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Full text of "Barth, Derrida, and the language of theology"

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yss-JU 



.4 



BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE 



BEECHCROFT 



AT ROCKSTONE 



BY 

CHAELOTTE M. 4oNGE 

A ^ 

AX7TH0R OF * THB HEIR OF REDCLYFFE,' 'UNKNOWN TO HISTORY.' 

ETC 



IN TWO VOLUMES 
VOL. II 



• • 






Honlion 

MACMILLAN AND CO. 

AND NKT YORK 
1888 



All rights reserved 









Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinlmrgh 




I 






CONTENTS 



^ CHAPTER XIII 

j^ PAGE 

St. Valentine's Day . . . . . . 1 

' CHAPTER XIV 

^ The Partner' 22 



CHAPTER XV 
The Rocks op Rockstone ..... 40 

CHAPTER XVI 
Vanished 60 

CHAPTER XVII 
*Thet come, they come* 76 

CHAPTER XVIII 
Father and Mother 99 

CHAPTER XIX 
The Knight and the Dragon 118 



VI CONTENTS 



CHAPTER XX 

PAGE 

IviNGHOE Terrace 145 



CHAPTER XXI 
Beauty and the Beast . . . . . .168 

CHAPTER XXII 
The Maiden all forlorn 199 

CHAPTER XXIII 
Fangs 226 

CHAPTER XXIV 
Conclusion 262 



BEECHCEOFT AT ROCKSTONE 



CHAPTER XIII 

ST. valentine's day 

Miss Mohun came back in the dark after a long day, 
for once in her life quite jaded, and explaining that 
the health-officer and the landlord had been by no 
means agreed, and that nothing could be done till Sir 
Jasper came home and decided whether to retain the 
house or not. 

All that she was clear about, and which she had 
telegraphed to Aden, was, that there must be no going 
back to Silverfold for the present, and she was prepared 
to begin lodging-hunting as soon as she received an 
answer. 

' And how have you got on ? ' she asked, thinking 
all looked rather blank. 

'We haven't been to see Fly,' broke out Valetta, 
' though she went out on the beach, and Mysie must 
not stay out after dark, for fear she should cough.' 

'Mysie says they are afraid of excitement/ said 
Gillian gloomily. 

VOL. n M 



2 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

' Then you have seen nothing of the others ? ' 

' Yes, I have seen Victoria/ said Aunt Adeline, with 

a meaning smile. 

Miss Mohun went up to take off her things, and 

Gillian followed her, shutting the door with ominous 

carefulness, and colouring all over. 

* Aunt Jane, I ought to tell you. A dreadful thing 
has happened ! ' 

' Indeed, my dear ! What ? 

' I have had a valentine.' 

' Oh ! ' repressing a certain inclination to laugh at the 
bathos from the look of horror and shame in the girl's 
eyes. 

' It is from that miserable Alexis ! Oh, I know I 
brought it on myself, and I have been so wretched 
and so ashamed all day.' 

* Was it so very shocking 1 Let me see ' 

' Oh ! I sent it back at once by the post, in an 
envelope, saying, " Sent by mistake." ' 

' But what was it like ? Surely it was not one of 
the common shop things ? ' 

'Oh no; there was rather a pretty outline of a 
nymph or muse, or something of that sort, at the top^ 
drawn, I mean — and verses written below, something 
about my showing a lodestar of hope, but I barely 
glanced at it. I hated it too much.' 

* I am sorry you were in such a hurry,' said Aunt 
Jane. 'No doubt it was a shock; but I am afraid 
you have given more pain than it quite deserved.' 



XIII ' ST, VALENTINES DA Y 3 

' It was 80 impertinent ! ' cried Gillian, in astonished, 
shame-stricken indignation. 

' So it seems to you,' said her aunt, ' and it was 
very bad taste; but you should remember that this 
poor lad has grown up in a stratum of society where 
he may have come to regard this as a suitable oppor- 
tunity of evincing his gratitude, and perhaps it may be 
very hard upon him to have this work of his treated 
as an insult' 

'But you would not have had me keep it and 
tolerate it ? ' exclaimed Gillian. 

' I can hardly tell without having seen it ; but you^ 
might have done the thing more civilly, through his 
sister, or have let me give it back to him. However, 
it is too late now; I will make a point of seeing 
Kalliope to-morrow, but in the meantime you really 
need not be so horribly disgusted and ashamed' 

* I thought he was quite a different sort 1 ' 

' Perhaps, after all, your thoughts were not wrong ; 
and he only fancied, poor boy, that he had found a 
pretty way of thanking you.* 

This did not greatly comfort Gillian, who might 
prefer feeling that she was insulted rather than that 
she had been cruelly unkind, and might like to blame 
Alexis rather than herself. And, indeed, in any case, 
she had sense enough to perceive that this very un- 
acceptable compliment was the consequence of her 
own act of independence of more experienced heads. 

The next person Mia3 Mohun met was Fergus, 



4 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

lugging upstairs, step by step, a monstrous lump of 
stone, into which he required her to look and behold 
a fascinating crevice full of glittering spar. 

' Where did you get that, Fergus ? ' 

' Up off the cliflf over the quarry.' 

' Are you sure that you may have it ? * 

* Oh yes ; White said I might It's so joUy, 
auntie ! Frank Stebbing is gone away to the other 
shop in the Apennines, where the old boss lives. 
What splendiferous specimens he must have the run 
of! Our Stebbing says 'tis because Kally White 
makes eyes at him ; but any way, White has got to 
do his work while he's away, and go aU. the rounds to 
see that things are right ; so I go after him, and he lets 
me have just what I like — such jolly crystals.' 

' I am sure I hope it is all right.' 

' Oh yes, I always ask him, as you told me ; but he 
is awfully slow and mopy and down in the mouth to- 
day. Stebbing says he is sweet upon Gill ; but I told 
him that couldn't be, White knew better. A general's 
daughter, indeed ! and Will remembers his father a 
sergeant.' 

' It is very foolish, Fergus. Say no more about it, 
for it is not nice talk about your sister.' 

' I'll lick any one who does,' said Fergus, bumping 
his stone up another step. 

Poor Aunt Jane ! There was more to fall on her 
as soon as the door was finally shut on the two rooms 
communicating with one another, which the sisters 



XIII ST. VALENTINE'S DAY 5 

called their own. Mrs. Mount's manipulations of Miss 
Adeline's rich brown hair were endured with some 
impatience, while Miss Mohun leant back in her chair 
in her shawl-patterned dressing-gowD, watching, with a 
sort of curious wonder and foreboding, the restlessness 
that proved that something was in store, and meantime 
somewhat lazily brushing out her own thinner darker 
locks. 

'You are tired. Miss Jane,' said the old servant, 
using the pet name in private moments. 'You had 
better let me do your hair.' 

' No, thank you, Fanny ; I have very nearly done/ 
she said, marking the signs of eagerness on her sister's 
part. ' Oh, by the bye, did that hot bottle go down to 
LUian Giles V 

' Yes, ma'am ; Mrs. Giles came up for it.* 

' Did she say whether Lily was well enough to see 
Miss Gillian?' 

Mrs. Mount coughed a peculiar cough that her 
mistresses well knew to signify that she ccrnld tell them 
something they would not like to hear, if they chose 
to ask her, and it was the younger who put the 
question-^ — 

' Fanny, did she say anything ?' 

* Well, Miss Ada, I told her she must be mistaken ; 
but she stuck to it, though she said she never would 
have breathed a word if Miss Gillian had not come 
back again, but she thought you should know it.' 

' Know what V demanded Jane. 



6 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

* Well, Miss Jane, she should say 'tis the talk that 
Miss Gillian, when you have thought her reading to 
the poor girl, has been running down to the works — 
and 'tis only the ignorance of them that will talk, but 
they say it is to meet a young man. She says, Mrs. 
Giles do, that she never would have noticed such talk, 
but that the young lady did always seem in a hurry, 
only just reading a chapter, and never stopping to talk 
to poor Lily after it; and she has seen her herself 
going down towards the works, instead of towards home, 
ma'am. And she said she could not bear that reading 
to her girl should be made a colour for such doings.' 

' Certainly not, if it were as she supposes,' said Miss 
Mohun, sitting very upright, and beating her own head 
vigorously with a very prickly brush ; ' but you may 
tell her, Fanny, that I know all about it, and that her 
friend is Miss White, who you remember spent an 
evening here.' 

Fanny's good-humoured face cleared up. 'Yes, 
ma'am, I told her that I was quite sure that Miss 
Gillian would not go for to do anything wrong, and 
that it could be easy explained ; but people has tongues, 
you see.' 

* You were quite right to tell us, Fanny. Good- 
night.' 

* People has tongues !' repeated Adeline, when that 
excellent person had disappeared. * Yes, indeed, they 
have. But, Jenny, do you really mean to say that you 
know all about this ? ' 



-'•r -~ «~^ 



XIII ST. VALENTINE'S DAY 7 

' Yes, I believe so.' 

' Oh, I wish you had been at home to-day when 
Victoria came in. It really is a serious business.' 

' Victoria ! What has she to do with it ? I should 
have thought her Marchioness -ship quite out of the 
region of gossip, though, for that matter, grandees like 
it quite as much as other people.' 

' Don't, Jane ; you know it does concern her through 
companionship for Phyllis, and she was very kind.' 

' Oh yes, I can see her sailing in, magnificently kind 
from her elevation. But how in the world did she 
manage to pick up all this in the time ?' said poor 
Jane, tired and pestered into the sharpness of her early 
youth. 

' Dear Jenny, I wish I had said nothing to-night. 
Do wait till you are rested.' 

' I am not in the least tired, and if I were, do you 
think I could sleep with this half told V 

* You said you knew.' 

' Then it is only about Gillian being so silly as to 
go down to Miss White's ofl&ce at the works to look 
over the boy's Greek exercises.' 

* You don't mean that you allowed it !' 

* No ; Gillian's impulsiveness, just like her mother's, 
began it, as a little assertion of modern independence ; 
but while she was away that little step from brook to 
river brought her to the sense that she had been a 
goose, and had used me rather unfairly, and so she 
came and confessed it all to me on the way home from 



8 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

the station the first morning after her return. She 
says she had written it all to her mother from the 
first/ 

'I wonder Lily did not telegraph to put a stop 
to it' 

'Do you suppose any mother, our poor old Lily 
especially, can marry a couple of daughters without 
being slightly frantic ? Ten to one she never realised 
that this precious pupil was bigger than Fergus. But 
do tell me what my Lady had heard, and how she 
heard it.' 

'You remember that her governess, Miss Elbury, 
has connections in the place.' 

' " The most excellent creature in the world." Oh 
yes, and she spent Sunday with them. So that was 
the conductor.' 

'I can hardly say that Miss Elbury was to be 
blamed, considering that she had heard the proposal 
about Valetta ! It seems that that High School class 
mistress, Miss Mellon, who had the poor child under 
her, is her cousin.' 

' Oh dear !' 

' It is exactly what I was afraid of when we decided 
on keeping Valetta at home. Miss Mellon told all the 
Caesar story in plainly the worst light for poor Val, 
and naturally deduced from her removal that she was 
the most to blame.' 

' Whereas it was Miss Mellon herself ! But nobody 
could expect Victoria to see that, and no doubt she is 



XIII ST, VALENTINE'S DAY 9 

quite justified in not wishing for the child in her 
schooboom ! But, after all, Valetta is only a child ; it 
won't hurt her to have this natural recoil of conse- 
quences, and her mother will be at home in three weeks' 
time. It signifies much more about Gillian. Did I 
understand you that the gossip about her had reached 
those august ears V 

* Oh yes, Jane, and it is ever so much worse. That 
horrid Miss Mellon seems to have told Miss Elbury 
that Gillian has a passion for low company, that she 
is always running after the Whites at the works, and 
has secret meetings with the young man in the garden 
on Sunday, while his sister carries on her underhand 
flirtation with another youth, Erank Stebbing, I suppose. 
It really was too preposterous, and Victoria said she 
had no doubt from the first that there was exaggera- 
tion, and had told Miss Elbury so ; but still she thought 
Gillian must have been to blame. She was very nice 
about it, and listened to all my explanation most 
kindly, as to Gillian's interest in the Whites, and its 
having been only the sister that she met, but plainly 
she is not half convinced. I heard something about a 
letter being left for Gillian, and really, I don't know 
whether there may not be more discoveries to come. 
I never felt before the force of our dear father's saying, 
apropos of Eotherwood himself, that no one knows 
what it is to lose a father except those who have the 
care of his children.' 

' Whatever Gillian did was innocent and ladylike. 



lo BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

and nothing to be ashamed of/ said Aunt Jane stoutly ; 
' of that I am sure. But I should like to be equally 
sure that she has not turned the head of that poor 
foolish young man, without in the least knowing what 
she was about. You should have seen her state of 
mind at his sending her a valentine, which she returned 
to him, perfectly ferociously, at once ; and that was all 
the correspondence somebody seems to have smelt out.' 

' A valentine ! Gillian must have behaved very ill 
to have brought that upon herself ! Oh dear ! I wish 
she had never come here; I wish lily could have 
stayed at home, instead of scattering her children 
about the world. The Eotherwoods will never get 
over it' 

' That's the least part of the grievance, in my eyes,' 
said her sister. ' It won't make a fraction of diflPerence 
to the dear old cousin Eotherwood ; and as to my Lady, 
it is always a liking from the teeth outwards.' 

' How can you say so ! I am sure she has always 
been most cordiaL' 

' Most correct, if you please. Oh, did she say any- 
thing about Mysie ?' 

' She said nothing but good of Mysie ; called her 
delightful, and perfectly good and trustworthy; said 
they could never have got so well through Phyllis's 
illness without her, and that they only wished to keep 
her altogether.' 

' I dare say, to be humble companion to my little 
lady, out of the way of her wicked sisters.' 



» — « A 



XIII ST, VALENTINE'S DAY ii 

'Jane!' 

- My dear, I don't think I can stand any more de- 
fence of her just now ! No, she is an admirable woman, 
I know. That's enough. I really must go to bed, 
and consider which is to be faced first, she or Kalliope.' 

It was lucky that Miss Mohun could exist without 
much sleep, for she was far too much worried for any 
length of slumber to visit her that night, though she 
was afoot as early as usual She thought it best to 
tell Gillian that Lady Rotherwood had heard some 
foolish reports, and that she was going to try to clear 
them up, and she extracted an explicit account as to 
what the extent of her intercourse with the Whites 
had been, which was given willingly, Gillian being in 
a very humble frame, and convinced that she had acted 
foolishly. It surprised her likewise that Aunt Adeline, 
whom she had liked the best, and thought the most 
good-natured, was so much more angry with her than 
Aunt Jane, who, as she felt, forgave her thoroughly, 
and was only anxious to help her out of the scrape 
she had made for herself. 

Miss Mohun thought her best time for seeing Kal- 
liope would be in the dinner-hour, and started accord- 
ingly in the direction of the marble works. Not far 
from them she met that young person walking quickly 
with one of her little brothers. 

* I was coming to see you,' Miss Mohun said. ' I 
did not know that you went home in the middle of 
the day.' 



12 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

* My mother has been so unwell of late that I do 
not like to be entirely out of reach all day/ returned 
Kalliope, who certainly looked worn and sorrowful; 
'so I manage to run home, though it is but for a 
quarter of an hour/ 

* I will not delay you, I will walk with you ;' and 
when Petros had been dismissed, ' I am afraid my niece 
has not been quite the friend to you that she intended.* 

* Oh, Miss Mohun, do you know all about it ? It 
is such a relief ! I have felt so guilty towards you, 
and yet I did not know what to do.' 

* I have never thought that the concealment was 
your fault,' said Jane. 

' I did think at first that you knew/ said Kalliope ; 
' and when I found that was not the case, I suppose I 
should have insisted on your being told ; but I could 
not bear to seem ungrateful, and my brother took such 
extreme delight in his lessons and Miss Merrifield*s 
kindness, that — that I could not bear to do what might 
prevent them. And now, poor fellow, it shows how 
wrong it was, since he has ventured on that unfor- 
tunate act of presumption, which has so offended her. 
Oh, Miss Mohun, he is quite broken-hearted.' 

' I am afraid Gillian was very discourteous. I was 
out, or it should not have been done so unkindly. 
Indeed, in the shock, Gillian did not recollect that she 
might be giving pain.' 

' Yes, yes ! Poor Alexis ! He has not had any 
opportunity of understanding how different things are 



XIII ST, VALENTINE'S DAY 13 

in your class of life, and he thought it would show his 

gratitude and — ^and Oh, he is so miserable !' 

and she was forced to stop to wipe away her tears. 

* Poor fellow ! But it was one of those young men's 
mistakes that are got over and outgrown, so you need 
not grieve over it so much, my dear. My brother-in- 
law is on his way home, and I know he means to see 
what can be done for Alexis, for your father's sake.' 

' Oh, Miss Mohun, how good you are ! I thought 
you could never forgive ua And people do say such 
shocking things.' 

' I know they do, and therefore I am going to ask 
you to tell me exactly what intercourse there has been 
with Gillian.' 

Kalliope did so, and Miss Mohun was struck with 
the complete accordance of the two accounts, and like- 
wise by the total absence of all attempt at self-justifica- 
tion on Miss White's part. If she had in any way 
been weak, it had been against her will, and her posi- 
tion had been an exceedingly diflScult one. She spoke 
in as guarded a manner as possible ; but to such acute 
and experienced ears as those of her auditor, it was 
impossible not to perceive that, while Gillian had been 
absolutely simple, and unconscious of all but a kind 
act of patronage, the youth's imagination had taken 
fire, and he had become her ardent worshipper ; with 
calf-love, no doubt, but with a distant, humble adora- 
tipn, which had, whether fortunately or unfortunately, 
for once found expression in the valentine so summarily 



14 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

rejected. The drawing and the composition had been 
the work of many days, and so much against his sister's 
protest that it had been sent without her knowledge, 
after she had thought it given up. She had only 
extracted the confession through his uncontrollable 
despair, which made him almost unfit to attend to 
his increased work, perhaps by his southern nature 
exaggerated. 

'The stronger at first, the sooner over,' thought 
Miss Mohun; but she knew that consolation betray- 
ing her comprehension would not be safe. 

One further discovery she made, namely, that on 
Sunday, Alexis, foolish lad, had been so wildly impatient 
at their having had no notice from Gillian since her 
return, that he had gone to the garden to explain, as 
he said, his sister's non-appearance there, since she 
was detained by her mother's illness. It was the only 
time he had ever been there, and he had met no one ; 
but Miss Mohun felt a sinking of heart at the fore- 
boding that the mauvaises langices would get hold of it. 

The only thing to be decided on was that there 
must be a suspension of intercourse, at any rate, tUl 
Lady Merrifield's arrival; not in unkindness, but as 
best for all. And, indeed, Kalliope had no time to 
spare from her mother, whose bloated appearance, poor 
woman, was the effect of long-standing disease. 

The daughter's heart was very full of her, and 
evidently it would have been a comfort to discuss her 
condition with this kind friend; but no more delay 



i 



XIII ST. VALENTINE'S DAY 15 

was possible ; and Miss Mohun had to speed home, in 
a quandary how much or how little about Alexis's 
hopeless passion should be communicated to its object, 
and finally deciding that Gillian had better only be 
informed that he had been greatly mortified by the 
rude manner of rejection, but that the act itself proved 
that she must abstain from all renewal of the inter- 
course till her parents should return. 

But that was not all the worry of the day. Miss 
Mohun had still to confront Lady Eotherwood ; and, 
going as soon as the early dinner was over, found the 
Marchioness resting after an inspection of houses in 
Bockquay. She did not like hotels, she said, and she 
thought the top of the clifif too bleak for Phyllis, so 
that they must move nearer the sea if the place agreed 
with her at all, which was doubtful. Miss Mohun 
was pretty well convinced that the true objection was 
the neighbourhood of Beechcroft Cottage. She said 
she had come to give some explanation of what had 
been said to her sister yesterday. 

' Oh, my dear Jane, Adeline told me all about it 
yesterday. I am very sorry for you to have had such 
a charge; but what could you expect of girls cast 
about as they have been, always with a marching 
regiment V 

' I do not think Mysie has given you any reason to 
think her ill brought up.' 

* A little uncouth at first ; but that was alL Oh, 
no ! Mysie is a dear little girl. I should be very 



i6 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

glad to have her with Phyllis altogether, and so would 
Rotherwood. But she was very young when Sir 
Jasper retired.' 

' And Valetta was younger. Poor little girl ! She 
was naughty; but I do not think she understood the 
harm of what she was doing.* 

Lady Eotherwood smiled. 

' Perhaps not ; but she must have been deeply in- 
volved, since she was the one amongst all the guilty to 
be expelled.' 

' Oh, Victoria ! Was that what you heard ?' 

' Miss Elbury heard it from the governess she was 
under. Surely she was the only one not permitted to 
go up for the examination and removed.' 

' True, but that was our doing — no decree of the 
ffigh SchooL Her own governess is free now, and 
her mother on her way, and we thought she had better 
not begin another term. Yes, Victoria, I quite see 
that you might doubt her fitness to be much with 
Phyllis. I am not asking for that — I shall try to get 
her own governess to come at once ; but for the child's 
sake and her mother's I should like to get this cleared 
up. May I see Miss Elbury V 

' Certainly ; but I do not think you will find that 
she has exaggerated, though of course her informant 
may have done so.' 

Miss Elbury was of the older generation of gover- 
nesses, motherly, kind, but rather prim and precise, the 
accomplished element being supplied with diplomaed 



XIII ST. VALENTINE'S DA Y 17 

foreigners, who, since Lady Phyllis's failure in health, 
had been dispensed with. She was a good and 
sensible woman, as Jane could see, in spite of the 
annoyance her report had occasioned, and it was im- 
possible not to assent when she said she had felt 
obliged, under the circumstances, to mention to Lady 
Eotherwood what her cousin had told her. 

' About both my nieces,* said Jane. * Yes, I quite 
understand. But, though of course the little one's 
affair is the least important, we had better get to the 
bottom of that first, and I should like to tell you 
what really happened.' 

She told her story, and how Valetta had been 
tempted and then bullied into going beyond the first 
peeps, and finding she did not produce the impression 
she wished, she begged Miss Elbury to talk it over 
with the head-mistress. It was all in the telling. 
Miss Elbury's young cousin, Miss Mellon, had been 
brought under rebuke, and into great danger of dis- 
missal, through Valetta Merrifield's lapse ; and it was 
no wonder that she had warned her kinswoman against 
'the horrid little deceitful thing,' who had done so 
much harm to the whole class. *Miss Mohun was 
running about over the whole place, but not knowing 
what went on in her own house !' And as to Miss 
White, Miss Elbury mentioned at last, though with 
some reluctance, that it was believed that she had 
been on the point of a private marriage, and of going 
to Italy with young Stebbing, when her machinations 

VOL. II c 



1 8 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

were detected, and he was forced to set off without 
her. 

With this in her mind, the governess could not be 
expected to accept as satisfactory what was not entire 
confutation or contradiction, and Miss Mohun saw 
that, politely as she was listened to, it was all only 
treated as excuse, since there could be no denial of 
Gillian's folly, and it was only a question of degree. 

And, provoking as it was, the disappointment might 
work well for Valetta. The allegations against Gillian 
were a far more serious affair, but much more of these 
could be absolutely disproved and contradicted ; in fact, 
all that Miss Mohun herself thought very serious, i.«. 
the flirtation element, was shown to be absolutely false, 
both as regarded Gillian and Kalliope ; but it was quite 
another thing to convince people who knew none of 
the parties, when there was the residuum of truth un- 
deniable, that there had been secret meetings not only 
with the girl, but the youth. To acquit Gillian of 
all but modem independence and imprudent philan- 
thropy was not easy to any one who did not under- 
stand her character; and though Lady Eotherwood 
said nothing more in the form of censure, it was 
evident that she was unconvinced that Gillian was not 
a fast and flighty girl, and that she did not desire more 
contact than was necessary. 

No doubt she wished herself farther off! Lord 
Eotherwood, she said, was coming down in a day or 
two, when he could get away, and then they should 



XIII ST. VALENTINE'S DA Y 19 

decide whether to take a house or to go abroad, which, 
after all, might be the best thing for Phyllis. 

' He will make all the diflference,' said Miss Adeline, 
when the unsatisfactory conversation was reported to 
her. 

' I don't know ! But even if he did, and I don't 
think he will, I won't have Valetta waiting for his 
decision and admitted on sufferance.' 

'Shall you send her back to school?' 

' No. Poor Miss Vincent is free, and quite ready 
to come here. Fergus shall go and sleep among his 
fossils in the lumber-room, and I will write to her at 
once. She will be much better here than waiting at 
Silverton, though the Hacketts are very kind to her.' 

* Yes, it will be better to be independent. But all 
this is very unfortunate. However, Victoria will see 
for herself what the children are. She has asked me 
to take a drive with her to-morrow if it is not too 
cold.' 

' Oh yes, she is not going to make an estrangement. 
You need not fear that, Ada. She does not think it 
your fault' 

Aunt Jane pondered a little as to what to say to 
the two girls, and finally resolved that Valetta had 
better be told that she was not to do lessons with Fly, 
as her behaviour had made Lady Eotherwood doubt 
whether she was a good companion. Valetta stamped 
and cried, and said it was very hard and cross when 
she had been so sorry and every one had forgiven her ; 



20 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

but Gillian joined heartily with Aunt Jane in trying 
to make the child understand that consequences often 
come in spite of pardon and repentance. To GiUian 
herself. Aunt Jane said as little as possible, not liking 
even to give the veriest hint of the foolish gossip, or of 
the extent of poor Alexis White's admiration ; for it 
was enough for the girl to know that concealment 
had brought her under a cloud, and she was chiefly 
concerned as to how her mother would look on it. 
She had something of Aunt Jane's impatience of 
patronage, and perhaps thought it snobbish to seem 
concerned at the great lady's displeasure. 

Mysie was free to run in and out to her sisters, 
but was still to do her lessons with Miss !Elbury, and 
Fly took up more of her time than the sisters liked. 
Neither she nor Fly were formally told why their 
castles vanished into empty air, but there certainly 
was a continual disappointment and fret on both sides, 
which Fly could not bear as well as when she was in 
high health, and poor Mysie's loving heart often found 
it hard to decide between her urgent claims and those 
of Valetta ! 

But was not mamma coming ? and papa ? Would 
not all be well then ? Yes, hearts might bound at the 
thought. But where was Gillian's great thing ? 

Miss Vincent's coming was really like a beginning 
of home, in spite of her mourning and depressed 
look. It was a great consolation to the lonely 
woman to find how all her pupils flew at her, with 



XIII ST, VALENTINE'S DAY 21 

infinite delight. She had taken pains to bring a report 
of all the animals for Yaletta, and she duly admired 
all Fergus's geological specimens, and even undertook 
to print labels for them. 

Mysie would have liked to begin lessons again with 
her ; but this would have been hard on My, and besides, 
her mother had committed her to the Eotherwoods, 
and it was better still to leave her with them. 

The aunts were ready with any amount of kindness 
and sympathy for the governess's bereavement^ and 
her presence was a considerable relief in the various 
perplexities. 

Even Lady Eotherwood and Miss Elbury had been 
convinced, and by no means unwillingly, that Gillian 
had been less indiscreet than had been their first im- 
pression ; but she had been a young lady of the period 
in her independence, and was therefore to be dreaded. 
No more garden trystes would have been possible 
under any circumstances, for the house and garden 
were in full preparation for the master, who was to 
meet Lord Eotherwood to consult about the proposed 
water-works and other designs for the benefit of the 
town where they were the chief landowners. 



CHAPTEE XIV 

THE PARTNER 

The expected telegram arrived two days later, requesting 
Miss Mohun to find a lodging at Eockstone sufi&cient 
to contain Sir Jasper and Lady Merrifield, and a certain 
amount of sons and daughters, while they considered 
what was to be done about Silverfold. 

' So you and I will go out house-hunting, Gillian ? ' 
said Aunt Jane, when she had opened it, and the 
exclamations were over. 

*I am afraid there is no house large enough up 
here,' said her sister. 

*No, it is an unlucky time, in the thick of the 
season/ 

' Victoria said she had been looking at some houses 
in Bellevue.' 

'I am afraid she will have raised the prices of 
them.' 

'But, oh. Aunt Jane, we couldn't go to Bellevue 
Church ! * cried Gillian. 

' Your mother would like to be so near the daily 
services at the Kennel,' said Miss Mohun. 'Yes, we 



CHAP. XIV THE PARTNER 23 

must begin with those houses. There's nothing up 
here but Sorrento, and I have heard enough of its 
deficiencies ! ' 

At. that moment in came a basket of game, grapes, 
and flowers, with Lady Eotherwood's compliments. 

* Solid pudding,' muttered Miss Mohun. * In this 
case, I should almost prefer empty praise. Look here, 
Ada, what a hamper they must have had from home ! I 
think I shall, as I am going that way, take a pheasant 
and some grapes to the poor Queen of the White Ants ; 
I believe she is really ill, and it will show that we do 
not want to neglect them.' 

* Oh, thank you. Aunt Jane ! ' cried Gillian, the 
colour rising in her face; and she was the willing 
bearer of the basket as she walked down the steps 
with her aimt, and along the esplanade, only pausing to 
review the notices of palatial, rural, and desirable villas 
in the house-agent's window, and to consider in what 
proportion their claims to perfection might be reduced. 

As they turned down Ivinghoe Terrace, and were 
approaching the rusty garden-gate, they overtook Mrs. 
Lee, the wife of the organist of St. Kenelm's, who 
lodged at Mrs. White's. In former times, before her 
marriage, Mrs. Lee had been a Sunday-school teacher 
at St. Andrew's, and though party spirit considered 
her to have gone over to the enemy, there were old 
habits of friendly confidence between her and Miss 
Mohun, and there was an exchange of friendly greetings 
and inquiries. When she understood their errand she 



24 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

rejoiced in it, saying that poor Mrs. White was very 
poorly, and rather fractious, and that this supply would 
be most welcome both to her and her daughter. 

'Ah, I am afraid that poor girl goes through a 
great deal ! * 

' Indeed she does, Miss Mohun ; and a better girl 
never lived. I cannot think how she can bear up as 
she does ; there she is at the office all day with her 
work, except when she runs home in the middle of 
the day — all that distance to dish up something her 
mother can taste, for there's no dependence on the girl, 
nor on little Maura neither. Then she is slaving 
early and late to keep the house in order as well as 
she can, when her mother is fretting for her attention ; 
and I believe she loses more than half her night's rest 
over the old lady. How she bears up, I cannot guess ; 
and never a cross word to her mother, who is such a 
trial, nor to the boys, but looking after their clothes 
and their lessons, and keeping them as good and nice 
as can be. I often say to my husband, I am sure it 
is a lesson to live in the house with her.' 

' I am sure she is an excellent girl,' said Miss 
Mohun. ' I wish we could do anything to help her.' 

' I know you are a real friend. Miss Mohun, and 
never was there any young person who was in greater 
need of kindness ; though it is none of her fault She 
can't help her face, poor dear; and she has never 
given any occasion, I am sure, but has been as guarded 
and correct as possible.' 



XIV THE PARTNER 25 

' Oh, I was in hopes that annoyance was suspended 
at least for \, time ! ' 

' You are aware of it then, Miss Mohun ? Yes, the 
young gentleman is come back, not a bit daunted. 
Yesterday evening what does he do but drive up in a 
cab with a great bouquet, and a basketful of grapes, 
and what not! Poor Kally, she ran in to me, and 
begged me as a favour to come downstairs with her, 
and I could do no less. And I assure you. Miss 
Mohun, no queen could be more dignified, nor more 
modest than she was in rejecting his gifts, and keeping 
him in check. Poor dear, when he. was gone she 
burst out crying — a thing I never knew of her before ; 
not that she cared for him, but she felt it a cruel 
wrong to her poor mother to send away the grapes 
she longed after; and so she will feel these just 
a providence.' 

* Then is Mrs. White confined to her room V 

' For more than a fortnight. For that matter the 
thing was easier, for she had encouraged the young 
man as far as in her lay, poor thing, though my 
husband and young Alexis both told her what they 
knew of him, and that it would not be for Kally's 
happiness, let alone the offence to his father.' 

' Then it really went as far a$ that ?' 

' Miss Mohun, I would be silent as the grave if- 1 
did not know that the old lady went talking here and 
there, never thinking of the harm she was doing. She 
was so carried away by the idea of making a lady of 



26 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

Kally. She says she was a beauty herself, though you 
would not think it now, and she is perfectly puffed 
up about Kally. So she actually lent an ear when 
the young man came persuading Kally to get married 
and go off to Italy with him, where he made sure he 
could come over Mr. White with her beauty and rela- 
tionship and all — among the myrtle groves — that was 
his expression — where she would have an association 
worthy of her. I don't quite know how he meant it 
to be brought about, but he is one who would stick at 
nothing, and of course Kally would not hear of it, and 
answered him so as one would think he would never 
have had the face to address her again ; but poor Mrs. 
White has done nothing but fret over it, and blame 
her daughter for undutifulness, and missing the chance 
of making all their fortunes — ^breaking her heart and 
her health, and I don't know what besides. She is 
half a foreigner, you see, and does not understand, and 
she is worse than no one to that poor girl.' 

' And you say he is come back as bad as ever.' 

' Or worse, you may say. Miss Mohun ; absence 
seems only to have set him the more upon her, and I 
am afraid that Mrs. White's talk, though it may not 
have been to many, has been enough to set it about 
the place ; and in cases like that, it is always the poor 
young woman as gets the blame — especially with the 
gentleman's own people.' 

* I am afraid so.' 

'And you see she is in a manner at his mercy. 



XIV THE PARTNER 27 

being son to one of the heads of the finn, and in a 
situation of authority/ 

* What can she do all day at the oflBce V 

' She keeps one or two of the other young ladies 
working with her/ said Mrs. Lee ; * but if any change 
could be made, it would be very happy for her ; though, 
after all, I do not see how she could leave this place, 
the house being family property, and Mr. White their 
relation, besides that Mrs. White is in no state to move ; 
but, on the other hand, Mr. and Mrs. Stebbing know 
their son is after her, and the lady would not stick at 
believing or saying anything against her, though I will 
always bear witness, and so will Mr. Lee, that never 
was there a more good, right-minded young woman, or 
more prudent and guarded.' 

' So would Mr. Flight and his mother, I have no 
doubt.' 

'Mr. Flight would. Miss Mohun, but' — with an 
odd look — 'I fancy my lady thinks poor Kally too 
handsome for it to be good for a young clergyman to 
have much to say to her. They have not been so 
cordial to them of late, but that is partly owing to 
poor Mrs. White's foolish talk, and in part to young 
Alexis having been desultory and mopy of late — not 
taking the interest in his music he did. Mr. Lee says 
he is sure some young woman is at the bottom of it.' 

Miss Mohun saw her niece's ears crimson under 
her hat, and was afraid Mrs. Lee would likewise see 
them. They had reached the front of the house, and 



28 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

she made haste to take out a visiting-card and to beg 
Mrs. Lee kindly to give it with the basket, sajdng 
that she would not give trouble by coming to the door. 

And then she turned back with Gillian, who was 
in a strange tumult of shame and consternation, yet 
withal, feeling that first strange thrill of young woman- 
hood at finding itself capable of stirring emotion, and 
too much overcome by these strange sensations — above 
all by the shock of shame — to be able to utter a word. 

I must make light of it, but not too light, thought 
Miss Mohun, and she broke the ice by saying, ' Poor 
foolish boy ' 

' Oh, Aunt Jane, what shall I do?' 

' Let it alone, my dear.' 

' But that I should have done so much harm and 
upset him so ' — in a voice betraying a certain sense of 
being flattered. ' Can't I do anything to undo it V 

' Certainly not. To be perfectly quiet and do 
nothing is all you can do. My dear, boys and young 
men have such foolish fits — more in that station than 
in ours, because they have none of the public school 
and college life which keeps people out of it. You 
were the first lady this poor fellow was brought into 
contact with, and — well, you were rather a goose, and 
he has been a greater one ; but if he is let alone, he 
will recover and come to his senses. I could tell you 
of men who have had dozens of such fits. I am much 
more interested about his sister. What a noble girl 
she is !' 



XIV THE PARTNER 29 

' Oh, isn't she, Aunt Jane. Quite a real heroine 1 
And now mamma is coming, she will know what to 
do for her !' 

* I hope she will, but it is a most perplexing case 
altogether/ 

' And that horrid young Stebbing is come back too. 
I am glad she has that nice Mrs. Lee to help her.' 

'And to defend her,' added Miss Mohun. *Her 
testimony is worth a great deal, and I am glad to 
know where to lay my hand upon it. And here is 
our first house, "Zes Rockers." For Madame de 
S^vign^'s sake, I hope it will do !' 

But it didn't ! Miss Mohun got no farther than 
the hall before she detected a scent of gas ; and they 
had to betake themselves to the next vacant abode. 
The investigating nature had full scope in the various 
researches that she made into parlour, kitchen, and 
hall, desperately wearisome to Gillian, whose powers 
were Kmited to considering how the family could 
sit at ease in the downstair rooms, how they could be 
stowed away in the bedrooms, and where there were 
the prettiest views of the bay. Aunt Jane, becoming 
afraid that wMe she was literally ' ferreting ' in the 
offices Gillian might be meditating on her conquest, 
picked up the first cheap book that looked innocently 
sensational, and left her to study it on various sofas. 
And when daylight failed for inspections, Gillian still 
had reason to rejoice in the pastime devised for her, 
since there was an endless discussion at the agent's, 



30 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

over the only two abodes that could be made available, 
as to prices, repairs, time, and terms. They did not 
get away till it was quite dark and the gas lighted, 
and Miss Mohun did not think the ascent of the steps 
desirable, so that they went round by the street. 

'I declare,' exclaimed Miss Mohun, 'there's Mr. 
White's house lighted up. He must be come ! ' 

' I wonder whether he will do anything for Kalliope,' 
sighed Gillian. 

'Oh, Jenny,' exclaimed Miss Adeline, as the two 
entered the drawing-room. ' You have had such a loss ; 
Eotherwood has been here waiting to see you for an 
hour, and such an agreeable man he brought with 
him!' 

' Who could it have been ? ' 

*I didn't catch his name — Eotherwood was 
mumbling in his quick way — indeed, I am not sure he 
did not think I knew him. A distinguished-looking 
man, like a picture, with a fine white beard, and he 
was fresh from Italy ; told me all about the Carnival 
and the curious ceremonies in the country villages.' 

' From Italy ? It can't have been Mr. White.' 

' Mr. White ! My dear Jane ! this was a gentleman 
— quite a grand-looking man. He might have been 
an Italian nobleman, only he spoke English too well 
for that, though I believe those diplomates can speak 
all languages. However, you will see, for we are to 
go and dine with them at eight o'clock — ^you, and I, 
and Gillian.' 



XIV THE PARTNER 31 

' You, Ada ! ' 

'Oh! I have ordered the chair round; it won't 
hurt me with the glasses up. Gillian, my dear, you 
must put on the white dress that Mrs. Grinstead's 
maid did up for you — it is quite simple, and I should 
like you to look nice ! Well — oh, how tired you 
both look ! King for some fresh tea, Gillian. Have 
you found a house ? ' 

So excited and occupied was Adeline that the 
house-hunting seemed to have assumed quite a sub- 
ordinate place in her mind. It really was an extra- 
ordinary thing for her to dine out, though this was 
only a family party next door ; and she soon sailed 
away to hold counsel with Mrs. Mount on dresses and 
wraps, and to get her very beautiful hair dressed. 
She made by far the most imposing appearance of the 
three when they shook themselves out in the ante- 
room at the hotel, in her softly-tinted sheeny pale-gray 
dress, with pearls in her hair, and two beautiful blush 
roses in her bosom ; while her sister, in black satin and 
coral, somehow seemed smaller than ever, probably from 
being tired, and from the same cause Gillian had dark 
marks under her brown eyes, and a much more limp 
and languid look than was her wont 

Fly was seated on her father's knee, looking many 
degrees better and brighter, as if his presence were an 
elixir of life ; and when he put her down to greet the 
arrivals, both she and Mysie sprang to Gillian to ask 
the result of the quest of houses. The distinguished 



32 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

friend was there, and was talking to Lady Kotherwood 
about Italian progress, and there was only time for an 
inquiry and reply as to the success of the search for a 
house before dinner was announced — the little girls 
disappeared, and the Marquess gave his arm to hia 
eldest cousin. 

' Grand specimen of marble, isn't he ? ' he muttered. 

* Ada hasn't the least idea who he is. She thinks 
him a great diplomate,' communicated Jane in return, 
and her arm received an ecstatic squeeze. 

It was amusing to Jane Mohun to see how much 
like a dinner at Eotherwood this contrived to be, with 
my lady's own footman, and my lord's valet waiting in 
state. She agreed mentally with her sister that the 
other guest was a very fine-looking man, with a 
picturesque head, and he did not seem at all out of 
place or ill-at-ease in the company in which he found 
himself. Lord Eotherwood, with a view, perhaps, to 
prolonging Adeline's mystification, turned the conver- 
sation to Italian politics, and the present condition and 
the industries of the people, on all of which subjects 
much ready information was given in fluent, good 
English, with perhaps rather unnecessarily fine words. 
It was only towards the end of the dinner that a 
personal experience was mentioned about the impos- 
sibility of getting work done on great feast days, or of 
knowing which were the greater — and the great dislike 
of the peasant mind to new methods. 

