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Full text of "The fat of the land : a novel"

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-LI B RAHY 

OF THE 
U N IVLRSITY 
OF ILLI NOIS 



THE FAT OF THE LAND 



A NOVEL 



BY 

M A E Y L E S T E E 

(MARIA. SOLTERA) 

AUTHOR OF ' A LADY'S RIDE ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS ' 



IN THREE VOLUMES 
VOL. II. 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MDCCCLXXXVIII 



8 £3 



CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME. 



CHAP. PAGE 

i. l'homme pkopose, ...... 1 

II. A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME, .... 24 

III. THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH, . . . . 45 

IV. PERCIVAL WAVERS, ...... 64 

V. SCIENCE AND CUPID, ..... 88 

VI. A COUNTRY WEDDING, . . . . .109 

VII. THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME, . . .130 

VIII. AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM, . .153 

IX. THE ANGEL OF DEATH, . . . . .180 

X. A FOE'S GIFT IS NO GIFT, AND BRINGS NO PROFIT, 204 

XI. DOMESTIC ECONOMY, ..... 226 

XII. IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS, 245 

XIII. BRYDONE, ....... 274 



THE FAT OF THE LAND. 



CHAPTEE I. 



LHOMME PEOPOSE. 



" How did you manage to get into this field ? " was 
Mrs Fanshawe's first exclamation to her new visitor, 
as Sikes, loudly protesting, and croaking like a bird- 
fiend, scuttled away in the direction of his harem. 
" Miss Clavering — Mr La Touche ; I believe you have 
not met before. You have really had a rough re- 
ception. Did none of them warn you about the 
gander ? " 

" The fault is entirely my own," the young lady 
replied. " I espied some blossoms of the cuckoo-pint 
flower close to the hedge on the other side, and so 
stayed behind the rest to gather them. I found that 
the flowers were farther off than I had thought, so I 
went into the meadow itself, never, of course, expecting 
any attack. As I stooped the creature rushed upon 

VOL. II. A 



2 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

me, inflicting a stab in my foot, and at the same time 
tearing my dress very savagely. As he raised his 
head to make a second onslaught, I seized him by 
the neck, twisted him round, and made him march 
on the extreme tip of his toes as you saw." 

" I wonder you managed to retain your grasp," 
said Mrs Fanshawe. " Sikes is a very powerful 
bird." 

" It was hard on my hand and arm, I assure you, 
and he very nearly wriggled away, but the sight of 
you encouraged me to hold on. Thanks for your 
aid," Miss Clavering added, turning to Stephen ; 
" like the Prussians at Waterloo, you helped materi- 
ally to secure the victory." 

" You caught your enemy at a disadvantage," said 
Stephen, gallantly ignoring his own share in the 
achievement. " Were you, may I ask, carrying out a 
special code of tactics in gander training, or was the 
method you employed with such signal success the 
work of inspiration solely ? " 

" The work of inspiration solely, if you will put it 
in that light," Miss Clavering answered with a gentle 
laugh ; " the motive power within always prompts me 
to grasp my nettle. There is nothing like facing a 
difficulty at the outset ; promptitude is more than half 
the battle." 

" I, for my part, am very much obliged to you," 
said Mrs Fanshawe, — " that is, if Sikes does not pick 
himself up presently, and rush at the next comer with 
renewed malignity." 



L HOMME PROPOSE. 3 

"He seems pretty well cowed now," said Mr La 
Touche, surveying that part of the field whereon the 
gander lay sprawling, and evidently quite exhausted, 
for the time being at any rate. Meanwhile the 
females of Sikes's flock gabbled and wobbled, and 
revelled and exulted at the prostrate condition of 
their tyrant: it was an ungracious thought, but 
Stephen could not help likening the geese to a party 
of women over the reputation of a fallen sister. Here, 
however, the victim was masculine, and so the parallel 
was not exact. In the like situation, as affecting 
human beings, those who rejoice in the downfall of 
the man who is erring are certainly geese — though, as 
a matter of fact, he rarely obtains unqualified femi- 
nine reprobation. 

Wisely keeping his thoughts to himself, Stephen 
turned to the younger lady with the remark, " I 
think you have acted like Earey the horse-tamer : in 
future, there will be no more trouble with Master 
Sikes." 

" Sikes ! what a name for a gander ; " and thereupon 
Miss Clavering was supplied with all information 
respecting the antecedents of this bird, together with 
the reasons why the Fanshawe family had put up with 
him so patiently. " I believe the rector is quite proud 
of him," said Mrs Fanshawe in continuation, " so we 
must hope that his spirit is subdued but not utterly 
quenched." 

" The reputation he has by all accounts acquired will 
stand in good stead," said Miss Clavering; "still, I 




4 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

should be sorry to put Mr Fanshawe out of conceit 
with his friend. I have been quite close enough to 
him to discover that Sikes is a magnificent specimen 
of his kind." 

Here the sweet jocund laughter of early youth 
broke on the air, — the boyish shout, and the ripple of 
young girls' voices, now rising, now falling, and anon 
flooding the calm evening with spring's own melody, — 
freshness and flowering life, ever changeful music, but 
all its notes in tune. 

They call, they whistle, and the sweet carillons of 
united happy voices bring smiles of sympathy to 
those whom these sounds are intended to summon. 
Then some one among them looking through a hedge 
espies the ramblers, and the lost Miss Clavering is 
proclaimed to be safely walking with the Mater and 
Touchy. " Now for it. — who is to ask first ? " says 
Harold Fanshawe. 

" Not I, — it is your place ; no, no, you go on," say 
the boys the one to the other : then at length a bold 
spirit suggests, " Let Mary Leppell ask — she's more 
grown up ; besides, she's a beauty." 

So Mary is pushed to the front, stimulated by the 
moral support of "brick," "trump," "duck," and "dear," 
which terms are liberally applied to that young lady 
on all sides ; and it turns out, as she proclaims her 
" mission," that a game before high tea is in contem- 
plation, which game means a run down the terrace- 
walk bank, and a trial as to who will reach the bottom 
of that all but perpendicular declivity without fall or 



L HOMME PROPOSE. 5 

foot-trip. It appears that majestic -looking Willina 
Clavering, regarding whom some doubts had been ex- 
pressed, would enjoy the fun as much as the youngest 
of them, and off they all go to test their prowess. Mrs 
Fanshawe, meanwhile, is glad of the opportunity, and 
improves it, to return to the house for the purpose of 
seeing that a noble ham, roast-fowls, milk-puddings, 
sweet fresh bread and cake, and good pure ale are all 
to the fore, to be presently served by the handmaidens 
in the noble old hall, which is used as a dining-room 
when the party is large. It is all very country and 
very simple, but Mr and Mrs Fanshawe are not of 
those who entertain grandly for a month in the 
year, and starve and pinch themselves and family 
for the other eleven to make up for the one month's 
feasting. 

A part of the old Court had to be shut up for want 
of means to maintain the large establishment which 
the mansion in its entirety would demand, and Mr 
Fanshawe had determined, like a wise man, that if he 
was to reside in the house of his ancestors, he must 
do so by cutting off every luxury, together with the 
outward style in which these were wont to live. 

" Their friends," the rector had said to his wife and 
children, " must accept the best they could give, and 
if they did not like it, the other course was available, 
and that was to go their ways and leave Pinnacles 
Court behind them." 

The game begins, and the player who can run up 
and down three times faultlessly is adjudged to be 



I 



6 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

king or queen of the following day, and to order all 
the sports and occupations, if it so please him, of 
his playfellows for the space of twelve hours. A 
recusant may get off by paying twopence to the parish 
poor-box ; or the victor not taking his or her privi- 
leges, which in this case are doubtful, contributes 
threepence to the same laudable object. 

The rules being settled and proclaimed, they begin, 
but Stephen La Touche is requested to stand on the 
lawn in the capacity of umpire, it being ascertained 
that he is likely to achieve victory without trouble. 

Francis Clavering of course insists upon giving his 
hand to assist Miss Leppell, but he is repulsed by that 
damsel and informed that his overtures are mean, and 
that he had better mind his own running, for the per- 
formance is not so easy as he seems to think. The 
boys Fanshawe scream with exultation, as, after a 
movement betwixt a skate and a scuttle, Mr Clavering 
comes down a " whopper," sprawls on his back, and 
objurgates. Two boys have flown like arrows from 
summit to base, but having put on too much steam at 
the outset, they arrive on the lawn head over heels, 
and gasp, " Well I never ! there goes one to the bad," 
as they rise disgusted. Sweet little Clarice, who is 
already established as " Touchy's " pet, walks carefully 
sideways, for the grass is slippery as an eel or as glass : 
she pauses, goes back again, tries zigzag, and finally 
gives it up, calling to Stephen to come and take her, 
for she is " deffel frighted." The two friends of Harold 
both take to the sitting position and slide, using their 



L'HOMME propose. 7 

hands as oars ; but this device comes to nought, and 
they are hooted back to the point from whence they 
started. 

Etta Fanshawe manages fairly well, but she does 
not run quite straight, and betrays symptoms of a 
clutch at the grass here and there to steady herself in 
the descent ; still she passes muster. Now comes Miss 
Clavering's turn : holding her body slightly backwards, 
she swims rather than walks, and has arrived on the 
lawn without change of poise in a single graceful and 
firm movement. Evidently the young lady is acquaint- 
ed with the secret of descending an abrupt elevation ; 
and as many of her sex fail most signally in perform- 
ing this feat, and generally look to the worst advantage 
whenever they attempt it, a hint may as well be given 
here as to the mode of progression which is necessary 
to achieve success. It is this simply : keep the feet 
well together, the one foot almost within the other, 
and as close to the ground as possible ; walk in short 
steps in the third position, the body being at the same 
time a little thrown backwards ; above all, move in 
regular time. 

Miss Clavering finds it more difficult to ascend, but 
she manages well, using this time a striding motion in 
zigzag direction. Mary Leppell and Etta degenerate 
into a scramble ; and Mr Clavering, trying " scientific 
dodges," as the boys declare, is nowhere. Harold falls 
prone on his face in one ascent, and it is popularly 
opined that he will never do for the Alpine Club. So 
they come and go, and this with remarks compliment- 



8 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

ary or the reverse, and the peals of laughter, make a 
joyous and innocent scene. 

At last comes Stephen, and he performs his task 
both up and down in accurate style. " He is best, 
and Miss Clavering is next best," was the general 
verdict, the rigour of the game not admitting of any 
palliation on the score of sex. So the young people 
assert to Stephen that he is king, and ask him what he 
means to do with himself and with them. 

"Place aux dames," replied that gentleman, ex- 
plaining at the same time that this was French for 
ladies first ; " the honours of royalty belong to Miss 
Clavering." 

Then of course there was a pleasant little alterca- 
tion as to whom these honours did legally belong to. 
Miss Clavering solved the difficulty. 

" They are yours, Mr La Touche, by all manner of 
right," she said ; " is not your first name Stephen — 
that noble Christian name which means a crown ? " 

" What a beautiful meaning ! " said Mary Leppell ; 
"till now I have thought the name of Stephen — well, 
not pretty; now I shall always like it, — Stephen, a 
crown." 

"You remember the first martyr who wore the 
crown ? " said Willina. " I like the name, — it is associ- 
ated with so much that is noble. Stephen Langton 
helped greatly to give us Magna Charta ; King Stephen 
of Hungary was a crown of goodness ; and our own 
King Stephen was renowned for manly beauty. St 
Stephen also gives his name to many beautiful chapels 



L HOMME PROPOSE. 9 

and gates all the world over ; I could multiply many 
instances besides." 

"Here is a Stephen, who, though unworthy to be 
named with the majority of those whom you have men- 
tioned, still aspires to be your knight, Miss Clavering," 
said young La Touche, his handsome face lighted up 
with a smile which only needed the fire of the " refiner's 
gold " to be declared ethereal, for as yet the physical 
beauty of all the family of La Touche was of the earth 
earthy. " Let me be your knight, and I shall indeed 
reckon myself no longer Stephen, but a crowned king 
indeed ! " 

" Then Crown La Touche, come along," said Francis 
Clavering ; " there's a warning bell, and we are hungry. 
Come, my heavenly Moll," said he, as he handed 
fair Mary towards the steps which led down from 
the garden to a side entrance into the Court. It oc- 
curred to Stephen that Mr Clavering emphasised " my 
heavenly Moll," in a jealous misgiving that he might 
claim the honours of Beauty for "Willina ; but he was 
magnanimous enough to consider that it is but seldom 
brothers can discern the attractions of their own 
sisters, however expert they may be in this particular 
with regard to the sisters of other people. 

"You are prepared to pay that threepence to the 
poor-box ? " called out Harold Fanshawe, who it appears 
was responsible for the collection of the tribute. 

" I pay thankfully," said Stephen, handing the lad 
a shilling "to get rid at once of the dangerous privilege 
of regulating such a party as this, even for half an hour." 



10 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" Here is my contribution," said Willina, as she pre- 
sented the like sum ; " now I think our consciences 
are clear." 

" Well, girls are a blessing sometimes ! " exclaimed 
the eldest hope of the Fanshawes ; " if it had not 
been for you, we should only have got twopence out 
of Mr La Touche, and not a fraction more. Yes or 
no," continued the young gentleman, appealing to 
Stephen. 

However, Mr La Touche seemed disinclined to an- 
swer this question, and Miss Clavering drew herself 
up, the colour of her cheek at the same moment 
rivalling the scarlet curve of her beautiful lips. 
"Have I said too much, or gone too far," thought 
she. The thought pained her, for upwards of twenty 
years ago a Frenchman could not have written of 
the English race that the female courts the male ; 
it is owing to the "progress" at which the year of 
grace eighteen hundred and eighty-eight has arrived, 
that a popular author makes this assertion, and lays 
it down as an axiom which neither admits of chal- 
lenge nor question. 

Meanwhile the conscience of Master Fanshawe 
smote him as having taken a liberty in speaking of 
Miss Clavering as a girl ; the youth felt that she was 
one of nature's queens, and on this conviction he got 
himself out of the way with all convenient speed. 

Then, after making a slight evening toilette, the 
whole party flock into the old hall and stand in rev- 
erence as the rector asks a blessing on the good gifts 



l'homme propose. 11 

bestowed upon them by the Father who careth for us 
all. Now the hospitality and courtesy and all the 
bright flowers of social intercourse burst forth in the 
full tide of happiness, and a red-letter day is after- 
wards chronicled in the modern records of Pinnacles 
Court. 

And Lillian, the unloved daughter of this house, 
how fares she ? Do her thoughts wander, or even 
willingly turn in speculation as to what may be 
going on in a home which, in its usual course, is cer- 
tainly somewhat dull and uninteresting ? Does she 
wonder if this infusion of new blood will widen her 
mother's heart, or strengthen her father to show out- 
wardly those marks of regard which only in private 
he ventures to display towards her ? Will the at- 
tention which she feels sure will be paid by the 
grown men, and even by the boys, to the girls of all 
ages then at Pinnacles, modify the undefined yet 
subtle jealousy with which Mrs Fanshawe ever 
seemed to entertain any distinguishing marks of 
attention shown to herself by strangers male or 
female ? 

Has she hope that any but Mary Leppell will feel 
her absence, or wonder if she would like to be among 
them ? 

No, certainly no, must be answered to all these 
queries. Mrs Fanshawe is thankful that Lillian is 
out of the way, because her pretty second daughter 
quite pales before the calm beauty and high-bred 
manners of the elder born. 



12 THE FAT OF THE LAMD. 

Etta is good - pretty, to coin a word ; but the 
astute mother knows that this kind of attraction 
requires much propinquity, and the stimulus of 
money present or in prospect, to prompt the gen- 
erality of men to make an alliance with a family 
wherein daughters abound, and where the strain of 
making clerical sobriety march with the ways of 
the world is felt in full force. In the present mould 
of society, the daughters of the dignified clergy, at 
least, should be well dowered. 

Truth to say, also, Mr Fanshawe recognises freedom 
in his elder daughter's absence, for his wife is invari- 
ably sharper and more unkind to Lillian in the pres- 
ence of strangers than at any other time. The rector 
feels that he cannot take part with the child without 
coming to an open rupture with her mother ; and the 
boys, following suit with their elders, are persistently 
troublesome to their eldest sister, safe in the convic- 
tion that no word of reproof will fall upon them for 
their turpitude, — they were privileged, as it were, by 
Mrs Fanshawe's habitual injustice towards their sister 
Lillian. Lillian, on her part, is also well satisfied with 
the present state of things. At Hunter's Lodge she 
sees Francis Clavering with more satisfaction, pro- 
bably, than she would have done had they been living 
beneath the same roof. He comes and goes easily 
enough, for there are only eleven miles of train service 
betwixt Yarne and Pinnacles, and the young man is 
naturally very anxious about Lady Asher on Mary's 
account, and makes it his business to run over 



l'homme propose. 13 

to Blythe to inquire for the old lady pretty fre- 
quently. 

The health of Lady Asher at this time neither ad- 
vances nor retrogrades, and she may continue in this 
state for months j Mr Clavering inwardly hopes that 
she may, though he benevolently wishes the old lady 
no harm. The present time is a halycon time for him, 
and he makes good use of it, never heeding nor look- 
ing to the future. 

His cousin, Mr Glascott, also enjoys a walk to Hun- 
ter's Lodge, and becomes wonderfully interested in the 
young lady who so strikingly resembles what Mrs 
Leppell was in her palmy days ; and he lavishes at- 
tentions upon Miss Fanshawe which, in a younger 
man, would have promptly led to the opinion that he 
aspired to a nearer connection than that of a friend. 

The presence of Miss Fanshawe also served to miti- 
gate any awkwardness which Mrs Leppell might pro- 
bably have felt had she been obliged to receive Mr 
Glascott alone. Clara was not yet introduced, and no- 
body belonging to Hunter's Lodge could be found for 
drawing-room purposes when they were wanting; so 
the visitor paved the way for the elderly gentleman to 
drop in whenever he liked. Nothing loth, Mr Glascott 
came in the morning hours, stayed to luncheon, played 
with the babies, and fell, con aniore, into the privileged 
attitude of old friend of the family, — the intervening 
past being summarily bridged over by the magic 
touch of the genius of oblivion. 

Lady Asher was really unconsciously contributing 



14 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

an active share to this pleasant state of things, and it 
must be further allowed that the absence of the mas- 
ter of the house was borne with fortitude. As there 
was no reason to hurry home, Colonel Leppell had 
concluded to prolong his stay in London, whereat the 
adjutant of the Yarneshire Militia, who acted as 
Ralph's locum tenens, was also well pleased. 

Though the cares of a sick-room were the ostensible 
reason of Miss Fanshawe's visit to Hunter's Lodge, it 
more the help that Mrs Leppell obtained from the 
young girl's forethought, and her general adaptation to 
all departments of household management, that made 
her presence so agreeable to her hostess, and thus left 
time to the latter to avail herself of the opportunity 
to take the rest which she so much needed. Adelaide, 
no doubt, was nearly worn out ; she felt it a blessing to 
have one near her who knew all her trials, and who, 
without ever appearing to invite confidence, met it 
half-way, and who, besides, possessed the rare tact of 

t appearing to know the things which were not 
supposed to be known, — and further, that were not 
intended to be known. 

Miss Fanshawe was supremely happy in the know- 
ledge that she was appreciated, and that she was al- 
lowed to be of use : her coldness of manner relaxed, 
ami she spoke the truth when she said that she was 
always happy at Hunter's Lodge. 

Francis Clavering now brought his science and laid 
it at her feet ; and Mr Glascott was ever bestowing 
those tender courtesies which men of his age and of 




L'HOMME PEOPOSE. 15 

the old school were wont to render to youth and 
beauty, because to them youth and beauty were sacred 
things, and were ever accounted as pure in their 
sight, unless the possessor betrayed the trust. 

The modern worship of wealth and contempt for 
simple competence, together with the yearning for the 
vulgarities of soft living and glitter, is daily wrecking 
this high chivalrous creed ; youth, alas ! has its market 
price, and beauty sells itself openly at the highest 
rate at the gates of Mammon. Legal prostitution bids 
fair to become the vice of the age, and the world's 
whole litany to lie in the axiom, " Gardez les conven- 
ances, et puis, Dieu vous gardera." Miserere Domine. 

Meanwhile the days passed by, and all went merrily 
as the proverbial marriage - bell at Pinnacles Court. 
The elder Fanshawes were satisfied with everything ; 
the weather, too, was wonderfully fine for the time of 
year — so much so, that an archery party was projected, 
and it was with great difficulty that the rector had his 
say concerning east wind and the varieties presented 
by the English climate. The party were, however, 
pressed to prolong their visit, much to the satisfaction 
of Mr Stephen La Touche, who had discovered some- 
how that his aunt's affairs required more of his super- 
vision than he had at first imagined. 

Mrs Kemble, with the pertinacity which often char- 
acterises persons similarly afflicted, became much at- 
tached to the kindly handsome girl whom the house 
of Fanshawe was then delighting to honour as Mary 
Leppell's future sister. The poor lady felt that in 



16 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

consequence of the attention paid to her by Willina, 
the inmates of Pinnacles no longer regarded her as a 
dangerous person, but held her to be what she really 
was, — a sweet nervous soul, tormented to frenzy often 
by the stupidity of her own kind, and to whom human 
sympathy, properly directed, must, like the touch of an 
angel's wing, bring reason as well as healing by the 
contact. Thus it fell out that, from having been on 
the whole very miserable at Pinnacles, Mrs Kemble 
became loth to leave it, because it had given her Ste- 
phen back, and brought Willina Clavering to her heart. 

Gladly then did she hail the news that her stay was 
to be prolonged for a week at least ; these two dear 
young people, she said, were to her strength and the 
happiness of life. 

This pleasant state of things was not, on the whole, 
quite satisfactory to Mr Percival La Touche. The 
prolonged absence of his brother seemed strange to 
him, as he did not believe for a moment that the 
alleviation of their aunt's condition could be the sole 
motive for Stephen's visit to the county of Yarne. 
Both he and Marcia were totally unaware that Lillian 
was at the time a guest at Hunter's Lodge ; and jump- 
ing together at the same conclusion, they convinced 
themselves that this young lady was in reality the 
magnet which drew this particular loadstone from its 
sphere, and that the time was come which required 
some elucidation of the proceeding on their part. 

A little contretemps also in the Brighton manage had 
somewhat upset Percival's convictions with regard to 



L HOMME PEOPOSE. 17 

the " liberty " said to be enjoyed by those who look 
upon marriage as a superfluous ceremony ; his head, 
in lieu of his mouth, had become acquainted with the 
contents of a soda-water bottle, and he had been at 
the same time frankly informed, in the most literal 
rendering of the English tongue, that he was lower 
than the beasts, and that his future " habitat " would 
be a fiery one. 

A fear that his personal safety might be threat- 
ened, or even endangered, was, to a moral coward like 
Percival, a most serious apprehension, and in his terror 
and excitement he poured all his woes, without reserva- 
tion, into Aunt Marcia's ear. A remedy by what she 
was pleased to term a " safe marriage " was quickly 
proposed by that lady, who, foreseeing the inevitable, 
determined, if possible, to manage the inevitable in 
her own way. 

" Why not marry Lillian Fanshawe ? " she asked, as 
if impelled by a sudden inspiration ; " she has every- 
thing but money, and you don't want that, happily. 
You need not add to your expenses for a year or two ; 
you could live here, for Laurence is going to pay 
a round of visits, and then he'll be off to India. Be- 
sides, if you do not want to be cut out by Stephen, 
you must act promptly, my dear. Stephen admires 
Miss Fanshawe, and down in the country he has 
nothing else to do but stump about green lanes and 
make love ! His letter of this morning is full of the 
delightful time he is having; you had better go to 
Pinnacles at once." 

VOL. II. B 



18 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

"But T can't present myself there without some 
pretext for so doing," said Percival, ruefully ; " all Aunt 
Arabella's affairs are now in Stephen's hands, con- 
found him ! " 

" You can invent some business matter to account 
for your being in the neighbourhood : it would be a 
compliment to say that you wished to call and see 
Aunt Kemble and the Pinnacles people before the for- 
mer finally leaves that part of the country. Why not 
take a case of wine for Mr Fanshawe as an acknow- 
ledgment of the interest he has taken in Arabella ? 
He really behaved very handsomely in taking the old 
rectory off your father's hands without the customary 
notice — in a moment as it were ; very few people 
would have done that, you know." 

Percival stroked his chin, and without heeding 
the last part of his aunt's exordium, inquired who 
was going to pay for the case of wine. 

" You and your father between you," replied Marcia, 
undauntedly ; "lam sure my brother would not object. 
But I think, coming from you, it would be a nice way 
of opening negotiations, and it would be an attention 
to Mr Fanshawe " 

" And a nice little surprise for him," interrupted 
Percival, with his horrid leer and grin. 

" Well, that is all arranged," said Marcia, thinking 
she was following up an advantage; "and you can 
say that little Anna is still in such an unsatisfactory 
state that we are obliged to have her home, so that it 
will be impossible for me to go to Pinnacles and accom- 



l'homme propose. 19 

pany Aunt Kemble to her new abode. You could say 
that you have offered to represent me, — this will be 
doing the thing in the best style, and fits everything 
in the most natural manner possible." 

Percival agreed that it was a very feasible plan, and 
submitted, without demur, to his aunt's advice ; and 
as the natural amenity of his disposition always caused 
him to gloat over the annoyances of other people, he 
in perspective enjoyed the confusion with which he 
imagined Stephen, and certainly Miss Fanshawe, would 
be overwhelmed when his descent upon Pinnacles 
should take place. 

His former misgivings and hesitation as to the ad- 
visability of the Fanshawe connection having vanished 
under the "pressure of his uncomfortable " domestic 
relations," Percival now worked himself up into the 
conviction that he was desperately enamoured of Miss 
Fanshawe, and that it was imperative that he should 
go down to the country and bring matters to a decided 
understanding, and that without loss of time. His 
brother Stephen to be poaching on his preserves ! 
Perish the thought ! 

So Mr La Touche promptly managed a business 
excuse, opened his heart, moreover, to procure the case 
of wine and pay for it on his own account, and set 
off for the county of Yarne, full of triumphant ex- 
pectation, and expedited by the good wishes of Aunt 
Marcia. 

These last were genuine and sincere. Although it 
might, in some respects, be advantageous to the family 



20 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

to keep Peivival among them, Marcia, with the fear 
before her eyes that the Brighton manage might event- 
ually, through her nephew's means, acquire a legiti- 
mate head, had of late contrived to have always one 
nice girl or another domiciled as a visitor at Hinton 
Square. Pleasant, good-looking women were also 
Frequent casual guests at their quiet dinners, and 
the " small and early " evening parties. Nothing 
had hitherto come of this diplomacy, for Percival's 
inordinate vanity led him to regard himself as 
irresistible, and it was his pleasure to pit (as he flat- 
tered himself) one lady against another in his good 
graces. The consequence of this was, that the nice 
girls, and the eligibles, and the fascinating women, 
: t ed to the camps of the younger brothers, and 
were quite au micux with these young gentlemen, who, 
on their side, were content to be the objects of pass- 
ing and innocent flirtation. 

Marcia then tried " girls with money," but none of 
these would even look at Percival ; and the handsome 
Stephen, having given out that he would not be bought 
ii] > by any woman, was at the time a very forlorn hope 
in Aunt Marcia's sight. 

It was in the midst of these difficulties that Lillian 
Fanshawe paid her first visit to Hinton Square, and 
the general admiration which she commanded drew 
Percival's attention to her for the first time. Till 
then he had merely regarded her as one of the quiver- 
ful of the Bector of Pinnacles, and had perhaps won- 
dered how she and her numerous sisters would be 



l'homme propose. 21 

disposed of in matrimony, — arranging in his own mind 
that Miss Lillian would eventually marry her father's 
curate, and that the Fanshawe interest would ulti- 
mately secure a living for the provision of the pair. 

The visit that Miss Fanshawe paid to Hinton 
Square very soon dispossessed Percival of this idea. 
The quiet self-possession of the young lady, her cool 
tact, and the easy manner in which she fell into the 
style of London society, with its ways and habits, at 
first excited the amazement of Mr La Touche, and 
ended by securing his admiration. 

He delighted to inform his friends that the dis- 
tinguished-looking girl with whom he had been seen 
at the Botanical fetes, or at the Eose Show at the 
Horticultural, was the guest of his family, and was 
leaving them to pay a visit to her aunt Lady 
Hautenbas. 

Judging from some of Percival's remarks, Miss 
Fanshawe drew the inference that both he and his 
family looked, if not with actual contempt, still with 
depreciation upon persons of all grades who live 
entirely in the country ; and it was rather in a spirit 
of defiance that Miss Fanshawe played the town lady 
with much greater aplomb in Hinton Square than 
she was wont to do when in the mansion of Lady 
Hautenbas. 

When Percival La Touche showed himself especially 
purse-proud and insolent, Miss Fanshawe had a quiet 
retaliative way of alluding to the wonderful manner 
in which persons of all degrees made their fortunes 



oo THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

in trade. She spoke of some as " mere mercJucnticles ; " 
and marly sent Marcia into a fit one day by assuming 
bo believe that Percival had begun life as a com- 
mercial traveller. 

"Do you not know," exclaimed Miss La Touche, 
•that Percival is sole heir to Mr Squash, his grand- 
uncle! and when the old man dies my nephew will 
have at least seven thousand a-year, independent of 
his share in the business ? " 

•• Yes, I have heard that often enough," the girl 
replied, looking as unruffled as a snowflake, and 
with a voice quite as icy ; " but you know heirs as 
well as other folks must subsist and possess the 
wherewithal to live. I meant no offence ; indeed I 
think it very honourable to your nephew that he 
should have earned his living with such expectations 
as his." 

" But he never was a commercial traveller, never," 
insisted Marcia, with great emphasis. 

" I don't suppose it much signifies," returned the 
visitor. "Why, Mr Dyson, a man of good, poor 
family, weighed out tea for years in an apron and 
white sleeves in a warehouse in St Paul's Churchyard. 
He was never thought the worse of for so doing. A 
fine handsome man, who is now rich through his own 
common-sense, and who is proud of his antecedents 
in commerce. We have all a high respect for Mr 
Dyson." 

Not knowing how to carry on this incipient war- 
fare, Marcia remained silent. She, however, reported 



L HOMME PROPOSE. 23 

the conversation to Percival, with the intimation that 
it would not do for him to play grand with Miss 
Fanshawe, — " it may do very well with the Dowager of 
Cauldkail and the Slocombes, and even with those 
poor rags of nobility the Ladies Varnishe. The girl 
has an opinion of her own, and can, or thinks she 
can, pick and choose," insisted Marcia. 

A very few months after Miss Fanshawe's visit, 
Percival came into his fortune ; and as London and 
Brighton life had at that time especial charms for 
him, and his father's house was both comfortable and 
convenient, he elected to reside there still, and to let 
the principal part of his property for a term of years. 

His aunt's proposition that he should still make 
Hinton Square his headquarters in the event of his 
marrying, had acted as a powerful stimulant in Mr 
La Touche's intentions towards Miss Fanshawe. An 
undercurrent of jealousy of his brother Stephen also 
became a very decided motive power, and caused him 
to depart for Yarneshire with all convenient speed. 
The possibility that his proposals might be rejected 
by the lady in question or her father, never crossed 
his mind. His wardrobe was packed, the case of 
wine was on the carriage-seat, and Percival went his 
way, Marcia wishing him good speed. Vce victis ! 



24 



CHAPTEE II. 

A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 

The whole of the party at Pinnacles were under the 
cherry-trees, then in full bloom, — for it was one of 
those delightful phases of the English spring, when 
the afternoon sun is genially warm and sheds his 
radiance for a short spell, as if to give an earnest of the 
fair summer which is in his wake, — and a grand dis- 
cussion was going on as to the advisability of there 
and then setting up targets for archery practice. 

Mrs Kemble had been induced to leave her house, 
and to come and sit on the lawn in a cushioned old- 
fashioned chair, which Miss Claverins had drasfsred 
out for the afflicted lady's especial benefit. And there 
she sat, quiet and happy, at times nodding her head 
and smiling at the young people who passed to and 
fro discussing their projects, and severally trying to 
bring the rector round to the opinion that it was just 
the weather for an archery party, and that it was 
so delighful to gather people together in out-door 
amusements, and the like. 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 25 

The rector, however, presented a stubborn and 
opposing element to the machinations of his young 
friends. His Mte noire through life had been east 
wind ; and as he got a good deal of this ingredient, both 
in his physical and domestic relations, he had come to 
air it as his own particular grievance, and to drag it 
forward as an invincible argument against garden- 
parties and fetes of every kind. The very word fSte 
had a light zephyr-like sound which was repulsive to 
his British ears : it brought with it a flavour of sunny, 
warm, and dulcet airs, in which, in the common order- 
ing of things, no Briton had a right to indulge ; it 
smacked of French frivolity and Italian sloth, and the 
enjoyable dolce far niente was a relaxation which he 
never permitted even to the over-worked of brain 
or the sorrowful of heart. Now he must have his 
say about the proposed archery party. 

"You think because it is rather warm for an hour 
now," said Mr Fanshawe to Miss Leppell, " that we are 
beginning a course of fine genial weather. It will 
snow to-morrow, most likely, and perhaps rain the day 
after. Yes, the cherry-trees look splendid now, but 
every blossom will be cut off in a week. I don't 
believe we will have a cherry this year, and I am sure 
the wind will bear round to the east as soon as the 
sun goes down." 

Mary, who from long experience knew the value 
of the rector's weather-forecasts, returned no remark 
concerning the elements, but asked humbly if they 
might be allowed to have an inspection in the barn on 



2G THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

the morrow. " You have got a lot of targets there, Mr 
Fanshawe," she said, " and the boys might dust them 
and mend them up. We have always to do a good 
deal of this kind of thing at Hunter's Lodge before the 
targets are ready for company ; might we not just look 
through the — the stock, and see what materials are 
available? You are so well off for stands and other 
things that, I think, you could well set up targets for 
three sets of archers without any expense. I can mend 
and paint and stuff a target with any one." 

The rector was on the brink of refusal. But who 
can resist the pleadings of a sweet young face, and 
that accompanied by the courteous deference of the 
young girl to the elderly man ? Had Mary been 
end with the sharp "bounce" of the girl of the 

period, which is so fatal to beauty, and so offensive in 
itself, not an arrow would have been shot for months 
on Pinnacles lawn. 

" Well, yes, there's no harm in looking through the 
archery gear," the rector replied ; " and you Leppell 
girls seem to know how to do all work that's not needle 
and thread. I've seen you stuff a target, Miss Moll. 
You shall have the key of the barn to-morrow ; there 
are some good arrows, never used, somewhere — I'll 
rout them out — but we won't talk of an archery-party 
till we see it ; — too early in the season, — east wind." 

" Oh yes ; and we will want to practise a little for a 
few days," returned this young diplomatist; "and I 
must teach Mr Clavering a little : he has no notion 
of these out-of-door sports — not even cricket." 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 27 

"A mistake, my dear Moll, — every Englishman 
should play cricket ; " and then the rector walked away 
and invited Mrs Kemble to pace up and down in the 
sun. " Sitting in that chair would only cramp her 
limbs," he said ; and offering her his arm, they went 
here and there, and Mrs Kemble was so happy, and 
discussed so easily, that the good man became con- 
vinced that another mistake had been committed of a 
far graver import. Mrs Kemble had been allowed to 
remain too much alone, and had not been treated with 
sufficient kindness. This was the truth concerning 
the whole matter. 

There was just the sharp dart through the air and an 
occasional uprising of the wind as the afternoon fell 
into evening, which confirmed Mr Eanshawe's prog- 
nostications, and during the next half-hour complaints 
of " chill " were unwillingly extorted from the most 
juvenile lips — so transient is the early spring-time in 
mid England. 

Presently a pile of home-made cake and flagons of 
good mulled elder wine (prepared in the orthodox 
silver saucepan of our ancestresses) made its appear- 
ance on the lawn, and inspired no doubt by its in- 
fluence, a game of " Bank," as this pastime was now 
called, was universally proposed wherewith to con- 
clude the pleasures of the out-of-door day. 

Just as all had been arranged for a start, the 
deep -toned bell of the hall -door rung a fretful, 
nervous peal, which seemed to tell of itself that 
the visitor was either of an irritable temperament, or 



28 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

that time was pressing and demanded immediate 
attention. 

" I hope it is no one come to call," exclaimed Mrs 
Fanshawe, with the hospitable candour of the British 
matron when she is unwilling to be disturbed in her 
avocations. 

"It's the Wigginses," volunteered Master Horace. 
" They have heard we have got visitors, and wish to 
give us an opportunity of asking them to join us." 

"Hold your tongue, sir," said the rector; "what 
business have you to speak of any parishioner in that 
manner ? Go round and see who it is. Don't show 
yourself. It may be Mr Sproggles on business, — I 
rather expect him." 

Harold hied away, and from some invisible coign of 
vantage he espied a small gentleman clanging at the 
front door, — " at least I think he is small," this ob- 
server remarked, on his return to report what he had 
seen ; " but I could only make out his left leg, and 
half of one of his shoulders, for lie turns to the thirty- 
two points of the compass in a moment, I do believe : 
any way, lie fidgets as if he had an early bee about him." 

" Show whoever the visitor is into the drawing- 
room, and be sure and say that the family are all out 
in the garden," said Miss Etta, who had pelted after 
the parlour-maid as the latter was well on her way 
to answer the summons of the bell. This caused 
her young mistress some difficulty in getting out 
of sight before the visitor was admitted within the 
house. 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 29 

There was some little bustle as a portmanteau and 
a large wooden case were brought in from the vehicle 
and deposited in the porch. " The case will remain 
here, and the portmanteau can be sent down to 
' Esperanza ' presently, — I shall sleep there," declared 
a voice which Etta fancied she recognised, though at 
the moment she could not recall to whom it belonged. 
" I hope the family are all well." 

"Please to walk in, sir," replied the maid, who, 
recognising Percival, and flurried by the way in which 
he had installed his baggage, neglected to answer Mr 
La Touche's inquiry most completely. Ushering him 
into the drawing-room, she closed the door of that 
apartment with a bang in order to apprise Etta that 
she might issue forth in safety. 

Dismay was legibly depicted on the face of the 
domestic as, after securing the new arrival, she con- 
fronted that damsel. " Mr Percival La Touche, Miss," 
said she in a stage whisper ; " what can have brought 
him here ? and his Haunt setting in the garden, so 
sensible like ! I had not better tell your Mar before 
Mrs Kemble," continued the girl wisely ; " the old 
lady can't abear Mr Percival, and it might frighten 
her, his coming so promiscuous like." 

" You are right," said Etta ; " go to Mr Fanshawe 
and tell him that a gentleman is in the drawing-room 
who wishes to see him, but don't say anything to Mr 
Stephen, unless he is quite out of Mrs Kemble's 
hearing. If Mr Stephen is quite away from his aunt, 
tell him that his brother is here." 



30 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

.Air Fanshawe had deposited Mrs Kemble in her 
chair after their little promenade, and persuaded her 
to take a -lass of the mulled elder wine ; after present- 
ing this beverage he turned to walk into the house. 

To him the waiting -maid, who announced that a 
gentleman on business was waiting to see him in the 
drawing-room. " Ah, as I thought, Mr Sproggles; " and 
the rector, without waiting to hear the visitor's name, 
went into the house at a rapid rate. Ehoda, seeing 
that Stephen was standing before his aunt, went no 
further, but followed her master into the hall with the 
vain intention of communicating the visitor's name. 
The door of the room closed on Mr Fanshawe before 
he could be caught, and it was therefore with much 
sur] ' hat the rector had the honour of receiving 
Mr Percival La Touche. 

" I have some business at Bath/' Percival said, in 
explanation of his sudden visit ; " and as I have a 
little time to spare, I have devoted it to calling here, 
and also to take leave of my aunt before she finally 
leaves this part of the world. Although my brother is 
staying with her, I dare say I can be accommodated 
for one night at * Esperanza.' " 

The rector's answer was to invite Mr La Touche 
into the garden, wherein, he told his visitor, all his 
family and some guests then were, including Mrs 
Kemble, who, Mr Fanshawe said, seemed not only 
more composed, but also much more cheerful and 
talkative than formerly. This improvement he at- 
tributed to Mr Stephen's visit. 



A HEAETY COUNTRY WELCOME. 31 

" No doubt — very likely/' returned Percival, with a 
sarcastic intonation of voice ; " he's been away for 
some time, and variety is charming. My brother 
Stephen quite serves to illustrate this axiom." 

The rector did not know why, but he did not rel- 
ish the tone in which Percival spoke : whether the 
" variety " mentioned consisted in the visit to Pin- 
nacles, or to the enjoyment of Mrs Kemble's society 
solely, on Stephen's part, he could not quite under- 
stand, and therefore he took the discreet way of 
solving a difficulty by answering with the neutral, 
" Hum, haw ; we all like a change." 

Though of a quiet and undemonstrative tempera- 
ment, Mr Panshawe was by no means so devoid of 
penetration as many persons elected to believe. He 
had ever regarded the elder Mr La Touche as a kindly 
selfish old humbug, who made the best of both worlds, 
and Marcia as a thorough worldling, whose backslidings 
were in a great measure redeemed by her warmth of 
heart, and the undoubted sincerity with which she de- 
voted herself to her brother's family. Mr Fanshawe 
also entertained a shrewd suspicion that the world in 
general had Marcia to thank for the many whims 
and absurdities which distinguished the eldest scion 
of the house of La Touche. She had uniformly pam- 
pered his appetite to keep him in good humour, and 
had set him up on a pinnacle and glorified him 
mightily, in deference at first to his expectations, and 
more lately in deference to his position and actual 
possessions, and often at the expense of his own 



32 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

kith and kin. All this Mr Fanshawe had noted 
on the occasions whereon Mrs Kemble's business had 
brought him in contact with the La Touche family ; 
and now that the young people were interchanging 
visits, the rector convinced himself that his early im- 
pressions of Mrs Kemble's relatives were thoroughly 
correct. 

Though of a mean higglety nature, which he certain- 
ly did not inherit from his parents, Percival was not 
altogether a person to be overlooked, much less to be 
lightly esteemed. He was well educated, and he also 
took much interest in many of the scientific enter- 
prises of the day ; and when he could divest himself of 
the notion that the man entertained some design upon 
\n> anmercial influence, and that the woman held 
snares for entrapping him into matrimony, no one 
could be more agreeable or diverting than Percival La 
Touche. He added to a certain graphic method of 
imparting information, a vein of sarcasm which was 
amusing in its way, although it never attained to the 
confines of wit. 

The misfortune was that, in common with many 
underbred persons, Percival never knew where to 
stop ; and his utter want of sympathy for others 
often led him to indulge in personalities which always 
gave great offence, and very often gave great pain. 
He imagined, in his presumption, that to indulge in 
personalities was a sure evidence of his own insight 
into the character of those with whom he chanced to 
come in contact. 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 33 

Here it was, if the expression may be permitted, 
that Mr La Touche broke down. What sense was 
there in especially alluding to courts-martial when 
in conversation with an officer who, at one time of 
his career, had suffered the annoyance of being cen- 
sured by one of these tribunals ? Why remind Mr 
Gravey that his mother had been Dr Gravey's cook ? 
What object was served by informing the Protestant 
bishop of Soapisande that Eoman Catholicism was 
steadily on the increase, when he knew full well that 
the prelate's only daughter and her husband had 
joined the Catholic Church, and attributed this step 
to the teaching and preaching of the right reverend 
ecclesiastic then dining at the same table ? 

These and the like solecisms Percival frequently 
and knowingly committed ; and as they were in some 
cases indulgently passed over from the firm belief of 
the affronted ones that the man was " cracked," and in 
the greater majority from the latitude which the world, 
in its worship of wealth, ever allows to the possessor 
of its honours and its gold, this glaring offender 
escaped scot-free in situations wherein an impecunious 
man would have encountered a withering glance, if 
not a sharp rebuke. He certainly could steal society's 
horse when another man dared not venture to look 
over the hedge at that animal. 

Mr Fanshawe had delayed some moments in con- 
ducting Percival into the garden, — for the latter, with 
a mysterious sign, had beckoned his host towards the 
hall porch as they left the room. Drawing himself 

VOL. II. c 



34 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

up before the case of wine, he said, " It's the very best 
I could get — real Marsala ; and I have put in a couple 
of bottles of brandy and four of whisky, all good 
brands — drop of comfort, you know ; cold nights now 
and then, even " 

" You had better place this at the discretion of Dr 
Williams," Mr Fanshawe said, mistaking the destina- 
tion of the case. " It's very good of you, and very 
right to add to Mrs Kemble's comforts ; but I fancy, 
at present at least, that the rules of the asylum would 
not allow such items as wine and spirits to be entirely 
at the command of the patient." 

" Oh ! it's not for Mrs Kemble," replied Percival, 
hastily ; " such luxuries must come out of the board 
she'll have to pay. It's for you, Mr Fanshawe — little 
remembrance — gratitude for taking the house off our 
hands " 

" Very kind of your father," said the rector ; " will 
you " 

" But it's not from the governor," interrupted 
Percival, with a triumphant cackle ; " it's from me. 
You see I know how to do the handsome thing. No 
thanks — I take those as said; all I want you to do 
is to be particular about returning the case. Send 
it as a ' returned empty,' and the carriage will be but 
a trifle ; be sure and address it to me. It is a private 
package, with which the firm has nothing to do." 

Mr Fanshawe felt inclined to kick the case into 
space, and the donor of its contents for company ; but 
he swallowed his indignation in the conviction that 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 35 

Percival meant well by the offering, and that he really 
knew no better how to present it. So he accepted the 
wine very much in the manner of a chief who receives 
tribute in kind, and undertook to return the " empty " 
according to directions. " Now come into the garden," 
he urged, as he was beginning to feel that he had 
enough of Percival; "the young people are at high 
jinks, and you may like to join them. As your brother 
has not come into the house, he very probably expects 
you on the lawn." 

Percival seized his umbrella; this article was as 
necessary to him as a broomstick to a witch. His 
brothers declared that he slept with it; and there 
was another legend current in Hinton Square that a 
Frenchman in Vienna, discerning Percival as a spot 
upon the far horizon, had unhesitatingly pronounced 
his nationality : " Ah, voila ! c'est un veritable An- 
glais ; il n'a pas oublie son parapluie." 

Arming himself therewith, Mr La Touche followed 
his host through the hall, and up the flight of low 
broad steps which led out upon the lawn and terrace 
walk, and so into the open air. 

The disposition of the group had somewhat altered, 
as twilight had begun to sober the sky, and the game 
of " bank " could be put off no longer. The young 
people were, therefore, collected at the foot of the 
terrace walk, and Mrs Fanshawe had vanished to 
superintend some domestic arrangements. A few of 
the nursery children were running here and there, but 
Mrs Kemble was alone, looking with great interest 



36 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

from her cushioned chair upon the game which was 
going on directly in front of her seat. 

So absorbed was she that she did not perceive 
Mr Fanshawe and his companion until they were 
within a few feet of her. The kindly smile on the 
rector's face literally froze there, as Mrs Kemble, upon 
recognising them, rushed with a bound upon Percival, 
threatening him with instant death, and, in addition, 
using such language as is popularly supposed to be 
the sole property of the lowest order of people. This 
was interspersed with cries and shrieks, and naturally 
these last more particularly attracted the players from 
their game. 

" You wretch ! you villain ! " called out Mrs Kemble, 
as, after exhausting her strong appellatives, she fell 
back upon a milder vernacular ; "just as I am getting 
happy and sane — quite sane — you come back to tor- 
ment me. But you can't frighten me any more ; you 
can't shake your fists and make me say what you 
please — oh, no ! Heigh cock-a-lorum ! Stephen is 
going to protect me, and somebody else — ah, a pretty 
girl ! Dr Williams is going to marry me — his mother 
does not know he is out; but I must wring your 
neck, my dear, before that. 

