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Full text of "Mistress and maid : a household story"

THE UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 




\\ . , i ,v J'< - « Standard N. 



MISTRESS AO MAID. 



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BY MISS JvIULOCH, 



1.' Fi U: 



John Halifax, Greiitiemaiv," "The Ogilviei 
"Head of the Family;" "Nothing- 3tfe<% : 
"Ak'atha'a.Husband,"' &c\{ Szc.^ &H. 










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B"y IMIISS MXJLOOH, 

AUTHOR OF 

"JOHN HALIFAX, GENTLEMAN,'' -OLIVE," "THE OGILVIES," 

•THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY," "NOTHING NEW," 

"AGATHA'S HUSBAND." &c„ &c. 




RICHMOND i 



WEST & JOHNSTON, PUBLISHERS. 

1864. 



Printed at tha Lynchburg "Virginian" Book and Job Office. 



. 



» 



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nry. Univ* of 
H) Carolina 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



CHAPTER I. ding, to iron a 3hirt ; and, moreover, to reflect. 

las she woke up to the knowedge of how these 
She was a rather tall, awkward, and strong- things should tie done, and how necessary they 
i -built girl of about fifteen. This was tht first [were, what must have been her eldest -'.-tor'-. 
impression the "maid'' jraveto her " mistres- lot during all these twenty years ' Whatpainsj 
ios, " the M'sses Leaf, when she entered their what weariness, what eternal toil must Johan- 
kitehen, accompanied by her mother, a widow na have silently endured in order to do ai> 
and washer-woman, by name Mrs. Hand. I ithose things which till now had seemed to dr. 
must confess, when they saw the damsel, the'themselves! 

ladies felt a eertain twinge of doubt as-toj Therefore, after much cogitation as to the 
whether they had not been rash in offering to bes'fcand most prudent, wav to amend matter.-. 
take her; whether it would nochave been wi.^r am] perceiving wifcb her clear common sense 
to have gone on in their old way— now, alas : t ] iatt w j]]jhg as she might be to work in the 
grown into a very old way, so as almost tokhchen, her own time would be much more 
make them forget they had ever had any otheri va i ua biy pp ent ; n teachingtheirgrowingschool, 
—and done without a servant still. It was ft j] arv w ho these Christmas holidavs. 

Many consultations had the three Bisters grat started the bold idea, " We must have a 
held before such a revolutionary extravagance servant ;" and therefore, it being necessarv to 
was determined on. But Miss Leaf was be begin with a very small servant on very 'low 
-inning both to lookand to feel '• not so voung . va ^ eP> (£3 per annum was. I fear the maxi- 
as she had been:" Miss Selina ditto: though, 
being still under forty, she would not have ac- 
knowledged it for the world. And Miss Hilary, 
young, bright, and active as she was, could by 
no possibility do every thing that was to be done 
In the little establishment : be, for instance, in 
three places at once — in the school-room, 
leaching Httle boys and girls, in the kitchen 



vages, (to per 

jinim), did they take this Elizabeth Hand. 
So, hanging behind her parent, an anxious- 
eyed, and rather bad-voiced woman, did Eliz- 
abeth enter the kitchen of the Misses Leaf. 

The ladies were all there. Johanna arran- 
ging the table for their early tea : Selina lying 
on the sofa trying to cut bread and butter; 

Hilary on rfer knees before the fire, making 



cooking dinner, and in the room3 up stair? ! ,] )e bft of toast, her eldest sister? one mxurv. 
busy at house-maid's work. Besides, much! This was the picture that her three mistres 

of her time was spent in waiting upon "poorl se3 preP ,-, n t e d to Elizabeths eves; whirl,. 



Selina,'' who frequently was, or fancied her 
self, too ill to take any part in either the schoo' 
r>r hou«e duties. 

Though, the thing being inevitable, sh( 
?aid little about it. Miss Leaf's heart \\a> 
often sore to see Hilary's pretty hands smear 
ed with blacking of grates, and roughened 
with scouring of floors. To herself this sort ot 
thing had become natural— but Hilary ! 

All 'the time of Hilary's childhood, the 

youngest of the family had. of course, been 

\ spared all house-work ; and afterward hei 

studies had left no time for it, , For she was a 

■ clevej girl, with a genuine love of knowledge : 

«* Latin, Greek, and even the higher branche- 

m of arithmetic and mathematics, were not be 

1 yond her range: and this she found much 

* more interesting than washing dishes or sweep 

ing floors. True, she always did whatever do 



mestic duty she was told to do; but her bo^tisat down 



though they seemed to notice nothing, must, 
in reality, have noticed every thins;. 

" I've brought my daughter, ma'am, as you 
-ent word you'd take on trial," said Mrs. 
Hand, __ addressing herself to Selina, who, as 
the tallest, the best dressed, and the most ifl) 
posing, was usually regarded by strangers as 
the head of the family. 

"Oh. Joanna, mv dear." 

Miss Leaf came forward, rather uncertainly , 
for she was of a shy nature, and had been so 
long arcup'omed to do the servant's work of 
i ho housel old, that she felt quite awkward in 
the character of mistress. Instinctively she 
hid her poor hands, that would at once have 
betrayed her to the sharp eyes of the working- 
woman, and then, ashamed of'her/nomentary 
r al8e pride, laid, them outside, her apron and 



was not in the household line. She had only 
lately learned to " nee dust," to make a pud- 



"Wiii vou take a chair, Mrs. Hand? My 
sister told you, I believe, all our requirements 



4 



Distress and maid. 



We only want a good, intelligent girl. Weareling'only, "Good,-b>, Lizabeth," with a nod, 

willing to teach her every thing." half-encouraging, half-admonitory, which Eli- 

,f Thank you, Kindly ; and I be willing and salieth silently returned. That was all the 

glad for her to learn, ma'am," replied the parting between mother and daughter ; they 



mother, her sharp and rather free tone subdued 
in spite of herself by the gentle voice, of Hiss 
Leaf. Of course, living in the same country 
town, she knew all about the three schoo'-mis- 
tresses, and how till now they had kept no 
servant. "It's her firft place,* and hev'll be 
awk'ard at first, m Hold 

head, Lizabeth." 



neither kissed nor shook hands, which unde- 
monstrative farewell somewhat surprised Hil- 
ary. 

Now, Miss Hilary Leaf had all this, while 
gone on toasting. Luckily for her bread the 
tire was low and black; meantime, from 
up pdurlhind lfer long drooping curls (which Johar 

I would not let her ''turn up," though she was 



"Is her name Elizabeth '.'" twenty), she was making her observations or. 

"Fartoo loftg and too fine," bbsen - a the new servant. It might be that, possessing 

from the sofa. "Call her Betty." more head than the one and more heart than 



"Any thing you please, Miss ; but I call her 
Lizabeth. It wor my young missis's name in 
my first place, and I never had a second." 

•' We will call her Elizabeth," said Miss 
Leaf, with the gentle decision she could use 
on occasion. 

There was a little more discussion between 
the mother and the futui^: mistress as to hol- 
idays, Sundays, and so on, during which time 
the new servant stood silent and impassive in 
the door-way between the back kitchen and 
the kitchen, or, as it is called in those regions, 
the house-place. 

As before said, Elizabeth was by no means 



the other, Hilary was gifted with deeper pie 
ception of character than cither of her sister.-, 
but certainly her expression, as she watched 
Elizabeth, was rather amused 'and kindly than 
dissatisfied. 
' " Now, girl,- take off your bonnet," said Se- 
Iina, to whom Johanna had silently appealed 
in her perplexity as to the next proceeding 
with regard to the new member of the house- 
hold. 

Elizabeth obeyed, and then stood, irresolute, 
awkward, and wretched to the last degree, at 
the furthest end of the house-place. 

"Shall I show you where to hang up your 



a personable girl, and her clothes did not set thing"? ?'" said Hilary, speaking for the first 
her off to advantage. Her cotton frock hung' time : and at the new voice, so quick, cheerful, 
in straight lines down to her ankles, displaying and pleasant, Elizabeth visibly. start 
her clumsily shod feet aind woolen stockings ; Miss Hilary rose from her knees, crossed 
above it was a pinafore — a regular child's pin- the kitchen, took from the girl's unresisting 
afore, of the cheap, strong, blue-speckled print hands the old black bonnet and shawl; and 
which in those days Was generally worn. A. lit- hung them up carefully on a nail behind the 
tic shabby shawl, pinned at the throat, and pin- g lay clock. It was a simple action. 

ned Very carelessly and crookedly- with an old do: |tiite withoutintention,andacceptedwith- 
black bonnet, much too small jfor her large ioni acknowledgment, except one quick glance 
head and her quantities of ill b at keen, yet soft grey eye: but years and 

plet» -rumc [tdid . - after Elizabeth reminded Hilary of it. 

ably a lady who, being. < gbeen, And now Elizabeth stood forth 'in her own 

handsome herself, was as much alive ttnproper likeness, unconcealed by bonnet or 
appearances as the second Mjss Leaf, awl. or maternal protection. The pinafore 

She made several rather depreciatory c iarcely covered her gaunt neck and long 

vations, and insisted strongly that the new ser- arms : that tremendous heal of rough, dusky 
vant shouli only be taken "on trial," with'hair was evidently for the first time gathered 
no obligation to keep her a lay longer than. into a comb. Thence elf-locks escaped in all 
they wished. Her feeling on the matter com- directions, and were forever being pushed be- 
municated itself to Johanna, who closed the hind her ears, or rubbed (not* smoothed : there 
negotiation with Mrs. Hand, by saying. was nothing smooth about her) back from her 

"Well,' let us hope your daughter will suit forehead, which, Hilary noticed, was low, 



us. We will give he! • : dr ha at all 
events." 

" Which is all 1 can ax for, Mis;- Leaf. 



broad, and full, The rest of her face, except, 
the before-mentioned eyes was absolutely and'i 
undeniably plain. Her figure, so far as the* 



Her bean't much to look a', bat tier's willin'lpiuafore exhibited it, was undeveloped and J 
and sharp, and tier's never told me a be in \ ungainly, the chest being contracted and thf- * 
her life. Courtesy to thy ndssie ' ->ay sh'otilders rounded, as ' if with carrying child-t 
thee'lt do thy best. Lizabeth." ren orother w< - idle stiil a growing girl . 

Fulled itorward did ephitesy, but In fact, nature arid circumstances had appa 

she; never offer' e«*« imited in dealing unkindly with Eli 

fueling that fur ail pi iad,beth '' 



better be shortened, roe from her chair. 



Mr*. Hfrmi tookth' kih( I id departed, say-; with her? 



Still hei as ; and what wae to be done 



RBC 



MISTRESS A^D MAID. 



«" 



Having sent her with the small burden, 
which was apparently all her luggage, to'the 
little room — formerly a box-closet — where she 
was to sleep, t lie Misses Leaf — or as facetious 



" I think, sisters, we are forgetting tha*. 

the staircase is quite open, and though I am 

sure she has an honest look and not that of a 

listener, still Elizabeth might hear. Shall I 

iighbors called them, the Miss Leaves — call her down stairs, and tell her to light a 



took serious counsel together over their tea. 

Tea itself suggested the first difficulty. They 
were always in the habit of taking that meal, 
and indeed every other, in the kitchen. It 



fire in the parlor?" 

Whilesheis doing it, and in spite of Selina's 
forebodings to the contrary, the small maiden 
did it quickly and well, especially after a hint 



saved time, trouble, and fire, besides leaving or two from Hilary — let me take the opportu- 



ne parlor always tidy for callers, chiefly pu 
nils' parents, and preventing these latter from 
discovering tin; 1 the three orphan daughters 
of Henry Leaf, Esq., solicitor, and sisters of 
Henry Leaf, Junior, Esq., also solicitor, but 



nity of making a little picture of this same Hi: 
ary. 

Little it should be, for she was a decidedly 
little woman : small altogether, hands, feet, 
and figure being in satisfactory proportion. 



whose sole mission in life seemed to havebeenjHer movements, like those of most little wo- 
to spend every thing, make every body miser- men> . wtre ]j g ht and quick rather than en- 
able, marry, and die. that these three ladies gant . yet every thing she did was done vith a 
did always wait upon themselves at meal-time, 'neatness and delicacy which gave an involnn- 
and did sometimes breakfast without hutter,' tarv sense of grace and harmony. She was, 
and djne without meat. Now thiB system^ brief, one of those people who aw 
would not do any longer. 'scribed bv the word " harmonious :" pent-:' 

isides, there is no need for it," said I- wno neV er set vour teeth on edge, or rub 



ary, cheerfully. " I am sure we can well 
afford both to keep and to ,feed a servant, 
and to have a fire in the parlor every day. 
Why not take our meals there, and sit there 
regularly of evenings ?" 

14 We.mu.ft," added Selma; decidedly. ''For 
my pails I couidi 
with that great 

opposite, or standing: for how could we ask 
her to sit with us ? Already, what must she 
have thought of us — people who take tea in 
the kitchen?" 

" I do not think that matters," said the el- 
dest sister, gently, after a moment's*silence. 
" Every body in the town knows who and 
what we are. or might, if they chose to in- 
quire. We cannot conceal our poverty if we 
tried : and I don't think -any body looks down 
upon us for it. Not e'ven snjpe we began to 



up the wrong way, as very excellent people 
occasionally do. Yet she was not over-meek 
or unpleasantly amiable: there was a liveli- 
ness and even briskness about her. as if the 
every day wine of her life had a spice of Charti- 
pagniness, not frothiness but riatural efferves- 



't eat. or sew. or do any thing cence f 8p j r j tj meant to " chee not ine 

! girl sitting staring briate" a household. 

And in her own household this gift was 
displayed. No centre of a brilliant, admiring 
circle could be more charming,' -more witty, 
more irresistibly amusing than was Hilary 
sitting by the kitchen fire, with the oat on her 
knee, between her two sisters, and the sell 
boy Ascoit Leaf, their nephew — which four 
individuals, the cat being not the least impor- 
tant of them, constituted the family. 

In the family, Hilary shone supreme. K. 
keep school, which" vou Thought, was "siicii'a ' recognized her 'as the light of the house, andso 
terrible thing, Selina." | 9 ; )e " aa " been, ever since she was born, ever 

" And it was. I have never reconciled my- ; smce " er 
self to teaching the baker's two boys and the -Dving mother mild, 

grocer's little giri. You were wrong, J han-| gaid, with accents nndefi(e& 

na, you ought to hare drawn the line some- . 'Child, be mother to this chHO."-> 

where, and it ought to have excluded trades- 
people." H wa8 sai( » t0 Johanna Leaf — who was no; 
Beggars can not be choosers.'' began Hil- Mrfl - Leaf's own child. But the good step- 
mother, who had once taken the little mother- 
less girl to her bosom, and never since mad?. 
the slightest difference between her and her 
own children, knew well whom she was trus- 
ting. . 

From that solemn hour, in the middie oi 
the night, when she lifted the hour-old baby 
out of its dead mother's bed into lrer own,, it 



"Beggars !" echoed Selina. ' 

" No, my dear, we were never that,'"' said 
Miss Leaf, interposing against one of the sud- 
den storms that were often breaking out be- 
tween these two. " You know well we have 
never begged or borrowed from any body, and 
r hardly ever been indebted to any body, except 

for the extra iessons that Mr." Lyon would! became Johanna's one object in life. Through 
insist upon giving to Ascott at .home." a sickly infancy, for it was a child born 

Here Johanna suddenly stopped, and Ilil-jamidst trouble, her sole hands washed, dres- 
ary, with a slight colorrising in her faceted, fed it; night and day it ''lay in her 
said— j bosons, and was unto her as a daughter." 



MI3TRBS& AND MAID. 



She was then just thirvy ; not too old to 
look forward to woman's natural destiny, a 
husband and children of her own. But years 
clipped by, and she was Miss Leaf still. What 
matter! Hilary was her daughter. 

Johanna's pride in her knew no bounds. 
Not that she showed it much-: indeed slit 
deemed it a sacred duty not ow it ; but 

to mak' h ;hil - just like 

other, childreu. But she was not. Nobody 
ever thought sh< was — even in externals.— 
Fate gave her all those gifts which are some- 
times sent to make up for the lack 'of world!) 
prosperity. Her brown eyes. Were as soft a;- 
loves' eyes, yet could dance with tun and mis 
chiefif they cliche ; her hair, brown also, with 
a dark-red shade in it, crisped 'itself in two 
wavy Hoes over hor forehead, and then turn 
bled down ip two glorious masses, which Jo 
hanna, ignorant, alas! 
'•untidy," and labored 

combs, or to arrange, in proper, regular curls 
Her features — well, they feo, were good ;> bet 
ter.than those unartietic people had any idea 
-better even thanSelina*s, who in her youth 
had been the belle of the town. But whethei 
artistically correct or not, Johanna, though 
she would on no account have acknowledged 
it, believed solemnly that there was not such 
a face in the whole world as little Hillary's. 

Possibly a similar idea dawned upon the 
apparently dull mind of Elizabeth Hand, for 
*he watched her vounsest mistress intent! 



of ■ art, called very 
I) vain to quel! undei 



I hope never again to Pee Aunt Jpha 
cleaning the stairs, and getting up to light the 
kitchen fire of winter mornings, as she will 
lo if we have not a servant to do it for her. 
Don't you fcee, Ascott?" 

"Oh, I see," answered the boy, carelei 
•' But don't bother me, please. Domestic af- 
fairs are for women, not men." Ascott wa- 
eighteen, and just about to pass out of his cat- 
erpillar state as a doctor's apprentice-lad into 
die chrysalis condition of a medical student in 
London. " But," with sudden reflection, " 1 
hope she. won'i be in my way. Don't let her 
meddle with any of my books and things." 

"No: you need not be afraid. I have put 
hem all into your room. I myself; cleared 
your rubbish out of the box closet-*-" 

"The box-ck>8«t! Now, really, L can't 
stand — " 

" She is to sleep in the box-closet ; when 
sould she sleep?'" said Hilary, resolutely, 
though inly quaking a little; for somehow. 
fhe merry, handsome, rather exacting lad 
had acquired considerable influence in this. 
household of women. "You must put up 
with the loss of your ' den," Ascott ; it would 
be a great shame it you did not, for the sake 
of Aunt Johanna and the rest of us." 

"Um !" grumbled the. boy, who, though he 
was not a bad fellow at heart, bad a boy'? 
dislike to " putting up" with 
convenience.. " Well, it won't ig. J 

shall be off shortly. What a jollv lift l'" 

: .' • ■- u . 



ie watcneu ner youngest mistress intently. 
from kitchen to parlor, and from parlor back 1 have in London, Aunt .Hi! 
to kitchen: and once when Miss Hilary stood -Lyon there too." 

giving information a? to the proper abode oij "Yes," said Aunt Hilary, briefly, ne 
broom, -bellows, etc., the little maid gazed aldng to Dido and >Eneas : humble and eas* 
her with such' admiring observation that the Latinity for a student of eighteen ; but . 
scuttle she carried was tilted, and the coals Lw as not a brilliant boy, and, being apprenticed' 
were strewn all over the kitchen floor. At early, his education had been much neglected. 
which catastrophe Miss Leaflooked miserable, till Mr. Lyon came as usher to the Stpwb.ur; 
Miss Selina spoke crossly. -and Ascotr, who grammar-school, and happening to meet and 
just then came'in to'his tea,Tate as usual, hurst j take an interest in him, taught him and his 
into a shout of laughter Aunt Hilary Latin, Greek, arid mathems 

It was as much as Hilary could do to help, together, of evenings, 
aughing herself, she being too near heme- I shall make no mysteries here. Human 
phew'sowh age always to maintain a dignified nature" is human nature all the world over. 
aUnt-like attitude,, but nevertheless, . when, A tale vyithout love in it would be nviwr. 
having' - : r's in the parlor, i.unreal — in fact, a simple lie ; for there are no 

she coaxed Ascott into the school-room, andjhistories and no lives without love in them : 
insisted upon his Latin beihgdone — she help- if there could be, Heaven pity and pardon 
ing him, Aunt Hilary -.elded him well, and them, for they would be mere abortions o 
bound him over to keep the peace toward the raamtj . 
new servant. • Thank Heaven, we, most of ub, dot 

"But she is such a queer one. Exactly like; soph ize; we only live. We like one anof 
a South Sea Islander. When she stood withjwe hardly know why: we love one another, 
her grim, stolid countenance, contemplating'; we still less know why. If on the day -):■■ 
the cOalq—-oh, Aunt Hilary, how killing she|firstsaw — in church it was — Mr. Lyon's grave, 
.was !" | heavy-browed, somewhat severe face — for t 

And the regular, rollicking, irresistible boy-jwas a Scotsman, and his sharp, strong Scotch 
laugh broke, out again. '-features did look " hard" beside the soft, rosy 

"She will be great fun. Is she really toj well-conditioned youth of Stowbury — ifonthai 
stay?" ;Sunday any one had told Hilary Leaf tha' 

" I hope so," said Hilary, trying to be grave. -the faceof this stranger was to be the one fac* 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



of her life, stumped upon brain and heart* and 
soul with avividness that no other impressions 
were alrong enough to efface, and retained 
there with a tenacity that no vicissitudes of 
time, or place, or fortunes had power to alter, 
Hilary wouh] — yes, I think she would — have 
quietly kept looking ou. She would have ac-i 
1 her lot,"sucu as it was, with its shine] 
-hade, its joy and its anguish; it came to! 
ler Without her seeking, as most of the solemn! 
things in life do : and whatever it brought with 
it, it could hjave come from no other source 
than that from which ail high,' and holy, and 
pure loves ever must come — the will and per- 
mission of God. 

Mr. Lyon himself requires no long descrip- 
tion. In his first vwft he had told Miss Leaf 
all ajoout himself that there was to be known : ' 
that he was, as they were, a poor teacher, who] 
had altogether "made himself/' as so many, 
Scotch students do. His father, whom he 
scarcely remembered, had been a small Ayr- 
shire farmer ; his mother was dead, and he 
had ne\ l er had either brother or sister. 

Seeing how clever Miss Hilary was, and how 
much as a schoolmistress -she would-need all 
the education she could get, he had offered to 
teach her along with her nephew ; and she 
and Johanna were only too thankful for the 
advantage. But during the teaching he had 
also taught her another thing, which neither 
had contemplated at the time — "to respect him 
with her whole soul, and to love him with her 
whole hear:. 

Over this simple fact let no more be now 
aid. Hilary said nothing. She recognized 
it hersell as soon as he was gone; a plain, sad, 
solemn truth, which there was no deceiving; 
herself did not exist, even had she wished its! 
non-existence. Perhaps Johanna also found; 
it cut, in her darling's extreme paleness andi 
unusual quietness for awhile; but she too said] 
nothing. Mr. Lyon wrote regularly to Ascott, j 
and once or twice to hevMiss Leaf ;• but 
though every one knew that Hilary was his' 
particular friend in the whole family, he -did 
not write to Hilary. He had departed rather 
suddenly, on account o'f some plan which he 
said, affected his future very considerably : but 
Irhich,- though lie was in the habit of telling 
them his affairs, he did not further explain. 
BUI] Johanna knew he *v »ood man, a:, J 

though no man could be quite good enough 



him, -h 



trusted 



for her darling, she liked 
him. 

What Hilary felt none knew. Bu; 

girlish in some things; and her life, was 
all before her, full of infinite- hope. By-and- 
by her color returned, and her merry voice and 
laugh w< i .-J about the house jiost as 

usual. # 

This being the position of affairs, it was not 
jsurprising that after Ascott's last speech Hil- 
ary r s mind wandered from Dido and Mne&a to 



vague listening, as the lad began talking of his 
grand future — the future of a medical student, 
all expenses being paid by his godfather, Mr. 
Ascott, the merchant, of Russell Square, once 
a shop boy of Stowhury. Nor was it unnatu- 
ral that all Ascott's anticipations of London 
resolved themselves, in his aunt's eyes, into 
the one fact that he would "see Mr. Lyon." 

But in telling thus much about her mistres- 
ses, I have for the time being lost sight of Eli- 
zabeth Hand. 

Left to herself, the girl stood for a minute 
or two looking around her in a confused man- 
ner, then, rousing her faculties, began mechan- 
ically to obey the order with which her mis- 
tress had quitted the kitchen, and to wash up 
the tea-things. She did it in a fashion that, 
if seen, would have made Miss Leaf thankful 
that the ware was only the common set, and 
not the cherished china belonging to former 
days : still she did it, noisily it is true, but 
actively, as if her heart were in her Work. 
Then she took a candle and peered about her 
new domains. 

These were small enough, at least they 
would have seemed so to other eyes than Eli- , 
zabeth's ; for, until the school-room and box- 
closet above had been kindly added by the 
landlord, who would have done any thing to 
show his respect- for the Misses Leaf, it had 
been 'merely a six-roomed cottage — parlor, 
kitchen, back kitchen, and three upper cham- 
bers. It was a very cozy house notwithstand- 
ing, and it seemed to Elizabeth's eyes a perfect 
pala.ee. . 

For several minutes more .-.he stood and 
contemplated her kitchen, with the lire shining 
on the round oaken stand in the centre, and 
the large wooden-bottomed chairs, and the 
loud-ticking clock, with its tall case, the inside 
of which, with its pendulum and weights, had 
been a perpetual mystery and delight, first to 
Hilary's and then to Ascott's childhood. Then 
there was the sofa, large and ugly, but, oh ! so 
comfortable, with its faded, tlowered chintz, 
washed and worn for certainly twenty years. 
And, overall, Elizabeth's keen observation was 
attracted by a queer machine apparently made 
of thin rope and bits of wood, which hung up 
to the hooks on the ceiling — an old-fashioned 
baby's swing. Finally, her eye dv 
content on the blue and red diamond 
floor, so easily swept and mopped, and (only 
Elizabeth did not think of that, for her hard 
childhood had been all work and no play) so 
beautiful to whip tops upon ! Hilary and As- 
cott, condoling together over the new servant, 
congratulated themselves that their delight in 
this occupation had somewhat faied, though it 
was really not so many years ago since one of 
the former's pupils, coming suddenly out of 
the school-room, had caught her in the act of 
whipping a meditative top round this same 
kitchen floor. 



8 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



Meantime Elizabeth penetrated farther, in-J " What has the girl broken ?" cried Selina. 
vestigating the back kitchen, with its variousj " Where ha9 she hurt herself?" anxiously 
conveniences; especially the pantry, everyiadded Johanna, 
shelf of which was so neatly arranged and Hilary said nothing, but ran for a light, and 



beautifully clean. Apparently this neatness 
impressed the girl with a.sense of novelty and 
curiosity ; and though shecould hardly be said 
to meditate — her mind was not sufficiently 
awakened for that— still, as she stood at the 
kitchen fire, a slight thoughtfulness deepened 
the expression of her face, and made it less 
dull and heavy than y) had at first appeared. 

" I wonder which on /em does it all. 'They 
must work pretty hard, I reckon; and two p! 
them's such little uns." 

She stood a while longer ; for sitting down 
appeared to be to Elizabeth as new a proceed 
ing as thinking; then she went up stairs, still 
literally obeying orders, to shut windows and 



then picked up first the servant, then the can- 
dle, and then the fragments of crockery. 

" Why, it's my ewer, my favorite ewer, and 
it'=, all smashed to bits, and I never can match 
it again. You careless, clumsy, good-for-no- 
thing creature !" 

"Please, Selina,'' whispered her eldest sis- 
ter. 

li . Very well, Johanna. .You are the mis- 
tress, I suppose ; why don't you speak to your 
servant?" 

Miss Leaf, in an humbled, alarmed \\ ay, first 
satisfied herself that no bodily injury had been 
sustained by Elizabeth, and then asked he: 



how this disaster had happened '.' For a seriou? 
pull down blinds at nightfall. The bedrooms Ijsaster she felt it was. Not onlj was the 
were small, and insufficiently, nay, shabbily; present loss annoying, but a servant with 8 
furnished; but the floors were spotless — ah ! talent for crockery breaking would be a far too 
poor Johauna ! — and the sheets, though patch- expensive luxury for them to think of retain-, 
ed and darned to the last extremity, weie «diite ing. And she had been listening in the soli- 
and whole. Notning was dirty, nothing unti- rude of the parlor to a long lecture from her 
dy. There was no attempt at picturesque always dissatisfied younger sister, on thegreat 
poverty — for whatever novelists may say, pov- doubts Selina had about Elizabeth's "suil- 
erty can not be picturesque; but all things ine-" 



were decent and m order. The house, poor as 
it was, gave the impression of belonging to 
"real ladies ;" ladies who thought no manner 
of work beneath them, and who, whatever 
they had to do, took the pains to do it as well 
as possible. 

Mrs. Band's roughly-brought-up daughter 
had never been in such a house before, and 
her examination of every new corner of it 
seemed quite a revelation.. Her own. little 
sleeping nook was fully as tidy and comfortable 



"Come, now," seeing the girl hesii 
" tell me the plain truth. How was ft 

"It was the cat," sobbed Elizabeth. 

"What a barefaced falsehood !" exclaimed 
Selina. " You wicked girl, how could it pos- 
sibly be the cat? Do you know that you are 
telling a lie, and that lies are hateful, and that 
all liars go to — " 

"Nonsense, hush!" interrupted Hilar), 
rathersharply; forSelina's "tottgue," theterror 
of her childhood, now merely annoyed her. 



as the rest, which fact was not lost upon Eliza- Selina's temper was a long understood house- 
beth. That bright look of mingled softness) hold fact — they did not much mind it, knowing 
and intellincence — the onlv thine which beau- that her bark was worse than her bite — but it 



:ified her rugged face — came into the girl's 
.-yes as she "turned down" ,the truckle-bed, 
and felt the warm blankets and sheets, new 
and rather coarse, but neatly sewed.' 

" Her's made 'em hersel', 1 reckon* La '." 
VVh'eh of her mistresses the ".her" referred 
to remained unspecified ; but. Elizabeth, spur- 
red to action by some new idea, went briskly 
back into the bedrooms, and looked abo: 
see if there was any thing she could find to 



was provoking that she should exhibit hersel! 
so soon before the new servaut. 
• The latter first looked up at the lady with 
simple surprise ; then, as in spite of .the other 
two, Miss Selina worked herself up into a 
downright passion, and unlimited abuse fell' 
uponthe victim's devoted head, Elizabeth'^ 
manner changed. After onedogged repetit' 
of, " It was the cat !" not another word could' 
got out of her. She stopd, her eye=> fixeu 
do. At last, with a sudden inspiration, shejon the kitehen floor, her brows knitted, and 
peered into a wash-stand, and found there anjher under lip pushed out— the very picture ol 
smpty ewer. Taking it in one hand and the sullennees. Young as she was. Elizabeth evi- 
•jaridle in th , she ran down • de-ntly had, like her unfortunate mJstr 

Fatal activity! Hilary'., pet oat, -startled temper of her own" — a spiritual deforwjt) 
::i sleep on the kitchen hearth, at the same that some people are boin with, as otL 
ant ran wildly up stairs; there was a .start with hare-lip or club-foot; only, unlike these, 
—a stumble — and then down came the candle, it may be conquered, though the battle is long 
the ewer, Elizabeth, and all. and sore, sometimes endingonly with life. 

It was an awful crash. It brought ev^ry It had plainly never conTmenced with poor 
member of the family to. see what was the Elizabeth Hand. Her appearance, as she 
matter. [stood under the flood of sharp words poured 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



9 



out upon her, was absolutely repulsive. Even, 
Miss. Hilary turned away; and began to think 
it would have been easier to teach all day and 
do house-work half the niglft, than have the 
infliction of a servant— to say nothing of the 
disgrace of seeing Selina's "peculiarities" so 
exposed before a. stranger. ' 

She knew of old that to stop the torrent was 
impracticable. The only chance was 10 let 
Selina expend her wrath and retire, and then 
to take some' quiet opportunity of explaining 
to Elizabeth that sharp language was only 
" her way," and must be put up with. Hu- 
miliating as this was, and fatal to domestic 
authority that the first thing to be taught a 
new servant was to "put up" with one of her 
mistresses, still there was no alternative. — 
Hilary Lad already foreboded and made up 
her mind to such a possibility, but she had 
hoped it would not occur the very first even- 
ing- : 

It did, however, and its climax was worse 
even than she anticipated. Whether, irritated 
by the intense sullenness of the girl, Selina's 
temper was worse than usual, or whether, as is 
always thecase .vith people like her, something 
else had vexed her, and she vented it upon the 
first causeof annoyance thatoccurred, certain it 
is that her tongue went on unchecked till it 
failed from sheer exhaustion. And then, as 
she flung herself on the sofa — oh, sad mis 
chance ! — she caught sight of her nephew 
standing at the 'school-room door, grinning 
with intense delight, and making faces at her 
behind her back. 

It was too much. The poor lady had no 
more words left to scold with ; but she rushed 
up to Ascott, and big lad as he was, she 
soundlv boxed his ears. 

On this terrible climax let the curtain fall. 



CHAPTER II. 

Common as were the small feuds between 
Ascott and his Aunt Selina, they seldom 
reached such a catastrophe as that described 
in my last chapter. Hifciry had to fly to the 
rescue, and literally drag the furious lad back 
into the school-room ; while Johanna, pale 
and trembling, persuaded Selina to quit the 
field and go and lie down. This was not dif 
ficult ; for the instant she saw what she had 
done, how she had disgraced herself and in- 
sulted her nephew. Selina felt sorry. Her 
passion ended in a gush of " nervous" tear6. 
under the influence of which she was led up 
stairs and put to bed, almost like a child— the 
usual termination of these pitiful outbreaks. 

For the time nobody thought of Elizabeth. 
The hapless cause of all stood "spectatress of 
the fray" beside her kitcheu fire. What she 
thought aietory s&ith uo\, WJ>*b<?r in hex 



own rough home she was used to see brothers 
'and sisters quarrelling, arid mothers boxing 
their childrens' ears, can'not be known; 
whether she was or was ijot surprised to eee 
the same proceedings among ladies and gen- 
tlemen, she never betrayed, but certain it is 
that the little servant becaine uncommonly 
serious ; yes, serious rather than sulky, for 
lur " black" looks vanished gradually, as soon 
as Miss Selina left, the kitchen. 

On the reappearance of Miss Hilary it had 
quite gone. But Hilarr took no notice of 
her; she was in search of Johanna, »ho, sha- 
king and cold with agitation, came slowly 
down stairs. • 

" Is she gone to bed ?" 
' Yes, my dear. It was the best thing for 
her: she is not at all well to-day." 

Hilary's lip curled a little, but she replied 
not a word. She had not the. patience with 
Selina that Johanna had. She drew her elder 
sister into the little parlor, placed her in the 
arm-chair, shut the door, came and sat beside 
her, and took her hand. 

Johanna pressed it, shed a qu ret tear or 
two, and wiped them away. Thtyi the two 
sisters remained silent, with, hearts sad and 
sore. 

Every family has its skeleton in the'house; 
this was theirs. Whether they acknowledged 
it or not, they knew quite well that every dis- 
comfort they had, every slight jar which dis- 
turbed the current of household peace, some- 
how or other originated with " poor Selina." 
They often called her " poor" with a sort of 
pity— not unneeded, Heaven knows ! for if the 
unhappy are to be pitied, ten times more 60 
are those who make others miserable. 

This was Selina's case, and had been all her 
life. And, sometimes, she herself knew it. 
Sometimes, after an especially bad outbreak, 
her compunction and remorse would be almost 
a* terrible as her passion ; forcing her sisters 
to make every excuse for her ; she " did not 
mean it," it was only "ill health," or "nerves," 
or hei " unfortunate way of taking things." 

But they knew in their hearts that not all 
their povertv and the toils it entailed, not all 
the hardships and humiliation of their chang- 
ed estate, were half so bitter to bear as this 
something — no moral crime, and yet in its 
results as fatal as crime — which they called 
Selina's " wav." 

Asnott was the only "one who did. not attempt 
to mince matter'3. When a little boy he had 
openly declared he hated Aunt Sslina; when 
he grew up he as openly defied her , and it 
was a most difficult matter to keep even de- 
cent peace between them. Hilary's wrath 
had never gone further than wishing Selina 
was married, that appearing the easiest way 
of getting rid of her. Latterly she had ceased 
this earnest aspiration ; it might be, because, 
fearoip^ to think, tpojre eetiously of marri*^ 



w 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



she felt that a woman who is no blessing in 
her own household, is never likely much to 
bless a husband"* ; and that, looking stil-l 
farther forward, it wis, on the whole, a mercy 
of Providence, which made Selina not the 
mother of children* 

Yet her not marrying had been somewhat a 
surprise; for she hail been attractive in her 
day, handsome and agreeable in society. But 
perhaps, for all that, the sharp eye of the op 
posite sex had discovered the cloven foot; 
since, though she had received various prom is 
ing attentions, poor Selina hail never had an 
offer. Nor, fortunately, had she ever been 
known to care for* any body ; she was one of 
those women who would have married as a 
matter of course, but who never would have 
been guilty of the weakness of falling in lo\e. 
There seemed small probability of shipping 
her off, to carry into a new household tfie 
iestlessness; the fretfulness, the captious fault- 
fin ling. with others, the readiness to take. of- 
fence at what was done and said to herself, 
winch made poor Selina Leaf theunaeknow 
leoVed grief and torment of her own. 

Her two sisters sat silent. What was th^ 
us? of talking? . It would be only going Gvei 
and over a<jain the old tiling; trving to ease 
and shift a little the long familiar burden 
which they knew must be borne. Nearly 
every household ha a , near or remote, some 
such burden, which Heaven only can lift off 
or help to bear. And sometimes, looking, 
round the world ontsiile, these two congratu- 
lated themselves, in a half s,ort of way,- that 
theirs was as light as It was ; that Selina was. 
after all, a well-meaning well-principled wo 
man, and, in spite of her little tempers, realh 
fond of her family, as she truly was. at least as 
fond as a nature which lias its eehtre in self 
can manage to be. 

Only when Hilary looked, as tonight, into 
her eldest sister's pale face, where year by year 
the line^ were deepening, and saw how even 
agitatioirsuoh as the p resent shook her more 
and n. ore — she who ought to have a quiet life 
and a cheerful home, after so many hard year- 
— then Hilary, fierce in the resistance of her 
youth, felt as ifwhat she could have borne foi 
herself she could not bear for Johanna, and 
at the moment, sympathized with Ascott in 
setuaHy '"hating" Aunt Selina. 

" Where is that boy ? He ought to be spo 
ken to," Johanna 'jaid, at length, rising wea 
rily. 

" I have spoken to him : I gave him a good 
scolding. He ib sorry, and promises never to 
be >© rude again." 

''Oh no; not till the next time," replied 
Mi**s Leaf, hopele66ly. " But Hilary," with 
a 6udden consternation, "what are we to do 
about, Elizabeth ?" • 

The younger &ist«r had thought of that. She 
jjftd tQroed over i& Jjer ujir/J all the proe aod 



eons, the inevitable " worries" that would re- 
sult from the presence of an additional mem- 
ber of the family, especially one from whom 
•lie family skeleton could not be hid. to whom 
it was already only too fatally revealed. * 

But Hilary was a clear-headed girl, and she 
had the rare faculty of seeing things as they 
really were, undistorted by her own likings or 
dislikings — in fart, without reference to herself 
at all. She perceived plainly that Johanna 
ought not to do the housework, that Stlina 
would not. and that she could not: ergo, they 
must keep a servant. Better, perhaps, a s mall 
servant, over whom 'hey could havethesame 
influence as o\er a child, than one older and 
more independent, who would irritate her 
mistresses at home, and chatter of them 
abroad. Besides, they had promised Mrs. 
Hand to give her daughter a fair trial. For a 
month, then, Elizabeth was bound to stay ; 
afterward, time would show. It was best not 
to meet troubles half way. 

This explained, in Hilary's cheerful voice, 
seemed greatly to reassure and comfort Ker 
sister. 

" Yes, love, you are right : she must remain 
her month out, unless she does something very 
wrong. Do you think that reallv was a lie 
she told ?" 

■" About the cat? I don't quite know what 
to think. Let us call her,' and nut the ques- 
tion once more. Do you put it, Johanna. I 
don't think she could look at'you and tell you 
a story." 

Other people, at sight of thrjt sweet, grave 
face, its bloom faded, and Iiairo silvered long 
before their time, yet beautiful, with an al- 
most childlike simplicity and childlike peace 
— most other people would have been of Hil- 
ary's opinion. 

" Sit down ; I'll call her. Dear me, Johan- 
na, we shall have to set up a bell as well as a 
servant, unless we had managed to combine 
the two." 

But Hilary's harmless' little joke failed to 
make her sister smile ; and the entrance of the 
sirl'seemed to excite positive* appreben 
How was it possible to make excuse to a sen 
va«t for her mistress's shortcomings? how 
scold for ill-doing this young girl., to. whom,, 
ere she had been a night in the house, so bad 
an example had been set? TTohanna hali 'ex- 
pected Elizabeth to take a leaf out of Selina'B 
book, and begin abusing herself and Hilary. 

No: she stood very sheepish, very uncom- 
fortable, but not in the least bold or sulky— 
on the whole, looking rather penitent and 
humble. 

Her mistress took courage. 

"Elizabeth I wa»t you to tell me the truth! 
about that unfortunate breakage. Don't bd 
afraid. I had ratb& you brokeevery thing id 
the hou^e vjjwi ii«#vo void uje what waa udj 
trw." 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



11 



. »' It was true ; it was the cat." 

" How could that be possible ? You were 
*ommj? down stairs with the ewer in your 

^•Hercrot under" mv feet, and throwe.l me 
down, and so I tumbled, and smashed the 
thing agin the floor.' 



awkwaid at firs'. However, she succeeded in 
pouring out and carrving into the parlor, with- 
out accident, three p'latefuls of that excellent 
condiment which formed the frugal supper of 
the family' t.ut which tl.ey ate, 1 grieve to 
iay in an orthodox southern fashion, with. 
Bftear or treacle, until Mr. Lyon— greatly hoi- 



k ^ g.«-. at e.ch o.,«. ^ jk-s^j^iKia st" ~* 



torn of '• supping" porridge with milk. 

It mav be a very unsentimental thing to 
confess, but Hilary, "who even at twenty was 
rather practical than poetieal. never made the 
porridge without thinking of Robeit Lyon ; 
and the dav wjien he first stakl to supper, ann 
ate it, or as he said and was very much laugh- 
ed at, ate "them" with such infinite relish. 
Since then, whenever he came, he atwayi 
asked for his porridge, savins it carried nun 
hack to his childish days. And Hilary, with 
that curious pleasure that Avomen take in wait- 
in rr upon any one unto whom the heart is igm> 
ranify beginriinsrtOo.wn the allegiance, humbl* 
vet proud, of Miranda to Ferdinand: 

" To be your fellow 
You tmy de>.y me ; but I'll be your Berrant • 
Whether you will Or no." 



This version of the momentous event wan 
probable enough, and the girl's eager, honest 
manner gave internal confirmatory evidence 

prettv strong. ,, . , 

« I am sure she is telling the truth, said 
Hilarv. " And remember what her mother 
said about her word being always reliable. 

This reference was too much for. hlizabeth. 
She burst out, not into actual crying, but into 
a smothered choke. . 

" If you donnot believe me, missus, J d ra- 
ther go home to mother." . 

" l'do believe yOu,"said Miss Leaf, kind y : 
then waited till the pinafore, used as a poeke 
handkerchief, had dried up grief and restored 

composure. • , , . , 

" I can quite well understand the acciden 
now ; and I am sure if you had put it as plain 

■ &" mi :»^S£u£& H„a,v ahva,. contrived ,o n,a«e hi. sapP" 



wonder. She will be equally glad to find she 
was mistaken." , 

Here Miss Leaf paused, somewhat puzzled 
how to express what she felt it her duty to say. 
so as to be comprehended by the servant, and 
yp: not let down the dignity of the .amily. 
Hilary came to her aid. 

"Miss Selina is sometimes hasty ; t.ut she 
means kindly alwavs. You must take care 
not to vex her. Elizabeth ; and you must neve, 
answer her back again, however sharply she 
speaks. It is not your business ; you are onh 
a child, and she is" your mistress." ^ ^ - 
" Is her? I thought it was this im. 
The subdued clouding of Elizabeth's face, 
and her blunt pointing to Miss Leaf as "this 
; un." were too much tor Hilary's gravity 
She was obliged to relrea' to the press, and 
begin an imaginary search for a book. 

-Yes, I am the eldest, and I suppose you 
mav consider me specially as your mistress, 
said Johanna, simplv. " Remember always 
to come to me irt any difficulty ; and above 
all, to tell me every thins: outright, as soon as 
it happens. I can forgive you almost any 
fault, if vou are truthful and honest ; but there 
is one thing I never could forgive, and that Hj 
deception. Now eo with Miss Hilary, and 
she will teach you how to make the porridge 
for supper." 

Elizabeth obeyed «ilently \ she had appa 
rently a great gift, for silence. And she was 
certainly both obedient and willing; not stu- 
pid, either, though a nervousness of tempera 
ment which Hilarv was surprised to find mso 
big and coarse-looking- a girl, made her rather 



herself. 

Those pleasant davs were now -over. Mr. 
Lyon was gone. As she 'stool a'-one oven- the 
kitchen fire, she thought— ** now and then 
die let herself think for a minute or two in her 
busv prosaic life— of tlr.it August night, stand- 
ing at the front door, of his last "good-by. 
i ml last hand-clasp, tight, warm, and firm; 
and somehow she, like Johanna, trusted in 

' Not exactly in his love; it seemed almost 
i nposflible that he should Inverter, at least till 
die "few much more worthy of him than 
now -"but in himself, that he would never be 
less himself, less thoroughly good and true 
than now. That, some time, he would be sure 
to come hack again, and take up his o-d rel* 
lions with them, brightening their dull ate 
with his cheerfulness; infusiu* in their fenr.n 
ine household the new element of a c.ear, 
ptrono- energetic, manlv will, which spmetuner 
made Johanna sav that instead of twentydiv 
the voting man might be forty : and. anov 
all bringing into their poverty the s.lent sym- 
pathy of one who had fought his own battle 
with' the world— a hard one. too. as his face 
sometimes showed -though he never said 
much about it. 

Of the results of thi" pleasant relation - 
whether die. being theonly truly marriageable 
person in the house. Robert Lyon intended to 
marry her. or was expected to do so. or that 
society would think it a verv odd thing i he 
lid not do so— this unsophisticated Hilary 
never tho.. c /.a at all. If he had said to hei 
that the present state of things was to go ot 



13 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



forever ; she to remain always Hilary Leaf, 
and he Robert Lyon, tlie faithful friend of tlie 
family, she would have smiled in his face and 
been perfectly satisfied. 

True, she had never had any thing to drive 
away the smile from that innocent lace"; no 
vague jpalousies aroused ; no maddening ru- 
mors afloat in the small world that was his 
and theirs. Mr. Lyon was giave and sedate 
in all his ways; he never paid the slightest 
attention to, or expressed the slightest interest 
in, any woman whatsoever. 

And so this hapless girl laved him — just 
himself; without the s'ightest reference to hir 
"connections," for he had none; or his "pros 
pects," which, if he had any, she did not k'nov 
of. Alas ! to practical and prudent people 1 
can offer no excuse for her; excppt, perhaps 
what Shakspeare gives in the creation of tin 
poor Miranda. 

When the small servant reentered the kit 
chen, Hilary, with a half sigh, shook off" hei 
dreams, called Ascott out of (he school room 
and returned to the work-a-day world and tin 
family supper. 

This being ended, seasoned with a few quiei 
words administered - to Ascott, and which oi 
' the whole he took pretty well, it was nearh 
ten o'clock. 

" Far too late to have kept up such a chili? 
a6 Elizabeth ; we must not do it again," saiH 
Miss Leaf, taking down the large Bible with 
which she was accustomed to conclude tin 
day — Ascott's early hours at school and theii 
own house-work making' it difficult of morn 
ings. Very brief the reading was, sometime 1 - 
not more than half a dozen verses, with nr 
comment thereon ; she thought the Word of 
God might safely be left to expound itself 
Being a very humble-minded woman, she did 
not feel qualified to lead long devotional "ex 
ercises," and she disliked formal written pray 
ers. So she merely read the Bible to the 
family, and said after it the Lord's Prayer. 

But, constitutionally shy as Miss Leaf was 
to do even this in presence of a stranger cost 
her some effort; and it was onlv a sense of 
duty that made her say " yes" to Hilary's sug- 
gestion, '* I suppose we ought to call in Eliza- 
beth?" 

Elizabeth came. 

" Sit down," said her mistress : and she sal 
down, staring uneasily round about her, as if 
wondering what was going to befall her next. 
Very silent was the little parlor ; so small, 
that it was almost filled up by its large square 
piano, its six cane-bottomed chairs, and one 
easy chair, in which sat Miss Leaf with the 
great Book in her lap. 

"Can you read. Elizah-th ?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

" Hilary, giv^ her..' lit! !?." 

And so Elizabeth followed, guided by her 
DOt too clean finger, the words, read in that 



soft, low voice, somewhere out of the Hew j 
Testament; weds, simple enough for the 
comprehension, of a child or a heathen. The 
"South Sea Islander," as Ascott persieted in 
calling her, then, doing as the family did, 
turned round to kneel down ; but in her con- 
fusion she knocked overachair, causing Miss 
Leaf to wait a minute till reverent silence was 
restored. Elizabeth knelt, with her eyes fixed 
on the wall: it was a green paper, patterned 
with bunches* of nuts. How far she listened, 
->r how much she understood, it was impossi- 
>le to say ; but her manner was decent and 
lecorous. . 

" Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those , 
hat trespass, against us." Unconsciously Miss . 
leaf's gentle voice rested on these words, bo 
leeded in the daily life of every human being, 
ind especially of every family. Was she the 
inly one who thought of '•' poor Selina ?" 

They all rose from their knees, and Hilary 
->ut the Bible away. The little ser"ant " hung 
lbout," apparently uncertain what was next to 
'>e done, or what was expected of her to do. 
Hilary touched her sister. 

" Yes," said Miss Leaf, recollecting herself, 
»nd assuming the due authority, "it is quite - 
time for all the family to be in bed. Takecar? 
vf your candle, and mind and be up at six to- 



morrow morning. 



This was addressed to the new maiden, who 

Iropped a court esv, and 6aid, almost cheerful- 

'y, *: Yes, ma'am?' 
" Very well. Good night. Elizabeth." 
And following Miss Leaf's example, the 

other two. even Ascott, said civilly and kindly, 

'.' Good night, Elizabeth." 



CHAPTER III. 

The Christmas holjdaya ended, and Ascott 
left for London. It was the greatest household 
change the Misses Leaf had known for years, 
ind they missed hinr sorely. Ascott was not 
fxactly'a lovable boy, and yet, after the fash- 
ion of womankind, his aunts were both fond 
and proud of him; fond,. in their childless old 
maidenhood, of any sort of nephew, and proud, 
unconsciously, that the said nephew waeabig 
fellow, who could look over all their heads, 
besides being handsome and pleasant manner- 
ed, and though not clever enough to set Xhe 
Thames on fire, still sufficiently bright to make , 
them hope that in his future the family star 
might again rise. 

There was something pathetic in these three 
women's idealization -of him — even Selina'a, 
who though quarrelling with him to his. face 
always praised him behind his back — that 
great, good looking.la/v lad ; who, every body 
else saw clearly enough, thought more of his 
own noble self than of all hie aunts put to- 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



IS 



gether. The only person h« stood in awe of 
was Mr. Lyon — for whom he always protested 
unbounded respect and admiration. How far 
Robert Lyon liked Ascott even Hilary could 
never quite find out ; but he was always very 
kind to him. 

There was one person in the house who, 
strange to say, did not succumb to the all- 



Miss Leaf laughed, and the shadow vanish- 
ed from her face, as Hilary had meant it 
should. She only sai 1, caressing her, 

" Well, my pet, never mind. I hope you 
will have a real sweetheart some day." 

" I'm in no hurry, thank you, Johanna." 

But tiow was heard the knock after knock 

of the little boys and girls, and there began 

dominating youth. From the very first therelthat monotonous daily round of school labor, 

was a smouldering feud between him and Eli-|nsing from the simplicities of c. a, t, cat, and 



zabeth. Whether she overheard, and slowly 
began to comprehend his mocking gibesabout 
the "South Sea Islander," or whether her 
sullen and dogged spirit resisted the first at 
tempts the lad made to " put upon her" — as 
he did upon his aunts, in small daily tyrannies 
— was never found out ; but certainly Ascott 
the general favorite, found little favor with the 
new servant. She never answered when he 
"hollo'd" for her ; she resisted blacking his 
boots more than once a day ; and she obsti- 
nately cleared the kitchen fire-place of his 

messes," as she ignominiously termed va- 
rious pots and pans belonging to what he call- 
ed his '• medical studies." 

Although the war was passive rather than 
aggressive,' and sometimes a source of private 
amusement to the aunts, still, on the whole, it 
was a relief when the exciting cause of it de- 
parted ; his n*few and most gentlemanly port 
manteau being carried down stairs by Eliza 
beth herself, of her own accord, \vith an air of 
jheerful alacrity, foreign to her mien for some 
weeks past, and which., even in the midst of 
he iolorous parting, amused Hilary ex* 
remely. 

" 1 think that girl is a character," she said 
ifrerward to Johanna. "Any how she has 
juriously strong likes and dislikes." 

" You may say that, my dear; forshe bright 
;ne up whenever she looks at you." 

Does she? Oh, that must be because 1 
iave most to do with her. It is wonderful 



lOWj friendly one gets over sauce-pans and 
jrooms ; and what reverence one inspires in 
he domestic mind when one really knows 
iow to make a bed or a pudding.'.' 

" How I wish you had to do neither !" sigh- 
d Johanna, looking fondly at the bright face 
ind light, little figure that was flitting about, 
jutting the school-room to rights befoie the 
jupils came in. 

"Nonsense — I don't wish any such thing. 
3oing it makes me not a whit less charming 
ind lovely." She often applied these adjec- 
ives to herself, wiih the most perfect convic- 
ion that 6he was uttering a fiction patent to 
very body. I must be very juvenile also, for 



ij, o. g. dog — to the eublime keightsof Pmr.ock 
and Lennie, Telemaque and Latin Delectus. 
No loftier; Stowbury being well supplied with 
first class schools, and having a vaaue im- 
pression that the Misses Leaf, bom ladies and 
not brought up as governesses, were not com- 
petent educators except of very small child- 
ren. 

Which was true enough .fcntil lately. So 
Miss Leaf kept contentedly to the c. a, t, cat, 
and d, o, g, dog. ot the little butchers and ba- 
kers, as M'ss Selina, who taught only sewing, 
and came into the school-room but little du- 
ring the day, scornfully termed them. * The 
higl er branches such as they were, she left 
gradually to Hilary, who, of late, possibly 
out of sympathy with a friend of hers, had 
begun to show an actual gift for teaching 
school. . 

It is a gift — all will allow ;*a rid chiefly those 
who have it not, among which was poor Jo- 
hanna Leaf. The admiring envy with which 
she watched Hilary, moving briskly about 
from class toclass.with a word 'of praise toone 
and rebuke to another, keeping ? very one's at-* 
tention alive, spurring on the dull, controlling 
the unruly, and exercising over every member 
in this little world that influence, at once the 
.strongest and most intangible and inexplicable 
—personal influence — was only equaled by the 
way in v^iich, at pauses in the day's work, 
when it grew dull and monotonous, or when 
the stupidity of the children ruffled her own 
quick temper beyond endurance, Hilary watch- 
ed Johanna. 

The time I am telling of now is long ago. 
The Stowbury children, who were then little 
boys and girls, are now fathers and mothers — 
doubtless a large proportion being decent 
tradesfolk in Stowbury still ; though, in this 
locomotive quarter, many must have drifted, 
elsewhere — where, Heaven knows! But not 
a few of them may still call to mind Miss 
Leaf, who first taught them their letters — sit- 
ting in her corner between the fire and the 
window, while the blind was drawn dr wn to 
keep out, first the light from her own fading 
eyes, and, secondly, the districting view of 



'm certain' the fellow-passengpr at the station green fields and trees from the (youthful eyes 
d-day took niefor Ascorfs sweetheart. W.hefilby her side. They may remember still her 
re were saving good by, an old gentleman who dark plain dress and her white apron, on 
at next him was particularly sympathetic. !whii;h the primers, torn and dirty, looked half 
.nd you should have seen how indignantly iashaiued to lie; and-above all, her sweet face 
Uoott replied, " It's only my aunt !" jand sweeter voice, never heard in any thing 



14 



BIISTRESS AND MAID. 



sharper than that grieved tone winch signified 
their being " naughty chililren." They may 
retail Her 'unwearied* patience with the yen 
dullest and most wayward t<f them; her un 
failing sympathy with even infantile pleasure 



teaching her. because he said, she learned it 
la-ter than any of In* grammar school boys. 
Sin- had forgotten all domestic grievance* in a 
vird'on of Thetis ahd the water-nymphs ; and 
was repenting to herself, first in the sonorous 






Andi'thiuk thWwill acknowledge Greek, and then in Popes small br.t sweet 
that Vhc'.ber she taught then, mucW linlelEuglish, that catalogue ot ocean.. 
— in this' advancing 'age it might he thought 
jittJe— -Mfpf> Leaf taught them one thing— to 



ending With 



love her. Which, as lien .Johnson said of the 
Countess of Pembroke, was in iiself a " liberal 
education." 

Hilary, too. Often when Hilary's younger 
and more resiles* spirit chafed against thc 
monolonv o!' her life : when, instead of wasting 
her davs'iu teaoliidg small children, she would 
have liked to he learning, learning— every .lay 
growing wiser find cleverer, and stretching out 
mto that bus.:, bright, active world oi which 
Kobert Lyon had told her— then the sight <>l 
Johanna's' meek face bent over those dim, 
spelling hooks would at oi ce rebuk" and com 
further. She felt, after all, that she would 
not mind working on forever, «?o long as Jo 
hanna stili sat there. 

Nevertheless, tn.it winter seemed to her very 
long -especially after Ascott was gone. Foi 
Johanna, partly lor money. 
kindliness, lund, added to her day's work foui 
. evening's a week, when a halt educated mothei 
of one of her little pupils came to he »«*itight to 
write a decen'f ban I. and to keep the accounts 
of her shop. Upon which Selina. highly in 
dignant. had taken to spending ln«r evenings 
in the school room, interrupting Hilary's soli 
tary studies there by many a lamentation over 
the peaceful days when they all sat in the 
kitchen together and kept no servant. For 
Selina was" one ot those who never sa^ tin- 
bright side of any thing till it had gone by. 

'•I'm sure- I don't krow how w*are to man 
age -with Elizabeth! That greedy — " 
14 Anil growing." suggested Hilary. 
" 1 sav that greeds girl eats a« much as an\ 
two of us. A nd as for her clothes — her moth- 
er does not keep her even decent.'* 

"She would find it difficult upon three 
pounds a sear." 

" Hilary, how dare you contradict me ! 1 
am onlv stating a plain tact." 

•' And I ■another. But, indeed, I don't want 
to talk. Selina." 

'' You never dr., except when you arp wished 
to be silent ; and then your tongue goes like 
anv race horse." 

'•Does it? Well, like Gilpin's, 

' It carri* uviplit. it rides a race, 
ITtu fo; .; th'iixnnd pntind?' 

— an<l 1 onlv wish it were. Heigh ho! if 1 
coul I hut earn a thousand pounds !" 
Selina was i-io vexed to replv: am 
quiet minutes Hilarv Tient over her 



" Black Janiraand Janaisa fair, 
And Aniatheia with her amber hair." 

'.' Black, did you say ? I'm sure she wasai 
black as a chimney sweep all today. An, 
her pinafore 

•• Her what? Oh. Elizabeth, you mean— 

'•• Her pinafore had three rents in it, whicl 
she never ll'inks ot mending though 1 gavi 
her needles and threat! myself a week ago 
But she does not know how to use them an; 
more tnan a baby." 

•• Possibly nobody 'ever taught her. 

" Yes ; she went for a year to the Nation 
School, she says, and learned both markit 
and sewing." 

•' Perhaps she has never practiced the 
since. She could hardly have had time, wi' 
„ all the little Hands to look after, as hei ntorh 
and paTtlr for >"ys "he did. All the better for us. It maki 



0-r fivt 
Homer. 



which Mr. Lyou had taken such pleasure in 



her wonderfully patient with our troublesoi 
I. rats. It wns'only today, when that h« 
Utile Jackv Smith hurt himself so, that I 6 
Elizabeth "lake him into the kitchen, wash 
{'are and hands, and cuddle him up and co 
fort him. quite motherly. Her forte is ( 
lainlv chililren." 

" You alwavs find something to say 
her." 

" I should be ashamed if ( I could not h 
something to s*.y tor any body who is alw 
abused." 

Another pause— and then Selina returne 

the charge. 

'• Have von ever observed, my dear, the 
traordinary vwiy phe has of fastening, or ra 
cr. not fastening her gown behind? She jB 
hooks it together at the vop and at the wal 
while between there is a — " 

'• Hiatus vilrfedcjlcndus. Ob dear me ! 
.-hall I do? '^flina. how can I help it 
girl of fifteen years old is not a paragon ot 
lection? as of course we' all are, if we ( 
could find it out." 

And Hilary, in despair, rose to carry 
candle and books into the chilly but quiet 
room, biting her lips the while, lest she »h 
he tempted to say something which S' 
calle.l ' - impertinent." wjiich peihnpsit 
from a younger sister to an elder. I dol 
-ei Hilary'up as a perfect character. Throlj 
-orrow only do people goon to perfection :■ 
...now. in its true meaning, the chenshedB 
had never known. 

Put that night, talking to Johanna he& 
they went to bleep— they had always alepll 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



15 



Sether since the time when the elder pisterlmust have a new gown, and you Timet give 



used to walk the mom of nights with iliat pn 
ling, motherless infant in her arms — Hilary 
anxiously started the question of the litt'e 
jervant. 

"I am afraid I vexed Selina, greatly ahout 
her to-night , and yet what can one do? Se 
lina is so very unjust — alwa-ys expecting im 



Elizabeth ymr brown merino. ' 

Hilary laughed, and replied not. 

Now it might be a pathetic indication of a 
girl who had very few clothes, tint Hilary had • 
a superstitious .weakness concerning hers. — 
^ very dress hud its own peculiar, chronifcle of 
the scenes where it had been, the enjoyments 
she had shared in it. Particular dres-eswere 



possibilities. She would like to have Eliza 
beth at once a first rate cook, a finished special memorial* ot berloves, her pleasures, 
house-maid, and an attentive ladvV maid, and her little passing pains; a« long as a bit re- 
mained of the poor old tabric the sight ot it 
recalled them all. 

This brown merino — in which she had sat 



all witluMt being taught ! Mie gives hei 
things to do. neither waiting to see ir'theVare 
comprehended by her, nor showing her how 
to do them. Of "con se the girl stands gaping »wo whole winters over her Greek and Latin 



and staring and does not do them, or iioes 
them so badly, that she gets a thorough scold 
ing." 

" la she very stupid, do yoi^think?" asked 
Johanna, in unconscious appeal to her pet's 
stronger judgment. ♦. 

" No, I don't. Far from stupid ; only very 
ignorant, and— you would hardly believe it — 
very nervous, Selina frightens her. She gets 
on extremely well with me.". 

" Anv one would, mv dear. That is," added 
-the conscientious elder sister, .still aftaid ofi w,,lle . Johanna planned and rep lanneu— cal 



by Hubert Lyon's side which lie lia-1 once 
»toppe,d to touch and notice, saying what a 
pretty color it was. and tiow be liked sofi- 
f"el ing dresses tor women — to cut up this old 
brown merino seemed to hurt lierso she could 
ajii'ost have ci ied 

Vet what would Johanna think if the refu- 
sed? And there was Elizabeth absolutely in 
want of clothes. " I must be growing very 
wicked," thought poor Hilary. 

She lav a good while siferst in the dark, 



making the "child" vain, "any one whom you 
took pains with. But do you think you can 
ever make any thing out of Elizabeth ? Her 
month eirdd to morrow. Shall we lei her 
go?" 

"And perhaps get in her place a story-tellpr 
— a tale-bearer — even a thief. No. no; let us 

' Rather boar the ills w? have, • .' • 

Than fly to others that we know not of;' 

and a thief wo lid be worse than even a South 
Sea Islander." 

" Oh yes, my dear," said Johanna, with a 
shiver. 

' "By-the-bv, the first step in the civilization 
of the Polynesians was giving them clothes. 
And I have heard say that crime and rag^ 
often go together ; that a man unconsciously 



ating how. even with the addition of an 
old cape of her own, .which was out oi' the 
same piece, this hapless gown could be made 
to fit the gaunt frame of Elizabeth Hand. — 
Her poor kindly brain was in the last extrem- 
ity of muddle, when Hilary, with a desperate 
effort, dashed in to ihe rescue, and soon made 
all clear, contriving body, skirt, sleeves and all 

" You have the best h r ad in the world, my 
love. 1 don't know whatever I should do 
without von." . 

•'Luckily you are never likely to be tried. 
So give me a kiss; and good-night, Johanna." 

I misdoubt many will sav I am writing 
about small, ridiculously small, things. Yet 
is not the whole of life made up of infinitesi- 
mally small things ? And in its strange and 
solemn mosaic, the full pattern of which we 



feels that he owes something to himself and- ntfver 8ee clearly till looking back on it from 
eocietv in the wav of virtue' wln-n he has a' fi,r awav dare'** eav of any thing which the 
clean face and clean shirt, and a decent coat han<l of Eternal Wisdom has put together, thai. 



on. Suppose we try the experiment, of dress 
ing Elizabeth. How many old gowns have 
we?" 

The number was few. Nothing in the Leaf 
family was ever cast off till its very last ex 
tremity of decay ; the talent that 

" Gars auM claes I<x>k amaist as gurle '* the now" 



it is too common or too snfall 1 



, CHAPTER IV. 

While her anxious mistresses were thus 
talking her over the servant lav on her hum- 



being Bpeciaiiy possessed by Hilary. She hie bed and slept. They' knew she did. for 
counted over hVr own wardrobe and Iohan-;they heard her heavy breathing througn the 
na's but found nothing that could be spared, thin partition wall. Whether, as Hilary s-.ig- 
-'" Yes, my "love, there ip one thing. Yon gested. she Has too ignorant to notice the < 
certainly shall never put on that old brown of the week, or montn', or. as Seliiia thought., 
toeriuo again ; though you have laid it so care- too stupid to care for any thing beyond eat- 
fully by, as if you meant it to come out as ing,. drinking, and sleeping. Elizabeth mani- 
Sffii 8f IF** VM w i»*r» ^0> iiliwy, you feated y.o au*iety about ^erdelfor her destiny. 



16 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



She went about her work just as usual ; a!" She is very handy when one is ill," even 
little quicker and readier, now she was be-ISelina allowed. 

coming familiarized to it ; butshesaid nothing.; '" And I assure you I was talking most 
She was undoubtedly a girl of silent and un-;kindly to her; about the duties of her posi- 
uemonstrative nature. • tion, and how she ought to dress better, and 

"Sometimes still waters run deep," saidlbe more civil behaved, or else she nevercould 
Miss Hilary. iexpeet to keep any place. And she stood in her. 

"Nevertheless, there are such things asjusual sulky way of listening, never answering 
canals," replied Johanna " When do youia word — with her back to me, staring right 
mean to have your little talk with her?" ' jont of window. And I had just said, 'Eliza- 



Hilary did not know, She was sitting 
rather more tired than usual, by the school 
room fire, the little people having just depart 
ed for their ^Saturday half-holiday. Before 
clearing oft' the debris which they alwsy* left 
behind, she stood a minute at the window, 
refreshing her eyes with the green field oppo 
site, and the far-away wood, crowned by a dim 
white monument, visible in fair weather, on 
which those bright brown eyes had a tri'ck ol 
lingering, even in the middle of school hours. 
For the wood and the hill beyond belonged to 
a nobleman's "show" estate, five miles off— 
the only bit of real landscape beautv that Ilil 
ary had ever belreld. There, during the.taat 
holidays but one, she, her sisters, her nephew, 
and, by his own special request, Mr. Lyon, 
had ppent a whole long, merry, midsummer 
day. ,She wondered whether such a day would 
ever come again! 

But spring was coming again, any how ; the 
field looked smiling and green, specked here 
and there with white dots which, she opined, 
might possibly be daisies. She half wished 
she was not too oldanddignified to dart across 
the road, leap the sunk ft?nce. and run to see. 

"I think, Johanna — Hark, what can that 
be?" 

For at this instant somebody came tearing 
down the stairs, opened the frontdoor, an.l did 
— exactly what Hilary had just been wishing 
to do. 

"It's Elizabeth, without her bonnet or 
shawl, with something white flying behind 
hpr. How she is dashing across the field ! 
What can she be after? # Just look. 

But loud screams from Selina's room, the 
front one, where she had been lying in bed all 
morning, quite obliterated the" little servant 
from their minds. The two sisters ran hastily 
up stairs. 

Selina was sitting up, in undisguised terror 
and agitation. • 

"Stop her ! Hold her ! I'm sure she has 
gone mad. Lock the door, or she'll come 
back and murder us all." 

"Who? Elizabeth! Was she here? What 
has been the matter ?" 

But it was some time. before they could 
make out anything. At las' they' gathered 
that Elizabeth had been waiting upon Mi^s 



heth, my girl' — indeed, Hilary 1(i I was talking 
to her in my very kindest way—" 9 ' 

" I've no doubt of it — but do get on." 

" When she suddenly turned round, snatch- 
ed a clean towel from a chair back, and an- 
other from my head — actually from my very 
head,' Johanna — and out bhe ran. I called 
after her, but she took no more notice than if 
I had bepn a£one. And she left the door 
wide open — blowing upon me. Oh, dear ; she 
has given, me my death of cold." And Selina 
broke out into piteous complainings. 

Her elder sister soothed her as well as she 
could, while Hilary ran down to the frontdoor 
•and, looked, an/i enquired every where for 
Elizabeth. She was not to be seen on field or 
road ; and along that quiet terrace not a soul 
had even perceived her quit the house. 

"It's a very odd thing," said Hilary, return- 
ing. "What can have come over the girl ? 
You are 6ure, Selina, that you said nothing 
which — " 

" Now I know what you are going to say. 
You are going to blame me. Whatever hap- 
pens in this l.ouse you always blame me. And 
perhaps you're right. Perhaps I am a nuis- 
ance — a burden — would be far better dead and 
buried. [ wish I w%re!" 

When Selina took this tack, of course her 
sisters were silenced. They quited her a lit- 
tle, and then went down and searched the 
houpe all over. 

All wasin order; at least in as much order 
as was to be expected the hour bofore dinner. 
The bowl of half-peeled potatoes stood on the 
back kitchen "sink;" the roast was down be- 
fore the fire ; the knives' were ready for clean- 
ing. Evidently Elizabeth flight hao 1 not-been 
premeditated. 

"It's all nonsense about her going mad. 
She has is sound a head as I have," said 
Hilary to Johanna, who began to look serious- 
ly uneasy. " She might have run away in a 
fit of passion, certainly ; and yet that is im- 
probable; her temper is more sullen than 
furious. And having no lack of common 
sense she must know that dping a thing like 
this is enough to make her lose her place at 
once." • 

Yes." ?aid Johanna, mournfully, " Fm 
afraid after this she must go." 

"Wait, and set what she has to say forher- 



Seliua, putting vinegar clothe on her head ,jaelf," pleaded Hilary. "She will burely be, 
and doiog varioue things about tue room.lbeok io two or tore* qHputep." • 



MISTUESS AND MAID. 



IT 



But she was nor, nor even in two or three! fears were true, and the girl had really gone 
hours. mad; but Hilary's quicker perceptions jurap- 

Her mistresses' annoyance became disp; a,- ed at a different conclusion, 
ure, and that again subsided into serious ap- " Quiet yourself, Elizabeth," said she, fa- 
prehension. EvenSelina ceased talking over king a firm hold of her shoulder, and making 
and over the incident which, gave the sole her sit down, when the rolled-up apron drop- 
information to be arrived at; rose, dressed, 'ped, and showed itself all covered with blood 
and came down to the kitchen. There, after jspots. Selina screamed outright. 



long and anxious consultation, Hilary, ob- 
serving that "Somebody had better do some- 
thing," began to prepare the dinner as in pre- 
Elizabethan days ; but the three ladies' appe- 
tites were small. # 

About three in the afternoon, Hilary, giving 
utterance to the hidden alarm ot all, saia — 

"I think, sisters, I had^ better go down as 
quickly as I can to Mrs 



Then Elizabeth seemed to become half con- 
scious that she had done something blamable, 
or was at least a suspected character. Her 
warmth of manner faded; the sullen cloud oi 
dogged resistance to authority was risiug in 
her poor duty face, when Hilary, beginning 
with, " Now, we are not going to scold you ; 
but we must hear the reason of this," contri- 
ved by adroit questions, and not a few of them, 
This agreed, she stood consulting with Jo- to elicit the whole story, 
hanna as to what could possibly be said to the It appeared that,' while standing at Miss 
mother in case that unfortunate child had not Selina's window,. Elizabeth had watched three 
gone home, when the kitchen door opened, little boys, apparently engaged in a very favor- 
and the culprit appeared. ite amusement of little boys in that field, go- 

Not, however, with the least look of a cub ing quickly behind a horse; and pulling out 
prit. Hot she was, and breathless ; and with tile longest and handsomest hairs in his tail 
her hah; down about her ears, and her apron to make fishing lines of. She saw the animal 
rolled up round her waist, presented a most give a kick, and two of the boys ran away; 
forlorn and untidy aspect; but her eyes were' the other did not stir. For a minute or soBhe 



bright, and her countenance glowing. 

