Well, dear, what became of the storm ?”

“Why, we have had none at all. Grandfather AN OLD MAN'S REAL AND IDEAL-A SECRET has been so kind, you don't know! He told DOUBLED.

me that Grant had been in grand tantrums with

him because I had said him nay, and questioned I had promised Helen, while she was staying me whether I were really in earnest. Of at Fairclough, that I would go to the Hall at course I left him no doubt of that. I told him the end of the week, to give some advice re- how hard I had tried to like Grant, because I specting her summer dress,

Accordingly I thought it was his wish. And then he said he walked over on Saturday. At the gate I was only wished me to be safe and happy; that permet by Mrs. Cargill, who, with rather a grave haps I was right. He doubted much if I face and a lowered voice, said, “Oh ma’am, I'm should be one or the other, with that puppy,' sorry to tell you, Master was took ill yesterday so he called him. He said Grant thought a after he came home from Marsham. He'd deal too much of himself, and that I could get tired himself may be over-much, and then he a better husband than him any day.. I tell you and Mr. Grant had words, and Master was just what he said, Mrs. Gainsborough, because took quite giddy, in a sort of fit, we think; but it shows his mind is not so set on Grant; and you'll please not say so to Miss Helen--only that is a great relief." that he was tired and worried.”

Thereupon we proceeded to the dress ques. "I will be careful. But how is he now, Mrs. tion. Helen revealed her stores : I passed my Cargill ?”

opinions. I heard Mr. Wainwright seldom “Better : but he don't seem himself. He's

gave her money to spend, but was often kind rather unnatural quiet."

in bringing home things he saw, and fancied “He has not been a doctor ?"

looked handsome. There were indeed some “No, ma'am. I wanted to send, but he said very good articles among a great many worththere was no occasion ; he knew what ailed him. less ones. We decided on what improvements He's took some physic, and indeed, ma'am, I could be effected, agreed as to what purchases hope he's better ; but you'll see what you were indispensable, and I repaired to the parthink. Miss Helen is with him in the parlour.” lour under the idea that I was to talk over these

There was certainly no appearance of stormy indispensable matters with Mr. Wainwright. weather between Helen and her grandfather I found him prepared to begin on another now. He was looking pale and calm; Helen, subject. He watched me enter and close the gentle enough. She received me with a smile ; door, then pointed to a chair near his own, and and the old man raised his eyes from the fire- said side, and gave me a kindly greeting.

“I thought that foolish little wench would "You must stay, now you have come,” he keep you all day over her ribbons and frippery; said; “I'm not so well as I might be ; and we and I want to talk to you about matters that shall be having Helen out of sorts again, if she concern her more. Mrs. Gainsborough, you has no other company than her old grandfather.” have heard from Helen, I know, for she told

I tried to excuse myself, but he would take me so, that that young nephew of mine is wantno denial.

ing her to marry. Now, Mrs. Gainsborough, “There, go and have your chat together," he I look 'upon you as a woman of the world said ; "and when you have done talking over (I felt alarmed, but tried not to look it) : what muslins and fal-lals, I should like to speak with do you think of Grant Wainwright? What you myself, Mrs. Gainsborough.'

sort of position do you think he will take in Of course we did not begin with the muslins. the county ?” Helen's face had a pleased look upon it when I was scarcely prepared for such a question ; she closed her bed om door, and came to help but I thought for a few minutes, and tried to me to take off my cloak.

look judicious.


“Social position do you mean?”

things have been. Have you taken any steps “Yes. Will the gentlemen receive him as thereupon?” one of themselves? Will his wife be invited, “I have told Hawkins to make particular and hold a good place in society--that is, sup- enquiries about him, and to come over and tell posing they have plenty of money to back me his opinion. If he thinks Will Harper may them?"

be right, I suppose I must give the hint to the “I am scarcely sufficiently acquainted with police.” the character of the gentlemen of this county “I think it would be advisable on public to be enabled to form an opinion. Among grounds, even if the robbery has not been conladies, although your nephew's handsome per- siderable enough to justify your taking trouble son is a recommendation, he is too careless of about it." what are considered essentials, to be valued in “Why, Mrs. Gainsborough, the confounded good society."

rascals have got hold of my will. Between “But he's young, Mrs. Gainsborough. ourselves, I'm not one of those fools always Young men are often careless through want of bragging of their riches; but Helen will have experience?"