" ' Froggy would a-wooing go, 
Heigho ! says Rowley.' 

But I must have a clutch at Froggy " — and she again 
darted towards her nephew, with the evident deter- 
mination to inflict some injury upon that gentleman. 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 37 

He meanwhile, pale as death, stood his ground, 
using the umbrella as a weapon of defence, — now 
twirling it round with great rapidity, and again 
pointing it in full front of his relative, thus keeping 
her at bay, whilst she danced round him in a wild 
maze which was truly horrifying. It certainly was 
marvellous how Percival managed to foil his assail- 
ant at all points, with the intervention solely of so 
slight a defence ; and it is probable that the steadi- 
ness with which he fixed his eyes upon Mrs Kemble's 
face, and maintained his gaze without swerve or 
shrink, was the means whereby she was at length 
reduced to exhaustion, if not to quietude, in three 
minutes of time. 

It was a sad scene : the rector writhed under the 
knowledge of an open scandal committed in his very 
presence. Stephen could have knocked his brother 
down for his wanton intrusion : he would rather have 
cut off his right hand than Miss Clavering should 
have witnessed such an exposure. It must be patent 
to all that the affliction of his aunt was somewhat 
more than an indisposition that is passed off as a 
" nervous " or " peculiar " affection. The girls fled in 
all directions ; it was only Emma Fanshawe who 
preserved a stolid bearing, and stood open-mouthed, 
witnessing the gyrations of the umbrella in a mix- 
ture of wonder and interest, which on a less trying 
occasion would have been ludicrous in the extreme. 

A sensation of relief was experienced by all when 
the poor lady, exhausted by her exertions, came to 



38 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

a sudden stand-still, and exclaimed, " I am tired out ; 
but I will catch that villain another time, when I am 
in the vicinity of a poker, my dears— nice handy 
weapon ! No more Heigh cock-a-lorum to-day ; I 
am tired out now. Oh where, where is Miss Cla- 
vering? I know she won't desert me. Do come, 
Miss Clavering ! " 

The last words were spoken in a tone which was 
almost inaudible, and Willina was just in time to 
support Mrs Kemble as she stumbled forward, faint 
and rigid, into her strong young arms. Delicacy, 
rather than fear, had kept Willina somewhat aloof: 
her time for action was now come, and she com- 
menced operations by warning Percival off the prem- 
ises. 

" You had better keep out of sight, had you not ? " 
she said in a suggestive tone to this young gentleman ; 
" it would be so dreadful if Mrs Kemble were to re- 
cognise you when she comes round. Pray, keep out of 
sight ; and Emma, like a good girl, run and get some 
wine and water." 

Percival mechanically did as he was requested, feel- 
ing somehow a strange pleasure in obeying the behest 
of this fair stranger. As he moved aside, he could not 
help looking with admiration upon the graceful form 
and earnest speaking eyes of the girl, — eyes which by 
their expression seemed to appeal to his common-sense, 
and at the same time to exonerate him from the im- 
putation that he might be responsible for this sudden 
outbreak. There was too, he thought, something of 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 39 

compassion in her glance. Certainly a more embar- 
rassing situation could scarcely be imagined, and it 
was a consolation in its way to perceive that there 
was one person among the number present who un- 
derstood the position, and who could, moreover, sym- 
pathise with the annoyance with which it was fraught. 

The rector had vanished : his mission was to find his 
wife, and consult with her what was best to be done. 
The outcome of the consultation was the appearance 
of an old bath-chair in which invalids at Pinnacles 
were wont to be dragged short distances when their 
locomotive powers were out of order, or temporarily 
suspended through illness or some of the accidents to 
which our earthly tabernacle is heir. 

" Don't let her into the house," Mrs Fanshawe had 
insisted rather than implored — " you never know 
where these attacks may end. As it is, our party is 
very much disturbed. Mary Leppell is frightened 
out of her senses, and Mr Clavering must needs take 
to swearing by way of relieving his feelings : you 
see it would never do. Besides, Mrs Kemble has got 
her two nephews." 

" There's the difficulty," answered Mr Fanshawe ; 
" it will never do to let Percival La Touche sleep 
at the old rectory as he proposed and intended, nor 
even to go near it — she'd murder the fellow ; and all 
our rooms are full. But I don't like sending the poor 
soul back to her house without some lady to look after 
her ; indeed we ought to have her within, if only to lie 
down on the sofa in my study." 



40 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" There's the bath-chair," answered the lady ; " when 
she is better Stephen can get her into that, and Horace 
can push at the back. I suppose I must go and see 
her into bed," continued Mrs Fanshawe, ungraciously ; 
" Etta and Emma are both too nervous ; besides, we 
have no right to frighten young girls. Well, get out 
the bath-chair, and I will see what can be done ; 
perhaps Stokes is clean, — if so, I'll send her." 

Now Stokes was the girl in the kitchen, not a 
kitchen-maid proper, and had fate sent Stokes in 
attendance upon Mrs Kemble, the chances were that, 
betwixt ignorance and fear, Mrs Fanshawe might have 
had the management of two " peculiars " on her hands 
that night. 

" T wish Lillian were here," suggested the rector, 
with some slight misgiving as to how the remark 
would be received ; " at any rate she would have ac- 
companied Mrs Kemble at once, and smoothed all 
difficulties with the guests." 

" Mrs Kemble doesn't like her," said the rector's 
wife shortly ; " will you go and get the bath-chair ? 
I suppose I had better go out and see how matters 
are going on : dear, dear, it's very inconvenient 
having people subject to attacks ! Of course the 
nephews will communicate with Dr Williams at 
once ; as to Percival, I can put him up in the spare 
attic." 

The rector sped his way to the coach-house wherein 
the vehicle was laid up, if not in lavender, yet dry 
and serviceable amid straw and hay. Mrs Fanshawe 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 41 

appeared on the lawn, and, summoning Stephen, laid 
out the plan of action that was to be pursued. 

" Your brother must stay here," said she, " and must 
on no account be seen near the old rectory. It would 
be advisable to persuade Mrs Kemble to keep within 
doors, or at least not to go beyond her garden till she 
leaves the place. The bath-chair will be here directly. 
Put her into it, Horace will help you to propel it, 
and I will come with you to see your aunt safely into 
the house, and into her bed. You had better stay 
with her till she goes to sleep ; then the woman at 
the house can look to her, and you can come 
here as fast as you can. Mr Percival will ex- 
cuse an upper chamber here for to-night under the 
circumstances. 

" Here is the bath-chair, — put the cushion into it, 
Horace. Are you better ? don't you think you would 
like to go home, and get into bed ? " continued Mrs 
Fanshawe, turning round suddenly, and addressing 
herself to the patient. 

" Yes, oh, I'm very well — rather tired, perhaps, but 
thank you for a very pleasant afternoon," Mrs Kemble 
answered feebly. " Stephen will take me home. I 
am to go in that thing, am I ?" she continued, looking 
doubtfully at the vehicle. " Miss Clavering, you are 
there ; give me your arm, my dear. That little villain 
has gone, has he ? " 

" Quite gone," replied poor Stephen, who, good fellow 
as he was, felt rather rueful at the part Mrs Fan- 
shawe had assigned to him. He, however, accepted 



42 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

his responsibility without remark ; but he made a 
mental determination, and that was, that the woman 
at the house should attend to his aunt, and that he 
would return to the Court as quickly as he decently 
could. He was not going to allow Percival to make 
all the running, which, as Miss Fanshawe was absent, 
he felt his brother would attempt to do in the direction 
of Miss Clavering. He was not blind, and he thought 
he had perceived some very furtive and enamoured 
glances already cast by that relative in the direction 
of the lady. 

Considering the circumstances, and the shortness 
of time, it must be confessed that both the La 
Touche brothers had improved their opportunities 
wi 1 celerity which was quite electric • in its 

working. 

Mrs Kemble was with some little difficulty inveigled 
into the bath-chair ; a misgiving had seized her poor 
weak brain that this was a prison on a small scale 
in which she was to be for ever shut up : it was only 
on the promise that Miss Clavering would stay with 
her, and hold her hand till she should be disgorged 
from the vehicle, that she could be persuaded to enter 
it. The presence of Mrs Fanshawe was in conse- 
quence an absolute necessity, and it looked well for 
her humanity as well as for her sense of propriety 
that she accompanied the cortege, and remained with 
Mrs Kemble until she could be safely left to the 
attendant's care. As a supplementary precaution, the 
gardener's boy was enjoined to remain in the house, 



A HEARTY COUNTRY WELCOME. 43 

to be ready to run up to the Court, should the neces- 
sity for further help arise. This would be hardly 
necessary, for Mrs Kemble, as soon as she was laid 
in her bed, fell into the heavy sleep of utter ex- 
haustion. 

The convoy returned to the Court, together with 
the bath-chair, into which the young gentlemen in- 
sisted on placing Mrs Fanshawe. Everything was 
necessarily late, owing to the contretemps of the 
afternoon. The supplementary dishes of the evening 
meal were spoiled, and the rector, if he did not actu- 
ally refuse conversation, was snappish and out of sorts. 
Xobody would play or sing; in fact, everything ap- 
peared jangled and out of tune. Percival seemed to be 
the only person who was thoroughly unconcerned and 
at ease ; and his brother, who knew him well, felt con- 
vinced that he was privately exulting over the embar- 
rassment which his unwelcome advent had occasioned, 
and that he would make a fine story of the affair, 
even though it told against himself, when he should 
return to Hinton Square. Mrs Fanshawe, for once in 
her life, wished that her elder daughter had been at 
home ; for Etta was too shy to cope with Mr La 
Touche, and Mr Clavering seemed to take care that 
Mary Leppell should have nothing to do with that 
gentleman. In consequence, Miss Clavering exerted 
herself to alleviate the annoyance which she felt sure 
Mr La Touche must feel, in spite of his apparent 
indifference ; and this provoked Stephen into abandon- 
ing the young lady to her decided preference, as he 



44 THE FAT OF THE LAND 

was pleased in his own mind to regard her well- 
meaning offices. 

It was therefore with the most cordial sincerity that 
the members of this party, at ten o'clock, wished the 
one the other " Good night." 



45 



CHAPTER III. 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 



The apartment which had been assigned to the use of 
Mr La Touche was veritably an upper chamber, lighted 
by a large dormer-window, and of the shape of a highly 
irregular triangle, the apex of which dashed laterally 
into a corner, and terminated in a commodious dres- 



sing-room. 



This room was formed partly by the stone-work of 
the outer wall, but the inner partition was of wood. 
It was evident that a similar construction existed on 
the other side, and that this was the junction of one 
of the corners of the slanting roof. 

Percival, true to his habits of caution and precaution, 
engendered perhaps by his experience of insular and 
Continental travel, bolted the door; and then, taking 
up the candlestick, he surveyed the apartment with 
rather more of scrutiny than is usually employed in 
a private house. 

His horror of catching cold always prompted him 
to examine the bedding provided for his use, wherever 




46 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

he might be. He would have done so even in 
Buckingham Palace. So he thumped the mattresses 
and smelt at the sheets, and snuffed for damp with 
all the apprehension of a valetudinarian of ninety 
years. 

This inspection being concluded, he proceeded to 
the dressing-room and took a look around therein. 
It presented the usual appearance of a boarded-off 
compartment, made serviceable for a second person 
who might chance to share the sleeping accommoda- 
tion of the principal room. A chair, a full toilet 
apparatus of homely kind, and some hanging-hooks, 
composed the furniture of this sanctum, from which 
Percival withdrew in haste, feeling as he imagined a 
cold draught : he, however, left the door partially 
unclosed in his retreat. 

The inspection proving satisfactory, the visitor set 
down the light and plunged into the depths of one of 
those easy-chairs with high circular back and stuffed 
\l elbow-rests, covered with white dimity and generously 
flounced below, which are yet to be found in the bed- 
rooms of old-fashioned houses. 

How comfortable, how homely these are ! Percival 
was right in his assumption that this piece of furni- 
ture had formerly been the house-mother's haven of 
refuge in the early days of her weakness, subsequent 
to the advent of the several scions of the house of 
Fanshawe. 

It had fulfilled its duty in that state of life into 
which it had been at first called, and was now destined 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 47 

to end its career in the higher regions of the house, 
and impart an air of respectability and finish to the 
room which was dedicated to male chance visitors 
from without, and to casual invalids of that sex from 
within. 

Percival, from this coign of vantage, now mentally 
surveyed his position ; and as he had arrived at his 
destination with the full intention of proposing for 
one lady, and had in her absence become desperately 
enamoured of another, his mind was naturally in 
rather a perplexed condition. 

The possibility of his being rejected by either of 
these ladies never crossed his imagination : his present 
dilemma was how he could best attract and secure 
Miss Clavering's regard, and yet not appear to desert 
Miss Fanshawe. 

The absence of the latter appeared to be a most 
fortuitous circumstance, as things turned out; but 
this did not prevent his coming to Pinnacles being 
rather a marked thing to do, for which anxiety con- 
cerning Mrs Kemble's removal was hardly a sufficient 
pretence. All authority on that affair had been dele- 
gated to Stephen, and the Eanshawes collectively must 
be fully aware of the fact. 

True, he had alleged, with his usual habit of self- 
defence, that business in a neighbouring county was 
the cause of his making a detour in the direction of 
Yarneshire, added to his desire to take leave of the 
family at Pinnacles. Now that Mrs Kemble was to 
be finally removed, it was a chance, said Percival to 



48 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Mr Fanshawe, whether he should visit that part of 
the country for some time to come. 

Mr Fanshawe probably believed all this. His wife 
had her doubts, possibly also her fears ; but Percival 
felt sure that his brother attached very little credence 
to this assertion. 

There was one thing, however, of which Percival 
was positively certain, and that was, that metal more 
attractive than poor Aunt Arabella induced Stephen 
to prolong his stay in Yarneshire ; and with the ela- 
tion of a little mind, he grinned and exulted at what 
he considered to be his own astuteness in at once 
discovering his brother's secret. 

Percival further reflected that, as he had brought 
himself into its neighbourhood, he must call at 
Hunter's Lodge. This he had certainly intended to 
do, as a visit of congratulation on the part of himself 
and his family on the approaching marriage of Miss 
Leppell. 

This projected event had been formally announced 
to Marcia, so all was plain sailing in that direction. 

Further, to give a fair colour to his previous asser- 
tions, this diplomatist had informed Mary Leppell 
that he contemplated doing himself the honour of 
calling upon her parents, either immediately or upon 
his return from his business tour. 

The young lady, thinking to do Lillian a good turn, 
and with an excellent opinion of her own powers of 
manoeuvring, enjoined Mr La Touche to go to Hunter's 
Lodge forthwith. 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 49 

" Papa is in London," she said, simply, " and he 
hates visitors ; so you had better take an early train 
and sjo over and lunch there to-morrow. Mamma 
and Clara will be glad to see you ; and, you know, 
Lillian is filling my place at home, now that grand- 
mamma is so ill. Would you mind taking a note and 
a tiny parcel for me if you go ? " 

Percival undertook the commission ; and as no in- 
vitation to prolong his stay over the night had been 
tendered by Mrs Fanshawe, and the antagonistic atti- 
tude of Mrs Kemble rendering it unsafe for him to 
take even refreshment at the old rectory, he decided 
to depart on the morrow, stay at the Ked Lion at 
Yarne for the next night, and so proceed on his tour. 

All this was very nicely arranged for getting rid of 
Miss Fanshawe; but on reviewing his programme, 
Percival became aware that it in nowise furthered 
his prospects of improving his acquaintance with Miss 
Clavering. 

The idea that his brother might prove a serious 
obstacle to the success of his plans, Percival rejected 
almost as soon as it occurred to him ; but he was in 
difficulty as to how Miss Clavering was to be culti- 
vated. He solved the enigma in this way : Mr Glas- 
cott and Miss Clavering were coming to London on 
their journey to Brydone. He would make Marcia 
call upon the lady, and invite her to stay a few days 
in Hinton Square. 

Then he fell to thinking how advantageous from all 
points of view a match with Miss Clavering would be 

VOL. II. D 



50 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

for himself. No sisters ; no herd of unmarried females 
for him to entertain or chaperon about — an only 
brother, and that brother affianced to a lady who, if 
not a fortune, possessed that high connection which 
commands many of the advantages which fortune 
brings. Again, Miss Clavering had a little of her 
own, and it was but fair to assume that she would 
be handsomely dowered by her relative and guardian 
whenever she might marry. 

So, putting aside the personal attractions of the 
lady, Percival found out at last that there was one 
woman in the world who was thoroughly eligible to 
occupy the position of his wife. But what of Lillian 
Fanshawe ? 

Well, she might be disappointed, but that need not 
matter: he had never committed himself in that 
direction. A few petite soins here and there were all 
the latitude he had ever allowed himself, and these 
petite soins meant nothing, as all the world knew. 

Lillian, Mr La Touche assured himself — and rightly 
— was not of the stuff to cry or mourn over spilt 
milk. Her good looks would always ensure her a 
mate if she cared to marry ; and, after all, Marcia 
might ferret up some city man with money who might 
like the Fanshawe connection, and thus matters would 
square themselves and no harm be done. 

The course of these ruminations was arrested by 
a shimmer of light which Percival descried upon the 
floor of the dressing-room, through the half-open door. 

Presently he heard voices, and it soon became evi- 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 51 

dent that two of the young ladies of the house were 
denizens of the opposite gable, and that one of them 
was then speaking from her dressing - closet to her 
companion in the room into which it opened. 

At first, what was said w T as conveyed in broken and 
indistinct sounds, which, however, made Percival 
aware that the girls had come up-stairs from some 
household duty which had been required of them in 
preparation for the morrow. Then the voices became 
louder, and on approaching nearer, Percival had the 
satisfaction of hearing Miss Etta and Miss Emma dis- 
cussing him, their guest, and that freely. 

" Tiresome little man ! " exclaimed the occupant of 
the dressing-room, giving her hair-brush a rattle as if 
she were shaking him. " It seems he can't eat mutton- 
chops, and he won't eat cold beef, and veal-cutlets 
don't agree with him ; so I have had to cut up all that 
nice boiled fowl that was left at tea, in order to have 
it ready to curry for his breakfast. Mind you don't 
take any, Emma, for there is only just enough for the 
visitors." 

" I suppose there will be some devilled kidneys," 
returned the sister. " Papa and the young La Touche 
like them." 

" Yes ; but this old one won't touch them unless 
they are cooked as splendidly as he gets them done at 
home." 

Percival winced at the estimation of his age : at 
the moment he forgot that the speaker numbered but 
sixteen years. 

UNIVERSITY OF 
ILLINOIS LIBRARY 



52 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" Marcia, the aunt, has a dreadful time of it, especi- 
ally when Mr La Touche gives a state dinner. The 
cook has been there eighteen years, and takes things 
more easily." 

" Ah ! you see," said Etta, sagaciously, " she does 
not hear the fault-finding and grumbling : all that 
comes upon the lady of the house. I heard old Mr 
Chivers say, the other day, that nine-tenths of the 
men dare not speak to their cooks in the way they 
speak to their wives or female relations about the 
dinners. Bless you ! the cooks don't lie awake all 
night thinking over the dishes, and trying to remem- 
ber about the right sauces and all that." 

"They are supposed to understand all particulars 
of cookery," said Emma ; " it is part of their busi- 
ness." 

" I know ; but if they do make mistakes, it never 
troubles or upsets them. Lillian has often made me 
laugh at the cool way in which the La Touche cook 
ignores all Percival's messages. Sometimes she sends 
the dish complained of in another form to table; 
and Percival never finds out that the same kidneys 
he raved against in the morning form part of a 
savoury pie at dinner, of which he partakes with 
great gusto." 

" What fun ! " exclaimed the other girl. 

" I'll pitch into Marcia," vowed Percival, as he lis- 
tened to these revelations. He never thought, how- 
ever, of tackling the cook, who really was the sinner ; 
for Miss La Touche was thoroughly ignorant of more 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 53 

than half the metamorphoses which went on in the 
kitchen to save appearances and avoid a row. 

" Suppose he does not like the curry," suggested 
Miss Emma, after a pause. 

" That contingency has been provided for," answered 
Etta : " we are going to have a nice little piece of 
rump-steak, nicely grilled, and surrounded with a ring 
of mushrooms. It seems Percival is very fond of 
mushrooms, and they are always sent up from 
Wheatley in the season for his private eating." 

' c Little glutton ! " exclaimed the sister. " Private 
eating, indeed ! he deserves to live on bread and 
water ! " 

" Fortunately," Etta went on, " there are a few very 
young mushrooms to be found in one of the meadows, 
and some of the boys will have to turn out and find 
them to-morrow morning. The season is rather early, 
and there will be scarcely enough to put round the 
dish : mind you don't attempt to eat any of it, — it's 
a visitor's plat, — not for country maidens like our- 
selves." 

"Plat — that's French," said Emma; "why don't 
you speak plain English ? " 

"Plat is the correct term for a little rechercM 
dish. Lillian says that Percival is a gourmet — that 
means a person who is more particular about the 
quality than the quantity of the food ; what you call 
a glutton is a gourmand." 

"And so this little man is to have the best of 
everything," said Miss Emma. " Pray, what will 



54 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

happen if the plat goes wrong, or is not cooked to 
his fancy ? " 

" If he can't put up with the dressed dishes of the 
country, he will have to fill up with eggs," returned 
Etta, sententiously. " You know we should not take 
so much trouble, only Lillian has been visiting at 
Hinton Square, and mamma thinks we ought to set 
before Percival what he likes best. Well, we have 
done our best ; and, as I said before, he can fill up 
with eggs." 

Here the girls laughed loudly, and Percival, on the 
other side of the boarding, grinned for sympathy : 
they had entirely forgotten the proximity of a 
neighbour, and were again in full swing in their 
conversation. 

" Miss Clavering seems a nice girl," called out Miss 
Etta, from the bedroom. 

" Yes ; and her eyes are just like two stars : do you 
know, she says that we are all too hard upon little 
Mr La Touche, and that he is very agreeable and well 
informed. Fancy that ! " 

"You young monkey!" muttered Percival, under 
his breath ; " how I hate bread-and-butter damsels." 

" So Lillian says — that is, when he chooses to waste 
his sweetness on the desert air. You know he is 
dreadfully afraid of people wanting to marry him ; 
and to prevent this, he affected to be very rude and 
disagreeable when he was young. Now that he has 
got his fortune, I suppose he can't help himself ; and 
the being disagreeable is now the nature of the beast." 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 55 

Percival's face was now a " study " ; but he kept 
perfectly still, as the girls were talking again. 

" I should not like to live in Jersey, if I were Miss 
Clavering," said Emma ; " she will find it very dull — 
worse than this, because there is the sea to cross." 

" Yes ; but they will often be in London. I think 
Mr Glascott has a small house somewhere in that 
neighbourhood ; it has been let until lately. I think 
they are going to it for a month, whilst they buy new 
furniture for the Jersey place." 

" Brydone ? " 

" Yes ; Brydone. If Lady Asher gets better, Miss 
Clavering is to return to Hunter's Lodge with Mary, 
and pay them a visit ; then I suppose the time of 
Mary's wedding will be fixed. I hope Lady Asher 
won't die ; it would really be very inconvenient," re- 
marked Miss Emma, with the utmost coolness. 

" She'll do now," said Etta, with an air of superior 
wisdom; "but I don't mind her being rather ill, if 
that keeps Lillian away and Mary here. It is not 
that I do not care for Lillian ; but it is so uncomfor- 
table to be with her and mamma together, and now 
that our sister is from home, mamma is so much 
nicer in all ways. I wonder how it is that these 
two have never got on ? " 

" I believe Lillian was intended to be a boy," said 
Emma ; " but as she isn't, I wish she would marry. 
Do you know, I fancy Stephen La Touche comes here 
more on her account than for his aunt. I would like 
him for a brother-in-law ; he is handsome, and quite 



56 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

a gentleman. Now there is a dash of the snob in the 
old man ; and this Percival, in spite of his money, 
looks like a bad style of commercial traveller." 

Here the individual in question objurgated Miss 
Emma as an impertinent little beast, without, how- 
ever, naming the genus. 

"You don't mean to infer that Lillian would look 
at the old man ! " exclaimed Etta, aghast. 

" Oh dear no — I was thinking of the family style, 
and how different Stephen is. I do wish," continued 
the girl, with great enthusiasm in her voice and man- 
ner, — " I do wish that Stephen and Lillian Fanshawe 
would make a match of it." 

" That will never be — never ! " answered Etta. 
Have you no eyes ? don't you see that Stephen La 
Touche is over head and ears in love with Willina 
Clavering ? I don't know much of these matters, 
but I am not wrong in my conviction of this : how- 
ever, don't make any remark to any one else." 

" Oh no ; what is said up here between you and 
me is sacred," said Emma ; " it is the only place where 
we are safe. But I fancied that Stephen La Touche 
was very much disappointed, the day he arrived, to 
find that Lillian diad gone to the other side of the 
county." 

" Yes ; that is true enough. You see, he hardly 
knows the rest of us, and Lillian having stayed in 
his father's house, they seemed to be more like old 
friends ; but when Miss Clavering came, he brightened 
up considerably, and he always manages to get near 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 57 

her. Besides this, Percival is supposed to be rather 
an admirer of Lillian." 

" He has lots of money," said the elder girl slowly. 

" But what would Lillian say ? " demanded Miss 
Emma ; " what does she think of him ? " 

Percival here screwed himself close to the parti- 
tion ; he was strangely interested in the answer that 
was to come. 

" Who can tell what Lillian thinks of anybody ? She 
is as mute as an oyster, — one of those who, like the 
goose, says little but thinks the more," replied Etta. 
" Of course she would only take Percival for his 
money. He is not so very old — twenty-nine, I think 
— but papa says he has got the ways of a man of fifty." 

"Very much obliged to Mr Fanshawe, very," 
thought Percival. " I wonder if the family have 
been discussing me in the privacy of their domestic 
life. However, the money seems to smooth all objec- 
tions, even with these unsophisticated country inno- 
cents." He suspended his mental comments, for the 
girls were speaking again. 

" You see there is a drawback to the La Touches, 
and one that papa would never get over," said Etta ; 
" they are all — well — cracked." 

" Oh, not all," returned the sister. " Stephen is 
right enough, and the old man and the aunt are 
weak, perhaps, — at least papa says so." 

" Yes ; but I have heard mamma say that if the com- 
plaint were to attack Percival, it would be something 
dreadful : she says he has got it in his eye " — here Mr 



58 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

La Touche opened and shut his visual organs with great 
rapidity — "got it in the look of his eye, I should 
say ; and it would be something more than weak- 
ness or peculiarity with him — it would be raging- 
madness." 

" How dreadful ! " replied Emma, her visions of a 
brother-in-law becoming toned down by this asser- 
tion. " But then," she added, " if he went very bad 
suddenly, he could be put in an asylum at once, out 
of harm's way, and he is rich enough to be a first- 
class patient." 

(t Yes, that is all very fine ; but suppose Mr La 
Touche murdered Lillian (if she got him) first," said 
Miss Etta, with the maturer reasoning of an elder 
sister : " you never know what lunatics will be at." 

" But he is not a lunatic yet." said Emma ; " and if 
he were to marry Lillian, it would keep him sane, I 
am sure it would ; and as to violence, just look how 
Mrs Kemble, quiet as she is, broke out upon him 
when papa brought the poor little man out on the 
lawn. That was raging madness, if you like, — if Aunt 
Arabella could only have got at him then, we should 
have had to pick up some of the pieces of the eldest 
hope of the house of La Touche," and the girl laughed 
merrily at this vision. 

"What I admired in Percival," volunteered Etta, 
" was the cool and scientific way in which he received 
Mrs Kemble's onslaught. Miss Clavering quite agreed 
with me that he showed great presence of mind." 

Percival brightened up at this, and breathed more 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TEUTH. 59 

freely : it was comforting to find that Miss Clavering 
had remarked him with approbation. 

" I don't see what there was particularly to admire," 
said Emma. " He turned very pale, and then he made 
passes at the poor old lady with his umbrella." 

" It was not that," the sister said ; " it was the beau- 
tiful play he made with the umbrella. Pointing at all 
the four cardinal points of the compass, and working 
in a circle with the accuracy of a teetotum, he never 
touched his aunt, and yet he managed to keep her at 
bay until Stephen came up. She danced round him 
like a dervish the whole time, yet he never gave her 
the slightest advantage." 

" Self-preservation," returned Miss Emma, decisively : 
" he's an awful little coward. Now you see, when the 
other brother came up she became quiet directly, and 
only said that she was afraid of Percival, and that he 
was always unkind to her." 

" I am afraid he has been that," said Etta slowly ; 
" but then, you know, people of unsound mind take odd 
likes and dislikes. We must not judge, but I wish this 
had not happened, for of course all our friends will 
have their own opinion of the matter." 

" So mamma thinks, — she says the sooner Mrs 
Kemble is off, the better. Stephen was dreadfully 
annoyed and put out ; but the elder brother rattled 
away and made himself so agreeable to Miss Clavering 
that she is very much inclined to take his part. I 
heard her say to papa that she thought we were too 
ready to blame him." 



GO THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" She only sees one side of his character," returned 
the elder girl. " "Well, for my part, Lillian is welcome 
to Mr La Touche, if she can put up with him — and, of 
course, it would be a good thing for the eldest of all 
of us to settle comfortably, or uncomfortably, as the 
case might turn out. The man has got money, and 
he is fairly well connected. The 'peculiarity 5 and 
lunatic tendencies don't come out now, if he have 
them, and papa has no right to object to what may 
never happen. Lillian is just the balance for him ; 
in her hands he would never kick the beam." 

" I would rather marry an Indian nabob or a 
Pata^onian chief than Percival La Touche ! " said 
Emma, with emphasis. " One would know what the 
undertaking would be with either of these, and their 
cruelty would be all on the surface; but as to this 
luxurious, patronising little snob, — I would rather 
remain single all my life — I would." 

" Oh, if it comes to one of us — I mean, the question 
of our marrying Percival La Touche," said Etta — " I 
quite agree with you. He would not do for me, for I 
should want more sympathy and more money for my 
poor people than he would let me have. Besides, I 
don't care for London people " 

" I don't like his style," interrupted Miss Emma ; 
" he thinks a great deal too much of himself." 

" And he winked, yes, winked, at the parlour-maid 
this evening, — so ungentlemanly in a clergyman's 
house," continued Miss Etta ; " and that little grin 
of his is most offensive." 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 61 

"And his rubbing his hands together, as if he had 
got a ball of sand-soap within them, gives me the 
fidgets," said Emma. 

"Altogether, he is out of the question for you or 
me," returned the elder sister. " Lillian is a different 
affair altogether; but I do think, if there were not 
another man in the world, nothing would induce me 
to marry Percival La Touche." 

" Nor I either," returned Emma ; " never, as you say, 
if there were not another man in the whole creation, 
would I marry Mr La Touche." 

. . . There was a sliding sound against the wall, 
as if something had rubbed heavily against its whole 
length, and a voice in a deep loud tone called out: 
" Wait, — wait till you are ashed, young ladies." 

Then the dressing- door of the neighbouring room 
banged heavily, and Etta, as she rushed into bed beside 
her sister, clung convulsively to that damsel, saying, 
" Oh, what shall we do ? we forgot all about him, — he 
has heard every word of what we have been saying. 
I don't care so much for his knowing what we think 
of him, but it may spoil Lillian's chance." 

" And what is worse, mamma's hopes of getting rid 
of her by a rich marriage ; that is the worst part of 
the business." 

" Not quite the worst," said Etta ; " how on earth am 
I to face him in the morning ? you'll be in the school- 
room, and so get out of it, — it will be so terribly awk- 
ward." 

"Never mind," said Emma, who was of a tougher 



62 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

nature than her elder sister — " never mind ; it will 
be quite as uncomfortable for Mr La Touche. We 
must all agree that we have had the nightmare. 
Depend upon it, he'll say nothing, — horrid little 
wretch ! " 

This was perhaps the best light in which to view 
the matter. Percival, although he adjudged himself to 
have retreated with flying colours and all the honours 
of w T ar, was still in a most perplexed condition of 
mind when he laid his head upon his pillow. 

He now saw, or thought he saw, through Mrs 
Fanshawe's wiles. The sharp manner which she 
evinced towards him in the presence of Lillian was 
merely a blind to lull him into security after all ; 
and, in spite of appearances to the contrary, she was 
artfully endeavouring to entrap him into a marriage 
with her eldest daughter — that was evident. The 
motive, too, was to him so disgraceful. The money 
was a sine qua non ; but it was more for the sake 
of getting rid of an incubus than for even the 
ostensible pride of establishing Miss Fanshawe, that 
her mother, and possibly the family collectively, — 
with the exception of the rector perhaps, and Percival 
would not vouch for him, in spite of Mrs Kemble's 
outburst, — would do all in their power to further 
so desirable an event. The conversation of the young 
girls convinced Mr La Touche that the subject had 
been ventilated amongst them, and that without the 
remotest appreciation of the honour which he firmly 
believed would accrue to the family by such a stroke 



THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH. 63 

of fortune as an alliance with himself would be. And 
yet he had gone out of his way to seek Miss Fan- 
shawe ; and it was only by a wonderful accident of 
chance that he was not at that very moment congratu- 
lating himself upon being the affianced husband of 
this — he would admit it — distinguished London-look- 
ing girl. 

The counsel which, it is said, comes with night, 
now warned him to retreat while it was yet time ; 
but a stronger and more potent reason brought Per- 
cival to believe that Providence had at this issue 
interfered in his behalf in bringing Willina Claver- 
ing within his ken. 

Those impudent hussies ! — he thus apostrophised 
them — his next-door neighbours, had unwittingly 
let fall this crumb of consolation in his cup. Miss 
Clavering had espoused his cause, and had, with in- 
tuitive and delicate perception, discovered how well 
informed and how agreeable in conversation he was. 

o 

This circumstance, he opined, was letting in the thin 
end of the wedge in the most satisfactory style. Then 
tossing his ruminations backwards and forwards, with 
the refrain of to be or not to be, Mr La Touche fell 
asleep, and dreamt of well-turned heads, intelligent 
eyes, and lunatics, in one confused mass, till the 
early hours found him awakening with a start, and the 
name of " Willina " on his lips. 



64 



CHAPTEE IV. 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 



Emma Fanshawe was right. Mr La Touche entered 



l o 



the breakfast-room on the following morning with an 
air of the blandest tranquillity, stated that he had 
slept most comfortably, and neither by word nor sign 
did he evince the slightest consciousness of his ex- 
periences of the previous night. 

His position seemed to be a remarkably happy one ; 
for Stephen always took his breakfast at the old rec- 
tory, and in consequence of the absence of his incipi- 
ent rival, the elder brother seized the opportunity 
to appropriate Miss Clavering and pay her the most 
marked attention. This, as it happened, exactly 
suited Miss Etta, who was thankful for any person or 
thing that would divert Percival's recollection from her- 
self, for she was in momentary terror that some sar- 
castic observation should be let fall from that gentleman 
which might bear upon the conversation in which she 
and her hardened younger sister had so lately indulged. 

Mr La Touche was, however, either politic or merci- 



PEKCIVAL WAVERS. 65 

ful — perhaps he was leavened with a mixture of both 
these attributes — and so the young lady, after a few 
moments of qualm, continued to preside at the break- 
fast-table with her wonted peace of mind. 

One thing only caused Percival a tinge of regret ; it 
was that he had announced his intention of proceeding 
on his business tour on the day following his arrival 
at Pinnacles, and his wish to call at Hunter's Lodge 
either before or after his departure into a neighbouring 
county. Mary Leppell had fixed the time for his visit 
to Ely the ; and it was not, as we have seen, till after 
these arrangements had been made, that he discovered 
that Miss Fanshawe had left home, and was then a 
guest of Mrs Leppell. Thus the precaution that he, in 
his astuteness, thought he had taken to avert suspicion 
as to the motives which prompted him to call at 
Pinnacles, now served as a strong barrier to prevent 
him remaining even a few hours longer in that abode. 

Mrs Fanshawe and Mary Leppell both discerned 
the finger of Providence in directing Mr La Touche 
to offer his congratulations at Hunter's Lodge at so 
auspicious a season ; and though neither of these ladies 
gave expression to. their hopes or opinion on this head, 
they both augured the most satisfactory results from 
this happy combination of events. 

Strangely enough, the rector, who was supposed to 
be no authority on matters flirtatory — to coin a word — 
perceived Mr La Touche's attention to Miss Clavering, 
and further, he bestowed a few moments' consideration 
upon this matter. The outcome of his reflections im- 

VOL. II. E 



QQ THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

pelled him to take his wife aside immediately after 
breakfast, and enjoin her by no means to invite 
Percival to extend his visit, or to encourage him to 
remain at Pinnacles. "He cannot," Mr Fanshawe 
added, — " he dare not go to the old rectory, even for 
a meal, and I won't have him philandering here : 
in fact, I shall be very glad to be quit of the whole 
La Touche family, with the exception of Stephen, — 
he's the best of the lot." 

"Mr La Touche has not the slightest intention of 
remaining here," said Mrs Fanshawe, in a mollifying 
tone ; " he is going to Yarne by the twelve o'clock 
train." 

" I am glad to hear it," growled Mr Fanshawe ; 
"this man is really dreadful, and now he is actually 
making love to Miss Clavering. I should like to know 
what Mr Glascott would think of such a thing ! " 

Poor Mr Fanshawe ! in his solicitude for the stranger 
within his gates, he was totally ignorant of the fact 
that there were those of his household who were at 
that moment rejoicing in the knowledge that this ob- 
noxious visitor would ere long be in company with 
his own daughter, and that many of his friends were 
beginning to regard Mr La Touche as a possible suitor 
for that lady's hand : his wife, too, was ready to ex- 
pedite Percival's departure with something very like 
a " God-speed." " Where ignorance is bliss," &c, &c. 

Stephen La Touche came up from the old rectory, 
but merely in time to go through the form of convers- 
ing a little with his brother. He also privately con- 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 67 

curred in the opinion that Miss Fanshawe was the 
attraction which led Percival to be so scrupulously 
polite in the matter of offering his congratulations 
at Hunter's Lodge ; and if his suspicions were correct, 
it would be as well, that gentleman thought, to look 
upon the gallantry Percival had displayed towards 
Miss Clavering as merely an atonement for his disap- 
pointment in not finding Miss Fanshawe at home. So 
he talked with Percival in the manner that was usual 
with him — carefully, however, impressing upon him the 
impossibility of his being even seen in the vicinity of 
the old rectory. It was no longer " Esperanza " for Mr 
La Touche, for if he ventured within its portals, he 
would certainly have to leave all hope behind him, 
Mrs Kemble's intentions being of an avowedly sangui- 
nary nature, and it being reported, moreover, that she 
was on the watch to execute them. 

" I shall write to Dr Williams to-day," Stephen 
said, continuing the subject of poor Mrs Kemble, " and 
if he can receive Aunt Arabella on the day after to- 
morrow, I shall take her to his place at once : the 
attendant, of course, will go with us." 

" And after that duty is accomplished," said Perci- 
val, with a nonchalant air, " I suppose you will return 
to London. You will, I should think, have some ac- 
cumulation of business to attend to." 

" I hope so," replied Stephen, cheerily, and with a 
lamb-like innocence. " You may as well tell Marcia to 
expect me in four or five days from this time. I sup- 
pose your business will be concluded before I return, 



68 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

as I am to finish my visit here as soon as I have placed 
our aunt with Dr Williams." 

Percival could not say. His business might detain 
him longer than three days : he would, however, ad- 
vise his brother not to waste any more time in the 
country. " After you have given up the old rectory, 
and settled everything with our friend here " — alluding 
to Mr Fanshawe, with a backward jerk of his thumb 
— " you will be home at once. Marcia wants you, for 
we are going to have one or two dinner-parties. One 
of them is rather of the shop : some French fellows 
from Bordeaux, to whom the firm must do the civil. 
Ta-ta," he continued, with an airy flourish of the 
redoubtable umbrella, as he wended his way towards 
J "hall door,' — "I have faltered my adieux to Mrs 
Fanshawe and the ladies already : ta-ta, and don't 
forget to come home as soon as possible. Think of 
Marcia and the dinner-parties." 

His last words were almost lost in the depths of the 
one-horse fly which was to convey Mr La Touche to 
the station. Stephen looked after him for a moment, 
and then burst into a laugh. " Master Percival thinks 
himself very clever, no doubt," he said to himself, 
" but I fancy I am a match for him. Still, I hope his 
present errand may be successful ; I can afford to wish 
him good-luck in that quarter." 

Some hours afterwards, Stephen found himself in 
Mr La Touche's study, making the final arrangements 
for giving up the old rectory, and providing for his 
aunt's ultimate removal. The rector had declared, 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. G9 

and with good reason, that it was positively dangerous 
to allow Mrs Kemble to remain longer where she was 
without some restraint ; and it was agreed that it would 
be as well to despatch a telegram and summon Dr 
Williams without delay. " Mrs Kemble has seen the 
doctor, and likes him," Mrs Fanshawe said, "and I 
think she would bear her removal better if that gentle- 
man were to come for her himself : it would take off 
the appearance of everything being strange." 

As the business proceeded, Mr Fanshawe could not 
help admiring the humanity and generosity displayed 
by the younger man ; and it was with the utmost sin- 
cerity that he expressed a hope that the removal of 
the patient would not terminate the acquaintance 
which this short visit had so pleasantly matured into 
a friendship betwixt him and the family at Pinnacles. 
Stephen was given to understand, with more warmth 
of manner than the rector was usually wont to dis- 
play, that whenever he should want a few days' change, 
or should at any time come into Yarneshire on Mrs 
Kemble's affairs, there would be always a place and a 
welcome for him at Pinnacles Court. 

Fortunately, Mrs Kemble had sunk into an apathetic 
state when the day arrived for her removal from the 
old rectory house. We all of us feel somewhat of 
regret when leaving a locality wherein we have passed 
a good portion of our time, even if the surroundings 
and the experience of life therein have not always 
been of the happiest kind ; but for this poor soul there 
was little of remembrance and less of regret. 



70 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

She was going, she said, where Stephen wished her 
to go, and she felt sure that what he wished was the 
right thing. This confidence caused her to accept 
all that was proposed for her comfort in a spirit of 
placid resignation, which, while it materially simpli- 
fied the necessary business consequent on removal, 
had, besides, something in its expression peculiarly 
touching. To the last it was evident that she had no 
opinion of the attentions which the several members 
of the Pinnacles household now bestowed upon her. 
" It was all very well," she remarked to her nephew, 
as they sat together on the last evening of her ten- 
ancy ; " but why are these women so wonderfully 
friendly all of a sudden, and just as I am going 
away ? Miss Clavering has been kind from the very 
first moment I saw her, and I am very, very sorry to 
wish her good-bye. 

" It is only for a time, I know," the old lady con- 
tinued, after a short pause ; " and I won't make any 
fuss when I leave, for the Pinnacles women might 
think I am sorry to part with them, and that would 
never do, for I am not sorry — not a whit, my dear." 

Early on the day of her departure, Mrs Kemble 
was particularly mysterious, and somewhat difficult 
both to understand and to manage. She nodded her 
head, shook that member at her nephew, shrugged 
her shoulders, winked satanically, and went through 
so many other minor gymnastics, that Stephen feared 
these must be the precursory symptoms of another 
outbreak, and so stood upon his guard. 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 71 

However, when the men who had been employed 
in packing such of the furniture as belonged to Mr 
La Touche, previous to its removal to London, had 
departed, the real meaning of these signals became 
apparent. " Come here, Stephen," Aunt Arabella said ; 
" I want you to take this, and put it in a safe place. 
I have been so alarmed lest some one should get it 
from me when I was not — not — well. But I have 
managed to keep it out of sight ; here it is ! " So saying, 
she pulled a folded paper out of the depths of the 
lining of her wadded foot- warmer, and desired Stephen 
to read it forthwith. 

Her nephew, on looking through this document, 
found it to be no less than Mrs Kemble's will, pro- 
perly written and executed some eight years back. 
Her own small fortune of three thousand pounds, 
standing in the consols, was left absolutely and en- 
tirely to him, as also everything she might inherit 
or become possessed of at the time of her death. 

The young man remained silent, just pressing his 
aunt's hand in token of his recognition and gratitude. 
He was greatly touched, not only at this evidence of 
her strong affection, but also at the tenacity with 
which his relative had, in his interests, preserved this 
will. No one, he felt sure, suspected its existence. 

" I knew you would come — in all my queerness I 
felt you would come and see me. I have never for- 
gotten your visit to us at Heidelberg, and how you 
defended me, boy as you were, from Kemble — never. 
Now you see the will is quite regular — made out by 



72 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

a first-rate lawyer. Mr Sever ne, who always took my 
part, managed all the business for me. I want you to 
observe that this will was made before I became 
nervous and queer ; and to be assured that I have 
never made any other, and I never intend to make 
another, so you are quite safe, my dear." 

" But, aunt, I can't keep this will in my own 
possession : it is very generous of you, but " 

" I understand — I know something of business. 
Let Dr Williams and old Fanshawe, if you like, be 
witnesses that I have made this will over to you. 
They may, I should think, advise you to hand it to 
some respectable solicitor. Mind, my dear, I had the 
power reserved to me under my settlement to make a 
will. I have good cause to remember that, — my hus- 
band never forgave it ; indeed I owe much of the ill- 
treatment I received to this cause. But my father 
was so fearful lest even sixpence should go out of the 
family. Money and greed — the La Touches have 
always tried for the good things of the land, and 
what has come of it ? Lunacy, quarrelling, and every 
evil work. Stephen ! whatever you do, never 
marry a near relation, — it's not natural, and never 
was intended." 

" Three thousand pounds was hardly a sum large 
enough to demand a clause reserving you the right of 
making a will," returned Stephen. " Had you, may I 
ask, any other prospects ? " 

" That's just it : our uncle, Mr Squash, was alive 
when I married, and my father always believed that 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 73 

he would leave his large fortune to be divided between 
my brothers and sisters and myself. As it happens, 
Mr Squash chose to make that horrid Percival his 
heir, and he lived much longer than his friends 
intended that he should live. Has he got the money ? " 
inquired Mrs Kemble, turning round sharply. Every- 
thing that alluded to Mr La Touche, even in the most 
remote manner, always irritated her. 

" Oh yes," replied Stephen ; " perhaps it were better 
so than that the property should be cut up into small 
portions. Don't let us grudge Percival — he will be 
none the better nor the happier for it." 

" That's a blessing," returned Aunt Arabella warmly. 
" Percival won't spend it, and perhaps he may die, 
and then his money can be cut up and go among the 
rest of the family. You see I have no other prospects, 
and my small jointure will of course go to Mr 
Kemble's relations at my death. They pray for 
that event regularly every night, my dear. Here's 
Miss Clavering ; now, do you go away — I want to 
talk to her alone." 

Dr Williams arrived in clue course, and after some 
consultation, it was decided that the will in question 
should be confided to the care of a firm of solicitors 
whom he named. Shortly afterwards, Mrs Kemble, 
with her attendant and Stephen, set out for her new 
home ; and it is satisfactory to know that the poor 
lady arrived safely at her destination, and took at once 
pleasantly to all about her. She parted tenderly from 
her nephew, but very quietly also ; assuring him that 



7-t THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

he had done all for the best, expressing her conviction 
that she was going to be very happy, and that in a 
short time she would be perfectly well. So, for a 
season, Aunt Kemble would probably cease to be a 
source of anxiety to her relatives, and the family at 
Pinnacles were well pleased that she had taken her 
departure in peace. 

