(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

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

'■% 




















■•^'^■■i) 



■:U' 



'ft.:.; 



m:,^-^ 

'j*-:^- 

!,:-»:-:ii'. 







L I E> R.ARY 

OF THL 

U N IVLRSITY 

or ILLI NOIS 

y. 3 



THE FAT OF THE LAND 



THE FAT OF THE LAND 



A NOVEL 



BY 

MARY LESTEE 

(MARIA SOLTERA) 

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



IN THREE VOLUMES 
VOL. III. 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MDCCCLXXXVIII 



8S3 
V.3 



CONTENTS OF THE THIRD VOLUME. 



CHAP. PAGE 

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. 



CHAPTEE I. 



CLOSE PRISON. 



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 
withdrawn. 

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 
tides. 

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 
eight, sir." 

"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 
and holler." 

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 
departed hence. 

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 
well risen. 

" 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 
that " 

" 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 
own. 

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 
was imminent. 

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 
deliverance. 

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 
Clavering. 

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 
manner." 

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 
them." 

" 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 
Lillian Fanshawe. 

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 
the fact. 

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 
relative. 

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 
place. 

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 
the sea. 

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- 
getfulness. 

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 
cold. 

"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- 
clertakino'." 

" 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 
out." 

" 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 surmise." 

" 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 
comfort." 

" 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 
dusk." 

" 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 
o'clock." 

" The wrackers ! Who are they ? " 



25 



CHAPTEE II, 



DELIVERANCE. 



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- 
quate expression. 

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 
soul. 

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 



DELIVERANCE. 27 

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- 
possible. 

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 
and fellowship. 

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 



DELIVERANCE. 29 

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 
Aubin's." 

Mr Willoughby rehearsed these cognomens, and 
then shouted them co7i amore in the direction of 
the shore. 

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 
from him. 

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- 



DELIVERANCE. 31 

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 
emergency demands. 

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- 
shore. 

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- 



DELIVERANCE. 33 

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 
from it. 

"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 
loiterers. 

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. 



DELIVERANCE. 35 

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 
of suffering. 

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 
endured. 

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 
form." 



DELIVERANCE. 37 

" 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 
o'clock P.M. 

" 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 
Fanshawe. 

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 



DELIVERANCE. 39 

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 
stood. 

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 
into Brydone. 

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 



DELIVERANCE. 41 

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 
expression. 

"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 
arrival. 

"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 
eagle. 

" 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 



DELIVERANCE. 43 

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 
reply." 

" 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 
been consulted." 

" 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, 



Dr"^.VEEANOE, 45 

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 
of Brydone. 



47 



CHAPTEK III. 



POT-POURRI. 



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- 
titude. 

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 
undertakings. 

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 
the match. 



POT-POURRI. 49 

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 
Pinnacles. 

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 
ensue. 

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. 



POT-POURRI. 61 

" 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 
them. 

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 
issue. 

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 



POT-POURRI. 63 

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 
Dobree. 

"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 
Clavering. 

" 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 
to death." 

" 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 



POT-POUKRI. 65 

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 
sound sleep." 

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 
French coast. 



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 
time. 

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 
ricli. 

" Another thing," urged Miss Clavering, " I want 
you to be very civil to Mrs Braintree. You seldom go 



POT-POURRI. 57 

near her; you really should pay her some attention, 
for she is coming, rather against her will I believe, as 
chaperon-general." 

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- 
gether." 

'' 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 



POT-POUERI. 59 

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 
or form. 

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- 
port town. 

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 
beyond it." 

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- 
quired Willina. 

" 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 
action." 

'•' 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 
adverse." 

" Which means that a friend of mine has very good 



POT-POURRI. 63 

reason for believing that he has only to ask and 
have," qiioth Miss Clavering, with a little air of 
triumph. 

" 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 
that." 

" 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 



POT-POURRI. 65 

eldest daughter, that she would gladly have under- 
taken to leave her alone to the end of time it' 
need be." 

" 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 
admitted." 

" 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 
good fortune." 

" 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 
Willina. 

"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- 
noyed me." 

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 
younger brother. 

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 
Channel Islands. 



POT-POURRI. 67 

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 
usual elasticity. 

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 
port. 



69 



CHAPTEE IV. 

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 
French language. 

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 
truth. 



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 
his friend. 

" 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 
guests." 

Miss Clavering agreed in this, as, after the lapse of 
a week, the Claverings would be the only remaining 
visitors. 

