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Full text of "The reproach of Annesley"

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TPIE EEPEOACH 



OF 



ANNESLEY. 



MAXWELL GRAY, 

Author of "The Silence of Deax Maitland," &c. 



Give me the man tliat is not passion's slave." 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 



VOL I. 



LONDON 
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCBI ^CO., 1 PATERNOSTER SQUARE 

1889 



Digitized by tine Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 



http://www.archive.org/details/reproachofannesl01gray 



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CO NTENTS. 



PART I. 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. — Footsteps 3 

II. — Fire-light 25 

III. — Shadows . . '. . . .50 

IV.— The Meet 72 

V. — SpRiNd Flowers 95 

VI.— Thorns 118 

PART II. 

I. — Apple-Blossoms 143 

II. — Archery 158 

III. — Sunset on Arden Down . . .173 

IV. — Messrs. Whewell and Rickman . 192 

v.— Storm 213 

PART III. 

I. — Light and Shade .... 237 



^ 



LONDON : 

KELLY AND CO., PRINTERS, 

GATE STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS, 

AND KINGSTON-ON-THAWES. 



PA RT I. 



VOL. I. 



CHAPTEE I. 

rooTSTErs. 

SiLEXCE and solitude reig^ned all around : a 
solitude invaded by the appearance of no 
living creatures save distant flocks of slieep 
dotted at large over upland pastures or 
grouped in wattled folds ; a silence rather 
deepened tliaii broken by the peculiar and 
by no means unmusical sound of the wind 
sweeping through the short pale-yellow bents 
which rose sparsely above the line rich 
down-turf. The narrow, white hic^h-road ran 
straight alono- the summit of the down : it 
was unfenced on one side where the turf 
sloped so abruptly towards a rich cultivated 
level as to make this almost invisible from 
the road, and on the other bounded by a 
bank, purple in summer with wild thyme, 

1*^ 



4 THE JREPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

and crested by a hipli quickset hedge, which 
effectuall}^ concealed the northern slope of 
the down and the wooded country beneath it 
spreading away to the sea. This thorn hedge, 
which in default of leaves and blossoms, bore 
masses of thick and hoary lichen, instead of 
growing erect from its bank, running nearly 
east and west, was arched over to the north- 
east in an accurate curve, due to the fierce, 
briny sweep of the prevailing winds, and was 
by the same agency smoothly shorn on the 
windward side. These strong salt winds, 
blowing off the sea and frequently rising to 
finales, 2[ive all the trees and hedo-es within 
their influence a marked family likeness, 
stunting their growth, and forcing them to 
bow to the north-east as if suddenly made 
rigid in the heioiit of a south-west crale. 

But the salt south-west was silent on this 
cloudy March afternoon, and in its place a 
bleak east wind, whirling the white dust from 
the flinty chalk road, and quieting gradually 
down as the sun drew nearer the west, was 
sweeping over the short turf with its low, 



FOOTSTEPS. 6 

lonel}^ sound, whicli is half whistle and half 
moan. The rich level to the south of the 
down, sprinkled though it was with occasional 
farms, each having its cluster of ricks and elm 
trees, and varied here and there by a village 
spire rising from a little circle of thatched 
roofs, looked solitary beneath the grey sky. 
It terminated on the east in some pictur- 
esquely broken hills, interrupted by a long 
level grey band, which was the sea, and on 
the south in more hills of moderate heic^ht 
and irregular outline, which derived an 
unusual grandeur this afternoon from the 
deep purple shadows resting upon them, and 
emphasizing their contour against the silvery 
gre}^ sky, a sky full of latent light. On the 
west ao'ain there were hills of o'entler outline, 
beyond these little glimpses of plain and 
woodland, and on the furthest limit a curvinix 
break filled with a polished surface of sea, 
reilecting the dim yellow lustre of the de- 
clininc^ sun, which flowed fiiintlv throuo-h 
the curdling clouds above. 

The wind went on sinoino' its strant^e low 



6 THE EEPKOACII OF ANNESLEY. 

song to the bleak down-land ; the far-off 
farms and villages gave no sign of life ; but 
one solitary sea-gull sailed slowly by on its 
wide, unearthh' looking wings far below the 
level of the high-road, 3'et far above the plain 
beneath, uttering its complaining cr}', and 
receiving the pale reflected sun-rays upon its 
cream- white plumage, thus making a centre 
of light upon the purpl3'-grey darkness of the 
plain and the hills. It passed gradually out 
of sight, and the silence seemed more death- 
like than before. 

Yet life and music were near, and only 
awaiting the summons of soft airs and warm 
sunbeams to spring forth and make the earth 
glad with beauty and melod}'. The gnarled, 
storm-bent thorns were showing tiny leaf-buds 
on their brown branches where the tano-led 
grey lichens did not usurp their place ; cow- 
slips were pushing little satiny spirals through 
the short turf on the hedij^e-banks ; down in 
the copses, and beneath sheltered hedge-rows, 
primroses were showing their sweet, pensive 
faces, and white violets were buddin^-. Many 



FOOTSTEPS. 7 

a nest was already built ; many a bird already 
felt the welcome jjressure of eggs beneath its 
warm breast and tasted the fulness of the 
spring-time ; the tall elms on the plain 
already wore their warm purple robe of 
blossom ; black buds on grey ash-stems in 
the copses were swelling to bursting-point 
above the primroses. Yet all seemed lifeless ; 
the red-brown leaves on the oak boughs 
shivered in the blast ; it was scarcely possible 
to prophesy of the green and golden glory 
that would clothe them in one brief month. 
Could those dry bones live ? 

Presently something black rose silently 
and swiftly above the green turf border of 
the chalk road. Beneath it appeared a human 
face, next a pair of broad shoulders, and 
finally the whole figure of a man emerged, as 
if from the heart of the earth, and stood 
fully outlined against the chill sky. 

He was young, and strongly rather than 
gracefully built ; the keen wind, from which 
he did not flinch by so much as an eye-blink, 
imparted a healthy pink to his clear com- 



8 THE EEPPtOACII OF A^'^'ESLEY. 

plexion. His fair hair was crisped by the 
wind, and his grey eyes looked all round the 
wide scene, on which his back had been 
turned while stepping lightly up the down, in 
a singular manner. Instead of gazing straight 
forward like other peoples' they looked down- 
wards from beneath his eyehds, as if he had 
difficulty in raising the latter. Having 
rapidly surveyed earth, sea and sky, he 
turned and walked westwards alono^ the edoe 
of turf by the road, so that his footsteps 
still made no sound, drew a watch from 
his pocket, then replaced it beneath his 
warm overcoat, muttering to himself, " Early 
yet." 

Soon he heard a sound as of a multitudi- 
nous scraping and panting, above which 
tinkled a bell ; a cloud of dust rose from the 
road, showing as it parted the yellow fleeces 
and black legs and muzzles of a flock of 
Southdown sheep. He stood aside motionless 
upon the turf, to let them pass without hind- 
rance ; but one of the timid creatures, never- 
theless, took fright at him, and darted down 



FOOTSTEPS. 9 

tlie slope, followed b}^ an unreasoning crowd 
of imitators. It did not need a low, faint cry 
from tlie shepherd, who loomed far behind 
above the cloud of w^hite dust, himself spec- 
tral-looking in his long, greyish-white smock- 
frock, to send the sheep-dog sweeping over 
the turf, with his fringes floating in the wind, 
and his tonofue hano^insf from his formidable 
jaws, while he uttered short, angry barks of 
reproof, and drove the truants into the right 
path again. But again and yet again some 
indiscretion on the part of the timid little 
black-faces demanded the eneroies of their 
lively and fussy guardian, wdio darted from 
one end of the flock to the other w-ith joyous 
rapidity, hustling this sheep, grumbling at 
that, barking here, remonstrating there, and 
driving the bewildered creatures hither and 
thither with a zeal that was occasionally in 
excess, and drew forth a brief monosyllable 
from his master, which caused the dog to fly 
back and walk sedately behind him with an 
instant obedience as delightful as his intelli- 
gent activity. The actual commander of this 



10 THE REPEOACII OF ANNESLEY. 

host of living things gave httle sign of energy, 
but walked heavily behind his charges with a 
slow and slouching gait, partially supporting 
himself on his long crooked stick, and carry- 
ing under his left arm a lamb which bleated 
in the purposeless way characteristic of these 
creatures. Yet the shepherd's gaze was 
everywhere, and he, like his zealous lieu- 
tenant, the dog, could distinguish each of 
these numerous and apparently featureless 
creatures from the other, and every now and 
then a slight motion of his crook, or some in- 
articulate sound, conveyed a whole code of 
instructions to the easfer, watchful doer, who 
straightway acted upon them. All this the 
young man motionless on the turf watched 
with interest, as if a flock of sheep were 
something uncommon or worthy of contem- 
plation ; and when they had all gone by, 
and the shepherd himself passed in review, 
his yellow, sun-bleached beard shaken by the 
keen wind he was facing, he transferred his 
attention to him. 

" Blusterous," said the shepherd, makhi'T 



1-OOTSTEPS. 11 

liis crook approacli his battered felt liat, when 
he came up with him. 

"Very bhisterous," answered the gentle- 
man, nodding in a friendly manner and going 
on his way. 

This was their whole conversation, and yet 
the shepherd pondered upon it for miles, and 
recounted it to his wife as one of the day's 
chief incidents. 

" And I zes to 'n, ' Blusterous ' — Izes ; and 
he zes to me, ' Terble blusterous,' he zes. Ay, 
that's what 'ee zed, zure enough," he repeated, 
with infinitesimal variations, while smoking 
his after- supper pipe in his chimney-corner. 

Thus, you see, human intercourse may be 
carried on in these parts of the earth with a 
moderate expenditure of words. 

Gervase Eickman went his way pondering 
upon the shepherd and his flock. How fool- 
ishly helpless and helplessly foolish the bleat- 
ing innocent -faced sheep looked, as they 
blundered aimlessly out of the road, one 
blindly following? the next in front with such 
lack of purpose, that the wonder was that 



12 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

here and there a sohtary sheep should have 
sufficient intellect to strike on a fresh path 
and mislead his fellows. And how abject they 
were to the superior intellect and volition of 
the dog. How tumultuously they fled before 
him, thus involving themselves in fresh dis- 
order ; how tamely they yielded to his be- 
hests, when so small an exercise of will on 
the part of each might have baflled him, in 
spite of his terrible fangs ; above all, how like, 
how very like the mass of mankind, "the 
common herd," as they were so aptly called, 
they seemed to his musing fancy ! 

With what a sheep-like fidelity do men 
follow the few who from time to time blunder 
upon original paths, how bhndly do they pur- 
sue them to unknown goals, and how abjectly 
do multitudes permit themselves to be swayed 
by the will of one with sufficient daring, 
energy, and intellect to dominate them ! The 
mass needs a man, a strong personality, a 
powerful volition to lead it ; it bows to the 
strongest, to a Moses, a Caesar, a Gregory, a 
Charlemain, a Cromwell or a Napoleon ; de- 



FOOTSTEPS. 13 

mocrac}^ is but the shadow of a shade — the 
aimless revolt of the aimless many against 
shackles that have been silently forged in the 
process of the ages — a revolt ending in the 
incoherence of anarchy, weltering helplessly 
on until one is born strons^ enouoii to lead 
and create anew ; then the centuries solder 
and cement his work, and give it a fleeting 
permanence, and thus a civilization is born. 
Or the centuries refuse their sanction, and 
the work slowly resolves itself again to chaos. 
So Gervase Eickman mused. 

But he was not of the herd ; he would 
follow none. He felt within himself an 
intensity of purpose, and a passion of con- 
centration, together with a strength of intellect 
that must lift him above his fellows. So he 
thought and mused, not knowing what was 
within him and into what channels the 
current of his character would set. 

He went on his way, still keeping to the 
turf, and thus still silently, for it was his 
habit to move with as little sound as possible, 
until a barrow rose steeply before him and 



14 THE REPIIOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

compelled him to take the road. He was now 
approaching the end of the down road, at 
the extremity of which, where the thorn edge 
ended, there stood a little lonely inn in an 
empty courtyard, fenced by a low stone 
wall. On one side of the small house was 
a tree, bending as usual to the north-east, 
and imparting that air of perfect loneli- 
ness which the presence of a single tree 
invariably gives to an isolated building. The 
inn proclaimed itself the " Traveller's Eest " 
by a sign over its low porch and closed 
door. There were no flowers in the little 
court, though it faced the south ; neither 
tree nor vegetable grew in the barren en- 
closure, which was tenanted solely by a 
large deer-hound stretched in a watchful 
attitude before the porch. 

Mr. Eickman did not look at the inn, 
thouoii a side c^lance of his eves took in 
the dog with a sparkle of satisfaction ; while 
the dog on hearing his footsteps, which were 
also faintly audible to two women in an upper 
room, slightly pricked his ears and looked at 



FOOTSTEPS. 15 

him with an indifTerent air, dropping his 
muzzle comfortably on to his fore-paws 
again when he had passed. 

Another road crossed the level chalk road 
at right angles just beyond the solitary inn. 
Opposite the inn-front on the turf was a stag- 
nant pond, the milky water of which was 
crisped to ripples by the keen wind, and in 
the angle formed by two roads stood a wooden 
sign-post. 

When he reached the sign-post, Gervase 
Packman leant against it with his back 
towards the inn, which was now some 
distance from him, and gazed over the 
broad expanse of level champain to the 
dark hills, on the broken slopes of which 
the shadows were shifting. He did not 
appear to mind the wind, which caught 
him full in the side of the face, ruffled his 
hair, and obliged him to press his low felt hat 
more firmly over his brows ; the sound it 
made among the withered stalks above the 
sward pleased him, and he mused and mused 
in the stillness, "an image of peaceful contem- 



16 THE EEPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

plation, with his refined features and look of 
quiet, concentrated power. 

While he was thus musing, his quick ears 
caught the sound of footsteps in the distance 
behind him ; but he did not turn his head, for 
the footsteps were those of a stranger and 
could not interest him, so he thought. They 
were the firm, elastic steps of a man in the 
flower of life, they smote the hard road with 
an even joyous rhythm, and were accompanied 
by the clear cheery tones of a voice singing, 

" As we lay, all the day, 
In the Bay of Biscay, I " 

Both song and footsteps penetrated to the 
quiet upper chamber in the inn, where two 
women sat together, one wasted with mortal 
sickness and wearing the unnatural rose of 
fever in her face, the other radiant with vouth 
and health. The latter paused in her reading 
and looked up as the strain of manly song 
broke upon the quiet of the sick room ; the 
invalid's face brightened, and she said it was 
a pleasant song. 



FOOTSTEPS. 17 

" It is a good voice,'*' said the reader, " and 
the voice of a gentleman." 

The singer went joyously on his way, and 
paused in his song when he saw the motionless 
figure at the foot of the sign-post. Gervase 
Eickman still gazed dreamily away over the 
valley to the dark hills. A man has but to 
purpose a thing strongly to gain his purpose, 
he was thinking ; fate is but the shadow of 
an old savage dream ; a man's life is in his 
own hands. In fanc}" he saw the flock of 
sheep driven on and on along the dusty high- 
way b}^ the shepherd, whose figure suggested 
all sorts of images to his mind, save the 
august image of the Shepherd of mankind. 

" To Medington four-and-a-half miles," was 
written on one of the arms of the sign-post 
above his head, and the pedestrian reading 
this, paused a moment and looked at the 
silent figure beneath, which with averted gaze 
appeared unconscious of his approach. 

" Is this the only road to Medington ? " he 
asked. 

*'Xo; there are four," replied Eickman, 
VOL. I. 2 



18 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

facing about, but not meeting the level gaze 
of the stranger, as he replied to his saluta- 
tion. 

" Which takes me past Arclen Manor ? " 
asked the stranger, who looked as if he 
would enjo}" a friendly chat. 

" Neither." 

" Surely that is Arden Manor I saw lying 
beneath the down by the church as I came 
alono^ ? " 

" Yes." 

" An old gentleman named Eickman lives 
there, I think ; a queer old dry-as-dust of a 
fellow, who collects antiquities." 

"A Mr. Eickman, F.E.S., lives there," 
replied Gervase, with a dry smile ; " he also 
collects beetles. You are perhaps a brother 
naturalist or antiquary ? " 

" I know a beetle from a butterfly and 
that's about all," he said. " No ; I was 
to go over the downs from Oak well and 
meet a friend by Arden Manor on the 
road to Medinc^ton. I have evidentlv <]^one 
wrong." 



FOOTSTEPS. 19 

" No : you are quite right. If you keep 
straight on 3'ou will come to Arden Cross at 
the foot of the hilL For Arden Manor you 
turn to the left, but that takes you away from 
Medington. Turn up the lane to the right, 
and you go direct over the downs to Meding- 
ton, or straight on by the high-road you get 
to Medington." 

"Paul meant Arden Cross," reflected the 
strancrer aloud. "Thank you, I remember 
the down path now, that is the short cut. 
Can you help me to a light ? This wind is 
too much for matches." 

Gervase opened his jacket, and in the 
shelter thus made the stranger, stooping, for 
he was tall, struck a match and lighted a 
short pipe, thus giving the other the oppor- 
tunity of a close and unobserved scrutiny of 
his face in the sflow of the match. It was a 
dark, healthy, well-favoured face, on the 
whole the kind of face that goes to the heart 
of every woman, old or young. 

"A good-looking fool," thought Gervase, 
consigning him mentally to the majority of 



20 THE KEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

mankind. "Edward Annesley, no doubt ; an 
officer, by his moustache and swagger." 

He was wrong about the swagger : though 
the stranger walked like a soldier. Having 
lighted his pipe, the officer, thanking him for 
his courtes}^, went on his way down the hill, 
and was lost to si^iit before the sound of his 
footsteps ceased to ring upon the hard road, 
Eickman looking after him with a superior 
sort of smile, until the sound of other steps, 
approaching from behind, stirred every fibre 
within him, and lit a flame in his veiled grey 
eyes. 

On came the steps, swift, light, and even, 
very different from the soldier's firm strides, 
though telling like them of youth, health, 
and a light heart ; yet Gervase, for all 
the stir of feeling they evoked within him, 
appeared to take no notice of them, but con- 
tinued his rapt contemplation of the shadowed 
hill-slopes, brightened now by long moted 
shafts of light from the sinking sun, around 
which the clouds were breaking away in 
beautiful glory as the keen wind stilled itself 



FOOTSTEPS. 21 

more and more in shifting to a warmer 
quarter. 

A voice soon accompanied tlie light foot- 
steps, echoing in a woman's round, clear 
notes, the soldier's song : 

"There we la}', all the day, 
In the Bay of Biscay, I " 

At this point Mr. Eickman left the post 
ao'ainst which he had so lomx been leaning, 
and strolled quietl}^ on without turning his 
head, while the singer, who made rapid 
progress, repeated her snatch of song, and 
the hound, which had been lying before the 
inn-door, flew before and around her in 
widening sweeps, all the grace and strength 
of its lithe slender body showing to the 
utmost advantage, until it included Gervase 
in its gyrations, whereupon he turned and 
waited, while a tall young woman came up 
with him. 

"I thought 5^ou would never see me, 
Gervase," she said. "What deadly schemes 
were you meditating under the sign-post ? " 



22 THE IlEPEOACH OF AN^'ESLEY 

"I was watching the weather," he replied ; 
'' the wind is chopping round, we shall have 
a change. Where have you been ? " 

" With Ellen Gale ; I am glad for her sake 
the wind is chanmno;, the east wind is so bad 
for her." 

She came between Gervase and the setting 
sun, which grew more radiant each moment, 
and now sent forth a dazzlino- mesh of f^olden 
rays to tangle themselves in the fine growth 
of curling hairs roughed by the wind from 
her rich plaits beneath, thus forming a saint- 
like halo around the face of Alice Lino-ard, a 
face distinguished by that indefinable charm, 
which is the very essence of beauty, and yet 
is often wanting in the most perfect features. 
It was a charm which went to the very heart 
of the young man walking by her side, and 
yet which he could not describe ; he knew 
only that it was lacking to every other face 
he had ever seen ; he knew also that it was 
not given to everj^one to discover that hidden 
srace. For each face has its own charm, the 
magic of which has different power over 



FOOTSTEPS. US 

difTerent people, and encliaiits many or few, 
according to its own intrinsic potency. 

The two walked on to^'etlier at Alice's 
brisker pace, talking witli the unconstraint 
of familiar friends ; Alice involved in the 
glory of the warm sun-rays, while a deeper 
rose bloomed in her face as the fresh air 
touched it, and her blood warmed with the 
exercise ; Gervase for the most part listening, 
and monosyllabic. 

They passed a large deserted chalk quarry, 
its steep clifF-sides looking ghost-like, save 
where a stray sunbeam shot its long gold 
lustre upon them, and then they came round 
the shoulder of the down and saw, nestlinc: 
beneath it, a church with a low, square, grey 
tower and a gabled stone house sheltered 
from the south-west by a row of weather- 
beaten Scotch firs : lower down alono- the 
valley ran a straggling village, all thatch and 
greenery. Then they left the chalk, and 
dipped into a deep sandy lane with steep 
])anks and overhanging hedges, and here in 
sheltered nooks primroses were looking shyly 



24 THE EEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

forth, and violets were pushing tiny buds to 
the lii^ht. 

" But not a violet is out yet," said Alice. 

This was the moment of Gervase's triumph. 
He took from a deep pocket a something 
carefully folded in a leaf, and, uncovering it, 
presented to his companion, with a quiet 
smile, a little pos}^ of white violets, pink- 
tipped, and set in a gleaming circle of leaves. 

She took it with an exclamation of 
pleasure, and lifted it to her fresh face to 
inhale its delicate frao-rance. " To think that 
you should find the first ! " she said, half 
jealously. 

He was in the seventh heaven, but said 
nothing. He had secretly watched the 
budding of those violets for a week, and 
walked far and quickty to gather them for 
her that afternoon, and now he had his 
reward in seeing her caress the flowers and 
talk of them for a good five minutes, till the 
sound of hoofs alono- the lane behind them 
made her look up. 



CHAPTER II. 

FIRE-LiaHT. 

The rapid beat of hoofs and the roll of wheels 
drew nearer and nearer, and a dog-cart drawn 
by a serviceable cob flashed down the hill 
towards the pedestrians with many a scattered 
pebble and spark of fire, for the dusk was 
now fallino;. 

On reaching them, the driver pulled up the 
cob, and gave the reins to the groom, sprang 
to the ground, all in a flash of time, and was 
shaking hands with Gervase and Alice, and 
walking by their side almost before they had 
time to recosfnize him. Alice <>-ave him a 
frank smile of welcome, and Gervase smiled 
too, but he murmured something inaudibl}' to 
himself that was not flatterinj:^ to the new- 
comer. 



26 TEE REPROACH OF ANXESLEY. 

The latter was a young man, with a dark, 
strong, intelligent face, which had just missed 
beino' handsome. He walked well, dressed 
well, and had about him a certain air which 
would have challenged attention anywhere. 
He did not look like a parish doctor. 

" And how are they all at Arden P " he 
asked, in a full, cordial voice. " Where did 
you get those violets ? It is enough to 
make a man mad. I thought these were 
the first." 

And he drew a second little bunch of white 
violets from his breast pocket and gave them 
to Alice, who received them with another 
frank smile. 

" How kind of you to think of me ! " she 
said. " Gervase found these, but he was only 
five minutes ahead of you." 

Gervase smiled inwardly ; the new-comer's 
face darkened, and he silently returned the 
rude observation the former had made upon 
him a moment before ; and then comforted 
himself by the reflection, " Gervase is 
nobody." 



FIRE-LIGHT. 27 

" So you have . been visiting my patients 
again, Miss Lingard," he said aloud ; " you 
must not go about making people well in this 
reckless way. How are we poor doctors to 
live ? " 

"Did you fmd Ellen any better ? " she 
asked. 

" She was wonderfully perked up, as the 
cottagers say ; I knew you had been there, 
without any telling. We must try to get her 
through the spring winds. I say, Eickman, 
you haven't seen such a thing as a stray 
cousin anywhere about, have you ? " 

" I did catch sight of such a creature half- 
an-hour since," he replied. " He asked me 
the way to Medington by Arden Manor, 
where one Paul, it appeared, had agreed to 
meet him." 

"A tall, good-looking fellow with a pleasant 
face — - — " 

"And a beautiful voice," interrupted Alice. 
" It must be the c^entleman I heard sino-inii' 
past the 'Traveller's Eest,' Gervase. I was 
just going to ask if you had seen him." 



28 THE EEPKOACH OF A^'^'ESLEY. 

"He sinf^s like a nio^litinG^ale. Yes; that 
was no doubt Ted. Oh ! you "VYill all like him. 
I shall bring him over to the Manor, if I 
can. I don't sa}^ if I may," he added with a 
smile. 

" Because you know we are always pleased 
to see your friends," returned Gervase. 
" But your cousin is an old friend of ours, 
Annesley, and evidently remembered us. He 
asked if a queer old fellow named Eickman 
lived in Arden Manor down there." 

" The rascal ! Did you tell him he was 
speaking to the queer old fellow's son ? " 

" Not I. I wanted to hear what he would 
say about us." 

" What a shame ? " said Alice ; " those are 
the bad underhand ways Sibyl and I are 
always trying to overcome in you. Well, 
Dr. Annesley, here is Arden Cross, but no 
cousin, apparently." 

" He would be well over St. Michael's 
Down by this time," added Gervase. " But 
who is this, coming down the lane ? " 

Two figures emerged from the deeply- 



FIRE-LIGHT. 29 

shadowed lane wliicli led from the down to 
the paler dusk of the cross roads, and dis- 
covered themselves to be an elderly labouring 
man and a youth, who touched their hats and 
then stopped. 

" Evening, miss ; evening, sir. Ben up 
lioam, Dacter ? Poor Eln was terble bad 's 
marning," said the elder, who was no other 
than the host of the " Traveller's Eest," Jacob 
Gale. 

" Ellen was better," replied the doctor 
cheerfully. 

" Oh ! yes ; she was reall}^ quite bright 
when I saw her," added Alice, in a still more 
encourafyino^ voice. 

The man shook his head. " She won't 
never be better," he growled, '• though she 
med perk up a bit along of seeing you, 
miss. I've a zin too manv G'oo that wav to 
be took in, bless 3^our heart. How long do 
ye give her, Dacter ? I baint in no hurry 
vur she to goo, as I knows on," he added, 
with a view to contradict erroneous im- 
pressions. 



30 THE EEPEOACII OF ANNESLI-:Y. 

The doctor replied that it was impossible 
to say ; she might linger for months, or she 
mii^ht o'o that nii^ht. 

" They all goos the zame way," conthmed 
the man, " one after t'other, nothun caint 
stop em. There was no pearter mayde about 
than our Eln a year ac^o come Middlemass, a 
vine-growed mayde she was as ever I zeen," 
he repeated in a rough voice, through which 
the very breath of tragedy sighed ; " zing 
she 'ood like a thrush, and her chakes like a 
lirose. A peart mayde was our Eln, I war'nt 
she was." 

" She is very happy ; she is willing to go," 
said Alice, trying to comfort him. 

" Ah ! they all goos off asy. My missus 
she went fust ; a vine vigour of a ooman, too. 
Yive on 'em lies down Church-lytten there, 
Miss Lingard, and all in brick graves, buried 
comfortable. They've a got to goo and they 
g:oos. Hreuben here, he'll hae to iro next. 
There's the hred in 's chakes, and he coughs 
terbly aready." 

Eeuben smiled pensively ; he was a hand- 



FIRE-LIGHT. 31 

some lad, with dark eyes and a delicate yet 
brilliant pink-and- white complexion. 

" Nonsense," interposed Panl, " Eeuben's 
well enoui^li. You shouldn't friuiiten the 
boy. Give him «^ood food, and his cou<:^h will 
soon go. Don't you believe him, Eeuben. 
You are only growing fast." 

" He'll hae to ^'oo lons^ with t'others," con- 

CO ' 

tinned the father, " dacters ain't no good 
agen a decline. A power of dacter's stuff 
ben inside of they that's gone. They've all 

l!;Ot to 2^00, all C^Ot tO <2;00." 

" Eeckon I'll hae to goo," added Eeuben, 
in a more cheerful refrain to his father's 
melancholy chant. 

Alice tried in vain to reason the pair into 
a more hopeful frame of mind, and then 
scolded them, and finally bid them good-night, 
and they parted, the heavy boots of the two 
Gales striking the road in slow funereal beats 
as they trudged wearily up-hill, the lighter 
steps of the gentlefolk making swift and 
merry music downwards. 

" Oh, Paul ! " said Alice, turning to him 



32 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

after a backward glance at the fatlier and 
son, " we must save Eeuben ; we cannot let 
him die ! " 

" My dear Alice, you must not take all the 
illnesses in the parish to heart," interposed 
Gervase ; " the boy will be all right, as 
Annesley told him. Why try to deprive Gale 
of his chief earthly solace ? The old fellow 
revels in his own miseries. It is a kind of 
distinction to that class of people to have a 
fatal disease in their family." 

" Hereditary too," added Paul ; " as 
respectable as a family ghost in higher 
circles," 

" Or the curse of Gledesworth. I am glad 
the curse does not blioiit the tenants as well 
as the landlord," continued Gervase. For 
Arden Manor belonged to the Gledesworth 
estate. 

" Or the Mowbray temper," laughed Paul. 
" Na}^ dear Miss Lingard, do not look so 
reproachful. I am doing my best for 
Eeuben. But he is consumptive, and I 
doubt if he will stand another winter, 



1-IllE-LIGnr. 83 

tliouo-h his limo-s are still whole. We 

o o 

must try to accept facts. Why, we poor 
doctors would be fretted to fiddle-strings iu 
a month if we did not harden our hearts to 
the inevitable." 

" But is this inevitable ? " asked Alice, 
with an earnest i>'aze into his dark-blue 
eyes that set his heart throbbing. " Xeed 
this bright young life be thrown away ? I 
know how good your heart is, and how you 
often feel most when 3'ou speak most 
rouo'hlv. But if Eeuben were Gervase, you 
know that he would not have to die." 

" You mean that I should order Gervase 
to the South, doubtless." 

" Very well. And if we set our wits to 
work we may expatriate Eeuben. We must. 
Gervase, you are great at schemes. Scheme 
Eeuben into a warm climate before next 
winter." 

" We have received our orders, Annesley," 

replied Gervase, laughing, as tliey turned up 

a broad lane, at the end of which the grey 

manor house, with its gables and mullioned 

VOL. I. 3 



34 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

windows, loomed massive in the dusk — a 
dusk deepened on one side by the row of 
wind-bowed firs. 