It was with a light heart that Stephen returned to 
pay the last part of his visit, which the ruthless 
demands of business limited to three days. Now 
that he had leisure to review his position, his spirit 
was exercised more strongly than ever as to his 
brother's real reason for appearing in the county, and 
it was with great sincerity that he hoped Miss Fan- 
shawe was the veritable magnet which had attracted 
Percival from his own immediate sphere at this time. 
If his suppositions were really correct, he would benefi- 
cently wish the latter the most unbounded good-luck, 
and was even willing to accord him an unqualified and 
fraternal benediction. 

In despite, however, of this magnanimity, a mis- 
giving would often crop up in Stephen's mind con- 
cerning Mr La Touche's ulterior motives. He could 
not forget how thoroughly this usually cautious and 
wary individual had thrown off all reserve, and given 
himself up, so to speak, to an unqualified admiration 
of Miss Clavering, and that too from the first hour of 
his acquaintance with the lady. Percival's evident 
anxiety to get him to return home was also a subject 
of wonder to the younger brother : it was all very 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 75 

well to cite Marcia's dinner-parties as a raison d'etre, 
but then, up to this time, Percival had generally 
been indifferent as to whether his brethren were pres- 
ent or not at the family state - feeds. There had 
been occasions, indeed, on which, preferring candour 
to compliment, Mr La Touche had averred that the 
absence of Stephen from the festive board was a 
matter of congratulation to himself and the company ; 
but it must be conceded that this sentiment was 
expressed at a season when Stephen emphatically 
declined to take in to dinner the lady whom Marcia 
had ordained that he should take in, and when this 
recalcitrant action was stated to militate decidedly 
against the order of procession. 

Thus, after turning the matter over in his mind, and 
failing to arrive at any conclusion, Stephen was fain 
to trust to time, and resolved, like a sensible man, to 
enjoy as fully as possible the few days that remained 
to him of his visit to Pinnacles Court. 

Percival, meanwhile, sped on his way, and soon 
stood before the gate of Hunter's Lodge. It struck 
him as he passed up the drive that the house and all 
surrounding it appeared to be unusually quiet, — no 
sounds of whoop and holloa, no signs of boys or 
babies, and the door-step in front of the principal 
entrance shining at the same time uncommonly clean. 

The lawn was dotted here and there with hearth- 
rugs and mats of every size and description, and a 
frousy sotcpgon of the dust which had been recently 
shaken out of these still pervaded the immediate 



76 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

atmosphere. Almost every window in the house was 
wide open, and the casements were utterly innocent 
of either curtain or blind. 

A tight-rope apparatus stretched out in the field 
beyond the lawn seemed at first sight to indicate a 
preparation for some acrobatic performance ; but just 
as Mr La Touche was wondering what this might por- 
tend, a huge substance was thrown across the rope, 
and two men, furnished with bean-sticks, proceeded to 
belabour the material until rolls and volumes of dust 
concealed them from the naked eye. 

Then it dawned upon Percival that this performance 
of carpet-beating was one of the phases of a process at 
that moment going on in full activity at Hunter's 
Lodge. It was that feminine vernal saturnalia 
known in the civilised world as the spring clean — 
a rite from which all bipeds of the masculine gen- 
der usually fly in terror and dismay as from a dan- 
gerous epidemic, whilst wives and daughters and 
female servants bear the brunt of the attending dis- 
comforts, and revel and exult (it has been said) in 
finding themselves in full possession of the field, and 
in the utter exemption from molestation or interfer- 
ence of any kind whatever. 

Percival winced as, on approaching the house, he 
distinctly recognised the clink of an iron pail-hanclle, 
and a dim sound which announced an under-current 
of scrubbing. " How unfortunate ! " he said to himself ; 
" there will be only a scrap-luncheon — boiled-beef and 
bread, or some horror of the kind. I think I'll turn 



PEKCIVAL WAVERS. 77 

back ; or no, better not — I may be seen from the mea- 
dow there. I need not stay long : most likely, too, Mrs 
Leppell will not be at home. Good gracious ! what is 
that looking out at the window ? " 

It was only Mrs Dabber the charwoman, who, 
arrayed in the inevitable coal-scuttle bonnet of the 
profession, and a canvas apron which enveloped her 
from head to heel, hearing footsteps, had almost 
thrown herself out at the hall window in order to 
intercept or turn back any intruder who might seek 
admission. A long boiled arm protruded itself at the 
same time, and the soaked hand at its extremity 
waved the insignia of the scrubber's calling within 
a foot of Percival's hat. 

" What do ye please to want ? " said this apparition, 
as the visitor, recovering his astonishment, fell back 
some paces, and replied with the query, " Is Mrs Lep- 
pell at home ? " 

" It's the spring clean, sir, and Mrs Leppell have 
sent all the children out for a picnic, sir ; they have 
been gone this two hours." 

" Is Mrs Leppell at home ? " demanded Percival, 
loftily ignoring the previous information. 

" No, sir," returned the scrubber firmly, but menda- 
ciously, nevertheless ; " she have gone to the picnic 
with the last lot of 'em." 

Percival hesitated a moment, but true to the spirit 
of contradiction, which was a component part of his 
existence, he determined to enter the house, solely be- 
cause he thought he perceived a strong determination 



78 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

on the part of Mrs Dabber to deny him admittance. 
He therefore replied, " That is very strange, and Lady 
Asher so ill ; surely she is not left alone ! " 

" Lady Asher is better, and she ain't alone, she have 
got her maid," responded the scrubber, rising to the 
emergency. " We are very busy, 'cause the Colonel 
he have writ to say as how he'll be home to-morrow 
night." 

" I've just come from Pinnacles Court," said Per- 
cival, " so I had better see Mrs Prothero, as I have a 
letter and a parcel from Miss Mary " 

" Oh, if 'e come from Miss Mary, that's different 
altogether. I was told not to let in any callers on 
no account. Wait a bit please, sir, and I'll open the 
front door; it is kep' shut by reason of them dogs. 
Most of 'em has gone to the picnic ; but Boxer, lies 
about, and when a gets in, it's next to impossible to 
drive un out again, sure." 

Mrs Dabber sped to the hall door with some alac- 
rity, for it was quickly opened, and Percival entered. 
After indicating a roll of matting as a convenient 
place whereon he might sit, Mrs Dabber left the 
visitor in possession, and set off on the ostensible 
errand of seeking Mrs Prothero. 

She could not have reached Lady Asher's room, for 
the quick ears with which nature had supplied Mr La 
Touche made him aware that to some person in close 
proximity, although unseen, he was being reported as 
" a young man with a note from Miss Mary, — a would 
come in," was added in a deprecatory tone. 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 79 

" What's he like ? " inquired a voice, which Percival 
immediately recognised ; " it can't be Mr Clavering ? 
besides, you know him." 

" Oh, laws, no, 'em — he ain't Mr Clavering ; but a 
tidy little gent too — a says a comes from Pinnacles." 

There was a slight rustle, and in another moment 
Miss Fanshawe was shaking hands with Mr La Touche. 

" You are rather an unexpected Mercury," said the 
young lady, her face flushed a little with surprise, and 
perhaps, it may be added, with some disappointment ; 
for it was usual for Mr Clavering to call after this 
manner when Lady Asher's illness demanded fre- 
quent inquiry. " We did not know you were in 
Yarneshire." 

" I only arrived yesterday on my way to Bath, and, 
having a few hours to spare, I went up to Pinnacles 
to see my aunt before she leaves your neighbourhood," 
said Mr La Touche, with solemn assurance. " Your 
parents have a large party in the house, and they 
were kind enough to invite me to join them and stay 
all night. Here are my credentials," and he handed 
the note and a little parcel wrapped in silver-paper 
to Lillian. 

" Thanks ; this is a fan which Mary walked off with 
the other day. Won't you come in here till I see if 
Lady Asher's sitting-room is in order ? it is our only 
harbour of refuge during this turmoil." So saying, 
she opened the door of the drawing-room and ushered 
Mr La Touche into that apartment, which was just 
recovering from an elaborate scrubbing, and redo- 



80 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

lent of Bristol soap, furniture-polish, and all the other 
olfactory concomitants inevitable to a spring clean. 
A pronounced feeling of dampness and discomfort 
made itself apparent and suitable to the occasion — so 
much so, that Percival shrank together, and expressed 
a fear that he should catch cold. 

" I won't be long," said Miss Fanshawe ; " I will just 
speak to Mrs Leppell — she was with her mother a few 
minutes ago : you had better stand in the verandah," 
and off she went before Mr La Touche could get in a 
single word. 

Mrs Leppell was rather pleased than otherwise 
when she was told who the visitor was; and in the 
belief that the visit of Mr La Touche was rendered 
more on her young friend's account than on her own, 
she at once decided to receive that gentleman. She 
also opined that this was a most excellent opportunity 
to bring these young people together ; and though she 
did not much admire the man, she, like the rest of the 
world, held his fortune in much esteem. Besides, it 
must be remembered Lilian was the eldest of a tribe 
of daughters, and it was her duty to marry a rich man 
if she could get him, and her (Mrs Leppell's) duty to 
render her aid in the quest. So with an earnest and 
sincere desire to forward this event, Mrs Leppell went 
by way of the garden to the drawing-room verandah, 
and received Mr La Touche with a cordial smile of 
welcome. 

" You find us in a most uncomfortable state," she 
said, as she extended her hand to her visitor. " Come 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 81 

into Lady Asher's room, and we can offer you some 
lunch, such as it is." 

Percival replied that he was delighted, and that 
Colonel Leppell had no doubt evaded the horrors of 
house-cleaning, adding that it was the first time in 
his life that he had come in contact with the opera- 
tion, and that really it was not so bad as he had been 
led to think. 

This was intended for a compliment evidently, and 
so the ladies bowed in recognition. " It is really 
Colonel Leppell's fault that we have been obliged to 
carry the operation through in so uncompromising a 
manner," continued the lady of the house ; " we did 
not expect my husband home for nearly a week yet, 
and now he has written to say that he will be at home 
late to-morrow night." 

"And of course he expects everything to be in 
perfect order and comfort," added Miss Fanshawe, 
with a laugh. 

There was something very taking and graceful about 
this girl when she allowed her usually cold manner to 
relax, and perhaps she never appeared to greater 
advantage than when she was at Hunter's Lodge. 
The position of being understood and appreciated has, 
more or less, a beautifying effect on most young 
people, and it was due to this that Miss Fanshawe 
always seemed more animated and cheerful when 
with the Leppells than at any other time. 

We can never fully understand the mysterious 
phases of fate and chance, any more than we can ex- 

VOL. II. f 



82 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

plain the great injustices which are hourly occurring 
in the world ; but it is probable that if Lillian Fan- 
shawe had been the wife of Francis Clavering, she 
would have been a bright and happy woman to the 
end of her days, because she knew, and felt that he 
would have known, that she was thoroughly suited to 
him, and that in intellect and opinion and thought 
they were as one. 

Now this chance — the union of what Miss Fan- 
shawe believed to be two kindred souls — had passed 
away for ever ; and in the face of an uncongenial if 
not an unhappy home, the young lady set herself 
deliberately to win Percival La Touche, or rather, 
perhaps, to accept him as the Charybdis into which 
she must cast herself from the Scylla of her un- 
requited preference for Mr Clavering. 

Little dreamed he that at the best he was nothing 
more than a pis aller in this girl's sight, but a pis aller 
to which she must resort because she held no place in 
her mother's heart, and was virtually without hearth 
or home. 

So, following the lead of her friend, Lillian was 
unusually charming in her manner towards Mr La 
Touche, and looked so cool and fresh withal, and 
bantered with him in such easy graceful style, that, 
with the strange inconsistency of the human mind, 
Percival found himself hesitating as to whether or no 
it would be as well that he should dedicate his alle^i- 
ance at once to Miss Fanshawe, and forego all further 
attempts to bewitch Miss Clavering. Everything 






PERCIVAL WAVERS. 83 

seemed just then to foster this idea : the luncheon was 
so good that it wellnigh worked the charm of reaching 
the man's heart through his stomach ; the kindly un- 
affected manner in which he had been admitted into 
the privacy of this household ; the absence of all gSne, 
without descending to the borders even of familiarity, 
— all combined to press upon Percival the desirability 
of improving his opportunities without loss of time. 

He was further induced to this consideration by the 
invitation which Mrs Leppell (in the interests of her 
young friend) had given him to attend her daughter's 
wedding when that event should take place. " She 
would send Miss La Touche," Mrs Leppell said, " a 
proper invitation when matters were arranged, and 
she hoped that Mr Stephen would be also induced to 
give them the pleasure of his company on that occa- 
sion. Should she write ? or would Mr La Touche 
undertake to bring his brother ? At any rate, Mary 
and Mr Clavering, being with him at Pinnacles, would 
very probably secure Mr Stephen themselves." 

Percival inwardly resolved to put a spoke in this 
wheel, but merely replied that he was quite sure they 
would all be most happy to wait on Mrs Leppell ; 
and then, luncheon being over, they strolled into Lady 
Asher's little garden till the room should be arranged. 

They had been there scarcely ten minutes when 
Mrs Leppell found it convenient to fancy that she 
heard Prothero's voice calling to her from within, and, 
without waiting to satisfy herself, she turned and 
went rapidly into the house. " I'll be back directly," 



84 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

she said, looking over her shoulder to Lillian ; " per- 
haps you could show Mr La Touche Dick's game- 
fowls : they are really beautiful birds, and are well 
worth seeing." 

To the fowl-yard they sped ; and with her nose dug 
into the netting, Miss Fanshawe searched minutely for 
Raleigh, reputed to be the gamest of game birds in 
the whole county. 

Mr La Touche approached a little nearer the lady, 
with the view of being directed where to look for 
this redoubtable warrior, and had got the length of 
u Dear Miss Fanshawe," when a tread on the gravel 
arrested his speech, and he just managed to add as he 
looked round, " here he is," when an elderly gentleman 
appeared in sight. 

Miss Fanshawe never exactly knew whether the 
lame conclusion of Percival's opening address applied 
to the game-fowl or to Mr Glascott, for they both 
appeared on the scene at the same moment : however, 
as the latter was outside the netted inclosure, he 
might, perhaps, be considered as having the advantage, 
he not being in a state of semi-captivity. 

Whatever Percival had intended to disclose was 
certainly effectually quenched by the advent of the 
human third party, who, after saluting Miss Fanshawe 
with the graceful, old-fashioned courtesy, began to an- 
nounce his errand, as he took her hand. 

" Allow me to introduce you," said that lady with 
the most enviable composure ; " Mr Glascott, Mr La 
Touche." A bow, and a very ill-used-looking visage on 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 85 

the part of Percival : this was entirely lost upon Mr 
Glascott, who innocently regarded, his new acquaint- 
ance as a young man possessing a most unfortunate 
expression of face, and thought how good it was of 
Miss Fanshawe to entertain him. 

So it was rather with the opinion that he was do- 
ing a fellow-creature a good turn that Mr Glascott 
said : " It has occurred to me that you would like a 
ride this fine afternoon ; suppose we go and meet the 
picnic-party. We might take a canter round Firely 
Hill, and then escort the youngsters home in a troop. 
I have just spoken to Mrs Leppell, and she thinks the 
idea a good one, should you approve." 

Miss Fanshawe agreed, remarking, notwithstanding, 
that she was supposed to be helping Mrs Leppell in 
the house, and that it would be rather selfish on her 
part to ride away and leave her. 

. Mr Glascott combated this assertion by averring 
that Mrs Leppell, whom he had just left, aided and 
strongly promoted this suggestion. 

" Would you like to accompany us ? " asked Miss 
Fanshawe, turning to Mr La Touche with a genial 
smile. 

" Oh dear, no," replied Percival ; " very happy to 
accompany you, of course, but horse exercise " 

" Oh, you don't ride, — I forgot," replied the lady ; 
" it's very unfortunate. Shall we find you here on our 
return ? " 

Percival understood from this that Miss Fanshawe 
intended to take the ride, and excused her in his mind 



86 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

upon the plea that she could not very well do other- 
wise. At the same time, it having dawned upon his 
perception that the late comer was Miss Clavering's 
guardian, his manner suddenly softened, and he 
replied — 

" My business matters are urgent, and only left me 
time to come out here to offer my congratulations to 
Mrs Leppell on her daughter's approaching marriage. 
From what I have seen of Mr Clavering, Miss Leppell 
seems to have been most happy in her choice." 

Here Mr Glascott bowed, and relaxed his uncompli- 
mentary opinion concerning the personal appearance 
of Mr La Touche ; and after a few desultory remarks, 
they returned to the house. Percival took his leave ; 
and Miss Fanshawe and her escort immediately set off 
for a long afternoon's ride. 

Colonel Leppell returned home, according to his 
announcement, and Mary and Miss Clavering ended 
their visit at Pinnacles Court. Miss Fanshawe re- 
mained at Hunter's Lodge for the ostensible purpose 
of cultivating a further acquaintance with the latter, 
and she was present when a messenger from the firm 
of Dupont brought the diamonds, arranged and set, 
which were Mr Glascott's wedding-present to Mary 
Leppell. 

They were universally admired ; so much so, that 
Mr Glascott, through the Colonel, sent the same num- 
ber of stones to be set in precisely similar form to 
Mr Dupont, intending that parure to be a present to 
Willina Clavering. 



PERCIVAL WAVERS. 87 

Francis Clavering was very much taken with Mary's 
set ; at the same time, he remarked that the colour of 
the stones did not appear to him to be quite so clear 
as that of the unset gems. 

" The mounting may make a difference/' said Miss 
Fanshawe, who was examining them at the same 
time. 

" Ah, yes, to be sure ; you put us all right," said 
the young man, turning towards Lillian with a smile 
of genuine approbation. 



88 



CHAPTER V. 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 



At length all was satisfactorily settled : Colonel Lep- 
pell and Mr Glascott had each dined in company 
at the abode of the other, and Mr Clavering was now 
a visitor at Hunter's Lodge, the acknowledged and ac- 
cepted suitor of Miss Leppell. 

The usual amount of astonishment, expressed and 
understood, went the round of the family acquaintance 
as a matter of course. " ' Heavenly Moll ' to put up 
with a simple gentleman, after all Ealph's bluster ! " 
was the ejaculation of old Lord Hieover, after he had 
twice perused the document which conveyed the in- 
telligence, in curt but respectful terms, to the lady's 
grandfather. "Balph is coming to his senses," re- 
marked the Colonel's brother Alick, as he digested the 
news ; " rich noblemen are not so plenty, and the poor 
ones look out for money. They have shown more 
sense, the whole lot of them, than I imagined them to 
possess." 

" The whole lot" meant the family at Hunter's Lodge, 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 89 

severally and collectively, in the summary of this 
relative. As to the Clavering connection, if that were 
satisfied, it was well ; and if it were not, that was no 
affair of the Honourable Alexander Leppell, who 
averred, for his part, that he was truly thankful to 
learn that a comfortable provision would be secured to 
his niece by this contemplated marriage. Being thus 
in a contented frame of mind, this affectionate uncle 
at once penned a congratulatory epistle to Mary, in 
which he wished her all manner of life's blessings and 
good-luck. This being done, he mourned over the 
fact that he would have to give the girl a decent 
wedding-present, and eventually turned to smoke for 
compensation and consolation. 

Miss Fanshawe was now the only person to whom 
this engagement did not give complete satisfaction. 
True, she had promoted it to the best of her power ; 
but her influence with Mary Leppell had only been 
exerted after she had discovered that her own chances 
of securing Mr Clavering's affections were utterly hope- 
less. The result of this influence had convinced Miss 
Leppell that she did possess sufficient regard for Mr 
Clavering to warrant her accepting that gentleman as 
her suitor. "Wise in her generation, and far-seeing 
beyond her years, Lillian soon discovered that the best 
method for retaining for herself influence and interest 
with both these young people, was to act at once en 
honne princesse, and so earn the gratitude of, at least, 
one of the benefited parties. That she did not (at that 
time at least) seriously mean to displace Mary Leppell 



90 THE FAT OF THE LAXD. 

in Mr Clavering's affections, is certain ; and had such 
an idea been presented to Miss Fanshawe in a tangible 
shape, no one would have more indignantly disclaimed 
such an imputation. True, she was aware, and fully 
aware (through that wonderful intuition which seems 
to be a sixth sense in the feminine composition), that 
whilst Clavering loved Mary with more of the meed of 
affection, perhaps, than the ordinary run of men be- 
stow upon the betrothed, who, they know, will become 
their wives in the conventional style of matrimony, 
it was to her that he turned for companionship in in- 
tellect ; it was to her alone that his conversation was 
directed, whenever his favourite science and its later 
discoveries was the theme. 

There came, too, with this, a perceptible softening 
of manner and an unexpressed confidence in her sym- 
pathy, which increased so steadily that it became at 
length impossible for her not to be cognisant of the 
fact that, had she met Mr Clavering before his intro- 
duction to the Leppells, her good offices in urging her 
friend to accept that gentleman's suit would have 
been superfluous. " It is a great pity," she had once 
gone so far as to admit to herself ; " he and I are just 
suited. It can't be helped now. Let me enjoy his 
society for a short time ; and when Mary is married, 
I will take the first man that asks me. At any rate, 
her home will be another place of refuge from Pin- 
nacles." So ran the current of Miss Fanshawe's most 
secret thoughts at this time. 

Those of Francis Clavering, if put into words, might 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 91 

probably evolve thus : " Mary is no doubt lovely, and 
my wife will be the most admired woman of the next 
London season — Lord Hieover must take us to town 
— but I do wish Moll had more in her, — more educa- 
tion, more love of science. Perhaps it will come. As 
it is, she reminds me forcibly of Undine before her 
soul came to her. Lillian Fanshawe, now, possesses 
both beauty of mind and person, and is in all things 
thoroughly practical. Why, why can't a man marry 
two wives at once ? " 

Here he stopped. Was not the breath of such an 
idea rank treason to Mary ? Besides, had she not 
been won with a wealth of affection and hard money 
down ? Had he not, by unwavering persistence, for 
love of her brought about a reconciliation between 
two lifelong foes ? Was she not the olive-branch, 
the tender white dove, the peace-offering and gift 
given out of the hand of her father, and accepted by 
his benefactor, who had forgotten insult and wrong 
to place her honourably in his arms ? Was there not 
something clue to Everard Glascott, the noble old 
man who had done more for him in this matter than 
had done, or would do, ten thousand of fathers for 
their own sons ? " Stay — Lillian Fanshawe is the 
friend of the Leppell side of the house, the especial 
friend of Mary, the school - companion whom she 
desires that I should admire and cultivate. Let 
it be so : here is a case where a Platonic friend- 
ship is perfectly admissible. Lillian is strong and 
proud, and a woman is all the firmer friend 



92 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

when one never has been, nor never can be, her 
lover." 

So thinking, Mr Clavering corrected a part of the 
manuscript of his intended lecture, which, owing to 
these reflections, was not distinguished for strict geo- 
logical reasoning. The importance of his subject at 
this juncture impressed itself on his mind, and for 
some hours he turned to work with that application 
which alone can command satisfactory results. 

When his task was completed, he carried it to 
Lillian and requested her opinion on its merits. The 
young lady was alone in the little drawing-room, 
seated at the piano ; not playing exactly, but with 
her ri^ht hand striking out strange minor harmonies, 
more mournful than soothing, and looking over a 
newspaper which she held in her left. 

" What ! doin^ two things at the same time ! " ex- 
claimed Frank as he entered. " This is not the 
opportunity to enlist your sympathy, I fear, for I 
came to inflict a third occupation upon you," and he 
held out his manuscript as he spoke. 

"Don't be too certain of that," replied Miss Fan- 
shawe. " Look ; I was reading the review of your 
pamphlet on the mosaic pavement found at Druni- 
chester. I should much like to see the pamphlet 
itself ; but as that is not within reach, I will take your 
manuscript, and so run two occupations into one." 

" It is within reach," replied Mr Clavering decidedly. 
" I sent Mary a copy of it three weeks ago. Haven't 
you seen it ? " 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 93 

"No. Besides, no one in this house cares for 
science, so you must expect that Mary will find all 
matters appertaining to it a little dry. I daresay 
the pamphlet can be found — unless, indeed, it has 
been absorbed into Colonel Leppell's den. In that 

case " 

" It will have made itself useful for lighting cigars 
or rubbing the gums of a bull-terrier pup," replied 
Francis, rushing to conclusions. " I'll go and ask 
Mary about it at once. Do you know where she is ? " 
" Just out on the lawn there, mending targets and 
shooting with the children." 

Mr Clavering stepped out through the French win- 
dow, and looked towards the centre of the lawn. This 
was bounded by a wire-fence which enclosed the 
meadow which lay beyond. 

A beautiful summer meadow, knee-deep in rich 
grass, daisies, buttercups, quaking-grass, the rounded 
crimson clover-flower, the tall bugle full in bloom, 
powdered by the falling blossoms of the fading haw- 
thorn, showing still fair as it covered the floating 
feather-grass, — all sweet things, soon to perish be- 
neath the mower's scythe, and leave only their subtle 
perfume to tell that they once had been. 

An enormous elm-tree flourished on the lawn, round 
the trunk of which a seat had been fixed. Mary 
Leppell sat like a May-queen beneath the branches 
superintending the manufacture of a target, which 
was at the bulging-out period of its formation. Dick 
sat at her feet, a moving mass of twine, straw, paper, 



94 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

paint, feathers, and all manner of rubbish. The 
youngest infant was sleeping on a cushion, with the 
drawing-room's best couvrette spread over its face. Its 
nurse, trusting to Providence, was away flirting with 
a groom in the stable-yard enclosure ; and the penulti- 
mate baby was busy trying to stick some honeysuckle 
into the bull-terrier's ears, — all as happy as happy 
could be. 

"Mary — Moll — here; I want you a moment. I 
can't come out, I am so busy," called out Mr Claver- 
ing, quite in the tone of " the man in possession." 

Away went the target, bull-terrier and child were 
cleared at a bound, Dick was thrown prone to the 
earth, as this gladsome, winsome thing flew past, and 
only stopped to throw her arms round her lover's 
neck. " It was so nice of you to call me like that, 
Frank," said she. " I like it so much better than if 
you had thought it proper to come to me. What do 
you want, dear ? What can I do ? " 

It was seldom that Mary had been so demonstrative. 
A kind of sweet timidity, combined with the feeling 
that she was not clever enough for companionship 
with Mr Clavering, had often caused her to remain 
within her delicate shell. In these days it frequently 
occurs that young ladies of all ranks are too ready to 
come out of their delicate shells to seek admirers — 
going the whole pace, not meeting admirers half-way 
even. Herein is the embryo from which the " girl of 
the period " springs. 

" I hope you won't think me troublesome," Frank 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 95 

said, as he drew the young girl close to him, "but 
I want that pamphlet about the mosaic pavement 
I sent you the other day. Can you put your hand 
upon it ? " 

" "No, that I can't," replied Mary. " I just looked it 
over after cutting the leaves, and saw it was some- 
thing about the Eomans and their camps. You must 
not mind — it's my ignorance ; but I really could not 
read ten lines of it together, and I hoped you would 
not ask anything about it." 

"Very well, that's natural, you golden locks," an- 
swered he, mollified by the honesty of this speech ; 
" but tell me, where did you put the pamphlet ? " 

" Let me think : the last time I saw it, it was on 
the mantel-shelf in the nursery ; it may be there still, 
as there are no fires to light now. But can't you get 
another copy ? " 

" Yes ; but I wish, dear, you would try and interest 
yourself in my writings just a little more. However, 
I will go back to Miss Fanshawe now. I left her 
reading my last effusions, and she must be tired of 
them by this time." 

They passed through the French window into the 
room wherein Miss Fanshawe still retained the same 
place and position. Instead of touching the piano, 
her fingers were now busily employed in marking, 
here and there, with various signs, portions of the 
manuscript concerning which she would presently 
have her say. 

" Oh, here you are ! " exclaimed Mary, coming close 



96 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

to her friend. " Frank has shown his sense in giving 
you his performances to look over. Is this easier than 
the pamphlet ? " inquired she, as she looked towards 
Mr Clavering. 

" It is quite a different thing," replied that gentle- 
man. "Never mind about the pamphlet — I can do 
without it." 

He had not deemed it necessary to state that this 
emanation of his brain was required solely for Miss 
Fanshawe's delectation, and, in order to check further 
remark or inquiry, he plunged into the subject of his 
article. Lillian saw, at a glance, that the pamphlet 
was not forthcoming, and maintained a silence which, 
to Clavering, was as intelligible as uttered speech. 
She looked straight into his eyes, and all was said. 
" You need not have troubled yourself, — I could have 
told you that the book was either in the fire or in the 
dust-hole. Depend upon it, you throw away your 
glory in this direction." All this the mute intelli- 
gence of Miss Fanshawe's eyes conveyed to the sense 
of Francis Clavering. 

Mary went back to her brothers, rather thankful 
to leave these two to their own devices ; and these 
two talked and read, and comported themselves 
generally, as if some secret understanding existed 
between them, the nature of which they neither 
wished nor cared to analyse. So sped on the after- 
noon of this summer day till evening fell. 

And Mary, " heavenly Moll," fresh, true, and inno- 
cent, without an arri&re penste in the world concerning 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 97 

anybody or anything, — was her spirit disturbed, or 
did any apprehension agitate her breast, as she saw 
daily the intercourse between her lover and her friend 
assuming a more exclusive character, and found also 
that the nature of their conversation was often such 
as to preclude her from taking any part in it ? Not 
in the least. Loving Clavering as she did, with calm, 
honest affection, and reverencing his talents as if he 
were almost a deity to be worshipped' — above all, un- 
conscious of evil, it was almost impossible that the 
demon of jealousy could invade a heart crystallised 
in its own purity, and at the same time too proud, 
perhaps, to entertain a single envious thought. 

To have secured the affection of this brilliant man 
was a special blessing in this young girl's eyes, and 
the position of becoming his wife was, in a great 
measure, not only a source of self-congratulation, but 
somewhat also of wonder and astonishment. 

The advanced arts were little known and less appre- 
ciated in Miss Leppell's immediate family, and thus it 
was to her as if one of the wise men of Greece, or 
Solomon himself, had alighted at her feet when Claver- 
ing made his marriage proposals for her to Colonel 
Leppell. This man, with whose name all the scientific 
world was ringing, who lectured here and lectured 
there, whose presence frequent telegrams from all parts 
of Great Britain were constantly soliciting, and upon 
whose opinion many members of the scientific world 
based their conclusions,— this man was indeed unto 
her the personification of one who had eaten of the 

VOL. II. G 



98 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

apple of Eden, and thus held the knowledge of good 
and evil — and lived. 

No wonder, then, that, cherishing such opinions, 
Miss Leppell found much satisfaction in the fact 
that Frank could meet with a congenial mind in 
the society of her friend, Lillian Fanshawe, and so 
enjoy a literary symposium which her own humble 
intellect could neither grasp nor fathom. Had Mary 
Leppell at that time been capable of feeling and 
evincing an alarmed jealousy, strange to say, many 
bitter pangs in after-life would have been spared her. 
Concerning what she believed to be friendship, arising 
from love of herself, on the part of Francis and Lil- 
lian, no suspicion nor anxious thought ever entered. 

There was one person, however, who viewed the 
march and exclusiveness of this friendship with a 
surprise which soon turned to apprehension, if not 
to positive alarm. What can escape a mother's eye ? 
Mrs Leppell had, on more than one occasion, fancied 
that the deference which Mr Clavering paid to her 
daughter's friend was rather more tender than is 
customary in the case of a man who is affianced to 
a lovely girl — so lovely that she might command any 
number of admirers, and those, too, of the highest 
" status " in society. Mrs Leppell, to do her justice, 
bravely put back her suspicions at the outset, and 
communed from a common-sense point of view with 
her perplexed spirit. 

" Is this girl not Mary's early friend ? " argued she ; 
" and was not Mary so anxious that Lillian should be 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 99 

invited to remain here during Mr Clavering's stay 
in the neighbourhood ? Above all, did not Lillian 
urge the match when my daughter was wavering, and 
even reluctant ? " 

Thus the good woman reasoned her fears away. 
One problem, however, persistently haunted her, nor 
could she find any clue towards its solution. If Miss 
Fanshawe were not so attractive in person as well as 
learned in mind, would Francis Clavering be at so 
much trouble in fetching and carrying little lumps 
of granite, and goodness knows what other lumps 
besides these, and weighting the pockets of his 
shooting-coat with knobs of stone, and little ham- 
mers wherewith to smash them up, and all for Lillian 
Fanshawe's opinion thereon ? He apparently, also, 
felt no qualms whatever in striding about the country 
with a faded green-baize ba^ over his shoulder, in 
which Dick Leppell (Clavering's boy-friend in the 
family) averred that he kept all kinds of wonder- 
ments. 

One fine morning Mrs Leppell watched the pair, 
as, with this green bag on the floor, a lump of gneiss 
and a work on geology in their hands, they sat at a 
small table in the deep recess of a window, and 
expatiated upon something unusual or peculiar in 
the conformation of the specimen which lay before 
them. 

Mrs Leppell was occupied in dusting and arranging 
the remains of some very valuable and much-cracked 
and much-mended old china, — a remnant that had 



100 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

survived the successive tornadoes in the Leppell 
drawing-room, when the Colonel had thought fit to 
expedite the departure of children or dogs by hurling 
anything that came to hand in the air, and hurling 
it regardless of direction. (It was only a year before 
that old Lady Asher had escaped being brained by 
throwing herself flat on the hearth-rug, and thus 
allowing a good-sized musical-box, aimed at Fritz, 
to pass over her head and crash into an Indian bowl.) 
Some jars, a few good plates, and a pilgrim's bottle, 
were now the only sound representatives of what had 
originally been a fair collection of china. 

But it was the cracked little cups, and the muti- 
lated little monsters, and the egg-china of Japan, 
to which the soul of Mrs Leppell clung. A niche 
mounted with shelves, and lined with blue velvet, 
was now the sacred tomb of these relics; and it 
was with a sort of tremor lest in these she should 
find evidence of a recent spill, or of coming to pieces 
in the hand, for which no one but the cat could or 
would be accountable, that Mrs Leppell proceeded to 
inspect these relics. 

Standing at this shrine, Mrs Leppell thus came in 
for the full benefit of the geological discussion ; and 
further, for convincing herself that no shadow of 
suspicion nor anxiety had entered her daughter's 
mind, for Mary was now in the room, and was mak- 
ing merry at the expense of the two students anent 
their devotion to geology. 

" Oh, that is the little hammer, is it, with which you 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 101 

go about the country smashing up the stones and 
breaking rocks to smithereens ? " said Miss Leppell, 
trying to speak with sarcasm. "You might set up 
for an auctioneer, Frank, and so successfully combine 
two businesses. What is this ? and this ? " inquired 
she, as she dived into the green-baize bag and brought 
out two or three specimens. " Do enlighten my ignor- 
ance. Which is pudding-stone ? " 

"Not a specimen of it here, dear," replied Frank. 
" Here is a pretty bit, and the name of it is not diffi- 
cult — mica." 

The mother watched from the plate she was hold- 
ing up to the light. " Lillian looks as if she did not 
like the interruption," thought she. " I don't know ; 
she is making room for Mary to be seated. I am 
wrong after all." 

She was right and she was wrong, both at the same 
moment. Miss Fanshawe had perceived Mrs Leppell's 
eyes looking over the plate, and she thereupon ex- 
ecuted the piece of generalship which had discomfited 
her hostess. No electric light could have flashed 
intelligence more thoroughly. Miss Fanshawe, sweet 
and calm, read as from an open book the meaning 
of Mrs Leppell's presence there, and very much also 
what was passing in the mind of that lady. So she 
put into force that sleight of action which is vulgarly 
called " throwing dust into people's eyes." 

" Now that we have got Mary captive, let us give 
her a first lesson in geology, Mr Clavering," said she ; 
" or better, do you teach us both. I am only in the 



102 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

primer myself, as you know, and at the stage wherein 
a return to first principles would be a step in the 
right direction. You should try and learn a little 
about the matter, dear," continued Miss Fanshawe, 
with the air of a matron of forty, "for you will in 
time, I daresay, have to copy out Mr Clavering's 
lectures for him ; and it would be so much easier for 
you if you understood a little of the subject. Don't 
you agree with me ? " 

" I would get through any quantity of writing or 
copying or anything else for Frank that I can do," 
was the reply ; " but these stones, and their names, 
and where they come from, I really do not care about, 
nor never shall. I prefer things which grow on the 
earth, you know, and something that has life, — flowers 
and fruit, and something that can return one's regard ; 
the pony — my dear doggie, — they are far nicer than 
a pack of stones." 

Francis looked very significantly at Lillian during 
this peroration. If the look may be interpreted, it 
meant to say, " Do you hear that ? flowers and the 
dog preferred to my objects of study and interest ; 
only listen to the crass frivolity which these remarks 
exhibit." The mother caught the look, and from sheer 
nervousness rattled her plate against the head of a 
shaky little bonze. Her feeling, this time, was that 
of indignation against Miss Fanshawe, because she 
remained as impervious to this look as did the wall 
behind her. Not a sign made she that she had even 
observed Mr Clavering, and Frank on his part felt 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 103 

sure that his significant expression had fallen un- 
heeded into space. 

Such telegraphic intimations are seldom repeated, 
and Mr Clavering turned without remark to the first 
pages of the work before him and began to point out 
the illustrations which adorned it, and to pronounce 
distinctly the names of the substances to which the 
drawings referred. 

Mrs Leppell was further aggravated when Lillian, 
after looking at the lovers for a moment with an air of 
approbation, rose from her chair with the utmost 
deliberation, and walking straight towards the niche, 
inquired in a sweet cool manner if she could assist her 
hostess in arranging or dusting the precious china. 

Mrs Leppell for a moment felt inclined to refuse 
the proffered aid, and that somewhat sharply, but a 
glance at the recess mollified her as she beheld Mary 
in her legitimate place, leaning on Clavering's shoulder, 
whilst he twisted a strand of her long bright hair round 
a piece of malachite stone, and thus held the young 
lady fast. 

So the mother waxed gracious and replied, " I have 
nearly finished now ; but I would be glad if you can 
suggest any plan for mending this crack before it 
becomes a fissure. I am tired of diamond cement, 
for, to say the truth, I have never been able to make 
it serviceable." 

""When a thing becomes thoroughly cracked and 
tarnished, I give it up for good," replied Miss Fan- 
shawe ; " but I am no authority on these matters, as 



104 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

I infinitely prefer the beautiful china of modern 
manufacture. After this confession, will you trust 
this cup to me when I go to town ? There is a shop 
in Eegent Street where they mend these things in a 
professional manner." 

Mrs Leppell replied that "of course she would," 
and her late apprehensions were further quenched as 
she heard Mary call out, " Come back, Lillian ; this 
wicked fellow, this scientific deceiver, is teaching me 
all wrong. He is trying to make me call this lump 
' Nice ' (gneiss), as if I did not know that Nice was in 
France." 

"It ought to be pronounced ms" returned Miss 
Fanshawe, with decision, "as you would pronounce 
the German word mein." 

Francis admitted that she was right. " He wanted," 
he said, " to bring Mary nearer the pronunciation by 
naming a town which must be familiar to her. At 
any rate, Miss Leppell had the satisfaction of seeing 
him discomfited by her friend, and now we will go to 
work in earnest." He added, " Take this gneiss ; here 
is the illustration, here is the specimen. I want you 
to learn a little, Mary," he said impressively; "for 
'heavenly Moll' will have to grow older, just as other 
earthly angels have done before her, and I wish my 
little girl to be a highly educated as well as a pretty 
woman." 

There was just a tinge of reproach in Mr Clavering's 
tone of voice which exasperated Mrs Leppell. " He is 
bitten with this education craze for women," thought 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 105 

she ; much good may it do him. Again Lillian threw 
soothing oil over the changeful chopping waves of Mrs 
Leppell's soul, as she declared that the very look of 
scientific names, especially those of geology, were 
enough to scare the strongest -minded female from 
approaching that study. "You learned folks," con- 
tinued Miss Fanshawe, turning towards Mr Clavering, 
" always expect too much from the mere outsiders of 
science ; ordinary mortals cannot attain knowledge 
by intuition. I shall horrify you dreadfully by- 
and-by, and then Mary will have the laugh at me." 

" Let us hasten the fulfilment of that prophecy by 
all means," returned Mr Clavering. "Just now, I 
should be more than obliged if you will classify these 
specimens according to this list, and affix the proper 
labels upon them. I want them to be ready for my 
lecture at the School of Science at Birmingham." 

" Will you have to go soon ? " inquired Mary. " I 
do hope you will not be away on Tuesday, for Fritz 
and I have been planning out a riding picnic to 
a place which is ' rich in geological formations,' as 
your scientific books have it, and where you can 
hammer at the places to your heart's content, as I 
have it." 

" Much obliged ; my lecture is set down for Thurs- 
day in next week. I follow Professor Deepdene, who 
reads a paper on the Pleistocene formation. I shan't 
leave to hear him, for I don't agree with his views 
altogether," continued the young man, sententiously, 
"so it is not likely that Deepdene will add to my 



106 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

knowledge very much, as he is obstinately wedded to 
his own opinion." 

" Professor Deepdene ! " exclaimed Mary. " Why, 
Frank, I have often heard him spoken of as being 
one of the most scientific men of the age. Yes; he 
was clown here a year ago to speak at a meeting of 
the Margarine Society, and he stayed with those fussy 
gossiping Braintrees. I was so sorry for the old gen- 
tleman, because that impudent Sarah Braintree never 
rested till she dragged him all the way up the Cathe- 
dral tower stairs, to enjoy the view at five in the morn- 
ing. How I abhor that girl ! and I daresay the 
Professor did too ; but perhaps we do not refer to the 
same man." 

"Yes, we do," returned Clavering, coolly. "Deep- 
dene is just the man to be victimised by an awful girl, 
because he has not the savoir /aire to evade unwelcome 
feminine attentions. I heard of his having been down 
here when I was in Etriiria, and also that he played 
Triton amongst the minnows with great success ; still 
he does not progress with the age." 

" Progress with the age ! do the stones and the 
gneiss and the malachite progress with the age ? 
Ah ! " cried Mary, " it would be good for large 
families if the pudding-stone were to evolve into 
good solid pastry, apples and all. How the house- 
keepers would reverence pudding - stone then ! Eh, 
mother ? " 

Mrs Leppell was approaching the trio, and Frank, 
in consequence, restrained an expression of impatience 



SCIENCE AND CUPID. 107 

which was hovering on his lips. He was silent for 
another reason also : it was astonishment to find that 
Mary was capable of apt and ready repartee. 

" You are all apparently going to be busy for this 
lecture, I see," Mrs Leppell said ; " I only come to 
warn you that if any of you want a horse for the 
afternoon, you had better secure it now. Colonel 
Leppell, for some unknown reason, has lent the best 
horses in all directions ; but Mysie, Dick says, has been 
left, and one of the ponies, which either of you young 
ladies might ride. What do you say, Mr Clavering ? " 

" Secure and ride Mysie, by all means. This will 
be a splendid afternoon in which to go over to Dilke's 
Folly. "What do you say, Moll ? I want to examine 
the crags there, only I am afraid it will bore you. It 
will be hard on you, so much ' dry work ' in one day, 
so name your own road." 

" You never bore me," the girl answered simply ; 
" but I won't pretend to take an interest in what does 
not please me for its own sake. I won't ride this 
afternoon, for mother requires my help, and Dilke's 
Folly is newer to Lillian, and a ride is such a treat to 
her. Another time I will take you a ride of my own 
choosing, and in that direction when the gipsies camp 
there again, and you can have the benefit of having 
your fortune told into the bargain. I should like to 
hear a gipsy prophesying smooth things to you, Frank, 
out of the stones," and she rocked his shoulder gently 
as she spoke. 

" If you were a stone, you would evolve at once into 



108 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

an angel were a fairy to touch you," replied Francis, 
as he turned back his head and looked at this charming 
creature. "We will go gipsying some day, with a 
vengeance. Now, I would really be glad to examine 
these crags scientifically, so much will turn on that 
Birmingham lecture ; and as Miss Fanshawe is really 
interested in the science, I should be grateful for a fel- 
low-worker. • Will you honour me, Miss Fanshawe ? " 

" Certainly," replied that lady, in a matter-of-fact 
tone ; " and you make it the more complimentary by 
accepting me as a substitute for Mary." 

" I begin to feel as if I were a rose between two 
thorns," replied Mr Clavering, laughingly. 

" Well, don't prick yourself any longer," exclaimed 
Miss Leppell ; " hear a little domestic fact. Papa and 
the cook had a difference of opinion this morning, and 
papa is on the war-path and on the other side of the 
county by this time, I daresay; so you will be two 
dear people if you will take yourselves out of the way. 
Mother and Clara and I must do some domestic work, 
for, as ill-luck will have it, the Eose Prims are coming 
to dinner. Mother did not like to mention this ; now, 
do you understand ? " 



109 



CHAPTEE VI. 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 



" I understand that the cook has caused a revolu- 
tion in the establishment," Mr Clavering replied, in 
answer to the query which Miss Leppell had put, in 
so searching a manner that he felt his powers of in- 
tuition to be decidedly challenged ; " but which else 
is the matter ? " 

" The Colonel, of course," replied that gentleman's 
daughter; " he is always 'the matter' in this household. 
He tramped through the kitchen this morning when 
the maids were at breakfast without knocking at the 
door, and desired cook to get some blue-stone for one 
of the horse's backs, and to look sharp and find it, in 
his usual peremptory manner, I daresay." 

" ISTo doubt of that, I should imagine," remarked 
Colonel Leppell's intended relative with a laugh. 

" Cook," went on Miss Leppell, " stuck to her seat, 
and informed the Colonel that she was not a black 
slave, and furthermore, that she was not accustomed 
to allow people to come into her kitchen wearing 



110 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

muddy boots and spurs, and without their first knock- 
ing at the door for permission to enter ; whereupon 
papa swore at her " 

" I'll be bound he did," interrupted Mr Clavering. 

" Well, cook immediately gave notice of instant de- 
parture, adding (and this was the sting in the bee), 
' In future, Colonel, I intend to live where my soul is 
attended to.' " 

" That, after family prayers and your father's ex- 
poundings, was really too bad," Frank made reply. 
He had attended one or two of these matutinal 
assemblages by especial request, and had gone near 
to quarrel with Colonel Leppell because he held 
different views from that officer concerning the length 
of the Mosaical day. As this opinion had furnished 
a pretext for the Colonel to preach on the first chapter 
of Genesis, Mr Clavering had, as the effect of that 
exposition, elected to think and to speak sarcasti- 
cally of his future father-in-law's theology ; so he 
said — 

"I suppose cook has never had the good fortune to 
be made the object of any special preachment, as I 
have been, consequently she may think that her soul 
was lost sight of entirely. But, seriously, cannot you 
put off the Eose Prims ? " 

" Why, no," answered Mrs Leppell; "they have only 
lately become our tenants, and Mr Eose Prim is will- 
ing to allow some of that stuff which is good for 
horses to be sown in the fields on the little farm down 
near the river. This, of course, is a convenience to 



A COUNTEY WEDDING. Ill 

us ; but I don't think, socially, that they will be any 
acquisition." 

"Mr Prim grunts when he speaks, and the wife 
makes one's back ache to look at her," quoth Mary. 

" Mrs Eose Prim is an uncomfortably good woman," 
said Mrs Leppell. " She means well, but she has 
offended my children by calling this place ' Scamp 
Covert,' and still more deeply, by forbidding her son 
to play with our boys." 

" That precious young Measley ! " exclaimed Dick, 
who had entered the room unperceived and in time to 
supply some valuable information. 

" What about Measley ? " said Frank. " Is he a 
1 prim ' in the uncomfortable sense of the word ? " 

" Worse," replied Dick ; " he is a cowardly little 
beast. However, I got hold of him last week down 
at the Swallow's ford, and collared him tight." 

" Did you choke the little wretch ? " asked Mary. 

