Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2009 with funding from
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
"THE CHRONICLES OF CARLINGFORD,"
"THE CUCKOO IN THE NEST,"
IN THREE VOL LMES.
F. V. WHITE & Co.,
31, SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, W.C.
[ALL RIGHTS KESERrED]
TILLOTSON AND SON, BULTUN,
LONDON, NEW YORK, AND BERLIN.
CHAPTER I .
It was perhaps a very good thing for Bee at
this distracting and distracted moment of her
Hfe, that her mother's illness came in to fill
up every thought. Her own little fabric of
happiness crumbled down about her ears like
a house of cards, only as it was far more
deeply founded and strongly built, the down-
fall was with a rumbling that shook the earth
and a dust that rose up to the skies. Heaven
was blurred out to her by the rising clouds,
and all the earth was full of the noise, like an
earthquake, of the falling walls. She could
not get that sound out of her ears even in
VOL. II. B
2 THE SORCERESS.
Mrs. Kingsward's sick room, where the quiet
was preternatural, and everybody spoke in
the lowest tone, and every step was hushed.
Even then it went on roaring, the stones and
the rafters flying, the storms of dust and ruin
blackening the air, so that Bee could not but
wonder that nobody saw them, that the
atmosphere was not thick and stifling with
those debris that were continually falling
about her own ears. For everything was
coming down ; not only the idol and the
shrine he abode in, but heaven and earth, in
which she felt that no truth, no faith, could
dwell any longer. Who was there to believe
in ? Not any man if not Aubrey ; not any
goodness, any truth, if not his — not anything!
For it was without object, without warning,
for nothing at all, that he had deserted her, as
if it had been of no importance : with the Ink
not dry on his letter, with her name still
upon his lips. A great infidelity, like a great
faith, is always something. It is tragic, one
of the awful events of life in which there is,
or may be, fate ; an evil destiny, a terrible
chastisement prepared beforehand. In such
a case one can at least feel one's self only a
THE SORCERESS. 3
great victim, injured by God himself and the
laws of the universe, though that was not the
common fashion of thought then, as it is
now-a-days. But Bee's downfall did not mean
so much as that it was not intended by any-
one — not even by the chief worker in it. He
had meant to hold Bee fast with one hand
while he amused himself with the other.
Amused himself — oh, heaven ! Bee's heart
seemed to contract with a speechless spasm
of anguish and rage. That she should be of
no more account than that ! Played with as
if she were nobody — the slight creature of a
moment. She, Bee ! She, Colonel Kings-
ward's daughter !
At first the poor girl went on in a mist of
self - absorption, through which everything
else pierced but dully, wrapped up and hidden
in it as in the storm which would have arisen
had the house actually fallen about her ears,
perceiving her mother through it, and the
doctor, and all the accessories of the scene —
but dimly, not as if they were real. When,
however, there began to penetrate through
this, strange words, with strange meanings
in them: "Danger" — danger to whom? —
4 THE SORCERESS.
'* Strength failing" — but whose strength ? — a
dull wonder came in, bringing her back to
other thoughts. By-and-by, Bee began to
understand a little that it was of her mother
of whom these things were being said. Her
mother ? But it was not her mother's house
that had fallen ; what did it mean ? The
doctor talked apart with Moulsey, and
Moulsey turned her back, and her shoulders
heaved, and her apron seemed to be put to
her eyes. Bee, in her dream said, half aloud,
"Danger?" and both the doctor and Moulsey
turned upon her as if they would have killed
her. Then she was beckoned out of the
room, and found herself standing face to face
with that grave yet kindly countenance which
she had known all her life, in which she
believed as in the greatest authority. She
heard his voice speaking to her through all
the rumbling and downfall.
'' You must be very courageous," it said,
*'You are the eldest, and till your father
comes home "
What did it matter about her father coming
home, or about her being the eldest ? What
had all these things to do with the earth-
THE SORCERESS. 5
quake, with the failure of truth, and meaning,
and everything in life ? She looked at him
blankly, wondering if it were possible that he
did not hear the sound of the great falling,
the rending of the walls, and the tearing of
the roof, and the choking dust that filled all
earth and heaven.
'' My dear Beatrice," he said, for he had
known her all his life, " you don't understand
me, do you, my poor child ?"
Bee shook her head, looking at him wist-
fully. Could he know anything more about
it, she wondered — anything that had still to
be said ?
He took her hand, and her poor little hand
was very cold with emotion and trouble.
The good doctor, who knew nothing about
any individual cause little Bee could have for
agitation, thought he saw that her very being
was arrested by a terror which as yet her
intelligence had not grasped ; something
dreadful in the air which she did not under-
stand. He drew her into the dining-room,
the door of which stood open, and poured
out a little wine for her. " Now, Bee," he
said, " no fainting, no weakness. You must
b THE SORCERESS.
prove what is in you now. It is a dreadful
trial for you, my dear, but you can do a great
deal for your dear mother's sake, as she
would for yours."
" I have never said it was a trial," cried
Bee, with a gasp. '' Why do you speak to
me so .^ Has mamma told you? No one
has anything to do with it but me."
He looked at her with great surprise, but
the doctor was a man of too much experience
not to see that here was something into
which it was better not to inquire. He said,
very quietly, '' You, as the eldest, have no
doubt the chief part to play ; but the little
ones will all depend upon your strength and
courage. Your mother does not herself
know. She is very ill. It will require all
that we can do— to pull her through."
Bee repeated the last words after him with
a scared look, but scarcely any understanding
in her face — *'To pull her — through?"
"Don't you understand me now? Your
mother— has been ill for a long time. Your
father is aware of it. I suppose he thought
you were too young to be told. But now
that he is absent, and your brother, I have
THE SORCERESS. 7
no alternative. Your mother Is In great
danger. I have telegraphed for Colonel
KIngsward, but in the meantime, Bee — child,
don't lose your head ! Do you understand
me ? She may be dying, and you are the
only one to stand by her, to give her
Bee did not look as if she had courage for
anyone at that dreadful moment. She fell
a-trembling from head to foot and fell back
against the wall where she was standing.
Her eyes grew large, staring at him yet
veiled as if they did not see — and she stam-
mered forth at length, "Mother, mother!"
with almost no meaning, in the excess of
misery and surprise.
" Yes, your mother ; whatever else you
may have to think of, she is the first con-
He went on speaking, but Bee did not
hear him ; everything floated around her in a
mist. The scenes at the Bath, the agitations,
Mrs. Kingsward's sudden pallors and flush-
ings, her pretence, which they all laughed at,
of not being able to walk ; her laziness, lying
on the sofa, the giddiness when she made
8 THE SORCERESS.
that one turn with Charlie, she who had
always been so fond of dancing ; the hurry
of bringing her to Kingswarden when Bee
had felt they would have been so much better
in London, and her strange, strange new fancy,
mutely condemned by Bee, of finding the
children too much for her. Half of these things
had been silently remarked and disapproved
of by the daughters. Mamma getting so idle
— self-indulgent almost, so unlike herself!
Had they not been too busily engaged in
their own affairs, Bee and Betty would both
have been angry with mamma. All these
things seem to float about Bee in a mist
while she leaned against the wall and the
doctor stood opposite to her talking. It was
only perhaps about a minute after all, but she
saw waving round her, passing before her
eyes, one scene melting into another, or rather
all visible at once, innumerable episodes —
the whole course of the three months past
which had contained so much. She came
out of this strange whirl very miserable but
" I think it is chiefly my fault," she said,
faltering, interrupting the doctor who was
THE SORCERESS. 9
talking, always talking ; *' but how could I
know, for nobody told me ? Doctor, tell me
what to do now ? You said we should — pull
She gave him a faint, eager, conciliatory
smile, appealing to him to do It. Of course
he could do It ! Tell me — tell me only what
He patted her kindly upon the shoulder.
"That Is right," he said. "Now you
understand me, and I know I can trust you.
There Is not much to do. Only to be quiet
and steady — no crying or agitation.
Moulsey knows everything. But you must
be ready and steady, my dear. Sit by her
and look happy and keep up her courage —
that's the chief thing. If she gives In It Is
all over. She must not see that you are
frightened or miserable. Come, it's a great
thing to do for a little girl that has never
known any trouble. But you are of a
good sort, and you must rise to it for your
Look happy ! That was all she had to do.
''Can't I help Moulsey," she asked. " I
could fetch her what she wants. I could —
lO THE SORCERESS.
go errands for her. Oh, doctor, something a
little easier," cried Bee, clasping her hands,
"just at first!"
"All that's arranged," he said, hastily,
" Come, we must go back to our patient.
She will be wondering what I am talking to
you about. She will perhaps take fright.
No, nothing easier, my poor child — If you
can do that you may help me a great deal ; if
you can't, go to bed, my dear, that will be
She gave him a look of great scorn, and
moved towards her mother's room, leading
Mrs. KIngsward was lying with her face
towards the door, watching, in a blaze of
excitement and fever. Her eyes had never
been so bright nor her colour so brilliant.
She was breathing quickly, panting, with her
heart very audible to herself, pumping in her
ears, and almost audible in the room, so
evident was it that every pulse was at fever
speed. " What have you been telling Bee,
doctor ? What have you been telling Bee ?
What " When she had begun this phrase
it did not seem as if she could stop repeating
it again and again.
THE SORCERESS. II
" I have been telling her that she may sit
with you, my dear lady, on condition of being
very quiet, very quiet," said the doctor. " It's
a great promotion at her age. She has
promised to sit very still, and talk very little,
and hush her mamma to sleep. It is you
who must be the baby to-night. If you can
get a good long quiet sleep, it will do you all
the good in the world. Yes, you may hold
her hand if you like, my dear, and pat it, and
smooth it — a little gentle mesmerism will do
no harm. That, my dear lady, is what I
have been telling Miss Bee."
" Oh, doctor," said ]\Irs. Kingsward, " don't
you know she has had great trouble herself,
poor child ? Poor little Bee ! At her age I
was married and happy ; and here is she,
poor thing, plunged into trouble. Doctor,
you know, there is a — gentleman "
Mrs. Kingsward had raised herself upon
her elbow, and the panting of her breath
filled all the room.
''Another time — another time you shall
tell me all about it. But I shall take ]\Iiss
Bee away, and consign you to a dark room,
and silence, if you say another word "
12 THE SORCERESS.
" Oh, don't make my room dark! I like
the Hght. I want my child. Let me keep
her, let me keep her ! Who should — comfort
her — but her mother?"
" Yes, so long as you keep quiet. If you
talk I will take her away. Not a word — not
a word — till to-morrow." In spite of himself
there was a change in the doctor's voice as
he said that word — or Bee thought so — as if
there might never be any to-morrow. The
girl felt as if she must cry out, shriek aloud,
to relieve her bursting brain, but did not,
overborne by his presence and by the new
sense of duty and self-restraint. ''Come now,"
he went on, " I am very kind to let you have
your little girl by you, holding your hand —
don't you think so ? Go to sleep, both of
you. If you're quite, quite, quiet you'll both
doze, and towards the morning I'll look in
upon you again. Now, not another word.
Bee, whose heart was beating almost as
strongly as her mother's, heard his measured
step withdraw on the soft carpets with a
sense of wild despair, as if the last hope was
going from her. Her inexperienced imagina-
THE SORCERESS. 1 3
tlon had leaped from complete ignorance and
calm to the last possibilities of calmity. She
had never seen death, and what if that
awful presence were to come while she was
alone, Incapable of any struggle, of giving
any help. She listened to the steps getting
fainter in the distance with anguish and
terror unspeakable. She clasped her mother's
hand tightly without knowing it. That only
aid, the only man who could do anything,
was going away — deserting them — leaving
her alone In her Ignorance to stand between
her mother and death. Death ! Every
pulse sprang up and fluttered in mortal
terror. And she was put there to be quiet —
ready and steady, he had said — to look
happy ! Bee kept silent ; kept sitting upon
her chair ; kept down her shriek after him
with a superhuman effort. She could do no
" Listen — he's talking to Moulsey now,"
said Mrs. Kingsward, "about me; they're
always — whispering, about me — telling the
symptoms — and how I am. That Is the
worst of nurses "
''Mamma! Oh, don't talk, don't talk!"
14 THE SORCERESS.
cried Bee ; though she was more comforted
than words can tell by the sound of her
''Whispering: can't you hear them?
About temperature — and things. I can bear
talking — but whispering. Bee — don't you
hear 'em — whis — whispering "
" Oh, mamma," cried Bee, '' I love to
hear you speak ! But don't, don't, don't, or
they'll make me go away."
'• My baby," said the mother, diverted in
her wandering and weakness to a new
subject, "my little thing! He said we
were to go to sleep. Put your head there —
and I'll sing you — I'll sing you — to sleep —
little Bee, little Bee, poor little Bee !"
This night was the strangest in Bee Kings-
ward's life. She had never known what it
was to remain silent and awake in the dark-
ness and warmth of a sick room, which of
itself is a strange experience for a girl, and
shows the young spirit its own weakness, its
craving for rest and comfort, the difficulty of
overcoming the instincts of nature — with
such a sense of humiliation as nothing else
could give. Could you not watch with me
one hour ? She believed that she had lain
awake crying all night when her dream of
happiness had so suddenly been broken in
upon at Cologne ; but now, while she sat by
her mother's side, and the little soft crooning
of the song, which ?^Irs. Kingsward supposed
TO THE SORCERESS.
herself to be singing to put her child to sleep,
sank into a soft murmur, and the poor lady
succeeded in hushing herself into a doze
by this characteristic method. Bee's head
dropped too, and her eyelids closed. Then
she woke, with a little shiver, to see the large
figure of Moulsey like a ghost by the bed,
and struggled dumbly back to her senses,
only remembering that she must not start nor
cry to disturb Mrs. Kingsward, whose quick
breathing filled the room with a sensation of
danger and dismay to which the girl was
sensible as soon as the film of sleep that had
enveloped her was broken. Mrs. Kingsward's
head was thrown back on the pillow ; now
and then a faint note of the lullaby which she
had been singing came from the parted lips,
through which the hot, quick breath came
so audibly. Now and then she stirred in her
feverish sleep. Moulsey stood indistinguish-
able with her back to the light, a mass of
solid shadow by the bedside. She shook her
head. "Sleep's best," she said, in the whisper
which the patient hated. " Sleep's better
than the best of physic." Bee caught those
solid skirts with a sensation of hope, to feel
THE SORCERESS. 1 7
them so real and substantial In her hand.