such a fortune as will set all the scamps in the I shook my head. "If love has failed to country looking after her ; and who knows what soften his manners, I fear there must be some use they may make of it? There's Grant has great intractability about him. I fear he de- his faults, but he don't know one-fifth of what spises the opinion of gentlewomen, and perhaps she'll bring her husband, and he's willing to has some little world of his own, with whose take her any day. But-hang the fellow! to code he is satisfied."

lower himself by associating with house-break“ There you have it, ma’am! You are a ers! I know, of course he did not know the shrewd woman; I felt sure you were! Aye, man was a house-breaker, but the greater fool that's the point; and he's as obstinate as a mule he! Am I going to give the Darliston estate, upon it. But Helen's not to be looked down upon. and what not of property besides, into the hands Helen shall have a husband that will place her of a booby who don't know a gentleman from in as good a position as she deserves.

She's a cracksman ?-a' dolt who chooses his coma good girl ; and it shows her sense that she pany in the betting ring, and can't say Bo! to did not take to Grant, seeing the company he a goose when he's in good company? That keeps. Now, Mrs. Gainsborough, you're dis would be bringing my pigs to a pretty market! creet I know. What I am going to tell you is No, Mrs. Gainsborough ; I've not cared for a bit of a secret, and they say women can't keep society myself this long while, I've done with secrets, but that I think depends on what the it these many years; but when I was in my secrets are."

prime, there was not a door in the county that “I think I can keep a bit of a secret,” I was closed against Philip Wainwright; and if said; “don't give me anything too heavy to I had not set my hearton- Well, well! anyhow carry, Mr. Wainwright."

I had pretty well the pick of the county for a “Wellsee here, Mrs. Gainsborough, it's no wife, and Helen shall have a husband from the great matter after all, only it would be a dis- best in the land. She could buy them all out, grace to Grant to have it known, if it prove as I tell you! Helen's as good as any of them, is thought; and though he deserves punishment, and shall ride yet in as fine a carriage! (Here I would rather not have it talked about. You Helen came into the room, and went to the cormust know, about Christmas I heard Grant had

per cupboard for the tea-caddy), Helen shall go some visitors at the Rood Farm; and Mr. Haw. in her diamonds and laces, and be presented at kins, an old acquaintance of mine, came and Court; I say she shall I" and his fist came down told me they were an ill set my nephew had on the table. about him, and I'd better look to it, or he'd be Helen, caddy in hand, made a profound ruined. So I just bade Grant bring some of curtsey and said, " And Helen will say—May it them to the Hall, thinking if they were ques-please your Majesty, next time you come our tionable characters they would be off and not way I shall be most happy to see you at Darlisventure to show themselves. They came how-ton; for we have most beautiful new spoons, ever, and certainly behaved respectably. Now and oh! such a teapot !"”. there was a little man named Witham among I dare say it is wise of her to make a joke of them-very pleasant sort of company, and he these brilliant promises. Indeed I was more got poking about the place with my grand- amused than surprised to find their realisation daughter. I thought he meant to make love to at present go no further than a five-pound note. her, but she said-nothing of the sort; that he Helen observed afterwards, "Grandfather just wanted her to show him the carvings over always talks like a fairy godmother, when he is the mantel-pieces. Well; I've not said a word in a good humour; and I suppose you must to Helen, because she's had fright enough about have charmed him into one, for we were dull the rascals. Why, Will Harper says to me that when you came." for the life of him he cannot get out of his For all, I am persuaded he has made her hís head that one of the three who held him down heiress, and his property must be considerable. and gagged him was this Mr. Witham!” Doubtless he looks forward to her being a per

“ Indeed! That is strange; but stranger son of high consideration in the county, as the

crown of his labours ; thus he allows his imagi- , health ; which attention, Helen thinking the nation to deck her in jewels and splendour, occasion less serious than it was, rated too while, on the other hand, the habit of holding fast highly, and, as I was silent, seemed to think I his money is too strong to allow him to bring did not give credit to Grant's possessing any his ideal to reality. I think his anxiety at the genuine feeling on the subject. probability of her being the object of fortune

“Poor Grant,” she observed; "indeed his hunters very justifiable. Poor girl, what sort heart is not bad.” of a preparation has her life at Darliston been for so dangerous a position?. Still the idea of swears, out of the abundance of the heart the

