Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Love Me Little, Love Me Long
Author: Reade, Charles
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Love Me Little, Love Me Long" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



LOVE ME LITTLE, LOVE ME LONG

By Charles Reade



PREFACE

SHOULD these characters, imbedded in carpet incidents, interest the
public at all, they will probably reappear in more potent scenes. This
design, which I may never live to execute, is, I fear, the only excuse
I can at present offer for some pages, forming the twelfth chapter of
this volume.



CHAPTER I.

NEARLY a quarter of a century ago, Lucy Fountain, a young lady of
beauty and distinction, was, by the death of her mother, her sole
surviving parent, left in the hands of her two trustees, Edward
Fountain, Esq., of Font Abbey, and Mr. Bazalgette, a merchant whose
wife was Mrs. Fountain’s half-sister.

They agreed to lighten the burden by dividing it. She should spend
half the year with each trustee in turn, until marriage should take
her off their hands.

Our mild tale begins in Mr. Bazalgette’s own house, two years after
the date of that arrangement.

The chit-chat must be your main clue to the characters. In life it is
the same. Men and women won’t come to you ticketed, or explanation in
hand.

“Lucy, you are a great comfort in a house; it is so nice to have some
one to pour out one’s heart to; my husband is no use at all.”

“Aunt Bazalgette!”

“In that way. You listen to my faded illusions, to the aspirations of
a nature too finely organized, ah! to find its happiness in this
rough, selfish world. When I open my bosom to him, what does he do?
Guess now--whistles.”

“Then I call that rude.”

“So do I; and then he whistles more and more.”

“Yes; but, aunt, if any serious trouble or grief fell upon you, you
would find Mr. Bazalgette a much greater comfort and a better stay
than poor spiritless me.”

“Oh, if the house took fire and fell about our ears, he would come out
of his shell, no doubt; or if the children all died one after another,
poor dear little souls; but those great troubles only come in stories.
Give me a friend that can sympathize with the real hourly
mortifications of a too susceptible nature; sit on this ottoman, and
let me go on. Where was I when Jones came and interrupted us? They
always do just at the interesting point.”

Miss Fountain’s face promptly wreathed itself into an expectant smile.
She abandoned her hand and her ear, and leaned her graceful person
toward her aunt, while that lady murmured to her in low and thrilling
tones--his eyes, his long hair, his imaginative expressions, his
romantic projects of frugal love; how her harsh papa had warned Adonis
off the premises; how Adonis went without a word (as pale as death,
love), and soon after, in his despair, flung himself--to an ugly
heiress; and how this disappointment had darkened her whole life, and
so on.

Perhaps, if Adonis had stood before her now, rolling his eyes, and his
phrases hot from the annuals, the flourishing matron might have sent
him to the servants’ hall with a wave of her white and jeweled hand.
But the melody disarms this sort of brutal criticism--a woman’s voice
relating love’s young dream; and then the picture--a matron still
handsome pouring into a lovely virgin’s ear the last thing she ought;
the young beauty’s eyes mimicking sympathy; the ripe beauty’s soft,
delicious accents--purr! purr! purr!

Crash overhead! a window smashed aie! aie! clatter! clatter! screams
of infantine rage and feminine remonstrance, feet pattering, and a
general hullabaloo, cut the soft recital in two. The ladies clasped
hands, like guilty things surprised.

Lucy sprang to her feet; the oppressed one sank slowly and gracefully
back, inch by inch, on the ottoman, with a sigh of ostentatious
resignation, and gazed, martyr-like, on the chandelier.

“Will you not go up to the nursery?” cried Lucy, in a flutter.

“No, dear,” replied the other, faintly, but as cool as a marble slab;
“you go; cast some of your oil upon those ever-troubled waters and
then come back and let us try once more.”

Miss Fountain heard but half this sentence; she was already gliding up
the stairs. She opened the nursery door, and there stood in the middle
of the room “Original Sin.” Its name after the flesh was Master
Reginald. It was half-past six, had been baptized in church, after
which every child becomes, according to polemic divines of the day, “a
little soul of Christian fire” until it goes to a public school. And
there it straddled, two scarlet cheeks puffed out with rage, soft
flaxen hair streaming, cerulean eyes glowing, the poker grasped in two
chubby fists. It had poked a window in vague ire, and now threatened
two females with extinction if they riled it any more.

The two grown-up women were discovered, erect, but flat, in distant
corners, avoiding the bayonet and trusting to their artillery.

     “Wicked boy!”
      “Naughty boy!” (grape.)
     “Little ruffian!” etc.

And hints as to the ultimate destination of so sanguinary a soul
(round shot).

“Ah! here’s miss. Oh, miss, we are so glad you are come up; don’t go
anigh him, miss; he is a tiger.”

Miss Fountain smiled, and went gracefully on one knee beside him. This
brought her angelic face level with the fallen cherub’s. “What is the
matter, dear?” asked she, in a tone of soft pity.

The tiger was not prepared for this: he dropped his poker and flung
his little arm round his cousin’s neck.

“I love YOU. Oh! oh! oh!”

“Yes, dear; then tell me, now--what is the matter? What have you been
doing?”

“Noth--noth--nothing--it’s th--them been na--a--agging me!”

“Nagging you?” and she smiled at the word and a tiger’s horror of it.

“Who has been nagging you, love?”

“Th--those--bit--bit--it.” The word was unfortunately lost in a sob.
It was followed by red faces and two simultaneous yells of
remonstrance and objurgation.

“I must ask you to be silent a minute,” said Miss Fountain, quietly.
“Reginald, what do you mean by--by--nagging?”

Reginald explained. “By nagging he meant--why--nagging.”

“Well, then, what had they been doing to him?”

No; poor Reginald was not analytical, dialectical and critical, like
certain pedanticules who figure in story as children. He was a
terrible infant, not a horrible one.

“They won’t fight and they won’t make it up, and they keep nagging,”
 was all could be got out of him.

“Come with me, dear,” said Lucy, gravely.

“Yes,” assented the tiger, softly, and went out awestruck, holding her
hand, and paddling three steps to each of her serpentine glides.

Seated in her own room, tiger at knee, she tried topics of admonition.
During these his eyes wandered about the room in search of matter more
amusing, so she was obliged to bring up her reserve.

“And no young lady will ever marry you.”

“I don’t want them to, cousin; I wouldn’t let them; you will marry me,
because you promised.”

“Did I?”

“Why, you know you did--upon your honor; and no lady or gentleman ever
breaks their word when they say that; you told me so yourself,” added
he of the inconvenient memory.

“Ah! but there is another rule that I forgot to tell you.”

“What is that?”

“That no lady ever marries a gentleman who has a violent temper.”

“Oh, don’t they?”

“No; they would be afraid. If you had a wife, and took up the poker,
she would faint away, and die--perhaps!”

“Oh, dear!”

“I should.”

“But, cousin, you would not _want_ the poker taken to you; you
never nag.”

“Perhaps that is because we are not married yet.”

“What, then, when we are, shall you turn like the others?”

“Impossible to say.”

“Well, then” (after a moment’s hesitation), “I’ll marry you all the
same.”

“No! you forget; I shall be afraid until your temper mends.”

“I’ll mend it. It is mended now. See how good I am now,” added he,
with self-admiration and a shade of surprise.

“I don’t call this mending it, for I am not the one that offended you;
mending it is promising me never, never to call naughty names again.
How would you like to be called a dog?”

“I’d kill ‘em.”

“There, you see--then how can you expect poor nurse to like it?”

“You don’t understand, cousin--Tom said to George the groom that Mrs.
Jones was an--old--stingy--b--”

“I don’t want to hear anything about Tom.”

“He is such a clever fellow, cousin. So I think, if Jones is an old
one, those two that keep nagging me must be young ones. What do you
think yourself?” asked Reginald, appealing suddenly to her candor.

“And no doubt it was Tom that taught you this other vulgar word
‘nagging,’” was the evasive reply.

“No, that was mamma.”

Lucy colored, wheeled quickly, and demanded severely of the terrible
infant: “Who is this Tom?”

“What! don’t you know Tom?” Reginald began to lose a grain of his
respect for her. “Why, he helps in the stables; oh, cousin, he is such
a nice fellow!”

“Reginald, I shall never marry you if you keep company with grooms,
and speak their language.”

“Well!” sighed the victim, “I’ll give up Tom sooner than you.”

“Thank you, dear; now I _am_ flattered. One struggle more; we
must go together and ask the nurses’ pardon.”

“Must we? ugh!”

“Yes--and kiss them--and make it up.”

Reginald made a wry face; but, after a pause of solemn reflection, he
consented, on condition that Lucy would keep near him, and kiss him
directly afterward.

“I shall be sure to do that, because you will be a good boy then.”

Outside the door Reginald paused: “I have a favor to ask you,
cousin--a great favor. You see I am so very little, and you are so
big; now the husband ought to be the biggest.”

“Quite my own opinion, Reggy.”

“Well, dear, now if you would be so kind as not to grow any older till
I catch you up, I shall be so very, very, very much obliged to you,
dear.”

“I will try, Reggy. Nineteen is a very good age. I will stay there as
long as my friends will let me.”

“Thank you, cousin.”

“But that is not what we have in hand.”

The nurses were just agreeing what a shame it was of miss to take that
little vagabond’s part against them, when she opened the door. “Nurse,
here is a penitent--a young gentleman who is never going to use rude
words, or be violent and naughty again.”

“La! miss, why, it is witchcraft--the dear child--soon up and soon
down, as a boy should.”

“Beg par’n, nurse--beg par’n, Kitty,” recited the dear child, late
tiger, and kissed them both hastily; and, this double formula gone
through, ran to Miss Fountain and kissed her with warmth, while the
nurses were reciting “little angel,” “all heart,” etc.

“To take the taste out of my mouth,” explained the penitent, and was
left with his propitiated females; and didn’t they nag him at short
intervals until sunset! But, strong in the contemplation of his future
union with Cousin Lucy, this great heart in a little body despised the
pins and needles that had goaded him to fury before.

Lucy went down to the drawing-room. She found Mrs. Bazalgette leaning
with one elbow on the table, her hand shading her high, polished
forehead; her grave face reflecting great mental power taxed to the
uttermost. So Newton looked, solving Nature.

Miss Fountain came in full of the nursery business, but, catching
sight of so much mind in labor, approached it with silent curiosity.

The oracle looked up with an absorbed air, and delivered itself very
slowly, with eye turned inward.

“I am afraid--I don’t think--I quite like my new dress.”

“That _is_ unfortunate.”

“That would not matter; I never like anything till I have altered it;
but here is Baldwin has just sent me word that her mother is dying,
and she can’t undertake any work for a week. Provoking! could not the
woman die just as well after the ball?”

“Oh, aunt!”

“And my maid has no more taste than an owl. What on earth am I to do?”

“Wear another dress.”

“What other can I?”

“Nothing can be prettier than your white mousseline de soie with the
tartan trimming.”

“No, I have worn that at four balls already; I won’t be known by my
colors, like a bird. I have made up my mind to wear the jaune, and I
will, in spite of them all; that is, if I can find anybody who cares
enough for me to try it on, and tell me what it wants.” Lucy offered
at once to go with her to her room and try it on.

“No--no--it is so cold there; we will do it here by the fire. You will
find it in the large wardrobe, dear. Mind how you carry it. Lucy! lots
of pins.”

Mrs. Bazalgette then rang the bell, and told the servant to say she
was out if anyone called, no matter who.

Meantime Lucy, impressed with the gravity of her office, took the
dress carefully down from the pegs; and as it would have been death to
crease it, and destruction to let its hem sweep against any of the
inferior forms of matter, she came down the stairs and into the room
holding this female weapon of destruction as high above her head as
Judith waves the sword of Holofernes in Etty’s immortal picture.

The other had just found time to loosen her dress and lock one of the
doors. She now locked the other, and the rites began. Well!!??

“It fits you like a glove.”

“Really? tell the truth now; it is a sin to tell a story--about a new
gown. What a nuisance one can’t see behind one!”

“I could fetch another glass, but you may trust my word, aunt. This
point behind is very becoming; it gives distinction to the waist.”

“Yes, Baldwin cuts these bodies better than Olivier; but the worst of
her is, when it comes to the trimming you have to think for yourself.
The woman has no mind; she is a pair of hands, and there is an end of
her.”

“I must confess it is a little plain, for one thing,” said Lucy.

“Why, you little goose, you don’t think I am going to wear it like
this. No. I thought of having down a wreath and bouquet from Foster’s
of violets and heart’s-ease--the bosom and sleeves covered with blond,
you know, and caught up here and there with a small bunch of the
flowers. Then, in the center heart’s-ease of the bosom, I meant to
have had two of my largest diamonds set--hush!”

The door-handle worked viciously; then came rap! rap! rap! rap!

“Tic--tic--tic; this is always the way. Who is there? Go away; you
can’t come here.”

“But I want to speak to you. What the deuce are you doing?” said
through the keyhole the wretch that owned the room in a mere legal
sense.

“We are trying a dress. Come again in an hour.”

“Confound your dresses! Who is we?”

“Lucy has got a new dress.”

“Aunt!” whispered Lucy, in a tone of piteous expostulation.

“Oh, if it is Lucy. Well, good-by, ladies. I am obliged to go to
London at a moment’s notice for a couple of days. You will have done
by when I come back, perhaps,” and off went Bazalgette whistling, but
not best pleased. He had told his wife more than once that the
drawing-rooms and dining-rooms of a house are the public rooms, and
the bedrooms the private ones.

Lucy colored with mortification. It was death to her to annoy anyone;
so her aunt had thrust her into a cruel position.

“Poor Mr. Bazalgette!” sighed she.

“Fiddle de dee. Let him go, and come back in a better temper--set
transparent; so then, backed by the violet, you know, they will
imitate dewdrops to the life.”

“Charming! Why not let Olivier do it for you, as poor Baldwin cannot?”

“Because Olivier works for the Claytons, and we should have that Emily
Clayton out as my double; and as we visit the same houses--”

“And as she is extremely pretty--aunt, what a generalissima you are!”

“Pretty! Snub-nosed little toad. No, she is not pretty. But she is
eighteen; so I can’t afford to dress her. No. I see I shall have to
moderate my views for this gown, and buy another dress for the flowers
and diamonds. There, take it off, and let us think it calmly over. I
never act in a hurry but I am sorry for it afterward--I mean in things
of real importance.” The gown was taken off in silence, broken only by
occasional sighs from the sufferer, in whose heart a dozen projects
battled fiercely for the mastery, and worried and sore perplexed her,
and rent her inmost soul fiercely divers ways.

“Black lace, dear,” suggested Lucy, soothingly.

Mrs. B. curled her arm lovingly round Lucy’s waist. “Just what I was
beginning to think,” said she, warmly. “And we can’t both be mistaken,
can we? But where can I get enough?” and her countenance, that the
cheering coincidence had rendered seraphic, was once more clouded with
doubt.

“Why, you have yards of it.”

“Yes, but mine is all made up in some form or other, and it musses
one’s things so to pick them to pieces.”

“So it does, dear,” replied Lucy, with gentle but genuine feeling.

“It would only be for one night, Lucy--I should not hurt it, love--you
would not like to fetch down your Brussels point scarf, and see how it
would look, would you? We need not cut the lace, dear; we could tack
it on again the next morning; you are not so particular as I am--you
look well in anything.”

Lucy was soon seated denuding herself and embellishing her aunt. The
latter reclined with grace, and furthered the work by smile and
gesture.

“You don’t ask me about the skirmish in the nursery.”

“Their squabbles bore me, dear; but you can tell me who was the most
in fault, if you think it worth while.”

“Reginald, then, I am afraid; but it is not the poor boy; it is the
influence of the stable-yard; and I do advise and entreat you to keep
him out of it.”

“Impossible, my dear; you don’t know boys. The stable is their
paradise. When he grows older his father must interfere; meantime, let
us talk of something more agreeable.”

“Yes; you shall go on with your story. You had got to his look of
despair when your papa came in that morning.”

“Oh, I have no time for anybody’s despair just now; I can think of
nothing but this detestable gown. Lucy, I suspect I almost wish I had
made them put another breadth into the skirt.”

“Luncheon, ma’am.”

Lucy begged her aunt to go down alone; she would stay and work.

“No, you must come to luncheon; there is a dish on purpose for
you--stewed eels.”

“Eels; why, I abhor them; I think they are water-serpents.”

“Who is it that is so fond of them, then?”

“It is you, aunt.”

“So it is. I thought it had been you. Come, you must come down,
whether you eat anything or not. I like somebody to talk to me while I
am eating, and I had an idea just now--it is gone--but perhaps it will
come back to me: it was about this abominable gown. O! how I wish
there was not such a thing as dress in the world!!!”

While Mrs. Bazalgette was munching water-snakes with delicate zeal,
and Lucy nibbling cake, came a letter. Mrs. Bazalgette read it with
heightening color, laid it down, cast a pitying glance on Lucy, and
said, with a sigh, “Poor girl!”

Lucy turned a little pale. “Has anything happened?” she faltered.

“Something is going to happen; you are to be torn away from here,
where you are so happy--where we all love you, dear. It is from that
selfish old bachelor. Listen: ‘Dear madam, my niece Lucy has been due
here three days. I have waited to see whether you would part with her
without being dunned. My curiosity on that point is satisfied, and I
have now only my affection to consult, which I do by requesting you to
put her and her maid into a carriage that will be waiting for her at
your door twenty-four hours after you receive this note. I have the
honor to be, madam,’ an old brute!!”

“And you can smile; but that is you all over; you don’t care a straw
whether you are happy or miserable.”

“Don’t I?”

“Not you; you will leave this, where you are a little queen, and go
and bury yourself three months with that old bachelor, and nobody will
ever gather from your face that you are bored to death; and here we
are asked to the Cavendishes’ next Wednesday, and the Hunts’ ball on
Friday--you are such a lucky girl--our best invitations always drop in
while you are with us--we go out three times as often during your
months as at other times; it is your good fortune, or the weather, or
something.”

“Dear aunt, this was your own arrangement with Uncle Fountain. I used
to be six months with each in turn till you insisted on its being
three. You make me almost laugh, both you and Uncle Fountain; what
_do_ you see in me worth quarreling for?”

“I will tell you what _he_ sees--a good little spiritless
thing--”

“I am larger than you, dear.”

“Yes, in body--that he can make a slave of--always ready to nurse him
and his foe, or to put down your work and to take up his--to play at
his vile backgammon.”

“Piquet, please.”

“Where is the difference?--to share his desolation, and take half his
blue devils on your own shoulders, till he will hyp you so that to get
away you will consent to marry into his set--the county set--some
beggarly old family that came down from the Conquest, and has been
going down ever since; so then he will let you fly--with a string: you
must vegetate two miles from him; so then he can have you in to
Backquette and write his letters: he will settle four hundred a year
on you, and you will be miserable for life.”

“Poor Uncle Fountain, what a schemer he turns out!”

“Men all turn out schemers when you know them, Miss Impertinence.
Well, dear, I have no selfish views for you. I love my few friends too
single-heartedly for that; but I _am_ sad when I see you leaving
us to go where you are not prized.”

“Indeed, aunt, I am prized at Font Abbey. I am overrated there as I am
here. They all receive me with open arms.”

“So is a hare when it comes into a trap,” said Mrs. Bazalgette,
sharply, drawing upon a limited knowledge of grammar and field-sports.

“No--Uncle Fountain really loves me.”

“As much as I do?” asked the lady, with a treacherous smile.

“Very nearly,” was the young courtier’s reply. She went on to console
her aunt’s unselfish solicitude, by assuring her that Font Abbey was
not a solitude; that dinners and balls abounded, and her uncle was
invited to them all.

“You little goose, don’t you see? all those invitations are for your
sake, not his. If we could look in on him now we should find him
literally in single cursedness. Those county folks are not without
cunning. They say beauty has come to stay with the beast; we must ask
the beast to dinner, so then beauty will come along with him.

“What other pleasure awaits you at Font Abbey?”

“The pleasure of giving pleasure,” replied Lucy, apologetically.

“Ah! that is your weakness, Lucy. It is all very well with those who
won’t take advantage; but it is the wrong game to play with all the
world. You will be made a tool of, and a slave of, and use of. I speak
from experience. You know how I sacrifice myself to those I love;
luckily, they are not many.”

“Not so many as love you, dear.”

“Heaven forbid! but you are at the head of them all, and I am going to
prove it--by deeds, not words.”

Lucy looked up at this additional feature in her aunt’s affection.

“You must go to the great bear’s den for three months, but it shall be
the last time!” Lucy said nothing.

“You will return never to quit us, or, at all events, not the
neighborhood.”

“That--would be nice,” said the courtier warmly, but hesitatingly;
“but how will you gain uncle’s consent?”

“By dispensing with it.”

“Yes; but the means, aunt?”

“A husband!”

Lucy started and colored all over, and looked askant at her aunt with
opening eyes, like a thoroughbred filly just going to start all across
the road. Mrs. Bazalgette laid a loving hand on her shoulder, and
whispered knowingly in her ear: “Trust to me; I’ll have one ready for
you against you come back this time.”

“No, please don’t! pray don’t!” cried Lucy, clasping her hands in
feeble-minded distress.

“In this neighborhood--one of the right sort.”

“I am so happy as I am.”

“You will be happier when you are quite a slave, and so I shall save
you from being snapped up by some country wiseacre, and marry you into
our own set.”

“Merchant princes,” suggested Lucy, demurely, having just recovered
her breath and what little sauce there was in her.

“Yes, merchant princes--the men of the age--the men who could buy all
the acres in the country without feeling it--the men who make this
little island great, and a woman happy, by letting her have everything
her heart can desire.”

“You mean everything that money can buy.”

“Of course. I said so, didn’t I?”

“So, then, you are tired of me in the house?” remonstrated Lucy,
sadly.

“No, ingrate; but you will be sure to marry soon or late.”

“No, I will not, if I can possibly help it.”

“But you can’t help it; you are not the character to help it. The
first man that comes to you and says: ‘I know you rather dislike me’
(you could not hate anybody, Lucy,) ‘but if you don’t take me I shall
die of a broken fiddlestick,’ you will whine out, ‘Oh, dear! shall
you? Well, then, sooner than disoblige you, here--take me!’”

“Am I so weak as this?” asked Lucy, coloring, and the water coming
into her eyes.

“Don’t be offended,” said the other, coolly; “we won’t call it
weakness, but excess of complaisance; you can’t say no to anybody.”

“Yet I have said it,” replied Lucy, thoughtfully.

“Have you? When? Oh, to me. Yes; where I am concerned you have
sometimes a will of your own, and a pretty stout one; but never with
anybody else.”

The aunt then inquired of the niece, “frankly, now, between
ourselves,” whether she had no wish to be married. The niece informed
her in confidence that she had not, and was puzzled to conceive how
the bare idea of marriage came to be so tempting to her sex. Of
course, she could understand a lady wishing to marry, if she loved a
gentleman who was determined to be unhappy without her; but that women
should look about for some hunter to catch instead of waiting quietly
till the hunter caught them, this puzzled her; and as for the
superstitious love of females for the marriage rite in cases when it
took away their liberty and gave them nothing amiable in return, it
amazed her. “So, aunt,” she concluded, “if you really love me, driving
me to the altar will be an unfortunate way of showing it.”

While listening to this tirade, which the young lady delivered with
great serenity, and concluded with a little yawn, Mrs. Bazalgette had
two thoughts. The first was: “This girl is not flesh and blood; she is
made of curds and whey, or something else;” the second was: “No, she
is a shade hypocriticaler than other girls--before they are married,
that is all;” and, acting on this latter conviction, she smiled a
lofty incredulity, and fell to counting on her fingers all the moneyed
bachelors for miles.

At this Lucy winced with sensitive modesty, and for once a shade of
vexation showed itself on her lovely features. The quick-sighted,
keen-witted matron caught it, and instantly made a masterly move of
feigned retreat. “No,” cried she, “I will not tease you anymore, love;
just promise me not to receive any gentleman’s addresses at Font
Abbey, and I will never drive you from my arms to the altar.”

“I promise that,” cried Lucy, eagerly.

“Upon your honor?”

“Upon my honor.”

“Kiss me, dear. I know you won’t deceive me now you have pledged your
honor. This solemn promise consoles me more than you can conceive.”

“I am so glad; but if you knew how little it costs me.”

“All the better; you will be more likely to keep it,” was the dry
reply.

The conversation then took a more tender turn. “And so to-morrow you
go! How dull the house will be without you! and who is to keep my
brats in order now I have no idea. Well, there is nothing but meeting
and parting in this world; it does not do to love people, does it?
(ah!) Don’t cry, love, or I shall give way; my desolate heart already
brims over--no--now don’t cry” (a little sharply); “the servants will
be coming in to take away the things.”

“Will you c--c--come and h--help me pack, dear?”

“Me, love? oh no! I could not bear the sight of your things put out to
go away. I promised to call on Mrs. Hunt this afternoon; and you must
not stop in all day yourself--I cannot let your health be sacrificed;
you had better take a brisk walk, and pack afterward.”

“Thank you, aunt. I will go and finish my drawing of Harrowden Church
to take with me.”

“No, don’t go there; the meadows are wet. Walk upon the Hatton road;
it is all gravel.”

“Yes; only it is so ugly, and I have nothing to do that way.”

“But I’ll give you something to do,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, obligingly.
“You know where old Sarah and her daughter live--the last cottages on
that road; I don’t like the shape of the last two collars they made
me; you can take them back, if you like, and lend them one of yours I
admire so for a pattern.”

“That I will, with pleasure.”

“Shall you come back through the garden? If you don’t--never mind;
but, if you do, you may choose me a bouquet. The servants are
incapable of a bouquet.”

“I will; thank you, dear. How kind and thoughtful of you to give me
something to occupy me now that I am a little sad.” Mrs. Bazalgette
accepted this tribute with a benignant smile, and the ladies parted.


The next morning a traveling-carriage, with four smoking post-horses,
came wheeling round the gravel to the front door. Uncle Fountain’s
factotum got down from the dicky, packed Lucy’s imperial on the roof,
and slung a box below the dicky; stowed her maid away aft, arranged
the foot-cushion and a shawl or two inside, and, half obsequiously,
half bumptiously, awaited the descent of his fair charge.

Then, upstairs, came a sudden simultaneous attack of ardent lips, and
a long, clinging embrace that would have graced the most glorious,
passionate, antique love. Sculpture outdone, the young lady went down,
and was handed into the carriage. Her ardent aunt followed presently,
and fired many glowing phrases in at the window; and, just as the
carriage moved, she uttered a single word quite quietly, as much as to
say, Now, this I mean. This genuine word, the last Aunt Bazalgette
spoke, had been, two hundred years before, the last word of Charles
the First. Note the coincidences of history.

The two postboys lifted their whips level to their eyes by one
instinct, the horses tightened the traces, the wheels ground the
gravel, and Lucy was whirled away with that quiet, emphatic post-dict
ringing in her ears,

Remember!


Font Hill was sixty miles off: they reached it in less than six hours.
There was Uncle Fountain on the hall steps to receive her, and the
comely housekeeper, Mrs. Brown, ducking and smiling in the background.
While the servants were unpacking the carriage, Mr. Fountain took Lucy
to her bedroom. Mrs. Brown had gone on before to see for the third
time whether all was comfortable. There was a huge fire, all red; and
on the table a gigantic nosegay of spring flowers, with smell to them
all.

“Oh how nice, after a journey!” said Lucy, mowing down Uncle Fountain
and Mrs. Brown with one comprehensive smile.

Mrs. Brown flamed with complacency.

“What!” cried her uncle; “I suppose you expected a black fire and
impertinent apologies by way of substitute for warmth; a stuffy room,
and damp sheets, roasted, like a woodcock, twenty minutes before use.”

“No, uncle, dear, I expected every comfort at Font Abbey.” Brown
retired with a courtesy.

“Aha! What! you have found out that it is all humbug about old
bachelors not knowing comfort? Do bachelors ever put their friends
into damp sheets? No; that is the women’s trick with their household
science. Your sex have killed more men with damp sheets than ever fell
by the sword.”

“Yet nobody erects monuments to us,” put in Lucy, slyly.

She missed fire. Uncle Fountain, like most Englishmen, could take in a
pun by the ear, but wit only by the eye. “Do you remember when Mrs.
Bazalgette put you into the linen sponge, and killed you?”

“Killed me?”

“Certainly, as far as in her lay. We can but do our best; well, she
did hers, and went the right way to work.”

“You see I survive.”

“By a miracle. Dinner is at six.”

“Very well, dear.”

“Yes; but six in this house means sixty minutes after five and sixty
minutes before seven. I mention this the first day because you are
just come from a place where it means twenty minutes to seven; also
let me observe that I think I have noticed soup and potatoes eat
better hot than cold, and meat tastes nicer done to a turn than--”

“To a cinder?”

“Ha! ha! and come with an appetite, please.”

“Uncle, no tyranny, I beg.”

“Tyranny? you know this is Liberty Hall; only when I eat I expect my
companion to-eat too; besides, there is nothing to be gained by humbug
to-day. There will be only us two at dinner; and when I see young
ladies fiddling with an asparagus head instead of eating their dinner,
it don’t fall into the greenhorn’s notion--exquisite creature! all
soul! no stomach! feeds on air, ideas, and quadrille music--no; what
do you think I say?”

“Something flattering, I feel sure.”

“On the contrary, something true. I say hypocrite! Been grubbing like
a pig all day, so can’t eat like a Christian at meal time; you can’t
humbug me.”

“Alas! so I see. That decides me to be candid--and hungry.”

“Well, I am off; I don’t stick to my friends and bore them with my
affairs like that egotistical hussy, Jane Bazalgette. I amuse myself,
and leave them to amuse themselves; that is my notion of politeness. I
am going to see my pigs fed, then into the village. I am building a
new blacksmith’s shop there (you must come and look at it the first
thing to-morrow); and at six, if you want to find me--”

“I shall peep behind the soup-tureen.”

“And there I shall be, if I am alive.” At dinner the old boy threw
himself into the work with such zeal that soon after the cloth was
removed, from fatigue and repletion, he dropped asleep, with his
shoulder toward Lucy, but his face instinctively turned toward the
fire. Lucy crept away on tiptoe, not to disturb him.

In about an hour he bustled into the drawing-room, ordered tea, blew
up the footman because the cook had not water boiling that moment,
drank three cups, then brightened up, rubbed his hands, and with a
cheerful, benevolent manner, “Now, Lucy,” cried he, “come and help me
puzzle out this tiresome genealogy.”

A smile of warm assent from Lucy, and the old bachelor and the
blooming Hebe were soon seated with a mountain of parchments by their
side, and a tree spreading before them.

It was not a finite tree like an elm or an oak; no, it was a banyan
tree; covered an acre, and from its boughs little suckers dropped to
earth, and turned to little trees, and had suckers in their turn, and
“confounded the confusion.”

Uncle Fountain’s happiness depended, _pro tem,_ on proving that
he was a sucker from the great bough of the Fontaines of Melton; and
why? Because, this effected, he had only to go along that bough by an
established pedigree to the great trunk of the Funteyns of Salle, and
the first Funteyn of Salle was said to be (and this he hoped to prove
true) great-grandson of Robert de Fontibus, son of John de Fonte.

Now Uncle Fountain could prove himself the shoot of George his father
(a step at which so many pedigrees halt), who was the shoot of
William, who was the shoot of Richard; but here came a gap of eighty
years between him and that Fountain, younger son of Melton, to whom he
wanted to hook on. Now the logic of women, children, and criticasters
is a thing of gaps; they reason as marches a kangaroo; but to
mathematicians, logicians, and genealogists, a link wanting is a chain
broken. This blank then made Uncle Fountain miserable, and he cried
out for help. Lucy came with her young eyes, her woman’s patience, and
her own complaisance. A great ditch yawned between a crocheteer and a
rotten branch he coveted. Our Quinta Curtia flung herself, her
eyesight, and her time into that ditch.

Twelve o’clock came, and found them still wallowing in modern
antiquity.

“Bless me!” cried Mr. Fountain when John brought up the bed-candles,
“how time flies when one is really employed.”

“Yes, indeed, uncle;” and by a gymnastic of courtesy she first crushed
and then so molded a yawn that it glided into society a smile.

“We have spent a delightful evening, Lucy.”

“Thanks to you, uncle.”

“I hope you will sleep well, child.”

“I am sure I shall, dear,” said she, sweetly and inadvertently.



CHAPTER II.

A LARGE aspiration is a rarity; but who has not some small ambition,
none the less keen for being narrow--keener, perhaps? Mrs. Bazalgette
burned to be great by dress; Mr. Fountain, member of a sex with higher
aims, aspired to be great in the county.

Unluckily, his main property was in the funds. He had acres
in ----shire; but so few that, some years ago, its lord lieutenant
declined to make him an injustice of the peace. That functionary died,
and on his death the mortified aspirant bought a coppice, christened
it Springwood, and under cover of this fringe to his three meadows,
applied to the new lord lieutenant as M’Duff approached M’Beth. The
new man made him a magistrate; so now he aspired to be a deputy
lieutenant, and attended all the boards of magistrates, and turnpike
trusts, etc., and brought up votes and beer-barrels at each election,
and, in, short, played all the cards in his pack, Lucy included, to
earn that distinction.

We may as well confess that there lurked in him a half-unconscious
hope that some day or other, in some strange collision or combination
of parties, a man profound in county business, zealous in county
interests, personally obnoxious to nobody, might drop into the seat of
county member; and, if this should be, would not he have the sense to
hold his tongue upon the noisy questions that waste Parliament’s time,
and the nation’s; but, on the first of those periodical attacks to
which the wretched landowner is subject, wouldn’t he speak, and show
the difference between a mere member of the Commons and a member for
the county?

If anyone had asked this man plump which is the most important,
England or ----shire, he would have certainly told you England; but
our opinions are not the notions we repeat, and can defend by reasons
or even by facts: our opinions are the notions we feel and act on.

Could you have looked inside Mr. Fountain’s head, you would have seen
ideas corresponding to the following diagrams:

[drawing]

Mr. Fountain courted the stomach of the county.

Without this, he knew, an angel could not reach its heart; and here
one of his eccentricities broke out. He drew a line, in his
dictatorial way, between dinner and feeding parties. “A dinner party
is two rubbers. Four gentlemen and four ladies sit round a circular
table; then each can hear what anyone says, and need not twist the
neck at every word. Foraging parties are from fourteen to thirty, set
up and down a plank, each separated from those he could talk to as
effectually as if the ocean rolled between, and bawling into one
person’s ear amid the din of knives, forks, and multitude. I go to
those long strings of noisy duets because I must, but I give
_society_ at home.”

The county people had just strength of mind to like the old boy’s
sociable dinners, though not to imitate them, and an invitation from
him was very rarely declined when Lucy was with him.

And she was in her glory. She could carry complaisance such a long way
at Font Abbey--she was mistress of the house.

She listened with a wonderful appearance of interest to county
matters, i.e., to minute scandal and infinitesimal politics; to
the county cricket match and archery meeting; to the past ball and the
ball to come. In the drawing-room, when a cold fit fell on the
coterie, she would glide to one egotist after another, find out the
monotope, and set the critter Peter’s, the Place de Concorde, the
Square of St. Mark, Versailles, the Alhambra, the Apollo Belvidere,
the Madonna of the Chair, and all the glories of nature and the feats
of art could not warm. So, then, the fine gentleman began to act--to
walk himself out as a person who had seen and could give details about
anything, but was exalted far above admiring anything _(quel grand
homme! rien ne peut lui plaire);_ and on this, while the women were
gazing sweetly on him, and revering his superiority to all great
impressions, and the men envying, rather hating, but secretly admiring
him too, she who had launched him bent on him a look of soft pity, and
abandoned him to admiration.

“Poor Mr. Talboys,” thought she, “I fear I have done him an ill turn
by drawing him out;” and she glided to her uncle, who was sitting
apart, and nobody talking to him.

Mr. Talboys, started by Lucy, ambled out his high-pacing
_nil admirantem_ character, and derived a little quiet
self-satisfaction. This was the highest happiness he was capable of;
so he was not ungrateful to Miss Fountain, who had procured it him,
and partly for this, partly because he had been kind to her and lent
her a pony, he shook hands with her somewhat cordially at parting. As
it happened, he was the last guest.

“You have won that, man’s heart, Lucy,” cried Mr. Fountain, with a
mixture of surprise and pride.

Lucy made no reply. She looked quickly into his face to see if he was
jesting.


“Writing, Lucy--so late?”

“Only a few lines, uncle. You shall see them; I note the more
remarkable phenomena of society. I am recalling a conversation between
three of our guests this evening, and shall be grateful for your
opinion on it. There! Read it out, please.”


Mrs. Luttrell. “We missed you at the archery meeting--ha! ha! ha!”

Mrs. Willis. “Mr. Willis would not let me go--he! he! he!”

Mrs. James. “Well, at all events--he! he!--you will come to the flower
show.”

Mrs. Willis. “Oh yes!--he! he!--I am so fond of flowers--ha! ha!”

Mrs. Luttrell. “So am I. I adore them--he! he!”

Mrs. Willis. “How sweetly Miss Malcolm sings--he! he!”

Mrs. Luttrell. “Yes, she shakes like a bird--ha! ha!”

Mrs. James. “A little Scotch accent though--he! he!”

Mrs. Luttrell. “She is Scotch--he! he!” (To John offering her tea.)
“No more, thank you--he! he!”

Mrs. James. “Shall you go the Assize sermon?--ha! ha!”

Mrs. Willis. “Oh, yes--he! he!--the last was very dry--he! he! Who
preaches it this term?--he!”

Mrs. James. “The Bishop--he! he!”

Mrs. Willis. “Then I shall certainly go; he is such a dear
preacher--he! he!”


“Just tell me what is the precise meaning of ‘ha! ha!’ and what of
‘he! he!’”

“The precise meaning? There you puzzle me, uncle.”

“I mean, what do you mean by them?”

“Oh, I put ‘ha! ha!’ when they giggle, and ‘he! he!’ when they only
chuckle.”

“Then this is a caricature, my lady?”

“No, dear, you know I have no satire in me; it is taken down to the
letter, and I fear I must trouble you for the solution.”

“Well, the solution is, they are three fools.”

“No, uncle, begging your pardon, they are not,” replied Lucy, politely
but firmly.

“Well, then, three d--d fools.”

Lucy winced at the participle, but was two polite to lecture her
elder. “They have not that excuse,” said she; “they are all sensible
women, who discharge the duties of life with discretion except
society; and they can discriminate between grave and gay whenever they
are not at a party; and as for Mrs. Luttrell, when she is alone with
me she is a sweet, natural love.”

“They cackled--at every word--like that--the whole evening!!??”

“Except when you told that funny story about the Irish corporal who
was attacked by a mastiff, and killed him with his halberd, and, when
he was reproached by his captain for not being content to repel so
valuable an animal with the butt end of his lance, answered--ha! ha!”

“So, then, he answered ‘Haw! haw!’ did he?”

“Now, uncle! No; he answered, ‘So I would, your arnr, if he had run at
me with his tail!’ Now, that was genuine wit, mixed with quite enough
fun to make an intelligent person laugh; and then you told it so
drolly--ha! ha!”

“They did not laugh at _that?”_

“Sat as grave as judges.”

“And you tell me they are not fools.”

“I must repeat, they have not that excuse. Perhaps their risibility
had been exhausted. After laughing three hours _a propos de
rien,_ it is time to be serious out of place. I will tell you what
they _did_ laugh at, though. Miss Malcolm sang a song with a
title I dare not attempt. There were two lines in it which I am going
to mispronounce; but you are not Scotch, so I don’t care for
_you,_ uncle, darling.

      “‘He had but a saxpence; he break it in twa,
        And he gave me the half o’t when he gaed awa.’

“They laughed at that; a general giggle went round.”

“Well, I must confess, I don’t see much to laugh at in that, Lucy.”

“It would be odd if you did, uncle, dear; why, it is pathetic.”

“Pathetic? Oh, is it?”

“You naughty, cunning uncle, you know it is; it is pathetic, and
almost heroic. Consider, dear: in a world where the very newspapers
show how mercenary we all are, a poor young man is parted from his
love. He has but one coin to go through the world with, and what does
he do with it? Scheme to make the sixpence a crown, and to make the
crown a pound? No; he breaks this one treasure in two, that both the
poor things may have a silver token of love and a pledge of his
return. I am sure, if the poet had been here, he would have been quite
angry with us for laughing at that line.”

“Keep your temper. Why, this is new from you, Lucy; but you women of
sugar can all cauterize your own sex; the theme inspires you.”

“Uncle, how dare you! Are you not afraid I shall be angry one of these
days, dear!!? The gentlemen were equally concerned in this last
enormity. Poor Jemmy, or Jammy, with his devotion and tenderness that
soothed, and his high spirit that supported the weaker vessel, was as
funny to our male as to our female guests--so there. I saw but one
that understood him, and did not laugh at him.”

“Talboys, for a pound.”

“Mr. Talboys? no! _You,_ dear uncle; you did not laugh; I noticed
it with all a niece’s pride.”

“Of course I didn’t. Can I hear a word these ladies mew? can I tell in
what language even they are whining and miauling? I have given up
trying this twenty years and more.”

“I return to my question,” said Lucy hastily.

“And I to my solution; your three graces are three d--d fools. If you
can account for it in any other way, do.”

“No, uncle dear. If you had happened to agree with me beforehand, I
would; but as you do not, I beg to be excused. But keep the paper, and
the next time listen to the talk and unmeaning laughter; you will find
I have not exaggerated, and some day, dear, I will tell you how my
mamma used to account for similar monstrosities in society.”

“Here is a mysterious little toad. Well, Lucy, for all this you
enjoyed yourself. I never saw you in better spirits.”

“I am glad you saw that,” said Lucy, with a languid smile.

“And how Talboys came out.”

“He did,” sighed Lucy.

Here the young lady lighted softly on an ottoman, and sank gracefully
back with a weary-o’-the-world air; and when she had settled down like
so much floss silk, fixing her eye on the ceiling, and doling her
words out languidly yet thoughtfully--just above a whisper, “Uncle,
darling,” inquired she, “where are the men we have all heard of?”

“How should I know? What men?”

“Where are the men of sentiment, that can understand a woman, and win
her to reveal her real heart, the best treasure she has, uncle dear?”
 She paused for a reply; none coming, she continued with decreasing
energy:

“Where are the men of spirit? the men of action? the upright,
downright men, that Heaven sends to cure us of our disingenuousness?
Where are the heroes and the wits?” (an infinitesimal yawn); “where
are the real men? And where are the women to whom such men can do
homage without degrading themselves? where are the men who elevate a
woman without making her masculine, and the women who can brighten and
polish, and yet not soften the steel of manhood--tell me, tell me
instantly,” said she, with still greater languor and want of
earnestness, and her eyes remained fixed on the ceiling in deep
abstraction.

“They are all in this house at this moment,” said Mr. Fountain,
coolly.

“Who, dear? I fear I was not attending to you. How rude!!”

“Horrid. I say the men and women you inquire for are all in this house
of mine;” and the old gentleman’s eyes twinkled.

“Uncle! Heaven forgive you, and--oh, fie!”

“They are, upon my soul.”

“Then they must be in some part of it I have not visited. Are they in
the kitchen?” (with a little saucy sneer.)

“No, they are in the library.”

“In the lib--Ah! _le malin!”_

“They were never seen in the drawing-room, and never will be.”

“Yet surely they must have lived in nature before they were embalmed
in print,” said Lucy, interrogating the ceiling again.

“The nearest approach you will meet to these paragons is Reginald
Talboys,” said Fountain, stoutly.

“Uncle, I do love you;” and Lucy rose with Juno-like slowness and
dignity, and, leaning over the old boy, kissed him with sudden small
fury.

“Why?” asked he, eagerly, connecting this majestic squirt of affection
with his last speech.

“Because you are such a nice, dear, _sarcastic_ thing. Let us
drink tea in the library to-morrow, then that will be an approach
to--”

With this illegitimate full stop the conversation ended, and Miss
Fountain took a candle and sauntered to bed.


In church next Sunday Lucy observed a young lady with a beaming face,
who eyed her by stealth in all the interstices of devotion. She asked
her uncle who was that pretty girl with a _nez retrousse._

“A cocked nose? It must be my little friend, Eve Dodd. I didn’t know
she was come back.”

“What a pretty face to be in such--such a--such an impossible bonnet.
It has come down from another epoch.” This not maliciously, but with a
sort of tender, womanly concern for beauty set off to the most
disadvantage.

“O, hang her bonnet! She is full of fun; she shall drink tea with us;
she is a great favorite of mine.”

They quickened their pace, and caught Eve Dodd just as she took a
flying leap over some water that lay in her path, and showed a
charming ankle. In those days female dress committed two errors that
are disappearing: it revealed the whole foot by day, and hid a section
of the bosom at night.

After the usual greetings, Mr. Fountain asked Eve if she would come
over and drink tea with him and his niece.

Miss Dodd colored and cast a glance of undisguised admiration at Miss
Fountain, but she said: “Thank you, sir; I am much obliged, but I am
afraid I can’t come. My brother would miss me.”

“What--the sailor? Is he at home?”

“Yes, sir; came home last night”; and she clapped her hands by way of
comment. “He has been with my mother all church-time; so now it is my
turn, and I don’t know how to let him out of my sight yet awhile.” And
she gave a glance at Miss Fountain, as much as to say, “You
understand.”

“Well, Eve,” said Mr. Fountain good-humoredly, “we must not separate
brother and sister,” and he was turning to go.

“Perhaps, uncle,” said Lucy, looking not at Mr. Fountain, but at
Eve--“Mr.--Mr.--”

“David Dodd is my brother’s name,” said Eve, quickly.

“Mr. David Dodd might be persuaded to give us the pleasure of his
company too.”

“Oh yes, if I may bring dear David with me,” burst out the child of
nature, coloring again with pleasure.

“It will add to the obligation,” said Lucy, finishing the sentence in
character.

“So that is settled,” said Mr. Fountain, somewhat dryly.

As they were walking home together, the courtier asked her uncle
rather coldly, “Who are these we have invited, dear?”

“Who are they? A pretty girl and a man she wouldn’t come without.”

“And who is the gentleman? What is he?”

“A marine animal--first mate of a ship.”

“First mate? mate? Is that what in the novels is called boatswain’s
mate?”

“Haw! haw! haw! I say, Lucy, ask him when he comes if he is the
bosen’s mate. How little Eve will blaze!”

“Then I shall ask him nothing of the kind. Do tell me! I know
admirals--they swear--and captains, and, I think, lieutenants, and,
_above all,_ those little loves of midshipmen, strutting with
their dirks and cocked hats, like warlike bantams, but I never met
‘mates.’ Mates?”

“That is because you have only been introduced to the Royal Navy; but
there is another navy not so ornamental, but quite as useful, called
the East India Company’s.”

“I am ashamed to say I never heard of it.”

“I dare say not. Well, in this navy there are only two kinds of
superior officers--the mates and the captain. There are five or six
mates. Young Dodd has been first mate some time, so I suppose he will
soon be a captain.”

“Uncle!”

“Well.”

“Will this--mate--swear?”

“Clearly.”

“There, now. I do not like swearing on a Sunday. That wicked old
admiral used to make me shudder.”

“Oh,” said Mr. Fountain, playing upon innocence, “he swore by the
Supreme Being, ‘I bet sixpence.’”

“Yes,” said Lucy, in a low, soft voice of angelic regret.

“Ah! he was in the Royal Navy. But this is a merchantman; you don’t
think he will presume to break into the monopoly of the superior
branch. He will only swear by the wind and weather. Thunder and
squalls! Donner and blitzen! Handspikes and halyards! these are the
innocent execrations of the merchant service--he! he! ho!”

“Uncle, can you be serious?” asked Lucy, somewhat coldly; “if so, be
so good as to tell me, is this gentleman--a--gentleman?”

“Well,” replied the other, coolly, “he is what I call a nondescript;
like an attorney, or a surgeon, or a civil engineer, or a banker, or a
stock-broker, and all that sort of people. He can be a gentleman if he
is thoroughly bent on it; you would in his place, and so should I; but
these skippers don’t turn their mind that way. Old families don’t go
into the merchant service. Indeed, it would not answer. There they
rise by--by--mere maritime considerations.”

“Then, uncle,” began Lucy, with dignified severity, “permit me to say
that, in inviting a nondescript, you showed--less consideration for me
than--you--are in the habit--of doing, dearest.”

“Well, have a headache, and can’t come down.”

“So I certainly should; but, most unfortunately, I have an objection
to tell fibs on a Sunday.”

“You are quite right; we should rest from our usual employments one
day-ha! ha! and so go at it fresher to-morrow--haw! ho! Come, Lucy,
don’t you be so exclusive. Eve Dodd is a merry girl. She comes and
amuses me when you are not here, and David, by all accounts, is a fine
young fellow, and as modest as a girl of fifteen; they will make me
laugh, especially Eve, and it would be hard at my age, I think, if I
might not ask whom I like--to tea.”

“So it would,” put in Lucy, hastily; she added, coaxing, “it shall
have its own way--it shall have what makes it laugh.”


Long before eight o’clock the Fountains had forgotten that they had
invited the Dodds.

Not so Eve. She was all in a flutter, and hesitated between two
dresses, and by some blessed inspiration decided for the plainest; but
her principal anxiety was, not about herself, but about David’s
deportment before the Queen of Fashion, for such report proclaimed
Miss Fountain. “And those fine ladies are so satirical,” said Eve to
herself; “but I will lecture him going along.”

Dinner time, and, by consequence, tea time, came earlier in those
days; so, about eight o’clock, a tall, square-shouldered young fellow
was walking in the moonlight toward Font Abbey, Eve holding his hand,
and tripping by his side, and lecturing him on deportment very gravely
while dancing around him and pulling him all manner of ways, like your
solid tune with your gamboling accompaniment, a combination now in
vogue. All of a sudden, without with your leave or by your leave, the
said David caught this light fantastic object up in his arms, and
carried it on one shoulder.

On this she gave a little squeak; then, without a moment’s interval,
continued her lecture as if nothing had happened. She looked down from
her perch like a hen from a ladder, and laid down the law to David
with seriousness and asperity.

“And just please to remember that they are people a long way above
us--at least above what we are now, since father fell into trouble; so
don’t you make too free; and Miss Fountain is the finest of all the
fine ladies in the county.”

“Then I am sorry we are going.”

“No, you are not; she is a beautiful girl.”

“That alters the case.”

“No, it does not. Don’t chatter so, David, interrupting forever, but
listen and mind what I say, or I’ll never take you anywhere again.”

“Are you sure you are taking me now?” asked David, dryly.

“Why not, Mr. David?” retorted Eve, from his shoulder. “Didn’t I hear
you tell how you took the _Combermere_ out of harbor, and how you
brought her into port; she didn’t take you out and bring you home,
eh?”

“Had me there, though.”

“Yes; and, what is more, you are not skipper of the _Combermere_
yet, and never will be; but I am skipper of you.”

“Ashore--not a doubt of it,” said David, with cool indifference. He
despised terrestrial distinction, courting only such as was marine.

“Then I command you to let me down this instant. Do you hear, crew!”

“No,” objected David; “if I put you overboard you can’t command the
vessel, and ten to one if the craft does not founder for want of
seawomanship on the quarterdeck. However,” added he, in a relenting
tone, “wait till we get to that puddle shining on ahead, and then I’ll
disembark you.”

“No, David, do let me down, that’s a good soul. I am tired,” added
she, peevishly.

“Tired! of what?”

“Of doing nothing, stupid; there, let me down, dear; won’t you,
darling! then take that, love” (a box of the ear).

“Well, I’ve got it,” said David, dryly.

“Keep it, then, till the next. No, he won’t let me down. He has got
both my hands in one of his paws, and he will carry me every foot of
the way now--I know the obstinate pig.”

“We all have our little characters, Eve. Well, I have got your wrists,
but you have got your tongue, and that is the stronger weapon of the
two, you know; and you are on the poop, so give your orders, and the
ship shall be worked accordingly; likewise, I will enter all your
remarks on good-breeding into my log.”

Here, unluckily, David tapped his forehead to signify that the log in
question was a metaphorical one, the log of memory. Eve had him again
directly. She freed a claw. “So this is your log, is it?” cried she,
tapping it as hard as she could; “well, it does sound like wood of
some sort. Well, then, David, dear--you wretch, I mean--promise me not
to laugh loud.”

“Well, I will not; it is odds if I laugh at all. I wish we were to
moor alongside mother, instead of running into this strange port.”

“Stuff! think of Miss Fountain’s figure-head--nor tell too many
stories--and, above all, for heaven’s sake, do keep the poor dear old
sea out of sight for once.”

“Ay, ay, that stands to reason.”

By this time they were at Font Abbey, and David deposited his fair
burden gently on the stone steps of the door. She opened it without
ceremony, and bustled into the dining-room, crying, “I have brought
David, sir; and here he is;” and she accompanied David’s bow with a
corresponding movement of her hand, the knuckles downward.

The old gentleman awoke with a start, rubbed his eyes, shook hands
with the pair, and proposed to go up to Lucy in the drawing-room.

Now, it happened unluckily that Miss Fountain had been to the library
and taken down one or two of those men and women who, according to her
uncle, exist only on paper, and certain it is she was in charming
company when she heard her visitors’ steps and voices coming up the
stairs. Had those visitors seen the vexed expression of her face as
she laid down the book they would have instantly ‘bout ship and home
again; but that sour look dissolved away as they came through the open
door.

On coming in they saw a young lady seated on a sofa.

Apparently she did not see them enter. Her face _happened_ to be
averted; but, ere they had taken three steps, she turned her face, saw
them, rose, and took two steps to meet them, all beaming with
courtesy, kindness and quiet satisfaction at their arrival.

She gave her hand to Eve.

“This is my brother, Miss Fountain.”

Miss Fountain instantly swept David a courtesy with such a grace and
flow, coupled with an engaging smile, that the sailor was fascinated,
and gazed instead of bowing.

Eve had her finger ready to poke him, when he recovered himself and
bowed low.

Eve played the accompaniment with her hand, knuckles down.

They sat down. Cups of tea, etc., were brought round to each by John.
It was bad tea, made out of the room. Catch a human being making good
tea in which it is not to share.

Mr. Fountain was only half awake.

Eve was more or less awed by Lucy. David, tutored by Eve, held his
tongue altogether, or gave short answers.

“This must be what the novels call a sea-cub!” thought Miss Fountain.

The friends, Propriety and Restraint, presided over the innocent
banquet, and a dismal evening set in.

The first infraction of this polite tranquillity came, I blush to say,
from the descendant of John de Fonte. He exploded in a yawn of
magnitude; to cover this, the young lady began hastily to play her old
game of setting people astride their topic, and she selected David
Dodd for the experiment. She put on a warm curiosity about the sea,
and ships, and the countries men visit in them. Then occurred a droll
phenomenon: David flashed with animation, and began full and
intelligent answers; then, catching his sister’s eye, came to
unnatural full stops; and so warmly and skillfully was he pressed that
it cost him a gigantic effort to avoid giving much amusement and
instruction. The courtier saw this hesitation, and the vivid flashes
of intelligence, and would not lose her prey. She drew him with all a
woman’s tact, and with a warmth so well feigned that it set him on
real fire. His instinct of politeness would not let him go on all
night giving short answers to inquiring beauty. He turned his eye,
which glowed now like a live coal, toward that enticing voice, and
presently, like a ship that has been hanging over the water ever so
long on the last rollers, with one gallant glide he took the sea, and
towed them all like little cockle-boats in his wake. From sea to sea,
from port to port, from tribe to tribe, from peril to peril, from feat
to feat, David whirled his wonderstruck hearers, and held them panting
by the quadruple magic of a tuneful voice, a changing eye, an ardent
soul, and truth at first-hand.

They sat thrilled and surprised, most of all Miss Fountain. To her,
things great and real had up to that moment been mere vague outlines
seen through a mist. Moreover, her habitual courtesy had hitherto
drawn out pumps; but now, when least expected, all in a moment, as a
spark fires powder, it let off a man.

A sailor is a live book of travels. Check your own vanity (if you
possibly can) and set him talking, you shall find him full of curious
and profitable matter.

The Fountains did not know this, and, even if they had, Dodd would
have taken them by surprise; for, besides being a sailor and a
sea-enthusiast, he was a fellow of great capacity and mental vigor.

He had not skimmed so many books as we have, but I fear he had sucked
more. However, his main strength did not lie there. He was not a paper
man, and this--oh! men of paper and oh! C. R. in particular--gave him
a tremendous advantage over you that Sunday evening.

The man whose knowledge all comes from reading accumulates a great
number of what?--facts? No, of the shadows of facts; shadows often so
thin, indistinct and featureless, that, when one of the facts
themselves runs against him in real life, he does not know his old
friend, round about which he has written a smart leader in a journal
and a ponderous trifle in the Polysyllabic Review.

But this sailor had stowed into his mental hold not fact-shadows, but
the glowing facts all alive, O. For thirteen years, man and boy, he
had beat about the globe, with real eyes, real ears, and real brains
ever at work. He had drunk living knowledge like a fish, and at
fountainheads.

Yet, to utter intellectual wealth nobly, two things more are
indispensable the gift of language and a tunable voice, which last
does not always come by talking with tempests.

Well, David Dodd had sucked in a good deal of language from books and
tongues; not, indeed, the Norman-French and demi-Latin and jargon of
the schools, printed for English in impotent old trimestrials for the
further fogification of cliques, but he had laid by a fair store of
the best--of the monosyllables--the Saxon--the soul and vestal fire of
the great English tongue.

So he was never at a loss for words, simple, clear, strong, like
blasts of a horn.

His voice at this period was mellow and flexible. He was a mimic, too;
the brighter things he had seen, whether glories of nature or acts of
man, had turned to pictures in this man’s mind. He flashed these
pictures one after another upon the trio; he peopled the soft and
cushioned drawing-room with twenty different tribes and varieties of
man, barbarous, semi-barbarous, and civilized; their curious customs,
their songs and chants, and dances, and struts, and actual postures.

The aspect of famous shores from the sea, glittering coasts, dark
straits, volcanic rocks defying sea and sky, and warm, delicious
islands clothed with green, that burst on the mariner’s sight after
rugged places and scowling skies.

The adventures of one unlucky ship, the _Connemara,_ on a single
whaling cruise on the coast of Peru. The first slight signs of a gale,
seen only by the careful skipper. The hasty preparations for it: all
hands to shorten sail; then the moaning of the wind high up in the
sky. All hands to reef sail now--the whirl and whoo of the gale as it
came down on them. The ship careening as it caught her, the
speaking-trumpet--the captain howling his orders through it amid the
tumult.

The floating icebergs--the ship among them, picking her way in and out
a hundred deaths. Baffled by the unyielding wind off Cape Horn,
sailing six weeks on opposite tacks, and ending just where they began,
weather-bound in sight of the gloomy Horn. Then the terrors of a
land-locked bay, and a lee shore; the ship tacking, writhing,
twisting, to weather one jutting promontory; the sea and safety is on
the other side of it; land and destruction on this--the attempt, the
hope, the failure; then the stout-hearted, skillful captain would try
one rare maneuver to save the ship, cargo, and crew. He would
club-haul her, “and if that fails, my lads, there is nothing but up
mainsail, up helm, run her slap ashore, and lay her bones on the
softest bit of rock we can pick.”

Long ere this the poor ship had become a live thing to all these four,
and they hung breathless on her fate.

Then he showed how a ship is club-hauled, and told how nobly
the old _Connemara_ behaved (ships are apt to when well
handled--double-barreled guns ditto), and how the wind blew fiercer,
and the rocks seemed to open their mouths for her, and how she hung
and vibrated between safety and destruction, and at last how she
writhed and slipped between Death’s lips, yet escaped his teeth, and
tossed and tumbled in triumph on the great but fair fighting sea; and
how they got at last to the whaling ground, and could not find a whale
for many a weary day, and the novices said: “They were all killed
before we sailed;” and how, as uncommon ill luck is apt to be balanced
by uncommon good luck, one fine evening they fell in with a whole
shoal of whales at play, jumping clean into the air sixty feet long,
and coming down each with a splash like thunder; even the captain had
never seen such a game; and how the crew were for lowering the boats
and going at them, but the captain would not let them; a hundred
playful mountains of fish, the smallest weighing thirty ton, flopping
down happy-go-lucky, he did not like the looks of it.

“The boat will be at the mercy of chance among all those tails, and we
are not lucky enough to throw at random. No; since the beggars have
taken to dancing, for a change, let them dance all night; to-morrow
they shall pay the piper.” How, at peep of day, the man at the
mast-head saw ten whales about two leagues off on the weather-bow; how
the ship tacked and stood toward them; how she weathered on one of
monstrous size, and how he and the other youngsters were mad to lower
the boat and go after it, and how the captain said: “Ye lubbers, can’t
ye see that is a right whale, and not worth a button? Look here away
over the quarter at this whale. See how low she spouts. She is a sperm
whale, and worth seven hundred pounds if she was only dead and towed
alongside.”

“‘That she shall be in about a minute,’ cried one; and, indeed, we
were all in a flame; the boat was lowered, and didn’t I worship the
skipper when he told me off to be one of her crew!

“I was that eager to be in at that whale’s death, I didn’t recollect
there might be smaller brutes in danger.

“Just before the oars fell into the water, the skipper looked down
over the bulwarks, and says he to one of us that had charge of the
rope that is fast to the boat at one end and to the harpoon at the
other, ‘Now, Jack you are a new hand; mind all I told you last night,
or your mother will see me come ashore without you, and that will vex
her; and, my lads, remember, if there is a single lubberly hitch in
that line, you will none of you come up the ship’s side again.’

“‘All right, captain,’ says Jack, and we pulled off singing,

     “‘And spring to your oars, and, make your boat fly,
       And when you come near her beware of her eye,’

till the coxswain bade us hold our lubberly tongues, and not frighten
the whales; however, we soon found we wanted all our breath for our
work, and more too.” Then David painted the furious race after the
whale, and how the boat gradually gained, and how at last, as he was
grinding his teeth and pulling like mad, he heard a sound ahead like a
hundred elephants wallowing; and now he hoped to see the harpooner
leave his oar, and rise and fling his weapon; “but that instant, up
flukes, a tower of fish was seen a moment in the air, with a tail-fin
at the top of it just about the size of this room we are sitting in,
ladies, and down the whale sounded; then it was pull on again in her
wake, according as she headed in sounding; pull for the dear life; and
after a while the oarsmen saw the steerman’s eyes, prying over the
sea, turn like hot coals. The men caught fire at this, and put their
very backbones into each stroke, and the boat skimmed and flew.
Suddenly the steersman cried out fiercely, ‘Stand up, harpoon! Up rose
the harpooner, _his_ eye like a hot coal now. The men saw
nothing; they must pull fiercer than ever. The harpooner balanced his
iron, swayed his body lightly, and the harpoon hissed from him. A soft
thud--then a heaving of the water all round, a slap that sounded like
a church tower falling flat upon an acre of boards, and drenched, and
blinded, and half smothered us all in spray, and at the same moment
away whirled the boat, dancing and kicking in the whale’s foaming,
bubbling wake, and we holding on like grim death by the thwarts, not
to be spun out into the sea.”

“Delightful!” cried Miss Fountain; “the waves bounded beneath you like
a steed that knows its rider. Pray continue.”

“Yes, Miss Fountain. Now of course you can see that, if the line ran
out too easy, the whale would leave us astern altogether, and if it
jammed or ran too hard, she would tow us under water.”

“Of course we see,” said Eve, ironically; “we understand everything by
instinct. Hang explanations when I’m excited; go ahead, do!”

“Then I won’t explain how it is or why it is, but I’ll just let you
know that two or three hundred fathom of line are passed round the
boat from stem to stern and back, and carried in and out between the
oarsmen as they sit. Well, it was all new to me then; but when the
boat began jumping and rocking, and the line began whizzing in and
out, and screaming and smoking like--there now, fancy a machine, a
complicated one, made of poisonous serpents, the steam on, and you
sitting in the middle of the works, with not an inch to spare, on the
crankest, rockingest, jumpingest, bumpingest, rollingest cradle that
ever--”

“David!” said Eve, solemnly.

“Hallo!” sang out David.

“Don’t!”

“Oh, yes, do!” cried Lucy, slightly clasping her hands.

“If this little black ugly line was to catch you, it would spin you
out of the boat like a shuttlecock; if it held you, it would cut you
in two, or hang you to death, or drown you all at one time; and if it
got jammed against anything alive or dead that could stand the strain,
it would take the boat and crew down to the coral before you could
wink twice.”

“Oh, dear!” said Lucy; “then I don’t think I like it now; it is too
terrible. Pray go on, Mr.--Mr.--”

“Well, Miss Fountain, when a novice like me saw this black serpent
twisting and twirling, and smoking and hissing in and out among us, I
remembered the skipper’s words, and I hailed Jack--it was he had laid
the line--he was in the bow.

“‘Jack,’ said I.

“‘Hallo!” said he.

“‘For God’s sake, are there any hitches in the line?’ said I.

“‘Not as I _knows_ on,’ says he, much cooler than you sit there;
and that is a sailor all over. Well, she towed us about a mile, and
then she was blown, and we hauled up on the line, and came up with
her, and drove lances into her, till she spouted blood instead of salt
water, and went into her flurry, and rolled suddenly over our way
dead, and was within a foot of smashing us to atoms; but if she had it
would only have been an accident, for she was past malice, poor thing.
Then we took possession, planted our flagstaff in her spouting-hole,
you know, and pulled back to the ship, and she came down and anchored
to the whale, and then, for the first time, I saw the blubber stripped
off a whale and hoisted by tackles into the ship’s hold, which is as
curious as any part of the business, but a dirtyish job, and not fit
for the present company, and I dare say that is enough about whales.”

“No! no! no!”

“Well, then, shall I tell you how one old whale knocked our boat clean
into the air, bottom uppermost, and how we swam round her and managed
to right her?”

“And went back to the ship and had your tea in bed and your clothes
dried?”

“No, Eve,” replied David, with the utmost simplicity; “we got in and
to work again, and killed the whale in less than half an hour, and
planted our flag on her, and away after another.”

Then he told them how they harpooned one right whale, and by good luck
were able to make her fast to the stern of the ship. “And, if you
will believe me, Miss Fountain, though there was just a breath on and
off right aft, and the foresail, jib and mizzen all set to catch it,
she towed the ship astern a good cable’s length, and the last thing
was she broke the harpoon shaft just below the line, and away she swam
right in the wind’s eye.”

“And there was an end of her and your nasty, cruel, harpoon, and--oh,
I’m so pleased!”

“No, there wasn’t, Eve; we heard of both fish and harpoon again, but
not for a good many years.”

“Mr. Dodd!”

“Yes, Miss Fountain. It is curious, like many things that fall out at
sea, but not so wonderful as her towing a ship of four hundred tons,
with the foresail, mizzen, and jib all aback. Well, sir, did you ever
hear of Nantucket? It is a port in the United States; and our
harpooner happened to be there full four years after we lost this
whale. Some Yankee whalers were treating him to the best of grog, and
it was brag Briton, brag Yankee, according to custom whenever these
two met. Well, our man had no more invention than a stone; so he was
getting the worst of it till he bethought him of this whale; so he up
and told how he had struck a right whale in the Pacific, and she had
towed the ship with her sails aback, at least her foresail, mizzen,
and jib, only he didn’t tell it short like me, but as long as the Red
Sea, with the day and the hour, the latitude (within four or five
degrees, I take it), and what we had done a week before, and what we
had not done, all by way of prologue, and for fear of weathering the
horn--tic, tic--the point of the story too soon. When he had done
there was a general howl of laughter, and they began to cap lies with
him, and so they bantered him most cruelly, by all accounts; but at
last a long silent chap, weather-beaten to the color of rosewood, put
in his word.

“‘What was the ship’s name, mate?’

“‘The _Connemara_,’ says he.

“‘And what is your name?’ So he told him, ‘Jem Green.’

“The other brings a great mutton fist down on the table, and makes all
the glasses dance. ‘You stay at your moorings till I come back,’ says
he. ‘I have got something belonging to you, Jem Green,’ and he sheered
off. The others lay to and passed the grog. Presently the long
one comes back with a harpoon steel in his hand; there was
_Connemara_ stamped on it, and also ‘James Green’ graved with a
knife. ‘Is that yours?’ ‘Is my hand mine?’ says Jem; ‘but wasn’t there
a broken shaft to it!”

“‘There was,’ says the Yankee harpooner; ‘I cut it out.’

“‘Well!’ says Jem, ‘that is the harpoon we were fast by to this very
whale. Where did you kill her?’

“‘In the Greenland seas.’ And he whips out his private log. ‘Here you
are,’ says he; ‘March 25, 1820, latitude so and so, killed a right
whale; lost half the blubber, owing to the carcass sinking; cut an
English harpoon out of her.’

“‘Avast there, mate!’ cried Jem, and he whips, out _his_ log;
‘overhaul that.’ The other harpooner overhauled it. ‘Mates, look,
here,’ says he; ‘I reckon we hain’t fathomed the critters yet. The
Britisher struck her in the Pacific on the 5th of March, and we killed
her off Greenland on the 25th, five thousand miles of water by the
lowest reckoning.’ By this time there were a dozen heads jammed
together, like bees swarming, over the two logs. ‘She got a wound in
the Pacific! “Hallo!” says she; “this is no sea for a lady to live
in;” so she up helm, and right away across the pole into the Atlantic,
and met her death.’”

“Your story has an interest you little suspect, young gentleman. If
this is true, the northwest passage is proved.”

“That has been proved a hundred times, sir, and in a hundred ways; the
only riddle is to find it. The man that tells you there is not a
northwest passage is no sailor, and the fish that can’t find it is not
a whale; for there is not a young suckling no bigger than this room
that does not know that passage as well as a mid on his first voyage
knows the way to the mizzen-top through lubber’s hole. How tired you
must be of whales, ladies?”

“Oh no.”

“Kill us one more, David. I love bloodshed--to hear of.”

“Well, now, I don’t think that can be Miss Fountain’s taste, to look
at her.”

Then David told them how he had fallen in with a sperm whale, dead of
disease, floating as high as a frigate; how, with a very light breeze,
the skipper had crept down toward her; how, at half a mile distance
the stench of her was severe, but, as they neared her, awful; then so
intolerable that the skipper gave the crew leave to go below and close
the lee ports. So there were but two men left on the brig’s deck, and
a ship’s company that a hurricane would not have driven from their
duty skulked before a foul smell; but such a smell! a smell that
struck a chill and a loathing to the heart, and soul, and marrow-bone;
a smell like the gases in a foul mine; “it would have suffocated us in
a few moments if we had been shut up along with it.” Then he told how
the skipper and he stuffed their noses and ears with cotton steeped in
aromatic vinegar, and their mouths with pig-tail (by which, as it
subsequently appeared, Lucy understood pork or bacon in some form
unknown to her narrow experience), and lighted short pipes, and
breached the brig upon the putrescent monster, and grappled to it, and
then the skipper jumped on it, a basket slung to his back, and a rope
fast under his shoulders in case of accident, and drove his spade in
behind the whale’s side-fin.”

“His spade, Mr. Dodd?”

“His whale-spade; it is as sharp as a razor;” and how the skipper dug
a hole in the whale as big as a well and four feet deep, and, after a
long search, gave a shout of triumph, and picked out some stuff that
looked like Gloucester cheese; and, when he had nearly filled his
basket with this stuff, he slacked the grappling-iron, and David
hauled him on board, and the carcass dropped astern, and the captain
sang out for rum, and drank a small tumbler neat, and would have
fainted away, spite of his precautions, but for the rum, and how a
heavenly perfume was now on deck fighting with that horrid odor; and
how the crew smelled it, and crept timidly up one by one, and how “the
Glo’ster cheese was a great favorite of yours, ladies. It was the king
of perfumes--amber-gas; there is some of it in all your richest
scents; and the knowing skipper had made a hundred guineas in the turn
of the hand. So knowledge is wealth, you see, and the sweet can be got
out of the sour by such as study nature.”

“Don’t preach, David, especially after just telling a fib. A hundred
guineas!”

“I am wrong,”’ said David.

“Very wrong, indeed.”

“There were eight pounds; and he sold it at a guinea the ounce to a
wholesale chemist, so that looks to me like 128 pounds.”

Then David left the whales, and encouraged by bright eyes and winning
smiles, and warm questions, sang higher strains.

Ships in dire distress at sea, yet saved by God’s mercy, and the cool,
invincible courage of captain and crew--great ships run ashore--the
waves breaking them up--the rigging black with the despairing crew,
eying the watery death that tumbled and gaped and roared for them
below; and then little shore boats, manned by daring hearts, launched
into the surf, and going out to the great ship and her peril, risking
more life for the chance of saving life. And he did not present the
bare skeletons of daring acts; those grand morgues, the journals, do
that. There lie the dry bones of giant epics waiting Genius’s hand to
make them live. He gave them not only the broad outward facts--the
bones; but those smaller touches that are the body and soul of a
story, true or false, wanting which the deeds of heroes sound an
almanac; above all, he gave them glimpses, not only of what men acted,
but what they felt: what passed in the hearts of men perishing at sea,
in sight of land, houses, fires on the hearth, and outstretched hands,
and in the hearts of the heroes that ran their boats into the surf and
Death’s maw to save them, and of the lookers on, admiring, fearing,
shivering, glowing, and of the women that sobbed and prayed ashore
with their backs to the sea, just able to risk lover, husband, and son
for the honor of manhood and the love of Christ, but not able to look
on at their own flesh and blood diving so deep, and lost so long in
cockle-shells between the hills of waves.

Such great acts, great feelings, great perils, and the gushes that
crowned all of holy triumph when the boats came in with the dripping
and saved, and man for a moment looked greater than the sea and the
wind and death, this seaman poured hot from his own manly heart into
quick and womanly bosoms, that heaved visibly, and glowed with
admiring sympathy, and fluttered with gentle fear.

And after a while, though not at first, David’s yarns began to contain
a double interest to one of the party--Miss Fountain. Those who live
to please get to read character at sight, and David, though in these
more noble histories he scarcely named himself, was laying a
full-length picture of his own mind bare to these keen feminine eyes.
As for old Fountain, he was charmed, and saw nothing more than David
showed him outright. But the women sat flashing secret intelligence
backward and forward from eye to eye after the manner of their sex.

“Do you see?” said one lady’s eyes.

“Yes,” replied the other. “He was concerned in this feat, though he
does not say so.”

“Oh, you agree with me? Then we are right,” replied the first pair of
speakers.

“There again: look; this sailor, whom he describes as a fellow that
happened to be ashore at that foreign port with nothing better to do,
and who went out with the English smugglers to save the brig when the
natives durst not launch a boat?”

“Himself! not a doubt of it.”

And so the blue and hazel lightning went dancing to and fro; ay, even
when the tale took a sorrowful turn, and dimmed these bright orbs of
intelligence, the lightning struggled through the dew, and David was
read and discussed by gleams, and glances, and flashes, without a word
spoken. And he, all unconscious that he sat between a pair of
telegraphs, and heating more and more under his great recollections
and his hearers’ sympathy, inthralled them with his tuneful voice, his
glowing face, his lion eye, and his breathing, burning histories.
Heart to dare and do, yet heart to feel, and brain and tongue to tell
a deed well, are rare allies, yet here they met.

He mastered his hearers, and played on their breasts as David played
the harp, and perhaps Achilles; Bochsa never, nor any of his tribe. He
made the old man forget his genealogies, his small ambition, his gout,
his years, and be a boy again an hour or two in thought, and blood,
and early fire. He made the women’s bosoms pant and swell, and seem to
aspire to be the nests and cradles of heroes, and their eyes flash and
glisten, and their cheeks flush and grow pale by turns; and the four
little papered walls that confined them seemed to fall without noise,
and they were away in thought out of a carpeted temple of wax, small
talk, nonentity, and nonentities, away to sea-breezes that they almost
felt in their hair and round their temples as their hearts rose and
fell upon a broad swell of passion, perils, waves, male men,
realities. The spell was at its height, when the sea-wizard’s eye fell
on the mantel-piece. Died in a moment his noble ardor: “Why, it is
eight bells,” said he, servilely; then, doggedly, “time to turn in.”

“Hang that clock!” shouted Mr. Fountain; “I’ll have it turned out of
the room.”

Said Lucy, with gentle enthusiasm, “It must be beautiful to be a
sailor, and to have seen the real world, and, above all, to be brave
and strong like Mr. ----,. must it not, uncle?” and she looked askant
at David’s square shoulders and lion eye, and for the first time in
her life there crossed her an undefined instinct that this gentleman
must be the male of her species.

“As for his courage,” said Eve, “that we have only his own word for.”

David grinned.

“Not even that,” replied Lucy, “for I observed he spoke but little of
himself.”

“I did not notice that,” said Eve, pertly; “but as for his strength,
he certainly is as strong as a great bear, and as rude. What do you
think? my lord carried me all the way from the top of the green lane
to your house, and I am no feather.”

“No, a skein of silk,” put in David.

“I asked the gentleman politely to put me down, and he wouldn’t, so
then I boxed his ears.”

“Oh, how could you?”

“Oh, bless you, he never hits me again; he is too great a coward. And
the great mule carried me all the more--carried me to your very door.”

“I almost think--I believe I could guess why he carried you, if you
will not be offended at my assuming the interpreter,” said Lucy,
looking at Eve and speaking at David. “You have thin shoes on, Miss
Dodd; now I remember the gravel ends at green lane, and the grass
begins; so, from what we know of Mr. Dodd, perhaps he carried you that
you might not have damp feet.”

“Nothing of the kind--yes, it was, though, by his coloring up. La!
David, dear boy!”

“What is a man alongside for but to keep a girl out of mischief?” said
David, bruskly.

“Pray convert all your sex to that view,” laughed Lucy.

So now they were going. Then Mr. Fountain thanked David for the
pleasant evening he had given them; then David blushed and stammered.
He had a veneration for old age--another of his superstitions.

Her uncle’s lead gave Lucy an opportunity she instantly seized. “Mr.
Dodd, you have taken us into a new world of knowledge; we never were
so interested in our lives.” At this pointblank praise David blushed,
and was anything but comfortable, and began to back out of it all with
a curt bow. Then, as the ladies can advance when a man of merit
retreats, Lucy went the length of putting out her hand with a sweet,
grateful smile; so he took it, and, in the ardor of encouraging so
much spirit and modesty, she unconsciously pressed it. On this
delicious pressure, light as it was, he raised his full brown eye, and
gave her such a straightforward look of manly admiration and pleasure
that she blushed faintly and drew back a little in her turn.


“Well, Davy, dear, how do you like the Fountains?”

“Eve, she is a clipper!”

“And the old gentleman?”

“He was very friendly. What do _you_ think of her?”

“She is an out-and-out woman of the world, and very agreeable, as
insincere people generally are. I like her because she was so polite
to you.”

“Oh, that is your reading of her, is it?”

The rest of the walk passed almost in silence.


“Uncle, I am not sleepy to-night.”

“Who is? that young rascal has set me on fire with his yarns. Who
would have thought that awkward cub had so much in him?”

“Awkward, but not a cub; say rather a black swan; and you know, uncle,
a swan is an awkward thing on land, but when it takes the water it is
glorious, and that man was glorious; but--Da--vid Do--dd.”

“I don’t know whether he was glorious, but I know he amused me, and
I’ll have him to tea three times a week while he lasts.”

“Uncle, do you believe such an unfortunate combination of sounds is
his real name?” asked Lucy, gravely.

“Why, who would be mad enough to feign such a name?”

“That is true; but now tell me--if he should ever, think of marrying
with such a name?”

“Then there will be two David Dodd’s in the world, Mr. and Mrs.”

“I don’t think so; he will be merciful, and take her name instead of
she his; he is so good-natured.”

“Ordinary sponsors would have been content with Samuel or Nathan; but
no, this one’s must, call in ‘apt alliteration’s artful aid,’ and have
the two ‘d’s.’”

Lucy assented with a smile, and so, being no longer under the spell of
the enthusiast and the male, the genealogist and the fine lady took
the rise out of what Miss Fountain was pleased to call his impossible
title,

Da--vid Dodd.



CHAPTER III.

LUCY was not called on to write any more formal invitations to Mr.
Talboys. Her uncle used merely to say to her: “Talboys dines with us
to-day.” She made no remark; she respected her uncle’s preference;
besides--the pony! Of these trios Mr. Fountain was the true soul. He
had to blow the coals of conversation right and left. It is very good
of me not to compare him to the Tropic between two frigid zones. At
first he took his nap as usual; for he said to himself: “Now I have
started them they can go on.” Besides, he had seen pictures in the
shop windows of an old fellow dozing and then the young ones
“popping.”

Dozing off with this idea uppermost, he used to wake with his eyes
shut and his ears wide open; but it was to hear drowsy monosyllables
dropping out at intervals like minute-guns, or to find Lucy gone and
Talboys reading the coals. Then the schemer sighed, and took to strong
coffee soon after dinner, and gave up his nap, and its loss impaired
his temper the rest of the evening.

He indemnified himself for these sleepless dinners by asking David
Dodd and his sister to tea thrice a week on the off-nights; this
joyous pair amused the old gentleman, and he was not the man to deny
himself a pleasure without a powerful motive.

“What, again so soon?” hazarded Lucy, one day that he bade her invite
them. “I hardly know how to word my invitation; I have exhausted the
forms.”

“If you say another word, I’ll make them come every night. Am I to
have no amusement?” he added, in a deep tone of reproach; “they make
me laugh.”

“Ah! I forgot; forgive me.”

“Little hypocrite; don’t they you too, pray? Why, you are as dull as
ditchwater the other evenings.”

“Me, dear, dull with you?”

“Yes, Miss Crocodile, dull with a pattern uncle and his friend--and
your admirer.” He watched her to see how she would take this last
word. Catch her taking it at all. “I am never dull with you, dear
uncle,” said she; “but a third person, however estimable, is a certain
restraint, and when that person is not very lively--” Here the
explanation came quietly to an untimely end, like those old tunes that
finish in the middle or thereabouts.

“But that is the very thing; what do I ask them for to-night but to
thaw Talboys?”

“To thaw Talboys? he! he!”

Lucy seemed so tickled by this expression that the old gentleman was
sorry he had used it.

“I mean, they will make him laugh.” Then, to turn it off, he said
hastily, “And don’t forget the fiddle, Lucy.”

“Oh, yes, dear, please let me forget that, and then perhaps they may
forget to bring it.”

“Why, you pressed him to bring it; I heard you.”

“Did I?” said Lucy, ruefully.

“I am sure I thought you were mad after a fiddle, you seconded Eve so
warmly; so that was only your extravagant politeness after all. I am
glad you are caught. I like a fiddle, so there is no harm done.”

Yes, reader, you have hit it. Eve, who openly quizzed her brother, but
secretly adored him, and loved to display all his accomplishments, had
egged on Mr. Fountain to ask David to bring his violin next time. Lucy
had shivered internally. “Now, of all the screeching, whining things
that I dislike, a violin!”--and thus thinking, gushed out, “Oh, pray
do, Mr. Dodd,” with a gentle warmth that settled the matter and
imposed on all around.

This evening, then, the Dodds came to tea.

They found Lucy alone in the drawing-room, and Eve engaged her
directly in sprightly conversation, into which they soon drew David,
and, interchanging a secret signal, plied him with a few artful
questions, and--launched him. But the one sketch I gave of his manner
and matter must serve again and again. Were I to retail to the reader
all the droll, the spirited, the exciting things he told his hearers,
there would be no room for my own little story; and we are all so
egotistical! Suffice it to say, the living book of travels was
inexhaustible; his observation and memory were really marvelous, and
his enthusiasm, coupled with his accuracy of detail, had still the
power to inthrall his hearers.

“Mr. Dodd,” said Lucy, “now I see why Eastern kings have a
story-teller always about them--a live story-teller. Would not you
have one, Miss Dodd, if you were Queen of Persia?”

“Me? I’d have a couple--one to make me laugh; one miserable.”

“One would be enough if his resources were equal to your brother’s.
Pray go on, Mr. Dodd. It was madness to interrupt you with small
talk.”

David hung his head for a moment, then lifted it with a smile, and
sailed in the spirit into the China seas, and there told them how the
Chinamen used to slip on board his ship and steal with supernatural
dexterity, and the sailors catch them by the tails, which they
observing, came ever with their tails soaped like pigs at a village
feast; and how some foolhardy sailors would venture into the town at
the risk of their lives; and how one day they had to run for it, and
when they got to the shore their boat was stolen, and they had to
‘bout ship and fight it out, and one fellow who knew the natives
had loaded the sailors’ guns with currant jelly. Make
ready--present--fire! In a moment the troops of the Celestial Empire
smarted, and were spattered with seeming gore, and fled yelling.

Then he told how a poor comrade of his was nabbed and clapped in
prison, and his hands and feet were to be cut off at sunrise; himself
at noon. It was midnight, and strict orders from the quarterdeck had
been issued that no man should leave the ship: what was to be done? It
was a moonlight night. They met, silent as death, between
decks--daren’t speak above a whisper, for fear the officers should
hear them. His messmate was crying like a child. One proposed one
thing, one another; but it was all nonsense, and we knew it was, and
at sunrise poor Tom must die.

At last up jumps one fellow, and cries, “Messmates, I’ve got it; Tom
isn’t dead yet.”

This was the moment Mr. Fountain and Mr. Talboys chose for coming into
the drawing-room, of course. Mr. Fountain, with a shade of hesitation
and awkwardness, introduced the Dodds to Mr. Talboys: he bowed a
little stiffly, and there was a pause. Eve could not repress a little
movement of nervous impatience. “David is telling us one of his
nonsensical stories, sir,” said she to Mr. Fountain, “and it is so
interesting; go on, David.”