Paul accompanied them, as a matter of 
course, though he had turned quite out of his 
homeward way ; while his servant, without 
asking or receiving orders, drove the dog- 
cart round to the stable-yard, whither the 
cob would have found his way alone, so 
accustomed was he to its welcome hospitality. 

Through the gateway, with its stone piers 
topped by stone globes, and up the drive 
bounded by velvet turf of at least a cen- 
tury's growth, the three walked in the 
deepening dusk, and saw a rudd}' glow in 
the uncurtained windows of the hall, round 
the porch of which m3'rtle grew mingled 
with ivy and roses. Gervase opened the 
door, and they entered a spacious hall wains- 
cotted in oak, carved about the doorways 
and the broad chimney-piece, beneath which, 
on the open hearth, burnt a fire of wood. 
The leaping flames danced merrily on the 
polished walls ; on a broad staircase shining 



TIRE-LIGHT. 35 

and slippery with beeswax and the labour of 
generations ; on a few old pictures, some 
trophies of armour, and some oaken settles 
and chairs of an old quaint fashion ; and 
upon a table near the hearth, on which a tea- 
service was set out. 

An elderly lady sat by the fire, knitting 
and occasionally talking, for want of a 
better listener, to a cat sitting bolt upright 
in front of the fire, into which it stared, as 
if inquiring of some potent oracle, and some- 
times turning its head with a blissful wink, 
in response to its mistress's voice. This lady 
was small and slioiit, with a rosv unwrinkled 
face, grey hair and an expression so innocent 
and sweet as to be almost childlike, yet she 
resembled Gervase sufficiently to prove her- 
self his mother. Mrs. Eickman's grammar 
was hazy and her spelling uncertain ; she 
was not sure if metapli3^sics were a science 
or an instrument ; she habitually curtsied to 
the new moon, and did nothing important 
on a Friday (which sometimes caused serious 
domestic inconvenience) ; but her manners 



36 THE KEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

were sucli as immediately put all who 
addressed lier at tlieir ease, and lier pleasant 
uncritical smile encouraged, even invited, 
people to tell her their troubles, and confess 
their misdoings. 

" Come, children," she said cheerily, rising 
when the door opened to busy herself at the 
table, " here is tea just made. ^Miat, Paul ? 
I did not see you in the dusk. AVe have not 
seen you for an age, three days at least. 
Gervase, throw me on a fresh log, mv 
dear." 

" We certainly deserve no tea at this time 
of nicfht," said Alice, who was busv lavini^ 
aside her hat and furs. •' Come, Hubert, 
leave the doctor alone and lie down by 
Puss." 

The deer-hound, who had been fawning 
on Paul, stretched himself on the ruo^ on one 
side of the fire, not daring: to take the middle, 
since Puss disdained to move so much as a 
paw to make way for the new-comer. 

Alice took the chair Gervase placed for 
her, and bes^an showino- Mrs. Eickman her two 



FIRE-LIGHT. 37 

bundles of violets, one of wliicli slie put in 
water, and the other (Paul observed with a 
thrill that it was his) in her dress. 

" And where are Mr. Eickman and Sibyl ? " 
he asked, flushing with a secret joy, while 
Gervase was deeply pondering the disposition 
of the violets, and persuading himself that 
his bunch was the more cherished, since it was 
secured from fading, and yet not quite sure 
on the point. 

" Sibyl is at the parsonage practising with 
the choir," said Mrs. Eickman. "Mr. Eick- 
man is on the downs examining some barrows 
which have just been opened, and no one knows 
when he will be back. Alice, my dear child, 
what a fearful state your hair is in ! " 

Alice put up her hands with a futile 
attempt to smooth her curly wind-blown hair. 
" It doesn't matter in the firelight," she replied. 

" Miss Lingard is quite right about the 
firelight," said Paul, in his stately manner. 
" An elec^ant neoiio'ence suits best with this 
idle moment in the dusk. Yes, if you for- 
give mv saving- so, Alice, vou make a delight- 



38 THE EEPROACH OY ANNESLEY. 

ful picture on that quaint settle, with the 
hound at your knee, and the armour above 
your head, and the hearth blazing beneath 
that splendid old chimney near." 

He did not add what he thought, that the 
oTace with which she sat half-reclined in the 
cross-legged oaken seat, and the sweet ex- 
pression of her face lighted by the flickering 
flames, made the chief charm of the picture. 

" Dr, Annesley," replied Alice, meeting his 
gaze of earnest and respectful admiration, 
" you are becoming a courtier. I do not 
recognize my honest old friend, Paul, with 
his blunt but wholesome rebuffs." 

" It is I who am rebufied now," he replied, 
singularly discomposed by the gravity of her 
manner. 

"Nonsense, Paul," interrupted Mrs. Eick- 
man. " Alice can only be pleased by such a 
pretty compliment. You ought to be of 
Gervase's profession." 

" Yes ; I always maintained that Annesley 
would make a first-rate lawyer," added 
Gervase. 



FIRE-LIGHIT. 39 

" Heaven forbid ! " exclaiiiied Annesley, 
Avitli a fervour that was almost religious. 

Gervase laughed, and rose to settle a half- 
burnt lou' which threatened to fall when burnt 
asunder, thus ruining a fire landscape on 
which Alice had been dreamily gazing. 

" How cruel you are — you have shattered 
the most romantic vision of crags and 
castles!'" she said. "And you have de- 
stroyed the poetry of the hour, for I must 
liofht these candles." 

" Were you seeing your future in the 
fire ? " Paul asked, lio'hting; the candles she 
brouo'ht forward, thrillino- with delicate 
emotion when he touched her hand accident- 
ally, and caught the play of the candle-light 
on her features. 

Gervase watched them narrowly, though 
furtivel}', with a secret pity for Paul, for a 
vision less keen than his niio'ht detect a total 
absence of response on her part to the young 
doctor's unspoken feeling ; and then he 
thouo'lit of his own future, which he read in 
the dull red glow of the fire, while the others 



40 THE EEPROACII OF ANNESLEY. ■■ 

kept up a desultory conversation in which 
their thous^hts did not enter. 

He had drifted, he scarcely knew how, into 
the office of Whewell and Son, solicitors. 
His mind in those early days had taken no 
bent sufficiently stronc^ to make him resist his 
father's desire that he should follow law, since 
he declined the paternal profession of physic, 
a profession which Mr. Eickman, a London 
physician with a fair practice, had early left 
because he said he could not endure the whims 
of sick people, but really because, having a 
competency, he wished to pursue his favourite 
studies in the quiet of Arden, where Sybil 
was born when Gervase was about nine 
years old. 

But once in the office, he f5und much to 
interest him, and after making progress from 
a desire to do his duty and please his parents, 
whose hopes all rested on their only son, 
ambition awoke in him, and he decided to 
make himself the head of the firm, and the 
firm the head of the profession in the county. 
This, at eight-and-twenty, he had accom- 



•• 1- IKE-LIGHT. 41 

plisliecL Wliewell and Son was now^ 
Whewell and Eickman. The younger Wlie- 
well had renounced a profession that wearied 
him, and the elder was at an age when love 
of ease is stronger than love of power, and it 
was well known that the junior partner was 
the soul of the business, which daily in- 
creased. 

As far as a country solicitor could rise, 
Gervase Eickman intended to rise, and then 
he intended to enter Parliament, where he felt 
his powers would have an opportunity of 
developing. This purpose he had as yet 
confided to no one, though he was daily 
feeling his wa}^ and laying the foundations 
of local popularit}^ A man who makes 
himself once lieard in the House of Com- 
mons has, he knew, providing he possesses 
the n;enius of a ruler of men, a destinv 
more brilliant than that of any sovereign 
in the civilized world, and Gervase, looking 
at the burning brands and listening to the 
harmonious blending of Paul's deep voice 
with Alice's pure treble, saw such magni- 



42 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

iicent prospects as the others did not dream 
him capable of entertaining. And through 
all those princely visions Alice moved with an 
imperial grace. 

" But what has become of your cousin all 
this time ? " Alice was askins; the doctor. 

" Over the downs and in Meding^ton bv 
this time. We don't dine till half-j)ast seven, 
so my mother will have a good hour to purr 
over the fellow and make much of him. Xed 
always was a lucky fellow, if 3'ou remember, 
Mrs. Eickman. He had the knack of makino- 
friends." 

" He was a winning and well-behaved boy, 
I remember," she replied. "How fond Sibyl 
was of him ! " 

"It is just the same now, or rather it was 
at school. Whatever Xed did, people liked 
him. If he neolected his lessons, he alwavs 
got off in class by means of lucky shots. 
Other fellows' shots failed. Born under a 
happy star." 

" Yet he must inherit the curse of Gledes- 
worth," Alice said. 



riRE-LlGHT. 43 

" Oh ! that is at an end. Reginald 

Annesley, being in a lunatic asylum, fulfils 

the conditions of the distich, 

" Whanne ye loi'de ys mewed in stonen celle, 
Gledes worth thanne shalle brake hys spclle." 

" Facts seem against the theory," Gervase 
said, " since the estate cannot now pass from 
Reginald Annesley to his son. By the way, 
have you not heard, Paul ? Young Reginald 
is dead, killed while elephant -hunting in South 
Africa." 

" Captain Annesley ? Reginald ? Dead ? " 
cried Paul, with excitement. " We heard he 
was in Africa, and his wife and baby came 
home. Are 3'ou sure ? Is it not some 
repetition of poor Julian's story ? " 

" It is perfectly true," replied Gervase, 
who was agent -to the Gledesworth estate ; 
" the news arrived yesterday." 

Paul Annesley's father was first cousin to 
the Annesley who owned the estate, and who 
was only slightly acquainted with him. Paul 
did not even know any of those Annesleys, and 
the mad Annesley having had three sons, one 



44 THE REPEOACH OF AI^NESLEY. 

of whom was married, and all of whom had 
grown to manhood, the prospect of inherit- 
ing the family estates had never entered his 
wildest dreams. But now onty two lives 
stood between him and that rich inheritance ; 
the life of an elderly maniac and that of an 
infant. No one knew better than he how 
large a j)ercentage of male infants die. 

"It is terribly sad," he said. "Oh! it does 
seem as if the curse was a reality, and worked 
still." 

" I never believed in the curse," said Mrs. 
Eickman ; " and I disbelieve it still. People 
die when the Almighty sees fit, it is not for us 
to ask why." 

But Alice was a firm believer in the curse 
of Gledesworth, and defended its morality 
stoutly. Why, if blessings are attached to 
birth, should not pains and penalties cling to 
it as well? she asked. Was it worse to be a 
doomed Annesley than the ollspring of a 
criminal or the inheritor of fital disease, like 
the family at the " Traveller's Eest?" 

" I think I would rather be an Annesle}'," 



FIRE-LIGHT. 45 

she added, turning to Paul with a smile that 
seemed to reach the darkest recesses of hi.s 
heart, and kindle a glow of vital warmth 
within him. 

Then they fell to discussing the Gledes- 
worth leo^end. In the days of Kiuff John a 
lord of Gledesworth died, leaving one young 
son, and the dead lord's brother, not content 
with seizing the lands, drove the widow and 
orphan from his door. One day in the hard 
winter weather, the widow appeared in want 
at the usurper's gates and begged bread for 
the star vino- child. And because she was im- 
portunate, the wicked baron set his hounds 
upon them and they killed the heir. Then 
the widow cursed the cruel baron, fled into 
the forest and was seen no more. But from 
that hour Gledesworth lands never descended 
to the eldest son ; so surely as a man owned 
Gledesworth, sorrow of some kind befell 
him ; the land was a curse to its owner, as 
was the Nibelungen Hoard to whomsoever 
possessed it. 

The morally weak point in the curse, as 



46 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

Gervase often observed, when beguiled to 
discuss the tragic stories of that fatal line, 
was that there appeared to be no chance of 
expiating the wicked baron's misdeeds, while 
the number of innocent victims who suffered 
from the curse was appalling. 

" You are a hardened sceptic," Paul said. 
" Besides, you forget the ' stonen celle.' " 

" Worse still. Because no owner of Gledes- 
worth likes to exchange it for a stone cell, 
are all his descendants to be doomed ? " 

" You cannot measure a retribution which 
for o'ood and for ill extends into the infinite, 
by the events of a rudimentary and finite 
world," Alice said. 

" Quite so," replied Paul ; " I confess to a 
great affection for the family curse. It keeps 
the idea of God before men's minds, though 
only a God of retribution," an observation 
which cheered Mrs. Eickman's kind heart, 
troubled as it was by sad rumours of 
Annesley's scepticism, and led on to a dis- 
cussion in which they all lost themselves in 
the old interminable puzzles of the origin of 



FIRE-LIGHT. 47 

Evil, the limits of Fate and the bounds of 
Will, till the hall clock gave musical warning 
of the hour, and Paul took hasty leave, find- 
inof himself belated. 

When he was gone, Alice drew a chair 
to her adopted mother's side and began to 
tell her what she had done all the afternoon, 
and was duly scolded for various lapses 
of memorv. She had lived in that house 
from her thirteenth year, being an orphan 
placed there by her guardians, that she 
and Sybil might benefit from each other's 
society, and they had studied and grown 
up together so ha^^pily, that Alice hoped, 
on becoming the mistress of her own 
little fortune a year hence, to remain with 
them. 

" Stay a minute, Alice," Gervase said, when 
a few minutes later she was about to follow 
Mrs. Rickman upstairs. " If you are not 
tired, I should like 3'ou to let me rehearse 
my speech for the Liberal meeting next 
week." 

Alice willingly acquiesced, but asked if it 



48 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

would not be better to wait for Sybil's 
return. 

He laughed, and said tliat Sibyl liad already 
been treated to two rehearsals ; so Alice took 
up her station in the corner of the hall 
furthest from the staircase, which Gervase 
ascended till he reached the landing, behind 
the balustrade of which he stood beneath a 
lamp and looked down into the wide, echoing 
hall, the dark panelling of which was but 
faintly lighted by a swinging lamp in its 
centre, and by the fitful fire-glow. Alice 
was scarcely seen ; but not a gesture or look 
of Gervase could escape her, and she was 
surprised when, taking a roll of notes from 
his pocket, his form dilated, his eyes kindled 
as they took a commanding glance of the 
wide space before him, and he sent his voice, 
which in conversation was harsh, echoino- 
through the hall with a power which she 
had never suspected, and invested the political 
common-places which he uttered with a 
certain dignity. The cat sprang up in alarm ; 
Hubert rose and sat listenino' at his mistress's 



FIRK-LIGIIT. 49 

feet with a critical air ; Alice cried " Hear, 
hear ! " and " Xo, no ! " at intervals, for a 
good half-hour. Then the door opened, and 
Sybil returned from her choir practice and 
made an addition to the audience. 

"And did you ever hear such rubbish in 
your life, Sj^bil ? " Alice asked, laughing. 

" No," she replied, " I was never at a 
political meeting before." 



VOL. r. 



CHAPTEE nr. 

SHADOWS. 

Edward Annesley, finding no trace of his 
cousin at Arclen Cross, took the path indi- 
cated to him over the next link in the chain 
of downs, dismissing Gervase Eickman from 
his mind with a dim momentary remembrance 
of havinc^ seen and disliked him before. 

Thus every day we pass men and women 
whose hearts leap and ache like our own, 
takinof no more count of them than of the 
stones along our path, though any one of 
these may turn the current of our destiny and 
alter our very nature. 

The setting sun was now breaking through 
the splendour of the shifting clouds and 
lighting up, like a suddenly roused memory, 
the once-familiar but half-forgotten landscape, 



SHADOWS. 51 

with its limits of hill and sea, its lake-like 
sheet of slate roofs down in the hollow where 
the confluence of two slow streams formed the 
Eiver Mede. The lake of blue roofs, brooded 
over by a dim cloud of misty smoke, out of 
which rose the tall white church tower, its 
western face touched by the sun's fleeting 
glow, was Medington, the town in which he 
had passed many a school-boy's holiday. 

All was now familiar : the furze in which 
he and Paul once killed snakes and looked 
for rabbit-holes ; the copses where they 
o'athered nuts and blackberries : and the 
hamlet with the stone brido-e oyer its mirror- 
like stream, widening into a pond at the foot 
of the hill, which fell there in an abrupt 
steep, down which the cousins had made 
many a rapid descent, tobogganing in primi- 
tive fashion. There stood the mill with its 
undershot wheel ; the plaintive cry of the 
moor-hen issued from the dry sedo-e rustlino' 
in the March wind ; all sorts of long-forgotten 
objects appeared and claimed old acquaint- 
ance with him. The chimes of the church 

LIBRARY 



I I fti II ir- r\nt i 



52 THE REPROACH OF AXNESLEY. 

clock came floatini? tlirouirli the dim o'ley air 
like a friendly voice from far-off boyhood, 
and after a little musical melancholy prelude, 
struck six deep notes. 

He took the old field-path, thinking of 
things and people forgotten for years, and 
reflected that the two boys who played in 
those fields and who afterwards passed a year 
or two at a French school together, were 
now men, partly estranged by the exigencies 
of life, until he found himself in the clean, 
wind-swept streets of the town, where the 
lamps were every moment showing tiny 
points of 3'ellow hre in the dusk, and the 
shop-windows were casting pale and scant 
radiance upon the almost deserted pave- 
ment ; for even in the Hio-h Street there were 
few passengers at this hour, and little was 
heard save the cries of children at pla}', and 
the occasional rumble of a cart and still more 
occasional roll of a carrias^e. No one knows 
what becomes of the inhabitants of small 
country towns when the}' are not going to 
church or to market ; the houses stand aloni^ 



SHADOWS. 53 

the streets, but rarely give any sign of life ; 
the shops ofler their merchandise apparently 
in vain. 

He stopped before a large red-brick house, 
draped Avith graceful hangings of Virginia 
creeper, now a mass of bare brown branches 
rattling drily in the wind ; a house which 
withdrew itself, as if in aristocratic exclusive- 
ness, some yards back from the line of houses 
rising flush with the street, and was fenced 
from intruders by a high iron railing, behind 
which a few evergreens grew, half-stifled by 
the thick coating of dust upon their shinino- 
leaves. There were three doors, one on each 
side, and one approached by a flight of steps 
in the middle ; on one of the side doors the 
word " Surgery " was painted, and upon the 
railings was a brass plate, with " Paul 
Annesle}^, Surgeon, &c.," engraved upon it. 

He was admitted by the central door into a 
large hall occupying the whole depth of the 
house, and having; a £>dass o-arden-door on its 
opposite side. He had scarcely set foot 
within it when a door on his right oj)ened, 



64 THE REPROACH OF AJ?NESLEY 

and from its comparative darkness there 
issued into the radiance of the lamp-lit hall 
a tall and stately woman, with snow-white 
hair, and larire, bria'ht blue eves. Save her 
snowv hair, she showed no siun of aiie ; her 
step was elastic, her figure erect as a dart. 

" How do you do. Aunt Eleanor ? " said 
Edward, going up to her and kissing the still 
blooming cheeks oflered for his salute. " I 
missed Paul, as vou see. How well vou are 
looking ! " 

]Mrs. Annesley held his hands and looked 
into his face with a seraphic smile, while she 
replied to his salutations, and said, with 
formal cordiality : 

'• Welcome, dear nephew, welcome to our 
dwellinof. Paul should have been here to 
receive you, but his medical duties have 
doubtless detained him. You know what 
martyrs to duty medical men are. You may 
remember your dear uncle's life with its 
constant interruptions." 

" Yes, I remember," returned Edward, not 
dreaminii- that his cousin's medical duties at 



SHADOWS. 65 

that moment consisted in drinkinir tea in the 
fireliiiht and talkini;^ to a most attractive 
yonng woman. "I suppose you never know 
when to expect Paul." 

" Never," she said, taking Edward's arm 
and walking with a slow step and rustling- 
dress into the drawing-room, which was 
darkened by heav}' curtains in the windows, 
and was only lighted by the htful gleam of 
the fire. " Indeed, ni}^ life would be very 
sad and solitary but for the happiness it gives 
me to think that ni}- dearest child is of so 
much use to his fellow-creatures. That, dear 
Edward, is my greatest consolation." Mrs. 
Annesley sank with the air of a saintly em- 
press or imperial saint upon her throne-like 
arm-chair by the fire, and sighed softly and 
smiled sweetly as she arranged the white 
satin strings of her delicate cap, wdiicli bore 
but a traditional resemblance to the widow's 
cap she had long since discarded as un- 
becoming]^. 

Having dutifulh' placed a footstool for her, 
lie took his seat on the opposite side of the 



56 THE EEPROACII OF ANNESLEY. 

fire, and bef>'an losino; himself in admiration 
and wonder of his seraphic and dignified aunt 
just as he had done in his boyhood, indeed 
somethini^ of his boyhood's awe returned to 
him in the fascination of her presence. 

She still sat as upright as in those da3^s ; 
neither arm-chair nor footstool were needed, 
save as adjuncts to her dignity. Every little 
detail of her dress showed the accuracy and 
finish that only women conscious of a power 
to charm bestow on such trifles : there was 
old rich lace in her cap and about her neck ; 
a few costl}" jewels, old friends of Edward's, 
were in her dress, a ring was on her hand, the 
diamonds in which caught the fireli^iit and 
broke into a thousand tiny fierce flames ; 
when she smiled, her well-formed lips showed 
a row of perfect pearls. She was an im- 
posing, as well as a handsome figure. 

Her nephew gazed earnestly at her for 
some time, while she went on in her smooth 
and gentle tones, asking after his mother and 
sisters, and telling him various little items of 
family news ; while the firelight played upon 



SHADOWS. 57 

the soft richness of her dress, drew sparkles 
from her eyes and her jewels, and threw her 
shadow, as if in impish mockery, distorted 
into the changing shapes of old witch-like 
women, upon the wall behind her. 

" Well, Aunt," he said at last, " I need not 
ask if you are well. You don't look a day 
older than you used to. I have done nothing 
but admire you for the last ten minutes." 

" So, sir," she returned, smiling, " 3'ou have 
already learnt the arts of your profession, and 
know how to flatter. Fie on you, to practise 
on your old -aunt ! And, pray, how many 
young ladies have you bereaved of their 
hearts in this manner ? " 

"Xone," he replied, laughing. "I am not 
a lady-killer. I am put down as a slow 
fellow." 

" Nay, my dear kinsman ; I cannot believe 
that the ladies of these days have such bad 
taste. You have a'rown into such a tall 
fellow, you remind me of my sainted 
husband." 

"My mother thinks me like my Uncle 



58 THE EEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

Walter," he replied, ^vondermg by what 
process his lamented uncle had been 
canonized after death, since during his life 
his injured wife accounted him the greatest 
of sinners ; " an U£iiv likeness, she tells me 
with cruel candour. Here comes a carria<?e. 
Is it Paul's ? " he added, s^oinc^ to the window 
and lookino' into the dimly-lisfhted street. 
" What a capital cob ! " 

The Admiral, as the cob was called, 
brought his rapid trot to a sudden end. 
Paul sprang up the steps with a rapidity 
which in some men would have been un- 
dignified, but in him only gave assurance of 
boundless vitality, and came in bringing a 
breath of the fresh niofht air and a suixo-estion 
of healthy manhood -and out-of-door life with 
him. 

The cousins met with less of the sava^'e 
indifference which Englishmen usually think 
fit to assume to welcome their best friends ; 
they shook hands more than once, and smiled. 
Paul even said that he was delighted to see 
his dear Ted, that it felt like old times to see 



SHADOWS. 69 

his honest face, and that he hoped he would 
be able to extend the brief visit he purposed 
makiniz" ; while Edward avowed that it did 
him good to see his dear old Paul, and that 
he was n-lad to find the old fellow lookin<_f so 
jolly. Then they shook hands again, and the 
firelight danced upon Paul's irregular features 
and dark fiery blue eyes, and brought into 
unusual prominence a white scar beneath his 
left eye. 

Edward remembered how Paul got that 
scar, and felt cold chills running over him. 

After one more mighty grasp of his 
cousin's hand, Paul turned to his mother, 
who presented each cheek to him as she had 
done to Edward, and solemnly blessed him, 
as if he had been absent for months, or was 
at least a Spartan son returning with his 
shield rather than upon it. Then Paul 
enquired with an air of deej) solicitude 
about various evil symptoms with which 
she appeared to have been afflicted in the 
morning, and was informed that all had 
happily yielded to treatment, save one. 



60 THE REPROACH OF A>\\ESLEY. 

" I still have that dreadful feehng of con- 
striction across my eyes," she said, in a tone 
of mournful resignation. 

" Have you, indeed ? " returned Paul, 
earnestly. " Perhaps a little wine and your 
dinner may remove it. If not, I will give 
3'ou a draught. I will take Xed at once to 
his room, and then we can dine without 
delay." 

Edward's surprise at finding his comely 
aunt the victim of so many dreadful pains 
was forgotten in the livelv chat of the dinner- 
table, as well as in the great satisfaction that 
meal afforded him after his lono- walk. 

" Your renown has already preceded you, 
Edward," Paul observed. " Arden is already 
full of your arrival." 

" Arden ? Why I saw no soul there ! " 

" No ? Have you forgotten the sign-post ? " 

" What ! was that squint-eyed fellow an 
acquaintance of yours P " he asked. 

" What do vou think of that, mother, as a 
description of Gervase Packman ? " said Paul. 

" You don't mean to say that was Gervase 



SHADOWS. 61 

Eickman ? " exclaimed Edward. " I tlioufjlit 
I had some faint remembrance - of him. 
Heaven only knows what I said about his 
father ! If he recognized me, wli^- on earth 
couldn't he say so ? " 

" He Avas not sure till he described you to 
me. B}^ the way, mother, I forgot to say 
why I was late. I met Eickman, and had to 
turn in at Arden." 

It is thus that Love demoralizes ; nothing 
else would have made Paul Annesley invent 
lies, especially useless ones. His mother 
looked amused at his demure face, then she 
c^lanced at Edward and lau^-hed. 

" And how teas dear Sibyl ? " she asked 
with satirical gravity. 

" Sibyl ? oh ! I believe she was very well. 
She was out. You remember little Sibbie, 
ISIed?" Paul said, tranquill3\ 

" A little mischievous imp who was always 
teasing us ? Oh ! yes, I daresay I should 
scarcelv recoirnize her now. Is she OTOwn 
into a beauty? " 

"Are not all ladies beautiful?" returned 



62 THE REPHOACH OF ANXESLEY. 

Paul. "You shall go over and judge for 
yourself before long." 

" I heard a sad piece of news at Arden," 
he continued ; " Captain Annesley is dead." 

" Who was he ? " asked Edward, in- 
differently. " There is an Annesley in the 
100th Hussars ; I never met him." 

Mrs. Annesley flushed deeply and said 
nothincr for a few moments. Paul looked at 
her, and the unspoken thought flashed from 
one to the other, " this brings us very near 
the Gledesworth inheritance." 

" How very sad ! " she said at last, in 
rather a hard voice, while Paul bit his lips 
and then drank some wine, half ashamed at 
the interpretation of the swift glance. 

"It is important that you should know 
who Captain Annesley was, Edward," he said 
after a minute, " because after me, you are 
the next heir to the infant son he leaves." 

" This is ghastly ; the idea of my being 
your heir ! " replied Edward, who was 
speedily enlightened as to the exact relation- 
ship, and properly refreshed on the subject of 



SHADOWS. 63 

the lialf-forgotten legend, in wliicli lie appa- 
rently took but a languid interest, and the 
conversation presentl}^ drifted to other 
topics. 

After dinner Mrs. Annesley played some 
sonatas, and Edward san^j; some sonc^s to her 
accompaniment till Paul, who had been up 
the night before, and in the open air all day, 
sank into a sweet slumber. The other two 
sat chatting in low tones, Edward describing 
his life as an artillery officer in a seaport 
town not far off, discussing his chances of 
promotion, and his next brother's progress at 
Woolwich, and hearing of Paul's position, 
which was not a happy one. Dr. Walter 
Annesley's partner, who had carried on the 
business since his death, unluckily died soon 
after Paul began to practise with him, thus 
leaving Paul to make his way single-handed. 
Patients distrusted his voutli and went to 
older men, so that things were not going as 
smoothly as could be wished, and the practice 
scarcely paid Paul's personal expenses. So 
they chatted till the servants appeared, and 



64 THE REPROACH OF A^'NESLEY. 

Mrs. Annesley read prayers, first asking Paul 
if lie felt equal to performing the task 
himself after his labours, which he did 
not. 

" Come aloni? and smoke," said Paul with 
alacrity, when his mother had bidden them 
good-night. " I smoke in the consulting- 
room." 

"Why there?" asked Edward, doubt- 
fully. 

" Well ! you see it is the only place. I 
dare not smoke anywhere else. I tell the 
patients it insures them against infection, and 
receive the old ladies in the dining-room. I 
was nervous about her reception of you. 
But I see you are in high favour." 

" She seems perfectly angelic," replied 
Edward, selecting a cigar from the box 
offered him. "By the way, I had no idea 
she was in delicate health." 

Paul laughed. " I doubt if any woman in 
the three kingdoms enjoys such brilliant 
health as ni}^ dear mother," he replied, "but 
she is never happy without some fancied ail- 



SHADOWS. 65 

ment. I give lier a little coloured water and 
a few bread pills from time to time." 

He did not add that Mrs. Annesley's 
ailments were in an inverse ratio to lier 
amiability, and formed a good domestic baro- 
meter. 

Just tlien there was a tap at the door, and 
a soft voice said : 

" May I come in ? " 

" Certainly," replied Paul in some trepida- 
tion, and his mother entered. 

" I will not intrude, dear children," she 
said ; " I merelv come to tell Edward on no 
account to rise for our early breakfast unless 
he feels quite rested, and to bring him this 
little o'ift of mv workino-." She vanished 
with a " God bless you, dear boys," before 
her nephew had time to thank her, after 
which both youno- men breathed more freely, 
and Edward took an embroidered tobacco- 
pouch from his parcel. 

" Poke the hre, Xed," Paul said cheerfully, 
when the door closed after her. Then he 
opened a closet where stood a skeleton par- 
VOL. I. 5 



66 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

tially draped in a dressing-gown, wliicli the 
flesliless arm, extended as if in declamation, 
threw back from the ghastly figure, and 
crowned by a smoking-cap rakishly tipped 
on one side on its skull. "Let's be jolly 
for once, ' have a rouse before the morn.' " 
He transferred the dressing-gown from the 
bare bones to his own strong young shoul- 
ders, and the cap from the grinning skull to 
his dark curled brow, beneath which the 
cruel scar showed. Perhaps it was Edward's 
fancy, excited by the suggestive revelation 
of the skeleton, which made the scar appear 
unusually distinct and livid ; perhaps it was 
only the light. 

