal of
woman and wife with which the reality of Cecilia Travers was at war. On
the contrary, the more he thought over the characteristics of Cecilia,
the more they seemed to correspond to any ideal that had floated before
him in the twilight of dreamy revery; and yet he knew that he was not
in love with her, that his heart did not respond to his reason; and
mournfully he resigned himself to the conviction that nowhere in
this planet, from the normal pursuits of whose inhabitants he felt so
estranged, was there waiting for him the smiling playmate, the earnest
helpmate. As this conviction strengthened, so an increased weariness
of the artificial life of the metropolis, and of all its objects and
amusements, turned his thoughts with an intense yearning towards the
Bohemian freedom and fresh excitements of his foot ramblings. He often
thought with envy of the wandering minstrel, and wondered whether, if he
again traversed the same range of country, he might encounter again that
vagrant singer.



CHAPTER IX.

IT is nearly a week since Kenelm had met Cecilia, and he is sitting
in his rooms with Lord Thetford at that hour of three in the afternoon
which is found the most difficult to dispose of by idlers about town.
Amongst young men of his own age and class with whom Kenelm assorted in
the fashionable world, perhaps the one whom he liked the best, and of
whom he saw the most, was this young heir of the Beaumanoirs; and though
Lord Thetford has nothing to do with the direct stream of my story, it
is worth pausing a few minutes to sketch an outline of one of the
best whom the last generation has produced for a part that, owing to
accidents of birth and fortune, young men like Lord Thetford must play
on that stage from which the curtain is not yet drawn up. Destined to
be the head of a family that unites with princely possessions and a
historical name a keen though honourable ambition for political power,
Lord Thetford has been care fully educated, especially in the new ideas
of his time. His father, though a man of no ordinary talents, has never
taken a prominent part in public life. He desires his eldest son to do
so. The Beaumanoirs have been Whigs from the time of William III. They
have shared the good and the ill fortunes of a party which, whether we
side with it or not, no politician who dreads extremes in the government
of a State so pre-eminently artificial that a prevalent extreme at
either end of the balance would be fatal to equilibrium, can desire to
become extinct or feeble so long as a constitutional monarchy exists
in England. From the reign of George I. to the death of George IV., the
Beaumanoirs were in the ascendant. Visit their family portrait gallery,
and you must admire the eminence of a house which, during that interval
of less than a century, contributed so many men to the service of the
State or the adornment of the Court,--so many Ministers, Ambassadors,
Generals, Lord Chamberlains, and Masters of the Horse. When the younger
Pitt beat the great Whig Houses, the Beaumanoirs vanish into comparative
obscurity; they reemerge with the accession of William IV., and once
more produce bulwarks of the State and ornaments of the Crown. The
present Lord of Beaumanoir, _poco curante_ in politics though he be, has
at least held high offices at Court; and, as a matter of course, he is
Lord Lieutenant of his county, as well as Knight of the Garter. He is
a man whom the chiefs of his party have been accustomed to consult on
critical questions. He gives his opinions confidentially and modestly,
and when they are rejected never takes offence. He thinks that a time
is coming when the head of the Beaumanoirs should descend into the lists
and fight hand-to-hand with any Hodge or Hobson in the cause of his
country for the benefit of the Whigs. Too lazy or too old to do this
himself, he says to his son, “You must do it: without effort of mine the
thing may last my life. It needs effort of yours that the thing may last
through your own.”

Lord Thetford cheerfully responds to the paternal admonition. He curbs
his natural inclinations, which are neither inelegant nor unmanly; for,
on the one side, he is very fond of music and painting, an accomplished
amateur, and deemed a sound connoisseur in both; and, on the other side,
he has a passion for all field sports, and especially for hunting. He
allows no such attractions to interfere with diligent attention to the
business of the House of Commons. He serves in Committees, he takes the
chair at public meetings on sanitary questions or projects for social
improvement, and acquits himself well therein. He has not yet spoken in
debate, but he has only been two years in Parliament, and he takes his
father’s wise advice not to speak till the third. But he is not without
weight among the well-born youth of the party, and has in him the stuff
out of which, when it becomes seasoned, the Corinthian capitals of a
Cabinet may be very effectively carved. In his own heart he is convinced
that his party are going too far and too fast; but with that party he
goes on light-heartedly, and would continue to do so if they went to
Erebus. But he would prefer their going the other way. For the rest, a
pleasant, bright-eyed young fellow, with vivid animal spirits; and, in
the holiday moments of reprieve from public duty he brings sunshine into
draggling hunting-fields, and a fresh breeze into heated ballrooms.

“My dear fellow,” said Lord Thetford, as he threw aside his cigar, “I
quite understand that you bore yourself: you have nothing else to do.”

“What can I do?”

“Work.”

“Work!”

“Yes, you are clever enough to feel that you have a mind; and mind is a
restless inmate of body: it craves occupation of some sort, and regular
occupation too; it needs its daily constitutional exercise. Do you give
your mind that?”

“I am sure I don’t know, but my mind is always busying itself about
something or other.”

“In a desultory way,--with no fixed object.”

“True.”

“Write a book, and then it will have its constitutional.”

“Nay, my mind is always writing a book (though it may not publish
one), always jotting down impressions, or inventing incidents, or
investigating characters; and between you and me, I do not think that I
do bore myself so much as I did formerly. Other people bore me more than
they did.”

“Because you will not create an object in common with other people: come
into Parliament, side with a party, and you have that object.”

“Do you mean seriously to tell me that you are not bored in the House of
Commons?”

“With the speakers very often, yes; but with the strife between the
speakers, no. The House of Commons life has a peculiar excitement
scarcely understood out of it; but you may conceive its charm when you
observe that a man who has once been in the thick of it feels forlorn
and shelved if he lose his seat, and even repines when the accident
of birth transfers him to the serener air of the Upper House. Try that
life, Chillingly.”

“I might if I were an ultra-Radical, a Republican, a Communist, a
Socialist, and wished to upset everything existing, for then the strife
would at least be a very earnest one.”

“But could not you be equally in earnest against those revolutionary
gentlemen?”

“Are you and your leaders in earnest against them? They don’t appear to
me so.”

Thetford was silent for a minute. “Well, if you doubt the principles of
my side, go with the other side. For my part, I and many of our party
would be glad to see the Conservatives stronger.”

“I have no doubt they would. No sensible man likes to be carried off his
legs by the rush of the crowd behind him; and a crowd is less headlong
when it sees a strong force arrayed against it in front. But it seems
to me that, at present, Conservatism can but be what it now is,--a party
that may combine for resistance, and will not combine for inventive
construction. We are living in an age in which the process of
unsettlement is going blindly at work, as if impelled by a Nemesis as
blind as itself. New ideas come beating into surf and surge against
those which former reasoners had considered as fixed banks and
breakwaters; and the new ideas are so mutable, so fickle, that those
which were considered novel ten years ago are deemed obsolete to-day,
and the new ones of to-day will in their turn be obsolete to-morrow.
And, in a sort of fatalism, you see statesmen yielding way to these
successive mockeries of experiment,--for they are experiments against
experience,--and saying to each other with a shrug of the shoulders,
‘Bismillah! it must be so; the country will have it, even though it
sends the country to the dogs.’ I don’t feel sure that the country will
not go there the sooner, if you can only strengthen the Conservative
element enough to set it up in office, with the certainty of knocking
it down again. Alas! I am too dispassionate a looker-on to be fit for a
partisan: would I were not! Address yourself to my cousin Gordon.”

“Ay, Chillingly Gordon is a coming man, and has all the earnestness you
find absent in party and in yourself.”

“You call him earnest?”

“Thoroughly, in the pursuit of one object,--the advancement of
Chillingly Gordon. If he get into the House of Commons, and succeed
there, I hope he will never become my leader; for if he thought
Christianity in the way of his promotion, he would bring in a bill for
its abolition.”

“In that case would he still be your leader?”

“My dear Kenelm, you don’t know what is the spirit of party, and how
easily it makes excuses for any act of its leader. Of course, if Gordon
brought in a bill for the abolition of Christianity, it would be on the
plea that the abolition was good for the Christians, and his followers
would cheer that enlightened sentiment.”

“Ah,” said Kenelm, with a sigh, “I own myself the dullest of blockheads;
for instead of tempting me into the field of party politics, your talk
leaves me in stolid amaze that you do not take to your heels, where
honour can only be saved by flight.”

“Pooh! my dear Chillingly, we cannot run away from the age in which we
live: we must accept its conditions and make the best of them; and if
the House of Commons be nothing else, it is a famous debating society
and a capital club. Think over it. I must leave you now. I am going
to see a picture at the Exhibition which has been most truculently
criticised in ‘The Londoner,’ but which I am assured, on good authority,
is a work of remarkable merit. I can’t bear to see a man snarled and
sneered down, no doubt by jealous rivals, who have their influence in
journals, so I shall judge of the picture for myself. If it be really
as good as I am told, I shall talk about it to everybody I meet; and in
matters of art I fancy my word goes for something. Study art, my dear
Kenelm. No gentleman’s education is complete if he does n’t know a good
picture from a bad one. After the Exhibition I shall just have time for
a canter round the Park before the debate of the session, which begins
to-night.”

With a light step the young man quitted the room, humming an air from
the “Figaro” as he descended the stairs. From the window Kenelm watched
him swinging himself with careless grace into his saddle and riding
briskly down the street,--in form and face and bearing a very model of
young, high-born, high-bred manhood. “The Venetians,” muttered Kenelm,
“decapitated Marino Faliero for conspiring against his own order,--the
nobles. The Venetians loved their institutions, and had faith in them.
Is there such love and such faith among the English?”

As he thus soliloquized he heard a shrilling sort of squeak; and a
showman stationed before his window the stage on which Punch satirizes
the laws and moralities of the world, “kills the beadle and defies the
devil.”



CHAPTER X.

KENELM turned from the sight of Punch and Punch’s friend the cur, as his
servant, entering, said a person from the country, who would not give
his name, asked to see him.

Thinking it might be some message from his father, Kenelm ordered the
stranger to be admitted, and in another minute there entered a young man
of handsome countenance and powerful frame, in whom, after a surprised
stare, Kenelm recognized Tom Bowles. Difficult indeed would have been
that recognition to an unobservant beholder: no trace was left of the
sullen bully or the village farrier; the expression of the face was mild
and intelligent,--more bashful than hardy; the brute strength of the
form had lost its former clumsiness, the simple dress was that of a
gentleman,--to use an expressive idiom, the whole man was wonderfully
“toned down.”

“I am afraid, sir, I am taking a liberty,” said Tom, rather nervously,
twiddling his hat between his fingers.

“I should be a greater friend to liberty than I am if it were always
taken in the same way,” said Kenelm, with a touch of his saturnine
humour; but then yielding at once to the warmer impulse of his nature,
he grasped his old antagonist’s hand and exclaimed, “My dear Tom, you
are so welcome. I am so glad to see you. Sit down, man; sit down: make
yourself at home.”

“I did not know you were back in England, sir, till within the last few
days; for you did say that when you came back I should see or hear from
you,” and there was a tone of reproach in the last words.

“I am to blame, forgive me,” said Kenelm, remorsefully. “But how did
you find me out? you did not then, I think, even know my name. That,
however, it was easy enough to discover; but who gave you my address in
this lodging?”

“Well, sir, it was Miss Travers; and she bade me come to you. Otherwise,
as you did not send for me, it was scarcely my place to call uninvited.”

“But, my dear Tom, I never dreamed that you were in London. One don’t
ask a man whom one supposes to be more than a hundred miles off to pay
one an afternoon call. You are still with your uncle, I presume? and I
need not ask if all thrives well with you: you look a prosperous man,
every inch of you, from crown to toe.”

“Yes,” said Tom; “thank you kindly, sir, I am doing well in the way of
business, and my uncle is to give me up the whole concern at Christmas.”

While Tom thus spoke Kenelm had summoned his servant, and ordered up
such refreshments as could be found in the larder of a bachelor in
lodgings. “And what brings you to town, Tom?”

“Miss Travers wrote to me about a little business which she was good
enough to manage for me, and said you wished to know about it; and so,
after turning it over in my mind for a few days, I resolved to come to
town: indeed,” added Tom, heartily, “I did wish to see your face again.”

“But you talk riddles. What business of yours could Miss Travers imagine
I wished to know about?”

Tom coloured high, and looked very embarrassed. Luckily, the servant
here entering with the refreshment-tray allowed him time to recover
himself. Kenelm helped him to a liberal slice of cold pigeon-pie,
pressed wine on him, and did not renew the subject till he thought his
guest’s tongue was likely to be more freely set loose; then he said,
laying a friendly hand on Tom’s shoulders, “I have been thinking over
what passed between me and Miss Travers. I wished to have the new
address of Will Somers; she promised to write to his benefactor to ask
permission to give it. You are that benefactor?”

“Don’t say benefactor, sir. I will tell how it came about if you will
let me. You see, I sold my little place at Graveleigh to the new Squire,
and when Mother removed to Luscombe to be near me, she told me how
poor Jessie had been annoyed by Captain Stavers, who seems to think
his purchase included the young women on the property along with the
standing timber; and I was half afraid that she had given some cause for
his persecution, for you know she has a blink of those soft eyes of
hers that might charm a wise man out of his skin and put a fool there
instead.”

“But I hope she has done with those blinks since her marriage.”

“Well, and I honestly think she has. It is certain she did not encourage
Captain Stavers, for I went over to Graveleigh myself on the sly, and
lodged concealed with one of the cottagers who owed me a kindness; and
one day, as I was at watch, I saw the Captain peering over the stile
which divides Holmwood from the glebe,--you remember Holmwood?”

“I can’t say I do.”

“The footway from the village to Squire Travers’s goes through the
wood, which is a few hundred yards at the back of Will Somers’s orchard.
Presently the Captain drew himself suddenly back from the stile, and
disappeared among the trees, and then I saw Jessie coming from the
orchard with a basket over her arm, and walking quick towards the wood.
Then, sir, my heart sank. I felt sure she was going to meet the Captain.
However, I crept along the hedgerow, hiding myself, and got into the
wood almost as soon as Jessie got there, by another way. Under the cover
of the brushwood I stole on till I saw the Captain come out from the
copse on the other side of the path, and plant himself just before
Jessie. Then I saw at once I had wronged her. She had not expected to
see him, for she hastily turned back, and began to run homeward; but he
caught her up, and seized her by the arm. I could not hear what he said,
but I heard her voice quite sharp with fright and anger. And then he
suddenly seized her round the waist, and she screamed, and I sprang
forward--”

“And thrashed the Captain?”

“No, I did not,” said Tom; “I had made a vow to myself that I never
would be violent again if I could help it. So I took him with one hand
by the cuff of the neck, and with the other by the waistband, and just
pitched him on a bramble bush,--quite mildly. He soon picked himself up,
for he is a dapper little chap, and became very blustering and abusive.
But I kept my temper, and said civilly, ‘Little gentleman, hard words
break no bones; but if ever you molest Mrs. Somers again, I will carry
you into her orchard, souse you into the duck-pond there, and call all
the villagers to see you scramble out of it again; and I will do it
now if you are not off. I dare say you have heard of my name: I am Tom
Bowles.’ Upon that his face, which was before very red, grew very white,
and muttering something I did not hear, he walked away.

“Jessie--I mean Mrs. Somers--seemed at first as much frightened at me
as she had been at the Captain; and though I offered to walk with her to
Miss Travers’s, where she was going with a basket which the young lady
had ordered, she refused, and went back home. I felt hurt, and returned
to my uncle’s the same evening; and it was not for months that I heard
the Captain had been spiteful enough to set up an opposition shop, and
that poor Will had been taken ill, and his wife was confined about the
same time, and the talk was that they were in distress and might have to
be sold up.

“When I heard all this, I thought that after all it was my rough tongue
that had so angered the Captain and been the cause of his spite, and so
it was my duty to make it up to poor Will and his wife. I did not know
how to set about mending matters, but I thought I’d go and talk to Miss
Travers; and if ever there was a kind heart in a girl’s breast, hers is
one.”

“You are right there, I guess. What did Miss Travers say?”

“Nay; I hardly know what she did say, but she set me thinking, and it
struck me that Jessie--Mrs. Somers--had better move to a distance, and
out of the Captain’s reach, and that Will would do better in a less
out-of-the-way place. And then, by good luck, I read in the newspaper
that a stationary and a fancywork business, with a circulating library,
was to be sold on moderate terms at Moleswich, the other side of London.
So I took the train and went to the place, and thought the shop would
just suit these young folks, and not be too much work for either; then I
went to Miss Travers, and I had a lot of money lying by me from the sale
of the old forge and premises, which I did not know what to do with; and
so, to cut short a long story, I bought the business, and Will and his
wife are settled at Moleswich, thriving and happy, I hope, sir.”

Tom’s voice quivered at the last words, and he turned aside quickly,
passing his hand over his eyes.

Kenelm was greatly moved.

“And they don’t know what you did for them?”

“To be sure not. I don’t think Will would have let him self be
beholden to me. Ah! the lad has a spirit of his own, and Jessie--Mrs.
Somers--would have felt pained and humbled that I should even think of
such a thing. Miss Travers managed it all. They take the money as a loan
which is to be paid by instalments. They have sent Miss Travers more
than one instalment already, so I know they are doing well.”

“A loan from Miss Travers?”

“No; Miss Travers wanted to have a share in it, but I begged her not. It
made me happy to do what I did all myself; and Miss Travers felt for me
and did not press. They perhaps think it is Squire Travers (though he is
not a man who would like to say it, for fear it should bring applicants
on him), or some other gentleman who takes an interest in them.”

“I always said you were a grand fellow, Tom. But you are grander still
than I thought you.”

“If there be any good in me, I owe it to you, sir. Think what a drunken,
violent brute I was when I first met you. Those walks with you, and I
may say that other gentleman’s talk, and then that long kind letter I
had from you, not signed in your name, and written from abroad,--all
these changed me, as the child is changed at nurse.”

“You have evidently read a good deal since we parted.”

“Yes; I belong to our young men’s library and institute; and when of an
evening I get hold of a book, especially a pleasant story-book, I don’t
care for other company.”

“Have you never seen any other girl you could care for, and wish to
marry?”

“Ah, sir,” answered Tom, “a man does not go so mad for a girl as I
did for Jessie Wiles, and when it is all over, and he has come to his
senses, put his heart into joint again as easily as if it were only a
broken leg. I don’t say that I may not live to love and to marry another
woman: it is my wish to do so. But I know that I shall love Jessie to my
dying day; but not sinfully, sir,--not sinfully. I would not wrong her
by a thought.”

There was a long pause.

At last Kenelm said, “You promised to be kind to that little girl with
the flower-ball; what has become of her?”

“She is quite well, thank you, sir. My aunt has taken a great fancy to
her, and so has my mother. She comes to them very often of an evening,
and brings her work with her. A quick, intelligent little thing, and
full of pretty thoughts. On Sundays, if the weather is fine, we stroll
out together in the fields.”

“She has been a comfort to you, Tom.”

“Oh, yes.”

“And loves you?”

“I am sure she does; an affectionate, grateful child.”

“She will be a woman soon, Tom, and may love you as a woman then.”

Tom looked indignant and rather scornful at that suggestion, and
hastened to revert to the subject more immediately at his heart.

“Miss Travers said you would like to call on Will Somers and his wife;
will you? Moleswich is not far from London, you know.”

“Certainly, I will call.”

“I do hope you will find them happy; and if so, perhaps you will kindly
let me know; and--and--I wonder whether Jessie’s child is like her? It
is a boy; somehow or other I would rather it had been a girl.”

“I will write you full particulars. But why not come with me?”

“No, I don’t think I could do that, just at present. It unsettled me
sadly when I did again see her sweet face at Graveleigh, and she was
still afraid of me too! that was a sharp pang.”

“She ought to know what you have done for her, and will.”

“On no account, sir; promise me that. I should feel mean if I humbled
them,--that way.”

“I understand, though I will not as yet make you any positive promise.
Meanwhile, if you are staying in town, lodge with me; my landlady can
find you a room.”

“Thank you heartily, sir; but I go back by the evening train; and, bless
me! how late it is now! I must wish you good-by. I have some commissions
to do for my aunt, and I must buy a new doll for Susey.”

“Susey is the name of the little girl with the flower-ball?”

“Yes. I must run off now; I feel quite light at heart seeing you again
and finding that you receive me still so kindly, as if we were equals.”

“Ah, Tom, I wish I was your equal,--nay, half as noble as Heaven has
made you!”

Tom laughed incredulously, and went his way.

“This mischievous passion of love,” said Kenelm to himself, “has its
good side, it seems, after all. If it was nearly making a wild beast of
that brave fellow,--nay, worse than wild beast, a homicide doomed to
the gibbet,--so, on the other hand, what a refined, delicate, chivalrous
nature of gentleman it has developed out of the stormy elements of its
first madness! Yes, I will go and look at this new-married couple. I
dare say they are already snarling and spitting at each other like cat
and dog. Moleswich is within reach of a walk.”



BOOK V.



CHAPTER I.

TWO days after the interview recorded in the last chapter of the
previous Book, Travers, chancing to call at Kenelm’s lodgings, was told
by his servant that Mr. Chillingly had left London, alone, and had given
no orders as to forwarding letters. The servant did not know where he
had gone, or when he would return.

Travers repeated this news incidentally to Cecilia, and she felt
somewhat hurt that he had not written her a line respecting Tom’s visit.
She, however, guessed that he had gone to see the Somerses, and would
return to town in a day or so. But weeks passed, the season drew to its
close, and of Kenelm Chillingly she saw or heard nothing: he had
wholly vanished from the London world. He had but written a line to his
servant, ordering him to repair to Exmundham and await him there, and
enclosing him a check to pay outstanding bills.

We must now follow the devious steps of the strange being who has grown
into the hero of this story. He had left his apartment at daybreak long
before his servant was up, with his knapsack, and a small portmanteau,
into which he had thrust--besides such additional articles of dress as
he thought he might possibly require, and which his knapsack could not
contain--a few of his favourite books. Driving with these in a hack-cab
to the Vauxhall station, he directed the portmanteau to be forwarded
to Moleswich, and flinging the knapsack on his shoulders, walked slowly
along the drowsy suburbs that stretched far into the landscape, before,
breathing more freely, he found some evidences of rural culture on
either side of the high road. It was not, however, till he had left the
roofs and trees of pleasant Richmond far behind him that he began to
feel he was out of reach of the metropolitan disquieting influences.
Finding at a little inn, where he stopped to breakfast, that there was
a path along fields, and in sight of the river, through which he could
gain the place of his destination, he then quitted the high road,
and traversing one of the loveliest districts in one of our loveliest
counties, he reached Moleswich about noon.



CHAPTER II.

ON entering the main street of the pretty town, the name of Somers,
in gilt capitals, was sufficiently conspicuous over the door of a very
imposing shop. It boasted two plate-glass windows, at one of which were
tastefully exhibited various articles of fine stationery, embroidery
patterns, etc.; at the other, no less tastefully, sundry specimens of
ornamental basket-work.

Kenelm crossed the threshold and recognized behind the counter--fair
as ever, but with an expression of face more staid, and a figure more
rounded and matron-like--his old friend Jessie. There were two or three
customers before her, between whom she was dividing her attention. While
a handsome young lady, seated, was saying, in a somewhat loud but cheery
and pleasant voice, “Do not mind me, Mrs. Somers: I can wait,” Jessie’s
quick eye darted towards the stranger, but too rapidly to distinguish
his features, which, indeed, he turned away, and began to examine the
baskets.

In a minute or so the other customers were served and had departed; and
the voice of the lady was again heard, “Now, Mrs. Somers, I want to see
your picture-books and toys. I am giving a little children’s party this
afternoon, and I want to make them as happy as possible.”

“Somewhere or other, on this planet, or before my Monad was whisked
away to it, I have heard that voice,” muttered Kenelm. While Jessie was
alertly bringing forth her toys and picture-books, she said, “I am sorry
to keep you waiting, sir; but if it is the baskets you come about, I can
call my husband.”

“Do,” said Kenelm.

“William, William,” cried Mrs. Somers; and after a delay long enough to
allow him to slip on his jacket, William Somers emerged from the back
parlour.

His face had lost its old trace of suffering and ill health; it was
still somewhat pale, and retained its expression of intellectual
refinement.

“How you have improved in your art!” said Kenelm, heartily.

William started, and recognized Kenelm at once. He sprang forward and
took Kenelm’s outstretched hand in both his own, and, in a voice between
laughing and crying, exclaimed, “Jessie, Jessie, it is he!--he whom we
pray for every night. God bless you! God bless and make you as happy as
He permitted you to make me!”

Before this little speech was faltered out, Jessie was by her husband’s
side, and she added, in a lower voice, but tremulous with deep feeling,
“And me too!”

“By your leave, Will,” said Kenelm, and he saluted Jessie’s white
forehead with a kiss that could not have been kindlier or colder if it
had been her grandfather’s.

Meanwhile the lady had risen noiselessly and unobserved, and stealing up
to Kenelm, looked him full in the face.

“You have another friend here, sir, who has also some cause to thank
you--”

“I thought I remembered your voice,” said Kenelm, looking puzzled. “But
pardon me if I cannot recall your features. Where have we met before?”

“Give me your arm when we go out, and I will bring myself to your
recollection. But no: I must not hurry you away now. I will call
again in half an hour. Mrs. Somers, meanwhile put up the things I
have selected. I will take them away with me when I come back from the
vicarage, where I have left the pony-carriage.” So, with a parting nod
and smile to Kenelm, she turned away, and left him bewildered.

“But who is that lady, Will?”

“A Mrs. Braefield. She is a new comer.”

“She may well be that, Will,” said Jessie, smiling, “for she has only
been married six months.”

“And what was her name before she married?”

“I am sure I don’t know, sir. It is only three months since we came
here, and she has been very kind to us and an excellent customer.
Everybody likes her. Mr. Braefield is a city gentleman and very rich;
and they live in the finest house in the place, and see a great deal of
company.”

“Well, I am no wiser than I was before,” said Kenelm. “People who ask
questions very seldom are.”

“And how did you find us out, sir?” said Jessie. “Oh! I guess,” she
added, with an arch glance and smile. “Of course, you have seen Miss
Travers, and she told you.”

“You are right. I first learned your change of residence from her, and
thought I would come and see you, and be introduced to the baby,--a boy,
I understand? Like you, Will?”

“No, sir, the picture of Jessie.”

“Nonsense, Will; it is you all over, even to its little hands.”

“And your good mother, Will, how did you leave her?”

“Oh, sir!” cried Jessie, reproachfully; “do you think we could have the
heart to leave Mother,--so lone and rheumatic too? She is tending baby
now,--always does while I am in the shop.”

Here Kenelm followed the young couple into the parlour, where, seated by
the window, they found old Mrs. Somers reading the Bible and rocking the
baby, who slept peacefully in its cradle.

“Will,” said Kenelm, bending his dark face over the infant, “I will
tell you a pretty thought of a foreign poet’s, which has been thus badly
translated:


 “‘Blest babe, a boundless world this bed so narrow seems to thee;
  Grow man, and narrower than this bed the boundless world shall
  be.’”[1]


  [1] Schiller.


“I don’t think that is true, sir,” said Will, simply; “for a happy home
is a world wide enough for any man.”

Tears started into Jessie’s eyes; she bent down and kissed--not the
baby, but the cradle. “Will made it.” She added blushing, “I mean the
cradle, sir.”

Time flew past while Kenelm talked with Will and the old mother, for
Jessie was soon summoned back to the shop; and Kenelm was startled when
he found the half-hour’s grace allowed to him was over, and Jessie put
her head in at the door and said, “Mrs. Braefield is waiting for you.”

“Good-by, Will; I shall come to see you again soon; and my mother gives
me a commission to buy I don’t know how many specimens of your craft.”



CHAPTER III.

A SMART pony-phaeton, with a box for a driver in livery equally smart,
stood at the shop-door.

“Now, Mr. Chillingly,” said Mrs. Braefield, “it is my turn to run away
with you; get in!”

“Eh!” murmured Kenelm, gazing at her with large dreamy eyes. “Is it
possible?”

“Quite possible; get in. Coachman, home! Yes, Mr. Chillingly, you meet
again that giddy creature whom you threatened to thrash; it would have
served her right. I ought to feel so ashamed to recall myself to your
recollection, and yet I am not a bit ashamed. I am proud to show you
that I have turned out a steady, respectable woman, and, my husband
tells me, a good wife.”

“You have only been six months married, I hear,” said Kenelm, dryly. “I
hope your husband will say the same six years hence.”

“He will say the same sixty years hence, if we live as long.”

“How old is he now?”

“Thirty-eight.”

“When a man wants only two years of his hundredth, he probably has
learned to know his own mind; but then, in most cases, very little mind
is left to him to know.”

“Don’t be satirical, sir; and don’t talk as if you were railing at
marriage, when you have just left as happy a young couple as the sun
ever shone upon; and owing,--for Mrs. Somers has told me all about her
marriage,--owing their happiness to you.”

“Their happiness to me! not in the least. I helped them to marry, and in
spite of marriage they helped each other to be happy.”

“You are still unmarried yourself?”

“Yes, thank Heaven!”

“And are you happy?”

“No; I can’t make myself happy: myself is a discontented brute.”

“Then why do you say ‘thank Heaven’?”

“Because it is a comfort to think I am not making somebody else
unhappy.”

“Do you believe that if you loved a wife who loved you, you should make
her unhappy?”

“I am sure I don’t know; but I have not seen a woman whom I could love
as a wife. And we need not push our inquiries further. What has become
of that ill-treated gray cob?”

“He was quite well, thank you, when I last heard of him.”

“And the uncle who would have inflicted me upon you, if you had not so
gallantly defended yourself?”

“He is living where he did live, and has married his housekeeper. He
felt a delicate scruple against taking that step till I was married
myself and out of the way.”

Here Mrs. Braefield, beginning to speak very hurriedly, as women who
seek to disguise emotion often do, informed Kenelm how unhappy she had
felt for weeks after having found an asylum with her aunt,--how she had
been stung by remorse and oppressed by a sense of humiliation at the
thought of her folly and the odious recollection of Mr. Compton,--how
she had declared to herself that she would never marry any one
now--never! How Mr. Braefield happened to be on a visit in the
neighbourhood, and saw her at church,--how he had sought an introduction
to her,--and how at first she rather disliked him than not; but he was
so good and so kind, and when at last he proposed--and she had frankly
told him all about her girlish flight and infatuation--how generously he
had thanked her for a candour which had placed her as high in his esteem
as she had been before in his love. “And from that moment,” said Mrs.
Braefield, passionately, “my whole heart leaped to him. And now you know
all; and here we are at the Lodge.”

The pony-phaeton went with great speed up a broad gravel-drive, bordered
with rare evergreens, and stopped at a handsome house with a portico in
front, and a long conservatory at the garden side,--one of those houses
which belong to “city gentlemen,” and often contain more comfort and
exhibit more luxury than many a stately manorial mansion.

Mrs. Braefield evidently felt some pride as she led Kenelm through
the handsome hall, paved with Malvern tiles and adorned with Scagliola
columns, and into a drawing-room furnished with much taste and opening
on a spacious flower-garden.

“But where is Mr. Braefield?” asked Kenelm.

“Oh, he has taken the rail to his office; but he will be back long
before dinner, and of course you dine with us.”

“You’re very hospitable, but--”

“No buts: I will take no excuse. Don’t fear that you shall have only
mutton-chops and a rice-pudding; and, besides, I have a children’s party
coming at two o’clock, and there will be all sorts of fun. You are fond
of children, I am sure?”

“I rather think I am not. But I have never clearly ascertained my own
inclinations upon that subject.”

“Well, you shall have ample opportunity to do so to-day. And oh! I
promise you the sight of the loveliest face that you can picture to
yourself when you think of your future wife.”

“My future wife, I hope, is not yet born,” said Kenelm, wearily, and
with much effort suppressing a yawn. “But at all events, I will stay
till after two o’clock; for two o’clock, I presume, means luncheon.”

Mrs. Braefield laughed. “You retain your appetite?”

“Most single men do, provided they don’t fall in love and become doubled
up.”

At this abominable attempt at a pun, Mrs. Braefield disdained to laugh;
but turning away from its perpetrator she took off her hat and gloves
and passed her hands lightly over her forehead, as if to smooth back
some vagrant tress in locks already sufficiently sheen and trim. She was
not quite so pretty in female attire as she had appeared in boy’s
dress, nor did she look quite as young. In all other respects she was
wonderfully improved. There was a serener, a more settled intelligence
in her frank bright eyes, a milder expression in the play of her parted
lips. Kenelm gazed at her with pleased admiration. And as now, turning
from the glass, she encountered his look, a deeper colour came into the
clear delicacy of her cheeks, and the frank eyes moistened. She came up
to him as he sat, and took his hand in both hers, pressing it warmly.
“Ah, Mr. Chillingly,” she said, with impulsive tremulous tones, “look
round, look round this happy, peaceful home!--the life so free from a
care, the husband whom I so love and honour; all the blessings that I
might have so recklessly lost forever had I not met with you, had I been
punished as I deserved. How often I thought of your words, that ‘you
would be proud of my friendship when we met again’! What strength they
gave me in my hours of humbled self-reproach!” Her voice here died away
as if in the effort to suppress a sob.

She released his hand, and, before he could answer, passed quickly
through the open sash into the garden.



CHAPTER IV.

THE children have come,--some thirty of them, pretty as English children
generally are, happy in the joy of the summer sunshine, and the
flower lawns, and the feast under cover of an awning suspended between
chestnut-trees, and carpeted with sward.

No doubt Kenelm held his own at the banquet, and did his best to
increase the general gayety, for whenever he spoke the children listened
eagerly, and when he had done they laughed mirthfully.

“The fair face I promised you,” whispered Mrs. Braefield, “is not here
yet. I have a little note from the young lady to say that Mrs. Cameron
does not feel very well this morning, but hopes to recover sufficiently
to come later in the afternoon.”

“And pray who is Mrs. Cameron?”

“Ah! I forgot that you are a stranger to the place. Mrs. Cameron is the
aunt with whom Lily resides. Is it not a pretty name, Lily?”

“Very! emblematic of a spinster that does not spin, with a white head
and a thin stalk.”

“Then the name belies my Lily, as you will see.”

The children now finished their feast, and betook themselves to dancing
in an alley smoothed for a croquet-ground, and to the sound of a violin
played by the old grandfather of one of the party. While Mrs. Braefield
was busying herself with forming the dance, Kenelm seized the occasion
to escape from a young nymph of the age of twelve who had sat next him
at the banquet, and taken so great a fancy to him that he began to fear
she would vow never to forsake his side, and stole away undetected.

There are times when the mirth of others only saddens us, especially
the mirth of children with high spirits, that jar on our own quiet mood.
Gliding through a dense shrubbery, in which, though the lilacs were
faded, the laburnum still retained here and there the waning gold of its
clusters, Kenelm came into a recess which bounded his steps and invited
him to repose. It was a circle, so formed artificially by slight
trellises, to which clung parasite roses heavy with leaves and flowers.
In the midst played a tiny fountain with a silvery murmuring sound; at
the background, dominating the place, rose the crests of stately trees,
on which the sunlight shimmered, but which rampired out all horizon
beyond. Even as in life do the great dominant passions--love, ambition,
desire of power or gold or fame or knowledge--form the proud background
to the brief-lived flowerets of our youth, lift our eyes beyond the
smile of their bloom, catch the glint of a loftier sunbeam, and yet,
and yet, exclude our sight from the lengths and the widths of the space
which extends behind and beyond them.

Kenelm threw himself on the turf beside the fountain. From afar came the
whoop and the laugh of the children in their sports or their dance. At
the distance their joy did not sadden him,--he marvelled why; and thus,
in musing revery, thought to explain the why to himself.

“The poet,” so ran his lazy thinking, “has told us that ‘distance lends
enchantment to the view,’ and thus compares to the charm of distance
the illusion of hope. But the poet narrows the scope of his own
illustration. Distance lends enchantment to the ear as well as to the
sight; nor to these bodily senses alone. Memory no less than hope owes
its charm to ‘the far away.’

“I cannot imagine myself again a child when I am in the midst of
young noisy children. But as their noise reaches me here, subdued and
mellowed, and knowing, thank Heaven, that the urchins are not within
reach of me, I could readily dream myself back into childhood, and into
sympathy with the lost playfields of school.

“So surely it must be with grief: how different the terrible agony for
a beloved one just gone from earth, to the soft regret for one who
disappeared into Heaven years ago! So with the art of poetry: how
imperatively, when it deals with the great emotions of tragedy, it must
remove the actors from us, in proportion as the emotions are to elevate,
and the tragedy is to please us by the tears it draws! Imagine our shock
if a poet were to place on the stage some wise gentleman with whom we
dined yesterday, and who was discovered to have killed his father and
married his mother. But when Oedipus commits those unhappy mistakes
nobody is shocked. Oxford in the nineteenth century is a long way off
from Thebes three thousand or four thousand years ago.

“And,” continued Kenelm, plunging deeper into the maze of metaphysical
criticism, “even where the poet deals with persons and things close upon
our daily sight,--if he would give them poetic charm he must resort to
a sort of moral or psychological distance; the nearer they are to us
in external circumstance, the farther they must be in some internal
peculiarities. Werter and Clarissa Harlowe are described as
contemporaries of their artistic creation, and with the minutest details
of apparent realism; yet they are at once removed from our daily lives
by their idiosyncrasies and their fates. We know that while Werter
and Clarissa are so near to us in much that we sympathize with them as
friends and kinsfolk, they are yet as much remote from us in the poetic
and idealized side of their natures as if they belonged to the age of
Homer; and this it is that invests with charm the very pain which their
fate inflicts on us. Thus, I suppose, it must be in love. If the love
we feel is to have the glamour of poetry, it must be love for some
one morally at a distance from our ordinary habitual selves; in short,
differing from us in attributes which, however near we draw to the
possessor, we can never approach, never blend, in attributes of our
own; so that there is something in the loved one that always remains an
ideal,--a mystery,--‘a sun-bright summit mingling with the sky’!”

Herewith the soliloquist’s musings glided vaguely into mere revery. He
closed his eyes drowsily, not asleep, nor yet quite awake; as sometimes
in bright summer days when we recline on the grass we do close our eyes,
and yet dimly recognize a golden light bathing the drowsy lids; and
athwart that light images come and go like dreams, though we know that
we are not dreaming.



CHAPTER V.

FROM this state, half comatose, half unconscious, Kenelm was roused
slowly, reluctantly. Something struck softly on his cheek,--again a
little less softly; he opened his eyes, they fell first upon two tiny
rosebuds, which, on striking his face, had fallen on his breast; and
then looking up, he saw before him, in an opening of the trellised
circle, a female child’s laughing face. Her hand was still uplifted
charged with another rosebud, but behind the child’s figure, looking
over her shoulder and holding back the menacing arm, was a face as
innocent but lovelier far,--the face of a girl in her first youth,
framed round with the blossoms that festooned the trellise. How the face
became the flowers! It seemed the fairy spirit of them.

Kenelm started and rose to his feet. The child, the one whom he had so
ungallantly escaped from ran towards him through a wicket in the circle.
Her companion disappeared.

“Is it you?” said Kenelm to the child, “you who pelted me so cruelly?
Ungrateful creature! Did I not give you the best strawberries in the
dish and all my own cream?”

“But why did you run away and hide yourself when you ought to be dancing
with me?” replied the young lady, evading, with the instinct of her sex,
all answer to the reproach she had deserved.

“I did not run away, and it is clear that I did not mean to hide myself,
since you so easily found me out. But who was the young lady with you?
I suspect she pelted me too, for she seems to have run away to hide
herself.”

“No, she did not pelt you; she wanted to stop me, and you would have had
another rosebud--oh, so much bigger!--if she had not held back my arm.
Don’t you know her,--don’t you know Lily?”

“No; so that is Lily? You shall introduce me to her.”

By this time they had passed out of the circle through the little wicket
opposite the path by which Kenelm had entered, and opening at once on
the lawn. Here at some distance the children were grouped, some reclined
on the grass, some walking to and fro, in the interval of the dance.

In the space between the group and the trellise Lily was walking alone
and quickly. The child left Kenelm’s side and ran after her friend, soon
overtook, but did not succeed in arresting her steps. Lily did not pause
till she had reached the grassy ball-room, and here all the children
came round her and shut out her delicate form from Kenelm’s sight.

Before he had reached the place, Mrs. Braefield met him.

“Lily is come!”

“I know it: I have seen her.”

“Is not she beautiful?”

“I must see more of her if I am to answer critically; but before you
introduce me, may I be permitted to ask who and what is Lily?”

Mrs. Braefield paused a moment before she answered, and yet the
answer was brief enough not to need much consideration. “She is a Miss
Mordaunt, an orphan; and, as I before told you, resides with her aunt,
Mrs. Cameron, a widow. They have the prettiest cottage you ever saw on
the banks of the river, or rather rivulet, about a mile from this place.
Mrs. Cameron is a very good, simple-hearted woman. As to Lily, I can
praise her beauty only with safe conscience, for as yet she is a mere
child,--her mind quite unformed.”

“Did you ever meet any man, much less any woman, whose mind was formed?”
 muttered Kenelm. “I am sure mine is not, and never will be on this
earth.”

Mrs. Braefield did not hear this low-voiced observation. She was
looking about for Lily; and perceiving her at last as the children who
surrounded her were dispersing to renew the dance, she took Kenelm’s
arm, led him to the young lady, and a formal introduction took place.

Formal as it could be on those sunlit swards, amidst the joy of summer
and the laugh of children. In such scene and such circumstance formality
does not last long. I know not how it was, but in a very few minutes
Kenelm and Lily had ceased to be strangers to each other. They found
themselves seated apart from the rest of the merry-makers, on the bank
shadowed by lime-trees; the man listening with downcast eyes, the girl
with mobile shifting glances now on earth, now on heaven, and talking
freely; gayly,--like the babble of a happy stream, with a silvery dulcet
voice and a sparkle of rippling smiles.

No doubt this is a reversal of the formalities of well-bred life, and
conventional narrating thereof. According to them, no doubt, it is for
the man to talk and the maid to listen; but I state the facts as they
were, honestly. And Lily knew no more of the formalities of drawing-room
life than a skylark fresh from its nest knows of the song-teacher and
the cage. She was still so much of a child. Mrs. Braefield was right:
her mind was still so unformed.

What she did talk about in that first talk between them that could make
the meditative Kenelm listen so mutely, so intently, I know not, at
least I could not jot it down on paper. I fear it was very egotistical,
as the talk of children generally is,--about herself and her aunt, and
her home and her friends; all her friends seemed children like herself,
though younger,--Clemmy the chief of them. Clemmy was the one who had
taken a fancy to Kenelm. And amidst all this ingenuous prattle there
came flashes of a quick intellect, a lively fancy,--nay, even a poetry
of expression or of sentiment. It might be the talk of a child, but
certainly not of a silly child. But as soon as the dance was over,
the little ones again gathered round Lily. Evidently she was the prime
favourite of them all; and as her companion had now become tired
of dancing, new sports were proposed, and Lily was carried off to
“Prisoner’s Base.”

“I am very happy to make your acquaintance, Mr. Chillingly,” said a
frank, pleasant voice; and a well-dressed, good-looking man held out his
hand to Kenelm.

“My husband,” said Mrs. Braefield, with a certain pride in her look.

Kenelm responded cordially to the civilities of the master of the house,
who had just returned from his city office, and left all its cares
behind him. You had only to look at him to see that he was prosperous,
and deserved to be so. There were in his countenance the signs of strong
sense, of good-humour,--above all, of an active energetic temperament. A
man of broad smooth forehead, keen hazel eyes, firm lips and jaw; with a
happy contentment in himself, his house, the world in general, mantling
over his genial smile, and outspoken in the metallic ring of his voice.

“You will stay and dine with us, of course,” said Mr. Braefield; “and,
unless you want very much to be in town to-night, I hope you will take a
bed here.”

Kenelm hesitated.

“Do stay at least till to-morrow,” said Mrs. Braefield. Kenelm hesitated
still; and while hesitating his eye rested on Lily, leaning on the arm
of a middle-aged lady, and approaching the hostess,--evidently to take
leave.

“I cannot resist so tempting an invitation,” said Kenelm, and he fell
back a little behind Lily and her companion.

“Thank you much for so pleasant a day,” said Mrs. Cameron to the
hostess. “Lily has enjoyed herself extremely. I only regret we could not
come earlier.”

“If you are walking home,” said Mr. Braefield, “let me accompany you. I
want to speak to your gardener about his heart’s-ease: it is much finer
than mine.”

“If so,” said Kenelm to Lily, “may I come too? Of all flowers that grow,
heart’s-ease is the one I most prize.”

A few minutes afterwards Kenelm was walking by the side of Lily along
the banks of a little stream, tributary to the Thames; Mrs. Cameron and
Mr. Braefield in advance, for the path only held two abreast.

Suddenly Lily left his side, allured by a rare butterfly--I think it is
called the Emperor of Morocco--that was sunning its yellow wings upon
a group of wild reeds. She succeeded in capturing this wanderer in her
straw hat, over which she drew her sun-veil. After this notable capture
she returned demurely to Kenelm’s side.

“Do you collect insects?” said that philosopher, as much surprised as it
was his nature to be at anything.