"No ; but I held his head close to a stone just under 
water till he kicked again. When he had had enough 
I whacked him, and made him swear by the bones of 
our old Ponto that we are the best-behaved family on 
the face of the earth, and that it is balm in Gilead to 
hear the governor vociferate in the hunt." 

" Dick, for shame ! " exclaimed his mother ; " had 
I known that, I should have been very angry with 
you." 

" But you see you didn't, ma ; and, besides, there 
was nobody there but our two selves. I frightened 
Measley properly, but I did not really hurt him ; and 



112 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

I was "ood enough to tell him that when we asked 
him to play with us again, he could refuse. The 
little beggar has been very civil ever since." 

" What brings you in here at this time, Dick ? " in- 
quired Mary. 

" Only to know about Mysie," the lad replied. " It 
is a whole holiday to-day, so I have nothing parti- 
cular to do. If any of you want Mysie, I will groom 
her and take her down to the laundry." 

" Take her down to the laundry," repeated Mr 
Clavering, looking up from his specimens ; " what on 
earth for ? " 

" Why, you see," exclaimed Master Dick, " the 
governor may pop back, and he may not. If he 
returns, the first thing he'll do will be to go at once 
to the stables : then if his eye falls on a decent-look- 
ing beast, he is safe to want it." 

" What has that to do with the laundry ? " asked 
Frank. 

" The laundry is a sort of old cottage among the 
laurels there, and it has a coal-place into which a 
moderate-sized horse will just fit. When we want to 
secure a beast for ourselves we take it down there, 
and pop a large clothes-rack full of sheets in front of 
the opening. Fritz knocked in a ring to tie a crea- 
ture to ; but a vicious mare ate up a lot of washing 
things one day — didn't she, ma ? " 

" Yes ; and a fine state of annoyance the laundry- 
maid was in. I am sure the servants are very good- 
natured, for they put up with so much from you boys, 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 113 

and never complain of you to your father," said Mrs 
Leppell. 

" Oh, they like to be teased — at least the maids do," 
quoth Dick. " I wish the Colonel had not offended 
the cook, though, for though she did flare up at times, 
she always had a bit of tart or something nice to give 
us : but we will never keep a decent servant as long 
as the governor lives." 

" Will you go and see after Mysie at once ? " said 
Mrs Leppell, with the view of cutting Master Dick's 
comments short. " I suppose," she continued, " the 
ponies are left." 

" Oh yes ; pa would not condescend to look at them, 
so they may remain where they are. I may perhaps 
give them a touch," continued Dick, patronisingly, and 
then he went off to help the groom. 

The morning hours went by ; assistance had been 
procured from the village, and Mrs Leppell breathed 
more freely. 

The Colonel, happily, did not return ; and after one 
of those comfortable scrap -luncheons, which, if en- 
countered impromptu, form one of the most enjoyable 
of our repasts, the equestrians went forth. 

Looking approvingly at the pair as they rode away, 
Mary Leppell thanked her stars that her friend had so 
decided a bent towards geology, and further, that she 
did not mind riding an unkempt-looking pony, and 
was never tired of Frank's scientific talks. So she, 
after standing for a moment in the porch, re-entered 
the house satisfied and content. 

VOL. II. H 



11-4 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

"What a comfort Lillian will be to me in the 
future," thought she. 

So days and hours sped away, and then came the 
short-lived bustle of wedding preparations, and finally 
the wedding-day itself. It was a quiet, elegant affair, 
its great charm being that nothing was overdone, and 
the absence of all pretension seemed to make every- 
body happy and at their ease. Old Lord Hieover, at 
the eleventh hour, elected to be present : this, it was 
alleged by his son, the Colonel, was in consequence of 
no pressure having been brought to bear upon the 
Viscount concerning his opinions or intentions on the 
matter. " My father will come, or he will stay away, 
just as it may please him," Ealph had said to his 
wife ; " he has had a respectful invitation, and there's 
an end of it. But I forbid you or Mary to write again, 
or make it a matter of the slightest consequence 
whether the Viscount puts in an appearance or not." 

"Mary had, a very nice letter from your brother 
Alick only last night," said Mrs Leppell, " apprising 
her that a parcel is on the way here containing her 
wedding-present from him. He seems to be very 
unwell, and I think he is really sorry he cannot be 
present at the wedding." 

The gift arrived in the shape of a magnificent lace 
veil, and within the packet was a little fancy purse 
containing fifty sovereigns. " Now, after this," Willina 
Clavering had remarked, "never do you call your 
uncle mean or close-fisted." Mary laughed and sighed, 
and finally wore the veil with her bridal attire, to the 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 115 

immense delight, as she afterwards was informed, of 
Uncle Alick, the donor. 

The Viscount did come, as has been stated, and 
brought a handsome silver tea-service in his train for 
the bride. The old gentleman was greatly delighted 
at his own perspicacity in being the first of the family 
to seek the acquaintance of Mr Clavering, and he took 
care to make Mr Glascott aware of the fact. " Saw 
from the first, sir," he averred to that gentleman, — 
" saw from the first what was in Mr Clavering : recog- 
nised his talent, and made a point — a special point — 
of having him at Hieover, sir. A rising man, sir — 
will make his own way in the world ; and, above all, 
he will bring- practical ideas into the family." 

And then he turned to lovely Mary, as she came 
to greet him in affection and duty, before she was 
led out from her father's house to be made a wife. 
" grandpapa ! " she exclaimed, " what a pleasant 
surprise you have given me ! I am so glad to see 
you, — my wedding will now be quite perfect. I am 
so happy now." 

It was a pretty sight, the bride standing on the 
landing-place in the sheen of satin and the shimmer 
of pearl, extending her arms to the old man, and the 
bridesmaids trooping from out the chamber behind 
her, all clad in innocent white, to which their own 
fair young beauty lent an additional charm. Lillian 
Fanshawe, unusually pale, but with a presence that 
was almost imperial, was looking her very best, and 
stood in fine relief to Willina Clavering, in whom 



116 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

pleasure and satisfaction showed themselves in the rich 
red of her smiling lips, and the soft healthy tinge of 
her cheek. Then the little troop of Leppell sisters, 
small and large, radiant in the good looks which, the 
tradition of many years informs us, were bestowed by 
the beneficent fairies for ever on all the race of the 
house of Hieover, and to which satin ribbons and 
muslin dress and sweet blush-roses lent their added 
charm, contributed a most effective body-guard. 

Nor would it be fair to pass over the dogs' part in 
the family grouping : for at Hunter's Lodge these 
people — yes, they are people — formed a very com- 
ponent item in the establishment. They were there 
loved for their own sake, just as so many of us like 
them for sake's sake ; and in that home they sym- 
pathised in the joys and mourned the sorrows of 
their owners, just because the opportunity to do so 
was afforded them, and therefore these persons were to 
be remembered on Mary's wedding-day. 

The redoubtable bull -terrier pup careered in the 
flower-beds, arrayed in a white satin ruff which had 
been stitched upon him, and which he was popularly 
supposed to have devoured half an hour after his 
toilet had been completed, and when he had re- 
ceived the last finishing -touch from Dick Leppell's 
hair-brush. The ruff was never seen again; but what 
did it matter ? he was so happy. " He knows all about 
it," quoth the lad ; " he knows it's Mary's wedding- 
day, bless you ! " 

Then the Skye-terrier, who also knew all about it, 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 117 

was outfitted with a white satin bow as big as a pan- 
cake, and stood half the day besides on his hind legs, 
begging for the bridal cake which nauseated him ; and 
the great collie-dog, with her dear soft eyes, was al- 
lowed for the first time in her life to walk up-stairs 
to visit "our heavenly Moll," and to be made lucky 
for ever from the first pat of a girl in her wedding- 
dress — when the sun was shining fair. 

Very trivial, and very small, these innocent conceits 
may appear to some of us ; but oh, when the sharp 
rain of disappointment pelts its hail into our cup of 
life, and when the chilling mists of disillusion breathe 
their tarnish on the golden bowl, then do these little 
incidents return to remembrance : and if the wedding- 
day must be recalled as the first act of a lifelong 
mistake, be assured that, even amid regrets and tears, 
these fond conceits will evoke a smile, and go far, 
perhaps, to soften the bitterness which blighted pros- 
pects may have unconsciously called forth. 

And, after all, we are mostly very jealous and very 
tender of those conceits which are purely the emana- 
tions of a great love towards ourselves. Mary Leppell 
never forgot the trouble the boys had taken to get the 
family pets trimmed up for her wedding-day. Every 
horse in the stable, too, underwent an extra grooming, 
and there was general rejoicing inside and outside the 
gates of Hunter's Lodge ; and even poor stricken Lady 
Asher struggled up from her pillows, and insisted 
upon being covered with some kind of festive array. 

" I am not going to resign my place," said the 



118 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Viscount to the Colonel, as he conducted his grand- 
daughter to the foot of the staircase where Balph 
was standing to receive her. " Let me take the child 
to church," the old man continued, in a beseeching 
tone ; " I have a fancy to do so. Remember it was at 
Hieover that these young people first met, — I intro- 
duced Mr Clavering myself to Mary." 

Colonel Leppell hesitated a moment : in his heart 
of hearts he very much objected to bestow his 
daughter on Mr Clavering, for he disliked the 
match, and he disliked the connection fully as 
much. The whole thing and its manner of coming 
about was repugnant to him, and he had only yielded, 
as we know, from force of circumstances. 

His hesitation proceeded partly from surprise, partly 
also from some apprehension as to how this would ap- 
pear in the eyes of the world, and of Mr Glascott. A 
moment's reflection, however, decided him on the last 
point: he would get Adelaide to tell the latter that 
he could not find it in his heart to refuse an old man, 
and his own father, a gratification upon which he was 
resolutely bent. 

Mr Glascott would appreciate filial respect — which 
was true enough; and he would also appreciate the 
Viscount's offices in giving Miss Leppell to his cousin — 
which was untrue enough : all that Mr Glascott really 
cared for was that Francis Clavering should obtain 
the wife of his choice, by respectable means of course, 
and in the conventional manner of society in general 
— that was enough for him. 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 119 

" Do, papa," said Mary ; " and mamma will be so 
pleased if you will give your arm to her. Then you 
can walk next after us, and it will be all the same 
thincr." 

This was arranged, and the procession set forth, filing 
through the garden, down the meadow, afoot, for it 
would have been affectation to have had carriages for 
so short a distance, and in the glorious weather, 
moreover, of midsummer- day. 

Marcia La Touche's rich dress of pea -green silk, 
whereon was depicted a lattice-work upon which 
climbed gorgeous birds of every shape and hue, formed 
a brilliant contrast to the simple colours and white 
dresses adopted by the younger ladies, and provided 
at the same time a curious ornithological study to 
Mr Glascott, who walked behind her, conveying Mrs 
Canon Braintree on his arm. 

That lady was arrayed in violet silk, and looked 
well ; but she had her troubles in a vain attempt to 
reduce to order a peculiarly unmanageable feather, 
which art had placed in her bonnet, but which 
nature, in an unhandsome freak, would persist in 
sweeping over her brow and occasionally dipping 
into her eye. 

Mrs Braintree, goaded to desperation, at length bent 
the ornament in twain, and so it hung at the side of 
her head, with that unhappy expression which a 
damaged feather, in whatever form, always manages 
to present to the gaze of a beholder. However, it did 
not signify, as no human being living had ever known 



120 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Mrs Braintree in a perfect toilet, although her 
raiment was generally good of its kind, and she spent 
more money upon it than did many a fashionable 
woman of her standing and pretensions. 

Percival La Touche, carefully excluded, through Miss 
Clavering's management, from the ranks of bride-men 
and bride-maids, escorted Miss Braintree, at which 
arrangement neither of the pair seemed to be par- 
ticularly well pleased. However, they had the consol- 
ation of knowing that this forced propinquity was 
not for life, and they therefore accepted the situation 
as their trial pace, previous to a ceremony in which 
each of them hoped and intended to act as principal 
performer at no distant date. 

The church is at length reached, and Mr Clavering 
advances with his groomsman to meet the procession. 
He is perfectly composed and self-possessed, and has 
given his companion a mauvais quart -dlwure, by 
claiming that gentleman's undivided attention to a 
plan of warming the church by means of an apparatus 
of his own invention. The groomsman, who much 
preferred to scan the pretty village girls who 
crowded the gallery to see the ceremony, had little 
inclination to observe where a stove might be placed, 
or where a hot-air pipe might be run up, and was 
particularly delighted when the sexton (who had been 
listening to the propositions) burst out with : " Lord 
bless 'ee, sir ! we should ha' the whole place alight 
like a brick-kiln. This church ain't going to perish by 
fire — no, no ; a's sinking down gradual in the earth, 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 121 

and Passon Vane says as how a's already three feet 
below the proper level." 

" This is a very old church, is it not ? " inquired the 
groomsman. 

" A is, sir ; a was built in the reign of Eichard the 
Second, and was dedicated to St Lawrence — the grid- 
iron saint, sir, as likely you knows. But here they 
comes. Now then, all on ye stand quiet " (addressing 
the people in the gallery) ; " and you, Mr Carter " (ad- 
dressing the schoolmaster), "please strike up a jyful 
song of praise as soon as you sees the first on 'em 
come in." 

As Mr Carter was behind the little organ, which 
was tall and thin in its construction, a small boy was 
told off to make the necessary investigation, and in 
another minute the whoop of this young gentleman 
made it apparent that the time had arrived when the 
"jyful" strain should peal forth ; and it did peal forth 
with all the " timbre " that the performer could com- 
mand. 

" A thanksgiving for getting a husband," observed 
one of the girls in the gallery to her friend ; " maybe 
it will bring us luck, for lovers are so scarce. Who 
knows ? " 

A slight bustle ; a little marshalling and ordering ; 
then deep silence, and Mr Fane, without any ex- 
traneous assistance, performed the rite which made 
these two — Francis Clavering and Mary Leppell — 
man and wife. It was remarked that during the 
whole ceremony the Colonel remained mute and 



122 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

almost motionless, and that when it was concluded 
he made no attempt to salute his daughter. Mrs 
Leppell, not knowing very well what to do, did not 
venture to move towards the vestry; and Lillian 
Fanshawe, usually so self-possessed and so ready to 
meet every emergency, stood still, looking at the 
newly married pair, shaking in every limb, and her 
face drawn in a deadly pallor. At that moment she 
could not have moved had her life depended on it. 

The common - sense of Mrs Braintree here acted 
most usefully. She advanced towards the bride, and, 
taking her hand, led her to her mother. 

Their embrace was the signal for a universal move, 
and Ealph, recovering himself, shook hands with Mr 
Clavering and then with Mr Glascott. After the 
customary business of signing the register in the 
vestry, the procession returned to the house, and the 
wedding-breakfast took place forthwith. 

This feast went off with great hilarity. The speeches, 
as had been stipulated beforehand, were delightfully 
brief, and the Colonel was charmed when Mr Glascott, 
in proposing the health of Viscount Hieover and that 
of all his family, dexterously introduced the name of 
that absent member, Marmaduke Leppell, to public 
recognition. 

The Viscount responded to the toast, and remarked 
that as Marmaduke was at that moment paying the 
penalty for his indiscretion in the matter of his own 
marriage, by an enforced absence at the bidding of the 
law, it would be worse than unkind if he and the 



A COUNTEY WEDDING. 123 

company then present omitted to offer him their good 
wishes for the future. " We are none of us perfect," 
the Viscount continued, benevolently, " and on an oc- 
casion like this, we are all, I think, naturally led to 
palliate the mistakes of the absent, and those of the 
young more especially." 

Thus the health of Mr and Mrs Marmaduke Lep- 
pell was drank with all the honours. 

Ealph, although agitated by secret annoyance, which 
the presence of Mr Glascott considerably increased, 
certainly drew a good augury from this speech. It 
proved to him that whatever the Viscount might 
choose to do or say against Marmaduke in private, 
he was not the man to depreciate his own kith and 
kin on a public occasion like the present — for public 
it might be considered, as several acquaintances from 
Yarne and the neighbourhood, who were not included 
in the invitation to the marriage ceremony, were pre- 
sent at the breakfast. 

As the state of Lady Asher's health precluded the 
possibility of a dance, it had been settled, at the 
eleventh hour, that a picnic to the neighbouring castle 
of Barkholme and its woods would be a capital en- 
tertainment wherewith to conclude the programme of 
the day ; and as the newly married pair were bound 
for Paris, and the train-service demanded early de- 
parture, the travelling-carriage was at the door at one 
o'clock precisely. 

The bride went to see Lady Asher as soon as her 
travelling-dress was donned, and in the privacy of her 



124 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

grandmother's apartment did Mary take a fond and 
affectionate leave of her mother, comforting her with 
the assurance that she was really happy, and bidding 
her to abstain from all anxiety on her account. 
" Frank is not very demonstrative, I know," the girl 
said ; " but it is his nature, and perhaps that is better 
than a great show of affection at first." 

Mrs Leppell replied that this was quite true ; and 
after a kiss to grandmamma, the rest of the adieux 
were made, and the travelling-carriage of Mr and Mrs 
Clavering disappeared through the gates of Hunter's 
Lodge. 

Now all was hurry and bustle for the picnic, for 
the remains of the bridal feast were partly to furnish 
the cold baked meats of the next entertainment. The 
excitement of getting the carriages in order, and filling 
them suitably, was an agreeable diversion to Colonel 
Leppell, and the prospect of driving his coach, and 
handling the wildest team in the county, raised his 
spirits considerably. Mrs Leppell was to remain at 
home and take care of her mother ; whilst Prothero, 
and the nurses, and the babies, should preside at a 
high tea given in the village to every one who might 
choose to attend it. 

Lord Hieover, on leaving, gave a handsome sum for 
this purpose, and taking the Colonel aside, he presented 
him with a cheque for one hundred pounds, expressing 
himself at the same time highly satisfied with the 
manner in which everything had been conducted. " ISTo 
outrageous show, no absurd expense, quite the proper 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 125 

thing for a daughter who is marrying a simple gentle- 
man. I am very much pleased." 

So also was his grandson Dick, who received a pat 
on the head and the gift of a guinea. It was a sight 
to see Dick in the clog-cart with two other choice 
spirits, and the stable dogs, Flames and Blazer, career- 
ing up and down the highroad, all impatience to take 
the lead of the picnic procession as soon as the won- 
derful coach could be proclaimed ready for business. 

It took some time, but eventually that risky vehicle 
was announced to be in starting condition. It cer- 
tainly seemed to be a foolhardy proceeding on the part 
of those who occupied it, to venture with such un- 
broken cattle ; but Colonel Leppell's driving was re- 
nowned, and by a special providence, apparently, he 
never had come to grief. 

It was therefore to his great delight that the 
" crack " was rilled both inside and out, and all appre- 
hensions as to safety cast to the winds. 

Percival La Touche, who had hitherto played a 
secondary part in the programme of the day, now 
thought that the time was come when he should assert 
himself. He and Marcia had engaged a nice carriage 
with a good pair of chestnuts, which was retained for 
the picnic, and Mr La Touche was much exercised as 
to how he should induce Miss Clavering to take a seat 
in that conveyance. 

Mr G-lascott's carriage was rapidly being converted 
into a huge pigeon-pie or sardine-box, by reason of a 
crowd of very young people having seized it, with the 



126 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

declaration that the owner had offered the use of it to 
each and every one of them ; and a fine noise and 
good-humoured wrangle was the consequence of this 
wholesale piece of generosity. This was just what 
Percival wanted. Miss Clavering surely could. not 
occupy her guardian's carriage with all that crowd ! 
He therefore desired Marcia to offer the vacant seat 
in their own carriage to Willina, and to be quick 
about it. 

" Miss Fanshawe, you mean ? " said Marcia, who, all 
unconscious of her nephew's latest predilection, fan- 
cied that he had inadvertently confused the names. 

" No, no ! " replied Percival, sharply ; " allow me to 
know my own mind. Go and ask Miss Clavering, and 
. be quick about it, or she will be snapped up by the 
party in Lord "Willows' trap." 

Marcia did not venture a second remark, and was 
preparing to do as she was bid, when Mr Glascott 
suddenly stood near them. At the same moment a 
happy thought seized Percival. " Nothing like going 
to the fountain-head," said he — " nothing like it ; " and 
in a moment, with hat in hand, Percival preferred his 
request to Mr Glascott. The latter, taken as he was 
by surprise, could not well decline this civility. 

" Oh, certainly, much obliged — that is, if she is not 
already bespoken," said Mr Glascott, answering for his 
cousin. " Perhaps you will be good enough to ascertain 
for yourself, as I must arrange matters a little in my 
own vehicle. Willina," he continued, as he perceived 
Miss Clavering, " Mr La Touche is good enough to 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 127 

offer you a seat in his carriage with his aunt, and a 
—a " 

* Harold Fanshawe," cut in Percival, as he remarked 
that youth retire in contempt, and disgust from Mr 
Glascott's vehicle, and saw that he was seeking more 
congenial company. 

" Very nice," said Mr Glascott, who was pleased, for 
"VVillina's sake, that she would not be obliged to endure 
Mr La Touche wholly without some kind of mas- 
culine alloy ; so he continued, waxing benevolent — 

" Mr La Touche's proposition is really very oppor- 
tune, and we are much beholden to him for it. Our 
own carriage is certainly in the hands of the Philis- 
tines, and I am sure you will enjoy the drive with a 
smaller party." So saying, Mr Glascott walked away, 
and left his cousin to Percival's escort. 

He, meanwhile, had by means of telegraphic signals 
brought Harold Fanshawe towards his carriage, and 
intimated to that youth that he was to get in, and 
place himself opposite Miss La Touche. Harold did 
so, nothing loth ; and as Willina had no other alterna- 
tive but to accept the La Touche politeness with a 
good grace, she stepped without demur into the place 
allotted to her, and very shortly afterwards the whole 
corthge was on the move for the fair woods of Bark- 
holme. 

Miss Clavering naturally looked about to see what 
had become of Mr Glascott, and was pleased when 
she descried him comfortably ensconced in the carriage 
of Canon Braintree, under the wing of the wife of that 



128 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

dignitary, and Miss Fanshawe occupying the fourth 
seat in their vehicle. Lillian had ceded her place in 
Lord Willows' waggonette, which was supposed to 
be especially reserved for the bridesmaids, to Miss 
Braintree. 

On perceiving this substitution, both Marcia and 
Willina jumped to a conclusion which, as it happened, 
was utterly erroneous. They elected to believe that 
this was a manoeuvre on the part of Miss Braintree to 
improve her acquaintance with the noble driver of the 
waggonette, whereas the contrary was the case, as 
Miss Fanshawe, having her own reasons for preferring 
the quiet society occupying Canon Braintree's vehicle, 
had suggested the exchange, which of course the 
Canon's daughter was delighted to accept, offering 
as it did so much more amusement and excitement. 
Miss Fanshawe alleged a severe headache as the 
reason for making the request, and thus laid low 
any surmises that Sarah Braintree may have in- 
dulged in as to her having made this proposition at 
the very last moment. 

Mr La Touche also looked into this vehicle, and had 
Miss Clavering chanced to observe him at the moment, 
she would have wondered what made him smile in 
such ironical fashion. The expression was merely 
momentary ; but it left Percival satisfied in his own 
mind that he had discovered the embryo of a secret, 
which, when developed, might possibly affect the des- 
tiny of more than one life. With the conviction that 
this day must decide his own fate for wife and dowry, 



A COUNTRY WEDDING. 129 

he turned, pleasantly, to the ladies. His deferential 
manner and sparkling conversation allured Miss 
Clavering out of the reserve in which she had in- 
tended to entrench herself ; whilst it delighted his 
aunt, and caused Harold Fanshawe to open both his 
mouth and his eyes, and maintain that dead silence 
which is generally declared to be the normal condi- 
tion of the stock-fish. 



VOL. II. 



130 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 

At length the procession arranged itself and was soon 
beyond the village of Yarne. It was amid the love- 
liest scenery of fair England that it made its way, — 
down mossy lanes, shaded by great trees which bore 
almost every tint that foliage can acquire, as they 
stood out grandly in the rich apparel of the leafy 
month of June. 

Here and there a broad expanse of upland, bor- 
dered by a dark line of distant forest, which served as 
an enclosure to the ruddy ripening grain, enabled the 
party to meet together for a time, and to separate 
thankfully into the cool glens through which ran 
tiny streamlets watering the wealth of wild flowers 
which literally carpeted the ground. All was so 
fair and so sweet, — the glorious sunshine — the distant 
hazy veil of blue vapour, deepening in the far horizon 
to the richest purple — the air pierced as it were with 
subtle fragrant scent, — that it was no wonder that 
Dick Leppell should declare that he never in his 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 131 

life had known so magnificent a midsummer day ; 
and that Canon Braintree should fall fast asleep, 
chanted into the land of forgetfulness by the lazy 
murmur of distant brooks and the prolonged coo 
of the wood-pigeons and doves, challenged as these 
were by the wail of the widow - bird — that vox 
humana of sorrow — interspersing the monotony of 
calm content. 

Canon Braintree sleeps, and his wife improves the 
shining hour. The situation was advantageous, for 
there were occasions in which the lady believed that 
she advanced the interests of her calling without the 
co-operation of her spouse. He was all very well 
in his place, and was no doubt eminently useful as a 
referee, but sometimes he spoilt enterprise by asking 
untimely questions, and by making uncalled-for re- 
marks. It was in the fine work of ecclesiastical busi- 
ness, Mrs Canon Braintree concluded to think, that her 
husband was not quite up to the mark ; and so it is 
with satisfaction that she hears him snore, and resolves 
to ask Mr Glascott for a subscription for the Dorcas 
Society of Yarne. 

Had the Canon been awake, he would doubtless have 
considered it an unfair advantage to invite a man 
into his carriage, and having got him there, to open 
upon him with a request for money, for any object 
however laudable: he would have probably winked 
disapprobation, and would have perhaps opined with 
King Solomon that there was a time and a place for 
all things. 



132 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Mrs Braintree held that there was no time like the 
present time, according to the adage ; and acting on 
this conviction, she at once made her application, ton- 
ing it down with the assurance to Mr Glascott that 
she knew how delighted he would be to make a thank- 
offering for the blessings of the day. 

Mr Glascott, who had made offerings enough in one 
shape or another, did not seem, at first, to meet this 
proposition with very hearty goodwill. Further dis- 
covery, however, convinced that gentleman that Mrs 
Braintree scrupulously restricted her advocacy to the 
claims of present and visible British misery, to the 
utter exclusion of unfeasible plans for African conver- 
sion a la hdte, or to the habilitation of the Patagonian 
in the flannel vest of respectability. Two guineas 
would let him off cheaply, and he therefore promised 
that amount. It was less than Mrs Braintree had ex- 
pected, but she wisely concealed her opinion, and 
registered the sum as a yearly subscription from Mr 
Glascott of Brydone, Island of Jersey. 

It was highly satisfactory to think that the " thank- 
offering" would thus repeat itself for many years 
to come. 

This business being concluded, Mrs Braintree sets 
her wits to work in another direction, for the benefit 
of her order, as she sometimes expressed it : a slight 
incident had suggested the idea, and she now thinks 
she must fulfil the Christian duty of turning Miss Fan- 
shawe into a well-endowed county woman. The material 
was present, and she would utilise the same ; no time 






THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 133 

like the present time, — for the Canon, like most sen- 
sible men, was averse to match - making, and still 
snored. 

' The incident which attracted Mrs Braintree's atten- 
tion was this. Just as she had registered Mr Glas- 
cott's subscription, the carriage containing the La 
Touche party came up close to the side of her bar- 
ouche, and as it did so, she saw Lillian Fanshawe cast 
a glance at one of its inmates, of such peculiar expres- 
sion, that the good woman was convinced she had sur- 
prised a dart of furious jealousy in full flight. 

The face of the young lady, which during the whole 
day had been unusually pale, was at that moment 
suffused with a crimson flush ; and a steady anger, at 
the same time, gleamed in her eyes. 

Mrs Braintree could not quite satisfy herself as to 
whether it was towards Miss Clavering or towards 
Mr La Touche that the look was directed ; but she 
had seen enough to be assured that it was one, 
or perhaps both, of these individuals who had excited 
displeasure in her young friend's mind, — a displeasure 
so deep that the latter, apparently, made no sort of 
effort to control its outward expression — the habitual 
composure of her manner having quite deserted her. 
The girl, in fact, literally trembled. 

At that moment an opinion rushed through the 
mind of the Canon's wife, and it took a very peremptory 
form. Mr La Touche must be secured for Miss Fan- 
shawe ; the daughters of clergymen nowadays must 
marry money ; Mr La Touche is the friend of the 



134 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Fanshawes ; it is through the introduction by that 
family that he has become acquainted with the 
Leppells, and is here at all; the gentleman is not, 
by all accounts, one whom it is desirable to ally 
with the Church ; however, his fortune is large, and 
with a clergyman's daughter for wife, the manipula- 
tion of money would be advantageous to the clerical 
world. 

So thinking, and so determining, Mrs Braintree 
proceeded to render herself agreeable to the La Touche 
party ; woke up the Canon, with the view of making 
him back up an invitation to dinner which she gave 
to Marcia and Percival for the following day, under 
the impression, real or assumed, that they were not 
immediately on the return to London. 

Here Mrs Braintree's hospitality was of no avail ; 
for although Marcia seemed disposed to accept the 
courtesy offered, a sharp admonitory touch of the foot 
by her nephew quickly changed the current of her 
views, and she stated that both she and Mr La Touche 
were engaged in town for the evening of the morrow. 
Percival, for his part, testified his deep regret, but 
hoped on some happy occasion to see Canon and Mrs 
Braintree at Hinton Square. 

So that device fell through. But the Canon's wife 
in most respects was a woman of resource, and in con- 
sequence she managed by some jugglery to mix the 
occupants of the two carriages in a general conversa- 
tion; and Miss Fanshawe, now herself again, talked 
vigorously with Marcia, and amongst other light in- 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 135 

quiries, she demanded of Percival, with some signifi- 
cance possibly, what had become of his brother Ste- 
phen, and how it was that he was not then present, he 
being such a favourite with all, and with the bride 
especially ? 

" Ah, indeed ! " exclaimed Mr Glascott, following up 
the inquiry. " I thought I missed somebody, — very 
gentlemanly, good-looking man your brother, sir. I 
have scarcely seen him, but our slight acquaintance 
has left a very pleasant remembrance on my part." 
This to Percival, by way of compliment to that 
gentleman. 

Now this was the particular subject which had per- 
plexed the mind of Miss Clavering for many hours ; 
and if the truth must be told, the absence of Stephen 
La Touche had very much militated against the pleas- 
ure of the day, as far as she was personally concerned. 
She believed that a formal invitation had been sent 
to that gentleman amongst others who were bid to 
the marriage-feast, and it was natural that she should 
feel some surprise at his non-appearance, and be at a 
loss to understand why his absence should not have 
been remarked by any of the Leppell family. 

Her astonishment was further augmented as she re- 
membered that, when she was in London with Mary 
for the purpose of buying bridal finery, and had during 
that fortnight seen something of the La Touche family 
in the aggregate, it seemed lien entendu on all sides 
that Mr Stephen La Touche was to be a guest at 
Hunter's Lodge on Midsummer-day. 



136 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

It was therefore with some interest that Miss 
Clavering listened to the response of Mr La Touche 
to the direct question which Miss Fanshawe had 
put. 

Percival's reply was curt enough, although he red- 
dened a little, and looked somewhat discomposed as 
he gave it tongue. 

"My brother has had no regular invitation," said 
he ; " besides, he is overwhelmed with business, owing 
to the long holiday he had taken before." 

Here Marcia must needs chime in with the informa- 
tion that her nephew was very busy with the affairs of 
a rich widow, whom his father was very desirous that 
he should cultivate. " So you see," continued Marcia, 
adding more intricacy to this game of cross-purposes, 
"that Stephen is now combining both business and 
pleasure in the most happy manner." 

The real state of the case was, that Mrs Leppell, 
by a singular malversion of les convenances — very 
much the vogue with indolent natures — had really 
not sent Mr Stephen La Touche any invitation what- 
ever. She had, when inviting Percival verbally, ex- 
pressed a hope that he would induce his brother to 
accompany him, and had supposed that, when at 
Pinnacles, Mary would arrange the matter with the 
latter in person. Percival had suppressed Mrs Lep- 
pell's message entirely, and that lady's daughter had 
supposed that her mother had written to Mr Stephen 
La Touche ; and what between supposition and taking 
.things for granted, the young man remained under 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 137 

the impression that in the bustle of concluding en- 
gagements he had been overlooked. 

Had Stephen been less in love, or more sure of his 
ground, perhaps, he would have managed in some 
way to get the matter thoroughly righted ; but that 
subtle delicate shyness which is one of the symptoms 
of intense devotion, and which makes a coward of the 
strongest mind, operated to prevent him even alluding 
to the subject. 

Being totally unsuspicious of Percival's mean 
trick, it was natural that he should await till the 
last moment some intimation from either Mrs Leppell 
or the Colonel : as this was not forthcoming, he saw 
his aunt and his brother depart in triumph, and made 
no sign. 

One crumb of comfort, however, had fallen into the 
cup of Stephen La Touche. That fortnight which the 
young ladies spent in London had proved, beyond 
doubt, that Percival was making no way in the good 
graces of Miss Clavering. Marcia had called, and 
there had been an exchange of dinner-parties; they 
had gone in a huge company to a ball, whereat the 
barrister had experienced some pleasure in seeing 
Mr Percival well snubbed by the lady of his own 
love ; and furthermore, he had derived much solace at 
her expressing a hope that he would pay them a visit 
at Brydone at no far-off day. 

" You tell me you are going to coach a young man 
in the lore of the law," she had said, in one of the 
pauses of a square dance ; " and you have mentioned 



138 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

that you would like to go to the Channel Islands for 
the reading tour. If you are in Jersey, I am sure 
Mr Glascott will be glad to see you at Brydone." 

" You are going there soon ? " Stephen had in- 
quired. 

"As soon as possible after the wedding is over. 
My cousin is tired of rambling about, and I wish to 
see him comfortable and really at home before I visit 
my brother after his marriage." 

Stephen there and then registered a vow to make 
the reading pupil elect Jersey as the most convenient 
spot in the British dominions for hard work ; and 
Miss Clavering resolved to impress upon Mr Glascott 
the desirability of showing attention to this younger 
son of the house of La Touche, whenever kindly fate 
should place the opportunity in his way. 

They still spoke indirectly of meeting at the wed- 
ding, and therefore Willina was somewhat astonished 
and much disappointed when she heard that Miss 
La Touche, and her eldest nephew solely, had arrived 
at the Eed Lion at Yarne, in order to be present at 
the wedding on the following day. She was impelled, 
from a feeling of reserve, to abstain from making any 
inquiry regarding this circumstance, and the Leppells 
en masse were far too much taken up with their own 
affairs to bestow time on mere conjecture. It seemed 
to be tacitly agreed that Mr Stephen would have come 
if he could, and that later on they would know the 
reason of his absence. Dick Leppell and Harold 
Fanshawe, in a spirit of prophecy, declared that 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BAKKHOLME. 139 

" Touchey " would drop in upon them at any moment, 
and then the subject utterly passed out of mind. 

Although Percival had replied so confidently to 
Miss Fanshawe's inquiry, the young lady entertained 
her doubts about the accuracy of his statements, in 
so far as the part concerning the invitation was im- 
plied ; and Miss Clavering entirely discredited what 
Mr La Touche and his aunt had advanced on the 
subject. 

It seemed clear to both the young ladies that a 
purpose was to be served in keeping Stephen away, — 
perhaps jealousy, perhaps envy and all uncharitable- 
ness. Whatever the cause, Miss Clavering felt con- 
vinced that it was owing to the agency of Mr La 
Touche that his younger brother was not driving 
in the woods* of Barkholme on that sunny Mid- 
summer-day. 

But now the point is reached at which the company 
are to alight from their several vehicles, and proceed 
a little distance on foot to that recess in the woods 
which the noble owner of the property had caused 
to be erected for the accommodation of pleasure- 
seekers, and for artists who came from afar to sketch 
the ruins of old Barkholme Castle, and the surround- 
ing scenery of wooded vale and hill. 

Truly it is a pleasant place ; the undulating ground 
stretching into far vistas of graceful foliage, just 
affording peeps of sunny corn-fields in the ridges 
of the hills, — the shelving banks thick with moss, 
through which the tender wild-flowers push up their 



140 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

heads and bow to the wind. Nor must pass unrecog- 
nised the silver water glinting here and there in 
the far distance, — that runaway child of the homely 
brook, which babbled in methodical rhythm in its 
appointed place, just as it babbled in ages gone by, 
when the pebbles which formed its bed were perhaps 
a trifle less smooth. 

And so down to the rustic gates which enclose the 
little domain set apart for the convenience of visitors. 
It is a humble quiet place, consisting of a cottage 
wherein dwells a retainer of the family now past ser- 
vice. His daughter and a grandchild form the house- 
hold. They are not ill off, but are glad of any addition 
which they may gain in attending to the wants of 
strangers and sightseers. 

The child is happy to-day — for has not the man 
who had been sent forward earlier to make prepara- 
tions, and announce the coming of the Leppell party, 
told her in strict secrecy that a lump of wedding-cake 
for them all is on its way, and a bottle of wine and 
a wedding-favour, and one or two other nice things 
besides ? So little Jessie waits, looking at the great 
coach with awe, thinking that the packet must be hid 
somewhere in its wonderful depths; and then she 
turns to fly as the Colonel, with his loud haw-haw 
voice, demands a kiss, and proclaims that ere long 
she will be the prettiest girl in the whole barony, 
deny this who can. 

The horses and carriages are stowed away, and 
some of the party walk up and down, and some 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 141 

meander into the open until the meal, which is to be 
served in a thatched-over barn, is declared ready. 

Mrs Brain tree does her utmost to bring Mr La 
Touche in juxtaposition with Miss Fanshawe, but he 
sticks like a leech to Miss Clavering, who, in self- 
defence, elects to sit with Marcia and admire the 
beauties of nature from a rickety bench in a dilap- 
idated summer-house. As there is no room for Mr 
La Touche, he moves reluctantly away, and Mrs 
Braintree takes him in tow, walks him up and down, 
and finally manages to secure the promise of a yearly 
subscription for the Dorcas Society at Yarne, which 
Percival paid on the spot. 

How Mrs Braintree achieved this miracle, and how 
Percival consented to be thus mulcted, is one of the 
mysteries which will never be cleared up in this 
world. 

It was thought by some that he paid his guinea as 
a sort of entrance-fee into the society of the clerical 
magnates of the earth; others opined that Mr La 
Touche had done a good business turn in securing 
Mrs Braintree's patronage as a customer for some of 
the wines of Hungary which his firm was just then 
importing, and that the guinea would eventually re- 
turn tenfold into his bosom. 

Be this as it may, Percival's name was down on a 
charity subscription-list. Mrs Braintree believed that 
the dye was coming off this black sheep ; and Marcia, 
when she heard of it, declared emphatically that the 
heavens would fall. 



142 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

The interview rather detached Mr La Touche from 
the younger ladies, and he found himself at the al 
fresco meal seated beside a jolly -looking man who 
was addressed by the Leppell fry as "Old Clothes." 
This gentleman, who was barely thirty years of age, 
and bore the name of John Clowes, was a yeoman of 
the district, who, being in the neighbourhood, had 
driven over in his gig to present his congratulations 
to Colonel Leppell. He was going to Scotland, he 
said, for some months, and would have no other op- 
portunity of personally wishing all happiness to the 
young married pair. 

Mr Clowes had intended to depart as soon as his 
mission was fulfilled, but the Leppell fry would hear 
of nothing of the kind ; and so the good yeoman had 
to be dragged hither and thither to give his opinion, 
as requested, upon the dogs and horses appertaining 
to the cortege, and to submit to much handling of the 
beautiful mare which he had driven in his gig. 

Percival, as soon as the collation was served, took 
his seat somewhat sulkily, although it had been im- 
pressed upon all that the circumstances admitted of 
scant ceremony, and that gentlemen and the younger 
people must find seats how and where they could. 
Colonel Leppell thought he had made a highly apt 
and Scriptural allusion as he informed Mrs Braintree 
that at the loaf-and-fish picnic of Scripture, which was 
the largest which the world had ever seen, he was 
sure there was no question of precedence, and it was 
probable that every one sat upon the ground. 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 143 

Mrs Braintree promptly suppressed the temptation 
to preach which the situation suggested, and at once 
proceeded, like the careful wife she certainly was, to 
install the Canon where the draught was not likely to 
touch him, and then cast about to moor Miss Fan- 
shawe by her side. 

Mr La Touche was greatly chagrined to perceive 
Miss Clavering in the opposite angle of the table at 
which he sat, bounded on her right hand by Lord 
Willows, and on the left by Harold Fanshawe. 

What was it that caused the latter to look so 
supremely important all of a sudden, and at the same 
time appear to constitute himself as the picked body- 
guard of Miss Clavering ? 

Had Mr La Touche lingered near the rickety sum- 
mer-house a little longer, he would have discovered 
the source of this mystery. No sooner had he been 
walked off out of that vicinity by Mrs Braintree, than 
Willina, anxious to escape, signalled to Harold Fan- 
shawe, who was walking about very much like a deso- 
late fowl, that he should come to her immediately. On 
his obeying her summons, she said, " Would you kindly 
get me my little red shawl out of the carriage, and, 
dear boy, mind you don't leave me, but sit next to me 
at the dinner-table. I want a change of companions, 
after having been so long shut up with the same 
people. I don't wish to be rude, but we are not 
obliged to be with the same party all day." 

" I should just think not," said Harold ; " that Mr 
La Touche may be a great swell, but at the same 



144 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

time he is an awful bore, and I am getting tired of 
the aunt myself." 

" Hush ! " interrupted Miss Clavering, indicating 
Marcia, who had risen, and who, with her back to 
this pair, was so attentively watching her nephew 
and his clerical friend, that she had not even remarked 
the proximity of the youth, — " hush ! can we get away 
now ? 

" Yes ; look to the right, through those laurels, — it 
will take us to the shed where they are laying out the 
food. It isn't lunch, you know, and it isn't dinner 
exactly," continued Master Fanshawe," but there's 
lots of it, — quite a jolly blow-out." 

So they turned and fled, and it was really a matter 
of rojoicing to Willina that she effected her escape so 
happily. 

It was high time, for the girl could not conceal 
from herself the manifest intentions of Mr La Touche. 
She had ignored these as persistently as possible dur- 
ing her late stay in London, and had, although against 
her better judgment, agreed with Mary Leppell that 
Lillian Fanshawe's engagement to Mr La Touche was 
only a matter of time. 

Yet, put the truth away from her as much as she 
would, that instinct, which perhaps is the substitute 
for the cell wanting in the brain in the feminine com- 
position, warned her that the time was come wherein 
she must listen to a declaration of love from Mr La 
Touche, and that, moreover, he was only seeking an 
opportunity to make the same on that very day. 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 145 

Her object now was not to be left alone a single 
instant ; and as Harold Fanshawe was, in her esti- 
mation, a boy who could be easily hoodwinked, she, 
with feminine astuteness, determined to make him 
her knight for the day, and naturally counted upon 
the satisfaction which this distinction would afford 
him for being well guarded without any one being 
the whit the wiser as to her reason for selecting this 
particular juvenile as her companion in the after- 
dinner stroll. 

The feast was merry enough except to Percival, 
who now felt all the pangs of jealousy directed 
against Lord Willows, simply because he was a lord ; 
and all the irritation of uncongenial propinquity 
against unconscious Mr Clowes, because he was not 
a lord but a kindly English yeoman. 

Dish after dish was presented to Mr La Touche 
by this good man, who was under the impression 
that Percival was a nervous invalid who ought to 
be seated near his fashionable mother — for such Mr 
Clowes opined Marcia to be. 

Miss Fanshawe, with a kind of grim composure, 
watched all that was going on, but was quite mis- 
taken in her impression that Willina was trying to 
pit Lord Willows against Mr La Touche, for the 
especial benefit of the latter ; and Mr Glascott, who 
was full of admiration for Lillian, thought how charm- 
ing it was of her to devote herself so beautifully to 
Canon Braintree, and ensconce herself as a kind of 
rampart betwixt that dignitary and the wind which 

VOL. II. K 



146 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

blew directly into the end of the thatched shed 
wherein they fed. 

Sarah Braintree flirted with the Colonel, and 
sincerely lamented that the latter could not com- 
bine the functions of military chaplain with his 
other duties. "He had a rousing style," Sarah in- 
formed him, "and had just the voice for Gregorian 
chants." 

The Colonel did not quite appreciate the latter part 
of Miss Braintree's compliment, as he had a vague 
idea that a Pope, or Popes, Gregory had been in ex- 
istence, and that these chants were some of the 
" marks of the beast," proclaiming themselves in hide- 
ous howlings. So the Colonel repudiated the chants, 
but he thanked Sarah for introducing the subject of 
music, as he wanted to secure the co-operation of her 
mother in getting a subscription for a harmonium, 
which he had, it must be confessed, ordered for the 
soldiers' barracks at Yarne, without having a shilling 
to pay for it. 

"You must get up a meeting," said Sarah, with 
promptitude ; " it is a nice method for inducing people 
who like one another to come together." 

" Yes ; and for those who don't like one another 
also," the Colonel made answer. "But I will get 
speech of your mother on the subject; she is just 
the person I want to help in the matter, as she does 
her work well, and I find is putting a stop to this 
stupid county -versus-town feeling." 

" Ah, you see, we have worked on the broad lines 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 147 

of a London parish," replied Sarah, perhaps a trifle 
sententiously. 

" All the better. Just fancy that man Mompesson, 
now Eector of Eooke-cum-Dawe ! he was for years a 
curate in Yarne, and lived in lodgings in Eed Lion 
Square. He received the greatest kindness and hospi- 
tality from the professional people and others living in 
Yarne, and now, forsooth, because he is a rector, he 
finds he cannot visit with any but the county people, 
and drives into the town on Saturdays with a haut en 
has expression towards the inhabitants which is posi- 
tively sickening." 

" Ma will soon put an end to all that," quoth Sarah. 
" The fact is, that the wives of the other canons have 
rather fostered this sort of thing. Ma will bring 
everybody to their bearings." 

So Mrs Braintree would and did ; but the mis- 
fortune of it was, that there was so much of the 
Canoness in her method of acting, that it roused 
rather more of resentment than respect in those who 
did not professionally belong to the English Church. 
The lawyers, doctors, and retired military were not 
going to submit to a female cleric ; and it was only 
the good intentions and real sincerity of Mrs Braintree 
that caused her to make her way with those of her 
own calling. 

Her one redeeming point was that she made no dis- 
tinctions between the town and the county clergy ; 
and as Colonel Leppell very truly said, she spent the 
income of the canonry in the town, and did good work. 



148 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Thus, after the feast was over, Colonel Leppell veri- 
fied his favourable opinion of the Canon's wife. He 
had a long conversation with that lady, in which 
he laid all his difficulties before her, and admitted 
that he had acted rashly in ordering the instrument 
alluded to without having the wherewithal to defray 
its cost. 

Then they had a clear understanding as to how the 
funds should be raised for this purpose, and Mrs 
Braintree promised on her part to inaugurate a meet- 
ing at the town-hall, and work tooth and nail to get 
people to attend it, or to contribute help in a pecuni- 
ary form. 

So far so good. The Colonel was delighted, and 
undertook to sound the trumpet in the neighbouring 
division of the county, Wurstede. His friend, Colonel 
Guyse, who commanded there, was a tower of strength, 
and would do his best to help. Then Mrs Braintree 
left her host, delighted with her mission, and pro- 
ceeded to look after Miss Fanshawe and Mr La 
Touche. 