She took a towel frorti under her arm.— 
"There's one on 'em — and you'll get back — 
the other — when it's washed." 

Having blurted out this, 6he leaned against 
the wall, trying to recover her breath. 



noticed a black lump lying in the grass ; then, 
with the quick instinct for which nobody had 
ever given her credit, she guessed what had 
happened, and did immediately the wisestand 
only thing possible under the circumstances, 
namely, to snatch up a towel, run across the 



Elizabeth ! Where'have you been ? How field, bind up the child's head as well as she 



dared you go ? Your behavior is disgraceful 
— most disgraceful, I say. Johanna, why 
don't you speak to your servant ?" (When, 
for remissness in reproving others, the elder 
sister herself fell under reproof, it was always 
emnhatically "your sister" — "your nephew" 
— "your servant."). 

But, for once, Miss Selina's sharp voice 



could, and carry it, bleeding and insensible, to 
the nearest doctor, who lived nearlv a mile 
off. 

She did not tell — and they only found it out 
afterward — how she had held the boy while 
under the doctor's hands, the skull being so 
badly fractured that the frightened mother 
fainted at the sight : how she had finally car- 



failed to bring the customary sullen look to.ried him homeland left him comfortably set- 
Elizabeth's face, and when Miss Leaf, in her tied in bed, his senses returned, and his life 



milder tones, asked where she had been, she 
answered unhesitatingly — 

"I've been down the town." 

" Down the town !" the three ladies cried, 
in one chorus of astonishment. 

" I've been as quick as I could, missis. -. I 
runned all the way there and back ; but it was 
a good step, and he was some'at heavy, though 
he is but a little 'un." 

" He! who on earth is he, ?" 



saved. 

" Ay, my arms do ache above a bit," she 
said, in answer to Miss Leaf's questious. "He 
wasn't quite a baby — nigh upon twelve, I reck- 
on ; but then he was very small "of his age. And 
he looked just as if he was dead — and he bled 
so." 

Here, just for a second or two, the color left 
the "big girl's lips, and she trembled a little, 
Miis Leaf went to the kitchen cupboard, and 
"Deary me ! I never thought of axing ; butjtbok out their only bottle of wine — adminis- 
tered in rare closes, exclusively as medicine. 

" Drink this, Elizabeth ; and then go and 
wash your face and eat your dinner. We will 
talk to you by-and-by." 

Elizabeth looked up with a long, wistfull 



his mother lives in Hall street. Somebody 
saw me carrying him to the doctor, and went 
and told her. Oh ! h'e was welly killed, Miss 
Leaf — the doetor said so ; but he'll do now, 
and you'll get> your towel clean washed to- 
morrow." 

While Elizabeth spoke so incoherently, and 
with such unwonted energy and excitement, 
JoBanoa looked as if she thought her sister's 
C 



stare of intense surprise, and then added, 
" Have I done any thing wrong 1 , missis V 

" I did uot say so. But drink this ; and don't 
talk, child." 



18 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



She was obeyed. By-and-by Elizabeth dis- 
appeared into the back kitchen, emerged 
thence with a clean face, hands, and apron, 
and went about her afternoon business as 
if nothing had happened. 



still more difficult to break through the stiff 
bairiers which see'meTi to rise up between her, 
a gentlewoman well on in years,- and this 
coar.se working girl. She felt, as she often 
complained, that with the kindest intentions, 



Her mistresses' threatened "talk" with her she did not quite know how to talk to Eliza- 
never came about. What, indeed, could they beth. 
say? No doubt the little servant had broken ''My sister means," said Hilary, " that as 



the strict letter of domestic law by running off 
in that .highly eccentric and inconvenient 
way ; but, as Hilary tried to explain by a se- 
ries of most ingenious ratiocinations, she had 
fulfilled, in the spirit of it, the very highest 
law — that of charity. She had also shown 
prompt courage, decision, practical and pru- 
dent forethought, and above all, entire self- 
forgetfulness. 

" And' I should like to know," said Mies 
Hilar)', warming with her subject, " if those 
are not the very qualities that goto constitute a 
hero." 

"But we don't want a hero; we want 'a 
maid of-all work." 

" I'll tell you what we want, Selina. ]^e 
want a woman; that is, a girl with the making 



we are not likely to have little boys half killed 
in the field every day, she trusts you will not 
be running away again as you did this morn- 
ing. She feels sure that you would not do 
such a thing, putting us all to so great annoy- 
ance and uneasiness, for any less cause than 
such as happened to-dav. You promise > 
that?" 

" Yes, Miss Hilary." 

"Then we quite forgive you as regards our- 
selves. ■ Nay" — feeling in spite of Selina's 
warning nudge, that she had hardly been kind 
enough — " we rather praise than blame you, 
Elizabeth. And if you like to stay with us 
and will do your best to improve, we are will- 
ing to keep you as our servant." 

"Thank vou ma'am. Thank vou, Miss 



of a good woman in her. If we can find that. Hilary. Yes, I'll stop.'' 
all the rest will follow. For my part, I would 
rather take this child, rough as she is, but 
with her truthfulness, conscientiousness, kind- 
liness of heart, and evident capability of both 
self-control andself-devotedness, than the most 
finished servant we could find. My advice is 
— keep her." 

This settled the matter, since it was a cu- 
rious fact that the " advice" of the youngest 
Miss Leaf was, whether they knew it or not. 
almost. equivalent to a family ukase. 



When Elizabeth had brought in the tea- 
things, which she did with especial care, ap- 
patently wishing to blot out the memory 01 
the morning's escapade by astonishingly good 
behavior for the rest of the day, Miss Leaf 
called her, and asked if she knew that her 
month of trial ended this day? 

"Yes, ma'am," with the strict tormal 
courtesy, soVnething between that of the old- 
v or Id family domestic — as her mother migh 



I 

have been to the Miss Elizabeth Something 
she was named after — and the abrupt " dip" 
of the modern National school girl; which 
constituted Elizabeth Hand's sole experience 
of manners. 

" If you had not been absent I shoull-have 
gone to sppak with your motbei to-day « In- 
deed Miss Hilary was going when you came 
in ; but it would have been with a very differ- 
ent Intention from what we had iri the murn- 
ing. However, that is not likely to happen 
again." 

" Eh?" said Elizabeth, inquiringly. 

Mirs Leaf hesitated, and looked uneasily at 
her two sisters. It was always a trial to her 
shy nature to find herself the mouth-piece >of 
the family ; aud this ertme shyness made it 



She said no more — but sighed a great sigh, 
as if her mind were relieved — ("So," thought 
Hilary, "she was not so indifferent to us as 
we imagined" — and bustled back into her kit- 
chen. 

"Now for the clothing of her," observed 
Leaf, also looking much relieved that 
the decision was over. " You know what we 
agreed wpon; and there is certainly no time 
to be lost. Hilary, my dear., suppose you 
bring down your brown merino?" • 

Hilary went without a word. 

People who inhabit the same house, eat, 
sit, and sleep together — loving one another 
and sympathizing with one another, ever BO 
deeply and dearly — nevertheless inevitably 
have momentary seasons when the intense 
solitude in which we all live, and must expect 
ever to live, at the depth of our being, forces 
itself painfully upon the heart. Johanna must 
have had many such seasons when Hilary was 
a child ; Hilary had one now. 

She unfolded the old frock, and took out of 

ck,ct, a hiding place at once 'little likely 

to be searched, and harmless 1l discovered, ;■, 

poor little memento of that happy midsummer 

day. 

•■ 1>, "/■ Miss Hilary. theti, I 

Yours truly, Robert I 

The only scrap of note she had ever re- 
ceived ; he always wrote to Johanna ; as reg- 
ularly as ever, or more •-<>, now Ascott was 
gone; but only to Johanna. She read over 
the twolinesj wondered where she should keep 
them now that Johanna might not notice 
them; and then recoiled, as if the secret were 
a wrong to that dear sister who loved her so 



well. 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



10 



late idleness, so absorbed that she seemed not 
to bear Hilary's approach. 

" I did not know vou could write, Eliza- 
beth." • 

" No more T can," was the answer, in the 
most doleful of voices. " It bean't no good. 
I've forgotten all about it. T letters wonna 
join." 

" Let me look at them." And Hilary tried 
to contemplate gravely tbe scrawled and blot- ' 
ted page, which looked very much as if a large 
spider had walked into the ink bottle, and then 
walked out again on a tour of investigation. 
'What did you want to write?" asked she, 
suddenly. 

Elizabeth blushed violently. " It was the 
woman. Mrs. Cliffe, t' little lad's mother, you 
know : she wanted somebody to write to her 
husband as is at work at Birmingham, and 1 
said I would. I'd* learned at the National, 
but I've forgotten it all. I'm just aa Miss 
Selina says — I'm good for nowt." 

"Come, come, never fret :" Tor there was a 
sort of choke in the girl's voice. "There's 
many a good person who never learned to 
write., But. I don't see why you should nor. 
learn. Shall I teach you?" 

Utter amazement, beaming gratitude, suc- 
ceeded one another, plain as light, in Eliza- 
beth's eyes, but she only said, " Thank you, 
Miss Hilary." 

"Very well. I have brought you an old 
gown of mine, and was going to show you how 
to mike it up for yourself, but I'll look over 
your writing instead. Sit down and let me 
see what you can do." 

In a state of nervous trepidation, pitiful to 
behold, Elizabeth took the pen. Terrible 
scratches resulted; blots innumerable: and 
one fatal deluge of ink, which startled from 
their seats both mistress and maid, and made 
Hilary thankful that she had taken off tier 
better gown foi a common one, as, with sad 
thriftiness, the Misses Leaf always did of eve- 
nings. 

When Elizabeth saw the mischief she had 
done, her contrition and humility were un- 
bounded. " No, Miss Hilary, you can't make 
nothin' of me. I be too stupid, I'll give it 
up." 

" Nonsense !" And the bright*active little 
lady looked steadily into the heavy face of this 
undeveloped girl, half child, half woman, until 
some of her own spirit seemed to be reflected 
always busy, over the perpetual toil of thoseUhere. Whether the excitement of the morn- 
who have not yet learned the mysterious art of ■inghad roused her, or her mistresses' kindness 
arrangement and order, nor, as sometimes. j had touched Elizabeth's heart, and — as in 
hanging sleepily ovor the kitcher, fire, waiting most women — the heart was the key to the 
for bedtime: but actually sitting, sitting down [intellect ; or whether the- gradual daily influ- 
at the table. Her candle was flaring on one ence of her changed life dnring.the last month 
side of her : on thf other was the school room had been taking effect, now for the first time 
inkstand, a scrap of waste paper, and a pen to appear — certain it is that Hilary had never 
But she was not .writing; she sat with heriperceived boibre what an extiomelv intelligent 
head on her hands, in an attitute of disconso-jface it was ; what good sense was indicated in 



" But nothing make8 me love her less ; no- 
thing ever could. She thinks me quite happy, 
as I am ; and vet — oh, if I did not miss him 
so!" 

And the aching, aching want which some- 
times came over began again. Let us not 
blame her. God made all our human needs. 
God made love. Not merely affection but 
actualWocir — the necessity to seek and find out 
some other being, not another but the com- 
plement of one's self — the " other half," who 
brings rest and strength for weakness, sympa 
thy in aspiration, and tenderness for tender- 
ness, as no other person ever can. Perhaps, 
even in marriage, this love is seldom found, 
and it is possible in all lives to do without it. 
Johanna had done so. But then she had been 
young, and was now growing old ; and Hilary 
was only twenty, with a long life before her. 
Poor child, let us not blame her ! 

Site was not in the least sentimental, her 
natural disposition inclining her to be. more 
than cheerful, actually gay. She soon recov- 
ered herself, and when, a short time after, she 
stood, scissors in hand, demonstrating how 
very easy it was to make something out of 
nothing, her sisters never suspected how very 
near tears had lately been to those bright eyes, 
which were always the sunshine of the house. 

"You are giving yourself a world of troub 
le." said Selina. " If I were you, I would just 
make over the dress to Elizabeth, and let her 
do what she could wi»h it." 

" My dear, I always find I give myself twice 
the trouble by expecting people to do what 
they can't do. I have to do it myself after- 
ward. . Prove how a child who can't even han- 
dle a needle and thread is competent to make 
a gown for herself, and I shall be most happy 
to secede in her favor." 

"Nay," put in the eldest sister, afraid of a 
collision of words, "Selina is right : if you do 
not teach Elizabeth to make her own gowns 
how can she learn ?" 

" Johanna, you are the brilliantest of wo- 
men ! and you know you don't like the parlor 
littered with rags and cuttings. You vish to 
get rid of me for the evening ? Well, I'll go ! 
Hand me the work basket and the bundle, 
and I'll give my first lesson in dress making 
to our South Sea Islander." 

But P'ate stood in the way of Miss Hilary's 
good intentions. 

She found Elizabeth not as was her wont, 



m 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



the we'll shaped head and forehead ; what ten- 
derness and feeling in the deep-set grey eyes. 

" Nonsense,," repeated she. " Never give 
up any thing : I nerer would. •We'll try a 
different plan, and begin from the beginning, 
as I do wtth my little scholars. Wait, while 
I fetch a copy book out of the parlor. press." 

She highly amused her sisters witli a de- 
scription of what she called her " newly insti- 
tuted Polynesian Academy j returned, and set 
to work to guide the rough, coarse hand 
through the mysteries of caligraphy. 

To say this was an easy task would not be 
true. Nature's own laws and limits make the 
using of faculties which have been unused for 
generations very difficult at first. To suppose 
that a working man, the son of working men, 
who applies himself to study, does it with as 
little trouble as your upper-claas children, who 
have been unconsciously -undergoing educa- 
tion ever since the eradle, is a great mistake. 
All honor, therefore, to those who do attempt, 
and to ever so small- a degree succeed in, the 
best and wisest culture of all, self-culture. 

Of this honor Elizabeth deserved her share. 

" She is stupid enough," Hilary confessed, 
after the lesson was over ; " but there is" a 
dogged perseverance about the girl which I 
actually admire. She blots her fingers, her 
nose, her apron, but she never gives in ; and 
she sticks to the grand principle ot one thing 
at a time. I think she did two whole pages of 
a's, and really performed them satisfactorily, 
before she asked to go oh to b's. Yes !*I be- 
lieve she will do." 

" I hope she will do her work, any how," 
said Selina, breaking into the' conversation 
rather crossly. "I'm sure I don't see the 
good of wasting time over teaching Elizabeth 
to write, when there's 'so much to he done in 
the house .by one and all Df us, from Monday 
morning till Saturday night.'" 

" Ay, that's it," answered Hilary, medita- 
tively. " I don't see how I ever shall get time 
to teach her, and she is so tired of nights when 
the work is all done : she'll be dropping asleep 
with 'the pen in her hand — Thave done it my- 
self before now." 

Ay, in those days when, trying so hard to 
" improve her mind," and make herself a lit- 
tle more eqtial and companionable to another 
mind she knew, she had. after her daily house 
cares and her six hours of school teaching, at- 
tempted at nine p. m. to begin close study on 
her own account. And though with her strong 
will she succeeded tolerably, still, as" she told 
Johanna, she could well understand how slow 
was the "march dfintellect" (a phrase which 
had just then come, up) among day laborers 
and the like ; and bow difficult it was for these 
Mechanics Institutions, which were now talk- 
ed so much of, to put ah;, new ideas into the 
p(>or tired heads, rendered sluggish and stupid 
with hard bodily lab 



" Suppose I were to hold my Polynesian 
Academy on a Sunday?" and she looked in- 
quiringly at her sisters, especially Johanna. 

Now the Misses Leaf were old fashioned 
country folk, who lived before the words Sab- 
batarian and un-Sabbatarian had ever got into 
the English language. They simply " remem- 
bered the Sabbath day to keep it holy ;" they 
arranged so as to make it for all the household 
a day of rest : and they went regularly to 
church once — sometimes Selina and Hilary 
went twiee. For the intervening hours, their 
usual custom was to take an afternoou walk 
in the fields ; begun chiefly for Ascott's sake, 
to keep the lad out of mischief, and put into 
his mind better thoughts than he was likely to 
get from his favorite Sunday recreation of sit- 
ting on the wall throwing stones. After he 
left for London there was Elizabeth to be 
thought of; and they decided that the best 
Sabbath duty for the little servant was to go 
and see her mother. So they* gave her every 
Sunday afternoon free ; only requiring that 
she should be at home punctually after church 
time, at eight o'clock. But from thence till 
bedtime was a blank two hours, which, Hilary 
had noticed, Elizabeth not unfrequently spent 
in dozing over the fire." 

" And I wonder," said she, giving the end 
of. her long meditation out loud, " whether 
going to* sleep is not as much Sabbath breaking 
as learning to write? What do you say, Jo- 
hanna ?" 

*Johanna, simple, God-fearing woman asshe 
was, to whom faith and love came as natural 
as the breath she drew, had nevei perplexed 
herself with the question. She only smiled 
^scence. But Selina was greatly shock- 
ed. Teaching to write on a Sunday ! Bring- 
ing the week day work' into the day of rest! 
Doing one's own pleasure on the holy day ! 
iShe thought it exceedingly wrong. Such a 
| thing had ifever been heard of in their house. 
Whatever else might be said of them, the 
Leafs were always a respectable family as to 
keeping Sunday. Nobody could say that even 
poor Henry — 

But here Selina's torrent of words stopped. 

When conversation revived, Hilary, who 
had been at first half annoyed and half amus- 
ed, resumed her point seriously. 

" I might say that writing is'nt Elizabeth's 
week-day work, and that teaching her is not 
exactly doing my own pleasure; but I won't 
creep out of the argument by a quibble. The 
question is, What is keeping the Sabbath day 
'holy?' I say — and I stick to my opinion — 
that it ja by making it a day of worship, a rest 
day — a cheerful and happy day — and by doing 
as much good in it as we can. And therefore 
I mean to teach Elizabeth on a Sunday." 

" She'll never understand it. She'll consid- 
er it work." 

"And if A\t did,: work is a moie rellgiout 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



21 



thing than idleness. I am sure I often feel 
that, of the two, I should be less sinful in dig- 
ging potatoes in my garden, or sitting mending 
stockings in my parlor, than in keeping Sun- 
day as some people do— going to church gen- 
teelly in my best clothes, eating a huge Sunday 



relation— (and yet that is right, for the relation 
and authority are ordained of Clod) — but be- 
tween the educated and the ignorant, the 
coarse and the refined. 

" Well," she said, after a pause of consider- 
ation, " you always have it in your power to 



dinner, and then nodding over a good book, J repay my ' kindness,' as you call it. Theelev 
or taking a regular Sunday nap till bedtime.". erer you become the more useful you will be 
" Hush, child!" said Johanna, reprovingly ; to me ; and the more good you grow the better 
for Hilary's cheeks were red, and her voicel I shall like you." 

angry. She was taking the hot, youthful partj Elizabeth'smiled — that wonderfully bright, 
which in its hatred of forms and shams, some-jsudden smile which seemed to cover over°al! 
times leads — and not seldom led poor Hilary — her plainness of feature. 

a little too far on the other side. "I think,"! "Once" upon a time," Hilary resumed by- 
Miss Leaf added, "that our business is with land-by, "when England was very different 
ourselves, and_not with our neighbors. Let from what it is now, English ladies used to 



the 



Sabbath » according 



to our con- 



us keep 

science. Only, I would take care never to do 
any thing which jarred against my neighbor's 
feelings. I would, like Paul, 'eat no meat 
while the world standeth' rather than ' make 
my brother to offend.' " 

Hilary looked in~her sister's sweet, calm 
face, and the anger died out of her own. 

"Shall I give up my academy?" she said, 
softly. 

" No, my love. It is lawful to do good on 
the Sabbath day, and teaching a poor ignorant 
girl to write is an absolute good. Make her 
understand that, and you need not be afraid of 
any harm ensuing." 

" You never will make her understand," 
said Selina, sullenly. " She is only a serv- 
ant." 



"Nevertheless I'll try. 



have what they call ' bower-women,' whom 
they took as girls, and brought up in their 
service ; teaching them all sorts of things — 
cooking, sewing, spinning, singing, and, prob- 
ably, except that the ladies of that time were 
very ill-educated. themselves, to read and write 
also. They used to spend part of every day 
among their bower-women ; and as people can 
only enjoy the'company of those with whom 
they have some sympathies in common, we 
must conclude that — " • 

Here Hilary stopped, recollecting she must 
be discoursing miles above the head of her 
little bower-maiden, and that, perhaps; after 
all, her theory would be best kept to lierself, 
and only demonstrated practically. 

"So, Elizabeth, if I speudalittle of my time 

teach i 



in teaching you, you must grow up my. faithful 
and attached bower-maiden-? 1 ' 

Hilary could not tell how far she succeeded; " I'll grow up any thing, MissJJilary, if it's 
in simplifying to the young servant's com pre- to please you," was the answer, given with.'a 
hension this great question, involving so main ^mothered intensity that quite startled the 
points — such as the following of the spirit aixlyo-ing mistress. 

the l^ter, the law of duty and the compulsion i" " I "do believe the girl is getting fond of me," 
■of love, which, as she spoke, seemed openmgjsaid she, half touched, half laughing to Jo- 
out so widely and awfully that she herself in-ihanna. "If so, we shall get on." It is justas 
voluntarily shrank from it, and wondered that; with our school children, j ou know. We have 
poor finite creatures should ever presume to, to seize hold of their hearts first, and their 
squabble about it at all. j heads afterward. Now, Elizabeth's head may 

But one thing the girl did understand — her be uncommonly tough, but I do believe she 
young mistress's kindness. She stood watch- likes me." 

ing the delicate little hand that had so patiently j Johanna smiled; but she would not for the 
guided hers, and now wrote copy after copyjworld have said— never encouraging the small- 
for her future benefit. At last she said— est vanity in her child— that she did not thinl 

"You're taking a deal o' trouble wi' a poor this circumstance so very remarkable. 
wench, and it's very kind in a lady like you." 

Miss Hilary was puzzled what answer to 
make. True enough it was " kind," and she 
was "a lady;" and between her and Mrs. 
Hand's rough daughter was an unmistakable 
difference and distinction. That Elizabeth 
perceived it was proved by her growing' res- 
pectfulness of manner — the more respectful, it 
■eemed, the more she herself improved. 
Hilary could not bear to make her feel 



CHAPTER V. 



A household exclusively composed of wo- 
men has its advantages and its disadvantages. 
It is apt to become somewhat narrow in judg- 
Yet'ment, morbid in feeling, absorbed in petty 
more, 1 interests, and bounding its vision of outside 
sharply than was unavoidable the great gulf things to the small horizon which it sees 'from 
that lies and ever must lie — not so much be- its own fireside. But, on. the other hand, be- 
tween mistress and servant, in their abstract|thi& fireside often abides a settled peace and 



22 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



purity, a long-suffering, generous forbearance, 
and an enduring atfectionateness which the 
othe other sex can hardly comprehend or 
credit. Meu will not believe, what ia never- 
theless the truth, that we can "stand alone" 
better than they can ; that we can do without 
them far easier, and with less deterioration of 
character, than they can do without us ; that 
we are better able to provide for ourselves in- 
terests, duties, and pleasures ; in short, strange 
as it may appear, that we have more real self- 
sustaining independence than they. 

Of course, that the true life, the highest life, 
is that of man and woman united, no one will 
be insane enough to deny ; I am speaking of 
the substitute for it, which poor humanity has 
so often to fall back upon and make the best 
of— a better best very frequently than what 
appears best in ihe eyes of the world. In 
truth, many a troubletl. care ridden, wealthy 
family, torn with dissensions, oV frozen up in 
splendid fornialities, might have envied that 
quiet, humble, maiden household ol the Misses 
Leaf, where their only trial was poverty, and 
their only grief the one which they knew the 
worst of, and had met patiently for many "B 
year— poor Selinft's " way." 

I doubt not it was good for Elizabeth Hand 
that her first place — the home in which she 
received her first impressions — was this fem- 
inine establishment, simple and regular, in 
which was neither waste nor disorder allowed. 
Good, too, that while her mistresses' narrow 
means restricted her in many things enjoyed 
by servants in richer families, their interests, 
equally nan-Qw, caused to be concentrated up- 
on herself a double measure ot thought and 
care. She became absolutely "one of the fam- 
ily," sharing in all its concerns. From its 
small and few carnal luxuries — such as the 
cake, fruit, or pot of preserve, votive offerings 
from pupils' parents — up to the newspaper and 
the borrowed book, nothing was either literal- 
ly or metaphorically "locked" up from Eliza- 
beth. 

This grand question of locking up had been 
discussed in full conclave the day after her 
month of preparation ended, the sisters taking 
opposi|e sides, as might have been expected. 
Selina was for the immediate introduction of 
a locksmith and a key basket. 

" While she was only on trial, it did not so 
much signify ; besides, if it did, we had only 
buttons on the press doors ; but now she isour 
regular servant we ought to institute aregular 
system of authority. How can she respect a 
family that never locks up any thing?" 

'• How. can we respect a servant from whom 
we loch up every thing 1" 

" Respect a servant ! What do you mean, 
Hilary?" 

•' I mean thai if I did not respect a servant 
I would be very «orry to keep her one day in 
any house of mine." » 



" Wait till you've a houec of. your own to 
keep, Miss," said Selina, crossly. " I never 
heard such nonsense. Is' that the way you 
mean to behave to Elizabeth ? leave every 
thing open to her — clothes, books, money ; 
trust her with all your fecrets ; treat her as 
your most particular friend V 

" A girl of fifteen would be rather an incon- 
venient particular friend! And J have happily- 
few secrets to trust her with. But if 1 could 
not trust her with our coffee, tea. sugar, and 
so on, and bring her up from the very first iu 
the habit of being trusted, 1 would recommend 
her being sent away to-morrow." 

"Very fine talking; and what do you say, 
Johanna? — if that is not an unnecessary ques- 
tion after Hilary has given her opinion." 

" 1 think," replied the elder 6ister, taking no 
notice of the long familiar inuendo, "that in 
this case Hilary is right. How people ought 
to manage in great houses I can not say : but 
in our small house it will be easier and better 
not. to alter our simple ways. Trusting the 
girl — if she is a good girl — will only make her 
more trustworthy ; if she is bad. we shall the 
sooner find it out and let her go. 

But Elizabeth did not go. A year passed ; 
two years ; her wages were raised, and with 
them her domestic position. From a "girl" 
she was converted into a regular servant ; ber 
pinafores gave place to grown-up gowns and 
aprons; and her rough head, at Miss Selina'' s 
incessant inst; je, was concealed by a cap — 
caps being considered by that lady a? the 
proper and indispensable badge of servant- 
hood. 

To say that during her transition state, or 
even now that she had reached the cap era, 
Elizabeth gave her mistresses no trouble, would 
be stating a ^..'f-evident improbability'. -iVhat 
young lass under seventeen, of any rani?, does 
not cause plenty of trouble to her natural 
guardians? Who can "put an old head on 
young shoulders ?" or expect from girls at the 
most unformed and unsatisfactory period of 
life that complete moral and mental discipline, 
that unfailing self-control, that perfection of 
temper, and every thing else which, ofcour-i:. 
all mistresses always have? 

I am obliged to confess that Elizabeth had 
a few — nay, not a few — most obstinate faults ; 
that no child tries its parents, no pupil its 
school teachers, more than she tiied her three 
mistresses at intervals. She was often thought- 
less and careless, brusque in her maViner. slov- 
enly in her dress : sometimes she was down- 
right "bad," filled full — as some of her eldere 
and betters are, at all ages — with absolute 
naughtiness ; when she would sulk for hours 
and days together, and make the whole family 
uncomfortable, as many a servant can make 
many a family small as that of the Misses 
Leaf* 

But still they never lost what Hilary termed 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



23 



their "respect" for Elizabeth ; they never found | even Johanna satd sometimes, "dangerous" 



her out in a lie, a meanness, or an act of de- 
ception or dishonesty. They took her faults 
as we must take the surface faults of all con- 
nected with us — patiently rather than resent- 
Fully, seeking to correct rather than to punish. 
And though "there were difficult elements in 
"the household, such as their being three mis- 
tresses to be obeyed, the youngest mistress a 
thought too lax and the second One undoubt- 
edly too severe, still no girl could live with 
these high-principled, much-enduring women 
without being impressed with two things which 
the serving class are slowest to understand — 
the dignity of poverty, and the beauty of that 
which is the only effectual law to bring out 
good and restrain evil — the law of loving-kind- 
ness. 

Two fracas, however, must be chronicled, 
for after both the girl's dismissal hung on a 
thread. The first was when Mrs. Cliffe, moth- 
er of Tommy Clift'e, who was nearly killed in 
the field, being discovered to be an ill sort of 
woman, and in the habit of borrowing from. 
Elizabeth stray shillings, which were never 
returned, waa forbidden the house, Elizabeth 
resented it so fiercely that she sulked for a 
whole week afterward. 



thus to put before Elizabeth a standard of 
ideal perfection, a Quixotic notion of life — life 
■in its lull purp08e, power, and beauty — su.cb 
as otherwise never could have.crossed the mind 
of this working girl, born of parents who, 
though respectable and worthy, were io no re- 
spect higher than the common working class ? 
I will not argue the point: I am not making 
Elizabeth a text for a sermon ; I am simply 
writing her story. 

One thing, was certain, that by degrees the 
young woman's faults lessened; even that worst 
of them, the unmistakable bad temper, not 
aggressive, but obstinately sullen, which made 
her and Miss Selina sometimes not on speak- 
ing terms tor a \*eek together. But she sim- 
ply "sulked:" she never grumbled or was 
pert: and she did her work just as usual — 
wiih a kind of dogged struggle not' only against 
the superior powers but against something 
within herself much harder to fight with. 

" She makes me feel more sorry for her than 
angry with her," Miss Leaf would sometimes 
say, coming out of the kitchen with that 
grieved face, which was the chief sign of dis-< 
pleasure her sweet nature ever betrayed "She 
will have up-hill work through life, like lis all, 



The other and still more dangerous crisis in and more than many of us, poor child !" 



Elizabeth's destiny was when a volume of 
Scott's novels, having been missing for some 
days, was found hidden in her bed, and she 
lying awake reading it was thus ignominious- 
ly discovered at eleven p. m. by Miss Selina, in 
consequence of the gleam of candlelight from 
under her door. 

It was true neither of these errors were ac- 
tual moral crimes. Hilary even roused a vol- 
ley of sharp words upon herself by declaring 
they had their source in actual virtues : that 
a girl who would stint herself of shillings, and 
hold lesolutely to any liking she had, even if 
unworthy, had a creditable amount of both 
self-denial and fidelity in her disposition. Al- 
so that a tired out maid-of all-work, who was 
kept awake of nights by her ardent apprecia- 
tion of the " Heart of Mid-Lothian," must 
possess a degree of both intellectual and moral 
capacity which deserved cultivation rather 
than blame. And though this surreptitious 
pursuit of literatuie under difficulties could 
not of course be allowed, I grieve to say that 
Miss Hilary took every opportunity of not on- 
ly giving the young servant books to read, but 
of talking to her about *,hem. And also that 



But gradually Elizabeth, too, copying invol- 
untarily the rest of the family, learned to put 
up with Miss Selina : who, on her part, kept a 
sort of armed neutrality. And once, when a 
short but sharp illness of Johanna's shook the 
house from its even tenor, startled every body 
out of thetr little tempers, and made them 
cling together and work together in a sort of 
fear-stricken union against one common grief, 
Selina allowed that, they might have gone far- 
ther and fared worse on the day they engaged. 
Elizabeth. 

"After this illness of his Aunt, Ascott came 
home. It was his first visitsince he had gone 
to London ; Mr. Ascott, he said, objected to 
holidays. But now, from some unexplained 
feeling, Johanna in her convalescence longed 
after the boy —no longer a boy, however, but 
nearly twenty, and looking fully his age. How 
proud his aunts were to march him up the 
town, and hear every body's congratulations 
on his good looks and polished manners ! It 
was the old story — old as the hills 1 I do not 
pretend to invent any thing new. Women, 
especially maiden aunts, will repeat the tale 
till the end of time, v so long as thev have 



a large proportion of these books were — tojyouths belonging to them on whom to expend 
Miss Selina's unmitigated horror— absolutely their natural tendency to clinging fondness, 
fiction ! -stories, novels, even poetry — books and ignorant, innocent hero worship. The 



that Hilary liked herself— books that had buijt 
up in her own passionate dream of life ; where- 
in all the women were faithful, tender, heroic, 
self-devoted; and all the men were — something 
not unlike Eobert Lyon. 
Did she do harm ? Was it, as Selina and 



Misses Leaf--ay, even Selina. whose irritation 
against the provoking boy was quite mollified 
by the elegant young man— were no wiser than 
their neighbors. 

But there was one person in the household 
who still obstinately refused to bow the knee 



24 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



to Ascott. Whether it was, as psychologists 
might explain, some instinctive polarity in 
their natures : or whether, having ©nee con- 
ceive! a prejudice, Elizabeth held on to it like 
grim death ; still there was the same unspo- 
ken antagonism between them. The young 
fellow took little notice of her except to ob- 
serve " that she hadn't grown any handsom- 
er^' but Elizabeth watched him with with a 
keen severity that overlooked nothing, and re- 
sisted, with a passive pertinacity that was 
quite irresistible, all his encroachments on the 
I'amity habits, all the little self-pleasing ways 
which Ascott had been so used to of old, that 
neither he nor his aunts apparently recognized 
them as selfish. 

" I canna bear to see him (" can not," sug- 
gested her mistress, who not seeing any reason 
why Elizabeth should not speak the Queen's 
English as well as herself, had instituted' h's, 
and stopped a few more glaring p;oviucial- 
isms.), " I cannot bear to see him, Miss Hil- 
ary, lolling on the arm-chair, when Missis 
looks so tired and pale, and sitting up o' nights, 
burning double fires, and going up stairs at 
last with his boots on, and waking every body. 
1 dunnot like it, I say." 

" You forget ; Mr. Ascott has his studies. 
He must work for the nex^ examination." 

" Why doesn't he get up of a morning the* 
instead, of lying in bed, and keeping the break- 
fast about till ten ? Why can't he do his 
learning by daylight? Daylight's cheaper 
than mould candles, and a deal better for the 
eyes." 

Hilary was puzzled. A truth was a truth, 
and to try and make it out otherwise, even for 
the dignity of the family, was something from 
which her honest nature revolted. Besides, 
the sharp-sighted servant would be the first to ,i av 
detect the inconsistency of or.elaw of right for 
the parlor and another for the kitchen. So 
she took refuge in silence and in the apple- 
pudding she was making 

But she resolved to seize the first opportu- 
nity of giving Ascott, by way of novelty, the 
severest lecture that tongue of auht could be- 
stow. And this chance occurred the same af- 
ternoon, when the other two aunts had gone 
out to tea, to a house which Ascott voted 
" slow," and declined going to. .She remained 
to make tea for him, and in the mean time 
took him for a constitutional up and down the 
public walks hard by.. 

Ascott listened at first very good humored- 
iy : once or twice calling her " a dear little 
prig," in his patronizing way — he was rather 
fond of patronizing his Aunt Hilary. But 
when she seriously spoke of his duties, as no 
longer a boy but a man, who ought now to 
assume the true, manly right of thinking for 



" Now stop that, Aunt Hilary : I'll not have 
you coming Mr. Lyon over me." 

" What do you mean ?" 

For of late Ascott had said very little about 
Mr. Lyon — not half so much as Mr. Lyon, in 
his steadily peisistent letters to Miss Leaf, 
told her about her nephew Ascott. 

'• 1 mean that I'll not be preached to like" 
that by a woman. It's bad enough to stand 
it from a man; but then Lyon's a real sharp 
fellow, who knows the world, which women 
don't, Aunt Hilary. Besides, he coaches me 
in my L'ttm and Greek ; so I let him pitch 
into me now and then. But I won't let you; 
so just stop it, will you." , 

Something new in Ascott's tpne — speaking 
more of the resentful fierceness of the man 
than the pettishness of the boy — frightened 
his little aunt, and silenced her. By-and-by 
she took comfort trom the reflection that, ae 
the lad had in his anger betrayed, he had be- 
side him in Londou a monitor whose preach- 
ing would be so much wiser and more effectual 
than her own that she determined to say no 
more. 

The rare hearing of Mr. Lyon's name — for,, 
time and absence having produced their nat- 
ural effect, except when his letter came, he 
was seldom talked about now — set Hilary 
thinking. 

" Do you go to see him often ?" she said at 

,'Who? Mr. Lyon?" And Ascott, delight- 
ed to escape into a fresh subject, became quite 
cheerful and communicative. " Oh, blesd 
you ! He wouldn't care for my going to him. 
He lives in a two-pair back, only one room, 
' which serves him for kitchen and parlor and 
all :' dines at a cook shop for nine-pence a 
and makes his own porridge night and 
morning. He told me so once; for he isn't a 
bit ashamed of it. t But he must be precious 
hard up sometimes.' However, as he contrives 
to keep a decent coat on his back, and pay his 
classes at the University, and carry off the 
very first honors going there, nobody asks any 
questions." That's the good of London life, 
Aunt-Hilaiy," said the young fellow, drawing 
himself up with great wisdom. "Only look 
like a gentleman, behave yourself as such, and 
nobody asks any questions." 

" Yes," acquiesced vaguely Aunt Hilary. 
And then her mind wandered yearningly to 
the solitary student in the two-pair back. He 
might labor and suffer : he might be ill ; he 
might die, equally solitary, and " nobody 
would ask any questions." This phase of Lon- 
don life let a new light in upon her mind. The 
letters to Johanna had been chiefly filled with, 
whatever he thought would interest them.. 
Witli his characteristic Scotch reserve, he had. 



and taking care of other people, especially hisjsaid very little about himself, except in the 
aunts, Ascott began to flush up angrily. (last, wherein he mentioned that he had " done,- 



MlrfTHESS AND MAID, 



it* 



pretty well" atthecolkige. this term, and meant! family not to have heard of such a person, 
to "go in tor more work" immediately, ' And his knowing her was a tolerable proof of 

What this work entailed — how much more his identity ; besides, unconsciously^ the girl 
.toil, how much more poverty— Hilary knew was influenced by that look ami 'mien of true 
not. Perhaps even his successes, which As- jgentlemanhoo 1. as courteous to the poor maid- 
cott went on to talk of, had less place ir, her of-all-work. as he would have been to any 
thoughts than the picture oftbe face she knew, [duchess born; and by that bright, sudden 
sharpened with illness, wasted with hardworklemile, which came like sunshine over his iace, 
and solitary care. and like Sunshine warmed and opened the 

•• And 1 can not help him — I can not help! heart of every one that met it. 
him!" was her bitter cry j until, passing from It opened that of Elizabeth. She relaxed 
theVlream-land of fancy, the womanly nature her Cerberus keeping- of the door, and even 



asserted itself. She thought if it had been, or 
if it ware to be. her blessed lotto be chosen by 
Robert Lyon, how she would take care of him ! 
what an utter slave she would be to him ! How 
no penury .would frighten her. no household 
care oppress or humble her. if done for him 
and for his coinfort. To her brave heart no 
battle of life seemed too long or too sore, if 
only it were fought for him and at hip side. 
And as the early falling leaves were blown 
in gusts across her path, and the misty autumn 
night -began to close in, r.ature herself seemed 
to plead in unison with the craving of her 
heart, which sighed that youth and summer 
not always: and that, "be it ever so 
humble." as the song says, there is no place 
so bright and beautiful as the fireside of a love- 
mi home. 

While the. aunt and nephew w«re strolling 
•thus, thinking of very different things, their 
own fire newly lit — Ascott liked a fire — was 
blazing away in solitary glory, for the benefit 
of all passers-by. At length one — a gentleman 
— stopped at the gate, and looked in, then tbok 
a turn to the end of the terrace, and stood ga- 
zing in once more. The solitude of the room 
apparently troubled hiriu twice his hand was 
on the latch before he opened it and knocked 
at the front dcor. 

Elizabeth appeared, which seemed to sur- 
"prise him. 

" Is Miss Leaf at home ?" 

' ; No, Sir." 

"Is she well? Are all the family well?" 
and he stepped right into the passage, with the 
freedom of a familiar foot. 

(" I should ha' slammed the door in his 
face," was Elizabeth's comment afterward : 
• ''only, you see. Miss Hilary, he looked a real 
gentleman. ")i 

The stranger and she mutually, examine'! 
One another. 

" I think I have heard of you," said he, 
-'..iling. "You are Miss Leaf's servant — 
Elizabeth Hand." 

" Yes, Sir," still grimly, and with a deter- 
mined grasp of the door handle. 

"If, your mistresses are likely to be home 
soon, will you allow me to wait for them? I 
am an old friend of theirs. Mv name is 
Lyon." 

Now Elizabeth was far too much one of the 



went so far as to inform him that Miss Leaf 
and Miss Selina were out to tea, but Miss 
Hilary. and Mr. Ascott would beat home 
sliorrty. He was welcome to wait in the par- 
lor if he liked. 

Afterward, seized with mingled euriosity ana 
misgiving, she made various errands to go in 
and look at him ; but she had not courage to 
address him, and he never spoke to her. He 
sat. by the window, gazing out into the gloam- 
Except just turning his head at her en- 
trance, she did not think lie had once stirred; 
the whole time. . ■ 

Elizabeth went back to her kitchen, and 
stood listening for her young mistress's famil- 
iar knock. Mr. Lyon seemed to have listened 
too, for before she could reach it the door was 
already opened. 

There was a warm greeting — to her great 
relief: for she knew eho hud broken the do- 
mestic laws in admitting a stranger unaware;'. 
— and 'then Elizabeth heard them all three go 
into the parlor, where they remained talking, 
without ringing for either tea or candles, a lull 
quarter of an hour. 

Miss Hilary at last came out. but much to 
Elizabeth's surprise, went straight up intoher 
bedroom without entering the kitchen at all. 

It wassome minutes more before she descend- 
ed : and then, after giving her orders for tea, 
and seeing that all was arranged with special 
neatness, she stood absently by the kitchen 
fire. Elizabeth noticed h#w wonderfully bright 
her. eyes were, and what a soft, happy smile 
she had. She noticed it, because she had 
never seen Miss Hilary look exactly like that 
before ; and she never did again. 

." Don't you be troubling yourself with wait- 
ing about here." she said; and her -mistress 
seemed to staii at being spoken to. " I'll get 
the tea all right. Miss Hilary. Please go back 
into the parlor." 



Hilary went in 



(JfMPTER VI. 

Elizabeth got tea ready with unwonted 
diligence and considerable excitement. Any 
visitor was a rare occurrence in this very quiet 
family ; but a gentleman visiter— a young gen- 



^6 



MISTRESS AND MAID, 



Ueman too — was a remarkable fact, arousing 
both interest and curiosity. For in the latter 
quality this girl of seventeen could scarcely be 
expected to be deficient : and as to the former, 
she had so completely identified herself with 
the family she served, that all their concerns 
were her concerns also. Her acute comments 
on their few guests, and on their little schol 



Scott, Fenimore Cooper, Maria Edgeworth, 
and Harriet Maftineau. When this strange 
gentleman appeared — in ordinary coat and 
hat, or rather GMengary bonnet, neither partic- 
ularly handsome nor particularly tall, yet 
whose coming had evidently given' Miss Hila- 
ry so much pleasure, and who, once or twice 
while waiting at tea. Elizabeth fancied she had 



are, sometimes amused Hilary as much as her seen looking at Miss Hilary as nobodv ever 
criticisms on the books she read But as nei- looked before — when Mr. Rebert Lyon appear- 
ther wereever put forward intrusively or imper-'ed on the horizon, the faithful "bower maiden" 



tinently, she let them pass, and only laughed 
"over them with Johanna* in private. 

Jn speaking of these said books, and the 
questions they led to, it was not likely but that 



the other seventeen — should occasionally light 
upon a subject, rather interesting to women of 



was a goo ideal disappointed. 

She had expected something better: at all 
events, something different, flcr first bril- 
liant caStle in the air fell, poor lass ! but she 



mis tress and maid — one aged twenty-two, and "quickly built it up again, and, with the vivid 



imagination of her age, she mapped out the 
whole future, ending by a vision of Miss II il- 



iheir ages, though not commonly discussed ary, all in white, sweeping down the Terrace 
between mistresses and maids. Nevertheless, in a. carriage and pah — to fortune and happi- 
when itdidcomein theway, Mies Hilary never ness ; leaving herself, though with a sore want 
shirked it, but talked it out, frankly and freely, at her heart, and a great longing to follow, to 



-he would to any other person. 

" The girl has feelings and notions on the 
.natter, like all other girls, i suppose," reas- 
oned she to herself ; "so it is important that 



devote the remainder of her natural life to 
Miss Johanna. 

** Her couldna do without somebody to see 
to her — and Miss Selina do worrit her so," 



her notions should be kept clear, and her feel-; muttered Elizabeth, in the excitement of this 



ings right. It may do her some good, and 
save her from much harm.' 

And so it befell that Elizabeth Hand, whose 
blunt ways, unlovely person, and temperament 
no oddly nervous and reserved, kept her from 
attracting any " sweetheart" of her own class, 
had unconsciously imbibed her mistress's the 
ory of love. Love, pure and simple, the very 



Almaschar vision, relapsing into her old pro- 
vincialisms. "So, even if Miss Hilary axes 
me to come, I'll stop. T reckon. Ay. I'll stop 
wi' Miss Leaf." 

This valorous determination taken, the poor 
maid servant's dream was broken by the 
opening of the parlor door, and an outcry of 
Ascott's for his coat and gloves, he having to 
deepest and highest, sweetest and most solemn! fetch' his aunts home at nine o'clock, Mr. Lyon 
thing in life: to be believed jn devoutly untillaccompar.ying him. And as they all stood 
it came, and when it did come, to be held to, together at the frontdoor, Elizabeth overheard 
firmly, faithfully, with a single-minded, settled; Mr. Lyon say something abo'uf what a beau- 
constancy, till death. A creed, quite impos- tiful night it was. 
siblei many will say. in this ordinary world, 
and most dangerous to be put into the head of 
a poor servant. -Yet a woman is but a ivp- 
rnaii, be she maid-servant or queen ; and if, 
from queens to maid-servants, girls were 
taught thus to think of love, there might be a 



"It would do you no harm; Miss Hilary ; 
will you walk with us 
'.« if you like." 

Hilary went up stairs for her bonnet and 
shawl : but when, a minute or two after, Eli- 
zabeth followed her with a candle, she found 
: 'ew more '•broken" hearts perhaps, but therelher standing in the centre of the room, all in 



vould certainly be fewer wicked hearts; far 

ewer corrupted lives o 1 ' men, and degraded 

ivt-s of women ; far fewer unholy marriages, 

desolated, drear 7, homeless homes. . 

Elizabeth, having c!t : aied away her tea- 
lungs, Btood listening to the voices in the 
parlor, and pondering. . 

She bad .sometimes wondered in her own 
mind that no knight ever came to carrv nit 



[ark, her face white and her 1 hands trem- 
bliug. 

■• Thank you,thauk you !" she said mechari 
ically, as Elizabeth folded and fastened hei 
shawl for her — and descended immediately. 
Elizabeth watched her take, not Ascott's arm. 
but Mr. Lyon's, and walk down the Terrace 
in the starlight. 

•• Some'at's wrong. I'd like to know who's 
been a-vexin' of her.'' though! fiercely the 



voung servant. 



her charming princess — her- admired and be- 
loved Mise Hilary. Mis II ilnry, on her. p;. 

seemed totally indiilV-n ; fo the youth ■ '■'■ No, nobody had 1 ■•en "a-vexing" her mi»- 
Stowbury ; who indeed v> ere. Elizabeth 1 ess. There was nobody to blame; only 

•d. . t-uite unwi.i !i\ her regard. The only suit- there had ed to Hilary one of those 

aide lover few her young mistress must be) things which strike like a sword through a 
somebody exceedingly grand and noble — a young and happy heart, taking all the life and 
compound of the best heroes, of Shak6peare,J youth out of it. 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



27 



Robert Lyon had, half an hour ago, told her 
— a"nd she had had to hear it as a piece of sim- 
ple news, to which she had only to Ray, " In- 
deed !" — that to day and to-morrow were his 
two last Jays at Stowbury — almost his last in 
England. Within a week he was to sail for 
India. . 

There had befallen him what most people 
would have considered a piece of rare good 
fortune. At the London University, a fellow 
student, whom he had been gratuitously 
'-'coaching" in Hindostanee, fell ill, and was 
" thrown upon his hands," as- he briefly defined 
services which must have been, great, since 
the, - had resulted in this end.* The young 
man's father — a Liverpool and Bombay mer- 
chant — made him an offer to go out there, to 
their house, at a rising salary of 300 rupees a 



is over, but it has left its scars. Strange ! I 
have been poor all my life, yet I never till 
now felt an actual terror of poverty/' 

Hilary shrank within herself, less even at 
the words than at something in their tone — 
something hard, nay fierce; something atonce 
despairing and aggressive. 

" It is strange," she said : " such a terror is 
not like you. I feel none ; I can not even un- 
derstand it." 

" No, I knew you could not," he muttered; 
and was silent. 

So was Hilary. A vague trouble came over 
her. Could it be that he, Robert Lyon, had 
been seized with the auri sacra fames, which 
he had so often inveighed against and despis- 
ed ? that his long battle with poverty had 
caused in him such an overweening desire for 
month for three years : after the third year to riches that, to obtain them, he would sacrifice 
become a junior partner : remaining at Bom- every thing else, exile himself to afar countrv 



bay in that capacity for two years more. 

This he tola to Hilary and Ascott in almost 
as few words as I have here put it — for brevity 



for years, selling his verv life and soul for 
gold? 

Such a thought of him was so terrible — that 



seemed a refuge to him. It was also to one of is, would have been were it tenable — that 
them. But Ascott asked so many questions Hilary for an instant telt herself shiver all 
that his aunt needed to ask none. She onl\|Over. The next she spoke out — injustice tc 
.listened, and tried to take all in, and understand him she forced herself to speak out — all her 
it. that is, in a consecutive, intelligent, business honest soul. 

shape, without feeling it. She dared not let: " I do believe that this going abroad to make 
herself feel it, not foY a second, till they were a fortune, which young men so delight in. is 
out. arm-in-arm, under the quiet winter stars, often a most fatal mistake. They g've up tar 
Then she heard his voice asking her, more than they gain — country, home, health. 

•'So you think I was right?*' II think a man has.no rightto sell his life any 

more than his soul for so many thousand- 



" Right?" s-he echoed mechanically. 

*• I mean in accepting that sudden chance, 
and changing my whole plan of life. I did not 
do it — believe me — without a motive." 

"What motive? she would once unhesita- 
tingly have asked: now she could not. 

Robert Lyon continued speaking, distinctly 
and yet in an undertone, that though Ascott 
was walking a few yards off', Hilary felt was 



year. 

Robert Lyon smiled — '"No, and I am not 
selling mine. With my temperate habits I 
have as good a chance of health at, Bombay as 
in London — perhaps better. And the years I 
must be absent I would have been absent al- 
most as much from you — I mean they would 
have been spent in work as engrossing and a- 
hard. They vviU soon pas.s, and then I shall 

Do von think I are 



meant for her alone to hear 

. "The change is, you perceive, from the lifeicome home rich — rich, 
of a student to that of a man of business. Iigrowing mercenary?" 
do not deny that I preferred the first. Once! " No." 
upon a time to be a fellow in a college, or a! "Tell me what you do think about me?'* 



professor, or the like, was my utmost aim 
and I would have half killed myself to attain 
it. Now, 1 think differently.'"' 

He paused, but did not seem to require an 
answer, and it did not come. 

" I want, not to be rich, but to get a decent 
competenco^and to get it as soon as I can. 



" I — can not quite understand.'" 
"And I cannot make you understand. Per- 
haps I will, some day when I come back again. 
Till then, you must trust me, Hilary." 

It happens occasionally, in moments of a!' 
but intolerable pain, that some small thing, a 
word, a look, a touch of a hand, lets in such 
want not to ruin my health with incessant a gleam of peace that nothing ever extin- 
study. I have already injured it a good deal. "Iguishes tb£ light of it: it busns on for years 
" Have yon been rTl ? You never said so.'' and years, sometimes clear, sometimes ob- 
"Oh no. it was hardly worth while. Andscured, but as ineffaceable from life and mem- 
I knew an active life would soon set me right ory as a star from its place in the heavens, 
again. No fear ! there's life in theold dog yet. [Such, both then, and through the lonely years 
He does not wish to die. But," Mr. Lyon'fo come, were those five weds, " You must 
pursued, '■ I have had a ' sair fecht' the la 5 -' trust me. Hilarv." 

year or two. 1 would not go through it again,! She diu . uud in the perfect ::ess of that trust 
«or see any on« dear to me go through it. It] her # own. separate identity, with all^its con- 



28 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



sciousness of pain, seemed annihilated; she; 
did not think of herself at all, only of him. 
and with him, and for him. So, for the time 
being, she lost all sense of personal suffering'. 
and their walk that night was as cheerful and 
happy as if they were to walk together fori 
weeks and months and 'years, in undivided 
confidence and concent, instead of its being 
the last — the very last. 

Some one has said that all lovers have, soon 
or late, to learn to be only friends: happiest 
and safest are those in whom the friendship is 
the foundation — always firm and ready to fall 
back upon, long after the fascination of pas- 
sion dies. It may take a little from the ro- 
mance of these two if I own that Robert Lyon 
talked to Hilary not a word about love, and a 
good deal about pure business, telling her all 
his affairs and arrangements, and giving her 
as clear an idea of his future life as it was pos-, 
sible to do within the limits of one brief half 
hour. • 

Then casting a glance round, and seeing that 
Ascott was quite out of ear-shot, hesaid^with 
that tender fall of the voice that felt, as some 
poet hath it, 

" Like a still embrace," 

" Now tell me as much as you can about 
yourself." 

_ At first there seemed nothing to tell ; but 
gradually he drew from Hilary a good deal. 
Johanna's feeble health, which caused her 
continuing to teach to be very unadvisable ; 
and the gradual diminishing of the school— I 
from what cause they could 'not account — 
which made it very doubtful whether some 
change would not soon or late be ncessarv. 

What this change should be she and Mr. 
Lyon discussed a little — ae ■;•!•, 

indefiii. itiou of affaire was !>os:-i : 

Also, from some other qu .- j. his, she 

spoke to him about another dread which had 
lurked in her mind, and yet to which she 
could give no tangible shape, about, Ascott. 
He could not remove it, he did not attem 
but be soothed it a little, advising with her' as 
to the best way of managing the wilful lad. 
His'strong, clear sense, just judgment, and, 
above all, a certain un3poken sense of union, 
as if all, that concerned her and hers he took 
naturally upon himself as his own, gave Hila- 
ry such comfort that, even on this night, with 
a full consciousness oi' nil 'hat was to follow, 
ahe was happy— nay. she uacLnotbeen so ha o 
py foryeais. Perh . . ;. : ( ,id. 

the glorious truth o; tru lrl recog- 

nition, spoken or silent., co the only 

perfect joy of life, that of t» > tmUU one)—] 
haps she had net mee 

ahe w r f.s born. • , 

The last thing he d ! ,;,■ J; , ; , give 

him an assurance thai in any and all difnen 
ahe would apply to him. 



" To me, and to noone else, remember. No 
one but myself must help you. And I will, so 
long as I am alive. Do you believe this?" 

She looked up at him bv the lamp light, and 
said, " I do." 

' And vou promise?" 

" Yes." 

Then they loosed arms, and Hilary knew 
that they should never walk together again 
till — when and how ? 

Returning, of course, he walked with Mise 
Leaf: and throughout the next day, a terribly • 
wet Sunday, spent by them entirely in the lit- 
tle parlor, they had not a minute of special or 
private talk together. He did not seem tc 
wish it; indeed, almost avoided it. 

Thus slipped away the strange, still day — a 
Sunday never to be forgotten. At night, after 
prayers were over, Mr Lyon rose suddenly, 
saying he must leave them now; he was obli- 
ged to start from Stowbur-y at daybreak. 

" Shall we not see you again ?" asked Jc- 
hanna. 

"No. This will be mv last Sunday in En- 
gland. Good by!" 

He turned excessively pale, shook hand 
lently with them all — Hilary last — and almost 
before they recognized the fact, he was gone. 

With him departed, not all Hilary's peace 
or faith or courage of heart, for to all whole 
truly, while the best beloved lives, and lives 
worthily, no parting is hopeless and no grief, 
overwhelming; but all *the brightness of her 
youth, all the sense of joy that young people 
have in loving, and in being beloved again, in 
fond meetings and fonder partings,, in endk 

ke and talks, in sweet kisses and clinging 
am . v ..h happiness was not for her : when, 
sire saw it the lot of others, she said to herseH 
■ •times with a natural sharp sting of pair, 
but oftener with a solemn acquiescence, " It is 
the will of God : it is the will of tiud." 

Johanna. Too, who would have given her 
life almost to bring some color back to the 
white face of her darling, of whom she asked 
no questions, and who never complained nor. 
confessed any thing, many and many a night 
when Hilary either lay awake by her side, or- 
tossed and moaned in her sleep, till the eld 
sister took her in her arms like a baby —Jo- 
hanna, too. said to herself. " This is the will 
ot God."' 

I have told thus much in detail, the brief, 
sad story of Hilary's youth, to |)iow how im- 
ible i; was that Elizabeth Hand could live 
in the house with these two women without 
being strongly infhiencfU by them, as even 
person — ly every woman — influence.' 1 , 

for good or '"or nvil every other person connect- 
ed, with her, or dependent upon her. 

Elizabeth was a girl of close observation and 
keen . . Besides, to must people, 

whether or not their sympathy be univerotti, 
eo far a* the individual is concerned, any deep 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



29 



attection generally lends eves, tact, and deli- 
cacy. 

Thus when on the Monday morning at break- 
fast Miss Selina observed, " What a fine day 
Mr. Lyon was havingfor his journey : what a 
lucky fellow he was ; how he would be sure 
to make a fortune, and -if 60, she wondered 
whether they should ever see or hear any 
thing of him again" — Elizabeth, from the 
glimpse she caught of Miss Hilary's face, and 
from the quiet way in which Miss Leaf merely 
answered, " Time will show :" and began talk- 
ing to Selina about some other subject — Eliz- 
abeth resolved never in any way to make the 
smallest allusion to Mr. Robert Lyon. Some- 
thing had happened, she did not know what : 
and it was not her business to, find out ; the 
family affairs, so far as she was trusted with 
them, were warmly her own, but into the 
family secrets she had no right to pry. 

Yer, long-after Miss Selina had ceased to 
"wonder" about him, or even to name him — 
his presence 01 absence did not touch her per- 
sonally, and she was always the centre of her 
own small world of interest— the little maid- 
servant kept in her mind, and pondered over 
at odd limes every* possible solution of the 
mystery of this gentleman's sudden visit ; of 
the long wet Sunday when he sat all day talk- 
vith her mistresses in the parlor; of the 



And the sight of Miss Plilary going about 
the house and school room as usual, with that 
poor white face of hers; nay, gradually bring- 
ing to the family fireside, as usual, her harm- 
less little joke, an,d her merry laugh at it and 
herself — who shall say what lessons may no', 
have been taught by "this to the humble serv- 
ant, dropping deep sown into her heart, to 
germinate and fructify, as her future life's 
needs required?. 

It might have been so — God knows! He 
alone can know, who, through what (to. us) 
seem the infinite littleness of our mortal exist- 
ence, is educating us into the infinite greatness 
of His and our immortalitv. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Autumn soon lapsed into winter ; Christ- 
mas came and went, bringing, not Ascott, as 
they hoped and he had promised, but a very 
serious evil in the shape of sundry bills of his, 
which, he confessed in a most piteous letter to 
his Aunt Hilary, were absolutely unpayable 
out of his godfather's allowance. They were 
not large — or would not have seemed so to 
rich people — and they were for no more bla- 
niable luxuries than horse hire, and a dinner 
evening prayer, when Miss Leaf had twice to or two to friends out in.the-country ; but they 
stop, her voice faltered so; and of the night: looked serious to a household which rarely 
when, long after all the others had gone to was more than five pounds beforehand with 
bed. Elizabeth, coming suddenly into the -par- the world.* 

lor, had found Miss Hilary sitting alone over He had begged Aunt Hilary to keep hisse- 
the embers of the fire, with the saddest, sad- cret, but that was evidently impossible ; so on 
dest look! so that the girl had softly shut the the day the school accounts were being written 
floor again without ever speaking to "Mis-out and sent in, and their amount anxiously 
sis." (reckoned, she laid before her sisters the lad's 

Elizabeth did more; which, strange as it lettei, full of penitence and promises 
may appear, a servant who is supposed tp 
know nothing of any thing that has happened 
can often do better than a member of the faui- 



I will be careful — I will indeed — if you 
will help me out this once, dear Aunt Hilary ; 
and don't think too ill of me. I have done 



ily who knows every thing, and this knowledge nothing wicked. And you don't know Lon- 
is sometimes the most irritating consciousness don ; you don't know, with a lot of young 
a sufferer has. She followed her young mis- 1 fellows about one, how very hard it is to say 
tress with a steady watchfulness, so quiet and no. 



silent that Hilary never found it out; saved 
her every little household care, gave herevery 
little household treat. Not much to do, and 
less to- be chronicled; but the way in which 
she did it was all. 

During the long dull winter days, to come 
in and find the parlor fire always bright, the 
hearth clean swept, and the room tidy : never 



At that unlucky. postscript the Misses Leaf 
sorrowfully exchanged looks. Little the lad 
thought about it: but these few. words were 
the very sharpest pang Ascott had ever given 
to Jiis aunts. 

" What's bred in the bone will come out in 
the flesh." Like father like son." "Thesins 
of the parents shall be visited on the children." 



to enter the kitchen without the servant's face So runs many a proverb ; so confirms the un- 
clearing up into a smile; when her restlesslerring decree of a just God, who would not be 
irritability made her forget things and growja just God did He allow Himself to break His 
quite vexed in the search after them, to seefown righteous laws for the government of the 
that somehow her shoes were never misplaced, universe : did He falsify the requirements of 
and her gloves alw.ays came to hand in some His own holy and pure being, by permitting 
mysterious manner — these trifles, in her first any other wages for sin than death. ' And 
heavy days of darkness, soothed Hilary more though, through His mercy, sin forsaken es- 
than words could tell. [capes sin's penalty, and every human being 



30 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



iias it in his own power to modify, if not to: understand 

concur, any hereditary moral as well as phys- 1 '« We must not let the boy remain in debt ; 

ical disease, thereby avoiding the doom and it would be such a disgrace to the family " 

alleviating the curse, still the original Jaw re- " It is not the remaining in debt, but the 

mams in force, and ought to remain, an ex- incurring oft it, which is the real disgrace to 

ample and a warning. As true as that every A«c6tt and the family " • 

individual sin that a man commits breeds! " Hush, Hilary/', said Johanna, poinUi 

multitudes more, is it that every todividual the opening dooi ; but it was too late 

sinner may transmit his. own peculiar tvDe of pi;,„u„.i ■ u ■ • , ' , 

weakness or wickedness to a whole racTdis- I JSfw ft IT 8 * J 'KZ ^ lU 

appearing^ one generation', re-appearing in J^^u 1 ? tZ TF^f 7*a ?** T°* 

another, exactly the same as physical pecu-i ™S! K 'i " «*&"?* h / T ~ haA 

liaritiesdo. requiring the utmost caution MSS^^A^^U^^^^ 

tier conscious lace showed it ; more especially 



education to counteract the terrible tendencies 
of nature— the "something in the blood" which 
is so difficult to eradicate - : which 
make the third amijfourth generation execrate 
the memory of him or her who was its origin. 

The long life-curse of Henry Leaf the elder, 
and Henry Leaf the younger, had. been — the 
women of the family well knew— that they 
were men who " couldn't say No." So keenh 
were the three sisters alive to this fault — i'l 
could hardly be called a crime, pud yet m its 
consequences it was so — so sickening the ter- 
ror of it which their own wretched experience 
had implanted in their minds, that during As- 
cott's childhood and youth his very fractious- 
ness and roughness, his little selfishness, and 
his persistence in his own will against theirs, 
had been hailed by his aunts as a good omen 
that he would grow up "so unlike his poor 
lather." 

11 the two unhappy Henry Ifcafs — father 
and son — could have come out of their graves 
that night and beheld these three women, 
daughters and sisters, sitting with Ascott's let- 
ter on the table, planning how the household's 
small expenses could be contracted, it- 
smaller luxuries relinquished, in order that the 
boy might honorably pay for pleasures he 
might so easily have done without! If they 
could have seen the weight of apprehension 



the bright scarlet which covered both her 
cheeks when Miss Leaf said " Hush \" She 
ay eve^ st00( ^ apparently irresolute as to whether she 
should run away again : and then Her native 
honesty got the upper hand, and she advanced 
into the room. 

" If you please, missis. I didn't mean to— 
but I've heard—" 

" What have vou heard ; that is. how 
much?" 

"Just what Miss Hilary said. Don't be 
afeared. I shan't tell. J never chatter about 
the family. Mother told me not." 

"You owe a great deal, Elizabeth, to your 
good mother. .Now go away." 

'• And another rime." said Miss Selina, 
" knock at the door." 

This was Elizabeth's first initiation into 
what many a servant has to share — the.seoret 
burden of the family. After that day. though 
they Sid not actually confide in her." her mis- 
tresses used no effort to conceal thai they had 
cares: that the domestic economies must, this 
winter, lie especially studied: there must fte 
no extra fires, no candles left burning tp waste ; 
and once a week or so, a tew butterfesa br 
fasts or meatless dinners must be partaken of 
cheerfully, in both parlor and kitchen. The 
Misses Leaf never stinted their servant in anv 



which then sank like a atone on these long "' which they did not stint themselves 



tried 'hearts, never to be afterward removed ; 
lightened sometimes, but always — however 
Ascot: might promise and amend — always 
there ! On such a discoi ery, surely, these two 
"poor. ghosts'' would have fled away moan- 
ing, wishing they had died childless, or that 
during their mortal lives any amount of self- 
restraint and self-coin pulsion had purged from 
their natures the accursed thing: the Bin which any rea 
had worked itself out in sorrow upon every 
one belonging to them, years after their owii 
laid in the quiet dust. 
; We must do it," was the conclusion the 
Mi--e> Leaf una vimoush came to; even Seli- 
na; who. with ai. her faults, haVTa fair share 



Strange. to say, in spite of Miss - pro- 

phecies, the girl's respectful conduct did not 
abate: on the contrary, it seemed to increase. 
The nearer she was lifted to her mistress'-; 
level, the more her mind grew, so that sin 
could better understand her misti 
and the deeper became her consciousm 
the only thing which gives one human bein- 
over another — personal 



authority 
character; 

Therefore, though the family means were' 
narrowed, and the family .luxuries few, Eliza- 
beth cheerfully put up with all ; she even felt 
a sort of pride in wasting nothing and in ma- 
king the bes! of every thing, a.- the others did. 



of good feeling and ct that close clmgmg to Perhaps, it may le"8aid*»he was an exceptions 
kindred whu h is found in fallen households, servant : and yet I would not do her class the 



or households whom the sacred bond of com 
mon poverty, has drawn together in a way that 



wrong to believe so-I would rather believe thai 
there are many such among it ; many good, 



i ui j — il • i • "*— ™"* w <* 1C maiijr ouuii among u ; many goou, 

large, well-to-do home circles can never quitej.honest, faithful girls, who only need goodmie- 



MISTRESS AtfD MAID. 



31 



tresses untolwhorn to be honest and faithful, 
and they would be no less so than Elizabeth 
Hand. ' 

The months, went by — heavy and anxious 
months : tor the school gradually dwindled 
away, and Ascott'a letter — now almost the only 
connection his aunts had with the outer world. 



but what he wrote was like what he spoke, 
the accurate reflection of his own clear, orig- 
inal mind and honest, tender heart. 

His letters gave none the less .com'fort be- 
oause, nominally, they were addressed to 'Jo- 
hanna. This might have been from some 
crotchet of over-reserve, delicacy, or honor- 



fpr poverty necessarily diminished even their the same which made him part from her for 



years with no other word than, ' You must, 
trust me. Hilary;" but whatever it was she 
respected it, and she did trust him. And 
whether Johanna answered his letters or not, 
month by month they unfailingly came, keep- 
ing her completely informed of all his proceed- 
ings, and letting out, as epistles written from 
over the seas often do, much mere of himself 
and his character than he was probably aware 
that he betrayed. 

And Hilary, whose sole experience of man- 
kind had been the scarcely remembered father, 
the too well remembered brother, and the anx- 
iously watched nephew, thanked God that 
there seemed to be one man in the world whom 
a woman could lean her heart upon, and not 
feel the support brSak like a reed beneath her 
— one man whom she could entirely believe in. 
and safely and sacredly trust. 



small Stowbury society — became more and 
more unsatisfactory; and the want of infor- 
mation in them was not supplied by those other 
letters which had once kept Johanna's heart 
easy concerning the boy. 
" Mr. Lyon had written once before sailing, 
nay. after sailing, for he had sent it home by 
the pilot from the English Channel: then 
there was, of course, 'silence. October, No- 
vember^December, January, February, March 
— how often did Hilary count the months, and 
wonder how soon a letter would come, wheth- 
er a letter ever would comeagain. And some- 
limes — the sharp present stinging her with its 
small daily pains, the future looking dark 
before her and them all — she felt so forlorn, 
so forsaken, that but for a certain tiny well- 
spring of hope, which rarely dries up till long 
after three-ar.d twenty, she could have sat 
down and sighed, " My good days are done." 

Rich people break their hearts much sooner 
than poor people ; that is, *hey more easily 
get into that morbid state which isglorified by 
the term, " a broken heart." Poor people can 
ndt afford It. Their constant labor "physics 
pain." Their few and narrow pleasures sel- 
dom pall. Holy poverty ! black as its dark 
side is, it has its bright side too, that is, when 
it is honest, fearless, free from selfishness, 
wastefulness, and bickerings : above all, free 
from the terror of debt. 

" We'll starve we'll go into the work house 
rather than we'll go into debt!" cried Hilary 
once, in a passion of tears, when she was in 
aore want of a shawl, and Selina urged her to 
get. it, and wait till she could pay for it. "Yes: 
the workhouse! It would be less shame to 
be honorably indebted to the laws of the land 
than to be meanlv, indebted, under false pre- 
tences, to any individual in it - " 

And when, in payment for some accidental 
lessons, she got next month enough money to ance. For they were poorer than they used 
buy a shawl, and a bonnet, too— nay,by greatlto be; many more schools had arisen in the 
ingenuity, another bounet for Johanna— Hil-itown, and theirs had dwindled away. It was 
ary could have danced and sang — 6ang, in thej becoming a source of serious anxiety whether 
gladness and relief of her heart, the glorious they could possibly make ends meet; and 
euthanasia of poverty. when, the next Christmas, Ascott sent them a 

But these things happened only occasional-' five pound note — an actual five pound note, 
iy : the daily life was hard still ; ay, very hard. 'together with a fond, grateful letter that was 
even though at last came the letter from " for- worth it all — the aunts were deeply thankful, 
eign parts;" and following it, at regular inland very hay; 

tervals, other letters. They were full of facts! But still the school declined. One night 
rather than feelings — simple, straightforward ; they were speculating upon the causes of this, 
Worth little as literary compositions; school-jand Hilary was declaring, in a half jocular, 
master and learned man as he was, there wasjhalf earnest way, that it must be because a 
nothing literary or poetical about Mr. Lyon ; prophet is never a prophet in his own ceuu- 



OHAPTEK VIII. 

Time slipped by. Robert Lyon had been 
away more than three years. But in the mo- 
notonous life of the three sisters at Stowbury, 
nothing was changed. Except, perhaps, Eliz- 
abeth, who had grown quite a woman ; might 
have passed almost for thirty ; so solidly old 
fashioned were her fi i her manners. 

