LIB RA HY
or 1LLI NOIS
THE FAT OF THE LAND
THE FAT OF THE LAND
M A R Y LESTER
AUTHOR OF 'A LADY'S RIDE ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS'
IN THREE VOLUMES
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
All Rights reserved
CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
hunter's lodge, .....
SOME RETROSPECTION, ....
MISS FANSHAWE, .....
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. .
THE BANKS OF THE YAR,
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY,
MR GLASCOTT, .....
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON,
IN RE MARMADUKE, ....
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS, .
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES,
JONATHAN SIKES, .....
THE FAT OF THE LAND.
HUNTER S LODGE.
"When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
But in battalions."
A still night in the end of March, wherein the crisp
air was tempered by the faint perfume which a recent
rainfall had drawn forth from the early spring blossoms
and the newly upturned earth. This shower had not
only freshened the budding trees, but it had effect-
ually laid low the dust, which for weeks past had
powdered alike every hedgerow and tussock in the
village of Blythe, and taken away for the nonce the
palm for bright delicate spring tints and emerald
green turf, which had been for years past conceded
to this charming nook of East Yarneshire.
The night was wearing on, and it was strange at
this season to see the mistress of Hunter's Lodge pace
VOL. I. A
2 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
up and down the gravel walk in front of the house,
and occasionally pass through the broad barred gate
which opened upon the road, and look about her
anxiously in the direction of the county -town of
Yarne, from whence, it was evident, she was in ex-
pectation for somebody who ought to come. Usually
this lady was of a quiet imperturbable nature, and
seldom demonstrative for either joy or sorrow. Her
experience of life hitherto had been such, that to take
the rough with the smooth was (if not always the
wiser), for her, the more expedient plan.
When much aggravated or disturbed, Mrs Leppell —
ox-eyed as Juno — would open her splendid orbs to
their fullest extent, and fix them with a scintillating
light, which, together with the working of her exqui-
sitely curved nostrils, served not only to make her look
handsomer than she really was, but also to convince
the beholder that fire did exist beneath, not the
ice, but the india-rubber, so to speak, of her com-
A hesitation of speech and a certain timidity, which
were inseparable to her, had ever restrained this lady
from overstepping the bounds of conventionalism, and
a natural indolence of disposition sometimes did duty
for long-suffering and forbearance.
A more sensitive woman in Mrs Leppell's position
would have been not only miserable herself, but most
probably would at the same time have been the cause
of much suffering to others ; and a more spirited
woman would have murdered Colonel Leppell (her
HUNTERS LODGE. 3
husband), or have been herself speedily and violently
extinguished by that irascible gentleman.
Here, then, was the right woman in the right place :
and on this night the March wind had tempered itself
undeniably to this shorn lamb ; for she was wellnigh
overwhelmed with trouble, and her only alleviation
under its burden was to go forth into the silent garden,
and there in the soothing air commune with her
troubled spirit, and think out what was best to be
done, how best to break the news to her husband
when he should come — and such news !
She pulled her warm knitted shawl closely round
her, and then turned and looked up at the windows
of the Lodge. Her nursery children had long been
asleep ; only here and there did a light now shine out
into the darkness. At one particular casement Mrs
Leppell looked intensely.
"Mary ought to be undressed by this time," she
said to herself. " I sent her to her room early : her
father may want to get speech of her at once, but he
will never have the child called out of her bed at this
time of night. Yet, he is so inconsiderate, so regard-
less of others "
The sudden extinction of the candle in that partic-
ular room put an end to Mrs Leppell's ruminations,
and a feeling of satisfaction brightened her face.
" Mary is safe in bed — that's a comfort," she whispered.
And then she turned her eyes in the direction of a
bow-windowed apartment, on the ground-floor, at the
extreme end of the building, — this was her mother's,
4 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Lady Asher's, room, — and from thence, between the
openings of the window-curtains, Mrs Leppell descried
the glimmer of a lamp, and wondered why the old
lady had not retired to rest.
Another glance, and she interpreted matters aright.
"That is Prothero's lamp: Prothero has seen that
something is amiss, although she has made no remark.
It is as well that she should be up, though I do not
know why I should think so ; but still, it is as well.
Yes ; it is possible that she may be wanted, so I won't
interfere with her now."
Prothero was Lady Asher's maid. Her mistress
and this attendant lived at Hunter's Lodge as part of
its regular household, bearing much for Mrs Leppell's
sake, and enduring much for the dear memory's sake
of honest Gilbert Asher, whose only daughter Adelaide
was the wife of the Honourable Colonel Ralph Leppell.
Satisfying herself that Prothero was at hand, quietly
and unobtrusively on the watch maybe (for there had
been occasions whereon the powerful aid and discreet
bearing of that handmaiden had been of infinite ser-
vice to the wife when Colonel Leppell returned "lively "
from a convivial dinner-party or a hunt-supper at
the town of Yarne, or from some place in the county),
Mrs Leppell betook herself to the garden gate.
She had scarcely leaned over it ten minutes when
she found herself counting the strokes of the great
clock of Yarne Cathedral, as it tolled out the eleventh
hour of the night. The air was so still that the sound
seemed to carry itself almost in a direct line towards
HUNTERS LODGE. 5
Blythe ; but the nerves of the watcher were strung to
their utmost tension, and as every sense was in con-
sequence painfully on the alert, the warning of the
clock fell with unwonted distinctness on her ear.
" Eleven o'clock ! " she exclaimed aloud as the chime
ceased ; " he cannot be long now."
Then she fell to wondering if her husband had
stayed in Yarne to dine at the militia mess, or if he
had been to his office in Eed Lion Square, whereat he
transacted his business as staff-officer of pensioners,
and secured his letters, together with a visiting-card,
which she knew awaited him there ; or had he trav-
elled straight from London, where he had been for ten
days, and, finding it late, had just got his horse at the
hotel and ridden home ? She hoped he had taken the
latter course, for it was her desire to speak with him,
before stern accurate correspondence should acquaint
him that disgrace, and possibly utter ruin, had befallen
" Sometimes the Colonel takes it into his head to
walk home from Yarne by the short cut upon the
river bank," thought she ; " but he is not likely to do
this, I should think, for the path by the Yar is not
quite safe even in daylight. No, no ; he will never do
so foolish a thing as that."
A clang of horse-hoofs advancing at a rapid trot
caused Mrs Leppell to pass out into the road and
stand there. A horseman soon appeared in sight. As
he approached near enough to be recognised, she
called out —
6 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Ealph ! — Colonel Leppell, is that you ? "
" Yes. What do you want ? " answered a loud voice.
" Why, Adelaide ! what in the name of fortune brings
you out here ? "
"Never mind now; I am so glad you have come
home," she answered. " Don't stop at the stable gates ;
come forward here, where I stand."
Colonel Leppell dismounted in the road, and draw-
ing the bridle through his arm, walked towards his
wife. "Good gracious, Adelaide!" he said, in an
alarmed tone, " are the grooms all gone ? you can't
take the horse. Why am I not to halt at the stable
gate ? and why the deuce are you waiting in the road
at this time of night ? "
" I want to see you, to speak to you before any one
else does," she replied. " I was afraid you would go
to your den at the stables, and lie down on the sofa
there, and fall fast asleep as you so often do. Come
into the house at once ; Ben is sitting up by the
kitchen fire waiting to take the horse. I have news
for you, Ealph, and we must be alone when I tell it."
She had satisfied herself, by his manner, that her
husband had not secured the letters which were await-
ing him at his office : her conjecture was correct, — he
had travelled from London, left his portmanteau at
the station, and had ridden straight home.
Again she spoke. " Knock at the shutter of the
kitchen window, and when Ben comes out, follow me
to the hall door, where I will wait. Bring the horse
through the front gate ; Ben is expecting you."
hunter's lodge. 7
She spoke with a tone of decision so unusual to her,
that the Colonel looked at her in some perplexity and
wondered what he should do. It was so new to him to
be ordered by her, to find plans for his guidance so
readily arranged, that surprise chained his tongue ;
so they passed through the garden gate in silence. He,
doing as he had been directed, made for the kitchen
window — his wife, meanwhile, wending her way
towards the steps of the hall door.
Her face was very pale, but she was quite calm as she
found herself confronted with the disagreeable, pain-
ful task before her. There was no evading or putting
off this duty : her husband had arrived, and now she
had to tell him strange things of Marmaduke, their
eldest and their favourite son.
A son much treasured, for a fell fever had carried
off two boys who were born to them in the first years
of their married life, and so " Duke," as he was called,
was precious in his parents' sight.
" Come in, and please bolt the door," Mrs Leppell
said, as the Colonel joined her. " There is supper laid
for you in the morning-room, and I've had a good fire ;
you must be both hungry and tired, and it is very
" I know what you have to tell me," said the Colonel,
savagely, as they entered the little room ; " there's no
use in trying to awe me with these solemn airs of
preparation : I see through it all. That young devil
Dick has been riding the bay mare contrary to my
express orders, and has let her go down, — that's all
8 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
about it. I'll thrash the life out of him, the young
scoundrel ! "
" You are wrong," his wife answered. " Do not in-
dulge in your habit of jumping at conclusions : this is
no question of Dick ; now don't bluster, — it is a much
more serious matter, for it is a question of Duke."
" Duke ! " cried the father, now thoroughly alarmed,
" what of him ? don't look like that. I know : he has
ridden the Barham steeplechase and has been — no,
no, the boy is too good a rider — say it out, Adelaide ;
the lad — Duke is — is killed."
" No, no, Ealph ; listen patiently. Duke is unharmed
and well as far as bodily health is concerned, but he is
in hiding: an officer of the Court of Chancery was
here yesterday making inquiries about him. Oh, I
was so thankful to be able to say with truth that the
lad has not been here for months past."
" Chancery ! what has Duke to do with Chancery ?
He has not stolen any of their money, has he ? what
do you mean ? "
" He has not stolen any Chancery money," Mrs Lep-
pell replied, " but he has carried off a ward of that
court. In plain English, he ran away last week with
an heiress from a boarding-school at Wisgate, who is
a ward of Chancery. This offence is actionable, and
renders him liable to imprisonment."
" Duke is a minor," interposed Colonel Leppell, " and
very likely does not know that he has committed any
offence against the law."
" So I said to the officer, but it appears that ignor-
HUNTERS LODGE. 9
ance of the law is not admitted as any excuse for the
infringement of it. Duke is turned twenty, and ought
to know what he is about. Just look at the amount
of money which has been spent on his education ! "
" Who is the girl ? " inquired the Colonel briskly.
" A Miss Lorton, an orphan : her father made a
large fortune as a manufacturer of tin-ware baths, at
a suburb near Dublin, I believe. She was placed, at
his death, under the care of two ladies, distant rela-
tives, who keep a first-class school at Wisgate, not far
from Dublin. How Duke first came to make her
acquaintance is not known."
"At any rate, Miss Lorton was not carried off by
force," replied the Colonel exultingly ; " of course not.
The girl was, no doubt, a consenting • party, there can
be no doubt of it : a handsome young fellow like
Duke is not to be sneezed at, and his connection is
a great one for mere tradespeople. Did they get
married ? "
" The officer was not sure of this ; but he seemed to
entertain the idea that some ceremony might have
been gone through at a registrar office. However,
they were pursued and overtaken at Dieppe, and the
girl was returned to Wisgate, there to await the Chan-
cellor's pleasure. Duke managed to escape, and the
authorities naturally assumed that he was hiding in
" Is that all ? "
" Unfortunately no : Duke is charged with embezz-
ling money under false pretences by a firm in Liver-
10 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
pool. Writs are out against him ; the Sheriffs officer
was here yesterday morning, and I had to hear and
bear it all," the poor mother said. "The man was
very good : he had inquired for you at Yarne, and
finding that you were in London, came straight here
for your address. He said that he would keep the
matter quiet, and intimated that it was possible that
some arrangement might be made ; in fact, he seemed
to say that something might be done out of respect to
my family, and mentioned that the merchant who had
suffered this fraud knew my late father, and held him
in much esteem. It was only at the last moment that
it was discovered by the head partner of the firm that
Duke was the grandson of Gilbert Asher, — too late,
however, to stop the issue of the writ."
" Out of respect to your family, madam ! " thundered
Colonel Leppell, his face crimson with indignation ;
" this is the first time I have heard that you have any
family to boast of — a set of cotton bags. I should
think the family of Lord Hieover would be nearer the
mark. Duke being the grandson of Viscount Hieover,
and the eldest son of the Honourable Colonel Leppell,
should carry weight, I rather think, eh ? "
" In this case not, rather to the contrary," Mrs
Leppell answered, without the least shade of annoy-
ance at the contemptuous mention made by her hus-
band with regard to her own antecedents. " The
respect is for good name, and the memory of an up-
right man. Knowing that my mother has sacrificed
more than half her income to assist you, I wonder at
hunter's lodge. 11
your speaking as you do. Let that pass : you have
mentioned Lord Hieover ; an application has already
been made to him from the Court of Chancery to
know if he can supply any information regarding
" Well, what did he say ? "
" His lordship's answer, it appears, was curt enough.
He knew nothing of the young scamp, nor did he
want to know anything, and, moreover, he was resolved
never to know anything about him. Let him dare to
set his foot in Hieover Grange, the Viscount knew how
to make that residence too hot to hold Mr Leppell.
Your father, in fact, entirely disclaimed and disowned
The Colonel looked rather aghast at this news.
" What is to be done ? " he inquired at length. " /
can't assist him. I knew he was dipped, but I cannot
think that my father would throw him over in that
fashion. For the sake of keeping the thing quiet — for
this covers the whole family with shame — his lordship
must come forward. I'll go over and see him to-mor-
row. It's that sneaking hound Alex, who is in the
way : by Jove ! though, I'm not the man to allow my
brother to oust my son. Not likely ! "
" Your brother is from home, at Wurstede ; he had
nothing to do with this : you are always inclined to
judge Alex, harshly," Mrs Leppell made reply.
" Well, then, if it were not for Duke, I would cut
the Viscount dead, though he is my own father. What
business had he to insist upon Duke joining the
12 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Koyal Goldspinners, if he did not mean to help him
at a pinch ? "
"You know, Ealph, when your father paid all
Duke's expenses, only two years ago, and presented
him with a handsome sum over and above that, he told
us all to understand clearly that he would do nothing
more. I don't suppose that Lord Hieover will even now
withdraw the annual allowance he makes to Duke."
" I don't know," replied Colonel Leppell ; " it would
be just like him if he did : he will be only too glad of
an excuse. The idea of his disowning Duke ! it's dis-
gusting — bad form."
" You must remember, though it is sad to say it,
Duke is in disgrace, charged with embezzling money ;
so, if that comes to your father's ears, the chances are
that Lord Hieover will disclaim the whole of us. As
yet, your father is cognisant of the elopement busi-
ness only ; and he was naturally very much annoyed
at an officer of the Court of Chancery going to
Hieover to seek Duke. It did transpire there that
our son was deeply in debt, but there was no mention
made, of course, of the more serious charge ; that was
the business of the Sheriff's officer."
" Haw ! the writ is the awkward part, and the
accusation of fraudulency : it is dreadful to think of.
Oh, how could he ? how could Duke act in such a
manner ? he has never thought of me ; what could have
bewitched the lad ? But did you not say that this
wretched business might be arranged ? I cannot see
hunter's lodge. 13
She was silent for a moment : her magnificent
eyes dilated, but not in anger ; the working and
twitching of the lines about her mouth evinced
nervousness not unmixed with dread. The slight
hesitation in her speech was increased to a painful
extent as these words dropped from her pale lips —
" There — there is one person in the — the world who
is able and — and quite will — willing to save our
honour, Balph. Don't be violent — don't, do not be
angry. I could not help it, Ealph."
" You are hard hit, Adelaide," said her husband
more kindly, — " very hard hit, and I don't wonder.
Here, take a glass of wine ; " and the Colonel as he
spoke poured out some sherry and carried it round to
where Mrs Leppell sat, and placed the glass in her hand.
He heard her teeth rattle against the edge of the
glass as she swallowed the wine, and marked her
tremble with a cold shiver as she drew her shawl
close around her. As she did not speak, Colonel
Leppell thought to assist her with a leading question.
" Who is going to help us, did you say ? not your
mother, — not Lady Asher, surely ? "
" No, no ; she has done enough," replied Mrs Leppell,
finding voice ; " she cannot, even if she would. You
have had all till her death, and you are not so wicked
as to wish for that."
" Xo ; let the old woman live as long as she likes,"
returned the Colonel, patronisingly ; " she has often
helped me, and I don't want to deny it. But who is
going to come forward now ? "
14 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
"One who owes you neither honour nor justice, not
common consideration even. Many years have passed
away since we both agreed never to name, never to
allude to him : time works strange marvels ! Don't —
don't be violent; I must name him now, — Everard
" Glascott ! " gasped the Colonel, sinking back on his
chair as if he had been shot.
" Yes," she answered resolutely, seeing that for the
moment she had some advantage ; " Everard Glascott,
noble heart, overlooking all, forgiving all, has come
forward, and for my father's sake, — yes, and I dare
to say it, for my sake also, — he will save the honour
of our son."
These words seemed to inspire her with courage, for
now Mrs Leppell looked her husband steadily in the
face, and her speech no longer hesitated ; she was now
calm and resolute.
"Has he written to you?" inquired the Colonel,
rising to his feet and drawing a deep breath. " What
has he to do with all this ? "
" He has written to you, and he has seen me this
day in this room. I wonder I did not drop down and
die for shame. He will save Duke, save exposure,
arrange all ; but, Ealph, there is a price to be paid for
all this, and you must consent to pay it. Wait, — I am
breathless, — that price is — is Mary."
Mrs Leppell uttered the last word with a great
effort, and then remained like one who expects a
raging storm to break forth.
HUNTERS LODGE. 15
* Never ! " — and here Colonel Leppell swore an awful
oath, — "never ! What ! give Mary to him — my beautiful
girl — my heavenly Moll ! He, Mr Glascott, forgets that
he is ten years older than you and I ; he is fifty-eight
years of age : it's wicked, it's monstrous. Give her to
him ! does he think that because he was disappointed of
the mother, he is to be repaid with the daughter ? "
" Stop ! be quiet and don't run on so," cried Mrs
Leppell, putting up her hand with a deprecatory ges-
ture. " It is not as you think ; our daughter is not to
be sold to Mr Glascott — nothing of the kind. His
young cousin, Francis Clavering, met Mary at the
Chichesters last Christmas, and became desperately
enamoured of her ; since that they have met here and
there in- the county."
" What brought him into Yarneshire ? "
"Mr Clavering is making some researches in the
neighbourhood for the Geological Society, and so had
brought several letters of introduction to various
people in the town and county," Mrs Leppell replied.
" Has he made any proposals ? does Moll allow his
attention ? "
" No proposals have been made by Mr Clavering ;
and it is not likely that a girl would speak of a man's
attentions until she is sure that he means something
more than mere acquaintance. The truth is, that Mr
Clavering, knowing of Mr Glascott's strong objection
to you and to your connection, has been cautious in
making advances till he could induce his guardian to
give some kind of countenance to his suit. After
16 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
seeing Mary, it appears young Clavering went to
Paris, and vainly, in spite of entreaty and persua-
sion, sought to soften Mr Glascott. All he could do
then was to promise to make no proposals until Mr
Glascott should see Mary himself, without her know-
" Has he done so ? " asked the Colonel, with a
" Yes ; there was a ball at Frodsham, — you took
Mary yourself, you'll remember. Mr Glascott sat in
the gallery which was erected for the spectators ; he
saw the child, and speedily went his way. Like all
the world, he was charmed with her beauty and
her grace ; but he still could not make up his mind
to consent to Mr Clavering seeking an alliance with
her, his hatred towards the Hieover race was so
" Clavering, Clavering, — it strikes me I have met
the man," said Colonel Leppell suddenly. "Yes, he
dined at Hieover Grange just after the New Year.
He is one of the literati, or illuminati, or gnostics, or
something. He goes lecturing about the country, and
somebody said he was going to be made a professor of
— I forget what. He does not hunt, though ; I wonder
how he got introduced at Hieover."
" I don't know, but his society is sought everywhere.
He is one of the brilliant rising men of the day. He
went to Hieover as a member of the Geological
" Has he any money ? that's the point."
hunter's lodge. 17
" I believe but little of his own at present. He is,
however, Mr Glascott's heir, and the only son of a
first cousin. Xow, listen : for love of this young man
(for Mr Glascott regards him as his son), Everard will
not only forego his enmity against you, but he will
immediately have the writs withdrawn which are out
from the Liverpool Bank against Duke "
" Can he do this ? is this in his power ? " interrupted
" It is in his power, seeing that Mr Glascott is a
sleeping partner in the firm, and has the largest in-
terest in it."
"Curious, by Jove!" exclaimed the Colonel ; "but
what brought Mr Glascott out here ? "
" The fact of your being absent from Yarne. He
called at your office yesterday, and, to save time, find-
ing that you were in London, he came here in a close
carriage, and asked to see me. His revenge has been
" Yes," answered the Colonel slowly ; " but his aid
is a bitter pill for me to swallow. Oh, Duke, what
have you done ? to have to bend, through you, to the
man I hate, and who must hate me ! "
" The injured are ever the first to forgive," returned
Mrs Leppell. " Everard's life since the day we parted
has been devoted to others. Self-sacrifice is a great
softener. This Francis Clavering, and his sister,
Willina, have been for years the objects of his love
and solicitude ; he tells me that a parent's love could
not be stronger than is his for these young people."
VOL. I. B
18 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Are there any more of these Claverings ? "
" No ; these two are the eldest and the youngest of
a large family. Miss Clavering is nearly eighteen ;
the brother is twenty-four."
"The man I met looks older than that. I don't
like the whole thing. Mary must have given him
some encouragement ; it cannot be otherwise, or why
should Mr Clavering think it necessary to entreat
Mr Glascott to overcome his scruples, and consent to
his proposing for Mary as a favour. A girl, too, who
might command a coronet : it is absurd."
" People view things in a different light," Mrs Lep-
pell said. " You know, you have given out that no
one without money is to come near your daughters :
recollect, too, you withdrew your consent, after giving
it in writing, to Henrietta's engagement to Captain
Lasseter ; the consequence was, that they married
without leave. You may not think it, but these
things tell very seriously. No wonder that Mr Clav-
ering was anxious to obtain his cousin's consent ;
without that, there would be no money wherewith to
dower your daughter."
" As the matter stands, is Glascott prepared to pay
down a proper sum in the event of Clavering being
accepted ? "
" He told me," answered Mrs Leppell, " that if
Mary becomes the wife of Mr Clavering, by her own
consent, given in writing, he will make over his small
estate in Lancashire immediately, and settle an ade-
quate sum on his cousin, putting all out of his own
hunter's lodge. 19
power to retract or disannul. It seems Mr Claver-
ing is in a fair way to make a good income soon by
his own talents ; he is a man who loves hard work,
and he has had a brilliant education."
" It is a handsome offer certainly," said the Colonel
after a pause ; " but it goes against the grain, I tell
you — confoundedly against the grain. If it were not
for Duke "
" Mr Glascott proposes to act with more than or-
dinary delicacy in the matter/' interrupted Mrs Lep-
pell ; " for, being convinced that you would refuse
anything in the shape of a settlement coming from
him, he intends to convey the estate of Tring absol-
utely to his cousin ; the money present is, I think, to
take the form of an allowance. The payment of
Duke's liabilities will be made in memory of the
generosity of my father, who, as Mr Glascott remind-
ed me, was the person through whose influence he was
placed in the position which has led to his making
the ample fortune which he now enjoys."
" And he does all this for gratitude, and for nothing-
more ? " said the Colonel suspiciously.
" He does," the wife answered steadily. " Disap-
pointed of his own heart's desire, Everard Glascott
will not stand in the way of another man's love, nor
cast a blight upon the prospects of a younger man's
life. Firm in this, and strong in good purpose, he
sought you out ; strong also in his respect for me," —
and here the colour mounted in Mrs Leppell's face, —
" with reverence for my position as a wife and mother >
20 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
he came under this roof to-day. He greeted me as
a grey-haired old man, ten years my senior — gener-
ously using the age with which you were wont to
taunt him as the halo by virtue of which he could
enter our home and seek speech of me. He came,
moreover, to save our son, and to make reconciliation
with — with you."
" Did either your mother or ' Bothero ' see him ? "
Colonel Leppell always spoke of Prothero as Bothero ;
it was his weak way of showing how much he disliked
his mother-in-law's maid.
" No ; my mother was out in her donkey-chair, and
Prothero was with her, of course. Little Arthur was
the only child with me in the drawing-room, when
Mr Glascott's card was brought in."
" You have promised nothing, then ? "
" Nothing ; I have waited to see you."
" He, Mr Glascott, has written to me, you say ? "
inquired the Colonel, raking the fire.
" He was to write to you from the Eed Lion Hotel,
where he is now staying : Mr Clavering joins him
there to-morrow. The latter will either call upon
you, or write to you proposing for Mary, as soon as
possible, on his arrival at Yarne."
" I don't like this — I don't like it at all : there must
be some understanding between Mr Clavering and
Moll, or how could things come to fall into this
arrangement ? It is too late to-night, or I would have
Mary down and question her."
"Do nothing of the kind," enjoined Mrs Leppell;
HUNTER'S lodge. 21
" wait till the letters come, and don't tease Mary. It
would be so unwise, Balph, to force the child into a
confession of even a preference for Mr Clavering. She
will naturally resent the imputation, and it would set
her against the match. Be careful : as far as I know,
she has no particular liking for any one ; now if you
set her against the Clavering suit, what becomes of
Duke ? "
This little bit of diplomacy had its effect. The
Colonel pshawed, and tossed and rattled the fire-irons.
He could find no way out of this dilemma ; and so
he easily promised Mrs Leppell to be silent on the
subject with their daughter, till a more convenient
season, at all events. Then the Colonel flung out of
the room, calling back to his wife that she had better
come to bed, for there was no use in sitting up there
She rose up to follow him, but a shaking of her
limbs, and a tremor that pervaded her whole frame,
caused her to slide down to the floor. Eaising herself,
by a strong effort, to her knees, she drew herself
along, and laid her head upon the table. There the
pent-up waters of her grief burst forth, and she wept
and sobbed, as she had never done since her boys lay
dead upon their nursery beds when her married years
" It has all come together, so much at once," she
cried, raising her head, and turning round as the
faithful voice of the waiting-maid fell on her ear. " It
is too much, Prothero ; let me — let me have my cry
22 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
out, or my heart will break. Duke ! Duke ! and
Mary — oh! I can tell no more. Prothero, stay by
me ; I shall be the better for weeping, sorrow has
made me numb so long, — so long."
" Yes, yes, cry on, dear," said the maid soothingly ;
" don't mind me. I understand it all, — Duke and the
debts ; and the Colonel so unreasonable — so very hard
to manage. I saw the Sheriffs officer and guessed
there was some trouble, but I thought it wiser not to
let on that I suspected anything. I suppose Duke is
more dipped than ever, and the family won't pay."
" Yes, yes, that is it," answered the poor lady be-
tween her sobs — in her agony still shielding her
erring child from the graver fact ; " it may be put
right, but this is his greatest difficulty." '
" Never dwell upon it," returned the attendant ;
* perhaps, after all, Lord Hieover will help for your
sake ; he is fond of you." And so Mrs Leppell was
soothed by degrees, till at length, utterly worn out and
prostrate, she lay on the sofa in deep sleep, and
Prothero watched over her there till the morning
The cold shimmer which precedes the dawn in its
time pervaded the room in which Mrs Leppell was
laid, sleeping the sleep of exhaustion. It warned the
faithful watcher to cover her charge more closely, and
to bethink herself also how best to act for the coming
hours, — for Prothero knew full well that the dwellers
in Hunter's Lodge, stimulated by the presence of its
master, would all be early astir. Certain she also
was that the weighty trouble which had so pros-
trated Mrs Leppell would break out in much irri-
tation and complaint on the part of the Colonel
against everything and everybody that came in his
It was the habit of that officer to throw off his own
annoyances by afflicting the spirits of all with whom
he happened to come in contact, and Prothero's long
experience, added to the little which she had discovered
on the previous night, convinced her that something
more weighty than even debts, duns, or the withdrawal
24 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
of Lord Hieover's countenance, was looming over the
" Come what may," communed this faithful servitor,
" it is my duty to look after the ladies and the dear
children : the Colonel and Duke are a pair, and they
are quite able to fight their own battles."
Thus ruminating, Prothero rose, and having satis-
fied herself that her mistress still slept, she crept to
Lady Asher's chamber. Finding all as usual there,
she hurried to a small room on the ground-floor which
was appropriated to chance visitors, lighted a fire, and
arranged the apartment for the immediate occupation
of Mrs Leppell.
This done, Prothero ascended the stair-case, vali-
antly opened the door of the dormitory which was dedi-
cated to the heads of the household, and cautiously
The Colonel, to her great satisfaction, was snoring lus-
tily, with his head buried beneath the bed-coverings.
This was the moment in which to seize some articles
necessary for the toilet of Mrs Leppell ; and her maid
at the same time deftly drew the window-curtains
closer, and moved a folding screen some feet nearer to
" The longer he sleeps, the better for all of us,"
thought Prothero, as she darted from point to point, in
evident fear lest the sleeper should awake suddenly
and surprise her. None knew better than she how
loudly the Colonel would exult should he find her
overstepping the boundary of her own province ; and
though she had lately nursed him through a dangerous
illness, that service would offer no palliation of the
crime of intruding at this time unauthorised on his
It should be stated, to be accurate, that these two
hated the one the other, and the feeling was intensi-
fied on Colonel Leppell's part, because through years
of annoyance, and at times of positive insult, the maid
steadily held to her place, and eventually had come to
know too much of the ways and works of the Leppell
race to be safely dispensed with. Besides, if Prothero
departed, Lady Asher would depart likewise, and the
meaning of that Hegira would be the withdrawal of
four hundred pounds a-year, this being the amount
which her ladyship paid for the accommodation of
herself and maid at Hunter's Lodge.
In addition to this, Prothero could, if she chose,
supply the place of any domestic in the household
who might chance to be summarily dismissed, or elect
to take that leave which is usually denominated
" French " ; and transformation-scenes of this nature
were not unfrequent in Colonel Leppell's house. The
woman was devoted to the ladies and to the children,
and she was remarkable for being the one of the
household who, on her own account, stood the least
in awe of Colonel Leppell. Prothero had always care-
fully avoided giving her master direct offence, and had
endured her share of abuse from that officer (when
he, in his impartiality, stormed at the family all round)
with the most exemplary imperturbability. This for-
26 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
bearance was exercised entirely out of affection for
Mrs Leppell, and as it served, in a measure, to alle-
viate some portion of the fault - finding which was
not unfrequently directed towards the mistress of the
house, Prothero was, in consequence, much esteemed
by all the denizens of Hunter's Lodge, and the most
unruly of its sons declared that "he would stand a
good deal from old ' Bothero,' because she didn't care a
rap for the governor, and always stuck up for ma."
A kind of armed neutrality at this time subsisted
between the Colonel and Prothero, her attention dur-
ing his late illness having somewhat mollified the
great dislike which he had constantly borne her.
During many years he had designated her " Bothero,"
and as his boys took up the cry, she had become ac-
customed to accept this as her proper cognomen, strong
in the conviction that, were her place vacant, a very
important factor in the Leppell household would be
with difficulty replaced.
Colonel Leppell also chose to give credence to a
little legend with regard to his mother-in-law's atten-
dant, which he thought to square with her undisguised
disapprobation of his own conduct and that of his
eldest son, Marmaduke.
Prothero's first introduction to the family had been
as lady's-maid to Mrs Leppell in the first years of her
married life. The growing expenses, which demanded
nurses and under-nurses and school fees, had later on
obliged Mrs Leppell to dispense with a purely per-
sonal attendant, and in consequence Prothero was
transferred to Lady Asher, who, being lame, and also
not being very prolific in mental resource, necessarily
required a person of superior education about her who
could act in the capacity of companion as well as
On first entering Mrs Leppell's service, Prothero
had been sad and depressed, and, for a young woman,
strangely reserved. It was remarked also that she
never had any ready money, and that she was always
more silent than usual after receiving letters which
bore an American post-mark.
Nothing, however, could be elicited from her except
that her father's home was uncomfortable owing to
the presence of a step-mother, and that in consequence
of this she and her sisters had sought service early.
Her recommendations as to character and efficiency
were of the first order ; and if any trouble weighed on
her mind, she communicated it to no living soul. At
length it leaked out, through one of those channels of
talk of which there is neither finding the beginning
nor the end, that Prothero had married a vagabond
gipsy, and that she paid him a certain sum yearly on
the understanding that he would never come near her.
Anne Prothero was a fairly good-looking woman ; and,
as she persistently declined all the proposals she had
made to her of changing her name, some colour was
thereby given to the report.
The ladies of the Leppell family had never hinted at
this knowledge ; but the Colonel, in one of his fits of
wrath, had come out with this history, by way of
28 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
accusing the woman of living under false pretences.
The look which she gave him as he spoke — long, stern,
and defiant — was one which he had never seen directed
towards him by female 1 face; and the tone in which
she denounced him as a " cowardly spy," was such as
to affect even the Colonel's strong nerves, which were
not to be shaken generally by a trifle.
Prothero's portion, however, would have been instant
dismissal had Colonel Leppell been in a position to
afford such retaliation; but there was Lady Asher's
yearly payment to be considered, and the certain
knowledge also that adieu for ever, maid, would be
inevitably adieu for ever, Lady Asher; and, this step
taken, even Adelaide's persuasions would never suf-
fice to recall her mother as a permanent resident of
Some sort of amende honorable was eventually made
through the medium of Mrs Leppell for her husband's
hasty speech ; and the Colonel argued himself into the
belief that the wrongs which Prothero had suffered at
the hands of mankind were the main reason for the
damsel's want of appreciation of himself and of his
eldest son. He was good enough also to remark that,
if his feeling towards the woman sometimes mounted
to actual hostility, he remembered her services, and
concluded to put up with her.
A knock resounded at the door of Colonel Leppell's
room a little before eight o'clock ; this knock was
repeated with the precision and force of a sledge-
hammer, and aroused that warrior into fiercely de-
nianding, " Wlio the devil is there ? " and, " Where,
where on earth has Mrs Leppell got to ? "
These inquiries were answered by the appearance
of his groom, who brought a note written in pencil,
which he stuffed into his master's hand. " Mrs Pro-
thero gave me this," the lad said, " and you are to read
The note contained a few lines written by Mrs Lep-
pell three hours before, stating that, being disturbed
in the night by illness, she had retired to the spare
room, and that, feeling then disposed to sleep, she
begged him to allow her to remain quiet for a few
hours. Mary would attend to the breakfast.
Meanwhile Ben, the groom, after depositing his
master's boots and shaving-water in their respective
places, made for the door, but not before the sten-
torian tones of Colonel Leppell's voice recalled him to
attend to orders.
" Take Sally and ride into Yarne for the letters —
or you may as well drive the dogcart and go straight
to the station for my portmanteau ; you will find it in
the parcels office. If you are too early for the mail
delivery, wait at the office till it comes in. Don't go
skylarking about the town, and tell Miss Mary to get
the household assembled for family prayers at a quarter
to nine. Look sharp ! "
" Yes, Colonel." The man departed with a grin on
his face, which the mention of family prayers had called
The erratic devotions at Hunter's Lodge, which were
30 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
dignified by the name of family prayers, were unto Mrs
Leppell even as lions in the path. Old Lady Asher
had been present at them once (the institution was of
recent date), and this was the alpha and omega of her
attendance; and Prothero had denounced the whole
thing, as conducted by the Colonel, as being little
short of rank blasphemy, and a decided tempting of
Providence. The children and servants endured the
orations inflicted on them in a semi-martyr and semi-
comic spirit, the great achievement being to preserve a
becoming gravity, and to be careful not to be caught
in the indulgence of any outward and visible sign of
The signal for prayers had become interpreted by
the family in general as something being wrong with
the governor; and thus when he descended to the
breakfast-room, he found an uncommonly clear coast,
owing to the stampede which Ben's news had oc-
casioned among the children. Testaments, however,
were opened, and set with their faces upturned, each
on a file of chairs, which were drawn up with soldier-
like precision at the end of the room ; and a face from
the garden was looking in at the half-opened window,
ready to give the signal when the commanding officer
Such a face ! framed with real golden hair ! hair so
bright and silky that it would seem as if Aurora had
massed the sunbeams in her hand and showered them
down to crown the young, whom the ancient story tells
us she ever favoured and ever loved. The clear dark-
grey eyes, which looked violet in some lights, contrast-
ed well with the delicate yet healthy colouring of the
skin. The clean-cut nostrils and beautiful curve of
the chin could only be rivalled by the small shell-like
ear and the round pillar-like throat. A graceful figure,
elastic and lissome, which was confined in a simple
dress suitable to her years, testified that Mary Leppell
was in the enjoyment of pure good health.
No wonder, that her admirers had toasted her as
" heavenly Moll." She might, as she stood there,
have been sculptured as the goddess Hygieia, watch-
ing and waiting to scatter health and beauty on all
the sons and daughters of the earth.
" That's right, Moll," the Colonel said, as he spied
her on his entrance into the breakfast-room ; " have
'em all in — make haste, there's a good girl. Where
are those young scamps of boys ? "
"Dick," said the girl, turning round to a boy of
fourteen, who was riding on a fence, " run quick ; the
A rush, a scuffle on the gravel, and Dick, with a
glowing, rosy face, is in the morning-room in a second
" That's right, my boy," said the father ; " glad to
see you so punctual. There will be a blessing upon
you. You know the sons of Aminadab, — or some-
body, — they had a blessing for ever "
" Oh, those were the water-drinking parties, pa,"
explained Master Dick.
"Yes; haw, now I remember. I must have been
32 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
thinking of the man who prayed punctually for rain,
and — and — got it."
" Yes, pa ; but don't you think he deserved more
credit for sticking to his work ? He prayed three
years" said Dick, in a tone of extreme astonishment,
" and never gave in. I'll look up the passage."
" Do so, my boy," returned the Colonel, with an air
of extreme wisdom ; " it is always well to be able to
verify one's statements."
Meanwhile the household trooped in by units and
twos, and were greeted with a nod here and there,
supplemented by a pat on the head for the younger
children ; for the Colonel was very fond of the little
ones of the family, and very rarely made his presence
a tangible terror to them.
As he surveyed his congregation he missed two of
its members. "Where is Langton and that stable-
boy ? " inquired the Colonel, fiercely ; " they ought to
be here. It's no use their thinking that because they
are outdoor servants they are exempt from family wor-
ship. Dick, get the horn and sound a summons in the
direction of the stables."
Dick, nothing loth, darted into the hall, followed by
Fritz, and a short struggle took place between these
young gentlemen for the possession of the instrument.
The contest ended in favour of Dick, and there was
nothing left for Fritz to do but to return to the room
and get his head rapped by his parent for leaving
it without permission. This delicate attention Fritz
received without wincing, but he privately scored a
resolve to have a turn at the horn on the first op-
"Tra-li-ra ! tra-li-ra ! ra-ra-rgr!" re-echoed in space,
vocally accompanied by the Colonel, as he thrust his
head out at the window, and repeated the notes thus
blown with stentorian effect and accuracy.
" Tri-li-ra ! lali-ra ! lali-ra ! la-li-ra-ra ! " again bel-
lowed the horn, and this last call produced a helper
from the stable-yard, who got himself into a stable-
jacket as he slouched leisurely along.
Behind came Jack, the lad, evidently shirking and
This was too much for Colonel Leppell. Dashing
through the window, he rushed towards the unlucky
groom, and turning sharply round, he drove him before
him as if he had been a horse or a cow. " D — n you,
come to prayers ! didn't you hear the horn, you
rascal ? " and with this and other choice adjurations
the reverse of complimentary, Jack was propelled into
the room, and crushed down on a vacant seat in the
file of chairs.
" Now, then," said the Colonel, after recovering
himself a little, " steady ; tenth chapter of the Acts,
eh ? "
" Yes, Colonel," from the congregation.
" Well, mind now. I read the first verse, and the
whole of you will read the next one together. Keep
the time — not one after the other, but together.
Never mind if any one read badly ; the rest will help
a stumbler along."
vol. i. c
34 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
So the master began, and the chapter was read
throughout with a reverence and attention hardly to
be expected under the circumstances.
At the close the Colonel said, " I won't bother with
the Commentary. I don't believe in commentaries as
a rule ; and the one you have placed here, Mary," he
continued, addressing his daughter, " is written by a
woman, a Mrs Biddle, — ought to be Mrs Fiddle. Con-
found her ! what business has a woman to write a
commentary ? very unscriptural, and flying in the face
of St Paul — or Timothy. Put that book in the fire,
or anywhere you like, but don't bring commentaries
written by a woman in here." So saying, the unfor-
tunate Commentary was hurled into Miss Leppell's
" Now," went on the Colonel, " I want you all to
take notice that the man we have been reading about
was a soldier, and that an angel was especially sent to
this soldier, and that soldiers are mentioned with
respect throughout Scripture.
" We don't read of angels being sent to parsonesses,
though it is the fashion in cathedral towns to glorify
these people a great deal too much. Now mind, when
you hear the military run down, do you think of
Cornelius, and that his alms were had in remembrance
in the Lord's sight. Then there were Abner and
Joshua — the latter a capital general, — both Scripture
soldiers, and highly favoured ; and Jehu — no, I rather
think Jehu was celebrated for his driving — it doesn't
matter ; the fighting men of Israel crop up in all
directions through the Bible. You will remember all
this, won't you ? because being deluged with clergy-
women as we are, it is a Christian duty to stick to our
own profession and be able to give Bible reasons for
honouring the military in every possible way."
The congregation collectively affirmed that they
would remember; and Dick audibly proclaimed his
admiration for General Stonewall Jackson on the
spot, averring "that it was a shame that warrior
could not be put into the Bible with the rest of them."
The Colonel bestowed an approving grin on his son,
and then ordered him to hold his tongue.
" Kneel down all of you," said the master of the
house, " and when I pray for all persons in general, I
ask you to pray for my son Marmaduke in particular ;
repeat after me at the proper time."
A short exordium appropriate to the day of the
week was read, and after that the Lord's prayer was
repeated by all. A pause — and then the Colonel pro-
ceeded : " We ask for special guidance for our absent
one, Marmaduke Leppell. May he succeed in all his
undertakings, may his troubles be averted, and may
all his enemies be confounded. Amen."
" Now, cook, look sharp and devil the kidneys," was
the next injunction, as the assemblage rose from their
knees. "Moll, make the breakfast; I'll just go and
see after the bull-terrier pup meanwhile.
" Dick and Clara can breakfast with us ; all the rest
disperse." So the chamber was cleared and the train
disappeared, and Fritz and the stable-lad conferred
36 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
together in a safe corner of the stables, and came to
the conclusion that Marmacluke must either be in
" quod " for disobedience of orders, or that he had
caught the typhus fever.
Fritz rather inclined to the latter hypothesis, be-
cause his brother had mentioned in his last letter that
this disease was rampant in the town whereat the
Royal Goldspinners were quartered.
" Anyhow, we must trust in Providence," remarked
Fritz resignedly ; " it won't do to ask the governor any
questions just now. I know him ; he is in one of his
" Be as well if a hangel were sent to he, I am
thinking," replied the stable-lad, who had not forgotten
the unceremonious treatment which he had lately
received. " Though the Colonel is your pa, Master
Fritz, I makes bold to say that the way he goes on at
passons is orful ; I do."
" Oh, that does not matter much," Fritz replied
soothingly. " The governor thinks that Mr Vane is
going in for Popery, and he hates Mother Braintree
because she is a meddling busybody, and lays down
the law to the Dean and Chapter of Yarne, through
her old man, you know. I believe she even went so
far as to tackle the governor because she heard him
rap out an oath one day when he was drilling the
pensioners in the cathedral square, and desired him
to remember that she was in residence. A good
joke ! no wonder the governor has a fling at the
' parsonesses,' as he calls them."
Mr Yane was clergyman of the parish of Blythe, and
had only lately been inducted into the living. The
value of this piece of preferment was sixty pounds a-
year, and had not Mr Yane possessed some private
means of his own, he could not have accepted the cure.