She did not care to speak, but lifted her face,
pale with alarm and trouble, to the accustomed
nurse. Moulsey shook her head again. It
was all the communication that passed
between them, and it crushed the hope that
was beginning to rise in Bee's mind. She
had thought when she heard the doctor go
away that death might be coming as soon as
his back was turned. She had felt when her
mother fell asleep as if the danger must be
past. Now she sank into that second stage
of hopelessness, when there is no longer any
Immediate panic, when the unaccustomed
intelligence dimly realises that the sufferer
may be better, and may live through the
night, or through many nights, and yet there
may be no real change. Very dim as yet
was this consciousness in Bee's heart, and yet
the first dawning of it bowed her down.
In the middle of the night — after hours so
long ! — more like years, when Bee seemed to
have sat there half her life, to have become
used to it, to be uncertain about every-
thing outside, but only that her mother
lay there more ill than words could say —
VOL. II. c
I 8 THE SORCERESS.
Mrs. KIngsward awoke. She opened her
eyes without any change of position with the
habit of a woman who has been long ill, with-
out acknowledging her illness. It was Moul-
sey who saw a faint reflection of the faint
light in the softly opening eyes, and detected
that little change in the breathing which
comes with returning consciousness. Bee,
with her head leant back upon her chair and
her eyes closed, was dozing again.
" You must take your cordial, ma'am, now
you're awake. You've had such a nice
" Have I ? I thought I was with the
children and singing to baby. Who's this
that has my hand — Bee ? "
" Mamma," cried the girl, with a little
start, and then, " Oh ! I have waked her,
Moulsey, I have waked her!"
*' Is this her litde hand ? Poor litde Bee !
No, you have not waked me, love ; but why,
why is the child here ?"
" The doctor said she might stay — to send
for him if you wanted anything — and — and
to satisfy her."
" To satisfy her, why so, why so? Am I
THE SORCERESS. 1 9
SO bad ? Did he think I would die — in the
'* No, no, no," said Moulsey, standing by
her, patting her shoulder, as if she had been
a fretful child. " What a thing to fancy !
As if he'd have sent the child here for
''No," said the poor lady, "he wouldn't
have sent the child, would he — not the child
— for that — to frighten her ! But Bee must
go to bed. I'm so much better. Go to bed.
Moulsey ; poor Moulsey, never tires, she's so
good. But you must go to bed."
" Oh, mother, let me stay. When you
sleep, I sleep too ; and I'm so much happier
" Happier, are you ? Well — but there was
something wTong. Something had happened.
What was it that happened ? And your
father away ! It never does for anything to
happen when — my husband is away. I've
grown so silly. I never know what to do.
What was it that happened. Bee ?"
'' There was — nothing," said Bee,
with a sudden chill of despair. She had
forgotten everything but the dim bed-
20 THE SORCERESS.
chamber, the faint light, the quick, quick
breathing. And now there came a stab at
her poor Httle heart. She scarcely knew
what it was, but a cut like a knife going to
the very centre of her being. Then there
came the doctor's words, as if they were
written in light across the darkness of the
rooni — " Ready, and steady." She said in a
stronger voice, " You have been dreaming.
There was nothing, mamma."
" Mrs. Kingsward, who had raised herself
on her elbow, sank back again on her pillow.
'' Yes," she said, " I must have been
dreaming. I thought somebody came — and
told us. Dreams are so strange. People
say they're things you'v^e been — thinking of.
But I was not thinking of that — the very last
thing ! Bee, it's a pity — it's a great pity —
when a woman with so many children falls
into this kind of silly, bad health.
'' Oh, mamma," was all that poor Bee
''Oh — let me alone, Moulsey — I want to
talk a little. I've had such a good sleep,
you said ; sometimes — I want to talk, and
Moulsey won't let me — nor your father, and
THE SORCERESS. 21
I have it all here," she said, putting her hand
to her heart, "or here," laying it over her
eyebrows, '' and I never get it out. Let me
talk, Moulsey — let me talk."
Bee, leaning forward, and Moulsey stand-
ing over her by the bedside, there was a
pause. Their eyes, accustomed to the faint
light, saw her eyes shining from the pillow,
and the flush of her cheeks against the white-
ness of the bed. Then, after a while, there
came a little faint laugh, and, "What was I
saying?" Mrs. Kingsward asked. "You
look so big, Moulsey, like the shadows I
used to throw on the wall to please the
children. You always liked the rabbit best.
Bee. Look ! " She put up her hands as if
to make that familiar play upon the wall.
" But Moulsey," she added, "is so big. She
shuts out all the light, and what is Bee doing
here at this hour of the night ? Moulsey,
send Miss Bee to bed."
"Oh, mother, let me stay. You were
going to tell me something."
" Miss Bee, you must not make her talk."
" How like Moulsey ! " said the invalid.
" Make me talk ! when I have wanted so
2 2 THE SORCERESS.
much to talk. Bee, it's horrid to go on In
this silly ill way, when— when one has children
to think of. Your father's always good — but
a man often doesn't understand. About you,
now — if I had been a little stronger, it might
have been different. What was it we heard ?
I don't think it was true what we heard."
" Oh, mamma, don't think of that, now."
"It is so silly, always being ill ! And
there's nothing really the matter. Ask the
doctor. They all say there's nothing really
the matter. Your father — but then he doesn't
know how a woman feels. I feel as if I were
sinking, sinking down through the bed and
the floor and everything, away, I don't know
where. So silly, for nothing hurts me — I've
no pain — except that I always want more
air. If you were to open the window,
Moulsey ; and Bee, give me your hand and
hold me fast, that I mayn't sink away. It's
all quite silly, you know, to think so," she
added, with again a faint laugh.
Bee's eyes sought those of Moulsey with a
terrified question in them ; the great shadow
only slightly shook its head.
*' Do you remember. Bee, the picture — we
THE SORCERESS. 23
saw It in Italy, and I've got a photograph —
where there is a saint lying so sweetly in the
air, with angels holding her up ? They're
flying with her through the blue sky — two at
her head, and other two — and her mantle so
wrapped round her, and she lying, oh ! so
easy, resting, though there's nothing but the
air and the angels. Do you remember.
"Yes, mamma. Oh, mamma, mamma!"
"That's what I should like," said Mrs.
KIngsward ; " it's strange, isn't it ? The
bed's solid, and the house is solid, and
Moulsey there, she's very solid too, and air
isn't solid at all. But there never was any-
body that lay so easy and looked so safe as
that woman in the air. Their arms must be
so soft under her, and yet so strong, you
know ; stronger than your father's. He's so
kind, but he hurries me sometimes ; and soft
— you're soft, Bee, but you're not strong.
You've got a soft little hand, hasn't she,
Moulsey ? Poor little thing ! And to think
one doesn't know what she may have to do
with it before she is like me."
" She'll have no more to do with it, ma'am.
24 THE SORCERESS.
than a lady should, no more than you've
had. But you must be quiet, dear lady, and
try and go to sleep."
*' I might never have such a good chance
of talking to her again. The middle of the
night and nobody here — her father not even
in the house. Bee, you must try never to
begin being ill in any silly way, feeling not
strong and that sort of foolish thing, and
say out what you think. Don't be frightened.
It's — it's bad for him as well as for you. He
get's to think you haven't any opinion. And
then all at once they find out — And,
perhaps, it's too late — ."
'' Mamma, you're not very ill ? Oh, no ;
you're looking so beautiful, and you talk just
as you always did."
" She says am I very ill, Moulsey ? Poor
little Bee ! I feel a great deal better. I had
surely a nice sleep. But why should the
doctor be here, and you made to sit up, you
poor little thing. Moulsey, why is the doctor
" I never said, ma'am, as he was here,
He's coming round first thing in the morn-
ing. He's anxious — because the Colonel's
THE SORCERESS. 25
*' Ah I you think I don't know. I'm not
so very bad ; but he thinks — he thinks —
perhaps I might die. Bee."
'' Mamma, mamma ! "
'* Don't be frightened," said Mrs. Kings-
ward, drawing the girl close to her. ''That's
a secret ; he doesn't think I know. It would
be a curious, curious thing, when people think
you are only ill to go and die. It would
surprise them so. And so strange altogether
— instead of worries, you know, every day,
to be all by yourself, lying so easy and the
angels carrying you. No trouble at all then
to think whether he would be pleased — or
anything ; giving yourself to be carried like
that, like a litde child."
"But mamma," cried Bee, "you could
not, would not leave us — you wouldn't,
would you, mamma ? — all the children, and
me ; and I with nobody else, no one to care
for me. You couldn't, mother, leave us ; you
wouldn't ! Say you wouldn't ! Oh ! Moulsey !
Moulsey ! look how far away she is looking,
as if she didn't see you and me !"
" You forget, Bee," said Mrs. Kingsward,
" How easy it looked for that saint in the
26 THE SORCERESS.
picture. I always liked to watch the birds
floating down on the wind, never moving
their wings. That's what seems no trouble,
so easy ; not too hot nor too cold, nor tiring,
neither to the breath nor anything. I
shouldn't like to leave you. No — But
then :" she added, with a smile, " I should
not require to leave you. I'd — I'd —
What was I saying ? Moulsey, will you
please give me some — more —
She held out her hand again for the glass
which Moulsey had just put down.
"It makes me strong — it makes me speak.
I'm — sinking away again, Bee. Hold me —
hold me tight. If I was to slip away — down
— down — down to the cellars or somewhere."
The feeble laugh was dreadful for the
listeners to hear.
" Run," cried Moulsey, in Bee's ea^ " the
doctor — the doctor! in the library."
And then there was a strange phantasma-
goria that seemed to fill the night, one scene
melting into another. The doctor rousing
from his doze, his measured step coming
back ; the little struggle round the bed ;
Moulsey giving place to the still darker
THE SORCERESS. 2"]
shadow ; the glow of Mrs. Kings ward's
flushed and feverish countenance between ;
then the quiet, and then again sleep — sleep
broken by feeble movements, by the quick
panting of the breath.
" She'll be easier now," the doctor said.
" You must go to bed, my dear young lady.
Moulsey can manage for the rest of the
" Doctor," said Bee, with something in her
throat that stopped the words, " doctor — will
she — must she ? Oh, doctor, say that is not
what it means ? One of us, it would not
matter, but mother — mother !"
''It is not in our hands," the doctor said.
" It is not much we can do. Don't look at
me as if I were God. It is little, little I can
"They say," cried poor Bee, ''that you
can do anything. It is when there is no
doctor, no nurse that people Oh, my
mother — my mother ! Doctor, don't let it
"You are but a child," said the doctor,
patting her kindly on the shoulder, " you've
not forgotten how to say your prayers.
28 THE SORCERESS.
That's the only thing for you to do. Those
that say such things of doctors know very
Httle. We stand and look on. Say your
prayers, little girl — if they do her no good,
they'll do you good. And now she'll have a
Bee caught him by the arm. " Sleep,"
she said, looking at him suspiciously.
" Yes, sleep — that may give her strength
for another day. Oh, ask no more, child.
Life is not mine to give."
What a night ! Out of doors it was moon-
light as serene as heaven — the moon depart-
ing in the west, and another faint light that
was day coming on the other side, and the
first birds beginning to stir in the branches ;
but not even baby moving in the house. All
fast asleep, safe as if trouble never was, as if
death could not be. Bee went upstairs to her
chill, white room, where the white bed, un-
occupied, looked to her like death itself — all
cold, dreadful, full of suggestion. Bee's heart
was more heavy than could be told, She had
nothing to fall back upon, no secret strength
to uphold her. She had forgotten how
THE SORCERESS. 29
wretched she had been, but she felt it, never-
theless, behind the present anguish. Never-
theless, she was only nineteen, and when she
flung herself down to cry upon her white
pillow— only to cry, to get her passion out —
beneficent nature took hold of the girl and
made her sleep. She did not wake for
hours. Was it beneficent ? For when she
was roused by the opening of the door and
sat up in her bed, and found herself still
dressed in her evening frock, with her little
necklace round her throat, there pressed back
upon Bee such a flood of misery and trouble
as she thought did not exist in the world.
"Miss Bee, Miss Bee! Master's come
home. He's been travelling all night — and
I dare not disturb Mrs. Moulsey in Missis's
room ; and he want's to see you this minit,
please. Oh, come, come, quick, and don't
keep the Colonel waiting," the woman said.
Half awakened, but wholly miserable. Bee
sprang up and rushed downstairs to her
father. He came forward to meet her at the
door, frowning and pale.
'' What is this I hear ? " he said. '' What
have you been doing to upset your mother ?
She was well enough when I went away.
What have you been doing to your mother ?
You children are the plague of our lives ! "
The week passed in the sombre hurry yet
tedium of a house lying under the shadow of
death — that period during which when it is
night we long for morning, and when it is
morning we long for night, hoping always
for the hope that never comes, trembling to
mark the progress which does go on silently
towards the end.
Colonel Kings ward was rough and angry
with Bee that first morning, to her consterna-
tion and dismay. She had never been the
object of her father's anger before, and this
hasty and imperious questioning seemed to
take all power of reply out of her. "What
had she been doing to her mother ?" She !
32 THE SORCERESS.
to her mother ! Bee was too much frightened
by his threatening look, the cloud on his face,
the fire in his eyes, to say anything. Her
mind ran hurriedly over all that had hap-
pened, and that last terrible visit, which had
changed the whole aspect of the earth to
herself. But it was to herself that this
stroke of misfortune had come, and not to
her mother. A gleam of answering anger
came into Bee's eyes, sombre with the
unhapplness which had been pushed aside
by more immediate suffering, yet was still
there like a black background, to frame what-
ever other miseries might come after. As
for Colonel Kingsward, it was to him, as to
so many men, a relief to blame somebody for
the trouble which was unbearable. The blow
was approaching which he had never allowed
himself to believe in. He had blamed his
wife instinctively, involuntarily, at the first
hearing of every inconvenience in life ; and
it had helped to accustom him to the annoy-
ance to think that it was her fault. He had
done so in what he called this unfortunate
business of Bee's, concluding that but for
Mrs. Kingsward's weakness, Mr. Aubrey
THE SORCERESS. 33
Leigh and his affairs would never have
become of any importance to the family.
He had blamed her, too, and greatly, for
that weakening of health which he had so
persistently endeavoured to convince himself
did not mean half so much as the doctors
said. Women are so idiotic in these respects.
They will insist on wearing muslin and lace
when they ought to wear flannel. They will
put on evening dresses when they ought to
be clothed warmly to the throat, and shoes
made of paper when they ought to be solidly
and stoutly shod, quite indifferent to the
trouble and anxiety they may cause to their
family. And now that Mrs. Kingsward's
state had got beyond the possibility of
reproach, he turned upon his daughter. It
must be her fault. Her mother had been
better or he should not have left her. The
quiet of the country was doing her good ; if
she had not been agitated all would have
been well. But Bee, with all her declarations
of devotion to her mother ; Bee, the eldest,
who ought to have had some sense ; Bee had
brought on this trumpery love business to
overset the delicate equilibrium which he
VOL. II. D
34 THE SORCERESS.
himself, a man with affairs so much more
Important In hand, had refrained from dis-
turbing. It did him a Httle good, unhappy
and anxious as he was, to pour out his wrath
upon Bee. And she did not reply. She did
not shed tears, as her mother had weakly
done In similar circumstances, or attempt
excuses. Even if he had been sufficiently
at leisure to note it, an answering fire awoke
in Bee's eyes. He had not leisure to note,
but he perceived it all the same.