Ascott Leaf had finished his walking the 
hospitals and -his examinations, and was now 
fitted to commence practice for himself. His 
godfather had still continued his allowance, 
though once or twice, when he came down to 
Stowbury, he had asked his aunts to help him 
m small debts- the last time in one a little 
more serious; when, after some sad and sore 
consultation, it had been resolved to tell him 
he must contrive to live within his own allow- 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



32 



try. 

" Tlie Stowbury people will never believe 
. how clever I am. Only, it is a useless sort of 
cleverness, I fear. Greek. Latin, and mathe- 
matics are no good to infants under" seven, 
•such as Stowbury persists in sending to us." 

'•They think 1 am only fit t© teach little 
children — and perhaps it is true." said Miss 
Leaf. 

"I wish you had not to teach at all. I wish 
I was a daily governess — I might be, and earn] 
enough to keep the whole family : only, not! 
here." 

" I wonder, said Johanna, thoughtfully, "if 
we shall have to make a change." 

"A change!" It almost pained thp elder 
sister to see how the younger brightened up at 
the word. "Where to— -London ? Oh, I have 
so longed to go and live in London! But I 
thought you would not like it. Johanna/' 

Thar was true. Miss Leaf, whom feeble 
health had made prematurely oM, would wil- 
lingly have ended her days in the familiar 
town; but Hilary was young and strong. Jo- 
hanna called to mind the dfys when she too 
had felt that rest was only another name for 
dullness ; and when the fnost difficult thing 
possible to her was what seemed now so easy 
. — to sit down and endure. 

Besides, unlike herself, Hilary had her life 
all before her. It might be a happy life, safe 
in a good man's tender keeping; those unfail- 
ing letters from India seemed to prophecy thai 
it would. But no one could say. Miss Leaf's 
own experience had not led her to place much 
faith in either men or happiness. 

Still, whatever Hilary's future might be, it 
wouklftikely be a very different one from that 
quiet, colorless life of hers. And as she looked 
at her younger sister, with the twilight glow 
511 her face — they were taking an evening stroll 
up and down the terrace — Johanna hoped and 
prayed it might be so. Her own lot seemed 
easy enough for herself; but for Hilary — she 
would like to. see Hilary something better than 
a poor schoolmistress at Stowbury. 

No more was said at that time, but Johan- 
na had the deep, still, Mary-like nature, which 
'•kept" things, and "pondered them in her 
heart." So that when the subject came up 
again she was able to meet it with that sweet 
calmness, which was her especial characteris- 
tic — the unruffled peace of a soul, which no 
worldly storms could disturb overmuch, for 
it had long since cast anchor in the world un- 
seen. 

The chance which revived the question of 
the Great Metropolitan liegira, as Hilary 
called it; was a letter from Mr. Ascott, as fol- 
lows : 

•■Mis.-; LbAE- 

'■Mvdaji,— 1 shall be obliged by your informing me if it 
is your wish, as it seems to be your nephew's, that instead 
of returning to Stowbury, he Bhould settle in London as a 
surgeon and general practitioner I 



•' His education complete, I consider that I haTe done my 
duty by him ; but I may assist him occassonally still, unless 
he turns out — as his father did befire him — a young man 
who prefers being helped to helping himself, in which case 
I Bhall have nothing more to ilo with him. 

"I remain. Madam, your obedient servant, * 

•■ I'etkp. Ascott." 

The sisters read this letter, passing it round 
the table, none of them apparently likii 
he the first to' comment upon it. At length 
Hilary said : 

"I think that reference to poor Usury ie 
perfectly brutal." 

" And yet he was very kind to Henry. And 
if it had not been for hiscommon sens* in send-, 
ing poor little Ascott and the nurse down to 
Stowbury the baby might have died. But you 
don't remember any thing of that time, my 
dear," said Johanna, sighing. 

"He has been kind enough, though*he has 
done it in such a patronizing way." observed 
Selina. " I suppose that's the real reason of 
!iis doing it. He thinks it fine to patronize 
us, and show kindness to our family'; he, the 
stout, bullet-headed grocer's boy, who used to 
sit and stare at us all church time." 

•' At you — you mean. Wasn't he called 
your beau?" said Hilary mischievously, ipon 
which Selina drew herself up in great indig- 
nation. 

And then they fell to talking of that anxious 
question — Ascott's future. A little they re- 
proached themselves that they had left the lad 
so long in London — so lon^out of the influ- 
encc that might have. counteracted the evil, 
sharplj hinted in his godfather's letter. But 
once away — to lure him back to their poor 
home was impossible. 

" Suppose we were to go to him/' suggested' 
Hilary. 

The poor and friendless possess one- great- 
advantage— they have nobody to ask advice 
of; nobody to whom it matters much what 
they do or where they go. The family mind 
has but to make itself up. and act accordingly. 
Thus within an hour or two of the receipt of 
Mr. Ascott's letter Hilary went into the kitch- 
en, and told Elizabeth that as soon as her 
work was done Misb Leaf wished to have a 
little talk with her. 

" Eh ! what's wrong? Has Miss Selina been 
a-grumbling a* ine ?" 

EiKfibe'h was in one of her bad hum 
which, though of course th-ey never ought to 
have, servants do have as well as their supe- 
riors. Hilary perceived this by the way she 
threw the coals on and toesed the chairs about. 
But to-day her heart was full of far '..ore se- 
rious cares than Elizabeth's ill temper. She 
replied, composedly — ' 

" I have not heard that either of my sisters 
is displeased wijh.you. What they want to 
talk to you about is for your own good. We 
are thinking of making a great change. We 
intend to leave Stowbury and going to live in 
London," 



MISTRESS AND MAID, 



S3 



" Going to live in London !" 

Now, quick as her tact ami observation 
were — her lieart taught her these things — Eli- 
zabeth's head was a thorough Saxon one, 



Leaf smiled, half sadly, as if this, the first of 
the coming changes, hurt her more than she 
liked to express. "Come, my girl/' she add- 
ed. " vi. u needn't look so serious. We are not 



slow to receive impressions, it was a family, in the least vexed with you; we shall be very 
saving, that nothing was 80 hard as to put a I sorry to lose you, and we will give you the 
new idea into Elizabeth except to get it out best of characters when you leave." • 



again. 

for this reason Hilary preferred paving the 
way quietly, before startling her with the 
den intelligence of their contemplated change. 

" Well, what do you say to the plan ?" ask- 
ed she. .good humoredly. 

•' I dun no! like it at all," was the brief gruff 
answer of Elizabeth Hand. • 

Now it was one of Miss Hilary's doctrines 
that no human being is good for much unless 
he or she has what is called " a will of one's 
own." Perhaps this, like many anothercreed, 
was with her the result of circumstances. But 
she held it firmly, and with that exaggerated 
one-sidedness of feeling which any bitter fam- 
ily or personal experience is sure to leave be- 
hind — a strong will was her first attraction to 
every body. It had been so in the case of 
Robert Lyort, and not less in Elizabeth's. 

But this quality has its inconveniences. 
When the maid began sweeping up her hearth 
with a noisy, angry gesture, the mistress did 
the wisest and most dignified thing a mistress 
could do under the circumstances., arid which 



" 1 dunnot — mean — to leave." 

Elizabeth threw out the words like pellets, 
in a choked fashion, and disappeared suddenly 
from the parlor. 

'• Who would have thought it!" exclaimed 
Selina; " I declare the girl was crying." 

No mistake about that ; though when, a few 
mi nates after, Miss Hilary entered the kitchen, 
Elizabeth tried in a hurried, shamefaced way 
to hide her tears by being very busy over 
something. Her mistress took no notice, but- 
began, as: usual on washing days, to assist in 
various domestic matters, in the midst of 
which she said, quietly, 

•• And so, Elizabeth, you would really like 
to go to London ?" 

- 'No! I shouldn't like it at all ; never said 
I should.' But if you go, I shall go too; though 
6 is so ready to get shut o' me." 

'• It was for your own good, you know." 

" You always saiu it was for a girl's good to 
stop in one place; and if you think I'm going 
to another, I aren't that's all." 

Rude as the form of the speech was — almost 



she knew was the sharpest rebuke she could. the first rude speech that Elizabeth had ever 
administer to the sensitive Elizabeth — shej made to Miss Hilary, and which, underother 
immediately quitted the kitchen. circumstances she would have felt bound se- 

For an hour alter the parlor bell did not jVerely to reprove — the mrstress passed it over, 
ring; and though it was washing day, no Mies That which lay beneath it, the sharpness of 
Hilary appeared to help in folding up the wounded 'ove, touched her heart. She felt 



'hat, for all the girl's rough manner, it would 
have been hard to go into her London kitchen 
and meet a strange London face', instead of 



clothes. Elizabeth,, suborned and wretched, 
waited till she could wait no longer; then 
knocked at the door, and asked humbly if she 
should bring in supper? that fond homely'one of Elizabeth Hand's. 

The extreme kindness of the answer, totfie Still, she thought it right to explain to her 
effect that she must come in. as they wanted to that London life might have many difficulties, 
speak to her, crushed the lingering fragments that, for the present at least, her wages could 
of ill humor out of the girl. not be raised, and the family might at first be 

"Miss Hilary has told you, our future plans, I in even more straitened circumstances than 
Elizabeth ; now we wish to have a little talk; they were at Stowbury. 
with you about yours." "Only at first, though, for I hope to find 

"Eh?" plenty of pupils, and by-and-by our nephew 

" We conclude you will not wish to go with will get into practice." 
us to London : and it would be hardly advis-j " Is it on account of him you're going,Mis3 
able you should. You can get higher wages Hilary ?" 
now than any we can afford to give you ; in- "Qhiefly." 

deed, we have more than once thought of tell- Elizabeth gavea* grunt which said as plainly 

on so. and offering you* your choice of as words could sav, " I thought so;" and re- 

ing for a better plac lapsed into what she, no doubt, believed to be 

" You're very kind," was the answer, stolid virtuous indignation, but which, as. it was 
rather than grateful. testified against the wrong parties, was open 

" No: I think we are merely honest. We to the less favorable interpretation of ill hu- 
should never think of keeping a girl upon low- mor — a small injustice not uncommon with us 
er wages than she was worth. Hitherto, nil." 
how%ver, the arrangement has been quite fair : I do not pretend to paint this young woman 

I you know, Elizabeth, you have given us adealjaj a perfect character. She had her fierce dis- 
of trouble in the teaching of you." And Miss j likes as well as her strong fidelities ; her faults 
1! 



34 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



withiu and without, which liSid to be struggled jumph" which came down through the lighted 
with, as all of us have to struggle to the very windows of the Town Hall, where the open-air 
end of our days. Oftentimes not till the battle 'ca drinkers had adjourned to dance country 
is nigh over— sometimes not till it is quite over dance?, by civic permission, and in perfectly 
— does God give us the victory. pectable jollity. 

Without more discussion on either side, it « j wonder," "said Hilary— while, despite 
was agreed that Elizabeth should accompany Bome natura i regret, her spirit stretched itself 
her mistresses. Even Mrs. Hand seemed to out eagerlv from the narrowness of the place 
be [-.teased thereat, her only doubt being lest ^i^ s i, e was boj . n into lie great wide world: 
her daughter should meet and be led astray by t ], e WO rld where so many grand things were 
that bad woman, Mrs. Clifre, Tommy Cliffe's thought and written and done: the world 
mother, who was reported to have gone to Robert Lyon had so long fought with, and 
London. But Miss Hilary explained that this wa8 fighting bravelv still—" I wonder, Eliza- 
meeting was about as probable as the ronton- beth, what sort of place London is, and what 
tre of two needles -in a hay-rick ; and besides. om . ]jf e , v \[\ b e j n ,f '"> 

Elizabeth was imt the sort of girl to be, easily ; E]izal)eth gaid nothi For lhe moment 

led astray by any body. L f ^ catch the reflected glow of 

*o .norhersagoodwench.thouglilsaysjh j . a , it ttM ^ inlu 

It, replied the mother, who, was too hard., •. . - '.. , A ■ . • „ - A _ M -i„ f {_ 1 

' , r. , . , ' . that look of mingled resistance and resolution 

worked to have much sentiment to spare. "1 ... , * ... ° , , -p # ,.,. .■, t 

■ i i.v 1-ij.i ; ■ i x. i which was habitual to her. t or the life that 

wish the little ; uns mav take pattern by our . , ... ., , „ v V - j*,i.„ 

w as to be, winch neither knew — oh, it they 



You'll send her home, maybe, ink ', i. 
; years' time, to let us have a look 



Elizabeth 
two or three 
at her ?" 

Miss Hilary promised, and then took her 
way back through the familiar old town — so 
soon to be familiar no more — thinking anx- 
iously, in spite of herself, upon those two or 
three years, andwhat they might bri 

It happened to be a notable day — that sun- 
shiny 28th of June — when the little, round- 



own 1 — she also was prepared. 



CHAPTER IX. 



Tun day of the Grand Hegira came. 

" 1 remember," said Miss Leaf, as they rum- 
bled for the last time through. the empftj mor- 
ning streets of poor old Sjowbury : " 1 renvem- 



cheeked damsel, who is a grandmother novi andmother telling me that when my' 

had thecrown-ot three kingdoms first set upon) grand y= her waa C0UTtin g her, and she out of 
her youthfal head ; and Stowbury, like eve-ry;^ ^ refuged him> ]l£ r set off on horeeback 
other town , n the land, was a perfect boweFof L Q l Loni \ nn and ghe wag so wre tched to'think 
green arches, garlands, banners ; white cover- l f M the d , 3 ])e mn on the jom . nev . ailli 
ed tables were spread in the open n jn Lcmlon ^ that sh reste(J ti|] , lu . 

almost every street, where poor men dined, or t Ljm back mu] then ^mediately married 
poor women drank tea : and .every body was u: m » 

out and abroad, looking at or sharing in the ., Xo ^ ( . at as(rophe islikelv to happen I to 
holiday making wild with merriment, and) of ex t perhaps t0 Elizabeth," said 
brimming over with passionate loyalty to th aUaryj ( F r>vi ' ng iQ l gQl Qp & liuIe feeble 

Maiden Queen. » mirth, any thing to pass away the time and 

That day is now twenty-iour years ago : but , essen ^ . of £. n whjch wag a]most 
all those who remember it must own there toQ mu(jh £ r Johanna# "?, What do you 9av? 
never has been a day like it when all over L)o u meaQ tQ married m Londoil> E ]i z . 
the country, every man s heart throbbed with aDe fu s» 

chivalrous devotion, every woman's with wo- ' But ' E , izabet h could make no answer, even 
manly ^tenderness, toward this one royal girl,| to kit|(1 Mie& H * ]ary Thcy bad nQt jlna „ incd 

she felt the leaving her native place so much. 
She had watched intently the last glimpse of 
xuiwj caiicu ,w, Kuvpruu^M t.ixuu»i. mr Stowlmrv c ] nlrch tower/and now sat with red- 
crowd, the little, timid, widow lady who had flened ' 8tari blanklyput ol thecarriage 

taken off the Misses Leaf s hands their house window 

and furniture, and whom they had made very _,.. , 

happy — as the poor otto: can make those still 

poorer than themselves— by refusing to accept Once or twice a li >w tea? gathered on 

any thing for the ''good will" of the school, each of her eyes, but it was shaken olf angrily 

Then she was fetched by Elizabeth, who had from the high cheek boms, and never settled 

been given a whole afternoon's holiday ; and into absolute crying. They thought it be 

mistress and maid went together home, watch- take no notice of her. Only, when reaching 



who, God bless her 
deserve it all. 



! has lived to letain and' 



ing the last of the festivities, the chattering 



'he new. small station, 



where 



tl 



le "• resotan! 



groups that still lingered in the twilight streets, steam eagles'' were, for the first time, beheld 
and listening to the merry notes of the "Tri-by the innocent Stowbury ladies, there areas 



MISTRESS AKD MAID. 



35 



a discussion as to the manner of traveling. Tear, toward her eldest sister, who looked so 
Miss Leaf said, decided! j " Second olass; and old and fragile beside that sturdy, healthful 
then we van keep Elizabeth with us." >n servant girl. " Elizabeth!" Elizabeth, rnb- 

wbich Elizabeth'!? mouth melted into some* bing Miss Leaf a feet, started £t the unwonted 
thing between a auiver and a smile, sharpness of Miss Hilary's tone. "There: 

Soon ii was'all over, and the little house- I'll do that for my Bister. Go and look out of 
hold was compressed into the humble second the window at London.'' 
class carnage, ■ hionless, For the great smoky cloud which began to 

whirling through indefinite England in a way Lj se in t j !e rainv horizon was indeed London, 
that confounded all the:: aphy and to-^ oon through the thickening nebula of houses 

pography. Gradually a d |they converged to what was then the nucleus 

into heavy, chilly July nun, the scarcely ke; railway traveling, the Euston Terminus, 

np spirits of the four passengers began to sink; aD£ ( were hustled on to the platform, and 
Johanna grew very white and worn. Selina j , t |.. ; ] helplessly to and fro these poor coun- 
became. to use Ascott's phrase, 'as cross as trv j^Jies ! Anxiously they scanned th% crowd 
twosticks, and even Hilary, taming her eyj ange faces for the one only face they knew 



from the gray sodden looking landscape with 
out, could find no spot of comfort to re 
within the 4 carriage, except that round rosy 
face of Elizabeth Hand's. 

Whether it was from the spirit of contradic- 
tion' existing in most such natures, which, es- 
pecially in youth, are more strong than sweet, 
or from a better feeling, the fact was noticea- 
ble, that when every one else's spirits went 
down Elizabeth's went up; Nothing could 

fit so sat 



in the great metropolis — which did not ap- 
pear. 

" It is very strange : very wrong of As- 
cott. Hilary, you surely told him the hour 
correctly. For ouce, at least, he might have 
been in time " 

So chafed Miss Selina, while Elizabeth, who 

by some miraculous effort of intuitive genius. 

ucceoded in collecting the luggage, wa* 

now engaged in defending- it from all comers. 



bring her out of a "grumpy 

torily as her mistresses falling into one. When es P ecia11 porters, and making of nt a comfort- 

•Miss Selina now began to fidget hither and 
thither, each tone of her fretful voice seeming' 



able seat for Miss Leaf. 

" Nay, have patience, Selina. We will gn e 

-o throng her eldest ster's every nerve. him J U8t live minutes more ' Hilary." 
till even Hilary said, impatiently, "Oh, Seli- ^ nd Johanna sat down, with her sweet, 
na, can't von be quiet?" then Elfzabeth rose^alm, long suffering face turned upward to that 
from the depth of her gloomy discontent up younger one, which was. as youth is apt to be. 
to the surface immediately. ' ' hot - and worried, and angry. And so thev 

She was ool/a servant ; but Nature bestows 'waited till the terminus was almost deserted, 
that strange vague thing that we term " iorcei^nd the last cab had driven off, when, sudden- 
of character" indepei of position. Hil-j'y, dashing up the station yard out of another, 

ary often reraember< how muchi came Ascott. 

more comfci tab! irney was] He was so sorry, so very sorry, downright 

than she had expected — how Johanna lay at grieved, at having kept his aunts waiting. But 
ease, with her feet in Elizabeth's lap. wrapped his watch was wrong— some fellows at dinner 
in Elizabeth's b vvJ ; and bow, detained him — the train was before its time 

when Selina's whole attention was turned toisurely. In, fact,' his aunts never quite made 
an ingenious contrivance with a towel and fork out what the excuse was ; but they looked into 
and Elizabeth's basket, for stopping the rain his bright handsome face, and their wrath 
out of the carria. —she became far less melted like. clouds before the sun. He w. 

jreeable, a/id even a little proud of her gentlemanly, so well dressed — much better 

pwn cleverness. And so r nere was a tempo- dressed than even at Stowbury — and beseemed 

lull in Hilary's cares, and she could sit so unfeignedly glad to see them. He handed 

; quiet, with her eyes fixed on the rainy land- them all into the cab — even Elizabeth, though 

! scape, which she did no- 'her though- ering meanwhile to his Aunt Hilary, 

wandering towfrd that unknown place and " What on earth did you bring her tor ?" and 

unknown life into which they were sweeping, then was just going to leap on to the box him- 

as we all sweep, ignorantly, unresistingly, al-'self, when hestopped to ask ""Where he should 

most unconsciously, into new destinies. Hil- tell cabby to drive to?" 

jtry, for the first time, began to doubt o& theirs. ''Where to?" repeated his aunts in undis- 

Anxious as she had been to go to London, andguised astonishment. They had never thought 

wise as the proceeding appeared, now that the of any thing but of being taken home at once 

die was cast and the cable cut, the old simple, by their boy.' 

peaceful life at Stowbury grew strangely .dear. " You see," Ascott said, in a little confusion, 
" I wonder if we shall ever go back again, or •• you wouldn't be comfortable with me. A 
what is to happen to us before we do go back," young fellow's lodgings are not like a house of 
she thought, and turned, with a half defined, one's own, and, besides — " 



36 



MISTRESS AND MAID, 



" Besides, when a young fel!ow is ashamed it :" which was the one only thing she conde- 
Of his old aunt?, lie can easily find reasons." scended to approve in London. She had sat 

"Hush, Selina!" interposed Miss Leaf, all evening urate in her corner, for Miss Leaf 
" My dear boy, your old aunts would r.ever let would not send her away into the terra incog- 
you inconvenience yourself for them. Take \nita of a London hotel." Ascott, at first con- 
us to an inn for the night, and to morrow wc siderably annoyed at the presence ol what he 
will find lodgings for ourselves." called a" skeleton at the feast." had afterward 

Ascott looked greatl 7 relieved. • got over it, and run on with" a mixture ol 

" And you are not vexed with me. Aunt childish glee and mannish pomposity about 
Johanna ?" said he, with something of hisohlhis plans and intentions — how he meant to 
childish , tone of compunction, as he saw — be take a house, he thought, in one of the squares, 
could not help; seeing — the utter wearineBsjor a street leading out of them ; now he would 
which Johanna tried so hard to hide. 'put up the biggest of brass plates, with "Mr. 



" No, my dear, not vexed. Only I wish we 
had known this a little sooner that we might 
have made arrangements. Now, where shall 
we go?" ' 



Leaf, surgeon," and soon gpt an extensive 
practice, and have all his aunts- to live, wtth 
him. And his aunts had smiled and listened, 
forgetting all about the silent figure in the 



Ascott mentioned a dozen hotels, but they corner, who perhaps had gorfe to sleep, or bad 
found he only knew them, by name. At last also listened. 

Miss Leaf remembered one, which her father- "Elizabeth, come and look 6ut at Lon- 
used to go. to, on his. frequent journeys toldon." 

London, and whence, indeed, he had beenj So she and Miss Hilary whilcd away an- 
brought home to die. And though all the other heavy three quarters of an hour in watch- 
recollections about it were sad enough, still it|ing and commenting on the incessantly shift- 
felt less strange than the rest, in this dieariness irtg crowd which swept past Ilolborn Bars. 
of London. So she proposed going to the "Old Miss Selina sometimes looked out too. but 
Bell," Ilolborn. more often sat fidgeting and wondering why 

" A capital place!" exclaimed Ascott, ea Ascott did not come'; while Miss Leaf, y.;ho 
gerly. ." And I'll take and. settle yon there -.never fidgeted,, became gradually more and 
and we'll order supper, and make a jolly night j more silent. Her eyes were fixed on the door; 
of it. AH right. Drive on, cabby." with an expression which, -if Hilary could have 

He jumped on the box, and then looked in remembered so far back, would have been to 
mischievously, flourishing his lit cigar, and her something not painfully new. but still 
shaking his long hair — his Aunt Selina'a two more painfully old — a look branded into her 
great abominations — right in her indignant face by many an anxious hour's listening for 
face : but withal looking so merry and good] the footstep that never came, or only came to 
tempered that she shortly softened into a bring distress. It was the ineffaceable token 
smile. of that long, long struggle between affection 

"How handsome the boy is growing!" and conscience, pUy and scarcely repressible 

" Yes," said Johanna, with «a slight sigh contempt, which] for more- than one genera- 
" and did you notice?" how exceedingly like 1 ion, had been the appointed burden of this 
his — " imily — at leas: the women of it — till some- 

.The sentence was left unfinished. Alas! if times it seetped to hang over them almost like 
every young man, who believes his faults and la fate. 

follies injure himself alone, could feel what it' About noon Miss Leaf proposed calling for 
must be, years afterward, to have his nearest the hotel bill. Its length so alarmed thecpun- 
kindred shrink from saying, as the saddest, try ladies that Hilary suggested not staying to 
most ominous thing they could say of his son. dine, but going immediately in search of lodg- 
that the lad is growing "so like his father!" ings. 

It might have been — they assured each other " What, without a gentleman ! Impossible! 
that it was — only the incessant', roll, roll of I always understood ladies could go nowhere 
the street sounds below- their windows, which in London without a gentlemen !" 
kept the Misses Leaf awake half the night of " We shall come very ill 4>iY then, Selina. 
this their first night in London. And »> hen But any how I mean to try. You know the 
they sat down to breakfast — having waited an region where, we have heard, lodgings are 
hour vainly for their nephew — it might have cheapest and best — that is, best for us.. It can 
been only the gloom of the little parlor which not be far from here. Suppose I start at 
cast a slight shadow over them all. .Still the once?" 
shadow was there. "What, alone?" cried Johanna, anxiously. 

It deepened despite the sunshiny morning " No, dear, I'll take the map with me, and " 
into which the last night's rain had brightened, Elizabeth. She is not afraid."' 
till Hoi horn Bars looked cheerful, and Hoi- Elizabeth smiled, and rose, with that air of 
born pavement actually clean, so that, as Eli- dogged de voted ness with which she would have 
zabeth said, "you might eat your dinner off prepared to follow Miss Hilary to the North 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



m 



Pole, if necsssarv. So, after a few minutes of| "« ^t to win, * feel more worthy thee." 

arguing with Selina, wlio did not press her Such thoughts made her step firmer and 
point overmuch, since she hersell had nut to her heart lighter; so that sh.e hardly noticed 
commit t lie impropriety of the expedition, the distance they must have walked till the 
After a few minutes more of hopeless lingering olese London air began to oppress her, and 
about--till even Miss, Leal said they had b t-|the smooth glaring London pavements made 
ter wait no Ionizer — mistress and maid took slier Stowbury feet ache sorely. 
farewell nearly as pathetic * if they had been "Are you tired, Elizabeth? Well, we'll 
reallv Arctic voyagers, and plunged right into rest soon. There must be lodgings near here. 
thedusti glare" and hurrying crowd of the Only I can't quite make out- ' 



sunny side" of Uolborn in July. 
\ strange sensation, and yet there was some- 



As Miss Hilary looked up to the name of 
the street the maid noticed what a glow came 



thing exhilarating in it. The intense solitude into her mistress's face, pale and tired as it 
that~there is in a London crowd the.6e country was. Just then a church clock struck th<» 
gi r ] s — for Miss Hilary herself was no more! quarter hour. 

than a girl— could not as vet realize. They "That must be St. Pancras. And this— 
onlv felt the life of it: stirring, active, inees-lyes, this. is Burton Street, Burton Crescent." 
Bantly moving life; even though it was-of a; "I'm sure /Missis wouldn't like to live 
«rod that they knew as little of it as the crowd there," observed Elizabeth, eyeing uneasily 
did of them." Nothing struck Hilary more the gloomy re: dc-chaussee, familiar to many a 



than the self absorbed look of passers-by ; 
each so busy on his own affairs, that, in spite 
Of Selinas Warm, for all notice taken of them, 
they might as well be walking among the cows 
and horses in Stowbury field. 



generation of struggling respectability, where, 
in the decadence ot the season, every second 
house bore the announcement "apartments 
furnished." 

" No," Miss Hilary replied, absently. Yet 



Poor old Stowbury ! They felt how far she continued to walk up and down the whole 
away they were from it when a ragged, dirty, length of the 6treet ; then passed out into the 
vicious looking girl offered, them a mo-s rose dreary, deserted looking Crescent, where the 
fcud for "one pennv, fltoly one penny ;" which trees were already beginning to fade: not. 
ibeth, lagging behind, bought, and found however, into the bright autumn tint ot coun- 
it onlv a broken off bud stuck "on to a bit of try woods, but into a premature withering, 
f wire. u »'y ar) d sad to behold. 

" That's London wavs, T suppose," said she. '-"lam glad he is not here— glad, glad!" 
severely, and became so misanthropic that she thought Hilary, as she realized the unuttera- 
would hardly vouchsafe a glance to the hand- ble dreariness of those years when Kobert 
some square 'they turned into, and merely ob Lyon lived and studied' in his garret from 
served of the tall houses, taller than" any 'month's end to month's end— these few dusty 
Hilary had ever seen, that she " wouldn't, trees being the sole memento of the green 
fenny running up and down them stairs." country life in which he had been brought up. 

But Hilary was cheerful in spiteof all. She and which she knew he so passionately loved, 
was gladto be in this region, which* theoretic- Now she could understand that "calenture" 
kUy, she knew by heart— glad to find herself which he had sometimes jestingly alluded to. 
pj the* body, where in the spirit she had come as coming upon htm at times, when he felt 
so many a time. The mere consciousness of literally sick for the sight of a green field or a. 
this seemed to refresh her. She thought she hedge full of birds. She wondered whether 
would be much happier.in London : that in the same feeling would ever come upon her in 
the long vears to come that must be borne, it this strange desert of London, the vastness of 
would bYgood for her tohavesomethingtodo which grew upon her every hour, 
as well as to hope for; something to fight: She was glad he was away ; yes, heart glad ! 
with as well as to endure, Now more than, And yet, if this minute she could only have* 
ever came pulsing in and out of her memory seen him coming round the Crescent, have 
a line once repeated in her bearing, with an met his smile, and the firm, warm clasp of 
observation of how "true" it was. And though his hand — 

originally it was applied by a man to a woman, For an instant there rose up in her one of 
and she smiled sometimes to think how "un- those wild, rebellious outcries against fate 
feminine" some people— Selina for instance— j when to have to waste years of this brief life 
would consider her turning it the other way. of ours, in the sort of semi-existence that living 
still she did so. She believed that, for woman is, apart from the treasure of the heart and 
as for man. that is the purest and noblest love delight of the eyes, seems so cruellv, cruelly 
which is the most self existent, most indepen- hard! 
pendent of love returned ; and which can say. "Miss Hilary." 

each to the other equally on both sides, that; She started, and " put herselfunder lock and 
the whole solemn purpose of life is, underjkey" immediately. 
God's service, •' I " Mies Hilary ; you do look so tired !"\ 



38 



MISTRESS AND MAID, 



"Do I? Then we will go and sit down in we will find out Mr. Ascott's number, and 
this baker's shop, and get rested and fed. We inquire." 

cannot afford to.wear Ourselves out, you know. No, there was no mistake. Mr. Aecott 
We have a great deal to do to-day." Leaf had lodged there for three months, but 

More indeed than she calculated, for they had -riven up hi? rooms that very mornin 
walked up one street and down another, inve-- " Where had he gone to?" • 

ing at least twenty lodgings before any The servant— a London lodging house serv- 
appeared which seemed fit for them. Ye tj ant all over — didn't know ; but she fetched (be- 
some place must be found where Johanna '.- landlady, who was after the same pattern of the 
poor, tired headcould rest that night. AtlastJdozen London landladies with whom Hilary 
completely exhausted, with that Opprsssivelhad that day made acquaintance, only a little 
exhaustion which seems tocrush mind as welljmore Cockney, smirking, dirty, and tawdrily 
as body after a day's wandering in London /fine. 

Hilary's courage began to ebb. Ohforanarm "Yes, Mr. Leaf had gone, and he hadn't 
to lean on. a voice to listen for, a brave heart leit no addre&s. Young College gentlemen 
io come to her side, saying, " Do not be afraid., often found it convenient to leave no address. 
there are two ol us !" And she yearned, with ! P'raps he would if he'd known there would be 
an absolutely sick yearning %uch as. only a a young lady acalling to see him." 
woman who now anil then feels the utter help " I am Mr. Leaf's aunt," said Hilary, tu'rn- 
lessness of her womanhood can know, for the ing as hot as fire. 



witl 



I ctvu 



"Oh, in-deed." was the answer, 
incredulousness. 

But the woman was sharp of perception— as 
often-cheated London landladies learn to be. 
After looking keenly at mistress and maid, slit 
changed her tone: nay. even launched out u> 
mdofhei praises of her late lodger : what a pleasant 

Id forgive him .'gentleman he was: what good company he 
'cept. and how be hod promise i 



vienu 



only arm she cared to lean on. the only voice 
dear enough to bring Iter comfort, the only 
heart that she- felt sbe could trust. 

Poor Hilary ! And yet why pity her ? To 
her three alternatives could but happen : were 
Robert Lyon true to her she would be his 
entirely and devotedly, to the e 
did he forsake her. she wou 
should he die, she would be faithful to him 

eternally. Love of this kind may know an- her apartments .to his friends, 
guish. but not the sort of anguish that : or the little some'at of rem, Mi-- 

and -weaker loves do. If it is certain of no-. — tell him it makes no matter, he can pay me 
thing can always be certain of itself. I when he Jikee. If he don't call soon, p'raps 

1 might m . I to send his trunji and ln^ 

books over to! . ;ott*s of— dear me, I for- 
number and the equar 

And even in its utmost pangs is an nnder- Hilary uhsuspiciouely supplied both, 
lying which often iproacb — the old gen'leman as Mr. 

lute joy. line with every other Snnda r. a 

Hilary roused herself, and Lent her mini .eh old gentleman, who. he say.-.. : 

lily on lodgings till she discovered oh« him ail his money. Maybe a relation of 

from the parlor ©J which yon coul : i yours, Miss?" 

trees of Burton Crescent and hear tlu >raethinp 

Saint Pancras'B clock. >ut the ring frbm Mr. i 

" I think we may do here — at least for a ver -he hurried 

while." -aid she cheerfully; and then ICii - e 

hc-th heard her inquiring if an extra bedroom "Won't you be tired if you 

ild he hi ry. 

There was only one small attic. "Ascot* HilaJry stopped, choking. Helplessly she 
tiever could put up with that,' - said Hilary, looked un and down the forlorn, wide, glaring, 
half to herself. Then suddenly — "I think I dush - nking into the dull sli 

will see Ascott before 1 decide. Elizabeth, |ol a London afternoon, 
will you go with me. or remain here '.'" " Let us go home V' And at the word a sob 

"I'll go with you, if you please, Miss Hil- hurst out— just one passionate pent up Bob. 
arv.'' ° more. She could not afford to waste 

"If you please," so not unlike, "if . th in cry" 

please." and Elizabeth had gloomed over eth, I am getting tireil : 

little. " Is Mr. Ascott to live with u- 1 that will not do. Let me hing 

" I suppose 60." must' And she stood still, p 

Xo more words were into '< till thej ing her hand over her hot brow and ey< -. " i 

reached Grower street, when Miss Hilary oh- will g md take the lodgings, leave voi 



ot' the . Kli/- 

wa'k so fast. 



served, with evident surprise, what a hand- 
some street it was 



there to make all comfortable, and then fetch 
my Bisters from the hotel. But stay first, I 



"I must have made some mistake, StilVhave forgotten eoniethisg.'' 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



39 



She returned to the house in Gower Street, jpulsive as they are. Unless, indeed, their 
and wrote on one of her card.-; an address — tbejtalent for incessant locomotion degenerates 
only permanent address she could think of — into rootless restlessness, and they remain for- 
that of the city broker i%o was in the habit oflever rolling stones, gathering no moss, and 
paying them their yearly -income oi £o0. quiring gradually a smooth; hard surface. 

"If amy creditors inquire for Mr. Leaf, give! Which adheres to nothing, and to whicR no- 
them this. His friends may always hear of body dare # venture to adhere. 



him at the Londen University. 



But there are others possessing in a painful 



"Thank you, ma'am," replied the now civil degree^ this said quality of adhesiveness, to 
landlady. "Indeed, 1 wasn't afraid of the wb,6m the smallest change is obnoxious ; who 
young gentleman giving us" the slip. For like drinking out of a particular ciip, and sit- 
though he was careless in his bills he was ting in a particular chair; to whom even a 
every inch the gentleman. And I wouldn't/ variation in the position of furniture is un- 
object to take him in again. Or p'raps you pleasant. Of course, this peculiarity has its 
yourself, ma'am, might be a-wanting rooms." bad side, and yet it is not in itself mean or 

"No, 1 thank you. Good morning." And (ignoble. For is not adhesiveness, faithfulness, 
Hilary hurried away. [constancy— call it what you will — at the root 

Not a word did she say to Elizabeth, or EH- of all citizenship, clanship, and family love ? 



zabeth to her, till they got into the dull, dingy 
parlor — henceforth, to be their sole apology 
tor "home:" and then she only talked about 



Is it not the same feeling which, granting they 
remain at all, makes old friendships dearer 
than any new ? Nay, to go to the very sacred-** 



domestic arrangements — talked fast and ea- est and closest bond, is it not that which makes 



gerly, and tried to escape the affectionate eyes 
which she knew were so sharp and keen. 
Only to escape them — not to blind them ; she 
had long ago found out that Elizabeth was too 



an old man see to the last in his old wife's 
faded face 'the beauty which perhaps nobody 
ever saw except himself, but which he se< 
and delights in still, simply because it isjja-il 



quick-witted tor that, especially in any thing miliar and liia own. 
that concerned "the family." She felt con-! To people who possess a large share of this 
vinced the girl had heard every syllable that rare — shall 1 say fatal? — characteristic of ad- 
passed at A-cott's lodgings : that she knew allihesiveness, living in lotlgmgs is about the sad- 
that was to be known, and guessed what wasidest life under the sun. Whether some dim 
to be feared as well as Hilary herself. ' jforebodingot this fact crossed Elizabeth's mind 

•' Elizabeth "-^she hesitated long, and doubt- as she stood at the window watching for her 
ed whether she should say the thing before! mistresses' first arrival at "home." it is im- 
she did say it — " remember we are all stiang- possible to say. She could feel, though she 
|rs in London, and family matters are best: was not accustomed to analyze her feelings, 
kept within the family. Do not mention But she looked dull and sad. Not cross, even 
either in writing home, or to any body here.'Ascott could not have accused her of "sav- 
about — about — " [ageness " 

She could not name Ascott : she feltsohor- 
riblv ashamed. 



CHAPTER X. 



i 
f 

And yet she bad been somewhat tried. First, 
, in going out what she termed " marketing," 
she had traversed a waste of streets, got lost 
several times, and returned with light weight 
in her butter, and sand in her moist sugar; 
also with the conviction 'that London trades- 
men were the greatest rogues alive Second- 
ly, a pottle of strawberries, which she had 



Living in lodgings, not temporarily, but 

lanently, sitting down to make one's only bought with her own money to grace the tea 
"home" in Mrs. Jones's parlor or Mrs. Smith's table with the only fruit Miss Leaf cared for, 
fir.-t floor, of which not a stick or a stone thai had turned out a largo delusion, big and beau- 
own, and whenceon at top, and all below small, crushed, and 
be evicjted or evade, with a week's notice or ajstale. She had thrown it indignantly, pottle 
week's rent, any day — this sort of life .is natu and all, into the kitchen fire, 
ral and even delightful t$ some people. There Thirdly; sii war with the landlady. 
ire those who, like strawberry plan irtly on >;' their file — which, with 
such an errant disposition, that grow them her Stow bury Bbtipns on the subject of coals, 
wln-re you will, they will soon absorb all the seemed wretchedly mean amis mall— and part- 
pleasantht-s of their habitat, and begin casting ly on the question of table cloths at tea, which 
out runners elsewhere; nay, if not frequently Mrs. Jon " never heard of," especially 
transplanted, would actually wither and die.lvi of plate and lin included 

;ch are the pioneers of society — the emi-lin the rent. And the.dinginess of the article 
grants, the tourists, the travelers round thej produced at last (»ut'of a* omnium-gatherum 
world: and great is the advantage the world sort of kitchen cupboard, made an ominous 
derive* from them, active, energetic, and im- impression upon the country girl, accustomed 



40 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



to clean, tidy, country ways — where the kitch- 
en was kept as neat as the parlor, and the 
bedrooms were not a whit behind the sitting 
rooms in comfort and orderliness. Here it 
seemed as if. supposing people could show a 
lew respectable living rooms, they were content 
to sleep any There, and cook any how, out of; 
any thing, in the midst of any quantity of con-; 
fusion and dirt. Elizabeth set all this down 
as "London," and hated it accordingly. 

She had tried to ease her mind by arranging 
and rearranging the furniture — regular lodg^ 
ing house furniture — table, six chairs, horse- 
hair sofa, a what-not, and the cbiffonnier, with 
a tea-caddy upon it, of which the respective 
keys had been solemnly presented to Miss 
Hilary. But still the parlor looked homeless 
and bare ; and the yellowish paper on the 
walls, the large patterned, many colored Kid- 
derminster on the floor, gave an involuntary 
^ense of discomfort and dreariness. Besides, 
No. 15 was on the shady side of the street — 
cheap lodgings always are; and no one who 
ias not lived in the like lodgings — not a house; 
— can imagine what it is to inhabit perpetu-j 
ally one room where the sunshine just peeps 
in for an hour a day, and vanishes by eleven a. | 
M. : leaving behind in winter a chill dampness, 
and in summer a heavy,^usty atmosphere, that' 
weighs like lead on the spirits in spite of one's 
self. No wonder that, as is statistically known 
and proved, cholera stalks, fever rages, and ; 
the registrar's list is always swelled along the 
shady side of a London street. 

Elizabeth felt this, though she had not the! 
dimmest idea why. She stood watching the; 
sunset light fade out of the topmost windows o('i 
the opposite house —ghostly reflection of some 
sunset over fields and trees far away ; and she 
listenedjo the long monotonous cry melting 
away rWhid the cres.cent, and beginning again 
at the other end of the street — "Straw-berries! 
— stravv'-ber-ries I" Also, with an eye to to- 
morrow's Sunday dinner, she investigated the 
cart of the tired costermonger, who crawled; 
along beside his equally tired donkey, reitera- 
ting at tunes, in tones hoarse with a day's 
bawling, his dreary " Cauli-flower ! Cauli-flow- 
er ! — Fine new pease, sixpence peck!" 

But, alas! the pease were neither fine nor 
new; and the cauliflowers were regular Satur- 
day night's cauliflowers. Besides, Elizabeth 



suddenly doubted whether she had any right.. 
unordered, to buy these things which, from be 
ing common garden necessari^p, had become 
luxuries. This thought, witn some others 
that it occasioned, her unwonted state of idle 
iCSS and the dull: veiy thing about her 

— what is so dull as a "quiet" London - 
on a summer evening? — actually made Kiiza-i 
tieth stand, motionless and meditative, for a 
quarter of an hour. 

Then she started to hear two cabs drive up 



to the door; the "family" had at length ar- 
rived. 

Ascott was there too. Two new portman- 
teaus and a splendid hat-box cast either igno- 
miny or glory upon the poor Stowbury luggage ; 
and — Elizabeth's sharp eye noticed — there 
was also his trunk which she had seen lying 
detained for rent in his Gower Street lodgings. 
But he looked quite easy and comfortable ; 
handed out his Aunt Johanna, commanded 
the luggage about, and paid the cabmen with 
such a magnificent air. that they to ached their 
bats to him, and winked at one another as 
much as to say, " That's a real gentleman !" 

In which statement "the landlady evidently 
coincided, and courtesied low when Miss "Leaf 
introducing him as " my nephew," hoped that 
a room could be found for him. Which at 
last there was, by his appropriating Miss-. 
Leaf's, while she and Hilary took that at the 
top of the house. But they agreed, Ascott 
must have a good airy room to study in. 

" You know, my dear boy." said his Aunt 
Johanna to him — and at her tender tone he 
looked a little downcast, as when he was a 
small fellow anddiad been forgiven something 
— " You know- you will have to work very 
hard." 

'"All right, aunt! I'm your man for that ! 
This will be a jolly room : and I can smoke 
up the chimney capitally !" 

So they came down etaifs quite cheerfully, 
and Ascott applied himself with the best of 
appetites to what he called a " hungry'' tea. 
True, the ham, which Elizabeth had to fetch 
from an eating house some streets oil", cost 
two shillings a pound, and the e?gs, which 
caused her another war below over the relight- 
ing of a fire to boil them, were dismissed* by 
the young gentleman as " horrid stale." Still, 
woman-like, when there is a man in the ques- 
tion, his aunts let him have his way. It 
seemed as if they had resolved to try their ut 
most to make the new home to which became, 
or rather was driven, a pleasant home, and to 
bind him to it with cords of love, the only 
cords worth any thing, though sometimes — 
Heaved knows why — even they fail, and are 
snapped and thrown aside like straws. 

Whenever Elizabeth went in and out of the 

parlor she always heard lively talk goil 

among the family : Ascott making his. joras, 

telling about his college life, and planning his 

come, a- a surgeon in full practice, on 

the most scale. And when he 

brought in the chamber candles, sin saw him 

his aunts affectionately, and even hel| 

\ut.t Johanna — who looked frigbtfnllj 

pale ana* tired, but smiling still— to her bee 

room door. 

"You'll not sit up long. m\ fle&r! V 
reading t6-night?" said she. anxiously. 

•• Not a bit of it. And III be up with 
the lark to-morrow Tnorning. \ really will, 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



41 



auntie. I'm going to turn over a new leaf, 
yon know." 

She smiled ag'iin at tlie immemorial joke, 
kissed and blessed him, and the door shut up- 
on her and Hilary. 

Ascott descended to the parlor, threw him- 
self on the sofa with an air of great relief, and 
an exclamation of satisfaction that "the wo- 
men" were all gone. He did not perceive 
Elizabeth, who, hidden behind, was kneeling 
to arrange something in the chiffonnier, till 
she rose up ami proceeded to fasten the parlor 
shuttero. 

"Hollo! are you there? Come, I'll do that 
when I go to bed. Yon raav 'slope' if von 
like." 

" Eh, Sir." 

"Slope, mizzle, cut your stick: don't you 
understand. Any how, don't slop here, both- 
ering me." 

"I don't mean to," replied Elizabeth: grave- 
ly, rather than gruffly, as if she had made up 
her mind to things as they were, and was de 
term i tied to be a belligerent party no longer. 
Besides, she was older now ; too old to have 
things forgiven toherthat might be overlooked 
in a child ; and she had received a long lecture 
from Miss Hilary on the necessity of showing 
respect to Mr. Ascott, or Mr. Leaf, as it was 
now decided he was to be called, in his digni 
ty and responsibility a3 the only masculine 
head of the family. 

As he lay and lounged there, with his eyes 
lazily shut, Elizabeth stood a minute gazing 
at him. Then, steadfast in her new good be 
havior, she inquired "if he wanted any thing 
more to-night?" 

"Confound you! no! Yes; stop." And 
the young man took a furtive investigation o; 
the plain, honest face, and not over graceful 
ultra-provincial figure, which still character- 
ized his aunt's " South Sea Islander." 

" I say, Elizabeth, I want you to do some 
thing for me." He spoke so civilly, almost 
coaxingly. that Elizabeth turned round sur- 
prised. " Would you just go and ask the 
landlady if she has got such thing as a latch- 
kev?" 

"A what, Sir?" 

"A latch-key — a — oh, she knows. Every 
London house has it. Tell her I'll take care 
of it, and lock the front door all right. She 
needn't be afraid of thieves." 

" Very well, Sir." 

Elizabeth went, 
the information that Mr.?. Jones had gone to 
bed; in the' kitchen, she supposed, as she 
could not get in. But she laid on the tab.J 
the large street door key. 

" Perhaps that's what you wanted. Mr. Leaf 
Though 1 think you needn't be the least afraid 
of robbers, for there's tkree bolts, and a c 
besides." 

" All right !" cried Ascott, smothering dow.i 



a laugh. "Thank you! That's for you," 
throwing a half-crown across the table. " 

Elizabeth took it up demurely, and put it 
down again. Perhaps she did not like him 
enough to receive presents ftom him ; perhaps 
she thought, being an honest minded girl, that 
a young man who could not pay his rent had 
no business to bd giving away half-crowns; 
or else she herself had not been so much as 
many servants are. in the habit of taking them. 
For Mis« Hilary hid put into Elizabeth some 
of her own feeling as to this habit, of paying 
an inferior with money for any little civility or 
kindness which, from an equal, would be ac- 
cepted simply as kindness, and only requited 
with thanks, Any how, the coin remained on 
ihe table, and the door was just shutting upon 
Elizabeth, when the young gentleman turned 
round again. 

" I say, since my aunts are so horridly timid 
of robbers and such like, you'd belter not tell 
them any thing about the latch-key." 

Elizabeth stood a minute perplexed, and 
then replied briefly: "Miss Hilary isn't a bit 
timid ; and I always tells Miss Hilary every- 
thing. " 

Nevertheless, though she was so ignorant 
as never to have heard of a latch- key, she had 
the wit to see that all was not right. She even 
lay awake, in her closet oil Miss Leaf's room, 
whence she could hear the murmur of her two 
mistresses talking together, long after they re- 
tired — lay broad awake for an hour or more, 
trying to put things together— the sad things 
that she frit certain must have happened that 
day, and wondering what Mr. Ascott could 
possibly want with the key. Also, why he 
;iad asked her about it, instead of telling his 
Hints at once : and why he had treated her in. 
the matter with such astonishing civility. 

It may be said a servant had no busiuessto 
think about these things, to criticize heryoung 
master's proceedings, or wonder why her mis- 
tresses were sad: that she had only to go 
about her work like an automaton, and take 
no interest in any thing. I can only answer 
*o those who like such service, let them have 
it: and as they sow they will assuredly reap. 

But long after Elizabeth, young ami hearty, 
was soundly snoring on her hard, cramped 
bed, Johanna and Hilary Leaf, after a brief 
mutual pretence of sleep, soon discovered by 
both, lay consulting toge'her over ways and 
means. How could the family expenses, be- 
ginning with twenty-five shillings per vveekas 
rent, possibly be met by the only actual cer- 
tain family income, their £50 per annum from 
a mortgage ? For the Misses Leaf were or 
that old-fashioned stamp which believed that 
to reckon an income by mere probabilities is 
insanity or dishonesty. 
nmon arithmetic soon proved that this 
■ild not maintain them ; in fact 
they must soon draw on the little sum— al- 



42 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



ready dipped into to-day, for Ascott— which thought smote her painfully thatmany ayoung 
had been produced by the sale of the Stowbur of his age stay and bread win- 

furniture. That sal now found had nor of some widowed mother or sister, nay. 

been a mistake ; and they half feared whether even ■ and child, sti heer- 

the whole change from Stowbury to London fully, " What can one expect from him? He 
had not been a mistake— one. of the- only a 

rors in judgment which we all commit some- God help the women w ho, lor those belong- 
times, and have io abide by, and make the ing to them -husbands, fathers, brothers, lov- 
best of. and learn from it "we can. H >ns— have ever 

those who i; Dinna erect ower spilt milk'— a When they came in sight of St. Pan« 
proverb wise ascheerful, which Hilary, know- Church, Ascott e 1 think. 



me well who it came from, repeated to Johan- 
na to comfort her — taachea a second brave 
lesson, how to avoid spilling the milk a second 
time. 

And then they consulted anxiously about 
what was to be done to earn money. 

Teaching presented itself as* the o 



know vour way now. Aunt Ilii; 
inly." V 
" Because— you wouldn't be vexed ii 1 left 



you? I hive 



an encasement 



some fellows 



that I dine with, out at Hampstead, or Rich- 
mond, or Bla very Sunday. Nothing 
,d, I assure you. And you know it's 



source. In those days women's work 1/for one's health to get a Sunday in 

women's rights had not been discussed so I i h air." 

" Yes ; but Aunt Johanna will be sorry to 



ly as at present: There was a strong feeli 
that the principal thing required was our du- miss you." 
ties— owed to ourselves, our home, our fon.. 
and friends. There wa* a deep conviction— 
now, alas 1 slowly disappearing — that a wo- 
man, single or married, should never throw 
herself out of the safe circle of domestic life 
till the last extremity of necessity ; that it is 
wiser to keep or helpto keep a home, by learn- 
ing how to expend its income, cook its dinners, 
make and mend its clothes, and, by the law 
that " prevention is better than- cure," study- 
ing all those preservative means of holding al 



ill she? Oh, you'll smooth her down. 
Stay ! -Tell her I shall be back to tea." 

" We shall be having tea directly." 

'• I declare I had quite forgotten. Aunt Hil- 
ary, you must, change your hours. They 
don't suit me at all. No men can ever stand 
early dinners. ' By, by ! You are the very 
prettiest auntie. Be sure you get home 
Hollo, there ! That's my omnibus."' 

He jumped on the top of it, and was oil'. 

Aunt Hilary stood quite confounded, and 



-that there was any actual badness 
broken, unsexed : turned into be-in his bright and handsome young facet Still 



fa'uiilv together- as women, and women al ith one of those strange sinkings of the heart 

can— than to dash into men's sphere of. trades! which had come over her several times this 
and professions, thereby, in most instances, day. It was not that showed any un- 

fighting an unequal battle, and coming out of kindness- 
it maimed, broken, unsexed : turned into be-in his bri & . 

im's that are neither men nor women, with [there was a want there— want of earnestn 
the faultsand corresponding sufferings of both, steadltistness, truthfulness, a something more 
and the compensations of neither. scoverable as the lack of something else than 

"Idon't see," said poor Hilary, "what I as aught in itself tangibly and perceptibly 
can do but teach. And oh, if 1 could on ■ rong. It made her sad : it caused her to look 

daily pupils so that I might cgnfe home oi forward to his future with an anxious heart. 
nights and creep into the fireside; and have It was so different from the kind of anxiety, 
time to mend the stockings and look after As- and yet settled repose; with which she thought 
cott'a linen that he need not be so nwfullv ex- oi the only other man in whose future she felt 
travagaut." th« smallest interest. Of Robert Lyon, she 

°' ' ..s certain that whatever misfortune visited 

him he would bear it in the best way it could 

be borne ; whatever temptation assailed him 

he would fight against it as a brave and good 
ristian should figh't. But Ascott? 
coif's life was as yet an unanswered que- 
She could but leave it in Omnipotent 
hands. 

■ av home, asking it i 



CHAPTER XI. 



mt Hilary fixed her hoe - 
Kl ,j-.. :';..,, — the lad,.so little;. 

J vet. who at tn ■' "'it 

.,..;.,, ;,,,.;, a8 t >i : of civil policemen, and going a little 

,)d : and 6l:e felt thankful tl ;iake this romantic 

,].,. v ha to London t i about so sensible and practical a 



be beside him, to help him. lo save him, if he 
needed saving, as w.-men only can. For, after 
all, he was but a boy. And though as he 
walked bv. her side, stalwart and manly, the : 



little woman? — that she might walk once up 
Hurtn i and down again. But nobody 

knew the (act, and it did nobody any harm 
Meantime at No 15 the afternoon bad pass- 



MISTRESS AOT MAID. 



43 



ed heavily enough. Miss Selina had gone to 
lie down : she always did of Sundays, and 
Elizabeth, alter making her comfortable, by 
the little attei 



tice boy, now Mr. Peter Ascott, of Russell 
Square. 
She rose to receive him : there was always 
Leaf's reception of stran- 



had descended to the dreary n a slight formality belonging to her own 



had been appropriated to herself, under the 
Dame of a " private kit< u the which, 

all the i improvement 

could achieve, sat lil the ruins 

: for the tidy bright 
Already; from her 



■ration, and to the time when the 

were a "coun'y family." Perhaps this 

extra dignity, graceful as it was, overpowered 

the little man ; or else, being a bachelor, he 

unaccustomed to ladies' society: but he 

grew red in the face, twiddled his hat, and 



'brief ex] . she had decided that London, then east a sharp inquisitive glance toward 

people v rid shams, because th ier. 



not in the leasl care to have their kitchens 
comfortable. She wondered how she should 
ever exist in this one, and might have carried 
her sad and sullen face up stairs, if Miss Leal 
had not comedown stairs, and glancingabout 
with that ever gentle smile of hers, said kind- 
ly. •■ Well, it is not very pleasant, but you 
have made the best of it, Elizabeth. We must 
all put up with something, you know. Now, 
as my eves arc pot very good to-day, suppose 
you come up and read me a chapter." 

So, in the quiet parlor, the maid sat down 
opposite her 
that P>%k which says distinctly 

'. that w 
doetlt . t 

And yet says immediately after-: 
" ] 

iring thr 

]) 

And I think thi 
ed. not in pn acl ing on] practice, 

when he sent back theslave * hiesiinus to Phil- 
emon, praying that he mi . 'mot 
now:- ant, but above a servant, a bro- 
ther beloved," that Divic have 



"Miss Leaf, I presume, ma'am. The eld- 

" I am the eldest Miss Leaf, and very glad 
to have an opportunity of thanking you for 
your long kindness to my nephew. Elizabeth, 
give Mr. Ascott a chair." 

While doing so, and before her disappear- 
ance, Elizabeth took a rapid observation of the 
visitor, whose name and history were perfectly 
familiar to her. Mt)st small towns have their 
heio, and Stowbury's was Peter Ascott, the 
icer's boy, the little fellow who had gone up 
mistress, and read aloud out of; to London to seek his fortune, and had, strange 

ay, found it. Whether by industry or 

xcept that industry is luck, and luck is 

lier word for industry — he had grad- 

n to be a large city merchant, a dry- 

onclude it would be caUed, with a 

e house, carriage, etc. He had never 

his native place, which indeed could 

'e expected of him, as he h'ad no relations, 

when asked, as was not seldom of course, 

he subscribed liberally to its charities. 

Altogether he was a decided hero in the 
place, and though people really knew very 
little about him, the less they knew the more 
they gossiped, holding him up totherisinggen- 
eration as a modem Dick Whittington, and 
reverencing him extremely as one who had 
shed glory on his native town. Even Eliza- 
beth had conceived a great idea of Mr. Ascott. 




looked. tenderly upon these t .en — both When she saw this little fat man, coarse and 

women, though of such different age and po- common looking in spite of his good clothes 
sition, and :■ lem through His Spirit in and diamond ring, and in manner a curious 

lfi< word, as ixture of pomposity and awkwardness, she 

The reading v sd by. a can nghed to herself, thinking what a very unin- 

driving up ing individual it was about whom Stow- 



mendously grand nan's 

knock, which made art in her 

easy chair. 

" B^t it can't be visitors to us. We know 
nobody. Sit still, Elizabeth." 

It was a visitor, however, though by what 
ingenuity he found them out remained, when 



bury had told so many interesting stories. 

However, she went up to inform Miss Seli- 
na, and prevent her making her appearance 
before him in the usual Sunday dishabille in 
which she indulged when no visitors were ex- 
pected. 
After his first awkwardness, Mr. Peter As- 
they came to think of it. a great puzzle. A cotl became quite at his ease with Miss Leaf, 
card was sent in by the dirty servant of Mrs. He began to talk — not of Stowbury, that was 
Jones, speedily followed by a stout, bald- [tacitly ignored by both — but of London, and 
headed, roucd faced man — I suppose I ought, then of "my house in Russell Square, "my 
to write "gentleman" — in whom, though she carriage," "my servants" — the inconvenience 
had not seen him for years, Miss Leaf found, of keeping coachmen who would drink, and 
no difficulty iu recognizing the grocer's preu-|footmen who would not clean the plate prop- 



44 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



erlv: ending by what was a favorite moral jlhen into his hat, then, at good luck would 
axiom of his, that " wealth anil position arc have it. out of the win. low, ivhere he caught 
heavy responsibilities.'' u ol'liis cirriage ami horses. These revi- 

He himself seemed, however, not to have vol his. spirits, and made him recognize what 
been quite overwhelmed by them; hewasfal he was — Mr. Ascott, of Russell Square, ad- 
and flourishing — with an acuteriess and powei dressing himself in the character of a benevo- 
in the upper half of his face which accounted lent patron to the Leaf family, 
for his having attained his present position. "Glad to see you. Miss. Long time since 
The lower half, somehow Miss Lent did not we met — neither of us so young as we have 
like it. she hardly knew why, though a phya been — but you do wear well, I must say." 
iognomist might have known. For Peter Miss Selina drew back;; she was within an 



Ascott had the underhanging, obstinate, sen- 
sual lip, the large throat — bull-necked, as it 
has been called — indications of that essentially 



inch of being highly offended, when she top 
happened to catch a glimpse of the carriage 
and horses. So she sat down and entered into 



animal naiure which may be born with the conversation with him ; and when she liked, 
nob'eman as with the clown; which no edu nobody could be. more polite and agreeable 
cation car. refine, and no talent, though it may than Miss Selina. 

co-eqi.-t with it, can ever entirely remove. He So it happened that the handsome equipage 
reminded one, perforce, of the rough old prov- crawled round am! round the Crescent, or stood 
erb; " You can't make a silk purse out of ajpawing the silent Sunday street before No. 15, 
sow's ear. ' for very nearly an hour, even till Hilary came 

Still, Mr. Ascott was not a bad man, though home, 
something deeper ihanjiis glorious indift'er-l It was vexatious to have to make excuses 
enceto grammar, and his dropped h's — which, Ifqr Ascott: particularly as his godfather said 
to steal some <n?'« joke, might have l>ee;i with a laugh, that, "young fellows would be 
swept up in bushels from Miss Leaf's parlor young fellow*." they needn't expect to see the 
— made it impossible for him ever to be, by , lad til! midnight, or till to-morrow ruprning. 
any culture whatever, a gentleman. But though in ibis, and other things, he 

They ta'ked of Asco:t, as being the mo-t somewhat annoyed the ladies from Stowbury, 
convenient mutual subject; and Misi Leaf Me^one could say he was not civil to them — 
exjie-sel the gratitude which her nephew fell Singly 'civil. He offered them Botanical 

and she earnestly hoped would ever show, .to- 'Garden tickets — Zoological Garden tickets; 
ward his kind godfather. he even, after some meditation and knitting 

Mr. A-coft looked pleased. of his shaggy grey eyebrows, bolted out with 

p "Um — yes, Aseo't's not a had fellow — be- 1 an invitation for the whole family to dinner at 
lieve he means well: but weak, ma'am, l^rlr Russell Square the following Sunday., 
afraid he's weak. Known nothing of business, "I aLvave give my dinners on Sunday. I've 
— ha? ud business habits whatever. Howev- no time any other day," said he, when Miss 
er, ve must make the best of him; I don't Leaf gently hesitated. " Come or not, just as 
repent aiy thing I've done for him. ' \ou like." 

•' I hope not," said Miss Leaf, gravely. Miss Selina, to whom the remark was chiefly 

And then there ensued an uncomfortable addressed, bowed the most gracious accept- 
pause, which washnppilv broken by the open- ance. 

ing of the door, and the sweeping in of a large, The visitor took very little notice of Miss 
goolly figure. Hilary. Probably, if asked, he would have 



" My sister, Mr. Ascott : my sister Selina." 
The lirtle stout man actually started, and, 
as he bowed, blushed up to the eyes. 

Miss Selina was. as I have stated, the beautv 



described her as a small, shabbily-dressed per- 
.-on. looking very like a governess. Indeed, 
the factof iier governess-ship seemed suddenly 
to recur to him ; he asked her it she meant 



of the family, and had once been an acknowl- to set up another school, and being informed 
edg 'd Stowbury belle. Even now, though nigh that she rather wished private pupils, pro- 
upun forty, when carefully ami becomingly mised largely that she should have the full 
dressed, her tall figure, and her well featured, benefit 6f his "patronage" among his friend*. 



fair complexioned, unwrinkled face, made her 
6till appear a very personable woman. At any 
rate. ,«he was not faded enough, nor the city 
magnate's heart cold enough to prevent a sud- 
den revival of the vision which — in what now 



Then he departed, leaving a message for As- 
cott to call next day, as he wiHhed to speak 
to him." 

'■ For you must be aware, Miss Leaf, that 
though your nephew's allowance is nothing- 



seemed an a'mo<t antediluvian stage of exist- a mere drop in the bucket out ot my large in- 
ence — had dazzled, Sunday after . v - come — still, when it comes year after year, 

eyes of the grocer's lad. If there is one pure and no chance of his shifting for hinnelf, th^ 
spot in a man's heart — even the very worldli- most benevolent man in the world feels in- 
est of men — it is usually his boyish first love, dined to stop the supplies. Not that I shall 
8o Peter Ascott looked hard atMisa Seluia,;dd that — at leant not immediately : heieafine 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



45 



young fellaw, whom I'm rather proud to have 
helped a step up the ladder, and I've a great 
respect' — here he bowed to Miss Selina — "a 
great respect for your family. Still there mart 
come a time when I shall be obliged to shut up 
my purse-strings. You understand, ma'am." 

" I do," Mis? Lent answered, trying tospeak 
with dignity, and yet with patience, for she 
eaw Hilary a face beginning to flame. " And 
I trust, Mr. Ascott. my nephew will soon cease 
to be an expense to you. It was your own 
voluntary kindness that brought it upon your- 
8elt, and I hope ,ou have not found, never will 
find, either him or us ungrateful." 

" Oh, as to that, ma'am, I don't look for 



childish fits of irrepressible laughter, was 
startled to see Selina's face in •ne blaze of 
indignation. 

" Hold your tongue, you silly chit, and don't 
chatter about things you don't understand." 

And she swept majestically autaf the room. 

'• What Wave I dune? Why she is really- 
vexed. If I had thought she would have taken 
it in earnest I w«ul I never hu\e said a word. 
Who would have thought it ! " 

But Mi.s Selina's fits of annoyance were so 
common that the sisters rarely troubled them- 
selves long on the matter. And when at tea- 
time she came down in tae best of spirits, they 
met her half-way, as thev alwavs didt thankful 



gratitude. Still, if Ascott does work his way tor these brief calms in the family atmosphere, 

into a good position — and he'll he the first of which never lasted too long. 

his fami.v that ever did, I reckon — but 1 beg It was a somewhat heavy evening. Thev 



your pardon. Miss Leaf. Ladies, I'll bid you 
good dav. Will vour servant call my car- 
riage ? ,; 

The instant he was gone Hilary burst 
forth— 

"If I wero Ascott; I'd rather starve in a 
garret, break stones in the high road, or buy 
a broom and sweep a crossing, than I'd be 
dependent on this man, this pompous, purse- 
proud, illiterate fool ! " 

"No. not a fool, ' ; reproved Johanna. "An 
acute, clear-headed, nor. I think, bad-hearted 
man. Coarse and common*, certainly; but if 
we were to hateevery thing coarse *r common, 
we should find plenty to hate. Besides, ihougl 



waited supper till after ten ; and yet Ascott did 
not appear. Miss Leaf read the chapter as 
usual ; and Elizabeth was sent to bed, but still 
no sign of the absentee. 

" I v*'il) sit up for him. He cannot be many 
minutes new." said his Aunt Hilary, and set- 
tled herself in the solitary parlor, which one 
candle and no fire made as cheerless as cauld 
possibly be. 

There she waited till midnight before the 
young man came in. Perhaps he was struck 
with compunction bv her weary white face — 
by her silent lighting of his candle, for he 
made her a thousand apologies. 

Ton my honor. Aunt Hilary, I'll never 



he does his kindness in an unpleasant way. keep you up so late again. Poor dear auntie, 
think how very, very kind he has been taihow tired she looks!" and he kissed her af- 
Ascott." |fectionate!y. "Bui; ii you were a young fellow, 

" Johamia, I think you would find a good and got among other young fellows, an J they 
word for the de'il himself, as we used to say. \ over-persuaded you." 
cried Hilar v. laughing. " Well, Se'ina; andr* "You should learn to say*, No." 



"Ah"— with a sigh— "so I ought, if I 
were as good as my Aunt Hilary." 



CHAPTER XII. 
Months slipped by ; the trees in Burton 



what is your opinion of our stout friend ? " 

Miss Selina, bridling a little, declared thai 
she did not see sa much to complain af in Mr. 
Ascott. He was not educated, certainly, but 
he was a most respectable person. And his 
calling upon them so s ton was most civil 
and attentive. She thought, considering his 
present position, they should forget — indeed, 

as Christians they were bound to forget — that .Crescent had long been all bare; the summer 
he was once their grocer's boy,' and go to dine cries of itinerant vegetable dealers and flower 
with him next Sunday. sellers had vanished out cf the quiet street. — 

- " For my part, 1 shall go, though it is The three sisters almost misled them, sitting 
Sunday. I <ronsider it quite a religious duty — in that one dull parlor from morning til! 
my duty towards my neighbor." night, in the intense solitude of people who, 

'* Which is to love him as yourself. I am having neither heart nor money to spend in 
sure. Selina. I have no objection. It would be gayeties, live forlorn in Louden lodgings, and 
a grand romantic wind up to the story which. knowing nobody, have nobody to visit, nobody 
Stowbury used to tell— of how the 'prentice|to visit them. 

boy stared his eyes out at the beautiful young] Except Mr. Ascott, who.still called, and oc- 
lady ; and you would get the advantage of casionallv staid to tea. The hospitalities. 
• my house in Rus»ell Square,' ' rev carriage however, wer all on their side. The first en- 
and servants,' and be able to elevate yourjtertninment — to which Selina insisted upon 
whole family. Do, now! c.?t}Our cap at going, and Johanna thought Hilary and Ascott 
Peter Ascott." had better go too — was Hplendid enough, but 

Here Hilary, breaking out into one of her, they were the only ladies present; and though 



40 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



Mr- Ascoft did the honois with great magnili-'passeth all understanding," waJ3 a living com- 

cence. putting Miss Selina at the head of hi? ment on the truth oi these words. 
table, where she looked exceedingly well,' still Another comfort Hilary had— Elizabeth. — 
the. sisters agreed it was better that alj further During her long days of absence, wandering 
invitations to Russell Square should he de- from one end of London to the other, after 
clined. Miss Selina herself said it would be advertisements that she had answered, or gov- 
inore dignified and decorous. erness institutions that she had applied to, the 

'Other visitors they had none. Ascott never domestic affairs fell almost entirely into the 
ottered to bring any of his friends ; and grad- hands of th. It was she who bought 

ually (hey saw very little of him. He was in, and kept a jealous eye, not unneeded, over 
frequently out, especially at meal times, so provisions; she who cooked and waited, ami 
that his aunts gave up the struggle to make sometimes even put a helping hand, coarse. 
the humble dinners better and more to his but willing, into the family sewing and mend- 
liking, and would even have hesitated to take ing. This had now become so vital a necessity 
the money which he was understood to pay thai it was fortunate Miss Leaf had no other 
tor his board, had he ever offered it, which he occupation, and Miss Selina no other enter- 
did not. Vet still whenever he did happen tainmenr, than stitch, stitch, stitch, at the 
to remain with them a day, or an evening, he'ever-beginnitig, never-ending wardrobe wants 
was good and affectionate, aud always enter- which assail decent poverty every where, es- 
tair.ed them with descri| of all he would pecially in London, 

do as soon as he got into practice. " Clothes seem to wear out frightfully fas 

Meantime thev kept house as economically said Hilary one day, when she was putting on 
as possible upon the little ready money they her oldest gown, to suit a damp, foggy di 
had, hoping that more would come in — that when the streets were slippery with the mud 
Hilary would get. pupils. of settled rain. 

But Hilary never did. To any body who " I saw "such beautiful merino d in a 

knows London this will not be surprising. — -hop in Southampton Row," insinuated Eiiz- 
The wonder was in the Misses Leaf 1 abeth; but her i i shook her head, 

simple a3 to imagine tnat, a young countiy la- "No, no ; my old blac i i tally, 

dy, settling herself -in lodgings in an obscure and I can easily put on two shawls. Nobody 
metropolitan street, without friends or intro-jknows me ; and people may wear what they 
duction. could ever expect such a. thing. Ko- like in London". Don't loos: so gn loa- 

thing but her own daring, and the irrepres-i- beth. What does it signify if I can hut. keep 
ble well-spring of hope that was in her healthy ' myselt warm ? Now, run awa 
yrifuth, could have sustained her in what.- tern Elizabeth obeyed, but shortly reappeared 
years after, would have appeared to her, as it with a bundle — a large, old fashioned thick 
certainly was, downright insanity. But shawl. 