“Only butterflies,” answered Lily; “they are not insects, you know; they
are souls.”

“Emblems of souls you mean,--at least, so the Greeks prettily
represented them to be.”

“No, real souls,--the souls of infants that die in their cradles
unbaptized; and if they are taken care of, and not eaten by birds, and
live a year then they pass into fairies.”

“It is a very poetical idea, Miss Mordaunt, and founded on evidence
quite as rational as other assertions of the metamorphosis of one
creature into another. Perhaps you can do what the philosophers
cannot,--tell me how you learned a new idea to be an incontestable
fact?”

“I don’t know,” replied Lily, looking very much puzzled; “perhaps I
learned it in a book, or perhaps I dreamed it.”

“You could not make a wiser answer if you were a philosopher. But you
talk of taking care of butterflies; how do you do that? Do you impale
them on pins stuck into a glass case?”

“Impale them! How can you talk so cruelly? You deserve to be pinched by
the fairies.”

“I am afraid,” thought Kenelm, compassionately, “that my companion has
no mind to be formed; what is euphoniously called ‘an innocent.’”

He shook his head and remained silent. Lily resumed,--

“I will show you my collection when we get home; they seem so happy. I
am sure there are some of them who know me: they will feed from my hand.
I have only had one die since I began to collect them last summer.”

“Then you have kept them a year: they ought to have turned into
fairies.”

“I suppose many of them have. Of course I let out all those that had
been with me twelve months: they don’t turn to fairies in the cage,
you know. Now I have only those I caught this year, or last autumn; the
prettiest don’t appear till the autumn.”

The girl here bent her uncovered head over the straw hat, her tresses
shadowing it, and uttered loving words to the prisoner. Then again she
looked up and around her, and abruptly stopped, and exclaimed,--

“How can people live in towns? How can people say they are ever dull in
the country? Look,” she continued, gravely and earnestly, “look at that
tall pine-tree, with its long branch sweeping over the water; see how,
as the breeze catches it, it changes its shadow, and how the shadow
changes the play of the sunlight on the brook:--


 “‘Wave your tops, ye pines;
  With every plant, in sign of worship wave.’


“What an interchange of music there must be between Nature and a poet!”

Kenelm was startled. This “an innocent”!--this a girl who had no mind to
be formed! In that presence he could not be cynical; could not speak of
Nature as a mechanism, a lying humbug, as he had done to the man poet.
He replied gravely,--

“The Creator has gifted the whole universe with language, but few are
the hearts that can interpret it. Happy those to whom it is no foreign
tongue, acquired imperfectly with care and pain, but rather a native
language, learned unconsciously from the lips of the great mother. To
them the butterfly’s wing may well buoy into heaven a fairy’s soul!”

When he had thus said Lily turned, and for the first time attentively
looked into his dark soft eyes; then instinctively she laid her light
hand on his arm, and said in a low voice, “Talk on; talk thus: I like to
hear you.”

But Kenelm did not talk on. They had now arrived at the garden-gate of
Mrs. Cameron’s cottage, and the elder persons in advance paused at the
gate and walked with them to the house.

It was a long, low, irregular cottage, without pretension to
architectural beauty, yet exceedingly picturesque,--a flower-garden,
large, but in proportion to the house, with parterres in which the
colours were exquisitely assorted, sloping to the grassy margin of the
rivulet, where the stream expanded into a lake-like basin, narrowed
at either end by locks, from which with gentle sound flowed shallow
waterfalls. By the banks was a rustic seat, half overshadowed by the
drooping boughs of a vast willow.

The inside of the house was in harmony with the exterior,--cottage-like,
but with an unmistakable air of refinement about the rooms, even in the
little entrance-hall, which was painted in Pompeian frescos.

“Come and see my butterfly-cage,” said Lily, whisperingly.

Kenelm followed her through the window that opened on the garden; and
at one end of a small conservatory, or rather greenhouse, was the
habitation of these singular favourites. It was as large as a small
room; three sides of it formed by minute wirework, with occasional
draperies of muslin or other slight material, and covered at intervals,
sometimes within, sometimes without, by dainty creepers; a tiny cistern
in the centre, from which upsprang a sparkling jet. Lily cautiously
lifted a sash-door and glided in, closing it behind her. Her entrance
set in movement a multitude of gossamer wings, some fluttering round
her, some more boldly settling on her hair or dress. Kenelm thought
she had not vainly boasted when she said that some of the creatures had
learned to know her. She released the Emperor of Morocco from her hat;
it circled round her fearlessly, and then vanished amidst the leaves of
the creepers. Lily opened the door and came out.

“I have heard of a philosopher who tamed a wasp,” said Kenelm, “but
never before of a young lady who tamed butterflies.”

“No,” said Lily, proudly; “I believe I am the first who attempted it.
I don’t think I should have attempted it if I had been told that others
had succeeded before me. Not that I have succeeded quite. No matter; if
they don’t love me, I love them.”

They re-entered the drawing-room, and Mrs. Cameron addressed Kenelm.

“Do you know much of this part of the country, Mr. Chillingly?”

“It is quite new to me, and more rural than many districts farther from
London.”

“That is the good fortune of most of our home counties,” said Mr.
Braefield; “they escape the smoke and din of manufacturing towns, and
agricultural science has not demolished their leafy hedgerows. The
walks through our green lanes are as much bordered with convolvulus and
honeysuckle as they were when Izaak Walton sauntered through them to
angle in that stream!”

“Does tradition say that he angled in that stream? I thought his haunts
were rather on the other side of London.”

“Possibly; I am not learned in Walton or in his art, but there is an old
summer-house, on the other side of the lock yonder, on which is carved
the name of Izaak Walton, but whether by his own hand or another’s who
shall say? Has Mr. Melville been here lately, Mrs. Cameron?”

“No, not for several months.”

“He has had a glorious success this year. We may hope that at last his
genius is acknowledged by the world. I meant to buy his picture, but I
was not in time: a Manchester man was before me.”

“Who is Mr. Melville? any relation to you?” whispered Kenelm to Lily.

“Relation,--I scarcely know. Yes, I suppose so, because he is my
guardian. But if he were the nearest relation on earth, I could not love
him more,” said Lily, with impulsive eagerness, her cheeks flushing, her
eyes filling with tears.

“And he is an artist,--a painter?” asked Kenelm.

“Oh, yes; no one paints such beautiful pictures,--no one so clever, no
one so kind.”

Kenelm strove to recollect if he had ever heard the name of Melville as
a painter, but in vain. Kenelm, however, knew but little of painters:
they were not in his way; and he owned to himself, very humbly, that
there might be many a living painter of eminent renown whose name and
works would be strange to him.

He glanced round the wall; Lily interpreted his look. “There are no
pictures of his here,” said she; “there is one in my own room. I will
show it you when you come again.”

“And now,” said Mr. Braefield, rising, “I must just have a word with
your gardener, and then go home. We dine earlier here than in London,
Mr. Chillingly.”

As the two gentlemen, after taking leave, re-entered the hall, Lily
followed them and said to Kenelm, “What time will you come to-morrow to
see the picture?”

Kenelm averted his head, and then replied, not with his wonted courtesy,
but briefly and brusquely,--

“I fear I cannot call to-morrow. I shall be far away by sunrise.”

Lily made no answer, but turned back into the room.

Mr. Braefield found the gardener watering a flower-border, conferred
with him about the heart’s-ease, and then joined Kenelm, who had halted
a few yards beyond the garden-gate.

“A pretty little place that,” said Mr. Braefield, with a sort of lordly
compassion, as became the owner of Braefieldville. “What I call quaint.”

“Yes, quaint,” echoed Kenelm, abstractedly.

“It is always the case with houses enlarged by degrees. I have heard my
poor mother say that when Melville or Mrs. Cameron first bought it, it
was little better than a mere labourer’s cottage, with a field attached
to it. And two or three years afterwards a room or so more was built,
and a bit of the field taken in for a garden; and then by degrees the
whole part now inhabited by the family was built, leaving only the old
cottage as a scullery and washhouse; and the whole field was turned
into the garden, as you see. But whether it was Melville’s money or the
aunt’s that did it, I don’t know. More likely the aunt’s. I don’t see
what interest Melville has in the place: he does not go there often, I
fancy; it is not his home.”

“Mr. Melville, it seems, is a painter, and, from what I heard you say, a
successful one.”

“I fancy he had little success before this year. But surely you saw his
pictures at the Exhibition?”

“I am ashamed to say I have not been to the Exhibition.”

“You surprise me. However, Melville had three pictures there,--all very
good; but the one I wished to buy made much more sensation than the
others, and has suddenly lifted him from obscurity into fame.”

“He appears to be a relation of Miss Mordaunt’s, but so distant a
one that she could not even tell me what grade of cousinship he could
claim.”

“Nor can I. He is her guardian, I know. The relationship, if any, must,
as you say, be very distant; for Melville is of humble extraction, while
any one can see that Mrs. Cameron is a thorough gentlewoman, and Lily
Mordaunt is her sister’s child. I have heard my mother say that it was
Melville, then a very young man, who bought the cottage, perhaps with
Mrs. Cameron’s money; saying it was for a widowed lady, whose husband
had left her with very small means. And when Mrs. Cameron arrived with
Lily, then a mere infant, she was in deep mourning, and a very young
woman herself,--pretty too. If Melville had been a frequent visitor
then, of course there would have been scandal; but he very seldom came,
and when he did, he lodged in a cottage, Cromwell Lodge, on the other
side of the brook; now and then bringing with him a fellow-lodger,--some
other young artist, I suppose, for the sake of angling. So there could
be no cause for scandal, and nothing can be more blameless than poor
Mrs. Cameron’s life. My mother, who then resided at Braefieldville, took
a great fancy to both Lily and her aunt, and when by degrees the cottage
grew into a genteel sort of place, the few gentry in the neighbourhood
followed my mother’s example and were very kind to Mrs. Cameron, so that
she has now her place in the society about here, and is much liked.”

“And Mr. Melville?--does he still very seldom come here?”

“To say truth, he has not been at all since I settled at Braefieldville.
The place was left to my mother for her life, and I was not much there
during her occupation. In fact, I was then a junior partner in our firm,
and conducted the branch business in New York, coming over to England
for my holiday once a year or so. When my mother died, there was much to
arrange before I could settle personally in England, and I did not come
to settle at Braefieldville till I married. I did see Melville on one of
my visits to the place some years ago; but, between ourselves, he is not
the sort of person whose intimate acquaintance one would wish to court.
My mother told me he was an idle, dissipated man, and I have heard from
others that he was very unsteady. Mr. -----, the great painter, told
me that he was a loose fish; and I suppose his habits were against his
getting on, till this year, when, perhaps, by a lucky accident, he has
painted a picture that raises him to the top of the tree. But is not
Miss Lily wondrously nice to look at? What a pity her education has been
so much neglected!”

“Has it?”

“Have not you discovered that already? She has not had even a
music-master, though my wife says she has a good ear, and can sing
prettily enough. As for reading I don’t think she has read anything but
fairy tales and poetry, and such silly stuff. However, she is very young
yet; and now that her guardian can sell his pictures, it is to be hoped
that he will do more justice to his ward. Painters and actors are not so
regular in their private lives as we plain men are, and great allowance
is to be made for them; still, every one is bound to do his duty. I am
sure you agree with me?”

“Certainly,” said Kenelm, with an emphasis which startled the merchant.
“That is an admirable maxim of yours: it seems a commonplace, yet how
often, when it is put into our heads, it strikes as a novelty! A duty
may be a very difficult thing, a very disagreeable thing, and, what
is strange, it is often a very invisible thing. It is present,--close
before us, and yet we don’t see it; somebody shouts its name in our
ears, ‘Duty,’ and straight it towers before us a grim giant. Pardon me
if I leave you: I can’t stay to dine. Duty summons me elsewhere. Make my
excuses to Mrs. Braefield.”

Before Mr. Braefield could recover his self-possession, Kenelm had
vaulted over a stile and was gone.



CHAPTER VI.

KENELM walked into the shop kept by the Somerses, and found Jessie
still at the counter. “Give me back my knap sack. Thank you,” he said,
flinging the knapsack across his shoulders. “Now, do me a favour. A
portmanteau of mine ought to be at the station. Send for it, and keep it
till I give further directions. I think of going to Oxford for a day
or two. Mrs. Somers, one more word with you. Think, answer frankly, are
you, as you said this morning, thoroughly happy, and yet married to the
man you loved?”

“Oh, so happy!”

“And wish for nothing beyond? Do not wish Will to be other than he is?”

“God forbid! You frighten me, sir.”

“Frighten you! Be it so. Everyone who is happy should be frightened
lest happiness fly away. Do your best to chain it, and you will, for you
attach Duty to Happiness; and,” muttered Kenelm, as he turned from the
shop, “Duty is sometimes not a rose-coloured tie, but a heavy iron-hued
clog.”

He strode on through the street towards the sign-post with “To Oxford”
 inscribed thereon. And whether he spoke literally of the knapsack, or
metaphorically of duty, he murmured, as he strode,--


 “A pedlar’s pack that bows the bearer down.”



CHAPTER VII.



KENELM might have reached Oxford that night, for he was a rapid and
untirable pedestrian; but he halted a little after the moon rose, and
laid himself down to rest beneath a new-mown haystack, not very far from
the high road.

He did not sleep. Meditatingly propped on his elbow, he said to
himself,--

“It is long since I have wondered at nothing. I wonder now: can this be
love,--really love,--unmistakably love? Pooh! it is impossible; the
very last person in the world to be in love with. Let us reason upon
it,--you, myself, and I. To begin with,--face! What is face? In a few
years the most beautiful face may be very plain. Take the Venus at
Florence. Animate her; see her ten years after; a chignon, front teeth
(blue or artificially white), mottled complexion, double chin,--all that
sort of plump prettiness goes into double chin. Face, bah! What man of
sense--what pupil of Welby, the realist--can fall in love with a face?
and even if I were simpleton enough to do so, pretty faces are as common
as daisies. Cecilia Travers has more regular features; Jessie Wiles a
richer colouring. I was not in love with them,--not a bit of it. Myself,
you have nothing to say there. Well, then, mind? Talk of mind, indeed!
a creature whose favourite companionship is that of butterflies, and who
tells me that butterflies are the souls of infants unbaptized. What an
article for ‘The Londoner,’ on the culture of young women! What a girl
for Miss Garrett and Miss Emily Faithfull! Put aside Mind as we have
done Face. What rests?--the Frenchman’s ideal of happy marriage?
congenial circumstance of birth, fortune, tastes, habits. Worse still.
Myself, answer honestly, are you not floored?”

Whereon “Myself” took up the parable and answered, “O thou fool! why
wert thou so ineffably blessed in one presence? Why, in quitting that
presence, did Duty become so grim? Why dost thou address to me those
inept pedantic questionings, under the light of yon moon, which has
suddenly ceased to be to thy thoughts an astronomical body and has
become, forever and forever, identified in thy heart’s dreams with
romance and poesy and first love? Why, instead of gazing on that
uncomfortable orb, art thou not quickening thy steps towards a cozy inn
and a good supper at Oxford? Kenelm, my friend, thou art in for it. No
disguising the fact: thou art in love!”

“I’ll be hanged if I am,” said the Second in the Dualism of Kenelm’s
mind; and therewith he shifted his knapsack into a pillow, turned his
eyes from the moon, and still could not sleep. The face of Lily still
haunted his eyes; the voice of Lily still rang in his ears.

Oh, my reader! dost thou here ask me to tell thee what Lily was
like?--was she dark? was she fair? was she tall? was she short? Never
shalt thou learn these secrets from me. Imagine to thyself the being to
which thine whole of life, body and mind and soul, moved irresistibly as
the needle to the pole. Let her be tall or short, dark or fair, she is
that which out of all womankind has suddenly become the one woman for
thee. Fortunate art thou, my reader, if thou chance to have heard the
popular song of “My Queen” sung by the one lady who alone can sing it
with expression worthy the verse of the poetess and the music of the
composition, by the sister of the exquisite songstress. But if thou hast
not heard the verse thus sung, to an accompaniment thus composed, still
the words themselves are, or ought to be, familiar to thee, if thou art,
as I take for granted, a lover of the true lyrical muse. Recall then
the words supposed to be uttered by him who knows himself destined to do
homage to one he has not yet beheld:--


   “She is standing somewhere,--she I shall honour,
    She that I wait for, my queen, my queen;
   Whether her hair be golden or raven,
    Whether her eyes be hazel or blue,
   I know not now, it will be engraven
    Some day hence as my loveliest hue.
   She may be humble or proud, my lady,
    Or that sweet calm which is just between;
   But whenever she comes, she will find me ready
    To do her homage, my queen, my queen.”


Was it possible that the cruel boy-god “who sharpens his arrows on the
whetstone of the human heart” had found the moment to avenge himself
for the neglect of his altars and the scorn of his power? Must that
redoubted knight-errant, the hero of this tale, despite the Three Fishes
on his charmed shield, at last veil the crest and bow the knee, and
murmur to himself, “She has come, my queen”?



CHAPTER VIII.

THE next morning Kenelm arrived at Oxford,--“Verum secretumque
Mouseion.”

If there be a place in this busy island which may distract the
passion of youth from love to scholarship, to Ritualism, to mediaeval
associations, to that sort of poetical sentiment or poetical fanaticism
which a Mivers and a Welby and an advocate of the Realistic School would
hold in contempt,--certainly that place is Oxford,--home; nevertheless,
of great thinkers and great actors in the practical world.

The vacation had not yet commenced, but the commencement was near at
hand. Kenelm thought he could recognize the leading men by their slower
walk and more abstracted expression of countenance. Among the Fellows
was the eminent author of that book which had so powerfully fascinated
the earlier adolescence of Kenelm Chillingly, and who had himself been
subject to the fascination of a yet stronger spirit. The Rev. Decimus
Roach had been ever an intense and reverent admirer of John Henry
Newman,--an admirer, I mean, of the pure and lofty character of the
man, quite apart from sympathy with his doctrines. But although Roach
remained an unconverted Protestant of orthodox, if High Church, creed,
yet there was one tenet he did hold in common with the author of the
“Apologia.” He ranked celibacy among the virtues most dear to Heaven.
In that eloquent treatise, “The Approach to the Angels,” he not only
maintained that the state of single blessedness was strictly incumbent
on every member of a Christian priesthood, but to be commended to the
adoption of every conscientious layman.

It was the desire to confer with this eminent theologian that had
induced Kenelm to direct his steps to Oxford.

Mr. Roach was a friend of Welby, at whose house, when a pupil,
Kenelm had once or twice met him, and been even more charmed by his
conversation than by his treatise.

Kenelm called on Mr. Roach, who received him very graciously, and, not
being a tutor or examiner, placed his time at Kenelm’s disposal; took
him the round of the colleges and the Bodleian; invited him to dine in
his college-hall; and after dinner led him into his own rooms, and gave
him an excellent bottle of Chateau Margeaux.

Mr. Roach was somewhere about fifty,--a good-looking man and evidently
thought himself so; for he wore his hair long behind and parted in the
middle, which is not done by men who form modest estimates of their
personal appearance.

Kenelm was not long in drawing out his host on the subject to which that
profound thinker had devoted so much meditation.

“I can scarcely convey to you,” said Kenelm, “the intense admiration
with which I have studied your noble work, ‘Approach to the Angels.’ It
produced a great effect on me in the age between boyhood and youth. But
of late some doubts on the universal application of your doctrine have
crept into my mind.”

“Ay, indeed?” said Mr. Roach, with an expression of interest in his
face.

“And I come to you for their solution.”

Mr. Roach turned away his head, and pushed the bottle to Kenelm.

“I am quite willing to concede,” resumed the heir of the Chillinglys,
“that a priesthood should stand apart from the distracting cares of a
family, and pure from all carnal affections.”

“Hem, hem,” grunted Mr. Roach, taking his knee on his lap and caressing
it.

“I go further,” continued Kenelm, “and supposing with you that the
Confessional has all the importance, whether in its monitory or its
cheering effects upon repentant sinners, which is attached to it by
the Roman Catholics, and that it ought to be no less cultivated by the
Reformed Church, it seems to me essential that the Confessor should have
no better half to whom it can be even suspected he may, in an unguarded
moment, hint at the frailties of one of her female acquaintances.”

“I pushed that argument too far,” murmured Roach.

“Not a bit of it. Celibacy in the Confessor stands or falls with the
Confessional. Your argument there is as sound as a bell. But when it
comes to the layman, I think I detect a difference.”

Mr. Roach shook his head, and replied stoutly, “No; if celibacy be
incumbent on the one, it is equally incumbent on the other. I say ‘if.’”

“Permit me to deny that assertion. Do not fear that I shall insult your
understanding by the popular platitude; namely, that if celibacy were
universal, in a very few years the human race would be extinct. As you
have justly observed, in answer to that fallacy, ‘It is the duty of each
human soul to strive towards the highest perfection of the spiritual
state for itself, and leave the fate of the human race to the care of
the Creator.’ If celibacy be necessary to spiritual perfection, how do
we know but that it may be the purpose and decree of the All Wise that
the human race, having attained to that perfection, should disappear
from earth? Universal celibacy would thus be the euthanasia of mankind.
On the other hand, if the Creator decided that the human race, having
culminated to this crowning but barren flower of perfection, should
nevertheless continue to increase and multiply upon earth, have you not
victoriously exclaimed, ‘Presumptuous mortal! how canst thou presume
to limit the resources of the Almighty? Would it not be easy for Him to
continue some other mode, unexposed to trouble and sin and passion, as
in the nuptials of the vegetable world, by which the generations will
be renewed? Can we suppose that the angels--the immortal companies
of heaven--are not hourly increasing in number, and extending their
population throughout infinity? and yet in heaven there is no marrying
nor giving in marriage.’ All this, clothed by you in words which my
memory only serves me to quote imperfectly,--all this I unhesitatingly
concede.”

Mr. Roach rose and brought another bottle of the Chateau Margeaux from
his cellaret, filled Kenelm’s glass, reseated himself, and took the
other knee into his lap to caress.

“But,” resumed Kenelm, “my doubt is this.”

“Ah!” cried Mr. Roach, “let us hear the doubt.”

“In the first place, is celibacy essential to the highest state of
spiritual perfection; and, in the second place, if it were, are mortals,
as at present constituted, capable of that culmination?”

“Very well put,” said Mr. Roach, and he tossed off his glass with more
cheerful aspect than he had hitherto exhibited.

“You see,” said Kenelm, “we are compelled in this, as in other questions
of philosophy, to resort to the inductive process, and draw our theories
from the facts within our cognizance. Now looking round the world, is it
the fact that old maids and old bachelors are so much more spiritually
advanced than married folks? Do they pass their time, like an Indian
dervish, in serene contemplation of divine excellence and beatitude?
Are they not quite as worldly in their own way as persons who have been
married as often as the Wife of Bath, and, generally speaking, more
selfish, more frivolous, and more spiteful? I am sure I don’t wish to
speak uncharitably against old maids and old bachelors. I have three
aunts who are old maids, and fine specimens of the genus; but I am sure
they would all three have been more agreeable companions, and quite as
spiritually gifted, if they had been happily married, and were caressing
their children, instead of lapdogs. So, too, I have an old bachelor
cousin, Chillingly Mivers, whom you know. As clever as a man can be.
But, Lord bless you! as to being wrapped in spiritual meditation, he
could not be more devoted to the things of earth if he had married as
many wives as Solomon, and had as many children as Priam. Finally, have
not half the mistakes in the world arisen from a separation between the
spiritual and the moral nature of man? Is it not, after all, through his
dealings with his fellow-men that man makes his safest ‘approach to the
angels’? And is not the moral system a very muscular system? Does it not
require for healthful vigour plenty of continued exercise, and does it
not get that exercise naturally by the relationships of family, with
all the wider collateral struggles with life which the care of family
necessitates?

“I put these questions to you with the humblest diffidence. I expect to
hear such answers as will thoroughly convince my reason, and I shall be
delighted if so. For at the root of the controversy lies the passion of
love. And love must be a very disquieting, troublesome emotion, and has
led many heroes and sages into wonderful weaknesses and follies.”

“Gently, gently, Mr. Chillingly; don’t exaggerate. Love, no doubt,
is--ahem--a disquieting passion. Still, every emotion that changes life
from a stagnant pool into the freshness and play of a running stream is
disquieting to the pool. Not only love and its fellow-passions, such as
ambition, but the exercise of the reasoning faculty, which is always at
work in changing our ideas, is very disquieting. Love, Mr. Chillingly,
has its good side as well as its bad. Pass the bottle.”

KENELM (passing the bottle).--“Yes, yes; you are quite right in
putting the adversary’s case strongly, before you demolish it: all good
rhetoricians do that. Pardon me if I am up to that trick in argument.
Assume that I know all that can be said in favour of the abnegation of
common-sense, euphoniously called ‘love,’ and proceed to the demolition
of the case.”

THE REV. DECIMUS ROACH (hesitatingly).--“The demolition of the case?
humph! The passions are ingrafted in the human system as part and parcel
of it, and are not to be demolished so easily as you seem to think.
Love, taken rationally and morally by a man of good education and sound
principles, is--is--”

KENELM.--“Well, is what?”

THE REV. DECIMUS ROACH.--“A--a--a--thing not to be despised. Like the
sun, it is the great colourist of life, Mr. Chillingly. And you are so
right: the moral system does require daily exercise. What can give that
exercise to a solitary man, when he arrives at the practical age in
which he cannot sit for six hours at a stretch musing on the divine
essence; and rheumatism or other ailments forbid his adventure into
the wilds of Africa as a missionary? At that age, Nature, which will
be heard, Mr. Chillingly, demands her rights. A sympathizing female
companion by one’s side; innocent little children climbing one’s
knee,--lovely, bewitching picture! Who can be Goth enough to rub it out,
who fanatic enough to paint over it the image of a Saint Simeon sitting
alone on a pillar? Take another glass. You don’t drink enough, Mr.
Chillingly.”

“I have drunk enough,” replied Kenelm, in a sullen voice, “to think I
see double. I imagined that before me sat the austere adversary of the
insanity of love and the miseries of wedlock. Now, I fancy I listen to
a puling sentimentalist uttering the platitudes which the other Decimus
Roach had already refuted. Certainly either I see double, or you amuse
yourself with mocking my appeal to your wisdom.”

“Not so, Mr. Chillingly. But the fact is, that when I wrote that book
of which you speak I was young, and youth is enthusiastic and one-sided.
Now, with the same disdain of the excesses to which love may hurry weak
intellects, I recognize its benignant effects when taken, as I before
said, rationally,--taken rationally, my young friend. At that period
of life when the judgment is matured, the soothing companionship of
an amiable female cannot but cheer the mind, and prevent that morose
hoar-frost into which solitude is chilled and made rigid by increasing
years. In short, Mr. Chillingly, having convinced myself that I erred
in the opinion once too rashly put forth, I owe it to Truth, I owe it to
Mankind, to make my conversion known to the world. And I am about next
month to enter into the matrimonial state with a young lady who--”

“Say no more, say no more, Mr. Roach. It must be a painful subject to
you. Let us drop it.”

“It is not a painful subject at all!” exclaimed Mr. Roach, with warmth.
“I look forward to the fulfilment of my duty with the pleasure which
a well-trained mind always ought to feel in recanting a fallacious
doctrine. But you do me the justice to understand that of course I do
not take this step I propose--for my personal satisfaction. No, sir,
it is the value of my example to others which purifies my motives and
animates my soul.”

After this concluding and noble sentence, the conversation drooped. Host
and guest both felt they had had enough of each other. Kenelm soon rose
to depart.

Mr. Roach, on taking leave of, him at the door, said, with marked
emphasis,--

“Not for my personal satisfaction,--remember that. Whenever you hear my
conversion discussed in the world, say that from my own lips you heard
these words,--NOT FOR MY PERSONAL SATISFACTION. No! my kind regards to
Welby,--a married man himself, and a father: he will understand me.”



CHAPTER IX.

ON quitting Oxford, Kenelm wandered for several days about the country,
advancing to no definite goal, meeting with no noticeable adventure.
At last he found himself mechanically retracing his steps. A magnetic
influence he could not resist drew him back towards the grassy meads and
the sparkling rill of Moleswich.

“There must be,” said he to himself, “a mental, like an optical,
illusion. In the last, we fancy we have seen a spectre. If we dare not
face the apparition,--dare not attempt to touch it,--run superstitiously
away from it,--what happens? We shall believe to our dying day that it
was not an illusion, that it was a spectre; and so we may be crazed for
life. But if we manfully walk up to the phantom, stretch our hands
to seize it, oh! it fades into thin air, the cheat of our eyesight is
dispelled, and we shall never be ghost-ridden again. So it must be with
this mental illusion of mine. I see an image strange to my experience:
it seems to me, at first sight, clothed with a supernatural charm; like
an unreasoning coward, I run away from it. It continues to haunt me; I
cannot shut out its apparition. It pursues me by day alike in the haunts
of men,--alike in the solitudes of nature; it visits me by night in my
dreams. I begin to say this must be a real visitant from another world:
it must be love; the love of which I read in the Poets, as in the Poets
I read of witchcraft and ghosts. Surely I must approach that apparition
as a philosopher like Sir David Brewster would approach the black
cat seated on a hearth-rug, which he tells us that some lady of his
acquaintance constantly saw till she went into a world into which black
cats are not held to be admitted. The more I think of it the less
it appears to me possible that I can be really in love with a wild,
half-educated, anomalous creature, merely because the apparition of
her face haunts me. With perfect safety, therefore, I can approach the
creature; in proportion as I see more of her the illusion will vanish. I
will go back to Moleswich manfully.”

Thus said Kenelm to himself, and himself answered,--“Go; for thou canst
not help it. Thinkest thou that Daces can escape the net that has meshed
a Roach? No,--


   ‘Come it will, the day decreed by fate,’


when thou must succumb to the ‘Nature which will be heard.’ Better
succumb now, and with a good grace, than resist till thou hast reached
thy fiftieth year, and then make a rational choice not for thy personal
satisfaction.”

Whereupon Kenelm answered to himself, indignantly, “Pooh! thou flippant.
My _alter ego_, thou knowest not what thou art talking about! It is
not a question of Nature; it is a question of the supernatural,--an
illusion,--a phantom!” Thus Kenelm and himself continued to quarrel with
each other; and the more they quarrelled, the nearer they approached
to the haunted spot in which had been seen, and fled from, the fatal
apparition of first love.



BOOK VI.



CHAPTER I.

SIR PETER had not heard from Kenelm since a letter informing him that
his son had left town on an excursion, which would probably be short,
though it might last a few weeks; and the good Baronet now resolved to
go to London himself, take his chance of Kenelm’s return, and if
still absent, at least learn from Mivers and others how far that very
eccentric planet had contrived to steer a regular course amidst the
fixed stars of the metropolitan system. He had other reasons for his
journey. He wished to make the acquaintance of Chillingly Gordon
before handing him over the L20,000 which Kenelm had released in that
resettlement of estates, the necessary deeds of which the young heir had
signed before quitting London for Moleswich. Sir Peter wished still more
to see Cecilia Travers, in whom Kenelm’s accounts of her had inspired a
very strong interest.

The day after his arrival in town Sir Peter breakfasted with Mivers.

“Upon my word you are very comfortable here,” said Sir Peter, glancing
at the well-appointed table, and round the well-furnished rooms.

“Naturally so: there is no one to prevent my being comfortable. I am not
married; taste that omelette.”

“Some men declare they never knew comfort till they were married, Cousin
Miners.”

“Some men are reflecting bodies, and catch a pallid gleam from the
comfort which a wife concentres on herself. With a fortune so modest and
secure, what comforts, possessed by me now, would not a Mrs. Chillingly
Mivers ravish from my hold and appropriate to herself! Instead of these
pleasant rooms, where should I be lodged? In a dingy den looking on
a backyard excluded from the sun by day and vocal with cats by night;
while Mrs. Mivers luxuriated in two drawing-rooms with southern aspect
and perhaps a boudoir. My brougham would be torn from my uses and
monopolized by ‘the angel of my hearth,’ clouded in her crinoline and
halved by her chignon. No! if ever I marry--and I never deprive myself
of the civilities and needlework which single ladies waste upon me by
saying I shall not marry--it will be when women have fully established
their rights; for then men may have a chance of vindicating their own.
Then if there are two drawing-rooms in the house I shall take one;
if not, we will toss up who shall have the back parlour; if we keep a
brougham, it will be exclusively mine three days in the week; if Mrs. M.
wants L200 a year for her wardrobe she must be contented with one, the
other half will belong to my personal decoration; if I am oppressed by
proof-sheets and printers’ devils, half of the oppression falls to her
lot, while I take my holiday on the croquet ground at Wimbledon. Yes,
when the present wrongs of women are exchanged for equality with men, I
will cheerfully marry; and to do the thing generous, I will not oppose
Mrs. M.’s voting in the vestry or for Parliament. I will give her my own
votes with pleasure.”

“I fear, my dear cousin, that you have infected Kenelm with your selfish
ideas on the nuptial state. He does not seem inclined to marry,--eh?”

“Not that I know of.”

“What sort of girl is Cecilia Travers?”

“One of those superior girls who are not likely to tower into that
terrible giantess called a ‘superior woman.’ A handsome, well-educated,
sensible young lady, not spoiled by being an heiress; in fine, just the
sort of girl whom you could desire to fix on for a daughter-in-law.”

“And you don’t think Kenelm has a fancy for her?”

“Honestly speaking, I do not.”

“Any counter-attraction? There are some things in which sons do not
confide in their fathers. You have never heard that Kenelm has been a
little wild?”

“Wild he is, as the noble savage who ran in the woods,” said Cousin
Mivers.

“You frighten me!”

“Before the noble savage ran across the squaws, and was wise enough to
run away from them. Kenelm has run away now somewhere.”

“Yes, he does not tell me where, nor do they know at his lodgings.
A heap of notes on his table and no directions where they are to
be forwarded. On the whole, however, he has held his own in London
society,--eh?”

“Certainly! he has been more courted than most young men, and perhaps
more talked of. Oddities generally are.”

“You own he has talents above the average? Do you not think he will make
a figure in the world some day, and discharge that debt to the literary
stores or the political interests of his country, which alas, I and my
predecessors, the other Sir Peters, failed to do; and for which I hailed
his birth, and gave him the name of Kenelm?”

“Upon my word,” answered Mivers,--who had now finished his breakfast,
retreated to an easy-chair, and taken from the chimney-piece one of his
famous trabucos,--“upon my word, I can’t guess; if some great reverse
of fortune befell him, and he had to work for his livelihood, or if some
other direful calamity gave a shock to his nervous system and jolted it
into a fussy, fidgety direction, I dare say he might make a splash in
that current of life which bears men on to the grave. But you see he
wants, as he himself very truly says, the two stimulants to definite
action,--poverty and vanity.”

“Surely there have been great men who were neither poor nor vain?”

“I doubt it. But vanity is a ruling motive that takes many forms
and many aliases: call it ambition, call it love of fame, still its
substance is the same,--the desire of applause carried into fussiness of
action.”

“There may be the desire for abstract truth without care for applause.”

“Certainly. A philosopher on a desert island may amuse himself by
meditating on the distinction between light and heat. But if, on
returning to the world, he publish the result of his meditations, vanity
steps in and desires to be applauded.”

“Nonsense, Cousin Mivers, he may rather desire to be of use and benefit
to mankind. You don’t deny that there is such a thing as philanthropy.”

“I don’t deny that there is such a thing as humbug. And whenever I meet
a man who has the face to tell me that he is taking a great deal
of trouble, and putting himself very much out of his way, for a
philanthropical object, without the slightest idea of reward either in
praise or pence, I know that I have a humbug before me,--a dangerous
humbug, a swindling humbug, a fellow with his pocket full of villanous
prospectuses and appeals to subscribers.”

“Pooh, pooh; leave off that affectation of cynicism: you are not a
bad-hearted fellow; you must love mankind; you must have an interest in
the welfare of posterity.”

“Love mankind? Interest in posterity? Bless my soul, Cousin Peter, I
hope you have no prospectuses in _your_ pockets; no schemes for draining
the Pontine Marshes out of pure love to mankind; no propositions for
doubling the income-tax, as a reserve fund for posterity, should our
coal-fields fail three thousand years hence. Love of mankind! Rubbish!
This comes of living in the country.”

“But you do love the human race; you do care for the generations that
are to come.”

“I! Not a bit of it. On the contrary, I rather dislike the human race,
taking it altogether, and including the Australian bushmen; and I don’t
believe any man who tells me that he would grieve half as much if
ten millions of human beings were swallowed up by an earthquake at a
considerable distance from his own residence, say Abyssinia, as he would
for a rise in his butcher’s bills. As to posterity, who would consent
to have a month’s fit of the gout or tic-douloureux in order that in the
fourth thousand year, A. D., posterity should enjoy a perfect system of
sewage?”

Sir Peter, who had recently been afflicted by a very sharp attack
of neuralgia, shook his head, but was too conscientious not to keep
silence.

“To turn the subject,” said Mivers, relighting the cigar which he had
laid aside while delivering himself of his amiable opinions, “I think
you would do well, while in town, to call on your old friend Travers,
and be introduced to Cecilia. If you think as favourably of her as I do,
why not ask father and daughter to pay you a visit at Exmundham? Girls
think more about a man when they see the place which he can offer
to them as a home, and Exmundham is an attractive place to
girls,--picturesque and romantic.”

“A very good idea,” cried Sir Peter, heartily. “And I want also to make
the acquaintance of Chillingly Gordon. Give me his address.”

“Here is his card on the chimney-piece, take it; you will always find
him at home till two o’clock. He is too sensible to waste the forenoon
in riding out in Hyde Park with young ladies.”

“Give me your frank opinion of that young kinsman. Kenelm tells me that
he is clever and ambitious.”

“Kenelm speaks truly. He is not a man who will talk stuff about love of
mankind and posterity. He is of our day, with large, keen, wide-awake
eyes, that look only on such portions of mankind as can be of use to
him, and do not spoil their sight by poring through cracked telescopes
to catch a glimpse of posterity. Gordon is a man to be a Chancellor of
the Exchequer, perhaps a Prime Minister.”

“And old Gordon’s son is cleverer than my boy,--than the namesake of
Kenelm Digby!” and Sir Peter sighed.

“I did not say that. I am cleverer than Chillingly Gordon, and the
proof of it is that I am too clever to wish to be Prime Minister,--very
disagreeable office, hard work, irregular hours for meals, much abuse
and confirmed dyspepsia.”

Sir Peter went away rather down-hearted. He found Chillingly Gordon at
home in a lodging in Jermyn Street. Though prepossessed against him by
all he had heard, Sir Peter was soon propitiated in his favour. Gordon
had a frank man-of-the-world way with him, and much too fine a tact
to utter any sentiments likely to displease an old-fashioned country
gentleman, and a relation who might possibly be of service in his
career. He touched briefly, and with apparent feeling, on the unhappy
litigation commenced by his father; spoke with affectionate praise of
Kenelm; and with a discriminating good-nature of Mivers, as a man who,
to parody the epigram on Charles II.,


   “Never says a kindly thing
   And never does a harsh one.”


Then he drew Sir Peter on to talk of the country and agricultural
prospects. Learned that among his objects in visiting town was the wish
to inspect a patented hydraulic ram that might be very useful for his
farm-yard, which was ill supplied with water. Startled the Baronet by
evincing some practical knowledge of mechanics; insisted on accompanying
him to the city to inspect the ram; did so, and approved the purchase;
took him next to see a new American reaping-machine, and did not part
with him till he had obtained Sir Peter’s promise to dine with him at
the Garrick; an invitation peculiarly agreeable to Sir Peter, who had
a natural curiosity to see some of the more recently distinguished
frequenters of that social club. As, on quitting Gordon, Sir Peter took
his way to the house of Leopold Travers, his thoughts turned with much
kindliness towards his young kinsman. “Mivers and Kenelm,” quoth he to
himself, “gave me an unfavourable impression of this lad; they represent
him as worldly, self-seeking, and so forth. But Mivers takes such
cynical views of character, and Kenelm is too eccentric to judge fairly
of a sensible man of the world. At all events, it is not like an egotist
to put himself out of his way to be so civil to an old fellow like me. A
young man about town must have pleasanter modes of passing his day than
inspecting hydraulic rams and reaping-machines. Clever they allow him to
be. Yes, decidedly clever, and not offensively clever,--practical.”

Sir Peter found Travers in the dining-room with his daughter, Mrs.
Campion, and Lady Glenalvon. Travers was one of those men rare in middle
age, who are more often to be found in their drawing-room than in their
private study; he was fond of female society; and perhaps it was this
predilection which contributed to preserve in him the charm of good
breeding and winning manners. The two men had not met for many years;
not indeed since Travers was at the zenith of his career of fashion,
and Sir Peter was one of those pleasant _dilettanti_ and half humoristic
conversationalists who become popular and courted diners-out.

Sir Peter had originally been a moderate Whig because his father
had been one before him; but he left the Whig party with the Duke of
Richmond, Mr. Stanley (afterwards Lord Derby), and others, when it
seemed to him that that party had ceased to be moderate.

Leopold Travers had, as a youth in the Guards, been a high Tory, but,
siding with Sir Robert Peel on the repeal of the Corn Laws, remained
with the Peelites after the bulk of the Tory party had renounced the
guidance of their former chief, and now went with these Peelites in
whatever direction the progress of the age might impel their strides in
advance of Whigs and in defiance of Tories.

However, it is not the politics of these two gentlemen that are in
question now. As I have just said, they had not met for many years.
Travers was very little changed. Sir Peter recognized him at a glance;
Sir Peter was much changed, and Travers hesitated before, on hearing
his name announced, he felt quite sure that it was the right Sir Peter
towards whom he advanced, and to whom he extended his cordial hand.
Travers preserved the colour of his hair and the neat proportions of his
figure, and was as scrupulously well dressed as in his dandy days. Sir
Peter, originally very thin and with fair locks and dreamy blue eyes,
had now become rather portly,--at least towards the middle of him,--and
very gray; had long ago taken to spectacles; his dress, too, was very
old-fashioned, and made by a country tailor. He looked quite as much
a gentleman as Travers did; quite perhaps as healthy, allowing for
difference of years; quite as likely to last his time. But between them
there was the difference of the nervous temperament and the lymphatic.
Travers, with less brain than Sir Peter, had kept his brain constantly
active; Sir Peter had allowed his brain to dawdle over old books and
lazily delight in letting the hours slip by. Therefore Travers still
looked young, alert,--up to his day, up to anything; while Sir Peter,
entering that drawing-room, seemed a sort of Rip van Winkle who had
slept through the past generation, and looked on the present with eyes
yet drowsy. Still, in those rare moments when he was thoroughly roused
up, there would have been found in Sir Peter a glow of heart, nay,
even a vigour of thought, much more expressive than the constitutional
alertness that characterized Leopold Travers, of the attributes we most
love and admire in the young.

“My dear Sir Peter, is it you? I am so glad to see you again,” said
Travers. “What an age since we met, and how condescendingly kind you
were then to me; silly fop that I was! But bygones are bygones; come
to the present. Let me introduce to you, first, my valued friend, Mrs.
Campion, whose distinguished husband you remember. Ah, what pleasant
meetings we had at his house! And next, that young lady of whom she
takes motherly charge, my daughter Cecilia. Lady Glenalvon, your wife’s
friend, of course needs no introduction: time stands still with her.”

Sir Peter lowered his spectacles, which in reality he only wanted for
books in small print, and gazed attentively on the three ladies,--at
each gaze a bow. But while his eyes were still lingeringly fixed on
Cecilia, Lady Glenalvon advanced, naturally in right of rank and the
claim of old acquaintance, the first of the three to greet him.

“Alas, my dear Sir Peter! time does not stand still for any of us; but
what matter, if it leaves pleasant footprints? When I see you again, my
youth comes before me,--my early friend, Caroline Brotherton, now Lady
Chillingly; our girlish walks with each other; wreaths and ball-dresses
the practical topic; prospective husbands, the dream at a distance. Come
and sit here: tell me all about Caroline.”

Sir Peter, who had little to say about Caroline that could possibly
interest anybody but himself, nevertheless took his seat beside Lady
Glenalvon, and, as in duty bound, made the most flattering account
of his She Baronet which experience or invention would allow. All the
while, however, his thoughts were on Kenelm, and his eyes on Cecilia.

Cecilia resumes some mysterious piece of lady’s work, no matter
what,--perhaps embroidery for a music-stool, perhaps a pair of slippers
for her father (which, being rather vain of his feet and knowing they
looked best in plain morocco, he will certainly never wear). Cecilia
appears absorbed in her occupation; but her eyes and her thoughts are
on Sir Peter. Why, my lady reader may guess. And oh, so flatteringly,
so lovingly fixed! She thinks he has a most charming, intelligent,
benignant countenance. She admires even his old-fashioned frock-coat,
high neckcloth, and strapped trousers. She venerates his gray hairs,
pure of dye. She tries to find a close resemblance between that
fair, blue-eyed, plumpish, elderly gentleman and the lean, dark-eyed,
saturnine, lofty Kenelm; she detects the likeness which nobody else
would. She begins to love Sir Peter, though he has not said a word to
her.