“Well, but,” said David, modestly, “it isn’t everybody that likes
these sea-yarns as you do, Eve. No, I’ll belay, and let my betters get
a word in now.”

“You are more merciful than most story-tellers, sir,” said Talboys.

Eve tossed her head and looked at Lucy, who with a word could have the
story go on again. That young lady’s face expressed general
complacency, politeness, and _tout m’est egal._ Eve could have
beat her for not taking David’s part. “Doubleface!” thought she. She
then devoted herself with the sly determination of her sex to trotting
David out and making him the principal figure in spite of the
new-corner.

But, as fast as she heated him, Talboys cooled him. We are all great
at something or other, small or great. Talboys was a first-rate
freezer. He was one of those men who cannot shine, but can eclipse.
They darken all but a vain man by casting a dark shadow of trite
sentences on each luminary. The vain man insults them directly, and so
gets rid of them.

Talboys kept coming across honest enthusiastic David with little
remarks, each skillfully discordant with the rising sentiment. Was he
droll, Talboys did a bit of polite gravity on him; was he warm in
praise of some gallant action, chill irony trickled on him from T.

His flashes of romance were extinguished by neat little dicta,
embodying sordid and false, but current views of life. The gauze wings
of eloquence, unsteeled by vanity, will not bear this repeated dabbing
with prose glue, so David collapsed and Talboys conquered--“spell”
 benumbed “charm.” The sea-wizard yielded to the petrifier, and “could
no more,” as the poets say. Talboys smiled superior. But, as his art
was a purely destructive one, it ended with its victim; not having an
idea of his own in his skull, the commentator, in silencing his text,
silenced himself and brought the society to a standstill. Eve sat with
flashing eyes; Lucy’s twinkled with sly fun: this made Eve angrier.
She tried another tack.

“You asked David to bring his fiddle,” said she, sharply, “but I
suppose now--”

“Has he brought it?” asked Mr. Fountain, eagerly.

“Yes, he has; I made him” (with a glance of defiance at Talboys).

Mr. Fountain rang the bell directly and sent for the fiddle. It came.
David took it and tuned it, and made it discourse. Lucy leaned a
little back in her chair, wore her “_tout m’est egal_ face,” and
Eve watched her like a cat. First her eyes opened with a mild
astonishment, then her lips parted in a smile; after a while a faint
color came and went, and her eyes deepened and deepened in color, and
glistened with the dewy light of sensibility.

A fiddle wrought this, or rather genius, in whose hand a jews-harp is
the lyre of Orpheus, a fiddle the harp of David, a chisel a hewer of
heroic forms, a brush or a pen the scepter of souls, and, alas! a nail
a picklock.

Inside every fiddle is a soul, but a coy one. The nine hundred and
ninety-nine never win it. They play rapid tunes, but the soul of
beautiful gayety is not there; slow tunes, very slow ones, wherein the
spirit of whining is mighty, but the sweet soul of pathos is absent;
doleful, not nice and tearful. Then comes the Heaven-born fiddler,*
who can make himself cry with his own fiddle. David had a touch of
this witchcraft. Though a sound musician and reasonably master of his
instrument, he could not fly in a second up and down it, tickling the
fingerboard and scratching the strings without an atom of tone, as the
mechanical monkeys do that boobies call fine players.

     * This is a definition of the Heaven-born fiddler by Pate
     Bailey, a gypsy tinker and celestial violinist. Being asked
     for a test of proficiency on that instrument, he replied
     that no man is a fiddler “till he can gar himsel greet wi a
     feddle.”

     “Great Orpheus played so well he moved Old Nick,
      But these move nothing but their fiddlestick.” *

     * See how unjust satire is! Don’t they move their finger-
     nails?

But he could make you laugh and crow with his fiddle, and could make
you jump up, aetat. 60, and snap your fingers at old age and
propriety, and propose a jig to two bishops and one master of the
rolls, and, they declining, pity them without a shade of anger, and
substitute three chairs; then sit unabashed and smiling at the past;
and the next minute he could make you cry, or near it. In a word he
could evoke the soul of that wonderful wooden shell, and bid it
discourse with the souls and hearts of his hearers.

Meantime Lucy Fountain’s face would have interested a subtle student
of her sex.

Her sensibility to music was great, and the feeling strains stole into
her nature, and stirred the treasures of the deep to the surface. Eve,
a keen if not a profound observer, was struck by the rising beauty of
this countenance, over which so many moods chased one another. She
said to herself: “Well, David is right, after all; she is a lovely
girl. Her features are nothing out of the way. Her nose is neither one
thing nor the other, but her expression is beautiful. None of your
wooden faces for me. And, dear heart, how her neck rises! La! how her
color comes and goes! Well, I do love the fiddle myself dearly; and
now, if her eyes are not brimming; I could kiss her! La! David,” cried
she, bursting the bounds of silence, “that is enough of the tune the
old cow died of; take and play something to keep our hearts up--do.”

Eve’s good-humor and mirth were restored by David’s success, and now
nothing would serve her turn but a duet, pianoforte and violin. Miss
Fountain objected, “Why spoil the violin?” David objected too, “I had
hoped to hear the piano-forte, and how can I with a fiddle sounding
under my chin?” Eve overruled both peremptorily.

“Well, Miss Dodd, what shall we select? But it does not matter; I feel
sure Mr. Dodd can play _a livre ouvert.”_

“Not he,” said Eve, hypocritically, being secretly convinced he could.
“Can you play ‘a leevre ouvert,’ David?”

“Who is it by, Miss Fountain?” Lucy never moved a muscle.

After a rummage a duet was found that looked promising, and the
performance began. In the middle David stopped.

“Ha! ha! David’s broke down,” shrieked Eve, concealing her uneasiness
under fictitious gayety. “I thought he would.”

“I beg your pardon,” explained David to Miss Fountain, “but you are
out of time.”

“Am I?” said Lucy, composedly.

“And have been, more or less, all through.”

“David, you forget yourself.”

“No, no; set me right, by all means, Mr. Dodd. I am not a hardened
offender.”

“Is it not just possible the violin may be the instrument that is out
of time?” suggested Talboys, insidiously.

“No,” said David, simply, “I was right enough.”

“Let us try again, Mr. Dodd. Play me a few bars first in exact time.
Thank you. Now.”

“All went merry as a marriage bell” for a page and a half; then David,
fiddling away, cried out, “You are getting too fast; ‘ri tum tiddy,
iddy ri tum ti;” then, by stamping and accenting very strongly, he
kept the piano from overflowing its bounds. The piece ended. Eve
rubbed her hands. “Now you’ll catch it, Mr. David!”

“I am afraid I gave you a great deal of trouble, Mr. Dodd.”

_“En revanche,_ you gave us a great deal of pleasure,” put in Mr.
Talboys.

Lucy turned her head and smiled graciously. “But piano-forte players
play so much by themselves, they really forget the awful importance of
time.”

“I profit by your confession that they do sometimes play by
themselves,” said Mr. Talboys. “Be merciful, and let us hear you by
yourself.”’ Eve turned as red as fire.

David backed the request sincerely.

Lucy played a piece composed expressly for the piano by a pianist of
the day. David sat on her left hand and watched intently how she did
it.

When it was over, Talboys did a bit of rapture; Eve another.

“That is playing.”

“I would not have believed it if I had not seen it done,” said David.
“Eve, you should have seen her beautiful fingers thread in and out
among the keys; it was like white fire dancing; and as for her hand,
it is not troubled with joints like ours, I should say.”

“The music, Mr. Dodd,” said Lucy, severely.

“Oh, the music! Well, I could hardly take on me to say. You see I
heard it by the eye, and that was all in its favor; but I should say
the music wasn’t worth a button.”

“David!”

“How you run off with one’s words, Eve! I mean, played by anybody but
her. Why, what was it, when you come to think? Up and down the gamut,
and then down and up. No more sense in it than _a b c_--a
scramble to the main-masthead for nothing, and back to no good. I’d as
lief see you play on the table, Miss Fountain.”

“Poor Moscheles!” said Lucy, dryly.

“Revenge is in your power,” said Talboys; “play no more; punish us all
for this one heretic.”

Lucy reflected a moment; she then took from the canterbury a thick old
book. “This was my mother’s. Her taste was pure in music, as in
everything. I shall be sorry if you do not _all_ like this,”
 added she, softly.

It was an old mass; full, magnificent chords in long succession,
strung together on a clear but delicate melody. She played it to
perfection: her lovely hands seemed to grasp the chords. No fumbling
in the base; no gelatinizing in the treble. Her touch, firm and
masterly, yet feminine, evoked the soul of her instrument, as David
had of his, and she thought of her mother as she played. These were
those golden strains from which all mortal dross seems purged. Hearing
them so played, you could not realize that he who writ them had ever
eaten, drunk, smoked, snuffed, and hated the composer next door. She
who played them felt their majesty and purity. She lifted her beaming
eye to heaven as she played, and the color receded from her cheek; and
when her enchantment ended she was silent, and all were silent, and
their ears ached for the departed charm.

Then she looked round a mute inquiry.

Talboys applauded loudly.

But the tear stood in David’s eye, and he said nothing.

“Well, David,” said Eve, reproachfully, “I’m sure if that does not
please you--”

“Please me,” cried David, a little fretfully; “more shame for me if it
does not. Please is not the word. It is angel music, I call it--ah!”

“Well, you need not break your heart for that: he is going to cry--ha!
ha!”

“I’m no such thing,” cried David, indignantly, and blew his
nose--promptly, with a vague air of explanation and defiance.

But why the male of my species blows its nose to hide its sensibility
a deeper than I must decide.

Mr. Talboys for some time had not been at his ease. He had been
playing too, and an instrument he hated--second fiddle. He rose and
joined Mr. Fountain, who was sitting half awake on a distant sofa.

“Aha!” thought Eve, exulting, “we have driven him away.”

Judge her mortification when Lucy, after shutting the piano, joined
her uncle and Mr. Talboys. Eve whispered David: “Gone to smooth him
down: the high and mighty gentleman wasn’t made enough of.”

“Every one in their turn,” said David, calmly; “that is manners. Look!
it is the old gentleman she is being kind to. She could not be unkind
to anyone, however.”

Eve put her lips to David’s ear: “She will be unkind to you if you are
ever mad enough to let her see what I see,” said she, in a cutting
whisper.

“What do you see? More than there is to see, I’ll wager,” said David,
looking down.

“Ah! that is the way with young men, the moment they take a fancy;
their sister is nothing to them, their best friend loses their
confidence.”

“Don’t ye say that, Eve--now don’t say that!”

“No, no, David, never mind me. I am cross. And if you saw a sore heart
in store for anyone you had a regard for, wouldn’t you be cross? Young
men are so stupid, they can’t read a girl no more than Hebrew. If she
is civil and affable to them, oh, they are the man directly, when,
instead of that, if it was so, she would more likely be shy and half
afraid to come near them. David, you are in a fool’s paradise. In
company, and even in flirtation, all sorts meet and part again; but it
isn’t so with marriage. There ‘it is beasts of a kind that in one are
joined, and birds of a feather that came together.’ Like to like,
David. She is a fine lady and she will marry a fine gentleman, and
nothing else, with a large income. If she knew what has been in your
head this month past, she would open her eyes and ask if the man was
mad.”

“She has a right to look down on me, I know,” murmured David, humbly;
“but” (his eye glowing with sudden rapture) “she doesn’t--she
doesn’t.”

“Look down on you! You are better company than she is, or anyone she
can get in this-out-of-the-way place; it is her interest to be civil
to you. I am too hard upon her. She is a lady--a perfect lady--and
that is why she is above giving herself airs. No, David, she is not
the one to treat us with disrespect, if we don’t forget ourselves. But
if ever you let her see that you are in love with her, you will get an
affront that will make your cheek burn and my heart smart--so I tell
you.”

“Hush! I never told you I was in love with her.”

“Never told me? Never told me? Who asked you to tell me? I have eyes,
if you have none.”

“Eve,” said David imploringly, “I don’t hear of any lover that she
has. Do you?”

“No,” said Eve carelessly. “But who knows? She passes half the year a
hundred miles from this, and there are young men everywhere. If she
was a milkmaid, they’d turn to look at her with such a face and figure
as that, much more a young lady with every grace and every charm. She
has more than one after her that we never see, take my word.”

Eve had no sooner said this than she regretted it, for David’s face
quivered, and he sighed like one trying to recover his breath after a
terrible blow.

What made this and the succeeding conversation the more trying and
peculiar was, that the presence of other persons in the room, though
at a considerable distance, compelled both brother and sister, though
anything but calm, to speak _sotto voce._ But in the history of
mankind more strange and incongruous matter has been dealt with in an
undertone, and with artificial and forced calmness.

“My poor David!” said Eve sorrowfully; “you who used to be so proud,
so high-spirited, be a man! Don’t throw away such a treasure as your
affection. For my sake, dear David, your sister’s sake, who does love
you so very, very dearly!”

“And I love you, Eve. Thank you. It was hard lines. Ah! But it is
wholesome, no doubt, like most bitters. Yes. Thank you, Eve. I do
admire her v-very much,” and his voice faltered a little. “But I am a
man for all that, and I’ll stand to my own words. I’ll never be any
woman’s slave.”

“That is right, David.”

“I will not give hot for cold, nor my heart for a smile
or two. I can’t help admiring her, and I do hope she will
be--happy--ah!--whoever she fancies. But, if I am never to command
her, I won’t carry a willow at my mast-head, and drift away from
reason and manhood, and my duty to you, and mother, and myself.”

“Ah! David, if you could see how noble you look now. Is it a promise,
David? for I know you will keep your word if once you pass it.”

“There is my hand on it, Eve.”

The brother and sister grasped hands, and when David was about to
withdraw his, Eve’s soft but vigorous little hand closed tighter and
kept it firmer, and so they sat in silence.

“Eve.”

“My dear!”

“Now don’t you be cross.”

“No, dear. Eve is sad, not cross; what is it?

“Well, Eve--dear Eve.”

“Don’t be afraid to speak your mind to me--why should you?”

“Well, then, Eve, now, if she had not some little kindness for me,
would she be so pleased with these thundering yarns I keep spinning
her, as old as Adam, and as stale as bilge-water? You that are so
keen, how comes it you don’t notice her eyes at these times? I feel
them shine on me like a couple of suns. They would make a statue pay
the yarn out. Who ever fancied my chat as she does?”

“David,” said Eve, quietly, “I have thought of all this; but I am
convinced now there is nothing in it. You see, David, mother and I are
used to your yarns, and so we take them as a matter of course; but the
real fact is, they are very interesting and very enticing, and you
tell them like a book. You came all fresh to this lady, and, as she is
very quick, she had the wit to see the merit of your descriptions
directly. I can see it myself _now._ All young women like to be
amused, David, and, above all, _excited;_ and your stories are
very exciting; that is the charm; that is what makes her eyes fire;
but if that puppy there, or that book-shelf yonder, could tell her
your stories, she would look at either the puppy or the book-stand
with just the same eyes she looks on you with, my poor David.”

“Don’t say so, Eve. Let me think there is some little feeling for me
inside those sweet eyes, that look so kind on me--”

“And on me, and on everybody. It is her manner. I tell you she is so
to all the world. She isn’t the first I’ve met. Trust me to read a
woman, David; what can you know?”

“I know nothing; but they tell me you can fathom one another better
than any man ever could,” said David, sorrowfully.

“‘David, just now you were telling as interesting a story as ever was.
You had just got to the thrilling part.”

“Oh, had I? What was I saying?”

“I can’t tell you to the very word; I am not your sweetheart any more
than she is; but one of the sailors was in danger of his life, and so
on. You never told me the story before; I was not worth it. Well, just
then does not that affected puppy choose his time to come meandering
in?”

“Puppy! I call him a fine gentleman.”

“Well, there isn’t so much odds. In he comes; your story is broken off
directly. Does she care? No, she has got one of her own set; he is not
a very bright one; he is next door to a fool. No matter; before he
came, to judge by her crocodile eyes, she was hot after your story;
the moment he did come, she didn’t care a pin for you _nor_ your
story. I gave her more than one opening to bring it on again; not she.
I tell you, you are nothing but a _pass_ time;* you suit her turn
so long as none of her own set are to be had. If she would leave you
for such a jackanapes as that, what would she do for a real gentleman?
such a man as she is a woman, for instance, and as if there weren’t
plenty such in her own set--oh, you goose!”

     * I write this word as the lady thought proper to pronounce
     it.

David interrupted her. “I have been a vain fool, and it is lucky no
one has seen it but you,” and he hid his face in his hands a moment;
then, suddenly remembering where he was, and that this was an attitude
to attract attention, he tried to laugh--a piteous effort; then he
ground his teeth and said: “Let us go home. All I want now is to get
out of the house. It would have been better for me if I had never set
foot in it.”

“Hush! be calm, David, for Heaven’s sake. I am only waiting to catch
her eye, and then we’ll bid them good-evening.”

“Very well, I’ll wait”; and David fixed his eyes sadly and doggedly on
the ground. “I won’t look at her if I can help it,” said he,
resolutely, but very sadly, and turned his head away.

“Now, David,” whispered Eve.

David rose mechanically and moved with his sister toward the other
group. Miss Fountain turned at their approach. Somewhat to David’s
surprise, Eve retreated as quickly as she had advanced.

“We are to stay.”

“What for?”

“She made me a signal.”

“Not that I saw,” said David, incredulously.

“What! didn’t you see her give me a look?”

“Yes, I did. But what has that to do with it?”

“That look was as much as to say, Please stay a little longer; I have
something to say to you.”

“Good Heavens!”

“I think it is about a bonnet, David. I asked her to put me in the way
of getting one made like hers. She does wear heavenly bonnets.”

“Ay. I did well to listen to you, Eve; you see I can’t even read her
face, much less her heart. I saw her look up, but that was all. How is
a poor fellow to make out such craft as these, that can signal one
another a whole page with a flash of the eye? Ah!”

“There, David, he is going. Was I right?”

Mr. Talboys was, in fact, taking leave of Miss Fountain. The old
gentleman convoyed his friend. As the door closed on them Miss
Fountain’s face seemed to catch fire. Her sweet complacency gave way
to a half-joyous, half-irritated small energy. She came gliding
swiftly, though not hurriedly, up to Eve. “Thank you for seeing.” Then
she settled softly and gradually on an ottoman, saying, “Now, Mr.
Dodd.”

David looked puzzled. “What is it?” and he turned to his interpreter,
Eve.

But it was Lucy who replied: “‘His messmate was crying like a child.
At sunrise poor Tom must die. Then up rose one fellow’ (we have not
any idea who one fellow means in these narratives--have we, Miss
Dodd?) ‘and cried, “I have it, messmates. Tom isn’t dead yet.”’ Now,
Mr. Dodd, between that sentence and the one that is to follow all that
has happened in this room was a hideous dream. On that understanding
we have put up with it. It is now happily dispersed, and we--go ahead
again.”

“I see, Eve, she thinks she would like some more of that China yarn.”

“Her sentiments are not so tame. She longs for it, thirsts for it, and
must and will have it--if you will be so very obliging, Mr. Dodd.” The
contrast between all this singular vivacity of Miss Fountain and the
sudden return to her native character and manner in the last sentence
struck the sister as very droll--seemed to the brother so winning,
that, scarcely master of himself, he burst out: “You shan’t ask me
twice for that, or anything I can give you;” and it was with burning
cheeks and happy eyes he resumed his tale of bold adventure and skill
on one side, of numbers, danger and difficulty on the other. He told
it now like one inspired, and both the young ladies hung panting and
glowing on his words.

David and Eve went home together.

David was in a triumphant state, but waited for Eve to congratulate
him. Eve was silent.

At last David could refrain no longer. “Why, you say nothing.”

“No. Common sense is too good to be wasted; don’t go so fast.”

“No. There--I heave to for convoy to close up. Would it be wasted on
me? ha! ha!”

“To-night. There you go pelting on again.”

“Eve, I can’t help it. I feel all canvas, with a cargo of angels’
feathers and sunshine for ballast.”

“Moonshine.”

“Sun, moon, and stars, and all that is bright by night or day. I’ll
tell you what to do; you keep your head free, and come on under easy
sail; I’ll stand across your bows with every rag set and drawing, so
then I shall be always within hail.”

This sober-minded maneuver was actually carried out. The little
corvette sailed steadily down the middle of the lane; the great
merchantman went pitching and rolling across her bows; thus they kept
together, though their rates of sailing were so different.

Merry Eve never laughed once, but she smiled, and then sighed.

David did not heed her. All of a moment his heart vented itself in a
sea-ditty so loud, and clear, and mellow, that windows opened, and out
came nightcapped heads to hear him carol the lusty stave, making night
jolly.

Meantime, the weather being balmy, Mr. Fountain had walked slowly with
Mr. Talboys in another direction. Mr. Talboys inquired, “Who were
these people?”

“Oh, only two humble neighbors,” was the reply.

“I never met them anywhere. They are received in the neighborhood?”

“Not in society, of course.”

“I don’t understand you. Have not I just met them here?”

“That is not the way to put it,” said the old gentleman, a little
confused. “You did not meet them; you did me and my niece the honor to
dine with us, and the Dodds dropped in to tea--quite another matter.”

“Oh, is it?”

“Is it not? I see you have been so long out of England you have
forgotten these little distinctions; society would go to the deuce
without them. We ask our friends, and persons of our own class, to
dinner, but we ask who we like to tea in this county. Don’t you like
her? She is the prettiest girl in the village.”

“Pretty and pert.”

“Ha! ha! that is true. She is saucy enough, and amusing in
proportion.”

“It is the man I alluded to.”

“What, David? ay, a very worthy lad. He is a downright modest,
well-informed young man.”

“I don’t doubt his general merits, but let me ask you a serious
question: his evident admiration of Miss Fountain?”

“His ad-mi-ration of Miss Fountain?”

“Is it agreeable to you?”

“It is a matter of consummate indifference to me.”

“But not, I think, to her. She showed a submission to the cub’s
impertinence, and a desire to please instead of putting him down, that
made me suspect. Do you often ask Mr. Dodd--what a name!--to tea?”

“My dear friend, I see that, with all your accomplishments, you have
something to learn. You want insight into female character. Now I, who
must go to school to you on most points, can be of use to you here.”
 Then, seeing that Talboys was mortified at being told thus gently
there was a department of learning he had not fathomed, he added: “At
all events, I can interpret my own niece to you. I have known her much
longer than you have.”

Mr. Talboys requested the interpreter to explain the pleasure his
niece took in Mr. Dodd’s fiddle.

“Part politeness, part sham. Why, she wanted not to ask them this
evening, the fiddle especially. I’ll give you the clue to Lucy; she is
a female Chesterfield, and the droll thing is she is polite at heart
as well. Takes it from her mother: she was something between an angel
and a duchess.”

“Politeness does not account for the sort of partiality she showed for
these Dodds while I was in the room.”

“Pure imagination, my dear friend. I was there; and had so monstrous a
phenomenon occurred I must have seen it. If you think she could really
prefer their society to yours, you are as unjust to her as yourself.
She may have concealed her real preference out of _finesse,_ or
perhaps she has observed that our inferiors are touchy, and ready to
fancy we slight them for those of our own rank.”

Talboys shrugged his shoulders; he was but half convinced. “Her
enthusiasm when the cub scraped the fiddle went beyond mere
politeness.”

“Beyond other people’s, you mean. Nothing on earth ever went beyond
hers--ha! ha! ha! To-morrow night, if you like, we will have my
gardener, Jack Absolom, in to tea.”

“No, I thank you. I have no wish to go beyond Mr. and Miss Dodd.”

“Oh, only for an experiment. The first minute Jack will be wretched,
and want to sink through the floor; but in five minutes you will fancy
Lucy will have made Jack Absolom at home in my drawing-room. He will
be laying down the law about Jonquilles, and she all sweetness,
curiosity, and enthusiasm outside--_ennui_ in.”

“Can her eyes glisten out of politeness?” inquired Talboys, with a
subdued sneer.

“Why not?”

“They could shed tears, perhaps, for the same motive?” said Talboys,
with crushing irony.

“Well! Hum! I’d back them at four to seven.”

Mr. Talboys was silent, and his manner showed that he was a little
mortified at a subject turning to joke which he had commenced
seriously. He must stop this annoyance. He said severely, “It is time
to come to an understanding with you.”

At these words, and, above all, at their solemn tone, the senior
pricked his ears and prepared his social diplomacy.

“I have visited very frequently at your house, Mr. Fountain.”

“Never without being welcome, my dear sir.”

“You have, I think, divined one reason of my very frequent visits
here.”

“I have not been vain enough to attribute them entirely to my own
attractions.”

“You approve the homage I render to that other attraction?”

“Unfeignedly.”

“Am I so fortunate as to have her suffrage, too?”

“I have no better means of knowing than you have.”

“Indeed! I was in hopes you might have sounded her inclinations.”

“I have scrupulously avoided it,” replied the veteran. “I had no right
to compromise you upon mere conjecture, however reasonable. I awaited
your authority to take any move in so delicate a matter. Can you blame
me? On one side my friend’s dignity, on the other a young lady’s peace
of mind, and that young lady my brother’s daughter.”

“You were right, my dear sir; I see and appreciate your reserve, your
delicacy, though I am about to remove its cause. I declare myself to
you your niece’s admirer; have I your permission to address her?”

“You have, and my warmest wishes for your success.”

“Thank you. I think I may hope to succeed, provided I have a fair
chance afforded me.”

“I will take care you shall have that.”

“I should prefer not to have others buzzing about the lady whose
affection I am just beginning to gain.”

“You pay this poor sailor an amazing compliment,” said Mr. Fountain, a
little testily; “if he admires Lucy it can only be as a puppy is
struck with the moon above. The moon does not respond to all this
wonder by descending into the whelp’s jaws--no more will my niece. But
that is neither here nor there; you are now her declared suitor, and
you have a right to stipulate; in short, you have only to say the
word, and ‘exeunt Dodds,’ as the play-books say.”

“Dodds? I have no objection to the lady. Would it not be possible to
invite her to tea alone?”

“Quite possible, but useless. She would not stir out without her
brother.”

“She seems a little person likely to give herself airs. Well, then, in
that case, though as you say I am no doubt raising Mr. Dodd to a false
importance, still--”

“Say no more; we should indulge the whims of our friends, not attack
them with reasons. You will see the Dodds no more in my house.”

“Oh, as to that, just as you please. Perhaps they would be as well out
of it,” said Talboys, with a sudden affectation of carelessness. “I
must not take you too far. Good-night.”

“Go-o-d night!”

Poor David. He was to learn how little real hold upon society has the
man who can only instruct and delight it.

Mr. Fountain bustled home, rubbing his hands with delight. “Aha!”
 thought he; “jealous! actually jealous! absurdly jealous! That is a
good sign. Who would have thought so proud a man could be jealous of a
sailor? I have found out your vulnerable point, my friend. I’ll tell
Lucy; how she will laugh. David Dodd! Now we know how to manage him,
Lucy and I. If he freezes back again, we have but to send for David
Dodd and his fiddle.” He bustled home, and up into the drawing-room to
tell Lucy Mr. Talboys had at last declared himself. His heart felt
warm. He would settle six thousand pounds on Mrs. Talboys during his
life and his whole fortune after his death.

He found the drawing-room empty. He rang the bell. “Where is Miss
Fountain?” John didn’t know, but supposed she had gone to her room.

“You don’t know? You never know anything. Send her maid to me.”

The maid came and courtesied demurely at the door.

“Tell your mistress I want to speak to her directly--before she
undresses.”

The maid went out, and soon returned to say that her mistress had
retired to rest; but that, if he pleased, she would rise, and just
make a demi-toilet, and come to him. This smooth and fair-sounding
proposal was not, I grieve to say, so graciously received as offered.
“Much obliged,” snapped old Fountain. “Her _demi-toilette_ will
keep me another hour out of my bed, and I get no sleep after dinner
now _among you._ Tell her to-morrow at breakfast time will do.”



CHAPTER IV.

DAVID DODD was so radiant and happy for a day or two that Eve had not
the heart to throw cold water on him again.

Three days elapsed, and no invitation to Font Abbey; on this his
happiness cooled of itself. But when day after day rolled by, and no
Font Abbey, he was dashed, uneasy, and, above all, perplexed. What
could be the reason? Had he, with his rough ways, offended her? Had
she been too dignified to resent it at the time? Was he never to go to
Font Abbey again? Eve’s first feeling was unmixed satisfaction. We
have seen already that she expected no good from this rash attachment.
For a single moment her influence and reasons had seemed to wean David
from it; but his violent agitation and joy at two words of kindly
curiosity from Miss Fountain, and the instant unreasonable revival of
love and hope, showed the strange power she had acquired over him. It
made Eve tremble.

But now the Fountains were aiding her to cure this folly. She had read
them right, had described them to David aright. A wind of caprice had
carried him and her into Font Abbey; another such wind was carrying
them out. No event had happened. Mr. and Miss Fountain had been seen
more than once in the village of late. “They have dropped us, and
thank Heaven!” said Eve, in her idiomatic way.

She pitied David deeply, and was kinder and kinder to him now, to show
him she felt for him; but she never mentioned the Font Abbey people to
him either to praise or blame them, though it was all she could do to
suppress her satisfaction at the turn their insolent caprice had
taken.

That satisfaction was soon clouded. This time, instead of rousing
himself and his pride, David sank into a moody despondency; varied by
occasional fretfulness. His appetite went, and his bright color, and
his elastic step. This silent sadness was so new in him, such a
contrast to his natural temperature, large, genial, and ever cheerful,
that Eve could not bear it. “I must shake him out of this, at all
hazards,” thought she: yet she put off the experiment, and put it off,
partly in hopes that David would speak first, partly because she saw
the wound she would probe was deep, and she winced beforehand for her
patient.

Meantime, prolonged doubt and suspense now goaded with their
intolerable stings the active spirit that chill misgivings had at
first benumbed. Spurred into action by these torments, David had
already watched several days in the neighborhood of Font Abbey,
determined to speak to Miss Fountain, and find out whether he had
given her offense; for this was still his uppermost idea. Having
failed in this attempt at an interview with her, he was now meditating
a more resolute course, and he paced the little gravel-walk at home
debating in himself the pros and cons. Raising his head suddenly, he
saw his sister walking slowly at the other end of the path. She was
coming toward him, but her eyes were bent thoughtfully on the ground.
David slipped behind some bushes, not to have his unhappiness and his
meditations interrupted. The lover and the lunatic have points in
common.

He had been there some time when a grave little voice spoke quietly to
him from the lawn. “David, I want to speak to you.” David came out.

“Here am I.”

“Oh, I knew where you were. Don’t do that again, sir, please, or
you’ll catch it.”

“Oh, I didn’t think you saw me,” said David, somewhat confusedly.

“What has that to do with it, stupid? David,” continued she, assuming
a benevolent, cheerful, and somewhat magnificent nonchalance, “I
sometimes wonder you don’t come to me with your troubles. I might
advise you as well as here and there one. But perhaps you think now,
because I am naturally gay, I am not sensible. You mustn’t go by that
altogether. Manner is very deceiving. The most foolishly conducted men
and women ever I met were as grave as judges, and as demure as cats
after cream. Bless you, there is folly in every heart. Your slow ones
bottle it up for use against the day wisdom shall be most needed. My
sort let it fizz out at their mouths in their daily talk, and keep
their good sense for great occasions, like the present.”

“Have we drifted among the proverbs of Solomon?” inquired David,
dryly. “No need to make so many tacks, Eve. Haven’t I seen your sense
and profited by it--I and one or two more? Who but you has steered the
house this ten years, and commanded the lubberly crew?” *

     * The reader must not be misled by the familiar phraseology
     of these two speakers to suppose that anything the least
     droll or humorous was intended by either of them at any part
     of this singular dialogue. Their hearts were sad and their
     faces grave.

“And then again, David, where the heart is concerned, young women are
naturally in advance of young men.”

“God knows. He made them both. I don’t.”

“Why, all the world knows it. And then, besides, I am five years older
than you.

“So mother says; but I don’t know how to believe it. No one would say
so to look at you.”

“I’ll tell you, David. Folk that have small features look a deal
younger than their years; and you know poor father used to say my face
was the pattern of a flat-iron. So nobody gives me my age; but I am
five good years older than you, only you needn’t go and tell the town
crier.”

“Well, Eve?”

“Well, then, put all these together, and now, why not come to me for
friendly advice and the voice of reason?”

“Reason! reason! there are other lights besides reason.”

“Jack-o’-lantern, eh? and Will-o’-the-wisp.”

“Eve, nobody can advise me that can’t feel for me. Nobody can feel for
me that doesn’t know my pain; and you don’t know that, because you
were never in love.”

“Oh, then, if I had ever been in love, you would listen.”

“As I would to an angel from Heaven.”

“And be advised by me.”

“Why not? for then you’d be competent to advise; but now you haven’t
an idea what you are talking about.”

“What a pity! Don’t you think it would be as well if you were not to
speak to me so sulky?”

“I ask your pardon; Eve. I did not mean to offend you.”

“Davy, dear--for God’s sake what is this chill that has come between
you and me? You are a man. Speak out like a man.”

David turned his great calm, sorrowful eye full upon her.

“Well, then, Eve, if the truth must be told, I am disappointed in
you.”

“Oh, David.”

“A little. You are not the girl I took you for. You know which way my
fancy lies, yet you keep steering me in the teeth of it; then you see
how down-hearted I am this while, but not a word of comfort or hope
comes from you, and me almost dried up for want of one.”

“Make one word of it, David--I am not a sister to you.”

“I don’t say that, but you might be kinder; you are against me just
when I want you with me the most.”

“Now this is what I like,” said Eve, cheerfully; “this is plain
speaking. So now it is my turn, my lad. Do you remember Balaam and his
ass?”

“Sure,” said David; but, used as he was to Eve’s transitions, he
couldn’t help staring a little at being carried eastward ho so
suddenly.

“Then what did the ass say when she broke silence at last?”

“Well, you know, Eve; I take shame to say I don’t remember her very
words, but the tune of them I do. Why, she sang out, ‘Avast there! it
is first fault, so you needn’t be so hasty with your thundering rope’s
end.”’

“There! You’d make a nice commentator. You haven’t taken it up one
bit; you are as much in the dark as our parson. He preached on her the
very Sunday you came home, and it was all I could do to help whipping
up into the pulpit, and snatching away his book, and letting daylight
in on them.”

David was scandalized at the very idea of such a breach of discipline.
“That is ridiculous,” said he; “one can’t have two skippers in a
church any more than in a ship, brig, or bark. But you can let
daylight in on me.”

“I mean. To begin: the ass was in the right and Balaam in the wrong;
so what becomes of your ‘first fault?’ She was frugal of her words,
but every syllable was a needle; the worst is, some skins are so thick
our needles won’t enter ‘em. Says she, ‘This seven years you have
known me; always true to the bridle and true to you. Did ever I
disobey you before? Then why go and fancy I do it without some great
cause that you can’t see?’ Then the man’s eyes were open, and he saw
it was destruction his old friend had run back from, and galled his
foot to save his life; so of course he thanked her, and blessed her
then. Not he. He was too much of a man.”

“Ay, ay, I see; but what is the moral? for I have no heart to expound
riddles.”

“Oh, I’ll tell you the moral sooner than you’ll like, perhaps. The ass
is a type, David. In Holy Writ you know almost everything is a type.
When a thing means one thing and stands for another, that’s a type.”

“Ducks can swim--at least I’ve heard so. Now if you could tell me what
she is a type of?”

“What, the ass? Don’t you know? Why, of women, to be sure--of us poor
creatures of burden, underrated and misunderstood all the world over.
And Balaam he stands for men, and for you at the head of them,” cried
she, turning round with flashing eyes on David; “you have known me and
my true affection more than seven years, or seventeen. I carried you
in my arms when you were a year old and I was six. You were my little
curly-headed darling, and have been from that day to this. Did ever I
cross you, or be cold or unkind to you, till the other day?”

“No, Eve, no, no, no! Come sit beside me.

“Then shouldn’t you have said, ‘Don’t slobber _me;_ I won’t have
it; you and I are bad friends.’ Oughtn’t you to have said, ‘Eve could
never give herself the pain of crossing me’ (no, there isn’t a man in
the world with gumption enough to say that--that is a woman’s
thought); but at least you might have said, ‘She sees rocks ahead that
I can’t.’ (Balaam couldn’t see the drawn sword ahead, but there it
was.) it was for you to say, ‘My sister Eve would not change from gay
to grave all at once, and from indulging me in everything to thwarting
me and vexing me, unless she saw some great danger threatening your
peace of mind, your career in life, your very reason, perhaps.’”

“I have been to blame, Eve; but speak out and let me know the worst.
You have heard something against her character? Speak plain out, for
Heaven’s sake!”

“It is all very well of you to say speak plain out, but there are
things girls don’t like to speak about to any man. But after what you
said, that you would listen to me if I--so it is my duty. You will see
my face red enough in about a minute. Two years ago I couldn’t have
done this even for you. It is hard I must expose my own folly--my own
crime.”

“Why, Eve, lass, how you tremble! Drop it now! drop it!”

“Hold your tongue!” said Eve, sharply, but in considerable agitation.
“It is too late now, after something you have said to me. If I didn’t
speak out now, I should be like that bad man you told us of, who let
out the beacon light when the wind was blowing hard on shore. Listen,
David, and take my words to heart. The road you are on now I have been
upon, only I went much farther on it than you shall go.” She resumed
after a short pause: “You remember Henry Dyke?”

“What, the young clergyman, who used to be always alongside you at our
last anchorage?”

“Yes. He was just such a man as Miss Fountain is a woman. He was but a
dish of skim-milk, yet he could poison my life.”

Then Eve told the story of her heart. She described her lover as he
appeared to her in the early days of courtship, young, handsome, good,
noble in sentiment, and warm and tender in manner. Halcyon days--not a
speck to be seen on love’s horizon.

Then she delineated the fine gradations by which the illusion faded,
too slowly and too late for her to withdraw the love she had conceived
for his person at that time when person and mind seemed alike
superior. She painted with the delicate touch of her sex the portrait
of a man and a scholar born to please all the world, and incapable of
condensing his affections; a pious flirt, no longer stimulated to
genuine ardor by doubts of success, but too kind-hearted to pain her
beyond measure when a little factitious warmth from time to time would
give her hours of happiness, keep her, on the whole, content, and,
above all, retain her his. Then she shifted the mirror to herself, the
fiery and faithful one, and showed David what centuries of torture a
good little creature like this Dyke, with its charming exterior, could
make a quick, and ardent, and devoted nature suffer in a year or two.
Came out in her narrative, link by link, the gentle delicious
complacency of the first period, the chill airs that soon ruffled it,
the glowing hopes, the misgivings that dashed them; then the
diminution of confidence, more complexing and exasperating than its
utter loss; the alternations of joy and doubt, the fever and the ague
of the wounded spirit; then the gusts of hatred followed by deeper
love; later still, the periodical irritation at hopes long deferred,
and still gleams of bliss between the paroxysms, so that now, as the
vulgar say in their tremendous Saxon, she “spent her time between
heaven and hell”; last of all, the sickness and recklessness of the
wornout and wearied heart over which melancholy or fury impended.

It was at this crisis when, as she could now see on a calm retrospect,
her mind was distempered, a new and terrible passion stepped upon the
scene--jealousy. A friend came and whispered her, “Mr. Dyke was
courting another woman at the same time, and that other woman was
rich.”

“David, at that word a flash of lightning seemed to go through me, and
show me the man as he really was.”

“The mean scoundrel, to sell himself for money!!”

“No, David, he would not have sold himself, with his eyes open, any
more than perhaps your Miss Fountain would; but what little heart he
had he could give to any girl that was not a fright. He was a
self-deceiver and a general lover, and such characters and their
affections sink by nature to where their interest lies. Iron is not
conscious, yet it creeps toward the loadstone. Well, while she was
with me I held up and managed to question her as coldly as I speak to
you now, but as soon as she left me I went off in violent hysterics.”

“Poor Eve!”

“She had not been gone an hour when doesn’t the Devil put it into
_his_ head to send me a long, affectionate letter, and in the
postscript he invited himself to supper the same afternoon. Then I got
up and dried my eyes, and I seemed to turn into stone with resolution.
‘Come!’ I said, ‘but don’t think you shall ever go back to her. Your
troubles and mine shall end to-night.’”

“Why, Eve, you turn pale with thinking of it. I fear you have had
worse thoughts pass through your mind than any man is worth.”

“David, your blood was in my veins, and mine is in yours.

“If I didn’t think so! The Lord deliver us from temptation! We don’t
know ourselves nor those we love.”

“He had driven me mad.”

“Mad, indeed. What! had you the heart to see the man bleed to
death--the man you had loved--you, my little gentle Eve?”

“Oh no, no; no blood!” said Eve, with a shudder. “Laudanum!”

“Good God!”

“Oh, I see your thought. No, I was not like the men in the newspapers,
that kill the poor woman with a sure hand, and then give themselves a
scratch. It was to be one spoonful for him, but two for me. I can’t
dwell on it” (and she hid her face in her hands); “it is too terrible
to remember how far I was misled. Who, think you, saved us both?”
 David could not guess.

“A little angel--my good angel, that came home from sea that very
afternoon. When I saw your curly head, and your sweet, sunburned face
come in at the door, guess if I thought of putting death in the pot
after that? Ah! the love of our own flesh and blood, that is the
love--God and good angels can smile on it.”

“Yes; but go on,” said David, impatiently.

“It is ended, David. They say a woman’s heart is a riddle, and perhaps
you will think so when I tell you that when he had brought me down to
this, and hadn’t died for it, I turned as cold as ice to him that
minute, once and forever. I looked back at the precipice, and I hated
him. Ay, from that evening he was like the black dog to my eye. I used
to slip anywhere to hide out of his way--just as you did out of mine
but now.”

“Can’t you forget that? Well, to be sure. Well?”

“So then (now you may learn what these skim-milk cheeses are made of),
when he found he was my aversion, he fell in love with me again as hot
as ever; tried all he could think of to win me back; wrote a letter
every day; came to me every other day; and when he saw it was all over
for good between us he cried and bellowed till my hate all went, and
scorn came in its place. Next time we met he played quite another
part--the calm, heart-broken Christian; gave me his blessing; went
down on his knees, and prayed a beautiful prayer, that took me off my
guard and made me almost respect him; then went away, and quietly
married the girl with money; and six months after wrote to me he was
miserable, dated from the vicarage her parents had got him.”

“Now, you know, if he wasn’t a parson, d--n me if I’d turn in to-night
till I’d rope’s-ended that lubber!”

“As if I’d let you dirty your hands with such rubbish! I sent the note
back to him with just one line, ‘Such a fool as you are has no right
to be a villain.’ There, David, there is your poor sister’s life. Oh,
what I went through for that man! Often I said, is Heaven just, to let
a poor, faithful, loving girl, who has done no harm, be played with on
the hook, and tortured hot and cold, day after day, month after month,
year after year, as I was? But now I see why it was permitted; it was
for your sake, that you might profit by my sharp experience, and not
fling your heart away on frozen mud, as I did;” and, happy in this
feminine theory of Divine justice, Eve rested on her brother a look
that would have adorned a seraph, then took him gently round the neck
and laid her little cheek flat to his.

She felt as if she had just saved a beloved life.

Who can estimate the value of a happiness so momentary, yet so holy?

Presently looking up, she saw David’s face illuminated. “What is it?”
 she asked joyously; “you look pleased.”

David was “pleased because now he was sure she could feel for him, and
would side with him.”

“That I do; but, David, as it is all over between you and her--”

“All over? Am I dead then?”

Eve gasped with astonishment: “Why, what have I been telling you all
this for?”

“Who should you tell your trouble to but your own brother? Why,
Eve--ha! ha!--you don’t really see any likeness between your case and
mine, do you? You are not so blind as to compare her with that
thundering muff?”

“They are brother and sister, as we are,” was the reply. “Ever since I
saw you looked her way, my eye has hardly been off her, and she is
Henry Dyke in petticoats.”

“I don’t thank you for saying that. Well, and if she is, what has that
to do with it? I am not a woman. I am not forced to lie to waiting for
a wind, as the girls are. I am a man. I can work for the wish of my
heart, and, if it does not come to meet me, I can overhaul it.” Eve
was a little staggered by this thrust, but she was not one to show an
antagonist any advantage he had obtained. “David,” said she, coldly,
“it must come to one of two things; either she will send you about
your business in form, which is a needless affront for you and me
both, or she will hold you in hand, and play with you and drive you
_mad._ Take warning; remember what is in our blood. Father was as
well as you are, but agitation and vexation robbed him of his reason
for a while; and you and I are his children. Milk of roses creeps
along in that young lady’s veins, but fire gallops in ours. Give her
up, David, as she has you. She has let you escape; don’t fly back like
a moth to the candle! You shan’t, however; I won’t let you.”

“Eve,” said David, quietly, “you argue well, but you can’t argue light
into dark, nor night into day. She is the sun to me. I have seen her
light; and now I can’t live without it.”

He added, more calmly: “It is her or none. I never saw a girl but this
that I wanted to see twice, and I never shall.”

“But it is that which frightens me for you, David. Often I have wished
I could see you flirt a bit and harden your heart.”

“And break some poor girl’s.”

“Oh, hang them! they always contrive to pass it on. What do I care for
girls! they are not my brother. But no, David, I can’t believe you
will go against me and my judgment after the insult she has put on
you. No more about it, but just you choose between my respect and this
wild-goose chase.”

“I choose both,” said David, quietly. “Both you shan’t have”; and,
with this, up bounced Eve, and stood before him bristling like a
cat-o’mountain. David tried to soothe her--to coax her--in vain; her
cheek was on fire, and her eyes like basilisks’. It was a picture to
see the pretty little fury stand so erect and threatening, great David
so humble and deprecating, yet so dogged. At last he took out his
knife; it was not one of your stabbing-knives, but the sort of
pruning-knife that no sailor went without in those days. “Now,” said
he, sadly, “take and cut my head off--cut me to pieces, if you will--I
won’t wince or complain; and then you will get your way; but while I
do live I shall love her, and I can’t afford to lose her by sitting
twiddling my thumbs, waiting for luck. I’ll try all I know to win her,
and if I lose her I won’t blame her, but myself for not finding out
how to please her; and with that I’ll live a bachelor all my days for
her, or else die, just as God wills--I shan’t much care which.”

“Oh, I know you, you obstinate toad,” said Eve, clinching her teeth
and her little hand. Then she burst out furiously: “Are you quite
resolved?”

“Quite, dear Eve,” said David, sadly--but somehow it was like a rock
speaking.

“Then there is my hand,” said Eve, with an instant transition to
amiable cheerfulness that dazzled a body like a dark lantern flying
open. Used as David was to her, it stupefied him; he stared at her,
and was all abroad. “Well, what is the wonder now?” inquired Eve;
“there are but two of us. We must be together somehow or another must
we not? You won’t be wise with me; well, then, I’ll be a fool with
you. I’ll help you with this girl.”

“Oh, my dear Eve!”

“You won’t gain much. Without me you hadn’t the shadow of a chance,
and with me you haven’t a chance, that is all the odds.”

“I have! I have! you have taken away my breath with joy;” and David
was quite overcome with the turn Eve had taken in his favor.

“Oh, you need not thank me,” said Eve, tossing her head with a
hypocrisy all her own. “It is not out of affection for you I do it,
you may be very sure of that; but it looks so ridiculous to see my
brother slipping out of my way behind a tree as soon as he sees me
coming--oh! oh! oh! oh!” And a violent burst of sobs and tears
revealed how that incident had rankled in this stoical little heart.

David, with the tear in his own eye, clasped her in his arms, and
kissed her and coaxed her and begged her again and again to forgive
him. This she did internally at the first word; but externally no;
pouted and sobbed till she had exacted her full tribute, then cleared
up with sudden alacrity and inquired his plans.

“I am going to call at Font Abbey, and find out whether I have
offended her.”

Eve demurred, “That would never do. You would betray yourself and
there would be an end of you. How good I am not to let you go. No,
I’ll call there. I shall quietly find out whether it is her doing that
we have not been invited so long, or whose it is. You stay where you
are. I won’t be a minute.”

When the minute was thirty-five, David came under her window and
called her. She popped her head out: “Well?”

“What are you doing?”

“Putting on my bonnet.”

“Why, you have been an hour.”

“You wouldn’t have me go there a fright, would you?”

At last she came down and started for Font Abbey, and David was left
to count the minutes till her return. He paced the gravel sailor-wise,
taking six steps and then turning, instead of going in each direction
as far as he could. He longed and feared his sister’s return. One
hour--two hours elapsed; still he walked a supposed deck on the little
lawn--six steps and then turn. At last he saw her coming in the
distance; he ran to meet her; but when he came up with her he did not
speak, but looked wistfully in her face, and tried hard to read it and
his fate.

“Now, David, don’t make a fool of yourself, or I won’t tell you.”

“No, no. I’ll be calm, I will--be--calm.”

“Well, then, for one thing, she is to drink tea with us this evening.”

“She? Who? What? Where? Oh!”

“Here.”



CHAPTER V.

MR. FOUNTAIN sat at breakfast opposite his niece with a twinkle set in
his eye like a cherry-clack in a tree, relishing beforehand her
smiles, and blushes, and gratitude to him for having hooked and played
his friend, so that now she had but to land him. “I’ll just finish
this delicious cup of coffee,” thought he, “and then I’ll tell you, my
lady.” While he was slowly sipping said cup, Lucy looked up and said
graciously to him, “How silly Mr. Talboys was last night--was he not,
dear?”

“Talboys? silly? what? do you know? Why, what on earth do you mean?”

“Silly is a harsh word--injudicious, then--praising me _a tort et a
travers,_ and was downright ill-bred--was discourteous to another
of our guests, Mr. Dodd.”

“Confound Mr. Dodd! I wish I had never invited him.”

“So do I. If you remember, I dissuaded you.”

“I do remember now. What! you don’t like him, either?”

“There you are mistaken, dear. I esteem Mr. Dodd highly, and Miss
Dodd, too, in spite of her manifest defects; but in making up parties,
however small, we should choose our guests with reference to each
other, not merely to ourselves. Now, forgive me, it was clear
beforehand that Mr. Talboys and the Dodds, especially Miss Dodd, would
never coalesce; hence my objection in inviting them; but you overruled
me--with a rod of iron, dear.”

“Yes; but why? Because you gave me such a bad reason; you never said a
word about this incongruity.”

“But it was in my mind all the time.”

“Then why didn’t it come out?”

“Because--because something else would come out instead. As if one
gave one’s real reasons for things!! Now, uncle dear, you allow me
great liberties, but would it have been quite the thing for me to
lecture you upon the selection of your own _convives?”_

“Why, you have ended by doing it.”

Lucy colored. “Not till the event proves--not till--”

“Not till your advice is no longer any use.”

Lucy, driven into a corner, replied by an imploring look, which had
just the opposite effect of argument. It instantly disarmed the old
boy; he grinned superior, and spared his supple antagonist three
sarcasms that were all on the tip of his tongue. He was rewarded for
his clemency by a little piece of advice, delivered by his niece with
a sort of hesitating and penitent air he did not understand one bit,
eyes down upon the cloth all the time.

It came to this. He was to listen to her suggestions with a prejudice
in their favor if he could, and give them credit for being backed by
good reasons; at all events, he was never to do them the injustice to
suppose they rested on those puny considerations she might put forward
in connection with them.

“Silly” is a term carrying with it a certain promptness and decision;
above all, it was a very remarkable word for Lucy to use. “The girl is
a martinet in these things,” thought he; “she can’t forgive the least
bit of impoliteness. I suppose he snubbed Jack Tar. What a crime! But
I had better let this blow over before I go any farther.” So he
postponed his disclosure till to-morrow.

But, before to-morrow came, he had thought it over again, and
convinced himself it would be the wiser course not to interfere at all
for the present, except by throwing the young people constantly
together. He had lived long enough to see that, in nine cases out of
ten, husband and wife might be defined “a man and a woman that were
thrown a good deal together--generally in the country.” A marries B,
and C D; but, under similar circumstances, i.e., thrown
together, A would have married D, and C B. This applies to puppy dogs,
male and female, as well as to boys and girls.

Perhaps a personal feeling had some little share, too, in bringing him
to the above conclusion. He was a bit of a schemer--liked to play
puppets. At present, his niece and friend were the largest and finest
puppets he had on hand; the day he should bring them to a mutual,
rational understanding, the puppet-strings would fall from his hands
and the puppets turn independent agents. He represented to Talboys
that Lucy was young and very innocent in some respects; that marriage
did not seem to run in her head as in most girls’; that a precipitate
avowal might startle her, and raise unnecessary difficulties by
putting her on her guard too early in their acquaintance. “You have no
rival,” he concluded; “best win her quietly by degrees. Undermine the
coy jade! she is worth it.” Cool Talboys acquiesced. David had spurred
him out of his pace one night; but David was put out of the way; the
course was clear; and, as he could walk over it now, why gallop?

Childish as his friend’s jealousy of this poor sailor had seemed to
Mr. Fountain, still, the idea once started, he could not help
inspecting Lucy to see how she would take his sudden exclusion from
these parties. Now Lucy missed the Dodds very much, and was surprised
to see them invited no more. But it was not in her character to
satisfy a curiosity of this sort by putting a point-blank question to
the person who could tell her in two words. She was one of those
thorough women whose instinct it is to find out little things, not to
ask about them. When day after day passed by, and the Dodds were not
invited, it flashed through her mind, first, that there must be some
reason for this; secondly, that she had only to take no notice, and
the reason, if any, would be sure to pop out. She half suspected
Talboys, but gave him no sign of suspicion. With unruffled demeanor
and tranquil patience, she watched demurely for disclosures from her
uncle or from him like the prettiest little velvet panther conceivable
lying flat in a blind path, deranging nobody, but waiting with amiable
tranquillity for her friends to come her way.

Thus, under the smooth surface of the little society at Font Abbey
_finesse_ was cannily at work. But the surface of every society
is like the skin of a man--hides a deal of secret machinery.

Here were two undermining a “coy jade” (perhaps, on the whole, Uncle
Fountain, it might be more prudent in you not to call her that name
again; you see she is my heroine, and I am a man that could cut you
out of this story, and nobody miss you), and the coy jade watching for
the miners like a sweet little velvet panther, and, to fling away
metaphor, an honest heart set aching sore, hard by, for having come
among such a lot.



CHAPTER VI.

A FABLE tells us a fowler one day saw sitting in tree a wood-pigeon.
This is a very shy bird, so he had to creep and maneuver to get within
gunshot unseen, unheard. He stole from tree to tree, and muffled his
footsteps in the long grass so adroitly that, just as he was going to
pull the trigger, he stepped light as a feather on a venomous snake.
It bit; he died.

This is instructive and pointed, but a trifle severe.

What befell Uncle Fountain, busy enmeshing his cock and hen pheasant,
netting a niece and a friend, went to the same tune, but in a lower
key, as befitted a domestic tale.*

     * “Domestic,” you are aware, is Latin for “tame.” Ex.,
     “domestic fowl,” “domestic drama,” “story of domestic
     intereet,” “or chronicle of small beer,”

Among his letters at breakfast-time came one which he had no sooner
read than he flung on the table and went into a fury. Lucy sat aghast;
then inquired in tender anxiety what was the matter.

Angry explanations are apt to be dark ones. “It is a confounded
shame--it is a trick, child--it is a do.”

“Ah! what is that, uncle? ‘a do’?--‘a do’?”

“Yes, ‘a do.’ He knew I hated figures; can’t bear the sight of them,
and the cursed responsibility of adding them up right.”

“But who knew all this?”

“He came over here bursting with health, and asked me to be one of his
executors--mind, one. I consented on a distinct understanding I was
never to be called upon to act. He was twenty years my junior, and
like so much mahogany. It was just a form; I did it to soothe a man
who called himself my friend, and set his mind at rest.”

“But, uncle dear, I don’t understand even now. Can it be possible that
a friend has abused your good nature?”

“A little,” with an angry sneer.

“Has he betrayed your confidence?”

“Hasn’t he?”

“Oh dear! What has he done?”

“Died, that is all,” snarled the victim.

“Oh, uncle! Poor man!”

“Poor man, no doubt. But how about poor me? Why, it turns out I am
sole executor.”

“But, dear uncle, how could the poor soul help dying?”

“That is not candid, Lucy,” said Mr. Fountain, severely. “Did ever I
say he could help dying? But he could help coming here under false
colors, a mahogany face, and trapping his friend.”

“Uncle, what is the use--your trying to play the misanthrope with me,
who know how good you are, in spite of your pretenses to the contrary?
To hide your emotion from your poor niece, you go into a feigned fury,
and all the time you know how sorry you are your poor friend is gone.”

“Of course I am. He has secured one mourner. He might have died to all
eternity if he hadn’t nailed me first. See how selfish men are, and
bad-hearted into the bargain. I believe that young fellow had been to
a doctor, and found out he was booked in spite of his mahogany cheeks;
so then he rides out here and wheedles an unguarded friend--I’m
wired--I’m trapped--I’m snared.”

Lucy set herself to soothe her injured relative. “You must say to
yourself, _‘C’est un petit matheur.’”_

“Tell myself a falsehood? What shall I gain by that? Let me tell you,
it is these minor troubles that send a man to Bedlam. One breeds
another, till they swarm and buzz you distracted, and sting you dead.
_‘Petit maiheur!’_ it is a greater one than you have ever
encountered since you have been under _my_ wing.”

“It is, dear, it is; but I hope to encounter much greater ones before
I am your age.”

“The deuce you do!”

“Or else I shall die without ever having lived--a vegetable, not a
human being.”

“Bombast! a ‘flower’ your lovers will call you.”

“And men of sense a ‘weed.’ But don’t let us discuss me. What I wish
to know is the nature of your annoyance, dear.” He explained to her
with a groan that he should have to wind up all the affairs of an
estate of 8,000 pounds a year, pay the annual and other encumbrances,
etc., etc.

“Well, but, dear, you will be quite at home in this, you have such a
turn for business.”

“For my own,” shrieked the old bachelor, angrily, “not for other
people’s. Why, Lucy, there will be half a dozen separate accounts, all
of four figures. It is not as if executors were paid. And why are they
not paid? There ought to be a law compelling the estates they
administer to pay them, and handsomely. It never occurred to me
before, but now I see the monstrous iniquity of amateur executors,
amateur trustees, amateur guardians. They take business out of the
hands of those who live by business. I sincerely regret my share in
this injustice. If a snob works, he always expects to be paid! how
much more a gentleman. He ought to be paid double--once for the work,
and once for giving up his natural ease. Here am I, guardian gratis to
a cub of sixteen--the worst age--done school, and not begun Oxford and
governesses.”

“Tutors, you mean.”

“Do I? Is it the tutors the whelps fall in love with, little goose?
Stop; I’ll describe my ‘interesting charge,’ as the books call it. He
has hair you could not tell from tow. He has no eyebrows--a little
unfledged slippery horror. He used to come in to dessert, and turn all
our stomachs except his silly father’s.”

“Poor orphan!”

“When you speak to him he never answers--blushes instead.”

“Poor child!”

“He has read of eloquent blushes, and thinks there is no need to reply
in words--blushing must be such an interesting and effective
substitute.”

“Poor boy, he wants a little judicious kindness. We will have him
here.”

“Here!” cried the old gentleman, with horror. “What! make Font Abbey a
kennel!!! No, Lucy, no, this house is sacred; no nuisances admitted
here. Here, on this single spot of earth, reigns comfort, and shall
reign unruffled while I live. This is the temple of peace. If I must
be worried, I must, but not beneath this hallowed roof.”

This eloquence, delivered as it was with a sudden solemnity, told upon
the mind.

“Dear Font Abbey,” murmured Lucy, half closing her eyes, “how well you
describe it! Societies of the cosey; the walls seem padded, the
carpets velvet, and the whole structure care-proof; all is quiet
gayety and sweet punctuality. Here comfort and good humor move by
clock-work; that is Font Abbey. Yet you are right; if you were to be
seen in it no more, it would lose the life of its charm, dear Uncle
Fountain.”

“Thank you, my dear--thank you. I do like to see my friends about me
comfortable, and, above all, to be comfortable myself. The place is
well enough, and I am bitterly sorry I must leave it, and sorry to
leave you, my dear.”

“Leave us? not immediately?”

“This very day. Why, the funeral is to be this week--a grand
funeral--and I have to order it all. Then there are relatives to be
invited--thirty letters--others to be asked to the reading of the
will. It will be one hurry-scurry till we get the house clear of the
corpse and the vultures; then at it I must go, head-foremost, into
fathomless addition--subtraction--multiplication, and vexation. ‘Oh,
now forever farewell, something or other--farewell content!’ You talk
of misanthropy. I shall end there. Lucy.”

“Yes, dear uncle.”

“I never--do--a good-natured thing--but--I--bitterly--repent it. By
Jupiter! the coffee is cold; the first time that has befallen me since
I turned off seven servants that battled that point of comfort with
me.”

Lucy suggested that the coffee might have cooled a little while he was
being so kind as to answer her question at unusual length. Then she
came round to him bringing a fresh supply of fragrant slow poison, and
sat beside him and soothed him till his ire went down, and came the
calm depression of a man who, accustomed for many years to do just
what he liked, found himself suddenly obliged to do something he did
not like--a thing out of the groove of his habits too.

Sure enough, he left Font Abbey the same day, with a promise, exacted
by Lucy, that he should make her the partner of all his vexations by
writing to her every day.

“And, Lucy,” said the old Parthian, as he stepped into his
traveling-carriage, “my friend Talboys will miss me; pray be kind to
him while I am away. He is a particular friend of mine. I may be
wrong, but I do like men of known origin--of old family.”

“And you are right. I will be kind to him for your sake, dear.”

A slight cold confined Lucy to the house for three or four days after
her uncle’s departure (by the by, I think this must have been the
reason of David’s ill success in his endeavors to get an interview
with her out of doors).

Thus circumstanced, ladies rummage.

Lucy found in a garret a chest containing a quantity of papers and
parchments, and the beautifulest dust. No such dust is made in these
degenerate days. Some of these MSS. bore recent dates, and were easily
legible, though not so easily intelligible, being written as Gratiano
spake.* The writers had omitted to put the idea’d words into red ink,
so they had to be picked out with infinite difficulty from the
multitude of unidea’d ones.

     * “Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing . . . . his
     reasons are as three grains of wheat in two bushels of
     chaff.”

Other of the MSS., more ancient, wore a double veil. They hid their
sense in verbiage, and also in narrow Germanifled letters, farther
deformed by contractions and ornamental flourishes, whose joint effect
made a word look like a black daddy-long-legs, all sprawling fantastic
limbs and the body a dot.

The perusal of these pieces was slow and painful; it was like walking
or slipping about among broken ruins overgrown with nettles. But then
Uncle Fountain was so anxious to hook on to the Flunkeys--oh, Ciel!
what am I saying?--the Funteyns, and his direct genealogical evidence
had so completely broken down. She said to herself, “Oh dear! if I
could find something among these old writings, and show it him on his
return.” She had them all dusted and brought down, and a table-cloth
laid on a long table in the drawing-room, and spelled them with a
good-humored patience that belonged partly to her character, partly to
her sex. A female who undertakes this sort of work does not skip as we
should; the habit of needle-work in all its branches reconciles that
portion of mankind to invisible progress in other matters.

Besides this, they are naturally careful, and, above all, born to
endure, they carry patience into nearly all they do.*

     * At about the third rehearsal of a new play our actresses
     bring the author’s words into their heads, our actors are
     still all abroad, and at the first performance the breaks-
     down are sure to be among the males; the female jumenta
     carry their burden (be it of pig-lead) safe from wing to
     wing.

Lucy made her way manfully through all the well-written
circumlocution, and in a very short time considering; but the antique
[Greek] tried her eyes too much at night, so she gave nearly her whole
day to it, for she was anxious to finish all before her uncle’s
return. It was a curious picture--Venus immersed in musty records.

One day she had studied and spelled four mortal hours, when a visitor
was suddenly announced--Miss Dodd. That young lady came briskly in at
the heels of the servant and caught Lucy at her work. After the first
greeting, her eye rested with such undisguised curiosity on the
“mouldy records” that Lucy told her in general terms what she was
trying to do for her uncle. “La!” said Eve, “you will ruin your
eye-sight; why not send them over to us? I will make David read them.”

“And his eyesight?”

“Oh, bless you, he has a knack at reading old writing. He has made a
study of it.”

“If I thought I was not presuming too far on Mr. Dodd’s good nature, I
would send one or two of them.”

“Do; and I will make him draw up a paper of the contents; I have seen
him at this sort of work before now. But there, la! I suppose you know
it is all vanity.”

“I do it to please my poor uncle.”

“And very good you are. But what the better will the poor old
gentleman be? We are here to act our own part well; we can’t ride up
to heaven on our great-grandfather.”

These maxims were somewhat coldly received, so Eve shifted her ground.
“After all, I don’t know why I should be the one to say that, for my
own name is older than your uncle’s a pretty deal.”

Lucy looked puzzled; then suddenly fancying she had caught Eve’s
meaning, she said: “That is true. Hail mother of mankind!!” and bowed
her head with graceful reverence.

Eve stared and colored, not knowing what on earth her companion meant.
I am afraid it must be owned that Eve steadily eschewed books and
always had. What little book-learning she had came to her filtered
through David, and by this channel she accepted it willingly, even
sought it at odd times, when there was no bread, pudding, dress,
theology, scandal, or fun going on. She turned it off by a sudden
inquiry where Mr. Fountain was; “they told me in the village he was
away.” Now several circumstances combined to make Lucy more
communicative than usual. First, she had been studying hard; and,
after long study, when a lively person comes to us, it is a great
incitement to talk. Pitiful by nature, I spare you the “bent bow.”
 Secondly, she was a little anxious lest her uncle’s sudden neglect
should have mortified Miss Dodd, and a neutral topic handled at length
tends to replace friendly feeling without direct and unpleasant
explanations. She therefore answered every question in full; told her
that her uncle had lost a dear friend; that he was executor and
guardian to the poor boy, now entirely an orphan. Her uncle, with his
usual zeal on behalf of his friends; had gone off at once, and
doubtless would not return till he had fulfilled in every respect the
wishes of the deceased.

To this general sketch she added many details, suppressing the
misanthropy Mr. Fountain had exhibited or affected at the first
receipt of the intelligence.

In short, angelic gossip. Earthly gossip always backbites, you know.
Eve missed something somehow, no doubt the human or backbiting
element; still, it was gossip, sacred gossip, far dearer than
Shakespeare to the female heart, and Eve’s eyes glowed with pleasure
and her tongue plied eager questions.

With all this, such instinctive artists are these delicate creatures,
both these ladies were secretly in ambush, Lucy to learn whether Eve
and David were hurt or surprised at not being invited of late, and why
she and he had not called since; Eve to find out what was the cause
David and she had been so suddenly dropped: was it Lucy’s doing or
whose?

Each lady being bent on receiving, not on making revelations, nothing
transpired on either side. Seeing this, Eve became impatient and made
a bold move.

“Miss Fountain,” said she, “you are all alone. I wish you would come
over to us this evening and have tea.”

Lucy did not immediately reply. Eve saw her hesitation. “It is but a
poor place,” said she, “to ask you to.”

“I will come,” said the lady, directly. “I will come with great
pleasure.”

“Will seven be too early for you?”

“Oh, no, I don’t dine now my uncle is away. I call luncheon dinner.”

“Perhaps, six, then?”

“Pray let me come at your usual hour. Why derange your family for one
person?” Six o’clock was settled.

“I must take some of this rubbish with me,” said Eve; “come along, my
dears”; and with an ample and mock enthusiastic gesture she caught up
an armful of manuscripts.

“The servant shall take them over for you.”

“Oh, bother the servant; I am my own servant--if you will lend me a
pin or two.”

Lucy drew six pins out from different parts of her dress. Eve noticed
this, but said nothing. She pinned up her apron so as to make an
enormous pocket, and went gayly off with the “spoils of time.”



CHAPTER VII.

“Is that what you call being calm, David? Let me alone--don’t slobber
me. I am sure I wish she had said, ‘No.’ If I had thought she would
come I would never have asked her.”

“You would, Eve; you would, for love of me.”

“Who knows? Perhaps I might. I am more indulgent than kind.”

“Eve, do tell me all. Is she well? does she come of her own good will?
Dear Eve!”

“Well, I’ll tell you: first we had a bit of a talk for a blind like;
and her uncle is away; so then I asked her plump to come to tea. Well,
David, first she looked ‘No’--only for a single moment, though; she
soon altered her mind, and so then, the moment it was to be ‘Yes,’ she
cleared up, and you would have thought she had been asked to the
king’s banquet. Ah! David, my lad, you have fallen into good
hands--you have launched your heart on a deeper ocean than ever your
ship sailed on.”

David took no notice. He was in a state of exaltation for one thing,
and, besides, Eve’s simile was sent to the wrong address; we
terrestrials fear water in proportion to its depth, but these mariners
dread their native element only when it is shallow.

David now kept asking in an excited way what they could do for her.
“What could they get to do her honor? Wouldn’t she miss the luxuries
of her fine place?”

“Now you be quiet, David; we need not put ourselves about, for she
will be the easiest girl to please you have ever seen here; or, if she
isn’t, she’ll act it so that you’ll be none the wiser. However, you
can go and buy some flowers for me.”

“That I will; we have none good enough for her here.”

“And, David, tea under the catalpa, as we always do on fine nights.”

“You don’t mean that.”

“Ah! but I do. These fine ladies are all for novelties. Now I’m much
mistaken if this one has ever had her tea out of doors in all her born
days. What! do you think our little stuffy room would be any treat to
her, after the drawing-room at Font Abbey? Come, you be off till
half-past five; you’ll fidget yourself and fidget me else.”

David recognized her superiority, obeyed and vanished.

Eve, having got rid of him, showed none of the insouciance she had
recommended. She darted into the kitchen, bared her arms, and made
wheaten cakes with unequaled rapidity, the servant looking on with
demure admiration all the while. These put into the oven, she got her
keys and put out the silver teapot, cream jug and sugar basin, things
not used every day, I can tell you; item, the best old china tea
service; item, some rare tea, of which David had brought home a small
quantity from China. At six o’clock Miss Fountain came; a footman
marched twenty yards behind her. She dismissed him at the door, and
Eve invited her at once into the garden. There David joined them, his
heart beating violently. She put out her hand kindly and calmly, and
shook hands with him in the most unembarrassed way imaginable. At the
touch of her soft hand every fiber in him thrilled and the color
rushed into his face. At this a faint blush tinged her own, but no
more than the warm welcome she was receiving might account for.

They seated her in a comfortable chair under the catalpa. Presently
out came a nice, clean maid, her white neck half hidden, half
revealed, by plain, unfigured muslin worn where the frock ended. She
put the tea things on the table, and courtesied to Lucy, who returned
her salute by a benignant smile. Out came another stouter one with the
kettle, hung it from a hoop between two stout sticks, and lighted a
fire she had laid underneath, retiring with a parting look at the
kettle as soon as it hissed. Then returned maid one with bread, and
wheaten cakes, and fruit, butter nice and hard from the cellar, and
yellow cream, and went off smiling.

A gentle zeal seemed to animate these domestics, as if they, also, in
relative proportions, gave the fete, or at least contributed good
will. Lucy’s quick eye caught this. It was new to her.

The tea was soon made, and its Oriental fragrance mingled with the
other odors that filled the balmy air. Gay golden broken lights
flickered in patches on the table, the china cups, the ladies’
dresses, and the grass, all but in one place, where the cool deep
shadow lay undisturbed around the foot of the tree-stem. Looking up to
see whence the flickering gold came that sprinkled her white hand,
Lucy saw one of the loveliest and commonest things in nature. The sky
was blue--the sun fiery--the air potable gold outside the tree, so
that, as she looked up, the mellow green leaves of the catalpa, coming
between her and the bright sky and glowing air, shone like transparent
gold--staircase upon staircase of great exotic translucent leaves,
with specks of lovely blue sky that seemed to come down and perch
among the top branches. Charming as these sights were, contrast
doubled their beauties; for all these dimples of bright blue and
flakes of translucent gold were eyed from the cool and from the deep
shade.

The light, it is true, came down and danced on the turf here and
there, but it left its heat behind through running the gauntlet of the
myriad leaves. Over Lucy’s head hung by a silk line from one of the
branches a huge globe of humble but fragrant flowers; they were, in
point of fact, fastened with marvelous skill all round a damp sponge,
but she did not know that. Thus these simple hosts honored their
lovely guest. And while these sights and smells stole into her deep
eyes and her delicate nostrils, “Fiddle, David,” said Eve, loftily,
and straightway a simple mellow tune rang sweetly on the cheerful
chords--a rustic, dulcet, and immortal ditty, in tune with summer and
afternoon, with gold-checkered grass, and leaves that slumbered, yet
vibrated, in the glowing air.

A bright, dreamy hour; the soul and senses floated gently in color,
fragrance, melody, and great calm. “Each sound seemed but an echo of
tranquillity.”

Lucy looked up and absorbed the scene, then closed her eyes and
listened; and presently her lips parted gradually in so ravishing a
smile, her eyes remaining closed, that even Eve, who saw her in her
true light, a terrible girl come there to burn and destroy David,
remaining cool as a cucumber, could hardly forbear seizing and
mumbling her.


In certain companies you shall see a boisterous cordiality, which at
bottom is as hollow as diplomacy; but there is a modest geniality
which is to society what the bloom is to the plum.

And this charm Lucy found in her hosts of the catalpa. For this very
reason that they were her hosts, their manner to her changed a little,
and becomingly; they made no secret that it was a downright pleasure
to them to have her there. They petted her, and showed her so much
simple kindness, that what with the scene, the music, and her
companions’ goodness, the coy bud opened--timidly at first--but in a
way it never had expanded at Font Abbey.

She even developed a feeble sense of fun, followed suit demurely when
Eve came out sprightly, laughed like a brook gurgling to Eve’s peal of
bells, and lo and behold, when the two girls got together, and faced
the man, strong in numbers, a favorite trick, backed her ally as
cowards back the brave, and set her on to sauce David. They cast
doubts upon his skill in navigation. They perplexed him with
treacherous questions in geography, put with an innocent affectation
of a humble desire for information. In short, they played upon him
lightly as they touch the piano. And Eve carolled a song, and David
accompanied her on the fiddle; and at the third verse Lucy chimed in
spontaneously with a second, and the next verse David struck in with a
base, and the tepid air rang with harmony, and poor David thrilled
with happiness. His heart felt his voice mingle and blend with hers,
and even this contact was delicious to his imagination. And they were
happy. But all must end; the shades of evening came down, and the
pleasant little party broke up, and, as John had not come, David asked
leave to escort her home. Oh no, she could not think of giving him
that trouble; so saying, she went home with him. When they were alone,
his deep love made him timid and confused. He walked by her side, and
did not speak to her. She waited with some surprise at this silence,
and then, as he was shy, she talked to him, uttered many airy
nothings, and then put questions to him. “Did he always drink tea out
of doors?”

“On fine nights in summer. Eve settled all such matters.”

“Have you not a voice?”

“I have a voice, but no vote. She is skipper ashore.”

“Oh, is she? Who taught her how delicious it is to drink tea out of
doors?”

David did not know--fancied it was her own idea. “Did you really like
it, Miss Fountain?”

“Like it, Mr. Dodd! It was Elysium. I never passed a sweeter evening
in my life.”

David colored all over. “I wish I could believe that.”

“Was it the tulip-tree, or the violin, or was it your conversation,
Mr. Dodd, I wonder?” asked she demurely, looking mock-innocent in his
face.

“It was your goodness to be so easily pleased,” said Dodd, with a gush
that made her color. She smiled, however. “Well, that is one way of
looking at things,” said she. _“Entre nous,_ I think Miss Dodd
was the enchantress.”

“Eve is capital company, for that matter.”

“Indeed she is; you must be very happy together. Your mutual affection
is very charming, Mr. Dodd, but sometimes it almost makes me sad.
Forgive me! I have no brother.”

“You will never want one to love you a thousand times better than a
brother can love.”

“Oh, shan’t I?” said the lady, and opened her eyes.

“No; and there is more than one that worships the ground you tread on
at this moment; but you know that.”

“Oh, do I?” She opened her eyes still wider.

David longed to tell how he loved her, but dared not. He looked
wistfully at her face. It was quite calm and had suddenly became a
little reserved. He felt he was on new and dangerous ground; he sighed
and was silent. He turned away his face. When this involuntary sigh
broke from him she turned her head a little and looked at him. He felt
her eye dwell on him, and his cheeks burned under it.

The next moment they were at Font Hill, and Lucy seemed to David to
hesitate whether to give him her hand at parting or not.

She did give him her hand, though not so freely, David thought, as she
had done on his own little lawn three hours before, and this dashed
his spirits. It seemed to him a step lost, and he had hoped to gain a
step somehow by walking home with her. He felt like one who has
undertaken to catch some skittish timorous thing, that, if you stand
still, will come within a certain small but safe distance, but you
must not move a step toward it, or, whir, away it is. He went slowly
home, his heart warm and cold by turns; warm when he remembered the
sweet hours he had just spent, and her sweet looks and heavenly tones,
every one of which he saw and heard again; cold when he thought of the
social distance that separated them, and the hundred chances to one
against his love. Then he said to himself: “Time was I thought I could
never bring a yard down from the foretop to the deck, but I mastered
that. Time was I thought I could never work out a logarithm without a
formula, but I mastered that. Time was the fiddle beat me so I was
ready to cry over it, but at last I learned to make it sing, and now I
can make her smile with it (God bless her!) instead of stopping her
ears. I can hardly mind the thing that didn’t beat me dead for a long
while, but I persevered and got the upper hand. Ay, but this is higher
and harder than them all--a hundred times harder and higher.

“I’ll hold my course, let the wind blow high or low, and if I can’t
overhaul the wish of my heart, well, I’ll carry her flag to the last.
I’ll die a bachelor for her sake, as sure as you are the moon, my
lass, and you the polar star, and from this hour I’ll never look at
you, but I’ll make believe it is her I am looking up at; for she is as
high above me, and as bright as you are. God bless her! and to think I
never even said good-night to her! I stood there like a mummy.” And
David reproached himself for his unkindness.


Lucy, on entering the drawing-room, was surprised to find it blazing
with candles, but she was more surprised at what she saw seated calmly
in an armchair--Mrs. Bazalgette. Lucy stood transfixed; the audacious
intruder laughed at her astonishment; the next moment they
intertwined, and fell to kissing one another with tender violence.

“Well, love, the fact is, I was passing here on my way home from
Devonshire, and I wanted particularly to speak to you, so I thought I
would venture just to pop in for a passing call, and lo! I find the
old ogre is absent, and not expected back for ever so long, so I have
installed myself at his Font Abbey, partly out of love for you, dear,
partly, I confess it, out of hate to him. You will write and tell me
his face when he comes home and hears I have been living and enjoying
myself in his den. I ordered my imperial into his bedroom. I took it
for granted that would be the only comfortable one in his house.”

“Aunt Bazalgette!” cried Lucy, turning pale; “oh, aunt, what will
become of us?”

“Don’t be frightened; the gray-haired monster that dyes his whiskers,
and gets him up to look only sixty, interposed and forbade the
consecration.”

“I am glad of it. You shall sleep in mine, dear, and I will go into
the east room. It is a sweet little room.”

“Is it? then why not put me there?” Lucy colored a little. “I think
mine would suit you better, dear, because it is larger and airier,
and--”

“I see. As you please; you know I never make difficulties.”

“And how long have you been here, aunt?”

“About three hours.”

“Three hours, and not send for me! I was only in the village. Did no
one tell you?”

“Yes; but you know it is not my way to make a fuss and put people out.
How could I tell? You might be agreeably employed, and I was sure of
you before bedtime.”

Mighty-fine! but the truth is, she came to Font Abbey to pry. She had
heard a vague report about Lucy and a gentleman.

She was very glad to find Lucy was out; it gave her an opportunity.
She sent for Lucy’s maid to help her unpack a dress or two--thirteen.
This girl was paid out of Lucy’s estate, but did not know that. Mrs.
Bazalgette handed her her wages, and that gives an influence. The wily
matron did not trust to that alone. In unpacking she gave the girl a
dress and several smaller presents, and, this done, slowly and
cautiously pumped her. Jane, to fulfill her share of a bargain, which,
though never once alluded to, was perfectly understood between both
the parties, told her all she knew and all she conjectured; told her,
in particular, how constantly Mr. Talboys was in the house, and how,
one night, the old gentleman had walked part of the way home with him,
“which Mr. Thomas says he didn’t think his master would do it for the
king, mum!” and had come in all of a flurry, and sent up for miss, and
swore* awful when she couldn’t come because she was abed. “So you may
depend, mum, it is so; leastways, the gentlemen they are willing. We
talk it over mostly every day in the servants’ hall, mum, and we are
all of a mind so fur; but whether it will come to a wedding, that we
haven’t a settled yet. It’s miss beats us; she is like no other young
lady ever I came anigh. A man or woman--it is all the same to her--a
kind word for everybody, and pass on. But I do really think she likes
her own side of the house a trifle the best.”

     *The ladies of the bedchamber will embellish. After all, it
     is their business.

“And there you don’t agree with her, Jane?”

“Well, mum--being as we are alone--now is it natural? But Mr. Thomas
he says, ‘The cold ones take the first offer that comes when there is
money ahind it. It isn’t us they wants,’ says he. I told him I should
think not the likes of him--‘but our house and land,’ says he, ‘and
hopera box and cetera.’ ‘But I don’t think that of our one,’ says I;
‘bless you, she is too high-minded.’ But what I think, mum, is, she
wouldn’t say ‘no’ to her uncle; her mouth don’t seem made for saying
no, especially to him; and he is bent on Talboys, mum, you take my
word.”

To return to the drawing-room: Mrs. Bazalgette, after the above
delicate discussion, sat there in ambush, knowing more of Lucy’s
affairs than Lucy knew. Her next point was to learn Lucy’s sentiments,
and to find whether she was deliberately playing false and breaking
her promise, vide.

“Well, Lucy, any lovers yet?”

“No, aunt.”

“Take care, Lucy, a little bird whispers in my ear.”

“Then it is a humming-bird,” and Lucy pouted. “Now, aunt, did you
really come to Font Abbey to tease me about such nonsense
as--as--gentlemen?” and Lucy looked hurt.

“Here’s an actress for you,” thought Mrs. Bazalgette; but she calmly
dropped the subject, and never recurred to it openly all the evening,
but lay secretly in watch, and put many subtle but seeming innocent
questions to her niece about her habits, her uncle’s guest, whether
her uncle kept a horse for her, whether he bought it for her, etc.,
etc.

The next morning Mrs. Bazalgette breakfasted in bed, during which
process she rang her bell seven times. Lucy received at the
breakfast-table a letter from her uncle.


“MY DEAR NIECE--The funeral was yesterday, and, I flatter myself, well
performed: there were five-and-twenty carriages. After that a
luncheon, in the right style, and then to the reading of the will. And
here I shall surprise you, but not more than I was myself: I am left
5,000 pounds consols. My worthy friend, whose loss we are called on so
suddenly to deplore, accompanied this bequest in his will with many
friendly expressions of esteem, which I have always studied and shall
study to deserve. He bequeathed to me also, during minority, the care
of his boy, the heir to this fine property, which far exceeds the
value I had imagined. There is a letter attached to the will; in
compliance with it Arthur is to go to Cambridge, but not until he has
been well prepared. He will therefore accompany me to Font Abbey
to-morrow, and I must contrive somehow or other to find him a
mathematical tutor in the neighborhood. There is a handsome allowance
made out of the estate for his board, etc., etc.

“He is an interesting boy, and has none of the rudeness and
mischievousness they generally have--blue eyes, soft, silky, flaxen
hair, and as modest as a girl. His orphaned state merits kindness, and
his prospects entitle him to consideration. I mention this because I
fancy, when we last discussed this matter, I saw a little disposition
on your part to be satirical at the poor boy’s expense. I am sure,
however, that you will restrain this feeling at my request, and treat
him like a younger brother. I only wish he was three or four years
older--you understand me, miss.

“To-morrow afternoon, then, we shall be at Font Abbey. Let him have
the east room, and tell Brown to light a blazing fire in my bedroom.
and warm and air every mortal thing, on pain of death.

                              “Your affectionate uncle,

                              “JOHN FOUNTAIN.”


On reading this letter Lucy formed an innocent scheme. It had long
been matter of regret to her that Aunt Bazalgette could not see the
good qualities of Uncle Fountain, and Uncle Fountain of Aunt
Bazalgette. “It must be mere prejudice,” said she, “or why do I love
them both?” She had often wished she could bring them together, and
make them know one another better; they would find out one another’s
good qualities then, and be friends. But how? As Shakespeare says,
“Oxen and wain-ropes would not haul them, together.”

At last chance aided her--Mrs. Bazalgette was at Font Abbey actually.
Lucy knew that if she announced Mr. Fountain’s expected return the B
would fly off that minute, so she suppressed the information, and,
giving up to young Arthur as she had to Mrs. B., moved into a still
smaller room than the east room.

And now her heart quaked a little. “But, after all, Uncle Fountain is
a gentleman,” thought she, “and not capable of showing hostility to
her under his own roof. Here she is safe, though nowhere else; only I
must see him, and explain to him before he sees her.” With this view
Lucy declined demurely her aunt’s proposal for a walk. No, she must be
excused; she had work to do in the drawing-room that could not be
postponed.