Presently, however, every faculty, every
thought, became absorbed in that sick
chamber ; things had still to be thought of
outside of It, but they seemed strange,
artificial things, having no connection with
life. Then Charlie was summoned from
Oxford, and the younger boys from school,
which Increased the strange commotion of the
house, adding that restless element of young
life which had no place there, nothing to do
with itself, and which roused an almost
frenzied irritation in Colonel KIngsward when
he saw any attempt on the part of the poor
boys to amuse themselves, or resume their
usual occupations. "Clods!" he said; "young
THE SORCERESS. 35
brutes ! They would play tennis if the world
were falling to pieces." x\nd again that glance
of fire came into Bee's eyes, marked uncon-
sciously, though he did not know he had
seen it, by her father. The boys hung about
her when she stole out for a little air, one at
each arm. " How is mother, Bee .^ She's
no worse ? Don't you think we might go
over to Hillside for that tournament? Don't
you think Fred might play in the parish
match with Siddemore ? They're so badly
off for bowlers. Don't you think "
" Oh, I think it would be much better for
you to be doing something, boys ; but, then,
papa might hear, and he would be angry. If
we could but keep it from papa."
" We're doing mother no good," said Fred.
''How could we do mother good ? Why
did the governor send for us. Bee, only to
kick our heels here, and get into mischief.'^
A fellow can't help getting into mischief
when he has nothing to do."
" Yes," repeated Fred, " what did he send
for us for ? I wish mother was better. I
suppose as soon as she's better we'll be
packed off again."
36 THE SORCERESS.
They were big boys, but they did not
understand the possibility of their mother
not getting better, and, indeed, neither did
Bee. When morning followed morning and
nothing happened, it seemed to her that
getting better was the only conclusion to be
looked for. If it had been Death that was
coming, surely it must have come by this
time. Her hopes rose with every new day.
But Mrs. Kings ward had been greatly
agitated by the sight of Charlie when he was
allowed to see her. " Why has Charlie come
home ?" she said. " Was he sent for ? Was
it your father that brought him ^ Charlie,
my dear, what are you doing here ? Why
have you come back ? You should have
been going on with Did your father
send for you? Why — why did your father
send for you, my boy ?"
" I thought," said Charlie, quite unmanned
by the sight of her, and by this unexpected
question, and by all he had been told about
her state, '' I thought — you wanted to see
" I always like to see you — but not to take
you away from And why was he sent
THE SORCERESS. 2)1
for, Moulsey ? Does the doctor think ? —
does my husband think ?
Her feverish colour grew brighter and
brighter. Her eyes shone with a burning
eagerness. She put her hot hand upon that
of her son. "Was it to say good-bye to
me?" she said, with a strange flutter of a
At the same time an argument on the
same subject was going on between the
doctor and the Colonel.
"What can the children do in a sick
room ? Keep them away. I should never
have sent for them if you had consulted me.
It is bad enough to have let her see Charlie,
summoned express — do you want to frighten
your wife to death .^"
" There can be no question," said the
Colonel, "if what you tell me is true, of
frightening her to death. I think, Benson,
that a patient in such circumstances ought to
know. She ought to be told "
"What?" the doctor said, sharply, with a
harsh tone in his voice.
"What? Do you need to ask? Of her
state — of what is imminent — that she is
going to "
38 THE SORCERESS.
Colonel KIngsward loved his wife truly,
and he could not say those last words.
'' Yes," said the doctor, " going to ? "
Well, we hope it's to One who has called her,
that knows all about it, Kingsward. Doctors
are not supposed to take that view much, but
I do. I'd tell her nothing of the sort. I
would not agitate her either with the sight
of the children or those heathenish thoughts
about dying. Well, I suppose you'll take
your own way, if you think she's in danger of
damnation ; but you see I don't. I think
where she's going she'll find more considera-
tion and more understanding than ever she
" You are all infidels — every one of you,"
said Colonel Kingsward ; " you would let a
soul rush unprepared into the presence of — "
*' Her Father," said Doctor Benson. ''So
I would ; if he's her Father he'll take care of
that. And if he's only a Judge, you know,
a Judge is an extraordinarily considerate
person. He leaves no means untried of
coming to a right decision. I would rather
trust my case in the hands of the Bench than
make up my own little plea any day. And,
THE SORCERESS. 39
anyhow you can put It, the Supreme Judge
must be better than the best Bench that ever
was. Leave her alone. She's safer with H im
than either with you or me."
" It's an argument I never would pardon
— in my own case. I shudder at the thought
of being plunged into eternity without the
time to — to think — to — to prepare -"
" But if your preparations are all seen
through from the beginning? If it's just as
well known then, or better, what you are
thinking, or trying to think, to make yourself
ready for that event ? You knew yourself,
more or less, didn't you, when you were in
active service, the excuses a wretched private
would make when he was hauled up, and
how he would try to make the worse appear
the better cause. Were you moved by that,
Colonel Kingsward ? Didn't you know the
man, and judge him by what you knew ? "
"It seems to me a very undignified argu-
ment ; there's no analogy between a wretched
private and my — and my — and one of us —
at the Judgment Seat."
'* No — it's more like one of your boys
making up the defence^ when brought be-
40 THE SORCERESS.
fore you — and the poor boy would need it
too," Dr. Benson added within himself. But
naturally he made no impression with his
argument, whether it was good or bad, upon
his hearer. Colonel Kingsward was in reality
a very unhappy man. He had nobody to
blame for the dreadful misfortune which was
threatening him except God, for whom he
entertained only a great terror as of an over-
whelming tyrannical Power ready to catch
him at any moment when he neglected the
observances or rites necessary to appease it.
He was very particular in these observances
— going to church, keeping up family prayers,
contributing his proper and carefully calcu-
lated proportion to the charities, &c. No-
body could say of him that he was careless
or negligent. And now how badly was his
devotion repaid ! — by the tearing away from
him of the companion of his life. But he
felt that there was still much more that the
awful Master of the Universe might inflict,
perhaps upon her if she was not prepared to
meet her God. He was wretched till he had
told her, warned her, till she had fulfilled
everything that was necessary, seen a
THE SORCERESS. 4 1
clergyman, and got herself into the state of
mind becoming a dying person. He had
collected all the children that she might take
leave of them in a becoming way. He had,
so far as he knew, thought of everything to
make her exit from the world a right one in
all the forms — and now to be told that he
was not to agitate her, that the God whom
he wished to prepare her to meet knew more
of her and understood her better than he did!
Agitate her ! When the alternative might
be unspeakable miseries of punishment,
instead of the acquittal which would have to
be given to a soul properly prepared. These
arguments did not in the least change his
purpose, but they fretted and irritated him
beyond measure. At the bottom of all, the
idea that anybody should know better than
he what was the right thing for his own wife
was an intolerable thought.
He went in and out of her room with that
irritated, though self-controlled look, which
she knew so well. He had never shown it
to the world, and when he had demanded of
her in his angry way why this was and that,
and how on earth such and such things had
42 THE SORCERESS.
happened, Mrs. Kingsward had till lately
taken it so sweetly that he had not himself
suspected how heavy it was upon her. And
when she had begun to show signs of being
unable to bear the responsibility of every-
thing in earth and heaven, the Colonel had
felt himself an injured man. There were
signs that he might eventually throw that
responsibility on Bee. But in the meantime
he had nobody to blame, as has been said,
and the burden of irritation and disturbance
was heavy upon him.
The next morning after his talk with Dr.
Brown he came in with that clouded brow to
find Charlie by her bedside. The Colonel
came up and stood looking at the face on the
pillow, now wan in the reaction of the fever,
and utterly weak, but still smiling at his
" I have been telling Charlie," she said, in
her faint voice, '' that he must go back to his
college. Why should he waste his time
'' He will not go back yet," said Colonel
Kingsward; "are you feeling a little better
this morning, my dear.?"
THE SORCERESS. 43
'' Oh, not to call 111 at all," said the sufferer.
** Weak — a sort of sinking, floating away. I
take hold of somebody's hand to keep me
from falling through. Isn't It ridiculous ?"
she said, after a little pause.
''Your weakness is very great," said the
husband, almost sternly.
" Oh, no, Edward. It's more silly than
anything — when I am not really 111, you
know. I've got Charlie's hand here under
the counterpane," she said again, with her
faint little laugh.
'' You w^on't always have Charlie's hand,
or anyone's hand, Lucy."
She looked at him with a little anxiety.
''No, no. I'll get stronger, perhaps,
" Do you feel as If you were at all stronger,
my dear .^"
She loosed her son's hand, giving him a
little troubled smile. '*Go away now, Charlie
dear. I don't believe you've had your break-
fast. I want to speak to — papa." Then she
waited, looking wistfully in her husband's
face till the door had closed. "You have
something to say to me, Edward. Oh, what
is it ? Nothing has happened to anyone ?"
44 THE SORCERESS.
*'No, nothing has happened," he said. He
turned away and walked to the window, then
came back again, turning his head half-way
from her as he spoke. " It is only that you
are, my poor darling — weaker every day."
''Does the doctor think so?" she said, with
a little eagerness, with a faint suffusion of
colour in her face.
He did not say anything — could not per-
haps — but slightly moved his head.
" Weaker every day, and that means,
Edward !" She put out her thin, hot hands.
" That means "
The man could not say anything. He
could do his duty grimly, but when the
moment came he could not put it into words.
He sank down on the chair Charlie had left,
and put down his face on the pillow, his large
frame shaken by sobs which he could not
These sobs made Mrs. Kingsward forget
the meaning of this communication altogether.
She put her hands upon him trying to raise
his head. '' Edward! Oh, don't cry, don't
cry ! I have never seen you cry in all my
life. Edward, for goodness' sake ! You will
THE SORCERESS. 45
kill me if you go on sobbing like that. Oh,
Edward, Edward, I never saw you cry before."
Moulsey had darted forward from some
shadowy corner where she was and gripped
him by the arm.
**Stop, sir — stop it," she cried, in an
authoritative whisper, "or you'll kill her."
He flung Moulsey off and raised his head
a little from the pillow.
''You have never seen me with any such
occasion before," he said, taking her hands
into his and kissing them repeatedly.
He was not a man of many caresses, and
her heart was touched with a feeble sense of
''Dear!" she said softly, "dear!" feebly
drawing a little nearer to him to put her
cheek against his.
Colonel Kingsward looked up as soon as
he was able and saw her lying smiling at
him, her hand in his, her eyes full of that
wonderful liquid light which belongs to great
weakness. The small worn face was all
illuminated with smiles ; it was like the face
of a child — or perhaps an angel. He looked
at first with awe, then with doubt and alarm.
46 THE SORCERESS.
Had he failed after all in the commission
which he had executed at so much cost to
himself, and against the doctor's orders ?
He had been afraid for the moment of the
sight of her despair — and now he was frigh-
tened by her look of ease, the absence of
all perturbations. Had she not understood
him.^ Would It have to be told again, more
severely, more distinctly, this dreadful news ?
Mrs. Kingsward said nothing of the com
munlcation her husband had made to her.
Did she understand it ? He went about
heavily all day, pondering the matter, going
and coming to her room, trying in vain to
make out what was in her mind. But he
could not divine what was in that mind,
hidden from him in those veils of individual
existence which never seemed to him to have
been so baffling before. In the afternoon
she had heard, somehow, the voices of the
elder boys, and had asked if they were there,
and had sent for them. The two big fellows,
with the mud on their boots and the scent of
the fresh air about them, stood huddled
together, speechless with awe and grief,
by the bedside, when their father came
48 THE SORCERESS.
in. They did not know what to say
to their mother in such circumstances.
They had never talked to her about
herself, but always about themselves ; and
now they were entirely at a loss after they
had said, " How are you, mamma ? Are you
very bad, mamma? Oh, I'm so sorry ;" and
" Oh, I wish you were better." What could
boys of twelve and fourteen say } For the
moment they felt as if their hearts were
broken ; but they did not want to stay there ;
they had nothing to say to her. Their pang
of sudden trouble was confused with shyness
and awkwardness, and their consciousness
that she was altogether in another atmosphere
and another world. Mrs. Kings ward was
not a clever woman, but she understood
miraculously what was in those inarticulate
young souls. She kissed them both, draw-
ing each close to her for a moment, and then
bade them run away. "Were you having a
good game ? " she said, with that ineffable,
feeble smile. "Go and finish it, my darlings."
And they stumbled out very awkwardly,
startled to meet their father's look as they
turned round, and greatly disturbed and
THE SORCERESS. 49
mystified altogether, though consoled some-
how by their mother s look.
They said to each other after a while that
she looked ''jolly bad," but that she was in
such good spirits it must be all right.
Their father was as much mystified as
they ; but he was troubled in conscience, as
if he had not spoken plainly enough, had not
made it clear enough what ''her state" was.
She had not asked for the clergyman — she
had not asked for anything. Was it neces-
sary that he should speak again ? There
was one thing she had near her, but that so
fantastic a thing ! — a photograph — one of the
quantities of such rubbish the girls and she
had brought home — a woman wrapped in a
mantle floating in the air.
" Take that thing away," he said to
Moulsey. It irritated him to see a frivolous
thing like that — a twopenny-halfpenny
photograph — so near his wife's bed.
" Don't take it away," she said, in the
whisper to which her voice had sunk; "it
gives me such pleasure."
"Pleasure!" he cried; even to speak of
pleasure was wrong at such a moment. And
VOL II. • E
50 THE SORCERESS.
then he added, '' Would you Hke me to read
to you ? Would you like to see — anyone ?"
"To see anyone? Whom should I wish
to see but you, Edward, and the children ? "
''We haven't been — so religious, my dear,
as perhaps we ought," stammered the anxious
man. " If I sent for — Mr. Baldwin perhaps,
to read the prayers for the sick and — and
talk to you a little ?"
She looked at him with some wonder for a
moment, and then she said, with a smile,
" Yes, yes ; by all means, Edward, if you
*' I shall certainly like it, my dearest ; and
it is right — it is what we should all wish
to do at the " He could not say at the
last — he could not say when we are dying —
it was too much for him ; but certainly she
must understand now. And he went away
hurriedly to call the clergyman, that no more
time might be lost.
