L I E> R.ARY
U N IVLRSITY
or ILLI NOIS
THE FAT OF THE LAND
THE FAT OF THE LAND
AUTHOR OF ' A LADY'S RIDE ACROSS SPANISH HONDURAS '
IN THREE VOLUMES
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
EDINBURGH AND LONDON
CONTENTS OF THE THIRD VOLUME.
I. CLOSE PRISON, ...... 1
II. DELIVERANCE, ...... 25
III. POT-POURRI, ...... 47
IV. STEPHEN AND WILLINA, ..... 69
V. FATHER AND SONS, ..... 92
VI. SHARP WORK, ...... 117
VII. A FURNISHED HOUSE LET, . . . .139
VIII. "VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES d'aMOUR," 160
IX. A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS, .... 192
X. THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT, .... 218
XI. DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE, .... 243
XIL A STEP 'tWIXT LIFE AND DEATH, . . . 262
XIII. THE JOY OP THE MORNING, .... 286
XIV. AN OLD man's REVENGE, .... 308
THE FAT OF THE LAND.
It did not take the party many minutes to convince
themselves of the truth of Dobree's assertion. The
porch door was found on examination to be fast
locked, and, worse still, the key had evidently been
The presumption held more than ever that the
beggar-men had either in frolic or from spite played
this uncomfortable trick upon the visitors. Mr
Clavering's testimony that the copper he had given to
one of them in answer to his appeal for relief had
been thrown contemptuously on the ground, served to
strengthen the opinion that ill-feeling, rather than
frolic, had prompted the men to behave in this
manner. Mr Clavering further declared that he had
remarked these persons dodging among the rocks for
VOL. III. A
2 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
some time, but tliey suddenly disappeared ; and his
mind being taken up with other matters, caused him
as quickly to forget all about them.
It must be allowed that the situation was embar-
rassing enough, the place being so lonely ; and though
there was no legend current which might deter timid
persons from passing St Oswin's Church at dusk, still
no one greatly cared to frequent that neighbourhood
at nightfall. At high tide it was really dangerous to
do so, as the water not unfrequently leapt over the
wall which bounded the churchyard, and entered by
the numerous crevices by which this was intersected ;
therefore wayfarers kept well inland, even in the day-
time, when passing St Oswin's in the season of high
The windows of this little edifice were small and of
lanceolated shape, and, for the sake of the rare old
stained glass which they contained, had been protected
from without by strong wire-netting. The church had,
on occasions, served as a temporary shelter for smug-
glers ; in consequence of this, the masonry round the
stout oak-door had been repaired, and a strong lock sup-
plied to the door itself. The stone seats on either side
of the porch were rendered, by these means, the only
accommodation that St Oswin had to offer to chance
visitors who might approach the church without the
attendance of its appointed guardian, Daniel Dobree.
" This beautiful day may perhaps induce some
artist or visitor to penetrate as far as St Oswin's,"
said Mr Glascott, in a cheery tone. "We can't be
CLOSE PKISOX. 3
detained very long, for your old woman will be mis-
sing you shortly — eh, Dobree ? "
" She would do that an' she were at home," respond-
ed the man ; " but her daughter's ailing a long time
now, and my missus has gone over t'other side of the
island looking after she — that's what my old woman's
about. There is a chance that neighbour Bonamy
may come along for a pipe with me ; that would be
nigh seven o'clock. We ahvays turn in for good at
"And it is not quite four o'clock now," said Mrs
Braintree,, looking at her watch. " Is it possible that
there is no way of getting out ? "
" No, ma'am ; you see the windows are wired to pre-
serve the stained glass, which is very rare, they say.
That's the Virgin Mary in a yellow bonnet, with a
large blue bow at the side," continued Dobree, falling
into his habit of guide-talk. " A Mr Goitt, who is an
epicure in stained glass, he had it done, and paid for
it too ; but no one could not get out at these
window^s, anyhow — too narrow in the build."
Then, as an inspiration struck him, Dobree con-
tinued, " Some of these gentlemen might scramble up
They did scramble up, and they did halloo, but all
to no purpose ; all the response was the low moaning
of the distant tide, now very near the turn.
" At any rate," Mr Clavering said, " if we do not
return by dinner-time the servants at Brydone will
become anxious, and send off to seek us."
4 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" They may do so," replied Mr Glascott ; " but they
will wait for an hour or two first. Does any one of
them distinctly understand where we were going, or
in what direction ? "
This question could not be answered very satisfac-
torily. Miss Clavering had ordered dinner for seven
o'clock early in the day, and had apprised the butler
that no one would be at home after luncheon, as
all were going for a very long walk. She had also
said that it was possible they might be a few minutes
late ; but she could not remember if she had men-
tioned the destination of the excursionists — she rather
thought that she had not done so.
Dobree here caught up the parable, and by way of
making things more comfortable, was good enough to
remind Mr Glascott that the moon would not be up
till past ten o'clock.
This information caused a renewal on all sides of
the attempt to get out. Mr Willoughby tried, by
main force, to wrench off the lock of the door ; Mr La
Touche, with the aid of Mr Clavering, again scrambled
up to the sill of a window and shouted lustily ; the
ladies ran hither and thither, seeking some hitherto
undiscovered outlet, but all in vain.
The means that had been taken to secure the build-
ing from outside invaders proved sufficiently effective
to prevent these visitors from issuing forth. Their
united efforts only produced an angry frightened
screech from a passing sea-bird, which flapped its
wings and flew round in circles, as if delighted to show
CLOSE PRISON. 5
fight. The disturbance of cobwebs and the fall of
mortar, with sundry weird sounds from crumbling
wood, intermingled with the crash of loosened tiles,
were the only results of a simultaneous determined
effort to break prison and get free.
Meanwhile the tide moaned in the far distance, and
the practised ear of Dobree discerned that it had
passed the point of its ebb and was now flowing land-
wards. He supplemented this information with the
prognostication that it would not much surprise him
if a furious storm were to arise a few hours later ; he
did not like the sound of the sea, he said, " and the
wind is "
" Like ourselves, in the wrong quarter," cut in Mr
La Touche, who was not going to allow the old fisher-
man to pile on the agony. " I really think we must
trust to being missed," he continued, turning to Mrs
Braintree. " I see there are one or two stone seats
let into the wall which are available for a resting-
place for you and Mr Braintree, and we must manage
something for the rest of the ladies."
The only other place was the worn steps of the"
altar — everything wooden had been cleared away.
Xothing could be more desolate, more saddening, than
the appearance of all around ; truly the glory had long
There was still plenty of light, and Mr Clavering,
philosophically accepting the inevitable, descended the
steps into the underground chapel, there to complete
his sketch. He felt sure that people from Brydone
6 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
would seek them eventually, and, in the meantime, he
would take advantage of the opportunity and faithfully
transmit to paper the salient points of this wonderful
subterranean building. His wife and sister flitted hither
and thither, and did their best to console Mrs Braintree,
who was naturally very solicitous about her husband.
Mr Glascott grew rapidly uneasy, and young Mr
Willoughby objurgated the " genus " tramp in language
which was far more forcible than decorous, and Mr
La Touche was not far behind him in the use of ex-
pletives. Meanwhile the tide, still distant, moaned
lugubriously, and, as the evening set in, with the de-
parture of the sun came a chill, which literally entered
to the marrow of the bones. Before it became quite
dark a dead set had again been made by the combined
masculine strength against the door, but all was futile.
The only hope of the prisoners lay in rescue from with-
out ; and, as Daniel Dobree took care to remind them,
they must not expect much aid until the moon had
" We shall see what my friend Bonamy will do,"
said Dobree to Mr Glascott ; " he may come along, and
he may not — all depends on the w^eather. It's arf a
mile he has got to cover, he has ; and when he do come,
he may miss me, in course, but he may not think of
looking for the great key. If he don't think of
" Well, what will he do ? "
" He'll go on to the ' Sea Mew,' thinking I may be
gone down there : if he don't find me, he'll just take a
CLOSE PRISON. 7
whiff and go back home. It all depends whether
Bonamy happens to miss the key : if he do, then he'll
come down here ; if he don't, well, he may think that
I have gone after the missus in a hurry, — at any rate,
he won't think of coming here."
This consolatory information was probably quite
correct, and it added very much to the disquietude
of the party, especially as Canon Braintree was evi-
dently suffering, and his wife was undergoing very
much greater anxiety on his account than on her
There was not so much as a greatcoat or a wrapping-
shawl among them, and contact with the cold hard
stones was not exactly fitting for a very elderly man
already in delicate health.
" Surely the servants at Brydone will take alarm,"
Mr La Touche remarked to Francis Clavering. " When
time goes on and we don't appear, they must think
that something is wrong."
" I don't know," Francis made answer ; " they may
imagine that we are all drowned, or, worse still, swal-
lowed up in a quicksand. There are a good many
quicksands about these parts, but they shift their
places continually. Nobody, however, ventures to ap-
proach St Oswin's by the cliffs even at low tide, as
the path is very dangerous in daylight as well as at
dusk. So, if the Brydone household once learn that
we were bound for this church, they will abandon all
speculation and come straight here by the inland
road. One comfort ; I have managed to complete my
8 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
sketch. What on earth is that ? " inquired Mr Claver-
ing, looking upwards.
Some heavy rain was now falling, and large drops
had begun to drip through a rent in the roof.
" Don't stand there, Mary," Mr Clavering said to his
wife, as the tiling upon which they stood was begin-
ning to be moistened. " You look as white as a sheet;
just keep out of the damp, will you, and don't make
matters worse by catching cold."
Mrs Clavering moved away ; but as the rain descended
more rapidly, it soon became impossible to find a dry
spot whereunto she might betake herself.
The exhortation to avoid taking cold was, under the
circumstances, somewhat superfluous — at least it a]D-
peared so to Mr La Touche, who was standing near.
The wind had become boisterous, and the hollow
moan of the sea had risen to a roar. Presently a flash
of lightning darted past, and a cloud, black as ink,
rolled over against the church : a severe thunder-storm
Dobree, who was delighted at the coming fulfilment
of his prediction, now counselled that the majority of
the party should descend the flight of steps which led
to the underground chapel. He suggested that they
should seat themselves upon the steps of the tomb,
whilst two of their number should watch above, ready
to respond to any sounds that might be suggestive of
This advice was good, as the rain was coming
through the shattered roof in showers, and the holes
CLOSE PRISON. 9
between the tilings of the ground-floor were thus con-
verted into standing receptacles for water. It was
miserable enough below ; but there they would be dry
and sheltered from the storm, and the judicious use
of some lucifer-matches, which the gentlemen hap-
pened to have brought for the convenience of smoking,
would occasionally light up the scene when utter
darkness should fall around.
" Then you think there is no chance of our being
rescued ? " said Francis Clavering to Dobree, as a
general move was made to go below.
"There's no use in shirking the matter, sir," was
the fisherman's reply ; " the storm's against us, and so
is the moon — we must trust to early morning now."
Frank was silent ; but he could not help blaming
his sister, in his heart, for not leaving word as to their
destination. Then he thought of Lillian Fanshawe;
how wisely she would have arranged matters ! She
would have foreseen probable storm and the possibil-
ity of danger by quicksand, and, at any rate, she would
never have left the house without apprising those in
charge of the direction of the expedition, mused Mr
Strange to say, very much the same kind of opinion
was floating through the mind of Mr Glascott. They
were but men after all, and they wanted their dinners ;
in this case it was opportune to have a feminine
human being to grumble at. Keeping Miss Fanshawe
in the background, each of these gentlemen expressed
both regret and surprise that Willina had not in-
10 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
formed Mr Willett, the butler, that they were going
to St Oswin's. " Girls are so heedless," avowed Miss
Clavering's brother, sharply.
" They be," responded Dobree ; " people should
never leave the homestead without leaving word
where they are a-going to, especially near the sea, —
it's a tempting of Providence, I call it." This speaker
wanted his tea.
"It is bad enough for us young people," Stephen
La Touche said, after he had guided Miss Clavering
down the broken and steep steps ; " but I am really
very apprehensive about Mr Braintree, poor old
gentleman : he has borne up most uncomplainingly,
but this must tell upon him."
" I am anxious about my guardian," Miss Clavering
said. " He sj)eaks cheerfully, and he won't give -in
an inch ; but I do wish I had told Willett distinctly
where we were going."
" Mr Glascott or some of us might have done so,"
was Stephen's reply ; " don't you trouble about that.
I don't care for myself, but I am concerned for the
ladies and the Canon. Oh, that I could get the thrash-
ing of those rascals who played us this scurvy trick !
I wonder what tempted them to behave in this ex-
traordinary manner ? It is very strange."
" I think," she replied, timidly, " it is rather my
brother's fault. These beggars asked for relief, and
though Frank gave them something, he spoke very
harshly, and I fear he threatened to commit them as
vagrants. I did not hear distinctly what he said, but
CLOSE PRISON. 11
he certaioly ordered them away in a very imperious
There was something so like a friendly confidence
in her tone, as this communication was made, that
Stephen quivered with delight ; but he only said —
" We were all wandering here and there, so that
I hardly saw these men. It seems they asked Mr
Glascott for charity, and he immediately relieved
" Yes ; and this is what irritated Frank. He came
up through some rocks a little behind the rest, and
had seen my guardian hand them a donation : he,
however, gave them a copper for the sake of getting
rid of them. One of them threw it on the sand,
and then my brother used very strong language : they
followed us here, and, I daresay, the temptation of
seeing the key left in the door outside, prompted them
to revencre themselves in this mannner."
" So we have to thank Mr Clavering and old Dobree
for the whole proceeding," said Mr La Touche, with an
air of great exultation. He was deeply in love, and
he did not want his dinner or his tea ; but he was
indignant that the cause of their detention should be
laid to Willina's account, and he experienced a wild
delight as he heard how Francis had conducted him-
self with the beggars. On the whole, he began to
exculpate the latter; for himself, he really was very
much obliged to them.
Not a word had, as yet, been uttered in complaint
as to the absence of food, or the impossibility of
12 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
obtaining any for some hours to come. Every one had
borne up bravely, — only old Dobree lifted up his voice
in lamentation for his tea and his beloved pipe. As
self-control was the rule, he said little about the meal,
but, like his fellow-captives, probably, he thought the
more, and took it out in longing for a smoke.
They had all gone below, with the exception of old
Dobree and Francis Clavering. These two had volun-
teered to take the first watch, seating themselves upon
the stone bench which the Brain tree couple had vacated.
The seats were narrow, and decidedly not comfortable ;
but the spot was dry and thoroughly well out of the
range of the blast, which at intervals thrust itself in a
compressed volume beneath the outer door.
After a preliminary snarl, Mr Dobree settled him-
self, leaning against the wall with every outward and
visible sign of composing himself to sleep. Mr
Clavering pulled his hat over his eyes, stuck his heels
firmly on the tiles, and set to work thinking of Miss
Did it strike him that by doing so he was guilty of
disloyalty to the fair creature whom, but a few weeks
agone, he had vowed to love and cherish unto the end
of life ? — did it ever occur to him that sin lurked under
cover of his admiration for the woman of the stronger
brain and more determined will ? No ; had Francis
Clavering been compelled to define his feelings on this
point, he would have avowed that he held, not only a
dual preference, but a distinctly dual perception in
dealing with each preference.
CLOSE PRISON. 13
The mind of Miss Fanshawe, he would have de-
clared, was infinitely superior to that possessed by
nine-tenths of her sex ; and this, united with so many
personal attractions, must ever command the interest
of those to whom the possession of intellect must of
necessity form a large component part in the forma-
tion of a friendship.
Thus it was both in a general as well as in a par-
ticular sense that Francis considered it to be allow-
able that he should worship intellect in the person of
Miss Fanshawe, and he was quite as much in his right
to pay homage to youth and beauty. Besides, Lillian
was so admirably cautious.
Here was his illusion : why and for what reason
did he conclude that Miss Fanshawe was distinguished
for possessing caution as regarded himself ?
There could be only one answer to this : he had
instinctively discovered that Miss Fanshawe held him
in a regard which went far beyond the bounds pre-
scribed by mere friendship ; but he was in illusion,
nevertheless, for he would neither admit nor deny
As to his wife, there was small need of either
defining or analysing his feelings. He had married
her, and that fact was, or should be, sufficient to pro-
claim that she came up to his very high standard of
female qualifications. She was lovely in person, and
was by no means wanting in intelligence, and — what
was far better — in the appreciation of his own great
knowledge and intellectual renown.
14 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
For the rest, the possible mother of a large family
would not have much leisure for literary pursuits ; and
Mary was not one who would allow household duties
to give way, in so far as she herself was concerned, to
art or learning, of whatever kind these might be.
Far from undervaluing either, she would be satisfied
to leave the prosecution of them to other people ; and
what more natural than that her own early friend
should come to be as a sister in their household
circle, and be looked up to as a Mentor, graced with
every feminine charm, but still a Mentor endowed
with the brain of a man, and combining the strength
of the battle - axe with the nicest acumen of the
polished steel needle.
The appellative " sister " proved rather a stumbling-
block in the course of Mr Clavering's ruminations.
Suddenly there came upon him the remembrance of
the conversation he had lately held with Willina,
during which the latter had frankly avowed that she
had no liking for Miss Fanshawe. This, taken by
itself, would not have affected Francis in any great
degree. He would probably have attributed his
sister's dislike to Lillian as the outcome of some
feminine jealousy or misunderstanding, which might
or which might not right itself as time went by. At
any rate, this was a matter which it would be beneath
his dignity to recognise — so long, that is to say, as
Miss Fanshawe was neither molested nor offended.
Anything which might cause that lady annoyance
would necessarily call for his interference, if hap-
CLOSE PEISON. 15
pening beneath his roof or at the instance of his
Pursuing the course of his reflections, Mr Clavering
was inclined to view the growing affection which was
fast springing up between his wife and his sister as by
no means so desirable a thing as at the first blush it
might be supposed to be.
It did away, as it were, entirely with the necessity
of Miss Fanshawe ; and Willina, clear, high-minded,
and practical, was quite as much one upon whom
Mary could rely as the former had been, or ever could
be in the time to come.
The accident of his marriage had brought with it
the rights of relationship. Failing Mr Glascott, his
home must of necessity be that of his sister until she
might marry, and, of course, a twofold bond would be
inaugurated if Mary and Willina preserved a sincere
regard each one for the other.
This in a good measure would unavoidably exclude
Miss Fanshawe, and thus his own enjoyment of her
society would be very sensibly curtailed. The only
comfort was that the sea lay between Brydone and
his home at Tring, a chasm that his sister would not
often care to cross, and it would be his business to
desire that Miss Fanshawe should be amons^ their
first visitors when they were settled in their country
Had he not a large case of most valuable geological
specimens waiting for arrangement, and had he not
concluded to delay the unpacking of this until he
16 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
could secure reliable and, above all things, constant
assistance in the classification of the same ?
The sea by this time had become very rough, and
the unfortunate persons in their underground refuge
could feel it dashing against the rocks and beating the
ground as it advanced towartis the shore.
There were voices and shrieks all around, but they
were those of the winds and the blast. The storm
had now risen to fury, and what was mostly to be
apprehended was that the waves might dash over the
churchyard wall. They remembered well that on the
occasion of very high tides St Oswin's was said to
appear, from a distance, to be entirely surrounded by
It miGjht be safe enouQ-h now — hitherto it had been
safe; the spray had lea23t over the churchyard wall,
and had penetrated through the rifts of its stones.
But who could tell ? The waves might on this wild
night take further licence, and rush upon the building
itself ! If so, would the structure, already advancing
to decay, be able to withstand the shock ?
These thoughts, in spite of every effort to suppress
them, obtruded themselves into the minds of each one
of the party, who now, weary and faint, could scarcely
help giving way to the most dreary forebodings. Still
no complaint escaped their lips. They expressed their
thankfulness that the crypt kept them dry, and all
was said in this. Mr Glascott grieved mostly on
account of the sufferers being his guests, and that
through him, although unwittingly, these discomforts
CLOSE PEISON. 17
had fallen upon them. Physically speaking, he was
as buoyant as the youngest person there.
Mrs Braintree had discovered a box of cough-lozenges
in the pocket of her husband's coat. These were warm
and pungent, so she crammed three or four of them
into his mouth, and then slipping the mantle off her
own shoulders, she transferred it to those of the Canon,
and finally drawing his head down to her lap, she
succeeded for a short time in hushing him into for-
Mr Clavering had left Dobree asleep, and came
down to request Mr Willoughby to take his place as
a watcher in the church above.
Willina sat beside her cousin, with Stephen La
Touche on the step immediately below them. Mr De
Brett took care of Mrs Clavering and his own young
sister, whilst Francis paced up and down like a caged
lion, and audibly consigned old Dobree to the infernal
gods for leaving the key in the door at all. His
inmost thoughts even carried him so far as to opine
that if Miss Fanshawe had been of this party, and had
seen the tramps, her wisdom would have prevented
the possibility of this contretemps. She would have
taken care that Mr Daniel Dobree should not leave
the course open to a surprise.
As it was, there they were, and there they were
likely to remain, at least until morning broke.
Mr Glascott after a time rose to stretch himself,
and then went to join the watchers above. Mr
La Touche immediately changed his position, sidled
VOL. III. B
18 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
close up to Miss Clavering, and inquired if she felt
"Yes, I do/' she replied ; "I think I would like to
walk about a little, for my feet are like ice. Only it
is so dark, and the floor is very uneven also."
" No, don't do that, Miss Clavering," Stephen replied,
— " here is a far more effectual way of getting warm."
And before she could prevent him, the young man had
wrapped his velvet shooting-jacket round her feet in a
second of time.
" I cannot permit you to do this," Willina said, im-
ploringly. " Should any one strike a lucifer-match
now, and chance to see you, they would think that you
were mad. Do put on your coat, — you will be chilled
to death if you do not."
" There is no chance of that," said Stephen, hardily,
at the same time giving the garment an extra turn,
and thus enveloping Miss Clavering so completely
about the feet, that it would be difficult for her to
rise up. " I have been seeking an opportunity of
speaking to you," he continued, *' but somehow I have
never been able to find you alone. Now I really have
captured you, and I want to tell you something.
Willina ! you surely must understand me ; it is the
old, old story."
" Our acquaintance has been so short," she replied,
in a very agitated tone. " I will not pretend to mis-
understand you ; but are you wise in rehearsing the
old story to me ? — or, perhaps, I should rather say, am
I wise in listening to you ? "
CLOSE PRISON. 19
" Yes, yes ! you are most wise," the young man
answered passionately, " if you listen approvingly ; for
then you will make the happiness of a life. Now,
hear my version of the old, old story : I loved you
from the first instant that I saw you — I have loved
you ever since ; more, I love you at this moment more
deeply than ever, and I only ask a little love in return.
Can you — will you promise me that ? "
Wliat she said, and how she said it, neither the one
nor the other ever distinctly knew. It is only certain
that, after the lapse of a few minutes, Willina entreated
her lover not to wring her feet quite so hard. In
most situations it would have been her hands that
should have suffered from that strong masculine grip,
— a grip which combined thankfulness with a sub-
dued exultation, — but under the circumstances, every-
thing being out of gear, it was but natural that Stephen
should bestow his hearty acknowledgments upon the
pedal extremities which lay so close to his hand.
" Get up — there's a good fellow," Miss Clavering
said quickly, after the lapse of a few moments ;
" somebody is lighting a match. Here's your coat,"
and with a single movement Miss Clavering had got
rid of that garment, and tumbled against her brother,
at the foot of the steps leading to the church.
" Oh ! is it you ? " exclaimed Francis, as he recog-
nised WiUina by the feeble light. " I am afraid I
nearly threw you down ; it's as dark as pitch — actu-
ally obliged to strike a match to find these steps. I
suppose you were coming up for a stretch ? "
20 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Yes ; I am so chilly, it is quite necessary to walk
about a little."
" Come up with me, then. Just hark at the sea ! it
must be surely close to the churchyard wall. For-
tunately it is getting lighter, — that's owing to the
moon. Who's that behind us ? "
" Only Mr La Touche," Miss Clavering replied, in
the most matter-of-fact manner in the world. " I
suppose he wants to have a look at the moon ; it is
lighter up here."
Mr Willoughby had by this time descried the
Claverings, and advanced to meet them. " So glad
you have dug yourselves out of that vault," the young
man said ; " the rain has very nearly stopped I think.
Now, I have got one idea "
" Only one ! " said Miss Clavering, laughing. " Do
tell us what it is ? "
" I call your conduct mean, Miss Clavering — yes,
mean — to quench my notions of affecting a deliverance
by a snub in the dark — a snub which, under the cir-
cumstances, is more cruel than a stab."
" Never mind, Willoughby," said Mr La Touche,
putting himself en evidence ; " you might be worse
off. Did you never hear of the two friends who were
on such exceedingly intimate terms, that one of them
Ijoasted their affection was so great that they only pos-
sessed one idea between them."
" Charmincf idiots ! " broke in Francis. " But Wil-
loughby, if your cogitations have led to some scheme
that may rid us of this infernal fix, do let us
CLOSE PKISOK 21
have it. I will willingly assist any practicable un-
" You see that hole up there ? No, you can't, till I
strike a light. The hole is just above the young pool
of water at our feet, and it is not so far from the arch
above that window to the right."
" Yes. Well ? "
" It is an accepted fact," continued the lad, " that
where the head can get through, the rest of the body
can follow, more or less uncomfortably. My idea —
my sole idea. Miss Clavering — has consequently been
to perforate or enlarge that opening by means of my
own carcase. Now, I think my w^orthy tutor might
give me a lift to the window-sill ; and as there is room
for two to stand thereon, he might further let me place
my feet on his shoulders."
" Anything more ? " ejaculates Mr La Touche.
" I am coming to that. Having drawn breath, and
both keeping steady, I think I could spring from the
high elevation of the shoulders of Mr La Touche, get
hold of one of those rafters, and so work my way
" But the rafters, George, may be rotten or out of
place, and you would come down head foremost, and
so add to our troubles and your own. Your plan is a
good one were the materials of the roof to be depended
upon," Mr La Touche objected.
" At any rate," said Mr Clavering, " the roof is low,
comparatively speaking, and the performance suggested
is feasible to a good climber. It would be better to
22 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
rouse up that efficient guide there ; he'll know all
about the condition of the roof. The philanthropist
who preserved the stained glass might possibly have
extended some repairing to the upper part ; but the
entrance of so much rain does not, to my mind, favour
" The rain is nearly over now," said Willina, " and
the light has become stronger, even during the few
minutes we have been standing here — that's a
" So it has," replied her brother. " I think I will
go and bring my wife up here ; this is less dreary than
sitting absolutely in the dark."
Young Willoughby went forward to 'shake up
Daniel Dobree, and Stephen gave his arm to Willina,
and walked with her to and fro trying to get warm.
The wind and the rain had certainly abated ; but the
roar of the sea was terrific, being intensified at inter-
vals by that swishing sound which is like a prolonged
and cruel hiss. The chill of that weird hour which
precedes the dawn was now upon all, pervading every
nook, and saddening the spirits of the already depressed
captives in St Os win's ruined church.
Save Stephen La Touche. Joy was in every move-
ment, in every feature, almost in the wave of his hair.
The tone of his voice proclaimed that the " sad hour "
had no terrors for him ; his step was so elastic that his
companion had to place a restraining pull on his arm.
" You have made me so happy," he said, interpreting
the tug, — " so happy, dear, that I know nothing of time
CLOSE PRISON. 23
or space, or anything else, except that you are leaning
upon me as my betrothed wife. Ought I not to re-
joice ? Ought I not to love this place for evermore,
seeing that it is here I have won my crown ? "
'' And so have I," she replied. " But, Stephen !
ours is a sorry troth-plight, pledged on the broken
steps of an unknown tomb, buried in a vault of a
ruined church, — disquietude, if not actual danger, all
around us : it is not a happy omen."
" Xever fear, Willina ; some time hence we shall
look back upon this and smile : and remember the
lone sepulchre still bears the Christian sign — the sign
which in the end brings victory."
" Yes," she replied ; " but the victory is in the end,
and usually follows much suffering."
"You are hipped and out of tune to-night, dear
love, and no wonder," he replied, as he drew her
closer to him. " Do not talk about the future just
now ; come and let us hear what Dobree has to say
about Willoughby's plan of rescue."
They did hear it. Mr Dobree in short and decisive
language characterised it as that foolhardy that he
did not know how to express his surprise at the
" owdaciousness " of even thinking of such a thing.
" Them rafters is all loose, and mostly half powder,"
he remarked, " and it's wellnigh a miracle that the
whole has not come down in a lump on our heads
during the storm. That's what I have been expecting
of," continued he.
"As you have been fast asleep for hours, I can't
24 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
understand what you mean by your expectations,"
retorted young Mr Willoughby, who was rather net-
tled at his propositions being so completely routed.
" What are we to do, then ? "
" All as you has to do is to wait patiently, and at
early morning holler."
"But we have hollered, my good man," persisted
the hopeful pupil ; " we hollered like mad just before
" You'll have a better chance of being heard in the
early morning, I tell you," snapped Dobree; "the
wrackers will be soon astir after such a storm as we
had last night, and the tide will be low after four
" The wrackers ! Who are they ? "
It was explained to Mr Willougliby that in the
Channel Islands sea -weed is very extensively used
for manurincj the land. A violent storm is therefore
by no means an unwelcome occurrence in these regions,
because after rough weather quantities of this fertiliser
are hurled to shore, and the diligent farmer takes the
earliest opportunity to collect the treasures which the
waters may have cast up.
It is an interesting and in some respects a pictur-
esque sight, at certain seasons, to see a party of
wrackers grouped on the shore, with their carts and
horses in attendance, busy raking the wrack or vrach,
as this sea-weed is called. Their tools are long iron
or wooden rakes, and with these the leathery strong-
smelling sea-tang is gathered in. Change the locale,
and one is reminded of a hayfield. The talking and
laughing and flirtation go on pretty much the same
as in the meadow-land.
The sun-bonnet and the sea-bonnet are tilted in thf^
26 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
same coquettish style to preserve the complexion ; and
when work is over, and the carts are driven away top-
heavy with the harvest, the same amount of feasting
and glorification ensues upon the storing-in of the
vrack as usually follows upon the safe gathering-in of
the yellow corn or hay.
As the vrack dries, its original unpleasant odour is
concentrated and intensified. Let the unwary traveller
but hint this, however, and he will be at once put
down with the information that the vrack emits the
healthiest scent in the world. There will be much
mention of iodine ; and the assertion that the vigour
and fine personal appearance of the islanders is due to
the constant sniffing of this sea-weed will be insisted
upon with all the courage of conviction.
A little more conversation on this subject ensues.
Meanwhile the dark hour fairly gives place to the
dawn — to that glimmering, modest light which trem-
bles as it rises, and to the pure beauty of which
scarcely one artist has succeeded in giving an ade-
Perhaps the dying entreaty of Goethe has sancti-
fied heaven's first-born to all coming time — "Let
in more light." These words seem to tell us that
to him this beautiful subtle essence was as soul to
It came, at this time, in the guise of a deliverer to
the prisoners in St Oswin's Church. They have for
some time past been so subdued in spirit, that little
else than monosyllabic conversation has been main-
tained amongst them.
Mr Glascott has lost all his mrve. Mrs Braintree
has ceased to watch, and has fallen asleep in so curious
a position, that it is a wonder she has not twisted her
neck. Mr La Touche has inveigled the Canon into
one of the stone seats of the chancel, and has wedged
him therein so securely that a fall seems to be im-
The mantle of Mrs Braintree still covers her hus-
band's shoulders, and he looks as wretched as any
elderly gentleman can possibly look.
The others make the best of matters bravely, with
the exception of Daniel Dobree, who fidgets super-
humanly, and who is as cross as two sticks. Mr La
Touche is the most contented of the party in appear-
ance ; but he is really very anxious on Miss Claver-
ing's account. The brother of that young lady, mean-
while, indulges in language, under his breath, which is
not by any means parliamentary, and his wife huddles
as^ainst the brother and sister De Brett for warmth
Mr Willoughby can stand this state of affairs no
longer, and he avows as much. So he requests his
tutor, whom he irreverently styles his "coach," to
lend him a hand, and assist him to mount up to the
window-sill of the casement, which seems to present
the safest footing.
" What be 'ee going to do up there ? " screams old
28 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Dobree, who is jealous of any action in which he has
no share. " What be 'ee up to ? "
" I am going to holler," replied the young fellow
with a grin, as he looked down on the guide.
" You have got to the wrong winder. You ought
to have gone to the one that has the plain glass at the
side — it opens for air, that one do. The one you have
got to is all as tight as wax. Why did you not consult
me ? " inquired Mr Dobree, with an ill-used look and
tone of voice.
" Never fear," returns Mr Willougliby. " Here are
two panes quite loose ; I have only got to turn back
the lead with my knife."
" If you spoils that stained glass you'll have to pay
for it pretty smart. That yaller comes expensive.
The antiqueries says it can't be matched ; it's scarce
everywhere. They've got some at Euin [Eouen], but
nothing so fine as this."
"All right; I'll take care." So saying, Mr Wil-
loughby detached two diamond panes, which were of
a gorgeous yet soft colour of old gold, and slid them
into his ample coat-pocket; then putting his mouth
to the aperture, he proceeded to " holler," and he did
it in style.
" Murder ! — mur-der ! — thieves ! — tramps ! Come to
St Oswin's Church ! — come here ! — party locked up !
I say, if there is anybody there, do answer, will you ? "
" Do you see anybody moving, George ? " inquires
Mr La Touche.
" There's a speck on the horizon which may be a
human being. When it gets larger I'll shout again.
Had I not as well give tongue to the names of some of
the principal inhabitants about here ? Dobree, just
give us the names of some of the swells — great folks,
I mean — who live in these regions ; the sound of them
may attract attention."
" De Saumarez — them's admirals ; they are Guern-
sey folk — it won't do no harm to name 'em, though
they ain't of so much account here." (There was
at that time much jealousy betwixt Jersey and
Guernsey.) "Pipon, Bonamy, Le Sieur de Pontac,
he was originally from Brittany, and Mister Bree,
he's the principal boarding-house keeper in St
Mr Willoughby rehearsed these cognomens, and
then shouted them co7i amore in the direction of
His efforts were in vain, but he handed down one
crumb of comfort to his friends below him : the speck
on the horizon he ascertained most certainly to be a
living, moving man.
" Jump up, Mr La Touche, to the window that opens
for air," he said ; " crash it open and shove out your
hand. Has anybody got a decent-sized pocket-hand-
kerchief ? "
Dobree had a bright-blue article spotted with yellow
globes, which might, for size, have served for a sail.
This was made over to Mr La Touche, who, with the
assistance of the others, scrambled to his post, and
joined his shouts to the undercurrent of bellow which
30 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
young Willoughby was keeping up some feet apart
Mr La Touche, who had the advantage of much
greater space, inasmuch as he could, from his case-
ment, protrude his head, descried the figure, and after
a few moments' inspection, declared that it was that of
a man gathering sea-weeds. " He has got a basket
strapped round his shoulders, and stoops. I should
think he was a collector, seeking tine specimens very
probably." This information Mr La Touche imparted
as he cautiously withdrew his head.
"You are quite right; he is a collector," returned
Daniel Dobree. " You keep your eye on him and
holler in French. That man is a wonderful authority
in sea-weeds. I take it that it is Mr Jouvert; he's
always out after a storm."
" Holloa ! hi ! voulez - vous venez ici ? " shouted
young Willoughby in a strong British accent.
" 'No, no, George, that won't do," remonstrated Mr
La Touche ; " let me call." And he thrust his head out
at the opening and vociferated, " Monsieur, Monsieur
Jouvert ! "
The individual thus adjured raised his head and looked
round : his attention had been aroused, but being too
far off to hear correctly, he gave the sea-birds the
benefit of the doubt, and proceeded to thrust his stick
into a mass of sea-tang which lay immediately in front
of him. The exultation of the scientist who has
lighted on a treasure was apparent in every movement
of this elderly man, as he cautiously extracted a crim-
son-tufted head from tlie hairy, dripping pendants by
which it was entangled, and found that he had secured
a noble specimen of the Khodymenia, a rare sea-plant,
which grows generally in deep water only.
A piece of " medical coral," also rare, although it is
to be found at Youghal, in Ireland, had drifted beyond
tide-mark in company with its more splendid brother,
and thus the satisfaction of the algologist was supreme.
So was that of Mr La Touche also, as he beheld the
collector strike into a brisk walk in the direction of
St Os win's Church.
]N"ow was the time. Stephen first thrust his hand
through the little window and waved the blue pocket-
handkerchief with frantic gestures ; then he protruded
his head and called out in stentorian tones, " Monsieur
Jou — vert ! donnez-vous la peine de vous approcher
par-ici, je vous en prie ; nous sommes renfermes dans
I'eglise meme." Meanwhile Mr Willoughby kept up
a running fire of " Votre ami. Monsieur Daniel Dobree,
est ici aussi, renferme par des mendiants."
Mr Jouvert is not prompted so much by the elo-
quence of these addresses to hurry forward as he is by
the sight of the hand waving the blue pocket-handker-
chief. He waves his arm in sign of recognition, and
walks directly towards the j)oiiit from whence the
shouts proceed. He is soon within the churchyard
wall, for he knows the locality well, and stands before
the church door.
A rush of the entrapped apprises him of the circum-
stances of the case, and Daniel Dobree, in the peculiar
32 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Jersey patois which does duty in the Channel Islands
for the French language, entreats him to go to the
first house and seek assistance, and to require it also
from any one whom he should happen to meet on the
way. No time is to be lost, and the kindly French-
man wends on his errand with all the haste that the
Mr Jouvert had not been lonej oone when he met a
trap which contained some of the household from Bry-
done, driven by the proprietor of the hotel whereat
Stephen La Touche and his young friend were staying.
The latter, it appeared, had concluded that his guests
had put up at Brydone on account of the awful
weather, and it was the appearance of the butler from
that place making inquiries at five in the morning
that aroused alarm.
The landlord immediately had the trap out : placing
refreshments and blankets in it, he drove to Brydone
for a female servant, and made his way to the sea-
His idea was, that the party had strayed too far,
and that in all probability the storm had prevented
their return by the sea-shore, and that they had prob-
ably passed the night cowering among the cliffs. Mr
Le Eennetoul had been twenty years in the islands,
and one awful catastrophe by quicksand had made
him very alert and cautious in cases when persons
were long absent from their home.
Fortunately he could speak French, so that the com-
munication of Mr Jouvert put him at once in posses-
sion of the whole affair. " We have brought refresh-
ments and other things," Mr Le Eennetoul observed
in reply ; " but the necessity of axe or crowbar was
certainly beyond my imagination."
The algologist suggested that it would be better, at
any rate, that they should drive on. " The ladies," he
said, " must be nearly exhausted ; and by tying hand-
kerchiefs together, bottles and jars could be passed up
through the windows of the church." This was as-
sented to, and in a very short space this first instal-
ment of comfort arrived at St Oswin's. There was a
grand parleying through the door, and the prisoners
were very much aggravated to find that the two tramps
had been relieved both at the hotel and at Brydone,
and were probably at that moment far on the other
side of the island, or perhaps sailing merrily away
"It's adding injury to insult," young Willoughby
declared, as he heard this news. " But never mind —
we'll get to the windows now and fish up the brandy.
'All's well that ends well '; and I do believe something
uncomfortable will come upon these fellows. They'll
get lagged some day, you'll see."
The fishing up the refreshments was no easy task,
but it was done ; and the sufferers were thankful for
the French brandy, which, in the Channel Islands, is
generally an unadulterated and pure restorative.
There was a general shaking up and adjusting of
toilets, and though all looked pale and miserable, still
none but Canon Braintree was really the worse for
VOL. III. c
34 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the night's detention. He, poor man, had suffered
terribly ; but he was of the good old stuff which
makes no moan.
Mrs Braintree was quite revived after partaking of
the stimulant. All the assumption of the dignified
clergywoman had vanished ; and Willina, who had at
first dreaded her as a visitor, was now convinced that
her guest was not only good-hearted, but also one
who could, like her neighbours, take the rough with
the smooth, and fare alike with them, and be none the
worse, although her husband was a Canon of Yarne.
It must be said that some of Willina's experience of
clerical ladies had not been fortunate; indeed the
most worldly minded and the most selfish women she
had known had belonged to that class of society. It
is to be feared that in this experience Miss Clavering
was very far from being singular. Prebendal stalls,
headships of colleges, and other honours of the world
ecclesiastical, have in too many cases sadly changed for
the worse the character of the simple parson's wife.
A crowbar and axe have arrived, together with a
multitude of workers, and the usual following of idle
The door is soon broken open ; indeed had those
within been furnished with a single instrument of
mechanical force, however rude, their detention within
St Oswin's Church would have been short enough.
They are glad to be released, and as the light and the
sun have gained strength, they emerge upon as lovely
a waterscape as the world can produce.
There, far away, like a child asleep after rough play,
smiles the sea — the golden rays locking themselves
into rings of yellow light upon his brow. Here, spread
within his grasp, lie in motley confusion the play-
things of his stormy hours. The strong sea -tang
pressed into the ribbed sand, intermingled with filmy
scarlet threads, to which countless minute shells are
appended ; the elegant Cladophora, with her glaucous
hue, dragged from her distant home ; the crimson
tuft of the Ehodymenia ; a whole family of graceful
corallines, together with their nun-like sister whose
curious name is Melohesia polymorpha. All these have
been tossed and beaten by the waves ; and a poor
sea-bird, lying dead in its soft ruffled plumage, con-
tributes its mute testimony to the rage and the perils
of the deep.
The trap conveys the elder members of the party,
the rest returning on foot. Francis Clavering walks
briskly forward. His mind is full of the hours he has
lost in the dreary ruin of St Oswin ; and he persist-
ently encourages a vision, in which is depicted to his
mental sight the delights of the situation had Miss
Fanshawe been one of the companions of his captivity.
How he would have been cheered ! and how delightful
would it be if she were now at his side, enjoying the
delicious fragrance of the hour — doubly charming in
the emancipation from durance vile !
Mr Glascott, in the thankfulness of deliverance, has
also been mindful of this young lady, but in a some-
what different spirit to that of Mr Clavering. All the
36 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
force of the elder gentleman's regard is concentrated
in congratulation that she has been spared this night
of personal discomfort, together with its great risk.
He looks at the wan, tired faces of his guests, and
his heart rises in gratitude that he has been saved
the pain of seeing her in the like case. He cannot
bear that even a passing inconvenience should dim
the beauty of her form ; that her calm, splendid in-
telligence should be ruffled by any physical assault;
that her nerve should be shaken by even the shadow
Thus it is that this man, in his simple true-hearted-
ness, thinks of Lillian Fanshawe. Dear as her society
would be to him, he is thankful to forego it, and
he now turns his attention to comfort his guests,
and to alle\date the inconveniences which they have
Brydone is soon reached, and after some further
refreshment, the necessities of the case urge all to seek
their apartments and enjoy a bath and a long sleep.
It has been proclaimed that nobody will be expected
to meet anybody else until half-past two in the day,
at which time a dinner-luncheon had been appointed
to be served.
Ere they severally disperse, Stephen has contrived
to get a few private words with Willina. " It will be
as well," he added in conclusion, " not to speak to
Mr Glascott to-day. We will come up this evening,
and to-morrow I will make my propositions in due
" You are riglit/' she replied ; " my cousin has gone
through excitement enough for one day, and, after
the experiences of the last twelve hours, he certainly
deserves to have a short time of untroubled repose.
Good-bye now, and be sure to come up to tea ; and
mind to bring Mr Willoughby with you, and don't
behave as if you had only come to see me."
This little valedictory caution was necessary, for Mr
La Touche was beginning to be rather prononc4 in his
attentions, and Miss Clavering had arrested a curious
smile on Mrs Braintree's face as the eyes of that lady
had rested on the pair as they stood at the hall-door
of Brydone. Willina had decided that Stephen should
evince no outward and visible sign of his privileges
until at least Cousin Everard's consent thereto had
been requested in proper form.
The two gentlemen then went to their hotel ; and
Willina, previous to retiring to her own room, hies to
the library to see if there are any letters for the
Brydone household spread on the table there. These,
if any, would have come on the afternoon of the
previous day, the steamer from England not generally
arriving at the port of St Heliers till nearly two
" Cousin Everard must be dreadfully knocked up,"
thought she, " for he has neither inquired for his
correspondence nor come to seek it : quite remarkable
for him, for he has been so anxious about the mail
of late. Like the rest, I fancy he is too tired to think
of anything but sleep."
38 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
One or two letters and a printed notification for
Canon Braintree ; a shoal of pamphlets for her brother,
in company with a small wooden box, which may
contain an inanimate specimen or an animate rep-
tile ; a newspaper for herself, and a letter for Mr
Glascott. This last is addressed in the large, flow-
ing, -and conspicuously clear handwriting of Miss
Willina surveys this epistle, but she does not touch
it. The post-mark is intelligible enough — "Pinnacles,"
stamped within a vivid blue ring, with the date and the
capital letters "A. E." beneath. Pinnacles had only
very lately, through the exertions of its rector, acquired
a post-office of its own, with the right of a local stamp
for letters, consequently the outward signs of this dig-
nity were fresh and flaring. Miss Clavering looks
at it again, and then, heart-sick, she wends her way
to her chamber.
Whilst the house is hushed in silence, let us recount
the circumstances which called forth Miss Fanshawe's
present epistle to the master of Brydone. It has been
shown that when Mr Glascott first pressed his suit on
Miss Fanshawe, he did not meet with an immediate
or unconditional response. This arose, the lady
averred, from a delicacy with regard to Miss Claver-
ing, and also from a wish to be perfectly free and un-
encumbered in her married home. It was on this
account that she took time for reflection.
Mr Glascott, for his part, could not understand why
there should be any objection to Willina still making
Brydone her home, he being perfectly ignorant con-
cerning the love -passages in which Mr Percival La
Touche had played so prominent a part, and which
were the root and branch of the reason that brought
an unexpressed but decided estrangement between
the two ladies.
Miss Fanshawe in this matter was decidedly to
blame. She had made up her mind to marry Percival
La Touche, and she could not, or would not, forgive
Willina for frustrating, however unintentionally, her
aspirations and desires. Miss Clavering, on the other
hand, had taken exception to what she termed Miss
Fanshawe's " managing manner " during their visit at
Hunter's Lodge. It was all very well to urge that
Colonel Leppell had requested this young friend to
supervise his household at that dreary time ; but
Willina felt that the yoke was upon all, and even
Alick Leppell, who was not famous for intuitive
sagacity, felt annoyed at the decided air of authority
with which the damsel treated all, both within and
without the circle of Hunter's Lodge.
Miss Clavering was also indignant at what she con-
sidered Miss Fanshawe's neglect of her avowed friend,
Mary Clavering, at that time. She thought little, in
one sense of the situation, of her own brother's decided
appreciation of Miss Lillian. " Frank is a domestic
as well as a political economist," thought she, " and
Miss Fanshawe will save him an assistant, eventually.
What a fuss he made about old Mrs Guy, who set
his conchological museum afloat for him ! It is all as
40 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
well, and this fancy will save his wife a world of
worry, so let that be."
Thus Miss Clavering, who had only the faintest per-
ception of the footing upon which these two actually
Miss Fanshawe was equally confident of this ; but
her ponderings on the subject led her to believe that
the too near propinquity of Willina might be danger-
ous in the event of her marrying Mr Glascott — at any
rate, to herself the constant presence of that lady
might act as an incubus. Still, it would be as well to
do the magnanimous thing. This was to impress upon
Mr Glascott her reluctance to appear in the light of
an intruder to either Mr Clavering or to his sister : the
latter, she insisted, would feel as injured as if a
veritable mother-in-law were about to be introduced
Mr Glascott did not agree in this opinion, — natur-
ally, because he was determined to marry Miss Fan-
shawe ; and though he was not indifferent to the
opinion of his wards on the subject, he felt sure that
the handsome provision he had made for Francis, and
his conduct to him in the matter of his marriage with
Mary Leppell, would secure that relative's unqualified
assent. He trusted, with regard to Willina, to his
young cousin's affection for himself, and to the
generosity of her nature. It was possible that his
marriage might be a disappointment to her, but then
all objections would vanish when she learned who the
bride was to be. Thus Mr Glascott, who after a little
delay had been authorised, as we know, by Miss Fan-
shawe to communicate with her father, and request
his consent to the prosecution of his suit.
