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´╗┐Title: Henrietta's Wish; Or, Domineering
Author: Yonge, Charlotte M. (Charlotte Mary)
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 "Henrietta's Wish; Or, Domineering" ***

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Writers Project at Indiana University



HENRIETTA\x92S WISH;

OR, DOMINEERING


By Charlotte M. Yonge



CHAPTER I.



On the afternoon of a warm day in the end of July, an open carriage was
waiting in front of the painted toy-looking building which served as
the railway station of Teignmouth. The fine bay horses stood patiently
enduring the attacks of hosts of winged foes, too well-behaved to
express their annoyance otherwise than by twitchings of their sleek
shining skins, but duly grateful to the coachman, who roused himself now
and then to whisk off some more pertinacious tormentor with the end of
his whip.

Less patient was the sole occupant of the carriage, a maiden of about
sixteen years of age, whose shady dark grey eyes, parted lips, and
flushed complexion, were all full of the utmost eagerness, as every two
or three minutes she looked up from the book which she held in her hand
to examine the clock over the station door, compare it with her watch,
and study the countenances of the bystanders to see whether they
expressed any anxiety respecting the non-arrival of the train. All,
however, seemed quite at their ease, and after a time the arrival of the
railway omnibus and two or three other carriages, convinced her that the
rest of the world only now began to consider it to be due. At last the
ringing of a bell quickened everybody into a sudden state of activity,
and assured her that the much-desired moment was come. The cloud of
smoke was seen, the panting of the engine was heard, the train displayed
its length before the station, men ran along tapping the doors of the
carriages, and shouting a word which bore some distant resemblance to
\x93Teignmouth,\x94 and at the same moment various travellers emerged from the
different vehicles.

Her eye eagerly sought out one of these arrivals, who on his side, after
a hasty greeting to the servant who met him on the platform, hurried to
the carriage, and sprang into it. The two faces, exactly alike in form,
complexion, and features, were for one moment pressed together, then
withdrawn, in the consciousness of the publicity of the scene, but the
hands remained locked together, and earnest was the tone of the \x93Well,
Fred!\x94 \x93Well, Henrietta!\x94 which formed the greeting of the twin brother
and sister.

\x93And was not mamma well enough to come?\x94 asked Frederick, as the
carriage turned away from the station.

\x93She was afraid of the heat. She had some business letters to write
yesterday, which teased her, and she has not recovered from them yet;
but she has been very well, on the whole, this summer. But what of your
school affairs, Fred? How did the examination go off?\x94

\x93I am fourth, and Alex Langford fifth. Every one says the prize will lie
between us next year.\x94

\x93Surely,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93you must be able to beat him then, if you are
before him now.\x94

\x93Don\x92t make too sure, Henrietta,\x94 said Frederick, shaking his head,
\x93Langford is a hard-working fellow, very exact and accurate; I should
not have been before him now if it had not been for my verses.\x94

\x93I know Beatrice is very proud of Alexander,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93she would
make a great deal of his success.\x94

\x93Why of his more than of that of any other cousin?\x94 said Frederick with
some dissatisfaction.

\x93O you know he is the only one of the Knight Sutton cousins whom she
patronizes; all the others she calls cubs and bears and Osbaldistones.
And indeed, Uncle Geoffrey says he thinks it was in great part owing to
her that Alex is different from the rest. At least he began to think
him worth cultivating from the time he found him and Busy Bee perched
up together in an apple-tree, she telling him the story of Alexander the
Great. And how she always talks about Alex when she is here.\x94

\x93Is she at Knight Sutton?\x94

\x93Yes, Aunt Geoffrey would not come here, because she did not wish to
be far from London, because old Lady Susan has not been well. And only
think, Fred, Queen Bee says there is a very nice house to be let close
to the village, and they went to look at it with grandpapa, and he kept
on saying how well it would do for us.\x94

\x93O, if we could but get mamma there!\x94 said Fred. \x93What does she say?\x94

\x93She knows the house, and says it is a very pleasant one,\x94 said
Henrietta; \x93but that is not an inch--no, not the hundredth part of an
inch--towards going there!\x94

\x93It would surely be a good thing for her if she could but be brought
to believe so,\x94 said Frederick. \x93All her attachments are there--her own
home; my father\x92s home.\x94

\x93There is nothing but the sea to be attached to, here,\x94 said
Henrietta. \x93Nobody can take root without some local interest, and as to
acquaintance, the people are always changing.\x94

\x93And there is nothing to do,\x94 added Fred; \x93nothing possible but boating
and riding, which are not worth the misery which they cause her, as
Uncle Geoffrey says. It is very, very--\x94

\x93Aggravating,\x94 said Henrietta, supplying one of the numerous stock of
family slang words.

\x93Yes, aggravating,\x94 said he with a smile, \x93to be placed under the
necessity of being absurd, or of annoying her!\x94

\x93Annoying! O, Fred, you do not know a quarter of what she goes through
when she thinks you are in any danger. It could not be worse if you were
on the field of battle! And it is very strange, for she is not at all a
timid person for herself. In the boat, that time when the wind rose, I
am sure Aunt Geoffrey was more afraid than she was, and I have seen it
again and again that she is not easily frightened.\x94

\x93No: and I do not think she is afraid for you.\x94

\x93Not as she is for you, Fred; but then boys are so much more precious
than girls, and besides they love to endanger themselves so much, that I
think that is reasonable.\x94

\x93Uncle Geoffrey thinks there is something nervous and morbid in it,\x94
 said Fred: \x93he thinks that it is the remains of the horror of the sudden
shock--\x94

\x93What? Our father\x92s accident?\x94 asked Henrietta. \x93I never knew rightly
about that. I only knew it was when we were but a week old.\x94

\x93No one saw it happen,\x94 said Fred; \x93he went out riding, his horse came
home without him, and he was lying by the side of the road.\x94

\x93Did they bring him home?\x94 asked Henrietta, in the same low thrilling
tone in which her brother spoke.

\x93Yes, but he never recovered his senses: he just said \x91Mary,\x92 once or
twice, and only lived to the middle of the night!\x94

\x93Terrible!\x94 said Henrietta, with a shudder. \x93O! how did mamma ever
recover it?--at least, I do not think she has recovered it now,--but I
meant live, or be even as well as she is.\x94

\x93She was fearfully ill for long after,\x94 said Fred, \x93and Uncle Geoffrey
thinks that these anxieties for me are an effect of the shock. He says
they are not at all like her usual character. I am sure it is not to be
wondered at.\x94

\x93O no, no,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93What a mystery it has always seemed to us
about papa! She sometimes mentioning him in talking about her childish
days and Knight Sutton, but if we tried to ask any more, grandmamma
stopping us directly, till we learned to believe we ought never to utter
his name. I do believe, though, that mamma herself would have found it a
comfort to talk to us about him, if poor dear grandmamma had not always
cut her short, for fear it should be too much for her.\x94

\x93But had you not always an impression of something dreadful about his
death?\x94

\x93O yes, yes; I do not know how we acquired it, but that I am sure we
had, and it made us shrink from asking any questions, or even from
talking to each other about it. All I knew I heard from Beatrice. Did
Uncle Geoffrey tell you this?\x94

\x93Yes, he told me when he was here last Easter, and I was asking him to
speak to mamma about my fishing, and saying how horrid it was to be kept
back from everything. First he laughed, and said it was the penalty of
being an only son, and then he entered upon this history, to show me how
it is.\x94

\x93But it is very odd that she should have let you learn to ride, which
one would have thought she would have dreaded most of all.\x94

\x93That was because she thought it right, he says. Poor mamma, she said
to him, \x91Geoffrey, if you think it right that Fred should begin to
ride, never mind my folly.\x92 He says that he thinks it cost her as much
resolution to say that as it might to be martyred. And the same about
going to school.\x94

\x93Yes, yes; exactly,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93if she thinks it is right, bear it
she will, cost her what it may! O there is nobody like mamma. Busy Bee
says so, and she knows, living in London and seeing so many people as
she does.\x94

\x93I never saw anyone so like a queen,\x94 said Fred. \x93No, nor anyone so
beautiful, though she is so pale and thin. People say you are like her
in her young days, Henrietta; and to be sure, you have a decent face of
your own, but you will never be as beautiful as mamma, not if you live
to be a hundred.\x94

\x93You are afraid to compliment my face because it is so like your own,
Master Fred,\x94 retorted his sister; \x93but one comfort is, that I shall
grow more like her by living to a hundred, whereas you will lose all
the little likeness you have, and grow a grim old Black-beard! But I was
going to say, Fred, that, though I think there is a great deal of truth
in what Uncle Geoffrey said, yet I do believe that poor grandmamma made
it worse. You know she had always been in India, and knew less about
boys than mamma, who had been brought up with papa and my uncles, so
she might really believe that everything was dangerous; and I have
often seen her quite as much alarmed, or more perhaps, about you--her
consolations just showing that she was in a dreadful fright, and making
mamma twice as bad.\x94

\x93Well,\x94 said Fred, sighing, \x93that is all over now, and she thought she
was doing it all for the best.\x94

\x93And,\x94 proceeded Henrietta, \x93I think, and Queen Bee thinks, that this
perpetual staying on at Rocksand was more owing to her than to mamma.
She imagined that mamma could not bear the sight of Knight Sutton, and
that it was a great kindness to keep her from thinking of moving--\x94

\x93Ay, and that nobody can doctor her but Mr. Clarke,\x94 added Fred.

\x93Till now, I really believe,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93that the possibility of
moving has entirely passed out of her mind, and she no more believes
that she can do it than that the house can.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Fred, \x93I do not think a journey occurs to her among events
possible, and yet without being very fond of this place.\x94

\x93Fond! O no! it never was meant to be a home, and has nothing homelike
about it! All her affections are really at Knight Sutton, and if she
once went there, she would stay and be so much happier among her own
friends, instead of being isolated here with me. In grandmamma\x92s time
it was not so bad for her, but now she has no companion at all but me.
Rocksand has all the loneliness of the country without its advantages.\x94

\x93There is not much complaint as to happiness, after all,\x94 said Fred.

\x93No, O no! but then it is she who makes it delightful, and it cannot be
well for her to have no one to depend upon but me. Besides, how useless
one is here. No opportunity of doing anything for the poor people, no
clergyman who will put one into the way of being useful. O how nice it
would be at Knight Sutton!\x94

\x93And perhaps she would be cured of her fears,\x94 added Fred; \x93she would
find no one to share them, and be convinced by seeing that the cousins
there come to no harm. I wish Uncle Geoffrey would recommend it!\x94

\x93Well, we will see what we can do,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93I do think we may
persuade her, and I think we ought; it would be for her happiness and
for yours, and on all accounts I am convinced that it ought to be done.\x94

And as Henrietta came to this serious conclusion, they entered the steep
straggling street of the little town of Rocksand, and presently were
within the gates of the sweep which led to the door of the verandahed
Gothic cottage, which looked very tempting for summer\x92s lodging, but was
little fitted for a permanent abode.

In spite of all the longing wishes expressed during the drive, no
ancestral home, beloved by inheritance, could have been entered with
more affectionate rapture than that with which Frederick Langford sprung
from the carriage, and flew to the arms of his mother, receiving and
returning such a caress as could only be known by a boy conscious that
he had done nothing to forfeit home love and confidence.

Turning back the fair hair that hung over his forehead, Mrs. Langford
looked into his eyes, saying, half-interrogatively, half-affirmatively,
\x93All right, Fred? Nothing that we need be afraid to tell Uncle Geoffrey?
Well, Henrietta, he is grown, but he has not passed you yet. And now,
Freddy, tell us about your examination,\x94 added she, as fondly leaning on
his arm, she proceeded into the drawing-room, and they sat down together
on the sofa, talking eagerly and joyously.

Mrs. Frederick Henry Langford, to give her her proper style, was in
truth one whose peculiar loveliness of countenance well deserved the
admiration expressed by her son. It was indeed pale and thin, but the
features were beautifully formed, and had that expression of sweet
placid resignation which would have made a far plainer face beautiful.
The eyes were deep dark blue, and though sorrow and suffering had dimmed
their brightness, their softness was increased; the smile was one of
peace, of love, of serenity; of one who, though sorrow-stricken, as it
were, before her time, had lived on in meek patience and submission,
almost a child in her ways, as devoted to her mother, as little with
a will and way of her own, as free from the cares of this work-a-day
world. The long luxuriant dark brown hair, which once, as now with
Henrietta, had clustered in thick glossy ringlets over her comb and
round her face, was in thick braids beneath the delicate lace cap which
suited with her plain black silk dress. Her figure was slender, so tall
that neither her well-grown son nor daughter had yet reached her height,
and, as Frederick said, with something queenlike in its unconscious
grace and dignity.

As a girl she had been the merriest of the merry, and even now she had
great playfulness of manner, and threw herself into the occupation of
the moment with a life and animation that gave an uncommon charm to
her manners, so that how completely sorrow had depressed and broken her
spirit would scarcely have been guessed by one who had not known her in
earlier days.

Frederick\x92s account of his journey and of his school news was heard and
commented on, a work of time extending far into the dinner; the next
matter in the regular course of conversation on the day of arrival
was to talk over Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey\x92s proceedings, and the Knight
Sutton affairs.

\x93So, Uncle Geoffrey has been in the North?\x94 said Fred.

\x93Yes, on a special retainer,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, \x93and very much he
seems to have enjoyed his chance of seeing York Cathedral.\x94

\x93He wrote to me in court,\x94 said Fred, \x93to tell me what books I had
better get up for this examination, and on a bit of paper scribbled
all over one side with notes of the evidence. He said the Cathedral was
beautiful beyond all he ever imagined.\x94

\x93Had he never seen it before?\x94 said Henrietta. \x93Lawyers seem made to
travel in their vacations.\x94

\x93Uncle Geoffrey could not be spared,\x94 said her mamma; \x93I do not know
what Grandmamma Langford would do if he cheated her of any more of his
holidays than he bestows upon us. He is far too valuable to be allowed
to take his own pleasure.\x94

\x93Besides, his own pleasure is at Knight Sutton,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93He goes home just as he used from school,\x94 said Mrs. Langford. \x93Indeed,
except a few grey hairs and crows feet, he is not in the least altered
from those days; his work and play come in just the same way.\x94

\x93And, as his daughter says, he is just as much the home pet,\x94 added
Henrietta, \x93only rivalled by Busy Bee herself.\x94

\x93No,\x94 said Fred, \x93according to Aunt Geoffrey, there are two suns in one
sphere: Queen Bee is grandpapa\x92s pet, Uncle Geoffrey grandmamma\x92s. It
must be great fun to see them.\x94

\x93Happy people!\x94 said Mrs. Langford.

\x93Henrietta says,\x94 proceeded Fred, \x93that there is a house to be let at
Knight Sutton.\x94

\x93The Pleasance; yes, I know it well,\x94 said his mother: \x93it is not
actually in the parish, but close to the borders, and a very pretty
place.\x94

\x93With a pretty little stream in the garden, Fred, \x93said Henrietta, \x93and
looking into that beautiful Sussex coom, that there is a drawing of in
mamma\x92s room.\x94

\x93What size is it?\x94 added Fred.

\x93The comparative degree,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, \x93but my acquaintance
with it does not extend beyond the recollection of a pretty-looking
drawing-room with French windows, and a lawn where I used to be allowed
to run about when I went with Grandmamma Langford to call on the old
Miss Drakes. I wonder your Uncle Roger does not take it, for those boys
can scarcely, I should think, be wedged into Sutton Leigh when they are
all at home.\x94

\x93I wish some one else would take it,\x94 said Fred.

\x93Some one,\x94 added Henrietta, \x93who would like it of all things, and be
quite at home there.\x94

\x93A person,\x94 proceeded the boy, \x93who likes Knight Sutton and its
inhabitants better than anything else.\x94

\x93Only think,\x94 joined in the young lady, \x93how delightful it would be. I
can just fancy you, mamma, sitting out on this lawn you talk of, on a
summer\x92s day, and nursing your pinks and carnations, and listening to
the nightingales, and Grandpapa and Grandmamma Langford, and Uncle
and Aunt Roger, and the cousins coming walking in at any time without
ringing at the door! And how nice to have Queen Bee and Uncle and Aunt
Geoffrey all the vacation!\x94

\x93Without feeling as if we were robbing Knight Sutton,\x94 said Mrs.
Langford. \x93Why, we should have you a regular little country maid,
Henrietta, riding shaggy ponies, and scrambling over hedges, as your
mamma did before you.\x94

\x93And being as happy as a queen,\x94 said Henrietta; \x93and the poor people,
you know them all, don\x92t you, mamma?\x94

\x93I know their names, but my generation must have nearly passed away. But
I should like you to see old Daniels the carpenter, whom the boys used
to work with, and who was so fond of them. And the old schoolmistress
in her spectacles. How she must be scandalized by the introduction of a
noun and a verb!\x94

\x93Who has been so cruel?\x94 asked Fred. \x93Busy Bee, I suppose.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93she teaches away with all her might; but she
says she is afraid they will forget it all while she is in London, for
there is no one to keep it up. Now, I could do that nicely. How I should
like to be Queen Bee\x92s deputy.\x94

\x93But,\x94 said Fred, \x93how does Beatrice manage to make grandmamma endure
such novelties? I should think she would disdain them more than the old
mistress herself.\x94

\x93Queen Bee\x92s is not merely a nominal sovereignty,\x94 said Mrs. Langford.

\x93Besides,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93the new Clergyman approves of all that sort
of thing; he likes her to teach, and puts her in the way of it.\x94



CHAPTER II.



From this time forward everything tended towards Knight Sutton: castles
in the air, persuasions, casual words which showed the turn of thought
of the brother and sister, met their mother every hour. Nor was she, as
Henrietta truly said, entirely averse to the change; she loved to talk
of what she still regarded as her home, but the shrinking dread of the
pang it must give to return to the scene of her happiest days, to the
burial-place of her husband, to the abode of his parents, had been
augmented by the tender over-anxious care of her mother, Mrs. Vivian,
who had strenuously endeavoured to prevent her from ever taking such a
proposal into consideration, and fairly led her at length to believe it
out of the question.

A removal would in fact have been impossible during the latter years of
Mrs. Vivian\x92s life: but she had now been dead about eighteen months, her
daughter had recovered from the first grief of her loss, and there was
a general impression throughout the family that now was the time for
her to come amongst them again. For herself, the possibility was but
beginning to dawn upon her; just at first she joined in building castles
and imagining scenes at Knight Sutton, without thinking of their being
realized, or that it only depended upon her, to find herself at home
there; and when Frederick and Henrietta, encouraged by this manner of
talking, pressed it upon her, she would reply with some vague intention
of a return some time or other, but still thinking of it as something
far away, and rather to be dreaded than desired.

It was chiefly by dint of repetition that it fully entered her mind
that it was their real and earnest wish that she should engage to take
a lease of the Pleasance, and remove almost immediately from her present
abode; and from this time it might be perceived that she always shrank
from entering on the subject in a manner which gave them little reason
to hope.

\x93Yet, I think,\x94 said Henrietta to her brother one afternoon as they
were walking together on the sands; \x93I think if she once thought it was
right, if Uncle Geoffrey would tell her so, or if grandpapa would really
tell her that he wished it, I am quite sure that she would resolve upon
it.\x94

\x93But why did he not do so long ago?\x94 said Fred.

\x93O! because of grandmamma, I suppose,\x94 said Henrietta; \x93but he really
does wish it, and I should not at all wonder if the Busy Bee could put
it into his head to do it.\x94

\x93Or if Uncle Geoffrey would advise her,\x94 said Fred; \x93but it never
answers to try to make him propose anything to her. He never will do it;
he always says he is not the Pope, or something to that effect.\x94

\x93If I was not fully convinced that it was right, and the best for all
parties, I would not say so much about it,\x94 said Henrietta, in a tone
rather as if she was preparing for some great sacrifice, instead of
domineering over her mother.

To domineering, her temptation was certainly great. With all her good
sense and ability, Mrs. Langford had seldom been called upon to decide
for herself, but had always relied upon her mother for counsel; and
during her long and gradual decline had learnt to depend upon her
brother-in-law, Mr. Geoffrey Langford, for direction in great affairs,
and in lesser ones upon her children. Girls are generally older of their
age than boys, and Henrietta, a clever girl and her mother\x92s constant
companion, occupied a position in the family which amounted to something
more than prime minister. Some one person must always be leader, and
thus she had gradually attained, or had greatness thrust upon her; for
justice requires it to be stated, that she more frequently tried to know
her mamma\x92s mind for her, than to carry her own point, though perhaps to
do so always was more than could be expected of human nature at sixteen.
The habit of being called on to settle whether they should use the
britska or the pony carriage, whether satin or silk was best, or this or
that book should be ordered, was, however, sufficient to make her very
unwilling to be thwarted in other matters of more importance, especially
in one on which were fixed the most ardent hopes of her brother, and the
wishes of all the family.

Their present abode was, as she often said to herself, not the one best
calculated for the holiday sports of a boy of sixteen, yet Frederick,
having been used to nothing else, was very happy, and had tastes formed
on their way of life. The twins, as little children, had always had the
same occupations, Henrietta learning Latin, marbles, and trap-ball, and
Frederick playing with dolls and working cross-stitch; and even now the
custom was so far continued, that he gave lessons in Homer and Euclid
for those which he received in Italian and music. For present amusement
there was no reason to complain; the neighbourhood supplied many
beautiful walks, while longer expeditions were made with Mrs. Langford
in the pony carriage, and sketching, botanizing, and scrambling, were
the order of the day. Boating too was a great delight, and had it not
been for an occasional fretting recollection that he could not go out
sailing without his mamma, and that most of his school fellows were
spending their holidays in a very different manner, he would have been
perfectly happy. Fortunately he had not sufficient acquaintance with the
boys in the neighbourhood for the contrast to be often brought before
him.

Henrietta did not do much to reconcile him to the anxious care
with which he was guarded. She was proud of his talents, of his
accomplishments, of his handsome features, and she would willingly have
been proud of his excellence in manly sports, but in lieu of this she
was proud of the spirit which made him long for them, and encouraged it
by her full and entire sympathy. The belief that the present restraints
must be diminished at Knight Sutton, was a moving spring with her, as
much as her own wish for the scenes round which imagination had thrown
such a brilliant halo. Of society they had hitherto seen little or
nothing; Mrs. Langford\x92s health and spirits had never been equal to
visiting, nor was there much to tempt her in the changing inhabitants of
a watering-place. Now and then, perhaps, an old acquaintance or distant
connexion of some part of the family came for a month or six weeks, and
a few calls were exchanged, and it was one of these visits that led to
the following conversation.

\x93By the by, mamma,\x94 said Fred, \x93I meant to ask you what that foolish
woman meant about the St. Legers, and their not having thoroughly
approved of Aunt Geoffrey\x92s marriage.\x94

\x93About the most ill-placed thing she could have said, Freddy,\x94 replied
Mrs. Langford, \x93considering that I was always accused of having made the
match.\x94

\x93Made the match! O tell us, mamma; tell us all about it. Did you
really?\x94

\x93Not consciously; Fred, and Frank St. Leger deserves as much of the
credit as I do.\x94

\x93Who was he? a brother of Aunt Geoffrey\x92s?\x94

\x93O yes, Fred,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93to be sure you knew that. You have heard
how mamma came home from India with General St. Leger and his little boy
and girl. But by the by, mamma, what became of their mother?\x94

\x93Lady Beatrice? She died in India just before we came home. Well, I used
to stay with them after we came back to England, and of course talked to
my friend--\x94

\x93Call her Beatrice, mamma, and make a story of it.\x94

\x93I talked to her about my Knight Sutton home, and cousins, and on the
other hand, then, Frank was always telling her about his school friend
Geoffrey Langford. At last Frank brought him home from Oxford one Easter
vacation. It was when the general was in command at ----, and Beatrice
was in the midst of all sorts of gaieties, the mistress of the house,
entertaining everybody, and all exactly what a novel would call
brilliant.\x94

\x93Were you there, mamma?\x94

\x93Yes, Beatrice had made a point of our coming to stay with her, and very
droll it was to see how she and Geoffrey were surprised at each other;
she to find her brother\x92s guide, philosopher, and friend, the Langford
who had gained every prize, a boyish-looking, boyish-mannered youth,
very shy at first, and afterwards, excellent at giggling and making
giggle; and he to find one with the exterior of a fine gay lady, so
really simple in tastes and habits.\x94

\x93Was Aunt Geoffrey ever pretty?\x94 asked Fred.

\x93She is just what she was then, a little brown thing with no actual
beauty but in her animation and in her expression. I never saw a really
handsome person who seemed to me nearly as charming. Then she had, and
indeed has now, so much air and grace, so much of what, for want of a
better word, I must call fashion in her appearance, that she was always
very striking.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93I can quite see that; it is not gracefulness,
and it is not beauty, nor is it what she ever thinks of, but there is
something distinguished about her. I should look twice at her if I met
her in the street, and expect her to get into a carriage with a coronet.
And then and there they fell in love, did they?\x94

\x93In long morning expeditions with the ostensible purpose of sketching,
but in which I had all the drawing to myself, while the others talked
either wondrous wisely or wondrous drolly. However, you must not suppose
that anything of the novel kind was said then; Geoffrey was only twenty,
and Beatrice seemed as much out of his reach as the king\x92s daughter of
Hongarie.\x94

\x93O yes, of course,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93but that only makes it more
delightful! Only to think of Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey having a novel in
their history.\x94

\x93That there are better novels in real life than in stories, is a truth
or a truism often repeated, Henrietta,\x94 said her mother with a soft
sigh, which she repressed in an instant, and proceeded: \x93Poor Frank\x92s
illness and death at Oxford brought them together the next year in a
very different manner. Geoffrey was one of his chief nurses to the last,
and was a great comfort to them all; you may suppose how grateful they
were to him. Next time I saw him, he seemed quite to have buried his
youthful spirits in his studies: he was reading morning, noon, and
night, and looking ill and overworked.\x94

\x93O, Uncle Geoffrey! dear good Uncle Geoffrey,\x94 cried Henrietta, in an
ecstasy; \x93you were as delightful as a knight of old, only as you could
not fight tournaments for her, you were obliged to read for her; and
pining away all the time and saying nothing about it.\x94

\x93Nothing beyond a demure inquiry of me when we were alone together,
after the health of the General. Well, you know how well his reading
succeeded; he took a double first class, and very proud of him we were.\x94

\x93And still he saw nothing of her,\x94 said Fred.

\x93Not till some time after he had been settled in his chambers at the
Temple. Now you must know that General St. Leger, though in most matters
a wise man, was not by any means so in money matters: and by some
unlucky speculation which was to have doubled his daughter\x92s fortune,
managed to lose the whole of it, leaving little but his pay.\x94

\x93Capital!\x94 cried Frederick, \x93that brings her down to him.\x94

\x93So it did,\x94 said his mother, smiling; \x93but the spectators did not
rejoice quite so heartily as you do. The general\x92s health was failing,
and it was hard to think what would become of Beatrice; for Lord St.
Leger\x92s family, though very kind, were not more congenial than they are
now. As soon as all this was pretty well known, Geoffrey spoke, and the
general, who was very fond of him, gave full consent. They meant to wait
until it was prudent, of course, and were well contented; but just after
it was all settled, the general had a sudden seizure, and died. Geoffrey
was with him, and he treated him like a son, saying it was his great
comfort to know that her happiness was in his hands. Poor Beatrice, she
went first to the St. Legers, stayed with them two or three months, then
I would have her to be my bridesmaid, though\x94--and Mrs. Langford tried
to smile, while again she strangled a sobbing sigh--\x93she warned me that
her mourning was a bad omen. Well, she stayed with my mother while we
went abroad, and on our return went with us to be introduced at Knight
Sutton. Everybody was charmed, Mrs. Langford and Aunt Roger had expected
a fine lady or a blue one, but they soon learnt to believe all her
gaiety and all her cleverness a mere calumny, and grandpapa was
delighted with her the first moment. How well I remember Geoffrey\x92s
coming home and thanking us for having managed so well as to make her
like one of the family, while the truth was that she had fitted herself
in, and found her place from the first moment. Now came a time of grave
private conferences. A long engagement which might have been very well
if the general had lived, was a dreary prospect now that Beatrice was
without a home; but then your uncle was but just called to the bar,
and had next to nothing of his own, present or to come. However, he
had begun his literary works, and found them answer so well, that he
believed he could maintain himself till briefs came in, and he had the
sort of talent which gives confidence. He thought, too, that even in
the event of his death she would be better off as one of us, than as
a dependent on the St. Legers; and at last by talking to us, he nearly
persuaded himself to believe it would be a very prudent thing to marry.
It was a harder matter to persuade his father, but persuade him he did,
and the wedding was at Knight Sutton that very summer.\x94

\x93That\x92s right,\x94 cried Fred, \x93excellent and glorious! A farthing for all
the St. Legers put together.\x94

\x93Nevertheless, Fred, in spite of your disdain, we were all of opinion
that it was a matter of rejoicing that Lord St. Leger and Lady
Amelia were present, so that no one had any reason to say that they
disapproved. Moreover, lest you should learn imprudence from my story,
I would also suggest that if your uncle and aunt had not been a couple
comme il-y-en a peu, it would neither have been excellent nor glorious.\x94

\x93Why, they are very well off,\x94 said Fred; \x93he is quite at the head of
his profession. The first thing a fellow asks me when he hears my name
is, if I belong to Langford the barrister.\x94

\x93Yes, but he never would have been eminent, scarcely have had daily
bread, if he had not worked fearfully hard, so hard that without the
buoyant school-boy spirit, which can turn from the hardest toil like a
child to its play, his health could never have stood it.\x94

\x93But then it has been success and triumph,\x94 said Fred; \x93one could work
like a galley-slave with encouragement, and never feel it drudgery.\x94

\x93It was not all success at first,\x94 said his mother; \x93there was hard
work, and disappointment, and heavy sorrow too; but they knew how to
bear it, and to win through with it.\x94

\x93And were they very poor?\x94 asked Henrietta.

\x93Yes: but it was beautiful to see how she accommodated herself to it.
The house that once looked dingy and desolate, was very soon pretty and
cheerful, and the wirtschaft so well ordered and economical, that Aunt
Roger was struck dumb with admiration. I shall not forget Lady Susan\x92s
visit the last morning we spent with her in London, how amazed she was
to find \x91poor Beatrice\x92 looking so bright and like herself, and how
little she guessed at her morning\x92s work, the study of shirt-making, and
the copying out a review of her husband\x92s, full of Greek quotations.\x94

\x93Well, the poverty is all over now,\x94 said Henrietta; \x93but still they
live in a very quiet way, considering Aunt Geoffrey\x92s connexions and the
fortune he has made.\x94

\x93Who put that notion into your head, my wise daughter?\x94 said Mrs.
Langford.

Henrietta blushed, laughed, and mentioned Lady Matilda St. Leger, a
cousin of her aunt Geoffrey\x92s of whom she had seen something in the last
year.

\x93The truth is,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, \x93that your aunt had display and
luxury enough in her youth to value it as it deserves, and he could not
desire it except for her sake. They had rather give with a free hand,
beyond what any one knows or suspects.\x94

\x93Ah! I know among other things that he sends Alexander to school,\x94 said
Fred.

\x93Yes, and the improvements at Knight Sutton,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93the
school, and all that grandpapa wished but could never afford. Well,
mamma, if you made the match, you deserve to be congratulated on your
work.\x94

\x93There\x92s nobody like Uncle Geoffrey, I have said, and shall always
maintain,\x94 said Fred.

His mother sighed, saying, \x93I don\x92t know what we should have done
without him!\x94 and became silent. Henrietta saw an expression on her
countenance which made her unwilling to disturb her, and nothing more
was said till it was discovered that it was bed time.



CHAPTER III.



\x93Where is Madame?\x94 asked Frederick of his sister, as she entered the
breakfast room alone the next morning with the key of the tea-chest in
her hand.

\x93A headache,\x94 answered Henrietta, \x93and a palpitation.\x94

\x93A bad one?\x94

\x93Yes, very; and I am afraid it is our fault, Freddy; I am convinced it
will not do, and we must give it up.\x94

\x93How do you mean? The going to Knight Sutton? What has that to do with
it? Is it the reviving old recollections that is too much for her?\x94

\x93Just listen what an effect last evening\x92s conversation had upon her.
Last night, after I had been asleep a long time, I woke up, and there
I saw her kneeling before the table with her hands over her face. Just
then it struck one, and soon after she got into bed. I did not let her
know I was awake, for speaking would only have made it worse, but I am
sure she did not sleep all night, and this morning she had one of her
most uncomfortable fits of palpitation. She had just fallen asleep, when
I looked in after dressing, but I do not think she will be fit to come
down to-day.\x94

\x93And do you think it was talking of Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey that brought
it on?\x94 said Fred, with much concern; \x93yet it did not seem to have much
to do with my father.\x94

\x93O but it must,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93He must have been there all the time
mixed up in everything. Queen Bee has told me how they were always
together when they were children.\x94

\x93Ah! perhaps; and I noticed how she spoke about her wedding,\x94 said
Fred. \x93Yes, and to compare how differently it has turned out with Aunt
Geoffrey and with her, after they had been young and happy together.
Yes, no doubt it was he who persuaded the people at Knight Sutton into
letting them marry!\x94

\x93And their sorrow that she spoke of must have been his death,\x94 said
Henrietta. \x93No doubt the going over those old times renewed all those
thoughts.\x94

\x93And you think going to Knight Sutton might have the same effect. Well,
I suppose we must give it up,\x94 said Fred, with a sigh. \x93After all, we
can be very happy here!\x94

\x93O yes! that we can. It is more on your account than mine, that I wished
it,\x94 said the sister.

\x93And I should not have thought so much of it, if I had not thought it
would be pleasanter for you when I am away,\x94 said Fred.

\x93And so,\x94 said Henrietta, laughing yet sighing, \x93we agree to persuade
each other that we don\x92t care about it.\x94

Fred performed a grimace, and remarked that if Henrietta continued to
make her tea so scalding, there would soon be a verdict against her
of fratricide; but the observation, being intended to conceal certain
feelings of disappointment and heroism, only led to silence.

After sleeping for some hours, Mrs. Langford awoke refreshed, and got
up, but did not leave her room. Frederick and Henrietta went to take a
walk by her desire, as she declared that she preferred being alone, and
on their return they found her lying on the sofa.

\x93Mamma has been in mischief,\x94 said Fred. \x93She did not think herself
knocked up enough already, so she has been doing it more thoroughly.\x94

\x93Oh, mamma!\x94 was Henrietta\x92s reproachful exclamation, as she looked at
her pale face and red swollen eyelids.

\x93Never mind, my dears,\x94 said she, trying to smile, \x93I shall be better
now this is done, and I have it off my mind.\x94 They looked at her in
anxious interrogation, and she smiled outright with lip and eye. \x93You
will seal that letter with a good will, Henrietta,\x94 she said. \x93It is to
ask Uncle Geoffrey to make inquiries about the Pleasance.\x94

\x93Mamma!\x94 and they stood transfixed at a decision beyond their hopes:
then Henrietta exclaimed--

\x93No, no, mamma, it will be too much for you; you must not think of it.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Fred; \x93indeed we agreed this morning that it would be
better not. Put it out of your head, mamma, and go on here in peace and
comfort. I am sure it suits you best.\x94

\x93Thank you, thank you, my dear ones,\x94 said she, drawing them towards
her, and fondly kissing them, \x93but it is all settled, and I am sure it
is better for you. It is but a dull life for you here.\x94

\x93O no, no, no, dearest mamma: nothing can be dull with you,\x94 cried
Henrietta, wishing most sincerely to undo her own work. \x93We are, indeed
we are, as happy as the day is long. Do not fancy we are discontented;
do not think we want a change.\x94

Mrs. Langford replied by an arch though subdued smile.

\x93But we would not have you to do it on our account,\x94 said Fred. \x93Pray
put it out of your head, for we do very well here, and it was only a
passing fancy.\x94

\x93You will not talk me out of it, my dears,\x94 said Mrs. Langford. \x93I know
it is right, and it shall be done. It is only the making up my mind that
was the struggle, and I shall look forward to it as much as either of
you, when I know it is to be done. Now walk off, my dears, and do not
let that letter be too late for the post.\x94

\x93I do not half like it,\x94 said Fred, pausing at the door.

\x93I have not many fears on that score,\x94 said she, smiling. \x93No, do not
be uneasy about me, my dear Fred, it is my proper place, and I must be
happy there. I shall like to be near the Hall, and to see all the dear
old places again.\x94

\x93O, mamma, you cannot talk about them without your voice quivering,\x94
 said Henrietta. \x93You do not know how I wish you would give it up!\x94

\x93Give it up! I would not for millions,\x94 said Mrs. Langford. \x93Now go, my
dears, and perhaps I shall go to sleep again.\x94

The spirits of the brother and sister did not just at first rise enough
for rejoicing over the decision. Henrietta would willingly have kept
back the letter, but this she could not do; and sealing it as if
she were doing wrong, she sat down to dinner, feeling subdued and
remorseful, something like a tyrant between the condemnation and
execution of his victim. But by the time the first course was over, and
she and Frederick had begun to recollect their long-cherished wishes,
they made up their minds to be happy, and fell into their usual strain
of admiration of the unknown haven of their hopes, and of expectations
that it would in the end benefit their mother.

The next morning she was quite in her usual spirits, and affairs
proceeded in the usual manner; Frederick\x92s holidays came to an end, and
he returned to school with many a fond lamentation from the mother and
sister, but with cheerful auguries from both that the next meeting might
be at Knight Sutton.

\x93Here, Henrietta,\x94 said her mother, as they sat at breakfast together a
day or two after Frederick\x92s departure, turning over to her the letter
of which she had first broken the seal, while she proceeded to open some
others. It was Uncle Geoffrey\x92s writing, and Henrietta read eagerly:


\x93MY DEAR MARY,--I would not write till I could give you some positive
information about the Pleasance, and that could not be done without a
conference with Hardy, who was not at home. I am heartily glad that you
think of coming among us again, but still I should like to feel certain
that it is you that feel equal to it, and not the young ones who are set
upon the plan. I suppose you will indignantly refute the charge, but you
know I have never trusted you in that matter. However, we are too much
the gainers to investigate motives closely, and I cannot but believe
that the effort once over, you would find it a great comfort to be among
your own people, and in your own country. I fully agree with you also in
what you say of the advantage to Henrietta and Fred. My father is going
to write, and I must leave him to do justice to his own cordiality, and
proceed to business.\x94


Then came the particulars of freehold and copyhold, purchase or lease,
repair or disrepair, of which Henrietta knew nothing, and cared less;
she knew that her mamma was considered a great heiress, and trusted to
her wealth for putting all she pleased in her power: but it was rather
alarming to recollect that Uncle Geoffrey would consider it right to
make the best terms he could, and that the house might be lost to them
while they were bargaining for it.

\x93O, mamma, never mind what he says about its being dear,\x94 said she, \x93I
dare say it will not ruin us.\x94

\x93Not exactly,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, smiling, \x93but gentlemen consider it a
disgrace not to make a good bargain, and Uncle Geoffrey must be allowed
to have his own way.\x94

\x93O but, mamma, suppose some one else should take it.\x94

\x93A village house is not like these summer lodgings, which are snapped up
before you can look at them,\x94 said Mrs. Langford; \x93I have no fears but
that it is to be had.\x94 But Henrietta could not help fancying that her
mother would regard it somewhat as a reprieve, if the bargain was to go
off independently of any determination of hers.

Still she had made up her mind to look cheerfully at the scheme, and
often talked of it with pleasure, to which the cordial and affectionate
letters of her father-in-law and the rest of the family, conduced not a
little. She now fully perceived that it had only been from forbearance,
that they had not before urged her return, and as she saw how earnestly
it was desired by Mr. and Mrs. Langford, reproached herself as for
a weakness for not having sooner resolved upon her present step.
Henrietta\x92s work was rather to keep up her spirits at the prospect,
than to prevent her from changing her purpose, which never altered,
respecting a return to the neighbourhood of Knight Sutton, though
whether to the house of the tempting name, was a question which remained
in agitation during the rest of the autumn, for as surely as Rome was
not built in a day, so surely cannot a house be bought or sold in a day,
especially when a clever and cautious lawyer acts for one party.

Matters thus dragged on, till the space before the Christmas holidays
was reckoned by weeks, instead of months, and as Mrs. Frederick Langford
laughingly said, she should be fairly ashamed to meet her boy again at
their present home. She therefore easily allowed herself to be persuaded
to accept Mr. Langford\x92s invitation to take up her quarters at the Hall,
and look about her a little before finally deciding upon the Pleasance.
Christmas at Knight Sutton Hall had the greatest charms in the eyes
of Henrietta and Frederick; for many a time had they listened to the
descriptions given con amore by Beatrice Langford, to whom that place
had ever been a home, perhaps the more beloved, because the other half
of her life was spent in London.

It was a great disappointment, however, to hear that Mrs. Geoffrey
Langford was likely to be detained in London by the state of health of
her aunt, Lady Susan St. Leger, whom she did not like to leave, while no
other of the family was at hand. This was a cruel stroke, but she could
not bear that her husband should miss his yearly holiday, her daughter
lose the pleasure of a fortnight with Henrietta, or Mr. and Mrs.
Langford be deprived of the visit of their favourite son: and she
therefore arranged to go and stay with Lady Susan, while Beatrice and
her father went as usual to Knight Sutton.

Mr. Geoffrey Langford offered to escort his sister-in-law from
Devonshire, but she did not like his holidays to be so wasted. She had
no merely personal apprehensions, and new as railroads were to her,
declared herself perfectly willing and able to manage with no companions
but her daughter and maid, with whom she was to travel to his house
in London, there to be met in a day or two by the two school-boys,
Frederick and his cousin Alexander, and then proceed all together to
Knight Sutton.

Henrietta could scarcely believe that the long-wished-for time was
really come, packing up actually commencing, and that her waking would
find her under a different roof from that which she had never left. She
did not know till now that she had any attachments to the place she
had hitherto believed utterly devoid of all interest; but she found she
could not bid it farewell without sorrow. There was the old boatman with
his rough kindly courtesy, and his droll ways of speaking; there was the
rocky beach where she and her brother had often played on the verge of
the ocean, watching with mysterious awe or sportive delight the ripple
of the advancing waves, the glorious sea itself, the walks, the woods,
streams, and rocks, which she now believed, as mamma and Uncle Geoffrey
had often told her, were more beautiful than anything she was likely to
find in Sussex. Other scenes there were, connected with her grandmother,
which she grieved much at parting with, but she shunned talking over her
regrets, lest she should agitate her mother, whom she watched with great
anxiety.

She was glad that so much business was on her hands, as to leave little
time for dwelling on her feelings, to which she attributed the
calm quietness with which she went through the few trying days that
immediately preceded their departure. Henrietta felt this constant
employment so great a relief to her own spirits, that she was sorry on
her own account, as well as her mother\x92s, when every possible order had
been given, every box packed, and nothing was to be done, but to sit
opposite to each other, on each side of the fire, in the idleness which
precedes candle-light. Her mother leant back in silence, and she watched
her with an anxious gaze. She feared to say anything of sympathy
with what she supposed her feeling, lest she should make her weep. An
indifferent speech would be out of place even if Henrietta herself could
have made it, and yet to remain silent was to allow melancholy thoughts
to prey upon her. So thought the daughter, longing at the same time that
her persuasions were all unsaid.

\x93Come here, my dear child,\x94 said her mother presently, and Henrietta
almost started at the calmness of the voice, and the serenity of the
tranquil countenance. She crossed to her mother, and sat down on a
low footstool, leaning against her. \x93You are very much afraid for me,\x94
 continued Mrs. Langford, as she remarked upon the anxious expression of
her face, far different from her own, \x93but you need not fear, it is all
well with me; it would be wrong not to be thankful for those who are not
really lost to me as well as for those who were given to me here.\x94

All Henrietta\x92s consideration for her mother could not prevent her from
bursting into tears. \x93O mamma, I did not know it would be so like going
away from dear grandmamma.\x94

\x93Try to feel the truth, my dear, that our being near to her depends on
whether we are in our duty or not.\x94

\x93Yes, yes, but this place is so full of her! I do so love it! I did not
know it till now!\x94

\x93Yes, we must always love it, my dear child; but we are going to our
home, Henrietta, to your father\x92s home in life and death, and it must be
good for us to be there. With your grandfather, who has wished for us.
Knight Sutton is our true home, the one where it is right for us to be.\x94

Henrietta still wept bitterly, and strange it was that it should be she
who stood in need of consolation, for the fulfilment of her own most
ardent wish, and from the very person to whom it was the greatest trial.
It was not, however, self-reproach that caused her tears, that her
mother\x92s calmness prevented her from feeling, but only attachment to the
place she was about to leave, and the recollections, which she accused
herself of having slighted. Her mother, who had made up her mind to do
what was right, found strength and peace at the moment of trial, when
the wayward and untrained spirits of the daughter gave way. Not that she
blamed Henrietta, she was rather gratified to find that she was so much
attached to her home and her grandmother, and felt so much with her; and
after she had succeeded in some degree in restoring her to composure,
they talked long and earnestly over old times and deeper feelings.



CHAPTER IV.



The journey to London was prosperously performed, and Mrs. Frederick
Langford was not overfatigued when she arrived at Uncle Geoffrey\x92s house
at Westminster. The cordiality of their greeting may be imagined, as a
visit from Henrietta had been one of the favourite visions of her cousin
Beatrice, through her whole life; and the two girls were soon deep in
the delights of a conversation in which sense and nonsense had an equal
share.

The next day was spent by the two Mrs. Langfords in quiet together,
while Henrietta was conducted through a rapid whirl of sight-seeing by
Beatrice and Uncle Geoffrey, the latter of whom, to his niece\x92s great
amazement, professed to find almost as much novelty in the sights as she
did. A short December day, though not what they would have chosen, had
this advantage, that the victim could not be as completely fagged and
worn out as in a summer\x92s day, and Henrietta was still fresh and in high
spirits when they drove home and found to their delight that the two
schoolboys had already arrived.

Beatrice met both alike as old friends and almost brothers, but
Alexander, though returning her greeting with equal cordiality, looked
shyly at the new aunt and cousin, and as Henrietta suspected, wished
them elsewhere. She had heard much of him from Beatrice, and knew that
her brother regarded him as a formidable rival; and she was therefore
surprised to see that his broad honest face expressed more good
humour than intellect, and his manners wanted polish. He was tolerably
well-featured, with light eyes and dark hair, and though half a year
older than his cousin, was much shorter, more perhaps in appearance than
reality, from the breadth and squareness of his shoulders, and from not
carrying himself well.

Alexander was, as ought previously to have been recorded, the third son
of Mr. Roger Langford, the heir of Knight Sutton, at present living at
Sutton Leigh, a small house on his father\x92s estate, busied with farming,
sporting, and parish business; while his active wife contrived to make
a narrow income feed, clothe, and at least half educate their endless
tribe of boys. Roger, the eldest, was at sea; Frederick, the second, in
India; and Alexander owed his more learned education to Uncle Geoffrey,
who had been well recompensed by his industry and good conduct. Indeed
his attainments had always been so superior to those of his brothers,
that he might have been considered as a prodigy, had not his cousin
Frederick been always one step before him.

Fred had greater talent, and had been much better taught at home, so
that on first going to school, he took and kept the higher place; but
this was but a small advantage in his eyes, compared with what he had to
endure out of school during his first half-year. Unused to any training
or companionship save of womankind, he was disconsolate, bewildered,
derided in that new rude world; while Alex, accustomed to fight his
way among rude brothers, instantly found his level, and even extended
a protecting hand to his cousin, who requited it with little gratitude.
Soon overcoming his effeminate habits, he grew expert and dexterous,
and was equal to Alex in all but main bodily strength; but the spirit
of rivalry once excited, had never died away, and with a real friendship
and esteem for each other, their names or rather their nicknames had
almost become party words among their schoolfellows.

Nor was it probable that this competition would be forgotten on this
first occasion of spending their holidays together. Fred felt himself
open to that most galling accusation of want of manliness, on account
at once of his ignorance of country sports, and of his knowledge
of accomplishments; but he did not guess at the feeling which made
Alexander on his side regard those very accomplishments with a feeling
which, if it were not jealousy, was at least very nearly akin to it.

Beatrice Langford had not the slightest claim to beauty. She was very
little, and so thin that her papa did her no injustice when he called
her skin and bones; but her thin brown face, with the aid of a pair
of very large deep Italian-looking eyes, was so full of brilliant
expression, and showed such changes of feeling from sad to gay, from
sublime to ridiculous, that no one could have wished one feature
otherwise. And if instead of being \x93like the diamond bright,\x94 they had
been \x93dull as lead,\x94 it would have been little matter to Alex. Beatrice
had been, she was still, his friend, his own cousin, more than what he
could believe a sister to be if he had one,--in short his own little
Queen Bee. He had had a monopoly of her; she had trained him in all
the civilization which he possessed, and it was with considerable
mortification that he thought himself lowered in her eyes by comparison
with his old rival, as old a friend of hers, with the same claim to
cousinly affection; and instead of understanding only what she had
taught him, familiar with the tastes and pursuits on which she set
perhaps too great a value.

Fred did not care nearly as much for Beatrice\x92s preference: it might be
that he took it as a matter of course, or perhaps that having a sister
of his own, he did not need her sympathy, but still it was a point on
which he was likely to be sensitive, and thus her favour was likely
to be secretly quite as much a matter of competition as their school
studies and pastimes.

For instance, dinner was over, and Henrietta was admiring some choice
books of prints, such luxuries as Uncle Geoffrey now afforded himself,
and which his wife and daughter greatly preferred to the more costly
style of living which some people thought befitted them. She called to
her brother who was standing by the fire, \x93Fred, do come and look at
this beautiful Albert Durer of Sintram.\x94

He hesitated, doubting whether Alexander would scorn him for an
acquaintance with Albert Durer, but Beatrice added, \x93Yes, it was an
old promise that I would show it to you. There now, look, admire, or be
pronounced insensible.\x94

\x93A wonderful old fellow was that Albert,\x94 said Fred, looking, and
forgetting his foolish false shame in the pleasure of admiration. \x93Yes;
O how wondrously the expression on Death\x92s face changes as it does in
the story! How easy it is to see how Fouque must have built it up! Have
you seen it, mamma?\x94

His mother came to admire. Another print was produced, and another, and
Fred and Beatrice were eagerly studying the elaborate engravings of the
old German, when Alex, annoyed at finding her too much engrossed to have
a word for him, came to share their occupation, and took up one of
the prints with no practised hand. \x93Take care, Alex, take care,\x94 cried
Beatrice, in a sort of excruciated tone; \x93don\x92t you see what a pinch you
are giving it! Only the initiated ought to handle a print: there is a
pattern for you,\x94 pointing to Fred.

She cut right and left: both looked annoyed, and retreated from the
table. Fred thinking how Alex must look down on fingers which possessed
any tenderness; Alex provoked at once and pained. Queen Bee\x92s black eyes
perceived their power, and gave a flash of laughing triumph.

But Beatrice was not quite in her usual high spirits, for she was very
sorry to leave her mother; and when they went up stairs for the night,
she stood long over the fire talking to her, and listening to certain
parting cautions.

\x93How I wish you could have come, mamma! I am so sure that grandmamma in
her kindness will tease Aunt Mary to death. You are the only person who
can guard her without affronting grandmamma. Now I--\x94

\x93Had better let it alone,\x94 rejoined Mrs. Geoffrey Langford. \x93You will do
more harm than by letting things take their course. Remember, too, that
Aunt Mary was at home there long before you or I knew the place.\x94

\x93Oh, if that tiresome Aunt Amelia would but have had some consideration!
To go out of town and leave Aunt Susan on our hands just when we always
go home!\x94

\x93We have lamented that often enough,\x94 said her mother smiling. \x93It is
unlucky, but it cannot be too often repeated, that wills and wishes must
sometimes bend.\x94

\x93You say that for me, mamma,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93You think grandmamma and I
have too much will for each other.\x94

\x93If you are conscious of that, Bee, I hope that you will bend that
wilful will of yours.\x94

\x93I hope I shall,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93but.... Well, I must go to bed. Good
night, mamma.\x94

And Mrs. Geoffrey Langford looked after her daughter anxiously, but she
well knew that Beatrice knew her besetting fault, and she trusted to the
many fervent resolutions she had made against it.

The next morning the party bade adieu to Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, and
set out on their journey to Knight Sutton. They filled a whole railroad
carriage, and were a very cheerful party. Alexander and Beatrice
sat opposite to each other, talking over Knight Sutton delights with
animation, Beatrice ever and anon turning to her other cousins with
explanations, or referring to her papa, who was reading the newspaper
and talking with Mrs. Frederick Langford.

The day was not long enough for all the talk of the cousins, and the
early winter twilight came on before their conversation was exhausted,
or they had reached the Allonfield station.

\x93Here we are!\x94 exclaimed Beatrice, as the train stopped, and at the same
moment a loud voice called out, \x93All right! where are you, Alex?\x94 upon
which Alexander tumbled across Henrietta to feel for the handle of the
carriage-door, replying, \x93Here, old fellow, let us out. Have you brought
Dumpling?\x94 And Uncle Geoffrey and Beatrice exclaimed, \x93How d\x92ye do,
Carey?\x94

When Alexander had succeeded in making his exit, Henrietta beheld him
shaking hands with a figure not quite his own height, and in its rough
great-coat not unlike a small species of bear. Uncle Geoffrey and Fred
handed out the ladies, and sought their appurtenances in the dark, and
Henrietta began to give Alex credit for a portion of that which maketh
man, when he shoved his brother, admonishing him that there was Aunt
Mary, upon which Carey advanced, much encumbered with sheepish shyness,
presented a great rough driving-glove, and shortly and bluntly replied
to the soft tones which kindly greeted him, and inquired for all at
home.