He was an earnest, kindly man ; and the symptoms of
Popery with which Colonel Leppell accredited him
were, that he had morning prayers every Wednesday
and Friday in Blythe Church, and that he pulled the
bell himself to call the parishioners to these devotions.
Further, Mr Yane had presumed to do his duty, and
impress upon the farmers and others who attended
Blythe Church that a more suitable place must be
found than the communion-table as a receptacle for
greatcoats or umbrellas, wet or dry.
The Hunter's Lodge pew was of the loose horse-box
pattern, and had formerly contained a fireplace for
the especial delectation of the Squire's family, when a
Squire of Blythe was there to occupy it. The present
owner of Blythe was abroad ; and, in consequence,
the tenant of Hunter's Lodge was adjudged the right
of occupying the seat of the Squire in the parish
On the wall, just above the north side of this square,
a tablet was plastered which bore the following re-
markable inscription : —
" In Memory of S. P. Q.
" He was — words are wanting to say what :
Think of what Father, Husband, Friend should be,
And he was that."
38 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Colonel Leppell, when lie attended the service at
Blythe Church, sat immediately under this tablet,
which, because it was the wonder and amusement of
all strangers, he eulogised as being very plain and
evangelical. "jSTo cross — no carving — no flummery
about it," he would say ; and from this coign of van-
tage he narrowly scanned, with an eye like Mars,
what he was pleased to call Mr Vane's "goings on,"
to the great discomfort of that good and conscientious
The lady, disrespectfully referred to by Fritz as
Mother Braintree, was the wife of a newly appointed
canon of Yarne Cathedral, who laboured under the
delusion that the transition, for three months in the
year, from a London parish to a house set especially
apart for the use of the resident canon in Yarne was
equal to a patent of nobility, and a licence, not only
to associate with, but to be recognised as being one of,
the county families. At this time (twenty years ago)
it was not unusual to meet with the wives of country
clergymen, who, if they chanced to be of good birth,
assumed all the airs of the landed gentry — such as
declining to visit in the county town, and regarding
cle haut en has the spouses of clergymen of the
city parishes, especially if their husbands acted as
master of a school, either public or private.
The cathedral clergy — that is, the portion of that
body who were recognised as the " dignified clergy " —
were, of course, exempted from this ostracism, which,
while it went far to form a purely ecclesiastical clique,
was little calculated to produce examples of Christian
courtesy, and that large-hearted charity which is to be
especially required of the holders of spiritual good
The progress of education, and the broader views of
the present time, especially in the matter of political
economy, have in a measure stamped out what, in some
instances, was an absurd anomaly, and in others a
gross abuse. People are beginning to question the
propriety of allowing clergy, holding a living and a
residence in one part of the country, to occupy a
good house for quarter of the year in a cathedral town,
and leave it either untenanted or occupied by their
relations for the other three-quarters of that period.
In Yarne no less than four houses were thus set aside
for the use of the four cathedral canons : and Colonel
Leppell was not far wrong when he expressed his
opinion that one house should suffice for this quar-
tette — thus giving more room for charitable institu-
tions and schools, or for any work (had they so pleased)
which would have been in harmony with the Dean and
Chapter of the Cathedral.
If this were not necessary — as it was then argued —
it were very easy to let the houses, and there were
plenty of poor and suffering to whom the proceeds of
the rent would have been a blessing indeed.
It is but fair to state that the canons themselves
had discussed this subject, and had rather leaned to
40 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the idea of accepting one house, to be occupied in turn
as their several terms of residence fell due. But their
wives took a very different view of the subject, and
were, to a woman, furious at the bare mention of such
a proposition. They were so keenly alive to the
dignity and consequence of the Cathedral Chapter —
to the dignity of the whole Church, in fact, — what
could possess a son of Lord Hieover to put such an
idea into their husbands' heads ? Why, the Bishop
himself had two residences — the palace at Yarne and
the palace at Wurstede — and the Bishop's wife had
proclaimed herself to be equal to both dioceses.
" The idea was preposterous," argued Mrs Canon
Hetherby ; " let Colonel Leppell mind his own busi-
ness, and be content to drill his pensioners in the
cathedral square." She said this as if the locality
sufficed to throw the mantle ecclesiastic at once over
the commanding officer and the whole of the body that
there assembled under arms.
Mrs Braintree had arrived in the diocese of Yarne
in the character of a woman of business, and she had
lost no time in giving ocular demonstration of her
capability to maintain a reputation of being thoroughly
up to work.
As the wife of a rector of a London parish, this lady
had borne her part with sincere zeal ; and being fond
of employment, and loyally and literally magnifying
her husband's office, she had managed the parish so
successfully, and had thereby earned so much respect
and deference, that it was hardly to be wondered at if
she at times demeaned herself as a clerk in feminine
orders — as far as the assumption of authority and the
giving of advice went. It was to her credit also that
she never assumed her husband's position, and that all
her acts were performed as coming with his sanction
and approbation, although it was known, by those be-
hind the scenes, that Mr Braintree never acted so
wisely as when he was guided in the performance of
his duties by the counsel of his wife ; and also, that a
good portion of her daily task consisted of smoothing
down difficulties, and mollifying the ire of persons,
raised mostly by the utter want of tact which the
reverend gentleman usually displayed in the common
affairs of life. He was a good man, and a kind one to
those whom he liked, but he was given to take un-
warrantable prejudices — and so the best side of his
character was only appreciated by his intimate friends.
In person, Mr Braintree irresistibly reminded the be-
holder of the leaning tower of Pisa — so tall, and so out
of the perpendicular, was his build. But he bore the
impress of a gentleman ; and in perfect good faith and
courtesy he resolved, like his wife, to set everybody
and everything to rights when he should enter into
residence as canon of Yarne.
With their experience it was naturally a matter of
surprise to this couple, on further acquaintance with
the regime with which Mr Braintree's preferment had
amalgamated them, to find that the canons' wives were
42 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
as ignorant as the cathedral stones regarding the vice
and misery which reigned rampant under the very
shadow of its towers. True, they subscribed to char-
ities, and they had some of the goody-goody women
to tea (and how these women toadied them, let those
who then dwelt in Yarne testify) : but no, they did not
visit the poor personally ; they did not consider that
they belonged to the place ; they were only in resi-
dence three months in the year, &c. Such was the
burden of their song ; and Mrs Canon Heatherby,
whose husband was master of a hall at one of the
universities, blandly informed Colonel Leppell, on his
application to her for five shillings for a sick soldier,
that she really only looked upon their stay at Yarne
" as a kind of picnic, — they never, in fact, even brought
down their plate."
" The college plate I suppose you refer to, madam ? "
the Colonel had ungallantly replied ; " still, I think, as
your husband draws seven hundred a-year from the
cathedral revenues, you will hardly refuse me a trifle
for my poor soldier."
This shamed the lady into doubling the amount
which he asked for: but she ever afterwards de-
nounced Colonel Leppell as a man of the most pecu-
liar ideas ; whilst he, in his turn, sang pseans over the
Catholic clergy, who, however he might differ from
them in theology, he respected for knowing better
than to be hampered with the nuisance of clergy women
in the shape of wives. " Sensible men, very sensible
men!" he would remark. Mrs Braintree, having ven-
tured to reproach him for swearing at his soldiers in
the cathedral precincts, some time afterwards, rather
strengthened his dislike towards the parsonesses, as
he called them. In his heart of hearts, however, he
respected the lady for having done (in a wrong way)
the right thing ; and he always insisted that, if Mrs
Braintree did interfere in things spiritual, she spent
the income of the canonry in Yarne — and that was a
precious deal more than could be said for the other
three factors of the quartette which composed the
wives of canons prebendal of Yarne ; to wit, Lady
Smirke, Mrs Varnishe, and Mrs Canon Heatherby, —
the latter lady being called Mrs Canon in right of her
husband being the longest appointed canon on the list.
Colonel Leppell, after seeing that the bull-terrier
pup was in a satisfactory condition, returned, with the
little beast on one arm and his youngest daughter
Julia on the other, to the breakfast-room. A fondness
for young things of all kinds was one of the Colonel's
redeeming qualities ; but in this, as in all else, he was
apt to run into inconsistency.
Miss Julia would have been better in the nursery,
and the pup in the stable at this time, seeing that be-
tween them the milk -jug was upset, and the pup
obligingly vandyked a side of the tablecloth, as a
hint to the company that all his teeth were well to
At length the little girl, choked by a piece of hot
44 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
kidney which had been rammed into her month by
her inconsiderate parent, grew black in the face, and
kicked like a bnll of Bashan ; and Dick had to hold
her over the window, and thump and shake her till
the piece was pumped up.
The next thing for Miss Julia to do was to howl
lustily, and inveigh against her family in the most
energetic manner. " I wish I was a clock, I do — nasty
papa ! " cried this infant. " I wish I was a clock,
and I would not go for you — no, I would not go for
you — no ! "
This was particularly hard on the Colonel, for it
was one of his fancies to wind up and otherwise
regulate all the clocks and watches in the house. He
even at times took them to pieces, and of course he
never could, by any chance, set them up again. The
winding and striking and ticking that went on at in-
tervals was a terror to the household, and as the
nursery clock had persistently stood still for a fort-
night after the master's latest manipulations, it was
very possible that Miss Julia had heard some remarks
on that subject which were not intended to travel
outside the nursery door.
The pup had taken advantage of this diversion to
make short runs at the heels of his owner, incited
probably thereto by the screams of Miss Julia. A
speedy eviction followed ; and the child and the ani-
mal howled in concert on the door-mat in the hall, till
a passing nursemaid rescued the pair.
i: I am going to the ' den,' and shall smoke there,"
said Colonel Leppell to his son, as they rose from the
breakfast-table. " When Ben returns, send him there
to me. Mary, go and see if your mother is awake :
if she is, tell her I will come to her after the letters
It was a positive relief to Colonel Leppell when, freed
from the presence of his family, he could, unseen and
with his pipe for company, ponder over the unfor-
tunate position of his son, and make some attempt to
extricate that youth from his difficulties without accept-
ing the aid which had been offered in so unexpected a
manner. But ponder and pshaw and exclaim as the Col-
onel would and did, the stern fact of his utter helpless-
ness to extricate Marmacluke from his embarrassments
still confronted him. There was no way to evade the
difficulty, no solution of the problem but that of accept-
ing the proposition made to his wife by his quondam
foe, Everard Glascott, — a man whom he had scan-
dalously ill-used, years ago, in the literal interpretation
of the game of all being fair in love and war. There
was only one comfort in the matter, and that was, that
he more than discharged a quid pro quo by giving
his beautiful daughter to the cousin of the man who had
so generously — so romantically — come forward to aid
SOME RETROSPECTION. 47
him and screen his son. Then the Colonel worked
himself into the belief that he was, on his part, doing
a generous and self-sacrificing thing in even enter-
taining an idea of the match with Mr Clavering.
" Mr Clavering, indeed ! " he exclaimed aloud. " What
a sinking in poetry ! haw ! — I had intended Moll to be
a Vicountess at least. If I had but known, I would
not have allowed her to refuse Lord Duffer. I won-
der what Moll thinks of this man Clavering, — it's all
I can do to keep my wits/' soliloquised the poor
Colonel, as he in vain endeavoured to get matters
righted in his mental vision in the course of summing
them up. " Marmaduke charged with obtaining money
under false pretences, writs out against him ; Glascott
a sleeping partner in the firm who are prosecuting
him — there's a special interposition of Providence in
that though — and finally Marmaduke running off with
an heiress, and being caught before the end of the
journey, and the bride taken back by her friends.
The thunders of the Court of Chancery were light
in comparison with this piece of humiliation : besides,
what would or could the Lord Chancellor do ? After
all, it only amounted to contempt of Court, and
he didn't believe they would imprison Marmaduke
for that," argued the father to himself. " In fact, I
don't believe the Court of Chancery would bother
about it ; it's the absurd prejudice people have against
the army which is at the bottom of it. No doubt the
girl's friends are roturiers, and want to keep her for
some vulgarian of their own breed, — that's all about it.
48 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
But I do wish, for all that, some news from Marnia-
duke himself would turn up."
So musing, Colonel Leppell took down a law-book,
and rummaged among its pages to see if he could glean
any information therefrom regarding the abduction
of wards in Chancery. He was thus busily employed
when he heard the clatter of horse's hoofs.
It would have been in accordance with his usual
habit had he started out hatless to meet the mes-
senger, for he instinctively felt that Ben had returned.
Now he rose up, and quickly resumed his seat; a
slight pallor overspread his features, and he trembled
perceptibly. Were there any letters ? perhaps, after
all, there were none : he almost wished the latter
might be the case, — it would be better in this instance
to remain in ignorance, than know the worst.
So argued the man ; a woman would rather possess
complete knowledge, and seek to know the worst.
Thus both husband and wife, though apart in the
same house, waited for the tidings which the return
of the groom would bring.
Ben dismounted, and being waylaid by Dick, who
seized the reins and drove to the stables, at once took
his way to the " den " with the letter-bag. He was
allowed to knock twice at the door of that retreat
before permission to enter was accorded. Little given
to dissimulation, generally speaking, the Colonel at
this moment appeared to be deeply absorbed in his
researches, his head being lowered almost between the
pages of his book, and his voice giving utterance to
SOME RETROSPECTION. 49
vague and detached words : thus he received the letter-
bag, without even looking at the bearer.
" Put it down there," he said to the groom. " By
the by, did you bring back my portmanteau ? "
" Yes, Colonel, it is in the dogcart ; " and thus re-
plying, the lad turned to go out.
"Wait a moment," cried the master, looking up
suddenly ; " there may be letters here for Mrs Leppell
and the others. Ah ! yes — one, two, three — one for
Miss Leppell." This missive the Colonel scanned
narrowly before placing it on the packet with the rest.
The handwriting bore a wonderful resemblance to
that in which an epistle to himself was addressed.
" Miss Kate Bubb, Hunter's Lodge, Blythe, forsooth !
who the deuce is Miss Kate Bubb ? "
'■ The new kitchen-maid, Colonel," answered Ben,
rather reluctantly, for he expected a storm.
" Tell Miss Kate Bubb, with my compliments, that
she had better instruct her correspondents to make
some mention of the name of the family whom she
serves when they address letters to her. What is the
world coming to ? Why, that brat was in the village
school only two months ago, wasn't she ? "
" I think so, Colonel ; but ye see she's ignorant,
and hasn't had much training in the fine work, sir,"
" True," returned the Colonel amiably, for Ben
(being a soldier) was rather a favourite. " After all,
it does not do to teach 'em too much fine work, as you
call it — not just at first, I mean. At any rate, just you
VOL. I. L>
50 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
show Miss Kate Bubb how her letters are to be ad-
dressed ; and if you can't make her understand, send
her to me."
Ben thought he could undertake this office, knowing
full well that Miss Bubb would rather fly the country
than risk a tete-a-tete with Colonel Leppell in the re-
cesses of his den. The groom was, however, not sorry
to have the schooling of this young person, as he had
on several previous occasions warned the kitchen-
maid that it would be more becoming were she less
free with the names of the surrounding gentry. He
had even taken the trouble to point out to this auda-
cious young female that " Wildmere's people " was not
the manner by which the family of Sir Morris Wild-
mere should be indicated, any more than the informa-
tion that Dr Trimmings, the physician of Yarne, should
be reported as " Trimmings coming to dinner " ; in the
same breath, too, with Mr Tartar, the travelling tin-
smith, who was coming to scrape the kitchen kettles !
It must be one of the outlets of the doctrine of com-
pensation, this mania persons of low degree almost
invariably have for mutilating the names and con-
temptuously handling the state of persons of position,
and, conversely, liberally glorifying the cognomen and
walk of life of those whom Providence has ordained
to be hewers of wood and drawers of water.
" Mr Lumps, the coal-heaver, thinks this ; and old
Carew (Sir Cecil Carew) up there (Mount's Manor),
thinks the other thing." In this respect the mode of
expression of twenty years ago is not improved, and
SOME RETROSPECTION. 51
education has yet to bear upon minds which riot in
the delusion that flippant ignorant impertinence to-
wards others is a mark of supreme independence.
To do Blythe and its neighbourhood justice, no one
had ever been known to designate Colonel Leppell
otherwise than by his proper title, or as the " Colonel."
In his own family the governor or " he " was equiva-
lent to some recognition of his position ; but people
were very chary of using the pronoun when the noun
proper was within ear-shot, and thus Miss Bubb's
familiarities alarmed, as much as they scandalised,
Ben Piifles the groom. He now leaves the room on his
mission of reformation to Miss Bubb ; and his master,
as soon as the door is closed, turns and takes up his
The first is merely a bill. " To bill delivered " is its
announcement, and the sender respectfully bespeaks
Colonel Leppell's attention to the fact that this is the
third time of asking for payment. The account is one
for saddlery, and amounts to £30, 5s. 8d. The Colonel,
as he looks over the document, ponders as to whether
his brother Alexander would like to pay its demands
for him ; he (the Colonel) has given him many a mount
— Alex, really ought — he has no wife nor children —
lives on the best at free quarters at Hieover ; it is a
duty for one's unmarried kindred to assist the burdens
of the benedicts : and so in this, as in many other in-
stances, this officer works himself into the conviction
that by somebody, or by some method, his means of
subsistence must be supplied, and also be supplied ad
UmVJ^'-Y Or ILL.
52 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
infinitum. However, for the present, the bill is cast
aside, and Colonel Leppell, with a strong grasp,
pounces on an undeniable-looking letter, which is
marked "private," and literally wrenches it open.
The contents were as follows : —
" To the Honourable Colonel Leppell,
" Staff-Officer of Pensioners.
" Yarne, March 2, 186-.
" Sir, — The knowledge that I have this day volun-
tarily entered beneath your roof cannot be more
surprising to you than it is to myself. True, the
forgetfulness which time in its mercy brings, had
already obliterated the feelings of animosity with
which I formerly, and with justice, regarded you ;
but I frankly own that my object in now seeking
you arises less from a desire of reconciliation than to
promote the interests of one who now holds, in every
respect, the place of a dearly loved son to me.
" I allude to my young cousin, Mr Francis Clavering,
who, by this post, asks your consent to his suit for the
hand of your lovely daughter, Miss Leppell. It is
probable that you entertain higher views for that lady
with regard to both rank and fortune. Mr Clavering
is simply the son of a gentleman, and has no claim to
other nobility than that of the genius with which he
is so magnificently gifted by nature.
" As to fortune, Mr Clavering amply maintains him-
self by his talents and hard work ; but in the event of
his marriage with Miss Leppell, I, as his father by
SOME RETROSPECTION. 53
adoption, undertake to allow him an annual income of
one thousand pounds, and at once convey to him by
deed of gift a small property in the north of England,
which would suffice for a good and permanent home.
" For the rest (and I would fain leave this subject
untouched), as a partner of the firm with which your
eldest son has lately held more than unfortunate trans-
actions, I promise to use my influence in detaining for
the present the writs now out against that young man ;
and further, to arrange to have the same totally with-
drawn in the event of the announcement, within a
reasonable time, of your daughter Mary's engagement
with Mr Francis Clavering.
" Should you wish to confer with me, I shall be at
home every morning for ten days, at the subjoined
address. — I have the honour to remain, sir, yours
faithfully, Everard Glascott.
"Red Lion Hotel, Yarne."
Colonel Leppell read and re-read this epistle, with
mingled feelings of shame and anger. Under the
circumstances of the case, he felt that the conduct of
the writer was more than generous ; it was noble —
nay, it was almost quixotic.
Still there remained the stern fact, that the propo-
sitions contained therein amounted* to little less than
a barter. His Moll — heavenly Moll ! — was therein
as actually bid for as if she had been a herd of cattle
or so many acres of land. Almost imperceptibly, also,
there dawned upon the Colonel the recollection that
54 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
he had entertained very different views with regard to
the disposal of his daughter Mary. There was Lord
Willows, a young widower of high degree, who would,
Colonel Leppell felt sure, pay the highest compliment
to the memory of his dead wife by choosing a successor
within six months after her demise ! Lady Willows
had already been dead four months, and her spouse
was to be seen disporting himself at county balls, to
one of which he had ridden forty miles in order to
claim the first waltz with Mary Leppell ! And Mar-
maduke — Marmaduke was the spoke which thrust
itself into every spar of the Colonel's mental wheel.
Willows, he knew, might kick against the embezzle-
ment business ; but even if he did, there were other
men of rank who were not so punctilious. And then
— then, a cousin of Everard Glascott, of all men in the
world, — what on earth could be the meaning of this
affection, this devotion to a man who was only a
cousin's son ?
After all, there is no love like the love which grows
downwards and outwards — unselfish, unworldly, god-
like : it absorbs all that is disappointing in misplaced
affection ; it supersedes the romantic love of youth,
and the worship of kindred and of race. Pure as the
rain-diamond, it gives all, and neither asks nor expects
return. Few have the power, still fewer have the
capacity to exercise it ; but in all the world's history
there is no richer harvest than the success which men
attribute to their launch in life through the love of
some human being upon whom they had no shadow
SOME RETROSPECTION. 55
of claim — to whom, probably, they were at first un-
known. Nature's one touch of sympathy, in these
cases, opens the sealed and hidden fountain, and the
waters, which might have been called " Marah " in
their pent-up bitterness, gush forth in a tide of sweet-
ness, bearing a blessing in their course — for are not
their head-springs in the heart of him who loves his
"Write me as one who loves his fellow - men,"
Everard Glascott might well have declared, when,
after the first shock of disappointment, he looked
out upon the great world, if not for consolation, at
least for distraction in the hard work of life, which
leaves no time for sorrow. Beared in a mercantile
house which at that time was in the height of its
prosperity, he bethought himself to go to Lyons, there
to increase the branch of the silk trade which it was
the object of the English firm to amalgamate with
their business. His cousin, Mr Clavering, was just
dead ; why not take the eldest son among these
orphans as a travelling companion, and thus give
hini the opportunity of acquiring more perfectly a
foreign language, and enlarge the lad's ideas of men
and manners ? His intention was confirmed when
the news of the sudden death of Mr Clavering's eld-
est daughter, just one week after her father's demise,
reached him. The poor young girl had succumbed
to heart -complaint, brought on, it was said, by too
much care and anxiety, for hers had been the duties
of a mother, combined with the school life and studies
56 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
of early maidenhood. For two years this child had
tilled the post of mother, housekeeper, instructress,
and nurse ; no wonder, then, that after the funeral of
her father she was found dead in the great arm-chair,
close to the bed whereon he had breathed his last.
Thus with a smile on her face this sweet life faded
out, and Francis Clavering and his youngest sister,
verily Benjamina, were left alone.
There had never been much intimacy between these
cousins ; they had met and they had parted much as
ordinary mortals do in the usual walks of life. They
had never required anything one from the other,
consequently their intercourse had been one of un-
ruffled peace. Everard Glascott had arrived to pay
his visit of condolence the day after the young girl's
burial, and the grief of the little sister had so touched
him, that he there and then made a resolution hence-
forth to look upon the orphans as his own children.
The fact that all the portion that each would have
was a bare thousand pounds, rather stimulated than
arrested this intention ; and thus, having placed little
Willina under the care of the mother of one of the
child's playfellows, he took the boy with him to the
Continent, and from the hour that he led his charges
forth from their father's house, he in every way
strictly carried out the obligations he had imposed
upon himself towards them.
It was thus, in his great love for Francis Clavering,
that Mr Glascott gave up the fixed intention of
having done with the Leppell race for evermore.
SOME RETROSPECTION. 57
Lady Asher, whose husband had been made a baronet
from having had the luck to go up to royalty at the
head of an important deputation, was immediately
seized with such a passion for rank, that she threw
the weight of her influence in favouring the addresses
of the Honourable Mr Leppell, then an ensign in a
marching regiment, to the utter exclusion of Mr
Glascott, who was the promised suitor of Adelaide,
the only child of the Ashers. These had married late
in life, and, from their great success as fringe manu-
facturers, were able, if not to make their daughter an
heiress, to endow that young lady with a very com-
fortable fortune ; and as her personal attractions were
far above the average, it was only in the proper course
of things that Miss Asher should be with the most
sincere intentions sought in marriage, both by the
flower of the youth who entered the manufacturing
town of Mills, and also by those who dwelt within its
A most unhandsome subterfuge employed by Mr
Leppell to affect the honour of his rival, and which
was matured into a specious appearance of substantial
truth by the management of that young gentleman's
cleverer brother Alexander, was the reason given by
Sir Eobert Asher for his one day not only formally
rejecting Mr Glascott's suit on behalf of his daughter,
but also for intimating at the same time that it would
be desirable that the acquaintance which had subsisted
between the families should cease.
Young Glascott in vain demanded a full explana-
58 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
tion of this conduct. " I have no direct accusation to
make against you," was the old man's reply; "but
you know that through you business has been lost
to the firm, and there is an impression that two
clerks forfeited their places through your having
borne false witness against them."
'•'Do you believe this? — sincerely, conscientiously
believe it ? " the young man inquired.
" I wish I could answer you that I do not," the
old man replied sadly. " I daresay that there has
been some exaggeration in the matter ; but there
are, as you must know, facts which appear to damage
"Appearance is not reality," the young man an-
swered with some scorn. " However, the law will
right me sooner or later ; meanwhile let me see
Adelaide, — in your presence if you will — but let me
" She has promised to obey her parents," was Sir
Eobert's reply ; " but it will perhaps be more satis-
factory to all parties that you should learn from her
own lips that she acquiesces in our decision."
The young man put the same question to the
daughter that he had done to the father. "In the
presence of your parents, Adelaide," he said very
gently, but with clear defiant eyes, "do you believe
that I am capable — that I have sworn falsely against
two clerks employed in your father's warehouse ? "
No answer ; only a quivering of the hesitating un-
decided mouth, and a stolen look at her mother.
SOME RETROSPECTION. 59
Again the young man repeated his question. The
answer came slowly — " I am very sorry, — but I must
believe what my parents believe."
Nothing to him that there were tears in her eyes
and in her voice. He bowed low, and with a look of
supreme contempt directed towards Lady Asher, he
turned to depart. " May you none of you live to
repent of your — your — gullibility/' was all he said ;
and then he threw a letter towards Sir Gilbert
" Eead that, and ponder over it at your leisure," he
cried, and the next moment Mr Glascott was out of
The letter was one written from one of the clerks
who had been discharged from Mr Asher's manufac-
tory. It contained a declaration that all Mr Glascott
had stated concerning him was true, and further, it
volunteered the information that had it not been for
Mr Glascott's vigilance, a very serious robbery would
have been perpetrated in the warehouse by himself
and his fellow-clerk. The writer asked pardon of Mr
Glascott for his false statements, and added that he
had been induced to make them by parties whom he
would rather not name. This epistle was fully dated
" That she could be persuaded to think so ill of me
is quite sufficient reason why I will never attempt to
see her again," was the young man's reflection. " I
know the Leppells are at the bottom of all this ; let her
marry Balph— he is better than that sly villain, his
GO THE FAT OF THE LAND.
brother. Faugh ! vainly do they seek to rise to the
level of my contempt ! Poor Adelaide ! "
Thus, after seeking the Leppells and giving them the
cut direct in a very public place, and then inserting
the clerk's epistle in the 'Mills Gazette,' Everard
Glascott went his way, and up to this time never
sought the love of womankind. Immediately after-
wards, Adelaide married Ealph Leppell, and her life
subsequently was spent in repenting the bargain she
Everard Glascott's feelings can be better imagined
than described, when, long years afterwards, Francis
Clavering, a somewhat cold and self-contained young
man, rushed into his rooms at Paris, and besought
his co-operation in bringing about a marriage with
himself and Ealph Leppell's daughter. The young
man was aware of the detestation in which his cousin-
father held the whole house of Hieover ; he remem-
bered that when he had gone into the county of Yarne,
in company with the other members of the Geological
Society, Mr Glascott had told him that there were
reasons why he could not furnish him with letters of
introduction to any member of that family; he knew,
though he could not distinctly put into words what it
meant, that some quarrel had estranged Mr Glascott
for years from his oldest friends the Ashers of Mills,
and that on the rare occasions when he did mention
Lady Asher, it was to stigmatise that matron as a
" fool filled with folly." Strange world, strange course
of events, which brought Everard Glascott to forget
SOME RETROSPECTION. 61
his wrongs, and, for the deep love he bore to his adop-
ted son, to place himself almost in the position of a
suppliant to Ealph Leppell !
At the close of Francis Clavering's entreaties, Mr
Glascott took counsel with himself, and the unselfish-
ness of his nature never shone out more grandly than it
did on this occasion. " It cannot be — it shall not be,"
he mused, " that Francis is to suffer the pangs of mis-
placed affection as I have so suffered. No ; his career
in life must neither be embittered nor arrested because
an old man's resentment has stood in the way of his
heart's desire — of his love and of his happiness. This
is no boyish fancy ; it is the deep affection of the man
— of one who has never frittered this treasure here
and there in the light measure of the grains of sand :
he gives the whole store, and sinks or swims with the
" This is so rare nowadays, almost strange, that I
dare not refuse my consent to Frank's union with Ealph
Leppell's daughter. There is something due from the
old to the young ; we are mostly too apt to forget this,
wrapt as we often are in the cloud of mental stupor
in which the waters of Lethe have steeped our souls.
I must in justice recognise the fact that Frank has
paid me the respect of asking my sanction to his pay-
ing his addresses to Mary Leppell ; many men would
not have so acted. And more, he — calm, reserved,
and almost rejecting all sentiment as a matter too
trivial to mingle with the work of life — he comes to
me as a girl comes to her mother, and lays bare the
62 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
secret of his soul. I will delay no longer, — I will rise
up and seek Balph Leppell : there is no humiliation in
doing this, and what if there were ? Clavering is the
son of my love — the love which is born out of life's
So he rose up and wended his way into Yarneshire.
It was with no desire to heap coals on the head of his
enemy that further induced Mr Glascott to avail him-
self of the opportunity that a curious chance presented
(by being unexpectedly called to Liverpool on business),
to use his influence, and endeavour to shield Marma-
duke Leppell from the consequence of his own acts.
Writs had been issued against that youth, but hitherto
he had managed to evade the Sheriffs officers.
Mr Glascott had, on the part of Francis Clavering,
everything to hope from the desperate situation into
which the force of circumstances had placed his quon-
dam enemy, Colonel Leppell.
Affairs stood thus at the time when this thoroughly
perplexed gentleman paced up and down in his den
holding Everard Glascott's letter in his hand.
The action of pacing to and fro in a manner indicat-
ive of a huge share of muscular Christianity did not,
however, suffice to bring Colonel Leppell to any direct
conclusion as to how he should deal with the com-
munication which he had for the fifth time perused.
His mind was in so great a state of agitation, that
he could scarcely distinguish whether the contents of
Mr Glascott's letter were acceptable to him or the
reverse ; and so in order to stave off, for a while at
least, further contemplation of the matter, he returned
to the table and seized the next epistle which lay
This turned out to be a missive from Mr Francis
Clavering, bespeaking rather than entreating Colonel
Leppell's sanction to his suit for the hand of that
gentleman's daughter, Mary. The writer further in-
timated his intention of paying his respects at Hunt-
er's Lodge on the afternoon of the day on which his
letter would be received.
64 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
(" He'll be here before we have time to look round,
confound him ! " exclaimed the reader.) Mr Clavering
ventured to hope that an interview with Miss Lep-
pell might be accorded to him, and he took pleasure
in informing Colonel Leppell that he was indebted to
Lord Hieover for his first acquaintance with that
lady, he having been specially presented to her by his
(" What on earth induced my father to invite the
Geological Society to Hieover, giving them champagne
luncheons, and having the place ransacked by a lot
of wandering lecturers : here's what has come of
The Colonel took a turn in the den, stamped and
haw-hawed, and then continued the reading of his
Concerning his position and prospects, Mr Claver-
ing referred Colonel Leppell to his relative and
guardian, Mr Glascott of Brydone, Island of Jersey,
who was now in Yarne for the ensuing week. " It
may suffice for the present," the writer continued,
" to state that my income is raised by my earnings
both as a scientific lecturer and as a barrister-at-
The whole concluded with an assurance that it
would be the object of Mr Clavering's life to promote
the happiness of Miss Leppell, should these his pro-
posals of marriage arrive at a satisfactory arrange-
ment, and it was needless, he trusted, to add that he
entertained sentiments of the deepest affection and
MISS FANSHAWE. 63
respect towards the lady. In the hope that he might,
ere long, be recognised as a member of Colonel Lep-
pell's family, Mr Clavering signed himself that gentle-
man's obedient servant, and dated his letter from the
Eed Lion Hotel, Yarne.
The recipient of this document gave it a turn in the
air, and then dashed it on the table.
There was certainly a cool assured ring about this
composition which convinced the Colonel that the
gentleman with whom he was now to deal was of
the Veni, Vicli, Vici order of wooers. It might be
that Clavering had reasons which satisfied him that his
proposals, if not actually accepted, would at least be
no matter of surprise to his daughter. She might
fancy the man — girls are so inexplicable in these
matters. But so little time had been left both by
him and his guardian for consideration, that only one
inference could be drawn from their mode of action —
they believed that Marmaduke's folly insured Claver-
" I won't consent, — I declare I won't consent," the
Colonel at length protested in an audible key. " I'll
go over to Hieover and put the matter before my
father and Alick ; for their own sakes, they will shield
Marmaduke, — they must do it."
Then it occurred to the perplexed father that, even
if his kindred came to the rescue, it could only be the
repayment of the money to the Liverpool firm which
would benefit him, and the safe rejection of Mr
Clavering's suit would evidently not be arrived at by
VOL. I. E
66 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
this means. Everard Glascott did not want money ;
he wanted his daughter for the son of his love, and if
she were refused to him, there was nothing but utter
ruin in store for Marmaduke Leppell. There was
another phase of the situation which the Colonel had
not as yet brought into account — nay, it only at this
moment dawned upon his imagination — Moll might
take it into her head, without any prompting from
him, to decline Mr Clavering altogether. She had a
will of her own in a quiet way — it was possible that
she had another preference — goodness only knew ;
so with all this working on his brain, the Colonel
started up, and crumpling his letters together in his
hand, went through the house and straight to the
room wherein his wife was supposed to be taking
Mrs Leppell was still in bed, her young daughter
humped up, as it were, by her side on the coverlet.
The eyes of the latter were moist with tears ; it was
evident that the mother and daughter had been in
deep conference, and neither seemed particularly de-
lighted when the head of the family knocked and en-
tered at the instant his knuckles were off the door.
" You are better, aren't you ? " he said, nodding to-
wards his wife ; " I am sure I hope so, for I want to
talk to you about these letters. I sent one to you,
Moll," he went on to say, looking at Mary, " from
the same quarter, to judge by the handwriting, from
whence this one comes," and he dropped Mr Claver-
ing's epistle into the girl's lap.
MISS FAXSHAWE. 67
" AYell, this swain of yours goes through the cere-
mony of asking my consent in a fashion, as you see :
what do you mean to say to it, my queen of beauty ?
" My queen of beauty " reddened deeply, and said
that she was not quite sure that she knew.
" But you are not in love with this fellow ? " cried
the Colonel assertively.
Deep silence on the part of Miss Leppell.
Her father changed the form of his question and
enlarged the substance of it. " Have you allowed Mr
Clavering to make advances to you ? has he given you
any notion of what he intended to write to-day ? "
" jSTo, not exactly ; at least I do not think so. Mr
Clavering is much less given to pay me compliments
than any of the men whom I meet in society."
" You met him at Hieover, I believe ? " says the
" Yes ; grandpapa and uncle Alex, think very
highly of him ; and as for Lillian Fanshawe, you
should hear what Lillian thinks of him." The girl
said this in a tone which implied that a most incon-
trovertible authority had been cited in the mention of
" Lillian Fanshawe ! where did she become ac-
quainted with him ? "
" Mr Fanshawe gave a luncheon to some of the
members of the Geological Society, and Lillian after-
wards walked with Mr Clavering to show him some
curious rocks which exist near Pinnacles. He was
68 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
preparing a lecture on geology, and Lillian helped him
very much, he told me."
" H'm ; these travelling clubs are a great nuisance.
Did you go with the walking party ? "
" No, papa ; I am not clever, and that is one thing
which makes me uncertain with regard to Mr Claver-
ing. He is so learned and so wise ; it frightens me.
The only comfort is, that he is not too dignified to go
to balls, and he dances fairly well."
" I remember something of him somewhere — lec-
tures on somebody — no — on some 'ology or other,"
returned the Colonel.
" Lillian says he knows all the 'ologies, and that he
is the most intellectual man that has ever entered the
county," the girl replies.
" Has Lillian seen much of him ? I am glad to hear
that he is an acquaintance of hers ; Miss Fanshawe's
opinion is worth having," continued Colonel Leppell,
" I think Mr Clavering was only at Pinnacles once.
He has never been here ; you were so much away, and
mamma was ill. I saw most of him when old Lady
Kindred was chaperoning me about. Oh, I have seen
more of him than Lillian has. I don't think she met
Mr Clavering at balls and parties ; besides, she judges
of him from the geological point of view."
" Well, he is coming here this afternoon, so you
must know what answer he is to get, and that quickly,
Moll," said her father, with a touch of sorrow in his
MISS FANSHAWE. 69
" I must have time," the girl answered, suddenly
and very decidedly. " I shall not think he really
cares for me if he will not allow me time to know
my own mind. If it comes to any question of that, I
shall be ready to answer Mr Clavering in the negative
" Satisfy us, your parents, on one point, Moll, dear,"
said the mother, rising in her bed and clasping this
pearl of price in her arms, — " tell us one thing — do you
care for, do you love, or have you any decided prefer-
ence for, any other man ? Do not fear to answer, my
precious one, for if you have, you shall not, you shall
not marry Mr Clavering." Here she looked at her
husband, and in her look these words were conveyed
to him in the fullest sense of their meaning — " My
daughter shall not be bartered for Marmaduke's sake.
Honour, money, fame may go, but Moll shall not be
sacrificed. I have yielded much in my lifetime, but
this child makes me firm as the granite rock now."
The Colonel evidently understood what his wife
intended that he should understand. His mind had
been so harassed within the last twenty -four hours,
that he was unequal to being astonished.
To the great relief of both parents, Mary answered
simply, and with the most charming candour, " No,
mother dear. Sometimes I fancy one more than
another ; but I have no regard for any one — be sure,
if I had, I would marry that man, or remain single all
my days. No ; Mr Clavering, to my mind, is worth
all my admirers put together."
70 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Thank God ! " said Mrs Leppell, falling back on
her pillow, and giving way to a burst of tears.
She soon recovered herself, and then said, " I want
to talk to papa now, and you have been taken so
much by surprise, that you ought to be alone to think
matters over. Put on your hat and go into the garden ;
the fresh air will do you good. And you may as well
take the little ones out — that is, if you like ; they will
play about, and will not interfere with you. As you
pass through the hall, just knock at grandmamma's
door and see how she is."
" Yes." And then kissing both her parents, Mary
Leppell — sweet, innocent young girl — tripped out of
the room, and was away with the little children among
the violets and the daffodils ; and all her perplexities
seemed to vanish in the sound good health which finds
pleasure in the mere fact of moving and being, of lov-
ing and being loved.
No sooner had the sound of her footsteps died away
than Colonel Leppell spoke. " You haven't mentioned
anything about Marmaduke to her, have you ? " said
he to his wife, with an air of suspicion.
" Certainly not ; but read this," and she placed a
letter, which she withdrew from beneath her pillow,
in his hand.
The superscription of this epistle bore a different
handwriting from that in which its contents were set
" It is from Duke," said his mother. " He is evi-
dently afraid of being traced. He has got some one to
MISS FANSHAWE. 71
address his letter. His news is dreadful ! Oh, what
is to be done ? "
" From Duke ! " exclaimed Colonel Leppell, in a
tone of the utmost delight. " He has managed to get
out of the way. I thought he would, dear fellow.
Perhaps, after all, he may get clear off, and be out of
the country, abroad somewhere."
" Eead for yourself," replied Mrs Leppell. " Duke's
position cannot well be worse."
It was a lamentable communication, without doubt,
and it ran as follows : —
" Dearest Mother, — I wonder if you and the gov-
ernor have heard anything about me — anything un-
comfortable, to put it mildly — lately ? If you have, I
know that you will not cast me off, nor do I think
papa will either, because he knows how hard the
world is on young fellows, especially if they happen to
be army men. Knowing this, I hope you won't be
very much upset when I tell you I have been very
unfortunate lately — so much so, that I am obliged to
hide with rather a peculiar character, the Birmingham
Pet ! the gentleman who taught me to use the gloves
scientifically, and who is a renowned champion in the
(" The Birmingham Pet is a prize-fighter, and his
name is Thwacker," interpolated the Colonel in ex-
planation.) " Luckily I have introduced several pupils
to this man, and, in return, he has taken me into his
place, and is concealing me from pursuit. The word
72 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
1 pursuit ■ will frighten you ; but the truth is, I have
been tempted, under the strong pressure of money and
of duns, to add a cipher to a cheque, which I got
cashed at Liverpool at the private bank of Fairlight
& Deare. As you may have some one inquiring
after me, I want to tell you how all this happened, as,
if the affair comes out, the governor will hear accounts
of the matter which, ten to one, won't be true.
" I sold a dog to Cracky Winton (he is called Cracky
because he does such queer things), and he gave me a
cheque for eight pounds to pay for it on the bank I
have mentioned, never hinting that old Deare was his
step-father. Well, I know it was a stupid thing to do,
but I was horribly pressed for money just then, and
half mad into the bargain with one thing and another ;
so I altered the cheque to eighty pounds, knowing that
I could repay Cracky after my marriage (which he
knew about), and that he would forgive me when I
should tell him all the circumstances. What should
that meddling old Deare do but trouble his head
about Cracky's affairs, and wrote to him to know
what could be the reason of his paying so large a
cheque to me as that of eighty pounds, which had
been cashed two days before. Fortunately I was with
C. W. when old Deare's letter came : he handed it to
me, and was such a trump about the whole thing.
He forgave me, and promised to help me in getting
off with Peggy Lorton that very night. It seems some
of the bank's people suspected that Cracky's cheque
was not all right, and old Deare wrote with the inten-
MISS FANSHAWE. 73
tion of getting Cracky to admit that the original had
been altered. I got a hint that the bank would
prosecute, and so that same night I ran off with
Peggy — who will have £40,000 when she comes of
age, and who is nice as well as rich. Well, we got
caught, and Peggy was taken back ; but we had been
married two hours previously at a registrar's office at
G . I could not insist upon going back with
Peggy because of this bank business, which, of course,
she knows nothing about. I shall have to go to
prison for abducting a ward of Chancery, but that I
don't so much mind, though, of course, it is a great
nuisance losing my wife in that way. It is hard about
the bank, as Cracky AVinton would not prosecute me ;
but he is not quite of age, and that malignant old
Deare is his guardian, and he is the prime mover in
the business : the wickedness of elderly men is cer-
tainly increasing everywhere.
" I should tell you that it was those two miserable
old Shallards, at whose school Peggy was a parlour
boarder, that communicated with the Court of Chan-
cery, and set the officers of that Court after us. ■ It's
all envy, because no one ever wanted to elope with
either of them, or marry them after the conventional
tack. Please talk this over with the governor. Could
you not manage to bring G. P." ("Grandpapa, he
means," said the Colonel) " round ? A viscount might
do something. Please write soon to this address —
T. Thwacker, Esq., The Bruisings, 20 Holborn Bars,
74 THE FAT OF THE LAKD.
" P.S. — If you put a small ' o ' over the T., Thwacker
will know that it is intended for me. I am dressed
and blackened as a Kentucky serenader, and play the
banjo after dark, so I am earning my board ; but you
may be sure I am very miserable under my gay attire."
" Dreadful, Ralph, is it not," said Mrs Leppell. " I
wish Duke had expressed more regret, but I suppose
he is trying to make light of the matter to spare my
feelings — it must be that," said the poor mother,
searching hopelessly to find some excuse for her eldest
born ; " he must feel his position acutely."
" Yes, that he must," answered Duke's father ; " the
bare idea of that exquisite, Duke, being compelled to
figure as a black strolling singer, dressed in striped
pink stuff, like the coverings of the Heatherbys' draw-
ing-room chairs, is enough to make us repudiate him
altogether. But come, Adelaide," continued the Colo-
nel, " cheer up. I will give my full consent to Moll's
marrying young Clavering, and I will do it with a
good grace ; so you see that will dispose of the bank
business, if Glascott keeps his word."