Heaven'takes care of the ma'il, the righteously " Mother gave it me ; her mistress gave it 
and unselfishly mad, and Heaven took care her : but' we r er worn it. and in .all. 

ot poor Hilary. ■ ; you iidn't mind.pu this 

The hundred labors she went through — once — this terrible soakin 
weariness of body and travail of soul, the risks The scarlet face, the ei 

she ran. the pitfalls she escaped — what ni no resisting tiiem. One natural pang 

to record here? Many have recorded the Hilary felt — that in her sha be! 

like, manv more have known them, and ac- fallen so low as to be indebted to f tnt, 

knowledged that when such histories; and then she too b; shame 

produced in books how utterly imaginati rigJthe kindness than for her own pride 

fades before realitv. Hilary neve;- lool that could not :h. 



fades 

back upon that time herself without a shud- 
dering wonder how she could have dared all 
and gone through all. Possibly she never 
could, but for the sweet old. face, growing older 



yet sweeter everv dav, wlnci lioujfb " peo] htwear any thing in Lon 



" Than ." she ( 

and gently, and let herself be wra i the 

thick shawl. Its gorgeous reds' and yellows 
would, she knew, make her noticeable, even 



the minute she opened the dooi of that dull 
parlor, and made even No. b r > look like home. 

When she told, sometimes gayly. someti 
with burning, bursting tears, the tale of her 
day's efforts andflay's failures, it was always 
comfort to feel Johanna's hand on her hair, 
Johanna's voice whispering over her, "Never 
mind, my child, all will come right in time. 
All happens for good." 

And the face, withered and worn, yet calm 
as a summer .sea, full of the "peace which 



don." Still, she put it on with agoo 

■ t-.d all through her peregrination day it 

vanned not only her r$, but her heart; 

Coming home, she paused wistfully before 1 a 

glittering hop: her poor little feel were 

so soaked and cold. Could she possibly afford 

a new pair of boots? ft was not a matter ot 

vanity — she had passed that. She did -not 

care now how ugly and shabby looked the 

"wee feet" that had once been praised ; but 

she felt it might be a matter of health and 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



47 



prudence. Suppose she caught cold — i'ell ill She nevei thought of being annoyed with the 
— died: died, leaving Johanna to struggle shopkeeper, who, though he trusted her with 
alone: died before Robert Lyon came home, the sixpence, carefully took down her name 
Both thought-; struck sharp. She was too and address : still less to suspecting the old 
young, stil r, or"had not suffered enough, calmly lady opposite, who sat and listened to the 



.oik of death and dying 
'• It will do no harm to inquire the price 
might stop it out in omnibus* 



trarisaction — apparently a well-to-do customer, 
clad in a rich black silk and handsome sable 
furs — of looking down upon her and despising 



For this was the way that every new article her. She herself never despised any body 



of dress had to be procured — "stopping if 
out" of something else. 

After trying several pairs— with a fierce, 

ash at a small hole which the day's 

sing had worn in her well-darned stock- 



except for wickedness. 

So she waited contentedly, neither thinking 
of herself nor of what others thought of her: 
but with her mind quietly occupied by the two 
thoughts, which in any brief space of rest al- 



ings, and which she was sure the shopman 'ways recurred, calming down all annoyances, 
saw, as well as an old lady who sat opposite and raising her above the level of petty pains 



-Hilary bought the plainest and stoutest of 
boots. The bill overstepped her purse by six 
I ence, but she promised thai sum on delivery, 
and paid the rest. She had got into a nervous 
horror of letting any account stand over for a 
single day. 

Look tenderly, reader, on this oicture of 



Johanna and Robert Lyon. Under the in- 
fluence of these her tired face grew composed, 
and there was a wishful, faraway, fond look' 
in her eyes, which made it not wonderful that 
the said old lady — apparently an acuteoldsoul 
in her way — should watch her, as we do occa- 
sionally watch strangers in whom we have 



struggles so small, of sufferings so uninterest-: become suddenly interested, 
ing and mean. I paint it not because it is 1 There is no accounting for these interests, 
original, but because it is so awfully true. or to the events to which they give rise. 
Thousands of women, well born, well reared,|s m e times they are pooh-pooh-ed as"roman- 
know it to be true— burned into them by the t j c> » "unnatural," "like a bit in a novel ;" 
cruel conflict of their youth ; happy they if it and yet they are fact8 cont inuallv occurring, 
ended m their youtn, while mind and body especially to people of quick intuition, observ- 
had still enough vitality and elasticity to en-Ljfo^ am i Rympa thv. Nay, even the most 
1 paint it, because it accounts for the orilinrirv pe0 p le have " known or heard of such, 

resulting in mysterious, life-long loves ; firm 
friendships : strange yet often wonderful hap- 
sudden revolutions of fortune 
things utterly unaccountable 
unscru table 



accusation sometimes made — especially by 
men — that women are naturally stingy. Pos- 
sibly so: but in many instances may it not '. )V marriage 
have been this petty struggle with petty wants, an j destinv : 
this pitiful calculating of penny against penfiy, L^ except' by the"belieTin' the 
how best to save here and spend there, whichjp rov j ( j eftCe w hich 
narrows a woman's nature in spite of herself ?j 
it sometimes takes years of comparative ease 
and freedom from pecuniary cares to counter- 
act the grinding, lowering effects of a youth of 
[ overty. 

And J paint this picture, too, literally, and 



"Shape? < u ■ ends. 
Rougbihew tliem as we will." 



When Hilary left the shop she was startled 
by a voice at her elbow. 

" I beg your pardon, but if your way lies up 
not on its picturesque side — it, indeed, poverty Southampton Row, would' you object to give 



has a picturesque side — in order to show an- 
other side which it really has — high, heroic, 
made up of dauntless enduranee, i-ifice. 

and self control. Also, io indicate that bless 
ing which narrow circum 



an old woman a share of that capital umbrella 
of youi -•'."' 

"With pleasure," Hilary answered, though 
the oddness of the request amused her. And 
it was granted really with pleasure ; for the 



the habit of looking more to the realities than old lady spoke with those "accents of the 
to thi of things, and of finding pleas- mountain tongue*' which this foolish Hilary 

ure in enjoyments mental rather than sensuous, never ized without a thrill at the heart. 

inward rather than external. When people " May be you think an old woman ought to 
can truly recognize this they cease either to be take a cab, and not Le intruding upon strang- 
afraid or ashamed of poverty. - ; but 1 am hale and hearty, and beingonly 

Hilary was not ashamed: — not even now. a street's length from my own door, I dislike 
when hers smote sharper and harder than it to waste unnecessary shillings.'' 



had ever done at Stowbury. She felt it a sore 
thing enough : but i* never humiliated nor an- 
gered her. Either she was too p oud or not 



" Certainly," acquiesced Hilary, with a half 

sigh : shillings were only too precious to her. 

" I saw you in the boot shop, and you 



proud enough; but her low estite always seemed the sort of young lady who would do a 
seemed to her too simply external a thing to kindness to an old body like me ; 80 I said to 
affect her relations with the world outside, myself, * 111 ask hex.' " 



48 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



" I am glad you did." Poor girl ! she felt Iquidder, a prudent person, who never did 
unconsciously please 1 at finding herself still tilings by halves, and, like most truly gener- 
ate to show a kindi -SS to any body. |ous people, was cautious even in her extreme&t 

They walked on a:.d on — it was certainly a I fits of generosity, at tkat very moment was 
long street's length— to the stranger's door.'sitting in Mrs. Jones's first flsor, deliberately 
and it took Hilary a good way round from hers :jdiscovering every single thing possible to be 
but she said nothing of this, concluding, of learned about the Leaf family, 
course, that her companion was unaware ef| Nevertheless, owing to Selina's indignant 
where she lived; in which she was mistaken, pertinacity, Hilary's own hesitation, an 1 adira 
They stopped at laat before a respectable: hope of a pupil which rose up and faded like 
house near Brunswick Square, bearing a brass the rest, the possible acquaintance lay dormant 
plate, with the words "Mi*s Balquidder." for two or three weeks ; till, alas! the fabulous 

"That is my name, and very much obliged wolf actually came to the door; and the sis- 
to you, my dear. How it rains ! Ye're just ters, after paying their week's rent, looked 
droukit,." |aghast at one another, not knowing where in 

Hilary smiled and shook her damp shawl. !the wide world the next week's rent was to 



''I shall take no harm. I am used to go out 
in all weathers." 

" Are you a governess ?" The question was 
so direct and kindly, that it hardly seemed an 
impertinence. 

" Yes; but I have no pupils, and I fear 1 
shall never get any." 

"Why not?" 

" I suppose, because I know nobody here. 
It seems so very hard to get teaching in Lon- 
don. But I beg your pardon." 

" I beg yours," said M'ss Balquidder — not 
without a certain dignity — " for asking ques- 
tions of a stranger. But I was once a strang- 
er here myself and ba.l a ' ssir fecht,' as we 
say in Scotland, before 1 could earn even my 
daily bread. Though I wasn't a governess, 
still I know pretty well what the sort of life 
is, and if I had daughter* who must work for 
their bread, the •tie "thing I would urge upon 
them should be — 'Never become a govern- 
ess.'" 

" Indeed. For what reason ?" 

" I'll not tell you now, my dear, standing 
with all war wet clothes on ; but as I said, it 
you wiil do me the favor to call — " 

" Thank you!" said Hilary, not sufficiently 
initiated in London caution to dread making a 



not 



coue from. 

"Thank God, we don't owe any thing: 
a penny !" gasped Hilary. 

" No ; there it* comfort in, that," said Johan- 
na. And the expression of her folded hands 
»nd upward face was not despairing, even 
though that of the pesr widow, when her bar- 
rel of meal was gone, and her cruse of oil 
spent, would hardly have been sadder. 

'• 1 am sure we have wasted nothing, and 
cheated nobody ; — surely God will help us." 

" I know He will, my child." 

And the two sisters, elder and younger, kiss- 
ed one another, cried a little, and then sat 
down to consider what was t« be done. 

Ascott must be told bow things were with 
them. Hitherto they had not troubled him 
much with their affairs : indeed, he was so 
little at home. And after sems private con- 
sultation, both Johanna and Hilary decided 
that it was wisest to let the lad come and go 
as he liked ; not attempting — as he once in- 
dignantly expressed it — " to tie him to their 
apron strings." For instinctively these maid- 
en ladies felt that with men, and, above all, 
young men, the only way to bind the wander- 
ing heart was to leave it free, except by trying 
their utmost that home should be always a 



new acquaintance. Besides, she liked the. pleasant heme. 



rough hewn, good natured face ; and the Scotch 
accent was sweet te her e*r. 



It was touching to see their efforts, when 
Ascott came in of evenings, to enliven for 



Yet when she reached home she was half his sake the dull parlor at JNo. 15. How Jo- 
sh v of telling ber sister* the engagement shejhanna put away her mending, and Selina 
had made. Selina was extremely shocked. jceased to grumble, and Hilary began her 
and considered it quite necessary that the lively chat, that never failed to brighten and 
London Directory, the. nearest clergy man, or, \ amuse the household. Her nephew even 
perhaps, Mr. Ascott, who living in the parish. 'sometimes acknowledged that wherever he 
must knew— should be consulted as to Mis'- went, he met nobody.se "clever" as Aunt 
Balquidder's respectability*. [Hilary. 

So, presuming upon her influei.ee with hiin, 
on this night, after the re°t were gone to bed, 
she, being always the boldest to do any un- 
She does not know asinglethingabout pleasant, thing, said to him, 
me . } "Ascott, how are your business affairs pro>- 

Whicl/faet, arguing the natter energetic grossing? When do you think you will be 
ally two days after, the young lady might notable to g(t into practice?" 
have been so sure of, could she have peuetra- " Oh, presently. There's no hurry." 
ted the ceiling overhead, In truth, Miss Bal- ( " I am not so sure of that. Do you know, 



">*>he has much more reason to question 
our.-:." reco'lected Hilary, with BQme amuse- 
ment: for I never iold her my name «r ad- 
dress. 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



49 



toy dear boy" — and she opened her purse,; meant no harm. She repeated over and over 
which contained a tew shillings — "this is alljagain that the lad meant no harm. He had 
the money we have in the world." no evil ways; wai always pleasant, good- 

" Nonsense," .-<u.id Aficott, laughing. " I natured, and aflectionato, in his own careless 
beg your pardon," headded, seeingit was withfashion ; but was no more to be relied on than 
her no laughing matter ; " but I am so accus-:a straw that every wind blows hither and 
tomed to be hard up chat I don't seem to care, thither ; or, to use a common simile, a butter- 
It always comes right somehow — at least with fly that never sees any thing farther than the 
me." inearest flower. His was, in short, the plea- 

" How ?" sure-loving temperament, not positively sinful 

"Oh, 1 don't exactly know; but it does, or sensual, but still holding pleasure as the 
Don't fret. Aunt Hilary. I'll lend you a pound greatest good; and regarding what deeper 
or two/'' natures call " duty," and find therein their 

She drew back. These poor, proud, fond strong-hold and consolation, as a mere bugbear 
women, who, if their boy, instead of a linear a sentimental theory, or an impossible folly, 
gentleman, had been a helpless invalid, would, Poor lad ! and he had the world to fight 
have tended him, worked for him, nay, begged with ; how would it use him ? Even if no 
for him — cheerfully, oh, how cheerfully '. want- heavy sorrows for himself or otherssmote him, 
ing nothing in the whole world but his love — his handsome face would have to grow old, 
they could not ask him for his money. Even his strong frame to meet sickness — death. — 
now, offered thus, Hilary felt as if to take it How would he do it? That is the thought 
would be intolerable. I which always recurB. What is the t r nd of such 

Still the thing must be done. ,men as these? Alas ! the answer would come 

•• I wish, Ascott" — and she nerved herself j from hospital wards, alms-houses and work- 
to say what somebody ought to say to him — j houses, debtors' prisons and lunatic asylums. 
" I wish you would not lend but pay us the To apprehensions like this — except the last, 
pound a week you said you could so easily happily it was as yet too far off — Hilary had 
spare." been slowly and sadly arriving about Ascott 

" To be sure 1 will. What a thoughtless for weeks past; and her conversation with 
fellow I have been ! But — but — I fancied you him to-night seemed to make them darken 
would have asked me if you wanted it. Nev-down upon her with added gloom. As she 
er mind, you'll get it all" in a lump. Let me' went up stairs she set her lips together hard, 
see— how much will it come to? You are the " I see there is nobody to do any thing ex- 
best head going for arithmetic. Aunt Hilary, cept me. But I must not tell Johanna.'' 
L*o reckon it all up';'' She lay long awake, planning every < -on- 

Shedidao; and the sum total made Ascottjceivable scheme for saving money: till at 
open his eyea wide. length, her wits sharpened by the desperation 

"Upon my soul I had no idea it was so of the circumstances, there flashed upon her 
much. I'm very sorry, but I seem fairly an idea that came out of a talk she had had 
cleaned outthis quarter — only a few sovereigns with Elizabeth that morning. True, it was a 
left to keep the mill going. You shall have perfectly new and untried chance — and a mere 
them, or half of them, and I'll owe you the chance-: still itwasrightto overlook nothing, 
rest. Here !" She would not have ventured to tell Selina of 

He emptied on the table, without couniing, it for the world, and even to Johanna, she only 
four or five pounds. Hilary took two. asking said — finding her as wakeful as herself— -aid 
him gravely " If lie was sure he could spare it in a careless manner, as if it had relation to 
so much did not wish to inconvenience nothing, and she expected nothing from it — 

I think, as I have nothing else to do. I 



go and 



morning. 



pee Miss Balquidder to-morrow 



CHAPTER XIII. 



him." 

'h, nut at all : and I wouldnVmini if it wil 
did : you have been good aunts to me." 

He kissed her. with a sudden fit of com- 
punction, and hade her good-night, looking as 
if he did not care to be ' bothered " any more. 

Hilary ret: ■ i re nad, more hopt 
at him tl ad slami 

in her face, or scolded her like a trooper. Had Miss Balqi 's house was a handsome 

he met her seriousness in the same spirit, one, handsomely furnished, and a neat little 
even though it had been a sullen or angry maid-servant shoved Hilary at once into the 
spirit— and little as she said he must have felt dining-parlor, where the mistress sat before a 

she wlnhed him to feel— that his aunts were business-like writing-table, covered with 

leased with him ; but that utterly unim- te -s, papers, etc., all arranged with that careful 

pjeasible light-beartedness of his— there w;- • in disorder which indicates, even in the 

no doing any thing with it. There was so to smallest things, the possession of an accurate, 

•peak, " bo catching held " of Ascoto He methodical mind, than which there are fff* 



50 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



greater possessions, either to its owner or to 
the world at large. 
Miss Balquidder was not a personable wo- 



eyes filling, in spite of all her self-command. 
Miss Balquidder — who seemed accustomed 
to wait upon herself — went out of the room, 



man ; she had never been so even in youth ; and returned with cake and glasses ; then she 
and age had told its tale upon those large,; took the wine from the side-board, poured some 
strong features — "thoroughly Scotch features, "out for herself and Hilary", and began to talk, 
they would have been called by those who " It is nearly my luncheon-time, and T am 
think all Scotchwomen are necessarily big. J a great friend to regular eating and drinking, 
raw-boned, and ugly; and have never seen' I never let any thing interfere with my own 
that wonderfully noble beauty— not "prettiness, | meals, or other folks' either, if I can help it. 
but actual beauty m its highest physical asll would as pooh expect that fire to keep itself 



well as spiritual development — which i6 not 
seldom found across the Tweed. 

But while there was nothing lovely, there 



up without coals, as my mind to go on work- 
ing if I don't look after my body. You un- 
derstand ? You seem to have good health, 



was nothing unpleasant or uncomely in MissiMiss Leaf. I hope you are a prudent girl, 
Balquidder. Her large figure, in its plain and take care of it." 

black silk dress; her neat wiiite cap. from j " I think I do ;'' and Hilary smiled. "At 
under which peeped the little round euris of any rate my sister does for me, and also Eliz- 
daxen hair, neither gray nor snowy, but real abeth," 

"lint-white locks" still ; and her good-humor- "Ah, I liked the look of thai girl. If fam- 
ed, motherly look — motherly rather than old- ihes did but know that the most "useful patent 



maidish — gave an impression which may be 
best described by the word "comfortable." — 



of respectability they can carry about with 
them is their maid-servant ! That is how I 



She was a "comfortable" woman. She had always judge my new acquaintances." 



that quality — too rarely, alas ! in all people, 
and rarest in women going solitary down the 
hill of life — of being able, out of the deep con- 
tent, of her own nature, to make other people 
the same. 

Hilary was cheered in spite of herself: U 
always conveys hope to the young, when in 
sore trouble, if they see the old looking happy. 

"Welcome, my dear! I wa* afraid you 
had forgotten your prom 

"Oh no," said Hilary, responding heartily 
to the hearty clasp of a hand large as a man's. 
out soft as a woman s. 

"Why did vou not come sooner?" 



"There's reason in it, too," said Hilary, 
amused and drawn out of herself by the frank 
manner and the cordial voice — I use the adjec- 
tive advisedly ; none the less sweet because, its 
good terse English had a decided Scotch accent, 
with here and there a Scotch word. Also 
t'mre was about. Miss Balquidder a certain dry 
humor essentially Scotch — neither Irish "wit" 
nor English "fun," but Scotch humor; a 
little ponderous perhaps, yet sparkling: like 
the sparkles from a large lump of coal, red- 
warm at the heart, am! capable of warming a 
whole household. As many a time it had 
warmed the little household at Stowbury — for 
Move, than i ■ - ible excuse flashed thro'j Robert Lyon had it i n pei fection. Like a wa ft 

■ 's mind, but she was too honest, to gi^eJas from old times, it made Hilary at once feel 
it. She gave none at all, Nor did she Irkelat home with Miss Balquidder. 



to leave the ii ion that this was merely a 

when she knew she had only come 
secbndar; ■rsonal moti 



Equally, Miss Balquidder might have seen 
tetbing in this girl's patient, heroic, forlorn 
[youth which reminded her of her own. Un- 



" May I toil you why I came to-day? — : reason i tractions appear, 

there is often a hidden something ben 
which in reality makes them both natural and 
probable, as was the case here. In half an 



Ber: advice and help; and 

.mething I hear. 

V')\l ; V." 

'• indeed! 

" Ii ■ roundabout way; f- 1 friends; ami I explained her 

■ ho told our maid-servant.'' ; present position, .lu.d- and desires. They 

The same girl I met on the . in the one cry — familiar to how many 



hour these two women were sitting talking like 



your house? I beg your pardon, but I know 

ou live, Mi lui ' 

. acqtiaintan 



thousands more of helpless young women !- 
I want work 1" 

Balquidder tfhlly. Not 



I lizabeth that it was a new story — alas! sire heard it 

and something new in 

k reat inter st in helping other the telling of it: such extreme directness and 

• ■ implicity, such u nt of either false pride 

the idea— "I doi in that, but in procuV-ior fah of favors, ai 

ingtl rk. I want work — ob! so terribly. rto.«hrihking from well-meant kindness ; the 

u only knew — " poor woman speaking freely to the rich one, 

"Sit down, my dear:" for Hilary was recognizing the common womanhood of both, 

bling her voice breaking, and her and never supposing for an : ' that mere 



MISTRESS AND MAID, 



51 



money or position could make any difference 
betw.een them. 

The Btorj ended, both turned, as was the 
character of both, to the practical application 
of it — what it was exactly that Hilary needed, 
and what Miss Balquidder could supply. 

The latter said, alter a turn or two up and 
down the room, with her hands behind her — 
the only masculine trick she had — 

'• My dear, before going further, 1 ought to 
tell you one thing — I am not a lady."' 

Hilary looked at her in no little bewilder- 
ment. 



"'1 
laughing. 



is, - ' explained Miss Balquidder, 
. ' not an educated gentlewoman like 
you. 1 made my money myself — in trade. I 
kept an outfitter's shop." 

" You must bave kept it uncommonly well," 
«as the involuntary reply, which, in its ex 
treme honesty and was perhaps the 

best thing that Hilary could have said. 

" Well, perhaps J did," and Miss Balqnid- 
der laughed her 

of her few weaknesses — a consciousness of her 
own capabilities as a woman of business, and 
a pleasure at her own deserved success. 

"Therefore, you see, I can not help you as a 
governess. Perhaps I would not if I could, 
for. so far as I see, a good clearance of one 
half the governesses into honest trades would 
be for their own benefit, and greatly to the 
benefit of the otlier half. But that's not my 
affair. I only meddle with things I under- 
stand. Miss Leaf, would you .be ashamed of 
keeping a shop?" 

It is no reflection upon Hilary to confess 
that this point-blank question startled her. — 
Her bringing up had been strictly among the 
professional class; and in the prov arper 

than even in London is drawn the line between 
the richest tradesman who "keeps a shop," 
and the poorest lawyer doctor, or clergyman 
who ever starved in decent gentility, it had 
been often a struggle for Hilary Leaf's girlish 
pride to have to teach A B C to littleboysand 
girls whese pareuts stood behind counters; 
but as she grew older she grew wiser, and in- 
tercourse with Robert Lyon had taught her 
much. She never forgot one dav, when Seli- 



ity of such a thing did not occur to me ; but I 
hope I should not be ashamed of any honest 
work for which I was competent. Only- to 
serve in a shop — to wait upon strangers — 1 am 
so horribly shy of strangers." And again the 
sensitive color rushed in a perfect tide over 
cheeks and forehead. _ 

Miss Balquidder looked, half amused, com- 
ionately at her. 

" No, my dear, you would not make a good 
shop-woman, at least there are many who are 
better tilted for it than you; and it is my 
I maxim that people should try to find out. and 



to do, only that which they are best fitted for. 
If they did we might not have so many cases 
of proud despair and ambitious failure in the 
world. It looks very grand and interesting 
sometimes to try and do what you can't do, 
and then tear your hair, and think the world 
has ill-used you — very grand, but very silly ; 
when all the while, perhaps, there is some- 
thing elee you can do thoroughly well ; and 
hearty laugh, betraying onejthe world will be exceedingly obliged to you 

for doing it, and not doing the other thing. — 
As doubtless the world was to me, when, in- 
stead of being a mediocre musician, as I once 
wished to «be — it's true, my dear — I took to 
keeping one of the best ladies' outfitting ware- 
houses in London." 

\V bile she talked her companion had quite 
recovered herself, and Miss Balquidder then 
;vent on to explain, what 1 will tell more 
briefly, if less graphically, than the good 
Scotchwoman, who, like all who have had a 
hard struggle in their youth, liked a little to 
dilate upon it in easy old age. 

Hard as it was. however, it had ended early, 
for at fifty she found herself a woman of inde- 
pendent property, without kith or kin, still 
active, energetic, and capable of enjoying life. 
She applied her m;nd to find out what she 
could best do with herself and her money. 

" I might have bought a landed estate to be 
inherited by — nobody; or a house in Belgra- 
via, and an opera-box, to be shared by — no- 
body. We all have our pet luquries ; none of 
these were exactly mine." 

'• No," assented Hilary, somewhat abstract- 
edly. She was thinking — if she could make a 
-ked him something about his grandfath- fortune, and -and give it away! — if, by any 
er or great-grandfather, and he answeml means, any honorable, upright heart could be 
quickly, smiling, " Well, I suppose I had one, made to understand that it did not signify, in 
but. I really never heard." Nevertheless it reality, which side the money came from; 
takes long to conquer entirely the class preiu-l that it sometimes showed deeper, the very 
dices of years, nay, more, of generations. In'deepest attachment, when a proud, poor man 
spite of her will Hilary felt hersi If wfhee, and had 6elf-respect and courage enough to say to 
tne color tush all over "her face, at Miss Bal-ja woman, " I love you. and l'will marry you; 
bidder's question. 1 am n«t such a' coward as to be afraid of your 

"Take time to answer, and speak out, my gold." 
dear. Don't be afraid. You'll not offend But, oh ! what a ridiculous dream ! — and 
me." 



The kindly cheerful tone made Hilary re- 
cover her balance immediately. 

" I never thought of it before ; the possibil- 



she sat there, the penniless Hilary Leaf, list- 
ening to Miss Balquidder, the rich lady, whose 
life seemed so easy. For the moment, per- 
haps, her own appeared hard. But she had 



n 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



hope, and she was young. She knew nothing] T find more difficult to get done, and well 
of the years and years that had had to be -lived J done, for it requires a far higher clas3 of wo- 
through before those kind eyes looked as clear men than generally apply: you could keep 
and cloudless as now; before the voice had, the accounts of a shop; you should be the 
gained the sweet evenness of tone which she] head, and it would be easy to find the hands, 
liked to listen to, and felt that it made her Let me see ; there is a young lady, she has 
quiet and "good," almost like Johanna's. managed my stationer's business at Kensing- 
" You see, my dear," said Miss Balquidder, ton these two years, and now she is going to 
'•when one has no duties, one must justice married. Are you good at figures-, do you 
make them; when we have nobody to carci understand book-keeping?" 
for us, we must take to caring for every body.! And suddenly changing into the woman of 



I suppose " — here a slight pause indicated that 
this life, like all women's lives, had had its 
tale, now long, long- told — " I suppose I was 
not meant to be a wife ; but I am quite cer- 
tain I was meant to be a mother. And " — 
with he/ peculiar, bright, humorous look — 
" you'd be astonished, Miss Leaf, if you knew 
what lots of 'children ' I have in all parts of 
the world." 

Miss Balquidder then went on to explain, 
that finding, from her own experience, how 
great was the number, and how sore the trial, 
of young women who nowadays are obliged 



business, and one who was evident]} quite 
accustomed both to arrange and command, 
Miss Balquidder put Hilary through a sort of 
extempore arithmetical catechism, from which 
she came oft' with flying colors. 

"I only wish there were moie like you. I 
wish there were more young ladies brought up 
like—" 

" Like-boys I" said Hilary, laughing, " for 
I always used to say that was my cape." 

" Xo, I nevei desire to see young women 
made into men." And Miss Balquidder seem- 
ed a little scandalized. "But I do wish girls 



to work — obliged to forget that there is such|were taught fewer accomplishments, and more 
a thing as theblessed priviledgeof being work- j reading, writing, and arithmetic; were made 
ed for— she had set herself, in her small way, as accurate, orderly, and able to help them- 
to try and help them. Her pet project was to &elve. ; a are. But to business. Will 

induce educated women to quit the genteel, you take the management of my stationer's 
starvation of governesships for some good ! shop?" 

trade, thereby bringing higher intelligence in- Hilary's breath came hard and fast. Much 
to a class which needed, not the elevation of as she had longed for work, to get this sort of 
the work itself, which was comparatively easy work — to keep a stationer's shop ? What 
and refined, but of the workers. She had; would her sisters say? what would he say ? 
therefore invested sum after sum of her capi-jBut she dared not think of that just now. 
tal in setting up various small shops in the, " How much should I be able to earn, do 
environs of London, in her own former line, 'you think?" 

and others — stationers, lace-shops, etc. — trades! Miss Balquidder considered a moment, and 
whieh could be well carried on by women. — then said, rather shortly, for it was not exact- 
Into the management of these she put as ma-'ly acting on her own principles ; she knew the 
ny young girls as she could find really fitted pay wasabove the work. " I will give you a 
for it, or willing to learn, paying them regular hundred a year."' 



salaries, large or small, according to their de- 
serts. 



A hundred a year! actually certain, and 
over and above any other income. It seemed 



feelings that 
The good 

dear; 1 will 



"Fair work, fair pay ; not one penny more a fortune to poor Hilary, 
or less ; I never do it; it would not be honest. j « W ill you give me a dav or two to think 
I overlook each business myself, and it isl a b on * it and consult my sisters?" 
carried on in my name. Sometimes it brings: gh fc . fl but Miss Balquidder 

me in a little profit; sometimes not. ^ cou]d , e / how a i itate d she was ; how she eyi- 
course," she added, smiling, "I would rather; den]v stru _ e]e ^ with manv 

have profits than losses: still, I balance one, « ii £„ u»k?."*.."LJ «.;♦!, JL«< 

. ' , ,, ,..,' ,, would be beststrujrgleu with, alone, 

against the other, and it leaves me generallv a igi , 

i ■ • . r .. * Did Jiidv rose. 

small interest for mv money — two or three, 

per cent., which is ail I care about. Thus, " Take .- vcmr . 0WD am *> ra - v ^ear; i W1 ! 
you see, I and mv voung people make a for keep the situation open for you for one week 
bargain on both side's; it's no charitv. 1 don't from tfnadate. And now I must send you a- 
beheve in charity." wa ?. for I have a 8 real denl to do - 

"Xo," said Hilary, feeling her spirit rise. They parted, quite like friends; and Hilary 
She was yet young enough, yet enough .m>- went out, walking quickly, feeling neither the 
worn by. pie fight to feel the deliciousr,esH ofwind nor the rain. Yet when she reached 
work— honest work for honest pay. "I thinkiNo. 15 she could not bring herself to enter, 
I could do it," she added. " I think, with a|but took another turn or two round the Cres- 
little practice, I really could keep a shop." |cent, trying to be quite sure of her own mind 

"At all events, perhaps vou could do whatbefore she opened the matter to her sisters.— 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



-,.:-. 



And there was one little battle to be fought 
which the sisters did know. 

It was perhaps foolish, seeing she did not 
belong to him in any open way, and he had 
no external right over her life or lier actions, 
that she should go back and back to the ques- 
tion, •• What would Robert Lyon say?" 

He knew she earned her daily bread ; some- 
times this had seemed to vex and annoy him, 
but it must be done : and when a thing was 
inevitable, it was not Mr. Lyon's way to say 
much about it. But being a governess was 
an accredited and customary mode of a young 
lady's earning her livelihood. This was dif- 
ferent. If he should think it too public, too 
unfeminine: he had such a horror of a woman's 
beirg any thing but a woman, as strong and 
brave as she could, but in a womanly way ; 
doing any thing, however painful, that she was 
obliged to do, but never out of choice or bra- 
vado, or the excitement of stepping out of her 
own sphere into man's. Would Robert Lyon 
think leas of her, Hilary, because she had to 
learn to take care of herself, to protect her- 
self, and to act in so many ways for herself, 
contrary to the natural and right order of 
things ? That old order — God forbid it should 
ever change! — which ordained that the women 
should be " keepers at home ;" happy rulers 
of that happy little woild, which seemed as 
far oft' as the next world from this poor Hilary. 

"What if he should look down upon me? 
What if he should return and find me different 
from what he expected?" And bitter tears 
burned in her eyes, as she walked rapidly and 
passionately along the deserted street. Then 
a revulsion came. 

•'No; love is worth nothing that is not 
worth every thing, and to be trusted through 
every thing. If he could forget me — couldXovz 
any one better than me — me myself, no mat- 
ter what I was — ugly or pretty, old or young, 
rich or poor — I would not care for his love. It 
would not be worth my having ; I'd let it go. 
Robert, though it broke my heart, I'd let vou! 

go." ' ! 

Her eyes flashed ; her poor little hand* 
clenched itself under her shawl ; and then, as 
a half reproach, she heard in fancy the steady 
loving voice — which could have calmed her 
wildest paroxysm of passion and pain — "You 
must trust me, Hilary." 

Yes, he was a man to be trusted. No doubt 
very much like other men, and by no means 
such a hero to the world at large as this fond 
girl made him out to be: but Robert Lyon 
had, with all people, and under all circum-j 
stances, the. character ot reliableness. He had i 
also — you might read it in his lace — a quality 
equally rare, faithfulness. Not merely sin- 
cerity, but faithfulness; the power of conceiv- 
ing one clear purpose, or one strong love — in 
unity of strength — and of not only keeping 
true to it at the time, but of holding fast to it 



with a single-minded persistency that never 
even takes in the idea of voluntary change, as 
long as persistency is right or possible. 

"Robert, Robert!" sobbed thisforlorn girl, 
as if slowly waking up to a sense of her for- 
lorness, and of the almost universal fickleness, 
not actual falseness, but fickleness, which pre- 
vails in the world and among mankind. "0 
Robert, be faithful ! faithful to vourself— faith- 
ful to me!" 



CHAPTER XIV. 

When Miiss Hilary reached home, Eliza- 
beth opened the door to her; the parlor was 
deserted. 

Miss Leaf had gone to lie down, and Miss 
Selina was away to see the Lord Mayor's Show 
with Mr. Peter Ascott. • 

"With Mr. Peter Ascott!" Hilary was a 
little surprised : but on second thoughts she 
found it natural; Selina was glad of any a- 
musement — to her, not only the narrowness 
but the dullness ef their poverty was inex- 
pressibly galling. " She will be back to din- 
ner, I suppose?" 

"I don't know,-" said Elizabeth briefly. 

Had Miss Hilary been less preoccupied, she 
would have noticed something not quite right 
about the girl — something that at any other 
time would have aroused the direct question, 
" What -is the matter, Elizabeth ?" «For Miss 
Hilary did not consider it beneath her dignity 
to observe that things might occasionally go 
wrong with this solitary young woman, avvay 
from her friends, and exposed to all the an- 
noyances of London 'lodgings ; that many tri- 
fles might happen to worry and perplex her. 
If the mistress could not set them right, she 
could at least give the word^>f kindly sympa- 
thy, as precious to " a poor servant " as to the 
Queen on her throne. 

This time, however, it came not, and Eliza- 
beth disappeared below stairs immediately. 

The girl was revolving in her own mind o 
difficult ethical question. To-day. for the first 
time in her life, she had not " told Miss Hila- 
ry every thing." Two things had happened, 
and she could not make up her mind as to 
whether she ought to communicate them. 

Now Elizabeth had a conscience, by nature 
a very tender one, and which, from circum- 
stances, had been cultivated into a much high- 
er sensitiveness than, alas ! is common amon^ 
her class, or, indeed, in any class. This, if an 
error, was Miss Hilary's doing ; it probably 
caused Elizabeth a few more miseries, and 
vexations, and painful shocks in the world 
than she would have had had she imbibed on- 
ly the ordinary tone of morality, especially the 
morality of ordinary domeetic servants ; but 
it was an error upon which, in summing up 



54 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



her life, the Recording Angel would gravely 
smile. 



of date, and perhaps existing only in stray 
nooks of the world ; but thank God ! it does 



The first trial bad happened at breakfast! exist. Hilary had it, and she had taught it 
lime. Ascott. descending earlier than hisjto Elizabeth. 

went, had asked her. Did any gentleman.: " 1 wonder whether Miss Hilary kncm 
short and dirty, with a hoiked nose, inquire this? I wonder what she would say to it ?" 
for him yesterday ? And now arose the perplexing ethical ques- 

Elizabeth thought a minute, and recollected tion aforesaid, as to whether Elizabeth ought 
that some person answering the above not too to tell her. 

flattering description had called,, but rt it was one of Miss Hilary's doctrines— the 

to leave his name, saying lie did not know the same for the kitchen as for the parlor, nay, 
ladies, but was a particular friend of Mr. preached sirongest in the kitchen, where the 



Leaf's 

Ascott laughed. " So he is — a very partic- 
ular friend ; but my aur.ts would not fancy 
him. and 1 don't want him to come here. Say, 
if he calls, that I'm gone out of town." 

" Very well, sir. Shall you start before 
dinner?" taid Elizabeth, whose practical mind 



mysteries of the parlor are often so cruelly 
exposed — that a secret, accidentally found out 
should be kept as sacred as if actually confid- 
ed; also, that the secret of an enemy should 
no more be betrayed than that of a beloved 
and trusting friend. 

Miss Senna isn't my enemy," smiled E 



immediately recurred to that meal, and to the'abeth ; " but I'm not overfond of her, and so 
joint, always contrived to be hot on the days! I'd rather not tell of her, or vex hgr if I can 
that Ascott dined at home. jhelp it. Any how, I'll keep it to myself for 

He seemed excessively tiekled. " Blessja bit." 



you, you are the greatest innocent ! Just say 
what I tell you, and never mind — hush! here's 
Aunt Hilary." 

And Miss Hilary's anxious face, white with 
long wakefulness, had put out of Elizabeth's 
head the answer that was coming : indeed the 
matter slipped from her mind altogether, in 
consequence of another circumstance which 
gave her much more perplexity. 

During her young mistress's absence, sup- 
posing Miss Selina out too, and Mi^ss Leaf 
up stairs, she had come, suddenly into the 
parlor without knocking. There, to her a- 
niazement, she saw Miss Selina and Mr. As- 
cott standing, in close c< tion, over the 
fire. They were so engrossed that they did 
not notice her. and she shut door again im- 
mediately. But what confounded her was, 
that she was cer^in, absolutely certain, Mr. 
Ascott had his arm round Miss Selina's waist! 



But the secret weighed heavily upon her. 
and besides, her honest heart felt a certain 
diminution of respect for Miss Selina. What 
could she see to like hi that common look 
commonplace man, whom she could not h 
met a dozen times, of whose domestic life she 
knew nothing, and whose personality Eliza- 
beth, with the Aarp observation often found 
in her class, probably because coarse people 
do not care to hide their coarseness from ser- 
vants, had speedily set down at her own valu- 
ation — "Neither carriage nor horses, nor no- 
thing, will ever make him a gentleman V 

He, however, sent Miss Selina home mag- 
nificently in the said carriage: Ascott with 
her, who had been picked up somewhere in 
the City, and who came in to his dinner, with- 
out the slightest reference to going "out of. 
town." 

But in spite of her Lord Mayor's Show, and 



Now that was no business of hers, and yet the great attention which she said she had re- 
the faithful domestic wae a good deal troubled; xeived from "various members of the Com- 
mon Council of the City of London," Miss 
Selina was. for her, meditative, and did not 
talk quite so much as usual. There was in 



still more so. when, by Miss Leaf's exc 
surprise at hearing of the visitor who had come 
gone, carrying 



and 



Miss Selina away to the 



city, she w;ts certain the elder sister was com- the little parlor an uncomfortable atmosphere, 
pletely in the dark as to any thing going tolas ifcall of them had something on their minds. 



nappen in the family. 

Could it be a wedding? Could Miss Selina 
really love, and be intending to marry, that 
horrid little man? For strange to say, this 
young servant had. what many a young beau- 
ty of rank and fashion has not, or has lost 
forever — the true, pure, womanly creed, that 
loving and marrying are synonymous terms ; 
that to let a man put his arm round your 
waist when you do not intend to marry him, 
or to intend to marry him for money or any- 
thing else when you do not really love him. 
are things quite impossible and incredible to 
any womanly mind. A creed somewhat out 



Hilary felt the ice must be broken, and if she 
did not do it nobody else would. !So she said, 
stealing her hand into Johanna's under shel- 
ter of the dim fire-light, 

"Selina, I wanted to have a little family 
consultation. I have just received an offer..' 

"An offer!" repeated Miss Selina, with a 
visible start. " Oh. I forgot : you went to see 
your friend, Miss Balquidder, this morning. 
Did you get any thing out of her? Has she 
any nephews and nieces wanting a governess?" 

"She has no relations at all. But I will 
just tell you the story of my visit." 

" I kope it's interesting," said Ascott, who 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



55 



was lying on the Kofa, b,alf asleep, his general " You don't care, then, what becomes of us 
habit after dinner. He woke, however, dur- all ? I sometimes begin to think so." 
ing his Aunt Hilary's relation, and when she Struck by tl>e tone, Ascott stopped in the act 
reached its climax, that the odor was for her of putting on his lilac kid gloves. "What 
to manage a stationer's shop, he burst out have I done? I may be a verv bad fellow, but 
heartily laughing; I'm not quite 80 bad as tkat. Aunt Hilary." 

" Well, that is a rich idea. I'll come and "She didn't mean it, my boy," said Aunt 
buy Of yon. You'll look so pretty standing Johanna, tenderly, 
behind a counter.'' I He was moved, more by the tenderness than 

But Selinasaid. angrily, '"You cannot evendbe reproach. He came and kissed his eldest 

think of such a thing. It would be a disgrace aunt in that warm-hearted, impulsive way, 

lie family." 'which had won him forgiveness, for ma»y a 

'•No," said Hilary, clasping tightly her] boyish fault. It did so now. 
eldest sister's hand — they two had already! " I know I'm not half good enough to you, 
talked the matter over: "lean not see any Auntie, but I mean to be. I mean to work 
disgrace. If ©ur family is so poor that the hard, and be a rich man some day ; and then 
women must earn their living as well as the you may be sure I shall not let my Aunt. Hil- 
men, all we have to see is that it should be ary keep ashop. Now, good-night, for I must 
hone- ied. What do you say, Ascott?'' meet a fellow ou business — really business — 

She looked earnestly at him ; she wanted that may turn out good for us all, I assure 
BOnHy to find out what he really thought. you." ' 

But Ascott took it, as he did everything, He went away whistling, with that air of 
• ery easily. " 1 d»n't see why Aunt Selina untroubled, good-natured liveliness peculiar to 
should make such a fuss. Why need you doi Ascott Leaf, which made them say continual- 
anything. Aunt Hilary? Can't we hold outa ly that he was "only a boy," living a boy'6 
little longer, and live upon tick till I get into 1 life, as thoughtless and as free. When his 
practice? Of course, I shall then take care of' handsome face disappeared the three women 
you all : I'm the head of the family. Howisat down ag^n round the fire, 
horribly dark this room is !" They made no comments on him whatever; 

He started up. and gave the fir* a fierce they were women, and he was their own. But 
poke, which consumed in five minutes a large — passing him over as if he had never existed 
lump of coal that Hilary ha'd hoped — oh, — Hilary began to explain to her sisters all 
cruel, sordid economy — would have lasted half particulars of her new scheme for maintaining 
the evening. the family. She told these details in a matter 



She broke the uneasy silence which follow- 
ed by asking Johanna to give her opinion. 

Johanna roused herself and spoke: 

" Ascott says right : he is the head of the'na. with dignity, 
family, and, by-and-by, I trust will take care, " Why impossible? I can certainly do the 
of us all. Bur, he is not able to doit now, and. work ; and it can not make me less of a lady. 



of-fact way, as already arranged ; and finally 
hoped Selina would make no more objections. 
" It is a thing quite impossible," said Seli- 



mear.time we must live. 

" To be sure, we must, Auntie." 



Besides, we had better not be ladies if we can 
not be honest ones. And, Selina, where in 



"1 mean, my boy, we must live honestly :!the money to come from ? We have none in 
we must not run into debt:" and her voice the house: we can not get any till Christmas." 
sharpened as with the reflected horror of herl "Opportunities might occur. We have 
young days — if, alas ! there ever had been any 'friends." 

youth for Henry Leaf's eldest daughter. "No,' "Not one in London : except, perhaps. Mr. 
Ascott, out ofdeblout of danger. Formyself" Ascott, and I would not ask him for a farthing. 
— she laid her thin old fingers on his arm, and You don't see, Selina, how horrible it would 
looked up at him with a pitiful mixture of re- he to be helped, unl -ome one dearly 

liance and hopelessness — " I would rather see loved. I couldn't bear it! I'd rather beg, 
vou breaking stones in the road than living starve : almost steal !" 



like a gentleman, as you call it, and a swind- 
ler, as I call it, upon other people's money." 
Ascott sprang up, coloring violently. "You 



'Don't be violent, child." 
Mill, but it's hardl" and the. cry of long- 
smothered pain burst out. "Hard enough to 



trong language, Aunt Johanna. Never have to earn one's bread in a way one doesn't 
mind, [daresay vou are right. BOwever. like; harder still to have to be parted from 
it's do bi of mine. Good-night, for I Johanna from Monday morning till Saturday 

have an engagement." night. But it must be. I'll go. It's a case 

Hilary said, gravely, she wished he would between hunger, debt, and work : the first is 
stay and join in the family consult; un] econd impossible, the third 

"Oh no: I hate talking over things. Settle is my only alternative. You must consent, 
it among yourselves. As I said, it isn't my Selina, for I tcill do it." 
business." " Don't 1" Selina spoke, more gently, and 



56 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



riot without some natural emotion. " Don't 
disgrace me, child ; for I may as well tell you 
— I meant to do so to-night — Mr. Ascott has 
made me an offer of marriage, and 1 — I have 
accepted it." 

Had a thunder-bolt fallen in the middle of 
the parlor at No. 15, its inmates — that is, two 
of them — could not have been more astound- 
ed. 

No doubt this surprise was a great instance 
of simplicity on their part. Many women | 
would have prognosticated, planned the thing! 
from the first: thought it a most excellent! 
match; seen glorious visions of the house in 
Kussell Square, of the wealth and luxury that 
would be the portion of " dear Selina," and, 
the general benefit that the marriage would be 
to the whole Leaf family. 

But these two were different from others.; 
They only saw their sister Selina, a woman 
ho longer young, and not without her peculi-| 
arities, going to be married to a man she knew 
little or nothing about — a man whom they 
themselves had endured rather than liked, and 
for the sake of gratitude. He was trying 
enough merely as a chance visitor ; but to 
look upon Mr. Ascott as a brother-in-law, as 
a husband — 

"Oh, Selina! you can not be in earnest?" 

" Why not ? Why should I not be married 
as well as my neighbors?" said she, sharply. 

Nobody arguing that point, both being in- 
deed too bewildered to argue at all, she con- 
tinued, majestically, 

" J assure you, sisters, there could not be a 
more unexceptionable offer. It is true, Mr. 
Aecott's origin was rather humble ; but I can 
overlook that. In his present wealth, and 
with his position and character, he will make 
the best of husbands." 

Not a word was answered ; what could be 
answered? Selina was free to marry if she 
liked, and whom she liked. Perhaps, from 
her nature, it was idle to expect her to marry 
in any other way than this; one of the thous- 
and and one unions where the man desires a 
handsome, lady-like wife for the head of his 
establishment, and the woman wishes an ele- 
gant establishment to be mistrees of; so they 
strike a bargain — possibly as good as most 
other bargain*. 

Still, with one faint lingering of hope, Hila- 
ry asked if she had quite decided. 

"Quite. He wrote to me last night, and I 
gave him his an- 

ina certainly had not troubled anybody 
with her "love affairs." It was entirely a 
matter of business. 

The sisters saw at once that she had made 
up her mind. Henceforward there could be 
no criticism of Mr. Peter Ascott. 

Now all was told, she talked freely of her 
excellent prospects. 

" He had behaved handeomely-r-very much 



so. He makes a good settlement on me, and 
says how happy he will be to help my family, 
so as to enable you always to make a respeet- 
able appearance." 

" We are exceedingly obliged to him." 

" Don't be sharp, Hilary. He means well. 
And he must feel that this marriage is a sort 
of — ahem ! condescension on my part, which 
1 never should have dreamed of twenty years 
ago." 

Selina sighed ; could it be at the thought of 
that twenty years ago? Perhaps, shallow as 
she seemed, this woman might once have had 
some fancy, some ideal man whom she ex- 
pected to meet and marry ; possibly a very 
different sort of man from Mr. Peter Ascott. 
However, the sigh was but momentary : she 
plunged back again into all the arrangements 
of her wedding, every one of which, down to 
the wedding-dress, she had evidently decided. 

" And therefore you see," she added, as if 
the unimportant, almost forgotten item of dis- 
cussion had suddenly occurred to her, " it's 
quite impossible that my sister should keep a 
shop. I shall tell Mr. Ascott, and you will 
see what he says to it." 

But when Mr. Ascott appeared next day in 
solemn state as an accepted lover he seemed 
to care very little about the matter. He thought 
it was a good thing for every body to be in- 
dependent; did not see why young women — 
he begged pardon, young ladies — should not 
earn their own bread if they liked. He only 
wished that the shop were a little further off 
jthan Kensington, and hoped the name of 
[Leaf would not be put over the door. 

But the bride-elect, indignant and annoyed. 
Jbegged her lover to interfere, and prevent the 
Ischeme from being carried out. 

"Don't vex yourself, my dear Selina," said 
He, dryly — how Hilary started to hear this 
s'ranger use the household name — "but I 
can't see that it's my business to interfere. I 
marry you , I don't marry your whole family." 

" Mr. Ascott is quite right ; we will end the 
subject,'* said Johanna,- with grave dignity: 
while Hilary sat with burning cheeks, think- 
ing that, miserable as the family hail been, it 
had never till now known real degradation. 

But her heart was very sore that day. In 
the morning had come the letter from India, 
never omitted, never delayed ; Robert Lyon 
was punctual as clock-work in every thing he 
did. It came, but this month it. was a abort 
I Bomewhat sad letter — hinting tog 

[.health, uncertain prospects: full of a bitter 
longing to come home, and a dread that it 
would be years before that longing was real 

ized. 

"My only consolation >."' he wrote, tor 
once betraying himself a little, " that however 
hard my life out, here may be, 1 bear it alone." 

But that consolation was not so easy to Hil- 
ary. That they two should be wasting their 



MISTRESS AND|MAID. 



5T 



youth apart, when just a little heap of yellow 
coins — of which men like Mr. Ascott had 
such profusion — would bring them together; 
and, let trials be many or poverty hard, give 
them the unutterable jo,' of being once more 
f:ice to face and heart to heart — oh, it was 
sore, sore ! 

5 et when she went np from the parlor, 
«rhere the newly-affianced couple sat together, 
•' making-believe " a passion that did not ex- 
ist, and acting out the sham courtship, proper 
for the gentleman to pay and the lady to re- 
ceive — when she shut her bedroom door, and 
there, sitting in the cold, read again and again 
Robert Lyon's letter to Johanna, so good, so 
honest; so sad, yet so bravely enduring — Hil- 
ary was comforted. She felt that true love, 
in its most unsatisfied longings, its most cruel 
delays, nay, even its sharpest agonies of hope- 
less separation, is sweeter ten thousand times 
than the most "respectable" of loveless mar- 
riages such as this. 

So, at the week's end, Hilary went patient- 
ly to her work at Kensington, and Selina began 
the preparations for her wedding. 



CHAPTER XV. 



In relating so much about her mistresses, I 
have lately seemed to overlook Elizabeth 
Hand. 

She was a person easy enough to be over- 
looked. She never jgit herself forward, not 
even now, when Miss Hilary's absence caused 
the weight of housekeeping and domestic man- 
agement to fall chiefly upon her. She went 
about her duties as soberly and silently as she 
had done in her girlhood ; even Miss Leaf 
could not draw her into much demonstrative 
ness : she was one of those people who never 
"come out" till they are strongly needed, 
and then — Imt it remained to be proved 
what this gtol would be. 

Years afterward Hilary remembered with 
what a curious reticence Elizabeth used to go 
about in those davs : how she remained as old- 
fashioned as ever ; acquired no London ways 
no fripperies of dress or flippancies of manner. 
Also, that she never complained of anything ; 
though the discomforts of her lodging-house 
life must have been great — greater than her 
mistresses had any idea of at the time. Slow- 
ly, out of her rough, unpliant girlhood, was 
forming that character of self-reliance and 
self-control, which, in all ranks, makes of some 
women the helpers rather than the helped, 
the laborers rather .than the pleasure-seekers; 
women whose constant lot it seems to be to 
walk on the shadowed side of life, to endure 
rather than to enjoy. 

Elizabeth had very little actual enjoyment. 
She made no acquaintances, and never aaked|to her enemies. 



for holidays. Indeed she did not seem to care 
for any. Her great treat was when, on a 
Sunday afternoon, Miss Hilary sometimes 
took her to Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's; 
when her pleasure and gratitude always struck 
her mistress — nay, even soothed her, and won 
her from her own many anxieties. It is such 
a blessing to be able to make any other human 
being, even for an hour or two, entirely happy. 

Except these bright Sundays, Elizabeth's 
whole time was spent in waiting uppn Miss 
Leaf, who had seemed to grow suddenly frail 
and old.- It might be that living without her 
child six day 1 -' out of the seven was a greater 
trial than had at first appeared to the elder 
sister, who until now had never parted with 
her since she was born ; or it was perhaps a 
more commonplace and yet natural cause, the 
living in London lodgings, without even a 
change of air from room to room ; and the 
want of little comforts and luxuries, which, 
with all Hilary's care, were as impossible as 
ever to their limited means. 

For Selina's engagement, which, as'a mat- 
ter of decorum, she had insisted should last 
six months, did not lewen expenses. Old 
gowns were shabby, and omnibuses impossible 
to the future Mrs. Ascott of Russell Square; 
and though, to do her justice, she spent as lit- 
tle as to her self- pleasing nature was possible, 
still she spent something. 

" It's the last ; I shall never cost you, any 
more," she would say, complacently ; and re- 
vert to that question of absorbing interest, her 
trousseau, an extremely handsome one, provid- 
ed liberally by Mr. Ascott. Sorely had this 
arrangement jarred upon the pride of the Leaf 
family; yet it was inevitable. But no per- 
sonal favors would the other two sisters have 
accepted from Mr. Ascott, even had he offered 
them — which he did not — save a dress each 
for th« marriage, and a card for the marriage 
breakfast, which, he also arranged, was to 
take place at a hotel. 

So, in spite of the expected wedding, there 
was little change in the dull life that went on 
at No. 15. Its only brightness was when 
Miss Hilary came home from Saturday to 
Monday. And in those brief glimpses, when, 
as was natural, she on her side, and they on 
theirs, put on their best face, so to speak, each 
trying to hide from the other any special care, 
it so fell out that Miss Hilary never discover- 
ed a thing which, week by week, Elizabeth 
resolved to speak to her about, and yet never 
could. For it was not her own affair ; it 
seemed like presumptuously meddling in the 
affairs of the family. Above all, iUinvolved 
the necessity of something which looked like 
tale-bearing and backbiting of a person she 
disliked, and there was in Elizabeth — servant 
as she was — an instinctive chivalrous honor 
which made her especially anxious to be just 



58 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



Enemy, however, is a large word to use ; 
and yet day by Jay her feelings grew more 
bitter toward the person concerned — namely. 
Mr. Aseott Leaf. It was not from any badness 
in him : he was the sort of young man always 
likely to be a favorite with what would be 
termed his " inferiors ;'' easy, good-tempered, 
and gentlemanly, giving a good deal of trou : 
ble certainly, but giving it so agreeably that 
few servants would have grumbled, and pay- 
ing for it — as he apparently thought every 
thing could be paid for — with a pleasant word 
and a handful of silver. 

But Elizabeth's distaste ibr him had deeper 
roots. The principal one was his exceeding 
indifference to his aunts' affairs, great and 
small, from thp marriage, wlii.ch he briefly 
designated as a ''jolly lark," to the Sharp 
economies which, even with the addition of, 
Miss Hilary's salary, were still requisite. — 
None of these latter did he ever seem to notice, 
except when they pressed upon himself; when 
he neither scolded nor. Argued, but simply 
went out and avoided them. 

He was now absent from home more than 
ever, and apparently tried as much as possible 
to keep the household in the dark as to his 
movements — leaving at uncertain times, never 
saying what hour he would be back, or if he 
said so, never keeping to his word. This was 
the more annoying as there were a number of 
people continually inquiring for him, hanging 
about the house, and waiting to see him " on 
Business;" and some of these occasionally 
commented on the young gentleman in such 
unflattering terms that Elizabeth was afraid 
they would reach the ear of Mrs. Jones, and 
henceforward tried always to attend to the 
door herself. 

But Mrs. Jones was a wide-awake woman. 
She had not let lodgings foi thirty yea 1 
nothing. Ere long she discovered, and took 
good care to inform Elizabeth of her discove- 
ry, that Mr. Aseott Leaf was what is euphuist- 
ically termed " in difficulties." 

And here one word, lest in telling this poor 
lad's story I may be supposed to tell it harsh- 
ly or uncharitably, as if there was no crime 
greater than that which a large portion of so- 
ciety seems to count as none; as if, at the 
merest mention of the ugly word debt, this 
rabid author flew out, and made all the ultra- 
virtuous persons whose history is here told, 
tly out, like turkeys, after a bit of red cloth, 
which is a veiy harmless scrap of red cloth 
alter all. 

Most true, some kind of J only 

compassion. The merchant suddenly tailing: 
the ten rlerly reared famil y who by some strange 
blunder or unkind kindness have been kept 
in ignorance of their real circumstances, and 
been spending pounds for which there was 
only pence to pay ; the individuals, men or 
ivomenj who, without any laxity of principle, 



are such utter children in practice, that they 
have to learn the value and use of money by 
hard experience, much as a child does, and are 
little better than children in all that concerns 
l. s. i>. to the end of their days. 

But these are debtors by accident, not error. 
The deliberate debtor, who orders what he 
knows he has no means of paying for: the 
pleasure-loving debtor, who can not renounce 
one single luxury for conscienee' sake : the 
well-meaning, lazy debtor, who might make 
"ends meet,'' but does not, simply because he 
will not take the trouble ; upon such as these 
it is right to have no mercy — they deserve 
none. 

To which of these classes young Aseott Leaf 
belonged bis story will show. I tell it, or 
rather let it tell itself, and point its own moral; 
it is the story of hundreds and thousands. 

That a young fellow should not enjoy his 
youth would be hard ; that it should not be 
pleasant to him to dress well, live well, and 
spend with open hand upon himself as wel! 
as others, no one will question. No one would 
ever wish it otherwise. Many a kindly spend- 
thrift of twenty-one makes a prudent paterfa- 
milias at forty, while a man who in his twen- 
ties showed a purposeless niggardliness, would 
: sixty grow into the most contemptible miser 
alive. There is something even in the thought- 
less liberality of youth to which one's heart 
warms, even while one's wisdom reproves. — 
But what struck Elizabeth was that Ascott's 
liberalities were always toward himself, and 
himself only. 

Sometimes when she took in a parcel of 
new clothes, while others yet unpaid for were 
tossing in wasteful disorder about his room, 
or when she cleaned indefinite pairs of hand- 
some boots, and washed dozens of the finest 
cambric pocket-handkerchiefs, her spirit grew 
hot within her to remember Miss Hilary's 
countless wants and contrivances in the matter 
of dress, and all the little domestic comforts 
which Miss Leaf's frail .health* required — 
things which never once seemed to cross the 
nephew's imagination. Of course not, it will 
be said : how could a young man be expected 
to trouble himself about these things? 

But they do though. Answer, many a wid- 
ow's son : many a heedful brother of orphan 
sisters; many a solitary clerk living and pay- 
in •: his way upon the merest pittance ; is it 
not better to think of others than one's self? 
Can a man, even a young man, find his high- 
est happiness in mere personal enjoyment? 

However, let me cease throwing these peb- 
bles of preaching under the wheels of my sto- 
rv : as it moves on it will preach enough for 
itself. 

Elizabeth's annoyances, suspicions, and con- 
science-pricks as to whether she ought or 
ought not to communicate both, came to an 
end at last. Gradually she made up her raiud 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



59 



that, even if it did look like tale-bearing, on 
the following Saturday night Miss Hilary 
must know all. 

It was an anxious week; for Miss Leaf had 
fallen ill. Not seriously: and she never Com- 
plained until her sister had left, when she re- 



his hat slouched, so as in some measure to 
act as a disguise, breathless and trembling — 
hardly any body would have recognized in 
this discretitable object that gentlemanly 
young man, Mr. Ascott Leaf. 

He staggered into his room and threw him- 



turned to her bed and did not again rise. She self across the bed. 



would not have Miss Milarv sent for, nor Miss 
Selina, who was away paying a ceremonious 
pre-nuptial visit to Mr. Ascott's partner's wife 
at Dulwich. 

" I don't want any thing that you can not do 
for me. You are becoming a. first-rate nurse, 
Elizabeth," she said, with that passive, peace- 
ful smile which almost frightened the girl ; it 
seemed as if she were slipping away from this 
worlu and all its cares into another existence. 



" Do you want any thing, Sir?" said Eliza- 
beth, from the door. 

" No — yes — stay a minute. Elizabeth, are 
you to be trusted ?" 

" I hope I am, Sir." 

" The bailiffs are after me. I've just dodg- 
ed them. If they know I'm here the game's 
all up — and it will kill my aunt." 

Shocked as she was, Elizabeth was glad to 
hear him sav that- slad to see the burst of 



Elizabeth felt that to tell her any thing about! real emotion with which lie*' flung himself 
her nephew's'affairs was perfectly impossible. |down on the pillow, muttering all sorts of 
How thankful she was that in the }tuet of thejhopeless self-accusations, 
sick-room her mistress was kept in ignorance! " Come, Sir, 'tis no use taking on so," said 
of the knocks and inquiries at the door, and she, much as she would have spoken to a 
especially of a certain ominous paper which child, for there was something childish rather 
had fallen into Mrs. Jones's hands, and in-ithan man-like in Ascott's distress. Neverthe- 
lormed her, as she took good care to inform 'less, she pitied him, with the unreasoning pity 
Elizabeth, that any day '■ the bailiffs" might a kind heart gives to hny creature, who, 
be after her young master. blameworthy or not, has fallen into trouble. 

"And the sooner the whole set of you clear 1 "What do you mean to do?" 
out of my house the better; I am a decent, "Nothing. I'm cleaned out. And I 
respectable woman," said Mrs. Jones, that haven't a friend in the world." 
very morning; and Elizabeth had had to beg He turned his face to the wall in 



her as a favor not to disturb her sick mistress, 
but to wait one day, till Miss Hilary* came 
home. , 

Also, when Ascott, ending with a cheerful 
and careless countenance his ten minutes' af- 
ter-breakfast chat in his aunt's room, bad met 
Elizabeth on the staircase, he had stopped to 
bid her say if any body wanted him he was 
gone to Birmingham, and would not be home 
till Monday. And on Elizabeth's hesitating, 
she having determined to tell no more of these 
involuntary lies, he had been very angry, and 
then stooped to entreaties, begging her to do 
as he asked, or it would be the ruin of him. 
Which she understood well enough when, all 
the day, she — grown painfully wise, poor girl! 

— watched a Jewish-looking man hanging at the least relief. "That will be capital 
about the house, and noticing every body that Gret me a good slice of beef, or ham, or some- 



perfect ~ 
despair. 

Elizabeth tried hard not to sit in judgment 
upon what the catechism would call her "bet- 
ters ;" and yet her own strong instinct of al- 
most indefinite endurance turned with some- 
thing approaching contempt from this weak, 
lightsome nature, broken by the first touch of 
calamity. \ 

" Come, it's no use making things worse 
than they are. If no body knows that you 
are here, lock your door and keep quiet. I'll 
bring you some dinnei when* I bring up Missis' 
tea, and not even Mrs. Jones will be any the 
wiser." 

" You're a brick, Elizabeth — a regular 
brick!" cried the young fellow, brightening up 



went in or out of it 

Now, sitting at Miss Leaf's window, she 
fancied she saw this man disappear into the 
gin-palace opposite, and at the same moment 
a figure darted hurriedly round the street cor- 
ner, and into the door of No. 15. 



thing. And mind you, don't forget !- 
lar stunning bottle of pale»ale." 
" Very well, Sir." 

The acquiescence was somewhat sullen, and 
had he watched Elizabeth's face he might 
have seen there an expression not too flatter- 
Elizabeth looked to see if her mistress were ing. But she faithfully brought him his din- 
asleep, and then crept quietly out of the room, ner, and kept his secret, even though, hearing 
shutting the door after her. Listening, she from over the staircase Mrs. Jones resolutely 
heard the sound of the latch-key, and of some deny that Mr. Leaf had been at home since 
one coming stealthily up stairs. j morning, she felt very much as if she were 

"Hollo! — Oh, it's only you, Elizabeth." conniving at a lie. With a painful, half- 
" Shall I light your candle, sir?" . guilty consciousness she waited for her mis- 

But when she did the sight was not pleasant. I tress's usutf^ue&tion, " Is my nephew come 
Drenched with rain, his collar pulled up, and, home?'' btrt fortunately it was not asked.— 



60 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



Miss Leaf lay quiet and passive, and her faith- 
ful nurse settled her for the night with a 
strangely solemn feeling, as if she were leaving 
her to her last rest, safe and at peace before 
the overhanging storm broke upon the family. 

But all shadow of this storm seemed to have 
passed away from him who was its cause. Asi 
soon as the house was still Ascott crept downi 
and fell to his supper with as good an appetite, 
as possible. He even became free and con- 
versational. 

" Don't look so glum, Elizabeth. I shall 
soon weather through. Old Ascott will fork 
out ; he couldn't help it. I'm to be his nephew 
you know. Oh, that was a clever catch of 
Aunt Selina's. If only Aunt Hilary would 
try another like it." 

" If you please, Sir, I'm going to bed." 

"Off with you, then, and I'll not forget the 
gown at Christmas. You're a sharp young 
woman, and I'm much obliged to you." And 
for a moment he looked as if he were about 
to make the usual unmannerly acknowledg- 
ment of civility from a yqung gentleman to a 
servant maid, viz., kissing her, but he pulled 
a face and drew back. He really couldn't ; 
she was so very plain. 

At this moment there came a violent ring, 
and " Fire !" was shouted through the key- 
hole of the door. Terrified, Elizabeth ooened 
it, when, with a burst of laughter, a man rush- 
ed in and laid hands upon Ascott. 

It was the sheriff's officer. 

When his trouble came upon him Ascott's 
manliness returned. He turned very white, 
but he made no opposition ; had even enough 
of his wits about him — or someting better 
than wits — to stop Mrs. Jones from rushing 
up in alarm and indignation to arouse Miss 
Leaf. 

" No ; she'll know it quite soou enough. — 
Let her sleep till morning. Elizabeth, look 
here." He wrote upon a card the address of 
the place he was to be taken to. " Give Aunt 
Hilary this. Say if she can think of a way 
to get me out of this horrid mess ; but I don't 
deserve — Never mind. Come on, you fel- 
lows." 

He pulled his hat over his eyes, jumped in- 
to the cab, and was gone. The whole thing 
had not occupied five minutes. 

Stupefied, Elizabeth stood aid considered 
what was best to be done. Miss Hilary must 
be told ; but how to get at her in the middle 
of the night, thereby leaving her mistress to 
the mercy of Mrs. Jones. It would never do. 
Suddenly she thought of Miss Balquidder. — 
She might send a message. No, not a mess- 
age — for the family misery and disgrace must 
not be betrayed to a stranger — but a letter to 
Kensington. 

"With an effort Elizabeth composed herself 
sufficiently to write one — her firet — to her 
dear Miss Hilary. 



" Honored Madam,— Mr. Leaf has got himself into trou- 
ble, and is taken away somewhere ; and I dare not tell 
missis : and I wish you was at home, as she is not well, but 
better than she has been, and she shall know nothing about 
it till you come. — Your obedient and affectionate servant, 

Elizabeth IIasd." 

Taking Ascott's latch-key she quitted the 
house and slipped out into the dark night, al- 
most losing her way among the gloomy 
squares, where she met not a creature except 
the solitary policeman, plashing steadily along 
the wet pavement. When he turned the 
glimmer of his bull's eye upon her she started 
like a guilty creature, till she. remembered 
that she really was doing nothing wrong, and 
so need not be afraid of any thing. This was 
her simple creed, which Miss Hilary had 
taught her, and it upheld her, even till she 
knocked at Miss Balquidder's door. 

There, poor girl, her heart sank, especially 
when Mias Balquidder, in an anomalous cos- 
tume and a severe voice, opened the door 
herself, and asked who was -there, disturbing 
a respectable family at this late hour? 

Elizabeth answered, what she had before 
determined to say, as sufficiently explaining 
her errand, and yet betraying nothing that her 
mistress might wish concealed. 

" Please, ma'am, I'm Miss Leaf's servant. 
My missis is ill, and I want a letter sent at 
once to Miss Hilary." 

"Oh! come in, then. Elizabeth, I think, 
your name is?" 

" Yes, ma'am." 

" What made you leave home at this hour 
of the night? Did your mistress send you?" 

" No." 

" Is she so very ill? It seems sudden. I 
saw Miss Hilary to-day, and she knew no- 
thing at all about it." 

Elizabeth shrank a .little before the keen 
eye that seemed to read her through. 

" There's more amiss *han you have told 
me, young woman. Is it because your mis- 
tress is in serious danger that you want to send 
for her sister?" 

"No." 

"/Whatis it then ? You had better tell me 
at once. I hate concealment." 

It was a trial ; but Elizabeth held her 
ground. 

" I beg your pardon, ma'am ; but I don't 
think missis would like any body to know, 
and therefore I'd rather not tell you." 

Now the honest Scotswoman, as she said, 
hated any thing underhand, but she respected 
the right of every human being to maintain 
silence if necessary. She looked sharply in 
Elizabeth's face, which apparently re-assured 
her, for she said, not unkindly, 

"Very well, child, keep your mistress's se- 
crets by all means. Only tell me what you 
want. Shall I take a cab and fetch Miss 
Hilary at once V 

Elizabeth thanked her, but said she thought 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



61 



that would not do ; it would be better just to 
send the note the first thing to-morrow morn- 
ing, and then Miss Hilary would come home 
'just as if nothing had happened, and Miss 
Leaf would not be frighted by her sudden ap 
'pearance. 

" You are a good, mindful girl," said Miss 
Balquidder. " How did you learn to be so 
sensible ?" 

At the kindly word and manner, Elizabeth, 
bewildered and exhausted with the excitement 
she had gone through, and agitated by the 
feeling of having, for the first time in her life, 
to act on her own responsibility, gave way a 
little. She did not exactly cry, but she was 
very near it. • 

Miss Balquidder called over the stair-head, 
in her quick, imperative voice — 

" David, is your wife away to her bed yet?" 

"No, ma'am." 

''Then tell her to fetch this young woman 
to the kitchen and give her some supper. And 
afterward, will- you see her safe home, poor 
lassie? She's awfully tired, you see." 

" Yes, ma'am." 

And following David's gray head, Elizabeth, 
for the first time since she came to London, 
took a comfortable meal in a comfortable 
kitchen, seasoned with such stories of Miss 
Balquidder's goodness and generosity, that 
when, an hour after, she went home and to 
sleep, it was with a quieter and more hopeful 
than she could have believed possible under 
the circumstances. I 



sore trouble, this bitter humiliation. There 
was no attempt at disguise or concealment 
between mistress and maid. 

"Mrs. Jones has told me every thing, Eliz- 
abeth. How is my sister? She does not 
know 1" ' 

"No; and I think she is a good deal better 
this morning. She has been very bad all week: 
only she would not let me send for you. She 
is really getting well now ; I'm sure of that!" 

"Thank God!" And then Miss Hilary 
began to weep. 

Elizabeth also was thankful, even for those 
tears, for she had been perplexed by the hard, 
dry-eyed look of misery, deeper than anything 
she could comprehend, or than the circum- 
stances seemed to warrant. 

It was deeper. The misery was not only 
Ascott's arrest ; many a lad has got into debt 
and got out again — the first taste of the law 
proving a warning to him for life ; but it was 
this ominous " beginning of the end." The 
fatal end — which seemed to overhang like a 
hereditary cloud, to taint as with hereditary 
disease, the Leaf family. 

Another bitterness (and who shall blame it, 
for when love is really love, have not the lov- 
ers a right to be one another's first thought?) 
— what would Robert Lvon say ? To his hon- 
est Scotch nature poverty was nothing ; honor 
every thing. She knew his horror of debt was 
even equal to her own. This, and her belief 
in h's freedom from all false pride, had sus- 
tained her against many doubts lest he might 
think the less of her because of her present 
position — might feel ashamed could he see her 
sitting at her ledger in that high desk, or even 
occasionally serving in the shop. 