" How kind of my aunt to make this," lie 
said, looking at the pouch. 

" She is kind," commented Paul, his tem- 
porary gaiety vanishing as quickly as it 
came ; "no woman has a more heavenly dis- 
position than my dear mother when free 
from those attacks, which are probably the 
result of some cerebral lesion." 

" Perhaps," Edward suggested liopefull}-. 



SHADOWS. 67 

" she may grow out of tliem with advancing 
years." 

"Perhaps," sighed Paul. "But all the 
Mowbra3's are the same, you know. It is in 
the blood. My uncle Ealph Mowbray was 
offended with my father once, and he laid 
awake at nights for six weeks concocting the 
most stinging phrases he could think of for a 
letter he wrote him. I'll show you that 
letter some day." 

" Well ! I hope it will never break out in 
you, Paul," said Edward, incautiously. 

" I, my dear fellow ? " replied Paul, with 
his good-tempered smile, "there is no fear 
for me. I am a pure-bred Annesley." 

"Ah!" said Edward, looking reflectively 
at the fire. 

" There has not been a serious explosion 
since Xew Year's Eve," continued Paul, clasp- 
ing his hands above his head, and looking at 
the chimney-piece, which was adorned with a 
centrepiece of a skull and cross-bones, flanked 
by several stethoscopes and other mysterious 
and wicked-lookinfT instruments, and above 

5* 



68 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

wliicli was the smiling portrait of a lovely 
little girl, with a strong likeness to Mrs. 
Annesley. "You know how I valued the 
Parian Psj^che of Thorwaldsen's you gave 
me ? She knew it, for she took it in both 
hands and dashed it on the hearth."' 

Edward again felt cold chills creeping over 
him, and his gaze followed Paul's to the 
dimpled child-face he had loved, Paul's only 
sister Nellie, whose end had been so trac^ic. 

" And what did you do ? " he asked. 

"Oh! I just sent the Crown Derby tea- 
service after it," replied Paul, " so pray don't 
notice the absence of either." 

" She valued the tea-service," said Edward, 
inwardly thankful that the fiery Mowbray 
blood did not flow in his veins. 

" Imagine the smash," said Paul, pensively. 
" And the deed was scarcely done, when the 
door is opened, and in walks the vicar and 
stares ac^hast at the Lares and Penates shat- 
tered on the drawing-room hearth. My 
mother turns to him with the most heavenly 
smile and wishes him a Happy New Year. 



SHADOWS. C9 

'And just see what that clumsy boy of mine 
has done,' she adds quietly, pointing to the 
fragments. ' Quite a genius for upsetting 
things, dear child.' " 

" ' I thought I heard something fall,' replies 
the innocent vicar, quoting the line about 
' mistress of herself though China fall,' and 
conofratulatino' me on havino^ a mother with 
such a sweet temper." 

Edward mused for some time on the misery 
of his cousin's life, a misery rarely alluded to 
by Paul himself, and any allusion to which on 
Edward's part he w^ould have deeply resented. 
He knew that the chain must be pressing 
heavily for him thus to disburden himself, and 
he suggested that he should marry and have a 
quiet home of his own ; to which Paul replied 
mournfully, that he was not yet in a position 
to set up housekeeping. 

" Though indeed " he added, and sud- 
denly stopped. 

"Well?" 

" ft seems so brutal to build on a babv's 
death," he replied ; " and yet " 



THE REPROACH OF ANXESLEY. 

"It alters your position, Paul," said 
Edward, " and being sentimental about it 
won't keep the baby alive." 

"True." 

" I think I may assume that the ' unexpres- 
sive She ' has already been found," Edward 
said, remembering the dark hints during 
dinner, and Paul smiled mysteriously. 

" Perhaps I may meet her at Arden ? " 
Edward added. 

" Who knows ? But I have never yet 
spoken. I am not entitled by my prospects 
to do so. I don't know if I have the smallest 
chance. And when you see her, Xed," he 
added, with some hesitation, " perhaps you 
will remember " 

Edward burst out laughing and grasped 
his cousin's hand. 

" Don't be afraid," he replied, " I am not a 
lady's man ; and if I were, Aphrodite herself 
would not tempt me to spoil other people's 
little games." 

"Eemember your promise," said Paul 
solemnly, and they separated for the night. 



SHADOWS, 71 

Edward wishing his cousin success, and think- 
ing as he took his way upstairs that whatever 
Miss Sibyl Rickman's character might be, the 
Eickman blood was reputed to be an emi- 
nently mild and tranquil fluid, well calculated 
to temper the fire of such of the terrible 
Mowbray strain as might have been trans- 
mitted to Paul. 



CHAPTEE lY 



THE :meet. 



When Paul Annesle}^ appeared at breakfast 
next morning lie had a heavy look, and 
yawned a good deal, for which he apologized, 
observing casually that he had been called 
up at two in the morning, and only got home 
at six. 

Mrs. Annesley's comment upon this was a 
tranquil remark that it usually occurred 
three nights running ; but Edward, whose 
deep slumbers had been invaded once or 
twice by sounds which roused him sufficientlv 
to make him wonder if he had fallen asleep in 
the guard-house, questioned his cousin, and 
learned that he had ridden five miles on the 
cob he had used the day before, to a cottage 
in a dell, which could be approached only by 



THE MEET. 73 

a footpath ; that he had tied the Admiral to a 
gate ill a field, and left him while he visited 
the 2^atient, who died. 

Ill the meantime, the horse had broken 
loose, and after a long and tantalizing chase 
round the field, Paul dropped and broke his 
lantern, wandered knee-deep into a pool of 
water, and slipped down once or twice ; after 
which he decided to walk home through the 
dark, drizzling morning, leaving the pro- 
voking steed to his fate. This proved to be 
nothing more dreadful than being captured at 
daylight by the patient's husband, and led 
back to Medington, whither the widower was 
bound for various sad necessities. He now 
stood, with the animal before the door, even 
w^hile the cousins were talking, a picture of 
homely tragedy. 

In spite of these nocturnal adventures, 
Paul was bent on c^oina' to the meet, which 
was at the "Travellers' Eest," on Ardeii 
Down that day ; he was further bent on 
Edward's accompanying him, though a search 
through the livery stables of Medington 



74 THE REPKOACH OF AN^ESLEY. 

resulted in the production of nothing better 
than an immense gaunt old chestnut, which 
had once seen good days, requiring some 
moral courage to ride. Paul, with a truly 
heroic magnanimity, offered his cousin his 
own little thorough-bred, Diana, whom he 
loved like a child ; but Edward, with scarcely 
less heroism, declined, and the cousins 
started off on their dissimilar steeds. 

As they trotted quietly along, Paul stop- 
ping occasionally to visit a patient, Edward 
thought a good deal about him and his 
mother. What a good fellow he was, how 
cheerfully he faced the hardships of his lot, 
and, above all, what an excellent son he 
was to that very trying mother ! Few sons 
were so much loved as he, and his affection 
for his mother was deep and strong. He 
must have been very desperate when he 
smashed the tea-service ; it was the sole 
passionate outbreak on his part of which he 
had heard. 

He thouo'ht of his own kind and sweet- 
tempered mother, also a widow, and to whom 



THE MEET. 75 

his conscience told him he was not as dutiful 
as Paul to his wayward parent, and wondered 
how it would have fared with himself, had his 
father married Eleanor Mowbray, as family 
tradition, confirmed by gentle Mrs. Edward 
Annesley's severe strictures on Mrs. Walter, 
reported that he had wished to do. 

Over the chimney-piece in his bed-room at 
Medington was a portrait of Eleanor Mow- 
bray which haunted him. It was taken at 
the time of her marriage, and represented a 
lovely girl in the childish costume of early 
Victorian days, with arch blue eyes peeping 
out from between two bunches of curls in 
front of the cheeks. He had gazed, fascin- 
ated, upon it, vainl}^ trying to detect the 
lurkino^ demon behind the ano-el semblance. 

He was on a visit to Medino-ton when 
Xellie's death occurred. The child, then 
twelve years old, on being severely and 
unduly scolded for some slight fault by her 
mother, who was chasing her from place to 
place, harassed at last beyond endurance, 
had turned, seized a brush from the hall 



76 THE EEPEOACH OF AN^'ESLEY. 

table, and thrown it at Mrs. Annesley. 
Edward was standing by. 

" Undutiful child ! You have killed me ! 
You are unfit to live. Xever let me see you 
again ! " the mother burst out with fierce 
vehemence. 

The child took her at her word, and ran 
out of the garden door ; Edward never would 
forget her white face as she turned before 
disappearing. 

Next morning; he saw her slicrht bodv 
borne drowned into that hall. She had not 
been missed ; being in disgrace she was sup- 
posed to be hiding about the house some- 
where, until she was found by the river side, 
and thus tragicall}^ brought home. 

Were there other demons lurkins^ unseen 
behind other angel faces ? he wondered. Did 
Eleanor Annesley in those innocent bridal 
days dream of what she was capable ? did 
she even now realise the horror of the thincr 
which at times possessed her ? Paul, though 
he had " sent the tea-service after " the 
Psyche, did not dream that the curse of the 



THE MEET. 77 

Mowbrays had fallen on himself. For not 
only is each human bein<:{ an eniorma to his 
fellows, a dark mystery fenced about on ever^' 
side by impassable limits which obscure his 
nature almost as elTectually as Sigfrid's 
Tarnkappe, or Cloak of Darkness, did the 
hero's bodily presence, but, what is still 
stranger, each is an insoluble mystery to 
himself. No one can tell how he will act in 
unforeseen circumstances, which may prove 
the touchstone to reveal unsuspected quali- 
ties ; nay, even when the fierce discipline of 
life has brought many unexpected features to 
light, and a long record of good and ill is 
written on the memory, who can analyse the 
motives, mixed as they must be, which 
prompted those deeds ? 

Paul in the meantime was haunted by the 
vision of Alice, sitting in the carved oak 
seat beneath the armour, with the hound 
at her knee, in the fire-lit hall, and con- 
siderinf:^ if he could manage to have himself 
landed at Arden Manor before the end of 
the day ; for the days on which he did not 



78 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

see lier became more and more flat and un- 
profitable. 

" Except I be by Sylvia in the night, 
There is no music in the nightingale ; 
Unless I look on Sylvia in the day, 
There is no clay for me to look upon." 

Then he mused upon the news he heard 
there, and thousfht how it would have been 
with him, had Ees^inald's baby not been born. 
His pros|)ects were so dark, he could not 
help thinking of Edward's happier circum- 
stances, his more agreeable life and compa- 
rative wealth. 

Now the chestnut pricked up his ears and 
looked about him with a joyous excitement, 
which rivalled Diana's own youthful ardour, 
and they knew that the hounds were near ; 
Paul pressed on through the ever-growing 
stream of horses and carriafres to see his 
patient, leaving his cousin to lollow at 
leisure. 

In spite of the leaden sk}^ and thick moist 
air, which obscured all but near objects, the 



THE MEET. 79 

desolate spot on wliicli the lonely inn was built 
looked gay and animated this morning. In 
front of the low stone wall of the courtyard 
moved the parti-coloured mass of hounds, 
their sterns waving with half-suppressed 
enthusiasm ; out of their midst rose the 
huntsman on his bright bay ; his scarlet coat 
emphasized by the grey background of the 
inn. That awful personage, the Master, 
splendidly mounted and brightly clad, with 
a world of care on his brow, was exchanc^inof 
polite commonplaces with gentlemen, to some 
of whom his expressions later in the da}' 
would be less civil and more forcible. The 
mass of riders wore dark coats, but the pro- 
portion of red was enough to brighten the 
whole picture. Four or five farmers on good 
horses of their own breeding, two or three 
beautifully equipped county gentlemen, a few 
ladies, some half-dozen nondescript riders, 
including a clergyman, who said he was only 
looking on, a rabble of boys, with half-a- 
dozen officers from reGfiments stationed near, 
made up the field. A barouche, two landaus, 



80 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

three waggonettes, a few pliaetons, gigs and 
dogcarts, an empty coal-waggon and a 
butcher's cart, were drawn up in the road, 
and Edward vainly scanned the ladies in these 
vehicles in search of the object of Paul's 
affection. 

Then he glanced at the solitary inn, and 
thouoiit of the sufferini]^ that a thin wall 
separated from the animated group of 
pleasure seekers. Eeuben Gale was walking 
Diana up and down, and exchanging pleasan- 
tries with the whip. His father was leaning 
on the low wall, with an empty pewter-pot 
in his hand, enjoying the scene just as if his 
daughter were not dying and he had not all 
those o'raves down in Arden church vard. 
People were laughing, chatting and smoking ; 
horses were champing their bits, and sid- 
ling and stamping with the exultation of the 
coming hunt. The warm, damp air was 
laden with the scent of opening buds, 
trampled turf and trodden earth ; luscious 
flute-notes of thrushes and the tender 
coo-coo of wood-pigeons came from the 



THE MEET. 81 

copses below and mingled with the oc- 
casional nei^li of a horse or whine of a 
lionnd. There was a joyous thrill of ex- 
pectancy that made Edward forget his 
steed's shortcoming's, and neither he nor any- 
one else thought of the background of 
tragedy which shadowed every human being 
present. 

Amonc" the horses was a beautiful white 
Arab, easily distinguished by the character- 
istic spring of the tail from the haunches, 
and Edward observed the animal with 
such interest that he did not notice the 
rider. The latter, however, pressed his knees 
into the Arab, and sprang forward so sud- 
denly that the excited Larr}^ backed into an 
unpretending phaeton, containing an old 
gentleman and a vouni>' lady. He cauixht 
the flash of a pair of dark eyes, as he turned 
after getting free, and apologized, and then 
found himself accosted by the Arab's rider, 
a Highland officer of his acquaintance, who 
bestowed some ironical praise upon the un- 
lucky Larry. 

VOL. I. 6 



82 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

Edward lauglied, and explained that it 
was Hobson's choice. 

Captain Mcllvray regretted that he had not 
known in time to offer him a mount. " But, 
my dear fellow," he added in his affected 
drawl, "you said you were staying at 
Medington." 

" Yes, I am staying with some friends who 
live there." 

" Eeally," returned the Highlander, " do 
3^ou mean to say that anybody lives in that 
beastly hole ? " 

" Some few thousand people live there, I 
believe." 

" Ah ! 3^ou mean, Annesley, that they don't 
quite die there, eh ? " he asked, not at once 
seeing the rebuke. 

" I mean that they live pleasant and pro- 
fitable lives there," he replied, wondering if 
Paul's life were either pleasant or profitable. 

Captain Mcllvray appeared to muse in 
some wonder upon this assertion, while a 
humorous twinkle in his eye showed that he 
was conscious of his own affectation and of 



THE MEET. 83 

Edward's irritation over it. But lie did not 
yet see that he had been rude. 

" And who are the virtuous people who 
live the supewior lives in the stweets of Med- 
ington ? " he continued, determined not to be 
put down, and thus emphasizing the first 
discourtesy. 

" Paul Annesley, my cousin, a doctor," 
Edward answered, in the neutral tones which 
best rebuke rudeness ; " that brown mare 
with black points is his ; he is visiting a 
patient in the inn there," he added, seeing 
that Captain Mcllvray perceived at last that 
he had made a mistake. "He doesn't pre- 
tend to hunt, but says he can't help it if the 
hounds will run in front of him." 

"Yewy good weasoning, vewy clever 
mare," the Highland officer said. " No idea 
you had friends there. Thought it was an 
inn.'; 

Then he asked to be introduced to the 
cousin, just as Paul came up on Diana, and 
Edward introduced them. 

" And now, Edward," said Paul, after a 

G* 



84 THE REPROACH OF ANXESLEY. 

few words, " I must re-introduce you to some 
old friends." 

And, turning, lie led him up to tlie very 
pliaeton into wliicli the chestnut had just 
backed, and the owner of the dark eyes, who 
had unavoidably heard every word that had 
passed between the two officers, proved to be 
no other than Sibyl Eickman. 

" I should never have known vou for our 
old friend, Sibbie," he said with unaffected 
admiration. Then the pack moved off to the 
copse below the inn, and the phaeton was 
drawn with the two horsemen into the movinc^ 
stream which followed it, so that he had only 
time to observe a pretty voice and laugh, 
an animated face and an easily excited blush, 
as the charms which won Paul's heart. 

But Sibvl, havino^ overheard his conversa- 
tion with the Hia'hland officer, formed an 
estimate of his character which she never 
altered. She mused on it while talkinc^ at 
the cover-side to Paul, when Edward was 
renewing his acquaintance with ]Mr. Eickman. 
It seemed to the dreamv imairinative Sibvl 



THE MEET. 85 

that SO fine a vision of young manhood had 
never before been revealed to her. His very 
gesture when he patted the neck of the des- 
pised old horse went to her heart, and re- 
mained there for ever. 

The air was now alive with expectation ; 
the eager cry of a hound broke out and set 
the horses' ears quivering ; the plaintive 
sound of the horn was heard ; whips cracked 
like pistol-shots in the heart of the wood ; the 
last cover hack was exchanged for a hunter, 
girths were tightened, bits examined, cigars 
thrown away and conversation became 
spasmodic. Again the passionate cry of a 
hound, another and another, then silence ; 
more horn blowing, more pistol cracks, and 
demoniac yells from human lungs, finally the 
full triumphant chorus of the pack. 

Then a strange jumble of sounds and excite- 
ment, a general stampede of saddle-horses, 
all kinds of misbehaviour on the part of 
those in harness, a universal madness seizing 
man and beast, and the cover-side in a few 
moments is deserted, riders streaming across 



86 THE KEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

the fields, and carriages along the nearest 
high-road, because a small reddish-brown 
animal with a bushy tail has just whisked 
cautiously out from the far side of the 
coppice, looking behind him with a sagacious 
grin, and rejoicing that the nearest muzzle 
sniffing his trail is a good way behind. 

Straii?ht alon^^ the valley beneath the down 
flashed Eeynard, and what he thought of the 
splendid canine chorus behind him, and 
whether he appreciated the melody of the 
fine pack and was soothed to find them 
" matched in mouth like bells," unfortunately 
nobody knows. Yet one cannot help think- 
inof that it must be a fine thinoj to dart away 
thus at full stretch, and by the exercise of 
all one's powers to strain and perhaps bafile 
all that tremendous following of instinct, 
strength and skill ; to fight alone — one small, 
solitary animal — all those trained monsters in 
the chiming pack, those gigantic, high- 
mettled steeds, and that great army of think- 
ing men. At all events this particular fox, 
rejoicing that his last meal had been oppor- 



THE MEKT. 87 

tunely timed to put him in trim for the run, 
hiid his legs to the ground smartly, and 
gallantly resolved, if it came to the worst, to 
die hard. 

On dashed the hounds, mad with exultation, 
utterins^ their wild music ; on thundered the 
field, horses and men alike intoxicated with 
the chase, and neither thinking of Eeynard's 
sensations. Now the Master's face is aflame 
with wrath and his denunciations are loud 
and pungent, as some recklesss rider blunders 
over the hindmost hounds ; the huntsman 
and the whip are alive in every nerve ; the 
best riders are restraining the eagerness of 
their steeds ; field after field is swallowed up, 
hedge and ditch and brook are cleared, with 
every field the hunt is drawn out into a longer 
and thinner stream ; timid riders are seen 
scrambling along hedge-rows in search of 
gates and gaps ; there lies a horse, hoofs 
uppermost, and near him his rider with red 
coat all tarnished, and once spotless breeches 
stained with mud. There is a cry of " Ware 
wheat ! " that cunnini>- little brown beast has 



88 THE EEPROACn OF ANNESLEY. 

bolted straight across a Held of young corn. 
On he dashes, less hindered by obstacles than 
any other member of the hunt, which per- 
haps makes him grin so sardonically as he 
flies. 

The carriao'es see most of the fun from the 
high road ; but now the hunt has vanished 
from their view, and spectators can only form 
shrewd guesses as to the whereabouts of the 
pack, and tyros are beginning to fmd that 
hunting is more complicated than it seems. 

Paul and Diana have gone as straight as 
any bird ; only once did they swerve aside, 
and that was to avoid over-riding Captain 
Mcllvray, whom they observed sitting with 
an air of bewilderment in the middle of a 
field, whither his horse (who, after coming 
down on his nose, was now picking himself 
up and continuing his course riderless and 
undaunted) had pitched him while taking a 
stiff fence. Xothing but delight reigns now 
in Paul's breast : neither the shadow of the 
Mowbray temper nor the glory of Alice 
Lingard's presence in the fire-lit hall affects 



THE MEET. 89 

liira, and when he sees another man flying out 
of his saddle he is half angry lest he should 
have contrived to break some bone and so 
need his aid. But the man knows how 
to fall, and is soon mounted again, followed 
by Mcllvray, wdio has escaped with a few 
bruises, on his recaptured Arab. 

As for Larry, he and his rider alike forgot 
his advanced age in the first burst of joyous 
excitement, and pounded over a field or two, 
taking a moderate fence, with the best. But 
at the second fence, a good strong bullfinch, 
liorse and rider, dreadfully mixed up, came 
rolling down the opposite bank together, and 
Edward had to execute a vigorous roll of his 
own devising to get free of Larry's hoofs. The 
old liorse appeared none the worse for his 
tumble, and the rider, findino' that his own 
bones were intact, went on with moderate 
ardour, seeking gates and gaps in fences. 
What with these delays, and the necessity of 
going softly lest Larry should come down 
again, Edward was more than once thrown 
out, finding the trail again b}' dint of observa- 



90 TEE llEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

tion and surmise, and finally found himself a 
solitaiy rider on the slope of the down, with 
a spent horse, and the hounds nowhere. 
"Poor old fellow!" he said, patting Larry's 
hot wet neck, as he walked quietly along, 
" I doubt if any horse has done so gallantly 
as 3^ou to-day. You gave me the best you 
could, and now we will jog quietly home." 

But the thinof was to find a road ; and thev 
went through a couple of fields without seeing 
a living creature or discovering any means of 
reaching the high-road Edward knew to lie 
along the valley. The rain had cleared off, 
the breath of prnnroses and violets came 
deliciously on the moist, mild, spring air, 
and the larks sang in distracting raptures 
and whirls of song. 

The next field showed a pretty sight. It 
was fresh ploughed, and the scent of the warm 
earth rose from its symmetrical furrows, 
along which came, with rapid, even strides, 
a man bearing on his left arm a wooden 
basket of peculiar shape into which he con- 
tinually dipped his right hand, and, with an in- 



THE MEET. 01 

describably graceful movement, rhythmically 
matched to the motion of his steps, scattered 
a shower of seed-corn over the gaping furrows. 
It was delightful to watch this man, in his 
skilled strength and unconscious dignity, 
striding with swift even step and swift even 
sweep of the right arm up and down the 
ridge of lines, exactly throwing his golden 
rain with strenuous but reo'ulated toil. 

The sower paused and breathed while he 
refilled his basket from a sack standing- 
upright in the field, and started ofi" again, 
followed by a couple of horses and a man 
with a harrow to rake the seed into the soil. 
This man moved more leisurely, cracked his 
whip cheerily, and whistled a mellow note 
when not utterino- strano-e sounds to his 
horses, and of him Edward asked the 
nearest way to Medington. 

Havino' reached the end of the furrow, the 
man with the harrow caused his steeds to stop, 
and, taking off his cap and burying his fingers 
in his curls, looked with a perplexed air up 
and down and all round in profound silence 



92 THE REPROACH OP ANXESLEY. 

for some moments. One might suppose that 
he was silently invoking the inspiration of 
some deity. Then he observed cautiously, 
" Darned if I knows." 

" How am I to cfet down into the hii^h-road 
then ! " asked Edward. 

" You med goo over down," continued the 
man, ignoring the second question, which had 
scarcely had time to penetrate to the remote 
regions of his brain, " but 'tis ter'ble hrough. 
Then agen, you med goo along down hroad." 

" Exactly," replied Edward, no wiser than 
before : " but how am I to c'et into the 
road?" 

" Zure enough," he returned, addressing 
the sower, " how be he to get into the 
hroad?" 

" Is there no lane ? " asked Annesley, looking 
at the maze of fields between himself and the 
far-distant road in the vallev. 

" Ay," replied the sower, who was resting 
now, and brinoino; out his dinner from a 
bundle, "you'll zoon vind he. Goo on athirt 
them turmuts ; there's a lane over thav-urr." 



THE MEET. 93 

And he pointed liis thumb vaguely over his 
shoulder. 

He rode athwart the turnips accordinLdy, 
not knowing that the sower considered " over 
there," with a westward direction of the 
thumb, sufficient indication of the where- 
abouts of America, found a gate, and at 
last came upon a steep furzy slope the 
other side of the turnip -field. The ground 
gradually became rougher and steeper, and 
suddenly he found himself rapidly descend- 
ing an almost perpendicular slope, which the 
curve of the around had hidden from him. 
He was iust o-oino- to dismount, when he was 
relieved from that necessity by the sudden 
collapse of Larry, who stumbled over a rabbit- 
hole, and came crashimr down head over heels, 
and rolled in a most complicated manner to 
the bottom ; while Edward, on findino- himself 
shot over Larry's head, instinctively guided 
his own rolls out of the horse's orbit, and, 
arriving at the bottom by a separate track, 
kept his bones unbroken. 

The chestnut, less fortunate than his rider, 



94 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

was cut on his slioulder and knee, and pre- 
sented a melancholy spectacle when he 
scrambled to his feet, and set about to console 
himself by browsing? on the short turf near 
him ; and Edward, reflecting that hunting on 
a worn-out hack has its drawbacks, began to 
wonder what was to be done next. 



CHAPTER V. 



SPEING FLO WEES. 



He found the liio'li-road at last and a cottaofe, 
where he turned in and washed and bandaged 
Larry's knee. Then he set off on the road to 
Medington on foot, as fast as the woful Ihiip 
of the unkick}^ chestnut wouki permit, with 
the bridle over his arm, and cheerily trolling 
out reminiscences of the Bay of Biscay. The 
road was long, the Bay of Biscay came to 
an end, and Larry heard with interest all 
about Tom Bowlino- whose " soul is 2'one 
aloft." 

Presently they reached a little village of 
thatched cottao-es in orardens, dotted on either 
.side of the road, and there beneath the slope 
of the down Edward recognized the low 
square tower of Arden Church, with the 



96 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

manor house just beyond it, and burst out 
lustil}^ with " 'Twas in Trafalgar's Bay." 

"For England, Home, and Beauty," re- 
peated the singer in softer notes, wondering 
if the " Golden Horse," picturesquely shaded 
by a row of sycamore-trees, furnished good 
ale (for it was now quite hot and the sun 
was stru2f2flino' throuHi the clouds), when he 

CO CO J' 

saw a phaeton approaching the turning to the 
Manor, and recognized the dark flash of Sibyl 
Rickman's eyes. 

The phaeton pulled up. Mr. Eickman con- 
doled with him upon his melancholy plight, 
and bade him turn in to Arden at once ; to 
which Edward at first demurred, averring 
that he was not presentable. 

That difficuhy was soon got over. Larry 
was comfortably stabled ; it was agreed that 
his owner should send for him later. A little 
soap and water and a borrowed coat, made 
Edward quite presentable, and his host, sur- 
veying him with satisfaction, and observing 
that he had grown a good deal since he last 
saw him, conducted him along a panelled 



SPraNG FLOWERS. 97 

corridor to the drawing-room, a cheerful 
apartment in white painted wainscot, with an 
oriel window lookini}' southward on a sunn^' 
old-fashioned garden, which was even now 
bright with early spring flowers. 

The sun had at last burst through the 
clouds, and, as the drawing-room door 
opened, a flood of sunshine poured througli 
the oriel upon his face, half blinding him for 
a moment. Then he saw Mrs. Eickman at 
work in an easy-chair by the fire, and near 
her Sybil with a book, looking, now that she 
had put off her wraps, the pretty, graceful 
creature she was. 

Having spoken to Mrs. Eickman, he turned 
once more to the light, vaguely conscious of 
a disturbing presence in that direction, and 
there, rising from her seat beneath the glow- 
ing oriel window at a table on which she was 
arranoino' some flowers in vases, with the 
rich sunshine callino' out all the o'old tints in 
her brown hair, and making a tiny halo about 
her head, he saw Alice Lingard. 

He stood still, and fixed a lomr, earnest 

VOL. I. 7 



98 THE EEPROACH OF ANXESLEY. 

gaze upon her, not at first noticing Mrs. 
Packman's introduction of '' Miss Lingard, 
our adopted daughter," while a sudden light 
irradiated Alice's eves and a warm oiow 
suffused her face. In one hand she held 
some daffodils ; as she rose, she overturned 
a basketful at her feet, and from the folds of 
her dress there glided primroses, violets and 
other spring flowers, of which the bowls and 
vases on the table before her were full. 



" Proserpina, 
Por the flowers now, that, frighted, thou let'st fall 
From Dis's waggon ! daffodils, 
That come before the swallow dares, and take 
The winds of ITarch with beaut)^ ; violets dim, 
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes. 
Or Cytherea's breath ; pale primroses, 
That die unmarried, ere they can behold 
Bright Phoebus in his strength." 

They were all there, those delicate flowers 
of hope and spring for which Perdita longed, 
to give to her young prince ; they made a 
fit settinn^ for the vounc^ and c^racious creature 



SPEIXG FLOWERS. 09 

who rose from their midst, scattering them as 
she rose. 

Her clear, tranquil gaze met the stranger's 
frankly for a moment, while a slight tremor 
made the slender daffodils quiver in her 
hand ; but his long and silent glance in no 
way offended her, nor did it strike anyone 
else as disrespectful. It was as if he had 
been gazing all his life at that sweet vision 
among sunshine and flowers ; yet everything 
within him seemed to die and be born again 
as he gazed ; life became glorious and full of 
dim, delicious m^^stery in the sudden stir of 
intense feeling. He did not say, " This woman 
shall be mine," for he felt that she was his 
and he was hers for ever and ever. 

Then he became aware that in rising; she 
had overturned the basket of flowers, and 
after the silent reverence which he made on 
being introduced, his first action was to kneel 
before her and restore the scattered flowers 
to their places. 

" It is a sudden leap from winter to spring, 
from the wet morning with the hounds to all 



100 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

these flowers and sunshine," he said, as he 
handed her a mass of blue violets. 

" Yes, the spring always comes suddenly 
upon us, when it does come," Alice replied, 
grouping the violets. 