" He will ! " she retorted with some animation ;
" Everard Glascott's word is better than many another
man's bond. If I could only be sure that Mary will
not be a sacrifice. I feel, I do not know why, that
there is too much haste, too much barter, in this
"Barter it is, and no mistake," returned Ealph.
" That is Glascott's doing ; but are not daughters bar-
MISS FANSHAWE. 75
tered every day of our lives in some fashion or other ?
You ought to be thankful that Moll has no admirer to
reject or to put aside for this man. She half likes
" Half likes, yes ; but her mate should be some one
warm, generous-hearted, and frank as herself. This
Mr Clavering seems to have had no youth."
" How do you know ? What nonsense women take
into their heads. Why, don't you remember, Moll
said that Lillian Fanshawe — that piece of ice-cream —
was quite taken with him ; and mind you, Miss Lillian
is rather fastidious — her last London campaign has
not been thrown away upon her."
" True ; I was rather glad to hear that," Mrs Leppell
answered ; " but how about Duke's affairs ? I think
you are taking this running away with a ward of
Chancery rather too lightly. The officer who called
here told me it was a very grave misdemeanour,
and you see Duke himself speaks of his being im-
prisoned for this escapade as a certain thing. He
must have obtained some reliable information on the
subject, for in the way Duke puts it, this seems to be
inevitable. He would not write such news to his
mother if it were not so."
"Can't think why he did not manage that elope-
ment better," the Colonel replied, pulling at his mous-
tache ; " generally speaking, Duke is a cool hand, —
this cheque business, I daresay, flurried and upset
" I hope it did," Mrs Leppell answered, with a look
76 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
of indignation. " Oh, Balph, I do not think you fully
comprehend what a degrading, miserable business
What Colonel Leppell would have replied to this it
is quite impossible to say. It may be that he felt more
indignation against his son than he cared to show ;
but it was still more likely that, with the confidence
of a sanguine temperament, he already regarded the
bank affair as being entirely condoned, through the
fortuitous circumstances which tended to conceal that
disgraceful transaction. Moreover, he firmly believed
that he was acting the part of a Eoman father in thus
generously giving up his own plans and intentions
with regard to his daughter's settlement in marriage,
sublimely ignoring the fact that he actually stood in
that position which is vulgarly defined as being " Hob-
Many circumstances in his own career had tended to
blunt the Colonel's estimate of what most men regard
as strict honour ; and it is to be feared that he ex-
tended his indulgence towards a sinner against society
very much in proportion to the chances of the delin-
quent being astute, or lucky enough not to be found
Flying feet, from the garden into the house, and
then towards the door of the little bedroom, saved
Colonel Leppell from the necessity of attending to his
wife's last remark. This distraction was evidently a
relief to him ; for he rose quickly, and had the door
opened just as a hand from outside was on the lock.
MISS FANSHAWE. 77
" Holloa, Moll ! I thought it was you ; am I wanted ? "
" Oh, papa ! is not this fortunate ? " his daughter
exclaimed. " Here is Lillian ; she is staying at the
Braintrees' : they had a dinner-party last night ; and
she has escaped Sarah Braintree, and walked out here.
I am so pleased, for she can tell you all about him —
Mr Clavering, I mean."
" Where is she ? " said the Colonel, looking over the
" I left her in the garden, talking to the children.
I thought I would run in and see if mamma would
mind my bringing her in here."
" Not in the least," Mrs Leppell answered for herself
from the bed ; " wait a little, and tell Prothero to come
and arrange the room. I don't know what can be
wrong with me ; but I feel I cannot rise till later in
the day. Ealph, go and receive Lillian, will you ? and
tell her how unwell I am."
The Colonel very willingly executed his wife's in-
junction, and at once went out in search of the guest
announced by the familiar name of Lillian.
This young lady was not only an intimate friend of
the Leppells, from the reason of her family being land-
holders and inhabitants of the same county, but the
nearer tie of school-fellowship had strengthened what
had hitherto been but an ordinary pleasant acquaint-
ance on the part of the two girls, Mary Leppell and
Lillian Fanshawe. The latter, by virtue of one year's
seniority, had made her cUbut some time earlier than
78 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
her friend ; and being a lady of great observation, reti-
cence, and self-command, she comported herself with
all the ease and savoir /aire which is often greatly
lacking in matrons double Miss Fanshawe's age.
These qualifications, combined with a cold manner,
which was marvellously counteracted by the sweetness
of her voice and the speaking expression of a pair of
glorious eyes, served to furnish her with society's pass-
port of being a very superior young woman.
The position which Lillian Fanshawe held, and the
circumstances of her life perhaps more than her natu-
ral temperament, had, from a very early age, served,
as it were, to force and harden every instinct which
might incline to ensure success in life, and to repress
every tender and gentle feeling which other training
might have encouraged and helped forward. Her
father combined the two dissimilar posts of country
clergyman and county gentleman ; and as the income
arising from both sources was insufficient to maintain
a family of fourteen children in tolerable comfort, the
struggle between the spirituals and the temporals was
a matter of daily occurrence. This arose chiefly from
the fact that, whilst Mr Fanshawe would have been
satisfied to reside at his rectory, and live as a country
clergyman should live, his whole family, including
their mother, were endowed — by Providence possibly
— with a much greater zest for the flesh-pots of Egypt
than for the frugal habits and comparatively retired
life which a residence at the rectory of Pinnacles
would have required. ,
MISS FAXSHAWE. 79
" Your cousin has died just in the nick of time,"
Mrs Fanshawe remarked, when the letter announcing
the demise of the bachelor relative which made Mr
Fanshawe lord of the manor of Pinnacles Court was
read through ; " the rectory is getting small for our
family, and you would have had to build in another
year. Of course we shall move to the Court at
The rector did not think that move would be neces-
sary. He reminded his spouse that the lamented de-
ceased had not lived, unfortunately, long enough to
pay off all the mortgages with which the property
was encumbered, and added, that he feared that there
was very little ready money left to enable them to
keep up Pinnacles Court. He also admonished Mrs
Fanshawe, as delicately as he could, that, in conse-
quence of some remarks which she had made with
regard to his late relative's personal appearance,
and which were the reverse of complimentary, she
must not be disappointed if neither the one nor the
other of them was named in the special bequests and
legacy portion of the will, and that it would be as well
if she would at once make up her mind to accept pleas-
antly the fact that all the articles of female adornment,
in the shape of very valuable jewels, would become the
sole possession of their respected aunt, Susannah Fan-
shawe, aged sixty-six, to dispose of as might seem good
unto that childless widow of the house.
" But surely your cousin Gilbert might have remem-
bered our girls : he knew how many we have, and
80 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
that it is not likely that we could give them valu-
" Oh, he knew all that," answered the rector, " but
you are well aware he did not care a button either
for them or for us; consequently, he will not have
left anything more in our direction than what he was
actually obliged to leave. Besides, during the nine
years that Gilbert occupied the Court, he lived up to
every penny of the income. It would be pleasant for
me, certainly, to live in the home of my forefathers,"
continued the rector, thoughtfully ; " but I fear this
step would only hamper us, and render the ordinary
struggle of life more difficult."
" Not at all," the rector's wife replied, with all the
readiness of a woman of resource. " To occupy the
Court would give you at once the position which will
be so necessary when the girls are introduced. You
know what the world is. Why not let the rectory ? —
this house, I mean. It is large and commodious enough
for any moderate - sized family, and its being seven
miles from Yarne gives a county tone to the pro-
perty. It would just suit some of the merchants of
Yarne, who would like to have their country house.
It need not be called Pinnacles Eectory ; change the
name to Beaudesir, or, as you object to foreign names,
why not call it the ' Betreat ' ? "
"Nice retreat for a Yarne shopkeeper from eight
at night to seven in the morning," growled the rector,
" and a mile to get to the railway. Still, your idea
MISS FANSHAWE. 81
is feasible, and the mercantile class of all degrees can
afford a high rent. Mind, I won't have the house let
to any genteel paupers ; I prefer substantial commer-
cials. But what about the curate ? I must keep
one, now that the Bishop has decided to amalgamate
Brockenhurst with Pinnacles."
" Oh, the curate must be single, and very young — his
first place, in fact. He can live in two rooms down
in the village ; old Mrs Skrimpshire has the very
thing, and, of course, I will see that the young man
is comfortable, and has all he wants. I think the
sooner we make up our minds about moving the bet-
ter, and when you come to reflect on the matter, you
will see that it is due to yourself and to your family
that you should at once occupy the family seat of
So they did make up their minds, and the result
of that effort was an immediate move to Pinnacles
Court as a local habitation. The rectory was also let
satisfactorily and permanently to a merchant, not of
Yarne but of London town, as a residence for his
invalid imbecile sister and her nurse. In spite of the
rector's objection to foreign nomenclature, he was
obliged to accept his tenant as Mr John La Touche,
and the new name of Pinnacles Eectory as " Esperanza."
The proper kind of curate came to hand, and thus,
from the time that Lillian was twelve years of age,
she had been accustomed to hear all the family plans
and those of others correlative with thesfe discussed
vol. I. F
82 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
and turned to account, and was thereby more advanced
in the art of keeping up appearances than many a
grandmother of seventy years.
Added to this, there had never been any sympathy
betwixt Lillian and her mother ; and as the latter
prided herself upon her sincerity, and, under the
mantle of this delusion, permitted herself to say the
most insulting and impertinent things to and about
society, individually and collectively, it was not to be
wondered at that, as the girl grew older, she should
become reserved and cold, and resolutely set herself
against offering any opening for the exercise of Mrs
Fanshawe's satire in regard to herself. Her mind,
naturally logical and reflective, could not balance with
any degree of satisfaction the mixture of the clerical
maxims and worldly practices which, as years and
children progressed, permeated the whole life at
Pinnacles Court, and, as a natural consequence,
everything connected with parish work and the
duties of a clergyman and his family were not
only distasteful, but highly repellent, to Miss Lillian
The refining influence of a first-class school had
imparted a charm to this young lady's manners which,
combined with her attractive appearance and self-
possession, caused her to be much appreciated in the
society wherein she moved ; and a curious, indescrib-
able resemblance which she bore to Mrs Leppell had
early enlisted Mary's warm regard towards her in
the closer intimacy of their school-life. Indeed this
MISS FANSHAWE. 83
likeness was so strong that, on the younger lady's
visits to Hunter's Lodge, strangers had invariably
greeted her as one of the daughters of the house.
The great difference in this resemblance was, that
in proportion as the lower part of Mrs Leppell's face
was remarkable for a decided weakness of expression,
which was enhanced by a hesitation in her speech
whenever she became hurried or agitated, Lillian's
mouth and chin were conspicuous by an air of resolu-
tion, which dominated every curve of those features.
Her speech, clear and incisive, was modulated to the
tone of a well-tempered bell, each sound falling like
a touch on the ear, distinct and always sweet. Both
of these ladies possessed the same fine cast of head
and throat, and the dignified tread of the Castilian
peasant rather than the hurry - scurry step which
is the usual factor in the locomotive power of the
majority of English women.
That Lillian was a great favourite of the Colonel
was also a recommendation to her in his wife's eyes :
she could say and did say so much in her quiet
polite fashion, and always said her say with unerring
tact and reason, so that more than once a domestic
storm, which rose in blackness and fury, had sailed
right away and burst into space, thanks to the calm
and astute manner in which a diversion in the in-
terests of peace and common-sense had been effected
by this young visitor in the house.
The great secret of Miss Fanshawe's management
of people lay in the fact that whilst seeing and
84 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
hearing and fully understanding all that passed before
her, she never appeared to know what it was intended
that she should not know, or to see what it was
supposed that she had not seen. She accepted every
confidence that came in her way, but she never sought
any, and, above all, Miss Fanshawe had never been
guilty of the weakness of making a confidant on her
own account, or troubling others with regard to her
The peculiar position which this young lady held
in relation to her own home, was perhaps one reason
why she always appeared to better advantage in the
society of strangers, or of friends who were not in-
timate with her family. The want of sympathy
between her and her mother had existed almost
from Lillian's birth ; and thus it was that, on arriving
at woman's estate, a tacit arrangement sprung up that
Lillian should visit as much from home as possible,
and that, as she was naturally well able to conduct
her own affairs, no interference would be offered in
the event of her being able to make a settlement in
Mrs Leppell had shown the girl many kindnesses,
and had made Hunter's Lodge so pleasant a refuge
from the indifference and slights which she experi-
enced at home, that it was but natural Miss Fan-
shawe should take every opportunity of seeking
the society of those who so admired and appreciated
It was not everybody that Colonel Leppell could
MISS FANSHAWE. 85
or would endure as an inmate, therefore Miss Fan-
shawe's visit on this particular morning was singularly
opportune. She was, in fact, the very person that
each one of the family would like to see. So it was
with unfeigned cordiality that the Colonel stepped
forth into the garden to greet this early morning-
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND.
" Welcome as flowers in May," called out the master
of Hunter's Lodge, coming forward and taking Miss
Fanshawe's two hands into his enormous grip. " Mrs
Leppell is not at all well ; will see you presently,
though. So you have walked out here from Yarne.
Dined at the Braintrees' last night, Moll says ? "
" Yes ; it was one of the regulation ecclesiastical
feeds which prebends are, I believe, obliged to give
when they come into residence. I was invited with
papa, and to remain the night, for the trains did not
suit our return to Pinnacles after the coffee. But we
go back this afternoon ; and so after breakfast was
over, I escaped Sarah Braintree, and walked here to
" See Moll, indeed ! and what about Moll's father ?
You seem to forget that he always delights to wel-
come a pretty girl," said the Colonel gallantly.
" Of course," returned the lady, with the most
deliberate accent, "you especially ought to think
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 87
yourself fortunate to possess a friend who is thought
to resemble Mrs Leppell so strongly. I feel highly
flattered that the likeness is so universally recog-
nised," continued Miss Fanshawe, turning up her eyes,
and looking as innocent as the proverbial lamb.
" Haw, yes ; I admire my wife, of course — comes
naturally — belongs to me — but we all like a change,
you know. How did the dinner go off? Who was
there ? I suppose it was rather a heavy business,
eh ? "
" The dinner was all very well, I suppose," returned
the girl, with the indifference of her age with regard
to this particular. "Everybody ate a good deal, I
observed. Mr Wilby, judging by his looks and man-
ner, seemed disappointed that he could not devour
everything that was on the table."
" Had you any music afterwards ? " inquired Mary.
" Sarah Braintree sings."
" Or fancies she does," returned Miss Fanshawe.
li Xo ; the proceedings after dinner were rather lively.
Some of the goody-goody women came in to tea, and
after that "
" They never had a dance ! " interrupted Miss Lep-
pell, with profound amazement.
" Dance ? no," answered her friend, with an air of
superiority. " The tea, which was a special feast for
the entertainment of these "
" Ecclesiastical jackals," supplemented the Colonel.
" Ecclesiastical jackals," continued the girl, gravely,
" was rather a long business, for during its progress a
88 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
conference went on regarding the establishment of a
Dorcas Society in Yarne. I was much amused at
hearing some of the experiences of these women when
collecting money for this object."
" Dorcas — Dorcas. There was a very good-looking
Quakeress of that name who sold sausages in Wur-
stede years ago ; are they getting up a fund for her ? "
inquired the Colonel.
" Oh no, papa ! " explained Miss Leppell ; " it's the
woman in the Bible "
" She's been dead ages ago," answered the parent.
" They are not surely going to put up a monument to
her at this time of day ! "
" No, no," insisted the visitor ; " let me explain. A
Dorcas Society is the name adopted by any circle of
ladies who meet together to work for the poor. They
supply the materials, and the garments so made are
given to the most needy and deserving. Money is, of
course, required to buy the materials out of which the
clothes are made up, hence the necessity for gathering
subscriptions to establish a fund. The Society takes
its name from the charitable woman we read of in the
Bible. You remember now, don't you ? "
" Yes, I think I do," answered the Colonel, hesitat-
ingly. " Didn't she make a little coat and show it to
somebody, and then give it to Samuel, eh ? "
" You are mixing two occurrences together, Colonel.
The woman who made the one little coat was Samuel's
own mother, whereas Dorcas worked for all, whose sole
claim to help was their poverty."
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 89
" Wish somebody would come and make clothing
for my family," said Colonel Leppell. " Our bills for
drapery are enough to scare a regiment. But still the
ancients were quite justified in being proud of Dorcas.
Why, it was all hand-work her industry."
" The sewing-machine certainly did not exist at that
time," returned Miss Fanshawe. "But I advise you to
read up the history of Dorcas, for I fancy you will,
among others, be called upon to support this excel-
lent and deserving charity, as the prospectus scheme
" Well, then, I won't," replied the officer ; " neither
shall Moll. The whole thing will drift into a female
gossiping club, the pious dodge covering its sins."
" I can't agree with you, Colonel," returned his
visitor. " The arrangements preclude everything of
the sort ; and Mrs Braintree has, my father says,
shown great business proclivities in the way she pro-
poses to carry out the plan. The sewing-party will
meet once a- week only, at the house of one of the sub-
scribers, where vigorous stitching will go on for three
hours. During that time some interesting book will
be read aloud, the readers taking turns every half-
" Do you think the society would invite you to read
to its members, papa ? " inquired Mary, with an arch
look at Lillian.
" Don't turn your parent into ridicule," admonished
Colonel Leppell, looking fondly at his daughter. " But
I tell you what, if they will get up a meeting for help-
90 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ing poor soldiers, I would not mind taking the chair,
and making a speech "
" And making a mess of the whole thing," thought
Miss Fanshawe, mentally completing the sentence.
However, she merely said, "Why not consult Mrs
Braintree ? her forte lies in getting up meetings."
" Never mind the meetings now, Lillian," interposed
Miss Leppell ; " but tell us what it was that caused
you so much amusement in the proceedings of last
" I have already told you that it was decided to raise
money by soliciting subscriptions both in town and
country for the purpose of starting the society. Mrs
Syrop, that obsequious woman who is always talking
about her privileges, undertook, some days ago, in the
character of old inhabitant, to accompany Sarah Brain-
tree, in the character of daughter of Canon in residence,
to make a house-to-house collection for this purpose."
" Most abominable impudence !" shouted the Colonel.
" The law ought to put these things down. What
right have people to invade their neighbours' houses
and bully or cajole them into giving money for carry-
ing on their particular whims, pious or otherwise.
They never come near Hunter's Lodge, though."
" Fortunately for them," answered Miss Fanshawe.
"But where do you think these ladies did go, and that
in spite of warning and the expostulation of the
others ? "
" Can't imagine : possibly to the lunatic asylum
or to the city jail."
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 91
"To neither of these. What do you think of an
invasion of Catalonia ? "
" Catalonia ! What ? the residence of old Miss
Elmore ! You don't mean to tell me that they had
the effrontery to intrude upon her," exclaimed the
" They must have known," said Mary, " that Miss
Elmore makes it a rule never to set her name down on
any subscription-list, and all begging-letters she in-
variably throws into the waste-paper basket."
'■ Jolly old woman ! " interrupted the Colonel ; " she
gave me five pounds for my sick soldier."
" Which you got because you managed to let her
know of the case without asking her for aid ; so con-
tradiction has its advantages sometimes. However,
our friends, knowing that when Miss Elmore does
give, she gives liberally, determined to provide her
with an opportunity of exercising her benevolence.
They set off early one morning to Catalonia, strong in
the intention of divesting Miss Elmore of five guineas,
the sum which they intended she should contribute."
" Deuced cool, I think," remarked Colonel Leppell.
" The ladies were admitted, and shown into a dark
oak parlour. They were kept waiting some time, but
employed themselves in inspecting the old china which
decorated that apartment. I gather from their own
admission that they yielded to the temptation of
coveting and desiring their neighbour's crockery."
"Einest collection of china in the county," said
Colonel Leppell. " I don't blame 'em for that."
92 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
"At last Miss Elmore presented herself, with the
cards, in her hand and a look of unconcealed amaze-
ment on her face. Making a most elaborate curtsey
to each of her visitors, and waving them to be seated,
although she stood herself, she looked at the cards and
read aloud, ' Mrs Syrop and Miss Braintree,' and then
inquired, ' Pray, who may Mrs Syrop and Miss Brain-
tree be ? I have not the honour of knowing these
" Fine old lady ! " ejaculated the Colonel. " She
knew the names as well as you and I know them.
Fancy the disgust of Miss Braintree — haw ! "
" The ladies seem to have been very much repelled
by this reception," Miss Fanshawe continued ; " but
after a moment's silence, Mrs Syrop, as the elder and
the matron, explained their position and their mission.
She pleaded the cause of the Dorcas Society, and
avowed her conviction that Miss Elmore, both as a
woman and a Christian, could not reject its claims."
" That was very well put," said Mary.
"'Dorcas, Dorcas!' at length answered the old
lady ; ' do you mean to tell me, Mrs Syrop and Miss
Braintree, that you have the presumption to compare
yourselves with that good woman we read of in the
Scriptures ? — a woman who kept at home and minded
her sewing, and never, I am sure, routed up strangers
at unearthly hours in the morning.' "
" What did they say ? How very uncomfortable
they must have felt ! " said Mary Leppell.
"They disclaimed, of course, all intention of com-
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 93
paring themselves with Dorcas, but averred that they
would like in a humble way to imitate her ; and they
ventured to appeal to Miss Elmore to supply the funds
to enable them to carry out their aspirations. Their
humility was of no avail. Miss Elmore waved her
hand and replied, ' I give my alms to whom I please,
and — there's the door.' So saying, she walked out, and
left the couple plants la. You may imagine," continued
Miss Fanshawe, "the indignation with which this
story was received last night, and the comments there-
upon. I assure you, it made the evening quite lively."
" Here comes Bothero ! " exclaimed the Colonel. " I
suppose Mrs Leppell will see Miss Eanshawe now ? "
he continued, turning towards that personage.
•Mrs Leppell is taking some beef-tea, sir; but she
would be glad if Miss Fanshawe would look in upon
my mistress for a few moments. Lady Asher feels it
quite lonely, for nobody has been to sit with her this
Of course Miss Fanshawe would be delighted, but
said that she must not remain long ; she had promised
to be back for the Braintrees' luncheon, which was at
half-past one o'clock. Mary accompanied her friend,
but as yet there had been neither time nor opportunity
for the girls to have a chat, only Miss Leppell had
managed to intimate that she had something particular
to say to Lillian. " Walk back part of the way with
me," said Miss Fanshawe, in an undertone, in reply ;
" you can have it all out comfortably then : now for
94 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
A visit to Lady Asher was not a very lively enter-
tainment in itself ; she was one of those women who
never read, never worked, and had very little conver-
sation of any sort.
Dressed as became her time of life, by the taste and
common-sense of her maid, she often sat for hours in
the same position, with a hand-screen shading her face
in the winter from the fire, in the summer from the
sun ; and if she did contemplate any object in parti-
cular, it must have been the portrait of her late hus-
band, which hung above the mantelpiece. Perhaps,
also, the old lady felt comfort and security in the
knowledge that her son-in-law seldom entered her
apartments, and that to lie upon her sofa and be still
was a luxury which Mrs Leppell could generally
count upon, when the Colonel was more than usu-
ally overbearing and quarrelsome. Here did Henri-
etta, by the favour of Prothero, hold interviews with
her lover, and arrange for her flight and marriage,
after having vainly attempted to induce her father to
bestow the consent which he had at first given and
then withdrawn. Lady Asher had, in her passive
way, however, done much to alleviate the numerous
trials which were the outcome of her daughter's mar-
riage with Colonel Leppell ; and if this lady had never
actually expressed regret for the manner in which she
had brought about this union, it was evident that
she did her best, in late years especially, to atone to
Adelaide for the great wrong which she had prompted
her to commit. Her ladyship had paid pretty dearly
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 95
for the honour of the Hieover alliance, inasmuch as
more than half her fortune had been absorbed in loans
to Colonel Leppell, and the frequent payment of his
debts, all of which was accepted as a matter of course.
At length common prudence, in the person of Prothero
for councillor, and legal restraint, by the action of a
firm of lawyers, who, seizing a moment of exasperation,
opportunely improved that occasion for Lady Asher's
especial benefit, combined to sink the greater part of
what remained of her fortune in the purchase of a large
annuity, leaving what represented about one hundred
a-year for her ladyship to be further cajoled or bullied
out of. But the worm had turned ; and as the legal
advisers had succeeded in convincing their client that
to give or lend one farthing more would be but a pre-
liminary step to the workhouse and a beggar's grave,
Lady Asher henceforth adopted and played the role of
genteel pauper with great success.
" You can tell Ealph, with my compliments," said the
old lady to her daughter, after enduring that gentle-
man's reproaches for what he was pleased to term her
underhand conduct for the space of half an hour, " that
as long as he behaves himself he shall enjoy the pro-
ceeds of my annuity in payment for my accommoda-
tion, and so forth, at Hunter's Lodge. He can visit me
now and then during the week, if he likes ; but I will
hear no more of bills and demands for money, — I am
too poor now, and must take to wearing old clothes.
Oh, Adelaide ! just think what your dear father would
say, if he could look up and see me wearing an old
96 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
black silk, with its rents covered up by means of
bands of broad velvet, and after leaving all his money
entirely at my disposal too ! "
All that Adelaide could do was to reply that she
was very sorry, and express her thankfulness that her
father had made her own settlement so stringent, —
" but you know, mother," she said one day, " I give up
every penny of my income; I only get what Ealph
chooses to let me have : but I will put up with any-
thing for peace's sake." In these confidences never
had the name of Everard Glascott passed the lips
of either lady : they heard of him indirectly, at long
intervals, and Lady Asher sometimes wondered if
her daughter, in her heart, regretted her early love ;
but this reflection only glimmered on Lady Asher 's
soul after the blazon of the Hieover connection had
become dim, and the pressure of lack of money was
casting a shadow over both their lives. Then the
mother thought of Everard Glascott, and confessed
that she had done the thing which she ought not
to have done. Of this, however, she never spoke, and
even Prothero only knew that Adelaide had not
married her first love, and that Colonel Leppell,
according to both these ladies, had not fulfilled the
promise of his earlier days.
As it generally befalls those persons who give a
great deal of trouble, and are the cause of universal
anxiety, those around Lady Asher were most de-
voted, not only in sparing her any inconvenience to
which her infirmity of severe lameness might expose
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 97
her, but also in saving her from annoyance and agita-
tion of every description ; and if it were imperative
that any adverse or uncomfortable communication
must be made to her, Prothero was invariably dele-
gated to perform this duty. She knew the old lady's
ways, it was urged, and exactly what to say and what
to leave unsaid. Mrs Leppell often made use of Pro-
thero's services in the like event, because she thereby
escaped the indignant commentaries which both mis-
tress and maid were wont to pour forth when Colonel
Leppell's " difficulties " were the subject of considera-
" After all, Ealph is fond of me after his own
fashion," the wife argued to herself, " and those peo-
ple in the wing are sometimes too hard on him," —
" those people in the wing " having special reference to
Lady Asher and her maid, together with their habitat.
Mrs Leppell had already told Prothero as much as
she thought fit concerning Duke and the unsuccessful
issue of his elopement. She limited her confidence at
this point, and begged the attendant to convey this
piece of news to grandmamma, and to tell the old lady
that she would talk the matter over with her at her
early dinner, at which she would join her at two
o'clock. Mrs Leppell alleged that it was the visit
of the officer of the Chancery Court which had
made her ill, and also the severity of the east wind.
" Don't alarm my mother into coining to see me,"
she continued, " but go into the garden and ask Miss
Fanshawe to visit her before she comes to me."
VOL. I. G
98 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Very well, ma'am," Prothero replied, not believing
a word about the east wind, and feeling convinced
that something more than the elopement must figure
in the sum of Duke's iniquities.
The extraordinary clause in the morning prayers
which had been introduced for that young gentleman's
especial benefit had been repeated to Prothero with
wonderful accuracy ; and this, together with his
mother's great distress, convinced her that Marma-
cluke had stolen or pawned some of the regimental
plate in order to pay the expenses of the wedding-
tour. Like the majority of her sex, Prothero was apt
to jump at conclusions, but she rarely allowed her
conclusions to jump beyond her own brain — a piece of
wisdom which many women would do well to imitate.
Miss Panshawe, accompanied by Mary, paid her
visit to grandmamma, and was cordially welcomed
by that lady, who was always glad to see her, for she
reminded her of what Adelaide had been in her early
years. Lady Asher's infirmity prevented her getting
about at pleasure, and she was always gratified when
youth and freshness came to seek her. The girls had
brought some early spring flowerets in with them —
flowerets so scarce yet, that a whole bunch of one
kind could not be collected together ; but sweet
violets, and here and there a ball of the delicate
hepatica, which had early put forth its head in thank-
fulness for being planted under a sunny wall, in com-
pany with their delicate sister primrose, told the sweet
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 99
story that the winter was gone, and that colour and
greenness had begun to deck the earth. No wonder
that the breath of Spring incensed the aged lady's
room, as these fair girls brought with them the bless-
ing of her children, the new-born flowers.
So they talk cheerfully, and G. M. (as she is fami-
liarly abbreviated by her descendants) hears with
considerable gusto the story of old Miss Elmore and
the Dorcas Society's pioneers. Lady Asher has no
ill-feeling towards the present people who take the
lead in society ; but she thoroughly enjoys, with her
silent laugh, the fact that one of her own generation
is well up to the mark, and is so much better able to
take care of her purse than she herself had been.
There was also a point gained in the suppression of
Sarah Braintree, however short that suppression
might be. The Canon's daughter had once been
taken into the " wing " of Hunter's Lodge, and that
visit resulted in Lady Asher pronouncing Sarah to
be an audacious young female, and a disgrace to the
cloth ; and further, in insisting that under no circum-
stances whatever must the said . audacious female be
allowed to again enter that portion of the house. No
wonder, then, that on this particular morning Miss
Fanshawe's advent was especially acceptable.
Prothero soon comes with a message from Mrs
Leppell to the effect that she is sorry to hurry Miss
Fanshawe, but that time is getting on, and she much
wishes to see that young lady alone. Miss Fanshawe
100 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
rises to take leave, and Mary says in a low voice,
"Mamma wants to tell you about me, so I'll stay
here. Let me know when you go, as I can walk part
of the way back with you, as I proposed to do — that
is, if you really can't stay ? "
"Impossible, my dear. It was really good of Mrs
Braintree to excuse me, and I promised to return to
luncheon : besides, if I am not punctual, papa would
not take me out with him again, and I enjoy visiting
with him alone, he is always so much nicer without
mamma." This was said in a sweet equable tone,
quite as a matter of course ; and then Miss Fanshawe
took her leave.
« Very superior girl that," remarked the old lady,
looking after her. " Now, my dear, Prothero is busy
getting up my laces and spring things, so I would be
glad if you would arrange the room a little, and put
those flowers in water, and see to the hyacinths ; they
are beginning to sprout, and want a little water added
in their glasses. Your father takes all the newspapers
into that horrid den of his. I wish he would leave
the ' Illustrated ' alone ; that is my own private paper,
and I hate looking at pictures smelling of tobacco —
nasty, low, vulgar habit — I mean smoking in a room ;
but I suppose ' dens ' of all kinds are more or less
objectionable. And, by the way, I wish you would
write to Furbishe about my new bonnet ; it must be
made of good material, and to cover my head. / am
not going about with a rosette of lace for crown, and a
lily and a string for finish, as so many old hags now-
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 101
adays are so fond of doing. It's wicked, my dear,
and the Government ought to interfere, and shut up
these old women."
" Anything more about the bonnet, grandmamma ? "
" Only that it is not to be very expensive," returned
the senior lady. " I can't afford fine clothes nowadays,
but I will look respectable and like my time of life.
Here comes Prothero with my glass of wine and bis-
cuit. I am glad to get it, Prothero," continued Lady
Asher, as the attendant placed the tray on the table ;
" but you might have had the sense to bring some hot
water. The wind is in the east, and it pierces me
through. No wonder Mrs Leppell has to remain in
bed. Put some more wood on the fire, and get me a
wrapping-shawl, please. And is there no soup ? I
would rather have soup to-day ; just see if there is
any nearly ready."
Prothero avowed there was none even in progress —
Mrs Leppell had been content with beef -tea. The maid
continued, " But I will go and get some hot water,
and add a little wine to this, my lady. This weather
upsets everybody ; even Miss Mary there is not look-
ing her best."
The additional comfort being brought, Prothero
speedily vanished, fearful of being detained on other
service ; for, as Dick Leppell remarked on one occa-
sion, G. M. could find work out of nothing for two
stout niggers, and never think then that she had got
enough waiting out of them.
The ' Illustrated ' being found, happily, in an im-
102 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
maculate state, its owner sunk back into her chair,
turning over the engravings of that newspaper with
deliberation, and enjoying the refreshments which
were daily brought to her at half -past eleven o'clock.
Mary, feeling convinced that the east wind was the
cause of her grandmother's being so exacting on this
morning, set to work to obey the old lady's behests,
rather pleased than otherwise that occupation had
been supplied her which would in no wise disturb the
current of her thoughts.
It often happens that when the body is fully active,
the spirit acts in unison and works freely ; and as we
none of us can properly reflect or meditate to order,
outside distractions often come in friendly guise, and,
by setting the exterior case in motion, give play to the
machinery which is pent up within. The girl ful-
filled all her relative's injunctions with the greatest
accuracy ; but her mind was concentrated on one sole
subject, and the burden of it was this : " In spite of
all mamma said, I am sure she wishes me to accept
Mr Clavering. What can be the reason ? Everybody
hitherto has always talked as if I were to be a grand-
duchess at least."
Whilst Mary is wondering and weighing her own
inclinations and her duty, and hoping in all her inno-
cence and truth that the Father in heaven will guide
her aright, Lillian Fanshawe is in deep conference
with Mrs Leppell ; and as the east wind has affected
the Colonel so strongly that he has been obliged to
seek refreshment in the shape of good warm ale in the
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 103
privacy of his den, that gentleman leaves his wife's
room as soon as he has seen Miss Fanshawe safely
within that apartment.
" It is not often that I am to be found in bed at
this hour, Lillian," said Mrs Leppell, smiling and try-
ing to look at ease ; " but I have not been well for
some time, and this east wind has, I think, got quite
a hold upon me. I am so glad you have come, for I
want to speak to you about Mary."
" Moll gave me a hint that you had something to
say to me about her," Miss Fanshawe replied ; " but
she had no opportunity of giving me a clue to the
subject. However, where Moll is concerned, it is easy
to draw a conclusion, so I will say at once that I shall
be truly, heartily delighted to be taken in to dinner
some day behind Lady Willows."
The girl's eyes, bright with right goodwill and
friendship, arrested Mrs Leppell's attention, and she
involuntarily congratulated herself that Mary had so
staunch a friend — so genuine and so free from envy,
the good lady thought. She even felt regret at having
to tell her visitor how far wide of the mark her con-
clusions had fallen.
" You are wrong, Lillian," she said, after a moment's
pause. " The Willows event has been predicted and
expected by more than yourself ; but it has turned to
moonshine. Lord Willows has paid Mary a good deal
of attention certainly, but he has never gone further
than that. I think myself that he has been trying to
spin out the time till he could come forward with pro-
104 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
priety. You know he has been hardly seven months
a widower, and it would be scarcely the thing to make
marriage proposals so much within the year. How-
ever, that does not matter, for Moll no more cares for
Lord Willows than she cares for any other Tom, Dick,
" I can believe that," Lillian answered ; " but I
had no idea that there was any one else seriously in
the field, and the Colonel evidently favoured Lord
" Oh, the Colonel," replied his wife ; " one never can
quite depend upon him — these matters go just as the
whim seizes him. He encouraged Lord Willows and
made a fuss about him, more to keep off ineligibles
than anything else, and he had taken into his head
that Mary must marry a title, or at least some one
with a handle to his name. Now the man who has
actually proposed for Mary has no handle to his name,
and circumstances oblige us both to be thankful that
she holds this gentleman in some esteem, at any rate.
Now, Lillian dear, you have so much influence with the
child, and she has such faith in your opinion, that I
want you to talk this over and induce her to accept
Mr Clavering at once."
" Clavering ! " replied Miss Fanshawe, with a percep-
tible start of surprise — " Clavering ; not that gentle-
man, surely, who was visiting in the county last
autumn, and who is rather celebrated as a scientific
lecturer ? "
" The same. Of course it is not a good match ; but
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 105
you will understand, when I tell you all, why it is
imperative that the engagement must take place. Our
reasons are most cogent; and Mr Clavering is to be
here in the afternoon."
" Here this afternoon ? " the girl repeated mechan-
ically — " here this afternoon, did you say ? "
" Yes ; he only arrived in Yarne last night. We
had letters this morning."
" It seems — sudden," returned Lillian. " Oh, I am
so cold ; this east wind has chilled me. Let me sit,
please, where that ray of sun is slanting ; it is more
genial than the fire."
" Why, Lillian, you are as pale as death. Eing, and
order some hot wine and water. I ought to have
thought of it, for you have been a long time walking
and going from place to place. Oh, I hear the Colonel !
he said he would come back, for he wants to speak to
you about Duke. There's trouble about him — Duke,
I mean — and we knew we could tell you, and trust
you about everything."
The Colonel came in, and his first observation was
directed to the face of his visitor. " You have caught
a chill, Lillian," he said. " I will go and fetch you a
glass of sherry."
" No, no," the girl answered ; " I would rather you
would mull me some of your elder wine, and let me
have it strong and hot. Lady Asher's room is always
kept so warm, and I think I feel the difference of
temperature from being so much in the air."
The Colonel was an adept at concocting this mix-
106 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ture, which should be always simmered in a silver
saucepan. This utensil had been used lately for
warming some mess for the bull-terrier pup, and had
to be routed out of the den and cleaned before
it could be made to serve its legitimate purpose.
" Bother this east wind ! " the kitchen-maid had ex-
claimed, when called upon to furbish the silver
saucepan and bring it to Mrs Leppell's room. " I
can't think what ails the people, — the Colonel must
needs have warm ale, on account of the east wind,
and have it warmed with a red-hot poker stood up-
right in the middle of the jug : what next, I am
wondering ? "
11 Never you mind," replied the cook, " but do as
you are told, and be quick about it. East wind is
very bad for us all : my back is splitting with pain, —
I think I shall follow the Colonel's example ; so put
the poker into the fire, and I will have some warm
ale to keep the wind out too."
Time and patience brought the pan and the neces-
sary ingredients for making mulled elder wine. A
good tumbler of this most excellent and simple restor-
ative completely revived Miss Fanshawe, and she
was able to receive the confidence of her friends with
becoming interest and attention. Still she was very
silent, and did not express even ordinary astonishment
at the recital of Duke's evil doings.
" You are horrified at what I am telling you," Mrs
Leppell said, " but you are too good to say so. Now
you see," she continued, " why I want you to get
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 107
Mary to accept Mr Clavering at once ; there must be
no delay about it, you perceive."
" Does Mary know anything about this bank busi-
ness \ " Lillian inquired, after reflecting a little.
" Xot a word," the Colonel interrupted. " They
all know there is something amiss with Duke, but, of
course, that I shall put down to the elopement en-
tirely. If the bank affair could only be hushed up, I
am not so afraid of the other case after all, — that is
only contempt of Court — haw ! "
" Yes ; but contempt of the Court of Chancery is
rather more serious than you seem to think. I do
not wish to alarm you unnecessarily," continued Miss
Fanshawe, whose colour had now returned, "but I
must tell you that Duke has committed himself most
egregiously. A circumstance of this kind took place
a few years ago in my mother's family, and as it
was much discussed when I was at home during a
vacation, I am not mistaken in what I now tell you.
The gentleman in the case to which I refer eloped
with a ward of Chancery, and married her in some
church or chapel, somehow and somewhere. The
couple were surprised before they could reach the
Continent, and they were compelled to go through the
marriage ceremony again, with proper witnesses, by
order of the Court. After that, the lady was sent to
the care of some especially appointed guardian, and
the bridegroom was imprisoned for nine months.
Furthermore, the lady's money was so settled that the
husband could never touch it, or make it available for
108 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
his own purposes in any way ; and I believe he could
only enjoy as much of the income as his wife chose to
allow him during her life. At the termination of the
imprisonment, the gentleman was required to make an
apology to the Court for his contempt, and he was
lectured and rebuked in the most severe manner
at the same time. In fact, the course of humili-
ation which the bridegroom underwent would re-
quire a life of devotion on the part of his wife to
" But this girl went off with Duke of her own
accord, — of course she did," answered the Colonel,
" Very likely ; but that makes no difference in the
eye of the law. She is not of age, and till then she
cannot marry, I am almost certain, without the Lord
" If Duke could manage to get off abroad some-
where, and hide till the girl comes of age," inquired
Mrs Leppell, " do you think the Court of Chancery
could touch him ? "
" I cannot say ; but would not such a proceeding
oblige him to leave the army ? No ; my humble
advice is, let your son surrender himself at once to
the Court of Chancery and abide the result. His
offence is not a crime, and imprisonment on this
account would not oblige him to lose caste in society.
The more you think of it, the clearer you will perceive
the utter folly of an escape out of the country, even
THE WORKING OF THE EAST WIND. 109
if it could be effected successfully. His wife would be
prevented from joining him, and until she came of
age, his would be a life of subterfuge without any
compensating result. Depend upon it, the more
politic plan will be for Duke to surrender himself at
THE BANKS OF THE YAR.
So counselled this young Daniel, and the two grown-
up children who listened pondered over and weighed
her words as if a Queen's Counsel was pleading before
During a pause the husband and wife conjointly
avowed their utter ignorance of the law. Mrs Leppell
was sure that her son had no intention of treating the
Lord Chancellor with disrespect ; the Colonel could
answer for Duke that he did not know that dignitary
"You had better consult a lawyer immediately,"
Miss Fanshawe urged. "Mind," continued she, "I
have only given you an account of what happened
within my own knowledge ; in some of the details I
may be in error. I am, however, certain of one thing,
and that is, that contempt of the Court of Chancery is
far more serious than any other kind of contempt. It
is sad to hear so dreadful an account of my old play-
fellow, Duke ; but exposure may be prevented if
THE BANKS OF THE YAK. Ill
matters are well managed. As to Moll, if she have
no other preference, she will not require much per-
suasion to carry out your wishes."
" She has no other preference, I feel assured," said
Mrs Leppell ; " and now you understand, Lillian, why
I so much desire your assistance in this matter. It
will never do to allow it even to be hinted afterwards
that we had pressed Mary on account of her brother's
difficulties ; that is the reason that she is ignorant of
all beyond the annoyance of the elopement. Did she
know all, she would accept "
" Old Nick himself," interpolated Colonel Leppell.
" Not quite so bad as that," the wife replied with a
dreary smile ; " but Moll is proud, and I feel sure that
even if this Mr Clavering were repugnant to her, she
would consent to marry him in order to save the
family honour. You see, Lillian, how we are situated
— that we cannot say very much to Mary in the way
of guiding her choice ; we must be thankful to know
that her opinion of this gentleman is very favourable,
and that you, Lillian, dear, have spoken of him in such
high terms of commendation."
" Not more than he deserves," the girl replied, flush-
ing crimson. " I certainly had very little opportunity '
of seeing Mr Clavering, but that little convinced me
that he is a man of very high culture and worth, and
that any lady might be proud of receiving his ad-
dresses ; I mean, that he is not of the general admira-
tion sort, — and that," continued Miss Fanshawe, "is a
quality not to be lightly esteemed. It is too much
112 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the fashion for men to make love all round. This
one, as far as I can judge, would despise such non-
" I am glad to hear you say this, Lillian," continued
the mother. "Mary is so tender, so pure, it would
break her heart if the man she married should turn
out unsteady, or be flirting about with any one who
would flirt with him. Ah ! I hope it will all end
" Deuced bad match ! " burst out the Colonel,
" steady or not steady : cool head, I should imagine,
judging from his epistle. Hang it, Adelaide, I would
not have cared so much if he had not belonged to —
to — you know who. Talk about dispensations of
Providence — haw ! these dispensations come rather
awkwardly sometimes. Well, I, like the rest, must
make the best of this bad business ; but I feel that I
am a regular victim — indeed I do. You may smile,
Lillian ; but I tell you I am a victim to my family,
old and young."
"Well, Colonel, we none of us can have our own
way all the days of our life," replied his guest, slowly.