Many a time things she would have passed 
over lightly on her own account she had felt 
on his; felt how they would annoy and vex 
him. The exquisitely natural thought which 
Tennyson has put into poetry — 

" If I am dear to some one else, 
Then I should be to myself more dear " — 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Next morning, while with that cheerful, 
unanxious countenance which those about an 
invalid must learn continually to wear, Eliza- 
beth was trying to persuade her mistress not 
to rise, she heard a knock, and made some 
excuse for escaping. She well knew what it 
was and who had come. 

There, in the parlor, sat Miss Hilary, Mrs. 
Jones talking at her rather than to her, for she 
hardly seemed to hear. But that she had 
heard every thing was clear enough. Her 
drawn white face, the tight clasp of her hands, 
showed that the ill tidings had struck her 
hard. 

"Go away, Mrs. Jones," cried Elizabeth, 
fiercely. " Miss Hilary will call when she 
wants you." 

And with an ingenious movement that just were the recommencement of that bitter life of 
fell short of a push, somehow the woman was J penury, misery, and humiliation, familiar 
got on the other side of the parlor door, which | through three generations to the women of the 
Elizabeth immediately shut. Then Miss, Leaf family. 

Hilary stretched her hands across the table! It appeared like a fate. No use to try and 
and looked uppiteously in her servant's face. I struggle out of it, stretching her arms up to 

Only a servant; only that poor servant toiRobert Lyon's tender, honest, steadfast heart, 
whom she could lo«k for any comfort in thislthere to be sheltered, taken care of, and made 



had often come, prosaically enough perhaps, 
into her head, and prevented her from spoiling 
her little hands with unnecessarily rough work, 
or carelessly passing down ill streets and by- 
ways, where she knew Robert Lyon, had he 
been in London, would never have allowed 
her to go. Now what did such things signify? 
What need of taking care of herself? These 
were all superficial, external disgraces, the 
real disgrace was within. The plague-spot 
had burst out anew ; it seemed as if this dav 



62 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



happy. No happiness for her! Nothing but to think how much it will cost us all, and es- 

to goon enduring and enduring to the end. pecially you, Johanna. Only think what 

Such was Hilary's first emotion; morbid comforts of all sorts that thirty pounds would 

perhaps, yet excusable. It might have lasted have brought to you »' 



longer — though in her healthy nature it could 
not have lasted very long — had not the reac- 
tion come, suddenly and completely, bv the 



God will provide, ".said Johanna, earn 

ly. " But I know, my dear, this is sharper to 

you than to me. Besides, I have been more 



opening of the parlor door, and the appearance used to it." 

of Miss Leaf. She closed her eyes, with a half shudder, as 

Miss Leaf— pale, indeed : but neitheralarm- if living over again theolddays —when Henrj 
ed nor agitated, who hearing somehow that Leaf's wife and eldest daughter used to have 
her child had arrived, had hastily dressed her- to give dinner parties upon food that stuck in 
self, and come down- stairs, in order not to their throats, as if every morsel had been sto- 
frighten Hilary. And as she look her .in her len ; which in truth it was, and yet they were 
arms, and kissed her with those mother-like helpless, innocent thieves; when they and the 
kisses, which were the sweetest Hilary had as children had to wear clothes that seemed to 
yet ever known— the sharp anguish went outjpoison them like the shirt of Dejanira; when 
of the poor girl's heart. they durst not walk along special streets, nor 

"Oh, Johanna! I can bear. any thing as pass particular shops, for the feeling that the 
long as I have you." shop people must be staring, and pointing, and 

And so in this simple and natural way the jibing at them, "Pay me what thou owest!" 
miserable secret about Ascott came out. "But things "can not again be so bad as 

Being once out, it did not seem half so those days, Hilary. 
dreadful; nor was its effect nearly so serious 1 mend. People 



as Miss Hilary and Elizabeth had feared. — 
Miss Leaf bore it wonderfully : she might al- 
most have known it beforehand : they would 
have thought she had. but that she said deci- 
dedly she had not 



Ascott is young : 
mend, my child : 



he maj 

and he 



had such a different bringing-up from what his 
father had, and his grandfather, too. We 
must not be hopeless yet. You see," and ma- 
king Hilary kneel down before her, she took 
her by both hands, as -if to impart something 



Still you need not have minded telling me: of her own quietness to this poor heart, strug- 
though it was very good and thoughtful of you, Igling as young, honest, upright hearts do 
Elizabeth. You have gone through a greaty struggle with something which their whole 



the 



Miss Hi'ary some breakfast." 
When Elizabeth baa departed 



nature remits against, and loathes, and scorns 

— " you^K,' the boy is our boy : our own flesh 

and blooK We were very foolish to let him 

from us for so long. We might have 

made him better if we had kept him at Stosv- 

"You shall tell me the bury. But he is young; that is my hope of 

Go down now, and get lam ; and he was always fond of his aunts. 



deal for our sakes, my poor girl." 

Elizabeth burst into one smothered sob 
first and the last. 

"Nay," said Miss Leaf, very kindly: 
for this unwonted emotion in their servant 
moved them both, 
rest another time. 



and is still, 1 think." 
the sisters 1 Hilary smiled sadly, 



" Deeds, not words. 



turned to one another. They did not talk I don't believe in words." 

much : where was the use of it? They both " Well, let us put aside believing, and only 

knew the worst, both as to facts and fears. act. Let us give him another chance." 

" What must be done, Johanna?" Hilary shook her head. "Another, and 

Johanna, after a long pause, said, "I see'another, and another— it will be always the 



but one thing — to get him home." 



same. 1 know it will. I can't tell how it is 



Hilary started*up, and walked to and fro a- Johanna: but whenever I look at you, I feel 
lone the room. so stern and hard to Ascott. It seems as if 

4 °No, not that. I will never agree to it. — , there were circumstances when pity to some, 
We can not help him. He does not deserve jto one, was wicked injustice toothers: as if 
helping. If the debts were for food now, orithere were times when it is right and needful 
any necessaries ; but for mere luxuries, mere; to lop off, at once and forever, a rotten branch 
fine clothes: it is his tailor who has arrested rather than let the whole tree go to rack and 
him, you know. I would rather have gone ruin. I would do it ! I should think myself 



in rags! I would rather see us all in rags ! — 
It's mean, selfish, cowardly, and I despise him 
for it. Though he is my own flesh and blood, 
1 despise him." 
' " Hilary !" 
"No," and the tears burst from her angry 
eyes, " I don't mean that I despise him. I'm 
sorry tor him : there is good in him, poor dear 
lad ; but I despise his weakness ; I feel fierce 



He is only a boy— our 



justified in doing it." 

" But not just yet. 
own boy." 

And the two women, in both of whom the 
maternal passion existed strong and deep, yet 
in the one never had found, and in the other 
never might find, its natural channel, wept 
togetherjover this lad, almost as mothers weep. 

" But what can we do V said Hilary at last. 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



63 



that the family might die out, and trouble] 



■■ Thirty pounds, and not a halfpenny to pay 
it with : must we borrow?" 

>h no — no," was the answer, with a 
shrinking gesture : " no borrowing. There is 
the diamond rin 

This was a sort of heir-loom from eldest 
daughter to eldest daughter ol" the Leaf family. 
which had been kept even as a sort of super- 
stition, through all temptations of poverty. — 
The last time Miss Leaf looked at it she had 
remarked, Jestingly, it should be given some 
day to that important personage talked of for 
many a year among the three aunts — Mrs. 
A so >tt Leaf. 

"Who must do without it now," said Jo- 
hanna, looking regretfully at the ring; ".that 
is, if he ever takes to himselfa wife, poor boy." 

Hilary answered, beneath her breath, "Un- 
less he alters, I earnestly hope he never may." 
And there came over her involuntarily a wild, 
despairing thought, Would it not be better that 
neither Ascott nor herself should ever be mar- 
ried 
the world no more? 

Nevertheless she rose up to do what she 
know had 10 be done, and what there was no- 
body to do but herself. 

" Don't mind it, Johanna ; for indeed I do 
not. I shall go to a first rate, respectable jew- 
eler, and he will not cheat me; and then I 
shall find my way to thesponging-house — isn't 
that what they call it ? I dare say many a 
poor woman has been there before me. I am 
not the first, and shall not be the last, and no- 
body will harm me. I think I look honest, 
though my name is Leaf." 

She laughed — a bitter laugh ; but Johanna 
silenced it in a close embrace ; and when Hil- 
ary rose up again she was quite her natural 
self. She summoned Elizabeth, and began 
giving her all domestic directions, just as usu- 
al ; finally, bade her sister good-by in a tone 
as like her usual tone as possible, and left her 
settled on the sofa in content and peace. 

Elizabeth followed to the door. Miss Hila- 
ry had asked her for the card on which Ascott 
had written the address of the place where he 
had been taken to; and though the girl said 
not a word, her anxious eyes made piteous in- 
quiry. 

Her mistress patted her on the shoulder. 

" Never mind about me ; I shall come to 
no harm, Elizabeth." 

" It's a bad place ; such a dreadful place, 
Mrs. Jones says." 

"Is it?" Elizabeth guessed part, not the 
whole of the feelings that, made Hilary Hesi- 
tate, shrink even, from the duty before her, 
turning first so hot, and then so pale. Only 
as a duty could she have done it at all. " No 
matter, 1 must go. Take care of my sister." 

She ran down the do. i and walked 

quickly through the Crescent. It was a clear, 

l liny, frosty day — such a day as always 



both cheered and calmed her. She had, des- 
pite all her cares, youth, health, energy; and 
a holy and consta'nt love lay like a sleeping 
angel in her heart. Must I tell the truth, and 
own that before she had gone two streets' 
Length Hilary ceased to feel so very, very mis- 
erable? 

Love — this kind of love of which I speak — 
is a wonderful thing, the most wonderful thing 
in all the world. The strength it gives, the 
brightness, the actual happiness^even in hardest 
times, is often quite miraculous. When Hil- 
ary sat waiting in the jeweler's shop, she 
watched a little episode of high life — two 
wealthy people choosing their marriage plate; 
the bride, so careless and haughty ; the bride- 
groom, so unutterably mean to look at, stamp- 
ed with that innate smallness and coarseness 
of soul which his fine clothes only made more 
apparent. And she thought — oh, how fondly 
she thought! — of that honest, manly mein ; 
of that true, untaiuted heart, which she felt 
sure, had never lovad any woman but herself; 
of the warm, firm hand, carving its way thro' 
the world for her sake, and waiting patiently 
till it could openly clasp hers, and give her 
every thing it had won. She would not have 
exchanged him, Eobert Lyon, with his penni- 
less love, his half-hopeless fortunes, or maybe 
his lot of never-ending care, for the " brawest 
bridegroom" under the sun. 

Under this sun — thecommou, everyday win- 
ter sun of Regent and Oxford streeta — she 
walked now as brightly and bravely as if there 
were no trouble before her, no painful meet- 
ing with Ascott, no horrid humiliation from 
which every womanly feeling in her nature 
shrunk with acute pain. " Robert, my Rob- 
ert!" she whispered in her heart, and felt him 
so near to her that she was at rest, she hardly 
knew why. 

Possibly grand, or cleyer, or happy people 
who condescend to read this story may des- 
pise it, think it un ideal, uninteresting; treat- 
ingof small things and common people — "poor 
persons," in short. I can not help it. I 
write for the poor; not to excite the compas- 
sion of the rich toward them, but to show them 
their own dignity and the bright sule of their 
poverty. For it has its bright side; and its 
very darkest, when no sin is mixed up there- 
with, is brighter than many an outwardly 
prosperous life. 

"Better is a dinney of herbs, where love is, 
//, ^ ox and haired therewith. 

" Better is a </iy morsel, and quietness there- 
with, than a house full of sacrifices and strife." 

With these two sage proverbs — which all 
acknowledge and scarcely any really believe, 
or surely they would act a little moreas if they 
did — I leave .Johanna Leaf sitting silently in 
her solitary parlor, knitting stockings for her 
child: weaving many a mingled web of thought 
withal, yet never letting a stitch go down; and 



64 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



Hilary Leaf walking cheerily and fearlessly upj amount, and looking steadily into Ascott's 
one strange street and down another to find eyes^ 

out cbe " bad" place, where she once had no He flushed up, and asked what she meant 
idea it would ever have been her lot to go. — by doubting his word ? 

One thing she knew, and gloried in the know-' " Not that, but you might easily have made 
ledge, that if Robert Lyon had known she was a mistake : you are so careless about money 
going, or known half the cares she had toj matters." 

meet, he would have recrossed the Indian seas' " Ah, that's it. I'm just careless, and so I 
— havs risked fortune, competence, hope of the come to grief. But I never mean to be care- 
future, which was the only cheer of his hard|less any more. I'll be as precise as you. I'll 
p re s eQ t_in order to save her from them all. (balance my books every week— every day if 
The minute history of this painfil day I do you like— exactly as you do >at that horrid 
not mean to tell. Hilary never told 'it till, shop, Aunt Hilary." 

years after, she wept it out upon a bosom that So he was rattling on, but Hilary stopped 
could understand the whole, and would take him by pointing to the figures, 
•rood care that while the. life beat in his she " You see, this sum is more than we expect- 



never should go through the like again. 

Ascott came home— that is, was brought 
home — very humbled, contrite, and grateful. 
There was no one to meet him but his Aunt 
Johanna, and she just kissed him quietly, and 
bade him come over to the fire ; he was shiv- 
ering, and somewhat pale. He had even two 



ed. How is it to be met ? Think for your- 
self. You are a man now." 

" I know that," said Ascott, sullenly; "but 
what's the use of it? — money only makes the 
man, and I have none. If the ancient Peter 
would but die now and leave me his heir, 
though to be sure Aunt Selina might be put- 



tears in his handsome eyes, the first Ascott: ting her oar in. Perhaps— considering I'm 



had been known to shed since he was a boy. 
That he felt a good deal, perhaps as much as 
was in his nature to feel, there could be^ no 
doubt. So his two aunts were glad and com- 
forted ; gave him his tea and the wannest seat 
at the hearth ; said not a harsh word to him, 
but talked to him about indifferent things. — 
Tea being over, Hilaiy was auxious to get ev- 
ery thing painful ended before Selina came 
home— Selina, who, they felt by instinct, had 
now a separate interest from themselves, and 
had better not be told Dfcis sad story if possible; 
so she asked her nephew ''if he remembered 
what they had to do this evening ?" 

"Had to do? Oh, Aunt Hilary, I'm so 
tired! can't you let me be quiet? Only this 
one night. I promhe to bring you everything 
on Monday." 

•' Monday will be too late. I shall be away. 
And you know vou can't do without my ex-' at any thing and every thing, stint himself of 



Aunt Selina's nephew — if I were to walk into 
the old chap now he might be induced to fork 
out ! Hurrah ! that's a splendid idea." 

" What idea?" 

" I'll borrow the money from old Ascott." 

" That means, because he has already given, 
you would have him keep on giving — and you 
would take and take and take — Ascott, I'm 
ashamed of you." 

But Ascott only burst out laughing. ''Non- 
sence ! — he has money and I have none; why 
shouldn't he give it me ?" 

" Why ?" — she repeated, her eyes flashing 
and her little feminine figure seeming to grow 
taller as she spoke— "I'll tell pou, since you 
don't seem yourself to understand it. Because 
a young man, with health and strength in 
him, should blush to eat any bread but what 
he himself earns. Because he should work 



cellent arithmetic," she added with a faint 
smile. " Now, Ascott, be a good boy— fetch 
down all those bills and let us go over them 
together." t 

" His debts came to more than the thirty 
pounds then?" said his Aunt Johanna, whgn 
lie was gone. 

" Yes. But the ring sold for fifty." And 
Hilary drew to the table, got writing materials, 
and sat waiting, with n ddlr, silent patience in 
her look, at which Johann$ sighed and 
no more. 

The aunt and 
'joins; over that 



nephew 
handful 



spent some tune in 
of papers, and ap- 



every luxury and pleasure, rather than ask or 
borrow^ or, except under rare circumstances, 
rather than be indebted to any living soul for 
a single half-penny. I would not, if 1 were a 
young man." 

" What a nice young 'man vou would make, 
Aunt Hilary. !" ' 

There was something in the lad's impertur- 
bable, gdod humor at once irritating and dis- 
arming. Whatever his faults, the' were inore 
fcive than positive; there was no mal\ce 
prepense about him, no absolute personal 
wickedness. And he had the strange charm 
of manner and speech which keeps up one's 



proxTmating to the sum total, in that kind ofjouter surface of habitual affection toward a 



awful arithmetic when figures cease to be mere 
figures, but grow intoavenging monsters, bear- 
ing with them life or death. 

; Is that all ! You are quite sure it is all?" 



person long after all its foundations of trust 
and respect have hopelessly crumbled away. 
'■ Come now, my pretty aunt must go with 
me. She will manage the old ogre much better 



said Hilary at last, pointing to the whole than I. And he must be managed somehow, 



MISTRESS* AND MAID. 



65 



It's all very line talking of independence, but 
if n't it hard that a poor fellow should be living 
in constant dread of being carried oft' to that 
horrid, uncleanlj, beastly den — bah ! I don't 
like thinking of it — and all for the want of 
twenty pounds T You muse go to him, Aunt 
Hilary." 

She saw they must — there was no help for 
it. Even Johanna said so. It was after all 
ouly asking for Ascott's quarterly allowance 
three days in advance, for it was due on Tues- 
day. But what jarred against hei proud, hon- 
est spirit waa the implication that such a 
request gave of taking as a right that which 
had been sa long bestowed as a favor. Nothing 
but the great strait they were in could ever 
have driven her to consent that Mr. Ascott 
should be applied to at all ; but since it must 
be done, she felt that she had better do it her- 
self. Was it from some lurking doubt or dread 



crim8on-atmosphered apartment. She as well 
as her neighbors liked pretty things about her, 
soft, harmonious colors to look at and wear, 
well-cooked food to eat, cheerful rooms to live 
in. It she could have had all these luxuries 
with those she loved to share them, no doubt 
she would have been much happier. But yet 
6he felt to the full that solemn truth that "a 
man's life consisteth not in the abundance of 
things that he possesses ;" and though hers 
was outwardly so dark, so full of poverty, 
anxiety, and pain, still she knew that inwardly 
it owned many things, one thing especially, 
which no money could buy, and without which 
fine houses, fine furniture, and fine clothes — 
indeed, all the comforts and splendors of ex- 
istence, would be worse that valueless, actual 
torment. So as she looked around her she 
felt not the slightest envy of her sister Selina. 
Nor of honest Peter, who rose up from his 



that Ascott might not speak the entire truth, !arm-chair, pulling the yellow ailk handker- 
as she had insisted upon its being spoken, be-;chief from his sleepy face, and, it must be con- 
fore Mr. Ascott was asked for any thing ?;fe6sed, receiving his future connections very 
since whatever he gave must be given with a| willingly, and even kindly, 
full knowledge on his part of the whole pitiablej Now how was he to be told? How when 
state of affairs. ;she and Ascott sat over the wine and desert 



It was with a strange, sad feeling — the sad- 
der because he never seemed to suspect it, but 
talked and laughed with her as usual — that 
she took her nephew's arm and walked silently 



he had ordered for them, listening to the rich 
man's complaisant pomposities, were they to 
explain that they had come a begging, asking 
him, as the climax to his liberalities, to ad- 



CHAPTER XVII. 



through the dark squares, perfectly well awarelvance a few pounds in order to keep the young 
that he only asked her to go with him in order man whom he had for years generously and 
to do an unpleasant thing which he did not .'Sufficiently maintained out of prison? This, 
like to do himself, and that she only went witlvsmooth it over as one might, was, Hilary felt, 
hits in the character of watch, or supervisor,jthe plain English of the matter, and as minute 
to try and save him from doing something'after minute lengthened, and nothing was said 
which she herself would be ashamed should of their errand, she sat upon thorns. 
be done. But Ascott drank his wine and ate his wal- 

Yethe was ostensibly the head, hope, and nuts quite composedly, 
stay of the family. Alas! many a family has| At last Hilary said, in a sort of desperation, 
to submit to, and »mile under an equally mel-i" Mr. Ascott, I want to speak to you." 
ancholy and fatal sham. "With pleasure, my dear young lady. Will 

you come to my study? — I have a most ele- 
gantly furnished study, I assure you. And 
| any affair of yours — " 

I " Thank you, but it is not mine ; itconcerns 
• my nephew here." 

Mr. Ascott was sitting half asleep in his And then she braced up all her couiage.and 
solitary dining room, hie face rosy with wine, while Ascott busied himself over his walnute 
his heart warmed also, probably from the same! — he had the grace to look excessively uncom- 
cause. Not that he was in the least " tipsy "fortable— she told, as briefly as possible, the 
— that low word applicable only to low people, bitter truth. 

and not men of property, who have a right to Mr. Ascott listened, apparently without sur- 

enjoy all the good thinjjp of this life. He was prise, and anr how. without comment. His 

scarcely even "merry," merely " comforta- sell-important loquacity ceased, and his con- 

ble," in that cezy, benevolent state which 'descending siniie passed into a sharp, reticent, 

middle aged or elderly genMemen are apt to fall j business look. He knitted his shaggy brows, 

.into after a good dinner and good wine, when j contracted that coar3ely-hung, but "resolute 

J they have no mental resources, and the said mouth, in which lay the secret of his success 

good dinner and good wine constitutes their in life, buttoned up his coat, and stuck his 

best notion of felicity. j hands behind him over his coat-tails. As he 

Yet wealth and comfort are not things to |>tood there on his own hearth, with all his 

be despised. Hilary herself was not insensiblejcomfortable splendors about him— a man who 

to the pleasantness of this warm, well-lit, I had made his own money, hardly and honest- 



66 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



ly, who l'rom the daya when he was a poor it from his footman's hands, it way one of iru- 
errand-lad had had no one to trust to but him- portance. He made some sort of rough apol- 
self, yet had managed always to help himself, ogy, drew the writing materials to him, wrote 
ay, and others too — Hilary's steni sense of one or two business-looking letters, and made 
justice contrasted hiin \vith the graceful young out one or two more checks, 
man who sat opposite to him, so much his " Here's your's Ascott: take it, and let me 
inferior, and so much his debtor. She owned have done with it," said he, throwing it across 
that Peter Ascott had a right to look both con- the table folded up. "Can't waste time on 
temptuously and displeased. Bucb. small transactions. Ma'am, excuse me, 

"A very pretty story, but I almostexpected'but five thousand pounds depends on my get- 
it," said he. ting these letters written and sent off within a 

And there he stopped. In his business ca- quarter of an hour." 
pacity he was too acute a man to be a man of Hilary bent her bead, and sat watching the 
many words, and his feelings, if they existed, pen scratch, and the clock tick on the mantle- 
were kept to himself. piece ; thinking if this really was to be the last 

"It all comes to this, young man," he con- of his godfather's allowance? what on earth 
tinued, after an uncomfortable pause, in which would become of Ascott? For Ascott himself, 
Hilary could have counted every beat of her he said not a word. Xot even when, the let- 
heart, and even Ascott played with his -wine ter$ dispatched. Mr. Ascott rose, and admin- 
glass in a nervous kind of way — "you want istering a short, sharp homily, tacitly dismiss- 
money, and. you think I'm sure to give it, be- ed his visitors. Whether this silence was 
cause it wouldn't be pleasant just now to have sullenness, cowardice, or shame, Hilary could 
discreditable stories going about concerning not guess. 

the future Mrs. Ascott's relatives. You're She quitted thB house with a sense of grind- 
quite right, it wouldn't. But I'm too old a ing humiliation almost intolerable. But still 
bird to be caught with chaff for all that. You the worst was over: the money had been 
must rise very early in the morning to take; begged and given — there was no fear of a 
me in." prison. And spite of every thing, Hilary felt 

Hilary started up in an agony of shame, a certain relief that this was the last time 
" That's not fair, Mr. Ascott. We do not takej Ascott would be indebted to his godfather, 
you in. Have we not told you the whole! Perhaps this total cessation of extraneous help 
truth? I was determined you should knowit, might force the young man upon his own rc- 
before we asked you for one farthing of your |.sourees, compel his easy temperament into 
money. If there were the smallest shadow of active energy, and bring out in him those dor- 



a chance for Ascott imany other way, we 
never would have come to you at all. It is a 
horrible, horrible humiliation !" 

It mijrht be that Peter Ascott had a soft 



mant qualities that his aunts still fondly hoped 

existed in him. 

" Don't be down-hearted, Ascott," she said; 

'■ we will manage to get on somehow till you 
place inliis heart, or that this time, just be-jhear of a practice, and then you must work — 
tore his marriage, was the one crisis which work like a 'brick,' as you call it. You will, 
sometimes occurs in a hard man's life, when, I know." 
if the right touch comes, he becomes malleable He answered nothing. 



ever after; out he looked kindly at ihe poor 
girl, and said, in quite a gentle way, 

" Don't vex yourself, my dear. I shall give 



I won't let you give in, my boy," she 
went on, kindly. {'Who would ever dream 
of- giving in at your age, with health and 



the joung fellow what he wants: nobody everjstrength, a good education, and no incum- 
called Peter Ascott stingy. But he has co&t prances whatever — not even aanW! for we 
me enough already ; he must shift for himself, will nut stand in your way,, be sure of that. 
now. Hand me over that check-book, Ascott- I fyou can not settle here, you shall try to get 
but remember this is the last you'll eve* see out abroad, as you have sometimes wished, as 
of my money." .'in army surgeon or a ship's doctor; you say 

lie wrote the memorandum of the check these appointments are easy euough tobehad. 
le the page, then tore off the check itself,! Why not try? Any thing; we will consent, 
and proceeded to write the words ''Twenty to any tiling, if only we can see your life busy ' 
pounds," date it, and sign it. Gii Inland happy." 

the signal il he had he talked, feeling far more tenderly! 

ibe honesi name "Peter Ascott," and was to him in his forlorn lency than when 

wellawareof its monetary value on '< ' bey had i the house two hours before! 

I elsewhere. Jpott took not the slightest notice. Aj 

"There, Miss Halary, I flatter myself that's strange lit of sullenness or depression seemed 
not a bad signature, nor would bf ,-:iy forg- to have come over Mm, which, when they, 
ed. Onecannotbetoocareful over— What'.: reached home and met Aunt Johanna's silent-3 
that? a letter, John?" h -questioning face, changed into devil-may. 

\iy his extreme eagernees, almost snatching, care indifference, 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



67 



" Oh yes, aunt, we've done it ; we've got 
the money, and now I may go to the dogs as 
soon as I lik 

"No," said Aunt Hilary, "it ia nothing of 
the port : it is only that Ascotl muel now de- 
pend upon himself, and not upon his godfather. 
Take courage,* 1 she added, and went up to 
him and kissed him on the forehead ; -'we'll 
never let our boy L r " to the :;d. as for 

this disappointment, or any disappointment, 
why it's just like a cold bath, it takes 
your breath for the time, and then you ri 
out of it brisker and fresher than ever." 

But Ascott shook his head with a fierce de- 
nial. " Why should that old fellow be as rich 
as i Sroesua and 1 as poor as a rat ? Why should 
I be put into the world to enjoy myself) and 
can't? Why was I made like what I am, 
and then punished for it? Whose fault is 
it ?" 

Ay, iohoteP The eternal, unsolvable prob- 
lem rose up before Hilary's imagination. The 
ghastly spectre of that everlasting doubt, which 
haunts even the firmest faith sometimes — and 
which all the nonsense written about that 
mystery which, 

'•'liinding unture fate to fate, 
Leaves free the human will," 

only makesdarker than before — oppressed her 
for the time being with an inexpressible dread. 

Ay, why was it that the boy was what he 
was? From his inherited nature, his temper- 
ament, or his circumstances '.' What, or more 
awful question still, ivko was to blame? 

But as Hilary's thoughts went deeper down 
the question answered itself — at least as far 
as it ever can be answered in this narrow, fi- 
nite stage of being. Whose will— we dare not 
say whose blame — is it that evil must it; 
bly generate evil? that the smallest wrong- 
doing in any human being rouses a chain of 
results which may fatally involve other human 
beings in an almost incalculable circle ofj 
misery? The wages of sin is death. Were 
it not so sin would cease to be sin. and holiness, 1 
holiness. If He. the All-holy, who for some' 
inscrutable purpose saw" tit to allow the exist- 
ence of evil, allowed any other law than this, 
in either the spiritual or material world, would I 
He no/ be denying l\ imself, counteracting the 
necessities of His own righteous essence, to 
which evil is so antagonistic, that we can not' 
doubt it must be in the end cast into total an- 
nihilation — into the allegorical lake of are and 
brimstone, which i- the "second death?" 
Xay, do they not in reality deny ITim and His' 
holiness almost as' much as Atheists do, who 
preach that the one great salvation which He 
ha' sent into the world is a salvation 
punishment — a keeping out ot hell and getting' 
into heaven — instead of a salvation 
from the power and love of sin, through the 
love of God in Christ? 

I tell these thoughts, because like lightning! 



they passed through Hilary's mind, as some- 
times a whole chain of thoughts do, link after 
link, and because they helped her to answer 
her nephew quietly and briefly, for she saw 
in no state of mind to be argued with. 

•• 1 can not explain, Ascott, why it is that 
f us are what we are, and why things 
■n to Us as they do ; it is a question we 
none of us understand, and in this world never 
shall. But if we know what we ought to be, 
and how we may make the best of every thing, 
good or bad, that happens to us, surely that 
is enough without perplexing ourselves about 
anv thins; more." 

Ascott smiled, half contemptuously, half 
carelessly, he was not a young fellow likely 
to perplex himself long or deeply about these 
sort of things. 

" Any how, I've got £20 in my pocket, so 
I can't starve for a day or two. Let's- see: 
where is it to be cashed? Hillo! who would 
have thought the old fellow would have been 
so stupid? Look there, Aunt Hilary!" 

She was so unfamiliar with checks for £20, 
poor little woman ! that she did not at first 
recognize the omission of the figures ".£20" 
at the left-hand corner. Otherwise the check- 
was correct. . 

" Ho, ho ¥f laughed Ascott, exceedingly 
amused, so easily was the current of his mind 
changed. "It must have been the £5000 
pending that muddled the 'cute old fellow's 
brains. I wonder whether he will lemember 
it afterward, and come posting up to see that 
I've taken no ill-advantage of hi3 blunder: 
changed .this 'Twenty' into 'Seventy.' I 
easily could, and put the figures £10 here. 
What a good joke !" 

" Had ye" not better go to him at once, and 
ha^e the matter put right 1" 

" Bubbish ! 1 can put it right myself. It 
makes no difference who fills up a check, so 
that it i3 signed all correct. A deal you wo- 
men know of business !" 

But still Hilary, with a certain womanish 
uneasiuess about money matters, and an anx- 
iety to have the thing settled beyond doubt, 
urged him to go. 

" Very well ; just as you like. I do believe 
you are afraid of my'turning forger." 

He buttoned his coat with a half sulky, half 
defiant air, left his supper untasted, and dis- 
appeared. 

It was midnight before he returned. His 
aunts were still sitting up, imagining all sorts 
of horrors, in an anxiety too great for words ; 
but when Hilary ran to the door, with the 
natural "Oh, Ascott, where have vou been?" 
he pushed her aside with a gesture that was 
almost fierce in its repulsion. 

"Where have I been? taking a walk round 
the Park ; that's all. Can't I come and go 
as I like, without being pestered by women ? 
I'm horribly tired. Let me alone — do I" 



68 



MISTRESS AND MAID'. 



They did let him alone. Deeply wounded, ;tutes real dignity or authority, She had, is 
Aunt Johanna took no further notice of him point of fact, no authority ovsr him ; a# one 
than to set his chair a little closer to the fire, lean have, not even parents, over a young man 
and Aunt Hilary slipped down stairs for more of his age, except that personal influence 
coals. There 6he found Elizabeth, who they which is the strongest sway of all. 
thought had long since gone to bed, sitting on She said only, with a quietness that sur- 
the stairs, very sleepy, but watching still. prised herself—" You mistake, Ascott ; I have 

"Is he come in?" she aeked ; " because , no wish to interfere with you whatever; you 
there are more bailiffs after him. I'm sure of are your own master, and must take your own 
it; I saw them." (course. I only expect from you the ordinary 

This, then, might account for his keeping respect that a gentleman shows t© a lady, 
out of the way till after twelve o'clock, and You must be very tired and ill, or you would 
also for his wild, haggard look. Hilary jut I not have forgotten that." 
aside her vague dread of some new misfortune;} " I didn't ; or, if I did, I beg your pardon," 
assured Elizadeth that all was right : he had said he, half subdued. " When are you going 



got wherewithal to pay every body on Monday 
morning, and would be safe till then. All 
debtors were safe on Sunday. 

"Go to bed now — there's a good girl ; it is 
hard that you should be troubled with our 
troubles." 



to bed?" 

" Directly. Shall I lightyour candle also?" 
"Oh no; not for the world ; I couldn't deep 

a wink. I'd go mad if I went to bed. I think 

I'll turn out and hare a cigar." 
His whole manner was so strange that his 



Elizabeth looked up with those fond gray Aunt Johanna, who had sat aloof, Urribly 
eyes of hers. She was but a servant, and yet grieved, but afraid to interfere, was moved to 
looks like these engraved themselves inefface- rise up and go over to him. 



ably on her mistress's heart, imparting the 



" Ascott, my dear, you are looking quite ill. 



comfort that all pure love gives from any onelBe advised by your old auntie. Go to bed at 
human being to another. Jonce, and forget every thing till morning." 

And love has its wonderful rights and re-j "I wish I cauld; I wish I could. Oh, 
wards. Perhaps Elizabeth, who.thought her-Auntie, Auntie!" 

self nothing at all to her mistress, would havet He caught hold of her hand, which she had 
marveled to know how much closer her mis-|laid upon hit head, looked up a rninuta- into 
tress felt to this poor, honest, loving girl, whose 1 her kind, fond face, and burst into a flood of 
truth she believed in, and on whose faithful-j boyish tears. 

ness she implicitly depended, than toward heri Evidently his trouble* had been too much 
own flesh and blood, who sat there moodily j for him; he wa9 in a state of great excitement, 
over the hearth; deeply pitied, seduously For some minutes hia aobs were almost hy»- 
cared for, but as for being confided in. relied terical : then by a struggle he recovered him- 
on, in great matters or small, his own con- self, seemed exceedingly annoyed and ashamed, 
cerns or theirs — the thing was impossible. took up his candle, bade them ahurried good- 

They could not even ask him — they dared night, and went to bed. 
not, in such a strange mood was he — thesim-' That is, he went to his room; but they 
pie question, Had he seen Mr. Ascott, andheard him moving about overhead for a long 
had Mr. Ascott been annoyed aboutthe check?iwhile after; nor w«r& they surprised that he 
It would not have been referred to at all hadjrefused to rise next morning, but lay most of 
not Hilary, in holding his coat to dry, taken the time with his door locked, until late in 
his pocket book outof the breast pocket, when'the afternoon, when he went out for a long 
he snatched at ic angrily. walk, and did not return till supper, which he 

"What are you meddling with my things ate almost in 6ilence. Then, after going up to 
for? Do you want to get at the check, andjhis room, and coming down again, complaia- 
be peering at it to see if it's all right? But ing bitterly how very cold it was, he C,rept in 
you can't ; I've paid it away. Perhaps you'd | to the fireside with a book-in his hann, of 
like to know who to? Then you shan't. I'll j which Hilary noticed he scarcely read a line, 
not be accountable to you for all my proceed- His aunts said nothing to him ; they had 
ings. I'll not be treated like a baby. You'd determined not ; they felt that further 'inter- 
better mind what you are about, Aunt Hilary." ference would be not only useless but dangerous. 

Never, in all his childish naughtiness, or "He will come to himself by-and-by ; his 



boyish impertinence, had Ascott spoken to 
her in such a tone. She regarded him at first 
with simple astonishment, then hot indigna- 
tion, which spurred her on to stand up for her 
dignity, and not submit to be insulted by her 
own nephew. But then came back upon her 



moods, goodor bad, never last long, youknow," 
said Hilary, somewhat bitterly. " But, in the 
mean time, I think we had better just do as 
he says — let him alone." 

And in that sad, hopelese state they paeeed 
the laet hours of that dreary Sunday— afraid 



her own doctrine, taught by her own experi-| either to comfort him or reason wtthhina; 
ence, that character and conduct alone eonsti- afraid, above aJL, ta blantbiat lart it-might 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



itiv* him altogether Astray. That he was in 
a atate of great 'raieery, hall sullen, half defi- 
ant, they saw, and were scarcely surprised at 
it ; it waB very hard not to be able to open 
their loving hearts to him, as those of one 
family should always do, making every trouble 
a common care, and every joy a universal 
blessing. But in his present state of mind — 
the sudden obstinacy of a weak nature con- 
scious of its weakness, and dreading control — 
it seemed impossible either to break upon his 
silence or to force his confidence. 

They might have been right in this, or 
wrong; afterward Hilary thought the latter. 
Many a time she wished and wished, with a 
bitter regret, that instead of the quiet " Good 
night, Ascott !" and the one rather cold kiss 
on his forehead, she had flung her arms round 
his neck, and insisted on his telling out his 
whole mind to her, his nearest kinswoman, 
who had been half aunt and half sister to him 
all his life. But it was not done : she parted 
from him, as she did Sunday after Sunday, 
with a sore sick feeling of how much he might 
be to her, to them all, and how little he really 
was. 

If this silence of hers was a mistake — one 
of those mistakes which sensitive people 
sometimes make — it was, like all similar er- 
rors, only too sorrowfully remembered and 
atoned for. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

Thk week passed by, and Hilary received 
no ill tidings from home. Incessant occupa- 
tion kept her from dwelling too much on anx- 
ious subjects : besides, she would not have 
thought it exactly right, while her time and 
her mental powers were for so many hours 
per diem legally Miss Balquidder's, to waste 
the one and weaken the other by what is 
commonly called "fretting." Noncarrying 
this conscientious duty to a higher degree, 
and toward a higher Master, would she have 
dared to sit grieving overmuch over their dark 
future. And yet it was very dark. She pon- 
dered over what was to be done with Ascott, 
or whether he was still to be left to the hope- 
less hope of doing something for himself: how 
long the little establishment at No. 15 eould 
he kept together, or if, after Selina's marriage, 
it would not be advisable to make some change 
that should contract expenses, and prevent 
this hard separation, from Monday to Satur- 
day, between Johanna and herself. 

These, with equally anxious thoughts, at- 
tacked her in crowds every day and every 
hour; but she had generally sufficient will to 
put them aside : at least till after work was 
done, and they could neither stupefy nor par- 
alyse bar. T-reubla- had to her been long 



enough familiar to have taught her its own 
best lesson — that the mind can, in degree, rule 
itself, even as it rules the body. 

Thus, in her business duties, which were 
principally keeping accounts; in her manage- 
ment of the two young people under her, and 
of the small domestic establishment connected 
with the shop, Hilary went steadily on, day 
after day ; made no blunders in her arithme- 
tic, no mistakes in her housekeeping. Being 
new to all her responsibilities, she had to give 
her whole mind to them ; and she did it : and 
it was a blessing to her — the sanctified bless- 
ing which rests upon labor, almost seeming to 
neutralize its primeval curse. 

But night after night, when work wag over, 
she sat alone at her 6ewing —the only time she 
had for it— and her thoughts went faster than 
her needle. .She turned over plan after plan. 
and went back upon hope after hope, that had 
risen and broken like waves of the sea — no- 
thing happening that she had expected; the 
only thing which had happened, or which 
seemed to have any permanence or reality, 
being two things which she had never expect- 
ed at all — Selina's marriage, and her own 
engagement with Miss Balquidder. It often 
happens so, in most people's lives, until at 
last they learn to live on from day to day, do- 
ing each day's duty within the day, and be- 
lieving that it is a righteous as well as a tender 
hand which keeps the next day's page safely 
folded down. 

So Hilary sat, glad to have a quiet hour, 
not to grieve in, but to lay out the details of a 
plan which had been maturing in her mind 
all week, and which she meant definitely to 
propose to Johanna when she went home next 
day. It would cost her something to do so, 
and she had had some hesitations ae to the 
scheme itself, until at last she threw them all 
to the winds, as an honest-hearted, faithful 
and faithfully-trusting woman would. Her 
plan was, that they should write to the only 
real friend the family had — the only good man 
she believed in — stating plainly their troubles 
and difficulties about their nephew ; asking his 
advice, & possibly his help. He might know of 
something — some opening for a young surgeon 
in India, or some temporary appointment for 
the voyage out and home, which might catch 
Ascott's erratic and easily attracted fancy ; 
give him occupation for the time being, and 
at least detach him from his present life, with 
all its temptations and dangers. 

Also, it might result in bringing the boy 
again under that influence which had been so 
beneficial to him while it lasted, and which 
Hilary devoutly believed was the best influ- 
ence in the world. WaB it unnatural, if, min- 
gled with an earnest desire for Ascott's good, 
was an under-lying delight that that good 
should be done to him by Robert Lyon ? 

So when her plan was made, even to the very 



70 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



words in which she meant to unfold it to .To- " I will explain, if you will allow me to sit 
hanna, and the very form in which Johanna down ; bah ! I've brought in sticking to me a 
should write the letter, she allowed herself a straw out of that confounded shaky old cab. 
few brief minutes to think of him — Robert One ought never to be so stupid as to go any 
Lyon — to call up his eyes, his voice, his smile: where except in one's own carriage. This is 
to count, for the hundreth time, how many rather a small room, Miss Hilary." 
months — one less than twenty-tour, 60 she He eyed it curiously round : and, lastly, 
could not say years now — it woild be before with his most acute look he eyed herself, as if 
lie returned to England. Also, to speculate! he wished to fiDd out something from her 
when and where they would first meet, and manner, before going into further explana- 
how he would speak the one word — all that tions. 

was needful to change " liking " into "love," But she stood before him a little uneasy, and 
and "friend" into "wife." They had so yet not very much so. The utmost she ex- 
grown together during so many years, not the pected was some quarrel with her sister Selina: 
less so during these years of absence, that it, perhaps the breaking off of the match, which 
seemed as if suchachange would hardly make would not have broken Hilary's heart at all 
any difference. And yet — -and yet — as she events. 

sat and sewed, wearied with her day's labors,! " So you have really no idea what I'm come 
sad and perplexed, she thought — if only, by about I" 



<om'e strange magic, Robert Lyon were stand- 
ing opposite, holding open his arms, ready and 1 



f Not the slightest." 
Well!" said Peter 



Ascott, " I hardly 



glad to take her and all her cares to his heart, thought it : but when one has been taken in 
how she would cling there ! how closely she as I have been, and this isn't the first time by 



would creep to him, weeping with joy and con 
tent, neither afraid nor ashamed to let him see 
how dearly she loved him ! 

< >nly a dream ! ah, only a dream ! and she 



vour family- 

l, Mr. Ascott ! will you explain yourself?" 
"I will, ma'am. It's a very unpleasant 
1 business I come about; any other gentleman 
started from it at the sharp sound of the door-; but me would have come with a police officer 
bell — started, blushing and trembling, as if it at his back. Look here, Miss Hilary Leaf— ' 
had been Robert Lyon himself, when she knew 'did you ever set eyes ou this before. ?" 
it was only her two young assistants whomi He took out his check book, turned delibe- 
she had ailowed to go out to tea in the neigh- rately over the small memorandum halves of 
borhood. So she settled herself to her work j the page, till he came to one in particular, 
again: put all her own thoughts by in their then hunted in his pocket book for something, 
little private corners, and waited for the en- 1 " My banker sent in to-day my canceled 
trance and the harmless gossip'of these two checks, which I don't usually go over oftener 
orphan girls, who were already beginning to than three months ; he knew that, the scamp!" 
love her. and make a friend of her. and to- Hilary looked up. 
ward whom she felt herself quite an elderly: " Your nephew, to be sure. See!" 
and responsible person. Poor little Hilary! He spread before her a check, the very one 
It seemed to be her lot always to take care .of she had watched him write seven days before, 
somebody or other. Would it ever be tbatlmade payable to "Ascott Leaf, or bearer." 
any body should take care of her? andsigned with the bold, peculiar signature. 

So -be cleared away some of her needle "Peter Ascott." Only instead of being a 
work, stirred the fire, which was dropping! check for twenty pounds it was fur seventy, 
hollow and dull, and looked up pleasanth to Instantly the whole truth flashed upon Hila- 
t he opening door. But it was not the girls :'ry : Ascott's remark about how easily the T 
it was a man's foot and a man's voice. could be made into an S, and what a "good 

"Any person of the name of Leaf living joke" it .would be: his long absence that night: 
here? I wish to see her. on business." his strange manner: his refusal to let her see 

At another time she would have laughed at the check again.: all was clear as daylight. 
the manner and words, as if it were impc Unfortunate boy! the temptation had beeu 

ble so great a gentleman as Mr. Ascott could'too strdng for him. Under what sudden, m- 
want to see so small a person as the. " person sane impulse he had acted — under what delu- 
o( the name of Leaf." except on business.ision of being able to repay in time ; or of Mr. 
But now she was startled by his appearance Ascott's not detecting the fraud ; oi ifdiscov- 
at all. She sprang up only able to articulate ered, of its being discovered after the marriage, 
" My sister — " when to prosecute his wife's nephew would be 

" Don't be frightened: your sisters are quite a disgrace to himself, could never be known, 
well. I called at No. 15 an hour ago." But there unmistakable was the altered check. 

"You saw them?" jwhich had been presented and paid, the bank- 

" No ; I thought it unadvisable, under the'er of course not having the slightest suspicion 



circumstances." 

"What circumstances?" 



of any thing amiss. 
" Well, isn't this a nice return for all my 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



71 



kindness ? So cleverly done, too. But for thelof him as what he was — swindler, forger, uu- 
merest chance I might not have found it out grateful to his benefactors, a disgrace, to his 
for three months. Oh, he's a precious young home and family. She saw only the boy 

Ascott, with his bright looks and pleasant 
ways, whom his aunts had biought up from 



rascal, this nephew of yours. His father was 
only a fool, but he— Do you know that this 
is :) matter of forgery — forgery, ma'am," add- his cradle, and loved with all his faults- 



ed Mr. Ascott, waxing hot in his indignation 

Hilary uttered a bitter groan. 

Yes, it was quite true. Their Ascott, their 
own boy. was no longer merely idle, extrava- 
gant, thoughtless — faults bad enough, but ca 



-per- 



haps level still. "Oh, I must go home. 
This will break Johanna's heart!" 

Mr. Peter Aecott possibly never had a heart, 
or it had been so Stunted in its growth that it 
had never reached its fair development. Yet 



pable of being mended as he grew older: he he felt sorry in his way for the " young per- 
haddone that which to the end of his days he son," who looked so deadly white, yet tried 
could never blot out. He was a swindler and so hard not to make a scene ; nay, when her 
a torger. two assistants came into the one little parlor. 

She clasped her hands tightly together, as deported herself with steady composure; told 
one struggling with sharp physical pain, try- them that she was obliged suddenly to go 
iug to read the expression of Mr. Ascott's face, home, but would be back, if possible, the next 
At last she put her question into words. morning. Then, in that orderly, accurate way r 

"What do you mean to do? £hall you which l?eter Ascott could both understand and 
prosecute him ?" appreciate, she proceeded to arrange with 

Mr. Ascott crossed his legs, and settled his them about the shop and the house in case 



neckcloth with a self-satisfied air. He evident- 
ly rather enjoyed the importance of his posi- 
tion. To be dictator, almost of life and death, 



she might be detained till Monday. 

" You're not a bad woman of business," 
said he, with a patronizing air. "This seems 



to this unfortunate family was worth certainly a tidy little idiop ; I dare say vou'll get on in 
fifty pounds. 'it." * 

•' Well, 1 haven't exactly determined. The, She looked at him with a bewildered air, 
money, you see, is of no moment to me, and I and went on speaking to the young woman at 
couldn't get it back any how. He'll never be the door. 

worth a half-penny, that rascal. I might " How much might your weekly receipts be 
prosecute, and nobody would blame me ; in- in a place like this? And what salary does 
deed, if I were to decline marrying your sister, Miss — Miss What's-her-name give to each of 
and cut the whole set of you, I don't see," and you? You're the head shop-woman, I sup- 
he drew himself up, " that any thing could be j pose?" 
said against me. But — " Hilary made no answer ; she scarcely heard. 

Perhaps, hard man as he was, be was All her mind was full of but one thing": "Nev- 
touched by the agony of suspense in Hilary's er see Ascott any more !" There came back 
face, for he added. upon her all the dreadful stories she had ever 

"Come, come, I won't disgrace your family: heard of lads who had committed forgery or 
I won't do any thing to harm the fellow." some similar offense, and, in dread of punish- 

" Thank you!" said Hilary, in a mechani- : ment, had run away in despair, and never 
cal, unuatural voice. been heard of for years — come to every kind of 

"As for my mone/, he'i welcome to it, and i misery, perhaps even destroyed themselves. 
much- good may it do him. 'Set a beggar on [The impression was so horribly vivid, that 
• horseback, and he'll ride to the devil,' and in when, pausing an instant in putting her books 
double quick time too. 1 won't hinder him. in their places, she heard the door bell ring 
I wash my hands of the young scape-grace. Hilary with difficulty repressed a scream. 
But he'd better not come near me again." But it was no messenger of dreadful tiding-. 

"No," acquiesced Hilary, absently. it was only Elizabeth Hand; and the quiet 

"In fact," said Mr. Ascott, with a twinkle fashion in which she entered showed Hilarv 
of his sharp eye, " I have already taken mea- at once that- nothing dreadful had happened at 
eures to frighten him away, so that he may bom 

make himself scarce, and give neither you nor "Oh no, . has happened," confirmed 

me any farther trouble. 1 drove up to your! the girl. 'On! Leaf sent me to see if 

door with a policeman, asked to see Mr. Leaf, you could come home to night instead of to- 
aud when 1 heard that he was out — a lie, of morrow: She is quite well, that is, pretty 

rse I left word 1 d be back in half an well; but Mr. Leaf—" 
hour. Depend upon it," and he winked con- Here, catching sight ot Miss Hilary's vie.it- 
fidentially, "he will smell a rat, and make a or, Elizabeth stopped short. Peter Ascott was 
moonlight flitting of it, and we shall never one of her prejudice-. She determined in his 
hear of him any more." presenceto let out no more of the family affaire. 

" Never hear of Ascott any more .'" repeated On his part, Mr. Ascott had always treated 
Hilary ; and for an instant she ceased to think Elizabeth as people like him usually do treat 



Ti> 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



servants, afraid to lose an inch of their dignity,) " Come, my wench, you'J belter tell ; it'll 
lest it should be an acknowledgment of equal' be none the worse for you, and it shan't harm 
birth and breeding with the class from which ! the young fellow, though I dare say he hae 
they are so terribly ashamed to have sprung. 'paid you well for holding your tongue." 
He regarded her now with a lordly air. "About what, sir?" 

"Young woman — I believe you are the; "Oh! you know what happened when you 
young woman who this afternoon told me that| told him I had called, eh? Servants get to 
Mr. Leaf was out. It was a fib, of course." know all about their master's affaire." 
Elizabeth turned round indignantly. " No, " Mr. Leaf isn't my master, and his affaire 



message when 



he 



was 

not 
In 



Sir ; I don't tell fibs. He was out ,; 

" Did you give him my 
came in?" 

" Yes, Sir." 

" And what did he say, eh ?" 

" Nothing." 

This was the literal fact; but there 
something behind which Elizabeth had 
the slightest intention of communicating, 
fact, she set herself, physically and mentally, 
in an attitude of dogged resistance to any 
pumping of Mr. Ascott ; for though, as sheUiad 
truly said, nothing special had happened, she 
felt sure that he was at the bottom of some- 
thing which had gone wrong in the household 
that afternoon. 

It was this. When Ascott returned, and 
she told him of his godfather's visit, the young 
man had suddenly turned so ghastly pale that 
she had to fetch him aglass of water ; and his 
Aunt Johanna — Miss Selina was out — had to 
tend him and soothe him for several minutes 
before he was right again. When at last he 
seemed returning to his natural self, he look- 
ed wildly up at his aunt, and clung to her in 
such an outburst of feeling, that Elizabeth had 



are nothing to me ; I don't pry into 'em," re- 
plied Elizabeth. "If you want to know any 
thing, Sir, handn't you better ask himself? 
He's at home to-night. I left him and »y 
missus going to their tea." 
" Left them at home, and at tea?" 
" Yes, Miss Hilary." 

It was an inexpressible relief. For the dis- 
covery must have come. Ascott must have 
known or guessed that Mr. Aecott had found 
him out ; he must hare confessed all to hie 
Aunt, or Johanna would never have done two 
things which her sister knew she strongly dis- 
liked — sending Elizabeth wandering through 
London at night, and fetching Hilary home 
before the time. Yet they had been left sit- 
ting quietly at their tea ! 

Perhaps, after all, the blow had not been so 
dreadful. Johanna saw comfort through it 
all. Vague hopes arose in Hilary also ; vi- 
sions of the poor sinner sitting " clothed and 
in his right mind," contrite and humbled ; 
comforted by them all, with the inexpressible 
tenderness with which we yearn over one who 
" was dead and is alive again, was lost, and is 
found ;" helped by them all in the way that 
thought it best to slip out of the room. It was women — some women especially, and these 
tea time, but still she waited outside for a half were of them — seem formed to help the erring 
hour or longer, when she gently knocked, and and unfortunate ; for, erring as he was, he had 



after a minute or two Miss Leaf came out 
There seemed nothing wrong, at least not 
much — not more than Elizabeth had noticed 
many and many a time after talks between 
Ascott and his aunts. 

" I'll take the tea in myself," she said; "for 
I want you to start at once for Kensington to 
fetch Miss Hilary. Don't frighten her — mind 
that Elizabeth. Say I am much as usual my- 
self; but that Mr. Leaf is not quite well, and 
I think she might do him good. Remember 
the exact words." 

Elizabeth did, and would have delivered 
them accurately, if Mr. Ascott had not been 
present, and addressed her in that authorita- 
tive manner. Now. she resolutely held her 
tongue. 

lift time have been ac- 



also been unfortunate. 

Many an excuse for him suggested itself. 
How foolish of them, ignorant women that 
they were, to suppose that seventeen years of 
the most careful bringing up could, with his 
temperament, stand against the countless dan- 
gers of London life ; of any life where a young 
man is left to himself in a great town, with- 
his temptations so many, and his power of re- 
sistance so small. 

And this might not. could not be a deliber- 
ate act. It must have been committed under 
a sudden impulse, to be repented of tor the rest 
ot his days. Nay, in the strange way in which 
our sins and mistakes are made not only the 
whips to scourge us, but the sicknesses out of 
which we often come — suffering and weak in- 
deed, but yet relieved, and fresh, and sound — 



Mr. Ascott might in 
customed to cringing, frightened, or imperti-iwho could tell but that this grave, fault, this 
nent servants, but this was a phase of thelactual guilt, the climax of so many lesser er- 
species with which he was totally unfamiliar. 'rors, might not workout in the eud Ascott's 
The girl was neither sullen nor rude, yet evi- complete reformation '.' 

dently quite independent; afraid neither of her So in the strange way in which, after a great 
mistress, r.orofhimself. He was sharp enough shock, we begin to revive a little, to hope against 
to see that, whatever he wanted to get out of' bope, to see a slender ray breaking through the 
Elizabeth must be got in another way. darkness, Hilary composed herself, at least eo 



MISTRESS ANDIMAIP. 



73 



far at to enable her to bid Elizabeth go down 
stairs, and ahe would be ready directly. 

" I think it rs the best thing I can do — to 
go home at once," said she. 

'•Certainly, ray dear," replied Mr. Ascott, 
rather flattered by her involuntary appeal, 
and by at, inward consciousness of his own 
exceeding generosity. "And pray don't dif 
turb yourselves. Tell your sister fi 
your sister Selina, I mean — that I overlook 
every thing, on condition that you keep him 
out of my sight, that young blackguard !'" 

"Don't, don't!" cried Hilarf, piteouslyi 

" Well, 1 won't, though it's his right, name 
— a fellow who could — Look you, Miss Hil- 
ary, when his father sent to me to heg ten 
pounds to bury his mother with. I did bury 
her, and him also, a month after, very respect- 
ably too, though he had no claim upon tne. 
except that lie came from Stowbury. And I 
stood godfather to the child, and I've don.' 



High Street, Hilary taking hor servant's arm; 
for she felt strangely weak. As she sat in the 
dark corner of the omnibus she tried to look 
things in the* face, and form some definite plan; 
but the noisy rumble at once dulled ar.d con- 
fused her faculties. She felt capable of no 
consecutive thought, but found herself stupid- 
ly watching the two lines of faces, wondering, 
rom me— absently, what sort of people they were; what 
were their Jives and histories; and whether 
they all had, like herself, their own personal 
harden of woe. Which was, alas! the one 
fact that never need be doubted in this world. 

It was nigh upon eleven o'clock when Hila- 
ry knocked at the door of No. 15. ■ 

Miss Leaf opened it; but for the first time 
in her life she had no welcome for her child. 

" Is it Ascott? I thought it was Ascott," 
she cried, peering eagerly up and down the 
street. 



' He is gone out, then? When did he go?" 
my duty by him. But mark my words: what's asked Hilary, feeling her heart tuiu stone- 
bred in the bone will come in the flesh. He cold. 

was born in a prison, and he'll die in a prison." " Just after Selina came in. She — she vex- 
"God forbid !'' said Hilary, solemnly. And|ed him. But he can not be long? Isnotthat 



again she felt the strong conviction, that 
whatever his father had beeYi, or his mother, 
of whom they had heard nothing till she waf 
dead, Ascott could not have lived all these 
years of his childhood and early boyhood with 
his three aunts at Stowbury without gaining 
at i >ast some good, which might counteract 
the hereditary evil ; as such evil can be coun- 
teracted, even as hereditary disease can be 
gradually removed by wholesome and careful 
rearing in a new generation. 

" Well, I'll not say any more,'} continued 
Peter Ascott: "only the sooner the young 
fellow takes himself off" the better. He'll 
only plague you all. Now, can you send out 
for a cab for me?" 

Hilary mechanically rang the Jell, and gave 
the order. 

" I'll take you to town with me if yon like. 



man he?" 

An 1 just as she was, without shawl or bon- 
net, Johanna stepped out into the cold, damp 
night, and strained her eyes into the darkness; 
but in vain. 

"I'll walk round the Crftscentonce, and may- 
be I shall find him. Only go in, Johanna." 

And Hilary was away again into the dark, 
walking rapidly, less with the hope of finding 
Ascott than to get time to calm herself, so as 
to meet, and help her sisters to meet, this 
worst depth of their calamity. For something 
warned her that this last desperation of a 
weak nature is more to be dreaded than any 
overt obstinacy of a strong one. She had a 
conviction that Ascott never would come 
home. 

After a while they gave up waiting and 
watching at the front door, and shut them- 



If'll save you the expense <!' the omnibus. I selves up in the parlor. The first explanation 

suppose you always travel by omnibus V past, even Seiina ceased talking; and they 

Hiljiry answered something, she hardly j.sat together, the three women, doing nothing, 

knew what, except that it was a declining of attempting to do nothing, onlv listening; think- 



all these benevolent attentions. At last stie 
got Mr. Ascott outside the street door, and 
returning, put her hand to her head with a 
moan. 

• ( Mi, Miss Hilary, jon'f look like^hat!" 
" Elizabeth, do whatha= 

ed ?" 

' No." 

" Then I don't want you to know. And 
you must never try to find it out ; for it is a 
secret, that ought to be kept strictly within 
the family. Are you to be trusted?" 

"Yes, Miss Hilary." 



in<$ every sound was a step on the pavement 
or a knock at the door. Alas! what would^ 
they not have given for the fiercest knock, the 
rnoet impatient:, angry footstep, if only it had 
been their boy's '. 

Ahoi - . Jiii had to be put to 

bed in strong h\>i.enu.->. She had lashed her 
nephew with her bitter tongue till he had 
rushed out ol the house, declaring that none 
of them should ever see his face again. Now 
she reproached herself as being the cause of 
all, and fell into an agony of remorse, which 
engrossed her sisters' whole care : until her 



Now. get me my bonnet, and let us make violent emotion having worn itself out, she 
haste and go home." went to sleep, the only oue who did sleep in 

They walked down the gas-lit Kensington .that miserable family. 



74 MISTRESS AttD MAID. 

For Elizabeth also, having been sent to bed misery — the family disgrace. To the secoud, 
hours before, was found by Miss Hilary sit- similar and even stronger reasons applied. 
ting on the kitchen stairs, about four in the There was something about the cool, matter- 
morning. Her mistress made no attempt at of-fact, business-like act of setting a detective 
reproach, but brought her into the parlor to officer to hunt out their nephew, from which 
share the silent watch, never broken except these poor women recoiled. Besides, impress- 
to make up the fire or light a fresh candle : ed as he was — he had told his Aun^Johanna 
till candles burned up, and shutters were open- so — with the relentlessness of Mr. Ascott, 
ed, and upon their great calamity stared the might not the chance of his discovering that 
broad unwelcome day. he was hunted drive him to desperation ? 

Hardly to suicide. Hilary steadfastly dis- 
believed in that. When .Selina painted horri- 
ble pictures ofthis throwing himself off Water- 
PWAPTFR \ I \ loo Bridge : or being found hanging to a tree 
' ' in one of the parks; or locking himself in a 

" Missinc ' : — "Lost" — " T o— " — all the in- hotel bed chamber and blowing out his brains, 
itials of the alphabet — we read these sort of her younger sister only laughed — laughed as 
advertisements in the newspapers : and unless much as she could — if only to keep Johanna 
there happens to be in them something in- i[uiet. 

tensely pathetic, comical, or horrible, we Yet she herself had few fears. For she 
think very little about them. Only those who knew that Ascott was, in a sense, too coward- 
have undergone all that such an advertise- ly to kilt himself. He so disliked physical 
ment implies can understand its depth of pain, physical unpleasantness of all kinds, 
misery : the sudden missing of the person out She felt sure he would stop short, even with 
of the home circle, whether going away in the razor or the pistol in his hand, rather 
anger or driven away by terror or disgrace : than do a thing so very disagreeable, 
the hour after hour and day after day of ago-' Nevertheless, i-n spite of Jierself, while she 
nized suspense; the self-reproach, real or and her sisters sat together, hour after hour, 
imaginary, lest any thing might have been in a stillness almost like that when there is a 
said or clone that was not said or done — any death in the house, these morbid terrors took 
thing prevented that was not prevented: the a double size. Hilary ceased to treat them as 
gnawing remorse for some cruel, or careless-, [ridiculous impossibilities, but began to argue 
or bitter word, that could so easily have beenjthem out rationally. The mere act of doing 
avoided. so made her recoil ; for it seemed an acknow- 

Alas ! if people could only be made to feel ledgment that she was fighting not with chi- 
that every word, every action canics with it merag but realities. 

the weight of' an eternity; that the merest *' It is twenty-four hours since he went," 
chance may make something said or done she reasoned. " If he had done anything des- 
quite uiipreineditatedly, in vexation, sullen- perate he would have done it at once, and we 
or spit*, the la M action, the (aty word : should have heard of it long before now ; ill 
which may grow into an awful remembrance;. news always travels fast. Besides, his name 
rising up between them and the irredeemable was markedjtaon all his clothes in full. I did 
past, and blackening the future for years! it myself. And his coat pockets were always 

Selina was quite sure her unhappy nephew stuffed with letters; he used to cram them in 
had committed suicide, and that she had been as soon as he gotfthem. you know." 
th p cause of it. This conviction she impress- And at this small remembrance ot one of 
ed incessantly on her two sister's as they wait- his " ways," even though it was an unkind 
ed upon her. or sat talking by her bedside way, and had ctfused them many a pain, from 
during that lo,ng .Saturday, when there was the want of confidence it showed, his poor, 
nothing else ti be done. fond aunts turned aside to hide their starting 

flm' was the misery ot' it. There was tin-Hears. The ■ ery phrase " he used to," seem- 

thing to be done. They bad not the slightest ed. such an unconscious admission that hie life 

clew to \-.ott'- haunts or associates. With with them was over and done ; that he never 

i he last lingering of honest shame, or honest' would either please them' or vex them any 

ct for In- aunts, h* had kjepf all these more. 

himself, fo search for him in wide Yet they took care that during the whole 
London was altogether impossible. day every thing should be done as if he were 

["wo courses suggested themselves io Hilary expected minute by minute: that Elizabeth 

one. to •."■and consult Miss Balquidderjlshould lay the fourth knife and fork at dinner, 

other — which came into her mind from i the fourth cup and saucer at tea. Kli/abeth, 

some similar case she had heard of — to set on who throughout had faithfully kept her pledge; 

foot inquiries at all police stations. But the who went about silently and unobservant.lv. 

first idea was soon rejected: only at the last and by every means in her power put aside 

juld she I I th' laniil; the curiosity ol Mrs tcouldbe 



MISTRESy AND MAID. 



... 



the wretched hov ami bef hand- to clutch ;ii 
him, as if he wore drowning, una she were tin- 
only one to save him. I low could she do it '.' 
If she could only get at him, byword or 
leHer! But that seemed impossible, unlit, 
turning over scheme after scheme, she sud- 
denly thought of the one which so many peo- 
ple had tried in similar circumstances, and 



the reason that Jier lodgers bad sal up all 
night, and whal on t-arih had become of young 
Mr. Leaf. 

After tea, Johanna, quite worn out, consent- 
ed to go to bed ; and then Hilary, left to her 
own responsibility, set herself to consider how 
long this dreadful quietness was to lust, wheth- 
er nothing could be done. She could endure 

whatever was inevitable, but it waa against which she remembered they had talked over 
her nature as well as her conscience to sit and laughed over, they ar,d Ascott, one Sun- 
down tamely to endure any tiling whatsoeverjday evening not so very long ago. This was 
till it did become inevitable. j — a Tiroes advertisement. 

In the first place, she determined -on that The difficulty how to word it, so'as to catch 
which a certain sense of honor, as well as the his attention and yet escape publicity, was 
tear of vexing him should he come home, had very great, especially as his initials were so 
hitherto prevented the examining of Ascott's common. Hundreds of " A. L.'s " might he 
room, drawers, clothes, and papers. It was a' wandering away from home, to whom all that 
very dreary business— almost like doing the she dared say to call Ascott back would equal- 
like to a person who was dead, only without ly apply. At last a bjight thought struck h,er. 
the sad sanctity that belongs to the dead, "A. leaf" (will a small I) "will be quite 
whose very errors are forgotten and forgiven, safe wherever found. Come. Saturday. bV 
who can neither sutler nor make'others suffer As she wrote it — this wretched double-en-' 
any more. tejidre — she was seized with that sudden sense 

Many things she found, and more she guess- of the ludicrolis which sometimes intrudes in 
ed at — things which stabbed her to the heart, such a ghastly fashion in the very midst Of 
things that she never told, not even to Johan- great misery. She burst into uncontrollable 
na ; but she found noclew whatever to Ascott's laughter, fitafterfit; so violent that Elizabeth, 
whereabouts, intentions, or connections. One who came in by chance, was terrified out of 
thing, however, struck her — that most of his her wits, and kneeling beside her mistress, im- 
clothes, and all his somewhat extensive stock plored her to be quiet. At last the paroxysm 
of jewelry were gone;, every thing, in short, ended in complete exhaustion. The tension 
that could be convertible into money. It was of the last twenty-four hours had given way, 
evident that his flight, sudden as it was, hadiand Hilary knew her strength was gone. Yet 
been premeditated as at lea«t a possibility. |the advertisement ought to be taken to the 

This so far was satisfactory,. It took away Times office that very night, in order to be in- " 



the on e h aunting fear of h is com m it t i ng suicide; 
and made it likely that he was still lingering 
about, hiding from justice and Mr. Ascott, or 
perhaps waiting for an opportunity to escape 
from England — from the fear that his godfath- 
er, even if not prosecuting him, had the power 



serted without fail on Monday morning. 

There was but one person whom she could 
trust — Elizabeth . 

She looked at the girl, who was kneeling 
beside the sofa, rubbing her feet, and some- 
times casting a glance round, in the quiet way 



and doubtless the will completely to crush his of one well used to nursing, who can find out 
future, wherever he was known. how the sufferer is without "fussing'' with 

Where could he go? His Aunt tried to questions. She noticed, probably because she 
think over every word he had*ever let fall; had seen little of her of late, a curious change 
about America, Australia, or any other place in Elizabeth. It must have been gradual, but 
to which the hopeless outlaws of this country yet its result had never been so apparent be- 
rly; but she could recollect nothing to enable fore. Her brusqueuess had softened down, 
her to form any conclusion. One thing only and there had come into her and shone out of 
she was sure of — that if once he went awav, her, spite of all her natural uncomeliness of 
his own words would come true; they would person, that beautiful, ~intaugible something, 
never see his face again. T1k last tie, the lasti-common alike to peasant and queen, as clear 
constraint that bound Kim to home and a to see and as sad to miss in both — woraanli- 
steady, righteous life would be broken: he ness. Added thereto was the gentle compo- 
would go alladrift, be tossed hither and thitherjsure of mein which almost invariably accom 
on every wave of circumstance — what ho call- ! oanied it, which instinctively makes you feel 
ed circumstance — till Heaven only knew what that in great things or small, whatever the 
a total wreck he might speedily become, or in woman has to do, she will do it in the woman- 
what forlorn and far oft" seas his ruined life liest, wisest, and best way. 
might go down. He, Ascott Leaf, the last of So thought Mies Hilary as she lay watching 
the name and family. her servant, and then explained to her the 

"It can not be; it srfall not be!" cried .errand upon which she wished to send her. 
Hilary. A sharp, bitter cry of resistance to' Not much explanation, for she merely gave 
the death ; and her heart seemed to go out tojher the advertisement to read, and told her 



76 



MISTRESS AND MAID, 



what she wished done with it. And Elizabeth, |ed her eyes, and flushed hei cheeks, and made 
on her part, asked no question?, but sirnply'lier. old nervousness of manner' return. More 
listened and obeyed. especially as^he was somewhat perplexed, be- 

After she was gone Hilary lay on trte sofa mg divided in her mind between the wish she 
passive and motionless. Her strength and had to tell her mistress every thing, and the 



activity seemed to have collapsed at once into 
that heavy quietness which comes when one 
has endured to the utmost limit of endurance. l ed herself. 



fear to trouble 
with any small 



her. at this troublous time, 
matter that merely concern- 



when one feels as if to speak a word or to lift 
a finger would be as much as life was worth. 

"Oh, if I could only go to sleep !" was all 
she thought. ¥ 

By-and-by sleep did come, and she was taken 
far away out of these miseries. By the strange 
peculiarity of dreams that we so seldom dream 
about any grief that oppresses us at the time, 
but generally of something quite different, she 
thought she was in some known unknown 
land, lovely and beautiful, with blue hills 
rising in ihe distance, and blue seas creeping 
and curling on to the shore. On this shore 
She was walking with Robert Lyon, just as he 
used to be, with his true face and honest voice. 
He did not talk to her much ; but she felt him 
there, and knew they had but "one heart be- 
tween them." A heart which had never once 



The matter was this. When she had given 
in her advertisement at the Times office, and 
was standing behind the co 'inter waiting for 
her change and receipt, there stood beside her 
a young, man, also wailing. She had hardly- 
noticed him. till on his talking to the clerk a- 
bout some imsprint in his advertisement, ap- 
parently one of the great column of " Want 
Places." her ear wascaught.by the unmistak- 
able Stowbury accent. 

It was the first time she had heard it since 
flie left home, and to Elizabeth's tenacious 
nature home in absence had gained an addi- 
tional charm, had grown to be the one place 
in the world about which her affections clung". 
In these dreary wilds of London, to hear a 
Stowbury tongue, to catch sight of a Stowbury 



r„,i „;♦•., -w a.™, *i fk~_ „ u~,„* , i ~i J person, or even one who might know Stow- 

swerved, eitner from the other : a heart who er 1 i , i • i t j 

„„,i o~„r,,; ;„** „i,;„u t i,„ i,s„ot „„f«;.i i,„ i bury, made her heart leap up with a bouna 
and souna, into which the least untatth nadi „ /' „, . , ,, r , K , , , , . 

of joy. She turned suddenly, and looked in- 
tently at tli,e young man, or rather the lad, 
for he seemed a mere lad, small, slight, and 
whiskerless. 

" Well, Miss. I hope you'll know me again 
next time." said the young fellow. At which 
remark I^lizabeth saw that he was neither so 
young flor so simple as she had at first 



never come — that had never known, or recog 
nized even as a possibility, the one first doubt, 
the ominous 

'• Mttle rift within the lute, 
That by-and->>y will make the music mute. 
An 1 ever widening slowly silence all." 