\x93Is the Hall carriage come?\x94 asked Alex, and, receiving a gruff
affirmative, added, \x93then, Aunt Mary, you had better come to it while
Uncle Geoffrey looks after the luggage,\x94 offered his arm with tolerable
courtesy, and conducted her to the carriage. \x93There,\x94 said he, \x93Carey
has driven in our gig, and I suppose Fred and I had better go back with
him.\x94

\x93Is the horse steady?\x94 asked his aunt, anxiously.

\x93Dumple? To be sure! Never does wrong! do you, old fellow?\x94 said Alex,
patting his old friend.

\x93And no lamps?\x94

\x93O, we know the way blindfold, and you might cross Sutton Heath a dozen
times without meeting anything but a wheelbarrow-full of peat.\x94

\x93And how is the road now? It used to be very bad in my time.\x94

\x93Lots of ruts,\x94 muttered Carey to his brother, who interpreted it, \x93A
few ruts this winter, but Dumpling knows all the bad places.\x94

By this time Uncle Geoffrey came up, and instantly perceiving the state
of things, said, \x93I say, Freddy, do you mind changing places with me? I
should like to have a peep at Uncle Roger before going up to the house,
and then Dumpling\x92s feelings won\x92t be hurt by passing the turn to Sutton
Leigh.\x94

Fred could not object, and his mother rejoiced in the belief that Uncle
Geoffrey would take the reins, nor did Beatrice undeceive her, though,
as the vehicle rattled past the carriage at full speed, she saw
Alexander\x92s own flourish of the whip, and knew that her papa was letting
the boys have their own way. She had been rather depressed in the
morning on leaving her mother, but as she came nearer home her spirits
mounted, and she was almost wild with glee. \x93Aunt Mary, do you know
where you are?\x94

\x93On Sutton Heath, I presume, from the absence of landmarks.\x94

\x93Yes, that we are. You dear old place, how d\x92ye do? You beginning of
home! I don\x92t know when it is best coming to you: on a summer\x92s evening,
all glowing with purple heath, or a frosty star-light night like this.
There is the Sutton Leigh turn! Hurrah! only a mile further to the
gate.\x94

\x93Where I used to go to meet the boys coming home from school,\x94 said
her aunt, in a low tone of deep feeling. But she would not sadden their
blithe young hearts, and added cheerfully, \x93Just the same as ever, I
see: how well I know the outline of the bank there!\x94

\x93Ay, it is your fatherland, too, Aunt Mary! Is there not something
inspiring in the very air? Come, Fred, can\x92t you get up a little
enthusiasm?\x94

\x93Oceans, without getting it up,\x94 replied Fred. \x93I never was more
rejoiced in my whole life,\x94 and he began to hum Domum.

\x93Sing it, sing it; let us join in chorus as homage to Knight Sutton,\x94
 cried Henrietta.

And the voices began, \x93Domum, Domum, dulce Domum;\x94 even Aunt Mary
herself caught the feelings of her young companions, felt herself coming
to her own beloved home and parents, half forgot how changed was her
situation, and threw herself into the delight of returning.

\x93Now, Fred,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93let us try those verses that you found a
tune for, that begin \x91What is home?\x92\x94

This also was sung, and by the time it was finished they had reached a
gate leading into a long drive through dark beech woods. \x93This is the
beautiful wood of which I have often told you, Henrietta,\x94 said Mrs.
Frederick Langford.

\x93The wood with glades like cathedral aisles,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93O, how
delightful it will be to see it come out in leaf!\x94

\x93Which I have never seen,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93I tell papa he has made his
fortune, and ought to retire, and he says he is too young for it.\x94

\x93In which I fully agree with him,\x94 said her aunt. \x93I should not like to
see him with nothing to do.\x94

\x93O, mamma, Uncle Geoffrey would never be anywhere with nothing to do,\x94
 said Henrietta.

\x93No,\x94 said her mother, \x93but people are always happier with work made for
them, than with what they make for themselves. Besides, Uncle Geoffrey
has too much talent to be spared.\x94

\x93Ay,\x94 said Fred, \x93I wondered to hear you so devoid of ambition, little
Busy Bee.\x94

\x93It is only Knight Sutton and thinking of May flowers that makes me so,\x94
 said Beatrice. \x93I believe after all, I should break my heart if papa did
retire without--\x94

\x93Without what, Bee?\x94

\x93Being Lord Chancellor, I suppose,\x94 said Henrietta very seriously. \x93I am
sure I should.\x94

\x93His being in Parliament will content me for the present,\x94 said
Beatrice, \x93for I have been told too often that high principles don\x92t
rise in the world, to expect any more. We can be just as proud of him as
if he was.\x94

\x93You are in a wondrously humble and philosophic mood, Queen Bee,\x94 said
Henrietta; \x93but where are we now?\x94 added she, as a gate swung back.

\x93Coming into the paddock,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93don\x92t you see the lights in
the house? There, that is the drawing-room window to the right, and that
large one the great hall window. Then upstairs, don\x92t you see that red
fire-light? That is the south room, which Aunt Mary will be sure to
have.\x94

Henrietta did not answer, for there was something that subdued her in
the nervous pressure of her mother\x92s hand. The carriage stopped at the
door, whence streamed forth light, dazzling to eyes long accustomed to
darkness; but in the midst stood a figure which Henrietta could not but
have recognized in an instant, even had not old Mr. Langford paid more
than one visit to Rocksand. Tall, thin, unbent, with high bald forehead,
clear eye, and long snowy hair; there he was, lifting rather than
handing his daughter-in-law from the carriage, and fondly kissing her
brow; then he hastily greeted the other occupants of the carriage, while
she received the kiss of Mrs. Langford.

They were now in the hall, and turning again to his daughter-in-law, he
gave her his arm, and led her into the drawing-room, where he once more
embraced her, saying, \x93Bless you, my own dear Mary!\x94 She clung to him
for a moment as if she longed to weep with him, but recovering herself
in an instant, she gave her attention to Mrs. Langford, who was trying
to administer to her comfort with a degree of bustle and activity which
suited well with the alertness of her small figure and the vivacity of
the black eyes which still preserved their brightness, though her hair
was perfectly white. \x93Well, Mary, my dear, I hope you are not tired. You
had better sit down and take off your furs, or will you go to your room?
But where is Geoffrey?\x94

\x93He went with Alex and Carey, round by Sutton Leigh,\x94 said Beatrice.

\x93Ha! ha! my little Queen, are you there?\x94 said grandpapa, holding out
his arms to her. \x93And,\x94 added he, \x93is not this your first introduction
to the twins, grandmamma? Why you are grown as fine a pair as I would
wish to see on a summer\x92s day. Last time I saw you I could hardly tell
you apart, when you both wore straw hats and white trousers. No mistake
now though. Well, I am right glad to have you here.\x94

\x93Won\x92t you take off some of your wraps, Mary?\x94 proceeded Mrs. Langford,
and her daughter-in-law, with a soft \x93Thank you,\x94 passively obeyed. \x93And
you too, my dear,\x94 she added to Henrietta.

\x93Off with that bonnet, Miss Henrietta,\x94 proceeded grandpapa. \x93Let me
see whether you are as like your brother as ever. He has your own face,
Mary.\x94

\x93Do not you think his forehead like--\x94 and she looked to the end of
the room where hung the portraits of two young children, the brothers
Geoffrey and Frederick. Henrietta had often longed to see it, but now
she could attend to nothing but her mamma.

\x93Like poor dear Frederick?\x94 said grandmamma. \x93Well, I can\x92t judge by
firelight, you know, my dear, but I should say they were both your very
image.\x94

\x93You can\x92t be the image of any one I should like better,\x94 said Mr.
Langford, turning to them cheerfully, and taking Henrietta\x92s hand. \x93I
wish nothing better than to find you the image of your mamma inside and
out.\x94

\x93Ah, there\x92s Geoffrey!\x94 cried Mrs. Langford, springing up and almost
running to meet him.

\x93Well, Geoffrey, how d\x92ye do?\x94 added his father with an indescribable
tone and look of heartfelt delight. \x93Left all your cares behind you?\x94

\x93Left my wife behind me,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey, making a rueful face.

\x93Ay, it is a sad business that poor Beatrice cannot come,\x94 said both the
old people, \x93but how is poor Lady Susan?\x94

\x93As usual, only too nervous to be left with none of the family at hand.
Well, Mary, you look tired.\x94

Overcome, Uncle Geoffrey would have said, but he thought the other
accusation would answer the same purpose and attract less attention,
and it succeeded, for Mrs. Langford proposed to take her up stairs.
Henrietta thought that Beatrice would have offered to save her the
trouble, but this would not have been at all according to the habits of
grandmamma or granddaughter, and Mrs. Langford briskly led the way to
a large cheerful-looking room, talking all the time and saying she
supposed Henrietta would like to be with her mamma. She nodded to their
maid, who was waiting there, and gave her a kindly greeting, stirred the
already bright fire into a blaze, and returning to her daughter-in-law
who was standing like one in a dream, she gave her a fond kiss, saying,
\x93There, Mary, I thought you would like to be here.\x94

\x93Thank you, thank you, you are always kind.\x94

\x93There now, Mary, don\x92t let yourself be overcome. You would not
bring him back again, I know. Come, lie down and rest. There--that is
right--and don\x92t think of coming down stairs. You think your mamma had
better not, don\x92t you?\x94

\x93Much better not, thank you, grandmamma,\x94 said Henrietta, as she
assisted in settling her mother on the sofa. \x93She is tired and overcome
now, but she will be herself after a rest.\x94

\x93And ask for anything you like, my dear. A glass of wine or a cup of
coffee; Judith will get you one in a moment. Won\x92t you have a cup of
coffee, Mary, my dear?\x94

\x93Thank you, no thank you,\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford, raising
herself. \x93Indeed I am sorry--it is very foolish.\x94 Here the choking sob
came again, and she was forced to lie down. Grandmamma stood by, warming
a shawl to throw over her, and pitying her in audible whispers. \x93Poor
thing, poor thing! it is very sad for her. There! a pillow, my dear?
I\x92ll fetch one out of my room. No? Is her head high enough? Some
sal-volatile? Yes, Mary, would you not like some sal-volatile?\x94

And away she went in search of it, while Henrietta, excessively
distressed, knelt by her mother, who, throwing her arms round her neck,
wept freely for some moments, then laid her head on the cushions again,
saying, \x93I did not think I was so weak!\x94

\x93Dearest mamma,\x94 said Henrietta, kissing her and feeling very guilty.

\x93If I have not distressed grandmamma!\x94 said her mother anxiously. \x93No,
never mind me, my dear, it was fatigue and--\x94

Still she could not finish, so painfully did the familiar voices, the
unchanged furniture, recall both her happy childhood and the bridal days
when she had last entered the house, that it seemed as it were a new
thing, a fresh shock to miss the tone that was never to be heard there
again. Why should all around be the same, when all within was altered?
But it had been only the first few moments that had overwhelmed her, and
the sound of Mrs. Langford\x92s returning footsteps recalled her habit of
self-control; she thanked her, held out her quivering hand, drank the
sal-volatile, pronounced herself much better, and asked pardon for
having given so much trouble.

\x93Trouble? my dear child, no such thing! I only wish I could see you
better. No doubt it is too much for you, this coming home the first
time; but then you know poor Fred is gone to a better--Ah! well, I see
you can\x92t bear to speak of him, and perhaps after all quiet is the best
thing. Don\x92t let your mamma think of dressing and coming down, my dear.\x94

There was a little combat on this point, but it ended in Mrs. Frederick
Langford yielding, and agreeing to remain upstairs. Grandmamma would
have waited to propose to her each of the dishes that were to appear
at table, and hear which she thought would suit her taste; but very
fortunately, as Henrietta thought, a bell rang at that moment, which she
pronounced to be \x93the half-hour bell,\x94 and she hastened away, telling
her granddaughter that dinner would be ready at half-past five, and
calling the maid outside the door to giver her full directions where to
procure anything that her mistress might want.

\x93Dear grandmamma! just like herself!\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford. \x93But
Henrietta, my dear,\x94 she added with some alarm, \x93make haste and dress:
you must never be too late in this house!\x94

Henrietta was not much accustomed to dress to a moment, and she was too
anxious about her mamma to make speed with her whole will, and her hair
was in no state of forwardness when the dinner-bell rang, causing her
mamma to start and hasten her with an eager, almost alarmed manner. \x93You
don\x92t know how your grandmamma dislikes being kept waiting,\x94 said she.

At last she was ready, and running down, found all the rest assembled,
evidently waiting for her. Frederick, looking anxious, met her at the
door to receive her assurances that their mother was better; the rest
inquired, and her apologies were cut short by grandmamma calling them
to eat her turkey before it grew cold. The spirits of all the party were
perhaps damped by Mrs. Frederick Langford\x92s absence and its cause, for
the dinner was not a very lively one, nor the conversation very amusing
to Henrietta and Frederick, as it was chiefly on the news of the country
neighbourhood, in which Uncle Geoffrey showed much interest.

As soon as she was released from the dining-room, Henrietta ran up to
her mamma, whom she found refreshed and composed. \x93But, O mamma, is
this a good thing for you?\x94 said Henrietta, looking at the red case
containing her father\x92s miniature, which had evidently been only just
closed on her entrance.

\x93The very best thing for me, dearest,\x94 was the answer, now given in her
own calm tones. \x93It does truly make me happier than anything else. No,
don\x92t look doubtful, my Henrietta; if it were repining it might hurt me,
but I trust it is not.\x94

\x93And does this really comfort you, mamma?\x94 said Henrietta, as she
pressed the spring, and gazed thoughtfully on the portrait. \x93O, I cannot
fancy that! the more I think, the more I try to realize what it might
have been, think what Uncle Geoffrey is to Beatrice, till sometimes, O
mamma, I feel quite rebellious!\x94

\x93You will be better disciplined in time, my poor child,\x94 said her
mother, sadly. \x93As your grandmamma said, who could be so selfish as to
wish him here?\x94

\x93And can you bear to say so, mamma?\x94

She clasped her hands and looked up, and Henrietta feared she had
gone too far. Both were silent for some little time, until at last the
daughter timidly asked, \x93And was this your old room, mamma?\x94

\x93Yes: look in that shelf in the corner; there are all our old childish
books. Bring that one,\x94 she added, as Henrietta took one out, and
opening it, she showed in the fly-leaf the well-written \x93F.H. Langford,\x94
 with the giver\x92s name; and below in round hand, scrawled all over the
page, \x93Mary Vivian, the gift of her cousin Fred.\x94 \x93I believe that you
may find that in almost all of them,\x94 said she. \x93I am glad they have
been spared from the children at Sutton Leigh. Will you bring me a few
more to look over, before you go down again to grandmamma?\x94

Henrietta did not like to leave her, and lingered while she made a
selection for her among the books, and from that fell into another talk,
in which they were interrupted by a knock at the door, and the entrance
of Mrs. Langford herself. She sat a little time, and asked of health,
strength, and diet, until she bustled off again to see if there was a
good fire in Geoffrey\x92s room, telling Henrietta that tea would soon be
ready.

Henrietta\x92s ideas of grandmammas were formed on the placid Mrs.
Vivian, naturally rather indolent, and latterly very infirm, although
considerably younger than Mrs. Langford; and she stood looking after in
speechless amazement, her mamma laughing at her wonder. \x93But, my dear
child,\x94 she said, \x93I beg you will go down. It will never do to have you
staying up here all the evening.\x94

Henrietta was really going this time, when as she opened the door, she
was stopped by a new visitor. This was an elderly respectable-looking
maid-servant, old Judith, whose name was well known to her. She had
been nursery-maid at Knight Sutton at the time \x93Miss Mary\x94 arrived from
India, and was now, what in a more modernized family would have been
called ladies\x92-maid or housekeeper, but here was a nondescript office,
if anything, upper housemaid. How she was loved and respected is known
to all who are happy enough to possess a \x93Judith.\x94

\x93I beg your pardon, miss,\x94 said she, as Henrietta opened the door just
before her, and Mrs. Frederick Langford, on hearing her voice, called
out, \x93O Judith! is that you? I was in hopes you were coming to see me.\x94

She advanced with a courtesy, at the same time affectionately taking the
thin white hand stretched out to her. \x93I hope you are better, ma\x92am. It
is something like old times to have you here again.\x94

\x93Indeed I am very glad to be here, Judith,\x94 was the answer, \x93and very
glad to see you looking like your own dear self.\x94

\x93Ah! Miss Mary; I beg your pardon, ma\x92am; I wish I could see you looking
better.\x94

\x93I shall, I hope, to-morrow, thank you, Judith. But you have not been
introduced to Henrietta, there.\x94

\x93But I have often heard of you, Judith,\x94 said Henrietta, cordially
holding out her hand. Judith took it, and looked at her with
affectionate earnestness. \x93Sure enough, miss,\x94 said she, \x93as Missus
says, you are the very picture of your mamma when she went away; but I
think I see a look of poor Master Frederick too.\x94

\x93Have you seen my brother, Judith?\x94 asked Henrietta, fearing a second
discussion on likenesses.

\x93Yes, Miss Henrietta; I was coming down from Missus\x92s room, when
Mr. Geoffrey stopped me to ask how I did, and he said \x91Here\x92s a new
acquaintance for you, Judith,\x92 and there was Master Frederick. I should
have known him anywhere, and he spoke so cheerful and pleasant. A fine
young gentleman he is, to be sure.\x94

\x93Why, we must be like your grandchildren!\x94 said Henrietta; \x93but O! here
comes Fred.\x94

And Judith discreetly retreated as Fred entered bearing a summons to
his sister to come down to tea, saying that he could scarcely prevail on
grandmamma to let him take the message instead of coming herself.

They found Queen Bee perched upon the arm of her grandpapa\x92s chair,
with one hand holding by his collar. She had been coaxing him to say
Henrietta was the prettiest girl he ever saw, and he was teasing her
by declaring he should never see anything like Aunt Mary in her girlish
days. Then he called up Henrietta and Fred, and asked them about their
home doings, showing so distinct a knowledge of them, that they laughed
and stood amazed. \x93Ah,\x94 said grandpapa, \x93you forgot that I had a Queen
Bee to enlighten me. We have plenty to tell each other, when we go
buzzing over the ploughed fields together on a sunny morning, haven\x92t
we, Busy, Busy Bee?\x94

Here grandmamma summoned them all to tea. She liked every one to sit
round the table, and put away work and book, as for a regular meal, and
it was rather a long one. Then, when all was over, grandpapa called out,
\x93Come, young ladies, I\x92ve been wearying for a tune these three months. I
hope you are not too tired to give us one.\x94

\x93O no, no, grandpapa!\x94 cried Beatrice, \x93but you must hear Henrietta. It
is a great shame of her to play so much better than I do, with all my
London masters too.\x94

And in music the greater part of the evening was passed away. Beatrice
came to her aunt\x92s room to wish her good-night, and to hear
Henrietta\x92s opinions, which were of great delight, and still greater
wonder--grandmamma so excessively kind, and grandpapa, O, he was a
grandpapa to be proud of!



CHAPTER V.



It was an agreeable surprise to Henrietta that her mother waked free
from headache, very cheerful, and feeling quite able to get up to
breakfast. The room looked very bright and pleasant by the first morning
light that shone upon the intricate frost-work on the window; and
Henrietta, as usual, was too much lost in gazing at the branches of the
elms and the last year\x92s rooks\x92 nests, to make the most of her time;
so that the bell for prayers rang long before she was ready. Her mamma
would not leave her, and remained to help her. Just as they were going
down at last, they met Mrs. Langford on her way up with inquiries for
poor Mary. She would have almost been better pleased with a slight
indisposition than with dawdling; but she kindly accepted Henrietta\x92s
apologies, and there was one exclamation of joy from all the assembled
party at Mrs. Frederick Langford\x92s unhoped-for entrance.

\x93Geoffrey, my dear,\x94 began Mrs. Langford, as soon as the greetings and
congratulations were over, \x93will you see what is the matter with the
lock of this tea-chest?--it has been out of order these three weeks, and
I thought you could set it to rights.\x94

While Uncle Geoffrey was pronouncing on its complaints, Atkins, the old
servant, put in his head.

\x93If you please, sir, Thomas Parker would be glad to speak to Mr.
Geoffrey about his son on the railway.\x94

Away went Mr. Geoffrey to the lower regions, where Thomas Parker awaited
him, and as soon as he returned was addressed by his father: \x93Geoffrey,
I put those papers on the table in the study, if you will look over them
when you have time, and tell me what you think of the turnpike trust.\x94

A few moments after the door was thrown wide open, and in burst three
boys, shouting with one voice--\x93Uncle Geoffrey, Uncle Geoffrey, you must
come and see which of Vixen\x92s puppies are to be saved!\x94

\x93Hush, hush, you rogues, hush!\x94 was Uncle Geoffrey\x92s answer; \x93don\x92t you
know that you are come into civilized society? Aunt Mary never saw such
wild men of the woods.\x94

\x93All crazy at the sight of Uncle Geoffrey,\x94 said grandmamma. \x93Ah, he
spoils you all! but, come here, Johnny, come and speak to your aunt.
There, this is Johnny, and here are Richard and Willie,\x94 she added, as
they came up and awkwardly gave their hands to their aunt and cousins.

Henrietta was almost bewildered by seeing so many likenesses of
Alexander. \x93How shall I ever know them apart?\x94 said she to Beatrice.

\x93Like grandmamma\x92s nest of teacups, all alike, only each one size below
another,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93However, I don\x92t require you to learn them all
at once; only to know Alex and Willie from the rest. Here, Willie, have
you nothing to say to me? How are the rabbits?\x94

Willie, a nice-looking boy of nine or ten years old, of rather slighter
make than his brothers, and with darker eyes and hair, came to Queen
Bee\x92s side, as if he was very glad to see her, and only slightly
discomposed by Henrietta\x92s neighbourhood.

John gave the information that papa and Alex were only just behind, and
in another minute they made their appearance. \x93Good morning sir; good
morning, ma\x92am,\x94 were Uncle Roger\x92s greetings, as he came in. \x93Ah, Mary,
how d\x92ye do? glad to see you here at last; hope you are better.---Ah,
good morning, good morning,\x94 as he quickly shook hands with the younger
ones. \x93Good morning, Geoffrey; I told Martin to take the new drill into
the outfield, for I want your opinion whether it is worth keeping.\x94

And thereupon the three gentlemen began a learned discussion on drills,
during which Henrietta studied her uncle. She was at first surprised to
see him look so young--younger, she thought, than Uncle Geoffrey; but
in a moment or two she changed her mind, for though mental labour had
thinned and grizzled Uncle Geoffrey\x92s hair, paled his cheek, and traced
lines of thought on his broad high brow, it had not quenched the light
that beamed in his eyes, nor subdued the joyous merriment that often
played over his countenance, according with the slender active figure
that might have belonged to a mere boy. Uncle Roger was taller, and
much more robust and broad; his hair still untouched with grey, his face
ruddy brown, and his features full of good nature, but rather heavy. In
his plaid shooting coat and high gaiters, as he stood by the fire, he
looked the model of a country squire; but there was an indescribable
family likeness, and something of the same form about the nose and
lip, which recalled to Henrietta the face she loved so well in Uncle
Geoffrey.

The drill discussion was not concluded when Mrs. Langford gave the
signal for the ladies to leave the breakfast table. Henrietta ran up
stairs for her mother\x92s work, and came down again laughing. \x93I am sure,
Queenie,\x94 said she, \x93that your papa chose his trade rightly. He may
well be called a great counsel. Besides all the opinions asked of him at
breakfast, I have just come across a consultation on the stairs between
him and Judith about--what was it?--some money in a savings\x92 bank.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93Judith has saved a sum that is wondrous in these
degenerate days of maids in silk gowns, and she is wise enough to give
\x91Master Geoffrey\x92 all the management of it. But if you are surprised
now, what will you be by the end of the day? See if his advice is not
asked in at least fifty matters.\x94

\x93I\x92ll count,\x94 said Henrietta: \x93what have we had already?\x94 and she took
out pencil and paper--\x93Number one, the tea-chest; then the poor man, and
the turnpike trust--\x94

\x93Vixen\x92s puppies and the drill,\x94 suggested her mamma.

\x93And Judith\x92s money,\x94 added Henrietta. \x93Six already--\x94

\x93To say nothing of all that will come by the post, and we shall not hear
of,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93and look here, what I am going to seal for him,
one, two, three--eight letters.\x94

\x93Why! when could he possibly have written them?\x94

\x93Last night after we were gone to bed. It shows how much more grandmamma
will let him do than any one else, that she can allow him to sit up
with a candle after eleven o\x92clock. I really believe that there is not
another living creature in the world who could do it in this house.
There, you may add your own affairs to the list, Henrietta, for he is
going to the Pleasance to meet some man of brick and mortar.\x94

\x93O, I wish we could walk there!\x94

\x93I dare say we can. I\x92ll manage. Aunt Mary, should you not like
Henrietta to go and see the Pleasance?\x94

\x93Almost as much as Henrietta would like it herself, Busy Bee,\x94 said Aunt
Mary; \x93but I think she should walk to Sutton Leigh to-day.\x94

\x93Walk to Sutton Leigh!\x94 echoed old Mrs. Langford, entering at the
moment; \x93not you, surely, Mary?\x94

\x93O no, no, grandmamma,\x94 said Beatrice, laughing; \x93she was only talking
of Henrietta\x92s doing it.\x94

\x93Well, and so do, my dears; it will be a very nice thing, if you go this
morning before the frost goes off. Your Aunt Roger will like to see you,
and you may take the little pot of black currant jelly that I wanted to
send over for poor Tom\x92s sore mouth.\x94

Beatrice looked at Henrietta and made a face of disgust as she asked,
\x93Have they no currant jelly themselves?\x94

\x93O no, they never can keep anything in the garden. I don\x92t mean that the
boys take the fruit; but between tarts and puddings and desserts, poor
Elizabeth can never make any preserves.\x94

\x93But,\x94 objected Queen Bee, \x93if one of the children is ill, do you think
Aunt Roger will like to have us this morning? and the post girl could
take the jelly.\x94

\x93O nonsense, Bee,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, somewhat angrily; \x93you don\x92t
like to do it, I see plain enough. It is very hard you can\x92t be as
good-natured to your own little cousin as to one of the children in the
village.\x94

\x93Indeed, grandmamma, I did not mean that.\x94

\x93O no, no, grandmamma,\x94 joined in Henrietta, \x93we shall be very glad to
take it. Pray let us.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 added Beatrice, \x93if it is really to be of any use, no one can be
more willing.\x94

\x93Of any use?\x94 repeated Mrs. Langford. \x93No! never mind. I\x92ll send
someone.\x94

\x93No, pray do not, dear grandmamma,\x94 eagerly exclaimed Henrietta; \x93I do
beg you will let us take it. It will be making me at home directly to
let me be useful.\x94

Grandmamma was pacified. \x93When will you set out?\x94 she asked; \x93you had
better not lose this bright morning.\x94

\x93We will go directly,\x94 said Queen Bee; \x93we will go by the west turning,
so that Henrietta may see the Pleasance.\x94

\x93My dear! the west turning will be a swamp, and I won\x92t have you getting
wet in your feet and catching cold.\x94

\x93O, we have clogs; and besides, the road does not get so dirty since it
has been mended. I asked Johnny this morning.\x94

\x93As if he knew, or cared anything about it!--and you will be late for
luncheon. Besides, grandpapa will drive your aunt there the first day
she feels equal to it, and Henrietta may see it then. But you will
always have your own way.\x94

Henrietta had seldom been more uncomfortable than during this
altercation; and but for reluctance to appear more obliging than her
cousin, she would have begged to give up the scheme. Her mother would
have interfered in another moment, but the entrance of Uncle Geoffrey
gave a sudden turn to affairs.

\x93Who likes to go to the Pleasance?\x94 said he, as he entered. \x93All whose
curiosity lies that way may prepare their seven-leagued boots.\x94

\x93Here are the girls dying to go,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, as well pleased as
if she had not been objecting the minute before.

\x93Very well. We go by Sutton Leigh: so make haste, maidens.\x94 Then,
turning to his mother, \x93Didn\x92t I hear you say you had something to send
to Elizabeth, ma\x92am?\x94

\x93Only some currant jelly for little Tom; but if--\x94

\x93O grandmamma, that is my charge; pray don\x92t cheat me,\x94 exclaimed
Henrietta. \x93If you will lend me a basket, it will travel much better
with me than in Uncle Geoffrey\x92s pocket.\x94

\x93Ay, that will be the proper division of labour,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey,
looking well pleased with his niece; \x93but I thought you were off to get
ready.\x94

\x93Don\x92t keep your uncle waiting, my dear,\x94 added her mamma; and Henrietta
departed, Beatrice following her to her room, and there exclaiming, \x93If
there is a thing I can\x92t endure, it is going to Sutton Leigh when one of
the children is poorly! It is always bad enough--\x94

\x93Bad enough! O, Busy Bee!\x94 cried Henrietta, quite unprepared to hear of
any flaw in her paradise.

\x93You will soon see what I mean. The host of boys in the way; the wooden
bricks and black horses spotted with white wafers that you break your
shins over, the marbles that roll away under your feet, the whips that
crack in your ears, the universal air of nursery that pervades the
house. It is worse in the morning, too; for one is always whining over
sum, es, est, and another over his spelling. O, if I had eleven brothers
in a small house, I should soon turn misanthrope. But you are laughing
instead of getting ready.\x94

\x93So are you.\x94

\x93My things will be on in a quarter of the time you take. I\x92ll tell you
what, Henrietta, the Queen Bee allows no drones, and I shall teach you
to \x91improve each shining hour;\x92 for nothing will get you into such dire
disgrace here as to be always behind time. Besides, it is a great shame
to waste papa\x92s time. Now, here is your shawl ready folded, and now I
will trust you to put on your boots and bonnet by yourself.\x94

In five minutes the Queen Bee flew back again, and found Henrietta still
measuring the length of her bonnet strings before the glass. She hunted
her down stairs at last, and found the two uncles and grandpapa at
the door, playing with the various dogs, small and great, that usually
waited there. Fred and the other boys had gone out together some time
since, and the party now set forth, the three gentlemen walking together
first. Henrietta turned as soon as she had gone a sufficient distance
that she might study the aspect of the house. It did not quite fulfil
her expectations; it was neither remarkable for age nor beauty; the
masonry was in a sort of chessboard pattern, alternate squares of
freestone and of flints, the windows were not casements as she thought
they ought to have been, and the long wing, or rather excrescence,
which contained the drawing-room, was by no means ornamental. It was a
respectable, comfortable mansion, and that was all that was to be
said in its praise, and Beatrice\x92s affection had so embellished it
in description, that it was no wonder that Henrietta felt slightly
disappointed. She had had some expectation, too, of seeing it in the
midst of a park, instead of which the carriage-drive along which they
were walking, only skirted a rather large grass field, full of elm
trees, and known by the less dignified name of the paddock. But she
would not confess the failure of her expectations even to herself, and
as Beatrice was evidently looking for some expressions of admiration,
she said the road must be very pretty in summer.

\x93Especially when this bank is one forest of foxgloves,\x94 said Queen Bee.
\x93Only think! Uncle Roger and the farmer faction wanted grandpapa to have
this hedge row grubbed up, and turned into a plain dead fence; but I
carried the day, and I dare say Aunt Mary will be as much obliged to
me as the boys who would have lost their grand preserve of stoats and
rabbits. But here are the outfield and the drill.\x94

And going through a small gate at the corner of the paddock, they
entered a large ploughed field, traversed by a footpath raised and
gravelled, so as to be high and dry, which was well for the two girls,
as the gentlemen left them to march up and down there by themselves,
whilst they were discussing the merits of the brilliant blue machine
which was travelling along the furrows. It was rather a trial of
patience, but Beatrice was used to it, and Henrietta was in a temper to
be pleased with anything.

At last the inspection was concluded, and Mr. Langford came to his
granddaughters, leaving his two sons to finish their last words with
Martin.

\x93Well, young ladies,\x94 said he, \x93this is fine drilling, in patience at
least. I only wish my wheat may be as well drilled with Uncle Roger\x92s
new-fangled machines.\x94

\x93That is right, grandpapa,\x94 said Queen Bee; \x93you hate them as much as I
do, don\x92t you now?\x94

\x93She is afraid they will make honey by steam,\x94 said grandpapa, \x93and
render bees a work of supererogation.\x94

\x93They are doing what they can towards it,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93Why, when Mr.
Carey took us to see his hives, I declare I had quite a fellow-feeling
for my poor subjects, boxed up in glass, with all their privacy
destroyed. And they won\x92t even let them swarm their own way--a most
unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject.\x94

\x93Well done, Queenie,\x94 said Mr. Langford, laughing; \x93a capital champion.
And so you don\x92t look forward to the time when we are to have our hay
made by one machine, our sheep washed by another, our turkeys crammed by
a third--ay, and even the trouble of bird-starving saved us?\x94

\x93Bird-starving!\x94 repeated Henrietta.

\x93Yes; or keeping a few birds, according to the mother\x92s elegant
diminutive,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93serving as live scarecrows.\x94

\x93I should have thought a scarecrow would have answered the purpose,\x94
 said Henrietta.

\x93This is one that is full of gunpowder, and fires off every ten
minutes,\x94 said grandpapa; \x93but I told Uncle Roger we would have none
of them here unless he was prepared to see one of his boys blown up at
every third explosion.\x94

\x93Is Uncle Roger so very fond of machines?\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93He goes about to cattle shows and agricultural meetings, and comes home
with his pockets crammed with papers of new inventions, which I leave
him to try as long as he does not empty my pockets too fast.\x94

\x93Don\x92t they succeed, then?\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93Why--ay--I must confess we get decent crops enough. And once we
achieved a prize ox,--such a disgusting overgrown beast, that I could
not bear the sight of it; and told Uncle Roger I would have no more such
waste of good victuals, puffing up the ox instead of the frog.\x94

Henrietta was not quite certain whether all this was meant in jest or
earnest; and perhaps the truth was, that though grandpapa had little
liking for new plans, he was too wise not to adopt those which possessed
manifest advantage, and only indulged himself in a good deal of playful
grumbling, which greatly teased Uncle Roger.

\x93There is Sutton Leigh,\x94 said grandpapa, as they came in sight of a low
white house among farm buildings. \x93Well, Henrietta, are you prepared for
an introduction to an aunt and half-a-dozen cousins, and Jessie Carey
into the bargain?\x94

\x93Jessie Carey!\x94 exclaimed Beatrice in a tone of dismay.

\x93Did you not know she was there? Why they always send Carey over for her
with the gig if there is but a tooth-ache the matter at Sutton Leigh.\x94

\x93Is she one of Aunt Roger\x92s nieces?\x94 asked Henrietta.

\x93Yes,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93And--O! grandpapa, don\x92t look at me in that way.
Where is the use of being your pet, if I may not tell my mind?\x94

\x93I won\x92t have Henrietta prejudiced,\x94 said Mr. Langford. \x93Don\x92t listen to
her, my dear: and I\x92ll tell you what Jessie Carey is. She is an honest,
good-natured girl as ever lived; always ready to help every one, never
thinking of trouble, without an atom of selfishness.\x94

\x93Now for the but, grandpapa,\x94 cried Beatrice. \x93I allow all that, only
grant me the but.\x94

\x93But Queen Bee, chancing to be a conceited little Londoner, looks down
on us poor country folks as unfit for her most refined and intellectual
society.\x94

\x93O grandpapa, that is not fair! Indeed, you don\x92t really believe that.
O, say you don\x92t!\x94 And Beatrice\x92s black eyes were full of tears.

\x93If I do not believe the whole, you believe the half, Miss Bee,\x94 and he
added, half whispering, \x93take care some of us do not believe the other
half. But don\x92t look dismal on the matter, only put it into one of your
waxen cells, and don\x92t lose sight of it. And if it is any comfort to
you, I will allow that perhaps poor Jessie is not the most entertaining
companion for you. Her vanity maggots are not of the same sort as
yours.\x94

They had by this time nearly reached Sutton Leigh, a building little
altered from the farm-house it had originally been, with a small garden
in front, and a narrow footpath up to the door. As soon as they came in
sight there was a general rush forward of little boys in brown holland,
all darting on Uncle Geoffrey, and holding him fast by legs and arms.

\x93Let me loose, you varlets,\x94 he cried, and disengaging one hand, in
another moment drew from his capacious pocket a beautiful red ball,
which he sent bounding over their heads, and dancing far away with all
the urchins in pursuit.

At the same moment the rosy, portly, good-humoured Mrs. Roger Langford
appeared at the door, welcoming them cordially, and, as usual, accusing
Uncle Geoffrey of spoiling her boys. Henrietta thought she had never
seen a happier face than hers in the midst of cares, and children, and
a drawing-room which, with its faded furniture strewn with toys, had in
fact, as Beatrice said, something of the appearance of a nursery.

Little Tom, the youngest, was sitting on the lap of his cousin, Jessie
Carey, at whom Henrietta looked with some curiosity. She was a pretty
girl of twenty, with a brilliant gipsy complexion, fine black hair, and
a face which looked as good-natured as every other inhabitant of Sutton
Leigh.

But it would be tedious to describe a visit which was actually very
tedious to Beatrice, and would have been the same to Henrietta but
for its novelty. Aunt Roger asked all particulars about Mrs. Frederick
Langford, then of Aunt Geoffrey and Lady Susan St. Leger, and then gave
the history of the misfortunes of little Tom, who was by this time on
Uncle Geoffrey\x92s knee looking at himself in the inside of the case of
his watch. Henrietta\x92s list, too, was considerably lengthened; for Uncle
Geoffrey advised upon a smoky chimney, mended a cart of Charlie\x92s, and
assisted Willie in a puzzling Latin exercise.

It was almost one o\x92clock, and as a certain sound of clattering plates
was heard in the next room, Aunt Roger begged her guests to come in to
luncheon. Uncle Geoffrey accepted for the girls, who were to walk on
with him; but Mr. Langford, no eater of luncheons, returned to his own
affairs at home. Henrietta found the meal was the family dinner. She had
hardly ever been seated at one so plain, or on so long a table; and she
was not only surprised, but tormented herself by an uncomfortable and
uncalled-for fancy, that her hosts must be supposing her to be remarking
on deficiencies. The younger children were not so perfect in the
management of knife, fork, and spoon, as to be pleasant to watch; nor
was the matter mended by the attempts at correction made from time
to time by their father and Jessie. But Henrietta endured better
than Beatrice, whose face ill concealed an expression of disgust and
weariness, and who maintained a silence very unlike her usual habits.

At last Uncle Geoffrey, to the joy of both, proposed to pursue their
walk, and they took leave. Queen Bee rejoiced as soon as they had
quitted the house, that the boys were too well occupied with their
pudding to wish to accompany them, but she did not venture on any
further remarks before her papa. He gave a long whistle, and then turned
to point out all the interesting localities to Henrietta. There was
something to tell of every field, every tree, or every villager, with
whom he exchanged his hearty greeting. If it were only a name, it
recalled some story of mamma\x92s, some tradition handed on by Beatrice.
Never was walk more delightful; and the girls were almost sorry to find
themselves at the green gate of the Pleasance, leading to a gravel
road, great part of which had been usurped by the long shoots of the
evergreens. Indeed, the place could hardly be said to correspond in
appearance to its name, in its chilly, deserted, unfurnished state; but
the girls were resolved to admire, and while Uncle Geoffrey was deep in
the subject of repairs and deficiencies, they flitted about from garret
to cellar, making plans, fixing on rooms, and seeing possibilities, in
complete enjoyment. But even this could not last for ever; and rather
tired, and very cold, they seated themselves on a step of the stairs,
and there built a marvellous castle of delight for next summer; then
talked over the Sutton Leigh household, discussed the last books they
had read, and had just begun to yawn, when Uncle Geoffrey, being more
merciful than most busy men, concluded his business, and summoned them
to return home. Their homeward walk was by a different road, through the
village of Knight Sutton itself, which Henrietta had not yet seen. It
was a long straggling street, the cottages for the most part in gardens,
and with a general look of comfort and neatness that showed the care of
the proprietor.

\x93O, here is the church,\x94 said Henrietta, in a subdued voice, as they
came to the low flint wall that fenced in the slightly rising ground
occupied by the churchyard, surrounded by a whole grove of noble elm
trees, amongst which could just be seen the small old church, with its
large deep porch and curious low tower.

\x93The door is open,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93I suppose they are bringing in the
holly for Christmas. Should you like to look in, Henrietta?\x94

\x93I do not know,\x94 said she, looking at her uncle. \x93Mamma--\x94

\x93I think it might be less trying if she has not to feel for you and
herself too,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey.

\x93I am sure I should wish it very much,\x94 said Henrietta, and they entered
the low, dark, solemn-looking building, the massive stone columns and
low-browed arches of which had in them something peculiarly awful and
impressive to Henrietta\x92s present state of mind. Uncle Geoffrey led her
on into the chancel, where, among numerous mural tablets recording
the names of different members of the Langford family, was one chiefly
noticeable for the superior taste of its Gothic canopy, and which bore
the name of Frederick Henry Langford, with the date of his death, and
his age, only twenty-six. One of the large flat stones below also had
the initials F.H.L., and the date of the year. Henrietta stood and
looked in deep silence, Beatrice watching her earnestly and kindly, and
her uncle\x92s thoughts almost as much as hers, on what might have been.
Her father had been so near him in age, so constantly his companion, so
entirely one in mind and temper, that he had been far more to him than
his elder brother, and his death had been the one great sorrow of Uncle
Geoffrey\x92s life.

The first sound which broke the stillness was the opening of the
door, as the old clerk\x92s wife entered with a huge basket of holly, and
dragging a mighty branch behind her. Uncle Geoffrey nodded in reply to
her courtesy, and gave his daughter a glance which sent her to the other
end of the church to assist in the Christmas decorations.

Henrietta turned her liquid eyes upon her uncle. \x93This is coming very
near him!\x94 said she in a low voice. \x93Uncle; I wish I might be quite sure
that he knows me.\x94

\x93Do not wish too much for certainty which has not been granted to us,\x94
 said Uncle Geoffrey. \x93Think rather of \x91I shall go to him, but he shall
not return to me.\x92\x94

\x93But, uncle, you would not have me not believe that he is near to me
and knows how--how I would have loved him, and how I do love him,\x94 she
added, while the tears rose to her eyes.

\x93It may be so, my dear, and it is a thought which is not only most
comforting, but good for us, as bringing us closer to the unseen world:
but it has not been positively revealed, and it seems to me better to
dwell on that time when the meeting with him is so far certain that it
depends but on ourselves.\x94

To many persons, Uncle Geoffrey would scarce have spoken in this way;
but he was aware of a certain tendency in Henrietta\x92s mind to merge the
reverence and respect she owed to her parents, in a dreamy unpractical
feeling for the father whom she had never known, whose voice she had
never heard, and from whom she had not one precept to obey; while she
lost sight of that honour and duty which was daily called for towards
her mother. It was in honour, not in love, that Henrietta was wanting,
and with how many daughters is it not the same? It was therefore,
that though even to himself it seemed harsh, and cost him a pang, Mr.
Geoffrey Langford resolved that his niece\x92s first visit to her father\x92s
grave should not be spent in fruitless dreams of him or of his presence,
alluring because involving neither self-reproach nor resolution; but in
thoughts which might lead to action, to humility, and to the yielding up
of self-will.

Henrietta looked very thoughtful. \x93That time is so far away!\x94 said she.

\x93How do you know that?\x94 said her uncle in the deep low tone that brought
the full perception that \x93it is nigh, even at the doors.\x94

She gave a sort of shuddering sigh, the reality being doubly brought
home to her, by the remembrance of the suddenness of her father\x92s
summons.

\x93It is awful,\x94 she said. \x93I cannot bear to think of it.\x94

\x93Henrietta,\x94 said her uncle solemnly, \x93guard yourself from being so
satisfied with a dream of the present as to lose sight of the real,
most real future.\x94 He paused, and as she did not speak, went on: \x93The
present, which is the means of attaining to that future, is one not of
visions and thoughts, but of deeds.\x94

Again Henrietta sighed, but presently she said, \x93But, uncle, that would
bring us back to the world of sense. Are we not to pray that we may in
heart and mind ascend?\x94

\x93Yes, but to dwell with Whom? Not to stop short with objects once of
earthly affection.\x94

\x93Then would you not have me think of him at all?\x94 said she, almost
reproachfully.

\x93I would have you take care, Henrietta, lest the thought should absorb
the love and trust due to your true and Heavenly Father, and at the same
time you forget what on earth is owed to your mother. Do you think that
is what your father would desire?\x94

\x93You mean,\x94 she said sadly, \x93that while I do not think enough of God,
and while I love my own way so well, I have no right to dwell on the
thought I love best, the thought that he is near.\x94

\x93Take it rather as a caution than as blame,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey. A long
silence ensued, during which Henrietta thought deeply on the new idea
opened to her. Her vision, for it could not be called her memory of
her father, had in fact been too highly enshrined in her mind, too much
worshipped, she had deemed this devotion a virtue, and fostered as it
was by the solitude of her life, and the temper of her mother\x92s mind,
the truth was as Uncle Geoffrey had hinted, and she began to perceive
it, but still it was most unwillingly, for the thought was cherished
so as to be almost part of herself. Uncle Geoffrey\x92s manner was so kind
that she could not be vexed with him, but she was disappointed, for she
had hoped for a narration of some part of her father\x92s history, and for
the indulgence of that soft sorrow which has in it little pain. Instead
of this she was bidden to quit her beloved world, to soar above it,
or to seek for a duty which she had rather not believe that she had
neglected, though--no, she did not like to look deeper.

Mr. Geoffrey Langford gave her time for thought, though of what nature
it might be, he could not guess, and then said, \x93One thing more before
we leave this place. Whether Fred cheerfully obeys the fifth commandment
in its full extent, may often, as I believe, depend on your influence.
Will you try to exert it in the right way?\x94

\x93You mean when he wishes to do things like other boys of his age,\x94 said
Henrietta.

\x93Yes. Think yourself, and lead him to think, that obedience is better
than what he fancies manliness. Teach him to give up pleasure for the
sake of obedience, and you will do your work as a sister and daughter.\x94

While Uncle Geoffrey was speaking, Beatrice\x92s operations with the holly
had brought her a good deal nearer to them, and at the same time the
church door opened, and a gentleman entered, whom the first glance
showed Henrietta to be Mr. Franklin, the clergyman of the parish, of
whom she had heard so much. He advanced on seeing Beatrice with the
holly in her hand. \x93Miss Langford! This is just what I was wishing.\x94

\x93I was just helping old Martha,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93we came in to show my
cousin the church, and--\x94

By this time the others had advanced.

\x93How well the church looks this dark afternoon,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey,
speaking in a low tone, \x93it is quite the moment to choose for seeing
it for the first time. But you are very early in beginning your
adornments.\x94

\x93I thought if I had the evergreens here in time, I might see a little to
the arrangement myself,\x94 said Mr. Franklin, \x93but I am afraid I know very
little about the matter. Miss Langford, I wish you would assist us with
your taste.\x94

Beatrice and Henrietta looked at each other, and their eyes sparkled
with delight. \x93I should like it exceedingly,\x94 said the former; \x93I was
just thinking what capabilities there are. And Henrietta will do it
beautifully.\x94

\x93Then will you really be kind enough to come to-morrow, and see what can
be done?\x94

\x93Yes, we will come as soon as ever breakfast is over, and work hard,\x94
 said Queen Bee. \x93And we will make Alex and Fred come too, to do the
places that are out of reach.\x94

\x93Thank you, thank you,\x94 said Mr. Franklin, eagerly; \x93I assure you the
matter was quite upon my mind, for the old lady there, good as she is,
certainly has not the best taste in church dressing.\x94

\x93And pray, Mr. Franklin, let us have a step ladder, for I am sure there
ought to be festoons round those two columns of the chancel arch. Look,
papa, do you not think so?\x94

\x93You might put a twining wreath like the columns at Roslin chapel,\x94 said
her papa, \x93and I should try how much I could cover the Dutch cherubs at
the head of the tables of commandments.\x94

\x93O, and don\x92t you see,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93there in front of the altar
is a space, where I really think we might make the cross and \x91I H S\x92 in
holly?\x94

\x93But could you, Henrietta?\x94 asked Beatrice.

\x93O yes, I know I can; I made \x91M.L.\x92 in roses on mamma\x92s last birthday,
and set it up over the chimney-piece in the drawing-room, and I am sure
we could contrive this. How appropriate it will look!\x94

\x93Ah!\x94 said Mr. Franklin, \x93I have heard of such things, but I had always
considered them as quite above our powers.\x94

\x93They would be, without Henrietta,\x94 said Queen Bee, \x93but she was always
excellent as wreath weaving, and all those things that belong to choice
taste and clever fingers. Only let us have plenty of the wherewithal,
and we will do our work so as to amaze the parish.\x94

\x93And now,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey, \x93we must be walking home, my young
ladies. It is getting quite dark.\x94

It was indeed, for as they left the church the sunlight was fast fading
on the horizon, and Venus was already shining forth in pure quiet beauty
on the clear blue sky. Mr. Franklin walked a considerable part of the
way home with them, adding to Henrietta\x92s list by asking counsel about
a damp spot in the wall of the church, and on the measures to be adopted
with a refractory farmer.

By the time they reached home, evening was fast closing in; and at the
sound of their entrance Mrs. Langford and Frederick both came to meet
them in the hall, the former asking anxiously whether they had not been
lingering in the cold and damp, inspecting the clogs to see that they
were dry, and feeling if the fingers were cold. She then ordered the two
girls up stairs to dress before going into the drawing-room with their
things on, and told Henrietta to remember that dinner would be at
half-past five.

\x93Is mamma gone up?\x94 asked Henrietta.

\x93Yes, my dear, long ago; she has been out with your grandpapa, and is
gone to rest herself.\x94

\x93And how long have you been at home, Fred?\x94 said Queen Bee. \x93Why, you
have performed your toilette already! Why did you not come to meet us?\x94

\x93I should have had a long spy-glass to see which way you were gone,\x94
 said Fred, in a tone which, to Henrietta\x92s ears, implied that he was not
quite pleased, and then, following his sister up stairs, he went on to
her, \x93I wish I had never come in, but it was about three, and Alex and
Carey thought we might as well get a bit of something for luncheon, and
thereby they had the pleasure of seeing mamma send her pretty dear up to
change his shoes and stockings. So there was an end of me for the day.
I declare it is getting too absurd! Do persuade mamma that I am not made
of sugar candy.\x94

With Uncle Geoffrey\x92s admonitions fresh in her mind, these complaints
sounded painfully in Henrietta\x92s ears, and she would gladly have soothed
away his irritation; but, however convenient Judith might find the
stairs for private conferences, they did not appear to her equally
appropriate, especially when at the very moment grandpapa was coming
down from above and grandmamma up from below. Both she and Fred
therefore retreated into their mamma\x92s room, where they found her
sitting on a low stool by the fire, reading by its light one of the old
childish books, of which she seemed never to weary. Fred\x92s petulance,
to do him justice, never could endure the charm of her presence, and his
brow was as bright and open as his sister\x92s as he came forward, hoping
that she was not tired.

\x93Quite the contrary, thank you, my dear,\x94 said she, smiling; \x93I enjoyed
my walk exceedingly.\x94

\x93A walk!\x94 exclaimed Henrietta.

\x93A crawl, perhaps you would call it, but a delightful crawl it was with
grandpapa up and down what we used to call the sun walk, by the kitchen
garden wall. And now, Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where have you been?\x94

\x93I\x92ve been to Sutton Leigh, with the good Queen,\x94 answered Henrietta,
gaily. \x93I have seen everything--Sutton Leigh, and the Pleasance, and the
church! And, mamma, Mr. Franklin has asked us to go and dress the church
for Christmas! Is not that what of all things is delightful? Only think
of church-decking! What I have read and heard of, but I always thought
it something too great and too happy for me ever to do.\x94

\x93I hope you will be able to succeed in it,\x94 said her mamma. \x93What a
treat it will be to see your work on Sunday.\x94

\x93And you are to help, too, Fred; you and Alexander are to come and reach
the high places for us. But do tell us your adventures.\x94

Fred had been all over the farm; had been introduced to the whole
live stock, including ferrets and the tame hedge-hog; visited the
plantations, and assisted at the killing of a stoat; cut his name out on
the bark of the old pollard; and, in short, had been supremely happy.
He \x93was just going to see Dumpling and Vixen\x92s puppies at Sutton Leigh,
when--\x94

\x93When I caught you, my poor boy,\x94 said his mamma; \x93and very cruel it
was, I allow, but I thought you might have gone out again.\x94

\x93I had no other thick shoes upstairs; but really, mamma, no one thinks
of minding those things.\x94

\x93You should have seen him, Henrietta,\x94 said his mother; \x93his shoes
looked as if he had been walking through a river.\x94

\x93Well, but so were all the others,\x94 said Fred.

\x93Very likely, but they are more used to it; and, besides, they are such
sturdy fellows. I should as soon think of a deal board catching cold.
But you--if there is as much substance in you, it is all height; and you
know, Fred, you would find it considerably more tiresome to be laid up
with a bad cold.\x94

\x93I never catch cold,\x94 said Fred.

\x93Boys always say so,\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford; \x93it is a--what shall
I call it?--a puerile delusion, which their mammas can always defeat
when they choose by a formidable list of colds and coughs; but I won\x92t
put you in mind of how often you have sat with your feet on the fender
croaking like an old raven, and solacing yourself with stick-liquorice
and Ivanhoe.\x94

\x93You had better allow him to proceed in his pursuit of a cold, mamma,\x94
 said Henrietta, \x93just to see how grandmamma will nurse it.\x94

A knock at the door here put an end to the conversation, by announcing
the arrival of Bennet, Mrs. Frederick Langford\x92s maid; who had come in
such good time that Henrietta was, for once in her life, full dressed
a whole quarter of an hour before dinner time. Nor was her involuntary
punctuality without a reward, for the interval of waiting for dinner,
sitting round the fire, was particularly enjoyed by Mr. and Mrs.
Langford; and Uncle Geoffrey, therefore, always contrived to make it a
leisure time; and there was so much merriment in talking over the walk,
and discussing the plans for the Pleasance, that Henrietta resolved
never again to miss such a pleasant reunion by her own tardiness.