Ah! on this, a word for what it is worth to you, my young readers. You,
sir, wishing to marry a girl who is to be deeply, lastingly in love with
you, and a thoroughly good wife practically, consider well how she takes
to your parents; how she attaches to them an inexpressible sentiment,
a disinterested reverence; even should you but dimly recognize the
sentiment, or feel the reverence, how if between you and your parents
some little cause of coldness arise, she will charm you back to honour
your father and your mother, even though they are not particularly
genial to her: well, if you win that sort of girl as your wife think you
have got a treasure. You have won a woman to whom Heaven has given the
two best attributes,--intense feeling of love, intense sense of duty.
What, my dear lady reader, I say of one sex, I say of another, though
in a less degree; because a girl who marries becomes of her husband’s
family, and the man does not become of his wife’s. Still I distrust the
depth of any man’s love to a woman, if he does not feel a great degree
of tenderness (and forbearance where differences arise) for her parents.
But the wife must not so put them in the foreground as to make the
husband think he is cast in the cold of the shadow. Pardon this
intolerable length of digression, dear reader: it is not altogether a
digression, for it belongs to my tale that you should clearly understand
the sort of girl that is personified in Cecilia Travers.

“What has become of Kenelm?” asked Lady Glenalvon.

“I wish I could tell you,” answered Sir Peter. “He wrote me word that he
was going forth on rambles into ‘fresh woods and pastures new,’ perhaps
for some weeks. I have not had a word from him since.”

“You make me uneasy,” said Lady Glenalvon. “I hope nothing can have
happened to him: he cannot have fallen ill.”

Cecilia stops her work, and looks up wistfully.

“Make your mind easy,” said Travers with a laugh; “I am in this secret.
He has challenged the champion of England, and gone into the country to
train.”

“Very likely,” said Sir Peter, quietly: “I should not be in the least
surprised; should you, Miss Travers?”

“I think it more probable that Mr. Chillingly is doing some kindness to
others which he wishes to keep concealed.”

Sir Peter was pleased with this reply, and drew his chair nearer to
Cecilia’s. Lady Glenalvon, charmed to bring those two together, soon
rose and took leave.

Sir Peter remained nearly an hour talking chiefly with Cecilia, who won
her way into his heart with extraordinary ease; and he did not quit the
house till he had engaged her father, Mrs. Campion, and herself to pay
him a week’s visit at Exmundham, towards the end of the London season,
which was fast approaching.

Having obtained this promise, Sir Peter went away, and ten minutes
after Mr. Chillingly Gordon entered the drawing-room. He had already
established a visiting acquaintance with the Traverses. Travers
had taken a liking to him. Mrs. Campion found him an extremely
well-informed, unaffected young man, very superior to young men in
general. Cecilia was cordially polite to Kenelm’s cousin. Altogether
that was a very happy day for Sir Peter. He enjoyed greatly his dinner
at the Garrick, where he met some old acquaintance and was presented to
some new “celebrities.” He observed that Gordon stood well with these
eminent persons. Though as yet undistinguished himself, they treated him
with a certain respect, as well as with evident liking. The most eminent
of them, at least the one with the most solidly established reputation,
said in Sir Peter’s ear, “You may be proud of your nephew Gordon!”

“He is not my nephew, only the son of a very distant cousin.”

“Sorry for that. But he will shed lustre on kinsfolk, however distant.
Clever fellow, yet popular; rare combination,--sure to rise.”

Sir Peter suppressed a gulp in the throat. “Ah, if some one as eminent
had spoken thus of Kenelm!”

But he was too generous to allow that half-envious sentiment to last
more than a moment. Why should he not be proud of any member of the
family who could irradiate the antique obscurity of the Chillingly race?
And how agreeable this clever young man made himself to Sir Peter!

The next day Gordon insisted on accompanying him to see the latest
acquisitions in the British Museum, and various other exhibitions, and
went at night to the Prince of Wales’s Theatre, where Sir Peter was
infinitely delighted with an admirable little comedy by Mr. Robertson,
admirably placed on the stage by Marie Wilton. The day after, when
Gordon called on him at his hotel, he cleared his throat, and thus
plunged at once into the communication he had hitherto delayed.

“Gordon, my boy, I owe you a debt, and I am now, thanks to Kenelm, able
to pay it.”

Gordon gave a little start of surprise, but remained silent.

“I told your father, shortly after Kenelm was born, that I meant to give
up my London house, and lay by L1000 a year for you, in compensation
for your chance of succeeding to Exmundham should I have died childless.
Well, your father did not seem to think much of that promise, and went
to law with me about certain unquestionable rights of mine. How so
clever a man could have made such a mistake would puzzle me, if I did
not remember that he had a quarrelsome temper. Temper is a thing that
often dominates cleverness,--an uncontrollable thing; and allowances
must be made for it. Not being of a quarrelsome temper myself (the
Chillinglys are a placid race), I did not make the allowance for your
father’s differing, and (for a Chillingly) abnormal, constitution. The
language and the tone of his letter respecting it nettled me. I did
not see why, thus treated, I should pinch myself to lay by a thousand a
year. Facilities for buying a property most desirable for the possessor
of Exmundham presented themselves. I bought it with borrowed money, and
though I gave up the house in London, I did not lay by the thousand a
year.”

“My dear Sir Peter, I have always regretted that my poor father
was misled--perhaps out of too paternal a care for my supposed
interests--into that unhappy and fruitless litigation, after which
no one could doubt that any generous intentions on your part would be
finally abandoned. It has been a grateful surprise to me that I have
been so kindly and cordially received into the family by Kenelm and
yourself. Pray oblige me by dropping all reference to pecuniary matters:
the idea of compensation to a very distant relative for the loss of
expectations he had no right to form, is too absurd, for me at least,
ever to entertain.”

“But I am absurd enough to entertain it, though you express yourself in
a very high-minded way. To come to the point, Kenelm is of age, and we
have cut off the entail. The estate of course remains absolutely with
Kenelm to dispose of, as it did before, and we must take it for granted
that he will marry; at all events he cannot fall into your poor father’s
error: but whatever Kenelm hereafter does with his property, it is
nothing to you, and is not to be counted upon. Even the title dies with
Kenelm if he has no son. On resettling the estate, however, sums
of money have been realized which, as I stated before, enable me to
discharge the debt which Kenelm heartily agrees with me is due to
you. L20,000 are now lying at my bankers’ to be transferred to yours;
meanwhile, if you will call on my solicitor, Mr. Vining, Lincoln’s-inn,
you can see the new deed and give to him your receipt for the L20,000,
for which he holds my cheque. Stop! stop! stop! I will not hear a. word:
no thanks; they are not due.”

Here Gordon, who had during this speech uttered various brief
exclamations, which Sir Peter did not heed, caught hold of his kinsman’s
hand, and, despite of all struggles, pressed his lips on it. “I must
thank you; I must give some vent to my emotions,” cried Gordon. “This
sum, great in itself, is far more to me than you can imagine: it opens
my career; it assures my future.”

“So Kenelm tells me; he said that sum would be more use to you now than
ten times the amount twenty years hence.”

“So it will,--it will. And Kenelm consents to this sacrifice?”

“Consents! urges it.”

Gordon turned away his face, and Sir Peter resumed: “You want to get
into Parliament; very natural ambition for a clever young fellow. I
don’t presume to dictate politics to you. I hear you are what is called
a Liberal; a man may be a Liberal, I suppose, without being a Jacobin.”

“I hope so, indeed. For my part I am anything but a violent man.”

“Violent, no! Who ever heard of a violent Chillingly? But I was reading
in the newspaper to-day a speech addressed to some popular audience,
in which the orator was for dividing all the lands and all the capital
belonging to other people among the working class, calmly and quietly,
without any violence, and deprecating violence: but saying, perhaps very
truly, that the people to be robbed might not like it, and might offer
violence; in which case woe betide them; it was they who would be guilty
of violence; and they must take the consequences if they resisted the
reasonable, propositions of himself and his friends! That, I suppose, is
among the new ideas with which Kenelm is more familiar than I am. Do you
entertain those new ideas?”

“Certainly not: I despise the fools who do.”

“And you will not abet revolutionary measures if you get into
Parliament?”

“My dear Sir Peter, I fear you have heard very false reports of my
opinions if you put such questions. Listen,” and therewith Gordon
launched into dissertations very clever, very subtle, which committed
him to nothing, beyond the wisdom of guiding popular opinions into right
directions: what might be right directions he did not define; he left
Sir Peter to guess them. Sir Peter did guess them, as Gordon meant he
should, to be the directions which he, Sir Peter, thought right; and he
was satisfied.

That subject disposed of, Gordon said, with much apparent feeling, “May
I ask you to complete the favours you have lavished on me? I have never
seen Exmundham, and the home of the race from which I sprang has a deep
interest for time. Will you allow me to spend a few days with you, and
under the shade of your own trees take lessons in political science from
one who has evidently reflected on it profoundly?”

“Profoundly, no; a little,--a little, as a mere bystander,” said Sir
Peter, modestly, but much flattered. “Come, my dear boy, by all means;
you will have a hearty welcome. By the by, Travers and his handsome
daughter promised to visit me in about a fortnight, why not come at the
same time?”

A sudden flash lit up the young man’s countenance.

“I shall be so delighted,” he cried. “I am but slightly acquainted with
Mr. Travers, but I like him much, and Mrs. Campion is so well informed.”

“And what say you to the girl?”

“The girl, Miss Travers. Oh, she is very well in her way. But I don’t
talk with young ladies more than I can help.”

“Then you are like your cousin Kenelm?”

“I wish I were like him in other things.”

“No, one such oddity in a family is quite enough. But though I would
not have you change to a Kenelm, I would not change Kenelm for the most
perfect model of a son that the world can exhibit.” Delivering himself
of this burst of parental fondness, Sir Peter shook hands with Gordon,
and walked off to Mivers, who was to give him luncheon and then
accompany him to the station. Sir Peter was to return to Exmundham by
the afternoon express.

Left alone, Gordon indulged in one of those luxurious guesses into the
future which form the happiest moments in youth when so ambitious as
his. The sum Sir Peter placed at his disposal would insure his entrance
in Parliament. He counted with confidence on early successes there. He
extended the scope of his views. With such successes he might calculate
with certainty on a brilliant marriage, augmenting his fortune, and
confirming his position. He had previously fixed his thoughts on Cecilia
Travers. I will do him the justice to say not from mercenary motives
alone, but not certainly with the impetuous ardour of youthful love. He
thought her exactly fitted to be the wife of an eminent public man, in
person, acquirement, dignified yet popular manners. He esteemed her, he
liked her, and then her fortune would add solidity to his position. In
fact, he had that sort of rational attachment to Cecilia which wise men,
like Lord Bacon and Montaigne, would commend to another wise man seeking
a wife. What opportunities of awaking in herself a similar, perhaps a
warmer, attachment the visit to Exmundham would afford! He had learned
when he had called on the Traverses that they were going thither, and
hence that burst of family sentiment which had procured the invitation
to himself.

But he must be cautious, he must not prematurely awaken Travers’s
suspicions. He was not as yet a match that the squire could approve of
for his heiress. And, though he was ignorant of Sir Peter’s designs
on that, young lady, he was much too prudent to confide his own to a
kinsman of whose discretion he had strong misgivings. It was enough for
him at present that way was opened for his own resolute energies. And
cheerfully, though musingly, he weighed its obstacles, and divined its
goal, as he paced his floor with bended head and restless strides, now
quick, now slow.

Sir Peter, in the meanwhile, found a very good luncheon prepared for
him at Mivers’s rooms, which he had all to himself, for his host never
“spoilt his dinner and insulted his breakfast” by that intermediate
meal. He remained at his desk writing brief notes of business, or
of pleasure, while Sir Peter did justice to lamb cutlets and grilled
chicken. But he looked up from his task, with raised eyebrows, when
Sir Peter, after a somewhat discursive account of his visit to the
Traverses, his admiration of Cecilia, and the adroitness with which,
acting on his cousin’s hint, he had engaged the family to spend a few
days at Exmundham, added, “And, by the by, I have asked young Gordon to
meet them.”

“To meet them! meet Mr. and Miss Travers! you have? I thought you wished
Kenelm to marry Cecilia. I was mistaken, you meant Gordon!”

“Gordon,” exclaimed Sir Peter, dropping his knife and fork. “Nonsense,
you don’t suppose that Miss Travers prefers him to Kenelm, or that
he has the presumption to fancy that her father would sanction his
addresses?”

“I indulge in no suppositions of the sort. I content myself with
thinking that Gordon is clever, insinuating, young; and it is a very
good chance of bettering himself that you have thrown in his way.
However, it is no affair of mine; and though on the whole I like
Kenelm better than Gordon, still I like Gordon very well, and I have
an interest in following his career which I can’t say I have in
conjecturing what may be Kenelm’s--more likely no career at all.”

“Mivers, you delight in provoking me; you do say such uncomfortable
things. But, in the first place, Gordon spoke rather slightingly of Miss
Travers.”

“Ah, indeed; that’s a bad sign,” muttered Mivers.

Sir Peter did not hear him, and went on.

“And, besides, I feel pretty sure that the dear girl has already a
regard for Kenelm which allows no room for a rival. However, I shall not
forget your hint, but keep a sharp lookout; and, if I see the young man
wants to be too sweet on Cecilia, I shall cut short his visit.”

“Give yourself no trouble in the matter; it will do no good. Marriages
are made in heaven. Heaven’s will be done. If I can get away I will
run down to you for a day or two. Perhaps in that case you can ask Lady
Glenalvon. I like her, and she likes Kenelm. Have you finished? I see
the brougham is at the door, and we have to call at your hotel to take
up your carpet-bag.”

Mivers was deliberately sealing his notes while he thus spoke. He now
rang for his servant, gave orders for their delivery, and then followed
Sir Peter down stairs and into the brougham. Not a word would he say
more about Gordon, and Sir Peter shrank from telling him about the
L20,000. Chillingly Mivers was perhaps the last person to whom Sir
Peter would be tempted to parade an act of generosity. Mivers might not
unfrequently do a generous act himself, provided it was not divulged;
but he had always a sneer for the generosity of others.



CHAPTER II.

WANDERING back towards Moleswich, Kenelm found himself a little before
sunset on the banks of the garrulous brook, almost opposite to the house
inhabited by Lily Mordaunt. He stood long and silently by the grassy
margin, his dark shadow falling over the stream, broken into fragments
by the eddy and strife of waves, fresh from their leap down the
neighbouring waterfall. His eyes rested on the house and the garden lawn
in the front. The upper windows were open. “I wonder which is hers,” he
said to himself. At last he caught a glimpse of the gardener, bending
over a flower border with his watering-pot, and then moving slowly
through the little shrubbery, no doubt to his own cottage. Now the lawn
was solitary, save that a couple of thrushes dropped suddenly on the
sward.

“Good evening, sir,” said a voice. “A capital spot for trout this.”

Kenelm turned his head, and beheld on the footpath, just behind him,
a respectable elderly man, apparently of the class of a small retail
tradesman, with a fishing-rod in his hand and a basket belted to his
side.

“For trout,” replied Kenelm; “I dare say. A strangely attractive spot
indeed.”

“Are you an angler, sir, if I may make bold to inquire?” asked the
elderly man, somewhat perhaps puzzled as to the rank of the stranger;
noticing, on the one hand, his dress and his mien, on the other, slung
to his shoulders, the worn and shabby knapsack which Kenelm had carried,
at home and abroad, the preceding year.

“Ay, I am an angler.”

“Then this is the best place in the whole stream. Look, sir, there
is Izaak Walton’s summer-house; and further down you see that white,
neat-looking house. Well, that is my house, sir, and I have an apartment
which I let to gentleman anglers. It is generally occupied throughout
the summer months. I expect every day to have a letter to engage it,
but it is vacant now. A very nice apartment, sir,--sitting-room and
bedroom.”

“_Descende ceolo, et dic age tibia_,” said Kenelm.

“Sir?” said the elderly man.

“I beg you ten thousand pardons. I have had the misfortune to have been
at the university, and to have learned a little Latin, which sometimes
comes back very inopportunely. But, speaking in plain English, what
I meant to say is this: I invoked the Muse to descend from heaven and
bring with her--the original says a fife, but I meant--a fishing-rod. I
should think your apartment would suit me exactly; pray show it to me.”

“With the greatest pleasure,” said the elderly man. “The Muse need not
bring a fishing-rod! we have all sorts of tackle at your service, and a
boat too, if you care for that. The stream hereabouts is so shallow and
narrow that a boat is of little use till you get farther down.”

“I don’t want to get farther down; but should I want to get to the
opposite bank, without wading across, would the boat take me or is there
a bridge?”

“The boat can take you. It is a flat-bottomed punt, and there is a
bridge too for foot-passengers, just opposite my house; and between
this and Moleswich, where the stream widens, there is a ferry. The stone
bridge for traffic is at the farther end of the town.”

“Good. Let us go at once to your house.”

The two men walked on.

“By the by,” said Kenelm, as they walked, “do you know much of the
family that inhabit the pretty cottage on the opposite side, which we
have just left behind?”

“Mrs. Cameron’s. Yes, of course, a very good lady; and Mr. Melville, the
painter. I am sure I ought to know, for he has often lodged with me
when he came to visit Mrs. Cameron. He recommends my apartment to his
friends, and they are my best lodgers. I like painters, sir, though I
don’t know much about paintings. They are pleasant gentlemen, and easily
contented with my humble roof and fare.”

“You are quite right. I don’t know much about paintings myself; but I am
inclined to believe that painters, judging not from what I have seen of
them, for I have not a single acquaintance among them personally, but
from what I have read of their lives, are, as a general rule, not only
pleasant but noble gentlemen. They form within themselves desires to
beautify or exalt commonplace things, and they can only accomplish their
desires by a constant study of what is beautiful and what is exalted.
A man constantly so engaged ought to be a very noble gentleman, even
though he may be the son of a shoeblack. And living in a higher world
than we do, I can conceive that he is, as you say, very well contented
with humble roof and fare in the world we inhabit.”

“Exactly, sir; I see--I see now, though you put it in a way that never
struck me before.”

“And yet,” said Kenelm, looking benignly at the speaker, “you seem to
me a well-educated and intelligent man; reflective on things in general,
without being unmindful of your interests in particular, especially when
you have lodgings to let. Do not be offended. That sort of man is not
perhaps born to be a painter, but I respect him highly. The world, sir,
requires the vast majority of its inhabitants to live in it,--to live
by it. ‘Each for himself, and God for us all.’ The greatest happiness
of the greatest number is best secured by a prudent consideration for
Number One.”

Somewhat to Kenelm’s surprise (allowing that he had now learned enough
of life to be occasionally surprised) the elderly man here made a dead
halt, stretched out his hand cordially, and cried, “Hear, hear! I see
that, like me, you are a decided democrat.”

“Democrat! Pray, may I ask, not why you are one,--that would be a
liberty, and democrats resent any liberty taken with themselves; but why
you suppose I am?”

“You spoke of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. That is
a democratic sentiment surely! Besides, did not you say, sir, that
painters,--painters, sir, painters, even if they were the sons of
shoeblacks, were the true gentlemen,--the true noblemen?”

“I did not say that exactly, to the disparagement of other gentlemen and
nobles. But if I did, what then?”

“Sir, I agree with you. I despise rank; I despise dukes and earls and
aristocrats. ‘An honest man’s the noblest work of God.’ Some poet says
that. I think Shakspeare. Wonderful man, Shakspeare. A tradesman’s
son,--butcher, I believe. Eh! My uncle was a butcher, and might have
been an alderman. I go along with you heartily, heartily. I am a
democrat, every inch of me. Shake hands, sir, shake hands; we are all
equals. ‘Each man for himself, and God for us all.’”

“I have no objection to shake hands,” said Kenelm; “but don’t let me owe
your condescension to false pretences. Though we are all equal before
the law, except the rich man, who has little chance of justice as
against a poor man when submitted to an English jury, yet I utterly deny
that any two men you select can be equals. One must beat the other
in something; and, when one man beats another, democracy ceases and
aristocracy begins.”

“Aristocracy! I don’t see that. What do you mean by aristocracy?”

“The ascendency of the better man. In a rude State the better man is
the stronger; in a corrupt State, perhaps the more roguish; in modern
republics the jobbers get the money and the lawyers get the power. In
well-ordered States alone aristocracy appears at its genuine worth:
the better man in birth, because respect for ancestry secures a higher
standard of honour; the better man in wealth, because of the immense
uses to enterprise, energy, and the fine arts, which rich men must be if
they follow their natural inclinations; the better man in character, the
better man in ability, for reasons too obvious to define; and these two
last will beat the others in the government of the State, if the State
be flourishing and free. All these four classes of better men constitute
true aristocracy; and when a better government than a true aristocracy
shall be devised by the wit of man, we shall not be far off from
the Millennium and the reign of saints. But here we are at the
house,--yours, is it not? I like the look of it extremely.”

The elderly man now entered the little porch, over which clambered
honeysuckle and ivy intertwined, and ushered Kenelm into a pleasant
parlour, with a bay window, and an equally pleasant bedroom behind it.

“Will it do, sir?”

“Perfectly. I take it from this moment. My knapsack contains all I shall
need for the night. There is a portmanteau of mine at Mr. Somers’s shop,
which can be sent here in the morning.”

“But we have not settled about the terms,” said the elderly man,
beginning to feel rather doubtful whether he ought thus to have
installed in his home a stalwart pedestrian of whom he knew nothing,
and who, though talking glibly enough on other things, had preserved an
ominous silence on the subject of payment.

“Terms? true, name them.”

“Including board?”

“Certainly. Chameleons live on air; democrats on wind bags. I have a
more vulgar appetite, and require mutton.”

“Meat is very dear now-a-days,” said the elderly man, “and I am afraid,
for board and lodging I cannot charge you less than L3 3s.,--say L3 a
week. My lodgers usually pay a week in advance.”

“Agreed,” said Kenelm, extracting three sovereigns from his purse. “I
have dined already: I want nothing more this evening; let me detain you
no further. Be kind enough to shut the door after you.”

When he was alone, Kenelm seated himself in the recess of the bay
window, against the casement, and looked forth intently. Yes; he was
right: he could see from thence the home of Lily. Not, indeed, more than
a white gleam of the house through the interstices of trees and shrubs,
but the gentle lawn sloping to the brook, with the great willow at the
end dipping its boughs into the water, and shutting out all view beyond
itself by its bower of tender leaves. The young man bent his face on his
hands and mused dreamily: the evening deepened; the stars came forth;
the rays of the moon now peered aslant through the arching dips of the
willow, silvering their way as they stole to the waves below.

“Shall I bring lights, sir? or do you prefer a lamp or candles?” asked
a voice behind,--the voice of the elderly man’s wife. “Do you like the
shutters closed?”

The question startled the dreamer. They seemed mocking his own old
mockings on the romance of love. Lamp or candles, practical lights for
prosaic eyes, and shutters closed against moon and stars!

“Thank you, ma’am, not yet,” he said; and rising quietly he placed his
hand on the window-sill, swung himself through the open casement, and
passed slowly along the margin of the rivulet, by a path checkered
alternately with shade and starlight; the moon yet more slowly rising
above the willows, and lengthening its track along the wavelets.



CHAPTER III.

THOUGH Kenelm did not think it necessary at present to report to his
parents or his London acquaintances his recent movements and his present
resting-place, it never entered into his head to lurk _perdu_ in the
immediate vicinity of Lily’s house, and seek opportunities of meeting
her clandestinely. He walked to Mrs. Braefield’s the next morning, found
her at home, and said in rather a more off-hand manner than was habitual
to him, “I have hired a lodging in your neighbourhood, on the banks of
the brook, for the sake of its trout-fishing. So you will allow me to
call on you sometimes, and one of these days I hope you will give me the
dinner I so unceremoniously rejected some days ago. I was then summoned
away suddenly, much against my will.”

“Yes; my husband said that you shot off from him with a wild exclamation
about duty.”

“Quite true; my reason, and I may say my conscience, were greatly
perplexed upon a matter extremely important and altogether new to me. I
went to Oxford,--the place above all others in which questions of
reason and conscience are most deeply considered, and perhaps
least satisfactorily solved. Relieved in my mind by my visit to a
distinguished ornament of that university, I felt I might indulge in a
summer holiday, and here I am.”

“Ah! I understand. You had religious doubts,--thought perhaps of turning
Roman Catholic. I hope you are not going to do so?”

“My doubts were not necessarily of a religious nature. Pagans have
entertained them.”

“Whatever they were I am pleased to see they did not prevent your
return,” said Mrs. Braefield, graciously. “But where have you found a
lodging; why not have come to us? My husband would have been scarcely
less glad than myself to receive you.”

“You say that so sincerely, and so cordially, that to answer by a brief
‘I thank you’ seems rigid and heartless. But there are times in life
when one yearns to be alone,--to commune with one’s own heart, and, if
possible, be still; I am in one of those moody times. Bear with me.”

Mrs. Braefield looked at him with affectionate, kindly interest. She
had gone before him through the solitary road of young romance. She
remembered her dreamy, dangerous girlhood, when she, too, had yearned to
be alone.

“Bear with you; yes, indeed. I wish, Mr. Chillingly, that I were your
sister, and that you would confide in me. Something troubles you.”

“Troubles me,--no. My thoughts are happy ones, and they may sometimes
perplex me, but they do not trouble.”

Kenelm said this very softly; and in the warmer light of his musing
eyes, the sweeter play of his tranquil smile, there was an expression
which did not belie his words.

“You have not told me where you have found a lodging,” said Mrs.
Braefield, somewhat abruptly.

“Did I not?” replied Kenelm, with an unconscious start, as from an
abstracted reverie. “With no undistinguished host, I presume, for when
I asked him this morning for the right address of this cottage, in order
to direct such luggage as I have to be sent there, he gave me his card
with a grand air, saying, ‘I am pretty well known at Moleswich, by
and beyond it.’ I have not yet looked at his card. Oh, here it
is,--‘Algernon Sidney Gale Jones, Cromwell Lodge;’ you laugh. What do
you know of him?”

“I wish my husband were here; he would tell you more about him. Mr.
Jones is quite a character.”

“So I perceive.”

“A great radical,--very talkative and troublesome at the vestry; but our
vicar, Mr. Emlyn, says there is no real harm in him, that his bark is
worse than his bite, and that his republican or radical notions must be
laid to the door of his godfathers! In addition to his name of Jones, he
was unhappily christened Gale; Gale Jones being a noted radical orator
at the time of his birth. And I suppose Algernon Sidney was prefixed
to Gale in order to devote the new-born more emphatically to republican
principles.”

“Naturally, therefore, Algernon Sidney Gale Jones baptizes his house
Cromwell Lodge, seeing that Algernon Sidney held the Protectorate in
especial abhorrence, and that the original Gale Jones, if an honest
radical, must have done the same, considering what rough usage the
advocates of Parliamentary Reform met with at the hands of his Highness.
But we must be indulgent to men who have been unfortunately christened
before they had any choice of the names that were to rule their fate.
I myself should have been less whimsical had I not been named after a
Kenelm who believed in sympathetic powders. Apart from his political
doctrines, I like my landlord: he keeps his wife in excellent order. She
seems frightened at the sound of her own footsteps, and glides to and
fro, a pallid image of submissive womanhood in list slippers.”

“Great recommendations certainly, and Cromwell Lodge is very prettily
situated. By the by, it is very near Mrs. Cameron’s.”

“Now I think of it, so it is,” said Kenelm, innocently. Ah! my friend
Kenelm, enemy of shams, and truth-teller, _par excellence_, what hast
thou come to? How are the mighty fallen! “Since you say you will dine
with us, suppose we fix the day after to-morrow, and I will ask Mrs.
Cameron and Lily.”

“The day after to-morrow: I shall be delighted.”

“An early hour?”

“The earlier the better.”

“Is six o’clock too early?”

“Too early! certainly not; on the contrary. Good-day: I must now go to
Mrs. Somers; she has charge of my portmanteau.”

Then Kenelm rose.

“Poor dear Lily!” said Mrs. Braefield; “I wish she were less of a
child.”

Kenelm reseated himself.

“Is she a child? I don’t think she is actually a child.”

“Not in years; she is between seventeen and eighteen: but my husband
says that she is too childish to talk to, and always tells me to take
her off his hands; he would rather talk with Mrs. Cameron.”

“Indeed!”

“Still I find something in her.”

“Indeed!”

“Not exactly childish, nor quite womanish.”

“What then?”

“I can’t exactly define. But you know what Mr. Melville and Mrs. Cameron
call her as a pet name?”

“No.”

“Fairy! Fairies have no age; fairy is neither child nor woman.”

“Fairy. She is called fairy by those who know her best? Fairy!”

“And she believes in fairies.”

“Does she?--so do I. Pardon me, I must be off. The day after
to-morrow,--six o’clock.”

“Wait one moment,” said Elsie, going to her writing-table. “Since you
pass Grasmere on your way home, will you kindly leave this note?”

“I thought Grasmere was a lake in the north?”

“Yes; but Mr. Melville chose to call the cottage by the name of the
lake. I think the first picture he ever sold was a view of Wordsworth’s
house there. Here is my note to ask Mrs. Cameron to meet you; but if you
object to be my messenger--”

“Object! my dear Mrs. Braefield. As you say, I pass close by the
cottage.”



CHAPTER IV.

KENELM went with somewhat rapid pace from Mrs. Braefield’s to the shop
in the High Street kept by Will Somers. Jessie was behind the counter,
which was thronged with customers. Kenelm gave her a brief direction
about his portmanteau, and then passed into the back parlour, where
her husband was employed on his baskets,--with the baby’s cradle in
the corner, and its grandmother rocking it mechanically, as she read a
wonderful missionary tract full of tales of miraculous conversions: into
what sort of Christians we will not pause to inquire.

“And so you are happy, Will?” said Kenelm, seating himself between the
basket-maker and the infant; the dear old mother beside him, reading the
tract which linked her dreams of life eternal with life just opening
in the cradle that she rocked. He not happy! How he pitied the man who
could ask such a question.

“Happy, sir! I should think so, indeed. There is not a night on which
Jessie and I, and mother too, do not pray that some day or other you may
be as happy. By and by the baby will learn to pray ‘God bless papa, and
mamma, grandmamma, and Mr. Chillingly.’”

“There is some one else much more deserving of prayers than I, though
needing them less. You will know some day: pass it by now. To return to
the point: you are happy; if I asked why, would you not say, ‘Because I
have married the girl I love, and have never repented’?”

“Well, sir, that is about it; though, begging your pardon, I think it
could be put more prettily somehow.”

“You are right there. But perhaps love and happiness never yet found any
words that could fitly express them. Good-bye, for the present.”

Ah! if it were as mere materialists, or as many middle-aged or elderly
folks, who, if materialists, are so without knowing it, unreflectingly
say, “The main element of happiness is bodily or animal health and
strength,” that question which Chillingly put would appear a very
unmeaning or a very insulting one addressed to a pale cripple, who
however improved of late in health, would still be sickly and ailing
all his life,--put, too, by a man of the rarest conformation of physical
powers that nature can adapt to physical enjoyment,--a man who, since
the age in which memory commences, had never known what it was to
be unwell, who could scarcely understand you if you talked of a
finger-ache, and whom those refinements of mental culture which
multiply the delights of the senses had endowed with the most exquisite
conceptions of such happiness as mere nature and its instincts can give!
But Will did not think the question unmeaning or insulting. He, the poor
cripple, felt a vast superiority on the scale of joyous being over the
young Hercules, well born, cultured, and wealthy, who could know so
little of happiness as to ask the crippled basket-maker if he were
happy.--he, blessed husband and father!



CHAPTER V.

LILY was seated on the grass under a chestnut-tree on the lawn. A white
cat, not long emerged from kittenhood, curled itself by her side. On her
lap was an open volume, which she was reading with the greatest delight.

Mrs. Cameron came from the house, looked round, perceived the girl, and
approached; and either she moved so gently, or Lily was so absorbed in
the book, that the latter was not aware of her presence till she felt
a light hand on her shoulder, and, looking up, recognized her aunt’s
gentle face.

“Ah! Fairy, Fairy, that silly book, when you ought to be at your French
verbs. What will your guardian say when he comes and finds you have so
wasted time?”

“He will say that fairies never waste their time; and he will scold you
for saying so.” Therewith Lily threw down the book, sprang to her feet,
wound her arm round Mrs. Cameron’s neck, and kissed her fondly. “There!
is that wasting time? I love you so, aunty. In a day like this I think I
love everybody and everything!” As she said this, she drew up her lithe
form, looked into the blue sky, and with parted lips seemed to drink in
air and sunshine. Then she woke up the dozing cat, and began chasing it
round the lawn.

Mrs. Cameron stood still, regarding her with moistened eyes. Just at
that moment Kenelm entered through the garden gate. He, too, stood
still, his eyes fixed on the undulating movements of Fairy’s exquisite
form. She had arrested her favourite, and was now at play with it,
shaking off her straw hat, and drawing the ribbon attached to it
tantalizingly along the smooth grass. Her rich hair, thus released and
dishevelled by the exercise, fell partly over her face in wavy ringlets;
and her musical laugh and words of sportive endearment sounded on
Kenelm’s ear more joyously than the thrill of the skylark, more sweetly
than the coo of the ring-dove.

He approached towards Mrs. Cameron. Lily turned suddenly and saw him.
Instinctively she smoothed back her loosened tresses, replaced the straw
hat, and came up demurely to his side just as he had accosted her aunt.

“Pardon my intrusion, Mrs. Cameron. I am the bearer of this note from
Mrs. Braefield.” While the aunt read the note, he turned to the niece.

“You promised to show me the picture, Miss Mordaunt.”

“But that was a long time ago.”

“Too long to expect a lady’s promise to be kept?”

Lily seemed to ponder that question, and hesitated before she answered.

“I will show you the picture. I don’t think I ever broke a promise yet,
but I shall be more careful how I make one in future.”

“Why so?”

“Because you did not value mine when I made it, and that hurt me.” Lily
lifted up her head with a bewitching stateliness, and added gravely, “I
was offended.”

“Mrs. Braefield is very kind,” said Mrs. Cameron; “she asks us to dine
the day after to-morrow. You would like to go, Lily?”

“All grown-up people, I suppose? No, thank you, dear aunt. You go alone,
I would rather stay at home. May I have little Clemmy to play with? She
will bring Juba, and Blanche is very partial to Juba, though she does
scratch him.”

“Very well, my dear, you shall have your playmate, and I will go by
myself.”

Kenelm stood aghast. “You will not go, Miss Mordaunt; Mrs. Braefield
will be so disappointed. And if you don’t go, whom shall I have to talk
to? I don’t like grown-up people better than you do.”

“You are going?”

“Certainly.”

“And if I go you will talk to me? I am afraid of Mr. Braefield. He is so
wise.”

“I will save you from him, and will not utter a grain of wisdom.”

“Aunty, I will go.”

Here Lily made a bound and caught up Blanche, who, taking her kisses
resignedly, stared with evident curiosity upon Kenelm.

Here a bell within the house rang the announcement of luncheon. Mrs.
Cameron invited Kenelm to partake of that meal. He felt as Romulus might
have felt when first invited to taste the ambrosia of the gods. Yet
certainly that luncheon was not such as might have pleased Kenelm
Chillingly in the early days of the Temperance Hotel. But somehow or
other of late he had lost appetite; and on this occasion a very modest
share of a very slender dish of chicken fricasseed, and a few cherries
daintily arranged on vine leaves, which Lily selected for him, contented
him,--as probably a very little ambrosia contented Romulus while
feasting his eyes on Hebe.

Luncheon over, while Mrs. Cameron wrote her reply to Elsie, Kenelm
was conducted by Lily into her own _own_ room, in vulgar parlance her
_boudoir_, though it did not look as if any one ever _bouder’d_ there.
It was exquisitely pretty,--pretty not as a woman’s, but as a child’s
dream of the own _own_ room she would like to have,--wondrously neat and
cool, and pure-looking; a trellis paper, the trellis gay with roses and
woodbine, and birds and butterflies; draperies of muslin, festooned with
dainty tassels and ribbons; a dwarf bookcase, that seemed well stored,
at least as to bindings; a dainty little writing-table in French
_marqueterie_, looking too fresh and spotless to have known hard
service. The casement was open, and in keeping with the trellis paper;
woodbine and roses from without encroached on the window-sides, gently
stirred by the faint summer breeze, and wafted sweet odours into the
little room. Kenelm went to the window, and glanced on the view beyond.
“I was right,” he said to himself; “I divined it.” But though he
spoke in a low inward whisper, Lily, who had watched his movements in
surprise, overheard.

“You divined it. Divined what?”

“Nothing, nothing; I was but talking to myself.”

“Tell me what you divined: I insist upon it!” and Fairy petulantly
stamped her tiny foot on the floor.

“Do you? Then I obey. I have taken a lodging for a short time on the
other side of the brook,--Cromwell Lodge,--and seeing your house as I
passed, I divined that your room was in this part of it. How soft here
is the view of the water! Ah! yonder is Izaak Walton’s summer-house.”

“Don’t talk about Izaak Walton, or I shall quarrel with you, as I did
with Lion when he wanted me to like that cruel book.”

“Who is Lion?”

“Lion,--of course, my guardian. I called him Lion when I was a little
child. It was on seeing in one of his books a print of a lion playing
with a little child.”

“Ah! I know the design well,” said Kenelm, with a slight sigh. “It is
from an antique Greek gem. It is not the lion that plays with the child,
it is the child that masters the lion, and the Greeks called the child
‘Love.’”

This idea seemed beyond Lily’s perfect comprehension. She paused before
she answered, with the naivete of a child six years old,--

“I see now why I mastered Blanche, who will not make friends with any
one else: I love Blanche. Ah, that reminds me,--come and look at the
picture.”

She went to the wall over the writing-table, drew a silk curtain aside
from a small painting in a dainty velvet framework, and pointing to it,
cried with triumph, “Look there! is it not beautiful?”

Kenelm had been prepared to see a landscape, or a group, or anything but
what he did see: it was the portrait of Blanche when a kitten.

Little elevated though the subject was, it was treated with graceful
fancy. The kitten had evidently ceased from playing with the cotton
reel that lay between her paws, and was fixing her gaze intently on a
bulfinch that had lighted on a spray within her reach.

“You understand,” said Lily, placing her hand on his arm, and drawing
him towards what she thought the best light for the picture; “it is
Blanche’s first sight of a bird. Look well at her face; don’t you see a
sudden surprise,--half joy, half fear? She ceases to play with the reel.
Her intellect--or, as Mr. Braefield would say, ‘her instinct’--is for
the first time aroused. From that moment Blanche was no longer a mere
kitten. And it required, oh, the most careful education, to teach her
not to kill the poor little birds. She never does now, but I had such
trouble with her.”

“I cannot say honestly that I do see all that you do in the picture;
but it seems to me very simply painted, and was, no doubt, a striking
likeness of Blanche at that early age.”

“So it was. Lion drew the first sketch from life with his pencil; and
when he saw how pleased I was with it--he was so good--he put it on
canvas, and let me sit by him while he painted it. Then he took it away,
and brought it back finished and framed as you see, last May, a present
for my birthday.”

“You were born in May--with the flowers.”

“The best of all the flowers are born in May,--violets.”

“But they are born in the shade, and cling to it. Surely, as a child of
May, you love the sun!”

“I love the sun; it is never too bright nor too warm for me. But I don’t
think that, though born in May, I was born in sunlight. I feel more like
my own native self when I creep into the shade and sit down alone. I can
weep then.”

As she thus shyly ended, the character of her whole countenance was
changed: its infantine mirthfulness was gone; a grave, thoughtful, even
a sad expression settled on the tender eyes and the tremulous lips.

Kenelm was so touched that words failed him, and there was silence for
some moments between the two. At length Kenelm said, slowly,--

“You say your own native self. Do you, then, feel, as I often do, that
there is a second, possibly a _native_, self, deep hid beneath the
self,--not merely what we show to the world in common (that may be
merely a mask), but the self that we ordinarily accept even when in
solitude as our own, an inner innermost self, oh so different and
so rarely coming forth from its hiding-place, asserting its right of
sovereignty, and putting out the other self as the sun puts out a star?”

Had Kenelm thus spoken to a clever man of the world--to a Chillingly
Mivers, to a Chillingly Gordon--they certainly would not have understood
him. But to such men he never would have thus spoken. He had a vague
hope that this childlike girl, despite so much of childlike talk, would
understand him; and she did at once.

Advancing close to him, again laying her hand on his arm, and looking up
towards his bended face with startled wondering eyes, no longer sad, yet
not mirthful,--

“How true! You have felt that too? Where _is_ that innermost self,
so deep down,--so deep; yet when it does come forth, so much
higher,--higher,--immeasurably higher than one’s everyday self? It does
not tame the butterflies; it longs to get to the stars. And then,--and
then,--ah, how soon it fades back again! You have felt that. Does it not
puzzle you?”

“Very much.”

“Are there no wise books about it that help to explain?”

“No wise books in my very limited reading even hint at the puzzle. I
fancy that it is one of those insoluble questions that rest between the
infant and his Maker. Mind and soul are not the same things, and what
you and I call ‘wise men’ are always confounding the two--”

Fortunately for all parties--especially the reader; for Kenelm had here
got on the back of one of his most cherished hobbies, the distinction
between psychology and metaphysics, soul and mind scientifically or
logically considered--Mrs. Cameron here entered the room, and asked him
how he liked the picture.

“Very much. I am no great judge of the art. But it pleased me at once,
and now that Miss Mordaunt has interpreted the intention of the painter
I admire it yet more.”

“Lily chooses to interpret his intention in her own way, and insists
that Blanche’s expression of countenance conveys an idea of her capacity
to restrain her destructive instinct, and be taught to believe that it
is wrong to kill birds for mere sport. For food she need not kill them,
seeing that Lily takes care that she has plenty to eat. But I don’t
think that Mr. Melville had the slightest suspicion that he had
indicated that capacity in his picture.”

“He must have done so, whether he suspected it or not,” said Lily,
positively; “otherwise he would not be truthful.”

“Why not truthful?” asked Kenelm.

“Don’t you see? If you were called upon to describe truthfully the
character of any little child, would you only speak of such naughty
impulses as all children have in common, and not even hint at the
capacity to be made better?”

“Admirably put!” said Kenelm. “There is no doubt that a much fiercer
animal than a cat--a tiger, for instance, or a conquering hero--may be
taught to live on the kindest possible terms with the creatures on which
it was its natural instinct to prey.”

“Yes, yes; hear that, aunty! You remember the Happy Family that we
saw eight years ago, at Moleswich fair, with a cat not half so nice as
Blanche allowing a mouse to bite her ear? Well, then, would Lion not
have been shamefully false to Blanche if he had not”--

Lily paused and looked half shyly, half archly, at Kenelm, then added,
in slow, deep-drawn tones--“given a glimpse of her innermost self?”

“Innermost self!” repeated Mrs. Cameron, perplexed and laughing gently.

Lily stole nearer to Kenelm and whispered,--

“Is not one’s innermost self one’s best self?”

Kenelm smiled approvingly. The fairy was rapidly deepening her spell
upon him. If Lily had been his sister, his betrothed, his wife, how
fondly he would have kissed her! She had expressed a thought over which
he had often inaudibly brooded, and she had clothed it with all the
charm of her own infantine fancy and womanlike tenderness. Goethe has
said somewhere, or is reported to have said, “There is something in
every man’s heart, that, if you knew it, would make you hate him.” What
Goethe said, still more what Goethe is reported to have said, is never
to be taken quite literally. No comprehensive genius--genius at once
poet and thinker--ever can be so taken. The sun shines on a dunghill.
But the sun has no predilection for a dunghill. It only comprehends a
dunghill as it does a rose. Still Kenelm had always regarded that loose
ray from Goethe’s prodigal orb with an abhorrence most unphilosophical
for a philosopher so young as generally to take upon oath any words
of so great a master. Kenelm thought that the root of all private
benevolence, of all enlightened advance in social reform, lay in the
adverse theorem,--that in every man’s nature there lies a something
that, could we get at it, cleanse it, polish it, render it visibly clear
to our eyes, would make us love him. And in this spontaneous, uncultured
sympathy with the results of so many laborious struggles of his own
scholastic intellect against the dogma of the German giant, he felt as
if he had found a younger--true, but oh, how much more subduing, because
so much younger--sister of his own man’s soul. Then came, so strongly,
the sense of her sympathy with his own strange innermost self, which a
man will never feel more than once in his life with a daughter of
Eve, that he dared not trust himself to speak. He somewhat hurried his
leave-taking.

Passing in the rear of the garden towards the bridge which led to his
lodging, he found on the opposite bank, at the other end of the bridge,
Mr. Algernon Sidney Gale Jones peacefully angling for trout.

“Will you not try the stream to-day, sir? Take my rod.” Kenelm
remembered that Lily had called Izaak Walton’s book “a cruel one,” and
shaking his head gently, went his way into the house. There he seated
himself silently by the window, and looked towards the grassy lawn
and the dipping willows, and the gleam of the white walls through the
girdling trees, as he had looked the eve before.