'' Moulsey," said Mrs. Kingsward," have
we come then quite — to the end now ? "
" Oh, ma'am ! Oh, my dear lady ! "
** My husband — seems to think so. It is
THE SORCERESS. 5 I
a little hard — to leave them all. Where is
" I am here, mamma," said a broken voice ;
and the mother's hand was caught and held
tight, as she liked it to be. " May Betty
come too ?"
''Yes, let Betty come. It is you I want,
not Mr. Baldwin."
'' Mr. Baldwin is a good man, ma'am.
He'll be a comfort to them and to the
" Yes, I suppose so ; he will be a comfort
to — your father. But I don't want anyone.
I haven't done very much harm "
" No ! oh, no, ma'am, none !" said Moulsey,
while Betty, thrown on her knees by the
bedside, tried to smother her sobs ; and Bee,
worn out and feeling as if she felt nothing,
sat and held her mother's hand.
*' But, then," she said, " I've never, never,
done any good."
'* Oh ! my dear lady, my dear lady ! x-lnd
all the poor people, and all the children."
*' Hush ! Moulsey. I never gave anything
— not a bit of bread, not a shilling — but
because I liked to do it. Never ! oh, never
UttlYEftSITY OF ILLrNOfS
52 THE SORCERESS.
from any good motive. I always liked to do
it. It was my pleasure. It never cost me
anything. I have done no good in my life.
I just liked the poor children, that was all,
and thought if they were my own Oh,
Bee and Betty, try to be better women — •
different from me."
Betty, who was so young, crept nearer and
nearer on her knees, till she came to the head
of the bed. She lifted up her tear-stained
face, " Mother ! oh, mother ! are you
frightened ?" she cried.
Mrs. Kingsward put forth her other arm
and put it freely round the weeping girl.
" Perhaps I ought to be, perhaps I ought to
be ! " she said, with a little thrill and quaver.
" Mother," said Betty, pushing closer and
closer, almost pushing Bee away, " if I had
been wicked, ever so wicked, I shouldn't be
frightened for you."
A heavenly smile came over the woman's
face. '' I should think not, indeed."
And then Betty, in the silence of the room,
put her hands together and said very softly,
" Our Father, which art in Heaven — "
" Oh, children, children," cried Moulsey,
THE SORCERESS. 53
*' don't break our hearts! She's too weak
to bear it. Leave her alone."
" Yes. go away, children dear — go away. I
have to rest — to see Mr. Baldwin." Then
she smiled, and said in gasps, '' To tell the
truth — I'm — I'm not afraid ; look — " She
pointed to the picture by her bedside.
''So easy — so easy I Just resting — and the
Saviour will put out his hand and take me
Mr. Baldwin came soon after — the good
Rector, who was a good man, but who
believed he had the keys, and that what he
bound on earth was bound in Heaven — or,
at least, he thought he believed so — with
Colonel Kingsward, who felt that he was
thus fulfilling all righteousness, and that this
was the proper way in which to approach the
everlasting doors. He put away the little
picture in which Catherine of Siena lay in
the hold of the angels, in the perfect peace
of life accomplished, the rest that was so easy
and so sweet — hastily with displeasure and
contempt. He did not wish the Rector to
see the childish thing in which his wife had
taken pleasure, nor even that she had been
54 THE SORCERESS.
taking pleasure at all at such a solemn
moment ; even that she should smile the
same smile of welcome with which she would
have greeted her kind neighbour had she
been in her usual place in the drawing-room
disturbed her husband. So near death and
yet able to think of that! He watched her
face as the Rector read the usual prayers.
Did she enter into them — did she understand
them ? He could scarcely join in them
himself in his anxiety to make sure that she
felt and knew what was her " state," and was
preparing — preparing to meet her God.
That God was awaiting severely the appear-
ance of that soul before him, the Colonel
could not but feel. He would not have said
so in words, but the instinctive conviction in
his heart was so. When she looked round
for the little picture it hurt him like a sting.
Oh, if she would but think of the things that
concerned her peace — not of follies, childish
distractions, amusements for the fancy. On
her side, the poor lady was conscious more or
less of all that was going on, understood here
and there the prayers that were going over
her head, prayers of others for her, rather
than anything to be said by herself. In the
midst of them, she felt herself already like St.
Catherine, floating away into ineffable peace,
then coming back again to hear the sacred
words, to see the little circle round her on
their knees, and to smile upon them in an
utter calm of weakness without pain, feeling
only that they were good to her, thinking of
her, which was sweet, but knowing little
It was the most serene and cloudless night
after that terrible day. A little after Colonel
Kings ward had left the room finally and shut
himself up in his study, Moulsey took the
two girls out into the garden, through a
window which opened upon it. " Children,
go and breathe the sweet air. I'll not have
you in a room to break your hearts. Look
up yonder — yonder where she's gone," said
the kind nurse who had done everything for
their mother. And they stole out — the two
little ghosts, overborne w^ith the dreadful
burden of humanity, the burden which none
of us can shake off, and crept across the
grass to the seat w^here she had been used to
sit among the children. The night was
56 THE SORCERESS.
peace itself — not a breath stirring, a young
moon with something wistful in her light
looking down, making the garden bright as
with a softened ethereal day. A line of white
cloud dimly detached from the softness of
the blue lay far off towards the west amid
the radiance, a long faint line as of something
in the far distance. Bee and Betty stood
and gazed at it with eyes and hearts over-
charged, each leaning upon the other. Their
young souls were touched with awe and an
awful quiet. They were too near the
departure to have fallen down as yet into
the vacancy and emptiness of re-awakening
life. '' Oh," they said, " if that should be
her !" And why should it not be ? Unless
perhaps there was a quicker way. They
watched it with that sob in the throat which
is of all sounds and sensations the most
overwhelming. It seemed to them as if they
were watching her a little further on her
way, to the very horizon, till the soft distance
closed over, and that speck like a sail upon
the sea could be seen no more. And when
it was gone they sank down together upon
her seat, under the trees she loved, where
THE SORCERESS. 57
the children had played and tumbled on the
grass about her, and talked of her in broken
words, a little phrase now and then, some-
times only "Mother," or "Oh, mamma,
mamma," now from one, now from another —
in that first extraordinary exaltation and
anguish which is not yet grief.
They did not know how long they had
been there when something stirred in the
bushes, and the two big boys, Arthur and
Fred, came heavily into sight, holding each
other by the arm. The boys were bewil-
dered, heavy and miserable, not knowing
what to do with themselves nor where to go.
But they came up with a purpose, which was
a little ease in the trouble. It cost them a
little convulsion of reluctant crying before
they could get out what they had to say.
Then it came out in broken words from both
together. " Bee, there's someone wants to
speak to you at the gate."
'• Oh ! who could want to speak to me — to-
night ? I cannot speak to anyone ; you
might have known."
" Bee," said Arthur, the eldest, " it isn't
just — anyone ; it's — we thought you would
perhaps — "
58 THE SORCERESS.
" He told us," said Fred, ''who he was ;
and begged so hard — "
Then there came back upon poor Bee all
the other trouble that she had pushed away
from her. Her heart seemed to grow hard
and cold after all the softening and tender-
ness of this dreadful yet heavenly hour. *' I
will see no one — no one," she said.
" Bee," said the boys, "we shut the gate
upon him ; but he took hold of our hands,
and — and cried, too." They had to stop and
swallow the sob before either could say any
more. " He said she was his best friend.
He said he couldn't bear it no more than us.
And if you would only speak to him."
Bee got up from her mother's seat ; her
poor little heart swelled in her bosom as if it
would burst. Oh ! how was she to bear all
this — to bear it all — to have no one to help
her! " No, no, I will not. I will not ! " she
''Oh, Bee," cried Betty, " if it is Aubrey —
poor Aubrey ! She was fond of him. She
would not like him to be left out. Oh, Bee,
come ; come and speak to him. Suppose
one of us were alone, with nobody to say
mother's name to !"
THE SORCERESS. 59
'' No, I will not," said Bee. " Oh ! Betty,
mother knows why ; she knows."
•' What does she know ?" cried Betty,
pleading. '' She was fond of him. I am
fond of him, without thinking of you, for
'' Oh, let me go ! I am going in ; I am
going to her. I wish, I wish she had taken
me with her ! Xo, no, no ! I will never see
" I think," said Betty to the boys, pushing
them away, " that she is not quite herself.
Tell him she's not herself. Say she's
not able to speak to anyone, and we can't
move her. And — and give poor Aubrey
— oh, poor Aubrey! — my love."
The boys turned away on their mission,
crossing the gravel path w^ith a commotion of
their heavy feet which seemed to fill the air
Colonel Kingsward heard it from his
study, though that was closed up from any
influence outside. He opened his window
and came out, standing a black figure sur-
rounded by the moonlight. ''Who is there .^"
he said. " Are there any of you so lost to
6o THE SORCERESS.
all feeling as to be out in the garden, of all
nights in the world on this night ?"
THE SORCERESS. 63
the stern Colonel, who had so crushed him-
self. And she had received his first letters,
and had answered them, professing her
determination never to be coerced in this
He was agitated, his life was full of
excitement, and speculation, and trouble.
But this is nothing dreadful in a young man's
life. It was perhaps better, more enlivening,
more vivid, than the delights of an undis-
turbed love-making, followed by a triumphant
marriage. It is well sometimes that the
course of true love should not run smooth.
He thought himself unhappy in being
separated from Bee ; but the keen delight of
her determination to stand by him for good
or evil, her faith in him, her championship,
and the conviction that this being so all must
come right in the end, was like a stream
of bright fresh water flowing through the
somewhat sombre flat of his existence. It
had been very sombre in the early days of
what people thought his youthful happiness
— very flat, monotonous, yet with ignoble
contentions in it. Bee's sunshiny nature,
full of lights and shadows, had changed the
64 THE SORCERESS.
whole landscape, and now the excitement
of this struggle for her, changed it still more.
It might be a hard battle, but they would win
in the end. Whether he, a somewhat un-
lucky fellow, would have done so was very
doubtful — but for her the stars would fight in
their courses. Everything would be over-
turned in the world, rather than that Bee
should be made miserable, and since she had
set her dear heart on him, on his behalf too
the very elements would fight, for how
otherwise could Bee be made happy ? The
argument was without a flaw.
This was his reasoning, never put, I need
not say, into any formula of words, yet
vaguely believed in, and forming a source of
the brightest exhilaration in his life, rousing
all combative influences by the power of that
hope of success which was a certainty in
such a case. This exhilaration was crossed
by the blackest of disappointments, and
threatened to become despair when for days
he had no sign of existence from Bee : but
that after all was only a keener excitement — •
the sting of anxiety which makes after
satisfaction more sweet. And then he was
THE SORCERESS, 65
consoled to hear of Mrs. Kingsward's illness,
which explained everything. Not that
Aubrey was selfish enough to rejoice in that
poor lady's suffering. He would have been
shocked and horrified by the thought. But
then it was no unusual thing for Mrs. Kings-
ward to be ill ; it is not unusual, a young man
so easily thinks, for any middle-aged person
to be ill — and in so many cases it does not
seem to do them much harm ; whereas it did
him much good — for it explained the silence
of Bee !
And then it came to Aubrey's ears that
Mrs. Kings ward was very ill — worse than
she had ever been before ; and then that all
the family had been summoned that she was
dying. Such rumours spread like wildfire — •
they get into the air — nobody knows how they
come. He went down to the village nearest
Kingswarden, and found a lodging there,
when this news reached him, and endea-
voured to send a note to Bee, to let her
know he was at hand. But in the trouble of
the house this note, sent by a private hand —
always in these days an unsafe method — was
somehow lost and never reached her. He
VOL. II. F
66 THE SORCERESS.
hung about the house In the evenings,
avoiding on various occasions an encounter
with CharHe, who was not friendly, and with
the Colonel, who was his enemy. These two
were the only members of the family visible
outside the gates of Kingswarden — until he
managed to Identify the two boys, whose
disconsolate wanderings about pointed
them out to him, and who did not
know, therefore had no hostility or sus-
picion of the stranger who Inquired after
their mother so anxiously. Everybody in-
quired after their mother. It was nothing
strange to them to be stopped on the road
with this question. It was thus at last,
hearing the final blow had fallen, Aubrey
had ventured to send a message, to ask for a
word from Bee. The thought of what the
girl must be suffering in her first grief, and
to feel himself so near her — almost within
hearing — yet altogether shut out, was more
than he could bear. He pushed in within
the gate, into the shelter of the shrubbery,
and there he stopped short, bound by invisible
restraints. It was the home of his love, and
yet it was the house of his enemy. He could
THE SORCERESS. 67
not take advantage of the darkness of the
night and of the misery of the moment to
violate the sanctuary of a man soul-stricken
by such trouble. But from where he stood
he could see the little group of shadows
under the tree. And how could he go away
and not say a word to her — not take her in
his arms, tell her his heart was with her, and
that he was a mourner too ? "Ask Bee to
speak to me. Ask her to speak to me — only
for a moment. I am Aubrey Leigh," he said
to the two brothers, taking an arm of each,
imploring them. The boys did not know
much about Aubrey Leigh, but still they had
heard the name. And they were overawed
by his earnestness ; the sound of his voice
which, full of passion and feeling as it was,
was strange to their undeveloped conscious-
ness. They took his message, as we have
seen, and then there came a mysterious
moment which Aubrey could not understand.
He could not hear what was said, but he was
conscious of a resistance, of denial, and that
Bee did not make a step towards him ; that
she recoiled rather than advanced. Though
he could scarcely see anything distinctly, he
68 THE SORCERESS.
could see that — that there was no Impulse
towards him, but rather the reverse ; that
Bee did not wish to come. And then the
harsh voice of the Colonel broke the spell of
the quiet, of the mournful, tranquil night,
which It was so easy for a roused Imagination
to think was penetrated, too, by the sentiment
of sorrow and of peace. The Colonel's voice
put every gentler vision to flight. "Is It
possible that any of you are out here
In the garden — of all nights In the
world on this night ?" Oh ! the very night
of all nights to be there — In the first awe and
silence, watching her pass, as It were, to the
very gates of Heaven ! Perhaps, It was
unawares from Bee's mind that this Idea
came to his — " to watch her ascending, trail-
ing clouds of glory," as the poet said ; but
that was the spirit coming and not going.
These thoughts flew through his mind in the
shock and irritation of the Colonel's voice.
And then the shadows under the tree seemed
to fly away and disperse, and silence fell
upon all around, the great ghostly trees
standing up Immovable like muffled giants
in the moonlight, their shadows making lines
THE SORCERESS. 69
and heavy clumps of blackness on the turf,
the late roses showing pale in the distance,
the garden paths white and desolate. A
moment more, and the harsh sound, almost
angry, of the Colonel's window shutting, of
bolts and bars, and a final closing up of
everything came unkindly upon tbe hushed
air. And then the moonlight reached the
shut up house, all unresponsive, with death
in it, with one faint light burning in the large
window upstairs, showing where the gentle
inmate lay who needed light no more.