Nor was the evening less agreeable. Henrietta pleased grandmamma by
getting her carpet-work out of some puzzle, and by flying across the
room to fetch the tea-chest: she delighted grandpapa by her singing, and
by finding his spectacles for him; she did quite a praiseworthy piece of
her own crochet purse, and laughed a great deal at the battle that was
going on between Queen Bee and Fred about the hero of some new book.
She kept her list of Uncle Geoffrey\x92s manifold applicants on the table
before her, and had the pleasure of increasing it by two men, business
unknown, who sent to ask him to come and speak to them; by a loud
and eager appeal from Fred and Beatrice to decide their contest, by a
question of taste on the shades of grandmamma\x92s carpet-work, and by her
own query how to translate a difficult German passage which had baffled
herself, mamma, and Fred.

However, Queen Bee\x92s number, fifty, had not been attained, and her
majesty was obliged to declare that she meant in a week instead of
a day, for which reason the catalogue was written out fair, to be
continued.

Mrs. Frederick Langford thought herself well recompensed for the pain
her resolution had cost her, by the pleasure that Mr. and Mrs. Langford
evidently took in her son and daughter, by the brightness of her two
children\x92s own faces, and especially when Henrietta murmured in her
sleep something about \x93delightful,\x94 \x93bright leaves and red berries,\x94 and
then, \x93and \x91tis for my own dear papa.\x94

And after all, in the attainment of their fondest wish, were Henrietta
and Frederick as serenely happy as she was?



CHAPTER VI.



Christmas Eve, which was also a Saturday, dawned brightly on Henrietta,
but even her eagerness for her new employment could not so far overcome
her habitual dilatoriness as not to annoy her cousin, Busy Bee, even to
a degree of very unnecessary fidgeting when there was any work in hand.
She sat on thorns all breakfast time, devoured what her grandpapa called
a sparrow\x92s allowance, swallowed her tea scalding, and thereby gained
nothing but leisure to fret at the deliberation with which Henrietta cut
her bread into little square dice, and spread her butter on them as if
each piece was to serve as a model for future generations.

The subject of conversation was not precisely calculated to soothe her
spirits. Grandmamma was talking of giving a young party--a New-year\x92s
party on Monday week, the second of January. \x93It would be pleasant for
the young people,\x94 she thought, \x93if Mary did not think it would be too
much for her.\x94

Beatrice looked despairingly at her aunt, well knowing what her answer
would be, that it would not be at all too much for her, that she should
be very glad to see her former neighbours, and that it would be a great
treat to Henrietta and Fred.

\x93We will have the carpet up in the dining-room,\x94 added Mrs. Langford,
\x93and Daniels, the carpenter, shall bring his violin, and we can get up a
nice little set for a dance.\x94

\x93O thank you, grandmamma,\x94 cried Henrietta eagerly, as Mrs. Langford
looked at her.

\x93Poor innocent, you little know!\x94 murmured Queen Bee to herself.

\x93That is right, Henrietta,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, \x93I like to see young
people like young people, not above a dance now and then,--all in
moderation.\x94

\x93Above dancing,\x94 said grandpapa, who, perhaps, took this as a reflection
on his pet, Queen Bee, \x93that is what you call being on the high rope,
isn\x92t it?\x94

Beatrice, though feeling excessively savage, could not help laughing.

\x93Are you on the high rope, Queenie?\x94 asked Fred, who sat next to her:
\x93do you despise the light fantastic--?\x94

\x93I don\x92t know: I do not mind it much,\x94 was all she could bring herself
to say, though she could not venture to be more decidedly ungracious
before her father. \x93Not much in itself,\x94 she added, in a lower tone,
as the conversation grew louder, \x93it is the people, Philip Carey, and
all,--but hush! listen.\x94

He did so, and heard Careys, Dittons, Evanses, &c., enumerated, and at
each name Beatrice looked gloomier, but she was not observed, for her
Aunt Mary had much to hear about the present state of the families, and
the stream of conversation flowed away from the f\xEAte.

The meal was at last concluded, and Beatrice in great haste ordered
Frederick off to Sutton Leigh, with a message to Alex to meet them at
the Church, and bring as much holly as he could, and his great knife.
\x93Bring him safe,\x94 said she, \x93for if you fail, and prove a corbie
messenger, I promise you worse than the sharpest sting of the most angry
bee.\x94

Away she ran to fetch her bonnet and shawl, while Henrietta walked up
after her, saying she would just fetch her mamma\x92s writing-case down
for her, and then get ready directly. On coming down, she could not help
waiting a moment before advancing to the table, to hear what was passing
between her mother and uncle.

\x93Do you like for me to drive you down to the Church to-day?\x94 he asked.

\x93Thank you,\x94 she answered, raising her mild blue eyes, \x93I think not.\x94

\x93Remember, it will be perfectly convenient, and do just what suits you,\x94
 said he in a voice of kind solicitude.

\x93Thank you very much, Geoffrey,\x94 she replied, in an earnest tone, \x93but
indeed I had better go for the first time to the service, especially on
such a day as to-morrow, when thoughts must be in better order.\x94

\x93I understand,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey: and Henrietta, putting down the
writing-case, retreated with downcast eyes, with a moment\x92s perception
of the higher tone of mind to which he had tried to raise her.

In the hall she found Mrs. Langford engaged in moving her precious
family of plants from their night quarters near the fire to the
bright sunshine near the window. Henrietta seeing her lifting heavy
flower-pots, instantly sprang forward with, \x93O grandmamma, let me help.\x94

Little as Mrs. Langford was wont to allow herself to be assisted, she
was gratified with the obliging offer, and Henrietta had carried
the myrtle, the old-fashioned oak-leaved geranium, with its fragrant
deeply-indented leaves, a grim-looking cactus, and two or three more,
and was deep in the story of the orange-tree, the pip of which had been
planted by Uncle Geoffrey at five years old, but which never seemed
likely to grow beyond the size of a tolerable currant-bush, when
Beatrice came down and beheld her with consternation--\x93Henrietta!
Henrietta! what are you about?\x94 cried she, breaking full into the story.
\x93Do make haste.\x94

\x93I will come in a minute,\x94 said Henrietta, who was assisting in
adjusting the prop to which the old daphne was tied.

\x93Don\x92t stop for me, my dear,\x94 said Mrs. Langford: \x93there, don\x92t let me
be in your way.\x94

\x93O, grandmamma, I like to do this very much.\x94

\x93But, Henrietta,\x94 persisted the despotic Queen Bee, \x93we really ought to
be there.\x94

\x93What is all this about?\x94 said grandmamma, not particularly well
pleased. \x93There, go, go, my dear; I don\x92t want any more, thank you: what
are you in such a fuss for now, going out all day again?\x94

\x93Yes, grandmamma,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93did you not hear that Mr. Franklin
asked us to dress the church for to-morrow? and we must not waste time
in these short days.\x94

\x93Dress the church! Well, I suppose you must have your own way, but I
never heard of such things in my younger days. Young ladies are very
different now!\x94

Beatrice drove Henrietta up-stairs with a renewed \x93Do make haste,\x94 and
then replied in a tone of argument and irritation, \x93I do not see why
young ladies should not like dressing churches for festivals better than
arraying themselves for balls and dances!\x94

True as the speech was, how would Beatrice have liked to have seen her
father or mother stand before her at that moment?

\x93Ah, well! it is all very well,\x94 said grandmamma, shaking her head, as
she always did when out-argued by Beatrice, \x93you girls think yourselves
so clever, there is no talking to you; but I think you had much better
let old Martha alone; she has done it well enough before ever you were
born, and such a litter as you will make the Church won\x92t be fit to be
seen to-morrow! All day in that cold damp place too! I wonder Mary could
consent, Henrietta looks very delicate.\x94

\x93O no, grandmamma, she is quite strong, very strong indeed.\x94

\x93I am sure she is hoarse this morning,\x94 proceeded Mrs. Langford; \x93I
shall speak to her mamma.\x94

\x93O don\x92t, pray, grandmamma; she would be so disappointed. And what would
Mr. Franklin do?\x94

\x93O very well, I promise you, as he has done before,\x94 said Mrs. Langford,
hastening off to the drawing-room, while her granddaughter darted
upstairs to hurry Henrietta out of the house before a prohibition could
arrive. It was what Henrietta had too often assisted Fred in doing to
have many scruples, besides which she knew how grieved her mamma would
be to be obliged to stop her, and how glad to find her safe out of
reach; so she let her cousin heap on shawls, fur cuffs, and boas in a
far less leisurely and discriminating manner than was usual with her.

\x93It would be absolute sneaking (to use an elegant word), I suppose,\x94
 said Beatrice, \x93to go down the back stairs.\x94

\x93True,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93we will even take the bull by the horns.\x94

\x93And trust to our heels,\x94 said Beatrice, stealthily opening the door;
\x93the coast is clear, and I know both your mamma and my papa will not
stop us if they can help it. One, two, three, and away!\x94

Off they flew, down the stairs, across the hall, and up the long green
walk, before they ventured to stop for Henrietta to put on her gloves,
and take up the boa that was dragging behind her like a huge serpent.
And after all, there was no need for their flight; they might have
gone openly and with clear consciences, had they but properly and
submissively waited the decision of their elders. Mr. Geoffrey Langford,
who did not know how ill his daughter had been behaving, would have been
very sorry to interfere with the plan, and easily reconciled his mother
to it, in his own cheerful pleasant way. Indeed her opposition had
been entirely caused by Beatrice herself; she had not once thought of
objecting when it had been first mentioned the evening before, and
had not Beatrice not first fidgeted and then argued, would only have
regarded it as a pleasant way of occupying their morning.

\x93I could scold you, Miss Drone,\x94 said Beatrice when the two girls had
set themselves to rights, and recovered breath; \x93it was all the fault of
your dawdling.\x94

\x93Well, perhaps it was,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93but you know I could not see
grandmamma lifting those flower-pots without offering to help her.\x94

\x93How many more times shall I have to tell you that grandmamma hates to
be helped?\x94

\x93Then she was very kind to me,\x94 replied Henrietta.

\x93I see how it will be,\x94 said Beatrice, smiling, \x93you will be
grandmamma\x92s pet, and it will be a just division. I never yet could get
her to let me help her in anything, she is so resolutely independent.\x94

Queen Bee did not take into account how often her service was either
grudgingly offered, or else when she came with a good will, it was also
with a way, it might be better, it might be worse, but in which she was
determined to have the thing done, and against which her grandmamma was
of course equally resolute.

\x93She is an amazing person!\x94 said Henrietta. \x93Is she eighty yet?\x94

\x93Seventy-nine,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93and grandpapa eighty-two. I always say
I think we should get the prize in a show of grandfathers and
grandmothers, if there was one like Uncle Roger\x92s fat cattle shows. You
know she thinks nothing of walking twice to church on a Sunday, and
all over the village besides when there is anybody ill. But here is the
Sutton Leigh path. Let me see if those boys are to be trusted. Yes, yes,
that\x92s right! Capital!\x94 cried she in high glee; \x93here is Birnam wood
coming across the field.\x94 And springing on one of the bars of the gate
near the top, she flourished her handkerchief, chanting or singing,


\x93Greet thee well, thou holly green, Welcome, welcome, art thou seen,
With all thy glittering garlands bending, As to greet my--quick
descending:\x94


she finished in an altered tone, as she was obliged to spring
precipitately down to avoid a fall. \x93It made a capital conclusion,
however, though not quite what I had proposed. Well, gentlemen,\x94 as
four or five of the boys came up, each bearing a huge holly bush--\x93Well,
gentlemen, you are a sight for sair een.\x94

\x93With sair fingers, you mean,\x94 said Fred; \x93these bushes scratch like
half a dozen wild cats.\x94

\x93It is in too good a cause for me to pity you,\x94 said Beatrice.

\x93Nor would I accept it if you would,\x94 said Fred.

His sister, however, seemed determined on bestowing it whether he would
or not,--\x93How your hands are bleeding! Have you any thorns in them? Let
me see, I have my penknife.\x94

\x93Stuff!\x94 was Fred\x92s gracious reply, as he glanced at Alex and Carey.

\x93But why did you not put on your gloves?\x94 proceeded Henrietta.

\x93Gloves, nonsense!\x94 said Fred, who never went without them at Rocksand.

\x93He will take up the gauntlet presently,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93By the by,
Alex, how many pairs of gloves have you had or lost in your life?\x94

\x93O, I always keep a pair for Sundays and for Allonfield,\x94 said Alex.

\x93Jessie says she will never let me drive her again without them,\x94 said
Carey, \x93but trust me for that: I hate them, they are such girl\x92s things;
I tell her then she can\x92t be driven.\x94

Fred could not bear to hear of Carey\x92s driving, a thing which he had not
yet been permitted to attempt, and he hastily broke in, \x93You have not
told the news yet.\x94

\x93What news?\x94

\x93The Euphrosyne is coming home,\x94 cried the boys with one voice. \x93Had we
not told you? The Euphrosyne is coming home, and Roger may be here any
day!\x94

\x93That is something like news,\x94 said Queen Bee; \x93I thought it would
only be that the puppies could see, or that Tom\x92s tooth was through.
Grandpapa has not heard it?\x94

\x93Papa is going up to tell him,\x94 said John. \x93I was going too, only Alex
bagged me to carry his holly-bush.\x94

\x93And so the great Rogero is coming home!\x94 said Beatrice. \x93How you will
learn to talk sea slang! And how happy grandmamma will be, especially
if he comes in time for her great affair. Do you hear, Alex? you must
practise your steps, for grandmamma is going to give a grand party,
Careys and Evanses, and all, on purpose to gratify Fred\x92s great love of
dancing.\x94

\x93I love dancing?\x94 exclaimed Fred, in a tone of astonishment and
contempt.

\x93Why, did you not look quite enraptured at breakfast when it was
proposed? I expected you every moment to ask the honour of my hand for
the first quadrille, but I suppose you leave it for Philip Carey!\x94

\x93If it comes at all you must start me, Bee,\x94 said Alex, \x93for I am sure I
can\x92t dance with any one but you.\x94

\x93Let me request it now,\x94 said Fred, \x93though why you should think I like
dancing I cannot imagine! I am sure nothing but your Majesty can make it
endurable.\x94

\x93There are compliments to your Majesty,\x94 cried Henrietta, laughing; \x93one
will not or cannot dance at all without her, the other cannot find it
endurable! I long to see which is to be gratified.\x94

\x93Time will show,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93I shall ponder on their requests,
and decide maturely, Greek against Prussian, lover of the dance against
hater of the dance.\x94

\x93I don\x92t love it, I declare,\x94 exclaimed Fred.

\x93I don\x92t mind it, if you dance with me,\x94 said Alex.

And Beatrice was in her glory, teasing them both, and feeling herself
the object of attention to both.

Flirtation is not a pleasant word, and it is one which we are apt to
think applies chiefly to the manners of girls, vain of their personal
appearance, and wanting in sense or education. Beatrice would have
thought herself infinitely above it; but what else was her love of
attention, her delight in playing off her two cousins against each
other? Beauty, or the consciousness of beauty, has little to do with it.
Henrietta, if ever the matter occurred to her, could not help knowing
that she was uncommonly pretty, yet no one could be more free from any
tendency to this habit. Beatrice knew equally well that she was plain,
but that did not make the least difference; if any, it was rather on the
side of vanity, in being able without a handsome face, so to attract and
engross her cousins. It was amusing, gratifying, flattering, to feel
her power to play them off, and irritate the little feelings of jealousy
which she had detected; and thoughtless as to the right or wrong, she
pursued her course.

On reaching the church they found that, as was usual with her, she had
brought them before any one was ready; the doors were locked, and they
had to wait while Carey and John went to old Martha\x92s to fetch the key.
In a few minutes more Mr. Franklin arrived, well pleased to see them
ready to fulfil their promise; the west door was opened, and disclosed a
huge heap of holly laid up under the tower, ready for use.

The first thing the boys did was to go up into the belfry, and out on
the top of the tower, and Busy Bee had a great mind to follow them; but
she thought it would not be fair to Mr. Franklin, and the wide field
upon which she had to work began to alarm her imagination.

Before the boys came down again, she had settled the plan of operations
with Henrietta and Mr. Franklin, dragged her holly bushes into the
aisle, and brought out her knife and string. They came down declaring
that they could be of no use, and they should go away, and Beatrice made
no objection to the departure of Carey and Johnny, who, as she justly
observed, would be only in the way; but she insisted on keeping Fred and
Alex.

\x93Look at all those pillars! How are we ever to twine them by ourselves?
Look at all those great bushes! How are we to lift them? No, no, indeed,
we cannot spare you, Fred. We must have some stronger hands to help us,
and you have such a good eye for this sort of thing.\x94

Had Alexander gone, Fred would have found some excuse for following him,
rather than he should leave him with young ladies, doing young ladies\x92
work; but, as Beatrice well knew, Alex would never withdraw his
assistance when she asked Fred\x92s, and she felt secure of them both.

\x93There, Alex, settle that ladder by the screen, please. Now will you see
if there is anything to tie a piece of string to? for it is of no use to
make a festoon if we cannot fasten it.\x94

\x93I can\x92t see anything.\x94

\x93Here, give me your hand, and I\x92ll look.\x94 Up tripped the little Bee,
just holding by his hand. \x93Yes, to be sure there is! Here is a great
rough nail sticking out. Is it firm? Yes, capitally. Now, Alex, make a
sailor\x92s knot round it. Help me down first though--thank you. Fred, will
you trim that branch into something like shape. You see how I mean. We
must have a long drooping wreath of holly and ivy, to blend with the
screen. How tough this ivy is! Thank you--that\x92s it. Well, Mr. Franklin,
I hope we shall get on in time.\x94

Mr. Franklin was sure of it; and seeing all actively employed, and
himself of little use, he took his leave for the present, hoping that
the Misses Langford would not tire themselves.

Angels\x92 work is Church decoration--work fit for angels, that is to say;
but how pure should be the hands and hearts engaged in it! Its greatness
makes it solemn and awful. It is work immediately for the glory of
God; it is work like that of the children who strewed the palm-branches
before the steps of the Redeemer! Who can frame in imagination a
more favoured and delightful occupation, than that of the four young
creatures who were, in very deed, greeting the coming of their Lord with
those bright and glistening wreaths with which they were adorning His
sanctuary?

Angels\x92 work! but the angels veil their faces and tremble; and we
upon earth have still greater cause to tremble and bow down in awful
reverence, when we are allowed to approach so near His shrine. And was
that spirit of holy fear--that sole desire for His glory--the chief
thought with these young people?

Not that there was what even a severe judge could call irreverence in
word or deed; there was no idle laughter, and the conversation was in a
tone and a style which showed that they were all well trained in respect
for the sanctity of the place. Even in all the helping up and down
ladders and steps, in the reaching over for branches, in all the little
mishaps and adventures that befell them, their behaviour was outwardly
perfectly what it ought to have been; and that is no small praise for
four young people, under seventeen, left in church alone together for so
many hours.

But still Beatrice\x92s great aim was, unconsciously perhaps, to keep the
two boys entirely devoted to herself, and to exert her power. Wonderful
power it was in reality, which kept them interested in employment
so little accordant with their nature; kept them amused without
irreverence, and doing good service all the time. But it was a power of
which she greatly enjoyed the exercise, and which did nothing to lessen
the rivalry between them. As to Henrietta, she was sitting apart on a
hassock, very happy, and very busy in arranging the Monogram and wreath
which she had yesterday proposed. She was almost forgotten by the other
three--certainly neglected--but she did not feel it so; she had rather
be quiet, for she could not work and talk like Queen Bee; and she liked
to think over the numerous verses and hymns that her employment brought
to her mind. Uncle Geoffrey\x92s conversation dwelt upon her too; she began
to realize his meaning, and she was especially anxious to fulfil his
desire, by entreating Fred to beware of temptations to disobedience.
Opportunities for private interviews were, however, very rare at Knight
Sutton, and she had been looking forward to having him all to herself
here, when he must wish to visit his father\x92s grave with her. She was
vexed for a moment that his first attention was not given to it; but she
knew that his first thought was there, and boys never showed what was
uppermost in their minds to anyone but their sisters. She should have
him by and by, and the present was full of tranquil enjoyment.

If Henrietta had been free from blame in coming to Knight Sutton at all,
or in her way of leaving the house this morning, there would have been
little or no drawback to our pleasure in contemplating her.

\x93Is it possible!\x94 exclaimed Queen Bee, as the last reverberation of
the single stroke of the deep-toned clock fell quivering on her ear. \x93I
thought you would have given us at least eleven more.\x94

\x93What a quantity remains to be done!\x94 sighed Henrietta, laying down
the wreath which she had just completed. \x93Your work looks beautiful,
Queenie, but how shall we ever finish?\x94

\x93A short winter\x92s day, too!\x94 said Beatrice. \x93One thing is certain--that
we can\x92t go home to luncheon.\x94

\x93What will grandmamma think of that?\x94 said Henrietta doubtfully. \x93Will
she like it?\x94

Beatrice could have answered, \x93Not at all;\x94 but she said, \x93O never mind,
it can\x92t be helped; we should be late even if we were to set off now,
and besides we might be caught and stopped.\x94

\x93Oh, that would be worse than anything,\x94 said Henrietta, quite
convinced.

\x93So you mean to starve,\x94 said Alex.

\x93See what slaves men are to creature comforts,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93what do
you say, Henrietta?\x94

\x93I had much rather stay here,\x94 said Henrietta; \x93I want nothing.\x94

\x93Much better fun to go without,\x94 said Fred, who had not often enough
missed a regular meal not to think doing so an honour and a joke.

\x93I\x92ll tell you what will do best of all!\x94 cried Queen Bee. \x93You go to
Dame Reid\x92s, and buy us sixpennyworth of the gingerbread papa calls
the extreme of luxury, and we will eat it on the old men\x92s bench in the
porch.\x94

\x93Oho! her Majesty is descending to creature comforts,\x94 said Alex. \x93I
thought she would soon come down to other mortals.\x94

\x93Only to gratify her famishing subjects,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93you disloyal
vassal, you! Fred is worth a dozen of you. Come, make haste. She is
sure to have a fresh stock, for she always has a great baking when Mr.
Geoffrey is coming.\x94

\x93For his private eating?\x94 said Fred.

\x93He likes it pretty well, certainly; and he seldom goes through the
village without making considerable purchase for the benefit of the
children in his path, who take care to be not a few. I found little
Jenny Woods made small distinction between Mr. Geoffrey and Mr. Ginger.
But come, Alex, why are you not off?\x94

\x93Because I don\x92t happen to have a sixpence,\x94 said Alex, with an honest
openness, overcoming his desire to add \x93in my pocket.\x94 It cost him
an effort; for at school, where each slight advantage was noted,
and comparisons perpetually made, Fred\x92s superior wealth and larger
allowance had secured him the adherence of some; and though he either
knew it not, or despised such mammon worship, his rival was sufficiently
awake to it to be uncomfortable in acknowledging his poverty.

\x93Every one is poor at the end of the half,\x94 said Fred, tossing up his
purse and catching it again, so as to demonstrate its lightness. \x93Here
is a sixpence, though, at her Majesty\x92s service.\x94

\x93And do you think she would take your last sixpence, you honour to
loyalty?\x94 said Beatrice, feeling in her pocket. \x93We are not fallen quite
so low. But alas! the royal exchequer is, as I now remember, locked up
in my desk at home.\x94

\x93And my purse is in my workbox,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93So, Fred, I must be beholden to you for the present,\x94 said Beatrice,
\x93if it won\x92t quite break you down.\x94

\x93There are more where that came from,\x94 said Fred, with a careless air.
\x93Come along, Alex.\x94

Away they went. \x93That is unlucky,\x94 soliloquised Queen Bee: \x93if I could
have sent Alex alone, it would have been all right, and he would have
come back again; but now one will carry away the other, and we shall see
them no more.\x94

\x93No, no, that would be rather too bad,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93I am sure Fred
will behave better.\x94

\x93Mark what I say,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93I know how it will be; a dog or a gun
is what a boy cannot for a moment withstand, and if we see them again
\x91twill be a nine days\x92 wonder. But come, we must to the work; I want to
look at your wreath.\x94

She did not, however, work quite as cheerily as before, and lost much
time in running backwards and forwards to peep out at the door, and
in protesting that she was neither surprised nor annoyed at the
faithlessness of her envoys. At last a droll little frightened knock was
heard at the door. Beatrice went to open it, and a whitey-brown paper
parcel was held out to her by a boy in a green canvas round frock, and
a pair of round, hard, red, solid-looking cheeks; no other than Dame
Reid\x92s grandson.

\x93Thank you,\x94 said she. \x93Did Master Alexander give you this?\x94

\x93Ay.\x94

\x93Thank you, that\x92s right!\x94 and away he went.

\x93You see,\x94 said Queen Bee, holding up the parcel to Henrietta, who came
out to the porch. \x93Let us look. O, they have vouchsafed a note!\x94 and
she took out a crumpled envelope, directed in Aunt Mary\x92s handwriting
to Fred, on the back of which Alex had written, \x93Dear B., we beg pardon,
but Carey and Dick are going up to Andrews\x92s about his terrier.--A. L.\x94
 \x93Very cool, certainly!\x94 said Beatrice, laughing, but still with a little
pique. \x93What a life I will lead them!\x94

\x93Well, you were a true prophet,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93and after all it does
not much signify. They have done all the work that is out of reach; but
still I thought Fred would have behaved better.\x94

\x93You have yet to learn the difference between Fred with you or with me,
and Fred with his own congeners,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93you don\x92t know half
the phases of boy nature.\x94

Henrietta sighed; for Fred had certainly not been quite what she
expected him to-day. Not because he had appeared to forget her, for that
was nothing--that was only appearance, and her love was too healthy and
true even to feel it neglect; but he had forgotten his father\x92s grave.
He was now neglecting the church; and far from its consoling her to hear
that it was the way with all boys when they came together, it gave her
one moment\x92s doubt whether they were not happier, when they were all in
all to each other at Rocksand.

It was but for one instant that she felt this impression; the next it
had passed away, and she was sharing the gingerbread with her cousin,
and smiling at the great admiration in which it seemed to be held by
the natives of Knight Sutton. They took a short walk up and down the
churchyard while eating it, and then returned to their occupation, well
pleased, on re-entering, to see how much show they had made already.
They worked together very happily; indeed, now that all thought of her
squires was quite out of her head, Beatrice worked much more in earnest
and in the right kind of frame; something more of the true spirit of
this service came over her, and she really possessed some of that temper
of devotion which she fancied had been with her the whole day.

It was a beautiful thing when Henrietta raised her face, as she was
kneeling by the font, and her clear sweet voice began at first in a low,
timid note, but gradually growing fuller and stronger--


\x93Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the new-born King, Peace on
earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.\x94


Beatrice took up the strain at the first line, and sweetly did their
tones echo through the building; while their hearts swelled with delight
and thankfulness for the \x93good tidings of great joy.\x94 Another and
another Christmas hymn was raised, and never were carols sung by happier
voices; and the decorations proceeded all the better and more suitably
beneath their influence. They scarcely knew how time passed away, till
Henrietta, turning round, was amazed to see Uncle Geoffrey standing just
within the door watching them.

\x93Beautiful!\x94 said he, as she suddenly ceased, in some confusion; \x93your
work is beautiful! I came here prepared to scold you a little, but I
don\x92t think I can. Who made that wreath and Monogram?\x94

\x93She did, of course, papa,\x94 said Beatrice, pointing to her cousin. \x93Who
else could?\x94

\x93It is a very successful arrangement,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey, moving about
to find the spot for obtaining the best view. \x93It is an arrangement to
suggest so much.\x94

Henrietta came to the place where he stood, and for the first time
perceived the full effect of her work. It was placed in front of the
altar, the dark crimson covering of which relieved the shining leaves
and scarlet berries of the holly. The three letters, I H S, were in
the centre, formed of small sprays fastened in the required shape; and
around them was a large circle of holly, plaited and twined together,
the many-pointed leaves standing out in every direction in their
peculiar stiff gracefulness.

\x93I see it now!\x94 said she, in a low voice full of awe. \x93Uncle, I did not
mean to make it so!\x94

\x93How?\x94 he asked.

\x93It is like Good Friday!\x94 said she, as the resemblance to the crown of
thorns struck her more and more strongly.

\x93Well, why not, my dear?\x94 said her uncle, as she shrunk closer to him in
a sort of alarm. \x93Would Christmas be worth observing if it were not for
Good Friday?\x94

\x93Yes, it is right uncle; but somehow it is melancholy.\x94

\x93Where are those verses that say--let me see--


     \x91And still Thy Church\x92s faith Shall link,
     In all her prayer and praise,
     Thy glory with Thy death.\x92


So you see, Henrietta, you have been guided to do quite right.\x94

Henrietta gave a little sigh, but did not answer: and Beatrice said,
\x93It is a very odd thing, whenever any work of art--or, what shall I call
it?--is well done, it is apt to have so much more in it than the author
intended. It is so in poetry, painting, and everything else.\x94

\x93There is, perhaps, more meaning than we understand, when we talk of the
spirit in which a thing is done,\x94 said her father: \x93But have you much
more to do? Those columns look very well.\x94

\x93O, are you come to help us, papa?\x94

\x93I came chiefly because grandmamma was a good deal concerned at your
not coming home to luncheon. You must not be out the whole morning again
just at present. I have some sandwiches in my pocket for you.\x94

Beatrice explained how they had been fed, and her papa said, \x93Very well,
we will find some one who will be glad of them; but mind, do not make
her think you unsociable again. Do you hear and heed?\x94

It was the sort of tone which, while perfectly kind and gentle, shows
that it belongs to a man who will be obeyed, and ready compliance was
promised. He proceeded to give his very valuable aid at once in taste
and execution, the adornment prospered greatly, and when Mr. Franklin
came in, his surprise and delight were excited by the beauty which
had grown up in his absence. The long, drooping, massive wreaths of
evergreen at the east end, centring in the crown and letters; the spiral
festoons round the pillars; the sprays in every niche; the tower of
holly over the font--all were more beautiful, both together and singly,
than he had even imagined, and he was profuse in admiration and thanks.

The work was done; and the two Misses Langford, after one well-satisfied
survey from the door, bent their steps homeward, looking forward to the
pleasure with which grandpapa and Aunt Mary would see it to-morrow. As
they went in the deepening twilight, the whole village seemed vocal:
children\x92s voices, shrill and tuneless near, but softened by distance,
were ringing out here, there, and everywhere, with


\x93As shepherds watch\x92d their flocks by night.\x94


And again, as they walked on, the sound from another band of little
voices was brought on the still frosty wind--


\x93Glad tidings of great joy I bring To you and all mankind.\x94

Imperfect rhymes, bad voices, no time observed; but how joyous,--how
really Christmas-like--how well it suited the soft half-light, the last
pale shine of sunset lingering in the south-west! the large solemn stars
that one by one appeared! How Uncle Geoffrey caught up the lines and
sang them over to himself! How light and free Beatrice walked!--and how
the quiet happy tears would rise in Henrietta\x92s eyes!

The singing in the drawing-room that evening, far superior as it was,
with Henrietta, Beatrice, Frederick, and even Aunt Mary\x92s beautiful
voice, was not equal in enjoyment to that. Was it because Beatrice was
teasing Fred all the time about his defection? The church singers came
up to the Hall, and the drawing-room door was set open for the party
to listen to them; grandpapa and Uncle Geoffrey went out to have a talk
with them, and so passed the space till tea-time; to say nothing of the
many little troops of young small voices outside the windows, to whom
Mrs. Langford\x92s plum buns, and Mr. Geoffrey\x92s sixpences, were a very
enjoyable part of the Christmas festivities.



CHAPTER VII.



The double feast of Sunday and Christmas-day dawned upon Henrietta with
many anxieties for her mother, to whom the first going to church must
be so great a trial. Would that she could, as of old, be at her side the
whole day! but this privilege, unrecked of at Rocksand, was no longer
hers. She had to walk to church with grandmamma and the rest of the
party, while Mrs. Frederick Langford was driven in the open carriage
by old Mr. Langford, and she was obliged to comfort herself with
recollecting that no companion ever suited her better than grandpapa. It
was a sight to be remembered when she came into church, leaning upon his
arm, her sweet expression of peace and resignation, making her even more
lovely than when last she entered there--her face in all its early bloom
of youthful beauty, and radiant with innocent happiness.

But Henrietta knew not how to appreciate that \x93peace which passeth all
understanding;\x94 and all that she saw was the glistening of tears in her
eyes, and the heaving of her bosom, as she knelt down in her place; and
she thought that if she had calculated all that she would have to go
through, and all her own anxieties for her, she should never have urged
their removal. She viewed it, however, as a matter of expediency rather
than of duty, and her feelings were not in the only right and wholesome
channel. As on the former occasion, Knight Sutton Church seemed to her
more full of her father\x92s presence than of any other, so now, throughout
the service, she was chiefly occupied with watching her mother; and
entirely by the force of her own imagination, she contrived to work
herself into a state of nervous apprehension, only equalled by her
mamma\x92s own anxieties for Fred.

Neither she nor any of her young cousins were yet confirmed, so they all
left the church together. What would she not have given to be able to
talk her fears over with either Frederick or Beatrice, and be assured
by them that her mamma had borne it very well, and would not suffer from
it. But though neither of them was indifferent or unfeeling, there was
not much likelihood of sympathy from them just at present. Beatrice had
always been sure that Aunt Mary would behave like an angel; and when
Fred saw that his mother looked tranquil, and showed no symptoms of
agitation, he dismissed anxiety from his mind, and never even guessed at
his sister\x92s alarms.

Nor in reality had he many thoughts for his sister of any kind; for he
was, as usual, engrossed with Queen Bee, criticising the decorations
which had been completed in his absence, and, together with Alex,
replying to the scolding with which she visited their desertion.

Nothing could have been more eminently successful than the decorations,
which looked to still greater advantage in the brightness of the morning
sun than in the dimness of the evening twilight; and many were the
compliments which the two young ladies received upon their handiwork.
The old women had \x93never seen nothing like it,\x94--the school children
whispered to each other, \x93How pretty!\x94 Uncle Geoffrey and Mr. Franklin
admired even more than before; grandpapa and Aunt Mary were delighted;
grandmamma herself allowed it was much better than she had expected; and
Jessie Carey, by way of climax, said it \x93was like magic.\x94

It was a very different Sunday from those to which Henrietta had been
accustomed, in the complete quiet and retirement of Rocksand. The Hall
was so far from the church, that there was but just time to get back in
time for evening service. After which, according to a practice of which
she had often heard her mamma speak with many agreeable reminiscences,
the Langford family almost always went in a body on a progress to the
farmyard, to visit the fatting oxen and see the cows milked.

Mrs. Roger Langford was at home with little Tom, and Mrs. Frederick
Langford was glad to seek the tranquillity and repose of her own
apartment; but all the rest went in procession, greatly to the amusement
of Fred and Henrietta, to the large barn-like building, where a narrow
path led them along the front of the stalls of the gentle-looking
sweet-breathed cows, and the huge white-horned oxen.

Uncle Roger, as always happened, monopolised his brother, and kept
him estimating the weight of the great Devon ox, which was next for
execution. Grandmamma was escorting Charlie and Arthur (whom their
grandfather was wont to call penultimus and antepenultimus), helping
them to feed the cows with turnips, and guarding them from going behind
their heels. Henrietta was extremely happy, for grandpapa himself was
doing the honours for her, and instructing her in the difference between
a Guernsey cow and a short-horn; and so was Alexander, for he had Queen
Bee all to himself in a remote corner of the cow-house, rubbing old
spotted Nancy\x92s curly brow, catching at her polished black-tipped horn,
and listening to his hopes and fears for the next half year. Not so
Frederick, as he stood at the door with Jessie Carey, who, having no
love for the cow-house, especially when in her best silk, thought always
ready to take care of the children there, was very glad to secure a
companion outside, especially one so handsome, so much more polished
than any of her cousins, and so well able to reply to her small talk.
Little did she guess how far off he wished her, or how he longed to be
listening to his uncles, talking to Beatrice, sticking holly into the
cows\x92 halters with John and Richard, scrambling into the hay-loft with
Carey and William--anywhere, rather than be liable to the imputation of
being too fine a gentleman to enter a cow-house.

This accusation never entered the head of any one but himself; but still
an attack was in store for him. After a few words to Martin the cowman,
and paying their respects to the pigs, the party left the farm-yard, and
the inhabitants of Sutton Leigh took the path to their own abode, while
Beatrice turned round to her cousin, saying, \x93Well, Fred, I congratulate
you on your politeness! How well you endured being victimised!\x94

\x93I victimised! How do you know I was not enchanted?\x94

\x93Nay, you can\x92t deceive me while you have a transparent face. Trust me
for finding out whether you are bored or not. Besides, I would not pay
so bad a compliment to your taste as to think otherwise.\x94

\x93How do you know I was not exercising the taste of Rubens himself? I
was actually admiring you all, and thinking how like it all was to that
great print from one of his pictures; the building with its dark gloomy
roof, and open sides, the twilight, the solitary dispersed snow-flakes,
the haze of dust, the sleek cattle, and their long white horns.\x94

\x93Quite poetical,\x94 said Queen Bee, in a short, dry, satirical manner.
\x93How charmed Jessie must have been!\x94

\x93Why?\x94 said Fred, rather provoked.

\x93Such masterly eyes are not common among our gentlemen. You will be
quite her phoenix; and how much \x91Thomson\x92s Seasons\x92 you will have to
hear! I dare say you have had it already--


     \x91Now, shepherds, to your helpless charge be kind!\x92\x94


\x93Well, very good advice, too,\x94 said Fred.

\x93I hate and detest Thomson,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93above all, for travestying
Ruth into \x91the lovely young Lavinia;\x92 so whenever Jessie treated me to
any of her quotations, I criticised him without mercy, and at last I
said, by great good luck, that the only use of him was to serve as an
imposition for young ladies at second-rate boarding schools. It was a
capital hit, for Alex found out that it was the way she learnt so much
of him, and since that time I have heard no more of \x91Jemmy Thomson!
Jemmy Thomson! O!\x92\x94

The laughter which followed this speech had a tone in it, which,
reaching Mr. Geoffrey Langford, who was walking a little in front with
his mother, made him suspect that the young people were getting into
such spirits as were not quite Sunday-like; and, turning round, he asked
them some trifling question, which made him a party to the conversation,
and brought it back to a quieter, though not less merry tone.

Dinner was at five, and Henrietta was dressed so late that Queen Bee had
to come up to summon her, and bring her down after every one was in the
dining-room--an entr\xE9e all the more formidable, because Mr. Franklin was
dining there, as well as Uncle Roger and Alexander.

Thanks in some degree to her own dawdling, she had been in a hurry the
whole day, and she longed for a quiet evening: but here it seemed to
her, as with the best intentions it usually is, in a large party, that,
but for the laying aside of needlework, of secular books and secular
music, it might as well have been any other day of the week.

Her mamma was very tired, and went to bed before tea, the gentlemen had
a long talk over the fire, the boys and Beatrice laughed and talked, and
she helped her grandmamma to hand about the tea, answering her questions
about her mother\x92s health and habits, and heard a good deal that
interested her, but still she could not feel as if it were Sunday.
At Rocksand she used to sit for many a pleasant hour, either in the
darkening summer twilight, or the bright red light of the winter fire,
repeating or singing hymns, and enjoying the most delightful talks that
the whole week had to offer, and now she greatly missed the conversation
that would have \x93set this strange week to rights in her head,\x94 as she
said to herself.

She thought over it a good deal whilst Bennet was brushing her hair at
night, feeling as if it had been a week-day, and as if it would be as
difficult to begin a new fresh week on Monday morning, as it would a
new day after sitting up a whole night. How far this was occasioned by
Knight Sutton habits, and how far it was her own fault, was not what she
asked herself, though she sat up for a long time musing on the change
in her way of life, and scarcely able to believe that it was only last
Sunday that she had been sitting with her mother over their fire at
Rocksand. Enough had happened for a whole month. Her darling project was
fulfilled; the airy castle of former days had become a substance, and
she was inhabiting it: and was she really so very much happier? There
she went into a reverie--but musing is not meditating, nor vague
dreamings wholesome reflections; she went on sitting their, chiefly
for want of energy to move, till the fire burnt low, the clock struck
twelve, and Mrs. Frederick Langford exclaimed in a sleepy voice, \x93My
dear, are you going to sleep there?\x94



CHAPTER VIII.



Breakfast was nearly over on Monday morning, when a whole party of the
Sutton Leigh boys entered with the intelligence that the great pond in
Knight\x92s Portion was quite frozen over, and that skating might begin
without loss of time.

\x93You are coming, are you not, Bee?\x94 said Alex, leaning over the back of
her chair.

\x93O yes,\x94 said she, nearly whispering \x93only take care. It is taboo
there,\x94--and she made a sign with her hand towards Mrs. Langford, \x93and
don\x92t frighten Aunt Mary about Fred. O it is too late, Carey\x92s doing the
deed as fast as he can.\x94

Carey was asking Fred whether he had ever skated, or could skate, and
Fred was giving an account of his exploits in that line at school,
hoping it might prove to his mother that he might be trusted to take
care of himself since he had dared the danger before. In vain: the
alarmed expression had come over her face, as she asked Alexander
whether his father had looked at the ice.

\x93No,\x94 said Alex, \x93but it is perfectly safe. I tried it this morning, and
it is as firm as this marble chimney-piece.\x94

\x93He is pretty well to be trusted,\x94 said his grandfather, \x93more
especially as it would be difficult to get drowned there.\x94

\x93I would give a shilling to anyone who could drown himself there,\x94 said
Alex.

\x93The travelling man did,\x94 exclaimed at once Carey, John, and Richard.

\x93Don\x92t they come in just like the Greek chorus?\x94 said Beatrice, in a
whisper to Fred, who gave a little laugh, but was too anxious to attend
to her.

\x93I thought he was drowned in the river,\x94 said Alex.

\x93No, it was in the deep pool under the weeping willow, where the
duckweed grows so rank in summer,\x94 said Carey.

Uncle Geoffrey laughed. \x93I am sorry to interfere with your romantic
embellishments, Carey, or with the credit of your beloved pond, since
you are determined not to leave it behindhand with its neighbours.\x94

\x93I always thought it was there,\x94 said the boy.

\x93And thought wrong; the poor man was found in the river two miles off.\x94

\x93I always heard it was at Knight\x92s Pool,\x94 repeated Carey.

\x93I do not know what you may have heard,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey; \x93but as it
happened a good while before you were born, I think you had better not
argue the point.\x94

\x93Grandpapa,\x94 persisted Carey, \x93was it not in Knight\x92s Pool?\x94

\x93Certainly not,\x94 was the answer drily given.

\x93Well,\x94 continued Carey, \x93I am sure you might drown yourself there.\x94

\x93Rather than own yourself mistaken,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey.

\x93Carey, Carey, I hate contradiction,\x94 said grandmamma, rising and
rustling past where he stood with a most absurd, dogged, unconvinced
face. \x93Take your arm off the mantelpiece, let that china cup alone, and
stand like a gentleman. Do!\x94

\x93All in vain!\x94 said Beatrice. \x93To the end of his life he will maintain
that Knight\x92s Pool drowned the travelling man!\x94

\x93Well, never mind,\x94 said John, impatiently, \x93are we coming to skate this
morning or are we not?\x94

\x93I really wish,\x94 said Aunt Mary, as if she could not help it, \x93without
distrusting either old Knight\x92s Pool or your judgment, Alexander, that
you would ask some one to look at it.\x94

\x93I should like just to run down and see the fun,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey,
thus setting all parties at rest for the moment. The two girls ran
joyfully up to put on their bonnets, as Henrietta wished to see,
Beatrice to join in, the sport. At that instant Mrs. Langford asked
her son Geoffrey to remove some obstacle which hindered the comfortable
shutting of the door, and though a servant might just as well have done
it, he readily complied, according to his constant habit of making all
else give way to her, replying to the discomfited looks of the boys, \x93I
shall be ready by the time the young ladies come down.\x94

So he was, long before Henrietta was ready, and just as she and Beatrice
appeared on the stairs, Atkins was carrying across the hall what the
boys looked at with glances of dismay, namely, the post-bag. Knight
Sutton, being small and remote, did not possess a post-office, but
a messenger came from Allonfield for the letters on every day except
Sunday, and returned again in the space of an hour. A very inconvenient
arrangement, as everyone had said for the last twenty years, and might
probably say for twenty years more.

As usual, more than half the contents were for G. Langford, Esq.,
and Fred\x92s face grew longer and longer as he saw the closely-written
business-like sheets.

\x93Fred, my poor fellow,\x94 said his uncle, looking up, \x93I am sorry for you,
but one or two must be answered by this day\x92s post. I will not be longer
than I can help.\x94

\x93Then do let us come on,\x94 exclaimed the chorus.

\x93Come, Queenie,\x94 added Alex.

She delayed, however, saying, \x93Can I do any good, papa?\x94

\x93Thank you, let me see. I do not like to stop you, but it would save
time if you could just copy a letter.\x94

\x93O thank you, pray let me,\x94 said Beatrice, delighted. \x93Go on, Henrietta,
I shall soon come.\x94

Henrietta would have waited, but she saw a chance of speaking to her
brother, which she did not like to lose.

Her mother had taken advantage of the various conversations going on in
the hall, to draw her son aside, saying, \x93Freddy, I believe you think me
very troublesome, but do let me entreat of you not to venture on the ice
till one of your uncles has said it is safe.\x94

\x93Uncle Roger trusts Alex,\x94 said Fred.

\x93Yes, but he lets all those boys take their chance, and a number of
you together are likely to be careless, and I know there used to be
dangerous places in that pond. I will not detain you, my dear,\x94 added
she, as the others were preparing to start, \x93only I beg you will not
attempt to skate till your uncle comes.\x94

\x93Very well,\x94 said Frederick, in a tone of as much annoyance as ever he
showed his mother, and with little suspicion how much it cost her not
to set her mind at rest by exacting a promise from him. This she had
resolutely forborne to do in cases like the present, from his earliest
days, and she had her reward in the implicit reliance she could place
on his word when once given. And now, sighing that it had not been
voluntarily offered, she went to her sofa, to struggle and reason in
vain with her fears, and start at each approaching step, lest it should
bring the tidings of some fatal accident, all the time blaming herself
for the entreaties which might, as she dreaded, place him in peril of
disobedience.

In a few moments Mr. Geoffrey Langford was sitting in the great red
leathern chair in the study, writing as fast as his fingers would move,
apparently without a moment for thought, though he might have said, like
the great painter, that what seemed the work of half an hour, was in
fact the labour of years. His daughter, her bonnet by her side, sat
opposite to him, writing with almost equal rapidity, and supremely
happy, for to the credit of our little Queen Bee let it be spoken, that
no talk with Henrietta, no walk with grandpapa, no new exciting tale,
no, not even a flirtation with Fred and Alex, one or both, was equal in
her estimation to the pleasure and honour of helping papa, even though
it was copying a dry legal opinion, instead of gliding about on the
smooth hard ice, in the bright winter morning\x92s sunshine.

The two pens maintained a duet of diligent scratching for some twenty
or five and twenty minutes without intermission, but at last Beatrice
looked up, and without speaking, held up her sheet.

\x93Already? Thank you, my little clerk, I could think it was mamma. Now
then, off to the skating. My compliments to Fred, and tell him I feel
for him, and will not keep him waiting longer than I can avoid:\x94 and
muttering a resumption of his last sentence, on went the lawyer\x92s
indefatigable pen; and away flew the merry little Busy Bee, bounding off
with her droll, tripping, elastic, short-stepped run, which suited so
well with her little alert figure, and her dress, a small plain black
velvet bonnet, a tight black velvet \x93jacket,\x94 as she called it, and a
brown silk dress, with narrow yellow stripes (chosen chiefly in joke,
because it was the colour of a bee), not a bit of superfluous shawl,
boa, or ribbon about her, but all close and compact, fit for the
diversion which she was eager to enjoy. The only girl among so many
boys, she had learnt to share in many of their sports, and one of the
prime favourites was skating, a diversion which owes as much of its
charm to the caprices of its patron Jack Frost, as to the degree of
skill which it requires.

She arrived at the stile leading to \x93Knight\x92s Portion,\x94 as it was
called, and a very barren portion must the poor Knight have possessed if
it was all his property. It was a sloping chalky field or rather corner
of a down, covered with very short grass and thistles, which defied
all the attacks of Uncle Roger and his sheep. On one side was a sort of
precipice, where the chalk had been dug away, and a rather extensive old
chalk pit formed a tolerable pond, by the assistance of the ditch at the
foot of a hedge. On the glassy surface already marked by many a sharply
traced circular line, the Sutton Leigh boys were careering, the younger
ones with those extraordinary bends, twists, and contortions to which
the unskilful are driven in order to preserve their balance. Frederick
and Henrietta stood on the brink, neither of them looking particularly
cheerful; but both turned gladly at the sight of the Busy Bee, and came
to meet her with eager inquiries for her papa.

She was a very welcome sight to both, especially Henrietta, who had from
the first felt almost out of place alone with all those boys, and
who hoped that she would be some comfort to poor Fred, who had been
entertaining her with every variety of grumbling for the last half-hour,
and perversely refusing to walk out of sight of the forbidden pleasure,
or to talk of anything else. Such a conversation as she was wishing for
was impossible whilst he was constantly calling out to the others, and
exclaiming at their adventures, and in the intervals lamenting his
own hard fate, scolding her for her slowness in dressing, which had
occasioned the delay, and magnifying the loss of his pleasure, perhaps
in a sort of secret hope that the temptation would so far increase as
to form in his eyes an excuse for yielding to it. Seldom had he shown
himself so unamiable towards her, and with great relief and satisfaction
she beheld her cousin descending the steep slippery path from the height
above, and while the cloud began to lighten on his brow, she thought to
herself, \x93It will be all right now, he is always happy with Busy Bee!\x94

So he might have been had Beatrice been sufficiently unselfish for once
to use her influence in the right direction, and surrender an amusement
for the sake of another; but to give up or defer such a pleasure as
skating with Alex never entered her mind, though a moment\x92s reflection
might have shown her how much more annoying the privation would be
rendered by the sight of a girl fearlessly enjoying the sport from which
he was debarred. It would, perhaps, be judging too hardly to reckon
against her as a fault that her grandmamma could not bear to hear of
anything so \x93boyish,\x94 and had long ago entreated her to be more like a
young lady. There was no positive order in this case, and her papa
and mamma did not object. So she eagerly answered Alexander\x92s summons,
fastened on her skates, and soon was gliding merrily on the surface of
the Knight\x92s Pool, while her cousins watched her dexterity with surprise
and interest; but soon Fred once more grew gloomy, sighed, groaned,
looked at his watch, and recommenced his complaints. At first she
had occupation enough in attending to her own security to bestow any
attention on other things, but in less than a quarter of an hour, she
began to feel at her ease, and her spirits rising to the pitch where
consideration is lost, she \x93could not help,\x94 in her own phrase, laughing
at the disconsolate Fred.

\x93How woebegone he looks!\x94 said she, as she whisked past, \x93but never
mind, Fred, the post must go some time or other.\x94

\x93It must be gone,\x94 said Fred. \x93I am sure we have been here above an
hour!\x94

\x93Henrietta looks blue with cold, like an old hen obliged to follow her
ducklings to the water!\x94 observed Beatrice, again gliding near, and in
the midst of her next circular sweep she chanted--


\x93Although their feet are pointed, and my feet are round, Pray, is that
any reason why I should be drowned?\x94


It was a great aggravation of Fred\x92s calamities to be obliged to laugh,
nor were matters mended by the sight of the party now advancing from the
house, Jessie Carey, with three of the lesser boys.

\x93What news of Uncle Geoffrey?\x94

\x93I did not see him,\x94 said Jessie: \x93I think he was in the study, Uncle
Roger went to him there.\x94

\x93No hope then!\x94 muttered the unfortunate Fred.

\x93Can\x92t you skate, Fred?\x94 asked little Arthur with a certain most
provoking face of wonder and curiosity.

\x93Presently,\x94 said Fred.

\x93He must not,\x94 cried Richard, in a tone which Fred thought malicious,
though it was only rude.

\x93Must not?\x94 and Arthur looked up in amazement to the boy so much taller
than his three brothers, creatures in his eyes privileged to do what
they pleased.

\x93His mamma won\x92t let him,\x94 was Dick\x92s polite answer. Fred could have
knocked him down with the greatest satisfaction, but in the first place
he was out of reach, in the second, the young ladies were present, in
the third he was a little boy, and a stupid one, and Fred had temper
enough left to see that there would be nothing gained by quarrelling
with him, so contenting himself with a secret but most ardent wish that
he had him as his fag at school, he turned to Jessie, and asked her what
she thought of the weather, if the white frost would bring rain, &c.,
&c.

Jessie thought the morning too bright not to be doubtful, and the hoar
frost was so very thick and white that it was not likely to continue
much longer.

\x93How beautiful these delicate white crests are to every thorn in the
hedge!\x94 said Henrietta; \x93and look, these pieces of chalk are almost
cased in glass.\x94

\x93O I do love such a sight!\x94 said Jessie. \x93Here is a beautiful bit of
stick crusted over.\x94

\x93It is a perfect little Giant\x92s Causeway,\x94 said Henrietta; \x93do look at
these lovely little columns, Fred.\x94

\x93Ah!\x94 said Jessie, \x93Myriads of little salts, or hook\x92d or shaped like
double wedges.--\x94

She thought Beatrice safe out of hearing, but that very moment by she
came, borne swiftly along, and catching the cadence of that one line,
looked archly at Fred, and shaped with her lips rather than uttered--\x93O
Jemmy Thomson! Jemmy Thomson, O!\x94

It filled up the measure. That Beatrice, Alexander and Chorus should be
making him a laughing-stock, and him pinned to Miss Carey\x92s side, was
more than he could endure. He had made up his mind that Uncle Geoffrey
was not coming at all, his last feeble hold of patience and obedience
gave way, and he exclaimed, \x93Well, I shan\x92t wait any longer, it is not
of the least use.\x94

\x93O, Fred, consider!\x94 said his sister.