“Ah!” he murmured at last, “if, as I hold, a man but tolerably good
does good unconsciously merely by the act of living,--if he can no more
traverse his way from the cradle to the grave, without letting fall,
as he passes, the germs of strength, fertility, and beauty, than can a
reckless wind or a vagrant bird, which, where it passes, leaves behind
it the oak, the corn-sheaf, or the flower,--ah, if that be so, how
tenfold the good must be, if the man find the gentler and purer
duplicate of his own being in that mysterious, undefinable union which
Shakspeares and day-labourers equally agree to call love; which Newton
never recognizes, and which Descartes (his only rival in the realms
of thought at once severe and imaginative) reduces into links of early
association, explaining that he loved women who squinted, because, when
he was a boy, a girl with that infirmity squinted at him from the other
side of his father’s garden-wall! Ah! be this union between man and
woman what it may; if it be really love, really the bond which embraces
the innermost and bettermost self of both,--how daily, hourly, momently,
should we bless God for having made it so easy to be happy and to be
good!”



CHAPTER VI.

THE dinner-party at Mr. Braefield’s was not quite so small as Kenelm
had anticipated. When the merchant heard from his wife that Kenelm
was coming, he thought it would be but civil to the young gentleman to
invite a few other persons to meet him.

“You see, my dear,” he said to Elsie, “Mrs. Cameron is a very good,
simple sort of woman, but not particularly amusing; and Lily, though a
pretty girl, is so exceedingly childish. We owe much, my sweet Elsie,
to this Mr. Chillingly,”--here there was a deep tone of feeling in his
voice and look,--“and we must make it as pleasant for him as we can.
I will bring down my friend Sir Thomas, and you ask Mr. Emlyn and his
wife. Sir Thomas is a very sensible man, and Emlyn a very learned one.
So Mr. Chillingly will find people worth talking to. By the by, when I
go to town I will send down a haunch of venison from Groves’s.”

So when Kenelm arrived, a little before six o’clock, he found in the
drawing-room the Rev. Charles Emlyn, vicar of Moleswich proper, with
his spouse, and a portly middle-aged man, to whom, as Sir Thomas Pratt,
Kenelm was introduced. Sir Thomas was an eminent city banker. The
ceremonies of introduction over, Kenelm stole to Elsie’s side.

“I thought I was to meet Mrs. Cameron. I don’t see her.”

“She will be here presently. It looks as if it might rain, and I have
sent the carriage for her and Lily. Ah, here they are!”

Mrs. Cameron entered, clothed in black silk. She always wore black; and
behind her came Lily, in the spotless colour that became her name;
no ornament, save a slender gold chain to which was appended a single
locket, and a single blush rose in her hair. She looked wonderfully
lovely; and with that loveliness there was a certain nameless air of
distinction, possibly owing to delicacy of form and colouring; possibly
to a certain grace of carriage, which was not without a something of
pride.

Mr. Braefield, who was a very punctual man, made a sign to his servant,
and in another moment or so dinner was announced. Sir Thomas, of course,
took in the hostess; Mr. Braefield, the vicar’s wife (she was a dean’s
daughter); Kenelm, Mrs. Cameron; and the vicar, Lily.

On seating themselves at the table Kenelm was on the left hand, next to
the hostess, and separated from Lily by Mrs. Cameron and Mr. Emlyn;
and when the vicar had said grace, Lily glanced behind his back and her
aunt’s at Kenelm (who did the same thing), making at him what the French
call a _moue_. The pledge to her had been broken. She was between two
men very much grown up,--the vicar and the host. Kenelm returned the
_moue_ with a mournful smile and an involuntary shrug.

All was silent till, after his soup and his first glass of sherry, Sir
Thomas began,--

“I think, Mr. Chillingly, we have met before, though I had not the
honour then of making your acquaintance.” Sir Thomas paused before he
added, “Not long ago; the last State ball at Buckingham Palace.”

Kenelm bent his head acquiescingly. He had been at that ball.

“You were talking with a very charming woman,--a friend of mine,--Lady
Glenalvon.”

(Sir Thomas was Lady Glenalvon’s banker.)

“I remember perfectly,” said Kenelm. “We were seated in the picture
gallery. You came to speak to Lady Glenalvon, and I yielded to you my
place on the settee.”

“Quite true; and I think you joined a young lady, very handsome,--the
great heiress, Miss Travers.”

Kenelm again bowed, and, turning away as politely as he could, addressed
himself to Mrs. Cameron. Sir Thomas, satisfied that he had impressed
on his audience the facts of his friendship with Lady Glenalvon and his
attendance at the court ball, now directed his conversational powers
towards the vicar, who, utterly foiled in the attempt to draw out
Lily, met the baronet’s advances with the ardour of a talker too long
suppressed. Kenelm continued, unmolested, to ripen his acquaintance with
Mrs. Cameron. She did not, however, seem to lend a very attentive ear to
his preliminary commonplace remarks about scenery or weather, but at his
first pause, said,--

“Sir Thomas spoke about a Miss Travers: is she related to a gentleman
who was once in the Guards, Leopold Travers?”

“She is his daughter. Did you ever know Leopold Travers?”

“I have heard him mentioned by friends of mine long ago,--long ago,”
 replied Mrs. Cameron with a sort of weary languor, not unwonted, in her
voice and manner; and then, as if dismissing the bygone reminiscence
from her thoughts, changed the subject.

“Lily tells me, Mr. Chillingly, that you said you were staying at Mr.
Jones’s, Cromwell Lodge. I hope you are made comfortable there.”

“Very. The situation is singularly pleasant.”

“Yes, it is considered the prettiest spot on the brook-side, and used to
be a favourite resort for anglers; but the trout, I believe, are growing
scarce; at least, now that the fishing in the Thames is improved, poor
Mr. Jones complains that his old lodgers desert him. Of course you took
the rooms for the sake of the fishing. I hope the sport may be better
than it is said to be.”

“It is of little consequence to me: I do not care much about fishing;
and since Miss Mordaunt calls the book which first enticed me to take
to it ‘a cruel one,’ I feel as if the trout had become as sacred as
crocodiles were to the ancient Egyptians.”

“Lily is a foolish child on such matters. She cannot bear the thought of
giving pain to any dumb creature; and just before our garden there are a
few trout which she has tamed. They feed out of her hand; she is always
afraid they will wander away and get caught.”

“But Mr. Melville is an angler?”

“Several years ago he would sometimes pretend to fish, but I believe
it was rather an excuse for lying on the grass and reading ‘the cruel
book,’ or perhaps, rather, for sketching. But now he is seldom here till
autumn, when it grows too cold for such amusement.”

Here Sir Thomas’s voice was so loudly raised that it stopped the
conversation between Kenelm and Mrs. Cameron. He had got into some
question of politics on which he and the vicar did not agree, and
the discussion threatened to become warm, when Mrs. Braefield, with
a woman’s true tact, broached a new topic, in which Sir Thomas was
immediately interested, relating to the construction of a conservatory
for orchids that he meditated adding to his country-house, and in
which frequent appeal was made to Mrs. Cameron, who was considered an
accomplished florist, and who seemed at some time or other in her life
to have acquired a very intimate acquaintance with the costly family of
orchids.

When the ladies retired Kenelm found himself seated next to Mr. Emlyn,
who astounded him by a complimentary quotation from one of his own
Latin prize poems at the university, hoped he would make some stay at
Moleswich, told him of the principal places in the neighbourhood worth
visiting, and offered him the run of his library, which he flattered
himself was rather rich, both in the best editions of Greek and Latin
classics and in early English literature. Kenelm was much pleased with
the scholarly vicar, especially when Mr. Emlyn began to speak about Mrs.
Cameron and Lily. Of the first he said, “She is one of those women in
whom quiet is so predominant that it is long before one can know what
undercurrents of good feeling flow beneath the unruffled surface.
I wish, however, she was a little more active in the management and
education of her niece,--a girl in whom I feel a very anxious interest,
and whom I doubt if Mrs. Cameron understands. Perhaps, however, only
a poet, and a very peculiar sort of poet, can understand her: Lily
Mordaunt is herself a poem.”

“I like your definition of her,” said Kenelm. “There is certainly
something about her which differs much from the prose of common life.”

“You probably know Wordsworth’s lines:


  “‘... and she shall lean her ear
   In many a secret place
   Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
   And beauty, born of murmuring sound,
   Shall pass into her face.’


“They are lines that many critics have found unintelligible; but Lily
seems like the living key to them.”

Kenelm’s dark face lighted up, but he made no answer.

“Only,” continued Mr. Emlyn, “how a girl of that sort, left wholly to
herself, untrained, undisciplined, is to grow up into the practical uses
of womanhood, is a question that perplexes and saddens me.”

“Any more wine?” asked the host, closing a conversation on commercial
matters with Sir Thomas. “No?--shall we join the ladies?”



CHAPTER VII.

THE drawing-room was deserted; the ladies were in the garden. As Kenelm
and Mr. Emlyn walked side by side towards the group (Sir Thomas and Mr.
Braefield following at a little distance), the former asked, somewhat
abruptly, “What sort of man is Miss Cameron’s guardian, Mr. Melville?”

“I can scarcely answer that question. I see little of him when he comes
here. Formerly, he used to run down pretty often with a harum-scarum
set of young fellows, quartered at Cromwell Lodge,--Grasmere had no
accommodation for them,--students in the Academy, I suppose. For some
years he has not brought those persons, and when he does come himself it
is but for a few days. He has the reputation of being very wild.”

Further conversation was here stopped. The two men, while they thus
talked, had been diverging from the straight way across the lawn towards
the ladies, turning into sequestered paths through the shrubbery; now
they emerged into the open sward, just before a table, on which coffee
was served, and round which all the rest of the party were gathered.

“I hope, Mr. Emlyn,” said Elsie’s cheery voice, “that you have dissuaded
Mr. Chillingly from turning Papist. I am sure you have taken time enough
to do so.”

Mr. Emlyn, Protestant every inch of him, slightly recoiled from Kenelm’s
side. “Do you meditate turning--” He could not conclude the sentence.

“Be not alarmed, my dear sir. I did but own to Mrs. Braefield that I
had paid a visit to Oxford in order to confer with a learned man on
a question that puzzled me, and as abstract as that feminine pastime,
theology, is now-a-days. I cannot convince Mrs. Braefield that Oxford
admits other puzzles in life than those which amuse the ladies.” Here
Kenelm dropped into a chair by the side of Lily.

Lily half turned her back to him.

“Have I offended again?”

Lily shrugged her shoulders slightly and would not answer.

“I suspect, Miss Mordaunt, that among your good qualities, nature has
omitted one; the bettermost self within you should replace it.”

Lily here abruptly turned to him her front face: the light of the skies
was becoming dim, but the evening star shone upon it.

“How! what do you mean?”

“Am I to answer politely or truthfully?”

“Truthfully! Oh, truthfully! What is life without truth?”

“Even though one believes in fairies?”

“Fairies are truthful, in a certain way. But you are not truthful. You
were not thinking of fairies when you--”

“When I what?”

“Found fault with me.”

“I am not sure of that. But I will translate to you my thoughts, so far
as I can read them myself, and to do so I will resort to the fairies.
Let us suppose that a fairy has placed her changeling into the cradle of
a mortal: that into the cradle she drops all manner of fairy gifts which
are not bestowed on mere mortals; but that one mortal attribute she
forgets. The changeling grows up; she charms those around her: they
humour, and pet, and spoil her. But there arises a moment in which the
omission of the one mortal gift is felt by her admirers and friends.
Guess what that is.”

Lily pondered. “I see what you mean; the reverse of truthfulness,
politeness.”

“No, not exactly that, though politeness slides into it unawares: it is
a very humble quality, a very unpoetic quality; a quality that many dull
people possess; and yet without it no fairy can fascinate mortals, when
on the face of the fairy settles the first wrinkle. Can you not guess it
now?”

“No: you vex me; you provoke me;” and Lily stamped her foot petulantly,
as in Kenelm’s presence she had stamped it once before. “Speak plainly,
I insist.”

“Miss Mordaunt, excuse me: I dare not,” said Kenelm, rising with a sort
of bow one makes to the Queen; and he crossed over to Mrs. Braefield.

Lily remained, still pouting fiercely.

Sir Thomas took the chair Kenelm had vacated.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE hour for parting came. Of all the guests, Sir Thomas alone stayed
at the house a guest for the night. Mr. and Mrs. Emlyn had their own
carriage. Mrs. Braefield’s carriage came to the door for Mrs. Cameron
and Lily.

Said Lily, impatiently and discourteously, “Who would not rather walk on
such a night?” and she whispered to her aunt.

Mrs. Cameron, listening to the whisper and obedient to every whim
of Lily’s, said, “You are too considerate, dear Mrs. Braefield; Lily
prefers walking home; there is no chance of rain now.”

Kenelm followed the steps of the aunt and niece, and soon overtook them
on the brook-side.

“A charming night, Mr. Chillingly,” said Mrs. Cameron.

“An English summer night; nothing like it in such parts of the world as
I have visited. But, alas! of English summer nights there are but few.”

“You have travelled much abroad?”

“Much, no, a little; chiefly on foot.”

Lily hitherto had not said a word, and had been walking with downcast
head. Now she looked up and said, in the mildest and most conciliatory
of human voices,--

“You have been abroad;” then, with an acquiescence in the manners of
the world which to him she had never yet manifested, she added his
name, “Mr. Chillingly,” and went on, more familiarly. “What a breadth
of meaning the word ‘abroad’ conveys! Away, afar from one’s self, from
one’s everyday life. How I envy you! you have been abroad: so has Lion”
 (here drawing herself up), “I mean my guardian, Mr. Melville.”

“Certainly, I have been abroad, but afar from myself--never. It is an
old saying,--all old sayings are true; most new sayings are false,--a
man carries his native soil at the sole of his foot.”

Here the path somewhat narrowed. Mrs. Cameron went on first, Kenelm and
Lily behind; she, of course, on the dry path, he on the dewy grass.

She stopped him. “You are walking in the wet, and with those thin
shoes.” Lily moved instinctively away from the dry path.

Homely though that speech of Lily’s be, and absurd as said by a fragile
girl to a gladiator like Kenelm, it lit up a whole world of womanhood:
it showed all that undiscoverable land which was hidden to the learned
Mr. Emlyn, all that land which an uncomprehended girl seizes and reigns
over when she becomes wife and mother.

At that homely speech, and that impulsive movement, Kenelm halted, in
a sort of dreaming maze. He turned timidly, “Can you forgive me for my
rude words? I presumed to find fault with you.”

“And so justly. I have been thinking over all you said, and I feel you
were so right; only I still do not quite understand what you meant by
the quality for mortals which the fairy did not give to her changeling.”

“If I did not dare say it before, I should still less dare to say it
now.”

“Do.” There was no longer the stamp of the foot, no longer the flash
from her eyes, no longer the wilfulness which said, “I insist;”--

“Do;” soothingly, sweetly, imploringly.

Thus pushed to it, Kenelm plucked up courage, and not trusting himself
to look at Lily, answered brusquely,--

“The quality desirable for men, but more essential to women in
proportion as they are fairy-like, though the tritest thing possible, is
good temper.”

Lily made a sudden bound from his side, and joined her aunt, walking
through the wet grass.

When they reached the garden-gate, Kenelm advanced and opened it. Lily
passed him by haughtily; they gained the cottage-door.

“I don’t ask you in at this hour,” said Mrs. Cameron. “It would be but a
false compliment.”

Kenelm bowed and retreated. Lily left her aunt’s side, and came towards
him, extending her hand.

“I shall consider your words, Mr. Chillingly,” she said, with a
strangely majestic air. “At present I think you are not right. I am not
ill-tempered; but--” here she paused, and then added with a loftiness
of mien which, had she not been so exquisitely pretty, would have been
rudeness--“in any case I forgive you.”



CHAPTER IX.

THERE were a good many pretty villas in the outskirts of Moleswich, and
the owners of them were generally well off, and yet there was little of
what is called visiting society; owing perhaps to the fact that there
not being among these proprietors any persons belonging to what is
commonly called “the aristocratic class,” there was a vast deal of
aristocratic pretension. The family of Mr. A-----, who had enriched
himself as a stock-jobber, turned up its nose at the family of Mr.
B-----, who had enriched himself still more as a linen-draper, while the
family of Mr. B----- showed a very cold shoulder to the family of Mr.
C-----, who had become richer than either of them as a pawnbroker,
and whose wife wore diamonds, but dropped her h’s. England would be a
community so aristocratic that there would be no living in it, if one
could exterminate what is now called “aristocracy.” The Braefields were
the only persons who really drew together the antagonistic atoms of the
Moleswich society, partly because they were acknowledged to be the first
persons there, in right not only of old settlement (the Braefields had
held Braefieldville for four generations), but of the wealth derived
from those departments of commercial enterprise which are recognized as
the highest, and of an establishment considered to be the most elegant
in the neighbourhood; principally because Elsie, while exceedingly
genial and cheerful in temper, had a certain power of will (as her
runaway folly had manifested), and when she got people together
compelled them to be civil to each other. She had commenced this
gracious career by inaugurating children’s parties, and when the
children became friends the parents necessarily grew closer together.
Still her task had only recently begun, and its effects were not in
full operation. Thus, though it became known at Moleswich that a young
gentleman, the heir to a baronetcy and a high estate, was sojourning at
Cromwell Lodge, no overtures were made to him on the part of the A’s,
B’s, and C’s. The vicar, who called on Kenelm the day after the dinner
at Braefieldville, explained to him the social conditions of the place.
“You understand,” said he, “that it will be from no want of courtesy on
the part of my neighbours if they do not offer you any relief from
the pleasures of solitude. It will be simply because they are shy, not
because they are uncivil. And, it is this consideration that makes
me, at the risk of seeming too forward, entreat you to look into the
vicarage any morning or evening on which you feel tired of your own
company; suppose you drink tea with us this evening,--you will find a
young lady whose heart you have already won.”

“Whose heart I have won!” faltered Kenelm, and the warm blood rushed to
his cheek.

“But,” continued the vicar, smiling, “she has no matrimonial designs on
you at present. She is only twelve years old,--my little girl Clemmy.”

“Clemmy!--she is your daughter? I did not know that. I very gratefully
accept your invitation.”

“I must not keep you longer from your amusement. The sky is just clouded
enough for sport. What fly do you use?”

“To say truth, I doubt if the stream has much to tempt me in the way of
trout, and I prefer rambling about the lanes and by-paths to


 “‘The noiseless angler’s solitary stand.’

“I am an indefatigable walker, and the home scenery round the place has
many charms for me. Besides,” added Kenelm, feeling conscious that he
ought to find some more plausible excuse than the charms of home scenery
for locating himself long in Cromwell Lodge, “besides, I intend to
devote myself a good deal to reading. I have been very idle of late, and
the solitude of this place must be favourable to study.”

“You are not intended, I presume, for any of the learned professions?”

“The learned professions,” replied Kenelm, “is an invidious form of
speech that we are doing our best to eradicate from the language.
All professions now-a-days are to have much about the same amount of
learning. The learning of the military profession is to be levelled
upwards, the learning of the scholastic to be levelled downwards.
Cabinet ministers sneer at the uses of Greek and Latin. And even
such masculine studies as Law and Medicine are to be adapted to the
measurements of taste and propriety in colleges for young ladies. No,
I am not intended for any profession; but still an ignorant man like
myself may not be the worse for a little book-reading now and then.”

“You seem to be badly provided with books here,” said the vicar,
glancing round the room, in which, on a table in the corner, lay
half-a-dozen old-looking volumes, evidently belonging not to the lodger
but to the landlord. “But, as I before said, my library is at your
service. What branch of reading do you prefer?”

Kenelm was, and looked, puzzled. But after a pause he answered:

“The more remote it be from the present day, the better for me. You said
your collection was rich in mediaeval literature. But the Middle
Ages are so copied by the modern Goths, that I might as well read
translations of Chaucer or take lodgings in Wardour Street. If you have
any books about the manners and habits of those who, according to
the newest idea in science, were our semi-human progenitors in the
transition state between a marine animal and a gorilla, I should be very
much edified by the loan.”

“Alas,” said Mr. Emlyn, laughing, “no such books have been left to us.”

“No such books? You must be mistaken. There must be plenty of them
somewhere. I grant all the wonderful powers of invention bestowed on
the creators of poetic romance; still not the sovereign masters in that
realm of literature--not Scott, not Cervantes, not Goethe, not even
Shakspeare--could have presumed to rebuild the past without such
materials as they found in the books that record it. And though I, no
less cheerfully, grant that we have now living among us a creator of
poetic romance immeasurably more inventive than they,--appealing to our
credulity in portents the most monstrous, with a charm of style the
most conversationally familiar,--still I cannot conceive that even that
unrivalled romance-writer can so bewitch our understandings as to make
us believe that, if Miss Mordaunt’s cat dislikes to wet her feet, it is
probably because in the prehistoric age her ancestors lived in the dry
country of Egypt; or that when some lofty orator, a Pitt or a Gladstone,
rebuts with a polished smile which reveals his canine teeth the rude
assault of an opponent, he betrays his descent from a ‘semi-human
progenitor’ who was accustomed to snap at his enemy. Surely, surely
there must be some books still extant written by philosophers before the
birth of Adam, in which there is authority, even though but in mythic
fable, for such poetic inventions. Surely, surely some early chroniclers
must depose that they saw, saw with their own eyes, the great gorillas
who scratched off their hairy coverings to please the eyes of the young
ladies of their species, and that they noted the gradual metamorphosis
of one animal into another. For, if you tell me that this illustrious
romance-writer is but a cautious man of science, and that we must accept
his inventions according to the sober laws of evidence and fact, there
is not the most incredible ghost story which does not better satisfy the
common sense of a sceptic. However, if you have no such books, lend
me the most unphilosophical you possess,--on magic, for instance,--the
philosopher’s stone”--

“I have some of them,” said the vicar, laughing; “you shall choose for
yourself.”

“If you are going homeward, let me accompany you part of the way: I
don’t yet know where the church and the vicarage are, and I ought to
know before I come in the evening.”

Kenelm and the vicar walked side by side, very sociably, across the
bridge and on the side of the rivulet on which stood Mrs. Cameron’s
cottage. As they skirted the garden pale at the rear of the cottage,
Kenelm suddenly stopped in the middle of some sentence which had
interested Mr. Emlyn, and as suddenly arrested his steps on the turf
that bordered the lane. A little before him stood an old peasant woman,
with whom Lily, on the opposite side of the garden pale, was conversing.
Mr. Emlyn did not at first see what Kenelm saw; turning round rather
to gaze on his companion, surprised by his abrupt halt and silence. The
girl put a small basket into the old woman’s hand, who then dropped a
low curtsy, and uttered low a “God bless you.” Low though it was, Kenelm
overheard it, and said abstractedly to Mr. Emlyn, “Is there a greater
link between this life and the next than God’s blessing on the young,
breathed from the lips of the old?”



CHAPTER X.

“AND how is your good man, Mrs. Haley?” said the vicar, who had now
reached the spot on which the old woman stood,--with Lily’s fair face
still bended down to her,--while Kenelm slowly followed him.

“Thank you kindly, sir, he is better; out of his bed now. The young lady
has done him a power of good--”

“Hush!” said Lily, colouring. “Make haste home now; you must not keep
him waiting for his dinner.”

The old woman again curtsied, and went off at a brisk pace.

“Do you know, Mr. Chillingly,” said Mr. Emlyn, “that Miss Mordaunt is
the best doctor in the place? Though if she goes on making so many cures
she will find the number of her patients rather burdensome.”

“It was only the other day,” said Lily, “that you scolded me for the
best cure I have yet made.”

“I?--Oh! I remember; you led that silly child Madge to believe that
there was a fairy charm in the arrowroot you sent her. Own you deserved
a scolding there.”

“No, I did not. I dressed the arrowroot, and am I not Fairy? I have just
got such a pretty note from Clemmy, Mr. Emlyn, asking me to come up this
evening and see her new magic lantern. Will you tell her to expect me?
And, mind, no scolding.”

“And all magic?” said Mr. Emlyn; “be it so.”

Lily and Kenelm had not hitherto exchanged a word. She had replied with
a grave inclination of her head to his silent bow. But now she turned to
him shyly and said, “I suppose you have been fishing all the morning?”

“No; the fishes hereabout are under the protection of a Fairy,--whom I
dare not displease.”

Lily’s face brightened, and she extended her hand to him over the
palings. “Good-day; I hear aunty’s voice: those dreadful French verbs!”

She disappeared among the shrubs, amid which they heard the thrill of
her fresh young voice singing to herself.

“That child has a heart of gold,” said Mr. Emlyn, as the two men walked
on. “I did not exaggerate when I said she was the best doctor in the
place. I believe the poor really do believe that she is a fairy. Of
course we send from the vicarage to our ailing parishioners who require
it, food and wine; but it never seems to do them the good that her
little dishes made by her own tiny hands do; and I don’t know if you
noticed the basket that old woman took away,--Miss Lily taught Will
Somers to make the prettiest little baskets; and she puts her jellies or
other savouries into dainty porcelain gallipots nicely fitted into the
baskets, which she trims with ribbons. It is the look of the thing that
tempts the appetite of the invalids, and certainly the child may well be
called Fairy at present; but I wish Mrs. Cameron would attend a little
more strictly to her education. She can’t be a fairy forever.”

Kenelm sighed, but made no answer.

Mr. Emlyn then turned the conversation to erudite subjects, and so they
came in sight of the town, when the vicar stopped and pointed towards
the church, of which the spire rose a little to the left, with two aged
yew-trees half shadowing the burial-ground, and in the rear a glimpse of
the vicarage seen amid the shrubs of its garden ground.

“You will know your way now,” said the vicar; “excuse me if I quit you:
I have a few visits to make; among others, to poor Haley, husband to the
old woman you saw. I read to him a chapter in the Bible every day; yet
still I fancy that he believes in fairy charms.”

“Better believe too much, than too little,” said Kenelm; and he turned
aside into the village and spent half-an-hour with Will, looking at the
pretty baskets Lily had taught Will to make. Then, as he went slowly
homeward, he turned aside into the churchyard.

The church, built in the thirteenth century, was not large, but it
probably sufficed for its congregation, since it betrayed no signs of
modern addition; restoration or repair it needed not. The centuries had
but mellowed the tints of its solid walls, as little injured by the huge
ivy stems that shot forth their aspiring leaves to the very summit of
the stately tower as by the slender roses which had been trained
to climb up a foot or so of the massive buttresses. The site of the
burial-ground was unusually picturesque: sheltered towards the north by
a rising ground clothed with woods, sloping down at the south towards
the glebe pasture-grounds through which ran the brooklet, sufficiently
near for its brawling gurgle to be heard on a still day. Kenelm sat
himself on an antique tomb, which was evidently appropriated to some one
of higher than common rank in bygone days, but on which the sculpture
was wholly obliterated.

The stillness and solitude of the place had their charms for his
meditative temperament; and he remained there long, forgetful of time,
and scarcely hearing the boom of the clock that warned him of its lapse.

When suddenly, a shadow--the shadow of a human form--fell on the grass
on which his eyes dreamily rested. He looked up with a start, and beheld
Lily standing before him mute and still. Her image was so present in his
thoughts at the moment that he felt a thrill of awe, as if the thoughts
had conjured up her apparition. She was the first to speak.

“You here, too?” she said very softly, almost whisperingly. “Too!”
 echoed Kenelm, rising; “too! ‘Tis no wonder that I, a stranger to
the place, should find my steps attracted towards its most venerable
building. Even the most careless traveller, halting at some remote
abodes of the living, turns aside to gaze on the burial-ground of the
dead. But my surprise is that you, Miss Mordaunt, should be attracted
towards the same spot.”

“It is my favourite spot,” said Lily, “and always has been. I have sat
many an hour on that tombstone. It is strange to think that no one knows
who sleeps beneath it. The ‘Guide Book to Moleswich,’ though it gives
the history of the church from the reign in which it was first built,
can only venture a guess that this tomb, the grandest and oldest in the
burial-ground, is tenanted by some member of a family named Montfichet,
that was once very powerful in the county, and has become extinct since
the reign of Henry VI. But,” added Lily, “there is not a letter of the
name Montfichet left. I found out more than any one else has done; I
learned black-letter on purpose; look here,” and she pointed to a small
spot in which the moss had been removed. “Do you see those figures?
are they not XVIII? and look again, in what was once the line above
the figures, ELE. It must have been an Eleanor, who died at the age of
eighteen--”

“I rather think it more probable that the figures refer to the date
of the death, 1318 perhaps; and so far as I can decipher black-letter,
which is more in my father’s line than mine, I think it is AL, not EL,
and that it seems as if there had been a letter between L and the second
E, which is now effaced. The tomb itself is not likely to belong to any
powerful family then resident at the place. Their monuments, according
to usage, would have been within the church,--probably in their own
mortuary chapel.”

“Don’t try to destroy my fancy,” said Lily, shaking her head; “you
cannot succeed, I know her history too well. She was young, and some one
loved her, and built over her the finest tomb he could afford; and see
how long the epitaph must have been! how much it must have spoken in
her praise and of his grief. And then he went his way, and the tomb was
neglected, and her fate forgotten.”

“My dear Miss Mordaunt, this is indeed a wild romance to spin out of so
slender a thread. But even if true, there is no reason to think that a
life is forgotten, though a tomb be neglected.”

“Perhaps not,” said Lily, thoughtfully. “But when I am dead, if I can
look down, I think it would please me to see my grave not neglected by
those who had loved me once.”

She moved from him as she said this, and went to a little mound that
seemed not long since raised; there was a simple cross at the head and
a narrow border of flowers round it. Lily knelt beside the flowers and
pulled out a stray weed. Then she rose, and said to Kenelm, who had
followed, and now stood beside her,--

“She was the little grandchild of poor old Mrs. Hales. I could not cure
her, though I tried hard: she was so fond of me, and died in my arms.
No, let me not say ‘died,’--surely there is no such thing as dying. ‘Tis
but a change of life,--


   ‘Less than the void between two waves of air,
    The space between existence and a soul.’”


“Whose lines are those?” asked Kenelm.

“I don’t know; I learnt them from Lion. Don’t you believe them to be
true?”

“Yes. But the truth does not render the thought of quitting this scene
of life for another more pleasing to most of us. See how soft and gentle
and bright is all that living summer land beyond; let us find subject
for talk from that, not from the graveyard on which we stand.”

“But is there not a summer land fairer than that we see now; and which
we do see, as in a dream, best when we take subjects of talk from the
graveyard?” Without waiting for a reply, Lily went on. “I planted these
flowers: Mr. Emlyn was angry with me; he said it was ‘Popish.’ But he
had not the heart to have them taken up; I come here very often to see
to them. Do you think it wrong? Poor little Nell! she was so fond of
flowers. And the Eleanor in the great tomb, she too perhaps knew some
one who called her Nell; but there are no flowers round her tomb. Poor
Eleanor!”

She took the nosegay she wore on her bosom, and as she repassed the tomb
laid it on the mouldering stone.



CHAPTER XI.

THEY quitted the burial-ground, taking their way to Grasmere. Kenelm
walked by Lily’s side; not a word passed between them till they came in
sight of the cottage.

Then Lily stopped abruptly, and lifting towards him her charming face,
said,--

“I told you I would think over what you said to me last night. I have
done so, and feel I can thank you honestly. You were very kind: I never
before thought that I had a bad temper; no one ever told me so. But I
see now what you mean; sometimes I feel very quickly, and then I show
it. But how did I show it to you, Mr. Chillingly?”

“Did you not turn your back to me when I seated myself next you in
Mrs. Braefield’s garden, vouchsafing me no reply when I asked if I had
offended?”

Lily’s face became bathed in blushes, and her voice faltered, as she
answered,--

“I was not offended; I was not in a bad temper then: it was worse than
that.”

“Worse? what could it possibly be?”

“I am afraid it was envy.”

“Envy of what? of whom?”

“I don’t know how to explain; after all, I fear aunty is right, and the
fairy tales put very silly, very naughty thoughts into one’s head. When
Cinderella’s sisters went to the king’s ball, and Cinderella was left
alone, did not she long to go too? Did not she envy her sisters?”

“Ah! I understand now: Sir Charles spoke of the Court Ball.”

“And you were there talking with handsome ladies--and--oh! I was so
foolish and felt sore.”

“You, who when we first met wondered how people who could live in
the country preferred to live in towns, do then sometimes contradict
yourself, and sigh for the great world that lies beyond these quiet
water banks. You feel that you have youth and beauty, and wish to be
admired!”

“It is not that exactly,” said Lily, with a perplexed look in her
ingenuous countenance, “and in my better moments, when the ‘bettermost
self’ comes forth, I know that I am not made for the great world you
speak of. But you see--” Here she paused again, and as they had now
entered the garden, dropped wearily on a bench beside the path. Kenelm
seated himself there too, waiting for her to finish her broken sentence.

“You see,” she continued, looking down embarrassed, and describing vague
circles on the gravel with her fairy-like foot, “that at home, ever
since I can remember, they have treated me as if--well, as if I
were--what shall I say? the child of one of your great ladies. Even
Lion, who is so noble, so grand, seemed to think when I was a mere
infant that I was a little queen: once when I told a fib he did not
scold me; but I never saw him look so sad and so angry as when he said,
‘Never again forget that you are a lady.’ And, but I tire you--”

“Tire me, indeed! go on.”

“No, I have said enough to explain why I have at times proud thoughts,
and vain thoughts; and why, for instance, I said to myself, ‘Perhaps my
place of right is among those fine ladies whom he--’ but it is all over
now.” She rose hastily with a pretty laugh, and bounded towards Mrs.
Cameron, who was walking slowly along the lawn with a book in her hand.



CHAPTER XII.

IT was a very merry party at the vicarage that evening. Lily had not
been prepared to meet Kenelm there, and her face brightened wonderfully
as at her entrance he turned from the book-shelves to which Mr. Emlyn
was directing his attention. But instead of meeting his advance, she
darted off to the lawn, where Clemmy and several other children greeted
her with a joyous shout.

“Not acquainted with Macleane’s Juvenal?” said the reverend scholar;
“you will be greatly pleased with it; here it is,--a posthumous work,
edited by George Long. I can lend you Munro’s Lucretius, ‘69. Aha! we
have some scholars yet to pit against the Germans.”

“I am heartily glad to hear it,” said Kenelm. “It will be a long time
before they will ever wish to rival us in that game which Miss Clemmy
is now forming on the lawn, and in which England has recently acquired a
European reputation.”

“I don’t take you. What game?”

“Puss in the Corner. With your leave I will look out and see whether
it be a winning game for puss--in the long-run.” Kenelm joined the
children, amidst whom Lily seemed not the least childlike. Resisting all
overtures from Clemmy to join their play, he seated himself on a sloping
bank at a little distance,--an idle looker-on. His eye followed Lily’s
nimble movements, his ear drank in the music of her joyous laugh. Could
that be the same girl whom he had seen tending the flower-bed amid the
gravestones? Mrs. Emlyn came across the lawn and joined him, seating
herself also on the bank. Mrs. Emlyn was an exceedingly clever woman:
nevertheless she was not formidable,--on the contrary, pleasing; and
though the ladies in the neighbourhood said ‘she talked like a book,’
the easy gentleness of her voice carried off that offence.

“I suppose, Mr. Chillingly,” said she, “I ought to apologize for
my husband’s invitation to what must seem to you so frivolous an
entertainment as a child’s party. But when Mr. Emlyn asked you to come
to us this evening, he was not aware that Clemmy had also invited her
young friends. He had looked forward to rational conversation with you
on his own favourite studies.”

“It is not so long since I left school, but that I prefer a half holiday
to lessons, even from a tutor so pleasant as Mr. Emlyn,--


   “‘Ah, happy years,--once more who would not be a boy!’”


“Nay,” said Mrs. Emlyn, with a grave smile. “Who that had started so
fairly as Mr. Chillingly in the career of man would wish to go back and
resume a place among boys?”

“But, my dear Mrs. Emlyn, the line I quoted was wrung from the heart of
a man who had already outstripped all rivals in the race-ground he had
chosen, and who at that moment was in the very Maytime of youth and of
fame. And if such a man at such an epoch in his career could sigh to ‘be
once more a boy,’ it must have been when he was thinking of the boy’s
half holiday, and recoiling from the task work he was condemned to learn
as man.”

“The line you quote is, I think, from ‘Childe Harold,’ and surely
you would not apply to mankind in general the sentiment of a poet so
peculiarly self-reflecting (if I may use that expression), and in whom
sentiment is often so morbid.”

“You are right, Mrs. Emlyn,” said Kenelm, ingenuously. “Still a boy’s
half holiday is a very happy thing; and among mankind in general
there must be many who would be glad to have it back again,--Mr. Emlyn
himself, I should think.”

“Mr. Emlyn has his half holiday now. Do you not see him standing just
outside the window? Do you not hear him laughing? He is a child again
in the mirth of his children. I hope you will stay some time in the
neighbourhood; I am sure you and he will like each other. And it is such
a rare delight to him to get a scholar like yourself to talk to.”

“Pardon me, I am not a scholar; a very noble title that, and not to be
given to a lazy trifler on the surface of book-lore like myself.”

“You are too modest. My husband has a copy of your Cambridge prize
verses, and says ‘the Latinity of them is quite beautiful.’ I quote his
very words.”

“Latin verse-making is a mere knack, little more than a proof that one
had an elegant scholar for one’s tutor, as I certainly had. But it is by
special grace that a real scholar can send forth another real scholar,
and a Kennedy produce a Munro. But to return to the more interesting
question of half holidays; I declare that Clemmy is leading off your
husband in triumph. He is actually going to be Puss in the Corner.”

“When you know more of Charles,--I mean my husband,--you will discover
that his whole life is more or less of a holiday. Perhaps because he is
not what you accuse yourself of being: he is not lazy; he never wishes
to be a boy once more; and taskwork itself is holiday to him. He enjoys
shutting himself up in his study and reading; he enjoys a walk with
the children; he enjoys visiting the poor; he enjoys his duties as a
clergyman. And though I am not always contented for him, though I think
he should have had those honours in his profession which have been
lavished on men with less ability and less learning, yet he is never
discontented himself. Shall I tell you his secret?”

“Do.”

“He is a _Thanks-giving Man_. You, too, must have much to thank God
for, Mr. Chillingly; and in thanksgiving to God does there not blend
usefulness to man, and such sense of pastime in the usefulness as makes
each day a holiday?”

Kenelm looked up into the quiet face of this obscure pastor’s wife with
a startled expression in his own.

“I see, ma’am,” said he, “that you have devoted much thought to the
study of the aesthetical philosophy as expounded by German thinkers,
whom it is rather difficult to understand.”

“I, Mr. Chillingly! good gracious! No! What do you mean by your
aesthetical philosophy?”

“According to aesthetics, I believe man arrives at his highest state
of moral excellence when labour and duty lose all the harshness of
effort,--when they become the impulse and habit of life; when as the
essential attributes of the beautiful, they are, like beauty, enjoyed
as pleasure; and thus, as you expressed, each day becomes a holiday: a
lovely doctrine, not perhaps so lofty as that of the Stoics, but more
bewitching. Only, very few of us can practically merge our cares and our
worries into so serene an atmosphere.”

“Some do so without knowing anything of aesthetics and with no pretence
to be Stoics; but, then, they are Christians.”

“There are some such Christians, no doubt; but they are rarely to be met
with. Take Christendom altogether, and it appears to comprise the most
agitated population in the world; the population in which there is the
greatest grumbling as to the quantity of labour to be done, the
loudest complaints that duty instead of a pleasure is a very hard and
disagreeable struggle, and in which holidays are fewest and the moral
atmosphere least serene. Perhaps,” added Kenelm, with a deeper shade of
thought on his brow, “it is this perpetual consciousness of struggle;
this difficulty in merging toil into ease, or stern duty into placid
enjoyment; this refusal to ascend for one’s self into the calm of an air
aloof from the cloud which darkens, and the hail-storm which beats
upon, the fellow-men we leave below,--that makes the troubled life of
Christendom dearer to Heaven, and more conducive to Heaven’s design in
rendering earth the wrestling-ground and not the resting-place of man,
than is that of the Brahmin, ever seeking to abstract himself from
the Christian’s conflicts of action and desire, and to carry into its
extremest practice the aesthetic theory, of basking undisturbed in the
contemplation of the most absolute beauty human thought can reflect from
its idea of divine good!”

Whatever Mrs. Emlyn might have said in reply was interrupted by the rush
of the children towards her; they were tired of play, and eager for tea
and the magic lantern.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE room is duly obscured and the white sheet attached to the wall; the
children are seated, hushed, and awe-stricken. And Kenelm is placed next
to Lily.

The tritest things in our mortal experience are among the most
mysterious. There is more mystery in the growth of a blade of grass than
there is in the wizard’s mirror or the feats of a spirit medium. Most of
us have known the attraction that draws one human being to another, and
makes it so exquisite a happiness to sit quiet and mute by another’s
side; which stills for the moment the busiest thoughts in our brain, the
most turbulent desires in our heart, and renders us but conscious of a
present ineffable bliss. Most of us have known that. But who has ever
been satisfied with any metaphysical account of its why or wherefore? We
can but say it is love, and love at that earlier section of its history
which has not yet escaped from romance; but by what process that other
person has become singled out of the whole universe to attain such
special power over one is a problem that, though many have attempted to
solve it, has never attained to solution. In the dim light of the room
Kenelm could only distinguish the outlines of Lily’s delicate face, but
at each new surprise in the show, the face intuitively turned to his,
and once, when the terrible image of a sheeted ghost, pursuing a guilty
man, passed along the wall, she drew closer to him in her childish
fright, and by an involuntary innocent movement laid her hand on his. He
detained it tenderly, but, alas! it was withdrawn the next moment;
the ghost was succeeded by a couple of dancing dogs. And Lily’s ready
laugh--partly at the dogs, partly at her own previous alarm--vexed
Kenelm’s ear. He wished there had been a succession of ghosts, each more
appalling than the last.

The entertainment was over, and after a slight refreshment of cakes
and wine-and-water the party broke up; the children visitors went away
attended by servant-maids who had come for them. Mrs. Cameron and Lily
were to walk home on foot.

“It is a lovely night, Mrs. Cameron,” said Mr. Emlyn, “and I will attend
you to your gate.”

“Permit me also,” said Kenelm.

“Ay,” said the vicar, “it is your own way to Cromwell Lodge.”

The path led them through the churchyard as the nearest approach to the
brook-side. The moonbeams shimmered through the yew-trees and rested on
the old tomb; playing, as it were, round the flowers which Lily’s hand
had that day dropped upon its stone. She was walking beside Kenelm, the
elder two a few paces in front.

“How silly I was,” said she, “to be so frightened at the false ghost! I
don’t think a real one would frighten me, at least if seen here, in this
loving moonlight, and on God’s ground!”

“Ghosts, were they permitted to appear except in a magic lantern, could
not harm the innocent. And I wonder why the idea of their apparition
should always have been associated with such phantasies of horror,
especially by sinless children, who have the least reason to dread
them.”

“Oh, that is true,” cried Lily; “but even when we are grown up there
must be times in which we should so long to see a ghost, and feel what a
comfort, what a joy it would be.”

“I understand you. If some one very dear to us had vanished from our
life; if we felt the anguish of the separation so intensely as to efface
the thought that life, as you said so well, ‘never dies;’ well, yes,
then I can conceive that the mourner would yearn to have a glimpse of
the vanished one, were it but to ask the sole and only question he could
desire to put, ‘Art thou happy? May I hope that we shall meet again,
never to part,--never?’”

Kenelm’s voice trembled as he spoke, tears stood in his eyes. A
melancholy--vague, unaccountable, overpowering--passed across his heart,
as the shadow of some dark-winged bird passes over a quiet stream.

“You have never yet felt this?” asked Lily doubtingly, in a soft voice,
full of tender pity, stopping short and looking into his face.

“I? No. I have never yet lost one whom I so loved and so yearned to see
again. I was but thinking that such losses may befall us all ere we too
vanish out of sight.”

“Lily!” called forth Mrs. Cameron, halting at the gate of the
burial-ground.

“Yes, auntie?”

“Mr. Emlyn wants to know how far you have got in ‘Numa Pompilius.’ Come
and answer for yourself.”

“Oh, those tiresome grown-up people!” whispered Lily, petulantly, to
Kenelm. “I do like Mr. Emlyn; he is one of the very best of men. But
still he is grown up, and his ‘Numa Pompilius’ is so stupid.”

“My first French lesson-book. No, it is not stupid. Read on. It has
hints of the prettiest fairy tale I know, and of the fairy in especial
who bewitched my fancies as a boy.”

By this time they had gained the gate of the burial-ground.

“What fairy tale? what fairy?” asked Lily, speaking quickly.

“She was a fairy, though in heathen language she is called a
nymph,--Egeria. She was the link between men and gods to him she loved;
she belongs to the race of gods. True, she, too, may vanish, but she can
never die.”

“Well, Miss Lily,” said the vicar, “and how far in the book I lent
you,--‘Numa Pompilius.’”

“Ask me this day next week.”

“I will; but mind you are to translate as you go on. I must see the
translation.”

“Very well. I will do my best,” answered Lily meekly. Lily now walked
by the vicar’s side, and Kenelm by Mrs. Cameron’s, till they reached
Grasmere.

“I will go on with you to the bridge, Mr. Chillingly,” said the vicar,
when the ladies had disappeared within their garden. “We had little
time to look over my books, and, by the by, I hope you at least took the
Juvenal.”