Strange prejudice of humanity that put out
all the lights for sleep, but surrounds death
with them, that no careless spirit may mistake
for a common chamber the place where that
last majesty lies.
Aubrey stood alone in this hushed and
silent world. His heart was as heavy as a
stone, heavy with grief for the friend who
had passed for ever out of his life. He had
not known perhaps till now^ what he too had
lost — a friend, who would not have forsaken
him not a very strong champion to fight for
him ; but a friend that never, whatever might
be said, would have refused to hear him,
70 . THE SORCERESS.
refused to give him her sympathy. Had
Bee, his own Bee, refused ? The young
man was bewildered beyond the power of
thought. Was It his fault to have come too
soon ? Was It an outrage to be there on the
night of the mother's death ? But there was
no outrage In his thoughts, not even any
selfishness. It was her he had been think-
ing of, not himself ; that she might feel there
was someone whose thoughts were all hers,
who was herself, not another, feeling with
her, mourning with her, her very own to take
the half of her burden. He had felt that he
could not be far away while Bee was in
trouble — that even to stand outside would be
something, would somehow lighten her load,
would make her feel in the very air a con-
sciousness of the mighty love that would
cleave in twain
The lading of a single pain
And part it giving half to him.
His heart, which had so gone out to her,
seemed to come back confused, with all the
life out of it, full of wonder and dismay.
Had she rejected him and his sympathy?
W^as It the fault of the others, the boys who
THE SORCERESS. yi
did not know what to say ? Was she angry
that he should come so soon ? But it was
now, immediately on the very stroke of the
distress, that love should come. He stood
for a long time silent, bewildered, not know-
ing what to think. Was it possible that she
could have misunderstood him, have thought
that he had come here only to beguile her
into his arms, to take advantage of an
opportunity.^ It pained poor Aubrey to the
heart to think that she might have thought
so. Ah ! ]\Irs. Kingsward would not have
done it, would not have let Bee do it. But
she lay there, where the light was, never to
say anything more : and Bee — Bee !
He got out of the little park that
surrounded Kingswarden by the stile near
the village, some time after, he did not know
how long. He thought it was in the middle
of the night. The moon had set, everything
was dark, and all the cottagers asleep. But
time is long to watchers unaccustomed to
long vigils, and the lights were not out at the
small inn in the village where he was
lodging. He found the master of the house
and his wife talking at the door in subdued
72 THE SORCERESS.
tones, over the event of the evening. " She
was always a weakly body, but she'll be sore
missed," the woman said. '' She kept every-
thing going. The Colonel, he'll not have a
servant left as will put up with him in three
months. You take my word. She kept all
straight Lord, that's how women mostly
is — no account as long as they're living — and
then you finds the want o' them when they're
" Here you are, mister," said the landlord;
" we thought as you was lost. It was a fine
night, tempting for a walk. But it's clouding
" Oh, no, sir, nought of the sort," said the
woman. " My master here, he never goes to
bed afore the middle of the night, he don't,
and it's an excuse for not getting up in the
mornin'. But you'll have to be early to-
morrow, Gregg, you take my word, for
there'll be undertakers' men and that sort
down from London, and I'll not be bothered
with them, mind you that."
" I suppose you're right this time," said the
man. " They drinks a deal to keep up their
spirits, being as it is a kind of depressing
THE SORCERESS. J 2>
" If I hear vou lauQrh aofain like that! — and
the missis lying in her coffin ! Don't you
think, sir, as he's got no feeling. He puts it
off like with a laugh not to cry. I was
kitchen-maid up there, and he was groom in
the old days, and many and many's the
kindness she done to me and mine. Oh,
and such a pretty lady and sweet — and a
young family left just at the ages that most
need a mother's care."
"They're all ages, Molly, if you come to
"Well, and don't they want a mother's
care at all ages ? What would you do with
my children if I was took, John Gregg?
And the Colonel, he's just a helpless man like
you are. The only hope is as Miss Bee will
turn out like her mother. I always thought
she favoured Missis, though some said it w^as
the Colonel she was like. It's a dreadful
charge for her, poor thing, at her age ; but if
she takes after the ]\Iissis there will be some
hope for them," the woman said.
" I thought as Miss Bee was going to be
married .•^" said the landlord.
" Oh, that's all broken off," she said, " and
74 THE SORCERESS.
a good thing too, seeing what's happened, for
what could ever Httle Miss Betty do?"
Aubrey, who had Hngered listening, went
slowly up the narrow wooden stair to his
shabby little room as the pair locked the
door and put out their lights. He heard
them carrying on the conversation in the
kitchen underneath for a few minutes before
they, too, in their turn clambered upstairs to
bed. " Oh, that's all broken off, and a good
thing too." He kept saying these words
over and over miserably, as if they had been
the chorus of some dreadful song of fate.
CHAPTER y I.
Aubrey stayed at the village public-house
day after day, hoping for some sign or
message. He wrote to Bee, this time by the
post ; but he had no better success. Was it
only because of her grief that she took no
notice ? Terrible as that grief must be, and
rigorous as evidently were the rules of the
closed-up house, from which no one came
forth, even for a mouthful of air, it did not
seem to him that this was reason enouQ^h for
putting him from her — he who was to share
her life, and whose sympathy was so full and
overflowing. Surely it was the moment when
all who loved her should gather round her,
when she most wanted solace and support.
76 THE SORCERESS.
It could not be that her heart was so wrapped
up in sorrow that she should push from her
the man who had the best right to share her
tears — whom her mother approved and liked,
whose acceptance she had ratified and con-
firmed. It could not be that. He felt
that, had he been in the same circumstances,
his cry would have been for Bee to stand by
him, to comfort him. Was she so different,
or was she overwhelmed by what was before
her— the charge of her father's house, the
dreadful suggestion that it was to him and
the children she should dedicate herself
henceforward, giving up her own happiness i*
It seemed to Aubrey, after long thinking,
that this must be the cause of her silence ;
the burden which surely was not for her
young shoulders, which never could be
intended for her, must have come down upon
her, crushing her. She was the eldest girl.
She must have, like so many girls, an exag-
gerated sense of what was her duty. Her
duty ! Could anything be more fantastic,
more impossible ? To take her mother's
place — and her mother had been killed by it !
— to humour the stern father — to take care of
THE SORCERESS. 'J J
the tribe of children, to be their nurse, their
ruler — everything that a creature of nineteen
could not, should not be ! And for this she
would throw aside her own life — and him.
whose life it was also. He would never,
never consent to such a sacrifice, he said to
himself. Bee was not soft and yielding, like
their mother. She was a determined little
thing. She would stand to it, and sacrifice
him as she sacrificed herself, unless he made
a bold stand from the first. No, no, no I
Whatever was to be done, that must not be
done. He would not have it — he must let
her know from the very first — if it were not
that she knew already, and that this was the
reason why she was silent, feeling that if
ever they met she could not hold out against
him. Poor little Bee ! Poor, poor little Bee [
Her mother dead, and her father so stern ;
and thinking it her duty — her duty, God
bless her I — to take all that household upon
her little shoulders. The tears came into his
eyes with a sudden softening. She thought it
better to keep him at arm's length, the
darling, knowing that she never could stand
against him, that he would never, never
J^ THE SORCERESS.
consent ; the little, sublime, unreasonable girl !
The things they took into their heads, these
inexperienced, generous creatures ! But,
thank heaven, he was here ; even though
she held him at bay — here, to make all right.
The reader knows that poor Bee was not
actuated by such lofty feelings, but then
Aubrey had no knowledge in his mind of
that strange story which had destroyed her
faith in him. When a man is guilty he
knows all that can be brought against him,
in which, in its way, there is a certain
advantage. He cannot be taken by surprise.
He knows that this or that is lying ready
like a secret weapon apt to be picked up by
any man who may wish to do him harm.
But the innocent man has not that safeguard.
It is not likely to occur to him that harmless
circumstances may be so twisted as to look
like guilt. For his own part he had forgotten
all about that little episode on the railway — or
if he remembered it, it was with a smile and a
glow of momentary pleasure, to think how,
with a little money — so small a matter — he
had been able to make comfort take the place
of misery to the poor little family, whom
THE SORCERESS. 79
perhaps he would never have noticed at all
had not his thoughts been full of Bee.
He had done that for her with the feeling
with which he might have given her an
ornament or a basket of flowers ; the only
drawback to the pleasure of it being that he
could not tell her off-hand, and get the smile
of thanks she would give him for it — far more
than he deserved, for he liked doing it —
kindness coming natural to this young man.
It was hard on Aubrey in the complications
of fate that this innocent, nay praiseworthy,
incident should be made the occasion of his
trouble. But he had no suspicion of it —
forgot the fact, indeed, altogether — and would
have laughed at the idea that such an
accidental occurrence could in any way
influence his fate.
He went to the funeral, unnoticed in the
crowd of people who were there — some for
love and some for conventional necessity, but
almost all with a pang of natural sympathy
to see the train of children who followed
their mother to her last rest. The Colonel,
rigid in all things, had insisted at last, that
all, except the very youngest, should be
8o THE SORCERESS.
there — having wavered for a moment whether
it would not be more in order that the ^irls
should remain at home, and only the boys be
present at the melancholy ceremony. To
see the little wondering faces two-and-two
that followed the elder children up the aisle,
and were installed in the mourners' places,
some of them scarcely tall enough to see
over the edge of the pew, brought many
a gush of tears to sympathetic eyes. Bee
and Betty, the two inseparable '' eldest," —
slim, black figures — drooping under the heavy
veils that covered them from the daylight,
almost touched Aubrey with their clinging
black garments as they passed. Did they
see him ? He saw, wherever he was, at
whatever distance, any movement they made.
He saw that Bee never raised her head ; but
Betty was younger, and less self-restrained — •
that she had seen him at least he felt sure.
And he felt the Colonel's eyes upon him,
penetrating the thickest of the crowd.
Colonel Kings ward had a glance that saw
everything. He was a man bereaved, the
light of his eyes taken from him, and the
comfort of his life — and yet he saw every-
THE SORCERESS. 8 I
thing at his wife's funeral, saw and noted the
faces that were dull and tired of the tension,
and those that were alive with sympathy —
making notes for or against them in his
memory, and, above all, he saw Aubrey
Leigh. Charlie saw him more accidentally,
without any conscious observation, and the
boys who had cried all they were capable of,
and now could not help their eyes straying
a little, conscious of the spectacle, and of the
important part they played in it, everybody
looking at them. i\ll of them saw him, but
Bee. Was it only Bee who was so little
in sympathy with him that she did not know
he must be there ?
He went back to his lodging a little angry
through his emotion. It was too much.
Even in the interval between her mother's
death and funeral he felt that a girl who loved
him should not be so obdurate as that, and
he listened with a very sombre face to all
the landlady's discussion of the proceedings.
''It was a shame," she said, " to bring those
little children there, not much more than
babies — what could they know ? I'd have
kept them safe in the nursery with some
VOL. II. G
82 THE SORCERESS.
quiet game to play, the poor little innocents !
And so would Missis. Missis would have
thought what was best for them, not for
making a display. But God knows what
will become of them children now."
"What should become of them ?" said the
husband. ''They'll get the best of every-
thing and servants to wait on them hand and
foot. The Colonel, he ain't like a poor man
who could do nothing for them. When the
mother's gone the children had better go too
- — in a poor man's house."
"It's little you know about it," said the
woman with contempt. " Rich house or poor
house, it don't make no such great difference.
Nurses is a long way different from mothers.
Not as I'm saying a word against Sarah
Langridge, as is a good honest woman, that
would wrong her master not by a candle end
or a boot lace, not she. But that's not like
being a mother. The Lord grant that if I
die and there's a baby it may go too, as you
say. You're more than a nurse, you're their
farher, and you're part of them ; but Lord
forbid that I should leave a poor little baby
on your hands."
THE SORCERESS. 8
The man turned on his heel with a tremu-
lous laugh. '' Well, I ain't wishing it, am I ?"
" But," said Aubrey, ''there are the — elder
sisters — the young ladies."
" Miss Bee ! Lord bless us, sir, do ye
know the age that child is ? Nineteen, and
no more. Is that an age to take the charge
of a nursery full of children ? Why, her
mother was but forty as has has been laid in
her grave to-day. I wish to goodness as
that marriage hadn't been broke off. He
was a widower — and I don't much hold with
widowers — but I wish that I could give him.
a sign to come back, if he has any spirit in
him, and try and get that poor young lady
"If he has been sent about his business,"
said Aubrey, forcing a smile, " he could have
no right to come back."
" I don't know whose fault it was," said the
landlady. '' None o' missis's, you take my
w^ord ; but. Lord, if a gentleman loves a
young lady, what's to hinder him putting his
pride in his pocket ? A man does when he's
real fond of a woman in our rank of life."
84 THE SORCERESS.
" I don't know about that," said her
husband. " If I had been sent away with a
cuff on the side of my head, blessed if I'd
ever have come back."
" You're a poor lot, all of you," the woman
Aubrey could not but smile at the end of
the argument, but he asked himself when he
was alone — Was he a poor lot ? Was he
unwilling to put his pride in his pocket ?
Walking about his little room, turning over
and over the circumstances, remembering
the glare from Colonel Kingsward's eye,
w^hich had recognised him, he at last evolved
out of his own troubled feelings and imagina-
tion the idea that it was his part to offer
sympathy, to hold out an olive branch.
Perhaps, after all, the stern man's heart was
really touched ; perhaps it would soothe him
in his grief to hear that "when the eye saw
her, then it blessed her," which was Aubrey's
sincere feeling at this moment in respect to
Bee's mother. It seemed to him that it was
best to act upon this impulse before other
arguments came in ; before the sense of
wounding and pain in Bee's silence got the
THE SORCERESS. 55
upper hand. He spent most of the afternoon
in writing a letter, so carefully put together,
copied over and over again, that there might
be nothing in it to wound the most sensitive
feelings ; offering to Colonel Kingsward his
profound sympathy, telling him with emotion
of her kindness to himself, her sweetness, her
beauty, with that heightening of enthusiastic
admiration, which, if it is permissible any-
where, is so over a new-made grave. And
at the end he asked, with all the delicacy he
could, whether in these new circumstances he
might not ask a hearing, a renewed considera-
tion, for her dear sake who had been so good
to him, and who was gone.