\x93That\x92s right, Freddy,\x94 shouted Carey, \x93he\x92ll not come now, I\x92ll answer
for it.\x94

\x93You know he promised he would,\x94 pleaded Henrietta.

\x93Uncle Roger has got hold of him, and he is as bad as the old man of the
sea,\x94 said Fred, \x93the post has been gone this half-hour, and I shall not
wait any longer.\x94

\x93Think of mamma.\x94

\x93How can you talk such nonsense, Henrietta?\x94 exclaimed Fred impatiently,
\x93do you think that I am so awfully heavy that the ice that bears them
must needs break with me?\x94

\x93I do not suppose there is any danger,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93but for the
sake of poor mamma\x92s entreaties!\x94

\x93Do you think I am going to be kept in leading-strings all the rest of
my life?\x94 said Fred, obliged to work himself into a passion in order to
silence his sister and his conscience. \x93I have submitted to such absurd
nonsense a great deal too long already, I will not be made a fool of in
the sight of everybody; so here goes!\x94

And breaking away from her detaining arm, he ran down to the verge of
the pond, and claimed the skates which he had lent to John. Henrietta
turned away her eyes full of tears.

\x93Never mind, Henrietta,\x94 shouted the good-natured Alexander, \x93I\x92ll
engage to fish him out if he goes in.\x94

\x93It is as likely I may fish you out, Mr. Alex,\x94 returned Fred, slightly
affronted.

\x93Or more likely still there will be no fishing in the case,\x94 said the
naughty little Syren, who felt all the time a secret satisfaction in the
consciousness that it was she who had made the temptation irresistible,
then adding, to pacify Henrietta and her own feelings of compunction,
\x93Aunt Mary must be satisfied when she hears with what exemplary patience
he waited till papa was past hope, and the pond past fear.\x94

Whether Alex smiled at the words \x93past fear,\x94 or whether Fred only
thought he did, is uncertain, the effect was that he exclaimed, \x93I only
wish there was a place in this pond that you did not like to skate over,
Alex.\x94

\x93Well, there is one,\x94 said Alex, laughing, \x93where Carey drowns the
travelling man: there is a spring there, and the ice is never so firm,
so you may try--\x94

\x93Don\x92t, Fred--I beg you won\x92t!\x94 cried Beatrice.

\x93O, Fred, Fred, think, think, if anything should happen!\x94 implored
Henrietta.

\x93I shan\x92t look, I can\x92t bear it!\x94 exclaimed Jessie, turning away.

Fred without listening skated triumphantly towards the hedge, and across
the perilous part, and fortunately it was without disaster. In the
middle of the shout of applause with which the chorus celebrated his
achievement, a gate in the hedge suddenly opened, and the two uncles
stood before them. The first thing Uncle Geoffrey did was to take a
short run, and slide right across the middle of the pond, while Uncle
Roger stood by laughing and saying, \x93Well done, Geoffrey, you are not
quite so heavy as I am.\x94

Uncle Geoffrey reaching the opposite side, caught up little Charley by
the arms and whirled him round in the air, then shouted in a voice
that had all the glee and blithe exultation of a boy just released
from school, \x93I hereby certify to all whom it may concern, the pond is
franked! Where\x92s Fred?\x94

Fred wished himself anywhere else, and so did Henrietta. Even Queen
Bee\x92s complacency gave way before her father, and it was only Alexander
who had spirit to answer, \x93We thought you were not coming at all.\x94

\x93Indeed!\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey; and little Willy exclaimed, \x93Why, Alex,
Uncle Geoffrey always comes when he promises,\x94 a truth to which every
one gave a mental assent.

Without taking the smallest notice of Frederick by word or look, Uncle
Geoffrey proceeded to join the other boys, to the great increase of
their merriment, instructing them in making figures of eight, and in all
the other mysteries of the skating art, which they could scarcely enjoy
more than he seemed to do. Henrietta, cold and unhappy, grieved at her
brother\x92s conduct, and still more grieved at the displeasure of her
uncle, wished to return to the house, yet could not make up her mind
to do so, for fear of her mamma\x92s asking about Fred; and whilst she was
still doubting and hesitating, the Church bell began to ring, reminding
her of the saint\x92s day service, one of the delights of Knight Sutton
to which she had so long looked forward. Yet here was another
disappointment. The uncles and the two girls immediately prepared to go.
Jessie said she must take Arthur and Charley home, and set off. The boys
could do as they pleased, and Willy holding Uncle Geoffrey\x92s hand was
going with him, but the rest continued their sport, and among them was
Fred. He had never disobeyed a Church bell before, and had rather not
have done so now, but as he saw none of his male companions setting off,
he fancied that to attend a week-day service in the holidays might be
reckoned a girlish proceeding, imagined his cousins laughing at him as
soon as his back was turned, and guessed from Uncle Geoffrey\x92s grave
looks that he might be taken to task when no longer protected by the
presence of the rest.

He therefore replied with a gruff short \x93No\x94 to his sister\x92s anxious
question whether he was not coming, and flourished away to the other end
of the pond; but a few seconds after he was not a little surprised and
vexed at finding himself mistaken after all--at least so far as regarded
Alex, who had been only going on with his sport to the last moment, and
now taking off his skates, vaulted over the gate, and ran at full speed
after the rest of the party, overtaking them before they reached the
village.

Henrietta was sadly disappointed when, looking round at the sound of
footsteps, she saw him instead of her brother. His refusal to go to
Church grieved her more than his disobedience, on which she did not in
general look with sufficient seriousness, and for which in the present
case there were many extenuating circumstances, which she longed to
plead to Uncle Geoffrey, who would, she thought, relax in his severity
towards her poor Fred, if he knew how long he had waited, and how
much he had been teased. This, however, she could not tell him without
complaining of his daughter, and in fact it was an additional pain
that Queen Bee should have used all her powerful influence in the wrong
direction.

It was impossible to be long vexed with the little Busy Bee, even in
such circumstances as these, especially when she came up to her, put
her arm into hers, and looked into her face with all the sweetness that
could sometimes reside in those brown features of hers, saying, \x93My
poor Henrietta, I am afraid we have been putting you to torture all this
time, but you know that it is quite nonsense to be afraid of anything
happening.\x94

\x93O yes, I know that, but really, Queenie, you should not have persuaded
him.\x94

\x93I? Well, I believe it was rather naughty of me to laugh at him, for
persuade him I did not, but if you had but seen him in the point I did,
and known how absurd you two poor disconsolate creatures looked, you
would not have been able to help it. And how was I to know that he would
go into the only dangerous place he could find, just by way of bravado?
I could have beaten myself when I saw that, but it is all safe, and no
harm done.\x94

\x93There is your papa displeased with him.\x94

\x93O, I will settle that; I will tell him it was half of it my fault, and
beg him to say nothing about it. And as for Fred--I should like to make
a charade of fool-hardy, with a personal application. Did you ever act a
charade, Henrietta?\x94

\x93Never; I scarcely know what it is.\x94

\x93O charming, charming! What rare fun we will have! I wish I had not told
you of fool-hardy, for now we can\x92t have that, but this evening, O, this
evening, I am no Queen Bee if you do not see what will amaze you! Alex!
Alex! Where is the boy? I must speak to you this instant.\x94

Pouncing upon Alexander, she drew him a little behind the others, and
was presently engaged in an eager low-voiced conference, apparently
persuading him to something much against his inclination, but Henrietta
was not sufficiently happy to bestow much curiosity on the subject. All
her thoughts were with Fred, and she had not long been in Church before
all her mother\x92s fears seemed to have passed to her. Her mother had
recovered her serenity, and was able to trust her boy in the hands of
his Heavenly Father, while Henrietta, haunted by the remembrance of
many a moral tale, was tormenting herself with the expectation of
retribution, and dwelling on a fancied figure of her brother lifted
senseless out of the water, with closed eyes and dripping hair.



CHAPTER IX.



With all her faults, Queen Bee was a good-natured, generous little
thing, and it was not what every one would have done, when, as soon as
she returned from Church, she followed her father to the study, saying,
\x93Papa, you must not be displeased with Fred, for he was very much
plagued, and he only had just begun when you came.\x94

\x93The other boys had been teasing him?\x94

\x93Dick had been laughing at him, saying his mamma would not let him go on
the ice, and that, you know, was past all bearing. And honestly, it was
my fault too; I laughed, not at that joke, of course, for it was only
worthy of Dick himself, but at poor Fred\x92s own disconsolate looks.\x94

\x93Was not his case unpleasant enough, without your making it worse?\x94

\x93Of course, papa, I ought to have been more considerate, but you know
how easily I am run away with by high spirits.\x94

\x93And I know you have the power to restrain them, Beatrice. You have no
right to talk of being run away with, as if you were helpless.\x94

\x93I know it is very wrong; I often think I will check myself, but
there are many speeches which, when once they come to my lips, are
irresistible, or seem so. However, I will not try to justify myself; I
know I was to blame, only you must not be angry with Fred, for it really
did seem rather unreasonable to keep him there parading about with
Henrietta and Jessie, when the ice was quite safe for everybody else.\x94

\x93I am not angry with him, Bee; I cannot but be sorry that he gave way
to the temptation, but there was so much to excuse him, that I shall not
show any further displeasure. He is often in a very vexatious position
for a boy of his age. I can imagine nothing more galling than these
restraints.\x94

\x93And cannot you--\x94 said Beatrice, stopping short.

\x93Speak to your aunt? I will not make her miserable. Anything she thinks
right she will do, at whatever cost to herself, and for that very
reason I will not interfere. It is a great deal better for Fred that
his amusement should be sacrificed to her peace, than her peace to his
amusement.\x94

\x93Yet surely this cannot go on for life,\x94 said Beatrice, as if she was
half afraid to hazard the remark.

\x93Never mind the future. She will grow more used to the other boys, and
gain more confidence in Fred. Things will right themselves, if we do
not set them wrong. And now, mark me. You are not a mere child, who can
plead the excuse of thoughtlessness for leading him into mischief;
you know the greatness of the sin of disobedience, and the fearful
responsibility incurred by conducing to it in others. Do not help to
lead him astray for the sake of--of vanity--of amusement.\x94

Something in the manner in which he pronounced these words conveyed to
Beatrice a sense of the emptiness and worthlessness of her motives,
and she answered earnestly, \x93I was wrong, papa; I know it is a love of
saying clever things that often leads me wrong. It was so to-day, for
I could have stopped myself, but for the pleasure of making fun. It is
vanity, and I will try to subdue it.\x94

Beatrice had a sort of candid way of reasoning about her faults, and
would blame herself, and examine her motives in a manner which disarmed
reproof by forestalling it. She was perfectly sincere, yet it was
self-deception, for it was not as if it was herself whom she was
analysing, but rather as if it was some character in a book; indeed, she
would have described herself almost exactly as she is here described,
except that her delineation would have been much more clever and more
exact. She would not have spared herself--for this reason, that her
own character was more a study to her than a reality, her faults rather
circumstances than sins; it was her mind, rather than her soul, that
reflected and made resolutions, or more correctly, what would have been
resolutions, if they had possessed any real earnestness, and not been
done, as it were, mechanically, because they became the occasion.

The conversation was concluded by the sound of the luncheon bell, and
she ran up to take off her bonnet, her thoughts taking the following
course: \x93I am very sorry; it is too bad to tease poor Fred, cruel and
wrong, and all that, only if he would not look absurd! It is too droll
to see how provoked he is, when I take the least notice of Alex, and
after all, I don\x92t think he cares for me half as much as Alex does, only
it flatters his vanity. Those great boys are really quite as vain as
girls, not Alex though, good downright fellow, who would do anything for
me, and I have put him to a hard proof to-night. What a capital thought
those charades are! Fred will meet the others on common, nay, on
superior ground, and there will be none of these foolish questions who
can be most manly mad. Fred is really a fine spirited fellow though, and
I thought papa could not find it in his heart to be angry with him. How
capitally he will act, and how lovely Henrietta will look! I must make
them take to the charades, it will be so very delightful, and keep Fred
quite out of mischief, which will set Aunt Mary at ease. And how amused
grandpapa will be! What shall it be to-night? What Alex can manage to
act tolerably. Ce n\x92est que le premier pas qui conte, and the premier
pas must be with our best foot foremost. I give myself credit for the
thought; it will make all smooth.\x94

These meditations occupied her during a hasty toilette and a still more
rapid descent, and were abruptly concluded by her alighting from her
swinging jump down the last four steps close to Fred himself, who was
standing by the hall fire with a gloomy expression of countenance,
which with inconsiderate good nature she hastened to remove. \x93Don\x92t look
dismal, Freddy; I have told papa all about it, and he does not mind it.
Cheer up, you adventurous knight, I have some glorious fun for you this
evening.\x94

Not mind it! The impression thus conveyed to one but too willing to
receive it, was that Uncle Geoffrey, that external conscience, thought
him excused from attending to unreasonable prohibitions. Away went all
the wholesome self-reproach which he had begun to feel, away went all
fear of Uncle Geoffrey\x92s eye, all compunction in meeting his mother,
and he entered the dining-room in such lively spirits that his uncle
was vexed to see him so unconcerned, and his mother felt sure that her
entreaty had not been disregarded. She never heard to the contrary, for
she liked better to trust than to ask questions, and he, like far too
many boys, did not think concealment blameable where there was no actual
falsehood.

All the time they were at table, Queen Bee was in one of her states of
wild restlessness, and the instant she was at liberty she flew away,
and was seen no more that afternoon, except in certain flittings into
different apartments, where she appeared for a moment or two with some
extraordinary and mysterious request. First she popped upon grandpapa,
and with the expense of a little coaxing and teasing, obtained from him
the loan of his Deputy-Lieutenant\x92s uniform; then she darted into the
drawing-room, on hearing Uncle Roger\x92s voice, and conjured him not to
forget to give a little note to Alex, containing these words, \x93Willy
must wear his cap without a peak. Bring Roger\x92s dirk, and above all,
beg, borrow, or steal, Uncle Roger\x92s fishing boots.\x94 Her next descent
was upon Aunt Mary, in her own room: \x93Aunt, would you do me a great
favour, and ask no questions, nor tell Henrietta? Do just lend me the
three little marabout feathers which you had in your cap yesterday
evening. Only for this one evening, and I\x92ll take great care.\x94

\x93I am sure, my dear, you are very welcome to them; I do not feel like
myself in such finery,\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford, smiling, as
Beatrice took possession of the elegant little white cap, which she had
the discretion to carry to Bennet, its lawful protector, to be bereft
of its plumed honours. Bennet, an old friend of nursery days, was in
the secret of her plans for the evening; her head-quarters were in the
work-room, which had often served her as a playroom in days gone by, and
Judith, gratified by a visit from \x93Miss Bee,\x94 dived for her sake into
boxes and drawers, amid hoards where none but Judith would have dared to
rummage.

All this might ultimately be for Henrietta\x92s entertainment, but at
present it did not much conduce towards it, as she was left to her own
resources in the drawing-room. She practised a little, worked a little,
listened to a consultation between grandpapa and Uncle Roger, about the
new pig-sty, wrote it down in her list when they went into the study to
ask Uncle Geoffrey\x92s advice, tried to talk over things in general with
her mamma, but found it impossible with grandmamma continually coming
in and out of the room, yawned, wondered what Busy Bee was about, felt
deserted, gave up work, and had just found an entertaining book, when
grandmamma came in, and invited her to visit the poultry yard. She
readily accepted, but for want of Queen Bee to hurry her, kept her
grandmamma waiting longer than she liked, and had more of a scolding
than was agreeable. The chickens were all gone to roost by the time they
arrived, the cock just peering down at them with his coral-bordered eye,
and the ducks waddling stealthily in one by one, the feeding was over,
the hen-wife gone, and Mrs. Langford vexed at being too late.

Henrietta was annoyed with herself and with the result of the day, but
she had some consolation, for as they were going towards the house,
they met Mr. Langford, who called out, \x93So you have been walking with
grandmamma! Well, if you are not tired, come and have a little turn with
grandpapa. I am going to speak to Daniels, the carpenter, and my \x91merry
Christmas\x92 will be twice as welcome to his old father, if I take you
with me.\x94

Henrietta might be a little tired, but such an invitation was not to be
refused, and she was at her grandpapa\x92s side in an instant, thanking him
so much that he laughed and said the favour was to him. \x93I wish we had
Fred here too,\x94 said he, as they walked on, \x93the old man will be very
glad to see you.\x94

\x93Was he one of mamma\x92s many admirers in the village?\x94

\x93All the village admired Miss Mary, but it was your father who was
old Daniels\x92 chief friend. The boys used to have a great taste for
carpentry, especially your father, who was always at his elbow when he
was at work at the Hall. Poor old man, I thought he would never have
held up his head again when our great trouble came on us. He used to
touch his hat, and turn away without looking me in the face. And there
you may see stuck up over the chimney-piece in his cottage the new
chisel that your father gave him when he had broken his old one.\x94

\x93Dear old man!\x94 said Henrietta, warmly, \x93I am so very glad that we have
come here, where people really care for us, and are interested in us,
and not for our own sake. How delightful it is! I feel as if we were
come out of banishment.\x94

\x93Well, it is all the better for you,\x94 said Mr. Langford; \x93if we had
had you here, depend upon it, we should have spoilt you. We have so few
granddaughters that we cannot help making too much of them. There is
that little Busy Bee--by the by, what is her plan this evening, or are
not you in her secret?\x94

\x93O no, I believe she is to surprise us all. I met her just before I came
out dragging a huge bag after her: I wanted to help her, but she would
not let me.\x94

\x93She turns us all round her finger,\x94 said grandpapa. \x93I never found the
person who could resist Queen Bee, except grandmamma. But I am glad you
do not take after her, Henrietta, for one such grandchild is enough, and
it is better for woman-kind to have leadable spirits than leading.\x94

\x93O, grandpapa!\x94

\x93That is a dissentient O. What does it mean? Out with it.\x94

\x93Only that I was thinking about weakness; I beg your pardon, grandpapa.\x94

\x93Look here!\x94 and Mr. Langford bent the slender cane in his hand (he
disdained a stronger walking-stick) to its full extent of suppleness.
\x93Is this weak?\x94

\x93No, it is strong in energy,\x94 said Henrietta, laughing, as the elastic
cane sprang back to its former shape.

\x93Yet to a certain point you can bend it as far as you please. Well, that
should be the way with you: be turned any way but the wrong, and let
your own determination be only to keep upright.\x94

\x93But women are admired for influence.\x94

\x93Influence is a good thing in its way, but only of a good sort when it
is unconscious. At any rate, when you set to work to influence people,
take care it is only with a view to their good, and not to your own
personal wishes, or influencing becomes a dangerous trade, especially
for young ladies towards their elders.\x94

Grandpapa, who had only seen Henrietta carried about by Beatrice,
grandmamma, or Fred, and willing to oblige them all, had little idea how
applicable to her case was his general maxim, nor indeed did she at the
moment take it to herself, although it was one day to return upon her.
It brought them to the neat cottage of the carpenter, with the thatched
workshop behind, and the garden in front, which would have looked neat
but for the melancholy aspect of the frost-bitten cabbages.

This was Henrietta\x92s first cottage visit, and she was all eagerness
and interest, picturing to herself a venerable old man, almost as
fine-looking as her grandfather, and as eloquent as old men in cottages
always are in books; but she found it rather a disappointing meeting. It
was a very nice trim-looking daughter-in-law who opened the door, on
Mr. Langford\x92s knock, and the room was neatness itself, but the old
carpenter was not at all what she had imagined. He was a little stooping
old man, with a shaking head, and weak red eyes under a green shade, and
did not seem to have anything to say beyond \x93Yes, sir,\x94 and \x93Thank
you, sir,\x94 when Mr. Langford shouted into his deaf ears some of
the \x93compliments of the season.\x94 Looking at the young lady, whom he
evidently mistook for Beatrice, he hoped that Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey were
quite well. His face lighted up a little for a moment when Mr. Langford
told him this was Mr. Frederick\x92s daughter, but it was only for an
instant, and in a somewhat querulous voice he asked if there was not a
young gentleman too.

\x93O yes,\x94 said Mr. Langford, \x93he shall come and see you some day.\x94

\x93He would not care to see a poor old man,\x94 said Daniels, turning a
little away, while his daughter-in-law began to apologise for him by
saying, \x93He is more lost than usual to-day, sir; I think it was getting
tired going to church, yesterday morning; he did not sleep well, and he
has been so fretful all the morning, a body did not know what to do with
him.\x94

Mr. Langford said a few more cheerful words to the poor old man, then
asked the daughter where her husband was, and, hearing that he was in
the workshop, refused offers of fetching him in, and went out to speak
to him, leaving Henrietta to sit by the fire and wait for him. A weary
waiting time she found it; shy as she was of poor people, as of a class
with whom she was utterly unacquainted, feeling bound to make herself
agreeable, but completely ignorant how to set about it, wishing to talk
to the old man, and fearing to neglect him, but finding conversation
quite impossible except with Mrs. Daniels, and not very easy with
her--she tried to recollect what storied young ladies did say to old
men, but nothing she could think of would do, or was what she could find
herself capable of saying. At last she remembered, in \x93Gertrude,\x94 the
old nurse\x92s complaint that Laura did not inquire after the rheumatism,
and she hazarded her voice in expressing a hope that Mr. Daniels did not
suffer from it. Clear as the sweet voice was, it was too tremulous (for
she was really in a fright of embarrassment) to reach the old man\x92s
ear, and his daughter-in-law took it upon her to repeat the inquiry in
a shrill sharp scream, that almost went through her ears; then while
the old man was answering something in a muttering maundering way, she
proceeded with a reply, and told a long story about his ways with the
doctor, in her Sussex dialect, almost incomprehensible to Henrietta. The
conversation dropped, until Mrs. Daniels began hoping that every one at
the Hall was quite well, and as she inquired after them one by one,
this took up a reasonable time; but then again followed a silence. Mrs.
Daniels was not a native of Knight Sutton, or she would have had more to
say about Henrietta\x92s mother; but she had never seen her before, and had
none of that interest in her that half the parish felt. Henrietta wished
there had been a baby to notice, but she saw no trace in the room of the
existence of children, and did not like to ask if there were any. She
looked at the open hearth, and said it was very comfortable, and was
told in return that it made a great draught, and smoked very much. Then
she bethought herself of admiring an elaborately worked frame sampler,
that hung against the wall; and the conversation this supplied lasted
her till, to her great joy, grandpapa made his appearance again, and
summoned her to return, as it was already growing very dark.

She thought he might have made something of an apology for the
disagreeableness of his friend; but, being used to it, and forgetting
that she was not, he did no such thing; and she was wondering that
cottage visiting could ever have been represented as so pleasant an
occupation, when he began on a far more interesting subject, asking
about her mother\x92s health, and how she thought Knight Sutton agreed with
her, saying how very glad he was to have her there again, and how like
his own daughter she had always been. He went on to tell of his first
sight of his two daughters-in-law, when, little guessing that they would
be such, he went to fetch home the little Mary Vivian, who had come from
India under the care of General St. Leger. \x93There they were,\x94 said he;
\x93I can almost see them now, as their black nurse led them in; your aunt
a brown little sturdy thing, ready to make acquaintance in a moment,
and your mamma such a fair, shrinking, fragile morsel of a child, that I
felt quite ashamed to take her among all my great scrambling boys.\x94

\x93Ah! mamma says her recollection is all in bits and scraps; she
recollects the ship, and she remembers sitting on your knee in a
carriage; but she cannot remember either the parting with Aunt Geoffrey
or the coming here.\x94

\x93I do not remember about the parting with Aunt Geoffrey; they managed
that in the nursery, I believe, but I shall never forget the boys
receiving her,--Fred and Geoffrey, I mean,--for Roger was at school. How
they admired her like some strange curiosity, and played with her like
a little girl with a new doll. There was no fear that they would be too
rough with her, for they used to touch her as if she was made of glass.
And what a turn out of old playthings there was in her service!\x94

\x93That was when she was six,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93and papa must have been
ten.\x94

\x93Yes, thereabouts, and Geoffrey a year younger. How they did pet her!
and come down to all their old baby-plays again for her sake, till I was
almost afraid that cricket and hockey would be given up and forgotten.\x94

\x93And were they?\x94

\x93No, no, trust boys for that. Little Mary came to be looker on, if she
did not sometimes play herself. She was distressed damsel, and they
knight and giant, or dragon, or I cannot tell what, though many\x92s the
time I have laughed over it. Whatever they pleased was she: never lived
creature more without will of her own.\x94

\x93Never,\x94 responded Henrietta; but that for which Mr. Langford
might commend his little Mary at seven years old, did not appear so
appropriate a subject of observation in Mrs. Frederick Langford, and by
her own daughter.

\x93Eh!\x94 said her grandfather. Then answering his mental objection in
another tone, \x93Ay, ay, no will for her own pleasure; that depends more
on you than on any one else.\x94

\x93I would do anything on earth for her!\x94 said Henrietta, feeling it from
the bottom of her heart.

\x93I am sure you would, my dear,\x94 said Mr. Langford, \x93and she deserves it.
There are few like her, and few that have gone through so much. To think
of her as she was when last she was here and to look at her now! Well,
it won\x92t do to talk of it; but I thought when I saw her face yesterday,
that I could see, as well as believe, it was all for the best for her,
as I am sure it was for us.\x94

He was interrupted just as they reached the gate by the voice of his
eldest son calling \x93Out late, sir,\x94 and looking round, Henrietta saw
what looked in the darkness like a long procession, Uncle and Aunt
Roger, and their niece, and all the boys, as far down as William, coming
to the Hall for the regular Christmas dinner-party.

Joining company, Henrietta walked with Jessie and answered her inquiries
whether she had got wet or cold in the morning; but it was in an absent
manner, for she was all the time dwelling on what her grandfather had
been saying. She was calling up in imagination the bright scenes of her
mother\x92s youth; those delightful games of which she had often heard, and
which she could place in their appropriate setting now that she knew the
scenes. She ran up to her room, where she found only Bennet, her mother
having dressed and gone down; and sitting down before the fire, and
resigning her curls to her maid, she let herself dwell on the ideas the
conversation had called up, turning from the bright to the darker side.
She pictured to herself the church, the open grave, her uncles and her
grandfather round it, the villagers taking part in their grief, the old
carpenter\x92s averted head--she thought what must have been the agony of
the moment, of laying in his untimely grave one so fondly loved, on whom
the world was just opening so brightly,--and the young wife--the
infant children--how fearful it must have been! \x93It was almost a cruel
dispensation,\x94 thought Henrietta. \x93O, how happy and bright we might have
been! What would it not have been to hold by his hand, to have his kiss,
to look for his smile! And mamma, to have had her in all her joyousness
and blitheness, with no ill health, and no cares! O, why was it not so?
And yet grandpapa said it was for the best! And in what a manner he did
say it, as if he really felt and saw, and knew the advantage of it!
To dear papa himself I know it was for the best, but for us, mamma,
grandpapa--no, I never shall understand it. They were good before; why
did they need punishment? Is this what is called saying \x91Thy will be
done?\x92 Then I shall never be able to say it, and yet I ought!\x94

\x93Your head a little higher, if you please, Miss Henrietta,\x94 said Bennet;
\x93it is that makes me so long dressing you, and your mamma has been
telling me that I must get you ready faster.\x94

Henrietta slightly raised her head for the moment, but soon let it sink
again in her musings, and when Bennet reminded her, replied, \x93I can\x92t,
Bennet, it breaks my neck.\x94 Her will was not with her mother\x92s, in a
trifling matter of which the reasonableness could not but approve itself
to her. How, then, was it likely to be bent to that of her Heavenly
Parent, in what is above reason?

The toilet was at length completed, and in time for her to be handed
in to dinner by Alexander, an honour which she owed to Beatrice having
already been secured by Frederick, who was resolved not to be again
abandoned to Jessie. Alex did not favour her with much conversation,
partly because he was thinking with perturbation of the task set him for
the evening, and partly because he was trying to hear what Queen Bee was
saying to Fred, in the midst of the clatter of knives and forks, and the
loud voice of Mr. Roger Langford, which was enough to drown most other
sounds. Some inquiries had been made about Mrs. Geoffrey Langford and
her aunt, Lady Susan St. Leger, which had led Beatrice into a great
lamentation for her mother\x92s absence, and from thence into a description
of what Lady Susan exacted from her friends. \x93Aunt Susan is a regular
fidget,\x94 said she; \x93not such a fidget as some people,\x94 with an
indication of Mrs. Langford. \x93Some people are determined to make others
comfortable in a way of their own, and that is a fidget to be regarded
with considerable respect; but Aunt Susan\x92s fidgeting takes the turn
of sacrificing the comfort of every one else to her own and her little
dog\x92s.\x94

\x93But that is very hard on Aunt Geoffrey,\x94 said Fred.

\x93Frightfully. Any one who was less selfish would have insisted on
mamma\x92s coming here, instead of which Aunt Susan only complains of her
sister and brother, and everybody else, for going out of London, when
she may be taken suddenly ill at any time. She is in such a nervous
state that Mr. Peyton cannot tell what might be the consequence,\x94 said
Beatrice, in an imitative tone, which made Fred laugh.

\x93I am sure I should leave her to take care of herself,\x94 said he.

\x93So do the whole family except ourselves; they are all worn out by
her querulousness, and are not particularly given to patience or
unselfishness either. But mamma is really fond of her, because she was
kind to her when she came home from India, and she manages to keep her
quiet better than anyone else can. She can very seldom resist mamma\x92s
cheerful voice, which drives off half her nerves at once. You cannot
think how funny it is to see how Aunt Amelia always seems to stroke the
cat the wrong way, and mamma to smooth her down the right.\x94

A lull in the conversation left these last words audible, and Mr.
Langford said, \x93What is that about stroking the cat, Queenie?\x94

\x93O you are telling it all--O don\x92t, Bee!\x94 cried Willy.

And with certain jokes about cats and bags, which seemed excessively to
discomfit Willy, who protested the cat was not in the bag at all--it
was the partridges--the conversation drifted away again from the younger
party.

As soon as dinner was over, Beatrice again disappeared, after begging
her grandmamma to allow the great Indian screen to remain as it at
present stood, spread out so as to cut off one end of the room, where
there was a door opening into the study. Behind this screen frequent
rustlings were heard, with now and then a burst of laughing or
whispering, and a sound of moving furniture, which so excited Mrs.
Langford, that, starting up, she exclaimed that she must go and see what
they were doing.

\x93We are taking great care, grandmamma,\x94 called Alexander. \x93We won\x92t hurt
it.\x94

This, by showing so far that there was something to be hurt, was so far
from reassuring her, that she would certainly have set out on a voyage
of discovery, but for Mr. Langford, who professed himself convinced that
all was right, and said he would not have the Busy Bee disturbed.

She came in to tea, bringing Alex and Willy with her--the latter, in a
marvellous state of mystery and excitement, longing to tell all himself,
and yet in great terror lest the others should tell.

As soon as the tea was despatched, the three actors departed, and
presently there was a call from behind the screen, \x93Are you ready, good
people?\x94

\x93Go it,\x94 answered Carey.

\x93Are the elders ready?\x94 said Beatrice\x92s voice.

\x93Papa, don\x92t go on talking to Uncle Geoffrey!\x94 cried Willy.

\x93Ay, ay, all attention,\x94 said grandpapa. \x93Now for it!\x94

The screen was folded back, and discovered Alex in a pasteboard crown,
ermine tippet, and purple mantle, sitting enthroned with Beatrice (a
tiara and feathers on her head) at his side, and kneeling before them
a nondescript article, consisting chiefly of a fur cloak, a fur cap,
adorned with a pair of grey squirrel cuffs, sewn ingeniously into the
form of ears, a boa by way of tail, and an immense pair of boots.
As Uncle Geoffrey said, the cat was certainly out of the bag, and it
proceeded in due form to take two real partridges from the bag, and
present them to the king and princess in the name of the Marquis
Carabbas.

The king and princess made some consultation as to who the marquis
might be, the princess proposing to send for the Peerage, and the king
cross-examining puss in an incredulous way which greatly puzzled him,
until at last he bethought himself of exclaiming, in a fierce manner,
\x93I\x92ve told you the truth, Mr. King, and if you won\x92t believe me, I can\x92t
help it!\x94 and walked off on his hind legs in as dignified and resentful
a manner as his boots would let him; repairing to the drawing-room to
have his accoutrements admired, while the screen was again spread in
preparation for Scene II.

Scene II. presented but a half-length, a shawl being hung in front, so
as to conceal certain incongruities. A great arm-chair was wheeled close
to the table, on which stood an aged black jack out of the hall, a quart
measure, and a silver tankard; while in the chair, a cushion on his
head, and a great carving-knife held like a sceptre in his hand,
reclined Alex, his bulk enlarged by at least two pillows, over which an
old, long-breasted white satin waistcoat, embroidered with silver, had
with some difficulty been brought to meet. Before him stood a little
figure in a cloth cap, set jauntily on one side, decorated with a fox\x92s
brush, and with Mrs. Frederick Langford\x92s three feathers, and a coat
bearing marvellous resemblance to Beatrice\x92s own black velvet spencer,
crossed over one shoulder by a broad blue ribbon, which Henrietta knew
full well. \x93Do thou stand for my father,\x94 began this droll little shape,
\x93and examine me in the particulars of my life.\x94

It was not badly carried out; Prince Henry, when he did not giggle,
acted beautifully; and Falstaff really did very well, though his eyes
were often directed downwards, and the curious, by standing on tiptoe,
obtained not only a view of Prince Hal\x92s pink petticoat, but of a great
Shakespeare laid open on the floor; and a very low bow on the part of
the heir apparent, when about to change places with his fat friend, was
strongly suspected of being for the purpose of turning over a leaf. It
was with great spirit that the parting appeal was given, \x93Banish fat
Jack, and banish all the world!\x94 And there was great applause when fat
Jack and Prince Hal jumped up and drew the screen forward again;
though Uncle Geoffrey and Aunt Mary were cruel enough to utter certain
historical and antiquarian doubts as to whether the Prince of Wales was
likely to wear the three feathers and ribbon of the garter in his haunts
at Eastcheap.

In the concluding scene the deputy lieutenant\x92s uniform made a great
figure, with the addition of the long-breasted waistcoat, a white scarf,
and the white cockade, adorning Alex, who, with a boot-jack under his
arm, looked as tall and as rigid as he possibly could, with a very low
bow, which was gracefully returned by a royal personage in a Scottish
bonnet, also bearing the white cockade, a tartan scarf, and the blue
ribbon. Altogether, Prince Charles Edward and the Baron of Bradwardine
stood confessed; the character was solemnly read, and the shoe pulled
off, or supposed to be, as the lower screen still remained to cut off
the view; and then the Baron indulged in a lengthy yawn and stretch,
while Prince Charlie, skipping into the midst of the audience, danced
round Mr. Langford, asking if he had guessed it.



CHAPTER X.



Beatrice had not judged amiss when she thought charade-acting an
amusement likely to take the fancy of her cousins. The great success of
her boot-jack inspired both Frederick and Henrietta with eagerness to
imitate it; and nothing was talked of but what was practicable in the
way of scenes, words, and decorations. The Sutton Leigh party were
to dine at the Hall again on Thursday, and it was resolved that there
should be a grand charade, with all the splendour that due preparation
could bestow upon it. \x93It was such an amusement to grandpapa,\x94 as
Beatrice told Henrietta, \x93and it occupied Fred so nicely,\x94 as she
said to her father; both which observations being perfectly true,
Mr. Geoffrey Langford was very willing to promote the sport, and to
tranquillise his mother respecting the disarrangement of her furniture.

But what should the word be? Every one had predilections of their
own--some for comedy, others for tragedy; some for extemporary acting,
others for Shakespeare. Beatrice, with her eye for drawing, already
grouped her dramatis personae, so as to display Henrietta\x92s picturesque
face and figure to the greatest advantage, and had designs of making her
and Fred represent Catherine and Henry Seyton, whom, as she said, she
had always believed to be exactly like them. Fred was inclined for
\x93another touch at Prince Hal,\x94 and devised numerous ways of acting
Anonymous, for the sake of \x93Anon, anon, sir.\x94 Henrietta wanted to
contrive something in which Queen Bee might appear as an actual fairy
bee, and had very pretty visions of making her a beneficent spirit in a
little fanciful opera, for which she had written three or four verses,
when Fred put an end to it be pronouncing it \x93nonsense and humbug.\x94

So passed Tuesday, without coming to any decision, and Henrietta was
beginning to fear that they would never fix at all, when on Wednesday
morning Beatrice came down in an ecstasy with the news, that by some
chance a wig of her papa\x92s was in the house, and a charade they must and
would have which would bring in the wig. \x93Come and see it,\x94 said she,
drawing her two cousins into the study after breakfast: the study being
the safest place for holding counsel on these secret subjects. \x93There
now, is it not charming? O, a law charade we must have, that is
certain!\x94

Fred and Henrietta, who had never chanced to see a barrister\x92s wig
before, were greatly diverted with its little tails, and tried it on in
turn. While Henrietta was in the midst of her laugh at the sight of
her own fair ringlets hanging out below the tight grey rolls, the door
suddenly opened, and gave entrance to its owner, fiercely exclaiming,
\x93What! nothing safe from you, you impertinent kittens?\x94

\x93O, Uncle Geoffrey, I beg your pardon!\x94 cried Henrietta, blushing
crimson.

\x93Don\x92t take it off till I have looked at you,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey.
\x93Why, you would make a capital Portia!\x94

\x93Yes, yes!\x94 cried Queen Bee, \x93that is it: Portia she shall be, and I\x92ll
be Nerissa.\x94

\x93Oh, no, Queenie, I could never be Portia!\x94 said Henrietta: \x93I am sure I
can\x92t.\x94

\x93But I have set my heart on being the \x91little scrubby lawyer\x92s clerk,\x92\x94
 said Busy Bee; \x93it is what I am just fit for; and let me see--Fred shall
be Antonio, and that will make you plead from your very heart, and you
shall have Alex for your Bassanio.\x94

\x93But the word. Do you mean to make it fit in with Falstaff and Catherine
Seyton?\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93Let me see,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93bond--bondage, jew--jeweller, juniper,--\x94

\x93Lawsuit,\x94 said Fred. \x93Ay, don\x92t you see, all the scenes would come out
of the \x91Merchant of Venice.\x92 There is \x91law\x92 when the old Jew is crying
out for his ducats, and--but halloo!\x94 and Fred stood aghast at the sight
of his uncle, whose presence they had all forgotten in their eagerness.

\x93Traitor!\x94 said Beatrice; \x93but never mind, I believe we must have let
him into the plot, for nobody else can be Shylock.\x94

\x93O, Bee,\x94 whispered Henrietta, reproachfully, \x93don\x92t tease him with our
nonsense. Think of asking him to study Shylock\x92s part, when he has all
that pile of papers on the table.\x94


\x93Jessica, my girl, Look to my house. I am right loth to go; There is
some ill a-brewing to my rest, For I did dream of money-bags to-night.\x94


Such was Uncle Geoffrey\x92s reply; his face and tone so suddenly altered
to the snarl of the old Jew, that his young companions at first started,
and then clapped their hands in delighted admiration.

\x93Do you really know it all?\x94 asked Henrietta, in a sort of respectful
awe.

\x93It won\x92t cost me much trouble to get it up,\x94 said Mr. Geoffrey
Langford; \x93Shylock\x92s growls stick in one\x92s memory better than finer
speeches.\x94

\x93Then will you really be so very kind?\x94

\x93Provided you will leave the prompter of Monday night on the table
this morning,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey, smiling in that manner which, to a
certain degree, removed any feeling of obligation, by making it seem as
if it was entirely for his own diversion. Nor could it be denied that he
did actually enjoy it.

The party took up their quarters in the study, which really was the only
place fit for consultations and rehearsals, since Fred and Alex
could not be taken to the maids\x92 workroom, and none of the downstairs
apartments could be made subject to the confusion incidental to their
preparations. Henrietta had many scruples at first about disturbing
Uncle Geoffrey, but his daughter laughed at them all; and they were soon
at an end when she perceived that he minded their chattering, spouting,
and laughing, no more than if they had been so many little sparrows
twittering on the eaves, but pursued the even tenor of his writing
uninterruptedly, even while she fitted on his head a yellow pointed cap,
which her ingenious fingers had compounded of the lining of certain ugly
old curtains.

His presence in this silent state served, too, as a protection in Mrs.
Langford\x92s periodical visitations to stir the fire; but for him, she
would assuredly have found fault, and probably Beatrice would have
come to a collision with her, which would have put an end to the whole
scheme.

It formed a considerable addition to Henrietta\x92s list of his avocations,
and really by making the utmost of everything he did for other people
during that whole week, she made the number reach even to seventy-nine
by the next Thursday morning. The most noted of these employments were
the looking over a new Act of Parliament with the county member, the
curing grandmamma\x92s old gander of a mysterious lameness, the managing
of an emigration of a whole family to New Zealand, the guessing a riddle
supposed \x93to have no answer,\x94 and the mending of some extraordinary
spring that was broken in Uncle Roger\x92s new drill. Beatrice was charmed
with the list; Aunt Mary said it was delightful to be so precious to
every one; and grandpapa, shaking his head at his son, said he was
ashamed to find that his family contained such a Jack of all trades; to
which Uncle Geoffrey replied, that it was too true that \x93all work and no
play make Jack a very dull boy.\x94

The breaking up of the frost, with a succession of sleet, snow and
rain, was much in favour of Beatrice and her plans, by taking away
all temptation from the boys to engage in out-of-door amusements; and
Antonio and Bassanio studied their parts so diligently, that Carey
was heard to observe that it might just as well be half year. They had
besides their own proper parts, to undertake those of the Princes of
Arragon and Morocco, since Queen Bee, willing to have as much of Nerissa
as possible, had determined to put their choice, and that of Bassanio,
all into the one scene belonging to \x93suit.\x94 It was one of those
occasions on which she showed little consideration, for she thus gave
Portia an immense quantity to learn in only two days; persuading herself
all the time that it was no such hard task, since the beautiful
speech about mercy Henrietta already knew by heart, and she made
no difficulties about the rest. Indeed, Beatrice thought herself
excessively amiable in doing all she could to show off her cousin\x92s
beauty and acting, whilst taking a subordinate part herself; forgetting
that humility is not shown in choosing a part, but in taking willingly
that which is assigned us.

Henrietta was rather appalled at the quantity she had to learn, as well
as at the prominent part she was to take; but she did not like to spoil
the pleasure of the rest with objections, and applied herself in good
earnest to her study. She walked about with a little Shakespeare in her
hand; she learnt while she was dressing, working, waiting; sat up late,
resisting many a summons from her mother to come to bed, and long before
daylight, was up and learning again.

The great evening had come, and the audience were thus arranged:
grandmamma took up her carpet-work, expressing many hopes to Aunt Roger
that it would be over now and out of the children\x92s heads, for they
turned the house upside down, and for her part, she thought it very like
play-acting. Aunt Roger, returning the sentiment with interest, took out
one of the little brown holland frocks, which she seemed to be always
making. Uncle Roger composed himself to sleep in the arm-chair for want
of his brother to talk to; grandpapa moved a sofa to the front for Aunt
Mary, and sat down by her, declaring that they would see something very
pretty, and hoping it would not be too hard a nut for his old wits to
crack; Jessie, and such of the boys as could not be persuaded to be
magnificos, found themselves a convenient station, and the scene opened.

It was a very short one, but it made every one laugh greatly, thanks to
Shylock\x92s excellent acting, and the chorus of boys, who greatly enjoyed
chasing him across the stage, crying, \x93The law, his ducats, and his
daughter!\x94

Then, after a short interval, appeared Portia, a silver arrow in her
hair, almost lovely enough for the real Portia; though the alarmed
expression in her glowing face was little accordant with the calm
dignified self-possession of the noble Venetian heiress. Nerissa, a
handkerchief folded squarely over her head, short petticoats, scarlet
lambswool worked into her stockings, and a black apron trimmed with
bright ribbon, made a complete little Italian waiting-maid; her quick,
pert reply to her lady\x92s first faltering speech, seemed wonderfully to
restore Portia to herself, and they got on well and with spirit through
the description of the suitors, and the choice of the two first caskets.
Portia looked excessively dignified, and Nerissa\x92s by-play was capital.
Whether it was owing to Bassanio\x92s awkwardness or her own shyness,
she did not prosper quite so well when the leaden casket was chosen;
Bassanio seemed more afraid of her than rejoiced, and looked much more
at Nerissa than at her, whilst she moved as slowly, and spoke in as
cold and measured a way, as if it had been the Prince of Morocco who had
unfortunately hit upon the right casket.

In the grand concluding scene she was, however, all that could be
wished. She really made a very pretty picture in the dark robes, the
glowing carnation of her cheek contrasting with the grey wig, beneath
which a few bright ringlets still peeped out; one little white hand
raised, and the other holding the parchment, and her eyes fixed on the
Jew, as if she either imagined herself Portia, or saw her brother in
Antonio\x92s case, for they glistened with tears, and her voice had a
tremulous pleading tone, which fairly made her grandfather and mother
both cry heartily.


\x93Take, then, thy bond; take thou thy pound of flesh!\x94


The Duke (little Willy) was in an agony, and was forcibly withheld by
Bassanio from crying \x93No, he shan\x92t!\x94 Nerissa was so absorbed as even to
have forgotten herself; Shylock could hardly keep his countenance up to
the necessary expression of malice and obduracy; even Johnny and Dick
were hanging with breathless attention on the \x93but,\x94 when suddenly there
was a general start throughout the party; the door opened; Atkins, with
a voice and face full of delight, announced \x93Master Roger,\x94 and there
entered a young man, in a pea jacket and worsted comforter.

Such confusion, such rapture as ensued! The tumultuous welcomes and
handshakings before the sailor had time to distinguish one from another,
the actors assuming their own characters, grandmamma and Mrs. Roger
Langford asking dozens of questions in a breath, and Mr. Roger Langford
fast asleep in his great arm-chair, till roused by Dick tugging at his
arm, and Willy hammering on his knee, he slowly arose, saying, \x93What,
Roger, my boy, is it you? I thought it was all their acting!\x94

\x93Ah! Miss Jessie,\x94 exclaimed Roger; \x93that is right: I have not seen such
a crop of shining curls since I have been gone. So you have not lost
your pink cheeks with pining for me. How are they all at home?\x94

\x93Here, Roger, your Aunt Mary,\x94 said his mother; and instantly there
was a subduing of the young sailor\x92s boisterous mirth, as he turned
to answer her gentle welcome. The laugh arose the next moment at the
appearance of the still half-disguised actors: Alex without Bassanio\x92s
short black cloak and slouched hat and feather, but still retaining his
burnt cork eyebrows and moustache, and wondering that Roger did not know
him; Uncle Geoffrey still in Shylock\x92s yellow cap, and Fred somewhat
grim with the Prince of Morocco\x92s complexion.

\x93How d\x92ye do, Phil?\x94 said Roger, returning his cousinly shake of the
hand with interest. \x93What! are not you Philip Carey?\x94

\x93O, Roger, Roger!\x94 cried a small figure, in whom the Italian maiden
predominated.

\x93What, Aunt Geoffrey masquerading too? How d\x92ye do, aunt?\x94

\x93Well done, Roger! That\x92s right! Go on!\x94 cried his father, laughing
heartily.

\x93Is it not my aunt? No? Is it the little Bee, then? Why you are grown as
like her! But where is Aunt Geoffrey then? Not here? That is a bore. I
thought you would have all been in port here at Christmas. And is not
this Philip? Come tell me, some of you, instead of laughing there. Are
you Fred Langford, then?\x94

\x93Right this time,\x94 said Fred, \x93so now you must shake hands with me in my
own name.\x94

\x93Very glad to do so, and see you here at last,\x94 said Roger, cordially.
\x93And now tell me, what is all this about? One would think you were
crossing the Line?\x94

\x93You shall hear what it is all about, and see too,\x94 said Mr. Langford.
\x93We must have that wicked old Jew disappointed, must not we, Willy? But
where is my little Portia? What is become of her?\x94

\x93Fled, I suspect,\x94 said her mother, \x93gone to turn into herself before
her introduction.\x94

\x93O, Roger, it was so jolly,\x94 Carey was now heard to say above the
confusion of voices. \x93Uncle Geoffrey was an old Jew, going to cut a
pound of flesh out of Fred, and Henrietta was making a speech in a
lawyer\x92s wig, and had just found such a dodge!\x94

\x93Ha! like the masks in the carnival at Rio! Ferrars and I went ashore
there, and--\x94

\x93Have you been at Sutton Leigh, Roger?\x94

\x93Have you dined?\x94

\x93Cold turkey--excellent Christmas pie, only too much pepper--a cup of
tea--no, but we will have the beef in--\x94

Further conversation was suspended by these propositions, with the
answers and thanks resulting therefrom, but in the midst grandpapa
exclaimed, \x93Ah! here she is! Here is the counsellor! Here is a new
cousin for you, Roger; here is the advocate for you when you have a
tough law-suit! Lucky for you, Master Geoffrey, that she is not a man,
or your nose would soon be put out of joint. You little rogue! How dared
you make your mother and grandfather cry their hearts out?\x94

\x93I was very glad to see you as bad as myself, sir,\x94 said Mrs. Frederick
Langford. \x93I was very much ashamed of being so foolish, but then, you
know, I could hardly ever read through that scene without crying.\x94

\x93Ah! you are a prudent mamma, and will not let her be conceited. But
to see Geoffrey, with his lips quivering, and yet frowning and looking
savage with all his might and main! Well, you are a capital set of
actors, all of you, and we must see the end of it.\x94

This was the great desire of Beatrice, and she was annoyed with
Henrietta for having thrown aside her borrowed garments, but the Fates
decreed otherwise. The Christmas pie came in, grandpapa proceeded to
carve it, and soon lost the remembrance of the charade in talking to
his eldest grandson about his travels. A sailor just returned from
four years on the South American coast, who had doubled Cape Horn, shot
condors on the Andes, caught goats at Juan Fernandez, fished for sharks
in the Atlantic, and heard parrots chatter in the Brazilian woods, could
not fail to be very entertaining, even though he cared not for the Incas
of Peru, and could tell little about the beauties of an iceberg; and
accordingly everyone was greatly entertained, except the Queen Bee, who
sat in a corner of the sofa, playing with her watch-chain, wondering
how long Roger would go on eating pie, looking at the time-piece, and
strangling the yawns induced by her inability to attract the notice of
either of her squires, whose eyes and ears were all for the newcomer.
She was not even missed; if she had been, it would have been some
consolation; but on they went, listening and laughing, as if the course
of the Euphrosyne, her quick sailing, and the adventures of her crew,
were the only subjects of interest in the world. He was only at home for
a week, but so much the worse, that would be till the end of Beatrice\x92s
own visit, and she supposed it would be nothing but Euphrosyne the whole
time.

There was at last a change: Roger had half a hundred questions to ask
about his cousins and all the neighbours.

\x93And has Philip Carey set up for himself at Allonfield? Does he get any
practice? I have a great mind to be ill; it would be such a joke to be
doctored by Master Philip!\x94

\x93Ah! to think of your taking Mr. Frederick for poor Philip,\x94 said
Jessie. \x93I assure you,\x94 nodding to Fred, \x93I take it as a great
compliment, and so will Philip.\x94

\x93And is Fanny Evans as pretty as ever?\x94

\x93Oh! grown quite fat and coarse,\x94 said Jessie; \x93but you may judge
for yourself on Monday. Dear Mrs. Langford is so kind as to give us a
regular Christmas party, and all the Evanses and Dittons are coming. And
we are to dance in the dining-room, the best place for it in the
county; the floor is so much better laid down than in the Allonfield
assembly-room.\x94

\x93No such good place for dancing as the deck of a frigate,\x94 said Roger.
\x93This time last year we had a ball on board the Euphrosyne at Rio. I
took the prettiest girl there in to supper--don\x92t be jealous, Jessie,
she had not such cheeks as yours. She was better off there than in the
next ball where I met her, in the town. She fancied she had got rather
a thick sandwich at supper: she peeped in, and what do you think she
found? A great monster of a cockroach, twice as big as any you ever
saw.\x94

\x93O, you horrid creature!\x94 cried Jessie, \x93I am sure it was your doing.
I am sure it was your doing. I am sure you will give me a scorpion, or
some dreadful creature! I won\x92t let you take me in to supper on Monday,
I declare.\x94

\x93Perhaps I won\x92t have you. I mean to have Cousin Henrietta for my
partner, if she will have me.\x94

\x93Thank you, Cousin Roger,\x94 faltered Henrietta, blushing crimson, with
the doubt whether she was saying the right thing, and fearing Jessie
might be vexed. Her confusion was increased the next moment, as Roger,
looking at her more fully than he had done before, went on, \x93Much
honoured, cousin. Now, all of you wish me joy. I am safe to have the
prettiest girl in the room for my partner. But how slow of them all
not to have engaged her before. Eh! Alex, what have you to say for
yourself?\x94

\x93I hope for Queen Bee,\x94 said Alex.

\x93And Jessie must dance with me, because I don\x92t know how,\x94 said Carey.

\x93My dears, this will never do!\x94 interposed grandmamma. \x93You can\x92t all
dance with each other, or what is to become of the company? I never
heard of such a thing. Let me see: Queen Bee must open the ball with
little Henry Hargrave, and Roger must dance with Miss Benson.\x94

\x93No, no,\x94 cried Roger, \x93I won\x92t give up my partner, ma\x92am; I am a
privileged person, just come home. Knight Sutton has not had too much of
Henrietta or me, so you must let us be company. Come, Cousin Henrietta,
stick fast to your engagement; you can\x92t break the first promise you
ever made me. Here,\x94 proceeded he, jumping up, and holding out his hand,
\x93let us begin this minute; I\x92ll show you how we waltz with the Brazilian
ladies.\x94

\x93Thank you, Cousin Roger, I cannot waltz,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93That\x92s a pity. Come, Jessie, then.\x94

If the practice of waltzing was not to be admired, there was something
which was very nice in the perfect good humour with which Jessie
answered her cousin\x92s summons, without the slightest sign of annoyance
at his evident preference of Henrietta\x92s newer face.