" We must all learn to give up for others ; nothing
comes right in the world, I do believe. Now, I must
be off, for it is half-past twelve, and this just leaves
me bare time to reach the College precincts. Papa
will be so cross if I am not punctual ; the east wind
always tries his temper. Mary will be ready and
waiting by this time."
" Which road are you going to take ? " asked Colonel
THE BANKS OF THE YAR. 113
Leppell, as he walked down the gravel drive and
opened the gate for the girls to pass through.
" As I was alone, I came by the highroad," replied
Miss Fanshawe ; " but could not Moll and I walk part
of the way by the river bank ? — we are both so fond of
that route into Yarne. We might go as far as the
turnstile, and then when we part we can strike off
there, and each regain the highroad."
« Very good ; but mind, you are not to go farther
by the river than the turnstile at — somebody's mea-
dows — you know ; that portion of the river-side just
into Yarne is not a nice place for ladies — too near the
town and the shipping," said Colonel Leppell. " Moll,
you had better return home when you reach that
point ; or, if you like to walk farther, do so, but don't
go into the town. Take your time and your chat ; I
will come and meet you."
Thus giving his orders, Colonel Leppell re-entered
the house, and went straight to his den ; and his wife
laid herself back on her pillow, and set herself to con-
sider what would be best to be done should the event
now in train not come to a satisfactory issue.
Reviewing the confidence which she had reposed in
her young friend, Mrs Leppell regretted that it had
been so ample and so unrestrained ; in fact, she per-
ceived that she had placed herself and her whole
family very much in Lillian Fanshawe's power, by the
communication she had made concerning Duke's evil
dealing with Cracky Winton's cheque. " You govern
the unspoken word ; the spoken word governs you,"
VOL. I. H
114 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
was a wise Arabian proverb which jumped to her
mind, as she reviewed this portion of her confidence,
and it had at the particular juncture the usual effect
of coming with a warning when the mischief was done.
Yet, why associate the idea of mischief and warning
with the conversation that had just taken place ? Lil-
lian was attached to the family ; " and at one time " —
the mother argued to herself — " at one time I thought
the girl had a very strong liking for Duke " (a most
egregious delusion). " At all events, if it is only
friendship, that would lead her to screen his sins : she
seems willing also to use her influence with Mary."
Still, reason and ponder as she did, Mrs Leppell's
mind was pervaded with the one dominant idea, and
that was, that harm would eventually arise out of all
this secrecy and management. Her own married life
had been little else than a series of troubles and of
keeping up appearances, and she trembled to think
that Mary's wedded life should begin with a disgrace-
ful secret, hushed up by what looked very like a
barter or positive sale. But why should Mrs Leppell
regret the confidence which she had so fully reposed
in Miss Fanshawe ? Had not her husband co-
operated with her in laying bare the trouble of their
hearts, and to one, too, who had often told them that
her own chief happiness consisted in coming to their
house as to a home ? Why should she regret having
told all ? half confidences are far more dangerous than
a whole revelation. Comforting herself with this last
truism, and putting the subject from her mind as
THE BANKS OF THE YAK. 115
being derogatory and insulting to her daughter's
friend, the poor lady fell into a sound sleep.
Those who know the world — those whose career has
been mostly through its tangled bowers and thorny
paths — can most thoroughly understand the meaning
of Mrs Leppell's doubts and apprehensions.
When we review our own past experience, does not
the miserable recollection come back to many of us,
that a certain misplaced confidence, wrung out at the
time by the pressure of the soul's agony, has been
more surely the cause of our subsequent undoing than
many of the false steps which we have taken, more or
less deliberately, trusting to chance for deliverance,
but of which we have never made mention by word or
sign, even to our nearest and dearest ?
A social safety-valve is a treasure not to be under-
valued, but the difficulty lies in choosing when and
where we should use the machine. The experience of
life so often shows us that we are prudent in the
wrong direction ; and when this virtue appears to be of
no avail, or to be thoroughly cast out, we rush into
the opposite extreme and pour out our wrongs and
our sufferings, for the exquisite pleasure of obtaining
human sympathy. The mistake consists in assuming
that the sympathy we thus obtain will endure for
life ; we forget that other men and women are but
mortal ; we ignore the frailty of human nature, the
shadows and lights of passing circumstances, and the
general tendency of all of us to inconsistency of
thought and action. The poet tells us that love bears
116 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
within itself the very germ of change : much more
does friendship do so, especially when friendship is
not of equal growth.
The young are somewhat apt to regard the confi-
dences of their elders either as an outcome of senility
or, more frequently perhaps, as a quid pro quo for
some service which, either sooner or later, may be
required of them, or some assistance which it would
be convenient that they should render. Not un-
seldom, in the rashness of the early tide of life, it is
assumed that the elder person confiding has no other
option in the choice of a confidant. And this idea
very much militates against the sacredness and in-
violability of the charge ; and on all sides the wise
man's axiom is too generally ignored, " He that is of a
faithful spirit concealeth the matter." As long as the
world lasts, it will be a point of great nicety to ascer-
tain in many cases where frankness should end and
where reticence should begin, and vice versa.
The two girls, after receiving their instructions,
walked briskly forward, and only relaxed their pace
as they reached the banks of the Yar. This branch
of the river winds prettily from the town of Yarne
into the country beyond, and the walk to the village
of Blythe, and to others farther inland, is at all
points thoroughly rural and interesting. At this
season, although the weather was sharp, and the livery
of green very feebly indicated, still the imperceptible
sensation of returning life and freshness permeated
the atmosphere and tinted the scene. A clump of
THE BANKS OF THE YAK. 117
primroses in a curve of the bank, brown branches and
twigs dotted with tufts of undeveloped leafage, and
here and there a pronounced outburst of the wild
daffodil, — the dear daffodowndilly, which in old simple
belief was the herald of an early Easter-tide, — these,
with the chirp of a bird and the distant wail of a
lamb, told the old-world tale that the winter was gone,
and that spring, with her fresh loveliness and her
gleams of uncertain mood, had placed one foot securely
on this portion of the earth.
" Well," said Mary, looking straight into the river,
" I suppose mamma has told you all about me : don't
you think this offer is rather sudden ? I have not
seen Mr Clavering for more than a month ; and look
here, Lillian, I do think he might have taken the
trouble to find out how I regard his attentions before
he wrote to the governor, asking for me as if I were a
chattel to be handed over when my parents think
proper : what do you say ? "
" I must answer you by a quotation from a copy-
book slip, my dear — ' Circumstances alter cases ; ' and
here the quotation fits in to the case exactly. You
know the Colonel has always given out that he
must have rank and fortune for his daughters, and
Mr Clavering, like a wise man, secured the fortune
before he ventured to propose. Then again, you
know, dear, how your father rages and storms if any
ineligible ventures within his gates, especially during
his absences from home, and how your mother suffers
118 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Ah yes, poor mother ! but Henrietta's husband
managed differently ; he got my sister's consent first.
I wish I had seen more of Mr Clavering : he is always
very attentive and very pleasant ; but latterly I have
not even met him. All this makes it very difficult
for me to decide."
" You know, Moll," returned her friend, " that a
family feud, or something like that, prevented Mr
Clavering from bringing letters of introduction to
your immediate family."
" But he was a visitor at Hieover."
" True, but Mr Clavering was first introduced there
as a member of the Geological Society : the whole
batch of these wiseacres were invited to the luncheon
which your grandfather gave in their honour. I
conclude Lord Hieover and your uncle Alick were
charmed with Mr Clavering, for he went there again
and dined en ami, and I think stayed a day or so. It
is not probable that Mr Clavering troubled his head
about the family feud, especially as your grandfather
had nothing to do with it, and your uncle had for-
gotten it apparently. Besides, the name of Mr
Clavering's guardian (one of the original foes) is dif-
ferent ; he is an old cousin of the name of Glascott."
" Glascott ! — I have heard that name," said Mary.
" Now I think of it, it belongs to somebody whom grand-
mamma dislikes : there was some writing in an old
album, I remember, signed by that name, but the page
has been torn out for a very long time."
" I had better tell you, Mary, that this Mr Glascott
THE BANKS OF THE YAR. 119
was once very fond of your mamma, and your father
was preferred before him."
" How do you know that Mr Clavering secured the
fortune before proposing for ine ? " asked Mary, sud-
" Simply, my dear, because your mother told me so.
There has been some communication with this Mr
Glascott, but as you have not been made aware of it,
you had better remain ignorant of the circumstance.
You know, by Mr Clavering's letter to your father, that
Mr Glascott is in Yarne at this moment ? "
" Of course ; I hardly read the letter to the governor
through, and the np.me is not mentioned in mine. One
thing, if I accept Mr Clavering, it will be the means of
reconciling my parents and Mr Glascott — there's com-
fort in that," and the girl brightened like a sun-glint
as she spoke.
" He's a first-rate man, Moll, there is not a doubt
about that," Miss Fanshawe said, " and worth a dozen
of the sprigs of nobility and genteel youngsters one
finds scattered on one's path. It is not necessary to
tell you either, that though not handsome, Mr Claver-
ing is far better bred, both in looks and manners, than
is Lord Willows."
" Lord Willows !— little donkey ! "
" A man that you can look up to "
" For advice — he's tall enough," answered Miss Lep-
" And hold in respect," continued the young mentor.
" Yes, and ask his leave if I may or may not waltz.
120 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
He quite allows dancing to our sex, that's one comfort ;
but I remember Mr Clavering saying something one
evening — it was at a party of Mrs Frisky's of Matron
— to the effect that he very much doubted the pro-
priety of the waltz for girls. I fancy, Lillian, that he
rather overdoes the ' dignified.' I don't mind a little
of this article ; but when it is combined with great
cleverness, I begin to feel rather alarmed."
" I don't think you have anything to fear from that,"
Miss Fanshawe said. " Depend upon it, the dignity is
natural ; men of real science or goodness never affect
shams. What a dreadful spectacle it is to confront a
born fool ' doing the dignified ' ; " — and here the speaker
instanced and illustrated an example of this art with
so much aplomb, that Mary Leppell laughed till the
moisture glistened in her eyes.
" Who would believe you were so good an imitator,
— or ought I to say, imitatress ? we are getting so
grammatical nowadays. I should have recognised our
friend anywhere. By the way, I wonder if Mr Claver-
ing would approve of this sort of thing. I should say
that he would not," said Miss Leppell.
"That depends upon how, when, and where such
and such things are done. If my opinion be correct,
Mr Clavering is just the man to discriminate in these
cases, — that is to say, between a little harmless fun
and downright vulgar mimicry. He has a great deal
of fun in himself, in a quiet way, I feel sure."
" I wish I could be certain that he is nice and reli-
able at home," answered Moll ; " these clever learned
THE BANKS OF THE YAK. 121
people, it is said, are always more pleasant abroad than
in their own houses."
" All nonsense, — part and parcel of ignorant preju-
dice, — don't believe that, Moll. Mr Clavering, you
must see, is well-bred and agreeable ; why should his
being a scientific man stand in the way of his being
domestic and kind ? I am sure," continued Miss
Fanshawe, with the greatest coolness, " your governor,
as you all call him, is neither learned nor scientific ;
but that does not prevent him from being very tire-
some and rampagious at times, good-hearted as he is."
" No ; but papa is horsey, and he never in his life
has had enough money, and the two together are enough
to try the spirit of an angel," replied Colonel Leppell's
illogical fair daughter. " Nevertheless, in spite of all
his storming, the clear old governor is, as you know,
very kind-hearted. You should have seen what a way
he was in when Diamond, the old hunter, died — that
horse was like one of the family. Yes, papa has his
whims, but he is full of good feeling."
" That he is," answered Lillian ; " both your father
and mother are so tender and loving for their chil-
dren. Just look how Duke has behaved, and they have
scarcely reproached him — doing all they can, in fact,
to make excuses for him and pay his debts. If my
father were in Colonel Leppell's place, I really don't
know what he would do."
" Oh, Mr Fanshawe is a clergyman, and, of course,
he would have to think of the example to his flock and
all that, and his Christian duty would make him
122 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
severe," replied Mary, with the most charming simplic-
ity. " But then, you know, all fathers and mothers
are kind to their own children, some in one way and
some in another; but what is so delightful in my
father is, that he never forgets that he has not been
steady himself, and so he makes allowances for other
people. I know your mother is very hard to you,
Lillian dear, but I don't think she means to be un-
" Perhaps not, but the effects are the same," Lillian
answered. " She has never forgiven me for not being
a boy : it seems it was my duty to be masculine, as
the eldest child, and I failed in doing my duty. Do
you know, Mary, that I cannot recollect my mother
having once embraced me, or showing me once any
loving-kindness ; a cold dab on the forehead, called a
kiss, has now and then been bestowed on me, when
she could not in common decency do otherwise. I am
sure papa is grieved about it, but she quite governs
him, and he thinks it better to let things go their
own way. Men seem to me to be great cowards in
domestic matters, generally speaking, and those with
large families think it best, I suppose, to avoid much
trouble, for peace's sake."
" Well, you may soon have your own remedy," said
Mary in reply. " What have I heard about one Per-
cival La Touche, eh ? "
" A great deal that is mere conjecture, Moll," re-
plied her friend. " It will be quite time enough to
think about him as an admirer when he declares him-
THE BANKS OF THE YAR. 123
self as such. This he has not done ; and since he has
come into his fortune, his self-conceit is something
awful. No, no ; believe that Percival La Touche
comes down from London now and then to see his
aunt, because his father has not time to do so, and
does not care to come in contact with his imbecile
sister. The old gentleman told papa as much when
he paid the rent last Christmas."
" I can't say I admire Percival La Touche much,"
returned Mary ; " he seems to think that every girl is
on the look-out for him, and I daresay he is dreadful
now that he has got all that money from his uncle.
Still, I thought he was very agreeable to your mother,
and she was wonderfully gracious to him, when I last
saw them together."
" Very likely : my mother, under all her appearance
of independence, is a regular tuft-hunter at heart, — no
one knows better than she how to keep on good terms
with persons of money or position. Her tactics are
different, though, from those of the world in general ;
she is generally most piquant and rude to those she
most wishes to conciliate. As it is, she is civil to the
La Touches, because they have a good London house,
and mix much in society. I see through it all : we
are poor, and my mother would like Percival La
Touche for either Eose, Etta, or myself, — no matter
which, only let one of us be got off. There is one
thing — no son-in-law need dread any interference from
her ; she would only be too thankful to him for reliev-
ing her of a daughter."
124 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Thank goodness my mother is so soft and tender,"
replied Mary. " I know at this moment that she fears
to advise me to marry, in case my happiness may be
endangered. She would not interfere, but she would
love her son-in-law for her daughter's sake, dear
mother ! "
The girls had strayed away from the legitimate
subject of their conversation, and Miss Fanshawe
seemed more than usually inclined to speak of her
home-life. She had already made the resolve that
noiv, should Percival La Touche come forward as her
suitor, she would not say him nay ; moreover, she
would be generous, and stifle her rising affection for
this stranger, Mr Clavering, and do her best to secure
the desire of his eyes for that fascinating gentleman.
She now resolutely returned to the subject of Mary's
offer of marriage, and very strongly persuaded her
friend that, by accepting it, a great load would
be taken off the minds of both her parents. She
urged Marmaduke's debts as being a great drain
upon them, — "and you know, Mary," she continued,
" this elopement business will in its way cause much
expense and annoyance. To see you in a good posi-
tion, and married to a man with such a brilliant
name, will, I am sure, be a great comfort to both your
parents. I know your father looked much higher for
you, dear ; but you are a queen in yourself, and you
don't seek wealth and rank for their own sake, I
" Not I," returned Mary ; " and I must say I should
THE BANKS OF THE YAR. 125
like to feel what having quite enough to live
upon is like. It will also be very nice to know that
both Henrietta and I are no longer burdens on papa.
Besides, though I am not what is called very violently
in love with Mr Clavering, still, Lillian, I don't think
that I should like to hear of his being married to
" That settles the matter," returned her friend ;
" and I don't know that it is wise for the woman
to have too much regard. Better let the great in-
tensity of feelings come from the man's side, for in
that case one can never be reproached afterwards for
a display of too much affection. You know Willie
Carew — mean little wretch ! — is always throwing it up
to his wife that he married her because he saw that
she would fret herself into her grave if he had not
returned her love : fancy a woman having to stand
that : "
" It is too dreadful to think of," returned Mary ;
" and it should be a warning to us to keep our admir-
ers in the ice-pail, even when we are sure of them.
Talk of ice, here it comes," and a shower of hail
peppered these young women right and left, and
almost blinded their eyes. They were near the turn-
stile leading into the meadows which bordered the
highroad. A broken-down shed, apparently used as
a protection for live stock, stood nearly mid-way : to
this they wended their steps, and they had hardly
reached their shelter when the entrance was dark-
ened by a figure evidently bent upon the same ob-
126 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ject as themselves — viz., protection from the bitter
shaling sleet-storm. Mr Francis Clavering — for it was
he — walked straight towards the ladies, saying, " You
passed through the turnstile so quickly that you did
not see me. I was a little way down on the bank ex-
amining a peculiar- looking stone, and saw you coming
along. How ladies can run when they choose," con-
tinued he, " and no wonder ; why, my coat is powdered
with hail as thickly as are your dresses."
The shaking and stamping was just then a peculi-
arly opportune diversion, for this meeting was awk-
ward, and each one of the company felt that it was so,
as they severally wondered what brought the other
to that place.
Naturally, Miss Leppell did not like to appear as if
she were coming to meet Mr Clavering, and it was
impossible to say that this gentleman was expected,
by his own appointment, in the afternoon at Hunter's
Lodge, or to assume that it was towards that residence
that he was now bending his steps. So Miss Leppell
rather iced her salute, and remarked how uncomfort-
able the east wind made everybody feel. Miss Fan-
shawe, flushed with surprise, in which pleasure held
a very considerable place, for a moment lost her usual
calm self-possession, and volunteered the bare informa-
tion that she was on her way to lunch with the Brain-
trees, which being apropos of nothing at all, bewildered
Mr Clavering into inquiring if it were not rather
a long way from Pinnacles ; and forthwith supple-
menting that remark by saying that he was looking
THE BANKS OF THE YAK. 127
for a friend who had left him to take a constitu-
tional walk by the river.
All this was pure fiction on Mr Clavering's part,
who in reality was endeavouring to kill time by feast-
ing his eyes on the river approach to Blythe. It
failed so signally in being accepted for truth that
Miss Fanshawe, quickly recovering herself, repeated,
with an arch twinkle of her eye, a verse of a hymn
which was the outpouring of a converted negro, a kind
of sable Dr Watts on a Jamaica plantation, in the
year of grace 1837 : —
" Auntie Prissie, Auntie Prissie told a wicked story ;
Clap a plaster on her mouth, and take her up to glory."
The chorus of this song was —
" Hulloo boo, loo, roo roo, Missey Chrissey,
Remember the fate of Auntie Prissie."
Miss Fanshawe, however, did not supply the refrain,
thinking, perhaps, that under the circumstances she
might lack support.
The effect of this recital produced a desirable diver-
sion in the situation. Miss Leppell and Mr Clavering
now looked bravely into each other's faces and laughed
heartily, and for a few minutes all three of these young
people talked with very great vigour, each of them,
however, wondering in spirit what was to be done
next — whether to remain together or part company
civilly and with decorum. The position presented a
charming illustration of two being company and three
The hail, meanwhile, had driven past, and only a few
128 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
large drops descended at intervals. Miss Fansliawe
walked out beyond the opening of the shed, and turn-
ing round said, " I must be going now, Mary ; I shall
be late as it is. Will you and Mr Clavering walk as
far as the road with me, and then go your own ways."
Clavering directed a grateful look towards the
young lady — a look which stimulated her into acting
thoroughly in his interests, and which almost repaid
her for the sacrifice of her own predilections towards
him. Perhaps the thought ran through her mind that
if his love could not be hers, he should, at any rate,
be largely her debtor in gratitude for her good offices.
Perhaps, also, a higher and nobler feeling animated
her conduct ; the generous abnegation of self making
her a willing instrument in helping the man she so
highly esteemed to gain the fulfilment of his heart's
desire, and thus perfect his happiness in life.
Who can fathom, who can even discern, the curious
workings of the human heart ? Strange that Lillian
Fanshawe should work so enthusiastically for this
acquaintance of an hour ; that her anxiety that he
should win his love should induce her to discard her
own fancy to the winds, and influence the friend of
her youth to play, as it were, into her hands without
heed of misadventure or probability — intent only on
one point, and that was that Clavering should win the
prize. To say truth, Miss Fanshawe took little heed
of Mary's feelings in this matter. It was sufficient
that, situated as Miss Leppell was, it was a providen-
tial circumstance that a respectable and comfortable
THE BANKS OF THE YAR. 129
settlement was within reach, and it would be worse
than folly to reject this or cast it aside.
"AVe might all three walk into Yarne together,"
Mary proposed, shrinking nervously from being left
alone with Mr Clavering.
" That will never do," replied Miss Fanshawe with
decision. " Colonel Leppel] said he would come and
meet you on your return : you had better, I think,
keep to his arrangement."
" No, no," interrupted Clavering, energetically ; " we
will go so far with you, and return to Blythe by the
river. I will see Miss Leppell safely home."
" The best thing you can do," said Miss Fanshawe ;
" only, Mary, as your papa desired you to return by
the road, had you not better take that way ? I am
sure Mr Clavering will agree with me."
Mary said it was indifferent to her which way
they took, and Mr Clavering made no reply. He did
not want to encounter Colonel Leppell just then, and
it was only out of respect to that gentleman's daughter
that he did not consign that officer (for the nonce) to
warmer regions. Moreover, he had internally resolved
to walk to Blythe by the river-bank with Miss Leppell,
and also with the lady's consent to the deviation of
The party set out for the highroad, and reached it
just as the sun shot forward gleams of steely light, so
warm and penetrating withal, that it was evident
the sun meant to predominate finally over wind and
weather. Like a true knight he had taken fair Spring
VOL. I. I
130 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
by the hem of her robe, and with his golden lance
upheld her against grim Winter, who, falling back
with his face to the enchantress, covered his retreat
with frosted arrows of sleet and rain, fighting to the
death for the dominions over which he had till lately
ruled with iron sway.
Grand old Winter ; fated now to be awhile a dis-
crowned king in the land wherein Sabrina, released
from her icy fetters, first melts him to tears, and then
turns him to a river-god by the strength and warmth
of her embrace.
Miss Fanshawe, under cover of a shower of hail
which pelted like swan-shot, plunged forward, saying
as she did so, " Good-bye, good-bye ; return to Blythe
as quickly as you can, unless you want the skin to be
torn off your faces ; I have not a moment to spare," —
and thus, fearful of being detained longer, the young
lady walked quickly out of sight.
A waggon was coming along the road, drawn by four
immense cart-horses, the two leaders being decorated
with bells en their collars which sounded cheerily on
the sharp air. Sounds in themselves homely enough,
but the cover of their noise was very grateful to the
two young people left behind, serving as it did to
take off' the edge of an awkward isolation. At length
Clavering spoke, and in a tone betwixt entreaty and
expostulation said : " Let me take you home, Mary ;
shall it be the roadway for your father, or the river-
side for me ? Oh, my sweet queen ! choose the river ;
do choose the river, and call me Frank — just once,
THE BANKS OF THE YAR. 131
that is all, — I ask no more. Say, then, the river, and
I shall know my fate," — and he took her hand and
looked beseechingly into her eyes.
His words brought clear meaning enough to her
sense. The river with him, — ah, yes ; after all, that
must be her course : nothing less than the stream of
their lives flowing as one into the stream of time.
Mary Leppell looked up into the face of the man of
science, and read there how love and hope had
banished its workaday aspect, and that tenderness
had routed self-confidence to make way for a re-
spectful, and even a visibly trembling, expectation.
And so the question that was to be asked in state
at a set time at Hunter's Lodge, was simply asked
and answered on the banks of the Yar, within sight
of its silent flowing waters.
" Take me home by the river, Frank, Frank ! " said
the fair young girl, putting her other hand within his,
whilst the soft drop twinkled in her eyes like the dew
in the cup of sweet blue flowers. " I trust — I trust to
you, — we have not seen very much of each other,
certainly — but — but — never mind, — we will go home
to my mother by the river."
A pause ; and then they wandered away from the
highroad and out of the sight of passers-by — and they
were joyous for awhile and silent anon ; and they
looked into the nests of the yellow - hammers, and
pulled the golden tassels of the early budding hazel,
and the events of time and life were blotted from their
memory as they revelled in that hour of pure happi-
132 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ness, which experience tells us is worth long years of
pain. And they at length arrived at the Lodge gate,
as two travellers who were passing through a country
the name of which is Glamour ; and Glamour, we most
of us know, is a region without time or tide, and neither
can those who live beyond it enter it at will, nor those
return to it who have escaped from out its bounds.
Thus it happened that Colonel Leppell did not meet
his daughter on the highroad towards Blythe, and
that Miss Fanshawe, stimulated by the east wind,
arrived at Yarne just in time to avoid her father's
rebuke, and that Mr Glascott lunched alone at the
hotel at Yarne, wondering where on earth Mr Francis
Clavering had betaken himself.
This last happy man on his part lunched very
comfortably in Lady Asher's room in company with
Mrs Leppell and her daughter Mary ; the boy Lep-
pells meantime averring that Moll had brought a
stranger into the house, — the same fellow whom they
had seen months ago loitering about the village with
a green-baize bag on his arm.
" Oh, they knew him — and ma and Moll had hidden
him in G. M.'s room to be out of the way of the
governor." " You know," said Dick to Fritz, " that the
governor's orders are that no man that calls here is to
be asked to stay when he is from home. Well, this
one won't go ; but if pa finds him, there will be a jolly
row." So saying, Dick winked hideously at his brother,
and fulfilled his intention of looking out for squalls.
These young gentlemen were on this occasion
THE BANKS OF THE YAR. 133
doomed to complete disappointment. When the
Colonel returned, Mrs Leppell met him in the hall,
and after a few words had been interchanged he
linked her arm within his own, and marched with
her into Lady Asher's quarters. His sons caught his
words as their parents moved away — "By George!
Adelaide, this is good news. What a weight has been
taken off our minds ! But " — in a whisper — " I don't
like the thing, all the same."
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOTTCHE FAMILY.
There was trouble and perplexity in No. 9 Hin-
ton Square, London, West, the house of Lillian Fan-
shawe's friends. John La Touche, wine - merchant
in the city, and also landed proprietor in the fair
Weald of Sussex, sat in deep conference with Marcia
his sister. The lady was unmarried, and had presided
over her brother's household from the time he had
become a widower, some nine years since ; and she
was at the fat, fair, and forty epoch of her own term
The personal appearance of Miss La Touche en-
tirely controverted the opinion which is commonly
held with regard to the outward and visible si<nis
of elderly maidenhood ; in fact Marcia had, on more
than one occasion, been accredited as being the mother
of her brother's eight children, whilst discharging
her legitimate function of aunt and guardian to these
fine wayward specimens of humanity. Both mentally
and physically, Miss La Touche was of a soft creamy
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 135
nature, and her beautiful skin and delicate pink
colour were always a pleasant thing in men's sight.
The smoke and dust of the day, together with late
hours and fatigue, which dim the lustre of the young
girl's beauty and drive the more mature amongst
matrons to artificial aids to admiration, never affected
the appearance of Marcia La Touche.
At all times almost redolent of the bath and the
toilette-table, fresh pure water and a hygienic soap
were the only cosmetics that ever had contributed
to the embellishment of the lady's charms. Her
figure, more than inclining towards embonpoint, was
restrained by an adaptation of costume at once sen-
sible and cunning, and none could define better than
Marcia the distinction which lies betwixt clothing
and dress, as that astute observer, Lady Prye, was
wont to remark, viciously, — the Misses Prye being
remarkable for being always dressed, but seldom
clothed, in the small hours of the morning more
The common sentiment either expressed or under-
stood by all who first beheld Marcia, was unmitigated
surprise that she should have managed to escape the
snares of matrimony ; and, following the fashion of
the world, the majority of persons were ready with
good and credible reasons to account for this cir-
Those who held no clue, nor were possessed with
any knowledge of the matter, invented false history
and stuck to it. It suffices to say that Marcia had
136 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
in her early youth been prevented from marrying the
man whom her soul loved, and in yielding to the
wishes of her parents she had solemnly declared that
none other should call her wife. "I will obey you,"
she said, after her parents had worried and tormented
her to give up her lover, and had found that his
parents were, on their part, making their son's life an
earthly purgatory, — " I will obey you, but remember,
my life will be a single one. Never name matrimony
to me again ; I will never marry — never ! " She kept
her word, in spite of predictions and head-shakings,
and the recorded experiences of those who had wit-
nessed like protestations, and had lived to see them
vanish, more or less speedily, into the dense atmo-
sphere of a prosaic comfortable establishment. It is
true that the surroundings in which she had been
reared tended to render Marcia very chary of chang-
ing her home; for among her subsequent admirers
there were none whose possessions rose above the
level of a moderate competence, and she was not the
woman to brave poverty or an insignificant position
merely for the title of a married daughter of her
house, except for a first love. This latter ingredient
being out of the question, the remaining single was
purely the fixed resolution of the lady ; and the trials
and struggles of her eldest sister, who had married
the Eeverend Dr M'Taggart, a famous Presbyterian
minister, were rather calculated than otherwise to
strengthen Miss La Touche in her determination to
avoid any chance of a harassed or impecunious life.
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 137
Then her sister Arabella, who had dutifully married
a rich man, and was thought by her own family to
have done great things, had for years lived in misery
with a selfish and uncongenial mate, who uniformly
treated her with indifference, and sometimes also with
At length Mr Kemble put an end to his existence
by a pistol-shot, in his wife's presence, on hearing
that a race-horse upon which he had staked an enor-
mous sum had failed signally, coming in a bad fourth
in a contest, whilst the horse of his enemy had come
in first and won by a neck.
The shock of this, combined with previous anxieties,
had effected Mrs Kemble's mind so seriously that
Mr La Touche, by the advice of physicians, placed
his widowed and childless sister in the retirement
of the old rectory house at Pinnacles, in Yarneshire,
some four years ago. A twofold purpose was secured
by this arrangement. The house being large, it served
also as a country retreat for various members and
children of the La Touche family. Thus it was that
an acquaintance had sprung up between the Fan-
shawes and La Touches : and as the young people
grew up, visits of some length were exchanged be-
tween London and the country. Aunt Arabella,
meanwhile, kept very much to her own apartments ;
but it was whispered, after a time, that she was be-
coming very queer, and that her attendant had now
and then some difficulty in pacifying her. Mrs Fan-
shawe particularly remarked that after Percival La
138 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Touche's visits (the eldest son of that house), the
patient remained in a quiet half-paralysed state for
days ; also that during the time that Mrs Kemble had
been their tenant, Miss Marcia La Touche had never
but once come to see her sister, and then she seemed
particularly anxious to avoid any mention of her
malady, or to admit that she suffered from anything
beyond a nervous depresssion. " Surely," Mrs Fan-
shawe said one day to her spouse, — " surely Miss La
Touche might contrive to come down and stay with
Mrs Kemble. It's disgraceful to think that she has
only been here once in four years."
" I don't see how she could very well remain even
for a short time," the rector replied, " with all that
family and a large London house to look after. They
live expensively, and go into a good deal of society.
Then who is to see to the ordering of Percival's
dinners ? He won't be left to servants, and if he
is not made comfortable in his father's house, he
threatens to live elsewhere. I have heard Miss La
Touche say that she is often kept awake at night,
thinking how to vary her nephew's diet, and how
his favourite dishes are to be prepared."
" Horrid little gourmand ! " exclaimed Mrs Fan-
"Not gourmand, my dear, but gourmet," corrected
the lady's husband ; " gourmet is the proper term
to apply to refined — ahem — refined gluttons."
" What's the difference ? " inquired Mrs Fanshawe,
with a snap at Percival in the very tone of her voice.
SOME MEMBEES OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 139
" A gourmand eats for quantity ; a gourmet for
quality," answered the rector. " Both characters
are bad enough ; but I hold the gourmet to be the
more objectionable of the two, because the latter
gives the larger share of trouble and anxiety to other
people. I don't mean to say," continued Mr Fan-
shawe quickly, "that it is immaterial how a dinner
is cooked ; don't even the cows know good grass from
bad ? but it is the immoderate abuse of the thing in
pampering the appetite that is so reprehensible."
u But Miss La Touche does not cook the dinners."
" Certainly not ; but as mistress of the establishment
she has to order them and sit at the head of the
table. It is by no means a sinecure to have to do
with the La Touche men where dining is concerned."
" Her own sister ought to be considered before
those nephews at any rate," Mrs Fanshawe replied.
" But single women are all alike ; they will only do
what they fancy, even to making martyrs of them-
selves. I should have thought that Miss La Touche's
mission in this life would have been to live with
and look after her afflicted sister, — especially now
that her two eldest nieces are grown up, and can at
least help to manage their father's house."
" They are only just introduced," replied Mr Fan-
shawe (who had a liking for Marcia, and was unwill-
ing to hear her censured, though in his heart he did
think she might have found her way to Pinnacles
long ago) ; " and they require their aunt's presence
and chaperonage more than ever. As to Marcia La
140 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Touche's mission in life, you forget that she was
taking care of her brother's establishment and chil-
dren some years before Mrs Kemble became a widow ;
and that she nursed the late Mrs La Touche through
her long illness with the greatest devotion. In
common justice, you must admit that few people
can have done their duty more completely."
" I don't dispute that," answered Mrs Fanshawe ;
"but it is a luxurious berth she has got into, plenty
of servants and company, and all the amusements
which fall to the lot of those who belong to a good
London set. This is far more interesting than a
retired life in the country with an ailing and, I
think, more than nervous sister; I had better speak
plainly, more than nervous, — Mrs Kemble is getting
violent now and then, and if we are not careful we
may have a raging lunatic on our hands. I have good
reason for thinking so."
" Well, but you need not express your convictions
so strongly," replied the rector, across whose mind
the same impression had more than once floated. " I
think I shall advise Mr La Touche to call in Dr
" You are right ; and it would be as well to request
the presence of one of the ladies of the family for a
few days. A much better judgment can be arrived at
in this way, for in the flying visits of Mr La Touche
and his son there is little opportunity for them to
judge fairly of Mrs Kemble's state. Besides, it seems
to be Percival's game to ignore that there is anything
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 141
very seriously wrong with his aunt Arabella. If you
remark, he always persists in speaking of the nervous
state of his relative, and has even insisted that she
simulates imbecility, and therefore ought to be shaken
up and roused both mentally and physically."
" Very improper — very wrong," replied the rector,
who was really a man of deep kind feeling, though
there were occasions on which he shrank to show too
much tenderness before his hard-natured wife. " I
wonder if the eldest sister of the La Touche family,
Mrs M'Taggart, could come for a month : it would be
a great comfort, and be somewhat of a change for
her after her late trouble in losing her husband so
" I doubt whether she could leave her family, and
she is very badly off. But I have more hope of seeing
her a visitor at Pinnacles than I have of seeing Miss
La Touche in that character. The latter has been
highly favoured ; her mission has fallen among the
good things of life in every way, and, suffer who will,
Marcia will always live in comfort and luxury."
Mrs Fanshawe was only partially correct when she
made this assertion. True, Marcia's nature was of so
luxurious and soft a mould, that it is questionable
whether she would have acquitted herself with even
ordinary decency had her lines fallen in unpleasant
places, among inferior people, and in close contact
with a scarcity of cash. Eeared, too, from her birth
in comfort and independence, it was natural that in
her mature years she should accept luxury as another
142 THE FAT OF THE LAXD.
step in her wheel of life, and incline rather to the
stalled ox than to the dinner of herbs. But her mis-
sion did exist, although it did not lie in the direction
whereto Mrs Fanshawe had been pleased to allot it.
In a word, the great aim and intent of Marcia's life
was to prevent her brother John La Touche from
marrying a second time, and in this undertaking much
tact and judgment were required in order to carry
matters to a successful issue. Being of a warm and
pleasure-loving nature, with much of the rosy outward
appearance which distinguished his sister, John La
Touche, at sixty-three years of age, was not the man
to wear sad raiment, and decline good dinners, evening
parties, and the delights of his club (gout intervening),
because some of his children were grown up, or to
allow his son Percival to take the lead because a large
landed property had fallen to that eccentric young
gentleman. This latter event had rather the effect of
stimulating the father to assert himself more decidedly
than he had hitherto done ; and as in late years great
commercial success had attended his enterprises, this
gentleman found himself much more at leisure, and
far more youthful in mind and person, than he was at
the period when he became a widower. At that time
he had to work hard to maintain his family, and the
sorrow he had felt at his wife's death, together with a
long illness, had for some years subdued the man's
spirit, and left little time for the alleviations of society
in any shape. Now, with sharp avaricious Percival
as his partner, a first-class managing clerk, and his
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 143
good-tempered handsome young son Andrew among
the juniors in the office, Mr La Touche, senior, felt
himself justified in taking more leisure and enjoying
himself after his own fashion. It was this fashion
that alarmed Marcia, for it had of late taken the form
of runs down to Brighton and trips up to Scarborough,
and quiet little dinners in the metropolis, where
widows and unshelved spinsters played the hostess
with great aplomb and vivacity. The worst feature in
the case was, that Mr La Touche always partook of
these distractions alone ; and a legend was circulated
by Percival, that whilst the family in London firmly
believed that their head was drinking the waters and
disporting himself amid the sulphur-baths of Harro-
gate, a traveller for the firm had actually beheld him
at the same time dancing Highland reels, and whoop-
ing and snapping his joints with the best of them at
the Caledonian ball in the Assembly Eooms at Scar-
borough. And this gay deceiver was writing dreary
letters about his health, and giving accounts of the
missionary meetings he had attended in the north,
" at the very time when he was in the very thick of
gay Scarborough society, and enjoying life at the
Another circumstance also tended very materially
to increase Marcia's uneasiness on this head. Some
time previously Percival had, at the office, come across
a letter addressed to his father, on the envelope of
which the word " private " was marked. This missive
had been inadvertently left on the senior partner's
144 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
table; and his son entering the apartment dedicated
to that functionary, for the purpose of asking some
question relating to business, found that he had gone
out without mentioning to any one that it was his
intention to do so, or signifying the time of his return,
which was rather an unusual omission on the part of
Mr La Touche. Casting his eye on the letter, Percival
seized it, and without ceremony and without qualm of
conscience made himself master of its contents.
These were startling even to Percival, who was one of
those men who fancied that nothing could escape him,
and that it was impossible to mislead or hoodwink him
in any matter, especially in those delicate intricacies
of the paths of life which the French designate affaires
du cceur. We have no English equivalent for an ex-
pression which conveys so much meaning, and which
may refer to the honest tenderness of two souls, or to
that yeasty frothy feeling which, born of the fancy of
the hour, treats the heart as if it were a moral calen-
der pressing up one affection, at the same moment that
another is percolated downwards into nothingness,
diffusing an unsatisfactory flavour of labour lost in its
descent and annihilation.
Percival read the letter through, copied it into his
note-book before returning it to its normal resting-
place, and thanked his stars that he and his family
had made a narrow escape. His father's addresses
might be considered as being safely rejected, inasmuch
as Miss Longview urged the necessity of Marcia, and
one at least of Mr La Touche's daughters, being settled
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 145
in life before she could think of entertaining his pro-
posals, flattering as she felt these to be. The writer
further stated that another insuperable objection ex-
isted to her entering Mr La Touche's house and family
as his wife. This was the presence of his eldest
son as a constant inmate of No. 9 Hinton Square,
and the fact that a large share of the income for
the support of that establishment was contributed by
that gentleman in payment of his expenses. She
meant no offence, but Mr La Touche must be aware
that balls, dinners, and constant company, military
and otherwise, were not congenial to her tastes ; and
the pious leanings of the father being paralysed by
the action of his family, it was not difficult to
perceive that any influence which she might assert
would be entirely set aside by the concentrated oppo-
sition of his sister and his children, &c, &c.
" Confounded old cat ! " exclaimed Percival, as he
entered the last clause of this document, — " the gov-
ernor's pious leanings, forsooth ! We all know that he
enjoys life as much as any of us, and thinks he squares
accounts by asking a missionary and some of the
' serious ' sets to dinner. They never refuse a dinner,
trust them ; but how warily all this has been managed !
I wonder if Marcia has had any suspicion of what my
father has been up to ? We have had our eyes too
much upon Brighton and Scarborough, and his dodge
has been Clapham Eise all the time — the locality, by
the way, and stronghold of the rich ' serious.' Miss
Longview must have five hundred a-year of her own.
vol. I. K
146 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
I am more ambitious ; a woman with a thousand per
annum is my mark. / have no intention of being
married for my money ! No, no. I'm not such a fool
as that ; but I will go and talk this over with Marcia,
at any rate."
To his aunt, therefore, Percival betook himself ; and
casting to the winds the stupid little mysterious
manner and implied innuendo with which he was
wont to treat his relatives, he placed the copy of the
letter in her hands, and inquired what she thought
One would have surmised that some word of reproof
would have followed the information which Percival
unblushingly supplied as to how he had come into
possession of this knowledge of the private affairs of
the master of the house ; but if Miss La Touche felt
any disapprobation of the proceeding, she certainly
evinced no sign of it to the offender.
The relation between this pair was more of good
comradeship than of the distinctive position of aunt
and nephew ; and their twelve years' difference in age
had entitled Percival to treat Miss La Touche more as
an elder sister than as a relation belonging to the
previous generation. They generally acted in concert,
although occasionally they abused one another rather
freely. Marcia, however, by strict attention to Per-
cival's creature comforts, managed in the long-run to
have pretty much her own way ; and as she generally
supported him in most of his whims and works, and
winked at his evil deeds, Percival concluded to think
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 147
with great magnanimity that the world contained
worse individuals, taking all in all, than Marcia, as he
always called her.
" Only think what we might have been let in for ! "
exclaimed the aunt, as she concluded her perusal of
the letter. " Fancy Miss Longview as your step-
mother, Percival ! and her impudence in refusing
your father on account of the family being objection-
able ! Upon my word, she ought to have been glad
of the chance of getting into good society ! " and
Marcia's pink colour deepened to crimson as she
indignantly reviewed the passage which related to
herself and her nephews and nieces collectively.
Then stated Percival, " What a sly old party my
father has proved to be ! I had not the slightest
suspicion of this. I know the governor thinks it
politic to do the good, and come the pious dodge in
certain quarters. It's good for the home trade, and
he never troubles about those who do not give a large
wine order, so I have no objection. Certainly he has
now and then hinted that he sees no reason why
. he should not marry again ; but my suspicions have
been excited in another direction. Where and how
this has been carried on is certainly a mystery to
Marcia, in reply, said that she could not for the life
of her throw any light on the subject. She admitted
that she had wondered what took her brother to the
May meetings at Exeter Hall last year, but accounted
for this in supposing that he wanted to ingratiate
148 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
himself with a certain peer who lectured in that build-
ing during the vernal season, and so thought nothing
of it. She further deponed that she had found some
very highly spiced religious tracts in Mr La Touche's
rooms ; " but you know, Percival," the lady continued,
" nothing delights your father so much as to be taken
for a retired bishop, or an ecclesiastical supernumerary
of some kind or other — non- Catholic, of course. People
get on his weak point, and induce him to subscribe to
their several charities and societies : the consequence
is, that the house is inundated with tracts, and begging-
letters, and appeals, and voting-papers for every insti-
tution in London, I should think. Now, I have
noticed that some of the heavy reading is addressed
in a feminine hand, very likely that of Miss Long-
" Such audacity in objecting to me ! " quoth Per-
cival ; " why, the board I pay here is almost as much
as that woman's whole income ! "
" Yes ; but don't forget that my brother is most
liberal on his part to every one of us," answered
Marcia, with spirit. " He does not depend upon you ;
and as long as you are single, it is as well that you
should have your rooms and servant in your father's
town house, until you provide an establishment for
yourself. It is quite as much a matter of astonish-
ment to him as it is to me, that you should let or sell
every brick and stone that belongs to you ; but that is
neither here nor there. About this Miss Longview, I
seem to know her, and yet I don't know her."
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 149
"She is a sister of Mrs Wiseman, and she lives
with them. Mr "Wiseman is our manager and agent
at Bordeaux ; he keeps the French trade of the house
together, and does very well, though he is an atro-
cious linguist. There are some of his brothers in the
concern as clerks, but they are a canting, stiff-starched
lot, risen from nothing, and always running down
people of better caste."