It is at all times difficult to find persons amongst 
ruins, and especially if they happen to be inclined to 
seek the shade of thick foliage with which these are 
generally interspersed. Dips of undulating ground, 
rendered partially invisible by rounded tussocks, 
which rise up abruptly at irregular distances, are not 
exactly calculated to assist a searcher to discern a 
distant object ; whilst a layer of flint stones and small 
pebbles rather invite attention to the maintenance 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 149 

of the perpendicular, than supply assistance to specu- 
lations concerning the far horizon. 

Total ignorance also of the topography of the 
country generally forms a barrier to satisfactory re- 
search, and as Mrs Braintree only succeeded in catch- 
ing the sound of voices, without being able to form 
the slightest idea from whence it came, she resolved 
to turn back and trust to chance for rinding a fellow- 
guest or a guide. 

The servants and coachmen, she knew, were all dis- 
persed in different directions, and would only come to 
the cottage at the hour arranged for departure. 

The investigations of the Canon's wife were not, 
however, totally without result. She had neared a 
small waterfall, and as she stood admiring it, she 
espied Miss Fanshawe coming round a narrow path, 
attended, not by Mr La Touche, but by Mr Glas- 
cott. The elderly gentleman guided the young lady 
up a flight of wet slippery steps to gain some summit 
which apparently led to nowhere ; and so Mrs Brain- 
tree concluded that some striking feature in the view 
was to be descried from that height, and she therefore 
left them to their enjoyment of the beauties of nature 
without interruption. 

"Nice fatherly man," Mrs Braintree said to her- 
self ; " but where can Mr La Touche be ? " 

She walked on, not encountering a creature until 
she found herself in front of the little parlour at the 
side of the cottage, which was especially reserved for 
visitors, and which was principally used as a dressing- 



150 THE FAT OF THE LAXD. 

room for the ladies of the several expeditions to Bark- 
holme. 

A nearer approach satisfied Mrs Braintree that she 
heard the sound of voices issuing from the half-opened 
window of that room, and she hastened forward and 
looked within, in order to ascertain who were its pres- 
ent occupants. It was scarcely a feeling of sheer 
curiosity that prompted her to act in this wise, but 
rather the determination to secure a companion, even 
if a stranger, for her intended exploration of the ruins. 

A moment's inspection, however, satisfied her that 
under no plea whatever would her company be desir- 
able ; and the scene which met her view was so ludi- 
crous, that the good lady was fain to retire in order to 
freelv indulge her risible faculties, — for there, peram- 
bulating the ground on his knees, was to be seen Mr 
La Touche, holding on to the hem of Miss Clavering's 
garment, and gesticulating wildly. 

A long light overcoat which Percival had donned, 
evidently to protect himself from the draught, in- 
creased the peculiarity of his appearance, as its ends 
flapped against his heels in the most undignified 
fashion, and added greatly to the limp and prostrate 
spectacle which he then presented. 

" Pray, pray, rise, Mr La Touche," Willina said, as 
her admirer stuck tight, and effectually prevented her 
from reaching the door. "I am sorry to cause you 
pain, but I cannot, I never can permit your addresses : 
do be reasonable, and let this occurrence pass from 
both <5ur minds as if it had never been." 



THE FAIR WOODS OF BARKHOLME. 151 

" I cannot ! " gasped poor Percival, who really was 
thoroughly in earnest. " Give me time, then — do not 
discard me at once. I will promise anything — do 
anything." 

" It cannot be," insisted Miss Clavering, firmly. " It 
is only right to say, that under no circumstances what- 
ever could I consent to become your wife : it would 
be unjust to you — nay, it would be dishonest, for I 
could never yield you either affection or esteem." 

" Then you prefer some one else — that's the real 
truth," snapped Percival, changing his tone ; " that's 
the true cause." 

" You have no right to say that, — no right to infer 
it," she answered, now really angry. " Loose your hold, 
sir, and let me go." As she spoke, she suddenly 
snatched her dress from Percival's grasp, and was out 
through the door in a moment of time. 

As fate would have it, she encountered Miss Fan- 
shawe, who had come to this parlour to get Mr Glas- 
cott's walking-stick, which lay in security amid some 
wraps there. Although the latter was rather hurried, 
she could not help remarking the peculiar exj>ression 
of Miss Claverino's face. 

" Something has happened," she said, almost invol- 
untarily, as she looked at Willina. 

" No — not exactly ; but Mr La Touche is within, 
quite ill, and upset — something like a fit ; but the at- 
tack will pass off'. It will be better, perhaps, to leave 
him alone for a while." 

The two young women looked at each other fixedly 



152 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

as Miss Clavering made this declaration. A cold in- 
credulous smile passed over the features of Miss Fan- 
shawe, as, steadily maintaining her gaze, she pushed 
open the door and resolutely entered the parlour. 

Here, with his head bowed between his hands, sat 
Percival, rocking with emotion. Bitter disappoint- 
ment expressed itself in every line of his figure : he 
was too miserable then to hear or see. 

Lillian stood looking at him a moment, and then 
retired. Had she entertained one spark of regard for 
this man, she would have commiserated his grief, and 
even felt honest anger against his fickleness. 

As it was, Percival was only a good income and 
position lost to her. She philosophically accepted the 
fact ; but, woman-like, she vented all her indignation 
upon her rival woman, and thenceforward she detested 
"VVillina Clavering with all the strength of a hard 
nature, — a nature that rarely forgets or forgives. 

Shortly afterwards, through the management of 
Mrs Braintree, it was whispered that Mr La Touche 
had been taken ill, and that Mr Clowes had offered 
the sufferer a seat in his gig and driven him straight 
to Yarne. There was no reason, however, to alarm 
Marcia. 



153 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 

Mrs Braintree had worked vigorously, and had 
carried her point also in getting the schoolroom of 
Saint Jude's Church for the meeting that was to be 
held for the Harmonium Fund, and in further secur- 
ing many promises of attendance and support. The 
rector of Saint Jude's parish was thankful for the two 
guineas which were allotted to him for the hire of the 
room for one afternoon, and great was the sweeping 
and garnishing that went on in that apartment to 
make it worthy of the occasion. Colonel Leppell 
handsomely expressed his conviction that Mrs Brain- 
tree was not half a bad woman ; wished she would 
dress a little better, but allowed that under-clress was 
better than over-dress ; and that Sarah, in the matter 
of ostrich feathers, would strike terror into the heart 
of the most hardened Hottentot. 

At present there were other matters to be con- 
sidered than dress, and the Colonel fixed his attention 
upon what the duties of the chairman should be : in 



15 4 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

this he was ably assisted by the Canon's wife. It was 
;i great feature in that lady's diplomacy that she had 
persuaded the Colonel that he could make a speech in 
public. "I need not remind you," said that astute 
manager, " that the dignity of the chair would be seri- 
ously imperilled were you to say too much, or intro- 
duce any remarks irrelevant to the matter." 

• All I have got to say, at least at first, is that we 
have bought a splendid harmonium for the soldiers' 
church, and we want the audience to pay for it, — in 
fact, that we depend upon the collection we can squeeze 
out of them," replied the pupil, with a knowing look 
which just fell short of a wink. 

"Of course you will put that into nice language," 
returned the lady. "But, you know, part of your 
bus will be to introduce the speakers, and com- 

pliment them, and thank them in the name of the 
public for what they have said, and for the support 
of their personal attendance." 

" And then I have got to sing out ' Hear, hear,' and 
' Attention,' at some of the remarks, I know." 

" It just requires a little management to time these 
expressions. You know your own speech will come 
in at the end, as there will be a vote of thanks to you 
for taking the chair. The great point is to press the 
subject of the subscription home; it would be so de- 
sirable to wipe off' the cost of the harmonium, and 
have a sum over towards the funds of the establish- 
ment. I have thought that the harmonium should be 
opened by the organist, and the first two or three 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 155 

pieces be played by him, to do the instrument justice ; 
but," continued Mrs Braintree, " the organist of the 
Cathedral cannot be offered less than a guinea, and 
that is rather much for one or two performances." 

" He ought to play for nothing, out of respect to the 
cause, and send the harmonium a subscription," said 
Colonel Leppell decidedly. 

" You see, Colonel, a line must be drawn, and if Mr 
Westmacott were to play for every charitable purpose, 
he would have little else to do : he has been tormented 
by people all over the country for gratuitous musical 
help, and really it is not without reason that Mr 
Westmacott insists upon a fee." 

" People are deuced fond of putting their charity 
upon other folks," answered Colonel Leppell; "just 
look how doctors are often imposed upon, and ladies 
are the greatest sinners in that line. A medical man 
can't come into a house but what the mistress finds out 
that somebody besides the patient must have their eyes, 
or their teeth, or their toes examined. But about West- 
macott, — I suppose it would not do to offer him five 
shillings for an overture ? You see it would be as well 
to pay a professional to bring out all the tones well." 

" Mr Westmacott cannot be offered less than a 
guinea, Colonel." 

" Well, it can't be helped. For myself, I hate har- 
moniums as a rule, — I would much rather have a trum- 
pet and harp ; but, of course, can't be had — though 
trumpets and shawms are more Scriptural. King 
David, you know, he always had his psalms well 



156 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

accompanied. However, we may as well keep it 
dark that harmoniums are not mentioned in the Bible ; 
but could not our specimen be introduced under the 
general head of an instrument of music ? " And here 
the Colonel looked as if he had scored a very telling 
point by this suggestion. 

Mrs Braintree agreed that this was a good idea. 
" There is an expression, ' all kinds of music ' ; but that 
is not of much consequence," the lady went on to say. 
" A harmonium is now generally accepted as a small 
kind of organ, and of course the make will be im- 
proved as years pass on." 

"Much need," returned her visitor; "as they now 
stand they make the most infer — I mean dreadful 
sounds, unless, perhaps, the noises which people per- 
petrate in singing what are called Gregorian chants 
be excepted. However," continued Colonel Leppell, 
" we must be thankful for small mercies, and my men 
do like something that rings warlike and strident. 
By the way, though, one of my fellows does play 
the harmonium, — I forgot all about it ; by all means 
let things be done decently and in order, madam," 
continued the officer, warming with his subject. 
" Private Bill Crasher in full uniform, presiding at 
the harmonium, will have a telling effect." 

" Yes," replied Mrs Braintree ; " what can he 
play ? " 

"Oh, 'Drops of Brandy,' and 'The British Gren- 
adiers,' and one or two military marches, naturally." 

" Anything sacred ? " inquired the lady. 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 157 

"Well, there's the 'Dead March' in 'Saul.'" 

" That, I think, would be scarcely suitable for a joy- 
ful and pleasant assembling together," Mrs Braintree 
replied. " If you have no objection, I think it will be 
better to have the man here and see what he can do, 
— and also, some kind of programme would be advis- 
able ; don't you think so ? " 

" Just as you please — perhaps it would be as well. 
But mind we must have ' See the Conquering Hero 
Comes,' to strike up when the Bishop enters the room ; 
or perhaps that had better be reserved for the 
Bishopess, — she represents the Church militant in 
that direction. As for the Bishop (he's a good little 
soul), I really should like something special played 
up to glorify him. The question is, what is the most 
appropriate musical glorification for prelates, eh ? " 

" ' Ecce Sacerdotus Magnus,' " struck in Sarah 
Braintree, who was becoming pronounced High 
Church ; " that's a fine tune, and it would suit the 
harmonium." 

" Ecce nonsense," replied the Colonel, who smelt 
Ptome in the Latin words ; " that is not the proper 
march wherewith to usher in a Protestant bishop." 

" But the Church of England is really Catholic," 
persisted Sarah ; " we are finding out that the Eefor- 
mation reformed too much." 

"Just you remember, my good young lady, that 
our Queen is the head of the Church of England, and 
that she by her coronation oath undertakes to back 
up and propagate the Protestant faith. If you want 



158 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

another example, remember that King Charles I., before 
the battle of Edgehill, summoned his army together, 
and in their presence stated that he accepted the 
Protestant reformed religion of the Church of Eng- 
land. I am very certain that I read this, because the 
address to the army drew my attention to it. No, 
no, don't sail under false colours; you know very 
well that you would not have been so keen about call- 
ing yourself a Catholic in the days of William and 
Mary, or even under the Georges." 

The Colonel was so perfectly correct in all this, 
that Miss Braintree merely replied, "Then we can't 
have ' Ecce Sacerdotus Magnus ' ? " 

" Not at any price," returned the Colonel ; " for to 
be consistent, we should have the Bishop marching in 
vested as a Boman Catholic prelate." 

"But he is coming in his everyday clothes," said 
Sarah. 

" I suppose so, therefore there is no need for Ecce 
— what you call it ? even if his lordship were to be 
arrayed in the black and white uniform, — no, gear, 
— get-up, — robes, I should say, of an orthodox bishop. 
You see, they had the sense at the Beformation to 
make the difference of costume mark the difference of 
the religion, eh ? " 

Not caring to be taken further into the depths 
of the Colonel's theology, Mrs Braintree exclaimed, 
" What can we have played when the Bishop enters ? 
I think the Hundredth Psalm would be rather pro- 
fessional." 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 159 

" ' Praise Gocl from whom all blessings flow ' ? No ; 
they sing that when they have bagged the collection," 
said the Colonel, with the utmost naiveU. "What do 
you say to ' Hail, Smiling Morn ' ? " 

" I don't quite see the point," said Mrs Braintree 
politely, and with difficulty suppressing a smile. 

"Well, you see, 'hail' is a Scripture word, and 
' smiling morn ' might be taken to allude to his lord- 
ship's face. Cheerful countenance, you know, — oil- 
and-wine effects." 

" Perhaps that might not quite suit the temperance 
people," said Mrs Braintree, "if that idea were to 
occur to any of them. Cannot you suggest something 
that would be decorous, and at the same time lively 
and not too solemn ? " 

" What do you think of the march in the ' Pro- 
phete ' ? " said Colonel Leppell, suddenly. " Fine air, 
and the word ' Prophete,' — just enough to give a flav- 
our of — of — sanctity to the affair." 

"Eather too military, Colonel. The Bishop is a 
quiet man, and is rather inclined to ' scuttle ' in his 
manner of walking than to march. Suppose we 
reserve the ' Prophete ' for your father, Lord Hieover. 
He so rarely attends meetings of this kind, that a 
public recognition of his presence would be very 
gratifying to the " 

" Harmonium ! " interrupted the Colonel. " You are 
right — the 'Prophete' will do for the Viscount : he's not 
musical, and he does not know one tune from another, 
but it is an aristocratic march, and every one likes it." 



1G0 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

So the fine masterpiece of Meyerbeer was set down 
for the glorification of Lord Hieover. 

"As regards the Bishop," continued the Colonel, 
" do you think c He's a Jolly Good Fellow ' would be 
too light ? It's a popular air with soldiers." 

" Bather ; but that would apply very well to Colonel 
Guyse, who is, you tell me, to address the meeting." 

" True ; we'll dedicate that to Guyse when he rises 
to speak. He is a jolly good fellow, and the men of 
the Wurstede division all like him," returned the 
officer. 

"The Bishop has to be provided for," said Sarah, 
" and it is to be the first tune." 

" After ' God save the Queen ' — after that. I won't 
have her Majesty's tune played as a sign to clear the 
benches and leave the room, as is so often the case ; it is 
not at all the proper thing. 'God save the Queen ' first." 

This was acceded to, and then the question of the 
Bishop's musical reception was earnestly ventilated. 
At length the conclusion was arrived at that the 
favourite piece, " The Heavens are Telling," would be 
the thing wherewith his lordship should be received, — 
sacred, not too personal, takes in everybody, and well 
adapted to the instrument. 

" If Crasher can't play it, we'll ask the organist to 
lend us one of his apprentices. They always learn on 
such pieces as ' Hallelujah,' and all that," said the 
Colonel. 

" Pupils, you mean, Colonel, not apprentices," said 
Mrs Braintree, deprecatingly. 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARxMONIUM. 161 

"All the same. I dish up all sucking lawyers, 
musicians, and so forth as apprentices, and mean 'em 
no offence. It's an old-fashioned term, and it comes 
readier to me." 

Mrs Braintree having vindicated the dignity of the 
Precinct, graciously accepted this explanation, and then 
went thoroughly into the arrangement of the musical 
programme. 

" We must not make it too long, Colonel," the lady 
insisted with good sense ; " we must not tire people." 

" No, I was thinking of that," replied Colonel Lep- 
pell, who was quite submissive to Mrs Braintree so 
long as she agreed with him ; " but there is one thing, 
— Basil Sheepshanks must be asked to speak : good 
man, done lots of good, but he is awful at a speech. 
We must have him, for he is coming all the way from 
Wurstede-cum-Woolley to be present at this meeting." 

" What does he do ? " inquired Mrs Braintree 
sharply, who had not hitherto enjoyed the privilege 
of listening to the oratory of this gentleman from 
Wurstede-cum-Woolley. 

" Do ! " replied the Colonel viciously ; " it's what he 
does not do, ma'am, that is so trying to an audience. 
He hesitates, stops, loses the thread of his discourse, 
never tries to raise the interest of the ladies, and when 
he comes to the end of his speech, one never knows 
what he has been talking about. It's a thousand 
pities, for a nicer fellow never breathed, nor a more 
thoroughbred gentleman ; but he will speak, or rather 
bleat, in public, and it drives me wild to listen to him." 

VOL. II. L 



102 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" Mr Sheepshanks," said Mrs Braintree thoughtfully, 
" is he not the gentleman who has done so much good, 
and built a seminary for poor homeless boys in the 
neighbouring county ? " 

" That's he. Sheepshanks founded ' Scamp College,' 
as I call it, and his heart and soul is in it ; in fact, he 
Bpends all the money his wife and her mother and the 
butler allow him to have of his own patrimony on it. 
He comes in a good fourth in his own household ; but 
what's the odds ? he is happy, and Scamp College is a 
success." 

" What about his speech ? " said Mrs Braintree, 
bringing the Colonel back to the point. 

"You see, Sheepshanks is apt to make long gaps 
and sobs between his sentences, and he hesitates a 
good deal also. I think some air might be played in 
spasms — gently, which would draw off the attention of 
the public from my friend's little defects." 

" Do you think Mr Sheepshanks would like that ? " 
inquired Mrs Braintree, with a suspicion of doubt in 
her tone. 

"He ought to like it, and be thankful. Besides, 
there's an opportunity of showing the unrivalled 
touches which this instrument is capable of pro- 
ducing. Put it before Sheepshanks that he would 
act as an advertisement to the cause, and we have 
him. These little harmonies need not be intrusive, 
you know," continued the Colonel; "just melodious 
chords swept with a light hand." 

" Mr Crasher would not be equal to that kind of 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 163 

manipulation, would he ? " inquired Sarah, with a 
grin. 

" Perhaps not. I'll rout up some lady ; or you 
might assist in that way yourself, Miss Braintree." 
This the Colonel said with some emphasis, for he 
fancied he detected a disposition towards levity in 
Sarah's suggestion, backed up as it was by the grin. 

Some other selections of music were named, and 
the programme was filled with great care, Mrs Brain- 
tree wisely keeping a restraining power upon its 
length. 

" So far, so good. Now for the British army in 
general all the world over, without which you parsons 
and traders of all grades would have to sing uncom- 
monly small. We will have ' Kule, Britannia,' for the 
last, and the ' Girl he left behind him,' or perhaps the 
1 British Grenadiers/ as the lively movement to follow. 
That will finish the whole thing up splendidly." And 
the Colonel, in his enthusiasm, very nearly clapped 
Mrs Canon Braintree on the back as he spoke. 

That lady, meanwhile, accepted " Eule, Britannia," 
with alacrity ; but she made a mental reservation to 
erase the two last-named morceaux from the list as 
soon as the Colonel's back was turned. " He will 
never miss these in the excitement," thought she ; 
" and if the worst comes to the worst, Mr Bill Crasher 
will be accountable. We must get in the Doxology 
somewhere at the end." 

Colonel Leppell soon afterwards took his leave, 
after arranging that Mr Crasher should come to the 



16-t THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Colonel's office, where the harmonium was in waiting, 
and display his prowess on that instrument. The sol- 
dier did not appear to be particularly elated at this 
prospect when communicated with by his commanding 
officer ; but there was nothing else for Mr Crasher to 
do than salute the Colonel, and inquire the time when 
he should be in attendance. 

" To-morrow morning, ten o'clock sharp — just to go 
over the pieces, you know. Several amateurs will 
help at the meeting; but I want you to play the 
greater part of the military selections, and you had 
better take a turn at them in private. Westmacott 
opens with an overture and ' God Save the Queen.' " 

" Very well, Colonel, I will do my best." And so 
the man departed, wishing that he were well through 
with it, and resolving, like the good fellow that he 
was, to do his utmost to show off the powers of the 
harmonium in the best style possible. 

The practice that followed being, after the usual 
difficulties that usually attend such endeavours, suc- 
cessfully overcome, the harmonium was conveyed to 
St Jude's schoolroom, and there displayed to the 
greatest advantage. Mr Westmacott had turned out 
"trumps," as Colonel Leppell expressed it, for he 
had undertaken to play " God Save the Queen " and 
a short overture, without fee or reward ; and, what was 
more gratifying still, this gentleman had declared that 
he offered his services out of respect to the military 
of the town and county of Yarne and Wurstede. 

" Just fancy that from the Cathedral organist," said 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 165 

the staff-officer of pensioners in ecstasy to his friend 
and ally, Colonel Guyse, of Wurstecle. " Depend npon 
it, we shall break up the miserable little cliqueyness 
of the conventional cathedral town before long, by a 
strong introduction of the military element. I look 
upon Westmacott very much in the light of a conver- 
sion, — indeed I do. Why, sir, a few years ago, West- 
macott would have declared that he proferred his 
services out of respect to the Bishop's wife." 

" But you have asked the Bishop's wife to be present 
at the meeting ? " said Colonel Guyse. " I suppose she 
would be reckoned as the first lady of the town ? " 

" I fancy the mayor's wife would claim precedence, 
strictly speaking, but I am not sure, and it don't 
matter. I have asked the Bishop to bring his wife and 
lady friends, just as I have asked Mr Smiles the baker 
to bring his wife, who is a fine-looking woman, and 
very nicely mannered, — far more of a lady than " 

" Never mind," said Colonel Guyse ; " don't be draw- 
ing comparisons. Now let us see what I am to do. 
How many men am I to bring up from Wurstede ? " 

" Bring up as many as you can, and let them be the 
pick of the lot. That Sergeant Armstrong for one, he 
might be Goliath of Gath ; and you have a couple of 
nice lads among the drums, just of a size, — they would 
look well stationed at each side of the entrance-doors, 
with plates in their hands, to collect the cash. All 
the women like the look of a pretty boy, especially if 
he be in uniform." 

Colonel Guyse grinned, but wisely held his peace ; 



166 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

and the two fell into ways and means, and parted in 
much mutual admiration. " Kalph is a queer fellow," 
thought Colonel Guyse as he walked down the street, 
"but he is thoroughly in earnest. I believe he would 
20 through fire and water for his men, and I do hope 
this meeting of his will go off well." 

There was every chance of it, for when the day 
arrived the sun shone gladly; and there was such 
a muster of military, retired and otherwise, that the 
streets of Yarne glowed with colour, and the old time- 
worn houses of its narrow ways seemed to laugh out- 
right as their brown and venerable faces were flapped 
by the flags which streamed out from their diamond- 
paned casements. Carriages from the country, laden 
with ladies and pretty children and flowers, poured in 
hourly ; and everybody went to lunch with everybody 
else, — a general feeling of amusement being mixed up 
with the universal sympathy with Ralph and his 
cause. 

That gallant officer drove in from Blythe, his 
famous rakish-looking coach being literally crammed 
inside and outside with handsome young faces of both 
sexes, — all of them ready to swear that day that, after 
all, there was no better man than their governor. The 
four horses went so well, that Dick gravely asserted 
that their instinct must have impressed the fact upon 
the whole team that they were going to a special 
meeting wherein decorum was the pervading element. 
Lord Hieover actually had come out to Blythe from 
the hotel whereat he usually put up, in a nice little 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 167 

carriage drawn by a pair of ponys, in order to fetch 
Adelaide, and to convey her in peace and quiet, as the 
Viscount said, " to the scene of action." A respectable- 
looking groom attended this vehicle, which the old 
soldier of eighty years drove himself, and drove 
well. 

Alick wandered about the town, looked approvingly 
on all, and then lunched at the Braintree's hospitable 
table. He afterwards went and changed a sovereign 
(buying a quire of writing-paper as an excuse), taking 
care to have the principal part of the change in 
shilling pieces. One crown he put aside carefully, 
reserving it for the collection should he be specially 
moved to extravagant expenditure; but if a shilling 
would pass muster, Alick resolved to bestow that coin 
and no more on what he considered to be a whimsy 
of his brother Ealph. 

As the hands of the town clock veered towards the 
hour of two, the little playground which surrounded 
St. Jude's schoolroom was filled with an unwonted 
company — to wit, a number of the pensioners drawn 
up in a square, and their band playing " Hearts of 
Oak " with a vigour and timbre enough to electrify 
a tortoise. Soldiers in different uniforms, amongst 
which that of the Yeomanry Cavalry of Yarneshire 
predominated, perambulated the streets in all direc- 
tions, and finally concentrated themselves into the 
playground, waiting respectfully till the company 
should assemble and file up the staircase which led 
to the schoolroom, and which, prettily decorated and 



168 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

well arranged as to space, was very soon closely 
packed with a goodly assembly, — the harmonium 
occupying the floor in front of the platform, and 
nearly vis-a-vis to the first row of seats. Mrs 
Braintree had taken care that the first chair on the 
left of this row should be reserved for the occupation 
of the Bishop's wife. This lady soon arrived, bringing 
her husband under her wing, and as soon as that 
gentle and good dignitary ascended the platform, the 
meeting was opened with the formalities usual at the 
like gatherings. After a little whispering and polite 
" asiding," Ralph was moved to the chair, wherein he 
shone resplendent, and made the Bishop look very 
much like his own private chaplain. 

Then Mr Westmacott, at a sign from the chairman, 
played "God Save the Queen;" but as the whole 
audience liberally contributed a hearty vocal ohli- 
gato to this fine air, it cannot be said that the merits 
of the harmonium could be fairly represented by the 
first trial. " The Heavens are Telling," which followed, 
gave, however, the fullest evidence that the harmonium 
was equal to any fair requirement of its powers ; and 
as this piece had turned into the " overture," which 
was especially intended for the glorification of the 
Bishop, his lordship came forward and avowed his 
conviction that he only expressed the opinion of those 
present, when he emphatically declared that Colonel 
Leppell deserved the thanks of the community at 
large for introducing this noble instrument of music. 
Nor did he forget to mention the great discrimination 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 169 

which that gallant officer had displayed in the selec- 
tion of this article — "for," said the Bishop, as he 
concluded his address, "we all know there are har- 
moniums and harmoniums." 

Then came a speech from Colonel Guyse, which 
was much applauded, as that favourite officer of the 
Wurstede Militia expatiated upon the right of the 
soldiers to have good music in their barrack chapel, 
and the privilege which it must be to the inhabitants 
of Yarne and its neighbourhood to be invited to pay 
for it. During this address Mr Westmacott, having 
another engagement, went his way, generously leaving 
a sovereign in the plate as he passed through the door. 

It was now Mr Crasher's turn to " preside at the 
instrument ; " and as that good fellow took his seat, 
the knowledge that he was nearly opposite the Bishop's 
wife did not tend to raise his self-confidence, knowing, 
as he did, that the ear and eye of a severe amateur 
were upon him. He, however, pulled himself together 
under the benign smile with which Mrs Canon Brain- 
tree greeted his appearance ; and he played a few 
chords with the desperate audacity which often elec- 
trifies timid people into action when they find them- 
selves in situations from whence escape is impossible. 
The piece to be now played was the march from the 
" Prophete ; " and as this was intended to compliment 
Lord Hieover especially, Mrs Brain tree, with a view 
to awakening that nobleman to his responsibilities, 
poked him on the arm to draw his attention to the 
performance. The Viscount, who had forgotten all 



170 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

about it, and not having the faintest idea of what the 
( a lion's wife would be at, thought it was required of 
him to back up Mr Crasher, and so called out, "Very 
good, ver — ry good ; go on, my man ! " 

This, as it proved, was easier said than done. 
Crasher had played about four bars of the march, 
when, to his own amazement as well as to the con- 
Bteraation of the company, the instrument suddenly 
took matters into its own hands, and precipitated it- 
self into the depths of the Hundredth Psalm without 
the faintest sign of hesitation or compromise. " Not 
that now !" called out Colonel Leppell, — "a little later 
on, please: don't you see that the thing from the 
* Prophute ' comes on next ? " Despite this reminder, 
the air of the Hundredth Psalm resounded in all its 
fulness to the very end, — the unfortunate Crasher 
mean while pulling out and driving in sundry stops, 
in order to reduce the instrument to silence. A sug- 
gestion, emanating from Mrs Braintree, ran along the 
line of the front-row seats, and was whispered to Mr 
Crasher, — "Take your feet off the sounding-board, 
and push in all the stops." This the performer, purple 
in the face from annoyance and discomfiture, imme- 
diately proceeded to do, but his efforts were fruitless, 
and the harmonium was now in full swing for the 
Austrian Hymn. Every one looked towards "the 
chair," the occupant of which- was speechless from 
amazement. 

.Air Sheepshanks came to the rescue, and assured 
the audience that this contretemps was only the matter 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 171 

of a few moments ; the instrument would soon run 
itself out, &c, &c. Meanwhile he would suggest to 
Colonel Leppell that Mr Stokes might be invited to 
address the meeting. That gentleman, he believed, 
had promised to contribute a paper upon organs from 
their invention to the latest time. Here Mr Sheep- 
shanks amiably remarked that now was the fitting 
time for Mr Stokes to ventilate the matter, and he 
expressed himself convinced that the knowledge 
that Mr Stokes possessed of the subject would 
eventuate in " a lucid ex — ex — planation of 
the peculiar conduct of the instrument before them, 
which he would designate as a — a — musical va — 



l o J 



vagary. 



Mr Stokes scowled at Mr Sheepshanks, and was 
about to reply " that he was not going to lecture in 
such a din," when the harmonium changed tune again, 
and wailed out the melancholy psalm known as " St 
Bride's," the words of the psalm being, " From lowest 
depths of woe." This was too much for the audience ; 
the whole assemblage literally shouted with laughter, 
and nobody seemed to enjoy the fun more than did 
the Bishop, who, in a gentle " aside," proposed to 
Colonel Guyse to have the instrument removed. 
" Just give it another chance," said " the chair," to 
whom this suggestion had been conveyed; "it can't 
go on for ever — confound it : and Sheepshanks, do say 
something to keep things going — a word here and 

there. Tell 'em about the effect of music on Sea 

your industrial place ; do, there's a good fellow ! " 



172 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Mr Sheepshanks, who was a good fellow in every 
sense of the term, complied ; and as the tune then at 
work was in a low minor key, he succeeded in making 
1 limself audible. And whether it was from the stimulus 
of the excitement, or from the protection of the accom- 
paniment, certain it is that Mr Sheepshanks delivered 
himself of a capital address, and was never known to 
hesitate as little in his speech. He received a regular 
ovation ; and as the harmonium had now entered upon 
the " Portuguese Hymn," he sensibly proposed that the 
meeting should turn itself into a sacred concert, and 
that all should stand up and sing, "0 come, all ye 
faithful." The audience heartily concurred, and the 
proposition was acted upon with the greatest celerity, 
great fear being exhibited lest the harmonium should 
get too much ahead, and have it out before the first 
vers s well through. The air being a popular 

one, it was twice repeated, and so the "Portuguese 
Hymn " went with a will. The sweet " Sicilian 
Mariner's Hymn " followed, and this too the har- 
monium graciously repeated. 

During the singing of this last, Kalph's mind was 
greatly exercised as to what to do with Mr Stokes. 
" He must read his paper, and in peace," whispered he 
to Colonel Guyse, who stood near him. "Stokes 
has come a long way to oblige me. He's a highly 
scientific man — don't care a rush for psalm-singino-. 
He's looking as black as thunder. What shall we 
do?" 

" Tell off three or four men, and have the thing put 



AX AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 173 

into the playground at once," replied Colonel Guyse, 
practically. 

Then Ealph rose to his feet, and made it known to 
the assembly that he was not the man to deprive them 
of the benefit of the able and scientific address which 
Mr Stokes, of half the literary societies under heaven, 
was there expressly to deliver — " the scientific address 
of the programme, in fact " (here Mr Stokes bowed, 
and his stern visage relaxed into a grin). As the 
harmonium could not be quenched, continued the 
Colonel, he would request their patience for a few 
minutes, whilst the offending instrument was con- 
veyed into the playground below. 

Three men, at a signal from Colonel Guyse, at once 
lifted the harmonium away, headed by Mr Crasher, 
who had been privately enjoined to keep watch and 
ward over this treasure in the place of its deportation ; 
and then Mr Stokes came forward and delivered an 
able and very interesting short lecture on " Sounding 
Instruments," from the first organ on record, unto the 
apparently unmanageable specimen which even then 
was testifying its powers beneath the rug which, in 
order to deaden its sounds, some one had thrown over 
it. Notwithstanding this precaution, the breeze wafted 
the subdued strains of the tune on hand through the 
open window. 

Mr Stokes then explained that some harmoniums 
were constructed with a barrel within, which, being- 
wound up and set for a certain number of tunes, could 
be used like a chamber-organ, without any touch of 



174 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

the hand whatsoever. " It is possible," he said, " that 
our friend has been wound up, but the works being 
new and stiff, they have not got themselves into proper 
action until the manipulations of the performers, and 
possibly the drawing out of the various stops, had 
loosened the machinery, and set the interior mechan- 
ism agoing." This, on closer inspection, proved to be 
the case ; and Colonel Leppell discovered, to his great 
delight, that the instrument, which was the object at 
once of so much solicitude and annoyance, was really 
a most valuable acquisition. 

As Mr Stokes concluded, the harmonium below 
struck up the Doxology in its loudest and most stri- 
dent tones. To step down from the platform, and 
roar out at the window, " Take off that rug immedi- 
ately ! " was but the work of a moment for Colonel 
Leppell. " Now let's have the Doxology with the full 
benefit of the harmonium accompaniment," said he, 
addressing the meeting. " I am sure our friends will 
give as heartily as they can sing ; and so here goes — 
1 Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.' The 
plates will be handed round, ladies and gentlemen ; 
the plan saves a crush at the door, and I believe the 
collection will benefit by free circulation." 

The pretty drummer-boys then handed the plates 
to every individual present, whilst the Doxology was 
being sung with stentorian emphasis and expression, 
— the harmonium graciously going over the tune to 
the extent of three verses. 

The collection was soon gathered, and the plates 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 175 

containing the money were placed on a little table 
which stood on the platform immediately in front of 
the chair. Then a vote of thanks to the chairman 
was proposed. This passed with all the honours ; and 
then Colonel Leppell rose to his feet and delivered his 
valedictory speech — a speech so characteristic and so 
remarkable, that for years afterwards it was remem- 
bered as the very pith and salt of the oratory which 
had been poured forth on the occasion of the Harmon- 
ium Fund meeting at Yarne. 

" It was impossible," the Colonel said, " to give ade- 
quate expression to the feelings of pride and elation 
which animated his whole being as he looked round 
and surveyed such an assemblage of beauty, learning, 
talent, and excellence, which he might say, in the lan- 
guage of King Solomon, encompassed him about on 
every side. Haw ! — yes, it was a good meet, a very 
good meet, and he had no doubt that a nearer acquaint- 
ance with the collection would entirely confirm this 
happy impression. Whilst referring to this last most 
important subject, he would ask one of his friends to 
reckon up the amount in the plates whilst he read out 
a list of donations which had been sent to him by 
persons who could not attend the meeting. Here they 
were : First, Mr and Mrs Summerbell, two guineas. 
These good farmers, you see, although they are always 
abusing the times and the weather, can stump up 
handsomely at a pinch. Secondly, old Mr Kingsford 
of the Bays, one pound. It might have been more, 
but he is a worthy good friend. (' Hear, hear,' from 



176 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

( lolonel Guyse, vigorously, who sought to smother the 
lirst observation relative to this donation.) 

• Now comes a noble gift— ten pounds from the old 

wo lady, I mean, at Catalonia, Miss Elmore. She's 

;, tramp, that old ca lady, for she always helps 

the soldiers ; and though she never stirs abroad, her 
presence is always felt, my dear friends— felt by her 
good deeds— haw— hum— good deeds— doing good 
works, and never talking about 'em. People do wrong 
to run down old maids; they are great helps and 
blessings in the aggregate. God bless 'em all, both 
rich and poor. (' Hear, hear,' from the Bishop.) Here, 
again, is a most generous gift, although the amount is 
small — ten shillings and sixpence from the Eeverend 
Abbe Bouse, Eoman Catholic priest, with thanks to 
Colonel Leppell for allowing the Catholic soldiers to 
atten mass so regularly. Now I call this a large- 
hearted, kind, unsolicited act ; and I should just like 
to hear any one running down the Abbe to me — I'd 
make it hot for 'em. (' Trust you for that, Colonel,' 
roared a voice from the door.) Well, here is one 
ponnd from the head huntsman of the Y. Y. H., who 
can't be here because he is down with rheumatism — 
haw. I am sure you will all wish this good Christian 
many a run over the country yet. Now here come 
two pounds and sevenpence, collected in pence, and 
two shillings and sixpence from an individual who 
sums himself a ' Converted Cobbler.' Wish he had 
given me his address ; we might have all put a little 
shoe-mending in his way. However, he brings up the 



AX AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 177 

rear of the special donations. Now let us see what 
the collection amounts to." 

A slip of paper was handed to the speaker, who, 
with a face radiant with satisfaction, announced that 
the munificent sum of eighty-three pounds nine shil- 
lings had been contributed by the assemblage there 
present. 

" Whilst expressing my warm thanks to all for this 
generous help," the Colonel went on to say, " I should 
be wanting in gratitude — haw — gratitude and com- 
mon courtesy, did I not specially thank my fellow- 
worker, Mrs Canon Braintree, for the assistance she 
has rendered me in this business. This good lady 
deserves a vote of thanks, for she sticks to her work 
all round, and keeps residence, and spends the in- 
come — or Canon Braintree's income, it's all the same 
— in the place, a virtue which has not always been 
practised ; but that is neither here nor there. Mrs 
Braintree has devoted the best part of her life to 
pious — pious — well, pious begging ; and to her honour 
it may be said that there is no better manager in the 
way of getting money out of people's pockets — in fact, 
she has grown grey in the service." 

Here no one could repress a smile, for Mrs Brain- 
tree wore a coffee-coloured front, which was as often 
awry as not, and which was certainly innocent of any 
attempt at imposition ; so she naturally swelled with 
indignation as the Colonel repeated with triumphant 
elation : " Yes, grown grey in the service ; and the in- 
habitants of Yarne were to be congratulated on such 

VOL. II. M 



178 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

an acquisition. The wife of a Canon of Yarne Cath- 
edral going about among the poor, and doing her duty 
as any other clergyman's wife, was a refreshing sight, 
and long might this worthy woman be spared to fill 
the post she represented so well." 

" What about the Canon ? " called out a voice from 
the lower end of the room. 

Ralph glared at the spot from whence this irrever- 
ent inquiry proceeded, but not being able to discover 
the offender, he determined to leave personalities alone, 
and proceeded to conclude his peroration with what 
he intended to be an overwhelming tribute to the 
ladies in general. 

" I cannot conclude," the Colonel said, " without 
tendering my warmest thanks to the ladies for their 
presence here to-day. They have given a warmth 
and brightness to this meeting, and have made up 
for any — haw — any disappointment which the har- 
monium may have occasioned. Without the aid of 
the ladies, this wonderful instrument could never 
have been purchased ; and I am sure I express the 
opinion of every man here, when I say that without 
them life would be without music — haw — and — haw 
— veal without salt. The women are the working- 
bees of humanity, adding honey to the wax ; they are 
the flowers in our path of life, and without them — 
without them — haw — without them, not a man of us 
would be here ! " 

Three rattling cheers for the ladies and Colonel 
Leppell, and one for everybody else, were the spon- 



AN AFTERNOON WITH A HARMONIUM. 179 

taneous results of this last speech, and Colonel Lep- 
pell descended from the platform covered with glory. 
The "meeting," meanwhile, poured out of the room 
and down the staircase, making directly for the har- 
monium, which, divested of its rug, stood very much 
like an unrepentant sinner in the middle of the play- 
ground. 

Orders had been given that this recreant instru- 
ment should be conveyed at once in a cart to the 
barracks ; but although it was popularly supposed to 
be pumped out, it did not allow itself to be lifted into 
that vehicle without displaying a parting evidence of 
its vitality. Just as it was being hoisted from the 
ground, it emitted so hideous a squeak that the 
men employed to convey it away nearly dropped it 
from sheer terror. A stop had been inadvertently left 
out, and the sounding-board being pressed in lifting 
the instrument towards the cart, these had conjointly 
caused the noise, which, for the nonce, had seriously 
startled the bystanders. At length, amid laughter 
and cheers, it was safely deposited in the cart ; some 
branches of laurel, which had decorated the school- 
room, were thrown over it, and the vehicle was bowled 
away in great force by two youngsters, who drove at 
a slashing pace, and finally discharged their cargo at 
the barracks, with the valedictory parting that they 
" wished that blessed harmonium would do 'em much 
good, and never take to squeaking when Colonel Lep- 
pell was preaching." 



180 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 

"Adelaide," said Lord Hieover, after the universal 
greetings and hand-shakings had somewhat subsided, 
" I don't want to attend this dinner which the officers 
of Yarne are giving to their brethren of Wurstede, 
and, what is more, I won't attend it. The fact is, I 
public dinners, and I am feeling my age also. 
"Will you think me very intrusive if I ask you to 
allow me to return to Hunter's Lodge with you, and 
remain the night there ? I can drive you back, and 
Alick and Ralph can make my excuses, or perhaps I 
had better write a note at the hotel. Can you make 
room for me?" 

' : Most willingly," answered the Viscount's daughter- 
in-law, who, it had been universally remarked, had 
not looked so handsome for years as she then looked. 
Mrs Leppell was not only becomingly attired, but her 
cheek was tinged with a faint soft bloom, and an un- 
wonted animation brightened her features. 

" Make room for you ? most willingly," she repeated, 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 181 

in answer to his lordship. " You know that our ac- 
commodation is by no means luxurious. Ealph will 
be as delighted as I am, when he knows that you are 
staving beneath our roof." 

" But about that horrid coach, and the people that 
came in it," said the old gentleman, in dread that he 
might be brought in contact with that vehicle, or still 
worse, with some of it's occupants, — " does it return to 
Blythe ? " 

" Ealph arranged with Mr Langton that he should 
drive the coach back, and deposit the seat -holders 
at their several homes. I hope you will not object to 
Clara coming with us in the pony carriage. I don't 
like her to return among that wild crew without her 
father." 

" You are quite right. Henderson can get a horse 
from the hotel, and ride after us with my dressing 
things. Ealph, I take it, makes his toilet at the 
barracks ? " 

" Yes ; he always does so when he dines in town." 

" Well, we will have a quiet little dinner together, 
which I shall enjoy thoroughly. The crush and heat 
of that room have made me long to get into your 
sweet garden again. Allow me to bring some fish ; 
it can easily be put under the seat of the carriage 
without inconveniencing anybody." 

The pleasure conferred by the homeliness of this pro- 
position, together with its being so totally unexpected, 
imparted a vivacity to Mrs Leppell's manner which of 
late years had rarely been witnessed. She acquiesced 



182 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

in the arrangement with thanks and her brightest 
smile; yet the water glistened in her glorious eyes 
from the intensity of her feelings. Her husband's 
lather, for the first time for a lengthened period, 
had addressed her by her Christian name, and had 
proposed to come as a guest under their roof ; surely 
there was going, at the last, to be peace and forgive- 
ness amongst all the .members of the house of Hieover. 
Was not her heart still palpitating at the remem- 
brance of the affectionate nod and smile with which 
Ralph had greeted her as he descended from the 
platform, amid the ringing cheers which were ex- 
cited, perhaps, more as a recognition of his earnest 
goodwill than as a tribute either to his oratory or 
to his tact ? The combination of these auspicious 
circumstances certainly caused Mrs Leppell to feel 
happier and more hopeful than she had done for 
many a long clay ; and so she gathered her young 
daughter and her purchases into the little carriage, 
called at the confectioner's as a precaution against 
her cook, and then drove to the hotel, where she 
picked up the Viscount, and so happily back to her 
own home. 

Shortly after the little dinner had come off, Ade- 
laide found herself walking in the garden with her 
father-in-law's arm within her own, discoursing of 
those terrible ways and means, which had been the 
lions in her path during the whole length of her 
married life. The Viscount first spoke of Duke ; his 
language was decided but not unkind. " The restraint 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 183 

Duke was now under was the best thing for him," 
said Lord Hieover ; " and after all, the running away 
with an heiress was no moral sin. He hoped much 
from the young wife ; and he declared himself disposed 
to think well of her from the way in which she had 
worked not only to remain with Duke, but also to give 
up her income for his use. " Foolish thing to do, of 
course," commented the Viscount, " but still, it shows 
that the girl is thoroughly unselfish. I hate your 
calculating, worldly wise young people." 

Adelaide listened in silence, pondering on the sad- 
dest part of Duke's career, hoping, perhaps, that his 
moral sins might never be laid bare in the grand- 
father's sight. She was, however, thankful when the 
subject was turned in the direction of her other son 
Dick. 

" He is a fine lad," the Viscount said, — " a very fine 
lad, and it is time he went to another school. Rugby, 
I should say ; good discipline there, and no nonsense. 
Xow if you like, I will undertake to keep Dick at 
Rugby for three years, paying all expenses. Don't 
thank me, consult Ralph ; it will do if you let me 
know in a week. I feel that my clays are numbered, 
and it is high time that something should be done 
for the younger members of the family. I have left 
Ralph an annuity ; it is the wiser and the better 
course. You know well, though you are too good 
to admit it, that if Ralph had ten thousand a-year, 
he would spend twenty thousand. It may be a satis- 
faction to you to be assured that I have made some 



1 84 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

provision for him, and also that you and your children 
have not been forgotten." 

She could not reply: she could only press the old 
man's arm, and inwardly bless the Father of all who 
had so touched the springs of benevolence in the Vis- 
count's heart. The manner of the bequest was, per- 
haps, quite as grateful to her as the bequest itself: 
be that as it may, a load heavy as lead was at one 
stroke lifted from off her mind. The sigh which she 
heaved was a sigh of relief, and the tears which she 
could not quite restrain were tears of happiness, — the 
drops which the sun of human kindness had turned to 
dew. 

A little after ten o'clock the Viscount retired, say- 
ing, as he was about to do so — " What about Kalph ? 
who is waiting up for him ? " 

" I shall do so this evening," Mrs Leppell answered, 
" for Ben Eifles has been sent into Yarne to help 
wait at the dinner. It is seldom that I sit up alone, 
but I shall do so to-night, as Ealph is sure not to be 
late : so many of the guests will have to get away 
by the last mail, that the Colonel must needs return 
early for lack of company almost." 

"After my man has finished with me, he may as 
well sit up. I don't like to think that you will be 
waiting alone," Lord Hieover replied. 

"Don't trouble about that; it will be only an 
hour or so at latest, and Ealph has the dog-cart, 
a fast mare, and Ben Eifles. The latter is a great 
help," she said with a smile ; " he manages Ealph so 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 185 

well, and never lets him stay late at dinners if he 
can help it. I have several things to do before I 
go to bed, and so time will not press heavily. Good 
night, sir ; thank yon heartily for making this day a 
red-letter day to me." 

" God bless yon, my dear daughter," was the reply. 
"Good night: if Balph is late, just go to bed and 
trust to somebody hearing the bell. Good night once 
more." 