“No, Mr. Emlyn; who can quit your house with an inclination for satire?
I must come some morning and select a volume from those works which give
pleasant views of life and bequeath favourable impressions of mankind.
Your wife, with whom I have had an interesting conversation, upon the
principles of aesthetical philosophy--”

“My wife! Charlotte! She knows nothing about aesthetical philosophy.”

“She calls it by another name, but she understands it well enough to
illustrate the principles by example. She tells me that labour and duty
are so taken up by you--


   ‘In den heitern Regionen
    Wo die reinen Formen wohnen,’


that they become joy and beauty,--is it so?”

“I am sure that Charlotte never said anything half so poetical. But, in
plain words, the days pass with me very happily. I should be ungrateful
if I were not happy. Heaven has bestowed on me so many sources of
love,--wife, children, books, and the calling which, when one quits
one’s own threshold, carries love along with it into the world beyond;
a small world in itself,--only a parish,--but then my calling links it
with infinity.”

“I see; it is from the sources of love that you draw the supplies for
happiness.”

“Surely; without love one may be good, but one could scarcely be happy.
No one can dream of a heaven except as the abode of love. What writer is
it who says, ‘How well the human heart was understood by him who first
called God by the name of Father’?”

“I do not remember, but it is beautifully said. You evidently do not
subscribe to the arguments in Decimus Roach’s ‘Approach to the Angels.’”

“Ah, Mr. Chillingly! your words teach me how lacerated a man’s happiness
may be if he does not keep the claws of vanity closely pared. I actually
feel a keen pang when you speak to me of that eloquent panegyric on
celibacy, ignorant that the only thing I ever published which I fancied
was not without esteem by intellectual readers is a Reply to ‘The
Approach to the Angels,’--a youthful book, written in the first year
of my marriage. But it obtained success: I have just revised the tenth
edition of it.”

“That is the book I will select from your library. You will be pleased
to hear that Mr. Roach, whom I saw at Oxford a few days ago, recants his
opinions, and, at the age of fifty, is about to be married; he begs me
to add, ‘not for his own personal satisfaction.’”

“Going to be married!--Decimus Roach! I thought my Reply would convince
him at last.”

“I shall look to your Reply to remove some lingering doubts in my own
mind.”

“Doubts in favour of celibacy?”

“Well, if not for laymen, perhaps for a priesthood.”

“The most forcible part of my Reply is on that head: read it
attentively. I think that, of all sections of mankind, the clergy are
those to whom, not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of the
community, marriage should be most commended. Why, sir,” continued the
vicar, warming up into oratorical enthusiasm, “are you not aware that
there are no homes in England from which men who have served and adorned
their country have issued forth in such prodigal numbers as those of
the clergy of our Church? What other class can produce a list so crowded
with eminent names as we can boast in the sons we have reared and sent
forth into the world? How many statesmen, soldiers, sailors, lawyers,
physicians, authors, men of science, have been the sons of us village
pastors? Naturally: for with us they receive careful education; they
acquire of necessity the simple tastes and disciplined habits which lead
to industry and perseverance; and, for the most part, they carry with
them throughout life a purer moral code, a more systematic reverence for
things and thoughts religious, associated with their earliest images
of affection and respect, than can be expected from the sons of laymen
whose parents are wholly temporal and worldly. Sir, I maintain that this
is a cogent argument, to be considered well by the nation, not only in
favour of a married clergy,--for, on that score, a million of Roaches
could not convert public opinion in this country,--but in favour of the
Church, the Established Church, which has been so fertile a nursery
of illustrious laymen; and I have often thought that one main and
undetected cause of the lower tone of morality, public and private,
of the greater corruption of manners, of the more prevalent scorn
of religion which we see, for instance, in a country so civilized as
France, is, that its clergy can train no sons to carry into the contests
of earth the steadfast belief in accountability to Heaven.”

“I thank you with a full heart,” said Kenelm. “I shall ponder well over
all that you have so earnestly said. I am already disposed to give up
all lingering crotchets as to a bachelor clergy; but, as a layman,
I fear that I shall never attain to the purified philanthropy of Mr.
Decimus Roach, and, if ever I do marry, it will be very much for my
personal satisfaction.”

Mr. Emlyn laughed good-humouredly, and, as they had now reached the
bridge, shook hands with Kenelm, and walked homewards, along the
brook-side and through the burial-ground, with the alert step and the
uplifted head of a man who has joy in life and admits of no fear in
death.



CHAPTER XIV.

FOR the next two weeks or so Kenelm and Lily met not indeed so often
as the reader might suppose, but still frequently; five times at Mrs.
Braefield’s, once again at the vicarage, and twice when Kenelm had
called at Grasmere; and, being invited to stay to tea at one of those
visits, he stayed the whole evening. Kenelm was more and more fascinated
in proportion as he saw more and more of a creature so exquisitely
strange to his experience. She was to him not only a poem, but a poem in
the Sibylline Books; enigmatical, perplexing conjecture, and somehow or
other mysteriously blending its interest with visions of the future.

Lily was indeed an enchanting combination of opposites rarely blended
into harmony. Her ignorance of much that girls know before they number
half her years was so relieved by candid, innocent simplicity, so
adorned by pretty fancies and sweet beliefs, and so contrasted and lit
up by gleams of a knowledge that the young ladies we call well educated
seldom exhibit,--knowledge derived from quick observation of external
Nature, and impressionable susceptibility to its varying and subtle
beauties. This knowledge had been perhaps first instilled, and
subsequently nourished, by such poetry as she had not only learned by
heart, but taken up as inseparable from the healthful circulation of her
thoughts; not the poetry of our own day,--most young ladies know enough
of that,--but selected fragments from the verse of old, most of them
from poets now little read by the young of either sex, poets dear to
spirits like Coleridge or Charles Lamb,--none of them, however, so dear
to her as the solemn melodies of Milton. Much of such poetry she had
never read in books: it had been taught her in childhood by her guardian
the painter. And with all this imperfect, desultory culture, there was
such dainty refinement in her every look and gesture, and such deep
woman-tenderness of heart. Since Kenelm had commended “Numa Pompilius”
 to her study, she had taken very lovingly to that old-fashioned romance,
and was fond of talking to him about Egeria as of a creature who had
really existed.

But what was the effect that he,--the first man of years correspondent
to her own with whom she had ever familiarly conversed,--what was the
effect that Kenelm Chillingly produced on the mind and the heart of
Lily?

This was, after all, the question that puzzled him the most,--not
without reason: it might have puzzled the shrewdest bystander. The
artless candour with which she manifested her liking to him was at
variance with the ordinary character of maiden love; it seemed more the
fondness of a child for a favourite brother. And it was this uncertainty
that, in his own thoughts, justified Kenelm for lingering on, and
believing that it was necessary to win, or at least to learn more of,
her secret heart before he could venture to disclose his own. He did not
flatter himself with the pleasing fear that he might be endangering
her happiness; it was only his own that was risked. Then, in all those
meetings, all those conversations to themselves, there had passed none
of the words which commit our destiny to the will of another. If in the
man’s eyes love would force its way, Lily’s frank, innocent gaze chilled
it back again to its inward cell. Joyously as she would spring
forward to meet him, there was no tell-tale blush on her cheek, no
self-betraying tremor in her clear, sweet-toned voice. No; there had not
yet been a moment when he could say to himself, “She loves me.” Often he
said to himself, “She knows not yet what love is.”

In the intervals of time not passed in Lily’s society, Kenelm would
take long rambles with Mr. Emlyn, or saunter into Mrs. Braefield’s
drawing-room. For the former he conceived a more cordial sentiment of
friendship than he entertained for any man of his own age,--a friendship
that admitted the noble elements of admiration and respect.

Charles Emlyn was one of those characters in which the colours appear
pale unless the light be brought very close to them, and then each
tint seems to change into a warmer and richer one. The manner which, at
first, you would call merely gentle, becomes unaffectedly genial;
the mind you at first might term inert, though well-informed, you now
acknowledge to be full of disciplined vigour. Emlyn was not, however,
without his little amiable foibles; and it was, perhaps, these that made
him lovable. He was a great believer in human goodness, and very easily
imposed upon by cunning appeals to “his well-known benevolence.” He
was disposed to overrate the excellence of all that he once took to his
heart. He thought he had the best wife in the world, the best children,
the best servants, the best beehive, the best pony, and the best
house-dog. His parish was the most virtuous, his church the most
picturesque, his vicarage the prettiest, certainly, in the whole
shire,--perhaps, in the whole kingdom. Probably it was this philosophy
of optimism which contributed to lift him into the serene realm of
aesthetic joy.

He was not without his dislikes as well as likings. Though a liberal
Churchman towards Protestant dissenters, he cherished the _odium
theologicum_ for all that savoured of Popery. Perhaps there was another
cause for this besides the purely theological one. Early in life a young
sister of his had been, to use his phrase, “secretly entrapped” into
conversion to the Roman Catholic faith, and had since entered a convent.
His affections had been deeply wounded by this loss to the range of
them. Mr. Emlyn had also his little infirmities of self-esteem rather
than of vanity. Though he had seen very little of any world beyond that
of his parish, he piqued himself on his knowledge of human nature and of
practical affairs in general. Certainly no man had read more about them,
especially in the books of the ancient classics. Perhaps it was owing
to this that he so little understood Lily,--a character to which the
ancient classics afforded no counterpart nor clue; and perhaps it was
this also that made Lily think him “so terribly grown up.” Thus, despite
his mild good-nature, she did not get on very well with him.

The society of this amiable scholar pleased Kenelm the more, because
the scholar evidently had not the remotest idea that Kenelm’s sojourn at
Cromwell Lodge was influenced by the vicinity to Grasmere. Mr. Emlyn was
sure that he knew human nature, and practical affairs in general, too
well to suppose that the heir to a rich baronet could dream of taking
for wife a girl without fortune or rank, the orphan ward of a low-born
artist only just struggling into reputation; or, indeed, that a
Cambridge prizeman, who had evidently read much on grave and dry
subjects, and who had no less evidently seen a great deal of polished
society, could find any other attraction in a very imperfectly-educated
girl, who tamed butterflies and knew no more than they did of
fashionable life, than Mr. Emlyn himself felt in the presence of a
pretty wayward innocent child, the companion and friend of his Clemmy.

Mrs. Braefield was more discerning; but she had a good deal of tact, and
did not as yet scare Kenelm away from her house by letting him see how
much she had discerned. She would not even tell her husband, who, absent
from the place on most mornings, was too absorbed in the cares of his
own business to interest himself much in the affairs of others.

Now Elsie, being still of a romantic turn of mind, had taken it into
her head that Lily Mordaunt, if not actually the princess to be found in
poetic dramas whose rank was for a while kept concealed, was yet one of
the higher-born daughters of the ancient race whose name she bore,
and in that respect no derogatory alliance for Kenelm Chillingly. A
conclusion she had arrived at from no better evidence than the well-bred
appearance and manners of the aunt, and the exquisite delicacy of the
niece’s form and features, with the undefinable air of distinction
which accompanied even her most careless and sportive moments. But Mrs.
Braefield also had the wit to discover that, under the infantine ways
and phantasies of this almost self-taught girl, there lay, as yet
undeveloped, the elements of a beautiful womanhood. So that altogether,
from the very day she first re-encountered Kenelm, Elsie’s thought had
been that Lily was the wife to suit him. Once conceiving that idea, her
natural strength of will made her resolve on giving all facilities to
carry it out silently and unobtrusively, and therefore skilfully.

“I am so glad to think,” she said one day, when Kenelm had joined her
walk through the pleasant shrubberies in her garden ground, “that you
have made such friends with Mr. Emlyn. Though all hereabouts like him so
much for his goodness, there are few who can appreciate his learning.
To you it must be a surprise as well as pleasure to find, in this quiet
humdrum place, a companion so clever and well-informed: it compensates
for your disappointment in discovering that our brook yields such bad
sport.”

“Don’t disparage the brook; it yields the pleasantest banks on which
to lie down under old pollard oaks at noon, or over which to saunter
at morn and eve. Where those charms are absent even a salmon could
not please. Yes; I rejoice to have made friends with Mr. Emlyn. I have
learned a great deal from him, and am often asking myself whether I
shall ever make peace with my conscience by putting what I have learned
into practice.”

“May I ask what special branch of learning is that?”

“I scarcely know how to define it. Suppose we call it ‘Worth-whileism.’
Among the New Ideas which I was recommended to study as those that must
govern my generation, the Not-worth-while Idea holds a very high rank;
and being myself naturally of calm and equable constitution, that new
idea made the basis of my philosophical system. But since I have become
intimate with Charles Emlyn I think there is a great deal to be said in
favour of Worth-whileism, old idea though it be. I see a man who, with
very commonplace materials for interest or amusement at his command,
continues to be always interested or generally amused; I ask myself why
and how? And it seems to me as if the cause started from fixed beliefs
which settle his relations with God and man, and that settlement he will
not allow any speculations to disturb. Be those beliefs questionable or
not by others, at least they are such as cannot displease a Deity, and
cannot fail to be kindly and useful to fellow-mortals. Then he plants
these beliefs on the soil of a happy and genial home, which tends to
confirm and strengthen and call them into daily practice; and when he
goes forth from home, even to the farthest verge of the circle that
surrounds it, he carries with him the home influences of kindliness
and use. Possibly my line of life may be drawn to the verge of a wider
circle than his; but so much the better for interest and amusement, if
it can be drawn from the same centre; namely, fixed beliefs daily warmed
into vital action in the sunshine of a congenial home.”

Mrs. Braefield listened to this speech with pleased attention, and as
it came to its close, the name of Lily trembled on her tongue, for she
divined that when he spoke of home Lily was in his thoughts; but she
checked the impulse, and replied by a generalized platitude.

“Certainly the first thing in life is to secure a happy and congenial
home. It must be a terrible trial for the best of us if we marry without
love.”

“Terrible, indeed, if the one loves and the other does not.”

“That can scarcely be your case, Mr. Chillingly, for I am sure you could
not marry where you did not love; and do not think I flatter you when I
say that a man far less gifted than you can scarcely fail to be loved by
the woman he wooes and wins.”

Kenelm, in this respect one of the modestest of human beings, shook his
head doubtingly, and was about to reply in self-disparagement, when,
lifting his eyes and looking round, he halted mute and still as if
rooted to the spot. They had entered the trellised circle through the
roses of which he had first caught sight of the young face that had
haunted him ever since.

“Ah!” he said abruptly; “I cannot stay longer here, dreaming away the
work-day hours in a fairy ring. I am going to town to-day by the next
train.”

“Yoa are coming back?”

“Of course,--this evening. I left no address at my lodgings in London.
There must be a large accumulation of letters; some, no doubt, from my
father and mother. I am only going for them. Good-by. How kindly you
have listened to me!”

“Shall we fix a day next week for seeing the remains of the old Roman
villa? I will ask Mrs. Cameron and her niece to be of the party.”

“Any day you please,” said Kenelm joyfully.



CHAPTER XV.

KENELM did indeed find a huge pile of letters and notes on reaching his
forsaken apartment in Mayfair; many of them merely invitations for days
long past, none of them of interest except two from Sir Peter, three
from his mother, and one from Tom Bowles.

Sir Peter’s were short. In the first he gently scolded Kenelm for going
away without communicating any address; and stated the acquaintance he
had formed with Gordon, the favourable impression that young gentleman
had made on him, the transfer of the L20,000 and the invitation given to
Gordon, the Traverses, and Lady Glenalvon. The second, dated much later,
noted the arrival of his invited guests, dwelt with warmth unusual to
Sir Peter on the attractions of Cecilia, and took occasion to refer,
not the less emphatically because as it were incidentally, to the sacred
promise which Kenelm had given him never to propose to a young lady
until the case had been submitted to the examination and received
the consent of Sir Peter. “Come to Exmundham, and if I do not give my
consent to propose to Cecilia Travers hold me a tyrant and rebel.”

Lady Chillingly’s letters were much longer. They dwelt more
complainingly on his persistence in eccentric habits; so exceedingly
unlike other people, quitting London at the very height of the season,
going without even a servant nobody knew where: she did not wish to
wound his feelings; but still those were not the ways natural to a young
gentleman of station. If he had no respect for himself, he ought to have
some consideration for his parents, especially his poor mother. She then
proceeded to comment on the elegant manners of Leopold Travers, and the
good sense and pleasant conversation of Chillingly Gordon, a young man
of whom any mother might be proud. From that subject she diverged to
mildly querulous references to family matters. Parson John had expressed
himself very rudely to Mr. Chillingly Gordon upon some book by a
foreigner,--Comte or Count, or some such name,--on which, so far as
she could pretend to judge, Mr. Gordon had uttered some very benevolent
sentiments about humanity, which, in the most insolent manner, Parson
John had denounced as an attack on religion. But really Parson John
was too High Church for her. Having thus disposed of Parson John, she
indulged some ladylike wailings on the singular costume of the three
Miss Chillinglys. They had been asked by Sir Peter, unknown to her--so
like him--to meet their guests; to meet Lady Glenalvon and Miss Travers,
whose dress was so perfect (here she described their dress); and they
came in pea-green with pelerines of mock blonde, and Miss Sally with
corkscrew ringlets and a wreath of jessamine, “which no girl after
eighteen would venture to wear.”

“But, my dear,” added her ladyship, “your poor father’s family are
certainly great oddities. I have more to put up with than any one knows.
I do my best to carry it off. I know my duties, and will do them.”

Family grievances thus duly recorded and lamented, Lady Chillingly
returned to her guests.

Evidently unconscious of her husband’s designs on Cecilia, she dismissed
her briefly: “A very handsome young lady, though rather too blonde for
her taste, and certainly with an air _distingue_.” Lastly, she enlarged
on the extreme pleasure she felt on meeting again the friend of her
youth, Lady Glenalvon.

“Not at all spoilt by the education of the great world, which, alas!
obedient to the duties of wife and mother, however little my sacrifices
are appreciated, I have long since relinquished. Lady Glenalvon suggests
turning that hideous old moat into a fernery,--a great improvement. Of
course your poor father makes objections.”

Tom’s letter was written on black-edged paper, and ran thus:--


DEAR SIR,--Since I had the honour to see you in London I have had a sad
loss: my poor uncle is no more. He died very suddenly after a hearty
supper. One doctor says it was apoplexy, another valvular disease of the
heart. He has left me his heir, after providing for his sister: no one
had an idea that he had saved so much money. I am quite a rich man now.
And I shall leave the veterinary business, which of late--since I
took to reading, as you kindly advised--is not much to my liking The
principal corn-merchant here has offered to take me into partnership;
and, from what I can see, it will be a very good thing and a great rise
in life. But, sir, I can’t settle to it at present; I can’t settle, as
I would wish to anything. I know you will not laugh at me when I say I
have a strange longing to travel for a while. I have been reading books
of travels, and they get into my head more than any other books. But I
don’t think I could leave the country with a contented heart till I have
had just another look at you know whom,--just to see her, and know she
is happy. I am sure I could shake hands with Will and kiss her little
one without a wrong thought. What do you say to that, dear sir? You
promised to write to me about her. But I have not heard from you. Susey,
the little girl with the flower-ball, has had a loss too: the poor old
man she lived with died within a few days of my dear uncle’s decease.
Mother moved here, as I think you know, when the forge at Graveleigh was
sold; and she is going to take Susey to live with her. She is quite fond
of Susey. Pray let me hear from you soon; and do, dear sir, give me your
advice about travelling--and about Her. You see I should like Her to
think of me more kindly when I am in distant parts.

   I remain, dear sir,

     Your grateful servant,

        T. BOWLES.

P.S.--Miss Travers has sent me Will’s last remittance. There is
very little owed me now; so they must be thriving. I hope she is not
overworked.


On returning by the train that evening, Kenelm went to the house of Will
Somers. The shop was already closed, but he was admitted by a trusty
servant-maid to the parlour, where he found them all at supper, except
indeed the baby, who had long since retired to the cradle, and the
cradle had been removed upstairs. Will and Jessie were very proud when
Kenelm invited himself to share their repast, which, though simple,
was by no means a bad one. When the meal was over and the supper things
removed, Kenelm drew his chair near to the glass door which led into a
little garden very neatly kept--for it was Will’s pride to attend to it
before he sat down to his more professional work. The door was open,
and admitted the coolness of the starlit air and the fragrance of the
sleeping flowers.

“You have a pleasant home here, Mrs. Somers.”

“We have, indeed, and know how to bless him we owe it to.”

“I am rejoiced to think that. How often when God designs a
special kindness to us He puts the kindness into the heart of a
fellow-man,--perhaps the last fellow-man we should have thought of; but
in blessing him we thank God who inspired him. Now, my dear friends, I
know that you all three suspect me of being the agent whom God chose for
His benefits. You fancy that it was from me came the loan which enabled
you to leave Graveleigh and settle here. You are mistaken,--you look
incredulous.”

“It could not be the Squire,” exclaimed Jessie. “Miss Travers assured
me that it was neither he nor herself. Oh, it must be you, sir. I beg
pardon, but who else could it be?”

“Your husband shall guess. Suppose, Will, that you had behaved ill
to some one who was nevertheless dear to you, and on thinking over it
afterwards felt very sorry and much ashamed of yourself, and suppose
that later you had the opportunity and the power to render a service to
that person, do you think you would do it?”

“I should be a bad man if I did not.”

“Bravo! And supposing that when the person you thus served came to know
it was you who rendered the service, he did not feel thankful, he did
not think it handsome of you, thus to repair any little harm he might
have done you before, but became churlish and sore and cross-grained,
and with a wretched false pride said that because he had offended you
once he resented your taking the liberty of befriending him now, would
you not think that person an ungrateful fellow; ungrateful not only to
you his fellow-man,--that is of less moment,--but ungrateful to the
God who put it into your heart to be His human agent in the benefit
received?”

“Well, sir, yes, certainly,” said Will, with all the superior refinement
of his intellect to that of Jessie, unaware of what Kenelm was driving
at; while Jessie, pressing her hands tightly together, turned pale,
and with a frightened hurried glance towards Will’s face, answered,
impulsively,--

“Oh, Mr. Chillingly, I hope you are not thinking, not speaking, of Mr.
Bowles?”

“Whom else should I think or speak of?”

Will rose nervously from his chair, all his features writhing.

“Sir, sir, this is a bitter blow,--very bitter, very.”

Jessie rushed to Will, flung her arms round him and sobbed. Kenelm
turned quietly to old Mrs. Somers, who had suspended the work on which
since supper she had been employed, knitting socks for the baby,--

“My dear Mrs. Somers, what is the good of being a grandmother and
knitting socks for baby grandchildren, if you cannot assure those silly
children of yours that they are too happy in each other to harbour any
resentment against a man who would have parted them, and now repents?”

Somewhat to Kenelm’s admiration, I dare not say surprise, old Mrs.
Somers, thus appealed to, rose from her seat, and, with a dignity of
thought or of feeling no one could have anticipated from the quiet
peasant woman, approached the wedded pair, lifted Jessie’s face with one
hand, laid the other on Will’s head, and said, “If you don’t long to see
Mr. Bowles again and say ‘The Lord bless you, sir!’ you don’t deserve
the Lord’s blessing upon you.” Therewith she went back to her seat, and
resumed her knitting.

“Thank Heaven, we have paid back the best part of the loan,” said Will,
in very agitated tones, “and I think, with a little pinching, Jessie,
and with selling off some of the stock, we might pay the rest; and
then,”--and then he turned to Kenelm,--“and then, sir, we will” (here a
gulp) “thank Mr. Bowles.”

“This don’t satisfy me at all, Will,” answered Kenelm; “and since I
helped to bring you two together, I claim the right to say I would never
have done so could I have guessed you could have trusted your wife so
little as to allow a remembrance of Mr. Bowles to be a thought of pain.
You did not feel humiliated when you imagined that it was to me you owed
some moneys which you have been honestly paying off. Well, then, I will
lend you whatever trifle remains to discharge your whole debts to Mr.
Bowles, so that you may sooner be able to say to him, ‘Thank you.’
But between you and me, Will, I think you will be a finer fellow and a
manlier fellow if you decline to borrow that trifle of me; if you feel
you would rather say ‘Thank you’ to Mr. Bowles, without the silly
notion that when you have paid him his money you owe him nothing for his
kindness.”

Will looked away irresolutely. Kenelm went on: “I have received a letter
from Mr. Bowles to-day. He has come into a fortune, and thinks of going
abroad for a time; but before he goes, he says he should like to shake
hands with Will, and be assured by Jessie that all his old rudeness is
forgiven. He had no notion that I should blab about the loan: he wished
that to remain always a secret. But between friends there need be no
secrets. What say you, Will? As head of this household, shall Mr. Bowles
be welcomed here as a friend or not?”

“Kindly welcome,” said old Mrs. Somers, looking up from the socks.

“Sir,” said Will, with sudden energy, “look here; you have never been in
love, I dare say. If you had, you would not be so hard on me. Mr. Bowles
was in love with my wife there. Mr. Bowles is a very fine man, and I am
a cripple.”

“Oh, Will! Will!” cried Jessie.

“But I trust my wife with my whole heart and soul; and, now that
the first pang is over, Mr. Bowles shall be, as mother says, kindly
welcome,--heartily welcome.”

“Shake hands. Now you speak like a man, Will. I hope to bring Bowles
here to supper before many days are over.”

And that night Kenelm wrote to Mr. Bowles:


MY DEAR TOM,--Come and spend a few days with me at Cromwell Lodge,
Moleswich. Mr. and Mrs. Somers wish much to see and to thank you. I
could not remain forever degraded in order to gratify your whim. They
would have it that I bought their shop, etc., and I was forced in
self-defence to say who it was. More on this and on travels when you
come.

   Your true friend,

     K. C.



CHAPTER XVI.

MRS. CAMERON was seated alone in her pretty drawing-room, with a book
lying open, but unheeded, on her lap. She was looking away from its
pages, seemingly into the garden without, but rather into empty space.

To a very acute and practised observer, there was in her countenance an
expression which baffled the common eye.

To the common eye it was simply vacant; the expression of a quiet,
humdrum woman, who might have been thinking of some quiet humdrum
household detail,--found that too much for her, and was now not thinking
at all.

But to the true observer, there were in that face indications of
a troubled past, still haunted with ghosts never to be laid at
rest,--indications, too, of a character in herself that had undergone
some revolutionary change; it had not always been the character of a
woman quiet and humdrum. The delicate outlines of the lip and nostril
evinced sensibility, and the deep and downward curve of it bespoke
habitual sadness. The softness of the look into space did not tell of
a vacant mind, but rather of a mind subdued and over-burdened by the
weight of a secret sorrow. There was also about her whole presence, in
the very quiet which made her prevalent external characteristic, the
evidence of manners formed in a high-bred society,--the society in which
quiet is connected with dignity and grace. The poor understood this
better than her rich acquaintances at Moleswich, when they said, “Mrs.
Cameron was every inch a lady.” To judge by her features she must once
have been pretty, not a showy prettiness, but decidedly pretty. Now,
as the features were small, all prettiness had faded away in cold gray
colourings, and a sort of tamed and slumbering timidity of aspect. She
was not only not demonstrative, but must have imposed on herself as a
duty the suppression of demonstration. Who could look at the formation
of those lips, and not see that they belonged to the nervous, quick,
demonstrative temperament? And yet, observing her again more closely,
that suppression of the constitutional tendency to candid betrayal of
emotion would the more enlist our curiosity or interest; because, if
physiognomy and phrenology have any truth in them, there was little
strength in her character. In the womanly yieldingness of the
short curved upper lip, the pleading timidity of the regard, the
disproportionate but elegant slenderness of the head between the ear
and the neck, there were the tokens of one who cannot resist the will,
perhaps the whim, of another whom she either loves or trusts.

The book open on her lap is a serious book on the doctrine of grace,
written by a popular clergyman of what is termed “the Low Church.” She
seldom read any but serious books, except where such care as she gave
to Lily’s education compelled her to read “Outlines of History and
Geography,” or the elementary French books used in seminaries for
young ladies. Yet if any one had decoyed Mrs. Cameron into familiar
conversation, he would have discovered that she must early have received
the education given to young ladies of station. She could speak
and write French and Italian as a native. She had read, and still
remembered, such classic authors in either language as are conceded to
the use of pupils by the well-regulated taste of orthodox governesses.
She had a knowledge of botany, such as botany was taught twenty years
ago. I am not sure that, if her memory had been fairly aroused, she
might not have come out strong in divinity and political economy, as
expounded by the popular manuals of Mrs. Marcet. In short, you could see
in her a thoroughbred English lady, who had been taught in a generation
before Lily’s, and immeasurably superior in culture to the ordinary run
of English young ladies taught nowadays. So, in what after all are very
minor accomplishments,--now made major accomplishments,--such as music,
it was impossible that a connoisseur should hear her play on the piano
without remarking, “That woman has had the best masters of her time.”
 She could only play pieces that belonged to her generation. She had
learned nothing since. In short, the whole intellectual culture had come
to a dead stop long years ago, perhaps before Lily was born.

Now, while she is gazing into space Mrs. Braefield is announced. Mrs.
Cameron does not start from revery. She never starts. But she makes a
weary movement of annoyance, resettles herself, and lays the serious
book on the sofa table. Elsie enters, young, radiant, dressed in all the
perfection of the fashion, that is, as ungracefully as in the eyes of an
artist any gentlewoman can be; but rich merchants who are proud of their
wives so insist, and their wives, in that respect, submissively obey
them.

The ladies interchange customary salutations, enter into the customary
preliminaries of talk, and after a pause Elsie begins in earnest.

“But sha’n’t I see Lily? Where is she?”

“I fear she has gone into the town. A poor little boy, who did our
errands, has met with an accident,--fallen from a cherry-tree.”

“Which he was robbing?”

“Probably.”

“And Lily has gone to lecture him?”

“I don’t know as to that; but he is much hurt, and Lily has gone to see
what is the matter with him.”

Mrs. Braefield, in her frank outspoken way,--“I don’t take much to girls
of Lily’s age in general, though I am passionately fond of children. You
know how I do take to Lily; perhaps because she is so like a child. But
she must be an anxious charge to you.”

Mrs. Cameron replied by an anxious “No; she is still a child, a very
good one; why should I be anxious?”

Mrs. Braefield, impulsively,--“Why, your child must now be eighteen.”

Mrs. Cameron,--“Eighteen--is it possible! How time flies! though in a
life so monotonous as mine, time does not seem to fly, it slips on
like the lapse of water. Let me think,--eighteen? No, she is but
seventeen,--seventeen last May.”

Mrs. Braefield,--“Seventeen! A very anxious age for a girl; an age in
which dolls cease and lovers begin.”

Mrs. Cameron, not so languidly, but still quietly,--“Lily never cared
much for dolls,--never much for lifeless pets; and as to lovers, she
does not dream of them.”

Mrs. Braefield, briskly,--“There is no age after six in which girls do
not dream of lovers. And here another question arises. When a girl so
lovely as Lily is eighteen next birthday, may not a lover dream of her?”

Mrs. Cameron, with that wintry cold tranquillity of manner, which
implies that in putting such questions an interrogator is taking a
liberty,--“As no lover has appeared, I cannot trouble myself about his
dreams.”

Said Elsie inly to herself, “This is the stupidest woman I ever met!”
 and aloud to Mrs. Cameron,--“Do you not think that your neighbour, Mr.
Chillingly, is a very fine young man?”

“I suppose he would be generally considered so. He is very tall.”

“A handsome face?”

“Handsome, is it? I dare say.”

“What does Lily say?”

“About what?”

“About Mr. Chillingly. Does she not think him handsome?”

“I never asked her.”

“My dear Mrs. Cameron, would it not be a very pretty match for Lily? The
Chillinglys are among the oldest families in Burke’s ‘Landed Gentry,’
and I believe his father, Sir Peter, has a considerable property.”

For the first time in this conversation Mrs. Cameron betrayed emotion.
A sudden flush overspread her countenance, and then left it paler
than before. After a pause she recovered her accustomed composure, and
replied, rudely,--

“It would be no friend to Lily who could put such notions into her
head; and there is no reason to suppose that they have entered into Mr.
Chillingly’s.”

“Would you be sorry if they did? Surely you would like your niece to
marry well, and there are few chances of her doing so at Moleswich.”

“Pardon me, Mrs. Braefield, but the question of Lily’s marriage I have
never discussed, even with her guardian. Nor, considering the childlike
nature of her tastes and habits, rather than the years she has numbered,
can I think the time has yet come for discussing it at all.”

Elsie, thus rebuked, changed the subject to some newspaper topic which
interested the public mind at the moment and very soon rose to depart.
Mrs. Cameron detained the hand that her visitor held out, and said in
low tones, which, though embarrassed, were evidently earnest, “My dear
Mrs. Braefield, let me trust to your good sense and the affection with
which you have honoured my niece not to incur the risk of unsettling
her mind by a hint of the ambitious projects for her future on which you
have spoken to me. It is extremely improbable that a young man of
Mr. Chillingly’s expectations would entertain any serious thoughts of
marrying out of his own sphere of life, and--”

“Stop, Mrs. Cameron, I must interrupt you. Lily’s personal attractions
and grace of manner would adorn any station; and have I not rightly
understood you to say that though her guardian, Mr. Melville, is, as we
all know, a man who has risen above the rank of his parents, your niece,
Miss Mordaunt, is like yourself, by birth a gentlewoman?”

“Yes, by birth a gentlewoman,” said Mrs. Cameron, raising her head with
a sudden pride. But she added, with as sudden a change to a sort of
freezing humility, “What does that matter? A girl without fortune,
without connection, brought up in this little cottage, the ward of a
professional artist, who was the son of a city clerk, to whom she owes
even the home she has found, is not in the same sphere of life as Mr.
Chillingly, and his parents could not approve of such an alliance for
him. It would be most cruel to her, if you were to change the innocent
pleasure she may take in the conversation of a clever and well-informed
stranger into the troubled interest which, since you remind me of her
age, a girl even so childlike and beautiful as Lily might conceive in
one represented to her as the possible partner of her life. Don’t commit
that cruelty; don’t--don’t, I implore you!”

“Trust me,” cried the warm-hearted Elsie, with tears rushing to her
eyes. “What you say so sensibly, so nobly, never struck me before. I
do not know much of the world,--knew nothing of it till I married,--and
being very fond of Lily, and having a strong regard for Mr. Chillingly,
I fancied I could not serve both better than--than--but I see now; he
is very young, very peculiar; his parents might object, not to Lily
herself, but to the circumstances you name. And you would not wish
her to enter any family where she was not as cordially welcomed as she
deserves to be. I am glad to have had this talk with you. Happily, I
have done no mischief as yet. I will do none. I had come to propose
an excursion to the remains of the Roman Villa, some miles off, and to
invite you and Mr. Chillingly. I will no longer try to bring him and
Lily together.”

“Thank you. But you still misconstrue me. I do not think that Lily cares
half so much for Mr. Chillingly as she does for a new butterfly. I do
not fear their coming together, as you call it, in the light in which
she now regards him, and in which, from all I observe, he regards her.
My only fear is that a hint might lead her to regard him in another way,
and that way impossible.”

Elsie left the house extremely bewildered, and with a profound contempt
for Mrs. Cameron’s knowledge of what may happen to two young persons
“brought together.”



CHAPTER XVII.

NOW, on that very day, and about the same hour in which the conversation
just recorded between Elsie and Mrs. Cameron took place, Kenelm, in his
solitary noonday wanderings, entered the burial-ground in which Lily had
some short time before surprised him. And there he found her, standing
beside the flower border which she had placed round the grave of the
child whom she had tended and nursed in vain.

The day was cloudless and sunless; one of those days that so often
instil a sentiment of melancholy into the heart of an English summer.

“You come here too often, Miss Mordaunt,” said Kenelm, very softly, as
he approached.

Lily turned her face to him, without any start of surprise, with no
brightening change in its pensive expression,--an expression rare to the
mobile play of her features.

“Not too often. I promised to come as often as I could; and, as I told
you before, I have never broken a promise yet.”

Kenelm made no answer. Presently the girl turned from the spot, and
Kenelm followed her silently till she halted before the old tombstone
with its effaced inscription.

“See,” she said, with a faint smile, “I have put fresh flowers there.
Since the day we met in this churchyard, I have thought so much of that
tomb, so neglected, so forgotten, and--” she paused a moment, and went
on abruptly, “do you not often find that you are much too--what is
the word? ah! too egotistical, considering and pondering and dreaming
greatly too much about yourself?”

“Yes, you are right there; though, till you so accused me, my conscience
did not detect it.”

“And don’t you find that you escape from being so haunted by the thought
of yourself, when you think of the dead? they can never have any
share in your existence _here_. When you say, ‘I shall do this or that
to-day;’ when you dream, ‘I may be this or that to-morrow,’ you are
thinking and dreaming, all by yourself, for yourself. But you are out of
yourself, beyond yourself, when you think and dream of the dead, who can
have nothing to do with your to-day or your to-morrow.”

As we all know, Kenelm Chillingly made it one of the rules of his life
never to be taken by surprise. But when the speech I have written down
came from the lips of that tamer of butterflies, he was so startled that
all it occurred to him to say, after a long pause, was,--

“The dead are the past; and with the past rests all in the present or
the future that can take us out of our natural selves. The past decides
our present. By the past we divine our future. History, poetry, science,
the welfare of states, the advancement of individuals, are all connected
with tombstones of which inscriptions are effaced. You are right to
honour the mouldered tombstones with fresh flowers. It is only in the
companionship of the dead that one ceases to be an egotist.”

If the imperfectly educated Lily had been above the quick comprehension
of the academical Kenelm in her speech, so Kenelm was now above the
comprehension of Lily. She, too, paused before she replied,--

“If I knew you better, I think I could understand you better. I wish you
knew Lion. I should like to hear you talk with him.”

While thus conversing, they had left the burial-ground, and were in the
pathway trodden by the common wayfarer.

Lily resumed,--“Yes, I should like to hear you talk with Lion.”

“You mean your guardian, Mr. Melville?”

“Yes, you know that.”

“And why should you like to hear me talk to him?”

“Because there are some things in which I doubt if he was altogether
right, and I would ask you to express my doubts to him; you would, would
you not?”

“But why can you not express them yourself to your guardian; are you
afraid of him?”

“Afraid, no indeed! But--ah, how many people there are coming this way!
There is some tiresome public meeting in the town to-day. Let us take
the ferry: the other side of the stream is much pleasanter; we shall
have it more to ourselves.”

Turning aside to the right while she thus spoke, Lily descended a
gradual slope to the margin of the stream, on which they found an old
man dozily reclined in his ferry-boat.

As, seated side by side, they were slowly borne over the still waters
under a sunless sky, Kenelm would have renewed the subject which his
companion had begun, but she shook her head, with a significant glance
at the ferryman. Evidently what she had to say was too confidential to
admit of a listener, not that the old ferryman seemed likely to take
the trouble of listening to any talk that was not addressed to him.
Lily soon did address her talk to him, “So, Brown, the cow has quite
recovered.”

“Yes, Miss, thanks to you, and God bless you. To think of your beating
the old witch like that!”

“‘Tis not I who beat the witch, Brown; ‘tis the fairy. Fairies, you
know, are much more powerful than witches.”

“So I find, Miss.”

Lily here turned to Kenelm; “Mr. Brown has a very nice milch-cow that
was suddenly taken very ill, and both he and his wife were convinced
that the cow was bewitched.”

“Of course it were, that stands to reason. Did not Mother Wright tell my
old woman that she would repent of selling milk, and abuse her dreadful;
and was not the cow taken with shivers that very night?”

“Gently, Brown. Mother Wright did not say that your wife would repent of
selling milk, but of putting water into it.”

“And how did she know that, if she was not a witch? We have the best of
customers among the gentlefolks, and never any one that complained.”

“And,” answered Lily to Kenelm, unheeding this last observation, which
was made in a sullen manner, “Brown had a horrid notion of enticing
Mother Wright into his ferry-boat and throwing her into the water, in
order to break the spell upon the cow. But I consulted the fairies, and
gave him a fairy charm to tie round the cow’s neck. And the cow is quite
well now, you see. So, Brown, there was no necessity to throw Mother
Wright into the water, because she said you put some of it into the
milk. But,” she added, as the boat now touched the opposite bank, “shall
I tell you, Brown, what the fairies said to me this morning?”

“Do, Miss.”

“It was this: If Brown’s cow yields milk without any water in it, and
if water gets into it when the milk is sold, we, the fairies, will pinch
Mr. Brown black and blue; and when Brown has his next fit of rheumatics
he must not look to the fairies to charm it away.”

Herewith Lily dropped a silver groat into Brown’s hand, and sprang
lightly ashore, followed by Kenelm.

“You have quite converted him, not only as to the existence, but as to
the beneficial power of fairies,” said Kenelm.

“Ah,” answered Lily very gravely, “ah, but would it not be nice if there
were fairies still? good fairies, and one could get at them? tell them
all that troubles and puzzles us, and win from them charms against the
witchcraft we practise on ourselves?”

“I doubt if it would be good for us to rely on such supernatural
counsellors. Our own souls are so boundless that the more we explore
them the more we shall find worlds spreading upon worlds into
infinities; and among the worlds is Fairyland.” He added, inly to
himself, “Am I not in Fairyland now?”

“Hush!” whispered Lily. “Don’t speak more yet awhile. I am thinking over
what you have just said, and trying to understand it.”

Thus walking silently they gained the little summer-house which
tradition dedicated to the memory of Izaak Walton. Lily entered it and
seated herself; Kenelm took his place beside her. It was a small octagon
building which, judging by its architecture, might have been built
in the troubled reign of Charles I.; the walls plastered within were
thickly covered with names and dates, and inscriptions in praise of
angling, in tribute to Izaak, or with quotations from his books. On
the opposite side they could see the lawn of Grasmere, with its great
willows dipping into the water. The stillness of the place, with its
associations of the angler’s still life, were in harmony with the quiet
day, its breezeless air, and cloud-vested sky.

“You were to tell me your doubts in connection with your guardian,
doubts if he were right in something which you left unexplained, which
you could not yourself explain to him.”

Lily started as from thoughts alien to the subject thus reintroduced.
“Yes, I cannot mention my doubts to him because they relate to me, and
he is so good. I owe him so much that I could not bear to vex him by a
word that might seem like reproach or complaint. You remember,” here she
drew nearer to him; and with that ingenuous confiding look and movement
which had, not unfrequently, enraptured him at the moment, and saddened
him on reflection,--too ingenuous, too confiding, for the sentiment
with which he yearned to inspire her,--she turned towards him her frank
untimorous eyes, and laid her hand on his arm: “you remember that I said
in the burial-ground how much I felt that one is constantly thinking
too much of one’s self. That must be wrong. In talking to you only about
myself I know I am wrong, but I cannot help it: I must do so. Do not
think ill of me for it. You see I have not been brought up like other
girls. Was my guardian right in that? Perhaps if he had insisted upon
not letting me have my own wilful way, if he had made me read the books
which Mr. and Mrs. Emlyn wanted to force on me, instead of the poems and
fairy tales which he gave me, I should have had so much more to think of
that I should have thought less of myself. You said that the dead were
the past; one forgets one’s self when one thinks of the dead. If I had
read more of the past, had more subjects of interest in the dead whose
history it tells, surely I should be less shut up, as it were, in my
own small, selfish heart? It is only very lately I have thought of this,
only very lately that I have felt sorrow and shame in the thought that I
am so ignorant of what other girls know, even little Clemmy. And I dare
not say this to Lion when I see him next, lest he should blame himself,
when he only meant to be kind, and used to say, ‘I don’t want Fairy to
be learned, it is enough for me to think she is happy.’ And oh, I was so
happy, till--till of late!”

“Because till of late you only knew yourself as a child. But, now that
you feel the desire of knowledge, childhood is vanishing. Do not vex
yourself. With the mind which nature has bestowed on you, such learning
as may fit you to converse with those dreaded ‘grown-up folks’ will come
to you very easily and quickly. You will acquire more in a month now
than you would have acquired in a year when you were a child, and
task-work was loathed, not courted. Your aunt is evidently well
instructed, and if I might venture to talk to her about the choice of
books--”

“No, don’t do that. Lion would not like it.”

“Your guardian would not like you to have the education common to other
young ladies?”

“Lion forbade my aunt to teach me much that I rather wished to learn.
She wanted to do so, but she has given it up at his wish. She only now
teases me with those horrid French verbs, and that I know is a mere
make-belief. Of course on Sunday it is different; then I must not read
anything but the Bible and sermons. I don’t care so much for the sermons
as I ought, but I could read the Bible all day, every week-day as well
as Sunday; and it is from the Bible that I learn that I ought to think
less about myself.”

Kenelm involuntarily pressed the little hand that lay so innocently on
his arm.

“Do you know the difference between one kind of poetry and another?”
 asked Lily, abruptly.

“I am not sure. I ought to know when one kind is good and another kind
is bad. But in that respect I find many people, especially professed
critics, who prefer the poetry which I call bad to the poetry I think
good.”

“The difference between one kind of poetry and another, supposing them
both to be good,” said Lily, positively, and with an air of triumph, “is
this,--I know, for Lion explained it to me,--in one kind of poetry the
writer throws himself entirely out of his existence, he puts himself
into other existences quite strange to his own. He may be a very good
man, and he writes his best poetry about very wicked men: he would not
hurt a fly, but he delights in describing murderers. But in the other
kind of poetry the writer does not put himself into other existences, he
expresses his own joys and sorrows, his own individual heart and mind.
If he could not hurt a fly, he certainly could not make himself at home
in the cruel heart of a murderer. There, Mr. Chillingly, that is the
difference between one kind of poetry and another.”