“Work! that alters the case. Let me see it.” She took for granted it
was some useful work--something that could be worn when done. “What!
is this it--these dirty parchments? Oh! I see; it is for that selfish
old man; who but he would set a lady to parchments!”

“A bad guess,” cried Lucy, joyously. “I found them myself, and set
myself to work on them.”

“Don’t tell me! He is at the bottom of it. If it was for yourself you
would give it up directly. How amusing for me to see you work at
that!” Lucy rose and brought her the new novel. Mrs. Bazalgette took
it and sat down to it, but she could not fix her attention long on it.
Ladies whose hearts are in dress have no taste for books, however
frivolous; can’t sit them for above a second or two. Mrs. Bazalgette
fidgeted and fidgeted, and at last rose and left the room, book in
hand. “How unkind I am!” said Lucy to herself.

She was sitting sentinel till the carriage should arrive; then she
could run down and prepare her uncle for his innocent and accidental
visitor. It would not be prudent to let him receive the information
from a servant, or without the accompanying explanation. This it was
that made her so unnaturally firm when the little idle B pressed her
to waste in play the shining hours.

Mrs. Bazalgette went book in hand to her bedroom, and had not been
there long before she found employment. Many of Lucy’s things were
still in the wardrobes. Mrs. B. rummaged them, inspected them at the
window, and ended by ringing for her maid and trying divers of her
niece’s dresses on. “They make her dresses better than they do mine;
they take more pains.” At last she found one that was new to her,
though Lucy had worn it several times at Font Abbey.

“Where did she get this, Jane?”

“Present from the old gentleman, mum; he had it down from London for
her all at one time with this shawl and twelve puragloves.”

Lucy looked two inches taller than Mrs. B., but somehow, I can’t tell
how, this dress of hers fitted the latter like a glove. It embraced
her; it held her tenderly, but tight, as gowns and lovers should. The
poor dear could not get out of it. “I _must_ wear it an hour or
two,” said she. “Besides, it will save my own, knocking about in these
country lanes.” Thus attired she went into the drawing-room to
surprise Lucy. Now Lucy was determined not to move; so, not to be
enticed, she did not even look up from her work; on this the other
took a mild huff and whisked out.

So keen are the feminine senses, that Lucy, on reflection, recognized
something brusk, perhaps angry, in the rustle of that retiring dress,
and soon after rang the bell and inquired where Mrs. Bazalgette was.
John would make henquiries.

“Your haunt is in the back garden, miss.”

“Walking, or what?”

John would make henquiries.

“She is reading, miss; and she is sitting on the seat master ‘ad made
for _you,_ miss.

“Very well: thank you.”

“Any more commands, miss?”

“Not at present.” John retired with a regretful air, as one capable of
executing important commissions, but lost for lack of opportunity. All
the servants in this house liked to come into contact with Lucy. She
treated them with a dignified kindness and reserved politeness that
wins these good creatures more than either arrogance or familiarity.
“Jeames is not such a fool as he looks.”

Lucy was glad. Her aunt had got her book. It is an interesting story;
she will not miss me now, and the carriage will soon be here, and then
I will make up for my unkindness. Curiously enough, at this very
juncture, the fair student found something in her parchment which gave
her some little hopes of a favorable result.

She was following this clue eagerly, when all of a sudden she started.
Her ear had caught the rattle of a carriage over the stones of the
stable yard. She rang the bell, and inquired if that was not the
carriage.

“Yes, miss.

“My uncle has sent it back, then? He is not coming to-day?”

John would inquire of the coachman.

“Oh yes, miss, master is come, but he got out at the foot of the hill,
and walked up through the shrubbery with the young gentleman to show
him the grounds.” On this news Lucy rose hastily, snatched up a garden
hat, and, without any other preparation, went out to intercept her
uncle. As she stepped into the garden she heard a loud scream,
followed by angry voices; she threw her hands up to heaven in dismay
and ran toward the sounds. They came from the back garden. She went
like lightning round the corner of the house, and came plump upon an
agitated group, of whom she made one directly, spellbound. Here stood
Aunt Bazalgette, her head turned haughtily, her cheeks scarlet. There
stood Mr. Fountain on the other side of the rustic seat, red as fire,
too, but wearing a hang-dog look, and behind him young Arthur, pale,
with two eyes like saucers, gazing awestruck at the first row he had
ever seen between a full-grown lady and gentleman.

Our narrative must take a step to the rear, as an excellent writer,
Private ----* phrases it, otherwise you might be misled to suppose
that Uncle Fountain was quarreling with Mrs. B. for having set her
foot in sacred Font Abbey.

     * “I had an escape myself. As I opened the door of a house, a
     black fellow was behind waiting for me, and made a chop. I
     took a step to the rear, fired through the door, and cooked
     his goose.”--_Times._

No, the pudding was richer than that. Mr. Fountain had young Arthur in
charge, and, not being an ill-natured old gentleman, he pitied the
boy, and did all he could to make him feel he was coming among
friends. He sent the carriage on, and showed Arthur the grounds, and
covertly praised the place and all about it, Lucy included, for was
not she an appendage of his abbey. “You will see my niece--a charming
young lady, who will be kind to you, and you must make friends with
her. She is very accomplished--paints. She plays like an angel, too.
Ah! there she is. She has got the gown on I gave her--a compliment to
me--a very pretty attention, Arthur, the day of my return. What is she
doing?”

Arthur, with his young eyes, settled this question. “The lady is
asleep. See, she has dropped her book.” And; in fact, the whole
attitude was lax and not ungraceful. Her right hand hung down, and the
domestic story, its duty done, reposed beneath.

“Now, Arthur,” said the senior, making himself young to please the
boy, and to show him that, if he looked old, he was not worn out,
“would you like a bit of fun? We will startle her--we’ll give her a
kiss.” Arthur hung back irresolute, and his cheeks were dyed with
blushes.

“Not you, you young rogue; you are not her uncle.” The old gentleman
then stole up at the back of the seat, followed with respectful
curiosity by Arthur. She happened to move as the senior got near; so,
for fear she was going to wake of herself and baffle the surprise, he
made a rush and rubbed his beard a little roughly against Mrs.
Bazalgette’s cheek. Up starts that lady, who was not fast asleep, but
only under the influence of the domestic tale, utters a scream, and,
when she sees her ravisher, goes into a passion.

“How dare you? What is the meaning of this insult?”

“How came you here?” was the reply, in an equally angry tone.

“Can’t a lady come into your little misery of a garden without being
outraged?”

“It isn’t the garden--it is only the back garden,” cried the
proprietor of Font Hill; _“(blesse)_ I’ll swear that is my
niece’s gown; so you’ve invaded that, too.”

“Aunt Bazalgette--Uncle Fountain, it was my fault,” sighed a piteous
voice. This was Lucy, who had just come on the scene. “Dear uncle,
forgive me; it was I who invited her.”

Lucy’s pathetic tones, which were fast degenerating into sobs, were
agreeably interrupted.

At one and the same moment the man and woman of the world took a new
view of the situation, looked at one another, and burst out laughing.
Both these carried a safety-valve against choler--a trait that takes
us into many follies, but keeps us out of others--a sense of humor.
The next thing to relieve the situation was the senior’s comprehensive
vanity. He must recover young Arthur’s reverence, which was doubtless
dissolving all this time. “Now, Arthur,” he whispered, “take a lesson
from a gentleman of the old school. I hate this she-devil; but this is
at my house, so--observe.” He then strutted jauntily and feebly up to
Mrs. Bazalgette: “Madam, my niece says you are her guest; but permit
me to dispute her title to that honor.” Mrs. Bazalgette smiled
agreeably. She wanted to stay a day or two at Font Abbey. The senior
flourished out his arm. “Let me show you what _we_ call the
garden here.” She took his arm graciously. “I shall be delighted, sir
[pompous old fool!].”

Mrs. Bazalgette steeled her mind to admire the garden, and would have
done so with ease if it had been hideous. But, unfortunately, it was
pretty--prettier than her own; had grassy slopes, a fountain, a
grotto, variegated beds, and beds a blaze of one color (a fashion not
common at that time); item, a brook with waterlilies on its bosom.
“This brook is not mine, strictly speaking,” said her host; “I
borrowed it of my neighbor.” The lady opened her eyes; so he grinned
and revealed a characteristic transaction. A quarter of a century ago
he had found the brook flowing through a meadow close to his garden
hedge. He applied for a lease of the meadow, and was refused by the
proprietor in the following terms: “What is to become of my cows?”

He applied constantly for ten years, and met the same answer.
Proprietor died, the cows turned to ox-beef, and were eaten in London
along with flour and a little turmeric, and washed down with Spanish
licorice-water, salt, gentian and a little burned malt. Widow
inherited, made hay, and refused F. the meadow because her husband had
always refused him. But in the tenth year of her siege she assented,
for the following reasons: _primo,_ she had said “no” so often
the word gave her a sense of fatigue; _secundo,_ she liked
variety, and thought a change for the worse must be better than no
change at all.

Her tenant instantly cut a channel from the upper part of the stream
into his garden, and brought the brook into the lawn, made it write an
S upon his turf, then handed it but again upon the meadow “none the
worse,” his own comment. These things could be done in the
country--_jadis._

It cost Mrs. Bazalgette a struggle to admire the garden and borrowed
stream--they were so pretty. She made the struggle and praised all.
Lucy, walking behind the pair, watched them with innocent
satisfaction. “How fast they are making friends,” thought she,
mistaking an armistice for an alliance.

“Since the place is so fortunate as to please you, you will stay a
week with me, madam, at least.”

“A week! No, Mr. Fountain; I really admire your courtesy too much to
abuse it.”

“Not at all; you will oblige me.”

“I cannot bring myself to think so.”

“You may believe me. I have a selfish motive.”

“Oh, if you are in earnest.”

“I will explain. If you are my guest for a week, that will give me a
claim to be yours in turn.” And he bent a keen look upon the lady, as
much as to say, “Now I shall see whether you dare let me spy on you as
you are doing on me.”

“I propose an amendment,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, with a merry air of
defiance: “for every day I enjoy here you must spend two beneath my
roof. On this condition, I will stay a week at Font Abbey.”

“I consent,” said Mr. Fountain, a little sharply. He liked the
bargain. “I must leave you to Lucy for a minute; I have some orders to
give. I like _my_ guests to be comfortable.” With this he retired
to his study and pondered. “What is she here for? it is not affection
for Lucy; that is all my eye, a selfish toad like her. (How agreeable
she can make herself, though.) She heard I was out, and came here to
spy directly. That was sharp practice. Better not give her a chance of
seeing my game. I disarmed her suspicion by asking her to stay a week,
aha! Well, during that week Talboys must not come, that is all; aha!
my lady, I won’t give those cunning eyes of yours a chance of looking
over my hand.” He then wrote a note to Talboys, telling him there was
a guest at Font Abbey, a disagreeable woman, “who makes mischief
whenever she can. She would be sure to divine our intentions, and use
all her influence with Lucy to spite me. You had better stay away till
she is gone.” He sent this off by a servant, then pondered again.

“She suspects something; then that is a sign she has her own designs
on Lucy. Hum! no. If she had, she would not have invited me to her
house. She invited me directly and cheerfully--!”


Mrs. Bazalgette walked and sat with an arm round Lucy’s waist, and
told her seven times before dinner how happy she was at the prospect
of a quiet week with her. In the evening she yawned eleven times. Next
day she asked Lucy who was coming to dinner.

“Nobody, dear.”

“Nobody at all?”

“I thought you would perhaps not care to have our tete-a-tete
interrupted yet.”

“Oh, but I should like to explore the natives too.”

“I will give uncle a hint, dear.” The hint was given very delicately,
but the malicious senior had a perverse construction ready
immediately.

“So this is her mighty affection for you. Can’t get through two days
without strangers.”

“Uncle,” said Lucy, imploringly, “she is so used to society, and she
has me all day; we ought to give her some little amusement at night.”

“Well, I can’t make up parties now; my friends are all in London. She
only wants something to flirt with. Send for David Dodd.”

“What, for her to flirt with?”

“Yes; he is a handsome fellow; he will serve her turn.”

“For shame, uncle; what would Mr. Bazalgette say? Poor aunt, she is a
coquette now.”

“And has been this twenty years.”

“Now I was thinking--Mr. Talboys?”

“Talboys is not at home; she must be content with lower game. She
shall bring down David.”

Lucy hesitated. “I don’t think she will like Mr. Dodd, and I am sure
he will not like her.”

“How can you know that?”

“He is so honest. He will not understand a woman of the world and her
little in--sin--No, I don’t mean that.”

“Well, if he does not understand her he may like her.”


“Aunt, he has made me ask the Dodds to tea, and I am afraid you will
not like them.”

“Well, if I don’t we must try some more natives to-morrow. Who are
they?” Lucy told her. “Pretty people to ask to meet me,” said she,
loftily. This scorn dissolved in course of the evening. Lucy, anxious
her guests should be pleased with one another, drew the Dodds out,
especially David--made him spin a yarn. With this and his good looks
he so pleased Mrs. Bazalgette that it was the last yarn he ever span
during her stay. She took a fancy to him, and set herself to captivate
him with sprightly ardor.

David received her advances politely, but a little coldly. The lady
was very agreeable, but she kept him from Lucy; he hardly got three
words with her all the evening. As they went home together, Eve
sneered: “Well, you managed nicely; it was your business to make
friends with that lady.”

“With all my heart.”

“Then why didn’t you do what she bid you?”

“She gave me no orders that I heard,” said the literal first mate.

“She gave you a plain hint, though.”

“To do what?”

“To do what? stupid! Why, to make love to her, to be sure.”

“Why, she is a married woman?”

“If she chooses to forget that, is it your business to remember it?”

“And if she was single, and the loveliest in the world, how could I
court her when my heart is full of an angel?”

“If your heart is full, your head is empty. Why, you see nothing.”

“I can’t see why I should belie my heart.”

“Can’t you? Then I can. David, in less than a month Miss Fountain goes
to this lady and stays a quarter of a year: she told me so herself.
Oh, my ears are always open in your service ever since I did agree to
be as great a fool as you are. Now don’t you see that if you can’t get
Mrs. Bazalgette to invite you to her house, you must take leave of the
other here forever?”

“I see what you mean, Eve; how wise you are! It is wonderful. But what
is to be done? I am bad at feigning. I can’t make love to her.”

“But you can let her make love to you: is that an effort you feel
equal to? and I must do the rest. Oh, we have a nice undertaking
before us. But, if boys will cry for fruit that is out of their reach,
and their silly sisters will indulge them--don’t slobber _me.”_

“You are such a dear girl to fight for me so a little against your
judgment.”

“A little, eh? Dead against it, you mean. Don’t look so blank, David;
you are all right as far as me. When my heart is on your side you can
snap your fingers at my judgment.”

David was cheered by this gracious revelation.

Eve was a tormenting little imp. She could not help reminding him
every now and then that all her maneuvers and all his love were to end
in disappointment. These discouraging comments had dashed poor David’s
spirits more than once; but he was beginning to discover that they
were invariably accompanied or followed by an access of cheerful zeal
in the desperate cause--a pleasing phenomenon, though somewhat
unintelligible to this honest fellow, who had never microscoped the
enigmatical sex.

Mrs. Bazalgette reproached Lucy: “You never told me how handsome Mr.
Dodd was.”

“Didn’t I?

“No. He is the handsomest man I ever saw.”

“I have not observed that, but I think he is one of the worthiest.”

“I should not wonder,” said the other lady, carelessly. “It is clear
you don’t appreciate him here. You half apologized to me for inviting
him.”

“That was because you are such a fashionable lady, and the Dodds have
no such pretensions.”

“All the better; my taste is not for sophisticated people. I only put
up with them because I am obliged. Why, Lucy, you ought to know how my
heart yearns for nature and truth; I am sure I have told you so often
enough. An hour spent with a simple, natural creature like Captain
Dodd refreshes me as a cooling breeze after the heat and odors of a
crowded room.”

“Miss Dodd is very natural too--is she not?”

“Very. Pertness and vulgarity are natural enough--to some people.”

“My uncle likes her the best of the two.”

“Then your uncle is mad. But the fact is, men are no judges in such
cases; they are always unjust to their own sex, and as blind to the
faults of ours as beetles.”

“But surely, aunt, she is very arch and lively.”

“Pert and fussy, you mean.”

“Pretty, at all events? Rather?”

“What, with that snub nose!!?”

Lucy offered to invite other neighbors; Mrs. Bazalgette replied she
didn’t want to be bothered with rurality. “You can ask Captain Dodd,
if you like; there is no need to invite the sister.”

“Oh yes, I must; my uncle likes her the best.”

“But _I_ don’t; and I am only here for a day or two.”

“Miss Dodd would be hurt. It would be unkind--discourteous.”

“No, no. She watches him all the time like a little dragon.”

_“Apres?_ We have no sinister designs on Mr. Dodd, have we?” and
something unusually keen flashed upon Aunt Bazalgette out of the tail
of the quiet Lucy’s eye.

Mrs. Bazalgette looked cross. “Nonsense, Lucy; so tiresome! Can’t we
have an agreeable person without tacking on a disagreeable one?”

“Aunt,” said Lucy, pathetically, “ask me anything else in the world,
but don’t ask me to be rude, for _I can’t.”_

“Well, then, you are bound to entertain her, since she is your choice,
and leave me mine.”

Lucy acquiesced softly.

David, tutored by his sister, now tried to seem interested in her who
came between him and Lucy, and a miserable hand he made of this his
first piece of acting. Luckily for him, Mrs. Bazalgette liked the
sound of her own voice; and his good looks, too, went a long way with
the mature woman. Lucy and Eve sat together at the tea-table; Mr.
Fountain slumbered below; Arthur was in the study, nailed to a novel;
Eve, under a careless exterior, watched intently to find out if Lucy,
under a calm surface, cared for David at all or not, and also watched
for a chance to serve him. She observed a certain languor about the
young lady, but no attempt to take David from the coquette. At last,
however, Lucy did say demurely, “Mr. Dodd seems to appreciate my
aunt.”

“Don’t you think it is rather the other way?”

“That is an insidious question, Miss Dodd. I shall make no admissions;
but I warn you she is a very fascinating woman.”

“My brother is greatly admired by the ladies, too.”

“Oh, since I praised my champion, you have a right to praise yours.
But he will get the worst in that little encounter.”

“Why so?

“Because my sprightly aunt forgets the very names of her conquests
when once she has thoroughly made them.”

“She will never make this one; my brother carries an armor against
coquettes.”

“Ay, indeed; and pray what may that be?” inquired Lucy, a little
quizzingly.

“A true and deep attachment.”

“Ah!”

“And if you will look at him a little closer you will see that he
would be glad to get away from that old flirt; but David is very
polite to ladies.”

Lucy stole a look from under her silken lashes, and it so happened
that at that very moment she encountered a sorrowful glance from David
that said plainly enough, I am obliged to be here, but I long to be
there. She received his glance full in her eyes, absorbed it blandly,
then lowered her lashes a moment, then turned her head with a sweet
smile toward Eve. “I think you said your brother was engaged.”

“No.”

“I misunderstood you, then.”

“Yes.” Eve uttered this monosyllable so dryly that Lucy drew back, and
immediately turned the conversation into chit-chat.

It had not trickled above ten minutes when an exclamation from David
interrupted it. The young ladies turned instinctively, and there was
David flushing all over, and speaking to Mrs. Bazalgette with a
tremulous warmth, that, addressed as it was to a pretty woman, sounded
marvelously like love-making.

Lucy turned her crest round a little haughtily, and shot such a glance
on Eve. Eve read in it a compound of triumph and pique.


David came to Eve one morning with parchments in his hand and a merry
smile. “Eureka!”

“You’re another,” said Eve, as quick as lightning, and upon
speculation.

“I have made Mr. Fountain’s pedigree out,” explained David.

“You don’t say so! won’t he be pleased?”

“Yes. Do you think _she_ will be pleased?”

“Why not? She will look pleased, anyway. I say, don’t you go and tell
them the whole county was owned by the Dodds before Fountain, or
Funteyn, or Font, was ever heard of.”

“Hardly. I have my own weaknesses, my lass; I’ve no need to adopt
another man’s.”

“Bless my soul, how wise you are got! So sudden, too! You shouldn’t
surprise a body like that. Lucky I’m not hysterical. Now let me think,
David--Solomon, I mean--no, you shall keep this discovery back awhile;
it may be wanted.” She then reminded him that the Fountains were
capricious; that they had dropped him for a week, and eight again; if
so, this might be useful to unlock their street door to him at need.

“Good heavens, Eve, what cunning!”

“David, when I have a bad cause in hand, I do one of two things: I
drop it, or I go into it heart and soul. If my zeal offends you, I can
retire from the contest with great pleasure.”

“No! no! no! no! no! If you leave the helm I shall go ashore
directly”--dismay of David; grim satisfaction of his imp.

This matter settled, David asked Eve if she did not think Master
Nelson (Mr. Fountain’s new ward) was a very nice boy.

“Yes; and I see he has taken a wonderful fancy to you.”

“And so have I to him; we have had one or two walks together. He is to
come here at twelve o’clock to-day.”

“Now why couldn’t you have asked me first, David? The painters are
coming into the house to-day; and the paperers, and all, and we can’t
be bothered with mathematics. You must do them at Font Abbey.” Eve was
a little cross. David only laughed at her; but he hesitated about
making a school-house of Font Abbey--it would look like intruding.

“Pooh! nonsense,” said Eve; “they will only be too glad to take
advantage of your good-nature.”

“He is an orphan,” said David, doggedly.

However, the lesson was given at Font Abbey, and after it Master
Nelson came bounding into the drawing-room to the ladies.

“Oh, Lucy, Mr. Dodd is such a beautiful geometrician! He has been
giving me a lesson; he is going to give me one every day. He knows a
great deal more than my last tutor.” On this Master Nelson was
questioned, and revealed that a friendship existed between him and Mr.
Dodd such as girls are incapable of (this was leveled at Lucy); being
cross-examined as to the date of this friendship, he was obliged to
confess that it had only existed four days, but was to last to death.

“But, Arthur,” said Lucy, “will not this take up too much of Mr.
Dodd’s time? I think you had better consult Uncle Fountain before you
make a positive arrangement of the kind.”

“Oh, I have spoken to my guardian about it, and he was _so_
pleased. He said that would save him a mathematical tutor.”

“Oh, then,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, “Mr. Dodd is to teach mathematics
gratis.”

“My friend is a gentleman,” was the timid reply. (Juveniles have a
pomposity all their own, and exquisitely delicious.*) “We read
together because we like one another, and that is why we walk together
and play together; if we were to offer him money he would throw it at
our heads.” Mr. Arthur then relaxed his severity, and, condescending
once more to the familiar, added: “And he has made me a kite on
mathematical principles--such a whacker--those in the shops are no
use; and he has sent his mother’s Bath chair on to the downs, and he
is going to show me the kite draw him ten knots an hour in it--a knot
means a mile, Lucy--so I can’t stay wasting my time here; only, if you
want to see some fun for once in your lives, come on the downs in
about an hour--will you? Oh yes! do come!”

     * Read the Oxford Essays.

“Certainly not,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, sharply.

“Excuse us, dear,” said Lucy in the same breath.

“Well, Lucy,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, “am I wrong about your uncle’s
selfishness! I have tried in vain ever since I came here to make you
see it where _you_ were the only sufferer.”

“Not quite in vain, aunt,” said Lucy sadly; “you have shown me defects
in my poor uncle that I should never have discovered.”

Mrs. Bazalgette smiled grimly.

“Only, as you hate him, and I love him, and always mean to love him,
permit me to call his defects ‘thought-lessness.’ _You_ can apply
the harsh term ‘selfish-ness’ to the most good-natured, kind,
indulgent--oh!”

“Ha! ha! Don’t cry, you silly girl. Thoughtless? a calculating old
goose, who is eternally aiming to be a fox--never says or does
anything without meaning something a mile off. Luckily, his veil is so
thin that everybody sees through it but you. What do you think of his
_thought-less-ness_ in getting a tutor gratis? Poor Mr. Dodd!”

“I will answer for it, it is a pleasure to Mr. Dodd to be of service
to his little friend,” said Lucy, warmly.

“How do you know a bore is a pleasure to Mr. Dodd?”

“Mr. Dodd is a new acquaintance of yours, aunt, but I have had
opportunities of observing his character, and I assure you all this
pity is wasted.”

“Why, Lucy, what did you say to Arthur just now. You are contradicting
_yourself.”_

“What a love of opposition I must have. Are you not tired of in-doors?
Shall we go into the village?”

“No; I exhausted the village yesterday.”

“The garden?”

“No.”

“Well, then, suppose we sketch the church together. There is a good
light.”

“No. Let us go on the downs, Lucy.”

“Why, aunt, it--it is a long walk.”

“All the better.”

“But we said ‘No.’”

“What has that to do with it?”


Arthur was right; the kites that are sold by shops of prey are not
proportioned nor balanced; this is probably in some way connected with
the circumstance that they are made to sell, not fly. The monster
kite, constructed by the light of Euclid, rose steadily into the air
like a balloon, and eventually, being attached to the chair, drew Mr.
Arthur at a reasonable pace about half a mile over a narrow but level
piece of turf that was on the top of the downs. Q.E.D. This done,
these two patient creatures had to wind the struggling monster in, and
go back again to the starting point. Before they had quite achieved
this, two petticoats mounted the hill and moved toward them across the
plateau. At sight of them David thrilled from head to foot, and Arthur
cried, “Oh, bother!” an unjust ejaculation, since it was by his
invitation they came. His alarms were verified. The ladies made
themselves No. 1 directly, and the poor kite became a shield for
flirtation. Arthur was so cross.

At last the B’s desire to occupy attention brought her to the verge of
trouble. Seeing David saying a word to Lucy, she got into the chair,
and went gayly off, drawn by the kite, which Arthur, with a mighty
struggle, succeeded in hooking to the car for her. Now, the plateau
was narrow, and the chair wanted guiding. It was easy to guide it, but
Mrs. Bazalgette did not know how; so it sidled in a pertinacious and
horrid way toward a long and steepish slope on the left side. She
began to scream, Arthur to laugh--the young are cruel, and, I am
afraid, though he stood perfectly neutral to all appearance, his heart
within nourished black designs. But David came flying up at her
screams--just in time. He caught the lady’s shoulders as she glided
over the brow of the slope, and lifted her by his great strength up
out of the chair, which went the next moment bounding and jumping
athwart the hill, and soon rolled over and groveled in rather an ugly
way.

Mrs. Bazalgette sobbed and cried so prettily on David’s shoulder, and
had to be petted and soothed by all hands. Inward composure soon
returned, though not outward, and in due course histrionics commenced.
First the sprain business. None of you do it better, ladies, whatever
you may think. David had to carry her a bit. But she was too wise to
be a bore. Next, the heroic business: _would_ be put down,
_would_ walk, possible or not; _would_ not be a trouble to
her kind friends. Then the martyr smiling through pain. David was very
attentive to her; for while he was carrying her in his arms she had
won his affection, all he could spare from Lucy. Which of you can tell
all the consequences if you go and carry a pretty woman, with her
little insinuating mouth close to your ears?

Lucy and Arthur walked behind. Arthur sighed. Lucy was _reveuse._
Arthur broke silence first. “Lucy!”

“Yes, dear.”

“When is she going?”

“Arthur, for shame! I won’t tell you. To-morrow.”

“Lucy,” said Arthur, with a depth of feeling, “she spoils
everything!!!”


Next morning ---- _come back?_ What for? _I will have the
goodness to tell you what she said in his ear?_ Why, nothing.

_You are a female reader?_ Oh! that alters the case. To attempt
to deceive you would be cowardly, immoral; it would fail. She sighed,
“My preserver!” at which David had much ado not to laugh in her face.
Then she murmured still more softly, “You must come and see me at my
home before you sail--will you not? I insist” (in the tone of a
supplicant), “come, promise me.”

“That I will--with pleasure,” said David, flushing.

“Mind, it is a promise. Put me down. Lucy, come here and make him put
me down. I _will not_ be a burden to my friends.”



CHAPTER VIII.

THAT same evening, Mrs. Bazalgette, being alone with Lucy in the
drawing-room, put her arm round that young lady’s waist, and lovingly,
not seriously, as a man might have been apt to do, reminded her of her
honorable promise--not to be caught in the net of matrimony at Font
Abbey. Lucy answered, without embarrassment, that she claimed no merit
for keeping her word. No one had had the ill taste to invite her to
break it.

“You are either very sly or very blind,” replied Mrs. Bazalgette,
quietly.

“Aunt!” said Lucy, piteously.

Mrs. Bazalgette, who, by many a subtle question and observation during
the last week, had satisfied herself of Lucy’s innocence, now set to
work and laid Uncle Fountain bare.

“I do not speak in a hurry, Lucy; a hint came round to me a fortnight
ago that you had an admirer here, and it turns out to be this Mr.
Talboys.”

“Mr. Talboys?”

“Yes. Does that surprise you? Do you think a young gentleman would
come to Font Abbey three nights in a week without a motive?”

Lucy reflected.

“It is all over the place that you two are engaged.”

Lucy colored, and her eyes flashed with something very like anger, but
she held her peace.

“Ask Jane else.”

“What! take my servant into my confidence?”

“Oh, there is a way of setting that sort of people chattering without
seeming to take any notice. To tell the truth, I have done it for you.
It is all over the village, and all over the house.”

“The proper person to ask must have been Uncle Fountain himself.”

“As if he would have told me the truth.”

“He is a gentleman, aunt, and would not have uttered a falsehood.”

“Doctrine of chivalry! He would have uttered half a dozen in one
minute. Besides, why should I question a person I can read without.
Your uncle, with his babyish cunning that everybody sees through, has
given me the only proof I wanted. He has not had Mr. Talboys here once
since I came.”

“Cunning little aunt! Mr. Talboys happens not to be at home; uncle
told me so himself.”

“Simple little niece, uncle told you a fib; Mr. Talboys is at home.
And observe! until I came to Font Abbey, he was here three times a
week. You admit that. I come; your uncle knows I am not so unobservant
as you, and Mr. Talboys is kept out of sight.”

“The proof that my uncle has deceived me,” said Lucy, coldly, and with
lofty incredulity.

“Read that note from Miss Dodd!”

“What! you in correspondence with Miss Dodd?”

“That is to say, she has thrust herself into correspondence with
me--just like her assurance.”

The letter ran thus:


“DEAR MADAM--My brother requests me to say that, in compliance with
your request, he called at the lodge of Talboys Park, and the people
informed him Mr. Talboys had not left Talboys Park at all since
Easter. I remain yours, etc.”


Lucy was dumfounded.

“I suspected something, Lucy, so I asked Mr. Dodd to inquire.”

“It was a singular commission to send him on.”

“Oh, he takes long walks--cruises, he calls them--and he is so
good-natured. Well, what do you think of your uncle’s veracity now?”

Lucy was troubled and distressed, but she mastered her countenance: “I
think he has sacrificed it for once to his affection for me. I fear
you are right; my eyes are opened to many circumstances. But do--oh,
pray do!--see his goodness in all this.”

“The goodness of a story-teller.”

“He admires Mr. Talboys--he reveres him. No doubt he wished to secure
his poor niece what he thinks a great match, and now you assign ill
motives to him. Yes, I confess he has deviated from truth. Cruel!
cruel! what can you give me in exchange if you rob me of my esteem for
those I love!”

This innocent distress, with its cause, were too deep for a lady whose
bright little intelligence leaned toward cunning rather than wisdom.
In spite of her niece’s trouble, and the brimming eyes that implored
forbearance, she drove the sting, merrily in again and again, till at
last Lucy, who was not defending herself, but an absent friend, turned
a little suddenly on her and said:

“And do you think he says nothing against you?”

“Oh, he is a backbiter, too, is he? I didn’t know he had that vice.
Ah! and, pray, what can he find to say against me?”

“Oh, people that hate one another can always find something
ill-natured to say,” retorted Lucy, with a world of meaning.

Mrs. Bazalgette turned red, and her little nose went up into the air
at an angle of forty-five. She said, with majestic disdain: “I don’t
hate the man--I don’t condescend to hate him.”

“Then don’t condescend to backbite him, dear.”

This home-thrust, coming from such a quarter, took away my Lady
Disdain’s very breath. She sat transfixed; then, upon reflection, got
up a tear, and had to be petted.

This sweet lady departed, flinging down her firebrand on those
hospitable boards.

Lucy, though she had defended her uncle, was not a little vexed that
he had managed matters so as to get her talked of with Mr. Talboys.
Her natural modesty and reserve prevented her from remonstrating; nor
was there any positive necessity. She was one of those young ladies
who seem born mistresses of the art of self-defense. Deriving the art
not from experience, but from instinct, they are as adroit at
seventeen as they are at twenty-seven; so a last year’s bird
constructs her first nest as cunningly as can a veteran feathered
architect.

Therefore, without a grain of discourtesy or tangible ill-temper, she
quietly froze, and a small family with her, they could not tell how or
why, for they had never even suspected this girl’s power. You would
have seemed to them as one that mocketh had you told them they owed
their gayety, their good-humor, their happiness, and their
conversational powers to her.

Of these Talboys suffered the most. She brought him to a stand-still
by a very simple process. She no longer patted or spurred him. To vary
the metaphor, a man that has no current must be stirred or stagnate;
Lucy’s light hand stirred Talboys no more; Talboys stagnated. Mr.
Fountain suffered next in proportion. He began to find that something
was the matter, but what he had no idea. He did not observe that,
though Lucy answered him as kindly as ever, she did not draw him out
as heretofore, far less that she was vexed with him, and on her guard
against him and everybody, like a _maitresse d’armes._ No. “The
days were drawing in. The air was heavy; no carbon in it. Wind in the
east again!!!” etc. So subtle is the influence of these silly little
creatures upon creation’s lords.

Mr. Talboys did not take delicate hints. He continued his visits three
times a week, and the coast was kept clear for him. On this Miss
Fountain proceeded to overt acts of war. She brought a champion on the
scene--a terrible champion--a champion so irresistible that I set any
woman down as a coward who lets him loose upon a sex already so
unequal to the contest as ours. What that champion’s real name is I
have in vain endeavored to discover, but he is _called_
“Headache.” When this terrible ally mingled in the game--on the
Talboys nights--dismay fell upon the wretched males that abode in and
visited the once cheerful, cozy Font Abbey. Messrs. Fountain and
Talboys put their heads together in grave, anxious consultations, and
Arthur vented a yell of remonstrance. He found the lady one afternoon
preparing indisposition. She was leaning languidly back, and the fire
was dying out of her eye, and the color out of her cheek, and the
blinds were drawn down. The poor boy burst in upon this prologue. “Oh,
Lucy,” he cried, in piteous, foreboding tones, “don’t go and have a
headache to-night. It was so jolly till you took to these
_stupid_ headaches.”

“I am so sorry, Arthur,” said Lucy, apologetically, but at bottom she
was inexorable. The disease reached its climax just before dinner. All
remedies failed, and there was nothing for it but to return to her own
room, and read the last new tale of domestic interest--and
principle--until sleep came to her relief.

After dinner Arthur shot out with the retiring servants, and interred
himself in the study, where he sought out with care such wild romances
as give entirely false views of life, and found them, “and so shut up
in measureless content.”--Macbeth.

The seniors consulted at their ease. They both appreciated the painful
phenomenon, but they differed _toto coelo_ as to the cause. Mr.
Fountain ascribed it to the somber influence of Mrs. Bazalgette, and
miscalled her, till Jane’s hair stood on end: she happened to be the
one at the keyhole that night. Mr. Talboys laid all the blame on David
Dodd. The discussion was vigorous, and occupied more than two hours,
and each party brought forward good and plausible reasons; and, if
neither made any progress toward converting the other, they gained
this, at least, that each corroborated himself. Now Mrs. Bazalgette
was gone no direct reprisals on her were possible. Registering a vow
that one day or other he would be even with her, the senior consented,
though not very willingly, to co-operate with his friend against an
imaginary danger. In answer to his remark that the Dodds were never
invited to tea now, Mr. Talboys had replied: “But I find from Mr.
Arthur he visits the house every day on the pretense of teaching him
mathematics--a barefaced pretense--a sailor teach mathematics!” Mr.
Fountain had much ado to keep his temper at this pertinacity in a
jealous dream. He gulped his ire down, however, and said, somewhat
sullenly: “I really cannot consent to send my poor friend’s son to the
University a dunce, and there is no other mathematician near.”

“If I find you one,” said Talboys, hastily, “will you relieve Mr. Dodd
of his labors, and me of his presence?”

“Certainly,” said the other. Poor David!

“Then there is my friend Bramby. He is a second wrangler. He shall
take Arthur, and keep him till Miss Fountain leaves us. Bramby will
refuse me nothing. I have a living in my gift, and the incumbent is
eighty-eight.”

The senior consented with a pitying smile.

“Bramby will take him next week,” said Talboys, severely.

Mr. Fountain nodded his head. It was all the assent he could effect:
and at that moment there passed through him the sacrilegious thought
that the Conqueror must have imported an ass or two among his other
forces, and that one of these, intermarrying with Saxon blood, had
produced a mule, and that mule was his friend.

The same uneasy jealousy, which next week was to expel David from Font
Abbey, impelled Mr. Talboys to call the very next day at one o’clock
to see what was being done under cover of trigonometry. He found Mr.
and Miss Fountain just sitting down to luncheon. David and Arthur were
actually together somewhere, perhaps going through the farce of
geometry. He was half vexed at finding no food for his suspicions.
Presently, so spiteful is chance, the door opened, and in marched
Arthur and David.

“I have made him stay to luncheon for once,” said Arthur; “he couldn’t
refuse me; we are to part so soon.” Arthur got next to Lucy, and had
David on his left. Mr. Talboys gave Mr. Fountain a look, and very soon
began to play his battery upon David.

“How do you naval officers find time to learn geometry?”

“What? don’t you know it is a part of our education, sir?”

“I never heard that before.”

“That is odd; but perhaps you have spent all your life ashore” (this
in commiserating accents). David then politely explained to Mr.
Talboys that a man who looked one day to command a ship must not only
practice seamanship, but learn navigation, and that navigation was a
noble art founded on the exact sciences as well as on practical
experiences; that there did still linger upon the ocean a few of the
old captains, who, born at a period when a ship, in making a voyage,
used to run down her longitude first, and then begin to make her
latitude, could handle a ship well, and keep her off a lee shore _if
they saw it in time,_ but were, in truth, hardly to be trusted to
take her from port to port. “We get a word with these old salts now
and then when we are becalmed alongside, and the questions they put
make us quite feel for them. Then they trust entirely to their
instruments. They can take an observation, but they can’t verify one.
They can tack her and wear her (I have seen them do one when they
should have done the other), and they can read the sky and the water
better than we young ones; and while she floats they stick to her, and
the greater the danger the louder the oaths--but that is all.” He then
assured them with modest fervor that much more than that was expected
of the modern commander, particularly in the two capital articles of
exact science and gentlemanly behavior. He concluded with considerable
grace by apologizing for his enthusiastic view of a profession
that had been too often confounded with the faults of its
professors--faults that were curable, and that they would all, he
hoped, live long enough to see cured. Then, turning to Miss Fountain,
he said: “And if I began by despising my business, and taking a small
view of it, how should I ever hold sticks with my able competitors,
who study it with zeal and admiration?”

Lucy. “I don’t quite understand all you have said, Mr. Dodd,
but that last I think is unanswerable.”

Fountain. “I am sure of it. As the Duke of Wellington said the
other day in the House of Lords, ‘That is a position I defy any noble
lord to assault with success’--haw! ho!”

Mr. Talboys averted his attack. “Pray, sir,” said he, with a sneer,
“may I ask, have nautical commanders a particular taste for education
as well as science?”

“Not that I know of. If you mean me, I am hungry to learn, and I find
few but what can teach me something, and what little I know I am
willing to impart, sir; give and take.”

“It is the direction of your teaching that seems to me so singular.
Mathematics are horrible enough, and greatly to be avoided.”

“That is news to me.”

“On _terra firma,_ I mean.”

At this opening of the case Talboys versus Newton, Arthur
shrugged his shoulders to Lucy and David, and went swiftly out as from
the presence of an idiot. It was abominably rude. But, besides being
ill-natured and a little shallow, Mr. Talboys was drawling out his
words, and Arthur was sixteen--candid epoch, at which affectation in
man or woman is intolerable to us; we get a little hardened to it long
before sixty. Mr. Talboys bit his lip at this boyish impertinence, but
he was too proud a man to notice it otherwise than by quietly
incorporating the offender into his satire. “But the enigma is why you
read them with a stripling, of whose breeding we have just had a
specimen--mathematics with a hob-ba-de-hoy? _Grand Dieu!_ Do pray
tell us, Mr. Dodd, why you come to Font Abbey every day; is it really
to teach Master Orson mathematics and manners?”

David did not sink into the earth as he was intended to.

“I come to teach him algebra and geometry, what little I know.”

“But your motive, Mr. Dodd?”

David looked puzzled, Lucy uneasy at seeing her guest badgered.

“Ask Miss Fountain why she thinks I do my best for Arthur,” said
David, lowering his eyes.

Talboys colored and looked at Fountain.

“I think it must be out of pure goodness,” said Lucy, sweetly.

Mr. Talboys ignored her calmly. “Pray enlighten us, Mr. Dodd. Now what
is the real reason you walk a mile every day to do mathematics with
that interesting and well-behaved juvenile?”

“You are very curious, sir,” said David, grimly, his ire rising
unseen.

“I am--on this point.”

“Well, since you must be told what most men could see without help, it
is--because he is an orphan; and because an orphan finds a brother in
every man that is worth the shoe-leather he stands in. Can ye read the
riddle now, ye lubber?” and David started up haughtily, and, with
contempt and wrath on his face, marched through the open window and
joined his little friend on the lawn, leaving Fountain red with anger
and Talboys white.

The next thing was, Lucy rose and went quietly out of the room by the
door.

“It is the last time he shall set his foot within my door. Provoking
cub!”

“You are convinced at last that he is a dangerous rival?”

“A rival? Nonsense and stuff!!”

“Then why was she so agitated? She went out with tears in her eyes: I
saw them.”

“The poor girl was frightened, no doubt. We don’t have fracases at
Font Abbey. On this one spot of earth comfort reigns, and balmy peace,
and shall reign unruffled while I live. The passions are not admitted
here, sir. Gracious Heaven forbid! I’d as soon see a bonfire in the
middle of my dining-room as Jealousy & Co.”

“In that case you had better exclude the cause.”

“The cause is your imagination, my good friend; but I will give it no
handle. I will exclude David Dodd until she has accepted you in form.”

With this understanding the friends parted.


After dinner that same day Arthur sat in the drawing-room with Lucy.
He was reading, she working placidly. She looked off her work demurely
at him several times. He was absorbed in a flighty romance. “I have
dropped my worsted, Arthur. It is by you.”

Arthur picked the ball up and brought it to her; then back to his
romance, heart and soul. Another sidelong glance at him; then, after a
long silence, “Your book seems very interesting.”

“I’ll fling it against the wall if it does not mind,” was the
infuriated reply. “Here are two fools quarreling, page after page, and
can’t see, or won’t see, what everybody else can see, that it is an
absurd misunderstanding. One word of common sense would put it all
right.”

“Then why not put the book down and talk to me?”

“I can’t. It won’t let me. I must see how long the two fools will go
on not seeing what everybody else sees.”

“Will not the number of volumes tell you that?”

“Signorina, don’t you try to be satirical!” said the sprightly youth;
“you’ll only make a mess of it. What is the use dropping one drop of
vinegar into such a great big honey pot?”

“You are a saucy boy,” retorted Lucy, in tones of gentle approbation.

A long silence.

“Arthur, will you hold this skein for me?”

Arthur groaned.

“Never mind, dear. I will try and manage with a chair.”

“No you won’t, now; there.”

The victim was caught by the hands. But with fatal instinctive
perverseness he sat in silent amazement watching Lucy’s supple white
hand disentangling impossibilities instead of chattering as he was
intended to. Lucy gave a little sigh. Here was a dreadful
business--obliged to elicit the information she had resolved should be
forced upon her.

“By the by, Arthur,” said she, carelessly, “did Mr. Dodd say anything
to you on the lawn?”

“What about?”

“About what was said after you went out so ru--so suddenly.”

“No; why? what was said? Something about me? Tell me.”

“Oh, no, dear; as Mr. Dodd did not mention it, it is not worth while.
You must not move your hands, please.”

“Now, Lucy, that is too bad. It is not fair to excite one’s curiosity
and then stop directly.”

“But it is nothing. Mr. Talboys teased Mr. Dodd a little, that is all,
and Mr. Dodd was not so patient as I have seen him on like occasions.
There, _you_ are disentangled at last.”

“Now, signorina, let us talk sense. Tell me, which do you like best of
all the gentlemen that come here?”

“You, dear; only keep your hands still.”

“None of your chaff, Lucy.”

“Chaff! what is that?”

“Flattery, then. I hope it isn’t that affected fool Talboys, for I
hate hun.”

“I cannot undertake to share your prejudices, Mr. Arthur.”

“Then you actually like him.”

“I don’t dislike him.”

“Then I pity your taste, that is all.”

“Mr. Talboys has many good qualities; and if he was what you describe
him, Uncle Fountain would not prize him as he does.”

“There is something in that, Lucy; but I think my guardian and you are
mad upon just that one point. Talboys is a fool and a snob.”

“Arthur,” said Lucy, severely, “if you speak so of my uncle’s friends,
you and I shall quarrel.”

“You won’t quarrel just now, if you can help it.”

“Won’t I, though? Why not, pray?”

“Because your skein is not wound yet.”

“Oh, you little black-hearted thing!”

“I know human nature, miss,” said the urchin, pompously; “I have read
Miss Edgeworth!!!”

He then made an appeal to her candor and good sense. “Now don’t you
see my friend Mr. Dodd is worth them all put together?”

“I can’t quite see that.”

“He is so noble, so kind, so clever.”

“You must own he is a trifle brusk.”

“Never. And, if he is, that is not like hurting people’s feelings on
purpose, and saying nasty, ill-natured things wrapped up in politeness
that you daren’t say out like a man, or you’d get kicked. He is a
gentleman inside; that Talboys is only one outside; but you girls
can’t look below the surface.”

“We have not read Miss Edgeworth. His hands are not so white as Mr.
Talboys’.”

“Nor his liver, either--oh, you goose! Which has the finest eyes? Why,
you don’t see such eyes as Mr. Dodd’s every day. They are as large as
yours, only his are dark.”

“Don’t be angry, dear. You must admit his voice is very loud.”

“He can make it loud, but it is always low and gentle whenever he
speaks to you. I have noticed that; so that is monstrous ungrateful of
you.”

“There, the skein is wound. Arthur!”

“Well?”

“I have a great mind to tell you something your friend Mr. Dodd said
while you were out of the room--but no, you shall finish your story
first.”

“No, no; hang the story!”

“Ah! you only say that out of politeness. I have taken you from it so
long already.”

The impetuous boy jumped up, seized the volumes, dashed out, and
presently came running back, crying: “There, I have thrown them behind
the bookcase for ever and ever. Now will you tell me what he said?”

Lucy smiled triumphantly. She could relish a bloodless victory over an
inanimate rival. Then she said softly, “Arthur, what I am going to
tell you is in confidence.”

“I will be torn in pieces before I betray it,” said the young
chevalier.

Lucy smiled at his extravagance, then began again very gravely: “Mr.
Talboys, who, with many good qualities, has--what shall I say?--narrow
and artificial views compared with your friend--”

“Ah! now you are talking sense.”

“Then why interrupt me, dear?--began teasing him, and wanting to know
the real reason he comes here.”

“The real reason? What did the fool mean?”

“How can I tell, Arthur, any more than you? Mr. Dodd evidently thought
that some slur was meant on the purity of his friendship for you.”

“Shame! shame! oh!”

“I saw his anger rising; for Mr. Dodd, though not irritable, is
passionate--at least I think so. I tried to smooth matters. But no;
Mr. Talboys persisted in putting this ungenerous question, when all of
a sudden Mr. Dodd burst out, ‘You wish to know why I love Arthur?
Because he is an orphan; and because an orphan finds a brother in
every man who is worth the shoe-leather he stands in. That is all the
riddle, you lubber!!’ It was terribly rude; but oh! Arthur, I must
tell you your friend looked noble; he seemed to swell and rise to a
giant as he spoke, and we all felt such little shrimps around him; and
his lip trembled, and fire flashed from his eyes. How you would have
admired him then; and he swept out of the room, and left us for his
little friend, who is worthy of it all, since he stands up for him
against us all. Arthur! why, he is crying! poor child! and do you
think those words did not go to _my_ heart as well? I am an
orphan, too. Arthur, don’t cry, love! oh! oh! oh!”

Oh, magic of a word from a great heart! Such a word, uncouth and
simple, but hot from a manly bosom, pierced silk and broadcloth as if
they had been calico and fustian, and made a fashionable young lady
and a bold school-boy take hands and cry together. But such sweet
tears dry quickly; they dry almost as they flow.

“Hallo!” cried the mercurial prince; “a sudden thought strikes me. You
kept running him down a minute ago.”

“Me?” said Lucy, with a look of amazement.

“Why, you know you did. Now tell me what was that for.”

“To give you the pleasure of defending him.”

“Oh. Hum? Lucy, you are not quite so simple as the others think;
sometimes I can’t make you out myself.”

“Is it possible? Well, you know what to do, dear.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Why, read Miss Edgeworth over again.”



CHAPTER IX.

ARTHUR was bundled off to a private tutor, and the Dodds invited to
Font Abbey no more, and Talboys dined there three days a week. So far,
David Dodd was in a poor and miserable position compared with Talboys,
who visited Lucy at pleasure, and could close the very street door
against a rival, real or imaginary. But the street door is not the
door of the heart, and David had one little advantage over his
powerful antagonist; it was a slender one, and he owed it to a subtle
source--female tact. His sister had long been aware of Talboys. The
gossip of the village had enlightened her as to his visits and
supposed pretensions. She had deliberately withheld this information
from her brother, for she said to herself: “Men always make
_such_ fools of themselves when they are jealous. No. David
shan’t even know he has got a rival; if he did he would be wretched
and live on thorns, and then he would get into passions, and either
make a fool of himself in her eyes, or do something rash and be shown
to the door.”

Thus far Eve, defending her brother. And with this piece of shrewdness
she did a little more for him than she intended or was conscious of;
for Talboys, either by feeble calculation or instinct of petty
rivalry, constantly sneered at David before Lucy; David never
mentioned Talboys’ name to her. Now superior ignores, inferior
detracts. Thus Talboys lowered himself and rather elevated David;
moreover, he counteracted his own strongest weapon, the street door.
After putting David out of sight, this judicious rival could not let
him fade out of mind too; he found means to stimulate the lady’s
memory, and, as far as in him lay, made the absent present. May all my
foes unweave their webs as cleverly! David knew nothing of this. He
saw himself shut out from Paradise, and he was sad. He felt the loss
of Arthur too. The orphan had been medicine to him. When a man is
absorbed in a hopeless passion, to be employed every day in a good
action has a magical soothing influence on the racked heart. Try this
instead of suicide, despairing lover. It is a quack remedy; no M. D.
prescribes it. Never you mind; in desperate ills a little cure is
worth a deal of etiquette. Poor David had lost this innocent
comfort--lost, too, the pleasure of going every day to the house she
lived in. To be sure, when he used to go he seldom caught a glimpse of
her, but he did now and then, and always enjoyed the hope.

“I see how it is,” said he to Eve one day; “I am not welcome to the
master of the house. Well, he is the master; I shall not force my way
where I am not welcome”; but after these spirited words he hung his
head.

“Oh, nonsense,” said Eve. “It isn’t him. There are mischief-makers
behind.”

“Ay? just you tell me who they are. I’ll teach them to come across my
hawse”; and David’s eyes flashed.

“Don’t you be silly,” said Eve, and turned it off; “and don’t be so
downhearted. Why, you are not half a man.”

“No more I am, Eve. What has come to me?”

“What, indeed? just when everything goes swimmingly.”

“Eve, how can you say so?”

“Why, David, she leaves this in a few days for Mrs. Bazalgette’s
house. You tell me you have got a warm invitation there. Then make the
play there, and, if you can’t win her, say you don’t deserve her,
twiddle your thumb, and see a bolder lover carry her off. You foolish
boy, she is only a woman; she is to be won. If you don’t mind, some
man will show you it was as easy as you think it is hard. Timid wooers
make a mountain of a mole-hill.”

“Why, it is you who have kept me backing and filling all this time,
Eve.”

“Of course. Prudence at first starting, but that isn’t to say courage
is never to come in. First creep within the fortification wall; but,
once inside, if you don’t storm the city that minute, woe be unto you.
Come, cheer up! it is only for a few days, and then she goes where you
will have her all to yourself; besides, you shall have one sweet
delicious evening with her all alone before she goes. What! have you
forgotten the pedigree? Wasn’t I right to keep that back? and now
march and take a good long walk.”

Her tongue was a spur. It made David’s drooping manhood rear and
prance--a trumpet, and pealed victory to come. David kissed her warmly
and strode away radiant. She looked sadly after him.

She had never spoken so hopefully, so encouragingly. The reason will
startle such of my readers as have not taken the trouble to comprehend
her. It was that she had never so thoroughly desponded. Such was Eve.
When matters went smoothly, she itched to torment and take the gloss
off David; but now the affair looked really desperate, so it would
have been unkind not to sustain him with all her soul. The cause of
her despondency and consequent cheerfulness shall now be briefly
related. Scarce an hour ago she had met Miss Fountain in the village
and accompanied her home. For David’s sake she had diverted the
conversation by easy degrees to the subject of marriage, in order to
sound Miss Fountain. “You would never give your hand without your
heart, I am sure.”

“Heaven forbid,” was the reply.

“Not even to a coronet?”

“Not even to a crown.”

So far so good; but Miss Fountain went on to say that the heart was
not the only thing to be consulted in a matter so important as
marriage.

“It is the only thing I would ever consult,” said Eve. As Lucy did not
reply, Eve asked her next what she would do if she loved a poor man.
Lucy replied coldly that it was not her present intention to love
anybody but her relations; that she should never love any gentleman
until she had been married to him, or, correcting herself, at all
events, been some time engaged to him, and she should certainly never
engage herself to anyone who would not rather improve her position in
society than deteriorate it. Eve met these pretty phrases with a look
of contempt, as much as to say, “While you speak I am putting all that
into plain vulgar English.” The other did not seem to notice it. “To
leave this interesting topic for a while,” said she, languidly, “let
me consult you, Miss Dodd. I have not, as you may have noticed, great
abilities, but I have received an excellent education. To say nothing
of those _soi-disant_ accomplishments with which we adorn and
sometimes weary society, my dear mother had me well grounded in
languages and history. Without being eloquent, I have a certain
fluency, in which, they tell me, even members of Parliament are
deficient, smoothly as their speeches read made into English by the
newspapers. Like yourself, Miss Dodd, and all our sex, I am not
destitute of tact, and tact, you know, is ‘the talent of talents.’ I
feel,” here she bit her lip, “myself fit for public life. I am
ambitious.”

“Oh, you are, are you?”

“Very; and perhaps you will kindly tell me how I had best direct that
ambition. The army? No; marching against daisies, and dancing and
flirting in garrison towns, is frivolous and monotonous too. It isn’t
as if war was raging, trumpets ringing, and squadrons charging. Your
brother’s profession? Not for the world; I am a coward” [consistent].
“Shall I lower my pretensions to the learned professions?”

“I don’t doubt your cleverness, but the learned professions?”

“A woman has a tongue, you know, and that is their grand requisite. I
interrupted you, Miss Dodd; pray forgive me.”

“Well, then, let us go through them. To be a clergyman, what is
required? To preach, and visit the sick, and feel for them, and
understand what passes in the sorrowful hearts of the afflicted. Is
that beyond our sex?”

“That last is far more beyond a man at most times; and oh, the
discourses one has to sit out in church!”

“Portia made a very passable barrister, Miss Dodd.”

“Oh, did she?”

“Why, you know she did; and as for medicine, the great successes there
are achieved by honeyed words, with a long word thrown in here and
there. I’ve heard my own mamma say so. Now which shall I be?”

“I suppose you are making fun of me,” said Eve; “but there is many a
true word spoken in jest. You could be a better, parson, lawyer or
doctor than nine out of ten, but they won’t let us. They know we could
beat them into fits at anything but brute strength and wickedness, so
they have shut all those doors in us poor girls’ faces.”

“There; you see,” said Lucy archly, “but two lines are open to our
honorable ambition, marriage and--water-colors. I think marriage the
more honorable of the two; above all, it is the more fashionable. Can
you blame me, then, if my ambition chooses the altar and not the
easel?”

“So that is what you have been bringing me to.”

“You came of your own accord,” was the sly retort. “Let me offer you
some luncheon.”

“No, thank you; I could not eat a morsel just now.”

Eve went away, her bright little face visibly cast down. It was not
Miss Fountain’s words only, and that new trait of hard satire, which
she had so suddenly produced from her secret recesses. Her very tones
were cynical and worldly to Eve’s delicate sense of hearing.

“Poor, poor David!” she thought, and when she got to the door of the
room she sighed; and as she went home she said more than once to
herself, “No more heart than a marble statue. Oh, how true our first
thought is! I come back to mine--”

Lucy (sola). _“Then_ what right had she to come here and
try to turn me inside out?”



CHAPTER X.

As the hour of Lucy’s departure drew near, Mr. Fountain became anxious
to see her betrothed to his friend, for fear of accidents. “You had
better propose to her in form, or authorize me to do so, before she
goes to that Mrs. Bazalgette.” This time it was Talboys that hung
back. He objected that the time was not opportune. “I make no
advance,” said he; “on the contrary, I seem of late to have lost
ground with your niece.”

“Oh, I’ve seen the sort of distance she has put on; all superficial,
my dear sir. I read it in your favor. I know the sex; they can’t elude
me. Pique, sir--nothing on earth but female pique. She is bitter
against us for shilly-shallying. These girls hate shilly-shally in a
man. They are monopolists--severe monopolists; shilly-shally is one of
their monopolies. Throw yourself at her feet, and press her with
ardor; she will clear up directly.” The proposed attitude did not
tempt the stiff Talboys. His pride took the alarm.

“Thank you. It is a position in which I should not care to place
myself unless I was quite sure of not being refused. No, I will not
risk my proposal while she is under the influence of this Dodd; he is,
somehow or other, the cause of her coldness to me.”

“Good heavens! why, she has been hermetically sealed against him ever
so long,” cried Fountain, almost angrily.

“I saw his sister come out of your gate only the other day. Sisters
are emissaries--dangerous ones, too. Who knows? her very coldness may
be vexation that this man is excluded. Perhaps she suspects me as the
cause.”

“These are chimeras--wild chimeras. My niece cares nothing for such
people as the Dodds.”

“I beg your pardon; these low attachments are the strongest. It is a
notorious fact.”

“There is no attachment; there is nothing but civility, and the
affability of a well-bred superior to an inferior. Attachment! why,
there is not a girl in Europe less capable of marrying beneath her;
and she is too cold to flirt---but with a view to matrimonial
position. The worst of it is, that, while you fear an imaginary
danger, you are running into a real one. If we are defeated it will
not be by Dodd, but by that Mrs. Bazalgette. Why, now I think of it,
whence does Lucy’s coldness date? From that viper’s visit to my house.
Rely on it, if we are suffering from any rival influence, it is that
woman’s. She is a dangerous woman--she is a character I detest--she is
a schemer.”

“Am I to understand that Mrs. Bazalgette has views of her own for Miss
Fountain?” inquired Talboys, his jealousy half inclined to follow the
new lead.

“In all probability.”

“Oh, then it is mere surmise.”

“No, it is not mere surmise; it is the reasonable conjecture of a man
who knows her sex, and human nature, and life. Since I have my views,
what more likely than that she has hers, if only to spite me? Add to
this her strange visit to Font Abbey, and the somber influence she has
left behind. And to this woman Lucy is going unprotected by any
positive pledge to you. Here is the true cause for anxiety. And if you
do not share it with me, it must be that you do not care about our
alliance.”

Mr. Talboys was hurt. “Not care for the alliance? It was dear to
him--all the dearer for the difficulties. He was attached to Miss
Fountain--warmly attached; would do anything for her except run the
risk of an affront--a refusal.” Then followed a long discussion, the
result of which was that he would not propose in form now, but
_would_ give proofs of his attachment such as no lady could
mistake; _inter alia,_ he would be sure to spend the last evening
with her, and would ride the first stage with her next day, squeeze
her hand at parting, and look unutterable. And as for the formal
proposal, that was only postponed a week or two. Mr. Fountain was to
pay his visit to Mrs. Bazalgette, and secretly prepare Miss Fountain;
then Talboys would suddenly pounce--and pop. The grandeur and boldness
of this strategy staggered, rather than displeased, Mr. Fountain.

“What! under her own roof?” and he could not help rubbing his hands
with glee and spite--“under her own eye, and _malgre_ her
personal influence? Why, you are Nap. I.”

“She will be quite out of the way of the Dodds there,” said Talboys,
slyly.

The senior groaned. (“‘Mule I.’ I should have said.”)


And so they cut and dried it all.


The last evening came, and with it, just before dinner, a line by
special messenger from Mr. Talboys. “He could not come that evening.
His brother had just arrived from India; they had not met for seven
years. He could not set him to dine alone.”

After dinner, in the middle of her uncle’s nap, in came Lucy, and,
unheard-of occurrence--deed of dreadful note--woke him. She was
radiant, and held a note from Eve. “Good news, uncle; those good, kind
Dodds! they are coming to tea.”

“What?” and he wore a look of consternation. Recollecting, however,
that Talboys was not to be there, he was indifferent again. But when
he read the note he longed for his self-invited visitors. It ran thus:


“DEAR MISS FOUNTAIN--David has found out the genealogy. He says there
is no doubt you came from the Fountains of Melton, and he can prove
it. He has proved it to me, and I am none the wiser. So, as David is
obliged to go away to-morrow, I think the best way is for me to bring
him over with the papers to-night. We will come at eight, unless you
have company.”


“He is a worthy young man,” shouted Mr. Fountain. “What o’clock is
it?”

“Very nearly eight. Oh, uncle, I am so glad. How pleased you will be!”

The Dodds arrived soon after, and while tea was going on David spread
his parchments on the table and submitted his proofs. He had eked out
the other evidence by means of a series of leases. The three fields
that went with Font Abbey had been let a great many times, and the
landlord’s name, Fountain in the latter leases, was Fontaine in those
of remoter date. David even showed his host the exact date at which
the change of orthography took place. “You are a shrewd young
gentleman,” cried Mr. Fountain, gleefully.

David then asked him what were the names of his three meadows. The
names of them? He didn’t know they had any.

“No names? Why, there isn’t a field in England that hasn’t its own
name, sir. I noticed that before I went to sea.” He then told Mr.
Fountain the names of his three meadows, and curious names they were.
Two of them were a good deal older than William the Conqueror. David
wrote them on a slip of paper. He then produced a chart. “What is
that, Mr. David?”

“A map of the Melton estate, sir.”

“Why, how on earth did you get that?”

“An old shipmate of mine lives in that quarter--got him to make it for
me. Overhaul it, sir; you will find the Melton estate has got all your
three names within a furlong of the mansion house.”

“From this you infer--”

“That one of that house came here, and brought the E along with him
that has got dropped somehow since, and, being so far from his
birthplace, he thought he would have one or two of the old names about
him. What will you bet me he hasn’t shot more than one brace of
partridges on those fields about Melton when he was a boy? So he
christened your three fields afresh, and the new names took; likely he
made a point of it with the people in the village. For all that, I
have found one old fellow who stands out against them to this day. His
name is Newel. He will persist in calling the field next to your house
Snap Witcheloe. ‘That is what my grandfather allus named it,’ says he,
‘and that is the name it went by afore there was ever a Fountain in
this ere parish.’ I have looked in the Parish Register, and I see
Newel’s grandfather was born in 1690. Now, sir, all this is not
mathematical proof; but, when you come to add it to your own direct
proofs, that carry you within a cable’s length of Port Fontaine, it is
very convincing; and, not to pay out too much yarn, I’ll bet--my
head--to a China orange--”

“David, don’t be vulgar.”

“Never mind, Mr. Dodd--be yourself.”

“Well, then, to serve Eve out, I’ll bet her head (and that is a better
one than mine) to a China orange that Fontaine and Fountain are one,
and that the first Fontaine came over here from Melton more than one
hundred and thirty years ago, and less than one hundred and forty,
when Newel’s grandfather was a young man.”

_“Probatum est,”_ shouted old Fountain, his eyes sparkling, his
voice trembling with emotion. “Miss Fontaine,” said he, turning to
Lucy, throwing a sort of pompous respect into his voice and manner,
“you shall never marry any man that cannot give you as good a home as
Melton, and quarter as good a coat of arms with you as your own, the
Founteyns’.” David’s heart took a chill as if an ice-arrow had gone
through it. “So join me to thank our young friend here.”

Mr. Fountain held out his hand. David gave his mechanically in return,
scarcely knowing what he did. “You are a worthy and most intelligent
young man, and you have made an old man as happy as a lord,” said the
old gentleman, shaking him warmly.

“And there is my hand, too,” said Lucy, putting out hers with a blush,
“to show you I bear you no malice for being more unselfish and more
sagacious than us all.” Instantly David’s cold chill fled
unreasonably. His cheeks burned with blushes, his eyes glowed, his
heart thumped, and the delicate white, supple, warm, velvet hand that
nestled in his shot electric tremors through his whole frame, when
glided, with well-bred noiselessness, through the open door, Mr.
Talboys, and stood looking yellow at that ardent group, and the
massive yet graceful bare arm stretched across the table, and the
white hand melting into the brown one.


While he stood staring, David looked up, and caught that strange, that
yellow look. Instantly a light broke in on him. “So I should look,”
 felt David, “if I saw her hand in his.” He held Lucy’s hand tight (she
was just beginning to withdraw it), and glared from his seat on the
newcomer like a lion ready to spring. Eve read and turned pale; she
knew what was in the man’s blood.


Lucy now quietly withdrew her hand, and turned with smiling composure
toward the newcomer, and Mr. Fountain thrust a minor anxiety between
the passions of the rivals. He rose hastily, and went to Talboys, and,
under cover of a warm welcome, took care to let him know Miss Dodd had
been kind enough to invite herself and David. He then explained with
uneasy animation what David had done for him.

Talboys received all this with marked coldness; but it gave him time
to recover his self-possession. He shook hands with Lucy, all but
ignored David and Eve, and quietly assumed the part of principal
personage. He then spoke to Lucy in a voice tuned for the occasion, to
give the impression that confidential communication was not unusual
between him and her. He apologized, scarce above a whisper, for not
having come to dinner on her last day.

“But after dinner,” said he, “my brother seemed fatigued. I
treacherously recommended bed. You forgive me? The nabob instantly
acted on my selfish hint. I mounted my horse, and _me voila.”_ In
short, in two minutes he had retaliated tenfold on David. As for Lucy,
she was a good deal amused at this sudden public assumption of a
tenderness the gentleman had never exhibited in private, but a little
mortified at his parade of mysterious familiarity; still, for a
certain female reason, she allowed neither to appear, but wore an air
of calm cordiality, and gave Talboys his full swing.

David, seated sore against his will at another table, whither Mr.
Fountain removed him and parchments on pretense of inspecting the
leases, listened with hearing preternaturally keen--listened and
writhed.

His back was toward them. At last he heard Talboys propose in
murmuring accents to accompany her the first stage of her journey. She
did not answer directly, and that second was an age of anguish to poor
David.

When she did answer, as if to compensate for her hesitation, she said,
with alacrity: “I shall be delighted; it will vary the journey most
agreeably; I will ride the pony you were so kind as to give me.”

The letters swam before David’s eyes.

Lucy came to the table, and, standing close behind David--so close
that he felt her pure cool breath mingle with his hair, said to her
uncle: “Mr. Talboys proposes to me to ride the first stage to-morrow;
if I do, you must be of the party.”

“Oh, must I? Well, I’ll roll after you in my phaeton.”

At this moment Eve could bear no longer the anguish on David’s beloved
face. It made her hysterical. She could hardly command herself. She
rose hastily, and saying, “We must not keep you up the night before a
journey,” took leave with David. As he shook hands with Lucy, his
imploring eye turned full on hers, and sought to dive into her heart.
But that soft sapphire eye was unfathomable. It was like those dark
blue southern waters that seem to reveal all, yet hide all, so deep
they are, though clear.


Eve. “Thank Heaven, we are safe out of the house.”

David. “I have got a rival.”

Eve. “A pretty rival; she doesn’t care a button for him.”

David. “He rides the first stage with her.”

Eve. “Well, what of that?”

David. “I have got a rival.”


David was none of your lie-a-beds. He rose at five in summer, six in
winter, and studied hard till breakfast time; after that he was at
every fool’s service. This morning he did not appear at the breakfast
table, and the servant had not seen him about. Eve ran upstairs full
of anxiety. He was not in his room. The bed had not been slept in; the
impress of his body outside showed, however, that he had flung himself
down on it to snatch an uneasy slumber.

Eve sent the girl into the village to see if she could find him or
hear tidings of him. The girl ran out without her bonnet, partaking
her mistress’s anxiety, but did not return for nearly half an hour,
that seemed an age to Eve. The girl had lost some time by going to
Josh Grace for information. Grace’s house stood in an orchard; so he
was the unlikeliest man in the village to have seen David. She set
against this trivial circumstance the weighty one that he was her
sweetheart, and went to him first.

“I hain’t a-sin him, Sue; thee hadst better ask at the blacksmith’s
shop,” said Joshua Grace.

Susan profited by this hint, and learned at the blacksmith’s shop that
David had gone by up the road about six in the morning, walking very
fast. She brought the news to Eve.

“Toward Royston?”

“Yes, miss; but, la! he won’t ever think to go all the way to
Royston--without his breakfast.”

“That will do, Susan. I think I know what he is gone for.”

On the servant retiring, her assumed firmness left her.

“On the road _she_ is to travel! and his rival with her. What mad
act is he going to do? Heaven have mercy on him, and me, and her!”

Eve knew what was in the man’s blood. She sat trembling at home till
she could bear it no longer. She put on her bonnet, and sallied out on
the road to Royston, determined to stop the carriage, profess to have
business at Royston, and take a seat beside Mr. Fountain. She felt
that the very sight of her might prevent David from committing any
great rashness or folly. On reaching the high road, she observed a
fresh track of narrow wheels, that her rustic experience told her
could only be those of a four-wheeled carriage, and, making inquiries,
she found she was too late; carriage and riders had gone on before.

Her heart sank. Too late by a few minutes; but somehow she could not
turn back. She walked as fast as she could after the gay cavalcade, a
prey to one of those female anxieties we have all laughed at as
extravagant, proved unreasonable, and sometimes found prophetic.

Meantime Lucy and Mr. Talboys cantered gayly along; Mr. Fountain
rolled after in a phaeton; the traveling carriage came last. Lucy was
in spirits; motion enlivens us all, but especially such of us as are
women. She had also another cause for cheerfulness, that may perhaps
transpire. Her two companions and unconscious dependents were governed
by her mood. She made them larks to-day, as she had owls for some
weeks past, last night excepted. She would fall back every now and
then, and let Uncle Fountain pass her; then come dashing up to him,
and either pull up short with a piece of solemn information like an
_aid-de-camp_ from headquarters, or pass him shooting a shaft of
raillery back into his chariot, whereat he would rise with mock fury
and yell a repartee after her. Fountain found himself good
company--Talboys himself. It was not the lady; oh dear no! it never
is.

At last all seemed so bright, and Mr. Talboys found himself so
agreeable, that he suddenly recalled his high resolve not to pop in a
county desecrated by Dodds. “I’ll risk it now,” said he; and he rode
back to Fountain and imparted his intention, and the senior nearly
bounded off his seat. He sounded the charge in a stage whisper,
because of the coachman, “At her at once!”

“Secret conference? hum!” said Lucy, twisting her pony, and looking
slyly back.

Mr. Talboys rejoined her, and, after a while, began in strange,
melodious accents, “You will leave a blank--”

“Shall we canter?” said Lucy, gayly, and off went the pony. Talboys
followed, and at the next hill resumed the sentimental cadence.

“You will leave a sad blank here, Miss Fountain.”

“No greater than I found,” replied the lady, innocently (?). “Oh,
dear!” she cried, with sudden interest, “I am afraid I have dropped my
comb.” She felt under her hat. [No, viper, you have not dropped your
comb, but you are feeling for a large black pin with a head to it.
There, you have found it, and taken it out of your hair, and got it
hid in your hand. What is that for?]

“Ten times greater,” moaned the honeyed Talboys; “for then we had not
seen you. Ah! my dear Miss Fountain--The devil! wo-ho, Goliah!”

For the pony spilled the treacle. He lashed out both heels with a
squeak of amazement within an inch of Mr. Talboys’ horse, which
instantly began to rear, and plunge, and snort. While Talboys, an
excellent horseman, was calming his steed, Lucy was condoling with
hers. “Dear little naughty fellow!” said she, patting him [“I did it
too hard”].

“As I was saying, the blessing we have never enjoyed we do not miss;
but, now that you have shone upon us, what can reconcile us to lose
you, unless it be the hope that--Hallo!”

Lucy. “Ah!”

The pony was off with a bound like a buck. She had found out the right
depth of pin this time. “Ah! where is my whip? I have dropped it; how
careless!” Then they had to ride back for the whip, and by this means
joined Mr. Fountain. Lucy rode by his side, and got the carriage
between her and her beau. By this plan she not only evaded sentiment,
but matured by a series of secret trials her skill with her weapon.
Armed with this new science, she issued forth, and, whenever Mr.
Talboys left off indifferent remarks and sounded her affections, she
probed the pony, and he kicked or bolted as the case might require.

“Confound that pony!” cried Talboys; “he used to be quiet enough.”

“Oh, don’t scold him, dear, playful little love. He carries me like a
wave.”

At this simple sentence Talboys’ dormant jealousy contrived to revive.
He turned sulky, and would not waste any more tenderness, and
presently they rattled over the stones of Royston. Lucy commended her
pony with peculiar earnestness to the ostler. “Pray groom him well,
and feed him well, sir; he is a love.” The ostler swore he would not
wrong her ladyship’s nag for the world.

Lucy then expressed her desire to go forward without delay: “Aunt will
expect me.” She took her seat in the carriage, bade a kind farewell to
both the gentlemen now that no tender answer was possible, and was
whirled away.

Thus the coy virgin eluded the pair.

Now her manner in taking leave of Talboys was so kind, so smiling (in
the sweet consciousness of having baffled him), that Fountain felt
sure it all had gone smoothly. They were engaged.

“Well?” he cried, with great animation.

“No,” was the despondent reply.

“Refused?” screeched the other; “impossible!”

“No, thank you,” was the haughty reply.

“What then? Did you change your mind? Didn’t you propose after all?”

“I _couldn’t._ That d--d pony wouldn’t keep still.”

Fountain groaned.


Lucy, left to herself, gave a little sigh of relief. She had been
playing a part for the last twenty-four hours. Her cordiality with Mr.
Talboys naturally misled Eve and David, and perhaps a male reader or
two. Shall I give the clue? It may be useful to you, young gentlemen.
Well, then, her sex are compounders. Accustomed from childhood never
to have anything entirely their own way, they are content to give and
take; and, these terms once accepted, it is a point of honor and tact
with them not to let a creature see the irksome part of the bargain is
not as delicious as the other. One coat of their own varnish goes over
the smooth and the rough, the bitter and the sweet.

Now Lucy, besides being singularly polite and kind, was _femme
jusqu’ au bout des ongles._ If her instincts had been reasons, and
her vague thoughts could have been represented by anything so definite
as words, the result might have appeared thus:

“A few hours, and you can bore me no more, Mr. Talboys. Now what must
I do for you in return? _Seem not to be bored to-day? Mais c’est la
moindre des choses. Seem to be pleased with your society?_ Why not?
it is only for an hour or two, and my seeming to like it will not
prolong it. My heart swells with happiness at the thought of escaping
from you, good bore; you shall share my happiness, good bore. It is so
kind of you not to bore me to all eternity.”

This was why the last night she sat like Patience on an ottoman
smiling on Talboys and racking David’s heart; and this was why she
made the ride so pleasant to those she was at heart glad to leave,
till they tried sentiment on, and then she was an eel directly, pony
and all.

Lucy (sola). “That is over. Poor Mr. Talboys! Does he fancy he
has an attachment? No; I please and I am courted wherever I go, but I
have never been loved. If a man loved me I should see it in his face,
I should feel it without a word spoken. Once or twice I fancied I saw
it in one man’s eyes: they seemed like a lion’s that turned to a
dove’s as they looked at me.” Lucy closed her own eyes and recalled
her impression: “It must have been fancy. Ought I to wish to inspire
such a passion as others have inspired? No, for I could never return
it. The very language of passion in romances seems so extravagant to
me, yet so beautiful. It is hard I should not be loved, merely because
I cannot love. Many such natures have been adored. I could not bear to
die and not be loved as deeply as ever woman was loved. I must be
loved, adored and worshiped: it would be so sweet--sweet!” She slowly
closed her eyes, and the long lovely lashes drooped, and a celestial
smile parted her lips as she fell into a vague, delicious reverie.
Suddenly the carriage stopped at the foot of a hill. She opened her
eyes, and there stood David Dodd at the carriage window.

Lucy put her head out. “Why, it is Mr. Dodd! Oh, Mr. Dodd, is there
anything the matter?”

“No.”

“You look so pale.”

“Do I?” and he flushed faintly.

“Which way are you going?”

“I am going home again now,” said David, sorrowfully.

“You came all this way to bid me good-by,” and she arched her eyebrows
and laughed--a little uneasily.

“It didn’t seem a step. It will seem longer going back.”

“No, no, you shall ride back. My pony is at the White Horse; will you
not ride my pony back for me? then I shall know he will be kindly
used; a stranger would whip him.”

“I should think my arm would wither if I ill-used him.”

“You are very good. I suppose it is because you are so brave.”

“Me brave? I don’t feel so. Am I to tell him to drive on?” and he
looked at her with haggard and imploring eyes.

Her eyes fell before his.

“Good-by, then,” said she.

He cried with a choking voice to the postilion, “Go ahead.”

The carriage went on and left him standing in the road, his head upon
his breast.


At the steepest part of the hill a trace broke, and the driver drew
the carriage across the hill and shouted to David. He came running up,
and put a large stone behind each wheel.

Lucy was alarmed. “Mr. Dodd! let me out.”

He handed her out. The postboy was at a _nonplus;_ but David
whipped a piece of cord and a knife out of his pocket, and began, with
great rapidity and dexterity, to splice the trace.

“Ah! now you are pleased, Mr. Dodd; our misfortune will elicit your
skill in emergencies.”

“Oh, no, it isn’t that; it is--I never hoped to see you again so
soon.”

Lucy colored, and her eyes sought the ground; the splice was soon
made.

“There!” said David; “I could have spent an hour over it; but you
would have been vexed, and the bitter moment must have come at last.”


“God bless you, Miss Fountain--oh! mayn’t I say Miss Lucy to-day?” he
cried, imploringly.

“Of course you may,” said Lucy, the tears rising in her eyes at his
sad face and beseeching look. “Oh, Mr. Dodd, parting with those we
esteem is always sad enough; I got away from the door without
crying--for once; don’t _you_ make me cry.”

“Make you cry?” cried David, as it he had been suspected of
sacrilege; “God forbid!” He muttered in a choking voice, “You give the
word of command, for I can’t.”

“You can go on,” said her soft, clear voice; but first she gave David
her hand with a gentle look--“Good-by.”

But David could not speak to her. He held her hand tight in both his
powerful hands. They seemed iron to her--shaking, trembling, grasping
iron. The carriage went slowly on, and drew her hand away. She shrank
into a corner of the carriage; he frightened her.

He followed the carriage to the brow of the hill, then sat down upon a
heap of stones, and looked despairingly after it.


Meantime Lucy put her head in her hands and blushed, though she was
all alone. “How dare he forget the distance between us? Poor fellow!
have not I at times forgotten it? I am worse than he. I lost my
self-possession; I should have checked his folly; he knows nothing of
_les convenances._ He has hurt my hand, he is so rough; I feel
his clutch now; there, I thought so, it is all red--poor fellow!
Nonsense! he is a sailor; he knows nothing of the world and its
customs. Parting with a pleasant acquaintance forever made him a
little sad.

“He is all nature; he is like nobody else; he shows every feeling
instead of concealing it, that is all. He has gone home, I hope.” She
glanced hastily back. He was sitting on the stones, his arms drooping,
his head bowed, a picture of despondency. She put her face in her
hands again and pondered, blushing higher and higher. Then the pale
face that had always been ruddy before, the simple grief and
agitation, the manly eye that did not know how to weep, but was so
clouded and troubled, and wildly sad; the shaking hands, that had
clutched hers like a drowning man’s (she felt them still), the
quivering features, choked voice, and trembling lip, all these
recoiled with double force upon her mind: they touched her far more
than sobs and tears would have done, her sex’s ready signs of shallow
grief.

Two tears stole down her cheeks.

“If he would but go home and forget me!” She glanced hastily back.
David was climbing up a tree, active as a cat. “He is like nobody
else--he! he! Stay! is that to see the last of me--the very last? Poor
soul! Madman, how will this end? What can come of it but misery to
him, remorse to me?

“This is love.” She half closed her eyes and smiled, repeating, “This
is love.

“Oh how I despise all the others and their feeble flatteries!”

“Heaven forgive me my mad, my wicked wish!

“I _am_ beloved.

“I am adored.

“I am miserable!”


As soon as the carriage was out of sight, David came down and hurried
from the place. He found the pony at the inn. The ostler had not even
removed his saddle.

           “Methought that ostler did protest too much.”

David kissed the saddle and the pommels, and the bridle her hand had
held, and led the pony out. After walking a mile or two he mounted the
pony, to sit in her seat, not for ease. Walking thirty miles was
nothing to this athlete; sticking on and holding on with his chin on
his knee was rather fatiguing.

Meantime, Eve walked on till she was four miles from home. No David.
She sat down and cried a little space, then on again. She had just
reached an angle in the road, when--clatter, clatter--David came
cantering around with his knee in his mouth. Eve gave a joyful scream,
and up went both her hands with sudden delight. At the double shock to
his senses the pony thought his end was come, and perhaps the world’s.
He shied slap into the hedge and stuck there--alone; for, his rider
swaying violently the reverse way, the girths burst, the saddle peeled
off the pony’s back, and David sat griping the pommel of the saddle in
the middle of the road at Eve’s feet, looking up in her face with an
uneasy grin, while dust rose around him in a little column. Eve
screeched, and screeched, and screeched; then fell to, with a face as
red as a turkey-cock’s, and beat David furiously, and hurt--her little
hands.

David laughed. This incident did him good--shook him up a bit. The
pony groveled out of the ditch and cantered home, squeaking at
intervals and throwing his heels.

David got up, hoisted the side saddle on to his square shoulders, and,
keeping it there by holding the girths, walked with Eve toward Font
Abbey. She was now a little ashamed of her apprehensions; and,
besides, when she leathered David, she was, in her own mind, serving
him out for both frights. At all events, she did not scold him, but
kindly inquired his adventures, and he told her what he had done and
said, and what Miss Fountain had said.

The account disappointed Eve. “All this is just a pack of nothing,”
 said she. “It is two lovers parting, or it is two common friendly
acquaintances; all depends on how it was done, and that you don’t tell
me.” Then she put several subtle questions as to the looks, and tones
and manner of the young lady. David could not answer them. On this she
informed him he was a fool.

“So I begin to think,” said he.

“There! be quiet,” said she, “and let me think it over.”

“Ay! ay!” said he.

While he was being quiet and letting her think a carriage came rapidly
up behind them, with a horseman riding beside it; and, as the
pedestrians drew aside, an ironical voice fell upon them, and the
carriage and horseman stopped, and floured, them with dust.


Messrs. Talboys and Fountain took a stroll to look at the new jail
that was building in Royston, and, as they returned, Talboys, whose
wounded pride had now fermented, told Mr. Fountain plainly that he saw
nothing for it but to withdraw his pretensions to Miss Fountain.

“My own feelings are not sufficiently engaged for me to play the
up-hill game of overcoming her disinclination.”

“Disinclination? The mere shyness of a modest girl. If she was to be
‘won unsought,’ she would not be worthy to be Mrs. Talboys.”

“Her worth is indisputable,” said Mr. Talboys, “but that is no reason
why I should force upon her my humble claims.”

The moment his friend’s pride began to ape humility, Fountain saw the
wound it had received was incurable. He sighed and was silent.
Opposition would only have set fire to opposition.

They went home together in silence. On the road Talboys caught sight
of a tall gentleman carrying a side-saddle, and a little lady walking
beside him. He recognized his _bete noir_ with a grim smile. Here
at least was one he had defeated and banished from the fair. What on
earth was the man doing? Oh, he had been giving his sister a ride on a
donkey, and they had met with an accident. Mr. Talboys was in a humor
for revenge, so he pulled up, and in a somewhat bantering voice
inquired where was the steed.

“Oh, he is in port by now,” said David.

“Do you usually ease the animal of that part of his burden, sir?”

“No,” said David, sullenly.

Eve, who hated Mr. Talboys, and saw through his sneers, bit her lip
and colored, but kept silence.

But Mr. Talboys, unwarned by her flashing eye, proceeded with his
ironical interrogatory, and then it was that Eve, reflecting that both
these gentlemen had done their worst against David, and that
henceforth the battlefield could never again be Font Abbey, decided
for revenge. She stepped forward like an airy sylph, between David and
his persecutor, and said, with a charming smile, “I will explain,
sir.”