This, as we already know. Miss Lillian looked upon
as a mere matter of form. It was, therefore, with
some surprise that the young lady found that the
rector was not only unwilling to entertain a favour-
able view of the matter, but that he held some ob-
jections concerning it to which he gave a decided
"Do you know that this man is fifty-eight years
of age ? " said the rector, shortly, to his daughter,
after he had summoned her to a conference on the
subject of Mr Glascott's letter on the morning of its
"He is fifty-nine, papa, or very nearly so," re-
sponded that damsel, " and he is as strong as a youth
of twenty ; there's many a year's work in Mr Glas-
cott, and his sight is magnificent." This she said in
the coolest manner possible. She might have been
summing up the properties of an elephant or of an
" Um, yes ; that's all very well — an exception of
nature — but that's not the point. Do you not recog-
nise the immense disparity that exists between your
own age and that of Mr Glascott ? — a disparity
which reaches to nearly forty years."
" Perfectly, and I rejoice in it : to a sickly effemin-
ate youth of twenty I should object, and object very
decidedly. In the matter of age, I have got to live
42 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
with Mr Glascott, and he has got to live with me.
If we marry, the disparity in age is our own affair
entirely; it affects no one but ourselves, and it is
nobody's business but our own."
Mr Fanshawe was silent for a moment, then he
said, "Are you prepared to encounter the opposition
which the Clavering cousins will very possibly offer
to their guardian's marriage with whomsoever it may
be? You see," continued the rector, "and probably
you know, that Mr Glascott proposes to settle all he
has unreservedly upon you : do you suppose his cousins
will relish that ? "
"They would have no cause for disapprobation,"
said Lillian. " Mr Clavering possesses Tring by deed
of gift, and a sum is also settled upon him, which
makes him independent of Mr Glascott for ever. I
don't understand how, but it's legal."
Mr Fanshawe smiled slightly. "But what about
Miss Clavering ? She is not provided for half so
handsomely, — why is that ? " he said.
" She has three thousand pounds, and if she marry
to her guardian's approbation, he will give her a dowry
on her wedding-day," replied Lillian.
" Um — why is so great a difference made betwixt the
brother and sister ? " inquired the rector, diverging from
the direct line of discussion. " Wliat will the dowry
be ? It may not amount to more than an extra thousand
pounds. And then, in the event of Mr Glascott's
marriase, where is Willina's home to be ? I don't
like the idea of the girl being turned out by my
daughter, just as her guardian, for the first time in his
life, I believe, has acquired a settled residence and
placed her in it."
" That need not trouble you, papa. At the moment
almost that Mr Glascott proposed to me, I made the
possibility of Miss Clavering's being adverse to the
introduction of a wife at Brydone a very serious ob-
jection to my listening to his suit. In fact, I asked
for time to consider this matter before giving a final
" I suppose Miss Clavering was consulted ? "
" No ; but Mr Glascott thought it feasible that his
cousin could reside half the year at Tring, and pay
visits, and go to Brussels occasionally."
" Then Mary and her husband have offered no ob-
jection to this plan ? "
" I don't know ; but Mr Glascott is satisfied on the
principal matter, and that is, that they will both be
gratified with his marriage with me. Mary and Miss
Clavering have become such affectionate friends, that
we are certain that the residence of the latter at Tring
would be a mutual satisfaction."
" Perhaps so," said the rector ; " but much of this is
mere assumption, as it is evident the parties have not
" Brydone will always be Miss Clavering's home, in
so far as I am concerned," replied Lillian ; " her ob-
jections to living there are alone considered in the
plans I have spoken of. It is possible — very possible
— that she may dislike the idea of Mr Glascott marry-
44 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ing; but I think everything has been done, in pro-
spective, to soften the disappointment."
This Mr Fanshawe could scarcely gainsay. But he
again expressed his surprise that Miss Clavering
should be so slenderly provided for. " That is to say,"
he continued, " in comparison with the handsome pro-
vision which has been made for her brother."
" I suppose men are alike all over the world,"
Lillian answered ; " women always come in second
best where money is concerned. Besides, Mr Glas-
cott had a sickener of the sex in his early days,
— thanks to Lady Asher and poor Mrs Leppell. Mr
Clavering has always been regarded by his cousin
as an eldest son, remember. Miss Clavering will do
well enough, — she has already got some magnificent
diamonds, the very counterpart of the set which Mr
Glascott presented to Mary as a wedding-gift."
" I have seen them : they are splendid, and I am
heartily glad that Willina Clavering has got her
share," said the rector, quite enthusiastically.
"These two girls have had every stone, and Mr
Glascott was years in collecting them," said Lillian.
There was some agitation in her voice now, for what
diamondless woman can speak of these gems unmoved,
especially when they are possessed by those of the
sex whose chances of obtaining them have, in the
first instance, been as chimerical as her own.
Mr Fanshawe did not notice this. He was fully
satisfied that anything he had to offer in opposition
to the match was futile; and he was constrained,
moreover, to remember that he was the father of six
other damsels, whom, owing to the expenses of keep-
ing up Pinnacles, he could scarcely hope to dower.
But in the thorough fulfilment of his duty something
more had to be advanced, and the rector hesitated
and looked nervous as he gave this expression.
" There is one thing of which I must be satisfied," he
said, in a kindly tone, " before I yield my consent to
this marriage. You are not, Lillian, my child — you are
not doing this to escape from home, and from — from
your mother. I know, and it has been the cause of
great grief to me, that you and your mother maintain
relations that are only outwardly amicable. It is a
sad position ; but I must honestly say that I think you
are as much in fault as she is."
" Of course, dear papa, you do. You cannot under-
stand the amount of suffering which a mother can put
on her child if she be so minded, knowing that her
position as parent shields her from even a suspicion of
injustice, and consequently from blame and exposure.
I don't forget that you are my father, and that you
have always been tender towards me when away from
my mother, or beyond her influence. No ; as long as
you live, nothing would induce me to marry, merely
for the sake of getting away from home."
" I am glad to hear you say that," replied the rector,
with a flushed face : his conscience pricked him that
he had been often weak in allowing Mrs Fanshawe
her own way and say with regard to this daughter.
" Be satisfied, papa," Lillian continued ; " in this
46 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
affair my mother has never once entered into my
mind. It is to you, and to you only, that I apply for
permission to marry Mr Glascott."
The rector sighed. " I believe you will make a good
wife, Lillian ; you are not like other girls of your age.
Yes ; I will write to Mr Glascott to-night."
Lillian stooped and kissed her father, and in a short
time she was corresponding regularly with the master
The object of Miss Fanshawe's letter to Mr Glascott
was to give him some information which he had,
evidently, very recently requested in a missive ad-
dressed to herself.
A third person reading its contents would perceive
that the primary authorised stage of amatory corres-
pondence, such as congratulations on securing consent,
and so forth, had been well got through. The business
part of the proceedings was now the engrossing theme,
and it seemed to have already demanded some promp-
Mr Glascott was hereby informed that the wed-
ding would not take place at Pinnacles. Lady
Hautenbas had avowed her intention of presenting
her eldest niece with her trousseau; and further,
of giving the wedding-breakfast, and putting her
house in town at the command of her Fanshawe
relatives for the event. Consequently there had
been a family council, and it had been deemed
48 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
expedient to allow Lady Hautenbas to realise lier
Miss Fanshawe intimated also that when the time
was come to inform Miss Clavering of the intended
nuptials,- an invitation would be forwarded to her,
soliciting her attendance at the ceremony in the
capacity of bridesmaid. She had decided that her two
eldest sisters should be also selected for the post ; and
if their deep mourning should preclude the presence of
one of the Leppell girls, it would be as well to invite
one of the La Touches to fill the fourth place.
Marcia La Touche, the writer continued, had always
been kind and hospitable, and now was the opportun-
ity to recognise these attentions in a graceful way.
Mr Glascott would be glad to hear that the cere-
mony would be performed by her father, and that her
eldest brother, Harold, was at that time being licked
into shape in order that he might give her away ; but
if Colonel Leppell (to whom she owed her happiness)
could be induced to be present, if only at the ceremony
in church, she would much prefer that her dear and
noble Everard should receive her at his hands.
This would be a satisfaction to the Colonel also.
Miss Fanshawe ventured to think ; but of course
nothing could be definitely ascertained until their
betrothal was publicly announced.
As yet none but Lady Hautenbas had been apprised
of the fact. It was satisfactory, however, to be able
to say that her ladyship very cordially approved of
Miss Fanshawe indulged in a surmise that two or
three weeks would terminate the house-warming hospi-
talities at Brydone, and then, she hoped, she might
look forward to Mr Glascott's early appearance at
The letter concluded in an affectionate strain ; but
it was remarkable that no mention of her mother, nor
the slightest allusion to the existence of that lady, was
made, nor ever had been made, in Lillian's epistolary
communication with her fiance.
Strange, also, that Mr Glascott, with his exalted
notions of respect towards seniors of all degrees, never
observed the omission.
It is possible that a conversation he had held with
Miss Fanshawe some weeks agone, in which Mrs
Fanshawe had been the principal theme, had decided
that gentleman to regard the mother of his intended
wife as a very possible disturber of the peace matri-
monial. This is, of course, pure conjecture ; but if the
opinion existed, it was an injustice towards Mrs Fan-
shawe. She would never have caused annoyance
to a son-in-law by reason of interference. Her own
affairs were pressing enough ; but her sharp manner,
and her occasionally bitter speech, caused her to be
often misunderstood, and even dreaded, by her friends.
Many of her daughters remained unmarried event-
ually ; and the world declared that their mother
frightened off more than one would-be suitor who had
ventured to look over the fences of the Fanshawe fold.
The world was quite wrong : that bitter woe, genteel
VOL. III. D
50 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
poverty, was the working power in these cases. Be-
sides, generally speaking, it is the fussy, motherly gos-
sip, and more certainly, perhaps, the female who passes
for being a " sweet Christian," who generally contrive
to make mischief in their neighbour's domestic life.
Certain it is — and more the pity — that Mrs Fan-
shawe had treated her eldest daughter, from her earli-
est infancy, more harshly than she really intended, or
perhaps knew. Little continued injustices harden a
child's heart more surely than even one overwhelming
wrong ; and after a certain time of persistence, mut-
ual distrust, if not mutual hostility, must necessarily
Yet the compound called human nature is a strange
one, and that of Mrs Fanshawe presented the extremes
of conflicting forces. Had any one ventured to slander
or impute evil-doing to Lillian Fanshawe, her mother
would then have risen up like a lioness in her de-
fence : she would have championed her cause with all
the bravery of that animal. At the same time, she
would have stung her ruthlessly with the dart of a
mosquito tongue, and wounded her to the quick, in the
very hour of victory.
There might be a spice of selfishness even in this :
Lillian, after all, was her daughter.
Miss Clavering seeks bodily rest, but her spirit is
perturbed at the sight of Miss Fanshawe's handwrit-
ing. That caligraphy was to her as the sign on the
wall, telling her that her kingdom was taken from her,
and that another would soon rule in her stead.
" Well, be it so," the girl said aloud, after long mus-
ing. " Yet nothing but Cousin Everard's command shall
turn me out. As long as I remain unmarried, I will
stick to him — nay, whatever may betide, I will be
unto him even as a daughter. It must never be for-
gotten that Frank and I owe everything to him."
Eesolutely jDutting aside the wish that her guardian
might have made a better, or rather a more suitable
match, Willina schooled herself to accept whatever
her portion might be ; and she determined at the
same time to bear her part in this life religiously
and valiantly, and her conscience quite justified
her in pouring the whole wealth of her strong affec-
tion on Stephen La Touche.
She knew that this would not be looked upon as a
very desirable alliance ; for in spite of good character
and personal attractions, there must be some thought
of the ways and means whereby to live. Mr La
Touche had only just made a start in life, and what
his father might be able to do in the way of provision
for his younger children was a most profound mystery.
Common prudence demanded that they should wait;
and if she had for one moment indulged in the day-
dream of living her married life beneath her guardian's
roof, the unerring voice of instinct warned her to re-
ject the fallacious hope, and prepare to bow her head
to the inauguration of a new rdgime.
Still she loved, and was beloved. Truly there is
balm in Gilead for those who can assure themselves
of the possession of strong affection and the constancy
,.^,-rv/ nC It I lt4illh
52 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
which high esteem generally carries in its wake. She
could wait, and she would wait, resolved Willina ; and
in this determination she suddenly fell asleep.
The party assembled at the early dinner did such
good justice to that repast, and were so little the
worse of their adventure, that a project — suggested,
perhaps, by the magnificent sun and sky — was in
discussion to invade the French coast, and spend two
or three days either at Granville or Coutances.
Some additional guests belonging to the island were
expected on the morrow, and this excursion was pro-
posed chiefly on their account — the neighbourhood
around Brydone being naturally familiar ground to
As a sea-trip of many hours' duration was a mere
bagatelle to her guardian, it was rather a surprise to
Willina to hear Mr Glascott begging himself off from
accompanying this expedition. He easily dissuaded
Canon Braintree from venturing on a voyage, and
announced his intention of driving him to see some
celebrated points of interest in the island.
Willina easily divined the meaning of this resolu-
tion, and her jump at a conclusion leapt to the correct
Mr Glascott, although he would scarcely have ad-
mitted the fact to himself, was nervously concerned
regarding the arrival of the mail from England. He,
however, advanced the usual plea when his solicitude
appeared to be remarked.
" Most important business ! " he would say. " Very
unfortunate at this time ; but it is absolutely neces-
sary that I should receive my correspondence daily, —
there's no knowing what embarrassment a delay of
twelve hours may occasion."
Which was all nonsense, as Willett the butler
knew. For some time past one solitary missive,
overshadowed by the number of letters addressed to
other people, and some files of newspapers for Mr Glas-
cott himself, constituted the amount of the important
correspondence to which that worthy and enamoured
gentleman laid claim. Willett was a well-trained and
sensible domestic, who seldom indulged in speculations
concerning his employer's affairs ; but when so much
stress was laid upon the importance of business com-
munications, he was naturally led to wonder what on
earth was up. That his master should be immersed
in an amatory correspondence was beyond the wildest
flights of his imagination.
The two gentlemen from the hotel came up in the
evening, and Mr Willoughby made very merry in re-
lating a passage-at-arms he had gone through with old
"I had hardly got out of my bath," that young
gentleman proclaimed, "before the old fellow was
down at the hotel demanding those two panes of
glass, and a skilled workman, if you please, to replace
them properly before the setting of the sun ! "
"That was quick work," replied Mr Clavering.
" What did you say ? "
" I sent down a message stating that I was an
54 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
infant, and that I was, moreover, going to bed, and
I further begged Mr Dobree to remember that I had
not slept so comfortably on the previous night as
he had done."
" What effect did that produce ? "
" The waiter came back and reported that Dobree
would not go without the two panes of glass, infant
or no infant. Whereat I donned a sulphur-coloured
suit, striped with a warm brown, in which I figured
at a fancy ball last year as a Bengal tiger. Curling
the tail round my arm, I dashed down -stairs, and
harangued Mr Dobree with such a string of long-
worded adjectives that he was fain to beat a retreat."
" Did you mount the tiger's head ?" asked Mrs
" Oh yes ; that slips on like a cowl, and the glass
eyes are very telling. That suit is delightful, because,
substitutmg horns and a different physiognomy, it will
answer another part famously. I went once to a
fancy ball as his Satanic majesty, but somehow the
girls did not seem to like dancing with me ; so I
stick to the Bengal tiger role, which they rather
seem to fancy."
" What did Dobree say ? " inquired Mrs Brain -
tree ; " the man must have been nearly frightened
" No, he wasn't ; he seemed much more alarmed at
the possibility of damage done to the glass, and the
consequent wrath of that e'piciire in stained glass, as
he calls him, Mr Goitt. Besides, the hotel people
roared with laughter ; but I think the string of long-
worded adjectives to which I treated him had the
effect of reducing him to temporary submission. I was
rather riled at being worried, so I was determined to
take my own time. Besides, I heard the head-waiter
avow that all would be made right, but that the
gentleman would not be bothered till he had had a
Mr Glascott had undertaken to repair the lock of
the church-door and other concomitant damages. He
now advised Mr Willoughby to restore the stained
glass to its rightful position, and volunteered to send
a glazier over to St Oswin's at the same time. " You
can have the dog-cart, and go early to-morrow morn-
ing," he said.
" Thank you ; and I will call at old Dobree's cottage
on the way, and take him with us, as a kind of master
of works. I daresay I shall mollify him by this deli-
cate little attention."
" That glass is most rare and valuable," Mr Glas-
cott replied, " and Dobree is only doing his duty in
looking after it. Mr Goitt pays him a small sum for
attending to the whole ruin, and especially for the
care of the glass."
Mr Glascott then said, as a matter of general infor-
mation, that he should go out early on the morrow.
A friend of his, one Captain Le Geyt, had a small
steam-launch, and he hoped to get that gentleman
to allow him the use of it for the expedition to the
56 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
This move suited Mr La Touche. " You see," he
said to Miss Clavering, " I need not ask consent to-
morrow : Mr Glascott will be busy about the steam-
launch, and we have really had very little of each
other's society. Let us be as young people who ought
to have an opportunity of knowing more of each other ;
and let me report at headquarters, after we have
returned from Coutances."
It was evident from this address that Stephen had
some misgivings as to the favourable reception of
his proposals by Mr Glascott; at any rate, if he did
not actually wish to defer the evil hour, he certainly
was very anxious to enjoy the sweets of the present
As Miss Clavering was, in her turn, troubled by
untoward forebodings, she made no opposition to this
plan. She was sincerely glad to take her pleasure
unencumbered by the presence of Lillian Fanshawe.
" I am beginning to abhor that girl," thought she. " It's
very wicked, I know ; but I cannot help feeling it
probable that I shall never again enjoy much unfet-
tered action at Brydone." She merely insisted that
Stephen should be very guarded in his attentions, and
strongly recommended him to be very attentive to
Miss Le Geyt. That young lady was to be invited to
join in the excursion, and Miss Clavering had heard
from her brother that she was both pretty and very
" Another thing," urged Miss Clavering, " I want
you to be very civil to Mrs Braintree. You seldom go
near her; you really should pay her some attention,
for she is coming, rather against her will I believe, as
Miss Clavering did not allege her true reason for
this injunction ; but if by these previsions she imagined
that she was blinding the mental vision of that lady,
it is certain that her labour was in vain. Mrs Brain-
tree had overheard a part of what had been whispered
in the crypt of St Oswin's by Stephen La Touche to
Willina. She had thereupon coughed, and, as it was
dark, she had grinned unrestrainedly, and then, like a
good woman, she had resolved to do " deaf adder "
when brought into close contact with these young
people, and, what was wiser still, to hold her tongue
until, at least, matters should proclaim themselves.
Following up what she had seen at the picnic in the
woods of Barkholme, Mrs Braintree held a very de-
cided opinion as to the intentions of her present host
and Miss Fanshawe ; but here there was less of sym-
pathy than of business in her feelings. She looked
upon a marriage between Mr Glascott and Lillian as
so much gain to the Anglican Church : a clergyman's
daughter would be dowered, and by this means also
some of the revenues of Dives would be applied to the
maintenance of that establishment.
Already she had built a church at Brydone, found a
curate, decided that Mr Glascott should pay expenses,
and finally married the curate to a friend of her own.
These visions were very pleasant, but if Mrs Braintree
intended to realise them through the medium of Miss
58 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Fanshawe, her expectations were futile. It never oc-
curred to her that there would be any difficulty in
inducing a young lady, brought up in clerical circles,
whoever she might be, to enlarge the borders of the
fold ecclesiastical. She could not recognise that, by
virtue of too close a propinquity, Lillian abhorred
Sunday-schools, clubs, mothers' meetings, Dorcas so-
cieties, and even cottars' flower-shows.
" Not even the flower-shows," Lillian had said to
her curate sister, Etta, in answer to some of the ex-
postulations of the latter on the subject. " There's a
stamp of pious begging even on them, and I venture
to predict that in a few years' time England will be-
come a vast charity-box, creating by this action the
misery which charity is intended to assuage."
"Well, but the parish flower-shows are good in
one way," said Etta; "they bring people together
from long distances who wish to be brought to-
'' Certainly ; and they bring people together who
don't wish to be brought together : there's too much
humbug in all these things. You and mamma will
chat at these shows with all the amiability in life to
Mrs Dacres and her nice pretty girls, and yet you
would not consider them up to the level of a garden-
party at the Court. Of course, you know, and I
know, that mamma is only polite in proportion to the
sale of tickets — that is, to the Brown and the Jones
and the Eobinson portion of humanity."
This was not quite correct, although much that
Lillian advanced on these subjects was of the "much
smoke, little fire " description.
Certain it is, that if Mrs Braintree had been ac-
quainted with Miss Fanshawe's sentiments on the
political economy of parishes, she would not have been
so ready as she was to hail her in society as Mr Glas-
cott's wife. It never occurred to this good lady that
this possible match was very unsuitable in point of
age ; that by it Miss Clavering might be ousted from
the home that had been entirely made for her, and
that the young cousin might object very strongly also
to the introduction of a wife at Brydone in any shape
Vanity of vanities ! in the Church, the law, the
services, in trade and commerce, is not the possession
of the good things of life — hard, bare money — the
principle which attracts the mental reverence of this
nineteenth century ? Honour is accounted barren,
love a delusion, loyalty and good faith bigotry; all, all
is going down before the insatiable thirst for money,
or its equivalent, money's worth. What wonder, then,
that Mrs Canon Braintree should unconsciously swim
with the stream ?
Mr Glascott secures the steam-launch, the sea is
wonderfully calm, and the Brydone guests experience
much enjoyment, sailing first to Coutances and then
on to Granville. There is something peculiarly quaint
in these old towns of the Manche province, their grey
sobriety being at times checkered by the bright spots
of life brought in by the influx of visitors at certain
60 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
seasons, and the sedate bustle — if the expression may
be permitted — which usually pervades a French sea-
Mr Willoughby was charmed with the machinery
worn on the head by the Granvillaise fisher-girls, and
in the excitement of his enthusiasm he purchased a
complete head-dress of the country, praising stiff white
caps and lappets at the expense of the odious British
bonnet, and further informing his friends that this
trip had added inamorata number nineteen to his list.
" Go on, my friend," ejaculated Mr La Touche, as he
listened to these revelations — " go on ; you are doing
exceedingly well. You are a happy walking illustra-
tion of the proverb, ' There is safety in the multitude ' ;
by all means let us get to number twenty, or even
Mrs Braintree, in this case, was not sympathetic.
She knew that Mr Willoughby would eventually
" come into money"; but, as she expressed it, "he would
never do to marry into the Church. A young man
with such proclivities ought never to come within hail
of a clergyman's daughter : the loss was great, but the
risk infinitely greater."
As it turned out, years after, Mr Willoughby did
marry into the Church — mating with a clergyman's
widow, who had the advantage of him in ten years of
prior existence on this planet, and a family of six
splendid boys, who kicked his shins and pulled his
hair, and dubbed him " a beast " when he resented these
delicate attentions. For all that he was very happy.
POT-POUREI. 6 1
The woman he had cherished and comforted loved him
with a great and surpassing love ; and he thanked
Providence that he had been allowed to map out his
own path in life, and that Mrs Grundy had no power
over him either in the present or for ever more.
The trip answers all the purposes of Stephen and
Willina, as their companions are far too much occu-
pied with themselves and the novelties they witness
to extend much notice towards their fellow-creatures.
Consequently they chat confidentially, and Miss
Clavering is put, among other things, in full pos-
session of the designs of the elder Mr La Touche
with regard to Stephen and Madame Heine.
" I tell you this," said Stephen, apologetically,
" because I see that both my father and my aunt
are determined to bring this Heine match about."
" What reason have they for interfering in the
matter ? "
" The sole and simple reason that Madame Heine is
the actual possessor of £20,000. I am managing some
law business for her, and my father thinks — like all of
his name, I am ashamed to say — that it is the duty of
younger sons to make money, — the prime, I may say
the only, consideration for which they are to marry.
Madame Heine has passed by, consequently I am
supposed to commit a grievous sin in not securing
the gilded prize."
" Is she nice ? — I mean as a woman ungilded," in-
" Yes, rather ; a mediocre matter-of-fact kind of
62 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
body, very respectable, and all that. She has no
more intention of marrying me than she has of
marrying the man in the moon," quoth Stephen ;
"but my father is so infatuated with the idea, that
he is quite capable of saying that an engagement
between us is imminent."
" I am so glad you have told me," the girl answered
simply ; " because if this w^ere repeated to Cousin
Everard, I shall know what the information is worth.
I am glad you have told me ; for my cousin is incap-
able of offering inaccurate statements to serve his own
ends, and naturally he accredits every one else with
the same honesty."
" It is a hard thing to mention a parent with any-
thing but honour," Stephen said, after a pause. " My
father is a kind-hearted man, and in a certain way he
is a good man ; but, as I have told you before, the ap-
preciation of money permeates every thought and action
of his life. A certain timidity of character causes him
sometimes to give in to any stronger will that may be
resolutely opposed to him. I have to a certain extent
opposed him in his designs about Mrs Heine ; but
now, of course, I shall take a very decided course of
'•' You might suggest that he should marry her him-
self," Miss Clavering answered.
" I don't know how he might take it," said Stephen ;
" and the decision of the lady in question might be
" Which means that a friend of mine has very good
reason for believing that he has only to ask and
have," qiioth Miss Clavering, with a little air of
" Oh, I don't know — don't you chaff a fellow like
that. But, seriously, I have always observed in read-
ing the love-passages of other people's lives, that more
than half their troubles arise from a want of confi-
dence. This is mostly shrouded under the garb of
delicacy — a false delicacy often, which leads to much
wrong action and mischief. Now, we will avoid
" Certainly, by all means," replied Willina, looking
at her lover with her golden brown eyes enthusiastic
with faith and honest affection.
" Let us then make a compact, and resolve, soul and
conscience, to fully, freely, and unreservedly confide
in each other ; and, above all, to give no credence to
any report or information which has the nullifying of
our engagement for its aim."
Willina placed her hand in his and pressed it
firmly. This was satisfaction enough.
" One thing you must understand, dear," she said at
length, " and I say it unreservedly — I won't marry
without Cousin Everard's consent."
" Quite right," he replied. " I am quite prepared
for a difficulty about the money ; but I feel sure that
is only a question of time. I am only jealous of the
delay on your account. I know so many will be
anxious to occupy the place I now hold. Your
guardian, too, will tliink that you ought to marry
64 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
SO very much better. He may also think it right
in your interests to encourage rich men. Besides,
whenever that time may be, he will naturally be so
loth to part with you on his own account."
Willina was very much tempted to set Mr La
Touche's uneasiness on the last point completely at
rest ; but a moment's reflection decided her to remain
silent. In the first place, she held no actual assur-
ance that her apprehensions concerning Mr Glascott's
marriage were correct ; in the second, it would be un-
becoming to disclose Mr Glascott's private affairs even
to Mr La Touche. Certainly, in one aspect of the
situation, it would have been a satisfaction to apprise
Mr La Touche that her guardian would in a short
time be quite independent of her companionship.
An allusion made by Stephen to their first meeting
at Pinnacles Court caused the conversation to veer
round to Miss Fanshawe. " I fancied," said Stephen,
" that I should have the honour of regarding that
young lady as my sister-in-law ; but somehow the
impression does not seem to be likely to be realised.
My brother, I am aware, is both fickle and suspicious ;
but I fancy Mrs Fanshawe frightened him off."
" Stupid woman ! " replied Miss Clavering, with so
much energy that Stephen looked amazed. " Yes ; it
is stupid of a woman with so many portionless daugh-
ters to frighten off any suitor — that is, if the girl
seems likely to accept him. Besides, Mr La Touche
was premature in his conclusions. I feel convinced
that Mrs Fanshawe would be so glad to get rid of her
eldest daughter, that she would gladly have under-
taken to leave her alone to the end of time it'
" Well, it is only my idea, you know. I like Mrs
Fanshawe, but I don't think I should relish the posi-
tion of being her son-in-law. Men, in general,
search very keenly into the character and deportment
of the mother of the lady whom they may elect to
wed. Many a match comes to nought because Smith
or Brown distrusts his future mother-in-law : this hap-
pens much more often than is generally known or
" Would you have liked the connection ? " inquired
Willina — " I mean personally."
" It would have gratified me in some respects," was
the reply, "but not altogether. I think Miss Fan-
shawe would have been quite equal to keep Percival
in his place, which would have been a blessing to
society at large. On the other hand, I cannot forget
the coldness and neglect with which she treated my
poor aunt during the residence of the latter in Pin-
nacles village ; and mind you, Lillian Fanshawe would
never have looked at Percival, did he not possess a
" You think she gave him encouragement, then ? "
"Not a doubt of it, and my aunt Marcia almost
announced their engagement as a settled matter ; but
when Percival saw you, my queen, he transferred his
allegiance, and that quickly, and to my belief Mrs
Fanshawe finished the rest."
VOL. III. E
66 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
"Your brother was a fool for his pains," said
"He was," returned that relative, with charming
candour. " You very soon let him see that he could
not, as the French say, vous faire la cour ; but I had
a very uneasy time of it while it lasted, especially as I
felt convinced that Percival redoubled his attentions
to you, when he saw how much his behaviour an-
Willina laughed, but she said no more. It was not
for her to proclaim that Percival had veritably paid
his addresses to her and had been summarily repulsed.
That was a little secret appertaining also to Mr La
Touche, and which, as a gentlewoman, Miss Clavering
felt bound to respect. She was confident of Miss
Fanshawe's silence on this subject, and so she rather
encouraged the idea that Percival's attentions to her-
self had, for meaning, the delight of giving pain to his
Coutances and Granville had been thoroughly ex-
plored and as thoroughly enjoyed, and that without
the rush and the superficial examination with which
the average Britons prosecute their rambles abroad.
Mr Clavering satisfied himself that this part of the
coast of France was not nearly so abundant in mineral
wealth as the rocks at Jersey. He resolved to visit
Brydone annually, and as much oftener as possible, to
investigate the unknown geological treasure which he
felt convinced lay beneath the rocks and vales of the
Subsequent discoveries have fully justified Mr
Clavering's surmises ; but twenty years ago the fasci-
nating science of geology was, save to a few scholars,
a veritable terra incognita to the world in general, and
it certainly was then regarded as the driest study in
the educational programme.
Fair Mary in a measure recovered her spirits ; but
with such a rampagious and volatile father she natur-
ally felt anxious to know how affairs at Hunter's
Lodge were progressing: she dreaded the rebound
when the Colonel's spirit should be restored to its
Lillian Fanshawe was such a restraining power in
that household, that Mrs Clavering fell imperceptibly
into the opinion that the Colonel could do worse than
make her his second wife, and she propounded this
vision to her husband one afternoon, as they sat to-
gether on the sands, throwing stones into the water
and watching the tide.
" Never say such a thing — never think it I " returned
Francis, his face reddening with indignation. "Do
you suppose it possible that a girl of such learning
and exalted intellect would consent to preside over a
bear-garden and a hunting-stable combined, for life ?
The idea is preposterous — absurd ! "
" Perhaps it is," Mary answered gently. " I only
remembered, when I spoke, how often and how long
my father's house has been a refuge to Lillian when
she was unhappy in her own home."
"That may be," returned Francis, mollified by his
68 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
wife's soft answer ; " and your mother was, of course,
a very alleviating element. But the idea of that girl
marrying Colonel Leppell is simply outrageous. What
a sacrifice it would be ! "
"I don't think you need be apprehensive on my
friend's account," continued Mary, who had not dis-
carded the feasibility of a union between Mr La
Touche and Lillian. " She has seen and felt too
severely the trials of genteel poverty to undertake an
elderly widower with a large family. She will no
doubt, in time, form a prudent alliance."
Mr Clavering did not feel inclined to go into par-
ticulars on this matter, and so invited his wife to walk
down to the pier and watch the yacht Clytie come into
STEPHEN AND WILLINA.
The party returned to Brydone in due course ; the
local visitors very shortly afterwards took a final leave,
and Canon and Mrs Braintree departed at the same
time for their rectory in London.
Mr La Touche and Mr Willoughby had decided to
cross to Avranches, and from thence visit Dinan for a
few days. Mr Willoughby possessed an aunt at the
latter place, who, after having put ten children into
the world, and being nearly sixty years of age, had
betaken herself to that retreat in order to study the
Some of the lady's friends, however, averred that
motives of economy compelled her to live in seclusion,
and that the French studies served as a mask to con-
ceal this fact. However that may be, evasion from
real fact is both common and idiotic ; for as the veil
is generally transparent in the long-run, it would be
far more politic to ignore Mrs Grundy and speak the
70 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Mr Willoughby had been enjoined by a parental
missive to make this particular visit ; and as that
young gentleman declared that he would not budge
in the direction of Dinan unless Mr La Touche went
with him, Stephen felt he must perforce accompany
" It will be only a matter of a few days," Stephen
said to Willina, as this move was discussed. " It is
horribly provoking ; but after all, I would rather speak
to Mr Glascott when the house is entirely clear of
Miss Clavering agreed in this, as, after the lapse of
a week, the Claverings would be the only remaining
These would not stay much longer, for Frank was
obliged to go to London to arrange about a lecture he
was shortly to give at the Osteological Institute, and
Mary was anxious to see her new home. Her hus-
band, who knew the place, was not quite so eager ;
but common propriety demanded that he should ac-
company his wife thither, and be seen with her at
church on the Sunday following their arrival.
The evening on which they were first alone as a
family party was the time at which Mr Glascott chose
to make the announcement that Lillian Fanshawe was
his betrothed wife.
His happy countenance and his assured voice testi-
fied that he did not apprehend the slightest objection
from his relatives to this circumstance. Indeed the
rapture with which his cousin Francis received the
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 71
news was so earnest, that his guardian became more
impressed with the conviction that he was bestowing
a boon upon the family by the introduction of this
lady within its circle. Mrs Clavering was not behind
her husband in her expressions of delight at what
she termed the extraordinary good-fortune of them
Turning to Willina, she said, " You will not be so
much tied to Brydone now, and I shall have no hesi-
tation in taking you from Cousin Everard for long
visits at Tring; and poor Lillian will be free from
Pinnacles. Oh, what a happy arrangement this is ! "
"Yes," said Mr Glascott ; " and I am delighted to.be
able to tell you, Mary, that I owe this to your father.
I was from the first much struck with Miss Fanshawe's
resemblance to my dear early friend, your mother ; but
I should hardly have ventured to ask her to become
my wife, had not Colonel Leppell encouraged my
hopes, and predicted success."
Alas ! hear the proverb of the old Greeks : " A foe's
gift is no gift, and brings no profit."
Willina said little ; but she rose, bent over her
guardian's chair, and kissed his forehead. Like the
true gentlewoman she was, she had resolved to accept
her portion graciously, and to remember how much
she owed to Cousin Everard : none present had the
slightest idea what bitter news this was to her.
They talked together of wedding arrangements, and
Mr Glascott informed them of Lady Hautenbas' pro-
position. " I have had so many expenses all at once
72 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
this year, that I cannot manage another diamond
jparure. I have some emeralds somewhere," he con-
tinued ; " I daresay I can have a set arranged out of
In his earlier days Mr Glascott had entertained a
fancy for collecting gems ; this fancy now served him
in good stead.
Willina rose and left the room. She returned im-
mediately, carrying the case of diamonds which Mr
Glascott had presented to her on the occasion of Mary
" Take these diamonds, dear Cousin Everard," she
said ; " they have never been worn, and I am not likely
to want them : do accept them for my sake ; your
bride is entitled to them, and I may not marry where
jewels would be required." As she spoke she pressed
the case into her guardian's hand.
Mr Glascott was reluctant to take back his gift, but
the united persuasions of the young people at length
overcame his scruples.
" Well, Willina," he said, " you are a generous soul !
I promise you that in the end you shall not be the
worse for your noble kindness." He was evidently
A few days afterwards, the Claverings set out for
Tring, and Mr La Touche arrived at Brydone on the
eve of their departure.
He immediately sought Mr Glascott, and laid his
proposals for his ward before him. Demur and diffi-
culty he had schooled himself to expect ; but he was
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 73
totally unprepared for the decided refusal with which
his propositions were met.
Naturally very much perplexed, Mr La Touche re-
quested an explanation of the reason of his being en-
joined not to see Miss Clavering again. This prohibi-
tion seemed so arbitrary and so very uncalled for, that
the young man could not restrain himself from inti-
mating as much.
Mr Glascott did not shrink from what he believed to
be his duty towards Willina. " I have no objection to
you personally," he said ; " but if I have a horror of
any one thing in humanity, it is of mania. You are
well aware, sir, that insanity has been, and is, and
will be in your family for generations ; I cannot allow
it to be perpetuated by a relative of mine, a ward
Stephen combated this with all the arguments in
his power, preserving all through the conversation a
respectful demeanour and perfect temper. All was to
little purpose ; nothing that he could say modified in
the slightest degree the rooted determination which
seemed to impel Mr Glascott to reject his suit. He
became so utterly dejected, after all his entreaties had
failed, that Mr Glascott could not refuse him one
interview with Willina. " I accord you half an hour,"
he said to the young man. " I may be unwise in
this; but I wish you to understand that I desire
to act justly and in kindness both to you and to
The interview was sad enough: the only comfort
74 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
that it brought was the opportunity which it gave
the lovers to declare their mutual faith and trust
in each other, and to concert some plan of future
" Somehow," said Stephen, " my family have ob-
tained intelligence of the relation in which we stand
to each other. I had a letter from my father yester-
day, in which he says that he will never give his
consent to my engagement with you."
There was little inclination on the part of Miss
Clavering to speculate upon this matter. Indeed Mr
Glascott sent for the young lady so suddenly, that her
parting with Stephen was very brief. " Trust and
patience will win through," said she. " Keep up, dear
heart ; see how strong and firm I am. I have no fear ;
for, Stephen, in spite of all, we are only doing the
thing that is right."
So he went his way, and Willina hied to her
guardian's study. Mr Glascott seemed disturbed and
perplexed, and after some remarks on the subject at
issue he said —
" I don't like the La Touches as a family ; but that
is neither here nor there. What I want to urge upon
you now is to recognise the fact, that the scourge of
insanity is rampant amongst the whole connection of
that name more or less."
" Surely there are some of them as sane as their
neighbours ? " the young lady said, in a tone of surprise
not unmixed with remonstrance.
" They are all more or less, as I said before, tarred
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 75
with thS same stick. Those of them who pass muster
barely save themselves. Just look at that Percival,
sharp and shrewd in business as he is reputed to be.
Look at the glare in his eye if any one contradict
"Stephen La Touche is highly thought of at the
bar," the girl replied ; " you do not mean to say
that his brain is unsound ? "
" Not at present, — and mind you he is the best of
the family. But the La Touches have had maniacs or
imbeciles among them for generations back — the con-
sequence of the greed which, in order to keep money
in the family, impelled the elder people to marry none
but first cousins. Yes ; brother-cousins wedding with
sister-cousins, and always in the first degree — what
else could come of it ? "
Willina replied that " it was unfortunate, most un-
fortunate. Mrs Kemble, however, was childless," she
added, as an alleviation.
" That is certainly a blessing," Mr Everard allowed,
in allusion to Willina's last remark ; " but she won't
die off, you'll see. In fact, she is quite likely to see
us all out. Do you know that old La Touche has a
brother in confinement at this moment ? "
" I do know it," answered Willina ; " and although
none of his younger brothers or sisters are aware of it,
Mr La Touche told me of this uncle's existence. He
is imbecile, and lives at a private asylum near
" There's another that won't die," said Mr Glascott,
76 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
gruffly for him. "That fellow will live till he is a
hundred; it's the way of them."
" Mr La Touche has concealed nothing," Willina
went on bravely to say. " He has even told me," she
continued, " that he fears that his youngest sister, who
is afflicted with epileptic fits, will eventually lose her
reason. He feels it deeply, and regrets it as much as
you can do. Cousin Everard, with regard to myself."
" Then why, in the name of common-sense," replied
Mr Glascott, " will you persist in affiancing yourself
to this gentleman ? — in deliberately entering a family
which, in spite of all the precautions of its members
to conceal the fact, has more than one near relation in
confinement ? "
" Because I believe," the girl answered, a bright
flush irradiating her face as she spoke, " that Stephen
is the one among them of good large brain, and of
sound moral and physical health, and that he will —
nay, that he does — direct all his energies to counteract
the scourge of which you speak."
" He is of the blood of the La Touches all the same ;
you cannot alter that."
"No, Cousin Everard, I wish I could," returned
Willina, simply ; " but one thing, I am in no wise con-
nected with the family, and I come, as I believe, of
sound stock. We do not want to do anything rash,
or to displease you in any way. All I ask is, that
you will not positively refuse your consent to our
" Really, Willina, I cannot see my way to counten-
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 77
ance it even. I don't mean to disparage Mr La
Touche ; but you know — you must see it — that in
making this match you are literally throwing yourself
away. He has no money, and I don't believe that
eventually old La Touche can do much for his younger
children. As to your own means, the interest of
£3000 is little enough."
" We have considered all that," Willina replied ;
" and we hope that time will cause our friends to
change their opinion. We are young, and can afford
She spoke humbly, and, at the same time, rather
sadly ; for she could not but remember the handsome
provision which had been made to her brother on his
marriage with Mary Leppell. The great generosity of
her nature obliterated all thought of the jewels which
she had just surrendered to Mr Glascott's affianced
wife, strong, no doubt, in the trust that in due time
an equivalent for these would be made to her. At
this moment she had forgotten all about personal
adornments and luxury; she only wanted her guar-
dian's consent to her marriage with Stephen La
Touche. For this she would wait any time, and
accept any conditions.
" Wait ! are you prepared to wait ten or twelve
years ? " Mr Glascott inquired, after a moment's
"Yes, if needs be; but Mr La Touche has every
prospect of being in a good position before that. You
allow, Cousin Everard, that he is steady and hard-
78 THE PAT OF THE LAND.
working, and you, and all the world," she added,
drawing herself up with stately grace — " all the world
must hold him to be a thoroughly honourable and
"Certainly. Still, Willina, I wish I could induce
you to give up this affair altogether. It has been too
precipitate, too hurried, — you have not seen enough of
life to bind yourself so seriously. In a few years
hence you may repent having ever seen this man, let
alone his family."
" Never ! "
" Well, it is useless," returned Mr Glascott, " to say
more on this subject now. Think it over well : I can,
I know, depend upon your doing nothing precipitate."
" My promise is given," said Willina, slowly, " for
life and death. That I cannot retract ; but I will not
marry without your consent."
She then went to her room and surveyed the position
calmly before she wrote to her sister-in-law, upon
whose influence she greatly depended to bring her
brother to look favourably on her engagement. To
say the truth, she had expected some opposition from
him, as Frank regarded money above most other things ;
for Mr Glascott's decided disapproval she had not been
so well prepared.
Still Miss Clavering's strong sense of justice re-
minded her that her guardian was thoroughly in the
right in what he had advanced concerning those in-
dividuals who rashly marry into families wherein
the taints of insanity and scrofula are immutably
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 79
fixed. But she also insisted that something was due
to a clear brain, and the means taken to counteract
physical weakness. Her own strong sound constitu-
tion should also count for something.
But it was the inference which had been made that
Stephen would never be able to provide a home, that
mostly annoyed Willina. "It is a scandal to say so;
see how hard he works, and how clever he is ! " she
exclaimed under her breath. " The family affliction
is a drawback, I admit; still the elder ones have
married, and the younger ones will do so. I should
like to see any society woman refusing Percival for
this reason," and the girl laughed outright at this
Then, with that proclivity to blame another woman
which is part and parcel of the sex in general, Willina
thought of Lillian Fanshawe. " It is all that girl's
doing, I do believe ; she has never forgiven me for
takino' the said Percival from her. Cousin Everard
has been quite a different man since he became en-
gaged to her, at least to me ; and I believe Miss La
Touche has been juggled into believing that Stephen
has behaved very badly to Madame Heine."
As to the objections which Mr La Touche felt and
expressed as soon as he heard of the proposed match,
Stephen held that they arose out of " sheer contradic-
tion and mortified pride."
This part of the business did not trouble Miss
Clavering in any great degree, and perhaps the fact
that she had repulsed Mr La Touche's eldest son,
80 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
compensated her fully for the difficulties that had
been raised with regard to her alliance with Stephen.
She was content to leave this to speculation ; her real
trouble was the decidedly adverse position of Mr Glas-
cott, and more than all, the manner in which he had
expressed his objections at their late interview. This
grieved her sorely. " Had he been angry or disagree-
able," the girl said to herself, " I should not have
minded his objections half so much. Had he even
brought any valid reasons why I should give up this
match, it would not be so hard. Why are we to suffer
for the avarice and greed of past generations of the La
Touche family ? and why should Cousin Everard treat
the matter with such displeasure, and yet be so kind
in his manner of reasoning with me ? Oh, that he
had been very angry, and had even abused Stephen !
As it is, I mUvSt be firm ; but it seems almost cruel
to appear to stand out against him — cruel and un-
Thus reasoned Miss Clavering after her conference
with her guardian. She would have been better
pleased to have been treated with harshness, or at
least with some diminution of confidence.
Some of us have gone through this experience.
Some of us know how hard it is to resist the pleading
of a parent, or the kind abstention from rebuke when
it has to be said that we cannot give them their
heart's desire ; that the love which they, in their
wisdom, have sought to influence or direct has flown
out into other channels ; that we deprecate their dis-
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 81
pleasure, but cannot give up the blessings, as they
appear to us, of our own chosen partner, or our own
chosen path in life: their silent disappointment falls
then like barbed steel, and it enters into the soul.
Ah, yes ; it is when they turn from us with sad
displeased mien and averted gaze, speaking more in
sorrow than in anger, that our philosophy gives way,
and we begin to doubt whether we are not only in
error, but are also very hardened and persistent in
The parting of Stephen and Willina was indeed so
hurried, that there had been merely time to inform
Mr La Touche of Mr Glascott's own engagement with
Miss Fanshawe, and that without comment or much
amazement. They had closely followed the course
pursued by most young people, and left all outside
themselves, and their own affairs, entirely out in the
Stephen's last words expressed a determination to
go up to town that night, and have it out with his
father and Marcia. He wondered why his father
should never give his consent to his marrying Miss
Clavering. What could have been said ? and who had
said it ? It was not possible that his father or any
one else should imasfine for a moment that he would
espouse Madame Heine : however, to save further mis-
takes, he would, in the strongest of language that was
admissible to a parent, flatly refuse to do anything of
He returned to the hotel, and told young Willoughby
VOL. III. E
82 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the whole matter. The lad was sympathetic, and
worked himself into the opinion that Mr La Touche
had been very badly treated. " I thought there was
something in the wind," that youth observed, "and
that Mr Glascott was encouraging the affair. Dear
me, what a mistaken old gentleman he has turned out
to be ! I suppose I can't do anything."
"Nothing," returned Stephen, gratefully; "the re-
jection by Mr Glascott has for reason another matter
besides a present lack of cash. Don't say anything
about it, but it is that which has upset me so entirely.
Like a good fellow," he continued, "just stay a day
here. I want to go up to town directly, and so start
by the steamer which crosses to Southampton at mid-
night; it will look too abrupt if we both go off to-
" Yes," returned Mr Willoughby. " Besides, I have
to call at Brydone and make my adieux, as in duty
and in pleasure bound. I'll manage the packing and
paying, and all that. One thing, I suppose the lady
is all right?"