" I remember now," replied Marcia. " A long drab-
coloured woman, with a face like an unbaked platter ;
and she ate her bread and butter at a school-feast in
some unearthly fashion. She may be very excellent,
but why do these good women invariably persist in
having their dresses so badly made at the back ? "
Percival could not say, but he warned Marcia that
if his father could carry on this courtship in so secret
a fashion, there was no knowing what he might do
next. As it was, they were very much obliged to
Miss Longview, but who knows ? some dashing widow
or even a young girl might be brought in over their
heads ; and Percival grinned as he conjured up this
horrid vision, for none knew better than he how
greatly such a proceeding would harass the soul and
vex the spirit of his respected aunt Marcia.
A noise in the hall here arrested this conversation :
some one had entered with a latch-key, and had dis-
placed some of the appendages of the hat-stand, by
striking against it. Marcia opened the door of the
morning-room, and, looking out, saw to her astonish-
ment that her brother had returned from the city.
150 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
This was a most unusual thing for Mr La Touche to
do, as he invariably lunched at a particular restaurant
at one o'clock sharp. It was now barely twelve o'clock,
and some weighty reason must have caused his return.
Both Marcia and her nephew opined that he had
been taken suddenly ill, and the latter particularly
congratulated himself that his dealings with his
father's letter had been confined to taking a copy
of its contents. It was clear that he could not have
returned home on any business connected with this.
Percival therefore breathed, but for all that he did
not feel quite comfortable, and it is to be hoped that
conscience had something to do with his visible per-
turbation of spirit.
Seeing his sister, Mr La Touche merely said, " Come
into the back drawing-room, and don't let anybody be
admitted up there. I have received some annoying
letters, and I want to speak to you about them."
The plural number fell like balm on Marcia's soul,
for she had entertained some misgivings as to the
cause of her brother's return. Making a sign to Per-
cival to remain in the background, she immediately
followed her brother up-stairs into the sanctum, which
was reserved as the especial private department of
the La Touche household.
" It is all out," said the merchant, as the door
closed upon him and his prime minister.
" About Arabella," answered Marcia. " I knew it
would come to this : it would have been much better
to put her into a private asylum at first."
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 151
Mr La Touche took no notice of this remark, but
pulled a letter out of his pocket, and gave it to
Marcia. It was from the rector of Pinnacles, stat-
ing that, in an access of insanity, Mrs Kemble had
wounded her attendant in the arm with a fork, and
that every article of furniture in her room was more
or less injured. It declared also, that unless some
immediate restraining power were supplied, it would
be impossible for Mr Fanshawe to retain Mrs Kemble
as a tenant, and that the urgency of the case had
obliged Mr Fanshawe to call in Dr Williams, the
head physician of the county lunatic asylum of
Yarneshire. That gentleman had given a very de-
cided opinion as to the violence of the attack, but
could not state, of course, whether Mrs Kemble's ail-
ment was in any way due to hereditary disease. The
attendant had said that it was ; but in any case, it
would be advisable that Mr La Touche should come
at once to Pinnacles, and if Miss La Touche would ac-
company him, Mrs Fanshawe would be delighted to
accommodate her at Pinnacles Court.
" I can't go ! I won't go ! " cried Marcia, raising her
usually low voice in deprecation. " I know what our
mother was. It's too dreadful ; and Arabella would
not have been so bad if it had not been for that horrid
husband of hers : it must be kept quiet for the sake of
" That is not the worst of it," said John La Touche,
with a ghastly pale face. "What do you think of
little Anna ? she has had a terrible attack, but the
152 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
people at the school think it is epilepsy. You
know it is more than that."
Little Anna was the youngest daughter of the
house, a child of eleven years. Curious and violent
from her earliest years, and subject, occasionally, to
fits, she had been placed at a quiet home-like school,
about ten miles from London. Judicious care and
training had proved of great benefit to this little girl,
and it had been hoped that as years advanced she
would grow out of all her maladies. Unnaturally
quick in some matters, she was almost idiotic in
others, and the least restraint sufficed to irritate her
to a lamentable degree. That morning, on arriving
at his office, her father had received a letter from the
principal of the school, urging him to go down to
Slowe without delay. This and the communication
from Pinnacles had brought him back to Hinton
Square, in order to consult his sister as to what
was best to be done.
The folding-doors of the great drawing-room opened
at this moment, and gave admission to a tall fine-
looking young man, whose resemblance to his elders
told that he was of the house of La Touche. He had,
however, a great advantage over them in respect to
his aristocratic bearing and highly dignified manners.
This gentleman was Stephen, the third son, who had
been educated at Oxford, and who now had fairly en-
tered on his career as barrister - at - law. Though
really the flower of his family, strange to say he was
little appreciated by his people ; and had it not been
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 153
for his handsome presence, Marcia would have been
as well pleased had he lived elsewhere, for Percival
and Stephen were always at daggers drawn, and the
aunt, right or wrong, invariably inclined to the side of
her elder nephew.
" What has brought you in here, sir, at this time of
day ? " said the elder man sharply to his son, as the
latter entered the room in the quiet leisurely manner
which was peculiar to him.
" I have returned from Temple Court for some law
papers which are in my charge, and I was looking
them over at this moment in the quiet of the drawing-
room ; my aunt's exclamations diverted my attention,
and I have come in to tell you that from what I have
partly heard, I conclude that there has been bad news
from Aunt Arabella."
Mollified by this temperate reply, Mr La Touche
desired his son to sit down, and at once gave him
the undesirable intelligence which had elicited a cry
more of anger than of sorrow from Marcia.
" What is to be done ? " said the elder man, after
Stephen had perused the letters ; " do you think they
suspect that we have madness in the family ? "
" I won't go to Pinnacles ! " intervened Marcia ; " it
would upset me dreadfully, and I could do no good.
It would be far better to say that little Anna is taken
ill, and that I am called away to her. I don't mind
going to Slowe for a day or so ; but Pinnacles is far
" Yes, yes," replied Mr La Touche hastily ; " but
154 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
about the family affliction ? What am I to say to
this Dr Williams ? " and he looked appealingly to-
wards Stephen as he spoke.
" Simply tell the truth, and say that hereditary
mania does exist in our family, owing to the fre-
quent intermarriages between cousins in all its gen-
erations," the young man replied. " The doctor could
then act with greater certainty, and know better what
course to adopt. Depend upon it, the truth will serve
best. If Aunt Marcia will not go, perhaps you will
let me accompany you," continued the young man.
" I think Aunt Arabella would be glad to see me :
she was always fond of me as a boy, and you
know I spent a long time with them at Heidelberg.
She referred to that visit when I went to see her
two years ago."
" That's not a bad idea," interrupted Marcia, who
was ready to agree to any proposition that would
obviate the necessity of her own appearance on
the scene. "Aunt Arabella likes you, Stephen, and
people that are, are — queer, can be better managed
by those whom they like. Yes, you had better ac-
company your father."
" The Fanshawe family, of course, know the full
extent of the malady, don't they ? " said Stephen,
who had been abroad since his return from college,
and was not up in the details of this terrible case.
" In fact, circumstances must have forced the know-
ledge upon them."
" When I placed your aunt there — at Pinnacles, I
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 155
mean — I told Mr Fanshawe that she was a very
nervous invalid, and liable at intervals to attacks of
mental aberration ; accrediting all to the sufferings
she had gone through with her husband, and the
shock of his death by his own hand," answered Mr
" That was quite enough to account for any woman
going off her head," interrupted Marcia, with a little
triumphant waggle of her own head at Stephen.
" Yes," answered the nephew, " especially when
there is the hereditary taint of lunacy to aggravate
and bring out any disposition to excitement."
" You see," said Mr La Touche, not heeding his son's
remark, but anxious to vindicate his method of action
— " you see Mr Kemble's death was such a fortunate
dispensation, and accounted so satisfactorily for the
state of the widow, that there was no necessity for
making Mr Fanshawe aware of the family tendency
— liability — umh — predisposition to excitement. Un-
fortunately your aunt has become more peculiar, and
even violent, for you see by the rector's letter that
she has destroyed some of the furniture of her
" Poor old lady ! " said Stephen, in a tone of deep
compassion ; u has this last attack come on suddenly ? "
" Well, yes, I should say the violent stage is sud-
den ; but your aunt has become more peculiar for some
months. Did not Lillian Fanshawe tell you something,
when she was last in London ? " inquired Mr La
Touche, turning to his sister.
156 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
"Yes ; the Fanshawes were rather alarmed lest Aunt
Arabella should take to walking about the village
dressed in brown paper," Marcia replied. " It was a
fancy for the time, and that wore away ; but she sud-
denly clutched the bonnet off a woman's head one
Sunday in church, and of course, as everybody saw
that, it got about that the Fanshawes had a mad
tenant under their charge. Lillian did not like to
tell me this, and would not have done so ; but her
father insisted that he would not be considered as
having Mrs Kemble in his care : we were to under-
stand that she was his tenant solely, and that it was
the duty of her family to provide her with a respon-
" Quite right," replied Stephen ; " I honour the man
for his common-sense. Of course she was supplied
with a proper trained nurse after that ? "
" I had thought of it," said Mr La Touche,
abashed by the straightforward declaration of his
son, — " I had thought of it, but I waited till I could
see in person what to do. In fact, I don't go there
often ; it annoys me, and Percival manages her bet-
ter. Arabella is always quiet when he goes down
to look after her."
" Yes ; because he frightens and terrifies her," said
Stephen stoutly. " The attendant told me that after
Percival's visits my aunt suffered acutely from ner-
vous prostration and sleeplessness ; also that her
aversion to my brother amounts to positive horror.
His very presence seemed to freeze her soul and
SOME MEMBERS OF THE LA TOUCHE FAMILY. 157
body. I was thankful that business kept him so
much at Bordeaux for her sake, poor suffering soul."
" You are always hard on Percival," intervened
Marcia. " I am sure you ought not to be jealous
because he is the eldest son."
" Nonsense, Aunt Marcia ; you know better than
that, and you know as well as I do that Percival's aim
is to make the Fanshawes and all the world believe
that Aunt Kemble's affliction is purely an accidental
thing. It is sad enough," continued the young man,
" that we should suffer from the avarice of the former
generations ; for there is no doubt that the frequent
intermarriages in the family have mostly arisen from
the desire of keeping the money among them. At the
same time, we should accept the fact that as we are
tainted with hereditary insanity, everything ought to
be done, physically and morally, to abate this afflic-
tion. Besides, the fact remains that an affliction of
Providence is no disgrace."
" I don't agree with you, sir — in fact, I entertain a
very contrary opinion ! " flared out Mr La Touche.
" It is a disgrace to have an insane relative ; and there-
fore I think it a duty — a Christian duty I owe my
children — to keep your Aunt Kemble's existence as
much as possible a secret."
" But we do accept the fact," said Marcia, in a
mollifying tone, — " indeed we do, Stephen ; we accept
it as a liability to Jits. Some we call apoplectic fits ;
others, when the case is like little Anna's, we call
epileptic fits. You see, they may be mixed up with
158 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
lunacy, or they may not ; but it will never do to pro-
claim to the world that we are mad. Of course you
see the wisdom of this, but you have got the idea into
your head that Aunt Arabella has been improperly
managed. That's it. Come along both of you ; there
is the luncheon-bell. And, Stephen, go with your
father, and judge for yourself, — I won't go to Pin-
nacles ! "
" You may tell by the stubble what the grass has been." — Greek Proverb.
The satisfaction which Colonel Leppell evinced at the
manner in which affairs had arranged themselves, was
apparent in his reception of Mr Clavering. This,
though not so cordial as that which he would have
accorded to a suitor of his own choosing, was yet
sufficiently friendly to set the latter quite at his ease,
and make him inwardly congratulate himself on the
success of his wooing.
Lady Asher could not remember the time when a
pleasanter party had assembled round the table in her
private apartment, and she much wondered who this
stranger might be who cast an almost magical charm
upon herself and upon all there assembled.
Prothero had barely time to apprise Lady Asher
that Mrs Leppell intended to bring a stranger into her
room to luncheon, and to beg her mistress to ask no
questions, promising that she should hear all about
the visitor afterwards.
160 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
She then vested Lady Asher's head in a lace cap,
threw a soft Shetland shawl over her shoulders,
whispering as she did so that the new-comer was a
very learned man — very much thought of in London,
and, she rather fancied, after Miss Mary, but on that
subject it would be as well to hold their peace. Time
Well might the old lady wonder ! Adelaide looked
brighter than she had seen her for months past;
Ralph spoke quietly, and had asked her to take wine
with him — had actually addressed her as grandmamma,
instead of the habitual G. M. ; and Mary, who was
always lovely in the eyes of this relative, now appeared
to her as an angel crowned with the aureole of happi-
ness. This young girl, by that intuitive perception
which God often bestows on those whose years pre-
clude the knowledge which experience brings, felt
that she had done the thing which was right, and that
she in so doing had given satisfaction to both her
parents, and shed around her family the blessings of a
great peace. As Mrs Leppell conversed with Mr
Clavering, she began to like him better than she
imagined that she would have done, and some little
attention he bestowed on the elder lady went far to win
her heart. It was a comfort to her — though a strange
one — to think that this new relative would be quite
equal to maintain his own against the Colonel, should
the occasion present itself, and that there was a chance
of having a man whose opinion and advice would be
reliable, to whom she and her husband could appeal in
MR GLASCOTT. 161
the event of any difficulty arising in the management
of their younger sons. Viewing matters in this light,
Mrs Leppell was not so sure that it was a disadvantage
in Mr Francis Clavering being older and wiser than
his years. Henrietta's husband, she reminded her-
self, was a hot-headed, impetuous young fellow, much
better away in India ; for Ealph, if they lived to a
hundred, would never be influenced by him. Thus,
quite unconsciously, Mrs Leppell had already estab-
lished Mr Claverinof more as a mentor and less as a
son-in-law in their future relations, the one with the
Mary was, as has been seen, perfectly unsuspicious
of the cause which compelled her father to consent to
her engagement, and thus ratify it so pleasantly. The
one great object, as far as Colonel Leppell was con-
cerned, was secured, — the emancipation of Marmaduke
from his disgraceful difficulty. As to the alliance itself,
it might have been better — a deuced deal better. Still,
Providence, and all that, provided for the best. The
fellow, too, is very presentable, and does not come down
upon one with his learning like a load of bricks. Thus
ruminating, the Colonel finally concluded to make the
best of it, and never to forget, that whatever Mr
Glascott might have done to serve him, the bestowal
of his precious Moll was more than an equivalent for
all favours, present and to come.
This conclusion led Colonel Leppell into wondering
how on earth he was to come face to face with Mr
Glascott ; and in this he felt all the reluctance which
VOL. i. l
162 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the injur er usually shows in coming in contact with
the injured person, or even accepting pardon from him.
The position was very galling to Ralph Leppell, who,
though often committing very undignified acts, was
essentially a man of proud spirit, and served as a
strong illustration of a not uncommon paradox. His
case was the more particularly trying, inasmuch as he
was obliged to accept a favour from his quondam
opponent. However, when an unpleasant thing has to
be done, it is well to act promptly, especially as delay
or procrastination would in nowise serve the interests
of Mr Marmaduke Leppell.
Therefore, in an interlude of the general chat, and
quite forgetting that Lady Asher was ignorant of Mr
Glascott's presence in the neighbourhood, the Colonel
proposed to Mr Clavering that he should accompany
him back into Yarne, and apologise to that gentleman
for Mary's having detained his cousin in his walk,
and for her parents having aided and abetted her by
keeping him to luncheon. The Colonel looked around
for approbation on delivering this speech, for he
fancied he had done a difficult thing rather neatly.
" Mr Glascott will only be too glad to accept the
very flattering explanation which I shall give him as
to the cause of my detention," Francis replied. " There
is a saying that happiness comes to us whilst we are
sleeping ; mine came to me whilst I was walking," the
young man continued gallantly. "As to Mr Glas-
cott, I am sure he will be as impatient as myself, or
nearly so, to come and pay his respects to you all as
MR GLASCOTT. 1G3
soon as possible/' he went on to say, slightly bowing
to the company.
" Glascott ! Glascott ! " exclaimed the old lady, in
a low voice, to her daughter, and peering curiously
into her face ; " not Everard — not your "
" Don't take any notice now, mother dear," said Mrs
Leppell, casting a nervous glance towards her hus-
band, — " don't take any notice now ; I will tell you
" Xow that you can't help yourself," replied the
old lady crossly. a I am never told anything. What
is your friend's name ? "
Fearful of attracting attention, Mrs Leppell merely
replied, " It is quite a different one to that you have
just mentioned. I did not know he was coming till
he entered the house."
This reply mollified the old lady considerably, and
as the visitor at that moment addressed a remark par-
ticularly to her, this piece of good luck had the effect
of distracting her mind for the moment from the sub-
ject of Mr Glascott.
" We had better start back at once," said the master
of the house, totally ignoring that it was possible that
Mr Clavering would like to hold some further converse
with his fiancee; and indeed, thinking more of the hail-
shower which was threatening. " I am glad to walk," he
continued, " for I have a lot of things to attend to in
the town. These pensioners give no end of bother,
and now some of the awkward squad belonging to a
regiment quartered at Wurstede are to be sent up to
164 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
me, in order that they may drill with my men. It is
absurd ; but, as usual, I am a victim to everything and
everybody. By the way, are you fond of horses ? "
" Very," the visitor replied ; " of good ones more
" That's a comfort. I have just had a very handsome
colt presented to me — that is to say, I have got to take
him from a tenant ; there is no other way of getting
some rent he owes me. Would you like to see this
colt ? He is a real beauty, rising three years, and has
a good many racing points, all first-rate. However,
I will not have him put into training too early ; it is
a bad system this running colts of two and three
years, and will in time, I predict, ruin the breed of
horses. All that is looked for nowadays is speed,
and the training is too severe for two-year olds. Weight
and carrying power are all sacrificed in the selection of
blood stock for pure rush, and, of course, there must
be many casualties in training racers of insufficient
stamina. It makes them unsound in wind and limb,
Mr Olavering replied that he had no doubt the
Colonel was perfectly right ; it stood to common-sense,
" Where is this colt ? " inquired Mary, whose interest
in the horse department made her a great favourite
with her father. " Dick told me this morning that he
had not arrived, I am so glad to hear that the
creature is to enjoy his life some time longer. Poor
things ! how these racers suffer in training."
MR GLASCOTT. 165
He's at Thompson's stable hard by, waiting till I
could send for him. We had better all go down there,
for I desired the lad who brought him to stay at
Thompson's and take a fill of bread and cheese and
beer there. By the way," continued the Colonel,
" that colt represents old Gingell's rent ; just wait a
minute till I write a receipt, — or Mary, you may as
well show Mr Clavering the way to Thompson's, and
have the first look at this beast. I'll follow."
Thus arranging the order of progression, the Colonel
strode off, nearly flattening a little Skye terrier, the
colour of the door-mat, and quite as shaggy, as he trod
on it in his exit.
He took up the animal, which shrieked with pain,
patted its head, apologised to it, and then opening the
hall-door, banged the mat into the garden, where it
alighted among some shrubs. " Never get these beastly
shaggy things again for the house doors," the master
vociferated for the benefit of the general public. " The
dogs must be considered ; they are persons and people,
I feel convinced, and a precious sight better than many
a professing Christian." Colonel Leppell was not far
wrong in his estimate. Ah, what a black list there
will be some day against many for wanton cruelty to
the dumb animals of this earth ! It is an open ques-
tion whether Christians, professed or otherwise, do
not often sin in this respect quite as deeply as the
pagan and heathen they attempt to convert and civi-
lise. It would be interesting to know what the cab-
horses of London, and the turnecl-out household cats
166 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
of Edinburgh, would say on this subject, could the
power of speech be allowed them. The Colonel went
to his den, carrying his maimed favourite in his arms,
and Mrs Leppell considerately despatched the lovers
to Thompson's stables. She then took the opportunity
of telling her mother how matters stood in reference to
Mr Glascott, and explained the relationship between
that gentleman and the visitor who had just left the
table. " You see, mother," continued Mrs Leppell,
" that I could not very well inform you of these mat-
ters when I only knew a quarter of an hour before
your dinner what Mary had decided to do." She then
made the old lady aware of some of the passages in
Marmaduke's present career, using a wise discretion in
the selection, and managed very fairly to be acquitted
of designedly keeping her parent in the dark concern-
ing the affairs of the family.
" I have thought a good deal about Everard Glas-
cott lately," Lady Asher said after a pause, — " I do not
understand why. But do you know that one day, when
I was taking an airing in my donkey-chair, I thought
I saw him walking near the river-bank."
« Very likely it was he," said Adelaide. " Mr Glas-
cott seems to go about a good deal with his cousin,
and you know he is in Yarne at this moment." It
did not suit the lady just then to admit that her old
lover had actually been under her roof, — everything
must remain secret, trilling or otherwise, till it was
well with her eldest son.
Meanwhile Mary returned from her visit to the
MR GLASCOTT. 167
colt, and the two gentlemen made their way into
Yarne. Happening to look out of the window of his
room, as they crossed Eed Lion Square, Mr Glascott
was at first surprised, and at the next moment highly
gratified, to behold the arm of his cousin linked within
that of Colonel Ealph Leppell. He even smiled to
himself, for he heard, or fancied he heard, Ealph's
hee-haw voice : it was likely enough, for when that
officer found himself in an embarrassing situation, he
was always particularly loud. The restraining influ-
ence of Mr Clavering's vigorous arm tempered the
Colonel's inclination to swagger, and it also rather
served to reduce his stride. However that may be, the
hotel door was approached with grave decorum, as far
as progression was concerned.
Before they reached the landing-stage, Mr Glascott
was awaiting them at the head of the staircase.
" Good morning, Colonel Leppell," he said ; " I am glad
to see you. Ah, Frank ! I can understand now why
I was left to take my luncheon alone." He shook
hands with- both comers, and then rang the bell.
" Bring some wine-glasses, waiter, and a bottle of
that old madeira with the yellow seal. You know
where I keep it ; I am very anxious that Colonel Lep-
pell should judge of its merits."
" Yessir, very good sir, — dry biscuits of course ; " and
so the waiter vanished with the words in his mouth.
Thus began and ended this terrible interview which
the Colonel had so much dreaded — that is to say, the
interview which was to renew their mutual acquaint-
168 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ance, and despatch the former animosities of these
two gentlemen into the limbo of forgotten memories.
Then the wine was produced, and fair Mary Leppell
was toasted in the fashion of twenty years ago ; and
the naming of this toast by Mr Clavering further in-
formed Mr Glascott that all was satisfactory in that
quarter. The Colonel pronounced the madeira to be
excellent, and did justice to it, prophesying that in a
few years the very name of this recherche beverage
would be extinct. Then Mr Glascott proposed that
the Colonel should walk round the College precincts
with him. " My time in Yarne is short," said that gen-
tleman, " and we had better enter into the ways and
means at once. Frank, if you have any regard for the
elderlies, you will let us depart in peace ; but I will be
better than you were, — I won't keep you waiting when
Frank laughed, and the two others went their way.
As soon as they got into the street, Mr Glascott said,
" I am very gratified that I am to receive your
daughter as my daughter, and appearances justify
me in supposing that she has accepted my cousin en-
tirely of her own free will, without pressure : is that
not so ?
" Most certainly ; and I think it due to myself
to add, that at this moment my daughter is quite
ignorant of her brother's position. Her mother and I
have purposely kept this from her, in order that her
decision might be perfectly free and uninfluenced.
At the same time, Mr Glascott, both Adelaide and I
MR GLASCOTT. 169
feel very grateful to you for your noble, your generous
action in this matter. Let me add, that we both feel
that we do not deserve it."
" Say no more about it. Frank is unto me as a
son, and I feared that if he were disappointed of this
attachment, — I believe it is the first and only one he
ever had, — his prospects and success in life would
thereby be seriously imperilled. His disappointment
at hearing the report of your daughter's engagement
to Lord Willows was intense ; in fact, the state of his
mind was the cause that induced me to come forward
as I have done. What I want particularly to say to
you is this : had I found that Miss Leppell enter-
tained a decided preference for any one else, and
had honestly told Frank of it, much as I should have
regretted the circumstance, I would still have assisted
you to cover your son's disgrace for the sake of his
mother and old times. My cousin is also perfectly
ignorant of this unfortunate occurrence ; he only knows
that, for his sake, I have foregone a lifelong enmity in
order to secure his happiness. But, as I said before,
had your daughter's affections not been hers to bestow,
I would still have helped you. ' An unwilling squaw
makes an unhappy wigwam/ says the Indian axiom ;
and it is of course a matter of congratulation to us
all that things have turned out as happily as they
Alas ! for human nature. Ealph was wishing in his
heart of hearts that he had known what would have
happened if Mary had been engaged, — he could have
170 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
brought Lord Willows to book in no time, and then
her affections would have been his lordship's, of course.
However, what was done could not be undone, and by
way of distraction, he treated Mr Glascott to an ac-
count of Marrnaduke's elopement, and the failure of
that performance, — " which of course," said the father
ruefully, "was an additional anxiety and trouble to
the delinquent's friends."
" Eemember your anxiety about the bank business
is over," said Mr Glascott kindly, "but you should
take immediate steps with regard to this contempt
of Court: mind, the Court of Chancery is an awk-
ward tribunal to trifle with. I will call at Hunter's
Lodge to-morrow, and we can then talk over the ar-
rangements for settling our young people finally. It
is past four very much ; still, I think, you had better
consult a lawyer at once. You employ one in Yarne, I
presume ? "
"Yes, I always stick to Fagan and Winshaw, — a
most respectable firm, and their office is close to this.
I shall just have time before dark. The ladies will all
be glad to see you to-morrow. Good-bye till then,"
and the Colonel hied at full speed to consult his legal
" Master in," inquired Ralph of a young gentleman,
who was sitting on a high stool, conning a severe-look-
ing document, and wrinkling the skin of his nose very
decidedly over the same. " Look sharp, will you, and
tell Mr Fagan that Colonel Leppell wants to see him
on particular business."
MR GLASCOTT. 171
The lad raised his eyes, stared at the officer, and at
length inquired what he meant ?
"What I say," answered the Colonel, in a voice
which made his young friend jump with such alacrity
that the stool rocked again. " I want to know if Mr
Fagan is in ; you are his apprentice, aren't you ? "
" I am nothing of the kind," replied the lad loftily,
as he descended from his perch. " I am an articled
clerk, and have paid my premium : the office-boy is out."
" Oh, that's it, is it ? Well, never mind, I will call
Mr Fagan myself," — and going to the foot of'a flight of
stairs, the Colonel began to roar, " Fagan, are you at
home ? may I come up to you ? the young prig in your
outer office won't budge ! "
" For goodness' sake," cried the prig in question,
" allow me to go up-stairs. Mr Fagan is most partic-
ular about noise." And so saying, the lad flew past this
peremptory client with the speed of an arrow, and dis-
covered, fortunately for himself, that the senior partner
had ascended to an upper room in order to search for
a document that was wanting in his own office.
" Colonel Leppell waiting," said Mr Fagan. "Ask
him to go into my room ; I will be down in a moment.
Just poke the fire there, will you ? and see that no one
" Yes, sir," returned the articled clerk, as meek as
a mouse ; and in a humbled and chastened spirit he
descended to do the honours to the Staff-officer of
Colonel Leppell eyed the youth with grim amuse-
172 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ment as the latter renovated the fire and cleared away
some papers. " You are young Lilliput," he said at
" Ya — as, Colonel, ya — as," was the reply, given in
" Knew every one of you since you were babies.
Hope you attend to your duties, and obey your
mother ; she's put you into a respectable berth. Now
look here, don't you be playing the grand to the
clients who come to this office — it won't do you any
good. I did not mean to hurt your dignity, and if
you like to come out to Hunter's Lodge any day when
my boys are at home, I'll give you a mount, and you
can take pot-luck, if you will. There, — no thanks, be
off, — here's Mr Fagan."
Glad to escape, Mr Lilliput did make off, and the
Colonel, with a heavy heart, confided the difficulty of
Marmaduke's position to that clever lawyer.
" They won't imprison him for months, will they ? "
said the Colonel, after he had revealed the case, as far
as he was acquainted with it. " The Lord Chancellor
has been young himself," he urged ; " and of course
the girl was a consenting party."
" That makes no difference," said Mr Fagan ; " the
thing to be ascertained is whether the money was the
object of your son's acting in this way. If it turns
out that he was influenced by pecuniary motives, of
course the Court will take a very grave view of his
conduct. Is your son in debt, do you know ? I mean
to any amount ? "
MR GLASCOTT. 173
" Unfortunately lie is," replied Marmaduke's father,
u and I cannot help him. You know, Fagan, I can
hardly keep ray head above water myself."
" Has Mr Leppell been pressed for money ? "
" I think so, at least. I am sure he has," answered
" That's bad," said Mr Fagan. " Where is he ? "
"Hiding in London, — somewhere in Holborn, dis-
guised as a nigger ; only fancy ! "
In spite of himself, the lawyer could not repress a
smile. " Well, look here, Colonel," he said at length,
" you had better go to London, and get your son to
surrender himself at once to the Court. The sooner
you go the better. I will give you a letter to our
correspondents in the city, who will advise you how
to act. You will want legal assistance on the spot.
As soon as you find Mr Leppell, take him to these
lawyers directly. I will think over the case, and send
the letter and any advice that may occur to me some
" I cannot furnish you with more particulars," replied
the Colonel, " my own information is so very meagre ;
at any rate, I will follow your advice, Fagan. You
cannot imagine how much I have to worry me just
now ; I am a regular victim to everybody and -"
Here Mr Fagan laughed outright, and said, " I
think you can manage to keep your own, Colonel,
pretty fairly. However, an affair of this kind always
does bring a good deal of annoyance more or less, and
as far as I can judge, the lady's friends in this case
174 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
are more inclined to obstruct your son than to help
him out of his difficulties."
" Confound them ! Thank goodness, they are no
acquaintances of mine, nor of Marmaduke's either,
with the exception of the girl. He'll have to make
her cut the whole lot when matters are arranged."
" You cannot act too promptly, Colonel," said Mr
Fagan, ignoring his client's asseverations. " If you
cannot start to-morrow, make it the day after."
" I can manage to set off by the night mail to-
morrow ; it does not leave till eleven, so that will give
me a long day wherein to settle various matters.
Send the letter, please, you intend for your agents to
my office ; any time will do, as I shall look in there
the last thing on my way to the rail. Good-bye — I
must step out, for it is getting dark ; " and Colonel
Leppell strode along at a pace which wellnigh riv-
alled the speed of the seven-league boots of the
On the following day Mr Glascott wended his way
on foot, accompanied by Mr Clavering, to pay his
respects, as he put it, first and foremost to fair
Mary Leppell, the lady of whom he had heard so
much as " heavenly Moll." This was in accordance
with the old-fashioned respect and courtesy which,
even at that time, was being elbowed out by the rush
of life, and the selfish assertiveness of what has now
culminated into " fast manners," as well as fast doings.
Nowadays, persons with the best intentions often
seem to consider that these intentions ought to be
MR GLASCOTT. 175
accepted and understood, the rush and hurry of life
doing away with the necessity of any but the scantiest
forms of politeness. There is nothing, perhaps, more
pleasant and gratifying than the deference which a
high-bred elderly man, of what is called the old school,
shows to a young and beautiful girl. It is at once
a tribute to innocence and purity, and sets a good
example to younger men, as regards their manners
towards the softer sex ; and without preaching, it
inculcates the silent lesson of culture and regard for
the feelings of others, which is ever the highest mark
of sincerity and kindliness. It is a delusion with
some, and a delusion that amounts in certain forms
to a superstition, that rudeness and abruptness of
manner is a sign of a good heart, and of sound ster-
ling worth ; and many of the impertinences that are
dispensed about the world emanate most generally
from those who profess to hold the outward observ-
ances of social life as veils for hypocrisy and false
dealing, whilst they are practising their very vices
under the thick cloak of surliness and insolence.
Good manners, whatever they may conceal, are at
least void of offence ; and it would be as well if a
large majority of those who profess great sanctity
would remember that "Be courteous" is one of the
Scripture's golden rules.
There was, however, some little disappointment
mixed with the great admiration with which Everard
Glascott scanned the fair face of this lovely daughter
of the house of Hieover. It was natural, perhaps,
176 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
that he should expect — on a nearer view than that
which he had secured some time previously from the
gallery of a ball-room — to see the girl very much
what the mother had been, or at least some strong
likeness which would at once associate the parent
with the child in her features or expression. In vain
did he seek to discover any lineament which would
in the faintest degree recall the face of Adelaide, n4e
Asher, at the age of eighteen. He could only confirm
the fact that Miss Leppell was much more beautiful
than her mother ever had been. The style of both
was essentially different also, and Mary, in every
movement, evinced a grace and elegance which were
totally lacking in Mrs Leppell, that lady being always
more of the handsome and ponderous than of the
light and lithe cast.
After some conversation, Mr Glascott asked to see
the younger children ; and as many of these as could
be found, intermingled with dogs and kittens, and
even a pigeon held by the scruff of the neck in a baby
hand, were marshalled into the presence of — as it
was represented to them — this very old friend of
mamma, who had come a long way to see them all.
It was only in the chubby unformed faces of the
younger children that the visitor recognised a resem-
blance betwixt them and their mother, and this was
confined to the hesitating expression of the mouth,
and the weak moulding of the chin. Looking up
at a picture which hung in the room into which he
had been ushered, Mr Glascott earnestly inspected
MB GLASCOTT. 177
a portrait which represented a young man in his
earliest prime, dressed in regimentals. The beautiful
evil face bore a provoking likeness to Mary, and was
none other than that of Marmaduke, painted when he
first joined his regiment.
Long did he gaze upon it, whilst Clavering and
Mary were engaged in their own affairs, and Mrs
Leppell had departed to prepare Lady Asher to re-
ceive his visit. What a wicked face, thought the
honest, pure-minded man, as he looked at it more and
more intently, — yes, wicked, and what is worse, hard,
hard to the heart's core. Whom did it resemble ?
not his father, not Ealph — no ; but it bore a striking
resemblance to Alexander Leppell, Ealph's elder
brother — the man of all others whom Everard Glas-
cott had ever avoided, and finally almost detested.
" That is Marmaduke ; he is considered very hand-
some," said the mother, coming up behind her
visitor. " Do you see any likeness to me in the
features ? "
"Not any," Mr Glascott replied; "its resemblance
is strong wherein I would rather not see it, only that
the colouring of the face is beautiful. That portrait is
a flattering, very flattering, refined likeness of your
She gave a low cry, and placed her hand on his
arm. "It is no use attempting to deceive myself,"
she said; "Duke not only resembles his uncle in
person, but he is like — ah, too much like — him in
disposition. Pray God he may not turn out hard
vol. I. m
178 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
and cruel — yes, cruel ; he bears it in his face, and the
portrait is a faithful likeness."
A twitching of Mr Glascott's finely cut lip and
nostril alone gave evidence of the emotion which
he felt. Not daring to yield to this, he merely said,
" Eemember that you always have a true friend in me,
and it will be my first endeavour to try and influence
your boy for good. He is young yet, and perhaps
his present experiences may tone down his wild folly,
and frighten him at first into more respectable
courses. Come along now and take me to your
mother," and he offered her his arm and led her to
the wing wherein Lady Asher dwelt.
" I am lame, quite a cripple, in fact," the old lady
said, as she strove to rise and meet Mr Glascott ;
" if I had the power I would go down on my bended
knees and implore your forgiveness for the wrong
I did you. You forgive me ; I am sure you do, or
you would not be here. Ah, me ! your goodness will
heap coals of fire on our heads ; but we have suffered
— Adelaide and I — no one but God can tell how
"Believe me, all is forgotten, old friend," said Mr
Glascott, placing her tenderly in her chair. " It's
many years since we parted, but have we not some-
thing to be thankful for ? that through the happiness
of younger people, we are all brought together once
more, — that we live to bless one another, and throw
the mantle of old loving-kindness over the faults of
the past ? "
MR GLASCOTT. 179
Yes, yes ; but it is you that have done all this :
you have come to us who so wronged you ; you are
taking my grand-daughter to your heart, and you are
in friendship again with Ealph. I never expected
this — never dreamed that it could be. Oh, Everard
Glascott, what dreary years of self-reproach the
memory of a great wrong brings ! I am thankful,
and Adelaide is thankful, that I shall go to my grave
with your pardon on my heart."
The tears flowed fast down poor Adelaide's face —
her recent trials and bodily weakness had served to
unnerve her. But these were happy tears, drawn from
the source which had been struck by the magic wand
of a fellow-sinner's confession of wrong. Nay, more,
Adelaide Leppell felt assured that her mother would
no longer live an unthankful, fretful woman : she had
been led to admit the sins of her earlier days, and a
good man's forgiveness had brought to them both the
blessing of peace. Come weal, come woe, Everard
Glascott was her mother's friend once more ; and, if
God should will it so, he would lay her head in the
grave as one who had been unto her more than a
They turned with one accord from the past to the
present, and, glad to force conversation into other
channels, they discoursed of the coming nuptials.
Then it was that Mr Glascott spoke of Mr Clavering's
young sister, Willina. " She is a fine girl," he said ;
" truthful and frank, and I think she will make a nice
sister-in-law. She is just Miss Leppell's age. I am
180 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
going to Belgium to fetch her, and I suppose that
her home will be, eventually, at Brydone, in Jersey ;
but I shall return again to Yarne with this young
lady in charge."
" Bring her here by all means," said Mrs Leppell.
"You are most kind. Now, Mrs Leppell, I am
going to trouble you to give this packet to Mary ;
it contains some fine unset diamonds. I have kept
an equal share for Willina ; but as brides have their
own tastes in these matters, and I am totally ignor-
ant about jewelry, I have taken the liberty of en-
closing a sum with these stones which will defray the
expense of setting them. Good-bye, Lady Asher ; I am
going to talk with the Colonel now, and you can all
do as you like with Clavering. Good-bye."
Mrs Leppell attended Mr Glascott to the door, and
then spoke to her mother. No reply came, and her
daughter, turning to look, saw that Lady Asher, with
her head bowed on the table, had swooned away.
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON.
" Only over-excitement and the strain on the nerves
from seeing an old friend rather unexpectedly," was
Colonel Leppell's verdict on being made acquainted
with Lady Asher's condition some little time after Mr
"We thought that at first, Kalph," said poor
Adelaide, "but mother has gone out of one faint-
ing fit into another, and now I do think we ought
to send for a doctor ; " and placing her hand on her
husband's shoulder, and looking the picture of misery,
she implored him to send into Yarne for medical
" I think you all frighten yourselves unnecessarily,"
replied the Colonel. "Give her some brandy-and-
water — not weak sweet stuff, but a good stiff table-
spoonful or so — and don't look as if anything were
going to happen, — I mean, as if the old lady were
going to collapse," he continued, rather less asser-
tatively ; for the loss of the four hundred a-year had
182 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
just darted into his mind. "Who is with grand-
mamma ? "
" Mary and Prothero, of course." As Mrs Leppell
spoke the latter personage stood in the doorway,
and without waiting to be addressed said, "Pray,
go to your mother at once, Mrs Leppell ; Lady Asher
is talking very queerly, and it is not fit that Miss
Mary should be left with her grandmamma alone.
Colonel, will you desire Master Dick to ride into
Yarne at once for the doctor, — there is no time to
" You don't mean to say that Lady Asher is as bad
as that ? " replied the master of the house, glaring at
Prothero as if she were responsible for her mistress's
attack of illness. "Are you sure that you are not
making too much of it ? Give her some brandy. Old
ladies and babies are much the same, they are up
and down in no time."
Colonel Leppell answered in this wise, not so much
from want of feeling, but from such a dread of serious
illness that he unconsciously determined that no one
of his household should be supposed to be likely to
die, or even to be slightly indisposed, when he was
in the way to quench the like proceedings.
So he urged that surprise and excitement, and
perhaps the east wind, were at the bottom of the
mischief ; and that women, as was usual with them,
always made too great a fuss, and were always ready
to summon a doctor on the slightest provocation,
COLONEL LEPPELL IX LONDON. 183
"This is more than excitement, sir," answered
Prothero resolutely. " My mistress has been grad-
ually ailing for some time past, and from what she
has let fall, I feel confident that she does not expect
to live long, — I mean, that her days are numbered, —
she has been so different of late. I am very, very
anxious; oh, my dear mistress," — and here Prothero
not only burst into tears, but sobbed like one over-
come with grief.
Colonel Leppell looked at the maid in blank amaze-
ment: never had he seen this woman so unnerved.
He had for years regarded her very much as the
owner of the automaton chess-player would regard
the mechanical figure which silently plays its ap-
pointed part and works its way, — the soupgon of a
secret claiming the chief interest in its movements.
Thus Prothero had come to be looked upon by the
Colonel as a mysterious special machine, always
moving on well-oiled wheels, and ignorant of nerves
and feelings, or even of fits and starts, except in the
temperament of those for whose benefit the daily
grinding of the mill went round. Tears and emotion
proceeding from such a source had therefore far
greater weight than the alarm of his wife. And so it
was that Lady Asher's son-in-law was startled, if
not actually frightened, into doing the reasonable
" Lord ! for goodness' sake don't give way like
that, Prothero ; old Prothero, you are a faithful creature,
and I mean what I say. You shall have any horse
184 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
you like ; you may have the coach, and I'll drive ; two
of the colts have only been once in harness, but that
"Master Dick shall ride Sally, sir," answered the
maid, almost hysterical between sorrow and the vision
of her master driving her into Yarne ; " may I go and
send him at once. The idea of me in the coach —
oh !" laugh — sob.
Colonel Leppell rang the bell — nobody ever kept
that officer waiting one instant. " Tell Ben Eifles to
get on Sally and ride into Yarne for Dr Williams, or
the other man — he knows ; I always forget these
fellows' names," he said to the domestic who had
appeared like lightning to answer the summons.
" Bring the doctor whether he is engaged or not ; say
it's a case of — well, something that won't wait — not a
confinement, but old Lady Asher. Look sharp. And
Prothero, if you want any camphor, or cod-liver oil, or
mix vomica, or Cockle's Indicus (that homoeopathic
stuff), you had better write it down and send for it
Prothero, who had in some measure recovered her
composure, declined to take advantage of this offer.
"There was a box of homoeopathic globules in the
house," she said, "but it was hidden away, as Dick
had expressed his intention of swallowing the whole
concern at a gulp, to convince the family of the worth-
lessness of that kind of medicine.
"Sensible lad," answered the father delighted.
" Now Prothero," he continued, actually clapping that
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 185
astonished female on the back, "you go into the
dining-room and help yourself to a good glass of port ;
that will, perhaps, be better for you than a drive in
The woman almost laughed; for this vehicle was
the astonishment and amusement of the whole coun-
try-side. In it Colonel Leppell was accustomed to
train, as he pleased to term it, young quadrupeds
for work in harness. His family, both boys and
girls, never enjoyed anything better than to go out
on these training expeditions, filling the coach inside
and out, not only with themselves, but also with such
friends as could be induced or seduced into joining
the party, literally going over hedges and ditches.
That no one of them had ever lost their lives or
injured their limbs must be looked upon as the action
of a special Providence, combined with the firm con-
viction of the young Leppells that their father could,
if he chose, drive over the tops of the houses and
never bring them to grief.
What the ladies and Prothero suffered when these
expeditions were in full swing was never compre-
hended, nor taken into account by any one of the
number composing them ; they had always returned
all right, it was insisted. And what a lark it would be,
Fritz had observed one day, could Ma and G. M. and
old Prothero be placed inside, and be thus driven into
Yarne by Dick, he (Fritz) intervening !
So Prothero was indeed scared when the Colonel
gravely and sincerely proferred this treat to herself
186 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
alone ; and the little surprise, together with her sor-
row and alarm, caused the glass of port wine to be
truly acceptable. Thus refreshed, the faithful servant
was able to present herself in her mistress's apartment
with her wonted imperturbable serenity.
She found Lady Asher literally lying in the arms
of her daughter, in all the prostration of mind and
body in which, with old persons, a long series of ail-
ments not receiving any very direct medical atten-
tion generally culminates. Though her debility was
great, the patient was by no means insensible to her
condition ; and it was perhaps due to the small por-
tion of brandy which Mrs Leppell had given her
mother, that the latter retained her senses and did
not relapse into fainting.