Is it ever so in this world ? Does God ever 
bring the faithful man to the faithful woman 



and make them love one another with ariirht thought. She drew back, very much asham- 
eous, holy, persistent tenderness, which dajre ed^and coloring deeply, 
look in His face, nor be ashamed ; which sees 



Nov*, if Elizabeth ever looked any thing 
in this life only the beginning of the life' tol'ike comely, it was when she blushed^ for she 
come; and in the closest, most passionate hu had the delicate skin peculiar to the young 



man love something to be held with a loose 
hand, something frail as glass ami britile as 
straw, unless it is* perfected and sanctified by 
the love divine? 

Hilary at least believed so. And when at 
Elizabeth's knock she woke with a start, and 
saw — not the sweet sea-shore and Robert Lyon, 
but the dull parlor, and the last flicker of the 
fire, she thanked God that her dream was not 
all a dream — that, sharp as her misery was. 
it did not touch this — the love of her heart: 
she believed in Robert Lvon still. 

And so she rose and spoke quite cheerfully, 
asking Elizabeth how she had managed, and 
whether the advertisement would be sure to 
be in on Monday morning 

" Yes, Miss 
right." 



women of her district: and wh?n the blood 
rushed through it. no cheek of lady fair ever 
assumed a brighter rose. That, or the natu- 
ral vanity of^nan in being noticed by woman, 
caught the youth's attention. 

"Come now, Miss, don't be shy or offended. 
Perhaps I'm going your way? Would you 
like company home?" 

" No, thank you," said Elizabeth, with 
great dignity. 

" Well, won't you even tell a fellow your 
name? Mine's Tom Cnffe, and I live — " 

" Cliffe ! Are you little Tommy Cliffe, and 
do you come from Stowbury j" 

And all Elizabeth's heart was in her eyes. 

As has been said! she was of a special!} 



Hilary; it is sure to be all itenacious nature. She liked few people, but 

those she did like she held very fast. Almo&t 

And then the girl hung about the room in the only strong interest of her life, except Mis 

an uneasy way, as if she had something to tell,J Hilary, had been the little boy whom she had 

which was the fact. snatched from under the horse's heel"; and 

Elizabeth had had an adventure. It was although he was rather a scape-grace, and cared 

new thing in her monotolpoue life ; it brighten-jlittle for her, and hie mother was a decidedly 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



77 



objectionable woman, she had clung to them "little Tommy Cliffe." Why not? If so, 
both firmly till she lost sight of them. how excessively proud she should be! 

Now it was not to be expected that she For the moment she had forgotten her er- 
should recognize in this London stranger the rand ; forgotten even Miss Hilary. It was 
little lad whose life she had saved — a lad, too, not till Tom Clifie asked her where she lived, 
from her beloved Stowbury — without acertain that she suddenly recollected her mistress 
amount of emotion, at which the individual hi might not like, under present circumstances, 
question broadly stared. that their abodeor any thing concerning them 

" Bless your heart, I am Tommy Cliffe from should be known to a Stowbury person. 
Stowbury, sure enough. Who are you ?" It was a struggle. She would have liked 

" Elizabeth Hand." to see the lad again ; have liked to talk over 

Whereupon ensued a most friendly greet- with him Stowbury things and Stowbury peo- 
ing. Tom declared he should have known pie ; but she felt she ought not, and she would 
her any where, and had never forgotten her — not. 

never ! How far that was true or not, he cer- "Tell me where you live, Tom, and that will 
tainly looked as if it were ; and two great do just as well ; at least till I speak to my 
tears of pleasure dimmed Elizabeth's kind mistress. I never had a visitor before, and 
eyes. my mistress might not like it." 

"You've grown a man now, Tommy," said *' No followers allowed, eh ?" 
she, looking at him with a sort of half-mater- Elizabeth laughed. The idea of little Tom- 
nal pride, and noticing his remarkably hand my Clifie as her " follower^" seemed so very 
some and intelligent face, so intelligent that.it fanny. t 

would have attracted notice, though it was So she bade him goodby; having, thanks 
set upon broad, stooping shoulders, and a to his gay frankness, been made acquainted 
small, slight body. "Let me see; how old with all about him, but leaving him in perfect 
areymi?" . ignorance concerning herself and her mistress. 

" I'm nineteen, I think." She only smiled when he declared contemptu- 

'* And I'm two and twenty. How aged we ously, and with rather a romantic emphasis, 
are growing!" said Elizabeth, with a smile.' that he would hunt her out, though it were 

mi i ij r . -\r ni'ff u * * half over London. 

Then she asked after Mrs. Cl.ffe, but got rfhis adventure. When she 

only the brief answer, Mot hers dead, giv ^ ( d littletotellf and 

en in a tone as if no mcc inquiries would be , f . tT ., ,' , , . .. •, . ,. a ., 

, u - -i i i j r i e Miss Hilary listened to it rather indifferently, 

welcome. Hit. two sisters, also, had died of , • , ,•■ , u -n r>i-«> 

, , rp , i. „ „ trying hard to remember who lommy Onrfe 

typhus in one week, and lorn had been 'on • b i , . , • , . i • c 

,-.' , , ,, , , .. e ,, , . was, and to take an interest in him because 

his own hook, as he expressed it, for the last . , c . , ^ . Q , , , 

., he came from Stowbury. But Stowbury days 

u 3 , r. i j »i .-i were so far off now — with such a gulf of pain 

He was extremely frank and confidential: , tvvf> „_ 

told how he had begun life as a printer's a ,. ' ,_ .» ~ , , , ., 

„, -, ,, ,. ., . " ' . Suddenlv the same fear occurred to her that 

"devil," afterward become a compositor, and , „ , . „. - , . vv , ., 
,. Y, » ... i j i <. .u . \ i had occurred to Elizabeth, 

his health tdiling, had left the trade, and gone .n,. i » ■<•■, , . .- . t 

A n I he lad did not see the advertisement, 1 

as servant to a iterary gentleman. . „ 9 v „ n _* ui- u i o>> 

hope? You did not tell him about us? 

"An uncommon clever fellow is master: « i to ] { \ } )ini no thing," said Elizabeth, 
keeps his carnage, and has dukes to dinner. speaking softly, and looking down. " I did 
all out of his books. Maybe you've heard o'| not e ^ en , Men tion anv body's name." 
them, Elizabeth?' and he named a few, in a "That was right; "thank vou." 
patronizing way : at which Elizabeth smiled. But oh, the bitterness of knowing, and feel- 
for she knew them well. But she nevertheless j ng 8Ure Elizabeth knew too, the thing for 
regarded with a certain awe the servant of so whieli she thanked her ;' apd that not to men- 
great a man, and " little Tommy Clifie " took t j on A-vott's name was the greatest kindness 
anew importance in her eyes. the faithful servant could show toward the 

Also, as he walked with her along the! family, 
street to find an omnibus, she could not help 
perceiving what a sharp little fellow he hadj ________ 

grown into; how, like many another printer's: 
boy, h% had caught the influence of the at- 
mosphere of letters, and was educated, self- 
educated, of course, to a degree far beyond his 
position. When she looked at him, and list- 
ened to him, Elizabeth involuntarily thought 
of Benjamin Franklin, and of many more who 
had raised themselves from the ink-pot and 
the compositor's desk to fame and eminence, 



CHAPTER XX. 

Ascott Leaf never came home. 

l)ay*after day appeared the advertisement, 
sometimes slightly altered, as hope or fear 
suggested; but no word, no letter, no answer 
of any kind reached the anxious women. 



By-and-by, moved by their distress, or per- 
aad she fancied that such might be the lot of haps feeling that the scape-grace would be safer 



78 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



i^ot rid of if found and dispatched abroad inday, as they were all sitting in the mid 
some decent manner. Mr. Ascott himself took 'white finery, but as sadly and silentbj as if it 
measures for privately continuing the search, were a funeral, a person was suddenly shown 
Every outward-bound ship was examined ; in "on business." 

every hospital visited; every case of suicide) It was a detective officer sent to find out 
investigated: but in vain. The unhappy from Ascott Leaf 's aunts whether a certain 
young man had disappeared, suddenly and description of him, in a printed hand-bill, was 
completely, as many another has disappeared.! correct. For his principal creditor, exaspe- 
out of the home circle, and been never heard rated, had determined on thus advertising him 
of more. ^ in the public papers as having "absconded." 

11 is difficult to understand how a family can Had a thunder-bolt fallen in the little par- 
possibly bear such a sorrow, did we uotknow|lor the three aunts could not have been more 
that many have had to bear it, and have borne utterly overwhelmed. Thev made no "scene" 



— a certain sense of pride kept these poor gen- 
tlewomen from bptraying their misery to a 
strange man ; though he was a very civil man. 
and having delivered himself of his errand, 
like an automaton, sat looking into his hat. 



it, with all its load of agonizing suspense, slow- 
ly dying hope, 

"The hope that keeps alive despaii 

>eulingdown into a permanent grief, compar- 
ed to which the grief for loss by death is light and taking no notice of aught around 
and endurable. JHe was accustomed to this sort of thine. 

The Leaf family went through all this/ Hilary was the first to recover herself. She 
Was it. better or worse for them thaUkeir an- glanced round at her sisters, but they had not 
guish had to be secret ? that there were no a word to say. In anv crisis of family diffi- 
irienda to pity, inquire, or console ? that Jo- culty they alwavs left'her to take the helm 
hanna had to sit hour by hour and day by day ■ Eapidly she ran over in her mind all the 
in the solitary parlor, Selinahavmg soon gone| conseciuences that would arise fwftn thi8 new 
back to her old. ways of "gadding about, ': tr0 uble-the public disgrace: Mr. Ascott's 
and her marriage preparations : and that, a andaun0 van ce, no^ that she cared much 
hardest of all Hilary had on the Monday for ° th is. except so far as it would affect Selina- 
morning to return to Kensington and worfc kftfly f<the death-blow it was to any possiW, 

work, work, as nothing were amiss? v,,-.™ nf ™«i ;n,; n « n»„ , ~~ j- 1 i^i 

t, ' . , , f, , „ ,, ■ , ,, . „ nope ol reclaiming the poor prodigal. Who 

But it was natural that all this should tefl ghe did not believe s was dead but % m fondlv 

upon her: and one day Miss Balquidder said >|trusted he would return oneda frora llis wan „ 

after a long coyer observation of her face„ den and hissvvin e> ft ■ 

My dear, you look ill. Is there any thing : ted calf ki]led for him 

troubling you? My young people always tell over hj m 

me their troubles, bodily or mental. I doctor sconde d > 

both." 



I am sure of it," said Hilary, with a sad, 



nusks. to have the fat- 

and glad tears shed 

But after being advertised as "al>- 

Ascott never would, never could, 

! come home any home. 

smile, but entered into no exphnation, and' Takifigascool and business-like a tone as 
Miss Balquidder had the wise kindliness to 'J h * c r onld ' she returned the paper t<Mhe de- 
inquire no further. Nevertheless, on some }}%£'. • 

errand or other she came to Kensington nearly ' J ll,s 18 a ? ummar ;:. proceeding. 1 e t here 
every evening, and took Hilary back with her n0 M ? °M v oidmg l] 
to sleep at No. 15. 



One, 



" Your sister Selina must wish to have you 
with her as much as possible till she is mar- 
ried." she said, as a reason for doing this. 

And Hilary acquiesced, but silently, as we 
often do acquiesce in what ought to be a truth, 



Miss." replied the man, very respeci- 
fully. "If the family would pay the debt." 
" Do you know how much it is?" 
'• Eighty pounds." 
"Ah!" 
That hopeless sigluof Johanna's vva6 suffi 



but which" we "know to be~t£» "aaddest,"moBt cienfc an8wer ' thou g h ™ one spoke. 

painful falsehood. But in desperate cases some women acquire 

For Selina, it became plain to see, was one a desperate courage, or rather it is less cour- 
of the family no more. After her first burst of a g e than faith — the faith which is said to 
self-reproachful grief she took Mr. Ascott's " remove mountains" — the belief that to the 
view of her nephew's loss — that it was a good verv J a ?t there must be. something, to b*e done, 
riddance; went on calmly with her bridal an ^- if it can be done, they will have strength 
preparations, and seemed only afraid lest any to do it. True, the mountain may not be re- 
thing should interfere to prevent her marriage, moved, but the mere act of faith, or courage 

But the danger was apparently tided over.' sometimes teaches how to climb over it. 
No news of Ascott came. Even the daily in-: "Very well. Take this paperback to your 
quiries for him by hie creditors had ceased, employer. He must be aware that his 'onlv 
His Aunt Selina was beginning to breathejehance of payment is by suppressing it. U' 
freely, when, the morning before the wedding'he will do that, in two days heshall hear from 



MISTRESS AND MAID. ?g. 

I£Vm"^Yj!,'" UUik ° arrau * cment « about ! Hilary thing herself on her dear old sister's 
rr"iE . , , • Deck arul bur8t int ° tears. ■ 

amaj said this, to her sisters' utter aston- Selina too cried a little, and said tbat she 

aft ment, so otter that they let her say it, and should like to help in paving the debt, if Mr. 

mrirlh M 7 g ?i aWa} ' tfi * Civil " G00d A8C0lt hatl no objection. And then she turn- 
nonnng, before they could interfere or con- ed back to her white splendors, and became 

•nvP M V ° iim rr-, . , absorbed in the annoyance of there being far 

,„-,r i ■ r n Hilary, what have yoo.too much clematis and far too little orange 

' iT , r * 18a ? im P° 88lblht y- blossom in the bridal bonnet-wbich it wt 

Like the frenchman's answer to his mis- now too lace to change. A little, also, she 

tress- Madame, if it had been possible itj vexed herself about the risk of confidi^in 

X i Xll r^° ne ' ah i? d i y ,, if T 5t iS ^H*? 8 ? Ba fo uidde r, lest by any chance the sen- 
sible it shall be done.' Jt shall, I say." might get round to Kussell Square : and was 
1 wonder you can jest about our misfor- urgent that at least nothing should be said or 
tunes, said beliua, in her most querulous done until after to-morrow. She was deter- 

V °" C t\ , • • t> , • , ; mined to be married, and dreaded any slip 

1 111 not jesting. But where is the use of between the cup and lip 
sitting down to moan ! I mean what I say. But Hilarv was resolute. "I said that in 
lhe thing must be done." two days the " matter eho uld be arranged, and 

»t< VTl g h " ered - her sm all, red lips were so it must be, or the man will think we too 
tightly together. break our promises." 

• If it is not done, sisters— if his public dis- " You can assure him to the contrary," -aid 
grace is not prevented, don't you see the re- Selina, with dignity. "In fact, why can't 
suit .\ ot as regards your marriage, Selina- you arrange with him without going at all to 
the man must be a coward who would refuse'Miss Balquidder?" 

Kl* r° man h ? °f T i d f0T \ eve \ th <> u gb : Again the fierce, bitter expression returned 
>m " ea l e8t k >nsman had been hanged at the to Hilary's face. 

LofSfc^ 80 ?"! h i iU18e ! f - Th . e 1 bo i; i8i " You forget, Mis, Balqoidder's hones! 
o a bad boy though he has done wickedly; name is his only guarantee against the dis- 
tort there is a difference between a wicked actjhonestv of ours." 

and a wicked nature. I mean to save him if « Hilajy, you disgrace us-disgrace me— 
« TT««9»» speaking in such a wav. Are we not gentle 

Mow . _ women?" 

debt ' y ^^^ g0 ° d Dame : bj Pa}i,lg the " * don,t knmv ' Seliua - ! uon ' fc s «em to 
i\ •. , , , „ . kn ow or to feel any thing, except that! would • 

And where on earth shall you get the mo- live on bread and water in order to live 
!18 ^c ', •,, ,,. -r . peaceably and honestlv. Oh, will it ever ever 

• |I will go i to Miss Balquidder and— " be?" " ' 

'.'. x°n T0 Z?J'< t n ,-, , She walked op apd down the parloi, disar- 

H never. I would as soon think of ranging the white draperies which lay about, 

' Th" g - *» it i u L.M ,. , foebngunotterable contempt for then-rand for 

hen controlling herself, Hi ary explained her sister. Angry and miserable, with even 
laat she meant to ask Miss Balquidder to ar- nerve quivering, she -vaa at war with the 
range for her with the creditor to pav the whole world 
£SSj? W V ,d ! b l Ce T t 5 ia w J eekl >' or 1 monthly This feeling lasted even when, after some 

a ?in«fn i' ° bededucted irom b er salary discussion, she gained her point and was o' 
at ivensing on. her vvay t0 caH Q|l Mige Eal idder S] 

mo i " n ° ta ve 7 «^ at favo r m to ask of her = *ent round and round th, Square many times 
merely that she should Ray 'This young wo- trying l0 fix in her mind won! for word what 
mams employed by me: I believe her to be she meant to say : revealing no more of he 
' tZ \ re8pe i t aWe> anH - 8 ° f ° rth : aLs °' tW ,ami! >' h,stor y tban "** absolutely necetarv 
So JL ♦ %T a pr0m ' Se t0 pay ' S " e wil1 to and statin £ ber business in the briefest, hard- 
;S f . he f r P° wer ( P eT fP rm «•' A «barac est, most matter-of-fact way-putting ,t as a 
1W w ^ preSeUt •'' a ° Velty "' the trans V tio " between employer and employed, 

' mu ••■ '" wh "' h ti,ere was "° lnore ,avor asked or ,l1 

., , '- ,. ri r , stowed than could possiblv be avoided. And 

L Whf °^ Iu f, bl . tter ' Jobanna ; I know J as the sharp east wind blew across herateve- 
d.n. Whj should we suffer so much ! W hy ry corner, minute by minute she felt herself 
Bhou d we be a ways dragged down-down- growing more tierce", and hard, and cold. 
in this way . Why should we never have had « This will never do. I shall be wicked bv- 
any one to cherish and take care o} us, like and-by. I must go in and get it over." 

M" '"r^ ! m ^ h I , Perha P s Jt "«•" 'ell. Well for her mo- 

Miss Leaf hud her finger on her child's lips- rally aa physically, that there should have 

BecaoBe U is the will of God." .,. thai eudden change fro- the blight 



80 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



weather outside to the warm, well-lighted room 
where the good rich woman sat at her early 
and solitary tea. 

Very solitary it looked — the little table in 
the centre of that large handsome parlor, with 
the one cup and saucer, the one easy -chair. 
And as Hilary entered she noticed, amidst all 
this comfort and luxnry, the still, grave, al- 
most sad expression which solitary people al- 
ways get to wear. 

But the next minute Miss Balquidder had 
turned round, and risen, smiling. 

"Miss Leaf, how very kind of you to come 
and see me ! Just the day before the wedding, 
too, when you must be so busy! Sit down 
and tell me all about it. But first, my dear, 
how wet your boots arc ! Let me take them 
off at once." 

Which she did, sending for her own big 
slippers, and putting them on the tiny feet 
with her own hands. 

Hilary submitted — in truth she was top 
much surprised to resist. 

Miss Balquidder had, like most folk, her 
opinions or " crotchets " — as they might be — 
and one of them was, to keep her business and 
friendly relations entirely distinct and apart. 
Whenever she went to Kensington or her oth- 
er establishments she was always emphatical- 
ly "the mistress" — a kindly and even moth- 
erly mistress, certainly, but still authoritative, 
decided. Moreover, it was her invai iable rule 
to treat all her employees alike — " making no 
step-bairns" among ihem. Thus for some 
time it had happened that Hilary had been, 
and felt herself to be, just Miss Leaf, the book 
keeper, doing her duty to Miss Balquidder, 
her employer, and neither expecting nor at- 
taining any closer relation. 

But in her own house, or it might be from 
the sudden apparition of that young face at 
her lonely fireside, Miss Balquidder appeared 
quite different. 

A small thing touches a heart that is 6ore 
with trouble. When the good woman rose 
up — after patting the little feet, and approving 
loudly of the woolen stockings — she saw that 
Hilary's whole face was quivering with the 
effort to keep back her tears. 

There are some woman of whom one feels 
by instinct that they were, as Miss Balquidder 
had once joking! said of herself, specially 
meant to be mothers. \nd though, in its 

strango provide! I often denies the 

maternity, itcan not and does not mean to shut 
up the well-spring of that maternal passion — 
truly a passion to such women as these, al- 
most as strong as the passion of love — but, lets 
the stream, which might othei wise have bless-! 
ed one child or one family, flow out wide andj 
far, blessing wherever it goes. 

In a tone that somehovv touched every fibre! 
of Hilary's heart, Miss Balquidder said, plac-J 
ing her on a low chair beside her own, 



" My dear, you are in trouble. I saw it a 
week or two ago, but did not like to ^speak. 
Couldn't you say it out, and let me help you ? 
You need not be afraid. I never tell any 
thing, and every bodv tells every tiling to 
me." 

That was true. Added to this said mother- 
liness of hers, Mias Balquidder possessed that 
faculty, which some people have in a remark- 
able degree, and some — very good people too 
— are totally deficient in, of attracting confi- 
[dence. The secrets she had been trusted with, 
the romances she had been mixed up in, the 
iQuixotic acts she had been called upon to per- 
form during her long life, would have made a 
novel — or several novels — such as no novelist 
could dare to write, for the public would con- 
demn them as impossible and unnatural. 
iBut all this experience — though happily it 
could never be put into a book — had given to 
the woman herself a view of human nature at 
once so large, lenient, and just, that she was 
the best person possible to hear the strange 
and pitiful story of young Aecott Leaf. 

How it came out Hilary hardly krew ; she 
seemed to have told very little, and yet Miss 
Balquidder guessed it all. It did not appear 
to surprise or shock hpr. She neither began 
to question nor preach ; she only laid her hand, 
her large, motherly, protecting hand, on the 
bowed head, saying. 

"How much you must have suffered, my 
poor bairn!" 

The soft Scotch tone and word — the grave, 
quiet Scotch manner, implying more, than it 
even expressed — was it wonderful if underly- 
ing as \vell as outside influences made Hilary 
completely give way? 

Robert Lyon had had a mother, who died 
when he was seventeen, but of whom he kept 
the tenderest remembrance, often saying that 
of all the ladies he had met with in the world 
there was none equal to her — the strong, ten- 
der, womanly peasant woman — refined in mind 
and word and ways — though to the last day 
of her life she spoke broad Scotch, and did the 
work of her cottage with her own hands. It 
seems as if that mother — toward whom Hila- 
ry's fancy had clung, lovingly as a woman 
ought to cling, above all others, to the mother 
of the man she loves — were speaking to her 
now, comforting her and helping her — com- 
fort and help that it would have been sweeter 
to receive from her than from any womaa mv- 
ing. 

A mere fancy : but in her state of long ui 
controlled excitement it took such possession 
of her that Hilary fell on her knees, and hie 
her face in Miss Balquidder's lap, sobbing 
loud. 

The other was a little surprised ; it was n( 
her Scotch way to yield to emotion before foil 
bat she was a wise woman, she asked no ques- 
tions, merely held the quivering hands an<J 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



81 



smoothed the throbbing head, till composure] " I don't quite understand." 
returned. Some people have a magical, mes-| "Then allow me to explain. I happen to 
meric power ot soothing and controlling: it; know this creditor of your nephew's. Hebe- 
washers. When she took the poof face be-, ing a tailor and outfitter, we have had dealings 
tween her hands, and looked straight into the together in former times, and I know him to 
eyes, with, "There, you are better now,': be a hard man, an unprincipled man, such a 
Hilary returned the. gaze as steadily, nay, one as no young woman should have to do 
smilingly, and rose. with, even in business relations. To be in his 

" Now, may I tell you my business?" Ipower, as you would be for some years if your 

•'Certainly, my dear. When one's friends) scheme of gradual payment were carried out, 
are in trouble, the last thing one ought to dois:is the last thing I should desire for you. Let 
to sit down beside them and moan. Did youjme suggest another way. Take me for your 
come to ask my advice, or had you any deli- creditor instead of him. Pay him at once, and 
nite plan of your own?" jl will write you a check for the amount." 

'• I had." And Hilary told it. The thing was put so delicately, in such an 

" A very good plan, and very generous in ordinary manner, as if it were a mere business 
you to think of it. But I see two strong ob-iarrangement, that at first Hilary hardly per- 
fections : first, whether it can be carried out; jeeived all it implied. When she did — when 



secondly, whether it ought." 
Hilary shrank, sensitively. 
" Not on my account, my 



dear, but. vour 



she found that it was in plain terms agift or 
loan of eighty pounds offered by a person al- 
most a stranger, she was at first quite bewil- 



own. I often see people making martyrs ofdered. Then (ah! let us not blame her if she 
themselves for some worthless character on I carried to a morbid excess that noble indepen- 
whom the sacrifice is utterly wasted. I. object deuce which is the foundation of all true dig- 
to this, as I would object to throwing myself;nity in man or woman) she shrunk back into 
or my friend into a blazing house, unless 1 herself', overcome with annoyance and shame. 
were, morally certain there was a life to be At last she forced herself to say, though the 
saved. Is there in this case?" words came out rather coldly. 

M I think there is ! I trust in Heaven there " You are very good, and I am exceedingly 
ie P° said Hilary, earnestly. i obliged to you ; but I never borrowed money 

There was both pleasure and pity expressed in my life. It is quite impossible." 
in MissBalquidder's countenance as she replied, | " Very well ; I can understand your feelings. 
" Be it so: that is a matter on which no one I beg your pardon," replied Miss Balquidder, 
can judge except yourselfc But on the other also somewhat coldly. 

matter you ask my advice, and i must give it. They sat silent and awkward, and then the 
To maintain two ladies and pay a debt of elderly lady took out a pencil and began to 
eighty pounds out of one hundred a year is 'make calculations in her memorandum book, 
simply impossible." " I am reckoning what is the largest sum 

•' With Johanna's income and mine it will per month that you could reasonably be ex- 
!>o a hundred and twenty pounds and some pected to spare, and how you may make the 
odd shillings a year." » most of what remains. Are you aware that 

'• You accurate girl ! But even with this it London lodgings are very expensive? I am 
can not be done, unless you were Jo live in a thinking that if you were to exchange out of 
manner so restricted in the commonest com the Kensington shop into another I have at 
forts that at your sister's age she would be sure Richmond. I could offer you the first floor a- 
to suffer. You must look on the question bove it for much less rent than yoli pay Mrs. 
from all sides, my dear. You must be just to Jones ; and you could have your sister living 
others as well as to that young man, who with you." 

seems never to — But I will leave him un " Ah ! that would make us both so much 
judged.' - ' ,happier! How good you are!" 

They were both silent for a minute, and then "You will see I only wish to help you to 
Mis« Balquidder said : " I feel certain there is help yourself; not to put you under any obli 
but one rational way of accomplishing the <ration. Though ! can not see any thing so 
thing, if you are hent upon doing it. if yon* very terrible in your being slightly indebted 
own judgment and conscience tell yon i "ugUl to an old woman, who Ray neither chick nor 
to be done. Is it so?" child? and is al perfect liberty to do what she 

"Yes," said Hilary, firmly. likes with her own." 

r fhe old .Scotswoman took her hand with a There was a pathos in the tone which smote 
warm pressure. " Very well. I don't blame Hilary into quick contrition, 
you. I might have done the same myself. '"Forgive me! But I have such a horror or 
Xow to my plan. Miss Leaf, have you known borrowing money — you must know why after 
me long enough to confer on me the benedic- ; .at I have told you of our family. You must 
tion— one of the few tdiat we rick folk possess surely understand — " 
' It is more blessed to give than to receive V "\ "I do fully ; but there are limits even to in« 



82 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



CHAPTER XXI. 



dependence. A person who, for his own pleas- 'and precious to a woman's heart, and getting 
ure, is ready to take money from any body instead only what Hilary now gave her — the 
and every body, without the slightest prospect half-sweet, half-bitter payment ot gratitude, 
or intention of returning it, is quite different ""Well, my bairn, what is to be done?" 
from a friend who in a case of emergency ac-| " I will do whatever you think right," mur- 
cepts help from another friend, being ready and mured Hilary, 
willing to take every means of repayment, 

I knew you were, and meant you to be. J 

meant, as you suggested, to stop out of yom 
salary so much per month, till I had my eighty 
pounds sate back again." 

" But suppose you never had it back? I am It was not a cheerful morning on which to 
young and strong; still I might fall ill — I be married. A dense, yellow, London fog, 
might die, and you never be repaid." the like of which the Misses Leaf had never 

"Yes, I should," said Miss Balquidder, yet seen, penetrated into eveiy corner of the 
with a serious smile. " You forget, my dear parlor at Xo. 15, where they were breakfast- 
bairn, ' Inastkuch as ye have done it to ing drearily by candle-light, all in their wed- 
these little one's, ye havt done it unto me.' ' Me ding attire. They had been up since six in 
thatgivetJi to the poor lendeth to ih< Lord.' 1 morning, and Elizabeth had dressed her three 
have lent Him a good deal at different times, mistresses one after the other, taking exceed 
and He has always paid me back'with usury.'' mg pleasure in the performance. For she* 

There was something at once solemn and a ■ was still little more than a girl, to whom a 
little sad in the way the old lady spoke. Hil j wedding was a weddings and this was the first 
ary forgot her Mvn side of the subject: herjshe had "ever had to do with in her life, 
pride, her humiliation. True, it disappointed her in some things.^ 

" But do you not think. Miss Balquidder.fShe was a little surprised that last evening 
that one ought to work on. struggle on, to the had passed off just like all other evenings, 
last extremity, before one accepts an obliga-jThe interest and bustle of packing soon sub- 
tion, most of all a money obligation?" ed — the packing consisting only of the. 

" I do, as a general principle. Yet money traveling trunk, for the rest of the In 
is. not the greatest thing in this world, that a! went straight to Ruxsell Square, every means 
pecuniary debt should be the worst to bear, having been taken to ignore the very existence 
And sometimes one of the kindest acts you can ;of Xo. 15; and then the three ladies had sup- 
do to a fellow-creature — one that touches and 'per as usual, and went to bed at their custom- 
softens his heart, nay, perhaps wins jt to you ary hour without any special demonstrations 
for life, is to accept a favor from him." ' (of emotion or affection. To Elizabeth thi.- 

Hilary made no reply. was strange. She had not yet learned the 

"I speak a little from experience. 1 have unspeakable bitterness ot a parting where no 
not had a very happy life myself; at least body has any grief to restrai a. 
most people would say so if they knew it : but, < m a wedding morning, of course, there 'is 
the Lord has made it up to me by giving rue no time to be spared lor sentiment. The 
the means of bringing happiness, in money as principal business appeared to be — dressing. 
\\^11 as other ways, to other people. Moat of Mr. Ascojt had insisted on doing his part in 
us have our favorite luxuries: this is mine, making his nev. connections appear "respect - 
I like to do people good : I like, also — though iable " at his marriage, and for Selina's sake 
maybe that is a mean weakness— to feel that they had consented. Indeed, it was inevita- 
I do it. If all whom I have been mad.: in- ble : they had no money whatever to clothe 
strumental in helping had -aid to me, a* you themselves withal. They must either hav< 
have done, ' f will not be helped. I will epted Mr. Ascotfs gifts — in which, to do 

lie made happy." it would have been rather him justice, he was both thoughtful and libe- 
hard for me.' ral — or they must have staid away from the 

And a smile, half humorous, hall pad, came wedding altogether, which they did not like 
o\er the hard-featurned lace, spiritualizing its to do "for the sake of the family." 
whole expression. So. with a sense of doing their last duty by 

Hilary wavered. She compared her own'the sister, who would he. they feh, hencefor- 
lite, happy still, and hopeful, for, all i ft cares, n isternomore, MU ..Hired herself 
'.;. ith that of this lonely woman, whose only in her violet silk and white China shawl, and 
Messing was her riches, except the generous Miss llilarv put on her silver-grey poplin, with 
heart which sanctified them, and made them a cardinal cape, i in fashiou, trim- 
such. Humbled, nay, ashamed, she took and med with white .-■ own. It was rather 
d the kindly hand which has succored 80 an elderly costume for a hridemaid : bin she 
many, yet which, in the inscrutable mystery was determined to dress warmly, and not 
i>t' Providence, had been lelt to go down to the risk, in muslins- and laces, the health which 
grave alone ; missingall that is personal, dear,,to her now was money, life — nay, honor. 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



83 



For Ascott's creditor had been already paid: 
Miss Balquidder never let grass grow ur*der 
her feet. When 11 nary returned to her sisters 
iliat day there was no longer any fear of pub 
lie exposure : she bad the receipt" 
hand, and she was Miss Balquiad 



portrait of our gracious Queen — a large round 
brim, with a wreath of roses inside ; while 
Miss Leaf's was somewhat like it, only with 
little bunches of white ribbon: "for," she 
1 bill in herjsaid, " my time of roses has gone by." But 
ler's debtor!her sweet faded face had a peace that was not 



10 the extent of eighty pounds. in the other two — not even in Hilary's. 

But it was no debt of disgrace or humiliV But the time arrived; the carriage drew up 
tion, nor did she feel it as such. She had^at the door. Then nature and sisterly feeling 
learned the lesson which the largehearted rich asserted themselves for a minute. Miss Seh- 
can always teach the poor; that, while there islna " gave way," not to any loud or indecor- 
sometimes. to some people, no »more gallinglous extent, to nothing that could in the least 
chain, there is to others— and these are the' harm her white satin, or crumple hej laces 
highest natures, too — no more firm and sacrediand ribbons : but she did shed a tear or two 



bond than gratitude. But still the debt was 
there: and Hilary would never feel quite easy 
till it was paid — in money, at least. The gen- 
erosity she never wished to repay. She would 
rather feel it wrapping her round, like an arm 



— real honest tears — kissed her sisters affec- 
tionately, hoped they would be very happy at 
Richmond, and that they would often come to 
see her at Russell Square. 

You know," said she, half apologetically,' 



tHat was heavy only through its exceeding! "it is a" great deal better for one of us at least 



tendemef8, to the end of her days. 



; to be married and settled. Indeed I assure 



Nevertheless she had arranged that therelyou, I have done it all for the good of my 
was to be a regular monthly deduction from family. 1 " 
her salary ; and how. by retrenchment, to And for the time being she devoutly believ- 



make this monthly payment as large as she 
could, was a question which had occupied her- 
self and .Johanna for a good while after they 
had retired to rest. For there was lrb time to 



ed she had. 

So it was all over. Elizabeth herself, from 
the aisle of St. Pancras Church, watched the 
beginning and ending of the show ; a very fine 



be lost. Mrs. Jones must be given notice to; show, with a number of handsomely dressed 
and there was another notice to be given, if people, wedding guests, who seemed to stare 
the Richmond plan were carried Out • another;about them a good deal and take little interest 



sad retrenchment, threading which, when 
Elizabeth brought up supper. Miss Hilary 
could hardly look the girl in the lace, and, 
when she bade her good night, had felt almost 
like a secret conspirator. 

For she knew that, if the money to clear 
this debt was to be saved, they must part with 
Elizabeth. 

No doubt the persona ice would be 

considerable, for Hilary would have to do the 
work of their two rooms with her own hands, 
and give up a hundred little comforts in which 
Elizabeth, now become a most clever and'effi- 
cient servant, had made herself necessary to 
them bdth. But the two ladies did not think 



in either bride or bridegroom. The only per- 
sons Elizabeth recognized were her mistresses 
— Misi Leaf, who kept her veil down and never 
stirred: and Miss Hilary, who. stood close 
behind the bride, listening with downcast eyes 
to the beautiful marriage service. It must have 
touched her more than on her sister's account, 
for a tear, gathered under each eyelash, silently 
rolled down the soft cheek and fell." 

"Miss Hilary's an* angel, and he'll be a 
lucky man that gets her," meditated her faith- 
ful ''bower-maiden" of old; as, a little ex- 
cited by the event of the morning, she stood 
by the mantle-piece and contemplated a letter 
which had come after the ladies departed; one 



of that at the moment ; they only thought of'of these regular monthly Indian letters, after 
the pain of parting with her. They thought' which, Elizabeth was sharp enough to notice, 
of it sorely, even though she was but a servant, Miss Hilary's step always grew lighter and 
and there was a family parting close at hand. i her eye brighter for many days. 
Alas ! people must take what they earn. It 1 " It must be a nice thing to have somebody 
was a melancholy fact that, of the two im- fond of one, and somebody to be fond of," 
pending losses, the person they should miss meditated she. And "old fashioned piece of 
most would be, not their sister, but Elizabeth. [goods " as she was — according to Mrs. Jones 



Both regrets combined made them sit at the 
breakfast table — the last meal they should 
ever take together as a family — sad and sorry, 
speaking about little else than the subject 



(who now, from the use she was in the Jones's 
•', patronized and confided in her ex- 
tremely) some little bit of womanly craving 
after the woman's one hope and crown of 



which presented itself as easiest and upper-bliss crept into the poor maid-servant's heart, 
most, namely, clothes. But it was not for the maid-servant's usual 

Finally, they stood all completely an ayed,i necessity — a "sweetheart" — somebody to 
even to bonnets; Hilary looking wonderfully " keep company with ;" it was rather for some- 
bewitching in hers, which was the very pat-ibody to love, and perhaps take care of a little, 
tern of one that may still be seen.in a youthful | People love according to their natures - and 



84 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



Elizabeth's was a strong nature ; it? principal the result of much "knocking about" ever 
element being a capacity for passionate devo- sindte childhood. Besides, his master, the lit- 
tedness, almost unlimited in extent. Such erary gentleman, who had picked him out of 
women, who love most, are not always, in- the printing office, had taken a deal of pains 
deed very rarely, loved best. And so it was! with him. T^om was, for his station, a very 
perhaps as well that poor Elizabeth should intelligent and superior young man. Not a 
make up her mind, as she did very composed- boy, though he was still under twenty, but a 
ly, that she herself should never be married ; young man: that precocity of development 
but after that glorious wedding of Miss Hila- which often accompanies a delicate constitu- 
ry's to Mr. Lyon, should settle down to take tion, making him appear, as he waB indeed, 
care of Miss Leaf all her days. in mind and character, fully six or seven years 

" And it I turn out only half as good and older than his- real age. 
contented as my mistress, it can't be such a, He was a handsome fellow, too, though 
dreadful thing to be an old maid after ail,' jsmall : dark haired, dark eyed, with regular 
stoically said Elizabeth Hand. and yet sensitive and mobile features. Alto- 

The words were scarcely out of her mouth gether Tom Cliffe was decidedly interesting, 
when her attention was caught by some oneinand Elizabeth took great pleasure in looking 
the passage inquiring for her: yes, actually, at him, and in thinking, with a certain half 
for her. She could hardly believe her eyes motherly, half romantic satisfaction, that but 
when she perceived it was her new-found old for her, and her carrying him home from u#- 
acquaintance, Tom Cliffe. derthe horse's heels, he might, humanly epeak- 

He was dressed very well, out of livery : ing, have been long ago buried in Stowbury 
indeed, he looked so extremely like a gentle- church yard. 

man that Mrs. Jones's little girl took him for " I have a 'church yard cough' at times 
one, called him "Sir," and showed him into still," said he, when speaking of this little 
the parlor. episode of early life. " I don't think 1 shall 

'."All right. I thought this was the house, ever live to be a middle-aged man." Audhe 
Uncommon sharp of me to hunt you out : shook lift head, and looked melancholy and 
wasn't it Elizabeth ?" poetical: nay, even showed Elizabeth some 

But Elizabeth was a little still", flurried, and poetry that he iiimself had written on the sub- 
perplexed. Her mistresses were out; she did ject, which was clever enough in its way. 
not know whether she ought to ask Tom in, es- Elizabeth's intere^grew. An ordinary ba- 
pecially as it must be into the parlor : there ker or butcher boy would not have attracted 
was no other place to take him to. her in the least ; but here was something in 

However, Tom settled the matter with a the shape of a hero, somebody who at once 
conclusive, "Oh, gammon!" — sat himself touched her sympathies and roused her admi- 
Jown, and made himself quite comfortable, ration. For Tom was quite as well informed 
And Elizabeth was so glad to see him — glad as she was herself; more so. indee<J. He was 
to have another chance of talking about dear one of the many shrewd and clever working 
old Stowbury. It could not be wrong : she men who were then beginning to rise up and 
would not say a word about the family, not think for themselves, and educate themselves. 
even tell him she lived with the Misses Leaf He attended classes at mechanics' institutions, 
if she could help it. And Tom did not seem and young men's debating societies; where 
in the least curious. every topic of the day. religion, politics, polit- 

" Now, I call this quite a coincidence. I ,ical economy, was handled freely, as the young 
was stopping at St. Pancras Church to look at i do handle tbese serious things. He threw 
a wedding — some old city fogy who lives in himself, heart and soul, into the new raove- 
Russell Square, and is making a great splash ; ; ment, which, like all revolutions, had at first 
and there I see you, Elizabeth, standingin the its great and fatal dangers, but yet resulted in 
crowd, and looking so nice and spicy — as fresh much good ; clearing the political sky, and 
as an apple and as brisk as a bee. I hummed bringing all sorts of hidden abuses under the 
and hawed and whistled, but I couldn't catch sharp eyes of that great scourge of evil-doers 
your eye: then I missed you, and was vexed — public opinion. 

above a bit, till I saw one like you going in at 1 Yet Elizabeth, reared under the wing of the 
this door, so I just knocked and asked : and conservative Misses Leaf, was a little startled 
here you are ! 'Pon my life, I am very glad when TomjUliff'e, who apparently liked talk- 
to see you." ing and being listened to, gave her a long dis- 

"Thank you, Tom," said Elizabeth, pleas- sertation on ihe true principles of the Charter, 
ed, even grateful for the trouble he had taken and how Frosi. Williams, and Jones — names 
about her: she had so few friends: in truth, all but forgotten now— were very ill-iused men, 
actually none. actual martyrs. She was more than startled 

They began to talk, and Tom Cliffe talked! — shocked indeed — until there came a reaction 

» exceedingly well. He had added to his natu- of the deepest pity — when he confessed that 

ral cleverness a degree of London sharpness, hf never w^nt to church, He saw no use in 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



*oine he said s the parsons were all shams,! So Elizabeth made every thing ready for 
paid lareelv to chatter about what they did them, steadily putting Tom Cliffe out of her 
not understand-; the only real religion waslmind. One thing she was glad of that talk- 
that which a man thought out for himself, andjing so much about his own affairs, he had tor- 
acted out for himself. Which was true enough, (gotten to inquire concerning hers, and was 
though only a hair truth; and innocent Eliz-;9till quite ignorant even of her mistresses 
abeth did not see the other half. name. He therefore could tell no tales of the 

But "she was touched and carried away by I Leaf family at Stowbury. Still she determin- 
the earnestness and enthusiasm of the lad, ed at once to inform Mibs Hilary that he had 
wild, fierce iconoclast as he was, ready to cast been here, but that, if she wished it, he should 
down the whole fabric of Church and State ; never come again. And it spoke well for her 
though without any personal hankering after Resolve, that while resolving she was startled 
lawless rights and low pleasures. His solelo find how very sorry she should feel if lorn 
idol was, as he said, intellect, and that was Cliffe never came again. 



his preservation. 

Also, the fragile health which was betrayed 
in every flash of his eye, every flush of his 
sallow cheek, made Tom Cliffe, even in the 



I know I am painting this young woman 
with a strangely tender conscience, a refine- 
ment of feeling, and a general moral sensitive- 
ness which people say is seldom or never to 



hours he staid with her, come very closelbe found in her rank of life. And why not? 
to Elizabeth's heart. It was such a warm Because mistresses treat servants as servants, 
heart such a liberal heart, thinking so little and not as women ; because in the sharp, hard 
of itself or of its own value. line they draw, at the outset, between them- 

So here bogan to be told the old story, fa-jselves and their domestics, they give no chance 
miliar in kitchens as parlors; but, from the for any womanliness to be developed. And 
higher brin^in^ up of the two parties concern-therefore since human nature is weak, and 
ed, conducted in this case more after the fash- without help from without, a long degradfed 
ion of the latter than the former. class can never rise, sweet-hearts wil 



Elizabeth JIand was an exceptional person, 
and Tom had the sense to see that at once. 
He paid her no coarse attentions, did not at- 
tempt to make love to her : but he liked her, 



come crawling through back entries and down 
at area doors ; mistresses will still have to 
dismiss helpless and fallen, or brazen in ini- 
quity, many a wretched girl who once was in- 



and'he let her see that he did. True, she was nocent ; or, if nothing actually vicious results, 
not pretty, and she was older than he ; but may have many a good, respectable servant, 
that to a boy of nineteen is rather flattering who left to get married, return, complaining 
than otherwise. Also, for there is a law even that her " young man," whom she knew so 
under the blind mystery of likings and fallings J little about, has turned out a drudken scoiin- 
inlove— a certain weakness in him, that weak- drel of a husband, who drives her back to her 
ness which generally accompanies th« poeti-Jold comfortable " place" to beg for herself 
cal nature, clung to the quiet, solid, practica^and her starving babies a morsel of bread, 
strength of hers. He liked to talk and be' lis-. When, with a vivid blush that she could 
tened to by those silent, admiring, gentle gray not repress, Elizabeth told her mistress that 
eyes: and he thought it very pleasant when, (Tom Cliffe had been to see her, the latter re- 
with'a motherly prudence, she warned him to,plied at first carelessly, for her mind was pre- 
be carelul over" his cough, and gave him a occupied. Then, her attention caught by the 
flannel breast-plate to protect his chest against' aforesaid blush, Miss Hilary asked, 
the cold. "How old is the lad?" 

When he went away Tom was so far in love! "Nineteen." 
that, following the free and easy ways of his, "That's a bad age, Elizabeth, loo old to 
class, he attempted to give Elizabeth a kiss: be a pet, and rather too young for a hus- 
but she drew back so hotlv that he begged band." 

her pardon, and slipped away rather con-j " I never thought of such a thing, said 
founded. 'Elizabeth, warmly — and honestly, at the time. 

"That's an odd sort of young woman;! "Did he want to come and see you again ?" 

said he to himself. 



; He said so." 

" Oh, well, if he is a steady, respectable lad 

I should like to 



there'e gomething iu her," t 

" I'll get a kiss, though, by-and-by." 

Meanwhile Elizabeth, having forgotten all there can be no objection, 
about her dinner, sat thinking, actually doingsee him myself next time." 
nothing but thinking, until within half fin j And then a sudden sharp recollection that 
hour of the time when her mistresses might . there would likely be no next time, in their 
«be expected back. They were to go direct tojservice at least, made Miss Hilary feel quite a 
the hotel, breakfast, wait till the newly-mar-hypocrite. 

ried couple had departed, and then come "Elizabeth," said she, "we will speak 
home. They would be sure to be weary, and.about Tom Cliffe— is not that hie name ?■— by- 
*»nt iaeir tea. land-by. Now, as soon as tea is over, eay W- 



86 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



ter wants to talk to you. When you are ready,: "That's right, Elizabeth," said Miss Hila- 
will you come up stairs?" . softly. " All these changes are very bit- 

She spoke in an especially gentle tone, so ter to us also, but we bear them. There is 
that by no possibility could Elizabeth fancy nothing lasting in this world, except doing 
they were displeased with her. right, and being good and faithful and helpful 

Sow, knowing the circumstances of the to one Knottier." 
family, Elizabeth's conscience had often smit- She sighed. Possibly there had been sad 
ten her that she must eat a great deal, that tidings in the letter which she still held in her 
her wages, paid regularly month by month, hand, clinging to ft as we do to ' something 
must make a great*hole in her mistress's in- which, however sorely it hurts us. we would 
cenie. She was, alack! a sad expense, and i,ot ptr: with for the whole world. But there 
she tried to lighten her cost in every possible,was no hopelessness or despair in her tone, 
way. But it never struck her thattheyeould and Elizabeth caught the influence of that 
do without her, or that any need would arise true courageous heart. 

for their doing so. So she went into the par- ' Perhaps you may be able to take me back 
lor quite unsuspiciously, and found Miss Leaf again soon. Ma'am," said she, looking tovvard 
lying on the sofa, and Miss Hilary reading a-jMiss Leaf. "And meantime I might get a 
loud the letter from India. But it was laid place: Mrs. Jones has told me of several:" 
quietly aside as she said, and she stopped, afraid lest it might be found 

"Johanna, Elizabeth is here." out bow often Mrs. Jones had urged her to 

Then Johanna, rousing herself to say what " better herself," and she had indignantly re- 
must be said, but putting itas gently and kjnd- fused. "Or," (a bright idea occurred) " 1 
Iv as she couUl, told Elizabeth, what mistresses bonder if Mi»s Selina. that is. Mrs. Ascott, 
often think it below their dignity to tell to would take me in at Russell Square?" 
servants, the plain truth — namely, that cir- Hilary looked hard at her. 
cumstances obliged herself and Miss Hilary" " Would you really like that?" 
to retrench their expenses as much as they " Yes, I should : for I should see and hear 
possibly could. That they were going to live of yoi. Miss Hilary, if you please,! wish 
in two little rooms at Richmond, where they you would ask Mrs. Ascott to take me." 
would board with the inmates of the house. And Hilaiy, much surprised — for she was 

"And so. and so — " Miss Leaf faltered. Ijt well acquainted with Elizabeth's sentm, 
was very hard to Bay it with those eager eyes toward both Mr. Ascott and the late Miss Se- 
fixed upon her. lina — promised. 

Hilary took up the word — 

"And so, Elizabeth, much as it grieves us.. 

we shall be obl'ged to part with you. We 
cannot any longer afford to keep a servant." 
No answer. 

"It is not even as it was once before, when 
we thought you might do better for yourself, leave her in, if not happiness, great peace. 
We know, if it were possible, you would rath- Peace which, after these stormy months, was 
er stay with us, and we would rather '^eeplan actual paradiefe of calm to both herself and 
vou. It is like parting with one of ou_ jwri Johanna. 

family." And Miss Hilary's voice too 1 failed. Their grief for Ascott had softened down. 
" However, there is no helpWor it : we - Ti c very hopelessness gave it resignation, 
part." There was nothing more to be done; they had 

Elizabeth, recovered from her first bewilder- done all they could, both to find him out and 
ed grief, was on the point of bursting out into to save him from the public disgrace which 
entreaties that she might dp like ma'ny an- might blignt any hope of reformation. Now 
other faithful servant, live withoul put the result must be left in higher hands. 

up with any hardships, rather than he sent Only at times fits of restless trouble would 
away. But something in Miss Hilary's man- come; times when a sudden knock at the door 
ner told her it would be useless — worse than would make Johanna shake nervously tor 
useless, painful: and she would do any thing minutes afterward: when Hilary walked about 
rather than give her mistress pain. When, ev«y where with her mind preoccupied, -and 
utterly unable to control it, she gave vent toiher eyes open to notice every chance passer- 
one loud sob. the expression of acute suffering by : nay. she had sometimes secretly followed 
on Miss Hilary's countenance was such that Town a whole street some figure which, in its 
she determined to sob no more. She felt that, light jaunty stepand long fashionably-cut hair, 
for some reason or other, the thing was inev- reminded her of Ascott. 
itable; that she must take up her burden, Otherwise they were not unhappy, she and 



£SD now 

her 



CHAPTER Xtll. 

Hilarv for a timt 



I leave Miss 



a6 her mistress had done, even though it 
were the last grief of all — leaving that beloved 
mistress. 



her dearest sister. Poor as they were, they 
were together, and their poverty had no sting. 
They knew exactly how much they would .re 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



87 



ceive monthly, and how much they ought to 
spend. Though obliged to calculate e v ery 
penny, still their income and expenses were 
alike certain ; there was no anxiety about 
money matters, which of ifeeli was an inde- 
scribable relief. Also there was that best 
blessing — peace at home. Never in all her 
days had Johanna known such an easy life; 
Hitting quietly in her parlor while Hilary was 
engaged in the shop below; descending to 
dinner, where she took the head of the table, 
and the young people soon learned to treat 
hei with great respect and even affection; 
then waiting lor the happy tea in their own 
room, and the walk afterward, in Richmond 
.Park or along the Thames banks toward 
Twickenham. Perhaps it was partly from the 
contrast to that weary year in London, but 
never, in any spring, had the air seemed so 
balmy, or the trees so green. They brought 
back to Hilary's face the youthful bloom which 
she had begun to lose ; and, in degree, her 
youthful brightness, which had also become 
slightly overclouded. Again she laughed and 
made her little domestic jokes, and regained 
her pretty ways of putting things, so that every 
thing always appeared to have a cheerful, and 
comical, side. 

Also — for while we are made as we are, with 
capacity for happiness, and especially the 
happiness of love, it is sure to be thus — she 
had a little private sunbeam in her own heart, 
which brightened outside things. After that 
sad letter from India which came on Selina'.- 
wedding day, every succeeding one grew more 
cheerful, more demonstrative, nay, even affec- 
tionate; though still with that queer Scotch 
pride of his, that .would ask for nothing till it 
could ask and have every thing, and give 
every thing in return — the letters were all ad- 
dressed to Johanna. 

" What an advantage it is to be an old wo- 
man !" Miss Leaf would so tne times say, mis- 
chievously, when she received them* But 
more often she said nothing, wailing in peace 
for events to develop themselves. She did not 
think much about, herself, and' had no mean 
jealousy over her child : she knew that a right- 
eous and holy love only makes all natural af- 
fections more sacred and more dear. 

And Hilary? She held her head higher 
and prouder; and the spring trees looked 
greener, and the river ran brighter in the sun- 
shine. Ah, Heaven pity us all ! it is a good 
thing to have love in one's life: it is a 
thing, if only for a time, :o beactually h 
Nol merely contented, but happy I 

And so I will leave her. this little woman ; 
and nobody need mourn over her becau- 
■irking too hard, or pity her because < 
obliged to work; has to wear common clothes, 
and live in narrow rooms, and pass on her 
poor weary feet the grand carriages of the 
Richmond gentry, who are not a bit more well- 



born or well-educated**tban she ; who never 
take the least notice of her, except sometimes 
to peer curious at the desk where she sits in 
the shop-corner, and wonder who "that young 
person with the rather pretty curls " can be. 
No matter, she is happy. 

How much happiness was there in the large 
house at .Russell Square? 

The Misses Leaf could not tell ; their sister 
never gave them an opportunity of judging. 

™ My son's my son till he gets him a wife, 
But my daughter's my daughter all her life." 

And so, most frequently, is " my sister." But 
not in this case. It could not be ; they never 
expected it would. 

When on here rare visits to town Hilary 
called at Russell Square she always found 
Mrs Ascott handsomely dressed, dignified, and 
gracious. Not in the slightest degree uncivil 
or unsisterly, but gracious — perhaps a thought 
too gracious. Most condescendingly anxious 
that she should stay to luncheon, and eat and 
drink the best the house afforded, but never 
by any chance inviting her to stay to dinner. 
| Consequently, as Mr. Ascott was always ab- 
sent in the city until dinner, Hilary did not 
see him for months together, and her brother- 
in-law was, she declared, no more to her than 
any other man upon 'Change, or the man in 
the moon, or the Great Mogul. 

His wife spoke little about him. After a 

few faint, formal questions concerning Rich 

mond affairs, somehow her conversation al- 

j ways recurred to her own: the dinners shu 

;had been at, those she was going to give ; hex 

I carriages, clothes, jewelry, and so on. She 

jwas altogether a very great lady, and Hilary, 

as she avouched laughingly — it was, in this 

case, better to laugh than to grieve — felt an 

exceedingly small person beside her. 

Nevertheless Mrs, Ascott showed nounkind- 
ness — nay, among the various changes that 
matrimony had produoed in her, her temper 
appeared rather to have improved than other- 
wise; there was now seldom any trace of that 
touchy sharpness which used to be called 
" poor Seiina's way." And yet Hilary never 
quitted the house without saving to herself, 
with a sigh, tlie old phrase, "Poor Sciin 

Thus, in the inevitable consequences ol 
things, her visits to LiusseJJ Square became 
(fewer and fewer : she kept them up as a duty, 
not exacting any return, for she felt that was 
impossible, though still keeping up the ghost- 
ly shadow of sisterly intimacy. Nevertheless 
Ishe knew well it was leu a shadow; that the 
'only face that looked honest, glad welcome, or 



that she was hone.siiy gla in herbn th- 

er-in-law's In 
E'iizabeth Hand. 



ally 

/as 



er-in-law's house was the under house-maid, 



Contrary to all expectations, Mrs. Ascott 
had consented to take Elizabeth into her ser- 
vice. With many stipulations and warnings 
; never to presume on past relations, never even 



TO 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



to mention Stowbury, on pain of instant die-! made as email as possible, and escaped when- 
missal — still, she did take her, and Elizabeth ever they could. 

staid. At every one of Miss Hilary's visits, ! If this be an exaggerated picture of a state 
lying in wait in the bed chamber, or on thejof things perhaps in degree inevitable — and 
staircase, or creeping up at the last minute to yet it should not be, for it is the source of in- 



open the ball door, was 6ure to appear the 
familiar face, beaming all over. Little con 



calculable evil, this dividing of a house against 
itself — if I have in any way said what is not 



versation passed between them — Mrs. Ascott true, I would that some intelligent " voice 



evidently disliked it ; still Elizabeth looked 
well and happy, and when Miss Hilary told 
her so she always silently smiled 

But this story must tell the whole truth 
which lay beneath that fond acquiescing smile 

Elizabeth was certainly in good health, be- 
ing well fed, well housed, and leading on the 
whole an easy life ; happy, too, when she look- 
ed at Mi6S Hilary. But her migration from 
Mrs. Jones's lodgings to this grand mansion 
had not been altogether the translation from 
Purgatory to Paradise that some would have 
supposed. 

The author ot this simple story having — 
unfortunately for it — neveT been in domestic 
service, especially in the great houses of Lon- 
don, does not pretend to describe the ins and 
outs of their 'high life below stairs;" to re- 
peat kitchen conversations, to paint the hu- 
mors of the servants' hall — the butler and 
housekeeper getting tipsy together, the cook 
courting the policeman, and the footman mak- 
ing love successively to every house-maid and 
ladys'-maid. Some writers have depicted all 
this, whether faithfully or not they know best; 
but the present writer declines to attempt any 
thing of the kind. Her business is solely w^th 
one domestic, the country girl who came un- 



amending what 



from the kitchen " would rise up and tell us 
what is true, and whether it be possible on 
eitheir side to find means oi 
so sorely needs reformation. 

Elizabeth sometimes wanted Tom Cliffe to 
do this — to "write a book," which he, eager 
young malcontent, was always threatening to 
do, upon the evils of society, and especially 
the tyranny of the upper classes. Tom Cliffe 
was the only person to whom she imparted 
her troubles and perplexities : how different 
her life was from that she had been used to; 
how among her fellow-servants there wa6 not 
one who did not seem to think and act in a 
manner totally opposed to every thing she had 
learned from Miss Hilary. How consequent- 
ly she herself was teased, bullied, threatened, 
or at best " sent to Coventry," from morning 
till night. 

" I am quite alone, Tom — 1 am, indeed," 
said she, almost crying, the first Sunday night 
when she met him accidentally in going to 
church, and, in her dreary state of mind, was 
exceedingly glad to see him. He consoled her, 
and even went to church with her, half prom- 
ising to do the same next Sunday, and calling 
her " a good little Christian, who alniost in- 
clined him to be a Christian too." 

And so, with the vague feeling that she was 



expectedly into this new world of London doing him good and keeping him out of harm 
servant-life— a world essentially its own, and!_ tnat lad who had so much that \%as kindlv 
a life of which the upper classes are as igno-j an) j nice about him— Elizabeth consented, not 
rant as they are of what goes on in Madagascar| exact l y to an appointment, but she told him 
and Otaheite. what were her " Sundays out." ami the church 

Thi6 fact was the ftrst which struck the un-;ehe usually attended, if he^liked to take the 
sophisticated Elizabeth. She, who had beenlchance of her being there, 
brought up in a sort of feudal relationship to! Alack! she had so few pleasures; she so 



her dear mistresses, was astonished to find the 
domestics of Kussell Square banded together 
into a community which, in spite of their per- 
sonal bickerings and jealousies, ended in alli- 
ance offensive and defensive against the supe- 
rior powers, wh»m they looked upon as their 
ntaural enemies. Invisible enemies, certainly; 
for "master" they hardly ever saw; and, 
excepting the ladye 
ignorant of " missis.' 

the middle link between the two estates— the fiees, plainness, and stupidity 
person with whom all business was transact 
ed, and to whom all complaints had to be 



seldom got even a breath of outside air — it 
was not thought necessary for servants. The 
only hour she was allowed out was the church- 
going on alternate Sunday evenings. How 
pleasant it was to creep out then, and see Tom 
waiting for her under the opposite trees, dress- 
ed so smart and gentlemanlike, looking so 
handsome and so glad to see her — her, the 
maid, were mostly as' poor countrified Elizabeth, who was t^ttizzeH 
The housekeeper was incessantly by her fellow-servants on her o»M- 



Tom did not seem to think her stupid, for 
he talked to her of all his doings and plan- 
made. Beyond being sometimes talked over,|nings, vague and wild as those of the young 

tailbr in " Alton Locke," yet with a ramau- 
tic energy about them that strongly interested 
his companion ; and he read her his poetry, 
and addresseda few lines to herself, beginning, 

' ; Dearest and best, my long familiar friend ;'' 



generally in a quizzical, depreciatory, or con- 
demnatory way, the heads of the establish- 
ment were no more to their domestics than 
the people who paid wages, and exacted in 
teturn certain duties, which most of them 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



89 



which was rather a poetical exaggeration, But to Elizabeth the whole thing was new, 
since he hud altogether forgotten her in the wonderful ; a bliss so far beyond any thing 
interval of their separation But she neverthat had ever befallen her simple life, and so 
guessed this; and so they both clung to the; utterly unexpected therein, that when she 
early tie, making il out to.be ten times strong-jwent to her bed that night she cried like a 
er than it reallj was. as people do who are child over the happiness of Tom's loving her, 
glad of any excuse for being fond ot one and her exceeding unworthiness of the same, 
another. , Then difficulties arose in her mind. " No 

Tom reallj tting fond of Elizabeth, followers allowed," was one of the strict laws 

She touched the higher half ol his nature — of the Russell Square dynasty. Like many 
the spiritual and imaginative half. That he another law of that and of much higher dy- 
had it, though only a working-man. and she nasties it was only made to be broken ; for 
too, though only a domestic servant, was most' stray sweet-hearts were continually climbing 
true: probably many more of their class hate down area railings, or over garden walls, or 
ir (ban we ore at all aware of. Therefore, hiding themselves behind kitchen doors. Nay, 
these two being special individuals, were at- to such an extent was the system carried out, 
iracted by each other; she by him, because each servant being, from self-interest, a safe 
he whs clever, and he by her, because she was co-conspirator, that very often when Mr, and 
30 good. For he had an ideal,' poor Tom Mrs. Ascott went out to dinner, and the old 
Cliffe ! and though it had been smothered and housekeeper retired to bed, there were regular 
laid to sleep by a not too regular life, it woke symposia held below stairs — nice little supper- 
up again under the kind, sincere eyes of this parties, where all the viands in the pantry 
plain, simple-minded, honest Elizabeth Hand and the wines iu the cellar were freely used ; 

He kueu sh, was plain, and so. old-fashion- where every domestic had his or her "young 
ed iu her dress, thai Tom, who was particular 'man " or "young woman," and the goings-on, 
about such things, did not always like walk- though not actually discreditable, were of the 
ing with her: but, she was so interesting and most lively kind. 

true: she sympathized with him so warmly ; I To be cognizant of these, and yet to feel 
fie found her >o uufailingly and unvaryingly that, as there was no actual wickedness going 
good to him through all the littic humors andjon, she was not justified in "blabbing," was 
pe:> that almosi always accompany a severe and peipetual trial to Elizabetb. To 

large brain, a nervous temperament, and join them, or bring Tom among them as her 
delicate health. Her quietness soothed him,f"young man," was impossible. 

ir strength of character supported him; he; " No, Tom," she said, when'he begged hard 
ied on her, and ruled over her. to come in one evening — for it was raining 
to Elizabeth's feeliugs toward Tom, theylfast, and he had a bad cough — "No, Tom, 1 
will hardly bear analyzing : pi hardly [can't let you. If other folks break the laws 

any strong emotion will, especial!; of '.he house, I won't — you must go. I can 

not sudden but progressive. She admired only meet you out of doofe." 
him extremely, and yet she was half sorry for] And yet to do this surreptitiously, just as if 
him. Some things in him she did not at alltahe were ashamed of him, or as if there were 
like, and tried heartily to amend. II is ner something wrong in their being foud of one 
vous fancies, irritations, and vagaries she was another, jarred upon Elizabeth's honest na- 
excK'dingiy tender over; she looked up to ture. She did not want to make a show of 
him. and yet took (are of him: this thought him, especially to her fellow-servant* : she 
ot bim, and anxiety over him, became by de- had the true "woman's instinct of liking to 
grees the habit of her life. 1'eople love in so, keep her treasures all to herself; but she had 
many different v. .id perhaps that was also her sex's natural yearning tor sympathy 

the natural way in which a woman like Eliz-.in the great event of a woman's life. She 
.abeth would love, or creep into love withourfwould have liked to have somebody unto 
knowing it, which is either the safest or the whom she could say, "Tom has asked me to 
-addest form which the. passion can assume, marry him," and who would have answered 

Thus things went on, 'ill one dark, rainy 'cordially. " It's all right; heie a good, fellow: 
Sum ight, walking round and ronrid the you are sure *.< be happy." 

• ■- Not thai sin dvubud thio ; but it would 

ieeling-. At first, in somewhat high dowyihave been an additional comfort lo have a 
and poetical phrases. then melting into tjie one, mother's blessing, or a sister's, or even a 
eternally old and eternally new, "Do vqu love friend's, .upon this strange and sweet emotion 
me?" followed by a long, long kiss,' given; which had come into her life. So long as il 
under shelter of the umbrella, and in mortal; .va- thus kept secret there seemed a certain 
fear of the approaching policeman ; who, how-' : ompleteness and unsanctity about even 
ever, never saw them, or saw them only a ... ir happy love. 

"pair of sweethearts" — too common an oc-j Tom did not comprehend this at all. He 
currence on his beat to excite any attention. (only laughed at her for feeling so "nesh'' 



90 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



(that means tender, sensitive— but the word' she, with great Belt denial, insisted on getting 
is almost unexplainable to other than Stov-'rid of Tom for : me. She thought Miss 
bury ears) on the subject. He liked the ro- ! Hilary might ry»i *mite like Tom's knowing 
rnance and excitement of secret courtship— where she lived, or what her occupation was, 
men often do : rarelv women, unless there isilest he might gossip about it to Stowburv peo- 
something in them not quite right, not entire- pie; so she determined to pay her visit by 



lv womanly 
But Tom was very considerate, and though 



herself, and appointed to meet him at a 
tain hour ©n Kichmond Bridge, over which 
he called it "silly," and took a little fit °of bridge she watched him march sulkily, not 
crossness on the occasion, he allowed Eliza-! without a natural pleasure that he should be 
beth to write to mother about him, and con- so much vexed at losing her company tor 
sented that on her nextholidav she should go! hour or two. But she knew lie would soon 
to Richmond,! in order to speak to Miss Hila- come to himself— as he did, before he had 
ry on the same subject, and ask her also to been half a mile on the road to Hampton 
write to Mrs. Hand, stating how stood and Court, meeting, a young fellow he knew, and 
clever Tom was, and how exceedingly happy 'going with him over that grand old palace, 
was Tom's Elizabeth. which furnished them with a subject at their 

" And won't vou come and fetch me, Tom V next debating society I hey both came 

asked she, shyly. "I am sure Miss Hilary out very strong on the question of hypocriti- 
would not object, nor Miss Leaf neither." " cal priests and obnoxious kings, with especial 

Tom protested he did not care two straws reference to Henry \ III. and Cardinal \\ ol- 
whether they objected or not ; he was a man sey. 

of twenty, in a good trade— he had lately Meanwhile Elizabeth went in search of the 
"one back to the printing, and being a clever little shop— which nobody need expect to find 
workman, earned capital wages. He had a at Richmond now— bearing the well-known 
right to'choose whom he liked, and marry name "Janet Bal judder. " Entering it. tor 
when he pleased. If Elizabeth didn't care there was no private door, she saw, in the far 
for him, she might leave him alone. ner above the curtained desk, the pretty 

- Oh, Tom !" was all she answered, with a curls of her dear Miss Hilary, 
strange gentleness that no one could have be-; Elizabeth had long known that her mistr. 
lieved would ever have come into the manner ." kept a shop," and with the notions ot gen- 
of South Sea Islander. And quitting the sub- tilitv which are just as rife in her class as in 
ject then, she afterward persuaded him, and any other, had mourned bitterly over this 
not for the first time, into consenting to what fact. But when she saw how fresh and web 
she thought right. There is something rather the young lady looked, how busily and cheer- 
touching in a servant's holiday. It comes so fully, she seemd to work with her great books 
seldom. She must count on it for so long be- before her, and with what a compose 
forehand, and remember it for so long after-jand dignity she came forward when asked for, 
ward. This. present writer owns to a strong Elizabeth secretly confessed that not ev6n 
sympathy* with the holiday-makers on the keeping a shdp had made or could make the 
"■rand gala-days or" the English calendar. It; smallest difference in Miss Hilary, 
fs a pleasure to" watch the innumerable grOu She herself was much moi 



of fa mil 

lands, 



ilv folk, little children, and prentice! " Why, Elizabeth, I should hardly h. 

known you!" was the involuntary exclama- 

-''firesstfd in all thoir best, tiOD of her late mistress. 

To walk abroad with Sally." gh4 certainly did look sen- nice : not smart 

And the various "Sallys" and their cOrrtee tor her sober taste preferred quiet colore — 

ponding swain- can hardly feel more regret but excessively neat and well-dressed. In her 
than she when it happens"to be wet weather new gown of gray "cobnrg," her one hand- 
on Easter week or at Whitsuntide. some shawl, which had been honored several 
Whit-Mondav, the day wlieu Tom escaped times by Miss Hilary's wearing, her white 
from the printing-office, and Elizabeth gotlstfaw bonnet and white ribbons. Underlie 
leave of absence for six hours, was as glorious which the smooth black hair and soft eyes 
a June dav as well could be. As the two showed to great advantage, she appeared, not 
young people perched themselves on the jike a lady"— a servant can seldom do that 
of the Richmond omnibus, and .-rove tin- her dress b i ' so fine— but like a tho- 
fveiisington, Hammersmitlf, Turnham Green, 'roughly're pectable, intelligent, and pleasant- 
and over Kew Bridge — Tom pointing out all laced young woman. 

the places, and giving much curious informa- And her ' rid went so fast, she 

tion about them— Elizabeth thought there was so nervous an i i beamingly happy, 

never was a more beautiful country, or a i more that Miss Hilary soon suspected there v 
lovely summer day: she was. she truly said, more in this visit than at first appea 
"a- hapuy as a Queen." Knowing that with Elizabeth's^rea* ehyn 

Xcverthless, when the omnibus propped, the mystery would never come out in public. 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



91 



om 

•serve 



she took an opportunity of asking her to helpT have only to give my good wishes. Jf T 
her in the bedroom, aad there, with the fold- Cliffe deserves you, I aui sure ^you <*(ese 
ing-doort- safely .-liui. red the whole him, and I should like to tell him so." 

ret. "Should you, Miss Hilary?" and with a 

Mi^- Hilary was", a good deal surprised at visible brightening up Elizabeth betrayed 
first. Sli'e had never though) of Elizabeth as 'loin's whereabouts, and her little conspiracy 
likely to <?et married at all — and to Tom to bring him here, and her hesitation lest it 
Cliffe. 'might be "intruding." 

•• Why, isn't he a mere boy ; ever so much! " Not at all. Tell him to come at once. I 
vountrer" than you* are *?" - am not like my sister ; we. always allow ' fol- 

■■ Three years." lowers.' 1 think a mistress stands in the re- 

•' That is'a pity— a great pity : women grow dat ion of a parent, for the time being: and 
old so much faster than men.'"' that can not be a light or good love which is 

" I know that," said Elizabeth, somewhat concealed from her, as if it were a thing to be 
sorrowfully. ashamed of." 