" But, unluckily, it does not always stay," 
broke in Mr. Eickman, in his rough voice, 
which resembled the rasping of a chair drawn 
over a stone floor ; " even the Italians, who 
know what spring really means, the spring 
northern poets dream about and never see, 
have a proverb to that efTect ; about the first 
swallow, Sibbie, my dear." 

"Nobody wants our musty old proverbs, 
papa," replied Sibyl, with a graceful imperti- 
nence that always pleased her indulgent 
father, " Mr. Annesley would far rather have 
some dinner." 

" Perhaps he would like some violets as a 
welcome back to Arden, Alice," suggested 
Mrs. Eickman. " Those grey Neapolitans are 
the sweetest. I can scarcelv believe this is 
little Ned Annesley shot up so tall." 

" There, Mr. Anneslev," Alice said, handimr 



SrrJNG ILOWERS. 101 

liiiii a biincli of double violets, " I present you 
with the freedom of Arden. Miss Eickman 
should have done it as the real daughter of 
the house." She looked up with a frank 
smile, which made him feel as we do in 
dreams when we light upon some long-lcst 
treasure and imagine that an end has now 
come to all care. 

Mr. Eickman began to discourse, in his 
harsh yet kindly voice, upon the extensive use 
of flowers in the religious and civil life of the 
ancient Greeks, and Edward smiled to him- 
self when he recalled Gervase's schemes in 
schoolboy daj^s to start his father on an 
absorbing monologue, and so divert his 
attention at critical moments. Mr. Eickman 
had not changed in the least ; his small, 
keen, blue eye was just as bright, his face 
as dried-up and lined, his slight, wiry figure 
had the same scholar's stoop, and his manner 
was as absent and dreamy as in those boyish 
days. 

Soon the}^ found themselves at table in the 
dark, oak -panelled dining-room, but it seemed 



102 THE kep:roacii of annesley. 

less dark than when Edward had last seen it ; 
the pictures, with their fine mellow gloom, 
still hung dusky in the darkness ; but some 
silver sconces and bits of old china brightened 
the walls ; a vase holding daffodils made a 
lustre against a black panel and harmonized 
with a blue china bowl of the same flowers 
on the table. Yet not these trifles alone 
brightened the darkness of that familiar old 
room. 

" Yes," replied Mr. Eickman, when Annes- 
ley said something about the unaccustomed 
brightness the flowers wrought ; " the femi- 
nine eje is ever seeking the ornamental. My 
daughters are occupied from morning till 
night in tryino' to beautifv evervthino-. 
Happily they do not seek to improve my 
appearance " — this was too evident — '' and 
respect the sanctity of ni}^ study " 

" The dirt of his den," interrupted Sibyl. 

" The whole of human history is permeated 
by this peculiarity of the female mind," con- 
tinued Mr. Eickman, abstractedlv ixazinw into 
space ; "all legend is pervaded by it. I pur- 



SPEING FLOWERS. 103 

pose one day to bring out a paper on the 
' Inlluence of the Feminine Love of Ornament 
upon the Destinies of the Human Eace.' My 
paper will embrace a very w^ide range of 
thought. I suppose there is no period of 
human liistor}^ when the feminine desire to 
wear clothes did not manifest itself; the 
passion for improving upon the workmanship 
of nature by art is evinced to-day in the rudest 
savage tribes as well as in the highest circles 
of European fashion. A necklace has in all 
nations been the most elementary article of 
female attire ; a woman paints her face and 
tattoos her body long before she arrives at the 
faintest rudiment of a petticoat. I need not 
remind my readers, — I mean you, my dears, 
and Annesle}^ — of the part a necklace played 
in the tremendous drama of the French Eevo- 
lution, and there are numerous episodes in 

that sani>-uinary trai^'edv " 

"But we can't dine on a sanguinary 
tragedy, papa," said Sibyl ; for, having 
started himself upon a congenial topic, her 
father had laid down his knife and fork, and 



104 THE KEPEOACH OF ANN£SLEY. 

with folded Lands was placidly contemplating 
tlie joint rapidly cooling before liim. 

" True, my dear, very true, I had forgotten 
the dinner," he replied, with his accustomed 
meekness, while hastening to carve the joint ; 
"the female mind — but perhaps, Annesley, 
the female mind mav not interest vou. At 
all events you can read my notes upon the 
subject later, and you may be able to furnish 
me with the results of your own experience in 
that branch of study." 

In spite of his pedantry, Mr. Eickman was 
in Annesley's dazzled eyes a charming and 
interesting old man, with his stores of out- 
of-the-way knowledge and his simplicity 
concernino' the thinirs of everv-dav life. 
Mrs. Eickman seemed the most loveable old 
lady, as she truly was, and Sib}'l the 
wittiest and prettiest of sprightly maidens : 
the simple food before him might have 
been a banquet, the Arden home-brewed ale 
was a drink for o-ods. It is difficult for 
cold blood to realize the enchantment that 
fell upon him, the kind of enchantment 



81'lUNa rLOWEKS. 105 

that makes everything around one charming, 
oneself included. 

He could not tear himself away. After 
dinner his host, finding him so good a listener, 
took him to his stud}- and showed him his 
treasures — coins, gems and antiquities ; but 
when these were exhausted, he lingered still 
as if spell-bound, apparently listening to the 
notes of a piano sounding through the house. 
Some instinct told him that Alice's hand was 
evoking the solemn harmony. 

She continued to play when he entered the 
drawing-room whither his host led him, look- 
ing up to ask if they " minded the music.*' 
He took a seat by Sibyl, his eyes following 
the slender finders which drew the living 
music from the passive keys, and his mind full 
of unspeakable thoughts. Then she sang the 
beautiful song — 

. " TeJl me, my licait, why morning's prime 
Looks like the fading eve," — 

which is like the lon^-drawn siofh of an execs- 
sive happiness, and he listened in ever-growing- 
delight. Sibyl looked at him once during the 



lOG THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

music and a strange feeling came over lier ; 
his face was like that of a St. George she had 
seen pictured somewhere, so rapt and earnest. 
Then, at Mrs. Eickman's request, Sibyl 
sang, to Alice's accompaniment, the follow- 
ing song : — 

" Once have I seen and shall love her for ever ; 
For the soul that glanced from her eyes to mine 
Is lovely and sweet as its delicate shrine ; 
But once have I seen and must love her for ever, 
All my heart to her resign ; 
Though never for me her eyes ma}" shine, 
Though never perchance may I divine 
How 'tis when lives together twine, 
Since once I have seen I must love her for ever." 

Still he lingered, though the afternoon, 
which crrew more balmy and beautiful towards 
its close, was wearing away, and one of the 
girls opened the window wide to let in the 
sunny air, and he knew that he ought to go. 

"And is Ea3^sh Squire alive?" he asked, 
seeking some excuse for lingering. " I should 
like to see the old fellow a£>'ain." 

" You may hear liim at the present moment, 



SPKIXG FLOWERS. 107 

ringing your poor cousin's knell," said Sib}^, 
callin£f his attention to tlie tollini^ from the 
steeple near, \Yliicli had not ceased since he 
approached the village, though it had been 
but faintly heard through the closed windows, 
and Mr. Eickman suo-o-ested that the ladies 
should take their guest to .the belfry and 
reintroduce him, a proposition Edward eagerly 
seconded. 

Even while they spoke, Eaysli Squire came 
to the end of his monotonous and melancholy 
office in the chill belfry, and went out into 
the afternoon sunshine, stretching his stiffened 
arms and vawnino'. As he did so, he saw a 
figure in shirt-sleeves by a barrow on the 
other side of the churchyard wall in the 
vicarage grounds, stretching his arms and 
yawning with equal intensit}^, and since 
nothing fosters friendship like a community 
of interests and occupation, this sympathetic 
sight moved him to drag his slow steps across 
the mounded turf to that quarter, and, resting 
his arms on the wall, to look over it, just as 
the lii^ure in shirt-sleeves, which was that of a 



108 THE REPEOACII OF ANNESLEY. 

young and stalwart man, executed a final 
yawn of surpassing excellence, and, seating 
himself on the barrow, began to fill a short 
pipe. 

" Warm," said the sexton, a long, wir}^ 
bonj^ figure, with a fleshless face, black hair, 
and whiskers touched with grey. 

" Warmish," replied the gardener slowly, 
without raising his eyes from the turf on 
which he was c^azino- while he kindled the 
pipe he held in the hollow of his hands. 

Then the sexton, turning round towards his 
cottage, which stood at the churchyard gate, 
beckoned to his grandchild to bring him the 
mug she held in her hand, which contained 
his " four o'clock," a modest potation of small 
beer. 

"Buryen' of mankind. Josh Baker," said 
the sexton, after applying himself to this 
refreshing cup, and thus concealing his 
features for some moments, " is a dryen 
traade." 

" A}^" returned the gardener, after slowly 
and solemnl}' surveying the sexton's withered 



SPRING FLOWERS. 109 

features for some time, "you looks dried, 
Ea3^sli Squire." Then lie withdrew his 
gaze and puffed with long, slow puffs at 
his pipe, bending forwards, his arms resting 
on his legs, which were stretched out 
apart before him, and his hands clasped 
together. 

" Buryen' of mankind," continued Eaysli, 
after a thoughtful pause, during which he 
sought fresh inspiration from the " four 
o'clock," " is a ongrateful traade. Yur 
why ? Yolk never thanks anybod}' fur 
putting of 'em underground." 

Josh pushed his felt hat back on his yellow 
curls, and apparently made a strong effort to 
take in this strikingly new idea for a moment 
or two, after which he replied, " I never 
yeard o' nobodv returnino^ thanks vur the 
buryen', not as I knows on, I haint." 

" N"o, Josh Baker, and I war'nt 3'ou never 
will, wuld boans as vou med make. A on- 
grateful traade is buryen', a ongrateful 
traade." 

" I hreckon you've put a tid}- lot under- 



110 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

ground, Master Squire," said the gardener, 
after a pause. 

" Hreckon, I liev, Josh," returned the 
sexton, with a slow lateral extension of the 
lines in his withered face, resembling; a 
smile. " Hreckon I've putt more under- 
ground than you ever drawed out on't, aye, 
or ever wull. I've putt a power o' quality 
underground, let alone the common zart. 
Wuld passon, I buried he, and the Lard 
knows where I be to putt this here one, the 
ground's that vull. Eln Gale, she's a gwine 
up under tree, there. I showed her the 
plaace ; ' And I'll do ee up comfortable, Eln,' 
I zays. ' Thankee kindly, Master Squire,' 
zes she ; ' you alias stood my vriend,' 
she zes. ' Ay, and I allays ool, Eln,' zays 
I, 'and I'll do ee up proper and com- 
fortable, and won't putt nobody along zide 
of ee this twenty year to come.' ' Thankee 
kindly, Master Squire,' she zes, ' 'tis pleasant 
and heartsome up under tree where the 
pimroses blows, and j'Ou allays stood my 
vriend.' There ain't a many like Eln. A 



SPEING FLOWERS. Ill 

ongrateful traiide is biiryen' and a dryin' 
traiide." 

" You ain't ben' burying of this yer Capen 
Annesley, Eaysh," objected the gardener after 
some thought. " How be um to bury he, if 
so be as he's 3^et by a elephant ? " 

" Hreckon the}' '11 liae to bury the elephant, 
Josh Baker, if so be they haes Christian 
buryen in the}^ outlandish plaiices o' the 
yearth. I've been a hrino^en' of 'en out vur 
dree martial hours, and I've a done what 
I could vor 'n, I caint do no more. I 
hringed 's grandfather out, and 's brothers, 
hringed 'em out mezelf, and terble dry 
work 'twas. Ay, I've pretty nigh hringed 
'em all out. Annesleys is come to their last 
end." 

He illustrated this melancholy assertion by 
a final application to the " four o'clock," 
havino' brous^ht which to its last end, he 
handed the mug to the little wide-eyed grand- 
child, who trotted off with it. 

" This yere doctor o' ourn's a Annesley ; 
there's he left," objected the gardener. 



112 THE EEPEOACII OF AKNESLEY. 

" There's Annesleys, and there's Anneslevs, 
Josh Baker. Zame as wi' apples, there's Eib- 
stone Pippins and tliere's Codlhigs. They 
Medington Annesleys is a common zart," said 
the sexton, his voice conveying severe rebuke 
for the gardener's ignorance, mingled with 
compassion for his youth. "Ay, Josh Baker, 
this yere's a knowledgeable world, terble 
knowledgeable world 'tis to be zure." 

The o'ardener was too much crushed bv 
this combination of axiom and illustration 
to make any reply, beyond hazarding the 
observation, " Codlings biles well," which 
was frowned down, so he continued to 
smoke steadily, with his eyes fixed on 
three daisies before him, while the scent 
of his tobacco, which was a doubtful 
odour, mingled with the scent of the mown 
grass in his barrow with most agreeable 
results. 

The sexton meanwhile leant upon the 
mossed stone wall, enjoying the double plea- 
sure of successful controversy within and 
the warmth of the March sunbeams with- 



SPRING FLOWERS. ll.i 

out, and listened with vague delight to the 
rich llute-uotes of a blackbird near, till 
the click of the churchyard wicket made 
him turn his head in that direction and 
walk slowly thither, while the gardener 
still more slowly rose and wheeled his 
barrow with its fra^'rant burden to its 
destination. 

"Afternoon," growled Eaysh, pulling his 
hair slightly as he approached the ladies 
from the Manor, and looking at them as 
much as to say, '* What do you want 
now ? " 

"You may as well look pleasant if 3'ou 
can, Eaysh," said Sibyl ; " we have only 
brought you an old friend." 

" You don't remember me, Master Squire, I 
daresay," said Annesley. " I was here as a 
boy with Mr. Gervase Eickman and my 
cousin, Paul Annesle3\" 

" I minds ye well enough," replied Eaysh. 
" Master Eddard you be, and a terble 
bad buoy you was to be zure. You and 
t'others, between \e. iirettv niuh ^allied 

VOL. I. 8 



lU THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

me to death. Not as I bears no malice, 
bless 'ee. Buoys is made a purpose to 
tarment mankind, zame as malleysliags * and 
vla3^s, and buoys they'll be till kingdom come, 
I hreckon." 

"I fear we did lead you a life of it. I 
seem to remember o-ettino- into the tower 
and ringing the bells at some unholy hour." 

" D'ye mind how I whacked ye yor't ? " 
replied the old man, brightening at the recol- 
lection. " You minds. Miss Sibyl ; you zeen 
me laying the stick athirt the shoulders of 
en' and you zinged out to me to let en off, 
and I let en off. I'd gin en a pretty penneth 
avore you come," he added, with satislac- 
tion. 

"And I had forgotten this seryice. Miss 
Eickman," said Annesley, lauo'hino-. " Per- 
haps some day I ma}^ repay the debt, though 
not in kind. Can we o'et into the church, 
Eaysh ? " 

" You med o'et into church if you'd sfot 
ar a kay," replied the old man ; '• but if you 
* Caterpillars. 



SPEING FLOWERS. 115 

aint got ar a kay you'll liae to wait till I 
vetches one vor 'ee." 

'* He gets more arbitrary every day of liis 
life," explained Sibyl laughing ; " and we 
spoil him more and more." 

Alice stopped at the churchyard gate to 
see the sexton's ailing wife, and this circum- 
stance caused Annesley to hurry through the 
church with only half an interest in the 
tombs of his ancestors who were buried 
there, and the humours of his old friend 
Eaysh, whose " chrisom '' name was Horatio, 
he told him. He had runo- out Georo-e the 
Third, his two sons, and rung in the latter 
and Queen Victoria, he informed them, evi- 
dently thinking that neither of those sove- 
reigns could have quitted this mortal scene 
without his aid. 

" Eyalty," he observed, " takes a power 
o' hringen, and well wuth it they be. I don't 
hold with these yer publicans, Mr. Annesley, 
as wants to do away wi' Queen Victoria. 
They med zo well let she alone, a lone lorn 
ooman what have rared nine children. Wants 

8* 



]]6 HIE REPROACH OF A]S]N'ESLEY. 

to make everytliink so vlat as the back o' my 
hand, they publicans doos. Ah, 3'ou med 
take my word vor't, when 3'ou begins zetting 
down what the Lard have made hi^j'h, you 
never knows where 't will end. They begin 
wi' clerks. Thirty- vour 3'ear I stood under 
passun, and eddicated the volk with Amens, 
and giv out the Psalms what was zung to dree 
viddles, a clarinet and a bugle, as you med 
mind when a buoy. And now they've a zet 
me down long wi the la^^ volk, as though I 
wasn't nar a bit better than they. Ay, that's 
how they began, zure enough, and the Lard 
only knows where they med end. We caint 
all on us be Queens, and we caint all on us be 
clerks, as stands to rayson. Zo those yer 
Eadical chaps they ups and zes, ' we wun't 
hae no clerks, nor no Queens, nor no no- 
think,' zes they. Ay, that's how t'es, zure 
enough." 

Annesley replied that, being himself a plain 
man, whose business it was to serve the 
Queen, he was no politician, and, having 
sealed this assertion by tlie pressure of a 



SPRING FLOWERS. 117 

crown-piece into Eaysli's flesliless palm, came 
out of the cliujcli, thus leavinu' a <^oo(l im- 
l^ression upon the old sexton, who remained 
behind to tidy up the belfiy before finally 
loclvino- the doors. 



CHAPTEE AT[. 

THORNS. 

It would have been better if Edward Annes- 
ley liad resisted tlie spell which kept him 
chained to the spot that afternoon ; but he 
did not. He lingered outside the sexton's 
cottage, waiting for Alice, and talking to 
Sibyl of the days when they were children. 

"We were such extremely tiresome 
children," Sibyl said, " that I can't help 
hoping that we have a chance of growing 
into at least averao-e Christians." 

Then it was that some demon inspired him 
with the notion of forwardino- Paul's suit bv 
proxy, and he replied that one of them, 
namely Paul, had matured into something far 
beyond the human average, and that all he 
wanted to bring him to absolute perfection 



TIIOHXi?. 119 

was a ^oocl wife. When lie said this he 
looked straight into Sib3d's bright eyes, but 
without evoking the embarrassment he ex- 
pected. 

Then he blundered further into some ob- 
servations upon the wisdom of marr3dng a 
friend known from childhood, and said finally 
that he thought such a friendship the best 
feeling to marry upon. 

" Do 3'ou think so ? " she returned wist- 
fully, and with the self-forgetfulness which lent 
such a charm to all she said ; " I can't help 
thinking that /should like a little love." 

" A little," he echoed, looking with warm 
admiration at the bright face still so uncon- 
scious of itself ; " oh ! Miss Eickman, it is not 
a little, but a great deal of love that such a 
face as vours commands ! " — He broke off, 
feeling that he had blundered seriously. 
Sibyl bent over a honey plant encrusted with 
pink-scented blossom, about which the bees 
from Eaysh Squire's hives were humming — an 
old-fashioned cottage plant, the scent of which 
ever after stirred unspeakable feelings within 



120 TEE EEPROACH OF A^'NESLEy. 

her — for a moment, and then, quickly regain- 
ing her composure, replied, " What rubbish 
we are talking ! we want Gervase to put us 
down with one of his little cynical speeches." 

" Has Gervase grown into a cynic ? " he 
asked, wonderins^ how o-reat an ass he had 
made of himself, and greath^ relieved when, 
the long recital of Grandmother Squire's 
woes being -at last ended, Alice came out 
from the honey suckled porch. 

" Grandmother Squire is in the loveliest 
frame of mind to-day, Sibyl," she said. 
" ' Sure enough, Miss Lingard,' she told me, 
' we be bound to putt up with Providence, 
hreumatics and all. Not but what I've a had 
mercies. There was the twins took off, and 
what we yarned in the chollery.' " 

"Poor old soul!" commented Sybil, as they 
turned away from the cottage, " her rheu- 
matism does try her. She said only yester- 
day, ' Eaysli is bad enough, and I've a put up 
with him this vour and vorty year. But 
Eaysh ain't nothing to rheumatics, bless un! ' 
Oh I " Svbil's s'av voice suddenly 



THOIJKS. 121 

cliano'ed to a sliriek of terror — " He will be 
killed ! " she cried, and flew down the lane to 
the high-road, preceded by Annesley, who 
leapt the gate she was obliged to open, while 
Alice ran to call Eaj^sli. 

At Sibyl's cry, and the grating sound of an 
overturned vehicle drai?2fed over the gravel, 
the others turned their faces to the high-road, 
where they saw a half-shattered dog-cart, 
jolted along by a powerful iron-grey horse, 
which was hiclsino- a<?ainst the ruin at his 
heels and maddening himself afresh at every 
kick. At the horse's head, and holding him 
with a grasp of iron, was Gervase Eickman, 
hatless and in imminent peril in his backward 
course, but making his weight tell fully 
against the plunging horse, whose progress he 
occasionally arrested altogether for a moment. 

He had evidently been struggling for some 
time with the frightened animal ; his face was 
pale with fatigue, and his hair damp with 
sweat. At some distance further up the road 
lay the unfortunate groom, who had been 
thrown out bv the overturn of the vehicle, 



122 THE REPEOACIT OF ANNESLEY. 

and who occasionally got up and tried to 
walk, and then, throwing up his hands in 
agon}^, fell again, hurt in the leg ; while 
Gervase struggled pluckily on, now and then 
calling for help. Some women came out 
into the cottage-gardens and shouted the first 
male name that occurred to them. Joshua 
Baker came pounding heavily oyer the 
vicarage lawn, with widespread arms and an 
action like that of a runawa}" cart-horse. 
Raysh issued from the churchyard with a 
lengthened but certainly not hurried stride, 
and arrived in time to bestow his benediction 
on the cutting of the last strap. Annesley 
reached the spot first, Sybil and Josh were a 
good second, and in a few minutes the first 
comers had cut away the wreck and set the 
frioiitened horse free, Gervase still clinoino- 
gallantly to the beast's head, in spite of his 
indignation with Sybil, who tried to help the 
men, and certainly kept the wreck from 
falling upon instead of away from the horse, 
until the creature, released from the clatter- 
ing' encumbrance at his heels, aTaduallv 



THORNS. 123 

quieted down, snorting and quivering less and 
less. 

By that time the owner of the equipage 
came running up from a house beyond the 
village, where he had been visiting a patient, 
while the unlucky groom having dozed off in 
the afternoon stillness, had been taken by 
surprise when some pigeons flew suddenly up 
under the horse's nose and started him off. 
Before the frio'htened lad could g;et the reins 
properly in hand, the headlong course was 
terminated by a cannon against the bank at 
the corner, and he was pitched out. 

In a very few minutes the wreck was 
cleared from the road, the runaway led off, 
the injured lad taken into the "Golden 
Horse," and attended to by his master, for 
whom a four-wheel had been got ready, and 
the Manor party moved off slowly home- 
wards. 

Annesley forgot his prejudice against the 
" squint-eyed fellow " of the previous day ; 
he could not have renewed his acquaintance 
with Eickman, whom he had last seen a lad in 



124 THE KEPROACir OF ANNESLEY. 

his teens, under better circumstances. His 
heart warmed towards the sturdy figure he 
had seen putting out all his strength against 
the great horse, with eyes glowing with 
courage and determination and ever}' nerve 
instinct with vis^our and ofallantrv. 

"Well, Annesley," Gervase said, with a 
careless laugh, when they had reached the 
house, " perhaps you ought to know that 
you have been playing the Good Samaritan 
to Paul's most deadly foe. You may have 
heard of some of the misdoino\s of Davis. 
'No ? Then joii will before long." 

"I thought I knew the man," Annesley 
replied. " What ! not the son of old Dr. 
Davis, he looks too old ? Why does Paul 
dislike him ? He seemed a good fellow." 

" That old look is the head and front of 
his offending. He gets all Paul's patients by 
it. It is hard upon Annesle}', who has twice 
his brains and education. He studied at^ 
Paris, as 3^ou know, after walking the London 
hospitals, while Davis scrambled througli his 
course as best he could, and took a second- 



THORNS. 125 

rate Scotch deijfree. Yet Davis succeeds ; lie 
so thorouglily looks the family doctor, and 

was an a^ed man in his teens. Paul is rich 
in legends of the atrocities committed by 
Davis through ignorance and stupidity." 

Annesley replied that Paul's youthful looks 
did not seem a sufficient set-off ai2;ainst skill 
and science ; but Eickman explained that 
other things were against Paul. " You may 
have noticed," he added, " that he has an 
unlucky habit of speaking the truth ; he has 
never mastered the truism that lano'uaG;e is 
oiven us to conceal our thouoiits." 

Edward had observed his cousin's bad 
habit, but did not see how it could affect his 
success. 

" My dear Annesley," returned Eickman, 
" have you not yet observed men and dis- 
covered the fatuity of the truth-speaker ? 
Anirnals have no language because the}' have 
nothing to conceal ; they can communicate 
facts to each other without speech. But 
men, that is civilized men, only exist by 
means of concealments ; if the savage virtue 



126 THE KEPIiOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

of truth prevailed, society would revert to 
chaos. I^ow, for instance, Paul is called to 
a man who is killing himself by drinking 
spirits ; the patient complains of his miseries, 
and asks what is the matter with him. ' Gin 
is the matter with you,' replies Paul, ' and if 
you don't leave it off you will be a dead man 
before long.' Whereupon Paul is sent off and 
Davis called in. Davis looks grave and 
sympathetic ; he talks about complications 
and obscure s^miptoms, and gives the com- 
plaint a Greek name a j^ard long. ' In the 
meantime,' he says, ' alcoholic stimulants, even 
in the most moderate degree, may prove 
fatal.' Davis has studied the use of speech, 
Annesleyhas not." 

"I like Paul's wa}' best," Sibyl observed. 

"You are a young savage," replied her 
brother. 

" Still, I do not see why Paul should be at 
odds with Davis," persisted Edward. 

"Well! you are a refreshing 3'oung 
party!" thought Gervase. " Amiesle v is 
jealous," he added aloud — "all the Mowbravs 



THORNS. 127 

are. I should like you to observe casually, 
when you get home, that you met a delight- 
ful fellow named Davis, and helped pick 
up his fragments. You will then hear some- 
thing; not to the doctor's advantage." 

"Language is used by some people to 
conceal their thoughts," commented An- 
nesley. "I suppose, Mrs. Eickman, that you 
take that grain of salt with 3^our son's 
statements/' 

" Always when he indulges his cynical 
vein," she replied. "But seriously, Mr. 
Annesley, the name of Davis acts on your 
cousin — yes, and on Mrs. Annesley — like a 
red rag on a bull, and people who are inti- 
mate with the Annesleys don't visit the Davis 
set, and the Davis set don't mix with the 
Annesley set. The medical profession is a 
jealous one." 

" Eaysh Squire," Edward replied, " says 
that jealousy dislodged him from the reading 
desk. Eaysh is as great a politician as ever — 
doesn't look a day older than he did years 
ago." 



128 THE KEPKOACH OF AN>'ESLEY. 

" The old rascal wears well," Gervase added. 
" He says it is brain that keeps him sweet. 
Nobod}^ can ' get upsides with ' him. Eaysh 
is the onl}" man I ever heard talk sense upon 
politics." 

" Why, Gervase, he is a rank Tory," cried 
Sibyl, " and you are a Liberal ! How can 
you agree with him ? " 

" Innocent child ! Who said that I agreed 
with him ? I onl}^ said he talked sense in 
politics, which I take care never to do, 
because people would never listen to me if I 
did." 

"Eeally, Gervase," said Alice, "I cannot 
understand 3'Our politics. With us you 
always talk like a Conservative, and yet 
whenever you write or speak in public you 
express the most extreme Liberal opinions." 

" Party government," replied Gervase 
slowly, " is a useful machine, but it has its 
drawbacks. One is that it obliges men to 
adopt a certain formula of clap-trap and 
stick to it." 

" Just so," said Anneslev, rising' to take his 



THORNS. 129 

leave. " If you want to keep your hands 
clean, you must leave politics alone." 

"I don't believe it," cried Alice warmly. 
" I cannot believe that honour and honesty 
are not necessary in the government of a 
great nation. Men are so weak before evil, 
so ready to bow down before the mean and 
base. If they had but the courage to stand 
up before Wrong and say, ' We will not bow 
down to it, we do not believe in this god ; 
Eio^ht is stroncfer than Wroni?,' what a 
different world it would be ! " 

" It would indeed," replied the young men 
simultaneously, but each with different mean- 
ing, and Gervase explained that he was not 
speaking of ideal politics but of party 
government — a very different matter. Then 
Edward took his way homeward, musing upon 
the sudden fire in Alice, and stirred by her 
words, though he seemed to listen to Gervase, 
who walked part of the way with him. 

Paul Annesley did not appear until dinner 
was served ; he had been in at the finish of 
the best run of the season, and on his return 
VOL. I. 9 



130 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

liad to make another journey. He was fagged 
and half-stupid, in poor condition to entertain 
the small dinner-party before him, which was 
to be augmented later on by a contingent of 
young people to tea. 

" For Heaven's sake, Xed," he managed to 
whisper to his cousin, " entertain all these 
solemnities for me ! I am dead-beat, and as 
stupid as an owl." An order that Edward 
received and carried out literally. 

For a full hour after dinner the wearied 
doctor could do nothing' but vawn, until in 
desperation he went out of the room and got 
himself some strong coffee, while his cousin 
took his place. 

Medington parties were not very brilliant, 
as a rule ; the same set of people transplanted 
from house to house, and o^oing; throus^h 
exactly the same rites and ceremonies at 
each, produced rather a monotonous effect 
upon one another ; a stranger, and especially 
a stranger of the sex which is so sadly in the 
minority in country towns, was a welcome 
addition to these meetings. 



THORNS. 131 

Paul was called out again just after liis 
dose of coffee, and when lie returned and 
entered the room unnoticed, to find people 
amusintr themselves to an unusual decree, 
himself a nonentity in his own house, and his 
cousin quite at home in his place, a queer 
feeling came over him. He sat silent and 
gloomy in a remote corner, mentally recalling 
all Edward's past misdeeds, and disparagingly 
criticizing his present demeanour. 

His old offences of being taller, stronger, 
in better circumstances, and in a profession 
that he had himself most regretfully re- 
nounced from a sense of duty, revived, 
though perhaps Paul was not aware of it. 
All he consciously thought was that Edward 
was not the good fellow he had been ; his 
manner was not quite up to the mark ; there 
was a certain coxcombry about him that he 
really was sorrj^ to observe, and so on. 

During these gloomy reflections, his cousin 
observed to him in passing his chair, just as 
someone was about to play on the piano, 
" How well Miss Eickman sings ! " 

9* 



133 THE KEPROACH OF ANNESLET. 

" How on earth do you know liow she 
sings ? " growled Paul. 