When it came to 'At first, I had to superintend 



xjv THE PARTNER 33 

every blasting with gelatine/ the initiated were amused 
at the expression of Adeline's countenance, and the 
suppressed start of frightful conviction that quivered 
on her eyelids and the comers of her mouth, though 
kept in check by good breeding, and then smoothed 
out into a resolute complacency, which convinced 
her sister that having inadvertently exalted the indi- 
vidual into the category of the distinguished, she meant 
to abide staunchly by her first impression. 

Lady Botherwood, like most great ladies in public 
life, was perfectly well accustomed to have all sorts of 
people brought home to dinner, and would have been 
far less astonished than her cousins at sitting down 
with her grocer ; but she gave the signal rather early, 
and on reaching the sitting-room, where Miss Elworthy 
was awaiting them, said — 

' We will leave them to discuss their water- works 
at their ease. Certtdnly residence abroad is an excel- 
lent education.' 

' A very superior man,' said Adeline. 

'Those self-made men always are.' 

* In the nature of things,' added Miss Mohun, * or 
they would not have mounted.' 

'It is the appendages that are distressing,' said 
Lady Eotherwood, * and they seldom come in one's way. 
Has this man left any in Italy ?' 

'Oh no ; none alive. He took his wife there for 
her health, and that was the way he came to set up 
his Italian quarries ; but she and his child both died 

VOL. II D 



34 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

there long ago> and he has never come back to this 
place since/ explained Ada. 

' But he has relations here/ said Jane. ' His cousin 
was an officer in Jasper Merrifield's regiment.' 

She hoped to have been saying a word in the cause 
of the young people, but she regretted her attempt, for 
Lady Eotherwood replied — 

' I have heard of them. A very undeserving family, 
are they not V 

GiUian, whom Miss Elworthy was trying to enter- 
tain, heard, and could not help colouring aU over, face, 
neck, and ears, all the more for so much hating the 
flush and feeling it observed. 

Miss Mohun's was a very decided, ' I should have 
said quite the reverse.' 

* Indeed ! Well, I heard the connection lamented, 
for his sake, by — ^what was her name ? Mrs. Stirling 
— or 

'Mrs. Stebbing/ said Adeline. 'You don't mean 
that she has actually called on you V 

*Is there any objection to her?' asked Lady 
Eotherwood, with a glance to see whether the girl was 
listening. 

' Oh no, no ! only he is a mere mason— or quarry- 
man, who has grown rich/ said Adeline. 

The hostess gave a little dry laugh. 

' Is that all ? I thought you had some reason for 
disapproving of her. I thought her rather sensible 
and pleasing.' 



XIV THE PARTNER 35 

Cringing and flattering, thought Jane ; and that is 
just what these magnificent ladies like in the wide 
field of inferiors. But aloud she could not help saying, 
' My principal objection to Mrs. Stebbing is. that I have 
always thought her rather a gossip — on the scandalous 
side/ Then, bethinking herself that it would not be 
well to pursue the subject in Gillian's presence, she 
explained where the Stebbings lived, and asked how 
long Lord Eotherwood could stay. 

' Only over Sunday. He is going to look over the 
place to-morrow, and next day there is to be a public 
meeting about it. I am not sure that we shall not go 
with him. I do not think the place agrees with Phyllis.' 

The last words were spoken just as the two gentle- 
men had come in from the dining-room, rather sooner 
than was expected, and they were taken up. 

' Agrees with Phyllis ! She looks pounds — nay, 
hundredweights better than when we left home. I 
mean to have her down to-morrow on the beach for a 
lark — castle-building, paddling — with Mysie and Val, 
and Fergus and all. That's what would set her up 
best, wouldn't it, Jane V 

Jane gave a laughing assent, wondering how much 
of this would indeed prove castle-building, though 
adding that Fergus was at school, and that it was not 
exactly the time of year for paddling. 

* Oh, ah, eh ! Well, perhaps not — forestalling 
sweet St. Valentine — stepping into their nests they 
paddled. Though St. Valentine is past, and I thought 



36 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

our fortunes had been made, Mr. White, by calling 
this the English Naples, and what not.' 

'Those are the puffs, my lord. There is a good 
deal of difference even between this and Socca Marina, 
which is some way up the mountain.' 

' It must be very beautiful,' said Miss Ada. 

' Well, Miss Mohun, people do say it is striking.' 
And he was drawn into describing the old Italian 
mansion, purchased on the extinction of an ancient 
family of nobles, perched up on the side of a mountain, 
whose feet the sea laved, with a terrace whence there 
was a splendid view of. the Gulf of Genoa, and fine 
slopes above and below of chestnut-trees and vineyards ; 
and therewith he gave a hearty invitation to the 
company present to visit him there if ever they went 
to Italy, when he would have great pleasure in showing 
them many bits of scenery, and curious remains that 
did not fall in the way of ordinary tourists. 

Lady Botherwood gratefully said she should re- 
member the invitation if they went to the south, as 
perhaps they should do that very spring. 

* And,' said Ada, * you are not to be expected to 
remain long in this climate when you have a home 
like that awaiting you.' 

'Don't call it home. Miss Mohun,' he said. 'I 
have not had that these many years; but I declare, 
the first sound of our coimty dialect, when I got out 
at the station, made my heart leap into my mouth. I 
could have shaken hands with the fellow.' 



XIV THE PARTNER 37 

* Then I hope you will remain here for some time. 
There is much wanting to be set going/ said Jane. 

' So I thought of doing, and I had out a young 
fellow, who I thought might take my place — ^my 
partner's son, young Stebbing. They wrote that he 
had been learning Italian, with a view to being useful 
to me, and so on ; but when he came out, what was 
he but a fine gentleman — never had put his hand to a 
pick, nor a blasting-iron ; and as to his Italian, he told 
me it was the Italian of Alfieri and Leopardi. Leopard's 
Italian it might be, for it was a very mottled or motley 
tongue, but he might as well have talked English or 
Double-Dutch to our hands, or better, for they had 
picked up the meaning of some orders from me before 
I got used to their lingo. And then he says 'tis office 
work and superintendence he understands. How can 
you superintend, I told him, what you don't know 
yourself ? No, no ; go home and bring a pair of hands 
fit for a quarryman, before I make you overlooker.' 

This was rather delightful, and it further appeared 
that he could answer all Jane's inquiries after her 
beloved promising lads whom he had deported to the 
Bocca Marina quarries. They were evidently kindly 
looked after, and she began to perceive that it was not 
such a bad place after all for them, more especially as 
he was in the act of building them a chapel, and one of 
his objects in coming to England was to find a chaplain ; 
and as Lord Eotherwood said, he had come to the right 
shop, since Eockquay in the spring was likely to afford 



38 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

a choice of clergy with weak chests, or better still, with 
weak-chested wives, to whom light work in a genial 
climate would be the greatest possible boon. 

Altogether the evening was very pleasant, only too 
short. It was a curious study for Jane Mohun how 
far Lady Eotherwood would give way to her husband. 
She always seemed to give way, but generally accom- 
plished her own will in the end; and it was little 
likely that she would allow the establishment to await 
the influx of Merrifields, though certainly Gillian had 
done nothing displeasing all that evening except that 
terrible blushing, for which piece of ingenuousness her 
aunt loved her all the better. 

At half-past ten next morning, however. Lord 
Eotherwood burst in to borrow Valetta for a donkey- 
ride, for which his lady had compounded instead of 
the paddling and castle-building, and certainly poor 
Val could not do much to corrupt Fly on donkey back, 
and in his presence. He further routed out Gillian, 
nothing loth, from her algebra, bidding her put on her 
seven-leagued boots, and not get bent double — and he 
would fain have seized on his cousin Jane, but she 
was already gone off for an interview with the landlord 
of the most eligible of the two houses. 

Gillian and Valetta came back very rosy, and in 
fits of merriment. Lord Eotherwood had paid the 
donkey-boys to stay at home, and let him and Gillian 
take their place. They had gone out on the common 
above the town, with most amusing rivalries as to 



XIV THE PARTNER 39 

which drove the beast vxyrsty making Mysie umpire. 
Then having attained a delightfully lonely place. Fly 
had begged for a race with Yaletta, which failed, 
partly because Val's donkey would not stir, and partly 
because Fly could not bear the shaking ; and then Lord 
Botherwood himself insisted on riding the donkey that 
wouldn't go, and racing Gillian on the donkey that 
would — and he made his go so effectually that it 
ran away with him, and he pulled it up at last only 
just in time to save himself from being ignominipusly 
stopped by an old fishwoman ! 

He had, as Aunt Jane said, regularly dipped Gill 
back into childhood, and she looked, spoke, and 
moved all the better for it 



CHAPTEE XV 

THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 

Lord Botherwood came in to try to wile his cousin 
to share in the survey of the country ; but she declared 
it to be impossible, as all her avocations had fallen 
into arrear, and she had to find a couple of servants as 
well as a house for the Merrifields. This took her in 
the direction of the works, and Gillian proposed to go 
with her as far as the Giles's, there to sit a little while 
with Lilian, for whom she had a new book. 

' My dear, surely you must be tired out ! ' exclaimed 
the stay-at-home aunt. 

' Oh no. Aunt Ada ! Quite freshened by that blow 
on the common.' 

And Miss Mohun was not sorry, thinking that to 
leave Gillian free to come home by herself would be 
the best refutation of Mrs. Mount's doubts of her. 

They had not, however, gone far on their way— on 
the walk rather unfrequented at this time of day — 
before Gillian exclaimed, ' Is that Kally ? Oh 1 and 
who is that with her?' For there certainly was a 
figure in somewhat close proximity, the ulster and 



CHAP. XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 41 

pork-pie hat being such as to make the gender 
doubtful 

' How late she is ! I am afraid her mother is 
worse/ said Miss Mohun, quickening her steps a little ; 
and, at the angle of the road, the pair in front perceived 
them. KalUope turned towards them ; the companion 
— about whom there was no doubt by that time — 
gave a petulant motion and hastened out of sight. 

In another moment they were beside Kalliope, who 
looked shaken and trembling, with tears in her eyes, 
which sprang forth at the warm pressure of her hand. 

' I am afraid Mrs. White is not so well,' said Miss 
Mohun kindly. 

' She is no worse, I think, thank you ; but I was 
delayed. Are you going this way ? May I walk with 
you?' 

'I will come with you to the oflSce,' said Miss 
Mohun, perceiving that she was in great need of an 
escort and protector. 

' Oh, thank you, thank you, if it is not too much 
out of your way.' 

A few more words passed about Mrs. White's illness 
and what advice she was having. Miss Mohun could 
not help thinking that the daughter did not quite realise 
the extent of the illness, for she added — 

' It was a good deal on the nerves and mind. She 
was so anxious about Mr. James White's arrival.' 

' Have you not seen him ? * 

' Oh no ! Not yet.' 



. \ 



42 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

' I think you will be agreeably surprised/ said 
Gillian. And here they left her at Mrs. Giles's door. 

' Yes/ added Miss Mohun, ' he gave me the idea of 
a kind, just man.' 

* Miss Mohun/ said the poor girl, as soon as they 
were tSte-d'tSte, ' I know you are very good. Will 
you teU me what I ought to do ? You saw just 
now ' 

* I did ; and I have heard.' 

Her face was all in a flame and her voice choked. 

'He says — Mr. Frank does — that his mother has 
found out, and that she will tell her own story to Mr. 
White ; and — and we shall all get the sack, as he calls 
it ; and it will be utter misery, and he will not stir a 
finger to vindicate me ; but if I will listen to him, he 
will speak to Mr. White, and bear me through ; but I 
can't — I can't. I know he is a bad man ; I know how 
he treated poor Edith Vane. I never can; and liow 
shall I keep out of his way ? ' 

' My poor child,' said Miss Mohun, ' it is a terrible 
position for you ; but you are doing quite right. I do 
not believe Mr. White would go much by what that 
young man says, for I know he does not think highly 
of him.' 

' But he does go altogether by Mr. Stebbing — alto- 
gether ; and I know he — Mr. Stebbing, I mean — can't 
bear us, and would not keep us on if he could help it. 
He has been writing for another designer — an artist — 
instead of me.' 



^ 



XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 43 

'Still, you would be glad to have the connection 
severed ? * 

' Oh yes, I should be glad enough to be away ; but 
what would become of my mother and the children ? ' 

'Eemember your oldest friends are on their way 
home ; and I will try to speak to Mr. White myself/ 

They had reached the little door of Kalliope's office, 
which she could open with a latch-key, and Miss 
Mohun was just about to say some parting words, 
when there was a sudden frightful rumbling sound, 
something between a clap of thunder and the carting 
of stones, and the ground shook under their feet, while 
a cry went up— loud, horror-struck men and women's 
voices raised in dismay. 

Jane had heard that sound once before. It was 
the fall of part of the precipitous cUfif, much of which 
had been quarried away. But in spite of all precau- 
tions, frost and rain were in danger of loosening the 
remainder, and wire fences were continually needing 
to be placed to prevent the walking above on edges 
that might be perilous. 

Where was it ? What had it done ? was the 
instant thought. Kalliope turned as pale as death; 
the girls came screaming and thronging out of their 
workshop, the men from their sheds, the women from 
the cottages, as all thronged to the more open space 
beyond the buildings where they could see, while Miss 
Mohun found herself clasped by her trembling niece. 

Others were rushing up from the wharf. One 



44 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

momeBt's glance showed all familiar with the place 
that a projecting point, forming a sort of cusp in 
the curve of the bay, had gone, and it lay, a great 
shattered mass, fragments spreading far and wide, 
having crashed through the roof of a stable that stood 
below. 

There was a general crowding forward to the spot, 
and crying and exclamation, and a shouting of ' All 
right' from above and below. Had any one come 
down with it ? A double horror seized Miss Mohun 
as she remembered that her cousin was to inspect 
those parts that very afternoon. 

She caught at the arm of a man and demanded, 
' Was any one up there V 

'Master's there, and some gentlemen; but they 
hain't brought down with it,' said the man. * Don't 
be afraid, miss. Thank the Lord, no one was under 
the rock — horses even out at work.' 

'Thank God, indeed!' exclaimed Miss Mohun, 
daring now to look up, and seeing, not very distinctly, 
some figures of men, who, however, were too high up 
and keeping too far from the dangerous broken edge 
for recognition. 

Room was made for the two ladies, by the men who 
knew Miss Mohun, to push forward, so as to have a 
clearer view of the broken wall and roof of the stable, 
and the great ruddy blue and white veined mass of 
limestone rock, turf, and bush adhermg to what had 
been the top. 



XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 45 

There was a moment's silence through the crowd, 
a kind of awe at the spectacle and the possibilities 
that had been mercifully averted. 

Then one of the men said — 

* That was how it was. I saw one of them above 
— ^not Stebbing — No — coming out to the brow ; and 
after this last frost, not a doubt but that must have 
been enough to bring it down.' 

'Not railed off, eh?' said the voice of young 
Stebbing from among the crowd. 

' Well, it were marked with big stones where the 
rail should go,' said another. ' I know, for I laid 'em 
myself; but there weren't no orders given.' 

'There weren't no stones either. Some one been 
and took 'em away,' added the first speaker. 

' I see how it is,' Frank Stebbing's metallic voice 
could plainly be heard, flavoured with an oath. 'This 
is your neglect. White, droning, stuck-up sneak as you 
always were and will be ! I shall report this. Damage 
to property, and maybe life, all along of your con- 
founded idleness.' 

And there were worse imprecations, which made 
Miss Mohun break out in a tone of shocked reproof — 

' Mr. Stebbing !' 

' I beg your pardon. Miss Mohun ; I was not aware 

of your presence ' 

* Nor of a Higher One,' she could not help inter- 
posing, while he went on justifying himself. 

' It is the only way to speak to these fellows ; and 



46 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

it is enough to drive one mad to see what comes of the 
neglect of a conceited young ass above his business. 
Life and property ' 

'But life is safe, is it not?' she interrupted with a 
shudder. 

'Ay, ay, ma'am,' said the voice of the workman, 
'or we should know it by this time.' 

But at that moment a faint, gasping cry caught 
Jane's ear. 

Others heard it too. It was a child's voice, and 
grew stronger after a moment. It came from the 
comer of the shed outside the stable. 

' Oh, oh !' cried the women, pressing forward, ' the 
poor little Fields !' 

Then it was recollected that Mrs. Field — one of 
those impracticable women on whom the shafts of 
school oflScers were lost, and who was always wander- 
ing in the town— had been seen going out, leaving two 
small children playing about, the younger under the 
charge of the elder. The father was a carter, and had 
been sent on some errand with the horses. 

This passed while anxious hands were struggling 
with stones and earth, foremost among them Alexis 
White. The utmost care was needful to prevent the 
superincumbent weight from falling in and crushing 
the life there certainly was beneath, happily not the 
rock from above, but some of the d&yris of the stable. 
Frank Stebbing and the foreman had to drive back 
anxious crowds, and keep a clear space. 



!>' 



XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 47 

Then came running, shrieking, pushing her way 
through the men, the poor mother, who had to be 
forcibly withheld by Miss Mohun and one of the men 
from precipitating herself on the pile of rubbish where 
her children were buried, and so shaking it as to make 
their destruction certain. 

Those were terrible moments; but when the 
mother's voice penetrated to the children, a voice 
answered — 

* Mammy, mammy, get us out ; there's a stone on 
Tommy,' — at least so the poor woman understood the 
Uspings, almost stifled; and she shrieked again, 
' Mammy's coming, darlings !' 

The time seemed endless, though it was probably 
only a few minutes before it was found that the 
children were against the angle of the shed, where the 
wall and a beam had protected the younger, a little 
girl of five, who seemed to be unhurt. But, alas ! 
though the boy's limbs were not crushed, a heavy stone 
had fallen on his temple. 

The poor woman would not believe that life was 
gone. She disregarded the little one, who screamed 
for mammy and clutched her skirts, in spite of the 
attempts of the women to lift her up and comfort her ; 
and gathering the poor lifeless boy i in her arms, she 
alternately screamed for the doctor and uttered coaxing, 
caressing calls to the child. 

She neither heard nor heeded Miss Mohun, with 
whom, indeed, her relations had not been agreeable; 



M 



48 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

and as a young surgeon, snifiBng the accident from 
afar, had appeared on the scene, and had, at the first 
glance, made an all too significant gesture, Jane thought 
it safe to leave the field to him and a kind, motherly, 
good neighbour, who promised her to send up to 
Beechcroft Cottage in case there was anything to be 
done for the unhappy woman or the poor father. Mr, 
Hablot, who now found his way to the spot, promised 
to walk on and prepare him: he was gone with a 
marble cross to a churchyard some five miles off. 

Gillian had not spoken a word all this time. She 
felt perfectly stunned and bewildered, as if it was a 
dream, and she could not understand it. Only for a 
moment did she see the bleeding face and prone limbs 
of the poor boy, and that sent a shuddering horror 
over her, so that she felt like fainting ; but she had so 
much recollection and self-consciousness, that horror of 
causing a sensation and giving trouble sent the blood 
back to her heart, and she kept her feet by holding 
hard to her aunt's arm; and presently Miss Mohun 
felt how tight and trembling was the grasp, and then 
saw how white she was. 

'My dear, we must get home directly,* she said 
kindly. ' Lean on me — there.' 

There was leisure now, as they turned away, for 
others to see the young lady's deadly paleness, and 
there were invitations to houses and offers of all 
succours at hand ; but the dread of ' a fuss ' further 
revived Gillian, and all that was accepted was a seat 



XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 49 

for a few moments and a glass of water, which Aunt 
Jane needed almost as much as she did. 

Though the girFs colour was coming* back, and 
she said she could walk quite well, both had such 
aching knees and such shaken limbs that they were 
glad to hold by each other as they mounted the 
sloping road, and half-way up Gillian came to a 
sudden stop. 

'Aunt Jane,' she said, panting and turning pale 
again, ' you heard that dreadful man. Oh ! do you 
think it was true ? Fergus's bit of spar — Alexis not 
minding. Oh ! then it is all our doing ! ' 

' I can't telL Don't you think about it now,* said 
Aunt Jane, feeling as if the girl were going to swoon 
on the spot in the shock. * Consequences are not in 
our hands. Whatever it came from, and very sad it 
was, there was great mercy, and we have only to thank 
God it was no worse.' 

When at last aunt and niece reached home, they 
had no sooner opened the front door than Adeline 
came almost rushing out of the drawing-room. 

' Oh ! my dearest Jane,' she cried, clasping and 
kissing her sister, 'wasn't it dreadful? Where were 
you ? Mr. White knows no one was hurt below, but 
I could not be easy till you came in.' 

'Mr. White!' 

' Yes ; Mr. White was so kind as to come and tell 
me — and about Eotherwood.* 

' What about Eotherwood ? ' exclaimed Miss Mohun, 

VOL. II E 



50 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE cuap. 

advancing into the drawing-room, where Mr. White 
had risen from his seat. 

' Nothing to be alarmed about. Indeed, I assure you, 
his extraordinary presence of mind and agility ' 

' What was it ? * as she and Gillian each sank into 
a chair, the one breathless, the other with the faintuess 
renewed by the fresh shock, but able to listen as Mr. 
White told first briefly, then with more detail, how — as 
the surveying party proceeded along the path at the 
top of the cliffs, he and Lord Eotherwood comparing 
recollections of the former outline, now much changed 
by quarrying — the marquis had stepped out to a slightly 
projecting point ; Mr. Stebbing had uttered a note of 
warning, knowing how liable these promontories were 
to break away in the end of winter, and happily Lord 
Eotherwood had tiimed and made a step or two back, 
when the rock began to give way under his feet, so 
that, being a slight and active man, a spring and bound 
forward had actually carried him safely to the firm 
ground, and the others, who had started back in self- 
preservation, then in horror, fully believing him borne 
down to destruction, saw him the next instant lying on 
his face on the path before them. When on his feet, he 
had declared himself unhurt, and solely anxious as to 
what the fall of rock might have done beneath ; but 
he was reassured by those cries of ' All right ' which 
were uttered before the poor little Fields were dis- 
covered ; and then, when the party were going to make 
their way down to inspect the effects of the catastrophe, 



XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 51 

he had found that he had not escaped entirely unhurt. 
Of course he had been forced to leap with utter want 
of heed, only as far and wide as he could, and thus, 
though he had lighted on his feet, he had fallen against 
a stone, and pain and stiffness of shoulder made them- 
selves apparent ; though he would accept no help in 
walking back to the hotel, and was only anxious not 
to frighten his wife and daughter, and desired Mr. 
White, who had volunteered to go, to tell the ladies 
next door that he was convinced it was nothing, or, if 
anything, only a trifle of a collar-bone. Mr. White 
had, since the arrival of the surgeon, made an expedition 
of inquiry, and heard this verdict confirmed, with the 
further assurance that there was no cause for anxiety. 
The account of the damage and disaster below was new 
to him, as his partner had declared the stables to be 
certain to be empty, and moreover in need of being 
rebuilt; and he departed to find Mr. Stebbing and 
make inquiries. 

Miss Mohun, going to the hotel, saw the governess, 
and heard that all was going on well, and that Lord 
Rotherwood insisted that nothing was the matter, and 
would not hear of going to bed, but was lying on the 
sofa in the sitting-room. Her ladyship presently came 
out, and confirmed the account ; but Jane agreed with 
her that, if possible, the knowledge of the poor child's 
death should be kept from him that night, lest the 
shock should make him feverish. However, in that 
very moment when she was off guard, the communica- 



J 



52 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

tion had been made by his valet, only too proud to have 
something to tell, and with the pleasing addition that 
Miss Mohun had had a narrow escape. Whereupon 
ensued an urgent message to Miss Mohun to come and 
tell him all about it. 

Wife and cousin exchanged glances of consternation, 
and perhaps each knew she might be thankful that he 
did not come himself instead of sending, and yet feared 
that the abstinence was a proof more of incapacity 
than of submission. 

Lying there in a dressing-gown over a strapped 
shoulder, he showed his agitation by being more than 
usually unable to finish a sentence. 

'Jenny, Jenny — ^you are — are you all safe? not 
frightened ? ' 

'Oh no, no; I was a great way oflf; I only heard 
the noise, and I did not know you were there.' 

' Ah ! there must be — something must be meant 
for me to do. Heaven must mean — thank Him ! But 
is it true — a poor child ? Can't one ever be foolish 
without hurting more than one's self?' 

Jane told him the truth calmly and quietly, explain- 
ing that the survivor was entirely unhurt, and the poor 
little victim could not have suffered; adding with all 
her heart, ' The whole thing was full of mercy, and I 
do not think you need blame yourself for heedlessness, 
for it was an accident that the place was not marked.' 

' Shameful neglect,' said Lady Eotherwood. 

* The partner — what's-his-name — Stebbing — said 






XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 53 

something about his son being away. An untrust- 
worthy substitute, wasn't there ?* said Lord Eotherwood. 
' The son was the proficient in Leopardine Italian 
we heard of last night/ said Jane. 'I don't know 
what he may be as an overlooker hera He certainly 
fell furiously on the substitute, a poor cousin of Mr. 
White's own; but I am much afraid the origin of the 
mischief was nearer home— Master Fergus's geological 
researches.' 

* Fergus ! Why, he is a mite.' 

* Yes, but Maurice encore. However, I must find 
out from him whether this is only a foreboding of my 
prophetic soul !' 

' Curious cattle,' observed Lord Eotherwood. 

' Well,' put in his wife, ' I do not think Ivinghoe 
has ever given us cause for anxiety.' 

'Exactly the reason that I am always expecting 
him to break out in some unexpected place ! No, 
Victoria,' he added, seeing that she did not like this, 
* I am quite ready to allow that we have a model son, 
and I only pity him for not having a model father.' 

* Well, I am not going to stay and incite you to 
talk nonsense,' said Jane, rising to depart ; ' I will let 
you know my discoveries.' 

She found Fergus watching for her at the gate, with 
the appeal, * Aunt Jane, there's been a great downfall 
of cliff, and I want to see what formations it has 
brought to light ; but they won't let me through to look 
at it, though I told them White always did.' 



54 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

'I do not suppose that they will allow any one 
to meddle with it at present/ said Aunt Jane ; then, 
as Fergus made an impatient exclamation, she added, 
' Do you know that a poor little boy was killed, and 
Cousin Eotherwood a good deal hurt?' 

' Yes,' said Fergus ; ' Big Blake said so.' 

* And now, Fergus, I want to know where you took 
that large stone from that you showed me with the 
crack of spar.' 

'With the micaceous crystals,' corrected Fergus. 
* It was off the top of that very cliff that fell down, so 
I am sure there must be more in it ; and some one 
else will get them if they won't let me go and see for 
them.' 

' And Alexis White gave you leave to take it ?' 

' Oh yes, I always ask him.' 

'Were you at the place when you asked him, 
Fergus ?' 

* At the place on the cliflf ? No. For I couldn't 
find him for a long time, and I carried it all the way 
down the steps.' 

'And you did not tell him where it came from V 
' He didn't ask. Indeed, Aunt Jane, I always did 
show him what I took, and he would have let me in 
now, only he was not at the ofi&ce ; and the man at the 
gate. Big Blake, was as savage as a bear, and slammed 
the door on me, and said they wouldn't have no idle 
boys loafing about there. And when I said I wasn't 
an idle boy but a scientific mineralogist, and that Mr. 



XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 55 

Alexis WMte always let me in, he laughed in my face, 
and said Mr. Alexis had better look out for himself. I 
shall tell Stebbing how cheeky he was.' 

* My dear Fergus, there was good reason for keep- 
ing you out. You did not know it, nor Alexis ; but 
those stones were put to show that the cliff was get- 
ting dangerous, and to mark where to put an iron 
fence ; and it was the greatest of mercies that Eother- 
wood's Kfe was saved.' 

The boy looked a little sobered, but his aunt had 
rather that his next question had not been : ' Do you 
think they will let me go there again V 

However, she knew very well that conviction must 
slowly soak in, and that nothing would be gained by 
frightening him, so that all she did that night was to 
send a note by Mysie to her cousin, explaining her 
discovery ; and she made up her mind to take Fergus 
to the inquest the next day, since his evidence would 
exonerate Alexis from the most culpable form of 
carelessness. 

Only, however, in the morning, when she had 
ascertained the hour of the inquest, did she write a 
note to Mrs. Edgar to explain Fergus's absence from 
school, or inform the boy of what she intended. On 
the whole he was rather elated at being so important 
as to be able to defend Alexis White, and he was 
quite above believing that scientific research could be 
reckoned by any one as mischief. 

Just as Miss Mohun had gone up to get ready. 



56 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

Mysie ran in to say that Cousin Eotherwood would be 
at the door in a moment to take Fergus down. 

' Lady Eotherwood can't bear his goiDg/ said Mysie, 
* and Mr. White and Mr. Stebbing say that he need 
not ; but he is quite determined, though he has got his 
arm in a sling, for he says it was all his fault for going 
where he ought not. And he won't have the carriage, 
for he says it would shake his bones ever so much 
more than Shank's mare.' 

'Just like him,' said Aunt Jane. 'Has Dr. 
Dagger given him leave ? ' 

'Yes; he said it wouldn't hurt him; but Lady 
Eotherwood told Miss Elbury she was sure he per- 
suaded him.' 

Mysie's confused pronouns were cut short by Lord 
Eotherwood's own appearance. 

' You need not go, Jane,' he said. ' I can take 
care of this little chap. Theyll not chop off his head 
in the presence of one of the Legislature.' 

'Nice care to begin by chaffing him out of his 
wits,' she retorted. 'The question is, whether you 
ought to go.' 

' Yes, Jenny, I must go. It can't damage me ; and 
besides, to tell the truth, it strikes me that things will 
go hard with that unlucky young fellow if some one 
is not there to stand up for him and elicit Fergus's 
evidence.' 

' Alexis White 1 ' 

' White — ay, a cousin or something of the exemplary 



XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 57 

boss. He's been dining with his partners — the old 
White, I mean — and they've been cramming him — I 
imagine with a view to scapegoat treatment — jealousy, 
and all the rest of it. If there is not a dismissal, 
there's a hovering on the verge.' 

' Exactly what I was afraid of,' said Jane. * Oh, 
Eotherwood, I could tell you volumes. But may I 
not come down with you ? Could not I do something ?' 

' Well, on the whole, you are better away, Jenny. 
Consider William's feelings. Womankind, even Brown- 
ies, are better out of it. Prejudice against proUy^s, 
whether of petticoats or cassocks — begging your pardon. 
I can fight battles better as an unsophisticated stranger 
coming down fresh, though I don't expect any one 
from the barony of Beechcroft to believe it, and may- 
be the less I know of your volumes the better till 
after ' 

'Oh, Eotherwood, as if I wasn't too thankful to 

have you to send for me ! ' 

' There ! I've kept the firm out there waiting an 
unconscionable time. They'll think you are poisoning 
my mind. Come along, you imp of science. Trust 
me, I'll not bully him, though it's highly tempting to 
make the chien chasser de race* 

' Oh, Aunt Jane, won't you go ? ' exclaimed Gillian 
in despair, as her cousin waved a farewell at the gate. 

* No, my dear ; it is not for want of wishing, but he 
is quite right. He can do much better than I could.' 

' But is he in earnest, aunt ? * 



58 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chav. 

' Oh yes, most entirely, and I quite see that he is 
right — indeed I do, Gillian. People pretend to defer 
to a lady, but they really don't like her poking her 
nose in, and, after all, I could have no right to say any- 
thing. My only excuse for going was to take care of 
Fergus.' 

A further token of Lord Eotherwood's earnestness 
in the cause was the arrival of his servant, who was 
to bring down the large stone which Master Merrifield 
had moved, and who conveyed it in a cab, being much 
too grand to carry it through the streets. 

Gillian was very unhappy and restless, unable to 
settle to anything, and linking cause and effect together 
disconsolately in a manner Mysie, whom she admitted 
to her confidence, failed to understand. 

' It was a great pity Fergus did not show Alexis 
where the stone came from, but I don't see what your 
not giving him his lessons had to do with it. Made 
him unhappy ? Oh ! Gilly dear, you don't mean any 
one would be too unhappy to mind his business for 
such nonsense as that ! I am sure none of us would 
be so stupid if Mr. Pollock forgot our Greek lessons.' 

* Certainly not,* said Gillian, almost laughing ; * but 
you don't understand, Mysie. It was the taking him 
up and letting him down, and I could not explain it, 
and it looked so nasty and capricious.' 

'Well, I suppose you ought to have asked Aunt 
Jane's leave ; but I do think he must be a ridiculous 
young man if he could not attend to his proper work 



XV THE ROCKS OF ROCKSTONE 59 

because you did not go after him when you were only 
just come home.' 

' Ah, Mysie, you don't understand ! ' 

Mysie opened a round pair of brown eyes, and said, 
' Oh ! I did think people were never so silly out of 
poetry. There was Wilfrid in Bokebj/y to be sure. 
He was stupid enough about Matilda; but do you 
mean that he is like that ? ' 

'Don't, don't, you dreadful child; I wish I had 
never spoken to you,' cried Gillian, overwhelmed with 
confusion. ' You must never say a word to any living 
creature.' 

' I am sure I shan't,' said Mysie composedly ; ' for, 
as far as I can see, it is all stuff. This Alexis never 
found out what Fergus was about with the stone, and 
so the mark was gone, and Cousin Eotherwood trod 
on it, and the poor little boy was killed; but as to 
the rest, Nurse Halfpenny would say it was all 
conceited maggots ; and how you can make so much 
more fuss about that than about the poor child being 
crushed, I can't make out.' 

' But if I think it all my fault ? ' 

* That's maggots,' returned Mysie with uncompromis- 
ing common-sense. ' You aren't old enough, nor pretty 
enough, for any of that kind of stuff. Gill ! ' 

And Gillian found that either she must go without 
comprehension, or have a great deal more implied, if 
she turned for sympathy to any one save Aunt Jane, 
who seemed to know exactly how the land lay. 



CHAPTEE XVI 



VANISHED 



It seemed to be a very long time before the inquest 
was over, and Aunt Jane had almost yielded to her 
niece's impatience and her own, and consented to walk 
down to meet the intelligence, when Fergus came tear- 
ing in, Tve seen the rock, and there is a flaw of 
crystallisation in it ! And the coroner-man called me 
an incipient geologist/ 

'But the verdict?' 

' They said it was accidental death, and something 
about more care being taken and valuable lives 
endangered/ 

' And Alexis White ' 



' Oh ! there was a great bother about his not being 
there. They said it looked very bad ; but they could 
not find him/ 

* Not find him ! Oh ! Where is Cousin Eother- 
wood?' 

' He is coming home, and he said I might run on, 
and tell you that if you had time to come in to the 
hotel he would tell you about it/ 



CHAP. XVI VANISHED 6i 

With which invitation Miss Mohun hastened to 
comply ; Gillian was ardent to come too, and it seemed 
cruel to prevent her; but, besides that Jane thought 
that her cousin might be tired enough to make his wife 
wish him to see as few people as possible, she was 
not sure that Gillian might not show suspicious agita- 
tion, and speech and action would not be free in her 
presence. So the poor girl was left to extract what 
she could from her little brother, which did not amount 
to much. 

It was a propitious moment, for Jane met Lord 
Eotherwood at the door of the hotel, parting with Mr. 
White; she entered with him, and his wife, after 
satisfying herself that he was not the worse for his 
exertions, was not sorry that he should have his cousin 
to keep him quiet in his easy-chair while she went off 
to answer a pile of letters which had just been for- 
warded from home. 

' Well, Jenny,' he said, ' I am afraid your prot4g6 
does not come out of it very well ; that is, if he is your 
proUg6, He must be an uncommonly foolish yoimg man.' 

* I reserve myself on that point. But is it true 
that he never appeared V 

* Quite true.* 

' Didn't they send for him?' 

' Yes ; but he could not be found, either at the 
works or at home. However, the first might be so far 
accounted for, since he met at his desk a notice of 
dismissal from White and Stebbing.' 



62 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

'No ! Eeally. Concocted at that unlucky dinner 
yesterday ! But, of course, it was not immediate/ 

' Of course not, and perhaps something might have 
been done for him; but a man who disappears con- 
demns himself/ 

' But what for ? I hope Fergus explained that the 
stone was not near the spot when he showed it/ 

* Yes ; Fergus spoke up like a little man, and got 
more credit than he deserved. If they had known 
that of all varieties of boys the scientific is the worst 
imp of mischief ! It all went in order due — surgeon 
explained injuries to poor little being — men how the 
stone came down and they dug him out — poor little 
baby-sister made out her sad little story. That was 
the worst part of all. Something must be done for 
that child — orphanage or something — only unluckily 
there's the father and mother. Poor father ! he is 
the one to be pitied. I mean to get at him without 
the woman. Well, then came my turn, and how I am 
afflicted with the habit of going where I ought not, 
and, only by a wonderful mercy, was saved from being 
part of the general average below. Then we got to 
the inquiry. Were not dangerous places railed off? 
Yes, Stebbing explained that it was the rule of the 
firm to have the rocks regularly inspected once a 
month, and once a fortnight in winter and spring, when 
the danger is greater. If they were ticklish, the place 
was marked at the moment with big stones, reported, 
and railed off. An old foreman-sort of fellow swore 



XVI VANISHED 63 

to having detected the danger, and put stones. He 
had reported it. To whom ? To Mr. Frank. Yes, 
he thought it was Mr. Frank, just before he went 
away. It was this fellow's business to report it and 
send the order, it seems, and in his absence Alex- 
ander White, or whatever they call him, took his 
work. Well, the old man doesn't seem to know 
whether he mentioned the thing to young White or 
not, which made his absence more unlucky ; but, any 
way, the presence of the stones was supposed to be a 
sufficient indication of the need of the rail, or to any 
passenger to avoid the place. In fact, if Master White 
had been energetic, he would have seen to the thing. 
I fancy that is the long and short of it. But when 
the question came how the stones came to be removed, 
I put Fergus forward. The foreman luckily could 
identify his stone by the precious crack of spar ; and 
the boy explained how he had lugged it down, and 
showed it to his friend far away from its place — had, 
iji fact, turned over and displaced all the lot.' 

' Depend upon it, Alexis has gone out of the way 
to avoid accusing Fergus ! ' 

' Don't make me start, it hurts ; but do you really 
believe that, Jane — you, the common-sense female of 
the family ? ' 

* Indeed I do ; he is a romantic, sensitive sort of 
fellow, who would not defend himself at the boy's 
expense.' 

' Wheu ! He might have stood still and let 



64 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

Fergus defend him, then, instead of giving up his 
own cause/ 

' And how did it end ? ' 

' Accidental death, of course ; couldn't be otherwise ; 
but censure on the delay and neglect of precaution, 
which the common opinion of the Court naturally- 
concentrated on the absent; though, no doubt, the 
first omission was young Stebbing's ; but owing to the 
hurry of his start for Italy, that was easily excused. 
And even granting that Fergus did the last bit of mis- 
chief, your friend may be romantically generous, if you 
please ; but he must have been very slack in his work.* 

' Poor fellow — yes. Now before I tell you what 
I know about him, I should like to hear how Mr. 
Stebbing represents him. You know his father was a 
lieutenant in the Eoyal Wardours.' 

* Eisen from the ranks, a runaway cousin of White's. 
Yes, and there's a son in a lawyer's office always 
writing to White for money.' 

' Oh ! I never had much notion of that eldest ' 

'They have no particular claim on White; but 
when the father died he wrote to Stebbing to give 
those that were old enough occupation at the works, 
and see that the young ones got educated.' 

' So he lets the little boys go to the National School, 
though there's no great harm in that as yet.' 

' He meant to come and see after them himself, and 
find out what they are made of. But meantime this 
youth, who did well at first, is always running after 



XVI VANISHED 65 

music and nonsense of all kinds, thinking himself 
above his business, neglecting right and left ; while as 
to the sister, she is said to be very clever at designing 
— both ways in fact — so determined to draw young 
Stebbing in, that, having got proof of it at last, they 
have dismissed her too. And, Jane, I hardly like to 
tell you, but somehow they mix Gillian up in the 
business. They ate it up again when I cut them 
short by saying she was my cousin, her mother and 
you like my sisters. I am certain it is all nonsense, 
but had you any notion of any such thing ? It is 
insulting you, though, to suppose you had not,* he 
added, as he saw her air of acquiescence ; ' so, of course, 
it is all right.' 

' It is not all right, but not so wrong as all that. 
Oh no ! and I know all about it from poor GiU her- 
self and the girL Happily they are both too good girls 
to need prying. WeU, the case is this. There was a 
quarrel about a love story between the two original 
Whites, who must both have had a good deal of stuff 
in them. Dick ran away, enlisted, rose, and was 
respected by Jasper, etc., but was married to a Greco- 
Hibernian wife, traditionally very beautiful, poor woman, 
though rather the reverse at present. lily and her 
girls did their best for the young people with good 
effect on the eldest girl, who really in looks and ways 
is worthy of her Muse's name, Kalliope, Father had 
to retire with rank of captain, and died shortly after. 
Letters failed to reach the Merrifields, who were on 

VOL. n F 



66 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

the move. This Quarry cousin was written to, and 
gave the help he described to you. Perhaps it was 
just, but it disappointed them, and while the father 
lived, Alexis had been encouraged to look to getting to 
the University and Holy Orders. He has a good 
voice, and the young curate at the Kennel patronised 
him ; perhaps a little capriciously, but I am not quite 
sure. All this was unknown to me till the Merrifield 
children came, and Gillian, discovering these Whites, 
flew upon them in the true enthusiastic lily-fashion, 
added to the independence of the modern maiden 
mistrustful of old cats of aunts. Like a little goose, 
she held trystes with Kalliope, through the rails at the 
top of the garden on Sunday afternoons.' 