" As firm as a rock. We both suspect mischief from
home, which is the reason why I am going at once to
have an interview with my father; but understand,
Willoughby, a valid reason does exist for Mr Glascott's
refusing to entertain my addresses to his ward. I am
not earning sufficient at the bar to entitle me to marry
at present ; and Miss Clavering's fortune is only three
thousand pounds. Under the most favourable cir-
cumstances, we would have to wait."
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 83
" Three thousand pounds ! " ejaculated Mr Willough-
by. " I understood that Mr Glascott is a very rich
man. Why, he made over an estate worth two thou-
sand a-year to Mr Clavering on his marriage, only a
short time ago."
" Quite true, Willoughby. Mr Clavering has always
been regarded as Mr Glascott's heir, and people don't
often part with their possessions in their own lifetime ;
this was a generous act. Mr Glascott has said that he
would dower Miss Clavering on her wedding-day if
she marry to his approbation."
Mr Willoughby here indulged in a prolonged low
whistle. " That looks very like selecting the recipient
without much regard to the lady," he said at length.
" Still, I wonder he was not glad to secure you."
Mr La Touche clapped his friend on the back. " The
money be hanged ! " he said ; " neither of us cares
about that so much, — but I fancy all chance of the
dower has vanished entirely, seeing that Mr Glascott
is going to take a wife unto himself."
" Never ! " gasped George Willoughby. " You never
mean to tell me that he is going to marry that little
Le Geyt girl.
" No ; comfort yourself, my dear young friend. That
damsel, I take it, is more the captive of your own bow
and spear, figuratively speaking.
" Um ! He appeared to look upon her with the
greatest appreciation," returned Mr Willoughby.
" Who on earth, then, is he going to marry ? "
" You must have met the lady at my father's house ;
84 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
she was on a visit to us last year. Do you remember
Miss Fanshawe ? "
" Miss Fanshawe ! of course, — a handsome cold kind
of a girl. Why, I thought — unless I have dreamt it
— that she was destined for your eldest brother. Yes,
she was first pointed out to me as Mr La Touche's
inamorata" exclaimed George Willoughby.
" Fate has given her another destiny," returned Mr
La Touche. " I only heard this an hour ago from Miss
Clavering ; but it is true, as it appears Mr Glascott
announced the fact to his wards before the Claverings
left. That's all I know."
Mr Willoughby was so utterly amazed at this in-
telligence, that his powers of speculation were quite
paralysed. All he could exclaim was, " My gracious !
wliat next ? " He was too well-bred to declare his
opinion that Mr Glascott was personally far preferable
to Mr La Touche ; but as he was a very young man, the
difference in age of the contracted parties staggered
him completely. At last he said, " I suppose the
Fanshawe pater and mater have managed this little
Stephen thought not. " It was quite possible that
the Fanshawe authorities had not been consulted," he
said. His own opinion was that the whole thing had
been arranged at Yarne.
"Well," said Mr Willoughby, "I shall go up to
Brydone for lunch to-morrow, and hear the news.
Miss Clavering won't, of course, hint at her own
affairs, and I daresay those of Miss Fanshawe will
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 85
turn out to be a very convenient topic of conversation.
Mr Glascott does not often come in to lunch, so you
see, I shall have a Ute-a-Ute"
" Fortunate fellow ! If you see your way to do so,
just tell Miss Clavering that I intend to write to Mr
Glascott after I have seen my father. And, by the
way, George, start homewards to-morrow, or, at latest,
the day after : you know, I am responsible to your
father for your return."
" Don't distress yourself about me, sir. I shall just
go over and have another look at St Oswin's in the
morning, and be ready to cross to-morrow night.
Don't you think you had better have some dinner now,
and prepare for the voyage ? Why, it is past seven
They dined, and Mr La Touche parted with his
''/friend in somewhat better spirits. It is certain that
the prospect of the coming family fray did not dis-
compose him : it was possible that he even derived
some exhilaration from the prospect of the conflict.
" At any rate," thought he, " we will all understand
in what light certain matters are to be regarded for
the future ; and if my father insists upon the intro-
duction of Madame Heine into the family, he can
marry her himself."
Stephen had made up his mind to recommend this
course to his father. It would be a most trenchant
way of getting rid of a difficulty, and as for Marcia
and his brother Percival, they must face the inevitable.
He had, however, with the usual masculine confidence,
86 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
quite overlooked the possibility of Madame Heine's
declining to view the position in this (to him) very
He arrived in London some fifteen hours after his
departure from Jersey. Mr La Touche was at home,
and so was Aunt Marcia. Percival was not expected
to be home till dinner-time. Stephen then arranged
his plan of action.
" I am going to my chambers now," he said to his
aunt, after they had lunched ; " and I shall not return
till dinner, which, I suppose, is at the usual hour."
" Yes, seven o'clock ; we have no company coming
to-day — not a soul," replied Marcia.
" All the better : after dinner I want to speak to my
father in the little back drawincr-room. You can be
present. Aunt Marcia, if you like. I merely want to
understand the meaning of the last letter he thought
proper to address to me ; but I wish you to be good
enough to keep the girls out of the way."
Marcia opened her mouth in order to elicit some
information anent this proposal, but a look on her
nephew's face reminded her that discretion was an
excellent quality. Stephen departed hastily to his
chambers, and when there, after examining his letters
and papers and conferring with his clerk, he indited
an epistle which was not according to strict business
precedent to Madame Heine.
It was merely to the effect that he had received a
communication respecting her business from Messrs
Kostlin & Link, of Coblentz, which he deemed highly
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 87
satisfactory. Would she kindly call on the morrow
during the forenoon to discuss certain points ? He
had to apologise for so long an absence ; but he felt
sure that he might count upon her congratulations on
the event of his just having made the engagement
which some day, he trusted, would result in a happy
Having written and posted this missive, he walked
into Temple Gardens and out to the river-side. The
Embankment was at that time only just commenced,
and the neighbourhood was untidy, unkempt, and de-
pressing. Here and there leaves were falling ; the sky
matched the mud, which were both of a brown leaden
colour, and the river looked forlorn and wretched.
Sere autumn is nowhere so uninviting as in the neigh -
irbourhood of the Thames when the days are dull.
Still, it was gratifying to see that town was filling
fast : cabs with luggage hastening from one point of
London to another ; some thoroughfares well crowded ;
professional men hurrying to and fro, — all proclaimed
that the long vacation was nearly at an end, and that
multitudes were returning to hard everyday work.
Work was the all-absorbing subject with Stephen
now. Could he secure that, all would go well ; but he
must double what he was already engaged in, and
secure briefs and find opportunity to do them justice,
even if too many should arrive at one time. He had
known what it was to be weeks with scarcely any
employment, and then to be overwhelmed with a
quantity of work, part of which he had been compelled
88 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
to transfer elsewhere. This was to be readjusted. He
would work day and night now, and nothing should
come amiss to his hand. The briefs might come in
showers — if they only would come. Love had made
him powerful for all. Perhaps there is no stronger
tonic than an all-round, united opposition to the said
love in the abstract. To paraphrase somewhat the
words of Burke, " It but nerves our hand and sharpens
our skill — our antagonist is our helper."
So felt Stephen La Touche as he pondered over his
affairs, and came to the conclusion that his worst
foes were they of his own household. One thing com-
forted him, and that was that he now ran no risk of
being juggled, by implication or otherwise, into any
engagement with Madame Heine ; the note he had so
lately written would settle all that.
It was however possible, he thought, that his father
or Percival, or even Marcia, might have given the lady
some intimation that he aspired to a closer intimacy
than was warranted by his professional duties : the
like has been done in all places of the earth, and
will be done until the love of the root of all evil is
weeded out of the world.
So be it ; and now Stephen placed this phase of the
situation before himself in its strongest bearing. " If
one or all of my people have told lies, let them clear
themselves as they best can. I will be no party to
Then he turned homewards. It is as well, perhaps,
that we are not compelled to utter all we think.
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 89
On entering the drawing-room before dinner,
Stephen, rather to his surprise, found Colin M'Tag-
gart perched on the edge of one of the sofas, staring
into an album of photographs. He was, however,
glad to meet his cousin ; told him that he had only
just returned from the Channel Islands, and there-
fore was not aware that he was to have the pleasure
of seeing him at dinner.
" I don't suppose you were," replied Colin. " I
called very late in the afternoon to apprise my uncle
that I have secured a small permanent employment in
Ireland, and Aunt Marcia was so delighted that she
pressed me to remain to dinner. She said there would
be nobody but you in addition to the usual party; and,
as I like you the best of the whole lot, I decided to
Colin was beginning to give some information con-
cerning his appointment, and had got as far as the
statement that it was in the west of Ireland, when
Percival La Touche entered the room.
The greetings interchanged between the brothers
were of the coldest. A little niddle-noddlinoj bow,
which seemed to say, " So you are back again," on the
part of the elder, and a genuflexion iced to frostiness
on the part of the younger, .was the only recognition
interchanged between them.
Colin was dreadfully scandalised. He knew of no
overt quarrel between his cousins, nor was there any
such thing. But the smouldering fire of distrust and
suspicion was only waiting for an opportunity of burst-
90 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ing forth ; and though Mr M'Taggart was not astute,
he could discern, from the expression on the faces of
both these men, that fierce hatred burned in their
hearts. It was a relief when Marcia and two of the
girls entered the room.
Stephen had seen his father immediately on his
arrival. The latter gave him two fingers, saying as
he did so, " Come back all right ? Um ! ah, I am just
going out ; can't stay to talk now," consequently, at
that time it was hopeless to seek an interview with
him. Marcia had met her nephew cordially enough ;
but she would have done that even if she had abused
him roundly not five minutes before. To be all
things to all men was part of Marcia's creed ; she
looked upon this as the inevitable tactic in the super-
intendence of a household. She would have hugged his
Satanic majesty himself, if by so doing she might
avoid the onus of a row. There was a delightful un-
certainty in all this, — nobody ever knew exactly what
Aunt Marcia would do in the event of a general dis-
turbance in the family. There was a decided opinion,
certainly, that she would side with Percival ; but this
was toned down with the excuse that Aunt Marcia
liad Percival's board and lodging to retain in the
domestic hearth, and that in taking part with him,
she was only speaking ex officio. It was pretty well
understood that she dared not oppose her eldest
nephew, whilst the possibility of his emigrating from
Hinton Square might be the result of such action.
It was natural, from this point of view, that Marcia
STEPHEN AND WILLINA. 91
should school herself into the conviction that her duty
lay in persuading Stephen to court Madame Heine.
The use of a large jointure," and twenty thousand
pounds down, were advantages not to be lightly passed
over by a younger son of the house of La Touche.
So the aunt concluded that, as an astute economist,
she must adhere to the side of her brother, and by
so doing, secure the approbation of the family for
They descend to dinner. The conversation during
that meal is very desultory, and often inclines towards
Colin M'Taggart talks vigorously to Fanny; Per-
cival anathematises the cook at intervals ; Marcia, by
way of being allegorical — so the old gentleman thought
— declares that there is a storm in the air.
All, however, seem in concert, in some undercur-
rent of perception, to make Stephen understand that
he is playing the role of black sheep in the domestic
This by no means daunts the culprit : he eats his
dinner, helps himself to the best wine, such as his
father drinks, and prepares for battle.
FATHER AND SONS.
In No. 9 Hinton Square there existed up -stairs
a small room at the back of the large drawing-room,
cosily furnished, and which, by some polite fiction,
was known as the book-room.
It was usual with the elder gentleman to retire to
this apartment immediately after dinner, where his
coffee was brought to him ; and where, beneath the
shade of a lamp specially dedicated to his use, he
scanned the evening paper, or occasionally slum-
Private interviews were also held in this retreat ;
but coffee and newspaper must have both been well
digested before any one should venture into the
presence of Mr La Touche.
After waiting the usual time, Stephen said to his
cousin, "Keep Percival here if you can; I want to
speak to my father privately." He then went out and
rapped at the book-room door, and entered at the
moment permission to do so was accorded. " I want a
FATHER AND SONS. 93
few words with you, sir," he said, looking his father
very straightly in the eyes.
The old gentleman was so taken by surprise that he
could only exclaim, " Um ! ah, certainly ; what is it
that you want ? "
Stephen drew a chair opposite to his father, and
seated himself with just a little show of deliberation.
This nettled Mr La Touche : he could stand a good
deal from Percival, but the younger sons must be
made to recognise their positions as younger sons.
Consequently, this parent thought it behoved him to
be abrupt and rude.
" Say what you have to say, and be done with it.
Again, what is it you want ? "
" An explanation, if you please, of this passage in
your letter which was addressed to me at Coutances :
' I will never give my consent to your marriage with
Miss Clavering.' "
" No ; I never will ! " blurted out the old gentleman,
very red in the face. " What do you mean by explan-
ation ? The sense, I take it, reads clearly enough."
" Undoubtedly ; but the reason for the text is what
I want to get at. In the first place, have you any
objection to tell me how you knew that I aspired to
marry Miss Clavering ? "
Mr La Touche knew right well that it was to his
eldest son that he was indebted for this information,
but he dared not say so. It was evident from the
apprehensive manner in which he looked towards the
door that he suspected Percival to be within ear-shot.
94 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Just then Fanny struck up the " Soldiers' Chorus,"
from ' Faust,' on the piano in the large drawing-room,
which was evidently a pleasing sound in the father's
ear, and Stephen recognised Colin's strong bass voice
in full swing with the air. Thus, for a similar reason,
the denizens of the book-room were well pleased.
As if suddenly inspired, Mr La Touche said, " The
information came, in the first place, from Miss Fan-
shawe in the letter to Aunt Marcia, in which she
announced her approaching marriage to Mr Glascott.
But what matter who said this ? Why do you lay so
much stress upon the report ? "
" I ask because you could scarcely have written that
refusal unless some information had been previously
given you ; but what I want to ascertain more partic-
ularly is the reason which induced you to withhold
your consent beforehand."
" The reason ! Of course you know you are intended
to marry Madame Heine. I told you that before you
" But you surely must remember, sir, that I gave
you to understand at the time that it was utterly im-
possible that I should do this," returned Stephen, put-
ting a strong command upon himself. " I mean the lady
no disrespect ; but I neither want her money nor her-
self, and I am very sure that she would not dream of
marrying me, even if I asked her. The idea is absurd !
— Madame Heine is at least twelve years my senior."
"Not so absurd as you imagine, sir," retorted the
elder man, snappishly. " I don't speak out of book.
FATHER AND SONS. 95
The matter has been tested in a very satisfactory
manner, and I am able to tell you that the contrary is
the case. Madame Heine is awaiting a declaration
" Why ! what on earth have I done to make the
woman expect that ? " ejaculated poor Stephen, taken
off his balance at the moment in his surprise at the
cool mendacity of this statement. " Unless some one
or other has been representing my sentiments "
A rustle behind him caused him to turn his head.
There stood Percival, with a light coat thrown over
his evening dress. Though he was evidently going
out, he remained standing, as if he intended to take
some part in the conversation.
Perceiving this, Stephen started to his feet. " Kindly
retire, will you ? " said he. " I am speaking to my
father on private business, and require no witness."
" A moment," answered Percival, with a sneer ; " you
speak loud, and I could not help hearing "
" You were listening at the door ; it is an old trick
of yours. Never mind — go on."
" That you were disclaiming any pretensions to the
hand of Madame Heine," continued Percival, with an
unabashed front. " I want to tell you that if that lady
is under any misconception, the fault is mine."
" Your fault ! How ? In what manner ? " exclaimed
Stephen, now more puzzled than before.
" Seeing the attention that you paid Madame Heine
when she first came to London, I very naturally
thought you were aiming at matrimony in that
96 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
direction," Percival avowed ; " and after your depar-
ture, the lady was so dejected and downcast "
" Stuff and nonsense ! " thundered Stephen. " As
Madame Heine's legal adviser, she may have been
anxious to see me now and then on business ; but as to
her being dejected at my absence, you know very well
that the thing is preposterous. Wliat is your object
in making such an assertion, I would like to know ? "
" The object of pleasing a lovely woman in the first
place, and the object of securing her worldly goods
for a younger son of the family in the second," replied
Percival, with cool assurance. " I discovered that this
charming client was very much interested in my legal
brother. Consequently I did my best to secure the
prize ; so I gave her to understand that I believe
you entertain what the French call a grancU passion
for her, and I certainly assured her that there was no
rival in the way."
The indelicacy of this proceeding grated most acute-
ly on Stephen's nerves ; but he took consolation in
the remembrance that Percival was noted for strict
inaccuracy in those of his assertions by which a cer-
tain point was to be gained. He therefore thought it
better to avoid recrimination, and in its stead, to shoot
off his Parthian arrow ; so he replied very slowly, " It
is a pity that your good offices should be so utterly
thrown away : Madame Heine is aware by this time
that I am engaged to Miss Clavering. I have already
written to claim her congratulations."
Both Percival and his father were so taken
FATHER AND SONS. 97
by surprise, that for a moment they were utterly
Percival was the first to recover himself. Eushing
up to his brother with a wild cry, he declared that, as
long as he lived, he should never be the husband of
Willina Clavering. The language he used in addition
was frightful to hear. In the vehemence of his rage
he let it escape him that the lady in question had
rejected his own suit, and that with a contempt for
which he would never forgive her.
" You are a fool ! " retorted Stephen, roused in his
turn to violent anger — " yes, a fool to tell your own
secret. This is the first time that I have heard that
you have been rejected by this lady, whom — allow me
to tell you — you are unworthy to name. Eejected
you ! Of course she did ; but know, I never heard a
hint of the matter from her."
The old gentleman at last managed to get a word
in. " Do you understand, sir," he said, — " do you un-
derstand that I positively refuse to sanction this en-
gagement ? " Here he looked at Percival, who nodded
" I do understand, and I am sorry for it, sir," the
young man replied. " The position is hard to bear,
for Mr Glascott, as Miss Clavering's guardian, is also
equally averse to this engagement : his objections are
stronger even than your own, and they are certainly
much more valid."
" Mr Glascott objects, does he ? " said the elder Mr
La Touche ; " on what grounds, may I ask ? "
VOL. III. G
98 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" I hardly like to say," quoth Stephen.
"On account of your want of fortune," suggested
Percival ; " very natural : I am glad to hear that Mr
Glascott has demonstrated so much good sense."
" My impecuniosity is one objection, it is true — but
it is not the insuperable one. I had better tell the
truth at once. Mr Glascott looks upon our family
very much as one composed of lunatics and idiots,
and he has not scrupled to let me know his opinion.
His ward overlooks this drawback on my account,"
continued Stephen, with a provoking air of exultation.
" And do you mean to say, that in the face of these
objections — objections most insulting to your family —
you persist in affiancing yourself to this girl ? — a girl
without fortune, too," continued the old man, white
with rage ; " for now that Mr Glascott is going to
marry Miss Fanshawe, you must see that Miss Claver-
ing's chance of fortune is nil — have you reflected on
that, sir ? "
" I have ; Miss Clavering and I are promised and
bound for life and death."
Percival and his father exchanged glances. Stephen
had penetrated to the pith of the affair, then, and it
lay in a nutshell.
When Marcia received the announcement of Miss
Fanshawe's engagement to Mr Glascott, the financiers
of the family at once saw that in the event of this
marriage. Miss Clavering had little chance of inherit-
ing a fortune from her guardian. Whereupon Percival
demanded of his father that he should insist upon
FATHER AND SONS. 99
Stephen's marrying Madame Heine, or, on his refusal to
do that — or, more correctly speaking, on his refusal to
solicit the lady — the alternative should be immediate
expulsion from Hinton Square. In this manner Per-
cival sought to pay off what he deemed to be his own
bad treatment at the hands of Willina Clavering.
Mortified vanity, spite, and a raging jealousy of his
brother, pulled the strings of his action against Ste-
phen ; and of the game of cross-purposes which was so
thoroughly played out at Pinnacles, Mr La Touche
and Marcia knew never a word.
It was not high-minded, but it was perhaps natural,
under these circumstances, that Stephen should refer
to Percival's rejection by Miss Clavering.
" At any rate," he said, turning to his brother, " it
ill becomes you to object to my alliance with Miss
Clavering. By your own admission a few moments
ago, you made it clear that you have paid your ad-
dresses to her, and that she has declined to entertain
them, acting in the matter entirely without reference
to Mr Glascott."
Percival looked rather confused, and hesitated to
reply. At length he said, " The cases are quite differ-
ent. / can afford to pick and choose ; you must marry
" You seem to forget," replied Stephen, " that when
you addressed Miss Clavering, she was reputed to in-
herit a good fortune from her guardian. For this you
threw over Miss Fanshawe, I rather think. You may
be vastly clever, Percival ; at the same time, it is ob-
100 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
vious that between these two stools you have come to
" Silence ! " screamed the old man, addressing him-
self more especially to the impecunious son. " I will
have none of this unseemly bickering here. Tell me
what are Mr Glascott's reasons for refusing his con-
sent to your marriage with his cousin."
" I have already stated them, sir. Mr Glascott most
decidedly alleged that the insanity inherent in our
family was a sufficient reason for declining my pro-
posals for his ward. These objections, he said, were
strengthened by his opinion that this insanity has
been engendered and propagated by the avarice which
has caused so many of our forefathers to marry near
relatives for the sake of preserving money in the
" He said this ? "
" He did, sir. Mr Glascott apologised for inflicting
this bitter truth upon me ; but he thought it best to
acquaint me that he entertains a strong prejudice
against all persons who may be liable to insanity. In
the interests of his ward, he in consequence declined
" Your want of fortune was, I suppose," said the old
man, " another objection in the case ? "
" Certainly not. Lacking the primary objection,
my want of fortune was regarded as a hindrance, but
not as a bar to the engagement. I am proud to say
that, personally, Mr Glascott has no objection to me,
— rather the contrary."
FATHER AND SONS. 101
"After Mr Glascott's insulting and most exagger-
ated assertions," interrupted Percival, turning to his
father, "you cannot do less than insist upon this
engagement being at once rescinded."
" One thing I want to know," said Mr La Touche ;
" did you not remonstrate against this accusation ?
Did you not, for the sake of your family, deny it in
toto — or, at any rate, admit nothing but nervous affec-
tions ? Did you not do this ? "
" How could I, sir ? Mr Glascott was aware, from
some unnamed authority, that your own eldest brother
is in confinement at this moment. When he was at
Pinnacles, he saw Aunt Arabella, and he must know
Miss Clavering's opinion of that member of our
Here Percival made use of such a coarse and insult-
ing remark with regard to Mrs Kemble, that Stephen
could no longer restrain himself. Starting to his feet,
and rushing towards the offender, he exclaimed, " You
cowardly sneak ! nobody can obtain either peace or
justice when you come in the way. What right have
you to push yourself in here ? Take yourself off this
moment, or I will kick you down-stairs."
As Percival entirely relied on the moral support of
his father, he maintained his ground, albeit with some
The younger brother waited a moment, and then,
without more ado, he twisted his fingers in the fold of
Percival's correct evening tie, and with one rapid
movement dragged him out upon the landing, and
102 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
shoved him down three steps of the staircase in the
twinkling of an eye. An angle of the wall, against
which Percival was brought np, saved him from bodily
harm, and by the time he had regained his breath,
Stephen had left him and returned to the book-room.
The noise attending this feat brought both Aunt
Marcia and Colin M'Taggart on the scene of action.
Fearful that some serious mischief might occur. Miss
La Touche quickly followed her nephew into the book-
room, with the aim of inducing both its occupants to
postpone their discussion until a more convenient
season. The raised tone of their voices, and the ex-
pressions which made themselves heard from within,
testified to the sad fact that both father and son had
come to a foolish and open quarrel.
" Will you write at my dictation, and rescind your
stupid engagement ? " the old man was saying as
" I have told you before that I will not, sir."
" Then leave my house this moment. Never enter
it again until you engage to submit to my authority.
Once more, will you or will you not attend to my
wishes ? " The old man shook with passion, and
pushed Marcia roughly aside as she ventured to
Stephen stood silent ; then he said, " I will quit the
house, as you direct, and at once," and he turned to
leave the room.
Meanwhile Colin had not been useless. As soon as
he had recovered a little from his unexpected shock.
FATHER AND SONS. 103
Percival attempted to return up-stairs, with the inten-
tion of invading the book-room ; but his cousin was
too quick for him.
" No, no, my man," said he, " yell just bide where
ye are, or maybe ye had better go off to your evening-
party ; but in your present state of mind ye are best
away from your brother."
" Let me pass," said Percival, with great dignity, " or
it shall be the worse for you."
" Poor creature ! " retorted Colin. " I could, if I liked,
pound you to a jelly ; but ye are angered now, so I
take no notice of your threats. Wait a wee, while I
call Miss Fanny to arrange your tie ; it has got to the
back of your neck."
At this moment Stephen, as white as death, came
out of the book-room and ascended the stairs in order
to get to his own apartment. Looking over the banis-
ters, he said, " Colin, may I ask you to call a cab to be
here for me immediately ? "
Colin nodded his head, and then looked askance at
Marcia, who had come out on the landing. " You
had better do so," said she ; " and, Percival, don't go
near your father now, or he will have a fit."
"What had I better do?" said Percival, who was
really a little alarmed.
" Make yourself fit to be seen, and go out to what-
ever your evening engagement is. Above all, do keep
out of Stephen's way."
" Is he really going ? "
" It appears so ; he is gone up-stairs to make ready.
104 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Keep off the stair-case, for Colin may get a cab im-
mediately. It is as well that the girls and the ser-
vants should know as little of this scandal as possible,
for scandal it is," continued Marcia, severely, "and
very disgraceful to all concerned."
Percival made no reply to this, and immediately
retired to his room. Then the hall -door bell rang,
and Colin M'Taggart, descending from some vehicle,
entered the house. At that moment Stephen came
down the upper flight of stairs with a small portman-
teau in his hand. Marcia intercepted him on the
" This is miserable work, Stephen," she said. " I do
wish you could make up your mind to marry Madame
Heine : it would save no end of trouble."
Stephen smiled. "If you would stand my friend.
Aunt Marcia, use your influence with the other mem-
bers of the family. My father and brother are as
good subjects to work upon as I am ; but remember,
I am engaged to Miss Clavering, and I shall now
proclaim the fact wherever I go."
" Are you really going to live away from us ? Think
of me a little : when Lawrence sails for India, I shall
have only Andrew to fall back upon for the dinner-
parties, and who is going to take the girls about if
you go ? " inquired Marcia, in sore dismay.
" I can't say. Be kind enough to send everything
of mine down to my chambers to-morrow ; I shall live
in them entirely for the future. Good-night, Aunt
Marcia; good-night, Colin, and thank you."
FATHER AND SONS. 105
" No, no," said the latter ; " I am coming with you,
Cousin Stephen. I will just wish my uncle good
"Never mind that," said Marcia; "I will make
your excuses. Yes, go with Stephen ; and if you have
time, call upon me to-morrow morning."
So they drove away ; and Marcia, not venturing to
return to her brother, sat and pondered over these
matters in the desert of the large drawing-room. The
girls had, fortunately, gone next door to practise with
some of their young friends, and so, for a time. Miss
La Touche was not likely to be disturbed. It was a
great relief to her, however, to hear her brother ring
the bell, and shortly afterwards a significant clink,
announcing that some refreshment had been ordered
and brought to the book -room, saved her further
Then Miss La Touche relinquished all household
cares, and took to wondering what would be the end
of the affair which had just taken place. Would
Percival, she inquired of herself, — would Percival,
having succeeded in ejecting his brother, and losing
both Miss Clavering and Lillian Fanshawe, — would he
be likely to square matters comfortably, and pay his
addresses to Madame Heine ? There was so much
awkwardness in this matter, for Marcia's conscience
pricked her as she remembered how often, in order to
please Percival, she had of late invited the German
lady to the house, and had more than once intimated
how deeply her legal adviser was interested in her
106 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
welfare. It was very, very annoying: why had no
pressure been brought to bear on Lawrence or Andrew ?
The answer was not far to seek. Lawrence, heavy,
silent, and impassable, being merely on leave, occupied
his time and took his pleasures as it might please
him. He looked upon his father's house pretty much
as a comfortable club for the time being, Marcia
acting as a good housekeeper and manager, but also as
a deuced bad secretary of the establishment. Andrew
was too young as yet to be included in the matri-
monial speculations of the family ; still it was a pity,
thought Marcia, that so much good money should be
suffered to dribble away into other channels.
Then Miss La Touche, unsatisfied with her own
family programme, took to pondering upon the matters
of Lillian Fanshawe. These she soon disposed of. Per-
cival had made a mistake in not securing that damsel.
Marcia had done her best and her duty in trying to
bring these two together : her endeavours had failed,
and Lillian, to escape from Pinnacles, had elected to
take up with old Glascott ; it was hard upon Miss
Clavering, and Marcia felt for her.
Miss La Touche fell asleep with this last piece of
benevolence in her heart, and almost on her lips.
And Madame Heine, — how did that good lady
comport herself in the interview which she punctually
observed at the chambers of Mr Stephen La Touche
on the following morning ?
It was balm to that gentleman to receive her, bright
and tranquil as a mellow autumn- day. A friendly
FATHER AND SONS. 107
pressure of the hand and a littk confidential nod
were also very reassuring signs. The lady most cer-
tainly was no party to the machinations of his family,
and, in consequence, Mr Stephen recovered his spirits,
and felt doubly ready for work.
No remark was made, owing to the presence of the
managing clerk of the firm of solicitors under whose
instructions the barrister was acting in the affairs of
Madame Heine. In consequence, strict business was
the order of the hour.
The lawyer departed, and then the lady, in a kind,
simple manner, tendered her congratulations on the
matrimonial engagement of her legal adviser. " It
was so pleasant to hear," she said, in her German-
English, " that one who had so good been, and of his
family so much admired, was now to enter upon a
happy marriage. When was this to be ? and had
the pleasure already to her been given the lady to
have seen ? "
Stephen replied in proper form, and thanked the
lady for her goodwill. He, however, judged it
prudent to add that his father would not consent
to the match, and that he must trust to time and
sufficient work before he could be entitled to marry
" Ah ! for that reason, the lady not much has
" Not at present. The truth is, Madame Heine, I
have quarrelled with my family over this matter, and
I shall not live at home for the future."
108 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Ah ! wrong thing ; your people make stupids out
of themselves. You English want so much — so you
seem never enough to have. Well, well, you work
on and trust. Some day all will turn out to you for
So saying, the kindly lady took her leave, aiid
Stephen felt very thankful that no delusion had
affected this honest simple soul. If he were at fault
in this estimation, his client certainly bore her dis-
appointment bravely, and made no sign ; but he
preferred to think that Percival had only treated
him with his characteristic duplicity, and that dif-
ferent idioms had also played their part in mystifying
his client's appreciation of the adulations which, it
was said, had been offered to her in his name. It
was clear that Madame Heine had received these
compliments, when she understood them, strictly en
avocat. Stephen had won one cause for her, by dint
of strict attention and unflinching pertinacity, and it
was but natural that both his client and his own
family should glorify the event.
Now he threw himself into hard and all-absorbing
work, then arranged his chambers, dined in the even-
ing with Colin M'Taggart, and afterwards accom-
panied that worthy youth to witness a Shakespearian
The preparations for Miss Fanshawe's wedding were
now complete. Lady Hautenbas had done all things
well, and Mr Fanshawe had made one last appeal
to his daughter's sincerity before he consented to
FATHER AND SONS. 109
perform the service which was to tie the nuptial
There was no difference in the young lady's senti-
ments. She considered, and rightly, that this mar-
riage was good for her and for her family. " If Miss
Clavering were made unhappy by it she would have
herself to thank," quoth Miss Fanshawe. " Why, many
women of mature age had to put up with a mother-in-
law years their junior, and that, as a matter of course,
in the opinion of their father ; and what was Willina
Clavering's wrong in comparison to that ? "
Mr Fanshawe listened, and said no more. The only
satisfaction that he could draw for his pains was in
the fact that the girl had manifested, both by deed
and word, some affection for himself. " I know you
are naturally good and kind, papa," said she, " and
what you now say increases my respect for you.
Come to me whenever you can escape from ma
Pinnacles ; Mr Glascott likes you well," and then she
put her arms round him and kissed him with real
It had been feared that Colonel Leppell would not
be in sufficient good spirits to attend the wedding and
give Miss Fanshawe away. Not a bit of it ! Ealph
rose like the phoenix to the occasion, declaring that
the ceremony taking place out of his own county,
quite nullified any scruple he might otherwise have
entertained at attending a festive assembly so soon
after his wife's death.
" This," said he, " is a very exceptional case ; duty
110 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
owing to friendship ; the thing got up at my house,
and with my late wife's sanction. If she could look
upon us — haw ! poor Adelaide ! "
Here the Colonel broke down ; but he meant to inti-
mate that the late Mrs Leppell would have highly
approved of his intention of acting in the coming
ceremony as father of Miss Fanshawe, and so be-
stowing her on Mr Glascott.
It was decreed that Mary and her sisters should
decline the invitation to the wedding, satisfying
themselves that the family would be properly repre-
sented by Colonel Leppell ; and the bride-elect put a
decided veto upon a proposition which her father had
made to invite Stephen La Touche to be of the number
of the wedding-guests. " She had no objection to the
young man," Miss Lillian declared ; " but there were
reasons which forbade her to entertain the idea. He
was not on good terms with his family, and as Marcia
La ToUche was to be present, there might be some
awkwardness. ISTo ; Mr Stephen was better employed
" Do as you like," said the rector ; " but surely
Marcia La Touche is not to be one of the brides-
maids ? "
" Oh, no ! Etta and Emma, with Miss Clavering, are
to be the bridesmaids. Marcia accepts the invitation
as an old friend. Mr Clavering will be present ; and
young Mr Willoughby is to be groomsman."
" Stephen La Touche would have been more suit-
able for that post than the boy Willoughby," said the
FATHER AND SONS. 1 1 1
rector ; " but I wonder what makes Miss La Touche
accept the invitation as an old friend. Eather out of
character for her — eh, Lillian ? "
The fact of the matter was that Marcia was very
anxious to get inside the dwelling-place of Lady
Hautenbas ; for although Lillian had issued out of
that mansion to pay her visits in Hinton Square, and
had also returned to it from the house of the La
Touches, Lady Hautenbas had never left a card for
Miss La Touche, nor - extended the slightest civility
to the merchant's family in any shape or way.
Lady Hautenbas meant no offence by this. She
belonged to an inner ring in the great circle of the
London visiting world. Nobody that she knew had
ever met the La Touches, or had even heard of them
— very respectable people, no doubt ; but London had
become so large that it was impossible to visit every
one, &c., &c.
The house in Bluvayne Gardens was given' up to
the Fanshawe relations for the wedding-day, its owner
being too greatly satisfied with the matrimonial pros-
pects of her niece to take exception to any of the
Fanshawe guests. That lady was in high feather —
everything was in the best style, and everybody was
received with the utmost politeness and attention ;
and when all were assembled, the ceremony took
place which made Lillian and Mr Glascott husband
At its conclusion Colonel Leppell drew a deep
breath, and felt convinced that a great stroke of
112 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
business had been thoroughly accomplished by this
means. The hearty manner in which the bridegroom
had thanked him, not only for his presence on the
occasion, but also for his previous good offices, was
truly balm in Gilead to the Colonel's soul. He con-
vinced himself that this was really the crowning work
of his own astute prevision; that by his address all
his obligations to Mr Glascott were discharged — obli-
gations which had rankled in his mind for many a
day ; he was " quits " now, and he rejoiced greatly —
for even yet, at the bottom of his heart, he held a
vague, suspicious, unreasoning dislike to Everard
Miss La Touche and Willina had come together,
and they exchanged a few words. There was some
very evident restraint in the intercourse of these
two ladies, as if each one of them surmised what
was passing in the mind of the other. At length
Miss Clavering boldly inquired after Stephen.
''You are aware that we are engaged. Miss La
Touche," said the young lady, " and that we maintain
a regular correspondence. Still, I wish to tell you
how much I regret that your nephew should have
been expelled from his father's house on my account.
I am exceedingly sorry for this ; but, unfortunately,
it seems to have been the only alternative left to
Marcia was very much embarrassed how to reply.
Though she was compelled to relinquish all hope of
securing Madame Heine as a niece, she still threw
FATHER AND SONS. 113
her influence in the scale held by Percival. It
ao'opravated her also to find Willina determining to
speak of her engagement as a fact admitting no
question, and a fact, moreover, which was quite out-
side La Touche legislation; but some reply was im-
perative, so she said —
" The whole affair has distressed me very much.
My brother has done his best to secure Ste]3hen a
comj)etence, and a good position in life. He is dis-
appointed, of course, at not receiving even thanks for
his exertions. I hope that some day things will come
round satisfactorily, but at present I cannot see how
this can be achieved."
Willina bowed at this equivocal speech, but she
said no more. She had gained her object — which
was to make Miss La Touche understand that, in
defiance of lack of consent on all sides, she was to
be recognised as the affianced wife of Stephen La
This was quite as well. Miss Clavering knew
something, by this time, of the powers of jugglery
possessed by some of the members of the family to
which Miss La Touche belonged ; it was therefore
prudent that her own views should be imparted with
the utmost decision and clearness of speech. It had
cost her an effort to address Marcia upon the subject ;
but the opportunity had come to her, and it was wise
to avail herself of the chance.
A handsome breakfast followed immediately upon
the ceremony — good wine, pleasant company, and
VOL. III. H
114 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
short speeches playing their respective parts in mak-
ing the whole a success.
In due time the newly married couple departed for
Southampton, en route for the Continent. Very little
feeling was manifested when the party broke up.
Francis Clavering took the bride's hand as she bade
him farewell, and expressed his gratification at her
now being one of his family circle ; but his manner
was formal, and a close observer would have imagined
that he was speaking under great restraint. Willina's
adieux to her guardian were affectionate, and she did
her best to be cordial to Mrs Glascott; but it was
apparent that the effort was somewhat a struggle be-
twixt inclination and duty.
Lady Hautenbas managed to squeeze out a tear, but
she looked at the travelling-carriage, and was com-
forted with style and speed.
So the party dispersed, every man and woman, to
their several homes. Lady Hautenbas rewarded her-
self with a drive in the Park, and rejoiced in the fact
that there was now one female Fanshawe the less.
Willina Clavering went with her brother to a hotel,
where they remained until Frank had delivered a
lecture, and transacted some other scientific business.
She was, at the expiration of their stay, to proceed
with him to Tring, and pay a long visit there.
Stephen La Touche called at the hotel ; and he and
Willina had one happy uninterrupted morning to-
gether, when they canvassed their plans and decided
their course of action. This visit was almost a stolen
FATHER AND SONS. 115
pleasure, for Miss Clavering's brother was quite as
unfavourable to this match as was Mr Glascott ; and
as this gentleman was capable of making himself very
disagreeable when he chose to put his mind to it, Mr
La Touche had to place some restrictions upon his visits
and their length. However, the lovers were firmly
resolved to stand unflinchingly together, and patiently
abide the result.
" Cousin Everard has promised me," said Willina,
" that if we wait seven full years without changing
our minds — as if that were likely ? — he will give his
consent ; yes, sir, even if you are not better off than
you are now, which state of being, I may tell you for
your comfort, he does not think at all probable."
Stephen was delighted at the news. " How and
when did you contrive to gain this concession ? " he
" It was on the night he left to go to Pinnacles,"
Miss Clavering answered. " I think Cousin Everard
was softened at my offering to return to Brydone and
receive him and his wife when they should have com-
pleted their wedding-tour. His own happiness — for
he worships that girl, Stephen — his own happiness,
perhaps, made him indulgent towards me ; at any rate,
he said, ' I don't approve of the La Touche connection,
but I respect Stephen ; so if you are both in the same
mind this time seven years, I will withdraw my objec-
tion to your union. His sanity, or the reverse, will be
sufficiently tested by the probation.' "
" Was that all ? "
116 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Cousin Everard gave me leave to tell you this ; but
he declines to hold any further communication on the
subject at present."
And with this concession Stephen La Touche was
obliGjed to remain content.
Time sped on. It would seem that after a large amount
of change and excitement, coming all at once, a lull of
some years' duration was about to take place in the
fortunes of Willina Clavering.
Mr and Mrs Glascott returned in due course to
Brydone, and settled down at once into the regularity
of a country life. Willina remained there some
months ; but it soon became apparent to her that, by
her guardian's wife, her residence was regarded very
much as a stay upon sufferance. Mr Glascott, though
uniformly kind, managed, unconsciously, to let his
cousin feel that he was entirely independent of her
companionship, and that it would be a satisfaction to
him if she were settled in a house of her own. He
never said this much, but in a thousand indefinite
ways Willina was compelled to see that Brydone was
no longer a veritable home to her.
An opportunity presented itself within the year of
her guardian's marriage, which enabled Miss Claver-
118 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
ing to get free of this uncomfortable state of things,
and it was through the medium of no less a personage
than Marmaduke Leppell that the deliverance was
That young gentleman had completed his term of
imprisonment, and after his final escape from the
jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, had gone im-
mediately to Hunter's Lodge, together with his wife,
where they were welcomed with open arms by Colonel
Leppell. It must be admitted that his detention in
durance vile, together with the chastening effect of
his mother's death, had considerably improved Duke
in every way. This improvement was so marked
that old Lady Asher had declared that it did her
good to see him again ; and Mrs " Bothero " affirmed
that, now and then, it was possible for the leopard to
change his spots. All, however, to use the Colonel's
expression, combined to put the saddle on the right
horse. The secret of Marmaduke's redemption from
utter ruin lay in his possession of a loving, faithful
Willina had returned from Tring, where a son had
been born to the Claverings, and had gone to Hunter's
Lodge to report all about the grandson and to make
the acquaintance of the "Dukes," — as this couple
were abbreviated in the family. In this way she
happened to be present when the future plans of
Marmaduke and his wife were being discussed in
" It will never do for my husband to be idle," Peggy
SHARP WORK. 119
averred, " and nobody wants him to be reinstated in
tlie army. Unless there's any fighting going, Duke
is better out of that."
Marmaduke, urged by other reasons than she wot of,
supported this opinion. " I think," said he, " I should
like to have a small farm in Ireland, and breed horses.
It would be a congenial employment for me, and if I
did not make very much, I do not think it would be a
The Colonel liked the j)lan, but expressed an opinion
that it would be a lonely life for a young woman like
" Nothing of the kind," returned that young lady ;
" it would suit me exactly, and I think I know of a
place down west that we could have at once — a lovely
spot — Connemara way."
" But nobody — no lady friend — would go there to
visit you," said the Colonel.
"I would gladly," interposed Willina. "Will you
take me as an inmate ? I should enjoy farm surround-
ings, and I am so situated that a retired active life is
what I most desire," and she turned towards Peggy as
The latter was radiant with delight. " Will we take
you ? " she exclaimed ; " right gladly will we do that.
Come and live with us as our sister, and go and pay
your visits when you can stand the country no longer.
If you really can come, there is nothing we will not do
to make you happy — eh, Duke ? "
Duke, thus appealed to, warmly supported all that
120 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
his wife had advanced. " Come and try it," he said.
" I see that you are not afraid of living in Ireland. I
rather think that you are one who will be kind and
good, and make it your business to behave well to the
people, and not insult them by mean tyrannies and
impertinences which, unfortunately, so many of the
English do. You are quite the person to conciliate
what people call a disaffected peasantry ; still, I warn
you, you will miss many comforts and every luxury if
you decide to come to us."
Willina knew this, but she was in earnest on the
matter, and ways and means would be easy of ar-
rangement. To get rid of Lillian Glascott she would
hazard much. How delightful was Peggy's v/arm,
frank manner, contrasted with the cold, ill-concealed
dislike of her guardian's wife.
It transpired from Stephen La Touche — who in some
remarkable manner found his way into Yarne at that
time — that Colin M'Taggart had a small school
somewhere in the region wherein the " Dukes " pro-
posed to dwell. " They would find Colin a kind, trust-
worthy friend," said Mr La Touche. " He would write
to him and ask him to supply all information about
farms in his neighbourhood, and he hoped to hear that
eventually his friends would be within hail of one an-
other." Mr Stephen was remarkably lucid when lay-
ing down the .law on this matter. It would be well,
he thought, that Willina should be as near as possible
to his own cousin, — there was a soupgon of relationship
SHARP WORK. 121
in the idea which was far from unfavourable ; besides
it would furnish him with the means of hearing of
Miss Clavering as well as hearing from that lady. The
more he thought of it, the more he felt persuaded that
his friends should dwell in the same locality. To
Colin it was something, Mr Stephen imagined, to be
"near the rose."
Marmaduke's improved demeanour, and the sorrow
he evinced at not seeing his mother before her death,
very much mollified the Viscount's ill opinion of his
He and Peggy were invited to Hieover with Willina
Clavering, and Uncle Alick avowed that he had not
been so happy with his relations for many a day.
Stephen La Touche was also of the party, and it was
finally proposed by Lord Hieover, and warmly seconded
by Uncle Alick — when he discovered that it was Wil-
lina's intention to reside with the " Dukes " — that all
the legal business consequent upon the occupation and
purchase of a farm in Ireland should be placed under
the control of that gentleman.
It was fortunate for Marmaduke that both his
grandfather and his uncle had fallen so readily into
his views, and were also unanimous in furthering the
same. He had feared that some pressure might have
been brought to bear, having for its object the inten-
tion of reinstating him in the army, if. not in the same
regiment in which he had formerly served.
He could hardly bring himself to believe that these
122 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
relatives would so befriend him, had they not, by so
doing, an end of their own to serve. Was it possible
that they had got some inkling concerning his dealings
with his brother-ofhcer. Cracky Winton, and were, in
consequence, glad to shelve him quietly out of the
This opinion Duke rejected as soon almost as he
entertained it. Had either the Viscount or his uncle
had a suspicion of the truth, he would very soon have
heard of it ; and the secret was safe with his father
and the friend who had paid the money. Marmaduke
also felt persuaded that Mr Glascott would not en-
lighten his wife on the matter ; though, on this head,
he had more than once since that marriage entertained
His own cause of thankfulness lay in the fact that,
on his release from captivity, he had received a com-
munication from Mr Deare, Cracky Winton's guardian,
written in a friendly spirit, but calling upon him to
reject all idea of again entering the service.
He required a promise from Duke to that effect,
and intimated that if Mr Leppell would undertake
to quit the service, there would never be any fear
of molestation, either at the hands of Mr Deare him-
self, or at those of the banking firm at Liverpool,
Messrs Fairlight & Deare.
Thus, in a measure, compelled so to do, Marmaduke
had, in writing, subscribed to the terms on which Mr
Deare elected to preserve an inviolable silence in re-
gard to the affair of the cheque.
SHARP WORK. 123
He was now haunted by a feeling of apprehension
that his grandfather might, on his part, require him to
re-enter his regiment as a condition of assisting him
once again in matters pecuniary.
This relative had insisted on the general proposition,
that to be imprisoned by the Court of Chancery for
abducting one of its wards was no social disgrace
whatsoever : he had even gone so far as to allege that
many of its laws and customs — especially those which
related to matrimony — were but remnants of the old
feudal tyrannies, which an enlightened British public
would eventually sweep away. It was natural, there-
fore, on listening to these philippics, that both Mar-
maduke and the Colonel should be in terror lest the
Viscount, in order to give tangible proof of his argu-
ments, should insist upon his grandson speedily re-
entering his late regiment, or, in fault of that, upon
his joining another still more renowned both for its
prowess and for its extravagant expenditure.
No wonder, then, that it was with deep thankfulness
that Duke's project of retiring into the country was so
well received by the denizens of Hieover Grange.
These had their reasons for being thus acquiescent.
AlthouQjh both the Viscount and his eldest son ad-
mired Peggy's stanch affection for her husband, and
perfectly recognised her thorough unselfishness, they
did not fail to perceive that she was not exactly suited
for high society, and that her reception among the
aristocratic wives of Marmaduke's brother officers
might be regarded in the light of a dangerous ex-
124 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
periment. Consequently, they both agreed it were
better that the tide should be taken at the turn.
