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BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE
CHAELOTTE M. 4oNGE
AX7TH0R OF * THB HEIR OF REDCLYFFE,' 'UNKNOWN TO HISTORY.'
IN TWO VOLUMES
MACMILLAN AND CO.
AND NKT YORK
All rights reserved
Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinlmrgh
^ CHAPTER XIII
St. Valentine's Day . . . . . . 1
' CHAPTER XIV
^ The Partner' 22
The Rocks op Rockstone ..... 40
*Thet come, they come* 76
Father and Mother 99
The Knight and the Dragon 118
IviNGHOE Terrace 145
Beauty and the Beast . . . . . .168
The Maiden all forlorn 199
BEECHCEOFT AT ROCKSTONE
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
' 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
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
' 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,
' 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
' 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
'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
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
' 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
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 were quite right to tell us, Fanny. Good-
* 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
' 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
'I wonder Lily did not telegraph to put a stop
'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
'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
'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
' 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
' 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
- 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
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
' I know they do, and therefore I am going to ask
you to tell me exactly what intercourse there has been
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
'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
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
' 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
' 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
' 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
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
' 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
' Oh yes, she is not going to make an estrangement.
You need not fear that, Ada. She does not think it
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
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.
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
' Victoria said she had been looking at some houses
'I am afraid she will have raised the prices of
'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
* 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
'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
' 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,'
'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
' 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,
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
' 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-
' 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
'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
' 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
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
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
' 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
' She is no worse, I think, thank you ; but I was
delayed. Are you going this way ? May I walk with
'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
* 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
' 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
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
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-
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
'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
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
* 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;
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
'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.'
' 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
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-
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
* 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
' And Alexis White gave you leave to take it ?'
' Oh yes, I always ask him.'
'Were you at the place when you asked him,
* 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
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-
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
' 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
'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
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
' 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.
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
' 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-
' 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
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-
' 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
' Wheu ! He might have stood still and let
64 BEECHCROFT A T ROCKSTONE chap.
Fergus defend him, then, instead of giving up his
' 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
XVI VANISHED 67
' And Lily ? Victoria would have gone crazy
— supposing such a thing possible/ he added, sotto
' 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
' Thank you ; I had rather be like Lily than
'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-
' 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
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
' 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
'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
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
' 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
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
* 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
' 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
' 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
' 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
' 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
'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
' 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
'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
' 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
' 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
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
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
' All these things are since my time,' said Mr White.
'We were left pretty much to ourselves in those
' 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
* My sister thinks she has been an excellent influ-
' 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-
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
'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
' 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
* 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
* 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
' 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
'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
'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
' 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
* 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
' 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
*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
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
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
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 are quite a different thing,' said Mysie
stoutly ; ' but we can be the next thing to it in our
'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
' 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,'
'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
' 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
' In spite of parting with Phyllis ? ' asked Lady
' 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
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
' 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
' Gill has done a beautiful sketch of Rockquay,'
' 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
' 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 ?
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
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
'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
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
' 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
' 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
'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,'
' 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
' 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
' 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
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
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
' 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-
'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.
' 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
' Thank you,' said Clement. ' That is an idea to
' 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
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
'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
' Poor Aunt Jane ! Those are the faults of her
girlhood, which she has been struggling against all her
' 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
' We will pray that it may be so,' said her mother.
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
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
' 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
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
' 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
' 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
* 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
' 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
' 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
' 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
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
' 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
'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
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
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
' 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
'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
* 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
* 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
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
' 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
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 ? '
' 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
' 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
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
* 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
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
'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
' 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
' I don't know what day it was/ said the boy, some-
'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
' 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
'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
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
' 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
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
' 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
'Setting aside the supposed purpose,' said Sir
Jasper, *you admit, Mrs. Stebbing, that of your own
knowledge. Miss White has never encouraged your
' 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
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
' 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
' 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
'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
' 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
' 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.'
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
'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
' 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
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
'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
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-
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
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
' 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
' 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-
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-
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
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
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,
' 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
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
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
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
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
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
* 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
' 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.
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
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
* 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
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.
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
♦ 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
' And the thing to be done,' added her sister, ' is to
see how and when that poor girl can be got up to
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
' 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
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
' 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 ! ' 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
' 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
' 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.
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
' 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
' 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
' 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,
' Now, Wilfred, if you don't hold your tongue, and
not behave like a brute, I shall send you straight
' 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
XXI BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 183
of you both. Mind, I shall thrash you if you mention
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
* Well, it's all the same. I believe he began as an
' 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
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
Fly nodded her head towards her governess in the
' 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
' 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-
' 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
'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
' 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
'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
'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
' It*s like the halls of Ivor,' said Mysie, awestruck
by the loneliness ; * no dog, nor horse, nor cow, not even
' 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
* 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
'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
' 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
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.
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
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
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
' 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
' 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
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.'
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
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
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
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
' 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/
* You had better get your German exercise, Valetta,'
said Miss Vincent 'Mysie, you have not finished
And a sigh went round; but Valetta added one
' 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
' 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
'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
' 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
' 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
' 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
'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
' 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
'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
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
* 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
' 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
' 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
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
' 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
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
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
' 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
' I suppose it is right if Aunt Jane does it,' said
' Well done, Mysie ! So, Aunt Jane is your Pope !'
' No ; she's the King that can do no wrong,' said
'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,
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
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
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
'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
' 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
'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-
'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
'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
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
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
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
' 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
' My dear,' she said, ' I am afraid you look tired.'
' They have worried her and knocked her up/ said
' 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
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
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
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
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
'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
' 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
* 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,'
' 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
' He must have been very sorry to be obliged to
• ' 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
' 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
' 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
' 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
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
* 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
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
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
' 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
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
' 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 —
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
' 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
'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
* Oh, mamma, then it is Kalliope ! ' exclaimed
Gillian, already relieved, for even love could not have
perceived calmness and dignity in her sitting upon
' Has she ever talked about him ? ' asked Lady
* 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.'
* 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
* 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
' 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
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
'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
' 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
The hand on the side and the trembling lip showed
the painful fluttering of heart, and the voice died
' 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
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
Sir Jasper went too, telling her, with a smile,
that he was far too shy to assist her in acting
' 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
' Oh, mamma, would he if she had been ever so
good, and no prettier than other people V'
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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