Mr. Talboys bowed and smiled.

“The reason my brother carries this side-saddle is that it belongs to
a charming young lady--you have some little acquaintance with
her--Miss Fountain.”

“Miss Fountain!” cried Talboys, in a tone from which all the irony was
driven out by Eve’s coup.

“She begged David to ride her pony home; she would not trust him to
anybody else.”

“Oh!” said Talboys, stupefied.

“Well, sir, owing to--to--an accident, the saddle came off, and the
pony ran home; so then David had only her saddle to take care of for
her.”

“Why, we escorted Miss Fountain to Royston, and we never saw Mr.
Dodd.”

“Ay, but you did not go beyond Royston,” said Eve, with a cunning air.

“Beyond Royston? where? and what was he doing there? Did he go all
that way to take her orders about her pony?” said Talboys, bitterly.

“Oh, as to that you must excuse me, sir,” cried Eve, with a scornful
laugh; “that is being too inquisitive. Good-morning”; and she carried
David off in triumph.

The next moment Mr. Talboys spurred on, followed by the phaeton.
Talboys’ face was yellow.

_“La langue d’une femme est son epee.”_

“Sheer off and repair damages, you lubber,” said David, dryly, “and
don’t come under our guns again, or we shall blow you out of the
water. Hum! Eve, wasn’t your tongue a little too long for your teeth
just now?”

“Not an inch.”

“She might be vexed; it is not for me to boast of her kindness.”

“Temper won’t let a body see everything. I’ll tell you what I have
done, too--I’ve declared war.”

“Have you? Then run the Jack up to the mizzen-top, and let us fight it
out.”

“That is the way to look at it, David. Now don’t you speak to me till
we get home; let me think.”

At the gate of Font Abbey, they parted, and Eve went home. David came
to the stable yard and hailed, “Stable ahoy!” Out ran a little
bandy-legged groom. “The craft has gone adrift,” cried David, “but
I’ve got the gear safe. Stow it away”; and as he spoke he chucked the
saddle a distance of some six yards on to the bandy-legged groom, who
instantly staggered back and sank on a little dunghill, and there sat,
saddled, with two eyes like saucers, looking stupefied surprise
between the pommels.

“It is you for capsizing in a calm,” remarked David, with some
surprise, and went his way.


“Well, Eve, have you thought?”

“Yes, David, I was a little hasty; that puppy would provoke a saint.
After all there is no harm done; they can’t hurt us much now. It is
not here the game will be played out. Now tell me, when does your ship
sail?”

“It wants just five weeks to a day.”

“Does she take up her passengers at ---- as usual?”

“Yes, Eve, yes.”

“And Mrs. Bazalgette lives within a mile or two of ----. You have a
good excuse for accepting her invitation. Stay your last week in her
house. There will be no Talboys to come between you. Do all a man can
do to win her in that week.”

“I will.”

“And if she says ‘No,’ be man enough to tear her out of your heart.”

“I can’t tear her out of my heart, but I will win her. I must win her.
I can’t live without her. A month to wait!”


Mr. Talboys. “Well, sir, what do you say now?”

Mr. Fountain (hypocritically). “I say that your sagacity was
superior to mine; forgive me if I have brought you into a mortifying
collision. To be defeated by a merchant sailor!” He paused to see the
effect of his poisoned shaft.

Talboys. “But I am not defeated. I will not be defeated. It is
no longer a personal question. For your sake, for her sake, I must
save her from a degrading connection. I will accompany you to Mrs.
Bazalgette’s. When shall we go?”

“Well, not immediately; it would look so odd. The old one would smell
a rat directly. Suppose we say in a month’s time.”

“Very well; I shall have a clear stage.”

“Yes, and I shall then use all my influence with her. Hitherto I have
used none.”

“Thank you. Mr. Dodd cannot penetrate there, I conclude.”

“Of course not.”

“Then she will be Mrs. Talboys.”

“Of course she will.”


Lucy sighed a little over David’s ardent, despairing passion, and his
pale and drawn face. Her woman’s instinct enabled her to comprehend in
part a passion she was at this period of her life incapable of
feeling, and she pitied him. He was the first of her admirers she had
ever pitied. She sighed a little, then fretted a little, then
reproached herself vaguely. “I must have been guilty of some
imprudence--given some encouragement. Have I failed in womanly
reserve, or is it all his fault? He is a sailor. Sailors are like
nobody else. He is so simple-minded. He sees, no doubt, that he is my
superior in all sterling qualities, and that makes him forget the
social distance between him and me. And yet why suspect him of
audacity? Poor fellow, he had not the courage to _say_ anything
to me, after all. No; he will go to sea, and forget his folly before
he comes back.” Then she had a gust of egotism. It was nice to be
loved ardently and by a hero, even though that hero was not a
gentleman of distinction, scarcely a gentleman at all. The next moment
she blushed at her own vanity. Next she was seized with a sense of the
great indelicacy and unpardonable impropriety of letting her mind run
at all upon a person of the other sex; and shaking her lovely
shoulders, as much as to say, “Away idle thoughts,” she nestled and
fitted with marvelous suppleness into a corner of the carriage, and
sank into a sweet sleep, with a red cheek, two wet eyelashes, and a
half-smile of the most heavenly character imaginable. And so she
glided along till, at five in the afternoon, the carriage turned in at
Mr. Bazalgette’s gates. Lucy lifted her eyes, and there was quite a
little group standing on the steps to receive her, and waving welcome
to the universal pet. There was Mr. Bazalgette, Mrs. Bazalgette, and
two servants, and a little in the rear a tall stranger of
gentleman-like appearance.

The two ladies embraced one another so rapidly yet so smoothly, and so
dovetailed and blended, that they might be said to flow together, and
make one in all but color, like the Saone and the Rhone. After half a
dozen kisses given and returned with a spirit and rapidity from which,
if we male spectators of these ardent encounters were wise, we might
slyly learn a lesson, Aunt Bazalgette suddenly darted her mouth at
Lucy’s ear, and whispered a few words with an animation that struck
everybody present. Lucy smiled in reply. After “the meeting of the
muslins,” Mr. Bazalgette shook hands warmly, and at last Lucy was
introduced to his friend Mr. Hardie, who expressed in courteous terms
his hopes that her journey had been a pleasant one.


The animated words Mrs. Bazalgette whispered into Lucy’s ear at that
moment of burning affection were as follows:

“You have had it washed!”


Lucy (unpacking her things in her bedroom). “Who is Mr. Hardie,
dear?”

“What! don’t you know? Mr. Hardie is the great banker.”

“Only a banker? I should have taken him for something far more
distinguished. His manner is good. There is a suavity without
feebleness or smallness.”

Mrs. Bazalgette’s eye flashed, but she answered with apparent
nonchalance: “I am glad you like him; you will take him off my hands
now and then. He must not be neglected; Bazalgette would murder us.
_Apropos,_ remind me to ask him to tell you Mr. Hardie’s story,
and how he comes to be looked up to like a prince in this part of the
world, though he is only a banker, with only ten thousand a year.”

“You make me quite curious, aunt. Cannot you tell me?”

“Me? Oh, dear, no! Paper currency, foreign loans, government
securities, gold mines, ten per cents, Mr. Peel, and why _one_
breaks and _another_ doesn’t! all that is quite beyond me.
Bazalgette is your man. I had no idea your mousseline-delame would
have washed so well. Why, it looks just out of the shop; it--” Come
away, reader, for Heaven’s sake!



CHAPTER XI.

THE man whom Mr. Bazalgette introduced so smoothly and off-hand to
Lucy Fountain exercised a terrible influence over her life, as you
will see by and by. This alone would make it proper to lay his
antecedents before the reader. But he has independent claims to this
notice, for he is a principal figure in my work. The history of this
remarkable man’s fortune is a study. The progress of his mind is
another, and its past as well as its future are the very corner-stone
of that capacious story which I am now building brick by brick, after
my fashion where the theme is large. I invite my reader, therefore, to
resist the natural repugnance which delicate minds feel to the ring of
the precious metals, and for the sake of the coming story to accompany
me into AN OLD BANK.

The Hardies were goldsmiths in the seventeenth century; and when that
business split, and the deposit and bill-of-exchange business went one
way, and the plate and jewels another, they became bankers from father
to son. A peculiarity attended them; they never broke, nor even
cracked. Jew James Hardie conducted for many years a smooth,
unostentatious and lucrative business. It professed to be a bank of
deposit only, and not of discount. This was not strictly true. There
never was a bank in creation that did not discount under the rose,
when the paper represented commercial effects, and the indorsers were
customers and favorites. But Mr. Hardie’s main business was in
deposits bearing no interest. It was of that nature known as “the
legitimate banking business,” a title not, I think, invented by the
customers, since it is a system destitute of that reciprocity which is
the soul of all just and legitimate commercial relations.

You shall lend me your money gratis, and I will lend it out at
interest: such is legitimate banking--in the opinion of bankers.

This system, whose decay we have seen, and whose death my young
readers are like to see, flourished under old Hardie, green--as the
public in whose pockets its roots were buried.

Country gentlemen and noblemen, and tradesmen well-to-do, left
floating balances varying from seven, five, three thousand pounds,
down to a hundred or two, in his hands. His art consisted in keeping
his countenance, receiving them with the air of a person conferring a
favor, and investing the bulk of them in government securities, which
in that day returned four and five per cent. As he did not pay one
shilling for the use of the capital, he pocketed the whole interest. A
small part of the aggregate balance was not invested, but remained in
the bank coffers as a reserve to meet any accidental drain. It was a
point of honor with the squires and rectors, who shared their incomes
with him in a grateful spirit, never to draw their balances down too
low; and more than once in this banker’s career a gentleman has
actually borrowed money for a month or two of the bank at four per
cent, rather than exhaust his deposit, or, in other words, paid his
debtor interest for the temporary use of his own everlasting property.
Such capitalists are not to be found in our day; they may reappear at
the Millennium.

The banker had three clerks; one a youth and very subordinate, the
other two steady old men, at good salaries, who knew the affairs of
the bank, but did not chatter them out of doors, because they were
allowed to talk about them to their employer; and this was a vent. The
tongue must have a regular vent or random explosions--choose! Besides
the above compliment paid to years of probity and experience, the
ancient _regime_ bound these men to the interest and person of
their chief by other simple customs now no more.

At each of the four great festivals of the Church they dined with Mr.
and Mrs. Hardie, and were feasted and cordially addressed as equals,
though they could not be got to reply in quite the same tone. They
were never scorned, but a peculiar warmth of esteem and friendship was
shown them on these occasions. One reason was, the old-fangled banker
himself aspired to no higher character than that of a man of business,
and were not these clerks men of business good and true? his staff,
not his menials?

And since I sneered just now at a vital simplicity, let me hasten to
own that here, at least, it was wise, as well as just and worthy.
Where men are forever handling heaps of money, it is prudent to
fortify them doubly against temptation--with self-respect, and a
sufficient salary.

It is one thing not to be led into temptation (accident on which half
the virtue in the world depends), another to live in it and overcome
it; and in a bank it is not the conscience only that is tempted, but
the senses. Piles of glittering gold, amiable as Hesperian fruit;
heaps of silver paper, that seem to whisper as they rustle, “Think how
great we are, yet see how little; we are fifteen thousand pounds, yet
we can go into your pocket; whip us up, and westward ho! If you have
not the courage for that, at all events wet your finger; a dozen of us
will stick to it. That pen in your hand has but to scratch that book
there, and who will know? Besides, you can always put us back, you
know.”

Hundreds and thousands of men take a share in the country’s public
morality, legislate, build churches, and live and die respectable, who
would be jail-birds sooner or later if their sole income was the pay
of a banker’s clerk, and their eyes, and hands, and souls rubbed daily
against hundred-pound notes as his do. I tell you it is a temptation
of forty-devil power.

Not without reason, then, did this ancient banker bestow some respect
and friendship on those who, tempted daily, brought their hands pure,
Christmas after Christmas, to their master’s table. Not without reason
did Mrs. Hardie pet them like princes at the great festivals, and
always send them home in the carriage as persons their entertainers
delighted to honor. Herein I suspect she looked also, woman-like, to
their security; for they were always expected to be solemnly, not
improperly, intoxicated by the end of supper; no wise fuddled, but
muddled; for the graceful superstition of the day suspected severe
sobriety at solemnities as churlish and ungracious.

The bank itself was small and grave, and a trifle dingy, and bustle
there was none in it; but if the stream of business looked sluggish
and narrow, it was deep and quietly incessant, and tended all one
way--to enrich the proprietor without a farthing risked.

Old Hardie had sat there forty years with other people’s money
overflowing into his lap as it rolled deep and steady through that
little counting-house, when there occurred, or rather recurred, a
certain phenomenon, which comes, with some little change of features,
in a certain cycle of commercial changes as regularly as the month of
March in the year, or the neap-tides, or the harvest moon, but,
strange to say, at each visit takes the country by surprise.



CHAPTER XII.

THE nation had passed through the years of exhaustion and depression
that follow a long war; its health had returned, and its elastic vigor
was already reviving, when two remarkable harvests in succession, and
an increased trade with the American continent, raised it to
prosperity. One sign of vigor, the roll of capital, was wanting;
speculation was fast asleep. The government of the day seems to have
observed this with regret. A writer of authority on the subject says
that, to stir stagnant enterprise, they directed “the Bank of England
to issue about four millions in advances to the state and in enlarged
discounts.” I give you the man’s words; they doubtless carry a
signification to you, though they are jargon in a fog to me. Some
months later the government took a step upon very different motives,
which incidentally had a powerful effect in loosening capital and
setting it in agitation. They reduced to four per cent the Navy Five
per Cents, a favorite national investment, which represented a capital
of two hundred millions. Now, when men have got used to five per cent
from a certain quarter, they cannot be content with four, particularly
the small holders; so this reduction of the Navy Five per Cents
unsettled several thousand capitalists, and disposed them to search
for an investment. A flattering one offered itself in the nick of
time. Considerable attention had been drawn of late to the mineral
wealth of South America, and one or two mining companies existed, but
languished in the hands of professed speculators. The public now broke
like a sudden flood into these hitherto sluggish channels of
enterprise, and up went the shares to a high premium.

Almost contemporaneously, numerous joint-stock companies were formed,
and directed toward schemes of internal industry. The small
capitalists that had sold out of the Navy Five per Cents threw
themselves into them all, and being bona fide speculators, drew
hundreds in their train. Adventure, however, was at first restrained
in some degree by the state of the currency. It was low, and rested on
a singularly sound basis. Mr. Peel’s Currency Bill had been some
months in operation; by its principal provision the Bank of England
was compelled on and after a certain date to pay gold for its notes on
demand. The bank, anticipating a consequent rush for gold, had
collected vast quantities of sovereigns, the new coin; but the rush
never came, for a mighty simple reason. Gold is convenient in small
sums, but a burden and a nuisance in large ones. It betrays its
presence and invites robbers; it is a bore to lug it about, and a
fearful waste of golden time to count it. Men run upon gold only when
they have reason to distrust paper. But Mr. Peel’s Bill, instead of
damaging Bank of England paper, solidified it, and gave the nation a
just and novel confidence in it. Thus, then, the large hoard of gold,
fourteen to twenty millions, that the caution of the bank directors
had accumulated in their coffers, remained uncalled for. But so large
an abstraction from the specie of the realm contracted the provincial
circulation. The small business of the country moved in fetters, so
low was the metal currency. The country bankers petitioned government
for relief, and government, listening to representations that were no
doubt supported by facts, and backed by other interests, tampered with
the principle of Mr. Peel’s Bill, and allowed the country bankers to
issue 1 pound and 2 pound notes for eleven years to come.

To this step there were but six dissentients in the House of Commons,
so little was its importance seen or its consequences foreseen. This
piece of inconsistent legislation removed one restraint, irksome but
salutary, from commercial enterprise at a moment when capital was
showing some signs of a feverish agitation. Its immediate consequences
were very encouraging to the legislator; the country bankers sowed the
land broadcast with their small paper, and this, for the cause above
adverted to, took _pro tem._ the place of gold, and was seldom
cashed at all except where silver was wanted. On this enlargement of
the currency the arms of the nation seemed freed, enterprise shot
ahead unshackled, and unwonted energy and activity thrilled in the
veins of the kingdom. The rise in the prices of all commodities which
followed, inevitable consequence of every increase in the currency,
whether real or fictitious, was in itself adverse to the working
classes; but the vast and numerous enterprises that were undertaken,
some in the country itself, some in foreign parts, to which English
workmen were conveyed, raised the price of labor higher still in
proportion; so no class was out of the sun.

Men’s faces shone with excitement and hope. The dormant hordes of
misers crept out of their napkins and sepulchral strong-boxes into the
warm air of the golden time. The mason’s chisel chirped all over the
kingdom, and the shipbuilders’ * hammers rang all round the coast; corn
was plenty, money became a drug, labor wealth, and poverty and
discontent vanished from the face of the land. Adventure seemed all
wings, and no lumbering carcass to clog it. New joint-stock companies
were started in crowds as larks rise and darken the air in winter;**
hundreds came to nothing, but hundreds stood, and of these nearly all
reached a premium, small in some cases, high in most, fabulous in
some; and the ease with which the first calls for cash on the
multitudinous shares were met argued the vast resources that had
hitherto slumbered in the nation for want of promising investments
suited to the variety of human likings and judgments. The mind can
hardly conceive any species of earthly enterprise that was not fitted
with a company, oftener with a dozen, and with fifty or sixty where
the proposed road to metal was direct. Of these the mines of Mexico
still kept the front rank, but not to the exclusion of European,
Australian and African ore.

     * Two hundred new vessels are said to have been laid on the
     stocks in one year.

     ** In two years 624 new companies were projected.

That masterpiece of fiction, “the Prospectus,” * diffused its gorgeous
light far and near, lit up the dark mine, and showed the minerals
shining and the jewels peeping; shone broad over the smiling fields,
soon to be plowed, reaped, and mowed by machinery; and even illumined
the depths of the sea, whence the buried treasures of ancient and
modern times were about to be recovered by the Diving-bell Company.

     * There is a little unlicked anonymuncule going scribbling
     about, whose creed seems to be that a little camel, to be
     known, must be examined and compared with other quadrupeds,
     but that the great arts can be judged out of the depths of a
     penny-a-liner’s inner consciousness, and to be rated and
     ranked need not be compared _inter se._ Applying the
     microscope to the method of the novelist, but diverting the
     glass from the learned judge’s method in Biography, the
     learned historian’s method in History, and the daily
     chronicler’s method in dressing _res gestoe_ for a journal,
     this little addle-pate has jumped to a comparative estimate,
     not based on comparison, so that all his blindfold
     vituperation of a noble art is chimera, not reasoning; it
     is, in fact, a retrograde step in science and logic. This is
     to evade the Baconian method, humble and wise, and crawl
     back to the lazy and self-confident system of the ancients,
     that kept the world dark so many centuries. It is [Greek]
     versus Induction. “[Greek],” ladies, is “divination by means
     of an ass’s skull.” A pettifogger’s skull, however, will
     serve the turn, provided that pettifogger has been bitten
     with an insane itch for scribbling about things so
     infinitely above his capacity as the fine arts. Avoid this
     sordid dreamer, and follow, in letters as in science, the
     Baconian method! Then you will find that all uninspired
     narratives are more or less inexact, and that one, and one
     only, Fiction proper, has the honesty to antidote its errors
     by professing inexactitude. You will find that the
     Historian, Biographer, Novelist, and Chronicler are all
     obliged _to paint upon their data_ with colors the
     imagination alone can supply, and all do it--alive or dead.
     You will find that Fiction, as distinguished from neat
     mendacity, has not one form upon earth, but a dozen. You
     will find the most habitually, willfully, and inexcusably
     inaccurate, with the means of accuracy under its nose, that
     form of fiction called “anonymous criticism,” political and
     literary; the most equivocating, perhaps, is the
     “imaginavit,” better known at Lincoln’s Inn as the
     “affidavit.” In the article of exaggeration, the mildest and
     tamest are perhaps History and the Novel, the boldest and
     most sparkling is the Advertisement, but the grandest,
     ablest, most gorgeous and plausibly exaggerating is surely
     the grave commercial prospectus, drawn up and signed by
     potent, grave and reverend seniors, who fear God, worship
     Mammon, revere big wigs right or wrong, and never read
     romances.

One mine was announced with a “vein of ore as pure and solid as a tin
flagon.”

In another the prospectus offered mixed advantages. The ore lay in so
romantic a situation, and so thick, that the eye could be regaled with
a heavenly landscape, while the foot struck against neglected lumps of
gold weighing from two pounds to fifty.

This put the Bolanos mine on its mettle, and it announced, “not mines,
but mountains of silver.” Here, then, men might chip metal instead of
painfully digging it. With this, up went the shares till they reached
500 premium.


     Tialpuxahua was done at 199 premium.
     Anglo Mexican  10 pounds paid, went to 158 pounds premium.
     United Mexican 10   “      “ ,     “   155 pounds   ”
      Columbian      10   “      “ ,     “    82 pounds   ”


But the Real del Monte, a mine of longer standing, on which 70 pounds
was paid up, went to 550 premium, and at a later period, for I am not
following the actual sequence of events, reached the enormous height
of 1350 premium.

The Prospectus of the Equitable Loan Company lamented in paragraph one
the imposition practiced on the poor, and denounced the pawnbrokers’
15 per cent. In paragraph four it promised 40 per cent to its
shareholders.

Philanthropy smiled in the heading, and Avarice stung in the tail. No
wonder a royal duke and other good names figured in this concern.
Another eloquent sheet appealed to the national dignity. Should a
nation that was just now being intersected by forty canal companies,
and lighted by thirty gas companies, and every life in it worth a
button insured by a score of insurance companies, dwell in hovels?
Here was a country that, after long ruling the sea, was now mining the
earth, and employing her spoils nobly, lending money to every nation
and tribe that would fight for constitutional liberty. Should the
principal city of so sovereign a nation be a collection of dingy
dwellings made with burned clay? No; let these perishable and ignoble,
materials give way, and London be granite, or at least wear a granite
front--with which up went the Red Granite Company.

A railway was projected from Dover to Calais, but the shares never
came into the market.

The Rhine Navigation shares were snapped up directly. The original
holders, having no faith in their own paper, sold large quantities
directly for the account. But they had underrated the ardor of the
public. At settling day the shares were at 28 premium, and the sellers
found they had made a most original hedge; for “the hedge” is not a
daring operation that grasps at large gains; it is a timid and
cautious maneuver, whose humble aim is to lower the figures of
possible loss or gain. To be ruined by a stroke of caution so shocked
the directors’ sense of justice that they forged new coupons in
imitation of the old, and tried to pass them off. The fraud was
discovered; a committee sat on it. Respectables quaked. Finally, a
scapegoat was put forward and expelled the Stock Exchange, and with
that the inquiry was hushed. It would have let too much daylight in on
a host of “good names” in the City and on ‘Change.

At the same time, the country threw itself with ardor into
Transatlantic loans. This, however, was an existing speculation vastly
dilated at the period we are treating, but created about five years
earlier. Its antecedent history can be dispatched in a few words.

England is said to be governed by a limited monarchy; but in case of a
struggle between the two, her heart goes more with unlimited republic
than with genuine monarchy. The Spanish colonies in South America
found this out, and in their long battle for independence came to us
for sympathy and cash. They often obtained both, and in one case
something more; we lent Chili a million at six per cent, but we lent
her ships, bayonets, and Cochrane gratis. This last, a gallant and
amphibious dragoon, went to work in a style the slow Spaniard was
unprepared for; blockaded the coast, overawed the Royalist party, and
wrenched the state from the mother country, and settled it a republic.
One of the first public acts of this Chilian republic was to borrow a
million of us to go on with. Peru took only half a million at this
period. Colombia, during the protracted struggle her independence cost
her, obtained a sort of _carte blanche_ loan from us at ten per
cent. We were to deliver the stock in munitions of war, as called for,
which, you will ‘observe, was selling our loan; for at the bottom of
all our romance lies business, business, business. Her freedom
secured, the new state accommodated us by taking two millions of 5 per
cent stock at 84. In all, about ten millions nominal capital, eight
millions cash, crossed the Atlantic while we were cool; but now that
we were heated by three hundred joint-stock companies, and the fire
fanned by seven hundred prospectuses, fresh loans were effected with a
wider range of territory and on a more important scale.

     Brazil now got . . . 3,200,000 l. in two loans;
     Colombia . . . . . . 4,750,000 l.;
     Peru . . . . . . . . 1,366,000 l. in two loans;
     Mexico . . . . . . . 6,400,000 l. in two loans;
     Buenos Ayres . . . . 1,000,000 l.;

and Guatemala, a state we never heard of till she wanted money, took a
million and a half. Besides these there were smaller loans, lent, not
to nations, but to tribes. So hot was our money in our pockets that we
tried 200,000 pounds on Patagonia. But the savages could not be got to
nail us, which was the more to be regretted, as we might have done a
good stroke with them; could have sent the stock out in fisherman’s
boots, cocked hats, beads, Bibles, and army misfits.

Europe found out there existed an island overflowing with faith and
overburdened with money; she ran at us for a slice of the latter. We
lent Naples two millions and a half at 5 per cent stock 92 1/2.
Portugal a million and a half at 87. Austria three millions and a half
at 82 1/2. Denmark three millions and a half at 3 per cent stock 75
1/2. Then came a _bonne bouche._ The subtle Greek had gathered
from his western visitors a notion of the contents of Thucydides, and
he came to us for sympathy and money to help him shake off the
barbarians and their yoke, and save the wreck of the ancient temples.
The appeal was shrewdly planned. England reads Thucydides, and skims
Demosthenes, though Greece, it is presumed, does not. The impressions
of our boyhood fasten upon our hearts, and our mature reason judges
them like a father, not like a judge. To sweep the Tartar out of the
Peloponnese, and put in his place a free press that should recall from
the tomb that soul of freedom, and revive by degrees that tongue of
music--who can play Solomon when such a proposal comes up for
judgment?

“Give yourself no further concern about the matter,” said the lofty
Burdett, with a gentlemanlike wave of the hand; “your country shall be
saved.”

“In a few weeks,” said another statesman, “Cochrane will be at
Constantinople, and burn the port and its vessels. Having thus
disarmed invasion, he will land in the Morea and clear it of
the Turks.”

Greece borrowed in two loans 2,800,000 pounds at 5 per cent. Russia
(droll juxtaposition!) drew up the rear. She borrowed three millions
and a half, but upon far more favorable terms than, with all our
romance, we accorded to “Graeculus esuriens.” The Greek stock ruled *
from 56 1/2 to 59.

     * A corruption from the French verb “rouler.”

Into these loans, and the multitudinous mines and miscellaneous
enterprises, gas, railroad, canal, steam, dock, provision, insurance,
milk, water, building, washing, money-lending, fishing, lottery,
annuities, herring-curing, poppy-oil, cattle, weaving, bog draining,
street-cleaning, house-roofing, old clothes exporting, steel-making,
starch, silk-worm, etc., etc., etc., companies, all classes of the
community threw themselves, either for investment or temporary
speculation, on the fluctuations of the share-market. One venture was
ennobled by a prince of the blood figuring as a director; another was
sanctified by an archbishop; hundreds were solidified by the best
mercantile names in the cities of London, Liverpool, and Manchester.
Princes, dukes, duchesses, stags, footmen, poets, philosophers,
divines, lawyers, physicians, maids, wives, widows, tore into the
market, and choked the Exchange up so tight that the brokers could not
get in nor out, and a bare passage had to be cleared by force and
fines through a mass of velvet, fustian, plush, silk, rags, lace, and
broadcloth, that jostled and squeezed each other in the struggle for
gain. The shop-keeper flung down his scales and off to the
share-market; the merchant embarked his funds and his credit; the
clerk risked his place and his humble respectability. High and low,
rich and poor, all hurried round the Exchange, like midges round a
flaring gas-light, and all were to be rich in a day.

And, strange to say, all seemed to win and none to lose; for nothing
was at a discount except toil and self-denial, and the patient
industry that makes men rich, but not in a day.

One cold misgiving fell. The vast quantities of gold and silver that
Mexico, mined by English capital and machinery, was about to pour into
our ports, would so lower the price of those metals that a heavy loss
must fall on all who held them on a considerable scale at their
present values in relation to corn, land, labor and other properties
and commodities.

“We must convert our gold,” was the cry. Others more rash said: “This
is premature caution--timidity. There is no gold come over yet; wait
till you learn the actual bulk of the first metallic imports.” “No,
thank you,” replied the prudent ones, “it will be too late then; when
once they have touched our shores, the fall will be rapid.” So they
turned their gold, whose value was so precarious, into that
unfluctuating material, paper. This solitary fear was soon swallowed
up in the general confidence. The king congratulated Parliament, and
Parliament the king. Both houses rang with trumpet notes of triumph, a
few of which still linger in the memories of living men.

1. “The cotton trade and iron trade were never so flourishing.”

2. “The exports surpassed by millions the highest figure recorded in’
history.”

3. “The hum of industry was heard throughout the fields.”

4. “Joy beamed in every face.”

5. “The country now reaped in honor and repose all it had sown in
courage, constancy and wisdom.”

6. “Our prosperity extended to all ranks of men, enhanced by those
arts which minister to human comfort, and those inventions by which
man seems to have obtained a mastery over Nature through the
application of her own powers.”

But one honorable gentleman informed the Commons that “distress had
vanished from the land,” * and in addressing the throne acknowledged a
novel embarrassment: “Such,” said he, “is the general prosperity of
the country, that I feel at a loss how to proceed; whether to give
precedence to our agriculture, which is the main support of the
country, to our manufactures, which have increased to an unexampled
extent, or to our commerce, which distributes them to the ends of the
earth, finds daily new outlets for their distribution, and new sources
of national wealth and prosperity.”

     * “The poor ye shall have always with you.”--Chimerical
     Evangelist.

Our old bank did not profit by the golden shower. Mr. Hardie was old,
too, and the cautious and steady habits of forty years were not to be
shaken readily. He declined shares, refused innumerable discounts, and
loans upon scrip and invoices, and, in short, was behind the time. His
bank came to be denounced as a clog on commerce. Two new banks were
set up in the town to oil the wheels of adventure, on which he was a
drag, and Hardie fell out of the game.

He was not so old or cold as to be beyond the reach of mortification,
and these things stung him. One day he said fretfully to old Skinner,
“It is hardly worth our while to take down the shutters now, for
anything we do.”

One afternoon two of his best customers, who were now up to their
chins in shares, came and solicited a heavy loan on their joint
personal security. Hardie declined. The gentlemen went out. Young
Skinner watched them, and told his father they went into the new bank,
stayed there a considerable time, and came out looking joyous. Old
Skinner told Mr. Hardie. The old gentleman began at last to doubt
himself and his system.

“The bank would last my time,” said he, “but I must think of my son. I
have seen many a good business die out because the merchant could not
keep up with the times; and here they are inviting me to be director
in two of their companies--good mercantile names below me. It is very
flattering. I’ll write to Dick. It is just he should have a voice;
but, dear heart! at his age we know beforehand he will be for
galloping faster than the rest. Well, his old father is alive to curb
him.”

It was always the ambition of Mr. Richard Hardie to be an accomplished
financier. For some years past he had studied money at home and
abroad--scientifically. His father’s connection had gained him a
footing in several large establishments abroad, and there he sat and
worked _en amateur_ as hard as a clerk. This zeal and diligence
in a young man of independent means soon established him in the
confidence of the chiefs, who told him many a secret. He was now in a
great London bank, pursuing similar studies, practical and
theoretical.

He received his father’s letters sketching the rapid decline of the
bank, and finally a short missive inviting him down to consider an
enlarged plan of business. During the four days that preceded the
young man’s visit, more than one application came to Hardie senior for
advances on scrip, cargoes coming from Mexico, and joint personal
securities of good merchants that were in the current ventures. Old
Hardie now, instead of refusing, detained the proposals for
consideration. Meantime, he ordered five journals daily instead of
one, sought information from every quarter, and looked into passing
events with a favorable eye. The result was that he blamed himself,
and called his past caution timidity. Mr. Richard Hardie arrived and
was ushered into the bank parlor. After the first affectionate
greetings old Skinner was called in, and, in a little pompous,
good-hearted speech, invited to make one in a solemn conference. The
compliment brought the tears into the old man’s eyes. Mr. Hardie
senior opened, showed by the books the rapid decline of business,
pointed to the rise of two new banks owing to the tight hand he had
held unseasonably, then invited the other two to say whether an
enlarged system was not necessary to meet the times, and submitted the
last, proposals for loans and discounts. “Now, sir, let me have your
judgment.”

“After my betters, sir,” was old Skinner’s reply.

“Well, Dick, have you formed any opinion on this matter?”

“I have, sir.”

“I am extremely glad of it,” said the old gentleman, very sincerely,
but with a shade of surprise; “out with it, Dick.”

The young man thus addressed by his father would not have conveyed to
us the idea of “Dick.” His hair was brown; there were no wrinkles
under his eyes or lines in his cheek, but in his manner there was no
youth whatever. He was tall, commanding, grave, quiet, cold, and even
at that age almost majestic. His first sentence, slow and firm,
removed the paternal notion that a cipher or a juvenile had come to
the council-table.

“First, sir, let me return to you my filial thanks for that caution
which you seem to think has been excessive. There I beg respectfully
to differ with you.”

“I am glad of it, Dick; but now you see it is time to relax, eh?”

“No, sir.”

The two old men stared at one another. The senile youth proceeded:
“That some day or other our system will have to be relaxed is
probable, but just now all it wants is--tightening.”

“Why, Dick? Skinner, the boy is mad. You can’t have watched the signs
of the times.”

“I have, sir; and looked below the varnish.”

“To the point, then, Dick. There is a general proposal ‘to relax our
system.’ The boy uses good words, Skinner, don’t he? and here are six
particulars over which you can cast your eye. Hand them to him,
Skinner.”

“I will take things in that order,” said Richard, quietly running his
eye over the papers. There was a moment’s silence. “It is proposed to
connect the bank with the speculations of the day.”

“That is not fairly stated, Dick; it is too broad. We shall make a
selection; we won’t go in the stream above ankle deep.”

“That is a resolution, sir, that has been often made but never
kept--for this reason: you can’t sit on dry land and calculate the
force of the stream. It carries those who paddle in it off their feet,
and then they must swim with it or--sink.”

“Dick, for Heaven’s sake, no poetry here.”

“Nay, sir,” said old Skinner, “remember, ‘twas you brought the stream
in.”

“More fool I. ‘Flow on, thou shining Dick’; only the more figures of
arithmetic, and the fewer figures of speech, you can give old Skinner
and me, the more weight you will carry with us.”

The young man colored a moment, but never lost his ponderous calmness.

“I will give you figures in their turn, But we were to begin with the
general view. Half-measures, then, are no measures; they imply a
vacillating judgment; they are a vain attempt to make a pound of
rashness and a pound of timidity into two pounds of prudence. You
permit me that figure, sir; it comes from the summing-book. The able
man of business fidgets. He keeps quiet, or carries something out.”

Old Skinner rubbed his hands. “These are wise words, sir.”

“No, only clever ones. This is book-learning. It is the sort of wisdom
you and I have outgrown these forty years. Why, at his age I was
choke-full of maxims. They are good things to read; but act proverbs,
and into the Gazette you go. My faith in any general position has
melted away with the snow of my seventy winters.”

“What, then, if it was established that all adders bite, would you
refuse to believe his adder would bite you, sir?”

“Dick, if a single adder bit me, it would go farther to convince me
that the next adder would bite me too than if fifty young Buffons told
me all adders bite.”

The senile youth was disconcerted for a single moment. He hesitated.
The keys that the old man had himself said would unlock his judgment
lay beside him on the table. He could not help glancing slyly at them,
but he would not use them before their turn. His mind was methodical.
His will was strong in all things. He put his hand in his side-pocket,
and drew out a quantity of papers neatly arranged, tied, and indorsed.

The old men instantly bestowed a more watchful sort of attention on
him.

“This, gentlemen, is a list of the joint-stock companies created last
year. What do you suppose is their number?”

“Fifty, I’ll be bound, Mr. Richard.”

“More than that, Skinner. Say eighty.”

 “Two hundred and forty-three, gentlemen. Of these some were
stillborn, but the majority hold the market. The capital proposed to
be subscribed on the sum total is two hundred and forty-eight
millions.”

“Pheugh! Skinner!”

“The amount actually paid at present (chiefly in bank-notes) is stated
at 43,062,608 pounds, and the balance due at the end of the year on
this set of ventures will be 204,937,392 pounds or thereabouts. The
projects of _this year_ have not been collected, but they are on
a similar scale. Full a third of the general sum total is destined to
foreign countries, either in loans or to work mines, etc., the return
for which is uncertain and future. All these must come to nothing, and
ruin the shareholders that way, or else must sooner or later be paid
in specie, since no foreign nation can use our paper, but must sell it
to the Bank of England. We stand, then, pledged to burst like a
bladder, or to _export_ in a few months thrice as much specie as
we possess. To sum up, if the country could be sold to-morrow, with
every brick that stands upon it, the proceeds would not meet the
engagements into which these joint-stock companies have inveigled her
in the course of twenty months. Viewed then, in gross, under the test,
not of poetry and prospectus, but of arithmetic, the whole thing is a
bubble.”

“A bubble?” uttered both the seniors in one breath, and almost in a
scream.

“But I am ready to test it in detail. Let us take three main
features--the share-market, the foreign loans, and the inflated
circulation caused by the provincial banks. Why do the public run
after shares? Is it in the exercise of a healthy judgment? No; a
cunning bait has been laid for human weakness. Transferable shares
valued at 100 pounds can be secured and paid for by small instalments
of 5 pounds or less. If, then, his 100 pound shares rise to 130 pounds
each, the adventurer can sell at a nominal profit of 30 per cent, but
a real profit of 600 per cent on his actual investment. This
intoxicates rich and poor alike. It enables the small capitalist to
operate on the scale that belongs, in healthy times, to the large
capitalist; a beggar can now gamble like a prince; his farthings are
accepted as counters for sovereigns; but this is a distinct feature of
all the more gigantic bubbles recorded. Here, too, you see, is
illusory credit on a vast scale, with its sure consequence, inflated
and fictitious values; another bit of soap that goes to every bubble
in history. Now for the Transatlantic loans. I submit them to a simple
test. Judge nations like individuals. If you knew nothing of a man but
that he had set up a new shop, would you lend him money? Then why lend
money to new republics of whom you know nothing but that, born
yesterday, they may die to-morrow, and that they are exhausted by
recent wars, and that, where responsibility is divided, conscience is
always subdivided?”

“Well said, Richard, well said.”

“If a stranger offered you thirty per cent, would you lend him your
money?”

“No; for I should know he didn’t mean to pay.”

“Well, these foreign negotiators offer nominally five per cent, but,
looking at the price of the stock, thirty, forty, and even fifty per
cent. Yet they are not so liberal as they appear; they could afford
ninety per cent. You understand me, gentlemen. Would you lend to a man
that came to you under an alias like a Newgate thief? Cast your eye
over this prospectus. It is the Poyais loan. There is no such place as
Poyais.”

“Good heavens!”

“It is a loan to an anonymous swamp by the Mosquito River. But
Mosquito suggests a bite. So the vagabonds that brought the proposal
over put their heads together as they crossed the Atlantic, and
christened the place Poyais; and now fools that are not fools enough
to lend sixpence to Zahara, are going to lend 200,000 pounds to rushes
and reeds.”

“Why, Richard, what are you talking about? ‘The air is soft and balmy;
the climate fructifying; the soil is spontaneous’--what does that
mean? mum! mum! ‘The water runs over sands of gold.’ Why, it is a
description of Paradise. And, now I think of it, is not all this taken
from John Milton?”

“Very likely. It is written by thieves.”

“It seems there are tortoise-shell, diamonds, pearls--”

“In the prospectus, but not in the morass. It is a good,
straightforward morass, with no pretensions but to great damp. But
don’t be alarmed, gentlemen, our countrymen’s money will not be
swamped there. It will all be sponged up in Threadneedle Street by the
poetic swindlers whose names, or aliases, you hold in your hand. The
Greek, Mexican, and Brazilian loans may be translated from Prospectish
into English thus: At a date when every sovereign will be worth five
to us in sustaining shriveling paper and collapsing credit, we are
going to chuck a million sovereigns into the Hellespont, five million
sovereigns into the Gulf of Mexico, and two millions into the Pacific
Ocean. Against the loans to the old monarchies there is only this
objection, that they are unreasonable; will drain out gold when gold
will be life-blood; which brings me, by connection, to my third
item--the provincial circulation. Pray, gentlemen, do you remember the
year 1793?”

For some minutes past a dead silence and a deep, absorbed attention
had received the young man’s words; but that quiet question was like a
great stone descending suddenly on a silent stream. Such a noise,
agitation, and flutter. The old banker and his clerk both began to
speak at once.

“Don’t we?”

“Oh, Lord, Mr. Richard, don’t talk of 1793.”

“What do you know about 1793? You weren’t born.”

“Oh, Mr. Richard, such a to-do, sir! 1800 firms in the Gazette.
Seventy banks stopped.”

“Nearer a hundred, Mr. Skinner. Seventy-one stopped in the provinces,
and a score in London.”

“Why, sir, Mr. Richard knows everything, whether he was born or not.”

“No, he doesn’t, you old goose; he doesn’t know how you and I sat
looking at one another, and pretending to fumble, and counting out
slowly, waiting sick at heart for the sack of guineas that was to come
down by coach. If it had not come we should not have broken, but we
should have suspended payment for twenty-four hours, and I was young
enough then to have cut my throat in the interval.”

“But it came, sir--it came, and you cried, ‘Keep the bank open till
midnight!’ and when the blackguards heard that, and saw the sackful of
gold, they crept away; they were afraid of offending us. Nobody came
anigh us next day. Banks smashed all round us like glass bottles, but
Hardie & Co. stood, and shall stand for ever and ever. Amen.”

“Who showed the white feather, Mr. Skinner? Who came creeping and
sniveling, and took my hand under the counter, and pressed it to give
me courage, and then was absurd enough to make apologies, as if
sympathy was as common as dirt? Give me your hand directly, you
old--Hallo!”

“God bless you, sir! God bless you! It is all right, sir. The bank is
safe for another fifty years. We have got Master Richard, and he has
got a head. O Gemini, what a head he has got, and the other day
playing marbles!”

“Yes, and we are interrupting him with our nonsense. Go on, Richard.”

Richard had secretly but fully appreciated the folly of the
interruption. His was a great mind, and moved in a sort of pecuniary
ether high above the little weaknesses my reader has observed in
Hardie senior and old Skinner. Being, however, equally above the other
little infirmities of fretfulness and fussiness, he waited calmly and
proceeded coolly.

“What was the cause of the distress in 1793?”

“Ah! that was the puzzle--wasn’t it, Skinner? We were never so
prosperous as that year. The distress came over us like a
thunder-storm all in a moment. Nobody knows the exact cause.”

“I beg your pardon, sir, it is as well known as any point of history
whatever. Some years of prosperity had created a spawn of country
banks, most of them resting on no basis; these had inflated the
circulation with their paper. A panic and a collapse of this
fictitious currency was as inevitable as the fall of a stone forced
against nature into the air.”

“There _were_ a great many petty banks, Richard, and, of course,
plenty of bad paper. I believe you are right. The causes of things
were not studied in those days as they are now.”

“All that we know now, sir, is to be found in books written long
before 1793.”

“Books! books!”

“Yes, sir; a book is not dead paper except to sleepy minds. A book is
a man giving you his best thoughts in his very best words. It is only
the shallow reader that can’t learn life from genuine books. I’ll back
him who studies them against the man who skims his fellow-creatures,
and vice versa. A single page of Adam Smith, studied, understood, and
acted on by the statesmen of your day, would have averted the panic of
1793. I have the paragraph in my note-book. He was a great man, sir;
oblige me, Mr. Skinner.”

“Certainly, sir, certainly. ‘Should the circulation of paper exceed
the value of the gold and silver of which it supplies the place, many
people would immediately perceive they had more of this paper than was
necessary for transacting their business at home; and, as they could
not send it abroad, bank paper only passing current where it is
issued, there would be a run upon the banks to the extent of this
superfluous paper.’”

Richard Hardie resumed. “We were never so overrun with rotten banks as
now. Shoemakers, cheesemongers, grocers, write up ‘Bank’ over one of
their windows, and deal their rotten paper by the foolscap ream. The
issue of their larger notes is colossal, and renders a panic
inevitable soon or late; but, to make it doubly sure, they have been
allowed to utter 1 pound and 2 pound notes. They have done it, and on
a frightful scale. Then, to make it trebly sure, the just balance
between paper and specie is disturbed in the other scale as well as by
foreign loans to be paid in gold. In 1793 the candle was left
unsnufled, but we have lighted it at both ends and put it down to
roast. Before the year ends, every sovereign in the banks of this
country may be called on to cash 30 pounds of paper--bank-paper,
share-paper, foolscap-paper, waste-paper. In 1793, a small excess of
paper over specie had the power to cause a panic and break some ninety
banks; but our excess of paper is far larger, and with that fatal
error we have combined foreign loans and three hundred bubble
companies. Here, then, meet three bubbles, each of which, unaided,
secures a panic. Events revolve, gentlemen, and reappear at intervals.
The great French bubble of 1719 is here to-day with the addition of
two English tom-fooleries, foreign loans and 1 pound notes. Mr. Law
was a great financier. Mr. Law was the first banker and the greatest.
All mortal bankers are his pupils, though they don’t know it. Mr. Law
was not a fool; his critics are. Mr. Law did not commit one error out
of six that are attributed to him by those who judge him without
reading, far less studying, his written works. He was too sound and
sober a banker to admit small notes. They were excluded from his
system. He found France on the eve of bankruptcy; in fact, the state
had committed acts of virtual bankruptcy. He saved her with his bank.

“Then came his two errors, one remedial, the other fatal. No. 1, he
created a paper company and blew it up to a bubble. When the shares
had reached the skies, they began to come down, like stones, by an
inevitable law. No. 2, to save them from their coming fate, he propped
them with his bank. Overrating the power of governments, and
underrating Nature’s, he married the Mississippi shares (at forty
times their value) to his banknotes by edict. What was the
consequence? The bank paper, sound in itself, became rotten by
marriage. Nothing could save the share-paper. The bank paper, making
common cause with it, shared its fate. Had John Law let his two tubs
each stand on its own bottom, the shares would have gone back to what
they came from--nothing; the bank, based as it was on specie, backed
stoutly by the government, and respected by the people for great
national services, would have weathered the storm and lasted to this
day. But he tied his rickety child to his healthy child, and flung
them into a stormy sea, and told them to swim together: they sank
together. Now observe, sir, the fatal error that ruined the great
financier in 1720 is this day proposed to us. We are to connect our
bank with bubble companies by the double tie of loans and liability.
John Law was sore tempted. The Mississippi Company was his own child
as well as the bank. Love of that popularity he had drunk so deeply,
egotism, and parental partiality, combined to obscure that great man’s
judgment. But, with us, folly stands naked on one side, bubbles in
hand--common sense and printed experience on the other. These six
specimen bubbles here are not _our_ children. Let me see whose
they are, aliases excepted.”

“Very good, young gentleman, very good. Now it is my turn. I have got
a word or two to say on the other side. The journals, which are so
seldom agreed, are all of one mind about these glorious times. Account
for that!”

“How can you know their minds, sir?”

“By their leading columns.”

“Those are no clue.”

“What! Do they think one thing and print another? Why should the
independent press do that? Nonsense.”

“Why, sir? Because they are bribed to print it, but they are not
bribed to think it.”

“Bribed? The English press bribed?”

“Oh, not directly, like the English freeman. Oblige me with a journal
or two, no matter which; they are all tarred with the same stick in
time of bubble. Here, sir, are 50 pounds worth of bubble
advertisements, yielding a profit of say 25 pounds on this single
issue. In this one are nearer 100 pounds worth of such advertisements.
Now is it in nature that a newspaper, which is a trade speculation,
should say the word that would blight its own harvest? This is the
oblique road by which the English press is bribed. These leaders are
mere echoes of to-day’s advertisement sheet, and bidders for
to-morrow’s.”

“The world gets worse every day, Skinner.”

“It gets no better,” replied Richard, philosophically.

“But, Richard, here is our county member, and ----, staid, sober men
both, and both have pledged their honor on the floor of the House of
Commons to the sound character of some of these companies.”

“They have, sir; but they will never redeem the said honor, for they
are known to be bribed, and not obliquely, by those very companies.”
 (The price current of M. P. honor, in time of bubble, ought to be
added to the works of arithmetic.) “Those two Brutuses get 500
pounds apiece per annum for touting those companies down at
Stephen’s. ---- goes cheaper and more oblique. He touts, in the same
place, for a gas company, and his house in the square flares from cellar
to garret, gratis.”

“Good gracious! and he talked of the light of conscience in his very
last speech. But this cannot apply to all. There is the archbishop; he
can’t have sold his name to that company.”

“Who knows? He is over head and ears in debt.”

“But the duke, _he_ can’t have.”

“Why not? He is over head and ears in debt. Princes deep in debt by
misconduct, and bishops deep in ditto by ditto, are half-honest, needy
men; and half-honest, needy men are all to be bought and sold like
hogs in Smithfield, especially in time of bubble.”

“What is the world come to!”

“What it was a hundred years ago.”

“I have got one pill left for him, Skinner. Here is the Chancellor of
the Exchequer, a man whose name stands for caution, has pronounced a
panegyric on our situation. Here are his words quoted in this leader;
now listen: ‘We may safely venture to contemplate with instructive
admiration the harmony of its proportions and the solidity of its
basis.’ What do you say to that?”

“I say it is one man’s opinion versus the experience of a century.
Besides, that is a quotation, and may be a fraudulent one.”

“No, no. The speech was only delivered last Wednesday: we will refer
to it. Mum! mum! Ah, here it is. ‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer rose
and--’ mum! mum! ah--‘I am of--o-pinion that--if, upon a fair review
of our situation, there shall appear to be nothing hollow in its
foundation, artificial in its superstructure, or flimsy in its general
results, we may safely venture to contemplate with instructive
admiration the harmony of its proportions and the solidity of its
basis.’”

“Ha! ha! ha! I quite agree with cautious Bobby. If it is not hollow,
it may be solid; if it is not a gigantic paper balloon, it may be a
very fine globe, and vice versa, which vice versa he in
his heart suspects to be the truth. You see, sir, the mangled
quotation was a swindle, like the flimsy superstructures it was
intended to prop. The genuine paragraph is a fair sample of Robinson,
and of the art of withholding opinion by means of expression. But as
quoted, by a fraudulent suppression of one half, the unbalanced half
is palmed off as a whole, and an indecision perverted into a decision.
I might just as fairly cite him as describing our situation to be
‘hollow in its basis, artificial in its superstructure, flimsy in its
general result.’ Since you value names, I will cite you one man that
has commented on the situation; not, like Mr. Robinson, by misty
sentences, each neutralizing the other, but by consistent acts: a man,
gentlemen, whose operations have always been numerous and courageous in
less _prosperous_ times, yet now he is _out of everything_ but a single
insurance company.”

“Who is the gentleman?”

“It is not a gentleman; it is a blackguard,” said the exact youth.

“You excite my curiosity. Who is the capitalist, then, that stands
aloof?”

“Nathan Meyer Rothschild.”

“The devil.”

Old Skinner started sitting. “Rothschild hanging back. Oh, master, for
Heavens sake don’t let us try to be wiser than those devils of Jews.
Mr. Richard, I bore up pretty well against your book-learning, but now
you’ve hit me with a thunderbolt. Let us get in gold, and keep as snug
as mice, and not lend one of them a farthing to save them from the
gallows. Those Jews smell farther than a Christian can see. Don’t
let’s have any more 1793’s, sir, for Heaven’s sake. Listen to Mr.
Richard; he has been abroad, and come back with a head.”

“Be quiet, Skinner. You seem to possess private information, Richard.”

“I employ three myrmidons to hunt it; it will be useful by and by.”

“It may be now. Remark on these proposals.”

“Well, sir, two of them are based on gold mines, shares at a fabulous
premium. Now no gold mine can be worked to a profit by a company.
_Primo:_ Gold is not found in veins like other metals. It is an
abundant metal made scarce to man by distribution over a wide surface.
The very phrase gold mine is delusive. _Secundo:_ Gold is a metal
that cannot be worked to a profit by a company for this reason:
workmen will hunt it for others so long as the daily wages average
higher than the amount of metal they find per diem; but, that Rubicon
once passed, away they run to find gold for themselves in some spot
with similar signs; if they stay, it is to murder your overseers and
seize your mine. Gold digging is essentially an individual
speculation. These shares sell at 700 pounds apiece; a dozen of them
are not worth one Dutch tulip-root. Ah! here is a company of another
class, in which you have been invited to be director; they would have
given you shares and made you liable.” Mr. Richard consulted his
note-book. “This company, which ‘commands the wealth of both
Indies’--in perspective--dissolved yesterday afternoon for want of
eight guineas. They had rented offices at eight guineas a week, and
could not pay the first week. ‘Turn out or pay,’ said the landlord, a
brute absorbed in the present, and with no faith in the glorious
future. They offered him 1,500 pounds worth of shares instead of his
paltry eight guineas cash. On this he swept his premises of them. What
a godsend you would have been to these Jeremy Diddlers, you and the
ten thousand they would have bled you of.”

The old banker turned pale.

“Oh, that is nothing new, sir. _‘To-morrow_ the first lord of the
treasury calls at my house, and brings me 11,261 pounds 14s. 11 3/4d.,
which is due to me from the nation at twelve of the clock on that day;
you couldn’t lend me a shilling till then, could ye?’ Now for the
loans. Baynes upon Haggart want 2,000 pounds at 5 per cent.”

“Good names, Richard, surely,” said old Hardie, faintly.

“They were; but there are no good names in time of bubble. The
operations are so enormous that in a few weeks a man is hollowed out
and his frame left standing. In such times capitalists are like
filberts; they look all nut, but half of them are dust inside the
shell, and only known by breaking. Baynes upon Haggart, and Haggart
upon Baynes, the city is full of their paper. I have brought some down
to show it to you. A discounter, who is a friend of mine, did it for
them on a considerable scale at thirty per cent discount (cast your
eye over these bills, Haggart on Baynes). But he has burned his
fingers even at that, and knows it. So I am authorized to offer all
these to you at fifty per cent discount.”

“Good heavens! Richard!”

“If, therefore, you think of doing rotten apple upon rotten pear,
otherwise Haggart upon Baynes, why do it at five per cent when it is
to be had by the quire at fifty?”

“Take them out of my sight,” said old Hardie, starting up--“take them
all out of my sight. Thank God I sent for you. No more discussion, no
more doubt. Give me your hand, my son; you have saved the bank!”

The conference broke up with these eager words, and young Skinner
retired swiftly from the keyhole.

The next day Mr. Hardie senior came to a resolution which saddened
poor old Skinner. He called the clerks in and introduced them to Mr.
Richard as his managing partner.

“Every dog has his day,” said the old gentleman. “Mine has been a long
one. Richard has saved the bank from a fatal error; Richard shall
conduct it as Hardie & Son. Don’t be disconsolate, Skinner; I’ll look
in on you now and then.”

Hardie junior sent back all the proposals with a polite negative. He
then proceeded on a two-headed plan. Not to lose a shilling when the
panic he expected should come, and to make 20,000 pounds upon its
subsiding. Hardie & Son held Exchequer bills on rather a large scale.
They were at half a crown premium. He sold every one and put gold in
his coffers. He converted in the same way all his other securities
except consols. These were low, and he calculated they would rise in
any general depreciation of more pretentious investments. He drew out
his balance, a large one, from his London correspondent, and put his
gold in his coffers. He drew a large deposit from the Bank of England.
Whenever his own notes came into the bank, he withdrew them from
circulation. “They may hop upon Hardie & Son,” said he, “but they
shan’t run upon us, for I’ll cut off their legs and keep them in my
safe.”

One day he invited several large tradesmen in the town to dine with
him at the bank. They came full of curiosity. He gave them a luxurious
dinner, which pleased them. After dinner he exposed the real state of
the nation, as he understood it. They listened politely, and sneered
silently, but visibly. He then produced six large packets of his
banknotes; each packet contained 3,000 pounds. Skinner, then present,
enveloped these packets in cartridge-paper, and the guests were
requested to seal them up. This was soon done. In those days a bunch
of gigantic seals dangled and danced on the pit of every man’s
stomach. The sealed packets went back into the safe.

“Show us a sparkle o’ gold, Mr. Richard,” said Meredith, linen-draper
and wag.

“Mr. Skinner, oblige me by showing Mr. Meredith a little of your
specie--a few anti-bubble pills, eh! Mr. Meredith.”

Omnes. “Ha! ha! ha!”

Presently a shout from Meredith: “Boys, he has got it here by the
bushel. All new sovereigns. Don’t any of ye be a linen-draper, if you
have got a chance to be a banker. How much is there here, Mr.
Richard?”

“We must consult the books to ascertain that, sir.”

“Must you? Then just turn your head away, Mr. Richard, and I’ll put in
a claw.”

Omnes. “Haw! haw! ho!”

Richard Hardie resumed. “My precautions seem extravagant to you now,
but in a few months you will remember this conversation, and it will
lead to business.” The rest of the evening he talked of anything,
everything, except banking. He was not the man to dilute an
impression.

Hardie junior was so confident in his reading and his reasonings that
he looked every day into the journals for the signs of a general
collapse of paper and credit; instead of which, public confidence
seemed to increase, not diminish, and the paper balloon, as he called
it, dilated, not shrank; and this went on for months. His gold lay a
dead and useless stock, while paper was breeding paper on every side
of him. He suffered his share of those mortifications which every man
must look to endure who takes a course of his own, and stems a human
current. He sat somber and perplexed in his bank parlor, doing
nothing; his clerks mended pens in the office. The national calamity
so confidently predicted, and now so eagerly sighed for, came not.

In other words, Richard Hardie was a sagacious calculator, but not a
prophet; no man is till afterward, and then nine out of ten are. At
last he despaired of the national calamity ever coming at all. So
then, one dark November day, an event happened that proved him a
shrewd calculator of probabilities in the gross, and showed that the
records, of the past, “studied” instead of “skimmed,” may in some
degree counterbalance youth and its narrow experience. Owing to the
foreign loans, there were a great many bills out against this country.
Some heavy ones were presented, and seven millions in gold taken out
of the Bank of England and sent abroad. This would have trickled back
by degrees; but the suddenness and magnitude of the drain alarmed the
bank directors for the safety of the bank, subject as it was by Mr.
Peel’s bill to a vast demand for gold.

Up to this period, though they had amassed specie themselves, they had
rather fed the paper fever in the country at large, but now they began
to take a wide and serious view of the grave contingencies around
them. They contracted their money operations, refused in two cases to
discount corn, and, in a word, put the screw on as judiciously as they
could. But time was up. Public confidence had reached its culminating
point. The sudden caution of the bank could not be hidden; it awoke
prudence, and prudence after imprudence drew terror at its heels.
There was a tremendous run upon the country banks. The smaller ones
“smashed all around like glass bottles,” as in 1793; the larger ones
made gigantic and prolonged efforts to stand, and generally fell at
last.

Many, whose books showed assets 40s. in the pound, suspended
payment; for in a violent panic the bank creditors can all draw their
balances in a few hours or days, but the poor bank cannot put a
similar screw on its debtors. Thus no establishment was safe. Honor
and solvency bent before the storm, and were ranked with rottenness;
and, as at the same time the market price of securities sank with
frightful rapidity, scarcely any amount of invested capital was safe
in the unequal conflict.

Exchequer bills went down to 60s. discount, and the funds rose
and fell like waves in a storm.

London bankers were called out of church to answer dispatches from
their country correspondents.

The Mint worked day and night, and coined a hundred and fifty thousand
sovereigns per diem for the Bank of England; but this large supply
went but a little way, since that firm had in reality to cash nearly
all the country notes that were cashed.

Post-chaises and four stood like hackney-coaches in Lombard Street,
and every now and then went rattling off at a gallop into the country
with their golden freight. In London, at the end of a single week, not
an old sovereign was to be seen, so fiercely was the old coinage swept
into the provinces, so active were the Mint and the smashers; these
last drove a roaring trade; for paper now was all suspected, and
anything that looked like gold was taken recklessly in exchange.

Soon the storm burst on the London banks. A firm known to possess half
a million in undeniable securities could not cash them fast enough to
meet the checks drawn on their counter, and fell. Next day, a house
whose very name was a rock suspended for four days. An hour or two
later two more went hopelessly to destruction. The panic rose to
madness. Confidence had no longer a clue, nor names a distinction. A
man’s enemies collected three or four vagabonds round his door, and in
another hour there was a run upon him, that never ceased till he was
emptied or broken. At last, as, in the ancient battles, armies rested
on their arms to watch a duel in which both sides were represented,
the whole town watched a run upon the great house of Pole, Thornton &
Co. The Bank of England, from public motives, spiced of course with
private interest, had determined to support Pole, Thornton & Co., and
so perhaps stem the general fury, for all things have their
turning-point. Three hundred thousand pounds were advanced to Pole &
Co., who with this aid and their own resources battled through the
week, but on Saturday night were drained so low that their fate once
more depended on the Bank of England. Another large sum was advanced
them. They went on; but, ere the next week ended, they succumbed, and
universal panic gained the day.

Climax of all, the Bank of England notes lost the confidence of the
public, and a frightful run was made on it. The struggle had been
prepared for, and was gigantic on both sides. Here the great hall of
the bank, full of panic-stricken citizens jostling one another to get
gold for the notes of the bank; there, foreign nations sending over
ingots and coin to the bank, and the Mint working night and day,
Sunday and week-day, to turn them into sovereigns to meet the run.
Sovereigns or else half-sovereigns were promptly delivered on demand.
No hesitation or sign of weakness peeped out; but under this bold and
prudent surface, dismay, sickness of heart, and the dread of a great
humiliation. At last, one dismal evening, this establishment, which at
the beginning of the panic had twenty millions specie, left off with
about five hundred thousand pounds in coin, and a similar amount in
bullion. A large freight of gold was on the seas, coming to their aid,
and due, but not arrived; the wind was high; and in a few hours the
people would be howling round their doors again. They sent a hasty
message to the government, and implored them to suspend, by order in
council, the operation of Mr. Peel’s bill for a few days. A plump
negative from Mr. Canning.

Then, being driven to expedients, they bethought them of a chest of 1
pound notes that they had luckily omitted to burn.

Another message to the government, “May we use these?”

“As a temporary expedient, yes.”

The one-pound notes were whirling all over the country before
daybreak, and, marvelous anomaly, which took Richard Hardie by
surprise, they oiled the waves, the panic abated from that hour. The
holders of country notes took the 1 pound B. E. notes as cash with
avidity. The very sight of them piled on a counter stopped a run in
more than one city.

The demand for gold at the Bank of England continued, but less
fiercely; and as the ingots still came tumbling in, and the Mint
hailed sovereigns on them, their stock of specie rose as the demand
declined, and they came out of their fiercest battle with honor. But,
ere the tide turned, things in general came to a pass scarcely known
in the history of civilized nations. Ladies and gentlemen took
heirlooms to the pawnbrokers’, and swept their tills of the last coin.
Not only was wild speculation, hitherto so universal and ardent,
snuffed out like a candle, but investment ceased and commerce came to
a stand-still. Bank stock, East India stock, and, some days, consols
themselves, did not go down; they went out, were blotted from the book
of business. No man would give them gratis; no man would take them on
any other terms. The brokers closed their books; there were no buyers
nor sellers. Trade was coming to the same pass, except the retail
business in eatables; and an observant statesman and economist, that
watched the phenomenon, pronounced that in forty-eight hours more all
dealings would have ceased between man and man, or returned to the
rude and primitive form of barter, or direct exchange of men’s several
commodities, labor included.

Finally, things crept into their places; shades of distinction were
drawn between good securities and bad. Shares were forfeited,
companies dissolved, bladders punctured, balloons flattened, bubbles
burst, and thousands of families ruined--thousands of people
beggared--and the nation itself, its paper fever reduced by a severe
bleeding, lay sick, panting, exhausted, and discouraged for a year or
two to await the eternal cycle--torpor, prudence, health, plethora,
blood-letting; torpor, prudence, health, plethora, bloodletting, etc.,
etc., etc., etc., _in secula seculorum._


The journals pitched into “speculation.”

Three banks lay in the dust in the town of ----, and Hardie & Son
stood looking calmly down upon the ruins.

Richard Hardie had carried out his double-headed plan.

There was no run upon him--could not be one in the course of nature,
his balances were so low, and his notes were all at home. He created
artificially a run of a very different kind. He dined the same party
of tradesmen--all but one, who could not come, being at supper after
Polonius his fashion. After dinner he showed the packets still sealed,
and six more unsealed. “Here, gentlemen, is our whole issue.” There
was a huge wood fire in the old-fashioned room. He threw a packet of
notes into it. A most respectable grocer yelled and lost color: victim
of his senses, he thought sacred money was here destroyed, and his
host a well-bred, and oh! how plausible, maniac. The others derided
him, and packet after packet fed the flames. When two only were left,
containing about five thousand pounds between them, Hardie junior made
a proposal that they should advertise in their shop windows to receive
Hardie’s five-pound notes as five guineas in payment for their goods.
Observing a natural hesitation, he explained that they would by this
means, crush their competitors, and could easily clap a price on their
goods to cover the odd shillings. The bargain was soon struck. Mr.
Richard was a great man. All his guests felt in their secret souls and
pockets--excuse the tautology--that some day or other they should want
to borrow money of him. Besides, “crush their competitors!”

Next day Mr. Richard loosed his hand and let a flock of his own
bank-notes fly (they were asked for earnestly every day). Some soon
found their way to the shops in question. The next day still more took
wing and buzzed about the shops. Presently other tradesmen, finding
people rushed to the shops in question, began to bid against them for
Hardie’s notes, a result the long-headed youth had expected; and said
notes went up to ten shillings premium. Too calm and cold to be
betrayed into deserting his principles, he confined the issue within
the bounds he had prescribed, and when they were all out seldom saw
one of them again. By this means he actually lowered the Bank of
England notes in public estimation, and set his own high above them in
the town of ----. Deposits came in. Confidence unparalleled took the
place of fear so far as he was concerned, and he was left free to work
the other part of his plan.

To the amazement and mystification of old Skinner, he laid out ten
thousand pounds in Exchequer bills, and followed this up by other
large purchases of paper, paper, nothing but paper.

Hardie senior was nervous.

“Are you true to your own theory, Richard?”

The youth explained to him that blind confidence always ends in blind
distrust, and then all paper becomes depreciated alike, but good paper
is sure to recover. “Sixty-two shillings discount, sir, is a
ridiculous decline of Exchequer bills. We are at peace, and elastic,
and the government is strong. My other purchases all rest upon certain
information, carefully and laboriously amassed while the world was so
busy blowing bubbles. I am now buying paper that is unjustly
depreciated in Panic, i.e., in the second act of that mania of
which Bubble is the first act.” He added: “When the herd buy, the
price rises; when they sell, it falls. To buy with them and sell with
them is therefore to buy dear and sell cheap. My game--and it is a
game that reduces speculation to a certainty--is threefold:

“First, never, at any price or under any temptation, buy anything that
is not as good as gold.

“Secondly, buy that sound article when the herd sells it.

“Thirdly, sell it when the herd buys it.”

“Richard,” said the old man, “I see what it is--you are a genius.”

“No.”

“It is no use your denying it, Richard.”

“Common sense, sir, common sense.”

“Yes, but common sense carried to such a height as you do is genius.”

“Well, sir, then I own to the genius of common sense.”

“I admire you, Richard--I am proud of you; but the bank has stood one
hundred and forty years, and never a genius in it;” the old man
sighed.

Hardie senior, having relieved his mind of this vague misgiving, never
returned to it--probably never felt it again. It was one of those
strange flashes that cross a mind as a meteor the sky.

The old gentleman, having little to do, talked more than heretofore,
and, like fathers, talked about his son, and, unlike sons, cried him
up at his own expense. The world is not very incredulous; above all,
it never disbelieves a man who calls himself a fool. Having then
gained the public ear by the artifice of self-depreciation, he poured
into it the praises of Hardie junior. He went about telling how he, an
old man, was all but bubbled till this young Daniel came down and
foretold all. Thus paternal garrulity combined for once with a man’s
own ability to place Richard Hardie on the pinnacle of provincial
grandeur.

A few years more and Hardie senior died. (His old clerk, Skinner,
followed him a month later.)

Richard Hardie, now sole partner and proprietor, assumed a mode of
living unknown to his predecessors. He built a large, commodious
house, and entertained in the first style. The best families in the
neighborhood visited a man whose manner was quiet and stately, his
income larger than their own, and his house and table luxurious
without vulgar pretensions, and the red-hot gilding and glare with
which the injudicious parvenu brands himself and furniture.

The bank itself put on a new face. Twice as much glass fronted the
street, and a skylight was let into the ceiling: there were five
clerks instead of three; the new ones at much smaller salaries than
the pair that had come down from antiquity.



CHAPTER XIII.

SUCH was Mr. Hardie at twenty-five, and his townspeople said: “If he
is so wise now he is a boy, what in Heaven’s name will he be at
forty?” To sixty the provincial imagination did not attempt to follow
his wisdom. He was now past thirty, and behind the scenes of his bank
was still the able financier I have sketched. But in society he seemed
another man. There his characteristics were quiet courtesy,
imperturbability, a suave but impressive manner, vast information on
current events, and no flavor whatever of the shop.

He had learned the happy art, which might be called “the barrister’s
art,” _hoc agendi,_ of throwing the whole man into a thing at one
time, and out of it at another. In the bank and in his own study he
was a devout worshiper of Mammon; in society, a courteous, polished,
intelligent gentleman, always ready to sift and discuss any worthy
topic you could start except finance. There was some affectation in
the cold and immovable determination with which he declined to say
three words about money. But these great men act habitually on a
preconceived system: this gives them their force.

If Lucy Fountain had been one of those empty girls that were so rife
at the time, the sterling value of his conversation would have
disgusted her, and his calm silence where there was nothing to be said
(sure proof of intelligence) would have passed for stupidity with her.
But she was intelligent, well used to bungling, straightforward
flattery, and to smile with arch contempt at it, and very capable of
appreciating the more subtle but less satirical compliment a man pays
a pretty girl by talking sense to her; and, as it happened, her foible
favored him no less than did her strong points. She attached too solid
a value to manner; and Mr. Hardie’s manner was, to her fancy, male
perfection. It added to him in her estimation as much as David Dodd’s
defects in that kind detracted from the value of his mind and heart.

To this favorable opinion Mr. Hardie responded in full.

He had never seen so graceful a creature, nor so young a woman so
courteous and high-bred.

He observed at once, what less keen persons failed to discover, that
she was seldom spontaneous or off her guard. He admired her the more.
He had no sympathy with the infantine in man or woman. “She thinks
before she speaks,” said he, with a note of admiration. On the other
hand, he missed a trait or two the young lady possessed, for they
happened to be virtues he had no eye for; but the sum total was most
favorable; in short, it was esteem at first sight.


As a cobweb to a cabbage-net, so fine was Mrs. Bazalgette’s
reticulation compared with Uncle Fountain’s. She invited Mr. Hardie to
stay a fortnight with her, commencing just one day before Lucy’s
return. She arranged a round of gayety to celebrate the double event.
What could be more simple? Yet there was policy below. The whirl of
pleasure was to make Lucy forget everybody at Font Abbey; to empty her
heart, and pave Mrs. B.’s candidate’s way to the vacancy. Then, she
never threw Mr. Hardie at Lucy’s head, contenting herself with
speaking of him with veneration when Lucy herself or others introduced
his name. She was always contriving to throw the pair together, but no
mortal could see her hand at work in it. _Bref,_ a she-spider.
The first day or two she watched her niece on the sly, just to see
whether she regretted Font Abbey, or, in other words, Mr. Talboys.
Well acquainted with all the subtle signs by which women read one
another, she observed with some uneasiness that Lucy appeared somewhat
listless and pensive at times, when left quite to herself. Once she
found her with her cheek in her hand, and, by the way the young lady
averted her head and slid suddenly into distinct cheerfulness,
suspected there must have been tears in her eyes, but could not be
positive. Next, she noticed with satisfaction that the round of
gayety, including, as it did, morning rides as well as evening dances,
dissipated these little reveries and languors. She inferred that
either there was nothing in them but a sort of sediment of
_ennui,_ the natural remains of a visit to Font Abbey, or that,
if there was anything more, it had yielded to the active pleasures she
had provided, and to the lady’s easy temper, and love of society, “the
only thing she loves, or ever will,” said Mrs. B., assuming prophecy.

“Aunt, how superior Mr. Hardie’s conversation is. He interests one in
topics that are unbearable generally; politics now. I thought I
abhorred them, but I find it was only those little paltry Whig and
Tory squabbles that wearied me. Mr. Hardie’s views are neither Whig
nor Tory; they are patriotic, and sober, and large-minded. He thinks
of the country. I can take some interest in what he calls politics.”

“And, pray, what is that?”

“Well, aunt, the liberation of commerce from its fetters for one
thing. I can contrive to be interested in that, because I know England
can be great only by commerce. Then the education of all classes,
because without that England cannot be enlightened or good.”

“He never says a word to me about such things,” said Mrs. Bazalgette;
“I suppose he thinks they are above poor me.” She delivered this with
so admirable an imitation of pique, that the courtier was deceived,
and applied butter to “a fox’s wound.”

“Oh no, aunt. Consider; if that was it, he would not waste them on me,
who am so inferior to you in sagacity. More likely he says, ‘This
young lady has not yet completed her education; I will sprinkle a
little good sense among her frivolous accomplishments.’ Whatever the
motive, I am very much obliged to Mr. Hardie. A man of sense is so
refreshing after--(full stop). What do you think of his voice?”

“His voice? I don’t remember anything about it.”

“Yes, you do--you must; it is a very remarkable one; so mellow, so
quiet, yet so modulated.”

“Well, I do remember now; it is rather a pleasant voice--for a man.”

“Rather a pleasant voice!” repeated Lucy, opening her eyes; “why, it
is a voice to charm serpents.”

“Ha! ha! It has not charmed him one yet, you see.”

This speech was not in itself pellucid; but these sweet ladies among
themselves have so few topics compared with men, and consequently beat
their little manor so often, that they seize a familiar idea, under
any disguise, with the rapidity of lightning.

“Oh, charmers are charm-proof,” replied Lucy; “that is the only reason
why. I am sure of that.” Then she reflected awhile. “It is his
natural voice, is it not? Did you ever hear him speak in any other?
Think.”

“Never.”

“Then he must be a good man. Apropos, is Mr. Hardie a good man, aunt?”

“Why, of course he is.”

“How do you know?”

“I never heard of any scandal against him.”

“Oh, I don’t mean your negative goodness. You never heard anything
against _me_ out of doors.”

“Well, and are you not a good girl?”

“Me, aunt? Why, you know I am not.”

“Bless me, what have you done?”

“I have done nothing, aunt,” exclaimed Lucy, “and the good are never
nullities. Then I am not open, which is a great fault in a character.
But I can’t help it! I can’t! I can’t!”

“Well, you need not break your heart for that. You will get over it
before you have been married a year. Look at me; I was as shy as any
of you at first going off, but now I can speak my mind; and a good
thing too, or what would become of me among the selfish set?”

“Meaning me, dear?”

“No. Divide it among you. Come, this is idle talk. Men’s voices, and
whether they are good, bad, or indifferent, as if that mattered a pin,
provided their incomes are good and their manners endurable. I want a
little serious conversation with you.”

“Do you?” and Lucy colored faintly; “with all my heart.”

“We go to the Hunts’ ball the day after to-morrow, Lucy; I suppose you
know that? Now what on earth am I to wear? that is the question. There
is no time to get a new dress made, and I have not got one--”

“That you have not worn at least once.”

“Some of them twice and three times;” and the B looked aghast at the
state of nudity to which she was reduced. Lucy sidled toward the door.

“Since you consult me, dear, I advise you to wear what I mean to wear
myself.”

“Ah! what a capital idea! then we shall pass for sisters. I dare say I
have got some old thing or other that will match yours; but you had
better tell me at once what you do mean to wear.”

“A gown, a pair of gloves, and a smirk”; and with this heartless
expression of nonchalance Lucy glided away and escaped the impending
shower.

“Oh, the selfishness of these girls!” cried the deserted one. “I have
got her a husband to her taste, so now she runs away from me to think
of him.”

The next moment she looked at the enormity from another point of view,
and then with this burst of injured virtue gave way to a steady
complacency.

“She is caught at last. She notices his very voice. She fancies she
cares for politics--ha! ha! She is gone to meditate on him--could not
bear any other topic--would not even talk about dress, a thing her
whole soul was wrapped up in till now. I have known her to go on for
hours at a stretch about it.”

There are people with memories so constructed that what they said, and
another did not contradict or even answer, seems to them, upon
retrospect, to have been delivered by that other person, and received
in dead silence by themselves.

Meantime Lucy was in her own room and the door bolted.

So she was the next day; and uneasy Mrs. Bazalgette came hunting her,
and tapped at the door after first trying the handle, which in Lucy’s
creed was not a discreet and polished act.

“Nobody admitted here till three o’clock.”

“It is me, Lucy.”

“So I conclude,” said Lucy gayly. “‘Me’ must call again at three,
whoever it is.”

“Not I,” said Aunt Bazalgette, and flounced off in a pet.

At three Dignity dissolved in curiosity, and Mrs. Bazalgette entered
her niece’s room in an ill-temper; it vanished like smoke at the sight
of two new dresses, peach-colored and _glacees,_ just finished,
lying on the bed. An eager fire of questions. “Where did you get them?
which is mine? who made them?”

“A new dressmaker.”

“Ah! what a godsend to poor us! Who is she?”

“Let me see how you like her work before I tell you. Try this one on.”

Mrs. Bazalgette tried on her dress, and was charmed with it. Lucy
would not try on hers. She said she had done so, and it fitted well
enough for her.

“Everything fits you, you witch,” replied the B. “I must have this
woman’s address; she is an angel.”

Lucy looked pleased. “She is only a beginner, but desirous to please
you; and ‘zeal goes farther than talent,’ says Mr. Dodd.”

“Mr. Dodd! Ah! by-the-by, that reminds me--I am so glad you mentioned
his name. Where does the woman live?”

“The woman, or, as some consider her, the girl, lives at present with
a charming person called by the world Mrs. Bazalgette, but by the
dressmaker her sweet little aunt--” (kiss) (kiss) (kiss); and Lucy,
whose natural affection for this lady was by a certain law of nature
heated higher by working day and night for her in secret, felt a need
of expansion, and curled, round her like a serpent with a dove’s
heart.


Mrs. Bazalgette did what you and I, manly reader, should have been apt
to omit. She extricated herself, not roughly, yet a little
hastily--like a water-snake gliding out of the other sweet serpent’s
folds.* Sacred dress being present, she deemed caresses frivolous--and
ill-timed. “There, there, let me alone, child, and tell me all about
it directly. ‘What put it into your head? Who taught you? Is this your
first attempt? Have you paid for the silk, or am I to? Do tell me
quick; don’t keep me on thorns!”

     * Here flashes on the cultivated mind the sprightly couplet,

      “Oh, that I had my mistress at this bay,
       To kiss and clip me--till I run away.”

                SHAKESPEARE.--Venus and Adonis.

Lucy answered this fusillade in detail. “You know, aunt, dressmakers
bring us their failures, and we, by our hints, get them made into
successes.”

“So we do.”

“So I said to myself, ‘Now why not bring a little intelligence to bear
at the beginning, and make these things right at once?’ Well, I bought
several books, and studied them, and practiced cutting out, in large
sheets of brown paper first; next I ventured a small flight--I made
Jane a gown.”

“What! your servant?”

“Yes. I had a double motive; first attempts are seldom brilliant, and
it was better to fail in merino, and on Jane, than on you, madam, and
in silk. In the next place, Jane had been giving herself airs, and
objecting to do some work of that kind for me, so I thought it a good
opportunity to teach her that dignity does not consist in being
disobliging. The poor girl is so ashamed now: she comes to me in her
merino frock, and pesters me all day to let her do things for me. I am
at my wit’s end sometimes to invent unreal distresses, like the
writers of fiction, you know; and, aunty, dear, you will not have to
pay for the stuff: to tell you the real truth, I overheard Mr.
Bazalgette say something about the length of your last dressmaker’s
bill, and, as I have been very economical at Font Abbey, I found I had
eighteen pounds to spare, so I said nothing, but I thought we will
have a dress apiece that _nobody_ shall have to pay for.”

“Eighteen pounds? These two lovely dresses, lace, trimmings, and all,
for eighteen pounds!”

“Yes, aunt. So you see those good souls that make our dresses have
imposed upon us without ceremony: they would have been twenty-five
pounds apiece; now would they not?”

“At least. Well, you are a clever girl. I might as well try on yours,
as you won’t.”

“Do, dear.”

She tried on Lucy’s gown, and, as before, got two looking-glasses into
a line, twisted and twirled, and inspected herself north, south, east
and west, and in an hour and a half resigned herself to take the dress
off. Lucy observed with a sly smile that her gayety declined, and she
became silent and pensive.


“In the dead of the night, when with labor oppressed, All mortals
enjoy the sweet blessing of rest,” a phantom stood at Lucy’s bedside
and fingered her. She awoke with a violent scream, the first note of
which pierced the night’s dull ear, but the second sounded like a wail
from a well, being uttered a long way under the bedclothes. “Hush!
don’t be a fool,” cried the affectionate phantom; and kneaded the
uncertain form through the bedclothes; “fancy screeching so at sight
of me!” Then gradually a single eye peeped timidly between two white
hands that held the sheets ready for defense like a shield.

“B--b--but you are all in white,” gulped Lucy, trembling all over; for
her delicate fibers were set quivering, and could not be stilled by a
word, fingered at midnight all in a moment by a shape.

“Why, what color should I be--in my nightgown?” snapped the specter.
“What color is yours?” and she gave Lucy a little angry pull--“and
everybody else’s?”

“But at the dead of night, aunt, and without any warning--it’s
terrible. Oh dear!” (another little gulp in the throat, exceeding
pretty).

“Lucy, be yourself,” said the specter, severely; “you used not to be
so selfish as to turn hysterical when your aunt came to you for
advice.”

Lucy had to do a little. “Forgive, blessed shade!” She apologized,
crushed down her obtrusive, egotistical tremors, and vibrated to
herself.

Placable Aunt Bazalgette accepted her excuses, and opened the business
that brought her there.

“I didn’t leave my bed at this hour for nothing, you may be sure.”

“N--no, aunt.”

“Lucy,” continued Mrs. Bazalgette, deepening, “there is a weight on my
mind.”

Up sat Lucy in the bed, and two sapphire eyes opened wide and made
terror lovely.

“Oh, aunt, what have you been doing? It is remorse, then, that will
not let you sleep. Ah! I see! your flirtations--your flirtations--this
is the end of them.”

“My flirtations!” cried the other, in great surprise. “I never flirt.
I only amuse myself with them.” *

     *In strict grammar this “them” ought to refer to
     “flirtations;” but Lucy’s aunt did not talk strict grammar.
     Does yours?

“You--never--flirt? Oh! oh! oh! Mr. Christopher, Mr. Horne, Sir George
Healey, Mr. M’Donnell, Mr. Wolfenton, Mr. Vaughan--there! oh, and Mr.
Dodd!”

“Well, at all events, it’s not for any of those fools I get out of my
bed at this time of night. I have a weight on my mind; so do be
serious, if you can. Lucy, I tried all yesterday to hide it from
myself, but I cannot succeed.”

“What, dear aunt?”

“That your gown fits me ever so much better than my own.” She sighed
deeply.

Lucy smiled slyly; but she replied, “Is not that fancy?”

“No, Lucy, no,” was the solemn reply; “I have tried to shut my eyes to
it, but I can’t.”

“So it seems. Ha! ha!”

“Now do be serious; it is no laughing matter. How unfortunate I am!”

“Not at all. Take my gown; I can easily alter yours to fit me, if
necessary.”

“Oh, you good girl, how clever you are! I should never have thought of
that.” N. B--She had been thinking of nothing else these six hours.

“Go to bed, dear, and sleep in peace,” said Lucy, soothingly. “Leave
all to me.”

“No, I can’t leave all to you. Now I am to have yours, I must try it
on.” It was hers now, so her confidence in its fitting was shaken.

Mrs. Bazalgette then lighted all the candles in the sconces, and
opened Lucy’s drawers, and took out linen, and put on the dress with
Lucy’s aid, and showed Lucy how it fitted, and was charmed, like a
child with a new toy.

Presently Lucy interrupted her raptures by an exclamation. Mrs.
Bazalgette looked round, and there was her niece inspecting the
ghostly robe which had caused her such a fright.

“Here are oceans of yards of lace on her very nightgrown!” cried Lucy.

“Well, does not every lady wear lace on her nightgown?” was the
tranquil reply. “What is that on yours, pray?”

“A little misery of Valenciennes an inch broad; but this is
Mechlin--superb! delicious! Well, aunt, you are a sincere votary of
the graces; you put on fine things because they are fine things, not
with the hollow motive of dazzling society; you wear Mechlin, not for
_eclat,_ but for Mechlin. Alas! how few, like you, pursue quite
the same course in the dark that they do in the world’s eye.”

“Don’t moralize, dear; unhook me!”