Duke was really in love with his wife ; and what
perhaps was more to the purpose, he seemed inclined
to settle down and to work. It was far better that he
should be out of the atmosphere of his quondam asso-
ciates ; and then, what with hunting and fishing and
shooting, together with the visits of friends to partake
of these pleasures, life in the far west would be by no
" They might come here once a-year," said Alexan-
der, benevolently, " and I might possibly venture into
those wilds for a little shooting and to visit them in
" Yes ; that is a good idea," returned Lord Hieover.
" This would obviate all sense of banishment, and keep
Ealph in good -humour into the bargain. Besides, if
Miss Clavering consents to dwell only part of each
year with the ' Dukes,' they will be fortunate indeed."
"Most fortunate," returned Mr LeppelL "By all
means let Ireland have a trial."
Every one connected with Marmaduke seemed, by a
happy concordance of ideas, to look upon this plan in
the most favourable light ; and in the general appro-
bation, ready money was offered from Hieover Grange,
just to set things going, and to prevent him from living
entirely on his wife.
Willina Clavering was true to her word. Mr Glas-
cott was pleased that this proposition had come from
herself, and Mrs Glascott, though sparing of her re-
SHARP WORK. 125
marks, made her husband aware that the arrangement
for Willina's change of abode was a matter of very
great relief to her. Why it should be a matter of
relief, Mr Glascott wondered, but did not take the
trouble to inquire. His wife was pleased ; Willina
had her way ; and as it was evident the two young
ladies did not get on well together, it was fortunate
perhaps that his ward had taken a fancy to stay with
the Marmaduke Leppells.
So thinking, he presented Willina with a handsome
sum of money for travelling expenses, as he put it ;
and shortly afterwards the young people set out for
their Irish home.
Colonel Leppell thought it to be his duty to accom-
pany the party, and see them settled in their new
abode. He was not very much wanted just then, as
he was in everybody's way, and gave a great deal of
trouble ; but the inmates of Hunter's Lodge were in
need of a little relaxation, and Willina urged upon her
companions the necessity of some consideration for
Lady Asher was better, but some renovation was
necessary in her apartments, and to effect this with
any degree of success, it was imperative that her son-
in-law should be not only out of the house, but also
out of the country.
" Your papa, you know, Miss Clara," said Prothero
to that damsel, " is all very well just now ; but he has
a nasty habit of going long distances, and coming back
at the most inconvenient seasons. If he was to drop
126 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
in on your grandma as he used to do in the old times,
he might give her a fit. Besides, I won't have it ; he
must go to Ireland, and so I shall tell the ' Dukes/ "
There v^^as no appeal from this verdict. The party,
as has been shov^n, set off for " Connemara v^ay," as
Peggy phrased it, where we will leave them, and
see how Stephen bore his dismissal from his father's
The months which had elapsed immediately upon
the quarrel at Hinton Square passed rather heavily, —
for although the day was generally fully occupied in
tlie usual crowd of business engagements, still the
nights hung dismally, and the loss of pleasant dinner
and evening society was at first a very great blank in
the life of Stephen La Touche.
It takes time in London to form new acquaintances,
and Stephen was one of those men who do not thor-
oughly enjoy any pleasure unless it be shared by some
comrade or friend. Colin, too, whose sterling good
qualities and active sympathy were among his greatest
solaces, had been impelled by force of circumstances to
seek his livelihood in the sister isle. Brydone was a
closed port ; Tring an entrenched fortress. It was only
at Hunter's Lodge, and latterly at Hieover, that he
could hope to meet his betrothed. With all these
.trials, it is easy to perceive that Stephen required to
comport himself with much patience, in order to " win
through " successfully.
One piece of information reached him regarding his
father, through the medium of Colin M'Taggart, to
SHAEP WORK. 127
whom Marcia had thought proper, in a fit of annoy-
ance, to confide the news.
It was to the effect that, some weeks after Steplien's
migration, Mr La Touche had on one fine morning
presented himself rashly in the drawing - room of
Madame Heine's hired house in the character of a
suitor ; and, moreover, had pressed his attentions with
so much persistence, that he had been summarily re-
pulsed and shown the door, with more alacrity and
less ceremony than is usual on the like occasions.
But the cream of the matter, and that which tickled
the risible faculties of honest Colin, was the fact that,
at the same hour, Percival was waiting in the dining-
room of the same house on precisely the same errand.
He happened to be looking out at the window, when
he saw Mr La Touche issue out at the front door, and
walk slowly up the street. There was a defeated look
pervading the old gentleman's whole figure and man-
ner of progression which set his son wondering as
to what the business could be which had brought
his father there at that time of day. He comfort-
ably convinced himself that Mr La Touche had been
meddling in something concerning Madame Heine's
business. Perhaps he had gone so far as to counsel
that lady to change her legal adviser (this he had
threatened to do), and had been told to mind his own
business. Anyhow, a love-suit in that direction never
entered Percival's mind.
How should it ? Not many days before, both Mr
La Touche and his sister had suggested to Percival
128 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
that he should try his luck with Madame Heine. She
had gained another lawsuit, and, consequently, was
better worth securing to the family than ever.
" I have it," almost exclaimed aloud that remark-
ably astute individual. " The old man has thought to
do a stroke of business, and has come here to bespeak
Madame Heine's good opinion. I wish he had let it
alone ; but, at any rate, this explains his visit here."
A slight noise interrupted the course of Percival's
speculations. It was caused by the entrance of
Madame Heine, who, in apologising for his being kept
waiting, stated that she had merely been told that
some one was waiting to see her. Her servant had
believed that it was the man about a mistake in her
The German lady's astonishment was indeed un-
bounded when Percival enlightened her as to the
object of his presence. She had dismissed the father
ungraciously, but, out of respect for his age, without
the least demonstration of the scorn which she felt
towards him ; but in the case of his son she did not feel
called upon to exercise any such restraining power.
Her indignation, in fact, rendered her comparatively
speechless. A few words indicative of strong anti-
pathy fell from her lips ; and then she could only point
to the door, with a gesture implying that this wooer
should instantly withdraw. Percival, either from sur-
prise or from confusion, completely ignored these
signals, and remained standing in the same place, im-
ploring to be heard.
SHARP WORK. 129
This, together possibly with the fact that she was
suffering from previous agitation, was too much for
the lady's patience.
The camel's back was not going to be broken by
this very pertinacious straw. " Will you go once
more, as I tell you ? " cried she. " Do you not think
that I very well know for what come you here. You
shall no more come to my house, and — and you can
now take that."
A tumbler half-full of water had been left standing
on the sideboard. Madame Heine seized it, and, quick
as lightning, dashed the contents into Percival's face ;
then she sped past him, and the last sound of her voice
that the drenched hero ever heard was an order to a
servant to fetch a cab as quickly as possible for that
man in the dining-room, who must go at once.
Thus ended the " wooing of the foreigner " on the
part of Mr La Touche and his eldest son.
It was not long before the secret oozed out. The
old gentleman, betwixt wrath and humiliation, felt the
matter keenly, and was completely satisfied that he
had made a fool of himself. Percival, furious with
anger, and for the sake of pouring that anger into
some safety-valve, had put Marcia ait courant of the
Miss La Touche was not slow in turning the matter
to her own account. She wanted change ; the girls
wanted change. They were, as a family, out of tune
and out of sorts. Suppose a house were taken at
Folkestone, and they would all go down there for a
VOL. III. I
130 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
few weeks? "Nothing like sea -air and moderate
amusement, my dear," continued Marcia, as she saw
that her nephew was inclined towards the plan.
" This house, too, wants a little painting, and it will
be as well if we all go together ; it would avoid all
appearance of a quarrel, or any annoyance having
taken place, don't you see ? "
Percival did see ; and his vision must have been
wonderfully sharpened, for he said, " I will be at the
expense of a furnished house for a month, and we can
all go to Folkestone ; but do you think my father will
move ? He appears to me to be dreadfully dejected ;
he may take it into his head to remain at home."
" Better not," said Marcia. " Many a ball is caught
at the rebound ; and if your father is left in town,
some of these goody, goody women will get hold of
him, and there is no saying who will be brought in
over our heads. The missionary meetings will be quite
a resource and comfort to him now. He must by no
means be allowed to attend them in his present state
" I thought you had arranged for Martha to see him
back in the evenings, and all that ? " said Percival.
" Yes ; but hitherto it has been very inconvenient.
However, Martha is going to be cook-housekeeper
now. You see they won't keep little Anna any longer
at that school, and she is to be returned on our hands
next month. She's had another fit. I have talked
the matter over with your father, and we agree that it
will never do to have an attendant expressly for the
SHARP WORK. 131
child ; it would look too, too medical. So your father
will get another cook, and Martha will have the house-
keeper's room, and Anna will be well looked after. It
won't do for the child to be seen," continued Marcia,
" neither will it do to send her to a private asylum
or into the family of a medical man ; besides, Martha
manages Anna far better than any one else does, and
the little creature is very fond of her father. You see
this will make a nice party, as my brother wants
looking after at times. He is beginning to be very
forgetful ; and really, Percival, work as hard as I like,
I cannot fill seven or eight different posts at once.
Eather too much responsibility for one individual, I
Her nephew stared, and asked her what she meant.
" I mean this : I have to be by turns chaperone,
housekeeper, hostess, upper nurse, secretary, medical
referee, and universal peg upon which the family sev- •
erally and collectively hang their grievances ; and now
I can see that very shortly I shall have to add that of
keeper to your father," returned Marcia, speaking with
" You don't mean that ! " said Percival, aghast.
" I do," returned the aunt. " There is nothing acutely
wrong with your father, but his mind is not what it
was, and I feel sure he will very shortly have to retire
and live in a kind of honourable captivity. Therefore
I think it wise to secure Martha for Anna, and pre-
pare the way for looking after your father — in this
manner it will come as a thing of course. If he
132 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
were to retire, I could not have him on my hands
Percival agreed, but thought it would be a difficult
matter to induce his father to give up the business
entirely. " It is second nature to him," he said.
" We must manage to find him light employment in
meetings and charity organisation affairs," said Marcia.
" He is in his glory in these things ; and, as he does not
put much into the plate at the collections, it will be a
very harmless and inexpensive manner of passing his
time : and he might employ his mornings in calling
on subscribers, and getting subscriptions for various
" But you would not advise Martha being his com-
panion on these missions," said Percival.
" I^ot as a rule ; one of the girls could go with her
father occasionally. It would look domestic and
filial," Marcia replied. '' And it would let people see
that though we mix with the world, yet we are not
above working for the poor and needy, and are "
" Equal to making the best of both worlds," inter-
rupted Percival. " But what are we to do about Folke-
stone ? I don't believe the governor will go, and he
can't be left alone a whole month."
" There's Colin M'Taggart," exclaimed Marcia — " he
is not going to his new place for some time ; he can
come and sit with your father, and even dine with
him. Besides, they might explore the charitable
institutions of London together, and both gain a
great deal of useful information."
SHARP WORK. 133
"Not a bad idea, but I will invite my father to
Folkestone," replied Percival sententiously, " for I want
to keep him in good humour. He is rather put out
concerning that unfortunate Heine affair ; but I must
keep him in good humour, as I said, because it is
imperative that he should see the propriety of retiring
from the business." Percival also cordially approved
of the plan of raising Martha to the dignity of house-
keeper, and proposed that she should entirely give up
all culinary work. " This would be," he said, " a most
natural proceeding, and it would be well that one
who had lived so long in the service of the family
should be intrusted with the care of those members of
it who were accredited with a tendency to being
'■ nervous,' or to going off their heads, after the manner
The old gentleman was duly approached on the sub-
ject of a wholesale migration to Folkestone, but with-
out effect. He was obliged to his son for his invita-
tion, and very glad to find that he was ready to pay
all expenses ; " but," continued Mr La Touche, " I
have had gallivanting enough, and annoyance enough,
and expenditure enough, and for the future I intend
to look in at the office now and then, and stick to
home for the rest of my life."
This announcement was not received with any great
degree of elation by the household of Mr La Touche.
" There was no objection to him personally," one of his
offspring was good enough to declare, " but it was not
pleasant to have the head of the house always at
134 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
home. There would be the chance of his seein(]j
letters which he ought not to see, and of being in the
way when callers arrived who did not care to see him,
and many other objections besides, trivial in them-
selves, but still objections."
"There is one comfort," said Marcia, when the
father's ultimatum was discussed by the younger
people — " your father is out of sorts now, but the old
Adam is not buried within him. Mark my words, in
a few months' time he will be off to some w^atering-
place as gay as a lark."
Marcia did not very much care, now that she had
secured a veritable housekeeper, what her brother
decided to do. Both he and little Anna would be well
looked after for the future, and if either of them
were a little " queer," things would be so ordered that
the outside world need never be a whit the wiser.
So she called unto her Martha, and flattered that
matron, and put her in sole charge, telling her that Mr
La Touche and his whole family regarded her with
every sentiment of attachment and respect. Colin
M'Taggart was to consider himself welcome whenever
he should happen to drop in of an evening, and to
this effect Miss La Touche dedicated an epistle to
The wording of this missive was, however, much
more a permission to enter the house than an invita-
tion to visit it ; and Colin was not one whit blind to
the fact that his aunt was simply making a conveni-
ence of him.
SHARP WORK. 135
" I shall go, however," the good fellow resolved, " for
Stephen's sake. I shall have a better chance of get-
ting my uncle alone, poor weak worldly body ; and
maybe I may manage to bring a reconciliation about :
so much more can be done when that Percival is out of
the way. Eh ! those family disruptions are awful
At a given day the family left London; even
Andrew, the youngest son, whom Percival always
designated as " our clerk," was allowed to participate
in the month's holiday.
Mr La Touche was left alone with the painters and
the housekeeper, and Colin " dropped in " in the even-
ing, and did his best to divert the old man. They
played backgammon, and they discussed home and
foreign affairs in so far as these related to politics.
But, with all his endeavours, Colin could never get his
uncle to speak of his son Stephen. That subject was
evidently forbidden ground ; and perhaps it was as well
that Mr La Touche was ignorant that the little pas-
sages which he and his eldest son had gone through
with Madame Heine had been retailed by Marcia to
their Scotch nephew.
Still it was trying to the latter that his cousin
should be alluded to as being the offender in breaking
the family peace, and it was sometimes with difficulty
that he could refrain from giving his uncle a bit of
his mind on the subject.
On the whole, however, this queerly assorted pair
became friends : the nephew was cordially welcomed
136 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
to the house, and Martha, the housekeeper, was radi-
ant when he appeared.
It more than once struck Colin that, for some
reason or other, this buxom widow seemed very
anxious to secure his good opinion, and that she
was now and then rather pertinacious in her require-
ments that he should make a good report of the
nUnage at Hinton Square, whenever he wrote to
Colin was not supposed to keep up a correspondence
with any of his cousins ; but latterly, his uncle had
requested him to send bulletins about the painting,
and to represent to the family the undesirability of
their return at so early a period as the end of a
month. It was only fair, Colin was requested to
state, that the house should be taken on for another
month, and that the expenses should be borne by the
head of the La Touche family.
The absentees were delighted : Percival gladly per-
mitted his parent to have his way in the matter of
expense, and as Folkestone was very gay, all went
to the satisfaction of every one concerned. It was
pleasant also to find that, in spite of paint and
solitude, the governor was plucking up his spirits,
that he had been to the theatre, had not at-
tempted to attend any "serious" meeting, and had
actually declined to take the chair at a gathering
which had for its object the conversion of the Arab
donkey-boys of Port Said. He and Colin had been
to Wylde's Great Globe in Leicester Square, to which
SHAEP WORK. 137
edifying distraction Martha and little Anna had ac-
companied them. Little Anna had been returned
home ; and in consequence, Colin had seen more of
Martha, and was happy to report that she managed
the little girl well, and that the house at Hinton
Square could not be better conducted in all respects
than it then was.
So far, so good ; and Colin was accordingly ac-
credited by the recipients of the report as possessing
more sense than they had supposed.
A change, however, soon came over the spirit of
their dream, and Colin's powers of caligraphy were
once more called into requisition by his uncle.
Just a week previous to the return of the family,
Mr M'Taggart had been invited by his uncle to dine
at Hinton Square on a particular day — Mr La Touche
observing at the time that it would be the last quiet
and peaceable repast that he ever expected to enjoy
in that house. He was going out of town, he added,
for two or three days upon some business, concerning
which he did not choose that his family should have
any knowledge : he would be back on Thursday, and
would expect to see Colin at six o'clock on the
evening of that day.
Mr M'Taggart accepted the invitation, and in due
time he kept the appointment. He was rather sur-
prised on entering the drawing-room to find Martha
sitting there in handsome attire ; and further, that she
received him after the manner of a hostess receiving a
138 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
The entrance of Mr La Touche explained all.
"Allow me to present you to my wife, Colin," said
he; "we returned this afternoon from Hastings, where
we were married last Saturday."
Colin turned very red, but put out his hand, seeing
that he must make the best of it. " Ye have played
us all an unchancy trick," said he at length, " but it
might have been worse "
"That it might," interposed the bride; "and had
Mr Percival and his aunt not gone wool-gathering
after my 'usband at watering-places, and doing their
best to prevent him marrying a lady in his own line,
they might have seen what has been going on under
their noses. It's done now, and we are going to live
at Wheatley; the tenants are gone by this time."
" I'll get you to write to Aunt Marcia this evening,"
said the bridegroom, " and ask her to come up at once.
Come away now, and let us enjoy our dinner."
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET.
Percival, much to the relief of his aunt, received the
news of his father's marriage with far greater equa-
nimity than either she or any of the family had ex-
pected. Indeed, the former had gone so far as to
opine that, all circumstances considered, it was perhaps
the best thing the old gentleman could do.
This dutiful son declared that Mr La Touche was
beginning to be a nuisance in the business. " In fact,"
said he, " my father might have retired from it with
advantage more than a year ago ; but at that time he
would not even listen to any such proposition."
It was only a few weeks back, Percival informed his
aunt, that Mr La Touche had made some overtures to
a foreign firm, which were so peculiar and preposterous
that they had to be immediately cancelled, and some
excuse advanced for what must have appeared as
either the wanderings of intellect or some very cul-
pable perversion of business regime. Again, some of
the correspondence had become very much neglected
140 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
of late, and, in addition to this, two glaring mistakes
had appeared in the accounts, all of which was trace-
able to the elder partner. So all was as well ; and
Percival expressed himself convinced that Martha
would take care of his father, and, above all things,
prevent him from playing tricks with his money.
" She's a fairly good - looking woman, too," said
Marcia; "and when dressed in black silk and with
violet ribbons in her cap, would look as well as many
a higher-born lady. Have you made all the money
arrangements with your father ? " she inquired, look-
ing at Percival.
" Yes ; my father will retire from the business alto-
gether. He will draw £1200 a-year for his life from
it. This, with Wheatley, will make him very com-
fortable. It is a cheap arrangement on the whole,"
continued Percival, " for he might persist in remaining
in the business and draw much more. It is hardly to
be expected that any eligible person would hamper
herself with him now," volunteered Mr La Touche ;
" and Martha is respectable and knows his ways. She
is well educated, too, for her position in life ; besides,
it is money saved to get one of the family to live at
Wheatley. It did not pay to let it. The last tenants
have left the place in a scandalous condition."
" What about the provision for Martha ? " asked
Marcia, sharply. " Of course, something has to be
done for her."
" Four hundred a-year is settled upon her at my
father's death, with the distinct understanding that
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 141
she leave Wheatley immediately on that' event. The
arrangement allows her to marry again without any
loss of jointure. This, you see, compensates for the
evacuation of Wheatley."
Here Percival winked, as if to signify that a very
decided stroke of good business had been thus scored,
and that, thanks to his judicious manipulation, matters
were turning out far better than might have been
prognosticated at the first blush of this untoward
business. So Marcia felt, and she determined that as
Martha was now her brother's wife, it only remained
to utilise her as much as possible for the family
benefit. Mrs La Touche should improve the occa-
sion, and turn her talents in the direction of renovat-
ing Wheatley, making good the waste places of that
domain, and straightening its crooked paths. There
was a fine field wherein Martha could exercise her
talents, and Percival would be all the better of the
improvements that would undoubtedly be made, when
the legitimate time should arrive for his coming into
possession of this small manor of Wheatley.
So, agreeing that " all's well that ends well," Miss
La Touche sought out Martha, and graciously proposed
that they should conjointly travel down to Wheatley,
and ascertain the condition in which the house and
furniture were really left, Percival's report having
been much too sketchy to be acted upon with any
degree of faith.
"You know," said Marcia, wisely, "you'll never
get as much again as you will by striking now, when
142 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the iron is hot. Mr Percival is in a good humour,
and will, I think, give a small sum towards repairs
and so forth. Suppose we go down to-morrow morn-
ing, and see for ourselves what is most needed."
The bride willingly acquiesced in this proposition,
and Marcia immediately set to work, and that vigor-
ously. She pressed upon Percival the desirability of
a little ready money being advanced in order to supply
that portion of the furniture which was beyond reno-
vation, and also for new gravelling the walks and
repairing the outbuildings. "The place, you know,
will be your own," said Marcia, as she urged her plea ;
" besides, a couple of hundred pounds in Martha's
hands will go twice as far as the same sum in those
of many another woman. Then," continued she, put-
ting what ought to be the first consideration last on
the list, " your father is entitled to a clean and decent
house wherein to end his days — remember that."
A sum of money was, after some deliberation,
allotted by both father and son to the refurbishing of
Wheatley, to which abode the family collectively
agreed that tlie newly-wedded pair should be encour-
aged to betake themselves with all possible celerity.
Marcia, in consequence, accompanied her sister-in-
law early on the morrow to Wheatley, to view the
wreckage left by the late tenants of that domicile.
It was no matter of surprise (had Marcia known it)
that, in addition to other outrages, such as serving
as a tent-covering at summer picnics, and as a foot-
walk on snowy nights when balls at Christmas-tide
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 143
demanded that the outer walks of the mansion should
be protected alike from soil and thaw — it was not to
be wondered at that, after these rough experiences,
the hall carpet should be all tattered and torn, and
that Marcia, whilst taking up a bunch of its threads
on the point of her parasol, should exclaim, " Dis-
graceful ! too bad ! dis-gra-ce-f ul ! "
" Oh, the carpet, you mean," said Mrs La Touche,
who had been busy in counting, by the places left
void, the number of Dutch tiles which would be re-
quired to reinstate the hall fireplace in its pristine
glory. " That rag ! it should be burnt at once. Why,
your brother. Miss Marcia, might trip up and fall and
'urt himself in those strings ; and where should we
all be ? "
Marcia replied " she did not know ; but it was very
" Well, I know," returned the bride, " that I should
be a 'usband out of pocket. So please put down,
under the head of ' articles absolutely necessary,' new
Turkey or Persian carpet for 'all."
Marcia made the entry ; and then suddenly looking
up, exclaimed, " Why, what on earth have they ja-
panned the hall - lamp for ? They have actually
japanned that nice crystal lamp. Oh, Mr La Touche
will be so vexed when he sees it."
Martha looked up and surveyed the pendant with
the eye of an expert. " It's not japanned, ma'am," she
said at length; "that's good honest dirt, fine brown
colour. It can be cleaned, but it wants time."
H4 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
As Marcia was still unconvinced, the caretaker was
summoned, and the lamp, between them, was carefully
unhooked from its chain. Mrs La Touche had not
been mistaken ; the whole of the glass was tinted of
a rich chocolate-brown colour, hardened at the rims
by a thick layer of grease, and the end of a candle lay
consumed in its own smoke in the interior socket. It
was plain that the uncleaned glass had been covered
for months with the vaporous exhalation of dying
candle-wicks, and that layers of dirt had contributed
to render the lamp effectually opaque in the light of
day. It could be cleaned, of course ; but it was not
to be expected that a house-agent should take cog-
nisance of trifles deteriorating to the property of his
employer. Custom had rendered the neglect of a
hired furnished house a common occurrence on the
part of the occupants. The owner might have substi-
tuted another lamp if he held this particular luminary
in especial value.
So argue the majority of folks ; and, meeting dis-
honesty with dishonesty, many are led to furbish
their habitations with inferior ware, to save the risk
of being utterly despoiled.
The lip of a large blue-and-white Chinese vase was
next discovered to be broken off in a compact wedge.
This piece of porcelain stood under the hall table, but
its undamaged side had not been sufficiently placed to
the front ; and as Marcia was now on the look-out
for damages, instead of meeting them half-way, she
quickly perceived this fracture. " How can this have
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 145
happened ? " said she ; " they can't have washed the
babies in this, because we were so particular not to
let the house to people with a nursery party. Dear,
dear, what a shame it is ! "
" Perhaps the people had visitors who brought their
babies with them," suggested Martha.
" I think, mem," said the caretaker, cutting in, and
taking up her parable on the precedent, probably, of
parrots in general being named Polly — "I think it
must have been that Polly as done it. He laid his
heggs in that there bowl. I know, because the foot-
man asked my master to give 'un some shavings to
put at the bottom of it ; because, you see, the chaney
slopes down very sudden, and there would not have
been room for the bird to turn comfortable ; so they
propped up his nest to the centre like, and he had
some fine eggs. I did hear that Polly had broke some-
thing, and I do believe it was this very chaney thing.
He used to run and hide in here when he wanted to get
away from people : it's nice and high, you see, mem."
Mrs Bubb — that was the caretaker's name — seemed
positively to revel in her disclosures ; and to allow her
mind to be disturbed at the spoliation of property
which she was at that moment being paid to protect,
would have been indeed quite a novel distraction.
"You see, mem," she continued, as she discovered
indignation expressed on Marcia's features, "people
don't take so much care in a furnished 'ouse; they
thinks they pays for all them little mischances and
VOL. IIL K
146 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" They don't pay," returned Marcia, in exasperation.
" We have not heard a word about these breakages.
The house-agent has let the people depart, and I don't
think Mr La Touche has received a penny for dam-
ages. Well, let us go into the dining-room and see
how that has fared."
This apartment seemed to have met with fairly
decent treatment ; but the handsome mahogany tables
which, in former times, shone resplendent in polish,
were now unkempt and tarnished ; and in several
places rings of various sizes and hues, and interlaced
and entangled the one within the other, testified un-
mistakably that more ponderous vessels than the
ordinary wine-glass and tumbler had figured and left
their mark in the feasts of the late denizens of the
" What on earth can this huge mark mean ? " said
Marcia, following with her finger a circle which stood
out conspicuous in size and dimensions above its lesser
brethren. " Can you tell us what it is, Mrs Bubb ? "
"Well, 'em, you see, 'em, it was the claret-cup
flagon, or maybe the chaney bowl from up-stairs.
The day as they had the bow-and-arrer party, Mr
Dallas, he had all the tables out on the lawn, and
they was a'most covered with beer-jugs and claret-
cup and bottles and glasses, and that there great
chaney bowl out of the drawin'-room, it stood in the
middle, and smoked beautiful, it did."
" Smoked ! " exclaimed Marcia — " the bowl smoked,
you say ! "
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 147
" That 'a did, mem. Mrs Dallas's brother — such a
nice free gentleman ! — from the Hindies, he brewed a
foreign drink in it — Sankyree, I think he called it,
after a Jamaica negro who was converted to see his
lights in the Gospel," Mrs Bubb went on, sanctimon-
iously. " They ladled out this Sankyree in wooden
spoons, and every one had a taste. I was in luck, as
Mrs Dallas 'ad me in to wash up, and help wait on
" You don't mean to say that Mrs Dallas allowed a
hot drink to be brewed in that splendid, valuable
china bowl, which was placed on a side-table in the
drawing-room to receive visiting-cards ? " said Marcia.
" I do, 'em ; Mr Fast said that bowl was used in the
ark for Noah's drop of comfort in the wet to be brewed
in, and that he was only restoring the chaney to its
legitimate use in the dry. Oh, he was a funny gentle-
man was Mr Fast, mem. Did you never happen to
see him ? "
" I wish I had seen him brewing sangaree in that
bowl," replied Marcia, quite viciously for her; "Mr Fast
would never have forgotten the interview. I suppose
I have to hear that the bowl was smashed to pieces
after the party," she went on to say, more than pink
in the face from exasperation.
" Oh dear no, mem," answered Mrs Bubb ; " it rather
did 'un good. We put it back quite careful, and I
washed 'un myself with a bit of soda in the warm
water to get out the smell of the rum — it's got quite
a polish, it has."
148 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" It would have been as well if you had turned your
attention to cleaning the dining-room tables," inter-
vened Mrs La Touche, wdth a touch of acid in her
voice. " But wait awhile, my good woman ; in a very
short time I will show you what a dining-table for a
gentleman's house should be like : this looks as if it
had come out of a tavern. Faugh ! how it smells."
They ascended to the drawing-room, which was a
handsome and well-proportioned apartment, and ter-
minated at its south end in a large bow- window which
opened out on a wide verandah, supported from beneath
by light iron pillars.
The view from this, over an extensive lawn and
graceful trees of every hue which green and grey
and gold and brow^n can present, was very fair to
look upon : it would be difficult to decide whether
the near landscape or the far-off prospect were the
more beautiful. Here tint and colour of every
shade in nature on flower and shrub ; there deep soft
shadow toning the pure effulgence of heaven's light.
An air of repose was imparted by the appearance of
the furniture, which was not only comfortable but in
good keeping wdth the style of the house ; and this
room, which was free of the guilt of being crammed
with useless cheap nick-nacks, must, at any season
of the year, have been a very charming retreat.
Marcia, to her great astonishment and to her still
greater relief, found the china bowl in perfect condition.
Some visiting-cards rested in its cavity, and no signs
of the backslidings in which it had acted as a passive
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 149
instrument were visible either on its inner or outer
Mollified by the result of a very minute examina-
tion of the china bowl, Miss La Touche was enabled
to look around with some complacency, and save a
little wear and tear and some general shabbiness,
which was to be expected, the ladies had so far
reason to congratulate themselves upon the aspect of
things in this part of the house.
" One does not expect to find much rough handling
in the quarter especially set aside for ladies," said
Mrs La Touche, looking upwards as she made the
remark. The sight that met her view, however,
caused her to retract the expression of her opinion
in this case, for high up, ahnost close to the ceiling,
at irregular distances and in irregular lines, a num-
ber of unsightly holes dotted the surface of the
white-and-gold wall-paper, coloured here and there
with an ashy burnt-looking stain — such a mark, in
fact, as would remain after the application of heated
wire or of a small red-hot poker.
The two ladies gazed in wonder at this piece of
handiwork, and it was in vain that they sought a
solution of its meaning.
Here Mrs Bubb was totally at fault as a referee.
There was only only one conclusion at which they
could arrive, and that was that the expensive panel-
paper on that side of the room was irremediably spoilt,
for here and there strips and ugly scraps of the same
were peeling off — all these strongly tinged with tlie
150 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
hue which suggested destruction by flame. It was of
no use to waste time in speculation, but Marcia vowed
she would arrest the house-agjent and the late tenants
(who were en route for the West Indies), and insist
upon a clear explanation and a new wall-paper.
As her eye travelled downwards, it lighted on a
handsome bracket which was appended midway
against the wall, and had evidently been provided
for the support of some ornament or work of art.
It was now entirely void, and Marcia drew her breath
short and quick as she surveyed it. At last she spoke —
" Where's the Eve ? Eve at the fountain I mean,
" The Heve at the fountain, mem ? " returned Mrs
Bubb, looking as imperturbable as the bracket itself.
" I knows of no Heve ? "
" You do. You know Adam's wife ; the first woman
— our first mother," replied Marcia, with an angry
glare. "A figure carved in marble, with her hair
hanging about her and nothing on, looking into some
water — she stood on this bracket ; do you know any-
thing about it ? "
"It were an himage, mem," answered Mrs Bubb,
brought to bay. " Oh, yes ! the 'air was 'eavenly — I
" It was a statuette — a figure," continued Marcia,
severely. " Where is it ? "
" Well, 'em, I fancies it was the ornament of a
female as my girl liad a misfortune with. She was
'elping the 'ousemaid here after a party, and "
A FUENISHED HOUSE LET. 151
" Your girl had a misfortune ! what do you mean ? "
" Yes, 'em — a real misfortune. She was dusting with
a long-'aired broom, trying to kiver up them 'oles, and
the broom caught in this in-and-out carving, and over
went the marble figure. It fell and broke of itself,
mem. My girl had nothing to do with that — oh, no ;
it came to pieces of his-self."
" This is too dreadful," exclaimed poor Marcia,
turning to Mrs La Touche. " I cannot think what
Fanny will say. Her godfather had this statuette
sculptured expressly for her at Eome, and sent it over
on her birthday with the bracket. We placed it here
because Fanny thought that the air of London might
injure the marble ; it is the finest Carrara marble,
without a vein. Where are the pieces ? " inquired
Marcia, turning suddenly on Mrs Bubb. " Of course
you have kept them ? "
" Oh dear, no, mem," responded that functionary,
with the utmost coolness ; " the ^ousemaid and my
girl swep' up the bits sharp : some of it was near
ground to powder; and, Lord, 'em," continued Mrs
Bubb, in what she rneant to be a conciliatory tone, " I
wouldn't mind, if I was you : after all, that Heve was
only a naked vulgar himage, and maybe the sweep-
ing on it away might be one of them dispensations of
Providence we hears so much about nowadays: you
know, 'em, morals asks for clothes."
Marcia could hardly restrain a smile ; and as there
was evidently no redress to be obtained, she was fain
to endure the loss of the statuette, and resolve to con-
152 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
sider, at some other time, how the disaster could be
made good to the rightful owner of this work of art.
It was plain that the late tenants could not be held
accountable for this piece of devastation ; so as time
was wearing on, Miss La Touche concluded to drop
the subject, and to meet at once whatever other reve-
lations might be in store for her.
The upper storey, which contained the principal
dormitories of the house, next underwent examina-
tion. Here there was little of which to complain ;
but on ascending higher up, the lath and plaster
which formed the dividing wall between two garret
rooms was found to be perforated by two enormous
holes, which had evidently been recently punctured,
with a design which was not at once apparent to a
casual observer. As a bed was placed on either side
of the wall opposite to these apertures, Marcia imme-
diately rushed to a conclusion.
'' Evidently these have been driven through on either
side for the purpose of establishing some communica-
tion," said that lady, — " a footman on one side, I dare-
say, and a kitchen-maid on the other. Scandalous ;
" No, 'em — no, mem ; no impropriety whatsumnever,"
cut in Mrs Bubb, who had lagged behind, and just
arrived in time to catch the exclamation concerning
impropriety. " Impropriety ! Oh laws, no, 'em ; they
was two girls as slep' in these rooms, the daughters of
a friend of Mrs Dallas. They were on a visit here
with their mar last Christmas ; and they caught influ-
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 153
enzy colds ; and as the 'ouse was full of company, they
were put up here."
" Quite right," replied Mrs La Touche ; " the furni-
ture here is very comfortable, and the rooms contain
a fireplace apiece. But the young ladies did not punch
these holes svirely, or spoil the wall in this shameful
manner ? "
" We cannot just call it spoil, mem," answered Mrs
Bubb, in a deprecatory tone. " They was dull, poor
things ; so Mr Fast — he was such a nice kind gentle-
man — he bored them 'oles, so that the young ladies
could talk through comfortably without leaving their
beds. You see, 'em," continued Mrs Bubb, in expla-
nation, " there is not room in these garrets for more
than one bed, as there was to be a fire kep' up con-
stant for each lady, and we couldn't crowd two beds
into the small space ; so Mr Fast he managed this
plan, — he is one, mem, as thinks it his duty to make
things comfortable all round, that he do."
" I wish he had thought it his duty to respect the
property which does not belong to him ! " exclaimed
Marcia. " Mrs Dallas ought to have been ashamed
of herself to have such a brother. But how do you
know all this ? are you quite sure of what you say ? "
" Quite sure, 'em. I was 'ad in to help nuss the
young ladies for a week ; and then there was a good
deal of cleaning up. 'Cause when they got better, Mr
Fast used to come up and make toffey, and they as
often as not let the sugar bile over. You see that
burn on the boards there ? "
154 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Yes, plainly enough," answered Miss La Touche.
" That was where they let the bottom of the pan fall
out ; it was scalding 'ot, and the sugar ran all down
that board, and some cinders dropped out with the
pan, and them, with the biling sugar, did make the
boards near ablaze : we nearly had the 'ouse afire that
time ; but it was a job to get rid of the mess they made
that afternoon. Mr Fast, dear gentleman, gave me
arf-a-crown to say nothing about it to Mrs Dallas,
'cause she was mortal afeard of fire."
" I am glad there was something she was afraid of
in this house," said Marcia ; " we may be thankful to
have escaped so well. You know, I suppose, that Mr
La Touche is coming to live here himself as soon as
the place can be made ready ? "
Mrs Bubb had heard so, and further, that he had
married lately somebody the family didn't quite ap-
prove of, — '' but low ! bless 'ee," continued that excel-
lent woman, " what's the odds ? he's 'appy, and in a
few years it will save the expense of a nurse."
Mrs La Touche had walked into a store-room before
Mrs Bubb had delivered her news and her opinions,
and Marcia put an end to further conversation on this
topic by saying, " That lady who is with me is Mrs La
Touche. Have the goodness to speak of her with re-
spect. She will be sole mistress here — and a very
good wife and mistress she will be, as all those whom
my brother may employ will soon know."
Thoroughly crushed and subdued by Marcia's man-
ner, Mrs Bubb protested that she was quite ready to
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 155
believe this ; and with the fear of being left out of the
list of the occasionally employed of Wheatley, she now
attended Mrs La Touche with marked humility, and
finally begged of that lady that the affair of the " him-
age " might not go against her girl should an under-
'ousemaid be wanted for the future service of the
The mansion having been thoroughly gone through,
there were merely the greenhouses and a small conser-
vatory to inspect. These were to be kept up to their
utmost capabilities, as so many flowers were required
for the London house ; and Percival was inexorable
in his determination never to be supplied by any
nurseryman in town. It had been a point in the
arrangement that flowers and fruit were to be sent
to Hinton Square once a-week at least. Mrs La
Touche and Marcia had willingly entered into this
agreement, because they each believed that the culti-
vation of the nursery -pi ants would be an interest for
little Anna. It was therefore necessary that every-
thing should be in good order, and some extra expense
be incurred, if necessary, to replenish the greenhouses
and supply the latest improvements in gardening uten-
sils and machinery.
It was well that they were prepared to meet some
deficit : the state of the flower-garden was disgraceful
to a degree, and the damage in the greenhouse such
as to outvie their wildest expectations. Broken stoves,
severed pipes, melon-frames destitute of glass (it tran-
spired that these last had been set up as a mark by
156 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Mr Fast for the game of Aunt Sally, vnthout Aunt Sally
proper), rows of cracked flower-pots, wire-stands, with
their component parts twisted out of shape, rusty
rakes, with a complement of ragged matting and
undistinguishable litter, intermingled with a spike
here and a nail there, testified to the most wanton
neglect and destruction.
Some pointer puppies had been reared in the larger
greenhouse, and they with their mother had, in the
first glory of their youthful gambols, playfully cap-
sized some dozens of pot-plants, and made a happy
huntingj-Ejround of each wooden tub that contained
an orange-tree. This was all very delightful for the
puppies and Mr Fast their owner, no doubt ; but the
point of view did not command any idea of hilarity,
or even of decent mirth, on the part of either Marcia
or Mrs La Touche. They computed that at least
£70 would have to be laid out in the renovations
necessary to restore the gardening and flower depart-
ment to the state of order in which it had been origi-
nally handed over to these dreadful tenants just
three years ago — and they were incensed, and justly
A helper in the stables afterwards threw some
light on the matter of the damaged wall-paper in
the drawing-room. This would not at the first blush
appear to have been the proper source from whence
the like information should be obtained ; but it ap-
peared that in some of the festivities at Wheatley,
under the late rdgime, the places of the servitors got
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 157
occasionally somewhat mixed. Thus it occurred on
one cold night, the redoubtable Mr Fast and some of
his friends (Mrs Dallas nothing loath), with the
object of whiling away the time, amused themselves
by throwing their lighted cigars up on high against
the drawino" - room wall towards a oiven mark — it
being, at the same time, agreed that the gentleman
who threw the highest above that mark should be
entitled to the bets then made.
This game was so exciting upon another occasion,
that most of the household retired to rest, leaving
the players in sole possession of the (drawing-room)
field. The helper had come up to the house late to
receive orders about a horse belonging to one of the
visitors, and as this man enjoyed the reputation of
being exceptionally sharp of eye, he was, in con-
sequence, called up to decide which was the higher
of two shots, these appearing to be on the same level
to the persons then present, who claimed to possess
the ordinary powers of vision only.
The man averred that there was a difference of half
an inch between the two shots, and he was then sent
to fetch a ladder in order that his dictum might be
verified. A minute examination proved the stable-
helper to be in the right, and a donation of five
shillings from the winner probably fixed the circum-
stance in his mind.
" You did not think that these gentlemen were com-
mitting a gross outrage on Mr La Touche's property ? "
inquired Marcia, as she listened to these revelations.
158 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
The man replied that he didn't know as he did.
" You see it was a hired liouse, ma'am, and Mr
Dallas paid 'ansome," he continued, in explanation ;
" but it was a pity, sure, for that wall-paper to be
spoiled. I thought as much at the time, but then
as my employers didn't seem to take any heed, it
was not my place to make remarks."
" You are right, quite right, my man," said Mrs La
Touche, energetically ; " it would be well for all the
preaching and teaching that goes on in the world
if a little of it were directed towards a better under-
standing of the laws of common honesty (putting
honour out of the question) on the part of those who
deal with the possessions of their neighbour under
trust. I have a great opinion of going to the foun-
tain-head wherever reformation is needed. Mr and
Mrs Dallas certainly paid for the use of this house
and furniture, but it was with the implied under-
standing that the property would be treated with
as much care as people usually bestow on their own.
They have certainly failed in doing this."
" And that house-agent," interrupted Marcia — " I
wish he had failed in another sense : it was his
business to note these damages, and get compensa-
tion for them ; and I know he attends missionary
meetings, and talks about converting the heathen.
Bah ! I really do think people should mend their
own ways, and set the heathen a better example or
leave them alone ; he and that Mr Fast ought to be
sent to jail — they really ought."
A FURNISHED HOUSE LET. 159
Martha smiled. " I am no great scholar," she said
at length, " but I have read somewhere that evil is
wrought as much by want of thought as by want of
heart. I think this is a case, Miss Marcia, of — of that
style of thing. Well, it shall be my duty and effort
to make up for all this destruction, and don't you
think we have had enough of annoyance for one
day ? The journey back to town through this lovely
country will cheer us up ; and after all, we may have
injured our neighbour without meaning to do so some
time in our lives, although it may not have been with
furnished houses, and all in the lump."
" By all means let us go back," assented Marcia ;
" I am so disgusted that I am glad to turn my back
on the place."
They took leave of the attendants, and as soon as
they were fairly out of hearing, the stable-helper pro-
pounded his opinion that Mrs La Touche was not half
a bad woman, and further declared his intention of
sticking up for her against any person or persons who
might venture to assert that old Mr La Touche had
not acted wisely in the choice of a second wife. Thus
vowed the stable-helper.
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES EUSES D'AMOUR."
The progress of time sufficiently proved to the family
of Mr La Touche that his second marriage, against
which so many useless precautions had been taken,
had in all respects turned out much more satisfac-
torily than the majority of unequal alliances usually
do. Martha not only showed herself an incompar-
able wife, but she also had the good sense to abstain
from all interference with her husband's children, and
even from comment on their actions, however impru-
dent or irrational these might sometimes appear to be.
Five years had now rolled away, and change and
death had fallen slowly upon some of the near, as also
upon some of what may perhaps be termed the out-
lying, friends of the La Touche circle.
Lord Hieover died somewhat suddenly a few months
after Mrs Leppell, and his son Alexander was now
Viscount, with all the honours and all the revenues
lawfully appertaining to that dignity. Colonel Lep-
pell's debts had been partially paid, in consequence of
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'aMOUR." 161
the provision left in his father's will for that purpose ;
an annuity for life being also settled upon him. Some
little money was also left to each one of the Colonel's
children ; but these bequests were not very highly
appreciated, and Uncle Alick, on all hands, bore the
blame of having influenced the late Viscount malev-
olently in their disfavour.
But, like marriages, testamentary bequests seldom
meet with unqualified approbation from all concerned.
The new Viscount insisted that his brother and his
family were more than well treated, and that they
had received quite as much as they had any right to
expect. " It behoved them," said that relative, " to
behave themselves decently, one and all ; for upon the
good behaviour of the Hunter's Lodge people some of
the dispositions in his own will would very certainly
This statement had the effect of bringing Colonel
Leppell — who had been inclined to be very violent
regarding the will — to something like reason ; and
amicable relations, or at any rate the appearance of
them, were eventually kept up between the Grange
and the Lodge.
" Must do one's duty by one's own children," said
Ealph to Colonel Guyse, to whom he had imparted his
opinions rather freely on this matter ; " else I feel very
much inclined to cut the Viscount."
" But why so ? " had asked Colonel Guyse.
" Because he ought to have made my father leave
me double what he has left us all. He influenced every
VOL. III. L
162 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
particle of that will, I feel convinced; and — and he
ought to have one of my daughters to live at Hieover
with him, and provide for her handsomely and —
" Suppose he were to marry ? " suggested Colonel
" Oh, he'll never do that; there we are quite safe,"
returned the Colonel. " Alick was always rather shy
of the ladies ; they are not much in his line."
" But Mr Glascott, who was supposed to be a con-
firmed bachelor, married, and married a young woman
too," persisted Colonel Guyse ; " you can never be
sure of what people will do where marriage is con-
cerned. Don't you remember the speech of old Lady
Wiggins, when her son expressed his surprise at a
Puritan parson marrying an actress, — ' My dear, in the
matter of matrimony, I can believe anything of any-
hody.' Sharp old lady that. I have no reason for
giving you the advice ; but if I were you, I would
not trust to Alick's not marrying."
His friend hawed and puffed, and finally yielded to
Colonel Guyse's advice. This was to keep in with
his brother. " Duke, you know, is doing fairly well
in that Irish place, and Alick often goes down there,
and seems to be kind : don't spoil Duke's prospects by
irritating your brother," urged Colonel Guyse. "As you
wisely say, much must be endured for the sake of one's
children. However, it is a blessing that the Viscount
has taken so kindly to Marmaduke's wife," and with
this remark Colonel Guyse went his way.
"VIVEXT LES FEMMES POUE LES KUSES D'AMOUE." 163
Mary Clavering had lost two infants successively, and
at the time only the eldest born remained to this pair.
Immersed in scientific pursuit as Frank always was,
he still maintained, and showed that he maintained, a
proud affection for this child. This was peculiarly
pleasing to his wife, as he was never more than on
bowing acquaintance with the other babies, and it was
comforting to see that he could condescend to toy
with infancy, and take pleasure in the sports of his
This child was naturally of an unusually cold
nature ; but at the same time he entertained an
affection for his father which was almost passionate.
He neither suffered nor returned any caresses from
his mother or from any other person. It had been so
from his birth, and much grief had Mary suffered on
this account. During the last visit which the Glas-
cotts paid to Tring he relaxed a little towards Lillian,
who certainly courted him as she had never courted
juvenile before. It was not by any means a usual
sight to behold Mrs Glascott walking about with
another woman's child in her arms, nor to see her
rise half-a-dozen times during a quarter of an hour
to find a ball, or inspect the bodiless heads of a hand-
ful of the denizens of a iSToah's ark.
It was a pretty sight, however, and Mr Glascott
revelled therein. To Francis Clavering it was patent
enough that these attentions were paid because their
recipient was his son.
But although mollified by Mrs Glascott's amenities.