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 
both. 

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 
them." 

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 
Clavering's wedding. 

" 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 
much moved. 

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 
especially." 

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 
her." 

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 
action. 

" 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 
him!" 

"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 
Dumfries." 

" 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 
engagement." 

" 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 
to wait." 

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 
silence. 

"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 
upright man." 

"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 
idea. 

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- 
grateful." 

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 
our wronsj-doinor. 

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 
cold. 

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 
the kind. 

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- 
night." 

" 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 
affair." 

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 
o'clock." 

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 
convenient light. 

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 
marriage, &c. 

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 
their exculpation." 

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 
'^ remain." 

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 
evermore. 

They descend to dinner. The conversation during 
that meal is very desultory, and often inclines towards 
the inane. 

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 
circle. 

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. 



92 



CHAPTER Y 

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- 
bered. 

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 
left town." 

" 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 
from you." 

" 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 
dumb. 

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 
approvingly. 

" 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 
money." 

" 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 
the ground." 

" 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 
family." 

" 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 
my proposals." 

" 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 
family." 

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 
internal misgiving. 

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 
Marcia entered. 

" 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 
approach him. 

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 
landincr. 

" 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 
night." 

"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 
anxiety. 

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 
a wife. 

" Ah ! for that reason, the lady not much has 
got?" 

" 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 
good." 

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 
play. 

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 
knot. 

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 
love. 

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 
in London." 

" 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 
and wife. 

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 
Glascott. 

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 
him." 

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 
Touche. 

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 
inquired anxiously. 

" 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. 



I 



11' 



CHAPTEE VI. 

SHARP WORK. 

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 
effected. 

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 
wife. 

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 
conclave. 

" 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 
losing concern." 

The Colonel liked the j)lan, but expressed an opinion 
that it would be a lonely life for a young woman like 
Peggy. 

" 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 
she spoke. 

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 
grandson. 

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 
way ? 

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 
some misgiving. 

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 
means dull. 

" 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 
return." 

" 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 
them. 

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 
house. 

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 
gas-bill. 

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 
whole affair. 

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 
of mind." 

" 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 
think." 

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 
great animation. 

" 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 
all day." 

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 
charities." 

" 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 
La Touche." 

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 
that youth. 

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 
things." 

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 
Folkestone. 

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 
guest. 



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." 



139 



CHAPTER YII. 



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 
provoking." 

" 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 
accidents, like." 

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 
house. 

" 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 
the law^n." 

" 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 
surface. 

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, 
of course." 

" 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 
remembers." 

" 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 ; 
highly improper." 

" 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 
Manor-house. 

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 
incensed accordingly. 

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 

O o 

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. 



160 



CHAPTER VIII. 

"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 
depend." 

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 — 
and " 

" Suppose he were to marry ? " suggested Colonel 
Guyse. 

" 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 
little son. 

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 
sceptic. 

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 
mental health. 

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 
Kemble's memory. 

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 
testamentary document. 

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 
legal safe-keeping. 

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 
widowhood. 

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- 
curred. 

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- 
back." 

"Who? — what, then?" inquired Stephen in aston- 
ishment. 

" 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 
leave us." 

" 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 
Brydone. 

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 
Clavering. 

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 
London. 

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 
race. 

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 
sister Mary. 

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 
guardian's sake. 

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 
Brydone." 

" 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 
relations." 

" 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 
advised. 

" 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 
physique. 

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 
Marmaduke. 

" 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 
him. 

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 
stood dumb. 

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- 
fusion." 

"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 
geological lectures. 

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 
gaining. 

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 
without mercy." 



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 
matting. 

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 
come in. 

" 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 
air." 

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- 
garden. 

" 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 
house. 

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 
below." 

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, 
indignantly. 

"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 
your name." 

" 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 
confidence." 

" 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- 
picion." 

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 
peace. 

" 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 
spoke — 

" 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 
and sick." 

" 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 
fact." 

" 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 
charge." 

"What I have stated is true, nevertheless," said 
Lillian. 

" 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. 



192 



CHAPTER IX. 

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 
Miss Clavering. 

" ]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 
properly." 

" 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- 
turns." 

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 
latterly." 

" 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 
friend." 

" 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 
arrangement." 

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 
brunt." 

"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- 
rogative tone. 

" 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, 
in amazement. 

" 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 
do." 

" 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 
required. 

" 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 
satisfactory results." 