" Besides, did you not tell me he was very " 1 think so too. And I'm not a bit asham- 
handsome and clever?" ed of Tom, nor he of me," said Elizabelh, so 

"Yes: and I'm neither the one nor the energetically that Miss Hilary smiled, 
other. I havp thought all that over too, many! "Very well; take him to have his tea in 
a time: indeed I have. Miss Hilary. But the kitchen, and then bring him upstairs to 
Tom likes me— or fancies he does. TJo you speak to'my sister and me." 
think" — and the intense humility which true At thfft interview, which of couise was 
love always has, struck into Miss Hilary's rather trying, Tom acquitted himself to every 
own conscious heart a conviction of how very body's satisfaction. He was manly, modest, 
true this poor girl's love must be. " Do you self-possessed: did not say much — his usual 
think he is mistaken ? that his liking me — I talkativeness being restrained by the circum- 
mean in that sort of way — is quite impossi- 1 stances of the case, and the great impression 
ble?" made upon him by Miss Hilary, who, he af- 

"Xo, indeed, and 1 never said it: never terward admitted to Elizabtth, " was a real 
thought it.'' was the earnest reply. "But angel, and he should write a poem upon her.'' 
consider: three 3 ears younger than yourself ; But the little he did say gave the ladies a very 
handsomer and cleverer than you are — " good impression of the intelligence and even 

Miss Hilary stopped : it seemed so cruel to refinement of Elizabeth's sweet-heart. And 
say such things, and yet she felt bound to say though they were sorry to see him look so 
them. She knew her former "bower-maiden" delicate, still there was a something better 
well enough to be convinced that if EIizabeth|than handsomeness in his handsome iace. 
were not happy in 
worse than unhappy 



she would be 
might grow actually 
bail . — 

•' lie loves you now ; von are sure of that; 
but are you sure that he is a thoroughly stable 
and reliable character? Do 
will love von always?" 



which made them not altogether surprised at 
Elizabeth's being so fond of him. 

As she watched the young couple down 
Richmond Street, in the soft summer twilight 
— Elizabeth taking Tom's arm, and Tom draw- 
on I relieve he ing up his stooping figure to its utmost extent, 
both a little ill-matched in height as thev were 



•■ 1 can't tell. Perhaps — if 1 deserved it," in some other things, but walking with that 
said poor Elizabeth. air of perfect confidence and pei feet con tented- 

And, looking at the downcast eyes, at the ness in each other which always betrays, to a 
thorough womanly sweetness and tender- quick eye, those who have agreed to walk 
which suffused the whole face, Hilary's through the world together — Miss Hilary 
doubts began to melt away. She thought how turned from the window and sighed, 
sometimes men, captivated by inward rather 
than outward graces, have fallen in love with _______ 

plain women, or women older than the 
selves, and actually kept to their attachment 
through lite, with a fidelity rare as beautiful. 
Perhaps this young fellow, who seemed by all Following Miss Hilary's earnest advice 
accounts superior to his class — having had;that every thing should be fair and open, 
the sense to choose that pearl in an oyster- Elizabeth, on the very next day after that 
shell, Elizabeth Hand — might also have thejhappy Whit-Monday, mustered up her cour- 
sense so appreciate her, and go on loving her age, asked permission to speak to her mistress, 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



to the end of his days, Anyhow, he loved 
her now, and she loved him ; and it was use- 
less reasoning any more about it. 

Come, Elizabeth," cried her mistress, 



and told her she was goingyto be married to 
Tom Cliffe: not immediately, but in a year's 
time or so, if all went well. 
Mrs. Ascott replied sharply that it was no 



cheerfully, " I have said all my say, and nowlaffair of hers, and she could dot be troubled 



92 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



about it. For her part she thought, if servants! which " the rows up stairs" became a favor- 
knew theirnown advantages, they would keepiite joke in the servants' hall, 
a good place when they had it, and never get; But still Mr. Ascott went out daily after 
■ married at all. And then, saying she had breakfast, and came home to dinner ; and 
heard a good character of her from the house- Mrs. Ascott spent the morning in her private 
keeper, she offered Elizabeth the place of sitting room, or "boudoir," as she called it; 
upper house-maid, a young girl, a protegee of. lunched, and drove out in her handsome car- 
the housekeeper's, being substituted in hers, riage, with her footman behind ; dressed ele- 

" And when you have sixteen pounds a year, : gantry for dinner, and presided at her own 
and somebody to do all your hard work for table with an air of magnificent satisfaction in 
you, I dare say you'll think better of it, and all things. She had perfectly accommodated 
not be so foolish as to go and get married.'' 'herself to her new position ; and if under her 

But Elizabeth had her own private opinion jsatins and laces beat a solitary, dissatisfied, 
on that matter. She was but a woman, poor or aching heart, it was nobody's businpss but 
thing! and two tiny rooms of her own. with her own. At least, she kept up the splendid 
Tom to care for and look after, seemed a far sham with a most creditable persistency. 
happier home than that great house, where But all sharps are dangerous things. Be 
she had not only her own work to do, but the the surface ever so smooth and green, it will 
responsibility of teaching and taking charge ot crack sometimes, and a faint wreath of smoke 
that careless, stupid, pretty Esther, who had betray the inward volcano. The like had 
all the forwardness, untidiness, und unconeci- happened once or twice, as on thecfay when 
entipusneas of a regular London maid-servant, the men-servants were so intensely amused, 
and was a sore trial to the staid, steady Eliza-' Also Elizabeth, when putting in order her 
beth. mistress's bedroom, which was about the hour 

_ Tom consoled her. in his careless but aft'ec- ^ r - A-Scott left for the city, had several times 
tionate way : and another silent consolation ! see ? ^T 8 - Ascoti come in there suddenly. 
was the 'little bits of things," bought out 6fl wn ite an ^ trembling. Once, so agitated was 
her additional v^iges, which she oegan to put s * )e > tuat Elizabeth had brought her a glass of 



by in her box— sticks and straws for th 



e new 



water; and instead of being angry or treating 



sweet nest that was a-buildinc : a metal tea- ner w ' tn t,ne distant dignity which she had 
pot, two neat glass salt-cellars, and, awful ex- /ilways kept up, her mistress had said, almost 
travagance !— two real second-hand silver * n tne °' d Stowbury tone, " Thank you, Eliz- 
spoons— Tom did so like having things nice abeth." ' 

about him! These purchases, picked^up at However. Elizabeth had the wisdom to take 
stray times, were solid, substautial and useful: u0 "Otice, but to slip from the room, and keep 
domestic rather than personal : and all with lier own counsel. 

a view to Tom rather than herself. She hid At last one day the smouldering domestic 
them with a magpie-like closeness, for Esther earthquake broke out. There was " a pre- 
and she shared the same room ; but sometimes C]0Uii g 00 '^ row." the footman suspected, at the 
when Esther was asleep she would peep at| breakfast-table ; and after breakfast, Master, 
them with an anxious, lingering tenderness,' without waiting tor the usual attendance of 
as if they made more of an assured reality!** 18 * fractionary, with his hat and gloves and 
what even now seemed so veiy like a dream a Hansom cab had flung himself out at the 

-Except, indeed, on those Sundav nights \¥ l ] doot \ slammin g j 1 after bim with a noise 
when Tom and she went to church together tha WS? d . t ^ e ,, W 1 ho , , 1 e J 10 J U8e ' &h< ? rt1 ^, after : 
and afterward took a walk, but always parted ward . J} ISS} ** bell had rung violently, and 
at thecorner of the square. She never brought* , had . found ^'"S on the floor of her 
him in to the house, nor spoke of him to her' ■ , om m a ead faint ' her maid ' a foohsh 
fellow servants. How much they guessed ofi 1Ut i? Fr . e . n ? hwoman ' screaming over her. 
her engagement she neither knew nor cared {he lightened servants gathered round in 

-w- .„ .. , j , . a cluster, but nobodv attempted to touch the 

J£»*i* St * , apparency quite tor- 00r Iady who ]av ' ; id and ^elplees, hearing 

gotten it. She seemed to take as little interest none o{ " the comm ents that were freely made 
in her servants affairs as they in hers. up0D her> or the ( , enjectureg a8 to wha t Master 

iNeyeitheless, ignorant as the lower regions: had done or said that produced this state ol 



were in general of what was passing in the 
upper, occasionally rumors began to reach the 
kitchen that ' 



things. Mistress she. was, and these four or 
five woman, her servants, had lived in her 



kitchen that " Maste,i had been a-blowing up house for months, but nobodv loved her: no 
Missis, rather !" And once, after the solemn ibodv knew anv thing about her; nobodv 
dinner, with three footmen to wait on twolthought of doing aught for her, till a kitchen- 
people, was over, Elizabeth, passing through' maid, probably out of former experience in 
the hah, caught the said domestics laughing some domestic emergency, suggested, "Fetch 
together, and saying it was "as good as a' Elizabeth." 



play ; cat and dog was nothing to it." After! The- advice was eagerly caugnt at, every 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



93 



body being so thankful to have the responsi- 
bility shifted to some other body's shoulders ; 
so in five minutes Elizabeth had the room 
cleared, and her mistress laid upon the bed, 
with nobody near except herself and the French 
maid. 

By-and-by Mrs. Ascott opened her eyes. 

'• Who's that? What are you doing to 
me ?" * 



ness, the certain punishment of such a Marri- 
age, even this woman was not proof against 
the glorious mystery of maternity, which 
should make every daughter of Eve feel the 
first sure hope of her first born child to be a 
sort of Divine annunciation. 

Mrs. Ascott lay listening to Elizabeth. 
Gradually through her shut eyelids a few quiet 

tears began to flow. . 
Netting, ma'am. It's only me-Ehza- „ m * ou mind me talki tQ you ^ wfty 

a.\i t« ir a- • u. ma'am?" 

At the familiar soothing voice the poor wo- „ N nQ , ^ whafc ]ike< 1>m ]ad 

man-a poor wretched forlorn woman she t h ' h J t ak to Qh , ^ a 

looked, ying there, in spite of all her grandeur misera bl e woman!" • 

— turned feebly round. / * 

"Oh, Elizabeth, I'm so ill! take care of' Strange that Selina Ascott ehould come to 
me." And she fainted awav once more. betray, and to Elizabeth Hand, ol all people, 

It was some time before she came quite to | that 8he was a "miserable woman." But 
herself, and then the first thing she said was circumstances bring about unforeseen confi- 
to bid Elizabeth bolt the door and keep every! dences : and the confidence once given is not 
bod v out. easily, recalled. Apparently the lady did not 

" The doctor, ma'am, if he comes r" l wi8n t0 reca11 iL ln the sohtude of her splert- 

" I'll not see him. J don't want him. l! dld house, in her total want of all female com- 



panionship — for she refused to have her sisters 
sent for — " he would only insult them, and I'll 
not have my family insulted " — poor Selina 
clung to her old servant as the only comfort 
she had. 

During the dreary months 
when, during the long, close 
the sick lady scarcely stirred 
room, and, fretful, peevish, 
most of what to women in general are such 
patiently borne and sacred sufferings, Eliza-* 
beth was her constant attendant. She hu- 



that followed, 
summer dayr», 
from her bed- 
ma^e the very 



know what it is. I — " 

She pulled Elizabeth closer to her, whisper 
ed something in her ear, and then burst into 
a violent fit of hysterical weeping. 

Amazed, shocked, Elizabeth at first did not 
know what to do ; then she took her mistress's 
head on her shoulder, and quieted her by de- 
grees almost as she would a child. The sob- 
bing ceased, and Mrs. Ascott lay still a minute, 
till suddenly she clutched Elizabeth's arm. 

" Mind you don't tell. He doesn't know, 
and he shall not; it would please him so. It 
does not please me. Sometimes I almostj mored a11 her whims, endured all her ill-tern- 
think I shall hate it because it is his child." ;P er §> cheered her in her low spirits, and was. 

She spoke with a fierceness that was hardly ! in fact > lier mistress's sole companion and 
Oi edible either in the dignified Mrs. Peter; fr'end. 

Ascott or the languid Miss Selina. To thinkj Thls position no one disputed with her. i i 
of Miss Selina expecting a babv ! The idea ' s nofc every woman who has, as Miss Leal 
perfectly confounded poor Elizabeth. nsed to ' sa >' ° r Elizabeth, "a genius for nura- 

"I don't know very much about such mat- ln g ;'' and very few patients make nursing a 
ters," said she, depre'catingly ; "but I'm sure ,j labor 1 of love. The whole household were 
ma'am, you ought to keep yourself quiet, and considerably relieved by her taking a respon- 
I wouldn't hate the poor little baby if I were lability for which she was so well fitted and ao 
you. It may be a very nice little thing, andll'ttle envied. Even Mr. Ascott, who, when 
turn out a great comfort to you." his approaching honors could no longer be 

Mrs. Ascott lifted her heavy eyes to the concealed from him, became for the nouce a 
kindly, sympathetic, womanly face— thorough most attentive husband, and succumbed duti- 
woman, for, as Elizabeth went on, her heart fu Hy toeveiy fancy his wife entertained, openly 
warmed with the strong instinct which comes expressed his satisfaction in Elizabeth, and 
a ] m08 t of itself. 'gave her one or two bright golden guineas in 

'Think, to have a tiny little creature lying. e a.™est of his gratitude, 
here beside you ; something your very own, How far she herself appreciated her new and 
with its pretty face looking so innocent and | important position ; whether her duties were 
sweet at you, and its pretty fingers touchingdone from duty, or pity, or that determined 
you." Here Elizabeth's voice quite falteredlself-devotedness which some women are al- 
over the picture she had drawn. "Oh, ma'am, i ways ready to carry out toward any helpless 
I'm sure you would be so fond of it." thing that needs them, I can not say, for she 

Human nature is strong. This cold, selfish; never told. Not even to Miss Hilary, who at 
woman, living her forty years without any : last was permitted to come and pay a formal 
strong emotion, marrying without love, and visit; nor to Tom Cliffe, whom she now saw very 
reaping, not in contrition, but angry bitter- 1 rarely, for her mistress, with characteristic 



u 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



selfishness, would hardly let her out of her tleness came over her. Tier fretful dislike 
sight for half an hour. ing ce about her but Elizabe 

Tom at first was exceedingly savage atthi? : became less. She even endured her husband's 
1 1\ degrees he gbl more reconciled, and met company for an hour of an evening; and 
his sweet-heart now and then for a few min-'last humbled her pride enough to beg him t 
utes at the area gate, or*wrote her long poeti- invite her sisters to Bus are from Sa 

cal letters, which he confided to some of her urday to Monday, the only time when Hilar 
fellow-servants, who thereby got acquainted could be spared. 

with their secret. But it mattered little, as tf For we don't know what may happen. 
Elizabeth had faithfully- promised that, when said she to him, rather seriously, 
her mistress's trial was over, and every thing And though he answered, " Oh, nonse) 
smooth and happy, she would marry Tom at and desired her to get such ridiculous fancie 
once. So she took the jokes b»low stairs with oat of her head, still he consented, and him 
great composure: feeling, indeed, too proud, self wrote to Miss Leaf, giving the formal in-. ' 
and content to perplex herself much about vitation. 

any thing. The three sisters spent a happy time tu- I 

Nevertheless, her life was no f , easy, for Mrs. gether, and Hilary made some highly appie- | 
Ascott was very difficult to manage. She re- ciated family jokei about the handsoi • 
-isted angrily all the personal sacrifices entail- Christmas box that Selina was going to be >o j 
ed bv impending motherhood, and its terrors kind as to give them, and the small proba- 
and forebodings used to come over her, — poor bility that she would have much enjoyment oil 
weak woman that she was!— in a way that the Christinas dinner to whjch Mr. Ascott. inij 
required all Elizabeth's reasonings to counter- the superabundance ot his ;g, had;! 

act, and all her self-control to hide the pre- invited his sisters-in-law. The baby, I ! 

sentiment of evil, not unnatural under the cir- innocent 1 seemed to have softened down albj 
oumstani , things — as babies often do. • 

Yet sometimes poor Mrs. Ascott would take' Altogether, it was with great cheort'uli 
fits of pathetic happiness: when she busied affectionateness, and hope that they toolH 
herself eagerly over the preparations for the leave of Selina : she, with unwonted conside- 
new-comer: would make Elizabeth take out, ration, insisting that the carriage shot, 
over and over again.thelittleclothes, and exam- vey them all the way to Richmond. 
ine them with" childish delight. Sometimes "And," she said,," perhaps some of thesJi 
she would gossip for hours over the blessing days my son. if he - may have theJj 

that was sent to her so late in life — hall- pleasure of escorting his aunts home. ! shall! 
regretting that it had come so late: that she certainly call him • Henr.j Leaf,' and brings 
should be almost an old woman before her him up to be in every way a credit to onrji 
little son or daughter was grown up. family." 

"Still. I may live to see it, you know: to; When the ladies were away, and Mrs. As-' 
have a pretty girl to take on my arm into a cott had retired to bed. it \ II only nine j 

fall-room, or a big fellow to send to College: o'clock, mid n bright moonlight night. KliS 
the Leafs always wen; to College in old tin bought she could steal down sta ; r- :md 

He shall be Henry B-fif Ascott. that I am try to get a breath of iresh air round lljH 
determined on: and it i;'s a girl, perhaps 1 square. Her long confinement mndp her afl 
mav call her Johanua. My sister wouM like most sick sometimes for a • the outer! 

it : wouldn't sh world. of-— let me t ntire trutM 

For more and more, in the strange sotten- — her own faithfud Tom. 
ing of her nature, did Selina go baefc to the She had not seen him now for fourteen dayiT 
Old ti and though his letters were very nice and e^ 

" I am noi older than my mother was when ceedii .er, still she craved for a look 

Hilary was born. She died, but that was be-! his face, a grasp of his hand, perhaps even 
causeof trouble. 'Womejt do not m id close and tender, such i 

dm in childbirth even at forty : and in twenty Would sometimes insist upon giving her, T 
years more I shall onl; ty — not such a spite of all policemen. His love for her, dfl 

very old woman. Besides, motheis never are Demonstrative n~ was his nature, had become toj 
old": at least not to their children. Don't you this still, quiet girl inexpressibly fur 

think so. Elizabeth isweeter than she knew. 

And Elizabeth answered as Bbe be.-t could. It v.- ar winter night, and the nioofl 

She too, out of sympathy or instinct, was be- went climbing over the fleecy wh'te cloudy J 
coming wondrous wise. " ay that made beauty even in Russell $quaJ 



But I am aware all this will be thought Elizabeth 
very uninteresting, except by women and how Tom 



ooked up at the sky. and thoujM 
would have enjoyed it. and wished 

mothers. Let me hasten on. were beside her, and was so glad to thuM 

By degrees, as Mrs. Ascott's hour ap-ne would soon be beside her always, with all; 

proached, a curious tranquility and even gen-jhis humors and weaknesses, all his little cross 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 95 

id complainings : she could put upjwhose only pride came through love, have no- 
all, and be happy through all, it' only 6he tiling left them except rage. In a moment all 
had th her and loving 1 their thin robes of happiness are lorn off; they 

■ her, though fitful and fan< id shivering, naked and helpless before the 

: real tli I become blasts of the bitter world, 

of her lift. Ashe always told her This was Elizabeth's l!ter the first • 

after he had had. one of his little instant of stunned bewilderffi< til and despair 
with her— hi to him. • took it all quite naturally, as if it were a 

Foni, 1 wonder how h" gets on with- .thing which she ought all along to have known 
oiu me ! Well, it won't be for lo s sure to happen, and which was no more 

And she wished shecould have let him know than she expected and deserved. 
she was out here, that they might have had a She passed the couple, still unobserved b> 
ken mini them, and then walked round the other side 

sciously she walked toward their of the square, deliberately home. 
usualtryfting-place, alargeoverhangingplane- I am not. going to make a tragic heroine of 
tree on "the Keppel Street corner of the squarte.jthis poor servant girl. Perhaps, people may 
surely, that could not be Tom ! say, there is nothing tragic about the incident. 
, hie. for he was not alone. Two 'Merely a plain, quiet, old-fashioned woman, 
■ pie, a young man -and a young womanfwbo is so foolish as to like a handsome young 
d at the tryst, absorbed in conversation : swain, and to believe in him, and tb be sur- 
ly sweethearts, for he had one arm j prised when he deserts her .for a pretty girl of 
round her, and he I r unresisted eeve- eighteeu. All quite after the way things go 

ral tirni on in the world, especially in the servaUt- 

almost doubting world : and the best she can do is to get over 
the evidence of her own Forlfce voung it, or take another sweetheart as quickly as 

n's figure isively likT Tom's, possible. A very common story after all, and 

At length, with the Bort of feeling that makes more of a farce than a tragedy. 

»o steadily up to a shadow by the roadside, But there are some farces which, if you look 
that we feel sure, ijwc stare underneath the surface, have a good many of 
it out, will prove to be a mere imagination, she ths elements of tragedy. 

walked deliberately up to and past these! I shall neither paint Elizabeth tearing her 

own hair nor Esther's, nor going raging about 

They did not see her: they were far too'the square in moonlight in an insane fit oi' 

much occupied with one another ; but she saw jealousy. She was not-given to "fits" under 

them, and saw at once that it was Tom, Tom's any circumstances, or about any thing. All 

own self, and, with him her fellow-servant, she felt - into her heart, rooted 

elf, and either blossomed or cankered there. 
People may write volumes on jealousy, and On this night she. as 1 said, walked round 
volume till remain to be written. It is the square to her home : then quietly went up 

tto remorse for guilt, the sharpest, sorest, stairs to her garret. lOefted 
y torment that human nature down upon her bed. 

She might have sat there lor an hour. or 

om the boxes atourlmore, her bonnet and shawl still on, without 

may laugh at the stirring, without crying, altogether cold and 

heart-burnings between Cousin Kate and hard like a stone, when eied *he heard 

Lucy in the ball-room, or the squabbles her mi-' tell ring, and mechanically rose 

of Mary and Sally in the kitchen over the up and went down o listen. Nothing 

1^1 : but there f he thing*remains. was wanted, bo she returned to her garret and 

A man can ™ot make love to two women, a crept to bed in the. darkl 

svemioii can not i ith two men. without When soon afterward Esther likewise came 

ing in d at horrible lizabeth pretened to be asleep. 

as death, which is at the. root of half th ily once, taking ^ stealthy glance at the 

id the cause of half the crimes of this pretty girl who stood combing her hair at the 

looking-glass, she was conscious of a sick sense 

rent fori In like a knife running thro' 

pomei »uag lips which Tom 

ordeal by red-hoi irons, which though n d just been kissing, :ht figure which 

jal, undermines the whole character, and burns he had clasped as he used tc her. But 

ineffaceable ecarS into the soul. And people she neve- e word. 

take it in various way- — some I roused by the 

■_• of wounded self-love: others haugh- nurse coming to her Mjrs. Ascotl 

tily : was very ill, and Elizabeth. 

vobe, I'll ' on the whole establisl i confusion. 

Others, again, humble, self-distrustful natures, and in the .sharp struggle between birth and 



96 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



death Elizabeth had no time to think of any! And Elizabeth had just answered, "Yea" — 
thing but her mistress. no more. 

Contrary to every expectation, all ended During tbe fortnight she had seen nothing 
speedily and happily ; and before he went off 'of Tom. He had written her a short note or 
to the City next day the master of the house, two, and the cook told her he had been to the 
frhb, in the midst of his anxiety and felicity, kitchen door several times asking for her, but 
had managed to secure a good night's sleep being answered that she was with her mistress 
and a good breakfast, had the pleasure of up stairs, had gone away, 
sending off" a special messenger to the Tinus " In the sulks, most like, though he didn't 
office with the notification, " The Lady of Pe- look it. He's a pleasant spoken young man, 

and I'm sure I wish you luck with him," said 
[Cookie, who. like all the other servants, was 
|now exceedingly civil to Elizabeth. 

Her star had risen ; she was considered in 
, the household a most fortunate woman, li 
was shortly understood that nurse- majestic 



ter Ascott, Esq., of a son and heir." 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



\ fortnight s time rather increased thannurse, had spoken so highly of her, that at the 



diminished the excitement incident on the I month's end the baby was to be given entirely 
event at Russell Square. 

Never was there such a wonderful 



[i#to her charge, with, of course, an almost 



and never was there such a fuss made ov 



babv fabulous amount of wages, 
ver it! I " Unless." said Mrs. Asc 



cott, when this pro- 




...x. o^- apprehensions of its dyi_, 

had been baptized in a great hurry, "Henrv willing to get married, and think you would 

Leaf Ascott." according to the mother's desire, , be happ» married. In that case I won't 

which in her critical position nobodv dared to lhmder >' ou - But ll uould be sucb a comfort 

thwart. Even at the end of fourteen days the, t0 m _ e > kee P )' ou a ] *fe longer/ 

•'son and heir" was still a puling, sickly,: 

; ellow-faced baby. 



every thing. 

F/om the moment she heard its first- cry 
Mrs. Ascott's whole nature seemed to undergo 



" Thank you, ma'am," answered Elizabeth, 

s softly, anl busied herself with walking baby 

up and .down the room, hushing it on her 

shoulder. If in the dim light tears fell on its 

puny face, God help her, poor Elizabeth ! 

Mrs. Ascott made such an excellent recove- 
a change Her very eyes-those cold blue ^ in threp weeks > time . nobodv was the 
eyes of Miss belina e-took a depth and ten-i^ anxioufl ab()ut fc d Mr / Ascott ar _ 

derness whenever she turned to look at tne d tQ fit t Qn a buainess ^ EJin . 

little bundle tha lay beside her. She never lbur | h i8i h J b/taofc in 

wearied of touching the tiny hands and feet, i^ ^ for ^ Christmas dinner, winch 
and wondering at them and show,ng-to ev-, be a grand celebration. Miss Leaf and 

ery one of the household who was favored ^ Hilan f were to thereat in their 

with a sight of it- my baby, as it it nad |weddi dreS8es . andM k Ascott herself took 
been a miracle of the universe, .She was so; tbe mQ » vUa , ii)tcregt in Johanna . s havi a 
unutterably happy and proud. inew (;ap for ^ occasiou Nav ghe jnsi8t ' ed 

Elizabeth, too, seemed not a little proud ofi upon ordering it from her own' milliner, and 
the baby. To her arms it had first been com-| bav ; ng it made of the most beautiful lace- 
mitted ; she had stood by at its first washing - 
and dressing, and had scarcely left it or her 
mistress since. Nurse, a very grand person- 



the "sweetest" old lady's cap that could 
possibly ha invented. • 

Evidently this wonderful babv f^au opened 
age, had been a little^jealous ot her at first, all hearts, "and drawn every natural tie closer, 
but soon grew condescending, and made greatjSelina, lying on the sofa, in her graceful white 
use of her in the sick room, alleging that such wrapper, and her neat close cap, looke 
an exceedingly sensible young.person, so quiet voting bo pretty, and, above all, soexceeding- 
and steady, wae almoet as good as a middle- n y gentle and motherly, that hereisters' h 
agedmarried woman. Indeed, she oner- asked were ;„>] to overflowing. They acki. 
Elizabeth if she was ice she looked t \ litl happiness, like misery, was often brought 

as if she had "seen trouble;" and was very about in a fashion totally unforeseen and in- 
much surprised to learn she was single and cre( iible. Who wo-ild have thought, for in- 
only twenty-three years old. stance, on that wretched night when Mr. 
Nobody else took any notion of her. Even Ascott came to Hilary at Kensington, or on 
Miss Hilary was so engrossed by her excite- 'that dreary heartless wedding-day, that thej 
meut and delight over the baby that she onlyjshould ever have been sitting in Selina's room 
observed, " Elizabeth, you look rather worn-jso merry and comfortable, admiring the baby, 
out: this has been a trying time- for you."jand on the friendliest terms with baby's papa? 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



97 



"Papa " is a magical word, and let married; He took it ; and she crept away from him 
people have fallen ever 60 wide asunder, the and sat down. 

thought, "my child's mother." "my I "Tom, I've got something to say to you 

father," must in some degree bridge the gulf and I'd better say it at once." 
between them. When Peter Ascott was seen "To be sure. 'Tisn't anv bad news from 
etoomng, awkwardly enough, over his son's home, is it ? Or"— looking* uneasily at her— 
cradle, poking his dumpy fingers into each ; - J haven't vexed you, have I ?" 
tiny cheek in a half-alarmed, half-investiga- "Vexed me/' she repeated, thinking what 
ting manner, as if he wondered how it had all a small foolish word it was to express what 
come about, but, on the whole, was rather had happened, and what she had been suffer- 
pleased than otherwise— the good angel ot the ing. " No, Tom, not vexed me exactly. But 
household might have stood by and smiled. I want to ask you a question. Who was it 
trusting that the ghastly skeleton therein that you stood talking with, under our tree in 
might in time crumble away into harmless the square, between nine and ten o'clock this 
dust, under the sacred touch of infant fingers. J nig lit three weeks ago?" 

The husband and wife took a kindly, even Though there was no anger in the voice it 
affectionate leave of one another. 3Ifs. Ascott' was so serious and deliberate thafit made Tom 
called him " Peter," and begged him to take start. 

care of himself, and wrap up well that cold: "Three weeks ago; how can 1 possibly 
night. And when he was gone, and her sis- tell?" 

ters also, she lay on her sofa with her eyes " Yes, you can : for it was a fine moonlight 
open, thinking, tt hat sort of thoughts they night, and you stood there a Ion* time " 
were, whether repentant, or hopeful, solemn fjnder the tree, talking to somebody'' 

or tender whether they might have passed|What nonsense! Perhaps it wasn't meat 
away and been ioj-gotten, or how far theylall." 

might have influenced her life to come, none " It was, for I saw vou " 
knew and none ever did know. "The devil vou did !" muttered Tom. 

W hen there came a knock at the door, and, "Don't be angry, onlv tell me the plain truth 
a message tor Elizabeth, }£rs. Ascott suddenly The young woman that was with vou was our 

rheard it and turned round. [Esther here, wasn't she '"' 

-Who is wanting you ? Tom Clifle ? Isn't' For a moment Tom looked altogether con- 
that the young man you are to be married to?, founded. Then he tried to recover himself 
Qo down to him at once. An,! stay, ;Eliza- land said crossly, '• Well, and if itwas, where's 
beth, as it s such a bitter night, take him for the harm? Can't a man be civil to a pretty 
halt an hour into the housekeeper's room, girl without being called over the coals in this 

1 her up stairs, and tell her I wished it. way '"' 
thoughldon't allow • followers' " Jv i^abeth made no answer, at least not im- 

lhank you. ma am,' said Elizabeth on.ee (mediately. At last she said, in a very o-entle 

re, and obeyed. .She must speak to Tom subdued voice, 
some time it might as well be done to-night " Tom, are you fond of Esther? Youwould 
as not. VV ithout pausing to think, she went not kiss her if vou were not fond of her Do 
down with dull heavy steps to the housekeep- you like her as— as vou used to like me?" 
er is room. And she looked right up into his eyes. Hers 

lorn stood there alone. He looked so ex- had no reproach in them, onlv a piteous en- 
his own old self, he came forward to treaty, the last clinging to a hope which she 
meet her so completely in his old familiar way, knew to be false. 

that for the instant she thought she must be " Like Esther? Of cuui-c I do'' She's a 
under some dreadful delusion ; that the moon- nice sort of girl, and we're very o-ood friends " 
light night in the square must have been alia "Tom, a/ man can't be 'friends,' in that 
geam; Esther .till the silly little Esther, sort of way, with a prettv girl of eighteen, 
whom loin had often heard ot and laughed when he ,s gomg to be married to somebody 
and Ipm, her own Tom, whe loved no- else. At least, in my mind, he ou»ht not" 



bodv but her. 



Tom laughed in a confused 



I 



.... *"'" ,nu p" c ' 1 "• * eouiuseu manner, "i 

Elizabeth what an ■ [Ve nad say, y«u'rejealo you'd better get over 

■' - -"■ ' : .' "i ' it." 

it though the maimer was warm as ever, Was she jealous / was it all fancy, folly? 
•'in his tone Did Tom stand there, true as steel, without a 

mething -mote her, as if Duty trio.I teelinw in Im'j l.ocrt tUat d,, a: l . ~. i 

To mock the voice of L<*ve, how long since flown," %i g * 't . ^ , did not share, 

„ , . t , ,-,-,,,. ' wlth out a, hope in which she was not united, 

and quiet as she stood, Elizabeth shivered in, hoi ling her. and preferring her, with that iijl 

l a ^ S ' , , ., ,. . , d-iduality and unity of love which true love 

Why. what a the matter ? Aren't you ,r gives and exact*, as it has a right to ex- 
glad to see me .' Give me another kiss, my act ? 

glr1, do! " N 'ot that poor Elizabeth reasoned in this wav. 

M 



98 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



butehe felt the thiDg by instinct without rea-| She spoke stro- \ unhesitatingly, and for 
eoning. an instant ther v '■'■ ved out of her soft eyes 

"Ton/," ehe said, "tell me outright, just that wild fierce - rk. latent even in these 
as if I was somebody else, and had never be- ■ juiet humble natures, which is dangerous to 
longed to you at all, do you love Esther: meddle with. 
Martin ?" Tom did not attempt it. He felt all was 

Truthful people enforce truth. Tom might over. Whether he had lost or gained : wheth- 
be fickle, but he was not deceitful ; he could er he was glad or sorry, he hardly knew, 
not look into Elizabeth's eyes and tell her a ' " I'm not going to take this back, any how," 
deliberate lie : somehow he dared not. he said, "fiddling'' with the brooch: and 

"Well, then — since you will have it out of ( then going up to her, he attempted, with 
me — 1 think I do." trembling hands, to refasten it in her collar. 

So Elizabeth's "ship went down." It The familiar action, his contrite look, were 
might have been a very frail vessel, that no- too much. People who have once loved one 
body in their right senses would have trusted ( another, though the love is dead (for love can 
any treasure with, still she did : and it was all die), are not able to bury it all at once, or if 
she had, and it went down to the bottom like they do, its pale ghost will still come knock- 
a stone, irig at the door of their hearts, " Let me in, 

It is astonishiug how soon the sea closes; let me in !" 
over this sort of wreck : and how quietly peo- Elizabeth ought, I know, in proper feminine 
pie take — whea they must take, and there is dignity, to have bade Tom farewell without a 
no more disbelieving it — the truth which they glance or a touch. But she did not. When 
would have given their lives to prove was an; he had fastened her brooch she looked up in 
impossible lie. , his familiar face a sorrowful, wistful, linger- 

Forsome minutes Tom stood facing the fire, ing look and then clung about his neck: 
and Elizabeth sat on her chair opposite with- " O Tom, Tom, 1 was so fbnd of you I" 
outspeaking. Then she took off her brooch. And Tom mingled his tears with hers, and 
the only love-token he had given her. and put kissed her many times, and even felt his old 
it into his hand. affection returning, making him half oblivious 

" What's this for ?" asked he, suddenly. Esther ; but mercifully — for love rebuilt up- 

"You know. YouM better give it to Esther, on lost faith is like a house founded upon 
IVfl Esther, not me, you must marry now." nds — the door opened, and Esther hei 

And the thought of Esther, giddy, flirting, jeame in. 
useless Esther, as Tom's wife, wasalmost more; Laughing, smirking, pretty Esther, who, 
than she could bear. The sting of it put even thoughtless as she was. had yet the sense to 
into her crushed humility a certain honest self- draw back when she saw them, 
assertion. " Come here, Esther !" Elizabeth called, irri- 

•' I'm not going to blame you. Tom ; but 1 peratively; and she came, 
think I'm as good as she. I'm not pretty, 1 ! " Esther, I've given up Tom ; you may take 
know, nor lively, nor young, at least I'm old him if he wants you. Make him a good wife. 
for my age; but I wa.~ worth Bomething.jand I'll Forgive you. If not — " 
You should not have served me so.'' She could not say another word. She shut 

Tom said, the usual excuse, that he "couldn't! the door upon them, and crept up stairs, con- 
help it.'' And suddenly turning round, he;scious only of ore thought — if she only could 
ofigged her. to forgive him, and noc 
him. 

She i'ursake Tom! Elizabeth almost smiled.; And in this fate was kind to her, though in 

•• I do forgive you : I'm nota bit arfgry with that awful way in which fate — say rather Prov- 
you. If I ever was 1 have gol over it." -nee — often works.; cutting, with one sharp 

" That';- right. You're a dear soul. Do blow, some knot that our poor, feeble, mortal 
you think that 1 don't like you, [Elizabeth ?" fingers have been long laboring at in vain, or 

"Oh yes," she said, sadly, " I daresay you making that which seemed impossible to do 
do, a little, in spite of Esther Martin. But [the moat natural, easy, and only thing to be 
that's not my way of liking, and I couldn't done. 
stand it. ' : How strangely often in human life "one 

"What couldn't you; - woe doth tread upon the other's heel !" How 

"Your kissing me today, a nd another girl continually, while one of those small private 
to-morrow: your telling me 1 wf.s every thing tragedies that 1 have spoken of is being enact- 
to you one week, and saying exactly tin <! within, the acl called upon to meet 
thing to another girl the next It would be'some other tragedy from without, so that ex- 
hard enough to bear if we were only friends.jternal energy counteracts- inward emotion, and 
but as sweet-hearts, as husband and wife, it holy sympathy with another's sufferings stifles 
would be impossible. No* Tom, I tell you the all personal pain. That truth about sorrows 



forsake get away from them, and never see either of 
their faces any more ! 



truth, I could not stand it." 



;coming "in battalions" may have a divine 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



99 



meaning in it — may be one of those mysterious! She stopped ; and as nurse determinately 
laws winch guide the universe — laws that we carried it away, she attempted do resistance, 
can only trace in fragments, and guess at the only followed it across the room with eager 
rest, believing, in deep humility, that one day eves. It was the last glimmer of reason there. 
we shall " know even as we are known." From that time hei mind began to wander, 

Therefore 1 ask no pity tor Elizabeth, be, and before morning she was slightly deHrious. 
cause ere she had time to collect herself, and Still nobody apprehended danger. Nobody 
realize in her poor confused mind that she really knew any thing about the matter ex- 
had indeed said good by to Tom, given him up cept nurse, and she, with aselfish fearof being 
and parted from him forever, she was summon- blamed for carelessness, resisted sending for 
ed to her mistress's room, there to hold a the doctor till his usual hour of calling. In 
colloquy outside the door with the senously-.that large house, as in many other large houses, 
perplexed nurse. every body's business was nobody's business, 

One of those sudden changes had come and a member of the family, even the mistress, 
which sometimes, after all seems safe, strike might easily be sick oc dying in some room 
terror into a rejoicing bousehold,.and end by therein, while all things else went on just as 
carrying away, remorseless, the young wife usual, and no one was any the wiser, 
from her scarcely tasted bJiss, the" mother of! About noon even Elizabeth's ignorance was 
many children from her close circle of happy i roused up to the conviction that something 
duties and yparning loves. was very wrong with Mrs. Ascott, and that 

Mrs. Ascott was ill. Either she had taken nurse's skill could not counteract it. On her 
cold or been too much excited* Or. in the oversown lesponsibility she sent, or rather she went 
confidence of her recovery, some slight neglect. to fetch the doctor. He came ; and his fiat 
had occurred — some trifle which nobody thinksthrew the whole household into consternation, 
of till afterward, and which yet proves the fatal Now they knew that the poor lady whose 
cause, "the little pin" that happiness bad touched the very stoniest hearts 

in the establishment hovered upon the brink 

-TSores through the castle wall" i „ ,. ■»,• ,, .1 „„„„„ <,„.„„„»,, 

of the grave. .Now all toe women-servants, 
of mortal hope, and King Death enters in all down to the little kitchen-maid with her dirty 
his awful state. apron at her eyes, crept upstairs, one after 

Nobody knew it or dreaded it:< for thoughjtbe other, to the door of what had been such 
Mrs. Ascott was certainly ill, she was not at a silent, mysterious room, and listened, unhin- 
first very ill; and there being no telegraphs in :dered, to the ravings that issued thence. "Poor 
those days no one thought of sending tor either jMissis," and the "poor little baby," were 
her husband or her Bisters. But" that veryjspoken of softly at the kitchen dinner table, 
hour, when Elizabeth went up to her mistress, and confidentially sympathized over with in- 
and saw the flush on her cheek, and the rest- 
less expression of her eve, King Death had 
secretly crept in at the doorol the mansion in 
Russell Square. 

The patient was carefully removed back in- 
to her bed. She said little, except once, look- 
ing up uneasily— 



quiring tradespeople at the area gate. A sense 
of awe and suspensestole over the whole house, 
gathering thicker hour by hour of that dark 
December day. 

When her mistress was first pronounced 
:"in danger," Elizabeth, aware that there was 
no one to act but herself, had taken a brief 
" I don't feel quite myself!, Elizabeth." opportunity to slip from the room and write 

And whenlier* servant soothed her in the. two letters, one to her master in Edinburgh, 
long-familiar way, telling her &be would be bet- and the other to Miss Hilary. The first she 
ter in the morning, she smiled contentedly. ;gave to the footman to post ; the second she 
and turned to go to sleep. charged him to send by special messenger to 

Nevertheless, Elizabeth did not go to her' Richmond. But he, being lazily inclined, or 
bed, but sat behind the cm tain, motionless, for'else thinking that, as the order was only given 
an hour or more. by Elizabeth, it was of comparative^ little 

Toward the middle of the night, when her moment, posted them both. So vainly did the 
baby was brought to her, and the child in-|poorgirl watch and wait; neither Miss Leaf 
stinctively refused its natural food, and began nor Miss Hilary came, 
screaming violently, Mrs. Ascott's troubled 
look returned. 

What is the matter ? What are vou do- 



By night Mrs. Ascott's delirium began to 

subside, but her strength was ebbing fast. 

Two physicians — three — stood by the uncon- 

ing, nurse? I won't be parted from my babyscious woman, and pronounced that all hope 

was gone, if, indeed, the case had not been 
hopeless from the beginning. 

" Where is her husband ? Has she no rela- 
tions — no mother or sisters?" asked the fash- 
ionable physician, Sir — , touched by 



-I won't, I say !" 

And when, to sooth her, the little thing was 
again put into- her arms, and again turned 
from her, a frightened expression came into 
the mother's face. 

" Am I going to be ill ? — is baby—" 



the slight or this poor lady dying alone, with 



100 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



only a nurse and a servant about her. " If she' tors had said it would. Mrs. Ascott opened 
has, they ought to be sent for immediately." her eyea : they wandered from side to side, and 

Elizabeth ran down stairs, and rouging the then she said, feebly, 
old butler from his bed, prevailed on him to " Elizabeth, where 's my baby ?" 
start immediately in the carriage to bring back What Elizabeth answered she never could 
Miss Leaf and Miss Hilary. It would be mid- remember ; perhaps nothing, or her agitation 
night before he reached Eichmond : still it betrayed her, for Mrs. Ascott said again, 
must be done. I "Elizabeth, am I going to— to leave my 

" I'll do it, my girl/' said be, kindly ; "and! baby?" 
I'll tell them as gently as I can. Never fear." Some people might have considered it best to 

When Elizabeth returned to her mistress'aireply with a lie — the frightened, cowardly lie 
room the doctors were all gone, and nurse, jthat is so often told at death-beds to the soul 
standing at the foot of Mrs. Ascott's bed, was| passing direct to its God. But this girl could 
watching her with the serious look which even j not and dared not. 

a hireling or a stranger wears in the presence Leaning over her mistress, she whispered as 
of that sight which, however familiar, never softly as she could, choking down the tears that 
grows less awful — a fellow creature slowly pas- might have disturbed the peace which, merci- 
sing from this life into the life unknown. fully, seemed to have come with dying, 

Elizabeth crept up to the other side. ' Thei " Yes, you are going very soon — to God. He 
change, undescribableyet unmistakable, which will watch ov.er baby, and give him back to 
comes over a human face when the warrant you again some day quite safe." 
for its dissolution has gone forth, struck her at " Will He?" t 
once. The tone was submissive, half-inquiring : 

Never yet had Elizabeth seen death. Her like that of a child learning something it had 
father's she did not remember, and among her never learned before — asSelina was now learn- 
few friends and connections none other bad oc-ing. Perhaps even those three short weeks of 
curred. At twenty-three years of age she was! motherhood had power so to raise her whole 
still ignorant of that solemn experience which nature that she now gained the composure 
every woman must go through some time, oft- with which even the weakest soul can some- 
en many times during her life. For it is to; times meet death, and had grown 'not unwor- 
women that all look in their extreme hour. ,thy of the dignity of a Christian's dying. 
Very few men, even the tenderest hearted, are Suddenly she shivered. "lam afraid; I 
able to watch by the last struggle and close never thought of — this. Will nobody come 
the eyes of the dying. and speak to me?" 

For the moment, as she glanced round the Oh, how Elizabeth longed for Miss Hilary, 
darkened room, and then at the still figure on for any body, who would have known what to 
the bed, Elizabeth's, courage failed. Strong say to the dying woman : who perhaps, as her 
love might have overcome this fen r — the natu- look and words implied, till this hour had 
ral recoil of youth and life from coining into never thought of dying. Once it crossed the 
contact with death and mortality: hut love servant's mind to send for some clergyman: 
was not exactly the bond between- her and but she knew none, and was aware that Mrs. 
Mrs. Ascott. It was rather duty, pity. <he Ascott did not either. She had no supersti- 
tenderness that would have sprung up in her 'lions feeling that any clergyman would do ; 
heart toward any body she had watched and just to give a sort of spiritual extreme unction 
tended so long, to the departing soul. Her own> religious faith 

"If she should die, die in the night, before^was of such an intensely personal silent kind, 
Miss Hilary comes !" thought the poor girl, that she did not believe in any good to be de- 
and glanced once more around the shadowy rived from a strange gentleman coming and 
room, where she was now left quite alone. For praying by the bedside of a stranger, repeating 
nurse, thinking with true worldly wisdom of set sayings with a set countenance, and going 
the preservation of the "son and heir," which away again. And yet with that instinct which 
was decidedly the most important question 'comes to almost every human soul, fast de- 
now, had stolen away, and was busy in the parting, Mrs. Ascott's white lips whispered, 
next room, seeing various young women whom "Pray." 

the doctors had sent, one of whom was to sup-i Elizabeth had no words, except those which 
ply to the infant the place of the poor mother] Miss Leaf used to say night after night in the 
whom it would never know. little parlor at Stowbury. She knelt down, 

There was nobody left but herself to watch and in a trembling voice repeated in her mis- 
this dying mother, so Elizabeth took her lot! tress's ear — " Our Father which art In heaven 1 ' 
upon her, smothered down her fears, and sat] — to the end. 

by the bedside waiting for the least expression] After it Mrs. Ascott lay very quiet. At 
of returning reason in the sunken face, which i length she said, " Plpase — bring— my — baby." 
was very quiet now. It had been from the first, and was to the last, 

Consciousness did return at last, as the doc-!" my" baby. 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



101 



The small face was laid close to hers that 
she might kiss it. 

"He looks well : ,he does not miss me much 
yet, poor little fellow V Ami the strong nat- 
ural agony came upon her, conquering even 
the weakness of her last hour. " Oh, it's hard, 
hard ! Will nobody teach my baby to remem- 
ber me?" 

And then lifting herself up on her elbow she 
caught hold of nurse. 

" Tell Mr. Ascott that Elizabeth is to take 
care of baby. Promise, Elizabeth. Johanna 
is old — Hilary may be married; you will take 
i-are of my baby ?" 

" I will — as long as I live," said Elizabeth 
Hand. 



strong but not exaggerated grief at his loss ; if 
anv remorse mingled therewith, Selitiflfa 
tera happily did not know it. Nobody ever 
did know the full history of things except Eli- 
zabeth, and she kept it to herself. So the 
family skeleton was buried quietly in Mrs. 
Ascott's grave. 

Peter Ascott showed, in his coarse fashion, 
much sympathy and consideration for his 
wife's sisters. He had them staying in the 
house till a week after the funeral was over, 
and provided them with the deepest and hand- 
somest mourning. He even, ia a formal way, 
took counsel with them as to the carrying out 
of Mrs. Ascott's wishes, and the retaining ol 
Elizabeth in charge of the son and heir, which 



She took the child in her arms, and for al-; was accordingly settled. And then they went 
most another hour stood beside the bed thus, back to their old life at Richmond, and the 
until nurse whispered, "Carry it away; its widower returned to his solitary bachelor ways, 
mother doesn't know it now." He looked as usual; went to and from the 

But she did; for she feebly moved her fing- City as usual : and his brief married life 
ers as if in search of something. Baby waslseemed to have passed away from him like a 
still asleep, but Elizabeth contrived, by kneel- dream. 

ing down close to the bed, to put the tiny hand Not altogether a dream. Gradually he be- 
under those cold fingers; they closed imme-gan to awake to the consciousness of an occa 
diately upon it, and so remained till the last, sional child's cry in the house — that large, 



When Miss Leaf and Miss Hilary came in, 



silent, drearv house, where he was once more 



Elizabeth was still kneeling there, trying softly the sole, solitary master. Sometimes, when 
to take the little hand away : for the baby had he came in from church of Sundays, he would 
wakened and began its piteous wail. But it 'mount another flight of stairs, walk into the 
did not disturb the mother now. nursery at the top of the house, and stare with 

"Poor Selina" was no more. Nothing of distant curiosity at the little creature in Eliz- 
her was left to her child except the name of alabeth's arms, pronounce it a "fine child, and 
mother. It may have been better so. jdid her great credit!'' and then walk dowu 

; again. He never seemed to consider it as his 

! child, this poor old bachelor ot so many years'- 

standing; he had outgrown apparently all 
I sense of the affections or the duties of a father. 
Whether they ever would come into him ; 
whether, after babyhood was passed, he would 
begin to take an interest in the little creature 
who throve and blossomedinto beauty — which, 
as if watched by guardian angels, dead moth- 
ers' children often seem to do — was a source 
of earnest speculation to Elizabeth. 

In the mean time he treated both her and 
the baby with extreme consideration, allowed 
her to do just as she liked, and gave her in- 
Sccn was the inscription which now. for six definite sums of money to expend upon the 
months, had met the eyes of the inhabitants! nursery. 

of Stowbury, on a large, dazzlingly white mar- When summer came, and the doctor ordered 
ble monum'ent. the first that was placed in the change of air, Mr. Ascott consented tohersug- 
church-yard of the New Church. gestion of taking a lodging for herself and baby 

What motive induced Mr. Ascott to inter his near baby's aunts at Richmond ; only desir- 
wifehere — whether it was a natural wish to lay ing that the lodging should be as handsome as 
her, and some day lay beside her, in their na- could be secured, and that every other Sunday 
tive earth ; or the less creditable desire of she should bring up his son to spend the day 
showing how rich he had become, and of join- at Russell Square. 

ing his once humble name, even on a tomb-j And so, during the long summer month:-, 
stone, with one of the oldest names in the! the motherless child, in its deep mourning — 
annals of Stowbury — nobody could find out. 'which looks so pathetic on a very young baby 
Probably nobody cared. — might be seen carried about in Elizabeth's 



CHAPTER XX V. 

"rX MEMORY OF 

S B L I X A, 
1 ru. astovKD wife or peter as 

OP 7 l ARE, LONDON". 

ASH IiAUGTER Oi' 

THE l*TE H E X R Y LEAF. ESQ 

OF THIS TOWN. 

DIED DECEKBHfe 24, 1839. 

4QBD 41 YEARS." 



Th« Misses Leaf were content that he should 
do as he pleased in the matter : he had shown 



arms every where. When, after the first six 
weeks, the wet nurae left — in fact, two or three 



102 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



wet nurses successively were abolished — she 
took little Henry solely under her own charge. 
She had comparatively small experience, but 
she had common sense, and the strong moth- 
erly instinct which comes by nature to some 
women. Besides, her whole soul was wrap 
ped up in this little child. 

From the hour when, even with her mistress 
dying before her eyes, Elizabeth had felt a 
strange thrill of comfort in thenew duty which 
had come into her blank life, she took to this 
duty as women only cau whose life hds become 
a blank. She received the child as a blessing 
sent direct from God ; by unconscious hands 
— for Mrs. Ascott knew nothing of what hap- 
pened: something that would heal her wound- 
ed heart, and make her forget Tom. 

And so it did. Women and mothers well 
know how engrossing is the care of an infant : 
bow each minute of the day is filled up with 
something to be done or thought of: so that 
" fretting" about extraneous things becomes 
quite impossible. How gradually the fresh 
life growing up and expanding puts the worn 
out or blighted life into the back ground, and 
all the hopes and fancies cling around the 
small, beautiful present, the ever developing, 
the ever marvelous mystery of a young child's 
existence ! Why it should be so, we can only 
guess ; but that it is so, many a wretched wife, 
many a widowed mother, many a broken 
hearted, forlorn aunt, has thankfully proved. 

Elizabeth proved it likewise. She did not 
exactly lose all memory of her trouble, but it 
seemed lighter: it was swallowed up in this 
second passion of adopted motherhood. And 
so she sank, quietly and at once, into the con- 
dition of a middle aged woman, whose life's 
story — and her sort of women have but one — 
was a mere episode, told and ended. 

For Esther had left and been married to 
Tom Cliffe within a few week's of Mrs. As- 
cott's funeral. Of course, the household knew 
every thing; but nobody condoled with Eliza- 
beth. There was a certain stand-offishness 
about her which made them hold their tongues. 
They treated her with much respect, as her 
new position demanded. She took this, as she 
took every thing, with the grave quietness 
which was her fashion from her youth up; 
assumed her place as a confidential upper ser- 
vant ; dressed well but soberly, like a woman 
of forty, and was called "Mrs. Hand." 

The only trace her "disappointment" left 
upon her was a slightly hitter way of speak- 
ing about men in general, and a dislike to any 
chatter about love affairs and matrimony. 
Her own story she was never known to refer 
to in the most distant way, except once. 

Miss Hilary — who, of course, had heard all, 
but delicately kept silence — one night, when 
little Henry was not well, remained in the 
lodgings on Richmond Hill, and slept in the 
nursery, Elizabeth making up for herself a bed 



on the floor close beside baby and cradle. In 
the dead of night, the two women, mistress 
and maid, by some chance, said a few things 
to one another which never might have been 
said in the daylight, and which, by tacit con- 
sent, were never afterward referred to by eith- 
er, any more than if they had been spoken in 
a dream. 

Elizabeth told briefly, though not without 
emotion, all that had happened between her- 
self and Tom, and how he was married to Es- 
ther Martin. And then both women went 
back, in a moralizing way, to the days when 
they had both been " young'' at Stowbury, and 
how different life was from what they then 
thought and looked forward to — Miss Hilary 
and her " bower maiden." 

" Yes," answered the former with a sigh. 
"things are iudeed not a9 people fancy when 
they are girls. We dream, and dream, and 
think we see very far into the future, which 
nobody sees but God. I often wonder how my 
life will end." 

Elizabeth said, after a pause, " 1 always felt 
sure you would be married, Miss Hilary. 
There was one person — Is he alive still? Is 
he ever coming home?" 

"I don't know." 

"I am sure he was very fond of yon. And 
he looked like a good man." 

"He was the besj. man I ever knew." 

This was all Miss Hilary said, and she said 
it softly and mournfully. She might never 
have said it at all : but it dropped from her 
unawares in the deep feeling of the moment, 
when her heart was tender over Elizabeth'' 
own sad. simply told story. Also because of 
a sudden and great darkness which had come 
over her own. 

Literally, she did not now know whether Ro- 
bert Lyon were alive or dead. Twomonthsago 
his letters had suddenly ceased, without any 
explanation, his last being exactly the same as 
the others — as frank, as warmly affectionate, 
as cheerful aud brave. 

One solution to this was his possible coming 
home. But she did not, after careful reason- 
ing on the subject, believe that likely. She 
knew exactly his business relations with his; 
employers ; that there was a fixed time foi^ 
his return to England, which nothing except 
the very strongest necessity could alter. Even 
in the chance of his health bieaking, so as to 
incapacitate him for work, he should, he al- 
ways said, have, to go to the hills, rather than 
take the voyage home prematurely. And in 
that case he certainly would have informed 
his friends of his movements. There was no- 
thing erratic, or careless, or eccentric about 
Robert Lyon ; he was a practical, business- 
like Scotchman — far too cautious and too reg- 
ular in all his habits to be guilty of thflse ac- 
cidental negligences by which wanderers I 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



108 



abroad sometimes cause such cruel anxieties 
to frienda at home. 

For the same reason, the other terrible pos- 
sibility — his death — was not likely to have 
happened without their hearing of it. Hilary 
telt sure, with the strong confidence of love, 
that he would have taken every means to leave 
her some last word — some iirewel! token — 
which would reach* herafter he was gone, and 
comfort her with the assurance of what, living, 
he had never plainly told. Sometimes, when 
a. wild terror of his death seized her, this set- 
tled conviction drove it back again. He must 
be living, or she would have heard. 

There was another interpretation of the si 
lence, which many would have considered the 
most probable of all — 'be might be married. 
Xot deliberately, but suddenly ; drawn into it 
by some of those impelling trains of circum- 
stance which are the cause of so many mar- 
riages, especially with men ; or, impelled by 
one of those violent passions which occasional- 
ize on an exceedingly good man, fascina- 
ting him against his conscience, reason, and 
will, until he wakes up to find himself fettered 
and ruined for life. Such things do happen, 
strangely, pitifully often. The like might 
have happened to Robert Lyon. 

Hilary did not actually believe it, but still 
her common sense told her that it was possi- 
ble. She was not an inexperienced girl now: 
she looked on the world with the eyes of a 
woman of thirty; and though, thank Heaven ! 
the romance had never gone out of her — the 
faith, and trust, and tender love — still it had 
sobered down a little. She knew it was quite 
within the bounds of possibility that a young 
man, separated from her for seven years, 
thrown into all kinds of circumstances and 
among all sorts of people, should have changed 
very much in himself, and, consequently, to- 
ward her. That, without absolute faithless- 
ness, he might suddenly have seen some other 
woman he liked better, and have married at 
once. Or, if he came back unmarried — she 
had taught herself to look this probability also 
steadily in the face — he might, find the reality 
of her — Hilary Leaf — different from his re- 
membrance of he: : and so, without actual 
falseness to the old true love, might not love 
her any more. 

These tears made her resolutely oppose Jo- 
jpanna's wish to write to the house of business 
nt Liverpool, and a«k what had become of 
|Cr. Lyon. Jt seemed like seeking after him. 
trying to hold him by the slender chain which 
he had never attempted to make any stronger, 
and which, already, he mighthave broken, or 
desired to break. 

She could not do it. Something forbade 
her; that something in the inmost depths of 
a woman's nature which makes her feel her 
own value, and exact that she shall be sought; 
that, if her love be worth having, it is worth 



seeking ; that, however dear a man may be to 
her, she refuses to drop into his mouth like an 
overripe peach from a garden wall. In her 
^sharpest agony of anxiety concerning him, 
i Hilary felt that she could not, on her part, 
itake any step that seemed to compel love — or 
feven friendship — from Robert Lyon. It was not 
[pride, she could hardly be called a proud wo- 
iman ; it was an innate sense of the dignity of 
'that love which, as a free gift, is precious as 
[rmuch fine gold." yet becomes the merest dross, 
iutterly'and insultinc; poor — when paid as a debt 
pf honor, or offered as a benevolent largess. 

And so, though oftentimes her heart felt 
! breaking, Hilary labored on ; sat the long day 
(patiently at her desk; interested herself in the 
jyoung people over whom she ruled ; became 
Miss Balquidder's right hand in all sorts of 
; schemes which that good woman was forever 
carrying out for the benefit of her fellow-crea- 
jtures; and at leisure times occupied herself 
with Johanna, or with Elizabeth and the ba- 
5 by, trying to think it was a very beautiful and 
j happy world, with love still in it, and a God 
of love ruling over it — only, only — 

Women are very humble in their cruelesi 
j pride. Many a day she felt as if she could 
| have crawled a hundred miles in the dust — 
i like some Catholic pilgrim — just to get one 
sight of Robert Lyon. 

Autumn came — lovely and lingering late. 
It was November, and yet the air felt mild as 
May. and the sunshine had that peculiar gen- 
jial brightness which autumnal sunshine alone 
possesses ; even as, perhaps, late happiness 
| has in it a holy calm and sweetness which no 
youthful ecstasy can ever boast. 

The day happened to be Hilary's birthday. 
(She had taken a holiday, which she, Johan- 
na, Elizabeth, and the baby, had spent in 
Richmond Park, watching the rabbits darting 
[about under the brown fern, and the deer gra- 
cing contentedly hard by. They had sat a 
'long time under one of the oak trees with 
which the Park abounds, listening for the sud- 
den drop, drop of,,an occasional acorn among 
the fallen leaves: or making merry with the 
'child, as a healthy, innocent, playful child al- 
ways can make good women merry. 

Still, Master Henry was not a remarkable 
'specimen of infanthood, and had never occu- 
pied more than his proper nepotal corner in 
Hilary's heart. She left him chiefly to Eliz- 
abeth, and to his aunt Johanna, in whom the 
grandmotherly character had blossomed out 
linfull perfection. And when these two be- 
came engrossed in his infant majesty, Hilary- 
sat a little apart, unconsciously folding her 
her hands and fixing her eyes on vacancy : 
[becoming fearfully alive to the sharp truth, 
that of all grj strong love unreturned or 

unfulfilled is the grief which most blights a 
woman's life. Say. rather, any human life ; 
but it is worst to a woman, because she must 



104 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



necessarily endure passively. So enduring, it: 
is very difficult to recognize the good hand of 
God therein. Why should He ordain longings, 
neither selfish nor unholy, which yet are nev- 
er granted ; tenderness which expends itself 
in vain ; sacrifices which are wholly unheed-' 
ed ; and sufferings which seem quite thrown' 
away? That is, if we dared allege of any 
thing in the moral or in the material world,' 
where so much loveliness, so much love, ap- 
pear continually wasted, that it is really, 
''thrown away." We never know through' 
what divine mysteries of compensation the 
Great Father of the universe may be carrying 
out his sublime plan ; and those^hree words, 
" God is lo ,r e," ought to contain, to every 
doubting soul, the solution of all things. 

As Hilary rose from under the tree 'there 
was a shadow on her sweet face, a listless 1 
weariness in her movements, which caught ; 
Johanna's attention. Johanna had been very j 
good to her child. When, do what she would, j 
Hilary could not keep down fits of occasional 
dullness or impatience, it was touching to see 1 
how this woman of over sixty years slipped i 
from her due pedestal of honor and dignity, to 
be patient with her younger sister's unspoken, 
bitterness ana incommunicable care. 

She now, seeing how restless Hilary was, 
rose when she rose, put her arm in hers, and 
accompanied her, speaking or silent, with 
quick steps or slow, as she chose, across the 
beautiful park, than which, perhaps, all Eng- 
land cau not furnish a scene more thoroughly | 
sylvan, thoroughly English. They rested oni 
that high ground near the gate of Pembroke! 
Lodge, where the valley of the Thames lies; 
spread out like a map, stretching miles and] 
miles away in luxuriant greenery. 

" How beautiful ! 1 wonder what a foreign-' 
ef would think of thio view ? Or any one whol 
had been long abroad? How inexpressibly; 
sweet and home-like it would seem to him!" 

Hilary turned sharply away, aud Johanna 
saw at once what herwords had implied. She! 
felt so sorry, so vexed with herself; but in 
was best to leave it alone. So they made their: 
way homewarrl, speaking of something else ; 
and then that happened which Johanna had 
b^en almost daily expecting would happen, 
though she dared not communicate her hopes! 
to Hilary, lest they might prove fallacious. 

The two figures", both in deep mourning,' 
might have at any one's attention : they 1 

naught that of a ■ who eras walking 

quickly and looking afc I him, as if in search 

of something. B ed them >ta littl 

tance, then repassed, then turned, holding out 
both his hands. 

" Miss Leaf: I was sure it was you." 

Only the voice; every thing else about him 
was so changed that Hilary herself would cer-; 
tainly have passed him in the street, that 1 
brown, foreign looking, middle aged man, nor! 



recognized him as Robert Lyon. But for all 
that it was himself; it was Robert Lyon. 

Nobody screamed, nobody fainted. People 
seldom do that in real life, even when a friend 
turns up suddenly from the other end of the 
world. They only hold outa warm hand, and 
look silently in one another's faces, and try to 
believe that all is real, as these did. 

Robert Lyon shook hands with both ladies, 
one after the other, Hilary last, then placed 
himself between them. 

"Miss Leaf, will you take my arm?" 

The tone, the manner, were so exactly like 
himself, that in a moment all these interven- 
ing years seemed crushed into an atom of time. 
Hilary felt certain, morally and absolutely 
certain, that, in spite of all outward change, 
fie was the same Robert Lyon who had bade 
them all good-by that Sunday night in the 
parlor at Stowbury. The same, even in his 
love for herself, though he had simply drawn 
her little hand under his arm, and never spo- 
ken a single word. 

Hilary Leaf, down, secretly, on ^our heart's 
lowest knees, and thank God ! Repent of all 
your bitterness, doubts, and pains ; be joyful, 
be joyful ! But, oh, remember to be so humble 
withal. 

She was. As she walked silently along by 
Robert Lyon's side, she pulled down her veil 
to hide the sweetest, most contrite, mostchild- 
like tears. What did she deserve, more than 
her neighbors, that she should be so very, very 
happy? And when, a good distance across 
the park, she saw the dark, solitary figure of 
Elizabeth carrying baby, she quietly guided 
her companions into a different path, so as to 
avoid meeting, lest the sight of her happiness 
might in any way, hurt poor Elizabeth. 

" I only landed last night at Southampton," 
Mr. Lyon explained to Miss Leaf, after the 
fashion people have, at such meetings, of fall- 
ing upon the most practical and uninteresting 
details. " I came by the Overlaud Mail. It 
was a sudden journey. I had scareely more 
than a few hours' notice. The cause of it 
was some very unpleasant defalcations in our 
firm." 

Under any other circumstances Hilary 
might have smiled : maybe she did ,-tnile. 
and tease him many a time afterward, because 
the first thing he could find to talk about, af- 
ter seven years' absence, was "del me in 
our firm. Bui no** erne listened gravely, and 
hy-and-by took her part in the unimportant 
conversation which always occurs after such 
a meeting as this. 

" Were you going home. Miss Leaf? They 
told me at your house you were expected to 
dinner. May I come with you? for I have 
only a lew hours to stay. To-night I must go 
on to Liverpool." 

" But we shall hope soon to see you again f* 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



105 



" I hope so. And I trust, Miss Leaf, thatjemn content came a sense of the entire inde- 
[ do not intrude to-day.'' structibleness of that love which through, all 

He said this with his Scotch slmiess, orjdecay or alteration traces the ideal image still, 
pride, or whatever it was : so like his old .self, clings to it, and cherishes it with a tenacity, 
that it made somebody *smi1c ! But somebody] that laughs to scorn the grim dread of " grow- 
loved it. Somebody lilted up to his tace eye6;iug old." 

of silent welcome ; sweet, soft, brown eye.?, j n i >is pre mature and not specially comely 
vhere never, since he knew them, had he seen m ,idle age, in his gray hairs, in the painful, 



one cloud of anger daikon, one shadow of un 
kindness rise. 

" This is something worth coming Jiome to," 
and not over lucidly. 



he said in a low voice 
Ay, it was. 

M 1 am by no means disinterested in the 
matter of dinner, Miss Leaf; for I have no 
doubt of finding good English roast beef andl* 
plum pudding on your sister's birth day. 
Happy returns of the day, Miss Hilary 

She was so touched by his remem 

this, that, to hide it, she put on a spice u 

• i • l • j i j i • -,-i 'Characters alter, circumstances divide 

o d mischievousness^and asked him i he was 



anxious, half melancholy expression which 
occasionally flitted across his features, as it 
life had gone hard with him, Robert Lyon was 
a thousand times dearer to her than when the 
world was all before them both in the early 
days at Stowbury. 

There is a great deal of a seutimentaUnon^ 
sense talked about people having been "young 
together." Not necessarily is that a bond. 



iberini''^ an - v a l ' e ^ orme< ^ m youth dwindles away 

pi Hand breaks off naturatly in maturer years. 

'i Characters alter, circumstances divide. No 



tiware how old she was' 

"Yes: you are thirty: T have known you 
for fifteen years." 

'• It is along time," said Johanna, thought- 
fully. 

Johanna would not have been. human had 
she not been a Ihtie thoughtful and silent on 
the way home, and had she not many times, 
out of the corners of her eyes, sharply investi- 
gated Mr. Robert Lyon. 

lie was much altered : there was no doubt 
of that. Seven years of Indian life would 
change any body ; take the youthfulness out 



one. will dare to allege that there may not be 
loves and friendships formed in middle life as 
dear, as close, as firm as any of those of youth ; 
perhaps, with some temperaments, infinitely 
more so. t But when the two go together, when 
the.calm election of maturity confirms the early 
instinct, and the lives have been parallel, as it 
were, for many years, there can be no bond 
like that of those who say as these two did, 
" We were young together." 

He said so when, after dinner, he came and 
stood by the window where Hilary was sitting 
sewing. Johanna had just gone out of the 



of any body. It was so with Robert Lyon. room : whether intentionally or not, this his 

Wiien coming into the parlor he removed his 

hat, many a white thread was visible in his 

hair, and besides the spare, dried-up look 

which is always noticeable in people whohave 

lived long id hot climates, there was an "old" 

expression in hie face, indicating manv a 



tory can not avouch. Let us give her the 
benefit of the doubt ; she was a generous wo- 
man. 

During the three hours that Mr. Lyon bad 

been with her, Hilary's first agitation had sub- 

ided. That exceeding sense of rest which she 



worldly battle fought and won, but not with-! had always felt beside him — the sure index of 



out leaving scars behind. 

Ever. Hilary, as. she sat opposite to him, at 
table, could not but feel that he was no longer 
a young man either in appearance or reality. 

We ouvselves grow old, pr older, without 
knowing it, but when .we. suddenly come upon 
the same fact in another it startles us. Hilary 
had scarcely recognized how far she herself 
.bad left her girlish days behind till she saw 
Robert Lyon. ' 



people who, besides loving, are meant to guide 
and help and bless one another, — returned as 
strong as ever. That deep affection which 
should underlie all love revived and clung to 
him with a chidlike confidence strengthening 
at every word he said, every familiar look and 
way. ' 

He was by no means so composed as she 
was, especially now when coming up to her 
side and watching her hands moving for a 



" You think me very much changed V said minute or so, he asked her to tell him, a little 
lie. guessing by his curiously swift intuition of more explicitly, of what hid happened to her 
old what s"he Was thinking ol\ since the> parted. 

' Yes, a good deal changed," she answered " Things are rather different from what I 
truthfully : at %vhieh he was sileut. thought:" and he glanced with a troubled air 

He could not read — perhaps no man's heart round the ueat but very humbly furnished 
could — all the emotion that swelled in hers as parlor. "And about the shop?" 
she looked at him, the love of her youth, no " Johanna told you." 

longer young. How the ghostly likeness of ! "Yes; hut her letters have been so few, so 
theiormer face gleamed out under the hard short — not that I could expect more. Still- 
worn lines of the face that now was touching :Duw< if you will trust me — tell me all." 
her with itiefiable tenderness. Also, withsol-| Hilary turned to him, her friend for fifteen 
N 



106 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



years. He was that if he was nothing more. j youth, captivate ! by every fresh face it sees, 
And he had been very true ; he deserved tobeiputting upon ear ■ ne the coloring of his own 
trusted. She told him, in brief, the history of imagination, ami adorning not what is, but 
the last year or two, and then added : [what itself creates; no sudden, selfish, seneu- 

" But after all it is hardly worth the telling, ous passion, caring ofily to attain its object, 
because, you see, we are very comfortable now. irrespective of reason, right, or conscience; 
Poor Ascott, we suppose, must be in Australia, but the strong deep love of a just man, delib- 
I earn enough to keep Johanna and myself, erately choosing one woman as the beat wo* 
and Miss Balquidder is a good friend to us. man out of all the world, and setting himself 
We have repaid her, and owe nobody any resolutely to win hor. Battling for her sake 
thing. Still, we have suffered a great deal, with ail hard fortune; keeping, for her sake; 
Two years ago; oh ! it was a dreadful time.'' his heart pure from all the temptations of the 
.She was hardly aware of it, but her candid world ; never losing si ;ht of -her ; watching 



tell-tale face betrayed urore even than her 
Awords. It cut Robert Lyon to the heart. 

"You suffered, and I never knew it." 

" I never meant you to know.". 

" Why not?" He walked the room in great 
excitement. "1 ought to have been told; it 
was cruel not to tell me. Suppose you had 
sunk under it; suppose you had died, or been 
driven to do what many a woman does for the 
sake of mere bread and a home — what your 
poor sister did — married. But 
pardon." 

For Hilary had started up with her iace all 
aglow. 

" No," she cried ; " no poverty would have 
sunk me as low as that. 1 might have starv- 
ed, but I should never have married." 

Robert Lyon looked at her, evidently un- 



over her so far as he could, consistently with 
the sense of honor for masculine pride — 
which was it . ' try forgave it, any how) 

which made him resolutely compel himself to 
silence; holding her perfectly tree, while he 
held himself bound. Bound by a faithfulness 
perfect as that of the knights of old — asking 
nothing, and yet giving all. 