After breakfast Mrs. Bazalgette asked Lucy how long she could give her
to choose which of the two gowns to take, after all.

“Till eight o’clock.”

Mrs. Bazalgette breathed again. She had thought herself committed to
No. 2, and No. 1 was beginning to look lovely in consequence. At
eight, the choice being offered her with impenetrable nonchalance by
Lucy, she took Lucy’s without a moment’s hesitation, and sailed off
gayly to her own room to put it on, in which progress the ample
peach-colored silk held out in both hands showed like Cleopatra’s
foresail, and seemed to draw the dame along.

Lucy, too, was happy--demurely; for in all this business the female
novice, “la ruse sans le savoir,” had outwitted the veteran. Lucy had
measured her whole aunt. So she made dress A for her, but told her she
was to have dress B. This at once gave her desires a perverse bent
toward her own property, the last direction they could have been
warped into by any other means; and so she was deluded to her good,
and fitted to a hair, soul and body.

Going to the ball, one cloud darkened for an instant the matron’s
mind.

“I am so afraid they will see it only cost nine pounds.”

“Enfant!” replied Lucy, “aetat. 20.” At the ball Mr. Hardie and Lucy
danced together, and were the most admired couple.

The next day Mr. Hardie announced that he was obliged to curtail his
visit and go up to London. Mrs. Bazalgette remonstrated. Mr. Hardie
apologized, and asked permission to make out the rest of his visit on
his return. Mrs. B. accorded joyfully, but Lucy objected: “Aunt, don’t
you be deluded into any such arrangement; Mr. Hardie is liable to
another fortnight. We have nothing to do with his mismanagement. He
comes to spend a fortnight with us: he tries, but fails. I am sorry
for Mr. Hardie, but the engagement remains in full force. I appeal to
you, Mr. Bazalgette, you are so exact.”

“I don’t see myself how he can get out of it with credit,” said
Bazalgette, solemnly.

“I am happy to find that my duty is on the side of my inclination,”
 said Mr. Hardie. He smiled, well pleased, and looked handsomer than
ever.

They all missed him more or less, but nobody more than Lucy. His
conversation had a peculiar charm for her. His knowledge of current
events was unparalleled; then there was a quiet potency in him she
thought very becoming in a man; and then his manner. He was the first
of our unfortunate sex who had reached beau ideal. One was harsh,
another finicking; a third loud; a fourth enthusiastic; a fifth timid;
and all failed in tact except Mr. Hardie. Then, other male voices were
imperfect; they were too insignificant or too startling, too bass or
too treble, too something or too other. Mr. Hardie’s was a mellow
tenor, always modulated to the exact tone of good society. Like
herself, too, he never laughed loud, seldom out; and even his smiles,
like her own, did not come in unmeaning profusion, so they told when
they did come.

The Bazalgettes led a very quiet life for the next fortnight, for Mrs.
Bazalgette was husbanding invitations for Mr. Hardie’s return.

Mrs. Bazalgette yawned many times during this barren period, but with
considerate benevolence she shielded Lucy from _ennui._ Lucy was
a dressmaker, gifted, but inexperienced; well, then, she would supply
the latter deficiency by giving her an infinite variety of alterations
to make in a multitude of garments. There are egotists who charge for
tuition, but she would teach her dear niece gratis. A mountain of
dresses rose in the drawing-room, a dozen metamorphoses were put in
hand, and a score more projected.

“She pulled down, she built up, she rounded the angular, and squared
the round.” And here Mr. Bazalgette took perverse views and
misbehaved. He was a very honest man, but not a refined courtier. He
seldom interfered with these ladies, one way or other, except to
provide funds, which interference was never snubbed; for was he not
master of the house in that sense? But, having observed what was going
on day after day in the drawing-room or workshop, he walked in and
behaved himself like a brute.

“How much a week does she give you, Lucy?” said he, looking a little
red.

Lucy opened her eyes in utter astonishment, and said nothing; her very
needle and breath were suspended.

Mrs. Bazalgette shrugged her shoulders to Lucy, but disdained words.
Mr. Bazalgette turned to his wife.

“I have often recommended economy to you, Jane, I need not say with
what success; but this sort of economy is not for your credit or mine.
If you want to add a dressmaker to your staff--with all my heart. Send
for one when you like, and keep her to all eternity. But this young
lady is our ward, and I will not have her made a servant of for your
convenience.”

“Put your work down, dear,” said Mrs. Bazalgette resignedly. “He does
not understand our affection, nor anything else except pounds,
shillings and pence.”

“Oh, yes I do. I can see through varnished selfishness for one thing.”

“You certainly ought to be a judge of the unvarnished article,”
 retorted the lady.

“Having had it constantly under my eyes these twenty years,” rejoined
the gentleman.

“Oh, aunt! Oh, Mr. Bazalgette!” cried Lucy, rising and clasping her
hands; if you really love me, never let me be the cause of a
misunderstanding, or an angry word between those I esteem; it would
make me too miserable; and, dear Mr. Bazalgette, you must let people
be happy in their own way, or you will be sure to make them unhappy.
My aunt and I understand one another better than you do.”

“She understands you, my poor girl.”

“Not so well as I do her. But she knows I hate to be idle, and love to
do these bagatelles for her. It is my doing from the first, not hers;
she did not even know I could do it till I produced two dresses for
the Hunts’ ball. So, you see--”

“That is another matter; all ladies play at work. But you are in for
_three months’ hard labor._ Look at that heap of vanity. She is
making a lady’s-maid of you. It is unjust. It is selfish. It is
improper. It is not for my credit, of which I am more jealous than
coquettes are of theirs; besides, Lucy, you must not think, because I
don’t make a parade as she does, that I am not fond of you. I have a
great deal more real affection for you than she has, and so you will
find if we are ever put to the test.”

At this last absurdity Mrs. Bazalgette burst out laughing. But “la
rusee sans le savoir” turned toward the speaker, and saw that he spoke
with a certain emotion which was not ordinary in him. She instantly
went to him with both hands gracefully extended. “I do think you have
an affection for me. If you really have, show it me _some other
way,_ and not by making me unhappy.”

“Well, then, I will, Lucy. Look here; if Solomon was such a fool as to
argue with one of you young geese you would shut his mouth in a
minute. There, I am going; but you will always be the slave of one
selfish person or other; you were born for it.”

Thus impotently growling, the merchant prince retired from the field,
escorted with amenity by the courtier. In the passage she suddenly
dropped forward like a cypress-tree, and gave him her forehead to
kiss. He kissed it with some little warmth, and confided to her, in
friendly accents, that she was a fool, and off he went, grumbling
inarticulately, to his foreign loans and things.

The courtier returned to smooth her aunt in turn, but that lady
stopped her with a lofty gesture.

“My plan is to look on these monstrosities as horrid dreams, and go on
as if nothing had happened.”

Happy philosophy.

Lucy acquiesced with a smile, and in an instant both immortal souls
plunged and disappeared in silk, satin, feathers and point lace.

The afternoon post brought letters that furnished some excitement. Mr.
Hardie announced his return, and Captain Kenealy accepted an
invitation that had been sent to him two days before. But this was not
all. Mrs. Bazalgette, with something between a laugh and a crow,
handed Lucy a letter from Mr. Fountain, in which that diplomatic
gentleman availed himself of her kind invitation, and with elephantine
playfulness proposed, as he could not stay a month with her, to be
permitted to bring a friend with him for a fortnight. This friend had
unfortunately missed her through absence from his country-house at the
period of her visit to Font Abbey, and had so constantly regretted his
ill fortune that he (Fountain) had been induced to make this attempt
to repair the calamity. His friend’s name was Talboys; he was a
gentleman of lineage, and in his numerous travels had made a
collection of foreign costumes which were really worth inspecting,
and, if agreeable to Mrs. Bazalgette, he should send them on before by
wagon, for no carriage would hold them.

Lucy colored on reading this letter, for it repeated a falsehood that
had already made her blush. The next moment, remembering how very
keenly her aunt must be eying her, and reading her, she looked
straight before her, and said coldly, “Uncle Fountain ought to be
welcome here for his courtesy to you at Font Abbey, but I think he
takes rather a liberty in proposing a stranger to you.”

“Rather a liberty? Say a very great liberty.”

“Well, then, aunt, why not write back that any friend of his would be
welcome, but that the house is full? You have only room for Uncle
Fountain.”

“But that is not true, Lucy,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, with sudden
dignity.

Lucy was staggered and abashed at this novel objection; recovering,
she whined humbly, “but it is very nearly true.”

It was plain Lucy did not want Mr. Talboys to visit them. This decided
Mrs. Bazalgette to let his dresses and him come. He would only be a
foil to Mr. Hardie, and perhaps bring him on faster. Her decision once
made on the above grounds, she conveyed it in characteristic colors.
“No, my love; where I give my affection, there I give my confidence. I
have your word not to encourage this gentleman’s addresses, so why
hurt your uncle’s feelings by closing my door to his friend? It would
be an ill compliment to you as well as to Mr. Fountain; he shall
come.”

Her postscript to Mr. Fountain ran thus:

“Your friend would have been welcome independently of the foreign
costumes; but as I am a very candid little woman, I may as well tell
you that, now you _have_ excited my curiosity, he will be a great
deal more welcome with them than without them.”

And here I own that I, the simpleminded, should never have known all
that was signified in these words but for the comment of John
Fountain, Esq.

“It is all right, Talboys,” said he. “My bait has taken. You must pack
up these gimcracks at once and send them off, or she’ll smile like a
marble Satan in your face, and stick you full of pins and needles.”

The next day Mr. Bazalgette walked into the room, haughtily overlooked
the pyramid of dresses, and asked Lucy to come downstairs and see
something. She put her work aside, and went down with him, and lo! two
ponies--a cream-colored and a bay. “Oh, you loves!” cried the virgin,
passionately, and blushed with pleasure. Her heart was very
accessible--to quadrupeds.

“Now you are to choose which of these you will have.”

“Oh, Mr. Bazalgette!”

“Have you forgotten what you told me? ‘Try and make me happy some
other way,’ says you. Now I remembered hearing you say what a nice
pony you had at Font Abbey; so I sent a capable person to collect
ponies for you. These have both a reputation. Which will you have?”

“Dear, good, kind Uncle Bazalgette; they are ducks!”

“Let us hope not; a duck’s paces won’t suit you, if you are as fond of
galloping as other young ladies. Come, jump up, and see which is the
best brute of the two.”

“What, without my habit?”

“Well, get your habit on, then. Let us see how quick you can be.”

Off ran Lucy, and soon returned fully equipped. She mounted the ponies
in turn, and rode them each a mile or two in short distances. Finally
she dismounted, and stood beaming on the steps of the hall. The groom
held the ponies for final judgment.

“The bay is rather the best goer, dear,” said she, timidly.

“Miss Fountain chooses the bay, Tom.”

“No, uncle, I was going to ask you if I might have the cream-colored
one. He is so pretty.”

“Ha! ha! ha! here’s a little goose. Why, they are to ride, not to
wear. Come, I see you are in a difficulty. Take them both to the
stable, Tom.”

“No, no, no,” cried Lucy. “Oh, Mr. Bazalgette, don’t tempt me to be so
wicked.” Then she put both her fingers in her ears and screamed, “Take
the bay darling out of my sight, and leave the cream-colored love.”
 And as she persisted in this order, with her fingers in her ears, and
an inclination to stamp with her little feet, the bay disappeared and
color won the day.

Then she dropped suddenly like a cypress toward Mr. Bazalgette, which
meant “you can kiss me.” This time it was her cheek she proffered, all
glowing with exercise and innocent excitement.


Captain Kenealy was the first arrival: a well-appointed soldier; eyes
equally bright under calm and excitement, mustache always clean and
glossy; power of assent prodigious. He looked so warlike, and was so
inoffensive, that he was in great request for miles and miles round
the garrison town of ----. The girls, at first introduction to him,
admired him, and waited palpitating to be torn from their mammas, and
carried half by persuasion, half by force, to their conqueror’s tent;
but after a bit they always found him out, and talked before, and at,
and across this ornament as if it had been a bronze Mars, or a
mustache-tipped shadow. This the men viewing from a little distance
envied the gallant captain, and they might just as well have been
jealous of a hair-dresser’s dummy.

One eventful afternoon, Mrs. Bazalgette and Miss Fountain walked out,
taking the gallant captain between them as escort. Reginald hovered on
the rear. Kenealy was charmingly equipped, and lent the party a
luster. If he did not contribute much to the conversation, he did not
interrupt it, for the ladies talked through him as if he had been a
column of red air. Sing, muse, how often Kenealy said “yaas” that
afternoon; on second thoughts, don’t. I can weary my readers without
celestial aid: Toot! toot! toot! went a cheerful horn, and the
mail-coach came into sight round a corner, and rolled rapidly toward
them. Lucy looked anxiously round, and warned Master Reginald of the
danger now impending over infants. The terrible child went instantly
(on the “vitantes stulti vitia” principle) clean off the road
altogether into the ditch, and clayed (not pipe) his trousers to the
knee. As the coach passed, a gentleman on the box took off his hat to
the ladies and made other signs. It was Mr. Hardie.

Mrs. Bazalgette proposed to return home to receive him. They were
about a mile from the house. They had not gone far before the
rear-guard intermitted blackberrying for an instant, and uttered an
eldrich screech; then proclaimed, “Another coach! another coach!” It
was a light break coming gently along, with two showy horses in it,
and a pony trotting behind.

At one and the same moment Lucy recognized a four-footed darling, and
the servant recognized her. He drew up, touched his hat, and inquired
respectfully whether he was going right for Mr. Bazalgette’s. Mrs.
Bazalgette gave him directions while Lucy was patting the pony, and
showering on him those ardent terms of endearment some ladies bestow
on their lovers, but this one consecrated to her trustees and
quadrupeds. In the break were saddles, and a side-saddle, and other
caparisons, and a giant box; the ladies looked first at it, and then
through Kenealy at one another, and so settled what was inside that
box.

They had not walked a furlong before a traveling-carriage and four
horses came dashing along, and heads were put out of the window, and
the postboys ordered to stop. Mr. Talboys and Mr. Fountain got out,
and the carriage was sent on. Introductions took place. Mrs.
Bazalgette felt her spirits rise like a veteran’s when line of battle
is being formed. She was one of those ladies who are agreeable or
disagreeable at will. She decided to charm, and she threw her
enchantment over Messrs. Fountain and Talboys. Coming with hostile
views, and therefore guilty consciences, they had expected a cold
welcome. They received a warm, gay, and airy one. After a while she
maneuvered so as to get between Mr. Fountain and Captain Kenealy, and
leave Lucy to Mr. Talboys. She gave her such a sly look as she did it.
It implied, “You will have to tell me all he says to you while we are
dressing.”

Mr. Talboys inquired who was Captain Kenealy. He learned by her answer
that that officer had arrived to-day, and she had no previous
acquaintance with him.

Whatever little embarrassment Lucy might feel, remembering her
equestrian performance with Mr. Talboys and its cause, she showed
none. She began about the pony, and how kind of him it was to bring
it. “And yet,” said she, “if I had known, I would not have allowed you
to take the trouble, for I have a pony here.”

Mr. Talboys was sorry for that, but he hoped she would ride his now
and then, all the same.

“Oh, of course. My pony here is very pretty. But a new friend is not
like an old friend.”

Mr. Talboys was gratified on more accounts than one by this speech. It
gave him a sense of security. She had no friend about her now she had
known as long as she had him, and those three months of constant
intimacy placed him above competition. His mind was at ease, and he
felt he could pop with a certainty of success, and pop he would, too,
without any unnecessary delay.

The party arrived in great content and delectation at the gates that
led to the house. “Stay!” said Mrs. Bazalgette; “you must come across
the way, all of you. Here is a view that all our guests are expected
to admire. Those, that cry out ‘Charming! beautiful! Oh, I never!’ we
take them in and make them comfortable. Those that won’t or can’t
ejaculate--”

“You put them in damp beds,” said Mr. Fountain, only half in jest.

“Worse than that, sir--we flirt with them, and disturb the placid
current of their hearts forever and ever. Don’t we, Lucy?”

“You know best, aunt,” said Lucy, half malice, half pout. The others
followed the gay lady, and, when the view burst, ejaculated to order.

But Mr. Fountain stood ostentatiously in the middle of the road, with
his legs apart, like him of Rhodes. “I choose the alternative,” cried
he. “Sooner than pretend I admire sixteen plowed fields and a hill as
much as I do a lawn and flower-beds, I elect to be flirted, and my
what do ye call ‘em?--my stagnant current--turned into a whirlpool.”
 Ere the laugh had well subsided, caused by this imitation of Hercules
and his choice, he struck up again, “Good news for you, young
gentleman; I smell a ball; here is a fiddle-case making for this
hospitable mansion.”

“No,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, “I never ordered any musician to come
here.”

A tall but active figure came walking light as a feather, with a large
carpet-bag on his back, a boy behind carrying a violin-case.

Lucy colored and lowered her eyes, but never said a word.

The young man came up to the gate, and then Mr. Talboys recognized
him.

He hesitated a single moment, then turned and came to the group and
took off his hat to the ladies. It was David Dodd!



CHAPTER XIV.

THE new guest’s manner of presenting himself with his stick over his
shoulder, and his carpet-bag on his back, subjected him to a battery
of stares from Kenealy, Talboys, Fountain, and abashed him sore.

This lasted but a moment. He had one friend in the group who was too
true to her flirtations while they endured, and too strong-willed, to
let her flirtee be discouraged by mortal.

“Why, it is Mr. Dodd,” cried she, with enthusiasm, and she put forth
both hands to him, the palms downward, with a smiling grace. “Surely
you know Mr. Dodd,” said she, turning round quickly to the gentlemen,
with a smile on her lip, but a dangerous devil in her eye.

The mistress of the house is all-powerful on these occasions. Messrs.
Talboys and Fountain were forced to do the amiable, raging within;
Lucy anticipated them; but her welcome was a cold one. Says Mrs.
Bazalgette, tenderly, “And why do you carry that heavy bag, when you
have that great stout lad with you? I think it is his business to
carry it, not yours”; and her eyes scathed the boy, fiddle and all.

All the time she was saying this David was winking to her, and making
faces to her not to go on that tack. His conduct now explained his
pantomime. “Here, youngster,” said he, “you take these things
in-doors, and here is your half-crown.”

Lucy averted her head, and smiled unobserved.

As soon as the lad was out of hearing, David continued: “It was not
worth while to mortify him. The fact is, I hired him to carry it; but,
bless you, the first mile he began to go down by the head, and would
have foundered; so we shifted our cargoes.” This amused Kenealy, who
laughed good-humoredly. On this, David laughed for company.

“There,” cried his inamorata, with rapture, “that is Mr. Dodd all
over; thinks of everybody, high or low, before himself.” There was a
grunt somewhere behind her; her quick ear caught it; she turned round
like a thing on a pivot, and slapped the nearest face. It happened to
be Fountain’s; so she continued with such a treacle smile, “Don’t you
remember, sir, how he used to teach your cub mathematics gratis?” The
sweet smile and the keen contemporaneous scratch confounded Mr.
Fountain for a second. As soon as he revived he said stiffly, “We can
all appreciate Mr. Dodd.”

Having thus established her Adonis on a satisfactory footing, she
broke out all over graciousness again, and, smiling and chatting, led
her guests beneath the hospitable roof.

But one of these guests did not respond to her cheerful strain. The
Norman knight was full of bitterness. Mr. Talboys drew his friend
aside and proposed to him to go back again. The senior was aghast.
“Don’t be so precipitate,” was all that he could urge this time.
“Confound the fellow! Yes, if that is the man she prefers to you, I
will go home with you to-morrow, and the vile hussy shall never enter
my doors again.”

In this mind the pair went devious to their dressing-rooms.


One day a witty woman said of a man that “he played the politician
about turnips and cabbages.” That might be retorted (by a snob and
brute) on her own sex in general, and upon Mrs. Bazalgette in
particular. This sweet lady maneuvered on a carpet like Marlborough on
the south of France. She was brimful of resources, and they all tended
toward one sacred object, getting her own way. She could be imperious
at a pinch and knock down opposition; but she liked far better to
undermine it, dissolve it, or evade it. She was too much of a woman to
run straight to her _je-le-veux,_ so long as she could wind
thitherward serpentinely and by detour. She could have said to Mr.
Hardie, “You will take down Lucy to dinner,” and to Mr. Dodd, “You
will sit next me”; but no, she must mold her males--as per sample.

To Mr. Fountain she said, “Your friend, I hear, is of old family.”

“Came in with the Conqueror, madam.”

“Then he shall take me down: that will be the first step toward
conquering me--ha! ha!” Fountain bowed, well pleased.

To Mr. Hardie she said, “Will you take down Lucy to-day? I see she
enjoys your conversation. Observe how disinterested I am.”

Hardie consented with twinkling composure.

Before dinner she caught Kenealy, drew him aside, and put on a long
face. “I am afraid I must lose you to-day at dinner. Mr. Dodd is quite
a stranger, and they all tell me I must put him at his ease.

“Yaas.”

“Well, then, you had better get next Lucy, as you can’t have me.”

“Yaas.”

“And, Captain Kenealy, you are my aid-de-camp. It is a delightful
post, you know, and rather a troublesome one.”

“Yaas.”

“You must help me be kind to this sailor.”

“Yaas. He is a good fellaa. Carried the baeg for the little caed.”

“Oh, did he?”

“And didn’t maind been laughed at.”

“Now, that shows how intelligent you must be,” said the wily one; “the
others could not comprehend the trait. Well, you and I must patronize
him. Merit is always so dreadfully modest.”

“Yaas.”

This arrangement was admirable, but human; consequently, not without a
flaw. Uncle Fountain was left to chance, like the flying atoms of
Epicurus, and chance put him at Bazalgette’s right hand save one. From
this point his inquisitive eye commanded David Dodd and Mrs.
Bazalgette, and raked Lucy and her neighbors, who were on the opposite
side of the table. People who look, bent on seeing everything,
generally see something; item, it is not always what they would like
to see.

As they retired to rest for the night, Mr. Fountain invited his friend
to his room.

“We shall not have to go home. I have got the key to our antagonist.
Young Dodd is _her_ lover.” Talboys shook his head with cool
contempt. “What I mean is that she has invited him for her own
amusement, not her niece’s. I never saw a woman throw herself at any
man’s head as she did at that sailor’s all dinner. Her very husband
saw it. He is a cool hand, that Bazalgette; he only grinned, and took
wine with the sailor. He has seen a good many go the same
road--soldiers, sailors, tinkers, tai--”

Talboys interrupted him. “I really must call you to order. You are
prejudiced against poor Mrs. Bazalgette, and prejudice blinds
everybody. Politeness required that she should show some attention to
her neighbor, but her principal attention was certainly not bestowed
on Mr. Dodd.”

Fountain was surprised. “On whom, then?”

“Well, to tell the truth, on your humble servant.”

Fountain stared. “I observed she did not neglect you; but when she
turned to Dodd her face puckered itself into smiles like a bag.”

“I did not see it, and I was nearer her than you,” said Talboys
coldly.

“But I was in front of her.”

“Yes, a mile off.” There being no jurisconsult present to explain to
these two magistrates that if fifty people don’t see a woman pucker
her face like a bag, and one does see her p. h. f. l. a. b., the
affirmative evidence preponderates, they were very near coming to a
quarrel on this grave point. It was Fountain who made peace. He
suddenly remembered that his friend had never been known to change an
opinion. “Well,” said he, “let us leave that; we shall have other
opportunities of watching Dodd and her; meantime I am sorry I cannot
convince you of my good news, for I have some bad to balance it. You
have a rival, and he did not sit next Mrs. Bazalgette.”

“Pray may I ask whom he did sit next?” sneered Talboys.

“He sat--like a man who meant to win--by the girl herself.”

“Oh, then it is that sing-song captain you fear, sir?” drawled
Talboys.

“No, sir, no more than I dread the _epergne._ Try the other
side.”

“What, Mr. Hardie? Why, he is a banker.”

“And a rich one.”

“She would never marry a banker.”

“Perhaps not, if she were uninfluenced; but we are not at Talboys
Court or Font Abbey now. We have fallen into a den of _parvenues._ That
Hardie is a great catch, according to their views, and all Mrs.
Bazalgette’s influence with Lucy will be used in his favor.

“I think not. She spoke quite slightingly of him to me.”

“Did she? Then that puts the matter quite beyond doubt. Why should she
speak slightingly of him? Bazalgette spoke to me of him with grave
veneration. He is handsome, well behaved, and the girl talked to him
nineteen to the dozen. Mrs. Bazalgette could not be sincere in
underrating him. She undervalued him to throw dust in your eyes.”

“It is not so easy to throw dust in my eyes.”

“I don’t say it is; but this woman will do it; she is as artful as a
fox. She hoodwinked even me for a moment. I really did not see through
her feigned politeness in letting you take her down to dinner.”

“You mistake her character entirely. She is coquettish, and not so
well-bred as her niece, but artful she is not. In fact, there is
almost a childish frankness about her.”

At this stroke of observation Fountain burst out laughing bitterly.

Talboys turned pale with suppressed ire, and went on doggedly: “You
are mistaken in every particular. Mrs. Bazalgette has no fixed views
for her niece, and I by no means despair of winning her to my side.
She is anything but discouraging.”

Fountain groaned.

“Mr. Hardie is a new acquaintance, and Miss Fountain told me herself
she preferred old friends to new. She looked quite conscious as she
said it. In a word, Mr. Dodd is the only rival I have to
fear--good-night;” and he went out with a stately wave of the hand,
like royalty declining farther conference. Mr. Fountain sank into an
armchair, and muttered feebly, “Good-night.” There he sat collapsed
till his friend’s retiring steps were heard no more; then, springing
wildly to his feet, he relieved his swelling mind with a long, loud,
articulated roar of Anglo-Saxon, “Fool! dolt! coxcomb! noodle! puppy!
ass!!!!”

Did ye ever read “Tully ‘de Amicitia’?”


David Dodd was saved from misery by want of vanity. His reception at
the gate by Miss Fountain was cool and constrained, but it did not
wound him. For the last month life had been a blank to him. She was
his sun. He saw her once more, and the bare sight filled him with life
and joy. His was naturally a sanguine, contented mind. Some lovers
equally ardent would have seen more to repine at than to enjoy in the
whole situation; not so David. She sat between Kenealy and Hardie, but
her presence filled the whole room, and he who loved her better than
any other had the best right to be happy in the place that held her.
He had only to turn his eyes, and he could see her. What a blessing,
after a month of vacancy and darkness. This simple idolatry made him
so happy that his heart overflowed on all within reach. He gave Mrs.
Bazalgette answers full of kindness and arch gayety combined. He
charmed an old married lady on his right. His was the gay, the merry
end of the table, and others wished themselves up at it.

After the ladies had retired, his narrative powers, _bonhomie_
and manly frankness soon told upon the men, and peals of genuine
laughter echoed up to the very drawing-room, bringing a deputation
from the kitchen to the keyhole, and irritating the ladies overhead,
who sat trickling faint monosyllables about their three little topics.

Lucy took it philosophically. “Now those are the good creatures that
are said to be so unhappy without us. It was a weight off their minds
when the door closed on our retiring forms--ha! ha!”

“It was a restraint taken off them, my dear,” said Mrs. Mordan, a
starched dowager, stiffening to the naked eye as she spoke. “When they
laugh like that, they are always saying something improper.”

“Oh, the wicked things,” replied Lucy, mighty calmly.

“I wish I knew what they are saying,” said eagerly another young lady;
then added, “Oh!” and blushed, observing her error mirrored in all
eyes.

Lucy the Clement instructed her out of the depths of her own
experience in impropriety. “They swear. That is what Mrs. Mordan
means,” and so to the piano with dignity.

Presently in came Messrs. Fountain and Talboys. Mrs. Bazalgette asked
the former a little crossly how he could make up his mind to leave the
gay party downstairs.

“Oh, it was only that fellow Dodd. The dog is certainly very amusing,
but ‘there’s metal more attractive here.’”

Coffee and tea were fired down at the other gentlemen by way of hints;
but Dodd prevailed over all, and it was nearly bedtime when they
joined the ladies.

Mr. Talboys had an hour with Lucy, and no rival by to ruffle him.

Next day a riding-party was organized. Mr. Talboys decided in his mind
that Kenealy was even less dangerous than Hardie, so lent him the
quieter of his two nags, and rode a hot, rampageous brute, whose very
name was Lucifer, so that will give you an idea. The grooms had driven
him with a kicking-strap and two pair of reins, and even so were
reluctant to drive him at all, but his steady companion had balanced
him a bit. Lucy was to ride her old pony, and Mrs. Bazalgette the new.
The horses came to the door; one of the grooms offered to put Lucy up.
Talboys waved him loftily back, and then, strange as it may appear,
David, for the first time in his life, saw a gentleman lift a lady
into the saddle.

Lucy laid her right hand on the pommel and resigned her left foot; Mr.
Talboys put his hand under that foot and heaved her smoothly into the
saddle. “That is clever,” thought simple David; “that chap has got
more pith in his arm than one would think.” They cantered away, and
left him looking sadly after them. It seemed so hard that another man
should have her sweet foot in his hand, should lift her whole glorious
person, and smooth her sacred dress, and he stand by helpless; and
then the indifference with which that man had done it all. To him it
had been no sacred pleasure, no great privilege. A sense of loneliness
struck chill on David as the clatter of her pony’s hoofs died away. He
was in the house; but in that house was a sort of inner circle, of
which she was the center, and he was to be outside it altogether.

Liable to great wrath upon great occasions, he had little of that
small irritability that goes with an egotistical mind and feminine
fiber, so he merely hung his head, blamed nobody, and was sad in a
manly way. While he leaned against the portico in this dejected mood,
a little hand pulled his coat-tail. It was Master Reginald, who looked
up in his face, and said timidly, “Will you play with me?” The fact
is, Mr. Reginald’s natural audacity had received a momentary check. He
had just put this same question to Mr. Hardie in the library, and had
been rejected with ignominy, and recommended to go out of doors for
his own health and the comfort of such as desired peaceable study of
British and foreign intelligence.

“That I will, my little gentleman,” said David, “if I know the game.”

“Oh, I don’t care what it is, so that it is fun. What is your name?”

“David Dodd.”

“Oh.”

“And what is yours?”

“What, don’t--you--know??? Why, Reginald George Bazalgette. I am
seven. I am the eldest. I am to have more money than the others when
papa dies, Jane says. I wonder when he will die.”

“When he does you will lose his love, and that is worth more than his
money; so you take my advice and love him dearly while you have got
him.”

“Oh, I like papa very well. He is good-natured all day long. Mamma is
so ill-tempered till dinner, and then they won’t let me dine with her;
and then, as soon as mamma has begun to be good-tempered upstairs in
the drawing-room, my bedtime comes directly; it’s abominable!!” The
last word rose into a squeak under his sense of wrong.

David smiled kindly: “So it seems we all have our troubles,” said he.

“What! have you any troubles?” and Reginald opened his eyes in wonder.
He thought size was an armor against care.

“Not so many as most folk, thank God, but I have some,” and David
sighed.

“Why, if I was as big as you, I’d have no troubles. I’d beat everybody
that troubled me, and I would marry Lucy directly”; and at that
beloved name my lord falls into a reverie ten seconds long.

David gave a start, and an ejaculation rose to his lips. He looked
down with comical horror upon the little chubby imp who had divined
his thought.

Mr. Reginald soon undeceived him. “She is to be my wife, you know.
Don’t you think she will make a capital one?” Before David could
decide this point for him, the kaleidoscopic mind of the terrible
infant had taken another turn. “Come into the stable-yard; I’ll show
you Tom,” cried young master, enthusiastically. Finally, David had to
make the boy a kite. When made it took two hours for the paste to dry;
and as every ten minutes spent in waiting seemed an hour to one of Mr.
Reginald’s kidney, as the English classics phrase it, he was almost in
a state of frenzy at last, and flew his new kite with yells. But after
a bit he missed a familiar incident; “It doesn’t tumble down; my other
kites all tumble down.”

“More shame for them,” said David, with a dash of contempt, and
explained to him that tumbling down is a flaw in a kite, just as
foundering at sea is a vile habit in a ship, and that each of these
descents, however picturesque to childhood’s eye, implies a
construction originally derective, or some little subsequent
mismanagement. It appeared by Reginald’s retort that when his kite
tumbled he had the tumultuous joy of flying it again, but, by its
keeping the air like this, monotony reigned; so he now proposed that
his new friend should fasten the string to the pump-handle, and play
at ball with him beneath the kite. The good-natured sailor consented,
and thus the little voluptuary secured a terrestrial and ever-varying
excitement, while occasional glances upward soothed him with the mild
consciousness that there was his property still hovering in the
empyrean; amid all which, poor love-sick David was seized with a
desire to hear the name of her he loved, and her praise, even from
these small lips. “So you are very fond of Miss Lucy?” said he.

“Yes,” replied Reginald, dryly, and said no more; for it is a
characteristic of the awfu’ bairn to be mute where fluency is
required, voluble where silence.

“I wonder why you love her so much,” said David, cunningly. Reginald’s
face, instead of brightening with the spirit of explanation, became
instantly lack-luster and dough-like; for, be it known, to the
everlasting discredit of human nature, that his affection and
matrimonial intentions, as they were no secret, so they were the butt
of satire from grown-up persons of both sexes in the house, and of
various social grades; down to the very gardener, all had had a fling
at him. But soon his natural cordiality gained the better of that
momentary reserve. “Well, I’ll tell you,” said he, “because you have
behaved well all day.”

David was all expectation.

“I like her because she has got red cheeks, and does whatever one asks
her.”


Oh, breadth of statement! Why was not David one of your repeaters? He
would have gone and told Lucy. I should have liked her to know in what
grand primitive colors peach-bloom and queenly courtesy strike what
Mr. Tennyson is pleased to call “the deep mind of dauntless infancy.”
 But David Dodd was not a reporter, and so I don’t get my way; and how
few of us do! not even Mr. Reginald, whose joyous companionship with
David was now blighted by a footman. At sight of the coming plush,
“There, now!” cried Reginald. He anticipated evil, for messages from
the ruling powers were nearly always adverse to his joys. The footman
came to say that his master would feel obliged if Mr. Dodd would step
into his study a minute.

David went immediately.

“There, now!” squeaked Reginald, rising an octave. “I’m never happy
for two hours together.” This was true. He omitted to add, “Nor
unhappy for one.” The dear child sought comfort in retaliation. He
took stones and pelted the footman’s retiring calves. His admirers, if
any, will be glad to learn that this act of intelligent retribution
soothed his deep mind a little.

Mr. Bazalgette had been much interested by David’s conversation the
last night, and, hearing he was not with the riding-party, had a mind
to chat with him. David found him in a magnificent study, lined with
books, and hung with beautiful maps that lurked in mahogany cylinders
attached to the wall; and you pulled them out by inserting a
brass-hooked stick into their rings, and hauling. Mr. Bazalgette began
by putting him a question about a distant port to which he had just
sent out some goods. David gave him full information. Began,
seaman-like, with the entrance to the harbor, and told him what danger
his captain should look out for in running in, and how to avoid it;
and from that went to the character of the natives, their tricks upon
the sailors, their habits, tastes, and fancies, and, entering with
intelligence into his companion’s business, gave him some very shrewd
hints as to the sort of cargo that would tempt them to sell the very
rings out of their ears. Succeeding so well in this, Mr. Bazalgette
plied him on other points, and found him full of valuable matter, and,
by a rare union of qualities, very modest and very frank. “Now I like
this,” said Mr. Bazalgette, cheerfully. “This is a return to old
customs. A century or two ago, you know, the merchant and the captain
felt themselves parts of the same stick, and they used to sit and
smoke together before a voyage, and sup together after one, and be
always putting their heads together; but of late the stick has got so
much longer, and so many knots between the handle and the point, that
we have quite lost sight of one another. Here we merchants sit at home
at ease, and send you fine fellows out among storms and waves, and
think more of a bale of cotton spoiled than of a captain drowned.”

David. “And we eat your bread, sir, as if it dropped from the
clouds, and quite forget whose money and spirit of enterprise causes
the ship to be laid on the stocks, and then built, and then rigged,
and then launched, and then manned, and then sailed from port to
port.”

“Well, well, if you eat our bread, we eat your labor, your skill, your
courage, and sometimes your lives, I am sorry to say. Merchants and
captains ought really to be better acquainted.”

“Well, sir,” said David, “now you mention it, you are the first
merchant of any consequence I ever had the advantage of talking with.”

“The advantage is mutual, sir; you have given me one or two hints I
could not have got from fifty merchants. I mean to coin you, Captain
Dodd.”

David laughed and blushed. “I doubt it will be but copper coin if you
do. But I am not a captain; I am only first mate.”

“You don’t say so! Why, how comes that?”

“Well, sir, I went to sea very young, but I wasted a year or two in
private ventures. When I say wasted, I picked up a heap of knowledge
that I could not have gained on the China voyage, but it has lost me a
little in length of standing; but, on the other hand, I have been very
lucky; it is not every one that gets to be first mate at my age; and
after next voyage, if I can only make a little bit of interest, I
think I shall be a captain. No, sir, I wish I was a captain; I never
wished it as now;” and David sighed deeply.

“Humph!” said Mr. Bazalgette, and took a note.

He then showed David his maps. David inspected them with almost boyish
delight, and showed the merchant the courses of ships on Eastern and
Western voyages, and explained the winds and currents that compelled
them to go one road and return another, and in both cases to go so
wonderfully out of what seems the track as they do. _Bref,_ the
two ends of the mercantile stick came nearer.

“My study is always open to you, Mr. Dodd, and I hope you will not let
a day pass without obliging me by looking in upon me.”

David thanked him, and went out innocently unconscious that he had
performed an unparalleled feat. In the hall he met Captain Kenealy,
who, having received orders to amuse him, invited him to play at
billiards. David consented, out of good-nature, to please Kenealy.
Thus the whole day passed, and _les facheux_ would not let him
get a word with Lucy.

At dinner he was separated from her, and so hotly and skillfully
engaged by Mrs. Bazalgette that he had scarcely time to look at his
idol. After dinner he had to contest her with Mr. Talboys and Mr.
Hardie, the latter of whom he found a very able and sturdy antagonist.
Mr. Hardie had also many advantages over him. First, the young lady
was not the least shy of Mr. Hardie, but the parting scene beyond
Royston had put her on her guard against David, and her instinct of
defense made her reserved with him. Secondly, Mrs. Bazalgette was
perpetually making diversions, whose double object was to get David to
herself and leave Lucy to Mr. Hardie.

With all this David found, to his sorrow, that, though he now lived
under the same roof with her, he was not so near her as at Font Abbey.
There was a wall of etiquette and of rivals, and, as he now began to
fear, of her own dislike between them. To read through that mighty
transparent jewel, a female heart, Nauta had recourse--to what, do you
think? To arithmetic. He set to work to count how many times she spoke
to each of the party in the drawing-room, and he found that Mr. Hardie
was at the head of the list, and he was at the bottom. That might be
an accident; perhaps this was his black evening; so he counted her
speeches the next evening. The result was the same. Droll statistics,
but sad and convincing to the simple David. His spirits failed him;
his aching heart turned cold. He withdrew from the gay circle, and sat
sadly with a book of prints before him, and turned the leaves
listlessly. In a pause of the conversation a sigh was heard in the
corner. They all looked round, and saw David all by himself, turning
over the leaves, but evidently not inspecting them.

A sort of flash of satirical curiosity went from eye to eye.

But tact abounded at one end of the room, if there was a dearth of it
at the other.

_La rusee sans le savoir_ made a sign to them all to take no
notice; at the same time she whispered: “Going to sea in a few days
for two years; the thought will return now and then.” Having said this
with a look at her aunt, that, Heaven knows how, gave the others the
notion that it was to Mrs. Bazalgette she owed the solution of David’s
fit of sadness, she glided easily into indifferent topics. So then the
others had a momentary feeling of pity for David. Miss Lucy noticed
this out of the tail of her eye.

That night David went to bed thoroughly wretched. He could not sleep,
so he got up and paced the deck of his room with a heavy heart. At
last, in his despair, he said, “I’ll fire signals of distress.” So he
sat down and took a sheet of paper, and fired: “Nothing has turned as
I expected. She treats me like a stranger. I seem to drop astern
instead of making any way. Here are three of us, I do believe, and all
seem preferred to your poor brother; and, indeed, the only thing that
gives me any hope is that she seems too kind to be in earnest, for it
is not in her angelic nature to be really unkind; and what have I
done? Eve, dear, such a change from what she was at Font Abbey, and
that happy evening when she came and drank tea with us, and lighted
our little garden up, and won your heart, that was always a little set
against her. Now it is so different that I sit and ask myself whether
all that is not a dream. Can anyone change so in one short month? I
could not. But who knows? perhaps I do her wrong. You know I never
could read her at home without your help, and, dear Eve, I miss you
now from my side most sadly. Without you I seem to be adrift, without
rudder or compass.”

Then, as he could not sleep, he dressed himself, and went out at four
o’clock in the morning. He roamed about with a heavy heart; at last he
bethought him of his fiddle. Since Lucy’s departure from Font Abbey
this had been a great solace to him. It was at once a depository and
vent to him; he poured out his heart to it and by it; sometimes he
would fancy, while he played, that he was describing the beauties of
her mind and person; at others, regretting the sad fate that separated
him from her; or, hope reviving, would see her near him, and be
telling her how he loved her; and, so great an inspirer is love, he
had invented more than one clear melody during the last month, he who
up to that time had been content to render the thoughts of others,
like most fiddlers and composers.

So he said to himself, “I had better not play in the house, or I shall
wake them out of their first sleep.”

He brought out his violin, got among some trees near the stable-yard,
and tried to soothe his sorrowful heart. He played sadly, sweetly and
dreamingly. He bade the wooden shell tell all the world how lonely he
was, only the magic shell told it so tenderly and tunefully that he
soon ceased to be alone. The first arrival was on four legs: Pepper, a
terrier with a taste for sounds. Pepper arrived cautiously, though in
a state of profound curiosity, and, being too wise to trust at once to
his ears, avenue of sense by which we are all so much oftener deceived
than by any other, he first smelled the musician carefully and
minutely all round. What he learned by this he and his Creator alone
know, but apparently something reassuring; for, as soon as he had
thoroughly snuffed his Orpheus, he took up a position exactly opposite
him, sat up high on his tail, cocked his nose well into the air, and
accompanied the violin with such vocal powers as Nature had bestowed
on him. Nor did the sentiment lose anything, in intensity at all
events, by the vocalist. If David’s strains were plaintive, Pepper’s
were lugubrious; and what may seem extraordinary, so long as David
played softly the Cerberus of the stableyard whined musically, and
tolerably in tune; but when he played loud or fast poor Pepper got
excited, and in his wild endeavors to equal the violin vented dismal
and discordant howls at unpleasantly short intervals. All this
attracted David’s attention, and he soon found he could play upon
Pepper as well as the fiddle, raising him and subduing him by turns;
only, like the ocean, Pepper was not to be lulled back to his musical
ripple quite so quickly as he could be lashed into howling frenzy.

While David was thus playing, and Pepper showing a fearful broadside
of ivory teeth, and flinging up his nose and sympathizing loudly and
with a long face, though not perhaps so deeply as he looked, suddenly
rang behind David a chorus of human chuckles. David wheeled, and there
were six young women’s faces set in the foliage and laughing merrily.
Though perfectly aware that David would look round, they seemed taken
quite by surprise when he did look, and with military precision became
instantly two files, for the four impudent ones ran behind the two
modest ones, and there, by an innocent instinct, tied their
cap-strings, which were previously floating loose, their custom ever
in the early morning.

“Play us up something merry, sir,” hazarded one of the mock-modest
ones in the rear.

“Shan’t I be taking you from your work?” objected David dryly.

“Oh, all work and no play is bad for the body,” replied the minx,
keeping ostentatiously out of sight.

Good-natured David played a merry tune in spite of his heart; and even
at that disadvantage it was so spirit-stirring compared with anything
the servants had heard, it made them all frisky, of which disposition
Tom, the stable boy, who just then came into the yard, took advantage,
and, leading out one of the housemaids by the polite process of
hauling at her with both hands, proceeded to country dancing, in which
the others soon demurely joined.

Now all this was wormwood to poor David; for to play merriment when
the heart is too heavy to be cheered by it makes that heart bitter as
well as sad. But the good-natured fellow said to himself: “Poor
things, I dare say they work from morning till night, and seldom see
pleasure but at a distance; why not put on a good face, and give them
one merry hour.” So he played horn-pipes and reels till all their
hearts were on fire, and faces red, and eyes glittering, and legs
aching, and he himself felt ready to burst out crying, and then he
left off. As for _il penseroso_ Pepper, he took this intrusion of
merry music upon his sympathies very ill. He left singing, and barked
furiously and incessantly at these ancient English melodies and at the
dancers, and kept running from and running at the women’s whirling
gowns alternately, and lost his mental balance, and at last, having by
a happier snap than usual torn off two feet of the under-housemaid’s
frock, shook and worried the fragment with insane snarls and gleaming
eyes, and so zealously that his existence seemed to depend on its
annihilation.

David gave those he had brightened a sad smile, and went hastily
in-doors. He put his violin into its case, and sealed and directed his
letter to Eve. He could not rest in-doors, so he roamed out again, but
this time he took care to go on the lawn. Nobody would come there, he
thought, to interrupt his melancholy. He was doomed to be disappointed
in that respect. As he sat in the little summer-house with his head on
the table, he suddenly heard an elastic step on the dry gravel. He
started peevishly up and saw a lady walking briskly toward him: it was
Miss Fountain.

She saw him at the same instant. She hesitated a single half-moment;
then, as escape was impossible, resumed her course. David went
bashfully to meet her.

“Good-morning, Mr. Dodd,” said she, in the most easy, unembarrassed
way imaginable.

He stammered a “good-morning,” and flushed with pleasure and
confusion.

He walked by her side in silence. She stole a look at him, and saw
that, after the first blush at meeting her, he was pale and haggard.
On this she dashed into singularly easy and cheerful conversation with
him; told him that this morning walk was her custom--“My substitute
for rouge, you know. I am always the first up in this languid house;
but I must not boast before you, who, I dare say, turn out--is not
that the word?--at daybreak. But, now I think of it, no! you would
have crossed my hawse before, Mr. Dodd,” using naval phrases to
flatter him.

“It was my ill-luck; I always cruised a mile off. I had no idea this
bit of gravel was your quarter-deck.”

“It is, though, because it is always dry. You would not like a
quarter-deck with that character, would you?”

“Oh yes, I should. I’d have my bowsprit always wet, and my
quarter-deck always dry. But it is no use wishing for what we cannot
have.”

“That is very true,” said Lucy, quietly.

David reflected on his own words, and sighed deeply.

This did not suit Lucy. She plied him with airy nothings, that no man
can arrest and impress on paper; but the tone and smile made them
pleasing, and then she asked his opinion of the other guests in such a
way as implied she took some interest in his opinion of them, but
mighty little in the people themselves. In short, she chatted with him
like an old friend, and nothing more; but David was not subtle enough
in general, nor just now calm enough, to see on what footing all this
cordiality was offered him. His color came back, his eye brightened,
happiness beamed on his face, and the lady saw it from under her
lashes.

“How fortunate I fell in with you here! You are yourself again--on
your quarter-deck. I scarce knew you the last few days. I was afraid I
had offended you. You seemed to avoid me.”

“Nonsense, Mr. Dodd; what is there about you to avoid?”

“Plenty, Miss Fountain; I am so inferior to your other friends.”

“I was not aware of it, Mr. Dodd.”

“And I have heard your sex has gusts of caprice, and I thought the
cold wind was blowing upon me; and that did seem very sad, just when I
am going out, and perhaps shall never see your sweet face or hear your
lovely voice again.”

“Don’t say that, Mr. Dodd, or you will make me sad in earnest. Your
prudence and courage, and a kind Providence, will carry you safe
through this voyage, as they have through so many, and on your return
the acquaintance you do me the honor to value so highly will await
you--if it depends on me.”

All this was said kindly and beautifully, and almost tenderly, but
still with a certain majesty that forbade love-making--rendered it
scarce possible, except to a fool. But David was not captious. He
could not, like the philosopher, sift sunshine. For some days he had
been almost separated from her. Now she was by his side. He adored her
so that he could no longer _realize_ sorrow or disappointment to
come. They were uncertain--future. The light of her eyes, and voice,
and face, and noble presence were here; he basked in them.

He told her not to mind a word he had said. “It was all nonsense. I am
happier now--happier than ever.”

At this Lucy looked grave and became silent.

David, to amuse her, told her there was “a singing dog aboard,” and
would she like to hear him?

This was a happy diversion for Lucy. She assented gayly. David ran for
his fiddle, and then for Pepper. Pepper wagged his tail, but, strong
as his musical taste was, would not follow the fiddle. But at this
juncture Master Reginald dawned on the stable-yard with a huge slice
of bread and butter. Pepper followed him. So the party came on the
lawn and joined Lucy. Then David played on the violin, and Pepper
performed exactly as hereinbefore related. Lucy laughed merrily, and
Reginald shrieked with delight, for the vocal terrier was mortal
droll.


“But, setting Pepper aside, that is a very sweet air you are playing
now, Mr. Dodd. It is full of soul and feeling.”

“Is it?” said David, looking wonderstruck; “you know best.”

“Who is the composer?”

David looked confused and said, “No one of any note.”

Lucy shot a glance at him, keen as lightning. What with David’s
simplicity and her own remarkable talent for reading faces, his
countenance was a book to her, wide open, Bible print. “The composer’s
name is Mr. Dodd,” said she, quietly.

“I little thought you would be satisfied with it,” replied David,
obliquely.

“Then you doubted my judgment as well as your own talent.”

“My talent! I should never have composed an air that would bear
playing but for one thing.”

“And what was that?” said Lucy, affecting vast curiosity. She felt
herself on safe ground now--the fine arts.

“You remember when you went away from Font Abbey, and left us all so
heavy-hearted?”

“I remember leaving Font Abbey,” replied Lucy, with saucy emphasis,
and an air of lofty disbelief in the other incident.

“Well, I used to get my fiddle, and think of you so far away, and
sweet sad airs came to my heart, and from my heart they passed into
the fiddle. Now and then one seemed more worthy of you than the rest
were, and then I kept that one.”

“You mean you took the notes down,” said Lucy coldly.

“Oh no, there was no need; I wrote it in my head and in my heart. May
I play you another of your tunes? I call them your tunes.”

Lucy blushed faintly, and fixed her eyes on the ground. She gave a
slight signal of assent, and David played a melody.

“It is very beautiful,” said she in a low voice. “Play it again. Can
you play it as we walk?”

“Oh yes.” He played it again. They drew near the hall door. She looked
up a moment, and then demurely down again.

“Now will you be so good as to play the first one twice?” She listened
with her eyelashes drooping. “Tweedle dee! tweedle dum! tweedle dee.”
 “And _now_ we will go into breakfast,” cried Lucy, with sudden
airy cheerfulness, and, almost with the word, she darted up the steps,
and entered the house without even looking to see whether David
followed or what became of him.

He stood gazing through the open door at her as she glided across the
hall, swift and elastic, yet serpentine, and graceful and stately as
Juno at nineteen.

           “Et vera iucessu patuit lady.”

These Junones, severe in youthful beauty, fill us Davids with
irrational awe; but, the next moment, they are treated like small
children by the very first matron they meet; they resign their
judgment at once to hers, and bow their wills to her lightest word
with a slavish meanness.

Creation’s unmarried lords, realize your true position--girls govern
you, and wives govern girls.

Mrs. Bazalgette, on Lucy’s entrance, ran a critical eye over her, and
scolded her like a six-year-old for walking in thin shoes.

“Only on the gravel, aunt,” said the divine slave, submissively.

“No matter; it rained last night. I heard it patter. You want to be
laid up, I suppose.”

“I will put on thicker ones in future, dear aunt,” murmured the
celestial serf.

Now Mrs. Bazalgette did not really care a button whether the servile
angel wore thick soles or thin. She was cross about something a mile
off that. As soon as she had vented her ill humor on a sham cause, she
could come to its real cause good-temperedly. “And, Lucy, love, do
manage better about Mr. Dodd.”

Lucy turned scarlet. Luckily, Mrs. Bazalgette was evading her niece’s
eye, so did not see her telltale cheek.

“He was quite thrown out last night; and really, as he does not ride
with us, it is too bad to neglect him in-doors.”

“Oh, excuse me, aunt, Mr. Dodd is your protege. You did not even tell
me you were going to invite him.”

“I beg your pardon, that I certainly did. Poor fellow, he was out of
spirits last night.”

“Well, but, aunt, surely you can put an admirer in good spirits when
you think proper,” said Lucy slyly.

“Humph! I don’t want to attract too much attention. I see Bazalgette
watching me, and I don’t wish to be misinterpreted myself, or give my
husband pain.”

She said this with such dignity that Lucy, who knew her regard for her
husband, had much ado not to titter. But courtesy prevailed, and she
said gravely: “I will do whatever you wish me, only give me a hint at
the time; a look will do, you know.”

The ladies separated; they met again at the breakfast-room door.
Laughter rang merrily inside, and among the gayest voices was Mr.
Dodd’s. Lucy gave Mrs. Bazalgette an arch look. “Your patient seems
better;” and they entered the room, where, sure enough, they found Mr.
Dodd the life and soul of the assembled party.

“A letter from Mrs. Wilson, aunt.”

“And, pray, who is Mrs. Wilson?”

“My nurse. She tells me ‘it is five years since she has seen me, and
she is wearying to see me.’ What a droll expression, ‘wearying.’”

“Ah!” said David Dodd.

“You have heard the word before, Mr. Dodd?”

“No, I can’t say I have; but I know what it must mean.”

“Lying becalmed at the equator, eh! Dodd?” said Bazalgette,
misunderstanding him.

“Mrs. Wilson tells me she has taken a farm a few miles from this.”

“Interesting intelligence,” said Mrs. Bazalgette.

“And she says she is coming over to see me one of these days, aunt,”
 said Lucy, with a droll expression, half arch, half rueful. She added
timidly, “There is no objection to that, is there?”

“None whatever, if she does not make a practice of it; only mind,
these old servants are the greatest pests on earth.”

“I remember now,” said Lucy thoughtfully, “Mrs. Wilson was always very
fond of me. I cannot think why, though.”

“No more can I,” said Mr. Hardie, dryly; “she must be a thoroughly
unreasonable woman.”

Mr. Hardie said this with a good deal of grace and humor, and a laugh
went round the table.

“I mean she only saw me at intervals of several years.”

“Why, Lucy, what an antiquity you are making yourself,” said Fountain.

But Lucy was occupied with her puzzle. “She calls me her nursling,”
 said Lucy, _sotto voce,_ to her aunt, but, of course, quite
audibly to the rest of the company; “her dear nursling;” and says,
“she would walk fifty miles to see me. Nursling? hum! there is another
word I never heard, and I do not exactly know--Then she says--”

_“Taisez-vous, petite sotte!”_ said Mrs. Bazalgette, in a sharp
whisper, so admirably projected that it was intelligible only to the
ear it was meant for.

Lucy caught it and stopped short, and sat looking by main force calm
and dignified, but scarlet, and in secret agony. “I have said
something amiss,” thought Lucy, and was truly wretched.

“We don’t believe in Mrs. Wilson’s affection on this side the table,”
 said Mr. Hardie; “but her revelations interest us, for they prove that
Miss Fountain had a beginning. Now we had thought she rose from the
foam like Venus, or sprung from Jove’s brow like Minerva, or descended
from some ancient pedestal, flawless as the Parian itself.”

“What, sir,” cried Bazalgette, furiously, “did you think our niece was
built in a day? So fair a structure, so accomplished a--”

“Will you be quiet, good people?” said Mrs. Bazalgette. “She was born,
she was bred, she was brought up, in which I had a share, and she is a
very good girl, if you gentlemen will be so good as not to spoil her
for me with your flattery.”

“There!” said Lucy, courageously, enforcing her aunt’s thunderbolt;
and she leaned toward Mrs. Bazalgette, and shot back a glance of
defiance, with arching neck, at Mr. Bazalgette.


After breakfast she ran to Mrs. Bazalgette. “What was it?”

“Oh, nothing; only the gentlemen were beginning to grin.”

“Oh, dear! did I say anything--ridiculous?”

“No, because I stopped you in time. Mind, Lucy, it is never safe to
read letters out from people in that class of life; they talk about
everything, and use words that are quite out of date. I stopped you
because I know you are a simpleton, and so I could not tell what might
pop out next.”

“Oh, thank you, aunt--thank you,” cried Lucy, warmly. “Then I did not
expose myself, after all.”

“No, no; you said nothing that might not be proclaimed at St. Paul’s
Cross--ha! ha!”

“Am I a simpleton, aunt?” inquired Lucy, in the tone of an indifferent
person seeking knowledge.

“Not you,” replied this oblivious lady. “You know a great deal more
than most girls of your age. To be sure, girls that have been at a
fashionable school generally manage to learn one or two things you
have no idea of.”

“Naturally.”

“As you say--he! he! But you make up for it, my dear, in other
respects. If the gentlemen take you for a pane of glass, why, all the
better; meantime, shall I tell you your real character? I have only
just discovered it myself.”

“Oh, yes, aunt, tell me my character. I should so like to hear it from
you.”

“Should you?” said the other, a little satirically; “well, then, you
are an INNOCENT FOX.”

“Aunt!”

“An in-no-cent fox; so run and get your work-box. I want you to run up
a tear in my flounce.”

Lucy went thoughtfully for her workbox, murmuring ruefully, “I am an
innocent fox--I am an in-nocent fox.”

She did not like her new character at all; it mortified her, and
seemed self-contradictory as well as derogatory.

On her return she could not help remonstrating: “How can that be my
character? A fox is cunning, and I despise cunning; and _I am
sure_ I am not _innocent,”_ added she, putting up both hands
and looking penitent. With all this, a shade of vexation was painted
on her lovely cheeks as she appealed against her epigram.

Mrs. Bazalgette (with the calm, inexorable superiority of
matron despotism). “You are an in-nocent fox!! Is your needle
threaded? Here is the tear; no, not there. I caught against the
flowerpot frame, and I’ll swear I heard my gown go. Look lower down,
dear. Don’t give it up.”

All which may perhaps remind the learned and sneering reader of
another fox--the one that “had a wound, and he could not tell where.”


They rode out to-day as usual, and David had the equivocal pleasure of
seeing them go from the door.

Lucy was one of the first down, and put her hand on the saddle, and
looked carelessly round for somebody to put her up. David stepped
hastily forward, his heart beating, seized her foot, never waited for
her to spring, but went to work at once, and with a powerful and
sustained effort raised her slowly and carefully like a dead weight,
and settled her in the saddle. His gripe hurt her foot. She bore it
like a Spartan sooner than lose the amusement of his simplicity and
enormous strength, so drolly and unnecessarily exerted. It cost her a
little struggle not to laugh right out, but she turned her head away
from him a moment and was quit for a spasm. Then she came round with a
face all candor.

“Thank you, Mr. Dodd,” said she, demurely; and her eyes danced in her
head. Her foot felt encircled with an iron band, but she bore him not
a grain of malice for that, and away she cantered, followed by his
longing eyes.

David bore the separation well. “To-morrow morning I shall have her
all to myself,” said he. He played with Kenealy and Reginald, and
chatted with Bazalgette. In the evening she was surrounded as usual,
and he obtained only a small share of her attention. But the thought
of the morrow consoled him. He alone knew that she walked before
breakfast.

The next morning he rose early, and sauntered about till eight
o’clock, and then he came on the lawn and waited for her. She did not
come. He waited, and waited, and waited. She never came. His heart
died within him. “She avoids me,” said he; “it is not accident. I have
driven her out of her very garden; she always walked here before
breakfast (she said so) till I came and spoiled her walk; Heaven
forgive me.”

David could not flatter himself that this interruption of her
acknowledged habit was accidental. On the other hand, how kind and
cheerful she had been with him on the same spot yesterday morning. To
judge by her manner, his company on her quarter-deck was not unwelcome
to her yet she kept her room to-day, from the window of which she
could probably see him walking to and fro, longing for her. The bitter
disappointment was bad enough, but here tormenting perplexity as to
its cause was added, and between the two the pining heart was racked.

This is the cruelest separation; mere distance is the mildest. Where
land and sea alone lie between two loving hearts, they pine, but are
at rest. A piece of paper, and a few lines traced by the hand that
reads like a face, and the two sad hearts exult and embrace one
another afresh, in spite of a hemisphere of dirt and salt water, that
parts bodies but not minds. But to be close, yet kept aloof by red-hot
iron and chilling ice, by rivals, by etiquette and cold
indifference--to be near, yet far--this is to be apart--this, this is
separation.

A gush of rage and bitterness foreign to his natural temper came over
Mr. Dodd. “Since I can’t have the girl I love, I will have nobody but
my own thoughts. I cannot bear the others and their chat to-day. I
will go and think of her, since that is all she will let me do”; and
directly after breakfast David walked out on the downs and made by
instinct for the sea. The wounded deer shunned the lively herd.

The ladies, as they sat in the drawing-room, received visits of a less
flattering character than usual. Reginald kept popping in, inquiring,
“Where was Mr. Dodd?” and would not believe they had not hid him
somewhere. He was followed by Kenealy, who came in and put them but
one question, “Where is Dawd?”

“We don’t know,” said Mrs. Bazalgette sharply; “we have not been
intrusted with the care of Mr. Dodd.”

Kenealy sauntered forth disconsolate. Finally Mr. Bazalgette put his
head in, and surveyed the room keenly but in silence; so then his wife
looked up, and asked him satirically if he did not want Mr. Dodd.

“Of course I do,” was the gracious reply; “what else should I come
here for?”

“Well, he is lost; you had better put him in the ‘Hue and Cry.’”

La Bazalgette was getting jealous of her own flirtee: he attracted too
much of that attention she loved so dear.

At last Reginald, despairing of Dodd, went in search of another
playmate--Master Christmas, a young gentleman a year older than
himself, who lived within half a mile. Before he went he inquired what
there was for his dinner, and, being informed “roast mutton,” was not
enraptured; he then asked with greater solicitude what was the
pudding, and, being told “rice,” betrayed disgust and anger, as was
remembered when too late.

At two o’clock, the day being fine, the ladies went for a long ride,
accompanied by Talboys only. Kenealy excused himself: “He must see if
he could not find Dawd.”

Mrs. Bazalgette started in a pet; but, after the first canter, she set
herself to bewitch Mr. Talboys, just to keep her hand in; she
flattered him up hill and down dale. Lucy was silent and
_distraite._

“From that hill you look right down upon the sea,” said Mrs.
Bazalgette; “what do you say? It is only two miles farther.”

On they cantered, and, leaving the high road, dived into a green lane
which led them, by a gradual ascent, to Mariner’s Folly on the summit
of the cliff. Mariner’s Folly looked at a distance like an enormous
bush in the shape of a lion; but, when you came nearer, you saw it was
three remarkably large blackthorn-trees planted together. As they
approached it at a walk, Mrs. Bazalgette told Mr. Talboys its legend.

“These trees were planted a hundred and fifty years ago by a retired
buccaneer.”

“Aunt, now, it was only a lieutenant.”

“Be quiet, Lucy, and don’t spoil me; I _call_ him a buccaneer.
Some say it is named his “Folly,” because, you must know, his ghost
comes and sits here at times, and that is an absurd practice,
shivering in the cold. Others more learned say it comes from a Latin
word ‘folio,’ or some such thing, that means a leaf; the mariner’s
leafy screen.” She then added with reckless levity, “I wonder whether
we shall find Buckey on the other side, looking at the ships through a
ghostly telescope--ha! ha!--ah! ah! help! mercy! forgive me! Oh, dear,
it is only Mr. Dodd in his jacket--you frightened me so. Oh! oh!
There--I am ill. Catch me, somebody;” and she dropped her whip, and,
seeing David’s eye was on her, subsided backward with considerable
courage and trustfulness, and for the second time contrived to be in
her flirtee’s arms.

I wish my friend Aristotle had been there; I think he would have been
pleased at her [Greek] (presence of mind) in turning even her terror
of the supernatural so quickly to account, and making it subservient
to flirtation.


David sat heart-stricken and hopeless, gazing at the sea. The hours
passed by his heavy heart unheeded. The leafy screen deadened the
light sound of the horses’ feet on the turf, and, moreover, his senses
were all turned inward. They were upon him, and he did not move, but
still held his head in his hands and gazed upon the sea. At Mrs.
Bazalgette’s cries he started up, and looked confusedly at them all;
but, when she did the feinting business, he thought she was going to
faint, and caught her in his arms; and, holding her in them a moment
as if she had been a child, he deposited her very gently in a sitting
posture at the foot of one of the trees, and, taking her hand, slapped
it to bring her to.

“Oh, don’t! you hurt me,” cried the lady in her natural voice.

Lucy, barbarous girl, never came to her aunt’s assistance. At the
first fright she seemed slightly agitated, but she now sat impassive
on her pony, and even wore a satirical smile.

“Now, dear aunt, when you have done, Mr. Dodd will put you on your
horse again.”

On this hint David lifted her like a child, _malgre_ a little
squeak she thought it well to utter, and put her in the saddle again.
She thanked him in a low, murmuring voice. She then plied David with a
host of questions. “How came he so far from home?” “Why had he
deserted them all day?” David hung his head, and did not answer. Lucy
came to his relief: “It would be as well if you would make him promise
to be at home in time for dinner; and, by the way, I have a favor to
ask of you, Mr. Dodd.”

“A favor to ask of me?!”

“Oh, you know we all make demands upon your good-nature in turn.”

“That is true,” said La Bazalgette, tenderly. “I don’t know what will
become of us all when he goes.”

Lucy then explained “that the masked ball suggested by Mr. Talboys’
beautiful dresses was to be very soon, and she wanted Mr. Dodd to
practice quadrilles and waltzes with her; it will be so much better
with the violin and piano than with a piano alone, and you are such an
excellent timist--will you, Mr. Dodd?”

“That I will,” said David, his eyes sparkling with delight; “thank
you.”

“Then, as I shall practice before the gentlemen join us, and it is
four o’clock now, had you not better turn your back on the sea, and
make the best of your way home?”

“I will be there almost as soon as you.”

“Indeed! what, on foot, and we on horseback?”

“Ay; but I can steer in the wind’s eye.”

“Aunt, Mr. Dodd proposes a race home.”

“With all my heart. How much start are we to give him?”

“None at all,” said David; “are you ready? Then give way,” and he
started down the hill at a killing pace.

The equestrians were obliged to walk down the hill, and when they
reached the bottom David was going as the crow flies across some
meadows half a mile ahead. A good canter soon brought them on a line
with him, but every now and then the turns of the road and the hills
gave him an advantage. Lucy, naturally kind-hearted, would have
relaxed her pace to make the race more equal, but Talboys urged her
on; and as a horse is, after all, a faster animal than a sailor, they
rode in at the front gate while David was still two fields off.

“Come,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, regretfully, “we have beat him, poor
fellow, but we won’t go in till we see what has become of him.”

As they loitered on the lawn, Henry the footman came out with a
salver, and on it reposed a soiled note. Henry presented it with
demure obsequiousness, then retired grinning furtively.

“What is this--a begging-letter? What a vile hand! Look, Lucy; did you
ever? Why, it must be some pauper.”

“Have a little mercy, aunt,” said Lucy, piteously; “that hand has been
formed under my care and daily superintendence: it is Reginald’s.”

“Oh, that alters the case. What can the dear child have to say to me!
Ah! the little wretch! Send the servants after him in every direction.
Oh, who would be a mother!”

The letter was written in lines with two pernicious defects. 1st. They
were like the wooden part of a bow instead of its string. 2d. They
yielded to gravity--kept tending down, down, to the righthand corner
more and more. In the use of capitals the writer had taken the
copyhead as his model. The style, however, was pithy, and in writing
that is the first Christian grace--no, I forgot, it is the second;
pellucidity is the first.

     “Dear mama, me and johnny
     Cristmas are gone to the north
     Pole his unkle went twise we
     Shall be back in siks munths
     Please give my love to lucy and
     Papa and ask lucy to be kind to
     My ginnipigs i shall want them
     Wen i come back. too much
     Cabiges is not good for ginnipigs.
     Wen i come back i hope there
     Will be no rise left. it is very
     Unjust to give me those nasty
     Messy pudens i am not a child
     There filthy there abbommanabel.
     Johny says it is funy at the north
     Pole and there are bares
     and they
     Are wite.
     I remain

                 “Your duteful son

                 “Reginald George Bazalgette.”


This innocent missive set house and premises in an uproar. Henry was
sent east through the dirt, _multa reluctantem,_ in white
stockings. Tom galloped north. Mrs. Bazalgette sat in the hall, and
did well-bred hysterics for Kenealy and Talboys. Lucy pinned up her
habit, and ran to the boundary hedge on the bare chance of seeing the
figures of the truants somewhere short of the horizon. Lo, and behold,
there was David Dodd crossing the very nearest field and coming toward
her, an urchin in each hand.

Lucy ran to meet them. “Oh, you dear naughty children, what a fright
you have given us! Oh, Mr. Dodd, how good of you! Where _did_ you
find them?”

“Under that hedge, eating apples. They tell me they sailed for the
North Pole this morning, but fell in with a pirate close under the
land, so ‘bout ship and came ashore again.”

“A pirate, Mr. Dodd? Oh, I see, a beggar--a tramp.”

“A deal worse than that, Miss Lucy. Now, youngster, why don’t you spin
your own yarn?”

“Yes, tell me, Reggy.”

“Well, dear, when I had written to mamma, and Johnny had folded
it--because I can write but I can’t fold it, and he can fold it but he
can’t write it--we went to the North Pole, and we got a mile; and then
we saw that nasty Newfoundland dog sitting in the road waiting to
torment us. It is Farmer Johnson’s, and it plays with us, and knocks
us down, and licks us, and frightens us, and we hate it; so we came
home.”

“Ha! ha! good, prudent children. Oh, dear, you have had no dinner.”

“Oh, yes we had, Lucy, such a nice one: we bought such a lot of apples
of a woman. I never had a dinner all apples before; they always spoil
them with mutton and things, and that nasty, nasty rice”

“Hear to that!” shouted David Dodd. “They have been dining upon
varjese” (verjuice), “and them growing children. I shall take them
into the kitchen, and put some cold beef into their little holds this
minute, poor little lambs.”

“Oh yes, do; and I will run and tell the good news.” She ran across
the lawn, and came into the hall red with innocent happiness and
agitation. “They are found, aunt, they are found; don’t cry. Mr. Dodd
found them close by, They have had no dinner, so that good, kind Mr.
Dodd is taking them into the kitchen. I will send Master Christmas
home with a servant. Shall I bring you Reggy to kiss?”

“No, no; wicked little wretch, to frighten his poor mother! Whip him,
somebody, and put him to bed.”


In the evening, soon after the ladies had left the dining-room, the
pianoforte was heard playing quadrilles in the drawing-room. David
fidgeted on his seat a little, and presently rose and went for his
violin, and joined Lucy in the drawing-room alone. Mrs. B. was trying
on a dress. Between the tunes Lucy chatted with him as freely and
kindly as ever. David was in heaven. When the gentlemen came up from
the dining-room, his joy was interrupted, but not for long. The two
musicians played with so much spirit, and the fiddle, in particular,
was so hearty, that Mrs. Bazalgette proposed a little quiet dance on
the carpet: and this drew the other men away from the piano, and left
David and Lucy to themselves.

She stole a look more than once at his bright eyes and rich ruddy
color, and asked herself, “Is that really the same face we found
looking wan and haggard on the sea? I think I have put an end to that,
at all events.” The consciousness of this sort of power is secretly
agreeable to all men and all women, whether they mean to abuse it or
no. She smiled demurely at her mastery over this great heart, and said
to herself, “One would think I was a witch.” Later in the evening she
eyed him again, and thought to herself, “If my company and a few
friendly words can make him so happy, it does seem very hard I should
select him to shun for the few days he has to pass in England now; but
then, if I let him think--I don’t know what to do with him. Poor Mr.
Dodd.”

Miss Fountain did not torment her bolder aspirants with alternate
distance and familiarity. She rode out every fine day with Mr.
Talboys, and was all affability. She sat next Mr. Hardie at dinner,
and was all affability.

Narrative has its limits and, to relate in some sequence the honest
sailor’s tortures in love with a tactician, I have necessarily omitted
concurrent incidents of a still tamer character; but the reader may,
by the help of his own intelligence, gather their general results from
the following dialogues, which took place on the afternoon and evening
of the terrible infant’s escapade.

Mrs. Bazalgette. “‘Well, my dear friend, and how does this
naughty girl of mine use you?”

Mr. Hardie. “As well as I could expect, and better than I
deserve.”

Mrs. B. “Then she must be cleverer than any girl that ever
breathed. However, she does appreciate your conversation; she makes no
secret of it.”

Mr. H. “I have so little reason to complain of my reception
that I will make my proposal to her this evening if you think proper.”

Mrs. Bazalgette started, and glanced admiration on a man of eight
thousand a year, who came to the point of points without being either
cajoled or spurred thither; but she shook her head. “Prudence, my dear
Mr. Hardie, prudence. Not just yet. You are making advances every day;
and Lucy is an odd girl; with all her apparent tenderness, she is
unimpressionable.”

“That is only virgin modesty,” said Hardie, dogmatically.

“Fiddlestick,” replied Mrs. B., good-humoredly. “The greatest flirts I
ever met with were virgins, as you call them. I tell you she is not
disposed toward marriage as all other girls are until they have tasted
its bitters.”

Mr. H. “If I know anything of character, she will make a very
loving wife.”

Mrs. B. (sharply). “That means a nice little negro. Well, I
think she might, when once caught; but she is not caught, and she is
slippery, and, if you are in too great a hurry, she may fly off; but,
above all, we have a dangerous rival in the house just now.”

Mr. H. “What, that Mr. Talboys? I don’t fear him. He is next
door to a fool.”

Mrs. B. “What of that? Fools are dangerous rivals for a lady’s
favor. We don’t object to fools. It depends on the employment. There
is one office we are apt to select them for.”

Mr. H. “A husband, eh?” The lady nodded.

Mrs. B. “I meant to marry a fool in Bazalgette, but I found my
mistake. The wretch had only feigned absurdity. He came out in his
true colors directly.”

Mr. H. “A man of sense, eh? The sinister hypocrite! He only
wore the caps and bells to allure unguarded beauty, and doffed them
when he donned the wedding-suit.”

Mrs. B. “Yes. But these are reminiscences so sweet that I shall
be glad to return from them to your little affair. Seriously, then,
Mr. Talboys is not to be overlooked, for this reason: he is well
backed.”

“By whom?”

“By some one who has influence with Lucy--her nearest relation, Mr.
Fountain.”

“What! is he nearer to her than you are?”

“Certainly; and she is fond of him to infatuation. One day I did but
hint that selfishness entered into his character (he is eaten up with
it), and that he told fibs; Mr. Hardie, she turned round on me like a
tigress--Oh, how she made me cry!”

The keen hand, Hardie, smiled satirically, and after a pause answered
with consummate coolness: “I believe thus much, that she loves her
uncle, and that his influence, exerted unscrupulously--”

“Which it will be. He may be strong enough to spoil us, even though
he should not be able to carry his own point; now trust me, my dear
friend, Lucy’s preference is clearly for you, but I know the weakness
of my own sex, and, above all, I know Lucy Fountain. A mouse can help
a lion in a matter of small threads, too small for his nobler and
grander wisdom to see. Let me be your mouse for once.” The little
woman caught the great man with the everlasting hook, and the
discussion ended in “claw me and I will claw thee,” and in the mutual
self-complacency that follows that arrangement. _Vide_ “Blackwood,”
 _passim._

Mr. H. “I really think she would accept me if I offered to-day;
but I have so high an opinion of your sagacity and friendship for me,
madam, that I will defer my judgment to yours. I must, however, make
one condition, that you will not displace my plan without suggesting a
distinct course of action for me to adopt in its place.”

This smooth proposal, made quietly but with twinkling eye, would have
shut the mouth of nine advisers in ten, but it found the Bazalgette
prepared.

“Oh, the pleasure of having a man of ability to deal with!” cried she,
with enthusiasm. “This is my advice, then: stay Mr. Fountain out. He
must go in a day or two. His time is up, and I will drop a hint of
fresh visitors expected. When he is gone, warm by degrees, and offer
yourself either in person, or through Bazalgette, or me.”

“In person, then, certainly. Of all foibles, employing another pair of
eyes, another tongue, another person to make love for one is surely
the silliest.”

“I am quite of your opinion,” cried the lady, with a hearty laugh.


Mr. Fountain. “So you are satisfied with the state of things?”

Mr. Talboys. “Yes, I think I have beaten the sailor out of the
field.”

“Well, but--this Hardie?”

“Hardie! a shopkeeper. I don’t fear him.”

“In that case, why not propose? I have been doing the
preliminaries--sounding your praises.”

Mr. Talboys (tyrannically). “I propose next Saturday.”

Mr. Fountain. “Very well.”

Talboys. “In the boat.”

“In the boat? What boat? There’s no boat.”

“I have asked her to sail with me from ---- in a boat; there is a very
nice little lugger-rigged one. I am having the seats padded and
stuffed and lined, and an awning put up, and the boat painted white
and gold.”

“Bravo! Cleopatra’s galley.”

“I assure you she looks forward to it with pleasure; she guesses why I
want to get her into that boat. She hesitated at first, but at last
consented with a look--a conscious look; I can hardly describe it.”

“There is no need,” cried Fountain. “I know it; the jade turned all
eyelashes.”

“That is rather exaggerated, but still--”

“But still I have described it--to a hair. Ha! ha!”

Talboys (gravely). “Well, yes.”

Mr. Talboys, I am bound to own, was accurate. During the last day or
two Lucy had taken a turn; she had been bewitching; she had flattered
him with tact, but deliciously; had consulted him as to which of his
beautiful dresses she should wear at the masked ball, and, when
pressed to have a sail in the boat he was fitting for her, she ended
by giving a demure assent.

Chorus of male readers, _“Oh, les femmes, les femmes!”_


David Dodd had by nature a healthy as well as a high mind; but the
fever and ague of an absorbing passion were telling on it. Like many a
great heart before his day, his heart was tossed like a ship, and went
up to heaven, and down again to despair, as a girl’s humor shifted, or
seemed to shift, for he forgot that there is such a thing as accident,
and that her sex are even more under its dominion than ours. No;
whatever she did must be spontaneous, voluntary, premeditated even,
and her lightest word worth weighing, her lightest action worth
anxious scrutiny as to its cause.

Still he had this about him that the peevish and puny lover has not.
Her bare presence was joy to him. Even when she was surrounded by
other figures, he saw and felt but the one; the rest were nothings.
But when she went out of his sight, some bright illusion seemed to
fade into cold and dark reality. Then it fell on him like a weighty,
icy hammer, that in three days he must go to sea for two years, and
that he was no nearer her heart now than he was at Font Abbey. Was he
even as near?

So the next afternoon he thrust in before Talboys, and put Lucy on her
horse by brute force, and griped her stout little boot, which she had
slyly substituted for a shoe, and touched her glossy habit, and felt a
thrill of bliss unspeakable at his momentary contact with her; but she
was no sooner out of sight than a hollow ache seized the poor fellow,
and he hung his head and sighed.

“I say, capting,” said a voice in his ear. He looked up, and there
stood Tom, the stable-boy, with both hands in his pockets. Tom was not
there by his own proper movement, but was agent of Betsy, the
under-housemaid.

Female servants scan the male guests pretty closely too,
without seeming to do it, and judge them upon lamentably broad
principles--youth, health, size, beauty, and good temper. Oh, the
coarse-minded critics! Hence it befell that in their eyes, especially
after the fiddle business, David was a king compared with his rivals.

“If I look at him too long, I shall eat him,” said the cook-maid.

“He is a darling,” said the upper housemaid.

Betsy aforesaid often opened a window to have a sly look at him, and
on one of these occasions she inspected him from an upper story at her
leisure. His manner drew her attention. She saw him mount Lucy, and
eye her departing form sadly and wistfully. Betsy glowered and
glowered, and hit the nail on the head, as people will do who are so
absurd as to look with their own eyes, and draw their own conclusions
instead of other people’s. After this she took an opportunity, and
said to Tom, with a satirical air, “How are you off for nags, your
way?”

“Oh, we have got enough for our corn,” replied Tom, on the defensive.

“It seems you can’t find one for the captain among you.”

“Will you give a kiss if I make you out a liar?”

“Sooner than break my arm. Come, you might, Tom. Now is it reasonable,
him never to get a ride with her, and that useless lot prancing about
with her all day long?”


“Why don’t you ride with ‘em, capting?”

“I have no horse.”

“I have got a horse for you, sir--master’s.”

“That would be taking a liberty.”

“Liberty, sir! no; master would be so pleased if you would but ride
him. He told me so.”

“Then saddle him, pray.”

“I have a-saddled him. You had better come in the stable-yard,
capting; then you can mount and follow; you will catch them before
they reach the Downs.” In another minute David was mounted.

“Do you ride short or long, capting?” inquired Tom, handling the
stirrup-leather.

David wore a puzzled look. “I ride as long as I can stick on;” and he
trotted out of the stable-yard. As Tom had predicted, he caught the
party just as they went off the turn-pike on to the grass. His heart
beat with joy; he cantered in among them. His horse was fresh,
squeaked, and bucked at finding himself on grass and in company, and
David announced his arrival by rolling in among their horses’ feet
with the reins tight grasped in his fist. The ladies screamed with
terror. David got up laughing; his horse had hoped to canter away
without him, and now stood facing him and pulling.

“No, ye don’t,” said David. “I held on to the tiller-ropes though I
did go overboard.” Then ensued a battle between David and his horse,
the one wanting to mount, the other anxious to be unencumbered with
sailors. It was settled by David making a vault and sitting on the
animal’s neck, on which the ladies screamed again, and Lucy, half
whimpering, proposed to go home.

“Don’t think of it,” cried David. “I won’t be beat by such a small
craft as this--hallo!” for, the horse backing into Talboys, that
gentleman gave him a clandestine cut, and he bolted, and, being a
little hard-mouthed, would gallop in spite of the tiller-ropes. On
came the other nags after him, all misbehaving more or less, so fine a
thing is example. When they had galloped half a mile the ground began
to rise, and David’s horse relaxed his pace, whereon David whipped him
industriously, and made him gallop again in spite of remonstrance.

The others drew the rein, and left him to gallop alone. Accordingly,
he made the round of the hill and came back, his horse covered with
lather and its tail trembling. “There,” said he to Lucy, with an air
of radiant self-satisfaction, “he clapped on sail without orders from
quarter-deck, so I made him carry it till his bows were under water.”

“You will kill my uncle’s horse,” was the reply, in a chilling tone.

“Heaven forbid!”

“Look at its poor flank beating.”

David hung his head like a school-girl rebuked. “But why did he clap
on sail if he could not carry it?” inquired he, ruefully, of his
monitress.

The others burst out laughing; but Lucy remained grave and silent.

David rode along crestfallen.

Mrs. Bazalgette brought her pony close to him, and whispered, “Never
mind that little cross-patch. _She_ does not care a pin about the
_horse;_ you interrupted her flirtation, that is all.”

This piece of consolation soothed David like a bunch of
stinging-nettles.

While Mrs. Bazalgette was consoling David with thorns, Kenealy and
Talboys were quizzing his figure on horseback.

He sat bent like a bow and visibly sticking on: _item,_ he had no
straps, and his trousers rucked up half-way to his knee.

Lucy’s attention being slyly drawn to these phenomena by David’s
friend Talboys, she smiled politely, though somewhat constrainedly;
but the gentlemen found it a source of infinite amusement during the
whole ride, which, by the way, was not a very long one, for Miss
Fountain soon expressed a wish to turn homeward. David felt guilty, he
scarce knew why.

The promised happiness was wormwood. On dismounting, she went to the
lawn to tend her flowers. David followed her, and said bitterly, “I am
sorry I came to spoil your pleasure.”

Miss Fountain made no answer.

“I thought I might have one ride with you, when others have so many.”

“Why, of course, Mr. Dodd. If you like to expose yourself to ridicule,
it is no affair of mine.” The lady’s manner was a happy mixture of
frigidity and crossness. David stood benumbed, and Lucy, having
emptied her flower-pot, glided indoors without taking any farther
notice of him.

David stood rooted to the spot. Then he gave a heavy sigh, and went
and leaned against one of the pillars of the portico, and everything
seemed to swim before his eyes.

Presently he heard a female voice inquire, “Is Miss Lucy at home?” He
looked, and there was a tall, strapping woman in conference with
Henry. She had on a large bonnet with flaunting ribbons, and a bushy
cap infuriated by red flowers. Henry’s eye fell upon these
embellishments: “Not at home,” chanted he, sonorously.

“Eh, dear,” said the woman sadly, “I have come a long way to see her.”

“Not at home, ma’am,” repeated Henry, like a vocal machine.

“My name is Wilson, young man,” said she, persuasively, and the
Amazon’s voice was mellow and womanly, spite of her coal-scuttle full
of field poppies. “I am her nurse, and I have not seen her this five
years come Martinmas;” and the Amazon gave a gentle sigh of
disappointment.

“Not at home, ma’am!” rang the inexorable Plush.

But David’s good heart took the woman’s part. “She is at home, now,”
 said he, coming forward. “I saw her go into the house scarce a minute
ago.”