* Only Kalliope ! ' 

' Celit va sans dire. The brother was walking the 
young ones on the cliffs whence she had been driven by 
the attentions of Master Frank Stebbing. Poor thing, 
she is really beautiful enough to be a misfortune to her, 
and so is the youth — Maid of Athens, Irish eyes, plus 
intellect. Gill lent books, and by and by volunteered 
to help the lad with his Greek.' 

' When ' 

' Just as she would teach a night-school class. She 
used to give him lessons at his sister's ofl&ce. I find 
that as soon as Kalliope found it was unknown to me 
she protested, and did all in her power to prevent it, 
but Gillian had written all to her mother, and thought 
that sufficient.' 



XVI VANISHED 67 

' And Lily ? Victoria would have gone crazy 

— supposing such a thing possible/ he added, sotto 
voce, 

' Lily was probably crazy already between her sick 
husband and her bridal daughters, for she answered 
nothing intelligible. However, absence gave time for 
reflection, and Gillian came home after her visits 
convinced by her own good sense and principle that 
she had not acted fairly towards us; so that, of her 
own accord, the first thing she did was to tell me the 
whole, and how much the sister had always objected. 
She was quite willing that I should talk it over with 
Kalliope before she went near them again, but I have 
never been able really to do so/ 

' Then it was all Greek and — " Lilyism ! " Lily's 
grammar over again, eh ? ' 

' On her side, purely so — but I am afraid she did 
upset the boy*s mind. He seems to have been bitterly 
disappointed at what must have appeared like neglect 
and offence — and oh ! you know how silly youths can 
be — and he had Southern blood too, poor fellow, and 
he went mooning and moping about, I am afraid really 
not attending to his business ; and instead of taking 
advantage, of the opening young Stebbing's absence 
gave him of showing his abilities, absolutely gave them 
the advantage against him, by letting them show him 
up as an idle fellow.' 

' Or worse. Stebbing talked of examining the 
accounts, to see if there were any deficiency.* 



68 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

' That can be only for the sake of prejudicing Mr. 
White — they cannot really suspect him.' 

'If not, it was very good acting, and Stebbing 
appears to me just the man to suspect a parson's pet, 
and a lady's — as he called this unlucky fellow.' 

' Ask any of the workmen — ask Mr. Flight.' 

* Well, I wish he had come to the front. It looks 
bad for him, and your plea, Jenny, is more like Lily 
than yourself.' 

' Thank you ; I had rather be like Lily than 
myself.' 

'And you are equally sure that the sister is 
maligned ? ' 

* Quite sure — on good evidence — ^the thing is how 
to lay it all before Mr. White, for you see these 
Stebbings evidently want to prevent him from taking 
to his own kindred — you must help me, Eotherwood.' 

' When I am convinced,' he said. ' My dear Jenny, 
I beg your pardon — I have an infinite respect for your 
sagacity, but allow me to observe, though your theory 
holds together, stiU it has rather an ancient and fish- 
like smelL' 

' I only ask you to investigate, and make him do 
so. Listen to any one who knows, to any one but the 
Stebbings, and you will find what an admirable girl 
the sister is, and that the poor boy is perfectly blame- 
less of anything but being forced into a position for 
which he was never intended, and of all his instincts 
rebelling.' 



XVI VANISHED 69 

They were interrupted by the arrival of the doctor, 
whom Lady Eotherwood had bound over to come and 
see whether her husband was the worse for his exertions. 
He came in apologising most unnecessarily for his 
tardiness. And in the midst of Miss Mohun's mingled 
greeting and farewell, she stood still to hear him say 
that he had been delayed by being called in to that 
poor woman, Mrs. White, who had had a fit on hearing 
the policeman inquiring for that young scamp, her 
son. 

' The poUceman ! ' ejaculated Jane in consternation. 

' It was only to summon him to attend the inquest,* 
explained Dr. Dagger ; ' but there was no one in the 
house with her but a little maid, and the shock was 
dreadful. If he has really absconded, it- looks exceed- 
ingly ill for him.' 

* I believe he has only been inattentive,' said Jane 
firmly, knowing that she ought to go, and yet feeling 
constrained to wait long enough to ask what was the 
state of the poor mother, and if her daughter were 
with her. 

'The daughter was sent for, and seems to be an 
effective person — uncommonly handsome, by the bye. 
The attack was hysteria, but there is evidently serious 
disease about her, which may be accelerated.' 

' I thought so. I am afraid she has had no advice.' 

* No ; I promised the daughter to come and examine 
her to-morrow when she is calmer, and if that son is 
good for anything, he may have returned.' 



70 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

And therewith Jane was forced to go away, to 
cany this wretched news to poor Gillian. 

Aunt and niece went as soon as the mid-day meal 
was over to inquire for poor Mrs. White, and see 
what could be done. She was sleeping under an opiate, 
and Elalliope came down, pale as marble, but tearless. 
She knew nothing of her brother since she had given 
him his breakfast that morning. He had looked white 
and haggard, and had not slept, neither did he eat. 
She caught at the theory that had occurred to Miss 
Mohun, that he did not like to accuse Fergus, for even 
to her he had not mentioned who had removed the 
stone. In that case he might return at night. Yet 
it was possible that he did not know even now whence 
the stone had come, and it was certain that he had 
been at his office that morning, and opened the letter 
announcing his dismissal. Kalliope, going later, had 
found the like notice, but had had little time to dwell 
on it before she had been summoned home to her 
mother. Poor Mrs. White had been much shaken by 
the first reports of yesterday's accident, which had 
been so told to her as to alarm her for both her 
children ; and when her little maid rushed in to say 
that 'the pelis was come after Mr. Alec,' it was no 
wonder that her terror threw her into a most alarming* 
state, which made good Mrs. Lee despatch her husband 
to bring home Kalliope ; and as the attack would not 
yield to the soothing of the women or to their domestic 
remedies, but became more and more delirious and 



XVI VANISHED 71 

convulsive, the nearest doctor was sent for, and Dr. 
Dagger, otherwise a higher flight than would have 
been attempted, was caught on his way and brought 
in to discover how serious her condition already 
was. 

This Kalliope told them with the desperate quietness 
of one who could not afford to give way. Her own 
affairs were entirely swallowed up in this far greater 
trouble, and for the present there were no means of 
helping her. Mr. and Mrs. Lee were thoroughly kind, 
and ready to give her efficient aid in her home cares 
and her nursing; and it could only be hoped that 
Alexis might come back in the evening, and set the 
poor patient's mind at rest. 

' We will try to make Mr. White come to a better 
understanding,' said Miss Mohun kindly. 

' Thank you,' said Kalliope, pushing back her hair 
with a half-bewildered look. *I remember my poor 
mother was very anxious about that. But it seems a 
little thing now.' 

' May God bless and help you, my dear,' said MiSs 
Mohun, with a parting kiss. 

Gillian had not spoken all the time ; but outside 
she said — 

' Oh, Aunt ! is this my doing ? * 

' Not quite,' said Aimt Jane kindly. ' There were 
other causes.' 

' Oh, if I could do anything ! ' 

' Alas ! it is easier to do than to undo.^ 



72 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

Aunt Jane was really kind, and Gillian was 
grateful ; but oh, how she longed for her mother ! 

There was no better news the next morning. 
Nothing had been heard of Alexis, and nothing would 
persuade his mother in her half-delirious and wholly 
unreasonable state that he had not been sent to prison, 
and that they were not keeping it from her. She was 
exceedingly ill, and Kalliope had been up all night 
with her. 

Such was the report in a note sent up by Mrs. Lee 
by one of the Uttle boys early in the morning, and, as 
soon as she could reasonably do so. Miss Mohun carried 
the report to Lord Eotherwood, whom she found much 
better, and anxious to renew the tour of inspection 
which had been interrupted. 

Before long, Mr. White was shown in, intending 
to resume the business discussion, and Miss Mohun 
was about to retreat with Lady Eotherwood, when her 
cousin, taking pity on her anxiety, said — 

'If you will excuse me for speaking about your 
family matters, Mr. White, my cousin knows these 
young people well, and I should like you to hear what 
she has been telling me.' 

' A gentleman has just been calling on me about 
them,' said Mr. White, not over-graciously. 

* Mr. Flight ? ' asked Jane anxiously. 

*Yes; a young clergyman, just what we used to 
call Puseyite when I left England; but that name 
seems to be gone out now.' 



XVI VANISHED 73 

* Any way/ said Jane, ' I am sure he had nothing 
but good to say of Miss White, or indeed of her brother ; 
and I am afraid the poor mother is veiy iU.' 

' That's true, Miss Mohun ; but you see there may 
be one side to a lady or a parson, and another to a 
practical man like my partner. Not but that I should 
be willing enough to do anything in reason for poor 
Dick's widow and children, but not to keep them in 
idleness, or letting them think themselves too good to 
work/ 

* That I am sure these two do not Their earnings 
quite keep the family. I know no one who works 
harder than Miss White, between her business, her 
lodgers, the children, and her helpless mother.' 

' I saw her mosaics — very fair, very clever, some of 
them; but I'm afraid she is a sad little flirt, Miss 
Mohun.' 

' Mr. White,' said Lord Eotherwood, ' did ever you 
hear of a poor girl beset by an importunate youth, but 
his family thought it was all her fault ? * 

* If Mr. White would see her,' said Jane, * he would 
imderstand at a glance that the attraction is perfectly 
involuntary ; and I know from other sources how per- 
sistently she has avoided young Stebbing ; giving up 
Sunday walks to prevent meeting him, accepting 
nothing from him, always avoiding tite-db-Utes' 

' Hum ! But tell me this, madam,' said Mr. White 
eagerly, * how is it that, if these young folks are so 
steady and diligent as you would make out, that 



74 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

eldest brother writes to me every few months for help 
to support them ? ' 

* Oh ! ' Jane breathed out ; then, ralljdng, ' I know 
nothing about that eldest. Yes, I do though! His 
sister told my niece that all the rents of the three 
houses went to enable Eichard to appear as he ought 
at the solicitor's office at Leeds/ 

'There's a screw loose somewhere plainly,' said 
Lord Eotherwood. 

' The question is, where it is,' said Mr. White. 

'And all I hope,' said Jane, 'is that Mr. White 
will judge for himself when he has seen Kalliope and 
made inquiries all round. I do not say anything for 
the mother, poor thing, except that she is exceedingly 
ill just now, but I do thoroughly believe in the 
daughter.' 

' And this runaway scamp, Miss Mohun ? * 

' I am afraid he is a runaway ; but I am quite sure 
he is no scamp,' said Jane. 

' Only so clever as to be foolish, eh ? ' said the 
Marquis, rather provokingly. 

' Exactly so,' she answered ; ' and I am certain that 
if Mr. White will trust to his own eyes and his own 
inquiries, he will find that I am right.' 

She knew she ought to go, and Lord Eotherwood 
told her afterwards, ' That was not an ill-aimed shaft, 
Jane. Stebbing got more than one snub over the 
survey. I see that White is getting the notion 
that there's a system of hoodwinking going on, and of 



XVI VANISHED 75 

not letting him alone, and he is not the man to stand 
that.' 

' If he only would call on Kalliope ! * 

* I suspect he is afraid of being beguiled by such 
a fascinating young woman,' 

It was a grievous feature in the case to Gillian that 
she could really do nothing. Mrs. White was so ill 
that going to see Kalliope was of no use, and Maura 
was of an age to be made useful at home ; and there 
were features in the affair that rendered it inexpedient 
for Gillian to speak of it except in the strictest confi- 
dence to Aimt Jane or Mysie. It was as if she had 
touched a great engine, and it was grinding and clashing 
away above her while she could do nothing to stay its 
course. 



CHAPTEE XVII 

'THEY COME, THEY COME* 

Dr. Dagger examined Mrs. White and pronounced 
that there had been mortal disease of long standing, 
and that she had nearly, if not quite, reached the last 
stage. While people had thought her selfish, weak, 
and exacting, she must really have concealed severe 
suflfering, foolishly perhaps, but with great fortitude. 

And from hearing this sentence, Kalliope had turned 
to find at last tidings of her brother in a letter written 
from Avoncester, the nearest garrison town. He told 
his sister that, heart-broken already at the result of 
what he knew to be his own presumption, and horrified 
at the fatal consequences of his unhappy neglect, he 
felt incapable of facing any of those whom he had 
once called his friends, and the letter of dismissal had 
removed all scruples. Had it not been for his faith 
and fear, he would have put an end to his Ufe, but 
she need have no alarms on that score. He had rushed 
away, scarce knowing what he was doing, till he had 
found himself on the road to Avoncester, and then 
had walked on thither and enlisted in the regiment 



CHAP. XVII * THEY COME, THEY COME ' 77 

quartered there, where he hoped to do his duty, having 
no other hope left in life ! 

Part of this letter Kalliope read to Miss Mohun, 
who had come down to hear the doctor's verdict. It 
was no time to smile at the heart being broken by the 
return of a valentine, or all hope in life being over 
before twenty. Kalliope, who knew what the life of 
a private was, felt wretched over it, and her poor 
mother was in despair ; but Miss Mohun tried to per- 
suade her that it was by no means an unfortunate 
thing, since Alexis would be thus detained safely and 
within reach till Sir Jasper arrived to take up the 
matter, and Mr. White had been able to understand it. 

' Yes ; but he cannot come to my poor mother. 
And Eichard will be so angry — think it such a 
degradation.' 

' He ought not. Your father ' 

* Oh ! but he will. And I must write to him. 
Mother has been asking for him.' 

' Tell me, my dear, has Eichard ever helped you ? ' 

' Oh no, poor fellow, he could not. He wants all 
we can send him, or we would have put the little boys 
to a better school.' 

' I would not write before it is absolutely necessary,' 
said Miss Mohun. 'A young man hanging about 
with nothing to do, even under these circumstances, 
might make things harder.' 

' Yes, I know,' said Kalliope, with a trembling lip. 
' And if it was urgent, even Alexis might come. Indeed, 



78 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

I ought to be thankful that he is safe, after all my 
dreadful fears, and not far off.' 

Miss Mohun refrained from grieving the poor girl 
by blaming Alexis for the impetuous selfish folly that 
had so greatly added to the general distress of his 
family, and rendered it so much more diflBcult to plead 
his cause. In fact, she felt bound to stand up as 
his champion against all his enemies, though he was 
less easy of defence than his sister ; and Mr. Flight, 
the first person she met afterwards, was excessively 
angry and disappointed, speaking of such a step as 
utter ruin. 

'The lad was capable of so much better things,' 
said he. * I had hoped so much of him, and had so 
many plans for him, that it is a grievous pity ; but he 
had no patience, and now he has thrown himself away. 
I told him it was his first duty to maintain his mother, 
and if he had stuck to that, I would have done more 
for him as soon as he was old enough, and L could 
see what was to be done for the rest of them ; but he 
grew unsettled and impatient, and this is the end 
of it!' 

' Not the end, I hope,' said Miss Mohun. ' It is 
not exactly slavery without redemption.' 

* He does not desei-ve it' 

'Who does? Besides, remember what his father 
was.' 

' His father must have been of the high-spirited, 
dare-devil sort. This lad was made for a scholar — 



XVII * THEY COME, THEY COME ' 79 

for the priesthood, in fact, and the army will be more 
uncongenial than these marble works ! Foolish fellow, 
he will soon have had enough of it, with his refine- 
ment, among such associates.' 

Jane wondered that the young clerg3rman did not 
regret that he had sufficiently tried the youth's patience 
to give the sense of neglect and oblivion. There had 
been many factors in the catastrophe, and this had 
certainly been one, since the loan of a few books, and 
an hour a week of direction of study, would have 
kept Alexis contented, and have obviated all the 
perilous intercourse with Gillian ; but she scarcely did 
the Eev. Augustine Flight injustice in thinking that 
in the aesthetic and the emotional side of religion he 
somewhat lost sight of the daily drudgery that works 
on character chiefly as a preventive. ' He was at the 
bottom of it, little as he knows it,' she said to herself 
as she walked up the hill. ' How much harm is done 
by goo^ beginnings of a skein left to tangle.' 

Lady Flight provided a trained nurse to help 
Blalliope, and sent hosts of delicacies ; and plenty of 
abuse was bestowed on Mr. James White for his 
neglect. Meanwhile Mrs. White, though manifestly 
in a hopeless state, seemed likely to linger on for 
some weeks longer. 

In the meantime. Miss Mohun at last found an 
available house, and was gratified by the young people's 
murmur that * H Lido ' was too far off from Beechcroft. 
But then their mother would be glad to be so near St. 



8o BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

Andrew's, for she belonged tx) the generation that loved 
and valued daily services. 

Lord Eotherwood, perhaps owing to his exertions, 
felt the accident more than he had done at first, and 
had to be kept very quiet, which he averred to be 
best accomplished by having the children in to play 
with him ; and as he always insisted on sending for 
Valetta to make up the party, the edict of separation 
fell to the ground, when Lady Eotherwood, having 
written his letters for him, went out for a drive, taking 
sometimes Miss Elbury, but more often Adeline Mohun, 
who flattered herself that her representations had done 
much to subdue prejudice and smooth matters. 

' Which always were smooth,' said Jane ; ' smooth 
and polished as a mahogany table, and as easy to get 
into.' 

However, she was quite content that Ada Should be 
the preferred one, and perhaps no one less acute than 
herself would have felt that the treatment as intimates 
and as part of the family was part of the duty of a model 
wife. Both sisters were in request to enliven the 
captive, and Jane forebore to worry him with her own 
anxieties about the present disgrace of the Whites. 
Nothing could be done for Kalliope in her mother's 
present state, Alexis must drink of his own brewst, and 
Sir Jasper and Lady Merrifield were past Brindisi ! 
As to Mr. White, he seemed to be immersed in business, 
and made no sign of relenting ; Jane had made one or 
two attempts to see him, but had not succeeded. 



XVII * THEY COME, THEY COME ' 8i 

Only one of her G.F.S. maidens, who was an en- 
thusiastic admirer of Kalliope, and in perfect despair 
at her absence, mentioned that Mr. White had looked 
over aU their work and had been immensely struck with 
Miss White's designs, and especially with the table 
inlaid with autumn leaves, which had been set aside as 
expensive, unprofitable, and not according to the public 
taste, and not shown to him on his first visit to the 
works with Mr. Stebbing. There were rumours in the 
air that he was not contented with the state of things, 
and might remain for some time to set them on a 
different footing. 

Miss Adeline had been driving with Lady Eother- 
wood, and on coming in with her for the afternoon 
cup of tea, found Mr. White conversing with Lord 
Eotherwood, evidently just finishing the subject — a 
reading-room or institute of some sort for the men at 
the works. 

' All these things are since my time,' said Mr White. 
'We were left pretty much to ourselves in those 
days.' 

' And what do you think ? Should you have been 
much the better for them ? ' asked the Marquis. 

* Some of us would,' was the answer. 

' You would not have thought them a bore ? ' 

' There were some who would, as plenty will now ; 
but we were a rough set — we had not so much to start 
with as the lads, willy nilly, have now. But I should 
have been glad of books, and diversion free from law- 

VOL. II G 



82 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

lessness might have prevented poor Dick's scrapes. 
By the bye, that daughter of his can do good work.' 

* Poor thing/ said Miss Adeline, * she is a very good 
girl, and in great trouble. I was much pleased with 
her, and I think she has behaved remarkably well 
under very trying circumstances.' 

'I observed that the young women in the mosaic 
department seemed to be much attached to her,' said 
Mr. White. 

* My sister thinks she has been an excellent influ- 
ence there.' 

' She was not there,' said Mr. White. 

'No; her mother is too ill to be left — dying, I 
should think, from what I hear.' 

'From the shock of that foolish lad's evasion?' 
asked Lord Rotherwood. 

'She was very ill before, I believe, though that 
brought it to a crisis. No one would believe how 
much that poor girl has had depending on her. I 
wish she had been at the works — I am sure you would 
have* been struck with her.' 

' Have you any reason to think they are in any 
distress, Miss Mohun ? ' 

* Not actually at present ; but I do not know what 
they are to do in future, with the loss of the salaries 
those two have had,' said Adeline, exceedingly anxious 
to say neither too much nor too little. 

' There is the elder brother.' 

* Oh ! he is no help, only an expense.' 



XVII * THEY COME, THEY COME ' 83 

' Miss Mohun, may I ask, are you sure of that ? ' 

' As sure as I can be of anything. I have always 
heard that the rents of their two or three small houses 
went to support Eichard, and that they entirely live 
on the earnings of the brother and sister, except 
that you are so good as to educate the younger girl. 
It has come out casually — they never ask for any- 
thing.' 

Mr. White looked very thoughtful Adeline con- 
sidered whether importunity would do most harm or 
good ; but thought her words might work. When she 
rose to take leave, Mr. White did the same, ' evidently,* 
thought she, 'for the sake of escorting her home,' and 
she might perhaps say another word in confidence for 
the poor young people. She had much reliance, and 
not unjustly, on her powers of persuasion, and she 
would make the most of those few steps to her own 
door. 

'Indeed, Mr. White,' she began, 'excuse me, but 
I cannot help being very much interested in those 
young people we were speaking of.' 

' That is your goodness. Miss Mohun. I have no 
doubt they are attractive — there's no end to the attract- 
iveness of those Southern folk they belong to — on 
one side of the house at least ; but unfortunately you 
never know where to have them — there's no truth in 
them ; and though I don't want to speak of anything I 
may have done for them, I can't get over their professing 
never to have had anything from me.' 



84 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

' May I ask whether you sent it through that eldest 
brother ? ' 

' Certainly ; he always wrote to me/ 

'Then, Mr. White, I cannot help believing that the 
family here never heard of it. Do you know anything 
of that young man ? ' 

' No ; I will write to his firm and inquire. Thank 
you for the hint. Miss Mohun.' 

They were at Beechcroft Cottage gate, and he seemed 
about to see her even to the door. At that instant a 
little girlish figure advanced and was about to draw 
back on perceiving that Miss Adeline was not alone, 
when she exclaimed, ' Maura, is it you, out so late ! 
How is your mother ? ' 

' Much the same, thank you. Miss Adeline ! * 

'Here is one of the very young folks we were 
mentioning,' said Ada, seeing her opportunity, and 
glad that there was light enough to show the lady-like 
little figure. ' This is Maura, Mr. White, whom you 
are kindly educating.' 

Mr. White took the hand, which was given with a 
pretty respectful gesture, and said something kind 
about her mother's illness, while Adeline took the girl 
into the house and asked if she had come on any 
message. 

' Yes, if you please,* said Maura, blushing ; ' Miss 
Mohun was so kind as to offer to lend us an air-cushion, 
and poor mamma is so restless and uncomfortable 
that Kally thought it might ease her a little.' 



XVII ' THEY COME, THEY COME ' 85 

* By all means, my dear. Come in, and I will have 
it brought,' said Adeline, whose property the cushion 
was, and who was well pleased that Mr. White came 
in likewise, and thus had a full view of Maura's great 
wistful, long-lashed eyes, and delicate refined features, 
under a little old brown velvet cap, and the slight 
figure in a gray ulster. He did not speak while Maura 
answered Miss Adeline's inquiries, but when the cushion 
had been brought down, and she had taken it under 
her arm, he exclaimed— 

* Is she going back alone ? ' 

* Oh yes,' said Maura cheerfully ; ' it is not really 
dark out of doors yet.' 

'I suppose it could not be helped,' said Miss 
Adeline. 

* No ; Theodore is at the school. They keep him 
late to get things ready for the inspection, and Petros 
had to go to the doctor's to fetch something ; but he 
will meet me if he is not kept waiting.' 

' It is not fit for a child like that to go alone so 
late,' said Mr. White, who perhaps had imbibed Italian 
notions of the respectability of an escort. 'I will 
walk down with her.' 

Maura looked as if darkness were highly preferable 
to such a cavalier ; but Miss Adeline was charmed to 
see them walk off together, and when her sister 
presently came in with Gillian and Fergus, she could 
not but plume herself a little on her achievement. 

' Then it was tliose two ! ' exclaimed Jane. ' I 



86 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

thought so from the other side of the street, but it was 
too dark to be certain; and besides, there was no 
believing it/ 

* Did not they acknowledge you ? ' 

' Oh no ; they were much too busy.' 

* Talking. Oh, what fun ! ' Adeline could not help 
observing in such glee that she looked more like ' our 
youngest girl ' than the handsome middle-aged aunt. 

*But,' suggested Fergus, somewhat astonished, 
' Stebbing says he is no end of a horrid brute of a 
screw.' 

' Indeed. What has he been doing ? ' 

' He only tipped him a coach wheel.' 

' Well, to tip over as a coach wheel is the last thing 
I should have expected of Mr. White,' said Aunt Jane, 
misunderstanding on purpose. 

'A crown piece then,' growled Fergus; 'and of 
course he thought it would be a sovereign, and so he 
can't pay me my two tan — shillings, I mean, that I 
lent him, and so I can't get the lovely ammonite I saw 
at Nott's.' 

'How could you be so silly as to lend him any 
money ? ' 

' I didn't want to ; but he said he would treat us 
all round if I wouldn't be mean, and after all I only 
got half a goody, with all the liqueur out of it.' 

'It served you right,' said Gillian. *I doubt 
whether you would see the two shillings again, even 
if he had the sovereign.' 



XVII * THEY COME, THEY COME ' 87 

'He faithfully promised I should/ said Fergus, 
whose allegiance was only half broken. 'And old 
White is a beast, and no mistake. He was perfectly 
savage to Stebbing's major, and he said he wouldn't be 
under him, at no price.' 

* Perhaps Mr. White might say the same,' put in 
Aimt Ada. 

'He is a downright old screw and a bear, I tell 
you,' persisted Fergus. 'He jawed Frank Stebbing 
like a pickpocket for just having a cigar in the quarry.' 

' Close to the blasting powder, eh ? ' said Miss 
Mohun. 

' And he is boring and worrying them all out of 
their lives over the books,' added Fergus. ' Poking his 
nose into everything, so that Stebbing says his governor 
vows he can't stand it, and shall cut the concern if the 
old brute does not take himself off to Italy before 
long.' 

* What a good thing ! ' thought both sisters, looking 
into each other's eyes and auguring well for the future. 

All were anxious to hear the result of Maura's 
walk, and Gillian set out in the morning on a voyage 
of discovery with a glass of jelly for Mrs. White ; but 
all she could learn was that the great man had been 
very kind to Maura, though he had not come in, at 
which Gillian was indignant. 

'Men are often shy of going near sickness and 
sorrow,' said her Aunt Ada. ' You did not hear what 
they talked about ? ' 



88 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

'No; Maura was at school, and Kally is a bad 
person to pump/ 

' I should like to pump Mr. White/ was Aunt Jane's 
comment. 

' If I could meet him again/ said Aunt Ada, ' I feel 
sure he would tell me/ 

Her sister laughed a little, so well did she know 
that little half-conscious, half-gratified tone of assump- 
tion of power over the other sex ; but Miss Adeline 
proved to be right. Nay, Mr. White actually called 
in the raw cold afternoon, which kept her in when 
every one else was out. He came for the sake of 
telling her that he was much pleased with the little 
girl — a pretty creature, and simple and true, he really 
believed. Quite artlessly, in answer to his inquiries, 
she had betrayed that her eldest brother never helped 
them. ' Oh no ! Mamma was always getting all the 
money she could to send to him, because he must 
keep up appearances at his oflBce at Leeds, and live 
like a gentleman, and it did not signify about Kalliope 
and Alexis doing common work.' 

' That's one matter cleared up,' rejoiced Jane. ' It 
won't be brought up against them now/ 

' And then it seems he asked the child about her 
sister's lovers.' 

'Oh!' 

*It was for a purpose. Don't be old maidish, 
Jenny ! ' 

* Well, he isn't a gentleman.' 



XVII * THEY COME, THEY COME * 89 

' Now, Jaue, I'm sure ' 



'Never mind. I want to hear; only I should 
have thought you would have been the first to cry out/ 

' Little Maura seems to have risen to the occasion, 
and made a full explanation as far as she knew — and 
that was more than the child ought to have known, 
by the bye — of how Mr. Frank was always after KiJly, 
and how she could not bear him, and gave up the 
Sunday walk to avoid him, and how he had tried to 
get her to marry him, and go to Italy with him ; but 
she would not hear of it.' 

' Just the thing the little chatterbox would be proud 
of ; but it is no harm that " Mon oncle des iles Philip- 
pines " should know.' 

' " I see his little game " was what Mr. White said,' 
repeated Adeline. ' " The young dog expected to come 
over me with this pretty yoimg wife — my relation, too ; 
but he would have found himself out in his reckoning." ' 

' So far so good ; but it is not fair.' 

' However, the ice is broken. What's that ? Is the 
house coming down ? ' 

No; but Gillian and Valetta came rushing in, 
almost tumbling over one another, and each waving a 
sheet of a letter. Papa and mamma would land in 
three days' time if all went well ; but the pity was 
that they must go to London before coming to Rockquay, 
since Sir Jasper must present himself to the military 
and medical authorities, and likewise see his mother, 
who was in a very failing state. " 



90 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE ohap. 

The children looked and felt as if the meeting 
were deferred for years ; but Miss Mohun, remembering 
the condition of ' II Lido/ alike as to the presence of 
workmen and absence of servants, felt relieved at the 
respite, proceeded to send a telegram to Macrae, and 
became busier than ever before in her life. 

The Eotherwoods were just going to London. The 
Marquis was wanted for a division, and though both he 
and Dr. Dagger declared his collar-bone quite repaired, 
his wife could not be satisfied without hearing for 
herself a verdict to the same effect from the higher 
authorities, being pretty sure that whatever their report 
might be, his abstract would be *A11 right. Never 
mind.' 

Fly had gained so much in flesh and strength, and 
was so much more like her real self, that she was to 
remain at the hotel with Miss Elbury, the rooms being 
kept for her parents till Easter. Mysie was, however, 
to go with them to satisfy her mother, ' with a first 
mouthful of children,' said Lord Rotherwood. ' Gillian 
had better come too ; and we will write to the Merri- 
fields to come to us, unless they are bound to the 
old lady.' 

This, however, was unlikely, as she was very infirm, 
and her small house was pretty well filled by her 
attendants. Lady Rotherwood seconded the invitation | 

like a good wife, and Gillian was grateful Such a 
forestalling was well worth even the being the 
Marchioness's guest, and being treated with careful 



1 



XVII * THEY COME, THEY COME ' 91 

politeness and supervision as a girl of the period, 
always ready to break out. However, she would have 
Mysie, and she tried to believe Aunt Jane, who told 
her that she had conjured up a spectre of the awful 
dame. There was a melancholy parting on the side 
of poor little Lady Phyllis. ' What shall I do without 
you, Mysie dear ? ' 

' It is only for a few days.' 

' Yes ; but then you will be in a different house, all 
down in the town— it will be only visiting— not like 
sisters.' 

'Sisters are quite a different thing,' said Mysie 
stoutly ; ' but we can be the next thing to it in our 
hearts.' 

'It is not equal,' said Fly. 'You don't make a 
sister of me, and I do of you.' 

'Because you know no better! Poor Fly, I do 
wish I could give you a sister of your own.' 

'Do you know, Mysie, I think — I'm quite sure, 
that daddy is going to ask your father and mother to 
give you to us, out and out.' 

' Oh ! I'm sure they won't do that,' cried Mysie in 
consternation. ' Mamma never would !' 

' And wouldn't you ? Don't you like me as well 
as Gill and Val?' 

' I Wke you better. Stop, don't. Fly ; you are what 
people call more of a companion to me — my friend ; 
but friends aren't the same as sisters, are they ? They 
may be more, or they may be less, but it is not the 



92 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

same kind. And then it is not only you ; there are 
papa and mamma and all my brothers.' 

' But you do love daddy, and you have not seen 
yours for four years, and Aunt Florence and all the 
cousins at Beechcroft say they were quite afraid of 
him.' 

' Because he is so Oh ! I don't know how to 

say it, but he is just like Epaminondas, or King 
Arthur, or Eobert Bruce, or ' 

'Well, that's enough,' said Fly; 'I am sure my 
daddy would laugh if you said he was like all those.' 

* To be sure he would ! ' said Mysie. ' And do 
you think I would give mine for him, though yours is 
so kind and good and such fun ? ' 

'And I'm sure I'd rather have him than yours,' 
said Fly. 

'Well, that's right. It would be wicked not to 
like one's own father and mother best.' 

'But if they thought it would be good for you 
to have all my governesses and advantages, and they 
took pity on my loneliness. What then ? ' 

' Then ? Oh ! I'd try to bear it,' said unworldly 
and uncomplimentary Mysie. ' And you need not be 
lonely now. There's Val ! ' 

The two governesses had made friends, and the 
embargo on intercourse with Valetta had been allowed 
to drop ; but Fly only shook her head, and allowed 
that ' Val was better than nothing.' 

Mysie had a certain confidence that mamma would 



XVII ' THEY COME, THEY COME ' 93 

not give her away if all the lords and ladies in the 
world wanted her ; and Gillian confinned her in that 
belief, so that no misgiving interfered with her joy at 
finding herself in the train, where Lord Rotherwood 
declared that the two pair of eyes shone enough to 
light a candle by. 

' I feel,' said Mysie, jumping up and down in her 
seat, 'like the man who said he had a bird in his 
bosom/ 

' Or a bee in his bonnet, eh ? ' said Lord Eotherwood, 
while Mysie obeyed a sign from my lady to moderate 
the restlessness of her ecstasies* 

* It reaUy was a bird in his bosom,' said Gillian 
gravely, ' only he said so when he was dying in battle, 
and he meant his faith to his king.' 

* And little Mysie has kept her faith to her mother,* 
said their cousin, putting out his hand to turn the 
happy face towards him. ' So the bird may well sing 
to her.' 

' In spite of parting with Phyllis ? ' asked Lady 
Rotherwood. 

' I can't help it, indeed' said Mysie, divided between 
her politeness and her dread of being given away ; ' it 
has been very nice, but one's own, own papa and 
mamma must be more than any one.' 

' So they ought,' said Lord Rotherwood, and there 
it ended, chatter in the train not being considered 
desirable. 

Gillian longed to show Mysie and Geraldine Grin- 



94 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

stead to each other, and the first rub with her hostess 
occurred when the next morning she proposed to take 
a cab and go to Brompton. 

' Is not your first visit due to your grandmother ? ' 
said Lady Eotherwood. ' You might walk there, and 
I will send some one to show you the way/ 

*We must not go there till after luncheon/ said 
Gillian. ' She is not ready to see any one, and Bessie 
Merrifield cannot be spared ; but I know Mrs. Grin- 
stead will like to see us, and I do so want Mysie to 
see the studio.' 

' My dear ' (it was not a favourable my dear), ' I 
had rather you did not visit any one I do not know 
while you are under my charge.' 

' She is Phyllis's husband's sister,' pleaded Gillian. 

Lady Eotherwood made a little bend of acquiescence, 
but said no more, and departed, while GUlian inly raged. 
A few months ago she would have acted on her own 
responsibility (if Mysie would not have been too much 
shocked), but she had learnt the wisdom of submission 
in fact, if not in word, for she growled about great 
ladies and exclusiveness, so that Mysie looked mystified. 

It was certainly rather dull in the only half- 
revivified London house, and Belgrave Square in Lent 
did not present a lively scene from the windows. The 
Liddesdales had a house there, but they were not to 
come up till the season began ; and Gillian was 
turning with a sigh to ask if there might not be some 
books in Fly's schoolroom, when Mysie caught the 



XVII ' THEY COME, THEY COME ' 95 

sound of a bell, and ventured on an expedition to find 
her ladyship and ask leave to go to church. 

There, to their unexpected delight, they beheld 
not only Bessie, but a clerical-looking back, which, 
after some watching, they so identified that they 
looked at one another with responsive eyes, and Gillian 
doubted whether this were recompense for submission, 
or reproof for discontent. 

Very joyful was the meeting on the steps of St. 
Paul's, Knightsbridge, and an exchange of ' Oh ! how 
did you come here ? Where are you ? ' 

Harry had come up the day before, and was to go 
and meet the travellers at Southampton with his uncle, 
Admiral Merrifield, who had brought his eldest daughter 
Susan to relieve her sister or assist her. Great was 
the joy and eager the talk, as first Bessie was escorted 
by the whole party back to grandmamma's house, and 
then Harry accompanied his sisters to Belgrave Square, 
where he was kept to luncheon ; and Lady Rotherwood 
was as glad to resign his sisters to his charge as he 
could be to receive them. 

He had numerous commissions to execute for his 
vicar, and Gillian had to assist the masculine brains 
in the department of Church needlework, actually 
venturing to undertake some herself, trusting to the 
tuition of Aunt Ada, a proficient in the same ; while 
Mysie reverently begged at least to hem the borders. 

Then they revelled in the little paradises of books 
and pictures in Northumberland Avenue and Westminster 



96 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

Sanctuary, and went to Evensong at the Abbey, Mysie's 
first sight thereof, and nearly the like to Gillian, since 
she only remembered before a longing not to waste time 
in a dull place instead of being in the delightful streets. 

'It is a thing never to forget/ she said under her 
breath, as they lingered in the nave. 

' I never guessed anjrthing could make one feel so,' 
added Mysie, with a little sigh of rapture. 

'That strange unexpected sense of delight always 
seems to me to explain, " Eye hath not seen, nor ear 
heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to 
conceive," ' said Harry. 

Mysie whispered — 

' Beneath thy contemplation 
Sink heart and voice opprest ! ' 

'Oh, Harry, can't we stay and see Henry VII.'s 
Chapel, and Poets' Comer, and Edward L's monument ? ' 
pleaded the sister. 

'I am afraid we must not. Gill. I have to see 
after some vases, and to get. a lot of things at the 
Stores, and it will soon be dark. If I don't go to 
Southampton to-morrow, I will take you then. Now 
then, feet or cab ? ' 

' Oh, let us walk ! It is ten times the fun.' 

' Then mind you don't jerk me back at the crossings.' 

There are few pleasures greater of their kind than 

that of the youthful country cousin under the safe 

escort of a brother or father in London streets. The 

sisters looked in at windows^ wondered and enjoyed, 



XVII • THEY COME, THEY COME * 97 

till they had to own their feet worn out, and submit 
to a four-wheeler. 

' An hour of London is more than a month of Rock- 
quay, or a year of Silverfold,* cried Gillian, 

' Dear old Silverfold,* said Mysie ; ' when shall we 
go back ? ' 

'By the bye,' said Harry, 'how about the great 
things that were to be done for mother ? ' 

' Primrose is all right,' said Mysie. ' The dear little 
thing has written a nice copybook, and hemmed a whole 
set of handkerchiefs for papa. She is so happy with 
them.' 

' And you, little Mouse ? ' 

' I have done my translation — not quite well, I am 
afraid, and made the little girl's clothes. I wonder if 
I may go and take them to her.' 

' And Val has finished her crewel cushion, thanks 
to the aunts,' said, Gillian. 

'Fergus's machine, how about that? Perpetual 
motion, wasn't it ? ' 

' That has turned into mineralogy, worse luck,' said 
Gillian. 

' Gill has done a beautiful sketch of Rockquay,' 
added Mysie. 

' Oh ! don't talk of me,' said Gillian. ' I have 
only made a most unmitigated mess of everything.' 

But here attention was diverted by Harry's 
exclaiming — 

' Hullo ! was that Henderson ? ' 

VOL. II H 



98 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap, xvii 

' Nonsense ; the Wardours are at Cork/ 

' He may be on leave.' 

' Or retired. He is capable of it.' 

' I believe it was old Fangs.' 

The discussion lasted to Belgrave Square. 

And then Sunday was spent upon memorable 
churches and services under the charge of Harry, who 
was making the most of his holiday. The trio went 
to Evensong at St. Wulstan's, and a grand idea occurred 
to Gillian — could not Theodore White become one of 
those young choristers, who had their home in the 
Clergy House ? 



/ 



CHAPTEE XVIII 

FATHER AND MOTHER 

The telegram came early on Monday morning. 
Admiral Merrifield and Harry started by the earliest 
train, deciding not to take the girls ; whereupon their 
kind host, to mitigate the suspense, placed himself at 
the young ladies' disposal for anything in the world 
that they might wish to see. It was too good an oppor- 
tunity of seeing the Houses of Parliament to be lost, 
and the spell of Westminster Abbey was upon Mysie. 
Cousin Eotherwood was a perfect escort, and de- 
clared that he had not gone through such a course of 
English history since he had taken his cousin Lilias 
and his sister Florence the same round more years ago 
than it was civil to recollect. He gave a sigh to the 
great men he had then let them see and hear, and re- 
gretted the less that there was no possibility of regaling 
the present pair with a debate. It was all like a dream 
to the two girls. They saw, but suspense was throb- 
bing in their hearts all the time, and qualms were 
crossing Gillian as she recollected that in some aspects 
her father could be rather a terrible personage when 



J J -^ 



lOO BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

one was wilfully careless, saucy to authorities, or unable 
to see or confess wrong -doing; and the element of 
dread began to predominate in her state of expectation. 
The bird in the bosom fluttered very hard as the 
possible periods after the arrivals of trains came round ; 
and it was not till nearly eight o'clock that the decisive 
halt of wheels was heard, and in a few moments Mysie 
was in the dearest arms in the world, and Gillian feeling 
the moustached kiss she had not known for nearly four 
long years, and which was half-strange, half-familiar. 