Mrs Leppell soon afterwards went to her mother's 
room, and saw that both invalid and nurse were in 
their beds, and, as she thought, quietly at rest. Think- 
ing that Lady Asher was asleep, she, after looking at 
her for some moments, moved softly away ; but the 
old lady called her back, and putting out her hand, 
drew her daughter towards her. " Kiss me, my dear," 
she said ; " you look so well — so like what you were 
when you were a girl. God bless you, Adelaide ; you 
are a good dutiful daughter." 

Leaving her mother's room with this benison on 
her head, Mrs Leppell made her way to the rooms 
where her boys and girls were sleeping, — stooping 
over them, yearning over them, but through great love 
not touching them. " Poor darlings ! " she murmured ; 
"they are hot and tired, and are so restless that a 
feather-touch might rouse them. God bless them ! " 
Then she sped to the nursery rooms above, where 
her little children, fresh and open-mouthed, slept 
soundly and well. These she covered and kissed 
tenderly, standing by their cribs, and wondering if 



186 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

the angels in heaven could be fairer and sweeter 
than they. Then back to the drawing-room, where 
she stood some minutes before an exquisite crayon 
portrait of Mary Clavering. "My heavenly Moll! 
AIi, will your life be happy?" she whispered, "so 
gentle, so loving as you are. Ah no, I cannot, I 
will not think that sorrow can touch you : to God's 
keeping I wholly commit you, my dear, dear Mary." 
Taking a tea-rose from a vase, and holding it close to 
her and caressing it as if she folded her daughter in 
her arms, she sat down in a low chair to think, and 
from thinking she fell a-dreaming till all things were 
lost to her remembrance. 

Two hours later Lord Hieover's attendant was 
aroused by hearing Colonel Leppell's voice outside 
the house, loudly expressing wonder that no one had 
ansv the summons at the bell. Knowing that 

his father was in the house, the Colonel did not 
in consequence employ his usual emphatic and per- 
emptory language, nor stamp about,. nor hammer on 
the door with his whip, as he possibly would have 
done had Hunter's Lodge held none but its usual 
inmates. Still the appeals at the bell were vigorous, 
and as no response came, Mr Henderson, who had 
been aroused easily, in consequence of sleeping in a 
strange bed, concluded to think that Mrs Leppell, 
having been kept up longer than she expected, had 
retired to her room, and left her husband's admission 
to chance. Consequently the man hastened to open 
the front door, begging the Colonel, as he did so, to 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 187 

enter as quietly as possible, — "for his lordship," he 
said, " if startled out of his first sleep, seldom rested 
again till daybreak." 

" I suppose Mrs Leppell has gone to bed," said the 
Colonel, under his breath. " No, she must be in the 
drawing-room, I see a light there, — unless the lamp 
has been left burning for me." As he spoke, he 
strode through the hall and entered the room. 

His first act was to turn the light of the lamp to 
its full strength, just looking cursorily about, evi- 
dently not expecting to find his wife there. It was her 
usual custom to leave a light for him in one of the 
sitting-rooms, on those occasions when her husband 
would probably return through the stables, or be ad- 
mitted by an outdoor servant. 

Suddenly the bright colour of her evening dress 
caught his eye, and thus attracted, he exclaimed, 
" Why, Adelaide, asleep, old woman ? Here I am, 
safe and sound ; come, wake up, and let us be off to 
bed — it's past twelve o'clock ! " 

The rigidity of her figure and the stony silence 
alarmed him. " Adelaide," he said, in a low frightened 
tone, advancing close to her, " are you ill ? What's 
this ? Eouse up, I tell you, Adelaide." 

His words appeared to drop harshly one by one, 
for Colonel Leppell was one of the number of those 
people who become angry in proportion as they be- 
come frightened. This lasted but a moment ; he 
looked again, then touched her hand as it lay on 
her lap with the tea-rose clasped tightly within the 



188 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

fingers. That touch told all the tale, — Ealph knew 
that his wife was dead. 

How he got back into the hall and fell there prone 
to the earth, he never remembered, — never knew that, 
ere consciousness left him, a strange wild sobbing cry, 
a summons for help, burst from his lips, which awoke 
many of the household in terror, and brought Ben 
Rifles (who had been outside sitting in the dog-cart 
awaiting final orders) like lightning into the house, to 
cast himself clown by his side and wrench open the 
fastenings of his dress. Never had he discerned his 
old father, more grey than pale, bending over him 
with horror-stricken gaze, feebly inquiring what all 
this might mean ; and the old man's faithful attendant 
gently alluring him away from the place wherein 
Death was master. Never perceived he that Pro- 
thero, with the vigilance and intuition of much ex- 
perience, had darted from the room of her mistress, 
in the full conviction that her fears entertained for 
some time past were now suddenly and most painfully 
realised, and that something was very wrong with 
Mrs Leppell. The woman just looked at the Colonel 
as he lay on the hall-floor, walked straight into the 
drawing-room, and went up and stood in the presence 
of the dead. 

" Poor darling ! " she said, in a broken voice ; " dear, 
sweet lady, she has left us. I am not surprised, Mr 
Henderson, — I have long expected this. Ah yes, 
disease of the heart has done it." 

The terrified Henderson, who had followed Mrs 



THE AXGEL OF DEATH. 189 

Prothero into the room, begged her to advise him 
how to act. " The Viscount won't leave his son," he 
whispered, — " he thinks he is in a dangerous fit. I 
dare not tell him Mrs Leppell is dead ; and we must 
keep him out of this room. 

Prothero glanced into the hall, where the Viscount 
and Ben Eifles were still engaged, the one tending, 
the other watching over, the now motionless form of 
Colonel Leppell. She turned the lamp partially down, 
and then, with Henderson's assistance, placed the cold 
dead body on a sofa and reverently covered the face : 
they came out together, and Prothero locked the door. 

Going straight to Lord Hieover, she begged him to 
return to his room, for she had something to say to 
him. " The Colonel will recover soon," she said, " and 
Ben must drive into Yarne at once for the doctor : Mr 
Henderson, I am sure, will raise the Colonel into a sit- 
ting position and attend to him." Then she drew the 
poor old Viscount into his room and told him all. 

It seemed abrupt, but it was the right thing to do. 
Alarmed as Lord Hieover naturally was, the know- 
ledge of the real truth explained of itself the reason 
of this sudden seizure ; and though he persisted in 
returning to watch his son, the vague expression of 
alarm and apprehension had vanished from his face. 
Further assistance being summoned, Colonel Leppell 
was with great difficulty undressed and placed on his 
father's bed ; the anxiety concerning his state ma- 
terially assisted in diverting the Viscount's mind from 
the terrible calamity which had befallen the family. 



190 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Indeed, in fussing about in a half distracted manner, 
and seriously impeding Mrs Prothero and Henderson 
in their good .offices, the Viscount contracted a fixed 
idea that his visit at that time to Hunter's Lodge was 
a special guiding of Providence, and further, was fully 
persuaded that nothing could be done without his ad- 
vice and aid. 

Pass we over in the silence of sympathy the sur- 
prise which fell upon all, both far and near, when the 
reason for the mourning aspect of Hunter's Lodge was 
given abroad. The frantic grief of the children, the 
dumb stricken sorrow of the older folk, the lamen- 
tations of the servants, as they wondered how the 
house was to get on in the future, — it was all so sin- 
cere and so sad, that those outside this sorrow felt it 
kinder, for a while at least, to keep away. 

" He giveth his beloved sleep," said good Mr Fane, 
as he strove to comfort the bereaved shrinking mother ; 
and then he went to the grandfather and reminded 
him of Mary and Mr Clavering. " Shall I telegraph 
for them ? " he inquired ; " it will break the child's 
heart if she is not in time to see her mother once 
more. What is their address ? " 

No one knew. The last letter had announced that 
they were going into some out-of-the-way place in 
Styria ; none could say what the address was, and all 
were ignorant of the whereabouts of the letter which 
contained this information. A conjecture was haz- 
arded that it might be permissible to search the 
Colonel's den ; but even in this misery it was thought 



THE AKGEL OF DEATH. 191 

better to wait and see if Colonel Leppell would be in 
a condition to issue his own orders ; if this were im- 
possible, then Lord Hieover must act. Uncle Alick 
had been sent for, but he had gone to Wurstede with 
Colonel Guyse. 

The lapse of a few hours brought return of sense to 
Colonel Leppell, in so far as the full comprehension 
of what had occurred, together with the responsi- 
bilities which his sudden bereavement had cast upon 
him, were concerned ; but as to any active manage- 
ment or capability of issuing orders, he was as help- 
less as the youngest child in the nursery above. 

He seemed to entertain absolute horror of burying 
his wife. She was dead, that he knew and under- 
stood ; but she was in the house still, and near him. 
To carry her away and hide her in the earth, out of 
his sight for evermore ! it must not be done — it was 
not to be spoken of. And so, declining all comfort, 
he turned his face to the wall ; and refusing all solace, 
he mourned bitterly. 

Thus two clays passed wearily away. Alick Leppell 
had come post-haste to Hunter's Lodge, and wisely 
persuaded his father to return to his home, — for the 
first excitement being over, the old man was begin- 
ning to miss his accustomed comforts, and to become 
querulous and discontented. The manner of the former 
was so kind towards Clara, that the girl began to think 
that Uncle Alick had been sadly misrepresented and 
misunderstood : she, however, could not persuade her 
father to admit his brother to his presence. 



102 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" I will come again the day after to-morrow," said 
.Air Leppell, in answer to Clara's expressions of regret. 
" Poor Ralph hardly knows what he is about, I dare- 
say ; lie will look up in a few hours. Tell him I have 
persuaded the Viscount to return to Hieover." 

The imperative necessities of the situation, however, 
demanded that Colonel Leppell should exert himself. 
Mrs Brain tree had called and declared that the Colonel 
must be roused, and even offered to stay at Hunter's 
Lodge and direct matters till some of the female 
relatives could arrive. This threat had a very pro- 
nounced effect, for as soon as Mrs Braintree's proposi- 
tions in the guise of a message reached Ptalph's ears, 
he was stimulated into decided and vigorous action. 

" I'll have no woman ordering and directing here," 
said he. "I suppose Mrs Braintree thinks, because I 
allowed her head in the harmonium business, that she 
is going to reign supreme in my house. She's a very 
good person, no doubt, but I don't like your managing 
clergywomen. My compliments, and say I am much 
obliged, but my daughter and Mrs Prothero are quite 
sufficient for my needs, with a lady for whom I am 
going to send ; and mind, don't let in any more visitors." 
So saying, the widower shot into his den and banged 
the door of that retreat. 

" I am so glad he's cross and put out," said Mrs 
Prothero, drawing comfort from these symptoms. 
" When men like your father, Miss Clara, get very 
meek and mild in their illnesses or in their troubles, 
it's often all up with them." 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 193 

" Do you think you could get papa to make some 
arrangements about — about — you know, — about the 
funeral ? " 

" Don't cry, my child," said Prothero, who, good soul, 
suffered as much as any of them; "don't upset me, 
there's a clear, or I shall never be able to get through 
my duties. If I break down, what will you dear chil- 
dren do ? " 

" Ah, what indeed ! " said poor Clara. " You are the 
only person who is not afraid of papa." 

" I am going to him now," returned Prothero, " for 
I am so anxious to get Mary's address (I can't call her 
Mrs Clavering) ; and we must see who is to be invited 
to the funeral : it's dreadful to speak of, I know, but 
it must be done." 

Trembling, and really very nervous, Prothero never- 
theless assumed a business-like manner, and set her 
face as a flint as she knocked at the door of the den. 
Like a true woman placed in the like circumstances, 
she did not plunge into her business at once, but 
approached by zigzags. 

" Oh Colonel," said she, " a telegram has arrived 
from the hotel in Paris where dear Ma Mrs Claver- 
ing was last. Her present address is unknown there, 
but I have been thinking that Mr Glascott or Miss 
Clavering ought to have it. Had we not better send 
to them ? besides, he " — alluding to Mr Glascott — " he 
ought to be asked to attend the — to attend down here, 
— Miss Clavering is a near connection of the family 
now." 

VOL. II. n 



19-4 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Colonel Leppell, to the surprise of Prothero, answered 
her quietly, and even gently. " You are right ; send a 
telegram to Mr Glascott at once,— his bank address will 
be the safer. And now tell Panes to take the dog-cart, 
and drive over to Pinnacles and bring Miss Panshawe 
back here. Tell her she must come. She is the very 
person for me to have in the house. I mean no offence 
to you, Bothero, — you are invaluable ; but Lady Asher 
keeps your hands full now. I don't want to see Mr 
Fanshawe — still less his wife; I won't see 'em, so 
they need not trouble to come with their daughter." 

" Miss Clara had a kind letter from Mr Panshawe 
this morning, sir ; he offers to come here at once if he 
can be of any service or comfort," replied Prothero. 

" He can't be — nobody can but Lillian ; we look 
upon her as one of the family, and she is so like her, 
you know. Ah, so like ! " 

Prothero did know, and, despite the sorrow and 
solemnity of the time, a thought flashed into her 
mind. 

" It is not impossible that she may presently become 
one of us in right good earnest ; it would be just like 
the Colonel to make that girl mistress of his house 
in a few months' time." As instantaneously, Mrs 
Prothero chased the thought back to its source, 
ascribing it on the spot to a prompting of Satan : 
notwithstanding, it did not occur to her that the 
lady in question might entertain her own view of the 
matter, should it ever be submitted to her considera- 
tion. 



THE AXGEL OF DEATH. 195 

" Well, sir," said the attendant, after a gulp in which 
she conscientiously repressed Satan and his prompt- 
ings, " Ben Rifles will be as good as an answer to Mr 
Fanshawe's note, unless you would like to write a line 
yourself." 

" No ; I don't like, and I won't be bothered. Clara 
can answer the note, and just you send Rifles here at 
once." 

Mrs Prothero lingered a moment in the hope of 
getting speech regarding some very pressing arrange- 
ments, but receiving no encouragement, and further, 
being desired to look for Mr Glascott's address in the 
visitor's book, and to send a telegram to that gentle- 
man without delay, she wisely opined to obey her 
orders, and for all else to trust to Providence without 
reservation of any kind. 

" It's useless my saying anything more to him," 
mused Prothero ; " Miss Fanshawe is sure to come, and 
it is just as well, — she can manage him, and all the re- 
sponsibilities will fall upon her. She's never meddle- 
some, that's one comfort; and if she can induce the 
Colonel to do as he ought to do, it will be a blessing. 
There's no other way of getting my poor dear peace- 
ably buried ; but oh ! I long for Mary to be here." 

So Prothero hied to Lady Asher's apartment and 
wrote out the telegram intended for Mr Glascott. 
Then with a sore heart she set herself to collect 
together all the black raiment she could find in the 
house, with the view of practising the domestic 
economy of cutting down what was available and 



196 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

turning it into the mourning gear of the younger chil- 
dren, and to carry out the art of " keeping up appear- 
ances," which in all impecunious families, on such an 
occasion, is more or less a matter of much anxiety 
and forethought. 

Happily for us all, perhaps, the most trivial de- 
mands of life are strong enough to wean us from over- 
whelming sorrow, and to keep us in remembrance 
that grief for the dead must, in externals at least, 
give way to the requirements of the living. Strong 
in her duty, this faithful servant did her utmost to 
lighten the expenses which must now necessarily fall 
upon Colonel Leppell in reference to mourning and 
burial. As she contrived and worked, she drew a 
happy augury from the visit of Mr Alick Leppell the 
evening before, and from the delicate manner in which 
he had persuaded Lord Hieover to return home with- 
out letting the old man suspect that this was done to 
relieve the family from the extra trouble which his 
presence necessarily entailed. The patient manner in 
which Mr Leppell received his brother's refusal to 
admit him, and his promise of coming again, all 
greatly mollified the ill opinion which Prothero had 
certainly entertained against that gentleman. 

Three years had elapsed since Alexander Leppell 
had put his foot in his younger brother's house : there 
had never been any positive quarrel between them, 
but annoyances had occurred, arising from the fre- 
quent demands made by both Ealph and his son 
Marmaduke upon the purse and credit of the Viscount 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 197 

and himself. Thus their intercourse had become 
gradually less frequent, and was at the time of Miss 
Leppell's marriage so rare, that it was hardly to be 
wondered that the majority of their acquaintance lent 
themselves to the opinion that a serious estrangement 
was in force betwixt the denizens of Hieover Grange 
and Hunter's Lodge. 

Lord Hieover's late attentions to his daughter-in- 
law were at this time gratefully remembered by poor 
Ralph, and perhaps his chief comfort lay in the know- 
ledge that Adelaide, on the last day of her life, had 
been treated with marked respect by his father ; and 
the recollection of her happy handsome face, as he 
last saw it, brought with it a world of solace and 
relief. 

The time was not yet when the conscience of 
Colonel Leppell would reproach him for the many 
times he had treated her carelessly, if not unkindly. 
At this juncture he was far beyond recognising aught 
else than that she was lying dead, — strong and beauti- 
ful in her gracious middle age ; whilst her mother, 
afflicted and pallid, lay moaning on her sick couch, 
weary of life and longing for release. 

Then he bethought him of Lillian Fanshawe — the 
girl who, more than any one of his own children, so 
strongly resembled her ; and with the conviction that 
it was a duty he owed to his dead wife's memory that 
this young friend, whom they had both so lately made 
the recipient of their confidences, should be invited to 
act as the most intimate female friend of the deceased, 



198 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

and share the privileges of a bond fide daughter of 
the house, Colonel Leppell decided to send for Miss 
Fanshawe. The widower was, of course, too much 
absorbed in his own trouble to consult Lady Asher or 
his eldest unmarried daughter as to the desirability 
of this arrangement. 

Prothero, meanwhile, was most anxious about Mary. 
" It will kill the poor child, all coming so suddenly 
upon her, and perhaps not to be able to arrive in 
time ; " of this last the good woman was very doubtful. 
" He's," — she remarked to the nurse, in allusion to Mr 
Clavering,— " he's taken up with a lot of f oreigneering 
stocks and stones, and goodness knows down what pit 
or under what cairn they may be by this time ! " The 
hours went by, but there was no return telegram from 
Mrs Clavering. 

Towards the close of the day, Miss Fanshawe arrived 
in the dog-cart, and was received by all at Hunter's 
Lodge as the machine which would cause everything 
to work. The Colonel hastened out to help her to 
alight ; and Alick Leppell, who had been a few mo- 
ments in the house, and had got over the meeting 
with his brother most satisfactorily, stood on the hall 
steps, thinking how very handsome Lillian Fanshawe 
had become. 

It occurred to him, however, that Miss Fanshawe 
did not exhibit very much affliction at the loss of one 
who had been in every way so kind to her ; but then, 
mused Alick, perhaps she had her cry out when the 
news first reached her — people are so different in their 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 199 

ways. " By George ! " he went on to himself, after a 
puff at his cigar, " it would not be a bad thing if Ralph 
were to marry her — in due time, of course, — he's safe 
to do something of the kind." Then recollecting him- 
self, " I won't think of such a thing now ; it's indecent, 
it's brutal. Good gracious ! what could have put such 
an idea into my head ? " 

One thing in regard to this arrangement did not 
enter into the Honourable Alexander Leppell's brain — 
it was the trifling circumstance that the lady in 
question might possibly not view the alliance in a 
favourable light; for Lillian was certainly not a 
person to overlook the slightest disadvantage in any 
one who might aspire to the honour of her hand. 

Her presence at Hunter's Lodge brought all the 
alleviation upon which that household had reckoned, 
and it was certainly due to Miss Fanshawe's influence 
that Colonel Leppell roused himself to transact the 
most important business with regard to his wife's 
interment. Miss Clavering and Mr Glascott arrived 
at the Eed Lion as speedily as travelling would permit ; 
and the former drove to Hunter's Lodge almost imme- 
diately upon her entrance into Yarne, hoping to find 
her brother and sister-in-law under Colonel Leppell's 
roof. The young lady's disappointment was indeed 
great at being greeted by Miss Fanshawe, and to be 
further informed that no news had been received from 
the travellers since they left Paris ten days ago. Mrs 
Claverincfs last letter from the Hotel de Nice had 
merely announced that they were just starting to 



200 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

some place in Styria — a place where Frank had been 
before, and which is one of the paradises of the 
geological student. 

All this Miss Fanshawe related with a coldness of 
manner which was hard and business-like. She ex- 
pressed neither regret nor surprise at the non-arrival 
of the Claverings, nor did one word of sympathy for 
Mary escape her lips ; indeed the equanimity with 
which she imparted the information that, despite 
Viscount Hieover's influence, the Court of Chancery 
would not permit Duke to attend his mother's funeral, 
thoroughly exasperated Willina, whose generous heart 
was full of sympathy for the bereaved family. " And 
that girl," she said to herself, " is Mary's early friend ! 
What a misnomer. Let me do Miss Fanshawe justice. 
I can see that she does not like me ; perhaps it is on 
that account that she is so reticent and so cold." 

Miss Clavering was, however, not alone in her 
astonishment at Lillian's conduct. The air of locum 
tenens which pervaded that lady had not only excited 
the amazement, but it had also aroused the indignation, 
of the Honourable Alexander. The latter had come 
over to remain at Hunter's Lodge for the two days 
previous to the funeral, and did not feel particularly 
complimented when he found that it was owing to 
Miss Fanshawe's influence that the Colonel had been 
prevailed upon to allow his brother the control of 
some of the business relative to the interment. Then 
Miss Lillian had thought proper to treat Mr Leppell 
as a black sheep, who was only in his brother's house 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 201 

on sufferance. Yet she was always polite and atten- 
tive, and listened patiently to his remarks in the 
conferences they held together concerning the inevi- 
table duties which the position had thrown upon them. 

Notwithstanding that he was not a lady's man, in 
the general acceptation of the term, Mr Leppell was 
delighted to find that Miss Clavering came daily to 
Hunter's Lodge and remained a great portion of the 
day there. It was a relief to him, after the harness in 
which Miss Fanshawe constantly kept him, to be able 
to speak unreservedly to one so full of the milk of 
human kindness, and who was so sisterly in all that 
she said about his niece Mary. Together they la- 
mented her absence, and contrived every means in 
their power to communicate with her ; and it was to 
Miss Clavering that Alick spoke of his regret that 
there was as yet no renewal of acquaintance between 
him and Mr Glascott. 

" I am afraid Mr Glascott is keeping away because 
I am here," said Mr Leppell, boldly putting the 
question. 

Miss Clavering did not assent to this fully, so she 
replied, "My cousin is at present dreadfully cut up 
at Mrs Leppell's death; she was an early and very 
dear friend of his. Mr Glascott is to attend the 
funeral, and I am sure, if only for her sake, you will 
shake hands then. I will, if you like, speak to 
him this evening, and tell him what you say. At 
this time it is no question for calling, as you must be 
aware." 



202 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Mr Leppell was delighted at being assisted so oppor- 
tunely in what was certainly a serious dilemma, and 
he thanked Willina with great heartiness for her good 
offices. 

"Somehow," said he, bluntly, "I feel much more at 
ease with you than I do with Miss Fanshawe, although 
I have known her from a child. I had thought of 
asking her to set matters right, as she is so intimate 
here, but I could not do it. She is very handsome 
and clever, no doubt; but she has become such a 
very gentlemanly young lady — if I may be per- 
mitted the expression, — that I am half afraid of 
her." 

"Opinions differ," replied "Willina, with a quiet 
smile. " Mr Glascott thinks Miss Fanshawe the most 
perfect girl he has ever seen." 

" poos he ! " exclaimed Alick, opening his eyes in 
astonishment. " Well, you know, her likeness to my 
late sister may account for that. Poor Adelaide ! or 
rather poor Ralph ! " 

They waited till the uttermost moment, and then 
all that was mortal of Adelaide Leppell was consigned 
to rest in the country churchyard of Blythe. The 
absence of both Duke and Mary naturally added in- 
dignation to the grief of the widower. He, however, 
acted as chief mourner with becoming decorum, and 
when the ceremony was over they led his little 
children to him, and left them with him to do the 
work of consolation. 

At this same time Mr Glascott and Mr Leppell 



THE ANGEL OF DEATH. 203 

joined hands, and buried their enmity over the scarcely 
closed grave. " Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as 
we forgive them that trespass against us ! " The glow 
of the evening light streamed on the turf hallowed by 
this vesper prayer. 



204 



CHAPTEE X. 

A foe's gift is no gift, and brings no profit. 

It was not till five days had elapsed that the Claver- 
ings at length arrived at Hunter's Lodge. They had 
returned to Paris with the intention of spending some 
little time in that city, as Mr Clavering had scientific 
friends to meet there. 

Thp telegrams which they received at the Hotel de 
Nice, however, caused them to travel forward without 
an hour's delay. Frank felt convinced that by this 
time it was quite useless to hurry, but his arguments 
only increased the nervous agitation of his wife ; con- 
sequently, he could not do otherwise than expedite 
the travelling arrangements, although this premature 
return interfered seriously with his own plans. 

Mary's grief on arriving at home was dreadful to 
witness, but it had the effect of rousing the Colonel 
into some approach to action ; and it gave Miss 
Clavering the opportunity of lavishing the most tender 
sympathy on her sister-in-law. This was fortunate 
for the sufferer, as Miss Fanshawe's kind offices were 



A foe's gift is no gift. 205 

greatly increased by the presence of Mr Clavering. 
" It was very hard upon him, poor man," Miss Lillian 
remarked ; " he could not be expected to enter into 
the feelings of the family to any great extent. Of 
course he was very shocked, and all that; but he 
must not be moped to death." And so they walked, 
and read, and geologised as of yore, and Mary was 
thankful to her friend for entertaining her husband 
so pleasantly ; indeed she felt convinced that were 
it not for Lillian's companionship and literary aid, 
Francis would not have consented so readily to remain 
quietly at Hunter's Lodge during its first season of 
heavy grief. 

Mr Glascott and Miss Clavering also thought it 
to be their duty to extend their stay at Yarne; the 
latter from real sympathy with her sister-in-law, — the 
former, ostensibly, because he always was ready to 
meet the plans of other people. 

The Colonel grieved now for the absence of his 
eldest son. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that 
the news of his mother's death fell like a thunderbolt 
on Marmaduke Leppell. 

Had he been at home, or so circumstanced that he 
could at least share the sorrow of his family, and be 
as one of them, however short the time, his grief 
would probably, after its first ebullition, have evapor- 
ated in such active exertion as might conduce to 
drown his thoughts and modify his self-reproach. 

But in the stillness of a close imprisonment, albeit 
not rigorous, wherein no distraction was procurable, 



206 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Duke was perforce driven into himself; and in the 
communing of his spirit, conscience asserted her part, 
and set before him in stern array his numerous of- 
fences towards the gentle being whose face he could 
never see again, whose loving tender voice was mute 
for evermore. 

" Dead ! dead ! without word or message to me!" 
Duke at length exclaimed, as he rose out of that dull 
stony stupor which is worse than a swoon ; for in this 
— whatever some may allege to the contrary — the 
sense of pain is acute to agony. " Dead ! my mother 
dead, and I know nothing of her last hours ; and I 
have helped to kill her ! I see how it has been : she 
has thought and thought over what I have done, and 
she has put off writing to me, for fear of express- 
ing her displeasure too strongly. Yes ; I see it now. 
Then grandma's illness, and Moll going away, and 
the governor's botherings, — it has all been too much 
for her, and she has mourned silently over us all, 
and — died. Oh, mother ! Yes ; you are dead — the 
sweetest woman in all the world — and I not even 
near you ! God knows, I would suffer years of pain 
for only one touch of your dear hand ! but it is all 
useless, all vain now ! " 

He took up the letter which conveyed the mournful 
intelligence to him, in the hope that another perusal 
would throw some light upon the fact, and at least 
inform him if Mrs Leppell had been able to speak 
with even one of her family before she breathed her 
last. It was written by Lillian Fanshawe, short and 



A foe's gift is no gift. 207 

concise as a lawyer s communication, merely giving 
the bare facts of the case, and ending with very sparse 
condolence. The modicum of this last was expressed 
in such terms as rather to exasperate Duke against 
the writer than otherwise. 

" Confound her impudence ! " he burst out, whilst 
the great tears rolled down his face ; " she hopes the 
trial will be blessed to me, does she ? takes a tone 
of superior virtue, as if she knew all about my — my 
gravest — misdoings. Clara might have written, — I 
do think she might." 

After a pause, in which Marmaduke broke down 
utterly, not only at the news of his loss, but also from 
the conviction that he was now kept out of the pale 
of his family, a light broke in upon him. 

" I daresay the governor has got Lillian to under- 
take all the correspondence for him — that's it ; but I 
think Miss Lillian might have expressed a little more 
sympathy for me. She must know that I should feel 
rather differently from herself on losing a mother. 
Mrs Fanshawe's death would not trouble her eldest 
daughter much, I fancy." 

He tried to steel himself with this sarcasm, but it 
would not do. Stamping his foot on the ground, as 
if he would trample and rend to pieces the faintest 
knowledge of the truth, the lad again bowed his head, 
and wept the bitterest tears he had ever shed in his 
life ; all his hardness, all his undoubted pluck, were 
melted at once in the seething furnace of a merited 
affliction, — an affliction that struck home. 



208 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

It could scarcely be otherwise. Was he not in 
trouble and disgrace? and never could he, let life be 
loner or short — never throw his arms around her, and 
hide his face on that forgiving heart, and acknowledge 
that he had sinned in Heaven's sight, against Heaven, 
and against her. 

Ah no ; the time for that had passed away for ever. 

But he could, he thought, pay her the last respect. 
He would attend her burial ; he would stand with his 
father's arm within his own, and support him in the 
sorrow which he felt would bow his parent to the 
earth. Yes, at her coffin-head they would stand to- 
gether, and resolve there to be better men for her dear 
sake : for after all, there is no purer remembrance 
upon this earth than that of loyal, true womanhood. 
God and woman should be mankind's watchword — his 
battle-cry in strife, his golden crown in peace. 

Then rushed across his mind the doubt as to whether 
he would be allowed to leave his place of detention 
even for one day, to fulfil a duty so sacred. He 
resolved to make a direct application to the proper 
quarter, and he felt certain that his father (and pos- 
sibly also his grandfather) would exert himself to get 
his release, if only for a few hours. His knowledge of 
the ways of the law was very misty ; but he held a 
confused idea that he would be placed on " parole," and 
that this indulgence would be based on military lines. 
In that case, Marmaduke felt that he would know 
what he was about. Of course he should keep his 
"parole," and return cheerfully to his prison. 



A foe's gift is no gift. 209 

Those about him, however, did not foster this 
opinion ; but kindness and respect for the lad's 
sincere grief caused them to keep silence on the sub- 
ject, only reminding Marmaduke that the Chancellor 
was out of Britain, and it might be a question as 
to whether the Vice - Chancellor could or would 
undertake the responsibility of letting him go to 
Blythe, even if attended by an officer of the Court 
of Chancery. 

That day was one of long suspense. It was not to 
be expected that an immediate answer could be re- 
turned to the application which Duke eventually made 
in respectful language and very fair grammar ; and it 
so happened that a couple of days elapsed before any 
notice was accorded to his petition. 

It was curt and decided enough. The missive 
ran that it was utterly impossible that Mr Leppell 
should leave the Queen's Prison, Holloway, for a 
sinole hour. 

Marmaduke bore this like steel, — turned over some 
other letters which were handed to him at the time, 
and pounced upon one bearing Peggy's handwriting 
on the envelope. It was an epistle of condolence, and 
ran as follows : — 

" My dearest Old Boy, — I have been thinking of 
you night and day, knowing how troubled you will be, 
not only at your dear mother's death (I am so glad now 
that I never saw her), but also about this dreadful 
Court which won't let you out, even for the funeral. 

vol. ii. o 



210 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

It is enough to make us all hold it in contempt for 
the rest of our lives. 

"My 'dragon' is turning out quite amiable. She 
agreed with me that I ought to put on deep mourning, 
for the Court can't prevent me being a daughter-in-law 
to poor Mrs Leppell. She has helped me so kindly, 
that I feel it would be mean to go on being disagree- 
able, so I have turned civil, and ' dragon ' says that I 
have the makings of a fine character. Fancy that ! 

" "Well, dear boy, I am having several black dresses 
made ; one of them, covered with crape, for the evening, 
has a crape tail, just like a comet in black (I should 
like to catch the Chancellor treading on that). I tell 
you this because I know you would wish me to show 
respect to the memory of your mother. 

" Clara has written me a nice letter, giving me a few 
particulars. She says that Miss Clavering, who is 
staying now at Yarne, counselled her to write, for she 
thought that we must both feel being cut off from the 
family at such a time, and that it would be proper 
to send a few lines to me especially. Clara mentions 
that your old friend, Miss Fanshawe, is staying at 
Hunter's Lodge, and that she wrote fully to you by 
your father's desire, who is too cut up to do anything. 
As you know all about it, I will not harrow your 
feelings, dear Duke, by saying more on this subject. 
I only hope you won't dislike me for being the cause 
of your imprisonment : at any rate, you must be very 
down-hearted. 

" My ' dragon ' tells me that these Chancellors really 



A FOES GIFT IS NO GIFT. 211 

cannot help themselves ; they must carry out the law, 
but in the main they are no worse hearted than their 
neighbours. The Vice - Chancellor, it appears, could 
not let you out in the absence of his superior, who is 
kicking up his heels on the Continent just now. It 
seems it would be as much as the Vice's place is worth 
to do so, because the orders are that you are to be 
kept strictly, on account of your contumacy before we 
surrendered. 

" You know it is only because I howled so desperately 
that we are allowed to correspond without restraint ; 
so it will be as well to 'grin and bear it.' I am 
saving all the money I can, in order that we may 
enjoy ourselves when you are set free. Be sure I 
will make it all up to you, dear, and be a kind 
and loving wife. I know you will get steady in 
time. 

" It is just as well that you can't rejoin the Gold- 
spinners. I have thought that we might take a farm 
in Ireland, where there's safe to be a little fighting if 
you look out for it. Keep up your spirits for the 
present, and believe me, — Your loving, dutiful, affec- 
tionate wife, Margaret Leppell." 

Marmaduke read and re-read this epistle with 
mingled feelings of affection and respect. The candid 
freshness, the unselfishness of the writer, struck him 
very forcibly, and the conviction dawned upon him 
that he never could repay the warm-hearted girl who, 
through his act, was at that moment in a measure 



2 1 -2 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

circumscribed in liberty, if not in actual honourable 

captivity. 

What had lie clone to merit a dutiful wife ? Did 
he deserve that this young creature should resign all 
the enjoyments of early womanhood in order to live 
with him on a remote farm ? — To resign all the pleas- 
ures to which her large fortune entitled her, for the 
purpose of keeping him steady, and inducing him to 
lay the foundation of a permanent home ? 

Here she was, saving her allowance in order to spare 
him the pressure of money embarrassments when he 
should be free. The whole tone of her letter assured 
him that, if need be, she was ready to sacrifice every 
penny, nay, even dear life, for his sake ; and was he 
worthy of all this ? 

The answer he made to himself was perhaps the 
turning-point of his whole future life : he honestly, 
and without seeking to evade the mental query, 
avowed that he in no respect was worthy. 

This admitted, came resolution ; and the first-fruits 
of this resolution were evinced in schooling himself to 
patience, and in writing to his wife a letter in which, 
without making many promises, he undertook to be 
guided by her wishes in his future career. '-'Only," 
he wrote, "be always with me: the presence of my 
wife and the dear memory of my mother will be 
like the guardianship of two angels to keep me in the 
right path." 

Marmaduke then wrote to his sister Mary, and 
to his father; but to Miss Lillian's letter he never 



A foe's gift is no gift. 213 

vouchsafed, either directly or indirectly, the slightest 
notice. It is possible that the lady never remarked 
this omission ; she was at this time entirely taken up 
with Mr Clavering's geological researches. 

The rest of the family had also their anxieties and 
duties ; for Lady Asher had suffered a relapse, and 
it was as much as Prothero and her two eldest grand- 
daughters could do, to bestow all the attention which 
the infirmities of the old lady demanded. 

Thus it was that Mr Glascott lingered at the Ked 
Lion Hotel, and the departure for Brydone remained 
in abeyance for a while. 

The frequent visits of Mr Glascott to Hunter's 
Lodge had scarcely the effect of adding to the com- 
fort of the master of that abode. True he was glad, 
and sincerely glad, that a friendship had been ce- 
mented by himself and his brother Alexander with 
Everard Glascott; and that the wings of the Angel 
of Death contributed to cover all former animosities 
and the remembrance of early injuries. 

To say truth, the forgiveness was much more hearty 
on the part of Mr Glascott than it was on that of 
Colonel Leppell. The latter could not forget that 
he had not been his wife's first love ; and he was 
restless and impatient that their son's deliverance 
from disgrace was entirely due to the man to whom, 
of all others, he would the least choose to be indebted. 
His conscience told him that for the sake of Adelaide 
Mr Glascott had foregone all the comforts of married 
life; and his pride was galled because, on reviewing 



214 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

his position, he could not see his way to requite his 
benefector, or by any means discharge the debt of 
obligation which lie conceived was due to that gentle- 
man. A trilling incident, however, suddenly changed 
the current of the Colonel's thoughts. He was sitting 
at the window of his den, listlessly turning over a 
file of unpaid bills, and according to custom selecting 
those that were the most pressing, and upon which a 
sum " on account " would be likely to be accepted by 
the creditors. 

The sound of voices diverted him from his occupa- 
tion — they were those of Miss Fanshawe and Mr 
Glascott. There was nothing to distract him in this, 
but he happened at the same moment to look up, 
and his eyes fell directly on Mr Glascott's face. 

Kalph was not naturally astute, but that moment 
would have revealed to one even more dense than he 
the innermost workings of Everard Glascott's soul. 
The radiant face, that peculiar luminous light in the 
eye which is never seen but in those who love, all 
told their tale, — all told of the deep strong love of the 
elderly man, which, forgetting time and space, be- 
lieveth all things, hopeth all things ; and is ever more 
loyal than the fleeting passion of early youth, because 
in the majority of cases it endureth all things — and 
endureth to the end. 

Then the Colonel's gaze travelled to the face of 
Lillian Fanshawe. Had his dead wife stood there in 
the first blush of her girlish beauty, he would scarcely 
have been surprised. That remarkable likeness which 



A foe's gift is no GIFT. 215 

Miss Fanshawe had always borne to the deceased lady 
seemed at this moment to be increased and rarefied, 
as it were, by the soft expression which was so rarely 
seen on the young girl's face. She was looking up- 
wards, listening with a pleased smile to what her 
companion was saying. Ealph could only catch a 
word here and there, but he thought he could make 
out that Mr Glascott was pressing Miss Fanshawe 
to come and make a stay at his house at Brydone. 

Some expressions which fell from the lady informed 
the listener that Miss Fanshawe had so far confided 
in Mr Glascott, as to make that gentleman aware that 
she was not quite happy in her father's house. Lillian, 
the Colonel thought, was too proud to enter into 
family grievances with one who was so lately a 
stranger ; " but then," thought that officer, " I have no 
business to sit in judgment upon a few stray words : 
moreover, I rather think I have no business to be 
looking out here at all." So thinking, Ealph moved 
away from the window ; but he had taken a resolve, 
and set himself to think how best he could act 
upon it. 

The result of his cogitations was, that he now saw 
his way to returning some of Mr Glascott's good offices 
towards himself. 

What should prevent him from using his influence 
to promote a match between Mr Glascott and Lillian 
Fanshawe ? 

Difference of age ! Nonsense ; the man was fifty- 
eight and the girl nineteen, but what did that signify 



216 THE FAT OF THE LAXD. 

when the man was so handsome and debonair? It 
might injure young Clavering's prospects somewhat, 
but that was no matter ; and with so much already 
given, Francis could afford to be liberal and grateful. 

Then there was another and most important point 
to be considered in the possible arrangement of this 
project, and that was the greater security it would 
supply for the preservation of the secret of Marma- 
duke's disgrace. 

Colonel Leppell had never been quite satisfied that 
he and his late wife had acted wisely in bestowing 
their whole confidence on Miss Fanshawe; but the 
risk attending this, if any, would be quite neutralised 
should Lillian eventually become Mr Glascott's wife. 
In that case the secret would not go beyond those 
who already possessed it ; indeed the wife would nat- 
urally second her husband's wish that all concerning 
the affair should be buried in oblivion : in this a most 
trying anxiety would be quenched utterly. 

Would Mrs Leppell have liked the idea of her 
quondam lover, in his ripe middle age, marrying a 
stranger, whose chief recommendation to his regard 
was the extraordinary resemblance she bore to her- 
self in her palmy early days ? 

Most assuredly she would have accorded her ap- 
proval, was Ralph's answer to this question, mentally 
put. 

Mrs Leppell would only have been too happy to 
further this alliance, and so contribute her quota in 
wiping off the debt of gratitude which they owed to 



A foe's gift is no gift. 217 

Mr Glascott. It was possible, also, that Adelaide 
might have regarded the event as a direct testimony 
to the potency of her own charms. 

This last reflection caused the Colonel to work him- 
self into the belief that it was due to the memory of 
his late wife that he should do all in his power to 
promote this marriage ; and then he bestowed a little 
attention upon Miss Fanshawe's part in the programme. 

The opportunity for her, Colonel Leppell regarded 
as most providential and most fortunate. Her family 
might object ? — not they. Did not everybody know 
that Mrs Fanshawe no more cared for her eldest 
daughter than if she had been the child of the 
Begum of Bhopal ; and that the rector showed his 
affection for her by doing his best to keep her in other 
people's houses and out of his own ? Hunter's Lodge 
was more a home to Lillian Fanshawe than that of 
her parents ; and she entertained as much affection 
for the people of that home as it was in her nature 
to bestow. 

" Yes," Balph determined, " the thing shall be done : 
it will repay the wife I have taken from Everard Glas- 
cott ; it will give me the satisfaction of making repara- 
tion in my lifetime for the wrongdoing of my youth. 
Let me but have the matter in my own hands, and 
nobly will I reward this man for what he has done 
for me and mine. Here at last we shall be quits ! " 

So mused, and so honestly thought, Colonel Leppell ; 
but a deeper reason was the dominant influence which 
impelled him to assist Mr Glascott in obtaining his 



218 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

heart's desire — that lingering, undefinable dislike to 
the relations in which he stood with regard to that 
gentleman. His pride was so mortified, that to dis- 
charge his obligation he would have lent himself to 
any scheme, however eccentric or even outrageous, if 
he could have by such means made Mr Glascott in 
any manner his debtor. 

Now the opportunity had arrived, and it should not 
be the fault of Ealph Leppell if all were not carried 
out to the desired end. 

It was a bold stroke, thus building upon a chance 
expression of face, perhaps, or an unusual warmth of 
manner and utterance. The Colonel, however, had 
the courage of his convictions, and he very shortly 
afterwards had occasion to verify them entirely to 
his own satisfaction. Then he went to the fountain- 
head — or, to put it more plainly, he attacked Mr 
Glascott. 

That gentleman fenced and parried his host's down- 
right questions, as persons similarly situated generally 
do : at length, after rather a brisk game of mental cut- 
and-thrust, Mr Glascott acknowledged the truth of 
Colonel Leppell's surmises, and, to the great delight 
of the officer, concluded by asking his opinion of his 
chances of success. 

u You have no reason as yet for supposing that you 
have won Miss Fanshawe's affections?" Ealph inquired, 
with an air of the deepest wisdom. 

" Oh no ; it is on this point that I am so very 
dubious. I am not blind to the fact of the immense 



A foe's gift is no gift. 219 

difference in our ages : that, I feel sure, is greatly 
to my disadvantage, and it might weigh as a serious 
objection with the parents." 

"Not a bit of it," replied the Colonel, reassuring 
his friend — " they would be only too proud of the con- 
nection ; and the difference in age is your affair, and 
that of the lady, I rather think." 

Mr Glascott agreed so far; still he could not but 
feel very diffident as to the advisability of the affair. 
"Yet," continued the poor gentleman, "Miss Fan- 
shawe is so like what poor Adelaide was at her age, 
— and my meeting her under your roof, all concur to 
interest me most deeply in this young lady, — she is so 
superior to most other girls " 

" That's it," broke in the Colonel. " Lillian has got 
the head of a woman of thirty on her shoulders ; and 
she has more knowledge of the world than poor Ade- 
laide ever had. Sharp mother too ; has had to keep 
up appearances, and has had always too much to do 
to be flirting and philandering with youths who mean 
nothing, — nothing, I mean, in the way of business." 

"You do not know if there be any possible rival in 
the way ? " inquired the elder man, almost timidly. 

" I am sure there is not," the Colonel volunteered, 
with all the hardihood of thorough conviction. " It is 
not every man who would suit Miss Fanshawe — you 
can see that yourself. See how she devotes herself 
to my family, and what a companion she is to Claver- 
ing, now Mary is so much with Lady Asher." 

" I have remarked that with very much pleasure," 



220 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

returned Mr Glascott; "for it is but right that I 
should study closely the character of the lady whom 
I should wish to make my wife. I have never ven- 
tured to make my sentiments known to Miss Fan- 
Bhawe; indeed, my great difficulty is to discover 
whether she would really respond to them." 

'• Well, that is difficult, certainly. Lillian is natur- 
ally reticent. The way her mother has treated the 
girl has caused her from an early age to keep her 
thoughts and opinions under very great reserve. Do 
not be in a hurry ; take time and stay here. You 
will manage much better by keeping quite clear of 
Pinnacles Court. To tell you the truth, poor Ade- 
laide said once or twice lately, how thankful she 
would be could Lillian make a nice match, and get 
out of Yarneshire." 

So Mrs Leppell had said ; but her remark was 
prompted by the strong desire she entertained to see 
Miss Fanshawe safely married and out of Mr Cover- 
ing's way. Had she imagined that Mr Glascott would 
be the bridegroom, it is highly probable that she 
would have been delighted to know that the fixed 
home of that gentleman was over the sea, and that 
they would stay at the London house but once a-year. 

The Colonel being only cognisant of the fact that 
such were his late wife's hopes, and being at the 
same time profoundly ignorant of the reasons which 
prompted them, he pressed this very much on Mr Glas- 
cott's attention ; for he knew well enough that nothing 
would act as a greater incentive to that gentleman's 



A foe's gift is no gift. 221 

aspirations than the knowledge that they would have 
been fostered by Mrs Leppell had she been in life. 
Mr Glascott said little more, after he had averred 
that he would do nothing precipitate ; and that little 
referred to an apprehension that the proposed match 
might not seem good in the eyes of Francis and 
Willina Clavering. 

The Colonel, however, disposed of this qualm of 
conscience in a very summary method. " It's no busi- 
ness of theirs ; Francis is married, and his sister will 
marry. Look to yourself, my friend, and provide for 
the comforts of your old age : don't sacrifice too much 
for people in your lifetime, — you will get no thanks 
for it." 

" Willina has reckoned so much on making Jersey 
our home, it seems rather hard to dethrone her before 
she has been actually the mistress of the house," said 
Mr Glascott, pensively. 

" All the better ; there will not be the custom of 
years to resign. Besides, you give Miss Clavering 
great advantages when you make Miss Fanshawe the 
mistress of your house — haw ! " 

Mr Glascott jumped at this suggestion, which had 
not occurred to him before, and therefore he replied, 
" Certainly, most certainly, — a very great advantage." 