“Then you do not think that when he raves and his selecting her a husband is to me quite as alarming. Helen has perhaps as much prac.

mouth speaketh ?"" tical sense as most girls of her age; but iri regard

“Oh, that swearing is a horrible habit! I to experience, there lies her danger ! Her

have not a word to say for him there. Only, imaginative nature and keen feelings might dear Mrs. Gainsborough, now that I am free readily be worked upon by the designing. Yet, from fear of being urged to marry him, I wish all considered, I cannot but think her better to do him justice; and as I have told you all chance of happiness is in choosing for herself; bad of him, I would not have you suppose that and I hope habit

, the habit of having Helen he is always and altogether bad. He has some with him, will be too strong to admit of action to good qualities :-for instance, he never drinks the contrary. Meanwhile I must try to induce to excess, let him go where he will. Neither him to let Helen see a little of the world, as far" would he tell a lie, I am sure; and Grant has as it can be seen from under the wing of that feeling.” “shrewd woman,” Mrs. Gainsborough.

“Well, Helen, some hearing you, would say We had some conversation about my new you were relenting ; but I am well aware it is found relatives. Mr. Wainwright spoke highly possible to see good in a man whom one would of them, and assured me I should find them not for the whole world be united with. I shall very valuable connections. Helen avowed only caution you not to let any feeling of genethat she liked Mr. Littington, but was rather rosity mislead you in your conduct towards afraid of him. “He seems,” she said, “as if him; you had better still seem a determined he were reading everybody; and I am sure he adversary." can see lots of faults in me. It's unpleasant, because I cannot quarrel with him and have it “Oh, never fear, dear Mrs. Gainsborough, I out. If I could do that, I think we should like know I ought not. If I were in his place, ineach other much better."

clined towards a person who was positively deHelen's merry mood kept up all the evening. termined not to marry me, I should find any We adjourned after tea to the drawing-room,

show of amiability a cruelty. Indeed if he Mr. Wainwright having retired early to bed ; and would get up a little earnest hatred of me, it played and sang for an hour, to each other's would rather relieve my mind; for, though I great contentment. It was indeed very delight

do not accuse myself of having encouraged his ful to me to listen to Helen's fresh young voice, attachment, I am sorry to think I have not especially as she sung with a spirit and gaiety been more active in preventing it." which showed the relief of her heart.

On Sunday we again met, for I had suggested My office of keeper of secrets gave my mind to Helen that she should sit with me in church, some trouble at intervals. Suspicions from two and she gladly consented, the pew being less different quarters having settled on the same exposed to observation than that belonging to person as implicated in the burglary, more than Darliston Hall. Grant Wainwright came into doubled the case against him, and gave me a church before the sermon, and followed at a feeling of responsibility in possessing such little distance as we left the churchyard. I knowledge. When I rose to depart, I ques- suggested her coming with me to Fairclough, if tioned Helen what course she thought it likely she disliked the idea of his escort to Darliston. her grandfather would pursue, were she to ac She declined, saying that she could not delay, quaint him with her suspicions; adding, “I and have her grandfather kept waiting for his almost think you should tell him."

dinner on Grant's account. “Besides," she “I have thought about it a good deal,” she added; “I have come to the resolution of tellreplied, " but for the present would rather not. ing him my suspicions about his friend Mr. Matters have gone so well as yet, so much Witham. Don't you think that is the most better than I feared ; and if I were to tell this, straightforward course ?" there would be another scene with Grant.' This I knew was more to be deprecated than

I believe she is right, and I told her so ; but even Helen was aware of; so I said no more.

as I looked over my bedroom blind at the two But I feel still puzzled about it, and am wishing walking up-hill together, I shook my head, and Richard were here to decide for me what course

breataed a sigh of anxiety. I should take.