164 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the boy was an argumentative precocious child, and
capable also of that reticence which is generally so
foreign to childhood. His father could only account
for this, as he manipulated his son's head phrenolog-
ically, by the statement that the boy would maintain
his own in the world, and eventually make a good
But yet another death occurred at the end of that
five years, which considerably exercised the minds of
the collective family of La Touche. Aunt Kemble,
who had been throughout that time calmer and
much more rational under the management of Dr
Williams, failed suddenly. As is sometimes the
case in similar affections, the mind seemed all at
once to assert itself, and the last twenty-four hours
of that poor lady's life were as lucid as might be
those of a person who had always enjoyed sound
She directed that her dear nephew Stephen should
be sent for, declaring that she died in charity with the
rest of her relations, but enjoining Dr Williams at the
same time not to send for any of them until the breath
was out of her body. She also reminded her physi-
cian that her will was deposited with his lawyers, and
enjoined him to be firm in her nephew's interests,
should any dispute regarding the validity of the same
be attempted. Thus this innocent unoffending woman
took her leave of a world in which she had borne
much and suffered much and long.
She had the satisfaction of seeing her nephew before
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'AMOUR." 165
the insensibility which so often mercifully precedes
dissolution set in. He had been in the room an
hour, and bade the last solemn farewell, when
patient and meek Aunt Arabella yielded up her
soul to God, and perhaps then learned the great
secret of the injustice and cruelty which are per-
mitted to break the hearts of the majority of human
creatures on this earth.
Mr La Touche, to do him justice, had intended to
attend the funeral ; but a severe attack of illness,
which really incapacitated him from moving, obliged
him to keep his bed. It had been decreed that to
bring the body up to Wheatley, where the family
vault was, would be an unnecessary expense. Mrs
Kemble could be buried in the locality in which her
death took place, and they would put up a small monu-
ment; but Marcia thought and said that this last
should be the business of the Kemble connection.
Aunt Arabella had borne their name, and it was only
fair that some of that family should at least contrib-
ute to the erection of a decent gravestone.
The " Kemble connection," however, declined to do
anything of the kind, and pointed out, with an ac-
curacy which was reduced to a day, how many years
the La Touche aunt had " enjoyed " the Kemble join-
ture. Percival was quite ready for war on this point ;
but Marcia prevented him from writing an unseemly
letter, and finally abstracted from the housekeeping
accounts the sum which this nephew would have been
required to contribute had the gravestone in question
166 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
been set up as a joint tribute of the family to Mrs
The appearance of the will, however, upset all these
glimmerings of respect towards the deceased. The
elder Mr La Touche was too ill to be angry ; but he
gave his wife extra trouble in nursing him, and once
refused his soup on the strength of his disappointment.
Marcia could not have believed it, and felt sure that
Stephen would divide Aunt Kemble's money fairly
betwixt his father and herself, the only two remaining
lives of the elder generation — the old gentleman in
the Dumfries asylum going for nothing in this esti-
mate. Tiresome as Stephen had been about that
Heine business, still his aunt always gave him credit
for being commonly honest, &c. ; and so she went on
until she almost talked herself into the belief that
this nephew had a hand in drawing up Mrs Kemble's
It was very fortunate that so much care had been
taken at the first to prevent the least accident, which
might serve as a pretext for disputing the deceased
lady's intentions, or questioning her capability of
managing her affairs.
Her trustee was alive, as was also the lawyer who
had received Mrs Kemble's instructions previous to
preparing her will. Dr Williams and Mr Fanshawe
could, if necessary, testify to the fact of Mrs Kemble
having surrendered the document, by their hands, into
The crowning evidence, however, was contained in
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUE LES EUSES D'AMOUE." 167
a letter which Mr La Touche addressed to his sister,
negotiating the sale of a horse at the time of her
In that epistle the brother gave Mrs Kemble much
credit for the manner in which she was disposing of
her superfluous goods, and warmly praised her for her
tact and sound common-sense. It may, perhaps, be
added that Mr La Touche hoped to procure the animal
at a much lower price than it was really worth ; con-
sequently his expressions may be taken with some
limitation and question.
However, the epistle which contained them stood
Stephen in very good stead : a few furious letters
were written, and threatening measures were also
resorted to, but these were of course futile. Stephen
proved the will, and no opposition of any kind oc-
The amount which was bequeathed him was not
very much, and his relatives were not, perhaps, so
much aggTieved at the loss of the money as they were
provoked at his getting the whole sum. It was also
considered a terrible deceit that a will of Aunt
Kemble's should have been laid up in lavender for so
many years without the slightest knowledge on the
part of her immediate family — except the party most
interested — that it had ever existed.
This so affronted Percival that he thought it good
to invade Dr Williams and demand explanations — as
his brother no longer, on account of the insolence of
their style, took any notice of his letters. Arriving at
168 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the physician's establishment, he there comported
himself so outrageously, that the latter began to be
alarmed lest he should be compelled to detain this
relative of his late patient, and secure him in a strong-
room as a decidedly dangerous lunatic.
A hint to this effect quickly toned down the current
of Percival's wrath. Dr Williams was a strong man,
and strong keepers also pervaded the premises. He
thought it well, therefore, having unburdened his
mind, to obey the doctor's directions, which were that
he should quit the house immediately, and trouble
that place no more.
Although Stephen gained some advantage from his
legacy in one sense, his possession of it served mate-
rially to embitter the estrangement which existed
between himself and his family. His father's wife
had been unremittmg in her endeavours that her
husband and his son should at least become outwardly
reconciled, and Stephen had gone down to Wheatley
shortly after the marriage, and had been graciously
received. Mrs La Touche was gratified at the respect
with which he treated her, and also at the candour
with which the young man spoke to her of his love-
affairs. He could not, he said, understand why, hav-
ing married to his own liking, his father should be so
pertinacious in refusing his consent to his engage-
ment with Miss Clavering.
Mrs La Touche solved this enigma, and it is pos-
sible that her solution was much nearer the point than
any that Stephen might have suggested to himself.
" VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'aMOUR." 169
" It is all very well laying it on Percival," said she.
" I haven't served in your house without knowing
how he rules my 'usband and Miss Marcia, and all on
account of the money ; but I know also that in their
hearts his opinion does not go for very much. No,
Mr Stephen, it isn't Percival that is the actual draw-
"Who? — what, then?" inquired Stephen in aston-
" To my mind, the fault just lies between the two
old gentlemen — your father and Mr Glascott. They
have pleased themselves in their own marriages, but
that won't do you or Miss Clavering any good. The
real truth is that they are obstinate, and they are both
offended at each other for daring to disapprove of the
engagement of their young people. My 'usband is
dreadfully put out at Mr Glascott making such a
strong point of the insanity objection ; he has often
come over it with me."
" But you know," urged Stephen, " that Mr Glascott
has promised to give his consent, and overlook these
scruples, if Miss Clavering and I are of the same mind
at the end of seven years : so, you see, he, at any rate,
is not altogether obstinate."
" Yes ; but your father has hoped, somehow, that
something will occur to cause you or her to change
your minds, or get tired of the thing. He fancies
that the Glascotts look down upon the La Touches
on account of — of — the infirmity."
" I don't think so ; and even if you are right in this
170 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
conjecture, it does not much matter. Just keep Per-
cival from meddling, if you can, Mrs La Touche ;
all will go well, if he is kept out of the way. By
the by, is Aunt Marcia to live as usual at Hinton
Square ? "
"Yes; I thought you knew," answered Mrs La
Touche ; " your brother has bought the house, and
your aunt is to be there just the same as in my
'usband's time. Two of the girls are to live entirely
with them, and we've got Anna ; she is never to
" How is she going on ? " inquired Stephen ; " is she
better ? "
" Very much. Her mind would be all right, if we
could but get rid of those terrible fits ; it's they as
keep her back. She is very happy with her dogs and
her flowers, and she is not worrited with lessons."
" But I hope she is not allowed to run quite wild,"
said Miss Anna's brother.
" No ; the lady who teaches at the rectory comes
here every other day and gives her some instruction.
Mrs Laurence says she is doing very well. I am sorry
she is out ; but I hope, when I come next to London,
to bring her to see you," replied Mrs La Touche.
" Mind you do ; I shall always be glad to see you.
Aunt Marcia has been to my chambers once ; but she
is too much in awe of Percival to venture often. Of
course I never go to Hinton Square."
Mrs La Touche hoped that this state of things would
not long continue. It was unkind, and it was foolish.
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'aMOUR." 171
Stephen might feel sure that she did her best to keep
the peace ; but, under the circumstances, he must
understand that she had to walk almost as warily as
a cat upon hot bricks.
Stephen laughed at this simile, and then returned
to town. His business was increasing, and it was not
often that he could absent himself many hours from
London. He went in his vacations to Marmaduke's
retreat in Ireland, which bore the name of Dunlashoe,
but which, both in pronunciation and orthography,
was corrupted into the appellative " Drumshakey " by
Colonel Leppell. But what was the odds ? The in-
habitants of that remote region were happy and busy.
It was a delightful house for visitors ; and Marmaduke
Leppell never regretted the day when he decided to
cut gay life and take to the country, and with his wife
and their friend keep out of harm's way.
The Claverings occasionally came up to town for
amusement; but as the years went by, these visits
became fewer. Francis was busier than ever, and
Mary Clavering's nursery party occupied much of her
time and attention. Willina went once a - year to
Tring, and then paid what she termed a duty visit to
Lillian, colder and more stately than ever, was the
idol of her husband, whose sole delight seemed to con-
sist in gratifying her utmost wish. She was a woman
totally above the paltriness of little whims ; and it
must be conceded that she was always most attentive
and watchful towards her husband.
172 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
She had much advanced in her geological studies,
and it was currently reported that she was writing a
dissertation upon the rock formation of the Channel
Islands, in conjunction with that eminent scientist, Mr
On one of the occasions of Willina's visits to Tring,
it happened that some business connected with his
farming pursuits obliged Duke Leppell to come to
He took advantage of the opportunity to stay with
his sister, and to urge her to return to Dunlashoe with
himself and Miss Clavering, there to pay Peggy a long-
promised visit. He was not particularly delighted on
arriving at Tring to find that the Glascotts had made
their appearance only a few days before, purposing to
remain the guests of the Claverings for the period of
a fortnight or three weeks.
There was an awkwardness in meeting Mr Glascott,
as it was natural there should be ; and there was an
undefinable dislike in meeting Mrs Glascott, which,
though not as natural, perhaps, was still quite as de-
cided, and which rose to positive aversion.
Still the inevitable must be faced, and Duke com-
forted himself with the idea that in this meeting he
might discover why it was that neither he nor his wife
had ever been invited to enter Brydone.
His conscience answered the question as far as
the husband was concerned ; but he had yet to
learn how far the wife was informed respecting the
occurrences which had brought Mr Glascott, after
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES BUSES D'AMOUR." 173
a lapse of years, again in contact with the Leppell
He had never forc^iven Mrs Lillian for the cold
epistle which she had indited him on the occasion
of his mother's death : this, coupled with the marked
neglect shown towards Peggy as well as himself,
served to render Duke very hostile towards Mrs Glas-
cott. It was only the remembrance that she was the
wife of the man to whom he owed so much that en-
abled him to speak of her with common patience ; and
here she was under the same roof, spoiling the pleasure
which he had promised himself in the society of his
Willina was not one whit more gratified ; but she
had bravely encountered Mrs Glascott in successive
yearly visits, and bore with her coldness for her
She smoothed down Duke's ruffled feathers, and
managed to make the young gentleman understand
that it would be paying Mrs Glascott too high a com-
pliment were he to appear to resent that lady's neglect
of his wife and himself. " Just meet her as if you
had only parted yesterday," counselled Miss Clavering ;
" and if you want to be very malicious, assume that
Lillian sees a great deal of her mother and sisters at
" But I suppose she does," said Marmaduke.
"Not a bit of it. Etta Fanshawe and the rector
have paid one visit during the six years she has
been married, and Mrs Fanshawe has never set her
174 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
foot in her daughter's home. Mrs Glascott gives
out that her husband's house is not to be looked
upon as a happy hunting-ground for her own poor
" What a shame ! " exclaimed Duke, who was really
scandalised at the cool heartlessness of this speech, as
reported. " My sisters have stayed with the Glascotts
once or twice, I believe," continued he.
" Yes ; but Mrs Glascott owes something to your
father, who really made the match. But T certainly
think she does not care much for having visitors at
Brydone — that is, for a long time together. But
there's the dressing-bell ; make ready as soon as you
can, and I will be in the way to back you up when
the awful moment arrives."
" Awful, indeed ! " said Duke, as he rose to go to
his room. " The idea of my being nervous at meeting
Lillian, whom I used to romp with and tumble in the
hay, — it's too absurd ! But such is life ; and, after
all, Lillian can't forget that she owes her present good
position to my father."
They met, and Marmaduke comported himself to-
wards Mrs Glascott exactly as Miss Clavering had
" You are looking well, I am glad to see, Mrs Glas-
cott," said Duke, after bowing low over the hand
which that lady presented. " Got a little stouter,
perhaps ; but that is an improvement in your case.
Been to Hunter's Lodge lately ? "
Mrs Glascott, though rather astonished at Marma-
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'AMOUR." 175
duke's sang froid, was still more so as she scanned the
personal appearance of that gentleman.
The handsome jaunty lad, conceited and boisterous,
was now toned down into a remarkably fine-looking
man — stalwart as his father, but still carrying in the
lines about his mouth that expression of weakness
which had been so conspicuous in his mother's
All this Mrs Glascott marked ; but it was the alter-
ation in the tone and general bearing of her old com-
panion which quite staggered her. How well he
looks, and how fashionably he is dressed ! thought
she. As this appreciation ran through her mind, she
replied at the same moment that she had not been to
Hunter's Lodge for a long time.
" Ah ! I daresay you feel it a trial to visit it after —
now that the household is — is so changed," quoth
" Yes ; and, you see, Lady Asher is becoming so
much more infirm, and requires so much attention
now, that it is a kindness to Clara to keep away.
Your father, as you know, exacts as much attention
as ever he did ; but he is not quite so noisy, I am
told, as of yore. Quiet, also, is life to your grand-
mother ; and she must be preserved at any sacrifice."
Thus Mrs Glascott, who spoke of Lady Asher as if
that dame were a pine-apple or some kind of fruit
which must be put away in candied syrup and bide
time to suit the purposes of other people. Her hus-
band came up at this moment and welcomed the son
176 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
of his old acquaintance, saying that it was the first
time, he believed, that he had the pleasure of seeing
Marmaduke's face became crimson in an instant.
Upon perceiving this, Mr Glascott, who had been
studying how best to put the young fellow at his ease,
hesitated in what he had begun to say next, and finally
None present, with the exception of Mrs Glascott,
understood the real reason of this mutual embarrass-
ment, but generally attributed it to some reminiscence
on the part of Duke of his captivity in her Majesty's
prison at Holloway. Lillian, who had never in their
closest confidences allowed her husband to know that
she was in any way cognisant of Duke's secret, thought
it proper at this juncture to effect a diversion, so in
her quiet calm tones she turned to her sister-in-law
and said —
" What enormous fires you people keep here ! one
would think we were in the middle of winter. Your
brother, Mary, is half roasted. Living so much in the
open air, as you must do, Mr Leppell, I do not wonder
at your feeling this atmosphere."
Then the trio fell to talking with vigour anent the
difference between the heat emitted by coal and that
emitted by burning bog-turf solely, and before this
subject was thoroughly exhausted came the announce-
ment that dinner was served.
Marmaduke was still puzzled as to the extent of Mrs
Glascott's knowledge concerning his affairs ; but was
" VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES d'AMOUR." 177
very much comforted on getting a few words later in
the evening with Willina, to hear her say, " You must
not think so much of that detention of yours in the
Court of Chancery ; it makes you appear so much em-
barrassed in society. I saw what was ailing you the
moment Mr Glascott came up."
"Then you think the same idea occurred to Mrs
Glascott ? " said Duke.
" Certainly. This is the first time, mind, that you
have met, either of you, since her marriage and your
imprisonment ; but I think she turned the subject most
adroitly, for she evidently discerned what was passing
in your mind, and did her best to cover your con-
"That was kind of her anyhow," replied Marma-
duke. He was now fully satisfied that Lillian knew
nothing of the more serious matter, and he blessed
Mr Glascott for his discretion.
The days sped pleasantly, and they were really
halcyon ones to Mrs Clavering, who still mourned her
dead infants, and who was not treated with particular
sympathy in this matter by her husband. Neither
was Lillian much more tender. " Babies were all very
well in moderation," remarked that matron ; " but in
these days they were expensive luxuries, and the
quantities of education which were to be crammed into
the rising generation would make employment for
males and marriage for females alike difficult." Be-
sides, Mary must know they were better off wherever
they were. Life in this century was so difficult to
VOL. III. M
178 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
live, and then Mrs Clavering was recommended not
to worry herself, for she was young enough to have a
very large family.
In order to emphasise her opinion, Mrs Glascott
thought fit to congratulate Duke upon his being free
from the anxieties of a nursery of young children.
Duke did not respond to this intended piece of be-
nevolence, and informed Mrs Glascott that he was
thankful to be able to tell her that he hoped in a very
short time to become one of the fraternity of Patres-
familias. It was for this reason," he added, looking
very hard at Lillian, " that Mrs Leppell had not ac-
companied him to England at the present time."
Mrs Glascott interpreted the meaning of Marma-
duke's look, and said something about hoping to see
Mrs Leppell at some future time. Then she rose to
prepare for a long walk with Mr Clavering.
It had now become such an accepted matter of
course that the two should dig and delve, and " do
science " together, that no one seemed to think it un-
usual behaviour for these enthusiasts to act with such
perfect independence of their respective spouses as
they each habitually did. Mr Glascott did not appear
to disapprove of these proceedings, and, hitherto, Mary
had been so much taken up with her children that she
had encouraged both her husband and her friend to make
much of each other's society ; and certainly Lillian
rendered good aid to Frank in the preparation of his
Willina, however, had latterly begun to take alarm.
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUB LES RUSES D' AMOUR." 179
Mr Clavering had excused himself one morning for
being obliged to be absent from Tring for the space of
a couple of days. A struggle was going on in London
about a professorship which Francis was very anxious
to win, and which he thought he had some chance of
He accordingly went ; gained the professorship with
less trouble than he had thought possible ; gave a
brilliant lecture to a crowded and appreciative audi-
ence at Birmingham ; and returned to his home un-
expectedly in the middle of the third day after his
departure from thence.
Mr Glascott had ridden into the country -town for
letters, and Willina and Marmaduke had been busily
assisting Mary in the arrangement of her flower-garden
and tying up some chrysanthemums, of which flower
she was particularly fond. The boy, after the manner
of children, was in and out, and had finally gone into
the house to Lillian to claim a promise of being shown
some pictures, which had been promised him in the
morning. The boy was becoming very fond of Mrs
Glascott, so much so that his mother was half tempted
to allow him to go to Brydone with his friends, as had
been proposed by Lillian. Willina had advised her
sister-in-law to consent to this, urging that the separa-
tion would probably make the child yearn to return to
her after the first excitement of the change was over.
" You know," said Willina, " you wait upon him hand
and foot, and he bullies you and tyrannises over you
180 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" My child — my only child now ! " said poor Mary ;
" what would I not do to gain his love ! "
" Let him feel the want of his mother, and depend
upon it he will value her and gladly return to her."
" I hope so ; I trust so ; but oh, Willina ! I do yearn
for a little love ; my poor dead babies rendered me
that." She said no more, but she turned away with
her eyes full of tears.
Marmaduke just then came up. " I have been
working like a nigger," said he, " and I do think, Mrs
Clavering, that, as I work without wages, you might
order me some beer. However, at present I will be
content with some more matting wherewith to tie up
the rest of those chrysanthemums ; where can I find
any ? "
Mary, for answer, asked Willina to go to the hot-
house, and she indicated the spot where this material
could be found. " I shall keep you here, Duke," she
said, " for if you go you will only upset the flowers
and search in the wrong part. A man never finds a
thing so quickly as does a woman in a strange place."
Willina hied away, and, on gaining the hothouse,
was rather surprised to find the door opposite to the
one by which she had entered wide open, and the
green baize portidre which hung in its interior thresh-
old lowered. This was the smoking-room, the door
of which Francis had always been very particular in
keeping closed and locked unless the room were in use.
A tramp had entered, via that hothouse, not long be-
fore, and had cleared off almost every portable thing
" VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'AMOUE." 181
upon which he could lay his hands ; consequent upon
this, an order had been issued that this particular door
should be kept locked, and the other entrance to the
room be generally used.
Hearing voices within, and recognising that of her
brother, AVillina hastened forward and raised one end
of the green curtain in order to greet him. She was
anxious, naturally, to know if he had won the pro-
fessorship, and was entering the room with an inquiry
on her lips. The sight that met her view was such
as to cause her to stand for a moment or two with the
corner of the portiere in her hand, and her feet rooted
almost to the ground.
There sat Lillian Glascott on a low couch, Francis
Clavering kneeling at her feet, with his head bowed
almost into her lap ; at the same time the lady
was smoothing his hair with most caressing tender-
ness. " All — all is owing to you," he was saying ;
" you animate my thoughts, you give me genius, — oh,
Lillian 1 in the hour of success I hear but your voice
alone in the applause of the multitude, and I long to
liy at once and pour out my thanks at your feet."
Willina let the edge of the curtain fall : it slipped,
in fact, unknowingly out of her hand, and she had
just sense enough to recede some yards as she heard
Marmaduke coming after her, calling out at the pitch
of his lungs his supposition that she was making that
Darting to the shelf whereon it was kept, she tore
down some strands, and was at the garden door of the
182 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
hothouse just as Duke was turning the handle to
" Why, what on earth is the matter ? " inquired he,
as he saw Willina's face pale to the lips, — " how ill you
look. Come into the air — the sickly scent of some of
these plants has upset you. I abominate hothouses :
they are nothing more than a conspiracy against fresh
Willina acknowledged that she had very suddenly
experienced a sensation of deadly sickness, with its
attendant symptoms of faintness. " I think I will go
into the house and take some ginger cordial," said
she, " for I am so cold. Don't say anything to Mary ;
111 be out again in a few minutes."
Marmaduke went with her to the hall-door. Just
as they ascended the steps they saw Mr Clavering
walking leisurely in the direction of the flower-
" There's your brother, by George ! " exclaimed he.
" I suppose he has just come home, and is going to
find Mary and tell her the news."
" Very likely," said Willina ; " do you, like a good
fellow, go and hear it too, and mind, don't say
anything about me. This indisposition is merely
temporary, and will soon pass over."
Duke sped away, and Miss Clavering entered the
Her resolution was taken : that was to find Mrs
Glascott at once, and tell her what she had seen and
heard. It was a dreadful task to undertake; but
" VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES KUSES D' AMOUR." 183
Willina felt that if she did not act quickly, she never
would be able to approach the subject. It was her
duty towards Mary; it was a duty towards Mr Glas-
cott ; it was well, also, to let Mrs Glascott understand
that she — Willina — would not suffer such a breach of
honour without remonstrance.
She found Mrs Glascott in the drawing-room,
working at an embroidery frame, and apparently in
her usual placid state of mind. No sign of disquietude
left its trace upon her well-cut features ; no trouble
clouded her brilliant eyes ; she pursued her task with
fingers that neither trembled nor failed.
Willina walked up to her, and without preamble
said, " I have a few words to say to you, Mrs Glas-
cott, and you will pardon my apparent abruptness
when I tell you that, by pure accident, I witnessed
part of the scene which has so lately taken place
between you and my brother in the smoking-room
Lillian, thus suddenly brought to account, and being
at the same time thoroughly unprepared for what she
now heard, stared at Willina in wonder and remained
silent. She was speculating in her own mind where
Miss Clavering could have been ; for it was the shout-
ing of Marmaduke which had startled the pair, and
warned them to separate and go their several ways.
As no reply was returned, Willina continued, " I do
not wish to annoy you, Mrs Glascott, nor to cause you
pain, — your conscience must eventually do that, — but
in my brother's house I have a right to ask that you
184 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
will give me your promise that what I have witnessed
shall never occur again : it is only out of regard to
my sister-in-law that I do not go to Francis at once
and tell him that I should leave the house if he would
not give me a like guarantee."
"And by what right do you interfere in matters
which are quite beyond your concern ? " said Mrs Grlas-
cott, finding voice ; " and why do you set yourself in
judgment upon me and upon Mr Olavering ? "
" You seem to forget that Mr Clavering is my
brother. Is his honour and the happiness of his
wife to be as nothing in my sight ? " returned Willina,
"Your brother is very well able to take care of
himself," Mrs Glascott retorted. "Allow me to in-
timate, that in speaking as you do, you are taking a
liberty which I would not allow to his wife — who was
my old friend, before I ever saw your face or heard
" Friend ! " exclaimed Willina, scornfully ; " can you
regard your conduct as that of a friend, when you
lure the husband from the side of his wife, and do
everything in your power to lower her in his estima-
tion, and that upon the strength of your intellectual
superiority ? "
"Mrs Clavering — Mary — makes no objection," re-
turned Lillian, steadily. " Your brother's tastes and
studies are not congenial to her. She has declared
this from the first, and in consequence she has been
glad to secure me as as a fellow- worker in helping
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'AMOUR." 185
him to prepare his lectures and so forth. Mr Claver-
ing only speaks the truth when he declares that he
owes much of his success to my aid."
" A mistake," answered AVillina — " still, I hope, not
a fatal one. ]\Iary should never have allowed this ;
but she is as innocent and unsuspicious as a child.
You ought to be ashamed of so far betraying her
" The fact that this confidence exists should, I
think, Miss Clavering, entitle me to respect, and most
certainly it ought to exempt me from unworthy sus-
As she spoke, Mrs Glascott drew herself up proudly
and looked so defiant, that, for a moment, Willina
doubted whether she might not be mistaken ; but the
scene she had witnessed athwart the portUre rose so
vividly to her recollection, that she felt she must
now speak out at all hazards or for ever hold her
" I think it but honest to tell you, Mrs Glascott,"
said Miss Clavering, in an equable but very incisive
tone, " that you have within the last half-hour laid
yourself open to very grave suspicion. Unaware that
my brother had returned, I came to the hothouse on
an errand for Mary ; the sound of Frank's voice drew
me to the 'portUre of the smoking-room. I lifted it,
and it certainly was with the utmost surprise that I
saw him on his knees at your feet, whilst you allowed
him to caress you, and at the same time permitted the
warmest expressions of tenderness without reproof or
186 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
any attempt at repulse. Now, if such conduct be
friendship towards Mary, I should very much like
to know what, in your vocabulary, treachery really
means ? "
Mrs Glascott made no reply. She looked as if she
had been turned into stone.
" You would not," Willina went on to say, — " you
would not have permitted these liberties in the pres-
ence of Mr Glascott, who, I should imagine, is entitled
to some share of your consideration."
" My conduct as a wife is beyond question," said
Lillian ; " no one can accuse me of neglecting my
husband. I am always at his side."
Miss Clavering's indignation increased, as she
listened to this evasion of the point at issue. " Have
a care, madam," said she. " Cousin Everard is an old
man, unsuspecting and generous as the day in all
things ; but, believe me, should he ever find Frank
or any other man toying with his wife, as I saw
my brother toy with you this day, dire mischief will
come of it. Yes ; he would wellnigh strangle you on
the spot, and — serve you right well I "
Lillian visibly paled, despite her wonderful self-
control : her lips parted, and dragged themselves so
far asunder as to reveal her white even teeth clenched
together as in a vice. At length in a grating tone she
" Any other man ! what do you mean ? Granting
that I did allow Mr Clavering the privileges of an old
and intimate friend, does that give you the right to
"VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'AMOUE." 187
insult me and to lecture me in the way you have
just done ? "
"I do not, I suppose, understand the privileges
which are bestowed and accepted by some married
persons in the absence of their partners," returned
Miss Clavering ; " but I hold the belief that the
woman who is false with one is very liable to be
false with others. I do not wish to insult you, and
you will pardon me, perhaps, for saying that I hail
your indignation as a good sign."
" Why, for what reason ? " demanded Lillian.
" The reason is this," said Miss Clavering. " I am
quite ready to believe that in the excitement of suc-
cess Frank was carried beyond his usual impertur-
bability, and because you greatly contribute to his
triumphs, he was unusually demonstrative in his
gratitude. You, probably, were too much elated to
recognise at the moment that you were both conduct-
ing yourselves in an extravagant manner."
Mrs Glascott made no reply to this generous in-
terpretation of the position. She was silent awhile,
then looking up suddenly she said —
" I conclude Mr Leppell did not see us."
" No, fortunately for you, he did not. He called to me
before he got inside the hothouse, and I had dropped
the curtain and retired to the far end. To mask the
agitation which I could not conceal, and to save you,
I told him that I had been taken suddenly very faint
" To save me — us — from Duke Leppell ! " exclaimed
188 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Lillian, in a most sarcastic tone of voice ; " that is
really too absurd."
" You would both of you have found it otherwise
than absurd had Mr Leppell been in my place," an-
swered Miss Clavering. " I do not see why you should
mention him so contemptuously. He may have been a
wild youth ; but a kinder, more devoted husband does
not exist. Eemember, too, he is Mrs Clavering's brother."
" I do remember it," returned Lillian ; " but I tell
you Duke Leppell is not, nor ever can be, in a position
to sit in judgment on the morality or otherwise of
any human being. He is too deeply committed for
me to congratulate myself that he was not a witness
of what, I will allow, was a momentary indiscretion."
"I don't understand your insinuations ; pray speak
plainly. What have you to say against the man to
whose parents you are indebted for years of kindness,
and to whom you, in a great measure, owe your pres-
ent good position in the world ? "
Willina was, perhaps, unwise in making use of this
last taunt ; but there was something so insolent, and
at the same time so triumphant, in Mrs Glascott's
tone, that this would have tried the patience of a
person of much more experience than Miss Clavering
in the art of recrimination. However, she fixed her eyes
steadily on the face of her antagonist, awaiting a reply.
Stung by what Willina had just said, the answer
came more quickly and with more vehemence than
Mrs Glascott was wont to employ. Still, it was
neither quite straightforward nor quite definite.
"YIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES RUSES D'AMOUR." 189
"You have elected to reside at Dunlashoe as a
member of Mr Leppell's household, and are therefore
no doubt able to recognise some of that gentleman's
redeeming qualities. At the same time, has it never
occurred to you as being rather remarkable that a man
like him should betake himself entirely to an unknown
region in Ireland, and all of a sudden give up his asso-
ciates, seldom visit his family, and altogether adopt a
manner of living almost in opposition to that in which
he has been brought up ? I can tell you there is a
reason for this, which cannot bear the light."
" What is it ? " returned Willina, slowly. " I know
of none beyond the fact that Duke and his wife are
wise enough and courageous enough to avoid the temp-
tation of living beyond their means, and have thus re-
moved themselves from an atmosphere of extravagance.
Moreover, they have not given up society, as you seem
to infer; they are both very popular, and visit in
moderation, both in the country and in Dublin.
What is the reason, I claim to know, which cannot
bear the light ? "
" That Marmaduke Leppell is a thief and a forger 1 "
returned Mrs Glascott, with a face ghastly white.
Willina did not blench. " Do you state this on
your own knowledge, or on the authority of another
person ? " she asked.
" On the authority of two persons cognisant of the
" I will trouble you once more. Was Mr Glascott,
my cousin and my guardian, one of these persons ? "
190 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
This question rather staggered Mrs Glascott. She
was at a loss to discover for what reason it had been
put ; her uncertainty kept her silent for some seconds.
Willina waited patiently, keeping her eyes all the
while fixed on Lillian's face. The intensity of her
gaze seemed greatly to discompose the latter.
" As you cannot or will not answer me, Mrs Glas-
cott, I have only one course left open, and this is to go
to my guardian at once and demand an explanation.
Of course, it will be also necessary for me to acquaint
him with what I have seen. Once more, did you de-
rive this knowledge concerning Mr Leppell from your
husband ? "
Thus driven to bay, Lillian declared that she did
not. " Mr Glascott," she said, " was not even aware
that I possessed this information. Having allowed
this much, you surely do not intend to make mischief
between me and my husband," she continued, in a tone
which was almost one of entreaty. " Perhaps I ought
not to have spoken as I did ; but I could not brook the
idea of Marmaduke Leppell being put en evidence
against me — your manner seemed to threaten that."
Willina merely made a gesture of contempt. " All
I have to say now is, that should Mr Leppell suffer in
the future any annoyance or slight, and I can trace it
as the eff'ect of evil report coming from you, I must
inquire further into the matter. At present I am con-
tent to let your malicious statement rest unchal-
lenged, as it is with my guardian's approbation that
I live at Dunlashoe ; and also, as neither Frank nor
" VIVENT LES FEMMES POUR LES EUSES D'aMOUR." 1 9 1
Mary nor myself have ever heard this extraordinary
"What I have stated is true, nevertheless," said
" I hope it is some exaggeration of what cannot he
refuted — namely, Duke's former recklessness in money
matters ; and from his having written letters when in a
state of intoxication. All this is of the past ; let us
look to ourselves, and have mercy upon those who are
trying to amend their faults. As I told you before,
you are safe from Mr Leppell. He certainly remarked
that Francis must have entered the house by the
smoking-room ; and he saw my brother go out of the
house into the garden as he escorted me within doors.
I mention these facts, lest at some future time you
may think proper to deny this whole transaction, and
perhaps accredit me with inventing a pure fiction."
Miss Clavering delivered this with much emphasis
of look and voice, and then turned and left the room.
1 PROPOS DES DIAMANTS.
Miss Clavering's trials of friendship for that day
were not quite over. She had gone to her room early
in the evening to fetch some fancy work, when Mrs
Clavering followed her, and entered the room with her
face bathed in tears. She carried in her hand the case
which contained her parure of jewels.
" Why, Mary, what is the matter ? " her sister-in-
law inquired. " What has happened to distress you ? "
" I have had an unpleasant scene with Frank," Mrs
Clavering replied. " He is so angry at the appearance
of these diamonds. He says that I have neglected
them, and that this one" — indicating a stone in the
centre of a clasp — " cannot be a real gem ; it is a
queer colour certainly. He also insists that the whole
set is composed of inferior stones, but we all know
that cannot be the case. What do you think ? "
Willina examined the jewels as requested, and was
reluctantly compelled to admit that they were very
different in appearance to those possessed by Mrs
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 193
Glascott. " Has she got her parure with her ? " asked
" ]N"o ; it is at the bank in London. The Glascotts
are going there for a month, and will return here
to finish their visit. My husband is going to ask
Lillian to bring her set here to compare it with mine.
He thinks that my father has been imposed on by
that Frenchman, and that I have not kept them
" Mary, will you intrust that case to me ? I am
going to Linkton, and shall pass through London.
That centre stone is very suspicious looking, and there
is a cloudy haze over the whole set, which certainly
ought not to be there ; so I will take these diamonds,
if you will allow me, to Starr & Flashetts at once,
and get their opinion. Say no more about the matter
to Frank ; he will do nothing till Mrs Glascott re-
Mrs Clavering thankfully caught at the offer, em-
braced her sister, and felt considerably relieved in
mind as she placed the case of jewels in her keeping.
As soon as Mary left the room, Willina set to work
to ascertain whether the stones were really pure dia-
monds, and also if any tangible reason could be as-
signed for the peculiar appearance of a centre stone to
which Mrs Clavering had drawn her attention. But
no amount of cleaning which Miss Clavering could
employ was at all serviceable in removing the dull
mist which pervaded the whole of the jewels, or even
in modifying this very visible defect.
VOL. HI. N
194 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
She hardly wondered that Francis had reproached
his wife with carelessness with respect to them ; still
less that he should suspect some inferiority in the
stones themselves, and desire to inspect the parure
belonging to Mrs Glascott before applying to some
jeweller for an explanation of the peculiar appearance
which tarnished the set possessed by Mrs Clavering.
There was no time to lose, for the Glascotts were to
finish their visit to Tring within the month, and it was
evident to Willina that these jewels should be tested
without further delay. An impression pervaded her
mind that Colonel Leppell (through whose hands they
had passed) might have been imposed upon, and un-
wittingly had allowed false stones to be substituted
for the real ones. She would seek an expert in London,
and then go on to Hunter's Lodge.
This was done ; and Willina, to her dismay, but not
much to her surprise, was informed that it required no
difficult test to prove that the stones were composed
of paste — very good composition and imitation, but
paste — nothing more nor less.
She went straight to Colonel Leppell, told him what
she had done, and why she had so acted. After some
skirmishing, Ealph was forced to acknowledge that he
was wholly to blame in the matter.
" You must replace the jewels," said Willina. " From
what you have admitted, I am obliged to believe that
you wilfully substituted the paste stones."
" What am I to do ? " cried Ealph, aghast. " I have
no means of raising money just now, for I have been
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 195
paying off here and there for years ; and now that I
have succeeded in getting rid of my most pressing
debts, this comes upon me. It is deuced hard ! "
Willina bit her lip, and then said, in her kind im-
ploring voice, " Think how hard it would be, Colonel
Leppell, for Mary, between my brother and Mrs Glas-
cott — how humiliated and hurt she would be ; and for
yourself, if the matter were taken up seriously, you
might be placed in a very awkward position. Don't
you see that yourself ? "
"Mrs Glascott — Lillian — would never go against me,"
the Colonel answered, sharply. " Why, she owes her
present position entirely to me and to poor Adelaide."
" I know ; still the diamonds were Mr Glascott's
wedding-gift to your daughter, and if it be ascertained
that you have caused other stones to be substituted for
the real ones, a very solid pretence for a quarrel may be
raised, which would embitter Mary's happiness for
ever. Nay, more, she may be accused of some know-
ledge of, or even of complicity in, the matter; and
should her husband bring himself to believe this, I
tremble for the consequences."
Ealph was silent for a moment, and appeared to be
rather impressed with what "Willina had advanced.
" Do you think," he said at length, " that if I were
to write to Clavering, and explain all the circum-
stances of the case, he would understand the matter,
and grant me time wherein to replace the jewels ? I
could promise him that."
" I cannot tell ; but, if possible, avoid putting your-
196 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
self in the power of either Mrs Glascott or my brother.
As the matter stands, the one can hardly be made
aware of the truth without the other."
"Well, manage it in this way. Let me write con-
fidentially to Lillian Glascott ; she knows better than
most people how hampered I was at the time of Mary's
marriage, and what shifts I was put to in order to keep
my appointment. So she will quite understand the
temptation of raising money on the real diamonds."
Miss Clavering rather doubted this ; however she
only replied, " Perhaps my brother might not take so
sympathetic a view of the case : of course, I cannot
answer for Mrs Glascott."
" Lillian will stand by me, if it were only for the
sake of my dead wife, and — I must say it — for many
former kindnesses received from us both. Perhaps
it would be better if I could see her."
" Don't think of it, Colonel ; I know of a wiser plan,
and one which, if it succeeds, will be far more satis-
factory as well as secure."
"You surely would never advise me to apply to
Glascott ? "
" Most certainly not ; I was thinking of your own
brother. Lord Hieover. Wliy not go to him and ex-
plain everything ? "
Ealph gave a contemptuous laugh, accompanied by
a very deprecatory shrug of his shoulders. " Apply
to Alick ! " he said ; " it would be more easy to extract
blood from a stone than to get money out of him.
Wliy, of late years, I have not ventured to ask him to
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 197
lend me five pounds. It is strange, too, for when we
were boys together he was liberal enough."
" You forget. Colonel. I would not pain you by
reverting to a past sorrow, but after Mrs Leppell died
Lord Hieover intrusted me with a sum of money to
hand to you. I shall not forget his words as he gave
me the packet — ' Ealph, poor fellow, must need money
sorely, and he will not like to borrow from me. He
knows how much Duke has cost us all.' I was greatly
struck with the delicacy and fine feeling which your
brother displayed at the time."
" That money was for the funeral expenses," Colonel
Leppell replied, " and it was barely sufficient to cover
the whole cost. I looked upon that present as a
kind of way of making up to poor Adelaide for the
neglect with which my brother had treated her
" It may be so," returned Miss Clavering, resolutely.
" Still, it was a kindly and a liberal gift ; and I think
that what your brother has done once for respect, he
will do again for honour."
" The sum is large," said the Colonel, musingly.
" I am sure Alick will never advance it ; he will seek
refuge in the plea that he cannot countenance — well, it
must out — a fraud, and so refuse outright."
" You can but try : it is the only and the last chance.
Besides, you could pay off the sum in course of time,
should Lord Hieover insist upon making it a loan.
Take my advice. Colonel, and think of Mary."
" I can't see why I should not put the matter before
198 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Clavering himself," returned Colonel Leppell ; " he
would take the thing quietly for his own sake, and
would never stir up a scandal. I would rather appeal
to Francis than to Alick."
" No, no ! " said Miss Clavering, more energetically
than she had yet spoken ; " don't think of such a thing.
It would be far better to own your — your errors to your
brother than to your son-in-law. You would change
positions entirely were you to give Frank this hold
over you. Besides, Lord Hieover can extricate you if
he chooses, for he has the means to do so. Frank,
even if he had the will, can only aid by quiescence,
and I am convinced he would never keep the matter
from Mrs Glascott."
" What if he did not ? " inquired the Colonel,
brusquely. " What matter ? Lillian is our firm
" If you will not apply to Lord Hieover yourself,"
continued Miss Clavering, totally ignoring the Colonel's
last remark, "will you trust the matter to me ? It may
seem presumptuous ; but if I could secure a hearing, I
think I could induce the Viscount to come to some
Ealph stared at her in amazement. " You are
plucky, and no mistake ; but I think you are scarcely
complimentary to your brother, haw ! "
"It is often more difficult to transact business,
especially money business, with relations than it is
with strangers," she replied. " I shall act as Mary's
sister-in-law, of course, and it is possible Lord Hieover
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 199
will lend me more attention when he is made aware
that my brother and his wife are both perfectly igno-
rant of the whole procedure. Besides, Mary ought
not to suffer for the sins of other people — her happi-
ness should be paramount."
"That, I take it, would be paramount with her
husband," said the Colonel, sharply.
" I know my brother better than you do, Colonel,"
Miss Clavering made answer; "he would dreadfully
resent being — being "
"Taken in," said Ealph, finishing the sentence-
" Well, he must resent it then, for I cannot and will
not apply to the Viscount."
"But you will let me do so for you," persisted
Willina, in her calm sweet voice ; " you will at least
aid me in endeavouring to secure peace to Mary ? I
love her very dearly, and I know that Frank thinks
so much of her possessing the finest diamonds in Fen-
sliire ; if he ever discovers the real truth, he would be
furious, and she, poor thing ! would have to bear the
"Do you know," said Ptalph, "that it is entirely
owing to my brother's influence that my father left
me a bare sum wherewith to pay my debts, and tied
me up with an annuity, as if I had been a base-born
son or an idiot ? Knowing this, do you wonder
at my being unwilling to ask any favour of the
Viscount ? "
Willina was silent for a moment. The position was
very embarrassing, for, naturally, she could not breathe
200 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
her suspicions concerning the intimacy which existed
between her brother and Mrs Glascott. She was
determined as to one thing— the jewels must be re-
placed, and replaced unknown to both Mr and Mrs
Clavering. At length she said —
" Let me go to Lord Hieover, either as your emis-
sary or entirely in Mary's interests."
"You would be obliged to reveal the part I have
played in the affair ? " said the Colonel, in an inter-
" Certainly, without any reserve ; nothing less than
the whole truth would serve the purpose. Let your
brother recognise that you will not deceive him in the
slightest particular, although you cannot make up
your mind to face him."
" And do you expect that Alick will exert himself
to put this matter straight, and hand you over the
value of the real stones ? "
" I do," answered Willina, valiantly. " You have, I
suppose, the receipts for what you paid Mr Dupont
for both the sets, and a note of the abatement made
for the paste stones. Please let me have them, and
trust to my discretion."
" What are you going to do ? " inquired the Colonel,
" I have a plan in my head how all can be best
arranged ; but I will say nothing of this till I have
ascertained what Lord Hieover will really consent to
" Women often achieve success where the other sex
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 201
utterly fail," the Colonel replied ; " only you know the
Viscount is not a lady's man, and that may make him
difficult to tackle. You want the Dupont receipts ?
I've got 'em somewhere."
As he spoke, Ealph crossed the room, and, opening
a large bureau, plunged into its depths. It was
full of papers, which the Colonel tossed from side
to side in his search : it was some time before he
could put his hand on the documents wliich were
" Here it is ! " he exclaimed ; " no — this is Chimer's
bill — Chimer for mending clock — um ! haw ! could
have done it as well myself; Slasher & Slime, two
pairs of hunting-boots ; Prickett, spurs and plated
stirrups — never had 'em ; Dunner, bill delivered ;
Peter Hurrey, trainer — all paid, thank goodness !
Oh ! here it is. Dupont, Palais Eoyal, Paris —
diamonds — all right ; the receipts are together in
this envelope, with Dupont's estimate."
Willina looked through the papers, and found all
correct ; then she said — " You have promised to leave
all to me, Colonel ; believe me, what I propose to do
is the only possible way of escape — courage and
straightforward dealing may bring everything to very
" You are sure you are game — I mean equal to this
undertaking ? " said Ealph, as he folded up the bills
and handed them to Willina. " You don't know
what a terrible thing it is to apply to my brother for
202 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" I am not afraid," she said simply ; " I can but do
my best, and if I fail — but no, I will not think of
failure. Now, as to the manner of procedure. Clara
and I will ride over to-morrow early to Hieover, and
say we have come to luncheon. I will get hold of
your brother, and somehow I think I shall succeed in
fulfilling my mission ; we will say no more about that
Ealph shook his head, and merely replied that he
wished she might succeed. It was very good of her
to go ; and it certainly would damage himself
irremediably in Mr Glascott's sight, were the sub-
stitution of paste stones for real diamonds to be
He admitted, also, that Willina was quite right.
It would never do for his son-in-law to hold such
power over him as a discovery of the fraud would
certainly entail. At the same time, it was all very
hard upon him, he said, and he could see no other way
out of the dilemma but to accede to Miss Clavering's
mode of procedure.
In this manner the Colonel talked himself out of
the difficulty, and, ostrich-like, blinded himself to the
fact of his own disgraceful behaviour, in the conviction
that the Viscount would shroud his dishonoured head
for the sake of the family name. " Alick would pos-
sibly rave and say bitter things, and perhaps come
down with the money," thought he ; " and it is a pre-
cious good thing that he knows nothing about Duke's
former iniquities in the manner of appropriating other
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 203
people's cash. Willina Clavering was a trump, and
he hoped she would win through — and that was all
So ruminating, Colonel Leppell turned to put his
bureau a little in order, and in so doing came across
the most heterogeneous mass of correspondence that
could well be brousfht tooether.
Bills, lawyers' letters, betting-books, racing-calen-
dars, and epistles from all sorts and conditions of men,
begging, in terms both moving and peremptory, for
immediate cash, formed the dominant stock of the
collection. Private letters and bills receipted in full
were decidedly in the minority.
Here was a boyish letter from Duke, begging for a
pony — this the Colonel almost caressed, and put aside
with a gentle hand ; there a note from his dead wife,
asking if he could not manage to send her a trifle, for
she was in straits as to how to keep the house. This
he looked at long and very reverently. The tears
welled up into the eyes of this rough daring man as
he read line after line, and finally imprinted a kiss
on the page before he tore it up piece-meal. " Poor
Adelaide 1 dear Adelaide ! " he said, beneath his breath ;
" none that come after me shall see that you have had
to beg me for money. What would I give to see your
face once more ! "
Thus, like sweet incense, the memory of this gentle
woman rose before him. It calmed his spirit, and led
him to wish, and that sincerely, that towards her at
least he had acted more kindly and with more con-
204 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
fidence. Insensibly, his wife dead held more power
over him than she ever could have done whilst she
was in life. The time had now wellnigh arrived when
he could realise that in losing her he had indeed suf-
fered an irreparable loss.