" I spent the afternoon at Arden," was the 
disquieting reply, which set Paul pondering 
as to how he got there, and, above all, why 
he went. 

Then he heard his mother request his 
cousin to do some little service that should 
have fallen to himself, and again began 
mentally depreciating him, until he looked 
up by chance and caught the reflection of his 
haggard, scowling face in a mirror, and 
started with a shamed sense of his own 
paltriness wdiich made him gloomier than 
ever. 

" I cannot imagine what I should have 
done without you to-night, Edward," Mrs. 
Annesley said when the people were gone, 
" Paul was utterly fagged and stupid. Another 
time it would be better for you to leave the 
room altogether, Paul." 

" Pine young man, that cousin of yours," 
said an elderly gentleman whom Paul was 
helping into his coat in the hall ; " glad to 



THORNS. 133 

see liim, wlienever he likes to look in." Was 
it possible that these trumpery things could 
add to the acerbity of Paul's feelings ? He 
would have scouted the idea. 

Overcome with sleep as he was, he would 
not go to bed until he had had a few words 
with his cousin, whom he took to his room to 
smoke. 

" I think," he began, after a few fierce puffs 
at his pipe, " that you might have waited 
for me before callinfy on the Eickmans. As 
I told 3^ou, I had arranged my work on 
purpose to have a spare morning to-morrow, 
and meant to drive you over to luncheon." 

He was only half mollified when Edward 
recounted his misadventures with the chestnut, 
and his accidental meeting with the Eickmans 
at their door. 

" You military fellows never suffer from 
want of assurance," he grumbled ; " you 
seem to have made yourself pretty well at 
home at the Manor." 

" It was not due to personal merit ; I was 
received as your cousin," he replied. " I say. 



13t THE KEPROACH OF a:SNESLEY. 

Paul, I congratulate you on your choice. I 
am glad you forewarned me ; such a charm- 
ing girl, and so clever as well as pretty ! " 

Paul's eyes flashed ; he could scarcely bear 
even to hear her admired by another, and the 
word " pretty " seemed so inadequate to ex- 
press the lofty charm that made a sort of 
paradise about Alice. 

" And do you suppose," he replied in his 
haughtiest manner, " that my choice would 
be less than the very highest ? No mere 
prettiness would attract me. I ma}^ never 
win her, I may never even have the right to 
speak to her. But I shall never decline upon 
a meaner choice." 

" Oh ! you will win her, never fear," replied 
Edward, on whom this arrogant tone jarred. 
" But why not drive over all the same to- 
morrow? It would only be civil to thank 
Mr. Eickman for stabling the unluck}^ chest- 
nut." 

"It would be more military than civil," 
returned Paul with asperity. " If you begin 
an acquaintance by coming two days follow- 



THORNS. 135 

ing to luiicli, how on eartli 3'ou are to carry 
it on, Heaven only knows ! " 

It must have been the iced pudding, 
Edward thought ; something has disagreed 
with him. 

"You did not tell me," he added aloud, 
after lono- and silent reflection on the face he 

o 

had seen in the sunny oriel among the flowers 
that morning, " how Miss Lingard came to 
form one of the Arden famil3\ Has she been 
with them long ? " 

" When Sibyl was about thirteen they ad- 
vertised for a girl of the same age to educate 
with her. Then Miss Linofard's o^uardians 
placed her there. She has no ties of her 
own, and having become attached to them, 
and they to her, she now considers Arden her 
settled home." 

" They all appear fond of her, even 
Gervase," returned Edward. " She treats him 
quite as a brother " 

"Did that strike j^ou ? " interrupted Paul. 

"Oh! yes, she scolded him just as my sis- 
ters do me. And she picked up his hat and 



136 THE EEPHOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

dusted it in the most matter-of-fact way, and 
he took it without a word of thanks. How 
pluckily he stood up to the kicking horse ! 
1 hke Eickman. I hke them all," he added, 
warmly. " Such genial people, so clever, and 
yet so homely in their ways. I like homely 
wa3^s. I like the dear old house. It seemed 
all sunshine and music and flowers." 

Paul's dark face flushed, and his eyes 
flashed so that the whites were visible. 

"Now I know," he thought, "where he 
got those confounded violets." 

For, going to seek his cousin in his room 
just before dinner, the scent of flowers at- 
tracted him, and he saw a bunch of double 
grey violets in water on a table. He knew his 
habits well, and buying flowers was not among 
them ; so he laughed and came to his own 
conclusions. " Some girl gave him those 
violets, I'll wager ; and the fellow will be 
sentimental for about half an hour over 
them." 

But, now he knew that Edward had been to 
Arden, where in a warm nook beneath the 



THORNS. 137 

soutli oriel those double violets grew, a 
spasm clutched' at his heart. 

" And so they gave you violets ? " he said, 
tranquil!}' . 

" Violets ? What violets ? " asked the 
other, with an unsuccessful effort to appear 
indifferent. 

" Those in your room. They scent the 
house. Love and a fire cannot be hid, nei- 
ther can violets." 

" They were given me by the ladies of 
Arden," Edward explained, with an embar- 
rassed and almost apologetic air. 

" Eeally ? " replied Paul, in dulcet tones. 
Then he rose and walked to the closet which 
contained the skeleton, and opening the door, 
shook his fist at the grinning skull within, 
uttering in a low tone the sole word "Dam- 
nation ! " Then he returned to the fireside 
muph refreshed, and quite unnoticed by his 
cousin, whose slight natural powers of obser- 
vation were now totally obscured by the cir- 
cumstance of his liavino' fallen head-over-ears 
in love. 



138 THE REPROACH OF A^^NESLEY. 

The cousins did not go to Arden next day, 
but on the following day the Eickmans dined 
with the Annesleys, and all, excepting Ger- 
vase, arrived early in the afternoon, making 
the house, according to their custom, their 
headquarters while carrjdng on an extensive 
shopping campaign. 

Perhaps it was odd that Edward Annesley, 
who was ostensibly playing billiards at the 
club opposite the Berlin-wool shop, should, 
after lono' reconnoitrins^ at the window, be- 
think him that Mrs. Annesley had lamented 
having come to the end of her knitting- 
cotton, and straightway sally forth and enter 
the fancy-work shop, where he appeared as 
much surprised to find the Arden ladies as 
they were to see him. 

" I want — ah ! — some cotton — to knit 
with," he explained in answer to the shop- 
woman, when Sibyl told him that she -had 
thought knittino' as a means to kill time was 
confined to the lower ranks of the army, and 
was not aJBTected by officers. 

" Officers," he replied with solemnity, 



TJIORN.S. 139 

are always deliglitecl to be useful — when 
they can." 

"A capital proviso," replied Sibyl. "I 
should have thous^ht beins^ ornamental ex- 
hausted their energies." 

" Do not heed that mad girl," said Alice, 
smiling indulgently ; " she is out for a 
holiday." 

But he heard a great many more teasing 
remarks that afternoon from Sibyl, whose 
grace and daint}- manner carried her safely 
througfh much that in others mie^ht have 
seemed pert, and the end of it was that Paul, 
who came in to tea on purpose to meet the 
Arden ladies, was scandalized to see the two 
younger walking leisurely up the street, ac- 
companied by his cousin, laden with books 
from the library . 

Mrs. Annesley laughed when she heard of 
her nephew's civility in buying cotton for 
her ; but Paul looked very grim, and 
watched him closely all the evening. 

Edward sang to Sibyl's accompaniment, 
and turned her leaves for her when she sang, 



140 THE REPKOACH OE ANNESLEY. 

and then lie sat by her side and talked ; 
while Alice played to Gervase's violin, 
and the elders, including the watchful Paul, 
played whist. 

No word or movement on Alice's part 
escaped Edward's notice ; but something^ 
which was partly the chivalry of deep feeling, 
and partly the perverse fate which besets 
lovers, made him careful to conceal his 
interest in her, and appear more occupied 
with Sibyl whom he cordially liked. Thus 
Paul was put on a wrong scent, and was 
more genial to him that night than ever. 

" Sibyl is undoubtedly the attraction," 
he thought. 



PART II. 



CHAPTER I. 



APPLE-BLOSSOMS. 



A FEW weeks after Edward Annesley left 
Medino[ton, wliicli lie did without a^^ain 
meeting the Manor family, Paul unexpectedly 
arrived at tlie garrison town in which his 
cousin was quartered, and spent some days 
with him, in a dejected frame of mind. 
Before returninoj to Medino-ton, he reminded 
Edward of his promise given on his first 
evening at Medington, to the effect that he 
would not spoil his chance of success at 
Arden Manor, which the latter renewed, 
laughing at his cousin's seriousness. Paul 
then spoke of his wishes with regard to Alice 
Lingard, whose name he did not mention, 
and of the pecuniar}' difficulties which pre- 
vented him from asking her to marry him. 



144 THE EEPPtOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

But lie did not say that lie was actually in 
debt, having lost heavily through running 
Diana in a steeplechase, nor did he say 
that he was in the habit of associating with 
men of ample means, notably the Highland 
officers to whom Captain Mcllvray had intro- 
duced him, and sharing in amusements that 
he could not afford. 

" Don't you think," Edward said, " that 
your mother would furnish funds for the 
marriao^e ? She must know that marriao'e is 
an advantage to a doctor, and she is very 
fond of 3^011." 

" She is the best of mothers ; but she would 
never see that we could not all live under 
one roof. And I would never subject any 
girl to that. The fact is," he broke out after 
a gloomy pause, " my life is wretched. But 
when I think of her " — here his face chaiio-ed 
and his eyes kindled, — ■" it is all different : 
there is something' to live for. It is madden- 
ing that I dare not speak yet. Heaven only 
knows when I shall be in a position to do so, 
and in the meantime there she is in her voutli 



APPLE-BLOSSOMS. H5 

and beauty exposed to tlie attentions of every 
cliance comer. And it cannot go on for 
ever. I hate every man wlio goes to that 
house ; I feel that unless I am quick, the 
fated man must come at last. I tell you, Ned, 
it is the torture of hell." 

His cousin advised him to end his suspense 
at once. " You stand upon a fanciful 
punctilio, Paul," he said, " and for that 3^ou 
ma}^ spoil her life as well as your own. 
Speak to her and ask her to wait for you. 
You have a profession and a fair start in it, 
not to speak of the Gledes worth contingency, 
and hope will give you courage to win your 
wa}'. If she loves you, she will be glad to 
wait ; and if she does not, why the sooner 
you know it the sooner vou will o'et over it 
and form other ties." 

" Get over it ! " cried Paul, looking up. 
" A man does not get over such a passion as 
this. Certainly not a man of my paste. 
Why only to see her is heaven, and to be 
without her, hell. The ^lowbrays never do 
anything by halves." 

VOL. L 10 



U6 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

" Then do not do this by halves," returned 
Edward cheerily. " Lay siege to her affec- 
tions at once, and make up your mind to win 
her. And if you had not a penny in the 
world, is it a lio^ht thim? to offer a heart like 
yours ? I hear men talk of women, and I 
hear them speak of their sweethearts and 
wives, but I never hear men speak as you do. 
I believe, Paul, that a deep and serious 
passion is a very rare gift from Heaven. 
And I believe there is nothing like it in the 
whole world. Nothim? so lifts a man from 
earth and reveals Heaven to him, nothing so 
makes him hate and despise his meaner self, 
nothing " 

" By Jove ! " interrupted Paul, with a genial 
laugh, " the vounofster has iiot the complaint 
himself! " 

Edward replied that he might take a worse 
malady, and reiterated his advice with regard 
to decisive measures, and they parted, Edward 
marvelling at Paul's dejection and discontent. 

He did not know how deeply Paul had 
yearned for a military life, and what it had 



APPLE-BLOSSOMS. 147 

cost him to obey his mother's wishes in re- 
nouncing it, nor did he know why Paul had 
taken that little holiday and fled to Ports- 
mouth. It was because the demon had once 
more entered into Mrs. Annesley. 

" What a sweet woman dear Mrs. Annesley 
is ! " the curate's wife was saying at the 
Dorcas meeting on the very afternoon of 
Paul's flight. " I wonder what keeps her 
away from us to-day ? " 

She little dreamt that it was the devil 
himself. 

It was now mid-April, and at last there 
was respite from the bitter sting of the east 
wind ; every day seemed more lovely than 
its fellow; in warm still -nights, from the 
copses by the brook, the passionate music 
of nightingales arose, breaking the deep 
charmed silence and echoincr throu^-h the 
dreams of sleepers in Arden Manor. Xo 
one there ever referred to their chance 
visitor of the early spring except Ellen Gale, 
who, when Alice paid her accustomed visils, 

10* 



118 THE EEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

would sometimes allude to the voice they 
had heard singing past the window. " And 
you were right, miss ; you said it was a gentle- 
man's voice," she often repeated. 

" Yes, Ellen, and the voice of a good man," 
Alice would reply. " There is so much in a 
voice." 

" Yes, miss ; yours quiets me down my 
worst days." 

Alice and Sibyl were in the music-room on 
one of these golden afternoons, surrounded 
by books, easels, and other evidences of their 
daily emplo3anents. Sibyl's cat was coiled 
on the. wide, cushioned window-seat beneath 
the open lattice, through which a flood of 
sunshine poured ; the deer-hound lay stretched 
on a bearskin beneath it, sleeping with one 
eye, and with the other lazilj- watching his 
mistress, who sat listlessly at the piano, im- 
provising in minor kej^s. 

The melancholy of spring was upon Alice, 
that strange compound of unspeakable feel- 
ings : the strenuous life of the natural world, 
its beauty and its melody, stirred depths in 



APPLE-BLOSSOMS. 1-19 

her heart that she was too young to under- 
stand ; when some bird-note came with un- 
expected passion upon the silence, she felt as 
if her heart were being torn asunder and the 
old orphaned feeling of her childhood rushed 
back upon her. The simple interests of her 
quiet life now failed her, former occupations 
grew stale, there was a hardness and want 
of she knew not what in the brilliant sun- 
shine and cloudless sky. She wondered if 
after all it were true that life, to all but the 
very young, is a grey and joyless thing. 
Hitherto the future had seemed so full of 
dim splendour, so pregnant with bright pos- 
sibility, all of which had unaccountably 
faded. 

As she sat at the instrument playing dreamy 
music, she mused upon that day of transient 
spring, set like a pearl in a long row of chill 
sujlen days, when she sat busied with her 
flowers in the oriel and the door opened and 
Edward Annesley appeared. What a bright 
Avorld it was into which he stepped ! How 
lonu it seemed since then ! He had vanished 



150 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

out of their life as quickly as he had entered 
it ; no one ever mentioned him now. Perhaps 
he would never come again. 

The thought struck chill to Alice's heart, 
the colour faded from her face, while the 
music died away beneath her nerveless 
fingers. 

After a brief pause she began to play 
again, and sang with Sibyl the following duet : 

"The Coming." 

" The daisies fell a tremble, 

Their tips with crimson glowed, 
When they hastened to assemble 
In troops to line his road; 

" The daisies fall a tremble 
And bow beneath his feet, 
As they would fain dissemble 
Their joy his eyes to meet ; 

" The roses hang to listen 

From the briar across the way, 
"Where the morning dews still glisten, 
For the first words he shall say ; 



APPLE-ELOSSOMS. l.-,l 

" And the little breezes, bringing 

Song and scent and feathered seed, 
Are glad to waft his singing 
Across the sunny mead. 

" He cannot heed the daisies, 
The roses or the breeze ; 
He is here — among the mazes 
Of the orchard's friendly trees." 

They sang tlie first four verses to an even- 
flowing melody in a major key, but the last to 
a more powerful measure, accompanied by 
minor chords which resolved themselves into 
exultant major harmonies to burden the 
phrase "he is here," which was taken up 
alternately by the two voices and repeated by 
them in different musical intervals in the 
manner of a fugue, so that the words " he is 
here " flew hither and thither, and chased 
each other above the harmony in a rapture 
tlij^t seemed as if it would never end, until 
the last lines rounded off the song in a joyous 
melody with major harmonies. 

Scarcely had they made a silence, through 
which the song of a blackbird pulsed delici- 



152 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

ously from the orchard hard by, when thev 
were startled by the sound of a man's voice 
crying, " Thank you," from beneath the 
window. 

Hubert started up with pricked ears, and 
the two girls went to the open lattice and 
looked out. Just beneath the w^indow on the 
broad turf walk was a o-arden-seat lio'htlv 
shaded by a tall apple-tree, leafless to-day, 
but ethereally beautiful with crimson buds 
and delicate open blossoms of shell-like grace, 
which outlined the boughs in purest red and 
white on the pale blue sky. Sitting there 
was Mrs. Eickman, and standing by her side, 
looking upwards with a spray of the blossoms 
just touching his crisp-curled hair, was 
Edward Annesley. 

Alice flushed brightly ; Sibyl turned pale. 

Hubert stood beside his mistress, almost as 
tall as she, with his paws on the window-sill, 
and wagged his tail with a whine of joyous 
recognition ; then, in his language, he courte- 
ously requested the ladies to descend and 
welcome the new-comer. 



APPLE-BLOSSOMS. 153 

" We were half afraid to speak," the latter 
said from below. " Do, please, go on singing." 

But the singers were effectually silenced, 
and presently came into the garden, and 
chairs were fetched and a circle formed be- 
neath the glancing shadows of the apple-tree. 

" Mr. Annesle}^ has walked seven miles to 
see us," Mrs. Eickman said ; " we must make 
him welcome." 

"You are w^elcome, Mr. Annesley," Alice 
replied, with her exquisite smile and tranquil 
voice. 

" Oh ! yes ; we are glad to see you," added 
Sibyl in her light treble ; " it is not every day 
that people trouble themselves to walk seven 
miles to see us." 

Then Edward said that he would not have 
accepted his invitation to stay with his 
friends, had they not lived within a walk of 
Arden, and as soon as he had said it, he knew 
that he had gone too far, and every one 
except Mrs. Eickman, who had a happy 
knack of seeing; nothino- that was not delight- 
ful, saw it too. 



154 THE EEPROACH OF AX^-ESLEY. 

" Then," asked this innocent lady, " why 
not spend a few days with us ? " This was 
exactly what he longed to do, but he was too 
confounded by his bare-faced hint to reply at 
first. " What a clown she must think me ! " 
was his inward reflection. 

Then Mr. Eickman came out with the half- 
waked air with which he usually regarded the 
outer world, and having with difficult}- de- 
tached his mind to some extent from the 
consideration of a human bone, that was 
probably pre-Adamite, and fixed it on his 
guest, added his hospitable entreaties to 
those of Mrs. Eickman. Pinally it was de- 
cided that Annesle}- should take up his 
quarters there and then at the Manor, send- 
ing a messenger, with explanations, for his 
portmanteau. 

Alice looked down on Hubert, whose grace- 
ful head lay on her knee, during this discus- 
sion ; but Edward watched her face and 
thought he saw a pleased look steal over it 
when the decision was finally reached, and 
just then she looked up and met his earnest 



APPLE-BLOSSOMS. 155 

gaze, and all the beauty of the spring rushed 
into these two young hearts. 

In the meantime Paul Annesley, who had 
now recovered from the temporary despond- 
ency which drove him away from home, was 
enjoying that lovely April afternoon with the 
intensity that he was wont to throw into 
everything, and was at that ver}^ moment 
driving along the dusty high-road as fast as 
the Admiral could trot, in the direction of 
Arden. A set of archery materials had 
arrived at the Manor, and he had received 
instructions to come over as soon as he could 
find time, to help the ladies learn shooting ; 
not that he waited for invitations to that 
house, but a valid excuse for wasting an hour 
there was extremely pleasant. He drove into 
the stable yard on reaching the Manor, and, 
hearing that the family were all in the 
garden, took his way thither without cere- 
mony, and when he issued from the dark yew 
walk which opened into the lowest terrace 
saw a tableau which struck him dumb. 

At the top of the long and broad turf 



156 THE REPEOACH OF AN^'ESLEY. 

walk was a target ; down against tlie house 
stood Alice in the act of drawing a bow ; her 
hands were being placed in the right position 
by Edward, whom he had every reason to sup- 
pose miles away. Sibyl, leaning upon a bow 
at some distance, was looking on, and teas- 
ing Alice for her want of skill. Mr. and Mrs. 
Eickman were watching the scene from 
beneath the apple-tree, and Hubert, sitting 
very straight on his tail, was gazing intently 
before him, evidently turning over in his mind 
whether he ought to permit so great a liberty 
to be taken with his mistress. Alice drew 
her bow, the arrow flew singing towards the 
target, the extreme edge of which it just 
grazed. Edward uttered a word of applause, 
which Sibyl joyously echoed ; nobody heard 
Paul's quick footfall upon the turf walk, 
except Hubert, who rose and thrust his 
muzzle into his hand, so that he stood for 
some moments silently watching the pro- 
gress of the shootino^ with a deadlv con- 
viction that he was not wanted there. 
Perhaps Edward looked a little guilty when 



APPLE-BLOSSOMS. 157 

lie saw his cousin, and took some quite 
needless trouble to explain how he came to 
be there, but perhaps it was only Paul's 
fancy. 

" You have been before me, Ned," he said, 
after he had been duly welcomed, and in 
reply to these laboured explanations ; "I 
came to start the shooting. You appear 
to be a past master in the craft." 

" Oh ! yes. We have a good deal of 
archery. I believe 3^ou are a good shot. 
Xow we can have a reo^ular match." 

But Paul's pleasure in the pastime was 
gone, he scarcely knew why. He had a 
great mind to go away and say he was 
ens^ac^ed, but on reflecting' that this ven- 
geance would fall onl}- on himself, thought 
better of it and remained, apparently in the 
happiest mood. 



CHAPTER n. 



ARCHEKY. 



"And what do 'em call tliis yere sport?" 
asked Ra3^sli Squire, who was helping the 
gaiTlener in an extra spell of work at a little 
distance from the archers, and, having now 
finished setting in a row of young plants 
along a taut string, was pausing to contem- 
plate his work with an admiring eye. 
" Zimple it looks ; mis'able zimple." 

" Archardry, they calls it," replied Jabez, 
finishing his own line of plants, and unbending 
his body slowly till he reached his normal 
height ; " calls it archardr}^, along o' doing it 
nigh a archard. Poor sport, I 'lows ; give 
me skittles or quoits." 

" ' Tis poor sport, Jabez," returned Eaysh, 
impressively, " vur the likes of we. But 



ARCHERY. 159 

I lireckoii it 's c^ood enouG^li vur ijentrv. 
Mis'able dull they be, poor things, to be zure. 
My wuld ooinan, she zes to me, ' Lard, how 
I pities they poor gentlefolk, Eaysh,' she zes ; 
' vorced to zet wi' clane hands from morninsr 
to nio'ht athout zo much as a bit of vittles to 
hread}',' she zes. Terble hard putt to they 
be to beat out the time athout silino' their 
hands. Archardry's good enough vur they, 
Jabez Youno^. But ijive me a s^aame of 
bowls and a mug of harvest ale." And Ea^^sh 
majestically bent his long body till he reached 
his line of string, which he pulled up and 
posted further on, when he dibbled a second 
row of holes along its course, Jabez, a stout 
fellow in the prime of life, looking on ad- 
mirinoiv till Eavsh was half-way down his 
row, when it occurred to him to pull up his 
own line and post it afresh. 

" I dunno," Jabez observed, when he had 
planted half this line, " but what Td as zoon 
hae notlien to do mezelf." 

" Ah, vou dunno what's ^ood vor 'ee," re- 
turned Eaysh, with tolerant contempt ; " you 



160 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

ain't never ben tried that way, Jabez ; your 
calling is entirely gineral. So zoon as you 
putts zummat into ground, zummat comes 
out on't, and you never zets down, zo to zay. 
Now bmyen 's entirelj" different." 

" You med zay zo, Eaysli Squire," said 
Jabez ; " what you putts into ground bides a 
powerful long time there, I 'lows." 

" I 'lows it do, Jabez, when putt in in a 
eddicated V7^j. I've a-knowed they as turns 
over coffins what ain't more than a score o' 
years old. Bur yen of mankind, Jabez Young, 
is a responsive traade ; ' taint everybod}^, mind, 
what's equal to it. You med take your oath 
of that. You minds when the Queen zent vor 
me to Belminster about that there bigamy 
job, when Sally White vound out Jim had 
had two missuses aready ? Passun and me 
sweared we married 'em reo'ular. Pretty 
nigh drove me crazy, that did. There they 
kept me two martial days athout zo much as 
a bell to pull or a churcli to clane. Two 
martial days I bid about they there streets till 
I prett}^ nigh gaped my jaws out 'o jint. I'd 



ARCIIERr. 161 

a give vive shilu it' I could a brought my 
church and churchyard along wi' me, or had 
ar' a babby to christen, or so much as a hrow 
of taties to dii^. ' Missus,' I sez to the ooman 
what kept the house we bid in, ' wullee let 
me chop a bit o' vire-ood vor ee ? I be that 
dull,' I zes. ' Iss, that I ool ! ' she zes. ' And 
the moor you chops the batter you'll plaze 
me,' she zes, and she lafTed, I 'lows that 
ooman did laff. Zimmed as though I'd a lost 
mezelf . ' Where's Eaysh Squire ? ' I zimmed 
to zay inzide o' mezelf all day long. But zo 
zoon as I heft that ar chopper, I zimmed to 
come rio'ht ai?en. * I minds who I bs now,' 
zes I. ' I be Eaysh Squire, clerk and zexton 
o' Arden perish, aye, that I be,' and dedn't I 
chop that ar ooman's ood ! " 

"I never ben to Belminster ; mis'able big 
plailce, bent it ? " 

" Bii^ enouirh, but ter'ble dull ; nothen to 
zee but shops and churches over and over 
agen. Jim White, he took me along to zee 
the plaiice. We went and gaped at the 
cathedral ; powerful big he was — I 'lows 
VOL. I. 11 



162 THE REPPcOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

you'd stare if you zeen lie. Jim, lie shown 
me a girt vield wi' trees in it outside of 'en, 
and girt houses pretty nigh so big as the 
Manor yender all liround. 'This here's the 
Close,' he zes. ' But where be the beastes ? ' 
zes I. ' Beastes ? ' a zes, ' Goo on wi' ye, ye 
girt zote," a zes ; ' there baint no beastes in 
this yer Close. 'Tis passuns they keeps here, 
taint beastes!' Zure enouodi, there was 
passuns gwine in and out o' they liousen, and 
a girt high wall all hround to pen 'em in. 
Ay, they keeps 'em there avore they makes 
em into bishops," he explained, with a magni- 
ficent air of wisdom, fully justified in this 
instance by his ecclesiastical profession, as 
Jabez reflected while slowly digesting this 
piece of information. 

The old-fashioned garden lay on a slope, 
the vegetable portion being only separated 
from the flower-borders on either side the 
broad turf walks which intersected it, by 
espaher fruit-trees, now studded with the 
crimson silk balls of the apple, or veiled with 
the fragrant snow of the pear, so that the 



ARCHERY. IG3 

arcliery party on the turf were well seen by 
tlie labourers on the soil, and vice versa. 
Jabez went on planting another row in 
meditative silence, until an unusually wild 
shot from Sibyl sent an arrow over the flower- 
border through some lines of springing peas, 
into a potato-bed, when he stopped and called 
out in loud reproof. 

*' You med so wellhae the pegs in if you be 
gwine on like that there," he growled, when 
he had found the arrow and broufjht it back ; 
" the haulm's entirely broke. Miss Sibyl, that 
'tes." 

"Xever mind, Jabez," she replied sooth- 
ingly, " it is the first time ; " and she added 
something about wire-netting. 

" Yust time ! " he o-rumbled, returnino- to 
his cabbao'es. "A onbelieven younov vasf o-ot ! 

O JO CO 

I never zee such a mayde vur mischief. Miss 
Alice, she never doos like that." 

" Aj, Jabez Young, Miss Alice is a vine- 
growed mayde and well-mannered as ever I 
zee," returned Eaysh, " but she's powerful 
hiiih. She doos well enouo-h Zundavs and 

11* 



164 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

high-days when there's sickness or death, but 
I 'lows she's most too high vur work-a-da}'s. 
Give me tother one work-a-days." 

" Ay, Eaysh, you was always zet on 
she." 

"IwarntI was. I warnt I be terble zet 
on that ar mayde, I be. I minds her no 
bigger than six penneth o' hapence, a jumping 
into a grave alongside o' dear wuld Eaysh, a 
hiding from her governess ; well I minds she. 
I couldn't never abide buoys, but that ar 
mayde, I was terble zet on she. I warnt I 
was. She caint do nothen atliout Eaysh, 'tes 
Eaysh here and Eaysh there. She's growed 
up mis'able j^retty. All the young chaps is 
drawed after she, 'tother one's too hio-h vor 
em. She aint vur work-a-davs, Miss Ahce 
aint. She tliiids:s a powerful dale of me, too, 
do Miss Alice, she always hev a looked up to 
me, zame as Miss Sib}^ there. Xever plays 
nothen on the organ, atliout Hikes. It's 'How- 
do that goo, Eaysh ? ' or ' Baint that slow 
enough, Eaysh ? ' Ay, they thinks a power- 
ful lot of me, thev mavdes." 



ARCHERY. 1^5 

*' Miss Alice is the prettier spoke," said 
Jabez. " All ! there goos that young vaggot 
again ! Hright athirt my beiins ! Take em 
all liround, I 'lows you won't find two better- 
mannered young ladies than ourn in all the 
countr}' zide." 

"Iwarnt you wunt, Jabez Young, or two 
what shows more 'respect to they as knows 
better than theirselves. I never wouldn't hae 
no zaace from em when they was little. A 
power o' thought I've a giv' to they maydes' 
manners, to be zure, a power of thought. 
Mr. Gervase, too, as onbelievin a buoy as 
ever I zee, and that voreright he couldn't 
hardly hold hisself together, and a well- 
spoken young vellow he's growed up. Our 
Mr. Horace w^ont be nothen to he. Passun 
he spared the hrod and I 'lows he've a spiled 
the child, as is liwrote in the Bible." And he 
bent over the fra^'rant earth a^^ain with a 
slow smile of complacency extending the 
wrinkles of his face laterally, unconsciously 
cheered as he worked by the merry call of 
a cuckoo, the melody of the song-birds, the 



166 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

voices of the arcliers and the frequent and 
musical laugh of Sibyl. 