“Very true,” said Kenelm, amused by the girl’s critical definitions.
“The difference between dramatic poetry and lyrical. But may I ask what
that definition has to do with the subject into which you so suddenly
introduced it?”

“Much; for when Lion was explaining this to my aunt, he said, ‘A perfect
woman is a poem; but she can never be a poem of the one kind, never can
make herself at home in the hearts with which she has no connection,
never feel any sympathy with crime and evil; she must be a poem of the
other kind, weaving out poetry from her own thoughts and fancies.’ And,
turning to me, he said, smiling, ‘That is the poem I wish Lily to be.
Too many dry books would only spoil the poem.’ And you now see why I am
so ignorant, and so unlike other girls, and why Mr. and Mrs. Emlyn look
down upon me.”

“You wrong at least Mr. Emlyn, for it was he who first said to me, ‘Lily
Mordaunt is a poem.’”

“Did he? I shall love him for that. How pleased Lion will be!”

“Mr. Melville seems to have an extraordinary influence over your mind,”
 said Kenelm, with a jealous pang.

“Of course. I have neither father nor mother: Lion has been both to
me. Aunty has often said, ‘You cannot be too grateful to your guardian;
without him I should have no home to shelter you, no bread to give you.’
He never said that: he would be very angry with aunty if he knew she had
said it. When he does not call me Fairy he calls me Princess. I would
not displease him for the world.”

“He is very much older than you; old enough to be your father, I hear.”

“I dare say. But if he were twice as old I could not love him better.”

Kenelm smiled: the jealousy was gone. Certainly not thus could any girl,
even Lily, speak of one with whom, however she might love him, she was
likely to fall in love.

Lily now rose up, rather slowly and wearily. “It is time to go home:
aunty will be wondering what keeps me away,--come.”

They took their way towards the bridge opposite to Cromwell Lodge.

It was not for some minutes that either broke silence. Lily was the
first to do so, and with one of those abrupt changes of topic which were
common to the restless play of her secret thoughts.

“You have father and mother still living, Mr. Chillingly?”

“Thank Heaven, yes.”

“Which do you love the best?”

“That is scarcely a fair question. I love my mother very much; but my
father and I understand each other better than--”

“I see: it is so difficult to be understood. No one understands me.”

“I think I do.”

Lily shook her head with an energetic movement of dissent.

“At least as well as a man can understand a young lady.”

“What sort of young lady is Miss Cecilia Travers?”

“Cecilia Travers! When and how did you ever hear that such a person
existed?”

“That big London man whom they call Sir Thomas mentioned her name the
day we dined at Braefieldville.”

“I remember,--as having been at the Court ball.”

“He said she was very handsome.”

“So she is.”

“Is she a poem too?”

“No; that never struck me.”

“Mr. Emlyn, I suppose, would call her perfectly brought up,--well
educated. He would not raise his eyebrows at her as he does at me,--poor
me, Cinderella!”

“Ah, Miss Mordaunt, you need not envy her. Again let me say that you
could very soon educate yourself to the level of any young ladies who
adorn the Court balls.”

“Ay; but then I should not be a poem,” said Lily, with a shy, arch
side-glance at his face.

They were now on the bridge, and before Kenelm could answer Lily resumed
quickly, “You need not come any farther; it is out of your way.”

“I cannot be so disdainfully dismissed, Miss Mordaunt; I insist on
seeing you to at least your garden gate.”

Lily made no objection and again spoke,--

“What sort of country do you live in when at home; is it like this?”

“Not so pretty; the features are larger, more hill and dale and
woodland: yet there is one feature in our grounds which reminds me a
little of this landscape,--a light stream, somewhat wider, indeed,
than your brooklet; but here and there the banks are so like those by
Cromwell Lodge that I sometimes start and fancy myself at home. I have
a strange love for rivulets and all running waters, and in my foot
wanderings I find myself magnetically attracted towards them.”

Lily listened with interest, and after a short pause said, with a
half-suppressed sigh, “Your home is much finer than any place here, even
than Braefieldville, is it not? Mrs. Braefield says your father is very
rich.”

“I doubt if he is richer than Mr. Braefield; and, though his house may
be larger than Braefieldville, it is not so smartly furnished, and has
no such luxurious hothouses and conservatories. My father’s tastes are
like mine, very simple. Give him his library, and he would scarcely miss
his fortune if he lost it. He has in this one immense advantage over
me.”

“You would miss fortune?” said Lily, quickly.

“Not that; but my father is never tired of books. And shall I own it?
there are days when books tire me almost as much as they do you.”

They were now at the garden gate. Lily, with one hand on the latch, held
out the other to Kenelm, and her smile lit up the dull sky like a burst
of sunshine, as she looked in his face and vanished.



BOOK VII.



CHAPTER I.

KENELM did not return home till dusk, and just as he was sitting down to
his solitary meal there was a ring at the bell, and Mrs. Jones ushered
in Mr. Thomas Bowles.

Though that gentleman had never written to announce the day of his
arrival, he was not the less welcome.

“Only,” said Kenelm, “if you preserve the appetite I have lost, I fear
you will find meagre fare to-day. Sit down, man.”

“Thank you, kindly, but I dined two hours ago in London, and I really
can eat nothing more.”

Kenelm was too well-bred to press unwelcome hospitalities. In a very few
minutes his frugal repast was ended; the cloth removed, the two men were
left alone.

“Your room is here, of course, Tom; that was engaged from the day I
asked you, but you ought to have given me a line to say when to expect
you, so that I could have put our hostess on her mettle as to dinner or
supper. You smoke still, of course: light your pipe.”

“Thank you, Mr. Chillingly, I seldom smoke now; but if you will excuse a
cigar,” and Tom produced a very smart cigar-case.

“Do as you would at home. I shall send word to Will Somers that you and
I sup there to-morrow. You forgive me for letting out your secret.
All straightforward now and henceforth. You come to their hearth as a
friend, who will grow dearer to them both every year. Ah, Tom, this love
for woman seems to me a very wonderful thing. It may sink a man into
such deeps of evil, and lift a man into such heights of good.”

“I don’t know as to the good,” said Tom, mournfully, and laying aside
his cigar.

“Go on smoking: I should like to keep you company; can you spare me one
of your cigars?”

Tom offered his case. Kenelm extracted a cigar, lighted it, drew a few
whiffs, and, when he saw that Tom had resumed his own cigar, recommenced
conversation.

“You don’t know as to the good; but tell me honestly, do you think if
you had not loved Jessie Wiles, you would be as good a man as you are
now?”

“If I am better than I was, it is not because of my love for the girl.”

“What then?”

“The loss of her.”

Kenelm started, turned very pale, threw aside the cigar, rose, and
walked the room to and fro with very quick but very irregular strides.

Tom continued quietly. “Suppose I had won Jessie and married her, I
don’t think any idea of improving myself would have entered my head. My
uncle would have been very much offended at my marrying a day-labourer’s
daughter, and would not have invited me to Luscombe. I should have
remained at Graveleigh, with no ambition of being more than a common
farrier, an ignorant, noisy, quarrelsome man; and if I could not have
made Jessie as fond of me as I wished, I should not have broken myself
of drinking, and I shudder to think what a brute I might have been, when
I see in the newspapers an account of some drunken wife-beater. How do
we know but what that wife-beater loved his wife dearly before marriage,
and she did not care for him? His home was unhappy, and so he took to
drink and to wife-beating.”

“I was right, then,” said Kenelm, halting his strides, “when I told you
it would be a miserable fate to be married to a girl whom you loved to
distraction, and whose heart you could never warm to you, whose life you
could never render happy.”

“So right!”

“Let us drop that part of the subject at present,” said Kenelm,
reseating himself, “and talk about your wish to travel. Though contented
that you did not marry Jessie, though you can now, without anguish,
greet her as the wife of another, still there are some lingering
thoughts of her that make you restless; and you feel that you could more
easily wrench yourself from these thoughts in a marked change of scene
and adventure, that you might bury them altogether in the soil of a
strange land. Is it so?”

“Ay, something of that, sir.”

Then Kenelm roused himself to talk of foreign lands, and to map out a
plan of travel that might occupy some months. He was pleased to find
that Tom had already learned enough of French to make himself understood
at least upon commonplace matters, and still more pleased to discover
that he had been not only reading the proper guide-books or manuals
descriptive of the principal places in Europe worth visiting, but that
he had acquired an interest in the places; interest in the fame attached
to them by their history in the past, or by the treasures of art they
contained.

So they talked far into the night; and when Tom retired to his room,
Kenelm let himself out of the house noiselessly, and walked with slow
steps towards the old summer-house in which he had sat with Lily. The
wind had risen, scattering the clouds that had veiled the preceding day,
so that the stars were seen in far chasms of the sky beyond,--seen for
a while in one place, and, when the swift clouds rolled over them there,
shining out elsewhere. Amid the varying sounds of the trees, through
which swept the night gusts, Kenelm fancied he could distinguish the
sigh of the willow on the opposite lawn of Grasmere.



CHAPTER II.

KENELM despatched a note to Will Somers early the next morning, inviting
himself and Mr. Bowles to supper that evening. His tact was sufficient
to make him aware that in such social meal there would be far less
restraint for each and all concerned than in a more formal visit
from Tom during the day-time; and when Jessie, too, was engaged with
customers to the shop.

But he led Tom through the town and showed him the shop itself, with
its pretty goods at the plate-glass windows, and its general air of
prosperous trade; then he carried him off into the lanes and fields of
the country, drawing out the mind of his companion, and impressed with
great admiration of its marked improvement in culture, and in the trains
of thought which culture opens out and enriches.

But throughout all their multiform range of subject Kenelm could
perceive that Tom was still preoccupied and abstracted: the idea of the
coming interview with Jessie weighed upon him.

When they left Cromwell Lodge at nightfall, to repair to the supper at
Will’s; Kenelm noticed that Bowles had availed himself of the contents
of his carpet-bag to make some refined alterations in his dress. The
alterations became him.

When they entered the parlour, Will rose from his chair with the
evidence of deep emotion on his face, advanced to Tom, took his hand and
grasped and dropped it without a word. Jessie saluted both guests alike,
with drooping eyelids and an elaborate curtsy. The old mother alone was
perfectly self-possessed and up to the occasion.

“I am heartily glad to see you, Mr. Bowles,” said she, “and so all three
of us are, and ought to be; and if baby was older, there would be four.”

“And where on earth have you hidden baby?” cried Kenelm. “Surely he
might have been kept up for me to-night, when I was expected; the last
time I supped here I took you by surprise, and therefore had no right to
complain of baby’s want of respect to her parents’ friends.”

Jessie raised the window-curtain, and pointed to the cradle behind it.
Kenelm linked his arm in Tom’s, led him to the cradle, and, leaving
him alone to gaze on the sleeping inmate, seated himself at the table,
between old Mrs. Somers and Will. Will’s eyes were turned away towards
the curtain, Jessie holding its folds aside, and the formidable Tom,
who had been the terror of his neighbourhood, bending smiling over
the cradle: till at last he laid his large hand on the pillow, gently,
timidly, careful not to awake the helpless sleeper, and his lips moved,
doubtless with a blessing; then he, too, came to the table, seating
himself, and Jessie carried the cradle upstairs.

Will fixed his keen, intelligent eyes on his bygone rival; and noticing
the changed expression of the once aggressive countenance, the changed
costume in which, without tinge of rustic foppery, there was the token
of a certain gravity of station scarcely compatible with a return to old
loves and old habits in the village world, the last shadow of jealousy
vanished from the clear surface of Will’s affectionate nature.

“Mr. Bowles,” he exclaimed, impulsively, “you have a kind heart, and a
good heart, and a generous heart. And your corning here to-night on this
friendly visit is an honour which--which”--“Which,” interrupted Kenelm,
compassionating Will’s embarrassment, “is on the side of us single men.
In this free country a married man who has a male baby may be father
to the Lord Chancellor or the Archbishop of Canterbury. But--well, my
friends, such a meeting as we have to-night does not come often; and
after supper let us celebrate it with a bowl of punch. If we have
headaches the next morning none of us will grumble.”

Old Mrs. Somers laughed out jovially. “Bless you, sir, I did not think
of the punch; I will go and see about it,” and, baby’s socks still in
her hands, she hastened from the room.

What with the supper, what with the punch, and what with Kenelm’s art
of cheery talk on general subjects, all reserve, all awkwardness, all
shyness between the convivialists, rapidly disappeared. Jessie mingled
in the talk; perhaps (excepting only Kenelm) she talked more than the
others, artlessly, gayly, no vestige of the old coquetry; but, now and
then, with a touch of genteel finery, indicative of her rise in life,
and of the contact of the fancy shopkeeper with noble customers. It was
a pleasant evening; Kenelm had resolved that it should be so. Not a
hint of the obligations to Mr. Bowles escaped until Will, following his
visitor to the door, whispered to Tom, “You don’t want thanks, and I
can’t express them. But when we say our prayers at night, we have always
asked God to bless him who brought us together, and has since made us
so prosperous,--I mean Mr. Chillingly. To-night there will be another
besides him, for whom we shall pray, and for whom baby, when he is
older, will pray too.”

Therewith Will’s voice thickened; and he prudently receded, with no
unreasonable fear lest the punch might make him too demonstrative of
emotion if he said more.

Tom was very silent on the return to Cromwell Lodge; it did not seem the
silence of depressed spirits, but rather of quiet meditation, from which
Kenelm did not attempt to rouse him.

It was not till they reached the garden pales of Grasmere that Tom,
stopping short, and turning his face to Kenelm, said, “I am very
grateful to you for this evening,--very.”

“It has revived no painful thoughts then?”

“No; I feel so much calmer in mind than I ever believed I could have
been, after seeing her again.”

“Is it possible!” said Kenelm, to himself. “How should I feel if I ever
saw in Lily the wife of another man, the mother of his child?” At that
question he shuddered, and an involuntary groan escaped from his lips.
Just then having, willingly in those precincts, arrested his steps when
Tom paused to address him, something softly touched the arm which he had
rested on the garden pale. He looked, and saw that it was Blanche.
The creature, impelled by its instincts towards night-wanderings, had,
somehow or other, escaped from its own bed within the house, and hearing
a voice that had grown somewhat familiar to its ear, crept from among
the shrubs behind upon the edge of the pale. There it stood, with arched
back, purring low as in pleased salutation.

Kenelm bent down and covered with kisses the blue ribbon which Lily’s
hand had bound round the favourite’s neck. Blanche submitted to the
caress for a moment, and then catching a slight rustle among the shrubs
made by some awaking bird, sprang into the thick of the quivering leaves
and vanished.

Kenelm moved on with a quick impatient stride, and no further words were
exchanged between him and his companion till they reached their lodging
and parted for the night.



CHAPTER III.

THE next day, towards noon, Kenelm and his visitor, walking together
along the brook-side, stopped before Izaak Walton’s summer-house, and,
at Kenelm’s suggestion, entered therein to rest, and more at their ease
to continue the conversation they had begun.

“You have just told me,” said Kenelm, “that you feel as if a load were
taken off your heart, now that you have again met Jessie Somers, and
that you find her so changed that she is no longer the woman you loved.
As to the change, whatever it be, I own, it seems to me for the better,
in person, in manners, in character; of course I should not say this, if
I were not convinced of your perfect sincerity when you assured me that
you are cured of the old wound. But I feel so deeply interested in the
question how a fervent love, once entertained and enthroned in the heart
of a man so earnestly affectionate and so warm-blooded as yourself, can
be, all of a sudden, at a single interview, expelled or transferred into
the calm sentiment of friendship, that I pray you to explain.”

“That is what puzzles me, sir,” answered Tom, passing his hand over his
forehead. “And I don’t know if I can explain it.

“Think over it, and try.”

Tom mused for some moments and then began. “You see, sir, that I was
a very different man myself when I fell in love with Jessie Wiles, and
said, ‘Come what may, that girl shall be my wife. Nobody else shall have
her.’”

“Agreed; go on.”

“But while I was becoming a different man, when I thought of her--and I
was always thinking of her--I still pictured her to myself as the same
Jessie Wiles; and though, when I did see her again at Graveleigh, after
she had married--the day--”

“You saved her from the insolence of the Squire.”

“She was but very recently married. I did not realize her as married. I
did not see her husband, and the difference within myself was only
then beginning. Well, so all the time I was reading and thinking, and
striving to improve my old self at Luscombe, still Jessie Wiles haunted
me as the only girl I had ever loved, ever could love; I could not
believe it possible that I could ever marry any one else. And lately I
have been much pressed to marry some one else; all my family wish it:
but the face of Jessie rose up before me, and I said to myself, ‘I
should be a base man if I married one woman, while I could not get
another woman out of my head.’ I must see Jessie once more, must learn
whether her face is now really the face that haunts me when I sit alone;
and I have seen her, and it is not that face: it may be handsomer, but
it is not a girl’s face, it is the face of a wife and a mother. And,
last evening, while she was talking with an open-heartedness which I
had never found in her before, I became strangely conscious of the
difference in myself that had been silently at work within the last two
years or so. Then, sir, when I was but an ill-conditioned, uneducated,
petty village farrier, there was no inequality between me and a peasant
girl; or, rather, in all things except fortune, the peasant girl
was much above me. But last evening I asked myself, watching her and
listening to her talk, ‘If Jessie were now free, should I press her to
be my wife?’ and I answered myself, ‘No.’”

Kenelm listened with rapt attention, and exclaimed briefly, but
passionately, “Why?”

“It seems as if I were giving myself airs to say why. But, sir, lately I
have been thrown among persons, women as well as men, of a higher class
than I was born in; and in a wife I should want a companion up to their
mark, and who would keep me up to mine; and ah, sir, I don’t feel as if
I could find that companion in Mrs. Somers.”

“I understand you now, Tom. But you are spoiling a silly romance of
mine. I had fancied the little girl with the flower face would grow up
to supply the loss of Jessie; and, I am so ignorant of the human heart,
I did think it would take all the years required for the little girl to
open into a woman, before the loss of the old love could be supplied. I
see now that the poor little child with the flower face has no chance.”

“Chance? Why, Mr. Chillingly,” cried Tom, evidently much nettled, “Susey
is a dear little thing, but she is scarcely more than a mere charity
girl. Sir, when I last saw you in London you touched on that matter as
if I were still the village farrier’s son, who might marry a village
labourer’s daughter. But,” added Tom, softening down his irritated tone
of voice, “even if Susey were a lady born I think a man would make a
very great mistake, if he thought he could bring up a little girl to
regard him as a father; and then, when she grew up, expect her to accept
him as a lover.”

“Ah, you think that!” exclaimed Kenelm, eagerly, and turning eyes that
sparkled with joy towards the lawn of Grasmere. “You think that; it is
very sensibly said,--well, and you have been pressed to marry, and have
hung back till you had seen again Mrs. Somers. Now you will be better
disposed to such a step; tell me about it?”

“I said, last evening, that one of the principal capitalists at
Luscombe, the leading corn-merchant, had offered to take me into
partnership. And, sir, he has an only daughter, she is a very amiable
girl, has had a first-rate education, and has such pleasant manners and
way of talk, quite a lady. If I married her I should soon be the first
man in Luscombe, and Luscombe, as you are no doubt aware, returns two
members to Parliament; who knows, but that some day the farrier’s son
might be--” Tom stopped abruptly, abashed at the aspiring thought which,
while speaking, had deepened his hardy colour and flashed from his
honest eyes.

“Ah!” said Kenelm, almost mournfully, “is it so? must each man in his
life play many parts? Ambition succeeds to love, the reasoning brain to
the passionate heart. True, you are changed; my Tom Bowles is gone.”

“Not gone in his undying gratitude to you, sir,” said Tom, with great
emotion. “Your Tom Bowles would give up all his dreams of wealth or of
rising in life, and go through fire and water to serve the friend who
first bid him be a new Tom Bowles! Don’t despise me as your own work:
you said to me that terrible day, when madness was on my brow and crime
within my heart, ‘I will be to you the truest friend man ever found in
man.’ So you have been. You commanded me to read; you commanded me to
think; you taught me that body should be the servant of mind.”

“Hush, hush, times are altered; it is you who can teach me now. Teach
me, teach me; how does ambition replace love? How does the desire to
rise in life become the all-mastering passion, and, should it prosper,
the all-atoning consolation of our life? We can never be as happy,
though we rose to the throne of the Caesars, as we dream that we
could have been, had Heaven but permitted us to dwell in the obscurest
village, side by side with the woman we love.”

Tom was exceedingly startled by such a burst of irrepressible passion
from the man who had told him that, though friends were found only once
in a life, sweethearts were as plentiful as blackberries.

Again he swept his hand over his forehead, and replied hesitatingly: “I
can’t pretend to say what maybe the case with others. But to judge by my
own case, it seems to me this: a young man who, out of his own business,
has nothing to interest or excite him, finds content, interest, and
excitement when he falls in love; and then, whether for good or ill, he
thinks there is nothing like love in the world, he don’t care a fig for
ambition then. Over and over again did my poor uncle ask me to come to
him at Luscombe, and represent all the worldly advantage it would be
to me; but I could not leave the village in which Jessie lived, and,
besides, I felt myself unfit to be anything higher than I was. But
when I had been some time at Luscombe, and gradually got accustomed to
another sort of people, and another sort of talk, then I began to feel
interest in the same objects that interested those about me; and when,
partly by mixing with better educated men, and partly by the pains I
took to educate myself, I felt that I might now more easily rise above
my uncle’s rank of life than two years ago I could have risen above
a farrier’s forge, then the ambition to rise did stir in me, and grew
stronger every day. Sir, I don’t think you can wake up a man’s intellect
but what you wake with it emulation. And, after all, emulation is
ambition.”

“Then, I suppose, I have no emulation in me, for certainly I have no
ambition.”

“That I can’t believe, sir; other thoughts may cover it over and keep it
down for a time. But sooner or later, it will force its way to the top,
as it has done with me. To get on in life, to be respected by those who
know you, more and more as you grow older, I call that a manly desire. I
am sure it comes as naturally to an Englishman as--as--”

“As the wish to knock down some other Englishman who stands in his way
does. I perceive now that you were always a very ambitious man, Tom; the
ambition has only taken another direction. Caesar might have been


   “‘But the first wrestler on the green.’


“And now, I suppose, you abandon the idea of travel: you will return to
Luscombe, cured of all regret for the loss of Jessie; you will marry the
young lady you mention, and rise, through progressive steps of alderman
and mayor, into the rank of member for Luscombe.”

“All that may come in good time,” answered Tom, not resenting the tone
of irony in which he was addressed, “but I still intend to travel: a
year so spent must render me all the more fit for any station I aim at.
I shall go back to Luscombe to arrange my affairs, come to terms with
Mr. Leland the corn-merchant, against my return, and--”

“The young lady is to wait till then.”

“Emily--”

“Oh, that is the name? Emily! a much more elegant name than Jessie.”

“Emily,” continued Tom, with an unruffled placidity,--which, considering
the aggravating bitterness for which Kenelm had exchanged his wonted
dulcitudes of indifferentism, was absolutely saintlike, “Emily knows
that if she were my wife I should be proud of her, and will esteem me
the more if she feels how resolved I am that she shall never be ashamed
of me.”

“Pardon me, Tom,” said Kenelm softened, and laying his hand on his
friend’s shoulder with brotherlike tenderness. “Nature has made you a
thorough gentleman; and you could not think and speak more nobly if you
had come into the world as the head of all the Howards.”



CHAPTER IV.

TOM went away the next morning. He declined to see Jessie again, saying
curtly, “I don’t wish the impression made on me the other evening to
incur a chance of being weakened.”

Kenelm was in no mood to regret his friend’s departure. Despite all
the improvement in Tom’s manners and culture, which raised him so
much nearer to equality with the polite and instructed heir of the
Chillinglys, Kenelm would have felt more in sympathy and rapport with
the old disconsolate fellow-wanderer who had reclined with him on the
grass, listening to the minstrel’s talk or verse, than he did with
the practical, rising citizen of Luscombe. To the young lover of Lily
Mordaunt there was a discord, a jar, in the knowledge that the human
heart admits of such well-reasoned, well-justified transfers of
allegiance; a Jessie to-day, or an Emily to-morrow; “La reine est morte:
vive la reine”

An hour or two after Tom had gone, Kenelm found himself almost
mechanically led towards Braefieldville. He had instinctively divined
Elsie’s secret wish with regard to himself and Lily, however skilfully
she thought she had concealed it.

At Braefieldville he should hear talk of Lily, and in the scenes where
Lily had been first beheld.

He found Mrs. Braefield alone in the drawing-room, seated by a table
covered with flowers, which she was assorting and intermixing for the
vases to which they were destined.

It struck him that her manner was more reserved than usual and somewhat
embarrassed; and when, after a few preliminary matters of small talk,
he rushed boldly _in medias res_ and asked if she had seen Mrs. Cameron
lately, she replied briefly, “Yes, I called there the other day,”
 and immediately changed the conversation to the troubled state of the
Continent.

Kenelm was resolved not to be so put off, and presently returned to the
charge.

“The other day you proposed an excursion to the site of the Roman villa,
and said you would ask Mrs. Cameron to be of the party. Perhaps you have
forgotten it?”

“No; but Mrs. Cameron declines. We can ask the Emlyns instead. He will
be an excellent _cicerone_.”

“Excellent! Why did Mrs. Cameron decline?”

Elsie hesitated, and then lifted her clear brown eyes to his face, with
a sudden determination to bring matters to a crisis.

“I cannot say why Mrs. Cameron declined, but in declining she acted very
wisely and very honourably. Listen to me, Mr. Chillingly. You know how
highly I esteem, and how cordially I like you, and judging by what I
felt for some weeks, perhaps longer, after we parted at Tor Hadham--”
 Here again she hesitated, and, with a half laugh and a slight blush,
again went resolutely on. “If I were Lily’s aunt or elder sister, I
should do as Mrs. Cameron does; decline to let Lily see much more of a
young gentleman too much above her in wealth and station for--”

“Stop,” cried Kenelm, haughtily, “I cannot allow that any man’s wealth
or station would warrant his presumption in thinking himself above Miss
Mordaunt.”

“Above her in natural grace and refinement, certainly not. But in the
world there are other considerations which, perhaps, Sir Peter and Lady
Chillingly might take into account.”

“You did not think of that before you last saw Mrs. Cameron.”

“Honestly speaking, I did not. Assured that Miss Mordaunt was a
gentlewoman by birth, I did not sufficiently reflect upon other
disparities.”

“You know, then, that she is by birth a gentlewoman?”

“I only know it as all here do, by the assurance of Mrs. Cameron, whom
no one could suppose not to be a lady. But there are different degrees
of lady and of gentleman, which are little heeded in the ordinary
intercourse of society, but become very perceptible in questions of
matrimonial alliance; and Mrs. Cameron herself says very plainly that
she does not consider her niece to belong to that station in life from
which Sir Peter and Lady Chillingly would naturally wish their son
should select his bride. Then (holding out her hand) pardon me if I have
wounded or offended you. I speak as a true friend to you and to Lily
both. Earnestly I advise you, if Miss Mordaunt be the cause of your
lingering here, earnestly I advise you to leave while yet in time for
her peace of mind and your own.”

“Her peace of mind,” said Kenelm, in low faltering tones, scarcely
hearing the rest of Mrs. Braefield’s speech. “Her peace of mind? Do
you sincerely think that she cares for me,--could care for me,--if I
stayed?”

“I wish I could answer you decidedly. I am not in the secrets of her
heart. I can but conjecture that it might be dangerous for the peace of
any young girl to see too much of a man like yourself, to divine that he
loved her, and not to be aware that he could not, with the approval of
his family, ask her to become his wife.”

Kenelm bent his face down, and covered it with his right hand. He did
not speak for some moments. Then he rose, the fresh cheek very pale, and
said,--

“You are right. Miss Mordaunt’s peace of mind must be the first
consideration. Excuse me if I quit you thus abruptly. You have given me
much to think of, and I can only think of it adequately when alone.”



CHAPTER V.


FROM KENELM CHILLINGLY TO SIR PETER CHILLINGLY.


MY FATHER, MY DEAR FATHER,--This is no reply to your letters. I know
not if itself can be called a letter. I cannot yet decide whether it be
meant to reach your hands. Tired with talking to myself, I sit down to
talk to you. Often have I reproached myself for not seeing every fitting
occasion to let you distinctly know how warmly I love, how deeply I
reverence you; you, O friend, O father. But we Chillinglys are not a
demonstrative race. I don’t remember that you, by words, ever expressed
to me the truth that you loved your son infinitely more than he
deserves. Yet, do I not know that you would send all your beloved old
books to the hammer rather than I should pine in vain for some untried,
if sinless, delight on which I had set my heart? And do you not
know equally well, that I would part with all my heritage, and turn
day-labourer, rather than you should miss the beloved old books?

That mutual knowledge is taken for granted in all that my heart yearns
to pour forth to your own. But, if I divine aright, a day is coming
when, as between you and me, there must be a sacrifice on the part of
one to the other. If so, I implore that the sacrifice may come from
you. How is this? How am I so ungenerous, so egotistical, so selfish, so
ungratefully unmindful of all I already owe to you, and may never repay?
I can only answer, “It is fate, it is nature, it is love”--

                   *****

Here I must break off. It is midnight, the moon halts opposite to the
window at which I sit, and on the stream that runs below there is a long
narrow track on which every wave trembles in her light; on either side
of the moonlit track all the other waves, running equally to their grave
in the invisible deep, seem motionless and dark. I can write no more.

.........

     (Dated two days later.)

They say she is beneath us in wealth and station. Are we, my father--we,
two well-born gentlemen--coveters of gold or lackeys of the great? When
I was at college, if there were any there more heartily despised than
another it was the parasite and the tuft-hunter; the man who chose his
friends according as their money or their rank might be of use to him.
If so mean where the choice is so little important to the happiness and
career of a man who has something of manhood in him, how much more mean
to be the parasite and tuft-hunter in deciding what woman to love, what
woman to select as the sweetener and ennobler of one’s everyday life!
Could she be to my life that sweetener, that ennobler? I firmly believe
it. Already life itself has gained a charm that I never even guessed in
it before; already I begin, though as yet but faintly and vaguely, to
recognize that interest in the objects and aspirations of my fellow-men
which is strongest in those whom posterity ranks among its ennoblers. In
this quiet village it is true that I might find examples enough to prove
that man is not meant to meditate upon life, but to take active part in
it, and in that action to find his uses. But I doubt if I should have
profited by such examples; if I should not have looked on this
small stage of the world as I have looked on the large one, with the
indifferent eyes of a spectator on a trite familiar play carried on
by ordinary actors, had not my whole being suddenly leaped out of
philosophy into passion, and, at once made warmly human, sympathized
with humanity wherever it burned and glowed. Ah, is there to be
any doubt of what station, as mortal bride, is due to her,--her, my
princess, my fairy? If so, how contented you shall be, my father, with
the worldly career of your son! how perseveringly he will strive
(and when did perseverance fail?) to supply all his deficiencies of
intellect, genius, knowledge, by the energy concentrated on a single
object which--more than intellect, genius, knowledge, unless they attain
to equal energy equally concentrated--commands what the world calls
honours.

Yes, with her, with her as the bearer of my name, with her to whom I,
whatever I might do of good or of great, could say, “It is thy work,”
 I promise that you shall bless the day when you took to your arms a
daughter.

.........

“Thou art in contact with the beloved in all that thou feelest elevated
above thee.” So it is written by one of those weird Germans who search
in our bosoms for the seeds of buried truths, and conjure them into
flowers before we ourselves were even aware of the seeds.

Every thought that associates itself with my beloved seems to me born
with wings.

.........

I have just seen her, just parted from her. Since I had been
told--kindly, wisely told--that I had no right to hazard her peace of
mind unless I were privileged to woo and to win her, I promised myself
that I would shun her presence until I had bared my heart to you, as I
am doing now, and received that privilege from yourself; for even had I
never made the promise that binds my honour, your consent and blessing
must hallow my choice. I do not feel as if I could dare to ask one
so innocent and fair to wed an ungrateful, disobedient son. But this
evening I met her, unexpectedly, at the vicar’s, an excellent man, from
whom I have learned much; whose precepts, whose example, whose delight
in his home, and his life at once active and serene, are in harmony with
my own dreams when I dream of her.

I will tell you the name of the beloved; hold it as yet a profound
secret between you and me. But oh for the day when I may hear you call
her by that name, and print on her forehead the only kiss by man of
which I should not be jealous.

It is Sunday, and after the evening service it is my friend’s custom
to gather his children round him, and, without any formal sermon or
discourse, engage their interests in subjects harmonious to associations
with the sanctity of the day; often not directly bearing upon religion;
more often, indeed, playfully starting from some little incident or some
slight story-book which had amused the children in the course of the
past week, and then gradually winding into reference to some sweet moral
precept or illustration from some divine example. It is a maxim with
him that, while much that children must learn they can only learn well
through conscious labour, and as positive task-work, yet Religion should
be connected in their minds not with labour and task-work, but should
become insensibly infused into their habits of thought, blending
itself with memories and images of peace and love; with the indulgent
tenderness of the earliest teachers, the sinless mirthfulness of the
earliest home; with consolation in after sorrows, support through after
trials, and never parting company with its twin sister, Hope.

I entered the vicar’s room this evening just as the group had collected
round him. By the side of his wife sat a lady in whom I feel a keen
interest. Her face wears that kind of calm which speaks of the lassitude
bequeathed by sorrow. She is the aunt of my beloved one. Lily had
nestled herself on a low ottoman, at the good pastor’s feet, with one
of his little girls, round whose shoulder she had wound her arm. She is
much more fond of the companionship of children than that of girls of
her own age. The vicar’s wife, a very clever woman, once, in my hearing,
took her to task for this preference, asking her why she persisted in
grouping herself with mere infants who could teach her nothing? Ah!
could you have seen the innocent, angel-like expression of her face when
she answered simply, “I suppose because with them I feel safer, I mean
nearer to God.”

Mr. Emlyn--that is the name of the vicar--deduced his homily this
evening from a pretty fairy tale which Lily had been telling to his
children the day before, and which he drew her on to repeat.

Take, in brief, the substance of the story:--

“Once on a time, a king and queen made themselves very unhappy because
they had no heir to their throne; and they prayed for one; and lo, on
some bright summer morning, the queen, waking from sleep, saw a cradle
beside her bed, and in the cradle a beautiful sleeping babe. Great
day throughout the kingdom! But as the infant grew up, it became very
wayward and fretful: it lost its beauty; it would not learn its lessons;
it was as naughty as a child could be. The parents were very sorrowful;
the heir, so longed for, promised to be a great plague to themselves
and their subjects. At last one day, to add to their trouble, two little
bumps appeared on the prince’s shoulders. All the doctors were consulted
as to the cause and the cure of this deformity. Of course they tried
the effect of back-bands and steel machines, which gave the poor little
prince great pain, and made him more unamiable than ever. The bumps,
nevertheless, grew larger, and as they increased, so the prince sickened
and pined away. At last a skilful surgeon proposed, as the only chance
of saving the prince’s life, that the bumps should be cut out; and the
next morning was fixed for that operation. But at night the queen saw,
or dreamed she saw, a beautiful shape standing by her bedside. And it
said to her reproachfully, ‘Ungrateful woman! How wouldst thou repay me
for the precious boon that my favour bestowed on thee! In me behold the
Queen of the Fairies. For the heir to thy kingdom, I consigned to thy
charge an infant from Fairyland, to become a blessing to thee and to
thy people; and thou wouldst inflict upon it a death of torture by the
surgeon’s knife.’ And the queen answered, ‘Precious indeed thou mayest
call the boon,--a miserable, sickly, feverish changeling.’

“‘Art thou so dull,’ said the beautiful visitant, ‘as not to comprehend
that the earliest instincts of the fairy child would be those of
discontent, at the exile from its native home? and in that discontent it
would have pined itself to death, or grown up, soured and malignant,
a fairy still in its power but a fairy of wrath and evil, had not the
strength of its inborn nature sufficed to develop the growth of its
wings. That which thy blindness condemns as the deformity of the
human-born, is to the fairy-born the crowning perfection of its beauty.
Woe to thee, if thou suffer not the wings of the fairy child to grow.’

“And the next morning the queen sent away the surgeon when he came with
his horrible knife, and removed the back-board and the steel machines
from the prince’s shoulders, though all the doctors predicted that the
child would die. And from that moment the royal heir began to recover
bloom and health. And when at last, out of those deforming bumps,
budded delicately forth the plumage of snow-white wings, the wayward
peevishness of the prince gave place to sweet temper. Instead of
scratching his teachers, he became the quickest and most docile of
pupils, grew up to be the joy of his parents and the pride of their
people; and people said, ‘In him we shall have hereafter such a king as
we have never yet known.’”

Here ended Lily’s tale. I cannot convey to you a notion of the pretty,
playful manner in which it was told. Then she said, with a grave shake
of the head, “But you do not seem to know what happened afterwards. Do
you suppose that the prince never made use of his wings? Listen to me.
It was discovered by the courtiers who attended on His Royal Highness
that on certain nights, every week, he disappeared. In fact, on these
nights, obedient to the instinct of the wings, he flew from palace
halls into Fairyland; coming back thence all the more lovingly disposed
towards the human home from which he had escaped for a while.”

“Oh, my children,” interposed the preacher earnestly, “the wings would
be given to us in vain if we did not obey the instinct which allures us
to soar; vain, no less, would be the soaring, were it not towards
the home whence we came, bearing back from its native airs a stronger
health, and a serener joy; more reconciled to the duties of earth by
every new flight into heaven.”

As he thus completed the moral of Lily’s fairy tale, the girl rose
from her low seat, took his hand, kissed it reverently, and walked away
towards the window. I could see that she was affected even to tears,
which she sought to conceal. Later in the evening, when we were
dispersed on the lawn, for a few minutes before the party broke up, Lily
came to my side timidly and said, in a low whisper,--

“Are you angry with me? what have I done to displease you?”

“Angry with you; displeased? How can you think of me so unjustly?”

“It is so many days since you have called, since I have seen you,”
 she said so artlessly, looking up at me with eyes in which tears still
seemed to tremble.

Before I could trust myself to reply, her aunt approached, and noticing
me with a cold and distant “Good-night,” led away her niece.

I had calculated on walking back to their home with them, as I generally
have done when we met at another house. But the aunt had probably
conjectured I might be at the vicarage that evening, and in order to
frustrate my intention had engaged a carriage for their return. No doubt
she has been warned against permitting further intimacy with her niece.

My father, I must come to you at once, discharge my promise, and receive
from your own lips your consent to my choice; for you will consent, will
you not? But I wish you to be prepared beforehand, and I shall therefore
put up these disjointed fragments of my commune with my own heart and
with yours, and post them to-morrow. Expect me to follow them after
leaving you a day free to consider them alone,--alone, my dear father:
they are meant for no eye but yours.

K. C.



CHAPTER VI.

THE next day Kenelm walked into the town, posted his voluminous letter
to Sir Peter, and then looked in at the shop of Will Somers, meaning to
make some purchases of basket-work or trifling fancy goods in Jessie’s
pretty store of such articles, that might please the taste of his
mother.

On entering the shop his heart beat quicker. He saw two young forms
bending over the counter, examining the contents of a glass case. One
of these customers was Clemmy; in the other there was no mistaking the
slight graceful shape of Lily Mordaunt. Clemmy was exclaiming, “Oh, it
is so pretty, Mrs. Somers! but,” turning her eyes from the counter to a
silk purse in her hand, she added sorrowfully, “I can’t buy it. I have
not got enough, not by a great deal.”

“And what is it, Miss Clemmy?” asked Kenelm.

The two girls turned round at his voice, and Clemmy’s face brightened.

“Look here,” she said, “is it not too lovely?”

The object thus admired and coveted was a little gold locket, enriched
by a cross composed of small pearls.

“I assure you, miss,” said Jessie, who had acquired all the coaxing arts
of her trade, “it is really a great bargain. Miss Mary Burrows, who was
here just before you came, bought one not nearly so pretty and gave ten
shillings more for it.”

Miss Mary Burrows was the same age as Miss Clementina Emlyn, and there
was a rivalry as to smartness between those youthful beauties. “Miss
Burrows!” sighed Clemmy, very scornfully.

But Kenelm’s attention was distracted from Clemmy’s locket to a little
ring which Lily had been persuaded by Mrs. Somers to try on, and which
she now drew off and returned with a shake of the head. Mrs. Somers, who
saw that she had small chance of selling the locket to Clemmy, was now
addressing herself to the elder girl more likely to have sufficient
pocket-money, and whom, at all events, it was quite safe to trust.

“The ring fits you so nicely, Miss Mordaunt, and every young lady of
your age wears at least one ring; allow me to put it up.” She added in
a lower voice, “Though we only sell the articles in this case on
commission, it is all the same to us whether we are paid now or at
Christmas.”

“‘Tis no use tempting me, Mrs. Somers,” said Lily, laughing, and then
with a grave air, “I promised Lion, I mean my guardian, never to run
into debt, and I never will.”

Lily turned resolutely from the perilous counter, taking up a paper
that contained a new ribbon she had bought for Blanche, and Clemmy
reluctantly followed her out of the shop.

Kenelm lingered behind and selected very hastily a few trifles, to be
sent to him that evening with some specimens of basket-work left to
Will’s tasteful discretion; then purchased the locket on which Clemmy
had set her heart; but all the while his thoughts were fixed on the ring
which Lily had tried on. It was no sin against etiquette to give the
locket to a child like Clemmy, but would it not be a cruel impertinence
to offer a gift to Lily?

Jessie spoke: “Miss Mordaunt took a great fancy to this ring, Mr.
Chillingly. I am sure her aunt would like her to have it. I have a great
mind to put it by on the chance of Mrs. Cameron’s calling here. It would
be a pity if it were bought by some one else.”

“I think,” said Kenelm, “that I will take the liberty of showing it to
Mrs. Cameron. No doubt she will buy it for her niece. Add the price
of it to my bill.” He seized the ring and carried it off; a very poor
little simple ring, with a single stone shaped as a heart, not half the
price of the locket.

Kenelm rejoined the young ladies just where the path split into two, the
one leading direct to Grasmere, the other through the churchyard to
the vicarage. He presented the locket to Clemmy with brief kindly words
which easily removed any scruple she might have had in accepting it;
and, delighted with her acquisition, she bounded off to the vicarage,
impatient to show the prize to her mamma and sisters, and more
especially to Miss Mary Burrows, who was coming to lunch with them.

Kenelm walked on slowly by Lily’s side.

“You have a good heart, Mr. Chillingly,” said she, somewhat abruptly.
“How it must please you to give such pleasure! Dear little Clemmy!”

This artless praise, and the perfect absence of envy or thought of self
evinced by her joy that her friend’s wish was gratified, though her own
was not, enchanted Kenelm.

“If it pleases to give pleasure,” said he, “it is your turn to be
pleased now; you can confer such pleasure upon me.”

“How?” she asked, falteringly, and with quick change of colour.

“By conceding to me the same right your little friend has allowed.”

And he drew forth the ring.

Lily reared her head with a first impulse of haughtiness. But when
her eyes met his the head drooped down again, and a slight shiver ran
through her frame.

“Miss Mordaunt,” resumed Kenelm, mastering his passionate longing to
fall at her feet and say, “But, oh! in this ring it is my love that
I offer,--it is my troth that I pledge!” “Miss Mordaunt, spare me the
misery of thinking that I have offended you; least of all would I do so
on this day, for it may be some little while before I see you again.
I am going home for a few days upon a matter which may affect the
happiness of my life, and on which I should be a bad son and an
unworthy gentleman if I did not consult him who, in all that concerns
my affections, has trained me to turn to him, the father; in all that
concerns my honour to him, the gentleman.”

A speech more unlike that which any delineator of manners and morals in
the present day would put into the mouth of a lover, no critic in “The
Londoner” could ridicule. But, somehow or other, this poor little tamer
of butterflies and teller of fairy tales comprehended on the instant all
that this most eccentric of human beings thus frigidly left untold.
Into her innermost heart it sank more deeply than would the most ardent
declaration put into the lips of the boobies or the scamps in whom
delineators of manners in the present day too often debase the
magnificent chivalry embodied in the name of “lover.”

Where these two had, while speaking, halted on the path along the
brook-side, there was a bench, on which it so happened that they had
seated themselves weeks before. A few moments later on that bench they
were seated again.

And the trumpery little ring with its turquoise heart was on Lily’s
finger, and there they continued to sit for nearly half an hour;
not talking much, but wondrously happy; not a single vow of troth
interchanged. No, not even a word that could be construed into “I love.”
 And yet when they rose from the bench, and went silently along the
brook-side, each knew that the other was beloved.

When they reached the gate that admitted into the garden of Grasmere,
Kenelm made a slight start. Mrs. Cameron was leaning over the gate.
Whatever alarm at the appearance Kenelm might have felt was certainly
not shared by Lily; she advanced lightly before him, kissed her aunt on
the cheek, and passed on across the lawn with a bound in her step and
the carol of a song upon her lips.

Kenelm remained by the gate, face to face with Mrs. Cameron. She opened
the gate, put her arm in his, and led him back along the brook-side.