Both Mrs Leppell and Prothero were convinced,
from the broken words which occasionally fell from
the patient, that it was the interview with Mr Glas-
cott that had so thoroughly upset her ; and as oppor-
tunity, in later years, had turned Prothero into the
confidante of the female members of Colonel Leppell's
household, it was natural that she should comprehend
the slightest allusion to what was passing in the
mind of her mistress and friend.
It had occurred now and then in the little talks
with Adelaide which took rise out of some trying
behaviour of the Colonel, when the wife took refuge
in her mother's apartments from a domestic storm,
that the old lady had referred sadly to what things
might have been, and had more than once reproached
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 187
herself for their joint faithlessness towards Everard
Glascott. This certainly was more by inference than by
actual statement, as it w T as rare indeed to hear Lady
Asher mention that gentleman's name. Perhaps
length of days brings increase of wisdom more surely
when it takes the turn and points downwards, to
indicate the extinction of life ; perhaps at this time
Lady Asher more surely bewailed her own sin, and
recognised its wages in the daily harrass and anxiety
which had for long been her daughter's portion in
her married life.
The knowledge, too, had been almost forced upon
her, that a good position without adequate means to
maintain it, is more difficult to bear than downright
actual poverty. The world readily draws the mantle
of obscurity over the latter : and the hard realities
of penury entirely obviate the necessity of keeping up
appearances ; making two ends meet ; fastening on
rich people, time-serving and toadying the same ; or
of any other of those contrivances by which genteel
paupers preserve their " status " in society, exciting
admiration, not unmixed with amazement, in their
Mrs Leppell had remarked that # her mother had
become more reflective of late, and also very appre-
hensive that she had done wrong in promoting Hen-
rietta's marriage in the way she had done, with per-
sistent opposition to Colonel Leppell. That a change
had come over Lady Asher's spirit was evident, for
she had never indulged in any high speculation con-
188 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
cerning the future of her favourite grandchild Mary ;
and when she was informed of the girl's engagement to
Mr Clavering, she was emphatic in her thankfulness
that a comfortable home and a suitable provision had
fallen to the child's lot, rather than rank, even with
a fortune attached to it.
At first, like her son-in-law, Lady Asher thought
she perceived the glow and the seethe of the coals of
fire falling on Mary's young head, through the gener-
osity of the quondam adversary of her house ; but a
moment's reflection caused the grandmother to cast
this idea aside almost as quickly as it had occurred
to her, strong in the conviction that Providence would
never lead Everard Glascott into so terrible a tempta-
tion. Had she known all, it is probable that the old
lady would have convinced herself that coals of fire
of some kind or another must and ought to descend
upon some of the heads belonging to the house of
Leppell. Fortunately for the peace of her declining
days, Lady Asher was entirely ignorant of the dis-
grace which her eldest grandson had brought upon his
name and people ; and with regard to the elopement,
a pitying " poor girl," in reference to the lady, was all
the comment which she thought necessary to bestow
on this matter, warmly supported by Prothero in the
opinion that Duke would make a ten times worse
husband than his father. Lady Asher had in this
instance elected to leave bad alone, and so preserved
a significant silence when that young gentleman's
name was casually mentioned. " Pialph has some
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 189
feeling," the old lady would remark to her maid,
" and he is fond of his children, and indeed of us all in
his way. Why, if he were to catch anybody insult-
ing Adelaide, or even me, he would kill them — I do
believe he would ! "
" You belong to him," said Prothero grimly.
" But," the old lady continued, without heeding this
remark, " Duke is as hard as iron, and as cruel as a
sepoy. Never trust him, in spite of his good looks.
He's of the stuff that the fallen angels are made of,
it's my belief."
" It would be as well not to say that to either of
his parents," returned Prothero with wisdom. " Besides,
Duke takes strongly after his uncle Alex., and so it
can't be helped, my lady, — it is in the family."
" Mary has more the innocent trusting nature of my
dear husband. Oh, Prothero ! things would have gone
easier for Mrs Leppell if I had been more deferential
to him, and submitted to be led by his advice ; but
my selfishness, and my desire to wed my daughter to
her superior in station, has wrought sad things. Ah,
It was from such scraps of conversation that in
course of time, and without making any direct inquiry,
Prothero came to absorb much acquaintance with the
family affairs ; and with the reticence and good sense
which formed the strong points of her character,
she was wise enough not to see too much, and thus
managed to steer clear of the domestic solecism of
putting people by the ears, or causing discomfort by
190 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
appearing to know those things which she ought not
to know, or hear things which she was not intended
Duke, however, in spite of his manifold iniquities,
stood in good stead to his family just now. The
doctor had arrived, and had pronounced Lady Asher
to be ill — seriously ill ; and though he could not posi-
tively assert that any alarming symptoms were present,
still he advised Mrs Leppell to be prepared for the
worst, because there was so little rallying power in the
patient. Lady Asher, he continued, " might linger on
for some weeks, or she might go off at any moment."
" Well, I must go off," said the Colonel, to whom
this opinion had been reported whilst smoking in his
den, awaiting the doctor's verdict. " It will be better
for me to start for London at once and see after Duke.
I'm of no use where there is sickness (this was per-
fectly true), and I believe the old lady will live on for
some time. Pop her into bed and keep her there.
Why, with care and plenty of nourishment, she may
see us all out."
Prothero, who had been the person to report the
doctor's opinion of the case, here remarked that con-
finement to bed would have a very bad effect upon
her ladyship. " Her mistress," Prothero said, " could
not bear to be put aside as an invalid ; it would annoy
her terribly, and lead to bad results."
" I don't agree with you," the master answered with
his usual peremptoriness. " The old lady is always
sitting in draughts, and pottering about that garden at
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 191
all hours ; and that donkey-chair is like a petrify-
ing machine in this weather. The doctor says she
requires the greatest care, doesn't he 1 "
" Yes, sir ; but when Lady Asher gets a little better,
she will resent being made a regular invalid all of a
sudden, — I feel sure that she will."
" Nothing of the sort," returned the Colonel ;
" make her bedridden at once, and she will last for
" It may be so, sir," returned Prothero, whose know-
ledge told her that no good ever had come by contra-
dicting the Colonel, who perhaps was right in his
opinion. It must be within the experience of many
that to confine an elderly invalid to bed, and especially
to one moderate temperature, at the outset of an illness,
has resulted in preserving life at the cost of a continual
course of ailing health, with just as much alleviation
as prevents the situation from becoming downright
unpleasant, or even wearisome.
The second nature which use is supposed to initiate
and to perfect, claims with the most unfaltering
tenacity every privilege for the invalid ; and thus the
patient, when studiously watched and waited upon,
comes to enjoy the situation, after the first annoyances
attendant upon enforced restraint have worn away,
and in the long-run holds out for a length of years,
often surviving the young and vigorous, whose lives,
may be, they have harrassed, and at least made troubled
on their account.
It was perhaps with this idea that Colonel Leppell
192 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
insisted that his mother-in-law should be placed in her
bed and be kept therein. In this there was no disposi-
tion to run contrary to Mrs Prothero for contradiction's
sake, as was sometimes the case with that individual.
To keep Lady Asher alive was his sincere hope and
wish, for the very cogent reason that the loss of four
hundred a-year would place him in greater embarrass-
ment than ever, — all other considerations being set
aside, though, of course, they existed. His former
doubts as to the serious nature of Lady Asher's attack
had vanished completely as soon as the question of
finance had occurred to his mind ; and to be consist-
ent in what he now elected to believe, the house must
be kept perfectly quiet, — no visitors, little going to
and fro, and, above all things, much control over the
tones of the voice would have to be exercised by the
master of the house.
Hating everything in connection with illness, and
not disposed to sacrifice one iota of his comfort or
convenience, Colonel Leppell found a positive relief in
having Duke's affairs to attend to ; and thus after wait-
ing a few hours to ascertain that there was no fear of
present danger to his mother-in-law, he announced his
intention of setting off for London on the following day.
This intelligence was hailed with unqualified delight,
as the Colonel was a positive let and hindrance when
illness was in the house ; so it was cautiously impressed
upon him by his wife and Mary that his duty was now
to look after Duke, and that he could depart in peace
with an unruffled conscience.
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 193
" I really can be of no use here," Ealph said, with a
faint show of reluctance which imposed on nobody.
" Every hour, you know, Adelaide, is of the utmost
importance to Duke. Poor fellow ! his state of mind
must be dreadful, for he does not know that the bank
business is arranged by this time. You can telegraph
for me if anything goes wrong, which it won't — I am
a pretty good judge of these matters — and it's only
natural that you should be alarmed. By the way,
Moll had better give me those diamonds. I can
take them up to town and have them set. I have
hardly looked at them. Very handsome of Glascott
to allow her to choose the setting according to her
" Yes ; and to enclose the amount of the cost in the
case with the stones," returned Mrs Leppell. " There
are bank-notes to the sum of two hundred pounds for
The Colonel gave a low whistle. " The setting won't
cost as much as that," he said.
" Perhaps not ; but the child shall retain whatever is
over for her own needs," said the mother resolutely ;
" she will want several things for her ' trousseau,' with
which it may be difficult for us to supply her. I have
thought that whatever is over after the setting of the
jewels should be Moll's own money. She has given it
to me to take care of ; but I will let you have the half
of the sum if you like. You can, at all events, pay the
jeweller on account, and whatever is required over can
be easily sent. Mind, Ealph, nothing of this is to be
vol. I. N
194 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
spent upon Duke — not a fraction. He is released from
disgrace for my sake ; but the gift to Mary shall not
be used to help him out of his money difficulties."
The Colonel stared at his wife, but made no reply,
whether from amazement at the decision of her manner
or from the consciousness that she was thoroughly in
the right, it is impossible to say. The advantage
gained by what appeared to be passive acquiescence
on her husband's part emboldened Mrs Leppell to pro-
ceed, which she did on this wise.
" You are certainly better out of the house now,"
she continued, " and if you can arrange with Captain
Plume to take your work, you had better remain as
long as you can, and thus get everything settled as
regards Duke thoroughly, and be with him as much
as you can ; and, above all things, don't trust to Duke's
representations, but go to the London lawyers first.
Make Duke do what they advise, and if they say he
must surrender himself to the Court of Chancery, make
him do so. You promise me that, Ealph, don't you ? "
and this handsome, innocent woman of forty-eight en-
treated her husband with all the caressing naweU of
a girl of sixteen.
" I can't help myself," was the reply. " I will do
my best, dear ; but mind, I won't have Duke bullied
or sat upon, — in spite of all, he is our son, our eldest
son. I can't help thinking that this Court will take
care that the lad gets little or no benefit from his wife's
fortune, — that's bad enough."
"He must take his chance of that," the mother
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 195
replied, "and submit with as good a grace as pos-
" One comfort — his wife seems to have married him
from affection, and no doubt she will in the end repay
him for what he will suffer on her account. I daresay
she will make him a handsome allowance, or settle
something upon him at once," said the Colonel, in
magnificent ignorance of the laws of the country in
the matter of the property and marriage of wards of
" We must hope for the best," said Mrs Leppell,
" and do, I beseech you, let the London lawyers act in
the matter. We know nothing, and indeed are per-
fectly ignorant of how all this has come about. Be
sure and make Duke respectful and civil if he should
have to appear before a judge, — these men have so
much in their power."
"I don't like the idea of the lad's figuring as a
nigger serenader," said Colonel Leppell, giving him-
self a shake. " Must keep that dark with his regiment.
Well, the first thing I'll do will be to go direct to
Holborn and relieve the lad's mind. Glad, though,
that he has not been beholden to Thwacker for board
and lodging : he tells you in his letter that he is earn-
ing his bread, does he not ? "
" Yes," said the mother, drearily. She could have
added, " And spending double what he earns : it is the
manner of the race." But she wisely withheld the
expression of this conviction, and proposed, after a
moment's silence, to send Moll to her father to show
196 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
him her diamonds. " You know where to take them,"
she said ; " they ought to be mounted in the very best
" You are right. I will take them to Paris."
" To Paris ! " she exclaimed in astonishment. " Are
the London jewellers not good enough ? "
" Some of them are ; but Dupont is the prince of
jewellers. Besides, he has done a good deal for the
house of Hieover, and I would rather give him the
" Oh, if you know a respectable and reliable man,
that makes all the difference," said Mrs Leppell ; " and
I may as well give you two bank-notes of fifty pounds
each, which Moll will bring you, to pay for the setting.
Don't let the cost be much more, Ealph, if you can
possibly help it. You know how short of money we
will be if anything were to happen to grandmamma."
Adelaide, to do her justice, had only just thought of
this contingency. She was now doubly anxious to
expedite her husband's departure. How did she
know that both of them, through the course of events,
might not be tempted to divert this money from its
legitimate use ?
So Colonel Leppell set out for London, and on
arriving at the Paddington Station of the Great
Western Eailway, drove straight towards Holborn.
He took the precaution to dismiss his cab at some
little distance from the entrance to Mr Thwacker's
shooting-gallery, and as it was nearly dark, he at once
made his way to that temple of pugilism.
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 197
Turning out of Oxford Street, he walked up an
alley which was rather narrow, and paved mercilessly
with those horrible pebble-stones which remind one of
huge potatoes petrified in substance, and extra rounded
in form. "We unconsciously perform an act of pen-
ance whenever we tramp over these ; in fact, it is a
fixed idea in the minds of some sufferers that the
unboiled peas in the shoon of the early pilgrims and
penitents were but a faint joke in comparison with
this infliction of later civilisation.
Here and there a flat paving -stone laid at the
basement of a door announced that a humble dwell-
ing-place gave shelter to some of London's hard
It was remarkable that the windows of these tene-
ments were furnished with short muslin-blinds which
were conspicuous for their beautiful cleanliness. The
masonry of these houses was of the solid thick material
of the olden times, when the dwelling-places were
made to stand hard wear and tear, and their walls
were built thick enough to defy alike winter's cold
and summer's sun. Partly denuded of plaster and
spotted with the colour of decay, as some of them
were, they still presented an air of protection, and the
certainty that the occupants had veritably a weather-
tight roof over their heads.
A woman's form sometimes protruded out of one of
these doors as the Colonel tramped up this alley,
giving his opinion of its paving-stones in the most
forcible language, at the same time turning himself
198 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
about all ways, after the manner of strangers, in order
to comprehend the geography of the district with
some decree of certitude.
" That's a pretty child you have got there," he said
with such suddenness to a woman who was peering at
him through the twilight, that she started and cried
out, " Lor ' ! " " That's a very pretty child ; but
you should not keep it out so late in this air. I am
looking for Thwacker's shooting-gallery ; am I on the
right track ? "
" Ye be, my lord," the woman replied, in the convic-
tion that she was enlightening one of Mr Thwacker's
aristocratic pupils. " It's rather longer to wind about
this passage than the street lower down. Many comes
this way, because it's more private like."
" I fancied when I was here last that I came by a
broad crowded street," returned the Colonel, graciously.
" I know the place when I get to it. The street lower
down is the general way to Thwacker's, I suppose ? "
" Yes, my lord ; but many passes down here on the
quiet. You have only to go straight on to where you
see that light, and turn sharp round ; then you will
find the shooting-gallery right in front of ye," replied
the woman. " Oh, thank you, my lord ; bless you —
bless you a thousand times ! " This for the shilling
that was put into the little child's hand ; but it was
the kindly pat on the curly head of her offspring, and
the gentle pinch on its tender neck which accom-
panied the gift, which drew forth the mother's bless-
ing. Who knows ? In that place and at that time
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 199
when all things will be made clear, it may be re-
vealed how such acts of unostentatious kindness have
been set down by the recording angel in letters of
gold, and have gone far to balance the gross unre-
fined metal of the multitude of sins in the sight of
the Father who pities His children.
" Thwacker's," as it was briefly called, was being
lighted up and arranged for the reception of those
pupils whose daily avocations only permitted their
attendance at evening and night time. It was yet
too early for those whose engagements or proclivities
led them to frequent this abode of athletic science in
the evening hours, and the pupils of the daytime had
all departed. As the visitor stood before the portals,
he could hear the sounds of sweeping and garnishing ;
and frequent pushings across the floor, accompanied
by violent bumping, seemed to indicate that the im-
plements of defence were being relegated to their
several places with the most unceremonious despatch
on the part of the propellers thereof ; the fact being
that the attendants all wanted their tea, and were
impatient to be gone.
As if to take precautions that the work must be
finished before any one person could be suffered to
depart, Mr Thwacker walked up and down, now here,
now there, literally pervading his establishment ; and
the Colonel could distinctly recognise his voice some-
where in the far interior of the building, which ran
back to a great length, and was full of apertures and
windows of every shape and size. At length there
200 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
was a lull ; then a good deal of clapping and shutting
together of doors and casements, the whole culmin-
ating in a triumphant bang of an outer gate, which
proclaimed that Mr Thwacker had for the nonce re-
duced his establishment into quietness of life, and that
he was now free to enjoy his pipe and a " refresher " in
the shape of an enormous pot of London stout. Look-
ing through the diamond-panes of the deep-set window
frame of the apartment to the left of the entrance-
door, the Colonel beheld the pugilist resting from his
labours, and also, to his great satisfaction, saw that he
was quite alone, and not at all likely to be engaged
for some little time to come.
As soon as the last drop of the stout had vanished,
and Mr Thwacker had smacked his lips and given
other outward and visible signs of contentment, the
Colonel withdrew from the window and rapped smartly
at the outer door, which of course was partially open,
calling out at the same time, " I am the gentleman
from Yarneshire, — father of one of your pupils, you
understand ; ah, Mr Thwacker, how are you ? "
Mr Thwacker did understand. Indeed his pro-
fessional experience was so extensive and so varied,
that there was very little of a certain kind of know-
ledge which he could not meet, at least half-way ; and
in this case he was particularly happy, for he was
thoroughly ecu courant with all Mr Marmaduke Leppell's
ways and works, and moreover, so anxious to get rid of
that young gentleman, that there was no risk of his
affecting ignorance, or being reticent concerning the
COLONEL LEPPELL IN LONDON. 201
manner in which the youth was conducting himself,
either in disguise or out of it. So, after answering
the visitor's inquiries respecting his health and pros-
perity, the pugilist said, " I'm mortal glad to see you,
sir, for Duke, — you'll excuse me, — Duke is more
anxiety to me than a dozen other men. Just walk
in here, will you ? — this is my ' sanctum,' and we can
talk in private. I was just going to get my clerk to
write and ask you to come up here immediate. Come
in, sir, and I will tell you the reason why."
IN RE MARMADUKE.
The private apartment dignified by the name of Mr
Thwacker's "sanctum" was a retreat devoted to the
purposes of bodily repose, combined with such busi-
ness as was confined to the calculation of the current
expenses of his pupils and patrons.
A commodious sofa, mounted on a strong frame and
comfortably padded, filled up nearly one side of the
wall. Here it was that Mr Thwacker afforded repose
to his limbs, after labours that might be more than
herculean in their nature: here also he could give
the powers of his mind to the making up of his
"little bills" against his customers.
A slate of huge dimensions was hung up behind
the door, and furnished evidence of the peculiar
style of arithmetic employed in the " sanctum." A
rough drawing of a billiard cue, and various hiero-
glyphical figures, announced that Mr Thwacker had
his own private views, other than those usually ac-
cepted as the signs of computation ; and that he
IN RE MARMADUKE. 203
made use of these with liberality, and regardless of
The explanation of this consists in the fact that Mr
Thwacker had never been taught to read and write,
and it was a marvel to many how this man had got on
in the world so well as he did, lacking the three K's
in their entirety, the omission of even one of these
qualifications being generally regarded as a bar to
commercial success in any undertaking.
Seeing Colonel Leppell's eye directed towards this
slate in some bewilderment, Mr Thwacker felt himself
called upon to explain the meaning of the signs there
depicted. The former, however, disclaimed any curi-
osity regarding the private accounts of the establish-
ment; he was only wondering if this were a short
method of going into figures. Arithmetic was not a
strong point with any of the scions of the house of
" I thought you might be looking for your son's
little account," said Mr Thwacker. "There's little
again him : he makes his money and he pays it as
far as I am concerned — he do. See that black spot,
like a dab of ink ? that means Duke — beg pardon,
The Colonel nodded.
" Well, that mark, one long and one short, means
that he is one bob short in his billiard account.
Here again, white chalk blot means the Hon-
ourable Mr Lilley, five short marks at him ; I see
in a moment he owes five bob. Full moon ; that
20-4 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
means that these gents have paid in full : nice easy
method, ain't it ? "
" But you can't always depend upon this, can you ? "
" Only as a weekly reckoner, and I never lets these
items run beyond ten days, never — it wouldn't do.
For lame accounts — and the wear and tear here is
awful — I pays fifteen shillings a - month to a little
clerk near this, to come and settle everything up,
wages and all, once in the week. He wants the
money and a good supper, poor chap, and in addi-
tion I lets him have a turn in the gallery now and
then, so all works fairly well, taking one thing with
another. The great secret, Colonel, is never to let
things get too much ahead. I am not learned myself,
— I don't pretend to be, and I don't want to be," con-
tinued Mr Thwacker, candidly ; " but I have the gift
of finding out in a precious short time who suits my
book, and I puts my business into those hands as does
it best, and keeps square themselves, and don't want
to know too much."
« Very sensible," returned Colonel Leppell, approv-
ingly ; " I wish I could always get my business well
carried out by other people. But you know the great
Duke of Wellington's opinion on that subject, eh ? "
" Can't say as I do, sir," replied Mr Thwacker.
" I need not tell you, though, that the Duke looked
well after his men, and made everybody do their busi-
ness, and wouldn't stand any interfering or advising
from other people. One day an inventor called upon
his Grace of Wellington, and begged him to adopt at
IX RE MARMADUKE. 205
Apsley House a peculiar kind of riddle which was to
save a great deal of coal, and separate the dust and
stuff from the same. The Duke listened, and ex-
amined the model of the inventor. After expressing
his approbation of the thing, his Grace said, ' Mr A.,
I will order one of your riddles, as you have not kept
me loner i n talking, and have had the sense to show
the working of your machine by bringing your model ;
but I tell you candidly, unless I riddle the ashes my-
self, this thing will be of no use in the household.
Good morning.' Whether this patent riddle was ever
used I can't say, but as it was not the Duke's pro-
vince even to give orders about it, I fancy its glory re-
mained untarnished during the life of its noble owner
at any rate."
" Ah ! we can't be here and there and everywhere,
any of us, and perhaps it's just as well — just as well,
for parents and guardians at any rate," said Mr
The Colonel caught the meaning, and thought he
would take the bull by the horns at once. " Now,
Thwacker, I want you to tell me about my son : never
mind my feelings, — what has he been up to since he
came here, eh ? "
" Well," replied Mr Thwacker slowly, " if I must be
plain-spoken, I may as well say at once, Colonel, that
I shall be jolly well pleased if your son can make
hisself scarce here as soon as may be convenient."
" Hah ! is he troublesome then ? "
" It isn't that so much, but he is so random-like, —
206 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
never cares a bit for my orders, or my wish to keep
this house quiet and respectable. The beaks and the
bobbies are always glad enough to run clown a house
like this, let the owner do his very best to keep things
square. Now Duke, he's a handsome lad, as fresh
as paint, and as round as an apple," continued Mr
Thwacker, as his pugilistic proclivities evolved, " and
it's a treat to see him with the gloves, — it is indeed a
noble sight, sir : but he don't stop at that, he don't in-
deed, and that's why I mourns over him — that I do."
" Has he been sparring in the streets or in public-
houses ? " inquired the Colonel, thinking to help Mr
Thwacker out, or at least to meet him half-way in
" I won't say that he has or that he hasn't," re-
turned the pugilist mysteriously. " Unfortunately,
Duke — beg pardon — he do look remarkable well as a
nigger tambourine - player, and so with his lovely
voice he gets no end of a crowd about him when he
goes out singing at nights, and he makes money like
one o'clock ; but the worst of it, he brings all sorts to
the house that ought not to be here, and treats 'em at
the small private bar round the opposite corner there.
I don't keep a public, but my customers patronise
the place over there, and we get mixed sometimes,
with so much going and coming, ye see. To cut it
short, Duke brings people into the gallery that I
won't have there, and that's how it is that me and
him is likely to have a fall out ; so you are just in
time, Colonel, to get him away quietly."
IN RE MARMADUKE. 207
" Too bad, too bad," answered the Colonel. " But
the police have not been here after him, have they ? "
" Well, no ; I fancy the Court of Chancery don't do
their business in that way (your son told me all his
little trouble, for you see, had it been anything crim-
inal, I would not have harboured him). But one even-
ing, Duke, — you'll excuse me, I can't help calling him
" But he is not known by that name here, is he ? "
inquired the Colonel, in a tone resonant with surprise
" Xo, Colonel, by no means ; he goes under the
name of ' Snowball/ and Duke is supposed to be his
title, because, as I can't help letting the name out, we
agreed to let things slide like that, especially as the
popular idea is that your lad is a young nobleman out
on the spree — for a bet, or something like that — so I
fosters the impression, and it has answered uncom-
This information so far' tended to calm Colonel
Leppell's excitement, that he proclaimed himself ready
to listen to further communications.
" About the policeman that Duke fancied might be
looking out for him," continued Mr Thwacker, taking
up the thread of his narration, " the bobby certainly
roused suspicion by his peering here and there, and
looking at the premises up and down, and as un-
abashed as if they were a lady. Well, Duke thinks
to put a stop to this kind of inspection, so what
does he do but dress up as the devil, and hide in
•208 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the lower court behind a water-butt. When that
poor deluded officer passed, blest if your son didn't
leap on the chap's back, with a screech and a gleam of
phosphorus which he managed to draw across his eyes
at the same moment. Lor' ! Colonel, that bobby
did run like old boots — that he did ; and though I was
very angry, I could not for the life of me help roaring
with laughing, — it was too much even for a jidge to
stand — even for a jidge." Here Mr Thwacker shook
with laughter as he told the story.
" Then this has got you both into trouble with the
police, I surmise ? " asked the Colonel.
" No, sir ; as luck would have it, it was thought to
be a lark from one of the neighbouring pubs, which is
always at loggerheads with the bobbies, and the night
was very dark. Now, nobody ever does know any-
thing about anybody else when the ' police inquiries,'
as they are called, come round ; and the bobbies, as a
rule, keep uncommonly quiet about anything that may
turn a laugh against one of themselves. Duke, too,
had the grace to keep away from the place for some
hours. It was a foolhardy trick, because the black
paint might have given a clue to suspicion. But it
is not that, — it's what he did last night that well-
nigh skeared me, and I can stand a pretty lot
" What do you mean ? " interrupted the father, with
a frightened look on his face ; " speak at once, — tell
me what you mean ! "
" This is what I mean, and no mistake about it. I
IJV RE MARMADUKE. 209
can be as lenient to boys and men as anybody, when
they plays their tricks as boys and men; but when
they dresses up as females, and passes in the streets
as females, and goes to the theaters as females, there
I draws the line."
" You don't mean to tell me, Thwacker, that my son
has done that ? "
" He has ; last night, Colonel, he went to the Hay-
market Theater, dressed as a girl, in company with
one of the worst scamps in London ; he was dressed
as a ' chapprony.' The trick was so well done that
they were not suspected, especially as the scamp had
a friend who escorted them under the guise of an
elderly clergyman. It seems that Duke looked so
beautiful, that he attracted a good deal of atten-
" I wish somebody had punched his head ! " roared
the Colonel. He was terribly annoyed, for Duke's
striking resemblance to his sister Mary at once
rushed to his mind. " The young rascal ! he little
knows what mischief has been done by the like
" True, sir ; well it seems the general admiration
caused the scamp (who, worse luck, belongs to a
respectable family, which I could name) and his
pretended clerical friend to get rather alarmed at so
many people spying and giving their opinion as to
who this beautiful girl might be, and they had the
sense to clear out before the performance was over.
The dressing-up was not done here, or I should have
vol. I. o
210 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
stopped it, even if I had been obliged to knock Duke
down and pummel him."
" Quite right, Thwacker, quite right," said his visitor
heartily. " Where did they go after they left the
Haymarket ? "
" Your son returned here alone, covered with a
military cloak, and with his head tied up in a cape :
fortunately, it was a pouring wet night, and it seems
he stopped the cab short of this, and just put the fare
into the driver's hand, without speaking. So you
see, Colonel, it is high time that he were out of this —
ay, and out of London too. Prison might keep him ;
nothing else will, it is my belief. You'll excuse me."
" Is he mixed up in any disreputable affair ? " in-
quired Colonel Leppell, with a face like fire.
" Not that I know of, neither do I think so. It
was done purely for a lark ; but his companions are
known bad ones, and how they have got hold of him
beats my comprehension. If these rascals were to
offer to enter my gallery, I'd kick 'em out, — don't
think as your son has made this acquaintance here,
" You need not assure me of that, Thwacker," said
the poor father, who looked thoroughly crestfallen ;
"this all comes of these concealments. I'll make
Duke deliver himself to the Court of Chancery, and
I'll — I'll tell the Chancellor that he is to imprison
him, just for a warning — to give him a fright, you
know. I'll call on the Chancellor and the judges,
and give them the rights of the thing; and the
AY RE MARMADUKE. 211
barrister who has to defend him, he shall have a
" Better consult your lawyer, sir ; you might get
into trouble if you undertake such work on your own
hook/' advised Mr Thwacker, with laudable discre-
tion. " But you are quite right to put a stop to this
game as soon as you can, sir, as this sort of thing may
lead to dreadful results, and the young fellow runs
a chance of being made a tool on for no end of
" No one knows of this but yourself, I hope ? " said
"Not a creature, sir. I was waiting up for him,
and as I told you, the bad night favoured everything.
When I saw him after he dropped the cloak, I let out
and no mistake, and I made him tear up every rag
and burn it, under pain of calling in the police there
and then. He declared that he was ignorant that to
frequent a public place dressed as a female was an
offence against the law."
" I don't suppose he knew anything about the law
of the case," said Duke's father.
"That's where I see the omissions committed by
this blessed education system. The youngsters is
crammed with a lot of knowledge, good in its way,
but which nine-tenths of them never want, whilst
they are as ignorant as owls about the everyday
matters of ordinary life. You should just hear some
i of them discussing the laws of matrimony, as I did
the other day after the class was over. Lor' ! a
212 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
young fellow, who has got a wife already, was asking
some of the others if a marriage called a Morgan
ceremony, or something like that, was valid in Eng-
land. One of them declared that it's done by a special
licence, and another of 'em that it is a German
privilege, right in Germany, but immoral everywhere
else ! You would be astonished at the ignorance con-
cerning the law of different things that I has to correct
every clay of my life a'most."
" Did Duke take your rebukes in good part,
Thwacker ? I hope he did," said the Colonel.
" Your son is as bold as brass, and as unyielding
as iron," rej^lied Mr Thwacker, full of metaphor ; " but
last night I properly alarmed him. Yes," continued
the pugilist, with an air of conviction, " Master Snow-
ball showed as white as his name last night, — he
" Thank you, thank you heartily, Thwacker," said
the Colonel, after a short pause, in which he appeared
to be revolving an idea. " I still think I will get the
Chancellor to give Duke a month in prison : he is
liable to that, you know, for abducting a ward of
Court, — terrible liberty to take. I see that more
clearly than I did. But now, where is the rascal ?
Can I find him ? or, perhaps, you had better send him
" You can't see him just at this moment, Colonel,"
said Mr Thwacker, with what he meant to be a smile,
but which really resulted in a defiant grin ; " he will
be having tea with his wife at this time."
IN RE MARMADUKE. 213
" His wife ! " cried the Colonel, really startled at the
news ; " what devil's mischief is up now ? "
" Well, sir, it's more woman's mischief, as I take it.
You know what they are, women and girls, when they
intend to carry things their own way. Mrs Marma-
duke Leppell got away from her guardian, gave the
lady-keeper some chloroform, travelled night and day,
and was here at seven o'clock this morning as fresh as
" How did she know the address ? "
" It seems as they were parted he managed to
whisper to her that he would be here. They were
pursued by people sent by the lady's guardians, and
not by the officers of the Court of Chancery. The
young woman declares that some old cousin wanted
her for his son, and being baulked they set on the
Chancery people out of spite."
" What is she like ? " said the Colonel, suddenly, —
" nice-looking, good feet and ankles ; no accent, I
hope ? "
" She's a nice buxom-looking girl — not quite a lady ;
but, Lor' ! a precious sight too good for Duke.
You'll excuse me, after what I know, Colonel."
" They shall surrender themselves at once," said that
officer, decidedly ; " so it is just as well Mrs Duke has
arrived. They can go together, and be a mutual sup-
port. AVhere are they ? "
" Well, sir, this not being the place for a lady, and
my wife dreading the responsibility, we thought it
best to advise them to go at once to Holloway, and
214 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
take a quiet lodging with the mother of one of my
men, who is ill through an accident. Mrs Thwacker
took her first there alone ; but Duke swore he would
follow, so I thought it better he should go out there at
dusk in a cab and chance it. He had only started about
half an hour before you came in."
" He did not go in his nigger's disguise, then ? "
" No, sir ; I thought it was only due to his young
wife that he should join her in the dress, at least, of a
gentleman," replied the pugilist, without the slightest
intention of beinoj ironical. " He was to return here
to-morrow night at dusk ; but as you have arrived,
perhaps you will make other arrangements."
" I will go to Holloway at once, the first thing in the
morning, and insist upon their going with me to the
lawyers. I have the address, and I will write to the
firm to-night, telling them to expect to see us in the
afternoon of to-morrow. To surrender to the Court, and
get a month's imprisonment, will be the best thing
for Duke. The girl can come into the country with
me, to pass away the time with my family ; after that,
I will get Duke sent to some place out of England —
Corfu, or some station not out of reach — and by that
time matrimony will have settled him down."
" Mrs Duke told my wife that where her husband
went there she would go ; she only hoped, she said,
that the Chancellor would put them in the same prison.
As to the money, Duke should have every penny of it ;
and she declared she would not sign or promise any-
thing that he did not approve of. Lor' ! these
IN RE MARMADUKE. 215
women, they are the same all the world over ; they
delight to sacrifice themselves for us without thanks or
reward — that they do," said Mr Thwacker, with energy.
" Ay ! " replied the Colonel ; " and the sacrifice in
most cases is so complete, that they never seem to
understand that it is sacrifice. God bless them ! they
are the best part of the creation after all."
This, perhaps, is the greatest truism that Colonel
Leppell ever uttered, and he was in earnest when he
made the remark.
"Now, before I go, I will note down the address
where these young people are to be found. Hollo way,
you said. "Where ? "
" No. 79 Snaggs Eow, Eldon Place. It's a tidy little
house, and they'll rest quiet there ; the name of the
owner is William Tanner."
" Thanks," said Colonel Leppell, as he entered these
particulars in his note-book. " Do you know, by the
way, if Mrs Duke had any money with her ? "
" Xot much, I fancy ; but your son told me that she
had a large amount of jewelry. It seems after she
chloroformed the lady she got the keys and collected
all the things belonging to her that she could lay her
hands on, even some silver-plate which was stowed
away till she should come of age. She bribed a ser-
vant to help her, and thus she managed to bring a
little luggage across. She wanted to change clothes
with the servant and travel disguised like that, but the
maid did not care to do so. Mrs Duke told us she
would have been game if necessary."
216 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Um," said the Colonel ; " a talent for masquerad-
ing is likely to be propagated in the family, eh ? "
" Mrs Duke is a woman of resource, I'm thinking,
sir. They can't be without money, for your son has
made a lot of tin by his singing, and he ought to have
several pounds to the good ; he only owes a few shil-
lings at the outside here. Don't you pay it, Colonel ;
I'll get it out of him. If you settle his bill you will
never see the colour of your money, and the young
scamp ought to learn to pay his own way. Well, per-
haps the Lord Chancellor will settle him if anybody
can ; but ye see, sir, it is high time that he were well
out of this."
Fully agreeing with this opinion, Colonel Lep-
pell took his leave, carrying with him a very sincere
respect for Mr Thwacker. "You have behaved like
a gentleman," he said, as he shook the pugilist by
the hand, "and I thank you very much — will call
again to report proceedings — and understand, please,
that after to-morrow there is no earthly reason for
my son to hide himself, for by this time to-morrow
the lawyers will have arranged for him to surrender
himself to the Court of Chancery. My address is the
Great Western Hotel, Paddington, should you want to
communicate with me. Good night."
" Good night, Colonel," said Mr Thwacker, respect-
fully. " Mind you see your lawyers afore you trusts
yourself to those young people at Holloway," he added,
as his visitor departed. " There's a load off my mind
anyhow," said the honest man half aloud as he shut
IX RE MARMADUKE. 217
the door; "but the Colonel don't like the look of things,
he don't. He keeps his pecker up to be sure ; but he's
hit, he's very hard hit, I can see. Ton my word, I
believe sons and daughters is more bother than they
are worth," and so Mr Thwacker threw himself on his
couch and meditated, till all his ideas ended, as they
had begun, in smoke.
The following morning found Colonel Leppell, obe-
dient to the advice to go to his lawyers before trusting
himself at Holloway, and bound in honour by the
promise to his wife, in the office of the firm to
whom he had been recommended by his friendly man
of business at Yarne. The principal was absent, but
the managing clerk received the new client, and con-
trived in a cool matter - of - fact kind of way so to
impress Colonel Leppell with the stupendous powers
of the High Court of Chancery, and its influence
for good and evil, — according to the light in which
its edicts are viewed by those who have dealings
with it, — that the officer declared this tribunal to
be a kind of offshoot of the Inquisition. No actual
barbarity, he allowed, but bother and vexation of spirit
enough to kill a regiment. Ah ! he knew that Chancery
had to answer for the deaths of many persons, old and
young ; and with regard to its wards, it did not look
well, the fact that a minor must be possessed of pro-
perty to come under its protection at all. If this were
not a pandering to mammon and the golden calf, he,
Ralph Leppell, would be very much obliged if Mr
Constant would tell him what was.
218 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Mr Constant, however, declined to enter into the
merits of this case, and reminded the client that the
matter of his son and the ward of Court, Miss
Margaret Lorton, commonly called Miss Peggy Lorton,
was now the subject under consideration. Having
secured the Colonel's attention, and elicited some in-
formation regarding Mr Marmaduke's prospects, he
very strongly confirmed the opinion which had
been given by the legal authority of Yarne in the
" It is an aggravated case of contempt — a very
aggravated case," the lawyer remarked, after possess-
ing himself of the few particulars which the Colonel
had to give. " Do you mean to say that your son has
nothing at all to settle on the lady ? "
" Not a stiver ! " answered the Colonel. " His in-
come consists of his pay as a cornet of cavalry, and
three hundred a-year which my father allows him to
keep things going ; this might be withdrawn at any
moment. Lord Hieover is peculiar, and if he is dis-
pleased, he always stops the cash."
" Um ; do you think that, under the circumstances,
his lordship would make some settlement on his
grandson, for the benefit of his wife ? Is Mr Leppell
Lord Hieover's heir, may I ask ? "
" Only in the event of the death of my elder brother,
who is unmarried, and afterwards of my own ; then
my son would succeed to the title and estates. Of
course the Court takes cognisance of rank — and you'll
remark, if you please, that in marrying my son, his
IN RE MARMADUKE. 219
wife has been raised from a very inferior rank of life ;
in that way she receives a full equivalent for her
money," quoth the Colonel, glaring at the lawyer
" What is the lady's rank in life ? " inquired Mr
" She is, I believe, the daughter of a carpet-weaver ;
and I think a tin-bath maker, an uncle, made her his
heiress, but I am not sure. When you see her, she
will be able to enlighten you in these particulars — I
know nothing of the girl."
Some further conversation transpired, in which it
was suggested by the Colonel that perhaps it would be
well to apply to the Honourable Alexander Leppell
for assistance to enable Mr Duke to make some settle-
ment. The lawyer, however, quenched this proposal
" Your brother may marry and have a son of his
own," Mr Constant said. " He might, however, be per-
suaded, perhaps, to bind himself to make an allow-
ance out of his personal estate ; or Lord Hieover might
be induced to come forward. Both contingencies are
feasible, as far as I know of this case."
The Colonel replied that these relatives had " come
forward " more than once to pay Mr Leppell's debts,
and to set him up in life again. " He was afraid," he
said, "that nothing more could be done in that
" Mr Leppell is of age, I assume ? " said Mr Con-
220 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" He will not be of age for four months yet," re-
plied the parent.
" I should tell you, Colonel Leppell," continued
Mr Constant, " that even if your son were able and
willing to make a settlement, it rests with the Court
of Chancery to allow him permission to do so. As
the matter appears to me, your son has obtained
possession of the ward by gross contempt of Court,
and he has married her for the sake of her for-
tune. If the Court is satisfied of this, Mr Leppell
will not be allowed to profit by his contempt, or to
enjoy any part of the ward's property."
To this Colonel Leppell replied, " Then the Lord
Chancellor will put him in prison for a month ? "
" For six or seven months, or more ; all depends upon
the facts of the case, and especially as to how your son
and his wife comport themselves towards the Court."
' : They will not be expected to say they are sorry
when they are not in the least so ? " asked the Colonel,
with the simplicity of a schoolboy.
" They will be required to express regret for their
contempt, and receive the rebuke they will certainly
get in a becoming manner ; by that I mean, a proper
and respectful attention must be paid to the judge's
" What do you recommend to be done ? you, as a
Chancery lawyer, must be up to all the ways and
trie I mean, goings on of these fellows — judges,
" The only thing to be done is for these young
IN RE MARMADUKE. 221
people to bring themselves within the jurisdiction of
the High Court of Chancery as soon as possible,"
replied Mr Constant.
" So I believe ; but they had better come here first
and let you know all particulars. Shall I bring them
to-morrow ? " said Colonel Leppell.
" I will confer with our principal ; but if you hear
nothing to the contrary, you had better, all of you, be
here by twelve o'clock to-morrow — everything can
then be arranged. It is an awkward case," continued
Mr Constant, " but we will do our utmost to get the
best arrangement we can."
The Colonel took leave with this piece of comfort,
and then wended his way towards Holloway.
Angry and annoyed as that officer undoubtedly was
at his son's conduct, yet his ire was greatly mollified
as he received from that reprobate and his wife a
welcome which had almost the air of an ovation.
Duke had descried his father from the window, beimj
attracted thereto by the rattle which that officer made
in trying to open the little iron gate of the front
garden. The final clatter which it gave forth, as the
Colonel nearly wrenched it off its hinges, caused
Peggy to exclaim, " Look, Duke ! there's such a hand-
some man trying to get in here ; he can't belong to
the house surely ! "
" The governor, by Jove ! " was the husband's reply,
and in a moment he had dashed out of the house and
had his arm round his father's neck before the Colonel
could utter a word.
222 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Dear old gov. ! just like you, so kind and so good,"
as he drew his father into the house by the hand.
The manner, also, with which he introduced his wife
was not ungraceful, — tt Here's Peggy ; she will help to
make me a better son than I have hitherto been, and
she is proud to be your daughter-in-law — aren't you,
dear ? "
The young lady stepped forward, and the Colonel
took her hand and kissed her. Thwacker was right,
thought he ; at the same time — " Not quite thorough-
bred, but buxom, and very good kissing," as he after-
wards expressed it on his experience whilst speaking
of Mrs Duke to his younger sons. " Duke must have
married her for the money ; and I am afraid the
Lord Chancellor will think so, when he sees her — safe
to think so. But we must trust in Providence, that's
all we can do, and nothing like it."
So ran the current of the parent's thoughts, but like
a gallant man he determined not to spoil the happiness
of this couple till they had at least had some luncheon
together. Colonel Leppell was in reality very hungry
after the exertions of the morning, so he asked Duke
if he could give him some refreshment at once.
" Glass of wine, or anything," he said, " for to tell the
truth, I am rather sharp-set."
Yes, they had taken care, the young fellow said,
to have some champagne wherewith to celebrate the
wedding. " This will not be a wedding-breakfast exact-
ly, but we will turn it into a wedding- luncheon," the
youth continued cheerily, "with the governor doing
IN RE MAEMADUKE. 223
delighted parent, and all the rest of it. Peggy, go
and see after the lunch ; I daresay it will be ready in
a few moments."