I am not sure that his judgment went fully
with this renewed effort, and his landlady's
remarks were but a poor reason for any such
step. But his heart was longing after Bee,
angry with her, impatient beyond words,
disturbed, miserable, not knowing how to
support the silence and separation while yet
so near, And to do something is always a
relief, even though it may be the worst and
not the best thing to do. In the evening
after dark, when there was no one about, he
86 THE SORCERESS.
went up to Kingswarden, and himself put his
letter into the hands of the butler, who did
not know him, and therefore knew no reason
why the letter should either be carried in
haste to his master or delayed. Aubrey
heard that the young ladies were quite as
well as could be expected, and the Colonel
very composed, considering — and then he
returned to the village. How silent the
house was ! Not a creature about, and how
disturbing and painful to the anxious spirit
even the simple noises and commotion of the
Next morning a letter came, delivered by
the postman, from Kingswarden. It con-
tained only a few words.
" Colonel Kingsward is obliged to Mr. Aubrey Leigh
for his message of sympathy, but, on consideration of the
whole circumstances, thinks it better that no pretence at
intercourse should be resumed. It could be nothing but
painful to both parties, and Colonel Kingsward, with his
compliments, takes the liberty to suggest that Mr. Aubrey
Leigh would do well to remain in the neighbourhood as
short a time as suits his convenience.
" Kingswarden, October 15."
Inside were the two or three notes which
Aubrey on different occasions — twice by post
THE SORCERESS. 2>y
and once by a private messenger — had sent
to Bee. They had not been opened. The
young man's colour rose with a fiery indig-
nation — his heart thumped in his ears. This
was an explanation of which he had not
thought. To keep back anyone's letters had
not occurred to him as a thing that in the
end of the eighteenth century any man would
dare to do. It seemed to bring him back
face to face with old-fashioned, forgotten
methods, of all sorts of antiquated kinds.
He put down the papers on the table with a
sort of awe. How was he to struggle against
such ways of warfare ? Bee might think he
had not written at all — had shown no sym-
pathy with her in her trouble. How likely
that it was this that had made her angry, that
kept her from saying a word, from vouch-
safing a look! She might think it was he who
was deficient, who showed no feeling. What
was he to do ? The landlady coming up with
his breakfast broke in upon this distracting
course of thought.
*T didn't know, sir, as you were acquainted
with the Colonel's family," the woman said.
" A little," said poor Aubrey. The letters
88 THE SORCERESS.
were all lying on the table, giving to a sharp
observer a very good clue to the position.
Mrs. Gregg had noted the unopened letters
returned to him in the Colonel's enclosure at
the first glance.
'' You didn't ought to have let us talk.
Why, we might have been saying, without
thinking, some ill of the Colonel or of Miss
He smiled, though with little heart. "You
were once in their service," he said, ''do you
ever go there now ? "
'' Oh, yes, now and again," said Mrs.
Gregg. *' Sarah Langridge, as is In the
nursery, Is a cousin of mine, and I do go just
to see them all now and again."
'' Would you venture to take a letter from
me to — Miss Kingsward ?"
" Sir," said Mrs. Gregg, ''is It about the
marriage as was broke off? Is It?" she
added quickly, as he answered her by nodding
his head, " likely to come on again ? That's
what I want to know."
" If it does not," said Aubrey, "it will not
be my fault."
" Then I will and welcome, the landlady
THE SORCERESS. 89
said. "It's natural I should want to go the
day after the funeral, to see about everything.
Give me your letter, sir, and I'll get it put safe
into Miss Bee's own hands."
All that he sent was half-a-dozen words of
" Bee, these have been sent back to me. Was it by
your will ? I have been here since ever I heard of her
illness, longing to be with you, to tell you what I felt for
her and you. And you would not speak to me I Bee,
dearest, say you did not mean it. Tell me what I am
How^ long the woman was in getting ready
— how long in going I Before she came back
it was almost night again of the lingering,
endless day. She brought him a little note,
not returning the enclosures — that was always
something — with a reproach. "Oh, sir, and
you very near got me into terrible trouble !
I'll never, never carry anything from you
again." The note was still shorter than his
own : —
" It was not by my will. I have never seen them till
now. But please — please let this be the last. We can't
meet again. There can never more be anything between
us — not from my father's will, but my own. And this
for ever — and your own heart will tell you why.
90 THE SORCERESS.
'* My own heart will tell me why ! My
heart tells me nothing — nothing ! " poor
Aubrey said to himself in the silence of his
little room. But there was little use in
repeating it to himself, and there was no
other ear to hear.
It was with a sort of stuplfied bewilderment
that Aubrey read over and over the Httle
letter of Bee's. Letter ! To call it a letter.
Those straggling lines without any begin-
ning, no name of him to whom they were
addressed, nothing even of the most super-
ficial courtesy, nothing that marked the link
that had been — unless it were, perhaps, the
abruptness, the harshness, which she would
have used to no other. This was a kind of
painful comfort in its way, when he came to
think of it. To nobody but him would she
have written so — this was the little gleam of
light. And she had retained his letters,
92 THE SORCERESS.
though she had forbidden him from sending
more. These Hghts of consolation leaped
into his mind with the first reading, but the
more he repeated that reading, the darker
grew the prospect, and the less comfort they
gave him. '* Not by my father's will, but my
own ; and your own heart will tell you why."
What did she mean by his own heart ? She
had begun to write conscience, and then
drew her pen through it. Conscience !
What had he done ? What had he done ?
The real trouble of his life Bee had forgiven.
Her father had stood upon it, and nothing
had changed his standing ground so far as
the Colonel was concerned ; but Bee, who
did not understand — how should any girl
understand ? — had forgiven him, had flung
his reproach away and accepted him as he
was. How was it that she should thus go
back on her decision now .^ ''Not my
father's will, but mine. And your conscience
will tell you why." Aubrey's conscience
reproached him with nothing, with no
thought of unfaithfulness to the young and
spotless love which had re-created his being.
He had never denied the old reproach. But
THE SORCERESS. 93
what was It, what was It which she bid him
to remember, which would explain the
change In her ? *' Your heart w^Ill tell you
why " — why his heart ? and what was there
that could be told him, which could explain
this ? He walked about his little room all
night, shaking the little rickety little house
with his tread, asking himself, "What was It,
what was it ? " and finding no answer any-
When he got up from a troubled morning
sleep, these disturbed and unrefreshing slum-
bers, full of visions which turn the appearance
of rest Into the most fatiguing of labour,
Aubrey formed a resolution, which he said
to himself he should perhaps have carried out
from the first. He had an advocate who
could take charge of his cause without any
fear of betrayal, his mother, and to her he
would go without delay. Of all things in the
world to do, after the reception of Bee's note,
giving in was the last thing he could think
of. To accept that strange and agitated
decision, to allow that there was something
in his own heart that would explain it to him,
was what he would not and could not do.
94 THE SORCERESS.
There was nothing in his own consciousness,
in his heart or conscience, as she had said,
that could explain it. Nothing! It was not
to his credit to accept such a dismissal, even
if he had been unaffected by it. He could
not let a mystery fall over this, leaving it as
one of those things unexplained which tear
life in pieces. That would be mere weak-
ness, not the mode of action of a man of
sense who had no exposure to face. But if
his letters were intercepted — miserable folly !
— by the father, a man of the world who
ought to have known that such proceedings
were an anachronism — and rejected by her-
self, it was little use that he should continue
writing. Against two such methods of
silencing him no man could contend. But
there was still one other great card to play.
He went out and took a last view of the
sheltered and flowery dwelling of Kings war-
den, as it could be seen among the trees at
one part of the road. The windows were
open and all the blinds drawn up. The
house had come back out of the shadow of
death into the every-day composure of living.
White curtains fluttered in the wind at the
THE SORCERESS. 95
upper windows. The late climbing roses and
pretty bunches of clematis seemed again to
look in. It was still like summer, though
the year was waning, and the sun still shone,
notwithstanding all sorrow. Aubrey saw no
one, however, but a housemaid, who paused
as she passed to put up a window, and
looked out for a moment. That was all.
He had not the chance of seeing any
face that he wished to see. In the village
he met the two boys, who recognised him
sheepishly with their eyes, and a look
from one to another, but were about to
shuffle past, Reginald on the heels of i\rthur,
to escape his notice — when he stopped them,
which was a fact they were unprepared for,
and had not calculated how to meet. He
told them that he was going away, a definite
fact upon which they seized eagerly. " Oh,
so are we," they said, both together, one of
them adding the explanation that there was
always something going on at school. ''And
there's nothing to do here," the other added.
" I hope we'll, sometime or other, know each
other better," said Aubrey, at which the boys
hung their heads. " There is a good deal of
96 THE SORCERESS.
shooting down at my little place," he added.
He was not above such a mean act ; where-
upon the two heads raised themselves by one
impulse, as if they had been upon wires, and
two pairs of eyes shone. "Try if you can
do anything for me, and I'll do everything I
can for you," this insidious plotter said. The
boys shook hands with him with a warmth
which they never expected to have felt for
any such "spoon," and said to each other
that he didn't seem such a bad fellow at
bottom — as if they had searched his being
through and through* Mr. Leigh met Charlie
when on his way to the railway station, but
he had no encouragement to say anything to
Charlie. They passed each other with a nod,
very surly on Charlie's part, whose anger at
the sight of him — as if that man had anything
to do with our trouble — was perhaps not so
unnatural. Charlie, too, was going back to
Oxford next day, and thankful to be doing
so, out of this dreary place, where there was
nothing to do.
It was the afternoon of the next day when
Aubrey arrived at his mother's house. It
was at some distance from his own house.
THE SORCERESS. 97
much too far to drive, and only to be got at
by cross-country railways, with an interval of
an hour or two of waiting at several junctions,
facts which he could not help remembering
his poor little wife and her companion had
congratulated themselves upon in those old,
strange days, which had disappeared so
entirely, like a tale that is told. He won-
dered whether she would equally think it an
advantage — if she ever was the partner of
his home. There seemed to him now some-
thing wrong in the thought, a mean sort of
petty feeling, unworthy of a fine nature. He
wondered if Bee — Bee ! How unlikely it
was that she would ever consider that
question, or know anything further about his
house or his ways of living — she who had
thrust him away from her at the very moment
when her heart ought to have been most
soft — when love was most wanted to
strengthen and uphold. Not her father's
will, but her own. And your own heart will
explain it. His own heart ! in which there
was nothing but truth and devotion to her.
He arrived thus at his mother's house
very depressed in spirits. Mrs. Leigh was
VOL. II. H
98 THE SORCERESS.
not the ordinary kind of mother for a young
man Hke Aubrey Leigh. She was not one
of those mothers wholly wrapped up in their
children, who are so general. She had all
along made an attempt at an independent life
of her own. When Aubrey married she was
still a comparatively young woman, by no
means disposed to sink her identity in him
or his household. Mrs. Aubrey Leigh might
possess the first place in the family as the
queen regnant, but Mrs. Leigh, in her per-
sonality a much more important person, had
no idea of being swamped, and giving up her
natural consequence. She was still a con-
siderable person, though she was not rich,
and inhabited only a sort of jointure-house, a
'' small place " capable of holding very few
visitors. Aubrey was her only son, and she
was, of course, very fond of him — of course,
she was very fond of him — but she had no
intention of sinking into insignificance or
living only in the reflection of Aubrey, still
less of his wife.
Hurstleigh, where Mrs. Leigh lived, was
near the sea, and near also to the county
town, which was a brisk and thriving seaport.
THE SORCERESS. 99
It was an "old house that had known many
fluctuations, an ancient manor house, inhabited
once by the Leighs when they were of
humbler pretentions than now ; then it
became a farm-house, then was let to a hunt
ing man, who greatly enlarged the stables ;
and now it was a jointure-house, the stables
veiled by a new wing, the place in that trim
order which denotes a careful master, and
more particularly mistress ; with large lattice
windows, heavy mullions, and a terrace with
stone balustrades running all the length of
the house. Mrs. Leigh generally sat in a
room opening upon this terrace, with the
windows always open, except in the coldest
weather, and there it was that Aubrey made
his way, without passing through the house.
His mother was sitting at one of her
favourite occupations — writing letters. She
was one of those women who maintain a
large correspondence, chiefly for the reason
that it amuses them to receive letters and to
feel themselves a centre of lively and varied
life ; besides that, she was considered a very
clever letter writer, which is a temptation to
everyone who possesses, or is supposed to
lOO THE SORCERESS.
possess, that qualification. She rose quickly,
with a cry of " Aubrey ! " in great surprise.
"You are the last person I expected to
see," she said, when she had given him a
warm welcome. " I saw the death in the
papers, and I supposed, of course, you would
*• I have just come from Kings warden," he
said, with a little nod of his head in assent ;
" and yet I was not there."
" Riddle me no riddles, Aubrey, for I never
was good at guessing. You were there and
yet you were not there ^"
" I am afraid — I am no longer a welcome
visitor, mother," he said, with a faint smile.
*'What!" Mrs. Leigh's astonishment was
so great that it seemed to disturb the after-
noon quiet which reigned over the whole
domain. '* What ! Why, Aubrey! It was
only the other day I heard of your engage-
"It is quite true, and yet it has become
ancient history, and nobody remembers it
"What do you mean?" she cried. "My
dear Aubrey, I do not understand you. I
THE SORCERESS. lOI
thought you were dangling about after your
young lady, and that this was the reason why
I heard so little of you ; and then 1 was much
startled to see that announcement in the
papers. But you said she was always delicate.
Well, but w^hat on earth is the meaning of
this other change ?"
" I told you, mother. For some time I
was but half accepted, pending Colonel
"Oh, yes; one knows what that sort of
thing means ! And then Colonel Kingsward
generously consented — to one of the best
matches in England — in your condition of
" 1 am not a young duke, mother."
" No, you are not a young duke. I said
in your condition of life, and the Kingsw^ards
are nothing superior to that, I believe. Well
— and then ? That was where your last
letter left me."
" I am ashamed not to have written,
mother ; but it wasn't pleasant news — and I
always hoped to change their mind."
" Well ? I suppose there was some cause
for it ?" she said, after waiting a long minute
or two for his next words.
I02 THE SORCERESS.
He got up and walked to the window,
which, as has been intimated, was also a door
opening and leading out on to the terrace.
" May I shut this window ?"^he said, turning
his back on her ; and then he added, still
keeping that attitude, " it was [of course
because of that old affair."
-What old affair?"
" You generally understand at half a word,
mother ; must I go inio the whole nauseous
She came up to him and laid her hand on
his shoulder. " Miss Lance," she said.
" What else ? I haven't had so many
scandals in my life that you should stand in
'' Scandals !" she exclaimed ; and again was
silent for a moment. '' Aubrey, explain it to
me a little. How did that business come to
their ears ?''
" Oh, in the easiest way, the simplest
way !" he cried, " The injured woman called
on the father of the girl who was going to be
given to such a reprobate as me." He
laughed loudly and harshly, preserving the
most tragic face all the time.
THE SORCERESS. IO3
"The injured woman! Good heavens!