“I am sure, Mr. Chillingly,” she said, “that you will not impute to my
words any meaning more grave than that which I wish them to convey,
when I remind you that there is no place too obscure to escape from the
ill-nature of gossip, and you must own that my niece incurs the chance
of its notice if she be seen walking alone in these by-paths with a
man of your age and position, and whose sojourn in the neighbourhood,
without any ostensible object or motive, has already begun to excite
conjecture. I do not for a moment assume that you regard my niece in any
other light than that of an artless child, whose originality of tastes
or fancy may serve to amuse you; and still less do I suppose that she
is in danger of misrepresenting any attentions on your part. But for her
sake I am bound to consider what others may say. Excuse me, then, if I
add that I think you are also bound in honour and in good feeling to do
the same. Mr. Chillingly, it would give me a great sense of relief if it
suited your plans to move from the neighbourhood.”

“My dear Mrs. Cameron,” answered Kenelm, who had listened to this speech
with imperturbable calm of visage, “I thank you much for your candour,
and I am glad to have this opportunity of informing you that I am about
to move from this neighbourhood, with the hope of returning to it in
a very few days and rectifying your mistake as to the point of view
in which I regard your niece. In a word,” here the expression of his
countenance and the tone of his voice underwent a sudden change, “it is
the dearest wish of my heart to be empowered by my parents to assure you
of the warmth with which they will welcome your niece as their daughter,
should she deign to listen to my suit and intrust me with the charge of
her happiness.”

Mrs. Cameron stopped short, gazing into his face with a look of
inexpressible dismay.

“No! Mr. Chillingly,” she exclaimed, “this must not be,--cannot be. Put
out of your mind an idea so wild. A young man’s senseless romance.
Your parents cannot consent to your union with my niece; I tell you
beforehand they cannot.”

“But why?” asked Kenelm, with a slight smile, and not much impressed by
the vehemence of Mrs. Cameron’s adjuration.

“Why?” she repeated passionately; and then recovering something of her
habitual weariness of quiet. “The why is easily explained. Mr. Kenelm
Chillingly is the heir of a very ancient house and, I am told, of
considerable estates. Lily Mordaunt is a nobody, an orphan, without
fortune, without connection, the ward of a humbly born artist, to
whom she owes the roof that shelters her; she is without the ordinary
education of a gentlewoman; she has seen nothing of the world in which
you move. Your parents have not the right to allow a son so young
as yourself to throw himself out of his proper sphere by a rash and
imprudent alliance. And, never would I consent, never would Walter
Melville consent, to her entering into any family reluctant to receive
her. There,--that is enough. Dismiss the notion so lightly entertained.
And farewell.”

“Madam,” answered Kenelm very earnestly, “believe me, that had I not
entertained the hope approaching to conviction that the reasons you urge
against my presumption will not have the weight with my parents which
you ascribe to them, I should not have spoken to you thus frankly. Young
though I be, still I might fairly claim the right to choose for myself
in marriage. But I gave to my father a very binding promise that I would
not formally propose to any one till I had acquainted him with my desire
to do so, and obtained his approval of my choice; and he is the last man
in the world who would withhold that approval where my heart is set on
it as it is now. I want no fortune with a wife, and should I ever care
to advance my position in the world, no connection would help me like
the approving smile of the woman I love. There is but one qualification
which my parents would deem they had the right to exact from my
choice of one who is to bear our name. I mean that she should have the
appearance, the manners, the principles, and--my mother at least might
add--the birth of a gentlewoman. Well, as to appearance and manners, I
have seen much of fine society from my boyhood, and found no one among
the highest born who can excel the exquisite refinement of every look,
and the inborn delicacy of every thought, in her of whom, if mine, I
shall be as proud as I shall be fond. As to defects in the frippery
and tinsel of a boarding-school education, they are very soon remedied.
Remains only the last consideration,--birth. Mrs. Braefield informs me
that you have assured her that, though circumstances into which as yet
I have no right to inquire, have made her the ward of a man of humble
origin, Miss Mordaunt is of gentle birth. Do you deny that?”

“No,” said Mrs. Cameron, hesitating, but with a flash of pride in her
eyes as she went on. “No. I cannot deny that my niece is descended from
those who, in point of birth, were not unequal to your own ancestors.
But what of that?” she added, with a bitter despondency of tone.
“Equality of birth ceases when one falls into poverty, obscurity,
neglect, nothingness!”

“Really this is a morbid habit on your part. But, since we have thus
spoken so confidentially, will you not empower me to answer the question
which will probably be put to me, and the answer to which will, I doubt
not, remove every obstacle in the way of my happiness? Whatever the
reasons which might very sufficiently induce you to preserve, whilst
living so quietly in this place, a discreet silence as to the parentage
of Miss Mordaunt and your own,--and I am well aware that those whom
altered circumstances of fortune have compelled to altered modes of life
may disdain to parade to strangers the pretensions to a higher station
than that to which they reconcile their habits,--whatever, I say,
such reasons for silence to strangers, should they preclude you from
confiding to me, an aspirant to your niece’s hand, a secret which, after
all, cannot be concealed from her future husband?”

“From her future husband? of course not,” answered Mrs. Cameron. “But I
decline to be questioned by one whom I may never see again, and of whom
I know so little. I decline, indeed, to assist in removing any obstacle
to a union with my niece, which I hold to be in every way unsuited to
either party. I have no cause even to believe that my niece would accept
you if you were free to propose to her. You have not, I presume, spoken
to her as an aspirant to her hand. You have not addressed to her
any declaration of your attachment, or sought to extract from her
inexperience any words that warrant you in thinking that her heart will
break if she never sees you again.”

“I do not merit such cruel and taunting questions,” said Kenelm,
indignantly. “But I will say no more now. When we again meet let me hope
you will treat me less unkindly. Adieu!”

“Stay, sir. A word or two more. You persist in asking your father and
Lady Chillingly to consent to your proposal to Miss Mordaunt?”

“Certainly I do.”

“And you will promise me, on your word as a gentleman, to state fairly
all the causes which might fairly operate against their consent,--the
poverty, the humble rearing, the imperfect education of my niece,--so
that they might not hereafter say you had entrapped their consent, and
avenge themselves for your deceit by contempt for her?”

“Ah, madam, madam, you really try my patience too far. But take my
promise, if you can hold that of value from one whom you can suspect of
deliberate deceit.”

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Chillingly. Bear with my rudeness. I have been
so taken by surprise, I scarcely know what I am saying. But let us
understand each other completely before we part. If your parents
withhold their consent you will communicate it to me; me only, not to
Lily. I repeat I know nothing of the state of her affections. But it
might embitter any girl’s life to be led on to love one whom she could
not marry.”

“It shall be as you say. But if they do consent?”

“Then you will speak to me before you seek an interview with Lily, for
then comes another question: Will her guardian consent?--and--and--”

“And what?”

“No matter. I rely on your honour in this request, as in all else.
Good-day.”

She turned back with hurried footsteps, muttering to herself, “But they
will not consent. Heaven grant that they will not consent, or if they
do, what--what is to be said or done? Oh, that Walter Melville were
here, or that I knew where to write to him!”

On his way back to Cromwell Lodge, Kenelm was overtaken by the vicar.

“I was coming to you, my dear Mr. Chillingly, first to thank you for the
very pretty present with which you have gladdened the heart of my little
Clemmy, and next to ask you to come with me quietly to-day to meet Mr.
-----, the celebrated antiquarian, who came to Moleswich this morning
at my request to examine that old Gothic tomb in our churchyard. Only
think, though he cannot read the inscription any better than we can, he
knows all about its history. It seems that a young knight renowned for
feats of valour in the reign of Henry IV. married a daughter of one of
those great Earls of Montfichet who were then the most powerful family
in these parts. He was slain in defending the church from an assault by
some disorderly rioters of the Lollard faction; he fell on the very spot
where the tomb is now placed. That accounts for its situation in the
churchyard, not within the fabric. Mr. ----- discovered this fact in
an old memoir of the ancient and once famous family to which the young
knight Albert belonged, and which came, alas! to so shameful an end,
the Fletwodes, Barons of Fletwode and Malpas. What a triumph over pretty
Lily Mordaunt, who always chose to imagine that the tomb must be that of
some heroine of her own romantic invention! Do come to dinner; Mr. -----
is a most agreeable man, and full of interesting anecdotes.”

“I am so sorry I cannot. I am obliged to return home at once for a few
days. That old family of Fletwode! I think I see before me, while we
speak, the gray tower in which they once held sway; and the last of the
race following Mammon along the Progress of the Age,--a convicted felon!
What a terrible satire on the pride of birth!”

Kenelm left Cromwell Lodge that evening, but he still kept on his
apartments there, saying he might be back unexpectedly any day in the
course of the next week.

He remained two days in London, wishing all that he had communicated to
Sir Peter in writing to sink into his father’s heart before a personal
appeal to it.

The more he revolved the ungracious manner in which Mrs. Cameron had
received his confidence, the less importance he attached to it. An
exaggerated sense of disparities of fortune in a person who appeared
to him to have the pride so common to those who have known better days,
coupled with a nervous apprehension lest his family should ascribe to
her any attempt to ensnare a very young man of considerable worldly
pretensions into a marriage with a penniless niece, seemed to account
for much that had at first perplexed and angered him. And if, as he
conjectured, Mrs. Cameron had once held a much higher position in the
world than she did now,--a conjecture warranted by a certain peculiar
conventional undeniable elegance which characterized her habitual
manner,--and was now, as she implied, actually a dependant on the bounty
of a painter who had only just acquired some professional distinction,
she might well shrink from the mortification of becoming an object of
compassion to her richer neighbours; nor, when he came to think of it,
had he any more right than those neighbours to any confidence as to
her own or Lily’s parentage, so long as he was not formally entitled to
claim admission into her privity.

London seemed to him intolerably dull and wearisome. He called nowhere
except at Lady Glenalvon’s; he was glad to hear from the servants that
she was still at Exmundham. He relied much on the influence of the queen
of the fashion with his mother, whom he knew would be more difficult to
persuade than Sir Peter, nor did he doubt that he should win to his side
that sympathizing and warm-hearted queen.



CHAPTER VII.

IT is somewhere about three weeks since the party invited by Sir Peter
and Lady Chillingly assembled at Exmundham, and they are still there,
though people invited to a country house have seldom compassion
enough for the dulness of its owner to stay more than three days. Mr.
Chillingly Mivers, indeed, had not exceeded that orthodox limit. Quietly
observant, during his stay, of young Gordon’s manner towards Cecilia,
and hers towards him, he had satisfied himself that there was no
cause to alarm Sir Peter, or induce the worthy baronet to regret the
invitation he had given to that clever kinsman. For all the visitors
remaining Exmundham had a charm.

To Lady Glenalvon, because in the hostess she met her most familiar
friend when both were young girls, and because it pleased her to note
the interest which Cecilia Travers took in the place so associated with
memories of the man to whom it was Lady Glenalvon’s hope to see her
united. To Chillingly Gordon, because no opportunity could be so
favourable for his own well-concealed designs on the hand and heart of
the heiress. To the heiress herself the charm needs no explanation.

To Leopold Travers the attractions of Exmundham were unquestionably less
fascinating. Still even he was well pleased to prolong his stay. His
active mind found amusement in wandering over an estate the acreage of
which would have warranted a much larger rental, and lecturing Sir Peter
on the old-fashioned system of husbandry which that good-natured easy
proprietor permitted his tenants to adopt, as well as on the number of
superfluous hands that were employed on the pleasure-grounds and in the
general management of the estate, such as carpenters, sawyers, woodmen,
bricklayers, and smiths.

When the Squire said, “You could do just as well with a third of those
costly dependants,” Sir Peter, unconsciously plagiarizing the answer of
the old French grand seigneur, replied, “Very likely. But the question
is, could the rest do just as well without me?”

Exmundham, indeed, was a very expensive place to keep up. The house,
built by some ambitious Chillingly three centuries ago, would have been
large for an owner of thrice the revenues; and though the flower-garden
was smaller than that at Braefieldville, there were paths and drives
through miles of young plantations and old woodlands that furnished lazy
occupation to an army of labourers. No wonder that, despite his nominal
ten thousand a year, Sir Peter was far from being a rich man. Exmundham
devoured at least half the rental. The active mind of Leopold Travers
also found ample occupation in the stores of his host’s extensive
library.

Travers, never much of a reader, was by no means a despiser of learning,
and he soon took to historical and archaeological researches with the
ardour of a man who must always throw energy into any pursuit that
occasion presents as an escape from indolence. Indolent Leopold Travers
never could be. But, more than either of these resources of occupation,
the companionship of Chillingly Gordon excited his interest and
quickened the current of his thoughts. Always fond of renewing his own
youth in the society of the young, and of the sympathizing temperament
which belongs to cordial natures, he had, as we have seen, entered very
heartily into the ambition of George Belvoir, and reconciled himself
very pliably to the humours of Kenelm Chillingly. But the first of these
two was a little too commonplace, the second a little too eccentric, to
enlist the complete good-fellowship which, being alike very clever and
very practical, Leopold Travers established with that very clever and
very practical representative of the rising generation, Chillingly
Gordon. Between them there was this meeting-ground, political and
worldly, a great contempt for innocuous old-fashioned notions; added to
which, in the mind of Leopold Travers, was a contempt--which would
have been complete, but that the contempt admitted dread--of harmful
new-fashioned notions which, interpreted by his thoughts, threatened
ruin to his country and downfall to the follies of existent society,
and which, interpreted by his language, tamed itself into the man of the
world’s phrase, “Going too far for me.” Notions which, by the much
more cultivated intellect and the immeasurably more soaring ambition of
Chillingly Gordon, might be viewed and criticised thus: “Could I accept
these doctrines? I don’t see my way to being Prime Minister of a country
in which religion and capital are still powers to be consulted. And,
putting aside religion and capital, I don’t see how, if these doctrines
passed into law, with a good coat on my back I should not be a sufferer.
Either I, as having a good coat, should have it torn off my back as a
capitalist, or, if I remonstrated in the name of moral honesty, be put
to death as a religionist.”

Therefore when Leopold Travers said, “Of course we must go on,”
 Chillingly Gordon smiled and answered, “Certainly, go on.” And when
Leopold Travers added, “But we may go too far,” Chillingly Gordon shook
his dead, and replied, “How true that is! Certainly too far.”

Apart from the congeniality of political sentiment, there were other
points of friendly contact between the older and younger man. Each was
an exceedingly pleasant man of the world; and, though Leopold Travers
could not have plumbed certain deeps in Chillingly Gordon’s nature,--and
in every man’s nature there are deeps which his ablest observer cannot
fathom,--yet he was not wrong when he said to himself, “Gordon is a
gentleman.”

Utterly would my readers misconceive that very clever young man, if they
held him to be a hypocrite like Blifil or Joseph Surface. Chillingly
Gordon, in every private sense of the word, was a gentleman. If he had
staked his whole fortune on a rubber at whist, and an undetected glance
at his adversary’s hand would have made the difference between loss and
gain, he would have turned away his head and said, “Hold up your cards.”
 Neither, as I have had occasion to explain before, was he actuated
by any motive in common with the vulgar fortune-hunter in his secret
resolve to win the hand of the heiress. He recognized no inequality of
worldly gifts between them. He said to himself, “Whatever she may give
me in money, I shall amply repay in worldly position if I succeed, and
succeed I certainly shall. If I were as rich as Lord Westminster, and
still cared about being Prime Minister, I should select her as the most
fitting woman I have seen for a Prime Minister’s wife.”

It must be acknowledged that this sort of self-commune, if not that of
a very ardent lover, is very much that of a sensible man setting high
value on himself, bent on achieving the prizes of a public career, and
desirous of securing in his wife a woman who would adorn the station
to which he confidently aspired. In fact, no one so able as Chillingly
Gordon would ever have conceived the ambition of being Minister of
England if in all that in private life constitutes the English gentleman
he could be fairly subject to reproach.

He was but in public life what many a gentleman honest in private life
has been before him, an ambitious, resolute egotist, by no means without
personal affections, but holding them all subordinate to the objects
of personal ambition, and with no more of other principle than that
of expediency in reference to his own career than would cover a silver
penny. But expediency in itself he deemed the statesman’s only rational
principle. And to the consideration of expediency he brought a very
unprejudiced intellect, quite fitted to decide whether the public
opinion of a free and enlightened people was for turning St. Paul’s
Cathedral into an Agapemone or not.

During the summer weeks he had thus vouchsafed to the turfs and groves
of Exmundham, Leopold Travers was not the only person whose good opinion
Chillingly Gordon had ingratiated. He had won the warmest approbation
from Mrs. Campion. His conversation reminded her of that which she had
enjoyed in the house of her departed spouse. In talking with Cecilia she
was fond of contrasting him to Kenelm, not to the favour of the
latter, whose humours she utterly failed to understand, and whom she
pertinaciously described as “so affected.” “A most superior young man
Mr. Gordon, so well informed, so sensible,--above all, so natural.” Such
was her judgment upon the unavowed candidate to Cecilia’s hand; and
Mrs. Campion required no avowal to divine the candidature. Even Lady
Glenalvon had begun to take friendly interest in the fortunes of this
promising young man. Most women can sympathize with youthful ambition.
He impressed her with a deep conviction of his abilities, and still more
with respect for their concentration upon practical objects of power
and renown. She too, like Mrs. Campion, began to draw comparisons
unfavourable to Kenelm between the two cousins: the one seemed so
slothfully determined to hide his candle under a bushel, the other so
honestly disposed to set his light before men. She felt also annoyed and
angry that Kenelm was thus absenting himself from the paternal home at
the very time of her first visit to it, and when he had so felicitous
an opportunity of seeing more of the girl in whom he knew that Lady
Glenalvon deemed he might win, if he would properly woo, the wife that
would best suit him. So that when one day Mrs. Campion, walking through
the gardens alone with Lady Glenalvon while from the gardens into the
park went Chillingly Gordon, arm-in-arm with Leopold Travers, abruptly
asked, “Don’t you think that Mr. Gordon is smitten with Cecilia, though
he, with his moderate fortune, does not dare to say so? And don’t you
think that any girl, if she were as rich as Cecilia will be, would be
more proud of such a husband as Chillingly Gordon than of some silly
earl?”

Lady Glenalvon answered curtly, but somewhat sorrowfully, “Yes.”

After a pause she added, “There is a man with whom I did once think she
would have been happier than with any other. One man who ought to be
dearer to me than Mr. Gordon, for he saved the life of my son, and who,
though perhaps less clever than Mr. Gordon, still has a great deal of
talent within him, which might come forth and make him--what shall I
say?--a useful and distinguished member of society, if married to a girl
so sure of raising any man she marries as Cecilia Travers. But if I am
to renounce that hope, and look through the range of young men brought
under my notice, I don’t know one, putting aside consideration of rank
and fortune, I should prefer for a clever daughter who went heart and
soul with the ambition of a clever man. But, Mrs. Campion, I have not
yet quite renounced my hope; and, unless I do, I yet think there is one
man to whom I would rather give Cecilia, if she were my daughter.”

Therewith Lady Glenalvon so decidedly broke off the subject of
conversation that Mrs. Campion could not have renewed it without such a
breach of the female etiquette of good breeding as Mrs. Campion was the
last person to adventure.

Lady Chillingly could not help being pleased with Gordon. He was light
in hand, served to amuse her guests, and made up a rubber of whist in
case of need.

There were two persons, however, with whom Gordon made no ground;
namely, Parson John and Sir Peter. When Travers praised him one day for
the solidity of his parts and the soundness of his judgment, the Parson
replied snappishly, “Yes, solid and sound as one of those tables you
buy at a broker’s; the thickness of the varnish hides the defects in
the joints: the whole framework is rickety.” But when the Parson was
indignantly urged to state the reason by which he arrived at so harsh
a conclusion, he could only reply by an assertion which seemed to his
questioner a declamatory burst of parsonic intolerance.

“Because,” said Parson John, “he has no love for man, and no reverence
for God. And no character is sound and solid which enlarges its surface
at the expense of its supports.”

On the other hand, the favour with which Sir Peter had at first regarded
Gordon gradually vanished, in proportion as, acting on the hint Mivers
had originally thrown out but did not deem it necessary to repeat, he
watched the pains which the young man took to insinuate himself into
the good graces of Mr. Travers and Mrs. Campion, and the artful and
half-suppressed gallantry of his manner to the heiress.

Perhaps Gordon had not ventured thus “to feel his way” till after Mivers
had departed; or perhaps Sir Peter’s parental anxiety rendered him, in
this instance, a shrewder observer than was the man of the world,
whose natural acuteness was, in matters of affection, not unfrequently
rendered languid by his acquired philosophy of indifferentism.

More and more every day, every hour, of her sojourn beneath his roof,
did Cecilia become dearer to Sir Peter, and stronger and stronger became
his wish to secure her for his daughter-in-law. He was inexpressibly
flattered by her preference for his company: ever at hand to share his
customary walks, his kindly visits to the cottages of peasants or the
homesteads of petty tenants; wherein both were sure to hear many a
simple anecdote of Master Kenelm in his childhood, anecdotes of whim or
good-nature, of considerate pity or reckless courage.

Throughout all these varieties of thought or feeling in the social
circle around her, Lady Chillingly preserved the unmoved calm of her
dignified position. A very good woman certainly, and very ladylike. No
one could detect a flaw in her character, or a fold awry in her flounce.
She was only, like the gods of Epicurus, too good to trouble her serene
existence with the cares of us simple mortals. Not that she was without
a placid satisfaction in the tribute which the world laid upon her
altars; nor was she so supremely goddess-like as to soar above the
household affections which humanity entails on the dwellers and denizens
of earth. She liked her husband as much as most elderly wives like their
elderly husbands. She bestowed upon Kenelm a liking somewhat more warm,
and mingled with compassion. His eccentricities would have puzzled her,
if she had allowed herself to be puzzled: it troubled her less to pity
them. She did not share her husband’s desire for his union with Cecilia.
She thought that her son would have a higher place in the county if he
married Lady Jane, the Duke of Clanville’s daughter; and “that is what
he ought to do,” said Lady Chillingly to herself. She entertained
none of the fear that had induced Sir Peter to extract from Kenelm
the promise not to pledge his hand before he had received his father’s
consent. That the son of Lady Chillingly should make a _mesalliance_,
however crotchety he might be in other respects, was a thought that it
would have so disturbed her to admit that she did not admit it.

Such was the condition of things at Exmundham when the lengthy
communication of Kenelm reached Sir Peter’s hands.



BOOK VIII.



CHAPTER I.

NEVER in his whole life had the mind of Sir Peter been so agitated as it
was during and after the perusal of Kenelm’s flighty composition. He had
received it at the breakfast-table, and, opening it eagerly, ran his eye
hastily over the contents, till he very soon arrived at sentences
which appalled him. Lady Chillingly, who was fortunately busied at the
tea-urn, did not observe the dismay on his countenance. It was visible
only to Cecilia and to Gordon. Neither guessed who that letter was from.

“No bad news, I hope,” said Cecilia, softly.

“Bad news,” echoed Sir Peter. “No, my dear, no; a letter on business.
It seems terribly long,” and he thrust the packet into his pocket,
muttering, “see to it by and by.”

“That slovenly farmer of yours, Mr. Nostock, has failed, I suppose,”
 said Mr. Travers, looking up and observing a quiver on his host’s
lip. “I told you he would,--a fine farm too. Let me choose you another
tenant.”

Sir Peter shook his head with a wan smile.

“Nostock will not fail. There have been six generations of Nostocks on
the farm.”

“So I should guess,” said Travers, dryly.

“And--and,” faltered Sir Peter, “if the last of the race fails, he must
lean upon me, and--if one of the two break down--it shall not be--”

“Shall not be that cross-cropping blockhead, my dear Sir Peter. This is
carrying benevolence too far.”

Here the tact and _savoir vivre_ of Chillingly Gordon came to the rescue
of the host. Possessing himself of the “Times” newspaper, he uttered an
exclamation of surprise, genuine or simulated, and read aloud an extract
from the leading article, announcing an impending change in the Cabinet.

As soon as he could quit the breakfast-table, Sir Peter hurried into
his library and there gave himself up to the study of Kenelm’s unwelcome
communication. The task took him long, for he stopped at intervals,
overcome by the struggle of his heart, now melted into sympathy with the
passionate eloquence of a son hitherto so free from amorous romance, and
now sorrowing for the ruin of his own cherished hopes. This uneducated
country girl would never be such a helpmate to a man like Kenelm as
would have been Cecilia Travers. At length, having finished the letter,
he buried his head between his clasped hands, and tried hard to
realize the situation that placed the father and son into such direct
antagonism.

“But,” he murmured, “after all it is the boy’s happiness that must be
consulted. If he will not be happy in my way, what right have I to say
that he shall not be happy in his?”

Just then Cecilia came softly into the room. She had acquired the
privilege of entering his library at will; sometimes to choose a book of
his recommendation, sometimes to direct and seal his letters,--Sir Peter
was grateful to any one who saved him an extra trouble,--and
sometimes, especially at this hour, to decoy him forth into his wonted
constitutional walk.

He lifted his face at the sound of her approaching tread and her winning
voice, and the face was so sad that the tears rushed to her eyes on
seeing it. She laid her hand on his shoulder, and said pleadingly, “Dear
Sir Peter, what is it,--what is it?”

“Ah--ah, my dear,” said Sir Peter, gathering up the scattered sheets of
Kenelm’s effusion with hurried, trembling hands. “Don’t ask,--don’t talk
of it; ‘tis but one of the disappointments that all of us must undergo,
when we invest our hopes in the uncertain will of others.”

Then, observing that the tears were trickling down the girl’s fair, pale
cheeks, he took her hand in both his, kissed her forehead, and said,
whisperingly, “Pretty one, how good you have been to me! Heaven bless
you. What a wife you will be to some man!”

Thus saying, he shambled out of the room through the open casement. She
followed him impulsively, wonderingly; but before she reached his side
he turned round, waved his hand with a gently repelling gesture, and
went his way alone through dense fir-groves which had been planted in
honour of Kenelm’s birth.



CHAPTER II.

KENELM arrived at Exmundham just in time to dress for dinner. His
arrival was not unexpected, for the morning after his father had
received his communication, Sir Peter had said to Lady Chillingly--“that
he had heard from Kenelm to the effect that he might be down any day.”

“Quite time he should come,” said Lady Chillingly. “Have you his letter
about you?”

“No, my dear Caroline. Of course he sends you his kindest love, poor
fellow.”

“Why poor fellow? Has he been ill?”

“No; but there seems to be something on his mind. If so we must do what
we can to relieve it. He is the best of sons, Caroline.”

“I am sure I have nothing to say against him, except,” added her
Ladyship, reflectively, “that I do wish he were a little more like other
young men.”

“Hum--like Chillingly Gordon, for instance?”

“Well, yes; Mr. Gordon is a remarkably well-bred, sensible young man.
How different from that disagreeable, bearish father of his, who went to
law with you!”

“Very different indeed, but with just as much of the Chillingly blood in
him. How the Chillinglys ever gave birth to a Kenelm is a question much
more puzzling.”

“Oh, my dear Sir Peter, don’t be metaphysical. You know how I hate
puzzles.”

“And yet, Caroline, I have to thank you for a puzzle which I can never
interpret by my brain. There are a great many puzzles in human nature
which can only be interpreted by the heart.”

“Very true,” said Lady Chillingly. “I suppose Kenelm is to have his old
room, just opposite to Mr. Gordon’s.”

“Ay--ay, just opposite. Opposite they will be all their lives. Only
think, Caroline, I have made a discovery!”

“Dear me! I hope not. Your discoveries are generally very expensive, and
bring us in contact with such very odd people.”

“This discovery shall not cost us a penny, and I don’t know any people
so odd as not to comprehend it. Briefly it is this: To genius the
first requisite is heart; it is no requisite at all to talent. My dear
Caroline, Gordon has as much talent as any young man I know, but he
wants the first requisite of genius. I am not by any means sure that
Kenelm has genius, but there is no doubt that he has the first requisite
of genius,--heart. Heart is a very perplexing, wayward, irrational
thing; and that perhaps accounts for the general incapacity to
comprehend genius, while any fool can comprehend talent. My dear
Caroline, you know that it is very seldom, not more than once in three
years, that I presume to have a will of my own against a will of yours;
but should there come a question in which our son’s heart is concerned,
then (speaking between ourselves) my will must govern yours.”

“Sir Peter is growing more odd every day,” said Lady Chillingly to
herself when left alone. “But he does not mean ill, and there are worse
husbands in the world.”

Therewith she rang for her maid, gave requisite orders for the preparing
of Kenelm’s room, which had not been slept in for many months, and then
consulted that functionary as to the adaptation of some dress of hers,
too costly to be laid aside, to the style of some dress less costly
which Lady Glenalvon had imported from Paris as _la derniere mode_.

On the very day on which Kenelm arrived at Exmundham, Chillingly Gordon
had received this letter from Mr. Gerald Danvers.


DEAR GORDON,--In the ministerial changes announced as rumour in the
public papers, and which you may accept as certain, that sweet little
cherub--is to be sent to sit up aloft and pray there for the life of
poor Jack; namely, of the government he leaves below. In accepting the
peerage, which I persuaded him to do,--creates a vacancy for the
borough of -----, just the place for you, far better in every way than
Saxborough. ----- promises to recommend you to his committee. Come to
town at once. Yours, etc.

   G. DANVERS.


Gordon showed this letter to Mr. Travers, and, on receiving the hearty
good-wishes of that gentleman, said, with emotion partly genuine, partly
assumed, “You cannot guess all that the realization of your good-wishes
would be. Once in the House of Commons, and my motives for action are
so strong that--do not think me very conceited if I count upon
Parliamentary success.”

“My clear Gordon, I am as certain of your success as I am of my own
existence.”

“Should I succeed,--should the great prizes of public life be within
my reach,--should I lift myself into a position that would warrant my
presumption, do you think I could come to you and say, ‘There is an
object of ambition dearer to me than power and office,--the hope of
attaining which was the strongest of all my motives of action? And in
that hope shall I also have the good-wishes of the father of Cecilia
Travers?”

“My dear fellow, give me your hand; you speak manfully and candidly as a
gentleman should speak. I answer in the same spirit. I don’t pretend
to say that I have not entertained views for Cecilia which included
hereditary rank and established fortune in a suitor to her hand, though
I never should have made them imperative conditions. I am neither
potentate nor _parvenu_ enough for that; and I can never forget” (here
every muscle in the man’s face twitched) “that I myself married for
love, and was so happy. How happy Heaven only knows! Still, if you had
thus spoken a few weeks ago, I should not have replied very favourably
to your question. But now that I have seen so much of you, my answer is
this: If you lose your election,--if you don’t come into Parliament
at all, you have my good-wishes all the same. If you win my daughter’s
heart, there is no man on whom I would more willingly bestow her hand.
There she is, by herself too, in the garden. Go and talk to her.”

Gordon hesitated. He knew too well that he had not won her heart, though
he had no suspicion that it was given to another. And he was much
too clever not to know also how much he hazards who, in affairs of
courtship, is premature.

“Ah!” he said, “I cannot express my gratitude for words so generous,
encouragement so cheering. But I have never yet dared to utter to Miss
Travers a word that would prepare her even to harbour a thought of me as
a suitor. And I scarcely think I should have the courage to go through
this election with the grief of her rejection on my heart.”

“Well, go in and win the election first; meanwhile, at all events, take
leave of Cecilia.”

Gordon left his friend, and joined Miss Travers, resolved not indeed
to risk a formal declaration, but to sound his way to his chances of
acceptance.

The interview was very brief. He did sound his way skilfully, and felt
it very unsafe for his footsteps. The advantage of having gained the
approval of the father was too great to be lost altogether, by one of
those decided answers on the part of the daughter which allow of no
appeal, especially to a poor gentleman who wooes an heiress.

He returned to Travers, and said simply, “I bear with me her good-wishes
as well as yours. That is all. I leave myself in your kind hands.”

Then he hurried away to take leave of his host and hostess, say a few
significant words to the ally he had already gained in Mrs. Campion, and
within an hour was on his road to London, passing on his way the train
that bore Kenelm to Exmundham. Gordon was in high spirits. At least he
felt as certain of winning Cecilia as he did of winning his election.

“I have never yet failed in what I desired,” said he to himself,
“because I have ever taken pains not to fail.”

The cause of Gordon’s sudden departure created a great excitement in
that quiet circle, shared by all except Cecilia and Sir Peter.



CHAPTER III.

KENELM did not see either father or mother till he appeared at dinner.
Then he was seated next to Cecilia. There was but little conversation
between the two; in fact, the prevalent subject of talk was general and
engrossing, the interest in Chillingly Gordon’s election; predictions
of his success, of what he would do in Parliament. “Where,” said Lady
Glenalvon, “there is such a dearth of rising young men, that if he were
only half as clever as he is he would be a gain.”

“A gain to what?” asked Sir Peter, testily. “To his country? about which
I don’t believe he cares a brass button.”

To this assertion Leopold Travers replied warmly, and was not less
warmly backed by Mrs. Campion.

“For my part,” said Lady Glenalvon, in conciliatory accents, “I think
every able man in Parliament is a gain to the country; and he may not
serve his country less effectively because he does not boast of his
love for it. The politicians I dread most are those so rampant in France
nowadays, the bawling patriots. When Sir Robert Walpole said, ‘All
those men have their price,’ he pointed to the men who called themselves
‘patriots.’”

“Bravo!” cried Travers.

“Sir Robert Walpole showed his love for his country by corrupting it.
There are many ways besides bribing for corrupting a country,” said
Kenelm, mildly, and that was Kenelm’s sole contribution to the general
conversation.

It was not till the rest of the party had retired to rest that the
conference, longed for by Kenelm, dreaded by Sir Peter, took place in
the library. It lasted deep into the night; both parted with lightened
hearts and a fonder affection for each other. Kenelm had drawn so
charming a picture of the Fairy, and so thoroughly convinced Sir Peter
that his own feelings towards her were those of no passing youthful
fancy, but of that love which has its roots in the innermost heart,
that though it was still with a sigh, a deep sigh, that he dismissed
the thought of Cecilia, Sir Peter did dismiss it; and, taking comfort at
last from the positive assurance that Lily was of gentle birth, and
the fact that her name of Mordaunt was that of ancient and illustrious
houses, said, with half a smile, “It might have been worse, my dear
boy. I began to be afraid that, in spite of the teachings of Mivers and
Welby, it was ‘The Miller’s Daughter,’ after all. But we still have
a difficult task to persuade your poor mother. In covering your first
flight from our roof I unluckily put into her head the notion of Lady
Jane, a duke’s daughter, and the notion has never got out of it. That
comes of fibbing.”

“I count on Lady Glenalvon’s influence on my mother in support of
your own,” said Kenelm. “If so accepted an oracle in the great world
pronounce in my favour, and promise to present my wife at Court and
bring her into fashion, I think that my mother will consent to allow us
to reset the old family diamonds for her next reappearance in London.
And then, too, you can tell her that I will stand for the county. I will
go into Parliament, and if I meet there our clever cousin, and find that
he does not care a brass button for the country, take my word for it, I
will lick him more easily than I licked Tom Bowles.”

“Tom Bowles! who is he?--ah! I remember some letter of yours in which
you spoke of a Bowles, whose favourite study was mankind, a moral
philosopher.”

“Moral philosophers,” answered Kenelm, “have so muddled their brains
with the alcohol of new ideas that their moral legs have become shaky,
and the humane would rather help them to bed than give them a licking.
My Tom Bowles is a muscular Christian, who became no less muscular, but
much more Christian, after he was licked.”

And in this pleasant manner these two oddities settled their conference,
and went up to bed with arms wrapped round each other’s shoulder.



CHAPTER IV.

KENELM found it a much harder matter to win Lady Glenalvon to his side
than he had anticipated. With the strong interest she had taken in
Kenelm’s future, she could not but revolt from the idea of his union
with an obscure portionless girl whom he had only known a few weeks,
and of whose very parentage he seemed to know nothing, save an assurance
that she was his equal in birth. And, with the desire, which she had
cherished almost as fondly as Sir Peter, that Kenelm might win a bride
in every way so worthy of his choice as Cecilia Travers, she felt not
less indignant than regretful at the overthrow of her plans.

At first, indeed, she was so provoked that she would not listen to
his pleadings. She broke away from him with a rudeness she had never
exhibited to any one before, refused to grant him another interview in
order to re-discuss the matter, and said that, so far from using her
influence in favour of his romantic folly, she would remonstrate well
with Lady Chillingly and Sir Peter against yielding their assent to his
“thus throwing himself away.”

It was not till the third day after his arrival that, touched by the
grave but haughty mournfulness of his countenance, she yielded to the
arguments of Sir Peter in the course of a private conversation with that
worthy baronet. Still it was reluctantly (she did not fulfil her threat
of remonstrance with Lady Chillingly) that she conceded the point,
that a son who, succeeding to the absolute fee-simple of an estate, had
volunteered the resettlement of it on terms singularly generous to both
his parents, was entitled to some sacrifice of their inclinations on a
question in which he deemed his happiness vitally concerned; and that he
was of age to choose for himself independently of their consent, but for
a previous promise extracted from him by his father, a promise which,
rigidly construed, was not extended to Lady Chillingly, but confined
to Sir Peter as the head of the family and master of the household. The
father’s consent was already given, and, if in his reverence for both
parents Kenelm could not dispense with his mother’s approval, surely
it was the part of a true friend to remove every scruple from his
conscience, and smooth away every obstacle to a love not to be condemned
because it was disinterested.

After this conversation, Lady Glenalvon sought Kenelm, found him
gloomily musing on the banks of the trout-stream, took his arm, led him
into the sombre glades of the fir-grove, and listened patiently to
all he had to say. Even then her woman’s heart was not won to his
reasonings, until he said pathetically, “You thanked me once for saving
your son’s life: you said then that you could never repay me; you can
repay me tenfold. Could your son, who is now, we trust, in heaven, look
down and judge between us, do you think he would approve you if you
refuse?”

Then Lady Glenalvon wept, and took his hand, kissed his forehead as
a mother might kiss it, and said, “You triumph; I will go to Lady
Chillingly at once. Marry her whom you so love, on one condition: marry
her from my house.”

Lady Glenalvon was not one of those women who serve a friend by
halves. She knew well how to propitiate and reason down the apathetic
temperament of Lady Chillingly; she did not cease till that lady herself
came into Kenelm’s room, and said very quietly,--

“So you are going to propose to Miss Mordaunt, the Warwickshire
Mordaunts I suppose? Lady Glenalvon says she is a very lovely girl,
and will stay with her before the wedding. And as the young lady is an
orphan Lady Glenalvon’s uncle the Duke, who is connected with the eldest
branch of the Mordaunts, will give her away. It will be a very brilliant
affair. I am sure I wish you happy; it is time you should have sown your
wild oats.”

Two days after the consent thus formally given, Kenelm quitted
Exmundham. Sir Peter would have accompanied him to pay his respects to
the intended, but the agitation he had gone through brought on a sharp
twinge of the gout, which consigned his feet to flannels.

After Kenelm had gone, Lady Glenalvon went into Cecilia’s room. Cecilia
was seated very desolately by the open window. She had detected that
something of an anxious and painful nature had been weighing upon the
minds of father and son, and had connected it with the letter which had
so disturbed the even mind of Sir Peter; but she did not divine what the
something was, and if mortified by a certain reserve, more distant than
heretofore, which had characterized Kenelm’s manner towards herself,
the mortification was less sensibly felt than a tender sympathy for the
sadness she had observed on his face and yearned to soothe. His reserve
had, however, made her own manner more reserved than of old, for which
she was now rather chiding herself than reproaching him.

Lady Glenalvon put her arms round Cecilia’s neck and kissed her,
whispering, “That man has so disappointed me: he is so unworthy of the
happiness I had once hoped for him!”

“Whom do you speak of?” murmured Cecilia, turning very pale.

“Kenelm Chillingly. It seems that he has conceived a fancy for some
penniless girl whom he has met in his wanderings, has come here to
get the consent of his parents to propose to her, has obtained their
consent, and is gone to propose.”

Cecilia remained silent for a moment with her eyes closed, then she
said, “He is worthy of all happiness, and he would never make an
unworthy choice. Heaven bless him--and--and--” She would have added,
“his bride,” but her lips refused to utter the word bride.

“Cousin Gordon is worth ten of him,” cried Lady Glenalvon, indignantly.

She had served Kenelm, but she had not forgiven him.



CHAPTER V.

KENELM slept in London that night, and, the next day, being singularly
fine for an English summer, he resolved to go to Moleswich on foot. He
had no need this time to encumber himself with a knapsack; he had left
sufficient change of dress in his lodgings at Cromwell Lodge.

It was towards the evening when he found himself in one of the prettiest
rural villages by which


   “Wanders the hoary Thames along
   His silver-winding way.”


It was not in the direct road from London to Moleswich, but it was a
pleasanter way for a pedestrian. And when, quitting the long street of
the sultry village, he came to the shelving margin of the river, he was
glad to rest a while, enjoy the cool of the rippling waters, and listen
to their placid murmurs amid the rushes in the bordering shallows. He
had ample time before him. His rambles while at Cromwell Lodge had made
him familiar with the district for miles round Moleswich, and he knew
that a footpath through the fields at the right would lead him, in less
than an hour, to the side of the tributary brook on which Cromwell Lodge
was placed, opposite the wooden bridge which conducted to Grasmere and
Moleswich.

To one who loves the romance of history, English history, the whole
course of the Thames is full of charm. Ah! could I go back to the days
in which younger generations than that of Kenelm Chillingly were unborn,
when every wave of the Rhine spoke of history and romance to me, what
fairies should meet on thy banks, O thou our own Father Thames! Perhaps
some day a German pilgrim may repay tenfold to thee the tribute rendered
by the English kinsman to the Father Rhine.

Listening to the whispers of the reeds, Kenelm Chillingly felt the
haunting influence of the legendary stream. Many a poetic incident or
tradition in antique chronicle, many a votive rhyme in song, dear to
forefathers whose very names have become a poetry to us, thronged dimly
and confusedly back to his memory, which had little cared to retain such
graceful trinkets in the treasure-house of love. But everything that,
from childhood upward, connects itself with romance, revives with yet
fresher bloom in the memories of him who loves.

And to this man, through the first perilous season of youth, so
abnormally safe from youth’s most wonted peril,--to this would-be
pupil of realism, this learned adept in the schools of a Welby or a
Mivers,--to this man, love came at last as with the fatal powers of
the fabled Cytherea; and with that love all the realisms of life became
ideals, all the stern lines of our commonplace destinies undulated into
curves of beauty, all the trite sounds of our every-day life attuned
into delicacies of song. How full of sanguine yet dreamy bliss was his
heart--and seemed his future--in the gentle breeze and the softened glow
of that summer eve! He should see Lily the next morn, and his lips were
now free to say all that they had as yet suppressed.

Suddenly he was roused from the half-awake, half-asleep happiness that
belongs to the moments in which we transport ourselves into Elysium, by
the carol of a voice more loudly joyous than that of his own heart--


        “Singing, singing,
   Lustily singing,
   Down the road, with his dogs before,
   Came the Ritter of Nierestein.”


Kenelm turned his head so quickly that he frightened Max, who had for
the last minute been standing behind him inquisitively with one paw
raised, and sniffing, in some doubt whether he recognized an old
acquaintance; but at Kenelm’s quick movement the animal broke into a
nervous bark, and ran back to his master.

The minstrel, little heeding the figure reclined on the bank, would have
passed on with his light tread and his cheery carol, but Kenelm rose to
his feet, and holding out his hand, said, “I hope you don’t share Max’s
alarm at meeting me again?”

“Ah, my young philosopher, is it indeed you?”

“If I am to be designated a philosopher it is certainly not I. And,
honestly speaking, I am not the same. I, who spent that pleasant day
with you among the fields round Luscombe two years ago--”

“Or who advised me at Tor Hadham to string my lyre to the praise of a
beefsteak. I, too, am not quite the same,--I, whose dog presented you
with the begging-tray.”

“Yet you still go through the world singing.”

“Even that vagrant singing time is pretty well over. But I disturbed you
from your repose; I would rather share it. You are probably not going my
way, and as I am in no hurry, I should not like to lose the opportunity
chance has so happily given me of renewing acquaintance with one who has
often been present to my thoughts since we last met.” Thus saying, the
minstrel stretched himself at ease on the bank, and Kenelm followed his
example.

There certainly was a change in the owner of the dog with the
begging-tray, a change in costume, in countenance, in that indescribable
self-evidence which we call “manner.” The costume was not that Bohemian
attire in which Kenelm had first encountered the wandering minstrel, nor
the studied, more graceful garb, which so well became his shapely form
during his visit to Luscombe. It was now neatly simple, the cool and
quiet summer dress any English gentleman might adopt in a long rural
walk. And as he uncovered his head to court the cooling breeze, there
was a graver dignity in the man’s handsome Rubens-like face, a line of
more concentrated thought in the spacious forehead, a thread or two of
gray shimmering here and there through the thick auburn curls of hair
and beard. And in his manner, though still very frank, there was just
perceptible a sort of self-assertion, not offensive, but manly; such
as does not misbecome one of maturer years, and of some established
position, addressing another man much younger than himself, who in
all probability has achieved no position at all beyond that which the
accident of birth might assign to him.