\x93If I can\x92t waltz, I can play for you,\x94 said Henrietta, willing not to
seem disobliging; and going to the piano, she played whilst Roger and
Jessie whirled merrily round the room, every now and then receiving
shocks against the furniture and minding them not the least in the
world, till at last, perfectly out of breath, they dropped laughing upon
the sofa.

The observations upon the wild spirits of sailors ashore then sank into
silence; Mrs. Roger Langford reproved her son for making such a racket,
as was enough to kill his Aunt Mary; with a face of real concern he
apologised from the bottom of his heart, and Aunt Mary in return assured
him that she enjoyed the sight of his merriment.

Grandmamma announced in her most decided tone that she would have no
waltzes and no polkas at her party. Roger assured her that there was no
possibility of giving a dance without them, and Jessie seconded him as
much as she ventured; but Mrs. Langford was unpersuadable, declaring
that she would have no such things in her house. Young people in her
days were contented to dance country dances; if they wanted anything
newer, they might have quadrilles, but as to these new romps, she would
not hear of them.

And here, for once in her life, Beatrice was perfectly agreed with her
grandmamma, and she came to life again, and sat forward to join in the
universal condemnation of waltzes and polkas that was going on round the
table.

With this drop of consolation to her, the party broke up, and Jessie,
as she walked home to Sutton Leigh, found great solace in determining
within herself that at any rate waltzing was not half so bad as dressing
up and play-acting, which she was sure her mamma would never approve.

Beatrice came to her aunt\x92s room, when they went upstairs, and
petitioned for a little talk, and Mrs. Frederick Langford, with kind
pity for her present motherless condition, accepted her visit, and even
allowed her to outstay Bennet, during whose operations the discussion of
the charade, and the history of the preparations and contrivances gave
subject to a very animated conversation.

Then came matters of more interest. What Beatrice seemed above all
to wish for, was to relieve herself by the expression of her intense
dislike to the ball, and all the company, very nearly without exception,
and there were few elders to whom a young damsel could talk so much
without restraint as to Aunt Mary.

The waltzing, too, how glad she was that grandmamma had forbidden it,
and here Henrietta chimed in. She had never seen waltzing before; had
only heard of it as people in their quiet homes hear and think of the
doings of the fashionable world, and in her simplicity was perfectly
shocked and amazed at Jessie, a sort of relation, practising it and
pleading for it.

\x93My dear!\x94 said Beatrice, laughing, \x93I do not know what you would do
if you were me, when there is Matilda St. Leger polka-ing away half the
days of her life.\x94

\x93Yes, but Lady Matilda is a regular fashionable young lady.\x94

\x93Ay, and so is Jessie at heart. It is the elegance, and the air, and
the society that are wanting, not the will. It is the circumstances that
make the difference, not the temper.\x94

\x93Quite true, Busy Bee,\x94 said her aunt, \x93temper may be the same in very
different circumstances.\x94

\x93But it is very curious, mamma,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93how people can be
particular in one point, and not in another. Now, Bee, I beg your
pardon, only I know you don\x92t mind it, Jessie did not approve of your
skating.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93every one has scruples of his own, and laughs at
those of other people.\x94

\x93Which I think ought to teach Busy Bees to be rather less stinging,\x94
 said Aunt Mary.

\x93But then, mamma,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93we must hold to the right scruples,
and what are they? I do not suppose that in reality Jessie is less--less
desirous of avoiding all that verges towards a want of propriety then we
are, yet she waltzes. Now we were brought up to dislike such things.\x94

\x93O, it is just according to what you are brought up to,\x94 said Beatrice.
\x93A Turkish lady despises us for showing our faces: it is just as you
think it.\x94

\x93No, that will not do,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93Something must be actually
wrong. Mamma, do say what you think.\x94

\x93I think, my dear, that woman has been mercifully endowed with an
instinct which discerns unconsciously what is becoming or not, and
whatever at the first moment jars on that sense is unbecoming in her
own individual case. The fineness of the perception may be destroyed by
education, or wilful dulling, and often on one point it may be silent,
though alive and active on others.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Henrietta, as if satisfied.

\x93And above all,\x94 said her mother, \x93it, like other gifts, grows
dangerous, it may become affectation.\x94

\x93Pruding,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93showing openly that you like it to be
observed how prudent and proper you are.\x94

\x93Whereas true delicacy would shrink from showing that it is conscious
of anything wrong,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93Wrong I do not exactly mean, but
something on the borders of it.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Aunt Mary, \x93and above all, do not let this delicacy show
itself in the carping at other people, which only exalts our own opinion
of ourselves, and very soon turns into \x91judging our neighbour.\x92\x94

\x93But there is false delicacy, aunt.\x94

\x93Yes, but it would be false kindness to enter on a fresh discussion
tonight, when you ought to be fast asleep.\x94



CHAPTER XI.



The Queen Bee, usually undisputed sovereign of Knight Sutton, found in
her cousin Roger a formidable rival. As son and heir, elder brother, and
newly arrived after five years\x92 absence, he had considerable claims to
attention, and his high spirits, sailor manners, sea stories, and bold
open temper, were in themselves such charms that it was no wonder that
Frederick and Alexander were seduced from their allegiance, and even
grandpapa was less than usual the property of his granddaughter.

This, however, she might have endured, had the sailor himself been
amenable to her power, for his glories would then have become hers, and
have afforded her further opportunities of coquetting with Fred. But
between Roger and her there was little in common: he was not, and never
had been, accessible to her influence; he regarded her, indeed, with all
the open-hearted affection of cousinly intercourse, but for the rest,
thought her much too clever for him, and far less attractive than either
Henrietta or Jessie.

If she would, Henrietta might have secured his devotion, for he was
struck with her beauty, and considered it a matter of credit to himself
to engross the prettiest person present. Had Beatrice been in her place,
it may be doubted how far love of power, and the pleasure of teasing,
might have carried her out of her natural character in the style that
suited him; but Henrietta was too simple, and her mind too full of her
own affairs even to perceive that he distinguished her. She liked
him, but she showed none of the little airs which would have seemed to
appropriate him. She was ready to be talked to, but only as she gave the
attention due to any one, nay, showing, because she felt, less eagerness
than if it had been grandpapa, Queen Bee, or Fred, a talk with the last
of whom was a pleasure now longed for, but never enjoyed. To his
stories of adventures, or accounts of manners, she lent a willing and
a delighted ear; but all common-place jokes tending to flirtation fell
flat; she either did not catch them, or did not catch at them. She might
blush and look confused, but it was uncomfortable, and not gratified
embarrassment, and if she found an answer, it was one either to change
the subject, or honestly manifest that she was not pleased.

She did not mortify Roger, who liked her all the time; and if he thought
at all, only considered her as shy or grave, and still continued to
admire her, and seek her out, whenever his former favourite, Jessie,
was not in the way to rattle with in his usual style. Jessie was full of
enjoyment, Henrietta was glad to be left to her own devices, her
mamma was still more rejoiced to see her act so properly without
self-consciousness or the necessity of interference, and the Queen Bee
ought to have been duly grateful to the one faithful vassal who was
proof against all allurements from her side and service.

She ought, but the melancholy fact is that the devotion of womankind is
usually taken as a matter of course. Beatrice would have despised and
been very angry with Henrietta had she deserted to Roger, but she did
not feel in the least grateful for her adherence, and would have been
much more proud of retaining either of the boys. There was one point on
which their attention could still be commanded, namely, the charades;
for though the world may be of opinion that they had had quite a
sufficiency of amusement, they were but the more stimulated by their
success on Thursday, and the sudden termination in the very height of
their triumph.

They would, perhaps, have favoured the public with a repetition of
Shylock\x92s trial the next evening, but that, to the great consternation,
and, perhaps, indignation of Beatrice, when she came down to breakfast
in the morning, she found their tiring-room, the study, completely
cleared of all their various goods and chattels, Portia\x92s wig in its
box, the three caskets gone back to the dressing-room, the duke\x92s throne
safe in its place in the hall, and even Shylock\x92s yellow cap picked to
pieces, and rolled up in the general hoard of things which were to
come of use in seven years\x92 time. Judith, who was putting the finishing
touches to the re-arrangement by shaking up the cushions of the great
chair, and restoring the inkstand to its place in the middle of the
table, gave in answer to her exclamations the information that \x93Missus
had been up since seven o\x92clock, helping to put away the things herself,
for she said she could not bear to have Mr. Geoffrey\x92s room not fit for
anybody to sit in.\x94 This might certainly be considered as a tolerably
broad hint that they had better discontinue their representations,
but they were arrived at that state of eagerness which may be best
illustrated by the proverb referring to a blind horse. Every one,
inclined to that same impetuosity, and want of soberness, can remember
the dismay with which hosts of such disregarded checks will recur to the
mind when too late, and the poor satisfaction of the self-justification
which truly answers that their object was not even comprehended.
Henrietta, accustomed but little to heed such indications of dissent
from her will, did not once think of her grandmamma\x92s dislike, and
Beatrice with her eyes fully open to it, wilfully despised it as a
fidgety fancy.

Henrietta had devised a series of scenes for the word assassin, and
greatly delighted the imagination of her partners by a proposal to make
a pair of asses\x92 ears of cotton velvet for the adornment of Bottom the
weaver. Fred fell back in his chair in fits of laughing at the device,
and Queen Bee capered and danced about the room, declaring her worthy to
be her own \x93primest of viziers.\x94

\x93And,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93what an exquisite interlude it will make to
relieve the various plagues of Monday evening.\x94

\x93Why you don\x92t mean to act then!\x94 exclaimed Henrietta.

\x93Why not? You don\x92t know what a relief it will be. It will be an excuse
for getting away from all the stupidity.\x94

\x93To be sure it will,\x94 cried Fred. \x93A bright thought, Mrs. Bee. We shall
have it all to ourselves in the study in comfort.\x94

\x93But would grandmamma ever let us do it?\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93I will manage,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93I will make grandpapa agree to it, and
then she will not mind. Think how he enjoyed it.\x94

\x93Before so many people!\x94 said Henrietta. \x93O, Queenie, it will never do!
It would be a regular exhibition.\x94

\x93My dear, what nonsense!\x94 said Beatrice. \x93Why, it is all among friends
and neighbours.\x94

\x93Friends and neighbours to you,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93And yours too. Fred, she is deserting! I thought you meant to adopt or
inherit all Knight Sutton and its neighbourhood could offer.\x94

\x93A choice inheritance that neighbourhood, by your account,\x94 said Fred.
\x93But come, Henrietta, you must not spoil the whole affair by such
nonsense and affectation.\x94

\x93Affectation! O, Fred!\x94

\x93Yes, to be sure it is,\x94 said Fred: \x93to set up such scruples as these.
Why, you said yourself that you forget all about the spectators when
once you get into the spirit of the thing.\x94

\x93And what is affectation,\x94 said Beatrice, seeing her advantage, \x93but
thinking what other people will think?\x94

There are few persuasions to which a girl who claims to possess some
degree of sense is more accessible, than the imputation of affectation,
especially when brought forward by a brother, and enforced by a clever
and determined friend. Such a feeling is no doubt often very useful in
preventing folly, but it may sometimes be perverted to the smothering
of wholesome scruples. Henrietta only pressed one point more, she begged
not to be Titania.

\x93O, you must, you silly child,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93I have such designs
for dressing you! Besides, I mean to be Mustardseed, and make grandpapa
laugh by my by-play at the giant Ox-beef.\x94

\x93But consider, Bee,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93how much too tall I am for
a fairy. It would be too absurd to make Titania as large as Bottom
himself--spoil the whole picture. You might surely get some little girls
to be the other fairies, and take Titania yourself.\x94

\x93Certainly it might conciliate people to have their own children made
part of the show,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93Little Anna Carey has sense enough,
I think; ay, and the two Nevilles, if they will not be shy. We will keep
you to come out in grand force in the last scene--Queen Eleanor sucking
the poison. Aunt Mary has a certain black-lace scarf that will make an
excellent Spanish mantilla. Or else suppose you are Berengaria, coming
to see King Richard when he was \x91old-man-of-the-mountains.\x92\x94

\x93No, no,\x94 cried Fred, \x93stick to the Queen Eleanor scene. We will have no
more blacking of faces. Yesterday I was too late down stairs because I
could not get the abominable stuff out of my hair.\x94

\x93And it would be a cruel stroke to be taken for Philip Carey again,
in the gentleman\x92s own presence, too,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93Monsieur is
apparemment the apothecaire de famille. Do you remember, Henrietta, the
French governess in Miss Edgworth\x92s book?\x94

\x93Jessie smiled and nodded as if she was perfectly enchanted with the
mistake,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93And I do not wonder at it,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93the mistake, I mean. Fred\x92s
white hands there have just the look of a doctor\x92s; of course Roger
thought the only use of them could be to feel pulses, and Philip, for
want of something better to do, is always trying for a genteel look.\x94

\x93You insulting creature!\x94 said Fred. \x93Just as if I tried to look
genteel.\x94

\x93You do, then, whether you try or not. You can\x92t help it, you know, and
I am very sorry for you; but you do stand and walk and hold out your
hand just as Philip is always trying to do, and it is no wonder Roger
thought he had succeeded in attaining his object.\x94

\x93But what a goose the man must be to make such absurdity his object,\x94
 said Henrietta.

\x93He could not be a Carey and be otherwise,\x94 said Busy Bee. \x93And besides,
what would you have him do? As to getting any practice, unless his kith
and kin choose to victimise themselves philanthropically according to
Roger\x92s proposal, I do not see what chance he has, where everyone knows
the extent of a Carey\x92s intellects; and what is left for the poor man to
do but to study the cut of his boots?\x94

\x93If you say much more about it, Queenie,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93you will make
Fred dance in Bottom\x92s hob-nailed shoes.\x94

\x93Ah! it is a melancholy business,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93but it cannot be
helped. Fred cannot turn into a clodhopper. But what earthquake is
this?\x94 exclaimed she, as the front door was dashed open with such
violence as to shake the house, and the next moment Alexander rushed in,
heated and almost breathless. \x93Rats! rats!\x94 was his cry; \x93Fred, that\x92s
right. But where is Uncle Geoffrey?\x94

\x93Gone to Allonfield.\x94

\x93More\x92s the pity. There are a whole host of rats in the great barn at
home. Pincher caught me one just now, and they are going to turn the
place regularly out, only I got them to wait while I came up here for
you and Uncle Geoffrey. Come, make haste, fly--like smoke--while I go
and tell grandpapa.\x94

Off flew Fred to make his preparation, and off to the drawing room
hurried Alex to call grandpapa. He was greeted by a reproof from Mrs.
Langford for shaking the house enough to bring it down, and grandpapa
laughed, thanked him, and said he hoped to be at Sutton Leigh in time
for the rat hunt, as he was engaged to drive grandmamma and Aunt Mary
thither and to the Pleasance that afternoon.

Two seconds more, and Fred and Alex were speeding away together, and the
girls went up to put on their bonnets to walk and meet their elders at
Sutton Leigh. For once Beatrice let Henrietta be as slow as she pleased,
for she was willing to let as much of the visit as possible pass
before they arrived there. They walked along, merrily concocting their
arrangements for Monday evening, until at length they came to the gates
of Sutton Leigh, and already heard the shouts of triumph, the barking of
dogs, and the cackle of terrified poultry, which proclaimed that the war
was at its height.

\x93O! the glories of a rat hunt!\x94 cried Beatrice. \x93Come, Henrietta, here
is a safe place whence to contemplate it, and really it is a sight not
to be lost.\x94

Henrietta thought not indeed when she looked over a gate leading into
the farm-yard on the side opposite to the great old barn, raised on
a multitude of stone posts, a short ladder reaching to the wide doors
which were folded back so as to display the heaps of straw thrown
violently back and forward; the dogs now standing in attitudes of
ecstatic expectation, tail straight out, head bent forward, now
springing in rapture on the prey; the boys rushing about with their
huge sticks, and coming down now and then with thundering blows, the
labourers with their white shirt sleeves and pitchforks pulling down the
straw, Uncle Roger with a portentous-looking club in the thick of the
fight. On the ladder, cheering them on, stood grandpapa, holding little
Tom in his arms, and at the bottom, armed with small sticks, were
Charlie and Arthur, consoling themselves for being turned out of the
mel\xE9e, by making quite as much noise as all those who were doing real
execution, thumping unmercifully at every unfortunate dead mouse or rat
that was thrown out, and charging fiercely at the pigs, ducks, and geese
that now and then came up to inspect proceedings, and perhaps, for such
accidents will occur in the best regulated families, to devour a share
of the prey.

Beatrice\x92s first exclamation was, \x93O! if papa was but here!\x94

\x93Nothing can go on without him, I suppose,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93And yet, is
this one of his great enjoyments?\x94

\x93My dear, don\x92t you know it is a part of the privilege of a free-born
Englishman to delight in hunting \x91rats and mice and such small beer,\x92 as
much or more than the grand chasse? I have not the smallest doubt that
all the old cavaliers were fine old farm-loving fellows, who liked a rat
hunt, and enjoyed turning out a barn with all their hearts.\x94

\x93There goes Fred!\x94 cried Henrietta.

\x93Ah! capital. He takes to it by nature, you see. There--there! O what
a scene it is! Look how beautifully the sun comes in, making that solid
sort of light on the mist of dust at the top.\x94

\x93And how beautifully it falls on grandpapa\x92s head! I think that
grandpapa with little Tom is one of the best parts of the picture, Bee.\x94

\x93To be sure he is, that noble old head of his, and that beautiful gentle
face; and to see him pointing, and soothing the child when he gets
frightened at the hubbub, and then enjoying the victories over the poor
rats as keenly as anybody!\x94

\x93Certainly,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93there is something very odd in man\x92s
nature; they can like to do such cruel-sounding things without being
cruel! Grandpapa, or Fred, or Uncle Roger, or Alex now, they are as kind
and gentle as possible: yet the delight they can take in catching and
killing--\x94

\x93That is what town-people never can understand,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93that
hunting-spirit of mankind. I hate above all things to hear it cried
down, and the nonsense that is talked about it. I only wish that those
people could have seen what I did last summer--grandpapa calling Carey,
and holding the ladder for him while he put the young birds into their
nest that had fallen out. And O the uproar that there was one day when
Dick did something cruel to a poor rabbit; it was two or three years
ago, and Alex and Carey set upon him and thrashed him so that they
were really punished for it, bad as it was of Dick; it was one of those
bursts of generous indignation.\x94

\x93It is a very curious thing,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93the soldier spirit it
must be, I suppose--\x94

\x93What are you philosophising about, young ladies?\x94 asked Mr. Langford,
coming up as Henrietta said these last words.

\x93Only about the spirit of the chase, grandpapa,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93what
the pleasure can be of the field of slaughter there.\x94

\x93Something mysterious, you may be sure, young ladies,\x94 said grandpapa.
\x93I have hunted rats once or twice a year now these seventy years or
more, and I can\x92t say I am tired yet. And there is Master Fred going
at it, for the first time in his life, as fiercely as any of us old
veterans, and he has a very good eye for a hit, I can tell you, if it is
any satisfaction to you. Ha! hoigh Vixen! hoigh Carey! that\x92s it--there
he goes!\x94

\x93Now, grandpapa,\x94 said Beatrice, catching hold of his hand, \x93I want just
to speak to you. Don\x92t you think we might have a little charade-acting
on Monday to enliven the evening a little?\x94

\x93Eh? what? More charades? Well, they are very pretty sport, only I think
they would astonish the natives here a little. Are we to have the end of
Shylock?\x94

\x93No,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93we never condescend to repeat ourselves. We have a
new word and a beauty, and don\x92t you think it will do very well?\x94

\x93I am afraid grandmamma will think you are going to take to private
theatricals.\x94

\x93Well, it won\x92t be nearly such regular acting as the last,\x94 said
Beatrice, \x93I do not think it would do to take another half-play for so
many spectators, but a scene or two mostly in dumb show would make a
very nice diversion. Only say that you consent, grandpapa.\x94

\x93Well, I don\x92t see any harm in it,\x94 said grandpapa, \x93so long as
grandmamma does not mind it. I suppose your mamma does not, Henrietta?\x94

\x93O no,\x94 said Henrietta, with a certain mental reservation that she would
make her not mind it, or at any rate not gainsay it. Fred\x92s calling her
affected was enough to make her consent, and bring her mamma to consent
to anything; for so little is it really the nature of woman to exercise
power, that if she domineers, it is sure to be compensated by some
subjection in some other manner: and if Henrietta ruled her mother, she
was completely under the dominion of Fred and Beatrice. Themistocles\x92
wife might rule Athens, but she was governed by her son.

After this conversation they went in, and found Aunt Roger very busy,
recommending servants to Aunt Mary, and grandmamma enforcing all she
said. The visit soon came to an end, and they went on to the Pleasance,
where the inspection did not prove quite as agreeable as on the
first occasion; for grandmamma and Beatrice had very different views
respecting the appropriation of the rooms, and poor Mrs. Frederick
Langford was harassed and wearied by her vain attempts to accede to the
wishes of both, and vex neither. Grandmamma was determined too to look
over every corner, and discuss every room, and Henrietta, in despair
at the fatigue her mother was obliged to go through, kept on seeking in
vain for a seat for her, and having at last discovered a broken-backed
kitchen chair in some of the regions below, kept diligently carrying
it after her in all her peregrinations. She was constantly wishing that
Uncle Geoffrey would come, but in vain; and between the long talking at
Sutton Leigh, the wandering about the house, and the many discussions,
her mamma was completely tired out, and obliged, when they came home,
to confess that she had a headache. Henrietta fairly wished her safe at
Rocksand.

While Henrietta was attending her mother to her own room, and persuading
her to lay up for the evening, Beatrice, whose head was full of but one
matter, pursued Mrs. Langford into the study, and propounded her grand
object. As she fully expected, she met with a flat refusal, and sitting
down in her arm-chair, Mrs. Langford very earnestly began with \x93Now
listen to me, my dear child,\x94 and proceeded with a long story of
certain private theatricals some forty years ago, which to her certain
knowledge, ended in a young lady eloping with a music master. Beatrice
set to work to argue: in the first place it was not probable that either
she or Henrietta would run away with their cousins; secondly, that the
former elopement was not chargeable on poor Shakespeare; thirdly, that
these were not private theatricals at all.

\x93And pray what are they, then--when you dress yourselves up, and speak
the speeches out as boldly as Mrs. Siddons, or any of them?\x94

\x93You pay us a great compliment,\x94 said Beatrice, who could sometimes
be pert when alone with grandmamma; and she then went on with her
explanation of how very far this was from anything that could be called
theatrical; it was the guessing the word, not their acting, that was
the important point. The distinction was too fine for grandmamma; it
was play-acting, and that was enough for her, and she would not have it
done.

\x93But grandpapa liked it, and had given full consent.\x94 This was a
powerful piece of ordnance which Beatrice had kept in reserve, but at
the first moment the shot did not tell.

\x93Ladies were the best judges in such a case as this,\x94 said Mrs.
Langford, \x93and let who would consent, she would never have her
granddaughters standing up, speaking speeches out of Shakespeare, before
a whole room full of company.\x94

\x93Well, then, grandmamma, I\x92ll tell you what: to oblige you, we will not
have one single scene out of Shakespeare--not one. Won\x92t that do?\x94

\x93You will go to some other play-book, and that is worse,\x94 said Mrs.
Langford.

\x93No, no, we will not: we will do every bit out of our own heads, and it
shall be almost all Fred and Alex; Henrietta and I will scarcely come
in at all. And it will so shorten the evening, and amuse every one so
nicely! and grandpapa has said we may.\x94

Mrs. Langford gave a sort of sigh. \x93Ah, well! you always will have your
own way, and I suppose you must; but I never thought to see such things
in my house. In my day, young people thought no more of a scheme when
their elders had once said, \x91No.\x92\x94

\x93Yes, only you must not say so, grandmamma. I am sure we would give it
up if you did; but pray do not--we will manage very well.\x94

\x93And put the whole house in a mess, as you did last time; turn
everything upside down. I tell you, Beatrice, I can\x92t have it done. I
shall want the study to put out the supper in.\x94

\x93We can dress in our own rooms, then,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93never mind that.\x94

\x93Well, then, if you will make merry-andrews of yourselves, and your
fathers and mothers like to let you, I can\x92t help it--that\x92s all I have
to say,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, walking out of the room; while Fred entered
from the other side a moment after. \x93Victory, victory, my dear Fred!\x94
 cried Beatrice, darting to meet him in an ecstasy. \x93I have prevailed:
you find me in the hour of victory. The Assassin for ever! announced for
Monday night, before a select audience!\x94

\x93Well, you are an irresistible Queen Bee,\x94 said Fred; \x93why Alex has just
been telling me ever so much that his mother told him about grandmamma\x92s
dislike to it. I thought the whole concern a gone \x91coon, as they say in
America.\x94

\x93I got grandpapa first,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93and then I persuaded her;
she told me it would lead to all sorts of mischief, and gave me a long
lecture which had nothing to do with it. But I found out at last
that the chief points which alarmed her were poor Shakespeare and the
confusion in the study; so by giving up those two I gained everything.\x94

\x93You don\x92t mean that you gave up bully Bottom?\x94

\x93Yes, I do; but you need not resign your asses\x92 ears. You shall wear
them in the character of King Midas.\x94

\x93I think,\x94 said the ungrateful Fred, \x93that you might as well have given
it all up together as Bottom.\x94

\x93No, no; just think what capabilities there are in Midas. We will
decidedly make him King of California, and I\x92ll be the priestess of
Apollo; there is an old three-legged epergne-stand that will make a most
excellent tripod. And only think of the whispering into the reeds, \x91King
Midas has the ears of an ass.\x92 I would have made more of a fight for
Bottom, if that had not come into my head.\x94

\x93But you will have nothing to do.\x94

\x93That helped to conciliate. I promised we girls should appear very
little, and for the sake of effect, I had rather Henrietta broke on the
world in all her beauty at the end. I do look forward to seeing her as
Queen Eleanor; she will look so regal.\x94

Fred smiled, for he delighted in his sister\x92s praises. \x93You are a
wondrous damsel, busy one,\x94 said he, \x93to be content to play second
fiddle.\x94

\x93Second fiddle! As if I were not the great moving spring! Trust me, you
would never write yourself down an ass but for the Queen Bee. How shall
we ever get your ears from Allonfield? Saturday night, and only till
Monday evening to do everything in!\x94

\x93Oh, you will do it,\x94 said Fred. \x93I wonder what you and Henrietta cannot
do between you! Oh, there is Uncle Geoffrey come in,\x94 he exclaimed, as
he heard the front door open.

\x93And I must go and dress,\x94 said Beatrice, seized with a sudden haste,
which did not speak well for the state of her conscience.

Uncle Geoffrey was in the hall, taking off his mud-bespattered gaiters.
\x93So you are entered with the vermin, Fred,\x94 called he, as the two came
out of the drawing-room.

\x93O how we wished for you, Uncle Geoffrey! but how did you hear it?\x94

\x93I met Alex just now. Capital sport you must have had. Are you only just
come in?\x94

\x93No, we were having a consultation about the charades,\x94 said Fred; \x93the
higher powers consent to our having them on Monday.\x94

\x93Grandmamma approving?\x94 asked Uncle Geoffrey.

\x93O yes,\x94 said Fred, in all honesty, \x93she only objected to our taking a
regular scene in a play, and \x91coming it as strong\x92 as we did the other
night; so it is to be all extemporary, and it will do famously.\x94

Beatrice, who had been waiting in the dark at the top of the stairs,
listening, was infinitely rejoiced that her project had been explained
so plausibly, and yet in such perfect good faith, and she flew off to
dress in high spirits. Had she mentioned it to her father, he would
have doubted, taken it as her scheme, and perhaps put a stop to it: but
hearing of it from Frederick, whose pleasures were so often thwarted,
was likely to make him far more unwilling to object. For its own sake,
she knew he had no objection to the sport; it was only for that of his
mother; and since he had heard of her as consenting, all was right. No,
could Beatrice actually say so to her own secret soul?

She could not; but she could smother the still small voice that checked
her, in a multitude of plans, and projects, and criticisms, and airy
castles, and, above all, the pleasure of triumph and dominion, and the
resolution not to yield, and the delight of leading.



CHAPTER XII.



\x93Our hearts and all our members, being mortified from all worldly
and carnal lusts:\x94 so speaks the collect with which we begin the new
year--such the prayer to which the lips of the young Langfords said,
\x93Amen:\x94 but what was its application to them? What did they do with the
wicked world in their own guarded homes? There was Uncle Geoffrey, he
was in the world. It might be for him to pray for that spirit which
enabled him to pass unscathed through the perils of his profession,
neither tempted to grasp at the honours nor the wealth which lay in his
way, unhardened and unsoured by the contact of the sin and selfishness
on every side. This might indeed be the world. There was Jessie Carey,
with her love of dress, and admiration, and pleasure; she should surely
pray that she might live less to the vanities of the world; there were
others, whose worn countenances spoke of hearts devoted to the cares of
the world; but to those fair, fresh, happy young things, early taught
how to prize vain pomp and glory, their minds as yet free from anxiety,
looking from a safe distance on the busy field of trial and temptation;
were not they truly kept from that world which they had renounced?

Alas! that they did not lay to heart that the world is everywhere; that
if education had placed them above being tempted by the poorer, cheaper,
and more ordinary attractions, yet allurements there were for them also.
A pleasure pursued with headlong vehemence because it was of their own
devising, love of rule, the spirit of rivalry, the want of submission;
these were of the world. Other temptations had not yet reached them, but
if they gave way to those which assailed them in their early youth, how
could they expect to have strength to bear up against the darker and
stronger ones which would meet their riper years?

Even before daylight had fully found its way into Knight Sutton Hall,
there was many a note of preparation, and none clearer or louder than
those of the charade actors. Beatrice was up long before light, in the
midst of her preparations, and it was not long after, as, lamp in hand,
she whisked through the passages, Frederick\x92s voice was heard demanding
whether the Busy Bee had turned into a firefly, and if the paste was
made wherewith Midas was to have his crown stuck with gold paper.
Zealous indeed were the workers, and heartily did old Judith wish
them anywhere else, as she drove them, their lamps, their paste, and
newspaper, from one corner of the study to the other, and at last fairly
out into the hall, threatening them with what Missus would say to them.
At last grandmamma came down with a party of neat little notes in her
hand, to be immediately sent off by Martin and the cart to Allonfield,
and Martin came to the door leading to the kitchen regions to receive
his directions.

\x93O how lucky!\x94 cried Queen Bee, springing up. \x93The cotton velvet for the
ears! I\x92ll write a note in a second!\x94 Then she paused. \x93But I can\x92t do
it without Henrietta, I don\x92t know how much she wants. Half a yard
must do, I suppose; but then, how to describe it? Half a yard of
donkey-coloured velvet! It will never do; I must see Henrietta first!\x94

\x93Have not you heard her bell?\x94 said Fred.

\x93No, shall I go and knock at the door? She must be up by this time.\x94

\x93You had better ask Bennet,\x94 said Fred; \x93she sometimes gets up quietly,
and dresses herself without Bennet, if mamma is asleep, because it gives
her a palpitation to be disturbed in the morning.\x94

Bennet was shouted for, and proved not to have been into her mistress\x92s
room. The charade mania was not strong enough to make them venture upon
disturbing Mrs. Frederick Langford, and to their great vexation, Martin
departed bearing no commission for the asinine decorations.

About half an hour after, Henrietta made her appearance, as sorry as
any one that the opportunity had been lost, more especially as mamma had
been broad awake all the time, and the only reason she had not rung the
bell was, that she was not ready for Bennet.

As usual, she was called an incorrigible dawdle, and made humble
confession of the same, offering to do all in her power to make up for
the morning\x92s laziness. But what would Midas be without his ears?

The best plan that Queen Bee could devise, was, that, whilst Henrietta
was engaged with the other preparations, she should walk to Sutton Leigh
with Frederick, to despatch Alexander to Allonfield. No sooner said than
done, and off they set, but neither was this plan fated to meet with
success, for just as they came in sight of Sutton Leigh, they were
hailed by the loud hearty voice of Roger, and beheld him at the head of
four brothers, marching off to pay his respects to his Aunt Carey, some
three miles off. Alex came to hold council at Queen Bee\x92s summons, but
he could do nothing for her, for he had that morning been taken to
task for not having made a visit to Mrs. Carey, since he came home, and
especially ordered off to call upon her, before meeting her at the party
that evening.

\x93How abominably provoking!\x94 cried Beatrice; \x93just as if it signified. If
I had but a fairy!\x94

\x93Carey!\x94 called Alex, \x93here! Bee wants to send over to Allonfield: won\x92t
you take Dumple and go?\x94

\x93Not I,\x94 responded Carey; \x93I want to walk with Roger. But there\x92s
Dumple, let her go herself.\x94

\x93What, ride him?\x94 asked Beatrice, \x93thank you, Carey.\x94

\x93Fred might drive you,\x94 said Carey; \x93O no, poor fellow, I suppose he
does not know how.\x94

Fred coloured with anger. \x93I do,\x94 said he; \x93I have often driven our own
horses.\x94

\x93Ay,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93with the coachman sitting by you, and Aunt Mary
little guessing what you were doing.\x94

\x93I assure you, Queen,\x94 said Fred, very earnestly, \x93I do really know how
to drive, and if we may have the gig, and you will trust yourself with
me, I will bring you home quite safe.\x94

\x93I know you can have the gig,\x94 said Carey, \x93for papa offered it to Roger
and Alex this morning; only we chose all to walk together. To think of
doubting whether to drive old Dumple!\x94

\x93I don\x92t question,\x94 said Fred; \x93I only want to know if Busy Bee will go.
I won\x92t break your neck, I promise you.\x94

Beatrice was slightly mistrustful, and had some doubts about Aunt
Mary, but poor Alex did much to decide her, though intending quite the
reverse.

\x93I don\x92t advise you, Bee,\x94 said he.

\x93O, as to that,\x94 said she, pleased to see that he disliked the plan, \x93I
have great faith in Dumple\x92s experience, and I can sit tight in a chay,
as the boy said to grandpapa when he asked him if he could ride. My
chief doubt is about Aunt Mary.\x94

Fred\x92s successful disobedience in the matter of skating had decidedly
made him less scrupulous about showing open disregard of his mother\x92s
desires, and he answered in a certain superior patronizing manner, \x93O,
you know I only give way sometimes, because she does make herself so
intensely miserable about me; but as she will be spared all that now, by
knowing nothing about it, I don\x92t think it need be considered.\x94

Beatrice recollected what her father had said, but eluded it the next
moment, by replying to herself, that no commands had been given in this
case.

Alex stood fumbling with the button of his great coat, looking much
annoyed, and saying nothing; Roger called out to him that they could not
wait all day, and he exerted himself to take Beatrice by the arm, and
say, \x93Bee, I wish you would not, I am sure there will be a blow up about
it at home.\x94

\x93O, you think nobody can or may drive me but yourself, Master Alex,\x94
 said Beatrice, laughing. \x93No, no, I know very well that nobody will care
when it is done, and there are no commands one way or the other. I love
my own neck, I assure you, Alex, and will not get that into a scrape.
Come, if that will put you into a better humour, I\x92ll dance with you
first to-night.\x94 Alex turned away, muttering, \x93I don\x92t like it--I\x92d go
myself, but--Well, I shall speak to Fred.\x94

Beatrice smiled with triumph at the jealousy which she thought she had
excited, and watched to see the effect of the remonstrance.

\x93You are sure now,\x94 said he, \x93that you can drive safely? Remember it
would be a tolerable piece of work if you were to damage that little
Bee.\x94

This eloquent expostulation might have had some weight, if it had come
from any one else; but Fred was too much annoyed at the superiority of
his rival to listen with any patience, and he replied rather sullenly,
that he could take as good care of her as Alex himself, and he only
wished that their own horses were come from Rocksand.

\x93Well, I have no more to say,\x94 said Alex, \x93only please to mind this,
Langford junior, you may do just as you please with our horse, drive him
to Jericho for what I care. It was for your own sake and Beatrice\x92s that
I spoke.\x94

\x93Much obliged, Langford senior,\x94 replied Fred, making himself as tall as
he could, and turning round to Carey with a very different tone, \x93Now,
Carey, we won\x92t stop you any longer, if you\x92ll only just be so good as
to tell your man to get out the gig.\x94

Carey did so, and Beatrice and Frederick were left alone, but not long,
for Uncle Roger presently came into the yard with Willy and Arthur
running after him. To take possession of his horse and carriage, in
his very sight, without permission, was quite impossible, and, besides,
Beatrice knew full well that her dexterity could obtain a sanction from
him which might be made to parry all blame. So tripping up to him, she
explained in a droll manner the distress in which the charade actors
stood, and how the boys had said that they might have Dumple to drive
to Allonfield. Good natured Uncle Roger, who did not see why Fred should
not drive as well as Alex or any of his other boys, knew little or
nothing of his sister-in-law\x92s fears, and would, perhaps, have taken
Fred\x92s side of the question if he had, did exactly as she intended,
declared them perfectly welcome to the use of Dumple, and sent Willy
into the house for the driving whip. Thus authorized, Beatrice did
not fear even her father, who was not likely to allow in words what a
nonentity the authority of Uncle Roger might really be esteemed.

Willy came back with a shilling in his hand, and an entreaty that he
might go with Queen Bee and Fred to buy a cannon for the little ships,
of which Roger\x92s return always produced a whole fleet at Sutton Leigh.
His cousins were in a triumphant temper of good nature, and willingly
consenting, he was perched between them, but for one moment Beatrice\x92s
complacency was diminished as Uncle Roger called out, \x93Ha! Fred take
care! What are you doing?--you\x92ll be against the gate-post--don\x92t bring
his head so short round. If you don\x92t take more care, you\x92ll certainly
come to a smash before you get home.\x94

If honour and credit had not been concerned, both Beatrice and Frederick
would probably have been much better satisfied to have given up their
bold design after this debut, but they were far too much bent on their
own way to yield, and Fred\x92s pride would never have allowed him to
acknowledge that he felt himself unequal to the task he had so rashly
undertaken. Uncle Roger, believing it to be only carelessness instead of
ignorance, and too much used to dangerous undertakings of his own boys
to have many anxieties on their account, let them go on without further
question, and turned off to visit his young wheat without the smallest
uneasiness respecting the smash he had predicted, as he had done, by way
of warning, at least twenty times before.

Busy Bee was in that stage of girlhood which is very sensible on some
points, in the midst of great folly upon others, and she was quite wise
enough to let Fred alone, to give full attention to his driving all the
way to Allonfield. Dumple knew perfectly well what was required of him,
and went on at a very steady well-behaved pace, up the hill, across the
common, and into the town, where, leaving him at the inn, they walked
into the street, and Beatrice, after an infinity of searching, succeeded
in obtaining certain grey cotton velvet, which, though Fred asserted
that donkeys had a tinge of lilac, was certainly not unfit to represent
their colour. As Fred\x92s finances were in a much more flourishing state
since New Year\x92s day, he proceeded to delight the very heart of Willy
by a present of a pair of little brass cannon, on which his longing eyes
had often before been fixed, and they then returned to the carriage, in
some dismay on perceiving that it was nearly one o\x92clock.

\x93We must go straight home,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93or this velvet will be of no
use. There is no time to drive to Sutton Leigh and walk from thence.\x94

Unfortunately, however, there was an influential personage who was by no
means willing to consent to this arrangement, namely, Dumple, who,
well aware that an inexperienced hand held the reins, was privately
determined that his nose should not be turned away from the shortest
road to his own stable.

As soon, therefore, as he came to the turning towards Sutton Leigh, he
made a decided dash in that direction. Fred pulled him sharply, and a
little nervously; the horse resisted; Fred gave him a cut with the
whip, but Dumple felt that he had the advantage, and replying with a
demonstration of kicking, suddenly whisked round the corner, and set
off over the rough jolting road at a pace very like running away. Fred
pulled hard, but the horse went the faster. He stood up. \x93Sit still,\x94
 cried Beatrice, now speaking for the first time, \x93the gate will stop
him;\x94 but ere the words were uttered, Frederick, whether by a movement
of his own, or the rapid motion of the carriage, she knew not, was
thrown violently to the ground; and as she was whirled on, she saw him
no more. Instinct, rather than presence of mind, made her hold fast to
the carriage with one hand, and throw the other arm round little Willy,
to prevent him from being thrown out, as they were shaken from side to
side by the ruts and stones over which they were jolted. A few minutes
more, and their way was barred by a gate--that which she had spoken
of--the horse, used to stopping there, slackened his pace, and stood
still, looking over it as if nothing had happened.

Trembling in every limb, Beatrice stood safely on the ground, and Willy
beside her. Without speaking, she hurried back to seek for Fred, her
steps swifter than they had ever before been, though to herself it
seemed as if her feet were of lead, and the very throbbing of her heart
dragged her back. In every bush she fancied she saw Fred coming to meet
her, but it was only for a moment, and at length she saw him but
too plainly. He was stretched at full length on the ground,
senseless--motionless. She sank rather than knelt down beside him, and
called him; but not a token was there that he heard her. She lifted
his hand, it fell powerless, and clasping her own, she sat in an almost
unconscious state of horror, till roused by little Willy, who asked in a
terrified breathless whisper,

\x93Bee, is he dead?\x94

\x93No, no, no,\x94 cried she, as if she could frighten away her own fears;
\x93he is only stunned. He is--he must be alive. He will come to him-self!
Help me to lift him up--here--that is it--his head on my lap--\x94

\x93O, the blood!\x94 said Willy, recoiling in increased fear, as he saw it
streaming from one or two cuts and bruises on the side of the face.

\x93That is not the worst,\x94 said Beatrice. \x93There--hold him toward the
wind.\x94 She raised his head, untied his handkerchief, and hung over him;
but there was not a sound, not a breath; his head sank a dead weight
on her knee. She locked her hands together, and gazed wildly round for
help; but no one all over the wide lonely common could be seen, except
Willy, who stood helplessly looking at her.

\x93Aunt Mary! O, Aunt Mary!\x94 cried she, in a tone of the bitterest anguish
of mind. \x93Fred--dear, dear Freddy, open your eyes, answer me! Oh, only
speak to me! O what shall I do?\x94

\x93Pray to God,\x94 whispered Willy.

\x93You--you--Willy; I can\x92t--it was my doing. O, Aunt Mary!\x94 A few moments
passed in silence, then she exclaimed, \x93What are we doing here?
Willy, you must go and call them. The Hall is nearest; go through the
plantation as fast as you can. Go to papa in the study; if he is not
there, find grandpapa--any one but Aunt Mary. Mind, Willy, don\x92t let her
hear it, it would kill her. Go, fly! You understand--any one but Aunt
Mary.\x94

Greatly relieved at being sent out of sight of that senseless form,
Willy required no second bidding, but rushed off at a pace which bade
fare to bring him to the Hall in a very brief space. Infinite were the
ramifications of thought that now began to chase each other over the
surface of her mind, as she sat supporting her cousin\x92s head, all clear
and distinct, yet all overshadowed by that agony of suspense which
made her sit as if she was all eye and ear, watching for the slightest
motion, the faintest sound, that hope might seize as a sign of life. She
wiped away the blood which was streaming from the cuts in the face, and
softly laid her trembling hand to seek for some trace of a blow amid the
fair shining hair; she felt the pulse, but she could not satisfy herself
whether it beat or not; she rubbed the cold hand between both her own,
and again and again started with the hope that the long black eyelashes
were being lifted from the white cheek, or that she saw a quivering of
lip or nostril. All this while her thoughts were straying miles away,
and yet so wondrously and painfully present. As she thought of her Uncle
Frederick, and, as it were, realized his death, which had happened so
nearly in this same manner, she experienced a sort of heart-sinking
which would almost make her believe in a fate on the family. And that
Fred should be cut off in the midst of an act of disobedience, and she
the cause! O thought beyond endurance! She tried to pray for him, for
herself, for her aunt, but no prayer would come; and suddenly she found
her mind pursuing Willy, following him through all the gates and gaps,
entering the garden, opening the study door, seeing her father\x92s sudden
start, hearing poor Henrietta\x92s cry, devising how it would be broken to
her aunt; and again, the misery of recollecting her overpowered her,
and she gave a groan, the very sound of which thrilled her with the hope
that Fred was reviving, and made her, if possible, watch with double
intenseness, and then utter a desponding sigh. She wished it was she who
lay there, unconscious of such exceeding wretchedness, and, strange
to say, her imagination began to devise all that would be said were it
really so; what all her acquaintance would say of the little Queen Bee,
how soon Matilda St. Leger would forget her, how long Henrietta would
cherish the thought of her, how deeply and silently Alex would grieve.
\x93He would be a son to papa,\x94 she thought; but then came a picture of her
home, her father and mother without their only one, and tears came into
her eyes, which she brushed away, almost smiling at the absurdity of
crying for her own imagined death, instead of weeping over this but too
positive and present distress.

There was nothing to interrupt her; Fred lay as lifeless as before,
and not a creature passed along the lonely road. The frosty air was
perfectly still, and through it sounded the barking of dogs, the tinkle
of the sheep-bell, the woodsman\x92s axe in the plantations, and now and
then the rattle of Dumple\x92s harness, as she shook his head or shifted
his feet at the gate where he had been left standing. The rooks wheeled
above her head in a clear blue sky, the little birds answering each
other from the high furze-bushes, and the pee-wits came careering near
her with their broad wings, floating movement, and long melancholy note
like lamentation.

At length, far away, there sounded on the hard turnpike road a horse\x92s
tread, coming nearer and nearer. Help was at hand! Be it who it
might, some human sympathy would be with her, and that most oppressive
solitude, which seemed to have lasted for years instead of minutes,
would be relieved. In almost an agony of nervousness lest the newcomer
might pass by, she gently laid her cousin\x92s head on the grass, and flew
rather than ran towards the opening of the lane. She was too late, the
horseman had passed, but she recognised the shining hat, the form of the
shoulders, and with a scream almost wild in its energy, called \x93Philip!
O, Philip Carey!\x94

Joy, joy! he looked back, he turned his horse, and came up in amazement
at finding her there, and asking questions which she could only answer
by leading the way down the lane.

In another moment he was off his horse, and she could almost have adored
him when she heard him pronounce that Frederick lived.

A few moments passed whilst he was handling his patient, and asking
questions, when Beatrice beheld some figures advancing from the
plantation. She dashed through the heath and furze to meet them, sending
her voice before her with the good news, \x93He is alive! Philip Carey says
he is alive!\x94 and with these words she stood before her father and her
Aunt Mary.

Her aunt seemed neither to see nor hear her; but with a face as white
and still as a marble figure, hastened on. Mr. Geoffrey Langford stopped
for an instant and looked at her with an expression such as she never
could forget. \x93Beatrice, my child!\x94 he exclaimed, \x93you are hurt!\x94

\x93No, no, papa,\x94 she cried. \x93It is Fred\x92s blood--I am quite, quite safe!\x94

He held her in his arms, pressed her close to him, and kissed her brow,
with a whispered exclamation of fervent thankfulness. Beatrice could
never remember that moment without tears; the tone, the look, the
embrace,--all had revealed to her the fervour of her father\x92s affection,
beyond--far beyond all that she had ever imagined. It was but for one
instant that he gave way; the next, he was hastening on, and stood
beside Frederick as soon as his sister-in-law.



CHAPTER XIII.



The drawing-room at Knight Sutton Hall was in that state of bustle
incidental to the expectation of company, which was sure to prevail
wherever Mrs. Langford reigned. She walked about, removing the covers
from chairs and ottomans, shaking out curtains, adjusting china, and
appealing to Mrs. Frederick Langford in various matters of taste, though
never allowing her to move to assist her. Henrietta, however, often
came to her help, and was certainly acting in a way to incur the severe
displeasure of the absent queen, by laying aside Midas\x92s robes to assist
in the arrangements. \x93That picture is crooked, I am sure!\x94 said Mrs.
Langford; and of course she was not satisfied till she had summoned
Geoffrey from the study to give his opinion, and had made him mount upon
a chair to settle its position. In the midst of the operation, in walked
Uncle Roger. \x93Hollo! Geoffrey, what are you up to now? So, ma\x92am, you
are making yourself smart to-day. Where is my father?\x94

\x93He has ridden over to see the South Farm,\x94 said Mrs. Langford.

\x93Oho! got out of the way of the beautifying,--I understand.\x94

\x93Have you seen anything of Fred and Busy Bee?\x94 asked Mrs. Frederick
Langford. \x93They went out directly after breakfast to walk to Sutton
Leigh, and I have not seen them since.\x94

\x93O yes,\x94 said Mr. Roger Langford, \x93I can tell you what has become of
them; they are gone to Allonfield. I have just seen them off in the gig,
and Will with them, after some of their acting affairs.\x94

Good, easy man; he little thought what a thunder-clap was this
intelligence. Uncle Geoffrey turned round on his elevation to look him
full in the face; every shade of colour left the countenance of Mrs.
Frederick Langford; Henrietta let her work fall, and looked up in
dismay.

\x93You don\x92t mean that Fred was driving?\x94 said her mother.

\x93Yes, I do! Why my boys can drive long before they are that age,--surely
he knows how!\x94

\x93O, Roger, what have you done!\x94 said she faintly, as if the exclamation
would break from her in spite of herself.

\x93Indeed, mamma,\x94 said Henrietta, alarmed at her paleness, \x93I assure
you Fred has often told me how he has driven our own horses when he was
sitting up by Dawson.\x94

\x93Ay, ay, Mary,\x94 said Uncle Roger, \x93never fear. Depend upon it, boys
do many and many a thing that mammas never guess at, and come out with
whole bones after all.\x94

Henrietta, meantime, was attentively watching Uncle Geoffrey\x92s face, in
hopes of discovering what he thought of the danger; but she could learn
nothing, for he kept his features as composed as possible.

\x93I do believe those children are gone crazy about their acting,\x94 said
Mrs. Langford; \x93and how Mr. Langford can encourage them in it I cannot
think. So silly of Bee to go off in this way, when she might just as
well have sent by Martin!\x94 And her head being pretty much engrossed with
her present occupation, she went out to obey a summons from the kitchen,
without much perception of the consternation that prevailed in the
drawing-room.

\x93Did you know they were going, Henrietta?\x94 asked Uncle Geoffrey, rather
sternly.

\x93No! I thought they meant to sent Alex. But O! uncle, do you think there
is any danger?\x94 exclaimed she, losing self-control in the infection of
fear caught from the mute terror which she saw her mother struggling
to overcome. Her mother\x92s inquiring, imploring glance followed her
question.

\x93Foolish children!\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey, \x93I am very much vexed with the
Bee for her wilfulness about this scheme, but as for the rest, there is
hardly a steadier animal than old Dumple, and he is pretty well used to
young hands.\x94

Henrietta thought him quite satisfied, and even her mother was in some
degrees tranquillized, and would have been more so, had not Mr. Roger
Langford begun to reason with her in the following style:--\x93Come, Mary,
you need not be in the least alarmed. It is quite nonsense in you.
You know a boy of any spirit will always be doing things that sound
imprudent. I would not give a farthing for Fred if he was always to be
the mamma\x92s boy you would make him. He is come to an age now when you
cannot keep him up in that way, and he must get knocked about some time
or other.\x94

\x93O yes, I know I am very foolish,\x94 said she, trying to smile.

\x93I shall send up Elizabeth to talk to you,\x94 said Uncle Roger. \x93She would
have a pretty life of it if she went into such a state as you do on all
such occasions.\x94

\x93Enough to break the heart of ten horses, as they say in Ireland,\x94 said
Uncle Geoffrey, seeing that the best chance for her was to appear at
his ease, and divert his brother\x92s attention. \x93And by the by, Roger, you
never told me if you heard any more of your poor Irish haymakers.\x94

\x93Why, Geoffrey, you have an absent fit now for once in your life,\x94 said
his brother. \x93Are you the man to ask if I heard any more of them, when
you yourself gave me a sovereign to send them in the famine?\x94

Uncle Geoffrey, however, persevered, and finally succeeded in starting
Uncle Roger upon his favourite and inexhaustible subject of the doings
at the Allonfield Union. During this time Mrs. Frederick Langford put a
few stitches into her work, found it would not do, and paused, stood
up, seemed to be observing the new arrangement in the room,--then took
a long look out at the window, and at last left the room. Henrietta ran
after her to assure her that she was convinced that Uncle Geoffrey was
not alarmed, and to beg her to set her mind at rest. \x93Thank you, my
dear,\x94 said she. \x93I--no, really--you know how foolish I am, my dear,
and I think I had rather be alone. Don\x92t stay here and frighten yourself
too; this is only my usual fright, and it will be better if I am left
alone. Go down, my dear, think about something else, and let me know
when they come home.\x94

With considerable reluctance Henrietta was obliged to obey, and
descended to the drawing-room, where the first words that met her ears
were from Uncle Roger. \x93Well, I wish, with all my heart, they were safe
at home again. But do you mean to say, Geoffrey, that I ought not to
have let them go?\x94

\x93I shall certainly come upon you for damages, if he breaks the neck of
little Bee,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey.

\x93If I had guessed it,\x94 said Uncle Roger; \x93but then, you know, any of
my boys would think nothing of driving Dumple,--even Dick I have
trusted,--and they came up--you should have seen them--as confidently as
if he had been driving four-in-hand every day of his life. Upon my word
your daughter has a tolerable spirit of her own, if she knew that he
could not drive.\x94

\x93A tolerable spirit of self-will,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey, with a sigh.
\x93But did you see them off, how did they manage?\x94

\x93Ah! why there, I must confess, I was to blame,\x94 said his brother. \x93They
did clear out of the yard in a strange fashion, certainly, and I might
have questioned a little closer. But never mind, \x91tis all straight road.
I would lay any wager they will come back safe,--boys always do.\x94

Uncle Geoffrey smiled, but Henrietta thought it a very bad sign that
he, too, looked out at the window; and the confidence founded on his
tranquillity deserted her.