In drawing-room light, there was the mother looking 
none the worse for her journey, her clear brown skin 
neither sallow nor lined, and the soft brown eyes as 
bright and sweet as ever; but the father must be 
learnt over again, and there was awe enough as well 
as enthusiastic love to make her quail at the thought 
of her record of self-wiU. 

There was, however, no disappointment in the sight 
of the fine, tall soldierly figure, broad shouldered, but 
without an oimce of superfluous flesh, and only altered 
by his hair having become thinner and whiter, thus 
adding to the height of his forehead, and making his 
very dark eyebrows and eyes have a different effect, 
especially as he was still pallid beneath the browning 
of many years, though he declared himself so well as 
to be ashamed of being invalided. 

Time was short. Harry and the Admiral, who 
were coming to dinner, had rushed home to dress and 
to fetch Susan; and Lady Merrifield was conducted 



XVIII FATHER AND MOTHER loi 

in liaste to her bedroom, and left to the almost too 
excited ministrations of her daughters. 

It was well that attentive servants had unfastened 
the straps, for when Gillian had claimed the keys of 
the dear old familiar box, her hand shook so much 
that they jingled ; the key would not go into the hole, 
and she had to resign them to sober Mysie, who had 
been untying the bonnet, with a kiss, and answering 
for the health of Primrose, whom Uncle William was 
to bring to London in two days' time. 

' My dear silly child,' said her mother, surprised at 
Gillian's emotion. 

And the reply was a burst of tears. ' Oh, so silly ! 
so wrong ! I have so wanted you.' 

'I know all about it. You told us all, like an 
honest child.' 

'Oh, such dreadful things — the rock — the poor 
child killed — Cousin Eotherwood hurt.' 

'Yes, yes, I heard! We can't have it out now. 
Here's papa ! She is upset about these misadventures,' 
added Lady Merrifield, looking up to her husband, 
who stood amazed at the sobs that greeted him. 

* You must control yourself, Gillian,' he said gravely. 
* Stop that ! Your mother is tired, and has to dress ! 
Don't worry her. Go, if you cannot leave off.' 

The bracing tone made Gillian swallow her tears, 
the more easily because of the familiarity of home 
atmosphere, confidence, and protection; and a mute 
caress from her mother was a promise of sympathy. 



102 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

The sense of that presence was the chief pleasure 
of the short evening, for there were too many claimants 
for the travellers' attention to enable them to do more 
than feast their eyes on their son and daughters, while 
they had to talk of other things, the weddings, the 
two families, the home news, all deeply interesting in 
their degree, though not touching Gillian quite so 
deeply as the tangle she had left at Eockstone, and 
mamma's view of her behaviour ; even though it was 
pleasant to hear of Phyllis's beautiful home in Ceylon, 
and Alethea's bungalow, and how poor Claude had to 
go off alone to Eawul Pindee. She felt sure that her 
mother was far more acceptable to her hostess than either 
of the aunts, and that, indeed, she might well be so ! 

Gillian's first feeling was like Mysie's in the morn- 
ing, that nothing could go wrong with her again ; but 
she must perforce have patience before she could be 
heard. Harry could not be spared for another day 
from his curacy, and to him was due the firat Ute-ii-Ute 
with his mother, after that most important change his 
life had yet known, and in which she rejoiced so deeply. 
' The dream of her heart,' she said, ' had always been 
that one of her sons should be dedicated '; and now that 
the fulfilment had come in her absence, it was precious 
to her to hear all those feelings and hopes and trials 
that the young man could have uttered to no other ears. 

Sir Jasper, meantime, had gone out on business, 
and was to meet the rest at luncheon at his mother's 
house, go with them to call on the Grinsteads, and 



-XVIII FATHER AND MOTHER 103 

then do some further commissions, Lady Eotherwood 
placing the carriage at their disposal. As to 'real 
talk/ that seemed impossible for the girls; they could 
only, as Mysie expressed it, 'bask in the light of 
mamma's eyes,' and after Harry was gone on an errand 
for his vicar, there were no private interviews for her. 

Indeed, the mother did not know how much Gillian 
had on her mind, and thought all she wanted was 
discussion, and forgiveness for the follies explained in 
the letter, the last received. Of any connection be- 
tween that folly and the accident to Lord Eotherwood 
of course she was not aware, and in fact she had more 
on her hands than she could well do in the time 
allotted, and more people to see. Gillian had to find 
that things could not be quite the same as when she had 
been chief companion in the seclusion of Silverfold. 

And just as she was going out the following letter 
was put into her hands, come by one of the many posts 
from Eockstone : — 

'My dear Gillian — I write to you because you 
can explain matters, and I want your father's advice, 
or Cousin Eotherwood's. As I was on the way to II 
Lido just now I met Mr. Flight, looking much troubled 
and distressed. He caught at me, and begged me to 
go with him to tell poor Kalliope that her brother 
Alexis is in Avoncester Jail. He knew it from having 
come down in the train with Mr. Stebbing. The 
charge is for having carried away with him £15 in 



104 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

notes, the payment for a marble cross for a grave at 
Barnscombe. You remember that on the day of the 
accident poor Field was taking it in the waggon, when 
he came home to hear of his child's death. 

' The receipt for the price was inquired for yesterday, 
and it appeared that the notes had been given to Field in 
an envelope. In his trouble, the poor man forgot to deliver 
this till the morning ; when on his way to the ofiBice he 
met young White and gave it to him. Finding it had not 
been paid in, nor entered in the books, and knowing the 
poor boy to have absconded, off went Mr. Stebbing, got a 
summons, and demanded to have him committed for trial. 

* Alexis owned to having forgotten the letter in the 
shock of the dismissal, and to having carried it away 
with him, but said that as soon as he had discovered 
it he had forwarded it to his sister, and had desired 
her to send it to the ofiBce. He did not send it direct, 
because he could only, at the moment, get one postage- 
stamp. On this he was remanded till Saturday, when 
his sister's evidence can be taken at the magistrates' 
meeting. This was the news that Mr. Flight and I 
had to take to that poor girl, who could hardly be 
spared from her mother to speak to us, and how she 
is to go to Avoncester it is haid to say ; but she has 
no fear of not being able to clear her brother, for she 
says she put the dirty and ragged envelope that no 
doubt contained the notes into another, with a brief 
explanation, addressed it to Mr. Stebbing, and sent it 
by Petros, who told her that he had delivered it. 



xviii FATHER AND MOTHER 105 

' I thought nothing could be clearer, and so did Mr. 
Flight; but unluckily Kalliope had destroyed her 
brother's letter, and had not read me this part of it, so 
that she can bring no actual tangible proof; and it is 
a much more serious matter than it appeared when we 
were talking to her. Mr. White has just been here, 
whether to condole or to triumph I don't exactly 
know. He has written to Leeds, and heard a very 
unsatisfactory account of that eldest brother, who cer- 
tainly has deceived him shamefully, and this naturally 
adds to the prejudice against the rest of the family. 
We argued about Kalliope's high character, and he 
waved his hand and said, " My dear ladies, you don't 
understand those Southern women — the more pious, 
devoted doves they are, the blacker they will swear 
themselves to get off their scamps of men." To repre- 
sent that Kalliope is only one quarter Greek was 
useless, especially as he has been diligently imbued by 
Mrs. Stebbing with all last autumn's gossip, and, as he 
confided to Aunt Ada, thinks " that they take advan- 
tage of his kindness !" 

' Of course Mr. Flight, and all who really know 
Alexis and Kalliope, feel the accusation absurd ; but 
it is only too possible that the Avoncester magistrates 
may not see the evidence in the same light, as its 
weight depends upon character, and the money is 
really missing ; so that I much fear their committing 
him for trial at the Quarter Sessions. It will probably 
be the best way to employ a solicitor to watch the 



io6 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

case at once, and I shall speak to Mr. Norton to- 
morrow, unless your father can send me any better 
advice by post. I hope it is not wicked to believe 
that the very fact of Mr. Norton's being concerned 
might lead to the notes finding themselves. 

'Meantime, I am of course doing what I can. 
Kally is very brave in her innocence and her brother's, 
but, shut up in her mother's sickroom, she little 
guesses how bad things are made to look, or how 
Greek and false are treated as synonymous. 

' Much love to your mother. I am afraid this is a 
damper on your happiness, but I am sure that your 
father would wish to know. Aunt Ada tackles Mr. 
White better than I do, and means if possible to make 
him go to Avoncester himself when the case comes on, 
so that he should at least see and hear for himself. — 
Your affectionate aunt, J. M.' 

What a letter for poor Gillian ! She had to pocket 
it at first, and only opened it while taking off her hat 
at grandmamma's house ; and there was only time for 
a blank feeling of uncomprehending consternation 
before she had to go down to luncheon, and hear her 
father and uncle go on with talk about India and 
Stokesley, to which she could not attend. 

Afterwards, Lady Merrifield was taken to visit 
grandmamma, and Bessie gratified the girls with a 
sight of her special den, where she wrote her stories, 
showing them the queer and flattering gifts that had 



•: 



.-^ 



XVIII FATHER AND MOTHER 107 

come to her in consequence of her authorship, which 
was becoming less anonymous, since her family were 
growing hardened to it, and grandmamma was past 
hearing of it or being distressed. It was in Bessie's 
room that Gillian gathered the meaning of her aunt's 
letter, and was filled with horror and dismay. She broke 
out with a little scream, which brought both Mysie 
and Bessie to her side ; but what could they do ? 
Mysie was shocked and sympathising enough, and 
Bessie was trying to understand the complicated story, 
when the summons came for the sisters. There were 
hopes of communicating the catastrophe in the carriage ; 
but no, the first exclamation of ' Oh, mamma ! ' was 
lost. 

Sir Jasper had something so important to tell his 
wife about his interviews at the Horse Guards, that 
the attempt to interrupt was silenced by a look and sign. 
It was a happy thing to have a father at home, but it 
was different from being mamma's chief companion 
and confidante, and poor Gillian sat boiling over with 
something very like indignation at not being allowed 
even to show that she had something to tell at least 
as important as anything papa ccndd be relating. 

She hardly knew wkether to be glad or sorry that 
the Grinsteads proved to be out of town ; but at any 
rate she might be grateful to Lady Eotherwood for 
preventing a vain expedition — a call on another old 
friend, Mrs. Craydon, the Marianne Weston of early 
youth, and now a widow, as she too was out Then 



Io8 BEECtiCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

followed some shopping that the parents wanted to do 
together, but at the door of the Stores Lady Merrifield 
said — 

' I have a host of things to get here for the two 
brides. Suppose, papa, that you walk home with 
Gillian across the Park. It will suit you better than 
this fearful list' 

Lady Merrifield only thought of letting father and 
daughter renew their acquaintance, and though she 
saw that Gillian was in an agony to speak about some- 
thing, did not guess what an ordeal the girl felt it to 
have to begin with the father, unseen for four years, 
and whose searching eyes and grave politeness gave 
a sense of austerity, so that trepidation was spoiling all 
the elation at having a father, and such a father, to 
walk with. 

' Well, Gillian,' he said, ' we have a great deal of 
lee way to make up. I want to hear of poor White's 
children. I am glad you have had the opportunity of 
showing them some kindness.' 

' Oh, papa ! it is so dreadful ! If you would read 
this letter.' 

'I cannot do so here,' said Sir Jasper, who could 
not well make trial of his new spectacles in Great 
George Street. ' What is dreadful ? ' 

* This accusation. Poor Alexis ! Oh ! you don't 
know. The accident and all — our fault — mine really,' 
gasped Gillian. 

' I am not likely to know at this rate,' said Sir 



XVIII FATHER AND MOTHER 109 

Jasper. * I hope you have not caught the infection of 
incoherency from Lord Eotherwood. Do you mean 
his accident ? ' 

* Yes ; they have turned them both off, and now 
they have gone and put Alexis in prison.' 

' For the accident ? I thought it was a fall of rock.' 

' Oh no — I mean yes — it wasn't for that ; but it 
came of that, and Fergus and I were at the bottom 
of it,' said Gillian, in such confusion that her words 
seemed to tumble out without her own control. 

' How did you escape with your lives ? ' 

Was he misunderstanding her on purpose, or giving 
a lesson on slipslop at such a provoking moment ? 
Perhaps he was really only patient with the daughter 
who must have seemed to him half-foolish, but she 
was forced to collect her senses and say — 

' I only meant that we were the real cause. Fergus 
is wild about geology, and took away a stone that was 
put to show where the cliff was unsafe. He showed 
the stone to Alexis White, who did not know where 
it came from and let him have it, and that was the 
way Cousin Eotherwood came to tread on the edge of 
the precipice.' 

' What had you to do with it ? ' 

' I — oh ! I had disappointed Alexis about the 
lessons,' said Gillian, blushing a little; 'and he was 
out of spirits, and did not mind what he was about' 

' H'm ! But you cannot mean that this youth can 
have been imprisoned for such a cause.' 



I lo BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

' No ; that was about the money, but of course he 
sent it back. He ran away when he was dismissed, 
because he was quite in despair, and did not know 
what he was about/ 

' I think not, indeed ! ' 

' Papa,' said Gillian, steadying her voice, ' you must 
not, please, blame him so much, for it was really very 
much my fault, and that is what makes me doubly 
unhappy. Did you read my last letter to mamma ? ' 

' Yes. I understood that you thought you had not 
treated your aunts rightly by not consulting them 
about your intercourse with the Whites, and that you 
had very properly resolved to tell them all. I hope 
you did so.' 

' Indeed I did, and Aunt Jane was very kind, or 
else I should have had no comfort at all. Was mamma 
very much shocked at my teaching Alexis ? ' 

' I do not remember. We concluded that whatever 
you did had your aunts' sanction.' 

' Ah ! that was the point.' 

' Pid these young people persuade you to secrecy ? ' 

* Oh no, no ; Kalliope protested, and I overpowered 
her, because — ^because I was foolish, and I thought 
Aimt Jane interfering.' 

* I see/ said Sir Jasper, with perhaps more compre- 
hension of the antagonism than sisterly habit and 
affection would have allowed to his wife. ' I am glad 
you saw your error, and tried to repair it ; but what 
could you have done to affect this boy so much. 



XVIII FATHER AND MOTHER in 

How old is he ? We thought of him as twelve 
or fourteen, but one forgets how time goes on, and 
you speak of him as in a kind of superintendent's 
position.' 

' He is nineteen/ 

Sir Jasper twirled his moustache. 

' I begin to perceive,' he said ; ' you rushed into an 
undertaking that became awkward, and when you had 
to draw off, the young fellow was upset and did not 
mind his business. So far I understand, but you said 
something about prison.' 

The worst part of the personal confession was over 
now, and Gillian could go on to tell the rest of the 
Stebbing enmity, of Mr. White's arrival, and of the 
desire to keep his relations aloof from him. 

' This is guess work,' said Sir Jasper. 

* I think Cousin Eotherwood would say the same,' 
rejoined Gillian, and then she explained the dismissal, 
the flight, and the unfortunate consequences, and that 
Aunt Jane hoped for advice by the morning's post. 

' I am afraid it is too late for that,' said Sir Jasper, 
looking at his watch. ' I must read her letter and 
consider.' 

Gillian gave a desperate sigh, and felt more desperate 
when at that moment the very man they had had a 
glimpse of on Saturday met them, exclaiming in a 
highly delighted tone — 

' Sir Jasper Merrifield !' 

Any Eoyal Wardour ought to have been welcome 



112 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

to the Merrifields, but this individual had not been 
a particular favourite with the young people. They 
knew he was the son of a popular dentist, who had 
made his fortune, and had put his son into the army 
to make a gentleman of him, and prevent him from 
becoming an artist. In the first object there had been 
very fair success ; but the taste for art was unquench- 
able, and it had been the fashion of the elder half of 
the Merrifield family to make a joke, and profess to be 
extremely bored, when ' Fangs,' as they naughtily called 
him among themselves, used to arrive from leave, armed 
with catalogues, or come in with his drawings to find 
sympathy in his coloners wife. Gillian had caught 
enough from her four elders to share in an unreasoning 
way their prejudice, and she felt doubly savage and 
contemptuous when she heard — 

' Yes, I retired.' 

' And what are you doing now ? ' 

*My mother required me as long as she lived* 
(then Gillian noticed that he was in mourning). ' I 
think I shall go abroad, and take lessons at Florence or 
Eome, though it is too late to do anything seriously 
— and there are affairs to be settled first.' 

Then came a whole shoal of other inquiries, and 
even though they actually included ' poor White ' and 
his family, Gillian was angered and dismayed at the 
wretch being actually asked by her father to come in 
with them and see Lady Merrifield, who would be 
delighted to see him. 



XVIII FATHER AND MOTHER 113 

' What would Lady Eotherwood think of the liberty ? ' 
the displeased mood whispered to Gillian. 

But Lady Eotherwood, presiding over her pretty 
Worcester tea-set, was quite ready to welcome any of 
the Merrifield friends. There were various people in 
the room besides Lady Merrifield and Mysie, who had 
just come in. There was the Admiral talking politics 
with Lord Eotherwood, and there was Clement Under- 
wood, who had come with Harry from the city, and 
Bessie discussing with them boys' guilds and their 
amusements. 

Gillian felt frantic. Would no one cast a thought 
on Alexis in prison ? If he had been to be hanged the 
next day, her secret annoyance at their indifference to 
his fate could not have been worse. 

And yet at the first opportunity Harry brought 
Mr. Underwood to talk to her about his choir-boys, 
and to listen to her account of the 7th Standard boy, 
a member of the most musical choir in Eockquay, and 
the highest of the high. 

* I hope not cockiest of the cocky,' said Mr. Under- 
wood, smiling. ' Our experience is that superlatives 
may often be so translated.' 

' I don't think poor Theodore is cocky,' said Gillian ; 
'the Whites have always been so bullied and sat 
upon.' 

' Is his name Theodore ? ' asked Mr. Underwood, as 
if he liked the name, which Gillian remembered to have 
seen on a cross at Vale Leston. 

VOL. II I 



114 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

* Being sat upon is hardly the best lesson in 
humility/ said Harry. 

* There's apt to be a reaction/ said Mr. Underwood ; 
' but the crack voice of a country choir is not often in 
that condition, as I know too welL I was the veriest 
young prig myself under those circumstances ! ' 

' Don't be too hard on cockiness/ said Lord Eother- 
wood, who had come up to them ; * there must be con- 
sciousness of powers. How are you to fly, if you 
mustn't flap your wings and crow a little ? ' 

^ On a les d4fauts de ses qualitdSy put in Lady Merri- 
field. 

'Yes/ added Mr. Underwood. 'It is quite true 
that needful self-assertion and originality, and sense of 
the evils around ' 

— * Which the old folk have outgrown and got used 
to,' said Lord Eotherwood. 

— ' May be condemned as conceit,' concluded Mr. 
Underwood. 

' Ay, exactly as Eliab knew David's pride and the 
naughtiness of his heart,' said Lord Eotherwood. ' If 
you won't fight your giant yourself, you've no business 
to condemn those who feel it in them to go at him.' 

' Ah ! we have got to the condemnation of others, 
instead of the exaltation of self,' said Lady Merrifield. 

* It is better to cultivate humility in one's self than 
other people, eh ?' said the Marquis, and his cousin 
thought, though she did not say, that he was really 
the most humble and unself-conscious man she had 



XVIII FATHER AND MOTHER 115 

ever known. What she did say was, * It is a plant 
that grows best uncultivated/ 

' And if you have it not by happy nature, what 
then ? * said Clement Underwood. 

' Then I suppose you must plant it, and there will 
be plenty of tears of repentance to water it,' returned 
she. 

' Thank you,' said Clement. ' That is an idea to 
work upon.' 

' All very fine !' sighed Gillian to Mysie, * but oh, 
how about Alexis in prison ! There's papa, now he 
has got rid of Fangs, actually going to walk ofif with 
Uncle Sam, and mamma has let Lady Eotherwood get 
hold of her. Will nobody care for anybody?' 

* I think I would trust papa,' said Mysie. 

He was not long gone, and when he came back he 
said, ' You may give me that letter, Gillian. I posted 
a card to tell your aunt she should hear to-morrow.' 

All that Gillian could say to her mother in private 
that evening consisted of, ' Oh, mamma, mamma,' but 
the answer was, ' I have heard about it from papa, my 
dear; I am glad you told him. He is thinking what 
to do. Be patient.' 

Externally, awe and good manners forced Gillian to 
behave herself; but internally she was so far from 
patient, and had so many bitter feelings of indignation, 
that she felt deeply rebuked when she came down 
next morning to find her father hurrying through his 
breakfast, with a cab ordered to convey him to the 



1 16 . BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

station, on his way to see what could be done for 
Alexis White. 

That day Gillian had her confidential talk with her 
mother — a talk that she never forgot, trying to dig to 
the roots of her failures in a manner that only the true 
mother-confessor of her own child can perhaps have 
patience and skill for, and that only when she has studied 
the creature from babyhood. The concatenation, ending 
(if it was so to end) in the committal' to Avoncester 
Jail, and beginning with the interview over the rails, 
had to be traced link by link, and was almost as long 
as ' the house that Jack built/ 

' And now I see/ said Gillian, ' that it all came of 
a nasty sort of antagonism to Aunt Jane. I never 
guessed how like I was to Dolores, and I thought her 
so bad. But if I had only trusted Aunt Jane, and 
had no secrets, she would have helped me in it all, I 
know now, and never have brought the Whites into 
trouble/ 

'Yes,' said Lady Merrifield; 'perhaps I should 
have warned you a little more, but I went off in such 
a hurry that I had no time to think. You children 
are all very loyal to us ourselves ; but I suppose you 
are all rather infected by the modern spirit, that criti- 
cises when it ought to submit to authorities.* 

' But how can one help seeing what is amiss ? As 
some review says, how respect what does not make 
itself respectable ? You know I don't mean that for 
my aunts. I have learnt now what Aunt Jane really 



XVIII FATHER AND MOTHER 117 

is — how very kind and wise and clever and forgiving — 
but I was naughty enough to think her at first ' 

' Well, what ? Don't be afraid/ 

' Then I did think she was fidgety and worrying — 
always (tt one, and wanting to poke her nose into 
everything/ 

' Poor Aunt Jane ! Those are the faults of her 
girlhood, which she has been struggling against all her 
life !' 

' But in your time, mamma, would such difficulties 
really not have been seen — I mean, if she had been 
actually what I thought her V 

* I think the difference was that no faults of the 
elders were dwelt upon by a loyal temper. To find 
fault was thought so wrong that the defects were 
scarcely seen, and were concealed from ourselves as well 
as others. It would scarcely, I suppose, be possible to 
go back to that unquestioning state, now the temper 
of the times is changed ; but I belong enough to the 
older days to believe that the true safety is in submis- 
sion in the spirit as well as the letter.' 

' I am sure I should have found it so,' said Gillian. 
' And oh ! I hope, now that papa is come, the Whites 
may be spared any more of the troubles I have brought 
on them.' 

' We will pray that it may be so,' said her mother. 



CHAPTEE XIX 

THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 

A TELEGRAM had been received in the morning, 
which kept Valetta and Fergus on the qui vive all 
day. Valetta was an unspeakable worry to the 
patient Miss Vincent, and Fergus arranged his fossils 
and minerals. 

Both children flew out to meet their father at the 
gate, but words failed them as he came into the house, 
greeted the aunts, and sat down with Fergus on his 
knee, and Valetta encircled by his arm. 

' Yes, Lilias is quite well, very busy and happy — 
with her first instalment of children.' 

' I am so thankful that you are come,' said Adeline. 
' Jane ventured to augur that you would, but I thought 
it too much to hope for.' 

' There was no alternative,' said Sir Jasper. 

' I infer that you halted at Avoncester.' 

' I did so ; I saw the poor boy.' 

' What a comfort for his sister !' 

' Poor fellow ! Mine was the first friendly face he 
had seen, and he was almost overcome by it' — and 



CHAP. XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 119 

the strong face quivered with emotion at the recollec- 
tion of the boy's gratitude. 

' He is a nice fellow/ said Jane. ' I am glad you 
have seen him, for neither Mr. White nor Eother- 
wood can believe that he is not utterly foolish, if not 
worse.' 

' A boy may do foolish things without being a fool,' 
said Sir Jasper. ' Not that this one is such another 
as his father. I wish he were.' 

*I suppose he has more of the student scholarly 
nature.' 

f Yes. The enlistment, which was the making of 
his father, was a sort of moral suicide in him. I got 
him to tell me all about it, and I find that the idea 
of the inquest, and of having to mention you, you 
monkey, drove him frantic, and the dismissal completed 
the business.' 

' I told them about it,' said Fergus. 

'Quite right, my boy; the pity was that he did 
not trust to your honour, but he seems to have worked 
himself into the state of mind when young men run 
amuck. I saw his colonel, Lydiard, and the captain 
and sergeant of his company, who had from the first 
seen that he was a man of a higher class under a 
cloud, and had expected further enquiry, though, even 
from the little that had been seen of him, there was a 
readiness to take his word. As the sergeant said, he was 
not the common sort of runaway clerk, and it was a 
thousand pities that he must go to the civil power — in 



I20 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

which I am disposed to agree. What sort of man is 
the cousin at the marble works V 

' A regular beast/ murmured Fergus. 

* I think/ said Jane, ' that he means to be good and 
upright' 

' More than means/ said Ada ; ' but he is cautious, 
and says he has been so often deceived.* 

'As far as I can understand/ said Jane, 'there 
was originally desperate enmity between him and his 
cousin.' 

* He forgave entirely,' said Ada ; ' and he really has 
done a great deal for the family, who own that they 
have no claim upon him.' 

'Yes/ said Jane, 'but from a distance, with no 
personal knowledge, and a contempt for the foreign 
mother, and the pretensions to gentility. He would 
have been far kinder if his cousin had remained a 
sergeant' 

' He only wished to try them,' said Adeline, ' and 
he always meant to come and see about them ; besides, 
that eldest son has been begging of him on false pre- 
tences all along.' 

' That I can believe,' said Sir Jasper. ' I remember 
his father's distress at his untruth in the regimental 
school, and his foolish mother shielding him. No 
doubt he might do enough to cause distrust of his 
family ; but has Mr. White actually never gone near 
them, as Gillian told me ?' 

' Excepting once walking Maura home/ said Jane, 



f XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 121 

\ 

I 'no; but I ascribe all that to the partner, Mr. 

f Stebbing, who has had it all his own way here, and 

I seems to me to have systematically kept Alexis down 

to unnecessarily distasteful drudgery. Kalliope's talent 
gave her a place ; but young Stebbing's pursuit of her, 
though entirely unrequited, has roused his mother's 
bitter enmity, and there are all manner of stories 
afloat. I believe I could disprove every one of them ; 
but together they have set Mr. White against her, and 
he cannot see her in her office, as her mother is too ill 
to be left. I do believe that if the case against Alexis 
is discharged, they will think she has the money.' 

* Stebbing said Maura changed a five-pound note,' 
put in Fergus ; ' and when I told him to shut up, for 
it was all bosh, he punched me.' 

' I hope Eichard sent it,' said Ada ; * but you see 
the sort of report that is continually before Mr. White 
— not that I think he believes half, or is satisfied with 
the Stebbings.' 

' I am sure he is not with Frank Stebbing,' 
said Jane. 'I do think and hope that he is only 
holding ofl' in order to judge ; and I think your coming 
may have a great effect upon him, Jasper.' 

The Eotherwoods had requested Sir Jasper to use 
their apartments at the hotel, and he went thither to 
dress, being received, as he said, by little Lady Phyllis 
with much grace and simplicity. 

The evening passed brightly, and when the children 
were gone to bed, their father said rather anxiously 



122 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. ^ 

that he feared the aunts had had a troublesome charge 
hastily thrust on them. 

' We enjoyed it very much/ said Adeline politely. 

' We were thankful to have a chance of knowing 
the young people/ added Jane. 'I am only glad you \ 

did not come home at Christmas, when I was not 
happy about the two girls.' 

' Yes ; Valetta got into trouble and wrote a piteous 
little letter of confession about copying.' 

' Yes, but you need not be uneasy about that ; it 
was one of those lapses that teach women without any 
serious loss. She did not know what she was about, 
and she told no falsehoods ; indeed, each one of your 
children has been perfectly truthful throughout/ 

'That is the great point, after all. Lilias could 
hardly fail to make her children true.' 

' Fergus is really an excellent little boy, and Gillian 
—poor Gillian — I think she really did want more 
experience, and was only too innocent.' 

'That is what you really think,' said the father 
anxiously. 

' Yes, I do/ said Jane. ' If she had been a fast 
girl, she would have been on her guard against the 
awkward situation, and have kept out of this mess ; 
but very likely would have run into a worse one.* 

' I do not think that her elder sisters would have ♦ 

done like her.' 

' Perhaps not ; but they were living in your regi- 
mental world at the age when her schoolroom life was 



i 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 123 

going on. I think you have every reason to be satisfied 
with her tone of mind. . As you said of the boy, a 
person may commit an imprudence without being 
imprudent/ 

' I quite agree to that/ he said, ' and, indeed, I see 
that you have managed her most wisely, and obtained 
her affection and gratitude, as indeed you have mine 1* 
he added, with a tone in his voice that touched Jane 
to the core of her heart. 

' I never heard anything like it before/ she said to 
her sister over their fire at night, with a dew of 
pleasure in her eyes. 

'I never liked Jasper so well before. He is 
infinitely pleasanter and more amiable. Do you re- 
member our first visit? No, it was not you who 
went with me, it was Emily. I am sure he felt 
bound to be on guard all the time against any young 
officer's attentions to his poor little sister-in-law,' said 
Ada, with her Maid-of- Athens look. *The smallest 
approach brought those hawk's eyes of his like a dart 
right through one's backbone. It all came back to 
me to-night, and the way he used to set poor Lily to 
scold me.' 

'So that you rejoiced to be grown old. I beg 
your pardon, but I did. My experience was when I 
went to help lily pack for foreign service, when I 
suppose my ferret look irritated him, for he snubbed 
me extensively, and I am sure he rejoiced to carry his 
wife out of reach of all the tribe. I dare say I richly 



1 24 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

deserved it, but I hope we are all " mellered down," as 
Wat Greenwood used to say of his brewery for the pigs/ 

' My dear, what a comparison !' 

' Redolent of the Old Court, and of Lily, waiting 
for her swan's nest among the reeds, till her stately 
warrior came, and made her day dreams earnest in a 
way that falls to the lot of few. I don't think his 
severity ever dismayed her for a moment, there was 
always such sweetness in it.' 

' True knight and lady ! Yes. He is grown 
handsomer than ever, too ! ' 

' I hope he will get those poor children out of their 
hobble ! It is chivalrous enough of him to come 
down about it, in the midst of all his business in 
London.' 

Sir Jasper started the next morning with Fergus 
on his way to school, getting on the road a good deal 
of information, mingled together about forms and 
strata, cricket and geology. Leaving his little son at 
Mrs. Edgar's door, he proceeded to Ivinghoe Terrace, 
where he waited long at the blistered door of the 
dilapidated house before the little maid informed him 
that Mr. Richard was gone out, and missus was so ill 
that she didn't know as Miss White could see nobody ; 
but she took his card and invited him to walk into the 
parlour, where the breakfast things were just left 

Down came Kalliope, with a wan face and eyes 
worn with sleeplessness, but a light of hope and grati- 
tude flashing over her features as she met the kind 



J 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 125 

eyes, and felt the firm hand of her father's colonel, a 
sort of king in the eyes of all Eoyal Wardours. 

* My poor child,' he said gently, ' I am come to 
see if I can help you/ 

' Oh ! so good of you,' and she squeezed his hand 
tightly, in the effort perhaps not to give way. 

' I fear your mother is very ill.' 

'Very ill,' said Kalliope. 'Eichard came last 
night, and he let her know what we had kept from 
her ; but she is calmer now.' 

' Then your brother Eichard is here.' 

* Yes ; he is gone up to Mr. White's.' 

'He is in a solicitor's office, I think. Will he be 
able to undertake the case ? ' 

' Oh no, no * — the white cheek flushed, and the 
hand trembled. ' There is a Leeds family here, and 
he is afraid of their finding out that he has any con- 
nection with this matter. He says it would be ruin 
to his prospects.' 

* Then we must do our best without him,' Sir Jasper 
said in a fatherly voice, inexpressively comforting to 
the desolate wounded spirit. ' I will not keep you long 
from your mother, but will you answer me a few 
questions? Your brother tells me ' 

She looked up almost radiantly, 'You have seen 
him?' 

' Yes. I saw him yesterday,' and as she gazed as 
if the news were water to a thirsty soul — * he sent 
his love, and begged his mother and you to forgive the 



126 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

distress liis precipitancy has caused. I did not think 
him looking ill ; indeed, I think the quiet of his cell 
is almost a rest to him, as he makes sure that he can 
clear himself/ 

'Oh, Sir Jasper! how can we ever be grateful 

enough 1 ' 

' Never mind that now, only tell me what is needful, 
for time is short. Your brother sent these notes in 
their own envelope, he says.' 

' Yes, a very dirty one. I did not open it or see 
them, but enclosed it in one of my own, and sent it 
by my youngest brother, Petros.' 

' How was yours addressed ? ' 

* Francis Stebbing, Esq., Marble Works ; and I put 
in a note in explanation.' 

' Is the son's name likewise Francis ? ' 

' Francis James.' 

' Petros delivered it ? ' 

' Yes, certainly.' 

Here they were interrupted by Maura's stealing 
timidly in with the message that poor mamma had 
heard that Sir Jasper was here, and would he be so 
very good as to come up for one minute and speak to 

her. 

* It is asking a great deal,* said KaUiope, ' but it 
would be very kind, and it might ease her mind.' 

He was taken to the poor little bedroom fiill of 
oppressive atmosphere, though the window was open 
to relieve the labouring breath. It seemed absolutely 



xrx THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 127 

filled with the enonnous figure of the poor dropsical 
woman with white ghastly face, sitting pillowed up, 
incapable of lying down. 

' Oh, so good ! so angelic ! ' she gasped. 
' I am sorry to see you so ill, Mrs. White/ 
' Ah ! 'tis djdng I am. Colonel Merrifield — begging 
your pardon, but the sight of you brings back the times 
when my poor captain was living, and I was the happy 
woman, 'Tis the thought of my poor orphans that is 
vexing me, leaving them as I am in a strange land 
where their own flesh and blood is unnatural to them,' 
she cried, trjdng to clasp her swollen hands, in the 
excitement that brought out the Irish substructure of 
her nature. 'Ah, Colonel dear, you'll bear in mind 
their father that would have, died for you, and be good 
to them.' 

* Indeed, I hope to do what I can for them.' 
'They are good children. Sir Jasper, all of them, 

even the poor boy that is in trouble out of the very 
warmth of his heart; but 'tis Eichard who would be 
the credit to you, if you would lend him the helping 
hand. Where is the boy, Kally ? ' 

* He is gone to call on Mr. White.' 

' Ah ! and you'll say a good word for him with his 
cousin,' she pleaded, ' and say how 'tis no discredit to 
him if things are laid on his poor brother that he 
never did.' 

The poor woman was evidently more anxious to 
bespeak patronage for her first-born, the pride and 



1 28 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

darling of her heart, than for those who might be 
thought to need it more ; but she became confused 
and agitated when she thought of Alexis, declaring 
that the poor boy might have been hasty, and have 
disgraced himself, but it was hard, very hard, if they 
swore away his liberty, and she never saw him more, 
and she broke into distressing sobs. Sir Jasper, in 
a decided voice, assured her that he expected with 
confidence that her son would be freed the next day, 
and able to come to see her. 

' It's the blessing of a dying mother will be on you, 
Colonel dear ! Oh ! bring him back, that his mother's 
eyes may rest on the boy that has always been dutiful. 
No — no, Dick, I tell you 'tis no disgrace to wear the 
coat his father wore.' Wandering was beginning, and 
she was in no condition for Kalliope to leave her. 
The communicative Maura, who went downstairs with 
him, said that 'Eichard was so angry about Alexis 
that it had upset poor mamma sadly. And could 
Alexis come ? ' she asked, * even when he is cleared.' 

' I wm ask for furlough for him.' 

' Oh ! thank you — that would do mamma more 
good than anything. She is so fond of Eichard, he 
is her favourite ; but Alexis is the real help and 
comfort.' 

' I can quite believe so. And now will you tell 
me where I shall find your brother who took the letter, 
Peter or Petros ? ' 

' Petros is his name, but the boys call him Peter. 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 129 

He is at school — the Bellevue National School — ^up that 
street.' 

Ilepairing to that imposing building, Sir Jasper 
knocked at the door, and sent in his card by an 
astonished pupil-teacher with a request to the master 
that he might speak to Petros White, waiting in the 
porch till a handsome little fellow appeared, stouter, 
rosier, and more English looking than the others of 
his family, but very dusty, and rather scared. 

' You don't remember me,' said Sir Jasper, ' but I 
was your father's colonel, and I want to find some way 
of helping your brother. Your sister tells me she gave 
you a letter to carry to Mr. Stebbing.' 

' Yes, sir.' 

' Where did you take it ? ' 

' To his house, Carrara.' 

' Was it not directed to the Marble Works ? ' 

* Yes, but ' 

' But what ? Speak out, my man.' 

' At the gate Blake, the porter, was very savage, 
and would not let us in. He said he would have no 
boys loafing about, we had done harm enough for one 
while, and he would set his dog at us.' 

' Then you did not give him the letter ? ' 

* No. I wouldn't after the way he pitched into me. 
I didn't know if he would give it. And he wouldn't 
hear a word, so we went up to Eockstone to the house.' 

' Whom did you give it to there ? ' 
' I dropped it into the sHt in the door.' 

VOL. II K 



1 30 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

* You only told your sister that you delivered it* 

' Yes, sir. Theodore said I must not tell sister ; it 
would only vex her more to hear how every one pitches 
into us, right and left,' he said, with trembling lip. 

' Is Theodore your next brother ? ' 

'Yes, sir.' 

' Was he with you ? ' 

' No ; it was Sydney Grove.' 

' Is he here ? Or — ^Did any one else see you leave 
the letter ? ' 

* Mr. Stebbing's son — the young one, George, was 
in the drive and slanged us for not going to the back 
door.' 

' That is important. Thank you, my boy. Give 
my — my compliments to your master, and ask him to 
be kind enough to spare this Sydney Grove to me for 
a few moments.* 

This proved to be an amphibious-looking boy, older 
and rougher than Petros, and evidently his friend and 
champion. He was much less shy, and spoke out 
boldly, saying how he had gone with little Peter, and 
the porter had rowed them downright shameful, but it 
was nothing to that there young Stebbing ordering 
them out of the grounds for a couple of beastly cads, 
after no good. He (Grove) had a good mind to ha' 
given 'un a good warming, only 'twas school time, and 
they was late as it was. Everybody was down upon 
the Whites, and it was a shame when they hadn't done 
nothing, and he didn't see as they was stuck up, not he. 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 131 

Sir Jasper made a note of Master Grove's residence, 
and requested an interview with the master, from whom 
he obtained an excellent character of both the Whites, 
especially Theodore. The master lamented that this 
affair of their brother should have given a handle 
against them, for he wanted the services of the elder 
one as a monitor, eventually as a pupil-teacher, but did 
not know whether the choice would be advisable under 
the present circumstances. The boys' superiority made 
them unpopular, and excited jealousy among a certain 
set, though they were perfectly inoffensive, and they 
had much to go through in consequence of the suspicion 
that had fallen on their brother. Petros and Sydney 
should have leave from school whenever their testimony 
was wanted. 

As Sir Jasper walked down the street, his elder 
sister-in-law emerged from a tamarisk-flanked gateway. 
* This is your new abode, Jasper,' she said. ' Come in 
and see what you think of it ! Well, have you had 
any success ? ' 

He explained how the letter could be traced to Mr. 
Stebbing's house, and then consulted her whether to 
let all come out at the examination before the magis- 
trates, or to induce the Stebbings to drop the prosecution. 

' It would serve them right if it all came out in 
pubUc,' she said. 

' But would it be well ? ' 

' One must not be vindictive ! And to drag poor 
Kalliope to Avoncester would be a dreadful business 



132 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

in her mother's state. Besides, Frank Stebbing is 
young, and it may be fair to give them a chance of 
hushing it up. I ought to be satisfied with clearing 
Alexis.' 

* Then I will go to the house. When shall I be 
likely to find Mr. Stebbing ? ' 

* Just after limcheon, I should say.' 
' And shall I take the lawyer ? ' 

* I should say not. If they hope to keep the thing 
secret, they will be the more amenable, but you should 
have the two boys within reach. Let us ask for them 
to come up after their dinner to Beechcroft. No, it 
must not be to dinner. Petros must not be sent to 
the kitchen, and Ada would expire if the other came 
to us 1 Now, do you like to see your house ? Here is 
Macrae dying to see you.' 