A sharp letter, prompted by her attorney, and ad-
dressed to him by the hand of old Lady Asher, caused
some revulsion to his feelings. Its tenor was to
inform him, and that decidedly, that the writer had
come to the conclusion never to give him another
farthing. It was also intimated, with a corresponding
vigour of style, that on any further application for
money from Colonel Leppell, Lady Asher would be
compelled to take up her abode in some other part of
the realm of England. This missive toned itself down
at the finale somewhat, by asserting that, as far as
was possible, Mrs Leppell and her children would
always be aided and assisted by the Colonel's obedi-
ent servant, &c.
A grim smile first passed over Ealph's face, and
then he burst into a laugh. " Poor old lady ! " ex-
claimed he ; " poor Lady Asher ! to fancy that I could
be humbugged into believing that she wrote that letter
of her own free will and intention. Still, I am very
much obliged to old Vellumly for tying up the money
— must confess. Shouldn't have had that four hun-
dred a-year for board now. And then to think of old
grandma lasting all this time ! Why, it is nearly eight
years since the doctors predicted she might not live a
year ! Says a good deal for Bothero too. Lillian Glas-
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 205
cott was right. She always said that, with proper care
and Bothero, grandma might last us all out."
This epistle was also torn up into minute atoms, and,
with several documents that followed, consigned to the
wastepaper-basket, with someting very like enthusiasm.
The Colonel had worked himself by this time into the
belief that by clearing his bureau he was actually pay-
ing off his bills.
He came to a large foolscap sheet of paper, which
had the air of a petition. On recognising this, the
Colonel burst into a vocal noise which might be a
fusion of a cracked trumpet and a view-halloo.
" Old Swanson, the military tailor ! His letters were
splendid. Wonder where the fellow is now ! Well,
he had a great admiration for me. Haw ! May as
well see what he wrote, Lord knows how many years
The epistle, which was really unique, was an ap-
plication to the Colonel for recommendation as a mil-
itary tailor. It ran as follows : —
" HoxouEED Sir, — Permit me to attempt to thank
you (for I have not in my vocabulary words sufficient
to do so) for your kind and courteous reception of so
humble an individual as myself on Friday last.
" Sir, your abandonment of all etiquette, and receiv-
ing me, as it were, on neutral ground' does infinite
honour to your heart, both as an officer and a gentle-
man. Prior to the interview, I knew, and hope I
know now, and ever shall know, our relative posi-
206 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
tions ; but I knew also that you would be accessible,
and that your urbanity was proverbial. But the kind-
ness you manifested in my interests exceeded my ex-
pectations ; and thanks, however abundant, are inad-
equate to convey the expression of my gratitude.
" I felt for once proud of being an old soldier. (It
proves, sir, that there is a kind of freemasonry in
these matters.) When men have met in other climes,
and meet again in their own, how gladly do they
recognise each other ! It has been our lot, sir, to
have met in other climes ; and if our little barque had
foundered on that Sunday night, we should at least
have perished on classic land, or classic waters — in
that land where that great celebrity Lord Byron
flourished, and near Santa Maura, where Sappho loved
and sung. Sir, be pleased to pardon this digression.
My business now is to submit this enclosed petition
for your perusal.
" You will find, sir, that I have adhered to the text
of your copy, with the addition of supporting the
prayer of the petition. Less could not be said, sir, if
you wish me to succeed, of which I have abundant
proof. You cannot stultify yourself, as there is no
allusion to character or respectability, merely wishing
an old soldier of your acquaintance employment. —
With thanks for past kindness, and leave to avail my-
self of your future interest, I am, sir, your humble
obliged servant, Peter Swanson."
" Um, haw ! " exclaimed the Colonel, throwing down
A PROPOS DES DI AM ANTS. 207
this letter. I have got the wrong thing ; I want the
epistle wherein he acknowledges the receipt of some
money. Ah ! here it is."
" Sir, — It is my duty — and a pleasing one too — to
inform you that your P. 0. order (eight pounds nine
shillings) came duly to hand, for which please accept
my thanks. But I most respectfully beg to convince
you that you are not dealing fairly by me when you
say that I will not work for you. There is not a
gentleman in England I would rather serve than your-
self. I have had the honour of knowing you much
over a quarter of a century — for that time it is since
you joined Major Scamper's company (a fine young
gentleman). But, sir, as regards this order of yours,
it is questionable whether you would have got served
better in a shop where there are a great number of
men. I affirm that the fit and cut are quite right.
No one should venture an opinion on unfinished work ;
and (without any boasting) I know my business.
" Sir, Gordon Higgins — no mean authority on tailor-
ing — said I was the best tailor in Europe ; therefore I
beg to be allowed to finish the work, and I know it
will be to our mutual credit. It is preposterous to
take it from me in its present state.
" Indeed, sir, flattering and fulsome adulation I
despise ; but I conscientiously say this much, that it
joys me and does my heart good when I see your
' time-honoured ' face. It reminds me of Santa Maura
and Corfu — when you and I embarked on a Sunday
208 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
night from Santa Maura — when I was the only man
under your command, except Payne, a madman, who
had cut his throat.
" If I could have seen you, sir, I could have re-
moved the doubt your note seems to imply ; and, in
self-justification, I do not hesitate to say, that in fitting
the human frame, and that with grace, taste, and ele-
gance, I am second to none, and should have been
happy to wait upon you, were it only to replace a
button. In conclusion, I will merely say that when
you commanded men, you did more, sir, you com-
manded the respect of men. And what a solace in
your retirement ! — what a glorious halo ! — a sunshine
about the region of the heart — must this produce to
you, for which no earthly consideration can ever be an
equivalent. — I await your orders, sir, and have the
honour to be, your obedient humble servant,
Colonel Leppell put this letter down with much less
hilarity than he had evinced in opening it. Peter
Swanson's high-flown epistles had for years afforded
much amusement both to him and to his family. At
this juncture they had actually become valuable ; they
seemed to serve almost as a certificate of honour, and a
strong proof that he was held in esteem by his fellow-
How tenaciously did he now cling to the expressions
of respect with which these letters of his tailor were
replete ; with what avidity did he scan the characters
1 PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 209
which assured him that he was regarded with reverence
by those whom he had formerly commanded. These
epistles were of tenfold importance in his eyes now.
It must be conceded that in his satisfaction there
was little of self-glorification, or passing conceit even.
The consciousness that he failed in integrity was now
impressing itself upon his mind with terrible distinct-
ness — that he was in great peril of his evil doings
being brought to light. Still it was a comfort in its
way to review the lines which assured him that he
had stood honourably in the estimation of all with
whom he had to do, and that in consequence it would
be difficult for the world in general to believe that he
had ever deviated from the right path.
But for all that, it would never do to be found out.
There was Duke's defection from the ways of honesty,
which might, or might not, crop up at some unex-
pected time. The Colonel could never forgive the
folly of which both he and his late wife were guilty
in confiding that secret to Lillian Glascott. The re-
membrance of that lady suddenly brought with it a
doubt into the Colonel's mind. It resolved itself into
a very homely question : " Is she true metal after all ?
Wliy is Miss Clavering so reserved when she speaks
of her ? Why does my brother shrug his shoulders
and laugh when her name happens to be mentioned ?
Duke and his wife, too, they actually detest her — at
least Duke does. What can it all mean ? I'll be
hanged if I don't make some of them speak out."
The Colonel had no time to arrange any course of
210 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
action by which he could satisfactorily carry out this
intention, for Clara came into the room to inquire
particulars concerning the expedition to Hieover —
what horses were to go, what groom, and so forth.
Miss Clavering had a short interview with Colonel
Leppell before they departed on the following day.
The acquiescence of that officer in her suggestions was
brief and to the point : night had evidently brought
reflection, if it had not brought counsel.
"Say what you like — do what you like — undertake
what you like," was now the burden of his theme.
"Do get me out of this scrape, like an angel and A 1.
You smile, but really, Willina, I am taking this dread-
fully to heart, — more than you think, haw ! I shall
never speak at a religious assembly again. I see,
haw ! it would not be fair to the audience — mote and
beam idea, you know, and that don't do to suggest
itself to a public meeting."
As this promise of abstention was really a con-
vincing proof of the Colonel's penitence, Willina re-
pressed the smile which hovered on her lips, as she
listened to the outpourings of his spirit. She reiterated
her intention of doing her best ; then, reminding her
host that the horses were waiting, she and Clara pro-
ceeded to mount, and in a few minutes' time they were
going at a good round pace in the direction of Hieover
Colonel Leppell watched them till they were out of
sight, and then went down to his den at the stables.
That charming retreat was in terrible disorder, as
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 211
no human being had been allowed to enter it for
months, for the purpose either of scrubbing or dust-
ing ; but Ealph, in order to work off the anxiety of
his mind, now resolved to have a thorough " turn out,"
and, moreover, to superintend that "turn out" in
The consequence was that a stable-lad was driven
into a state of idiocy at the end of an hour; the
kitchen-girl gave warning on the spot ; and a cat and
a litter of kittens that had made themselves vastly
comfortable for a fortnight in one of the Colonel's
greatcoats, were liberally dispersed all over the prem-
ises, where they were eventually " finished " by the
terrier dogs which hung about. This " turn out " was,
at any rate, complete.
The occupation and excitement drove all remem-
brance of Miss Clavering and her mission entirely out
of Colonel Leppell's mind, and with the facility of his
sanguine temperament he determined to enjoy himself,
and so ordered the dogcart for the purpose of driving
into Yarne. The occupation of clearing out the den
was beginning to wax troublesome also ; so his daughter
Agnes was ordered to finish the remainder of the
work, to replace everything in its original position,
and to have all ship-shape by the time when he should
Miss Agnes listened demurely, saw the dogcart
drive off, and now that she had got her hand in, de-
termined, as the good people phrase it, to improve
212 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Turning out was all very well, but by all means let
scrubbing have a share in the business, Agnes said.
So, after mollifying the kitchen-maid, pails of hot water
were soon on the scene, with the other necessary aids
to purification. Stimulated by the promise of a new
hat, Susan Dawes scrubbed with a will. The boards
of the den steamed, and were redolent of the perfume
of " Bristol yellow " ; and -the stable-lad grinned with
delight as he thrashed the carpet with a bean-stick,
and averred that the master kept that there den more
filthy than any pig on the premises. This was Jim's
manner of paying off' the inauvais qiiart - cVheure
he had so lately gone through under the Colonel's
Thus Colonel Leppell's daughter and his serving-
maid thoroughly enjoyed their liberty. They worked
with a will, pleasantl}^ hectoring Jim, and carrying
out in its full extension the privileges which women
of all classes so pertinaciously exact under the shadow
of house-cleanim?. The kitchen dinner was retarded
half an hour. The dining-room party feasted on
scraps, collected in spasms. Nobody ventured a word
of remonstrance ; the cleaning was in full swing, and
the locality was the governor's den.
The united force of fact and amazement at once
compelled the members of the family to succumb, and
that with the utmost submission in general, and with
utter speechlessness as regarded Prothero in particular.
The equestrians arrived safely at Hieover, and
were most cordially welcomed by the owner of that
A PROPOS DES DIAMA.NTS. 213
demesne. Wliatever may have been the Viscount's
omissions in the matter of hospitality towards his
family, he is certainly kind to Clara; and Willina
Clavering he regards, to use his own phraseology, as a
jewel of a woman. Indeed in his heart of hearts he
looks upon her as an ill-used woman, and this opinion
does not tend to further his good-will towards either
Mr or Mrs Glascott. The former was his whilom
enemy. True ; but that enmity is past and gone, or is
supposed so to be : still, little intercourse has subsisted
between Brydone and Hieover. The Viscount is much
inclined to blame Mrs Glascott for this state of things,
and to attribute to her influence the strained nature
of their relations. At any rate, he cannot for the life
of him understand the prolonged opposition which is
still made to Willina's marriage with Mr La Touche ;
and has once gone so far as to confide to his nephew
Duke a wish that he could get this pair to Hieover,
and marry them off on the spot. Parents and guard-
ians might — well, go hang ! Thus predisposed in her
favour, it was but natural that Lord Hieover should
receive Willina with special honour, and thank her
warmly for the pleasure of her visit.
True to her depredatory instincts, Clara Leppell, after
luncheon, sped her way to the aviaries, where, supported
by a confederate in the shape of an under-gardener, she
marked down such birds as she intended to transport
to Hunter's Lodge. Uncle Alick rarely objected to
these proceedings, seeing that the prey was well looked
after, and remembering also that Clara had much
214 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
responsibility and few amusements in her home. It
was in matters such as these that the Viscount
evinced that he was neither avaricious nor selfish, —
he was merely rather rigid in his determination that
his own good money should never be thrown after
bad; and thus, like many persons similarly situated,
he came in at the world's hand for a fair share of
misrepresentation and some abuse.
As soon as they were left alone, Miss Clavering
announced what the principal object of her visit
She at once dashed into the history of the sub-
stitution of the diamonds, and purposely allowed her
hearer scant time for expostulation or even inquiry.
After softening Colonel Leppell's conduct in every
possible way, she concluded by earnestly entreating
the Viscount to assist his brother, and, above all, to
remember how much Mary Clavering's peace and
happiness depended on the result.
At first Alick was rather inclined to stand out : he
thought that the matter should be trusted to the
generosity of Mr Clavering, and he said as much.
Here again was the weak spot in the programme.
Willina could no more say to the Viscount than she
could say to Colonel Leppell that she suspected a too
close intimacy bewixt her brother and Mrs Glascott.
Even if she held proof of her suspicions, she was not
sure that it would advance her undertaking to hint
thus much, so she said —
" It would be hardly seemly, would it, to put
A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 215
Colonel Leppell in the power of his son-in-law ? I
know that Frank has been very proud of his wife's
possessing the finest diamonds in Fenshire. I was
at Tring when he noticed that one of the stones looked
blurred — here it is." So saying, Miss Clavering pro-
duced the case with the jewels, and opened it in front
of the Viscount.
After looking at them a moment, Lord Hieover
put his finger on the stone which had attracted the
criticism of Mr Clavering. " That looks," said he,
" quite different from the rest of the set, and the others
seem to be a little dull also. I suppose you are sure
that the whole partcre is paste ? " Lord Hieover made
this, inquiry as the forlorn-hope of the business : he
was beginning to feel convinced that his role was to
be that of paymaster to a serious amount.
Willina immediately produced Mr Dupont's agree-
ment, and the receipts for the money paid at the time.
There was no evading this evidence ; and now the
Viscount seemed curious to know the exact reason
for Miss Clavering's great interest in the matter. " It
was very good of her to take so much trouble on the
account of his niece ; but Mr Clavering was her own
brother, — was it possible that both his sister and his
wife should be afraid to confide in him ? "
Miss Clavering explained that Mary was totally
ignorant of the whole matter. " I got her to allow
me to bring the jewels to London, in order that this
suspicious-looking stone might be tested. It was my
only chance of getting them into my possession," she
216 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
continued. " After having the set tested by two ex-
perts, and hearing the stones pronounced to be won-
derfully good paste imitation of diamonds, I went to
Colonel Leppell, and he told me the whole truth."
" Then Francis Clavering knows nothing of this ? "
" Nothing : he has his suspicions concerning the
one stone, but he did not examine the whole parure
minutely. He is, however, to ask Mrs Glascott to
bring her set of diamonds with her when she pays
her visit to Tring next month, in order that he may
compare her paritre with that of my sister-in-law ;
so you see, if Frank is made aware of your brother's
conduct, Mrs Glascott must necessarily share that
knowledge. This, I think, had better be avoided ; I
have many cogent reasons for saying so."
This last piece of information had evidently great
weight with the Viscount, who, at the same time, was
touched by the dumb pleading of the golden-brown
eyes of the suppliant. Alick might not be a lady's
man, but he loved innocent, unselfish truth. It is so
rare to find woman sincerely loyal to woman ; it was
delightful to find that Willina felt for the position of
his niece. *
" What do you propose should be done then ? "
" That real diamonds should be placed in this case
in lieu of the paste set, and that you go at once to
Paris and arrange with Mr Dupont : you would do
well to invite Clara to accompany you, as a treat for
her, and as a companion for yourself."
X PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 217
The Viscount raised his eyebrows and tried to look
aghast with astonishment : an amused smile played
round the corners of his mouth, nevertheless.
Willina saw her advantage, and continued — " On
your return from Paris you will kindly hand the case
to me, and I will go to Tring at once and return the
diamonds to Mary, point out to her that the diamond
in the centre of the bracelet clasp has a flaw — you
had better leave that stone as it is for appearance
sake — and that the whole parure required a little
cleaning, warn her against damp, &c."
" Done," said Alick, raising Willina's hand gallantly
to his lips, " on one condition."
" Wliat is that ? "
" That you accompany me and Clara to Paris as
soon as you like."
Willina joyfully accepted the invitation. " You
cannot. Lord Hieover," she said, " have dear Mary's
thanks ; but I feel sure that the recording angel has
placed this noble deed to the right side of your
account: this is the true pure charity which will
cover a multitude of sins."
" I will return to Hunter's Lodge with you," replied
the Viscount, " stay the night there, and start to-mor-
row. Come now, and let us find Clara."
THE SORKOW OF THE NIGHT.
It would be difficult to distinguish whether pleasure
or surprise was the predominant feeling in Colonel
Leppell's mind when he found his brother at his
threshold, and heard him intimate his intention of
staying at Hunter's Lodge on his way to Paris.
Clara flew to Lady Asher's room to communicate
the news ; and the two brothers, after the first greet-
ings were over, retired to the " den," wherein a long
and amicable conference took place.
It must have been both complete and satisfactory
on all sides ; for when they issued forth, with linked
arms and smiling faces, it was evident that the work
of the " peacemaker " had sowed good seeds in their
hearts, and that the fruits of generosity and forgive-
ness were now springing into life.
Ealph, though pleased, was remarkably quiet, and
that was always a sign that his heart was touched.
Moreover, in his joy and relief, he had the grace to
remember the kind offices of Willina Clavering in
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 219
this matter. " That girl has been the good angel of
our family/' he remarked to the Viscount.
" Indeed she has," returned the other ; " and it is
an awful shame that those two old fools should have
kept her so long waiting to fulfil her engagement, all
for their whims."
"Well, it won't be long now. Young La Touche
is doing well, and the moment the time is expired the
wedding will take place ; but I don't think either
Glascott or his wife can stand the La Touches."
" Oh, as to that," returned Lord Hieover, " I have
always been of opinion that Mrs Lillian could have
brought matters round in that quarter, if she had
chosen to use her influence. I heard a lot about her
when I was last down at Dunlashoe for the shooting ;
but I know you and the Frank Claverings think her
perfection, so I will say no more beyond this : Duke
tells me that Miss Clavering refused that eldest La
Touche, — a conceited snob, — hence the La Touche
" But Lillian had nothing to do with that. Come,
although she has not been over-grateful to me of late,
I must take her part there."
" Perhaps," returned the Viscount, " you don't know
the story goes that Lillian had marked down the La
Touche prize for herself."
" Don't believe it — don't believe a word of it ! " an-
swered Ealph. " Percival La Touche is a snob, but
he would never have presumed to approach either of
these ladies. They are quite out of his line, with all
220 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
his money, and he knows it. Duke has heard some
gossip, and has got mixed in retailing it."
Lord Hieover was silenced but not convinced. He
now asked after Lady Asher, and said he would like
to see her.
" Going on splendidly — first-rate," replied Colonel
Leppell, energetically. " Told you she would see us
out — is on the way to do so. Keep 'em in bed ; no
anxiety. Bread-pills, with a dusting of chemists'
stuff over them, and brandy-and- water draughts, will
keep an old woman in this sublunary sphere as long
as she is wanted. Fine recipe ; I recommended it
from the first, sir."
Meanwhile the household at large had been en-
lightened as to the cause of his lordship's visit. The
event itself was so sudden and unexpected, that it
employed the speculative powers of the inmates of
Hunter's Lodge for an indefinite space of time ; and a
small boy and a dog were told off to keep watch on
the Viscount's movements, in case he should leave
surreptitiously and ride away. Old Lady Asher was
shaken up to be informed that his lordship would like
to visit her.
The effect was electrical. Lady Asher bounded in
her bed, and rushed into a spirit of prophecy at the
same time, as she was told that the Viscount was
going to defray all the expenses of the trip to Paris,
and that the party would be quite three weeks in that
" The heavens will fall, Prothero ! " the old lady
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 221
declared solemnly, glaring upwards to the tester of
the bed as she spoke ; " or Alexander Leppell will be
going to be married, or "
" Well, he can't marry his niece, and Miss Claver-
ing belongs to somebody else ; it's only a Leppell
whim, my lady. The Viscount likes Miss Clara, and
Miss Clavering is good at the language, and so he
thinks he won't be overcharged at the hotels. As to
the heavens falling, they have seen more than this for
many a day, if they have attended to all the fantigues
of this family."
" Don't be hard, Prothero. They are all improv-
ing ; and Balph is much more considerate than he
used to be. We ought all of us to soften as we get
older. Now, make me presentable, for the Viscount is
coming to see me, I hear, and I want to look pleased
Prothero did as she was requested, then caught a
young child and bribed it to stay with grandmamma
^till she should return. She must help Clara to pre-
pare for the trip.
Although delighted that the girl should have this
enjoyment, Prothero, with all the tyranny of an old
and trusted domestic, was as cross as possible, because
longer notice had not been given wherein to make
these preparations. She censured the Viscount be-
hind his back, and tormented Clara to such an ex-
tent that the girl had no more say in what she should
take and what she should leave than had the dog in
222 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Your uncle must buy you a new bonnet and a silk
dress in Paris, mind that, Miss Clara, my dear," coun-
selled Prothero. " You have been so hurried that you
have an excellent excuse for getting what you want.
You haven't a wrapping plaid ; then take the one be-
longing to Miss Agnes. It is quite new — your pa gave
it her last week."
" But Agnes," objected Clara, " might not like."
" Never you mind ; you take it and wear it. I'll get
another out of your pa. He knows you must be com-
monly decent to go to Paris with a nobleman.
child ! why are you trying to lift that box ? It's
enough to break your back; I'll do that. You had
better run down now and look after Lady Asher."
" Best to do as well as we can," said Mrs Prothero
to herself, as Clara departed. " I hope the child will
get a few presents. She is in luck; for Alick may
freeze up again for the next hundred years. Lor' !
it's like a tale in the ' Arabian Nights.' "
The party set off the next day in high spirits, and
after performing a most comfortable journey, they
found themselves in that charming hotel which bears
the name of Hotel de Nice, and which stands opposite
to the Bourse. The fame of the cuisine of that
establishment has ever attracted visitors within its
gates, and as it also supplied thorough and courteous
attendance, no wonder that Uncle Alick began to ap-
preciate the French metropolis, and gave expression to
the wish that he had known of this hotel years ago.
" But then, you see," continued he to the ladies in
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 223
explanation, " I never could get my tongue round the
corner of any language but my own, and now I am
too old to try."
It had been agreed that nothing concerning the real
purport of the journey should be revealed to Clara,
consequently she was set down to write letters for the
whole party one morning, whilst Miss Clavering and
Lord Hieover paid their visit to Mr Dupont.
The latter was ait fait at the whole matter in a very
short time ; avowed that he was accustomed to make
all kinds of delicate arrangements to suit purchas-
ers ; was surprised at nothing, and knew nothing, and
remembered nothing, — no father confessor could be
more reticent. Now to business.
The paste set, he averred, had become dim, and had
lost its colour sooner than was usual in such very
good artificial stones as these were. The dim aspect
must be attributed to want of cleaning, and perhaps to
damp. The centre stone in the bracelet certainly pro-
claimed its unsoundness in the most glaring manner.
This, Mr Dupont suggested, he would replace by a
real diamond of bad colour, which he happened to
possess. The paste set should be most accurately
copied in real diamonds, and returned with these
when the order should be completed.
" And when will that be ? " asked Willina, anxiously.
" In about three weeks," was the answer ; " a day or
two over that time, perhaps, but not longer."
The business of price and paying was also entered
into, and was in its turn satisfactorily arranged. The
224 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Viscount paid half the sum charged down without
demur, and agreed to pay the other half when the
jewels should be handed to him. Mr Dupont was
profuse in his acknowledgments of Lord Hieover's
liberality, and complimented him thereon. But he
did not go so far as to compliment him upon his
French ; the most audacious Gaul that ever breathed
would have hesitated to do that.
" Just said a few words," remarked the Viscount to
Willina, "to let him see that I knew what I was
about." The speaker was quite blind to the fact that,
as far as Mr Dupont was concerned, he might have
been speaking Gaelic.
" Well, that's done," the Viscount continued in good
British phrase. " We'll go home and have some
luncheon, and drive to Versailles after that."
Clara wrote home such wonderful accounts of their
proceedings that the popular opinion at Hunter's Lodge
was that Uncle Alick had gone mad. " They stop at
nothing," shouted the Colonel to Lady Asher, w^ho was
beginning to be very deaf. " They are out morning,
noon, and night. They walk on the Boulevards, and
are every day at the Pally Eoyal. Alick has come
across some old friends, and they are all as jolly as
sandboys. It's a fact, ma'am."
Prothero hoped that the Viscount was not going to
die. Some men were allowed, by the blessing of
Providence, to go " fey " before they drop off, that
However, by the blessing of Providence, Lord Hie-
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 225
over lived, and returned from his trip quite rejuvenated
in mind and body. His niece, Mary Clavering, was
passing through London on her way back from her
visit to Dunlashoe, and Willina thought she would
take the advantage of Marmaduke's escort and return
at once to Ireland.
One evening she put the case of diamonds into
Mary's hands. " That stone is defective," she said ;
" but the jeweller says it can be replaced by a perfect
one at any time. Your set is clean now, and you
must be careful to keep it free from damp. Better
than all — go out oftener than you do, and wear your
Mary smiled, and informed her sister that she had
consented to go to a ball in the neighbourhood, which
would take place immediately upon the return of the
Glascotts from town.
" Francis is anxious," she said, " that we should both
wear our diamonds ; but I insist upon wearing black
velvet also, for I won't put off mourning for my
children. Mr Glascott and Frank are both going to
accompany us, which I am glad of, for it is rarely
that my husband has time to enter into evening amuse-
As Mrs Clavering was speaking that individual came
in, and his wife showed him her jewels. " I got Wil-
lina to have them cleaned for me," said she in perfect
innocence, " and both she and Uncle Alick had them
tested by an expert also. The man said they were
perfectly pure diamonds ; but he agreed with you that
VOL. III. p
226 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the stone in the centre of this bracelet is an inferior
one, although a pure gem. It seems it can be very
easily replaced, but, of course, Willina did not think
of doing this without consulting us. Wliat do you
think, Frank ? Would you like me to get another
stone, or let this one remain as it is ? "
Mr Clavering narrowly inspected the parure; but he
was so delighted at the fact of his own opinion con-
cerning the centre stone being confirmed by the verdict
of the jeweller, that he quite overlooked the wonderful
difference in the brilliancy of the set as a whole.
" That stone is certainly very inferior," he remarked.
" Why, the shade of its colour has changed. When I
saw it last it had a dull pink tinge, now it is a dull
yellow. You can't have it altered now, as we must
return home to-morrow, and I want you, as I said be-
fore, to wear the set at the Tring county ball."
Although Lord Hieover reaped no other reward than
that of virtue in this transaction, he still inwardly
chuckled at the idea of his having been the means of
deluding so clever a personage and so great an author-
ity on all things as was Mr Clavering. That gentle-
man was becoming every year more arbitrary in his
opinions, and the way in which he occasionally laid
down the law somewhat "riled" Uncle Alick, who
never pretended, nor ever had pretended, to be a judge
of any mortal thing, with the exception of a horse or
He, therefore, derived much amusement as he
watched Francis inspect the parure and deliver his
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 227
dictum concerning that one particular stone. Willina
had retired from the room, to avoid laughing outright.
There was little time left for these relatives to con-
fer. Marmaduke was anxious to set out for home,
and the great motive for Miss Clavering's return to
Tring being removed, she agreed to go back with him
on the following day.
Lord Hieover would take his niece back to her
father's house, where she would be well received by
Prothero, for good lace, as well as jewellery, suitable
to the wear of a young girl, had been presented to her,
in addition to that bonnet and silk dress concerning
which the maid had been so peremptory. Uncle
Alick accordingly rose many degrees in the mental
thermometer at Hunter's Lodge.
Willina found that it had been decided to let young
Frank Clavering go to Brydone with the Glascotts,
there to remain for some time. She fervently hoped
that it would be long before any visiting between these
two houses would take place.
Guests of both sexes were expected at Tring, and
Mr Clavering, in common politeness, could not absent
s himself from home.
As Lord Hieover wished Miss Clavering good-bye,
he informed her that he had smashed the paste set to
atoms ; " and mind," continued he, " you shall have the
finest set of diamonds I can get for your wedding pre-
sent from me. No thanks ; we are all indebted to you
for saving the family from the shame of a gross breach
of honour, to put it mildly. Again, good-bye, and
228 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
when you feel benevolently inclined towards the
elderlies, send me news of Peggy."
Miss Clavering arrived at Dunlashoe just in time.
She found a matron of the neighbourhood installed in
the house, and Peggy invisible. A night of agony, and
a long day alternating betwixt hope and fear, came to
a sad conclusion. Marmaduke's wife was barely alive
and quite insensible, and his fine twin sons had been
born dead. This was indeed a shock to the little
household ; but had it been otherwise, they might
perhaps never have known the wealth of kindness
with which they were regarded for miles around that
lonely district. Peasants walked long distances to hear
of Peggy's welfare ; Marmaduke was accosted with
homely respectful sympathy by persons whom he
had never seen.
The law of kindness had worked its way here.
" English as ye are," said one, " the word of insult and
contempt has niver dhropped from yer lips." " Ye are
so kind and purlite that we could not believe you to
be English," said another. In the eyes of those who
know, it has been generally the want of even the
common courtesies of life which has so embittered
the Irish race against their English landlords.
The time passed by, and no event of importance
marked its flight among the denizens of the land of
whom this record treats. Mary Clavering's son grew
apace, bold, fitful, and only constant in his declaration
that he loved Mrs Glascott above all other persons in
the world. A little daughter had been born to the
THE SOEROW OF THE NIGHT. 229
Claverings, and in the caresses of this infant Mary
lost much of the sorrow which the hardness of her
eldest-born naturally occasioned her. Prothero, for
comfort, declared that young Frank Clavering must
have been changed at nurse.
Martha La Touche had fitted well into her position,
and, when the right time arrived, she informed her
husband that Mr Glascott had redeemed his promise
concerning the marriage of Miss Clavering with his
son Stephen. She begged her husband to be forgiv-
ing and generous, and entreated him to acknowledge
the epistle which the latter had lately written to his
father entreating him to receive him at Wheatley and
discuss the subject. Stephen had been most anxious
on this point, and had privately bespoken the influence
of Mrs La Touche in his behalf.
All was, however, to no purpose. Prompted by
Percival, the old man held out vigorously, and even
declined to see his son ; and if Marcia was not exactly
inimical to her nephew, she certainly made no effort
to forward a reconciliation.
Aunt Kemble's will was at the bottom of all this.
It had never been forgiven to Stephen that this docu-
Having done everything in his power, Stephen felt
that nothing more was incumbent on him : he, there-
fore, wrote to Mrs La Touche thanking her for her
kindness, and informed her that, all being well, his
marriage would take place in about three weeks' time
from that date.
230 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Mr Glascott's town house was now vacant, and the
wedding would take place from thence. The party
from Dunlashoe, the Claverings, and the Leppells
would be present. It was hard, indeed, Stephen wrote,
that none of his family would join them. Miss Clav-
ering had written to invite Fanny La Touche to be one
of her bridesmaids. This had been peremptorily re-
fused. Lord Hieover had offered him the use of his
house, and the honeymoon would be spent at Hieover
This much had been settled, and Willina and the
Dukes came to London some little time before the
Glascotts were due at their own habitation. Marma-
duke had taken a furnished house for a couple of
months ; by this means he and his wife would enjoy
themselves after their own fashion, and, what was also
desirable, Willina would be with them until the time
should arrive when she would go to her guardian's
liouse. Marmaduke vowed that, barring attendance at
the wedding-breakfast — and that only out of respect
to Willina — he would accept no hospitality from Mrs
Glascott. Even when Mrs Leppell was almost at
death's door, Lillian had never troubled to write a line
inquiring about her state.
Thus, as the world goes, plans are arranged, jealousies
and enmities pursue their course, and after long waiting
and some sorrowing, happiness seems to come when we
are sleeping. Stephen and Willina now threw them-
selves into the present without much or any care for
the future, and they went about with their friends,
THE SOEROW OF THE NIGHT. 231
completed their purchases, and literally made hay
when the sun was shinino:. All was absorbed in the
happy present. The warning, embodied in an elegant
verse of Corneille, in their season of delight was
quite obliterated : they had read the quaint old rhyme
in the past ; but it was forgotten now, and it was
natural that such should be the case.
" Toute cette felicite,
Sujette k I'instabilite,
En moins que rien tombe a terre ;
Et, comme elle a I'eclat du verre,
Elle en a la fragilite."
Stephen came to Marmaduke's house late one night.
" I had forgotten to tell you, dear," he said to Willina,
" that I am due to-night at one of these hybrid enter-
tainments, between a ball and an evening-party, which
my friends, the Lascelles, give in honour of a sister-
in-law who has come up to town to be married next
week from their house. I shall have no more than
time to go home and dress."
" Lascelles — I have heard you mention that name,"
said Miss Clavering. " Do I know any of them ? "
" Not personally, I think ; but they know all about
you. Mr Lascelles is an awfully good fellow, and did
all he could at one time to bring my father to reason.
He also spoke to Percival, and was treated with great
insolence by him on my account. I wanted to tell
you that Mrs Lascelles did not know that you had
come up to town, or she would have called and sent
you and the Dukes an invitation."
232 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Where do the Lascelles live ? "
"In Bournemouth Gardens, rather near Hinton
Square, by the way. You are fortunate in escaping
this dance, for the house is small, and there will be a
dreadful squeeze, I rather think."
" Come and tell me all about it to-morrow morning,"
said Willina. " And, mind, I give you permission to
flirt as much as possible with the lady who is going to
be married next week."
" You are quite safe," laughed Stephen, as he bade
her good night. Then he left, handsome and stalwart.
Willina thought she had never realised how noble his
appearance was till now. We do not admit as often
as we should how truly happiness beautifies all living
things : it is the golden halo of life.
Then she and the Dukes fell to talking, and some-
how the burden of their conversation bore very much
on past events and upon the strange vicissitudes of
everyday existence. They spoke of Colin M'Taggart,
their neighbour 'par excellence, of whom they really saw
very little — his quiet, workaday life, his good example,
and, above all things, his abstention from interfering
in things which were beyond his province — with much
praise. This was the secret of Colin's success in
Ireland. He was a good teacher, and, like a sensible
man, he never meddled with politics, or with other
Willina remarked that Stephen La Touche held the
opinion that Colin had a sneaking kindness for his
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 233
" How would Aunt Marcia like that ? " said Marma-
" I don't think she would be consulted on the
matter," said Miss Clavering ; " besides, after the
marriage her brother has made, she could not say
very much about inequality of station."
" But Mr M'Taggart is the girl's first cousin, sure,"
exclaimed Peggy, rearing up on the couch on which
she had been reclining. " The only objection that I
can see would be the near relationship."
" True ; but it has not come to that yet. Now,
don't you think we had better be off to our beds ? I
want you to come for a morning's shopping early to-
morrow, for I don't believe Stephen will be here till
after luncheon. The party he has gone to, he expected,
would not break up till the small hours," volunteered
At the time that this trio separated a cry of fire
had been raised in the house at Bournemouth Gardens,
and whilst they afterwards slept in security and peace,
two human beings were writhing in agony, one of
whom had in mercy been released by death from
bitter suffering. These were, sad to tell. Miss Dare,
the young lady who was about to be married, and
Stephen La Touche.
It would seem next to impossible to those who have
never witnessed the progress of a fire, to comprehend
diow fatally and how quickly a human being once
subjected to its influence can shrivel up and be
burnt out of all recognition, even to the utter extinc-
234 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
tion of life. In cases wherein the burning would not
be of itself sufficient to cause death, the shock to
the whole system is so overwhelming, and the utter
prostration which follows so intense, that in nine
cases out of ten it is impossible that a reaction can
ensue. Thus it is that patients who have been over-
taken by this terrible calamity more often die of the
after-effects than they do from positive injury from
the burns themselves.
The house of Mr Lascelles was, as it has been said,
small, and not arranged to give space to a great number
of persons at one time. The event which had induced
Mrs Lascelles to give a dance had also led her on to
invite more guests than her rooms could conveniently
hold. In consequence, what is called a sit-down supper
was utterly impossible, and after trying all kinds of
devices, it was settled that a supper should be laid in
a small room at the farther extremity of the house, to
which the guests could be escorted at the proper time
— the ladies to be waited on by the gentlemen, and
these last to sup together after the ladies had with-
The two musicians who were to preside at the piano
were to take their refreshment behind a screen on the
As the guests arrived, every cloak and coat and wrap
was conveyed away, even the mats in the hall were
withdrawn — all being done to secure space. The doors
of the ground-floor dining-room and drawing-room —
which had been thrown into one for the accommoda-
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 235
tion of the dancers — had been taken off their hinges,
and muslin curtains, festooned with flowers and ribbon,
supplied their place. Everything, in fact, was cleared
away that might cause a stumble or take up one inch
of the necessary space.
Up to twelve o'clock all had gone well : muslin,
tarletane, silk, satin, with the necessary accompani-
ments, had swathed the masculine form in the mazes
of the waltz, so that of the sterner sex little more than
the heads were visible. The gradients of the stairs
were crowded with panting and exhausted terpsicho-
reans, and the atmosphere left Fiji far in the back-
ground. But this was real pleasure, and the company
seemed to revel in it to the greatest extent.
The ladies had been conveyed in batches to supper,
and as the last of the fair sex passed through the door,
their partners seated themselves comfortably at table,
and prepared to indemnify themselves for the extra
duty they had undergone by putting the services of
the hired waiters to the utmost requisition, and by
thoroughly enjoying the viands that were set before
them. They had certainly earned their supper, and
with the exception, perhaps, of a few very young men,
the ladies would have the coast to themselves for the
best part of an hour.
This was the avowed sentiment of old Mr Fisk, a
neighbour, who hated balls, and who was only then
present because the noise and the music would keep
liim from sleep in his own house. He therefore pun-
ished his friend's supper severely, and seemed dis-
236 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
appointed that he could not devour everything that
was on the table.
The ladies, who had been sitting in and standing
about the dancing-room, appeared to feel anxious for
something to do, and in the absence of the musicians,
Mrs Lascelles proposed that a ladies' quadrille should
be improvised — being sure, she said, that she might
call upon some of her young friends to supply the
Miss Dare immediately volunteered to play the air
of any dance that might be called. She had been
accustomed, she said, to act as musician at the little
impromptu " hops " which were occasionally given
at her own home, and so she was quite independent
A set of quadrilles was soon formed, and the very
pretty sight of a number of nicely dressed girls danc-
ing together was thoroughly appreciated by the ma-
trons and others who looked on.
Suddenly a piercing scream from a young lady who
was standing close to the piano, followed by an entire
cessation of the music, and a rush to the centre of
the room, caused every one to rise to their feet. Those
at the farther end were horrified to perceive that Miss
Dare was on fire, and that in her alarm she had come
against those who were near her, and that in conse-
quence the dresses of some other of the guests had
become ignited by the contact.
The more collected of the bystanders hastened to-
wards the affrighted girls, with entreaties that they
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 237
should not rush away, but lie clown and roll on the
floor, they in the meantime searching for something
wherewith to envelop them.
Nothing available for the purpose was within reach,
— all, as it has been seen, was removed that would take
up space : even the couvrettes for the backs of the
chairs had been stowed away.
Some ineffectual attempts were made to tear up the
carpet, but these efforts were fruitless : a linen cover
stretched for dancing, and tightly nailed over it, ren-
dered the task, wherein every moment was precious,
A mother extinguished the flame that had caught
the light dress of her daughter, by wrapping the girl
tightly in the folds of her velvet gown ; another ran
frantically to the room at the far end of the house,
where the gentlemen were at supper, and besought
" It was an awful spectacle," said one of them a
few days afterwards, as he described the scene to his
family. " I could not have believed it possible that
a human being could burn away so quickly. Oh,
the terrible, the dreadful sight ! I shall never forget
it as long as memory is left me — never."
" Tell us how it happened ? " said the gentleman's
wife. " I have not liked to ask you to give us the
particulars, for you appear to have been so terribly
" We were sitting round the supper-table, the door
being shut, when our attention was attracted by a
238 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
curious sound which appeared to proceed from the
street. This was followed by screams, and then hur-
ried in a lady who, with a face deathly white, begged
us to come and put out the fire. Poor soul ! after she
had with difficulty got out these words, she sank
down to the floor and fainted away.
" We all, together with the waiters, ran to the
dancing- room, and found one of the musicians tear-
ing down the muslin curtains which were festooned
at the entrance.
" The first object I distinctly descried was Mr La
Touche, who had been a little in advance, down on
his knees, wrapping his coat round a burning mass,
which struggled and screamed in a manner which
was dreadful to hear. Fragments of dress, singed
ornaments, and burnt hair strewed the floor in heaps,
for La, Touche had with both hands torn away Miss
Dare's clothing, whilst others stamped upon these
fragments to prevent the sparks from igniting further.
"I at the moment happened to see a young lady
frantically endeavouring to open the window, and
dashed forward only in time to prevent her doing so.
What would have been the consequence had she suc-
ceeded in her design, God only knows. I seized her
gossamer skirt, which had become ignited, and literally
wrung out the tire by tearing it off in handfuls. It
was the work of a second : a silk petticoat worn be-
neath it saved the girl's limbs, and very probably her
" How awful ! " exclaimed the speaker's wife, as
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 239
she listened to this narration ; " how thankful we
ought to be that our Amy was not there ! "
" That was the burden of my own thanksgiving at
the time," was the reply. " After I had placed the
lady in a safe corner, I turned round and beheld
Stephen La Touche, with blackened face and hands,
trying to get a blanket round the unfortunate suf-
ferer, who quivered with agony, and lay moaning in
a manner which was piteous to hear. Then the smell
of burning flesh made itself felt ! A terrible scent
is this — worse even than that of the battlefield —
for here it was a woman's flesh and blood which the
flame devoured and cindered, — yes, cindered like the
surface of toast that is burnt."
" Did she attempt to help herself ? "
"That was impossible. In a few seconds more,
Miss Dare happily became insensible, and then was
lifted in the blanket and conveyed up-stairs. The
spot whereon she had lain was literally burnt through
both carpet and cover in the outline of the human
form. The smoke and the smoulder arising from it
were alike terribly offensive."
'•' And how did it all happen ? " inquired the wife.
" Miss Dare was playing for the dancers, when the
sleeve of her gossamer dress caught fire from one of
the piano candles ; the flame ran along the material,
and then to the other parts of the robe. This being
of light substance, and nothing but a number of muslin
skirts beneath, there was not the slightest impediment
to the action of the fire. Had she worn even one
240 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
under-skirt of thick material beneath these, her life
micjht have been saved."
" What a mistake ! " exclaimed the wife. " I suppose
the whole toilet was nothing more than under-linen
beneath and gossamer above."
" That was all ; and every shred was burnt off her
in less time than it takes to tell. The sight in every
way was a fearful one ; and now that fine young man,
Stephen La Touche, has died from the burns which
he received in trying to save her."
" I thought you said that the doctor's opinion was
that Mr La Touche would recover."
" It was thought so at first, but his strength failed
very suddenly : he was terribly burnt about the chest
and the temples, and the inside of one of his hands
and the arm were burnt to the bone. I don't go to
the house just now, for naturally the inmates are
thoroughly upset : poor Mrs Lascelles has kept her
bed ever since, and I am told the smell pervading the
house is noisome to a degree."
This gentleman was quite correct in what he related
to his wife. After Miss Dare had been conveyed up-
stairs, Stephen suddenly fainted, and on examination
it was discovered that he had experienced the most
serious injuries. Two physicians had been summoned,
and they immediately attended to him, ordering that
he should be placed in bed, and a hospital nurse
When the guests had departed, the senior physician,
who, in conjunction with a confrere, had been in
THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 241
close attendance on Miss Dare, left that room for a
few moments in order to ascertain how the other
sufferer was progressing. In the case of Miss Dare
it was only a matter of time, — an hour or two at most
must necessarily terminate her trials. There was
liope for Mr La Touche ; still his condition was very
The doctor made his examination. The result of
this was, that though he entertained little apprehen-
sion of immediate danger, he judged it necessary that
the friends of Mr La Touche should be summoned,
not waiting till the day should be more advanced.
A messenger was despatched in a cab to fetch Miss
La Touche from Hinton Square, and to apprise the
elder brother of the catastrophe. Stephen had re-
quested that his aunt should be sent for, and also
Miss Clavering ; but he had become insensible before
he could furnish the address of the latter. In the
distraction and distress which prevailed, Mr Lascelles
had totally forgotten even the locality wherein Mr
Leppell's house was situated.
Marcia arrived ; and after the first horror and shock
was over, she suggested that the address should be
inquired for at Mr Glascott's town house; it was
being made ready for the reception of the owner, and
probably Miss Clavering had been there. If not suc-
cessful, the messenger was to go at once to the
chambers of Mr La Touche, and try to procure it
there. All, however, was to vain purpose.
The patient, after a lapse of a few hours, inquired
VOL. III. Q
242 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
anxiously for Willina. Why did she not come ? was
she being kept away from him ? and why ? All
these questions tortured Marcia, and added to her
self-reproach. At length she bethought herself of
Stephen's pocket - book ; and there she found the
address in a note of Willina's written the day before.
Miss Clavering was sent for ; but a day and a night
had almost passed since the accident occurred.
DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE.
"Vattene cor beata e bella,
Vattene a quel superna sede
E lasciar el mundo esempio del tuo fede."
It was all too true, the case proving to be far more
dangerous than was at first supposed. The doctors
knew well, though they had not given expression to
their conviction, that in a very short time all would
be over in this world for Stephen La Touche. This
fine hale man w^as lying maimed and utterly helpless,
— all his comeliness c;one, nothinsf left save his clear
loyal spirit to tell what he once had been. His sense
of hearing was, however, at this crisis acute to pain-
fulness, and softly as Willina entered, he instinctively
felt her presence before she became recognisable to
" I knew you would come, dear heart," he said
faintly. " Give me every moment ; the sand of my
life is wellnigh shaken out. Yes, Willina, I am
dying; I am leaving you."
244 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Stephen ! my love, has it come to this ? " she
gasped, holding out both her hands. " If I had only
been there, I might have done something to help you.
I might have ministered to you from the first; and
now I come only to " and here Willina gave vent
to one of those tearless sobs which tell of the heart's
deep agony more pitifully, perhaps, than do loud cries
or floods of tears.
. An arm stealing round her waist, and her head at
the same time drawn down caressingly to a woman's
shoulder, made Miss Clavering aware that the heal-
ing waters of sympathy had at length unsealed their
fountains in the soul of Marcia La Touche.
" I have been with him ever since the accident,"
she said, in tearful accents ; " and he was so ill yester-
day that I remained up all night, to relieve the nurse.
Poor Stephen ! — poor, poor fellow 1 "
The sufferer put out his bandaged arm in the direc-
tion where Marcia stood, feeling for her rather than
seeing her — for the sight of one eye was all but extin-
guished, and the vision of its fellow was sorely clouded.