Uncle Roger forthwith returned to the fighting o\x92er again of his battles
at the Board of Guardians, and Henrietta was able to get to the window,
where for some ten minutes she sat, and at length exclaimed with a
start, \x93Here is Willy running across the paddock!\x94

\x93All right!\x94 said Uncle Roger, \x93they must have stopped at Sutton Leigh!\x94

\x93It is the opposite way!\x94 said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, who at the same
moment stepped up to the window. Henrietta\x92s heart throbbed fearfully as
she saw how wearied was the boy\x92s running, and yet how rapid. She could
hardly stand as she followed her uncles to the hall; her mother at the
same moment came downstairs, and all together met the little boy, as,
breathless, exhausted, unable to speak, he rushed into the hall, and
threw himself upon his father, leaning his head against him and clinging
as if he could not stand.

\x93Why Will, how now, my boy? Have you been racing?\x94 said his father,
kneeling on one knee, and supporting the poor little wearied fellow, as
he almost lay upon his breast and shoulder. \x93What is the matter now?\x94

There was a deep silence only interrupted by the deep pantings of
the boy. Henrietta leant on the banisters, giddy with suspense. Uncle
Geoffrey stepped into the dining-room, and brought back a glass of
wine and some water. Aunt Mary parted the damp hair that hung over his
forehead, laid her cold hand on it, and said, \x93Poor little fellow.\x94

At her voice Willy looked up, clung faster to his father, and whispered
something unintelligible.

\x93What? Has anything happened? What is the matter?\x94 were questions
anxiously asked, while Uncle Geoffrey in silence succeeded in
administering the wine; after which Willy managed to say, pointing to
his aunt,

\x93Don\x92t--tell--her.\x94

It was with a sort of ghastly composure that she leant over him, saying,
\x93Don\x92t be afraid, my dear, I am ready to hear it.\x94

He raised himself, and gazed at her in perplexity and wonder.
Henrietta\x92s violently throbbing heart took from her almost the
perception of what was happening.

\x93Take breath, Willy,\x94 said his father; \x93don\x92t keep us all anxious.\x94

\x93Bee said I was to tell Uncle Geoffrey,\x94 said the boy.

\x93Is she safe?\x94 asked Aunt Mary, earnestly.

\x93Yes.\x94

\x93Thanks to God,\x94 said she, holding out her hand to Uncle Geoffrey,
with a look of relief and congratulation, and yet of inexpressible
mournfulness which went to his heart.

\x93And Fred?\x94 said Uncle Roger.

\x93Do not ask, Roger,\x94 said she, still as calmly as before; \x93I always knew
how it would be.\x94

Henrietta tried to exclaim, to inquire, but her lips would not frame one
word, her tongue would not leave the roof of her mouth. She heard a few
confused sounds, and then a mist came over her eyes, a rushing of waters
in her ears, and she sank on the ground in a fainting fit. When she came
to herself she was lying on the sofa in the drawing-room, and all was
still.

\x93Mamma!\x94 said she.

\x93Here, dear child,\x94--but it was Mrs. Langford\x92s voice.

\x93Mamma!\x94 again said she. \x93Where is mamma? Where are they all? Why does
the room turn round?\x94

\x93You have not been well, my dear,\x94 said her grandmother; \x93but drink
this, and lie still, you will soon be better.\x94

\x93Where is mamma?\x94 repeated Henrietta, gazing round and seeing no one but
Mrs. Langford and Bennet. \x93Was she frightened at my being ill? Tell her
I am better.\x94

\x93She knows it, my dear: lie still and try to go to sleep.\x94

\x93But weren\x92t there a great many people?\x94 said Henrietta. \x93Were we not
in the hall? Did not Willy come? O! grandmamma, grandmamma, do tell me,
where are mamma and Fred?\x94

\x93They will soon be here, I hope.\x94

\x93But, grandmamma,\x94 cried she vehemently, turning herself round as
clearer recollection returned, \x93something has happened--O! what has
happened to Fred?\x94

\x93Nothing very serious, we hope, my dear,\x94 said Mrs. Langford. \x93It was
Willy who frightened you. Fred has had a fall, and your mamma and uncles
are gone to see about him.\x94

\x93A fall! O, tell me, tell me! I am sure it is something dreadful! O,
tell me all about it, grandmamma, is he much hurt? O, Freddy, Freddy!\x94

With more quietness than could have been anticipated from so active and
bustling a nature, Mrs. Langford gradually told her granddaughter all
that she knew, which was but little, as she had been in attendance
on her, and had only heard the main fact of Willy\x92s story. Henrietta
clapped her hands wildly together in an agony of grief. \x93He is
killed--he is, I\x92m sure of it!\x94 said she. \x93Why do you not tell me so?\x94

\x93My dear, I trust and believe that he is only stunned.\x94

\x93No, no, no! papa was killed in that way, and I am sure he is! O, Fred,
Fred, my own dear, dear brother, my only one! O, I cannot bear it! O,
Fred!\x94

She rose up from the sofa, and walked and down the room in an ecstasy of
sorrow. \x93And it was I that helped to bring him here! It was my doing! O,
my own, my dearest, my twin brother, I cannot live without him!\x94

\x93Henrietta,\x94 said Mrs. Langford, \x93you do not know what you are saying;
you must bear the will of God, be it what it may.\x94

\x93I can\x92t, I can not,\x94 repeated Henrietta; \x93if I am to lose him, I can\x92t
live; I don\x92t care for anything without Fred!\x94

\x93Your mother, Henrietta.\x94

\x93Mamma! O, don\x92t speak of her; she would die, I am sure she would,
without him; and then I should too, for I should have nothing.\x94

Henrietta\x92s grief was the more ungovernable that it was chiefly selfish;
there was little thought of her mother,--little, indeed, for anything
but the personal loss to herself. She hid her face in her hands, and
sobbed violently, though without a tear, while Mrs. Langford vainly
tried to make her hear of patience and resignation, turning away, and
saying, \x93I can\x92t be patient--no, I can\x92t!\x94 and then again repeating her
brother\x92s name with all the fondest terms of endearment.

Then came a sudden change: it was possible that he yet lived--and she
became certain that he had been only stunned for a moment, and required
her grandmamma to be so too. Mrs. Langford, at the risk of a cruel
disappointment, was willing to encourage her hope; but Henrietta,
fancying herself treated like a petted child, chose to insist on being
told really and exactly what was her view of the case. Then she was
urgent to go out and meet the others, and learn the truth; but this Mrs.
Langford would not permit. It was in kindness, to spare her some fearful
sight, which might shock and startle her, but Henrietta was far from
taking it so; her habitual want of submission made itself felt in spite
of her usual gentleness, now that she had been thrown off her balance,
and she burst into a passionate fit of weeping.

In such a dreadful interval of suspense, her conduct was, perhaps,
scarcely under her own control; and it is scarcely just to mention it
as a subject of blame. But, be it remembered that it was the effect of
a long previous selfishness and self-will; quiet, amiable selfishness;
gentle, caressing self-will; but no less real, and more perilous and
deceitful. But for this, Henrietta would have thought more of her
mother, prepared for her comfort, and braced herself in order to be a
support to her; she would have remembered how terrible must be the
shock to her grandmother in her old age, and how painful must be the
remembrances thus excited of the former bereavement; and in the attempt
to console her, the sense of her own sorrow would have been in some
degree relieved; whereas she now seemed to forget that Frederick
was anything to any one but herself. She prayed, but it was one wild
repetition of \x93O, give him back to me!--save his life!--let him be safe
and well!\x94 She had no room for any other entreaty; she did not call
for strength and resignation on the part of herself and her mother, for
whatever might be appointed; she did not pray that his life might be
granted only if it was for his good; she could ask nothing but that her
own beloved brother might be spared to herself, and she ended her prayer
as unsubdued, and therefore as miserable, as when she began it.

The first intelligence that arrived was brought by Uncle Roger and
Beatrice, who, rather to their surprise, came back in the gig, and
greatly relieved their minds with the intelligence of Frederick\x92s life,
and of Philip Carey\x92s arrival. Henrietta had sprung eagerly up on their
first entrance, with parted lips and earnest eyes, and listened to their
narration with trembling throbbing hope, but with scarcely a word; and
when she heard that Fred still lay senseless and motionless, she again
turned away, and hid her face on the arm of the sofa, without one look
at Beatrice, reckless of the pang that shot through the heart of one
flesh from that trying watch over her brother. Beatrice hoped for one
word, one kiss, and looked wistfully at the long veil of half uncurled
ringlets that floated over the crossed arms on which her forehead
rested, and meantime submitted with a kind of patient indifference to
her grandmother\x92s caress, drank hot wine and water, sat by the fire,
and finally was sent upstairs to change her dress. Too restless, too
anxious, too wretched to stay there alone, longing for some interchange
of sympathy,--but her mind too turbid with agitation to seek it where it
would most surely have been found,--she hastened down again. Grandmamma
was busied in giving directions for the room which was being prepared
for Fred; Uncle Roger had walked out to meet those who were conveying
him home: and Henrietta was sitting in the window, her forehead resting
against the glass, watching intently for their arrival.

\x93Are they coming?\x94 asked Beatrice anxiously.

\x93No!\x94 was all the answer, hardly uttered, and without looking round, as
if her cousin\x92s entrance was perfectly indifferent to her. Beatrice went
up and stood by her, looking out for a few minutes; then taking the hand
that lay in her lap, she said in an imploring whisper, \x93Henrietta, you
forgive me?\x94

The hand lay limp and lifeless in hers, and Henrietta scarcely raised
her face as she answered, in a low, languid, dejected voice, \x93Of course,
Bee, only I am so wretched. Don\x92t talk to me.\x94

Her head sunk again, and Beatrice stepped hastily back to the fire, with
a more bitter feeling than she had ever known. This was no forgiveness;
it was worse than anger or reproach; it was a repulse, and that when her
whole heart was yearning to relieve the pent-up oppression that almost
choked her, by weeping with her. She leant her burning forehead on the
cool marble chimney-piece, and longed for her mother,--longed for her
almost as much for her papa\x92s, her Aunt Mary\x92s and her grandmother\x92s
sake, as for her own. But O! what an infinite relief would one talk with
her have been! She turned toward the table, and thought of writing to
her, but her hand was trembling--every pulse throbbing; she could not
even sit still enough to make the attempt.

At last she saw Henrietta spring to her feet, and hastening to the
window beheld the melancholy procession; Fred carried on a mattress by
Uncle Geoffrey and three of the labourers; Philip Carey walking at one
side, and on the other Mrs. Frederick Langford leaning on Uncle Roger\x92s
arm.

Both girls hurried out to meet them, but all attention was at that
moment for the patient, as he was carried in on his mattress, and
deposited for a few minutes on the large hall table. Henrietta pushed
between her uncles, and made her way up to him, unconscious of the
presence of anyone else--even of her mother--while she clasped his hand,
and hanging over him looked with an agonized intensity at his motionless
features. The next moment she felt her mother\x92s hand on her shoulder,
and was forced to turn round and look into her face: the sweet mournful
meekness of which came for a moment like a soft cooling breeze upon the
dry burning desert of her grief.

\x93My poor child,\x94 said the gentle voice.

\x93O, mamma, is--is--.\x94 She could not speak; her face was violently
agitated, and the very muscles of her throat quivered.

\x93They hope for the best, my dear,\x94 was the reply; but both Mr. Geoffrey
Langford and Beatrice distinguished her own hopelessness in the
intonation, and the very form of the expression: whereas Henrietta only
took in and eagerly seized the idea of comfort which it was intended
to convey to her. She would have inquired more, but Mrs. Langford was
telling her mother of the arrangements she had made, and entreating her
to take some rest.

\x93Thank you, ma\x92am,--thank you very much indeed--you are very kind: I am
very sorry to give you so much trouble,\x94 were her answers; and simple as
were the words, there was a whole world of truth and reality in them.

Preparations were now made for carrying Fred up stairs, but even at
that moment Aunt Mary was not without thought for Beatrice, who was
retreating, as if she feared to be as much in her way as she had been in
Henrietta\x92s.

\x93I did not see you, before, Queenie,\x94 she said, holding out her hand and
kissing her, \x93you have gone through more than any one.\x94

A thrill of fond grateful affection brought the tears into Queen Bee\x92s
eyes. How much there was even in the pronunciation of that pet playful
name to touch her heart, and fill it to overflowing with love and
contrition. She longed to pour out her whole confession, but there was
no one to attend to her--the patient occupied the whole attention of
all. He was carried to his mother\x92s room, placed in bed, and again
examined by young Mr. Carey, who pronounced with increased confidence
that there was no fracture, and gave considerable hopes of improvement.
While this was passing, Henrietta sat on the upper step of the stairs,
her head on her hands, scarcely moving or answering when addressed. As
evening twilight began to close in, the surgeon left the room, and went
down to make his report to those who were anxiously awaiting it in the
drawing-room; and she took advantage of his exit to come to the door,
and beg to be let in.

Uncle Geoffrey admitted her; and her mother, who was sitting by the
bed-side, held out her hand. Henrietta came up to her, and at first
stood by her, intently watching her brother; then after a time sat down
on a footstool, and, with her head resting on her mother\x92s lap, gave
herself up to a sort of quiet heavy dream, which might be called the
very luxury of grief. Uncle Geoffrey sat by the fire, watching
his sister-in-law even more anxiously than the patient, and thus a
considerable interval passed in complete silence, only broken by the
crackling of the fire, the ticking of the watches, or some slight change
of posture of one or other of the three nurses. At last the stillness
was interrupted by a little movement among the bedclothes, and with a
feeling like transport, Henrietta saw the hand, which had hitherto lain
so still and helpless, stretched somewhat out, and the head turned upon
the pillow. Uncle Geoffrey stood up, and Mrs. Frederick Langford pressed
her daughter\x92s hand with a sort of convulsive tremor. A faint voice
murmured \x93Mamma!\x94 and while a flush of trembling joy illumined her pale
face, she bent over him, answering him eagerly and fondly, but he did
not seem to know her, and again repeating \x93Mamma,\x94 opened his eyes with
a vacant gaze, and tried in vain to express some complaint.

In a short time, however, he regained a partial degree of consciousness.
He knew his mother, and was continually calling to her, as if for the
sake of feeling her presence, but without recognizing any other person,
not even his sister or his uncle. Henrietta stood gazing sadly upon him,
while his mother hung over him soothing his restlessness, and answering
his half-uttered complaints, and Uncle Geoffrey was ever ready with
assistance and comfort to each in turn, as it was needed, and especially
supporting his sister-in-law with that sense of protection and reliance
so precious to a sinking heart.

Aunt Roger came up to announce that dinner was ready, and to beg that
she might stay with Fred while the rest went down. Mrs. Frederick
Langford only shook her head, and thanked her, saying with a painful
smile that it was impossible, but begging Uncle Geoffrey and Henrietta
to go. The former complied, knowing how much alarm his absence would
create downstairs; but Henrietta declared that she could not bear the
thoughts of going down, and it was only by a positive order that he
succeeded in making her come with him. Grandpapa kissed her, and made
her sit by him, and grandmamma loaded her plate with all that was best
on the table, but she looked at it with disgust, and leaning back in her
chair, faintly begged not to be asked to eat.

Uncle Geoffrey poured out a glass of wine, and said in a tone which
startled her by its unwonted severity, \x93This will not do, Henrietta; I
cannot allow you to add to your mamma\x92s troubles by making yourself ill.
I desire you will eat, as you certainly can.\x94

Every one was taken by surprise, and perhaps Mrs. Langford might have
interfered, but for a sign from grandpapa. Henrietta, with a feeling
of being cruelly treated, silently obeyed, swallowed down the wine, and
having done so, found herself capable of making a very tolerable dinner,
by which she was greatly relieved and refreshed.

Uncle Geoffrey said a few cheering words to his father and mother,
and returned to Fred\x92s room as soon as he could, without giving that
appearance of hurry and anxiety which would have increased their alarm.
Henrietta, without the same thoughtfulness, rushed rather than ran after
him, and neither of the two came down again to tea.

Philip Carey was to stay all night, and though Beatrice was of course
very glad that he should do so, yet she was much harassed by the
conversation kept up with him for civility\x92s sake. She had been
leading a forlorn dreary life all the afternoon, busy first in helping
grandmamma to write notes to be sent to the intended guests, and
afterwards, with a feeling of intense disgust, putting out of sight all
the preparations for their own self-chosen sport. She desired quiet, and
yet when she found it, it was unendurable, and to talk to her father or
grandfather would be a great relief, yet the first beginning might well
be dreaded. Neither of them was forthcoming, and now in the evening to
hear the quiet grave discussion of Allonfield gossip was excessively
harassing and irritating. No one spoke for their own pleasure, the
thoughts of all were elsewhere, and they only talked thus for the sake
of politeness; but she gave them no credit for this, and felt fretted
and wearied beyond bearing. Even this, however, was better than when
they did return to the engrossing thought, and spoke of the accident,
requiring of her a more exact and particular account of it. She hurried
over it. Grandmamma praised her, and each word was a sting.

\x93But, my dear,\x94 said Mrs. Roger Langford, \x93what could have made you so
anxious to go to Allonfield?\x94

\x93O, Aunt Roger, it was very--\x94 but here Beatrice, whose agitated spirits
made her particularly accessible to momentary emotion, was seized with
such a sense of the absurdity of undertaking so foolish an expedition,
with no other purpose than going to buy a pair of ass\x92s ears, that she
was overpowered by a violent fit of laughing. Grandmamma and Aunt Roger,
after looking at her in amazement for a moment, both started up, and
came towards her with looks of alarm that set her off again still more
uncontrollably. She struggled to speak, but that only made it worse, and
when she perceived that she was supposed to be hysterical, she laughed
the more, though the laughter was positive pain. Once she for a moment
succeeded in recovering some degree of composure, but every kind
demonstration of solicitude brought on a fresh access of laughter, and
a certain whispering threat of calling Philip Carey was worse than all.
When, however, Aunt Roger was actually setting off for the purpose, the
dread of his coming had a salutary effect, and enabled her to make a
violent effort, by which she composed herself, and at length sat quite
still, except for the trembling, which she could not control.

Grandmamma and Aunt Roger united in ordering her to bed, but she could
not bear to go without seeing her papa, nor would she accept Mrs.
Langford\x92s offer of calling him; and at last a compromise was made that
she should go up to bed on condition that her papa should come and visit
her when he came out of Fred\x92s room. Her grandmamma came up with her,
helped her to undress, gave her the unwonted indulgence of a fire, and
summoned Judith to prepare things as quickly and quietly as possible
for Henrietta, who was to sleep with her that night. It was with
much difficulty that she could avoid making a promise to go to bed
immediately, and not to get up to breakfast. At last, with a very
affectionate kiss, grandmamma left her to brush her hair, an operation
which she resolved to lengthen out until her papa\x92s visit.

It was long before he came, but at last his step was heard along the
passage, his knock was at her door. She flew to it, and stood before
him, her large black eyes looking larger, brighter, blacker than usual
from the contrast with the pale or rather sallow face, and the white
nightcap and dressing-gown.

\x93How is Fred?\x94 asked she as well as her parched tongue would allow her
to speak.

\x93Much the same, only talking a little more. But why are you up still?
Your grandmamma said--\x94

\x93Never mind, papa,\x94 interrupted she, \x93only tell me this--is Fred in
danger?\x94

\x93You have heard all we can tell, my dear--\x94

Beatrice interrupted him by an impatient, despairing look, and clasped
her hands: \x93I know--I know; but what do you think?\x94

\x93My own impression is,\x94 said her father, in a calm, kind, yet almost
reproving tone, as if to warn her to repress her agitation, \x93that there
is no reason to give up hope, although it is impossible yet to ascertain
the extent of the injury.\x94

Beatrice retreated a step or two: she stood by the table, one hand upon
it, as if for support, yet her figure quite erect, her eyes fixed on his
face, and her voice firm, though husky, as she said, slowly and quietly,
\x93Papa, if Fred dies, it is my doing.\x94

His face did not express surprise or horror--nothing but kindness and
compassion, while he answered, \x93My poor girl, I was afraid how it might
have been.\x94 Then he led her to a chair and sat down by her side, so
as to let her perceive that he was ready to listen, and would give her
time. He might be in haste, but it was no time to show it.

She now spoke with more hurry and agitation, \x93Yes, yes, papa, it was the
very thing you warned me against--I mean--I mean--the being set in my
own way, and liking to tease the boys. O if I could but speak to tell
you all, but it seems like a weight here choking me,\x94 and she touched
her throat. \x93I can\x92t get it out in words! O!\x94 Poor Beatrice even groaned
aloud with oppression.

\x93Do not try to express it,\x94 said her father: \x93at least, it is not I who
can give you the best comfort. Here\x94--and he took up a Prayer Book.

\x93Yes, I feel as if I could turn there now I have told you, papa,\x94 said
Beatrice; \x93but when I could not get at you, everything seemed dried up
in me. Not one prayer or confession would come;--but now, O! now you
know it, and--and--I feel as if He would not turn away His face. Do you
know I did try the 51st Psalm, but it would not do, not even \x91deliver me
from blood-guiltiness,\x92 it would only make me shudder! O, papa, it was
dreadful!\x94

Her father\x92s answer was to draw her down on her knees by his side, and
read a few verses of that very Psalm, and a few clauses of the prayer
for persons troubled in mind, and he ended with the Lord\x92s Prayer.
Beatrice, when it was over, leant her head against him, and did not
speak, nor weep, but she seemed refreshed and relieved. He watched her
anxiously and affectionately, doubting whether it was right to bestow so
much time on her exclusively, yet unwilling to leave her. When she again
spoke, it was in a lower, more subdued, and softer voice, \x93Aunt Mary
will forgive me, I know; you will tell her, papa, and then it will
not be quite so bad! Now I can pray that he may be saved--O,
papa--disobedient, and I the cause; how could I ever bear the thought?\x94

\x93You can only pray,\x94 replied her father.

\x93Now that I can once more,\x94 said Beatrice; and again there was a
silence, while she stood thinking deeply, but contrary to her usual
habit, not speaking, and he knowing well her tendency to lose her
repentant feelings by expressing them, was not willing to interrupt her.
So they remained for nearly ten minutes, until at last he thought it
time to leave her, and made some movement as if to do so. Then she
spoke, \x93Only tell me one thing, papa. Do you think Aunt Mary has any
hope? There was something--something death-like in her face. Does she
hope?\x94

Mr. Geoffrey Langford shook his head. \x93Not yet,\x94 said he. \x93I think it
may be better after this first night is over. She is evidently reckoning
the hours, and I think she has a kind of morbid expectation that it
will be as it was with his father, who lived twelve hours after his
accident.\x94

\x93But surely, surely,\x94 said Beatrice eagerly, \x93this is a very different
case; Fred has spoken so much more than my uncle did; and Philip says he
is convinced that there is no fracture--\x94

\x93It is a morbid feeling,\x94 said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, \x93and therefore
impossible to be reasoned away. I see she dreads to be told to hope, and
I shall not even attempt it till these fatal twelve hours are over.\x94

\x93Poor dear aunt!\x94 sighed Beatrice. \x93I am glad, if it was to be, that you
were here, for nobody else would understand her.\x94

\x93Understand her!\x94 said he, with something of a smile. \x93No, Bee,
such sorrow as hers has a sacredness in it which is not what can be
understood.\x94

Beatrice sighed, and then with a look as if she saw a ray of comfort,
said, \x93I suppose mamma will soon be here?\x94

\x93I think not,\x94 said her father, \x93I shall tell her she had better wait
to see how things go on, and keep herself in reserve. At present it is
needlessly tormenting your aunt to ask her to leave Fred for a moment,
and I do not think she has even the power to rest. While this goes on,
I am of more use in attending to him than your mamma could be; but if
he is a long time recovering, it will be a great advantage to have her
coming fresh, and not half knocked up with previous attendance.\x94

\x93But how she will wish to be here!\x94 exclaimed Beatrice, \x93and how you
will want her!\x94

\x93No doubt of that, Queenie,\x94 said her father smiling, \x93but we must
reserve our forces, and I think she will be of the same mind. Well, I
must go. Where is Henrietta to sleep to-night?\x94

\x93With me,\x94 said Beatrice.

\x93I will send her to you as soon as I can. You must do what you can with
her, Bee, for I can see that the way she hangs on her mamma is quite
oppressive. If she had but a little vigour!\x94

\x93I don\x92t know what to do about her!\x94 said Beatrice with more dejection
than she had yet shown, \x93I wish I could be of any comfort to her, but I
can\x92t--I shall never do good to anybody--only harm.\x94

\x93Fear the harm, and the good will come,\x94 said Mr. Geoffrey Langford.
\x93Good night, my dear.\x94

Beatrice threw herself on her knees as soon as the door had closed on
her father, and so remained for a considerable time in one earnest,
unexpressed outpouring of confession and prayer, for how long she knew
not, all that she was sensible of was a feeling of relief, the repose of
such humility and submission, such heartfelt contrition as she had never
known before.

So she continued till she heard Henrietta\x92s approaching steps, when she
rose and opened the door, ready to welcome her with all the affection
and consolation in her power. There stood Henrietta, a heavy weight on
her eyes, her hair on one side all uncurled and flattened, the colour
on half her face much deepened, and a sort of stupor about her whole
person, as if but one idea possessed her. Beatrice went up to meet her,
and took her candle, asking what account she brought of the patient. \x93No
better,\x94 was all the answer, and she sat down making no more detailed
answers to all her cousin\x92s questions. She would have done the same to
her grandmamma, or any one else, so wrapped up was she in her own grief,
but this conduct gave more pain to Beatrice than it could have done
to any one else, since it kept up the last miserable feeling of being
unforgiven. Beatrice let her sit still for some minutes, looking at
her all the time with an almost piteous glance of entreaty, of which
Henrietta was perfectly unconscious, and then began to beg her to
undress, seconding the proposal by beginning to unfasten her dress.

Henrietta moved pettishly, as if provoked at being disturbed.

\x93I beg your pardon, dear Henrietta,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93if you would but
let me! You will be ill to-morrow, and that would be worse still.\x94

\x93No, I shan\x92t,\x94 said Henrietta shortly, \x93never mind me.\x94

\x93But I must, dear Henrietta. If you would but--\x94

\x93I can\x92t go to bed,\x94 replied Henrietta, \x93thank you, Bee, never mind--\x94

Beatrice stood still, much distressed at her own inability to be of any
service, and pained far more by the sight of Henrietta\x92s grief than by
the unkind rejection of herself. \x93Papa thinks there is great hope,\x94 said
she abruptly.

\x93Mamma does not,\x94 said Henrietta, edging away from her cousin as if to
put an end to the subject.

Beatrice almost wrung her hands. O this wilfulness of grief, how hard
it was to contend with it! At last there was a knock at the door--it was
grandmamma, suspecting that they were still up. Little recked Beatrice
of the scolding that fell on herself for not having been in bed hours
ago; she was only rejoiced at the determination that swept away all
Henrietta\x92s feeble opposition. The bell was rung, Bennet was summoned,
grandmamma peremptorily ordered her to be undressed, and in another
half-hour the cousins were lying side by side, Henrietta\x92s lethargy
had become a heavy sleep, Beatrice was broad awake, listening to every
sound, forming every possible speculation on the future, and to her own
overstretched fancy seeming actually to feel the thoughts chasing each
other through her throbbing head.



CHAPTER XIV.



\x93Half-past one,\x94 said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, as if it was a mere casual
observation, though in reality it was the announcement that the fatal
twelve hours had passed more than half-an-hour since.

There was no answer, but he heard a slight movement, and though
carefully avoiding any attempt to penetrate the darkness around the sick
bed, he knew full well that his sister was on her knees, and when he
again heard her voice in reply to some rambling speech of her son, it
had a tremulous tone, very unlike its former settled hopelessness.

Again, when Philip Carey paid his morning visit, she studied the
expression of his face with anxious, inquiring, almost hopeful eyes, the
crushed heart-broken indifference of yesterday had passed away; and when
the expedience of obtaining further advice was hinted at, she caught
at the suggestion with great eagerness, though the day before her only
answer had been, \x93As you think right.\x94 She spoke so as to show the
greatest consideration for the feelings of Philip Carey, then with
her usual confiding spirit, she left the selection of the person to
be called in entirely to him, to her brother and father-in-law, and
returned to her station by Frederick, who had already missed and
summoned her.

Philip, in spite of the small follies which provoked Beatrice\x92s sarcasm,
was by no means deficient in good sense or ability; his education had
owed much to the counsels of Mr. Geoffrey Langford, whom he regarded
with great reverence, and he was so conscious of his own inexperience
and diffident of his own opinion, as to be very anxious for assistance
in this, the first very serious case which had fallen under his own
management. The proposal had come at first from himself, and this was a
cause of great rejoicing to those who had to reconcile Mrs. Langford to
the measure. In her eyes a doctor was a doctor, member of a privileged
fraternity in which she saw no distinctions, and to send for advice
from London would, she thought, not only hurt the feelings of Mrs.
Roger Langford, and all the Carey connection, but seriously injure the
reputation of young Mr. Carey in his own neighbourhood.

Grandpapa answered, and Beatrice was glad he did so, that such
considerations were as nothing when weighed in the scale against
Frederick\x92s life; she was silenced, but unconvinced, and unhappy till
her son Geoffrey, coming down late to breakfast, greatly comforted
her by letting her make him some fresh toast with her own hands, and
persuading her that it would be greatly in favour of Philip\x92s practice
that his opinion should be confirmed by an authority of note.

The electric telegraph and the railroad brought the surgeon even before
she had begun seriously to expect him, and his opinion was completely
satisfactory as far as regarded Philip Carey and the measures already
taken; Uncle Geoffrey himself feeling convinced that his approval was
genuine, and not merely assumed for courtesy\x92s sake. He gave them, too,
more confident hope of the patient than Philip, in his diffidence, had
ventured to do, saying that though there certainly was concussion of the
brain, he thought there was great probability that the patient would do
well, provided that they could combat the feverish symptoms which had
begun to appear. He consulted with Philip Carey, the future treatment
was agreed upon, and he left them with cheered and renewed spirits to
enter on a long and anxious course of attendance. Roger, who was obliged
to go away the next day, cheered up his brother Alex into a certainty
that Fred would be about again in a week, and though no one but the boys
shared the belief, yet the assurances of any one so sanguine, inspired
them all with something like hope.

The attendance at first fell almost entirely on Mrs. Frederick
Langford and Uncle Geoffrey, for the patient, who had now recovered a
considerable degree of consciousness, would endure no one else. If his
mother\x92s voice did not answer him the first moment, he instantly grew
restless and uneasy, and the plaintive inquiry, \x93Is Uncle Geoffrey
here?\x94 was many times repeated. He would recognise Henrietta, but his
usual answer to her was \x93You speak so loud;\x94 though in reality, her tone
was almost exactly the same as her mother\x92s; and above all others he
disliked the presence of Philip Carey.

\x93Who is that?\x94 inquired he, the first time that he was at all conscious
of the visits of other people: and when his mother explained, he asked
quickly, \x93Is he gone?\x94

The next day, Fred was alive to all that was going on, but suffering
considerable pain, and with every sense quickened to the most acute and
distressing degree, his eyes dazzled by light which, as he declared,
glanced upon the picture frames in a room where his mother and uncle
could scarcely see to find their way, and his ears pierced, as it
were, by the slightest sound in the silent house, sleepless with
pain, incapable of thought, excessively irritable in temper, and his
faculties, as it seemed, restored only to be the means of suffering.
Mrs. Langford came to the door to announce that Philip Carey was come.
Mr. Geoffrey Langford went to speak to him, and grandmamma and Henrietta
began to arrange the room a little for his reception. Fred, however,
soon stopped this. \x93I can\x92t bear the shaking,\x94 said he. \x93Tell them to
leave off, mamma.\x94

Grandmamma, unconscious of the pain she was inflicting, and believing
that she made not the slightest noise, continued to put the chairs
in order, but Fred gave an impatient, melancholy sort of groan and
exclamation, and Mrs. Langford remarked, \x93Well, if he cannot bear it, it
cannot be helped; but it is quite dangerous in this dark room!\x94 And out
she went, Fred frowning with pain at every step she took.

\x93Why do you let people come?\x94 asked he sharply of his mother. \x93Where is
Uncle Geoffrey gone?\x94

\x93He is speaking with Mr. Philip Carey, my dear, he will be here with him
directly.\x94

\x93I don\x92t want Philip Carey; don\x92t let him come.\x94

\x93My dear boy, he must come; he has not seen you to-day, perhaps he may
do something for this sad pain.\x94

Fred turned away impatiently, and at the same moment Uncle Geoffrey
opened the door to ask if Fred was ready.

\x93Yes,\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford: and Philip entered. But Fred would
not turn towards him till desired to do so, nor give his hand readily
for his pulse to be felt. Philip thought it necessary to see his face
a little more distinctly, and begged his pardon for having the window
shutters partly opened; but Fred contrived completely to frustrate his
intention, as with an exclamation which had in it as much of anger as of
pain, he turned his face inwards to the pillow, and drew the bed-clothes
over it.

\x93My dear boy,\x94 said his mother, pleadingly, \x93for one moment only!\x94

\x93I told you I could not bear the light,\x94 was all the reply.

\x93If you would but oblige me for a few seconds,\x94 said Philip.

\x93Fred!\x94 said his uncle gravely; and Fred made a slight demonstration as
if to obey, but at the first glimpse of the dim light, he hid his face
again, saying, \x93I can\x92t;\x94 and Philip gave up the attempt, closed the
shutter, unfortunately not quite as noiselessly as Uncle Geoffrey had
opened it, and proceeded to ask sundry questions; to which the patient
scarcely vouchsafed a short and pettish reply. When at last he quitted
the room, and was followed by Mrs. Frederick Langford, a \x93Don\x92t go,
mamma,\x94 was immediately heard.

\x93You must spare me for a very little while, my dear,\x94 said she, gently
but steadily.

\x93Don\x92t stay long, then,\x94 replied he.

Uncle Geoffrey came up to his bedside, and with a touch soft and light
as a woman\x92s, arranged the coverings disturbed by his restlessness,
and for a few moments succeeded in tranquillizing him, but almost
immediately he renewed his entreaties that his mother would return, and
had it been any other than his uncle who had taken her place, would have
grumbled at his not going to call her. On her return, she was greeted
with a discontented murmur. \x93What an immense time you have stayed
away!\x94--presently after, \x93I wish you would not have that Carey!\x94 and
then, \x93I wish we were at Rocksand,--I wish Mr. Clarke were here.\x94

Patience in illness is a quality so frequently described in books as
well as actually found in real life, that we are apt to believe that it
comes as a matter of course, and without previous training, particularly
in the young, and that peevishness is especially reserved for the
old and querulous, who are to try the amiability of the heroine. To
a certain degree, this is often the case; the complete prostration of
strength, and the dim awe of approaching death in the acute illnesses
of the young, often tame down the stubborn or petulant temper, and their
patience and forbearance become the wonder and admiration of those who
have seen germs of far other dispositions. And when this is not the
case, who would have the heart to complain? Certainly not those who
are like the mother and uncle who had most to endure from the exacting
humours of Frederick Langford. High spirits, excellent health, a certain
degree of gentleness of character, and a home where, though he was not
over indulged, there was little to ruffle him, all had hitherto combined
to make him appear one of the most amiable good-tempered boys that ever
existed; but there was no substance in this apparent good quality, it
was founded on no real principle of obedience or submission, and when to
an habitual spirit of determination to have his own way, was superadded
the irritability of nerves which was a part of his illness, when his
powers of reflection were too much weakened to endure or comprehend
argument; when, in fact, nothing was left to fall back upon but the
simple obedience which would have been required in a child, and when
that obedience was wanting, what could result but increased discomfort
to himself and all concerned? Yes, even as we should lay up a store of
prayers against that time when we shall be unable to pray for ourselves,
so surely should we lay up a store of habits against the time when we
may be unable to think or reason for ourselves! How often have
lives been saved by the mere instinct of unquestioning instantaneous
obedience!

Had Frederick possessed that instinct, how much present suffering and
future wretchedness might have been spared him! His ideas were as yet
too disconnected for him to understand or bear in mind that he was
subjecting his mother to excessive fatigue, but the habit of submission
would have led him to bear her absence patiently, instead of perpetually
interrupting even the short repose which she would now and then be
persuaded to seek on the sofa. He would have spared her his perpetual,
harassing complaints, not so much of the pain he suffered, as of every
thing and every person who approached him, his Uncle Geoffrey being the
only person against whom he never murmured. Nor would he have rebelled
against measures to which he was obliged to submit in the end, after
he had distressed every one and exhausted himself by his fruitless
opposition.

It was marvellous that the only two persons whose attendance he would
endure could bear up under the fatigue. Even Uncle Geoffrey, one of
those spare wiry men, who, without much appearance of strength are
nevertheless capable of such continued exertion, was beginning to
look worn and almost aged, and yet Mrs. Frederick Langford was still
indefatigable, unconscious of weariness, quietly active, absorbed in
the thought of her son, and yet not so absorbed as not to be full of
consideration for all around. All looked forward with apprehension to
the time when the consequences of such continued exertion must be
felt, but in the meantime it was not in the power of any one except her
brother Geoffrey to be of any assistance to her, and her relations could
only wait and watch with such patience as they could command, for the
period when their services might be effectual.

Mrs. Langford was the most visibly impatient. The hasty bustling of her
very quietest steps gave such torture to Frederick, as to excuse the
upbraiding eyes which he turned on his poor perplexed mother whenever
she entered the room; and her fresh arrangements and orders always
created a disturbance, which created such positive injury, that it was
the aim of the whole family to prevent her visits there. This was,
as may be supposed, no easy task. Grandpapa\x92s \x93You had better not, my
dear,\x94 checked her for a little while, but was far from satisfying her:
Uncle Geoffrey, who might have had the best chance, had not time to
spare for her; and no one could persuade her how impossible, nay, how
dangerous it was to attempt to reason with the patient: so she blamed
the whole household for indulging his fancies, and half a dozen times
a day pronounced that he would be the death of his mother. Beatrice did
the best she could to tranquillise her; but two spirits so apt to clash
did not accord particularly well even now, though Busy Bee was too much
depressed to queen it as usual. To feel herself completely useless in
the midst of the suffering she had occasioned was a severe trial; and
above all, poor child, she longed for her mother, and the repose of
confession and parental sympathy. She saw her father only at meal times;
she was anxious and uneasy at his worn looks, and even he could not be
all that her mother was. Grandpapa was kind as ever, but the fault that
sat so heavy on her mind was not one for discussion with any one but a
mother, and this consciousness was the cause of a little reserve with
him, such as had never before existed between them.

Alexander was more of a comfort to her than any one else, and that
chiefly because he wanted her to be a comfort to him. All the strong
affection and esteem which he really entertained for Frederick was now
manifested, and the remembrance of old rivalries and petty contentions
served but to make the reaction stronger. He kept aloof from his
brothers, and spent every moment he could at the Hall, either reading in
the library, or walking up and down the garden paths with Queen Bee. One
of the many conversations which they held will serve as a specimen of
the rest.

\x93So they do not think he is much better to-day?\x94 said Alex, walking into
the library, where Beatrice was sealing some letters.

Beatrice shook her head. \x93Every day that he is not worse is so much
gained,\x94 said she.

\x93It is very odd,\x94 meditated Alex: \x93I suppose the more heads have in
them, the easier it is to knock them!\x94

Beatrice smiled. \x93Thick skulls are proverbial, you know, Alex.\x94

\x93Well, I really believe it is right. Look, Bee,\x94 and he examined his own
face in the glass over the chimney; \x93there, do you see a little bit of
a scar under my eyebrow?--there! Well, that was where I was knocked over
by a cricket-ball last half, pretty much harder than poor Fred
could have come against the ground,--but what harm did it do me? Why
everything spun round with me for five minutes or so, and I had a black
eye enough to have scared you, but I was not a bit the worse otherwise.
Poor Fred, he was quite frightened for me I believe; for the first thing
I saw was him, looking all green and yellow, standing over me, and so I
got up and laughed at him for thinking I could care about it. That was
the worst of it! I wish I had not been always set against him. I would
give anything now.\x94

\x93Well, but Alex, I don\x92t understand. You were very good friends at the
bottom, after all; you can\x92t have anything really to repent of towards
him.\x94

\x93Oh, haven\x92t I though?\x94 was the reply. \x93It was more the other fellows\x92
doing than my own, to be sure, and yet, after all, it was worse, knowing
all about him as I did; but somehow, every one, grandmamma and all of
you, had been preaching up to me all my life that cousin Fred was to be
such a friend of mine. And then when he came to school, there he was--a
fellow with a pink and white face, like a girl\x92s, and that did not even
know how to shy a stone, and cried for his mamma! Well, I wish I could
begin it all over again.\x94

\x93But do you mean that he was really a--a--what you call a Miss Molly?\x94

\x93Who said so? No, not a bit of it!\x94 said Alex. \x93No one thought so in
reality, though it was a good joke to put him in a rage, and pretend
to think that he could not do anything. Why, it took a dozen times
more spirit for him to be first in everything than for me, who had been
knocked about all my life. And he was up to anything, Bee, to anything.
The matches at foot-ball will be good for nothing now; I am sure I
shan\x92t care if we do win.\x94

\x93And the prize,\x94 said Beatrice, \x93the scholarship!\x94

\x93I have no heart to try for it now! I would not, if Uncle Geoffrey
had not a right to expect it of me. Let me see: if Fred is well by the
summer, why then--hurrah! Really, Queenie, he might get it all up in no
time, clever fellow as he is, and be first after all. Don\x92t you think
so?\x94

Queen Bee shook her head. \x93They say he must not read or study for a very
long time,\x94 said she.

\x93Yes, but six months--a whole year is an immense time,\x94 said Alex. \x93O
yes, he must, Bee! Reading does not cost him half the trouble it does
other people; and his verses, they never fail--never except when he is
careless; and the sure way to prevent that is to run him up for time.
That is right. Why there!\x94 exclaimed Alex joyfully, \x93I do believe
this is the very best thing for his success!\x94 Beatrice could not help
laughing, and Alex immediately sobered down as the remembrance crossed
him, that if Fred were living a week hence, they would have great reason
to be thankful.

\x93Ah! they will all of them be sorry enough to hear of this,\x94 proceeded
he. \x93There was no one so much thought of by the fellows, or the masters
either.\x94

\x93The masters, perhaps,\x94 said Beatrice; \x93but I thought you said there was
a party against him among the boys?\x94

\x93Oh, nonsense! It was only a set of stupid louts who, just because they
had pudding-heads themselves, chose to say that I did better without all
his reading and Italian, and music, and stuff; and I was foolish enough
to let them go on, though I knew all the time it was nothing but chaff.
I shall let them all know what fools they were for their pains, as soon
as I go back. Why, Queenie, you, who only know Fred at home, you have
not the slightest notion what a fellow he is. I\x92ll just tell you one
story of him.\x94

Alexander forthwith proceeded to tell not one story alone, but many, to
illustrate the numerous excellences which he ascribed to Fred, and again
and again blaming himself for the species of division which had existed
between them, although the fact was that he had always been the more
conciliatory of the two. Little did he guess, good, simple-hearted
fellow, that each word was quite as much, or more, to his credit, as to
Frederick\x92s; but Beatrice well appreciated them, and felt proud of him.

These talks were her chief comfort, and always served to refresh her,
if only by giving her the feeling that some one wanted her, and not that
the only thing she could do for anybody was the sealing of the letters
which her father, whose eyes were supposed to be acquiring the power of
those of cats, contrived to write in the darkness of Fred\x92s room. She
thought she could have borne everything excepting Henrietta\x92s coldness,
which still continued, not from intentional unkindness or unwillingness
to forgive, but simply because Henrietta was too much absorbed in her
own troubles to realise to herself the feelings which she wounded. Her
uncle Geoffrey had succeeded in awakening her consideration for her
mother; but with her and Fred it began and ended, and when outside the
sick room, she seemed not to have a thought beyond a speedy return
to it. She seldom or never left it, except at meal-times, or when her
grandfather insisted on her taking a walk with him, as he did almost
daily. Then he walked between her and Beatrice, trying in vain to arouse
her to talk, and she, replying as shortly as possible when obliged to
speak, left her cousin to sustain the conversation.

The two girls went to church with grandpapa on the feast of the
Epiphany, and strange it was to them to see again the wreaths which
their own hands had woven, looking as bright and festal as ever, the
glistening leaves unfaded, and the coral berries fresh and gay. A tear
began to gather in Beatrice\x92s eye, and Henrietta hung her head, as if
she could not bear the sight of those branches, so lately gathered by
her brother. As they were leaving the church, both looked towards the
altar at the wreath which Henrietta had once started to see, bearing a
deeper and more awful meaning than she had designed. Their eyes met, and
they saw that they had the same thought in their minds.

When they were taking off their bonnets in their own room, Queen Bee
stretched out a detaining hand, not in her usual commanding manner, but
with a gesture that was almost timid, saying,

\x93Look, Henrietta, one moment, and tell me if you were not thinking of
this.\x94

And hastily opening the Lyra Innocentium, she pointed out the verse--


\x93Such garland grave and fair, His church to-day adorns, And--mark it
well--e\x92en there He wears His Crown of Thorns.

\x93Should aught profane draw near, Full many a guardian spear Is set
around, of power to go Deep in the reckless hand, and stay the grasping
foe.\x94


\x93They go very deep,\x94 sighed Henrietta, raising her eyes, with a mournful
complaining glance.

Beatrice would have said more, but when she recollected her own conduct
on Christmas Eve, it might well strike her that she was the \x93thing
profane\x94 that had then dared to draw near; and it pained her that she
had even appeared for one moment to accuse her cousin. She was beginning
to speak, but Henrietta cut her short by saying, \x93Yes, yes, but I can\x92t
stay,\x94 and was flying along the passage the next moment.

Beatrice sighed heavily, and spent the next quarter of an hour in
recalling, with all the reality of self-reproach, the circumstances of
her recklessness, vanity and self-will on that day. She knelt and poured
out her confession, her prayer for forgiveness, and grace to avoid the
very germs of these sins for the future, before Him Who seeth in secret:
and a calm energetic spirit of hope, in the midst of true repentance,
began to dawn on her.

It was good for her, but was it not selfish in Henrietta thus to leave
her alone to bear her burthen? Yes, selfish it was; for Henrietta had
heard the last report of Frederick since their return, and knew that
her presence in his room was quite useless; and it was only for the
gratification of her own feelings that she hurried thither without even
stopping to recollect that her cousin might also be unhappy, and be
comforted by talking to her.

Her thought was only the repining one: \x93the thorns go deep!\x94 Poor child,
had they yet gone deep enough? The patient may cry out, but the skilful
surgeon will nevertheless probe on, till he has reached the hidden
source of the malady.



CHAPTER XV.



On a soft hazy day in the beginning of February, the Knight Sutton
carriage was on the road to Allonfield, and in it sat the Busy Bee and
her father, both of them speaking far less than was their wont when
alone together.

Mr. Geoffrey Langford took off his hat, so as to let the moist spring
breeze play round his temples and in the thin locks where the silvery
threads had lately grown more perceptible, and gazed upon the dewy
grass, the tiny woodbine leaf, the silver \x93pussycats\x94 on the withy, and
the tasselled catkin of the hazel, with the eyes of a man to whom such
sights were a refreshment--a sort of holiday--after the many springs
spent in close courts of law and London smoke; and now after his long
attendance in a warm dark sick-room. His daughter sat by him, thinking
deeply, and her heart full of a longing earnestness which seemed as if
it would not let her speak. She was going to meet her mother, whom she
had not seen for so long a time; but it was only to be for one evening!
Her father, finding that his presence was absolutely required in London,
and no longer actually indispensable at Knight Sutton, had resolved on
changing places with his wife, and she was to go with him and take her
mother\x92s place in attending on Lady Susan St. Leger. They were now going
to fetch Mrs. Geoffrey Langford home from the Allonfield station,
and they would have one evening at Knight Sutton with her, returning
themselves the next morning to Westminster.

They arrived at Allonfield, executed various commissions with which Mrs.
Langford had been delighted to entrust Geoffrey; they ordered some new
books for Frederick, and called at Philip Carey\x92s for some medicines;
and then driving up to the station watched eagerly for the train.

Soon it was there, and there at length she was; her own dear self,--the
dark aquiline face, with its sweetest and brightest of all expressions;
the small youthful figure, so active, yet so quiet and elegant; the
dress so plain and simple, yet with that distinguished air. How happy
Beatrice was that first moment of feeling herself at her side!

\x93My dear! my own dear child!\x94 Then anxiously following her husband with
her eye, as he went to look for her luggage, she said, \x93How thin he
looks, Queenie!\x94

\x93O, he has been doing so much,\x94 said Busy Bee. \x93It is only for this
last week he has gone to bed at all, and then only on the sofa in Fred\x92s
room. This is the first time he has been out, except last Sunday to
Church, and a turn or two round the garden with grandmamma.\x94

He came back before Queen Bee had done speaking. \x93Come, Beatrice,\x94 said
he to his wife, \x93I am in great haste to have you at home; that fresh
face of yours will do us all so much good.\x94

\x93One thing is certain,\x94 said she; \x93I shall send home orders that you
shall be allowed no strong coffee at night, and that Busy Bee shall
hide half the mountain of letters in the study. But tell me honestly,
Geoffrey, are you really well?\x94

\x93Perfectly, except for a growing disposition to yawn,\x94 said her husband
laughing.

\x93Well, what are the last accounts of the patient?\x94

\x93He is doing very well: the last thing I did before coming away, was to
lay him down on the sofa, with Retzsch\x92s outlines to look at: so you may
guess that he is coming on quickly. I suppose you have brought down the
books and prints?\x94

\x93Such a pile, that I almost expected my goods would be over weight.\x94

\x93It is very fortunate that he has a taste for this kind of thing: only
take care, they must not be at Henrietta\x92s discretion, or his own, or he
will be overwhelmed with them,--a very little oversets him, and might do
great mischief.\x94

\x93You don\x92t think the danger of inflammation over yet, then?\x94

\x93O, no! his pulse is so very easily raised, that we are obliged to keep
him very quiet, and nearly to starve him, poor fellow; and his appetite
is returning so fast, that it makes it very difficult to manage him.\x94

\x93I should be afraid that now would be the time to see the effects of
poor Mary\x92s over gentleness.\x94

\x93Yes; but what greatly increases the difficulty is that Fred has some
strange prejudice against Philip Carey.\x94

Busy Bee, who had heard nothing of this, felt her cheeks flush, while
her father proceeded.

\x93I do not understand it at all: Philip\x92s manners in a sick room are
particularly good--much better than I should have expected, and he has
been very attentive and gentle-handed; but, from the first, Fred has
shown a dislike to him, questioned all his measures, and made the most
of it whenever he was obliged to give him any pain. The last time the
London doctor was here, I am sure he hurt Fred a good deal more than
Philip has ever done, yet the boy bore it manfully, though he shrinks
and exclaims the moment Philip touches him. Then he is always talking of
wishing for old Clarke at Rocksand, and I give Mary infinite credit for
never having proposed to send for him. I used to think she had great
faith in the old man, but I believe it was only her mother.\x94

\x93Of course it was. It is only when Mary has to act alone that you really
are obliged to perceive all her excellent sense and firmness; and I am
very glad that you should be convinced now and then, that in nothing
but her fears, poor thing, has she anything of the spoiling mamma about
her.\x94

\x93As if I did not know that,\x94 said he, smiling.

\x93And so she would not yield to this fancy? Very wise indeed. But I
should like to know the reason of this dislike on Fred\x92s part. Have you
ever asked him?\x94

\x93No; he is not in a fit state for argument; and, besides, I think the
prejudice would only be strengthened. We have praised Philip again and
again, before him, and said all we could think of to give him confidence
in him, but nothing will do; in fact, I suspect Mr. Fred was sharp
enough to discover that we were talking for a purpose. It has been the
great trouble this whole time, though neither Mary nor I have mentioned
it, for fear of annoying my mother.\x94

\x93Papa,\x94 said Busy Bee, \x93I am afraid I know the reason but too well. It
was my foolish way of talking about the Careys; I used to tease poor
Fred about Roger\x92s having taken him for Philip, and say all sorts of
things that I did not really mean.\x94

\x93Hem!\x94 said her father. \x93Well, I should think it might be so; it always
struck me that the prejudice must be grounded upon some absurd notion,
the memory of which had passed away, while the impression remained.\x94

\x93And do you think I could do anything towards removing it? You know I am
to go and wish Fred good-bye this afternoon.\x94

\x93Why, yes; you might as well try to say something cheerful, which might
do away with the impression. Not that I think it will be of any use;
only do not let him think it has been under discussion.\x94

Beatrice assented, and was silent again while they went on talking.

\x93Aunt Mary has held out wonderfully?\x94 said her mother.

\x93Too wonderfully,\x94 said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, \x93in a way which I fear
will cost her dearly. I have been positively longing to see her give way
as she ought to have done under the fatigue; and now I am afraid of
the old complaint: she puts her hand to her side now and then, and I am
persuaded that she had some of those spasms a night or two ago.\x94

\x93Ah!\x94 said his wife, with great concern, \x93that is just what I have been
dreading the whole time. When she consulted Dr. ----, how strongly he
forbade her to use any kind of exertion. Why would you not let me come?
I assure you it was all I could do to keep myself from setting off.\x94

\x93It was very well behaved in you, indeed, Beatrice,\x94 said he, smiling;
\x93a sacrifice which very few husbands would have had resolution either to
make themselves, or to ask of their wives. I thanked you greatly when I
did not see you.\x94

\x93But why would you not have me? Do you not repent it now?\x94

\x93Not in the least. Fred would let no one come near him but his mother
and me; you could not have saved either of us an hour\x92s nursing then,
whereas now you can keep Fred in order, and take care of Mary, if she
will suffer it, and that she will do better from you than from any one
else.\x94

They were now reaching the entrance of Sutton Leigh Lane, and Queen Bee
was called upon for the full history of the accident, which, often as
it had been told by letter, must again be narrated in all its branches.
Even her father had never had time to hear it completely; and there was
so much to ask and to answer on the merely external circumstances, that
they had not begun to enter upon feelings and thoughts when they arrived
at the gate of the paddock, which was held open by Dick and Willy,
excessively delighted to see Aunt Geoffrey.