The old soldier had changed his quarters too often 
to be keenly interested in any temporary abode, pro- 
vided it would hold the requisite amount of children, 
and had a pleasant sitting-room for his Lily, but he 
inspected politely and gratefully ; and had a warmly 
affectionate interview with Macrae, who had just arrived 
with a great convoy of needfuls from Silverfold, and 
who undertook to bring up and giClard the two boys 
from any further impertinences that might excite Master 
Grove's pugnacity. 

It was a beautiful day, of the lamb-like entrance 
weather of March, and on the way home Miss Adeline 
was met taking advantage of the noontide sunshine to 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 133 

exchange her book at the library, ' where/ she said, ' I 
found Mr. White reading the papers, so I asked him to 
meet Jasper at luncheon, thinking that may be useful' 

If Sir Jasper would rather have managed matters by 
himself, he forebore to say so, and he got on very well 
with Mr. White on subjects of interest, but, to the ladies' 
vexation, he waited to be alone before he began, * I 
have come down to see what can be done for this poor 
young man, Mr. White, a connection of yours, I believe.' 

' A bad business. Sir Jasp6r, a bad business.' 

' I am sorry to hear you say so. I have seen a 
great deal of service with his father, and esteemed him 
very highly ' 

' Ay, ay, very likely. I had a young man's differ- 
ences with my cousin, as lads will fall out, but there 
was the making of a fine fellow in him. But it was 
the wife, bringing in that Greek taint, worse even than 
the Italian, so that there's no believing a word out of 
any of their mouths.' 

' Well, the schoolmaster has just given me a high 
character of the younger one, for truthfulness especially.' 

' All art, Sir Jasper, all art They are deeper than 
your common English sort, and act it out better. I'll 
just give you an instance or two. That eldest son has 
been with me just now, a smart young chap, who 
swears he has been keeping his mother aU this time — 
he has written to me often enough for help to do so. 
On the other hand, the little sister tells me, ''Mamma 
always wants money to send to poor Eichard." Then 



134 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

again, Miss Mohun assures me that the elder one vows 
that she never encouraged Frank Stebbing for a 
moment, and to his mother's certain knowledge she is 
keeping up the correspondence.' 

' Indeed,' said Sir Jasper. * And may I ask what 
is your opinion as to this charge ? I never knew a 
young man enlist with fifteen pounds in his pocket.' 

'Spent it by the way, sir. Ean through it at 
billiards. Nothing more probable; it is the way 
with those sober-looking lads when something upsets 
them. Then when luck went against him, enlisted out 
of despair. Sister, like all women, ready to lie through 
thick and thin to save him, most likely even on oath.' 

' However,' said Sir Jasper, 'I can produce independ- 
ent witness that the youngest boy set off with the 
letter for the office, and the porter not admitting him, 
carried it to the house/ 

' What became of it then V 

' Mr. Stebbing will have to answer that. I propose 
to lay the evidence before him in his own house, so 
that he may make inquiry, and perhaps find it, and 
drop the prosecution. Will, you come with me ?' 

' Certainly, Sir Jasper. I should be very glad to 
think as you do. I came prepared to act kindly by 
these children, the only relations I have in the world ; 
but I confess that what I have seen and heard has 
made nie fear that they, at least the elder ones, are 
intriguing and undeserving. I should be glad of any 
proof to the contrary.' 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 135 

Carrara was not far off, and they were just in time 
to catch Mr. Stebbing in his arm-chair, looking over 
his newspaper, before repairing to his office. Mrs. 
Stebbing stood up, half-flattered, half-fluttered, at the 
call of this stately gentleman, and was scarcely pre- 
pared to hear him say- 

'I have come down about this affair of young 
White's. His father was my friend and brother-officer, 
and I am very anxious about him.' 

' I have been greatly disappointed in those young 
people. Sir Jasper,' said Mr. Stebbing uneasily. 

' I understand that you are intending to prosecute 
Alexis White for the disappearance of the fifteen pounds 
he received on behalf of the firm.' 

'Exactly so, Sir Jasper. There's no doubt that the 
carter, Field, handed it to him; he acknowledges as 
much, but he would have us believe that after running 
away with it, he returned it to his sister to send to 
me. Where is it ? I ask.' 

* Yes,' put in Mrs. Stebbing, ' and the girl, the little 
one, changed a five-pound note at Glover's.' 

*I can account for that,' said Mr. White, with 
somewhat of an effort. ' I gave her one for her sister, 
and charged them not to mention it.' 

He certainly seemed ashamed to mention it before 
those who accounted it a weakness; and Sir Jasper 
broke the silence by proposing to produce his witnesses. 

' Eeally, Sir Jasper, this should be left for the court,' 
said Mr. Stebbing. 



136 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

' It might be well to settle the matter in private, 
without dragging Miss White into Avoncester away 
from her dying mother/ 

' Those things are so exaggerated/ said the lady. 

' I have seen her/ said Sir Jasper gravely. 

•'May I ask who these witnesses are?' demanded 
Mr, Stebbing. 

'Two are waiting here— the messenger and his 
companion. Another is your porter at the marble 
works, and the fourth is your youngest son.' 

This caused a sensation, and Mrs. Stebbing began — 

'I am sure I can't tell what you mean. Sir 
Jasper.' 

' Is he in the house ?' *i » * 

' Yes ; he has a bad cold.' ^« 

Mrs. Stebbing opened the door and called ' George/ 
and on the boy's appearance, Sir Jasper asked him-r- 

' Do you remember the morning of the 1 7th of last 
month — three days after the accident? I want to 
know whether you saw any one in the approach to 
the house.' 

' I don't know what day it was/ said the boy, some- 
what sulkily. 

'You did see some one, and warned them ofif?' 

' I saw two little ca — two boys out of the town on 
the front door steps/ 

'Did you know them?' 

' No — that is to say, one was a fisherman's boy.' 

'And the other?' 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 137 

' I thought he belonged to the lot of Whites.* 

' Should 7011 know them again V 

' I suppose so.' 

' Will you excuse me, and I will call them into the 
hall V said Sir Jasper. 

This was effected, and Master George had to identify 
the boys, after which Sir Jasper elicited that Petros 
had seen the dirty envelope come out of his brother's 
letter, and that his sister had put it into another, 
which she iaddressed as he described, and gave into his 
charge to deliver. Then came the account of the way 
he had been refused admittance by the porter. 

'Why didn't you give him the letter?' demanded 
Mr. jBtebbing. 

' Gatch us,' responded Sydney Grove, rejoiced at the 
opportunity, 'when what we got was, "Get out, you 
young rascals !"' 

Petros more discreetly added — 

' My sister wanted it to be given to Mr. Stebbing, 
so we went up to the house to wait for him, but it 
got late for school, and I saw the postman drop the 
letters into the slit in the door, so I thought that 
would be all right* 

'Did you see him do so ?' asked Sir Jasper of the 
independent witness. 

'Yes, sir; and he there' — pointing to George — 
' saw it too, and ' 

' Did you ?' 

' Ay, and thought it like their impudence.' 



1 38 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

'That will do, my boys/ said Sir Jasper. 'Now 
run away/ 

Mr. White put something into each paw as the 
door was opened and the pair made their exit. 

If Sir Jasper acted as advocate, Mr. White seemed 
to take the position of judge. 

' There can be no doubt/ he said, ' that the letter 
containing the notes reached this house.' 

' No,' said Mr. Stebbing hotly. ' Why was I not 
told ? Who cleared the letter-box V 

It was the page's business; but to remember any 
particular letter on any particular day was quite 
beyond him, and he only stared wildly and said, 'Dun 
no/ on which he was dismissed to the lower regions. 

' The address was " Francis Stebbing, Esq.,*" said 
Sir Jasper meditatively, perhaps like a spider pulling 
his cord. 

' Francis — your son's name. Can he^ ' 

' Mr. White, I'll thank you to take care what you 
say of my son !' exclaimed Mrs. Stebbing ; but there 
was a blank look of alarm on the father's face. 

' Where is he ?' asked Mr. White. 

' He may be able to explain ' — courtesy and pity 
made the General add. 

'No, no/ burst out the mother. 'He knows 
nothing of it. Mr. Stebbing, can't you stand up for 
your own son?' 

' Perhaps/ began the poor man, his tone faltering with 
a terrible anxiety, but his wife exclaimed hastily — 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 139 

' He never saw nor heard of it, I put it in the fire/ 
There was a general hush, broken by Mr. Stebbing 
saying slowly — 

' You — put — ^it — ^in — the— fire/ 

* Yes ; I saw those disreputable-looking boys put it 
into the box. I wasn't going to have that bold girl 
sending biUy-doos on the sly to my son/ 

' Under these circumstances/ drily said Sir Jasper, 
' I presume that you will think it expedient to with- 
draw the prosecution/ 

* Certainly, certainly,' said Mr. Stebbing, in the tone 
of one delivered from great alarm. ' I will write at 
once to my solicitor at Avoncester.* Then turning on 
his wife, ' How was it that I never heard this before, 
and you let me go and make a fool of myself V 

* How was I to know, Mr. Stebbing ? You started 
off without a word to me, and all you told me when 
you came back was that the young man said he had 
posted the letter to his sister. I should like to know 
why he could not send it himself to the proper place !' 

* Well, Mrs. Stebbing/ said her husband, ' I hope it 
will be a lesson to you against making free with other 
people's letters.' 

She tossed her head, and was about to retire, when 
Sir Jasper said — 

'Before leaving us, madam, in justice to my old 
friend's daughter, I should be much obliged if you 
would let me know your groimds for believing the 
letter to be what you say.' 



140 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

'Why — why, Sir Jasper, it has been going on 
this year or more ! She has perfectly infatuated the 
poor boy.' 

' I am not asking about your son's sentiments, but 
can you adduce any proof of their being encouraged !' 

' Sir Jasper ! a young man doesn't go on in that 
way without encouragement' 

' What encouragement can you prove V 

' Didn't I surprise a letter from her ?' 

* Well ' — checked the tone of triumphant conviction. 

* A refusal, yes, but we all know what that means, 
and that there must have been something to lead to it ' 
—and as there was an unconvinced silence — * Besides 
— oh, why, every one knew of her arts. You did, Mr. 
Stebbing, and of poor Frank's infatuation. It was the 
reason of her dismissal.' 

*I knew what you told me, Mrs. Stebbing,' he 
answered grimly, not at all inclined to support her 
at this moment of anger. *I am sure I wish I had 
never listened to you. I never saw anything amiss 
in the girl's behaviour, and they are all at sixes and 
sevens without her at the mosaic work — though she is 
only absent from her mother's illness at present.* 

' You ! of course she would not show her goings on 
before you,' said the lady. 

' Is Master Frank in the house ? ' put in Mr. White ; 
* I should like to put the question before him.' 

' You can't expect a.young man to make mortifying 
admissions,' exclaimed the mother, and as she saw 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 141 

smiles in answer she added, ' Of course, the girl has 
played the modest and proper throughout ! That was 
her art, to draw him on, till he did not know what he 
was about/ 

'Setting aside the supposed purpose,' said Sir 
Jasper, *you admit, Mrs. Stebbing, that of your own 
knowledge. Miss White has never encouraged your 
son's attentions.' 

' N — no ; but we all know what those girls are.' 
' Fatherless and unprotected,' said Sir Jasper, ' de- 
pendent on their own character and exertion, and 
therefore in especial need of kind construction. Good- 
morning, Mrs. Stebbing ; I have learnt all that I wish 
to know/ 

Overpowered, but not convinced, Mrs. Stebbing 
saw her visitors depart. 

' And I hope her husband will give it to her well,* 
said Mr. White, as they left the house. 

They looked in at Beechcroft Cottage with the 
tidings. 

' All safe, I see ! ' cried Miss Jane. ' Is the money 
found ? ' 

' No ; Mrs. Stebbing burnt it, under the impression 
that it was a love-letter,' drily said Sir Jasper. 

Miss Mohun led the way in the hearty fit of 
laughter, to which the gentlemen gave way the more 
heartily for recent suppression; and Mr. White 
added — 

' I assure you, it was as good as a play to hear Sir 



142 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

Jasper worm it out. One would think he had been 
bred a lawyer.' 

'j^d now/ said the General, 'I must go and 
relieve that poor girl's suspense.' 

*I will come with you,' volunteered Mr. White. 
* I fully believe that she is a good girl, though this 
business and Master Bichard's applications staggered 
me ; and this soldier feUow must be an ass if he is 
not a scamp.' 

' Scarcely that, I think,' said Miss Adelaide, with 
her pleading smile. 

' Well, discipline will be as good for him as for his 
father,' said Mr. White. *He has done for himself; 
but that was a nice little lad that you had up — too 
good for a common national school.' 

Wherewith they departed, and found that Kalliope 
must have been on the watch, for she ran down to 
open the door to them, and the gladness which irradi- 
ated her face at Sir Jasper's first * All right,' lighted up 
her features, which were so unlike the shop-girl pretti- 
ness that Mr. White expected as quite to startle him. 

Eichard was in the parlour in a cloud of smoke, 
and began to do the honours. 

* Our acknowledgments are truly due to Sir Jasper. 
Mr. White, we are much honoured. Pray be seated. 
Please to excuse ' 

They paid little attention to him, while Sir Jasper 
told as much to his sister as could well be explained 
as to the fate of her envelope, and added — 



XIX THE KNIGHT AND THE DRAGON 143 

'You will not be wanted at Avoncester, as the 
case will not come on. I shall go and see all safe, 
then on to town ; but I mean to see your broker's 
commanding officer, and you may tell your mother 
that I have no doubt that he will be allowed a 
furlough/ 

'But, Sir Jasper,' broke in Eichard, 'I beg your 
pardon ; but there is a family from Leeds at Bellevue, 
the Nortons, and imagine what it would be if they 
reported me as connected with a common private 
soldier, just out of prison too ! ' 

' Let him come to me then,' exclaimed Mr. White. 

In spite of appearances of disgust, Richard took 
the invitation to himself, and looked amiable and 
gratified. 

' Thank you, Mr. White, that will obviate the 
difficulty. When shall I move up ? ' 

' You, sir ! Did you think I meant you ? ' said 
Mr. White contemptuously. 'No; I prefer a fool to 
a knave ! ' 

' Mr. White,' interposed Sir Jasper, ' whatever you 
may have to say to Richard White, consider his sister. 
Or had you not better report our success to your 
mother, my dear ? * 

' One moment,' said Mr. White. ' Tell me, young 
lady, if you do not object, what assistance have you 
ever received from me.' 

' You have most kindly employed us, and paid for 
Maura's education,' said Kalliope. 



144 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap, xix 

'Is that all? Has nothing been transmitted 
through this brother ? ' 

' I do not understand,' said Kalliope, trembling, as 
Bichard scowled at her. 

' Sir/ said he, * I always intended, but unforeseen 
circumstances * 

' That's enough for the present, sir,' said Mr. White. 
' I have heard all I wish, and more too.' 

* Sir,' said Kalliope, still trembling, ' indeed, Bichard 
is a kind son and brother. My mother is much 
attached to him. I am generally out all day, and it 
is quite possible that she did not tell me all that 
passed between them, as she knew that I did not like 
you to be applied to.' 

' That will do, my dear,' said Mr. White. ' I don't 
want to say any more about it You shall have your 
brother to-morrow, if Sir Jasper can manage it I 
will bring him back to Bockstone as my guest, so that 
his brother need not be molested with his company.' 



CHAPTEE XX 

rVlNGHOE TERRACE 

On an east -windy Friday afternoon Valetta and 
Fergus were in a crowning state of ecstasy. Eigdum 
Funnidos was in a hutch in the small garden under 
the clifif, Begum and two small gray kittens were in a 
basket under the kitchen stairs, Aga was purring under 
everybody's feet, Cocky was turning out the guard 
upon his perch — ^in short, II lido was made as like 
Silverfold as circumstances would permit. Aunt Ada 
with Miss Vincent was sitting on the sofa in the 
drawing-room, with a newly- worked cosy, like a giant's 
fez, over the teapot, and Valetta's crewel cushion fully 
displayed. She was patiently enduring a rush in and 
out of the room of both children and Quiz once every 
minute, and had only requested that it should not be 
more than once, and that the door should neither be 
slammed nor left open. 

Macrae and the Silverfold carriage were actually 
gone to the station, and, oh ! oh ! oh ! here it really 
was with papa on the box, and heaps of luggage, and 
here were Primrose and Gillian and mamma and Mrs. 

VOL. n L 



146 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

Halfpenny, all emerging one after another, and Primrose, 
looking — oh dear! more like a schoolroom than a 
nursery girl — such a great piece of black leg below 
the little crimson skirt; but the dear little face as 
plump as ever. 

That was the first apparent fact after the disengaging 
from the general embrace, when all had subsided into 
different seats, and Aunt Jane, who had appeared from 
somewhere in her little round sealskin hat, had begun 
to pour out the tea. The first sentence that emerged 
from the meUe of greetings and intelligence was — 

' Fly met her mother at the station ; how well she 
looks ! ' 

* Then Victoria came down with you ? ' 

* Yes ; I am glad we went to her. I really do like 
her very much.' 

Then Primrose and Valetta varied the scene by 
each laying a kitten in their mother's lap ; and Begum, 
jumping after her progeny, brushed Lady Merrifield's 
face with her bushy tail, interrupting the information 
about names. 

'Come, children,' said Sir Jasper, 'that's enough; 
take away the cats.' It was kindly said, but it was 
plain that liberties with mamma would not continue 
before him. 

' The Whites ? ' was Gillian's question, as she pressed 
up to Aunt Jane. 

' Poor Mrs. White died the night before last,' was 
the return. ' I have just come from Kally. She is 



XX IVINGHOE TERRACE 147 

in a stunned state now — actually too busy to think and 
feel, for the funeral must be to-morrow/ 

Sir Jasper heard, and came to ask further questions. 

'She saw Alexis,' went on Miss Mohun. 'They 
dressed him in his own clothes, and she seemed greatly 
satisfied when he came to sit by her, and had forgotten 
all that went before. However, the end came very 
suddenly at last; and all those poor children show 
their southern nature in tremendous outbursts of grief 
— all except Ealliope, who seems not to venture on 
giving way, will not talk, or be. comforted, and is, as 
it were, dried up for the present. The big brothers 
give way quite as much as the children, in gusts, that 
is to say. Poor Alexis reproaches himself with having 
hastened it, and I am afraid his brother does not spare 
him. But Mr. White has bought his discharge.' 

' You don't mean it.' 

' Yes ; whether it was the contrast between Alexis's 
air of refinement and his private soldier's turn-out, 
or the poor fellow's patience and submission, or the 
brother's horrid behaviour to him, Mr. White has taken 
him up, and bought him out.' 

' All because of Bichard's brutal speech. That is 
good ! Though I confess I should have let the lad 
have at least a year's discipline for his own good, since 
he had put himself into it; but I can't be sorry. 
There is something engaging about the boy.' 

'And Mr. White is the right man to dispose of 
them,' 



148 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

No more passed, for here were the children 

eager and important, doing the honours of the new 

house^ and intensely happy at the sense of home, 

which with them depended more on persons than on 

place. 

'One schoolroom again,* said Mysie. 'One again 

with Val and Prim and Miss Vincent Oh, it is 

happiness ! ' 

Even Mrs. Halfpenny was a delightful sight, 
perhaps the more so that her rightful dominion was 
over ; the nursery was no more, and she was only to 
preside in the workroom, be generally useful, wait on 
my lady, and look after Primrose as far as was 
needful. 

The bustle and excitement of settling in prevented 
much thought of the Whites, even from Gillian, during 
that evening and the next morning; and she was 
ashamed of her own oblivion of her friend in the new 
current of ideas, when she found that her father meant 
to attend the funeral out of respect to his old fellow- 
soldier. 

Eockquay had outgrown its churchyard, and had a 
cemetery half a mile off, so that people had to go in 
carriages. Mr. White had made himself responsible 
for expenses, and thus things were not so utterly 
dreary as poverty might have made them. It was a 
dreary, gusty March day, with driving rushes of rain, 
which had played wildly with Gillian's waterproof 
while she was getting such blossoms and evergreen 



XX IVINGHOE TERRACE 149 

leaves as her aunt's garden afforded, not out of love 
for the poor Queen of the White Ants herself, but 
thinking the attention might gratify the daughters; 
and her elders moralised a little on the use and abuse 
of wreaths, and how the manifestation of tender affec- 
tion and respect had in many cases been imitated in 
empty and expensive compliment. 

' The world spoils everything with its coarse finger,' 
said Lady Merrifield. 

* I hope the custom will not be exaggerated alto- 
gether out of fashion,' said Jane. * It is a real comfort 
to poor little children at funerals to have one to carry, 
and it is as Mrs. Graskell's Margaret said of mourning, 
something to prevent settling to doing nothing but 
crying ; besides that afterwards there is a wholesome 
sweetness in thus keeping up the memory.' 

Sir Jasper shared a carriage with Mr. White, and 
returned somewhat wet and very cold, and saying that 
it had been sadly bleak and wretched for the poor 
young people, who stood trembling, so far as he could 
see ; and he was anxious to know how the poor girls 
were after it. It had seemed to him as if Kalliope could 
scarcely stand. He proved to be right. Kalliope had 
said nothing, not wept demonstratively, perhaps not at 
all ; but when the carriage stopped at the door, she 
proved to be sunk back in her comer in a dead faint. 
She was very long in reviving, and no sooner tried to 
move than she swooned again, and this time it lasted 
so long that the doctor was sent for. Miss Mohun 



150 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

arrived just as he had partially restored her, and they 
had a conversation. 

' They must get that poor girl to bed as soon as it 
is possible to undress her/ he said. * I have seen that 
she must break down sooner or later, and Fm afraid 
she is in for a serious illness ; but as yet there is no 
knowing.' 

N'ursing was not among Jane's accomplishments, 
except of her sister Ada's chronic, though not severe 
ailments ; but she fetched Mrs. Halfpenny as the most 
effective person within reach, trusting to that good 
woman's Scotch height, strong arms, great decision, 
and the tenderness which real illness always elicited. 

Nor was she wrong. Not only did Mrs. Halfpenny 
get the half-unconscious girl into bed, but she stayed 
till evening, and then came back to snatch a meal and 
say — 

' My leddy, if you have no objection, I will sit up 
with that puir lassie the night. They are all men-folk 
or bairns there, except the lodger-lady, who is worn 
out with helping the mother, and they want some one 
with a head on her shoulders.' 

Lady Merrifield consented with all her heart ; but 
the Sunday morning's report was no better, when Mrs. 
Halfpenny came home to dress Primrose, and see her 
lady. 

' That eldest brother, set him up, the idle loon, was 
off by the mail train that night, and naething wad 
serve him but to come in and bid good-bye to his 



XX IVINGHOE TERRACE 151 

sister just as I had gotten her off into something more 
like a sleep. It startled her up, and she went oflf her 
head again, poor dearie, and began to talk about prison 
and disgrace, and what not, till she fainted again ; and 
when she came to, I was fain to call the other lad to 
pacify her, for I could see the trouble in her puir een, 
though she could scarce win breath to speak/ 

* Is Alexis there V 

' Surely he is, my leddy ; he's no the lad to leave 
his sister in sic a strait. It was all I could do to gar 
him lie down when she dozed off again, but there's sair 
stress setting in for all of them, poor things. I have 
sent the little laddie off to beg the doctor to look in as 
soon as he can, for I am much mistaken if there be 
not fever coming on.' 

* Indeed ! And what can those poor children do ?' 

' That's what I'm thinking, my leddy. And since 
'tis your pleasure that the nursery be done awa' wi', 
and I have not ta'en any fresh work, I should like 
weel to see the puir lassie through wi' it. Ye'll no 
mind that Captain White and my puir Halfpenny 
listed the same time, and always forgathered as became 
douce lads. The twa of them got their stripes thegither, 
and when Halfpenny got his sunstroke in that weary 
march, 'twas White who gave him his last sup of water, 
and brought me his bit Bible. So I'd be fain to tend 
his daughter in her sickness, if you could spare me, 
my leddy, and I'd aye rin home to dress Missie Prim- 
rose and pit her to bed, and see to matters here.' 



152 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONB chap. 

* There's no better nurse in the world, dear old 
Hal^enny/ said Lady Merrifield, with tears in her 
eye& ' I do feel most thankful to you for proposing 
it. Never mind ahout Primrose, only you must have 
your meals and a good rest here, and not knock your- 
self up/ 

Mrs. Halfpenny smiled grimly at the notion of her 
being sooner knocked up than a steam-engine. Dr. 
Dagger entirely confimed her opinion that poor 
Kalliope was likely to have a serious illness, low 
nervous fever, and failing action of the heart, no doubt 
from the severe strain that she had undergone, more 
or less, for many months, and latterly fearfully enhanced 
by her mother's illness, and the shock and suspense 
about Alexis, all borne under the necessity of external 
composure and calmness, so that even Mrs. Lee had 
never entirely understood how much it cost her. The 
doctor did not apprehend extreme danger to one young 
and healthy, but he thought much would depend on 
good nursing, and on absolute protection from any 
sort of excitement, so that such care as Mrs. Half- 
penny's was invaluable, since she was well known 
to be a dove to a patient, but a dragon to all out- 
siders. 

Every one around grieved at having done so little 
to lighten these burthens, and having even increased 
them, her brother Alexis above all ; but on the other 
hand, he was the only person who was of any use to 
her, or was suffered to approach her, since his touch 



x-^ IVINGHOE TERRACE I53 

and voice calmed the recurring distress, lest he were 
stall in prison and danger. 

Alexis went back dutifnlly on the Monday morning 
to his post at the works. The young man was much 
changed by his fortnight's experiences, or rather he had 
been cured of a temporary fit of distraction, and re- 
tamed to his better self. How many discussions his 
friends held about him cannot be recorded, but after a 
conversation with Mr. FKght, with whom he was really 
more unreserved than toy other being except Kalliope, 
this was the understanding at which Miss Mohun and 
Lady Merrifield arrived as to his nature and character. 

Eefined, studious, and sensitive, thoroughly religious- 
minded, and of a high tone of thought, his aspirations 
had been blighted by his father's death, his brother's 
selfishness, and his mother's favouritism. In a brave 
spirit of self-abnegation, he had turned to the uncon- 
genial emplojonent set before him for the sake of his 
family, and which was rendered specially trying by the 
dislike of his fellows to ' the gentleman cove,' and the 
jealousy of the Stebbings. Alike for his religious and 
his refined habits he had suffered patiently, as Mr. 
Flight had always known more or less, and now bore 
testimony. The curate, who had opened to him the 
first door of hope and comfort, had in these weeks 
begun to see that the apparent fitfalness of his kind- 
ness had been unsettling. 

Then came the brief dream of felicity excited by 
Gillian and the darkness of its extinction, just as Frank 



1 54 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

Stebbing's failure and the near approach of Mr. White 
had made the malice of his immediate superiors render 
his situation more intolerable than ever. There was 
the added sting of self-reproach for his presumption 
towards Gillian, and the neglect caused by his fit of 
low spirits. Such a sensitive being, in early youth, 
wearied and goaded on all sides, might probably have 
persevered through the darkness till daylight came ; but 
the catastrophe, the dismissal, and the perception that 
he could only defend himself at the expense of his 
idol's little brother, all exaggerated by youthful imagin- 
ation, were too much for his balance of judgment, 
and he fled without giving himself time to realise how 
much worse he made it for those he left behind him. 

Of course he perceived it all now, and the more 
bitterly from his sister's wanderings, but the morbid 
exaggeration was gone. The actual taste of a recruit's 
life had shown him that there were worse things than 
employment at the quarries with his home awaiting 
him; and his cell had been a place of thought and 
recovery of his senses. He had never seriously ex- 
pected conviction, and Sir Jasper's visit had given him 
a spring of hopeful resignation, in which thoughts 
stirred of doing his duty, and winning his way after 
his father's example, and taking the trials of his military 
life as the just cross of his wrong-doing in entering it. 

His liberation and Mr. White's kindness had not 
altered this frame. He was too unhappy to feel his 
residence in the great house anything but a restraint ; 



XX IVINGHOE TERRACE IS5 

he could not help believing that he had hastened his 
mother's death, and could only bow his head meekly 
under his brother's reproaches, alike for that and for 
his folly and imprudence and the disgrace he had 
brought on the family. 

* And now youll be currying favour and cutting 
out every one else,' had been a sting which added fresh 
force to Alexis's desire to escape from his kinsman's 
house to Bleep at home as soon as his brother had gone ; 
and Eichard had seen enough of Sir Jasper and of Mr. 
White to be anxious to return to his oflfice at Leeds as 
soon as possible, and to regulate his affairs beyond 
their reach. 

Alexis knew that he had avoided a duty in not 
working out his three months' term, and likewise that 
his earnings were necessary to the family all the more 
for his sister being laid aside. He knew that he hardly 
deserved to resume his post, and he merely asked per- 
mission so to do, and it was granted at once, but curtly 
and coldly. 

Mr. Flight had asked if he had not found the going 
among the other clerks very trying. 

' I had other things to think of,' said Alexis sadly, 
then recalling himself ' Yes ; Jones did sneer a little, 
but the others stopped that. They knew I was down, 
you see.' 

' And you mean to go on ? ' 

* If I may. That, and for my sister to get better, 
is all I can dare to hope. My madness and selfishness 



1 56 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

have shown me unworthy of all that I once dreamt 
of/ 

In that resolution it was assuredly best to leave 
him, only giving him such encouragement and sympathy 
as might prevent that more dangerous reaction of giving 
up all better things ; and Sir Jasper impressed on Mr. 
Flight, the only friend who could have aided him in 
fulfilling his former aspirations, that Mr. White had in 
a manner purchased the youth by buying his discharge, 
and that interference would not only be inexpedient, 
but unjust. The young clergyman chafed a little over 
not being allowed to atone for his neglect; but Sir 
Jasper was not a person to be easily gainsayed. Nor 
could there be any doubt that Mr. White was a good 
man, though in general so much inclined to reserve his 
hand that his actions were apt to take people by sur- 
prise at last, as they had never guessed his intentions, 
and he had a way of sucking people's brains without in 
the least letting them know what use he meant to make 
of their information. The measures he was taking for 
the temporal, intellectual, and spiritual welfare of the 
people at the works would hardly have been known 
except for the murmurs of Mrs. Stebbing, although, 
without their knowing what he was about with them, 
Mr, Stebbing himself, Mr. Hablot, Miss Mohun, to say 
nothing of Alexis, the foremen and the men and their 
wives, had given him the groundwork of his reforms. 
Meantime, he came daily to inquire for Kalliope, and 
lavished on her all that could be an alleviation, greatly 



XX IVTNGHOE TERRACE 157 

offending Mr& Halfpenny by continually proffering the 
services of a hospital nurse. 

' A silly tawpie that would be mair trouble than 
half a dozen sick/ as she chose to declare. 

She was a bom autocrat, and ruled as absolutely in 
No. 1 as in her nursery, ordering off the three young 
ones to their schools, in spite of Maura's remonstrances 
and appeals to Lady Merrifield, who agreed with nurse 
that the girl was much better away and occupied than 
where she could be of very little use. 

Indeed, Mrs. Halfpenny banished every one from 
the room except Mrs. Lee and Alexis, whom she would 
allow to take her place, while she stalked to H Lido 
for her meals, and the duties she would not drop. As 
to rest, she always, in times of sickness, seemed to be 
made of cast iron, and if she ever slept at all, it was in 
a chair, while Alexis sat by his sister in the evening. 

The fever never ran very high, but constant 
vigilance was wanted from the extreme exhaustion 
and faintness. There was no violent delirium, but 
more of delusion and distress ; nor was it easy to tell 
when she was conscious or otherwise, for she hardly 
spoke, and as yet the doctor forbade any attempt to 
rouse her more than was absolutely needful. They 
were only to give nourishment, watch her, and be 
patient. 

A few months ago Gillian would have fussed herself 
into a frantic state of anxiety and self-reproach ; but 
her parents, when her mother had once heard as much 



158 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

outpouring as she thought expedient, would not permit 
what Sir Jasper called ' perpetual harping/ 

' You have to do your duties all the same, and not 
worry your mother and all the family with your feel- 
ings/ he said. 

She thought it very unkind, and went away crying. 

'Nobody could hinder her from thinking about 
Xalliope,' she said to herself, and think she did at 
her prayers, and when the bulletins came in ; but the 
embargo on discussion prevented her from being so 
absolutely engrossed, as in weaker hands she might 
have been, and there was a great deal going on to 
claim her attention. For one thing, the results of 
the Cambridge Examination showed that while Emma 
Norton and a few others had passed triumphantly, she 
had failed, and conscience carried her back to last 
autumn's disinclination to do just what Aunt Jane 
especiaUy recommended. 

She cried bitterly over the failure, for she had a 
feeling that success there would redeem her somewhat 
in her parents' eyes; but here again she experienced 
the healing kindness of her father. He would not 
say that he should not have been much pleased by 
her success, but he said failure that taught her to do 
her best without perverseness was really a benefit; and 
as arithmetic and mathematics had been her weakest 
points, he would work at them with her and Mysie for 
an hour every morning. 

It was somewhat formidable, but the girls soon 



XX IVINGHOE TERRACE 159 

found that what their father demanded was applica- 
tion^ and that inattention displeased him much more 
than stupidity. His smile, though rare, was one of 
the sweetest things in the world, and his approbation 
was delightful, and gave a stimulus to the entire day's 
doings. Mysie was more than ever in dread of being 
handed over to the Botherwoods, though her love for 
poor My and pity for her solitude were so strong. 
She would have been much relieved if she had known 
what had passed ; when the offer was seriously made, 
Lord Botherwood insisted that his wife should do it 

' Then they will believe in it,' he said. 

*I do not know why you should say that,' she 
returned, always dutifully blinding herself to that 
which all their intimates knew perfectly well. How- 
ever, perhaps from having a station and dignity of her 
own, together with great simplicity, Lady Merrifield had 
from her first arrival got on so well with her hostess 
as not quite to enter into Jane's sarcastic descriptions 
of her eflforts at cordiality ; and it was with real warmth 
that Lady Eotherwood begged for Mysie as a permanent 
companion and adopted sister to Phyllis, who was to 
be taken back to London after Easter, and in the 
meantime spent every possible moment with her 
cousins. Tears at the unkindness to lonely Fly came 
into Lady Merrifield's eyes as she said — 

' I cannot do it, Victoria ; I do not think I ought 
to give away my child, even if I could.' 

' It is not only our feelings,' added Sir Jasper, ' but 



i6o BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

it is our duty to bring up our own child in her natural 
station ; and though we know she would learn nothing 
but good in your family, I cannot think it well that 
a girl should acquire habits, and be used to society 
ways and of life beyond those which she can expect 
to continue.' 

They both cried out at this, Lord Botherwood with 
a halting declaration of perfect equality, which his lady 
seconded, with a dexterous reference to connections. 

'We will not put it on rank then,' said Sir 
Jasper, ' but on wealth. With you, Maria must become 
accustomed to much that she could not continue, and 
had better not become natural to her. I know there 
are great advantages to manners and general cultiva- 
tion in being with you, and we shall be most thankful 
to let her pay long visits, and be as much with Phyllis 
as is consistent with feeling her home with us, but I 
cannot think it right to do more.' 

' But with introductions,* pleaded Lady Botherwood, 
'she might marry well. With her family and connec- 
tions, she would be a match for any one.' 

' I hope so,' said Sir Jasper ; ' but at the same time 
it would not be well for her to look on such a marriage 
as the means of continuing the habits that would 
have become second nature.' 

' Poor Mysie,' exclaimed Lord Botherwood, bursting 
out laughing at the idea, and at Lady Merrifield's look 
as she murmured, * My Mysie 1 ' 

'You misunderstand me,' said the Marchioness 



XX IVINGHOE TERRACE i6i 

composedly. ' I was as far as possible from proposing 
marriage as a speculation for her/ 

' I know you were/ said Sir Jasper. * I know you 
would deal by Maria as by your own daughter, and I 
am very grateful to you, Lady Eotherwood ; but I can 
only come back to my old decision, that 6is Providence 
did not place her in your rank of life, she had better 
not become so accustomed to it as to render her own 
distasteful to her/ 

' Exactly what I expected,' said Lord Eotherwood. 

' Yes,' returned his wife, with an effort of generosity ; 
* and r believe you are right, Jasper, though I am sorry 
for my little solitary girl, and I never saw a friend so 
perfectly suitable for her as your Mysie/ 

' They may be friends still,' said Lord Eotherwood, 
'and we will be grateful to you whenever you can 
spare her to us/ 

' Perhaps/ added Sir Jasper, ' all the more helpful 
friends for seeing different phases of life/ 

' And,' said his wife, with one of her warm impulses, 
' I do thank you, Victoria, for so loving my Mysie.' 

*As if any one could help it, after last winter,' 
said that lady, and an impromptu kiss passed between 
the two mothers, much to the astonishment of the 
Marquis, who had never seen his lady so moved towards 
any one. 

The Merrifields were somewhat on the world, for 
Sir Jasper, on going to Silverfold and corresponding 
with the trustees of the landlord, had found that the 

VOL. II M 



i62 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

place could not be put in a state either of repair or 
sanitation, such as he approved, without more expense 
than either he or the trustees thought advisable, and 
he decided on giving it up, and remaining at II Lido 
till he could find something more suitable. 

The children, who had been there during the 
special home-making age, bewailed the decision, and 
were likely always to look back on Silverfold as a sort 
of Paradise; but the elder ones had been used to 
changes from infancy, and had never settled down, 
and their mother said that place was little to her as 
long as she had her Jasper by her side ; and as to the 
abstract idea of home as a locality, that would always 
be to her under the tulip-tree and by the pond at the 
Old Court at Beechcroft, just as her abstract idea of 
church was in the old family pew, with the carved 
oak panels, before the restoration, in which she had 
been the most eager of alL 

Thus a fortnight passed, and then the fever was 
decidedly wearing oflf, but returning at night. Kalliope 
still lay weak, languid, silent, fainting at any attempt 
to move her, not apparently able to think enough to 
ask how time passed, or to be uneasy about anything, 
simply accepting the cares given to her, and lying 
still. One morning, however, Alexis arrived in great 
distress to speak to Sir Jasper, not that his sister was 
worse, as he explained, but Eichard had been selling the 
house. The younger ones at home had never troubled 
themselves as to whose property the three houses in 



XX IVJNGHOE TERRACE 163 

Ivinghoe Terrace were. Perhaps Kalliope knew, but 
she could not be asked ; but the fact was that Captain 
White had been so lost sight of, that he had not 
known that this inheritance had fallen to him under 
the will of his grandfather, who was imbecile at the 
time of his flight. On his deathbed, the Captain had 
left the little he owned to his wife, and she had died 
intestate, as Eichard had ascertained before leaving 
home, so that he, as eldest son, was heir to the ground. 
He had written to Kalliope, a letter which Alexis had 
opened, informing her that he had arranged to sell 
the houses to a Mr. Gudgeon, letting to him their own 
till the completion of the legal business necessary, and 
therefore desiring his brothers and sisters to move out 
with their lodgers, if not by Lady Day itself, thus 
giving only a week's spare notice, at latest by Old 
Lady Day. 

* Is he not aware of your sister's state ? ' 
' I do not imagine that he has read the letter that 
I wrote to him. He was very much displeased with 
me, and somewhat disposed to be angry at my sister's 
fainting, and to think that we were all trying to work 
on his feelings. He used to be rather fond of Maura, 
so I told her to write to him ; but he has taken no 
notice, and he can have no conception of Kalliope's 
condition, or he would not have addressed his letter to 
heri I came to ask if you would kindly write to him 
how impossible it is to move her.* 

' You had better get a certificate from Dr. Dagger. 




i64 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

Either I or Lady Merrifield will meet him, and see to 
that. That will serve both to stay him and the 
purchaser.* 

' That is another misfortune. This Gudgeon is the 
chief officer, or whatever they call it, of the Salvation 
Army. I knew they had been looking out for a place 
for a barracks, and could not get one because almost 
everything belongs to Lord Eotherwood or to Mr. 
White.' 

Sir Jasper could only reply that he would see 
what could be done in the matter, and that, at any 
rate, Kalliope should not be disturbed. 

Accordingly Lady Merrifield repaired to Ivinghoe 
Terrace for the doctor's visit, and obtained from him 
the requisite certificate that the patient could not be 
removed at present. He gave it, saying, however, to 
Lady Merrifield's surprise, that though he did not 
think it would be possible to remove her in a week's 
time, yet after that he fully believed that she would 
have more chance of recovering favourably if she 
could be taken out of the small room and the warm 
atmosphere beneath the cliffs — ^though of course all 
must depend on her state at the time. 

Meantime there was a council of the gentlemen 
about out-bidding the Salvation Army. Lord Eother- 
wood was spending already as much as he could afford, 
in the days of agricultural depression, on the improve- 
ments planned with Mr. White. That individual was 
too good a man of business to fall, as he said, into the 



XX IVINGHGE TERRACE 165 

trap, and make a present to that scamp Eichard of 
more than the worth of the houses, and only Mr. Flight 
was ready to go to any cost to keep oflf the Salvation 
Army; but the answer was curt. Eichard knew he 
had no chance with Mr. White, and did not care to 
keep terms with him. 