" There never was such a mayde for 
laughen ! " Eaysh observed of his favourite, 
" that open-hearted ! " 

Alice laughed more rarely, though she, 
too, could laugh musically. It is odd that 
onlv women and children lauirh gracefuUv : 
grown men, if they venture beyond a restrained 
chuckle, bluster out into an absurd crowing 
falsetto or a deep blatant haw-haw, infectious, 
mirth - provoking, but utterly undignified. 
Gervase Eickman knew this, and since the loss 
of his boy-voice had not laughed aloud, except 
at public meetings, when he produced an 
ironical laugh of practised excellence, which 
was calculated to discomfit the most brazen- 
nerved speaker. When he came home that 
evening and heard his sister's prettv laugh 
wafted across the sunny flowery garden, amid 
the music of the blackbirds and the cooinof 
of the far-ofF doves, somethino; in it — it mav 
have been the certaintv that it was too iovous 
to last, it may have been the tragic pro- 



ARCHERY. 167 

piiiquity of deep joy to sorrow — touched his 
heart with vague pain. For Sibyl was the 
darhng of his heart ; he was proud of her 
beauty and talents, and cherished for her 
schemes and visions which he was too wise to 
give voice to. 

He too was dismayed at the unexpected 
apparition of the 3'ounger Annesley, but he 
did not realize the full horror of the situation, 
since he naturallv concluded that he had 
come in Paul's train, and would leave with 
him before lono-. 

He declined to shoot, with the remark that 
lookers-on see most of the game, and sat 
beneath the apple-tree with his father, on 
whom the pleasantness of the scene and the 
unusual beauty of the day had prevailed over 
the charms of the pre- Adamite bone for an 
hour or two, and his mother, who had fallen 
completely into the womanly groove of en- 
joying life at second-hand. 

Though they looked upon the same scene, 
the son and the parents saw each a different 
picture*. It was a pleasant scene in its way. 



108 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

The old-fashioned garden, with its bands of 
deep velvet turf, its fairy troops of tall nar- 
cissus drawn up in the borders, their slender 
green lances firmly poised, their shining 
flower-faces turned as if in sympathy with 
their youth and beauty to the young people 
near them ; with the evenino- sunbeams touch- 
ing the living snow of pear and cherry blos- 
som on the net-work of fruit-trees with a gflow 
as ethereal as that which departing day 
kindles on Alpine summits ; and with the 
stern grey ridge of the downs outlined against 
the sky in the background. The square 
massive tower catching the warm sunlight on 
the rioiit, and the dark hrs, darker bv contrast 
with the bright sky, on the left, made a pretty 
setting for the group of archers on the green 
beneath the crimson apple-bloom. Such was 
the actual picture, but Heaven only knows 
what Gervase saw besides. 

Nor could any one guess what visions, 
hopes, ambitions and restless schemes passed 
throuirh his busy brain as he strolled about 
with a tranquil, thoughtful air. Xor did 



ARCHERY. IGO 

any one suspect the less vehement ambition, 
though not less vehement passion, concealed 
by the smile upon Paul's scarred face, and 
flashing fitfull}' in his dark-blue eyes, the 
occasional spasms of anguish that tore him 
and the struo-o-le that rao-ed within him, or 
the deep feeling that gave Edward's features 
a more spiritual beaut}-, or the vestal flame 
of unconscious passion that burnt on the 
altars of the two o-irls' hearts. 

Alice had forgotten her recent melanchol}^ 
and when she remembered it later, thought it 
only natural that the arrival of an unex- 
pected guest and the interest of the archery 
should disperse the temporary cloud and 
put her in unusual spirits, while Sibyl, who 
was more introspective and who some- 
times rebelled ao-ainst the monotonv of 
their simple life, was conscious of a tranquil 
expectancy that cast a glamour over every- 
thing and gave the very apple-blossoms a 
new beauty. 

The few words which passed between 
Edward and Paul Annesley that evening were 



170 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

of such a nature that the former came to the 
conckision that somethin^i>: must have dis- 
agreed with the doctor. T3ut indis^estion is 
not the direst scourge of humanity. Jealousy 
is far more painfuL 

Not that the unfortunate youui? man yielded 
to it. His better nature revolted against it. 
He reflected on Edward's promise and on his 
admiration of Sibyl, and succeeded for a time 
in stifling^ the flame of this uncomfortable 
passion, when a trivial incident made the 
smouldering fire blaze up with redoubled 
fury. y 

Alice, wearing some narcissus in her dress, 
was bending to pick up her glove, when she 
dropped a flower without perceiving it. 
Edward, who was just behind her, stooped as 
she passed on, and, with a rapid dexterity 
which must have baffled anv but the Aro'us 
eyes of jealousy, caught up the flower and 
hid it in his coat, occupied apparently all the 
time in stringing a bow. 

Only Paul saw the flower episode ; he saw 
and felt and turned pale, a symptom of mental 



ARCHERY. 171 

pertvirbation which did not escape Gervase 
Eickmaii, who pondered upon it. 

Gnawed as he was by these jealous feel- 
ing's, Paul could not tear himself from the 
scene which constantly renewed his sufferings, 
but lino'ered till the twilioiit, when it was 
still so warm that Gervase's violin was 
brouodit out and part-sono-s were sunix, till a 
nio'litinofale beofan its 2folden o-urode hard by 
and charmed them all into silence. 

Perhaps it was something in Sibyl's face, 
upturned with a rapt look towards the ruddy 
mass of apple-bloom, as she listened to the 
splendid song, which enlightened her brother, 
and so wrought upon him that he drew his 
bow fiercely across the string's of the violin, 
and, using a minor key, played with such 
pathos that it seemed as if he were touching 
the sensitive chords of his own heart and thus 
wrought upon those of his listeners. , He 
knew now why Sibyl was so deeply interested 
in militarv thinirs and had of late made such 
martial poems, why she had enquired specially 
into the functions of artillerv and the de^ri'ce 



172 THE EEPROACH OF AN>'ESLEY. 

of peril to which artillery officers are exposed 
■when in action, and he saw through the 
innocent artifice which assigned reasons for 
this sudden interest and made her avoid the 
most casual reference to one particular 
artillery soldier. Then he thought of 
Edward's evident admiration for Sib}^, and 
the attentions he had paid her, and resolved 
that Edward should marry her, a consumma- 
tion that, as he thought, his strong will and 
subtle brain could certainly bring about. 
There was nothing on earth so dear to him as 
Sibyl's happiness, he imagined, scarcely even 
his own ; and his melodies otcw wilder and 
more heart-piercing, as he thought these 
things. 

" I never remember such weather for 
April," Sibyl said later, feeling vagueh' that 
a day so exceptional could not be repeated. 

" There has been no such April since you 
W'Cre born," her father replied. "- Too good 
to last." 

Yet it lasted through the three idvllic davs 
that Edward Annesley spent at Arden. 



CHAPTER III. 

SUNSET OX ARDEX DOWX. 

Footsteps were so rare on the lonely road 
wliicli led past the " Traveller's Eest," that it 
was scarcely possible for any to pass unheard 
by at least one of the inmates of that solitary 
dwelling. 

Ellen Gale had listened for them as a 
break in life's monotony when in health and 
actively employed, and now, in the long, 
solitary silences of her fading life, the}' had 
become the leadinu' events of dav and nic^ht, 
and much practice had taught her to dis- 
criniinate with such nicety that she could tell 
from their peculiar ring on the hard road 
whether they were those of youth or age, man 
or woman, gentle or simple. Sometimes on a 
SundaA' afternoon there would be a double 



174 THE IlEPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

footfall, liglit, yet lingering, and slie knew 
that sweethearts were passing, and wondered 
what the end of their wooino- mii?ht be. And 
then at times some memory stabbed her to 
the heart, and she turned her face to the 
wall. 

" Quanti dolci pensier, quanto disio 
Meno costoro " 

cried Dante, his pit}^ mingled with something 
akin to env}^, when he met the lovers of 
Eimini, united for ever in the terrible tem- 
pestuous hell, whither so many sweet 
thouoiits had brouoiit them. 

Sitting at the window one bright April 
evening, Ellen heard the heavy, dragging 
steps of a labouring man whose youth was 
worn out of him, and she knew bv their rino- 
that they were those of Daniel Pink, the 
shepherd. 

" You goo on, Eln," cried her father, 
scepticall}^, when she told him who was 
coming^, " you caint tell by the sound." 

" I warnt she can," corrected Mam Gale, 
Jacob's mother, who was moving about before 



SUNSET ON ARDEN DOWN. 175 

the lieartli-fire, busy with ironing, " terble 
keen of hearing she be, to be zure." 

Ellen smiled with innocent triumph when 
she perceived the weather-beaten form of the 
shepherd turn in at the wicket, and clank 
with a heavy angular gait over the large flints 
with which the court was pitched, followed 
bv his shao'o'Y dof?. 

" Ay, here ee be, zurely, Jacob," said Mam 
Gale, looking up from her ironing with a slow 
smile. " Come on in, Dan'l," she added, 
raising her voice to a shrill pitch. " How be 

ye?" 

"Evening," said the shepherd, stumbling 
heavily over the flagged floor of the kitchen, 
and dropping himself on.^to a settle by the 
fire, while Jacob Gale, briefly acknowledging 
his entrance by a sullen nod, and a " Warm 
'sev'nen," kept his seat on the opposite side of 
the fire, and smoked on. 

" How d'ye zim, Eln ? " asked the shepherd, 
after some minutes' silence, during which the 
click of Mam Gale's iron and the sonL>' of the 
kettle on the hre were heard. 



176 THE EEPEOACII OF A^NESLEY. 

Ellen replied cheerfully that she was better, 
and hoped to get out in a day or two ; and 
iAie looked A^earningly out of the window, 
where she could see the blue sky and some 
martins, who were busy building a nest in the 
thatched eave above with much happy twitter- 
ings and fuss. 

o 

" Tlie}^ be alla3's like that in a decline,when 
they be took for death," said Mam Gale, 
lugubriously, " poor things, towards the end 
they perks up. The many I've zeen goo, 
shepherd." 

" When be ye o-wine to 'Stravlia, Eeub ? '' 
asked the shepherd. 

"iN'ot avore Ellen's took,'' he replied. 

"And he baint agwine then, Dan'l," added 
Mam Gale, suspending her ironing. "What 
call have he to 2:00 vlyino' in the vaiice o' 
Providence, when's time's come vor'n to goo P 
Downrioht wicked I calls it." 

" Zims as tliou"ii you med zo well liae a 
chance to live, Eeub," suggested the shepherd, 
taking the tankard Eeuben had brought him, 
and applying his bearded face to it ; after 



SL'NSET ON ARDKN DOWN. 177 

wliicli lie paused, smacking his lips and pon- 
dering deeply upon the llavour of the draught. 

" I med so well live," repeated Eeuben 
wistfully. 

" Eveiythink's upside down out there," said 
Mam Gale, contemptuously ; " the minister 
lie zes to me, ee zes, volks walks along head 
downwards over there, ee zes." 

" And that's what Willum Black zes, zure 
enough," echoed Jacob, solemnh^, " 's brother 
went out 'Straylia ; ee zes as how the zun 
hrises evenino-s when volks wants to £?o to 
bed, and goes down agen mornings when 'tis 
time to get up, out there." 

"Zo they zes," added Mam Gale, dubiously. 
" Yolk zays there's winter bright in the middle 
o' summer there." 

" How do the earn grow if they gets winter 
weather in zummer-time ? " asked the shep- 
herd,, after profound meditation. 

Eeuben supposed that it grew in the winter, 

and silent meditation followed, broken only 

by Mam Gale's reiterated assertions to the 

accompaniment of the clicking iron that " volk 

VOL. I. 12 



178 THE REPROACH OE ANNESLEY. 

med zo well be buried comfortable in Arden 
cliurcli lytten, as goo about head downwards 
out there." 

" A-ah ! " i^rowled Jacob, before leaving the 
room to receive an approaching customer, " I 
don't hold wi' these yer new-fang^led notions. 
Volk used to die natural deaths right zide 
uppermost in my young days." 

Then the shepherd, seizing an opportunity 
for which he had long been waitino- and 
diviniTf deep into the recesses of his orarments 
for somethino' which he extracted with diffi- 
culty, produced two large ripe oranges. 

" My missus zeen em in Medington, and 
she minded ye," he said apologetically, 
lookins" with a beamino- face at the orano-es, 
which from long propinquity to it were 
almost as warm as the Q^ood fellow's heart ; 
" 'taint only dreppence, she zaid, and Ellen 
Gale med so well liae em when she can get 
em." 

" It was very kind," replied Ellen ; and the 
shepherd sank into a pleased silence, and 
gazed steadily at the pretty fading girl, and 



SU^'SET ON ARDEN DOWN. 179 

at the oranijes on the window-sill before her 
beside the bnnch of wall - flowers and 
polyanthus he had silently placed there on 
his entrance. 

"Mis'ble zet on vlowers, my missus is," he 
continued. " ' Let the vlowers bide longside 
of the taaties,' she zes, ' vlowers don't ate 
nothinor.' Taaties is vlower enoucfh vur me." 

" Flowers don't do here," Ellen said, " it is 
too keen. The doctor says it's too keen for 
me, but healthy for sound chestes." 

" Some thinks Dr. Annesley aint wold 
enough for his work," the shepherd said ; 
"Davis is the man for they." 

" If he aint wold enougli aready, he never 
will be, Dan'l Pink," retorted Mam Gale with 
decision. " He've a helped dree on us off. I 
don't hold with new-vanoied thino's. Give 
me a dactor what hev zeen all our volks off 
comfortable." 

"Davis hev buried a tidy lot," ur^-ed the 
shepherd. " Come to that, he and his vather 
avore un have helped so many under ground 
as Annesley and his vather put together." 

12* 



180 TEE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

" You med talk, Dan'l Pink," retorted ^lam 
Gale, tossing her ironed linen aside with scorn, 
" but you wunt vind a cleverer dacter than 
ourn in a week o' Zundays. 'S vather, wold 
Annesley, was cleverer drunk than any of 
t'others sober." 

"You may say that, mother," added Jacob, 
returning ; " you minds Vvdien he come in one 
wet day and drinked a pint of best spirits 
straight off. Zes to me, when he went 
away, he zes, 'Don't you never marry a 
'ooman with a tongue, Jacob Gale, or you 
med want to wet yourn with summat stronger 
than water.' Didn't zim no drunker than 
Dan'l there, that a didn't." 

"I never yeard the wold chap drinked 
avore," said Daniel meditatively. 

" It wasn't knowed not to zay in a general 
way," added Jacob, " 'wold chap knowed how 
to carr 's liquor and a didn't drink reg'lar. 
Married the wrong ooman, that's where 
'twas.", 

" She was a vast too good vor 'n," added 
Mam Gale ; " her familv was hioii and her 



SUNSET ON ARDEN DOWN. 181 

ways was high, and he knowed he wasn't the 
biggest man in 's own house. That's the way 
with men. They cain't abide to be zecond 
best indoors, whatever they med be out- 
doors." 

" Zure enough, a ooman didn't ought to be 
better than a man, 't aint natural hke," com- 
mented Jacob. "It's agen the Bible ; vur 
why? Eve yet the apple, and Adam he 
thought he med so well jine in." 

"Let he alone vur that when ee zeen 'twas 
hripe un," commented Mam Gale with severity. 

The shepherd was so struck by Jacob's 
observation, that he remained silently gazing 
at the window, throug^h which the oiories of 
an April sunset could be seen diffused over 
the wide reach of sky, for full five minutes, 
while his rough-coated dog, who had followed 
him in and lain tranquilly dozing at his feet, 
roused bv a thouoiitful look on his master's 
face, sat up and watched him, hoping for a 
signal to move. 

While the shepherd gazed thus, he observed 
a change in Ellen's face, which was thus before 



182 THE EEPEOACH OF AK^'ESLEY. 

him — a change like that in the sky when the 
red flush of sunset spread across it a moment 
before, a brightening of hue and a sublima- 
tion of expression which filled him with a^Ye. 
" She's a thinkinf>- of kimrdom come, where 
she's bound before long," he reflected. 

But it was a more tangible o-ladness, though 
it partook of the deepest charm of that un- 
discovered land, the joy in what is higher and 
dearer than self, which thus transfio'ured 
Ellen's pretty hectic face ; it was the sight 
of two figures whose outlines were traced 
upon the pink-flushed sk}^, two 3'oung figures 
followed by a hound ; they talked as they 
went, their faces lighted with the chamrincr 
rose-tints of the tranquil evening. 

" Miss Lino'ard ! so late ! " exclaimed Ellen. 

" And youno' Mr. Anneslev 'lomr with her," 
commented Eeuben, risino- and looking out. 

"I hreckon she've vound somebody to keep 
company with at last," added Mam Gale, 
comprehending the situation at a glance. 
" Personable she be and pleasant spoke as 
ever I known. But t'other one hevs all the 



SUNSET ON ARDEN DOWN. 183 

sweethearts. Meiivolk never knows what's 
what." 

Little did AUce imagine the construction 
that wouki be put upon this innocent evening 
strolL Eeuben's disinchnation, or rather that 
of his friends, to the emigration scheme Paul 
and Alice had arranged together, had been 
discussed in family conclave that day, and 
Edward had a£>'ain brouoiit forward his 
suggestion that Eeuben, if still sound, 
should enlist in an India -bound regiment 
and thus get the benefit of a few warm 
winters. Alice had just started to broach 
the subject that evening, when Sibyl sud- 
denly' suo'o'ested that Edward had better 
follow her, and thus explain clearly what he 
intended. 

" A capital idea,'"' added innocent Mrs. 
Eickman. " You will soon overtake her if 
vou XLiake haste." 

He did not wait for a second bidding, and 
Alice had not crossed the lirst field before 
Edward was bv her side. 

He was to leave Arden next mornino-, and 



381 THE REPROACH OF A>'NESLEY. 

the consciousness of this brouo'ht somethini^ 
into his manner that he would not otherwise 
have suffered. He spoke of his prospects, 
the earhest date at which he hoped to be 
promoted, and the chances of remunerative 
employment open to him, and Alice listened 
with a courteous attention, beneath which he 
hoped rather than saw something warmer. 
He referred to the Swiss tour projected by 
tlie Eickmans for the autumn, and to his 
own intention, favoured by Mrs. Eickman, of 
making the same tour at the same time, and 
they both agreed that, to make the excursion 
perfect, Paul, whose mother was to be of the 
party, should manage to be with them. 

Nothing more of a personal nature was 
said, but they each felt that this evening walk 
made a change in their lives, putting a barrier 
between all the days which went before and 
all that were to follow after. They strolled 
slowly along in the delicious air, pausing to 
see the purple hills dark against the translucent 
western sky, the colouring of which spread 
upwards, first gold, then primrose and pale 



SU^'SE^ ON ARDEN' down. 185 

green edged with violet, to clearest blue, just 
flecked bv little floatinir clouds like cars of liold 
and pearl ; pausing to look eastward across 
the plain to the line of grey-blue sea, and to 
listen to some deeper burst of melody from 
the woods and sk}- ; pausing, above all, at 
the chalk quarry, a mysterious, melancholy 
place, haunted by legends and traditions. 
Standing, as they did, on the high-road 
leading past the wide entrance to it, they 
saw a broad level of white chalk, broken 
here and there by a milky pool, a small 
tiled hut and dark shadow-like spots upon 
which a slow accretion of mould had en- 
courao'ed a faint oTeen o'rowth, half moss, 
half grass, and surrounded b}" an almost 
semicircular wall of grey chalk cliff with a 
narrow dark outline of turf, drawn with 
sharp accuracy between it and the sky. This 
cold pale cliff was shaded and veined here 
and there, where no quarrying had been 
recently done, by such beginnings of vegeta- 
tion as clouded the ground, and was broken 
further by one or two black spots, which 



186 THE EEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

were caves. Some ravens flew croaking from 
their holes in the clifT-face with a grim eflect, 
which the swallows darting about in the 
sunshine and the larks singing above could 
not wholly neutralize. 

Perhaps it was the sense of contrast be- 
tween themselves and this desolate scene that 
made them linger in fascinated silence before 
it, and while they lingered, the light changed, 
the sinking sunbeams filled the sky with 
molten gold, and the rampart of cliff turned 
from ghastly gre}^ to warm 3'ellow ; then it 
glowed deep orange, and at last it blushed 
purest rose. 

" I shall never forget this," Edward said, 
when the}^ turned and he saw the face of 
Alice suffused with rose-lioiit against the rose- 
red cliffs. 

A few more steps took them to the inn on 
the crest of the hill. The shepherd rose and 
left at their approach, and the new-comers 
entered the kitchen, which seemed dark after 
the brightness outside. Mam Gale's wrinkled 
bronzed face, surrounded by a white-frilled 



SUNSET ON ARDEN DOWN. 187 

cap tied under her cliiii, beamed with wel- 
come ; her purple-veined, labour-darkened 
hands and arms, which were always visible 
below the small plaid shawl pinned tightly 
over her bowed shoulders, ceased to ply the 
iron, and she came forward to hand chairs to 
the visitors. The dull glow from the hearth 
emphasized rather than dispersed the gloom 
of the low smoke-browned kitchen, so that 
it was scarcely possible to see even the 
shining crockery on the black oak dresser, 
the two o'reat china doo's and brass candle- 
sticks on the high chimney-piece and the 
gaily-coloured prints on the walls, and the 
e3'e turned with relief to the small window, 
where the fading; lioiit came throuoii the tinv 
leaded panes and centred itself on the face of 
Ellen, turned towards the sky as if awaiting 
benediction, while the men's faces were in 
shadow. Alice Avent to the windoAV and 
kissed Ellen's too brightly tinted face, her 
own looking more healthy by contrast, and 
the sight of the two young women, illumined 
by the last fading rays of light, touched 



188 THE KEPJROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

Edward and made a picture that long after- 
wards he liked to dwell upon. He remained 
silent, while Alice took the chair offered her 
and plunged at once into the subject of 
Eeuben's enlistment, a proposal received at 
first with stupefied dismay. 

Mam Gale dropped thunderstruck upon a 
chair, regardless of the pile of freshly ironed 
caps she crushed beneath her. " Our Hreub 
goo vur a soldier," she cried, when her indig- 
nation at last found voice ; " Hreub what 
never drinked nor done au^iit aijen the 
Commandments ! Our Hreuben 'list ! We've 
a zeen a vast of trouble. Miss Linofard, but we 
never known disoTace avore ! " 

It was no use for Edward to plead his own 
example ; Mam Gale bid him remember what 
Eeuben owed to his position in life. " 'Taint 
no harm vur gentlevolk, they can do without 
characters and haint no call to be respect- 
able," she said ; " but our Hreub, what have 
always looked up to hisself, it do zim cruel to 
let he down." 

Jacob was too horrified to utter a word of 



SUNSET ON ARDEX DOWN. 180 

remonstrance ; but Ellen, whose imagination 
was fired by a vision of her brother in regi- 
mentals, went so far as to say that she had 
heard of respectable soldiers. Eeuben eagerly 
corroborated her, and Jacob and his mother 
had so far recovered from the shock as to 
listen to Edward's proposals, wdien the sound 
of wheels was heard, a vehicle stopped at 
the w^icket, and Paul Annesley's Arm quick 
steps struck the courtyard flints and stone 
passage, and he came with cheery energy, 
unannounced as usual, into the firelit 
kitchen. 

" Sorr}^ I'lii so late, Mam Gale, I was 
called out of my w^ay. Ellen still up ? That's 
right, my lass ; " he had proceeded thus far, 
his hearty, mellow^ voice filling the kitchen 
with a breath of hope and health, wdien he 
became aware of the two fio-ures seated near 
each other by the window, and he stopped, as 
'if thunderstruck, a fiery spark flashing from 
his eyes. 

" We had better go," Alice said, turning 
to Edward, as she rose after acknowledgini: 



100 THE EEPROACII OF ANNESLEY. 

Paul's entrance. " Good-bye, Ellen, we must 
not take up the doctor's time." 

There was something- in this " we " that 
acted upon Paul like fire upon gunpowder, 
and he viciously ground his teeth. 

He assured them that there was no need 
for them to go, but they went nevertheless, 
and he then stood before the window, talking- 
to Ellen„ He looked out into the violet dusk, 
watching intently while the two figures 
lessened and finally disappeared, and Ellen 
wondered at the strangle look on his face, 
which she had only known hitherto full of 
kindness and good-humour, and at the pre- 
occupied manner that made him ask the same 
questions over again. His visit was as brief 
as he could make it. An irresistible power 
drew him ; he sprang quickly to his seat and 
set the Admiral off at his best pace, but 
avoided the nearest wav home, choosing; that 
which led j^ast Arden Cross. 

The fleeting glory was gone from the 
chalk quarr}^, which showed desolate in its 
pale gloom, and seemed a fit abode for 



SUNSET ON ARDEN DOWN. 191 

spectres. A figure springing up beliind a 
heap of stones by the road made the Admiral 
shy violently, and though it proved to be 
onlv that of a loitering child, Thomas, the 
groom, trembled all over and was bathed in 
a cold perspiration, for he knew that ghosts 
haunted the pit. As for his master, he 
punished the Admiral's mistake with such 
severity that the horse tore down the hill 
like a whirlwind, jerking the light dog-cart 
from side to side, and obliging the frightened 
Thomas to cling on with his hands, while the 
white-heat of passion kept his master firm, 
so firm that he was able to turn his head 
aside and gaze steadily across the dewy 
hedc^e-rows at the two fisfures walkino- throuo^h 
the fields to the Manor, until the bend of the 
road hid them from his sight. 



CHAPTER TV. 

MESSES. WHEWELL AND EICK:\IAX. 

The streets of Medincfton were all alive one 
sunny spring morning. Men were busy in 
tlie market-square placing hurdles for sheep 
and pigs ; shopkeepers were turning their 
wares out of dark recesses, and arrano-ino- 
them on the pavements, to the great dis- 
comfort of passengers ; carts — laden with 
wicker baskets, whence issued mournful 
cackles and quacks of remonstrance from 
victims unconscious of their doom, and all 
sorts of country produce, including stout 
market-women — rolled slowly into the town, 
drawn by thoughtful horses, who ventured 
upon no step without first duly pondering its 
advisability ; small flocks of meekly protest- 
ing, yet docile, sheep, and disorderly herds of 



MESSRS. WHEWELL AND HICKMAN. 193 

loudl}^ rebellious and recalcitrant pigs, were 
bemnninix to enter the streets from diverf^ent 
country roads ; housemaids, giving the bell- 
pulls an extra Saturday cleaning, loitered 
over their work, and looked up and down the 
street, to catch sight of country friends ; 
clerks and shopmen wished the day over and 
Sunday morning come with its quiet ; it was 
market dav, the least Sabbatical and most 
bustling of the seven. 

Daniel Pink was passing slowlj^ along the 

Hin;ii Street, his little frightened flock bleat- 
ed ■ c 

ing and panting ahead of him, and seizing 
every opportunity for blundering into folse 
positions to an extent that almost deprived 
Eougli, the dog, of reason in the passionate 
indignation it aroused in his shaggy breast. 
Daniel laid his crook in this direction and 
that, and spread out his arms and grunted to 
his four-footed lieutenant, and was so en- 
grossed in taking his charges safely past the 
vehicles and open doors, through which the}^ 
were eager to dart, that until he was some 
distance past he forgot to look as usual at 
VOL. I. 13 



191 THE REPROACn OF ANN'ESLEY. 

Paul Annesley's door, to see if cherry-clie&ked 
Martha, his daughter, was on the look-out. 
Then he threw the bunch of flowers he had 
carried in for her with such aim that she 
caught it just in time to prevent its striking 
the face of her master, who opened the door 
behind her, and to her dire confusion came 
out at that moment 

" Wallflowers, Martha ? Curious thimrs to* 
clean brass with, eh ? " he said, with a good- 
tempered smile ; and he stepped briskly 
down the street, his face darkeninsf when he 
remembered the scene at the " Traveller's 
Eest " the nioiit before. 

The shepherd had been thinking of the 
same scene as he came along. He had 
related the conversation to his wife on his 
return to his lonel}^ cottage, so that they had 
remained up be3'ond their usual hour talking 
over the dying fire ; Mrs. Pink would for many 
days declare in the same words her convic- 
tion that it was better to die right side upper- 
most in England than to tempt Providence 
by journeying to a world in which every- 



MESSRS. AVHEWELL AND EICKMAN. 195 

tliino' was ui)sidc down, and the very Com- 
mandments were probably by analogy re- 
versed ; while Daniel would as frequently 
observe that they raised a " terble lot of 
ship " out there, that he had once known a 
steady youth who enlisted when crossed in 
love, and that Ellen might possibly see the 
harvest carried home. 

After the last sa3'ing he would generally be 
silent for some time, wondering to what un- 
known land Ellen would journey then. A 
great part of Daniel Pink's time was spent in 
wondering ; the few events of his own and 
other lives, however deeply pondered upon, 
were soon exhausted, and then there were 
long lonely hours in sunshine and storm, on 
the wide windy downs, under the shelter of a 
bent thorn or a wind-bowed hedije, in the 
silent nights when great flocks of stars passed 
in .orderly procession over the vast black 
chasms of space above him, or the hurtling 
storm swept round him — long empty hours 
that had to be filled with thouiihts and 
imaji'ininirs of some voiceless kind. And 



1 



Q* 



196 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

sometimes the musings of simple shepherds 
are grander, and their unspoken sense of the 
mystery and beauty which enfolds their ob- 
scure lives is deeper, than we imagine. 

Gervase Eickman on his way to his office 
through the market, nodded condescendingly 
to the well-known weather-beaten figure 
standino' anions^ the pens. If he thouo-ht of 
him at all, it was as a slightly superior 
animal. Who expects to find a poet or a 
prophet beneath a smock frock or fustian 
jacket? 

Gervase hurried along to his office, which 
stood just ofi* the market-square, full of 
thoughts, for the most part common-place, 
even sordid, principally concerning the busi- 
ness affairs of half the county. He was later 
than he intended to be, and found the dav's 
work in full swing when he stepped into the 
outer office, whose occupants suddenly be- 
came very diligent on his entrance. He took 
in every detail as he passed swiftly through, 
and sprang up the stairs to his own private 
room, followed by the white-headed clerk, 



MESSRS. WIIEWELL AND EICKMAN. 197 

ulio had been the confidential servant, and, 
by virtue of his service, master, of the firm of 
AVhewell and Hickman since before Gervase 
was born. 