And was the man such an ass — such an
'' He is not an ass, mother ; he is a modei
of every virtue. My engagement, if you Hke
to call it so, lasted about a week, and then I
was suddenly turned adrift."
" Aubrey, when did all this happen ?''
" I suppose about three weeks ago. Pardon
me, mother, for not having written, but I had
no heart to write. I left them at Cologne,
and travelled home by myself, and the first
thing I did, of course, was to go and see
Colonel Kings ward."
" Well ?"
" No, it wasn't well at all. He refused to
listen to me. Of course, I got it out from
my side as well as I could, but it made
no difference. He would not hear me. He
would understand no excuse."
"And the ladies?"
" Mrs. Kings ward was too gentle and
yielding. She never opposed him, and — "
" Aubrey, the girl whom you loved, and
had such faith in — Bee, don't you call
her ?— "
I04 THE SORCERESS.
" Bee — stood by me, mother ; never
hesitated, gave me her hand, and stood by
"Ah, well," said Mrs. Leigh, with a little
sigh of relief, "then that's all right. The
father will soon come round — "
" So I should have said yesterday. I left
them In that full faith. But since they
came back to Kingswarden something has
happened. I wrote to her, but I got no
answer — I supposed It was her mother's
illness — now I have found that he stops my
letters ; but something far worse — wait a
moment — she, Bee herself, wrote to me
yesterday, dismissing me without a word
of explanation — declaring she did it by her
own will, not her father's — and adding, my
conscience would tell me why."
Mrs. Leigh looked her son straight In the
face for a full minute. " Aubrey — and does
your conscience tell you why ?"
" No, mother. I am too bewildered even to
be able to think — I have not an idea what she
means. She knew all there was to know —
without understanding it in the least. It
needn't be said — and held fast to her word ;
THE SORCERESS. IO5
and now I know no more what she means
than you do. Mother, there's only one thing
to be done — you must take it in hand."
"I take your love affairs in hand!"
But though Mrs. Leigh said this it is by no
means certain that she meant it even at the
first moment. It is only a very prudent
woman who objects to being asked to
interfere in a young man's love affairs.
Generally the request itself is a compliment,
and not less, but perhaps more so, when made
to a mother by her son. And Mrs. Leigh,
though a sensible and prudent person enough
in ordinary affairs, did not attain to the
height of virtue above indicated. When she
went upstairs to change her gown for dinner,
after talking it over and over with Aubrey in
every possible point of view, her mind,
though she had not yet consented in words,
had begun to turn over the best methods of
THE SORCERESS. lOJ
opening the question with the Kingswards,
and what it would be wisest in the circnm-
stances to do. That Aubrey should be
beaten, that he should have to give up the
girl whom he loved, and of whom he gave so
exalted a description, seemed the one thing
that must not be permitted to be. Mrs.
Leigh was very anxious that her son should
marry, if it were only to wipe out the episode
of that little, silly Amy, who was fonder of
her friend than of her husband ; and the half
ludicrous, half tragic chapter of l/uil woman,
staying on, resisting all efforts to dislodge
her for so long, until she had as she thought
acquired rights over the poor young man,
who was not strong-minded enough to turn
her out of his house. To obliterate these
circumstances from the mind of the county
altogether, as could only be done by a happy
and suitable marriage, Mrs. Leigh would
have done much, and, to be sure, her son's
happiness was also dear to her. Poor
Aubrey ! His first adventure into life had
not been a happy one, and his descriptions of
Bee and all her belongings had been full of
a young lover's enthusiasm, not tame and
I08 THE SORCERESS.
tepid as she had always felt his sentiments
towards Amy to be. What would it be best
to do if I really undertake this business, she
said to herseh'. Herself replied that it was
not a business for her to meddle with, that
she would do no good, and many other dis-
suasions of the conventional kind ; but, when
her imagination and feelings were once lit up,
Mrs. Leigh was not a woman to be smothered
in that way. After dinner, without still
formally undertaking the mission, she talked
with Aubrey of the best ways of carrying it
out. If she did interfere, how should she set
about it? '' Mind, I don't promise anything,
but supposing " Should she write ?
Should she go ? Which thing would it be
best to do .'^ If she made up her mind to go,
should she write beforehand to warn them ?
What, on the whole, would it be most appro-
priate to do ?
The method finally decided upon between
them — "if I go — but I don't say that I wil
go — " was that Mrs. Leigh should first, with
out warning or preparation, endeavour to see
Bee, and ascertain whether any new repre-
sentations had been made to her to change
THE SORCERESS. IO9
her mind ; and then, according to her success
or non-success with Bee, decide whether she
should ask an interview with her father.
Aubrey slept under his mother's roof with
greater tranquility and refreshment than he
had known for some time, and with some-
thing of the vague hope of his childhood that
she could set everything right, do away with
punishment or procure pleasure, when she
took it in hand. It had always been so in
the childish days, which seemed to come near
him in the sight of the old furniture, the well-
known pictures and ornaments and curiosities
which Mrs. Leigh had brought with her
when she settled in this diminished house.
How well he remembered them all ! — the old
print of the little Samuel on his knees, the
attitude of which he used half-consciously to
copy when he said his prayers ; the little old-
fashioned books in blue and brown morocco
on the shelves, the china ornaments on the
mantel-piece, tie smiled at their antiquity
now-a-days, but he had thought them very
grand and imposing once upon a time.
In the morning Mrs. Leigh coquetted a
little, or else saw the whole subject in a
I lO THE SORCERESS.
colder light. " Don't you think it is possible
that I might do more harm than good," she
said ; " things might settle of themselves if
you only give them a little time. Colonel
Kingsward would come to his senses, and
" Mother," cried Aubrey, pale with alarm,
''on the contrary. Do you forget the
circumstances ? Mrs. Kingsward is dead,
there is a large family of little children, and
Bee is of the race of the Quixotes. Don't
you see what will happen ? She will get it
into her mind, and everybody will persuade
her, that as the eldest daughter she is wanted
at home. It will be impressed upon her on
all sides, and unless there is a strong
influence to counteract it, and at once. Bee is
lost to me for ever."
" My dear, don't be so tragical. These
dreadful things don't happen in our days."
" You may laugh, mother, but it is no
laughing matter to me."
** I don't laugh," she said. '' I see the
strength of your argument ; but, my dear
boy, nothing will be so effectual in showing
your Bee the happiness that is awaiting her
THE SORCERESS. Ill
as a little trial of the troubles of a large
family on her shoulders. I know what it is.'
Aubrey sprang from his seat though it was
in the middle of his breakfast. " Mother," he
said, ** there is one thing that I believe you
will never know — and that is, Bee. The
burden is exactly what will hold her fast
beyond any argument — the sense of duty —
the feeling that she is bound to take her
What was in Mrs. Leigh's mind was the
thought : Ah. that's all very well at first, till
she has tried it. But what she said was : " I
beg your pardon, Aubrey. Of course, that is
a much more elevated feeling. Sit down, my
dear, and take your breakfast. It is not my
fault that I don't know Bee."
Upon which Aubrey had to beg her pardon
and sit down, commiserating her for that
deficiency, which was indeed her misfortune
and not her fault
At the end Mrs. Leigh was wound up to
take the strongest step possible. She joined
her son in London after about a week had
elapsed. He chafed at the delay, but
allowed that to leave Bee in quiet for a few
1 I 2 THE SORCERESS.
days after all the storms that had gone over
her head was necessary. Mrs, Leigh went
down early on a bright October morning to
Kingswarden with much more excitement
than she had expected to feel. She was
herself inclined to take a lighter view,
to laugh at the idea of interrupted letters
or parental cruelty, and to believe that
poor Bee was worn out, her nerves all
wrong, and possibly her temper affected
by the irritability which is so apt to
accompany unaccustomed grief, and that ^in
a little time she would of herself come round.
Seeing, however, that these suggestions only
made Aubrey angry, she had given them up,
and was in fact more influenced than she
cared to show by his emotion and anxiety
when she thus sallied forth into the unknown
to plead her son's cause. They had ascer-
tained that Colonel Kingsward had returned
to his office, so the coast was clear. Only
the two girls and the little children were at
home. Mrs. Leigh said to herself as she
walked to the gate that it was a shame to
take the little girl, poor little thing, thus
unprotected, with nobody to stand by her.
THE SORCERESS. II3
If it were not that it was entirely for her
good — nobody that knew Aubrey would
deny that he would make the best husband
in the world, and surely to have a good
house of her own, and a good husband, and
distinct place in the world was better than to
grow to maturity a harassed woman at the
head of her father's house, acting mother to a
troop of children who would not obey her,
nor even be grateful for her kindness to
them. Surely there could not be two
opinions as to what it would be best for the
girl to do. Yet she felt a little like a wolf
going down into the midst of the lambkins
when she opened the unguarded gate.
Mrs. Leigh was a clever woman, and a
woman of the world. She had a great deal
of natural understanding, and a considerable
knowledge of life, but she was not unlike
in appearance the ordinary British matron,
who is not much credited with these qualities.
That is to say, she was stout — which is a
calamity common with the kind. She had
white hair, considerably frizzed on the top of
the forehead, as it is becoming to white hair
to be, and dark eyes and good complexion.
VOL. II. I
114 THE SORCERESS.
These things were In her favour ; still, it is
impossible to deny that when Bee and Betty-
saw coming towards them, following the foot-
man across the lawn, a stout figure, not very
tall, nor distinguishable from various ladies in
both country and town whom they knew, and
with the natural impertinence of youth set
down as bores, they had both a strong revolt
in their minds against their visitor. '' Oh,
who is it — who is it ?'' they said to each other.
*'Why did James let her in? Why did he
let anyone in .^"
It was a warm morning, though the season
was far advanced, and they were seated
again on that bench under the tree where
they had watched the white cloud floating
away on the night of their mother's death.
They went there instinctively whenever they
went out. "Mother's tree," they began to call
it, and sat as she had been used to do, with
the children playing near, and nurse walking
up and down with the baby in her arms.
They had been talking more that morning
than ever before. It was little more than a
week since Mrs. Kings ward's funeral, but
they were so young that their hearts now and
THE SORCERESS. I I 5
then for a moment burst the bondage of their
sorrow, and escaped the length of a smile or
two. It was not much ; and, to be sure, for
the children's sake it was indispensable that
they should not be crying and miserable
always, as at first they had felt as if they
must continually be. But it was another
thing to receive visitors and have perhaps to
answer questions about the circumstances of
*' Mrs. — ? w^hat did James say ?" Neither
of them were sure, though a thrill ran
through Bee's veins. It was a stranger.
Who could it be ?
" I have to apologise for coming — without
knowing you — and at such a time," said ]\Irs.
Leigh, making a little pause till the nurse
had got to the end of the gravel walk with
the baby, and James was out of hearing. ''It
is you who are Bee, is it not?" she said,
suddenly taking the girl's hands. " I am
the mother of Aubrey Leigh."
All the colour went out of Bee's face ; she
drew away her hands hurriedly, and dropped
upon her mother's seat. She felt that she
had no power to say a word.
I I 6 THE SORCERESS.
" Oh, I thought it was Mrs. Leigh he
said," cried Betty, "but I could not suppose
— oh, Mrs. Leigh, whatever Bee may say, I
am so glad, so glad to see you — perhaps you
will be able to make things right."
" I hope I shall," said Mrs. Leigh, ''and I
shall always be obliged to you, my dear, for
giving me your countenance. But your
sister does not look as if she meant to let me
put things right."
" I am sorry if I seem rude," said Bee,
gathering herself together, ''but — I don't
think that papa would like us to receive
" I am not a common visitor," said Mrs.
Leigh. " I hope you will do me the credit
to think that it is with a very different feeling
I come. I am very, very sorry for you,
so young as you are — more sorry than I
can say. And, Bee, if indeed I am to hope
to be one day your mother — "
Bee did not speak ; but she fixed her
blue eyes upon her visitor with a sort of
entreaty to be left alone, and mournfully
shook her head.
"We can't think just now of that name,"
THE SORCERESS. I I 7
said little Betty, with the tears standing in
" My dear children, I came to try to com-
fort you, not to open your wounds. Dear,"
she said, putting her hand on Bee's shoulder,
"you would not see Aubrey, nor let him have
a word from you. But he said you had heard
everything an evil woman could say, and did
not give him up for that — and he is heart-
broken. He thought perhaps you would tell
me if he had done anything to displease you
— or if it was only the effect of your grief, to
which he would be submissive at once. All
he wanted was to share your trouble, my
This was not at all what "Sirs, Leigh in-
tended to say. She had meant to represent
her visit as one of sympathy solely, without
at first referring to the hard case of Aubrey ;
but Bee's looks had confused even this ex-
perienced woman. The girl's pale face put
on an expression of determined decision, or
rather of that blank of resistance to enter-
ing upon the question, which is a kind of
defence which it is almost impossible to
Il8 THE SORCERESS.
*' I would rather, If you please, not say
anything of Mr. Leigh."
'' Dear child ! Do not take that tone. If
he has done anything that does nor please
you, how Is he ever to clear himself If you
will not tell him what It Is."
"She Is like this all the time," cried Betty;
" she will not say what Is wrong — and yet
she Is just as miserable herself as anyone
Bee gave her sister a look In which Mrs.
Leigh, closely watching, saw the lightening
of the glance, the brilliancy and splendour of
the blue eyes of which Aubrey had raved.
Poor little Betty was Illuminated as If with a
great flame. It was all that she could do to
restrain a very inappropriate smile. '' You
know nothing, and how do you dare to say
anything ?" Bee said.
" I am sure that Bee Is just," said the older
lady. '' She would not condemn anyone
unheard. Aubrey Leigh Is my son, but we
have been separated for many years, and I
think I judge him Impartially. He does not
always please me, and I sure that at some
time or other he has much displeased you.
THE SORCERESS. II9
Your eyes tell me, though you have not said
a word. But, my dear, I have never, since
he was a child, found him out in anything
except the one thing you know, in which he
was so sorely, sorely tried. He has always
been kind. He gets into trouble by his
kindness as other men do by ill-behaviour. I
don't know what you have against him, but I
feel sure that he will clear himself if you will
let him speak. Bee "
'* I do not want," cried Bee, '' to seem
rude. Oh, I don't want to be rude ! I am
sure, quite sure, that you are kind ; but I
have nothing to say, oh ! nothing to say to
anyone. I am not able to discuss any
subject, or enter into things. I have a great
deal to think of, for I am the eldest and it
will not do for me to — to break down, or to
have any more to bear. I am very, very
sorry — and you are so kind. But I must go
in now — I must go in now."
'' Bee, Bee "
" You can stay, Betty, and talk to the lady.
You can stay, but — oh, forgive me — I cannot
— cannot help it ! I must go in now."
This was the end of Mrs. Leigh's embassy.