Helen walked with me as far as the bridge. On the way we talked of Grant Wainwright. He had sent in the course of the evening to Mrs. Cargill, to inquire after her master's

[ocr errors]


of debt hanging over you? Even if you were

delivered from that, am I fit to be a poor man's MRS. GAINSBOROUGH ACTS THE PART OF A wife? What if, as you propose, I were to suffer BIRD OF WISDOM-BY DAY-LIGHT, you to continue tangled in an engagement, how

many years must that continue before you are Scarcely more than half-a-mile across the in a position to take a portionless bride” fields to St. Bride's. This I had heard from Althea, I know not how long you could Helen; and the morning being propitious, I wait for a home with me; but for myself the hope took sketch-book in hand, resolved to reach the of winning you, did I serve as Jacob served for ruin I had so great interest in, from its having Rachael, would be sweeter than the possession been the scene of frequent meetings between my of any dowered bride, even though she were father and mother in their days of courtship. lovely as yourself.” Now I have seen the beautiful little ruin, I am “Not so, Arden. You love as men love ; not surprised it should be so chosen, and it nay, I do not question in the least the force and seems it still is a favourite resort on such occa- sincerity of your attachment. But I know, sions, for I witnessed a lover's meeting there when you have left the country, have mingled myself.

in gay scenes, have tasted the cup of pleasure, My desire was to make a sketch from a cer, and the joys of successful ambition, how differtain ivied-window recess, which, from oft-told ent will then appear the engagement you now description, I knew to have been my father's would fetter yourself with.” favourite post of observation. With much self There was a touch of pride, I thought, as well gratulation I discovered it, and, not without as of sadness, in the tones of the gentleman, difficulty, for it was at some height, made my especially when he spoke next : way towards it, and settled myself for a sketch. " You cannot or will not believe me. The The ruined gate-way a little to the left was the years already gone by should have proved that chief object I had wished to trace, for there my you are more precious to me than anything else mother had sat when she made the drawing I the world can offer." possess; and I thought to introduce her figure “I do believe you, Arden; but I tell you it so employed, or approaching from the Marsham should not be so. Duty commands us both to road, which lies beyond.

put away from our affection anything that can The scene, beautiful in itself, was yet more militate against the success of your career. interesting to me from association ; I was soon Think how your mother's very life is bound up deeply intent on my occupation, hearing no- in it!” thing but the rustle of the breeze in the ivy The lover's mind did not seem disposed to about me, conscious of no company save that dwell on this point; it held tenacious hold of of the few sheep feeding about the ruin. Sud. another. denly a voice almost at my feet, spoke thus -- “I asked but for one year's grace, because I “You do me cruel wrong, Arden.


am conscious that I have no right to make my man's first love is always her best.”

affection the means of dragging you down from And then, before I had made up my mind the station you are so qualified to adorn and whether to cough or not, another voice-Mr. enjoy. You have said you are not fit to be a Arden's, of course-responded in these treason poor man's wife : perhaps you are right. Once able words :

more then, will you suffer me still to think you Women do not know what love is ;” and are mine in heart for twelve months longer? then proceeded, "would that I could be sure Althea, can you, will you, quench the hope that you knew your own heart. Listen to me, for has been my brightest happiness since childthis may be the last time I can speak freely to hood ?” you. You tell me you will not change, that I His tones were very earnest.

There was a shall still be dear to you, and you bid me depart pause. She relents, I thought. No. without a hope. Say still that you love me, and “Arden, I came here resolved to do my duty. what difficulties can forbid my hoping! Some- I bid you go forth to success, to renown. thing may yet be done, something shall be the past rest as a sweet dream of youth ; think of done to retrieve my affairs. Who can say what me as of one who loves you as a friend and a few years may bring? Trust me, Althea ; kinswoman, one whose spirit will ever be near with your love to sustain me there is yours, watching your progress, rejoicing in nothing I do not feel strength to meet and over your honours; but dream no more of a mar


riage which destiny has evidently denied. Ere Again the lady's voice :

many years are over, perhaps months, I may Arden, I feel beyond expression grateful for hear that you are wedded to some fair girl whose the devotion of your heart. The love I bear for delight it will be to rain gold upon you. She you is no less strong-nay, I fear, more strong will love you, Arden. She cannot fail to love than that which now sways you; but it is my you; and I --fear not for me. The sense of destiny to prove that love not in weakly acced- duty performed, the belief that your happiness ing to blind feeling, but in aiding you to con- is secured, will make that which now may seem quer that which stands in the way of a noble a sacrifice, a sacred memory.". career. Oh! Arden, marriage with me would And you will be happier, Althea, than as a be your ruin! Can I free you from the burden 'poor man's wife. Be it so."