In a few moments more she was affectionately welcomed by old Mrs.
Langford, whose sentiments with regard to the two Beatrices were of
a curiously varying and always opposite description. When her
daughter-in-law was at a distance, she secretly regarded with a kind of
respectful aversion, both her talents, her learning, and the fashionable
life to which she had been accustomed; but in her presence the winning,
lively simplicity of her manners completely dispelled all these
prejudices in an instant, and she loved her most cordially for her own
sake, as well as because she was Geoffrey\x92s wife. On the contrary, the
younger Beatrice, while absent, was the dear little granddaughter,--the
Queen of Bees, the cleverest of creatures; and while present, it has
already been shown how constantly the two tempers fretted each other, or
had once done so, though now, so careful had Busy Bee lately been, there
had been only one collision between them for the last ten days, and that
was caused by her strenuous attempts to convince grandmamma that Fred
was not yet fit for boiled chicken and calves\x92 foot jelly.

Mrs. Langford\x92s greetings were not half over when Henrietta and her
mamma hastened down stairs to embrace dear Aunt Geoffrey.

\x93My dear Mary, I am so glad to be come to you at last!\x94

\x93Thank you, O! thank you, Beatrice. How Fred will enjoy having you now!\x94

\x93Is he tired?\x94 asked Uncle Geoffrey.

\x93No, not at all; he seems to be very comfortable. He has been talking of
Queen Bee\x92s promised visit. Do you like to go up now, my dear?\x94

Queen Bee consented eagerly, though with some trepidation, for she had
not seen her cousin since his accident, and besides, she did not know
how to begin about Philip Carey. She ran to take off her bonnet,
while Henrietta went to announce her coming. She knocked at the door,
Henrietta opened it, and coming in, she saw Fred lying on the sofa by
the fire, in his dressing-gown, stretched out in that languid listless
manner that betokens great feebleness. There were the purple marks of
leeches on his temples; his hair had been cropped close to his head; his
face was long and thin, without a shade of colour, but his eyes looked
large and bright; and he smiled and held out his hand: \x93Ah, Queenie, how
d\x92ye do?\x94

\x93How d\x92ye do, Fred? I am glad you are better.\x94

\x93You see I have the asses\x92 ears after all,\x94 said he, pointing to his
own, which were very prominent in his shorn and shaven condition.

Beatrice could not very easily call up a smile, but she made an effort,
and succeeded, while she said, \x93I should have complimented you on the
increased wisdom of your looks. I did not know the shape of your head
was so like papa\x92s.\x94

\x93Is Aunt Geoffrey come?\x94 asked Fred.

\x93Yes,\x94 said his sister: \x93but mamma thinks you had better not see her
till to-morrow.\x94

\x93I wish Uncle Geoffrey was not going,\x94 said Fred. \x93Nobody else has the
least notion of making one tolerably comfortable.\x94

\x93O, your mamma, Fred!\x94 said Queen Bee.

\x93O yes, mamma, of course! But then she is getting fagged.\x94

\x93Mamma says she is quite unhappy to have kept him so long from his work
in London,\x94 said Henrietta; \x93but I do not know what we should have done
without him.\x94

\x93I do not know what we shall do now,\x94 said Fred, in a languid and
doleful tone.

The Queen Bee, thinking this a capital opportunity, spoke with almost
alarmed eagerness, \x93O yes, Fred, you will get on famously; you will
enjoy having my mamma so much, and you are so much better already, and
Philip Carey manages you so well--\x94

\x93Manages!\x94 said Fred; \x93ay, and I\x92ll tell you how, Queenie; just as the
man managed his mare when he fed her on a straw a day. I believe he
thinks I am a ghool, and can live on a grain of rice. I only wish he
knew himself what starvation is. Look here! you can almost see the fire
through my hand, and if I do but lift up my head, the whole room is in a
merry-go-round. And that is nothing but weakness; there is nothing
else on earth the matter with me, except that I am starved down to the
strength of a midge!\x94

\x93Well, but of course he knows,\x94 said Busy Bee; \x93Papa says he has had an
excellent education, and he must know.\x94

\x93To be sure he does, perfectly well: he is a sharp fellow, and knows how
to keep a patient when he has got one.\x94

\x93How can you talk such nonsense, Fred? One comfort is, that it is a sign
you are getting well, or you would not have spirits to do it.\x94

\x93I am talking no nonsense,\x94 said Fred, sharply; \x93I am as serious as
possible.\x94

\x93But you can\x92t really think that if Philip was capable of acting in such
an atrocious way, that papa would not find it out, and the other doctor
too?\x94

\x93What! when that man gets I don\x92t know how many guineas from mamma every
time he comes, do you think that it is for his interest that I should
get well?\x94

\x93My dear Fred,\x94 interposed his sister, \x93you are exciting yourself, and
that is so very bad for you.\x94

\x93I do assure you, Henrietta, you would find it very little exciting to
be shut up in this room with half a teaspoonful of wishy-washy pudding
twice a day, and all just to fill Philip Carey\x92s pockets! Now, there was
old Clarke at Rocksand, he had some feeling for one, poor old fellow;
but this man, not the slightest compunction has he; and I am ready to
kick him out of the room when I hear that silky voice of his trying
to be gen-tee-eel, and condoling; and those boots--O! Busy Bee! those
boots! whenever he makes a step I always hear them say, \x91O what a pretty
fellow I am!\x92\x94

\x93You seem to be very merry here, my dears,\x94 said Aunt Mary, coming in;
\x93but I am afraid you will tire yourself, Freddy; I heard your voice even
before I opened the door.\x94

Fred was silent, a little ashamed, for he had sense enough not
absolutely to believe all that he had been saying, and his mother,
sitting down, began to talk to the visitor, \x93Well, my little Queen, we
have seen very little of you of late, but we shall be very sorry to lose
you. I suppose your mamma will have all your letters, and Henrietta must
not expect any, but we shall want very much to know how you get on with
Aunt Susan and her little dog.\x94

\x93O very well, I dare say,\x94 said Beatrice, rather absently, for she was
looking at her aunt\x92s delicate fragile form, and thinking of what her
father had been saying.

\x93And Queenie,\x94 continued her aunt, earnestly, \x93you must take great
care of your papa--make him rest, and listen to your music, and read
story-books instead of going back to his work all the evening.\x94

\x93To be sure I shall, Aunt Mary, as much as I possibly can.\x94

\x93But Bee,\x94 said Fred, \x93you don\x92t mean that you are going to be shut up
with that horrid Lady Susan all this time? Why don\x92t you stay here, and
let her take care of herself?\x94

\x93Mamma would not like that; and besides, to do her justice, she is
really ill, Fred,\x94 said Beatrice.

\x93It is too bad, now I am just getting better--if they would let me, I
mean,\x94 said Fred: \x93just when I could enjoy having you, and now there you
go off to that old woman. It is a downright shame.\x94

\x93So it is, Fred,\x94 said Queen Bee gaily, but not coquettishly, as once
she would have answered him, \x93a great shame in you not to have learned
to feel for other people, now you know what it is to be ill yourself.\x94

\x93That is right, Bee,\x94 said Aunt Mary, smiling; \x93tell him he ought to
be ashamed of having monopolized you all so long, and spoilt all the
comfort of your household. I am sure I am,\x94 added she, her eyes filling
with tears, as she affectionately patted Beatrice\x92s hand.

Queen Bee\x92s heart was very full, but she knew that to give way to
the expression of her feelings would be hurtful to Fred, and she only
pressed her aunt\x92s long thin fingers very earnestly, and turned her face
to the fire, while she struggled down the rising emotion. There was
a little silence, and when they began to talk again, it was of the
engravings at which Fred had just been looking. The visit lasted till
the dressing bell rang, when Beatrice was obliged to go, and she shook
hands with Fred, saying cheerfully, \x93Well, good-bye, I hope you will be
better friends with the doctors next time I see you.\x94

\x93Never will I like one inch of a doctor, never!\x94 repeated Fred, as she
left the room, and ran to snatch what moments she could with her mamma
in the space allowed for dressing.

Grandmamma was happy that evening, for, except poor Frederick\x92s own
place, there were no melancholy gaps at the dinner-table. He had Bennet
to sit with him, and besides, there was within call the confidential old
man-servant, who had lived so many years at Rocksand, and in whom both
Fred and his mother placed considerable dependence.

Everything looked like recovery; Mrs. Frederick Langford came down and
talked and smiled like her own sweet self; Mrs. Geoffrey Langford was
ready to hear all the news, old Mr. Langford was quite in spirits again,
Henrietta was bright and lively. The thought of long days in London with
Lady Susan, and of long evenings with no mamma, and with papa either
writing or at his chambers, began from force of contrast to seem doubly
like banishment to poor little Queen Bee, but whatever faults she had,
she was no repiner. \x93I deserve it,\x94 said she to herself, \x93and surely
I ought to bear my share of the trouble my wilfulness has occasioned.
Besides, with even one little bit of papa\x92s company I am only too well
off.\x94

So she smiled, and answered grandpapa in her favourite style, so that no
one would have guessed from her demeanour that a task had been imposed
upon her which she so much disliked, and in truth her thoughts were
much more on others than on herself. She saw all hopeful and happy about
Fred, and as to her aunt, when she saw her as usual with all her playful
gentleness, she could not think that there was anything seriously
amiss with her, or if there was, mamma would find out and set it all to
rights. Then how soothing and comforting, now that the first acute pain
of remorse was over, was that affectionate kindness, which, in every
little gesture and word, Aunt Mary had redoubled to her ever since the
accident.

Fred was all this time lying on his sofa, very glad to rest after so
much talking: weak, dizzy, and languid, and throwing all the blame of
his uncomfortable sensations on Philip Carey and the starvation system,
but still, perhaps, not without thoughts of a less discontented nature,
for when Mr. Geoffrey Langford came to help him to bed, he said, as
he watched the various arrangements his uncle was for the last time
sedulously making for his comfort, \x93Uncle Geoffrey, I ought to thank you
very much; I am afraid I have been a great plague to you.\x94

Perhaps Fred did not say this in all sincerity, for any one but Uncle
Geoffrey would have completely disowned the plaguing, and he fully
expected him to do so; but his uncle had a stern regard for truth,
coupled with a courtesy which left it no more harshness than was
salutary.

\x93Anything for your good, my dear sir,\x94 said he, with a smile. \x93You are
welcome to plague me as much as you like, only remember that your mamma
is not quite so tough.\x94

\x93Well, I do try to be considerate about her,\x94 said Fred. \x93I mean to make
her rest as much as possible; Henrietta and I have been settling how to
save her.\x94

\x93You could save her more than all, Fred, if you would spare her
discussions.\x94

Fred held his tongue, for though his memory was rather cloudy about the
early part of his illness, he did remember having seen her look greatly
harassed one day lately when he had been arguing against Philip Carey.

Uncle Geoffrey proceeded to gather up some of the outlines which
Henrietta had left on the sofa. \x93I like those very much,\x94 said Fred,
\x93especially the Fight with the Dragon.\x94

\x93You know Schiller\x92s poem on it?\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey.

\x93Yes, Henrietta has it in German.\x94

\x93Well, it is what I should especially recommend to your consideration.\x94

\x93I am afraid it will be long enough before I am able to go out on a
dragon-killing expedition,\x94 said Fred, with a weary helpless sigh.

\x93Fight the dragon at home, then, Freddy. Now is the time for--


     \x91The duty hardest to fulfil,
     To learn to yield our own self-will.\x92\x94


\x93There is very little hasty pudding in the case,\x94 said Fred, rather
disconsolately, and at the same time rather drolly, and with a sort of
resolution of this kind, \x93I will try then, I will not bother mamma, let
that Carey serve me as he may. I will not make a fuss, if I can help it,
unless he is very unreasonable indeed, and when I get well I will submit
to be coddled in an exemplary manner; I only wonder when I shall feel up
to anything again! O! what a nuisance it is to have this swimming head
and aching knees, all by the fault of that Carey!\x94

Uncle Geoffrey said no more, for he thought a hint often was more useful
than a lecture, even if Fred had been in a state for the latter, and
besides he was in greater request than ever on this last evening, so
much so that it seemed as if no one was going to spare him even to have
half an hour\x92s talk with his wife. He did find the time for this at
last, however, and his first question was, \x93What do you think of the
little Bee?\x94

\x93I think with great hope, much more satisfactorily than I have been able
to do for some time past,\x94 was the answer.

\x93Poor child, she has felt it very deeply,\x94 said he, \x93I have been grieved
to have so little time to bestow on her.\x94

\x93I am disposed to think,\x94 said Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, thoughtfully,
\x93that it was the best thing for her to be thrown on herself. Too much
talk has always been the mischief with her, as with many another only
child, and it struck me to-day as a very good sign that she said so
little. There was something very touching in the complete absence of
moralizing to-day.\x94

\x93None of her sensible sayings,\x94 said her father, with a gratified though
a grave smile. \x93It was perfectly open confession, and yet with no self
in it. Ever since the accident there has been a staidness and sedateness
about her manner which seemed like great improvement, as far as I have
seen. And when it was proposed for her to go to Lady Susan, I was much
pleased with her, she was so simple: \x91Very well,\x92 she said, \x91I hope I
shall be able to make her comfortable:\x92 no begging off, no heroism. And
really, Beatrice, don\x92t you think we could make some other arrangement?
It is too great a penance for her, poor child. Lady Susan will do very
well, and I can have an eye to her; I am much inclined to leave the poor
little Queen here with you.\x94

\x93No, no, Geoffrey,\x94 said his wife, \x93that would never do: I do not mean
on my aunt\x92s account, but on the Busy Bee\x92s; I am sure, wish it as we
may,\x94 and the tears were in her eyes, \x93this is no time for even the
semblance of neglecting a duty for her sake.\x94

\x93Not so much hers as yours,\x94 said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, \x93you have more
on your hands than I like to leave you alone to encounter, and she is a
valuable little assistant. Besides you have been without her so long, it
is your turn to keep her now.\x94

\x93No, no, no,\x94 she repeated, though not without an effort, \x93it is best as
it is settled for all, and decidedly so for me, for with her to write
to me about you every day, and to look after you, I shall be a hundred
times more at ease than if I thought you were working yourself to death
with no one to remonstrate.\x94

So it remained as before decided, and the pain that the decision cost
both mother and daughter was only to be inferred by the way in which
they kept close together, as if determined not to lose unnecessarily one
fragment of each other\x92s company; but they had very few moments alone
together, and those were chiefly employed in practical matters, in
minute directions as to the little things that conduced to keep Lady
Susan in good humour, and above all, the arrangements for papa\x92s
comfort. There was thus not much time for Beatrice to spend with
Henrietta, nor indeed would much have resulted if there had been more.
As she grew more at ease about her brother, Henrietta had gradually
resumed her usual manner, and was now as affectionate to Beatrice as
ever, but she was quite unconscious of her previous unkindness, and
therefore made no attempt to atone for it. Queen Bee had ceased to think
of it, and if a reserve had grown up between the two girls, they neither
of them perceived it.

Mr. Geoffrey Langford and his daughter set out on their return to London
so early the next morning that hardly any of the family were up; but
their hurried breakfast in the grey of morning was enlivened by Alex,
who came in just in time to exchange some last words with Uncle Geoffrey
about his school work, and to wish Queen Bee good-bye, with hopes of a
merrier meeting next summer.



CHAPTER XVI.



Mrs. Geoffrey Langford had from the first felt considerable anxiety
for her sister-in-law, who, though cheerful as ever, began at length to
allow that she felt worn out, and consented to spare herself more than
she had hitherto done. The mischief was, however, not to be averted, and
after a few days of increasing languor, she was attacked by a severe
fit of the spasms, to which she had for several years been subject at
intervals, and was obliged to confine herself entirely to her own room,
relying with complete confidence on her sister for the attendance on her
son.

It was to her, however, that Mrs. Geoffrey Langford wished most to
devote herself; viewing her case with more uneasiness than that of
Frederick, who was decidedly on the fair road to convalescence; and she
only gave him as much time as was necessary to satisfy his mother, and
to superintend the regulation of his room. He had all the society he
wanted in his sister, who was always with him, and in grandpapa and
grandmamma, whose short and frequent visits he began greatly to
enjoy. He had also been more amenable to authority of late, partly in
consequence of his uncle\x92s warning, partly because it was not quite so
easy to torment an aunt as a mother, and partly too because, excepting
always the starving system, he had nothing in particular of which to
complain. His mother\x92s illness might also have its effect in subduing
him; but it did not dwell much on his spirits, or Henrietta\x92s, as they
were too much accustomed to her ill health to be easily alarmed on her
account.

It was the last day of the holidays, and Alexander was to come late in
the afternoon--Fred\x92s best time in the day--to take his leave. All the
morning Fred was rather out of spirits, and talked to Henrietta a good
deal about his school life. It might have been a melancholy day if he
had been going back to school, but it was more sad to be obliged to stay
away from the world where he had hitherto been measuring his powers, and
finding his most exciting interests. It was very mortifying to be
thus laid helplessly aside; a mere nobody, instead of an important and
leading member of a community; at such an age too that it was probable
that he would never return there again.

He began to describe to Henrietta all the scenes where he would be
missing, but not missed; the old cathedral town, with its nest of trees,
and the chalky hills; the quiet river creeping through the meadows:
the \x93beech-crowned steep,\x94 girdled in with the \x93hollow trench that the
Danish pirate made;\x94 the old collegiate courts, the painted windows of
the chapel, the surpliced scholars,--even the very shops in the streets
had their part in his description: and then falling into silence he
sighed at the thought that there he would be known no more,--all would
go on as usual, and after a few passing inquiries and expressions of
compassion, he would be forgotten; his rivals would pass him in the race
of distinction; his school-boy career be at an end.

His reflections were interrupted by Mrs. Langford\x92s entrance with Aunt
Geoffrey, bringing a message of invitation from grandpapa to Henrietta,
to walk with him to Sutton Leigh. She went; and Aunt Geoffrey, after
putting a book within Fred\x92s reach, and seeing that he and grandmamma
were quite willing to be companionable, again returned to his mother.

Mrs. Langford thought him low and depressed, and began talking about his
health, and the present mode of treatment,--a subject on which they were
perfectly agreed: one being as much inclined to bestow a good diet as
the other could be to receive it. If his head was still often painfully
dizzy and confused; if his eyes dazzled when he attempted to read for
a long time together; if he could not stand or walk across the room
without excessive giddiness--what was that but the effect of want of
nourishment? \x93If there was a craving, that was a sure sign that the
thing was wholesome.\x94 So she said, and her grandson assented with his
whole heart.

In a few minutes she left the room, and presently returned with a most
tempting-looking glass of clear amber-coloured jelly.

\x93O, grandmamma!\x94 said Fred, doubtfully, though his eyes positively
lighted up at the sight.

\x93Yes, my dear, I had it made for your mamma, and she says it is very
good. It is as clear as possible, and quite innocent; I am sure it must
do you good.\x94

\x93Thank you! O, thank you! It does look very nice,\x94 said Fred, gazing on
it with wistful eyes, \x93but really I do not think I ought.\x94

\x93If it was to do you any harm, I am sure I should not think of such a
thing,\x94 said Mrs. Langford. \x93But I have lived a good many more years in
the world than these young people, and I never saw any good come of all
this keeping low. There was old Mr. Hilton, now, that attended all the
neighbourhood round when I was a girl; he kept you low enough while the
fever was on you, but as soon as it was gone, why then reinvigorate the
system,--that was what he used to say.\x94

\x93Just like old Clarke, of Rocksand!\x94 sighed Fred. \x93I know my system
would like nothing better than to be re-invigorated with that splendid
stuff; but you would know it would put them all in a dreadful state if
they knew it.\x94

\x93Never mind,\x94 said grandmamma; \x93\x91tis all my doing, you know. Come, to
oblige me, taste it, my dear.\x94

\x93One spoonful,\x94 said Fred--\x93to oblige grandmamma,\x94 added he to himself:
and he let grandmamma lift him on the cushions as far as he could
bear to have his head raised. He took the spoonful, then started a
little,--\x93There is wine in it!\x94 said he.

\x93A very little--just enough to give it a flavour; it cannot make any
difference. Do you like it, my dear?\x94 as the spoon scooped out another
transparent rock. \x93Ay, that is right! I had the receipt from my old Aunt
Kitty, and nobody ever could make it like Judith.\x94

\x93I am in for it now,\x94 thought Fred. \x93Well, \x91tis excellent,\x94 said he;
\x93capital stuff! I feel it all down to my fingers\x92 ends,\x94 added he with a
smile, as he returned the glass, after fishing in vain for the particles
remaining in the small end.

\x93That is right; I am so glad to see you enjoy it!\x94 said grandmamma,
hurrying off with the empty glass with speed at which Fred smiled, as it
implied some fears of meeting Aunt Geoffrey. He knew the nature of
his own case sufficiently to be aware that he had acted very
imprudently,--that is to say, his better sense was aware--but his spirit
of self-will made him consider all these precautions as nonsense, and
was greatly confirmed by his feeling himself much more fresh and lively.
Grandmamma returned to announce Alexander and Willy, who soon followed
her, and after shaking hands, stood silent, much shocked at the
alteration in Fred\x92s appearance.

This impression, however, soon passed off, as Fred began to talk over
school affairs in a very animated manner; sending messages to his
friends, discussing the interests of the coming half-year, the games,
the studies, the employments; Alex lamenting Fred\x92s absence, engaging
to write, undertaking numerous commissions, and even prognosticating his
speedy recovery, and attainment of that cynosure,--the prize. Never had
the two cousins met so cordially, or so enjoyed their meeting. There was
no competition; each could afford to do the other justice, and both
felt great satisfaction in doing so; and so high and even so loud
became their glee, that Alex could scarcely believe that Fred was not
in perfect health. At last Aunt Geoffrey came to put an end to it;
and finding Fred so much excited, she made Alex bring his blunt honest
farewells and good wishes to a speedy conclusion, desired Fred to lie
quiet and rest, and sat down herself to see that he did so.

Fred could not easily be brought to repose; he went on talking fast and
eagerly in praise of Alex, and in spite of her complete assent, he went
on more and more vehemently, just as if he was defending Alex from some
one who wanted to detract from his merits. She tried reading to him, but
he grew too eager about the book; and at last she rather advanced the
time for dressing for dinner, both for herself and Henrietta, and
sent Bennet to sit with him, hoping thus perforce to reduce him to a
quiescent state. He was by this means a little calmed for the rest of
the evening; but so wakeful and restless a night ensued, that he began
to be alarmed, and fully came to the conclusion that Philip Carey was
in the right after all. Towards morning, however, a short sleep
visited him, and he awoke at length quite sufficiently refreshed to be
self-willed as ever; and, contrary to advice, insisted on leaving his
bed at his usual hour.

Philip Carey came at about twelve o\x92clock, and was disappointed as well
as surprised to find him so much more languid and uncomfortable, as
he could not help allowing that he felt. His pulse, too, was
unsatisfactory; but Philip thought the excitement of the interview
with Alex well accounted for the sleepless night, as well as for the
exhaustion of the present day: and Fred persuaded himself to believe so
too.

Henrietta did not like to leave him to-day, but she was engaged to take
a ride with grandpapa, who felt as if the little Mary of years long gone
by was restored to him, when he had acquired a riding companion in
his granddaughter. Mrs. Langford undertook to sit with Fred, and Mrs.
Geoffrey Langford, who had been at first afraid that she would be
too bustling a nurse for him just now, seeing that he was evidently
impatient to be left alone with her, returned to Mrs. Frederick
Langford, resolving, however, not to be long absent.

In that interval Mrs. Langford brought in the inviting glass, and Fred,
in spite of his good sense, could not resist it. Perhaps the recent
irritation of Philip\x92s last visit made him more willing to act in
opposition to his orders. At any rate, he thought of little save of
swallowing it before Aunt Geoffrey should catch him in the fact, in
which he succeeded; so that grandmamma had time to get the tell-tale
glass safely into the store-closet just as Mrs. Frederick Langford\x92s
door was opened at the other end of the passage.

Fred\x92s sofa cushions were all too soft or too hard that afternoon,--too
high or too low; there was a great mountain in the middle of the sofa,
too, so that he could not lie on it comfortably. The room was chilly
though the fire was hot, and how grandmamma did poke it! Fred thought
she did nothing else the whole afternoon; and there was a certain
concluding shovel that she gave to the cinders, that very nearly put him
in a passion. Nothing would make him comfortable till Henrietta came
in, and it seemed very long before he heard the paddock gate, and the
horses\x92 feet upon the gravel. Then he grew very much provoked because
his sister went first to her mamma\x92s room; and it was grandpapa who came
to him full of a story of Henrietta\x92s good management of her horse when
they suddenly met the hounds in a narrow lane. In she came, at last, in
her habit, her hair hanging loosely round her face, her cheeks and
eyes lighted up by the exercise, and some early primroses in her hand,
begging his pardon for having kept him waiting, but saying she thought
he did not want her directly, as he had grandpapa.

Nevertheless he scolded her, ordered her specimens of the promise of
spring out of the room on an accusation of their possessing a strong
scent, made her make a complete revolution on his sofa, and then
insisted on her going on with Nicolo de Lapi, which she was translating
to him from the Italian. Warm as the room felt to her in her habit, she
sat down directly, without going to take it off; but he was not to
be thus satisfied. He found fault with her for hesitating in her
translation, and desired her to read the Italian instead; then she read
first so fast that he could not follow, and then so slowly that it was
quite unbearable, and she must go on translating. With the greatest
patience and sweetest temper she obeyed; only when next he interrupted
her to find fault, she stopped and said gently, \x93Dear Fred, I am afraid
you are not feeling so well.\x94

\x93Nonsense! What should make you think so? You think I am cross, I
suppose. Well, never mind, I will go on for myself,\x94 said he, snatching
the book.

Henrietta turned away to hide her tears, for she was too wise to
vindicate herself.

\x93Are you crying? I am sure I said nothing to cry about; I wish you would
not be so silly.\x94

\x93If you would only let me go on, dear Fred,\x94 said she, thinking that
occupying him would be better than arguing. \x93It is so dark where you
are, and I will try to get on better. There is an easier piece coming.\x94

Fred agreed, and she went on without interruption for some little time,
till at last he grew so excited by the story as to be very angry when
the failing light obliged her to pause. She tried to extract some light
from the fire, but this was a worse offence than any; it was too bad
of her, when she knew how he hated both the sound of poking, and that
horrible red flickering light which always hurt his eyes. This dislike,
which had been one of the symptoms of the early part of his illness, so
alarmed her that she had thoughts of going to call Aunt Geoffrey, and
was heartily glad to see her enter the room.

\x93Well, how are you going on?\x94 she said, cheerfully. \x93Why, my dear, how
hot you must be in that habit!\x94

\x93Rather,\x94 said poor Henrietta, whose face, between the heat and her
perplexity, was almost crimson. \x93We have been reading \x91Nicolo,\x92 and I
am very much afraid it is as bad as Alex\x92s visit, and has excited Fred
again.\x94

\x93I am quite sick of hearing that word excitement!\x94 said Fred,
impatiently.

\x93Almost as tired as of having your pulse felt,\x94 said Aunt Geoffrey. \x93But
yet I must ask you to submit to that disagreeable necessity.\x94

Fred moved pettishly, but as he could not refuse, he only told Henrietta
that he could not bear any one to look at him while his pulse was felt.

\x93Will you fetch me a candle, my dear?\x94 said Aunt Geoffrey, amazed as
well as terrified by the fearful rapidity of the throbs, and trying to
acquire sufficient composure to count them calmly. The light came, and
still she held his wrist, beginning her reckoning again and again, in
the hope that it was only some momentary agitation that had so quickened
them.

\x93What! \x91tis faster?\x94 asked Fred, speaking in a hasty alarmed tone, when
she released him at last.

\x93You are flushed, Fred,\x94 she answered very quietly, though she felt
full of consternation. \x93Yes, faster than it ought to be; I think you had
better not sit up any longer this evening, or you will sleep no better
than last night.\x94

\x93Very well,\x94 said Fred.

\x93Then I will ring for Stephens,\x94 said she.

The first thing she did on leaving his room was to go to her own, and
there write a note to young Mr. Carey, giving an account of the symptoms
that had caused her so much alarm. As she wrote them down without
exaggeration, and trying to give each its just weight, going back to
recollect the first unfavourable sign, she suddenly remembered that as
she left her sister\x92s room, she had seen Mrs. Langford, whom she had
left with Fred, at the door of the store-closet. Could she have been
giving him any of her favourite nourishing things? Mrs. Geoffrey
Langford could hardly believe that either party could have acted so
foolishly, yet when she remembered a few words that had passed about the
jelly that morning at breakfast, she could no longer doubt, and bitterly
reproached herself for not having kept up a stricter surveillance. Of
her suspicion she however said nothing, but sealing her note, she went
down to the drawing-room, told Mr. Langford that she did not think Fred
quite so well that evening, and asked him if he did not think it might
be better to let Philip Carey know. He agreed instantly, and rang the
bell to order a servant to ride to Allonfield; but Mrs. Langford, who
could not bear any one but Geoffrey to act without consulting her,
pitied man and horse for being out so late, and opined that Beatrice
forgot that she was not in London, where the medical man could be called
in so easily.

It was fortunate that it was the elder Beatrice instead of the younger,
for provoked as she already had been before with the old lady, it was
not easy even for her to make a cheerful answer. \x93Well, it is very kind
in you to attend to my London fancies,\x94 said she; \x93I think if we can do
anything to spare him such a night as the last, it should be tried.\x94

\x93Certainly, certainly,\x94 said Mr. Langford. \x93It is very disappointing
when he was going on so well. He must surely have been doing something
imprudent.\x94

It was very tempting to interrogate Mrs. Langford, but her
daughter-in-law had long since come to a resolution never to convey to
her anything like reproach, let her do what she might in her mistaken
kindness of heart, or her respectable prejudices; so, without
entering on what many in her place might have made a scene of polite
recrimination, she left the room, and on her way up, heard Frederick\x92s
door gently opened. Stephens came quickly and softly to the end of
the passage to meet her. \x93He is asking for you, ma\x92am,\x94 said he; \x93I am
afraid he is not so well; I did not like to ring, for fear of alarming
my mistress, but--\x94

Mrs. Geoffrey Langford entered the room, and found that the bustle and
exertion of being carried to his bed had brought on excessive confusion
and violent pain. He put his hand to his forehead, opened his eyes, and
looked wildly about. \x93Oh, Aunt Geoffrey,\x94 he exclaimed, \x93what shall I
do? It is as bad--worse than ever!\x94

\x93You have been doing something imprudent, I fear,\x94 said Aunt Geoffrey,
determined to come to the truth at once.

\x93Only that glass of jelly--if I had guessed!\x94

\x93Only one?\x94

\x93One to-day, one yesterday. It was grandmamma\x92s doing. Don\x92t let her
know that I told. I wish mamma was here!\x94

Aunt Geoffrey tried to relieve the pain by cold applications, but could
not succeed, and Fred grew more and more alarmed.

\x93The inflammation is coming back!\x94 he cried, in an agony of apprehension
that almost overcame the sense of pain. \x93I shall be in danger--I shall
lose my senses--I shall die! Mamma! O! where is mamma?\x94

\x93Lie still, my dear Fred,\x94 said Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, laying her hand
on him so as to restrain his struggling movements to turn round or to
sit up. \x93Resistance and agitation will hurt you more than anything else.
You must control yourself, and trust to me, and you may be sure I will
do the best in my power for you. The rest is in the hands of God.\x94

\x93Then you think me very ill?\x94 said Fred, trying to speak more
composedly.

\x93I think you will certainly make yourself very ill, unless you will
keep yourself quiet, both mind and body. There--\x94 she settled him as
comfortably as she could: \x93Now I am going away for a few minutes. Make
a resolution not to stir till I come back. Stephens is here, and I shall
soon come back.\x94

This was very unlike the way in which his mother used to beseech him as
a favour to spare her, and yet his aunt\x92s tone was so affectionate, as
well as so authoritative, that he could not feel it unkind. She left
the room, and as soon as she found herself alone in the passage, leant
against the wall and trembled, for she felt herself for a moment quite
overwhelmed, and longed earnestly for her husband to think for her,
or even for one short interval in which to reflect. For this, however,
there was no time, and with one earnest mental supplication, summoning
up her energies, she walked on to the person whom she at that moment
most dreaded to see, her sister-in-law. She found her sitting in her
arm-chair, Henrietta with her, both looking very anxious, and she was
glad to find her prepared.

\x93What is it?\x94 was the first eager question.

\x93He has been attempting rather too much of late,\x94 was the answer, \x93and
has knocked himself up. I came to tell you, because I think I had better
stay with him, and perhaps you might miss me.\x94

\x93O no, no, pray go to him. Nothing satisfies me so well about him as
that you should be there, except that I cannot bear to give you so much
trouble. Don\x92t stay here answering questions. He will be so restless if
he misses you--\x94

\x93Don\x92t you sit imagining, Mary; let Henrietta read to you.\x94

This proposal made Henrietta look so piteous and wistful that her mother
said, \x93No, no, let her go to Freddy, poor child. I dare say he wants
her.\x94

\x93By no means,\x94 said Aunt Geoffrey, opening the door; \x93he will be quieter
without her.\x94

Henrietta was annoyed, and walked about the room, instead of sitting
down to read. She was too fond of her own will to like being thus
checked, and she thought she had quite as good a right to be with her
brother as her aunt could have. Every temper has one side or other on
which it is susceptible; and this was hers. She thought it affection for
her brother, whereas it was impatience of being ordered.

Her mother forced herself to speak cheerfully. \x93Aunt Geoffrey is a
capital nurse,\x94 said she; \x93there is something so decided about her that
it always does one good. It saves all the trouble and perplexity of
thinking for oneself.\x94

\x93I had rather judge for myself,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93That is all very well to talk of,\x94 said her mother, smiling sadly, \x93but
it is a very different thing when you are obliged to do it.\x94

\x93Well, what do you like to hear?\x94 said Henrietta, who found herself too
cross for conversation. \x93The old man\x92s home?\x94

\x93Do not read unless you like it, my dear; I think you must be tired.
You would want \x91lungs of brass\x92 to go on all day to both of us. You had
better not. I should like to talk.\x94

Henrietta being in a wilful fit, chose nevertheless to read, because it
gave her the satisfaction of feeling that Aunt Geoffrey was inflicting
a hardship upon her; although her mother would have preferred
conversation. So she took up a book, and began, without any perception
of the sense of what she was reading, but her thoughts dwelling partly
on her brother, and partly on her aunt\x92s provoking ways. She read on
through a whole chapter, then closing the book hastily, exclaimed, \x93I
must go and see what Aunt Geoffrey is doing with Fred.\x94

\x93She is not such a very dangerous person,\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford,
almost laughing at the form of the expression.

\x93Well, but you surely want to know how he is, mamma?\x94

\x93To be sure I do, but I am so afraid of his being disturbed. If he was
just going to sleep now.\x94

\x93Yes, but you know how softly I can open the door.\x94

\x93Your aunt would let us know if there was anything to hear. Pray take
care, my dear.\x94

\x93I must go, I can\x92t bear it any longer; I will only just listen,\x94 said
Henrietta; \x93I will not be a moment.\x94

\x93Let me have the book, my dear,\x94 said her mother, who knew but too well
the length of Henrietta\x92s moments, and who had just, by means of a great
effort, succeeded in making herself take interest in the book.

Henrietta gave it to her, and darted off. The door of Fred\x92s room was
ajar, and she entered. Aunt Geoffrey, Bennet, and Judith were standing
round the bed, her aunt sponging away the blood that was flowing from
Frederick\x92s temples. His eyes were closed, and he now and then gave long
gasping sighs of oppression and faintness. \x93Leeches!\x94 thought Henrietta,
as she started with consternation and displeasure. \x93This is pretty
strong! Without telling me or mamma! Well, this is what I call doing
something with him indeed.\x94

She advanced to the table, but no one saw her for more than a minute,
till at last Aunt Geoffrey stepped quickly up to it in search of some
bottle.

\x93Let me do something,\x94 said Henrietta, catching up the bottle that she
thought likely to be the right one.

Her aunt looked vexed, and answered in a low quick tone, \x93You had better
stay with your mamma.\x94

\x93But why are you doing this? Is he worse? Is Mr. Philip Carey here? Has
he ordered it?\x94

\x93He is not come yet. My dear, I cannot talk to you: I should be much
obliged if you would go back to your mamma.\x94

Aunt Geoffrey went back to Fred, but a few minutes after she looked
up and still saw Henrietta standing by the table. She came up to her,
\x93Henrietta, you are of no use here; every additional person oppresses
him; your mamma must be kept tranquil. Why will you stay?\x94

\x93I was just going,\x94 said Henrietta, taking this hurrying as an
additional offence, and walking off in a dignified way.

It was hard to say what had affronted her most, the proceeding itself,
the neglect, or the commands which Aunt Geoffrey had presumed to
lay upon her, and away she went to her mamma, a great deal too much
displeased, and too distrustful to pay the smallest attention to any
precautions which her aunt might have tried to impress upon her.

\x93Well!\x94 asked her mother anxiously.

\x93She would not let me stay,\x94 answered Henrietta. \x93She has been putting
on leeches.\x94

\x93Leeches!\x94 exclaimed her mother. \x93He must be much worse. Poor fellow! Is
Mr. Carey here?\x94

\x93No, that is the odd thing.\x94

\x93Has he not been sent for?\x94

\x93I am sure I don\x92t know. Aunt Geoffrey seems to like to do things in her
own way.\x94

\x93It must be very bad indeed if she cannot venture to wait for him!\x94 said
Mrs. Frederick Langford, much alarmed.

\x93And never to tell you!\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93O, that was her consideration. She knew how foolishly anxious I should
be. I have no doubt that she is doing right. How did he seem to be?\x94

\x93Very faint, I thought,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93there seemed to be a great
deal of bleeding, but Aunt Geoffrey would not let me come near.\x94

\x93She knows exactly what to do,\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford. \x93How well
it was that she should be here.\x94

Henrietta began to be so fretted at her mother\x92s complete confidence in
her aunt, that without thinking of the consequences she tried to argue
it away. \x93Aunt Geoffrey is so quick--she does things without half the
consideration other people do. And she likes to settle everything.\x94

But happily the confiding friendship of a lifetime was too strong to be
even harassed for a moment by the petulant suspicions of an angry girl.

\x93My dear, if you were not vexed and anxious, I should tell you that you
were speaking very improperly of your aunt. I am perfectly satisfied
that she is doing what is right by dear Fred, as well as by me; and if I
am satisfied, no one else has any right to object.\x94

There was nothing left for Henrietta in her present state of spirits but
to have a hearty cry, one of the best possible ways she could find of
distressing her mother, who all the time was suffering infinitely more
than she could imagine from her fears, her efforts to silence them, and
the restraint which she was exercising upon herself, longing as she did
to fly to her son\x92s room, to see with her own eyes, and only detained by
the fear that her sudden appearance there might agitate him. The
tears, whatever might be their effect upon her, did Henrietta good, and
restored her to something more like her proper senses. She grew rather
alarmed, too, when she saw her mamma\x92s pale looks, as she leant back
almost exhausted with anxiety and repressed agitation.

Mrs. Langford came up to bring them some tea, and she, having little
idea of the real state of things, took so encouraging a view as to cheer
them both, and her visit did much service at least to Henrietta. Then
they heard sounds announcing Philip Carey\x92s arrival, and presently after
in came Bennet with a message from Mr. Frederick that he was better, and
that his mother was not to be frightened. At last came Aunt Geoffrey,
saying, \x93Well, Mary, he is better. I have been very sorry to leave you
so long, and I believe Henrietta,\x94 looking at her with a smile, \x93thinks
I have used you very ill.\x94

\x93I believe she did,\x94 said her mother, \x93but I was sure you would do
right; you say he is better? Let me hear.\x94

\x93Much better; only--. But Mary, you look quite worn out, you should go
to bed.\x94

\x93Let me hear about him first.\x94

Aunt Geoffrey accordingly told the whole history, as, perhaps, every one
would not have told it, for one portion of it in some degree justified
Henrietta\x92s opinion that she had been doing a great deal on her own
responsibility. It had been very difficult to stop the bleeding, and
Fred, already very weak, had been so faint and exhausted that she had
felt considerable alarm, and was much rejoiced by the arrival of Philip
Carey, who had not been at home when the messenger reached his house.
Now, however, all was well; he had fully approved all that she had done,
and, although she did not repeat this to Mrs. Frederick Langford,
had pronounced that her promptitude and energy had probably saved the
patient\x92s life. Fred, greatly relieved, had fallen asleep, and she had
now come, with almost an equal sense of relief, to tell his mother all
that had passed, and ask her pardon.

\x93Nay, Beatrice, what do you mean by that? Is it not what you and
Geoffrey have always done to treat him as your own son instead of mine?
and is it not almost my chief happiness to feel assured that you always
will do so? You know that is the reason I never thank you.\x94

Henrietta hung her head, and felt that she had been very unjust and
ungrateful, more especially when her aunt said, \x93You thought it very
hard to have your mouth stopped, Henrietta, my dear, and I was sorry for
it, but I had not much time to be polite.\x94

\x93I am sorry I was in the way,\x94 said she, an acknowledgment such as she
had seldom made.

Fred awoke the next morning much better, though greatly fallen back in
his progress towards recovery, but his mother had during the night the
worst fit of spasms from which she had ever suffered.

But Henrietta thought it all so well accounted for by all the agitations
of the evening before, that there was no reason for further anxiety.

It was a comfort to Aunt Geoffrey, who took it rather more seriously,
that she received that morning a letter from her husband, concluding,

\x93As to the Queen Bee, I have no doubt that you can judge of her frame
better from the tone of her letters than from anything I have to tell.
I think her essentially improved and improving, and you will think I
do not speak without warrant, when I tell you that Lady Susan expressed
herself quite warmly respecting her this morning. She continues to
imagine that she has the charge of Queen Bee, and not Queen Bee of her,
and I think it much that she has been allowed to continue in the belief.
Lady Amelia comes to-morrow, and then I hope the poor little woman\x92s
penance may be over, for though she makes no complaints, there is no
doubt that it is a heavy one, as her thorough enjoyment of a book, and
an hour\x92s freedom from that little gossiping flow of plaintive talk
sufficiently testify.\x94



CHAPTER XVII.



Frederick had lost much ground, and yet on the whole his relapse was of
no slight service to him. In the earlier part of his illness he had been
so stupefied by the accident, that he had neither been conscious of his
danger, nor was able to preserve any distinct remembrance of what he
had suffered. But this return to his former state, with all his senses
perfect, made him realise the rest, and begin to perceive how near to
the grave he had been brought. A deep shuddering sense of awe came over
him, as he thought what it would have been to die then, without a minute
of clear recollection, and his last act one of wilful disobedience. And
how had he requited the mercy which had spared him? He had shown as much
of that same spirit of self-will as his feebleness would permit; he had
been exacting, discontented, rebellious, and well indeed had he deserved
to be cut off in the midst of the sin in which he had persisted.

He was too weak to talk, but his mind was wide awake; and many an
earnest thanksgiving, and resolution strengthened by prayer, were made
in silence during the two or three days that passed, partly in such
thoughts as these, and for many hours more in sleep; while sometimes
his aunt, sometimes his sister, and sometimes even Bennet, sat by his
bed-side unchidden for not being \x93mamma.\x94

\x93Above all,\x94 said he to himself, \x93he would for the future devote
himself, to make up to her for all that he had caused her to suffer for
his sake. Even if he were never to mount a horse or fire a gun for the
rest of his life, what would such a sacrifice be for such a mother?\x94 It
was very disappointing that, at present, all he could even attempt to do
for her was to send her messages--and affection does not travel well by
message,--and at the same time to show submission to her known
wishes. And after all, it would have been difficult not to have shown
submission, for Aunt Geoffrey, as he already felt, was not a person to
be argued with, but to be obeyed; and for very shame he could not have
indulged himself in his Philippics after the proof he had experienced of
their futility.

So, partly on principle, and partly from necessity, he ceased to
grumble, and from that time forth it was wonderful how much less
unpleasant even external things appeared, and how much his health
benefited by the tranquillity of spirits thus produced. He was willing
to be pleased with all that was done with that intent; and as he grew
better, it certainly was a strange variety with which he had to be
amused throughout the day. Very good naturedly he received all such
civilities, especially when Willy brought him a bottle of the first live
sticklebacks of the season, accompanied by a message from Arthur that he
hoped soon to send him a basin of tame tadpoles,--and when John rushed
up with a basket of blind young black satin puppies, their mother
following in a state of agitation only equalled by that of Mrs. Langford
and Judith.

Willy, a nice intelligent little fellow, grew very fond of him, and
spent much time with him, taking delight in his books and prints, beyond
what could have been thought possible in one of the Sutton Leigh party.

When he was strong enough to guide a pencil or pen, a very enjoyable
correspondence commenced between him and his mother, who was still
unable to leave her apartment; and hardly any one ever passed between
the two rooms without being the bearer of some playful greeting, or
droll descriptions of the present scene and occupation, chronicles of
the fashionable arrivals of the white clouds before the window, of
a bunch of violets, or a new book; the fashionable departure of the
headache, the fire, or a robin; notices that tom-tits were whetting
their saws on the next tree, or of the domestic proceedings of the rooks
who were building their house opposite to Mrs. Frederick Langford\x92s
window, and whom she watched so much that she was said to be in a fair
way of solving the problem of how many sticks go to a crow\x92s nest;
criticisms of the books read by each party, and very often a reference
to that celebrated billet, unfortunately delivered over night to Prince
Talleyrand, informing him that his devoted friend had scarcely closed
her eyes all night, and then only to dream of him!

Henrietta grew very happy. She had her brother again, as wholly hers
as in their younger days,--depending upon her, participating in all her
pleasures, or rather giving her favourite occupations double zest,
by their being for him, for his amusement. She rode and walked in the
beautiful open spring country with grandpapa, to whom she was a most
valuable companion; and on her return she had two to visit, both of whom
looked forward with keen interest and delight to hearing her histories
of down and wood, of field and valley, of farm-house, cottage, or
school; had a laugh for the least amusing circumstance, admiration
for the spring flower or leaf, and power to follow her descriptions of
budding woods, soft rising hills, and gorgeous sunsets. How her mamma
enjoyed comparing notes with her about those same woods and dells, and
would describe the adventures of her own youth! And now it might be
noticed that she did not avoid speaking of those in which Henrietta\x92s
father had been engaged; nay, she dwelt on them by preference, and
without the suppressed sigh which had formerly followed anything like
a reference to him. Sometimes she would smile to identify the bold open
down with the same where she had run races with him, and even laugh to
think of the droll adventures. Sometimes the shady woodland walk would
make her describe their nutting parties, or it would bring her thoughts
to some fit of childish mischief and concealment, and to the confession
to which his bolder and more upright counsel had at length led her.
Or she would tell of the long walks they had taken together when older
grown, when each had become prime counsellor and confidante of the
other; and the interests and troubles of home and of school were poured
out to willing ears, and sympathy and advice exchanged. How Fred and
Mary had been companions from the very first, how their love had grown
up unconsciously, in the sports in the sunny fields, shady coombs, and
green woods of their home: how it had strengthened and ripened with
advancing years, and how bright and unclouded their sunshine had been
to dwell on: this was her delight, while the sadness which once spoke of
crushed hopes, and lost happiness, had gone from her smile. It was as if
she still felt herself walking in the light of his love, and at the same
time, as if she wished to show him to his daughter as he was, and to
tell Henrietta of those words and those ways of his which were most
characteristic, and which used to be laid up so fast in her heart,
that she could never have borne to speak of them. The bitterness of his
death, as it regarded herself, seemed to have passed, the brightness of
his memory alone remaining. Henrietta loved to listen, but scarcely so
much as her mother loved to tell; and instead of agitating her, these
recollections always seemed to soothe and make her happy.

Henrietta knew that Aunt Geoffrey and grandpapa were both of them
anxious about her mother\x92s health, but for her own part she did not
think her worse than she had often been before; and whilst she continued
in nearly the same state, rose every day, sat in her arm-chair, and was
so cheerful, and even lively, there could not be very much amiss, even
though there was no visible progress in amendment. Serious complaint
there was, as she knew of old, to cause the spasms; but it had existed
so long, that after the first shock of being told of it two years ago,
she had almost ceased to think about it. She satisfied herself to her
own mind that it could not, should not be progressing, and that this was
only a very slow recovery from the last attack.

Time went on, and a shade began to come over Fred. He was bright and
merry when anything occurred to amuse him, did not like reading less, or
take less interest in his occupations; but in the intervals of quiet
he grew grave and almost melancholy, and his inquiries after his mother
grew minute and anxious.

\x93Henrietta,\x94 said he, one day when they were alone together, \x93I was
trying to reckon how long it is since I have seen mamma.\x94

\x93O, I think she will come and see you in a few days more,\x94 said
Henrietta.

\x93You have told me that so many times,\x94 said Fred. \x93I think I must try to
get to her. That passage, if it was not so very long! If Uncle Geoffrey
comes on Saturday, I am sure he can manage to take me there.\x94

\x93It will be a festival day indeed when you meet!\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93Yes,\x94 said he thoughtfully. Then returning to the former subject, \x93But
how long is it, Henrietta? This is the twenty-seventh of March, is it
not?\x94

\x93Yes; a whole quarter of a year you have been laid up here.\x94

\x93It was somewhere about the beginning of February that Uncle Geoffrey
went.\x94

\x93The fourth,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93And it was three days after he went away that mamma had those first
spasms. Henrietta, she has been six weeks ill!\x94

\x93Well,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93you know she was five weeks without stirring
out of the room, that last time she was ill at Rocksand, and she is
getting better.\x94

\x93I don\x92t think it is getting better,\x94 said Fred. \x93You always say so, but
I don\x92t think you have anything to show for it.\x94

\x93You might say the same for yourself,\x94 said Henrietta, laughing. \x93You
have been getting better these three months, poor man, and you need not
boast.\x94

\x93Well, at least I can show something for it,\x94 said Fred; \x93they allow
me a lark\x92s diet instead of a wren\x92s, I can hold up my head like other
people now, and I actually made my own legs and the table\x92s carry me
to the window yesterday, which is what I call getting on. But I do not
think it is so with mamma. A fortnight ago she used to be up by ten or
eleven o\x92clock; now I don\x92t believe she ever is till one.\x94

\x93It has been close, damp weather,\x94 said Henrietta, surprised at the
accurate remembrance, which she could not confute. \x93She misses the cold
bracing wind.\x94

\x93I don\x92t like it,\x94 said Fred, growing silent, and after a short interval
beginning again more earnestly, \x93Henrietta, neither you nor any one else
are keeping anything from me, I trust?\x94

\x93O, no, no!\x94 said Henrietta, eagerly.

\x93You are quite sure?\x94

\x93Quite,\x94 responded she. \x93You know all I know, every bit; and I know all
Aunt Geoffrey does, I am sure I do, for she always tells me what Mr.
Philip Carey says. I have heard Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey both say strong
things about keeping people in the dark, and I am convinced they would
not do so.\x94

\x93I don\x92t think they would,\x94 said Fred; \x93but I am not satisfied.
Recollect and tell me clearly, are they convinced that this is only
recovering slowly--I do not mean that; I know too well that this is not
a thing to be got rid of; but do they think that she is going to be as
well as usual?\x94

\x93I do,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93and you know I am more used to her illness than
any of them. Bennet and I were agreeing to-day that, considering how
bad the spasms were, and how much fatigue she had been going through, we
could not expect her to get on faster.\x94

\x93You do? But that is not Aunt Geoffrey.\x94

\x93O! Aunt Geoffrey is anxious, and expected her to get on faster, just
like Busy Bee expecting everything to be so quick; but I am sure
you could not get any more information from her than from me, and
impressions--I am sure you may trust mine, used as I am to watch mamma.\x94

Fred asked no more; but it was observable that from that day he never
lost one of his mother\x92s little notes, placing them as soon as read in
his pocket-book, and treasuring them carefully. He also begged Henrietta
to lend him a miniature of her mother, taken at the time of her
marriage. It represented her in all her youthful loveliness, with the
long ringlets and plaits of dark brown hair hanging on her neck, the
arch suppressed smile on her lips, and the laughing light in her deep
blue eye. He looked at it for a little while, and then asked Henrietta
if she thought that she could find, among the things sent from Rocksand
which had not yet been unpacked, another portrait, taken in the earlier
months of her widowhood, when she had in some partial degree recovered
from her illness, but her life seemed still to hang on a thread. Mrs.
Vivian, at whose especial desire it had been taken, had been very fond
of it, and had always kept it in her room, and Fred was very anxious to
see it again. After a long search, with Bennet\x92s help, Henrietta found
it, and brought it to him. Thin, wan, and in the deep black garments,
there was much more general resemblance to her present appearance in
this than in the portrait of the beautiful smiling bride. \x93And yet,\x94
 said Fred, as he compared them, \x93do not you think, Henrietta, that there
is more of mamma in the first?\x94

\x93I see what you mean,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93You know it is by a much better
artist.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said he, \x93the other is like enough in feature,--more so certainly
to anything we have ever seen: but what a difference! And yet what is
it? Look! Her eyes generally have something melancholy in their look,
and yet I am sure those bright happy ones put me much more in mind of
hers than these, looking so weighed down with sorrow. And the sweet
smile, that is quite her own!\x94

\x93If you could but see her now, Fred,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93I think you would
indeed say so. She has now and then a beautiful little pink flush, that
lights up her eyes as well as her cheeks; and when she smiles and talks
about those old times with papa, she does really look just like the
miniature, all but her thinness.\x94

\x93I do not half like to hear of all that talking about my father,\x94
 murmured Fred to himself as he leant back. Henrietta at first opened her
eyes; then a sudden perception of his meaning flashed over her, and she
began to speak of something else as fast as she could.