The young lady obeyed this order — which was given
quite a la mode Leppell — with the alacrity often ob-
served in young wives who are so much in love that
they glory as much in being commanded by their
spouses as they do in being the objects of their admir-
ation and caresses. Mrs Peggy, therefore, was quickly
out of ear-shot, beaming with delight at having her
husband's behests to fulfil, and set upon having a good
luncheon to celebrate her reception by the head of the
house. No sooner had the door closed than the Colonel,
seizing Duke's hand, said, " All is right, my dear boy ;
the writs are withdrawn. I cannot tell you more now,
but a friend — an early friend of your mother's — has
arranged matters with the Liverpool bank. You have
had a narrow shave — a very narrow shave — of being —
" In the felon's dock, I suppose," said Marmaduke,
filling up the gap — a glitter of defiance lighting his
violet-blue eyes and his handsome evil face. "You
may think that I am superstitious, or that I possess
the gift of clairvoyance : be it as it may, I have always
had the impression that this would never come to any-
" Then you have the devil's own luck, sir," said the
father sharply. " Have a care ! it will desert you some
clay at your greatest need. I know I have not been
all that I should be," said Colonel Leppell, lowering
224 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
his voice ; " but I am all the more anxious that my
children should avoid my errors. I have seen the
folly of my ways, Duke, I assure you."
This was true, and one of the greatest follies that
Colonel Leppell committed (and that many fathers
constantly do commit), was the having constantly re-
hearsed for the amusement of his sons many of the
escapades of his own early days, which, if not actually
disreputable, hovered very much on the border-land of
reckless folly and dissipation, and which, as in the
case of the Leppells, served to create a very dangerous
precedent. So Duke replied, " I want to see the folly
of my ways — you have had your own fun. But all
elderly people are alike — they forget that they have
been young themselves."
" I hardly deserve this from you," the poor Colonel
replied in a dejected tone. " I suppose it is a case of
Eli ; he seldom thrashed his sons, and they despised
him for it."
" No, no, governor, not that," said Duke, upon whose
hard nature the word " despise " had some effect. " We
can't help our inclinations : all I want is to enjoy my-
self after my own fashion. I hate your steady hum-
drum people ; and I have often heard Uncle Alick say
that these strait-laced rigid youths turn out regular
old rascals in their declining years. The hypocrisy
comes out in some way or other. Look at Uncle Alick
now, — he never goes anywhere, has given up racing
and boxing, and lives a highly respectable quiet life —
and remember what a rip he was in his young days."
IN RE MARMADUKE. 225
" True, Duke," replied the father ; " but your uncle
Alick would not give a shilling to save you from the
gallows, or prevent you from dying of starvation in
the streets. His only passion now is to hoard money;
and avarice, after all, may be the greatest crime of a
man's advancing years. He would be a better man
now if he ever had possessed heart or feeling."
These two ingredients were so utterly wanting in
Duke's own composition, that the point of the Colonel's
observation was lost upon him, and so he turned to the
discussion of his own affairs in relation to this mar-
The young gentleman was rather more than aston-
ished as he listened to what his father had to say
respecting this affair, and seemed disposed at first to
treat the matter rather too lightly, but here the Colonel
was terse and decided.
" You and your wife must be prepared to go with
me to the lawyers in Chancery Lane to-morrow. I
have arranged this for you, and then you will be in-
structed how and when to surrender yourselves to the
Court of Chancery."
The appearance of the luncheon here put a stop to
conversation, and due justice was certainly done to
that meal, it being quite evident that the appetites of
the parties were not in the least affected by their con-
sciences. During the repast, the young wife announced
that Duke was going to take her to the Crystal Palace,
and invited the Colonel to accompany them. " You'll
not need to play gooseberry," Peggy said artlessly, —
vol. I. p
226 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" all that is over ; but I should like to have you with
"Any other time, any other time, — quite impos-
sible : " and then the Colonel informed his daughter-in-
law that she was a culprit in the eye of the law, and
asked her how she would like to be stopped by a
policeman, and hauled out of the Crystal Palace like
a pickpocket, with the eyes of perhaps four thousand
people upon her.
Peggy confessed that she did not admire that pros-
pect at all, and then she was informed what was
probably in store for her at the hands of the Lord
" Then we had better give up the Crystal Palace,"
said Peggy to her husband — " not so much because we
are afraid of the Court and all that, but out of respect
to your father, Duke ; he has been so kind, and has
never said a reproachful word. And as for going to
prison, — well, never mind, we may as well spend our
honeymoon there as anywhere else; all places are
alike to me with Duke."
" Oh, these women ! they are the same as they
were in the beginning," the Colonel said aloud to
"And ever shall be," said Peggy, concluding the
sentence with sincere reverence, " or else there would
be no need of women."
" Strange," said Colonel Leppell, " but you have
chosen the neighbourhood of the prison to which per-
sons are sent for contempt of Court, as regards its
IN RE MARMADUKB. 227
wards. The Queen's Prison, Hollo way, is, the lawyers
tell me, the place of retreat for these offenders."
Duke was sorry to hear that, as it was an unfashion-
able part of London, and he would have much preferred
the Queen's Bench. " Fellows," he said, " would call
there who would not take the trouble to come down
" Then they are better away. Such friends as would
make the neighbourhood an objection are not worth
naming, sure," said Peggy.
" Then we can't go to the Crystal Palace, I sup-
pose," said Duke, in a disappointed tone.
" Most certainly not, after what I have told you,"
replied the father ; " and under the circumstances it
would be most unbecoming, most indecent in me to
be seen with you, — officer in her Majesty's service —
public position, haw ! "
" Yes, we know," intervened Peggy, innocently ;
" and I am sure Duke would not wish you to go, — I
am sure I don't, after that. Would you like a smoke
together ? You could walk up and down that little
lane at the back there, where you will have green
trees, and be private. This room is horridly stuffy,
and I can put things to rights whilst you have a chat,
and discuss your family news."
Congratulating her upon her common - sense, the
Colonel seized the opportunity of talking to his son
concerning certain communications made to him by Mr
Thwacker, which, he said, " the most indulgent parent
could not pass over without strong reprobation ; " and
228 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
so strongly did Colonel Leppell reprobate and con-
demn the same, that Marmaduke was silent from
sheer surprise that two men such as his father and
Thwacker should view this subject in so serious a
light. Marmaduke, however, secretly registered a
resolve to pay Mr Thwacker out as soon as an oppor-
tunity should present itself for so doing, — all this
honest man's friendly treatment being taken by this
young scamp as purely a matter of course.
There was another subject also upon which the
Colonel would have done well to do more than touch
in his admonitions to his son ; but here the conscience,
which makes cowards of us all, made Colonel Leppell
dumb. Did he not feel that he himself was so far
out of the path of righteous dealing, that he could not
without the most intense hypocrisy reprove his son
for his lack of honesty ? His conscience reminded
him that he was on the verge of committing a decep-
tion which deserved no other name than that of a
The diamonds presented to his daughter were to be,
by his own act, exchanged for paste stones, and the
proceeds of the barter applied to the liquidation of
some long-standing and pressing debts. But the
Colonel paved his way to evil with good intentions.
He would pay the debts fully with this money, — debts
which had been incurred in a great measure for the
support and pleasures of his family.
Better so, he argued, than be arrested for debt
myself: I shall clear myself before long. Diamonds
IN HE MAEMADUKE. 229
are luxuries, not necessaries of life, — only I wish
they had not been given by Everard Glascott, and
that I was not deceiving my lovely Moll. She
wouldn't care ; but, at any rate, I hope to make all
Contenting himself, therefore, with a general warn-
ing, the Colonel concluded his admonitions to his son
and took his leave, exacting a promise from both
Duke and his wife that they would remain quiet for
the rest of the day, and be sure to meet him on the
morrow at the lawyer's offices in Chancery Lane.
It was with a sensation of intense relief, on the
following day, that Colonel Leppell found his children
already waiting at the office when he arrived there
a few moments in advance of the appointed time.
They appeared to be rather subdued in manner, and
expressed themselves anxious for instructions as to
how they were to surrender themselves to the High
Court of Chancery.
As all three were entirely ignorant as to how this
ignominy, as they deemed it, was to be effected, Mr
Constant had matters very much his own way ; and
appalled by his experiences, which he liberally be-
stowed upon his client, the young people began to
entertain a faint idea that they had both done the
thing which they ought not to have done, and were,
consequently, more ready than might be expected,
not only to surrender, but to surrender with becoming
" There is only one thing that I won't stand," said
230 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Peggy, breaking a silence that had suddenly fallen
on the party, — " there is only one thing that I will not
do, and that is to leave my' husband. Where he goes,
I go ; my money is his money ; and if he is to blame
it is all my fault. I abducted him ; he did not abduct
me, — there now."
Mr Constant had perhaps heard speeches of this
kind before, and uttered also with the like sincerity ;
but he was too astute a man to enter into any dis-
cussion on the point, and was therefore wise enough
to leave the task of enlightening the young lady to
the Lord Chancellor. So he replied, " I must take
counsel's opinion before I give you further directions ;
and now, Mr and Mrs Marmaduke Leppell, will you
undertake to return to the address which you have
given, and remain there till I come to you ? You must
see that I could do nothing till this interview was
over. I have got at the particulars of your case, and
can pursue my way."
" I will take them back myself," intervened the
Colonel ; " and I can answer for it that they won't
stir out till you come to seek them."
The culprits each undertook to comply with Mr
Constant's injunction ; and after some further ar-
rangements and signing some papers, the party re-
turned to Snagg's Eow, Holloway.
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS.
A few days later saw Colonel Leppell at Paris,
engaged in a secret and delicate mission of his own.
That it was not an undertaking of which he was
particularly proud, could be descried in his irregular
hesitating stride, and the visible decline of his loco-
motive action as he neared a jeweller's shop in
the Palais - Ptoyal, and first inspected its elegantly
mounted window, and then looked up and down
and around before he gained the interior — with a
It being early, there was only one customer in the
place ; and two or three workmen could be descried
sitting in little cribs in the back distance, busily
engaged with all the paraphernalia of their trade
around them — to wit, little gas-jets, candles, wax,
magnifying-glasses of various powers, and a multitude
of divers tools of the craft.
An attendant was serving the customer, a young
man, very much interested in a tray of wedding-rings,
232 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
and too much absorbed in the selection of a particular
one to take any notice of the new comer.
Colonel Leppell pulled his moustache, shook him-
self together, and then mustered up his French.
" Est Munshew, Munshew Dupont dans la maison ?
Je suis le Colonel Anglais qu'il savait quelques
annees avant — oh ! autrefois, qu'il savait autrefois,
eh ? "
The attendant bowed, and tried to look as if he
perfectly comprehended this address ; nevertheless he
confined his response to the interrogative, " Plait-il,
M'sieur ? "
" Je plais voir Munshew Dupont, et a parler a lui,
vite, tres vite, — comprenez ? "
"M'sieur Dupont n'est pas chez lui a present,"
the attendant replied, having got a clue in the verbs
" voir " and " parler," together with the quick intuitive
perception of a meaning badly expressed, — which seems
a gift of nature to the French people, — to the Colonel's
requirements. " II est sorti, mais j'enverrai le chercher
tout de suite : en attendant, M'sieur, donnez-vous la
peine de vous asseoir," — indicating, as he spoke, a
highly uncomfortable spindle-shanked chair, towards
which the reckless politeness of the Frenchman
directed the Colonel's attention.
" Non, merci, tres beaucoup," replied the English-
man with vigour ; " je suis trop substantial pour
sitter sur cette chose. Donnez cette carte a Munshew
Dupont ; dites a lui qu'il come vite, ce moment — il
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PAEIS. 233
The shopman summoned one of the workers, and
despatched him to find Mr Dupont ; and the Colonel,
with a nod of relief, occupied himself in inspecting the
various articles with which he was surrounded. He
rather fancied that his French must be, at least, in-
telligible, as it had the effect of sending off a messenger
at any rate. So far so good.
Some minutes elapsed ; the customer selected his
ring and departed ; and the attendant, now quite at
leisure, dusted a short stool and propelled it with a
flourish in the direction of Colonel Leppell, evidently
expectant that he would give satisfaction by this
" Oh, non, non pouvez," replied the Briton, squaring
at the stool as if to illustrate his meaning. "II est
better, oui, better que l'autre, mais il est trop fragile,
— je le smasherai dans un moment. Yous etes bon
fellow, tres bon fellow, mais j'espere que votre maitre
comera ici vite, — affaire privee, vous savez ; et je ne
puis pas parler a vous, parce-qu'il est une affaire de
— de — business, vous savez."
'•' Voila M'sieur Dupont qui arrive," exclaimed the
man, whose gravity had really been tried to the utmost
extent, and who was equally relieved with the Colonel
at seeing Mr Dupont enter the shop. " Le Monsieur
vous attend," he said to his chief, and then speedily
retired into the background.
" Thank goodness, I have got hold of some one who
can speak a respectable language," said the Colonel
with an egotism truly British. " The tower of Babel
234 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
was a mistake, sir, a great mistake ; it confused the
languages without confounding them. How are you
and all your family ? Claudine grown up a pretty girl
by this time, eh ? "
Mr Dupont, in excellent English, replied that " all
his family were well, and that his daughter was — tr&s
Men — very much like other girls of her age." Then he
inquired, with an intuitive perception that traffic in
some shape or other had brought Colonel Leppell
there, in what manner he could serve his visitor ?
" Can I speak to you in private ? " said the officer.
" Certainly ; " and passing the workmen, Mr Du-
pont opened the door of a small apartment, simply
and elegantly furnished, a bright chintz forming the
draperies, and good India-muslin curtains shading a
small balcony upon which the open window gave.
The air was redolent with the perfume of violets
which grew in pots ranged within the balcony, and
a bouquet of fresh spring-flowers was arranged in a
low, long, old - fashioned china dish upon a small
Chippendale table, fenced at the rim with a beautiful
railing of fretwork. Some statuettes, a handsome
clock, and a few well-selected pictures, composed the
decoration of the room, which, in its artistic arrange-
ment, presented an air of refined comfort, totally
apart from the oppression of spirit which is gener-
ally the result of coming in contact with rich valu-
ables, heaped indiscriminately together independent
of tone or keeping.
It is almost needless to add that the deformity of
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 235
a staring carpet, pranked out with a conventional
pattern, was utterly wanting here ; the true taste of
the Persian loom being imitated in a sober floor-
covering of many colours, so ingeniously woven to-
gether that none predominated, and on this subdued
rich groundwork the several articles of furniture stood
out in good relief. The handsome, well-appointed
writing-table, and two library chairs of the same
wood, quite distinct from the chintz-covered lounges,
seemed to convey the idea that affairs could be here
transacted on strict business lines only.
Colonel Leppell looked round : he remembered this
retreat, although it had been garnished and much reno-
vated since he last stood on its threshold seven years
ago. It was here that he had sold poor Adelaide's set
of diamonds — her father's and her mother's present to
their daughter on her wedding-morn !
The jeweller shut the door, handed one of the
business chairs to his visitor, seated himself on the
other, and folded a newspaper together whilst the
Colonel produced a packet.
" These diamonds," he said, " belong to a lady of
my family who cannot afford to keep them, — as real
stones, I mean. I want you to purchase these real
stones, and substitute paste diamonds in their place,
setting them as richly as you can. I know you will
deal honestly with me about the price, for your
mother was an Englishwoman, the Lord be praised ! "
Mr Dupont drew himself up at this equivocal
compliment. " My father was an honest man, sir,
236 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
and I trust I am worthy to be his son — I strive to
" Oh, I mean no offence," said the Colonel hastily ;
" one ought not to judge individuals by a nation. Beg
Although this was verily from Scylla to Charybdis,
Mr Dupont ignored the remark, wisely giving his
visitor credit for being bSte, which was exactly
what Colonel Leppell was : no man on earth could
have been born with less of that quality called tact.
" Allow me," he said, " to examine these stones ; they
appear to be of the finest water, and are mostly of the
same size, which, of course, would increase their
value, for setting especially."
"Are there enough there to make a whole set, or
— what do you call it in French ? " said Colonel
Leppell, after a pause.
" Parure," replied Mr Dupont ; " and a diamond
necklace we express as a rividre of diamonds. It is
a most happy expression, because nothing in art is
more suggestive of clear water in sunlight, spark-
ling and dazzling at every turn, than a collar of good
stones like these," and the jeweller handled the gems
before him with infinite appreciation.
" Ah, especially when it swims round a snowy
swan-like neck," replied the Colonel, evidently be-
lieving, like a gallant man, that the swan-like neck
of his imagination was the special point of admira-
tion. " The worst of it is," he continued, with a touch
of regret which was deeply sincere, " one sees the
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 237
best gems upon withered, leathery old hags, who will
bare their throats, and not stop at that either, and
the sight is enough to depreciate the jewels, and put
them out of fashion." And here the speaker treated
Mr Dupont to some of his experiences on this head,
which led to the conclusion on the part of both
these gentlemen that the Parliament of every civilised
nation should pass a sharp short bill, restraining old
women from wearing any jewellery other than their
" Yes," supplemented the Colonel, " and if they have
any good ornaments they should be made to give them
up to the girls of their family, and let these show off
the gems before Time steals upon them in their turn."
" That would hardly suit my craft, though," said
Mr Dupont. " Now I have examined these diamonds
thoroughly : one or two contain a very slight flaw
here and there, but on the whole they are of the
finest water, and are perfectly cut also. If they
were set in black enamel, I should not ask less in
selling the parure than forty-two thousand francs."
" What is that sum in English money ? " said the
Colonel. " I never can manage foreign money, some-
how, and I suppose decimal coinage won't come into
fashion in Britain till I am dead and buried, so I
don't bother to understand it, — but this sounds tre-
mendous in francs, I can quite understand so far."
" The amount in English money," replied the jewel-
ler, " would be equal to one thousand seven hundred
and fifty English pounds."
238 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
"That sounds enormous," exclaimed the Colonel,
with a gesture of delight ; " of course you will give me
a proportionate sum for the stones."
" I will give you a fair sum, and I propose to arrange
the matter in this way. Nine hundred pounds, English
money down, and an equivalent set of paste diamonds
of the very best make, mounted either in fine black or
deep violet-blue enamel, arranged in a good pattern.
Some judges incline to the idea that the deepest blue
is a better ground for paste diamonds, for as the latter
soon lose their first brilliancy, at least in some degree,
the blue rather attracts the eye from the stones, and at
any rate does not present the same severity of contrast
as does the black enamel. Your object, as I under-
stand it, is to secure a set of diamonds in paste which
will be so like the true stones that it will be impos-
sible to detect the difference between the real and the
" Certainly ; but I think I ought to have a thousand
pounds in ready money for these stones."
" Nine hundred pounds, English gold, is all that I
can allow you in specie. Eemember these diamonds
have to be mounted ; and I think it probable that, if I
purchase them, I may have to send them to Holland
to be further polished — they are rather unequal in
brilliancy, I see, on further inspection. The pattern
of the arrangement of the whole has to be supplied, as
also the pattern of the paste set. Then the imitated
stones must be manufactured in the best possible style,
and of the very best materials."
COLOXEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 239
" True ; be sure and let the pattern of the paste set
be exactly similar to that chosen for the diamonds."
" That can be done ; and if you will leave it to me, I
can see, when the paste set are returned from the
manufactory, which will be the better enamel on
which to mount them."
" Eeturned ? Don't you make them here ? "
"Oh no," replied Mr Dupont, "We have about
twenty workmen at a manufactory at Septmon^el in
Switzerland ; this place is about fifteen miles from
Geneva, in the Jura. All kinds of false gems are
manufactured there, though the house of Dupont only
deals in paste imitations of diamonds and emeralds :
but artificial gems of every known kind can be
supplied from thence. jSTow will you kindly select a
pattern from among these, and I will go to Septmon^el
myself and have the paste set put in hand at once. I
have several orders to attend to there, so it is fortu-
nate that I had not started."
" I will leave that to you, you know so much better,"
replied the Colonel wisely. " How on earth are these
imitation stones made ? "
"Every one manufactures with a secret ingredient
of his own," returned Mr Dupont, "therefore the
proportions must be varied by every maker. The
finest rock crystal, and a glass consisting of oxide
of tin, forms the principal material for making paste
diamonds. The impossibility of their long preserving
their pristine brilliancy is the chief cause whereby the
imposition is generally detected."
240 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
The Colonel winced at the word " imposition," but
held his peace. " You accept my terms ? " said Mr
Dupont, looking at him steadily.
"Well, yes — suppose I must; want the money
badly," replied Colonel Leppell, shrugging his shoul-
ders. " Well, I don't grudge you clearing four hundred
or so by the transaction, especially if the paste set be
thoroughly good imitations."
" Eemember, I may not sell the parure, when com-
plete, for some little time, and so the interest on my
money is lost for a while. Again, I may sell, and not
be paid in full the expenses I have laid before you ;
and taking all in all, you have no reason to complain.
I have a right to insure a good profit, as I may have
to wait till I can secure a suitable customer." Mr
Dupont then, taking a miniature set of scales and
weights from a drawer of the writing-table, proceeded
to make a list of the stones, weighing and valuing each
one in succession. He then sealed the whole in a
parcel and wrote out an order upon one of the prin-
cipal bankers in Paris for nine hundred pounds, Eng-
lish sterling, in favour of Colonel Leppell.
He also made out a separate memorandum, in
which he, Mr Dupont, undertook to furnish Colonel
Leppell with a set of the best paste diamonds, ar-
ranged according to the pattern selected, and mounted
in fine enamel, to be delivered at the expiration of
thirty days from that date.
Here was subjoined an acknowledgment of having
received payment of the same in full, to which the
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 241
jeweller's signature and his business address were
This affair being satisfactorily concluded, Colonel
Leppell informed the jeweller that he knew of another
set of diamonds which would require mounting, with-
out the substitution of an equivalent in paste, and
he promised to induce the owner to have them
mounted by Mr Dupont ; " but I," continued the
Colonel, u can do nothing till I see the — the — work
from Septmon^el. I am anxious that the owner of
the jewels I allude to should be pleased with the
pattern and arrangement of those you are to supply :
this being the case, I think I can secure you the
Mr Dupont bowed, promised to do his best, and
then inquired if Colonel Leppell still lived in the
Yarneshire village. Satisfied with this, he then ex-
pressed his intention of sending the parure by one
of his own assistants at the expiration of thirty days,
who would deliver the case personally and take the
Colonel's receipt for the delivery of the same at
The English officer took leave, and, with Mr
Dupont's order for nine hundred pounds in his pocket,
immediately wended his way to the banking establish-
ment of Messieurs Damigny Freres, and there con-
verted that document into cash. There were no
reductions, as the jeweller had handsomely made the
order payable at sight. Then Colonel Leppell re-
traced his steps to his hotel, resolving to return home
VOL. I. Q
242 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
by the mail-train which would leave Paris for Calais
at eleven o'clock on the same night. " I will not
spend a farthing more on myself than I can help," the
Colonel mentally declared ; " all this shall go to pay my
debts. I will clear these and then start free — that is,
if Duke does not hamper me too deeply. What can
my father and Alick mean by throwing over a lad
like Duke ? " that young gentleman's father wondered
with parental blindness. " They have paid his debts
once, certainly, but that was rather to help me. The
Viscount could hardly pass me by. This elopement
scrape will cost something ; perhaps Alick may help
us, out of pure contradiction, — he is a Eadical from
principle, he says. Well, if he is consistent he will
not stand the Court of Chancery, and so he will help
Duke. It is a tyrannical institution, and if I had a
chance of putting it down I would turn Eadical on
the spot, that I would."
It was unusual for him, and also quite contrary to
Colonel Leppell's customary habit, to refrain from
purchasing an object of fancy or otherwise to take
home to some one or two members of the family. He
generally singled out a little child as a presentee when
it was not convenient of not possible to give all round ;
for the younger ones of his flock had ever been more
or less the objects of the father's overflowing demon-
strations of affection. At this moment a sudden
reflection, which was truly a prick of conscience,
caused him to turn resolutely from a toy-shop which
he had been inclined to enter in the interests of the
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 243
nursery party at home. The window, as is usual with
this kind of shop in Paris, was crowded with all kinds
of tempting and brilliant articles, all placed well to
the front, leaving behind them, in confined and half
darkened space, the ordinary and more inferior ar-
ticles of sale, in company with broken boxes, torn
paper, and perhaps a huge rocking-horse, mounted up
high on a shelf, and surrounded with much discol-
oration and roughness — the whole effect irresistibly
reminding the beholder of a huge firework which had
exploded laterally, and, adhering in varied degrees of
sparkle to the window, left nothing behind but the
stick which had propelled it forwards.
The Colonel looked into this magasin as it called it-
self, and was nearly precipitated backwards down the
narrow steep step at its entrance, in the rebound he
made in turning sharply away from the temptations
which it contained. The forcible expression which
was jerked out of the mouth of that officer as he
recovered his footing had the effect of bringing for-
ward an elastic little Frenchman, who, like a jack-in-
the-box, seemed to spring to the opening.
" Could he have the honour of serving Monsieur ? "
he inquired, in his native tongue.
" Nong, nong, mercy," replied the Briton, — " tres
beaucoup oblige ; je only look un moment clans le
window, je n'avais pas observe le step, et j'avais
" Mais, donnez-vous la peine d'entrer, Monsieur," said
the Frenchman politely ; " vous avez, sans doute, des
244 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
petits enfants ; peut-etre vous trouverez ici quelque
chose que puisse vous convenir : voici un excellent
billard en miniature ; c'est tout-a-fait ravissant, n'est-
ce pas ? " and the Frenchman indicated a very cleverly
made toy which seemed to be just opened, its case
" Oh, nong, merci — tres mauvais exemple pour les
garcons ; je ne veux pas qu'ils gamble ; assez dans
ma famille : je ne puis pas buy les toys ; mais, montrez
a moi ce — ce — cet walking-stick la; j'aime le regard
clu chose s'il n'est pas trop d'argent, je buyerai cela."
Some rattans and other walking-sticks were pro-
duced, and after a little haggling the Colonel pur-
chased one of the number, and felt he had done a
stroke of business. " Oui, tres bon, et je crois que
vous n'avez pas charge trop beaucoup for le sort de
chose," said the Colonel, as he surveyed his purchase
at arm's-length. " II faut que vous takey le money,
car je ne sais pas combien il est dans le money de ce
confondu pays." So saying he held out some francs
in the palm of his hand, and the Frenchman, selecting
the exact price therefrom, grinned at the extraordinary
Briton, and assured him that it was with the greatest
pleasure that he transacted business with a gentleman
who spoke so well the French language.
" I don't do that, I know," said Pialph to himself as
he left the shop ; " but these fellows understand me
somehow. I fancy the great secret lies in a word or
two, and a flourish. Bah ! an Englishman would never
take up the thing as these French fellows do; they
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 245
don't meet one half-way — I mean our people — and
they always laugh in a foreigner's face when he makes
a mistake in his English, — bad habit, very bad habit.
After all, these Munshews do teach us manners, and
they don't forget, either, so often as we do, that
courtesy is a Christian gift. Whether that be so or
not, it is a comfort to be civilly treated."
Thus thinking, the Colonel walked down the street,
looking now and then into various shops, and more
than once half inclined to step in and purchase
something for his little ones. But here conscience
did take possession of him and held him fast. " No,
no," he resolved, — " my innocent little children, I can-
not buy them toys out of this money ; I will wait till
I draw my next pay, — and, Lord bless them ! they don't
care whether the things come from Paris or from Tim-
buctoo ; but no toys out of this. Bah ! how I hate
myself ; but what can 1 do ? Why are we, most of us,
born with inclinations that we cannot satisfy ? and
why are are we placed in situations which are nothing
but a harass or an anxiety, to say nothing of a snare
for wrong-doing all our lives long ? "
Alack ! and alas ! Life teems with misfits. If it
were not so, the world would not exist. The essence
of living here below is that we see through the glass
darkly, and were the true image of all things to be
reflected back clearly on the mind, all might perhaps
walk straight ; but the great virtues of faith and self-
denial would have no scope for exertion, and the free-
will to choose betwixt good and evil would be swal-
24G THE FAT OF THE LAND.
lowed up in the mechanical action which Longfellow so
aptly compares to the inanition of dumb driven cattle.
Colonel Leppell, in common with many others who
know the good, and through weakness of character
adopt the evil, relied very fully on the existence of
conscience. Yet it would be curious to collect toge-
ther the astounding deeds of wickedness which many
who profess to act from conscience, or for conscience'
sake, have committed and do constantly commit against
It may be all very well to cite the searing of the
hot iron as a solution of this unpleasant fact ; but we
should, in common fairness, look deeper, and convince
ourselves of the existence of the material upon which
the searing process can act. It will be found, on hon-
est investigation, that in many cases this mental sub-
stratum is utterly absent, and that the void is by no
means confined to vicious or even to careless persons :
for the " unco guid " and rigidly righteous are very often
deficient in this spiritual balance ; and those whose
conduct is or appears to be regulated by the unwritten
byelaws of honour, seem to possess more of the genu-
ine article than their louder professing neighbours.
The gravity of his position certainly acted as a
deterrent on the Colonel in the matter of expenditure :
it even seemed that to get rid of this money at once
in the discharge of his debts, was one method for
atoning for the unhandsome manner in which it had
come into his possession. He therefore returned to
his hotel, and at once made preparations for return-
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 247
ing to England that night. Letters were in waiting
for him, which, on the whole, conveyed satisfactory
news. " Lady Asher was wonderfully better ; but she
was to be kept very quiet, and take a great deal of
nourishment, — though the doctor had greater hopes
of her case than he had at first," Mary wrote. " And
mother desired her to tell him, also, that Mrs Fan-
shawe had written to ask Willina Clavering to stay
at Pinnacles on her arrival, as grandmamma's illness
might cause visitors to be an inconvenience. So I am
going there to introduce a girl I have never seen,"
continued the young lady ; " but Mr Glascott will be
there for a few days, and I suppose Mr Clavering —
Frank, I mean — will hover about," the writer opined
with great circumspection. " The nice one of the La
Touches, Stephen, is at the Kectory house, staying
with his poor aunt, who, Lillian writes me, ' is going
to be a private patient of Dr Williams.' It seems
this nephew insisted upon Mrs Kemble being treated
differently, and the Fanshawes are glad to be quit
of the responsibility."
The Colonel perused this letter with great satisfac-
tion, and dwelt particularly upon the part which
related to Lady Asher. " Pinnacles Court will not
have been so gay for many a day," thought he. " I
wonder what Lillian is about, or if she takes this
marriage of Duke's to heart, — wish to goodness he had
married Miss Fanshawe ; less money, but the breed
atones for that."
This allusion to Duke brought the Colonel to an-
248 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
other epistle which, stiff and business-like in its out-
ward bearing, lay beside the pleasant epistle of his
The news it conveyed was not unexpected by the
Colonel, nor did it cause him much surprise. Mr Mar-
niaduke Leppell had been summoned before the Vice-
Chancellor, and had so comported himself that he was
immediately ordered into confinement, and separated
from his wife. The latter was to be consigned to
the care of a lady, chosen by the Lord Chancellor as
guardian of the person of the ward, pending a decision
as to what was to be ultimately settled for her future
A heart-broken epistle from Peggy confirmed this
fact ; and the delusion that she would accompany her
husband to prison was thus roughly dispelled. " She
had been very sharply rebuked," she wrote, " for giv-
ing Miss Shallard the chloroform, and she really be-
lieved that the Vice-Chancellor tried to make out that
she intended to poison that old cat, when he ought to
have known that she only wanted to keep her quiet
for a few hours. I am sorry I cannot come down to
Yarne," Peggy continued, " but I am a sort of captive,
and am not allowed to move out of the house without
a Mrs Bagshot at my heels. I think she must be a
kind of keeper for the female wards of Court, but I
don't know ; and I don't intend to speak to her, and
shall make myself as disagreeable as I can." Peggy
concluded this pious resolve by signing herself the
Colonel's affectionate daughter.
COLONEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 249
This correspondence, on the whole, was rather satis-
tactory to Colonel Leppell, save one intimation con-
tained in Mr Constant's letter. This was, that unless
Mr Marmaduke Leppell signed a deed, demanded by
the Court of Chancery, which required that he should
resign all interest in his wife's fortune, he would be
consigned to prison for a very long term ; indeed it
was only on condition of proper submission, and the
unqualified surrender of his interest in his wife's pro-
perty, that he would be released at all. The Colonel
shook his head over this, and was more strongly of
opinion than ever that, though the restraining powers
of the Court of Chancery were at times of some use,
yet its arbitrary dictum as to the disposition of other
people's property needed full revision and reform:
but of course the officer reasoned from his son's point
of view on the matter.
Mr Marmaduke Leppell was then an inmate of the
Queen's Prison, Holloway ; and Peggy was under the
charge pro tern, of Mrs Bagshot. It had been decided
that she should not return to her original guardian,
Miss Shallard; and this piece of good fortune Mrs
Marmaduke imputed to that happy thought of hers
of giving chloroform to this vigilant keeper. How-
ever, after an interview with the Lord Chancellor him-
self, and out of deference to the kind manner in
which that gentleman's admonitions were impressed
upon her, Peggy was moved to write an apology to
the outraged lady ; and this she did with the greater
heartiness when she found that under no circum-
250 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
stances whatever would she be relegated to what she
was pleased to call parlour-boardership.
" Suppose, my lord," Mrs Marmaduke said by proxy
to the Chancellor, by way of helping him to do a hand-
some thing on her behalf, — " suppose you allow Miss
Shallard a hundred a year or so, for a certain time,
as a little compensation for the chloroform and for
losing me, — although I have been a good milk-cow to
that family, and they ought to have saved : then —
then, could I not accept the invitation I have had
to stay with Mr Leppell's family in Yarneshire ? It
would be the most respectable thing I could do,"
urged Peggy, imploringly ; " and the Colonel quite
thinks of me as a daughter, — indeed he does."
His lordship did not doubt that in the least, — " but
it remains to be seen how the husband comports
himself before I can make any change in the condi-
tion of either of these young people," he said. So
Peggy saw that, for the present at least, she must
make up her mind to remain under the shadow of
Mrs Bagshot's wing, and elected to live in hopes of
better things to come.
Mr Glascott in due course again arrived at the Eed
Lion Hotel at Yarne, accompanied by Miss Clavering
and her brother. Mary and Clara Leppell, escorted by
their brothers, met the party, and then, after the first
greetings, the invitation to stay at Pinnacles Court
was given to them, to decide upon as they might think
Mr Glascott decided for Pinnacles on behalf of the
COLOXEL LEPPELL AT PARIS. 251
young people, as soon as he discovered that Mary
Leppell was to be the Fanshawes' guest, and an-
nounced his intention of writing to say that he would
follow in a few days. " That will enable me to be
near your mother and Lady Asher," he remarked to
Mary, " and you had better stay as long as you can.
Francis has received an invitation from Mrs Fanshawe
also, as I daresay you know, and he has accepted it,
which proceeding I trust you approve of."
Mary answered bravely that she highly approved of
this proceeding, and then added, " You will find my
friend Lillian Fanshawe at Hunter's Lodge ; we have
changed places, in fact, and she will remain with
mamma till either I or the Colonel return." Then
Mary turned and looked at her new sister that was
AVillina Clavering was not what the world reckons
a beauty, but her noble mien, the beautiful shape of
her head, and its elegant poise on her shoulders, to-
gether with the severe Grecian style in which her hair
was arranged, gave her an air of distinction which was
almost regal. This had the effect also of carrying out
the idea once expressed by the famous Count d'Orsay.
when consulted concerning the claims of a certain
debutante to be considered handsome. " Miss S
is not a beauty," pronounced this fastidious judge of
female charms, "but don't sit near her, — she makes
other women look plain."
The tincture of foreign courtesy which Miss Claver-
ing displayed in her manners was just enough to pol-
252 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ish the frank British nature which lay beneath them ;
and this lady had been too well trained to accept the
theory that a rude manner necessarily forms the husk
of a good heart and a sincere nature. Her religious
proclivities led her to respect that terse admonition of
St Paul, " Be courteous."
Mary Leppell looked in vain for any resemblance
that might announce that Frank and Willina were
brother and sister : the dark strong complexion of the
former was modified in the clear nut-brown tint which
shadowed the young girl's face, the whole expression
of which was softer and more refined. This expres-
sion melted into real tenderness, sweet and pure, as,
advancing towards Mary, she held out her arms, and,
in a kind embrace, said —
" Frank is a fortunate man ; well may you be called
' heavenly Moll/ My sister, — my real sister, — you
are beautiful as an angel : we are friends for ever, are
we not ? "
They immediately became so, and it was only after
long years that death parted them.
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES.
According to previous arrangement, Mr La Touche
and his son Stephen duly arrived at Pinnacles, and
were satisfied, both by the report of the Eector's
family and also by ocular demonstration, that Mrs
Kemble's state of mind had considerably changed for
the worse. The only cheering sign in this poor lady's
case was the delight with which she welcomed her
younger nephew, and the confidence she expressed
that all would be happy and bright because he had
come to see her. She stroked his beard and patted
his hands, and evinced all the delight which a child
would do after a long separation from a beloved mother
or nurse. Lillian Fanshawe, who was present at this
meeting, was very much impressed at witnessing this
outburst of feeling, — so different, mused she, from the
reception she vouchsafed to Percival : he always
seems to freeze her into stone, and he never suggests
anything to brighten her condition. " Perhaps we
might have done more on our part, but then it is so
254 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
difficult to know what the right thing is with regard
to imbecile people." And so Miss Lillian salved her
conscience for some neglect towards the unfortunate
woman to whom some little attentions would have
been a great boon, and would have been also grate-
fully remembered ; for Mrs Kemble's powers of recol-
lection were scarcely impaired.
" Take me into the garden, aunt," said Stephen, "and
let me see some of your flowers. I should like you to
show me your very best, for I intend to steal a good
many to take up to town when we return."
" But you are not going away directly, are you ? "
asked the aunt, with an imploring look ; " do stay,
Stephen. Dear Stephen, if you only knew how dull
it is for me here, so much alone. I know I am queer
sometimes, very queer ; something comes over me that
I cannot help, and I get violent. All me ! The fit
has passed now, but I am too much alone, and I know
they all think that I am mad : I can see it in their
faces very plainly, that they believe I am quite
" I don't think that quite, aunt," Stephen answered,
in the quiet equable tone which is so soothing to shat-
tered nerves. " The family have always said that you
are very excitable and easily upset, on account of the
harsh treatment you received some years ago, and your
mental anxiety, and all that has contributed to render
you at times — at times only — not quite responsible ;
but you are often much cleverer than many of us."
" I know Percival always says that I am only
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 255
nervous, but he has got a reason for that, — a reason,
and a very particular reason, my dear," said the
patient, with a look of knowing cunning which was
painful to see. " Percival wants to lay my queerness
all to Mr Kemble's account, — and mind, he only ill-
used me when he was drunk, and I won't speak ill of
the dead, — and to make these Fanshawes believe that
there is nothing wrong in the family. We have it in
the family strong," continued the lady, with emphasis,
" and Percival inherits it. Ah ! he will be mad some
day ; he's got the taint worse than any of you."
" All this is very sad, aunt," replied Stephen, greatly
shocked, although not so much surprised. " But why
is Percival anxious to keep right with the Fanshawes ?
My father, you know, says much the same thing, and
I don't think he cares what the people at Pinnacles
Court say or believe on the subject."
" True ; but you don't know all the by-play. There
is a daughter, my dear — a daughter young and hand-
some ; don't you understand now ? "
" Yes ; but the daughter has been there ever since
you came to Pinnacles, nearly six years ago, and my
brother must have seen her off and on during that
time. Don't take that fancy into your head, dear aunt,
and above all things, don't say anything about this ;
Percival would be furious. He always gives out, too,
that he will only marry a girl who has money, and
these Fanshawes have none."
" All very well, Stephen ; but there is a difference
between twelve years and eighteen, and the girl is
256 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
older than that in her ways and manners. Percival
has got his fortune now, so he can afford to follow his
fancy. Ah ! the very last time he was here, I saw
them walking under the laurels : he forgot that my
window was open, and that I could hear."
" Well, I daresay it w T as only friendly talk."
" They were talking about my health, and he told
Miss Fanshawe that my peculiar ways were entirely
owing to Kemble's ill-usage of me ; and that it an-
noyed him because people would think that mad
it was in the family, and he was glad to have the op-
portunity of telling her the real reason. What do
you think of that?"
" No one likes to proclaim their own misfortunes,"
the nephew replied, gently ; " but Percival went rather
far in his inferences. Still, he might not be making
love for all that : he was only trying to keep up his
"But I am sure that he is making love," Mrs
Kemble answered quickly, "and that is the reason
he tries to frighten me into being very silent when he
comes here ; and he has been worse, much worse, of
late. I know I don't improve, — I am too much left
to myself ; none of them come here for their holidays
or their illnesses as they used to do : and, Stephen,
the people about this, they don't come to see me, —
they are afraid. Oh, take me away ! take me away ! "
and the poor soul clung convulsively to her nephew's
arm as she spoke.
Soothing her as well as he was able, Stephen
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 257
promised faithfully to try and effect a change in
his aunt's condition, and that as soon as possible.
" You have been here too long," he remarked ; " and
the house is certainly too large for what you require.
Now, would you like to go into a private home —
for a time, I mean — under a good doctor's care ?
I am sure you would be very soon all right if you
Stephen proposed this, as it might meet the appro-
bation of the medical man of whom Mr Fanshawe
had made mention in his letter to his father ; and
further, he saw that his relative was far more likely
to accept any suggestion coming from him than from
any one else. A little conversation convinced him that
he was right in this conjecture, and that there would
be no resistance on the part of Mrs Kemble to any
plan in which his counsels would bear a part.
Assuring himself of this, Stephen resolved that if
his father would make no move in the matter, he
would himself seek out this doctor, and, conjointly
with him, try to effect some arrangement which would
conduce to the satisfaction at least of this afflicted
relative. He then exacted a promise from Mrs
Kemble that she would be quiet and patient, and,
above all, trust to him implicitly. "Whatever may
be done, be assured, dear aunt, that 1 will in future
see to your welfare independently of any one else ;
all I want you to do now is to be very patient."
" Marcia never comes near me," broke in Mrs
Kemble suddenly, as her nephew led her into the
VOL. I. E
258 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
house ; " that's very much against me, you know —
" Little Anna is seriously ill at this moment,"
said Stephen, " and Aunt Marcia has had to go to her
at once. I assure you that she hoped to manage to
accompany us, but really it was quite impossible."
" It's always impossible with Marcia ; but I shall
believe it as you say so now. Anna, the youngest, —
what is the matter with the child ? "
" A return, I fear, of the old malady. You know
she has been subject to fits all her life ; but she has
been so very much better the last two years, that
it was hoped she had quite grown out of them," re-
" I remember ; fits indeed ! I hope they are going
to treat her in a sensible manner; for if they keep
her away from everybody as they have kept me, there
will be something more to manage than fits, I'm
thinking. She will be called highly nervous, and be
put out of the way of the family, because it might
affect the chances of the marriages, you see, if a cer-
tain word beginning with ' m ' — you know, ah, you
know," — and here Mrs Kemble bestowed a look upon
her nephew which was partly ridiculous and partly
painful in its effect upon its recipient.
Meanwhile Stephen mused within himself, and
became more and more thoroughly convinced that his
aunt must not remain longer at Pinnacles. There
was no actual complaint to make ; the rector and his
family called in occasionally, and Mrs Kemble was
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 259
now and then a guest at the Court for a few hours
at a time ; but save for a week at the sea, and spend-
ing, at intervals, the day in a picnic fashion on the
hills, her life, from its very monotony, was dreary
The rector's second daughter, Etta, who was like a
curate to Mr Fanshawe, called more regularly and
showed more sympathy than any other person around
Mrs Kemble ; but of late this young lady had evinced
such ill-concealed terror when in company with her,
that her visits had become rather irksome than other-
wise, and the girl had been made to understand on
one occasion that if she were afraid of her hostess,
she had better not call again. Added to this, the
visits of Mrs Kemble's relatives, either for pleasure
or convenience, had become so few and far between,
that they might be looked upon almost as events of
This state of things had the usual effect upon the
attendant who was specially engaged to wait upon
Mrs Kemble and minister to her comfort. She, from
necessarily having control over the household and
its expenditure, had waxed both neglectful and inso-
lent, and evidently deemed her position a sinecure.