“Oh, thank you, sir,” said Mrs. Wilson. But Mr. Plush’s face was
instantly puckered all over with signals, which David not
comprehending, he said, “Can I say a word with you, sir?” and, drawing
him on one side, objected, in an injured and piteous tone. “We are not
at home to such gallimaufry as that; it is as much as my place is
worth to denounce that there bonnet to our ladies.”

“Bonnet be d--d,” roared David, aloud. “It is her old nurse. Come,
heave ahead;” and he pointed up the stairs.

“Anything to oblige you, captain,” said Henry, and sauntered into the
drawing-room; “Mrs. Wilson, ma’am, for Miss Fountain.”

“Very well; my niece will be here directly.”

Lucy had just gone to her own room for some working materials.

“You had better come to an anchor on this seat, Mrs. Wilson,” said
David.

“Thank ye kindly, young gentleman,” said Mrs. Wilson; and she settled
her stately figure on the seat. “I have walked a many miles to-day,
along of our horse being lame, and I am a little tired. You are one of
the family, I do suppose?”

“No, I am only a visitor.”

“Ain’t ye now? Well, thank ye kindly, all the same. I have seen a
worse face than yours, I can tell you,” added she; for in the midst of
it all she had found time to read countenances _more mulierurn._

“And I have seen a good many hundred worse than yours, Mrs. Wilson.”

Mrs. Wilson laughed. “Twenty years ago, if you had said so, I might
have believed you, or even ten; but, bless you, I am an old woman now,
and can say what I choose to the men. Forty-two next Candlemas.”

In the country they call themselves old at forty-two, because they
feel young. In town they call themselves young at forty-two, because
they feel old.

David found that he had fallen in with a gossip; and, being in no
humor for vague chat, he left Mrs. Wilson to herself, with an
assurance that Miss Fountain would be down to her directly.

In leaving her he went into worse company--his own thoughts; they were
inexpressibly sad and bitter. “She hates me, then,” said he.
“Everybody is welcome to her at all hours, except me. That lady said
it was because I interrupted her flirtation. Aha! well, I shan’t
interrupt her flirtation much longer. I shan’t be in her way or
anybody’s long. A few short hours, and this bitter day will be
forgotten, and nothing left me but the memory of the kindness she had
for me once, or seemed to have, and the angel face I must carry in my
heart wherever I go, by land or sea. The sea? would to God I was upon
it this minute! I’d rather be at sea than ashore in the dirtiest night
that ever blew.”

He had been walking to and fro a good half-hour, deeply dejected and
turning bitter, when, looking in accidentally at the hall door, he
caught sight of Mrs. Wilson sitting all alone where he had left her.
“Why, what on earth is the meaning of that?” thought he; and he went
into the hall and asked Mrs. Wilson how she came to be there all
alone.

“That is what I have been asking myself a while past,” was the dry
reply.

“Have you not seen her?”

“No, sir, I have not seen her, and, to my mind, it is doubtful whether
I am to see her.”

“But I say you shall see her.”

“No, no, don’t put yourself out, sir,” said the woman, carelessly; “I
dare say I shall have better luck next time, if I should ever come to
this house again, which it is not very likely.” She added gently,
“Young folk are thoughtless; we must not judge them too hardly.”

“Thoughtless they may be, but they have no business to be heartless. I
have a great mind to go up and fetch her down.”

“Don’t ye trouble, sir. It is not worth while putting you about for an
old woman like me.” Then suddenly dropping the mask of nonchalance
which women of this class often put on to hide their sensibility, she
said, very, very gravely, and with a sad dignity, that one would not
have expected from her gossip and her finery, “I begin to fear, sir,
that the child I have suckled does not care to know me now she is a
woman grown.”

David dashed up the stairs with a red streak on his brow. He burst
into the drawing-room, and there sat Mrs. Bazalgette overlooking, and
Lucy working with a face of beautiful calm. She looked just then so
very like a pure, tranquil Madonna making an altar-cloth, or
something, that David’s intention to give her a scolding was withered
in the bud, and he gazed at her surprised and irresolute, and said not
a word.

“Anything the matter?” inquired Mrs. Bazalgette, attracted by the
bruskness of his entry.

“Yes, there is,” said David sternly.

Lucy looked up.

“Miss Fountain’s old nurse has been sitting in the hall more than half
an hour, and nobody has had the politeness to go near her.”

“Oh, is that all? Well, don’t look daggers at me. There is Lucy; give
her a lesson in good-breeding, Mr. Dodd.” This was said a little
satirically, and rather nettled David.

“Perhaps it does not become me to set up for a teacher of that. I know
my own deficiencies as well as anybody in this house knows them; but
this I know, that, if an old friend walked eight miles to see me, it
would not be good-breeding in me to refuse to walk eight yards to see
her. And, another thing, everybody’s time is worth something; if I did
not mean to see her, I would have that much consideration to send down
and tell her so, and not keep the woman wasting her time as well as
her trouble, and vexing her heart into the bargain.”

“Where is she, Mr. Dodd?” asked Lucy quickly.

“Where is she?” cried David, getting louder and louder. “Why, she is
cooling her heels in the hall this half hour and more. They hadn’t the
manners to show her into a room.”

“I will go to her, Mr. Dodd,” said Lucy, turning a little pale. “Don’t
be angry; I will go directly”; and, having said this with an abject
slavishness that formed a miraculous contrast with her late crossness
and imperious chilliness, she put down her work hastily and went out;
only at the door she curved her throat, and cast back, Parthian-like,
a glance of timid reproach, as much as to say, “Need you have been so
very harsh with a creature so obedient as this is?”

That deprecating glance did Mr. Dodd’s business. It shot him with
remorse, and made him feel a brute.

“Ha! ha! That is the way to speak to her, Mr. Dodd; the other
gentlemen spoil her.”

“It was very unbecoming of me to speak to her harshly like that.”

“Pooh! nonsense; these girls like to be ordered about; it saves them
the trouble of thinking for themselves; but what is to become of me?
You have sent off my workwoman.”

“I will do her work for her.”

“What! can you sew?”

“Where is the sailor that can’t sew?”

“Delightful! Then please to sew these two thick ends together. Here is
a large needle.”

David whipped out of his pocket a round piece of leather with strings
attached, and fastened it to the hollow of his hand.

“What is that?”

“It is a sailor’s thimble.” He took the work, held it neatly, and
shoved the needle from behind through the thick material. He worked
slowly and uncouthly, but with the precision that was a part of his
character, and made exact and strong stitches. His task-mistress
looked on, and, under the pretense of minute inspection, brought a
face that was still arch and pretty unnecessarily close to the marine
milliner, in which attitude they were surprised by Mr. Bazalgette,
who, having come in through the open folding-doors, stood looking
mighty sardonic at them both before they were even aware he was in the
room.

Omphale colored faintly, but Hercules gave a cool nod to the newcomer,
and stitched on with characteristic zeal and strict attention to the
matter in hand.

At this Bazalgette uttered a sort of chuckle, at which Mrs. Bazalgette
turned red. David stitched on for the bare life.

“I came to offer to invite you to my study, but--”

“I can’t come just now,” said David, bluntly; “I am doing a lady’s
work for her.”

“So I see,” retorted Bazalgette, dryly.

“We all dine with the Hunts but you and Mr. Dodd,” said Mrs.
Bazalgette, “so you will be _en tete-a-tete_ all the evening.”

“All the better for us both.” And with this ingratiating remark Mr.
Bazalgette retired whistling.

Mrs. Bazalgette heaved a gentle sigh: “Pity me, my friend,” said she,
softly.

“What is the matter?” inquired David, rather bluntly.

“Mr. Bazalgette is so harsh to me--ah!--to me, who longs so for
kindness and gentleness that I feel I could give my very soul in
exchange for them.”

The bait did not take.

“It is only his manner,” said David, good-naturedly. “His heart is all
right; I never met a better. What sort of a knot is that you are
tying? Why, that is a granny’s knot;” and he looked morose, at which
she looked amazed; so he softened, and explained to her with
benevolence the rationale of a knot. “A knot is a fastening intended
to be undone again by fingers, and not to come undone without them.
Accordingly, a knot is no knot at all if it jams or if it slips. A
granny’s knot does both; when you want to untie it you must pick at it
like taking a nail out of a board, and, for all that, sooner or later
it always comes undone of itself; now you look here;” and he took a
piece of string out of his pocket, and tied her a sailor’s knot,
bidding her observe that she could untie it at once, but it could
never come untied of itself. He showed her with this piece of string
half a dozen such knots, none of which could either jam or slip.

“Tie me a lover’s knot,” suggested the lady, in a whisper.

“Ay! ay!” and he tied her a lover’s knot as imperturbably as he had
the reef knot, bowling-knot, fisherman’s bend, etc.

“This is very interesting,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, ironically. She
thought David might employ a tete-a-tete with a flirt better than
this. “What a time Lucy is gone!”

“All the better.”

“Why?” and she looked down in mock confusion.

“Because poor Mrs. Wilson will be glad.”

Mrs. Bazalgette was piqued at this unexpected answer. “You seem quite
captivated with this Mrs. Wilson; it was for her sake you took Lucy to
task. Apropos, you need not have scolded her, for she did not know the
woman was in the house.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean Lucy was not in the room when Mrs. Wilson was announced. I
was, but I did not tell her; the all-important circumstance had
escaped my memory. Where are you running to now?”

“Where? why, to ask her pardon, to be sure.”

Mrs. B. [Brute!]

David ran down the stairs to look for Lucy, but he found somebody else
instead--his sister Eve, whom the servant had that moment admitted
into the hall. It was “Oh, Eve!” and “Oh, David!” directly, and an
affectionate embrace.

“You got my letter, David?”

“No.”

“Well, then you will before long. I wrote to tell you to look out for
me; I had better have brought the letter in my pocket. I didn’t know I
was coming till just an hour before I started. Mother insisted on my
going to see the last of you. Cousin Mary had invited me to ----, so I
shall see you off, Davy dear, after all. I thought I’d just pop in and
let you know I was in the neighborhood. Mary and her husband are
outside the gate in their four-wheel. I would not let them drive in,
because I want to hear your story, and they would have bothered us.”

“Eve, dear, I have no good news for you. Your words have come true. I
have been perplexed, up and down, hot and cold, till I feel sometimes
like going mad. Eve, I cannot fathom her. She is deeper than the
ocean, and more changeable. What am I saying? the sea and the wind;
they are to be read; they have their signs and their warnings; but
she--”

“There! there! that is the old song. I tell you it is only a girl--a
creature as shallow as a puddle, and as easy to fathom, as you call
it, only men are so stupid, especially boys. Now just you tell me all
she has said, all she has done, and all she has looked, and I will
turn her inside out like a glove in a minute.”

Cheered by this audacious pledge, David pumped upon Eve all that has
trickled on my readers, and some minor details besides, and repeated
Lucy’s every word, sweet or bitter, and recalled her lightest
action--_Meminerunt omnia amantes_--and every now and then he
looked sadly into Eve’s keen little face for his doom.

She heard him in silence until the last fatal incident, Lucy’s
severity on the lawn. Then she put in a question. “Were those her
exact words?”

“Do I ever forget a syllable she says to me?”

“Don’t be angry. I forgot what a ninny she has made of you. Well,
David, it is all as plain as my hand. The girl likes you--that is
all.”

“The girl likes me? What do you mean? How can you say that? What sign
of liking is there?”

“There are two. She avoids you, and she has been rude to you.”

“And those are signs of liking, are they?” said David, bitterly.

“Why, of course they are, stupid. Tell me, now, does she shun this
Captain Keely?”

“Kenealy. No.”

“Does she shun Mr. Harvey?”

“Hardie. No.”

“Does she shun Mr. Talboys?”

“Oh Eve, you break my heart--no! no! She shuns no one but poor David.”

“Now think a little. Here are three on one sort of footing, and one on
a different footing; which is likeliest to be _the man,_ the one
or the three? You have gained a point since we were all together. She
_distinguishes_ you.”

“But what a way to distinguish me. It looks more like hatred than
love, or liking either.”

“Not to my eye. Why should she shun you? You are handsome, you are
good-tempered, and good company. Why should she be shy of you? She is
afraid of you, that is why; and why is she afraid of you? because she
is afraid of her own heart. That is how I read her. Then, as for her
snubbing you, if her character was like mine, that ought to go for
nothing, for I snub all the world; but this is a little queen for
politeness. I can’t think she would go so far out of her way as to
affront anybody unless she had an uncommon respect for him.”

“Listen to that, now! I am on my beam-ends.”

“Now think a minute, David,” said Eve, calmly, ignoring his late
observation; “did you ever know her snub anybody?”

“Never. Did you?”

“No; and she never would, unless she took an uncommon interest in the
person. When a girl likes a man, she thinks she has a right to ill-use
him a little bit; he has got her affection to set against a scratch or
two; the others have not. So she has not the same right to scratch
them. La! listen to me teaching him A B C. Why, David, you know
nothing; it’s scandalous.”

Eve’s confidence communicated itself at last to David; but when he
asked her whether she thought Lucy would consent to be his wife, her
countenance fell in her turn. “That is a very different thing. I am
pretty sure she likes you; how could she help it? but I doubt she will
never go to the altar with you. Don’t be angry with me, Davy, dear.
You are in love with her, and to you she is an angel. But I am of her
own sex, and see her as she is; no matter who she likes, she will
never be content to make a bad match, as they call it. She told me so
once with her own lips. But she had no need to tell me; worldliness is
written on her. David, David, you don’t know these great houses, nor
the fair-spoken creatures that live in them, with tongues tuned to
sentiment, and mild eyes fixed on the main chance. Their drawing-rooms
are carpeted market-places; you may see the stones bulge through the
flowery pattern; there the ladies sell their faces, the gentlemen
their titles and their money; and much I fear Miss Fountain’s hand
will go like the rest--to the highest bidder.”

“If I thought so, my love, deep as it is, would turn to contempt; I
would tear her out of my heart, though I tore my heart out of my
body.” He added, “I will know what she is before many hours.”

“Do, David. Take her off her guard, and make hot love to her; that is
your best chance. It is a pity you are so much in love with her; you
might win her by a surprise if you only liked her in moderation.”

“How so, dear Eve?”

“The battle would be more even. Your adoring her gives her the upper
hand of you. She is sure to say ‘no’ at first, and then I am afraid
you will leave off, instead of going on hotter and hotter. The very
look she will put on to check you will check you, you are so green.
What a pity I can’t take your place for half an hour. I would have her
against her will. I would take her by storm. If she said ‘no’ twenty
times, she should say ‘yes’ the twenty-first; but you are afraid of
her; fancy being afraid of a woman. Come, David, you must not
shilly-shally, but attack her like a man; and, if she is such a fool
she can’t see your merit, forgive her like a man, and forget her like
a man. Come, promise me you will.”

“I promise you this, that if I lose her it shall not be for want of
trying to win her; and, if she refuses me because I am not her fancy,
I shall die a bachelor for her sake.” Eve sighed. “But if she is the
mercenary thing you take her for--if she owns to liking me, but
prefers money to love, then from that moment she is no more to me than
a picture or a statue, or any other lovely thing that has no soul.”

With these determined words he gave his sister his arm, and walked
with her through the grounds to the road where her cousin was waiting
for her.


Lucy found Mrs. Wilson in the hall. “Come into the library, Mrs.
Wilson,” said she; “I have only just heard you were here. Won’t you
sit down? Are you not well, Mrs. Wilson? You tremble. You are
fatigued, I fear. Pray compose yourself. May I ring for a glass of
wine for you?”

“No, no, Miss Lucy,” said the woman, smiling; “it is only along of you
coming to me so sudden, and you so grown. Eh! sure, can this fine
young lady be the little girl I held in my lap but t’other day, as it
seems?”

There was an agitation and ardor about Mrs. Wilson that, coupled with
the flaming bonnet, made Miss Fountain uneasy. She thought Mrs. Wilson
must be a little cracked, or at least flighty.

“Pray compose yourself, madam,” said she, soothingly, but with that
dignity nobody could assume more readily than she could. “I dare say I
am much grown since I last had the pleasure of seeing you; but I have
not outgrown my memory, and I am happy to receive you, or any of our
old servants that knew my dear mother.”

“Then I must not look for a welcome,” said Mrs. Wilson, with feminine
logic, “for I was never your servant, nor your mamma’s.” Lucy opened
her eyes, and her face sought an explanation.

“I never took any money for what I gave you, so how could I be a
servant? To see me a dangling of my heels in your hall so long, one
would say I was a servant; but I am not a servant, nor like to be,
please God, unless I should have the ill luck to bury my two boys, as
I have their father. So perhaps the best thing I can do, miss, is to
drop you my courtesy and walk back as I came.” The Amazon’s manner was
singularly independent and calm, but the tell-tale tears were in the
large gray honest eyes before she ended.

Lucy’s natural penetration and habit of attending to faces rather than
words came to her aid. “Wait a minute, Mrs. Wilson,” said she; “I
think there is some misunderstanding here. Perhaps the fault is mine.
And yet I remember more than one nursery-maid that was kind enough to
me; but I have heard nothing of them since.”

“Their blood is not in your veins as mine is, unless the doctors have
lanced it out.”

“I never was bled in my life, if you mean that, madam. But I must ask
you to explain how I can possibly have the--the advantage of
possessing _your_ blood in _my_ veins.”

Mrs. Wilson eyed her keenly. “Perhaps I had better tell you the story
from first to last, young lady,” said she quietly.

“If you please,” said the courtier, mastering a sigh; for in Mrs.
Wilson there was much that promised fluency.

“Well, miss, when you came into the world, your mamma could not nurse
you. I do notice the gentry that eat the fat of the land are none the
better for it; for a poor woman can do a mother’s part by her child,
but high-born and high-fed folk can’t always; so you had to be brought
up by hand, miss, and it did not agree with you, and that is no great
wonder, seeing it is against nature. Well, my little girl, that was
born just two days after you, died in my arms of convulsion fits when
she was just a month old. She had only just been buried, and me in
bitter grief, when doesn’t the doctor call and ask me as a great
favor, would I nurse Mrs. Fountain’s child, that was pining for want
of its natural food. I bade him get out of my sight. I felt as if no
woman had a right to have a child living when my little darling was
gone. But my husband, a just man as ever was, said, ‘Take a thought,
Mary; the child is really pining, by all accounts.’ Well, I would not
listen to him. But next Sunday, after afternoon church, my mother,
that had not said a word till then, comes to me, and puts her hand on
my shoulder with a quiet way she had. ‘Mary,’ says she, ‘I am older
than you, and have known more.’ She had buried six of us, poor thing.
Says she, scarce above a whisper, ‘Suckle that failing child. It will
be the better for her, and the better for you, Mary, my girl.’ Well,
miss, my mother was a woman that didn’t interfere every minute, and
seldom gave her reasons; but, if you scorned her advice, you mostly
found them out to your cost; and then she was my mother; and in those
days mothers were more thought of, leastways by us that were women and
had suffered for our children, and so learned to prize the woman that
had suffered for us. ‘Well, then,’ I said, ‘if you say so, mother, I
suppose I didn’t ought to gainsay you, on the Lord His day.’ For you
see my mother was one that chose her time for speaking--eh! but she
was wise. ‘Mother,’ says I, ‘to oblige you, so be it’; and with that I
fell to crying sore on my mother’s neck, and she wasn’t long behind
me, you may be sure. Whiles we sat a crying in one another’s arms, in
comes John, and goes to speak a word of comfort. ‘It is not that,’
says my mother; ‘she have given her consent to nurse Mrs. Fountain’s
little girl.’ ‘It is much to her credit,’ says he: says he, ‘I will
take her up to the house myself.’ ‘What for?’ says I; ‘them that
grants the favor has no call to run after them that asks it.’ You see,
Miss Lucy, that was my ignorance; we were small farmers, too
independent to be fawning, and not high enough to weed ourselves of
upishness. Your mamma, she was a real lady, so she had no need to
trouble about her dignity; she thought only of her child; and she
didn’t send the child, but she came with it herself. Well, she came
into our kitchen, and made her obeisance, and we to her, and mother
dusted her a seat. She was pale-like, and a mother’s care was in her
face, and that went to my heart. ‘This is very, very kind of you, Mrs.
Wilson,’ said she. Those were her words. ‘Mayhap it is,’ says I; and
my heart felt like lead. Mother made a sign to your mamma that she
should not hurry me. I saw the signal, for I was as quick as she was;
but I never let on I saw it. At last I plucked up a bit of courage,
and I said, ‘Let me see it.’ So mother took you from the girl that
held you all wrapped up, and mother put you on my knees; and I took a
good look at you. You had the sweetest little face that ever came into
the world, but all peaked and pining for want of nature. With you
being on my knees, my bosom began to yearn over you, it did. ‘The
child is starved,’ said I; ‘that is all its grief. And you did right
to bring it’ here.’ Your mother clasps her hands, ‘Oh, Mrs. Wilson,’
says she, ‘God grant it is not too late.’ So then I smiled back to
her, and I said, ‘Don’t you fret; in a fortnight you shan’t know her.’
You see I was beginning to feel proud of what I knew I could do for
you. I was a healthy young woman, and could have nursed two children
as easy as some can one. To make a long story short, I gave you the
breast then and there; and you didn’t leave us long in doubt whether
cow’s milk or mother’s milk is God’s will for sucklings. Well, your
mamma put her hands before her face, and I saw the tears force their
way between her fingers. So, when she was gone, I said to my mother,
‘What was that for?’ ‘I shan’t tell you,’ says she. ‘Do, mother,’ says
I. So she said, ‘I wonder at your having to ask; can’t you see it was
jealousy-like. Do you think she has not her burden to bear in this
world as well as you? How would you like to see another woman do a
mother’s part for a child of yours, and you sit looking on like a
toy-mother? Eh! Miss Lucy, but I was vexed for her at that, and my
heart softened; and I used to take you up to the great house, and
spend nearly the whole day there, not to rob her of her child more
than need be.”

“Oh, Mrs. Wilson! Oh, you kind, noble-hearted creature, surely Heaven
will reward you.”

“That is past praying for, my dear. Heaven wasn’t going to be long in
debt to a farmer’s wife, you may be sure; not a day, not an hour. I
had hardly laid you to my breast when you seemed to grow to my heart.
My milk had been tormenting me for one thing. My good mother had
thought of that, I’ll go bail; and of course you relieved me. But,
above all, you numbed the wound in my heart, and healed it by degrees:
a part of my love that lay in the churchyard seemed to come back like,
and settle on the little helpless darling that milked me. At whiles I
forgot you were not my own; and even when I remembered it, it was--I
don’t know--somehow--as if it wasn’t so. I knew in my head you were
none of mine, but what of that? I didn’t feel it here. Well, miss, I
nursed you a year and two months, and a finer little girl never was
seen, and such a weight! And, of course, I was proud of you; and often
your dear mother tried to persuade me to take a twenty-pound note, or
ten; but I never would. I could not sell my milk to a queen. I’d
refuse it, or I’d make a gift of it, and the love that goes with it,
which is beyond price. I didn’t say so to her in so many words, but I
did use to tell her ‘I was as much in her little girl’s debt as she
was in mine,’ and so I was. But as for a silk gown, and a shawl, and
the like, I didn’t say ‘No’ to them; who ever does?”

“Nurse!”

“My lamb!”

“Can you ever forgive me for confounding you with a servant? I am so
inexperienced. I knew nothing of all this.”

“Oh, Miss Lucy, ‘let that flea stick in the wall,’ as the saying is.”

“But, dear Mrs. Wilson, now only think that your affection for me
should have lasted all these years. You speak as if such tenderness
was common. I fear you are mistaken there: most nurses go away and
think no more of those to whom they have been as mothers in infancy.”

“How do you know that, Miss Lucy? Who can tell what passes inside
those poor women that are ground down into slaves, and never dare show
their real hearts to a living creature? Certainly hirelings will be
hirelings, and a poor creature that is forced to sell her breast, and
is bundled off as soon as she has served the grand folks’ turn, why,
she behooves to steel herself against nature, and she knows that from
the first; but whether she always does get to harden herself, I take
leave to doubt. Miss Lucy; I knew an unfortunate girl that nursed a
young gentleman, leastways a young nobleman it was, and years after
that I have known her to stand outside the hedge for an hour to catch
a sight of him at play on the lawn among the other children. Ay, and
if she had a penny piece to spare she would go and buy him
sugar-plums, and lay wait for him, and give them him, and he heir to
thousands a year.”

“Poor thing! Poor thing!”

“Next to the tie of blood, Miss Lucy, the tie of milk is a binding
affection. When you went to live twenty miles from us, I behooved to
come in the cart and see you from time to time.”

“I remember, nurse, I remember.”

“When I came to our new farm hard by, you were away; but as soon as I
heard you were come back, it was like a magnet drawing me. I could not
keep away from you.”

“Heaven forbid you should; and I will come and see you, dear nurse.”

“Will ye, now? Do now. I have got a nice little parlor for you. It is
a very good house for a farm-house; and there we can set and talk at
our ease, and no fine servants, dressed like lords, coming staring
in.”

Lucy now proffered a timid request that Mrs. Wilson would take off her
bonnet. “I want to see your good kind face without any ornament.”

“Hear to that, now, the darling;” and off came the bonnet.

“Now your cap.”

“Well, I don’t know; I hadn’t time to do my hair as should be before
coming.”

“What does that matter with me? I must see you without that cap.”

“What! don’t you like my new cap? Isn’t it a pretty cap? Why, I bought
it a purpose to come and see you in.”

“Oh, it is a very pretty cap in itself,” said the courtier, “but it
does not suit the shape of your face. Oh, what a difference! Ah! now I
see your heart in your face. Will you let me make you a cap?”

“Will you, now, Miss Lucy? I shall be so proud wearing it our house
will scarce hold me.”

At this juncture a footman came in with a message from Mrs. Bazalgette
to remind Lucy that they dined out.

“I must go and dress, nurse.” She then kissed her and promised to ride
over and visit her at her farm next week, and spend a long time with
her quietly, and so these new old friends parted.

Lucy pondered every word Mrs. Wilson had said to her, and said to
herself: “What a child I am still! How little I know! How feebly I
must have observed!”

The party at dinner consisted of Mr. Bazalgette, David, and Reginald,
who, taking advantage of his mother’s absence and Lucy’s, had
prevailed on the servants to let him dine with the grown-up ones.
“Halo? urchin,” said Mr. Bazalgette, “to what do we owe this honor?”

“Papa,” said Reginald, quaking at heart, “if I don’t ever begin to be
a man what is to become of me?”

Mr. Reginald did not exhibit his full powers at dinner-time. He was
greatest at dessert. Peaches and apricots fell like blackberries. He
topped up with the ginger and other preserves; then he uttered a sigh,
and his eye dwelt on some candied pineapple he had respited too long.
Putting the pineapple’s escape and the sigh together, Mr. Bazalgette
judged that absolute repletion had been attained. “Come, Reginald,”
 said he, “run away now, and let Mr. Dodd and me have our talk.” Before
the words were even out of his mouth a howl broke from the terrible
infant. He had evidently feared the proposal, and got this dismal howl
all ready.

“Oh, papa! Oh! oh!”

“What is the matter?”

“Don’t make me go away with the ladies this time. Jane says I am not a
man because I go away when the ladies go. And Cousin Lucy won’t marry
me till I am a man. Oh, papa, do let me be a man this once.”

“Let him stay, sir,” said David.

“Then he must go and play at the end of the room, and not interrupt
our conversation.”

Mr. Reginald consented with rapture. He had got a new puzzle. He could
play at it in a corner; all he wanted was to be able to stop Jane’s
mouth, should she ever jeer him again. Reginald thus disposed of, Mr.
Bazalgette courted David to replenish his glass and sit round to the
fire. The fire was huge and glowing, the cut glass sparkled, and the
ruby wine glowed, and even the faces shone, and all invited genial
talk. Yet David, on the eve of his departure and of his fate,
oppressed with suspense and care, was out of the reach of those
genial, superficial influences. He could only just mutter a word of
assent here and there, then relapsed into his reverie, and eyed the
fire thoughtfully, as if his destiny lay there revealed. Mr.
Bazalgette, on the contrary, glowed more and more in manner as well as
face, and, like many of his countrymen, seemed to imbibe friendship
with each fresh glass of port.

At last, under the double influence of his real liking for David and
of the Englishman-thawing Portuguese decoction, he gave his favorite a
singular proof of friendship. It came about as follows. Observing that
he had all the talk to himself, he fixed his eyes with an expression
of paternal benevolence on his companion, and was silent in turn.

David looked up, as we all do when a voice ceases, and saw this mild
gaze dwelling on him.

“Dodd, my boy, you don’t say a word; what is the matter?”

“I am very bad company, sir, that is the truth.”

“Well, fill your glass, then, and I’ll talk for you. I have got
something to say for you, young gentleman.” David filled his glass and
forced himself to attend; after a while no effort was needed.

“Dodd,” resumed the mature merchant, “I need hardly tell you that I
have a particular regard for you; the reason is, you are a young man
of uncommon merit.”

“Mr. Bazalgette! sir! I don’t know which way to look when you praise
me like that. It is your goodness; you overrate me.”

“No, I don’t. I am a judge of men. I have seen thousands, and seen
them too close to be taken in by their outside. You are the only one
of my wife’s friends that ever had the run of my study. What do you
think of that, now?”

“I am very proud of it, sir; that is all I can find to say.”

“Well, young man, that same good opinion I have of you induces me to
do something else, that I have never done for any of your
predecessors.”

Mr. Bazalgette paused. David’s heart beat. Quick as lightning it
darted through his mind, “He is going to ask a favor for me.
Promotion? Why not? He is a merchant. He has friends in the Company.’”

“I am going to interfere in your concerns, Dodd.”

“You are very good, sir.”

“Well, perhaps I am. I have to overcome a natural reluctance. But you
are worth the struggle. I shall therefore go against the usages of the
world, which I don’t care a button for, and my own habits, which I
care a great deal for, and give you, humph--a piece of friendly
advice.”

David looked blank.

“Dodd, my boy, you are playing the fool in this house.”

David looked blanker.

“It is not your fault; you are led into it by one of those sweet
creatures that love to reduce men to the level of their own wisdom.
You are in love, or soon will be.”

David colored all over like a girl, and his face of distress was
painful to see.

“You need not look so frightened; I am your friend, not your enemy.
And do you really think others besides me have not seen what is going
on? Now, Dodd, my dear fellow, I am an old man, and you are a young
one. Moreover, I understand the lady, and you don’t.”

“That is true, sir; I feel I cannot fathom her.”

“Poor fellow! Well, but I have known her longer than you.”

“That is true, sir.”

“And on closer terms of intimacy.”

“No doubt, sir.”

“Then listen to me. She is all very charming outside, and full of
sensibility outside, but she has no more real feeling than a fish. She
will go a certain length with you, or with any agreeable young man,
but she can always stop where it suits her. No lady in England values
position and luxury more than she does, or is less likely to sacrifice
them to love, a passion she is incapable of. Here, then, is a game at
which you run all the risk. No! leave her to puppies like Kenealy;
they are her natural prey. You must not play such a heart as yours
against a marble taw. It is not an even stake.”

David groaned audibly. His first thought was, “Eve says the same of
her.” His second, “All the world is against her, poor thing.”

“Is she to bear the blame of my folly?”

“Why not? She is the cause of your folly. It began with her setting
her cap at you.”

“No, sir, you do her wrong. She is modesty itself.”

“Ta! ta! ta! you are a sailor, green as sea-weed.”

“Mr. Bazalgette, as I am a gentleman, she never has encouraged me to
love her as I do.”

“Your statement, sir, is one which becomes a gentleman--under the
circumstances. But I happen to have watched her. It is a thing I have
taken the trouble to do for some time past. It was my interest in you
that made me curious, and apprehensive--on your account.”

“Then, if you have watched her, you must have seen her avoid me.”

“Pooh! pooh! that was drawing the bait; these old stagers can all do
that.”

“Old stagers!” and David looked as if blasphemy had been uttered.
Bazalgette wore a grin of infinite irony.

“Don’t be shocked,” said he; “of course, I mean old in flirtation; no
lady is old in years.”

“_She_ is not, at all events.”

“It is agreed. There are legal fictions, and why not social ones?”

“I don’t understand you, sir; and, in truth, it is all a puzzle to me.
You don’t seem angry with me?”

“Why, of course not, my poor fellow; I pity you.”

“Yet you discourage me, Mr. Bazalgette.”

“But not from any selfish motive. I want to spare you the
mortification that is in store for you. Remember, I have seen the
_end_ of about a dozen of you.”

“Good Heavens! And what is the end of us?”

“The cold shoulder without a day’s warning, and another fool set in
your place, and the house door slammed in your face, etc., etc. Oh,
with her there is but one step from flirtation to detestation. Not one
of her flames is her friend at this moment.”

David hung his head, and his heart turned sick; there was a silence of
some seconds, during which Bazalgette eyed him keenly. “Sir,” said
David, at last, “your words go through me like a knife.”

“Never mind. It is a friendly surgeon’s knife, not an assassin’s.”

“Yet you say it is only out of regard for me you warn me so against
her.”

“I repeat it.”

“Then, sir, if, by Heaven’s mercy, you should be mistaken in her
character--if, little as I deserve it, I should succeed in winning her
regard--I might reckon on your permission--on your kind--support?”

“Hardly,” said Mr. Bazalgette, hastily. He then stared at the honest
earnest face that was turned toward him. “Well,” said he, “you modest
gentlemen have a marvelous fund of assurance at bottom. No, sir; with
the exception of this piece of friendly advice I shall be strictly
neutral. In return for it, if you should succeed, be so good as to
take her out of the house, that is the only stipulation I venture to
propose.”

“I should be sure to do that,” cried David, lifting his eyes to Heaven
with rapture; “but I shall not have the chance.”

“So I keep telling you. You might as well hope to tempt a statue of
the Goddess Flirtation. She infinitely prefers wealth and vanity to
anything, even to vice.”

“Vice, sir! is that a term for us to apply to a lady like her, whom we
are all unworthy to approach?” and David turned very red.

“Well, _you_ need not quarrel with _me_ about her, as
_I_ don’t with _you.”_

“Quarrel with you, dear sir? I hope I feel your kindness, and know my
duty better; but, sir, I am agitated, and my heart is troubled; and
surely you go beyond reason. She is not old enough to have had so many
lovers.”

“Humph! she has made good use of her time.”

“Even could I believe that she, who seems to me an angel, is a
coquette, still she cannot be hard and heartless as you describe her.
It is impossible; it does not belong to her years.”

“You keep harping on her age, Dodd. Do you know her age? If you do,
you have the advantage of me. I have not seen her baptismal register.
Have you?”

“No, sir, but I know what she says is her age.”

“That is only evidence of what is not her age.”

“But there is her face, sir; that is evidence.”

“You have never seen her face; it is always got up to deceive the
public.”

“I have seen it at the dawn, before any of you were up.”

“What is that? Halo! the deuce--where?”

“In the garden.”

“In the garden? Oh, she does not jump off her down-bed on to a
flowerbed. She had been an hour at work on that face before ever the
sun or you got leave to look on it.”

“I’ll stake my head I tell her age within a year, Mr. Bazalgette.”

“No you will not, nor within ten years.”

“That is soon seen. I call her one-and-twenty.”

“One-and-twenty! You are mad! Why, she has had a child that would be
fifteen now if it had lived.”

“Miss Lucy? A child? Fifteen years? What on earth do you mean?”

“What do _you_ mean? What has Miss Lucy to do with it? You know
very well it is MY WIFE I am warning you against, not that innocent
girl.”

At this David burst out in his turn. “YOUR WIFE! and have you so vile
an opinion of me as to think I would eat your bread and tempt your
wife under your roof. Oh, Mr. Bazalgette, is this the esteem you
profess for me?”

“Go to the Devil!” shouted Bazalgette, in double ire at his own
blunder and at being taken to task by his own Telemachus; he added,
but in a very different tone, “You are too good for this world.”

The best things we say miss fire in conversation; only second-rate
shots hit the mind through the ear. This, we will suppose, is why
David derived no amusement or delectation from Mr. Bazalgette’s
inadvertent but admirable _bon-mot._

“Go to the Devil! you are too good for this world.”

He merely rose, and said gravely, “Heaven forgive you your unjust
suspicions, and God bless you for your other kindness. Good-by!”

“Why, where on earth are you going?”

“To stow away my things; to pack up, as they call it.”

“Come back! come back! why, what a terrible fellow you are; you make
no allowances for metaphors. There, forgive me, and shake hands. Now
sit down. I esteem you more than ever. You have come down from another
age and a much better one than this. Now let us be calm, quiet,
sensible, tranquil. Hallo!” (starting up in agitation), “a sudden
light bursts on me. You are in love, and not with my wife; then it is
my ward.”

“It is too late to deny it, sir.”

“That is far more serious than the other,” said Bazalgette, very
gravely; “the old one would have been sure to cure you of your fancy
for her, soon or late, but Lucy! Now, just look at that young buffer’s
eyes glaring at us like a pair of saucers.”

“I am not listening, papa; I haven’t heard a word you and Mr. Dodd
have said about naughty ladies. I have been such a good boy, minding
my puzzle.”

“I wish he may not have been minding ours instead,” muttered his sire,
and rang the bell, and ordered the servant to take away Master
Reginald and bring coffee.

The pair sipped their coffee in dead silence. It was broken at last by
David saying sadly and a little bitterly, “I fear, sir, your good
opinion of me does not go the length of letting me come into your
family.”

The merchant seemed during the last five minutes to have undergone
some starching process, so changed was his whole manner now; so
distant, dignified and stiff. “Mr. Dodd,” said he, “I am in a
difficult position. Insincerity is no part of my character. When I say
I have a regard for a man, I mean it. But I am the young lady’s
guardian, sir. She is a minor, though on the verge of her majority,
and I cannot advise her to a match which, in the received sense, would
be a very bad one for her. On the other hand, there are so many
insuperable obstacles between you and her, that I need not combat my
personal sentiments so far as to act against you; it would, indeed,
hardly be just, as I have surprised your secret unfairly, though with
no unfair intention. My promise not to act hostilely implies that I
shall not reveal this conversation to Mrs. Bazalgette; if I did I
should launch the deadliest of all enemies--irritated vanity--upon
you, for she certainly looks on you as her plaything, not her niece’s;
and you would instantly be the victim of her spite, and of her
influence over Lucy, if she discovered you have the insolence to
escape her, and pursue another of her sex. I shall therefore keep
silence and neutrality. Meantime, in the character, not of her
guardian, but of your friend, I do strongly advise you not to think
seriously of her. She will never marry you. She is a good, kind,
amiable creature, but still she is a girl of the world--has all its
lessons at her finger ends. Bless your heart, these meek beauties are
as ambitious as Lucifer, and this one’s ambition is fed by constant
admiration, by daily matrimonial discussions with the old stager, and
I believe by a good offer every now and then, which she refuses,
because she is waiting for a better. Come, now, it only wants one good
wrench--”

David interrupted him mildly: “Then, sir,” said he, thoughtfully; “the
upshot is that, if she says ‘Yes,’ you won’t say ‘No.’”

The mature merchant stared.

“If,” said he, and with this short sentence and a sardonic grin he
broke off trying

           “To fetter flame with flaxen band.”

So nothing more was said or done that evening worth recording.

The next day, being the day of the masquerade, was devoted by the
ladies to the making, altering, and trying on of dresses in their
bedrooms. This turned the downstairs rooms so dark and unlovely that
the gentlemen deserted the house one after the other. Kenealy and
Talboys rode to see a cricket match ten miles off. Hardie drove into
the town of ---- and David paced the gravel walk in hopes that by
keeping near the house he might find Lucy alone, for he was determined
to know his fate and end his intolerable suspense.

He had paced the walk about an hour when fortune seemed to favor his
desires. Lucy came out into the garden. David’s heart beat violently.
To his great annoyance, Mr. Fountain followed her out of the house and
called her. She stopped, and he joined her; and very soon uncle and
niece were engaged in a conversation which seemed so earnest that
David withdrew to another part of the garden not to interfere with
them.

He waited, and waited, and waited till they should separate; but no,
they walked more and more slowly, and the conversation seemed to
deepen in interest. David chafed. If he had known the nature of that
conversation he would have writhed with torture as well as fretted
with impatience, for there the hand of her he loved was sought in
marriage before his eyes, and within a few steps of him. On such
threads hangs human life. Had he been at the hall door instead of in
the garden, he might have anticipated Mr. Fountain. As it was, Mr.
Fountain stole the march on him.



CHAPTER XV.

TO-MORROW Lucy had agreed to sail, and in the boat Mr. Talboys was to
ask and win her band. But from the first Mr. Fountain had never a
childlike confidence in the scheme, and his understanding kept
rebelling more and more.

“‘The man that means to pop, pops,” said he; “one needn’t go to
sea--to pop. Terra firma is poppable on, if it is nothing else. These
young fellows are like novices with a gun: the bird must be in a
position or they can’t shoot it--with their pop-guns. The young sparks
in my day could pop them down flying. We popped out walking, popped
out riding, popped dancing, popped psalm-singing. Talboys could not
pop on horseback, because the lady’s pony fidgeted, not his. Well, it
will be so to-morrow. The boat will misbehave, or the wind will be
easterly, and I shall be told southerly is the popping wind. The truth
is, he is faint-hearted. His sires conquered England, and he is afraid
of a young girl. I’ll end this nonsense. He shall pop by proxy.”

In pursuance of this resolve, seeing his niece pass through the hall
with her garden hat on, he called to her that he would get his hat and
join her. They took one turn together almost in silence. Fountain was
thinking how he should best open the subject, and Lucy waiting after
her own fashion, for she saw by the old man’s manner he had something
to say to her.

“Lucy, my dear, I leave you in a day or two.”

“So soon, uncle.”

“And it depends on you whether I am to go away a happy or a
disappointed old man.”

At these words, to which she was too cautious to reply in words, Lucy
wore a puzzled air; but underneath it a keen observer might have
noticed her cheek pale a little, a very little, and a quiver of
suppressed agitation pass over her like a current of air in summer
over a smooth lake.

Receiving no answer, Mr. Fountain went on to remind her that he was
her only kinsman, Mrs. Bazalgette being her relation by half-blood
only; and told her that, looking on himself as her father, he had
always been anxious to see her position in life secured before his own
death.

“I have been ambitious for you, my dear,” said he, “but not more so
than your beauty and accomplishments, and your family name entitle us
to be. Well, my ambition for you and my affection for you are both
about to be gratified; at least, it now rests with you to gratify
them. Will you be Mrs. Talboys?”

Lucy looked down, and said demurely, “What a question for a third
person to put!”

“Should I put it if I had not a right?”

“I don’t know.”’

“You ought to know, Lucy.”

“Mr. Talboys has authorized you, dear?”

“He has.”’

“Then this is a formal proposal from Mr. Talboy’s?”

“Of course it is,” said the old gentleman, fearlessly, for Lucy’s
manner of putting these questions was colorless; nobody would have
guessed what she was at.

She now drew her arm round her uncle’s neck, and kissed him, which
made him exult prematurely.

“Then, dear uncle,” said she lovingly, “you must tell Mr. Talboys that
I thank him for the honor he does me, and that I decline.”

“Accept, you mean?”

“No I don’t--ha! ha!”


Her laugh died rapidly away at sight of the effect of her words. Mr.
Fountain started, and his face turned red and pale alternately.

“Refuse my friend--refuse Talboys in that way? Thoughtless girl, you
don’t know what you are doing. His family is all but noble. What am I
saying? noble? why, half the House of Peers is sprung from the dregs
of the people, and got there either by pettifogging in the courts of
law, or selling consciences in the Lower House; and of the other half,
that are gentlemen of descent, not two in twenty can show a pedigree
like Talboys. And with that name a princely mansion--antiquity stamped
on it--stands in its own park, in the middle of its vast estates, with
title-deeds in black-letter, girl.”

“But, uncle, all this is encumbered--”

“It is false, whoever told you so. There is not a mortgage on any part
of it--only a few trifling copyholds and pepper-corn rents.”

“You misunderstand me; I was going to say, it is encumbered with a
gentleman for whom I could never feel affection, because he does not
inspire me with respect.”

“Nonsense! he inspires universal respect.”

“It must be by his estates, then, not his character. You know, uncle,
the world is more apt to ask, ‘What _has_ he, then what _is_
he?’”

“He _is_ a polished gentleman.”

“But not a well-bred one.”

“The best bred I ever saw.

“Then you never looked in a glass, dear. No, dear uncle, I will tell
you. Mr. Talboys has seen the world, has kept good society, is at his
ease (a great point), and is perfect in externals. But his good
manners are--what shall I say?--coat deep. His politeness is not proof
against temptation, however petty. The reason is, it is only a
spurious politeness. Real politeness is founded and built on the
golden rule, however delicate and artificial its superstructure may
be. But, leaving out of the question the politeness of the heart, he
has not in any sense the true art of good-breeding; he has only the
common traditions. Put him in a novel situation, with no rules and
examples to guide him, he would be maladroit as a school-boy. He is
just the counterpart of Mr. Dodd in that respect. Poor Mr. Dodd is
always shocking one by violating the commonest rules of society; but
every now and then he bursts out with a flash of natural courtesy so
bright, so refined, so original, yet so worthy of imitation, that you
say to yourself this is genius--the genius of good-breeding.”

Mr. Fountain chafed with impatience during this tirade, in which he
justly suspected an attempt to fritter away a serious discussion.

“Come off your hobby, Lucy,” cried he, “and speak to me like a woman
and like my niece. If this is your objection, overcome it for my
sake.”

“I would, dear,” said Lucy, “but it is only one of my objections, and
by no means the most serious.”

On being invited to come at once to the latter, Lucy hesitated. “Would
not that be unamiable on my part? Mr. Talboys has just paid me the
highest compliment a gentleman can pay a lady; it is for me to decline
him courteously, not abuse him to his friend and representative.”

“No humbug, Lucy, if you please; I am in no humor for it.”

“We should all be savages without a _little_ of it.”

“I am waiting.”

“Then pledge me your word of honor no word of what I now say to the
disadvantage of poor Mr. Talboys shall ever reach him.”

“You may take your oath of that.”

“Then he is a detractor, a character I despise.”

“Who does he detract from? I never heard him.”

“From all his superiors--in other words, from everybody he meets. Did
you ever know him fail to sneer at Mr. Hardie?”

“Oh, that is the offense, is it?”

“No, it is the same with others; there, the other day, Mr. Dodd joined
us on horseback. He did not dress for the occasion. He had no straps
on. He came in a hurry to have our society, not to cut a dash. But
there was Mr. Talboys, who can only do this one thing well, and who,
thanks to his servant, had straps on, sneering the whole time at Mr.
Dodd, who has mastered a dozen far more difficult and more honorable
accomplishments than putting on straps and sitting on horses. But he
is always backbiting and sneering; he admires nothing and nobody.”

“He has admired you ever since he saw you.”

“What! has he never sneered at me?”

“Never! ungrateful girl, never.”

“How humiliating! He takes me for his inferior. His superiors he
always sneers at. If he had seen anything good or spirited in me, he
could not have helped detracting from me. Is not this a serious
reason--that I despise the person who now solicits my love, honor and
obedience? Well, then, there is another--a stronger still. But perhaps
you will call it a woman’s reason.”

“I know. You don’t like him--that is, you fancy you don’t, and can’t.”

“No, uncle, it is not that I don’t like him. It is that I HATE HIM.”

“You hate him?” and Mr. Fountain looked at her to see if it was his
niece Lucy who was uttering words so entirely out of character.

“I am but a poor hater. I have but little practice; but, with all the
power of hating I do possess, I hate that Mr. Talboys. Oh, how
delicious it is to speak one’s mind out nice and rudely. It is a
luxury I seldom indulge in. Yes, uncle,” said Lucy, clinching her
white teeth, “I hate that man, and I did hope his proposal would come
from himself; then there would have been nothing to alloy my quiet
satisfaction at mortifying one who is so ready to mortify others. But
no, he has bewitched you; and you take his part, and you look vexed;
so all my pleasure is turned to pain.”

“It is all self-deception,” gasped Fountain, in considerable
agitation; “you girls are always deceiving yourselves: you none of you
hate any man--unless you love him. He tells me you have encouraged him
of late. You had better tell me that is a lie.”

“A lie, uncle; what an expression! Mr. Talboys is a gentleman; he
would not tell a falsehood, I presume.”

“Aha! it is true, then, you have encouraged him?”

“A little.”

“There, you see; the moment we come from the generalities to facts,
what a simpleton you are proved to be. Come, now, did you or did you
not agree to go in a boat with him?”

“I did, dear.”

“That was a pretty strong measure, Lucy.”

“Very strong, I think. I can tell you I hesitated.”

“Now you see how you have mistaken your own feelings.”

Lucy hung her head. “Oh uncle, you call me simple--and look at you!
fancy not seeing why I agreed to go--_dans cette galere._ It was
that Mr. Talboys might declare himself, and so I might get rid of him
forever. I saw that if I could not bring him to the point, he would
dangle about me for years, and perhaps, at last, succeed in irritating
me to rudeness. But now, of course, I shall stay on shore with my
uncle to-morrow. _Qu’irais je faire dana cette galere?_ you have
done it all for me. Oh, my dear, dear uncle, I am so grateful to you!”

She showed symptoms of caressing Mr. Fountain, but he recoiled from
her angrily. “Viper! but no, this is not you. There is a deeper hand
than you in all this. This is that Mrs. Bazalgette’s doings.”

“No, indeed, uncle.”

“Give me a proof it is not.”

“With pleasure; any proof that is in my power.”

“Then promise me not to marry Mr. Hardie.”

“My dear uncle, Mr. Hardie has never asked me.”

“But he will.”

“What right have I to say so? What right have I to constitute Mr.
Hardie my admirer? I would not for all the world put it into any
gentleman’s power to say, ‘Why say “no,” Miss Fountain, before I have
asked you to say “yes”?’ Oh!”

And, with this, Lucy put her face into her hands, but they were not
large enough to hide the deep blush that suffused her whole face at
the bare idea of being betrayed into an indelicacy of this sort.

“How could he say that? how could he know?” said Mr. Fountain,
pettishly.

“Uncle, I cannot, I dare not. You and my aunt hate one another; so you
might be tempted to tell her, and she would be sure to tell him.
Besides, I cannot; my very instinct revolts from it. It would not be
modest. I love you, uncle. Let me know your wishes, and have some
faith in my affection, but pray do not press me further. Oh, what have
I done, to be spoken of with so many gentlemen!”

Lucy was in evident agitation, and the blushes glowed more and more
round her snowy hands and between her delicate fingers; and there is
something so sacred about the modesty alarmed of an intelligent young
woman--it is a feeling which, however fantastical, is so genuine in
her, and so manifestly intense beyond all we can ourselves feel of the
kind, that no man who is not utterly stupid or depraved can see it
without a certain awe. Even Mr. Fountain, who looked on Lucy’s
distress as transcendent folly with a dash of hypocrisy, could not go
on making her cheek burn so. “There! there!” cried he, “don’t torment
yourself, Lucy. I will spare your fanciful delicacy, though you have
no pity on me--on your poor old uncle, whose heart you will break if
you decline this match.”

At these words, and the old man’s change from anger to sadness, Lucy
looked up in dismay, and the vivid color died, like a retiring wave,
out of her cheek.

“You look surprised, Lucy. What! do you think this will not be a
heartbreaking disappointment to me? If you knew how I have schemed for
it--what I have done and endured to bring it about! To quarter the
arms of Fontaine and Talboys! I put by the 5,000 pounds directly, and
as much more of my own, that you should not go into that noble family
without a proper settlement. It was the dream of my heart; I could
have died contented the next hour. More fool I to care for anybody but
myself. Your selfish people escape these bitter disappointments. Well,
it is a lesson. From this hour I will live for myself and care for
nobody, for nobody cares for me.”

These words, uttered with great agitation, and, I believe, with
perfect sincerity, on his own unselfishness and hard fate, were
terrible to Lucy. She wreathed her arms suddenly round him.

“Oh, uncle,” she cried, despairingly, “kill me! send me to Heaven!
send me to my mother, but don’t stab me with such bitter words;” and
she trembled with an emotion so much more powerful and convulsing than
his, in which temper had a large share, that she once more cowed him.

“There! there!” he muttered, “I don’t want to kill you, child, God
knows, or to hurt you in any way.”

Lucy trembled, and tried to smile. The good nature, which was the
upper crust of this man’s character, got the better of him.

“There! there! don’t distress yourself so. I know who I have to thank
for all this.”

“She has not the power,” said Lucy, in a faint voice, “to make me
ungrateful to you.”

Mind is more rapid than lightning. At this moment, in the middle of a
sentence, it flashed across Lucy that her aunt had convinced her, sore
against her will, that there was a strong element of selfishness in
Mr. Fountain. “But it is that he deceives himself,” thought Lucy. “He
would sacrifice my happiness to his hobby, and think he has done it
for love of me.” Enlightened by this rapid reflection, she did not say
to him as one of his own sex would, “Look in your own heart, and you
will see that all this is not love of me, but of your own schemes.”
 Oh, dear, no, that would not have been the woman. She took him round
the neck, and, fixing her sapphire eyes lovingly on his, she said, “It
is for love of me you set your heart on this great match? You wish to
see me well settled in the world, and, above all, happy?”

“Of course it is. I told you so. What other object can I have?”

“Then, if you saw me wretched, and degraded in my own eyes, your heart
would bleed for your poor niece--too late. Well, uncle, I love you,
too, and I save you this day from remorse. Oh, think what it must be
to hate and despise a man, and link yourself body and soul to that man
for life. Oh, think and shudder with me. I have a quick eye. I have
seen your lip curl with contempt when that fool has been talking--ah!
you blush. You are too much his superior in everything but fortune not
to despise him at heart. See the thing as it is. Speak to me as you
would if my mother stood here beside us, uncle, and to speak to me,
you must look her in the face. Could you say to me before her, ‘I love
you; marry a man we both despise!’?”

Mr. Fountain made no answer. He was disconcerted. Nothing is so easy
to resist as logic solo. We see it, as a general rule, resisted with
great success in public and private every day; but when it comes in
good company, a voice of music, an angel face, gentle, persuasive
caresses, and imploring eyes, it ceases to revolt the understanding.
And so, caught in his own trap, foiled, baffled, soothed, caressed,
all in one breath, Mr. Fountain hung his head, and could not
immediately reply.

Lucy followed up her advantage. “No,” cried she; “say to me, ‘I love
you, Lucy; marry nobody; stay with your uncle, and find your happiness
in contributing to his comfort.’”

“What is the use my saying that, when I have got Mother Bazalgette
against me, and her shopkeeper?”

“Never mind, uncle, you say it, and time will show whether your
influence is small with me, and my affections small for you”; and she
looked in his face with glistening eyes.

“Well, then,” said he, “I do say it, and I suppose that means I must
urge you no more about poor Talboys.”

A shower of kisses descended upon him that moment. Moral: Lose no time
in sealing a good bargain.

“Come, now, Lucy, you must do me a favor.”

“Oh, thank you! thank you! what is it?”

“Ah! but it is about Talboys too.”

“Never mind,” faltered Lucy, “if it is anything short of--” (full
stop).

“It is a long way short of that. Look here, Lucy, I must tell you the
truth. He intends to ask your hand himself: he confided this to me,
but he never authorized me to commit him as I have done, so that this
conversation cannot be acted on: it must be a secret between you and
me.”

“Oh, dear! and I thought I had got rid of him so nicely.”

“Don’t be alarmed,” groaned Fountain; “such matches as this can always
be dropped; the difficulty is to bring them on. All I ask of you,
then, is not to make mischief between me and my friend, the proudest
man in England. If you don’t value his friendship, I do. You must not
let him know I have got him insulted by a refusal. For instance, you
had better go out sailing with him to-morrow as if nothing had passed.
Will your affection for me carry you as far as that?”

The proposal was wormwood to Lucy. So she smiled and said eagerly: “Is
that all? Why, I will do it with pleasure, dear. It is not like being
in the same boat with him for life, you know. Can you give me nothing
more than that to do for you?”

“No; it does not do to test people’s affection too severely. You have
shown me that. Go on with your walk, Lucy. I shall go in.”

“May I not come with you?”

“No; my head aches with all this; if I don’t mind I shall eat no
dinner. Agitation and vexation, don’t agree with me. I have carefully
avoided them all my life. I must go in and lie down for an hour”; and
he left her rather abruptly.

She looked after him; her subtle eye noticed directly that he walked a
little more feebly than usual. She ascribed this to his
disappointment, justly perhaps, for at his age the body has less
elastic force to resist a mental blow. The sight of him creeping away
disappointed, and leaning heavier than usual on his stick, knocked at
her cool but affectionate heart. She began to cry bitterly. When he
was quite out of sight, she turned and paced the gravel slowly and
sadly. It was new to her to refuse her uncle anything, still more
strange to have to refuse him a serious wish. She was prepared,
thoroughly prepared, for the proposal, but not to find the old man’s
heart so deeply set upon it. A wild impulse came over her to call him
back and sacrifice herself; but the high spirit and intelligence that
lay beneath her tenderness and complaisance stood firm. Yet she felt
almost guilty, and very, very unhappy, as we call it at her age. She
kept sighing; “Poor uncle!” and paced the gravel very slowly, hanging
her sweet head, and crying as she went.


At the end of the walk David Dodd stood suddenly before her. He came
flurried on his own account, but stopped thunder-struck at her tears.
“What is the matter, Miss Lucy?”’ said he, anxiously.

“Oh, nothing, Mr. Dodd;” and they flowed afresh.

“Can I do anything for you, Miss Lucy?”

“No, Mr. Dodd.”

“Won’t you tell me what is the matter? Are you not friends with me
to-day?”

“I was put out by a very foolish circumstance, Mr. Dodd, and it is one
with which I shall not trouble you, nor any person of sense. I prefer
to retain your sympathy by not revealing the contemptible cause of my
babyish--There!” She shook her head proudly, as if tears were to be
dispersed like dewdrops. “There!” she repeated; and at this second
effort she smiled radiantly.

“It is like the sun coming out after a shower,” cried David
rapturously.

“That reminds me I must be _going_ in, Mr. Dodd.”

“Don’t say that, Miss Lucy. What for?”

“To arrange another shower, one of pearls, on a dress I am to wear
to-night.”

David sighed. “Ah! Miss Lucy, at sight of me you always make for the
hall door.”

Lucy colored. “Oh, do I? I really was not aware of that. Then I
suppose I am afraid of you. Is that what you would insinuate? “’

“No, Miss Lucy, you are not afraid of me; but I sometimes fear--” and
he hesitated.

“It must blow very hard that day,” said Lucy, with a world of
politeness. Her tongue was too quick for him. He found it so, and
announced the fact after his fashion. “I can’t tack fast enough to
follow you,” said he despondently.

“But you are not required to follow me,” replied this amiable eel,
with hypocritical benignity; “I am going to my aunt’s room to do what
I told you. I leave you in charge of the quarter-deck.” So saying, she
walked slowly up the steps, and left David standing sorrowfully on the
gravel. At the top step Miss Lucy turned and inquired gently when he
was to sail. He told her the ship was expected to anchor off the fort
to-morrow, but she would not sail till she had got all her passengers
on board.

“Oh!” said Lucy, with an air of reflection. She then leaned in an easy
posture against the wall, and, whether it was that she relented a
little, or that, having secured her retreat, she was now indifferent
to flight, certain it is that she did after her own fashion what many
a daughter of Eve has done before her, and many a duchess and many a
dairymaid will do after La Fountain and I are gone from earth. A
minute ago it had been, “She must go directly.” The more opposition to
her departure, the more inexorable the necessity for her going;
opposition withdrawn, and the door open, she stayed no end.

Full twenty minutes did that young lady stand there unsolicited, and
chat with David Dodd in the kindest, sweetest, most amicable way
imaginable.


She little knew she had an auditor--a female auditor, keen as a lynx.

All this day Reginald George Bazalgette, Esq., might have been defined
“a pest in search of a playmate.” Tom had got a holiday. Lucy only
came out of her workshop to be seized by Mr. Fountain. David, who was
waiting in the garden for Lucy, begged Reginald to excuse him for
once. The young gentleman had recourse as a _pis aller_ to his
mamma. He invaded her bedroom, and besought her piteously to play at
battledoor. That lady, sighing deeply at being taken from her dress,
consented. Her soul not being in it, she played very badly. Her cub
did not fail to tell her so. “Why, I can keep up a hundred with Mr.
Dodd,” said he.

“Oh, we all know Mr. Dodd is perfection,” said the lady with a sneer.
She was piqued with David. He had gone and left her in a brutal way,
to make his apologies to Lucy.

“No, he is not,” said Reginald. “I have found him out. He is as unjust
as the rest of them.”

“Dear me! and, pray, what has he done?”

“I will tell you, mamma, if you will promise not to tell papa, because
he told me not to listen, and I didn’t listen, mamma, because, you
know, a gentleman always keeps his word; but they talked so loud the
words would come into my ear; I could not keep them out. Mamma, are
there any naughty ladies here?”

“No, my dear.”

“Then what did papa mean, warning Mr. Dodd against one?”

Mrs. Bazalgette began to listen as he wished.

“Oh, he called her all the names. He said she was a statue of
flirtation.”

“Who? Lucy?”

“Lucy? no! the naughty lady--the one that had twelve husbands. He kept
warning him, and warning him, and then Mr. Dodd and papa they began to
quarrel almost, because Mr. Dodd said the naughty lady was quite
young, and papa said she was ever so old. Mr. Dodd said she was
twenty-one. But papa told him she must be more than that, because she
had a child that would be fifteen years old; only it died. How old
would sister Emily be if she was alive, mamma? La, mamma, how pretty
you are: you have got red cheeks like Lucy--redder, oh, ever so much
redder--and in general they are so pale before dinner. Let me kiss
you, mamma. I do love the ladies when their cheeks are red.”

“There! there! now go on, dear; tell me some more.”

“It is very interesting, isn’t it, dear mamma?”

“It is amusing, at all events.”

“No, it is not amusing--at least, what came after, isn’t: it is
wicked, it is unjust, it is abominable.”

“Tell me, dear.”

“It turned out it wasn’t the naughty lady Mr. Dodd was in love for,
and who do you think he is in love of?”

“I have not an idea.”

“MY LUCY!!!”

“Nonsense, child.”

“No, no, mamma, it is not. He owned it plump.”

“Are you quite sure, love?”

“Upon my honor.”

“What did they say next?”

“Oh, next papa began to talk his fine words that I don’t know what the
meaning of them is one bit. But Mr. Dodd, he could make them out, I
suppose, for he said, ‘So, then, the upshot is--’ There, now, what is
upshot? I don’t know. How stupid grown-up people are; they keep using
words that one doesn’t know the meaning of.”

“Never mind, love! tell me. What came _after_ upshot?” said Mrs.
Bazalgette, soothingly, with great apparent calmness and flashing eye.

“How kind you are to-day, mamma! That is twice you have called me
love, and three times dear; only think. I should love you if you were
always so kind, and your cheeks as red as they are now.”

“Never mind my cheeks. What did Mr. Dodd say? Try and
remember--come--‘The upshot was--’”

“The upshot was--what was the upshot? I forget. No, I remember; the
upshot was, if Lucy said ‘yes,’ papa would not say ‘no;’ that meant to
marry him. Now didn’t you promise me her ever so long ago--the day you
and I agreed if I went a whole day without being naughty once I should
have her for ever and ever? and I did go.”

“Go to Lucy’s room, and tell her to come to me,” said Mrs. Bazalgette,
in a stern, thoughtful voice, which startled poor Reginald, coming so
soon after the _calinerie._ However, he told her it was no use
his going to Lucy’s room, for she was out in the garden; he had seen
her there walking with Mr. Fountain. Reginald then ran to the window
which commanded the garden, to look for Lucy. He had scarcely reached
it when he began to squeak wildly, “Come here! come here! come here!”
 Mrs. Bazalgette was at the window in a moment, and lo! at the end of
the garden, walking slowly side by side, were Lucy and Mr. Dodd.

Ridiculous as it may appear, a pang of jealousy shot through the
married flirt’s heart that made her almost feel sick. This was
followed at the interval of half a second by as pretty a flame of
hatred as ever the _spretoe injuria formoe_ lighted up in a
coquette’s heart. Doubt drove in its smaller sting besides, and at
sight of the couple she resolved to have better evidence than
Reginald’s, especially as to Lucy’s sentiments. The plan she hit upon
was effective, but vulgar, and must not be witnessed by a boy of
inconvenient memory and mistimed fluency. She got rid of him with
high-principled dexterity. “Reginald,” said she, sadly, “you are a
naughty boy, a disobedient boy, to listen when your papa told you not,
and to tell me a pack of falsehoods. I must either tell your papa, or
I must punish you myself; I prefer to do it myself, he would whip you
so”; with this she suddenly opened her dressing-room door, and pushed
the terrible infant in, and locked the door. She then told him through
the keyhole he had better cease yelling, because, if he kept quiet,
his punishment would only last half an hour, and she flew downstairs.
There was a large hot-house with two doors, one of which came very
near to the house door that opened into the garden. Mrs. Bazalgette
entered the hothouse at the other end, and, hidden by the exotic trees
and flowers, made rapidly for the door Lucy and David must pass. She
found it wide open. She half shut it, and slipped behind it, listening
like a hare and spying like a hawk through the hinges. And, strange as
it may appear, she had an idea she should make a discovery. As the
finished sportsman watches a narrow ride in the wood, not despairing
by a snap-shot to bag his hare as she crosses it, though seen but for
a moment, so the Bazalgette felt sure that, as the couple passed her
ambush, something, either in the two sentences they might utter, or,
more probably, in their tones and general manner, would reveal to one
of her experience on what footing they were.

A shrewd calculation! But things will be things. They take such turns,
I might without exaggeration say twists, that calculation is baffled,
and prophecy dissolved into pitch and toss. This thing turned just as
not expected. _Primo,_ instead of getting only a snap-shot, Mrs.
Bazalgette heard every word of a long conversation; and,
_secundo,_ when she had heard it she could not tell for certain
on what footing the lady and gentleman were. At first, from their
familiarity, she inclined to think they were lovers; but, the more she
listened, the more doubtful she seemed. Lucy was the chief speaker,
and what she said showed an undisguised interest in her companion; but
the subject accounted in great measure for that; she was talking of
his approaching voyage, of the dangers and hardships of his
profession, and of his return two years hence, his chances of
promotion, etc. But here was no proof positive of love; they were
acquaintances of some standing. Then Lucy’s manner struck her as
rather amicable than amorous. She was calm, kind, self-possessed, and
almost voluble. As for David, he only got in a word here and there.
When he did, there was something so different in his voice from
anything he had ever bestowed on _her,_ that she hated him, and
longed to stick scissors into him from the rear, unseen. At last Lucy
suddenly recollected, or seemed to recollect, she was busy, and
retired hastily--so hastily that David saw too late his opportunity
lost. But the music of her voice had so charmed him that he did not
like to interrupt it even to speak of that which was nearest his
heart. David sighed deeply, standing there alone.

Mrs. Bazalgette clinched her little fists and looked round for the
means of vengeance. David went down on his knees. La Bazalgette glared
through the crack, and wondered what on earth he was at now. Oh! he
was praying. “He loves her: he is eccentricity itself; so he is
praying for her, and on _my_ doorsteps” (the householder wounded
as well as the flirt). It was lucky she had not “a thunderbolt in her
eye”--Shakespeare, or a celestial messenger of the wrong sort would
have descended on the devout mariner. It was more than Mrs. Bazalgette
could bear: she had now and then, not often, unladylike impulses. One
of them had set her crouching behind the door of an outhouse, and
listening through a crack; and now she had another, an irresistible
one: it was, to take that empty flower-pot, fling it as hard as ever
she could at the devotee, then shut the door quick, fly out at the
other door, and leave her faithless swain in the agony of knowing
himself detected and exposed by some unknown and undiscoverable enemy.

For a vengeance extemporized in less than half a second this was very
respectable. Well, she clawed the flower-pot noiselessly, put her
other hand on the door, cast a hasty glance at the means of retreat,
and--things took another twist: she heard the rustle of a coming gown,
and drew back again, and out came Lucy, and nearly ran over David, who
was not on his knees after all, but down on his nose, prostrate
Orientally. The fact is, Lucy, among her other qualities, good and
bad, was a born housewife, and solicitously careful of certain odds
and ends called property. She found she had dropped one of her gloves
in the garden, and she came back in a state of disproportionate
uneasiness to find it, and nearly ran over David Dodd.

“What _are_ you doing, Mr. Dodd?”

David arose from his Oriental position, and, being a young man whose
impulse always was to tell the simple truth, replied, “I was kissing
the place where you stood so long.”

He did not feel he had done anything extraordinary, so he gave her
this information composedly; but her face was scarlet in an instant;
and he, seeing that, began to blush too. For once Lucy’s tact was
baffled; she did not know what on earth to say, and she stood blushing
like a girl of fifteen.


Then she tried to turn it off.

“Mr. Dodd, how can you be so ridiculous?” said she, affecting humorous
disdain.

But David was not to be put down now; he was launched.

“I am not ridiculous for loving and worshiping you, for you are worthy
of even more love than any human heart can hold.”

“Oh, hush, Mr. Dodd. I must not hear this.”

“Miss Lucy, I can’t keep it any longer--you must, you shall hear me.
You can despise my love if you will, but you _shall_ know it
before you reject it.”

“Mr. Dodd, you have every right to be heard, but let me persuade you
not to insist. Oh, why did I come back?”

“The first moment I saw you, Miss Lucy, it was a new life to me. I
never looked twice at any girl before. It is not your beauty only--oh,
no! it is your goodness--goodness such as I never thought was to be
found on earth. Don’t turn your head from me; I know my defects; could
I look on you and not see them? My manners are blunt and rude--oh, how
different from yours! but you could soon make me a fine gentleman, I
love you so. And I am only the first mate of an Indiaman; but I should
be a captain next voyage, Miss Lucy, and a sailor like me has no
expenses; all he has is his wife’s. The first lady in the land will
not be petted as you will, if you will look kindly on me. Listen to
me,” trying to tempt her. “No, Miss Lucy, I have nothing to offer you
worth your acceptance, only my love. No man ever loved woman as I love
you; it is not love, it is worship, it is adoration! Ah! she is going
to speak to me at last!”

Lucy presented at this moment a strange contrast of calmness and
agitation. Her bosom heaved quickly, and she was pale, but her voice
was calm, and, though gentle, decided.

“I know you love me, Mr. Dodd, and I feared this. I have tried to save
you the mortification of being declined by one who, in many things, is
your inferior. I have even been rude and unkind to you. Forgive me for
it. I meant it kindly. I regret it now. Mr. Dodd, I thank you for the
honor you do me, but I cannot accept your love.” There was a pause,
but David’s tongue seemed glued to the roof of his mouth. He was not
surprised, yet he was stupefied when the blow came.

At last he gasped out, “You love some other man?”

Lucy was silent.

“Answer me, for pity’s sake; give me something to help me.”

“You have no right to ask me such a question, but--I have no
attachment, Mr. Dodd.”

“Ah! then one word more. Is it because you cannot love me, or because
I am poor, and only first mate of an Indiaman?”

“_That_ I will not answer. You have no right to question a lady
why she--Stay! you wish to despise me. Well, why not, if that will
cure you of this unfortunate--Think what you please of me, Mr. Dodd,”
 murmured Lucy, sadly.

“Ah! you know I can’t,” cried David, despairingly.

“I know that you esteem me more than I deserve. Well, I esteem you,
Mr. Dodd. Why, then, can we not be friends? You have only to promise
me you will never return to this subject--come!”

“Me promise not to love you! What is the use? Me be your friend, and
nothing more, and stand looking on at the heaven that is to be
another’s, and never to be mine? It is my turn to decline. Never.
Betrothed lovers or strangers, but nothing between! It would drive me
mad. Away from you, and out of sight of your sweet face, I may make
shift to live, and go through my duty somehow, for my mother’s and
sister’s sake.”

“You are wiser than I was, Mr. Dodd. Yes, we must part.”

“Of course we must. I have got my answer, and a kinder one than I
deserve; and now what is the polite thing for me to do, I wonder?”
 David said this with terrible bitterness.

“You frighten me,” sighed Lucy.

“Don’t you be frightened, sweet angel; there! I have been used to obey
orders all my life, and I am like a ship tossed in the breakers, and
you are calm--calm as death. Give me my orders, for God’s sake.”

“It is not for me to command you, Mr. Dodd. I have forfeited that
right. But listen to her who still asks to be your friend, and she
will tell you what will be best for you, and kindest and most generous
to her.”

“Tell me about that last; the other is a waste of words.”

“I will, then. Your sister is somewhere in the neighborhood.”

“She is at ----; how did you know?”

“I saw her on your arm. I am glad she is so near--Oh, so glad! Bid my
uncle and aunt good-by; make some excuse. Go to your sister at once.
_She_ loves you. She is better than I am, if you will but see us
as we really are. Go to her at once,” faltered Lucy, who disliked Eve,
and Eve her.

“I will! I will! I have thought too little of my own flesh and blood.
Shall I go now?”

“Yes,” murmured Lucy softly, trying to disarm the fatal word. “Forget
me--and--forgive me!” and, with this last word scarce audible, she
averted her face, and held out her hand with angelic dignity, modesty
and pity.

The kind words and the gentle action brought down the stout heart that
had looked death in the face so often without flinching. “Forgive you,
sweet angel!” he cried; “I pray Heaven to bless you, and to make you
as happy as I am desolate for your sake. Oh, you show me more and more
what I lose this day. God bless you! God bless--” and David’s heart
filled to choking, and he burst out sobbing despairingly, and the hot
tears ran suddenly from his eyes over her hand as he kissed and kissed
it. Then, with an almost savage feeling of shame (for these were not
eyes that were wont to weep), he uttered one cry of despair and ran
away, leaving her pale and panting heavily.

She looked piteously at her hand, wet with a hero’s tears, and for the
second time to-day her own began to gush. She felt a need of being
alone. She wanted to think on what she had done. She would hide in the
garden. She ran down the steps; lo! there was Mr. Hardie coming up the
gravel-walk. She uttered a little cry of impatience, and dashed
impetuously into the hot-house, driving the half-open door before her
with her person as well as her arm.

A scream of terror and pain issued from behind it, with a crash of
pottery.

Lucy wheeled round at the sound, and there was her aunt, flattened
against the flower-frame.

Lucy stood transfixed.

But soon her look of surprise gave way to a frown; ay! and a somber
one.



CHAPTER XVI.

THAT ready-minded lady extricated herself from the pots, and wriggled
out of the moral situation. “I was a listener, dear! an unwilling
listener; but now I do not regret it. How nobly you behaved!” and with
this she came at her with open arms, crying, “My own dear niece.”

Her own dear niece recoiled with a shiver, and put up both her hands
as a shield.

“Oh, don’t touch me, please. I never heard of a lady listening!!!!”

She then turned her back on her aunt in a somewhat uncourtier-like
manner, and darted out of the place, every fiber of her frame strung
up tight with excitement. She felt she was not the calm, dispassionate
being of yesterday, and hurried to her own room and locked herself in.

Mrs. Bazalgette remained behind in a state of bitter mortification,
and breathing fury on her small scale. But what could she do? David
would be out of her reach in a few minutes, and Lucy was scarce
vulnerable.

In the absence of any definite spite, she thought she could not go
wrong in thwarting whatever Lucy wished, and her wish had been that
David should go. Besides, if she kept him in the house, who knows, she
might pique him with Lucy, and even yet turn him her way; so she lay
in wait for him in the hall. He soon appeared with his bag in his
hand. She inquired, with great simplicity, where he was going. He told
her he was going away. She remonstrated, first tenderly, then almost
angrily. “We all counted on you to play the violin. We can’t dance to
the piano alone.”

“I am very sorry, but I have got my orders.” Then this subtle lady
said, carelessly, “Lucy will be _au desespoir._ She will get no
dancing. She said to me just now, ‘Aunt, do try and persuade Mr. Dodd
to stay over the ball. We shall miss him so.’”

“When did she say that?”

“Just this minute. Standing at the door there.”

“Very well; then I’ll stay over the ball.” And without a word more he
carried his bag and violin-case up to his room again. Oh, how La
Bazalgette hated him! She now resigned all hope of fighting with him,
and contented herself with the pleasure of watching him and Lucy
together. One would be wretched, and the other must be uncomfortable.

Lucy did not come down to dinner; she was lying down with headache.
She even sent a message to Mrs. Bazalgette to know whether she could
be dispensed with at the ball. Answer, “Impossible!” At half-past
eight she got up, put on her costume, took it off again, and dressed
in white watered silk. Her assumption of a character was confined to
wearing a little crown rising to a peak in front. Many of the guests
had arrived when she glided into the room looking every inch a queen.
David was dazzled at her, and awestruck at her beauty and mien, and at
his own presumption.

Her eye fell on him. She gave a little start, but passed on without a
word. The carpets had been taken up, and the dancing began.

Mrs. Bazalgette arranged that Lucy and David should play pianoforte
and violin until some lady could be found to take her part.

I incline to think Mrs. Bazalgette, spiteful as mortified vanity is
apt to be, did not know the depth of anguish her subtle vengeance
inflicted on David Dodd.

He was pale and stern with the bitter struggle for composure. He
ground his teeth, fixed his eyes on the music-book, and plowed the
merry tunes as the fainting ox plows the furrow. He dared not look at
Lucy, nor did he speak to her more than was necessary for what they
were doing, nor she to him. She was vexed with him for subjecting
himself and her to unnecessary pain, and in the eye of society--her
divinity.

Another unhappy one was Mr. Fountain. He sat disconsolate on a seat
all alone. Mrs. Bazalgette fluttered about like a butterfly, and
sparkled like a Chinese firework.

Two young ladies, sisters, went to the piano to give Miss Fountain an
opportunity of dancing. She danced quadrilles with four or five
gentlemen, including her special admirers. She declined to waltz: “I
have a little headache; nothing to speak of.”

She then sat down to the piano again. “I can play alone, Mr. Dodd; you
have not danced at all.”

“I am not in the humor.”

“Very well.”

This time they played some of the tunes they had rehearsed together
that happy evening, and David’s lip quivered.

Lucy eyed him unobserved.

“Was this wise--to subject yourself to this?”

“I must obey orders, whatever it costs me--‘ri tum ti tum ti tum ti
tum.’”

“Who ordered you to neglect my advice?--‘ri tum tum tum.’”

_“You_ did--‘ri tum ti tum tiddy iddy.’”

A look of silent disdain: “Ri tum, ti tum, tiddy iddy.” (Ah! perdona
for relating things as they happen, and not as your grand writers
pretend they happen.)

Between the quadrilles she asked an explanation.

“Your aunt met me with my bag in my hand, and told me you wanted me to
play to the company.”

When he said this, David heard a sound like the click of a trigger. He
looked up; it was Lucy clinching her teeth convulsively. But time was
up: the woman of the world must go on like the prizefighter. The
couples were waiting.

“Ri tum ti tum ti tum ti tum tiddy iddy.” For all that, she did not
finish the tune. In the middle of it she said to David, “‘Ri tum ti
tum--’ can you get through this without me?--‘ri tum.’”

“If I can get through life without you, I can surely get through this
twaddle: ‘ri tum ti tum ti tum ti tum tiddy iddy.’” Lucy started from
her seat, leaving David plowing solo. She started from her seat and
stood a moment, looking like an angel stung by vipers. Her eye went
all round the room in one moment in search of some one to blight. It
surprised Mr. Hardie and Mrs. Bazalgette sitting together and casting
ironical glances pianoward: “So she has been betraying to Mr. Hardie
the secret she gained by listening,” thought Lucy. The pair were
probably enjoying David’s mortification, his misery.

She walked very slowly down the room to this couple. She looked them
long and full in the face with that confronting yet overlooking glance
which women of the world can command on great occasions. It fell, and
pressed on them both like lead, they could not have told you why. They
looked at one another ruefully when she had passed them, and then
their eyes followed her. They saw her walk straight up to her uncle,
and sit down by him, and take his hand. They exchanged another uneasy
look.

“Uncle,” said Lucy, speaking very quickly, “you are unhappy. I am the
cause. I am come to say that I promise you not to marry anyone my aunt
shall propose to me.”

“My dear girl, then you won’t marry that shopkeeper there?”

“What need of names, still less of epithets? I will marry no friend of
hers.”

“Ah! now you are my brother’s daughter again.”

“No, I love you no better than I did this morning; but the--”

Celestial happiness diffused itself over old Fountain’s face, and Lucy
glided back to the piano just as the quadrille ended.

“Give me your arm, Mr. Dodd,” said she, authoritatively. She took his
arm, and made the tour of the room leaning on him, and chatting gayly.

She introduced him to the best people, and contrived to appear to the
whole room joyous and flattered, leaning on David’s arm.

The young fellows envied him so.

Every now and then David felt her noble white arm twitch convulsively,
and her fingers pinch the cloth of his sleeve where it was loose.

She guided him to the supper-room. It was empty. “Oblige me with a
glass of water.”

He gave it her. She drank it.

“Mr. Dodd, the advice I gave you with my own lips I never retracted.
My aunt imposed upon you. It was done to mortify you. It has failed,
as you may have observed. My head aches so, it is intolerable. When
they ask you where I am, say I am unwell, and have retired to my room.
I shall not be at breakfast; directly after breakfast go to your
sister, and tell her your friend Lucy declined you, though she knows
your value, and would not let you be mortified by nullities and
heartless fools. Good-by, Mr. Dodd; try and believe that none of us
you leave in this house are worth remembering, far less regretting.”

She vanished haughtily; David crept back to the ball-room. It seemed
dark by comparison now she who lent it luster was gone. He stayed a
few minutes, then heavy-hearted to bed.

The next morning he shook hands with Mr. Bazalgette, the only one who
was up, kissed the terrible infant, who, suddenly remembering his many
virtues, formally forgave him his one piece of injustice, and, as he
came, so he went away, his bag on his shoulder and his violin-case in
his hand.


He went to Cousin Mary and asked for Eve. Cousin Mary’s face turned
red: “You will find her at No. 80 in this street. She is gone into
lodgings.” The fact is, the cousins had had a tiff, and Eve had left
the house that moment.

Oh! my sweet, my beloved heroines--you young vipers, when will you
learn to be faultless, like other people? You have turned my face into
a peony, blushing for you at every fourth page.

David came into her apartment. He smiled sweetly, but sadly. “Well, it
is all over. I have offered, and been declined.”

At seeing him so quiet and resigned, Eve burst out crying.

“Don’t you cry, dear,” said David. “It is best so. It is almost a
relief. Anything before the suspense I was enduring.”

Then Eve, recovering her spirits by the help of anger, began to abuse
Lucy for a cold-hearted, deceitful girl; but David stopped her
sternly.

“Not a word against her--not a word. I should hate anyone that
miscalled her. She speaks well of you, Eve; why need you speak ill of
her? She and I parted friends, and friends let us be. There is no hate
can lie alongside love in a true heart. No, let nobody speak of her at
all to me. I shan’t; my thoughts, they are my own. ‘Go to your
sister,’ said she, and here I am; and I beg your pardon, Eve, for
neglecting you as I have of late.”

“Oh, never mind _that,_ David; _our_ affection will outlast
this folly many a long year.”

“Please God! Your hand in mine, Eve, my lamb, and let us talk of
ourselves and mother: the time is short.”

They sat hand in hand, and never mentioned Lucy’s name again; and,
strange to say, it was David who consoled Eve; for, now the battle was
lost, her spirit seemed to have all deserted her, and she kept
bursting out crying every now and then irrelevantly.

It was three in the afternoon. David was sitting by the window, and
Eve packing his chest in the same room, not to be out of his sight a
minute, when suddenly he started up and cried, “There she is,” and an
instinctive unreasonable joy illumined his face; the next moment his
countenance fell.

The carriage passed down the street.

“I remember now,” muttered David, “I heard she was to go sailing, and
Mr. Talboys was to be skipper of the boat. Ah! well.”

“Well, let them sail, David. It is not your business.”

“That it is not, Eve--nobody’s less than mine.

“Eve, there is plenty of wind blowing up from the nor’east.”

“Is there? I am afraid that will bring your ship down quick.”

“Yes; but it is not that. I am afraid that lubber won’t think of
looking to windward.”

“Nonsense about the wind; it is a beautiful day. Come, David, it is no
use lighting against nature. Put on your hat, then, and run down to
the beach, and see the last of her; only, for my sake, don’t let the
others see you, to jeer you.”

“No, no.”

“And mind and be back to dinner at four. I have got a nice roast fowl
for you.”

“Ay ay.”

A little before four o’clock a sailor brought a note from David,
written hastily in pencil. It was sent up to Eve. She read it, and
clasped her hands vehemently.

“Oh, David, she was born to be your destruction.”



CHAPTER XVII.

MR. FOUNTAIN, Miss Fountain, and Mr. Talboys started to go on the
boating expedition. As they were getting into the boat, Mr. Fountain
felt a little ill, and begged to be excused. Mr. Talboys offered to
return with him. He declined: “Have your little sail. I will wait at
the inn for you.”

This pantomime had, I blush to say, been arranged beforehand. Miss
Fountain, we may be sure, saw through it, but she gave no sign. A
lofty impassibility marked her demeanor, and she let them do just what
they liked with her.

The boat was launched, the foresail set, and Fountain remained on
shore in anything but a calm and happy state.

But friendships like these are not free from dross; and I must confess
that among the feelings which crossed his mind was a hope that Talboys
would pop, and be refused, as _he_ had been. Why should he,
Fountain, monopolize defeat? We should share all things with a friend.