Such was his love — this bra"e, plain spo- 
ken, single hearted Scotsman. Would that 
beg your there were more such men and more such love 
[in the world ! • 



Few women could have resisted it, certainly 
not Hilary,, especially with a little secret of 
her own lying perdu at the bottom of her heart. : 
that " sleeping angel" whence half her strength 
and courage had come ; the noble, faithful, 
generous love of a good woman for a good 
comprehending, then said humbly, thoughiman. But this secret Robert Lyon had evi- 
rather formally, Idently never guessed, or deemed himselfwholly 

"I beg your pardon once more. I had no unworthy of such a possession, 
right to aflude to any thing of the kind." j He took her hand at last, and held it firmly. 
Hilary replied not. It seemed as if now.. " And now that you know all, do you think 



close together, they were further apart than 
when the Indian seas rolled between them. 
Mr, Lvon's brown cheek turned paler and 



in time — I'll not hurry you — but in time, do 
you think I could make you love me?" 

She looked up in his face with her honest 



paler: he pressed his lips hard together ; they eyes. Smiling as -they were, there was pathos 
moved once or twice, but still he did not utter 
a word. At last, with a sort of desperate 
courage, and in a lone that Hilary had never 
heard from him in her life, before, he said.: 

"Yes, I believe I have a right, the right 
that every man has when his whole happiness 
depends upon it, to ask you one question. You 



know every thing concerning me; you ah 
have known : I meant thS.1 you Bhould— I have 
taken the utmost care that you should. There 
is not a bit of my life that hasnot been as open 
to you as if — as if — . But I know nothing 
whatever conceding you." 
. '■ What do you wish to know?" she fall 

"Seven years is a long time. Are you 
J mean, are you engaged to be married ?" 

"No." 

"Thank God!" 

He dropped his head down between his 
hands and did not speak for a long time. 

And then with difficulty— for it was always 



in them : the sadness left by tho.^e long years 
of hidden Buffering, now forever ended. 

"1 have loved you all my life," said Hil- 
ary. 



Let 

happy 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

us linger a little over this chapter Of 
love: so sweet, so rare a thing. Aye, 
most rare : though hundreds continually meet, 
love, or fancy they do. engage themselves, and 
marry ; and hundreds more go through the 
same proceeding, with the Blight difference of 
the love omitted— -Hamlet, with the part of, 
Hamlet left out. But the real love, steady and 
true: tried in the balance, and not found 
wanting: tested by time, silence, separation : 
by good and ill fortune: by the natural and 
inevitable change which years make in every 



hard to him to speakput — he tokTher, at least character— this is the rarest thing to be found 
he somehow made her tmderstand, how he on earthj and the most precious. 

., I loved her. Xo light fancy of eentimenlalj I do not say that all love is worthless which 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



1(17 



is not exactly ibis BOit 61 love. There have 
been people who have succumbed instantly and 
permanently to some mysterious attraction, 
higher than all reasoning; the same which 
made Hilary "take an interest" in Robert 
Lyon'.- lace at chnrch, and made him, he af- 
terward confessed, the very first time he gave 
Ascot t a lesson in the parlor at Stowbury, say 
to himself, " If 1 did marry, 1 think \ should 



like such a wile as that brown-eyed hit lassie." house." 



Robert Lyon was, a9 I have said, a good 
deal changed, outwardly and inwardly. He 
had mixed much in society, taken an excel- 
lent position therein, and this had given him 
hot only a more polished manner, but an air 
of decision and command, as of one used to be 
obeyed. There could not be the slightest 
doubt, as .lohannaonce laughingly told him, 
that he would always be "master in his own 



And there have been other people, who choos 
ing their partners from accidental circumstan- 
ces, *r from mean worldly motives, have 
found Providence kinder to them than they 
deserved, and settled down into happy, atl'ec- 
tionate husbands and wives. 

But none of these loves can possibly have 
the sweetness, the completeness of such a love 
as that between Hilary Leaf and Robert 
Lyon. 

There was nothing very romantic about it. 
From the moment when Johanna entered the 
parlor, found them standing hand-in-hand at 
the fireside, and Hilary came forward and 



But he was very gentle with hia " little wo- 
man" as he called her. He would sit for hours 
at the " ingle-neuk" — how he did luxuriate in 
the English fires! — with Hilary on a footstool 
beside him, her arm resting on his knee, or 
her hand fast clasped in his. And sometimes, 
when Johanna went outof the room, he would 
stoop and gather her close to his heart. But 
I shall tell no tales; the world has no business 
with these sort of things. 

Hilary was very shy of parading her happi- 
ness ; she disliked any demonstrations thereof, 
even before Johanna. And when Miss Bal- 
quidder, who had, of course, been told of the 



kissed her. and after aslight hesitation Robert engagement, came down one day expressly to 
did thesame, the affair proceeded in most mill-; see her " fortunate fellow countryman, this 
pond fashiou : |Machavelian little woman actually persuaded 

her lover to have an important engagement in 

London! She could, not bear him to be 

" looked at." 

" Ah, well, ,you must leave me, and I will 

miss you terribly, my deai," said the old 



•■ Unrvfflsd by those cabmen and breaks, 
Tliat humor interposed too often makes. - ; 

There were no lovers' quarrels ; Robert Ly- 
on bad chosen that best blessing next to a 
good woman, a sweet tempered woman : and 



there was no reason why they should quarrel Scotchwoman. But it's an ill wind that blows 
more as lovers than they bad done as friends, nobody good, and I have another young lady 
And, let it be stid to theeternal honor of both, 1 quite "ready to step into your shoes. When 
now, no more than in their friendship days, ishall you be married?" 
was there any of that hungry engrossment of 
each* other's society, which is only another 
torm of selfishness, and by which lovers so 



often make their own happy courting time a 
season of never-to-be-forgotten bitterness to 
every body connected with them. 

Johanna suffered a little : all people do 
when the new rishts clash with the old oues ;[? 



"I don't know— hush : we'll talk another 
time," said Hilary, glancing at Johanna. 



Miss Balquidder took the hint and was si- 
lent. r 

That important question was indeed begin- 
ning to weigh heavily on Hilary's mind. She 
•was fally aware of what Mr. Lyon wished, and 



^' indeed, expected 



: that when, the business Of 
but she rarely betrayed it She was exceed- ^ K ^ > hen(je ^ 

ingly good : she saw her child happy, and she ^^ ^ ^ he ' should nQt return alone . 

rr ;i - When he said this, she had never dared to 

nlu ." L^ om ,v. 1,«^1.. .^n tr. fhin\r Kholet. the 



loved Robert Lvon dearlv. He was very 

mindful of her, very tender; and as Hilary, ^ h e Q . fe gh j the 

Btill persisted in doing her di ,lj . luty m t ie ■ «J «• ; sen t float on, dav bv day, without 

shop, he spent more o. r. in lie with theelder ^ a ^ J » - • . - 

sister than he did with the younger, and recognizing suck a thing as the future, 
sometimes declared polemnly that if Hilary! But this could not be always. It came to 
did not treat him wek he intended to make an an end one January atternoo^ when he had 
offer lo Johanna ! returned from a second absence in Liverpool. 

1 Oh, the innumerable little jokes of those They were walking up Richmond Hill. The 
happvdavs! Oh, the long, quiet walks by sun had set frostily and red over the silver 
the river side, through the park, across Hamjcurve of the Thames, and Venus, large and 



Common— any where— it did not matter; the bright, was shining like a great eye in the 
whole world looked lovely, even on the dull-' western sky. Hilary long remembered exact- 
est winter day! Oh, the endless talks; the ly how every thing looked, even to the very 
renewed miDgling of two lives, which", though tree they stood under, when Robert Lyouask- 
divided, had never been really apart, for neith- ed her to fix definitely the day that she would 



er had any thing to conceal ; neitherhad ever 
loved any but the other. 



marry him. 
Would she consent— there seemed no spec- 



108 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



ial reason to the contrary — that it should be was only a man, no! au angel : and though he 
immediately? Or would she like to remain made comparativt?ly little show of it, he was a 
with Johanna as she was, till just before they man very deeply in love. With that jealous 
sailed? He wished to be as good as possible tenacity over his treasure, hardly blamable. 
to Johanna — still — " since the lo\e is worth little which" does not 

And something in his manner impressed wish to have its object "all to itself." he had, 1 
Hilary more than ever before with theconvic- am afraid, contemplated not Without pleasure 
tion of all she was to him: likewise, all he the carrying off of Hilary to his Indian home; 
was to her. More, much more than even a and it had cost him something to propose that 
few short weeks since. Then, intense as it Johanna should go too. He was very fond of 
was,' the love had a dream like unreality ; now Johanoa : still — 

it was close, home-like, familiar. Instinctive- If I tell what followed will it forever lower 
ly she clung to his arm ; she had become so Robert Lyon in the estimation of all readers ? 
used to being Robert's darling now. She He said, coldly, " As you please, Hilary ;" 
shivered as she thought of the wide seas roll- rose up, and never spoke another word till 
ing between them : of the time when she they reached home. 

should look for him at the daily meal and Tt was the first dull tea table they had ever 

daily fireside, and find him no more. .known ; the first time Hilar/ had ever looked 

" Robert, I want to talk to you about Jo- at that dear face, and seen an expression there 

hanna." . which made her look away again. He did 

"I guess what it is," said he, smiling ; not sulk: he was too gentlemanly for that: 

" you would like her to go out to India with.he even exerted himself to make the meal pass 

us. Certainly, if she chooses. I hope you pleasantly as usual: but he was evidently 

did not suppose I should object." deeply wounded ; nay, more, displeased. The 

" No; but it is not that. She would not live strong, stern man's nature within him had' 

six months in a hot climate : the doctor tells rebelled; the sweetness had gone out of his 

me so." face, and something had come into it which 

" You consulted him ?" the very best ofmen have sometimes : alas for 

"Yes, confidentially, without her knowing the woman who cannot understand and put up 

it. But I thought it right., I wanted to make with it ! • 

quite sure before — before — Oh, Robert.,' I am not going to preach the doctrine ofty- 

The grief of her tone caused him to suspect rants and slaves ; but when two walk together 

what was coming. He started. they must be agreed, or if by any chance they 

" You don't mean that ? Oh no, you can are not agreed, one must yield. It may not 

not ! My little woman, my own little woman always be the weaker, or ir? v#akness may lie 

— she could not be so unkind." the chiefest strength : but it must be one or 

Hilary turned eick at heart. The dim land-other of the two who has to be the first to 

scape, the bright sky, seemed to mingle and give way : and, save in very exceptional cases, 

dance before her, and Venns to stare at her,it is, and it ought to be, the woman. God's 

with a piercing, threatening, baleful lustre, law and nature's, which is also God's, ordains 

"Robert, let me sit down on the bench, jthis; instinct teaches it : Christianity enforces 

and sit you beside me. It is too dark for it. 

people to notice us, and we shall not be verv Will it inflict a death blow upon any admi- 
cold." ration she may have excited, this brave little 

" No, my darling ;" and he slipped his plaid Hilary, who fought through the world by her- 
round her shoulders, and his arm with it. self; who did not shrink from traversing Lon- 
She looked up pitifully. " Don't be vexed don streets alone at seemly and unseemly 
with me, Robert, dear; I liave thought it all hours: from going into sponging houses and 
over: weighed it on every side ; nigkts and debtor's prisons : from earning her own liveli- 
nights I have been awake pondering what was hood, even in a shop — if I confess that Robert 
right to do. And it always comes to the same Lyon, being angry with her, justly or unjustly, 
thing." and she, looking upon him as her future hus- 



" What ?" 

" It's the old story," she 



band, her " lord and master" if you will. 



answered with a' whom she would one day promise, and intend- 
feeble smile. '"I canna leave my minnie.' ed, literally "to obey" — she thought it her 
There is nobody in the world to take care of duty, not only her pleasure but her duty, to be 
Johanna but me, not even Elizabeth, who is the first to make reconciliation between them? 
engrossed in little Henry. If I left her, I am ay, and at every sacrifice, except that of prin- 
sure it would kill her. And she can not come ciple. 

with me. Dear!" (the only fond name she And lam afraid, in spite of all that "strong- 
ever called him) "for these three years — you minded" women may preach to the contrary, 
say it need only be three years — you will haye that all good women will have to do this to all 
to go back to India alone." men who stand in any close relation toward 

Robert Lyon was a very good man ; but hejthem, whether fathers, husbands, brothers, or 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



109 



lovers, if they wish to preserve peace, and 
love, and holy domestic influence ; and that 
so it must tie to the end of time. 

Miss Leaf might have discovered that some- 
thing was amiss: but she was too wise to take 
any notice, and being more than usually feeble 
that day. immediately after tea she went to lie| 
down. When Hilary followed her, arranged, 
her pillows, and covered her up, Johanna drew 
her child's face close to her and whispered, 

" That will do, love. Don't stay with me. 
I would not keep you from Robert on any ac- 
count." 

Hilary all but broke down; and yet the 
words made her stronger, firmer: set more 
clearly before her the solemn duty which 
young tolks in love are so apt to forget, that 
there can be no bles'sing on the new tie, if for 
any thing short of inevitable necessity they let 
go one link of the old. 

Yet, .Robert — It was such a new and dread- 
ful feeling to be standing outside the door and 
shrink from going in to him; to see him rise 
up formally, saying, " Perhaps he had better 
leave ; and have to answer with equal form-! 
,ality, '" Not unless you are obliged :" and for 
him then, with a shallow pretence of being at; 
ease, to take up a book and offer to read. aloud 
to her while she worked. He — who used al-| 
ways to set his face strongly against alLsew-j 
ing of evenings — because it deprived him tern-; 
porarily of the 6weet eyes, and the little soft 1 
hand. Oh, it was hard, hard ! 

Nevertheless, she sat still and tried to listen ; 
but the words went in at one ear and. out at 
the other; she retained nothing, By-and-by' 
her throat began to swell, and she could not 
see her needle and thread. Yet still he went 
op reading. It was only when, by some bless- 
ed chance, turning to reach a paper cutter, he 
caught sight of her, that he closed the book* 
and looked discomposed ; not softened, only 
discomposed. 

Who shall be first to speak ? Who shall 
catch the passing angel's wing? One minute, 
and it may have passed over. 

I am not apologizing for Hilary the least in 
the world. I do not know even if she consid- 
ered whether it was her place or Robert's to 
make the first advance. Indeed, I fear she did 
not consider it at all, but just acted upon im- 
pulse, because it was so cruel, so heart break- 
ing, to be at variance with him. But if she 
had considered it I doubt not she would have 
done from duty exactly what she did by in- 
stinct — crept up to him as he sat at the fire- 
side, and laid her little hand on his. 

" Robert, what makes you eo angry with me 
still?" 

" Not angry ; I have no right to be." 

" Yes, you would have if I had really done 
wrong. Have I ?" 

" You must judge for yourself. For me — 



1 thought you loved me better than I find you 
do, anil I made a mistake : that is all." 

Ay, he had made a mistake, but it was not 
that one. It was the other mistake that men 
continually make about womerr: they can not 
understand that love is not worth having, that 
it is not love at aW, but merely a selfish car- 
rying out of. selfish desires, if it blinds us to 
any other duty, or blunts in us any other sa- 
cred tenderness. They can not see how she 
who is false in one relation may be false in 
another ; and that, true as human nature's 
truth, ay, and often fulfilling itself, is Braban- 
tio's ominous warning to Othello — 

a Look to her, Moor ! have a good eye to Bee : 
She has deceived her father, and may thee." 

Perhaps as soon as he had said the bitter 
word Mr. Lyon was sorry, any how, the soft 
answer which followed it thrilled through ev- 
ery nerve of the strong willed man — a man not 
easily made angry, but when he was, very 
hard to move. 

" Robert, wil you listen to me for two min- 
utes ?" 

" For as long as you like, only you must 
not expect me to agree with you. You can 
not suppose I shall say it is right for you to 
forsake me." 

" I forsake you ? Oh, Robert !" 

Words are not always the wisest-argument.-. 
His " little woman" crept closer, and laid her 
head on his breast: he clasped convulsively. 

" Oh, Hilary, how could vou wound me. 
so?" 

And in lieu of the discussion, a long silence 
brooded over the fireside — the silence of ex- 
ceeding l&ve. * # 

" Now, Robert, may I talk to you ?" 

"Yes. Preach away, my little conscience.'' 

" It shall not be preaching, and it is not al- 
together for conscience," said she. smiling. 
" You would not like me to tell you I did not 
love Johanna?" 

"Certainly not. I love her very much my- 
self, only I prefer you, as is natural. Appar- 
ently you do not prefer me, which may also be 
natural." 

" Robert '." 

There are times when a laugh is better than 
a reproach ; and something else, which need 
not be more particularly explained, is safer 
than either. It is possible Hilary tried thf 
experiment, and then resumed her " say." 

" Now, Robert put yourself in my place, and 
try to think for me. I have been Johanna's 
child for thirty years; she is entirely depend- 
ent upon me. Her health is feeble : every 
year of her life is at least doubtful. If she lo.st 
me I think she would never live out the next 
three years. You would not like that ?" 

"No." 

" In all divided duties like this somebody 
must suffer; the question is, which can suffer 



110 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



best? She is old and frail, we are young : she take out of the brief span of mortal life, and, 
is alone, we are two ; sbe never bad any hap- therefore, bow far they are justifiable, for am 
piness in her life, except, perhaps me: and we' thing short of absolute necessity, Heaven 
— oh how happy we are ! I think, Robert, it knows. 

would be better for us to suffer than poor Jo-' In this case it was an absolutely necessity, 
hanna^" Robert Lyon's position in "our firm," with 

" You' little Jesuit," he said : but the higher which he identified himself with the natural 
nature of the man was roused.; he was nolpride of a man who has diligently worked his 
longer angry. way up to fortune, was such that he could not, 

" It is only for a short time, remember — without sacrificing his future prospects, and 
only three years." likewise what he felt to'be a point of honor. 

"And how can I do without you for three refuse to go back to Bombay until such time 
years?" . as his senior partner's son, the young, fellow 

" Yes, Eobert, you can." And she put her whom he had " coached" in Hindostanee, and 
arms round his neck, and looked at him, eye to nursed through a fever years ago, could con- 
eve. "You know 1 am* your very own, apiece veniently take his place abroad. 
of yourself, as it were : that when I let you goj « of course," he said, explaining this to Hil- 
it is like tearing myself from myself; yet I arv an( j ber sister, " accidental circumstances 
can bear it, rather than do, or let you do, mi m ight occur to cause my return home before* 
the smallest degree, a thing which is not tue - three years were out, but the act must be 
right." • none of mine: I must do my duty." 

Robert Lyon was not a man of many words ; „ y mn „ answered ffi j with a 

but he had the rare faculty of seeing a easel learn lighting up her eyes . She ]o ^ d P0 iu 
clearly, without reference to himself, and of bVlhiff one great principle of his life-the 
putting it clearly also when necessary back-bone of it, as it were-duty before all 

• " It seems to me, Hilarv, that this is hardlv .u:^^ 
a matter of abstract right or wrong or a good Johanna asked n0 questions . Once she had 
deal migbtbe argued on my side ot the subject. iBquired with a tremulous, hardlv .concealed 
ft is moie a case of personal conscience, fhe a] whe ther Robert wished to take Hilarv 

!T°_" e _" 0t u!.YT.: u'lt a L t i° U ?wu!- V „™;bacl5 with him, and Hilary had kissed her, 

smilingly, saying, "No, that was impossible." 
Afterward the subject was never revived. 

And so these two lovers, both stern iu what 



but thev both come to the same 



so at first 
result." 

" And that is- 

<* If mv little woman thinks it right to act 
as she does, I also think it right to let her. the >' thought their duty, went on silently to- 
And let this be the law of our married life, if § ether t0 the last aa J oi Parting. 
we ever are married," and he sighed, " that It ^aa almost as }uiet a day as that never- 
w/len we differ each should respect the other's to-be-forgotten Sunday at Stowbury. They 
conscience, and do right in the truest sense,] went a long walk together, in the course ot 
by allowing the othtT to do the same." which Mr. Lyon forced her to agree to what 

"Oh Robert! how wood you are." hitherto she had steadfastly resisted that she 

So these two, an hour after, met Johanna^and Johauua should accept from In. a enongh; 
with cheerful faces : and she never knew how in addition to their own fifty pounds a year, to 
much bQth had sacrificed for her sake. Once enable them to live comfortably without her 
only, when she was for a few minutes absent working any more. 

from the parlor, did Robert Lyon renew the " Are you ashamed of my working?" she 
subject, to suggest a medium course. |asked, with something between a tear and a 

But Hilarv resolutely refused. !Not that smile. "Sometimes J used to be afraid you 
she doubted 'him— she doubted herself. She would thiuk the lefs of me because circum- 
kuew quite well by the pang that darted stances made me an independent woman, earn- 
through her like a shaft of ice, as she felt bis ing my own bread. Do you ?" 
warm'arm round her, and thought of the time " My darling, no. I am proud of her. But 
when she would feel it no more, that, after, she must never work any more, .lohanna 
she had been Robert Lyon's happy wife for WB right; it is a man's place, and not a wo- 
three months, to let him go to India without man's. I will not allow it." 
her would be simply and utterly impossible. When he spoke iu that tone Hilary always 

Fast fled «the months; they dwindled into submitted, 
weeks, and then into days. I shall not enlarge He told her another thing while arranging 
upon this time. Now," when the ends of the with her all the business part of their con- 
world have been drawn together, and everv Icerns, and to reconcile her to this partial de- 
famil v has one or more relatives abroad, a grief dependence upon him, which, he urged, was 
like Hilary's has become so common thatjonly forestalling his rights ; that before he first 
nearly every one can, in degree, understand it. quitted England.^even years ago, he had made 
How "bitter 'such partings are, bow much thev[his will, leaving her, if still unmarried, hia 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



Ill 



Hole heir and legatee, indeed in' exactly the! The night after Robert Lyon left, Hilary 
position that she would have been bad she'and Johanna were sitting together in their par- 
been his wife. » '{lor. 'Hilary had been writing a long lettei to 

"This will exists still ; so that in any pose Miss Balquidder, explaining that she would 



you a^> safe. No further poverty can ever 
befall my Hilary." 

His — his own — Robert Lyon's own. Her 

sense of this was so, strong that it took away 

I lie sharpness of the parting, made her feel, up 

■ to the very last minute, when she clung to 

him — was pressed close to him — heart to heart 



now give up in favor of the other young lady, 
or any other of the many to whom it would 
be a blessing, her position 'in the shop ; but 
that she hoped'Still to help her — Miss Bal- 
quidder — in any way she could point out that 
would be useful toothers. % She wished, in her 
humble way, as a sort of thank ottering from 



and lip to lip — for a space that seemed half a one who had passed through the waves and. 
life-time of mixed anguish and joy— thai he | been landed safe ashore, to help those who 
was notieallv going: that somehow or other, | were still struggling, as she herself had strug- 
nextdavor next week he would be back again, gled once. She desired, as far as in her lay, 
as in his frequent re-appearances, exactly as to be Miss Balquidder's "right hand" till Mr. 



ippearances 
before. 

When be was really gone — when, as shesat 
with her trarlcs^eyes fixed on the closeddoor 
— Johanna softly touched her, saying, " My 
child !" then Hilary learned it all. 

The next twenty-four hours will hardly 
bear being writen about. Most people know 
what it i. to miss the face out of the house — 
the life out of the heart. To come and go, to 
cat and drink, to lie down and rise, and find 
all things the same, and gradually to recognize 
that it must be the same, indefinitely, perhaps 



Lyon came home. 

This letter she read alouef to Johanna, 
whose failing eye sight refused all candlelight, 
occupation, and then came and sat beside her 
in silence. She felt terribly worn and weary, 
but she was very quiet now. 

"We must go to bed early," was all she 
s'aid'. 

"Yes, my child." 

And Johanna smoothed her hair in the old, 
fond way, making'no attempt to console her, 
but only to love h£r — always the safest con- 



al wavs. To be met continually bv small tri- elation. And Hilary was thankful that nev- 
er, even in her sharpest agonies of grief, had 
she betrayed that secret which would have 
made her sister's life miserable, have blotted 
out the thirty years of motherly love, and 
caused the other love to rise up like*a cloud 



lies — a dropped glove, a book, a scrap of 
handwriting that yesterday would have been 
thrown into the fire, but to-daVj is picked up 
aud kept as a relic: and at times, bursting 
' through the quietness which must be gained, 
or at least assumed, the cruel crafving for one 
word more — one kiss more — for only one five 
minutes of the eternally ended-yesterday ! 

All this hundreds have gone through ; so 
did Hilary. She said afterward it was good 
for her that she did; it would make her feel 
for others in a way she had never felt before. 
Also, because it taught her that such a heart- 
break can be borne and lived through when 
help is sought where only real help can be 
found ; and where, when reason fails, and 
those who, striving to do right irrespective of 
the consequences, cry out against their tor- 
ments, and wonder why they should be made 
so to sntt'er, childlike faith comes to their res- 
cue. For, let us have all the philosophy at 
our fingers' ends, what are we but children? 
We know not what a day may bring forth. 
All wisdom resolves itself into the simple 
hvntn which we learned when we were 



mnLT ; 



"D vp in unfathomable mines 

of never-failing skill, 
He treasures up His vast designs, 

And works His sovereign will. 

'' Blind unbelief is sure to err, 
And scan His work in vain : 

God is His own interpreter, 
And Ho will make it plain." 



between her and.it, never ,to be lifted until Jo- 
hanna sank into the possibly not, far-oft" grave. 

"No, no," she^thonght to herself, as she 
looked on that frail, old face, which even the 
secondary grief of this last week seemed to ' 
have made frailer and older. " No, it. is bet- 
ter as it is ; I believe I did right. The end « 
will show." 

The end was nearer than she thought. So. 
sometimes — not often, lest self-sacrifice should 
become a less holy thing than it is — Provi- 
denee accepts the will foi the act, an,d makes 
the latter needless. . 

There was a sucldfi knock at the hall door. 

"It. is the voung people coming in to sup- 
per." ' , 

"It'snot.i' said Hilary, starting up — "it's 
not their knock. It is — " 

She never finished the sentence, for she was 
sobbing in Robert Lyon's arms. 

" What does it all mean ?" cried the bewil- 
dered Johanna, of whom, I must confess, for 
once nobody took the least notice. • . 

It meant that, by one of these strange acci- 
dents, as we call them, which in a moment 
ialter the whole current of things, the senior 
ipartner had suddenly' died, and his son, not 
being qualified to take his place in the Liver- 
pool bouse, had to go out to India instead of 
Robert Lyon, who would now remain perma- 



112 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



nently, as the third senior partner, in Eng- 
land. « 

This news had met him at Southampton, 
He had gone thence direct to Liverpool, ar-l 
ranged affairs so far as was- possible, and re- 
turned, traveling without an hour's intermis-, 
sion, to tell his own tidings, as was best— or ; 
as he thought it was. » 

Perhaps at the core of his heart lurked the! 
desire to come suddenly back, as, it iseaid, if 
the absent or the dead should come, they I 
would find all things changed ; the place filled; 
up in home and hearth — no face of welcome 
— no heart leaping to heart in the ecstasy of 
reunion. j 

Well, if Robert Lyon had any misgivings — 
and being a man, and in love, perhaps he had 
—they were ended now. 

" Is she glad to see me '!" was all he could 
find to say when, Johanna having consider- 
ately vanished, he might have talked as much 
as he pleased. 

Hilary's only answer was a. little, low laugh 
of inexpressible content. 

He lifted up between his bands the sweet ; 
face, neithe* so young nor 80 pretty as it had 
been, but oh ! so sweet, with the sweetnees that 
long outlives beauty — a fade that a man might 
look on all his life time and never tire of — so, 
infinitely loving, so infinitely true ! And hei 
knew it was his wife's face, to shine upon himj 
day by day, and year by year, till it faded into^ 
old age— beautiful and beloved even then. All| 
the strong nature of the man gave way; hei 
wept almost like a child in his "little wo- 
man's" arms. 

Let us leave them theie, by that peaceful 
fireside- these two, who are to sit by one fire- 
side as Ions: as they live. Of their further 
fortune we know nothing — nor do they them- 
selves — except the one fact, in itself joy enough 
for any mortal cup to hold, that it. will be sha- 
red together. Two at the hearth, two abroad ; 
two to labor, two to rejoice : or, if so it must 
be, two to weep, and two to comfort one an- 
other ; the man to be the head of the woman, 
and the woman the heart of the man. This 
is the ordination of TJod ; th's is the perfect 
life'; none the less perfect that so many fall 
short of it. 

So'let us bid them good-ty- ; Robert Lyon 
and Hilary Leaf, "Good-by ; <iod he with 
ve !" for we shall see them no more. 



CHAPTER XXVri. 

Elizaseth stood at the nursery window. 
pointTng out to little Henry how the lilacs and 
laburnums were coming into flower in the 
square below, and speculating with him wheth-! 
er the tribe of sparrows which they had fedj 



all the winter from the mignonette boxes on 
the window sill would be building ne8ts in the 
tall trees of Russell Square : for she wished, 
with her great aversion to London, to make 
her nursling as far as possible " a c^untrv 
child." • 

Master Henry Leaf Ascott was by no means 
little now. He would run about on his totter- 
ing fat legs, and he could say, " Mammy Liz- 
zie," also, " Pa-pa," as had been carefully 
taught him by his conscientious nurse. At 
which papa had been at first excessively sur- 
prised, then gratified, and had at last taken 
kindly to the appellation as a matter of course. 

It inaugurated a new era in Peter Ascott's 
life. At first twice a week, and then every 
day, he sent up for " Master Ascott" to keep 
him company at dessert ; he then changed his 
dinner hour from half past six to five, because 
Elizabeth, with her- stern sacrifice of every 
thing to the child's good, had suggested to 
him, humbly but firmly, that late hours kept 
little Henry too. long out of his bed. He gave 
up his bottle of port and his after-dinuer sleep, 
and took to making water-lilies and caterpillars 
out of oranges and boats out of walnut shells, for 
his boy's special edification. Sometimes when, • 
at half past six, Elizabeth, punctual as clock- 
work, knocked at the dining room door, she 
heard father and son laughing together in a 
most jovial manner, though the decanters 
were in their places and the wine glasses un- 
touched. 

And even after the child disappeared, the 
butler declared that master usually took qui- 
etly to his newspaper, or rang for his tea, or 
perhaps dozed harmlessly in his chair till bed- 
time. 

I do not allege thatPeter Ascot t was mirac- 
ulously changed; people do not change, es- 
pecially at his age : externally he was still the 
same pompous, overbearing, coarse man, with 
whom, no doubt, his son would have a tolera- 
bly sore bargain in years to come. But still 
the child had touched a soft corner in his 
heart, the one soft corner which in his youth 
had yielded to the beauty of Miss Selina Leaf: 
and the old fellow was a better fellow than he 
had -once been. Probably, with care, he 
might be for the rest oi his life at least man- 
ageable. 

Elizabeth hoped so for his boy's sake, and 
little as she liked him, she tried to conquei 
her antipathy as much as she could. She al 
whys took care to treat him with extreme res- 
pect, and to bring up little Henry to do the ; >a me. 
And, as often happens, Mr. Ascott began gra- 
dually to comport himself. in a manner deser- 
ving of respect. He ceased his oaths and his 
coarse language : seldom flew into a passion : 
and last, not least, the butler avouched that 
master hardly ever went to bed " muzzy" now. 
Toward all his domestics, and especially his 
son's nurse, he behaved himself m«re like a 



MliSTKEiStf AiNU MAID. 



llo 



master ami less like a tyrant ; so lhat (lie es-;ot'Tom Chile's passing through the town as a 
tabliehment .it Russell Square went on iartist lecturer, or something of the sort, 

way more peaceful than bad ever been kmowrrwithdiis pretty, showy London wife, who, when 
before. be brought her there, had looked down rather 

There was no talk of bis giving it a new contemptuously upon the street where Tom 
mistress ; he seemed to have bad enough of was born. 

matrimony. Of his late wife be never spoke; This was all Elizabeth knew about them, 
whether he loved her or not, whether be had They, too, had passed from her life as phases 
regretted her or not, the love and regret werejof keen joy and keener sorrow do pass, like a 
now alike ended. dream and the shadows of a dream. It may 

Poor Selina ! It was Elizabeth only, who, 1,e > lile "self will seem atfthe end to be nothing 
with a sacred sense of dutv, occasionally talk-j more - 

ed to little Henry about "mamma up "there": But Elizabeth Hand's love story wa&notso 
— pointing to the blank bit of blue skv over to cr >d. 

the trees of Russell Square, and hoped in time ^ n e morning, the same morning when she 
to make him understand something about her, '"a 1 been pointing out the lilacs to little Henry, 
and how she had loved him, her " bSby." and now came iQ fro" 1 the square with a 
This love, the only beautiful emotion her "life branch of them in her hand, the postman gave 

her a letter, the handwriting of which made 
lur start as if it had been a visitation from the 
dead. 

'• Mammy Lizzie, mammy Lizzie l" cried 



had known, was the one fragment that remain 
ed of it alter her death : the one remembrance 
she left to her child. 



Little Henry was not in the least like her,',. 

little Henry, plucking at her gown, but for 



nor vet like his father. He took after some 



once his nurse did not notice him. She stood 



forgotten tvpe, some past generation of either 

•family, which reappeared Tn this as something ou the . dooi " ste P> .trembling violently ; at 



new. To Elizabeth he was a perfect revela- 
tion of beauty and infantile fascination. He 
rilled up every corner of her heart. She 
fat and flourishing, even cheerful : so cheerful 
that she bore with equanimity t'ae parting 



ength she put the letter into her pocket, lift- 
ed the child, and got up stairs somehow. 
When she had settled her charge to his mid- 
day sleep, then, and not till then, did she take 
out and read the few lines, which, though 



with her dear Miss Hilary, who wentawav in wri " , n on shabby paper, and with more than 
glory and happiness as Mrs. Robert Lyon', to on £ blb > w ? re «\hke.— yet so terribly unlike 



live 



in Liverpool, and Miss Leal' with her. 
Thus both Elizabeth's youthful dreams ended 
in -nothing, and it was more than probable 
that for the future their lives and her.- being 
so widely apart, she would see very little of 



-Tom's caligraphy of old : 



Deak Elizabeth, — I hare no right to ask any kindness 

of you: but if yon would like to see an old friend alive, I 

wish y<-<\ would conic and see me. I have be«n long of ask- 

i. lest you might fancy I wanted to get something out 

of you : tor I'm as poor as a rat ; and once lately I saw you, 

her beloved inistresses any more. But they '^.I^Ti^niJ^'itf^^^nH*? *t e «5 n,s $£ d 

, , . . . . , J , . , • 'Old luce, and 1 .should like to get one kind look from it bo- 

had done their work in her and lor her: and [fore I go where I sha'n't want any kindness from any body . 
it had borne fruit a hundred fold, and would ) ^ovrgver, do just as you choose. 
.1, •• i ours aftectionately, T. Cuffe. 



still 



• Underneath is my address." 



"1 know you will take care of this child — i Tl . , Al ,,,-,. 

he is the hope of the family," said Miss Leaf.,, U , was f ln one of thos f wretched nooks in 
when she was giving her last kiss to little Hen- J <sinuns er now swept away by Victoria 
rv. •< r could nut bear to leave him, if I were f tleel a " d ° ther improvements. Elizabeth 
not leaving him with you." happened to have read about it in one of the 

And Elizabeth had taken her charge proud- "W charitable pamphlets, reports, etc. 
Iv in her arms, knowing she was fruited, and * h,< * We t r t e sent formally to the wealthy 

inwardly vowing to be worthv of that trust, ^' ."^ >"• "'w, '" "? d ° Wn ""J? l ° 

: , ,. , , : at fires with. TV hat must not poor Tom 

Another dream was likewise ended ; so com- have sunk t0 belore be ] iadconie tolive there? 
pletely that she sometimes wondered if it was Hi(j ] clter waa like a c , out of the depths 
ever real; whether she had ever been a. happy ar ,d the voice was that of her youth, her first 
girl, looking forward as ^irls do to wifehood j ove ' - 

i: ' ' ' ;i ' ; is'anv woman i-v-r deaf to that? The love 

been always the staid middle aged peiso.ishe[ mav have died a natural death: many first 
was now, whom noboay ever suspected of any l oves do : a riper, completer, happierlove may 



such things. 



have come in its place ; but there must be some- 



She had been once back toher old home, to thing unnatural about the woman and man 
settle her mother comfortably upon a weekly. likewise, who can ever quite l >xge{ it— the 
allowance, to 'prentice her little brother, to lew of their youth-4he beauty of their dawn, 
see one sister married, and the other sent of) " Poor Tom, poor Tom 1" sighed Elizabeth, 
to Liverpool, to be servant to Mrs. Lyon. " mv own poor Tom •" -^ 
While at Stowbury, she had heard by chancel She forgot Esther ; either from Tom's not 



114 



MXSTRESS5AND MAID/ 






mentioning her, or in the strong return to old 
times which his letter produced ; forgot her for 
the time being as completely as if she had nev- 
er existed. Even when the recollection came 
it made little difference. The sharp jealousy, 
the dislike and contempt had all calmed dow» ; 
she thought she could now see Tom's wife as 
any other woman. Especially if, as the let- 
ter indicated, they were so very poor and mis- 
erable. 

Possibly Eether had suggested writing it? 
Perhaps, though Tom did not, Esther did 
" want to get something out of her" — Eliza- 
beth Hand, who was known to have large 
wage6, and to be altogether a thriving person ? 



minute's time. 'Can't last long, and Lord 
knows who's \v bury him." 

With tbatseniiM.ee knelling in her ears, Eli- 
zabeth waited till she heard the short cough 
and the hard breathing of some one toiling 
heavily up the stair. 

Tom, Tom himself. But oh, so altered ! 
with every bit of youth gone out of him ; with 
death written on every line of his haggard 
face, the death he had once prognosticated 
with a sentimental pleasure, but which now 
had come upon bim in all its ghastly reality. 

He was in the last stage of consumption. 
The disease was latent in his family, Elizabeth 
knew : she had known it when she belonged 



Well it mattered little. Theone fact remain> *» m . and fondly thought that as his wife, 
ed: Tom was in distress; Tom needed her ;! her incessant care might save him from it ; 
i ^....i. _ n I but nothing could save him now. 

sne must go. « wbo > B tbat? » 8aid he in bis own 8harp , 

Her only leisure time was of an evening, fretful voice> 
after Henry was in bed. The in ervening! <<M Tom> B d , t ^ gu down 

hours especially the last one when th. chil d m ^ h , 8 Qver „ 
was down stairs with bis father, calmed her ; Tom ^ her hand a8 ghe 8tood b bi 
subdued the tumult of old remembrances that bufc he ^ QO mnher demonstration> nor 
came surging up and beating at the long sbtu med ex reseion of grat i tude . He seemed 
door of her heart When her boy returned far too fa ^ £ are alwa 8 ab80 rbed 

leaping and laughing, and playing all sorts of in tbe 8ad ent K t £ 8eldom trouble tbem . 
tricks as she put him to bed, she could smile eelyea muc £ about tbe J L 0nl there wap 



too. And when kneeling beside her in his 
pretty white night gown, he stammered 
through the prayer she had thought it right 
to begin to teach him, though of course he 
was too young to understand it — the words 
" Thy will be done ;" " Forgive us our tres-i 
passes, as we forgive those who trespass 
against us ;" and lastly, " Lead us not into 
temptation, but deliver us from evil," struck 
home to his nurse's inmost soul. 
"Mammy, mammy Lizzie's 'tying." 



something in the way Tom clung to her hand, 
helplessly, imploringly, that moved the inmost 
heart of Elizabeth. 

" I'm veiy bad, you see. This cough ; oh, 
it shakes me dreadfully ; especially of nights." 

" Have you any doctor ?" 

." The druggist close by, or rather, the drug- 
gist's shopman. He's a very kind young fel- 
low, from our county, I fancy,' for he asked me 
once if I wasn't a Stowbury man ; aud ever 
since he has doctored me for nothing, and 



Yes, she" was crying, but it did her good iyen me ghim nQW and then f wben 

She was able to kiss her little boy, who slept f , ye been a>mo8t c f emmed to death in tbe win . 
like a top in hve minutes: then she took on . „ 
ler good silk gown, and dressed herself; so- /, 0b< Tom> wby d;dn , t you wrJte to me be . 

fore. Have you actually wanted food ?" 



berly and decently, but so that people should 
not suspect, in that low and dangerous neig h- 
borhood, the sovereigns that she carried in an 
under pocket, ready to use as occasion requ ir- 
ed. Thus equipped, without a minute's delay, 
she started for Tom's lodging. 

It was poorer than even she expected. One 



" Yes, many a time 
this twelvemonth." 
"But Esther?" 
" Who ?" screamed Tom 
" Your wife ?" 



I've been out of work 






She spent ev- 



" My wife ? I've got none? 
attic room, baie almost as when it was built.j ery thing till I fell ill, and then she met a fel- 
No chimney or grate, no furniture except aji ow w ;t b lots of money. Curse her I", 
box which served as both table and chair ; and The fury with which -he spoke shook him 
a heap of straw, with a blanket thrown over a n overj and 6en t him into another violent fit 
it. The only comfort about it was that it was f coughing, out of which he revived by de 
clean ; Tom's innate sense of refinement had 
abided with him to the last. 

Elizabeth had time to make all these obser- 
vations, tor Tom was out — gone, the landlady 
said, to the druggist's shop, round the corner 



He's very bad, 



ma'am," 



added the wo- 
man, civilly, probably led thereto by Eliza- 
beth's respectable appearance, and the cab in 



grees, but in a state of such complete exhaub- 
tion that Elizabeth hazarded no more ques- ; 
tions. He must evidently be dealt with exactly 
like a child. 

She made up her mind in her own silent 
way, as indeed she had done ever since she 
came into the room. 

" Lie down, Tom, aud keep yourself quiet 



which she had come — lest she should loBe ajfor a little. I'll be back as soon as I can- 



MISTRESS AffD MAID, 



115 



back with something to do you good. You 
won't object." 

" No, no ; you can do any thing you like 
with me. You always could." 

Elizabeth groped her way down stairs 
strangely calm and self-possessed. There was 
need. Tom, dying, had come to her as his 
sole support and consolation — throwing him- 
self helplessly upon her, never doubting either 
her will or her power to help him. Neither 
must fail. The inexplicable woman's strength, 
sometimes found in the very gentlest, quietest, 
and apparently the weakest character, nerved 
her now. 

She went up and down, street after street, 
looking for lodgings, till the evening darkened, 
and the Abbey towers rose grimly against the 
summer sky. Then she crossed over West- 



night, when I've lain on that straw, and 
thought I was dying, I've remembered you 
and all the things you used to say to me. 
You are a good woman ; thefe never was a 
better." 

Elizabeth smiled, a faint, rather sad smile. 
For, as she was washing up the tea things, 
she had noticed Tom's voice grow feebler, and 
his features sharper and more wan. 

" I'm very tired," he said. " I'm afraid to 
go to bed, I get such wretched nights ; but I 
think, if I lay down in my clothes, I could go 
to sleep." 

Elizabeth helped him to the small pallet, 
shook his pillow, and covered him up as if he 
had been a child. 

" You're very good to me," he said, and 
looked up at her— Tom's bright, fond look of 



minster Bridge, and in a little street on the years ago. But it passed away in a moment, 
Surrey side she found what she wanted — a and he closed hia eyes, saying he was so ter 
decent room, half sitting, half bedroom, with'ribly tired 



what looked like a decent landlady. There 
was no time to make many inquiries ; any 
any thing was better than to leave Tom an 
other night where he was. 

She paid a week's rent" in advance ; bought 
firing and provisions ; every thing she could 
think of to make him comfortable ; and then 
she went to fetch him in a cab. 

The sick man offered no resistance ; indeed, 
he hardly seemed to know what she was doing 
with him. She discovered the cause of this 
half insensibility when, in making a bundle of 
his few clothes, she found a package labeled 
" opium." 

" Don't take it from me," he said pitifully, 
" it's the only comfort I have." 

But when he found himself in the cheerful 
room, with the fire blazing and the tea laid 
out, he woke up like a person out of a bad 
dream. 

"Oh, Elizabeth, I'm so comfortable!" 

Elizabeth could have wept. 

Whether the wholesome food and drink re- 
vived him, or whether it was one of the sud 
den flashes of life that often occur in consump- 
tive patients, but he seemed really better, and 
began to talk, telling Elizabeth about his 
long illness, and saying over again how very 
kind the druggist's young man had been to 
him. 

" I'm sure he's a gentleman, though he has 
come down in the world ; for, as he says, 'mis- 
ery makes a man acquainted with strange 
bedfellows, and takes the nonsense out of him.' 
I think so too, and if ever 1 get better, I don't 
mean to go about the country speaking ag~" 
born gentlefolks any more. They're *" 
a muchness with ourselves — bad and ^ 
little of all sorts ; the same flesh and blooT 
we are. Aren't they, Elizabeth ?" 

" I suppose so." 

" And there's another thing I mean to do. 
I mean to try and be good like you. Many a 



"Then I'll bid you good-by, for I ought to 
have been at home by now. You'll take care 
of yourself, Tom, and I'll come and see you 
again the very first hour I can be spared. 
And if you want me you'll send to me at once ? 
You know where ?" 

" I will," said Tom. " Its the same house, 
isn't it, in Kussell Square ?" 

" Yes." And they were both silent. 

After a minute, Tom asked, in a troubled 
voice, 

" Have you forgiven me?" 

" Yes, Tom, quite." 

"Won't you give me one kiss, Elizabeth V 

She turned away. She did not mean to be 
hard, but somehow she could not kiss Esther's 
husband. 

" Ah, well ; it's all the same! good-by !" 

"Good-by, Tom." 

But as she stood at the door, and looked 
back at him lying with his eyes shut, and as 
white as if he were dead, Elizabeth's heart 
melted. He was her Tom, her own Tom, of 
,whom she had been so fond, so proud ; whose 
future she had joyfully anticipated long before 
she thought of herself as mixed up with it ; 
and he was dying, dying at four-and-twenty ; 
passing away to the other world, where, per- 
haps, she might meet him yet, with no cruel 
Esther between. 

"Tom," she said, and knelt beside him, 
" Tom, I didn't mean to vex you. I'll try to 
be as good as a sister to you. I'll never for- 
sake you as long as you live." 

" I know you never will." 

' Good-by, then, for to-night." 

And she did kiss him, mouth to mouth, 

letly and tenderly. She was so glad of it 
ward. 

was late enough when she reached Rug- 

Square^ but nobody ever questioned the 

"ingsof Mrs. Hand, who was a privileg- 

She crept in beside her little Hear 



Tfl 



selLS 

proceedings c 
ed pewgm.^ I 



lies 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



ry, and as the child turned in his sleep and " And you say he is aStowbury man ? That 
put his arms about her neck, she clasped him is certainly a claim. I always feel bound, 
tight, and thought there was still something somewhat as a member o! Parliament might 
to live for in this weary world. , to do mj best for any one belongingto my 

All night she thought over what best could native town. So be satisfied, Mrs. Hand; 
be done for Tom. Though she never deceived consider the thing settled." 
herself for a moment as to his state, .still she And he was going away: but time being of 
thought, with care and proper puraing, he such great moment, Elizabeth ventured to de- 
might live a few months. Especially if she tain him till he had written the letter of re- 
could get him into the Consumption Hospital, commendation, and found out what days the 
newly started in Chelsea, of which she was application for admission could be received, 
aware Mr. Ascott — who dearly loved to see his He did it very patiently, and even took out his 
name in a charity list — was one of the gov- purse and laid a sovereign on the top of the 
ernors. letter. 

There was no time to be lost ; she determin-j " I suppose the man is poor ; you can use 



ed to speak to her master at once 

The time she chose was when she brought 
down little Henry, who was now always ex- 
pected to appear, and say, " Dood morning, 
papa," before Mr. Ascott went into the city. 

As they stood, the boy laughing in his fa- 



this for his benefit." 

" There is no need, thank you, Sir," said 
Elizabeth, putting it gently aside. She could 
not bear that Tom should accept any body's 
money but her own. 

At her first spare moment she wrote him a 



ther's face, and the father beaming all over long letter explaining what she had done*, and 
with delight, the bitter, almost fierce thought, appointing the next day but one, the earliest 
emote Elizabeth, Why should Peter Ascott be possible, for taking him out to Chelsea her- 
standing there fat and flourishing, and poor|self. If he objected to the plan, he was to 
Tom dying ? It made her bold to ask the> write and say so ; but she urged him as strong- 
only favor she ever had asked of the master! ly as she could not to let slip this opportunity 
whom she did not care for, and to whom she of obtaining good nursing and first rate medi- 
had done her duty simply as duty, without.ical care, 
until lately, one fragment of lespect. Many times during the day the thought of 

"Sir, if you please, might I speak with you Tom alone in his one room — comfortable 
a minute before you go out?" [though it was, and though she had begged the 

"Certainly, Mrs. Hand. Any thing about landlady to see that he wanted nothing — came 
Master Henry? Or perhaps yourself ? You across her with a sudden pang. His face, 
want more wages? Very well. I shall be feebly lifted up from the pillow, with its last 
glad, in any reasonable way. to show my sat- affectionate smile, the sound of his cough as 



isfaction at the manner in which you bring up 
my son." 

"Thank you, Sir,'" said Elizabeth, courtsey- 
ing. " But it is not that." 

And in the briefest language she could find 
she explained what it was. 



she stood listening outside on the stair head, 
haunted her all through that sunshiny dune 
day : and, mingled with it, came ghostly vis- 
ions of that other day in June — her happy 
Wliitsnn holiday — her first and her last. 
Xo letter coming from Tom on theappoint- 



Mr. Ascott knitted his brows and looked ed morning, she left Master Henry in the 
important. He never scattered h's benefits charge of the house-maid, who was very fond 
with a silent hand, and he dearly liked to cre-^ of hi in — as indeed he bade fair to be spoiled 
ate difficulties, if only to show how he could by the whole establishment a'. Eussell Square 



smooth them down. 

"To get a patient admitted at the Oonsump- 



-and went down to Westminster. 
There was alougdav before her, so she took 



tion Hospital, is, you should be aware, no easy a minute's breathing space on Westminstei 
matter, until the building at Queen*s Elm is Bridge, and watched the great current of Lon 



complete. But I flatter myself I have influ- 
ence. I have subscribed a deal of money. 
Possibly the person may be got in in time. 
Who did you say he was?" 

"Thomas Clifie. He married one of the 
servants here, Esther — " 

" Oh, don't trouble yourself about the namef 
[ shouldn't recollect it. The housekeeper 



don life ebbing and flowing--life on the river 
and life on the shore : every body sobusy and 
active and bright. 

" Poor Tom, poor Tom !" she sighed, and 
wondered whether his ruined life would ever 
corne-to any happy ending, except death, 
she hurried on, and soon found the street 
ce she had taken his lodging. At the cor- 



might. Why didn't his wife apply to «the'l«Tr of it was, as is too usual in London streets, 
housekeeper?" a public house, about which more than the 

The careless question seemed hardly to ex- usual number of disreputable idlers were hang- 



pect an answer, and Elizabeth gave none. "She 
could not bear to make public Tom'swnisery 
and. Esther's shame. -m 



There were also one or two policemen, 
who were ordering the little crowd to give way 
to a group of twelve men, coming out. 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



117 



What is that?" asked Elizabefti. [delivered their verdict, as the astute policeman 

" Coroner's inquest : jury proceeding to view had foretold, " Died by the visitation of God ;" 

the body." took pipes and brandy all round at the bar, 

Elizabeth, who had never come into contact and then adjourned to their several homes, 

with any thing of the sort, stood aside with a gratified at having done their duty to their 

sense of awe, to let the little procession pass,:country. 

and then followed up the street. Meantime, Elizabeth crept up stairs. No- 

It stopped; oh no ! not at that door! But body hindered or followed her ; nobody cared 

it was: there was no mistaking the number, any thing for the solitary dead. 

nor the drawn-down blind in the upper room — There he lay — poor Tom ! almost as she had 

Tom's room. left him ; the counterpane was hardly disturb- 

" Who is dead?" she asked, in a whisper ed, the candle she had placed on the chair had 



that made the policeman stare 

"Oh! nobody particular; a young man, 
found dead in his bed : supposed to be a case 
of consumption; verdict will probably be, 
' Died by the visitation of God !' " 

Ay, that familiar phrase, our English law's 
solemn recognition of our national religious 
feeling, was true. God had "visited" poor 
Tom : he suffered no more. 

Elizabeth leaned against the door-way, and 
saw the twelve jurymen go up stairs with a 
clatter of feet, and come down again, one after 
the other, less noisily, and some of them look- 
ing grave. Nobody took any notice of her, 
until the lodging house mistress appeared. 

"Oh, here she is, gentlemen. This is the 
young woman as saw him last alive. She'll 
give her evidence. She'll teli you I'm not .a 
hit to blame." 



burned down to a bit of wick, which still lay 
in the socket. Nobody had touched him, or 
any thing about him, as, in all cases of "Found 
dead," English law exacts. 

Whether he had died soon after she quitted 
him that night, or whether he had lingered 
through the long hours of darkness, or of day- 
light following, alive and conscious perhaps, 
yet too weak to call any one, even had there 
been any one he cared to call — when, or how, 
the spirit had passed away unto Him who 
gave it, were mysteries that could never be 
known. 

But it was all over now ; helay at rest with 
the death smile on his face. Elizabeth, as she 
stood and looked at him, could not, dared not 
weep. 

" My poor Tom, my own dear Tom," was 
all she thought, and knew that he was all her 



And pulling Elizabeth after her, the landla- own now; that she had loved him through 



dy burst into a torrent of explanation : how 
she had done her very best for the poor fellow ; 
how she listened at his door several times du- 
ring the first day, and heard him cough, that 
is, 'she thought she had, but toward night all 
was so very quiet ; and there having come a 
letter by post, she thought she would take it 
up to him. 

" And I went in, gentlemen, and I declare, 
upon my oath, I found him lying just as he is 
now, and as cold as a stone." 

" Let me pass : I'm a doctor," said somebo- 
dy behind: a young man, very shabbily dress- 
ed, with a large beard. 

landlady and Elizabeth, till he saw the latter's 
face. W^a. 

"Give that young woman a chair and a 
glass of water, will you ?" he called out; and 
his authoritative manner impressed the jury- 
men, who gathered around him, ready and 
eager to hear any thing he could say. 

He gave his name as John Smith, druggist's 
assistant : said that the young man who lodged 
up stairs, whose death he had only just heard 
of, had been his patient for some months, and 
was in the last stage of consumption. He had 
no doubt the death had ensued from perfectly 
natural causes, as he explained in such tech- 
nical language as completely to overpower the 
jury, and satisfy them accordingly. They 
quitted the parlor, and proceeded to the public 
house, where, after a brief consultation, they 



every thing, and loved him to the end. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Elizabeth spent the greatest part of her 
holiday in that house, in that room. Nobody- 
interfered with her ; nobody asked in what re- 
lation she stood to the deceased, or what right 
she had to take upon herself the arrangements 
for his funeral. Every body was only too glad 
to let her assume a responsibility which would 
He pushed aside the otherwise have fallen on the parish. 

The only person who appeared to remember 
either her or the dead man was the druggist's 
assistant, who sent in the necessary medical 
certificate as to the cause of death. Elizabeth 
took it to the Registrar, and thence proceeded 
to an undertaker hard by, with whom shear- 
ranged all about the funeral, and that it 
should took place in the new cemetery at 
Kensal Green. She thought she should like 
that better than a close, noisy London church 
yard. 

Before she left the house she saw poor Tom 
laid in his coffin, and covered up forever from 
mortal eyes. Then, and not till then, she sat 
herself down beside him and wept. 

Nobody contested with her the possessson 
of the few things that had belonged to him, 
which were scarcely more than the clothes he 



118 



MISTRESS AKD MAID. 



had on whmi he died ; so she made them up and his generally depressed air, giving the ef- 
into a parcel and took them away with her. feet of one who had gone down in the world, 



In his waistcoat pocket she found one book, 
a little Testament, which she had given him 
herself. It looked as if tt had been a good 
deal read. If all his studies, all his worship 
of "pure intellect," as the one supreme good, 
had ended in that, it was a blessed ending. 



made him, even without the misleading "John 
Smith," most unlikely 10 be identified with 
the Ascott Leaf of old. 

" I never should have known you, Sir I" 
6aid .Elizabeth truthfully, when her astonish- 
ment had alittle subsided ; "but I am very glad 



When she reached home Elizabeth went at [to see you. Oh how thankful your aunts will 
once to her master, returned him his letter ofjbe !" 

recommendation, and explained to him that " Do you think so? I thought it was quite 
his kindness was not needed now. the contrary. But it does not matter; they 

Mr. Ascott seemed a good deal shocked, in- 1 will never hear of me unless you tell them — 
quired from her a few particulars, and again and I believe I may trust you. You would 
took out his purse, his one panacea for alii not betray me, if only for the sake of that poor 
mortal woes. But Elizabeth declined ; she'fellow yonder?" 
said she would only ask him for an advance! " No, Sir." 

of her next half-year's wages. She preferred! " Now, tell me something about my aunts, 
burying her old friend herself. Especially my aunt Johanna." 

She buried him, herself the only mourner,! And sitting down in the sunshine, with hie 
on a bright summer's day, with the sun shi-|arms upon the back of the bench, and his hand 
ning dazzlingly on the white grave stones inj hiding his eyes, the poor prodigal listened in 
Kensal Green. The clergyman appeared, read |silence to every thing Elizabeth told him; of 
theservice, andwentaway again. Afewmin-ihis Aunt Selina's marriage and death, and of 
wtes ended it all. When the undertaker and | Mr. Lyon's return, and o£the happy home at 



his men had also departed, she sat down on a 
bench near to watch the sexton filling up the 
grave — Tom's gra u e. She was very quiet, and 
none but a closely observant person watching 
her face could have penetrated into the truth 



Liverpool. 

" They are all quite happy, then ?" said he, 
at length ; "they seem to have begun to pros- 
per ever since they got rid of me. Well, I'm 
glad of it. I only wanted to hear of them from 



of what your impulsive characters, always in; you. I shall never trouble them anymore, 
the extremes of mirth or misery, never under-! You'll keep my secret, I know. And now I 
stand about quiet people, that "still waters' must go, for I have not a minute more to 
run deep." jspare. Good-by, Elizabeth." 

While she sat there some, one came past With a humility and friendliness, strange 
her, and turned round. It was the shabby-lenough in Ascott Leaf, he held out his hand 
looking chemist's assistant, who had appeared! — empty, for he had nothing to give now — to 
at the inquest, and given the satisfactory evi-ihis aunt's old servant. But Elizabeth detain- 
dence which had prevented the necessity of herled him. 
giving hers. " Don't go, Sir, please, don't ; not just yet." 

Elizabeth rose and acknowledged him with And then she added, with an earnest respeol- 
a respectable courtesy ; for undei his thread- fulness that touched the heart of the poor, 



bare clothes was the bearing of a gentleman, 
and he had been so kind to Tom. 

" I am too late," he said ; " the funeral is 
over. I meant to have attended it, and seen 
the last of the poor fellow." 

" Thank you, Sir," replied Elizabeth, grate- 
fully. 

The young man stood before her, looking at 
her earnestly for a minute or two, and then 
exclaimed, with a complete change of voice 
and manner, 

" Elizabeth, don't you know me ? What 
has become of my aunt Johanna ?" 

It was Ascott Leaf. 

But no wonder Elizabeth had not recogni- 
zed him. His close cropped hair, his large 
beard hiding half his face, and a pair of spec- 
tacles which he had assumed, were a sufficient 
disguise. Besides, the great change from his 
former " dandy" appearance to the extreme of 
shabbiness : his clothes being evidently worn 
as long as they could possibly hold together, 



was not a bad fel- 

I think ; and I was 

help him a little. 



shabby man, " I hope you'll pardon the liberty 
I take. I'm only a servant, but I knew you 
when you were a boy, Mr. Leaf: and if you 
would trust me, if you would let me be of use to 
you in any way — if only because you were so 
so good to him there." 

"Poor Tom Cliffe; he 
low ; he liked me rather, 
able to doctor him and 
Heigh-ho ; it's a comfort to think I ever did 
any good to any body." 

Ascott sighed, drew his rusty coat sleeve* 
across his eyes, and 6at contemplating hi* 
boots, which were any thing but dandy boots 
now. 

"Elizabeth, what relation was Tom to you? 
If I had known you were acquainted with him 
I should have been afraid to go near him ; but 
I felt sure, though became from Stowbury, he 
did not guess who I was ; he only knew me as 
Mr. Smith ; and he never once mentioned you. 
Was he your cousin, or what?" 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



119 



Elizabeth considered a moment, and thenjhad paid the cost of his sin in bitter suffering; 
told the simple tact ; it could not matter now. J but the result was cheaply bought, and he al- 

" I was once going to be married to him, ready began to feel that it was so. 
but he saw somebody he liked better, and "Yes," said he, in answer to a question of 



1 really am, 
I used to be. 



for some things, 
I feel more like 



saw someooay ne iiKea oetter, ana i es, sai 
married her.'' Elizabeth's, 

" Poor girl ; poor Elizabeth '!" happier than 

Perhaps nothing could have shown the great what I was in the old days, when I was a lit- 
chauge in Ascott more than the tone in which tie chap at Stowbury. Poor old Stow bury ! 1 
he uttered these words ; a tone of entire re6- often think of the place in a way that's per- 
pect and kindly pity, from which he never jfectly ridiculous. Still, if any thing happened 
once departed during that conversation, and > to me, I should like my aunts to know it, and 
many, many others, so long as their confiden- that I didn't forget them." 
dential relations lasted. " But, Sir," asked Elizabeth earnestly, " do 

" Now, Sir, would you be so kind as to tell you never mean to go near your aunts again ?" 
me something about yourself ? I'll not repeat: "I can't say; it all depends upon circum- 
any thing to your annts, if you don't wish it." 'Stances. I suppose," he added, " if, as is said, 

Ascott yielded. He had been so long, so 'one's sin is sure to find one out, the same rule 



utterly forlorn. He sat down beside Eliza- 
beth, and then, with eyes often averted, and 
with many breaks between, which she had to 
rill up as best as she could, he told her all his 
story, even to the sad secret of all, which had 
caused him to run away from home, and hide 
himself in the last place where they would 
have thought he was, the safe wilderness of 
London. There, carefully disguised, he had 



goes by contraries. It seems poor Cliffe once 
spoke of me to a district visitor, the only vis- 
itor he ever had ; and this gentleman, hearing 
of the inquest, came yesterday to inquire about 
him of me ; and the end was that he offered 
me a situation with a person he knew, a very 
respectable chemist in Tottenham Court 
Road." 
" And shall you go ?" 



lived decently while his money lasted, andj "To be sure. I've learned to be thankful 
then, driven step by step to the brink of des- for small mercies. Nobody will find me out. 
titution, he had offered himself for employ-jor recognize me. You didn't. Who knows? 
ment in the lowest grade of his own profession, I may even have the honor of dispensing drugs 
and been taken as assistant by the not over- to Uncle A6cott of Russell Square." 
scrupulous chemist and druggist in that not! " But, said Elizabeth, after a pause, "you 
too respectable neighborhood of Westminster, will not always remain as John Smith, drug- 
with a salary of twenty pounds a year. (gist's shopman, throwing away all your good 

"And 1 actually live upon it!" added he,! education, position, and name?" 
with a bitter smile. "I can't run into debt; 1 "Elizabeth," eaid he, in a humbled tone, 
for who would trust me ? And I dress in rags" how dare I ever resume my own name and 
almost, as you see. And I get my meals howiget back my rightful position while Peter As> 
and where I can ; and I sleep under the shop,cott lives ? Can you or any body point out a 
counter. A pretty life for Mr. Ascott Leaf, 'way?" 



isn't it now ? What would my aunts say if 
they knew it V" 

"They would say that it was an honest life, 
and that they were not a bit ashamed of you." 

Ascott drew himself up a little, and his chest 
heaved visibly under the close buttoned, thread 
bare coat. 

" Well, at least, it is a life that makes no- 
body else miserable." 

Ay, that wonderful teacher, Adversity. 

" Which, like the toad, ugly ami venomous, 
Wears jet a precious jewel iu its head," 



She thought the question over in her clear 
head; clear still, even at this hour, when she 
had to think for others, though all personal 
feeling and interest were buried in that grave 
over which the sexton was now laying the turf 
that would soon grow smoothly green. 

" If I might advise, Mr. Leaf, I should say, 
save up all your money, and then go, just as 
you are, with an honest, bold front, right into 
my master's house, with the fifty pounds in 
your hand — " 

" By .love, you've hit it !" cried Ascott, start- 



ling up. " What a thing a woman's head is ! 
had left behind this jewel in the young man's: I've turned over scheme alter scheme, but ] 
heart. A disguised, beggaied outcast, he had<never once thought of any thing so simple as 



found out the value of an honest name; forsa- 
ken, unfriended, he had learned the precious- 
uees of home and love ; made a servant of, tyr- 



that. Bravo. Elizabeth ! You're a remarkable 
woman." 

She smiled — a verv sad smile — but still she 



annized over, and held in low esteem, he had! felt glad. Any thing that she could possibly 
been taught by hard experience the secret of do for any creature belonging to her dear mis- 
true humility and charity — the esteeming of tresses seemed to this faithful servant the nat- 
others better than himself. jural and bounden duty of her life. 

Not with all natures does misfortune soi Long after the young man, whose mercurial 
work, but it did with his. He had sinned : he! temperament no trouble could repress, had 



120 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



gone away in excellent spirits, leaving her an young man wanting to speak to master on par- 
address where 6he could always find him, and ticular business, 
give him regular news of his aunts, though he 1 " Let him send in his name." 
made her promise to give them, as yet, no ti- " He says you wouldn't know it, .Sir." 
dings in return, Elizabeth sat still, watching! ''Show him in, then. Probably a case of 
the sun decline and the shadows lengthen over charity, as usual. Oh I" 
the field of graves. In the calmness and beau-| And Mr. Ascott's opinion was confirmed by 
ty of this solitary place an equal calm seemed the appearance of the shabby young man with 
to come over her ; a sense of how wondertullylthe long beard, whom Elizabeth did not won- 
events had linked themselves together and der he never recognized in the least 
worked themselves out ; how even poor Tom's She ought to have retired, and yet she could 
mournful death had brought about this meet- not. She hid herself^partly behind the door, 



afraid of passing Ascott ; dreading alike to 
wound him by recognition or non-recognition. 
But he took no notice. He seemed excessive- 
ly agitated. 

" Come a-begging, young man, I suppose ? 
Wanted situation, as hundreds do, and think 
that I'have half the clerkships in the city at 



ing, which might end in restoring to her be- 
loved mistresses their los,t sheep, their outcast, 
miserable boy. She did not reason the matter 
out, but she felt it, and felt that in making her 
in some degree His instrument God had been 
very good to her in the midst of her desola- 
tion. 

It seemed Elizabeth's lot always to have to' my disposal, ami that I am made of money 
put aside her own troubles for the trouble of besides. But it's no good, I tell you, Sir; J 
somebody else. Almost immediately after never give nothing tostrangers, except — Here, 
Tom Cliffe's death her little Henry fell ill Henry, my eon, take that person there this 
with scarlatina and remained for many months half crown." 

in a state of health so fragile as to engross alll And the little boy, in his pretty purple vel- 
her thought and care. It was with difficulty vet frock and his prettier face, trotted across 
that she contrived a few times to go for Hen- the room and put the money into poor Ascott's 
ry's medicines to the shop where "John hand. He took it ; and then to the astonish- 
Smrth" served. ment of Master Henry, and the still greater 

She noticed that every timehelookedhealth-iastonishment of his father, lifted up the child 
ier, brighter, freer from that aspect of broken-land kissed him. 
down respectability which had touched hersOj " Young man, voung fellow- 



much. He did not dress any better, but still 
" the gentleman" in him could never be hid- 
den or lost, ami he said his master treated him 
" like a gentleman," which was apparently a 
pleasant novelty. 

" I have some time to myself also. 
shuts at nine, and I get up at 5 a. ?.i.- 
us ! what would my Aunt Hilary say ? 
it's not for nothing. There are more 



I see you don't know me, Mr. Ascott, and 
it's not surprising. But I have come to repay 
you this — " he laid a fifty pound note down on 
the table. " Also, to thank you earnestly for 
not prosecuting me, and to say — " 

"Good God I" — the sole expletive Peter As- 

blesscott had been heard to use for long. " Ascott 

AndjLeaf, is that you? I thought you were in 

ways I Australia, or dead, or something." 



Shop 



than one of turning an honest penny, when a " No, I'm alive and here, more's the pity 
young fellow really sets about it. Elizabeth, perhaps. Except that I have lived to pay you 
you used to be a literary character yourself : back what I cheated you out of. What you 
look into the and the ," (naming two, generously gave me I can't pay, though I un- 
popular magazines), and if you find a series of sometime. Meantime, I have brought you 
especially clever papers on sanitary reform, this. It's honestly earned. Yes," observing 

the keen doubtful look," though I have hard- 
ly a coat to my back, I assure you it's hon- 
estly earned." 

Mr. Ascott made no reply. He stooped 
over the bank-note, examined it, folded it, and 
put it into his pocket-book ; then, after anoth- 
er puzzled investigation of Ascott. cleared his 
It was on a snowv February day, when, throat, 
having brought the child home quite strong,. "Mrs. Hand, you had better take Master 
and received unlimited gratitude and guineas; Henry up stairs." 

from the delighted father, Master Henry's An hour alter, when little Henry had long 
faithful nurse stood in her usual place at the been sound asleep, and she was sitting at her 
dining-room door, waiting tor the intermiha- usual evening sewing in her solitary nursery, 
ble grace of " only five minutes more" to be Elizabeth learned that the "shabby young 
over, and her boy carried ignominiously but man" was still, in the dining-room with Mr. 

Ascott, who had rung (or tea, and some cold 



and so on, I did em :" 

He slapped his chest with Ascott's merry 
laugh of old. It cheered Elizabeth for a long 
while afterward. 

By-and-by she had to take little Henry to 
Brighton, and lost sight of " John Smith" for 
some time longer 



contentedly to bed 

The footman knocked at the door. 



meat with it. And the footman stated, with 



MISTRESS AND MAID. 



? 




i amazement, that the shabby young was gone to bed, she stoodat the nursery win- 
i.i m • ! actually sitting at the same table dow. looking down upon the. trees of the 
with master! squatie, that stretched their motionless arms 

Elizabeth smiled to herself and held her up into the moonlight sky — just such a moon- 
Now, a9 ever, -he always kept the light as it was once, more than three years 
Mcrets of the family. ago, the night tittle Henry was born. Ant 

About ten o'clock she was summoned to the she recalled all the past, from the day whet 
dining room. Miss Hilary hung up her bonnet for her i 

re stood Peter Ascott, pompous is ever, the house-place at Stowbury ; the dreary li 
but with a cerium kindly good-humor lighten- at No. l- r > : the Sunday nights when she 
ing up his heavy face, looking eondescendingly'Tom Cliffe used to go wandering round an 

•and him, and occasionally rubbing his round the square. 
hand- slowly together, a j if he were exceed- "Poor Tom," said she to herself, thinking 
ing'.y well pleased with himself. There stood of A-c ott Leaf, and how happy he had looked, 
ill Leaf, looking bright and handsome, in and how happy his aunts would be to-morrow, 
spite of and quite at his ease " Well, Tom would be glad too, if he knew 

- — which small peculiarity was never likely to &H. ' 

I ? knocked out of him under the titost depress- Li;', happy' as every body was, there was 
circumstances. othing so close to Elizabeth's heart as the 

He shook hand- with Elizabeth warmly. one grave over which the snow was now lyi 
•• I wanted i<> ask you if you have any mes- white and peaceful, out at Keusal Green. 
■ for (jiverpool. ! go there to-morrow on 
I i-iuess for Mr. Ascott, and afterward 1 shall 

ably go and see my aunts." He faltered Elizabeth is still living — which is a gre 
;i moment, hut quickly shook the emotion off. blessing; for nobody could well do without he 
'•■)[ I shall tell them all about yqu, She will probably attain a good old age ; bein 

ibeth. Any special message, eh ?" .healthy and-strong., very equable in tempt 

•• ( hiiy my duty. Sir, and Master Henry is now, and very cheerful too, in her quiet wa> 
quite well again." said Elizabeth, formally, jDoubtless, she will yet have Master Henry > 
and droppiug her old-fashioned courtesy; at- children climbing her knees, and calling !.-■;■ 
t ■ - which, as quickly as she could, she slipped |" Mammy Lizzie." 

oiu of the dining-room. But she will ^ever marry — She never h, . ol 

P> it, long, long after, wlien all the houseiany body but T om. 



THE £NJ>, 



j^tt^ 



\ 



J 



RARE BOOK 
COLLECTION 




THE LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

AT 

CHAPEL HILL 

Wilmer 
289