Not being sufficiently trained nor experienced in the
treatment of mental disease, she by her conduct had
at length exasperated her patient by little and little,
until the indignation of the latter had culminated into
doing her positive bodily harm.
And here let us reflect how much acute suffering
2 GO THE FAT OF THE LAND.
and chronic injustice is often inflicted upon patients
of all classes of disease, mental or otherwise, through
the unwisdom of their several friends in the selec-
tion of their nurses and attendants. Too often an
imbecile patient, who is warranted " not dangerous," is
placed under the charge of an attendant whose vir-
tues chiefly consist in being aunt or cousin, or even
grandmother, to the housekeeper or some servant of
the family to whom the patient belongs ; or if the mone-
tary position does not admit of this arrangement, some
relative of the family is thus cheaply provided for,
and rushes into the undertaking of nurse, guide, cook,
and familiar friend with an enthusiasm only equalled
by corresponding incapacity. We put philosophy out
of the question, because true philosophy never com-
mits such arrant blunders as these.
But the family of La Touche had not only put
philosophy out of the question, but had relegated com-
mon-sense to the regions of " nowhere " when they
agreed to intrust Jane Prosser with the care of their
afflicted relative. Mrs Kemble's comfort was in this
selection very much less cared for than the providing
this female with a comfortable berth. " Send Jane
Prosser down to the country with Arabella ! " was
Marcia's first exclamation on being informed that
some respectable trustworthy person should be at
once engaged to wait upon her sister, and take a
general charge of the house provided for that lady's
occupation — " send Jane Prosser, — the very person.
Mr La Touche would have to do something for her
STEPHEN LA. TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 261
in a few years' time, as he was weak enough to pro-
mise old nurse when she was dying to get Jane into
an almshouse, or give her a pension himself, should
she live to be a^ecl. You know she is old nurse's
niece, and my brother thought he could acknowledge
the services of the latter in that way, and thus stave
off putting money down. Prosser might die in my
brother's lifetime, you know," Marcia continued with
elation, " for she is no chicken, and my brother may
see her out. However, both he and Percival subscribe
to the refuge for incapables on her account ; but she
must be some years older before she can be admitted
into that praiseworthy institution, so this is the very
thing for Jane till she can be shelved for life."
Thus Marcia to the family physician, who did not
view matters in this accommodating light, and who
even presumed to do his duty and recommend a
trained nurse from an institution which he named.
Miss La Touche, however, with the utmost celerity
and decision, quenched this recommendation in the
" That will never do, Dr Pearsall — never. A nurse
from a mad place ! My brother would never hear of
it. Why, we might as well proclaim the whole family
to be raging lunatics on the spot. Besides, the expense
would be terrific ! "
" I think Mrs Kemble's jointure is four hundred a
year, and she has two thousand pounds of her own.
You have forgotten that I am one of the trustees
to your sister's marriage-settlement ; so I am per-
262 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
fectly sure that expense need not be considered," re-
plied Dr Pearsall, looking Marcia steadily in the eyes.
"So she has," returned the lady; "and do you
know," she continued, with characteristic irrelevancy,
" that Air Keinble's relations pray regularly night and
day for her 'release,' as they call it. Old Bishop
Kemble, they say, would marry again if Arabella
were to die. He is heir to three hundred a-year of
"Fine old Bible Christian," returned the doctor,
affecting to believe Marcia's statement, though, like
an honest man, he took the half of it and divided it
by three, according to the old-fashioned arithmetical
rule which was the standard measure when the accur-
acy of a report wherein figures were concerned had to
be tested. " But never mind the Kembles. Let me
urge upon you the necessity of getting a well-trained
experienced woman as a nurse for your sister. This
plan is far more economical than the one you seem
inclined to adopt, as you will find out in the long-run."
So saying, the doctor took his leave, and Marcia pro-
mised to mention his suggestion to Mr La Touche
The result of Marcia's consultation with her brother
was the immediate engagement of Jane Prosser, the
pair being incited to this proceeding on being supplied
with the information that Miss Prosser mitst know
something about mad people, because she possessed a
grand-uncle who was in a lunatic asylum, and another
relative who was popularly supposed to be " off her
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 263
head." These qualifications being considered unim-
peachable, and in fact a certificate of experience and
efficiency, the woman was sent down to Pinnacles,
and being there free from all supervision, succeeded
in rendering Mrs Kemble so irritable and contradic-
tory by her unworthy conduct, that in an accession
of ungovernable excitement the patient stabbed her
with a dinner-fork in the arm.
Startling as this action was, Stephen hailed it as a
tangible proof that his aunt's state of mind necessi-
tated her removal to more direct medical care, and
also that a thorough change in the management of
the patient was imperatively necessary. He therefore
determined to join issue with Mr Fanshawe in insist-
ing upon a consultation with the clever and benevolent
director of the Yarne County Asylum. His inquiries
regarding Jane Prosser satisfied Stephen, also, that this
woman had made the most of her injuries, and it
transpired, in addition, that this attendant was by no
means inclined to resign her situation, or even to
admit a trained nurse to minister to the case for
a few weeks upon trial. Miss Prosser even expressed
her regret that Mr La Touche should have been sum-
moned, for she saw from the younger son's manner
that he had no opinion either of her capability of
managing an invalid, or her fitness for occupying the
very responsible post which she held more by good
luck than good guidance, as the old saying has it.
Another point for consideration had also rushed into
Stephen's mind. After the outbreak on the part of
264 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Mrs Kemble, how were the future relations between
his aunt and Jane Prosser to be maintained ?
" I am going up to Pinnacles Court now, aunt/' said
her nephew, after he had carved her fowl and partaken
of her usually solitary dinner. " My father is going
to dine and sleep there, but I shall come back here
early in the evening. I suppose you can put me up
for the night ? "
" Quite easily ; it will be a comfort to have some of
the rooms occupied."
" By the way," said Stephen, " does any one attend
to you personally, now that Prosser is laid aside ? "
" Yes," returned Mrs Kemble ; " a nice kindly woman
from the village, who was sent here by Miss Etta Fan-
shawe. She only stays during the day, though, and so
the cook is all I have in the house at night just now ;
but it is safe enough, and there is no fear of Prosser
coming and teasing me to go to bed early, as she used
to do. Do you know, Stephen," said the old lady with
a chuckle, " it was a good thing I gave her that gash.
They were all so frightened that they took her away
at once to the kind of infirmary place they have in the
village, and she is to stay there till she gets well, and
we shall have to pay for it. But that does not matter ;
she's gone, and that is nuts to me, my dear — yes, nuts
and figs ! "
Stephen did not think it advisable to tell his aunt
that he and Mr La Touche had interviewed Jane
Prosser just before he called upon her, nor did he
think it well to encourage his aunt to converse on the
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 265
subject, so he said, " I have brought you a book of
photographs to look at ; they are very beautiful, and
• represent some of the finest works of art in the Paris
Exhibition. Do you think the woman from the village
would like to look over them with you ? I always
think two persons enjoy looking over pictures of a
particular kind in company, and this book is large
and heavy for you to hold alone. Shall I tell her to
come to you as I pass out ? "
" Please do so ; but she need not hurry, — I shall sit
in my big chair there and have a sleep. Stephen !
you have brought the kindly blessed sleep : it is
coming — coming like the rustle of an angel's wing ;
let it overshadow me, and let me feel what Elizabeth
Barrett Browning so sweetly tells us in poetry about
' He giveth his beloved sleep.' You know she made
a poem on that verse of Scripture, don't you ? and
another upon 'Dying Alone,' which is one of the
grandest sonnets ever written, in my poor opinion.
But now let me sleep, — for many nights I have not
closed my eyes."
Stephen drew his stalwart arm round the old lady
and placed her in her chair, at the same time arrang-
ing both her and her surroundings with a gentleness
to which she had been long unaccustomed. Then he
went to the woman who was acting as a substitute for
Jane, and requested her to go up-stairs now and then
and see to his aunt, — " but as long as she sleeps don't
disturb her," he enjoined.
" I believe if Mrs Kemble could get a good sleep
266 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
oftener, and have more companionship like, she would
not be half bad," Mrs Vardon said. " She's a nice lady,
and that there Jane a'most worrited her into fits, times.
Lor' ! she and I gets on first-rate, that we does."
Stephen expressed himself delighted to hear it, and
presented Mrs Vardon with half-a-crown as a stimu-
lus to future attentions ; and then he made his way
out of the house and walked down a narrow enclosure
bordered by laurels and flowering shrubs, which led
from the village in a gentle ascent to the large front
gates of Pinnacles Court. He was just about to enter
when he perceived his father and Mr Fanshawe stand-
ing on the steps which led up to the hall porch. As
they were evidently coming out, the young man
waited and rolled back one of the heavy gates for
his seniors to pass through. Mr Fanshawe, who was
a great agriculturist, was about to take Mr La Touche
through his farms, and they were in high talk about
drainings, piggeries, mangel-wurzel, and all the concomi-
tants which are popularly supposed to be the staple of
a country gentleman's talk, when Stephen joined them.
Mr La Touche took care to remind the rector that
he too was a country gentleman, but that enormous
expenses and an immense family obliged him to live
in London and let his property, which basked on the
lovely wealds of Sussex. " Some of my relatives at
first did not like my entering into commercial life,"
said Mr La Touche, almost apologetically ; " but if I
had not done so, my family would have been very
STEPHEN" LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 267
" You were quite right," replied the rector, energeti-
cally ; " nothing is so trying as to have to keep up cer-
tain appearances with a paucity of means, — nothing,"
and the poor man sighed and looked very glum :
galdly indeed would he let Pinnacles Court and return
to his rectory, but what of wife and daughters in the
case ? The answer was plain and apparent enough.
Mrs Fanshawe was more in her element as the wife of
a landed proprietor than as the wife of a country
clergyman, and the meaning of " advance " and " pro-
gress " with her was rise in life and increased money
in the pocket, the welfare of the community at large
being a very small item in the account.
The three gentlemen walked round, now and then
prodding a pig with their sticks, gazing at a bullock
here and there, and making a deep halt before a re-
markable cow-shed which had been drained on highly
scientific principles. Here the rector was in his glory,
pointing out how the liquid manure could run this way
into a sluice ; how the heads of the cattle tethered
therein would sway more comfortably the other way ;
how the feed could be husbanded ; and how cleanly and
sanitary arrangements were by this process thoroughly
carried out and utilised. The elder Mr La Touche,
who cared nothing for the country, and who would as
soon have thought of permanently residing in Horse-
monger Lane Jail as living at his country place,
even if circumstances permitted him to do so, listened
with much attention to the rector's orations on this
head. The thought entered his mind that money could
2G8 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
be made out of this idea, and so he taxed his memory
to preserve the important part of the information, re-
solving to advise Percival to look into the matter the
next time that he should come into Yarneshire.
At a pause in the conversation, Stephen valiantly
introduced the affair of his aunt Kemble, feeling that
it was safer to approach this subject under the shadow
of the rector's wing. He had too long been aware of
the time-serving and worldly nature of his father to
be ignorant that Mr La Touche would rather shuffle
away a disagreeable duty than meet it manfully and
do the right thing ; and besides this, the elder gentle-
man seemed, perhaps unconsciously, to take a de-
light in thwarting, if not actually opposing, any pro-
position, however reasonable, which might emanate
from this son, in which injustice he was invariably
backed up by Percival, and sometimes also by aunt
The stronger, sounder nature of the younger man
was not in the least subdued by a course of conduct
which he attributed to its legitimate cause. A
short simple statement of the facts explains this. A
good living had been offered to Mr La Touche
for one of his sons, in repayment (or, to put it
more respectably, in acknowledgment) of a monetary
service which the merchant had rendered to a certain
spendthrift nobleman some years before. Lord Piashe
knew that Mr La Touche went in for Church matters,
as it was said ; that he had a lot of sons, and that one
of the lot was a famous boat-oar of an Oxford college.
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 269
" There was the living, there was the man, all ready,
or nearly so," Lord Eashe averred, adding his thank-
fulness that " the man " was gentlemanlike in tone,
and would be an acquisition to county society. It
was, therefore, much to the surprise of the patron and
to the indignation of the father that Stephen La
Touche declined this preferment, and that with great
decision and reason. " I have no proclivity for the
profession," he said ; " I do not agree with certain
parts of the thirty-nine Articles of the Church of
England, and I am not the man to give assent thereto
unless I can accept them in their entirety and with-
out mental reservation." It is not necessary to enter
into the why and wherefore of this rejection beyond
stating the fact, and adding that this was the reason
why Stephen La Touche worked hard and in the end
qualified himself thoroughly for the law. He had set
up as a Chancery barrister, and was doing well in his
profession after less than the usual anxiety and " hope
deferred," which is so often the lot of many as deserv-
ing a man.
But the refusal of a good living — or the promise of
it when qualified, strictly speaking — was a great offence
in the eyes of Mr La Touche, and downright in-
sanity into the bargain in the opinion of Percival,
who was rather surprised at the steady success Qf his
younger brother. Thus it was that a kind of un-
acknowledged estrangement existed between Mr La
Touche and his son Stephen, although the elder gentle-
man would have sung paeans over the latter's straight-
270 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
forward and disinterested conduct, had this been dis-
played by any other person's son than his own. But this
living was highly endowed, and Stephen as its incum-
bent could have married one of the favoured daughters
of the land, and have lived and fared sumptuously, and
made a good connection for his family, and in fact
done all the great things to which parents aspire fondly
for their children, very often more for their own glori-
fication than for the real happiness of their offspring.
However, Stephen was firm, and threatened to seek
employment as a tutor in the event of his father re-
fusing further aid in his education. This settled the
matter, and the subject was considered done with for
ever, as the old gentleman summed up his expos-
tulations with this intimation : " You had best work
hard, sir ; two thousand pounds is all you will ever
get from me, and not that until I die. Meanwhile, you
shall have half your college allowance for two years."
Thankful for the presence of the rector and the
absence of Percival, Stephen, as it has been said,
introduced the subject of his aunt, and so earnestly
recommended an immediate interview with Dr Wil-
liams, the head physician of the County Asylum, that
the old gentleman's breath was literally carried away,
especially as the young man intimated that Mrs
Kemble would gladly acquiesce in anything which
might give her change of scene. "You will find
Aunt Arabella quite ready to be admitted as a private
patient, and she knows as well as I do what her
malady is," Stephen concluded.
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 271
" I am quite convinced of that," said Mr Fanshawe,
backing Stephen up in a matter-of-fact kind of way ;
" indeed I have taken the trouble to ascertain in how
far Mrs Kemble feels herself to be at times irrespon-
sible. For my part, Mr La Touche, do not let the
tenancy of the house be any obstacle to your arrange-
ments ; my curate is just engaged to be married to a
lady of large fortune, and he will be only too glad to
occupy the rectory after I have done it up."
" Your curate going to marry a fortune ! " ejaculated
Mr La Touche, in real admiration, mixed with sur-
prise. " Ah, well, I am not astonished : the English
Church is such a good — such an introduction to that
kind of thing — ladies and their guardians see how safe
it is to let money go in that direction. Ah, what a
thing it is to belong to the Establishment ! "
" Well, I married a lady without any money," said
the rector, who naturally did not like his Church men-
tioned as if it were a large manufactory, and therefore
spoke rather more briskly than was his wont. He
suspected also that a hit at Stephen was more the
tenor of Mr La Touche's meaning than anything
else, and he determined to put an end to any kind of
surreptitious innuendo which might annoy Stephen, for
whom the rector had great respect, knowing well how
the latter stood with his family from his daughter
Lillian, to whom Percival had related the circum-
stances, with comments.
So, between the two, Mr La Touche was compelled
to come to a decided determination, and it must be
272 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
conceded the projected occupation of the rectory
house stood out in high relief in the resolutions which
were adopted, and Stephen blessed Mr Fanshawe's
curate with all his might and main. It was finally
agreed that Mr La Touche should return to town,
and that Stephen should take all the responsibility
of interviewing the doctor, and making final arrange-
ments for Mrs Kemble.
" Can you stay down here a week ? " Mr Fanshawe
said to his young friend a few hours later ; " if so, Mrs
Fanshawe will be very glad if you will make the Court
useful during the day. I know you won't desert your
aunt, so I won't ask you to sleep at Pinnacles Court ;
but if you can stay, we will all be delighted to see you,
and make your visit as agreeable as we can."
" Yes, I can stay," Stephen replied, and expressed
the satisfaction it would be to him thus to combine
pleasure with business.
" Our house will be more attractive than usual," said
the rector, " as we have a very charming young lady
coming here on a visit in a few days. She is the sister
of the gentleman who is going to wed Mary Leppell,
my daughter Lillian's girl-friend. She was to have
gone to the Leppells' with her guardian, Mr Glascott ;
but old Lady Asher is very ill, and so Mrs Fanshawe
has invited them to come here, and Mary with them,
in order to relieve Hunter's Lodge. Mary Leppell's
future sister, of course, must be looked upon as a
" Her name is Clavering, then ? " said Stephen ;
STEPHEN LA TOUCHE AT PINNACLES. 273
" yes, I have heard of the engagement — Clavering is
a lucky man."
" Sweet, beautiful girl," said the rector, who, by the
by, was not popularly supposed to perceive the differ-
ence between one woman's attractions and another
— " I hope Clavering will value her."
" He must," said Stephen, who had seen Mary Lep-
pell at a flower-show in London, and thought her an
angel. " I know Mr Clavering slightly," continued
the young man ; " I wonder if the sister resembles
" Do you like Clavering himself ? " asked the rector.
l< Our acquaintance is so slight that I can hardly
say : no, he is a clever man, but I am not prepossessed
in his favour."
" Xor am I," answered the rector ; " he was here
once, and I did not like his tone or general bearing.
He may improve, though, on better acquaintance. I
suppose you want to write your letters now ; mind and
arrange to stay for a week or ten days."
So saying, the good rector took himself off, and
left Stephen, pleased and gratified, to follow his
So many circumstances had for years prevented Mrs
Fanshawe from having what is called company in the
house, that it was quite natural that both that lady
and her husband should feel alike anxious as to how
this influx of visitors, conjoined with their own flock,
were to be entertained for " the space of ten days or
so," as the manner of their invitation put it. Their
mutual astonishment was great as they convinced them-
selves that they enjoyed this departure from their or-
dinary routine of life most thoroughly : not that the
rector and his wife were in any way allied to that army
of humbugs who profess to dislike and despise society,
simply because want of means or some other circum-
stance precludes them from entering into it ; but that
a strict sense of duty and honesty had obliged this
couple to restrain their hospitality in a general sense-
Now that their children were growing up, and oppor-
tunity presented itself, it was felt to be just and right
that they should meet their equals, and become accus-
JONATHAN SIKES. 275
tomed to dispense, as well as to receive, those amenities
of social life which tend so much to refine and charm
the intercourse which advancing civilisation demands
for us all in this workaday world.
" How to amuse them ? " said Stephen, repeating an
inquiry from his hostess, which was toned very much
like an appeal to his own powers of invention. " How
can you ask such a question, Mrs Fanshawe ? " he
said, as he looked out of the large embrasured window
of the noble hall of Pinnacles Court upon the pleasant
garden which lay mapped beneath its walls. Truly a
pleasaunce, — truly the pleasant garden of dear Will
Shakespeare, with its extensive lawns divided in equal
proportions by a broad walk straight on to the boundary
wall, to the gate of which a flight of stone steps led,
bringing the rambler to an exquisite Norman arch,
framed in the old stone wall, around one side of which
dark ivy clung with all the pertinacity of the only
parasite that does not enfeeble the life of either the
animate or inanimate object. The doorway enclosed by
this masonry opened upon the kitchen-garden and
poultry-yards, and so through to the orchards and
fields which lay beyond.
The eyes of Stephen La Touche were at this
moment turned towards the bank of thick soft
sward on the right, which, sloping at a rather
abrupt angle, was crowned with a splendid terrace
walk, shaded on the farther side by handsome
shrubs, amongst which the laurustinus reared itself
in a bloom which was truly magnificent, show-
276 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ing as it did an equal redundancy of flower and
Flights of stone steps of easy graduated height were
the legitimate means of ascent to the terrace walk ;
but to be able to descend to the lawn by means of the
bank itself was an exciting and time-honoured pastime,
observed generally by the younger members of the
denizens of Pinnacles and their visitors. Stephen
smiled as he said, " I do believe that bank will be a
most popular resort ; it is no easy matter, as I can
attest, to reach the ground in safety, owing to the
extreme slipperiness of the grass. I tried it with your
boys yesterday, and nearly came down head-foremost :
depend, upon it, we shall soon inaugurate a capital
Mrs Fanshawe assented, and then expressed a wish
that the season were warmer — " We might have the
target put up in the orchard, and have some shooting,"
" I would not give that idea up, Mrs Fanshawe,
if I were you. Spring plays such tricks in this land
of ours — we may possibly count on one warm after-
noon : see how beautifully your flower of the season
is coming out ! "
At this time the flower of the season was that of
the splendid cherry-trees which for untold time had
been planted on the stately lawns of the old Court.
Here, as if in gratitude that no other tree had been
suffered to bloom near them, they poured out their
pure white blossoms in the early year, and in the
JONATHAN SIKES. 277
autumn-fall they had never failed to supply a wealth
of luscious and sound good fruit ; and so a cherry feast
on Pinnacles lawn had for long been an event to which
the youth of the neighbourhood, rich and poor, looked
forward as intently as they did to their Christmas
cheer, and apparently with quite as satisfactory a
A clump of Norway firs of black-green hue were
picturesquely grouped near a corner of the lower lawn,
as it was called, because it terminated in a deep ha-ha,
and consequently boasted no terrace-walk — and some
evergreens were dotted here and there, giving a very
pleasing effect to the scene ; and to this Mr La Touche
directed the attention of his hostess.
" Yes," she said, " but you should see this place when
the stone vases on the top of the terrace steps are
filled with flowers ; the scarlet of the Tom Thumb
geranium and the orange of the capuchin nasturtium
contrast so well, and shine out in such splendid relief
from the grey shadow of the vases."
" Ay," replied Stephen, " I believe that the grey
shadow everywhere gives a tone of tenderness to all
bright things ; without that, without softness, brill-
iancy and glare are little worth."
Now as Mrs Fanshawe, with her numerous good
qualities and her somewhat satirical disposition, was
utterly devoid of softness, and often of common
courtesy, in her manner at any rate, this remark of
her visitor was rather inopportune, especially as she
was aware that she treated her eldest daughter with
278 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
habitual harshness, and that the outside world was
beginning to comment rather too freely on that
circumstance. She did not in her heart accuse
Stephen of any intentional point towards herself in
his remark — indeed it was too genuine an outcome
of sincere feeling to bear any invidious interpretation ;
but she made no reply to the observation, and turning
to solid fact, she asked Stephen if he was aware that
there was a spring of water — pure chalybeate of iron
— in the garden.
" I often say to the rector what a paying thing it
would be to establish a small spa here — it would
answer well, I am sure," continued Mrs Fanshawe,
with an eye to business.
" You don't mean to say," replied Stephen, aghast,
" that you would like to turn this fine old Court into
— into a pump place ! "
" Not exactly," Mrs Fanshawe replied ; " there are
other springs all coming from the hill behind the
house. The pump-room might be in the centre of the
village, you know ; and of course, all the house, or
rather the cottage, property would rise in value. But
let me show you the little well in the garden."
Stephen followed the lady out, and they ascended
the steps on the right extremity of the terrace bank :
these were divided by a broad stone platform, and
by any one standing on this and looking down into a
deep hollow formed in the curve of the bank, a little
rill could be heard bubbling up and oozing its way from
the earth below it, jealously guarded by appropriate
JONATHAN SIKES. 279
water-plants and built round with rock-work, which
was just enough covered by ferns to show the beautiful
colouring of its stones, and their wonderful apparent
changes of shape as the light and shade fell upon
them. This tiny well had been bricked within long,
long ago — so far back, indeed, that the bricks were
covered by thick short moss, which literally lined the
interior of the cavity. An old-fashioned bowl, small
in size, was appended to a chain fixed in the rock-
work ; but this was quite large enough, for the spring
never yielded more nor less at a time than what the
bowl could contain.
" Just fill the bowl," Mrs Fanshawe said, " and drink
the water ; you will discover what a powerful taste it
Mr La Touche did so, knowing from the peculiar
red colour that it contained a large proportion of iron
in its composition. " I wonder," he said, after he had
indulged in a good draught, — " I wonder that a well
should have been built over so small a spring : you
tell me that there are many much larger running
down from that hill."
" Do you see that window in the gable of the house
just above this ? — it looks down exactly upon this
" Yes," replied Stephen, in some wonder.
" Two hundred years ago, a little daughter of the
Fanshawes lay dying, as it was thought, in that room
of which this window is a part. It was one of the
child's delights to be placed in her high chair at this
280 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
window, and to look out upon this garden and the
bank, down which she had often run with her brothers
and sisters in the days of her happy strength. The
child never complained, but was always restless and
even perverse if she was prevented from looking out :
a kind of magnetism seemed to chain her eyes and
thoughts to this spgt. One night in summer she was
left sleeping at her post, and seemed to be so deep in
slumber that her nurse ventured to leave her for a few
moments. On the woman's return she found her charge
radiant and ready to leap for joy. ' Look ! ' she said, —
' look at that dear angel standing there ! Oh, he says
I shall not die, but I must drink the red water under
the bank. There — he points — Elsie often has heard
the bubble of the water, and never knew ; but now she
knows that she will get well. And the angel says
there will be always enough for a little child like me
to drink, but not much more, — always, always enough
for little children.' The story goes that the child then
swooned, and remained for hours hovering between
life and death. The father, Eric Fanshawe, had the
excavation made in the bank, and the child drank
daily of the spring that was there found, and speedily
recovered her health. The parents in gratitude fenced
the spring with rock-work without and brick within.
You can take the story for what it is worth," the lady
continued ; " but certain it is that for many years
the women of this village have brought their ailing
children to get a drink at this particular spring in
preference to the larger and more convenient ones
JONATHAN SIKES. 281
near the hill. It is said that the little ones who
have taken this remedy always recover, and that the
water of Elsie's Well has been spoken of as having
been hallowed by an angel's healing wing for nearly
two centuries past."
" It is a lovely, touching story," replied Stephen ;
" whether you think me superstitious or not, I like to
"But you don't believe the angel's part in it, do
you ? " inquired Mrs Fanshawe, apprehensively.
" I do," answered Stephen, stoutly ; " it was a dream
most probably, but who knows ? Might not the dear
Christ Himself have taken pity on the suffering child ?
Think of it as we may, much benefit to others has re-
sulted in the discovery of this rill. It was, I suppose,
the first that was known in the neighbourhood ? "
" I believe so ; and the children and all who drink
regularly of these springs are as fine and healthy a lot
as Britain can show in any part. That is why I am
urging the rector to utilise these mineral waters, and
make Pinnacles a kind of homely spa for the relief of
persons of all ages and ranks ; but he does not seem
to like the idea,"
" You would not like ' Elsie's Well ' to become pub-
lic property, I am sure," said Stephen, gently.
" Oh, I am not so sure," replied the lady. " In these
days we cannot afford to be sentimental, and if our duty
to our children obliges us to give up ancient memories
and the homes of our ancestors, and their rockeries and
their wells, it must be done : they had not the burden
282 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
of keeping up appearances, and all that sort of thing,
as we have. "
" I think they of the olden times had not so many
wants to satisfy," replied Stephen ; " and they certainly
knew more of the blessings of contentment than we do.
I fear the text of these times is to look after ' great
gain,' throwing godliness with contentment quite out
of the question."
Mrs Fanshawe was about to reply when a confused
sound and a sharp cry from the back of the terrace
walk arrested her speech. Presently a troop of
children rushed on to the lawn, bearing amongst
them a little ragged lad, whose fat juicy leg was
streaming with blood. " Sikes did it ! Sikes did it ! "
they cried in a breath ; " oh, he is so dreadful ! why
does not papa have him killed ? "
" Yes, before he kills some of us," exclaimed Harold,
the eldest hope of the male Fanshawes, in an awful
tone of apprehension.
" AVho is Sikes ? " inquired Stephen two or three
times, without being able to elicit a reply. At length
he said, " I suppose Sikes is a watch-dog."
" Oh, far worse than that," answered Frank Fanshawe,
' ; far worse ; he'll kill somebody, and papa and all of us
will be had up for murder — see if we aren't."
As the young gentleman spiced this prophecy with
some elation in his tone and bearing, Stephen jumped
at a conclusion, and hazarded the opinion that Frank
was alluding to a dangerous-looking bull which he had
previously noticed in a meadow near the house.
JONATHAN SIKES. 283
" Bull ! no," returned Master Frank ; " the bull is an
angel compared to him : he never runs at people — he
only looks as if he would. Papa turns him out in one
of the meadows when parties will come picnicing
among the hay after being warned off, — then he makes
a clear field ; but oh ! no, he's nothing to Sikes."
" Who is Sikes, then ? " said Stephen, getting exas-
perated. " I suppose you don't keep a bear on the
Frank laughed. " Sikes is just as bad : he is an enor-
mous gander that papa will keep in the fowl-yard. He
frightens everybody, and no one dares cross the stile
of the Mallow Meadow but he's at them. There, stop
howling," he added, turning to the boy, whose leg was
being bound up by at least three girls and a nurse-
maid, — " hold your noise, you young bell-wether ! you
were skulking about after the eggs, and had no busi-
ness to be on the premises, — I know you."
These dark insinuations had the intended effect,
and Master Billy Bubb proclaimed with great energy
" that he would never come nigh the place, never no
more, he had had enough on 'em," — meaning Sikes,
The appearance of a child with a huge lump of
bread and honey, called in that county " a piece,"
went far to mollify the pain of Master Bubb's wound,
as little Clarice Fanshawe put it into his hand and
told him that the bite of the gander was a "judg-
ment " for endeavouring to steal the eggs, and that
if he dared to come into the fowl - yard, or near it
284 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
again, worse things would happen to him than bread
and honey. " Mamma says that you are to go away
now, and we will see you safe out at the stable-gate ; "
and so the Fanshawe fry conducted the culprit to
some port of exit, placed him in the road, with his
head well homewards, shook their small fists in his
face as a combination of warning and parting salute,
and then flew back like lapwings, to have a run down
the bank with " Touchey," as one of the infants had
The history of Sikes may here be related. He
came of a renowned stock, and at his birth was the
private property of a famous poacher of those days,
whose name was Jonathan Sikes. This man got into
trouble, and from the fact of his having been once
convicted for trespassing on the lands of one of the
clerical justices, before whom, in company with the
rector of Pinnacles, Sikes had the misfortune to be
summoned, things were very likely to go hardly with
him, had not Mr Fanshawe interceded and intervened.
As it was, the rector's championship only softened the
sentence which was pronounced upon the poacher, and
a term of imprisonment was awarded him, which ad-
mitted of no further mitigation.
" Thank ye kindly for what ye did for me," the man
said to Mr Fanshawe, when the latter visited him
before he was taken to the county jail ; " ye are a
right good man, and if more of the like of you would
mind their parishes instead of sitting on the magis-
trates' bench, and giving the law a bad name
JONATHAN SIKES. 285
through their ignorance, it would be a good thing
" Hush, hush, Sikes ; I cannot allow you to speak
that way," said Mr Fanshawe, who rather plumed
himself upon being a county magistrate and a jus-
tice of the peace.
" No offence, Passon Fanshawe," returned Sikes, — " I
am not for going to include you in ' justices' justice ' ;
but the moment I saw that old Passon Swellington
among the magistrates, I knew I'd get hard mea-
sure, I did, — my only comfort was you and Colonel
Leppell. Ay, the Colonel he do ramp and storm,
but he's more kindly to the people than most of
them as rises from the people."
" You know you have been wrong, Sikes," replied
Mr Fanshawe, " and you deserve your sentence. I
have just called to see if I can do anything for you."
" It's fortunate that poor Bessie's gone, and I have
no childer," the man replied, in a troubled voice ;
" but there is one thing I ask you to do, and that
is, to accept that brood of goslings I have up at old
Ford's farm on the hill. The brood counts eight.
I wants you to give two of the young geese to Ford
for keeping them, and to please accept the rest your-
self, — they will wander, and perhaps die, if they are
not looked after. They are right honest," Sikes
continued, fancying that he saw signs of hesitation
in the rector's face, — "the eggs was honest, and the
birds is honest."
Now the rector's geese had disappeared for some
286 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
time past, mysteriously and by degrees, so that very
few remained of his original stock, and therefore
this offer came in very opportunely. " Are you sure,
Sikes," the rector said, " that you have no small
debts to settle, or that Ford has no right whatever
to the brood in right of keep ? "
" None whatever, sir ; and as for Ford, he'd be
precious glad to get rid of the lot, for there's a
young gander among 'em as goes near to frighten
the life out of the whole family. Splendid bird, sir ;
I never saw the like of him, and I knows a bit about
birds and poultry and game, that I does."
This was true enough, and the rector knew it.
Then assuring himself that Sikes had no debts to
discharge, either large or small, Mr Fanshawe, not to
hurt the feelings of the man, accepted the party of
goslings, promising to see that Ford had his pick of
" But not that gander, sir ; he is too good for the
like of Ford — he's born for a gentleman's domain,
that bird is. You keep him, sir ; he'll be as good as
a watch-dog to you. And one word — a nod is as
good as a wink — there's a precious lot of small
things filched from your premises, and by them as
you thinks well on too ; but I say no more. You let
that gander wander about the Mallow Meadow a
bit, and you'll keep your fowls' eggs and the linen
on your lines a little surer, nights."
So matters were arranged. Sikes and his party
were conveyed in full number to the rector's prem-
JONATHAN SIKES. 287
ises, Mr Ford having stoutly declined to accept the
sisters of the redoubtable gander, and expressing
himself as being thankful to get rid of every feather
of them. " They are magnificent birds, I allow," said
Air Ford in explanation, " but I haven't got suffi-
cient range for them ; and that grey gander, he's a
bull-terrier and a peacock and a roaring lion all in
one, that's about what he is," continued Mr Ford,
as the wounded legs of his children, together with
other aggressions of this bird, rose to his mental re-
view. " You take him, and I wish you and your
family good luck with him." So saying, Mr Ford
turned with a grin to his digging ; and Mr Fan-
shawe, out of remembrance of the donor, named the
gander " Jonathan Sikes," as soon as he could call
him his own property.
Sikes did not belie his character, and as he grew
in strength and experience, he certainly became a
" power " and a " terror," as the parishioners termed
him. But it must be allowed that there were more
eggs gathered in from the outskirts of the house, and
that linen did remain unmolested on the lines, from
the second week of his arrival ; also that either the
grain and potatoes kept in the outermost boiling-
houses for the use of the animals seemed to be supplied
in better weight, or that the pigs did not take kindly
to the meal. These phenomena were inexplicable ;
but one or two in the secret knew that the rector
allowed this ferocious bird to roam at large, very
much as an amateur policeman, to pounce upon those
288 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
who might be lurking about the premises with no
tangible reasons to assign for their presence there ;
and the cheering fact remained, that as soon as Sikes
wandered at will, all depredations upon the rector's
property summarily ceased. ' He was so uncertain
and peculiar a bird, that even his going to roost could
not be safely counted upon. He would retire with
his wives, and enjoy his forty winks with the best of
them ; but let a rustle, or voices, or a footfall be
heard, and Jonathan was up and at them. It had
been averred, also, that he could not be reckoned upon
even at midnight; but this may be a legend unsup-
ported by ocular demonstration, and should be taken
that the gander was popularly supposed to be about
at that witching hour, and so it would be as well to act
with caution, especially as Mr Fanshawe would not
allow him or his relations to be locked up on any
pretence whatsoever. " The only thing," said 'Harold
one day, in allusion to this edict, — " the only thing in
which my father is allowed to have his own way by
Although some benefit undoubtedly accrued to the
Fanshawes in the matter of deliverance from the
small pilferings to which they had been subjected,
still the possession of Sikes was a dangerous privilege,
as he was utterly wanting in discrimination, and more
than once had pursued the wrong individual, and had
run down and trampled upon unoffending childhood,
even those of his own house. Mrs Fanshawe's only
remedy was to inform her offspring, that if they
JONATHAN SIXES. 289
obeyed their parents and walked in such and such
paths, wherein Sikes never intruded, they were safe ;
" but who was going a long round," argued the boys,
" when they could get into the back - yard of the
Court through the Mallow Meadow, and all for that
brute of a gander ? "
"You must make friends with him, and let him
know you; he will soon get accustomed to the
family,'' the rector said, in reply to some deprecat-
ing remarks which had been made concerning this
acquisition. " He never runs at John."
" No," said Frank, " because John gave him a jolly
good wopping with a broom-handle, the day after he
came. He was young and tender then, and John
now and then shakes the broom - handle at him,
just to refresh his memory ; but it's different with
us who were at school, and hardly saw him for a
" He's as hard as iron," volunteered another,
" sticks and stones are nothing to him ; and as for
shouting, why he only hisses one down for any notice
he takes of that. Then the girls, they run like light-
ning when they see him, and he tears after them and
enjoys the fun. I really believe the wretch looks out
"Well," returned the rector, "no petticoat or its
wearer has any business in the Mallow Meadow. I
don't want it to be made a highway ; and girls, — and
even your mother, — if they persist in crossing that
meadow to save a few yards, must take the chance of
'vol. i. t
290 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Sikes. He's as good as a watch-dog, and I won't
have him removed."
" You know he flew at old Mrs Bold the other day,
when she came to call, and she said it was hard to
be obliged to go round the roadway to the front gate,
when she had been accustomed to come in by the
Mallow all her life. She gave Frank a shilling for
looking out, for she would walk back that way."
" Just like a woman," replied the rector, in the
phrase of his sex on finding that the law mas-
culine is not always the law of the Medes and Per-
sians ; " the usual contradictory way of the best of
them. Glad Mrs Bold had to pay for her obstinacy."
Stephen, who was present, laughed, and remarked
that, with the coming visitors, a lively time was
imminent with regard to Sikes. "Does he con-
fine himself strictly to the Mallow Meadow ? " he
" Not he," answered Frank, readily ; " he's here,
there, and everywhere. He got into the kitchen
department the other day, walked up the back-stair,
and cook found him plump in the middle of her bed.
You should have heard how she yelled ! "
" The doors should have been shut," said the rector,
gruffly; and here the subject was dropped for the
The following day brought the visitors, whose num-
ber was increased by a couple of school friends of
Harold Fanshawe. Stephen was not at Pinnacles
Court at the time of their arrival, being engaged in
JONATHAN SIXES. 291
receiving Dr Williams, and making the final arrange-
ments with that gentleman for Mrs Kemble's removal.
In consequence, he had spent the greater part of the
day at the rectory house, or Esperanza, as Percivai La
Touche had named that domicile. Fortunately, Mrs
Kemble had taken a great liking towards the physician,
and had entered most willingly into the suggestion
that she should become his private patient for a
while. It was, however, scarcely satisfactory to
Stephen to be told that, had his aunt been placed
under proper medical supervision at first, her mind
would at this time be in all probability as sound as
his own — that is, the doctor explained, if no undue
excitement had supervened to neutralise the course of
treatment that would have been prescribed. As it
was, Dr Williams expressed strong hopes of being
able to effect a cure ; but at this stage, longer time
and unbroken regularity of treatment were impera-
tively necessary. Other business being concluded, it
was settled that Stephen should, in the course of ten
days, convey his aunt to the private house of Dr
Williams, which was situated at the other end of the
county, and rather off the line of railroad communica-
tion. " It is by no means dull," said the doctor ;
" there are other lady patients who, like yourself, have
need of a little care ; and the lady-companion is very
kind, and plays and sings, and is a capital hand at
All this fell like warmth and comfort on Mrs
Kemble's soul, and the prospect of speedy deliverance
292 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
from the visits of Percival was the full measure of
his aunt's cup of consolation.
" Percival will never have time, and what is more,
he will never pay for the hire of a vehicle for the sake
of coming to see me," said Mrs Kemble, turning with
her painfully knowing look towards her younger
nephew — " that's a blessing. It makes me sing Jubi-
late, indeed it does ; for it is a special work of Provi-
dence the getting rid of Percival without an alterca-
tion or being talked to death."
"You will be busy getting everything ready,"
Stephen said, " and I would advise you to do a little
every day. Now I am going up to the Court to meet
some visitors who are invited to pay a visit there for
a few days. Pretty Mary Leppell is one of them.
She comes sometimes to see you with Miss Fanshawe,
does she not ? "
" Mary Leppell ! Oh, of. course, I remember her —
pretty sweet creature ! She looks so sorrowfully at
me out of her flower-blue eyes ; she's worth a thousand
of that Lillian with all her airs. I don't like that
Lillian — no."
"Miss Fanshawe has gone to Hunter's Lodge to
nurse Lady Asher, or rather to take Miss Leppell's
place in doing so. This allows the young lady to
come here and have some amusement. That is kind
in Miss Fanshawe, at any rate," said Stephen, who
sometimes had wished to have that young lady for a
sister-in-law, in spite of his misgiving that she looked
down upon Percival de haut en has.
JONATHAN SIKES. 293
"Not at all," replied the old lady, tartly. "Miss
Lillian is glad to get away from home on any pretence.
You know her own mother can't endure her."
This was putting the case rather strongly. The
want of sympathy betwixt Mrs Fanshawe and her
elder daughter was sad enough, but it had scarcely
arrived at active dislike ; indeed, had the former
heard Lillian depreciated by any other than herself,
she would have been the first to defend her. What-
ever might be their state of feeling, Lillian, at any
rate, was her daughter, and a Fanshawe. Here, as in
some similar cases, self-esteem would rush in as the
handmaiden of maternal affection. The handmaiden
personates her mistress, and finally usurps her duties
and her place.
Stephen then wended his way to Pinnacles Court,
and found that the new arrivals, after the manner of
very young people, had all swarmed immediately out
into the air, taking every available child of the house
with them ; but he met Mrs Fanshawe, who proposed
that they should go and try to find some one, as
distant voices and laughter proclaimed that human
beings were within hail. They walked together about
the premises and beyond them, but to no purpose ;
and as the rector's wife was anxious to show her guest
some game fowls of which she was very proud, she
turned towards the poultry - yard, and entered the
Mallow Meadow, as a short cut towards the outlying
buildings, where all kinds of stock were kept. Both
she and Stephen were oblivious of Sikes, and it must
294 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
be recorded, to their eternal discredit, that his very
existence was totally ignored by both of them. Now
the whereabouts of that gander was generally a specu-
lation which fixed itself pretty indelibly on the minds
of those who had occasion to enter Mallow Meadow,
and who had not as yet been drilled into the rector's
dictum, that it was quite as pleasant and convenient
to make a d6tour of several hundred yards, and enter
by the stable-gates on the front side of the building,
in order to effect that object.
These ramblers, therefore, walked through the turn-
sole gate, walked and talked, and even stopped now
and then to turn and rhapsodise the view.
What is that sound which suddenly issues from a
corner of the higher part of the sloping meadow, which
bursts on the ear like a prolonged guggling sob ? A
scream follows, and then from behind some low bushes
emerges the redoubtable Sikes — not alone, not dashing
at the life-blood of his victim, but held tightly round
his neck by two strong young hands, which elevate
him to the very extremity of his toes, and which make
him march by the side of the owner of the hands till
he is ready to drop from fatigue, which the weight of
his body on such slender support naturally induces.
He flaps his strong wings, he tugs, he turns half
round ; it is of no use, he has to march, for Miss
Willina Clavering has got him in hand, and he must
pay for rending her dress and stabbing her feet.
Stephen sees the situation, and goes forward to help
JONATHAN SIKES. 295
"Please, be quick and take him," Miss Clavering
called. "My arms are nearly wrenched off. Give
him another turn, please, and then I think he will be
Mr La Touche did so, and marched Mr Sikes up
and down so effectually, that the gander succumbed
both in body and spirit. He made off as soon as re-
leased, and he abjured tall men and women from that
time evermore. Children and timid people he occa-
sionally treated to a volley of hisses, but that was the
outside of his aggression. So the rector lost a police-
man ; Mr Stephen La Touche made the acquaintance
of Miss Clavering, which was friendship at first sight ;
and Miss Clavering was immortalised in the parish of
Pinnacles as " hur as tackled that brute of a gander."
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
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