* Yes, put it upon that if you will.”

young ladies with their mamma, and they “I will urge you no more."

seemed disappointed on finding I was from “But you are not angry? We shall yet be home. I must endeavour to make my way to friends, Árden?”

them from Tudfield before the week is over. “Friends ? Althea, I have had two friends Indeed it is time I bestir myself in the matter in my life; they have been men."

of visits, for Mr. Grey the vicar called with his In a low caressing tone I heard her say, sister yesterday, and I have also to see Mrs. "Poor boy!" I think she placed her hand upon Merrivale. If the weather is as fair to-morrow, him, for it seemed that he started or shrank I will begin by riding over to Leyton farm. from her. Doing so, he came within my view among the thick twining ivy. It was a face, an expression not to be forgotten ; that expression changed under the influence of a strong effort at self-possession, and the face was no longer remarkable; only that of a rather handsome

CHAP. IX. young English gentleman, fair and somewhat pale.

GAINSBOROUGH, His voice was altered when he spoke again SEEKING TO SUNDER A FRIENDSHIP, COM

“ Lady Althea, your servant is seeking you. MENCES ONE ON HER OWN ACCOUNT. Is it your pleasure to go alone to the roadside, or may I have the honour of accompanying “Launcelot, what do you think of the wea

ther this morning?" “Not for the world,” she spoke hurriedly; “It looks fairish, ma'am." and then more composedly added : “You are “Will it hold up till evening! I want to angry now, Arden; but the time will come ride over to Leyton Farm this afternoon." when you will thank me for this. Farewell, Launcelot resumed his occupation of digging good cousin,"

up a bed for mignonette, with a wrinkle on I saw a small gloved hand tendered. He took his brow: presently he raised himself, and spoke it somewhat coldly, saying, “Farewell, Althea ; again. and farewell to the dream of our youth. May “ You will be going by the seashore, ma’am, the joys of successful ambition compensate to no doubt, and it would be bad to be caught. us both.”

There's no shelter, once you are out from the I did not hear her go. The grass amid the rocks, all the way to Mr. Merrivale's. Still, ruins was soft; the sheep cropping it made ma'am, if you would not mind returning through more sound than the lady's footstep. Presently General Wetheral's, or would go round by I saw her pass under the gateway-a tall and Cardington-which is a longish way, indeed - I graceful figure clad in a riding habit, and wear think as you might trust the weather.” ing a long black plume in her hat. How I Launcelot is accounted somewhat weatherdreaded she would turn back for a parting look, wise: I bade him saddle Paddy by two o'clock, and see me !

dined early, and was ready accordingly, While listening perforce to their voices, in- Launce's description of my route a little bewilterest had almost overcome the sense of my own

dered me. situation. After the first words spoken, I “You'll turn by the garden-wall as if you doubted if it might not cause less harm to hear was going to church, ma'am; but keep to your on than to disclose myself. This difference, left instead, along an old road-— 'least it was a however, I soon felt: to have done it at once road, but that was long ago, when there was a would have put them in an awkward plight ; house, or a something of the sort, among the afterwards, if discovery took place, even greater rocks. There's a kind of chimney standing, awkwardness would fall on me. Had the gen- which you'll please to look out for; and mind tleman moved a step or two he must have seen and turn to your right directly you see it, or me; but my fears were needless. While sitting you're certain to get wrong. When you come listening for some assurance of his departure, out from the rocks you will have the sands all I heard one sigh that was almost more than a the way to Leyton Farm. It's a matter of two sigh; soon after I plainly discerned his footfall miles, but you may see the house at once, for on the path outside.

it's a white 'un; and, when the sun shines as it My sketch of course was unfinished. I does now, you may see it as plain as Cardingspeedily gathered my materials together, not ton Castle.' even stopping to look for my penknife, which I I engaged Lance to pilot me through the fear is lost, and, before quitting the abbey rocks, discharging him, however, before I had walls, saw the gentleman proceeding down-hill actually emerged from their shelter, for the way on the side opposite to Fairclough.

to the sands was open before me. My spirits Half-way towards home I encountered Will raised by the pleasure of my ride, and the near Barncliffe mending a gate; and he gave me approach to the sea, I may have been a little information that a carriage with ladies had been careless of my duties as horsewoman; at all drawn up before Fairclough. It proved to have events, I had not left the rocks six feet behind been Mrs. Ainslie's, the sister of Mr. Litting- me, when Paddy performed an odd sort of back, ton, Susan told me there were three very nice movement, and to my astonishment I found

« ForrigeFortsett »