Uncle Geoffrey came on Saturday afternoon, and after paying a
minute\x92s visit to Fred, had a conference of more than an hour with his
sister-in-law. Fred did not seem pleased with his sister\x92s information
that \x93it was on business,\x94 and only was in a slight degree reassured by
being put in mind that there was always something to settle at Lady-day.
Henrietta thought her uncle looked grave; and as she was especially
anxious to prevent either herself or Fred from being frightened, she
would not leave him alone in Fred\x92s room, knowing full well that
no questions would be asked except in private--none at least of the
description which she dreaded.

All Fred attempted was the making his long-mediated request that he
might visit his mother, and Uncle Geoffrey undertook to see whether it
was possible. Numerous messages passed, and at length it was arranged
that on Sunday, just before afternoon service, when the house was quiet,
his uncle should help him to her room, where his aunt would read to them
both.

Frederick made quite a preparation for what was to him a great
undertaking. He sat counting the hours all the morning; and when at
length the time arrived, his heart beat so violently, that it seemed to
take away all the little strength he had. His uncle came in, but waited
a few moments; then said, with some hesitation, \x93Fred, you must be
prepared to see her a good deal altered.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Fred, impatiently.

\x93And take the greatest care not to agitate her. Can you be trusted? I do
not ask it for your own sake.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Fred, resolutely.

\x93Then come.\x94

And in process of time Fred was at her door. There he quitted his
uncle\x92s arm, and came forward alone to the large easy chair where she
sat by the fire-side. She started joyfully forward, and soon he was on
one knee before her, her arms round his neck, her tears dropping on
his face, and a quiet sense of excessive happiness felt by both. Then
rising, he sank back into another great chair, which his sister had
arranged for him close to hers, and too much out of breath to speak, he
passively let Henrietta make him comfortable there; while holding his
mother\x92s hand, he kept his eyes fixed upon her, and she, anxious only
for him, patted his cushions, offered her own, and pushed her footstool
towards him.

A few words passed between Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey Langford outside the
door.

\x93I still think it a great risk,\x94 said she.

\x93But I should not feel justified in preventing it,\x94 was his answer,
\x93only do not leave them long alone.\x94 Then opening the door he called,
\x93Henrietta, there is the last bell.\x94 And Henrietta, much against her
will, was obliged to go with him to Church.

\x93Good-bye, my dear,\x94 said her mother. \x93Think of us prisoners in the
right way at Church, and not in the wrong one.\x94

Strangely came the sound of the Church bell to their ears through the
window, half open to admit the breezy breath of spring; the cawing of
the rooks and the song of the blackbird came with it; the sky was clear
and blue, the buds were bursting into life.

\x93How very lovely it is!\x94 added she.

Fred made a brief reply, but without turning his head to the window. His
eyes, his thoughts, his whole soul, were full of the contemplation of
what was to him a thousand times more lovely,--that frail wasted form,
namely, whose hand he held. The delicate pink colour which Henrietta had
described was on her cheek, contrasting with the ivory whiteness of the
rest of her face; the blue eyes shone with a sweet subdued brightness
under their long black lashes; the lips smiled, though languidly yet as
sunnily as ever; the dark hair lay in wavy lines along the sides of her
face; and but for the helplessness with which the figure rested in the
chair, there was less outward token of suffering than he had often seen
about her,--more appearance almost of youth and beauty. But it was not
an earthly beauty; there was something about it which filled him with
a kind of indescribable undefined awe, together with dread of a sorrow
towards which he shrank from looking. She thought him fatigued with the
exertion he had made, and allowed him to rest, while she contemplated
with pleasure even the slight advances which he had already made in
shaking off the traces of illness.

The silence was not broken till Aunt Geoffrey came in, just as the last
stroke of the Church-bell died away, bringing in her hand a fragrant
spray of the budding sweet-briar.

\x93The bees are coming out with you, Freddy,\x94 said she. \x93I have just been
round the garden watching them revelling in the crocuses.\x94

\x93How delicious!\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford, to whom she had offered
the sweet-briar. \x93Give it to him, poor fellow; he is quite knocked up
with his journey.\x94

\x93O no, not in the least, mamma, thank you,\x94 said Fred, sitting up
vigorously; \x93you do not know how strong I am growing.\x94 And then turning
to the window, he made an effort, and began observing on her rook\x92s
nest, as she called it, and her lilac buds. Then came a few more
cheerful questions and comments on the late notes, and then Mrs.
Frederick Langford proposed that the reading of the service should
begin.

Aunt Geoffrey, kneeling at the table, read the prayers, and Fred took
the alternate verses of the Psalms. It was the last day of the month,
and as he now and then raised his eyes to his mother\x92s face, he saw
her lips follow the glorious responses in those psalms of praise, and a
glistening in her lifted eyes such as he could never forget.

\x93He healeth those that are broken in heart, and giveth medicine to heal
their sickness.\x94

\x93He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their
names.\x94

He read this verse as he had done many a time before, without thinking
of the exceeding beauty of the manner in which it is connected with the
former one; but in after years he never read it again without that whole
room rising before his eyes, and above all his mother\x92s face. It was a
sweet soft light, and not a gloom, that rested round that scene in his
memory; springtide sights and sounds; the beams of the declining sun,
with its quiet spring radiance; the fresh mild air; even the bright
fire, and the general look of calm cheerfulness which pervaded all
around, all conduced to that impression which never left him.

The service ended, Aunt Geoffrey read the hymn for the day in the
\x93Christian Year,\x94 and then left them for a few minutes; but strange as
it may seem, those likewise were spent in silence, and though there
was some conversation when she returned, Fred took little share in it.
Silent as he was, he could hardly believe that he had been there more
than ten minutes, when sounds were heard of the rest of the family
returning from Church, and Mrs. Geoffrey Langford went down to meet
them.

In another instant Henrietta came up, very bright and joyous, with many
kind messages from Aunt Roger. Next came Uncle Geoffrey, who, after a
few cheerful observations on the beauty of the day, to which his sister
responded with pleasure, said, \x93Now, Freddy, I must be hard-hearted; I
am coming back almost directly to carry you off.\x94

\x93So soon!\x94 exclaimed Henrietta. \x93Am I to be cheated of all the pleasure
of seeing you together?\x94

No one seemed to attend to her; but as soon as the door had closed
behind his uncle, Fred moved as if to speak, paused, hesitated, then
bent forward, and, shading his face with his hand, said in a low voice,
\x93Mamma, say you forgive me.\x94

She held out her arm, and again he sank on his knee, resting his head
against her.

\x93My own dear boy,\x94 said she, \x93I will not say I have nothing to forgive,
for that I know is not what you want; but well do you know how freely
forgiven and forgotten is all that you may ever feel to have been
against my wish. God bless you, my own dear Frederick!\x94 she added,
pressing her hand upon his head. \x93His choicest blessings be with you
forever.\x94

Uncle Geoffrey\x92s knock was heard; Frederick hastily rose to his feet,
was folded in one more long embrace, then, without another word,
suffered his uncle to lead him out of the room, and support him back to
his own. He stretched himself on the sofa, turned his face inwards,
and gave two or three long gasping sighs, as if completely overpowered,
though his uncle could scarcely determine whether by grief or by
physical exhaustion.

Henrietta looked frightened, but her uncle made her a sign to say
nothing: and after watching him anxiously for some minutes, during which
he remained perfectly still, her uncle left the room, and she sat down
to watch for him, taking up a book, for she dreaded the reveries in
which she had once been so prone to indulge. Fred remained for a long
time tranquil, if not asleep; and when at length he was disturbed,
complained that his head ached, and seemed chiefly anxious to be left in
quiet. It might be that, in addition to his great weariness, he felt
a charm upon him which he could not bear to break. At any rate, he
scarcely looked up or spoke all the rest of the evening, excepting that,
when he went to bed, he sent a message that he hoped Uncle Geoffrey
would come to his room the next morning before setting off, as he was
obliged to do at a very early hour.

He came, and found Fred awake, looking white and heavy-eyed, as if he
had slept little, and allowing that his head still ached.

\x93Uncle Geoffrey,\x94 said he, raising himself on his elbow, and looking at
him earnestly, \x93would it be of no use to have further advice?\x94

His uncle understood him, and answered, \x93I hope that Dr. ---- will come
this evening or to-morrow morning. But,\x94 added he, slowly and kindly,
\x93you must not build your hopes upon that, Fred. It is more from the
feeling that nothing should be untried, than from the expectation that
he can be of use.\x94

\x93Then there is no hope?\x94 said Fred, with a strange quietness.

\x93Man can do nothing,\x94 answered his uncle. \x93You know how the case stands;
the complaint cannot be reached, and there is scarcely a probability of
its becoming inactive. It may be an affair of days or weeks, or she may
yet rally, and be spared to us for some time longer.\x94

\x93If I could but think so!\x94 said Fred. \x93But I cannot. Her face will not
let me hope.\x94

\x93If ever a ray from heaven shone out upon a departing saint,\x94 said
Uncle Geoffrey,--but he could not finish the sentence, and turning away,
walked to the window.

\x93And you must go?\x94 said Fred, when he came back to his side again.

\x93I must,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey. \x93Nothing but the most absolute necessity
could make me leave you now. I scarcely could feel myself an honest man
if I was not in my place to-morrow. I shall be here again on Thursday,
at latest, and bring Beatrice. Your mother thinks she may be a comfort
to Henrietta.\x94

\x93Henrietta knows all this?\x94 asked Fred.

\x93As far as she will bear to believe it,\x94 said his uncle. \x93We cannot
grudge her her unconsciousness, but I am afraid it will be worse for
her in the end. You must nerve yourself, Fred, to support her. Now,
good-bye, and may God bless and strengthen you in your trial!\x94

Fred was left alone again to the agony of the bitterest thoughts he had
ever known. All his designs of devoting himself to her at an end! Her
whom he loved with such an intensity of enthusiastic admiration and
reverence,--the gentlest, the most affectionate, the most beautiful
being he knew! Who would ever care for him as she did? To whom would
it matter now whether he was in danger or in safety? whether he
distinguished himself or not? And how thoughtlessly had he trifled with
her comfort, for the mere pleasure of a moment, and even fancied himself
justified in doing so! Even her present illness, had it not probably
been brought on by her anxiety and attendance on him? and it was his own
wilful disobedience to which all might be traced. It was no wonder that,
passing from one such miserable thought to another, his bodily weakness
was considerably increased, and he remained very languid and unwell;
so much so that had Philip Carey ever presumed to question anything
Mr. Geoffrey Langford thought fit to do, he would have pronounced
yesterday\x92s visit a most imprudent measure. In the afternoon, as Fred
was lying on his sofa, he heard a foot on the stairs, and going along
the passage.

\x93Who is that?\x94 said he; \x93the new doctor already? It is a strange step.\x94

\x93O! Fred, don\x92t be the fairy Fine Ear, as you used to be when you were
at the worst,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93But do you know who it is?\x94 said Fred.

\x93It is Mr. Franklin,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93You know mamma has only been once
at Church since your accident, and then there was no Holy Communion. So
you must not fancy she is worse, Fred.\x94

\x93I wish we were confirmed,\x94 said Fred, sighing, and presently adding,
\x93My Prayer-Book, if you please, Henrietta.\x94

\x93You will only make your head worse, with trying to read the small
print,\x94 said she; \x93I will read anything you want to you.\x94

He chose nevertheless to have it himself, and when he next spoke, it was
to say, \x93I wish, when Mr. Franklin leaves her, you would ask him to come
to me.\x94

Henrietta did not like the proposal at all, and said all she could
against it; but Fred persisted, and made her at last undertake to ask
Aunt Geoffrey\x92s consent. Even then she would have done her best to miss
the opportunity; but Fred heard the first sounds, and she was obliged to
fetch Mr. Franklin. The conference was not long, and she found no
reason to regret that it had taken place; for Fred did not seem so much
oppressed and weighted down when she again returned to him.

The physician who had been sent for arrived. He had seen Mrs. Frederick
Langford some years before, and well understood her case, and his
opinion was now exactly what Fred had been prepared by his uncle to
expect. It was impossible to conjecture how long she might yet survive:
another attack might come at any moment, and be the last. It might be
deferred for weeks or months, or even now it was possible that she might
rally, and return to her usual state of health.

It was on this possibility, or as she chose to hear the word,
probability, that Henrietta fixed her whole mind. The rest was to her as
if unsaid; she would not hear nor believe it, and shunned anything that
brought the least impression of the kind. The only occasion when she
would avow her fears even to herself, was when she knelt in prayer; and
then how wild and unsubmissive were her petitions! How embittered and
wretched she would feel at her own powerlessness! Then the next minute
she would drive off her fears as by force; call up a vision of a
brightly smiling future; think, speak, and act as if hiding her eyes
would prevent the approach of the enemy she dreaded.

Her grandmamma was as determined as herself to hope; and her grandpapa,
though fully alive to the real state of the case, could not bear to
sadden her before the time, and let her talk on and build schemes for
the future, till he himself almost caught a glance of her hopes, and his
deep sigh was the only warning she received from him. Fred, too weak for
much argument, and not unwilling to rejoice now and then in an illusion,
was easily silenced, and Aunt Geoffrey had no time for anyone but the
patient. Her whole thought, almost her whole being, was devoted to
\x93Mary,\x94 the friend, the sister of her childhood, whom she now attended
upon with something of the reverent devotedness with which an angel
might be watched and served, were it to make a brief sojourn upon earth;
feeling it a privilege each day that she was still permitted to attend
her, and watching for each passing word and expression as a treasure to
be dwelt on in many a subsequent year.

It could not be thus with Henrietta, bent on seeing no illness, on
marking no traces of danger; shutting her eyes to all the tokens that
her mother was not to be bound down to earth for ever. She found her
always cheerful, ready to take interest in all that pleased her, and
still with the playfulness which never failed to light up all that
approached her. A flower,--what pleasure it gave her! and how sweet her
smile would be!

It was on the evening of the day after the physician\x92s visit, that
Henrietta came in talking, with the purpose of, as she fancied, cheering
her mother\x92s spirits, of some double lilac primroses which Mrs. Langford
had promised her for the garden at the Pleasance. Her mamma smelt the
flowers, admired them, and smiled as she said, \x93Your papa planted a root
of those in my little garden the first summer I was here.\x94

\x93Then I am sure you will like to have them at the Pleasance, mamma.\x94

\x93My dear child,\x94--she paused, while Henrietta started, and gazed upon
her, frightened at the manner--\x93you must not build upon our favourite
old plan; you must prepare--\x94

\x93O but, mamma, you are better! You are so much better than two days ago;
and these clear days do you so much good; and it is all so bright.\x94

\x93Thanks to Him Who has made it bright!\x94 said her mother, taking her
hand. \x93But I fear, my own dearest, that it will seem far otherwise to
you. I want you to make up your mind--\x94

Henrietta broke vehemently upon the feeble accents. \x93Mamma! mamma!
you must not speak so! It is the worst thing people can do to think
despondingly of themselves. Aunt Geoffrey, do tell her so!\x94

\x93Despondingly! my child; you little know what the thought is to me!\x94

The words were almost whispered, and Henrietta scarcely marked them.

\x93No, no, you must not! It is too cruel to me,--I can\x92t bear it!\x94 she
cried; the tears in her eyes, and a violence of agitation about her,
which her mother, feeble as she was, could not attempt to contend
with. She rested her head on her cushions, and silently and mournfully
followed with her eyes the hasty trembling movements of her daughter,
who continued to arrange the things on the table, and make desperate
attempts to regain her composure; but completely failing, caught up her
bonnet, and hurried out of the room.

\x93Poor dear child,\x94 said Mrs. Frederick Langford, \x93I wish she was more
prepared. Beatrice, the comforting her is the dearest and saddest task I
leave you. Fred, poor fellow, is prepared, and will bear up like a man;
but it will come fearfully upon her. And Henrietta and I have been more
like sisters than mother and daughter. If she would only bear to hear
me--but no, if I were to be overcome while speaking to her, it might
give her pain in the recollection. Beatrice, you must tell her all I
would say.\x94

\x93If I could!\x94

\x93You must tell her, Beatrice, that I was as undisciplined as she is now.
Tell her how I have come to rejoice in the great affliction of my life:
how little I knew how to bear it when Frederick was taken from me and
his children, in the prime of his health and strength. You remember how
crushed to the ground I was, and how it was said that my life was saved
chiefly by the calmness that came with the full belief that I was dying.
And O! how my spirit rebelled when I found myself recovering! Do you
remember the first day I went to Church to return thanks?\x94

\x93It was after we were gone home.\x94

\x93Ah! yes. I had put it off longer than I ought, because I felt so
utterly unable to join in the service. The sickness of heart that came
with those verses of thanksgiving! All I could do was to pray to be
forgiven for not being able to follow them. Now I can own with all
my heart the mercy that would not grant my blind wish for death. My
treasure was indeed in heaven, but O! it was not the treasure that was
meant. I was forgetting my mother, and so selfish and untamed was
I, that I was almost forgetting my poor babies! Yes, tell her this,
Beatrice, and tell her that, if duties and happiness sprang up all
around me, forlorn and desolate as I thought myself, so much the more
will they for her; and \x91at evening time there shall be light.\x92 Tell her
that I look to her for guiding and influencing Fred. She must never
let a week pass without writing to him, and she must have the honoured
office of waiting on the old age of her grandfather and grandmother. I
think she will be a comfort to them, do not you? They are fond of her,
and she seems to suit them.\x94

\x93Yes, I have little doubt that she will be everything to them. I have
especially noted her ways with Mrs. Langford, they are so exactly what I
have tried to teach Beatrice.\x94

\x93Dear little Busy Bee! I am glad she is coming; but in case I should
not see her, give her her godmother\x92s love, and tell her that she and
Henrietta must be what their mammas have been to each other; and that I
trust that after thirty-five years\x92 friendship, they will still have as
much confidence in one another as I have in you, my own dear Beatrice.
I have written her name in one of these books,\x94 she added after a short
interval, touching some which were always close to her. \x93And, Beatrice,
one thing more I had to say,\x94 she proceeded, taking up a Bible, and
finding out a place in it. \x93Geoffrey has always been a happy prosperous
man, as he well deserves; but if ever trouble should come to him in his
turn, then show him this.\x94 She pointed out the verse, \x93Be as a father to
the fatherless, and instead of a husband to their mother; so shalt thou
be as the son of the Most High, and He shall love thee more than thy
mother doth.\x94 \x93Show him that, and tell him it is his sister Mary\x92s last
blessing.\x94



CHAPTER XVIII.



On Thursday morning, Henrietta began to awake from her sound night\x92s
rest. Was it a dream that she saw a head between her and the window? She
thought it was, and turned to sleep again; but at her movement the head
turned, the figure advanced, and Mrs. Geoffrey Langford stood over her.

Henrietta opened her eyes, and gazed upon her without saying a word for
some moments; then, as her senses awakened, she half sprung up. \x93How is
mamma? Does she want me? Why?\x94 Her aunt made an effort to speak, but it
seemed beyond her power.

\x93O, aunt, aunt!\x94 cried she, \x93what is the matter? What has happened?
Speak to me!\x94

\x93Henrietta,\x94 said her aunt, in a low, calm, but hoarse tone, \x93she bade
you bear up for your brother\x92s sake.\x94

\x93But--but--\x94 said Henrietta, breathlessly; \x93and she--\x94

\x93My dear child, she is at rest.\x94

Henrietta laid her head back, as if completely stunned, and unable to
realise what she had heard.

\x93Tell me,\x94 she said, after a few moments.

Her aunt knelt by her and steadily, without a tear, began to speak.
\x93It was at half-past twelve; she had been asleep some little time very
quietly. I was just going to lie down on the sofa, when I thought her
face looked different, and stood watching. She woke, said she felt
oppressed, and asked me to raise her pillows. While she was leaning
against my arm, there was a spasm, a shiver, and she was gone! Yes, we
must only think of her as in perfect peace!\x94

Henrietta lay motionless for some moments, then at last broke out with a
sort of anger, \x93O, why did you not call me?\x94

\x93There was not one instant, my dear, and I could not ring, for fear of
disturbing Fred. I could not call any one till it was too late.\x94

\x93O, why was I not there? I would--I would--she must have heard me.
I would not have let her go. O, mamma!\x94 cried Henrietta, almost
unconscious of what she said, and bursting into a transport of
ungovernable grief; sobbing violently and uttering wild incoherent
exclamations. Her aunt tried in vain to soothe her by kind words, but
all she said seemed only to add impulse to the torrent; and at last she
found herself obliged to wait till the violence of the passion had in
some degree exhausted itself; and young, strong, and undisciplined as
poor Henrietta was, this was not quickly. At last, however, the sobs
grew less loud, and the exclamations less vehement. Aunt Geoffrey
thought she could be heard, leant down over her, kissed her, and said,
\x93Now we must pray that we may fulfil her last desire; bear it patiently,
and try to help your brother.\x94

\x93Fred, O poor Fred!\x94 and she seemed on the point of another burst of
lamentation, but her aunt went on speaking--\x93I must go to him; he
has yet to hear it, and you had better come to him as soon as you are
dressed.\x94

\x93O aunt; I could not bear to see him. It will kill him, I know it will!
O no, no, I cannot, cannot see Fred! O, mamma, mamma!\x94 A fresh fit of
weeping succeeded, and Mrs. Langford herself feeling most deeply, was in
great doubt and perplexity; she did not like to leave Henrietta in this
condition, and yet there was an absolute necessity that she should go
to poor Fred, before any chance accident or mischance should reveal the
truth.

\x93I must leave you, my dear,\x94 said she, at last. \x93Think how your dear
mother bowed her head to His will. Pray to your Father in Heaven, Who
alone can comfort you. I must go to your brother, and when I return, I
hope you will be more composed.\x94

The pain of witnessing the passionate sorrow of Henrietta was no good
preparation for carrying the same tidings to one, whose bodily weakness
made it to be feared that he might suffer even more; but Mrs. Geoffrey
Langford feared to lose her composure by stopping to reflect, and
hastened down from Henrietta\x92s room with a hurried step.

She knocked at Fred\x92s door, and was answered by his voice. As she
entered he looked at her with anxious eyes, and before she could speak,
said, \x93I know what you are come to tell me.\x94

\x93Yes, Fred,\x94 said she; \x93but how?\x94

\x93I was sure of it,\x94 said Fred. \x93I knew I should never see her again; and
there were sounds this morning. Did not I hear poor Henrietta crying?\x94

\x93She has been crying very much,\x94 said his aunt.

\x93Ah! she would never believe it,\x94 said Fred. \x93But after last Sunday--O,
no one could look at that face, and think she was to stay here any
longer!\x94

\x93We could not wish it for her sake,\x94 said his aunt, for the first time
feeling almost overcome.

\x93Let me hear how it was,\x94 said Frederick, after a pause.

His aunt repeated what she had before told Henrietta, and then he asked
quickly, \x93What did you do? I did not hear you ring.\x94

\x93No, that was what I was afraid of. I was going to call some one, when I
met grandpapa, who was just going up. He came with me, and--and was very
kind--then he sent me to lie down; but I could not sleep, and went to
wait for Henrietta\x92s waking.\x94

Fred gave a long, deep, heavy sigh, and said, \x93Poor Henrietta! Is she
very much overcome?\x94

\x93So much, that I hardly know how to leave her.\x94

\x93Don\x92t stay with me, then, Aunt Geoffrey. It is very kind in you, but
I don\x92t think anything is much good to me.\x94 He hid his face as he spoke
thus, in a tone of the deepest dejection.

\x93Nothing but prayer, my dear Fred,\x94 said she, gently. \x93Then I will go to
your sister again.\x94

\x93Thank you.\x94 And she had reached the door when he asked, \x93When does
Uncle Geoffrey come?\x94

\x93By the four o\x92clock train,\x94 she answered, and moved on.

Frederick hid his head under the clothes, and gave way to a burst of
agony, which, silent as it was, was even more intense than his sister\x92s.
O! the blank that life seemed without her look, her voice, her tone! the
frightful certainty that he should never see her more! Then it would for
a moment seem utterly incredible that she should thus have passed away;
but then returned the conviction, and he felt as if he could not even
exist under it. But this excessive oppression and consciousness of
misery seemed chiefly to come upon him when alone. In the presence of
another person he could talk in the same quiet matter-of-fact way in
which he had already done to his aunt; and the blow itself, sudden as it
was, did not affect his health as the first anticipation of it had done.
With Henrietta things were quite otherwise. When alone she was quiet, in
a sort of stupor, in which she scarcely even thought; but the entrance
of any person into her room threw her into a fresh paroxysm of grief,
ever increasing in vehemence; then she was quieted a little, and was
left to herself, but she could not, or would not, turn where alone
comfort could be found, and repelled, almost as if it was an insult to
her affection, any entreaty that she would even try to be comforted.
Above all, in the perverse-ness of her undisciplined affliction, she
persisted in refusing to see her brother. \x93She should do him harm,\x94 she
said. \x93No, it was utterly impossible for her to control herself so as
not to do him harm.\x94 And thereupon her sobs and tears redoubled. She
would not touch a morsel of food; she would not consent to leave her bed
when asked to do so, though ten minutes after, in the restlessness
of her misery, she was found walking up and down her room in her
dressing-gown.

Never had Mrs. Geoffrey Langford known a more trying day. Old Mr.
Langford, who had loved \x93Mary\x94 like his own child, did indeed bear
up under the affliction with all his own noble spirit of Christian
submission; but, excepting by his sympathy, he could be of little
assistance to her in the many painful offices which fell to her share.
Mrs. Langford walked about the house, active as ever; now sitting down
in her chair, and bursting into a flood of tears for \x93poor Mary,\x94 or
\x93dear Frederick,\x94 all the sorrow for whose loss seemed renewed; then
rising vigorously, saying, \x93Well, it is His will; it is all for the
best!\x94 and hastening away to see how Henrietta and Fred were, to make
some arrangement about mourning, or to get Geoffrey\x92s room ready for
him. And in all these occupations she wanted Beatrice to consult, or to
sympathise, or to promise that Geoffrey would like and approve what she
did. In the course of the morning Mr. and Mrs. Roger Langford came from
Sutton Leigh, and the latter, by taking the charge of, talking to, and
assisting Mrs. Langford, greatly relieved her sister-in-law. Still there
were the two young mourners. Henrietta was completely unmanageable, only
resting now and then to break forth with more violence; and her sorrow
far too selfish and unsubmissive to be soothed either by the thought of
Him Who sent it, or of the peace and rest to which that beloved one was
gone; and as once the anxiety for her brother had swallowed up all care
for her mother, so now grief for her mother absorbed every consideration
for Frederick; so that it was useless to attempt to persuade her to make
any exertion for his sake. Nothing seemed in any degree to tranquillize
her except Aunt Geoffrey\x92s reading to her; and then it was only that
she was lulled by the sound of the voice, not that the sense reached
her mind. But then, how go on reading to her all day, when poor Fred was
left in his lonely room, to bear his own share of sorrow in solitude?
For though Mr. and Mrs. Langford, and Uncle and Aunt Roger, made him
many brief kind visits, they all of them had either too much on their
hands, or were unfitted by disposition to be the companions he wanted.
It was only Aunt Geoffrey who could come and sit by him, and tell him
all those precious sayings of his mother in her last days, which in her
subdued low voice renewed that idea of perfect peace and repose which
came with the image of his mother, and seemed to still the otherwise
overpowering thought that she was gone. But in the midst the door would
open, and grandmamma would come in, looking much distressed, with some
such request as this--\x93Beatrice, if Fred can spare you, would you just
go up to poor Henrietta? I thought she was better, and that it was as
well to do it at once; so I went to ask her for one of her dresses, to
send for a pattern for her mourning, and that has set her off crying
to such a degree, that Elizabeth and I can do nothing with her. I wish
Geoffrey was come!\x94

Nothing was expressed so often through the day as this wish, and no one
wished more earnestly than his wife, though, perhaps, she was the only
person who did not say so a dozen times. There was something cheering in
hearing that his brother had actually set off to meet him at Allonfield;
and at length Fred\x92s sharpened ears caught the sound of the carriage
wheels, and he was come. It seemed as if he was considered by all as
their own exclusive property. His mother had one of her quick, sudden
bursts of lamentation as soon as she saw him; his brother, as usual,
wanted to talk to him; Fred was above all eager for him; and it was only
his father who seemed even to recollect that his wife might want
him more than all. And so she did. Her feelings were very strong and
impetuous by nature, and the loss was one of the greatest she could have
sustained. Nothing save her husband and her child was so near to
her heart as her sister; and worn out as she was by long attendance,
sleepless nights, and this trying day, when all seemed to rest upon her,
she now completely gave way, and was no sooner alone with her husband
and daughter, than her long repressed feelings relieved themselves in
a flood of tears, which, though silent, were completely beyond her own
control. Now that he was come, she could, and indeed must, give way; and
the more she attempted to tell him of the peacefulness of her own dear
Mary, the more her tears would stream forth. He saw how it was, and
would not let her even reproach herself for her weakness, or attempt any
longer to exert herself; but made her lie down on her bed, and told her
that he and Queen Bee could manage very well.

Queen Bee stood there pale, still, and bewildered-looking. She had
scarcely spoken since she heard of her aunt\x92s death; and new as
affliction was to her sunny life, scarce knew where she was, or whether
this was her own dear Knight Sutton; and even her mother\x92s grief seemed
to her almost more like a dream.

\x93Ah, yes,\x94 said Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, as soon as her daughter had been
named, \x93I ought to have sent you to Henrietta before.\x94

\x93Very well,\x94 said Beatrice, though her heart sank within her as she
thought of her last attempt at consoling Henrietta.

\x93Go straight up to her,\x94 continued her mother; \x93don\x92t wait to let her
think whether she will see you or not. I only wish poor Fred could do
the same.\x94

\x93If I could but do her any good,\x94 sighed Beatrice, as she opened the
door and hastened upstairs. She knocked, and entered without waiting for
an answer: Henrietta lifted up her head, came forward with a little cry,
threw herself into her arms, and wept bitterly. Mournful as all around
was, there was a bright ray of comfort in Queen Bee\x92s heart when she
was thus hailed as a friend and comforter. She only wished and longed to
know what might best serve to console her poor Henrietta; but all that
occurred to her was to embrace and fondle her very affectionately, and
call her by the most caressing names. This was all that Henrietta was
as yet fit to bear; and after a time, growing quieter, she poured out
to her cousin all her grief, without fear of blame for its violence.
Beatrice was sometimes indeed startled by the want of all idea
of resignation, but she could not believe that any one could feel
otherwise,--least of all Henrietta, who had lost her only parent, and
that parent Aunt Mary. Neither did she feel herself good enough to talk
seriously to Henrietta; she considered herself as only sent to sit with
her, so she did not make any attempt to preach the resignation which was
so much wanted; and Henrietta, who had all day been hearing of it, and
rebelling against it, was almost grateful to her. So Henrietta talked
and talked, the same repeated lamentation, the same dreary views of the
future coming over and over again; and Beatrice\x92s only answer was to
agree with all her heart to all that was said of her own dear Aunt Mary,
and to assure Henrietta of the fervent love that was still left for her
in so many hearts on earth.

The hours passed on; Beatrice was called away and Henrietta was inclined
to be fretful at her leaving her; but she presently returned, and the
same discourse was renewed, until at last Beatrice began to read to
her, and thus did much to soothe her spirits, persuaded her to make a
tolerable meal at tea-time, bathed her eyelids that were blistered with
tears, put her to bed, and finally read her to sleep. Then, as she crept
quietly down to inquire after her mamma, and wish the others in the
drawing-room good night, she reflected whether she had done what she
ought for her cousin.

\x93I have not put a single right or really consoling thought into her
head,\x94 said she to herself; \x93for as to the reading, she did not attend
to that. But after all I could not have done it. I must be better myself
before I try to improve other people; and it is not what I deserve to be
allowed to be any comfort at all.\x94

Thanks partly to Beatrice\x92s possessing no rightful authority over
Henrietta, partly to the old habit of relying on her, she contrived to
make her get up and dress herself at the usual time next morning. But
nothing would prevail on her to go down stairs. She said she could
not endure to pass \x93that door,\x94 where ever before the fondest welcome
awaited her; and as to seeing her brother, that having been deferred
yesterday, seemed to-day doubly dreadful. The worst of this piece of
perverseness--for it really deserved no better name--was that it began
to vex Fred. \x93But that I know how to depend upon you, Uncle Geoffrey,\x94
 said he, \x93I should really think she must be ill. I never knew anything
so strange.\x94

Uncle Geoffrey resolved to put an end to it, if possible; and soon after
leaving Fred\x92s room he knocked at his niece\x92s door. She was sitting by
the fire with a book in her hand, but not reading.

\x93Good morning, my dear,\x94 said he, taking her languid hand. \x93I bring you
a message from Fred, that he hopes you are soon coming down to see him.\x94

She turned away her head. \x93Poor dear Fred!\x94 said she; \x93but it is quite
impossible. I cannot bear it as he does; I should only overset him and
do him harm.\x94

\x93And why cannot you bear it as he does?\x94 said her uncle gravely. \x93You
do not think his affection for her was less? and you have all the
advantages of health and strength.\x94

\x93Oh, no one can feel as I do!\x94 cried Henrietta, with one of her
passionate outbreaks. \x93O how I loved her!\x94

\x93Fred did not love her less,\x94 proceeded her uncle. \x93And why will you
leave him in sorrow and in weakness to doubt the sister\x92s love that
should be his chief stay?\x94

\x93He does not doubt it,\x94 sobbed Henrietta. \x93He knows me better.\x94

\x93Nay, Henrietta, what reason has he to trust to that affection which
is not strong enough to overcome the dread of a few moments\x92 painful
emotion?\x94

\x93Oh, but it is not that only! I shall feel it all so much more out
of this room, where she has never been; but to see the rest of the
house--to go past her door! O, uncle, I have not the strength for it.\x94

\x93No, your affection for him is not strong enough.\x94

Henrietta\x92s pale cheeks flushed, and her tears were angry. \x93You do not
know me, Uncle Geoffrey,\x94 said she proudly, and then she almost choked
with weeping at unkindness where she most expected kindness.

\x93I know this much of you, Henrietta. You have been nursing up your grief
and encouraging yourself in murmuring and repining, in a manner which
you will one day see to have been sinful: you are obstinate in making
yourself useless.\x94

Henrietta, little used to blame, was roused to defend herself with the
first weapon she could. \x93Aunt Geoffrey is just as much knocked up as I
am,\x94 said she.

If ever Uncle Geoffrey was made positively angry, he was so now, though
if he had not thought it good that Henrietta should be roused, he would
have repressed even such demonstrations as he made. \x93Henrietta, this is
too bad! Has she been weakly yielding?--has she been shutting herself up
in her room, and keeping aloof from those who most needed her, lest she
should pain her own feelings? Have not you rather been perplexing and
distressing, and harassing her with your wilful selfishness, refusing to
do the least thing to assist her in the care of your own brother, after
she has been wearing herself out in watching over your mother? And now,
when her strength and spirits are exhausted by the exertions she
has made for you and yours, and I have been obliged to insist on her
resting, you fancy her example an excuse for you! Is this the way your
mother would have acted? I see arguing with you does you no good: I have
no more to say.\x94

He got up, opened the door, and went out: Henrietta, dismayed at the
accusation but too well founded on her words, had but one thought, that
she should not deem her regardless of his kindness. \x93Uncle Geoffrey!\x94
 she cried, \x93O, uncle--\x94 but he was gone; and forgetting everything else,
she flew after him down the stairs, and before she recollected anything
else, she found herself standing in the hall, saying, \x93O uncle, do not
think I meant that!\x94

At that moment her grandpapa came out of the drawing-room. \x93Henrietta!\x94
 said he, \x93I am glad to see you downstairs.\x94

Henrietta hastily returned his kiss, and looked somewhat confused; then
laying her hand entreatingly on her uncle\x92s arm, said, \x93Only say you are
not angry with me.\x94

\x93No, no, Henrietta, not if you will act like a rational person,\x94 said
he with something of a smile, which she could not help returning in her
surprise at finding herself downstairs after all.

\x93And you do not imagine me ungrateful?\x94

\x93Not when you are in your right senses.\x94

\x93Ungrateful!\x94 exclaimed Mr. Langford. \x93What is he accusing you of,
Henrietta? What is the meaning of all this?\x94

\x93Nothing,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey, \x93but that Henrietta and I have both been
somewhat angry with each other; but we have made it up now, have we not,
Henrietta?\x94

It was wonderful how much good the very air of the hall was doing
Henrietta, and how fast it was restoring her energy and power of turning
her mind to other things. She answered a few remarks of grandpapa\x92s
with very tolerable cheerfulness, and even when the hall door opened
and admitted Uncle and Aunt Roger, she did not run away, but stayed to
receive their greetings before turning to ascend the stairs.

\x93You are not going to shut yourself up in your own room again?\x94 said
grandpapa.

\x93No, I was only going to Fred,\x94 said she, growing as desirous of seeing
him as she had before been averse to it.

\x93Suppose,\x94 said Uncle Geoffrey, \x93that you were to take a turn or two
round the garden first. There is Queen Bee, she will go out with you,
and you will bring Fred in a fresher face.\x94

\x93I will fetch your bonnet,\x94 said Queen Bee, who was standing at the top
of the stairs, wisely refraining from expressing her astonishment at
seeing her cousin in the hall.

And before Henrietta had time to object, the bonnet was on her head, a
shawl thrown round her, Beatrice had drawn her arm within hers, and had
opened the sashed door into the garden.

It was a regular April day, with all the brilliancy and clearness of the
sunshine that comes between showers, the white clouds hung in huge soft
masses on the blue sky, the leaves of the evergreens were glistening
with drops of rain, the birds sang sweetly in the shrubs around.
Henrietta\x92s burning eyes felt refreshed, and though she sighed heavily,
she could not help admiring, but Beatrice was surprised that the first
thing she began to say was an earnest inquiry after Aunt Geoffrey, and a
warm expression of gratitude towards her.

Then the conversation died away again, and they completed their two
turns in silence; but Henrietta\x92s heart began to fail her when she
thought of going in without having her to greet. She lingered and could
hardly resolve to go, but at length she entered, walked up the stairs,
gave her shawl and bonnet to Beatrice, and tapped at Fred\x92s door.

\x93Is that you?\x94 was his eager answer, and as she entered he came forward
to meet her. \x93Poor Henrietta!\x94 was all he said, as she put her arm round
his neck and kissed him, and then leaning on her he returned to his
sofa, made her sit by him, and showed all sorts of kind solicitude for
her comfort. She had cried so much that she felt as if she could cry no
longer, but she reproached herself excessively for having left him to
himself so long, when all he wanted was to comfort her; and she tried to
make some apology.

\x93I am sorry I did not come sooner, Fred.\x94

\x93O, it is of no use to talk about it,\x94 said Fred, playing with her long
curls as she sat on a footstool close to him, just as she used to do in
times long gone by. \x93You are come now, and that is all I want. Have you
been out? I thought I heard the garden door just before you came in.\x94

\x93Yes, I took two turns with Queen Bee. How bright and sunny it is. And
how are you this morning, Freddy?\x94

\x93O, pretty well I think,\x94 said he, sighing, as if he cared little about
the matter. \x93I wanted to show you this, Henrietta.\x94 And he took up a
book where he had marked a passage for her. She saw several paper marks
in some other books, and perceived with shame that he had been reading
yesterday, and choosing out what might comfort her, his selfish sister,
as she could not help feeling herself.

And here was the first great point gained, though there was still
much for Henrietta to learn. It was the first time she had ever been
conscious of her own selfishness, or perhaps more justly, of her
proneness to make all give way to her own feeling of the moment.



CHAPTER XIX.



There was some question as to who should attend the funeral. Henrietta
shuddered and trembled all over as if it were a cruelty to mention it
before her; but Frederick was very desirous that she should be there,
partly from a sort of feeling that she would represent himself, and
partly from a strong conviction that it would be good for her. She was
willing to do anything or everything for him, to make up for her day\x92s
neglect: and she consented, though with many tears, and was glad that at
least Fred seemed satisfied, and her uncle looked pleased with her.

Aunt Geoffrey undertook to stay with Fred, and Henrietta, who clung much
to Beatrice, felt relieved by the thought of her support in such an hour
of trial. She remembered the day when, with a kind of agreeable emotion,
she had figured to herself her father\x92s funeral, little thinking of the
reality that so soon awaited her, so much worse, as she thought,
than what any of them could even then have felt; and it seemed to her
perfectly impossible that she should ever have power to go through with
it.

In was much, however, that she should have agreed to what in the
prospect gave her so much pain; and perhaps, for that very reason,
she found the reality less overwhelming than she had dreaded. Seeing
nothing, observing nothing, hardly conscious of anything, she walked
along, wrapped in one absorbing sense of wretchedness; and the first
words that \x93broke the stillness of that hour,\x94 healing as they were,
seemed but to add certainty to that one thought that \x93she was gone.\x94 But
while the Psalms and the Lessons were read, the first heavy oppression
of grief seemed in some degree to grow lighter. She could listen, and
the words reached her mind; a degree of thankfulness arose to Him Who
had wiped away the tears from her mother\x92s eyes, and by Whom the sting
of death had been taken away. Yes; she had waited in faith, in patience,
in meek submission, until now her long widowhood was over; and what
better for her could those who most loved her desire, than that she
should safely sleep in the chancel of the Church of her childhood, close
to him whom she had so loved and so mourned, until the time when both
should once more awaken,--the corruptible should put on incorruption,
the mortal should put on immortality, and death be swallowed up in
victory.

Something of this was what Henrietta began to feel; and though the tears
flowed fast, they were not the bitter drops of personal sorrow. She was
enabled to bear, without the agony she had expected, the standing round
the grave in the chancel; nor did her heart swell rebelliously against
the expression that it was \x93in great mercy that the soul of this our
dear sister\x94 was taken, even though she shrank and shivered at the sound
of the earth cast in, which would seem to close up from her for ever
the most loved and loving creature that she would ever know. No, not for
ever,--might she too but keep her part in Him Who is the Resurrection
and the Life--might she be found acceptable in His sight, and receive
the blessing to be pronounced to all that love and fear Him.

It was over: they all stood round for a few minutes. At last Mr.
Langford moved; Henrietta was also obliged to turn away, but before
doing so, she raised her eyes to her father\x92s name, to take leave of him
as it were, as she always did before going out of Church. She met her
Uncle Geoffrey\x92s eye as she did so, and took his arm; and as soon as
she was out of the church, she said almost in a whisper, \x93Uncle, I don\x92t
wish for him now.\x94

He pressed her arm, and looked most kindly at her, but he did not speak,
for he could hardly command his voice; and he saw, too, that she might
safely be trusted to the influences of that only true consolation which
was coming upon her.

They came home--to the home that looked as if it would fain be once more
cheerful, with the front window blinds drawn up again, and the solemn
stillness no longer observed. Henrietta hastened up to her own room,
for she could not bear to show herself to her brother in her long crape
veil. She threw her bonnet off, knelt down for a few minutes, but rose
on hearing the approach of Beatrice, who still shared the same room.
Beatrice came in, and looked at her for a few moments, as if doubtful
how to address her; but at last she put her hand on her shoulder, and
looking earnestly in her face, repeated--


\x93Then cheerily to your work again, With hearts new braced and set, To
run untir\x92d love\x92s blessed race, As meet for those who, face to face,
Over the grave their Lord have met.\x94


\x93Yes, Queenie,\x94 said Henrietta, giving a long sigh, \x93it is a very
different world to me now; but I do mean to try. And first, dear Bee,
you must let me thank you for having been very kind to me this long time
past, though I am afraid I showed little thankfulness.\x94 She kissed her
affectionately, and the tears almost choked Beatrice.

\x93Me! me, of all people,\x94 she said. \x93O, Henrietta!\x94

\x93We must talk of it all another time,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93but now it will
not do to stay away from Fred any longer. Don\x92t think this like the days
when I used to run away from you in the winter, Bee--that time when I
would not stop and talk about the verses on the holly.\x94

While she spoke, there was something of the \x93new bracing\x94 visible in
every movement, as she set her dress to rights, and arranged her curls,
which of late she had been used to allow to hang in a deplorable way,
that showed how little vigour or inclination to bear up there was about
her whole frame.

\x93O no, do not stay with me,\x94 said Queen Bee, \x93I am going\x94--to mamma, she
would have said, but she hardly knew how to use the word when speaking
to Henrietta.

\x93Yes,\x94 said Henrietta, understanding her. \x93And tell her, Bee--for I am
sure I shall never be able to say it to her,--all about our thanks, and
how sorry I am that I cared so little about her or her comfort.\x94 \x93If I
had only believed, instead of blinding myself so wilfully!\x94 she almost
whispered to herself with a deep sigh; but being now ready, she ran
downstairs and entered her brother\x92s room. His countenance bore
traces of weeping, but he was still calm; and as she came in he looked
anxiously at her. She spoke quietly as she sat down by him, put her hand
into his, and said, \x93Thank you, dear Fred, for making me go.\x94

\x93I was quite sure you would be glad when it was over,\x94 said Fred. \x93I
have been reading the service with Aunt Geoffrey, but that is a very
different thing.\x94

\x93It will all come to you when you go to Church again,\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93How little I thought that New Year\x92s Day--!\x94 said Fred.

\x93Ah! and how little we either of us thought last summer\x92s holidays!\x94
 said Henrietta. \x93If it was not for that, I could bear it all better;
but it was my determination to come here that seems to have caused
everything, and that is the thought I cannot bear.\x94

\x93I was talking all that over with Uncle Geoffrey last night,\x94 said
Fred, \x93and he especially warned us against reproaching ourselves with
consequences. He said it was he who had helped my father to choose the
horse that caused his death, and asked me if I thought he ought to blame
himself for that. I said no; and he went on to tell me that he did not
think we ought to take unhappiness to ourselves for what has happened
now; that we ought to think of the actions themselves, instead of the
results. Now my skating that day was just as bad as my driving, except,
to be sure, that I put nobody in danger but myself; it was just as much
disobedience, and I ought to be just as sorry for it, though nothing
came of it, except that I grew more wilful.\x94

\x93Yes,\x94 said Henrietta, \x93but I shall always feel as if everything had
been caused by me. I am sure I shall never dare wish anything again.\x94

\x93It was just as much my wish as yours,\x94 said Fred.

\x93Ah! but you did not go on always trying to make her do what you
pleased, and keeping her to it, and almost thinking it a thing of
course, to make her give up her wishes to yours. That was what I was
always doing, and now I can never make up for it!\x94

\x93O yes,\x94 said Fred, \x93we can never feel otherwise than that. To know how
she forgave us both, and how her wishes always turned to be the same
as ours, if ours were not actually wrong; that is little comfort to
remember, now, but perhaps it will be in time. But don\x92t you see,
Henrietta, my dear, what Uncle Geoffrey means?--that if you did domineer
over her, it was very wrong, and you may be sorry for that; but that you
must not accuse yourself of doing all the mischief by bringing her here.
He says he does not know whether it was not, after all, what was most
for her comfort, if--\x94

\x93O, Freddy, to have you almost killed!\x94

\x93If the thoughts I have had lately will but stay with me when I am well
again, I do not think my accident will be a matter of regret, Henrietta.
Just consider, when I was so disobedient in these little things, and
attending so little to her or to Uncle Geoffrey, how likely it was that
I might have gone on to much worse at school and college.\x94

\x93Never, never!\x94 said Henrietta.

\x93Not now, I hope,\x94 said Fred; \x93but that was not what I meant to say. No
one could say, Uncle Geoffrey told me, that the illness was brought on
either by anxiety or over-exertion. The complaint was of long standing,
and must have made progress some time or other; and he said that he was
convinced that, as she said to Aunt Geoffrey, she had rather have been
here than anywhere else. She said she could only be sorry for grandpapa
and grandmamma\x92s sake, but that for herself it was great happiness to
have been to Knight Sutton Church once more; and she was most thankful
that she had come to die in my father\x92s home, after seeing us well
settled here, instead of leaving us to come to it as a strange place.\x94

\x93How little we guessed it was for that,\x94 said Henrietta. \x93O what were we
doing? But if it made her happy--\x94

\x93Just imagine what to-day would have been if we were at Rocksand,\x94 said
Fred. \x93I, obliged to go back to school directly, and you, taking leave
of everything there which would seem to you so full of her; and Uncle
Geoffrey, just bringing you here without any time to stay with you, and
the place and people all strange. I am sure that she who thought so much
for you, must have rejoiced that you are at home here already.\x94

\x93Home!\x94 said Henrietta, \x93how determinedly we used to call it so! But O,
that my wish should have turned out in such a manner! If it has been all
overruled so as to be happiness to her, as I am sure it has, I cannot
complain; but I think I shall never wish again, or care for my own way.\x94

\x93The devices and desires of our own hearts!\x94 said Fred.

\x93I don\x92t think I shall ever have spirit enough to be wilful for my own
sake,\x94 proceeded Henrietta. \x93Nothing will ever be the same pleasure to
me, as when she used to be my other self, and enjoy it all over again
for me; so that it was all twofold!\x94 Here she hid her face, and her
tears streamed fast, but they were soft and calm; and when she saw that
Fred also was much overcome, she recalled her energies in a minute.

\x93But, Fred, I may well be thankful that I have you, which is far more
than I deserve; and as long as we do what she wished, we are still
obeying her. I think at last I may get something of the right sort of
feeling; for I am sure I see much better now what she and grandpapa used
to mean when they talked about dear papa. And now do you like for me to
read to you?\x94

Few words more require to be said of Frederick and Henrietta Langford.
Knight Sutton Hall was according to their mother\x92s wish, their home;
and there Henrietta had the consolation, during the advancing spring and
summer, of watching her brother\x92s recovery, which was very slow, but at
the same time steady. Mrs. Geoffrey Langford stayed with her as long as
he required much nursing; and Henrietta learnt to look upon her, not as
quite a mother, but at any rate as more than an aunt, far more than
she had ever been to her before; and when at length she was obliged to
return to Westminster, it was a great satisfaction to think how soon the
vacation would bring them all back to Knight Sutton.

The holidays arrived, and with them Alexander, who, to his great
disappointment, was obliged to give up all his generous hopes that Fred
would be one of his competitors for the prize, when he found him able
indeed to be with the family, to walk short distances, and to resume
many of his former habits; but still very easily tired, and his head in
a condition to suffer severely from noise, excitement, or application.
Perhaps this was no bad thing for their newly formed alliance, as
Alex had numberless opportunities of developing his consideration and
kindness, by silencing his brothers, assisting his cousin when tired,
and again and again silently giving up some favourite scheme of
amusement when Fred proved to be unequal to it. Even Henrietta herself
almost learned to trust Fred to Alex\x92s care, which was so much less
irritating than her own; and how greatly the Queen Bee was improved is
best shown, when it is related, that neither by word nor look did
she once interrupt the harmony between them, or attempt to obtain the
attention, of which, in fact, she always had as large a share as any
reasonable person could desire.

How fond Fred learnt to be of Alex will be easily understood, and the
best requital of his kindness that he could devise was an offer--a very
adventurous one, as was thought by all who heard of it--to undertake
little Willy\x92s Latin, which being now far beyond Aunt Roger\x92s knowledge,
had been under Alex\x92s care for the holidays. Willy was a very good
pupil on the whole--better, it was said by most, than Alex himself had
been--and very fond of Fred; but Latin grammar and Caesar formed such
a test as perhaps their alliance would scarcely have endured, if in an
insensible manner Willy and his books had not gradually been made over
to Henrietta, whose great usefulness and good nature in this respect
quite made up, in grandmamma\x92s eyes, for her very tolerable amount of
acquirements in Latin and Greek.

By the time care for her brother\x92s health had ceased to be Henrietta\x92s
grand object, and she was obliged once more to see him depart to pursue
his education, a whole circle of pursuits and occupations had sprung up
around her, and given her the happiness of feeling herself both useful
and valued. Old Mr. Langford saw in her almost the Mary he had parted
with when resumed in early girlhood by Mrs. Vivian; Mrs. Langford had a
granddaughter who would either be petted, sent on messages, or be civil
to the Careys, as occasion served; Aunt Roger was really grateful
to her, as well for the Latin and Greek she bestowed upon Willy and
Charlie, as for the braided merino frocks or coats on which Bennet used
to exercise her taste when Henrietta\x92s wardrobe failed to afford her
sufficient occupation. The boys all liked her, made a friend of her,
and demonstrated it in various ways more or less uncouth: her manners
gradually acquired the influence over them which Queen Bee had only
exerted over Alex and Willy, and when, saving Carey and Dick, they grew
less awkward and bearish, without losing their honest downright
good humour and good nature, Uncle Geoffrey only did her justice in
attributing the change to her unconscious power. Miss Henrietta was
also the friend of the poor women, the teacher and guide of the school
children, and in their eyes and imagination second to no one but Mr.
Franklin. And withal she did not cease to be all that she had ever been
to her brother, if not still more. His heart and soul were for her, and
scarce a joy and sorrow but was shared between them. She was his home,
his everything, and she well fulfilled her mother\x92s parting trust of
being his truest friend and best-loved counsellor.

Would that her own want of submission and resignation had not prevented
her from hearing the dear accents in which that charge was conveyed!
This was, perhaps, the most deeply felt sorrow that followed her through
life; and even with the fair peaceful image of her beloved mother,
there was linked a painful memory of a long course of wilfulness and
domineering on her own part. But there was much to be dwelt on that
spoke only of blessedness and love, and each day brought her nearer to
her whom she had lost, so long as she was humbly striving to walk in the
steps of Him Who \x93came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that
sent Him.\x94

THE END





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