" 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 
money." 



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 
now." 

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 
discovered. 

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 



I 

A PROPOS DES DIAMANTS. 203 

people's cash. Willina Clavering was a trump, and 
he hoped she would win through — and that was all 
about it." 

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 
ago." 

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, 

"Peter Swanson." 

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- 
men. 

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 
VOL. III. 



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 
Grange. 

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 
person. 

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 
return. 

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 
the opportunity. 



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 
rigime. 

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 
really was. 

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 ? " 
asked he. 

" 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." 



218 



CHAPTER X. 

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 
enmity." 

" 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 
capital. 

" 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 
and happy." 

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 
the kennel. 



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 
matron averred. 

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 
diamonds." 

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- 
ments." 

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 
a dog. 

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- 
ment existed. 

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 
Grange. 

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 
people's affairs. 

Willina remarked that Stephen La Touche held the 
opinion that Colin had a sneaking kindness for his 
sister Fanny. 



THE SORROW OF THE NIGHT. 233 

" How would Aunt Marcia like that ? " said Marma- 
duke. 

" 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 
Miss Clavering. 

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- 
drawn. 

The two musicians who were to preside at the piano 
were to take their refreshment behind a screen on the 
upper landing. 

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 
music. 

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 
of notes. 

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, 
entirely futile. 

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 
help. 

" 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 
upset." 

" 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 
life also." 

" 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 
immediately obtained. 

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 
grave. 

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. 



243 



CHAPTEE XL 



DOWN WIND, DOWN TIDE. 



"Vattene cor beata e bella, 
Vattene a quel superna sede 
E lasciar el mundo esempio del tuo fede." 

— Ariosto. 



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 
his sight. 

" 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 
you." 

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 
more." 

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 
the last." 

" 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 
full well. 

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 
after that." 

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 
answer. 

" 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 
Dare's funeral. 

" 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 
breakinsf ! 

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 
morning. 

"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 
days longer." 

" 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 ? " 



262 



CHAPTEE XII. 

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 
manner. 

" 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 
the grave." 

" 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 
spent." 



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 
morning. 

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 
household. 

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 
pretty safe. 

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 
deceased. 

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 
programme. 

" 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 
guests. 

" 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 
Viscount. 

" 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. 

■t 

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 
honour. 

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- 
perience. 

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 
consequences." 

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- 
fort you." 

" 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 
obstinacy." 

" 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. 

o o 

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 
an aunt." 

"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 
trifle." 

" 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 
fire." 

" 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 
time. 

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 
the first?" 

"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 
take away." 



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 
attention. 

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 
Stephen. 



286 



CHAPTER XIII. 

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 
as reliable. 

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 
discovered. 

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 
Touche. 

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- 
gent child. 

" 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 
hope." 

" 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 
this occasion. 

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 
wedding-day. 

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 
speech. 

" 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 
wife." 

" 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- 
ment. 

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 
help ! 

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 
affectionate child. 

" 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 
husband. 



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 
own." 

" 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 
telegram." 

" 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 
future's sake. 

" 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 
asleep. 



308 



CHAPTER XIY. 

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 
her husband. 

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- 
ner whatsoever. 

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 
Brydone. 

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 
was silenced. 

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 
more. 

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 
this wickedness." 

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 
boundary rocks. 



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 
and unusual. 

" Wliere is my boy ? — where is Frank ? " the 
mother at length demanded quickly. 

Nobody knew ; he had not, it was said, been seen 
for hours. 

'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- 
house. 

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." 



THE END. 



PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS. 



NEW PUBLICATIONS. 



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." — 
Manchester Mxaminer. 

" 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- 
graph . 

"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 
Review. 

"The story increases in interest as it proceeds, and the author gives 
ample evidence of strong descriptive and dramatic powers." — Pictorial 
World. 

" 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, 



3 



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 
James's Gazette. 

"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 
World. 



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." 
—Spectator. 

"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." 
— Scotsman. 

" 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 
novel. "—Spectator. 

" ' 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: 
Gazette. 

" 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 




3 01 



12 04909220S 



■■■>■ vv■'-i*^'^f^^^ 






''^^ 






^t'^i"^: 


JkSBSK 


-^"^ 


j-'^vV'^^^ 


■/■ -f^. 


^■'^iTvi'S 


-*^y 




^ 




- . M. 




- --.-s- 




-111 












-' 'V-i*"j 




■'^V^li 




''<?^id