The room had a bow-window, giving upon 
a street which crossed the High Street at right 
angles, and commandincf a view of both these 
streets and the broad market-place at their 
junction. This window differed from those 
usual to lawyers' offices because it was per- 
fectly clean, and its transparent panes were 
obscured only to a moderate height by a wire 
blind, transparent to those within the room, 
though opaque from without. Eickman's desk 
was so placed, that while sitting at it he could, 
if so minded, observe all that was passing in 
the focus of town life beneath this window. 
Xot that he enjoyed such leisure as to need 
window-gazing to fill it up, for more business 
wag done in that bow-windowed room than in 
any other in the town. 

He was vexed at being a little late on this 
bustling market-dav, and still more vexed at 
the cause of his delav, which was a woman. 



193 . THE EEPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

He hastened to look at the letters before him, 
while his roving glance swept the street as he 
listened to the old clerk's communications. 

"Dr. Annesley called and was much put 
out," the latter said ; " he could not wait, as 
he was starting on his country rounds. He 
wrote this note." The note was brief. 

" I must have that money, no matter at what interest," 
it ran. " Could I. raise some upon the Gledesworth pros- 
pects? Call before you leave town to-day. — P. A." 

" My good fellow, why vrill you mix with 
rich and idle men ? " Eickman thought to 
himself. 

" That will do, Hughes," he said, and the 
old clerk left him to his work, and there was 
silence in the room, broken only by the rapid 
course of the lawyer's pen. 

His face was heavy with care, and he was 
not quite so sure as he had been of the 
potency of human will, and especially of his 
own. The check Alice Linc^ard had oiven 
him two days before on Arden Down, when 
he had formally asked her to marry him. 



MESSRS. WIIEWELL ANI; KICKMAN. 199 

liuiTiecI on to decisive measures by the neces- 
sity of putting a stop to Edward Annesley's 
apparent designs, was severe and far less easy 
to bear than he had anticipated — for he was 
too good an observer not to have known that 
Alice would never accept his first offer ; he 
relied upon time and circumstance, the power 
of his will and the continued stress of his pas- 
sion, which was patient as well as ardent, to 
win her. 

"M}^ mother," he reflected, while another 
portion of his active brain was occupied with 
the subject beneath his pen, " is the most 
amiable of human beings, but she is the most 
simple and unobservant. My father has 
talents, but with regard to all that concerns 
human life and conduct he is an infant in arms. 
How on earth Sibyl and I came by our brains, 
Heaven alone knows ; on the whole we should 
be t-hankful that we have any. H that stupid 
little Sib would but take a fancy to Paul she 
mii^ht catch him at the rebound. And Paul 
has expectations. Paul saw them together 
last night and enjoyed it as much as I did. 



200 THE EEPEOACH OF A^'KESLEY. 

But women are so unreliable, they upset all 
one's calculations, one never knows what 
they will do next. As for that good-looking 

fool " Gervase sighed and paused in his 

work ; he did not like to admit to himself 
that he had made too light of him, yet he 
feared it, and when he thought of Sibyl's 
secret he burned with hatred for the man who 
had so deeply touched her heart. He looked 
out upon the thickening stream of passengers 
in the street and saw one of whom he made a 
mental note, and went on writing with the 
under-current thought that nothing was any 
good without Alice, and that the ver}^ strength 
of his desire for her love was sufficient war- 
rant for his winning it. " And what a man 
she might make of me ! " he thought, perhaps 
with some dim deeply hidden notion of pro- 
pitiating Providence with the promise of being 
good if he could but get his coveted toy. 

While his pen flew over the paper he re- 
called the beofinninor of this attachment, now 
fast developing into a passion. 

It was Alice's seventeenth birthday, and he 



MESSRS. WIIEWELL A^'D RICKMAN. 201 

was talkiu": to his fcitlier about lier afTairs, 
when the latter remarked that she had now 
grown a tall young woman. 

"And we shall lose her, Gervase," he 
added. " She will marry early. Besides her 
good looks, she has what men value more, 
money." 

Then Gervase thought how convenient her 
little fortune would be to a man in his posi- 
tion, and reflected further that, ambi:ious as 
he was, he could not reasonably expect to 
find a better match. While thus musinu', he 
strolled out into the garden and saw Alice, 
yesterda}" one of the " children," an over- 
grown girl, an encumbrance or a toy, ac- 
cording to the humour of the moment, 
gathering flowers, unconscious of his observa- 
tion. It vras a difTerent Alice that he saw that 
dav ; tlie child was u'one, living;' place to a 
young creature who compelled his homage. 
He offered her his birthday congratulations 
with deference, his manner had a new reserve. 
" She shall be my wife," he said to himself 
with a beating heart. 



202 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

Three years had passed but this purpose 
had not faltered. Then came the check on 
Arden Down. This occurred at a gipsying 
excursion by the Manor party, during which 
he found himself alone with her. He knew 
that it was too early to press his suit, but 
Edward Anneslev's visit forced his hand. 

Alice hoped that it was but a passing fancy 
and tried to impress this view of the affair 
upon him. " You are making a mistake," 
she said ; " you would not be happy with me. 
I have not even ambition. Let us fori^fet 
this, dear Gervase. Otherwise I must leave 
you. I hope you will not drive me away 
from Arden. It is my only home." 

Tliev were standino- bv a ijate on the down, 
looking over the plain, which stretched away 
with its buddino' trees half veiled in 
leafage to the blue belt of sea : cowslips 
nodded in the hedce near them ; the o-reat 
spring chorus of birds was borne faintly from 
the valleys up to their airy height ; the 
world was full of music and beauty. 
Gervase looked straight into Alice's eyes and 



MESSRS. WJIEWELL AND RICKMAN. 203 

fascinated lier b}' the magnetism of his glance, 
and he spoke as if moved . by a power 
beyond his controL 

" It is no mistake," he said. " You are 
the one woman for me. And I will win yon," 
he added in deep, almost menacing tones. 
" It may be years first. But I loill win you, 
I shall win you. Yes ; in spite of yourself." 

Alice trembled ; she could not withdraw 
her fascinated gaze from his. The air of 
conviction with which he spoke seemed pro- 
phetic ; her heart beat painfully ; she was on 
the vero'e of tears. 

But she was no weaklino- • she summoned 
all her forces to meet and defy him. " How 
dare you speak like that ! " she said, in cold, 
cutting tones. 

" I dare," he replied, with inward trembling 
but outward determination, " because I love. 
Forgive me Alice," he added more gently, 
when she turned away with a look of scorn, 
*'I was carried away. Forget my words. 
Forget my folly. Let us be as we were 
before." 



204 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

Then tears came to lier relief. She quickly 
checked them, smiled once more, and there 
was peace between them. After that he was 
careful to suppress all traces of the lover in 
his manner, and she was gradually reassured. 
He was also careful to draw her observation 
to the attentions which Edward Annesley ap- 
peared to pay to Sibyl, and to confide to her 
his approval of the match. 

That Edward was winning Alice's heart 
was bitter to Gervase ; that he was winning 
Sib3d's, and threatening to spoil her life, was 
almost more bitter. He resolved that Sibyl's 
life should not be spoilt ; he determined to 
bring Annesley to book, and show him that 
he was bound in honour to marry her. But 
this step needed the most subtle treatment ; 
the slightest mistake would be fatal. Besides, 
he feared to precipitate whatever designs 
Annesley might have with regard to Alice, by 
premature interference, and contented him- 
self with being at Arden as much as possible 
durincf Edward's visit, and makinf]^ arramje- 
ments to keep him apart from Alice during 



MESSRS. WHEWELL AND RICKMAN. 205 

his absence, in which small schemes he was 
greatly aided by the transparent simplicity of 
his mother. 

Trnly this unfortunate vouno- man had more 
than enough to burden his active brain, and 
just when it was important, in view of the ap- 
proaching county election, to give his mind 
entirely to political affairs. Women seemed 
to be made expressly to torment and perplex 
mankind, as Eaysh Squire observed of boys. 
If Sibyl, whom he loved with an instinctive 
clinging affection, almost as deep as his self- 
love, had been but a man. " But then," he 
reflected, " perhaps we should have wanted 
the same woman. That fatal sex would still 
have ruined all." 

He had hitherto said that he would not 
live without Alice ; now he found that he 
could not. Wealth, success, power and 
position, things that he had yearned for and 
purposed to win by the strength of his intel- 
lect and energy, suddenly lost all value in 
themselves ; without Alice thev were no 
good. 



206 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

" I must and I will have lier," he muttered, 
dashing his pen fiercely into the ink-bottle, at 
the conclusion of his task. 

His reflections were disturbed l)y the open- 
ing of the door ; the not very usual sound of 
a lady's dress rustling over the matting was 
heard, and Mrs. Annesley met Ger vase's fierce 
intense gaze with one of her seraphic smiles. 

In an instant the vouno^ lawver's izlance 
fell, and changed to its everyda}^ suavity as 
he rose with a smile, in which surprise and 
welcome were equally blended, to receive his 
unexpected visitor. 

"You are doubtless surprised, Mr. Eick- 
man," she said, taking the chair he placed for 
her, " that I should visit jou instead of send- 
ing for you as usual. I have a reason." 

" That is of course," replied Gervase. " You 
know I am alwa3^s at your service at any 
moment." 

"I thought your country clients would 
scarcely have arrived at this early hour, and 
I might therefore seize the opportunity of 
calling on you on my way home from morn- 



MLiSSKS. WHEWELL AND RICIvMAN. i07 

ing prayers without attracting attention at 
home. My beloved son is, I fear, in sad 
difficulties." 

" Indeed," returned Gervase, with a look of 
surprised interest, while he moved a paper 
softly over Paul's note. "I am sorry for 
that." 

" Is it possible," continued Mrs. Annesle}', 
studying his face with an astonished air, " that 
my dear bo}' has not consulted even ^^ou upon 
the subject? " 

" My dear Mrs. Annesley," returned Ger- 
vase, laughing, "do you suppose that we 
lawyers discuss our clients' affairs even to 
their nearest friends ? " 

" True," she replied, annoyed at herself. 
"I had forgotten Mr. Eickman for the 
moment, and was thinking; of niv vouni]^ 
friend, Gervase. It is most probable that 
you. know more of these unfortunate compli- 
cations than I do, for my child, I cannot 
tell why," she added, applying her hand- 
kerchief to her eyes, " has not honoured 
me with his confidence. I feel this, Mr. 



203 THE EEPEOACH OF ANXESLEY. 

Eickman, as only a sensitive and devoted 
woman can." 

" Doubtless," he said, with courteous 
patience. " Hang the woman ! why in the 
world does she come here plaguing me with 
her feelinc^s ? " he thouijht. — " You have 
reason, then, to suppose that Paul is in diffi- 
culties of some kind upon which he has not 
consulted you? "he added. 

"Dr. Annesley," she continued with severe 
dignity, " has incurred debts of honour, 
which he does not find himself in a position 
to discharge without serious inconvenience. 
I need scarcely tell you, Mr. Eickman, that 
my son's income is most insufficient for a 
young man of his birth and tastes. His pro- 
fessional success has not as yet been by any 
means proportioned to his talents and energy. 
His youth is against him. It naturally pre- 
judices those who have every confidence in 
his skill. My son is proud ; he prefers to 
make his own way, and no longer accepts an 
allowance from me, as you are aware. I 
honour his independence, but " — here she 



MESSRS. WIIEWELL AND RICKMAN. 209 

dropped her dignity, and suddenly became 
natural in a burst of real feeling — " I do 
think he might come to me in his trouble." 

" I daresay," Gervase said soothingl}^, while 
Mrs. Annesley daintily dried her tears, " that 
if he is, as you think, hard up, he sees his 
way out of the scrape, and does not w^ish to 
worry you if he can possibly help himself." 

" That is just what hurts me, Gervase," 
replied Mrs. Annesley, still oblivious of her 
dignity. " He might know that I would 
grudge him nothing. It is hard that a man 
like Paul should never indulge in the tastes 
and amusements natural to his aize. And I 
am readj^ as he might know, to incur any 
sacrifice to extricate him. I would rather 
live in a hovel than see my son unable to 
meet debts of honour." 

" We all know wdiat a devoted mother he 
has','' said the politic Gervase. "I infer, 
then, that you wish to find him the money." 

" Exactly, dear Gervase ; with accustomed 
penetration you go straight to the point." 

" Well, then," said Gervase, glancing un- 
VOL. I. 14 



210 THE KEP ROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

observed at his watcli, " why don't you mort- 
gage some of your house-property ? That 
would be better than sellmg stock just now. 
How much does he want ? " 

" That I believe you are in a better position 
to say than I am," she replied, with a dry little 
smile. 

Gervase also smiled, and said that the mort- 
gage should be effected at once, since he knew 
where to find the money, and in a surpris- 
ingly short time he contrived to get the 
whole of Mrs. Annesley's wishes expressed, 
and learnt that Paul was to be kept in doubt 
until the transaction was effected and the 
money in his mother's hands, when she inten- 
ded to surprise him. 

"Excellent young man," thought Mrs. An- 
nesley, as she swept down the stairs and 
through the outer office, where the busy 
clerks inspired her with no more fellow- 
feeling than the sheep in the pens outside. 
" He has never given his mother a moment's 
anxiety. I suppose nothing would have 
induced him to run a horse unless he were 



MESSRS. WIIEWELL AND RICKMAN. 211 

quite sure of being able to pay the conse- 
quences. Quiet and prudent, the son of a 
mere physician, how different from my bril- 
liant Paul ! The blood of the Mowbrays is not 
in his veins." She forgot that Paul was not 
even the son of a physician, since Walter 
Annesley had been but a country doctor, 
whose untimely death had not improved his 
son's prospects. 

She walked joyously home through the 
ever-thickening stream of vans and carts, con- 
sidering what expenses she could cut down 
to meet the interest of the mortgage, really 
glad that a load of care would be lifted from 
Paul's heart, but anxious that he should ac- 
knowleda'e and admire her sacrifice ; few 
things pleased her so much as to be con- 
sidered a martyr ; she was a woman who 
could not exist without a grievance. 

She wondered how Heaven came to afHict 
her with such a son, though she knew very 
well that she would not have loved him half 
so well had he been steadier and less extra- 
vagant. Destiny had evidently made a mis- 

14* 



212 THE EEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

take in setting a man of his mould to wield 
the lancet ; perhaps that view had also 
occurred to Destiny, and resulted in the 
recent removal of Eeginald Annesley from 
the Gledesworth succession. 



CHAPTEE Y. 

STOEM. 

Full of these tliougiits, Mrs. Annesley entered 
her house and went throuo-h her usual tran- 
quil occupations, all of which, however 
homely in themselves, were characterized by 
a certain elegance peculiar to herself. 

The maids trembled when summoned one 
by one to her presence to be called to 
account for the various doings and misdoings 
of the week, and were equally awed by 
reproof or commendation, though, being 
human, they preferred the latter. Certain 
dainty dustings of bric-a-brac by her own 
hands occured on Saturdays, and the sub- 
sidiary dustings and cleanings of which 
they were the crown and summit, were truly 
awful in their immaculate perfection. She 



2U THE EEPIlOACfi OF A^'NESLEY. 

arranc^ed fresh flowers, and terrible was the 
fate of that maid who brou^i^dit an imperfectly- 
cleaned vase for their reception, or sj^illed 
the water required for them. These weekly 
duties were all completed, and Mrs. Annesle}^, 
arrayed in fresh laces, was sitting in the 
drawing-room with some elegant trifle repre- 
senting needle-work in her hand, when about 
one o'clock the Eickmans' phaeton drove up 
to the door with Edward Annesle}^, whom she 
expected to lunch with her on his way from 
Arden. 

Paul had returned from his country round, 
and was watching the arrival of the phaeton 
from the window of his consulting-room with 
an eager intensity strangely disproportioned 
to the event. The grey mare trotted in her 
leisurely fashion up to the door, totally igno- 
ring the unusual stimulus of the whip, which 
Sib}^ applied smartly, in the vain hope of 
infusing some dash into her paces. Mrs. 
Kickman occupied the front seat by her 
daughter's side, and was protesting against 
her cruelty ; but the grey mare might have 



STORM. 215 

been a flying dragon, and these ladies harpies, 
for all Paul cared ; his fiery glance was con- 
centrated on the back seat, in which were 
Alice Linorard and his cousin. The latter was 
on the pavement before the vehicle had 
stopped. His farewells were soon said, and 
the phaeton drove off with the nearest 
approach to dash ever made by the gre}- mare 
in response to an unusually sharp cut of 
Sibyl's whip. Edward stood on the pavement 
lookinsf for some moments after the van- 
ishing carriage, with an expression that was 
not lost upon Paul. Then he slowly turned, 
crossed the pavement, turning once more in 
the direction of the carriage, now lost to 
view, and finally went up the steps and rang 
the bell. Paul felt that he was still looking 
in the direction taken by the phaeton though 
he could no longer see him. 

He had seen what past between Edward and 
Alice at parting ; only the lifting of Alice's 
gaze to Edward's when he wished her good- 
bye, but with a look so luminous that it went 
like a stab to Paul's heart. These thin^is so 



216 THE EEPEOACU OF ANNESLEY. 

wrought upon him, that he seized a bust of 
Galen from a bracket by the wall and dashed 
it to pieces on the ground. 

He had scarcely done this, when a patient 
was announced and condoled with him upon 
the accident. Paul smiled grimly in response, 
and proceeded to his business, a small, but 
delicate operation on the eye, which he 
effected with a steady skilful hand. Xo one 
in Medino'ton knew what a skilful suroeon 
he was ; even his mother did not credit him 
with professional excellence. 

They were already at table when he went 
in to luncheon ; Edward, quite unconscious 
of the storm he had set raging in his cousin's 
breast, seemed unusually friendly and pleased 
to see him. 

" I was afraid I might miss you after all," 
he said, rising and grasping his hand in a 
grip so warm that he did not perceive the 
coldness with which it was received. " I 
know what a chance it is to catch you at 
luncheon, especially on a market-day." 

"Xot when I have guests," replied Paul, 



STORM. 217 

with an extra stateliiiess, which Edward 
would have been incapable of perceiving 
even if his mind had been less pre-occupied ; 
" onl}^ the most important cases keep me 
from home under such circumstances." 

" He never suffers the professional man to 
obscure the gentleman," said Mrs. Annesley. 

" He would not be your son if he did," 
Edward returned. 

Mrs. Annesley was so light of heart in con- 
sequence of her morning exploit, that she 
chatted away most graciously and gaily, 
and set Edward on the congenial theme of 
his visit to Arden, and the virtues of the 
Eickman family. Paul observed with ever- 
deepening gloom that he did not mention 
Alice, he only named Sibyl when speaking 
of the ladies. 

After luncheon there was still an hour to 
waste before Edward's train was due, and he 
was yet unconscious of an^'thing unusual in 
Paul, when the latter asked him to go out in 
the f^arden with him. The i>arden was lar^e ; 
it extended not only by the full breadth of 



218 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

the house to a wall bounded by the parallel 
street, but ran along that street for a little 
distance at the back of other houses. Be- 
neath some tall limes, the crimson-edged 
branches of which were now showing a few 
fluttering transparent leaflets, pale green 
against the blue sky, there was a stretch 
of rich deep sward, the growth of at least 
a century. Here were benches, and sitting 
on one of them, one could see the flower- 
garden and the back of the house half 
hidden in ivy and creepers. 

Quite silently the young men strolled 
through the whole length of the garden, 
Edward looking at the scented hyacinths, 
the flowering currants, old friends he knew 
so well, the oTeat elm with the lone^ disused 
swing and the delicate veil of April green 
about its lower branches, and vaguely enjoying 
the mystery and richness of the spring ; Paul, 
with his eyes cast down, his lips closed firmly, 
his ears deaf to the somx of the blackbirds 
who found homes in that pleasant garden, and 
whose music seemed like a romantic picture 



STOE.M. 219 

painted on the prosaic background of the 
town noise. 

Edward threw himself on a bench and 
stretched his legs comfortably before him in 
the sunshine, while he took his short pipe from 
his pocket and began to fill it, and was just 
beginning to wonder why Paul did not 
smoke. Then he looked up and was sur- 
prised at the expression on the face of Paul, 
who was standino' before him, a dark figure 
against the sunshine. 

Paul was extremely pale, his eyes appeared 
black with intense feeling, his lips moved as 
if trying to frame some speech of which lie 
was incapable, and for a few moments he 
gazed silently at his cousin. 

"What is the matter, Paul?" the latter 
asked, changing his careless attitude for a more 
upright posture. He had heard something of 
Paul's pecuniary straits, and thought he might 
be on the verge of asking help of him. lie 
knew that his introduction to Captain Mcllvray 
had been rather unfortunate. Mcllvray and 
Paul, being congenial spirits, had rapidly 



220 THE EEPEOACH OF A^N£SLEY. 

become intimate ; tliis intimacy had brought 
Paul into immediate contact with the other 
officers of the regiment, and in turn with 
their friends. Those Highland officers were 
all men of means and family, they were nearly 
all unmarried, and more or less fast, and the 
usual consequences of a young man asso- 
ciating with richer men than himself had 
ensued. 

Late hours, play, moderate by a rich 
man's standard, but high by a poor man's, 
steeple-chasing by a horse due at sick 
people's doors, and suchlike, had combined to 
empty the doctor's pockets and scandalize 
his patients, particularly the steady-going 
burghers of Medington, who did not care 
to trust their families or themselves to the 
hands of a young man, who, instead of 
occupying his leisure with medical books, 
consorted with a "set of rackety officers;" 
and for all this Edward felt to some extent 
responsible. 

" I asked you," Paul replied in the incisive 
tones of white-hot passion, " to come out here, 



STORM. 221 

because I tliiiik it time to come to an under- 
standing." 

" An understanding of wliat ? If it is 
money, dear fellow, I tliink I can promise to 
help you." 

"Money," repeated Paul with ironical 
laughter, " money indeed ! " 

This lofty scorn of that cause of so much 
mischief, the lack of which is so excessively 
inconvenient to ordinary mortals, was less 
edifying than amusing in a man who was 
head over ears in debt, and a half smile stole 
over Edward's face when he heard it. A 
certain grandiose manner which Paul in- 
herited from his mother, and which some- 
times degenerated into affectation, often 
amused his simple-mannered cousin, and 
provoked him to the expression of wholesome 
ridicule. But the traijic set of Paul's features 
warned him that anything in the shape of 
laughter would be ill-timed, so he composed 
his face to the decent gravity, observing that 
he had feared, from certain hints Paul had 
given, that times were hard with him, and 



222 THE EEPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

that he was delighted to find himself mis- 
taken. 

" If it isn't mone}'," he reflected, " it must 
be love. Though, how on earth I am to help 
him at that, I don't know." 

" You seem a cup too low," he added aloud. 
" Come, cheer up ; whatever it is, you have 
the world before you, and a stout pair of 
arms to fight it with." 

" Thank you," Paul replied with sharper 
irony, " I am in no need of either your advice 
or your sympathy." 

" Then, what in the world does he want ? " 
thought the other. " It cannot be his mother's 
temper." 

" Surely you must know what explanation 
I require," continued Paul, relieving his 
irritation by dinting the turf sharply with 
his heel. Edward possessed that perfect 
good temper which results from the com- 
bination of Gfood di^^estion, a clean conscience 
and congenial circumstances ; the undisturbed 
amiability with which he met his fiery cousin's 
determination to quarrel with him was most 



STOllM. 225 

aggravating. " Is it possible," Paul thought, 
concentrating his blazing glance upon that 
cheerful face, " that this man can be sucli a 
hypocrite as well as a traitor ? I wish to 
know," he added aloud, " the object of 3T)ur 
visits to Arden Manor ? " 

" Indeed ? " The good-tempered face 
darkened now. "That is my aflair." 
Edward rose from the bench, made a few 
steps and then retraced them. " Do you 
mean to say," he asked, " that you brought 
me out here for the express purpose of asking 
why I visit at Arden ? " 

" For the express purpose," replied Paul, 
the breath coming audibly through his quiver- 
im? nostrils. 

The momentary irritation passed away and 
Edward lauoiied. 

" You always were a queer fellow," he said ; 
" but why this paternal interest in my goings 
and comings ? " 

" I warned you," continued Paul ; " I ex- 
plained the situation to you ; I have spoken 
to you since of my hopes and wishes. You 



224 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

have indeed honoured my confidence. The 
very first day you went there by steaUh. It 
was unnecessary, you might have gone 
openly. A second time you went b}' stealth 
when every one considered you to be miles 
awa3\ Yet, after what passed in my presence, 
secrecy was absurd. Do you suppose me to 
be blind ? We all know that a girl flirt 
delights in trj^ing to make conquests of those 
who belong to others. That a man should 
descend so far, is, I own, almost incredible. 
But one must believe the evidence of one's 
senses. That a man, I will not say a gen- 
tleman, a man with the most elementary 
notions of honour should deliberately pay his 
addresses in a quarter to which " 

" My dear Paul," interrupted Edward, 
keeping a grave face with difficulty, " what a 
ridiculous misunderstanding this is ! Beware 
of jealousy." 

" Jealousy I " cried Paul, flinging away 
from him with his eyes rolling. " Jealousy, 
indeed ! I saw you," he added inconsistently, 
" when you said good-bye at my door to-day. 



STORM. 225 

And on that niglit I saw you placing her hands 
on the bow with your infernal fingers " 

" And were not jealous ? Sensible fellow ! 
Seriously you are in a painful position, and it 
makes you, as you told me the other day, 
over-sensitive ; you cannot see things in their 
right proportions ; you exaggerate trifles." 

"Is it a trifle that you are almost an 
inmate of that house ? that she gives you 
flowers ? that you treasure up a flower that 
she drops ? that you look into her eyes as I 
saw you look an hour ago ? that 3'ou sing 
with her ? walk alone with her ? act like an 
idiot when she is near ? By all that is 
sacred " 

" Come, listen to reason ; I admit you are 
not jealous. But, as you said the other day, 
it makes vou wretched in this uncertain state 
of affairs even to hear of other men o'oinir 
to the house, much less being civil to her." 

"Civil!" 

" One must be civil to ladies, especially in 
their own houses. I was bound to teach 
her to shoot. But I am innocent of the other 
VOL. I. 15 



226 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

crimes you impute to me, I swear I am. Look 
here, Paul. I will stand more from you than 
from any man living. But you go too far. 
You are hard hit, and in a false position, and 
that makes vou forg-et yourself. Put an end 
to all this, for pity's sake ; ask her to marry 
you and haye done with it." 

" Haye done with it ; that would, no doubt, 
be agreeable to you," Paul repeated, with a 
grim smile. " But I may be mistaken, after 
all ; you haye no doubt been so obliging as 
to try to advance my suit by proxy." 

Edward turned red when he remembered 
his unfortunate essay in that line in Arden 
churchyard. 

" Nonsense," he replied, laughing. " Come, 
you have the field to yourself. I shall not be 
seeing her for weeks. In the meantime, come 
to the point, and let me congratulate you on 
being engaged before I come back again." 

The easy way in which he proposed this 
impossible thing turned all Paul's blood to 
fire, made his head swim, and clouded his 
eyes for a moment. He knew that Edward 



STOEM. 227 

and Alice loved each other, and, more than 
that, he knew that Edward, while speaking 
this nonchalance, was fully aware that he had 
won Alice's heart. The fire of inextinguish- 
able hate burned in his breast, and the mad- 
ness of jealousy possessed him ; the parting 
look between the two pierced like a poisoned 
arrow to the core of his heart ; it was well 
for him that no deadly weapon was at hand, 
or his cousin's last words would have been 
spoken. 

" You have no explanation to offer, then ? " 
he asked. 

"There is nothing to explain. You accuse 
me of paying too much attention to the lady 
of your choice. I reply that I have not done 
so." 

" Can you deny that you love Alice Lin- 
gar d ? " he urged. 

" Surely you mean Sibyl ? " Edward fal- 
tered with a sudden pallor. " It was she of 
whom you spoke that night. I had not even 
heard of Miss Lingard's existence." 

" Then it is true," Paul said tragically ; and 

15* 



228 THE EEPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

for some moments neitlier cousin could do 
anything but try to realize tlie painful situa- 
tion in which they found themselves. 

"It was not my mistake alone," added 
Edward, who was now grave enough. " Your 
mother jested on the subject the first night I 
spent there." 

" Are you encraofed to Miss Linofard ? " Paul 
asked, turning a stony face, from which 
despair had taken all the fury, towards the 
pained glance of his cousin. 

"No," he replied, and for the moment 
wished he could have said yes. If he had not 
already won Alice's heart, he knew that he 
was on the hioli road to it. He mioht have 
spoken the night before, but he considered it 
scarcely seemly to be so precipitate. And, 
now that he had not actually committed him- 
self, he did not know what to do. He had 
certainly injured Paul, and in a way that 
made atonement impossible. 

" I am sorry for this," he said, after a 
pause, " more sorry than I can say." And 
yet he doubted if his advent had done Paul 



STOini. 229 

mucli harm. He liad had the first chance 
and had missed it. But what if Alice had 
seemed to accept his attentions for the purpose 
of drawing^ the lao^2^ard lover on ? Girls often 
did that. Girls like Alice ? Oh, no ; Alice 
was different ; she was not to be measured by 
ordinary standards. 

The discovery that Edward had not played 
him false, and that he had consequently no 
grievance against him, served rather to in- 
tensify the jealous anger which devoured 
Paul's heart. Every expression of regret on 
Edward's part was another assurance that 
Alice had been stolen from him. 

" You must never see her again," he 
said decisively. An apple-tree covered with 
blossom rose behind him and traced its pink 
and white branches upon the clear blue sky. 
He turned and took a thick bough in his 
hands, and snapped it like a stick of wax, and 
the pink tracery was now marked on the 
green turf at his feet. Edward plucked some 
of the red twigs of the lime tree, and twisted 
them round his fingers until he nearly 



230 THE EEPROACH OF A^"^'ESLEY. 

brought the blood. The blackbird fluted 
melodiously, the hum of the busy market- 
place went on, the church clock chimed the 
hour, and the gnomon of the tree-shadows 
changed its place on the turf-dial, while the 
two cousins stood silent, facing each other, 
divided this way and that by distracting 
thoughts. 

" I cannot promise that," Edward replied 
at last. " We cannot both have her, but one 
must. She is not to be left to linger out her 
youth in doubt. I give you three months. 
That is a lonof time. Six weeks ago I had 
never heard of her. 

Paul made another deep dent in the turf. 
Three months was no time, and how could he 
ask a woman to marry him in his present cir- 
cumstances P Besides, would Alice forget 
Edward in three months ? 

Edward was asking himself the same ques- 
tion. He had no right to believe that she 
would ever think of him, and yet it seemed 
impossible that the stream of their lives, 
having once mingled, could ever divide again. 