' Mr. Eichard White begs to acknowledge the oblig- 
ing offer of the Eev. Augustine Flight, and regrets that 
arrangements have so far progressed with Mr. Gudgeon 
that he cannot avail himself of it.' 

Was this really regret or was the measure out of 
spite ? Only the widest charity could accept the 
former suggestion; and even Sir Jasper Merrifield's 
brief and gfevere letter and Dr. Dagger's certificate did 
not prevent a letter to Alexis, warning him not to 
'make their sister's illness a pretext for unreasonable 
delay. 

What was to be done ? Kalliope was still unfit to 
be consulted or even informed, and she had been 
hitherto so entirely the real head and manager of the 
family that Alexis did not like to make any decision 
without her ; and even the acceptance of the St. Wul- 
stan's choristership for Theodore had been put off for 
her to make it, look to his outfit, and all that only the 
wonian of the family could do for them. 

And here they were at a loss for a roof over their 
heads, and nowhere to bestow the battered old furni- 
ture, of which Eichard magnanimously renounced his 
sixth share ; while she who had hitherto toiled, thought. 



i66 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

managed, and contrived for all the other four, without 
care of their own, still lay on her bed, sensible indeed 
and no longer feverish, but with the perilous failure of 
heart, renewed by any kind of exertion or excitement, 
a sudden movement, or a startling sound in the street ; 
and Mrs. Halfpenny, guarding her as ferociously as 
ever, and looking capable of murdering any one of her 
substitutes if they durst hint a word of their perplexi- 
ties. Happily she asked no questions ; she was con- 
tent when allowed to be kissed by the others, and to 
see they were well. Nature was enforcing repose, and 
so far 'her senses was all as in a dream bound up.* 
Alexis remembered that it had been somewhat thus at 
Leeds, when, after nursing all the rest, she had suc- 
cumbed to the epidemic; but then the mother h^d 
been able to watch over her, and had been a more 
effective parent to the rest than she had since become. 

The first practical proposal was Mrs. Lee*s. They 
thought of reversing the present position, and taking a 
small house where their present hosts might become 
their lodgers. Moreover, Miss Mohun clenched the 
affair about Theodore, and overcame Alexis's scruples, 
while Lady Merrifield, having once or twice looked in, 
and been smiled at and thanked by Kalliope, undertook 
to prepare her for his farewell. 

Alexis and Maura both declared that she would 
instantly jump up, and want to begin looking over his 
socks ; but she got no further than — 

* Dear boy ! It is the sort of thing I always 



XX IVJNGHOE TERRACE 167 

wished for him. People are very good ! But his 
things ' 

* Oh yes, dearie, ye need not fash yourself. I've 
mended them as I sat by you, and packed them all. 
Lie stilL They are all right.' 

There was an atmosphere of the Eoyal Wardours 
about Mrs. Halfpenny, which was at once congenial 
and commanding ; and Kalliope's mind at once relin- 
quished the burthen of socks, shirts, and even the 
elbows of the outgrown jacket, nor did any of the 
family ever know how the deficiencies had been 
supplied. 

And when Theodore, well admonished, came softly 
and timidly for the parting kiss, his face quivering aU 
over with the effort at self-control, she lay and smiled; 
but with a great crystal tear on each dark eyelash, and 
her thin transparent fingers softly stroked his cheeks, 
as the low weak voice said — 

* Be a good boy, dear — speak truth. Praise God 
well. Write ; 111 write when I am better.' 

It was the first time she had spoken of being better, 
and they told Theodore to take comfort from it when 
all the other three walked him up to the station. 



CHAPTEE XXI 



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 



In the search for a new abode Mrs. Lee was in much 
difficulty, for it was needful to be near St. Kenelm's, 
and the only vacant houses within her means were not 
desirable for the reception of a feeble convalescent; 
moreover, Mr. Gudgeon grumbled and inquired, and 
was only withheld by warnings enhanced by the police 
from carrying the whole charivari of the Salvation 
Army along Ivinghoe Terrace on Sunday afternoon. 

Perhaps it was this, perhaps it was the fact of 
having discussed the situation with the two Miss 
Mohuns, that made Mr. Wliite say to Alexis, ' There 
* are two rooms ready for your sister, as soon as Dagger 
says she can be moved safely. The person who nurses 
her had better come with her, and you may as well 
come back to your old quarters.' 

Alexis could hardly believe his ears, but Mr. 
White waved off all thanks. The Mohun sisters were 
delighted and triumphant, and Jane came down to 
talk it over with her elder sister, auguring great things 
from that man who loved to deal in surprises. 



CHAP. XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 169 

' That is true,' said Sir Jasper. 

' What does that mean, Jasper V said his wife. ' It 
sounds significant' 

♦ I certainly shoidd not be amazed if he did further 
surprise us all. Has it never struck you how that 
noontide turn of AdeUne's corresponds with his walk 
home from the reading-room ?' 

Lady Merrifield looked rather startled, but Jane 
only laughed, and said, ' My dear Jasper, if you only 
knew Ada as well as I do ! Yes, I have seen far too 
many of those little affairs to be taken in by them. 
Poor Ada ! I know exactly how she looks, but she is 
only flattered, like a pussy-cat waggling the end of its 
tail — it means nothing, and never comes to anything. 
The thing that is likely and hopeful is, that he may 
adopt those young people as nephews and nieces.' 

' Might it not spoil them ?' said Lady Merrifield. 

' Oh ! I did not mean that. They might work with 
him still. However, there is no use in settling about 
that. The only thing to be expected of him is the 
unexpected !' 

' And the thing to be done,' added her sister, ' is to 
see how and when that poor girl can be got up to 
Cliff House.' 

To the general surprise. Dr. Dagger wished the 
transit to take place without loss of time. A certain 
look of resigned consternation crossed Kalliope's face 
on being informed of her destiny; but she justified 
Mrs. Halfpenny's commendation of her as the'maist 



1 70 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

douce and conformable patient in the world, for she 
had not energy enough even to plead against anything 
so formidable, and she had not yet been told that 
Ivinghoe Terrace was her home no longer. 

The next day she was wrapped in cloaks and 
carried downstairs between her brother and Mrs. Half- 
penny, laid on a mattress in the Merrifield waggonette, 
which went up the hill at a foot's pace, and by the 
same hands, with her old friend the caretaker's wife 
going before, was taken upstairs to a beautiful large 
room, with a window looking out on vernal sky and 
sea. She was too much exhausted on her arrival to 
know anything but the repose on the fresh comfortable 
bed, whose whiteness was almost rivalled by her cheek, 
and Mrs. Halfpenny ordered off Alexis^ who was 
watching her in great anxiety. However, when he 
came back after his afternoon's work, it was to find 
that she had eaten and slept, and now lay, with her 
eyes open, in quiet interested admiration of a spacious 
and pleasant bedroom, such as to be a great novelty 
to one whose life had been spent in cheap lodging- 
houses. The rooms had been furnished twenty years 
before as a surprise intended for the wife who never 
returned to occupy them, and though there was nothing 
extraordinary in them, there was much to content the 
eyes accustomed to something very like squalidness, for 
had not Kalliope's lot always been the least desirable 
chamber in the family quarters ? 

At any rate, from that moment she began to recover. 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 171 

ate with appetite, slept and woke to be interested, 
and to enjoy Theodore's letter of description of St. 
Wulstan's, and even to ask questions. Alexis was 
ready to dance for joy when she first began really to 
talk to him; and could not forbear imparting his 
gladness to the Miss Mohuns that very evening, as 
well as to Mr. White ; and running down after dinner 
with the good news to Maura, Mrs. Lee, and Lady 
Merrifield. Dinners with Mr. White had, on his first 
sojourn in that house, been a great penance, though 
there were no supercilious servants, for all the waiting 
was by the familiar housekeeper, Mrs. Osborne, who 
had merely added an underling to her establishment 
on her master's return; but Alexis then had been 
utterly miserable, feeling guilty and ashamed, as one 
only endured on sufferance out of compassion, because 
his brother cast him out, and fresh from the sight of 
his mother's dying bed ; a terrible experience altogether, 
which had entirely burnt out and effaced his foolish fit 
of romantic calf-love, and rendered him much more of 
a man. Now, though not a month had passed, he 
seemed to be on a different footing. He was doing 
his work steadily, and the hope of his sister's recovery 
had brightened him. Mr. White had begun to talk to 
him, to ask him questions about the doings of the day, 
and to tell him in return some of his own experiences 
in Italy, and in the earlier days of the town. Maura 
came up to see her sister every day, and trauquillised 
her mind when the move was explained, and anxiety 



172 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

as to the transport of all their worldly goods began to 
set in. Mrs. Lee had found a house where she could 
place two bedrooms and a sitting-room at the disposal 
of the Whites if things were to continue as before, 
and no hint had been given of any change, or of what 
was to happen when the three months' notice given to 
Kalliope and Alexis should have expired. 

By the Easter holidays Mrs. Halfpenny began to 
get rather restless as to the overlooking of the boys* 
wardrobes; and, indeed, she thought so well of her 
patient's progress as to suggest to Mr. White that the 
lassie would do very well if she had her sister to be 
with her in the holidays, and she herself would come 
up every day to help at the getting up, for Kalliope 
was now able to be dressed and to lie on a couch in 
the dressing-room, where she could look out over the 
bay, and she had even asked for some knitting. 

'And really. Miss Gillian, you could not do her 
much harm if you came up to see her,' said the despot. 
* So you may come this very afternoon, if ye'll be douce, 
and not fash her with any of your cantrips.' 

Gillian did not feel at all in a mood for cantrips as 
she slowly walked up the broad staircase, and was 
ushered into the dressing-room, cheerful with bright 
fire and April sunshine, and with a large comfortable 
sofa covered with a bright rug, where Kalliope could 
enjoy both window and fire without glare. The beauty 
of her face so much depended on form and expression 
that her illness had not lessened it. Gillian had 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 173 

scarcely seen her since the autumn, and the first feeling 
was what an air of rest and peace had succeeded the 
worn, harassed look then almost perpetual. There was 
a calmness now that far better suited the noble forehead, 
dark pencilled eyebrows, and classical features in their 
clear paleness ; and with a sort of reverence Gillian bent 
over her, to kiss her and give her a bunch of violets. 
Then, when the thanks had passed, Gillian relieved her 
own shyness by exclaiming with admiration at a beautiful 
water-coloured copy of an early Italian fresco, combining 
the Nativity and Adoration of the Magi, that hung 
over the mantelpiece. 

' Is it not exquisite ? ' returned Kalliope. ' I do so 
much enjoy making out each head and dwelling on 
them ! Look at that old shepherd's simple wonder 
and reverence, and the little child with the lamb, and 
the contrast with the Wise Man from the East, whose 
eyes look as if he saw so much by faith.' 

' Can you see it from there ? ' asked Gillian, who 
had got up to look at these and further details dwelt 
on by Kalliope. 

' Yes. Not at first ; but they come out on me by 
degrees. It is such a pleasure, and so kind of Mr. 
White to have put it there. He had it hung there, 
Mrs. Halfpenny told me, instead of his own picture 
just before I came in here.' 

' Well, he is not a bad-looking man ; but it is no 
harm to him or his portrait to say that this is better 
to look at ! ' 



174 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

* It quite does me good ! And see/ pointing to a 
photograph of the Arch of Titus hung on the screen 
that shielded her from the door, ' he sends in a fresh 
one by Alexis every other day/ 

' How very nice ! He really seems to be a dear old 
man. Don't you think so ? ' 

*I am sure he is wonderfully kind; but I have 
only seen him that once when he came with Sir Jasper, 
and then I knew nothing but that when Sir Jasper 
was come things must go right.' 

' Of course ; but has he never been to see you now 
that you are up and dressed ? ' 

' No ; he lavishes anything on me that I can 
possibly want ; but I have only seen him once — never 
here/ 

' It is like Beauty and the Beast ! ' 

* Oh no, no ; don't say that ! ' 

'WeU, George Stebbing really taught Fergus to 
call him a beast, and you — Kally — I won't tease you 
with saying what you are.' 

' I wish I wasn't ; it would be all so much easier.' 

' Never mind ! I do believe the Stebbings are going 
away ! Does Maura never see him ?' 

' She has met him on the stairs and in the garden ; 
but she has her meals here. I trust by the time her 
Easter holidays are over I may be fit to go back with 
her. But I do hope I may be able to copy a bit of 
that picture first, though, any way, I can never 
forget it.' 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 175 

' To go on as before ? ' exclaimed Gillian, with an 
interrogative sigh of wonder. 

* If that notice of dismissal can be revoked/ said 
Kalliope. . 

' But would you like it — ^must you ? ' 

* I should like to go back to my girls/ said Kalliope ; 

* and things come into my head, now I am doing noth- 
ing, that I want to work out, if I might. So, you see, 
it is not at all a pity that I mud! 

'And why is it must?' said Gillian wistfully. 

* You have to get well first.* 

* Yes, I know that ; but, you see, there are Maura 
and Petros. They must not be thrown on Alexis, 
poor dear fellow ! And if he could only be set free, 
he might go on with what he once hoped for, though 
he thinks it is his duty to give all that entirely up 
now and work obediently on. But I know the long- 
ing will revive, and if I only could improve myself, 
and be worth more, it might still be possible.' 

* Only you must not begin too soon and work your- 
self to death.' 

' Hardly after such a rest,' said Kalliope. ' It is 
not work I mind, but worry ' — and then a sadder look 
crossed her for a moment, and she added, ' I am so 
thankfuL' 

' Thankful ! ' echoed GiUian. 

' Yes, indeed ! For Sir Jasper's coming and saving 
us at that dreadful moment, and my being able to keep 
^ip as long as dear mamma wanted me ; and then Mrs. 



176 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

Halfpenny being spared by dear Lady Merrifield to 
give me such wonderful care and kindness, and little 
Theodore being so happily placed, and this rest — ^such 
a strange quiet rest as I never knew before. Oh ! it 
is all so thankworthy ' — and the great tears came to 
dim her eyes. 'It seems sent to help me to take 
strength and courage for the future. " He hath helped 
me hitherto." ' 

' And you are better ? ' 

* Yes, much better. Quite comfortable as long as I 
am quite still.' 

' And content to be still ? ' 

' Yes, I'm very lazy.' 

It was a tired voice, and Gillian feared her half- 
hour was nearly over, but she could not help saying — 

' Do you know, I think it will be all nicer now. 
Mr. White is doing so much, and Mr. Stebbing hates 
it so, that Mrs. Stebbing says he is going to dissolve 
the partnership and go away.' 

' Then it would all be easier. It seems too good to 
be true.* 

' And that man Mr. White. He must do something 
for you ! He ought.' 

' Oh no ! He has done a great deal already, and 
has not been well used. Don't talk of that.' 

*I believe he is awfully rich. You know he is 
building an Institute for the workmen, and a whole 
row of model cottages.' 

' Yes, Alexis told me. What a difference it will 



/ 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 177 

make ! I hope he will build a room where the girls 
can dine and rest and read, or have a piano ; it would 
be so good for them/ 

'You had better talk to him about it/ 
' 1 never see him, and I should not dare/ 
' 1*11 tell my aunts. He always does what Aunt 
Ada tells him. Is that really all you wish ? ' 

' Oh ! I don't wish for anything much — I don't 
seem able to care now dear mamma is where they cease 
from troubling, and I have Alec again.' 

'Well, I can't help having great hopes. I can't 
see why that man should not make a daughter of you ! 
Then you would travel and see mountains and pictures 
and everything. Oh, should you not like that ? ' 

' Like ? Oh, one does not think about liking things 
impossible ! And for the rest, it is nonsense. I should 
not like to be dependent, and I ought not/ 
' You don't think what is to come next V 
' No ; it would be taking thought for the morrow, 
would it not ? I don't want to, while I can't do any- 
thing ; it would only make me fret, and I am glad I 
am too stupid still to begin vexing myself over it. I 
suppose energy and power of considering will come 
when my heart does not flutter so. In the meantime, 
I only want to keep quiet, and I hope that's not all 
laziness, but some trust in Him who has helped me all 
this time.' 

' Miss Gillian, you've clavered as long as is good 
for Miss White, and here are the whole clanjamfrie 

VOL. II N 



178 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

waiting in the road for you. Now be douce, my baim, 
and mind you are not in the woods at home, and don't 
let the laddies play their tricks with Miss Primrosa' 

' I must go,' said Gillian, hastily kissing Kalliope. 
' The others were going to call for me. When Lady 
Phyllis was riding with her father she spied a wonderful 
field of daffodils and a valley full of moss at a place 
called Clipston, two miles off, and we are all going to 
get some for the decorations. I'll send you some. 
Good-bye.' 

The clanjamfrie, as Mrs. Halfpenny called it, 
mustered strong, and Gillian's heart leapt at the re- 
sumption of the tumultuous family life, as she beheld 
the collection of girls, boys, dogs, and donkeys awaiting 
her in the approach ; and, in spite of the two gover- 
nesses' presence, her mind misgave her as to the likeli- 
hood of regard to the hint that her mother had given 
that she hoped the elder ones would try to be sober in 
their ways, and not quite forget what week it was. It 
was in their favour that Jasper, now in his last term at 
school, was much more of a man and less of a boy than 
hitherto, and was likely to be on the side of discretion, 
so that he might keep in order that alway difficult 
element, Wilfred, whose two years of preparatory school 
as yet made him only more ingenious in the arts of 
teasing, and more determined to show his superiority 
to petticoat government. He had driven Fergus nearly 
distracted by threatening to use all his mineralogical 
specimens to make ducks and drakes, and actually con- 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 179 

fusing them together, so that Fergus repented of having 
exhibited them, and rejoiced that Aunt Jane had let 
them continue in her lumber-room till they could find 
a permanent home. 

Wilfred had a shot for Mrs. Halfpenny, when she 
came down with Gillian and looked for Primrose to 
secure that there were no interstices between the silk 
handkerchief and fur collar. 

' Ha, ha, old Small Change, don't you wish you may 
get it ? ' — as Primrose proved to be outside the drive 
on one of the donkeys. ' YouVe got nothing to do but 
gnaw your fists at us like old Giant Pope.' 

' For shame, Wilfred ! ' said Jasper. ' My mother 
did Primrose's throat, nurse, so she is all right' 

' Bad form,' observed Lord Ivinghoe, shaking his 
head. 

' I'm not going to Eton,' replied Wilfred audaciously. 

' I should hope not ! ' — in a tone of ineSable con- 
tempt, not for Wilfred's person, but his manners, and 
therewith his Lordship exclaimed ' Who's that ? ' as 
Maura came flying down with Gillian's forgotten 
basket. 

' Oh, that's Maura White ! ' said Valetta. 

' I say, isn't she going with us ? ' 

' Oh no, she has to look after her sister ! ' 

' Don't you think we might take her. Gill ? ' said 
Fly. ' She never gets any fun.' 

* I don't think she ought to leave Kalliope to-day. 
Fly, for nurse is going down to II Lido ; and besides, 



i8o BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

Aunt Jane said we must not take all Kockquay with 



us/ 



' No ; they would not let us ask Kitty and Clement 
Varley/ said Fergus disconsolately. 

'I am sure she is five times as pretty as your 
Kitty ! ' returned Ivinghoe. * She is a regular stunner/ 
Whereby it may be perceived that a year at Eton had 
considerably modified his Lordship's correctness of 
speech, if not of demeanour. 

Be it further observed that, in spite of the escort 
of the governesses, the young people were as free as if 
those ladies had been absent, for, as Jasper observed, 
the donkeys neutralised them. Miss Elbury, being a 
bad walker, rode one, and Miss Vincent felt bound to 
keep close to Primrose upon the other ; and as neither 
animal could be prevailed on to moderate its pace, 
they kept far ahead of all except Valetta, who was 
mounted on the pony intended for Lady Phyllis, but 
disdained by her until she should be tired. Lord 
Ivinghoe's admiration of Maura was received con- 
temptuously by Wilfred, who was half a year younger 
than his cousin, and being already, in his own estima- 
tion, a Wykehamist, had endless rivalries with him. 

* She 1 She's nothing but a cad ! Her sister is 
a shop-girl, and her brother is a quarryman.' 

'She does not look like it,' observed Ivinghoe, 
while Mysie and Fly, with one voice, exclaimed that 
her father was an officer in the Eoyal Wardours. 

' A private first,* said Wilfred, with boyhood's re- 



XXI . BEJtV.TY AND THE BEAST i8i 



/ . 



iteration. ' Cads and quarrymen all of them — the 
whole boiling, old White and all, though he has got 
such a stuck-up house ! ' 

' Nonsense, Will,' said Fly. ' Why, Mr. White has 
dined with us/ 

' A patent of nobility,' said Jasper, smiling. 

' I don't care,' said Wilfred ; ' if other people choose 
to chum with old stonemasons and convicts, I don't.' 

' Wilfred, that is too bad,' said Gillian. ' It is very 
wrong to talk in that way.' 

* Oh ! ' said the audacious Wilfred, ' we all know 
who is Gill's Jack ! ' 

' Shut up. Will ! ' cried Fergus, fljdng at him. ' I 
told you not to ' 

But Wilfred bounded up a steep bank, and from 
that place of vantage went on — 

* Didn't she teach him Greek, and wasn't he spoony ; 
and didn't she send back his valentine, so that ' 

Fergus was scrambling up the bank after him, 
enraged at the betrayal of his confidence, and shout- 
ing inarticulately, while poor Gillian moved on, over- 
whelmed with confusion, and Fly uttered the cutting 
words, ' Perfectly disgusting ! ' 

' Ay, so it was ! ' cried the unabashed Wilfred, 
keeping on at the top of the bank, and shaking the 
bushes at every pause. ' So he broke down the rocks, 
and ran away with the tin, and enlisted, and went to 
prison. Such a sweet young man for Gill ! ' 

Poor Gillian ! was her punishment never to end ? 



i82 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

That scrape of hers, hitherto so tenderly and delicately 
hinted at, and which she would have given worlds to 
have kept from her brothers, now shouted all over the 
country ! Sympathy, however, she had, if that would 
do her any good. Mysie and Fly came on each side 
of Ivinghoe, assuring him, in low eager voices, of the 
utter nonsense of the charge, and explaining ardently ; 
and Jasper, with one bound, laid hold of the tormentor, 
dragged him down, and, holding his stick over him, 
said — 

' Now, Wilfred, if you don't hold your tongue, and 
not behave like a brute, I shall send you straight 
home.' 

' It's quite true,^ growled Wilfred. ' Ask her.' 

* What does that signify ? I'm ashamed of you ! 
I've a great mind to thrash you this instant. If you 
speak another word of that sort, I shall. Now then, 
there are the governesses trying to stop to see what's 
the row. I shall give you up to Miss Vincent, if you 
choose to behave so like a spitefid girl.' 

A sixth-form youth was far too great a man to be 
withstood by one who was not yet a public schoolboy 
at all; and Wilfred actually obeyed, while Jasper 
added to Fergus — 

' How could you be such a little ass as to go and 
tell him all that rot ? ' 

' It was true,' grumbled Fergus. 

' The more reason not to go cackling about it like 
an old hen, or a girl 1 Your own sister 1 I'm ashamed 



"Jf 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 183 

of you both. Mind, I shall thrash you if you mention 
it again/ 

Poor Fergus felt the accusation of cackling unjust, 
since he had only told Wilfred in confidence, and that 
had been betrayed; but he had got his lesson on 
family honour, and he subsided into his wonted look- 
out for curious stones, while Gillian was overtaken by 
Jasper — whether . willingly or not, she hardly knew — 
but his first word was, * Little beast ! ' 

* You didn't hurt him, I hope,' said Gill, accepting 
the invitation to take his arm. 

' Oh no ! I only threatened to make him walk 
with the governesses and the donkeys.' 

'Asses and savants to the centre,' said Gillian; 
' like the orders to the French army in Egypt.' 

* But what's all this about ? You wanted me to 
look after you ! Is it that Alexis ?' 

* Oh, Japs ! Mamma knows all about it and papa. 
It was only that he was ridiculous because I was so 
silly as to think I could help him with his Greek.' 

' You ! With his Greek ! I pity him !' 

' Yes. I found he soon knew too much for me,' 
said Gillian meekly ; ' but, indeed, Japs, it wasn't very 
bad ! He only sent me a valentine, and Aunt Jane 
says I need not have been so augry.' 

' A cat may look at a king,' said Jasper loftily. ' It 
is a horrid bad thing for a girl to be left to herself 
without a brother worth having.' 

So Gillian got off pretty easily, and after all the 



i84 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

walk was not greatly spoilt. They coalesced again 
with the other three, who were tolerably discreet, and 
found the debate on the White gentility had been 
resumed. Ivinghoe was philosophicaUy declaring 'that 
in these days one must take up with everybody, so it 
did not matter if one was a little more of a cad than 
another ; he himself was fag at Eton to a fellow whose 
father was an oilman, and who wasn't half a bad lot.' 

' An oilman, Ivy,' said his sister ; ' I thought he 
imported petroleum.' 

* Well, it's all the same. I believe he began as an 
oilman.' 

' We shall have Fergus reporting that he's a petro- 
leuse,' put in Jasper. 

' No, a petroleuse is a woman.' 

'I like Mr. White,' said Fly; 'but, Gillian, you 
don't think it is true that he is going to marry your 
Aunt Jane?' 

There was a great groan, and Japs observed — 

' Some one told us Eockquay was a hotbed of gossip, 
and we seem to have got it strong.' 

'Where did this choice specimen come from. Fly?' 
demanded Ivinghoe, in his manner most like his 
mother. 

Fly nodded her head towards her governess in the 
advanced guard. 

' She had a cousin to tea with her, and they thought 
I didn't know whom they meant, and they said that he 
was always up at Eockstone.' 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 185 

' Well, he is ; and Aunt Jane always stands up for 
him/ said Gillian ; ' but that was because he is so good 
to the workpeople, and Aunt Ada took him for some 
grand political friend of Cousin Rotherwood's/ 

'Aunt Jane !' said Jasper. 'Why, she is the very 
essence and epitome of old maids.' 

' Yes,' said Gillian. ' If it came to that, she would 
quite as soon marry the postman.' 

' That's lucky,' said Ivinghoe. ' One can swallow a 
good deal, but not quite one's own connections.' 

' In fact,' said Jasper, ' you had rather be an oilman's 
fag than a quarryman's — what is it ? — first cousin once 
removed in law ?' 

'It is much more likely,' said Gillian, as they 
laughed over this, ' that Kalliope and Maura will be 
his adopted daughters, only he never comes near them.' 

Wherewith there was a halt. Miss Elbury insisted 
that Phyllis should ride, the banks began to show 
promise of flowers, and, in the search for violets, 
dangerous topics were forgotten, and Wilfred was for- 
given. They reached the spot marked by Fly, a field 
with a border of sloping broken ground and brushwood, 
which certainly fulfilled all their desires, steeply de- 
scending to a stream full of rocks, the ground white 
with wood anemones, long evergreen trails of peri- 
winkles and blue flowers between, primroses clustering 
under the roots of the trees, daffodils gilding the grass 
above, and the banks verdant with exquisite feather- 
moss. Such a spring-tide wood was joy to all, especi- 



i86 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

ally as the first cuckoo of the season came to add to 
their delights and set them counting for the augury of 
happy years, which proved so many that Mysie said 
they would not know what to do with them. 

' I should/ said Ivinghoe. ' I should like to live 
to be a great old statesman, as Lord Palmerston did, 
and have it all my own way. Wouldn't I bring things 
round again !* 

' Perhaps they would have gone too far,' suggested 
Jasper ; ' and then you would have to gnaw your hand 
like Giant Pope, as Wilfred says.' 

' Catch me, while I could do something better.' 

* If one only lived long enough,' speculated Fergus, 
' one might find out what everything was made of, and 
how to do everything.' 

' I wonder if the people did before the Flood, when 
they lived eight or nine hundred years,' said Fly. 

' Perhaps that is the reason there is nothing new 
under the sun,' suggested Valetta, as many a child has 
before suggested. 

' But then,* said Mysie, ' they got wicked.' 

' And then after the Flood it had all to be begun 
over again,' said Ivinghoe. 'Let me see, Methuselah 
lived about as long as from William the Conqueror till 
now. I think he might have got to steam and elec- 
tricity.' 

' And dynamite,' said Gillian. ' Oh, I don't wonder 
they had to be swept away, if they were clever and 
wicked both !' 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 187 

' And I suppose they were/ said Jasper. ' At least 
the giants, and that they handed on some of their 
ability through Ham, to the Egyptians, and all those 
queer primeval coons, whose works we are digging 
up.* 

'From the Conquest till now,' repeated Gillian. 
* I'm glad we don't live so long now. It tires one to 
think of it.' 

' But we shall,' said Fly. 

' Yes,' said Mysie ; ' but then we shall be rid of 
this nasty old self that is always getting wrong.' 

' That little lady's nasty old self does so as little 
as any one's,' Jasper could not help remarking to his 
sister; and Fly, pouncing on the first purple orchis 
spike amid its black-spotted leaves, cried — 

'At any rate, these dear things go on the same, 
without any tiresome inventing.' 

' Except God's just at first,' whispered Mysie. 

'And the gardeners do invent new ones,' said 
Valetta. 

' Invent ! No ; they only fuss them and spoil them, 
and make ridiculous names for them,' said Fly. ' These 
darling creatures are ever so much better. Look at 
Primrose there.' 

'Yes,' said Gillian, as she saw her little sister in 
quiet ecstasy over the sparkling bells of the daffodils ; 
' one would not like to live eight hundred years away 
from that experience.' 

' But mamma cares just as much still as Primrose 



1 88 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

does/ said Mysie. 'We must get some for her own 
self as well as for the church.' 

' Mine are all for mamma/ proclaimed Primrose ; 
and just then there was a shout that a bird's nest had 
been found — a ring-ousers nest on the banks. Fly 
and her brother shared a collection of birds' eggs, and 
were so excited about robbing the ousels of a single 
egg, that Gillian hoped that Fergus would not catch 
the infection and abandon minerals for eggs, which 
would be ever so much worse — only a degree better 
than butterflies, towards which Wilfred showed a 
certain proclivity. 

'I shall be thirteen before next holidays/ he 
observed, after making a vain dash with his hat at a 
sulphur butterfly, looking like a primrose flying away. 

'Mamma won't allow any hUliiig collection before 
thirteen years old/ explained Mysie. 

'She says/ explained Gillian, 'by that time one 
ought to be old enough to discriminate between the 
lawfulness of killing the creatures for the sake of 
studying their beauty and learning them, and the 
mere wanton amusement of hunting them down under 
the excuse of collecting.' 

' I say,' exclaimed Valetta, who had been exploring 
above, * here is such a funny old house.' 

There was a rush in that direction, and at the other 
end of the wide home-field was perceived a picturesque 
gray stone house, with large mullioned windows, a 
dilapidated low stone wall, with what had once been 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 189 

a handsome gateway, overgrown with ivy, and within 
big double daffodils and white narcissus growing 
wild. 

' It*s like the halls of Ivor,' said Mysie, awestruck 
by the loneliness ; * no dog, nor horse, nor cow, not even 
a goose/ 

' And what a place to sketch !' cried Miss Vincent. 
' Oh, Gillian, we must come here another day.' 

'Oh, may we gather the flowers?' exclaimed the 
insatiable Primrose. 

* Those poetic narcissuses would be delicious for the 
choir screen,' added Gillian. 

' Poetic narcissus — poetic grandmother,' said Wilfred. 
' It's old butter and eggs.' 

' I say r cried Mysie. ' Look, Ivy — I know that 
pair of fighting lions — ain't these some of your arms 
over the door V 

' By which you mean a quartering of our shield,' 
said Ivinghoe. 'Of course it is the Clipp bearing. 
Or, two lions azure, regardant combatant, their tails 
couped.' 

'Two blue Kilkenny cats, who have begun with 
each other's tails,' commented Jasper. 

Ivinghoe glared a little, but respected the sixth 
form, and Gillian added — 

' They clipped them 1 Then did this place belong 
to our ancestors ?* 

'Poetic grandmother, really !' said Mysie. 

'Great grandmother,' corrected Ivinghoe. 'To be 



190 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

sure. It was from the Clipps that we got all this 
Eockstone estate !' 

' And I suppose this was their house ? What a 
shame to have deserted it !* 

* Oh, it has been a farmhouse/ said Fly. ' I heard 
something about farms that wouldn't let.' 

'Then is it yours?' cried Valetta, 'and may we 
gather the flowers V 

' And mayn't we explore V asked Mysie. ' Oh, 
what fun !' 

* Holloa !' exclaimed Wilfred, transfixed, as if he 
had seen the ghosts of all the Clipps. For just as 
Valetta and Mysie threw themselves on the big bunches 
of hepatica and the white narcissus, a roar, worthy of 
the clip-tailed lions, proceeded from the window, and 
the demand, ' Who is picking my roses V 

Primrose in terror threw herself on Gillian with a 
little scream. Wilfred crept behind the walls, but 
after the general start there was an equally universal 
laugh, for between the stout muUions of the oriel 
window Lord Eotherwood's face was seen, and Sir 
Jasper's beliind him. 

Great was the jubilation, and there was a rush to 
the tall door, up the dilapidated steps, where curls of 
fern were peeping out ; but the gentlemen called out 
that only the back-door could be opened, and the 
intention of a ' real grand exploration ' was cut short 
by Miss Elbury's declaring that she was bound not to 
let Phyllis stay out till six o'clock. 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 191 

Fly, in her usual good-humoured way, suppressed 
her sighs and begged the others to explore without 
her, but the general vote declared this to be out of 
the question. Fly had too short a time to remain 
with her cousins to be forsaken even for the charms 
of 'the halls of Ivor,' or the rival Beast's Castle, as 
Gillian called it, which, after all, would not run 
away. 

' But it might be let,' said Mysie. 

' Yes ; I've got a tenant in agitation,' said Lord 
Rotherwood mischievously. ' Never mind, I dare say 
he won't inquire what you have done with his butter 
and eggs.' 

So with a parting salute to the ancestral halls, the 
cavalry was set in order, big panniers full of moss and 
flowers disposed on the donkeys, Fly placed on her 
pony, and every maiden taking her basket of flowers, 
Jasper and Ivinghoe alone being amiable, or perhaps 
trustworthy enough to assist in carrying. Fly's pony 
demurred to the extra burthen, so Jasper took hers ; 
and when Gillian declared herself too fond of her 
flowers to part with them, Ivinghoe astonished Miss 
Vincent, on whom some stones of Fergus's, as well as 
her own share of flowers, had been bestowed, by taking 
one handle of her most cumbrous basket. 

Sir Jasper and Lord Eotherwood rode together 
through the happy young troop on the homeward way. 
Perhaps Ivinghoe was conscious of a special nod of 
approval from his father. 



■^1 



192 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

On passing Eock House, the youthful public was 
rather amused at his pausing, and saying — 

' Aren't you going to leave some flowers there ? ' 

* Oh yes !' said Gillian. ' I have a basket on purpose.' 

' And I have some for Maura,' said Valetta. 

Valetta's was an untidy bunch ; Gillian's a dainty 
basket, where white violets reposed on moss within a 
circle of larger blossoms. 

' That's something like ! ' quoth Ivinghoe. 

He lingered with them as if he wanted to see that 
vision again; but only the caretaker appeared, and 
promised to take the flowers upstairs. 

Maura afterwards told how they were enjoyed, and 
they knew of Kalliope's calm restfulness in Holy Week 
thoughts and Paschal joys. 

It was on Easter Tuesday that Mr. White first sent 
a message asking to see his guest, now of nearly three 
weeks. 

He came in very quietly and gently — perhaps the 
sight of the room he had prepared for his young wife 
was in itself a shock to him, and he had lived so long 
without womankind that he had aU a lonely man's awe 
of an invalid. He took with a certain respect the hand 
that Kalliope held out, as she said, with a faint flush 
in her cheeks — 

' I am glad to thank you, sir. You have been very 
good to me.' 

' I am glad to see you better,' he said, with a little 
embarrassment. 



V, 



\r 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 193 

* I ought to be, in this beautiful air, and with these 
lovely things to look at,' and she pointed to the 
reigning photograph on the stand — the facade of St 
Mark's. 

' You should see it as I did.' And he began to 
describe it to her, she putting in a question or two 
here and there, which showed her appreciation. 

' You know something about it already,' he said. 

' Yes ; when I was quite a little girl one of the 
officers in the Eoyal Wardours brought some photo- 
graphs to Malta, and told me about them.' 

' But,' he said, recalling himself, ' that is not my 
object now. Your brother says he does not feel com- 
petent to decide without you.' And he laid before her 
two or three prospectuses of grammar schools. ' It is 
time to apply,' he added, 'if that little fellow — 
Peter, you call him, don't you ? — is to begin next 
term.' 

' Petros ! Oh, sir, this is kindness ! ' 

' I desired that the children's education should be 
attended to,' said Mr. White. ' I did not intend their 
being sent to an ordinary National school.' 

' Indeed,' said Kalliope ; ' I do not think much time 

has been lost, for they have learnt a good deal there ; 

but I am particularly glad that Petros should go to a 

superior school just now that he has been left alone, 

for he is more lively and sociable than Theodore, 

and it might be less easy for him to keep from bad 

companions.' 

VOL. n 



194 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

The pros and cons of the several schools were dis- 
cussed, and Hurstpierpoint finally fixed on. 

'Never mind about his outfit/ added Mr. White. 
' I'll give that fellow down in Bellevue an order to rig 
him out. He is a sharp little sturdy fellow, who will 
make his way in the world.' 

'Indeed, I trust so, now that his education is 
secured. It is another load off my mind,' said 
Kalliope, with a smile of exceeding sweetness and 
gratitude, her hands clasped, and her eyes raised for 
a moment in higher thankfulness, — a look that so 
enhanced her beauty that Mr. White gazed for a 
moment in wonder. The next' moment, however, the 
dark eyes turned on him with a little anxiety, and 
she said — 

' One thing more, sir. Perhaps you wiU be so kind 
as. to relieve my mind again. That notice of dismissal 
at the quarter's end. Was it not in some degree from 
a mistake ? ' 

*An utter mistake, my dear,' he said hastily. 
' Never trouble your head about it' 

' Then it does not hold ? ' 

' Certainly not.' 

' And I may go back to my office as soon as I am 
well enough ? ' 

' Is that your wish ? ' 

* Yes, sir. I love my work and my assistants, and 
I think I could do better if a little more scope could 
be allowed me.' 



1 ^ 



XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 195 

' Very well, we will see about that — you have to 
get well first of all/ 

' I am so much better that I ought to go home. 
Mr. Lee is quite ready for me.' 

' Nonsense ! You must be much stronger before 
Dagger would hear of your going.' 

After this Mr. White came to sit with Kalliope for 
a time in the course of each day, bringing with him 
something that would interest her, and seeming gratified 
by her responsiveness, quiet as it was, for she was still 
very feeble, and exertion caused a failure of breath and 
fluttering of heart that were so distressing that ten days 
more passed before she was brought downstairs and 
drawn out in the garden in a chair, where she could 
sit on the sheltered terrace enjoying the delicious 
spring air and soft sea-breezes, sometimes alone, some- 
times with the company of one friend or another. 
Gillian and Aunt Jane had, with the full connivance 
of Mr. White, arranged a temporary entrance from one 
garden to the other for the convenience of attending to 
Kalliope, and here one afternoon Miss Mohun was 
coming in when she heard through the laurels two 
voices speaking to the girL As she moved forward 
she saw they were the elder and younger Stebbings, 
and that Kalliope had risen to her feet, and was leaning 
on the back of her chair. While she was considering 
whether to advance Kalliope heard her, and called in 
a breathless voice, 'Miss Mohun! Oh, Miss Mohun, 
come ! ' 



196 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 



* Miss Mohun ! You will do us the justice- 



began Mr. Stebbing, speaking more to her indignant 
face and gesture than to any words. 

'Miss White is not well/ she said. 'You had 
better leave her to me.' 

And as they withdrew through the house, KaUiope 
sank back in her chair in one of those alarming attacks 
of deadly faintness that had been averted for many 
days past. Happily an electric bell was always at 
hand, and the housekeeper knew what remedies to 
bring. Kalliope did not attempt a word for many 
long minutes, though the colour came back gradually 
to her lips. Her first words were, * Thank you ! Oh, 
I did hope that persecution was over !' 

' My poor child ! Don't tell me unless you like ! 
Only — ^it wasn't about your work ?' 

' Oh no, the old story ! But he brought his father 
— to say he consented — and wished it — now.' 

There was no letting her say any more at that time, 
but it was all plain enough. This had been one more 
attempt of the Stebbing family to recover their former 
power; Kalliope was assumed to be Mr. White's 
favoured niece ; Frank could make capital of having 
loved her when poor and neglected ; and his parents 
were ready to back his suit. The father and son had 
used their familiarity with the house to obtain admit- 
tance to the garden without announcement or prepara- 
tion, and had pressed the siege, with a confidence that 
could only be inspired by their own self- opinion. 



XXI BE A UTY AND THE BEAST I97 

Kalliope had been kept up by her native dignity 
and resolution, and had at first gently, then firmly, 
declined the arguments, persuasions, promises, and final 
reproaches with which they beset her- — even threaten- 
ing to disclose what they called encouragement, and 
assuring her that she need not reckon on Mr. White, 
for the general voice declared him likely to marry 
again, and then where would she be ? 

' I don't know what Would have become of me, if 
you had not come,' she said. 