Then said the Colonel, " You know well, Glascott, 
that I wronged you very much in the matter of 
my marriage with Adelaide Asher. I am heartily 
sorry for the way in which I behaved to you, and so 
is my brother, for aiding and abetting me in, my evil 



ooo THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

doing. Yon have repaid this wrong with noble kind- 
ness, and there is nothing I would not do to help you, 
or assist you in your plans— haw !— hum ! I think so 
well of Miss Fanshawe, that were I unmarried,— I 
mean, if I could give my late wife a successor, — she 
is the only person I would choose. But, no ; I will 
never marry again. Let me, then, use all my influ- 
ence in your favour: the girl has confidence in me, 
and is almost like one of my own children — indeed 
at this moment I feel as if she were my daughter. 
Let us suppose it ; and let me say that I give her to 
you as a trusting father would give her. She will be 
a glorious atonement for what I have made you suffer 
in the past ; only take time, and leave all to me." 

Mr Glascott acquiesced, but was too much absorbed 
to wonder how it was that Kalph spoke so glibly, and 
seemed to be quite confident of bringing this matter 
to a happy conclusion. He was, in fact, so enam- 
oured of the prospect in view, that he could think of 
nought besides it. No man, either old or young, was 
more thoroughly heart-smitten than he. 

Then the gentlemen parted, agreeing on both sides 
to act cautiously, and to keep silence. 

The family at Hinton Square had been duly in- 
formed of the trouble which had suddenly thrown 
its shadow over the inmates of Hunter's Lodge ; but 
it so happened that the La Touche family had re- 
ceived news of the death of a near relative, which, 
if it did not cause any grief, certainly tended to up- 
set their plans, and possibly bring an unwelcome 



A foe's gift is no gift. 223 

kinsman into closer contact with them than they 
quite liked. 

An unexpected and a somewhat uncomfortable 
letter had conveyed to Mr La Touche the intelligence 
of the death of his eldest sister, Mrs MacTaggart; the 
widow of a Presbyterian divine of some repute. The 
writer, being the eldest son of the deceased lady, fur- 
ther informed him that, after settling his younger 
brothers and sisters with some relatives of their father, 
he, Colin MacTaggart, intended to come at once to 
London in order to seek employment for himself. 

He was glad to say that the firm of MacTaggart & 
MacTaggart, the well-known Writers to the Signet of 
Macnahanish Street, Glasgow, had taken his brother 
Donald into their office, and that his two sisters 
were to be the guests of a cousin of his father for 
a year. 

He therefore ventured to hope that his mother's 
family would endeavour to assist him, and thought 
it possible that his uncle might have a vacancy in his 
office in the city which he could fill. Colin concluded 
this epistle by stating that he would be in London 
on the evening of the 18th, — that he felt sure of a 
warm welcome from his uncle and cousins, — and hoped 
that his aunt Marcia would secure him a lodging near 
Hinton Square. 

It was explained in a postscript that Mrs MacTag- 
gart had died suddenly in a remote part of the High- 
lands, where she had been on a visit, and where the 
communication with Glasgow was irregular. On this 



224 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

account it was impossible that Mr La Touche could 
have arrived in time for the burial. 

" Well, you have been saved the expense of attend- 
ing the funeral," said Marcia to her brother, after she 
had read the letter ; " but if he comes here— Colin, I 
mean— we shall have to be in some kind of mourning." 

" Why, yes," returned Mr La Touche, slowly, " the 
proper thing must be done— mourning, of course. I 
have got the suit which I keep for attending funerals, 
and so has Percival, I believe." 

" Oh, you men can do well enough," cried Marcia ; 
"but what about the girls and myself?" 

"Furbish up your black silk dresses with crape," 
interposed Percival, amongst whose many littlenesses 
a capacity for man -millinery shone out conspicuously. 
" Get some cheap bonnets, and a few black crape 
flowers for yourself and some white ones for the girls, 
and the thing is done." 

Marcia did not quite relish this prompt adaptation 
to circumstances, and persisted bravely in making- 
objections, hoping thereby to extract a cheque from 
her brother ; so she continued — 

" There must be other things supplied, more sub - 
stantial than flowers. We can't live in one dress for 
three months at a time — the thing is absurd. We 
ought to have new black cachmere dresses, black 
mantles, and a number of little items besides, which 
you know nothing about." 

" Stick a black lining under your black lace shawl," 
answered Percival, " and put some bugle trimming 



A FOES GIFT IS NO GIFT. 225 

about it. Colin will only be here for a few days, and 
you can return to gay raiment as soon as he is gone." 
" I am not so sure of that," replied the aunt. " Colin 
evidently intends my brother to get him some em- 
ployment, and he will be here off and on till some- 
thing is procured for him. However that may be, it 
is only right and proper that we should have decent 
mourning, and that we should wear it for more than 
a few days. I am sure I am only asking what is just 
and right." 



VOL. II. 



226 



CHAPTEE XL 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 



As no response was made by the elder gentleman to 
Marcia's appeal, Stephen, who was present at the 
family conclave, and had been a silent listener, now 
spoke. 

" I will give you a black cachmere, or whatever 
you call it — mourning dress, Aunt Marcia : you at 
least ought to put on decent mourning for your own 
sister. As for the girls, I do hope my father and 
Percival will do something towards hjelping them out." 

Mr La Touche looked at his son, but he said nothing. 
Percival sarcastically hoped that briefs were becoming 
plentiful ; whilst Marcia, thinking it advisable to strike 
whilst the iron was hot, proposed that now that 
Stephen had done his part — the one who could the 
least afford it, she added with emphasis — the other 
two gentlemen should present the girls with the de 
quoi wherewith to furnish the decency of aspect re- 
quired for mourning for their father's sister. 

" It must be done," continued Marcia, valiantly. " If 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 227 

we have no clothes I won't preside at the dinner-party 
which we are to have next week. I won't be present," 
she reiterated, " unless we have all proper clothes." 

" Dress, I presume you mean," said Percival, with 
an aggravating grin. " Whatever happens, that dinner 
cannot be put off. I am going to the country almost 
immediately afterwards. Besides, the m6nu is the 
best we have had this season." 

" This feast is arranged for Thursday next, is it 
not?" inquired Stephen of his aunt. 

" Yes ; there are twelve people coming, and a few 
of the girls' friends afterwards. We had hoped to get 
up a little dance." 

" But you see," said Stephen, deprecatingly, " this 
will be the very evening that Colin MacTaggart 
arrives in town : it will be most unseemly to be 
entertaining company at the moment he enters the 
house." 

" What does that signify ? " asked Percival roughly ; 
" we can't help people dying. They always do expire 
at the most inconvenient seasons for their friends. 
It is a well ascertained fact." 

" But remember the feelings of the son — our first 
cousin," persisted Stephen. " The Scotch are so par- 
ticular on this point; and the MacTaggart family 
would look upon our entertaining company on the 
evening of Colin's arrival as a dreadful insult." 

" He comes at his own time and by his own invita- 
tion," said Percival; "the party can't be put off for 
him : he had better go to a hotel." 



228 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

* Could you not meet him at the station," said 
Marcia to her nephew Stephen, " and take him to the 
Zoological Gardens ? No, they would be shut up ; 
Cremorne would be better. There he could be as 
quiet as he likes, walking in the alleys among the 
trees out of the crowd. He need not look at the 
dancing, or at any of the fast people,' you know." 

Stephen did not at all relish this proposal, and 
declined it positively, saying that it was not his habit 
to frequent Cremorne. He had his own reasons for 
wishing to be present at this dinner-party, for the 
reading pupil was to be one of the guests, and Stephen 
had already determined to settle with that youth that 
their reading-tour ought by all manner of means to 
take the direction of the Channel Islands. 

" Why not write," suggested Stephen, " and ask 
MacTaggart to defer his arrival for a day, and offer 
him a bed in the house at once ? This would not 
only be kind to him, but it will show the MacTaggart 
Clan that the La Touches are quite as ready to give 
countenance to these orphans as they are." 

This was a grand stroke of diplomacy on the part 
of Stephen. 

The old gentleman shook up his feathers, metapho- 
rically speaking, and looked the prosperous British 
merchant every inch, and as if he were capable of 
protecting a whole wing of the British army at a 
stroke. 

The expression, " countenance the orphans," had the 
effect also of dulcifving the vinegar of Percival's 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 229 

temperament. The offer of a bed in the house was 
so easy a piece of hospitality, that no objection could 
be raised to the introduction of Colin as a guest. 

"He can have the little room at the top of the 
house, and nobody will see him," said Marcia, pur- 
suing the advantages. 

"And you can be dressed like Christians for the 
dinner-party," added Percival; "and as I am very 
anxious that this should come off well, Marcia, and 
you may have some trouble, I don't mind giving a 
five-pound note between you and the girls for black 
gloves and ribbons and all that." 

" Just one pound for each of us ! " answered Marcia 
ungratefully, but to the point. " Eeally, Percival, you 
might give another ten pounds for your own sisters ; 
with your wealth, you ought to be a more generous 
brother. Do give ten pounds to divide between the 
two elder ones ; they could get a handsome dress 
apiece." 

But Percival was obdurate. "Five pounds among 
the lot," he replied, coarsely, " for gloves and ribbons ; 
I don't undertake to do more than that." 

" You had better hand the sum to Aunt Marcia at 
once," said Stephen, who took a quiet delight in teas- 
ing his elder brother. " Amid your varied distractions, 
this little trifle might be overlooked." 

" So it might," said Marcia. " Hand me a five- 
pound note, Percival, if you please. Here are two 
witnesses to testify that you have fulfilled your 
promise." 



230 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

"But I do wish," she continued more earnestly, 
" that you could make up your mind, at least once in 
a way, to be generous to your sisters, and give them a 
decent present now and then. You are always ready 
to find fault if their dress is not exactly comme ilfaut, 
and yet you never give them any aid in helping them 
with their wardrobe." 

Mr La Touche was either struck with the justice 
of this remark, or perhaps with admiration for the 
persistency with which Marcia always advocated his 
daughters' claim upon their rich brother, for he said, 
" Never mind, Marcia ; I will see what I can do for 
the girls without straitening their allowance. I may 
also manage something for yourself. You certainly 
are a good aunt." 

Mr La Touche said no more than the truth when he 
made this last assertion. 

Whatever Marcia's failings might be in the matter 
of self-indulgence and worlclliness, she never forgot 
her duty towards her brother's children. More than 
once she had suffered hard rebuffs in her attempts 
to obtain some advantages for them, either in lessons 
from professors or in some additional amusement or 
article of dress : in these cases no benefit to herself 
could possibly accrue. 

If Marcia excelled in one thing more than in 
another as to the manipulation of chaperone life, it 
was in the making of hay whilst the sun shone. The 
vicissitudes which she had witnessed in mercantile 
circles, especially, urged her to take advantage of 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 231 

present opportunities small and large ; and her object 
now was to get her nieces safely married in the life- 
time of their father. 

Full well knew she that nothing was to be expected 
from Percival ; and she was haunted, in addition, by a 
strong misgiving that Mr La Touche lived almost up 
to the greatest extent of his income. True, there 
was a little to divide, but what was that amongst so 
many ? 

The girls must marry, and so long as the La Touche 
family kept open house, and gave recherche dinners, 
men, and men of mark and substance, moreover, would 
diligently frequent it. 

Miss La Touche also deserved great credit for the 
perfect good-feeling and harmony winch existed be- 
twixt herself and her nieces : little jealousies and 
distrusts were unknown amongst them. Few ladies, 
and those maiden aunts, could possess more genuine 
admirers than did Aunt Marcia in the persons of 
these young girls. They believed her to be the hand- 
somest and the best of relatives ; not one of them 
would admit that their father's sister could be pos- 
sibly at fault in anything that she might say or do. 

The bond of fellowship was perhaps unconsciously 
strengthened from the fact that the gentlemen of the 
family were looked upon as the common prey of these, 
their near females relatives, in all matters monetary ; 
and Miss La Touche, notwithstanding her preference 
for her eldest nephew, always judiciously utilised his 
flower-show and concert tickets, his " bones " for the 



232 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

opera-stalls, and his " bones " for the Zoo, to the ad- 
vantage of her young charges. 

The proclivities of the elder Mr La Touche towards 
missionary meetings, and taking the chair at evening 
lectures, &c, were also most dexterously managed. 
These engagements kept the master of the house out 
of the way ; and if these absences fell during the time 
that Percival happened to be travelling or visiting 
from home, the triumph of the evening delectations 
was assured and complete. 

It sometimes happened that Marcia wanted a quiet 
earlier dinner, whereto she could safely invite some 
pet male friend of the ladies of the family, who, 
though perfectly irreproachable, was not au mieux 
with the old gentleman or with Percival : then the 
meetings and the lectures came in most opportunely. 
Stephen or Andrew was ready enough to represent 
the head of the house on these select occasions : they 
were sensible young men, who volunteered no remarks 
on the morrow concerning the guest or guests of the 
previous evening. The servants, too, thoroughly ap- 
preciated these little arrangements ; the courses were 
fewer, the attendance less elaborate ; and some one of 
the establishment below stairs secured a long evening 
out, and usually recuperated his or her forces at the 
theatre. 

But to the kitchen-maid these were truly halcyon 
periods ; for the cook-housekeeper had a penchant for 
the meetings over which Mr La Touche presided, 
and usually followed her master thereunto in an 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 233 

omnibus, as close upon the cab which contained the 
chairman of the meeting then convened as the loco- 
motive powers of the pursuing vehicle would allow. 
Then Betty had it all her own way in the culinary 
art. She worked her best, and had her reward in the 
company of Private Tucker of the "Cavaltree," who 
on these occasions contrived to drop in to supper and 
drain a comfortable cup. 

It was on the whole a difficult family to manage ; 
and a woman of more acute feeling, and even, it must 
be confessed, of a more delicate sense of honour, than 
was Marcia, would certainly have steered less ably, 
and have possibly come more frequently into direct 
collision with one or other of its members. 

As it was, she accepted her position, and deluded 
herself into the belief that she was doing her duty 
to the rest of the family by winking at Percival's 
immoral life, and by pandering to his luxurious tastes. 
It was like making bricks without straw — she received 
neither gratitude nor consideration ; but she truly ob- 
served, " If my brother makes no objection, how can 
I interfere ? Besides, if Percival behaves respectably 
when in the house, what business have we with what 
he chooses to do out of it ? " 

"Very questionable morality," replied Stephen, to 
whom this remark had been addressed, with the view 
of quenching some uncomfortable inquiries which he 
had propounded on the matter — "very questionable. 
If all goes smoothly on the surface, no matter what 
corruption infects beneath it ! I am no prophet, 



234 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

but I venture to predict that if this laxity obtains, 
the difference betwixt right and wrong will be a very 
unknown quantity in the country in a few years to 
come." 

" Well, I can't help it," returned Marcia, snappishly. 

"I think you can, a little, Aunt Marcia," replied 
the nephew gently. 

" How ? in what way ? " asked Miss La Touche. 

"In order to answer you, I must speak plainly. 
Did you not ask Percival this morning — aside, it is 
true — if you were to expect him to be at home, or if 
lie was going to his country house to find metal more 
attractive there ? " 

Marcia could not deny this indiscretion, but de- 
clared that nobody else could have overheard what 
was said. 

" Pardon me — Fanny did ; and moreover, she ob- 
served the little knowing glance which was inter- 
changed between you and my brother. It almost 
seemed as if you aided and abetted him in this scandal. 
Now, if you will allow me to advise you, never per- 
mit Percival to approach the subject with you by sign 
or hint ; and by all means never allude to it your- 
self, for if you do he will naturally think that you 
regard his conduct with no very great disfavour." 

Marcia was silent for a moment, then she said 
suddenly, " You are angry with Percival just now, 
because he is urging you to make up to Madame 
ltudolph Heine — that German drysalter's widow, I 
mean." 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 235 

" Yes, I am angry at his impertinence in meddling 
with my private affairs," returned Stephen hotly. 
"It will be a dreadful nuisance if I am supposed 
to make love to every lady with money who puts 
her business into my hands. Madame Heine is my 
client, and as my client only do I regard her." 

" But she has lots of money, and your father would 
be so delighted if you could make a match of it," 
persisted Marcia. "You know, I suppose, that she 
is invited to the dinner-party here on Thursday? 
My brother made me send her an invitation, princi- 
pally on your account." 

" Did he ? he's very good. But just understand this, 
Marcia, that I am not going to be disposed of in 
matrimony against my will. I am quite satisfied to 
remain as I am, until I can make enough to be 
independent of fortune with a wife. And I may just 
as well tell you, that if I am to be meddled with 
by Percival, I shall at once go and live entirely in 
chambers." 

Marcia washed her hands of Percival, but insisted 
that it was his father's wish that he, Stephen, should 
marry Madame Heine. 

" I have told him that I will not, and there's an end 
of it, as far as I am concerned," quoth Stephen. " If 
the lady is looked upon as such a valuable acquisition 
to the family, he had better try his luck himself in 
that quarter." 

"Nonsense, my dear," answered the aunt, very 
briskly ; " mind you don't put such a thing into your 



236 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

father's head. I suffer great anxiety on this account 
as it is; don't augment it, pray." 

" Why, what do you mean ? " 

" Well, I cannot exactly define my meaning, for I 
have no evidence to go upon; but I cannot help 
thinking that these meetings, and charitable confer- 
ences, and refuges, at which your father is always act- 
ing as chairman, are only a blind for a little quiet flir- 
tation — in the pious way, you know. The number of 
tickets for various charities, and the letters addressed 
in female handwriting to him, are positively alarming. 
He will be bringing a serious wife home some fine day. 
I have told you all so before, but of course none of you 
will take any precautions till it is too late." 

" But, Marcia, what are we to do ? Besides, he can't 
marry all the serious ladies. Take comfort, — there's 
safety in a multitude, as the saying goes." 

" L)o ! ,; replied the aunt. " You ought to go to these 
meetings with your father, and look after him, and 
see that these women don't have it all their own way. 
I am sure I don't know how he will get on when the 
dark weather comes. Have you not observed that your 
father is very shaky on his legs now ? " 

Stephen answered that he had remarked this ; but 
lie reminded his aunt that Martha — the cook-house- 
keeper — was fond of attending these serious meet- 
ings. "Depend upon it," the young man continued, 
"if there was anything going on, Martha would let 
you know." 

' Yes ; but her attendance is very irregular," an- 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 237 

swered Miss La Touche ; " and she never goes or re- 
turns in the same conveyance, so a great deal might 
happen which she never sees. I think, when the 
evenings are longer, I shall advise my brother to let 
Martha see him home, on dark nights especially." 

" I don't think my father would relish that," said 
Stephen, laughing. 

" Of course, I should put it on the shakiness of his 
legs, and the fear of his falling," said Marcia. " At any 
rate, it will put a stop to his staying to little comfort- 
able suppers after these meetings ; and if their return- 
ing together in a cab is objected to, an omnibus would 
do just as well. Martha is a nice respectable-looking 
woman, and she has been with us so long that there 
would be nothing remarkable in her attending on him 
on these occasions. I know it is quite useless to ask 
any of you young men to accompany your father to 
these meetings." 

" Oh, quite," replied the nephew, in a tone meant to 
imply that such a thing was not to be thought of. " I 
am much too busy in the day, and besides, I fancy 
my father undertakes these duties under the idea that 
his doing so is necessary for his commercial interests 
among a certain set." 

"He is a nice-looking old man, and the women 
flatter him," returned Miss La Touche ; " but I think 
it is time that he should leave these matters to 
younger people." 

" Exactly ; that is my feeling. Still, if it is an in- 
terest to him to speak in public, I hope he may long 



238 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

be spared to do so. Could you not once in a way go 
with your brother to some of the gatherings you allude 
to yourself ? He is a nice-looking old man, as you say, 
and has all the air of a benevolent bishop." 

" Impossible, my dear," replied Miss La Touche, in 
a tone of great decision—" my duties keep me at home ; 
and now little Anna is an additional anxiety. Oh dear, 
no ! Fancy me at a meeting, and at night too ! Quite 
absurd." 

Stephen held his peace. He could have inquired 
how it was that his aunt was always equal to dinner- 
parties, theatres, concerts, and such like distractions, 
at any and at all hours of the night ; but as his object 
was to secure his father being properly attended, he 
avoided any remark that might be regarded as litigious, 
and so allowing the actual subject to drop, he turned 
to another bearing of it. 

" .Don't you think my father is breaking in health a 
little, Aunt Marcia ? " said Stephen. " He is now and 
then so abrupt and peculiar, that I fancy something 
is wrong with his health." 

" Percival says that he is very difficult to manage in 
the office at times," answered Miss La Touche. " It 
would be better, it seems, if he would not be so per- 
sistent in going there every day ; it is too much for 
him, and he often makes mistakes with the corre- 
spondence." 

" I think he is beginning to be aware that he must 
stay a day at home now and then," replied Stephen. 
"In that case you will sometimes find it difficult to 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 239 

occupy him, and you may find him a little trying. It 
has occurred to me that Colin MacTaggart would be a 
nice cheerful companion, and that it is perhaps a for- 
tunate thing that he is coming up to London." 

" Urn ! I don't know," answered Miss La Touche. 
" Colin is not a society man, by all accounts. Percival 
has seen all the family, and he can't bear them." 

" That is of no consequence," returned Stephen 
loftily. " I don't want Colin to be constantly here, 
but in the event of my father requiring a companion 
now and then, I think you might do a worse thing 
than encourage his own nephew to take him about, 
and show him some little attention. Colin is great at 
meetings and charitable clubs, I believe, and he would 
be a far better attendant than Martha, don't you 
think ? " 

"In some ways he would be, in others he would 
not," answered Marcia. " He could not keep off any 
of the women who might make up to your father at 
the meetings, and so forth, because he would never 
suspect what they were up to. Still, it might be con- 
venient to have him here sometimes." 

" MacTaggart is not a youth to be treated in a 
patronising fashion," Stephen replied. " He is a good, 
sturdy, straightforward lad, and I wish to bespeak 
your kind offices for him, Aunt Marcia. I fancy he 
wants employment in London, and I hope you will 
stand his friend." 

" Oh, he cannot expect to be employed in the Lon- 
don office of our house," replied Marcia — "it would 



240 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

never answer. Percival would never hear of such a 
thing; bul I will try what I can do." 

There's another matter to which I want to direct 
your attention, Aunt Marcia, and that is the way in 
which you keep the house accounts. My father, if he 
remains more at home, will be looking closely into 
them as an occupation." 

" How come you to know anything about the house 
accounts ? " inquired Miss La Touche, reddening. 

" My father gave me the house-book this morning, 
and asked me to sum up the total before he wrote the 
cheque," replied Stephen. " Fortunately, I could aver 
that was quite right ; but on looking over some of the 
items, I confess I was rather amazed at their peculi- 
arity. For instance, what a sum we pay for faggots — 
quite enough to illuminate half the city of London." 

" Not faggots, you stupid boy," cried Marcia ; " you 
should read ' forgets ' — things I don't remember." 

" That's it ! — you spell the word in more than 
one way ; but the forgets amount to a large sum in 
the aggregate." 

" You see I have so much to manage to make all 
expenses meet," replied Marcia. " Now that Percival 
pays a good board, your father will not allow the 
slightest margin. I have to go through a great deal 
to keep the house up to the mark, with these ex- 
pensive dinners, to say nothing of the girls' dress and 
my own. As for dress, Percival would as soon think 
of giving the elephant in the Zoological Gardens a 
gold collar and badge, as he would give one of us 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 241 

an ornament of any kind, and yet he won't be seen 
with us if we are not dressed in the height of the 
fashion." 

" The height of the fashion ! " exclaimed Stephen ; 
" that I take it is only the province of carriage people. 
As we are generally walking people, I should say the 
heels of the fashion would be near enough for the 
ladies of this house." 

" There it is," said Marcia. " Percival and many 
other men are never weary of declaiming against 
the extravagance of women and their love of dress, 
and yet they censure their female relatives unmerci- 
fully if these do not appear to advantage, or if 
their toilets are not strictly in fashion, and, above 
all, fresh. It was only the other day that Percival 
declined to take Fanny to the Botanic, because her 
hat was not of the fashionable shape. It was very 
good, and she looked quite pretty in it ; and this, after 
he had urged my brother to give the girls a smaller 
allowance than the sum which I had suggested." 

" Too bad — much too bad," answered Stephen. 

"Yes; and he preached about the folly of giving 
young girls an ample allowance, urging that it led to 
vanity and waste. Now I know the very contrary to 
be the case. A small allowance compels a woman to 
think of her clothes, and cutting and contriving, and 
moreover to be imposing on the public by trying to 
make old clothes look like new." 

" Many ladies have to do that," said Stephen. 

" Then," continued Marcia, " the annoyance of having 
vol. II. Q 



242 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

to borrow the pattern of your well-dressed friend's 
raiment, and the humiliation of being caught in the 
act of taking a bird's-eye view of the cut of another 
woman's sleeve, and the wearing imitation lace, and 
other cheap horrors, and after all this, the insult— yes, 
it is an insult— of being censured for not looking in 
the fashion. Bah ! the men want everything in the 
first style, and they object to pay for it, where women 
are concerned ; but they never grudge themselves their 
cigars and recJiercM dinners — not they." 

There was so much truth in what Marcia had ad- 
vanced, that Stephen contented himself with an ex- 
culpation, in so far as he was himself interested ; so 
he said — 

" I do not care to see any woman very expensively 
or fashionably dressed, — all I look for is good fit, 
taste as simple as you please for girls ; but all must 
be bright and fresh — freshness is the first thing in 
any toilet. Good boots and gloves." 

"The most expensive toilet of all is this one of 
freshness, at least in London," said Marcia. " The 
bill of the laundress would scare you into convulsions, 
if you go in for Arcadian simplicity and washing 
dresses. As to fit, the dressmakers charge quite as 
much for making a print dress as they do for making 
an expensive silk ; and good boots and gloves cost sim- 
plicity quite as much as does a more pretentious toilet." 

" At any rate," responded Stephen, still preserving 
the thread of his original caution, "don't you put 
down 'forgets' and 'faggots,' meaning bonnets; only 



DOMESTIC ECONOMY. 243 

think what a hold this would give Percival over you, 
should my father make any investigations concerning 
these items." 

This was, perhaps, the most forcible argument 
which could be brought to bear on the subject, and 
Marcia, without committing herself to any promise, 
thought it, nevertheless, well to agree with her nephew 
that it would be advisable to let the house-book, in 
future, represent its own legitimate expenses. Besides, 
if her brother remained much at home, it would not 
be safe to juggle with the house accounts, — she fully 
admitted this also. Then they turned to other talk, 
and it transpired that a missive from Hunter's Lodge 
had informed Marcia that the Claverings were going 
direct to Brydone, there to finish the rest of Frank's 
holiday. Miss Clavering and Mr Glascott had taken 
their departure already, and Miss Fanshawe was 
coming at once to London for a week, to transact 
some business, and would be the guest of Lady 
Hautenbas. 

Stephen smiled, but said nothing. He, however, re- 
solved to let the advantages of the Channel Islands, 
and those of Jersey especially, be placed before his 
pupil in the strongest light, and at once have the 
time arranged for departure on their reading -tour 
irremediably fixed. 

There was a great contention afterwards over Colin 
MacTaggart. Percival declared that he should not 
be employed in the La Touche office, either at home 
or abroad. The old gentleman declared that he ought 



•244 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

to be; and the whole family, with the exception of 
Stephen, opined that it would be the best thing for 
that youth if he could go out of the country at once. 
The crime of poverty suggests the punishment of 
immediate expatriation — especially that phase of 
poverty which is termed genteel. This is the worst 
phase, because it demands recognition from trie equals 
of the criminal. " Go abroad," say they, not so much 
for the benefit of the sufferer as to relieve themselves 
of the incubus of a poor relation — the "incubus" of 
whose presence is oftener more oppressive than the 
duty of affording him help, either monetary or by 
personal influence. The poor relation, unless his or 
her state be redeemed by a patrician appearance, 
should in all cases be felt, but never be seen. 

When the family Vehmgericht was concluded, 
Marcia inquired v:lio was to counsel Mr MacTaggart, 
and put all the resolutions before him. 

" Oh, you certainly," replied two or three in chorus ; 
" women always manage these things well." 

" That means," replied Marcia, " that when there is 
anything very disagreeable to be said or done, the 
lady of the house is always supposed to be equal to 
the occasion. However, I will manage this." 

Colin arrived in due course, and it was very satis- 
factory to his cousin Stephen to perceive that the 
young Scotch gentleman was perfectly able to bear 
the brunt of the whole of the house of La Touche. 



245 



CHAPTER XII. 

IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 

" Now, Colin," said Marcia, a few days after his arrival, 
as she plumped herself down on the spring sofa, try- 
ing to look business-like, which was a complete failure, 
and really looking like a comfortable matron, — " I want 
to speak to you about your future prospects, as if I 
were your mother, you know." 

"Weel, just for the time being," replied Colin, 
cautiously. " Ye never troubled much about my mother 
when she was in life, and ye are no ma-an's wife yet, 
ma good auntie ; still, for the time being, I will listen 
to ye as if ye really were my mother." 

Marcia bridled up a little at this answer, which was 
delivered in rather a broader Scotch accent than 
usual — for Colin was nervous, and in consequence he 
cast the load on his soul into his speech ; and al- 
though he neither stammered nor hesitated, he em- 
phasised his words most painfully. He might cer- 
tainly have kicked, or wrung his hands, or even 
plucked at some near object, and thus come within 



246 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

the range of his aunt's reprobation. As it was, she 
merely said : " You must get rid of that accent, my 
dear; you are very bad to-day, — perhaps you have it 
at intervals." Marcia spoke as if she were treating of 
B case of ague or intermittent fever; but as her object 
was to conciliate this rough diamond, and to get him 
to go quietly when opportunity should present itself, 
she confined her attention to the matter in hand, and 
sj.oke with a little air of authority which was far 
from unbecoming. Leaving the accent to take care 
of itself until a more convenient season, she said — 

"My good lad, I have had the experience of a 
dozen women in bringing up such a family of nephews 
and nieces as I have here ; and by this time I know 
pretty well what occupation is best suited, not only 
for them, but for most other young people in whom 
I may become interested. Of course, as your aunt, I 
have been thinking how best to get you provided for ; 
and I am truly pleased to find that you are ready to 
work, and to set about it at once." 

Colin merely inclined his head, but stuck himself 
tighter into the wicker-basket chair in which he had 
seated himself, making it creak at every movement. 

"Oh, you must never sit in that chair!" cried 
Marcia, hastily; "get up directly. That is Fanny's 
chair — my little dog; it is her own property — dear 
little faithful thing ! She bit you, you remember, the 
night you came." 

"I remember the little brute," quoth Colin, — "a 
cross-grained character, I should say. Be assured I 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 247 

do not care to sit in her chair. Chair ! what an un- 
natural life for a doa? ! " 

" That I should live to hear my Fanny called a 
brute ! " returned Marcia, indignantly. " However, 
never mind, — we are talking business now. About 
your occupation, — I think you would not do well 
in the same office as my brother, eh ? " 

As no time was left for a reply, Marcia went on : 
" Relations never do agree in the same house of busi- 
ness, even if they are in widely different departments. 
You would not be available for the foreign branch of 
the house, would you ? " 

" At present I speak and write no language but my 
own," Colin made answer; "but I could easy learn 
any other, — I don't mind work and study. I think 
also," he added, with a quiet pride that was quite en- 
nobling, " there would be little to find fault with in 
my accounts." 

"There is no vacancy in the foreign branch just 
now," continued Marcia, without seeming to heed her 
nephew's remark. " Mr Percival told me yesterday 
that there was no occupation for another clerk there." 
(Marcia always spoke of the La Touche nephews as 
Mister So-and-so, thereby drawing a distinction between 
these and the inferior members of the family, as she 
termed the MacTaggarts and some worthy cousins of 
the name of Fulton : these last were trying relatives, 
who always contrived to call at Hinton Square at the 
seasons when Marcia was in full blow, and did not look 
for the advent of country cousins.) 



248 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

"I'm not particular," Colin replied; "my great 
wish is to get a situation wherein to earn a decent 
living." 

" Very proper, — very proper indeed ! " continued 
Mania, giving her hair a pat, as she stole a look at 
i lie mirror which was on one side of her. " Very sen- 
sible, too, to see that you would not do in the same 
office with my brother : on this point you quite agree 
with me." 

Colin had said nothing of the kind ; but now he re- 
plied, with the most comprehensive and delightful can- 
dour, "I should not like to work with any of the 
family here." 

" Exactly so, " answered Miss La Touche, quite 
relieved to find that her nephew had no aspirations 
towards entering the office ; " you see there would be 
so many masters, and incompatibility of — what is it ? — 
and all that. I know them all so well, and have to go 
through so much myself daily with all their whims 
and fantigues, — to say nothing of the dinners, which 
really are knocking nails into my coffin. But I have 
not forgotten you, and that is why I wanted to talk 
with you this morning. I had a conversation yester- 
day with Mr Whyfly, who " 

" Mister wha ? " interruped Colin, startled into his 
broadest accent at the sound of this extraordinary 
surname. 

"Whyfly!— no, I think it is Highflyer,— yes, Mr 
Highflyer, the missionary somewhere out in Africa. 
He came back last month with a dreadful colour, 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 249 

from being obliged to eat all his food half mixed with 
mud or something. However that may be, his com- 
plexion is gone, my dear, — I know it to my cost, for 
he put my Eau cle Nil satin dress quite in the back- 
ground when he came near me, the evening he dined 
here. Well, he called yesterday, and I took the oppor- 
tunity of speaking about you. Mr Whyfly thinks that 
if you would like to go and convert some of the tribes 
on the Congo, and try and release the slaves there, — 
or was it on Cape Comorin ? all the same thing, — he 
could find you some work, and that you might be an 
ornament to the cause — that is, if you are not eaten ; 
but you can't afford to be nice, and must take your 
chance of that." 

"I'm not going to the Congo, — that's in Africa, 
Aunt Marcia, — and Cape Comorin is on the south 
of Hindustan," returned the youth with a grin, in- 
cited by the shakiness of his aunt's geography ; " ma 
wish and purpose is to get some occupation in or near 
London. I would not object to go to one of the Con- 
tinental towns or ports ; but out of Europe I cannot 
go, at least at present. However, I would much prefer 
to remain in London." 

" Why ? " asked Marcia, quickly. 

" Just because I have the beginning, at any rate, of 
something to do. The Scots minister who has that 
Presbyterian Church near the British Museum has 
already secured me three pupils to learn book-keeping 
in the evenings. I'm pretty fair at book-keeping and 
shorthand writing, so I hope in time to get up an 



250 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

evening class; but I want occupation in the day. 
Your friend, perhaps, might know of something I could 
do as a city missionary; I am sure there is scope 
enough for that, without going farther afield. Many 
<*ood men have worked in the home mission before 
"oinrr abroad. Noble David Livingstone did so." 

" David ? Not the one that played the harp ? I 
ought to have an interest in King David, for I play 
the harp myself. Really there is so much to re- 
member nowadays, that one gets confused. There 
is, or was, a David who composed an opera — 
or painted the 'Slaughter of the Innocents,' or 
something: his name was Felicien, I am sure of 

that." 

Colin very nearly groaned. The heathenism of the 
moneyed classes was exercising his mind, and no 
wonder. He refrained, however, from making re- 
marks on his aunt's mixed information, and con- 
tented himself with simply stating that he would 
like to work as a missionary in London. 

" Why not go to foreign parts at once," said Marcia, 
" if you can get a chance of doing so ? The Church 
Missionary Society would send you free. I am sure 
it ought to do something for a relative of this family, 
seeing what lots of sermons and collections we have 
had to endure for it. There would be the passage for 
nothing, you see, and they allow a sum for outfit, which 
you could keep, for I don't fancy they dress much on 
the Congo ; and I could rake up enough for the voyage, 
— the lads here have lots of old clothes." 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 251 

" I'm much obliged to you," returned Colin, stoutly ; 
" but I told you before, Aunt Marcia, that I do not 
intend to go out of Europe at present." 

Marcia was proceeding to administer a searching 
inquiry with regard to this decision, when she was 
frustrated in her intention by the door being gently 
opened. The cause of the interruption was the quiet 
entry of Lillian Fanshawe. 

Mr MacTaggart, who had been sitting opposite the 
door and very close to it, stumbled against Fanny's 
chair as he backed himself out of the visitor's way, 
and so set a little velvet footstool, shaped like a pound- 
cake, and beaded on its surface with the La Touche 
arms, spinning over the room. The impetus caused it 
to rush full tilt against a Chippendale table, upon 
which a bijou service of Dresden china was set 
out in great state. 

This had been a gift to one of Marcia's nieces a 
year or two ago ; but that good lady, feeling that the 
presentee was not of an age to appreciate the value of 
it, had quietly appropriated the whole concern, satisfy- 
ing her conscience that she would leave it to Eva in 
her will. 

The cannon of the footstool against the table very 
nearly brought the Dresden china to a premature end : 
indeed nothing could have saved it had not Miss Fan- 
shawe, with quiet adroitness, seized the edge of the 
table as it quivered from the collision, and held it 
firmly before it could rock forwards. "There are 
only a few things displaced — nothing broken," she 



252 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

said, in her measured tones, reassuring both aunt 
and uephew. "I ought not to have come in so 
abruptly; but I did not want to bring a servant all 
ill,- way up-stairs. It is all my fault," she added, 
bowing graciously to Colin. 

"Oh, what an escape! When I heard that dread- 
ful chink, I thought all was over with that precious 
china," cried Marcia, as soon as she had recovered 
her breath. "My good lad," she continued, address- 
ing Colin, " you should always be careful where china 
is concerned. You cannot tell how much I value that 
set, the gift of an old admirer, now " 

" No more," cut in Colin, in a tone which was in- 
tended to be at once sympathetic and conciliatory. 

Xo, no, not quite no more," returned Marcia, 
hurriedly ; " you should let people conclude their 
own sentences, my dear. The gentleman I allude 
no business to be no more — at least, not at 
present. He owes the firm a lot of money. I meant 
ay that he is now in Japan, or in some of those 
American places." 

"Asiatic, ye mean," corrected Colin, in a rasping 
tone. "I — all I can say is, that I am very sorry 
that I have startled you, ladies; but as the gim- 
crackery is safe, I hope I may say that no harm 
has been done, Aunt Marcia." 

The epithet "gimcrackery " applied to this precious 
china was .mite enough to send Miss La Touche into 
such a transport of indignation as to render hei 
totally unfit for the ordinary purposes of society, for 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 253 

an hour at least. Now, as it was Miss Fanshawe's 
purpose to secure the attention of Marcia on an im- 
portant subject, for which reason she had called early 
to consult her, that young lady employed all the re- 
sources of her genius to at once quench Miss La 
Touch e, and at the same time to get rid of Mr 
MacTaggart. 

A telegraphic signal, managed with great adroitness 
of eye and expression, apprised Marcia that she would 
do well to reserve her philippics for a more convenient 
season. The hint was taken with magnetic celerity, 
and the two ladies simultaneously joined issue to ex- 
pedite the departure of Colin MacTaggart. 

"You are just in time, Miss Fanshawe," said 
Marcia, "for I am rather hurried, and you will be 
able to give us some information upon the subject 
we are now discussing. Do you know anybody who 
wants a missionary, or to seDd one to the lower parts 
of the City ? Mr MacTaggart — Miss Fanshawe. I 
ought to have introduced you, but the china — well, 
as you are a clergyman's daughter, you will be able to 
tell us how to set about all that sort of thing, — the 
heathen, you know, and the roughs, which abound 
somewhere at the East End." 

" I have not the faintest knowledge of the subject," 
replied Miss Lillian, with consummate coolness. " In 
fact, I make a point of ignoring all religious societies, 
for I don't see why the role of clergyman's daughter 
should be made so professional as it often is. But 
really, I don't know anything more about the Mis- 



254 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

r\ Society except that papa preaches a sermon 
annually for it, and sends the money up to London." 

"I don't mean to trouble you," answered Marcia, 
"but perhaps you know of somebody to whom we 
could apply, and who could put us in the way of 
Bending out this gentleman. He has a mission in 
life for converting people; and I believe it leads to 
Bome good things if people go at it in the right 
way.* 

Miss Fanshawe could hardly restrain a smile : how- 
ever, as her policy just now was to stand well with 
Marcia, she replied graciously, "The Church Mission- 
ary Society, my dear Miss La Touche, would be the 
most proper source whereat to apply for information. 
Is your friend interested in the matter ? " she in- 
quired, looking at Colin, and feeling quite sure that 
Colin was the individual concerned. 

Mr MacTaggart assented, and added that it was 
imperative that he should be employed at once; he 
would prefer working in the city. 

"Waifs and strays and all that kind of thing," in- 
terpolated Marcia, — "look up the parents, and preach 
against the dev — I mean the old gentleman. I think, 
too, there would be some reading required. Yes ; I 
am sure there's reading among the duties." 

" Would that not fall under the head of a Scripture- 
reader's work ? " said Miss Fanshawe. 

"Exactly — the very thing!" replied Marcia, who 
knew as much about the matter as a cat. "Do you 
know of a place vacant for a Scripture-reader ?" 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 255 

Miss Fanshawe did not, but she would give Mr 
MacTaggart the address of a friend of her father, a 
Mr Carbery, who lived in Charterhouse Square, and 
who, she said, went in for that kind of thing. " And 
a very good thing it is," continued Miss Fanshawe, 
turning up her eyes piously, and beaming on Colin as 
they settled to his focus. 

"Very well," said MacTaggart, seeing that an an- 
swer was expected of him ; " the thing is, how am I 
to become a Scripture-reader ? I am not sure that 
I understand all the duties required by such an ap- 
pointment." 

" Oh," said Marcia, " you will have to read the 
Bible, and explain it according to your own ideas, 
and if the people hold a different opinion, you can 
let them have it — that's the comfort of Protestantism. 
And you can look up . the low places, and find out 
where fever really is, and where decent servants are 
to be found, and " 

" Pick up a choice bit of old china here and there," 
interrupted Miss Fanshawe, with just a suspicion of 
sarcasm in her tone. 

" Quite so," returned Marcia, en grand se'rieux. " You 
must keep your eyes open, Colin, and the chances are 
that you may fall in with a bit of Worcester or Crown 
Derby worth pounds for a shilling or two." 

" I'm not a connoisseur," declared Colin, when he 
could get a word in. " A cup and saucer is to me a 
cup and saucer, and nothing more." 

" But you should, in compliment to science," said 



256 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Marcia, "endeavour to know something about old 
china ; you must go with the age, my dear. You will 
be doing a service to your fellow-creatures should you 
rescue some fine old piece from oblivion. Of course 
you must make yourself acquainted with some of the 
marks by which antique porcelain is recognised. I 
will rive vou a lesson on the subject some other time. 
I can only detain you a few minutes, as I want to go 
out before luncheon." 

Here Miss Fanshawe bestowed an approving nod 
on her friend, as much as to say, "Shorten your ad- 
rice, and let him go." 

"What I want to impress upon you as to your 
future career," said Marcia, sententiously, " is drawn 
from Mr "Why fly's experience. You know — or rather 
you don't know — that Mr Highflyer — I never can 
remember that good man's name — did up the people 
in the low part of the City before he was sent out to 
Tamik-el-Hashid, or Wady something, a place with a 
smp^on of cotton -wool in the sound, — it does not 
matter. Well, he found the greatest comfort and 
benefit from having a partner in the work — a female." 

" A female partner ! " cried Colin, aghast ; and even 
Miss Fanshawe opened her eyes wide and laughed. 

" Yes," said Marcia — " a partner and a female ; but 
she must have a purse, my dear. You will be tor- 
mented to death to feed this one and clothe that one, 
and attend to the spiritual schooling (which means 
pay) of a whole back-court. Now, there are plenty 
of good women — widows — left well off, who like a 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 257 

little pious excitement, and to have their say, and be 
looked up to; and Mr Why — Highfly — flier — got 
hold of one of these, the relict of a rich drysalter, and 
she worked with him, and he made her " 

" His wife," suggested Miss Fanshawe, in the hope 
of cutting Miss La Touche short. 

" His wife ! no, indeed ; once married and his pres- 
tige would have been gone. It's like that with cur- 
ates : the church is crowded as long as the curate is 
unmarried, but a great change takes place when he 
becomes a Benedict ; so with the Scripture - reader, 
when he is young. A wife is a positive bar to his 
success ; Mr Highfly knew better." 

" Did he make the drysalter woman ? " Colin 

was beginning in the interests of strict morality and 
truth. 

" My dear, he made her his almoner," interrupted 
Marcia. 

" That's right," replied Colin, much relieved. " I 
did not know that such an office was attached to a 
city missionary or Scripture-reader." 

" It's purely optional and honorary : you may 
not always find a suitable person," answered Marcia. 
" Of course it must be a woman with money, and one 
willing to be in subjection." 

" The almoner, in this instance," said Miss Fan- 
shawe, turning to Colin, " dispenses her own money, 
and applies it to the cases recommended by the Scrip- 
ture-reader. Mr Whyfly was in luck; such an ex- 
perience, I fancy, does not occur to many." 

VOL. II. . R 



258 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

"Much better not," replied Colin, vigorously. 
'• Thank you for your advice, Aunt Marcia. But no 
female partnership for me! I shall hope to raise a 
Little money by general subscription, should I be 
fortunate enough to get the occupation I want; and 
ii you will allow me to associate you in any work of 
mercy, I shall only be too proud to reckon upon the 
assistance of ma kinswoman." 

So saying, Colin rose, and taking from Miss Fan- 
si i a we the card upon which she had written Mr Car- 
bery'8 address, he took leave of the ladies, and went 
forth in his honest single-heartedness, very much as 
one who had come off victorious over the world and 
the rlesh. Aunt Marcia, at any rate, respected him 
as being one upon whom the good things of the world 
were utterly thrown away, for she remarked as he 
closed the door — 

e is of the old-fashioned stuff, — nothing will 
turn hiin, if he believes a thing to be right : he would 
go through fire and water for a principle." 

" Ay," said Miss Fanshawe, half sadly ; " the great 
thing in this world is to be sure that one is right. In- 
deed it is a great puzzle to define the right thing: 
society goes one way, moral and religious teach- 
ing often go directly the other. I suppose the 
height of perfection is reached when we manage 
to mix all together, so as to stand well with the 
world." 

" Money always binds the most conflicting positions 
and opinions together," moralised Marcia. "I don't 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 259 

mean to say that it always brings happiness," she con- 
tinued, looking very wise. 

" I don't know," said Lillian, slowly ; " money cer- 
tainly smoothes the way to happiness in many cases. 
Just look at our family at home : we are striving 
every nerve to keep up appearances, and only those 
who are situated in like circumstances can understand 
the amount of self-denial we all have to go through 
in order to keep up our position before the world ; 
and yet the world in general must know that the 
effort is great, and perhaps wonders why we make it." 

" I certainly think," said Marcia, with the want of 
tact which was perhaps the strongest point in her 
character — " I certainly think you would have been 
better off had you lived at the rectory, and let Pin- 
nacles Court." 

" Then," returned Lillian, " we should have been 
but parish clergy ; now, at the Court we are county 
gentry." 

" Just so," returned Marcia ; " then you have your 
reward for the sacrifices you make : you are the Fan- 
shawes of Pinnacles Court, and if you tell the world 
that the first Fanshawe came over with the Conqueror 
and Queen Matilda as the Court tanner, the world 
will respect you accordingly. My dear, we must go 
with the times. The maxim of the day is self-glorifica- 
tion ; some take it out in money, some in the boast of 
ancient family." 

" Yes ; and in the next generation, my father thinks, 
the boast will be that of the best- crammed young per- 



ogo THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Bon, male or female, under a given standard of age. 
Women, he says, will step into the place of men, and 
we are to have an age of preaching females, medical 
females, and lawyer females, and, of course, their 
counterpart also — semi-feminised men." 

" How dreadful ! " exclaimed Marcia. " What's to 
become of the babies ? " 

" That subject my father did not touch upon ; but 
both my parents seem to think there are too many 
children in the world. My mother is always grumb- 
ling at there being so many of us — as if we could help 
it ! However, I, as the eldest, see it to be my duty 
to relieve them of my maintenance as speedily as 
possible ; but before I make a final decision, I have 
come to consult you." 