" My mother could not have nursed me more de-
votedly," he said. " Ah, Aunt Marcia, I have always
known that it only required opportunity to bring out
your better self. The sick-room has shown you in
your true womanhood. I only wish that you could
have been less severely tried, less "
" It is a comfort to be allowed to attend upon you,"
she interrupted. " I feel that I have been a sad let
and hindrance to both of you, and I am thankful for
DOAVN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 245
the opportunity which permits me to stand here and
ask your pardon. Stephen ! Willina ! will you
forgive me ? I acted for the best. Believe me, I
have never been wanting in friendly feeling towards
They both assured her of their perfect trust in what
she said, and Willina volunteered the opinion that
Aunt Marcia could have hardly done otherwise than
sail with the family stream. " You have only carried
out the ideas of both sides of our houses," she said,
generously. " Besides, I cannot blame you for expect-
ing a higher match for Stephen than I "
" Don't say that," continued Marcia. " Experience
has taught me that there are better things in life than
a large income, and all the advantages that it com-
mands. Ah ! the long weary struggle you both have
had, and all to end like this at last ! "
"Ay," interrupted Stephen, in a low broken tone,
for a dull weariness was gaining upon him, — " the pro-
bation has been long, but it has carried its victory.
When all is over, tell them all, tell them. Aunt Marcia,
that through the mercy of God, Stephen La Touche
passed from life sound in mind and heart. Keep near
me, dear love," he added, turning to Willina ; " let
death, when it comes, find me strong and happy, in
the sanity of loving you. I am spent ; I cannot say
Marcia administered a restorative, at the same time
enjoining silence and rest upon the patient. Then
Willina placed her hand on his noble head. Pale as
246 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
marble, with her lips slightly parted, she stood looking
solemnly upwards, as if she awaited the advent of the
death-angel, and had heard from afar the rustle of his
wings. She might have been sculptured there as the
grand protectress of the dying man, determined that
none other than herself should surrender the charge
when the messenger of the King should issue forth.
There was silence for some time, and then Stephen,
rallied by the cordial, spoke once more : his voice was
almost strong now.
"Do you think that Dr Williams would come to
me ? " he said ; " I would so like him to be with me at
" At the last ! " was all that poor "VVillina could
utter; but the tone of her voice was heart-breaking
to hear, — the wail of misery sounded in every tone.
Marcia answered the question. " I am sure he will.
It only takes three hours to travel from Yarneshire,
and there are plenty of trains."
" I only want him as a friend," the patient said.
" Don't offend the other doctors — they are very skilful,
very good — but at the last I should prefer to see a
mad doctor. You understand ? "
Marcia did not reply ; but the faint pressure of
Willina's fingers on his forehead assured Stephen that
she had rightly interpreted the request. She knew
that he wished to secure medical testimony to the
absence of the family taint in his constitution : if it
existed, surely it would come out now. That was
why the patient wished for the attendance of Dr
DOWN WIXD, DOWN TIDE. 247
Williams at the last; and Willina understood this
Marcia left the room to write and despatch the
telegram. "I will speak to the nurse," she said as
she went out, " and if she hears the bell, she will be
with you in an instant. You will like to be left to
yourselves," she added kindly, turning towards Wil-
lina ; " but in ten minutes or so my duty as nurse
will compel me to return." She went out, softly
closing the door behind her, and the unfortunate
lovers were alone.
Draw we a veil over their dumb agony, their rain
of tears. It was well that the senses of each were
almost deadened by their weight of sorrow.
"We have both tried to do right, and keep our
promises to our friends," the poor girl at length said.
" Oh why, why has it been worse than useless ? Why
are we punished as if we had been dishonoured and
wrong ? "
He could not answer her. Ah ! this bitter question,
which has wrung the hearts of multitudes of earth's
children, and will wring them till time is no more !
Why are the innocent so often punished, miserably
punished, not for the sins merely, but for the mistakes
and the whims and the selfishness of the guilty and
the erring ? Strange mystery of life, one of its most
inexplicable and most cruel phases ! " The whole
creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until
now," wrote the Apostle of old unto those who were
then alive, awaiting the promises of the glorious re-
248 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
demption. Generation upon generation have passed
away since then, and we who now live still groan and
travail in anguish; still bear the brunt of the mis-
doings of our kind ; still, with all our knowledge and
progress, are groping in the mists of speculation and
unsatisfied doubts. Well for them who can wait, and
endure unto the end. The crown of victory will be
no less a crown when won through the martyrdom of
the spirit's weary waiting — through that strong trust
which believeth all things and hopeth all things, from
the pure principle that it is right so to do, and that
without compensation or hope of reward.
The interview was shortened not only by the return
of Marcia, but also from the debilitated state of the
sufferer, whose weakness and restlessness were increas-
ing to a lamentable degree. Kindness, therefore, as
well as prudence, demanded that Willina should at
once leave the room, and this necessity was the more
imperative, as one of the doctors was expected to call
during the course of the morning, and time was wear-
ing rapidly on.
" You will return soon," gasped Stephen, when Miss
Clavering announced her intention of going down-
stairs to see the lady of the house, and thank her for
placing a room at her disposal.
" Poor Mrs Lascelles ! she has indeed her own great
trial to bear," she had remarked. " Such a fearful ex-
perience this has been to her ; it is enough to throw a
dark shadow over the remainder of her life."
Those who have had occasion to tend upon sickness
DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 249
in all its phases, will agree that there is nothing more
painful than to witness the gradual extmction of a life
which has been prematurely brought to its close by
accident or violence. Still more melancholy also when
the struggle of the natural force, at first unsubdued
by the untoward catastrophe, is maintained to the
last in fitful sobbing gasps — every inch of existence
being so persistently contested, that those attending
remain in doubt almost to the end as to whether or no
the King of Terrors may be ultimately baulked of his
prey. Thus it was that the agony was prolonged in
the wrenching of soul and body of Stephen La Touche.
A sound sleep of an hour's duration, immediate upon
the withdrawal of Miss Clavering, had so refreshed
and comforted the patient that the nurses had taken
fresh hope, and almost flattered themselves that a
crisis which would evolve into recovery was nigh. The
doctor calling soon after noticed the improvement, but,
to the surprise of Marcia especially, he did not draw
any permanently favourable augury from the symp-
toms. In fact, his injunctions gave rise to the saddest
forebodings in Willina's mind. " If you have any
private affairs to settle," said Dr Moir, addressing the
patient, " let me advise you to lose no time ; you are
capable of transacting business now, and perhaps for
some hours to come, but I should be going beyond my
province did I promise more. Let us hope, however,
that the night may pass over more easily than the
last. I will see you again before ten o'clock."
The doctor then gave some injunctions for the man-
250 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
agement of the invalid, and proceeded to another
apartment of this house of woe, there to minister to
Mrs Lascelles, who was lying prostrate, not only from
the shock she had undergone, but also from the dread
of facing further human misery. She had received a
telegram apprising her that Mr Leadham, to whom
Miss Dare was to have been married, would be at
Bournemouth Gardens late in the afternoon, and the
poor woman, who had already in spirit suffered much
of the agony which would necessarily be the portion
of that bereaved friend, had now fairly succumbed to
the dread of being a witness to the sorrow which she
was powerless either to alleviate or overcome.
It was by Marcia's advice that Mrs Lascelles took
to her bed ; and here it was that the genuine kindness
of that lady's disposition evinced itself. She had ar-
ranged with quiet thoughtfulness that it should be her
province to receive Mr Leadham, and to make him ac-
quainted with all the particulars of the sad catastrophe.
" You are worn and spent," she said to her hostess,
" and Willina Clavering has more than her own por-
tion of trouble to bear. Besides, under the circum-
stances, it is possible that Mr Leadham may bear the
intelligence more calmly from a stranger. He cannot
fail to see that others are partakers in this overwhelm-
ing sorrow, and he may perhaps feel his own share of
it less keenly when he finds that the living have so
much need of consideration and sympathy."
Marcia was right. We weep and mourn for our
dead ; day upon day, and night upon night, bear wit-
DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 251
ness to the lamentations of the children of earth for
those who have passed away never to return. How is
it that, in the great mass of human experience, so few
tears are shed for the miseries of the living, — so few
regrets are expressed or felt for the sins and suffer-
ings of human kind in general ?
We take it for granted, and sad experience confirms
our belief, that at some period of life, sooner or later —
God knows when — sorrow and anguish must be the
portion of each and every one of us. Consequently
the edge of our sympathy for others becomes rounded
off to utter smoothness. Know you not, oh brother
and sister ! that I have passed through the furnace of
affliction ? I and mine have borne the bitter burden ;
we have suffered and lived. Think me not hard that I
look upon your grief as a necessary part of our being ;
it is the common lot. " The whole creation groaneth
and travaileth in pain together until now."
To be not only fellow-sufferers, but to stand face to
face with one great agony, more surely perhaps than
any other circumstance of life, draws us out of our-
selves and turns us to a sympathising consideration of
our fellow-mourner. Thus it was with Mr Leadham.
Although unprepared for the nature of the calamity
which had laid his own future desolate, the matter of
the telegram despatched to summon him was grave
enough to bring the conviction that the accident of
which it made mention must be of a nature to seriously
affect the life of his betrothed. He, therefore, received
the intelligence which Marcia had undertaken to con-
252 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
vey with the calmness of a man who felt assured that
he had hoped against hope. He sat silent, pale and
heart-stricken for a time ; but as Marcia went on to
relate the dangerous state of him who had run such a
terrible risk in the futile attempt to save Miss Dare,
and at the same time depicted Miss Clavering's posi-
tion, the iron frost of despair melted suddenly in the
afflicted gentleman's soul. Eising up and extending
his hands, he exclaimed, " Let me see them 1 let me at
least pour out my gratitude to Mr La Louche. Lhe
young lady's portion in this awful trial is perhaps the
heaviest of all. God help her ! I would fain condole
with her, but this is scarcely the time."
Marcia agreed with him in this opinion. At the
same time she assured Mr Leadham of her conviction
that Willina would be gratified at his concern for her
amid his own deep trouble. Then she asked hesitat-
ingly, " Would he wish to see the remains ? They
were deposited in a chamber up-stairs. All had been
done that could be done ; but she was sorry to say
that the features were not recognisable — the action
of the fire had been so terrible. At such a time,"
Marcia continued, " it would be cruel in me to conceal
the truth. Let me advise you : it were better that you
should not attempt to see her as she lies now."
" Is it as terrible as that ? " gasped the poor gentle-
man, with trembling lips and face as ashy pale as if
the bitterness of death were for him wellnigh over-
past. " Can no trace remain of what she was once in
life ? "
DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 253
Marcia could not for a moment trust herself to re-
ply. She raised her hand in mute deprecation, and
shook her head. At length, rallying her fortitude,
for she felt that she must not give way to even a
moment's weakness, she said —
" Oh, do not attempt it ! Be satisfied to remember
her as you last saw her — fair and comely ; that im-
pression must be so grateful to you, that it should
never be erased from your mind. Do not — do not, I
beseech you — displace so gracious a remembrance.
Know for your comfort that almost the last sound of
her voice was the utterance of your name — Cecil ! "
" She called me ? " said Mr Leadham, taking solace
from this incident. "In her death-agony she spoke
my name ! "
"Yes," said Marcia, solemnly; "and then her
thoughts flew to the dear Christ who died in bitter
suffering for us all. No words were distinguished
Then the tears flowed down the mourner's face, and
Marcia, full of sympathy for that overcharged heart,
left it to know its own bitterness. With this feeling
she averted her face, and said —
"You will be quite quiet — quite undisturbed here.
I will bring some refreshment presently." So saying,
she left the room, gently closing the door, adding from
the outside as she did so, " Do not leave the house
till I return ; it is probable that Mrs Lascelles may
wish to see you."
Allowing twenty minutes to elapse, Miss La Touche
254 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
returned to the drawing-room, bearing some refresh-
ments set out on a small tray in her hand. " Drink a
glass of wine," she said, almost commandingly ; "it
will revive you. Mrs Lascelles is asleep, so cannot
see you now ; but pray be here to-morrow at eleven
o'clock, as the doctors will meet you then, and the
last arrangements will be made. Now, you know, it
is your duty to take care of yourself : my nephew, if
he pass the night tolerably, will be better able to see
you than he is at present. But an unfavourable
change may take place at any moment: we all de-
pend so much upon you. By the way, where are you
staying ? "
" I have taken rooms at the Great Western Hotel,
Paddington, as I thought it possible that I could not
be received here just at present," Mr Leadham made
" I will not ask you to remain longer," returned
Marcia, taking the young man's hand. " Let me
advise you to go and rest for a few hours. Mr
Lascelles will call upon you about eight o'clock. He
is not at home now; but I know that he is very
anxious to see you. Now, pray, bear up ; remember
that the accident might have happened where there
were no friends nigh. Take comfort in the knowledge
that all has been wisely ordered ; and oh ! in your
prayers remember poor Stephen, my dear nephew."
Mr Leadham silently pressed her hand, and in
another moment he was out of the house, and, nearly
blind with misery, made his way towards the Great
DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 255
Western Hotel. Here his evident distress attracted
the attention of one of the waiters, who inquired in
a sympathetic tone of voice if there was anything
he could do for him — expressing as he did so his
apprehension that Mr Leadham was in trouble. A
fellow-feeling makes utter strangers kindly ; the man
had very recently lost his only brother in an ap-
palling railway accident.
Mr Leadham thanked the waiter for his kindness,
and told him that he was a mourner from the effects
of a fearful catastrophe which had taken place close
by. "The facts are too harrowing to be touched
upon," Mr Leadham continued; "it is dreadful even
to think of them."
" Oh, sir ! do you refer to the terrible occurrence
in Bournemouth Gardens last week ? "
Mr Leadham nodded affirmatively.
" It has caused a great sensation throughout all the
neighbourhood and beyond it, sir. Some of the guests
stayed here on that night ; they came straight from
the house, and so we heard of it. Their distress was
quite painful to see, and every one was so concerned
for the poor gentleman the young lady was going to
marry. Perhaps his share of the misfortune has been
the hardest of all ; he was not there to try to help her."
" I am that man," Mr Leadham replied. " But
my trouble — though great enough, God knows —
is not the most severe portion of this sad affliction.
The gentleman who tried so hard to save her is at
this moment in peril of death from the effects of the
256 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
burns and injuries done to his chest ; and he, poor
fellow ! leaves a betrothed wife."
So the man had heard. Might he advise the gentle-
man to lie down for an hour, and try and not take
on ? What would he like for dinner ? It could be
got ready in an hour, or at any time.
Mr Leadham shook his head at the mention of
refreshment, but added that he would retire to his
room at once. " I expect a friend to call upon me
at eight o'clock this evening." So saying, he walked
wearily up-stairs. Subsequently the manager of the
hotel looked in upon him, and at length prevailed
upon him to swallow a slight repast.
It was nine o'clock when Mr Lascelles was an-
nounced. After the first greetings, he said, " Stephen
La Touche died about an hour ago — it was very sudden
at the last," then he sank into a chair and trembled
from head to foot. He had nerved himself to utter
thus much, and for some moments afterwards the
two men were pale and awe-stricken — the power of
articulation seemed to have entirely deserted them.
It would be hard to conjecture which of the two suf-
fered the more acutely.
At length, with a^ great effort, Mr Leadham roused
himself : it was to inquire for Miss Clavering.
"^he is conscious," replied Mr Lascelles, " and bears
up bravely. The doctors, however, would be more
satisfied as to her state if she could by any means be
brought to shed tears. At present she seems like one
turned to stone."
DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 257
" She was with him ? "
" Yes ; it was a great mercy. The nurse suddenly
saw a very pecuHar change in the patient — it was
that ashy, leaden hue on the features which so often
precedes dissolution — and called out from the room to
Miss Clavering, who, poor thing, had gone to sit on
the stairs for the sake of changing the air. He knew
her, and a few words were interchanged : then he
died, — the best of his name by a very long way. Poor
Stephen ! "
The two gentlemen, after a short silence, nerved
themselves to discuss the necessary details of Miss
" j\Tiss La Touche has told you all concerning this
awful catastrophe," Mr Lascelles said ; " do not think
that I am wanting in sympathy towards you, but I
cannot touch upon the subject, although it is never
out of mv mind — indeed I cannot."
Mr Leadham understood perfectly. To suffer in
silence, to make no plaint by word or sign, is perhaps
the truest mourning for such sorrow as this, even
when the bond of love has not cemented the relations
of the living and the dead : but where the purest and
best of the heart's affections are withered by the blow,
the golden bowl may become o'ercharged with the
ashes of a speechless sorrow, and the pure metal may
suddenly burst into a thousand fragments, because the
waters of sympathy have never been permitted to cast
their healing drops into the cup of woe. It was well for
Mr Leadham that Marcia La Touche had told him all.
VOL. III. R
258 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
He had struggled, and tried to harden himself; but
kind nature had been more powerful than he, and in his
lonely hours he had experienced the blessed relief of
tears. Oh, ye tears ! the Man of Sorrows despised
you not. He wept over the grave of His dead friend.
Oh, ye tears ! how many hearts have you saved from
It was arranged that ]\Iiss Dare's obsequies should
take place in the afternoon of the following day, at
Kensal Green Cemetry. A telegram had been received,
stating that the eldest brother of the deceased lady
would be in London at a very early hour the next
"Mr La Touche's friends are mostly in or near
London," Mr Lascelles said. " There has not been
time to arrange whether Mr La Touche's remains
will be sent to his eldest brother's house in town,
or to the family mansion in the country where the
old man now lives. I sent a note to the brother
before I came to you — he's a queer fish, and I don't
want to have much to do with him, either on business
or in any other way. However, I must not think
of my own preferences just now. I am thankful
that this awful affair keeps me thoroughly occupied :
without this, I really think I should go mad."
Percival happened to be finishing an unusually late
dinner when Mr Lascelles's communication was put
into his hands. Hitherto he had believed, or affected
to believe, that Marcia's report of their brother's dan-
gerous state was exaggerated ; and as for the opinion
DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 259
of the doctors, Percival detested the whole race of
them, and was quite sincere in the belief that very
few of this confraternity knew as much about medicine
as he did himself. It must be stated, in justice to Mr
La Touche, that he had resolved to go in the brougham
which had been ordered to fetch his aunt from Bourne-
mouth Gardens at ten o'clock that evening, and thus,
under cover of this relative, to make inquiry for
Stephen, and do the proper thing. Being convinced
that this arrangement would not compromise him in
any one way, and that all would end well, the intel-
ligence conveyed in Mr Lascelles's note fell like a
thunderbolt on Percival's sense. In a moment all
his unkindness and paltry trickery, and the under-
hand dealing he had employed against his dead
brother, rose in array before him, — this equivoca-
tion, that evil-speaking, the other absolute falsehood.
Had he seen handwriting on the wall, he could
not have been more surprised or taken aback : the
quick subtle temperament with which he was natur-
ally endowed was the agent which now saved him
from actual confusion and prostration, and he at
once sought refuge from the reproaches of his con-
science in vicjorous action.
Scarcely had he mastered the contents of Mr Las-
celles's letter than he rang the bell, countermanded
the carriage, and ordered a cab to be at the door at
once. He elicited further particulars from the mes-
senger who had been sent with his letter.
Mr Lascelles had just returned from the Great
260 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Western Hotel when Percival was announced. He
received Mr La Touche with cold civility, but ex-
tended no further courtesy.
This Percival affected not to perceive, but took
refuge in rapid speech and the appearance of violent
haste. Notwithstanding his efforts to treat the cir-
cumstance as a business matter, he was evidently
very nervous, and in spite of himself his voice became
broken, and his sentences indistinct and confused.
" I had no idea it would be — be so fatal," he said
at length, looking hard at an ottoman as the words
fell from him. " Thought the thing serious, but not
dangerous — not very dangerous. I've come for my
aunt — is she bearing up ? I conclude a doctor is in
the house — there ought to be one."
"Dr Williams of Yarneshire was here, and left
about half an hour after your brother expired," replied
Mr Lascelles. " I told you in my note that the end
was very sudden ; in fact, the favourable turn which
took place a few hours previously led the doctors to
think that the patient would have struggled for some
" Ah ! then it is not to be wondered at that I did
not take alarm earlier : my aunt is so liable to exag-
gerate illness, that I really did not credit all her
reports," Percival said.
" It would have been better if you had," Mr Las-
celles returned gruffly, for he was a plain straight-
forward man, and Percival's heartlessness thoroughly
exasperated him. "However, this is not the time
DOAVN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 261
to make remarks," he concluded. " Can I assist you ?
Have you formed any plan for the last arrange-
ments ? "
"The remams shall be removed to Wheatley to-
morrow, if possible," Percival made answer, after a
moment's reflection. " I will send a messenger to my
youngest brother, who is there, and he will break the
tidings to my father. Do you propose being present
at the funeral ? "
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH.
As this was put as a question, and did not even imply
an invitation, Mr Lascelles felt at first inclined to
repudiate any such intention. A moment's reflection,
however, decided him.
" I will attend your brother's funeral," he replied,
after a slight pause, " not only on account of the high
respect with which I regarded him, but also for the
sympathy which I entertain towards Miss Clavering."
" She does not intend to be present ? " said Percival,
startled by the sound of Willina's name into speaking
in a tone which betrayed disapprobation if not some
dread. " I am aware that it is beginning to be fashion-
able for ladies to attend funerals," he continued, as he
observed disgust depicted on the face of Mr Lascelles ;
" but as Miss Clavering is no relation, she will not,
of course, attempt to attend my brother's funeral."
Mr Lascelles undertook to assure Mr La Touche
that he need not fear any intrusion on the part of
Willina. " Your late brother's betrothed wife will be
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH. 263
represented by me," he replied, — "the most fit and
proper person under the circumstances, seeing that
dear Stephen passed out of life under my roof, and
Miss Clavering is at this moment the guest of Mrs
Lascelles. You may perhaps wish to see your aunt,"
he continued, " and I think your undertaker should
call upon me to-morrow, or the day after : there were
those present on the evening of the catastrophe who
have intimated their wish to attend their dead friend
to the grave."
" I don't know who these can be," exclaimed Perci-
val, sharply ; " we don't want a procession, — it would
increase the expense very considerably, don't you
see ? "
" I would recommend you to invite the friends to
whom I allude," returned Mr Lascelles, ignoring the
latter part of Percival's speech. "Their names and
addresses can be given either to the undertaker or to
any person whom you may depute to represent you in
this matter. Here is Miss La Touche ; pray consult
her wishes in any arrangements you may have to
make." So saying, Mr Lascelles left the room.
Marcia entered, tear-stained, and in that fade, con-
dition of toilet which militates disastrously against the
personal appearance of any woman past the age of thirty.
Her eyes were swollen, and her hair was disarranged
to a state of absolute dishevelment ; the tones of her
voice also betrayed her utter weakness and exhaustion.
Her grief, deep and sincere as it was, did not raise
her in the estimation of her nephew ; indeed the spec-
264 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
tacle which she presented, if it did not harden his
heart, certainly contributed very greatly to harden his
" Now, no scene," said he ; " what's happened can't
be helped, but there is no use in crying over spilt
milk. I intend to do everything that is right; but
you know, Marcia, I cannot pretend to be very sorry,
and I won't."
" Oh, Percival, be kind to me," gasped the poor
woman. " He was your own brother, and he forgave
you ; do not, I implore you, carry animosity beyond
" No, no," answered Percival ; " all I want to make
you understand is, that I absolutely decline to be
taken to see the — the remains, and to be preached
to, and all that kind of thing."
" I would like to believe that you say this because
your conscience reproaches you," Miss La Touche re-
plied. " Come, Percival, you cannot be so hard-
hearted as you wish me to think. You must know
that neither you nor I behaved to the poor fellow as
we ought to have done."
" Are you coming home now, or are you not ? " in-
quired her nephew in a sharp tone ; " the cab that
brought me here is waiting."
Still in the hope of softening him, Marcia acceded
at once. " Let me just say to Mrs Lascelles and Wil-
lina Clavering that I will come for an hour in the
morning. I want a night's rest, for I feel sadly
A STEP TWIXT LIFE AND DEATH. 265
" You do look an object, and no mistake," returned
the nephew, brutally. " Look sharp, for I did not
time the cabman, and, goodness knows, the fare he
will demand will be heavy enough. These fellows
are always ready to take advantage when they can."
(Wliich, by the way, is not true ; no race is so merci-
lessly calumniated as are London cabmen : it is upon
them that the petty meannesses of travelling humanity
are ruthlessly poured, and more especially those of
female humanity. People who deny themselves in
nothing, whether of dress or amusement, are often
penurious to dishonesty in the matter of cab fares.)
Miss La Touche reached her own room with thank-
fulness, having extorted a promise from her nephew
that he would go down to Wheatley early in the
Although sleep was out of the question, Marcia was
wonderfully refreshed by the solitude, and also by the
comfort of a leisurely toilet. She was careful to be
in time to preside at the breakfast-table in the morn-
ing; and though Percival seized the opportunity to
complain of the cook, and grumble at the gas-bill, and
abuse the food, he preserved on the whole a decent
demeanour, and spoke with some degree of reverence
regarding the business before him.
Marcia was anxious to know how her brother would
bear the news, and as her nephew appeared to be
somewhat subdued in spirit, she ventured to request
him to send her a telegram to Bournemouth Gardens.
She valiantly declared that she intended to betake
266 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
herself to Mr Lascelles's house as soon as possible after
she had attended to her home duties.
It was a great relief to Miss La Touche when her
nephew, after fidgeting about and ordering and coun-
termanding, finally took himself off to the railway
station for Wheatley.
She, however, waited prudently in the house for a
full hour, as Percival was one of those persons of
whose movements nobody could ever be quite sure.
Even on this solemn occasion he would have had no
compunction in returning suddenly, if he thought his
sudden reappearance would surprise or annoy the
Persons of a like calibre have a proclivity for in-
flicting small tyrannies : the only comfort is, that these
do not occur when they run counter to the plans of
the individual so offending. Marcia, therefore, felt
Later in the day the remains of poor Miss Dare
were consigned to their last resting-place in Kensal
Green. Then there only needed to make arrangements
for the obsequies of Stephen La Touche.
Many inquiries and cards of condolence were left
both at Bournemouth Gardens and at Hinton Square.
Among the latter was a letter which Lord Hieover,
who had called to inquire for Willina, had requested
Mr Lascelles to forward to Wheatley.
It was addressed to the elder Mr La Touche, and
bore the intimation that the Viscount would be glad
to attend the funeral of his son Stephen in the ca-
A STEP TWIXT LIFE AND DEATH. 267
pacity of a sincere friend both of the deceased and of
Miss Clavering. Information was requested as to the
day and the hour of interment.
His lordship further added that his carriage and
servants would travel down by train, as soon as the
fitting time could be ascertained.
The old gentleman perused the missive with some
degree of elation. Things had certainly not been
always pleasant during the lifetime of his son ; still, a
peer was a peer, and a Viscount at the funeral would
atone for a multitude of sins on the part of the
Percival, on being consulted, swore that the Viscount
should not attend. " It was only a way of taking part
with Miss Clavering," he said, " which, at such a time,
was highly reprehensible ; besides, Lord Hieover had
never called at Hinton Square."
" You forget ; Stephen stayed at Hieover more than
once," said his father. " The Viscount evidently wishes
to show some sympathy ; besides, he was your brother's
friend. We used poor Stephen hardly : I am sorry,
very sorry, and I cannot repel any one who wishes to
pay respect to his memory." Then the old man bowed
his head on his hands and mourned — mourned, per-
haps, as much for the errors of the living as for the
loss of the dead.
Percival was beginning to rouse his father by re-
marks upon a totally different subject, with the view
of distracting his attention ; but his endeavours were
quenched by the entrance of Mrs La Touche.
268 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" Don't you torment your father I " said she, looking
Percival steadily in the face. " The Viscount is com-
ing to the funeral, and whoever else is invited or
chooses to come. Me and Andrew have made out a
list, and I shall have a man down from London to see
that everything is done ship-shape — for, of course,
there will be a proper breakfast."
Percival saw that his mother-in-law held Lord Hie-
over's letter in her hand, and convinced himself, more-
over, that the attitude of Mrs La Touche was very
much the attitude of one who intended to take her
own way. He stood silent, and regarded her with an
amazement which was voiceless.
" Now, about chief mourner," said she, — " that's your
father's business and his duty, and your place, Mr
Percival, is to give him your arm and support him.
If you prefer it, I will go with my husband. I am
strong, and he can lean upon me ; and you can stand
at the foot of the grave, side by side with Andrew."
Percival made no reply, but contented himself by
staring at Mrs La Touche, who, perfectly unconscious
of his notice, proceeded to deliver the rest of her
" There's Mr M'Taggart, by the by ; his place as a
cousin must be selected."
" Have you invited him ? " inquired Percival, aghast,
as he perceived that the arrangements he had intended
to make were in a great measure anticipated, and
that Mrs La Touche was quite ready to put in an
appearance as semi-chief mourner in the event of any
A STEP TAVIXT LIFE AND DEATH. 269
recalcitrant action on the part of Percival, either in
regard to the attendance or to the bidding of the
" I don't want to interfere with you, Mrs La Touche,"
Percival said at length, and rather crossly, — " you are
dominant here : but as I have had all the trouble in
London, I am certainly entitled to assert my opinion
about the attendance of the mourners. Lord Hie-
over is the only one to whom I take exception, and I
must say that I hold his offering to be present as a
very great piece of impertinence." He looked quite
triumphant at having, as he thought, snuffed out a
" Well, he is to come nevertheless," Mrs La Touche
replied. '■ Any one, be he peer or peasant, that was a
friend of Stephen's is welcome here, especially when
they come to show respect, as is now the case. You
had better take some luncheon now, and return to
London by the 3.30 train. Of course the Lascelles
people would wish the removal to take place as soon
as possible. Poor things ! they have had a load of
sorrow. By the by, you must see the undertaker, and
tell him that the funeral will take place here on
Saturday morning at eleven o'clock."
" Have you any more orders ? " demanded Percival,
in a tone of high sarcasm.
" None at present — I think I have thought of every-
thing," Mrs La Touche answered, en grand serieiox ;
for her heart was heavy, and she had scarcely regarded
the tone of Percival's inquiry.
270 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Her fixed intention and wish was, that all should
be done with due decorum, avoiding both stint or
lavish display, and that the old father should take
pride in evincing the last respect to the memory of
his son. The latter had not been treated with kind-
ness, it was true ; but there was no one of his children
whom, in his heart of hearts, the old man held in
greater esteem than he did his son Stephen. All this
Mrs La Touche knew; there could be no hypocrisy
therefore in conducting his funeral rites with all
What need to dwell on the sombre ceremony ?
They carried him out and buried him at the ap-
pointed time ; and then there came the turmoil of
business, and all the painful duties which must be
performed when one has departed from his place for
evermore. Fortunate it was for Willina that she had
a home in London ; most unfortunate would it have
been in her sight had the Glascotts arrived, and she
had been living in her guardian's house : she felt that
she could not now breathe under the same roof with
her guardian's wife.
In spite of herself, the opinion was constantly with
her that had Lillian exerted her influence with her
husband, she would long ago have been a happy mar-
ried woman. Instinctively she was convinced that
Mrs Glascott had destroyed her happiness ; instinc-
tively she felt persuaded that it was with cold, mali-
cious intent that she had done so ; instinctively she
saw the subdued gleam of triumph in that woman's
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH. 271
eye, when she should have learned that, by the order-
ing of the higher irresistible will, Willina Clavering
could never now marry Stephen La Touche.
" No, no," she said to Peggy ; " let me see Cousin
Everard when he comes, but spare me the sight of his
wife. There are more reasons than I care to speak of
which make me shudder at the idea of seeincf Lillian
Olascott — spare me that, at least just now."
These words were impressive at the time, for Willina
had ever, with cautious prudence, refrained from mak-
ing the slightest remark which might militate against
Mrs Glascott's position as her cousin's wife. None
knew, and none recognised more readily than herself,
how delicate, under the best of circumstances, is the
position of a young and handsome woman, the years
of whose spouse number those of her own father.
Consideration also for Mary Clavering, and natural
affection for her brother, had made her unusually care-
ful lest even a hint should escape her that she was
dubious of the loyalty of Francis towards his wife.
Strangely enough, the feelings of distrust which had
naturally been awakened by the scene which she had
witnessed at Tring returned in full force now. The
flood of sorrow seemed, as it were, to sweep each weed
and tare of evil which choke the everyday life to the
surface, there to lie and grow rank, and cast its bitter
influence on the present suffering, far more persistently,
and much more grievously, than upon the past ex-
Wrestle with her spirit as Willina would and did,
272 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
the idea was ever present with her that Lillian Glas-
cott was her ill-concealed foe — that she was even then
exulting in her distress. Her woman's magnetic in-
stinct made this as clear to her as was the sun that
was shining in the heavens.
How piteous was it for those who loved her to see
her in her misery ! Speechless, apathetic, almost blind,
at one phase ; at another, restless, helpful as ever, and
giving way to sharp laughter, which, though natural in
one sense, was as the grind of the wheel of that mill of
sorrow through which she was passing.
Peggy at this sound would fly to her own room, and
throw her hands upwards towards heaven, and cry
bitterly. " Anything, anything but that," she said to
the doctor, in her warm sympathy. " Oh ! what can
we do, what shall we do, to make her shed tears ? "
Then came a phase when Willina sat motionless al-
most for hours, her eyes fixed intently, with that " far-
away " look, which marks those who have gone through
— or even those who foresee — some great tribulation,
upon her careworn face.
This caused the physician greater anxiety. "We
must make her weep," he said. " If she could be once
made to shed tears, I should have every hope of bring-
ing her round : as it is, the state of my patient is so
grave that, if this continues, I cannot answer for the
All means, both direct and indirect, were tried ; even
the presence of Mary Clavering had but the result of
bringinof a wan smile to the sufferer's face. It was a
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH. 273
point gained, however, that she retained her sister-in-
law's hand, and inquired about the infant. Peggy,
now, was almost ready to weep from jealousy.
Mr Glascott had been admitted to see his cousin,
but his visit produced neither satisfaction nor antip-
athy. Willina met him courteously, and even spoke
of Stephen, but all in so impassive a manner that it
was impossible for Cousin Everard to satisfy himself
whether his presence had been welcome or otherwise.
He was inexpressibly shocked as he scanned Willina's
altered features, and heard the sharp snapping laugh ;
but his distress reached its climax when, in spite of
sundry grimaces from Peggy, he proposed to bring Mrs
Glascott to visit her the next day.
Then Willina rose to her feet and uttered a loud
scream — a scream so full of terror, that Mr Glascott
recoiled in alarm. " What, Willina ! " he said, sooth-
ingly, " won't you see Lillian ? We have come from
Brydone expressly to induce you to return there with
us. You know it will be our study to nurse and com-
" Be quiet, Mr Glascott," said Peggy, in a side tone.
" Don't you see the subject is — is not welcome ? "
But Mr Glascott did not see. In his blind adoration
of his wife, he could not realise that his ward, or any
other human creature, could repulse any attention
coming from Lillian.
What he might have said in addition, it is impos-
sible even to conjecture ; but Willina suddenly put an
end to further overtures by saying, in a quiet slow
VOL. III. S
274 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
tone, " I will never put my foot in Brydone more.
Cousin Everarcl, I am glad to see you ; but I am not
well — Mary " and with her sister's name on her
lips, Willina Clavering, for the first time since the
disaster, sank into long and deep unconsciousness.
How Mrs Leppell got Mr Glascott away, and how
she managed to soothe him into the belief that misery
had so undermined Willina's sense that she was hardly
responsible for her words, she never could exactly tell.
It was sad to see the distress of the old gentleman.
" But, sure," remarked Peggy, in true Hibernian style,
" he ought to have thought of that before."
A month passed, and no change took place in Wil-
lina's state. Uncle Alick, by Mary's express desire,
came to see her, and, much to his gratification, she re-
minded him of the kindness that had prompted him to
lend Hieover Grange for the honeymoon. "We are
both very grateful," the poor girl said. "You don't
see Mr La Touche at present, but he has been here ;
he tells me that he is very happy, and they know in
heaven that he was never likely to be mad."
Thus, in a confused state of past memory and future
hope, Willina Clavering's darkened day was passed.
" Would you like to come back with me to Tring ? "
said Mary one morning to her sister. " Frank would
be so pleased if you will come ; and Uncle Alick — you
like him — he will travel with us, and bring his ser-
vant. You were always fond of Tring."
" Is Frank to be at home ? "
"Yes; he has made arrangements which will dis-
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH. 275
pense with the necessity of lecturing just now. He
may have to go to see some German professor in a
month's time ; but even then he would not be long
away. Do come."
" I ought to go to Dunlashoe," said Willina, — " there
is a good deal to be done there. Peggy says this
house is to be given up next week. Marmaduke was
obliged to leave, you know. Let me go to Dunlashoe ;
he was often there. I will come to you when Francis
goes to the German professor." Then she relapsed
into her silent torpid state, a true embodiment of grief.
Sorrow can speak, but intense grief is dumb, eating it-
self into the heart, and sapping the foundations of life.
" Do not thwart her wishes, or advise her to change
this plan," said the physician, as Mrs Clavering com-
municated this resolve to him ; " it is rather a point
gained that your sister has so far exerted herself as to
show a preference. It is very possible that the return
home may awaken an interest in passing events ; and
as she has expressed this wish, do not delay in taking
her to Dunlashoe as soon as possible."
This good physician had been one of those called in
at the time of poor Stephen's mortal agony. He was
consequently much interested in the case throughout ;
but he shook his head doubtfully as he looked at
Willina. JSTot one tear had she yet shed, her voice
had not been heard to quiver with emotion : how long-
was that high-strung state of the nerves to last ?
Mrs Clavering returned to her home, not even
yielding to the temptation of passing a few days at
276 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Hunter's Lodge. She was comforted by the kindness
of her uncle, who had thoughtfully sent his servant to
Ireland with Peggy and Willina.
" Now, do you make haste and get well," he said to
the latter, as he placed the ladies on board the steamer.
" I shall soon come and visit you, and you know you
promised to take care of all the guns I left behind
me. Please to see that they have not gone rusty : now
Quinn is with you, let him overhaul the whole lot."
Willina tried to smile, but she thanked him for
all his kindness. "You have been very good to us
both," said she. " God bless you ! I am glad you are
going to Tring."
" The truth is, Mary," said the Viscount to his niece,
as he returned to the carriage, "I thought of going
with them ; but the sight of that girl's stricken face
and her quiet resignation is too much for me. I
could not stand it. I am sure those two fools who
delayed this marriage must, by this time, repent their
" Mr Glascott is sorely grieved. You see Willina
made no sign, and asked no favours ; and it must be
admitted that her guardian acted with right intention,
and had some tanoible reasons for refusing his consent.
When the time had expired, Mr Glascott redeemed his
promise ; but Mr La Touche held out, to punish his
son, it has been said, for inheriting some money from
"Glascott went to see Willina, did he not?" in-
quired the Viscount.
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH. 277
" He went twice ; but his visits did not seem to be
very acceptable. When he spoke of bringing his wife,
it seems WilHna was roused to great animosity, — so
much so, that Mrs Leppell had to entreat him to keep
Mrs Glascott away from the house."
"There is something about Lillian that I cannot
like," said Lord Hieover presently. " I know she is
your friend, Mary, and I don't want to hurt your
feelings ; but there is something so secret and heartless
about her, and, what is more provoking, perhaps," con-
tinued Uncle Alick with a strange smile, "there is
nothing actually to complain of regarding her. She
respects the — what the French call fine work "
'' Les convenances^ I suppose you mean," answered
Mrs Clavering, helping her uncle out.
" Exactly — les congvenances of life ; is attentive and
kind to her husband ; keeps a good house, and keeps
her own counsel. I don't like such characters : when
young people are so unnaturally guarded and reticent,
they break out in later years. Mrs Lillian will do so,
I could bet a good round sum."
" Lillian is reserved," said Mary, whose faith in her
friend was yet scarcely shaken ; " but she never speaks
against any one."
"But if she does not speak against persons, I am
very sure she can act against them, and that Willina
knows it," replied Uncle Alick, with a knowing look.
" She is very much liked and admired, is Lillian,"
Mrs Clavering answered ; " indeed I have heard her
spoken of as being a very sweet woman."
278 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
"Sweet woman, be hanged !" retorted Lord Hieover,
getting nettled at the persistence of his niece. " I tell
you what she is like — that French cream thing that
looks very nice and cool outside, — something like
" Meringue, do you mean, Uncle Alick ? but merin-
gues are very sweet, you know."
" Yes, my dear ; but there are meringues and mer-
ingues, and Mrs Lillian is like one of the sort that
has a good drop of pungent liquor concealed within its
folds of froth. Mind, too — don't let that boy of yours
stay too long down at Brydone, or she will be usurping
your place v/ith him altogether."
Mary sighed-; and, as if she did not care to discuss
this topic, she turned to the subject of Willina Claver-
ing. " It seems so dreadful," said she, " that not one
tear has she shed since that awful catastrophe of the
" They have got a doctor somewhere near them at
Dunlashoe, but he is half his time scouring the
country-side," said Lord Hieover ; " when he has no-
thing to do, he goes out shooting for days. I suppose
Marmaduke will take care that he is tied to his post ;
and I know the London doctor has written to him,
and given Peggy written instructions also."
It was truly an anxious time for those who were
interested in Willina Clavering. She reached Dun-
lashoe in safety, and for a short time she seemed to
rally, and to return to her old pursuits with some
degree of energy. This only lasted for a while. Her
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH. 279
favourite occupation was to select some lonely moor,
and there sit with her dog at her feet, silent and ap-
parently absorbed in thought. The peasants, as they
passed to and fro, would give her the kindly " God save
you ! " but she would merely acknowledge the salute in
her courteous way, and let them pass on. It is a
terrible sight to see a heart thus breaking without
either word or sign.
At length the crisis came, and it came much more
suddenly than was looked for. Until now Willina had
resolutely refused to remain in bed, or even to lie
down for an hour during the day, and she had also
most pertinaciously rejected all indulgences which
might lead to the supposition that she was an invalid.
One morning she found she could not rise, and at
length she admitted that she was very ill, and, of
her own accord, requested that the doctor should be
sent for. Most fortunately, also, Colin M'Taggart
had managed to come to pay a long -promised visit
to Dunlashoe, and his ready aid and solid common-
sense were most valuable in the household at that
Some hours afterwards all the symptoms of decided
low fever were apparent, alternating with fainting-
fits, and occasionally slight delirium. At the end of
the third day, late at night, Peggy, who had thought
the patient to be sleeping, and who had risen to call
the servant whose turn it was to watch, was surprised
to see a blue-grey shade on Willina's face, and further,
to find that the nostrils were blue and pinched in
280 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
appearance : the half-closed mouth, also, showing both
rows of teeth, was an alarming sign.
Mrs Leppell sent the servant down for help, and
Colin, who was in the house, went to her assistance.
He immediately summoned the doctor, and used
every effort to soothe his hostess and to endeavour
to restore life to the patient by constantly chafing her
hands, and also by pouring, or trying to pour, a little
brandy down the throat. This last it was impossible
to do, and Colin was compelled to relinquish his idea
that her state was that of suspended animation only.
He, however, made no remark to this effect, but
waited in the greatest anxiety to hear what the
doctor's verdict would be.
This did not take long to discover. After using the
various methods prescribed by his art to reanimate
the patient, Mr Kelly was compelled to state that
further efforts would be vain. Miss Clavering had
died in her sleep, probably within the hour. " He was
not much surprised," he said ; " there was little re-
actionary power, and it had appeared to him that the
lady had never made an effort to secure recovery : he
could see that she had gone through a great amount of
mental suffering. What could he do ? he would assist
them in every way."
Mrs Leppell felt sure of that. Thanking him, she
begged Mr Kelly to find her husband quickly and send
him to the house.
Colin only awaited advice and instruction before
sending off telegrams and letters. These two threw
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH. 281
themselves immediately into work, in order not to
break down utterly ; but their hearts were sore, and
it could hardly be otherwise than that they should
look upon this calamity as a dispensation at once
mysterious and inexplicable.
" She kept innocency, and took heed to the thing
that was right, and that has brought her peace at the
last," said Colin, quoting the Psalmist of old.
" True," said Mrs Leppell, — " peace for her ; but oh !
what desolation for us ! Dear Willina, sweet helpful
soul ! " and then Peggy's full heart relieved its pain
with a burst of tears.
The usual sad business of arranging the funeral and
settling the form and place of burial was carried out ;
and as the interment was to take place in the parish
church at Tring, where Mr Glascott's vault lay, a
speedy removal of the remains was imperative. Mr
Clavering, as it happened, was out with an exploring
geological society somewhere in the Highlands, Mr
Glascott was confined to his bed by serious illness,
and it was at first probable that the great responsi-
bility of conveying the body to England would devolve
upon Marmaduke Leppell and Colin M'Taggart.
Assistance, however, arrived from a very unex-
pected quarter, and that was in the intimation of
Uncle Alick by telegram that he would be at Dun-
lashoe as early as possible, and that it was his earnest
wish to behold Miss Clavering once more before the
last arrangements were completed which would close
her away for ever from human sight. This gave much
282 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
comfort to the saddened hearts in the Irish home,
mingled perhaps with some surprise that the Viscount
should undertake a responsibility which was by no
means incumbent upon him as a matter of duty ; but
naturally, like all the rest of her friends, he admired
and respected their dear Willina.
Lord Hieover arrived at the appointed time, and,
after taking some rest, he was conducted into the
room wherein lay the remains of the woman who had
been to him as a shining light — a noble example of
feminine obedience, patience combined with a judi-
cious courage. He had evidently put a strong check
upon himself, and summoned all his manhood to
enable him to bear the sight of Willina lying dead in
her coffin, after the long struggle she had so well
borne in the battle of life.
" All futile, all useless," he exclaimed aloud, as he
looked at the pale still face. *' Oh, why is it that the
young and the best among us are ever taken away
"It is by the great mercy of God," said Colin
M'Taggart, who stood side by side with the Viscount,
and whom the great leveller. Death, had made bold.
" Think you, my lord, that we should be standing so
heart-stricken and sorrowful here had that dear lady
been a worldly hollow creature, with no purpose but
to wear fine raiment and cackle vanities ? It is best
that the Lord does not leave us to our own judgment :
He knows more safely whom to spare and whom to
A STEP TWIXT LIFE AND DEATH. 283
The Viscount nodded assent, and looked for a
moment askance at Colin, whose face glowed with the
faith and trust which his words implied. Then he
turned, and, stooping downwards, he looked intently
into Willina's face.
His gaze was so intent that Colin wondered if he
were seeking some likeness, or if the change in the
features of the dead was so great as to incite this fixed
Suddenly a great cry of amazement, mingled with
joy, burst from the Viscount's lips. Eaising his arms
above his head, he exclaimed, " She is not dead ! she is
not dead ! " And again, almost in the grand old words
of Scripture, he repeated, " She is not dead, but sleep-
eth. Friends, this is but a trance ; help me to lift
her out of that frightful coffin," he continued, looking
round for aid, " lest she wake and die of horror to find
herself thus dressed for the grave. There is not a
moment to lose. Look ! she is not dead ! "
The heightened sound of Lord Hieover's voice in
which he made this appeal brought others into the
room, each looking inquiringly at the speaker, and
helplessly one at the other. Colin ventured to lay his
hand on the Viscount's arm. " Look," he said, direct-
ing attention towards the coffin, with its immovable
figure, " she does not stir ; there is no change, no
motion. Oh, man, do ye not know that if life were in
her, the slightest whisper of the voices of her friends
would call her back to consciousness ? No, no — it is His
will ; she cannot return to us. Can we even wish it ? "
284 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
" I know what you think, but you are too kind to
say it. You think that the hurried travel, and the
shock of this, has excited me, — that I am half crazed
for the moment. Wait and see. Do none of you
stir; trust me for only a few minutes of time."
All were so touched by the unwonted pathos of his
tone as he besought their forbearance, that Marma-
duke, speaking for all present, said, " We all trust you,
Uncle Alick, and we will do whatever you wish."
In thus replying, Duke imagined that an interval of
silence would enable his uncle to recover from the
shock, and with this impression he turned away,
making a sign to the others to leave the Viscount
awhile with the dead. They retired in a group to the
farther end of the room.