Meantime, by one of those caprices to which her sex are said to be
peculiarly subject, Lucy seemed to have given up all intention of
carrying out her plan for getting rid of Mr. Talboys. Instead of
leading him on to his fate, she interposed a subtle but almost
impassable barrier between him and destruction; her manner and
deportment were of a nature to freeze declarations of love upon the
human lip. She leaned back languidly and imperially on the luxurious
cushions, and listlessly eyed the sky and the water, and ignored with
perfect impartiality all the living creatures in the boat.

Mr. Talboys endeavored in vain to draw her out of this languid mood.
He selected an interesting subject of conversation to--himself; he
told her of his feats yachting in the Mediterranean; he did not tell
her, though, that his yacht was sailed by the master and not by him,
her proprietor. In reply to all this Lucy dropped out languid
monosyllables.

At last Talboys got piqued and clapped on sail.

There had not been a breath of air until half an hour before they
started; but now a stiff breeze had sprung up; so they had smooth
water and yet plenty of wind, and the boat cut swiftly through-the
bubbling water.

“She walks well,” said the yachtsman.

Lucy smiled a gracious, though still rather too queenly assent. I
think the motion was pleasing her. Lively motion is very agreeable to
her sex.

“This is a very fast boat,” said Mr. Talboys. “I should like to try
her speed. What do you say, Miss Fountain?”

“With all my heart,” said Lucy, in a tone that expressed her utter
indifference.

“Here is this lateen-rigged boat creeping down on our quarter; we will
stand east till she runs down to us, and then we will run by her and
challenge her.” Accordingly Talboys stood east.

But he did not get his race; for, somewhat to his surprise, the
lateen-rigged boat, instead of holding her course, which was about
south-southwest, bore up directly and stood east, keeping about half a
mile to windward of Talboys.

This puzzled Talboys. “They are afraid to try it,” said he. “If they
are afraid of us sailing on a wind, they would not have much chance
with us in beating to windward. A lugger can lie two points nearer the
wind than a schooner.”

All this science was lost on Lucy. She lay back languid and listless.

Mr. Talboy’s crew consisted of a man and a boy. He steered the boat
himself. He ordered them to go about and sail due west. It was no
sooner done than, lo and behold, the schooner came about and sailed
west, keeping always half a mile to windward.

“That boat is following us, Miss Fountain.”

“What for?” inquired she; “is it my uncle coming after us?”

“No; I see no one aboard but a couple of fishermen.”

“They are not fishermen,” put in the boy; “they are
sailors--coastguard men, likely.”

“Besides,” said Mr. Talboys, “your uncle would run down to us at once,
but these keep waiting on us and dogging us. Confound their
impudence.”

“It is all fancy,” said Lucy; “run away as fast as you can that way,”
 and she pointed down the wind, “and you will see nobody will take the
trouble to run after us.”

“Hoist the mainsail,” cried Talboys.

They had hitherto been sailing under the foresail only. In another
minute they were running furiously before the wind with both sails
set. The boat yawed, and Lucy began to be nervous; still, the
increased rapidity of motion excited her agreeably. The
lateen-schooner, sailing under her fore-sail only, luffed directly and
stood on in the lugger’s wake. Lucy’s cheek burned, but she said
nothing.

“There,” cried Talboys, “now do you believe me? I think we gain on
her, though.”

“We are going three knots to her two, sir,” said the old man, “but it
is by her good will; that is the fastest boat in the town, sailing on
a wind; at beating to windward we could tackle her easy enough, but
not at running free. Ah! there goes her mainsel up; I thought she
would not be long before she gave us that.”

“Oh, how beautiful!” cried Lucy; “it is like a falcon or an eagle
sailing down on us; it seems all wings. Why don’t we spread wings too
and fly away?”

“You see, miss,” explained the boatman, “that schooner works her sails
different from us; going down wind she can carry her mainsel on one
side of the craft and her foresel on the other. By that she keeps on
an even keel, and, what is more, her mainsel does not take the wind
out of her foresel. Bless you, that little schooner would run past the
fastest frigate in the king’s service with the wind dead aft as we
have got it now; she is coming up with us hand over head, and as stiff
on her keel as a rock; this is her point of sailing, beating to
windward is ours. Why, if they ain’t reefing the foresel, to make the
race even; and there go three reefs into her mainsel too.” The old
boatman scratched his head.

“Who is aboard her, Dick? they are strangers to me.”

By taking in so many reefs the lateen had lowered her rate of sailing,
and she now followed in their wake, keeping a quarter of a mile to
windward.

Talboys lost all patience. “Who is it, I wonder, that has the
insolence to dog us so?” and he looked keenly at Miss Fountain.

She did not think herself bound to reply, and gazed with a superior
air of indifference on the sky and the water.

“I will soon know,” said Talboys.

“What does it matter?” inquired Lucy. “Probably somebody who is
wasting his time as we are.”

“The road we are on is as free to him as to us,” suggested the old
boatman, with a fine sense of natural justice. He added, “But if you
will take my advice, sir, you will shorten sail, and put her about for
home. It is blowing half a gale of wind, and the sea will be getting
up, and that won’t be agreeable for the young lady.”

“Gale of wind? Nonsense,” said Talboys; “it is a fine breeze.”

“Oh, thank you, sir,” said Lucy to the old man; “I love the sea, but I
should not like to be out in a storm.”

The old boatman grinned. “‘Storm is a word that an old salt reserves
for one of those hurricanes that blow a field of turnips flat, and
teeth down your throat. You can turn round and lean your back against
it like a post; and a carrion-crow making for the next parish gets
fanned into another county. That is a storm.”

The old boatman went forward grinning, and he and his boy lowered the
mainsail. Then Talboys at the helm brought the boat’s head round to
the wind. She came down to her bearings directly, which is as much as
to say that to Lucy she seemed to be upsetting.

Lucy gave a little scream. The sail, too, made a report like the crack
of a pistol.

“Oh, what is that?” cried Lucy.

“Wind, mum,” replied the boatman, composedly.

“What is that purple line on the water, sir, out there, a long way
beyond the other boat?

“Wind, mum.”

“It seems to move. It is coming this way.”

“Ay, mum, that is a thing that always makes to leeward,” said the old
fellow, grinning. “I’ll take in a couple of reefs before it comes to
us.”

Meantime, the moment the lugger lowered her mainsail, the schooner,
divining, as it appeared, her intention, did the same, and luffed
immediately, and was on the new tack first of the two.

“Ay, my lass,” said the old boatman, “you are smartly handled, no
doubt, but your square stern and your try-hanglar sail they will take
you to leeward of us pretty soon, do what you can.”

The event seemed to justify this assertion; the little lugger was on
her best point of sailing, and in about ten minutes the distance
between the two boats was slightly but sensibly diminished. The
lateen, no doubt, observed this, for she began to play the game of
short tacks, and hoisted her mainsail, and carried on till she seemed
to sail on her beam-ends, to make up, as far as possible, by speed and
smartness for what she lost by rig in beating to windward.

“They go about quicker than we do,” said Talboys.

“Of course they do; they have not got to dip their sail, as we have,
every time we tack.”

This was the true solution, but Mr. Talboys did not accept it.

“We are not so smart as we ought to be. Now you go to the helm, and I
and the boy will dip the lug.”

The old boatman took the helm as requested, and gave the word of
command to Mr. Talboys. “Stand _by_ the foretack.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Talboys, “here I am.”

“Let _go_ the fore-tack”; and, contemporaneously with the order,
he brought the boat’s head round.

Now this operation is always a nice one, particularly in these small
luggers, where the lug has to be dipped, that is to say, lowered, and
raised again on the opposite side of the mast; for the lug should not
be lowered a moment too soon, or the boat, losing her way, would not
come round; nor a moment too late, lest the sail, owing to the new
position the boat is taking under the influence of the rudder, should
receive the wind while between the wind and the mast, and so the craft
be taken aback, than which nothing can well happen more disastrous.

Mr. Talboys, though not the accomplished sailor he thought himself,
knew this as well as anybody, and with the boy’s help he lowered the
sail at the right moment; but, getting his head awkwardly in the way,
the yard, in coming down, hit him on the nose and nearly knocked him
on to his beam-ends. It would have been better if it had done so quite
instead of bounding off his nose on to his shoulder and there resting;
for, as it was, the descent of the sail being thus arrested half-way
at the critical moment, and the boat’s head coming round all the same,
a gust of wind caught the sail and wrapped it tight round the mast to
windward. The boy uttered a cry of terror so significant that Lucy
trembled all over, and by an uncontrollable impulse leaned
despairingly back and waved her white handkerchief toward the
antagonist boat. The old boatman with an oath darted forward with an
agility he could not have shown ashore.

The effect on the craft was alarming. If the whole sail had been thus
taken aback, she would have gone down like lead; for, as it was, she
was driven on her side and at the same time driven back by the stern;
the whole sea seemed to rise an inch above her gunwale; the water
poured into her at every drive the gusts of wind gave her, and the
only wonder seemed why the waves did not run clean over her.

In vain the old boatman, cursing and swearing, tugged at the canvas to
free it from the mast. It was wrapped round it like Dejanira’s shirt,
and with as fatal an effect; the boat was filling; and as this brought
her lower in the water, and robbed her of much of her buoyancy, and as
the fatal cause continued immovable, her destruction was certain.

Every cheek was blanched with fear but Lucy’s, and hers was red as
fire ever since she waved her handkerchief; so powerful is modesty
with her sex. A true virgin can blush in death’s very grasp.

In the midst of this agitation and terror, suddenly the boat was
hailed. They all looked up, and there was the lateen coming tearing
down on them under all her canvas, both her broad sails spread out to
the full, one on each side. She seemed all monstrous wing. The lugger
being now nearly head to wind, she came flying down on her weather bow
as if to run past her, then, lowering her foresail, made a broad
sweep, and brought up suddenly between the lugger and the wind. As her
foresail fell, a sailor bounded over it on to the forecastle, and
stood there with one foot on the gunwale, active as Mercury, eye
glowing, and a rope in his hand.

“Stand by to lower your mast,” roared this sailor in a voice of
thunder to the boatman of the lugger; and the moment the schooner came
up into the wind athwart the lugger’s bows he bounded over ten feet of
water into her, and with a turn of the hand made the rope fast to her
thwart, then hauling upon it, brought her alongside with her head
literally under the schooner’s wing.

He and the old boatman then instantly unstepped the mast and laid it
down in the boat, sail and all. It was not his great strength that
enabled them to do this (a dozen of him could not have done it while
the wind pressed on the mast); it was his address in taking all the
wind out of the lug by means of the schooner’s mainsail. The old man
never said a word till the work was done; then he remarked, “That was
clever of you.”

The new-comer took no notice whatever. “Reef that sail, Jack,” he
cried; “it will be in the lady’s face by and by; and heave your bailer
in here; their boat is full of water.”

“Not so full as it would if you hadn’t brought up alongside,” said the
old boatman.

“Do you want to frighten the lady?” replied the sailor, in his driest
and least courtier-like way.

“I am not frightened, Mr. Dodd,” said Lucy. “I was, but I am not now.”

“Come and help me get the water out of her, Jack. Stay! Miss Fountain
had better step into the dry boat, meantime. Now, Jack, look alive;
lash her longside aft.”

This done, the two sailors, one standing on the lugger’s gunwale, one
on the schooner’s, handed Miss Fountain into the schooner, and gave
her the cushions of the lugger to sit upon. They then went to work
with a will, and bailed half a ton of water out.

When she was dry David jumped back into his own boat. “Now, Miss
Fountain, your boat is dry, but the sea is getting up, and I think, if
I were you, I would stay where you are.”

“I mean to,” said the lady, calmly. “Mr. Talboys, _would_ you
mind coming into this boat? We shall be safer here; it--it is larger.”

The gentleman thus addressed was embarrassed between two
mortifications, one on each side him. If he came into David’s boat he
would be second fiddle, he who had gone out of port first fiddle. If
he stuck to the lugger Lucy would go off with Dodd, and he would look
like a fool coming ashore without her. He hesitated.

David got impatient. “Come, sir,” he cried, “don’t you hear the lady
invite you? and every moment is precious.” And he held out his hand to
him.

Talboys decided on taking it, and he even unbent so far as to jump
vigorously--so vigorously that, David pulling him with force at the
same moment, he came flying into the schooner like a cannon-ball, and,
toppling over on his heels, went down on the seat with his head
resting on the weather gunwale, and his legs at a right angle with his
back.

“That is one way of boarding a craft,” muttered David, a little
discontentedly; then to the old boatman: “Here, fling us that
tarpaulin. I say, here is more wind coming; are you sure you can work
that lugger, you two?”

“We will be ashore before you can, now there’s nobody to bother us,”
 was the prompt reply.

“Then cast loose; here we are, drifting out to sea.”

The old man cast the rope loose; David hauled it on board, and the
schooner shot away from her companion and bore up north-north-west,
leaving the luggar rocking from side to side on the rising waves. But
the next minute Lucy saw her sail rise, and she bore up and stood
northeast.

“Good-by to you, little horror,” said Lucy.

“We shall fall in with her a good many times more before we make the
land,” said David Dodd.

Lucy inquired what he meant; but he had fallen to hauling the sheet
aft and making the sail stand flatter, and did not answer her. Indeed,
he seemed much more taken up with Jack than with her, and, above all,
entirely absorbed in the business of sailing the boat.

She was a little mortified at this behavior, and held her tongue.
Talboys was sulky, and held his. It was a curious situation. In the
hurry and bustle, none of the parties had realized it; but now, as the
boat breasted the waves, and all was silent on board, they had time to
review their position.

Talboys grew gloomier and gloomier at the poor figure he cut. Lucy
kept blushing at intervals as she reflected on the obligation she had
laid herself under to a rejected lover. The rejected lover alone
seemed to mind his business and nothing else; and, as he was almost
ludicrously unconscious that he was doing a chivalrous action, a
misfortune to which those who do these things are singularly liable,
he did not gild the transaction with a single graceful speech, and
permitted himself to be more occupied with the sails than with rescued
beauty.

Succeeding events, however, explained, and in some degree excused,
this commonplace behavior.

The next time they tacked some spray came flying in, and wetted all
hands. Lucy laughed. The lugger had also tacked, and the two boats
were now standing toward each other; when they met the lugger had
weathered on them some sixty or seventy yards.

A furious rain now came on almost horizontally, and the sailors
arranged the tarpaulin so as to protect Mr. Talboys and Miss Fountain.

“But you will be wet through yourself, Mr. Dodd. Will you not come
under shelter too?”

“And who is to sail the boat?” He added, “I am glad to see the rain. I
hope it will still the wind; if it doesn’t, we shall have to try
something else, that is all.”

“Pray, when do you undertake to land us, Mr. Dodd?” inquired Mr.
Talboys, superciliously.

“Well, sir, if it does not blow any harder, about eight bells.”

“Eight bells? Why, that means midnight,” exclaimed Talboys.

“Wind and tide both dead against us,” replied David, coolly.

“Oh, Mr. Dodd, tell me the truth: is there any danger?”

“Danger? Not that I see; but it is very uncomfortable, and unbecoming,
for you to be beating to windward against the tide for so many hours,
when you ought to be sitting on the sofa at home. However, next time
you run out of port, I hope those that take charge of you will look to
the almanac for the tide, and look to windward for the weather: Jack,
the lugger lies nearer the wind than we do.

“A little, sir.”

“Will you take the helm a minute, Mr. Talboys? and _you_ come
forward and unbend this.” The two sailors put their heads together
amidships, and spoke in an undertone. “The wind is rising with the
rain instead of falling.”

“‘Seems so, sir.”

“What do you think yourself?”

“Well, sir, it has been blowing harder and harder ever since we came
out, and very steady.”

“It will turn out one of those dry nor’easters, Jack.”

“I shouldn’t wonder, sir. I wish she was cutter-rigged, sir. A boat
has no business to be any other rig but cutter; there ought to be a
nact o’ parliam’t against these outlandish rigs.”

“I don’t know; I have seen wonders done with this lateen rig in the
Pacific.”

“The lugger forereaches on us, sir.”

“A little, but, for all that, I am glad she is on board our craft; we
have got more beam, and, if it comes to the worst, we can run. The
lugger can’t with her sharp stern. I’ll go to the helm.”

Just as David was stepping aft to take the helm, a wave struck the
boat hard on the weather bow, close to the gunwale, and sent a bucket
of salt water flying all over him; he never turned his head even--took
no more notice of it than a rock does when the sea spits at it. Lucy
shrieked and crouched behind the tarpaulin. David took the helm, and,
seeing Talboys white, said kindly: “Why don’t you go forward, sir, and
make yourself snug under the folksel deck? she is sure to wet us abaft
before we can make the land.”

No. Talboys resisted his inclination and the deadly nausea that was
creeping over him.

“Thank you, but I like to see what is going on; and” (with an heroic
attempt at sea-slang) “I like a wet boat.”

They now fell in with the lugger again lying on the opposite tack, and
a hundred yards at least to windward.

Just before they crossed her wake David sang out to Jack:

“Our masts--are they sound?”

“Bran-new, sir; best Norway pine.”

“What d’ye think?”

“Think we are wasting time and daylight.”

“Then stand _by_ the main sheet.”

“Yes, sir.”

_“Slack_ the main sheet.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

The boat instantly fell off into the wind, and, as she went round,
David stood up in the stern-sheets and waved his cap to the men on
board the lugger, who were watching him. The old man was seen to shake
his head in answer to the signal, and point to his lug-sail standing
flat as a board, and the next moment they parted company, and the
lateen was running close-reefed before the wind.

Mr. Talboys was sitting collapsed in the lethargy that precedes
seasickness. He started up. “What are you doing?” he shrieked.

“Keep quiet, sir, and don’t bother,” said David, with calm sternness,
and in his deepest tones.

“Pray don’t interfere with Mr. Dodd,” said Lucy; “he must know best.”

“You don’t see what he is doing, then,” cried Talboys, wildly; “the
madman is taking us out to sea.”

“Are you taking us out to sea, Mr. Dodd?” inquired Lucy, with dismay.

“I am doing according to my judgment of tide and wind, and the
abilities of the craft I am sailing,” said David, firmly; “and on
board my own craft I am skipper, and skipper I will be. Go forward,
sir, if you please, and don’t speak except to obey orders.”

Mr. Talboys, sick, despondent and sulky, went gloomily forward, coiled
himself up under the forecastle deck, and was silent and motionless.

“Don’t send me,” cried Lucy, “for I will not go. Nothing but your eye
keeps up my courage. I don’t mind the water,” added she, hastily and a
little timidly, anxious to meet every reason that could be urged for
imprisoning her in the forecastle hold.

“You are all right where you are, miss,” said Jack, cheerfully; “we
shan’t have no more spray come aboard us; it won’t come in by the can
full if it doesn’t come by the ton.”

“Will you belay your jaw?” roared David, in a fury that Lucy did not
comprehend at the time. “What a set of tarnation babblers in one
little boat.”

“I won’t speak any more, Mr. Dodd; I won’t speak.”

“Bless your heart, it isn’t you I meant. ‘Twould be hard if a lady
might not put her word in. But a man is different. I do love to see a
man belay his jaw, and wait for orders, and then do his duty; hoist
the mainsel, you!”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“Shake out a couple of reefs.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

And the lateen spread both her great wings like an albatross, and
leaped and plunged, and flew before the mighty gale.



CHAPTER XVIII.

“THIS is nice. The boat does not upset or tumble as it did. It only
courtesies and plunges. I like it.”

“The sea has not got up yet, miss,” said Jack.

“Hasn’t it? the waves seem very large.”

“Lord love you, wait till we have had four or five hours more of
this.”

“Belay your jaw, Jack.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“Why so, Mr. Dodd?” objected Lucy gently. “I am not so weak as you
think me. Do not keep the truth from me. I share the danger; let me
share the sense of danger, too. You shall not blush for me.”

“Danger? There is not a grain of it, unless we make danger by
inattention--and babbling.”

“You will not do that,” said Lucy.

Equivoque missed fire.

“Not while you are on board,” replied David, simply.

Lucy felt inclined to give him her hand. She had it out half-way; but
he had lately asked her to marry him, so she drew it back, and her
eyes rested on the bottom of the boat.

The wind rose higher. The masts bent so that each sail had every
possible reef taken in. Her canvas thus reduced she scudded as fast as
before, such was now the fury of the gale. The sea rose so that the
boat seemed to mount with each wave as high as the second story of a
house, and go down again to the cellar at every plunge. Talboys,
prostrated by seasickness in the forehold, lay curled but motionless,
like a crooked log, and almost as indifferent to life or death. Lucy,
pale but firm, put no more questions that she felt would not be
answered, but scanned David Dodd’s face furtively yet closely. The
result was encouraging to her. His cheek was not pale, as she felt her
own. On the contrary, it was slightly flushed; his eye bright and
watchful, but lion-like. He gave a word or two of command to Jack
every now and then very sharply, but without the slightest shade of
agitation, and Jack’s “ay, ay” came back as sharply, but cheerfully.

The principal feature she discerned in both sailors was a very
attentive, business-like manner. The romantic air with which heroes
face danger in story was entirely absent; and so, being convinced by
his yarns that David _was_ a hero, she inferred that their
situation could not be dangerous, but, as David himself had inferred,
merely one in which watchfulness was requisite.


The sun went down red and angry. The night came on dark and howling.
No moon. A murky sky, like a black bellying curtain above, and huge
ebony waves, that in the appalling blackness seemed all crested with
devouring fire, hemmed in the tossing boat, and growled, and snarled,
and raged above, below, and around her.

Then, in that awful hour, Lucy Fountain felt her littleness and the
littleness of man. She cowered and trembled.

The sailors, rough but tender nurses, wrapped shawls round her one
above the other, “to make her snug for the night,” they said. They
seemed to her to be mocking her. “Snug? Who could hope to outlive such
a fearful night? and what did it matter whether she was drowned in one
shawl or a dozen?”

David being amidships, bailing the boat out, and Jack at the helm, she
took the opportunity, and got very close to the latter, and said in
his ear--

“Mr. Jack, we are in danger.”

“Not exactly in danger, miss; but, of course, we must mind our eye.
But I have often been where I have had to mind my eye, and hope to be
again.”

“Mr. Jack,” said Lucy, shivering, “what is our danger? Tell me the
nature of it, then I shall not be so cowardly; will the boat break?”

“Lord bless you, no.”

“Will it upset?”

“No fear of that.”

“Will not the sea swallow us?”

“No, miss. How can the sea swallow us? She rides like a cork, and
there is the skipper bailing her out, to make her lighter still. No;
I’ll tell you, miss; all we have got to mind is two things; we must
not let her broach to, and we must not get pooped.”

“But _why_ must we not?”

“_Why?_ Because we _mustn’t.”_

“But I mean, what would be the consequence of--broaching to?”

Jack opened his eyes in astonishment. “Why, the sea would run over her
quarter, and swamp her.”

“Oh!! And if we get pooped?”

“We shall go to Davy Jones, like a bullet.”

“Who is Davy Jones?”

“The Old One, you know--down below. Leastways you won’t go there,
miss; you will go aloft, and perhaps the skipper; but Davy will have
me; so I won’t give him a chance, if I can help it.”

Lucy cried.

“Where are we, Mr. Jack?”

“British Channel.”

“I know that; but whereabouts?”

“Heaven knows; and no doubt the skipper, he knows; but I don’t. I am
only a common sailor. Shall I hail the skipper? he will tell you.”

“No, no, no. He is so angry if we speak.”

“He won’t be angry if you speak to him, miss,” said Jack, with a sly
grin, that brought a faint color into Lucy’s cheek; “you should have
seen him, how anxious he was about you before we came alongside; and
the moment that lubber went forward to dip the lug, says he, ‘Jack,
there will be mischief; up mainsail and run down to them. I have no
confidence in that tall boy.’ (He do seem a long, weedy, useless sort
of lubber.) Lord bless you, miss, we luffed, and were running down to
you long before you made the signal of distress with your little white
flag.” Lucy’s cheeks got redder. “No, miss, if the skipper speaks
severe to you, Jack Painter is blind with one eye, and can’t see with
t’other.”

Lucy’s cheeks were carnation.

But the next moment they were white, for a terrible event interrupted
this chat. Two huge waves rolled one behind the other, an occurrence
which luckily is not frequent; the boat, descending into the valley of
the sea, had the wind taken out of her sails by the high wave that was
coming. Her sails flapped, she lost her speed, and, as she rose again,
the second wave was a moment too quick for her, and its combing crest
caught her. The first thing Lucy saw was Jack running from the helm
with a loud cry of fear, followed by what looked an arch of fire, but
sounded like a lion rushing, growling on its prey, and directly her
feet and ankles were in a pool of water. David bounded aft, swearing
and splashing through it, and it turned into sparks of white fire
flying this way and that. He seized the helm, and discharged a loud
volley of curses at Jack.

“Fling out ballast, ye d--d cowardly, useless lubber,” cried he; and
while Jack, who had recoiled into his normal state of nerves with
almost ridiculous rapidity, was heaving out ballast, David discharged
another rolling volley at him.

“Oh, pray don’t!” cried Lucy, trembling like an aspen leaf. “Oh,
think! we shall soon be in the presence of our Maker--of Him whose
name you--”

“Not we,” cried David, with broad, cheerful incredulity; “we have lots
more mischief to do--that lubber and I. And if he thinks he is going
there, let him end like a man, not like a skulking lubber, running
from the helm, and letting the craft come up in the wind.”

“No, no, it was the sea he ran from. Who would not?”

“The lubber! If it had been a tiger or a bear I’d say nothing; but
what is the use of trying to run from the sea? Should have stuck to
his post, and set that thundering back of his up--it’s broad
enough--and kept the sea out of your boots. The sea, indeed! I have
seen the sea come on board me, and clear the deck fore and aft, but it
didn’t come in the shape of a cupful o’ water and a spoonful o’ foam.”
 Here David’s wrath and contempt were interrupted by Jack singing
waggishly at his work,

           “Cease--rude Boreas--blustering--railer!!”

At which sly hit David was pleased, and burst into a loud, boisterous
laugh.

Lucy put her hands to her ears. “Oh, don’t! don’t! this is worse than
your blasphemies--laughing on the brink of eternity; these are not
men--they are devils.”

“Do you hear that, Jack? Come, you behave!” roared David.

A faint snarl from Talboys. The water had penetrated him, and roused
him from a state of sick torpor; he lay in a tidy little pool some
eight inches deep.

The boat was bailed and lightened, but Lucy’s fears were not set at
rest. What was to hinder the recurrence of the same danger, and with
more fatal effect? She timidly asked David’s permission to let her
keep the sea out. Instead of snubbing her as she expected, David
consented with a sort of paternal benevolence tinged with incredulity.
She then developed her plan; it was, that David, Jack, and she should
sit in a triangle, and hold the tarpaulin out to windward and fence
the ocean out. Jack, being summoned aft to council, burst into a
hoarse laugh; but David checked him.

“There is more in it than you see, Jack--more than she sees, perhaps.
My only doubt is whether it is possible; but you can try.”

Lucy and Jack then tried to get the tarpaulin out to windward; instead
of which, it carried them to leeward by the force of the wind. The
mast brought them up, or Heaven knows where their new invention would
have taken them. With infinite difficulty they got it down and kneeled
upon it, and even then it struggled. But Lucy would not be defeated;
she made Jack gather it up in the middle, and roll it first to the
right, then to the left, till it became a solid roll with two narrow
open edges. They then carried it abaft, and lowered it vertically over
the stern-port; then suddenly turned it round, and sat down. “Crack!”
 the wind opened it, and wrapped it round the boat and the trio.

“Hallo!” cried David, “it is foul of the rudder;” and, he whipped out
his knife and made a slit in the stuff. It now clung like a blister.

“There, Mr. Dodd, will not that keep the sea out?” asked Lucy,
triumphantly.

“At any rate, it may help to keep us ahead of the sea. Why, Jack, I
seem to feel it lift her; it is as good as a mizzen.”

“But, oh, Mr. Dodd, there is another danger. We may broach to.”

“How can she broach to when I am at the helm? Here is the arm that
won’t let her broach to.”

“Then I feel safe.”

“You are as safe as on your own sofa; it is the discomfort you are put
to that worries me.”

“Don’t think so meanly of me, Mr. Dodd. If it was not for my
cowardice, I should enjoy this voyage far more than the luxurious ease
you think so dear to me. I despise it.”


“Mr. Dodd, now I am no longer afraid. I am, oh, so sleepy.”

“No wonder--go to sleep. It is the best thing you can do.”

“Thank you, sir. I am aware my conversation is not very interesting.”
 Having administered this sudden bloodless scratch, to show that, at
sea or ashore, in fair weather or foul, she retained her sex, Lucy
disposed herself to sleep.

David, steering the boat with his left hand, arranged the cushion with
his right. She settled herself to sleep, for an irresistible
drowsiness had followed the many hours of excitement she had gone
through. Twice the heavy plunging sea brought her into light contact
with David. She instantly awoke, and apologized to him with gentle
dismay for taking so audacious a liberty with that great man,
commander of the vessel; the third time she said nothing, a sure sign
she was unconscious.

Then David, for fear she might hurt herself, curled his arm around
her, and let her head decline upon his shoulder. Her bonnet fell off;
he put it reverently on the other side the helm. The air now cleared,
but the gale increased rather than diminished. And now the moon rose
large and bright. The boat and masts stood out like white stone-work
against the flint-colored sky, and the silver light played on Lucy’s
face. There she lay, all unconscious of her posture, on the man’s
shoulder who loved her, and whom she had refused; her head thrown back
in sweet helplessness, her rich hair streaming over David’s shoulder,
her eyes closed, but the long, lovely lashes meeting so that the
double fringe was as speaking as most eyes, and her lips half open in
an innocent smile. The storm was no storm to her now. She slept the
sleep of childhood, of innocence and peace; and David gazed and gazed
on her, and joy and tenderness almost more than human thrilled through
him, and the storm was no storm to him either; he forgot the past,
despised the future, and in the delirium of his joy blessed the sea
and the wind, and wished for nothing but, instead of the Channel, a
boundless ocean, and to sail upon it thus, her bosom tenderly grazing
him, and her lovely head resting on his shoulder, for ever, and ever,
and ever.


Thus they sailed on two hours and more, and Jack now began to nod.

All of a sudden Lucy awoke, and, opening her eyes, surprised David
gazing at her with tenderness unspeakable. Awaking possessed with the
notion that she was sleeping at home on a bed of down, she looked
dumfounded an instant; but David’s eyes soon sent the blood into her
cheek. Her whole supple person turned eel-like, and she glided
quickly, but not the least bruskly, from him; the latter might have
seemed discourteous.

“Oh, Mr. Dodd,” she cried, “what am I doing?”

“You have been getting a nice sleep, thank Heaven.”

“Yes, and making use of you even in my sleep; but we all impose on
your goodness.”

“Why did you awake? You were happy; you felt no care, and I was happy
seeing you so.”

Lucy’s eyes filled. “Kind, true friend,” she murmured, “how can I ever
thank you as I ought? I little deserved that you should watch over my
safety as you have done, and, alas! risk your own. Any other but you
would have borne me malice, and let me perish, and said, ‘It serves
her right.’”

“Malice! Miss Lucy. What for, in Heaven’s name?”

“For--for the affront I put upon you; for the--the honor I declined.”

“Hate cannot lie alongside love in a true heart.”

“I see it cannot in a noble one. And then you are so generous. You
have never once recurred to that unfortunate topic; yet you have
gained a right to request me--to reconsider--Mr. Dodd, you have saved
my life!!”

“What! do you praise me because I don’t take a mean advantage? That
would not be behaving like a man.”

“I don’t know that. You overrate your sex--and mine. We don’t deserve
such generosity. The proof is, we reward those who are not
so--delicate.”

“I don’t trouble my head about your sex. They are nothing to me, and
never will be. If you think I have done my duty like a man, and as
much like a gentleman as my homely education permits, that is enough
for me, and I shall sail for China as happy as anything on earth can
make me now.”

Lucy answered this by crying gently, silently, tenderly.

“Don’t ye cry. Have I said something to vex you?”

“Oh no, no.”

“Are you alarmed still?”

“Oh, no; I have such faith in you.”

“Then go to sleep again, like a lamb.”

“I will; then I shall not tease you with my conversation.”

“Now there is a way to put it.”

“Forgive me.”

“That I will, if you will take some repose. There, I will lash you to
my arm with this handkerchief; then you can lie the other way, and
hold on by the handkerchief--there.”

She closed her eyes and fell apparently to sleep, but really to
thinking.

Then David nudged Jack, and waked him. “Speak low now, Jack.”

“What is it, sir?”

“Land ahead.”

Jack looked out, and there was a mountain of jet rising out of the
sea, and, to a landsman’s eye, within a stone’s throw of them.

“Is it the French coast, sir? I must have been asleep.”

“French coast? no, Channel Island--smallest of the lot.”

“Better give it a wide berth, sir. We shall go smash like a teacup if
we run on to one of them rocky islands.”

“Why, Jack,” said David, reproachfully, “am I the man to run upon a
leeshore, and such a night as this?”

“Not likely. You will keep her head for Cherbourg or St. Malo, sir; it
is our only chance.”

“It is not our only chance, nor our best. We have been running a
little ahead of this gale, Jack; there is worse in store for us; the
sea is rolling mountains high on the French coast this morning, I
know. We are like enough to be pooped before we get there, or swamped
on some harbor-bar at last.”

“Well, sir, we must take our chance.”

“Take our chance? What! with heads on our shoulders, and an angel on
board that Heaven has given us charge of? No, I sha’n’t take my
chance. I shall try all I know, and hang on to life by my eyelids.
Listen to me. ‘Knowledge is gold;’ a little of it goes a long way. I
don’t know much myself, but I do know the soundings of the British
Channel. I have made them my study. On the south side of this rocky
point there is forty fathoms water close to the shore, and good
anchorage-ground.”

“Then I wish we could jump over the thundering island, and drop on the
lee side of it; but, as we can’t, what’s the use?”

“We may be able to round the point.”

“There will be an awful sea running off that point, sir.”

“Of course there will. I mean to try it, for all that.”

“So be it, sir; that is what I like to hear. I hate palaver. Let one
give his orders, and the rest obey them. We are not above half a mile
from it now.”

“You had better wake the landsman. We must have a third hand for
this.”

“No,” said a woman’s voice, sweet, but clear and unwavering. “I shall
be the third hand.”

“Curse it,” cried David, “she has heard us.”

“Every word. And I have no confidence in Mr. Talboys; and, believe me,
I am more to be trusted than he is. See, my cowardice is all worn out.
Do but trust me, and you shall find I want neither courage nor
intelligence.”

David eyed her keenly, and full in the face. She met his glance
calmly, with her fine nostrils slightly expanding, and her compressed
lip curving proudly.

“It is all right, Jack. It is not a flash in the pan. She is as steady
as a rock.” He then addressed her rapidly and business-like, but with
deference. “You will stand by the helm on this side, and the moment I
run forward, you will take the helm and hold it in this position. That
will require all your strength. Come, try it. Well done.”

“How the sea struggles with me! But I am strong, you see,” cried Lucy,
her brow flushed with the battle.

“Very good; you are strong, and, what is better, resolute. Now,
observe me: this is port, this is starboard, and this is amidships.”

“I see; but how am I to know which to do?”’

“I shall give you the word of command.”

“And all I have to do is to obey it?”

“That is all; but you will find it enough, because the sea will seem
to fight you. It will shake the boat to make you leave go, and will
perhaps dash in your face to make you leave go.”

“Forewarned, forearmed, Mr. Dodd. I will not let go. I will hold on by
my eyelids sooner than add to your danger.”

“Jack, she is on fire; she gives me double heart.”

“So she does me. She makes it a pleasure.”

They were now near enough the point to judge what they had to do, and
the appearance of the sea was truly terrible; the waves were all
broken, and a surge of devouring fire seemed to rage and roar round
the point, and oppose an impassable barrier between them and the inky
pool beyond, where safety lay under the lee of the high rocks.

“I don’t like it,” said David. “It looks to me like going through a
strip of hell fire.”

“But it is narrow,” said Lucy.

“That is our chance; and the tide is coming in. We will try it. She
will drench us, but I don’t much think she will swamp us. Are you
ready, all hands?”

“Oh! please wait a minute, till I do up my hair.”

“Take a minute, but no more.”

“There, it is done. Mr. Dodd, one word. If all should fail, and death
be inevitable, tell me so just before we perish, and I shall have
something to say to you. Now, I am ready.”

“Jump forward, Jack.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Stand by to jibe the foresail.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“See our sweeps all clear.”

“Ay.”

David now handled the main sheet, and at the same time looked
earnestly at Lucy, who met his eye with a look of eager attention.

“Starboard a little. That will do. Steady--steady as you go,” As the
boat yielded to the helm, Jack gathered in on the sheet, took two
turns round the cleat, and eased away till the sail drew its best: so
far so good. Both sails were now on the same side of the boat, the
wind on her port quarter; but now came the dangerous operation of
coming to the wind, in a rough and broken sea, among the eddies of
wind and tide so prevalent off headlands. David, with the main sheet
in his right hand, directed Lucy with his left as well as his voice.

“Starboard the helm--starboard yet--now meet her--so!” and, as she
rounded to Jack and he kept hauling the sheets aft, and the boat, her
course and trim altered, darted among the breakers like a brave man
attacking danger. After the first plunge she went up and down like a
pickax, coming down almost where she went up; but she held her course,
with the waves roaring round her like a pack of hell-hounds.

More than half the terrible strip was passed. “Starboard yet,” cried
David; and she headed toward the high mainland under whose lee was
calm and safety. Alas! at this moment a snorter of a sea broke under
her broadside, and hove her to leeward like a cork, and a tide eddy
catching her under the counter, she came to more than two points, and
her canvas, thus emptied, shook enough to tear the masts out of her by
the board.

“Port your helm! PORT! PORT!” roared David, in a voice like the roar
of a wounded lion; and, in his anxiety, he bounded to the helm
himself; but Lucy obeyed orders at half a word, and David, seeing
this, sprang forward to help Jack flatten in the foresheet. The boat,
which all through answered the helm beautifully, fell off the moment
Lucy ported the helm, and thus they escaped the impending and terrible
danger of her making sternway. “Helm amidships!” and all drew again:
the black water was in sight. But will they ever reach it? She tosses
like a cork. Bang! A breaker caught her bows, and drenched David and
Jack to the very bone. She quivered like an aspen-leaf but held on.

“Starboard one point,” cried David, sitting down, and lifting an oar
out from the boat; but just as Lucy, in obeying the order, leaned a
little over the lee gunwale with the tiller, a breaker broke like a
shell upon the boat’s broadside abaft, stove in her upper plank, and
filled her with water; some flew and slapped Lucy in the face like an
open hand. She screamed, but clung to the gunwale, and griped the
helm: her arm seemed iron, and her heart was steel. While she clung
thus to her work, blinded by the spray, and expecting death, she heard
oars splash into the water, and mellow stentorian voices burst out
singing.

In amazement she turned, squeezed the brine out of her eyes, and
looked all round, and lo! the boat was in a trifling bobble of a sea,
and close astern was the surge of fire raging, and growling, and
blazing in vain, and the two sailors were pulling the boat, with
superhuman strength and inspiration, into a monster mill-pool that now
lay right ahead, black as ink and smooth as oil, singing loudly as
they rowed:

         “Cheerily oh oh! (pull) cheerily oh oh! (pull)
          To port we go oh (pull), to port we go (pull).”

FLARE!! a great flaming eye opened on them in the center of the
universal blackness.

“Look! look!” cried Lucy; “a fire in the mountain.”

It was the lantern of a French sloop anchored close to the shore. The
crew had heard the sailors’ voices. At sight of it David and Jack
cheered so lustily that Talboys crawled out of the water and glared
vaguely. The sailors pulled under the sloop’s lee quarter: a couple of
ropes were instantly lowered, the lantern held aloft, ruby heads and
hands clustered at the gangway, and in another minute the boat’s party
were all upon deck, under a hailstorm of French, and the boat fast to
her stern.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE skipper of the ship, hearing a commotion on deck, came up, and,
taking off his cap, made Lucy a bow in a style remote from an English
sailor’s. She courtesied to him, and, to his surprise, addressed him
in Parisian French. When he learned she was from England, and had
rounded that point in an open boat, he was astonished.

“Diables d’Anglais!” said he.

The good-natured Frenchman insisted on Lucy taking sole possession of
his cabin, in which was a cheerful stove. His crew were just as kind
to David, Jack, and Talboys. This latter now resumed his right
place--at the head of mankind; being the only one who could talk
French, he interpreted for his companions. He improved upon my
narrative in one particular: he led the Frenchmen to suppose it was he
who had sailed the boat from England, and weathered the point. Who can
blame him?

Dry clothes were found them, and grog and beef.

While employed on the victuals, a little Anglo-Frank, aged ten,
suddenly rolled out of a hammock and offered aid in the sweet accents
of their native tongue. The sound of the knives and forks had woke the
urchin out of a deep sleep. David filled the hybrid, and then sent him
to Lucy’s cabin to learn how she was getting on. He returned, and told
them the lady was sitting on deck.

“Dear me,” said David, “she ought to be in her bed.” He rose and went
on deck, followed by Mr. Talboys. “Had you not better rest yourself?”
 said David.

“No, thank you, Mr. Dodd; I had a delicious sleep in the boat.”

Here Talboys put in his word, and made her a rueful apology for the
turn his pleasure-excursion had taken.

She stopped him most graciously.

“On the contrary, I have to thank you, indirectly, for one of the
pleasantest evenings I ever spent. I never was in danger before, and
it is delightful. I was a little frightened at first, but it soon wore
off, and I feel I should shortly revel in it; only I must have a brave
man near just to look at, then I gather courage from his eye; do I not
now, Mr. Dodd?”

“Indeed you do,” said David, simply enough.

Lucy Fountain’s appearance and manner bore out her words. Talboys was
white; even David and Jack showed some signs of a night of watching
and anxiety; but the young lady’s cheek was red and fresh, her eye
bright, and she shone with an inspired and sprightly ardor that was
never seen, or never observed in her before. They had found the way to
put her blood up, after all--the blood of the Funteyns. Such are
thoroughbreds: they rise with the occasion; snobs descend as the
situation rises. See that straight-necked, small-nosed mare stepping
delicately on the turnpike: why, it is Languor in person, picking its
way among eggs. Now the hounds cry and the horn rings. Put her at
timber, stream, and plowed field in pleasing rotation, and see her
now: up ears; open nostril; nerves steel; heart immovable; eye of
fire; foot of wind. And ho! there! What stuck in that last arable,
dead stiff as the Rosinantes in Trafalgar Square, all but one limb,
which goes like a water-wagtail’s? Why, by Jove! if it isn’t the hero
of the turnpike road: the gallant, impatient, foaming, champing,
space-devouring, curveting cocktail.


Out of consideration for her male companions’ infirmities, and
observing that they were ashamed to take needful rest while she
remained on deck, Lucy at length retired to her cabin.

She slept a good many hours, and was awakened at last by the rocking
of the sloop. The wind had fallen gently, but it had also changed to
due east, which brought a heavy ground-swell round the point into
their little haven. Lucy made her toilet, and came on deck blooming
like a rose. The first person she encountered was Mr. Talboys. She
saluted him cordially, and then inquired for their companions.

“Oh, they are gone.”

“Gone! What do you mean?”

“Sailed half an hour ago. Look, there is the boat coasting the island.
No, not that way--westward; out there, just weathering that point
Don’t you see?”

“Are they making a tour of the island, then?”

Here the little Anglo-Frank put in his word. “No, ma’ainselle, gone to
catch sheep bound for ze East Indeeze.”

“Gone! gone! for good?” and Lucy turned very pale. The next moment
offended pride sent the blood rushing to her brow. “That is just like
Mr. Dodd; there is not another gentleman in the world would have had
the ill-breeding to go off like that to India without even bidding us
good-morning or good-by. Did he bid _you_ good-by, Mr. Talboys?”

“No.”

“There, now, it is insolent--it is barbarous.” Her vexation at the
affront David had put on Mr. Talboys soon passed into indignation.
“This was done to insult--to humiliate us. A noble revenge. You know
we used sometimes to quiz him a little ashore, especially you; so now,
out of spite, he has saved our lives, and then turned his back
arrogantly upon us before we could express our gratitude; that is as
much as to say he values us as so many dogs or cats, flings us our
lives haughtily, and then turned his back disdainfully on us. Life is
not worth having when given so insultingly.”

Talboys soothed the offended fair. “I really don’t think he meant to
insult us; but you know Dodd; he is a good-natured fellow, but he
never had the slightest pretension to good-breeding.”

“Don’t you think,” replied the lady, “it would be as well to leave off
detracting from Mr. Dodd now that he has just saved your life?”

Talboys opened his eyes. “Why, you began it.”

“Oh, Mr. Talboys, do not descend to evasion. What I say goes for
nothing. Mr. Dodd and I are fast friends, and nobody will ever succeed
in robbing me of my esteem for him. But you always hated him, and you
seize every opportunity of showing your dislike. Poor Mr. Dodd! He has
too many great virtues not to be envied--and hated.”

Talboys stood puzzled, and was at a loss which way to steer his
tongue, the wind being so shifty. At last he observed a little
haughtily that “he never made Mr. Dodd of so much importance as all
this. He owned he _had_ quizzed him, but it was not his intention
to quiz him any more; for I do feel under considerable obligations to
Mr. Dodd; he has brought us safe across the Channel; at the same time,
I own I should have been more grateful if he had beat against the wind
and landed us on our native coast; the lugger is there long before
this, and our boat was the best of the two.”

“Absurd!” replied Lucy, with cold hauteur. “The lugger had a sharp
stern, but ours was a square stern, so we were obliged to _run;_
if we had _beat,_ we should all have been drowned directly.”

Talboys was staggered by this sudden influx of science; but he held
his ground. “There is something in that,” said he; “but still,
a--a----”

“There, Mr. Talboys,” said the young lady suddenly, assuming extreme
languor after delivering a facer, “pray do not engage me in an
argument. I do not feel equal to one, especially on a subject that has
lost its interest. Can you inform me when this vessel sails?”

“Not till to-morrow morning.”

“Then will you be so kind as to borrow me that little boat? it is
dangling from the ship, so it must belong to it. I wish to land, and
see whether he has cast us upon an in- or an uninhabited island.”

The sloop’s boat speedily landed them on the island, and Lucy proposed
to cross the narrow neck of land and view the sea they had crossed in
the dark. This was soon done, and she took that opportunity of looking
about for the lateen, for her mind had taken another turn, and she
doubted the report that David had gone to intercept the East-Indiaman.
A short glance convinced her it was true. About seven miles to
leeward, her course west-northwest, her hull every now and then hidden
by the waves, her white sails spread like a bird’s, the lateen was
flying through the foam at its fastest rate. Lucy gazed at her so long
and steadfastly that Talboys took the huff, and strolled along the
cliff.

When Lucy turned to go back, she found the French skipper coming
toward her with a scrap of paper in his hand. He presented it with a
low bow; she took it with a courtesy. It was neatly folded, though not
as letters are folded ashore, and it bore her address. She opened it
and read:


“It was not worth while disturbing your rest just to see us go off.
God bless you, Miss Lucy! The Frenchman is bound for ----, and will
take you safe; and mind you don’t step ashore till the plank is fast.

“Yours, respectfully,

“DAVID DODD.”


That was all. She folded it back thoughtfully into the original folds,
and turned away. When she had gone but a few steps she stopped and put
her rejected lover’s little note into her bosom, and went slowly back
to the boat, hanging her sweet head, and crying as she went.



CHAPTER XX.

MR. FOUNTAIN remained in the town waiting for his niece’s return. Six
o’clock came--no boat. Eight o’clock--no boat, and a heavy gale
blowing. He went down to the beach in great anxiety; and when he got
there he soon found it was shared to the full by many human beings.
There were little knots of fishermen and sailors discussing it, and
one poor woman, mother and wife, stealing from group to group and
listening anxiously to the men’s conjectures. But the most striking
feature of the scene was an old white-haired man, who walked wildly,
throwing his arms about. The others rather avoided him, but Mr.
Fountain felt he had a right to speak to him; so he came to him, and
told him “his niece was on board; and you, too, I fear, have some one
dear to you in danger.”

The old man replied sorrowfully that “his lovely new boat was in
danger--in such danger that he should never see her again;” then
added, going suddenly into a fury, that “as to the two rascally
bluejackets that were on board of her, and had borrowed her of his
wife while he was out, all he wished was that they had been swamped to
all eternity long ago, then they would not have been able to come and
swamp his dear boat.”

Peppery old Fountain cursed him for a heartless old vagabond, and
joined the group whose grief and anxiety were less ostentatious, being
for the other boat that carried their own flesh and blood. But all
night long that white-haired old man paced the shore, flinging his
arms, weeping and cursing alternately for his dear schooner.

Oh holy love--of property! how venerable you looked in the moonlight,
with your white hairs streaming! How well you imitated, how close you
rivaled, the holiest effusions of the heart, and not for the first
time nor the last.

“My daughter! my ducats! my ducats! my daughter!” etc.


The morning broke; no sign of either boat. The wind had shifted to the
east, and greatly abated. The fishermen began to have hopes for their
comrades; these communicated themselves to Mr. Fountain.

It was about one o’clock in the afternoon when this latter observed
people streaming along the shore to a distant point. He asked a
coastguard man, whom he observed scanning the place with a glass,
“What it was?”

The man lowered his voice and said, “Well, sir, it will be something
coming ashore, by the way the folk are running.”

Mr. Fountain got a carriage, and, urging the driver to use speed, was
hastily conveyed by the road to a part whence a few steps brought him
down to the sea. He thrust wildly in among the crowd.

“Make way,” said the rough fellows: they saw he was one of those who
had the best right to be there.

He looked, and there, scarce fifty yards from the shore, was the
lugger, keel uppermost, drifting in with the tide. The old man
staggered, and was supported by a beach man.

When the wreck came within fifteen yards of the shore, she hung, owing
to the under suction, and could get neither way. The cries of the
women broke out afresh at this. Then half a dozen stout fellows swam
in with ropes, and with some difficulty righted her, and in another
minute she was hauled ashore.

The crowd rushed upon her. She was empty! Not an oar, not a
boat-hook--nothing. But jammed in between the tiller and the boat they
found a purple veil. The discovery was announced loudly by one of the
females, but the consequent outcry was instantly hushed by the men,
and the oldest fisherman there took it, and, in a sudden dead and
solemn silence, gave it with a world of subdued meaning to Mr.
Fountain.



CHAPTER XXI.

MR. FOUNTAIN’S grief was violent; the more so, perhaps, that it was
not pure sorrow, but heated with anger and despair. He had not only
lost the creature he loved better than anyone else except himself, but
all his plans and all his ambition were upset forever. I am sorry to
say there were moments when he felt indignant with Heaven, and accused
its justice. At other times the virtues of her he had lost came to his
recollection, and he wept genuine tears. Now she was dead he asked
himself a question that is sometimes reserved for that occasion, and
then asked with bitter regret and idle remorse at its postponement,
“What can I do to show my love and respect for her?” The poor old
fellow could think of nothing now but to try and recover her body from
the sea, and to record her virtues on her tomb. He employed six men to
watch the coast for her along a space of twelve miles, and he went to
a marble-cutter and ordered a block of beautiful white marble. He drew
up the record of her virtues himself, and spelled her “Fontaine,” and
so settled that question by brute force.

Oh, you may giggle, but men are not most sincere when they are most
reasonable, nor most reasonable when most sincere. When a man’s heart
is in a thing, it is in it--wise or nonsensical, it is all one; so it
is no use talking.


I lack words to describe the gloom that fell on Mr. Bazalgette’s home
when the sad tidings reached it. And, indeed, it would be trifling
with my reader to hang many more pages with black when he and I both
know Lucy Fontaine is alive all the time.

Meantime the French sloop lay at her anchor, and Lucy fretted with
impatience. At noon the next day she sailed, and, being a slow vessel,
did not anchor off the port of ---- till daybreak the day after. Then
she had to wait for the tide, and it was nearly eleven o’clock when
Lucy landed. She went immediately to the principal inn to get a
conveyance. On the road, whom should she meet but Mr. Hardie. He gave
a joyful start at sight of her, and with more heart than she could
have expected welcomed her to life again. From him she learned all the
proofs of her death. This made her more anxious to fly to her aunt’s
house at once and undeceive her.

Mr. Hardie would not let her hire a carriage; he would drive her over
in half the time. He beckoned his servant, who was standing at the inn
door, and ordered it immediately. “Meantime, Miss Fountain, if you
will take my arm, I will show you something that I think will amuse
you, though _we_ have found it anything but amusing, as you may
well suppose.” Lucy took his arm somewhat timidly, and he walked her
to the marble-cutter’s shop. “Look there,” said he. Lucy looked and
there was an unfinished slab on which she read these words:

               Sacred to the Memory
                       OF
                  LUCY FONTAINE,
         WHO WAS DROWNED AT SEA ON THE
                10TH SEPT., 18--.

      As her beauty endeared her to all eyes,
         So her modesty, piety, docilit

At this point in her moral virtues the chisel had stopped. Eleven
o’clock struck, and the chisel went for its beer; for your English
workman would leave the d in “God” half finished when strikes the hour
of beer.

The fact is that the shopkeeper had newly set up, was proud of the
commission, and, whenever the chisel left off, he whipped into the
workshop and brought the slab out, _pro tem.,_ into his window
for an advertisement.

Hardie pointed it out to Lucy with a chuckle. Lucy turned pale, and
put her hand to her heart. Hardie saw his mistake too late, and
muttered excuses.

Lucy gave a little gasp and stopped him. “Pray say no more; it is my
fault; if people will feign death, they must expect these little
tributes. My uncle has lost no time.” And two unreasonable tears
swelled to her eyes and trickled one after another down her cheeks;
then she turned her back quickly on the thing, and Mr. Hardie felt her
arm tremble. “I think, Mr. Hardie,” said she presently, with marked
courtesy, “I should, under the circumstances, prefer to go home alone.
My aunt’s nerves are sensitive, and I must think of the best way of
breaking to her the news that I am alive.”

“It would be best, Miss Fountain; and, to tell the truth, I feel
myself unworthy to accompany you after being so maladroit as to give
you pain in thinking to amuse you.”

“Oh, Mr. Hardie,” said Lucy, growing more and more courteous, “you are
not to be called to account for my weakness; that _would_ be
unjust. I shall have the pleasure of seeing you at dinner?”

“Certainly, since you permit me.”

He put Lucy into the carriage and off she drove. “Come,” thought Mr.
Hardie, “I have had an escape; what a stupid blunder for me to make!
She is not angry, though, so it does not matter. She asked me to
dinner.”

Said Lucy to herself: “The man is a fool! Poor Mr. Dodd! _he_
would not have shown me my tombstone--to amuse me.” And she dismissed
the subject from her mind.

She sent away the carriage and entered Mr. Bazalgette’s house on foot.
After some consideration she determined to employ Jane, a girl of some
tact, to break her existence to her aunt. She glided into the
drawing-room unobserved, fully expecting to find Jane at work there
for Mrs. Bazalgette. But the room was empty. While she hesitated what
to do next, the handle of the door was turned, and she had only just
time to dart behind a heavy window-curtain, when it opened, and Mrs.
Bazalgette walked slowly and silently in, followed by a woman. Mrs.
Bazalgette seated herself and sighed deeply. Her companion kept a
respectful silence. After a considerable pause, Mrs. Bazalgette said a
few words in a voice so thoroughly subdued and solemn, and every now
and then so stifled, that Lucy’s heart yearned for her, and nothing
but the fear of frightening her aunt into a hysterical fit kept her
from flying into her arms.

“I need not tell you,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, “why I sent for you. You
know the sad bereavement that has fallen on me, but you cannot know
all I have lost in her. Nobody can tell what she was to all of us, but
most of all to me. I was her darling, and she was mine.” Here tears
choked Mrs. Bazalgette’s words, for a while. Recovering herself, she
paid a tribute to the character of the deceased. “It was a soul
without one grain of selfishness; all her thoughts were for others,
not one for herself. She loved us all--indeed, she loved some that
were hardly worthy of so pure a creature’s love; but the reason was,
she had no eye for the faults of her friends; she pictured them like
herself, and loved her own sweet image in them. _And_ such a
temper! and so free from guile. I may truly say her mind was as lovely
as her person.”

“She was, indeed, a sweet young lady,” sighed the woman.

“She was an angel, Baldwin--an angel sent to bear us company a little
while, and now she is a saint in Heaven.”

“Ah! ma’am, the best goes first, that is an old saying.”

“So I have heard; but my niece was as healthy as she was lovely and
good. Everything promised long life. I hoped she would have closed my
eyes. In the bloom of health one day, and the next lying cold, stark,
and drenched!! Oh, how terrible! Oh, my poor Lucy! oh! oh! oh!”

“In the midst of life we are in death, ma’am. I am sure it is a
warning to me, ma’am, as well as to my betters.”

“It, is, indeed, Baldwin, a warning to all of us who have lived too
much for vanities, to think of this sweet flower, snatched in a moment
from our bosoms and from the world; we ought to think of it on our
knees, and remember our own latter end. That last skirt you sent me
was rather scrimped, my poor Baldwin.”

“Was it, ma’am?”

“Oh, it does not matter; I shall never wear it now; and, under such a
blow as this, I am in no humor to find fault. Indeed, with my grief I
neglect my household and my very children. I forget everything; what
did I send for you for?” and she looked with lack-luster eyes full in
Mrs. Baldwin’s face.

“Jane did not say, ma’am, but I am at your orders.”

“Oh, of course; I am distracted. It was to pay the last tribute of
respect to her dear memory. Ah! Baldwin, often and often the black
dress is all; but here the heart mourns beyond the power of grief to
express by any outward trappings. No matter; the world, the shallow
world, respects these signs of woe, and let mine be the deepest
mourning ever worn, and the richest. And out of that mourning I shall
never go while I live.”

“No, ma’am,” said Baldwin soothingly.

“Do you doubt me?” asked the lady, with a touch of sharpness that did
not seemed called for by Baldwin’s humble acquiescence.

“Oh, no, ma’am; it is a very natural thought under the present
affliction, and most becoming the sad occasion. Well, ma’am, the
deepest mourning, if you please, I should say cashmere and crape.”

“Yes, that would be deep. Oh, Baldwin, it is her violent death that
kills me. Well?”

“Cashmere and crape, ma’am, and with nothing white about the neck and
arms.”

“Yes; oh yes; but will not that be rather unbecoming?”

“Well, ma’am--” and Baldwin hesitated.

“I hardly see how I _could_ wear that, it makes one look so old.
Now don’t you think black _glace_ silk, and trimmed with
love-ribbon, black of course, but scalloped--”

“That would be very rich, indeed, ma’am, and very becoming to you;
but, being so near and dear, it would not be so deep as you are
desirous of.”

“Why, Baldwin, you don’t attend to what I say; I told you I was never
going out of mourning again, so what is the use of your proposing
anything to me that I can’t wear all my life? Now tell me, can I
always wear cashmere and crape?”

“Oh no, ma’am, that is out of the question; and if it is for a
permanency, I don’t see how we could improve on _glace_ silk,
with crape, and love-ribbons. Would you like the body trimmed with
jet, ma’am?”

“Oh, don’t ask me; I don’t know. If my darling had only died
comfortably in her bed, then we could have laid out her sweet remains,
and dressed them for her virgin tomb.”

“It would have been a satisfaction, ma’am.”

“A sad one, at the best; but now the very earth, perhaps, will never
receive her. Oh yes, anything you like--the body trimmed with jet, if
you wish it, and let me see, a gauze bodice, goffered, fastened to the
throat. That is all, I think; the sleeves confined at the wrist just
enough not to expose the arm, and yet look light--you understand.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“She kissed me just before she went on that fatal excursion, Baldwin;
she will never kiss me again--oh! oh! You must call on Dejazet for me,
and bespeak me a bonnet to match; it is not to be supposed I can run
about after her trumpery at such a time; besides, it is not usual.”

“Indeed, ma’am, you are in no state for it; I will undertake any
purchases you may require.”

“Thank you, my good Baldwin; you are a good, kind, feeling, useful
soul. Oh, Baldwin, if it had pleased Heaven to take her by disease, it
would have been bad enough to lose her; but to be drowned! her clothes
all wetted through and through; her poor hair drenched, too; and then
the water is so cold at this time of year--oh! oh! Send me a cross of
jet, and jet beads, with the dress, and a jet brooch, and a set of jet
buttons, in case--besides--oh! oh! oh!--I expect every moment to see
her carried home, all pale and wetted by the nasty sea--oh! oh!--and
an evening dress of the same--the newest fashion. I leave it to you;
don’t ask me any questions about it, for I can’t and won’t go into
that. I can try it on when it is made--oh! oh! oh!--it does not do to
love any creature as I loved my poor lost Lucy--and a black fan---oh!
oh!--and a dozen pair of black kid gloves--oh!--and a
mourning-ring--and--”

“Stop, aunt, or your love for me will be your ruin!” said Lucy,
coldly, and stood suddenly before the pair, looking rather cynical.

“What, Lucy! alive! No, her ghost--ah! ah!”

“Be calm, aunt; I am alive and well. Now, don’t be childish, dear; I
have been in danger, but here I am.”

Mrs. Bazalgette and Mrs. Baldwin flew together, and trembled in one
another’s arms. Lucy tried to soothe them, but at last could not help
laughing at them. This brought Baldwin to her senses quicker than
anything; but Mrs. Bazalgette, who, like many false women, was
hysterical, went off into spasms--genuine ones. They gave her
salts--in vain. Slapped her hands--in vain.

Then Lucy cried to Baldwin, “Quick! the tumbler; I must sprinkle her
face and bosom.”

“Oh, don’t spoil my lilac gown!” gasped the sufferer, and with a
mighty effort she came to. She would have come back from the edge of
the grave to shield silk from water. Finally she wreathed her arms
round Lucy, and kissed her so tenderly, warmly and sobbingly, that
Lucy got over the shock of her shallowness, and they kissed and cried
together most joyously, while Baldwin, after a heroic attempt at
jubilation, retired from the room with a face as long as your arm.
_A bas les revenants!!_ She went to the housekeeper’s room. The
housekeeper persuaded her to stay and take a bit of dinner, and soon
after dinner she was sent for to Mrs. Bazalgette’s room.

Lucy met her coming out of it. “I fear I came _mal apropos,_ Mrs.
Baldwin; if I had thought of it, I would have waited till you had
secured that munificent order.”

“I am much obliged to you, miss, I am sure; but you were always a
considerate young lady. You’ll be glad to learn, miss, it makes no
difference; I have got the order; it is all right.”

“That is fortunate,” replied Lucy, kindly, “otherwise I should have
been tempted to commit an extravagance with you myself. Well, and what
is my aunt’s new dress to be now?”

“Oh, the same, miss.”

“The same? why, she is not going into mourning on my return? ha! ha!”

“La bless you, miss, mourning? you can’t call that
mourning--_glace_ silk and love-ribbons scalloped out, and
cetera. Of course it was not my business to tell her so; but I could
not help thinking to myself, if that is the way my folk are going to
mourn for me, they may just let it alone. However, that is all over
now; and your aunt sent for me, and says she, ‘Black becomes
_me;_ you will make the dresses all the same.’” And Baldwin
retired radiant.

Lucy put her hand to her bosom. “Make the dresses all the same--all
the same, whether I am alive or dead. No, I will not cry; no, I will
not. Who is worth a tear? what is worth a tear? All the same. It is
not to be forgotten--nor forgiven. Poor Mr. Dodd!!”


Mr. Fountain learned the good news in the town, so his meeting with
Lucy was one of pure joy. Mr. Talboys did not hear anything. He had
business up in London, and did not stay ten minutes in ----.

The house revived, and _jubilabat, jubilabat._ But after the
first burst of triumph things went flat. David Dodd was gone, and was
missed; and Lucy was changed. She looked a shade older, and more than
one shade graver; and, instead of living solely for those who happened
to be basking in her rays, she was now and then comparatively
inattentive, thoughtful, and _distraite._

Mr. Fountain watched her keenly; ditto Mrs. Bazalgette. A slight
reaction had taken place in both their bosoms. “Hang the girl! there
were we breaking our hearts for her, and she was alive.” She had
“_beguiled_ them of their tears.”--Othello. But they still
loved her quite well enough to take charge of her fate.

A sort of itch for settling other people’s destinies, and so gaining a
title to their curses for our pragmatical and fatal interference, is
the commonest of all the forms of sanctioned lunacy.

Moreover, these two had imbibed the spirit of rivalry, and each was
stimulated by the suspicion that the other was secretly at work.

Lucy’s voluntary promise in the ballroom was a double sheet-anchor to
Mr. Fountain. It secured him against the only rival he dreaded.
Talboys, too, was out of the way just now, and the absence of the
suitor is favorable to his success, where the lady has no personal
liking for him. To work went our Machiavel again, heart and soul, and
whom do you think he had the cheek, or, as the French say, the
forehead, to try and win over?--Mrs. Bazalgette.

This bold step, however, was not so strange as it would have been a
month ago. The fact is, I have brought you unfairly close to this
pair. When you meet them in the world you will be charmed with both of
them, and recognize neither. There are those whose faults are all on
the surface: these are generally disliked; there are those whose
faults are all at the core: they charm creation. Mrs. Bazalgette is
allowed by both sexes to be the most delightful, amiable woman in the
county, and will carry that reputation to her grave. Fountain is “the
jolliest old buck ever went on two legs.” I myself would rather meet
twelve such agreeable humbugs--six of a sex--_at dinner_ than the
twelve apostles, and so would you, though you don’t know it. These
two, then, had long ere this found each other mighty agreeable. The
woman saw the man’s vanity, and flattered it. The man the woman’s, and
flattered it. Neither saw--am I to say?--his own or her own, or what?
Hang language!!! In short, they had long ago oiled one another’s
asperities, and their intercourse was smooth and frequent: they were
always chatting together--strewing flowers of speech over their mines
and countermines.

Mr. Fountain, then, who, in virtue of his sex, had the less patience,
broke ground.

“My dear Mrs. Bazalgette, I would not have missed this visit for a
thousand pounds. Certainly there is nothing like contact for rubbing
off prejudices. I little thought, when I first came here, the
principal attraction of the place would prove to be my fair hostess.”

“I know you were prejudiced, my dear Mr. Fountain. I can’t say I ever
had any against you, but certainly I did not know half your good
qualities. However, your courtesy to me when I invaded you at Font
Abbey prepared me for your real character; and now this visit, I
trust, makes us friends.”

“Ah! my dear Mrs. Bazalgette, one thing only is wanting to make you my
benefactor as well as friend--if I could only persuade you to withdraw
your powerful opposition to a poor old fellow’s dream.”

“What poor old fellow?”

“Me.”

“You? why, you are not so very old. You are not above fifty.”

“Ah! fair lady, you must not evade me. Come, can nothing soften you?”

“I don’t know what you mean, Mr. Fountain”; and the mellifluous tones
dried suddenly.

“You are too sagacious not to know everything; you know my heart is
set on marrying my niece to a man of ancient family.”

“With all my heart. You have only to use your influence with her. If
she consents, I will not oppose.”

“You cruel little lady, you know it is not enough to withdraw
opposition; I can’t succeed without your kind aid and support.”

“Now, Mr. Fountain, I am a great coward, but, really, I could almost
venture to scold you a little. Is not a poor little woman to be
allowed to set her heart on things as well as a poor old gentleman who
does not look fifty? You know my poor little heart is bent on her
marrying into our own set, yet you can ask me to influence her the
other way--me, who have never once said a word to her for my own
favorites! No; the fairest, kindest, and best way is to leave her to
select her own happiness.”

“A fine thing it would be if young people were left to marry who they
like,” retorted Fountain. “My dear lady, I would never have asked your
aid so long as there was the least chance of her marrying Mr. Hardie;
but, now that she has of her own accord declined him--”

“What is that? declined Mr. Hardie? when did he ever propose for her?”

“You misunderstand me. She came to me and told me she would never
marry him.”

“When was that? I don’t believe it.”

“It was in the ball-room.”

Mrs. Bazalgette reflected; then she turned very red. “Well, sir,” said
she, “don’t build too much on that; for four months ago she made me a
solemn promise she would never marry any lover you should find her,
and she repeated that promise in your very house.”

“I don’t believe it, madam.”

“That is polite, sir. Come, Mr. Fountain, you are agitated and cross,
and it is no use being cross either with me or with Lucy. You asked my
co-operation. You gentlemen can ask anything; and you are wise to do
these droll things; that is where you gain the advantage over us poor
cowards of women. Well, I will co-operate with you. Now listen. Lucy’s
_penchant_ is neither for Mr. Hardie, nor Mr. Talboys, but for
Mr. Dodd.”

“You don’t mean it?”

“Oh, she does not care _much_ for him; she has refused him to my
knowledge, and would again; besides, he is gone to India, so there is
an end of _him._ She seems a little languid and out of spirits;
it may be because he _is_ gone. Now, then, is the very time to
press a marriage upon her.”

“The very worst time, surely, if she is really such an idiot as to be
fretting for a fellow who is away.”

Mrs. Bazalgette informed her new ally condescendingly that he knew
nothing of the sex he had undertaken to tackle.

“When a cold-blooded girl like this, who has no strong attachment, is
out of spirits, and all that sort of thing, then is the time she falls
to any resolute wooer. She will yield if we both insist, and we
_will_ insist. Only keep your temper, and let nothing tempt you
to say an unkind word to her.”

She then rang the bell, and desired that Miss Fountain might be
requested to come into the drawing-room for a minute.

“But what are you going to do?”

“Give her the choice of two husbands--Mr. Talboys or Mr. Hardie.”

“She will take neither, I am afraid.”

“Oh, yes, she will.”

“Which?”

“Ah! the one she dislikes the least.”

“By Jove, you are right--you are an angel.” And the old gentleman in
his gratitude to her who was outwitting him, and vice versa,
kissed Mrs. Bazalgette’s hand with great devotion, in which act he was
surprised by Lucy, who floated through the folding-doors. She said
nothing, but her face volumes.

“Sit down, love.”

“Yes, aunt.”

She sat down, and her eye mildly bored both relatives, like, if you
can imagine a gentle gimlet, worked by insinuation, not force.

Then the favored Fountain enjoyed the inestimable privilege of
beholding a small bout of female fence.

The accomplished actress of forty began.

The novice held herself apparently all open with a sweet smile, the
eye being the only weapon that showed point.

“My love, your uncle and I, who were not always just to one another,
have been united by our love for you.”

“So I observed as I came in--ahem!”

“Henceforth we are one where your welfare is concerned, and we have
something serious to say to you now. There is a report, dearest,
creeping about that you have formed an unfortunate attachment--to a
person beneath you.”

“Who told you that, aunt? Name, as they say in the House.”

“No matter; these things are commonly said without foundation in this
wicked world; but, still, it is always worth our while to prove them
false, not, of course, directly--_‘qui s’excuse s’accuse’_--but
indirectly.”

“I agree with you, and I shall do so in my uncle’s presence. You were
present, aunt--though uninvited--when the gentleman you allude to
offered me what I consider a great honor, and you heard me decline it;
you are therefore fully able to contradict that report, whose source,
by the by, you have not given me, and of course you will contradict
it.”

Mrs. Bazalgette colored a little. But she said affectionately: “These
silly rumors are best contradicted by a good marriage, love, and that
brings me to something more important. We have two proposals for you,
and both of them excellent ones. Now, in a matter where your happiness
is at stake, your uncle and I are determined not to let our private
partialities speak. We do press you to select one of these offers, but
leave you quite free as to which you take. Mr. Talboys is a gentleman
of old family and large estates. Mr. Hardie is a wealthy, and able,
and rising man. They are both attached to you; both excellent matches.

“Whichever you choose your uncle and I shall both feel that an
excellent position for life is yours, and no regret that you did not
choose our especial favorite shall stain our joy or our love.” With
this generous sentiment tears welled from her eyes, whereat Fountain
worshiped her and felt his littleness.

But Lucy was of her own sex, and had observed what an unlimited
command of eye-water an hysterical female possesses. She merely bowed
her head graciously, and smiled politely. Thus encouraged to proceed,
her aunt dried her eyes with a smile, and with genial cheerfulness
proceeded: “Well, then, dear, which shall it be--Mr. Talboys?”

Lucy opened her eyes _so_ innocently. “My dear aunt, I wonder at
that question from you. Did you not make me promise you I would never
marry that gentleman, nor any friend of my uncle’s?”

“And did you?” cried Fountain.

“I did,” replied the penitent, hanging her head. “My aunt was so kind
to me about something or other, I forget what.”

Fountain bounced up and paced the room.

Mrs. Bazalgette lowered her voice: “It is to be Mr. Hardie, then?”

“Mr. Hardie!!!” cried Lucy, rather loudly, to attract her uncle’s
attention.

“Oh, no, the same objection applies there; I made my uncle a solemn
promise not to marry any friend of yours, aunt. Poor uncle! I refused
at first, but he looked so unhappy my resolution failed, and I gave my
promise. I will keep it, uncle. Don’t fear me.”

It caused Mrs. Bazalgette a fierce struggle to command her temper.
Both she and Fountain were dumb for a minute; then elastic Mrs.
Bazalgette said:

“We were both to blame; you and I did not really know each other. The
best thing we can do now is to release the poor girl from these silly
promises, that stand in the way of her settlement in life.”

“I agree, madam.”

“So do I. There, Lucy, choose, for we both release you.”

“Thank you,” said Lucy gravely; “but how can you? No unfair advantage
was taken of me; I plighted my word knowingly and solemnly, and no
human power can release persons of honor from a solemn pledge.
Besides, just now you would release me; but you might not always be in
the same mind. No, I will keep faith with you both, and not place my
truth at the mercy of any human being nor of any circumstance. If that
is all, please permit me to retire. The less a young lady of my age
thinks or talks about the other sex, the more time she has for her
books and her needle;” and, having delivered this precious sentence,
with a deliberate and most deceiving imitation of the pedantic prude,
she departed, and outside the door broke instantly into a joyous
chuckle at the expense of the plotters she had left looking moonstruck
in one another’s faces. If the new allies had been both Fountain, the
apple of discord this sweet novice threw down between them would have
dissolved the alliance, as the sly novice meant it to do; but, while
the gentleman went storming about the room ripe for civil war, the
lady leaned back in her chair and laughed heartily.

“Come, Mr. Fountain, it is no use your being cross with a female, or
she will get the better of you. She has outwitted us. We took her for
a fool, and she is a clever girl. I’ll--tell--you--what, she is a very
clever girl. Never mind that, she is only a girl; and, if you will be
ruled by me, her happiness shall be secured in spite of her, and she
shall be engaged in less than a week.”

Fountain recognized his superior, and put himself under the lady’s
orders--in an evil hour for Lucy.

The poor girl’s triumph over the forces was but momentary; her ground
was not tenable. The person promised can release the person who
promises--_volenti non fit injuria._ Lucy found herself attacked
with female weapons, that you and I, sir, should laugh at; but they
made her miserable. Cold looks; short answers; solemnity; distance;
hints at ingratitude and perverseness; kisses intermitted all day, and
the parting one at night degraded to a dignified ceremony. Under this
impalpable persecution the young thoroughbred, that had steered the
boat across the breakers, winced and pined.

She did not want a husband or a lover, but she could not live without
being loved. She was not sent into the world for that. She began
secretly to hate the two gentlemen that had lost her her relations’
affection, and she looked round to see how she could get rid of them
without giving fresh offense to her dear aunt and uncle. If she could
only make it their own act! Now a man in such a case inclines to give
the obnoxious parties a chance of showing themselves generous and
delicate; he would reveal the whole situation to them, and indicate
the generous and manly course; but your thorough woman cannot do this.
It is physically as well as morally impossible to her. Misogynists say
it is too wise, and not cunning enough. So what does Miss Lucy do but
turn round and make love to Captain Kenealy? And the cold virgin being
at last by irrevocable fate driven to love-making, I will say this for
her, she did not do it by halves. She felt quite safe here. The
good-natured, hollow captain was fortified against passion by
self-admiration. She said to herself: “Now here is a peg with a
military suit hanging to it; if I can only fix my eyes on this piece
of wood and regimentals, and make warm love to it, the love that poets
have dreamed and romances described, I may surely hope to disgust my
two admirers, and then they will abandon me and despise me. Ah! I
could love them if they would only do that.”

Well, for a young lady that had never, to her knowledge, felt the
tender passion, the imitation thereof which she now favored that
little society with was a wonderful piece of representation. Was
Kenealy absent, behold Lucy uneasy and restless; was he present; but
at a distance, her eye demurely devoured him; was he near her, she
wooed him with such a god-like mixture of fire, of tenderness, of
flattery, of tact; she did so serpentinely approach and coil round the
soldier and his mental cavity, that all the males in creation should
have been permitted to defile past (like the beasts going into the
ark), and view this sweet picture a moment, and infer how women would
be wooed, and then go and do it. Effect:

Talboys and Hardie mortified to the heart’s core; thought they had
altogether mistaken her character. “She is a love-sick fool.”

On Bazalgette: “Ass! Dodd was worth a hundred of him.”

On Kenealy: made him twirl his mustache.

On Fountain: filled him with dismay. There remained only one to be
hoodwinked.

           SCENA.

A letter is brought in and handed to Captain Kenealy. He reads it, and
looks a little--a very little--vexed. Nobody else notices it.

Lucy. “What is the matter? Oh, what has occurred?”

Kenealy. “Nothing particulaa.”

Lucy. “Don’t deceive us: it is an order for you to join the
horrid army.” (Clasps her hands.) “You are going to leave us.”

Kenealy. “No, it is from my tailaa. He waunts to be paed.”
 (Glares astonished.)

Lucy. “Pay the creature, and nevermore employ him.”

Kenealy. “Can’t. Haven’t got the money. Uncle won’t daie. The
begaa knows I can’t pay him, that is the reason why he duns.”

Lucy. “He knows it? then what business has he to annoy you
thus? Take my advice. Return no reply. That is not courteous. But when
the sole motive of an application is impertinence, silent contempt is
the course best befitting your dignity.”

Kenealy (twirling his mustache). “Dem the fellaa. Shan’t take
any notice of him.”

Mrs. Bazalgette (to Lucy in passing). “Do you think we are all
fools?”

_Ibi omnis effusus amor;_ for La Bazalgette undeceived her ally
and Mr. Hardie, and the screw was put harder still on poor Lucy. She
was no longer treated like an equal, but made for the first time to
feel that her uncle and aunt were her elders and superiors, and, that
she was in revolt. All external signs of affection were withdrawn, and
this was like docking a strawberry of its water. A young girl may have
flashes of spirit, heroism even, but her mind is never steel from top
to toe; it is sure to be wax in more places than one.

“Nobody loves me now that poor Mr. Dodd is gone,” sighed Lucy. “Nobody
ever will love me unless I consent to sacrifice myself. Well, why not?
I shall never love any gentleman as others of my sex can love. I will
go and see Mrs. Wilson.”

So she ordered out her captain, and rode to Mrs. Wilson, and made her
captain hold her pony while she went in. Mrs. Wilson received her with
a tenor scream of delight that revived Lucy’s heart to hear, and then
it was nothing but one broad gush of hilarity and cordiality--showed
her the house, showed her the cows, showed her the parlor at last, and
made her sit down.

“Come, set ye down, set ye down, and let me have a downright good look
at ye. It is not often I clap eyes on ye, or on anything like ye, for
that matter. Aren’t ye well, my dear?”

“Oh yes.”

“Are ye sure? Haven’t ye ailed anything since I saw ye up at the
house?”

“No, dear nurse.”

“Then you are in care. Bless you, it is not the same face--to a
stranger, belike, but not to the one that suckled you. Why, there is
next door to a wrinkle on your pretty brow, and a little hollow under
your eye, and your face is drawn like, and not half the color. You are
in trouble or grief of some sort, Miss Lucy; and--who knows?--mayhap
you be come to tell it your poor old nurse. You might go to a worse
part. Ay! what touches you will touch me, my nursling dear, all one as
if it was your own mother.”

“Ah! _you_ love me,” cried Lucy; “I don’t know why you love me
so; I have not deserved it of you, as I have of others that look
coldly on me. Yes, you love me, or you would not read my face like
this. It is true, I am a little--Oh, nurse, I am unhappy;” and in a
moment she was weeping and sobbing in Mrs. Wilson’s arms.

The Amazon sat down with her, and rocked to and fro with her as if she
was still a child. “Don’t check it, my lamb,” said she; “have a good
cry; never drive a cry back on your heart”; and so Lucy sobbed and
sobbed, and Mrs. Wilson rocked her.

When she had done sobbing she put up a grateful face and kissed Mrs.
Wilson. But the good woman would not let her go. She still rocked with
her, and said, “Ay, ay, it wasn’t for nothing I was drawed so to go to
your house that day. I didn’t know you were there; but I was drawed. I
WAS WANTED. Tell me all, my lamb; never keep grief on your heart; give
it a vent; put a part on’t on me; I do claim it; you will see how much
lighter your heart will feel. Is it a young man?”

“Oh no, no; I hate young men; I wish there were no such things. But for
them no dissension could ever have entered the house. My uncle and
aunt both loved me once, and oh! they were so kind to me. Yes; since
you permit me, I will tell you all.”

And she told her a part.

She told her the whole Talboys and Hardie part.

Mrs. Wilson took a broad and somewhat vulgar view of the distress.

“Why, Miss Lucy,” said she, “if that is all, you can soon sew up their
stockings. You don’t depend on _them,_ anyways: you are a young
lady of property.”

“Oh, am I?”

“Sure. I have heard your dear mother say often as all her money was
settled on you by deed. Why, you must be of age, Miss Lucy, or near
it.”

“The day after to-morrow, nurse.”

“There now! I knew your birthday could not be far off. Well, then, you
must wait till you are of age, and then, if they torment you or put on
you, ‘Good-morning,’ says you; ‘if we can’t agree together, let’s
agree to part,’ says you.”

“What! leave my relations!!”

“It is their own fault. Good friends before bad kindred! They only
want to make a handle of you to get ‘em rich son-in-laws. You pluck up
a sperrit, Miss Lucy. There’s no getting through the world without a
bit of a sperrit. You’ll get put upon at every turn else; and if they
don’t vally you in that house, why, off to another; y’ain’t chained to
their door, I do suppose.”

“But, nurse, a young lady cannot live by herself: there is no instance
of it.”

“All wisdom had a beginning. ‘Oh, shan’t I spoil the pudding once I
cut it?’ quoth Jack’s wife.”

“What would people say?”

“What could they say? You come to me, which I am all the mother you
have got left upon earth, and what scandal could they make out of
that, I should like to know? Let them try it. But don’t let me catch
it atween their lips, or down they do go on the bare ground, and their
caps in pieces to the winds of heaven;” and she flourished her hand
and a massive arm with a gesture free, inspired, and formidable.

“Ah! nurse, with you I should indeed feel safe from every ill. But,
for all that, I shall never go beyond the usages of society. I shall
never leave my aunt’s house.”

“I don’t say as you will. But I shall get your room ready this
afternoon, and no later.”

“No, nurse, you must not do that.”

“Tell’ee I shall. Then, whether you come or not, there ‘tis. And when
they put on you, you have no call to fret. Says you, ‘There’s my room
awaiting, and likewise my welcome, too, at Dame Wilson’s; I don’t need
to stand no more nonsense here than I do choose,’ says you. Dear
heart! even a little foolish, simple thought like that will help keep
your sperrit up. You’ll see else--you’ll see.”

“Oh, nurse, how wise you are! You know human nature.”

“Well, I am older than you, miss, a precious sight; and if I hadn’t
got one eye open at this time of day, why, when should I, you know?”


After this, a little home-made wine forcibly administered, and then
much kissing, and Lucy rode away revivified and cheered, and quite
another girl. Her spirits rose so that she proposed to Kenealy to
extend their ride by crossing the country to ----. She wanted to buy
some gloves.

“Yaas,” said the assenter; and off they cantered.

In the glove-shop who should Lucy find but Eve Dodd. She held out her
hand, but Eve affected not to observe, and bowed distantly. Lucy would
not take the hint. After a pause she said:

“Have you any news of Mr. Dodd?”

“I have,” was the stiff reply.

“He left us without even saying good-by.”

“Did he?”

“Yes, after saving all our lives. Need I say that we are anxious, in
our turn, to hear of his safety? It was still very tempestuous when he
left us to catch the great ship, and he was in an open boat.”

“My brother is alive, Miss Fountain, if that is what you wish to
know.”

“Alive? is he not well? has he met with any accident? any misfortune?
is he in the East Indiaman? has he written to you?”

“You are very curious: it is rather late in the day; but, if I am to
speak about my brother, it must be at home, and not in an open shop. I
can’t trust my feelings.”

“Are you going home, Miss Dodd?”

“Yes.”

“Shall I come with you?”

“If you like: it is close by.”

Lucy’s heart quaked. Eve was so stern, and her eyes like basilisks’.

“Sit down, Miss Fountain, and I will tell you what you have done for
my brother. I did not court this, you know; I would have avoided your
eye if I could; it is your doing.”

“Yes, Miss Dodd,” faltered Lucy, “and I should do it again. I have a
right to inquire after his welfare who saved my life.”

“Well, then, Miss Fountain, his saving your life has lost him his ship
and ruined him for life.”

“Oh!”

“He came in sight of the ship; but the captain, that was jealous of
him like all the rest, made all sail and ran from him: he chased her,
and often was near catching her, but she got clear out of the Channel,
and my poor David had to come back disgraced, ruined for life, and
broken-hearted. The Company will never forgive him for deserting his
ship. His career is blighted, and all for one that never cared a straw
for him. Oh, Miss Fountain, it was an evil day for my poor brother
when first he saw your face!” Eve would have said more, for her heart
was burning with wrath and bitterness, but she was interrupted.