And when she had rested long enough, and crept 
into the house, and Alexis had come home to carry her 
upstairs, it was plain that she had been seriously thrown 
back, and she was not able to leave her room for two 
or three days. 

Mr. White was necessarily told what had been the 
cause of the mischief. He smiled grimly. ' Ay ! ay ! 
Master Frank thought he would come round the old 
man, did he ? He will find himself out. Ha, ha ! a 
girl like that in the house is like a honey-pot near a 
wasps' nest, and the little sister will be as bad. Didn't 
I see the young lord, smart little prig as he looks, 
holding an umbrella over her with a smile on his face, 
as much as to say, " I know who is a pretty girl ! No 
one to look after them either !" But maybe they will 
all find themselves mistaken,' and his grim smile relaxed 
into a highly amiable one. 

Miss Mohun was not at all uneasy as to the young 
lord. An Eton boy's admiration of a pretty face did 



198 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap, xxi 

not amount to much, even if Ivinghoe had not under- 
stood ' Noblesse oblige ' too well to leave a young girl 
unsheltered. Besides, he and all the rest were going 
away the next day. But what did that final hint 
mean? 



CHAPTEE XXII 

THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 

One secret was soon out, even before the cruel parting 
of Fly and Mysie, which it greatly mitigated. 

Clipston was to be repaired and put in order, to 
be rented by the Merrifields. It was really a fine old 
substantial squire's house, though neglected and con- 
signed to farmers for four generations. It had great 
capabilities — a hall up to the roof, wainscoted rooms 
— at present happy hunting-grounds to boys and 
terriers — a choked fountain, numerous windows, walled 
up in the days of the * tax on light,' and never reopened, 
and, moreover, a big stone barn, with a cross on the 
gable, and evident traces of having once been a 
chapeL 

The place was actually in Eockstone Parish, and 
had a hamlet of six or seven houses, for which cottage 
services were held once a week ; but the restoration of 
the chapel would provide a place for these, and it 
would become a province for Lady Merrifield's care, 
while Sir Jasper was absolutely entreated, both by 
Lord Eotherwood and the rector of Eockstone, to 



200 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

become the valuable lajanan of the parish; nor was 
he at all unwilling thus to bestow his enforced 
leisure. 

It was a beautiful place. The valley of daffodils 
already visited narrowed into a ravine, where the 
rivulet rushed down from moorlands, through a ravine 
charmingly wooded, and interspersed with rock. It 
would give country delights to the children, and 
remove them from the gossip of the watering-place 
society, and yet not be too far off for those reading- 
room opportunities beloved of gentlemen. 

The young people were in ecstasies, only mourning 
that they could not live there during the repairs, and 
that those experienced in the nature of workmen hesi- 
tated to promise that Clipston would be habitable by 
the summer vacation. In the meantime, most of the 
movables from Silverfold were transported thither, and 
there was a great deal of walking and driving to and 
fro, planning for the future, and revelling in the spring 
outburst of flowers. 

Schoolroom work had begun again, and Lady 
Merrifield was hearing Mysie read the Oerusalemme 
Liberata, while Miss Vincent superintended Primrose's 
copies, and Gillian's chalks were striving to portray a 
bust of Sophocles, when the distant sounds of the 
piano in the drawing-room stopped, and Valetta came 
in with words always ominous— 

' Aunt Jane wants to speak to you, mamma.' 

Lady Merrifield gathered up her work and departed, 



xxu THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 201 

while Valetta, addressing the public, said, ' Something's 

up.' 

' Oh ! * cried Primrose, ' Sofi hasn't run away again ? ' 
' I hope Kalliope isn't worse,' said Mysie anxiously. 

* I guess,' said Valetta, ' somebody said something 
the other day ! ' 

'Something proving us the hot-beds of gossip/ 
muttered Gillian. 

* You had better get your German exercise, Valetta,' 
said Miss Vincent 'Mysie, you have not finished 
your sums.* 

And a sigh went round; but Valetta added one 
after-clap. 

' Aunt Jane looked — I don't know how ! ' 

Whereat Gillian nodded her head, and looked up 
at Miss Vincent, who was as curious as the rest, but 
restrained the manifestation manfully. 

Meantime, Lady Merrifield found her sister standing 
at the window, and, without turning round, the words 
were uttered — 

* Jasper was right, Lily.' 
' You don't mean it ? ' 

' Yes ; he is after her ! ' — with a long breath. 
' Mr. White 1 ' 

* Yes ' — then sitting down. ' I did not think much 
of it before. They always are after Ada inore or less 
— and she likes it ; but it never has come to anything.' 

' Why should it now ? ' 

' It has ! At least, it has gone further than ever 



202 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

anything did before, except Charlie Scott, that ridicu- 
lous boy at Beechcroft that William was so angry 
with, and who married somebody else/ 

' You don't say that he has proposed to her ? ' 

* Yes, he has — the man ! By a letter this morning, 
and I could see she expected it — ^not that that's any 
wonder ! * 

' But, my dear, she can't possibly be thinking of it/ 

' Well, I should have said it was impossible ; but 
I see she has not made up her mind. Poor dear Ada ! 
It is too bad to laugh ; but she does like the having a 
real offer at last, and a great Italian castle laid at her 
feet.' 

' But he isn't a gentleman ! I don't mean only 
his birth — and I know he is a good man really — but 
Jasper said he could feel he was not a gentleman by 
the way he fell on Eichard White before his sister.' 

' I know ! I know ! I wonder if it would be for 
her happiness ? ' 

' Then she has not answered him ? ' 

*lfo; or, rather, I left her going to write. She 
won't accept him certainly now ; but I believe she is 
telling him that she must have time to consider and 
consult her family.' 

'She must know pretty well what her family 
will say. Fancy William ! Fancy Emily ! Fancy 
Eeginald ! ' 

* Yes, oh yes ! But Ada — I must say it — she does 
like to prolong the situation.' 



xxii THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 203 

' It is not fair on the poor man/ 

' Well, she will act as she chooses ; but I think she 

really does want to see what amount of opposition 

Ko, not that, .but of estrangement it would cause/ 

' Did you see the letter ? ' 

' Yes ; no doubt you will too. I told her I should 
come to you, and she did not object. I think she was 
glad to be saved broaching the subject, for she is half 
ashamed.' 

'I should have thought she would have been as 
deeply offended at the presumption as poor Gillian 
was with the valentine.* 

' Lily, my dear, forty-two is not all one with seven- 
teen, especially when there's an estate with an Italian 
countship attached to it I Though I'm sure I'd rather 
many Alexis than this man. He is b. gentleman in 
grain ! ' 

' Oh, Jenny, you are very severe ! ' 

' I'm afraid it is bitterness, Lily ; so I rushed down 
to have it all out with you, and make up my mind 
what part to take.' 

' It is very hard on you, my dear, after you have 
nursed and waited on her all these years.' 

' It is the little titillation of vanity — exactly like 
the Ada of sixteen, nay, of six, that worries me, and 
makes me naughty,' said Jane, dashing off a tear. 
' Oh, Lily ! how could I have borne it if you had not 
come home ? ' 

' But what do you mean about the part to take ? ' 



204 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

' Well, you see, lily, I really do not know what I 
ought to do. I want to clear my mind by talking 
to you.' 

' I am afraid it would make a great difference to 
you in the matter of means.* 

'I don't mean about that; but I am not sure 
whether I ought to stand up for her. You see the 
man is really good at heart, and religious, and he is 
taking out this chaplain. The climate, mountains, and 
sea might really suit her health, and she could . have 
all kinds of comforts and luxuries ; and if she can get 
over his birth, and the want of fine edge of his manners, 
I don't know that we have any right to set ourselves 
against it.' 

' I should have thought those objections would have 
weighed most of all with her.' 

'And I do believe that if the whole family are 
unanimous in scouting the very idea, she will give it 
up. She is proud of Mohun blood, and the Eotherwood 
connection and all, and if there were a desperate 
opposition — well, she would be rather flattered, and 
give in ; but I am not sure that she would not always 
regret it, and pine after what she might have had.' 

' Eotherwood likes the man.' 

* Like — but that's not liking him to marry his 
cousin.' 

' Eotherwood will not be the person most shocked.' 

'No. We shall have a terrible time, however it 
ends. Oh, I wish it was all over ! ' 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 205 

' Do you think she really cares for the man — loves 
him, in fact ? * 

' My dear Lily, if Ada ever was in love with any- 
body, it was with Harry May, and that was all pure 
mistake. I never told anybody, but I believe it was 
that which upset her health. But they are both too 
old to concern themselves about such trifles. He 
does not expect it ! ' 

'I have seen good strong love in a woman over 
forty.' 

'Yes; but this is quite another thing. A lady 
of the house wanted ! That's the motive. I should 
not wonder if he came home as much to look for a 
lady -wife as to set the Stebbings to rights; or, if 
not, he is driven to it by having the Whites on his 
hands.' 

' I don't quite see that. I was going to ask you 
how it would affect them.' 

' Well, you see, though she is perfectly willing and 
anxious to begin again, poor dear Kally really can't. 
She did try to arrange a design that had been running 
in her head^or a long time, and she was so bad after 
it that Dr. Dagger said she must not attempt it. Then, 
though she is discreet enough for anything, Mr. White ' 

is not really her uncle, and could not take her about ; 

with him alone or even with Maura ; so I gather from \ 

some expressions in his letter that he would like to \ 

take her out with them, spend the summer at Eocca 
Marina, and let her have a winter's study at Florence. 



2o6 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

Then, I suppose she might come back and superintend 
on quite a diflferent footing.' 

' So he wants Ada as a chaperon for Kalliope ? * 

' That is an element in the affair, and not a bad 
one, and I don't think Ada will object She won't be 
left entirely to his companionship.' 

' My dear Jane ! Then I'm sure she ought not to 
marry him ! ' cried Lady Merrifield indignantly. ' Here 
comes Jasper. May I tell him ? ' 

' You will, whether you may or not.' 

And what Sir Jasper said was — 

* " Who married the maiden all forlorn — " * 

At which both sisters, though rather angry, could not 
help laughing, and Lady Merrifield explained that 
they had always said the events had gone on in a 
concatenation, like the house that Jack built, from 
Gillian's peep through the rails. However, he was of 
opinion that it was better not to make a strenuous 
opposition. 

'Adeline is quite old enough to judge for herself 
whether the incongruities will interfere with her happi- 
ness,' he said ; ' and this is really a worthy man who 
ought not to be contemned. Violent contradiction 
might leave memories that would make it dif&cult to 
be on affectionate terms afterwards.' 

* Yes,' said Jane ; ' that is what I feeL Thank you, 
Jasper. Now I must go to my district. Happily 
those things run on all the same for the present.' 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 207 

But when she was gone Sir Jasper told his wife 
that he thought it ought to be seriously put before 
Adeline that Jane ought to be considered. She had 
devoted herself to the care of her sister for many years, 
and the division of their means would tell seriously 
upon her comfort. 

'If it were a matter of aflfection, there would be 
nothing to say/ he observed; 'but nobody pretends 
that it is so, and surely Jane deserves consideration.' 

' I should think her a much more comfortable com- 
panion than Mr. White,' said Lady Merrifield. 'I 
can't believe it will come to anything. Whatever the 
riches or the castle at Eocca Marina may be, Ada 
would, in a worldly point of view, give up a position 
of some consideration here, and I think that will weigh 
with her.' 

As soon as possible, Lady Merrifield went up to see 
her sister, and found her writing letters in a great 
flutter of importance. It was quite plain that the 
affair was not to be quashed at once, and that, whether 
the suit were granted or not, all the family were to be 
aware that Adeline had had her choice. Warned by 
her husband. Lady Merrifield guarded the form of her 
remonstrances. 

* Oh yes, dear Lily, I know ! It is a sacrifice in 
many points of view ; but think what a field is open 
to me ! There are all those English workmen and 
their wives and families living out there, and Mr. 
White does so need a lady to influence them.' 



2o8 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

' You have not done much work of that kind. Be- 
sides, I thought this chaplain was married.' 

* Yes ; but the moral support of a lady at the head 
must be needful/ said Ada. ' It is quite a work.' 

* Perhaps so/ said her sister, who had scarcely been 
in the habit of looking on Ada as a great moral influ- 
ence. 'But have you thought what this will be to 
Jane V 

' Eeally, Lily, it is a good deal for Jane's sake. She 
^vill be so much more free without being bound to poor 
me !' — ^and Ada's head went on one side. ' You know 
she would never have lived here but for me ; and now 
she will be able to do what she pleases.' 

' Not pecuniarily.' 

' Oh, it will be quite possible to see to all that ! 
Besides, think of the advantage to her schemes. Oh 
yes, dear Jenny, it will be a wrench to her, of course, 
and she will miss me ; but, when that is once got over, 
she will feel that I have acted for the best. Nor will 
it be such a separation ; he means always to spend the 
summer here, and the winter and spring at Florence or 
Eocca Marina.' It was grand to hear the Italian 
syllables roll from Adeline's tongue. ' You know he 
could take the title if he pleased.' 

'I am sure I hope he will not do anything so 
ridiculous!' 

' Oh no, of course not !' But it was plain that the 
secret consciousness of being Countess of Eocca Marina 
was an offset against being plain Mrs. White, and 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 209 

Adeline continued: 'There is another thing — I do 
not quite see how it can be managed about Kalliope 
otherwise, poor girl !' 

It was quite true that the care of Kalliope would 
be greatly facilitated by Mr. White's marriage; but 
what was absurd was to suppose that Ada would have 
made any sacrifice for her sake, or any one else's, and 
there was something comical as well as provoking in 
this pose of devotion to the public good. 

'You are decided, then V 

' Oh no ! I am only showing you what induce- 
ments there are to give up so much as I should do 
here — if I make up my mind to it.' 

'There's only one inducement, I should think, valid 
for a moment.' 

'Yes' — ^bridling a little. 'But, Lily, you always 
had your romance. We don't all meet with a Jasper 
at the right moment ; and — and ' — the Maid of Athens 
drooped her eyelids, and ingenuously curved her lips. 
' I do think the poor man has it very much at heart.' 

* Then you ought not to keep him in suspense.' 

'And you — ^you really are not against it, Lily?' 
(rather in a disappointed tone), as if she expected to 
have her own value enhanced. 

' I think you ought to do whatever is most right 

and just by him, and everybody else. If you really 

care for the man enough to overlook his origin, and 

his occasional betrayals of it, and think he will make 

you better and happier, take him at once ; but don't 
VOL. n P 



2 10 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

pretend to call it a sacrifice, or for anybody's sake but 
for your own ; and, any way, don't trifle with him and 
his suspense/ 

Lady Merrifield spoke with unwonted severity, for 
she was really provoked. 

* But, Lily, I must see what the others say — ^William 
and Emily. I told him that William was the head of 
our family/ 

' If you mean to be guided by them, well and good; 
if not, I see no sense in asking them/ 

'After all, the family commotion fell short of what 
was expected by either of the sisters. The eldest 
brother, Mr. Mohun, of Beechcroft Court, wrote to the 
lady herself that she was quite old enough to know 
what was for her own happiness, and he had no desire 
to interfere with her choice if she preferred wealth to 
station. To Lady Merrifield his letter began : * It is 
very well it is no worse, and as Jasper vouches for this 
being a worthy man, and of substantial means, there is 
nx) valid objection. I shall take care to overhaul the 
settlements, and, if possible, I must make up poor 
Jane's income.' 

The sister. Lady Henry Grey, in her dowager seclu- 
sion at Brighton, contented herself with a general moan 
on the decadence of society, and the levelling up that 
made such an affair possible. She had been meditat- 
ing a visit to Eockquay, to see her dear LiKas (who, 
by the bye, had run down to her at Brighton for a 
day out of the stay in London), but now she would 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 211 

defer it till this, matter was over. It would be too 
trjdng to have to accept this stonemason as one of 
the family. 

As to Colonel Mohun, being one of the younger 
division of the family, there was no idea of consulting 
him, and he wrote a fairly civil little note to Adeline, 
hoping that she had decided for the best, and would 
be happy ; while to the elder of the pair of sisters he 
said: 'So Ada has found her crooked stick at last. 
I always thought it inevitable. Keep up heart, old 
Jenny, and hold on till Her Majesty turns me off, and 
then we will see what is to be done.' 

Perhaps this cool acquiescence was less pleasing to 
Adeline Mohun than a contest that would have proved 
her value and importance, and her brother William's 
observation that she was old enough to know her own 
mind was the cruellest cut of all. On the other hand, 
there was no doubt of her swain's devotion. If he 
had been influenced in his decision by convenience or 
calculation, he was certainly by this time heartily in 
love. Not only was Adeline a handsome, graceful 
woman, whose airs and affectations seemed far more 
absurd to those who had made merry over them from 
childhood than to a stranger of an inferior grade ; but 
there was a great charm to a man, able to appreciate 
refinement, in his first familiar intercourse with 
thorough ladies. Jane began to be touched by the sight 
of his devotion, and convinced of his attachment, and 
sometimes wondered with Lady Merrifield whether 



212 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE ohap. 

Adeline would rise to her opportunities and responsi- 
bilities, or be satisfied to be a petted idol. 

One difficulty in this time of suspense was, that 
the sisters had no right to take into their confidence 
the young folks, who were quite sharp-eyed enough to 
know that something was going on, and, not being put 
on honour, were not withheld from communicating 
their discoveries to one another in no measured words, 
though fortunately they had sense enough, especially 
under the awe of their father, not to let them go any 
fttither than Mysie, who was entertaining because she 
was shocked at their audacious jokes and speculations ; 
all at first on the false scent of their elder aunt, who 
certainly was in a state of excitement and uncertainty 
enough to throw her off the even tenor of her way 
and excite some suspicion. When she actually brought 
down a number of the Contemporary Review instead 
of Friendly Work for the edification of her G.F.S., 
Gillian tried not to look too conscious when some 
of the girls actually tittered in the rear ; and she 
absolutely blushed when Aunt Jane deliberately stated 
that Ascension Day would fall on a Tuesday. So 
Gillian averred as she walked up the hill with Jasper 
and Mysie. It seemed a climax to the diversion she 
and Jasper had extracted from it in private, both 
wearing Punch's spectacles for the nonce, and holding 
such aberrations as proof positive. Mysie, on the 
other hand, was much exercised. 

* Do you think she is in love, then V 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 213 

' Oh yes ! People always do those things in love. 
Besides, the Sofi hasn't got a single white hair in her, 
and you know what that always means !' 

*I can't make it ont! I can't think how Aunt 
Jane can be in love with a great man like that. His 
voice isn't nice, you know ' 

'Not even as sweet as Bully Bottom's,' suggested 
Gillian. 

' You're a chit,' said Jasper, ' or you'd be superior 
to the notion of love being indispensable.' 

'When people are so mry old,' said Mysie in a 
meditative voice, ' perhaps they can't ; but Aunt Jane 
is very good — and I thought it was only horrid worldly 
people that married without love.' 

' Trust your good woman for looking to the main 
chance,' said Jasper, who was better read in Trollope 
and Mrs. Oliphant than his sisters. 

''Tis not main chance,' said Gillian. 'Think of 
the lots of good she would do ! What a recreation 
room for the girls, and what schools she would 
set up at Bocca Marina! Depend upon it, it's for 
that I' 

' I suppose it is right if Aunt Jane does it,' said 
Mysie. 

' Well done, Mysie ! So, Aunt Jane is your Pope !' 

' No ; she's the King that can do no wrong,' said 
Gillian, laughing. 

'Wrong — I didn't say wrong — but things axen't 
always retd wrong that aren't somehow quite right,' 



214 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKS TONE chap. 

said Mysie, with the bewildered reasoning of percep- 
tions that outran her powers of expression. 

' Mysie's speeches^ for instance/ said Jasper. 

' Oh, Japs, what did I say wrong V 

' Don't tease her, Japs. He didn't mean morally, 
but correctly.' 

The three were on their way up the hill when they 
met Primrose, who had accompanied Mrs. Halfpenny 
to see Kalliope, and who was evidently in a state of 
such great discomposure that they all stood round to 
ask what was the matter; but she hung down her 
head and would not say. 

' Hoots ! toots ! I tell her she need not make such 
a work about it,' said Mrs. Halfpenny. ' The honest 
man did but kiss her, and no harm for her uncle that 
is to be.' 

' He's a nasty man ! And he snatched me up ! 
And he is all scrubby and tobacco — ey, and I won't 
have him for an uncle,' cried Primrose. 

' I hope he is not going to proceed in that way,' 
said Gillian sotto voce to Mysie. 

' People always do snatch up primroses,' said Jasper. 

' Don't, Japs ! I don't like marble men. I wish 
they would stay marble.' 

' You don't approve of the transformation ? ' 

* Oh, Japs, is it true ? Mysie, you know the 
statue at Eotherwood, where Pig — my — lion made a 
stone figure and it turned into a woman. Yes ; but it 
was a woman and this is a man.' 



I ifc ■ a I ~»iB 



M 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 215 

Mysie began an exposition of classic fable to her 
little sister, while Mrs. Halfpenny explained that this 
cam6 of Christian folk setting up heathen idols in their 
houses as 'twas a shame for decent folk to look at, 
let alone puir bairnies; while Jasper and Gillian 
gasped in convulsions of laughter, and bandied queries 
whether their aunt were the statue ' Pig-my-lion ' had 
animated, as nothing could be less statuesque than she ; 
whether the reverse had taken place, as Primrose 
observed, and she had been the Pygmalion to awaken 
the soul in the man of marble. Here, however, Mrs. 
Halfpenny became scandalised at such laughter in the 
open street ; and, perceiving some one in the distance, 
she carried off Primrose, and enjoined the others to 
walk on doucely and wiselike. 

Gillian was on her way to visit Kalliope and 
make an appoiutment for her mother to take her out 
for a drive ; but as they passed the gate at Beechcroft 
out burst Valetta and Fergus, quite breathless. 

' Oh, Gill, Gill ! Mr. White is in the drawing-room, 
and he has brought Aunt Ada the most beautiful box 
you ever saw, with all the stoppers made of gold ! ' 

' And he says I may get all the specimens I like 
at Eocca Marina,' shouted Fergus. 

' ivory brushes, and such a ring-sparkling up to 
the ceiling ! ' added Valetta. 

* But, Val, Ferg, whom did you say ? ' demanded 
the elders, coming within the shadow of the copper 
beeches. 



2i6 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

' Aunt Ada/ sedd Valetta; 'there's a great A engraved 
on all those dear, lovely bottles ; and — oh, they smeU ! ' 

' Aunt Ada ! Oh, I thought ' 

' What did you think, GiU ? * said Aunt Jane, 
coming from the grass-plat suddenly on them. 

' Oh, Aunt Jane, I'm so glad ! ' cried Gillian. ' I 
thought ' — and she blushed furiously. 

* They made asses of themselves,' said Jasper. 

'They said it was you,' added Mysie. 'Miss 
Mellon told Miss Elbury,' she added in excuse. 

' Me ? No, I thank you ! So you are glad, 
GiUian ? ' 

. ' Oh yes, aunt ! I couldn't have borne for you to 
do anything — queer' — and there was a look in Gillian's 
face that went to Jane's heart, and under other cir- 
cumstances would have produced a kiss, but she rallied 
to her line of defence. 

' My dear, you must not call this queer. Mr. White 
is very much attached to your Aunt Ada, and I think 
he will make her very happy, and give her great 
opportunities of doing good.' 

' That's just what Gillian said when she was afraid 
it was you,' said Mysie. ' I suppose that's it ? And 
tKat makes it real right.' 

' And the golden stoppers ! ' said Valetta innocently, 
but almost choking Jasper with laughter, which must 
be suppressed before his aunt. 

' May one know it now ? ' asked Gillian, sensible of 
the perilous ground. . 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 217 

'Yes, my dears; you must have been on tenter- 
hooks all this time, for, of course, you saw there 
was a crisis, and you behaved much better than I 
should have done at your age; but it was only a 
fait accompli this very day, and we couldn't tell you 
before/ 

'When he brought down the golden stoppers,' 
Jasper could not help saying. 

' No, no, you naughty boy ! He would not have 
dared to bring it in before ; he came before luncheon 
— all that came after. Oh, my dear, that dressing- 
case is perfectly awful! I wouldn't have such a 
burthen on my mind — for — for all the orphans in 
London ! I hope there are no banditti at Eocca 
Marina.' 

' Only accepted to-day ! How did he get all his 
great A's engraved ? ' said Jasper practically. 

' He could not have had many doubts,' said Gillian. 
' Does KaJliope know ? ' 

*I cannot tell; I think he has probably told 
her.' 

'He must have met Primrose there,' said Jasper. 
' Poor Prim ! ' And the offence and the Pig-my-lion 
story were duly related, much to Aunt Jane's amuse- 
ment. 

'But,' she said, 'I think that the soul in the 
marble man is very real, and very warm ; and, dear 
children, don't get into the habit of contemning him. 
Laugh, I suppose you must ; I am afraid it mui^t look 



2i8 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

ridiculous at our age ; but please don't despise. I am 
going down to your mother.' 

* May I come with you ? ' said Gillian. ' I don t 
think I can go to Kally till I have digested this a 
little; and, if you are going to mamma, she won't 
drive her out.' 

Jane was much gratified by this volunteer, though 
Jasper did suggest that Gill was afraid of Primrose's 
treatment. He went on with the other three to Clip- 
ston, while Gillian exclaimed — 

' Oh, Aunt Jane, shall not you be very lonely ? ' 
' Not nearly so much so as if you were not all here,' 
said her aunt cheerfully. ' When you bemoaned your 
sisters last year we did not think the same thing was 
coming on me.' 

* Phyllis and Alethea! It was a very different 
thing,' said Gillian. * Besides, though I hated it so 
much, I had got used to being without theuL' 

'And to teU you the truth, Gill, nothing in that 
way ever was so bad to me as your own mother 
going and marrying; and now, you see, I have got 
her back again — ^and more too.' 

Aunt Jane's smile and softened eyes told that the 
young niece was included in the 'more too'; and 
Gillian felt a thrill of pleasure and affection in this 
proof that after all she was something to the aunt, 
towards whom her feelings had so entirely changed. 
She proceeded, however, to ask with considerable 
anxiety what would be done about the Whites, Kalliope 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 219 

especially ; and in return she was told about the present 
plan of Kalliope's being taken to Italy to recover first, 
and then to pursue her studies at Florence, so as to re- 
turn to her work more capable, and in a higher position. 

' Oh, how exquisite ! ' cried Gillian. ' But how 
about all the others ? ' 

' The very thing I want to see about, and talk over 
with your mother. I am sure she ought to go ; and it will 
not even be wasting time, for she cannot earn anything.' 

Talking oyer things with Lady Merrifield was, how- 
ever, impeded, for, behold, there was a visitor in the 
drawing-room Aunt and niece exchanged glances of 
consternation as they detected a stranger's voice through 
the open window, and Gillian uttered a vituperative 
whisper. 

'I do believe it is that dreadful Fangs'; then, 
hoping her aunt had not heard — ' Captain Henderson, 
I mean. He threatened to come down after us, and 
now he will always be in and out ; and we shall have 
no peace. He has got nothing on earth to do ! ' 

Gillian's guess was right. The neat, trim, soldierly 
figure, with a long fair moustache and pleasant gray 
eyes, was introduced to Miss Mohun as 'Captain 
Henderson, one of my brother ofl&cers,' by Sir Jasper, 
who stood on the rug talking to him. Looks and signs 
among the ladies were token enough that the crisis had 
come; and Lady Merrifield soon secured freedom of 
speech by proposing to drive her sister to Clipston, 
while Sir Jasper asked his visitor to walk with him. 



220 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

' You will be in haste to sketch the place,' he said, 
' before the workmen have done their best to demolish 
its beauty/ 

As for Gillian, she saw her aunt hesitating on 
account of a parochial engagement for that afternoon ; 
and, as it was happily not beyond her powers, she 
offered herself as a substitate, and was thankfdlly 
accepted. She felt quite glad to do anything obliging 
towards her Aunt Jane, and in a mood very unlike last 
year's grudgiog service; it was only reading to the 
' mothers' meeting,' since among the good ladies there 
prevailed such a strange incapacity of reading aloud, 
that this part of the business was left to so few that 
for one to fail, either in presence or in voice, was very 
inconvenient. All were settled down to their needle- 
work, with their babies disposed of as best they might 
be. Mr. Hablot had finished hils little lecture, and the 
one lady with a voice had nearly exhausted it, and 
there was a slight sensation at the absence of the un- 
failing Miss Mohun, when GiUian came in with the 
apologies about going to drive with her mother. 

' And,' as she described it afterwards, ' didn't those 
wretched beings all grin and titter; even the ladies, 
who ought to have had more manners, and that old 
Miss MeUon, who is a real growth of the hotbed of 
gossip, simpered and supposed we must look for such 
things now ; and, though I pretended not to hear, my 
cheeks would go and flame up as red as — that tacsonia, 
just with longing to tell them Aunt Jane was not so 



xxn THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 221 

ridiculous ; and so I took hold of jPbr Ralf a Crown, 
and began to read it as if I could bite them all ! ' 

She read herself into a state of pacification, but did 
not attempt to see Kalliope that day, being rather shy 
of all that might be encountered in that house, especi- 
ally after working hours. The next day, however. Lady 
Merrifield's services were required to chaperon the coy 
betrothed in an inspection of Cliff House and furniture, 
which was to be renovated according to her taste ; and 
GiUian was to take that time for a visit to Kalliope, 
whom she expected to find in the garden. The usual 
corner was, however, vacant ; and Mr. White was heard 
making a growl of * Foolish girl ! Doesn't know which 
way her bread is buttered.' 

Maura, however, came running up, and said to 
Gillian, ' Please come this way. She is here.' 

' What has she hidden herself for ? ' demanded Mr. 
White. ' I thought she might have been here to 
welcome this — Miss Adeline.' 

' She is not very well to-day,' faltered Maura. 

' Oh ! ay, fretting. Well, I thought she had more 
sense.' 

Gillian followed Maura, who was no sooner out of 
hearing than she began : ' It is too bad of him to be 
so cross. Kally really is so upset ! She did not sleep 
all night, and I thought she would have fainted quite 
away this morning ! ' 

Oh dear ! has he been worrying her ? ' 

* She is very glad and happy, of course, about Miss 



222 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE CHAP. 

Ada ! and he won't believe it, because he wants her to 
go out to Italy with them for all next winter/ 

' And won't she ? Oh, what a pity ! ' 

' She said she really could not because of us ; she 
could not leave us, Petros and all, without a home. 
She thought it her duty to stay and look after us. 
And then he got cross, and said that she was presuming 
on the hope of living in idleness here, and making him 
keep us all, but she would find herself mistaken, and 
went off very angry.' 

' Oh, horrid ! how could he ? ' 

' I believe, if Kally could have walked so far, she 
would have gone down straight to Mr. Lee's. She 
wanted to, but she was all in a tremble, and I persuaded 
her not, though she did send me down to ask Mrs. Lee 
when she can be ready. Then when Alexis came 
home, Mr. White told him that he didn't in the least 
mean all that, and would not hear of her going away, 
though he was angry at her being so foolish, but he 
would give her another chance of not throwing away 
such advantages. And Alexis says she ought not. 
He wants her to go, and declares that he and I can 
very weU manage with Mrs. Lee, and look after Petros, 
and that she must not think of rushing off in a huff 
for a few words said in a passion. So, between the 
two, she was quite upset and couldn't sleep, and, oh, if 
she were to be ill again ! ' 

By this time they were in sight of Kalliope lying 
back in a basket-chair, shaded by the fence of the 



7^ 



XXII TffE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 223 

kitchen -garden, and her weary face and trembling 
hand showed how much this had shaken her in her 
weakness. She sent Maura away, and spoke out her 
troubles freely to Gillian. ' I thought at first my duty 
was quite clear, and that I ought not to go away and 
enjoy myself and leave the others to get on without 
me. Alec would find it so dreary; and though Mr. 
and Mrs. Lee are very good and kind, they are not 
quite companions to him. Then Maura has come to 
think so much about people being ladies that I don't 
feel sure that she would attend to Mrs. Lee; and 
the same with Petros in the holidays. If I can't 
work at first, stiU I can make a home and look after 
them.' 

' But it is only one winter, and Alexis thinks you 
ought ; and, oh, what it would be, and how you would 
get on !' 

'That is what puzzles me. Alexis thinks Mr. 
White has a right to expect me to improve myself, 
and not go on for ever making white jessamines with 
malachite leaves, and that he can look after Maura and 
Petros. I see, too, that I ought to try to recover, or I 
might be a burthen on Alexis for ever, and hinder all 
his better hopes. Then, there's the not liking to 
accept a favour after Mr. White said such things, 
though I ought not to think about it since he made 
that apology ; but it is a horrid feeling that I ought 
not to affront him for the sake of the others. Alto- 
gether I do feel so tossed. I can't get back the feeling 



224 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

I had when I was ill that I need not worry, for that 
God will decide.' 

And there were tears in her eyes. 

* Can't you ask some one's advice ?' said Gillian. 

' If I were sure they quite understood 1 My head 
is quite tired with thinking about it.' 

Not many moments had passed before there were 
steps that made Kalliope start painftdly, and Maura 
appeared, piloting another visitor. It was Miss Mohun, 
who had escaped from the survey of the rooms, — so far 
uneasy at what she had gathered from Mr. White, that 
she was the more anxious to make the offer previously 
agreed to. 

' My dear,' she said, ' I am afraid you look tired.' 

' They have worried her and knocked her up/ said 
Gillian indignantly. 

' I see ! Kally, my dear, we are connections now, 
you know, and I have heard of Mr. White's plan. It 
made me think whether you would find the matter 
easier if you let me have Maura while you are away 
to cheer my solitude. Then I could see that she did 
her lessons, and, between aU Gillian's brothers, we 
could see that Petros was happy in the holidays.' 

' Oh, Miss Mohun ! how can I be grateful enough ? 
There is an end of all difl&culties.' 

And when the inspecting party came round, and 
Adeline bent to kiss the white, weary, but no longer 
distressed face, and kindly said, ' We shall see a great 
deal of each other, I hope,' she replied, with an 



»■' 4 



■••""•PPT" 



XXII THE MAIDEN ALL FORLORN 225 

earnest ' thank you/ and added to Mr. White, ' Miss 
Mohun has made it all easy to me, sir, and I am very 
grateful ! * 

* Ay, ay ! You're a good girl at the bottom, and 
have some sense !' 



VOL. II Q 



CHAPTER XXIII 

FANGS 

Events came on rapidly that spring. Mr. White was 
anxious that his marriage should take place quickly — 
afraid, perhaps, that his prize would escape him, and 
be daunted by the passive disapproval of her family, 
though this was only manifested to him in a want of 
cordiality. This, being sincere people, they could not 
help; and that outbreak to Kalliope had made the 
sisters so uneasy, that they would have willingly 
endured the ridicule of a broken engagement to secure 
Adeline from the risks of a rough temper where gentle- 
manly instincts were not inbred. 

Adeline, however, knew she had gone too far to 
recede, though she would willingly have delayed, in 
enjoyment of the present homage and shrinking from 
the future plunge away from all her protectors. Though 
the strong, manly will overpowered hers, and made her 
submit to the necessities of the case and fix a day 
early in July, she clung the more closely to her sisters, 
and insisted on being accompanied by Jane on going to 
London to purchase the outfit that she had often seen 



/ 



CHAP. XXIII FANGS 227 

in visions before. So Miss Mohun's afifairs were 
put in commission, Gillian taking care of them, 
and the two sisters were to go to Mrs. Craydon, 
once, as Marianne Weston, their first friend out of 
their own family, and now a widow with a house 
in London, well pleased at any recall of old times, 
though inclined, like all the rest, to speak of 'poor 
Ada.' 

Lord Eotherwood was, as his cousins had predicted, 
less disgusted than the rest, as in matters of business 
he had been able to test the true worth that lay 
beneath the blemishes of tone and of temper ; and his 
wife thought the Italian residence and foreign tincture 
made the affair much more endurable than could have 
been expected. She chose an exquisite tea-service for 
their joint wedding present ; but she would not consent 
to let Lady Phyllis be a bridesmaid; though the 
Marquis, discovering that her eldest brother hated the 
idea of giving her away to the stonemason, offered ' not 
to put too fine a point on it, but to act the part of 
Cousin Phoenix.' 

Bridesmaids would have been rather a diflSculty; 
but then the deep mourning of Kalliope and Maura 
made a decided reason for excluding them ; and Miss 
Adeline, who knew that a quiet wedding would be in 
much the best taste, resolved to content herself with 
two tiny maidens. Primrose and the contemporary 
Hablot, her own goddaughter, who, being commonly 
known as Belle, made a reason for equipping each in 



228 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

the colour and with the flowers of her name, and the 
idea was carried out with great taste. 

Yaletta thought it hard that an outsider should be 
chosen. The young Merrifields had the failing of large 
families in clannish exclusiveness up to the point of 
hating and despising more or less all who interfered 
with their enjoyment of one another, and of their own 
ways. The absence of society at SUverfold had inten- 
sified this far(yuche tone, and the dispersion, instead of 
curing it, had rendered them more bent on being alone 
together. Worst of all was Wilfred, who had been 
kept at home very inconveniently by some recurring 
delicacy of brain and eyes, and who, at twelve years 
old, was enough of an imp to be no small torment to 
his sisters. Valetta was unmercifully teased about 
her affection for Kitty Varley and Maura White, and, 
whenever he durst, there were attempts at stings about 
Alexis, until new game offered itself on whom no one 
had any mercy. 

Captain Henderson was as much in the way as a 
man could be who knew but one family in the place, 
and had no resource but sketching. His yellow 
moustache was to be seen at all manner of unexpected 
and unwelcome times. If that great honour, a walk 
with papa, was granted, out he popped from Marine 
Hotel, or a seat in the public gardens, evidently lying 
in ambush to spoil their walk. Or he was found 
Ute-db'tite with mamma before the five -o'clock tea, 
talking, no doubt, ' Eaphaels, Corregios, and stuff,' as 



XXIII FANGS 229 

in the Eoyal Wardour days. Even at Clipston, or in 
the coves on the beach, he was only too apt to start 
up from some convenient post for sketching. He 
really did draw beautifully; and Mysie would have 
been thankful for his counsels if public opinion had 
not been so strong. 

Moreover, Kitty Varley conveyed to Valetta the 
speculations of Eockstone whether Gillian was the 
attraction. 

'Now, VaV said Mysie, 'how can you listen to 
such nonsense V 

' You said so before, and it wasn't nonsense.' 

' It wasn't Aunt Jane.' 

* No, but it was somebody.' 

* Everybody does marry somebody ; but it is no use 
for us to think about it, for it always turns out just 
the contrary to all the books one ever read ; so there's 
no going by anything, and I don't believe it right to 
talk about it.' 

' Why not ? Every one does.' 

'All the good teachings say one should not 
talk of what one does not want one's grown-ups to 
hear.' 

' Oh, but then one would never talk of anything !' 

' Oh, Val ! I won't be sure, but I don't believe I 
should mind mamma's hearing all I say.' 

* Yes ; but you've never been to school ; and I heard 
Bee Varley say she never saw anybody so childishly 
simple for her age.' 



230 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

This brought the colour into Mysie's face, but she 
said — 

* I'd rather be simple than talk as mamma does not 
like; and, Val, do on no account tell Gillian.' 

' I haven't' 

' And don't ; don't tell Wilfred, or you know how 
horrid he would be.' 

There was a tell-tale colour in Valetta's cheeks, by 
which Mysie might have discerned that Valetta had 
not resisted the charm of declaring 'that she knew 
something,' even though this was sure to lead to 
tortures of various kinds from Wilfred until it was 
extracted. Still the youth as yet was afraid to do 
much worse than look preternaturally knowing at his 
sister and give hints about 'Fangs' holding fast and 
the like, but quite enough to startle her into some- 
thing between being flattered and indignant. She was 
scarcely civil to the Captain, and felt bound to express 
her dislike on every possible occasion, though only to 
provoke a grin from Wilfred and a giggle from Valetta. 

Lady Merrifield's basket -carriage and little rough 
pony had been brought from Silverfold, and she took 
Kalliope out for quiet drives whenever it was possible ; 
but a day of showers having prevented this, she was 
concerned to find herself hindered on a second after- 
noon. Gillian offered to be her substitute. 

'You know I always drive you, mamma.' 

'These are worse hills than at Silverfold, and I 
don't want you to come down by the sea-wall.' 



xxiii FANGS 231 

' I am sure I would not go there for something, 
among all the stupid people/ 

'If you keep to the turnpike you can't come to 
much harm with Bruno.' 

* That is awfully — I mean horribly dusty ! There's 
the cliff road towards Arnscombe/ 

'That is safe enough. I don't think you could 
come to much real damage; but remember that for 
Kally a start or an alarm would be really as hurtful 
as an accident to a person in health.' 

'Poor old Bruno could hardly frighten a mouse,' 
said Gillian. 

' Only take care, and don't be enterprising.' 

Gillian drove up to the door of Cliff House, and 
Kalliope took her seat. It was an enjoyable after- 
noon, with the fresh clearness of June sunshine after 
showers, great purple shadows of clouds flitting over 
the sea, dimpled by white crests of wave that broke 
the golden path of sunshine into sparkling ripples, 
while on the other side of the cliff road lay the open 
moorland, full of furze, stunted in growth, but bril- 
liant in colour, and relieved by the purple browns of 
blossoming grasses and the white stars of stitchwort. 