STOKM. 231 

But Love is jealous. Alice had known Paul 
for years ; she admired his character ; she 
might easily think his own feeling for her, 
if not followed up in those three months, 
a passing fanc}^ and would certainly 
quench whatever, feeling for himself might 
have been germinating within her, when 
she saw that Paul's happiness depended 
upon her. 

" Three months is no time," Paul said. 
"You must indeed be blind," returned 
Edward, " if you cannot see what a tremen- 
dous advantage those three months will give 
you. She will think I have forgotten her." 

Paul did not think so, yet he wondered 
that Edward could face such a possibility. 
After all, did this cold-blooded fellow really 
care for her ? Surely not as he did. 

"I cannot live without her," he cried in 
his stormy way, " and perhaps you can." 

" Yes," replied Edward slowly, " I can live 
without her. Perhaps I should be no good 
to her. If only she is happy ! If she takes 
you — and I cannot say that I wish that — it 



232 THE EEPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

must be as Heaven pleases — I shall forget 
this, I shall try to be her friend — yes, and 
yours. It is something to have kno^yn her, 
more to have loved her. Heaven bless her I 
Till three months then." 

He was gone. 

Paul was touched. The pendulum of his 
impetuous nature swung to the other ex- 
treme. He could not have yielded that ad- 
vantage, and he thought that if Alice took 
Edward she would take the better man. He 
remembered what a golden strand his cousin's 
friendship had woven in his lonely childhood 
and through all his life. A thousand for- 
gotten things revived in his memory ; he 
thought what a good fellow Edward was I 
what days they had had together ! He knew 
that not every man had such a friend, and 
few women such a lover. And a vag;ue fore- 
bodincf warned him that the life-Ions^ com- 
radeship would never be renewed. At last 
he turned to go back to the house, and 
met a maid tripping over the turf with a 
note. "From Mr. Eickman, sir," she said. 



STOKM. 233 

He opened it with a pre-occupied air and 
read : 

"The infant Annesley died this morning. 

" G. E." 

He was now the actual heir of Gledes- 
worth. The present owner was incapable of 
making a will. 

" Poor little fellow ! " he exclaimed ; " poor 
baby ! poor young mother ! " 

Then he went in to convey the weighty 
tidings to Mrs. Annesley. 

Edward was now on his way home with a 
heavy weight on his heart, thinking that the 
two best things in his life, his love and his 
friendship, had been broken at one blow. 



PART I I I. 



CHAPTER I. 

LIGHT AND SHADE. 

It was a dark day in May, one of those 
weird, poetic days, full of purple shadows 
broken by bursts of hazy sun-gold, in which 
the most lovely and capricious of months 
hides its youth and freshness under a gloom 
borrowed from autumn as if in sport. 

Mysterious folds of gloom were woven 
about the downs ; great masses of purple and 
umber shade floated solemnly over the level 
lands below them ; the hills on the horizon 
borrowed an adventitious grandeur from these 
broad cloud shadows, and from the dark haze 
swathed about their flanks ; the level band of 
sea, where the hills suddenly broke away 
from the shore, was dark, dream-like and 
lif^hted bv fitful o^leams of a*old ; here and 



238 THE REPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

there, wlien a rift in the heavy clouds let 
the sunshine through in a long, misty shaft, 
an unexpected field, cottage or village tower 
shone out from the surrounding haze, only 
to fade into the warm gloom again with a 
most magical effect ; the dense dark woods, 
which looked autumnal in the shadow, smiled 
now and again under the sun-bursts into the 
exquisitely varied tints of fresh May foliage. 

On such a day nightingales sing in the 
stillness of the shadowy woods, and now and 
then blackbirds interrupt them with their 
flute-notes, while larks keep fluttering up- 
wards with sudden torrents of sono\ On 
such a day the cuckoo is less persistent in 
his merry defiance, and doves moan continu- 
ally in fragrant fir-woods. 

The square and solid tower of Arden 
church looked darker and grrander beneath 
the deep cloud-piled sky, a solemn shadow 
brooded over the thatched roofs and stone 
walls of the cottages, over the grey gables of 
Arden Manor, and the dark-tiled Parsonao'e 
roof. From the church tower there liuno- in 

o 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 239 

rarely-stirred folds a flag, half-mast high ; 
one or two were shown in the village ; the 
throb of the slow-pulsed knell vibrated upon 
the quiet air. Eaysh Squire was once more 
exercising his melancholy function in the 
chill darkness of the belfrey, whither even 
on the brightest summer days a wandering 
sunbeam rarely strayed, and then only in 
slender, half-dimmed rods. Eaysh yawned ; 
he had been pulling his rope for a good hour, 
and, in spite of his firm conviction that only 
such art as he had acquired in a life-long ex- 
ercise of his craft could do justice to a funeral 
knell, and that such art did not reside in any 
mortal arm within ten miles of Arden, he 
sorely wanted to see and hear all that was 
going on outside in the thronged churchyard, 
and continually asked for information of the 
little grandchild he had stationed at the door, 
which stood slightly ajar for the purpose. 

" Baint 'em come yet ? " he kept repeating, 
with impatience ; and the little one always 
said, " No ; only the live ones is come." 

A low murmur of voices rose from the 



210 THE KEPROACH OP ANNESLEY. 

village and hummed under the very walls of 
the church ; the landlord of the Golden 
Horse moved about with a sort of melan- 
cholv exultation irradiatincr his wooden 
visage, and gave up counting the maze of 
vehicles drawn up under the sycamore-trees 
before his door in an agreeable despair ; while 
his wife and daughter flew hither and thither 
with crimson faces and panting chests, in the 
vain attempt to be in five places at once and 
the still vainer endeavour to discriminate 
between the numerous orders heaped upon 
them, until the landlady became " that 
harled," as she expressed it, that she relieved 
her feelings by dealing a sounding box on 
the ear of the astounded and unoffending 
stable-help, thus completely scattering what 
remained of his harried wits ; after that she 
felt better, though it cost her a solid, silver 
shilling. 

The whole of Arden village, gentle and 
simple, every one who was not too old or too 
ill, was about the churchyard or along the 
road ; extreme youth was no bar to coming 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 2U 

out, since it could be carried in arms, whence 
it occasionally expressed loud dissatisfaction 
at the lot of man, not knowing how soon it 
would be quieted once and for all in the 
silence whence it came. Everybody wore a 
bit of black ribbon or crape, and every face 
expressed that quiet enjoyment which the 
British lower classes experience only at a 
funeral. 

"Where there's one death in a family 
there's sure to be three avore the year's 
out," one kind-faced matron observed to 
another with unction. 

"Zure enough," replied the other in an 
awed voice, " but taint every day there's such 
a sad death as this yere. My master, he zes 
there's trouble for everybody holding Gledes- 
worth lands, and there ain't no o'oins^ aG;en it 

' O O CD 

no more than Scripture. Bide still, Billy, my 
dear ; don't ee pull sister's hair now." 

The national temperament, seen pure and 

unadulterated only in the lower classes, 

delights chiefly in the dismal ; it may be 

that the countrymen of Shakspeare and 

VOL. I. 16 



242 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

Milton have a natural bias for tragedy ; it 
may be that strong and deep natures can 
only be moved by strong and deep things, 
such as the dark mysteries of death and 
sorrow. At all events the light and bright 
things that set other Europeans laughing and 
dancing, too frequentl}" move our sober folk 
only to a sort of wondering contempt. 

Presently a dark procession was seen wind- 
ing slowly between the cottage flower-gardens ; 
the vicar, a solitary and conspicuous figure 
in his white surplice, issued from the deep- 
arched door and w^alked slowly down to the 
lych-gate, to meet the solemn and silent guest 
with words of immortal hope ; a touching 
custom, which seems like the welcome home 
of a son, never more to leave the fatherly- 
roof. 

Then the occupants of the carts and car- 
riages emptied and drawn up before the 
Golden Horse, arranged themselves in fit 
order with those who had followed the 
hearse over the downs all the way from 
distant Gledesworth, and the silent and un- 



LiaET AND SHADE. 243 

conscious centre of all the lugubrious j^omp 
was lifted on to tlie broad slioulders of ei^ht 
stalwart labourers, in white smocks, blue 
Sunday trousers and broad felt hats, and 
borne silently after the welcoming priest into 
the dim church, which was already half-full 
of women in black (for the men were nearly 
all following), and where the air was tremulous 
with the wail of the Funeral March from the 
organ. 

There were no breaking hearts and stream- 
ing eyes at this burial ; those who had loved 
the man lying beneath the violet velvet pall 
were gone to their long home, and he who 
walked as chief mourner behind him, Paul 
Annesley, had never known him. But there 
were tears in Paul Annesley's eyes ; his face 
was pale with feeling and his heart ached 
within him with pity for the man he had 
never seen, who for ten weary years had been 
a captive, strange to all the joys of life, dead 
to all its interests and affections, exchanoincr 
no rational word with his fellow-men, and 
seeing the face of none who loved him. Yet 

16=^ 



244 THE EEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

thougli it was well that the darkness of death 
should close upon this terrible affliction, the 
pity of it struck keen to the heart of the 
man who inherited the possessions which had 
been so valueless to their owner, and the fact 
that all the lands they had traversed that 
morning, the very land out of which that 
small field reserved for God and the poorest 
of men were taken, belonged to him, made 
that darkened and silenced life seem the more 
pitiful to the heir, standing above the coffin 
in the flower of his youth. 

Paul had been discontented with his lot, 
and now one hiodier than he had ever dreamed 
of was his. He was in some sort the lord of 
all that following of tenantry who packed the 
church aisles and throno-ed the churchvard in 
silent homage to the poor dead maniac. His 
sudden good-fortune touched his heart to the 
core, made it ache with compassion for his 
unknown kinsman, and pierced it with a sense 
of his own defects. Dr. Davis, his former 
successful rival, stood not far off, having come 
uninvited out of respect to the dead man, or 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 243 

ratlier to his position. Their relative posi- 
tions were indeed changed, and Paul was 
ashamed of his former jealous3\ Gervase 
Eickman was there as steward to the estate ; 
the broad-faced, hearty-voiced farmers who 
yesterday might employ him or not as they 
chose, were to-day his tenants ; their manner 
to him had changed already. He was still 
actually the parish doctor ; only two nights 
ago he rode over the bleak downs to help 
Daniel Pink's wife in her trouble, Daniel 
Pink, who, though not on the home farm, 
represented his father, now too feeble for the 
service, as a bearer. 

There was little air in the dim, massive 
church, where the heavy arches rested on 
low, solid piers of immense girth ; it was ob- 
structed by old-fashioned square pews ; the 
light came dimly through the deep, small- 
paneil windows, many of which, stained riclil}', 
broke the white daylight in various colours 
over the stone effigies of former Annesleys, 
couched there with lance and helm in per- 
petual prayer. The musty odour of the 



246 THE REPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

unsunned church was stifling ; the monoton- 
ous voice of the clergyman fell sadly upon 
the ear, echoed by Eaysh Squire's still more 
monotonous church falsetto, complaining of 
the brevity of man's stay upon earth and its 
sadness ; these things, and the strangeness of 
the thoughts which came upon him as he 
stood in a position to which he was not born, 
and which was -yet his by birth, so wrought 
on Paul that he could scarcely remain there, 
and was glad when the rite in the church was 
done, and they came out into the free air 
again, and the buzz of low voices died away 
before them. 

A sun-burst fell upon the violet pall ; it 
lighted the white smocks of the bearers, the 
weathered stonework of the church, the deli- 
cate green of the elms where rooks were caw- 
ino", and glorified the faces of the crowd. 
Paul wondered how his turn of fortune would 
work on Alice ? It would be nothino- without 
her, and though he now contrasted his posi- 
tion with Edward's triumphantl}', he would 
gladly have exchanged with him, or sunk 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 247 

back into the struo^c^lino^ and unsuccessful 
parish doctor, if he could but win Alice. 

People looked with wondering interest at 
the pale face, so familiar to most of them 
under such different associations, for the most 
part with harmless envy of one on whom 
Fortune had so suddenly smiled, otherwise 
not without a vague pity. There were whis- 
pers of the mysterious doom which clung to 
the owner of Gledes worth, and speculations 
as to this man's fate. Would he too go down 
to the grave, unmourned by a son of his 
blood, not knowing who should gather the 
riches he left behind him ? 

Many, nay most of the tenants remembered 
Eeginald Annesley before his great affliction 
had sundered him from his fellow-men, some 
of them remembered old kindnesses and genial 
words, all were touched with an awed pity, 
which was the deeper because they did not 
know that no blind Fate, but youthful excess, 
developing a hereditary tendency, was the 
true cause of his long affliction. Especially 
was this the feeling of the simple-hearted men 



24 S THE EEPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

who bore their master and friend to his tomb 
To them his solitary following of one unknown 
kinsman was all the more striking because of 
the large retinue which surrounded him ; they 
thought of the sad life of which this was the 
close, and their hearts went out in strong 
pity ; they listened to Job's lament over the 
sorrow and brevity of man's life, mingled 
with the terrible cry that was wrung from 
ISTotker's awestruck heart a thousand years 
ago, when the falling of a bridge crushed so 
many strong lives out before his eyes, with a 
deep sense of the pathos of human destiny. 
Daniel Pink, the shepherd, looked up and 
caught the intense glance of Paul's eyes, and 
pitied him too, he knew not why. 

Daniel Pink did not envy any man ; if he 
had been offered any other lot than his own, 
he would probably have refused it. Por he 
had all that man needs, the warm affections 
of a home that his own strong arms main- 
tained, and a plain path of daily duty marked 
out before him ; he walked upon an earth full 
of meaning and beauty, and looked up to an 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 249 

infinite heaven of majesty and wonder. Ilis 
heart was touched with pity both for the rich 
man they were laying in his tomb, his father's 
master, and for the young heir who stood hv- 
ing before him. 

Only when the last words of prayer and 
blessing were said, the last rites done, and 
they turned away from the vault, the reality 
of his changed fortune came home to Paul, 
and with it a new sense of human responsi- 
bility, and especially his own. Yearnings for 
a better life came to him on the brink of that 
dark vault ; he resolved to be worthy of the 
gifts suddenly heaped upon him. How mean 
his past life seemed in the light of these new 
aspirations ! 

So he thought as he left the churchyard 
leading on his arm the widow of young 
Heginald Annesley, and the mother of the 
dead baby, who, like himself, had never seen 
the elder Eecfinald. One of his first duties 
would be to make her a liberal provision ; 
for, owing to unforeseen circumstances and 
the reversal of natural order in the untimely 



250 THE KEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

deatlis of lier husband and child, scarcely 
anything had fallen to her share. There 
was even a pathos in the fact that this dead 
man had carefully entailed his estates, but 
vainly since his issue failed and his lands 
passed immediately to an unknown heir- 
at-law. 

Mrs. Walter Annesley was in the church, 
veiled in crape, with a handkerchief to her 
eyes, yet by no means consumed with grief. 
She had indeed one cause of sorrow in the 
fact that Paul's inheritance had fallen to him 
so early that he had not time to appreciate 
the sacrifice she made to pay his debts. She 
was thinking of the new lord of Gledesworth, 
and wishing that Alice, who was sitting un- 
seen at the organ, would meditate on the 
same theme. 

" Let us fly from this dismal place, Alice," 
cried Sibyl in the afternoon ; " of all the 
humbuo's in this humbuCToino' world, funerals 
are the greatest and most dismal. I will not 
have any fuss made about me when I am 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 251 

dead, remember that. I am so glad Paul is 
turned into a little prince. I never realized 
it till to-day. I suppose lie will be too grand 
to come to the Manor now." 

" Do you want to get rid of him, Sibyl ? " 

" I ? Oh ! my dear, he does not come to 
see me,'' replied Sibyl with an air of raillery 
apparently lost on Alice, who was busy 
arranmno^ Hubert's collar so as to leash him. 
But Sibyl was not easily extinguished, and 
when they had gone a little way through the 
fields she returned to the charge. 

" I am sure that he was not happy, Alice," 
she said with a mysterious air ; " there was a 
secret canker at the root of everything, and 
I believe it was want of money." 

"If you are alluding to Daniel Pink," 
replied Alice with a little smile, "he is the 
most contented fellow I know, and though his 
large family does make him poor " 

"Alice, how provoking you are. Pink 
indeed ! " 

As they were setting forth expressly to 
visit Pink's wife and welcome the ninth baby. 



252 THE KEPEOACH OF ANKESLEY, 

Alice explained that it was most natural to be 
thinking of him. 

" As if people could think of anybody but 
the new little king," replied Sibyl ; " I feel 
quite set up myself. Do look round, Alice, 
and realize that all this belongs to Paul 
Annesley, this very turf we are walking on 
and our own dear Arden Manor down there 
by the church. I suppose he could turn us 
out if he chose, we are a kind of vassals. I 
almost wish he would, Arden is so very dull ; 
don't you ? " 

"You are growing restless again. Is this 
philosophic ? " asked Alice, placing the basket 
she was carrying to the shepherd's wife on the 
ground and resting her arms on a gate half- 
way up the down. 

"No; it's human. Yes, I am restless. 
I want- — oh, I want — everything ! " cried 
Sibyl, 

Alice took the bright face in her hands, 
and kissed it. " You are a little fool, Sibbie," 
she said gently, " a dear little fool. Write 
some more verses, it always does you good. 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 253 

I am not sure that a good whipping would 
not be the best thing." 

" JSTo doubt," rephed Sibyl, while she lifted 
her head and crazed on the solemn fields and 
hills over which the great cloud-shadows were 
slowly sailing in larger and larger masses, 
thus leaving- rarer intervals of sun-lioiit, as if 
she were looking in vain for happiness. " Do 
you think, Alice, it will be always like this ? 
Quiet Arden, Eaysh ringing the bells, the 
garden, the dairy, a day's shopping at Med- 
ington, an occasional visitor, Mrs. Pink's 
annual baby, the choir-practice, and Horace 
Merton coming home from Oxford and worry- 
ing the vicar ? " 

Alice looked thoughtfully at Sibyl's pretty 
wistful face and wondered " who he was ? " 
Surely not young Merton himself, the vicar's 
troublesome prodigal, whom she had seen 
that . morning, the only uninterested person 
durino; the funeral, at full leno-th in a ham- 
mock under the vicaraije trees, studving; 
French literature in yellow paper covers, in 
obedience to his father's request that he 



254 TEE EEPEOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

should "read a little" during his enforced 
absence from Oxford ; an absence connected 
with the unauthorized introduction of a 
monkey to the apartments of a Don, as poor 
Mr. Merton understood. This young gentle- 
man haunted the Manor with the persistence 
of an ancestral ghost, and was not without 
his good points, in spite of the monkey 
incident ; yet though Sibyl diligently snubbed 
him, as she did all her victims as soon as the 
nature of their malady became apparent, no 
one could say when and in whose person the 
fated man might appear. 

" Perhaps there will be a change for us," 
Alice said ; " Mrs. Pink may not go on having 
babies for ever, and Horace Merton will not 
be sent down more than once again. And 
some day Eaysh will be ringing the bells for 
your wedding." 

" What a trivial notion ! Can't you 
originate something a httle less common- 
place ? " 

" Well ! for mine then. I am sure that is a 
new idea. Then you would get rid of me." 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 255 

"I doivt know," replied Sibyl, "I don't 
think you would go very far." 

" Dear Sibbie, you are more sibylline than 
usual. I can't see the point of the innuendo, 
unless you mean me to elope with Eaysh," 
said Alice, pursuing her way tranquilly with 
the basket in her hand. 

"I do think you are stone-blind," con- 
tinued Sibyl, in a graver tone. " My dear, 
don't you know what everybody else knows 
or has known for the last few weeks, that 
that poor fellow's happiness hangs upon your 
breath ? " 

Alice grew hot, and made a movement of 
impatience ; then she asked Sibyl to speak 
plainly and leave the subject. 

" He is really such a good fellow, and it 
would make us all so happy to have you 
near, and you would make him so happy. 
And his mother wishes it, she even asked me 
to try to bring it on." 

" Oh ! " returned Alice, with a sigh of 
relief, " in strict confidence, I suppose. Miss 
Sib. A pretty conspirator she chose when 



256 THE EEPPvOACn OF ANNESLEY. 

she liglited upon you. You sweet goose, if 
you must needs amuse yourself with match- 
making, 3^ou could not hit upon a worse plan 
than to show your hand." 

" But, Alice, do be serious " 

" Dear child, I am serious, and I wish you 
to understand once for all that it is a mis- 
take, and to help me spare him the pain of a 
direct refusal. I saw it all months ago, and 
have done my best to put a stop to it. I 
even thouo^ht of 2foino^ awav for a time." 

" It is in your power to make him so 
happy," said Sibyl pathetically. "You 
might grow to care for him in time, you 
know.", 

" Never," she answered. " I could never — 
in any case — have cared for a man of that un- 
controlled disposition — even supposing " 

" Supposing what ? " Sibyl asked with a 
keen look. 

" Oh ! nothing. I mean, even if I loved him, 
I could never be happy with such a man. I 
am like my mother. I saw her misery, Sibyl, 
child as I was. There was that in my poor 



LICtHT and shade. 257 

father which made her feel hmi her inferior — 
it is not for me to speak of his faults. If I 
once found what I could not respect in a man, 
I could not live with him. I have a sort of 
pride " 

" But, Alice," interrupted Sibyl quickly, 
" if you cannot respect Paul Annesley, whom 
then can you respect ? " 

" Oh, I beg his pardon," replied Alice, her 
breath taken away by this sudden indignation ; 
"I spoke widely. Of course I respect our old 
and true friend Paul. But a husband — that 
is different — it is something stronger and 
deeper than respect, it is reverence that a 
husband compels." 

" And what can you not reverence in l)r. 
Anne»ley ? " asked Sibyl with such remorse- 
less persistence, that Alice began to wonder 
if Paul Annesley could be the name of him 
who had troubled her friend's peace of mind. 

" He is at the mercy of his own impulses," 
she said. 

" And they are always good," pursued Sibyl 
vindictively. 

VOL. I. 17 



258 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

" You say a bold thing, when you 
say that of any human being, Sibyl. No, I 
can onl}^ give my deepest reverence to the 
man who is master of himself. ' Give me 
the man that is not passion's slave.' I can 
value this one as a friend, but — no nearer. 
No one knows what is in Paul Annesley ; any 
turn of fate mav brino* him into a totally 
opposite direction ; he might do anything. 
I tell you in the very strictest confidence 
what I would tell no other human beina I 
tremble for him now ; he will never be the 
same again, now that his circumstances are 
so changed, and what he will be. Heaven 
alone knows. As you sav, he has o-ood ini- 
pulses, but what are they without a guiding 
principle and a compelling will ? " 

" And vou alone can uive his life a ri<^ht 
direction,'' urued ^ibvl. '' Oh, Alice ! think 
what it is to hold this man's fate in your 
hands ! " 

"And what if I hold another " She 

stopped short and coloured. " Dear Sibyl, 
you are indeed a staunch friend," she added 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 269 

in a gentler voice. " If he could win you 
now — a heart is so easily caught at the 
rebound." 

" There will be no rebound," replied Sibyl, 
in so even a voice that Alice was sure of the 
Platonic nature of her regard for Paul., 
" The kind of malady you inspire, you dear 
creature, is incurable. People soon get over 
the slight shocks I administer, but you are 
fatal." 

Alice smiled tenderly upon Sibyl, but made 
no rejoinder, and they walked on noiselessly 
over the rich turf, deep in thought. Sibyl's 
regard for Alice had, as the other well knew, 
something of worship ; her ardent nature in- 
vested her friendships with a romantic enthu- 
siasm that sometimes made her calmer friend 
smile and often called forth a gentle rebuke 
from her. Perhaps Alice's affection for the 
younger and more impetuous girl was as strong 
as Sibyl's, though it expressed itself less pas- 
sionately, and had a strong dash of maternal 
compassion. Nothing had ever come between 
them since they had first met, two shy 



260 THE REPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

stranger girls of thirteen in the porch of 

Arden Manor, and instantly lost their shyness 

in the fellow-feeling it engendered between 

them. 

The first bar was to come that day. It 

happened in Daniel Pink's solitary thatched 

cottage, which was built in a nest-like hollow 

under the down. The girls entered the low 

porch, like the welcome guests they were, 

and sat in the dim smoke-blackened room, 

handling and discussing the ninth little Pink 

by turns, while the shepherd looked on with 

a pleased face, with the deposed baby in his 

arms and two chubby children a little older 

clinging to his knees. 

" Look at the heft of 'n," said the proud 
father, " entirely drags ye down. Miss Sibyl, 
'e do." 

" I wouldn't carry him a mile for a for- 
tune," Sibyl replied, kissing the little red 
fist, " not for all the lands of Gledesworth, 
Shepherd." 

" I 'lows you wouldn't. Miss. Dr. Annesley 
have took a heavy weight on the shoulders 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 261 

of 'ii. A many have been bowed down by 
riches, a many, as I've a yerd zay." 

" And many have been crushed b}- 
poverty," Alice said. 

" Zure enough. 'Taint fur we to zay what's 
good for us, Miss Alice. A personable man, 
but a doesn't come up to the Captain, the 
doctor doesn't." 

" The Captain ? " asked Alice, wondering. 

" Oh ! he is only a lieutenant. You mean 
Lieutenant Annesley, don't you, Master 
Pink ? " said the ready Sibyl. 

" When I zeen he and joii walking together, 
Miss Lingard," continued the shepherd 
gravely, " I zes to mezelf, I zes, ' Marriages 
is made in Heaven,' I zes. And Mam Gale, 
she zays " 

" Oh ! Master Pink, you won't forget about 
the seedlings, will you ? " cried Alice, start- 
ing up. " It is getting so late. We have 
stayed too long." 

And with hasty farewells Alice left the 
cottaofe, foro'ettincf the basket and leavino- 
Sibyl to foUow more leisurely. She walked 



262 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

SO fast that she had reached the gate at the 
end of the field through which the cottage 
was approached before Sibyl had left the 
garden, and waited for her there, with flushed 
cheeks. Sibyl's ready tongue was unaccount- 
ably tied when she joined her ; a strange pain 
was crnawing at her heart, and Alice's 
attempts at commonplace chat did not 
succeed. 

" I can't help thinking that this same Mr. 
Edward Annesley might just as well write to 
us, Alice," she said at last. " That little note 
to mother the day after he left was the 
briefest formality." 

"Perhaps," replied Alice, who had now 
regained her self-possession, " he thinks the 
same of us. You can scold him when he 



comes." 



" But will he come ? " asked Sibyl, with 
such eagerness that Alice stopped on her way 
and looked with sudden misgiving into 
Sibyl's dark ardent eyes and read all. 

"Sibyl," she said, "oh! Sibyl!" and she 
tried to draw her nearer ; but Sibyl pushed 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 263 

her back with a look Alice had never seen 
before, and walked on in silence. ' 

In the first bitter flood of jealous agony 
that surged into her heart Sibyl felt capable of 
hating her friend ; then the mortifying me- 
mory of her self-deception made her so hot 
with self-contempt that every other feeling 
was swallowed up in it, and she longed for 
the earth to open and hide her away for 
ever. It seemed as if she had better never 
have been born than make so dreadful a 
blunder at the very threshold of life ; she 
thought she could never endure to live 
any more. Then things came back to her 
memory, little insignificant details which 
had passed unobserved at the time, but 
which now showed the general meaning of 
the whole story, just as the festal lights 
reveal the general outlines of a building, 
and -she saw clearly how things stood 
between Edward and Alice. How could 
it have been otherwise ? She felt the 
charm of Alice too deeply herself to wonder 
that she should have been preferred. It 



264 THE REPROACH OF ANNESLEY. 

was inevitable that those two shoukl choose 
each other. But for her everything had 
come to a full stop. " Entbehren sollst du," 
was the message the woods and fields and 
sea had for her that day ; it was written in 
the deep cloud-piled sky, and in the solemn 
shadows about the hills ; the rooks, sail- 
ing home in stately chanting procession, 
reminded her of it, and the blackbirds, 
fluting mournfully down in the copses, 
repeated it ; even the lark, fluttering up- 
wards with the beginning of a song, and 
dropping back into silence, had the same 
meaning in his music. 

She paused and allowed Alice to come up 
with her, and seeing that she had been crying, 
kissed her with a sort of passion. 

" Do vou remember the dav you first came 
to Arden, Alice ? " she said, " when I found 
you cr5dng in ^^our room after we were sent 
to bed ? " 

" And you comforted me, and we agreed 
always to be friends." 

" And now mv crossness has made vou cry, 



LIGHT AND SHADE. 265 

you poor dear ! And you are dearer to me 
than anybody in the whole universe." 

" Sibyl ! " 

" And there is Gervase out by the ricks 
wondering why we are so late. Let us make 
haste home." 

Then Gervase cauoiit sioiit of them and 
came to meet them, scolding; them both with 
fraternal impartiality for being so late. He 
had lately taken to living in rooms at Med- 
ington to save time in going and coming 
from business, and now expected to be 
treated as a guest in his frequent visits to 
Arden. 

He looked at Sibyl and saw that some- 
thing was wrong ; and Alice looked at the 
brother and sister with a sort of remorse. 
In spite of Gervase's well-acted brotherliness, 
she was not sure that she had not driven him 
from his home, and now she had done some- 
thing worse to his sister ; all this was a poor 
requital to the family in which she had been 
received, a lonely child. The question now 
arose, how should she set these wrongs rioiit ? 
VOL. 1. 18 



266 THE REPKOACH OF ANNESLEY. 

How could slie stand alone against the iron 
strength of Fate ? 

This helplessness completely crushed her 
spirits ; she slipped away to the solitude of 
her own room under the pretext of fatigue, 
and sat musing long at the open lattice. 

Gervase in the meantime had taken his 
violin, and, leaning against the great apple-tree, 
whence the blossom was now almost gone, 
drew his bow across the strings so that they 
made an almost human cr}^ a sound that 
never failed to brino' Sybil to his side, and she 
came out and sat in the seat beneath him, 
while he played on in silence strains so 
mournful and so tender that they drew 
the over-charge of feeling from her heart 
and the refreshing tears to her eyes, till 
the " Entbehren sollst du, sollst entbehren," 
which the lark and the breezes sano- to her 
in the afternoon, seemed the sweetest re- 
frain in the world. 

While he pla3'ed, a series of pictures rose 
before Ger vase's mind, pictures in which he 
saw himself bathing by continual thrusts the 



LIG-HT AND SHADE. ' 267 

fate which to AHce seemed so invincible, 
until he had bound Edward to his sister, and 
Alice to himself. 

Alice heard the music from her window, 
and it drew tears from her eyes. 



END OF VOL. I. 



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