Lucy raised both her hands to Heaven, and then, bowing her head, wept
tenderly and humbly.

A woman’s tears do not always affect another woman; but one reason is,
they are very often no sign of grief or of any worthy feeling. The
sex, accustomed to read the nicer shades of emotion, distinguishes
tears of pique, tears of disappointment, tears of spite, tears
various, from tears of grief. But Lucy’s was a burst of regret so
sincere, of sorrow and pity so tender and innocent that it fell on
Eve’s hot heart like the dew.

“Ah! well,” she cried, “it was to be, it was to be; and I suppose I
oughtn’t to blame you. But all he does for you tells against himself,
and that does seem hard. It isn’t as if he and you were anything to
one another; then I shouldn’t grudge it so much. He has lost his
character as a seaman.”

“Oh dear!”

“He valued it a deal more than his life. He was always ready to throw
THAT away for you or anybody else. He has lost his standing in the
_service.”_

“Oh!”

“You see he has no interest, like some of them; he only got on by
being better and cleverer than all the rest; so the Company won’t
listen to any excuses from him, and, indeed, he is too proud to make
them.”

“He will never be captain of a ship now?”

“Captain of a ship! Will he ever leave the bed of sickness he lies
on?”

“The bed of sickness! Is he ill? Oh, what have I done?”

“Is he ill? What! do you think my brother is made of iron? Out all
night with you--then off, with scarce a wink of sleep; then two days
and two nights chasing the _Combermere,_ sometimes gaining,
sometimes losing, and his credit and his good name hanging on it; then
to beat back against wind, heartbroken, and no food on board--”

“Oh, it is too horrible.”

“He staggered into me, white as a ghost. I got him to bed: he was in a
burning fever. In the night he was lightheaded, and all his talk was
about you. He kept fretting lest you should not have got safe home. It
is always so. We care the most for those that care the least for us.”

“Is he in the Indiaman?”

“No, Miss Fountain, he is not in the Indiaman,” cried Eve, her wrath
suddenly rising again; “he lies there, Miss Fountain, in that room, at
death’s door, and you to thank for it.”

At this stab Lucy uttered a cry like a wounded deer. But this cry was
followed immediately by one of terror: the door opened suddenly, and
there stood David Dodd, looking as white as his sister had said, but,
as usual, not in the humor to succumb. “Me at death’s port, did you
say?” cried he, in a loud tone of cheerful defiance; “tell that to the
marines!!”



CHAPTER XXII.

“I HEARD your voice, Miss Lucy; I would know it among a million; so I
rigged myself directly. Why, what is the matter?”

“Oh, Mr. Dodd,” sobbed Lucy, “she has told me all you have gone
through, and I am the wicked, wicked cause!”

David groaned. “If I didn’t think as much. I heard the mill going. Ah!
Eve, my girl, your jawing-tackle is too well hung. Eve is a good
sister to me, Miss Lucy, and, where I am concerned, let her alone for
making a mountain out of a mole-hill. If you believe all she says, you
are to blame. The thing that went to my heart was to see my skipper
run out his stunsel booms the moment he saw me overhauling him; it was
a dirty action, and him an old shipmate. I am glad now I couldn’t
catch her, for if I had my foot would not have been on the deck two
seconds before his carcass would have been in the Channel. And pray,
Eve, what has Miss Fountain got to do with that? the dirty lubber
wasn’t bred at her school, or he would not have served an old messmate
so.

“Belay all that, and let’s hear something worth hearing. Now, Miss
Lucy, you tell me--oh, Lord, Eve, I say, isn’t the thundering old
dingy room bright now?--you spin me your own yarn, if you will be so
good. Here you are, safe and sound, the Lord be praised! But I left
you under the lee of that thundering island: wasn’t very polite, was
it? but you will excuse, won’t you? Duty, you know--a seaman must
leave his pleasure for his duty. Tell me, now, how did you come on?
Was the vessel comfortable? You would not sail till the wind fell? Had
you a good voyage? A tiresome one, I am afraid: the sloop wasn’t built
for fast sailing. When did you land?”

To this fire of eager questions Lucy was in no state to answer. “Oh,
no, Mr. Dodd,” she cried, “I can’t. I am choking. Yes, Miss Dodd, I am
the heartless, unfeeling girl you think me.” Then, with a sudden dart,
she took David’s hand and kissed it, and, both her hands hiding her
blushing face, she fled, and a single sob she let fall at the door was
the last of her. So sudden was her exit, it left both brother and
sister stupefied.

“Eve, she is offended,” said David, with dismay.

“What if she is?” retorted Eve; “no, she is not offended; but I have
made her feel at last, and a good job, too. Why should she escape? she
has done all the mischief. Come, you go to bed.”

“Not I; I have been long enough on my beam-ends. And I have heard her
voice, and have seen her face, and they have put life into me. I shall
cruise about the port. I have gone to leeward of John Company’s favor,
but there are plenty of coasting-vessels; I may get the command of
one. I’ll try; a seaman never strikes his flag while there’s a shot in
the locker.”


“Here, put me up, Captain Kenealy! Oh, do pray make haste! don’t
dawdle so!” Off cantered Lucy, and fanned her pony along without
mercy. At the door of the house she jumped off without assistance, and
ran to Mr. Bazalgette’s study, and knocked hastily, and that gentleman
was not a little surprised when this unusual visitor came to his side
with some signs of awe at having penetrated his sanctum, but evidently
driven by an overpowering excitement. “Oh, Uncle Bazalgette! Oh, Uncle
Bazalgette!”

“Why, what is the matter? Why, the child is ill. Don’t gasp like that,
Lucy. Come, pluck up courage; I am sure to be on your side, you know.
What is it?”

“Uncle, you are always so kind to me; you know you are.”

“Oh, am I? Noble old fellow!”

“Oh, don’t make me laugh! ha! ha! oh! oh! oh! ha! oh!”

“Confound it, I have sent her into hysterics; no, she is coming round.
Ten thousand million devils, has anybody been insulting the child in
my house? They have. My wife, for a guinea.”

“No, no, no. It is about Mr. Dodd.”

“Mr. Dodd? oho!”

“I have ruined him.”

“How have you managed that, my dear?”

Then Lucy, all in a flutter, told Mr. Bazalgette what the reader has
just learned.

He looked grave. “Lucy,” said he, “be frank with me. Is not Mr. Dodd
in love with you?”

“I _will_ be frank with _you,_ dear uncle, because you are
frank. Poor Mr. Dodd did love me once; but I refused him, and so his
good sense and manliness cured him directly.”

“So, now that he no longer loves you, you love him; that is so like
you girls.”

“Oh, no, uncle; how ridiculous! If I loved Mr. Dodd, I could repair
the cruel injuries I have done him with a single word. I have only to
recall my refusal, and he--But I do not love Mr. Dodd. Esteem him I
do, and he has saved my life; and is he to lose his health, and his
character, and his means of honorable ambition for that? Do you not
see how shocking this is, and how galling to my pride? Yes, uncle, I
_have_ been insulted. His sister told me to my face it was an
evil day for him when he and I first met--that was at Uncle
Fountain’s.”

“Well, and what am I to do, Lucy?”

“Dear Uncle, what I thought was, if you would be so kind as to use
your influence with the Company in his favor. Tell them that if he did
miss his ship it was not by a fault, but by a noble virtue; tell them
that it was to save a fellow creature’s life--a young lady’s life--one
that did not deserve it from him, your own niece’s; tell them it is
not for your honor he should be disgraced. Oh, uncle, you know what to
say so much better than I do.”

Bazalgette grinned, and straightway resolved to perpetrate a practical
joke, and a very innocent one. “Well,” said he, “the best way I can
think of to meet your views will be, I think, to get him appointed to
the new ship the Company is building.”

Lucy opened her eyes, and the blood rushed to her cheek. “Oh uncle, do
I hear right? a ship? Are you so powerful? are you so kind? do you
love your poor niece so well as all this? Oh, Uncle Bazalgette!”

“There is no end to my power,” said the old man, solemnly; “no limit
to my goodness, no bounds to my love for my poor niece. Are you in a
hurry, my poor niece? Shall we have his commission down to-morrow, or
wait a month?”

“To-morrow? is it possible? Oh, yes! I count the minutes till I say to
his sister, ‘There, Miss Dodd, I have friends who value me too highly
to let me lie under these galling obligations.’ Dear, dear uncle, I
don’t mind being under them to you, because I love you” (kisses).

“And not Mr. Dodd?”

“No, dear; and that is the reason I would rather give him a ship
than--the only other thing that would make him happy. And really, but
for your goodness, I should have been tempted to--ha! ha! Oh, I am so
happy now. No; much as I admire my preserver’s courage and delicacy
and unselfishness and goodness, I don’t love him; so, but for this, he
MUST have been unhappy for life, and then I should have been miserable
forever.”

“Perfectly clear and satisfactory, my dear. Now, if the commission is
to be down to-morrow, you must not stay here, because I have other
letters to write, to go by the same courier that takes my application
for the ship.”

“And do you really think I will go till I have kissed you, Uncle
Bazalgette?”

“On a subject so important, I hardly venture to give an opin--hallo!
kissing, indeed? Why, it is like a young wolf flying at horseflesh.”

“Then that will teach you not to be kinder to me than anybody else
is.”

Lucy ran out radiant and into the garden. Here she encountered
Kenealy, and, coming on him with a blaze of beauty and triumph, fired
a resolution that had smoldered in him a day or two.

He twirled his mustache and--popped briefly.



CHAPTER XXIII.

AFTER the first start of rueful astonishment, the indignation of the
just fired Lucy’s eyes.

She scolded him well. “Was this his return for all her late kindness?”

She hinted broadly at the viper of Aesop, and indicated more faintly
an animal that, when one bestows the choicest favors on it, turns and
rends one. Then, becoming suddenly just to the brute creation, she
said: “No, it is only your abominable sex that would behave so
perversely, so ungratefully.”

“Don’t understand,” drawled Kenealy, “I thought you would laike it.”

“Well, you see, I don’t laike it.”

“You seemed to be getting rather spooney on me.”

“Spooney! what is that? one of your mess-room terms, I suppose.”

“Yaas; so I thought you waunted me to pawp.”

“Captain Kenealy, this subterfuge is unworthy of you. You know
perfectly well why I distinguished you. Others pestered me with their
attachments and nonsense, and you spared me that annoyance. In return,
I did all in my power to show you the grateful friendship I thought
you worthy of. But you have broken faith; you have violated the clear,
though tacit understanding that subsisted between us, and I am very
angry with you. I have some little influence left with my aunt, sir,
and, unless I am much mistaken, you will shortly rejoin the army,
sir.”

“What a boa! what a dem’d boa!”

“And don’t swear; that is another foolish custom you gentlemen have;
it is almost as foolish as the other. Yes, I’ll tell my aunt of you,
and then you will see.”

“What a boa! How horrid spaiteful you are.”

“Well, I am rather vindictive. But my aunt is ten times worse, as her
deserter shall find, unless--”

“Unless whawt?”

“Unless you beg my pardon directly.” And at this part of the
conversation Lucy was fain to turn her head away, for she found it
getting difficult to maintain that severe countenance which she
thought necessary to clothe her words with terror, and subjugate the
gallant captain.

“Well, then, I apolojaize,” said Kenealy.

“And I accept your apology; and don’t do it again.”

“I won’t, ‘pon honaa. Look heah; I swear I didn’t mean to affront yah;
I don’t waunt yah to mayrry me; I only proposed out of civility.”

“Come, then, it was not so black as it appeared. Courtesy is a good
thing; and if you thought that, after staying a month in a house, you
were bound by etiquette to propose to the marriageable part of it, it
is pardonable, only don’t do it again, _please.”_

“I’ll take caa--I’ll take caa. I say your tempaa is not--quite--what
those other fools think it is--no, by Jove;” and the captain glared.

“Nonsense: I am only a little fiendish on this one point. Well, then,
steer clear of it, and you will find me a good crechaa on every
other.”

Kenealy vowed he would profit by the advice.

“Then there is my hand: we are friends again.”

“You won’t tell your aunt, nor the other fellaas?”

“Captain Kenealy, I am not one of your garrison ladies; I am a young
person who has been educated; your extra civility will never be known
to a soul: and you shall not join the army but as a volunteer.”

“Then, dem me, Miss Fountain, if I wouldn’t be cut in pieces to
oblaige you. Just you tray me, and you’ll faind, if I am not very
braight, I am a man of honah. If those ether begaas annoy you, jaast
tell me, and I’ll parade ‘em at twelve paces, dem me.”

“I must try and find some less insane vent for your friendly feelings;
and what can I do for you?”

“Yah couldn’t go on pretending to be spooney on me, could yah?”

“Oh, no, no. What for?”

“I laike it; makes the other begaas misable.”

“What worthy sentiments! it is a sin to balk them. I am sure there is
no reason why I should not appear to adore you in public, so long as
you let me keep my distance in private; but persons of my sex cannot
do just what they would like. We have feelings that pull us this way
and that, and, after all this, I am afraid I shall never have the
courage to play those pranks with you again; and that is a pity, since
it amused you, and teased those that tease me.”

In short, the house now contained two “holy alliances” instead of one.
Unfortunately for Lucy, the hostile one was by far the stronger of the
two; and even now it was preparing a terrible coup.

This evening the storm that was preparing blew good to one of a
depressed class, which cannot fail to gratify the just.

Mrs. Bazalgette. “Jane, come to my room a minute; I have
something for you. Here is a cashmere gown and cloak; the cloak I
want; I can wear it with anything; but you may have the gown.”

“Oh, thank you, mum; it is beautiful, and a’most as good as new. I am
sure, mum, I am very much obliged to you for your kindness.”

“No, no, you are a good girl, and a sensible girl. By the by, you
might give me your opinion upon something. Does Miss Lucy prefer any
one of our guests? You understand me.”

“Well, mum, it is hard to say. Miss Lucy is as reserved as ever.”

“Oh, I thought she might--ahem!”

“No, mum, I do assure you, not a word.”

“Well, but you are a shrewd girl; tell me what you think: now, for
instance, suppose she was compelled to choose between, say Mr. Hardie
and Mr. Talboys, which would it be?”

“Well, mum, if you ask my opinion, I don’t think Miss Lucy is the one
to marry a fool; and by all accounts, there’s a deal more in Mr.
Hardies’s head than what there isn’t in Mr. Talboysese’s.”

“You are a clever girl. You shall have the cloak as well, and, if my
niece marries, you shall remain in her service all the same.”

“Thank you kindly, mum. I don’t desire no better mistress, married or
single; and Mr. Hardies is much respected in the town, and heaps o’
money; so miss and me we couldn’t do no better, neither of us. Your
servant, mum, and thanks you for your bounty”; and Jane courtesied
twice and went off with the spoils.

In the corridor she met old Fountain. “Stop, Jane,” said he, “I want
to speak to you.”

“At your service, sir.”

“In the first place, I want to give you something to buy a new gown”;
and he took out a couple of sovereigns. “Where am I to put them? in
your breast-pocket?”

“Put them under the cloak, sir,” murmured Jane, tenderly. She loved
sovereigns.

He put his hand under the heap of cashmere, and a quick little claw
hit the coins and closed on them by almighty instinct.

“Now I want to ask your opinion. Is my niece in love with anyone?”

“Well, Mr. Fountains, if she is she don’t show it.”

“But doesn’t she like one man better than another?”

“You may take your oath of that, if we could but get to her mind.”

“Which does she like best, this Hardie or Mr. Talboys? Come, tell me,
now.”

“Well, sir, you know Mr. Talboys is an old acquaintance, and like
brother and sister at Font Abbey. I do suppose she have been a scare
of times alone with him for one, with Mr. Hardie’s. That she should
take up with a stranger and jilt an old acquaintance, now is it
feasible?”

“Why, of course not. It was a foolish question; you are a young woman
of sense. Here’s a 5 pound note for you. You must not tell I spoke to
you.”

“Now is it likely, sir? My character would be broken forever.”

“And you shall be with my niece when she is Mrs. Talboys.”

“I might do worse, sir, and so might she. He is respected far and
wide, and a grand house, and a carriage and four, and everything to
make a lady comfortable. Your servant, sir, and wishes you many
thanks.”

“And such as Jane was, all true servants are.”

The ancients used to bribe the Oracle of Delphi. Curious.



CHAPTER XXIV.

Lucy’s twenty-first birthday dawned, but it was not to her the gay
exulting day it is to some. Last night her uncle and aunt had gone a
step further, and, instead of kissing her ceremoniously, had evaded
her. They were drawing matters to a climax: once of age, each day
would make her more independent in spirit as in circumstances. This
morning she hoped custom would shield her from unkindness for one day
at least. But no, they made it clear there was but one way back to
their smiles. Their congratulations at the breakfast-table were cold
and constrained; her heart fell; and long before noon on her birthday
she was crying. Thus weakened, she had to encounter a thoroughly
prepared attack. Mr. Bazalgette summoned her to his study at one
o’clock, and there she found him and Mrs. Bazalgette and Mr. Fountain
seated solemnly in conclave. The merchant was adding up figures.

“Come, now, business,” said he. “Dick has added them up: his figures
are in that envelope; break the seal and open it, Lucy. If his total
corresponds with mine, we are right; if not, I am wrong, and you will
all have to go over it with me till we are right.” A general groan
followed this announcement. Luckily, the sum totals corresponded to a
fraction.

Then Mr. Bazalgette made Lucy a little speech.

“My dear, in laying down that office which your amiable nature has
rendered so agreeable, I feel a natural regret on your account that
the property my colleague there and I have had to deal with on your
account has not been more important. However, as far as it goes, we
have been fortunate. Consols have risen amazingly since we took you
off land and funded you. The rise in value of your little capital
since your mother’s death is calculated on this card. You have, also,
some loose cash, which I will hand over to you immediately. Let me
see--eleven hundred and sixty pounds and five shillings. Write your
name in full on that paper, Lucy.”

He touched a bell; a servant came. He wrote a line and folded it,
inclosing Lucy’s signature.

“Let this go to Mr. Hardie’s bank immediately. Hardie will give you
three per cent for your money. Better than nothing. You must have a
check-book. He sent me a new one yesterday. Here it is; you shall have
it. I wonder whether you know how to draw a check?”

“No, uncle.”

“Look here, then. You note the particulars first on this counter-foil,
which thus serves in some degree for an account-book. In drawing the
check, place the sum in letters close to these printed words, and the
sum in figures close to the pound. For want of this precaution, the
holder of the check has been known to turn a 10 pound check into 110
pounds.”

“Oh how wicked!”

“Mind what you say. Dexterity is the only virtue left in England; so
we must be on our guard, especially in what we write with our name
attached.”

“I must say, Mr. Bazalgette, you are unwise to put such a sum of money
into a young girl’s hands.”

“The young girl has been a woman an hour and ten minutes, and come
into her property, movables, and cash aforesaid.”

“If you were her real friend, you would take care of her money for her
till she marries.”

“The eighth commandment, my dear, the eighth commandment, and other
primitive axioms: _suum cuique,_ and such odd sayings: ‘Him as
keeps what isn’t hisn, soon or late shall go to prison,’ with similar
apothegms. Total: let us keep the British merchant and the Newgate
thief as distinct as the times permit. Fountain and Bazalgette,
account squared, books closed, and I’m off!”

“Oh, uncle, pray stay!” said Lucy. “When you are by me, Rectitude and
Sense seem present in person, and I can lean on them.”

“Lean on yourself; the law has cut your leading-strings. Why patch
‘em? It has made you a woman from a baby. Rise to your new rank.
Rectitude and Sense are just as much wanted in the town of ----, where
I am due, as they are in this house. Besides, Sense has spoken
uninterrupted for ten minutes; prodigious! so now it is Nonsense’s
turn for the next ten hours.” He made for the door; then suddenly
returning, said: “I will leave a grain of sense, etc., behind me. What
is marriage? Do you give it up? Marriage is a contract. Who are the
parties? the papas and mammas, uncles and aunts? By George, you would
think so to hear them talk. No, the contract is between two parties,
and these two only. It is a printed contract. Anybody can read it
gratis. None but idiots sign a contract without reading it; none but
knaves sign a contract which, having read, they find they cannot
execute. Matrimony is a mercantile affair; very well, then, import
into it sound mercantile morality. Go to market; sell well; but, d--n
it all, deliver the merchandise as per sample, viz., a woman warranted
to love, honor and obey the purchaser. If you swindle the other
contracting party in the essentials of the contract, don’t complain
when you are unhappy. Are shufflers entitled to happiness? and what
are those who shuffle and prevaricate in a church any better than
those who shuffle and prevaricate in a counting-house?” and the brute
bolted.

“My husband is a worthy man,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, languidly, “but
now and then he makes me blush for him.”

“Our good friend is a humorist,” replied Fountain, good-humoredly,
“and dearly loves a paradox”; and they pooh-poohed him without a
particle of malice.

Then Mrs. Bazalgette turned to Lucy, and hoped that she did her the
justice to believe she had none but affectionate motives in wishing to
see her speedily established.

“Oh no, aunt,” said Lucy. “Why should you wish to part with me? I give
you but little trouble in your great house.”

“Trouble, child? you know you are a comfort to have in any house.”

This pleased Lucy; it was the first gracious word for a long time.
Having thus softened her, Mrs. Bazalgette proceeded to attack her by
all the weaknesses of her sex and age, and for a good hour pressed her
so hard that the tears often gushed from Lucy’s eyes over her red
cheeks. The girl was worn by the length of the struggle and the
pertinacity of the assault. She was as determined as ever to do
nothing, but she had no longer the power to resist in words. Seeing
her reduced to silence, and not exactly distinguishing between
impassibility and yielding, Mrs. Bazalgette delivered the
_coup-de-grace._

“I must now tell you plainly, Lucy, that your character is compromised
by being out all night with persons of the other sex. I would have
spared you this, but your resistance compels those who love you to
tell you all. Owing to that unfortunate trip, you are in such a
situation that you _must_ marry.”

“The world is surely not so unjust as all this,” sighed Lucy.

“You don’t know the world as I do,” was the reply. “And those who live
in it cannot defy it. I tell you plainly, Lucy, neither your uncle nor
I can keep you any longer, except as an engaged person. And even that
engagement ought to be a very short one.”

“What, aunt? what, uncle? your house is no longer mine?” and she
buried her head upon the table.

“Well, Lucy,” said Mr. Fountain, “of course we would not have told you
this yesterday. It would have been ungenerous. But you are now your
own mistress; you are independent. Young persons in your situation can
generally forget in a day or two a few years of kindness. You have now
an opportunity of showing us whether you are one of that sort.”

Here Mrs. Bazalgette put in her word. “You will not lack people to
encourage you in ingratitude--perhaps my husband himself; but if he
does, it will make a lasting breach between him and me, of which you
will have been the cause.”

“Heaven forbid!” said Lucy, with a shudder. “Why should dear Mr.
Bazalgette be drawn into my troubles? He is no relation of mine, only
a loyal friend, whom may God bless and reward for his kindness to a
poor fatherless, motherless girl. Aunt, uncle, if you will let me stay
with you, I will be more kind, more attentive to you than I have been.
Be persuaded; be advised. If you succeeded in getting rid of me, you
might miss me, indeed you might. I know all your little ways so well.”

“Lucy, we are not to be tempted to do wrong,” said Mrs. Bazalgette,
sternly. “Choose which of these two offers you will accept. Choose
which you please. If you refuse both, you must pack up your things,
and go and live by yourself, or with Mr. Dodd.”

“Mr. Dodd? why is his name introduced? Was it necessary to insult me?”
 and her eyes flashed.

“Nobody wishes to insult you, Lucy. And I propose, madam, we give her
a day to consider.”

“Thank you, uncle.”

“With all my heart; only, until she decides, she must excuse me if I
do not treat her with the same affection as I used, and as I hope to
do again. I am deeply wounded, and I am one that cannot feign.”

“You need not fear me, aunt; my heart is turned to ice. I shall never
intrude that love on which you set no value. May I retire?”

Mrs. Bazalgette looked to Mr. Fountain, and both bowed acquiescence.
Lucy went out pale, but dry-eyed; despair never looked so lovely, or
carried its head more proudly.

“I don’t like it,” said Mr. Fountain. “I am afraid we have driven the
poor girl too hard.”

“What are you afraid of, pray?”

“She looked to me just like a woman who would go and take an ounce of
laudanum. Poor Lucy! she has been a good niece to me, after all;” and
the water stood in the old bachelor’s eyes.

Mrs. Bazalgette tapped him on the shoulder and said archly, but with a
tone that carried conviction, “She will take no poison. She will hate
us for an hour; then she will have a good cry: to-morrow she will come
to our terms; and this day next year she will be very much obliged to
us for doing what all women like, forcing her to her good with a
little harshness.”



CHAPTER XXV.

SAID Lucy as she went from the door, “Thank Heaven, they have insulted
me!”

This does not sound logical, but that is only because the logic is so
subtle and swift. She meant something of this kind: “I am of a
yielding nature; I might have sacrificed myself to retain their
affection; but they have roused a vice of mine, my pride, against
them, so now I shall be immovable in right, thanks to my wicked pride.
Thank Heaven, they have insulted me!” She then laid her head upon her
bed and moaned, for she was stricken to the heart. Then she rose and
wrote a hasty note, and, putting it in her bosom, came downstairs and
looked for Captain Kenealy. He proved to be in the billiard-room,
playing the spotted ball against the plain one. “Oh, Captain Kenealy,
I am come to try your friendship; you said I might command you.”

“Yaas!”

“Then _will_ you mount my pony, and ride with this to Mrs.
Wilson, to that farm where I kept you waiting so long, and you were
not angry as anyone else would have been?”

“Yaas!”

“But not a soul must see it, or know where you are gone.”

“All raight, Miss Fountain. Don’t you be fraightened; I’m close as the
grave, and I’ll be there in less than haelf an hour.”

“Yes; but don’t hurt my dear pony either; don’t beat him; and, above
all, don’t come back without an answer.”

“I’ll bring you an answer in an hour and twenty minutes.” The captain
looked at his watch, and went out with a smartness that contrasted
happily with his slowness of speech.

Lucy went back to her own room and locked herself in, and with
trembling hands began to pack up her jewels and some of her clothes.
But when it came to this, wounded pride was sorely taxed by a host of
reminiscences and tender regrets, and every now and then the tears
suddenly gushed and fell upon her poor hands as she put things out, or
patted them flat, to wander on the world.

While she is thus sorrowfully employed, let me try and give an outline
of the feelings that had now for some time been secretly growing in
her, since without their co-operation she would never have been driven
to the strange step she now meditated.

Lucy was a very unselfish and very intelligent girl. The first trait
had long blinded her to something; the second had lately helped to
open her eyes.

If ever you find a person quick to discover selfishness in others, be
sure that person is selfish; for it is only the selfish who come into
habitual collision with selfishness, and feel how sharp-pointed a
thing it is. When Unselfish meets Selfish, each acts after his kind;
Unselfish gives way, Selfish holds his course, and so neither is
thwarted, and neither finds out the other’s character.

Lucy, then, of herself, would never have discovered her relatives’
egotism. But they helped her, and she was too bright not to see
anything that was properly pointed out to her.

When Fountain kept showing and proving Mrs. Bazalgette’s egotism, and
Mrs. Bazalgette kept showing and proving Mr. Fountain’s egotism, Lucy
ended by seeing both their egotisms, as clearly as either could
desire; and, as she despised egotism, she lost her respect for both
these people, and let them convince her they were both persons against
whom she must be on her guard.

This was the direct result of their mines and countermines heretofore
narrated, but not the only result. It followed indirectly, but
inevitably, that the present holy alliance failed. Lucy had not
forgotten the past; and to her this seemed not a holy, but an unholy,
hollow, and empty alliance.

“They hate one another,” said she, “but it seems they hate me worse,
since they can hide their mutual dislike to combine against poor me.”

Another thing: Lucy was one of those women who thirst for love, and,
though not vain enough to be always showing they think they ought to
be beloved, have quite secret _amour propre_ enough to feel at
the bottom of their hearts that they were sent here to that end, and
that it is a folly and a shame not to love them more or less.

If ever Madame Ristori plays “Maria Stuarda” within a mile of you, go
and see her. Don’t chatter: you can do that at home; attend to the
scene; the worst play ever played is not so unimproving as chit-chat.
Then, when the scaffold is even now erected, and the poor queen, pale
and tearful, palpitates in death’s grasp, you shall see her suddenly
illumined with a strange joy, and hear her say, with a marvelous burst
of feminine triumph,

           “I have been _amata molto!!!”_

Uttered, under a scaffold, as the Italian utters it, this line is a
revelation of womanhood.

The English virgin of our humbler tale had a soul full of this
feeling, only she had never learned to set the love of sex above other
loves; but, mark you, for that very reason, a mortal insult to her
heart from her beloved relatives was as mortifying, humiliating and
unpardonable as is, to other high-spirited girls, an insult from their
favored lover.

What could she do more than she had done to win their love? No, their
hearts were inaccessible to her.

“They wish to get rid of me. Well, they shall. They refuse me their
houses. Well, I will show them the value of their houses to me. It was
their hearts I clung to, not their houses.”


A tap came to Lucy’s door.

“Who is that? I am busy.”

“Oh, miss!” said an agitated voice, “may I speak to you--the captain!”

“What captain?” inquired Lucy, without opening the door.

“Knealys, miss.

“I will come out to you. Now. Has Captain Kenealy returned already?”

“La! no, miss. He haven’t been anywhere as I know of. He had them
about him as couldn’t spare him.”

“Something is the matter, Jane. What is it?”

Jane lowered her voice mysteriously. “Well, miss, the captain is--in
trouble.”

“Oh, dear, what has happened?”

“Well, the fact is, miss, the captain’s--took”

“I cannot understand you. Pray speak intelligibly.”

“Arrested, miss.”

“Captain Kenealy arrested! Oh, Heaven! for what crime?”

“La, miss, no crime at all--leastways not so considered by the gentry.
He is only took in payment of them beautiful reg-mentals. However,
black or red, he is always well put on. I am sure he looks just out of
a band-box; and I got it all out of one of the men as it’s a army
tailor, which he wrote again and again, and sent his bill, and the
captain he took no notice; then the tailor he sent him a writ, and the
captain he took no notice; then the tailor he lawed him, but the
captain he kep’ on a taking no more notice nor if it was a dog a
barking, and then a putting all them ere barks one after another in a
letter, and sending them by the post; so the end is, the captain is
arrested; and now he behooves to attend a bit to what is a going on
around an about him, as the saying is, and so he is waiting to pay you
his respects before he starts for Bridewell.”

“My fatal advice! I ruin all my friends.”

“Keep dark,” says he; “don’t tell a soul except Miss Fountain.”

“Where is he? Oh?”

Jane offered to show her that, and took her to the stable yard.
Arriving with a face full of tender pity and concern, Lucy was not a
little surprised to find the victim smoking cigars in the center of
his smoking captors. The men touched their hats, and Captain Kenealy
said: “Isn’t it a boa, Miss Fountain? they won’t let me do your little
commission. In London they will go anywhere with a fellaa.”

“London ye knows,” explained the assistant, “but this here is full of
hins and houts, and folyidge.”

“Oh, sir,” cried Lucy to the best-dressed captor, “surely you will not
be so cruel as to take a gentleman like Captain Kenealy to prison?”

“Very sorry, marm, but we ‘ave no hoption: takes ‘em every day; don’t
we, Bill?”

Bill nodded.

“But, sir, as it is only for money, can you not be induced
by--by--money--”

“Bill, lady’s going to pay the debtancosts. Show her the ticket. Debt
eighty pund, costs seven pund eighteen six.”

“What! will you liberate him if I pay you eighty-eight pounds?”

“Well, marm, to oblige you we will; won’t we, Bill?”

He winked. Bill nodded.

“Then pray stay here a minute, and this shall be arranged to your
entire satisfaction”; and she glided swiftly away, followed by Jane,
wriggling.

“Quite the lady, Bill.”

“Kevite. Captn is in luck. Hare ve to be at the vedding, capn?”

“Dem your impudence! I’ll cross-buttock yah!”

“Hold your tongue, Bill--queering a gent. Draw it mild, captain.
Debtancosts ain’t paid yet. Here they come, though.”

Lucy returned swiftly, holding aloft a slip of paper.

“There, sir, that is a check for 90 pounds; it is the same thing as
money, you are doubtless aware.” The man took it and inspected it
keenly.

“Very sorry, marm, but can’t take it. It’s a lady’s check.”

“What! is it not written properly?”

“Beautiful, marm. But when we takes these beautiful-wrote checks to
the bank, the cry is always, ‘No assets.’”

“But Uncle Bazalgette said everybody would give me money for it.”

“What! is Mr. Bazalgette your uncle, marm? then you go to him, and get
his check in place of yours, and the captain will be free as the birds
in the hair.”

“Oh, thank you, sir,” cried Lucy, and the next minute she was in Mr.
Bazalgette’s study. “Uncle, don’t be angry with me: it is for no
unworthy purpose; only don’t ask me; it might mortify another; but
_would_ you give me a check of your own for mine? They will not
receive mine.”

Mr. Bazalgette looked grave, and even sad; but he sat quietly down
without a word, and drew her a check, taking hers, which he locked in
his desk. The tears were in Lucy’s eyes at his gravity and his
delicacy. “Some day I will tell you,” said she. “I have nothing to
reproach myself, indeed--indeed.”

“Make the rogue--or jade--give you a receipt,” groaned Bazalgette.

“All right, marm, this time. Captain, the world is hall before you
where to chewse. But this is for ninety, marm;” and he put his hand
very slowly into his pocket.

“Do me the favor to keep the rest for your trouble, sir.”

“Trouble’s a pleasure, marm. It is not often we gets a tip for taking
a gent. Ve are funk shin hairies as is not depreciated, mam, and the
more genteel we takes ‘em the rougher they cuts; and the very women no
more like you nor dark to light; but flies at us like ryal Bengal
tigers, through taking of us for the creditors.”

“Verehas we hare honly servants of the ke veen;” suggested No. 2,
hashing his mistress’s English.

“Stow your gab, Bill, and mizzle. Let the captain thank the lady.
Good-day, marm.”


“Oh, my poor friend, what language! and my ill advice threw you into
their company!”

Captain Kenealy told her, in his brief way, that the circumstance was
one of no import, except in so far as it had impeded his discharge of
his duty to her. He then mounted the pony, which had been waiting for
him more than half an hour.

“But it is five o’clock,” said Lucy; “you will be too late for
dinner.”

“Dinner be dem--d,” drawled the man of action, and rode off like a
flash.

“It is to be, then,” said Lucy, and her heart ebbed. It had ebbed and
flowed a good many times in the last hour or two.

Captain Kenealy reappeared in the middle of dinner. Lucy scanned his
face, but it was like the outside of a copy-book, and she was on
thorns. Being too late, he lost his place near her at dinner, and she
could not whisper to him. However, when the ladies retired he opened
the door, and Lucy let fall a word at his feet: “Come up before the
rest.”

Acting on this order, Kenealy came up, and found Lucy playing sad
tunes softly on the piano and Mrs. Bazalgette absent. She was trying
something on upstairs. He gave Lucy a note from Mrs. Wilson. She
opened it, and the joyful color suffused her cheek, and she held out
her hand to him; but, as she turned her head away mighty prettily at
the same time, she did not see the captain was proffering a second
document, and she was a little surprised when, instead of a warm
grasp, all friendship and no love, a piece of paper was shoved into
her delicate palm. She took it; looked first at Kenealy, then at it,
and was sore puzzled.

The document was in Kenealy’s handwriting, and at first Lucy thought
it must be intended as a mere specimen of caligraphy; for not only was
it beautifully written, but in letters of various sizes. There were
three gigantic vowels, I. O. U. There were little wee notifications of
time and place, and other particulars of medium size. The general
result was that Henry Kenealy O’d Lucy Fountain ninety pound for value
received per loan. Lucy caught at the meaning. “But, my dear friend,”
 said she, innocently, “you mistake. I did not lend it you; I meant to
give it you. Will you not accept it? Are we not friends?”

“Much oblaiged. Couldn’t do it. Dishonable.”

“Oh, pray do not let me wound your pride. I know what it is to have
one’s pride wounded; call it a loan if you wish. But, dear friend,
what am I to do with this?”

“When you want the money, order your man of business to present it to
me, and, if I don’t pay, lock me up, for I shall deserve it.”

“I think I understand. This is a memorandum--a sort of reminder.”

“Yaas.”

“Then clearly I am not the person to whom it should be given. No; if
you want to be reminded of this mighty matter, put this in your desk;
if it gets into mine, you will never see it again; I will give you
fair warning. There--hide it--quick--here they come.”

They did come, all but Mr. Bazalgette, who was at work in his study.
Mr. Talboys came up to the piano and said gravely, “Miss Fountain, are
you aware of the fate of the lugger--of the boat we went out in?”

Indeed I am. I have sent the poor widow some clothes and a little
money.”

“I have only just been informed of it,” said Mr. Talboys, “and I feel
under considerable obligations to Mr. Dodd.”

“The feeling does you credit.”

“Should you meet him, will you do me the honor to express my gratitude
to him?”

“I would, with pleasure, Mr. Talboys, but there is no chance whatever
of my seeing Mr. Dodd. His sister is staying in Market Street, No. 80,
and if you would call on them or write to them, it would be a
kindness, and I think they would both feel it.”

“Humph!” said Talboys, doubtfully. Here a servant stepped up to Miss
Fountain. “Master would be glad to see you in his study, miss.”


“I have got something for you, Lucy. I know what it is, so run away
with it, and read it in your own room, for I am busy.” He handed her a
long sealed packet. She took it, trembling, and flew to her own room
with it, like a hawk carrying off a little bird to its nest. She broke
the enormous seal and took out the inclosure. It was David Dodd’s
commission. He was captain of the _Rajah,_ the new ship of eleven
hundred tons’ burden.

While she gazes at it with dilating eye and throbbing heart, I may as
well undeceive the reader. This was not really effected in forty-eight
hours. Bazalgette only pretended that, partly out of fun, partly out
of nobility. Ever since a certain interview in his study with David
Dodd, who was a man after his own heart, he had taken a note, and had
worked for him with “the Company;” for Bazalgette was one of those
rare men who reduce performance to a certainty long before they
promise. His promises were like pie-crust made to be eaten, and eaten
hot.

Lucy came out of her room, and at the same moment issued forth from
hers Mrs. Bazalgette in a fine new dress. It was that black
_glace;_ silk, divested of gloom by cheerful accessories, in
which she had threatened to mourn eternally Lucy’s watery fate. Fire
flashed from the young lady’s eyes at the sight of it. She went down
to her uncle, muttering between her ivory teeth: “All the same--all
the same;” and her heart flowed. The next minute, at sight of Mr.
Bazalgette it ebbed. She came into his room, saying: “Oh, Uncle
Bazalgette, it is not to thank you--that I can never do worthily; it
is to ask another favor. Do, pray, let me spend this evening with you;
let me be where you are. I will be as still as a mouse. See, I have
brought some work; or, if you _would_ but let me help you.
Indeed, uncle, I am not a fool. I am very quick to learn at the
bidding of those I love. Let me write your letters for you, or fold
them up, or direct them, or something--do, pray!”

“Oh, the caprices of young ladies! Well, can you write large and
plain? Not you.”

“I can _imitate_ anything or anybody.”

“Imitate this hand then. I’ll walk and dictate, you sit and write.”

“Oh, how nice!”

“Delicious! The first is to--Hetherington. Now, Lucy, this is a
dishonest, ungrateful old rogue, who has made thousands by me, and now
wants to let me into a mine, with nothing in it but water. It would
suck up twenty thousand pounds as easily as that blotting-paper will
suck up our signature.”

“Heartless traitor! monster!” cried Lucy.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes,” and her eye flashed and the pen was to her a stiletto.

Bazalgette dictated, “My dear Sir--”

“What? to a cheat?”

“Custom, child. I’ll have a stamp made. Besides, if we let them see we
see through them, they would play closer and closer--”

“My dear Sir--In answer to yours of date 11th instant, I regret to
say--that circumstances prevent--my closing--with your obliging--and
friendly offer.”


They wrote eight letters; and Lucy’s quick fingers folded up
prospectuses, and her rays brightened the room. When the work was
done, she clung round Mr. Bazalgette and caressed him, and seemed
strangely unwilling to part with him at all; in fact, it was twelve
o’clock, and the drawing-room empty, when they parted.

At one o’clock the whole house was dark except one room, and both
windows of that room blazed with light. And it happened there was a
spectator of this phenomenon. A man stood upon the grass and eyed
those lights as if they were the stars of his destiny.

It was David Dodd. Poor David! he had struck a bargain, and was to
command a coasting vessel, and carry wood from the Thames to our
southern ports. An irresistible impulse brought him to look, before he
sailed, on the place that held the angel who had destroyed his
prospects, and whom he loved as much as ever, though he was too proud
to court a second refusal.

“She watches, too,” thought David, “but it is not for me, as I for
her.”

At half past one the lights began to dance before his wearied eyes,
and presently David, weakened by his late fever, dozed off and forgot
all his troubles, and slept as sweetly on the grass as he had often
slept on the hard deck, with his head upon a gun.

Luck was against the poor fellow. He had not been unconscious much
more than ten minutes when Lucy’s window opened and she looked out;
and he never saw her. Nor did she see him; for, though the moon was
bright, it was not shining on him; he lay within the shadow of a tree.
But Lucy did see something--a light upon the turnpike road about forty
yards from Mr. Bazalgette’s gates. She slipped cautiously down, a
band-box in her hand, and, unbolting the door that opened on the
garden, issued out, passed within a few yards of Dodd, and went round
to the front, and finally reached the turnpike road. There she found
Mrs. Wilson, with a light-covered cart and horse, and a lantern. At
sight of her Mrs. Wilson put out the light, and they embraced; then
they spoke in whispers.

“Come, darling, don’t tremble; have you got much more?”

“Oh, yes, several things.”

“Look at that, now! But, dear heart, I was the same at your age, and
should be now, like enough. Fetch them all, as quick as you like. I am
feared to leave Blackbird, or I’d help you down with ‘em.”

“Is there nobody with you to take care of us?”

“What do you mean--men folk? Not if I know it.”

“You are right. You are wise. Oh, how courageous!” And she went back
for her finery. And certain it is she had more baggage than I should
choose for a forced march.

But all has an end--even a female luggage train; so at last she put
out all her lights and came down, stepping like a fairy, with a large
basket in her hand.

Now it happened that by this time the moon’s position was changed, and
only a part of David lay in the shade; his head and shoulders
glittered in broad moonlight; and Lucy, taking her farewell of a house
where she had spent many happy days, cast her eyes all around to bid
good-by, and spied a man lying within a few paces, and looking like a
corpse in the silver sheen. She dropped her basket; her knees knocked
together with fear, and she flew toward Mrs. Wilson. But she did not
go far, for the features, indistinct as they were by distance and pale
light, struck her mind, and she stopped and looked timidly over her
shoulder. The figure never moved. Then, with beating heart, she went
toward him slowly and so stealthily that she would have passed a mouse
without disturbing it, and presently she stood by him and looked down
on him as he lay.

And as she looked at him lying there, so pale, so uncomplaining, so
placid, under her windows, this silent proof of love, and the thought
of the raging sea this helpless form had steered her through, and all
he had suffered as well as acted for her, made her bosom heave, and
stirred all that was woman within her. He loved her still, then, or
why was he here? And then the thought that she had done something for
him too warmed her heart still more toward him. And there was nothing
for her to repel now, for he lay motionless; there was nothing for her
to escape--he did not pursue her; nothing to negative--he did not
propose anything to her. Her instinct of defense had nothing to lay
hold of; so, womanlike, she had a strong impulse to wake him and be
kind to him--as kind as she could be without committing herself. But,
on the other hand, there was shy, trembling, virgin modesty, and shame
that he should detect her making a midnight evasion, and fear of
letting him think she loved him.

While she stood thus, with something drawing her on and something
drawing her back, and palpitating in every fiber, Mrs. Wilson’s voice
was heard in low but anxious tones calling her. A feather turned the
balanced scale. She must go. Fate had decided for her. She was called.
Then the sprites of mischief tempted her to let David know she _had
been_ near him. She longed to put his commission into his pocket;
but that was impossible. It was at the very bottom of her box. She
took out her tablets, wrote the word “Adieu,” tore out half the leaf,
and, bending over David, attached the little bit of paper by a pin to
the tail of his coat. If he had been ever so much awake he could not
have felt her doing it; for her hand touching him, and the white paper
settling on his coat, was all done as lights a spot of down on still
water from the bending neck of a swan.


“No, dear Mrs. Wilson, we must not go yet. I will hold the horse, and
you must go back for me for something.”

“I’m agreeable. What is it? Why, what is up? How you do pant!”

“I have made a discovery. There is a gentleman lying asleep there on
the wet grass.”

“Lackadaisy! why, you don’t say so.”

“It is a friend; and he will catch his death.”

“Why, of course he will. He will have had a drop too much, Miss Lucy.
I’ll wake him, and we will take him along home with us.”

“Oh, not for the world, nurse. I would not have him see what I am
doing, oh, not for all the world!”

“Where is he?”

“In there, under the great tree.”

“Well, you get into the cart, miss, and hold the reins”; and Mrs.
Wilson went into the grounds and soon found David.

She put her hand on his shoulder, and he awoke directly, and looked
surprised at Mrs. Wilson.

“Are you better, sir?” said the good woman. “Why, if it isn’t the
handsome gentleman that was so kind to me! Now do ee go in, sir--do ee
go in. You will catch your death o’ cold.” She made sure he was
staying at the house.

David looked up at Lucy’s windows. “Yes, I will go home, Mrs. Wilson;
there is nothing to stay for now”; and he accompanied her to the cart.
But Mrs. Wilson remembered Lucy’s desire not to be seen; so she said
very loud, “I’m sure it’s very lucky me and _my niece_ happened
to be coming home so late, and see you lying there. Well, one good
turn deserves another. Come and see me at my farm; you go through the
village of Harrowden, and anybody there will tell you where Dame
Wilson do live. I _would_ ask you to-night, but--” she hesitated,
and Lucy let down her veil.

“No, thank you, not now; my sister will be fretting as it is.
Good-morning”; and his steps were heard retreating as Mrs. Wilson
mounted the cart.

“Well, I should have liked to have taken him home and warmed him a
bit,” said the good woman to Lucy; “it is enough to give him the
rheumatics for life. However, he is not the first honest man as has
had a drop too much, and taken ‘s rest without a feather-bed. Alack,
miss, why, you are all of a tremble! What ails _you?_ I’m a fool
to ask. Ah! well, you’ll soon be at home, and naught to vex you. That
is right; have a good cry, do. Ay, ay, _‘tis_ hard to be forced
to leave our nest. But all places are bright where love abides; and
there’s honest hearts both here and there, and the same sky above us
wherever we wander, and the God of the fatherless above that; and
better a peaceful cottage than a palace full of strife.” And with many
such homely sayings the rustic consoled her nursling on their little
journey, not quite in vain.



CHAPTER XXVI.

NEXT morning the house was in an uproar. Servants ran to and fro, and
the fish-pond was dragged at Mr. Fountain’s request. But on these
occasions everybody claims a right to speak, and Jane came into the
breakfast-room and said: “If you please, mum, Miss Lucy isn’t in the
pond, for she have taken a good part of her clothes, and all her
jewels.”

This piece of common sense convinced everybody on the spot except Mrs.
Bazalgette. That lady, if she had decided on “making a hole in the
water,” would have sat on the bank first, and clapped on all her
jewels, and all her richest dresses, one on the top of another.
Finally, Mr. Bazalgette, who wore a somber air, and had not said a
word, requested everybody to mind their own business. “I have a
communication from Lucy,” said he, “and I do not at present disapprove
the step she has taken.”

All eyes turned with astonishment toward him, and the next moment all
voices opened on him like a pack of hounds. But he declined to give
them any further information. Between ourselves he had none to give.
The little note Lucy left on his table merely begged him to be under
no anxiety, and prayed him to suspend his judgment of her conduct till
he should know the whole case. It was his strong good sense which led
him to pretend he was in the whole secret. By this means he
substituted mystery for scandal, and contrived that the girl’s folly
might not be irreparable.

At the same time he was deeply indignant with her, and, above all,
with her hypocrisy in clinging round him and kissing him the very
night she meditated flight from his house.

“I must find the girl out and get her back;” said he, and directly
after breakfast he collected his myrmidons and set them to discover
her retreat.

The outward frame-work of the holy alliance remained standing, but
within it was dissolving fast. Each of the allies was even now
thinking how to find Lucy and make a separate peace. During the
flutter which now subsided, one person had done nothing but eat
pigeon-pie. It was Kenealy, captain of horse.

Now eating pigeon-pie is not in itself a suspicious act, but ladies
are so sharp. Mrs. Bazalgette said to herself, “This creature alone is
not a bit surprised (for Bazalgette is fibbing); why is this creature
not surprised? humph! Captain Kenealy,” said she, in honeyed tones,
“what would you advise us to do?”

“Advertaize,” drawled the captain, as cool as a cucumber.

“Advertise? What! publish her name?”

“No, no names. I’ll tell you;” and he proceeded to drawl out very
slowly, from memory, the following advertisement. N. B.--The captain
was a great reader of advertisements, and of little else.


           “WANDERAA, RETARN.

“If L. F. will retarn--to her afflicted--relatives--she shall be
received with open aams. And shall be forgotten and forgiven--and
reunaited affection shall solace every wound.”


“That is the style. It always brings ‘em back--dayvilish good
paie--have some moa.”

Mr. Fountain and Mrs. Bazalgette raised an outcry against the
captain’s advice, and, when the table was calm again, Mrs. Bazalgette
surprised them all by fixing her eyes on Kenealy, and saying quietly,
“You know where she is.” She added more excitedly: “Now don’t deny it.
On your honor, sir, have you no idea where my niece is?”

“Upon my honah, I have an idea.”

“Then tell me.”

“I’d rayther not.”

“Perhaps you would prefer to tell me in private?”

“No; prefer not to tell at all.”

Then the whole table opened on him, and appealed to his manly feeling,
his sense of hospitality, his humanity--to gratify their curiosity.

Kenealy stretched himself out from the waist downward, and delivered
himself thus, with a double infusion of his drawl:--

“See yah all dem--d first.”


At noon on the same day, by the interference of Mrs. Bazalgette, the
British army was swelled with Kenealy, captain of horse.

The whole day passed, and Lucy’s retreat was not yet discovered. But
more than one hunter was hemming her in.


The next day, being the second after her elopement with her nurse, at
eleven in the forenoon, Lucy and Mrs. Wilson sat in the little parlor
working. Mrs. Wilson had seen the poultry fed, the butter churned, and
the pudding safe in the pot, and her mind was at ease for a good hour
to come, so she sat quiet and peaceful. Lucy, too, was at peace. Her
eye was clear; and her color coming back; she was not bursting with
happiness, for there was a sweet pensiveness mixed with her sweet
tranquillity; but she looked every now and then smiling from her work
up at Mrs. Wilson, and the dame kept looking at her with a motherly
joy caused by her bare presence on that hearth. Lucy basked in these
maternal glances. At last she said: “Nurse.”

“My dear?”

“If you had never done anything for me, still I should know you loved
me.”

“Should ye, now?”

“Oh yes; there is the look in your eye that I used to long to see in
my poor aunt’s, but it never came.”

“Well, Miss Lucy, I can’t help it. To think it is really you setting
there by my fire! I do feel like a cat with one kitten. You should
check me glaring you out o’ countenance like that.”

“Check you? I could not bear to lose one glance of that honest tender
eye. I would not exchange one for all the flatteries of the world. I
am so happy here, so tranquil, under my nurse’s wing.”

With this declaration came a little sigh.

Mrs. Wilson caught it. “Is there nothing wanting, dear?”

“No.”

“Well, I do keep wishing for one thing.”

“What is that?”

“Oh, I can’t help my thoughts.”

“But you can help keeping them from me, nurse.”

“Well, my dear, I am like a mother; I watch every word of yours and
every look; and it is my belief you deceive yourself a bit: many a
young maid has done that. I do judge there is a young man that is more
to you than you think for.”

“Who on earth is that, nurse?” asked Lucy, coloring.

“The handsome young gentleman.”

“Oh, they are all handsome--all my pests.”

“The one I found under your window, Miss Lucy; he wasn’t in liquor; so
what was he there for? and you know you were not at your ease till you
had made me go and wake him, and send him home; and you were all of a
tremble. I’m a widdy now, and can speak my mind to men-folk all one as
women-folk; but I’ve been a maid, and I can mind how I was in those
days. Liking did use to whisper me to do so and so; Shyness up and
said, ‘La! not for all the world; what’ll he think?’”

“Oh, nurse, do you believe me capable of loving one who does not love
me?”

“No. Who said he doesn’t love you? What was he there for? I stick to
that.”

“Now, nurse, dear, be reasonable; if Mr. Dodd loved me, would he go to
sleep in my presence?”

“Eh! Miss Lucy, the poor soul was maybe asleep before you left your
room.”

“It is all the same. He slept while I stood close to him ever so long.
Slept while I--If I loved anybody as these gentlemen pretend they
love us, should I sleep while the being I adored was close to me?”

“You are too hard upon him. ‘The spirit is willing but the flesh is
weak.’ Why, miss, we do read of Eutychus, how he snoozed off setting
under Paul himself--up in a windy--and down a-tumbled. But parson says
it wasn’t that he didn’t love religion, or why should Paul make it his
business to bring him to life again, ‘stead of letting un lie for a
warning to the sleepy-headed ones. ‘’Twas a wearied body, not a heart
cold to God,’ says our parson.”

“Now, nurse, I take you at your word. If Eutychus had been Eutycha,
and in love with St. Paul, Eutycha would never have gone to sleep,
though St. Paul preached all day and all night; and if Dorcas had
preached instead of St. Paul, and Eutychus been in love with her, he
would never have gone to sleep, and you know it.”

At this home-thrust Mrs. Wilson was staggered, but the next moment her
sense of discomfiture gave way to a broad expression of triumph at her
nursling’s wit.

“Eh! Miss Lucy,” cried she, showing a broadside of great white teeth
in a rustic chuckle, “but ye’ve got a tongue in your head. Ye’ve sewed
up my stocking, and ‘tisn’t many of them can do that.” Lucy followed
up her advantage.

“And, nurse, even when he was wide awake and stood by the cart, no
inward sentiment warned him of my presence; a sure sign he did not
love me. Though I have never experienced love, I have read of it, and
know all about it.” [_Jus-tice des Femmes!_]

“Well, Miss Lucy, have it your own way; after all, if he loves you he
will find you out.”

“Of course he would, and you will see he will do nothing of the kind.”

“Then I wish I knew where he was; I would pull him in at my door by
the scruf of the neck.”

“And then I should jump out at the window. Come, try on your new cap,
nurse, that I have made for you, and let us talk about anything you
like except gentlemen. Gentlemen are a sore subject with me. Gentlemen
have been my ruin.”

“La, Miss Lucy!”

“I assure you they have; why, have they not set my uncle’s heart
against me, and my aunt’s, and robbed me of the affection I once had
for both? I believe gentlemen to be the pests of society; and oh! the
delight of being here in this calm retreat, where love dwells, and no
gentleman can find me. Ah! ah! Oh! What is that?”

For a heavy blow descended on the door. “That is Jenny’s
_knock,”_ said Mrs. Wilson; dryly. “Come in, Jenny.” The servant,
thus invited, burst the door open as savagely as she had struck it,
and announced with a knowing grin, “A GENTLEMAN--_for Miss
Fountain!!”_



CHAPTER XXVII.

DAVID and Eve sat together at their little breakfast, and pressed each
other to eat; but neither could eat. David’s night excursion had
filled Eve with new misgivings. It was the act of a madman; and we
know the fears that beset her on that head, and their ground. He had
come home shivering, and she had forced him to keep his bed all that
day. He was not well now, and bodily weakness, added to his other
afflictions, bore his spirit down, though nothing could cow it.

“When are you to sail?” inquired Eve, sick-like.

“In three days. Cargo won’t be on board before.”

“A coasting vessel?”

“A man can do his duty in a coaster as well as a merchantman or a
frigate.” But he sighed.

“Would to God you had never seen her!”

“Don’t blame her--blame me. I had good advice from my little sister,
but I was willful. Never mind, Eve, I needn’t to blush for loving her;
she is worthy of it all.”

“Well, think so, David, if you can.” And Eve, thoroughly depressed,
relapsed into silence. The postman’s rap was heard, and soon after a
long inclosure was placed in Eve’s hand.

Poor little Eve did not receive many letters; and, sad as she was, she
opened this with some interest; but how shall I paint its effect? She
kept uttering shrieks of joy, one after another, at each sentence. And
when she had shrieked with joy many times, she ran with the large
paper round to David. “You are captain of the _Rajah!_ ah! the
new ship! ah! eleven hundred tons! Oh, David! Oh, my heart! Oh! oh!
oh!” and the poor little thing clasped her arms round her brother’s
neck, and kissed him again and again, and cried and sobbed for joy.

All men, and most women, go through life without once knowing what it
is to cry for joy, and it is a comfort to think that Eve’s pure and
deep affection brought her such a moment as this in return for much
trouble and sorrow. David, stout-hearted as he was, was shaken as the
sea and the wind had never yet shaken him. He turned red and white
alternately, and trembled. “Captain of the _Rajah!_ It is too
good--it is too good! I have done nothing _for it”;_ and he was
incredulous.

Eve was devouring the inclosure. “It is her doing,” she cried; “it is
all her doing.”

“Whose?”

“Who do you think? I am in the air! I am in heaven! Bless her--oh,
God, bless her for this. Never speak against cold-blooded folk before
me; they have twice the principle of us hot ones: I always said so.
She is a good creature; she is a true friend; and you accused her of
ingratitude!”

“That I never did.”

“You did--_Rajah_--he! he! oh!--and I defended her. Here, take
and read that: is that a commission or not? Now you be quiet, and let
us see what she says. No, I can’t; I cannot keep the tears out of my
eyes. Do take and read it, David; I’m blind.”

David took the letter, kissed it, and read it out to Eve, and she kept
crowing and shedding tears all the time.


“DEAR MISS DODD--I admire too much your true affection for your
brother to be indifferent to your good opinion. Think of me as
leniently as you can. Perhaps it gives me as much pleasure to be able
to forward you the inclosed as the receipt of it, I hope, may give
you.

“It would, I think, be more wise, and certainly more generous, not to
let Mr. Dodd think he owes in any degree to me that which, if the
world were just, would surely have been his long ago. Only, some few
months hence, when it can do him no harm, I could wish him not to
think his friend Lucy was ungrateful, or even cold in his service, who
saved her life, and once honored her with so warm an esteem. But all
this I confide to your discretion and your justice. Dear Miss Dodd,
those who give pain to others do not escape it themselves, nor is it
just they should. My insensibility to the merit of persons of the
other sex has provoked my relatives; they have punished me for
declining Mr. Dodd’s inferiors with a bitterness Mr. Dodd, with far
more cause, never showed me; so you see at each turn I am reminded of
his superiority.

“The result is, I am separated from my friends, and am living all
alone with my dear old nurse, at her farmhouse.

“Since, then, I am unhappy, and you are generous, you will, I think,
forgive me all the pain I have caused you, and will let me, in bidding
you adieu, subscribe myself,

                                 “Yours affectionately,

                                 “LUCY FOUNTAIN”


“It is the letter of a sweet girl, David, with a noble heart; and she
has taken a noble revenge of me for what I said to her the other day,
and made her cry, like a little brute as I am. Why, how glum you
look!”

“Eve,” said David, “do you think I will accept this from her without
herself?”

“Of course you will. Don’t be too greedy, David. Leave the girl in
peace; she has shown you what she will do and what she won’t. One such
friend as this is worth a hundred lovers. Give me her dear little
note.”

While Eve was persuing it, David went out, but soon returned, with his
best coat on, and his hat in his hand. Eve asked in some surprise
where he was going in such a hurry.

“To her.”

“Well, David, now I come to read her letter quietly, it is a woman’s
letter all over; you may read it which way you like. What need had she
to tell me she has just refused offers? And then she tells me she is
all alone. That sounds like a hint. The company of a friend might he
agreeable. Brush your coat first, at any rate; there’s something white
on it; it is a paper; it is pinned on. Come here. Why, what is this?
It is written on. ‘Adieu.’” And Eve opened her eyes and mouth as well.

She asked him when he wore the coat last.

“The day before yesterday.”

“Were you in company of any girls?”

“Not I.”

“But this is written by a girl, and it is pinned on by a girl; see how
it is quilted in!! that’s proof positive. Oh! oh! oh! look here. Look
at these two ‘Adieus’--the one in the letter and this; they are the
same--precisely the same. What, in Heaven’s name, is the meaning of
this? Were you in her company that night?”

“No.”

“Will you swear that?”

“No, I can’t swear it, because I was asleep a part of the time; but
waking in her company I was not.”

“It is her writing, and she pinned it on you.”

“How can that be, Eve?”

“I don’t know; I am sure she did, though. Look at this ‘Adieu’ and
that; you’ll never get it out of my head but what one hand wrote them
both. You are so green, a girl would come behind you and pin it on
you, and you never feel her.”

While saying these words, Eve slyly repinned it on him without his
feeling or knowing anything about it.

David was impatient to be gone, but she held him a minute to advise
him.

“Tell her she must and shall. Don’t take a denial. If you are
cowardly, she will be bold; but if you are bold and resolute, she will
knuckle down. Mind that; and don’t go about it with such a face as
that, as long as my arm. If she says ‘No,’ you have got the ship to
comfort you. Oh! I am so happy!”

“No, Eve,” said David, “if she won’t give me herself, I’ll never take
her ship. I’d die a foretopman sooner;” and, with these parting words,
he renewed all his sister’s anxiety. She sat down sorrowfully, and the
horrible idea gained on her that there was mania in David’s love for
Lucy.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

DAVID had one advantage over others that were now hunting Lucy. Mrs.
Wilson had unwittingly given him pretty plain directions how to find
her farmhouse; and as Eve, in the exercise of her discretion, or
indiscretion, had shown David Lucy’s letter, he had only to ride to
Harrowden and inquire. But, on the other hand, his competitors were a
few miles nearer the game, and had a day’s start.

David got a horse and galloped to Harrowden, fed him at the inn, and
asked where Mrs. Wilson’s farm was. The waiter, a female, did not
know, but would inquire. Meantime David asked for two sheets of paper,
and wrote a few lines on each; then folded them both (in those days
envelopes were not), but did not seal them. Mrs. Wilson’s farm turned
out to be only two miles from Harrowden, and the road easy to find. He
was soon there; gave his horse to one of the farm-boys, and went into
the kitchen and asked if Miss Fountain lived there. This question
threw him into the hands of Jenny, who invited him to follow her, and,
unlike your powdered and noiseless lackey, pounded the door with her
fist, kicked it open with her foot, and announced him with that
thunderbolt of language which fell so inopportunely on Lucy’s
self-congratulations.

The look Mrs. Wilson cast on Lucy was droll enough; but when David’s
square shoulders and handsome face filled up the doorway, a second
look followed that spoke folios.

Lucy rose, and with heightened color, but admirable self-possession,
welcomed David like a valued friend.

Mrs. Wilson’s greeting was broad and hearty; and, very soon after she
had made him sit down, she bounced up, crying: “You will stay dinner
now you be come, and I must see as they don’t starve you.” So saying,
out she went; but, looking back at the door, was transfixed by an
arrow of reproach from her nursling’s eye.

Lucy’s reception of David, kind as it was, was not encouraging to one
coming on David’s errand, for there was the wrong shade of amity in
it.

In times past it would have cooled David with misgivings, but now he
did not give himself time to be discouraged; he came to make a last
desperate effort, and he made it at once.

“Miss Lucy, I have got the _Rajah,_ thanks to you.”

“Thanks to me, Mr. Dodd? Thanks to your own high character and merit.”

“No, Miss Lucy, you know better, and I know better, and there is your
own sweet handwriting to prove it.”

“Miss Dodd has showed you my letter?”

“How could she help it?”

“What a pity! how injudicious!”

“The truth is like the light; why keep it out? Yes; what I have worked
for, and battled the weather so many years, and been sober and
prudent, and a hard student at every idle hour--that has come to me in
one moment from your dear hand.”

“It is a shame.”

“Bless you, Miss Lucy,” cried David, not noting the remark.

Lucy blushed, and the water stood in her eyes. She murmured softly:
“You should not say Miss Lucy; it is not customary. You should say
Lucy, or Miss Fountain.”

This _apropos_ remark by way of a female diversion.

“Then let me say Lucy to-day, for perhaps I shall never say that, or
anything that is sweet to say again. Lucy, you know what I came for?”

“Oh, yes, to receive my congratulations.”

“More than that, a great deal--to ask you to go halves in the
_Rajah.”_

Lucy’s eyebrows demanded an explanation.

“She is worth two thousand a year to her commander; and that is too
much for a bachelor.”

Lucy colored and smiled. “Why, it is only just enough for bachelors to
live upon.”

“It is too much for me alone under the circumstances,” said David,
gravely; and there was a little silence.

“Lucy, I love you. With you the _Rajah_ would be a godsend. She
will help me keep you in the company you have been used to, and were
made to brighten and adorn; but without you I cannot take her from
your hand, and, to speak plain, I won’t.”

“Oh, Mr. Dodd!”

“No, Lucy; before I knew you, to command a ship was the height of my
ambition--her quarter-deck my Heaven on earth; and this is a clipper,
I own it; I saw her in the docks. But you have taught me to look
higher. Share my ship and my heart with me, and certainly the ship
will be my child, and all the dearer to me that she came to us from
her I love. But don’t say to me, ‘Me you shan’t have; you are not good
enough for that; but there is a ship for you in my place.’ I wouldn’t
accept a star out of the firmament on those terms.”

“How unreasonable! On the contrary you should say, ‘I am doubly
fortunate: I escape a foolish, weak companion for life, and I have a
beautiful ship.’ But friendship such as mine for you was never
appreciated; I do you injustice; you only talk like that to tease me
and make me unhappy.”

“Oh, Lucy, Lucy, did you ever know me--”

“There, now, forgive me; and own you are not in earnest.”

“This will show you,” said David, sadly; and he took out two letters
from his bosom. “Here are two letters to the secretary. In one I
accept the ship with thanks, and offer to superintend her when her
rigging is being set up; and in this one I decline her altogether,
with my humble and sincere thanks.”

“Oh yes, you are very humble, sir,” said Lucy. “Now--dear
friend--listen to reason. You have others--”

“Excuse my interrupting you, but it is a rule with me never to reason
about right and wrong; I notice that whoever does that ends by
choosing wrong. I don’t go to my head to find out my duty, I go to my
heart; and what little manhood there is in me all cries out against me
compounding with the woman I love, and taking a ship instead of her.”

“How unkind you are! It is not as if I was under no obligations to
you. Is not my life worth a ship? an angel like me?”

“I can’t see it so. It was a greater pleasure to me to save your life,
as you call it, than it could be to you. I can’t let that into the
account. A woman is a woman, but a man is a man; and I will be under
no obligation to you but one.”

“What arrogance!”

“Don’t you be angry; I’ll love you and bless you all the same. But I
am a man, and a man I’ll die, whether I die captain of a ship or of a
foretop. Poor Eve!”

“See how power tries people, and brings out their true character.
Since you commanded the _Rajah_ you are all changed. You used to
be submissive; now you must have your own way entirely. You will fling
my poor ship in my face unless I give you--but this is really using
force--yes, Mr. Dodd, this is using force. Somebody has told you that
my sex yield when downright compulsion is used. It is true; and the
more ungenerous to apply it;” and she melted into a few placid tears.

David did not know this sign of yielding in a woman, and he groaned at
the sight and hung his head.

“Advise me what I had better do.”

To this singular proposal, David, listening to the ill advice of the
fiend Generosity, groaned out, “Why should you be tormented and made
cry?”

“Why indeed?”

“Nothing can change me; I advise you to cut it short.”

“Oh, do you? very well. Why did you say ‘poor Eve’?”

“Ah, poor thing! she cried for joy when she read your letter, but when
I go back she will cry for grief;” and his voice faltered.

“I will cut this short, Mr. Dodd; give me that paper.”

“Which?”

“The wicked one, where you refuse my _Rajah_.”

David hesitated.

“You are no gentleman, sir, if you refuse a lady. Give it me this
instant,” cried Lucy, so haughtily and imperiously that David did not
know her, and gave her the letter with a half-cowed air.

She took it, and with both her supple white hands tore it with
insulting precision exactly in half. “There, sir and there, sir”
 (exactly in four); “and there” (in eight, with malicious exactness);
“and there”; and, though it seemed impossible to effect another
separation, yet the taper fingers and a resolute will reduced it to
tiny bits. She then made a gesture to throw them in the fire, but
thought better of it and held them.

David looked on, almost amused at this zealous demolition of a thing
he could so easily replace. He said, part sadly, part doggedly, part
apologetically, “I can write another.”

“But you will not. Oh, Mr. Dodd, don’t you see?!”

He looked up at her eagerly. To his surprise, her haughty eagle look
had gone, and she seemed a pitying goddess, all tenderness and
benignity; only her mantling, burning cheek showed her to be woman.

She faltered, in answer to his wild, eager look. “Was I ever so rude
before? What right have I to tear your letter unless I--”

The characteristic full stop, and, above all, the heaving bosom, the
melting eye, and the red cheek, were enough even for poor simple
David. Heaven seemed to open on him. His burning kisses fell on the
sweet hands that had torn his death-warrant. No resistance. She
blushed higher, but smiled. His powerful arm curled round her. She
looked a little scared, but not much. He kissed her sweet cheek: the
blush spread to her very forehead at that, but no resistance. As the
winged and rapid bird, if her feathers be but touched with a speck of
bird-lime, loses all power of flight, so it seemed as if that one
kiss, the first a stranger had ever pressed on Lucy’s virgin cheek,
paralyzed her eel-like and evasive powers; under it her whole supple
frame seemed to yield as David drew her closer and closer to him, till
she hid her forehead and wet eyelashes on his shoulder, and murmured:

“How could I let _you_ be unhappy?!”

Neither spoke for a while. Each felt the other’s heart beat; and David
drank that ecstasy of silent, delirious bliss which comes to great
hearts once in a life.

Had he not earned it?



CHAPTER XXIX.

By some mighty instinct Mrs. Wilson knew when to come in. She came to
the door just one minute after Lucy had capitulated, and, turning the
handle, but without opening the door, bawled some fresh directions to
Jenny: this was to enable Lucy to smooth her ruffled feathers, if
necessary, and look Agnes. But Lucy’s actual contact with that honest
heart seemed to have made a change in her; instead of doing Agnes, she
confronted (after a fashion of her own) the situation she had so long
evaded.

“Oh, nurse!” she cried, and wreathed her arms round her.

“Don’t cry, my lamb! I can guess.”

“Cry? Oh no; I would not pay him so poor a compliment. It was to say,
‘Dear nurse, you must love Mr. Dodd as well as me now.’”

The dame received this indirect intelligence with hearty delight.

“That won’t cost me much trouble,” said she. “He is the one I’d have
picked out of all England for my nursling. When a young man is kind to
an old woman, it is a good sign; but la! his face is enough for me:
who ever saw guile in such a face as that. Aren’t ye hungry by this
time? Dinner will be ready in about a minute.”

“Nurse, can I speak to you a word?”

“Yes, sure.”

It was to inquire whether she would invite Miss Dodd.

“She loves her brother very dearly, and it is cruel to separate them.
Mr. Dodd will be nearly always here now, will he not?”

“You may take your davy of that.”

In a very few minutes a note was written, and Mrs. Wilson’s eldest
son, a handsome young farmer, started in the covered cart with his
mother’s orders “to bring the young lady willy-nilly.”


The holy allies both openly scouted Kenealy’s advice, and both slyly
stepped down into the town and acted on it. Mr. Fountain then returned
to Font Abbey. Their two advertisements appeared side by side, and
exasperated them.

After dinner Mrs. Wilson sent Lucy and David out to take a walk. At
the gate they met with a little interruption; a carriage drove up; the
coachman touched his hat, and Mrs. Bazalgette put her head out of the
window.

“I came to take you back, love.”

David quaked.

“Thank you, aunt; but it is not worth while now.”

“Ah!” said Mrs. Bazalgette, casting a venomous look on David; “I am
too late, am I? Poor girl!”

Lucy soothed her aunt with the information that she was much happier
now than she had been for a long time past. For this was a
fencing-match.

“May I have a word in private with my niece?” inquired Mrs.
Bazalgette, bitterly, of David.

“Why not?” said David stoutly; but his heart turned sick as he
retired. Lucy saw the look of anxiety.

“Lucy,” said Mrs. Bazalgette, “you left me because you are averse to
matrimony, and I urged you to it; of course, with those sentiments,
you have no idea of marrying that man there. I don’t suspect you of
such hypocrisy, and therefore I say come home with me, and you shall
marry nobody; your inclination shall be free as air.”

“Aunt,” said Lucy, demurely, “why didn’t you come yesterday? I always
said those who love me best would find me first, and you let Mr. Dodd
come first. I am so sorry!”

“Then your pretended aversion to marriage was all hypocrisy, was it?”

Lucy informed her that marriage was a contract, and the contracting
parties two, and no more--the bride and bridegroom; and that to sign a
contract without reading it is silly, and meaning not to keep it is
wicked. “So,” said she, “I read the contract over in the prayer-book
this morning, for fear of accidents.”

My reader may, perhaps, be amused at this admission; but Mrs.
Bazalgette was disgusted, and inquired, “What stuff is the girl
talking now?”

“It is called common sense. Well, I find the contract is one I can
carry out with Mr. Dodd, and with nobody else. I can love him a
little, can honor him a great deal, and obey him entirely. I begin
now. There he is; and if you feel you cannot show him the courtesy of
making him one in our conversation, permit me to retire and relieve
his solitude.”

“Mighty fine; and if you don’t instantly leave him and come home, you
shall never enter my house again.”

“Unless sickness or trouble should visit your house, and then you will
send for me, and I shall come.”

Mrs. Bazalgette (to the coachman).--“Home!”

Lucy made her a polite obeisance, to keep up appearances before the
servants and the farm-people, who were gaping. She, whose breeding was
inferior, flounced into a corner without returning it. The carriage
drove off.

David inquired with great anxiety whether something had not been said
to vex her.

“Not in the least,” replied Lucy, calmly. “Little things and little
people can no longer vex me. I have great duties to think of and a
great heart to share them with me. Let us walk toward Harrowden; we
may perhaps meet a friend.”

Sure enough, just on this side Harrowden they met the covered cart,
and Eve in it, radiant with unexpected delight. The engaged ones--for
such they had become in those two miles--mounted the cart, and the two
men sat in front, and Eve and Lucy intertwined at the back, and opened
their hearts to each other.

Eve. And you have taken the paper off again?

Lucy. What paper? It was no longer applicable.



CHAPTER XXX.

I HAVE already noticed that Lucy, after capitulation, laid down her
arms gracefully and sensibly. When she was asked to name a very early
day for the wedding, she opposed no childish delay to David’s
happiness, for the _Rajah_ was to sail in six weeks and separate
them. So the license was got, and the wedding-day came; and all Lucy’s
previous study of the contract did not prevent her from being deeply
affected by the solemn words that joined her to David in holy
matrimony.

She bore up, though, stoutly; for her sense of propriety and courtesy
forbade her to cloud a festivity. But, when the post-chaise came to
convey bride and bridegroom on their little tour, and she had to leave
Mrs. Wilson and Eve for a whole week, the tears would not be denied;
and, to show how perilous a road matrimony is, these two risked a
misunderstanding on their wedding-day, thus: Lucy, all alone in the
post-chaise with David, dissolved--a perfect Niobe--gushing at short
intervals. Sometimes a faint explanation gurgled out with the tears:
“Poor Eve! her dear little face was working so not to cry. Oh! oh! I
should not have minded so much if she had cried right out.” Then,
again, it was “Poor Mrs. Wilson! I was only a week with her, for all
her love. I have made a c--at’s p--paw of her--oh!”

Then, again, “Uncle Bazalgette has never noticed us; he thinks me a
h--h--ypocrite.” But quite as often they flowed without any
accompanying reason.

Now if David had been a poetaster, he would have said: “Why these
tears? she has got me. Am I not more than an equivalent to these puny
considerations?” and all this salt water would have burned into his
vanity like liquid caustic. If he had been a poet, he would have said:
“Alas! I make her unhappy whom I hoped to make happy”; and with this
he would have been sad, and so prolonged her sadness, and perhaps
ended by sulking. But David had two good things--a kind heart and a
skin not too thin: and such are the men that make women happy, in
spite of their weak nerves and craven spirits.

He gave her time; soothed her kindly; but did not check her weakness
dead short.

At last my Lady Chesterfield said to him, penitently, “This is a poor
compliment to you, Mr. Dodd”; and then Niobized again, partly, I
believe, with regret that she was behaving so discourteously.

“It is very natural,” said David, kindly, “but we shall soon see them
all again, you know.”

Presently she looked in his radiant face, with wet eyes, but a
half-smile. “You amaze me; you don’t seem the least terrified at what
we have done.”

“Not a bit,” cried David, like a cheerful horn: “I have been in worse
peril than this, and so have you. Our troubles are all over; I see
nothing but happiness ahead.” He then drew a sunny picture of their
future life, to all which she listened demurely; and, in short, he
treated her little feminine distress as the summer sun treats a mist
that tries to vie with it. He soon dried her up, and when they reached
their journey’s end she was as bright as himself.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THEY had been married a week. A slight change, but quite distinct to
an observer of her sex, bloomed in Lucy’s face and manner. A new
beauty was in her face--the blossom of wifehood. Her eyes, though not
less modest, were less timid than before; and now they often met
David’s full, and seemed to sip affection at them. When he came near
her, her lovely frame showed itself conscious of his approach. His
queen, though he did not know it, was his vassal. They sat at table at
a little inn, twenty miles from Harrowden, for they were on their
return to Mrs. Wilson. Lucy went to the window while David settled the
bill. At the window it is probable she had her own thoughts, for she
glided up behind David, and, fanning his hair with her cool, honeyed
breath, she said, in the tone of a humble inquirer seeking historical
or antiquarian information, “I want to ask you a question, David: are
you happy _too?”_

David answered promptly, but inarticulately; so his reply is lost to
posterity. Conjecture alone survives.


One disappointment awaited Lucy at Mrs. Wilson’s. There were several
letters for both David and her, but none from Mr. Bazalgette. She knew
by that she had lost his respect. She could not blame him, for she saw
how like disingenuousness and hypocrisy her conduct must look to him.
“I must trust to time and opportunity,” she said, with a sigh. She
proposed to David to read all her letters, and she would read all his.
He thought this a droll idea; but nothing that identified him with his
royal vassal came amiss. The first letter of Lucy’s that David opened
was from Mr. Talboys.


“DEAR MADAM--I have heard of your marriage with Mr. Dodd, and desire
to offer both you and him my cordial congratulations.

“I feel under considerable obligation to Mr. Dodd; and, should my
house ever have a mistress, I hope she will be able to tempt you both
to renew our acquaintance under my roof, and so give me once more that
opportunity I have too little improved of showing you both the sincere
respect and gratitude with which I am,

“Your very faithful servant,

“REGINALD TALBOYS.”


Lucy was delighted with this note. “Who says it was nothing to have
been born a gentleman?”

The second letter was from Reginald No. 2; and, if I only give the
reader a fragment of it, I still expect his gratitude, all one as if I
had disinterred a fragment of Orpheus or Tiresias.

     Dear lucy.
     It is very ungust of you to go and
     Mary other peeple wen you
     Promised me. but it is mr. dod.
     So i dont so much mind i like
     Mr. dod. he is a duc. and they all
     Say i am too litle and jane says
     Sailors always end by been
     Drouned so it is only put off.
     But you reely must keep your
     Promise to me. wen i am biger
     And mr. Dod is drouned. my
     Ginny pigs--


Here a white hand drew the pleasing composition out of David’s hand,
and dropped it on the floor; two piteous, tearful eyes were bent on
him, and a white arm went tenderly round his neck to save him from the
threatened fate.

At this sight Eve pounced on the horrid scroll, and hurled it, with
general acclamation, into the flames.

Thus that sweet infant revenged himself, and, like Sampson, hit
hardest of all at parting--in tears and flame vanished from written
fiction, and, I conclude, went back to Gavarni.

There was a letter from Mr. Fountain--all fire and fury. She was never
to write or speak to him any more. He was now looking out for a youth
of good family to adopt and to make a Fontaine of by act of
Parliament, etc., etc. A fusillade of written thunderbolts.

There was another from Mrs. Bazalgette, written with cream--of tartar
and oil--of vitriol. She forgave her niece and wished her every
happiness it was possible for a young person to enjoy who had deceived
her relations and married beneath her. She felt pity rather than
anger; and there was no reason why Mr. and Mrs. Dodd should not visit
her house, as far as she was concerned; but Mr. Bazalgette was a man
of very stern rectitude, and, as she could not make sure that he would
treat them with common courtesy after what had passed, she thought a
temporary separation might be the better course for all parties.

I may as well take this opportunity of saying that these two egotists
carried out the promise of their respective letters. Mr. Fountain
blustered for a year or two, and then showed manifest signs of
relenting.

Mrs. Bazalgette kept cool, and wrote, in oils, twice a year to Mrs.
Dodd:

“ET GARDAIT TOUT DOUCEMENT UNE HAINE IRRECONCILIABLE.”


Lucy had to answer these letters. In signing one of them, she took a
look at her new signature and smiled. “What a dear, quaint little name
mine is!” said she. “Lucy Dodd;” and she kissed the signature.

           A Month after Marriage.

The Dodds took a house in London and Eve came up to them. David was
nearly all day superintending the ship, but spent the whole evening
with his wife at home. Zeal always produces irritation. The servant
that is anxious for his employer’s interest is sure to get into a
passion or two with the deadness, indifference and heartless injustice
of the genuine hireling. So David was often irritated and worried, and
in hot water, while superintending the _Rajah,_ but the moment he
saw his own door, away he threw it all, and came into the house like a
jocund sunbeam. Nothing wins a woman more than this, provided she is
already inclined in the man’s favor. As the hour that brought David
approached, Lucy’s spirits and Eve’s used both to rise by
anticipation, and that anticipation his hearty, genial temper never
disappointed.


One day Lucy came to David for information. “David, there is a
singular change in me. It is since we came to London. I used to be a
placid girl; now I am a fidget.”

“I don’t see it, love.”

“No; how should you, dear? It always goes away when you come. Now
listen. When five o’clock comes near, I turn hot and restless, and can
hardly keep from the window; and if you are five minutes after your
time, I really cannot keep from the window; and my nerves _se
crispent,_ and I cannot sit still. It is very foolish. What does it
mean? Can you tell me?”

“Of course I can. I am just the same when people are unpunctual. It is
inexcusable, and nothing is so vexing. I ought to be--”

“Oh David, what nonsense! it is not that. Could I ever be vexed with
my David?”

“Well, then, there is Eve; we’ll ask her.”

“If you dare, sir!” and Mrs. Dodd was carnation.

           Four years after the above events

Two ladies were gossiping.

1st Lady. “What I like about Mrs. Dodd is that she is so truthful.”

2d Lady. “Oh, is she?”

1st Lady. “Yes, she is indeed. Certainly she is not a woman that
blurts out unpleasant things without any necessity; she is kind and
considerate in word and deed, but she is always true. She has got an
eye that meets you like a little lion’s eye, and a tongue without
guile. I do love Mrs. Dodd dearly.”


Two Qui his were talking in Leadenhall Street.

1st Qui hi. “Well, so you are going out again.”

2d Qui hi. “Yes; they have offered me a commissionership. I must make
another lac for the children.”

1st Qui hi. “When do you sail?”

2d Qui hi. “By the first good ship. I should like a good ship.”

1st Qui hi. “Well, then, you had better go out with Gentleman Dodd.”

2d Qui hi. “Gentleman Dodd? I should prefer Sailor Dodd. I don’t want
to founder off the Cape.”

1st Qui hi. “Oh, but this is a first-rate sailor, and a first-rate
fellow altogether.”

2d Qui hi. “Then why do you call him ‘Gentleman Dodd’?”

1st Qui hi. “Oh, because he is so polite. He won’t stand an oath
within hearing of his quarter-deck, and is particularly kind and
courteous to the passengers, especially to the ladies. His ship is
always full.”

2d Qui hi. “Is it? Then I’ll go out with ‘Gentleman Dodd.’”

                          --------------


TO MY MALE READERS.

I SEE with some surprise that there still linger in the field of
letters writers who think that, in fiction, when a personage speaks
with an air of conviction, the sentiments must be the author’s own.
(When two of his personages give each other the lie, which represents
the author? both?)

I must ask you to shun this error; for instance, do not go and take
Eve Dodd’s opinion of my heroine, or Mrs. Bazalgette’s, for mine.

Miss Dodd, in particular, however epigrammatic she may appear, is
shallow: her criticism _peche par la base._ She talks too much as
if young girls were in the habit of looking into their own minds, like
little metaphysicians, and knowing all that goes on there; but, on the
contrary, this is just what women in general don’t do, and young women
can’t do.

No male will quite understand Lucy Fountain who does not take
“instinct” and “self-deception” into the account. But with those two
dews and your own intelligence, you cannot fail to unravel her, and
will, I hope, thank me in your hearts for leaving you something to
study, and not clogging my sluggish narrative with a mass of comment
and explanation.


The End.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Love Me Little, Love Me Long" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home