" What ! " exclaimed Marcia in great delight, — " has 

Percival come forward in the proper form ? I was 

i that he had rather cooled on the matter. He 

has been, I suppose, to see you at your aunt's house, — 

quite the proper thing " 

" You are quite mistaken in your inferences, Miss 
La louche," replied the young lady, as soon as she 
could get a word in. " Your nephew is no suitor of 
mine; I have not set eyes on him since I came to 
London." 

" Of course I only assumed this," said Marcia, won- 
dering. " We heard you were on a visit to Lady Haut- 
enbas, before I got your note last week telling me 
you were in town on business for Mr Fanshawe. 
Percival is so close when he likes, and never tells me 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 261 

more than he can help, that I thought it possible he 
might have availed himself of the opportunity of 
calling upon you, and following up this privilege. I 
know he always admired you very much ; and I am 
very sorry that I am not to claim you as a relative." 

As Marcia spoke she pressed the girl's hand with 
real sincerity; for of all the young ladies who had 
been admitted as " possible " for Percival, his aunt 
most undoubtedly preferred Miss Fanshawe. Not 
only would that young lady have done credit to the 
taste of Mr La Touche, but as his wife she would 
have added dignity to the alliance, and would, above 
all things, have kept Percival straight. This certainly 
was a great chance missed ; but the die was cast, and 
Miss La Touche, curious to know who the real suitor 
of Miss Fanshawe might be, proceeded to ascertain 
that fact by means of a leading question. 

" I suppose some one of the eligibles who have the 
entree of the house of Lady Hautenbas has fallen a 
victim to your charms ? " said Marcia, smiling. 

" No," returned her friend, without any circumlocu- 
tion ; " the victim lives mostly in the country, and he 
is an elderly man " 

" Colonel Leppell ! " Marcia almost screamed with 
astonishment. " Why, the man has only been a 
widower a few weeks ! and he has such a host of 
children ; and he has no money — not a rap beyond 
his pay ; and he must be forty-eight if he is a day." 

" You are quite wrong," returned Miss Fanshawe, 
who sat enjoying Marcia's ejaculations. " I mean you 



262 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

are wrong as to the individual, but you are right as 
bo the sum of Colonel Leppell's age; he is past forty- 
eight years. My victim is turned fifty-eight years. 
Now, cannot you guess who the victim is?" 

Marcia opened her eyes, turned very pink, and 
then gasped, "It is never, never— Mr Glascott — Mr 
Glascott of Brydone ! " 

The same; and why not?" returned Miss Fan- 
shawe, the marble hue of her skin now flushing with 
a lovely colour. As her eyes dilated, Marcia could 
not help noticing how much the girl resembled the 
late Mrs Leppell, — never had she been more struck 
by t lie likeness. 

" Why not ? " reiterated Lillian. " Mr Glascott is 
a handsome, healthy man, very destitute of whims 
and freaks. His fortune is large; and in my opinion 
the alliance has only one drawback — not the draw- 
back of disparity of age, — that's nobody's business 
but our own, — but the drawback of the cousin — 
wind, as she is called — Miss Clavering. I have 
come to consult you on this point, for you have had 
so much experience with girls." 

" Do you mean that you anticipate any difficulty as 
i" Miss Clavering's residence at Brydone, in the event 
of your marrying her guardian ? " Marcia inquired. 

" That is just the point," returned Miss Fanshawe ; 
u and it is so important that I have refrained from 
giving Mr Glascott a decided answer till I can see my 
why to arrange this. There cannot be two mistresses 
ai l'.rydone — that is quite clear." 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 263 

" No ; but Miss Clavering would cede to her 
guardian's wife, I should think, without any demur," 
said Marcia. " You might propose," continued the 
lady, " that Miss Clavering should live half the year 
with her brother and his wife." 

" Mr Glascott feels inclined to propose that ; but he 
does not seem to be very hearty on the matter. He 
cannot see why we cannot live amicably together." 

" Nor do I," replied Marcia. " A little considera- 
tion is due, I think, to Miss Clavering. She has 
gone to Brydone with the idea that she is to be sole 
mistress there ; all the furnishing and arrangements, I 
believe, depend upon her. She will hardly have time 
to get the place in order and assume the duties when 
she will find herself displaced. You must allow it 
will be very hard on her; neither you nor I would 
like it, were we in her place." 

" That is quite true," Lillian answered ; " but the 
fact is that I don't like Miss Clavering. I never 
liked her from the first moment I beheld her." 

Lillian confidently expected that Miss La Touche 
would join issue with her at this assertion. She was 
not aware that Marcia, so far from resenting Percival's 
rejection, was in total ignorance that he had made 
proposals to Miss Clavering. 

His leaving the picnic party in Barkholme woods 
so suddenly was universally believed to have been the 
effect of a severe attack of dyspepsia, accompanied by 
fainting ; and as he had suffered some time before 
from a like seizure, Marcia had taken the whole en 



THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

grand ttrieux, and highly approved of her nephew's 
admit management in getting himself conveyed so 
opportunely to Yarne in the conveyance of Mr 

Clowea 

On his arrival there Mr La Touche had, to save 
appearances, consulted a doctor, and when Marcia 
returned to the Red Lion Hotel she found Percival 
in bed, vowing he had taken a chill, and abjuring 
picnics for evermore. 

Thus it was that Miss La Touche was in profound 
ignorance of Percival's wooing. She had thought him 
. indifferent that day towards Miss Fanshawe, but 
si a- ascribed that circumstance to a proclivity which 
this oephew had of playing gargon volage, and as 
aval made no sign, the subject passed from her 
mind. 

Miss Fanshawe at once perceived this, and thought 
it a i sable to enlighten her hostess: it would 

hardly be wise to let Marcia imagine that her dislike 
to Miss Clavering should have arisen from Percival's 
attentions. These attentions had at one time been 
prominently directed towards herself, — so much so, 
that there was some ground for this inference had 
Miss La Touche known more, or had she been malev- 
olently inclined. 

So Miss Fanshawe kept to general topics, attribut- 
luT objection to Miss Clavering as an inmate to 
the desire she had always had of being sole mistress 
of a house of her own. 

' You know," she said, in support of this declaration, 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 265 

" how little I have had of real comfort at home : my 
position as the eldest daughter is completely ignored, 
or, at least, it is only recognised when I can do what 
none of the rest can or will do. My presence in 
London is a case in point. Some family affairs 
require law business and some interviewing of differ- 
ent persons. My father can't leave home just now, 
and my mother is only recovering from another baby, 
so I have been sent, principally, I believe, because I 
am supposed to be able to manage Lady Hautenbas, 
who is rather idiotic where business and writing 
business letters are concerned." 

" But you have your reward," Marcia replied. " Mr 
Glascott, I take it, is in town." 

" Yes ; he came up from Brydone to be out of the 
way of the furnishing and so forth, and to make some 
purchases. He called two days ago, and we settled 
almost everything but this affair of Miss Clavering' s 
home. All will be finally decided in a week ; but I do 
wish that girl could make her home with her brother." 

" Why not ? " said Miss La Touche ; " I am sure Mrs 
Clavering would be delighted with such an arrange- 
ment." 

"Yes; but I doubt if Mr Clavering would appre- 
ciate it. The brother and sister are very unlike ; and 
Mr Glascott admits that "Willina's outspoken ways 
and her independence of manner rather irritate Mr 
Clavering." 

" She will most likely marry soon, and well," said 
Marcia. 



266 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" If she would do that, I should not mind her re- 
siding for a time at Brydone. I think she intends to 
marry ; but, if I am not very much mistaken, she will 
neither marry soon nor well — for well, of course, means 
money, or money's worth in position and connection. 
She will have to wait long before that is achieved." 

" Then ..there is an admirer in the case ? " inquired 
the elder lady. 

" I 'believe so ; but I am sure Mr Glascott would 
not consent to the match, — there are objections to the 
family of the gentleman." 

Now, as Miss Fanshawe was alluding to Mr Stephen 
La Touche, she could not in common propriety say 
more; and as Marcia had seriously believed that her 
younger nephew had been much inclined towards 
Lillian, she had no idea that Stephen had the remotest 
idea of aspiring to Miss Clavering, and so she took in 
this history very readily. She, however, enjoined her 
friend to accept the present state of things, sweeten- 
ing the pill by the assurance that Willina would be 
much from home paying visits. After the first dis- 
appointment, Miss Clavering would naturally leave 
home more readily when she knew that Mr Glascott 
had some one to look after him and make his house 
comfortable. 

Miss Fanshawe conceded that she had not viewed 
the subject in that light, and she therefore drew com- 
fort from the suggestions of her friend: yes, she 
would finally accept Mr Glascott, and leave Miss 
Clavering to chance. " I believe she dislikes me as 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 267 

much as I dislike her," Miss Lillian averred. " It is 
just as well, as she will do her best to be as much 
away from Brydone as possible." 

" Of course, she as yet knows nothing of Mr Glas- 
cott's plans ? — she will be greatly astonished," quoth 
Marcia. 

" I think she suspects something, and J daresay 
she lays it to my wiles," replied Miss Fanshawe. 
'•Women are fond of indulging in these ideas where 
an elderly man and a young girl are concerned. But, 
to tell you the truth, Colonel Leppell has been the 
main instrument in bringing this about." 

" I should not have thought that he was much of a 
matchmaker," Miss La Touche remarked. 

" Nor is he ; but Mr Glascott was struck at first by 
the remarkable likeness which I bear to the late Mrs 
Leppell when she was young : the Colonel thought he 
would do us both a good turn, and so he prompted 
Mr Glascott to pay his addresses to me. For my 
part, I really like Mr Glascott, and a marriage with 
him will be a most fortunate method of escaping from 
home." 

" And he never thought of the difference this would 

CD 

make to Miss Clavering* ? " returned Marcia. 

" I suppose not. The Colonel is my friend, and he, 
knowing how I am situated at home, and that I am 
penniless, sought to do me a kindness. Miss Claver- 
ing has a little money of her own, and I daresay she 
will be provided for in addition, if she marry to the 
satisfaction of her brother and her guardian." 



268 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" Um ! and what will your parents say to your 
engagement ? " inquired Miss La Touche. 

" I am sure they ought to be very much gratified," 
the young lady replied, with the utmost coolness. " My 
mother gets rid of me without trouble. It is possible 
that my father will object to the disparity of age ; but 
he will remember his large family of daughters and 
be thankful, and they will both combine to make my 
marriage useful as a means of getting off my sisters." 

" Very natural," observed Maria. 

" But I do not intend anything of the kind," replied 
the young lady ; " and that is one advantage of Brydone 
being over the sea. Mr Glascott shall never feel that 
he has married a family, nor shall my mother make a 
convenience of me in any way." 

This was conducting matters with a vengeance, 
Marcia thought ; but she merely said, " I suppose, 
when all is arranged, your wedding will follow im- 
mediately ? " 

" I think so ; but Mr Glascott is going to have 
a large house-warming, and he wishes Miss Clavering 
to do the honours. The Claverings are to stay there, 
and some other friends. The engagement will be an- 
nounced after that, but of course I shall inform my 
father. At present, please consider what I have told 
you as a secret." 

Marcia promised ; and as Miss Fanshawe had taken 
her advice, she parted on very good terms with that 
lady, notwithstanding that she scarcely approved of 
the manner in which Lillian had mentioned her 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 269 

mother. " I suppose Mrs Fanshawe has herself to 
thank," mused Miss La Touche ; " she is a hard 
worldly woman. At the same time, I don't admire 
Lillian for being so ready to impart that fact to 
every one she sees. Mr Glascott is a kindly, nice 
man ; but I think he would have done better to 
eschew Miss Fanshawe and stick to his cousin." 

Thus Marcia, who, after eating her luncheon in 
solitude — for Miss Fanshawe, apprehensive of meet- 
ing Percival, who often came home to that meal, had 
refused the invitation to remain — proceeded to join 
her nieces, who were all out on a shopping expedi- 
tion. 

Lillian Fanshawe returned to her aunt's house, and 
wrote to Mr Glascott at his hotel. It was such a note 
as to bring that gentleman, glowing with rapture, to 
Lady Hautenbas' abode. Miss Fanshawe's aunt had 
gone for an airing, and had been advised by her niece 
to take the opportunity of returning some visits in the 
country, the day being fine, and the roads in good con- 
dition. Lillian, therefore, had the field to herself ; and 
at the end of an hour's conference everything was 
discussed and settled between Mr Glascott and his 
betrothed wife. 

" To think, my dear," said he, " that after these long- 
years of unwedded life, I should meet my fate with 
one who is the exact counterpart of the woman who 
was the love of my early days. It is wonderfully 
strange ! When I look upon you, all my youth, all 
my first fresh feelings, return in redoubled force. 



270 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Happiness has come to me whilst I have been 
sleeping." 

"I hope so," she answered; "may it ever remain 
with you. It will be my utmost endeavour to make 
your home happy, — to prove myself in every way 
worthy of the choice you have made." 

Mr Glascott pressed her hands within his own, 
and then, bending low, imprinted a kiss on her head. 
This, in his devotion and timid respect, was all he 
ventured to do. 

" I dread one thing," he said, after a pause ; " your 
parents will take exception to my age." 

"No," she said; "I am years older than my own 
age, and they both know that. Better too for you 
that it is so. It is a mistake to measure the portion 
of life by the stiff hard measure of the number of 
moons that have passed over us. I feel sure that 
my proper position in this world is that of the wife 
of an elderly man." 

Was she sincere in what she then said ?— was it not 
rather that her wifehood would screen her from the 
passion for Francis Clavering, which was burnt into 
every fibre of her being ? 

Did she not bestow herself upon the man before 
her from the conviction that, by so doing, she was 
securing more opportunity and more freedom for 
intercourse with this dangerous friend than she 
could with any propriety achieve did she remain 
single ? and would not Mr Clavering, on his part, 
gladly assent to her marriage with his cousin as the 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 271 

best method of cementing family affection, and adding 
social status to the head of the house ? 

Ah, yes; Brydone, by her means, should be the 
happy harbour of refuge — the place whereto Francis 
should repair when, perchance, he might be over- 
wrought in brain, and be glad of intellectual help. 

She included Mary in a second-hand kind of way in 
these ruminations ; of Willina she never even thought. 

But Mr Glascott had not, in spite of his happiness, 
been thus forgetful ; and the difference which his un- 
expectedly entering into matrimony might make to 
Miss Clavering certainly caused him some anxiety, 
and, if the truth must be told, some reproach also. 

He had all his life shown a great preference for 
Francis. The young man's talent, his ambition, and 
the fixed intention which he expressed to make a 
name in the world, took his guardian by storm, as 
it were ; and thus, undesignedly, Mr Glascott came to 
regard him as the one to whom all must be ceded, and 
to whom every consideration must be allowed. He 
loved Willina, but it was in a totally different manner. 
In the brother he felt pride ; with the sister, he could 
not forget that she was of the sex that had deceived 
him, and laid his life desolate. 

As years passed on this feeling somewhat changed. 
When Willina emerged from the Brussels convent at 
which she had been educated — beautiful, frank, and 
as truthful as the light of day — Everard Glascott 
began to wonder why he had not more greatly ap- 
preciated his charming cousin ; and on giving this 



272 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

matter serious consideration, he had resolved, after 
providing for Francis, to make her mistress of his 
house, and further, to dower her handsomely when 
the time should come for her to leave him for a 
husband's home. 

At the same time, it never occurred to him to think 
that she would do other than make a good marriage ; 
still less could he imagine that he himself would ever 
seek to be taken in the toils of matrimony. Strange, 
too, that finding himself, late in life, in the position of 
a wooer, he should be told that the only objection to 
his suit lay in the presence of Willina Clavering as 
an inmate of his house ! 

This objection being now cleared away, and the 
reason of its existence being alleged by Miss Fanshawe 
to have greatly arisen from a feeling of delicacy in 
ousting Mr Glascott's ward from her position, together 
with some fear of that young lady's resentment, all, 
it was to be hoped, would go on propitiously for the 
future. 

Mr Glascott undertook to answer for Miss Cover- 
ing's ready acquiescence in his marriage scheme. She 
was so generous, so keenly sensible to all in which his 
happiness was concerned, that opposition on her part 
was scarcely possible, Thus he spoke. 

The betrothed soon parted. Their adieux were cor- 
dial, but neither of them evinced any great demonstra- 
tion of affection. This arose on Mr Glascott's part 
from a nervous fear of being prompted to act as a 
younger man would have acted, and by so doing lose 



IT IS THE UNEXPECTED THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. 273 

in dignity in the eyes of his betrothed. In spite of 
his enchantment, he maintained some regard for the 
fitness of things. 

Lillian looked magnificent, as her wooer kissed her 
hand and uttered his thanks. " How fortunate I 
am !" said she to herself. " Mr Clavering will now 
find in reality a second home at Brydone. Write 
to my father," she said aloud; "you must ask his 
consent, but it's only a matter of form." 



VOL. II. 



274 



CHAPTER XIII. 

BRYDONE. 

At length Mr Glascott, after much locomotion and 
sundry delays, convened his guests, and found himself 
installed in a permanent home under the roof of a 
habitation which had been more or less tenanted by 
successive generations of his family. It was here that 
he had intended, in the first blush of his youthful 
hopes, to bring his bride, rejoicing, if the truth must 
be told, that the intervening ocean would be a most 
successful element in separating her from her mother, 
and would, at all events, secure that retirement which, 
to some persons, is indispensable to the comfort of 
newly married life. 

We know that these hopes were frustrated ; but if 
all things come to those who wait, Everard Glascott, 
with the prospects now opening before him, believed 
perhaps that fortune had favoured him with the kind- 
liest sympathy ; for was not the bride who was coming 
to adorn that home a perfect resemblance of his first 
fair love, and had she not been given to him out of 



BRYDONE. 275 

the hand of the man who at one time had been his 
successful rival, nay, his foe ? 

It was strange, passing strange ; but does not history 
repeat itself in the small ring as surely as in the large 
circle ? "What is there new beneath the sun ? 

It was a peculiar-looking place this seaside home of 
Brydone — unpicturesque in itself, but largely indebted 
to its surroundings for many features of interest, which 
seemed to increase in fascination as the eye dwelt 
'upon them. The reason of this may be, that the 
whole region was so utterly different from the conven- 
tional style of watering-place — combining as it did 
the wild beauty of the Claddagh with the barren 
appearance of the ancient Norman farm - dwelling, 
with its bare stones, unclothed by ivy or trailing brier, 
its cottars' homes, little else than stone hovels, com- 
fortless and cold. The redeeming points in this part 
of the scene were the bright slate-blue hydrangeas, 
which everywhere grew in great perfection, together 
with the orange-umber tints which dotted portions of 
the undulating ground. These imparted a glow of 
warmth, and were in highly artistic keeping with the 
blue colour of the flowering-shrubs. 

The house belonging to Mr Glascott had no par- 
ticular history : it had served as a refuge in far-away 
times to the fallen fortunes of a family long extinct, 
the members of which had fought for Charles I. 
with stanch fidelity, and had met with — the usual 
reward when that monarch's son came to his own. 
How it afterwards came into the possession of those 



276 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

bearing his name, Mr Glascott was utterly ignorant, 
nor did he apparently seek information on the matter. 
That it had descended honestly from father to son, 
or from uncle to nephew, he was thoroughly convinced. 
He liked the place, and his easy fortune would make 
it available as a comfortable home for his declining- 
years. 

The peculiarity of the building lent it some charm. 
White stone or red brick would have been somehow 
out of place, or positively glaring, in juxtaposition 
with other points of colour ; hence its composition of 
grey small stones did credit to the taste of the builder, 
or perhaps to the circumstance that no other material 
was at hand at the time of its erection. 

These stones were cemented with a composition of 
sea-shell lime, coarse gravel, and a proportion of the 
Melobesia polymoiyha, a coralline which grows pro- 
fusely on the submarine rocks about the whole of 
the Channel Islands. 

St Columba knew the value of this coralline. It 
is said that he caused the cement of which it forms a 
large component part to be employed in welding 
together the stones of the Abbey of Iona. 

Even under these conditions of its early erection, 
Brydone could not pretend to approach the appearance 
of an abbey, nor even to that of a manor-house. It 
probably had been a yeoman's dwelling at the outset ; 
subsequently, and at various periods, enlarged and 
added to, according to the taste or convenience of the 
inhabitants of the time. It was remarkably long and 



BRYDOXE. 277 

wide in construction, and possibly its only virtue 
consisted in the thickness of its walls, and the deep 
embrasures which gave an ancient picturesque appear- 
ance to the diamond-paned windows which were set 
within them. A handsome terrace (an addition of 
modern times) ran round three sides of the house, and 
the ground beyond undulated downwards till it joined 
the rocks and the sea. 

Willina Clavering was delighted ; there was so much 
to be done in addition to what had already been done, 
so much of that life which a woman only can bring 
into any dwelling, to diffuse in every form, to per- 
meate, and make the presence of that life to be felt. 
It was the acme of the young girl's hope — her guar- 
dian with a settled home of his own, and she the mis- 
tress, dispensing his hospitality, his charity, and all 
the incidental kindnesses which now from a good 
man's heart, and which become doubly blessed when 
there is a true, good woman to guide their course. 

Francis Clavering and his bride came alone. It 
was thought the kinder thing on the part of their 
hosts that, under the burden of her sorrow, Mary's 
visit should be at first as private as possible, and 
unfettered by the presence of other guests. This 
suited admirably. The two young ladies were daily 
drawn together, becoming steadily affectionate from 
the appreciation of each other's worth ; and the occu- 
pation which each day, in some shape or other, de- 
manded, prevented time from lying heavily on their 
hands. 



278 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Much to the surprise of his wife, Frank, who really 
knew very little of this residence of Brydone — nothing 
beyond the sea-bathing trips of his holiday times, in 
fact — began to express himself delighted with the 
place, and to avow that, as a geological hunting- 
ground, the island of Jersey had hitherto met with 
scant justice at the hands of savans, and the scientific 
world in general. 

" Have you made any great discovery, Frank ? " 
said Miss Clavering, as her brother promulgated this 
opinion. 

" I can scarcely say that I have hitherto made a 
great discovery. I have known all along that this 
island contains no fossils ; but my rambles of late 
convince me that Jersey possesses an abundance of 
a class of rock known as Old Ehyolites." 

" Old who ! " exclaimed both the girls in a breath. 

" Old Ehyolites," repeated Frank, in a tone which 
bordered on exasperation. " It is the name of a species 
of rock which is rare, very rare, in other parts of the 
globe. Well, if I had been asked six months ago, I 
could not have stated positively that I had ever met 
with more than a mere sample specimen of this variety 
of rock ; now, two miles hence, the geological wealth 
of this peculiar variety is simply amazing. I wonder 
it has escaped observation so long." 

" I think you told me that Jersey rocks belong to 
the Primary Formation," said Mrs Clavering, looking 
highly scientific. 

" Quite right," replied the husband and master, with 



BRYDONE. 279 

an air of patronage. " You know, of course, what 
Primary Formation means ? " 

" Hum ! — the first rock or land safe to sit upon after 
the flood, I suppose," answered Madam Mary. 

" Not exactly. The first dry land which was ever 
created is the Primary Formation," corrected Mr Cla- 
vering. " Now it is probable that Jersey had emerged 
out of the primeval waters long before England and 
France were known." 

" Why, where were they ? " 

" Still buried beneath the deep. They belong to the 
Secondary and Tertiary periods," said Mr Clavering. 

" Fancy England being secondary in any way ! Are 
there any more rocks with queer names about these 
parts ? " 

" If I were to say that, classified scientifically, there 
would be nearly a hundred varieties, I should not be 
beyond the mark ; but I suppose neither of you could 
discern the difference betwixt one variety and another." 

" I don't know," said Willina, slowly. " Yes, I think 
I could, if the difference were very striking. Could you 
classify, Mary ? " She turned to her sister, but Mrs 
Clavering had walked to the other end of the terrace, 
to exchange greetings with Willina's magnificent 
collie dog. 

" I do wish one of you could help me a little, Wil- 
lina, whilst I am here ; but I know this branch of 
science has no charms for either of you. Now, Miss 
Fanshawe " 

" Oh, for goodness' sake, don't mention Miss Fan- 



280 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

shawe ! " replied Miss Clavering, indiscreetly. " We 
have had quite enough of her at Hunter's Lodge, with 
her airs of superiority. You have quite spoiled her, 
Frank." 

" How — in what way ? " inquired Mr Clavering, a 
bright spot on his cheek and a spasm in his voice, 

"Why, by always deferring to her opinion, and 
asking her advice, and giving her your classification 
work. She looks down upon Mary and me as two 
females, and nothing more. Oh, I am so thankful she 
is not here ! " 

Francis hesitated a moment, and then expressed his 
surprise that Miss Fanshawe did not seem to be invited 
amongst the guests who were coming later on. 

" Cousin Everard did say something about it ; but I 
proposed that Clara Leppell should be asked instead. 
Poor girl, she has had a great shock, and really wants 
a change." 

" Um ! I take leave to say that it looks rather 
marked to omit Miss Fanshawe, my wife's early 
friend," replied Mr Clavering, lowering at his sister. 

" So it may," replied Willina ; " but the fact is, 
Frank, I don't admire Miss Fanshawe, with her cold 
reticent ways, so unlike a young girl. Besides, Cousin 
Everard has promised that I shall invite whom I 
please, and that all the honours of the house-warming 
are to be mine." 

" And you exclude my wife's particular friend, as a 
method of evincing your talent for hospitality," re- 
turned Frank, with something very like a sneer. 



BRYDONE. 281 

" You can put it that way if you choose/' returned 
Miss Clavering ; " but I will only just remark that in 
my opinion the lady in question cares far less for your 
wife than your wife cares for her. Mary is worth a 
hundred of her ! " 

Although Frank longed to contradict his sister, he 
could not well champion Miss Fanshawe at the expense 
of his own wife, and so he contented himself by saying, 
" Just like you women — you are all the same. If any 
one of your sex happens to combine brains with beauty, 
there's no end to the detraction she meets with. I 
thought you had more sense, Willina." 

" I do not wish to detract from any merits Miss 
Fanshawe may possess," replied Miss Clavering. " She 
is handsome, and she is clever ; but I do not like her. 
And I will go further, and say that my dislike is much 
of the nature of that avowed by the individual who 
failed to appreciate the late Dr Fell. I won't inflict 
the quotation upon you — it is as proverbial as a 
household word." 

" I know that," returned Francis, sharply. " In its 
way, the quotation is as inane a confession of idiocy 
as can well be imagined. I don't wonder that you 
spare both yourself and me on this point. Let me 
advise you, my dear girl ; if you really dislike any 
person, or even any thing, be logical enough to hold 
some reason, or, being a woman, some show of reason, 
for that dislike." 

Aggravated by the haut en has air of her brother, 
Willina retorted, more frankly perhaps than wisely, 



282 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" I have a very strong reason for disliking Miss Fan- 
shawe — and, moreover, it grows and grows. If I can 
help it, she shall never set foot here." 

" That is strong language," Mr Clavering replied, 
and then he fixed a searching look on his sister. 

What could she mean ? Had she divined that his 
own relations with Miss Fanshawe were somewhat 
exclusive, and his attentions to that lady rather 
marked, especially in his position as a newly married 
man ? Could it be — and Francis hoped it could be — 
merely that unreasoning, undefinable antipathy which, 
like a marsh fog, obliterates all sense of discernment, 
or at best presents all objects, foul or fair, in an ut- 
terly distorted focus both from the mental and the 
physical point of view ? 

Francis knew well enough that Willina's nature 
was too proud for jealousy — that is, for jealousy of 
one who was nothing other than a woman, and a 
woman, moreover, who did not come between her- 
self and any object of affection. 

So he dismissed this fancy ; and not trusting 
to make more direct inquiry, he intensified his look, 
and stood as if in expectation of a ready answer. 

Now was Willina's turn for vacillation. She had 
her strong reason, verily ; it emanated from a source 
to which she was indebted solely to her feminine 
sagacity for discovery, but she stood alone, as yet, 
with her reason. 

The time was not come when she could venture to 
say to her brother, " Our guardian is desperately 



BRYDONE. 283 

enamoured of Lillian Fanshawe ; for that cause I 
cannot brook her presence here." 

But she gave him a reply which was neither doubt- 
ful nor ambiguous. " Were I to speak frankly," she 
said, " I should only render you very uncomfortable, 
and perhaps very angry also. I am not going to make 
any further explanation, so rest content with the 
assurance that Miss Fanshawe dislikes me even more 
heartily than I dislike her. She has very good cause 
to do so ; and if you question this statement, she will, 
if she choose — although a woman — furnish you with 
a very excellent reason for her state of mind." 

Mr Clavering stood aghast. However, his sister's 
concluding piece of information was, on the whole, 
consolatory. It was evident that something personal, 
and not his own Platonic attentions to Miss Fanshawe, 
was the active agent which influenced Willina's deter- 
mination to exclude that young lady from the hospi- 
talities of Brydone. 

However, when standing on ticklish ground it is 
prudent to be quiescent, and so Francis contented 
himself by remarking that he would trust to time for 
revealing this mystery : in the interim, he felt sure 
that his guardian would know what was the proper 
thin" to do. 

Full well Miss Clavering knew this also. Was it 
not on account of the delicate relations which sub- 
sisted between Miss Fanshawe and Cousin Everard 
that the latter had so readily fallen in with the sug- 
gestion that it would be more advisable to* invite Clara 



284 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

Leppell to Brydone than Lillian Fanshawe ! " If there 
be any understanding between them/' Miss Clavering 
argued to herself, " it certainly would not be the thing 
to invite Miss Fanshawe here. Cousin Everard is a 
great stickler for the proprieties, I know." 

" You spoke of Clara coming here shortly," said 
Frank ; " how on earth is she to travel ? She surely 
cannot make so long a journey by herself ? " 

" That, I think, is nearly arranged," returned 
Willina. " Mr Glascott, as you know, was in London 
for three days last week — is it not fortunate that he 
never suffers from the sea ? — well, he fell in with Mr 
or Mrs Braintree. It seems they are thinking of 
coming to Jersey for a sea change, and so Cousin 
Everard proposed that they should communicate with 
the Leppells, and bring Clara with them here." 

" They are never going to stay here, — the Brain- 
trees ? They are very well in their way, but I don't 
fancy them as inmates." 

" Don't be alarmed ; Mrs Braintree has secured 
rooms at that hotel near Bowley Bay. They will be 
here, of course, now and then as visitors," returned 
Miss Clavering. " If Mrs Braintree would only not 
carry such an atmosphere of Canon's wife about with 
her, I should like her better ; but still she is far 
superior to the average run of the dignified clergy- 
woman, inasmuch as she is perfectly free from their 
airs and nonsense." 

" True. What other people have you — to stay in 
the house, I mean ? " 



BRYDONE. 285 

" Some old Guernsey friends — the De Saumarez and 
a Mr De Brett, — you must remember the families, — 
and, by the way, one of the La Touches." 

" Not that dreadful little cad that was with 
his aunt at our wedding ? " exclaimed Francis, in 
horror. 

" No, the brother — the one you met at Pinnacles." 

" Oh, he's a nice fellow — that's all right. He ought 
to have been at our wedding, I believe ; but there was 
some bungle about his invitation, Mary heard — in 
fact, nobody seemed to know whether he had been 
written to or not." 

" Poor Mrs Leppell fancied she had written to Mr 
Stephen La Touche ; but it appears she omitted to do 
so. The Colonel and Cousin Everard put it all right, 
and Mr Glascott gave him a general invitation to 
come here whenever it might please him to do so," 
answered Miss Clavering. 

" I am glad he will be here ; it will be somebody 
with whom I can converse," avowed Mr Clavering. 
" Stephen La Touche knows a little about geology, 
and he will, I daresay, be glad of a scientific com- 
panion in his walks about the island." 

" Do not reckon upon him too surely," replied Miss 
Clavering, piqued, in spite of herself, at her brother's 
cool proposition of making a convenience of Mr La 
Touche. " I don't think Mr La Touche will be a visitor 
in the house, although Cousin Everard has invited 
him to stay here during his vacation." 

" Why does La Touche not come, then ? " 



286 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

" Because he has a reading pupil with whom he is 
engaged to make a short tour, and " 

" Who's the pupil ? " inquired Mr Clavering. 

"A son of General Willoughby. This young man's 
reading has been arrested on account of ill-health. 
The Channel Islands have been recommended to him 
for their climate. Under these circumstances, you 
see, Mr La Touche could not make any arrangements, 
as Mr "Willoughby might elect to reside at Guernsey 
or Sark." 

" But they are coming here, you say ? " 

" Cousin Everard believes that they will try Jersey 
first, and from here make excursions to the neigh- 
bouring islands," said Willina. 

" Oh ! I should think they will stay at Bowley Bay. 
There's plenty of accommodation about that part, and 
I daresay this young Willoughby will be pleased to 
come here with La Touche for a few days," replied 
Mr Clavering. 

" Very likely. Cousin Everard thought he had 
better see what Mr Willoughby was like before send- 
ing him an invitation to stay with us." 

" Quite right ; an invalid would be an awful nui- 
sance, and sick lads are worse than women," Erancis 
declared. " Well, so as I can get hold of La Touche 
for some long walks and some exploration work, I 
shall be quite content." 

" I daresay the pupil will turn out to be a very 
great acquisition to us all," said Miss Clavering, 
decidedly. She was exasperated by the cool selfish- 



BRYDONE. 287 

ness of her brother, and had no other way of reliev- 
ing her feelings but by direct contradiction. 

" Let us hope so," returned Mr Clavering, without 
noticing his sister's tone ; " in that case he can accom- 
pany us in our expeditions, and obtain some further 
information on geology. Where on earth has Mary 
got to ? Holloa ! Moll, just leave off philandering 
with that dog a moment; I want you." 

Miss Clavering here seized the opportunity to take 
herself out of the way ; the collie dog was disgusted 
because his term of petting had come to an end. 
Frank Clavering did not like dogs, and, what was 
worse, no dog ever seemed to care to approach him. 
Sir Walter Scott was not far wrong when he pro- 
mulgated the caution, " Beware of the man or woman 
whom a dog thoroughly distrusts. At the best, it is a 
bad sign of the individual." 

During the following week Mr G-lascott's guests 
arrived by twos and threes. Mrs Braintree brought 
her husband and Clara Leppell, and had taken very 
good care of both of them. Sarah Braintree was not 
with her parents, being then on a visit in one of the 
northern counties. 

Mr La Touche and his pupil also arrived in due 
course ; and it is satisfactory to state that Mr Claver- 
ing was agreeably disappointed in Mr Willoughby, 
the latter turning out to be a fine gentlemanly lad, 
fond of boating and of roving over land, and posses- 
sing a highly developed proclivity towards geological 
research. He had a cough, and he had somewhat 



288 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

overgrown his strength ; but, to use his own expres- 
sion, " he was safe to be all right jolly soon now ; and 
what a thing it was to get some wrinkles in geology 
from that scientific swell, Mr Clavering ! " 

The two gentlemen put up at the same hotel as the 
Braintrees, and on the day following their arrival the 
hotel party went together to lunch at Brydone. The 
general conversation naturally turned upon the ex- 
periences of the sea. 

" I think nothing of the crossing between South- 
ampton and the islands," Mr Glascott had averred. 
" It may be a little rough near the ' Caskets ' ; but, 
dear me ! that is soon over. I cannot understand 
people being so afflicted by sea-sickness as so many 
are." 

" If you only knew what agony it is, Cousin Everard," 
said Miss Clavering, " you would not require much ex- 
planation. What do you say, Mr Willoughby ? " 

" Bather ; and I must add my opinion that the 
crowning aggravation of a night of suffering cul- 
minates in the landing at this island." 

" I quite agree with you," interposed Mrs Braintree ; 
" the landing was nearly the death of the Canon — the 
pier such a height, and the ascending steps so narrow 
and slippery." 

"Yes," confirmed Stephen La Touche, "and the 
whole population seems to think it its duty to fringe 
the summit, and gloat over the woe-begone aspect of 
the unhappy victims compelled to mount the preci- 
pice. Twelve o'clock in the day, moreover, the time 



BRYDONE. 289 

for this exhibition, and no one looking their best 
under the circumstances." 

" Two human fiends," said Mr Willoughby, " seemed 
to appreciate the situation most completely, and were, 
in consequence, good enough to remark unfavourably 
upon my complexion as I arrived on the brink. I 
believe I am indebted for preserving my equilibrium 
to a harpist who was immediately behind me in 
the file of passengers, and who was good enough to 
prod the feet of his instrument into the small of my 
back." 

" That was adding insult to injury," laughed Wil- 
lina. " The man saw how powerless you were, and so 
made you bear part of his burden without the cere- 
mony of asking leave. Still, I do wonder that nobody 
has ever been blown off the cliff in ascending to the 
pier." 

" So do I : my own manner of progression, though 
not pleasant, certainly steadied the ascent," said Mr 
Willoughby. 

The days that came and went at that time were 
very pleasant, and Mr Willoughby proved to be one 
of the most accommodating of pupils, inasmuch as he 
constantly left his own legitimate bear-leader (as he 
styled Mr La Touche) to take long walks, and go 
about tapping and hammering the rocks in the sole 
company of Mr Clavering. 

The latter was delighted with his new recruit. " As 
to La Touche," he said, " never was a fellow so changed ; 
doesn't seem to care to improve his opportunities, — 

VOL. II. T 



290 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

seems to prefer dawdling among the rocks with my 
wife and my sister; sea-air certainly contributes to 
make some people very lazy." 

" I fancy they are making a collection of sea-weeds," 
Mr Willoughby replied, in answer to Mr Clavering's 
observations. " They brought in some splendid speci- 
mens yesterday; Mr De Brett knows where all the 
rare kinds are to be found." 

Certainly few places exist in the wide world 
which borders the ocean where algologists can more 
fully satisfy their craving for the rare and the lovely 
in sea -weeds and marine botany than the Channel 
Islands. 

In the immediate neighbourhood of Brydone was to 
be found the jagged Ehodymenia, lifting its crimson 
head heavy with the wash of the deep sea — for it is 
rarely to be found within tide-mark — together with 
the elegant Cladophora, the tufts of which are deli- 
cately dyed with the glaucous hue peculiar to the 
British Isles. Nor must be forgotten that wandering 
star of the sea — that peculiar sea-weed which floats 
from afar, and which bears the sweet wild name of 
Dasya. 

Whence does it come ? whither does it go ? No 
one can tell ; but in the vast dominion of the ocean, 
in the most unexpected places, and at the most un- 
expected seasons, the Dasya silently floats along, an 
alien from its species, but bearing an unmistakable 
individuality of its own. 

It is a beautiful fancy among the natives of Spanish 



BRYDONE. 291 

Honduras that the Dasya was a sea-nymph, who, for 
always quarrelling with her companions, had, as a 
punishment, been changed into sea-weed and banished 
from her kind, and compelled to wander on the sur- 
face of the deep, ever fresh and ever young, until 
that time when the sea shall be no more. Thus it is 
that the Dasya may be met with in almost all known 
latitudes, according to this old legend of the mariners 
of the Spanish main. 

Among other enjoyments of the party assembled at 
Brydone were frequent picnics, and the bright lovely 
weather enabled them to go long distances, and, in 
some cases, to remain two or three nights from home. 
Thus they introduced themselves to the beautiful 
island of Sark, a little nook all ups and downs, with 
its hedges covered with honeysuckle, and its face il- 
luminated with a perpetual sunshiny smile, as if in 
derision at the possibility of a railroad being intro- 
duced within its bounds. 

They quartered themselves also upon the hospitable 
owner of the island of Herm, the bay of which is 
famous for its beach, milk-white with the millions of 
shells, infinitesimal in size, which time has pounded 
into a thick mass, forming a solid and by no means 
unpleasant footway at low tide, and presenting a 
beautiful line of contrasting colour when viewed from 
the sea. 

" But we must not forget an expedition nearer home," 
said Mr Glascott, one morning, when the routine of 
the day was under discussion. " Suppose we walk over 



292 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

to St Oswin's and see the lovely old ruined church 
there. We can lunch early and return comfortably 
to dinner." 

" I should think Canon Braintree could manage 
that," said young Willoughby, who had strolled up to 
Brydone from the hotel. " He is a nice old gentleman, 
and I'll give him an arm. Do you know, I did not 
like Mrs Braintree at first ; but now I see more of her, 
I am inclined to change my opinion. She is rather 
managing in manner, but I feel sure she is very kind- 
hearted." 

Some few assented to this, but Willina Clavering 
was silent. Had she not overheard Mrs Braintree 
praising up Miss Fanshawe in the most emphatic 
manner to Mr Glascott only the evening before ? 

" These parsons' wives are as worldly as their neigh- 
bours," Willina said to herself, in her haste. " Mrs 
Braintree wants to serve her cloth, and I daresay she 
thinks it a Christian duty to provide for a clergyman's 
daughter. Perhaps it is ; but I hope she will carry 
her charity further, and refrain from turning me out 
of Brydone till I have a home of my own." 

Miss Clavering was partly right and partly wrong 
in this reflection. Mrs Braintree certainly wished to 
serve Miss Fanshawe, but she was equally anxious to 
further Miss Clavering's prospects, and for this reason 
the Canon's wife "played gooseberry," and enacted 
" deaf adder " in the interests of her hostess and Mr 
Stephen La Touche with the most persevering as- 
siduity. Mrs Braintree had made her own discoveries ; 



BRYDONE. 293 

but, like a sensible woman, she did not spoil sport by 
making indiscreet remarks, or by appearing to see and 
know what she was not intended to see and know. 

It would be well for the comfort of society at large 
if Mrs Braintree were more universally imitated in 
this particular. Many a growing affection is nipped 
in the bud through the indiscretion of some of society's 
idiots, who are lacking in savoir taire as well as in 
savoir /aire. 

The day is winsome, and Miss Clavering wisely 
determines to enjoy it and put Lillian Fanshawe out 
of her mind. Is it not her duty to make all things as 
alluring to the owner of Brydone as possible ? And 
so the guests assembled without trouble to Mr Glascott, 
and they set out by the land route towards the fisher 
village of St Oswin. 

The church dedicated to St Oswin was a small 
edifice, built on a cliff nearly overhanging the sea- 
shore. So low was the cliff, that at the times of very 
high tide the little church and its encircling sea-wall 
often appeared to be entirely surrounded by the 
waves. 

Huge gaps were apparent in the whole structure of 
the building, black, jagged, and hoary. Some ivy 
clung to the tottering, crumbling walls, which seemed 
to drag down the whole edifice, until it bade fair to 
fall into the midst of the masses of fern with which 
the burial-ground was literally choked. 

A noble pall would be this wealth of the fern 
Osmunda Boyal, — that queenly fairy cryptogam, 



294 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

which adheres so persistently to the place of its birth 
that it frequently refuses to exist when carried beyond 
the reach of the particles of ocean spray from which it 
draws its strength and its life. 

Here, over and around, and through the cracks of the 
dilapidated wall, which by a few yards only separated 
the churchyard from the sea-line, this splendid fern 
protruded itself in every stage of beauty — now bowing 
its stately head seaward, as if in waiting for the spray, 
anon waving and tossing itself backwards in all the 
ineffable glory of the light. 

The graves of poor humanity, which time and forget- 
fulness had alike pressed deeply into the mould, were 
thus sprinkled by showers of water diamonds ; whilst 
the soft mantle of mother-earth heaped its rich texture 
and warm colour alike upon the nothingness of the 
dead, and the root and stem of the moving, living 
frond. 

Here was the repetition of the old story, life in 
death and death in life ! In all parts and places of 
the earth time chants the same requiem, and faithful 
nature mutely rehearses the strain. 

The ivy of the northern clime, and the rich parasite 
vine of some of the islands of the tropical seas, both 
thrive, and eventually bring destruction, upon the 
temples raised by man. 

The latter, as it grows and acquires strength, inserts 
its tendrils till they penetrate the fibres of the stone, 
and thus imperceptibly grinds its way, till, in course 
of time, the masonry has crumbled to dust, and leaves 



BRYDONE. 295 

nothing but masses of bright foliage and trailing 
spandrils, raising themselves in tiers of coronals, and 
playing with the sunbeams upon the decay and ruin 
beneath them. The ivy, though it in a measure pro- 
tects the stone, at the same time fosters damp, which 
permeates and turns to mould, and in the end is a 
most active agent in the destruction of what it was 
first planted to preserve. Life in death, and death in 
life! 

Curiously enough, this little church, fast crumbling 
to decay, held within its walls, deep in the interior of 
the earth, a tiny chapel. This chapel was supported 
by two elaborately carved pillars, and all the subjects 
of the handicraft were figures allegorical of mourning 
and death. 

The altar, stripped long, long ago of its original 
adornments, was plain in construction, and, owing 
probably to its being of marble, its solidity was very 
slightly impaired by time and neglect. There were 
also the remains of a very curious bronze lamp, highly 
wrought, and inlaid with delicate lines of beaten gold. 
This had evidently been surmounted by figurative 
ornaments, there being signs of chasing rudely torn 
away, to be carried off doubtlessly by the ruthless 
hand of devastation. The brown dust, thick, and 
made frowsy by the adhesive sticky strands of the 
spider's web, threw the pall of disuse over it, and over 
all around. 

Many groups of red fungi were scattered in irregular 
patches upon the broken steps of the altar : it would 



296 THE FAT OF THE LAND. 

almost seem as if the tears of those who had last wept 
there had turned to specks of blood. Who can tell ? 

There are living souls — God knows ! — whose tears, 
falling from the eyes, are but the spray of the waters 
of agony which lie deep in the red caverns of the 
heart's life-blood. 

We are well assured, in treating of those who have 
already passed out of life, that the majority of them 
have, at some time or other of their existence, drunk 
deep of the bitter waters of sorrow : let us then touch 
very kindly and very reverently on the sufferings of 
the dead. 

A tomb stood in a corner : its size was so large that 
it filled more than half of the chapel. It was raised 
on three stone steps, but bore no inscription save the 
date a.d. 1470, and the single word, " Misericordia." 
This was cut on a lozenge pendant, on the slab which 
formed the eastern side of the tomb. 

The Latin cross surmounted the whole, and seemed 
to appeal, in the name of the dear Christ of sorrow, to 
the sympathies of the living, in remembrance of, per- 
chance, the broken heart that was at rest beneath it. 

This chapel and tomb had been built up for a length 
of years by a wall of mud and sand. The flight of 
steps which had led down to it had been concealed by 
masonry, and there is no knowing how long, and for 
what purpose, this underground sanctuary had been 
shut off from the ken of man. No outlet from the 
place existed ; and it had been at length assumed that 
the tomb was the sepulchre of the founder, who, being 



BRYDONE. 297 

perhaps the last of his race, had desired to lie buried 
deep beneath the walls which his generosity had 
reared, and so pass away from human remembrance. 
An accident, some thirty years previous to the visit of 
the Brydone party, had revealed this underground 
chapel. 

They were all examining the place with the great- 
est interest, and Mr Clavering had already begun to 
sketch the only window, which was a perfect Gothic 
in form, and high up in the wall, when the visitors 
were startled by the loud slamming of the outer door 
of the church. This was immediately followed by the 
sound of steps running round outside the building. 
The upper panes of the window were just on a level 
with the path, and Frank clearly descried feet and the 
heavy boots of wayfaring men as the sound passed by. 
At the same time the old fisherman who attended with 
the keys exclaimed — 

" By golly ! Mr Glascott, sir — those two beggar chaps 
that we met have followed us here, and have shut 
us in ! " 

" But, Dobree, you surely never left the keys in the 
porch-door ? " 

" I did, sir ; and here we are for many hours, sure ! " 



END OF THE SECOND VOLUME. 



PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS. 



UNI VER9ITY OF ILLINOI9-URBANA 





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