A fire was burning in the outer room, and the heat
from the kindled turf and coal penetrated to the
threshold of the death- chamber. It was the work
of a moment for Lord Hieover to stride forward, seize
the poker, and thrust it deep into the white glow of
the fuel. Utterly ignorant of what his uncle intended
by this movement, Marmaduke stepped forward, and
almost laid a detaining grasp on his arm.
" Do not imagine that I am going to do myself an
injury," said Lord Hieover, interpreting the action ;
" be still, and leave me free to act. It is a fearful
trial ; but I feel that I am right — yes, quite justified
in saving life. But don't speak."
The poker had become heated to the utmost inten-
sity ; and then, with a firm careful hand, Lord Hieover
A STEP 'TWIXT life AND DEATH. 285
drew it from the fire and blew upon the iron, thus
dispersing any dust or cinder that might have become
attached to it. He then called Mrs Leppell.
" Will you lift up the shroud at the feet ? " he said,
"just to the ankles — or one foot will do. Be quick,
for there is not a moment to be lost."
Peggy did so ; and then the Viscount, nearly as pale
as the corpse itself, applied the searing-iron to the
sole of the left foot. A moment — no sign ; again
another application — there was a shiver — a painful
attempt to rise ; and then Willina Clavering drew
up her foot, and uttered an audible moan of pain.
" I knew it — I said it," gasped the Viscount. "
Lord ! have mercy upon us ! she has returned from
the grave. Willina "
This was the supreme effort. Lord Hieover fell to
the ground in a deep swoon, at the same moment as
Willina opened her eyes and called feebly upon
THE JOY OF THE MORNING.
The return of Miss Clavering to consciousness was,
fortunately, so partial and so fitful, that ample time
was gained in which the outward signs of what had
taken place could be entirely removed and obliterated.
Many hours passed away under the greatest anxiety
on the part of the doctor and the household at Dun-
lashoe ; and a telegram had been despatched to Dublin
to summon further medical aid. Two days and nights,
however, elapsed before the physicians could assert
that the patient was out of actual danger, or that she
evinced symptoms of recovery which could be regarded
The extraordinary circumstance of the trance was
naturally bruited abroad in all directions ; and unfor-
tunate Colin filled the post of door-keeper, answering
inquiries almost from morning till night.
The case was reported in a medical journal; and
scientists thereupon set to work to discover some
absolute and infallible test by which the difference
THE JOY OF THE MOENING. 287
betwixt real death and apparent death should be
Francis Clavering studied the cases recorded of the
times of Hippocrates, Galen, Democritus, Pliny, and
other ancients of authority. Turning to modern
times, he found it declared that not even putrefaction
is entirely a test for decision upon this point ; and he
discovered, in a work entitled ' Mort reelle et Mort
apparente,' published at Paris in 1858, how very con-
flicting and unsatisfactory scientific opinion has in all
ages been on this mysterious phenomenon of nature
which we call trance.
Perhaps the gravest necessity for further knowledge
of the subject is to ascertain how much or how little
is a patient who has once suffered actual trance liable
to be afflicted by a return of the disaster — for disaster
it must be called, involving, as trance does, the risk
of living interment. Miss Clavering, through the
energy and perspicacity of Lord Hieover, had esca^^ed
the latter catastrophe ; and it was at the time incum-
bent upon those around her to abandon abstruse
theories, and devote all their attention to bringing
the patient to health, both of mind and body.
And the great healer Time was merciful and propi-
tious also. Willina recovered completely ; and, partly
to escape the comment and observation of which she
was necessarily the object, more or less, she went
abroad, making her resting-place under the roof of
the gentle sisterhood wherein she had received the
latter part of her education, together with the training
288 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
which had so marvellously carried her through the
trials of her early life.
Mr Glascott recovered from the illness, which had
been in a great measure induced by his distress of
mind at the time of the death of Stephen La
Thus two years passed away ; and one fine afternoon
in June Miss Claverinoj found herself walking on the
green turf at Tring, guiding the steps of her brother's
youngest boy, and trying at the same time to make
her companion, Lord Hieover, acknowledge that the
" small party," as it was called, was a pretty intelli-
" Yes, if you say so," returned he, with true mascu-
line contempt of infants (not his own). " Very lovely ;
only mind, I never can see the least difference in any
of 'em : to me they are all very much alike at that
age. Of course I prefer the ones that don't squall."
They chatted with the freedom of old friendship,
for Willina had long known how deeply she was
indebted to Lord Hieover.
It had been decreed soon after Miss Clavering's
illness that she should be kept in complete ignorance
of what had befallen her. Wiser counsel, however,
eventually prevailed, and that counsel emanated
from no less a person than Mrs Canon Braintree.
" Do nothing of the kind," that lady urged on Mrs
Clavering, as the ladies discussed the matter; "no
good ever comes of half-truths and 'bushings up,'
and the like. When she is quite well, tell your
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 289
sister the whole truth. You will wrong her if you do
not; and the chances would remain, that she might
eventually hear this history by some accident, and in
a very distorted way."
Then Mrs Braintree communicated an instance
within her own knowledge, wherein a young girl lost
her reason on being suddenly informed by a stranger
that her birth was illegitimate, — that her parents
never were married. The silence and extreme agita-
tion of the mother when her daughter pressed the
question confirmed the stranger's taunt, and in a
week after that the girl died insane.
The Claverings thought much over this advice, and
they also took the Leppells into consultation. The
result was, that Mrs Braintree's counsel was held good,
and finally adopted : thus Willina was made aware
that she owed her preservation to Viscount Hieover.
She was grateful that her friends had been so ad-
vised ; and it was from Belgium that she wrote in a
frank graceful way, offering her thanks to Lord
Hieover, and acquainting him of her placid life, which
was bringing a return of happiness. He would, she
said, always be joined in her mind with the memory
of Stephen La Touche ; and so from that time letters
had been occasionally interchanged between them.
And now they are walking together, and the infant
has suddenly acquired a vast importance in its grand -
uncle's sight. " It " has turned into a most unex-
ceptionable "gooseberry," and its relative will make
use of it in that capacity.
VOL. III. T
290 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
He rolls it on the grass, and then suddenly turning
to Willina, he opens his heart, and, in a few strong
tender words, acquaints her with the hope which
animates his life.
" It is asking much of you, I know, to hope even
that you will spare a few years of your life to me —
the time cannot be much longer. I have a strong con-
viction that I am not one of those destined to reach
the extremity of age. Still, I beg of you, Willina, and
that with all love and reverence, to become my wife.
I have admired and loved you for many years, — let
me reap some reward at last."
" You have always been generous, very generous to
me," she answered ; " but I, in common honour and
truth, must not conceal from you that the best part
of my heart is buried in the grave of Stephen La
Touche. Still, if gratitude and some affection will
satisfy you "
The Viscount caught at the last words. "Affec-
tion ! " he exclaimed ; " can I be assured that you en-
tertain one single spark of affection for me ? if you
really mean this, I am rewarded beyond my utmost
" I will not retract," she replied, a charming smile
at the same time irradiating her face. " You, who
know so thoroughly the circumstances of my life, will
understand in what sense to apply the word. Uncon-
sciously to myself, perhaps, I have for some time
past turned to you for sympathy and support ; you
befriended me in the matter of my engagement with
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 291
Mr La Touche when every one was against me. I
have never forgotten that, and I have always been
grateful to you."
"Let the remembrance of what you have gone
through lie amongst the things of the past, Willina.
I had my own share of suffering when I witnessed
your deep sorrow and — I must say it — the injustice
you at one time met with. I fancied now and then
that I possessed your confidence ; and where confi-
dence is honestly placed, I think it must in time form
the groundwork of solid affection. Do not mention
OTatitude ; the mere utterance of the word sounds an
unworthy demand upon your friendship."
" I owe my life to you," she replied ; " had it not
been for your courage — your discerning sense — God
knows what horrors might have been my portion : I
shudder when I think of it."
" Well, then, only say one little word : say Yes,
Willina dear, and thus let me know that I have won
a good and honoured wife."
She held out her hand, and the gold of her rich
brown eyes gleamed, like the fair sunshine that brings
a blessing with it, upon his face. " Yes," she said, in a
brave clear tone ; and after the pause of a moment,
she added, " until death do us part."
This was all that was then said between these be-
trothed; for immediately afterwards there fell upon
them that long deep silence in which all the eloquence
and pathos of language is absorbed in the unutterable
workings of the soul — a silence in which the magnetic
292 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
chord of sympathy renders all things clear to the
sense without need of sign or sound.
The subsequent announcement of the engagement
between Lord Hieover and Miss Clavering caused an
unusual amount of " chatterboxation " amongst the
female members of society, and most unmitigated
surprise amongst the denizens of the clubs. The
Viscount had been so long regarded as a non-marry-
ing man, that for years past he had been set down by
all his acquaintances as a confirmed bachelor ; and as
his accession to the title had caused little variation in
his manner of living, society at large had most culpably
neglected to look after his affairs. J^o wonder, then,
that the news was at first received with universal in-
credulity, and in some quarters (and this obtained
mostly amongst those who claimed to know best)
with flat contradiction.
Marmaduke Leppell became furious at the slightest
hint of the matter, and appeared to be seriously ill-
used if any one ventured to think that such a pro-
ceeding was compatible with his uncle's sanity. At the
same time, he was magnanimous enough to add that
if any woman were to oust him, he would rather it
were Willina Clavering than any other in the world.
" She had been awfully kind to Peggy when the twins
died," he declared, " and all through she was a trump."
Major Moffine of the Sydere Club was terribly out-
raged, and buttonholed various members of that in-
stitution with more than his wonted vigour, seeking
information on the subject and finding none.
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 293
It required some amount of dexterity on the part
of the still untrapped to get beyond the Major's reach.
" It was very hard upon him,'' this military gossip
and universal bore complained, — " very hard that this
intelligence should have first reached the ' Sydere '
through the medium of the press. Why, Hieover had
been sitting in that room not a week ago, and he had
not dropped a hint on the subject. Very extra-
ordinary conduct on the part of a member of the
club 1 — very extraordinary ! Don't you agree with
me, Mr Bury ? "
Thus challenged, Mr Bury, who knew, as every
one else did, that Lord Hieover detested Major Mof-
fine, and gave him a wide berth on every occasion,
had nothing for it but to hear the old gentleman's
grievances, carefully avoiding, at the same time, to
come within reach of his tentacles.
"Your friend has really treated you shamefully,"
he exclaimed, after listening with the most exemplary
patience to all kinds of wild surmises. " You know
that it is just like the Hieovers : they marry as it
pleases themselves, and never confide their affairs to
other people, unless it suits their pleasure to do so.
They don't care what any one thinks of them, or of
their ways. Just like them — a wild lot."
A few weeks afterwards a quiet wedding took place
in a London church, at which Willina Clavering,
spinster, became the wife of Alexander, Viscount
Hieover, bachelor. Mr Glascott gave the bride away ;
294 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
but his spouse was not present, she ha\ing found it
convenient just then to pay a visit to her old home
in Yarneshire, the plea of the increasing infirmity of
her father serving as an excuse for her absence on
Mary Clavering did the honours of the cUjeuner a la
fourchette, which took place immediately on the con-
clusion of the ceremony ; and if the feelings of the
majority there present could have been accurately
tested, the result would have shown that the absence
of Mrs Lillian was more a cause of concnratulation
than the reverse.
Willina had no reason to regard Mrs Glascott in
any other light than that of a cold undercurrent of
discord too deep to be discovered, and too sinuous to
be arrested. j\Irs Clavering, on her part, had begun
to find out that Lillian's influence over both her
husband and son was the reverse of satisfactory. In
fact, on the last visit the Glascotts had made to
Tring, Mary had so vigorously resented an interfer-
ence with young Frank, in which Mrs Glascott had
entirely ignored the maternal rights of her hostess,
that the latter had been provoked to intimate
that Mrs Lillian had outstayed her welcome, and
bade her confine her attention to her own affairs. The
consequence of this was, that Mr Clavering thought
proper to be extremely angry ; reproached his wife
for thus insulting her early friend, and, in fact, sup-
ported Mrs Glascott most thoroughly in the whole
business, speaking of tliat lady as the guest whom
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 295
he most delighted to honour, and whom it was a great
breach of hospitality to offend. So it was not to be
wondered at that Mrs Clavering expressed no regret
at the absence of Mr Glascott's wife on Willina's
As there was to be no after-entertainment, this de-
jeuner was remarkably handsome in its appointments,
and several guests were present at it in addition to
those who had attended the ceremony in church.
There was less mutual admiration poured forth at
this feast than is usual at eight-tenths of the marriage-
feasts of the present time. Alexander, Lord Hieover,
looked remarkably well, and in returning thanks to
those present for the honour they had done to his
wife and to himself in drinking their healths, he
delivered a short and so apposite a speech, that it
may well be recorded for the edification of those
whom circumstances rather than inclination have
compelled to marry late in life.
" I need not remind you," said the Viscount, " that,
according to natural precedent, I ought to have
figured as a bridegroom many years ago ; but in some
destinies, that which comes late, however short the
time of its duration may be, is far brighter than that
wdiich we leave behind in youth.
" Lady Hieover and I have climbed the hill of life,
— she by some experiences which lengthen years, and
I in the ordinary course of time ; but we have met on
the summit in the genial sunshine of a glorious
autumn day. We have elected to descend this hill
296 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
hand in hand ; and as we near its base, even when
death shall have come to take the one and leave the
other, we hope to look back kindly and reverently on
the past, and sing with that cheery poet, who writes
as he rides, straight and fair —
" ' We are growing old, — oh, the mom was bright,
And rich was the noontide ray ;
But the sunset hour, with its fading light.
Is the sweet of the summer day.'"
There was a moment's silence, and then followed
much applause at the conclusion of the Viscount's
" Only fancy. Uncle Alick reading poetry, remem-
bering it, and then quoting it correctly afterwards ! "
quoth Marmaduke Leppell to his neighbour. " I, for
one, should never have believed him capable of doing
anything of the kind."
" Woman's influence, you know," replied one, who
had marked how much more softened Marmaduke
himself had become of late years. "Allowing for
fine speeches, there is nothing after all like a good
" Agreed," answered Duke readily. " Had it not been
for my own wife, I should have this day been welter-
ing in envy, hatred, and all uncharitableness at home,
instead of being very jolly here."
" You were against the match at first, I heard," re-
turned the friend. " Nobody wondered at that, as you
are the next heir, — it was quite natural."
" True ; I certainly did not like it at first, but it is
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 297
quite as well. Peggy wouldn't do for rank, and,
thank goodness, she don't care for it. If we had a son,
it would be different, — duty, you know, and the kid's
interests, and all that. As it is, the present lady is
the right person in all ways for the position. She has
been awfully nice about the whole matter, and always
so kind to Peggy and to me ; and she manages old
Alick splendidly. Mark my words, the golden age is
setting in for all the Hieovers."
" That's a mercy," declared the friend.
" Yes ; you can't change the spots on the leopard, but
old age tones 'em down. Uncle Alick will fight for a
sixpence to the end of his life ; but he will give away
pounds now he has got her ladyship to put the proper
thing into his head."
So opining, Duke tossed off a second glass of cham-
pagne to the health of the pair, and inclined his head
specially towards the bride.
Lady Hieover, before starting, found time to say a
word to Peggy.
" Mind you remain at Hieover as long as we are
away," she enjoined ; " the whole of the garden is to
be altered, a new conservatory built, besides numerous
cleanings and paintings. I want you to superintend
the flower department, and assist the gardener in the
purchase of plants. Your husband has got some
written instructions from his uncle, so, you see, we in-
tend you both to represent us in all things."
Peggy was charmed, and vowed she would have the
place a real nice spot before the honeymoon was over ;
298 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
and now she asked if Willina could remember any-
thing else that she wanted done.
The bride mentioned two or three trifling items, and
it struck Peggy that she was talking very fast now.
So she was ; but tears were in her voice as she added
in a low tone, and with something of a sigh, " Get
plenty of stephanotis — for the conservatory — it is
my best-loved flower : now, good-bye."
They went first of all to Paris, and from thence
they travelled in a small radius, enjoying the true
country life of the French people, which is far more
happy, and very much more innocent, than it is often
allowed to be.
Whilst travellers declaim against the vice of Paris
and other large cities of France, they are often quite
oblivious of the fact that the sinners who abound in
that capital consist for the most part of a mixture of
rich Eussians, rich English, and rich Americans, sup-
plemented by a substratum of poverty and chevaliers
d'industrie from all parts of the universe.
N"owhere is rural life more pleasant or more inter-
esting than in the interior of the French provinces.
The sunny clime, the outdoor existence, and the
naturally joyous disposition of the Gallic race, all tend
to ameliorate the burden of everyday toil, and to avert
those disappointments which turn the heart to gall,
and often goad a generous spirit into the conviction
that its own lot is an exceptionally sad one, and thus
harden it into bitterness and evil thoughts.
The decent economies of life, and the aptitude for
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 299
making provision for his offspring, is a salient feature
in the character of the Frenchman, and the women
of all classes and of all lands could not do better than
take lessons here in the manipulation of culinary
matters, in which the Frenchwomen of every grade are
usually so expert. Many, many pounds in the house
accounts would be annually saved, and, in the majority
of cases, a better table would be thereby provided.
It was among the simple Breton folk especially that
Lord Hieover and his wife derived the greatest enjoy-
They made their excursions in a homely, unosten-
tatious manner, and thus furnished themselves with
every opportunity to gain a correct knowledge of this
most interesting people.
Their tour was so enjoyable that it was extended to
the beautiful country watered by the broad Garonne ;
and it followed as a matter which admitted of no dis-
pute, that it would be a sin to be so near the Pyrenees
and the Cantabrican Sierra and not visit them. No
one in their senses can turn back from the mountains.
Ah, no ! the grand noble mountains which look up-
wards boldly into the face of heaven, and draw
the wayfarer of earth into their wealth of free air,
and into all that is glorious in colour upon fleeting
cloud or pearly mist, or giant tree or tender herb.
Nothing is too lovely or too grand for them : they hold
the magic spell of weaning the spirit from the cares of
life. And when those cares and sorrows — the abomi-
nation of desolation of many a heart — press too heavily
300 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
upon us, do we not, in the same spirit almost as guided
the Israelites of old, rise up and amid the mountains
seek our rest ?
Stupendous as the sea, without its phases of terror
and treacherous calm, they impart a sense of mighty
aid; and even when rash mortals seek to penetrate
their forbidden mysteries, even then the death which
these may have courted seems to be sanctified by the
snowy veil which husheth all, and by the crystal ice
which spreads its shield to protect the remains of poor
humanity from outrage and decay.
We instinctively love the mountains, — it may be
because of all created things they stand nearest to the
heavens ; and on the Great Day is it not upon them
that we are to call? — the last of earthly things to
which we, poor sinners, shall make our appeal for
Every week added health and quiet happiness to
the wedded pair. Alick did sometimes fight vigorously
for a sixpence, as his nephew had predicted ; and his
wranglings over the bills, made out in the French
language and currency — of both of which he was
supremely ignorant — caused as much amusement to
his wife as they caused astonishment to the gargons
who presented these claims for disembursement.
However, his disputations usually ended with the
threat customary among Britons, of writing to the
* Times ' ; and further, by emphasising this terror with
the truly British contempt of idiom.
" Marquez mes mots ! " he would say, — " mar-r-key
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 301
les bien ; le bill est un swindle, mais je writerais a le
' Times,' — Gazette English, vous savez, journal tr^s
important ; circule dans tout le monde : mauvais pour
vous, etre expose dans le ' Times ' — comprenez ? "
The gargons seldom did comprenez, and very often
also did not choose to comprenez; and as these de-
mands were usually settled in the end by Lady Hie-
over, who invariably made up the difference in those
traffickings in which the Viscount had shown himself
unreasonable or mistaken, their comfort was never
marred by unsatisfied landlords or disobliging waiters.
As time went on. Lord Hieover discovered that to
speak the language of a nation was, in fact, to hold
the purse, and at length all expenses were paid by
Willina, to the saving of much talk and tissue on the
part of the Viscount.
The sun went round, and the world went round,
and at the end of twelve months the ' Times ' did
make an announcement to the public, owing to a
communication which bore the sign-manual of Alex-
ander, Viscount Hieover. It was to this effect : " De-
cember 26. — At Hieover Grange, the wife of Viscount
Hieover of a son and heir."
Mary Clavering wrote immediately to congratulate
the parents upon this event, and she warmly expressed
the hope that this infant would grow up a kind and
" I would give much," this poor mother added, " if
J. could tell you that my Frank entertains even com-
mon regard for me. His nature is very peculiar, and
302 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
he repels, and even resents, any advances I may
make to win his love, or even to assist him in his
education. Yet he is devoted to his father, and Mrs
Glascott has the most unbounded influence over him.
" I dread her coming here now, for she seems to
widen the gulf which, in spite of all my efforts and
my constant prayers, seems to yawn daily betwixt my
boy and me. It is a dreadful position, yet I can say
nothing, and do nothing ; my husband believes there
is no woman in the world like Lillian.
" / have lost all faith in her ; and, O Willina ! she is
getting more like my dearest mother in personal ap-
pearance than ever — only the latter had a soft warm
heart, thank God! Mr Glascott, however, is thor-
oughly contented and happy, and would perhaps be
surprised if any one were to hint that his wife is cold
and selfish. Perhaps I am wrong ; but I am haunted
by a continual fear that Lillian will, in the end, prove
a great bane to Francis, my son.
" You will smile at this, and perhaps wonder if my
brain is turning. I am not well, and feel that a sea
change would be beneficial to the children and myself.
I say nothing of this, as I don't want to be urged to
0^0 to Brvdone. The Glascotts come next month, and
your brother has insisted upon a long visit, which I
wish I could approve of with sincerity. Baby is well,
and she is my greatest comfort," &c., &c.
Lady Hieover read and re-read the whole of this
melancholy letter, and, finally, she showed it to her
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 303
They had both agreed that they disliked Mrs Lillian,
and they had unreservedly expressed their opinion
the one to the other that Mrs Glascott had been the
motive power in causing so much persistent opposition
on the part of her husband to Willina's engagement
with Stephen La Touche.
But they had never said much respecting the inti-
macy between Francis Clavering and Mrs Glascott,
each hoping that it was merely the innocent outcome
of early friendship. The precise and guarded manner
of the lady left nothing to be suspected as to her
conduct, and Mr Clavering (with one unfortunate
exception) had ever been very particular in his manner
towards his neighbour's wife.
Still, with all this, the Viscount had more than once
been tempted to express some wonder at the influence
which Mrs Glascott seemed to exert over the house-
hold of Mr and Mrs Clavering of Tring. Her opinion
seemed to operate on the choice of nurses, physicians,
books, and had even been brought to bear on the regu-
lation of the expenses of that family. It was only the
remembrance of the fact that Mr Clavering was his
wife's brother which had kept Lord Hieover silent;
but now the opportunity had come, and he spoke
plainly and to the point.
" I don't like the look of this," he said, as he put
down the letter. " Mary is evidently very unhappy,
and there is more than she cares to write beneath the
surface. Why does she not go more into society ?
and why on earth is there such eternal visiting be-
304 THE FA.T OF THE LAND.
tween Brydone and Tring ? Mischief will come of
all this, as sure as my name is Leppell."
" I fear so too," answered Lady Hieover ; " but what
is to be done ? — who can venture to say anything ? —
it is a most delicate matter even to canvass."
*•' Yes ; no one but Mary can take an active part. But
if she does not want to have the Glascotts as visitors,
they ought not to be invited. I don't believe she is
ever consulted on the matter ; and, to say the truth,
I am convinced that Clavering is a precious deal too
fond of old Glascott's wife."
" I wish I could gainsay you," her ladyship replied ;
" but, to be candid, I have held this opinion for a very
long time. I don't think, however, that any one else
has the slightest suspicion of anything of the kind,
and they are both too cautious and too observant of
the world's estimation to cause open scandal. My
dread is, that Mary is or may be apprehensive that
Frank's affections are more Mrs Glascott's than her
" Open scandal, you say ; do you mean to imply the
possibility of there being secret scandal, then ? " in-
quired the Viscount, with a flaming countenance.
" There is no proof of that, Alick," his wife replied,
soothingly. " You know it would be utter madness
to assert even a suspicion, unless it is supported by
some tangible evidence. No ; I myself think that the
pride of both Lillian and my brother is stronger than
their principle — that keeps them straight. The great
danger is, that present immunity, and perhaps Mary's
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 305
unsuspicious nature, may eventually prove a false
security, and lead tliem into actual sin."
" It shan't be — it can't be ! " returned the Viscount,
seriously alarmed. " Ealph's beautiful daughter ! — see
what she admits herself." He took up the letter and
read out one of its paragraphs — " ' Your brother has
insisted upon a long visit, which I wish 1 could ap-
prove of with sincerity.' Now, what does that mean ?
There must be something wrong to induce Mary to
write like this."
" The expression may bear more than one meaning,"
Lady Hieover replied ; " it may refer entirely to the
boy. It must be very galling to a mother to see her
child completely ignore her for another person, even
a nurse ; and I know that young Francis openly de-
clares that Mrs Glascott is the person that he loves
best in the whole world : it has been so since he was a
baby. Oh, it must be a terrible trial ! " — and Willina,
as she spoke, pressed her own tender infant more
closely to her, and kissed its tiny hands.
" I'll write and invite Mary here," returned the
Viscount, as a sudden thought struck him. " We can
ask her to bring her baby to inspect ours, — don't you
think that would be a capital plan ? The Glascotts
have not arrived, and they can be put off, I should
think — at any rate, it is quite natural that we should
like our friends to see this young man here ! " and the
Viscount gave the bundle which contained his son a
gentle tap as he spoke.
The young mother had little time to reply, for Mrs
VOL. III. U
306 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
Leppell, who was at Hieover, came into the room with
the express purpose of turning the master of the house
out of that apartment, and of bidding the patient to
at once hold her peace.
" Your boy is only seven days old," said she to the
Viscount, "and here I find you chatting with 'our
aunt Willina ' " (it was Peggy's humour always to speak
of Lady Hieover as " our aunt ") " like two old gossips
over a cup of tea with something comfortable inside
that. Do have a care, like dear people ; you know it
is not always safe to be too well at first."
" I must confess to being a little tired," said Wil-
lina, smiling ; " but my husband could not resist the
pleasure of bringing me dear Mary Clavering's letter
of congratulation. It is the first letter I have had, as
baby's advent was announced and responded to by
" I see ; but do take care, I implore you, and don't
exert yourself too much at first: the nurse is quite
uneasy. Why, when I had the twins, it was days
before I could speak above my breath; I could not
move nor lift my hand to my head."
This was strictly true ; but, poor soul ! she never
knew that her trial had been exceptionally severe, —
that her state had been such that it might be likened
to holding water in the hollow of a hand. Had the
liquid overflowed its limits, her own feeble rill of life
would have also run out to nothingness.
But she was aware that it was improbable she
would ever bring forth a living child, and it was this
THE JOY OF THE MORNING. 307
knowledge which caused her to watch this new mother-
hood so carefully, not only for the present but for the
" Now, you have got to depart, and at once," con-
tinued Peggy, facing the Viscount. " I think you had
better take Marmaduke off the premises ; he is wild
to try some skating on the Firdene ponds over there."
As the baby ruled the house just then, his father
had nothing to do but obey orders, and that with a
submission that was lamb-like.
Peggy bent over mother and child. " Have you
decided what its name is to be ? " she asked, pointing
to the little man.
" He was born on St Stephen's day," Lady Hieover
replied, " and his father says he does not see why we
should sacrifice to family traditions about names — so
he is to be called Stephen. Is he not a crown of
happiness to us both ? "
Willina smiled joyfully, and Mrs Leppell watched
over mother and infant long after they had fallen
AN OLD man's EEVENGE.
It has been shown by the letter which Mrs Clavering
had addressed to Lady Hieover that the writer enter-
tained great repugnance to visit at Brydone. The
force of circumstances, however, compelled her to
accept an invitation to do so. This was made verb-
ally by Mrs Glascott in the presence of Francis and of
This invitation included the infants, to whom a
nursery was to be specially dedicated; and as Mr
Clavering expressed himself willing to give up an
engagement for the purpose of escorting his family,
Mary found herself unable to oppose any valid reason
for declining the Brydone hospitality.
It will be seen from this that the Glascotts had
already paid their visit to Tring, and that Mrs Claver-
ing had not been able to comply with her uncle's
proposition that she should bring her youngest infant
to make the acquaintance of his own son and heir.
Francis Clavering had pressed his wife to accept this
AN OLD man's EEVENGE. 309
invitation to Brydone with more deference to her
wishes than he was usually wont to show ; and as the
Glascotts were to leave a few days in advance in order
to prepare for their reception, Mary was satisfied that
the escort of her husband would be really an advan-
tage to herself and family. The youngest infant, too,
required sea-air, and, all things considered, she thought
it best to accept the situation graciously, and go to
Hieover at a more convenient season.
But it was with amazement, and great pain also,
that she witnessed the frantic delight of the boy when
he was told that Mrs Glascott had proposed to take
him to Brydone with herself and her husband in
advance of the rest.
" Why can't papa come too ? " the lad said ; " and
you, Lillian, leave Mr Glascott to follow us with
mamma and the babies : it will be far nicer for us
— now, wouldn't it ? "
Young Frank had got into the habit of calling Mrs
Glascott by her Christian name, and the latter had
avowed that she preferred that he should do so.
He was a queer, weird child, — impulsive and capri-
cious, as was his maternal grandfather, but utterly
wanting in that emotional feeling which is generally
called goodness of heart, and which atoned for a
multitude of sins on the part of the Colonel, neverthe-
less. At one time wild and totally unreasonable ; at
another reticent, calculating, and displaying a pre-
science that would have been remarkable in a states-
man, — it was indeed difficult how to reckon and how
310 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
to answer for what he might do or say, in any man-
It was now the prompting of his strong will which
impelled him to tease his father for a promise that he
would go with him and Lillian, and leave Mr Glascott
to follow to Brydone with his mother.
The latter had more than once observed how much
the lad was inclined to look upon his father, Mrs
Glascott, and himself as a trio, — caring for none
other, and dependent upon none other ; and she now
tried to still the workings of jealousy in her soul
owing to her boy's random speech, by telling her-
self that her husband and Lillian had made him
their inseparable companion during his last visit to
Again he demands why his father should not go
with him to Jersey, emphasising his interrogation by
saying that he was sure he would like it better than
travelling with a nursery. " Do come with us, papa,"
he urged ; " I say, come with us." In vain have both
Mr Clavering and Lillian attempted to assume un-
natural deafness ; and in order to put an end to the
boy's clamouring, Francis at length called out, " Hold
your tongue, sir ! " and, dragging him from off his
chair, bundled him into the hall, with a sound box
on the ear.
Mary remained quite still during this outburst ; she
was in fact puzzled whether to hail it as a good sign
or the reverse. Generally speaking, her husband had
treated the boy's impertinences towards herself- with
AN OLD man's revenge. 311
contempt, or with the assertion that all lads at that
age were pretty much alike, and that she must not
expect her son to be wiser than his fellows, &c.
More often he would add the galling remark, that
Mrs Glascott could manage young Francis — he never
misbehaved himself towards her ; and thus poor Mary
But now a strange conviction arose within her that
both her husband and Mrs Glascott were not only an-
noyed at the boy's speech, but that they were both
apprehensive lest the child's impetuosity might lead
him on to say something which it might not be quite
prudent to utter in her presence. She saw clearly
that the manner of little Frank's observations caused
them some surprise; hence the alacrity with which
Mr Clavering rose to quench further remarks.
Presently Mrs Glascott left the room, under the plea
of searching for her husband, but her real object was
evidently to seek out the boy. Through the open
window Mary saw her stand beneath a deodara and
beckon, and presently Frank came bounding towards
her. Lillian, for once, forgot her usual caution. Draw-
ing him by the arm on to the gravel path upon which
the window opened, she said quite audibly: "Never
mind, old man, never mind. Papa was put out ; but
you must never speak in such a manner again, — it will
make mamma quite jealous."
Frank seemed to reply rather sulkily; but his
mother could only catch a few words here and there.
The tenor of these was distressing enough, if put
312 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
together ; but Mrs Clavering determined now to take
her own course and watch — yes, watch. She must
know of w^hom it was requisite she should not be
jealous — whether of father or of son.
Xo more transpired, and the journey to Brydone
was carried out after the original plan without further
remark from any of the parties concerned.
They had been there about a fortnight, when it
struck Mary that all was not right with Mr Glascott.
He had become thinner, and a peculiar pallid shade
would suddenly pass over his face, while a nervous
tremor, which he could not command, at the same
time agitated his whole person.
Lillian was not unobservant : she treated her hus-
band with unflinching care, admitted that his heart
was affected, and with the most unruffled placidity
avowed that a man at his time of life must expect to
suffer in some way. Yet, in spite of her attention,
and her punctual observance of all that might con-
duce to Mr Glascott's relief, Mary, in the affectionate
warmth of her own nature, thought that Lillian was
not kind, that she was wanting in tenderness, and was
utterly unsympathetic towards the man to whom she
owed so much.
Lillian never put off a visit or ride on his account ;
but at the same time she never omitted to be ready
to accompany him in his daily drive, or to walk up
and down in his company on the broad walk of the
new garden, which she had planned and carried out
among other improvements at Brydone.
AN OLD man's revenge. 313
Then came a day when the old gentleman, with a
gush of tears, seized Mary's hand, and told her that he
was most unhappy, — so unhappy that he looked for
death as a relief ; but she must not, he implored, say
a word of this to Lillian, nor yet to Mr Clavering.
She must wait a little, and then he would tell her
That time came very quickly. One afternoon Mary,
who was strolling in the garden with her babies and
their nurse, saw Mr Glascott beckoning to her from
the window of a greenhouse. Thinking that he
wanted her opinion upon some changes which were
about to be made, she desired that the children should
extend their walk, and she would come and meet
them. Then, seeing them fairly started, she went
to the greenhouse where her host awaited her.
" Mary, dear child," he said, in that equable heart-
broken tone which is so much more distressing to a
hearer than agitated or even violent speech, — "after
much reflection I have convinced myself that, in
common honesty, I must inform you that this is no
place for you ; nay, more, you must leave it with
your children this night."
Mrs Clavering gasped; she was so affrighted that
no word escaped her. She looked inquiringly at Mr
Glascott as if to hear more ; but not for one moment
did she doubt either his sanity or his veracity. Poor
soul ! she half suspected what was to come next.
" You must leave this evening," he said, " and go to
the hotel at St Aubyns. Here is money — use it ; it is
314 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
your right. But go — and go at once to your father's
house when you have crossed the sea."
" But why ? " she inquired at length. " I cannot
leave my husband unless I have proof that I ought
to do so."
His reply was to hand her a letter. It was one
written by Francis to Mrs Glascott some few weeks
before this time, and dated from a London club.
This missive informed her that he was to be des-
patched in a few weeks' time on a geological survey
in Styria ; that he would visit Brydone once more ;
and that, to save appearances, he would ask her to re-
ceive his wife and children at the same time. The
writer then declared that she, like himself, must be
wellnigh spent with this weary waiting. At the end
of a certain time a yacht would come round behind
the rocks at Brydone, and together they must fly.
Did she not consent to this, he would never put his
foot in Brydone more. The letter concluded in a most
passionate strain, and was fully signed and dated.
" This is awful," said poor Mary ; " but still, this is
not conclusive proof — there may be some change. Oh,
think ; it cannot be possible that they will commit
His reply was to take her hand and lead her out
beyond the garden, and upwards towards the cliff by
a narrow winding path. She remarked how feebly he
walked, and how every step seemed to distress his
breathing powers, and how he occasionally stopped,
and laid his hand on his heart.
AN OLD man's revenge. 315
"Look there," he said, "just beyond that cliff — do
not you see a yacht riding at anchor ? She is well
concealed, but I have watched for her, and it is only
within the last hour that she has appeared in sight."
Alack and alas ! it was all true then.
They descended towards the shore. In a secluded
cove stood the boat-house, — a man suddenly appeared
from between two rocks in the vicinity.
"They are within," said the man to Mr Glascott,
" and my mate is watching from the upper cliff. Ee-
turn to the house, sir ; you may be seen, and that will
spoil all my work. It will do the lady no good to
look into the boat-house ; they are only waiting for
the tide to rise, and they will be off."
"My God! my God!" ejaculated Mary; "what are
you going to do ? "
" This place is watched by my detectives : when the
boat comes to take the — the persons in the boat-house
to the ship, then I will step forward and bid them
' God speed ! ' I have just time to send you into St
Aubyns ; the carriage has already been ordered, as if
to take you and the children for a drive. Depend on
me ; I will send to you to-night."
A man dressed as a fisherman lounged leisurely
in front of the boat-house. He then seated himself on
a piece of rock, and turned over some fish which was in
a creel. This was a noted London detective.
The man who had accosted them first entreated Mr
Glascott to hurry away. " As soon as the boat puts
off from the yacht, I will come for you," he said.
316 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
They turned towards the house. Then all Mary's
wifehood and motherhood rushed upon her in full
sway. " Oh ! let me, let me, I beseech you, go in and
save them," she implored of Mr Glascott ; " we are
only abetting them in their guilt. Oh, let us go to-
gether, and appeal to their better feelings, — let us go
together, — and forgive "
" Too late ! " said Mr Glascott, looking at her
steadily. " Mary, your mother disappointed me, and
deceived me. I forgave. For the love of your mother,
I gave Francis to you. For the love of your mother,
I married the woman who has so basely deceived me.
There must be an end to like forbearance, and the
end is nearly come."
" You will do them no hurt," she said, appealingly.
" Ood forbid ! I will but fling this letter in his
face, and bid him take her — trusting to God that
they will get their punishment in this world. One
thing, Mary — promise me solemnly that you will
never divorce your husband."
" Never ! " and she spoke with all her heart ;
'' never shall he marry Lillian. Lillian ! my early
friend, now my worst enemy. Oh, it is hard to think
of you and all that you have done ! "
The carriage was in waiting at the great gate of
the stables, and Mr Glascott hurried Mary, now
scarcely sensible, into it. The nurse and young chil-
dren were already placed within, and out at sea
a boat had come off from the yacht without the
AN OLD man's KEVENGE. 317
Mr Glascott pressed her hand. " Say nothing to
your servant," he said, " but go for your drive, and
get down at the hotel. By the time you arrive there,
a messenger will meet you."
How she kept her senses she never knew ; but the
nurse marked her wan scared face, and instinctively
guessed that something was wrong — something secret
" Wliere is my boy ? — where is Frank ? " the
mother at length demanded quickly.
Nobody knew ; he had not, it was said, been seen
'Presently Mrs Clavering observed that a strange
servant was seated on the coach- box. When they
alighted at the hotel, she asked this man if he had
seen her son.
The man at first hesitated, and then acknowledged
that he had seen the lad in the boat-house, talking to
Mrs Glascott, an hour ago.
Then she knew that the speaker was a detective,
and understood the reason why she had been told
that it would do her no good to look into the boat-
Shortly afterwards, the man who had been dressed
as a fisherman called at the hotel, and held a lomj
conference with his mate. He brought awful tidings.
The boat, he said, containing Clavering and his
son and Mrs Glascott had barely moved from off
shore, when, at a preconcerted signal, the detectives
rushed upon them, and effectually prevented them
318 THE FAT OF THE LAND.
from moving a foot farther into the water. Mr
Glascott was in advance, and dashed a letter full in
Mr Clavering's face. He turned to his wife, struggling
to speak to her, but the effort was too great. One
word he called out, ' Adelaide ! ' and then, with a sob
that was awful to hear, he fell prone to the earth —
stone dead !
- " A foe's gift is no gift, and brings no profit."
PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS.
THE LAND BEYOND THE FOREST. Facts,
Figures, and Fancies from Transylvania. By E. GERARD,
Author of 'Reata,' 'Beggar my Neighbour,' &c. 2 vols., with
Map and Illustrations. 25s.
" She has given a delightfully varied and interesting and, for general
information, sufficiently complete account of the ' Land beyond the
Forest.' The book is more readable than most fiction Of her charm-
ing style it is unnecessary to speak to English readers. Her matter and
method combine to make the book entertaining far beyond the average of
books of its class. "—Scotsman.
"Probably no other country in Europe is so little known as Transyl-
vania The isolation of the province constituted in Madame Gerard's
opinion — and most of her readers will agree with her — one of the chief
charms of the district. The jiassage through the mountains which sepai*-
ate Hungary from Transylvania is like a step taken backwards over seAeral
centuries Her style of writing is clear, and free from serious affecta-
tion, if not from the unnecessary use of foreign words, and she is able to
lend a certain charm to the strange and interesting facts which she has to
tell of the ' Land beyond the Forest.' " — Athenamm.
" One of the brightest and most enjoyable books of its kind tliat has
come our way for a good many years There is not, indeed, a dull page
to be found between the covers of the two volumes, the interest of which
is indefinitely increased by a large number of admirable illustrations." —
" The book is as noticeable for its brightness and sense as for the value
it possesses in describing almost unknown i)laces and peoples which an
early war may bring into striking European prominence." — Daily Tele-
"The author draws a fascinating picture of the wild beaiity of the
country, and the outcome of her researches, historical and ethnological,
is presented to the reader in the taking style with which those who know
Madame Gerard's past work are familiar. Altogether, ' Tlie Land be-
yond the Forest' should rank as a standard work on its subject, and will
be found as full of entertainment as of information." — Oraphic.
THE BLACKSMITH OF VOE. A :NrovEL. By
PAUL GUSHING, Author of ' Misogyny and the Maiden,' 'A
Woman with a Secret,' 'Doctor Csesar Growl, Miud-Curer,' &c.
3 vols, crown 8vo, 2os. 6d.
"It is an idyl in prose in wliich we are given the finest idiom, the
keenest humour, the most picturesque eloquence, and dramatic force of
no mean order. The workmanship of the book is delightful from first to
last, and the character of Abel Boden is a masterpiece after its kind.
The story itself takes the most powerful hold on the reader's sympathies,
and the series of magnificently painted pictures which are constantly
recurring, are as attractive as they are impressive. There are a plot and
a mystery which must please the most fastidious reader." — Whitehall
"The story increases in interest as it proceeds, and the author gives
ample evidence of strong descriptive and dramatic powers." — Pictorial
" Is a powerful and interesting novel, which should increase the reputa-
tion of its talented author." — Scotsman.
COUNTESS IRENE. By the Author of 'Lauter-
dale' and ' Cateriua.' 3 vols, post 8vo, 25s. 6d,
" ' Countess Irene ' is pleasant reading. Over and above the charm of
an uncommon brightness and subtlety of insight, there is a general at-
mosphere of genial kindliness The young Countess is scarcely a
creation ; but her personality is distinctly fresh and piquant, and has
something about it of the mystery and incompleteness of real life. The
author's knowledge is somewhat cosmopolitan, and his i^ictures of Viennese
society are brightly real." — Athenceiim.
" This is a very charming novel — much above the average in tone and
style, in sentiment and expression." — St .James's Gazette.
"■ The girl who gives the title to the book, and the development of
whose character forms the main issue of the plot, is a figure drawn with
marked ability The interest of the work, however, lies not so much
in its incidents, though these are well conceived, as in the character-
drawing, and the many pleasant pictures of Austrian life and manners
which enliven the progress of the tale." — Scotsmxtn.
"Bright and pleasantly realistic, it is one of the most agreeable novels
of the season." — Morning Post.
"It is a charming story, interesting and viouveniente, with some
highly dramatic incidents, yet not too jjoignant to be thoroughly pleasant
reading throughout." — Westminster Review,
TIMAE'S TWO WORLDS. By Maurus Jokai.
Authorise.l Translation by Uhh HEGAN KENNARD, 3 vols,
post 8vo, 25s. 6d.
" ' Tiiuar's Two Worlds' may not only be regarded as the author's
masterpiece, but as a masterpiece of European literature, pervaded by
a primaeval freshness of style that sliould titillate the palate of the most
jaded novel reader." — Athenceum.
" It is long since we have met with a story so vigorous in its action, so
full of liuman sympathy, of strength and pathos We regretfully
close this delightful book." — Saturday Review.
"A fine story— powerful, pathetic, and dramatic, and full of vigorous
passages of description, and keen flashes of insight and humour." — St
"Throughout marked by poetical imagination and a true dramatic
instinct. " — Morning Post.
"A novel of bright oi-iginality, of shrewd conception, set in striking
and picturesque language Is as charming as it is original, full of
freshness and colour."- i>fa^y Telegraph.
"Emphatically a great novel." — Echo.
"Splendid word-painting of an order we rarely meet with." — Liferary
SCOTLAND AND SCOTSMEN IN THE EIGHT-
EENTH CENTURY. Edited from the MSS. of JOHN RAM-
SAY, Esq. of Ochtertyre. By ALEXANDER ALLARDYCE,
Author of ' Memoir of Admiral Lord Keith, K.B.,' &c. 2 vols.
8vo, 31s. 6d.
"This is the best book which has appeared on the Scotland of the past
— a Scotland not too remote or barbarous to be now uninteresting
It embodies the experiences of a shrewd, sagacious, scholarly Scotsman,
who lived in times when events happened that were worth observing."
"The Ochtertyre manuscripts are interesting from the first page to the
last. The manners, the ideals, the ambitions depicted in them, have long
since vanished The reader may turn to what chapter he will, and
Avherever he pauses be sure of good entertainment." — Athenceum.
"These volumes form the most interesting 'addition that has for some
time been made to Scottish social, personal, and anecdotal history."
" No more delightful book of personal reminiscences has been sent out
than that just edited by Mr Allardyce from manuscripts prepared by the
late John Ramsay of Ochi&aiyrQ.^—Glctsgoio Herald.
A New and Cheaper Edition of
POOE NELLIE. By the Author of 'My Tkivial
Life and Mi.sfoktune.' New Edition. Complete in One Vol-
ume, crown 8vo, 6s.
" It is a very powerful and remarkable book Tlie literary style of
the book is perfectly simple, but it has a fine hard polish which is won-
derfully appropriate. * Poor Nellie ' is, in short, a very remarkable
" ' Poor Nellie,' though it follows on a work so vigorous as ' My Trivial
Life,' lias in it the wlierewithal to make its readers go on asking for more.
It has a comi^leteness and a power to which its predecessor, excellent
as it was, could lay no claim." — Athencmim.
"A work of great ability and of absorbing interest." — 8t James't:
" To give this bare summary of the story is to give no idea of the skill
and power with which its deeply interesting progress is followed forth in
the book itself. The characters are so well conceived and so nicely elabo-
rated, that the tragic incidents of the tale follow naturally from their
action and interaction." — Scotsman.
INSULINDE. ExPEPJENCEs of a Naturalist's
WiFK IN THE Eastern Aiiciiipelago. By Mr.s H. 0.
FORBES. Post 8vo, with a Map, 8s. 6d.
*'A sober, gracefully written narrative It consists largely of de-
scriptions of the people and places visited, including Java, and most of
the Dutch Indies." — Westminster Mevieta.
" An unpretending but pleasantly-written descrijition of everyday life
in the Eastern Archipelago. The volume might very well serve as a
guide-book for those Avhose vocation may take them into those yet little-
known spots of the earth's surface." — Vanity Fair.
"This book gives a very realistic idea of the kind of life led by those
who go out to the outskirts of civilisation for the purpose of increasing
the world's knowledge." — Daily Nexos.
A STOEY OF ACTIVE SERVICE IN EOEEIGN
LANDS. Compiled from Letters sent Home from South
Africa, India, and China, 1856-1882. By Surgeon-General
A. GRAHAM YOUNG, Author of Crimean Cracks.' In One
Volume, crown 8vo, illustrated, 7s. 6d.
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD & SONS, Edinburgh and London.
■•'■^^:i*. ,,-:-V2^.. :--.-./?£
UNIVERSITY OF ILLIN0I9-URBANA
- . M.