-LI B RAHY
U N IVLRSITY
OF ILLI NOIS
THE FAT OF THE LAND
M A E Y L E S T E E
AUTHOR OF ' A LADY'S RIDE ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS '
IN THREE VOLUMES
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
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.
" 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
" 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
" 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
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-
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 ! 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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
" 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
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
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
Has she hope that any but Mary Leppell will feel
her absence, or wonder if she would like to be among
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-
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
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
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
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-
"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
" 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
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 !
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
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
" 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
"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
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
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
" Very kind of your father," said the rector ; " will
" 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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
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-
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-
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."
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
" I suppose there will be some devilled kidneys,"
returned the sister. " Papa and the young La Touche
" Yes ; but this old one won't touch them unless
they are cooked as splendidly as he gets them done at
Percival winced at the estimation of his age : at
the moment he forgot that the speaker numbered but
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
" 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-
" 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
" 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-
"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
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
" 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
" 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-
" 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-
(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
" 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-
"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-
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.
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.
Emma Fanshawe was right. Mr La Touche entered
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
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
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
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
" Ah, yes, to be sure ; you put us all right," said
the young man, turning towards Lillian with a smile
of genuine approbation.
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
" 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
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
" 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
"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
" It is quite a different thing," replied that gentle-
man. "Never mind about the pamphlet — I can do
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-
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
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
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
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
""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
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
"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
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
" 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
"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 ? "
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
"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
"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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
" 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
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-
" 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
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
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
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
" 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
* 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
" 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-
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
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.
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
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
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
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
' 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
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
" 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
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
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
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-
"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
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-
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
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
" 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
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-
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
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
" 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-
" 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
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
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-
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
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
"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-
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
" 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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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-
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-
" 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
"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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
"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
" 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
" 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
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
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
.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
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
" 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,
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
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
" 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-
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."
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
" 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
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
" 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
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
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
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
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
" 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-
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
" No ; I don't like, and I won't be bothered. Clara
can answer the note, and just you send Rifles here at
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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.
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
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
" 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
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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
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 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
The result of his cogitations was, that he now saw
his way to returning some of Mr Glascott's good offices
What should prevent him from using his influence
to promote a match between Mr Glascott and Lillian
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-
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
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
" 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
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
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
" 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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
"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
' 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
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-
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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.
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
"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
" 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
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
" 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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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-
" 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
" My dear, he made her his almoner," interrupted
" 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
" 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-
" Then," returned Lillian, " we should have been
but parish clergy ; now, at the Court we are county
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
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-
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-
"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
" She will most likely marry soon, and well," said
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
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
" 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
" And he never thought of the difference this would
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-
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
" 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
"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
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
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."
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
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-
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
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
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
" 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
" Quite right," replied the husband and master, with
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
" 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
" 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,
" 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
" 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.
" 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
" 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
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 ? "
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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-
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
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
" 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
"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
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
" 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
" So do I : my own manner of progression, though
not pleasant, certainly steadied the ascent," said Mr
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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-
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 ;
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
3 0112 049092197