' This is delicious !' murmured Kalliope, with a 
gesture of enjoyment. 

' Much nicer than down below ?' 

' Oh yes ; it seems to stretch one's very soul !' 

' And the place is so big and wide that no one can 
worry with sketching.' 



232 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

* Yes, it defies that!' said Kalliope, laughing. 

' So, Fa — Captain Henderson won't crop up as he 
does at every shetchahle place. Didn't you know he 
was here V 

* Yes, Alexis told me he had seen him.' 
'Everybody has seen him, I should think; he is 

always about with nothing to do but that everlasting 
sketching.' 

' He must have been very sorry to be obliged to 
retire.' 

• ' Horrid ! It was weak ; and he might have been 
in Egypt, well out of the way. No, I didn't mean 
that' — as Kalliope looked shocked — 'but he might 
have been getting distinction and promotion.' 

' He used to be very kind,' said Kalliope, in a tone 
of regretful remonstrance. * It was he who taught me 
first to draw.' 

' He ! ' What, Fa — Captain Henderson V 

* Yes ; when I was quite a little girl, and he had 
only just joined. He found me out before our quarters 
at Gibraltar trying to draw an old Spaniard selling 
oranges, and he helped me, and showed me how to 
hold my pencU. I have got it still — the sketch. 
Then he used to lend me things to copy, and give me 
hints till — oh, till my father said I was too old for 
that sort of thing ! Then, you know, my father got 
his commission, and I went to school at Belfast.* 

' And you have never seen him since V 

'Scarcely. Sometimes he was on leave in my 



^^^^1^ 



' XXIII FANGS 233 

holidays, and you know we were at the dep6t after- 
wards ; but I shall always feel that all that I have 
been able to do since has been owing to him.' 

' And how you will enjoy studying at Florence !' 
' Oh, think what it would be if I could ever do a 
reredos for a church ! I keep on dreaming and fancy- 
ing them, and now there really seems a hope. Is that 
Arnscombe Church V 

* Yes ; you know it has been nicely restored.* 
'We had the columns to do. The reredos is 

alabaster, I believe, and we had nobody fit to under- 
take that. I so longed for the power! I almost 
saw it' 

' Have you seen what it is V 

* No ; I never had time.' 

' I suppose it would be too tiring for you now ; but 
we could see the outside.* 

Gillian forgot that Arnscombe, whose blunt gray 
spire protruded through the young green elms, lay in a 
little valley through which a stream rushed to the sea. 
The lane was not very steep, but there were loose stones. 
Bmno stumbled; he was down; the carriage stood 
still, and the two girls were out on opposite sides in a 
moment, Gillian crying out — 

* Don't be frightened — no harm done!' — as she 
ran to the pony's head. He lay quite still with 
heaving sides, and she felt utterly alone and helpless 
in the solitary road with an invalid companion whom 
she did not like to leave. 



234 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

' I am afraid I cannot run for help/ said Kalliope 
quietly, though breathlessly ; ' but I could sit by the 
horse and hold his head while you go for help/ 

' I don't like. Oh, here's some one coming ! ' 

' Can I be of any use ? ' 

Most welcome sound ! — though it was actually 
Captain Henderson the ubiquitous wheeling his bicycle 
up the hill, knapsack of sketching materials on his 
back. 

' Miss Merrifield ! Miss White ! I trust no one 
is hurt ! ' 

' Oh no, thank you, unless it is the poor pony ! 
Kally, sit down on the bank, I insist I Oh, I am so 
glad you are come ! ' 

' Can you sit on his head while I cut the traces ? ' 

Gillian did that comfortable thing till released, when 
the pony scrambled up again, but with bleeding knees, 
hip, and side, though the Captain did not think any 
serious harm was done ; but it was even more awkward 
at the moment that both the shafts were broken ! 

'What is to be done?' sighed Gillian. 'Miss 
White can't walk. Can I run down to the village to 
get something to take her home ? ' 

'The place did not look likely to supply any 
conveyance better than a rough cart,' said their friend. 

'It is quite impossible to put the poor pony in 
anyhow ! I don't mind walking in the least ; but 
you know how ill she has been.' 

' I see. Only one thing to be done/ said the 



4*V 



XXIII FANGS 235 

Captain, who had already turned the carriage round by 
the stumps of the shafts ; ' you must accept me in lieu 
of your pony/ 

' Oh yes, thank you ! ' cried Gillian eagerly. ' I 
can lead poor Bruno, and take care of your bicycle. 
Jump in, Kally 1 ' 

Kalliope, who had wisely abstained from adding a 
useless voice to the discussion, here demurred. She 
could not think of such a thing ; they could very well 
wait in the carriage while Captain Henderson went on 
to the town on his bicycle and sent out a midge. 

But there were showers about, and a damp feeling 
in the lane. Both the others thought this perilous; 
besides that, there might be rude passengers to laugh 
at their predicament ; and Captain Henderson protested 
that the weight was nothing. He prevailed at last ; and 
she allowed him to hand her into the basket, when 
she could hardly stand, and wrap the dust-cloth about 
her. Thus the procession set forth, Gillian with poor 
drooping Bruno's rein in one hand and the other on 
the bicycle, and the Captain gallantly drawing the car- 
riage with Kalliope seated in the midst. He tramped 
on so vigorously as quite to justify his declaration that 
it was no burthen to him. It was not a frequented 
road, and they met no one in the least available to 
do more than stare or ask a question or two, until, 
as they approached the town and Eockstone Church 
was full in view, who should appear before their eyes 
but Sir Jasper, Wilfred carrying on his back a huge 



236 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

kite that had been for many evenings in course of con- 
struction, and Fergus acting as trainbearer. 

Thus came on the first moment of Gillian's explan- 
ation, as Sir Jasper took the poor pony from her and 
held counsel over the damage, with many hearty thanks 
to Captain Henderson. 

* I am sure, sir, no one could have shown greater 
presence of mind than the young ladies,' said that 
gentleman ; and her father's ' I am glad to hear it ! ' 
would have gratified Gillian the more but for the 
impish grimace with which Wilfred favoured her behind 
Kalliope's impassive back. 

The kite-fliers turned, not without an entreaty 
from the boys that they might go on alone and fly 
their kite. 

* No, no, boys,' said their father — ' not here ; we shall 
have the kite pulling you into the sea over the cliffs. 
I must take the pony home; but I will come if 
possible to-morrow.' 

Much disappointed, they went dolefully in the rear, 
grumbling sotto v6ce their conviction that there would 
be no wind to-morrow, and that it was all ' Fangs's ' 
fault in some incomprehensible manner. 

At Clifif House Kalliope was carefully handed out 
by Sir Jasper, trying, but with failing voice, to thank 
Captain Henderson, and declaring herself not the worse, 
though her hand shook so much that the General was 
not content without giving her his arm up the stairs, 
and telling Maura that he should send Mrs. Halfpenny 



XXIII FANGS 237 

up to see after her. The maimed carriage was left in 
the yard, and Captain Henderson then took charge of 
his iron horse, and the whole male party proceeded to 
the livery stables ; so that Gillian was able to be alone, 
when she humbly repeated to her mother the tale 
parents have so often to hear of semi-disobedience 
leading to disaster, but with the self-reproach and 
sorrow that drew the sting of displeasure. Pity for 
Bruno, grief for her mother's deprivation, and anxiety 
for Kalliope might be penance and rebuke sufiBcient 
for a bit of thoughtlessness. Lady Merrifield made no 
remark ; but there was an odd expression in her face 
when she heard who had come so opportunely to the 
rescue. 

Sir Jasper brought a reassuring account of the poor 
little steed, which would be usable again after a short 
rest, and the blemish was the less important as there 
was no intention of selling him. Mrs. Halfpenny, too, 
reported that her patient was as quiet as a lamb. 
' She wasn't one to fash herself for nothing, and go 
into screaming cries, but kenned better what was fitting 
for one, born under Her Majesty's colours.' 

So there was nothing to hinder amusement when 
at dinner Sir Jasper comically described the procession 
as he met it. Kalliope White, looking only too like 
Minerva, or some of those Greek goddess statues they 
used to draw about, sitting straight and upright in her 
triumphal car, drawn by her votary ; while poor Gillian 
came behind with the pony on one side and the bicycle 



238 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

on the other, veiy mnch as if she were condnctmg fJie 
wheel on which she was to be broken, as an offering to 
the idoL 

' I think/ said Mysie, ' Captain Henderson was like 
the two happy sons in Solon's story, who dragged their 
mother to the temple.' 

' Only they died of it/ said Gillian. 

' And nobody asked how the poor mother felt after- 
wards/ added Lady Merrifield. 

' I thought they all had an apotheosis together/ said 
Sir Jasper. ' Let us hope that devotion may have its 
reward.' 

There was a little lawn outside the drawing-room 
windows at II Lido. Lady Merrifield was sitting just 
within, and her husband had just brought her a letter 
to read, when they heard WHfred's impish voice. 

' Jack — ^no, not Jack — Fangs ! ' 

' But Fangs's name is Jack, so it will do as well/ 
said Valetta's voice. 

' Hurrah — so it is ! Jack ' 

' Hush, Wilfred — this is too foolish ! ' came Gillian's 
tones in remonstrance. 

* Jack and Jill went up the hill 
To draw ' 

' To draw 1 Oh, that's lovely ! ' interrupted Valetta. 
* He is always drawing/ said Gillian, with an odd 
laugh. 

' He was brought up to it. First teeth, and then 






XXIII FANGS 239 

" picturs," and then — oh, my — ^ladies home from the 
wash ! ' went on Wilfred. 

' But go on, Will ! ' entreated Valetta. 

' Jack and Jill went up the hill 
To draw a piecse of water ' 



' No, no,' put in Wilfred — * that's wrong ! 

* To draw the sergeant's daughter ; 
Fangs dragged down unto the town, 
And Jill came moaning after ! ' 

' I didn't moan ' 



* Oh, you don't know how disconsolate you looked 1 
Moaning, you know, because her Fangs had to draw 
the other young woman — eh. Gill? Fangs always 
leave an aching void, you know.' 

' ' You ridiculous boy ! I'm sure I wish Fangs 
would leave a void. It wouldn't ache ! ' 

The two parents had been exchanging glances of 
something very like consternation, and of the mute 
inquiry on one side, ' Were you aware of this sort of 
thing ? ' and an emphatic shake of the head on the 
other. Then Sir Jasper's voice exclaimed aloud — 

* Children, we hear every word you say, and are 
shocked at your impertinence and bad taste ! ' 

There was a scatter. Wilfred and Valetta, who 
had been pinioning Gillian on either side by her dress, 
released her, and fled into the laurels that veiled the 
guinea-pigs; but their father's long strides pursued 
them, and he gravely said — 



'C3 



240 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

' I am very sorry to find this is your style of so- 
called wit 1 ' 

'It was only chaff/ said Valetta, the boldest in 
right of her girlhood. 

''Very improper chaff! I am the last person to 
object to harmless merriment; but you are both old 
enough to know that on these subjects such merriment 
is not harmless/ 

' Everybody does it/ whined Valetta, beginning one 
of her crying fits. 

' I am sorry you have been among people who have 
led you to think so. No nicely-minded girl will do so, 
nor any brother who wishes to see his sisters refined, 
right-feeling women. 60 in, Valetta — I can't suffer 
this howling ! Go, I say ! Your mother will talk to 
you. Now, Wilfred, do you wish to see your sisters 
like your mother ? ' 

* Theyll never be that, if they live to a hundred ! ' 

* Do not you hinder it, then ; and never let that 
insulting nickname pass your lips again.' 

Wilfred's defence as to universal use in the family 
was inaudible, and he was allowed to slouch away. 

Gillian had fled to her mother, entreating her to ex- 
plain to her father that such jests were abhorrent to her. 

' But you know, mamma, if I was cross and digni- 
fied, Wilfred would enjoy it all the more, and be ten 
times worse.' 

' Quite true, my dear. Papa will imderstand ; but 
we are sorry to hear that nickname.* 



XXIII FANGS 241 

'It was an old Eoyal Wardour name, mamma. 
Harry and Claude both used it, and — oh, lots of the 
young officers ! ' 

' That does not make it more becoming in you/ 

' N — no. But oh, mamma, he was very kind to-day I 
But I do wish it had been anybody else ! ' And her 
colour rose so as to startle her mother. 

' Why, my dear, I thought you would have been 
glad that a stranger did not find you in that plight ! ' 

* But it makes it all the worse. He does beset us, 
mamma; and it is hard on me, after all the other 
nonsense ! ' 

Lady Merrifield burst out laughing. 

' My dear child, he thinks as much of you as of old 
Halfpenny ! ' 

' Oh, mamma, are you sure ? ' said Gillian, still 
hiding her face. * It was not silliness of my own ; but 
Kitty Varley told Val that everybody said it — her 
sister, and Miss Mohun, and all. Why can't he go 
away, and not be always bothering about this horrid 
place with nothing to do ? ' 

' How thankful I shall be to have you all safe at 
Clipston ! ' 

* But, mamma, can't you keep him off us ? ' 
Valetta's sobbing entrance here prevented more; 

but while explaining to her the causes of her father's 
displeasure, her mother extracted a good deal more of 
the gossip, to which she finally returned answer — 
'There is no telling the harm that is done by 

VOL. II R 



242 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

chattering gossip in this way. You might have learnt 
by what happened before what mistakes are made. 
What am I to do, Valetta ? I don't want to hinder 
you from having friends and companions ; but if you 
bring home such mischievous stories, I shall have to 
keep you entirely among ourselves till you are older 
and wiser.' 

'I never — never will believe — anybody who says 
anybody is going to marry anybody ! ' sobbed Valetta 
desperately and incoherently. 

* Certainly no one who knows nothing about the 
matter. There is nothing papa and I dislike much 
more than such foolish talk ; and to tease your sister 
about it is even worse ; but I will say no more about 
that, as I believe it was chiefly Wilfred's doing.* 

* I — told — ^Will,' munnured Valetta. * Mysie begged 
me not ; but I had done it.' 

'How much you would have saved yourself and 
everybody else if you had let the foolish word die with 
you ! Now, good-night, my dear. Bathe your eyes 
well, or they will be very uncomfortable to-morrow ; 
and do try to cure yourself of roaring when you cry. 
It vexes papa so much more.' 

Another small scene had to follow with the boy, 
who was quite willing to go off to bed, having no desire 
to face his father again, though his mother had her 
fears that he was not particularly penitent for ' what 
fellows always did when people were spooning.' He 
could only be assured that he would experience un- 



i» ■ IHI 



xxiii FANGS 243 

pleasant consequences if he recurred to the practice ; 
but Wilfred had always been the problem in the family. 
The summer twilight was just darkening completely, 
and Lady Merrifield had returned to the drawing-room, 
and was about to ring for lights, when Sir Jasper came 
in through the window, saying — 

* No question now about renewal. Angelic features, 
more than angelic calmness and dignity. Ha! you 
there, young ladies ! ' he added in some dismay as two 
white dresses struck his eye. 

' There's no harm done,' said Lady Merrifield, laugh- 
ing. ' I was thinking whether to relieve Gillian's mind 
by telling her the state of the case, and Mysie is to be 
trusted.' 

* Oh, mamma, then it is Kalliope ! ' exclaimed 
Gillian, already relieved, for even love could not have 
perceived calmness and dignity in her sitting upon 
Bruno's head. 

' Has she ever talked about him ? ' asked Lady 
Merrifield. 

* No ; except to-day, when I said I hoped she was 
safe from him on that road. She said he had always 
been very kind to her, and taught her to draw when 
she was quite a little girl.' 

' Just so,' said Lady Merrifield. * Well, when she 
was a little older, poor Mr. White, who was one of 
the most honourable and scrupulous of men, took 
alarm, and saw that it would never do to have the 
young ofi&cers running after her.' 



244 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

*It was an uncommonly awkward position/ added 
Sir Jasper, ' with such a remarkable-looking girl, and 
a foolish unmanageable mother. It made poor White's 
retirement the more reasonable when the girl was 
growing too old to be kept at school any longer.' 

* And has he been constant to her all these years ? 
How nice ! ' cried Mysie. 

* After a fashion,' said Lady Merrifield. * He made 
me the receptacle of a good deal of youthful despair.' 

' All the lads did,' said her husband. ^ 

' But he got over it, and it seemed to have passed 
out of his life. However, he asked after the Whites 
as soon as we met him in London ; and now he tells 
me that he never forgot Kalliope — ^her face always 
came between him and any one whom his mother 
threw in his way ; and he came down here, knowing 
her history, and with the object of seeing her again.' 

' And he has not, till now ? ' 

'No. Besides the absolute need of keeping her 
quiet, it would not exactly do for him to visit her 
while she is alone with Maura at Cliff House, and I 
wished him first to see her casually amongst us, for I 
dreaded her not fulfilling his ideal.' 

'Oh!' 

* When I think of her at fourteen or fifteen, with 
that exquisite bloom and the floating wavy hair, I see 
a very dififerent creature from what she is now.' 

' Peach or ivory carving,' said Sir Jasper. 

*Yes; she is nobler, finer altogether, and has 



XXIII FANGS 245 

gained in countenance greatly ; but he may not think 
so, and I should like her to be looking a little less ill/ 

' Well, I can't help hoping he will be disappointed, 
and be too stupid to care for her ! ' exclaimed Gillian. 

' Indeed ! ' said her father in a tone of displeased 
surprise. 

* He is so insignificant ; he does not seem to suit 
with her,' said Gillian in a tone of defence; 'and 
there does not seem to be anything in him.' 

'Th^^,' only shows the effect of nursing prejudice 
by using foolish opprobrious nicknames. Henderson 
was a good officer ; he has shown himself an excellent 
son, always sacrificing his own predilections- for the 
sake of duty. He is a right-minded, religious, sensible 
man, his own master, and with no connections to take 
umbrage at Miss White's position. It is no common- 
place man who knows how to honour her for it. 
Nothing could be a happier fate for her; and you 
will be no friend to her if you use any foolish terms 
of disparagement of him because he does not happen 
to please your fancy.' 

* I am sure Gillian will do no such thing, now that 
she understands the case,' said her mother. 

* Oh no, indeed ! ' said GiUian. * It was only a 
first feeling.' 

' And you will allow for a little annoyance, papa,* 
added Lady Merrifield. ' We really have had a great 
deal of him, and he does spoil the children's walks 
with you.' 



246 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

Sir Jasper laughed. 

'I agree that the sooner this is over the better. 
You need have no doubts as to the first view, now 
that Gillian has effected the introduction. No words 
can do justice to her beauty, though, by the bye, he 
must have contemplated her through the back of his 
head!' 

'Well, won't that do? Can't he be sent ofif for 
the present, for as to love-making now, with all the 
doubts and scruples in the way, it would be the way 
to kill her outright.' ^ 

' You must take that in hand, my lady — it is past 
me ! Come, girls, give us some music ! ' 

The two girls went up at bed-time to their room, 
Mysie capering and declaring that here was real, true, 
nice love, like people in stories ; and Gillian still 
bemoaning a little that, whatever papa might say. 
Fa — Captain Henderson would always be too poor a 
creature for Kalliope. 

' If I was quite sure it was not only her beauty,' 
added Gillian philosophically. 

Lady Merrifield went up to Cliff House as early as 
she could the next day. She found her patient there 
very white and shaken, but not so much by the 
adventure of yesterday as by a beautiful bouquet of 
the choicest roses which lay on the table before her 
sofa, left by Captain Henderson when he had called to 
inquire after her. 

' What ought I to do, dear Lady Merrifield ? ' she 



• - 



XXIII FANGS 247 

asked. ' They came while I was dressing, and I did 
not know/ 

' You mean about a message of thanks ? ' 

'Yes; my dear father was so terribly displeased 
when I wore a rose that he gave me before the great 
review at Belfast that I feel as if I ought not to touch 
these ; and yet it is so kind, and after all his wonderful 
kindness yesterday/ 

The hand on the side and the trembling lip showed 
the painful fluttering of heart, and the voice died 
away. 

' My dear, things are very different now. Take my 
word for it, your father could not be displeased for a 
moment at any kindness between you and Captain 
Henderson. Ten years ago he was a very young man, 
and his parents were living, and your father was bound 
in honour, and for your sake too, to prevent attentions 
from the young officers.' 

' Oh yes, I know it would have been shocking to 
have got into that sort of thing !* 

* But now he is entirely at his own disposal, and a 
man of four or five-and-thirty, who has gone through 
a great deal ; and I do not think that to send him a 
friendly message of thanks for a bunch of flowers to 
his old fellow-soldier's daughter would be anything but 
what Captain White would think his due.' 
• 'Oh,' — a sigh of relief, — ^'please tell him, dear 
Lady Merrifield !' And she stretched out her hand for 
the flowers, and lovingly cooled her cheek with their 



248 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

petals, and tenderly admired them singly, venturing 
now to enjoy them and even caress them. 

Lady Merrifield ventured on no more; but she 
carried ofif ultimately hopeful auguries for the gentle- 
man who had been watching for her, very anxious to 
hear her report. She was, however, determined on 
persuading him to patience, reinforcing her assurances 
with Dr. Dagger's opinion, that though Kalliope's con- 
stitution needed only quiet and rest entirely to shake 
off the effects of the overstrain of that terrible half- 
year, yet that renewed agitation would probably entail 
chronic heart-complaint ; and she insisted that without 
making any sign the lover should go out of reach for 
several months, making, for instance, the expedition to 
Norway of which he had been talking. He could not 
understand at first that what he meant to propose 
would not be the best means of setting that anxious 
heart at rest; and Lady Merrifield had to dwell on 
the swarm of conscientious scruples and questions that 
would arise about saddling him with such a family, 
and should not be put to rest as easily as he 
imagined. At last, by the further representation 
that she would regard her mother's death as far too 
recent for such matters to occupy her, and by the 
assertion of the now fixed conviction that attentions 
from him at present could only agitate and distress 
her harmfully, and bring on her malicious remarks,*the 
Captain was induced to believe that Eocca Mariiia or 
Florence would be a far better scene for his courtship, 



XXIII FANGS 249 

and to defer it till he could find her there in better 
health. 

He was brought at last to promise to leave Eock- 
quay at once, and dispose of himself in Norway, if 
only Lady Merrifield would procure him one meeting 
with Kalliope, in which he solemnly promised to do 
nothing that could startle her or betray his intentions. 

Lady Merrifield managed it cunningly. It had 
been already fixed that Kalliope should come down 
to a brief twelve-o'clock service held at St. Kenelm's 
for invalids, there to return thanks for her recovery, 
in what she felt as her own church ; and she was to 
come to II Lido and rest there afterwards. Resolving 
to have no spectators, Lady Merrifield sent off the 
entire family for a picnic at Clipston, promising 
them with some confidence that they would not be 
haunted by Captain Henderson, and that she would 
come in the waggonette, bringing Fergus as soon as 
he was out of school, drink tea, and fetch home the 
tired. 

Sir Jasper went too, telling her, with a smile, 
that he was far too shy to assist her in acting 
chaperon. 

' Dragon, you had better say — I mean to put on all 
my teeth and claws.' 

These were not, however, very visible at the church 
door when she met Kalliope, who had come down in 
a bath-chair, but was able afterwards to walk slowly 
to II Lido. Perhaps Captain Henderson was, however, 



2SO BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

aware of them ; for Kalliope had no knowledge of his 
presence in the church or in the street, somewhat in 
the rear, nor did he venture to present himself till 
there had been time for luncheon and for rest, and till 
Kalliope had been settled in the cool eastern window 
under the verandah, with an Indian cushion behind 
her that threw out her profile like a cameo. 

Then, as if to call on Lady Merrifield, Captain 
Henderson appeared armed,' according to a wise 
suggestion, with his portfolio ; and there was a very- 
quiet and natural overlooking of his drawings, which 
evidently gave Kalliope immense pleasure, quite un- 
suspiciously. Precautions had been taken against 
other visitors, and all went off so well and happily 
that Lady Merrifield felt quite triumphant when the 
waggonette came round, and, after picking up Fergus, 
she set Kalliope down at her own door, with some- 
thing like a colour in her cheeks and lips, and thanks 
for a happy afternoon, and the great pleasure in seeing 
one of the dear old Eoyal Wardours again. 

' But, oh mamma,' said Gillian, feeling as if the 
thorn in her thoughts must be extracted, ' are you sure 
it is not all her beauty V 

' Her beauty, no doubt, began it, and gratifies the 
artist eye; but I am sure his perseverance is due 
to appreciation of her noble character,' said Lady 
Merrifield. 

' Oh, mamma, would he if she had been ever so 
good, and no prettier than other people V' 



>* 



a»saa 



XXIII FANGS 251 

'Don't pick motives so, my child; her beauty 
helps to make up the sum and substance of his 
adoration, and she would not have the counte- 
nance she has without the goodness. Let that 
satisfy you/ 



CHAPTEE XXIV 

CONCLUSION 

The wedding was imminent by this time. The sisters 
returned from London, the younger looking brilliant 
and in unusual health, and the elder fagged and 
weary. Shopping, or rather looking on at shopping, 
had been a far more wearying occupation than all the 
schools and districts in Eockquay afforded. 

And besides the being left alone, there was the 
need of considering her future. The family had 
certainly expected that a. rich and open-handed man 
like Mr. White would bethink him that half what was 
sufficient for two was not enough for one to live in 
the same style, and would have resigned his bride's 
fortune to her sister; but, as a rule, he never did 
what was expected of him, and he had, perhaps, been 
somewhat annoyed by Mr. Mohun's pertinacity about 
settlements, showing a certain distrust of commercial 
wealth. At any rate, all he did was to insist on 
paying handsomely for Maura's board ; but still Miss 
Mohun believed she should have to give up the 
pretty house built by themselves, and go into smaller 




CHAP. XXIV CONCLUSION 253 

quarters, more especially as it was universally agreed 
that Adeline must have Mrs. Mount with her, and 
Mrs. Mount would certainly be miserable in * foreign 
parts' unless her daughter went with her. It was 
demonstrated that the remaining means would just 
suffice to keep up Beechcroft ; but Jane knew that it 
could be only done at the cost of her subscriptions and 
charities, and she merely undertook to take no measures 
till winter — ^the Eockquay season. 

Sir Jasper, who thought she behaved exceedingly 
well about it, authorised an earnest invitation to make 
her home at Clipston ; but though she was much 
gratified, she knew she should be in his way, and, 
perhaps, in that of the boys, and it was too far from 
the work to which she meant to devote herself even 
more completely, when it would be no longer needful 
to be companionable to a semi-invalid fond of society. 
However, just then her brother, the Colonel, came 
at last for his long leave. He knew that his retire- 
ment was only a matter of months, and declared his 
intention of joining forces with her, if she would have 
him, and, in the meantime, he was desirous of con- 
tributing his full share in keeping up the home. Nor 
did Jane feel it selfish to accept his offer, for she 
knew that Clipston would give him congenial society 
and shooting, and that there was plenty of useful 
layman work for him in the town ; and that ' old 
Eeggie ' should wish to set up his staff with her raised 
her spirits, so that cheerfulness was no longer an effort 



IP*" 



254 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap. 

The wedding was to be very quiet. Only just after 
the day was finally fixed, Mrs. Merrifield's long decay 
ended unexpectedly, and Sir Jasper had to hasten to 
London, and thence to the funeral at Stokesley. She 
was a second wife, and he her only son, so that he 
inherited from her means that set him much more at 
his ease with regard to his large family than he had 
ever been before. The intention that Lady Merrifield 
should act mistress of the house at the wedding break- 
fast had, of course, to be given up, and only Primrose's 
extreme youth made it possible to let her still be a 
bridesmaid. 

So the whole party, together with the Wliites, 
were only spectators in the background, and the pro- 
cession into church consisted of just the absolutely 
needful persons — the bride in a delicate nondescript 
coloured dress, such as none but a French dressmaker 
could describe, and covered with transparent lace, like, 
as Mysie averred, a hedgeback full of pig-nut flowers, 
the justice of the comparison being lost in the ugliness 
of the name; and as all Eockquay tried to squeeze 
into the church to see and admire, the beauty was not 
thrown away. 

No tears were shed there ; but afterwards, in her 
own familiar room, between her two sisters, Adeline 
White shed floods of tears, and, clinging to Jane's 
neck, asked how she could ever have consented to 
leave her, extracting a promise of coming to her in 
case of illness. Nothing but a knock at the door by 



V. 



XXIV CONCLUSION 255 

Valetta, with a peremptory message that Mr. White 
said they should be late for the train, induced her to 
dry her tears and tear herself away. 

Kalliope and Maura remained with Miss Mohun 
during the bridal journey to Scotland, and by the time it 
was ended the former had shaken oflf the invalid habits, 
and could hardly accept the doctor's assurance that 
she ought not to resume her work, though she was 
grateful for the delights before her, and the oppor- 
tunities of improvement that she was promised at 
Florence. Her health had certainly been improved by 
Frank Stebbing's departure for America. Something 
oozed out that made Miss Mohun suspect that he had 
been tampering with the accounts, and then it proved 
that there had been a crisis and discovery, which Mr. 
White had consented to hush up for his partner's sake. 
Alexis had necessarily known of the investigation and 
disclosure, but had kept absolute silence until it had 
been brought to light in other ways, and the culprit 
was beyond seas. Mr: Stebbing was about to retire 
from the business, but for many reasons the dissolution 
of the partnership was deferred. 

Alexis was now in a post of trust, with a larger 
salary. He lodged at Mrs. Lee's, and was, in a manner, 
free of Miss Mohun's house ; but he spent much of his 
leisure time in study, being now able to pay regularly 
for instruction from the tutor who taught at Mrs. 
Edgar's school. 

Maura asked him rather pertly what was the use 



256 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap 



of troubling himself about Latin and Greek, if he held 
himself bound to the marble works. 

' It is not trouble — ^it is rest/ he said ; and at her 
gasp, ' Besides, marble works or no, one ought to make 
the best of one's self/ 

By the time Mr. and Mrs. White came back from 
Scotland, the repairs at Clipaton had been accom- 
plished, and the Merrifields had taken possession. It 
all was most pleasant in that summer weather going 
backwards and forwards between the houses ; the Sun- 
day coming into church and lunching at Aunt Jane's, 
where Valetta and Primrose stayed for Mrs. Hablot's 
class, and were escorted home by Macrae in time for 
evening service at Clipston, where their mother, GiUian, 
and Mysie reigned over their httle school There was 
a kind of homely ease and family hfe, such that 
Adehne once betrayed that she sometimes felt as if 
she was going into banishment. However, there was 
no doubt that she enjoyed her husband's pride in and 
devotion to her, as well as all the command of money 
and choice of pretty things that she had obtained, and 
she looked well, handsome, and dignified. 

Still it was evident that she was very glad of 
Kalliope's companionship, and that the pair were not 
on those exclusively intimate terms that would make 
a third person de, trop. 

By Sir Jasper's advice. Lady Merrifield did not 
mention the possibility of a visit from Captain Hen- 
derson, who would come upon Mr. White far better 




• • 



XXIV CONCLUSION 257 

on his own merits, and had better not be expected 
either by Adeline or K^alliope. 

Enthusiastic letters from both ladies described the 
delights of the journey, which was taken in a leisurely 
sight-seeing manner ; and as to Eocca Marina, it seemed 
to be an absolute paradise. Mr. White had taken care 
to send out an English upholsterer, so that insular 
ideas of comfort might be fulfilled within. Without, 
the combination of mountain and sea, the vine-clad 
terraces, the chestnut slopes, the magical colours of the 
barer rocks, the coast-line trending far away, the azure 
Mediterranean, with the white-sailed feluccas skimming 
across it, filled Kalliope with the more transport because 
it satisfied the eyes that had unconsciously missed such 
colouring scenes ever since her early childhood. 

The English workmen and their families hailed 
with delight an English lady. The chaplain and his 
wife were already at work among them, and their little 
church only waiting for the bride to lay the first stone. 

The accounts of Kalliope's walks as Mrs. White's 
deputy among these people, of her scrambles and her 
sketching, made her recovery evident. Adeline had just 
been writing that the girl was too valuable to both herself 
and Mr. White ever to be parted with, when Captain 
Henderson came back from Norway, and had free permis- 
sion from Lady Merrifield to put his fate to the touch. 

English tourists who know how to behave them- 
selves were always welcome to enliven the seclusion of 
Eocca Marina, and admire all, of which Adeline was 

VOL. II s 



258 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

as proud as Mr. White himself. Eecommendations to 
its hospitality did not fail, and the first of Adeline's 
long letters showed warm appreciation of this pleasant 
guest, who seemed enchanted with the spot. 

Next, Mrs. White's sagacity began to suspect his 
object, and there ensued Kalliope's letter, full of doubts 
and scruples, unable to help being happy, but deferring 
her reply tiU she should hear from Lady Merrifield, 
whether it could be right to burthen any man with such 
a family as hers. 

The old allegiance to her father's commanding 
ofl&cer, as well as the kindness she had received, seemed 
to make her turn to ask their approval as if they were 
her parents ; and of course it was heartily given, Sir 
Jasper himself writing to set before her that John 
Henderson was no suddenly captivated youth unable 
to calculate consequences, but a man of long -tried 
affection and constancy, free from personal ties, and 
knowing all her concerns. The younger ones all gave 
promise of making their own way, and a wise elder 
brother was the best thing she could give them. Even 
Eichard might be the better for the connection, and Sir 
Jasper had taken care that there should be some know- 
ledge of what he was. 

There was reason to think that all hesitation had 
been overcome even before the letters arrived. For 
it appeared that Captain Henderson had fraternised 
greatly with Mr. White, and that having much wished 
for an occupation, he had decided to become a partner 



>*, 



XXIV CONCLUSION 259 

in the marble works, bringing the art-knowledge and 
taste that had been desirable, and Kalliope hoped still 
to superintend the mosaic workers. It was agreed 
that the marriage had far better take place away from 
Eockquay, and it was resolved that it should be at 
Florence, and that the couple should remain there for 
the winter, studying art, and especially Florentine 
mosaic, and return in the spring, when the Stebbings 
would have concluded their arrangements and vacated 
their house. 

Mr. White, in great delight, franked out Alexis and 
Maura to be present at the wedding ; and a longing 
wish of KaUiope's that Mr. Flight would officiate was 
so^far expressed that Lady Merrifield mentioned it to 
him. He was very much moved, for he had been feel- 
ing that his relations with the Whites had been chiefly 
harmful, though, as Alexis now assured him, his notice 
had been their first ray of comfort in their changed 
life at Eockquay. The experience had certainly made 
him older and wiser. Mrs. White — or, as her nieces 
could not help calling her among themselves, the 
Contessa di Eocca Marina — urged that her sister Jane 
should join the company, and bring Gillian to act as 
the other bridesmaid. This, after a little deliberation, 
was accepted, and the journey was the greatest treat to 
all concerned. Mr. Flight, the only one of the party 
who had travelled before in the sense of being a tourist, 
was amused by the keen and intense delight of Miss 
Mohun as well as the younger ones in all they beheld, 



26o BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

and he steered them with full experience of hotels and 
of what ought to be visited, so as to be an excellent 
courier. 

As to Eocca Marina, where they spent a few days, 
no words would describe their admiration, though they 
brought home a whole book of sketches to back their 
descriptions. They did not, however, bring back 
Maura. Mrs. White had declared that she must 
remain to supply the place of her sister. She was 
nearly fifteen years old, and already pretty well 
advanced in her studies; she would pick up foreign 
languages, the chaplain would teach her when at 
Eocca Marina, and music and drawing would be 
attainable in the spring at Florence. Moreover, Mr. 
White promised to regard her as a daughter. 

Another point was settled. Alexis had worked in 
earnest for eight months, and had convinced himself 
that the marble works were not his vocation, though 
he had acquitted himself well enough to induce Mr. 
White to offer him a share in the business, and he 
would have accepted it if needfuL He had, however, 
made up his mind to endeavour to obtain a scholar- 
ship at Oxford, and Captain Henderson promised that 
whether successful in this or not, he should be enabled 
to keep his terms there. Mr. White coidd not under- 
stand how a man could prefer being a poor curate to 
being a rich quarrymaster, but his wife and the two 
sisters had influence enough to prevent him from 
being offended; and this was the easier, because 



XXIV CONCLUSION 261 

Theodore had tastes and abilities that made it likely 
that he would be thoroughly available at the works. 

What shall be said of the return to Eockstone ? 
Mr. Flight came home first, then, after many happy 
days of appreciative sightseeing, Aunt Jane and 
GiUian. They had not been ashamed of being British 
spinsters with guide-books in their hands ; nor, on the 
other hand, had they been obliged to see what they 
did not care about, and Mr. White had put them in 
the way of the best mode of seeing what they cared 
about ; and above all, the vicissitudes of travel, even in 
easy-going modern fashion, had made them one with 
each other according to Jane's best hopes. It was 
declared that the aunt looked five years younger for 
such recreation as she had never known before, and 
she set to work with double energy. 

When, in May, Captain and Mrs. Henderson took 
possession of the pretty house that had been fitted up 
for them, though Miss Mellon might whisper to a few 
that she, had only been one of the mosaic hands, there 
was not much inclination to attend to the story among 
the society to which Lady Merrifield introduced her. 
These acquaintances would gladly, have seen more of 
her than she had time to give them, between family 
claims and home cares, her attention to the artistic 
side of the business, for which she had not studied in 
vain, and her personal and individual care for the 
young women concerned therein. For years to come, 
even, it was likely that visitors to Eockstone would 



■■l-^k-^—r-^.1 



•1 



262 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap. 

ask one another if they had seen that remarkably 
beautiful Mra. Henderson. 

Mrs. White, reigning there in the summer, in her 
fine house and gardens, though handsome as ever, had ! 

the good sense to resign the palm of beauty, and be \ 

gratified with the admiration for one whom she accepted 
as a prot4g6e and appendage, whose praise reflected 
upon herself. And Cliff House under the new regime 
was a power in Rockstone, with its garden-parties, 
drawing-room meetings on behalf of everything good 
and desirable, its general superintendence and promo- 
tion of all that could aid in the welfare of the place. 
There was general rejoicing when it was occupied. 

Adeline, in better health than she had enjoyed 
since her early girlhood, and feeling her consequence 
both in Italy and at Eockstone, was often radiant, 
always kind and friendly and ready with patronage 
and assistance. Her sisters wondered at times how 
absolute her happiness was ; they sometimes thought 
she said too much about it, and about her dear 
husband's indulgence, in her letters, to be quite satis- 
factory ; and when she came to Eockstone there was 
an efiusiveness of affection towards her family, an un- 
willingness to spare her sisters or nieces from her side, 
an earnest desire to take one back to Italy with her, that 
betrayed something lacking in companionship. Jane 
detected likewise such as the idolising husband felt 
this attachment a little over much. 

It was not quite possible to feel him one with her 



•»»-^« 



^^. J 



XXIV CONCLUSION 263 

family, or make him feel himself one. He would 
alw'ays be 'company* with them. He had indeed 
been invited to Beechcroft Court, but it was plain that 
the visit had been stiff and wearisome to both parties, 
even more so than that to Eotherwood, where there 
was no reason to look for much familiarity. 

In the same way, to Eeginald Mohun, who had 
been obliged to retire as full Colonel, Mr. White was 
so absolutely distasteful that it was his sister's continual 
fear that he would encourage the young people's sur- 
reptitious jokes about their marble uncle. Sir Jasper, 
always feeling accountable for having given the first 
sanction, did his best for the brother-in-law; but in 
spite of regard, there was no getting over the uncon- 
geniality that would always be the drop in Adeline's 
cup. The perfect ease and confidence of family inter- 
course would alter on his entrance ! 

Nobody got on with him so well as Captain Harry 
May. For I do not 'speak' to that dull elf who 
cannot figure to himself the great family meeting that 
came to pass when the colonists came home — how 
sweet and matronly ' Aunt Phyllis ' looked, how fresh 
and bright her daughters were, and how surprised 
Valetta was to find them as well instructed and 
civilised as herself, though she did not, like Primrose, 
expect to see them tatooed. One of the party was no 
other than Dolores Mohun. She had been very happy 
with her father for three years. They had been at 
Eotorua at the time of the earthquake, and Dolores 



* 



264 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap, xxiv 

had acquired much credit for her reasonableness and 
self-possession ; but there had been also a young lady, 
not much above her own age, who had needed protec- 
tion and comfort, and the acquaintance there begun 
had ended in her father deciding on a marriage with 
a pretty, gentle creature as unlike the wife of his 
youth as could be imagined. 

Dolores had behaved very well, as her Aunt 
Phyllis warmly testified ; but it was a relief to all 
parties when the proposal was made that, immediately 
after the wedding, she should go home under her 
aunt's escort to finish her education. She had learnt 
to love and trust Aunt Phyllis ; but to be once more 
with Aunt Lily and Mysie was the greatest peace and 
bliss she could conceive. And she was a very different 
being from the angular defiant girl of those days which 
seemed so long ago. 

There is no need to say more at present of these 
old friends. There is no material for narrative in 
describing how the ' calm decay ' of Dr. May in old 
age was cheered by the presence of his sailor son, nor 
in the scenes where the brothers, sisters, and friends 
exchanged happy recollections, brightened each other's 
lives with affection, and stimulated one another in 
serving God in their generation. 



THE END 



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