“Yes,” said the minstrel, with a half-suppressed sigh, “the last year
of my vagrant holidays has come to its close. I recollect that the first
day we met by the road-side fountain, I advised you to do like me, seek
amusement and adventure as a foot-traveller. Now, seeing you, evidently
a gentleman by education and birth, still a foot-traveller, I feel as if
I ought to say, ‘You have had enough of such experience: vagabond life
has its perils as well as charms; cease it, and settle down.’”

“I think of doing so,” replied Kenelm, laconically.

“In a profession?--army, law, medicine?”

“No.”

“Ah, in marriage then. Right; give me your hand on that. So a petticoat
indeed has at last found its charm for you in the actual world as well
as on the canvas of a picture?”

“I conclude,” said Kenelm, evading any direct notice of that playful
taunt, “I conclude from your remark that it is in marriage _you_ are
about to settle down.”

“Ay, could I have done so before I should have been saved from many
errors, and been many years nearer to the goal which dazzled my sight
through the haze of my boyish dreams.”

“What is that goal,--the grave?”

“The grave! That which allows of no grave,--fame.”

“I see--despite of what you just now said--you still mean to go through
the world seeking a poet’s fame.”

“Alas! I resign that fancy,” said the minstrel, with another half-sigh.
“It was not indeed wholly, but in great part the hope of the poet’s fame
that made me a truant in the way to that which destiny, and such few
gifts as Nature conceded to me, marked out for my proper and only goal.
But what a strange, delusive Will-o’-the-Wisp the love of verse-making
is! How rarely a man of good sense deceives himself as to other things
for which he is fitted, in which he can succeed; but let him once drink
into his being the charm of verse-making, how the glamour of the charm
bewitches his understanding! how long it is before he can believe that
the world will not take his word for it, when he cries out to sun, moon,
and stars, ‘I, too, am a poet.’ And with what agonies, as if at the
wrench of soul from life, he resigns himself at last to the conviction
that whether he or the world be right, it comes to the same thing. Who
can plead his cause before a court that will not give him a hearing?”

It was with an emotion so passionately strong, and so intensely painful,
that the owner of the dog with the begging-tray thus spoke, that Kenelm
felt, through sympathy, as if he himself were torn asunder by the wrench
of life from soul. But then Kenelm was a mortal so eccentric that, if
a single acute suffering endured by a fellow mortal could be brought
before the evidence of his senses, I doubt whether he would not have
suffered as much as that fellow-mortal. So that, though if there were a
thing in the world which Kenelm Chillingly would care not to do, it was
verse-making, his mind involuntarily hastened to the arguments by which
he could best mitigate the pang of the verse-maker.

Quoth he: “According to my very scanty reading, you share the love
of verse-making with men the most illustrious in careers which have
achieved the goal of fame. It must, then, be a very noble love:
Augustus, Pollio, Varius, Maecenas,--the greatest statesmen of their
day,--they were verse-makers. Cardinal Richelieu was a verse-maker;
Walter Raleigh and Philip Sidney, Fox, Burke, Sheridan, Warren
Hastings, Canning, even the grave William Pitt,--all were verse-makers.
Verse-making did not retard--no doubt the qualities essential to
verse-making accelerated--their race to the goal of fame. What great
painters have been verse-makers! Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci,
Salvator Rosa”--and Heaven knows how may other great names Kenelm
Chillingly might have proceeded to add to his list, if the minstrel had
not here interposed.

“What! all those mighty painters were verse-makers?”

“Verse-makers so good, especially Michael Angelo,--the greatest painter
of all,--that they would have had the fame of poets, if, unfortunately
for that goal of fame, their glory in the sister art of painting did not
outshine it. But when you give to your gift of song the modest title of
verse-making, permit me to observe that your gift is perfectly distinct
from that of the verse-maker. Your gift, whatever it may be, could not
exist without some sympathy with the non verse-making human heart.
No doubt in your foot travels, you have acquired not only observant
intimacy with external Nature in the shifting hues at each hour of a
distant mountain, in the lengthening shadows which yon sunset casts on
the waters at our feet, in the habits of the thrush dropped fearlessly
close beside me, in that turf moistened by its neighbourhood to those
dripping rushes, all of which I could describe no less accurately than
you,--as a Peter Bell might describe them no less accurately than a
William Wordsworth. But in such songs of yours as you have permitted me
to hear, you seem to have escaped out of that elementary accidence
of the poet’s art, and to touch, no matter how slightly, on the only
lasting interest which the universal heart of man can have in the song
of the poet; namely, in the sound which the poet’s individual sympathy
draws forth from the latent chords in that universal heart. As for what
you call ‘the world,’ what is it more than the fashion of the present
day? How far the judgment of that is worth a poet’s pain I can’t pretend
to say. But of one thing I am sure, that while I could as easily square
the circle as compose a simple couplet addressed to the heart of a
simple audience with sufficient felicity to decoy their praises
into Max’s begging-tray, I could spin out by the yard the sort of
verse-making which characterizes the fashion of the present day.”

Much flattered, and not a little amused, the wandering minstrel turned
his bright countenance, no longer dimmed by a cloud, towards that of his
lazily reclined consoler, and answered gayly,--

“You say that you could spin out by the yard verses in the fashion of
the present day. I wish you would give me a specimen of your skill in
that handiwork.”

“Very well; on one condition, that you will repay my trouble by
a specimen of your own verses, not in the fashion of the present
day,--something which I can construe. I defy you to construe mine.”

“Agreed.”

“Well, then, let us take it for granted that this is the Augustan age of
English poetry, and that the English language is dead, like the Latin.
Suppose I am writing for a prize-medal in English, as I wrote at
college for a prize-medal in Latin: of course, I shall be successful in
proportion as I introduce the verbal elegances peculiar to our Augustan
age, and also catch the prevailing poetic characteristic of that
classical epoch.

“Now I think that every observant critic will admit that the striking
distinctions of the poetry most in the fashion of the present day,
namely, of the Augustan age, are,--first, a selection of such verbal
elegances as would have been most repulsive to the barbaric taste of the
preceding century; and, secondly, a very lofty disdain of all prosaic
condescensions to common-sense, and an elaborate cultivation of that
element of the sublime which Mr. Burke defines under the head of
obscurity.

“These premises conceded, I will only ask you to choose the metre. Blank
verse is very much in fashion just now.”

“Pooh! blank verse indeed! I am not going so to free your experiment
from the difficulties of rhyme.”

“It is all one to me,” said Kenelm, yawning; “rhyme be it: heroic or
lyrical?”

“Heroics are old-fashioned; but the Chaucer couplet, as brought to
perfection by our modern poets, I think the best adapted to dainty
leaves and uncrackable nuts. I accept the modern Chaucerian. The
subject?”

“Oh, never trouble yourself about that. By whatever title your Augustan
verse-maker labels his poem, his genius, like Pindar’s, disdains to be
cramped by the subject. Listen, and don’t suffer Max to howl, if he can
help it. Here goes.”

And in an affected but emphatic sing-song Kenelm began:--


   “In Attica the gentle Pythias dwelt.
   Youthful he was, and passing rich: he felt
   As if nor youth nor riches could suffice
   For bliss. Dark-eyed Sophronia was a nice
   Girl: and one summer day, when Neptune drove
   His sea-car slowly, and the olive grove
   That skirts Ilissus, to thy shell, Harmonia,
   Rippled, he said ‘I love thee’ to Sophronia.
   Crocus and iris, when they heard him, wagged
   Their pretty heads in glee: the honey-bagged
   Bees became altars: and the forest dove
   Her plumage smoothed. Such is the charm of love.
   Of this sweet story do ye long for more?
   Wait till I publish it in volumes four;
   Which certain critics, my good friends, will cry
   Up beyond Chaucer. Take their word for ‘t. I
   Say ‘Trust them, but not read,--or you’ll not buy.’”


“You have certainly kept your word,” said the minstrel, laughing; “and
if this be the Augustan age, and the English were a dead language, you
deserve to win the prize-medal.”

“You flatter me,” said Kenelm, modestly. “But if I, who never before
strung two rhymes together, can improvise so readily in the style of the
present day, why should not a practical rhymester like yourself dash off
at a sitting a volume or so in the same style; disguising completely the
verbal elegances borrowed, adding to the delicacies of the rhyme by the
frequent introduction of a line that will not scan, and towering yet
more into the sublime by becoming yet more unintelligible? Do that, and
I promise you the most glowing panegyric in ‘The Londoner,’ for I will
write it myself.”

“‘The Londoner’!” exclaimed the minstrel, with an angry flush on his
cheek and brow, “my bitter, relentless enemy.”

“I fear, then, you have as little studied the critical press of the
Augustan age as you have imbued your muse with the classical spirit of
its verse. For the art of writing a man must cultivate himself. The art
of being reviewed consists in cultivating the acquaintance of reviewers.
In the Augustan age criticism is cliquism. Belong to a clique and you
are Horace or Tibullus. Belong to no clique and, of course, you are
Bavius or Maevius. ‘The Londoner’ is the enemy of no man: it holds all
men in equal contempt. But as, in order to amuse, it must abuse, it
compensates the praise it is compelled to bestow upon the members of its
clique by heaping additional scorn upon all who are cliqueless. Hit him
hard: he has no friends.”

“Ah,” said the minstrel, “I believe that there is much truth in what you
say. I never had a friend among the cliques. And Heaven knows with what
pertinacity those from whom I, in utter ignorance of the rules which
govern so-called organs of opinion, had hoped, in my time of struggle,
for a little sympathy, a kindly encouragement, have combined to crush
me down. They succeeded long. But at last I venture to hope that I
am beating them. Happily, Nature endowed me with a sanguine, joyous,
elastic temperament. He who never despairs seldom completely fails.”

This speech rather perplexed Kenelm, for had not the minstrel declared
that his singing days were over, that he had decided on the renunciation
of verse-making? What other path to fame, from which the critics had
not been able to exclude his steps, was he, then, now pursuing,--he whom
Kenelm had assumed to belong to some commercial moneymaking firm? No
doubt some less difficult prose-track, probably a novel. Everybody
writes novels nowadays, and as the public will read novels without being
told to do so, and will not read poetry unless they are told that they
ought, possibly novels are not quite so much at the mercy of cliques as
are the poems of our Augustan age.

However, Kenelm did not think of seeking for further confidence on that
score. His mind at that moment, not unnaturally, wandered from books and
critics to love and wedlock.

“Our talk,” said he, “has digressed into fretful courses; permit me
to return to the starting-point. You are going to settle down into the
peace of home. A peaceful home is like a good conscience. The rains
without do not pierce its roof, the winds without do not shake its
walls. If not an impertinent question, is it long since you have known
your intended bride?”

“Yes, very long.”

“And always loved her?”

“Always, from her infancy. Out of all womankind, she was designed to be
my life’s playmate and my soul’s purifier. I know not what might have
become of me, if the thought of her had not walked beside me as my
guardian angel. For, like many vagrants from the beaten high roads of
the world, there is in my nature something of that lawlessness which
belongs to high animal spirits, to the zest of adventure, and the warm
blood that runs into song, chiefly because song is the voice of a joy.
And no doubt, when I look back on the past years I must own that I have
too often been led astray from the objects set before my reason, and
cherished at my heart, by erring impulse or wanton fancy.”

“Petticoat interest, I presume,” interposed Kenelm, dryly.

“I wish I could honestly answer ‘No,’” said the minstrel, colouring
high. “But from the worst, from all that would have permanently blasted
the career to which I intrust my fortunes, all that would have rendered
me unworthy of the pure love that now, I trust, awaits and crowns
my dreams of happiness, I have been saved by the haunting smile in a
sinless infantine face. Only once was I in great peril,--that hour of
peril I recall with a shudder. It was at Luscombe.”

“At Luscombe!”

“In the temptation of a terrible crime I thought I heard a voice say,
‘Mischief! Remember the little child.’ In that supervention which is so
readily accepted as a divine warning, when the imagination is morbidly
excited, and when the conscience, though lulled asleep for a moment, is
still asleep so lightly that the sigh of a breeze, the fall of a leaf,
can awake it with a start of terror, I took the voice for that of my
guardian angel. Thinking it over later, and coupling the voice with the
moral of those weird lines you repeated to me so appositely the next
day, I conclude that I am not mistaken when I say it was from your lips
that the voice which preserved me came.”

“I confess the impertinence: you pardon it?”

The minstrel seized Kenelm’s hand and pressed it earnestly.

“Pardon it! Oh, could you but guess what cause I have to be grateful,
everlastingly grateful! That sudden cry, the remorse and horror of my
own self that it struck into me,--deepened by those rugged lines which
the next day made me shrink in dismay from ‘the face of my darling
sin’! Then came the turning-point of my life. From that day, the lawless
vagabond within me was killed. I mean not, indeed, the love of Nature
and of song which had first allured the vagabond, but the hatred of
steadfast habits and of serious work,--_that_ was killed. I no longer
trifled with my calling: I took to it as a serious duty. And when I saw
her, whom fate has reserved and reared for my bride, her face was no
longer in my eyes that of the playful child; the soul of the woman was
dawning into it. It is but two years since that day, to me so eventful.
Yet my fortunes are now secured. And if fame be not established, I am at
last in a position which warrants my saying to her I love, ‘The time has
come when, without fear for thy future, I can ask thee to be mine.’”

The man spoke with so fervent a passion that Kenelm silently left him
to recover his wonted self-possession,--not unwilling to be silent,--not
unwilling, in the softness of the hour, passing from roseate sunset into
starry twilight, to murmur to himself, “And the time, too, has come for
me!”

After a few moments the minstrel resumed lightly and cheerily,--

“Sir, your turn: pray have you long known--judging by our former
conversation you cannot have long loved--the lady whom you have wooed
and won?”

As Kenelm had neither as yet wooed nor won the lady in question, and did
not deem it necessary to enter into any details on the subject of love
particular to himself, he replied by a general observation,--

“It seems to me that the coming of love is like the coming of spring:
the date is not to be reckoned by the calendar. It may be slow and
gradual; it may be quick and sudden. But in the morning, when we wake
and recognize a change in the world without, verdure on the trees,
blossoms on the sward, warmth in the sunshine, music in the air, then we
say Spring has come!”

“I like your illustration. And if it be an idle question to ask a lover
how long he has known the beloved one, so it is almost as idle to ask if
she be not beautiful. He cannot but see in her face the beauty she has
given to the world without.”

“True; and that thought is poetic enough to make me remind you that I
favoured you with the maiden specimen of my verse-making on condition
that you repaid me by a specimen of your own practical skill in the art.
And I claim the right to suggest the theme. Let it be--”

“Of a beefsteak?”

“Tush, you have worn out that tasteless joke at my expense. The theme
must be of love, and if you could improvise a stanza or two expressive
of the idea you just uttered I shall listen with yet more pleased
attention.”

“Alas! I am no _improvisatore_. Yet I will avenge myself on your former
neglect of my craft by chanting to you a trifle somewhat in unison with
the thought you ask me to versify, but which you would not stay to hear
at Tor Hadham (though you did drop a shilling into Max’s tray); it was
one of the songs I sang that evening, and it was not ill-received by my
humble audience.


   “THE BEAUTY OF THE MISTRESS IS IN THE LOVER’S EYE.

   “Is she not pretty, my Mabel May?
    Nobody ever yet called her so.
   Are not her lineaments faultless, say?
    If I must answer you plainly, No.

   “Joy to believe that the maid I love
    None but myself as she is can see;
   Joy that she steals from her heaven above,
    And is only revealed on this earth to me!”


As soon as he had finished this very artless ditty, the minstrel rose
and said,--

“Now I must bid you good-by. My way lies through those meadows, and
yours no doubt along the high road.”

“Not so. Permit me to accompany you. I have a lodging not far from
hence, to which the path through the fields is the shortest way.”

The minstrel turned a somewhat surprised and somewhat inquisitive look
towards Kenelm. But feeling, perhaps, that having withheld from his
fellow-traveller all confidence as to his own name and attributes, he
had no right to ask any confidence from that gentleman not voluntarily
made to him, he courteously said “that he wished the way were longer,
since it would be so pleasantly halved,” and strode forth at a brisk
pace.

The twilight was now closing into the brightness of a starry summer
night, and the solitude of the fields was unbroken. Both these men,
walking side by side, felt supremely happy. But happiness is like wine;
its effect differing with the differing temperaments on which it
acts. In this case garrulous and somewhat vaunting with the one man,
warm-coloured, sensuous, impressionable to the influences of external
Nature, as an Aeolian harp to the rise or fall of a passing wind; and,
with the other man, taciturn and somewhat modestly expressed, saturnine,
meditative, not indeed dull to the influences of external Nature, but
deeming them of no value, save where they passed out of the domain of
the sensuous into that of the intellectual, and the soul of man dictated
to the soulless Nature its own questions and its own replies.

The minstrel took the talk on himself, and the talk charmed his
listener. It became so really eloquent in the tones of its utterance, in
the frank play of its delivery, that I could no more adequately describe
it than a reporter, however faithful to every word a true orator may
say, can describe that which, apart from all words, belongs to the
presence of the orator himself.

Not, then, venturing to report the language of this singular itinerant,
I content myself with saying that the substance of it was of the
nature on which it is said most men can be eloquent: it was personal
to himself. He spoke of aspirations towards the achievement of a name,
dating back to the dawn of memory; of early obstacles in lowly birth,
stinted fortunes; of a sudden opening to his ambition while yet in
boyhood, through the generous favour of a rich man, who said, “The child
has genius: I will give it the discipline of culture; one day it shall
repay to the world what it owes to me;” of studies passionately begun,
earnestly pursued, and mournfully suspended in early youth. He did not
say how or wherefore: he rushed on to dwell upon the struggles for a
livelihood for himself and those dependent on him; how in such struggles
he was compelled to divert toil and energy from the systematic pursuit
of the object he had once set before him; the necessities for money
were too urgent to be postponed to the visions of fame. “But even,” he
exclaimed, passionately, “even in such hasty and crude manifestations
of what is within me, as circumstances limited my powers, I know that
I ought to have found from those who profess to be authoritative judges
the encouragement of praise. How much better, then, I should have done
if I had found it! How a little praise warms out of a man the good
that is in him, and the sneer of a contempt which he feels to be unjust
chills the ardour to excel! However, I forced my way, so far as was then
most essential to me, the sufficing breadmaker for those I loved; and in
my holidays of song and ramble I found a delight that atoned for all the
rest. But still the desire of fame, once conceived in childhood, once
nourished through youth, never dies but in our grave. Foot and hoof may
tread it down, bud, leaf, stalk; its root is too deep below the surface
for them to reach, and year after year stalk and leaf and bud re-emerge.
Love may depart from our mortal life: we console ourselves; the beloved
will be reunited to us in the life to come. But if he who sets his heart
on fame loses it in this life, what can console him?”

“Did you not say a little while ago that fame allowed of no grave?”

“True; but if we do not achieve it before we ourselves are in the grave,
what comfort can it give to us? Love ascends to heaven, to which we hope
ourselves to ascend; but fame remains on the earth, which we shall never
again revisit. And it is because fame is earth-born that the desire for
it is the most lasting, the regret for the want of it the most bitter,
to the child of earth. But I shall achieve it now; it is already in my
grasp.”

By this time the travellers had arrived at the brook, facing the wooden
bridge beside Cromwell Lodge.

Here the minstrel halted; and Kenelm with a certain tremble in his
voice, said, “Is it not time that we should make ourselves known to
each other by name? I have no longer any cause to conceal mine, indeed I
never had any cause stronger than whim,--Kenelm Chillingly, the only son
of Sir Peter, of Exmundham, -----shire.”

“I wish your father joy of so clever a son,” said the minstrel with his
wonted urbanity. “You already know enough of me to be aware that I am
of much humbler birth and station than you; but if you chance to have
visited the exhibition of the Royal Academy this year--ah! I understand
that start--you might have recognized a picture of which you have seen
the rudimentary sketch, ‘The Girl with the Flower-ball,’ one of three
pictures very severely handled by ‘The Londoner,’ but, in spite of
that potent enemy, insuring fortune and promising fame to the wandering
minstrel, whose name, if the sight of the pictures had induced you to
inquire into that, you would have found to be Walter Melville. Next
January I hope, thanks to that picture, to add, ‘Associate of the Royal
Academy.’ The public will not let them keep me out of it, in spite of
‘The Londoner.’ You are probably an expected guest at one of the more
imposing villas from which we see the distant lights. I am going to a
very humble cottage, in which henceforth I hope to find my established
home. I am there now only for a few days, but pray let me welcome you
there before I leave. The cottage is called Grasmere.”



CHAPTER VI.

THE minstrel gave a cordial parting shake of the hand to the
fellow-traveller whom he had advised to settle down, not noticing how
very cold had become the hand in his own genial grasp. Lightly he passed
over the wooden bridge, preceded by Max, and merrily, when he had gained
the other side of the bridge, came upon Kenelm’s ear, through the hush
of the luminous night, the verse of the uncompleted love-song,--


        “Singing, singing,
   Lustily singing,
   Down the road, with his dogs before,
   Came the Ritter of Nierestein.”


Love-song, uncompleted; why uncompleted? It was not given to Kenelm to
divine the why. It was a love-song versifying one of the prettiest fairy
tales in the world, which was a great favourite with Lily, and which
Lion had promised Lily to versify, but only to complete it in her
presence and to her perfect satisfaction.



CHAPTER VII.

IF I could not venture to place upon paper the exact words of an
eloquent coveter of fame, the earth-born, still less can I dare to place
upon paper all that passed through the voiceless heart of a coveter of
love, the heaven-born.

From the hour in which Kenelm Chillingly had parted from Walter Melville
until somewhere between sunrise and noon the next day, the summer
joyousness of that external Nature which does now and then, though, for
the most part, deceitfully, address to the soul of man questions and
answers all her soulless own, laughed away the gloom of his misgivings.

No doubt this Walter Melville was the beloved guardian of Lily; no doubt
it was Lily whom he designated as reserved and reared to become his
bride. But on that question Lily herself had the sovereign voice. It
remained yet to be seen whether Kenelm had deceived himself in the
belief that had made the world so beautiful to him since the hour of
their last parting. At all events it was due to her, due even to his
rival, to assert his own claim to her choice. And the more he recalled
all that Lily had ever said to him of her guardian, so openly, so
frankly, proclaiming affection, admiration, gratitude, the more
convincingly his reasonings allayed his fears, whispering, “So might
a child speak of a parent: not so does the maiden speak of the man she
loves; she can scarcely trust herself to praise.”

In fine, it was not in despondent mood, nor with dejected looks, that,
a little before noon, Kenelm crossed the bridge and re-entered the
enchanted land of Grasmere. In answer to his inquiries, the servant who
opened the door said that neither Mr. Melville nor Miss Mordaunt were
at home; they had but just gone out together for a walk. He was about to
turn back, when Mrs. Cameron came into the hall, and, rather by
gesture than words, invited him to enter. Kenelm followed her into the
drawing-room, taking his seat beside her. He was about to speak, when
she interrupted him in a tone of voice so unlike its usual languor, so
keen, so sharp, that it sounded like a cry of distress.

“I was just about to come to you. Happily, however, you find me alone,
and what may pass between us will be soon over. But first tell me: you
have seen your parents; you have asked their consent to wed a girl such
as I described; tell me, oh tell me that that consent is refused!”

“On the contrary, I am here with their full permission to ask the hand
of your niece.”

Mrs. Cameron sank back in her chair, rocking herself to and fro in the
posture of a person in great pain.

“I feared that. Walter said he had met you last evening; that you, like
himself, entertained the thought of marriage. You, of course when you
learned his name, must have known with whom his thought was connected.
Happily, he could not divine what was the choice to which your youthful
fancy had been so blindly led.”

“My dear Mrs. Cameron,” said Kenelm, very mildly, but very firmly, “you
were aware of the purpose for which I left Moleswich a few days ago,
and it seems to me that you might have forestalled my intention, the
intention which brings me; thus early to your house. I come to say to
Miss Mordaunt’s guardian, ‘I ask the hand of your ward. If you also woo
her, I have a very noble rival. With both of us no consideration for our
own happiness can be comparable to the duty of consulting hers. Let her
choose between the two.’”

“Impossible!” exclaimed Mrs. Cameron; “impossible. You know not what you
say; know not, guess not, how sacred are the claims of Walter Melville
to all that the orphan whom he has protected from her very birth can
give him in return. She has no right to a preference for another: her
heart is too grateful to admit of one. If the choice were given to her
between him and you, it is he whom she would choose. Solemnly I assure
you of this. Do not, then, subject her to the pain of such a choice.
Suppose, if you will, that you had attracted her fancy, and that now you
proclaimed your love and urged your suit, she would not, must not, the
less reject your hand, but you might cloud her happiness in accepting
Melville’s. Be generous. Conquer your own fancy; it can be but a passing
one. Speak not to her, nor to Mr. Melville, of a wish which can never be
realized. Go hence, silently, and at once.”

The words and the manner of the pale imploring woman struck a vague
awe into the heart of her listener. But he did not the less resolutely
answer, “I cannot obey you. It seems to me that my honour commands me
to prove to your niece that, if I mistook the nature of her feelings
towards me, I did not, by word or look, lead her to believe mine towards
herself were less in earnest than they are; and it seems scarcely less
honourable towards my worthy rival to endanger his own future happiness,
should he discover later that his bride would have been happier with
another. Why be so mysteriously apprehensive? If, as you say, with such
apparent conviction, there is no doubt of your niece’s preference for
another, at a word from her own lips I depart, and you will see me no
more. But that word must be said by her; and if you will not permit me
to ask for it in your own house, I will take my chance of finding her
now, on her walk with Mr. Melville; and, could he deny me the right to
speak to her alone, that which I would say can be said in his presence.
Ah! madam, have you no mercy for the heart that you so needlessly
torture? If I must bear the worst, let me learn it, and at once.”

“Learn it, then, from my lips,” said Mrs. Cameron, speaking with voice
unnaturally calm, and features rigidly set into stern composure. “And I
place the secret you wring from me under the seal of that honour which
you so vauntingly make your excuse for imperilling the peace of the home
I ought never to have suffered you to enter. An honest couple, of
humble station and narrow means, had an only son, who evinced in early
childhood talents so remarkable that they attracted the notice of
the father’s employer, a rich man of very benevolent heart and very
cultivated taste. He sent the child, at his expense, to a first-rate
commercial school, meaning to provide for him later in his own firm.
The rich man was the head partner of an eminent bank; but very infirm
health, and tastes much estranged from business, had induced him to
retire from all active share in the firm, the management of which was
confined to a son whom he idolized. But the talents of the protege he
had sent to school took there so passionate a direction towards art
and estranged from trade, and his designs in drawing when shown to
connoisseurs were deemed so promising of future excellence, that the
patron changed his original intention, entered him as a pupil in the
studio of a distinguished French painter, and afterwards bade him
perfect his taste by the study of Italian and Flemish masterpieces.

“He was still abroad, when--” here Mrs. Cameron stopped, with visible
effort, suppressed a sob, and went on, whisperingly, through teeth
clenched together--“when a thunderbolt fell on the house of the patron,
shattering his fortunes, blasting his name. The son, unknown to the
father, had been decoyed into speculations which proved unfortunate: the
loss might have been easily retrieved in the first instance; unhappily
he took the wrong course to retrieve it, and launched into new hazards.
I must be brief. One day the world was startled by the news that a firm,
famed for its supposed wealth and solidity, was bankrupt. Dishonesty
was alleged, was proved, not against the father,--he went forth from
the trial, censured indeed for neglect, not condemned for fraud, but a
penniless pauper. The--son, the son, the idolized son, was removed from
the prisoner’s dock, a convicted felon, sentenced to penal servitude;
escaped that sentence by--by--you guess--you guess. How could he escape
except through death?--death by his own guilty deed?”

Almost as much overpowered by emotion as Mrs. Cameron herself, Kenelm
covered his bended face with one hand, stretching out the other blindly
to clasp her own, but she would not take it.

A dreary foreboding. Again before his eyes rose the old gray
tower,--again in his ears thrilled the tragic tale of the Fletwodes.
What was yet left untold held the young man in spell-bound silence. Mrs.
Cameron resumed,--

“I said the father was a penniless pauper; he died lingeringly
bedridden. But one faithful friend did not desert that bed,--the youth
to whose genius his wealth had ministered. He had come from abroad
with some modest savings from the sale of copies or sketches made in
Florence. These savings kept a roof over the heads of the old man and
the two helpless, broken-hearted women,--paupers like himself,--his own
daughter and his son’s widow. When the savings were gone, the young man
stooped from his destined calling, found employment somehow, no matter
how alien to his tastes, and these three whom his toil supported never
wanted a home or food. Well, a few weeks after her husband’s terrible
death, his young widow (they had not been a year married) gave birth to
a child,--a girl. She did not survive the exhaustion of her confinement
many days. The shock of her death snapped the feeble thread of the poor
father’s life. Both were borne to the grave on the same day. Before they
died, both made the same prayer to their sole two mourners, the felon’s
sister, the old man’s young benefactor. The prayer was this, that the
new-born infant should be reared, however humbly, in ignorance of her
birth, of a father’s guilt and shame. She was not to pass a suppliant
for charity to rich and high-born kinsfolk, who had vouchsafed no word
even of pity to the felon’s guiltless father and as guiltless wife. That
promise has been kept till now. I am that daughter. The name I bear,
and the name which I gave to my niece, are not ours, save as we may
indirectly claim them through alliances centuries ago. I have never
married. I was to have been a bride, bringing to the representative of
no ignoble house what was to have been a princely dower; the wedding day
was fixed, when the bolt fell. I have never again seen my betrothed. He
went abroad and died there. I think he loved me; he knew I loved him.
Who can blame him for deserting me? Who could marry the felon’s sister?
Who would marry the felon’s child? Who but one? The man who knows
her secret, and will guard it; the man who, caring little for other
education, has helped to instil into her spotless childhood so steadfast
a love of truth, so exquisite a pride of honour, that did she know such
ignominy rested on her birth she would pine herself away.”

“Is there only one man on earth,” cried Kenelm, suddenly, rearing his
face,--till then concealed and downcast,--and with a loftiness of pride
on its aspect, new to its wonted mildness, “is there only one man who
would deem the virgin at whose feet he desires to kneel and say, ‘Deign
to be the queen of my life,’ not far too noble in herself to be debased
by the sins of others before she was even born; is there only one man
who does not think that the love of truth and the pride of honour are
most royal attributes of woman or of man, no matter whether the fathers
of the woman or the man were pirates as lawless as the fathers of
Norman kings, or liars as unscrupulous, where their own interests
were concerned, as have been the crowned representatives of lines as
deservedly famous as Caesars and Bourbons, Tudors and Stuarts? Nobility,
like genius, is inborn. One man alone guard _her_ secret!--guard a
secret that if made known could trouble a heart that recoils from shame!
Ah, madam, we Chillinglys are a very obscure, undistinguished race, but
for more than a thousand years we have been English gentlemen. Guard her
secret rather than risk the chance of discovery that could give her a
pang! I would pass my whole life by her side in Kamtchatka, and even
there I would not snatch a glimpse of the secret itself with mine own
eyes: it should be so closely muffled and wrapped round by the folds of
reverence and worship.”

This burst of passion seemed to Mrs. Cameron the senseless declamation
of an inexperienced, hot-headed young man; and putting it aside, much
as a great lawyer dismisses as balderdash the florid rhetoric of some
junior counsel, rhetoric in which the great lawyer had once indulged,
or as a woman for whom romance is over dismisses as idle verbiage some
romantic sentiment that befools her young daughter, Mrs. Cameron simply
replied, “All this is hollow talk, Mr. Chillingly; let us come to the
point. After all I have said, do you mean to persist in your suit to my
niece?”

“I persist.”

“What!” she cried, this time indignantly, and with generous indignation;
“what, even were it possible that you could win your parents’ consent to
marry the child of a man condemned to penal servitude, or, consistently
with the duties a son owes to parents, conceal that fact from them,
could you, born to a station on which every gossip will ask, ‘Who and
what is the name of the future Lady Chillingly?’ believe that the
who and the what will never be discovered! Have you, a mere stranger,
unknown to us a few weeks ago, a right to say to Walter Melville,
‘Resign to me that which is your sole reward for the sublime sacrifices,
for the loyal devotion, for the watchful tenderness of patient years’?”

“Surely, madam,” cried Kenelm, more startled, more shaken in soul by
this appeal, than by the previous revelations, “surely, when we
last parted, when I confided to you my love for your niece, when you
consented to my proposal to return home and obtain my father’s approval
of my suit,--surely then was the time to say, ‘No; a suitor with claims
paramount and irresistible has come before you.’”

“I did not then know, Heaven is my witness, I did not then even suspect,
that Walter Melville ever dreamed of seeking a wife in the child who had
grown up under his eyes. You must own, indeed, how much I discouraged
your suit; I could not discourage it more without revealing the secret
of her birth, only to be revealed as an extreme necessity. But my
persuasion was that your father would not consent to your alliance with
one so far beneath the expectations he was entitled to form, and the
refusal of that consent would terminate all further acquaintance between
you and Lily, leaving her secret undisclosed. It was not till you had
left, only indeed two days ago, that I received a letter from Walter
Melville,--a letter which told me what I had never before conjectured.
Here is the letter, read it, and then say if you have the heart to
force yourself into rivalry, with--with--” She broke off, choked by her
exertion, thrust the letter into his hands, and with keen, eager, hungry
stare watched his countenance while he read.



        ----- STREET, BLOOMSBURY.

MY DEAR FRIEND,--Joy and triumph! My picture is completed, the picture
on which for so many months I have worked night and day in this den of
a studio, without a glimpse of the green fields, concealing my address
from every one, even from you, lest I might be tempted to suspend my
labours. The picture is completed: it is sold; guess the price! Fifteen
hundred guineas, and to a dealer,--a dealer! Think of that! It is to be
carried about the country exhibited by itself. You remember those three
little landscapes of mine which two years ago I would gladly have sold
for ten pounds, only neither Lily nor you would let me. My good friend
and earliest patron, the German merchant at Luscombe, who called on
me yesterday, offered to cover them with guineas thrice piled over the
canvas. Imagine how happy I felt when I forced him to accept them as a
present. What a leap in a man’s life it is when he can afford to say, “I
give!” Now then, at last, at last I am in a position which justifies the
utterance of the hope which has for eighteen years been my solace, my
support; been the sunbeam that ever shone through the gloom when my fate
was at the darkest; been the melody that buoyed me aloft as in the
song of the skylark, when in the voices of men I heard but the laugh of
scorn. Do you remember the night on which Lily’s mother besought us
to bring up her child in ignorance of her parentage, not even to
communicate to unkind and disdainful relatives that such a child was
born? Do you remember how plaintively, and yet how proudly, she, so
nobly born, so luxuriously nurtured, clasping my hand when I ventured
to remonstrate, and say that her own family could not condemn her child
because of the father’s guilt,--she, the proudest woman I ever knew, she
whose smile I can at rare moments detect in Lily, raised her head from
her pillow, and gasped forth,--

“I am dying: the last words of the dying are commands. I command you to
see that my child’s lot is not that of a felon’s daughter transported to
the hearth of nobles. To be happy, her lot must be humble: no roof too
humble to shelter, no husband too humble to wed, the felon’s daughter.”

From that hour I formed a resolve that I would keep hand and heart
free, that when the grandchild of my princely benefactor grew up into
womanhood I might say to her, “I am humbly born, but thy mother would
have given thee to me.” The newborn, consigned to our charge, has now
ripened into woman, and I have now so assured my fortune that it is
no longer poverty and struggle that I should ask her to share. I am
conscious that, were her fate not so exceptional, this hope of mine
would be a vain presumption,--conscious that I am but the creature
of her grandsire’s bounty, and that from it springs all I ever can
be,--conscious of the disparity in years,-conscious of many a past error
and present fault. But, as fate so ordains, such considerations are
trivial; I am her rightful choice. What other choice, compatible with
these necessities which weigh, dear and honoured friend, immeasurably
more on your sense of honour than they do upon mine? and yet mine is
not dull. Granting, then, that you, her nearest and most responsible
relative, do not contemn me for presumption, all else seems to me clear.
Lily’s childlike affection for me is too deep and too fond not to
warm into a wife’s love. Happily, too, she has not been reared in the
stereotyped boarding-school shallowness of knowledge and vulgarities of
gentility; but educated, like myself, by the free influences of Nature,
longing for no halls and palaces save those that we build as we list, in
fairyland; educated to comprehend and share the fancies which are
more than booklore to the worshipper of art and song. In a day or two,
perhaps the day after you receive this, I shall be able to escape from
London, and most likely shall come on foot as usual. How I long to
see once more the woodbine on the hedgerows, the green blades of the
cornfields, the sunny lapse of the river, and dearer still the tiny
falls of our own little noisy rill! Meanwhile I entreat you, dearest,
gentlest, most honored of such few friends as my life has hitherto won
to itself, to consider well the direct purport of this letter. If you,
born in a grade so much higher than mine, feel that it is unwarrantable
insolence in me to aspire to the hand of my patron’s grandchild, say so
plainly; and I remain not less grateful for your friendship than I was
to your goodness when dining for the first time at your father’s palace.
Shy and sensitive and young, I felt that his grand guests wondered why I
was invited to the same board as themselves. You, then courted, admired,
you had sympathetic compassion on the raw, sullen boy; left those, who
then seemed to me like the gods and goddesses of a heathen Pantheon, to
come and sit beside your father’s protege and cheeringly whisper to
him such words as make a low-born ambitious lad go home light-hearted,
saying to himself, “Some day or other.” And what it is to an ambitious
lad, fancying himself lifted by the gods and goddesses of a Pantheon, to
go home light-hearted muttering to himself, “Some day or other,” I doubt
if even you can divine.

But should you be as kind to the presumptuous man as you were to the
bashful boy, and say, “Realized be the dream, fulfilled be the object of
your life! take from me as her next of kin, the last descendant of your
benefactor,” then I venture to address to you this request. You are in
the place of mother to your sister’s child, act for her as a keeper now,
to prepare her mind and heart for the coming change in the relations
between her and me. When I last saw her, six months ago, she was still
so playfully infantine that it half seems to me I should be sinning
against the reverence due to a child, if I said too abruptly, “You are
woman, and I love you not as child but as woman.” And yet, time is
not allowed to me for long, cautious, and gradual slide from the
relationship of friend into that of lover. I now understand what the
great master of my art once said to me, “A career is a destiny.” By one
of those merchant princes who now at Manchester, as they did once at
Genoa or Venice, reign alike over those two civilizers of the world
which to dull eyes seem antagonistic, Art and Commerce, an offer is made
to me for a picture on a subject which strikes his fancy: an offer so
magnificently liberal that his commerce must command my art; and the
nature of the subject compels me to seek the banks of the Rhine as
soon as may be. I must have all the hues of the foliage in the meridian
glories of summer. I can but stay at Grasmere a very few days; but
before I leave I must know this, am I going to work for Lily or am I
not? On the answer to that question depends all. If not to work for her,
there would be no glory in the summer, no triumph in art to me: I refuse
the offer. If she says, “Yes; it is for me you work,” then she becomes
my destiny. She assures my career. Here I speak as an artist: nobody who
is not an artist can guess how sovereign over even his moral being, at
a certain critical epoch in his career of artist or his life of man,
is the success or the failure of a single work. But I go on to speak as
man. My love for Lily is such for the last six months that, though if
she rejected me I should still serve art, still yearn for fame, it would
be as an old man might do either. The youth of my life would be gone.

As man I say, all my thoughts, all my dreams of happiness, distinct from
Art and fame, are summed up in the one question, “Is Lily to be my wife
or not?”

   Yours affectionately,

     W. M.


Kenelm returned the letter without a word.

Enraged by his silence, Mrs. Cameron exclaimed, “Now, sir, what say you?
You have scarcely known Lily five weeks. What is the feverish fancy of
five weeks’ growth to the lifelong devotion of a man like this? Do you
now dare to say, ‘I persist’?”

Kenelm waved his hand very quietly, as if to dismiss all conception of
taunt and insult and said with his soft melancholy eyes fixed upon the
working features of Lily’s aunt, “This man is more worthy of her than
I. He prays you, in his letter, to prepare your niece for that change of
relationship which he dreads too abruptly to break to her himself. Have
you done so?”

“I have; the night I got the letter.”

“And--you hesitate; speak truthfully, I implore. And she--”

“She,” answered Mrs. Cameron, feeling herself involuntarily compelled to
obey the voice of that prayer--“she seemed stunned at first, muttering,
‘This is a dream: it cannot be true,--cannot! I Lion’s wife--I--I!
I, his destiny! In me his happiness!’ And then she laughed her pretty
child’s laugh, and put her arms round my neck, and said, ‘You are
jesting, aunty. He could not write thus!’ So I put that part of his
letter under her eyes; and when she had convinced herself, her face
became very grave, more like a woman’s face than I ever saw it; and
after a pause she cried out passionately, ‘Can you think me--can I think
myself--so bad, so ungrateful, as to doubt what I should answer, if
Lion asked me whether I would willingly say or do anything that made him
unhappy? If there be such a doubt in my heart, I would tear it out
by the roots, heart and all!’ Oh, Mr. Chillingly! There would be no
happiness for her with another, knowing that she had blighted the life
of him to whom she owes so much, though she never will learn how
much more she owes.” Kenelm not replying to this remark, Mrs. Cameron
resumed, “I will be perfectly frank with you, Mr. Chillingly. I was not
quite satisfied with Lily’s manner and looks the next morning, that is,
yesterday. I did fear there might be some struggle in her mind in which
there entered a thought of yourself. And when Walter, on his arrival
here in the evening, spoke of you as one he had met before in his rural
excursions, but whose name he only learned on parting at the bridge by
Cromwell Lodge, I saw that Lily turned pale, and shortly afterwards
went to her own room for the night. Fearing that any interview with you,
though it would not alter her resolve, might lessen her happiness on
the only choice she can and ought to adopt, I resolved to visit you this
morning, and make that appeal to your reason and your heart which I have
done now,--not, I am sure, in vain. Hush! I hear his voice!”

Melville entered the room, Lily leaning on his arm. The artist’s comely
face was radiant with ineffable joyousness. Leaving Lily, he reached
Kenelm’s side as with a single bound, shook him heartily by the hand,
saying, “I find that you have already been a welcomed visitor in this
house. Long may you be so, so say I, so (I answer for her) says my fair
betrothed, to whom I need not present you.”

Lily advanced, and held out her hand very timidly. Kenelm touched rather
than clasped it. His own strong hand trembled like a leaf. He ventured
but one glance at her face. All the bloom had died out of it, but the
expression seemed to him wondrously, cruelly tranquil.

“Your betrothed! your future bride!” he said to the artist, with a
mastery over his emotion rendered less difficult by the single glance
at that tranquil face. “I wish you joy. All happiness to you, Miss
Mordaunt. You have made a noble choice.”

He looked round for his hat; it lay at his feet, but he did not see
it; his eyes wandering away with uncertain vision, like those of a
sleep-walker.

Mrs. Cameron picked up the hat and gave it to him.

“Thank you,” he said meekly; then with a smile half sweet, half bitter,
“I have so much to thank you for, Mrs. Cameron.”

“But you are not going already,--just as I enter too. Hold! Mrs. Cameron
tells me you are lodging with my old friend Jones. Come and stop a
couple of days with us: we can find you a room; the room over your
butterfly cage, eh, Fairy?”

“Thank you too. Thank you all. No; I must be in London by the first
train.”

Speaking thus, he had found his way to the door, bowed with the quiet
grace that characterized all his movements, and was gone.

“Pardon his abruptness, Lily; he too loves; he too is impatient to
find a betrothed,” said the artist gayly: “but now he knows my dearest
secret, I think I have a right to know his; and I will try.”

He had scarcely uttered the words before he too had quitted the room and
overtaken Kenelm just at the threshold.

“If you are going back to Cromwell Lodge,--to pack up, I suppose,--let
me walk with you as far as the bridge.”

Kenelm inclined his head assentingly and tacitly as they passed through
the garden-gate, winding backwards through the lane which skirted the
garden pales; when, at the very spot in which the day after their first
and only quarrel Lily’s face had been seen brightening through the
evergreen, that day on which the old woman, quitting her, said, “God
bless you!” and on which the vicar, walking with Kenelm, spoke of her
fairy charms; well, just in that spot Lily’s face appeared again, not
this time brightening through the evergreens, unless the palest gleam
of the palest moon can be said to brighten. Kenelm saw, started, halted.
His companion, then in the rush of a gladsome talk, of which Kenelm had
not heard a word, neither saw nor halted; he walked on mechanically,
gladsome, and talking.

Lily stretched forth her hand through the evergreens. Kenelm took it
reverentially. This time it was not his hand that trembled.

“Good-by,” she said in a whisper, “good-by forever in this world. You
understand,--you do understand me. Say that you do.”

“I understand. Noble child! noble choice! God bless you! God comfort
me!” murmured Kenelm. Their eyes met. Oh, the sadness; and, alas! oh the
love in the eyes of both!

Kenelm passed on.

All said in an instant. How many Alls are said in an instant! Melville
was in the midst of some glowing sentence, begun when Kenelm dropped
from his side, and the end of the sentence was this:

“Words cannot say how fair seems life; how easy seems conquest of fame,
dating from this day--this day”--and in his turn he halte