I20 THE SORCERESS.
She had a long talk with Betty, who was but
too glad to pour into this kind woman's
bosom all her troubles. Betty could not tell
what had happened to Bee. She was not the
Bee of old, and she did not know what it
was that had happened about Aubrey, or if
Bee had heard anything against him. She
was as much in the dark as Mrs. Leigh
herself. But she made it very evident that
Bee had a grievance, a real or supposed
ground of complaint which made her very
angry, and which she resented bitterly. What
was it ? But this Betty did not know.
Mrs. Leigh went back to her son with a
sense of humiliation which was rare in her
consciousness. She had been completely
unsuccessful, which was a thing which had
very rarely happened to her. She had
expected if she got admission at all that
anything which so young a girl might have
on her mind must have burst forth and all
have been made clear. She had expected at
once to overawe and to soothe a young
creature who loved Aubrey, and who had
some untold grievance against Aubrey. But
she was not prepared for the dual personality,
so to speak, of Bee, or the power she had
of retreating, herself, and leaving her little
122 THE SORCERESS.
sister as her representative to fulfil all neces-
sary civilities without the power of betraying'
anything that the visitor wanted to know.
She went back to town very angry with Bee ;
turned against her ; very little disposed to
sympathise with Aubrey, which she had so
freely done before. '' My dear boy," she
said, " you have made a mistake, that's all.
The elder sister has a temper like her father.
Everybody will tell you that Colonel Kings-
ward is a sharp-tempered man. But Betty
is a little darling. It is she that should have
been the mistress of Forest-leigh."
In answer to this, Aubrey simply turned
his back upon his mother. He was deeply
disappointed, but this speech turned his dis-
appointment into a kind of rage. She had
mismanaged the whole matter. That was as
clear as daylight, and such a suggestion was
an added insult. Betty! a child — -a little girl —
a nobody. His Bee seemed to tower over
her in his imagination, so different, so high
above her, another species. It was some
minutes before he could trust himself to
''Of course, you think me a fool," said
THE SORCERESS. I 23
Mrs. Leigh, "and so I am, to tell a young
man that there is another in the world equal
to the object of his fancy."
" Mother," said Aubrey, in a choked voice,
''you mistake the matter altogether. That
is not what is in question. What I want to
know is, what has been said against me, what
new thing she has heard, or in what new
light she has been taught to see me. You
might as well suggest," he cried, angrily,
"that another person might have been better
in your place — as in hers."
"If that is all I don't mind allowing it,"
said Mrs. Leigh, with an aggravation peculiar
to mothers. "You might have had some
one who would have been, all round, of more
use to you as a mother — only it's a little
late to think of that. However, without any
persiflage, here is one thing evident, that she
has some grievance against you, something
new, something definite, which she believes
you to be conscious of, which she is too proud
to discuss — I suppose ?" said Mrs. Leigh,
looking at him with the look of the too-
profoundly experienced, never sure how far
human weakness mav eo.
124 THE SORCERESS.
'' Mother!" Aubrey cried. He was as in-
dignant as she was unassured.
" Well, my dear, don't be angry. I am
not imagining anything. I only ask whether
you are quite sure that there is nothing
which might be twisted into a new accusation
against you ? There might be many inci-
dents, in which you were quite blameless,
which an enemy might twist — "
''You need not be melo-dramatic, mother."
I have nothing in the world that could be an
enemy — so far as I know."
'' Oh, as for that, there are people who
make up stories out of pure devilry. And I
had no intention of being melo-dramatie,"
said Mrs. Leigh with displeasure. She
added, after a moment, " Examine — I don't
say your conscience, which probably has
nothing to do with it — but what has occurred
for the last six months ? See if there is any-
thing which admits of a wrong interpretation,
which could be, as I say, twisted."
Aubrey paused a moment to attempt to do
as she said, but the little episode of the
railway station, the poor woman and her
babies, he did not think of If truth must be
THE SORCERESS. I25
told, he thought that incident was one of the
most creditable things in his life. He felt a
little pleased with himself when he thought
of it. It was one of those things which to
mention might seem like a brag of his own
generosity. He felt that it was really one of
the few incidents in his life which modesty
kept him from telling, one of the things in
which the right hand should not know what
the left hand did. Had he thought of it that
would have been his feeling ; but when he
was asked suddenly to endeavour to recollect
something which might be twisted to his
disadvantage, naturally this good deed — a
deed of charity if ever one was — did not
come into his mind at all. He shook his
head. " You know whether I am that kind
of man, mother."
'' Don't refer it to me, Aubrey — a young
man's mother probably is the very last person
to know. I know you, my dear, ati fond. I
know a great deal about you ; but I know,
too, that you have done many things which I
never could have supposed you would have
done : consult your own recollection. Pro-
bably it is something so insignificant that you
126 THE SORCERESS.
will have difficulty In recalling It. One can
never calculate what trifle may move a young
girl's Imagination. A grain of sand is enough
to put a watch all wrong."
Thus It will be seen that Mrs. Leigh's
long experience was after all good for some-
thing. She divined the character of the
dreadful obstacle which had come in her
son's way and shattered all his hopes. If he
had recounted to her that incident which it
would have seemed ostentation to him to
refer to, probably she would have pierced the
imbroglio at once — or could she have seen
into his life and his memory, she would, no
doubt, have put her finger at once on that
place. But there they stood, two human
creatures In the closest relation to each other
that nature can make, anxious to find out
between them the key to a puzzle which
neither of them could divine, but the secret
of which lay certainly between them, could
they but find It — and could make out
nothing. A word from the son might have
set the keen-witted mother, better acquainted
than he with the manner In which scandals
arise, on the scent. But It never occurred to
THE SORCERESS. I 27
him to say that word. They looked into
each other's faces and made out nothing.
Strange veil of individuality which is
between two human creatures, as the sea is
between two worlds, and more confusing,
more impenetrable still . than any distance !
Aubrey made the most conscientious efforts
to lay bare his heart, to discover something
that might be twisted, as she said ; but he
found nothing. His thoughts since he met
the Kingswards first had been full of
nothing but Bee — his very dreams had been
full of her. He wandered vaguely through
his own recollections, not knowing what to
look for — w^hat was there ? There was
nothing. His mother sat by, and, notwith-
standing her anxiety, could scarcely refrain
from smiling at his puzzled, troubled endeav-
our to find out something against himself.
But there was nothing to find out. He
shook his head at last, with a sort of appeal
to her out of his troubled eyes. He was
distressed not to find what he sought. " I
know nothing," he said, shaking his head.
" One never does anything very good indeed
— but not very bad either. I have just been
128 THE SORCERESS.
as I always am — not much to brag of — but
nothing to be ashamed of, between one man
" The question is between one man and
one woman, Aubrey, which is different."
" Then," he cried, with a short laugh, '' I
defy discovery. There has been nothing in
all my thoughts that need have been hidden.
You do me grievous wrong, mother, if you
can think — even if I had been inclined that
" I don't think. I have the most complete
faith in you, Aubrey. I say — anything that
could be twisted by a malign interpretation ? '
He shook his head again. ''And who
would take the trouble to make a malign
interpretation ? I assure you, I have no
" Colonel Kingsward is enemy enough."
''Ah! Colonel Kingsward. I have no
reason, however, to think that he would do a
" What do you call intercepting letters,
Aubrey ? "
" It is very antiquated and out of date, but
I don't know that it need be called dis-
THE SORCERESS. I 29
honourable ; and he has a high Idea of his
authority ; but to make a false representation
of another man "
"Aubrey, these distinctions are too fine for
me. There is only one thing that I can do.
I will now go and interview Colonel Kings-
ward. If he knows of anything new, he will
soon reveal it to me. If he goes only over
the old ground, then we may be sure that
your Jianc^ has been told something in her
own ear — something apart from her father —
which she has betrayed to no one. Unless,
perhaps, it was got from the mother "
'* Not a word about the mother. She is
dead, and she is sacred ; and besides she was
the last, the very last "
" You have yourself said she was very
" Weak so far as resisting her husband
was concerned, but incapable of an unkind
word ; incapable of any treachery or false-
hood ; a creature, both in body and soul,
whom you could almost see through."
Mrs. Leigh shook her head a little.
" I know those transparent people," she
said. " They are not always so But
VOL. II. K
130 THE SORCERESS.
never mind ; I am going to Interview Colonel
Colonel KIngsward was very courteous to
his visitor. He received her visit of sym-
pathy with polite gratitude, accepting her
excuse that so nearly connected as the
families had, been about to be, she could not
be in town without coming to express her
great regret and feeling for his family left
motherless. Colonel KIngsward was very
diorrie. He had the fullest sense of what was
expected in his position, and he did not allow
any other feeling to come In the way of that.
He thanked Mrs. Leigh for her sympathy,
and exaggerated his sense of her goodness in
coming to express It. It was more, much
more, than he had any right to expect. If
there was any alleviation to his grief It was
in the sense of the great kindness of friends
— "and even of strangers," he said, with a
grave bow, which seemed to throw Mrs.
Leigh indefinitely back into the regions of
the unknown. This put her on her mettle at
''I do not feel like a stranger," she said.
"I have heard so much of your family — every
THE SORCERESS, I3I
member of it — through my son, Aubrey. I
regret greatly that the connection which
seemed to be so suitable should hang at all
in doubt "
'* It does not hang in doubt," said Colonel
Kingsward, *' I am sorry if you have got that
impression. It is quite broken off — once for
" That is a hard thing to say to Aubrey
Leigh's mother," she said ; '' such a stigma
should not be put upon a young man lightly."
'' I am sorry to discuss such matters with a
lady. But I don't know what you call
lightly, Mrs. Leigh. I do not believe for a
moment that you would give a daughter of
your own — I do not know whether you have
daughters of your own "
" Two —happily married, thank heaven,
and off my hands."
"You will understand me so much the
better. (Colonel Kingsward knew perfectly
well all about ?^Irs. Leigh's two daughters).
I do not believe that you would have given
one of them to a man — to whom another
lady put forth a prior claim."
'' I am not at all sure of that. I should
132 THE SORCERESS.
have ascertained first what kind of person put
forth the claim "
"We need not go into these details," said
Colonel Kingsward, waving his hand.
"It is most Important to go into these
details. I can give you every particular
about this lady, Colonel Kingsward ; and so
can a dozen people, at least, who have no
interest in the matter except to tell the truth."
" The question Is closed In my mind, Mrs.
Leigh. I have no intention of opening it
" And this Is the sole ground upon which
my son is rejected ? " she said, fixing her
keen eyes upon his face.
" It is the sole ground ; It Is quite enough,
I believe. Supposing even that the lady was
everything you allege, an Intimacy between a
woman of that character and your son is
quite enough to make him unsuitable for my
" Who is not of your opinion, however,"
Mrs. Leigh said.
Colonel Kingsward was confused by this
speech. He got up and stood before the
fire. He avoided meeting her eye. " My
THE SORCERESS. I 33
daughter is very young and very Inex-
perienced," he said. '' She is at present
more moved by her feelings than her reason,
I believe that with an increase of maturer
judgment she will fully adopt my view."
Colonel Kingsward believed that he had
altogether crushed his visitor, but he w^as not
so right as he thought. Mrs. Leigh went
back to her son with triumph in her eyes.
" He knows nothing more." she said. " He
does not know that she has turned against
you. Whatever is her reason, it is some-
thing different from his, and she has not
confided it to him. I thought as much when
you told me of the letters stopped. A man
does not intercept a girl's letters when he
knows she has come round to his way of
thinking. Xow you have got to find out
what she has heard, and to set her right
about it whatever it may be."
To set'oneself to find out without any clue or
guidance what It Is which has affected the
thoughts of a girl for or against her lover —
without any knowledge of her surroundings,
or from what quarter an adverse Influence, an
111 report, could have come — who could have
spoken to her on the subject of Aubrey, or
what kind of story to his disadvantage (for
this was what Mrs. Leigh convinced herself
must have happened) she had heard — to
discover everything and counteract It, was a
mission that might well have frightened any-
one who undertook It. And I don't doubt
that Mrs. Leigh, to encourage her son, spoke
a great deal more confidently than she felt,
and that she really Intended to give herself
THE SORCERESS. 1 35
up to this discovery, and to take no rest until
she had made it, and cleared up the matter
which threatened to separate these two young
people for ever, and make havoc in both their
Aubrey himself shook his head and declared
himself to have little hope ; but he was not
really more hopeless than his mother was the
reverse. While he shook his head there was
a warm sensation of comfort at his heart.
That she should have undertaken to find it
out seemed like half the battle. When a man
retains any confidence in his mother at all,
which is by no means always the case, he is
apt to be influenced more than he is aware
by the old prejudice of childhood that she
can do anything that is wanted. She by no
means felt herself to be so powerful as he
did, though she professed her certainty of
success, and he was much more held up and
supported by her supposed convictions than
he himself allowed to appear. Thus they
separated, Aubrey remaining in town, ready
to take advantage of any occasion that might
present itself, while she returned to her home,
to make every exertion to discover the cause
136 THE SORCEKESS.
of Bee's estrangement. Very easy words to
say — but how to do it ? She had not a notion
even what kind of story had been told to Bee.
She did not know any special point of weak-
ness on the part of Aubrey which could have
been exaggerated or made to appear worse
than it was. There was no inclination to-
wards dissipation about him ; he did not
gamble ; he was not addicted to bad com-
pany. What was there to say about him ?
The episode of Miss Lance — and that was
all. And it was not the episode of Miss
Lance which had revolted Bee. Had Mrs.
Leigh ever heard of Aubrey's adventure at
the railway station, it is possible that her
mind, excited in that direction, would have
been keen enough to have divined that the
mystery was somehow connected with that ;
for it was certainly Quixotic of a young man
to put a poor woman and her children into a
sleeping-carriage — the most expensive mode
of travelling, and wholly beyond her condition
— by a mere charitable and kindly impulse.
And the world, which believes that nothing
is given without an equivalent, might easily
have made a story out of it. But then, Mrs.
THE SORCERESS. 1 37
Leigh was quite ignorant on this point,
which, as has been said, had never occurred
again to Aubrey himself, except as one of the
few actions in his hfe which he could look
back upon with entire satisfaction and even a
little complacence. And thus the only way
of setting things right was hermetically
Mrs. Leigh went back to her jointure-
house. It was near the sea, as has been
said, and near a lively seaside town, where,
in the summer, there were many visitors and
a great deal going on, strangers appearing
and disappearing from all parts of the country.
But in winter there was nothing of the kind ;
the world closed up without, leaving only the
residents, the people who were indigenous, the
contracted society of neighbours who knew
all about each other, and were acquainted
with the same pieces of news, and, excepting
by long intervals, heard but little of the
outside gossip, or the doings of other circles.
Mrs. Leigh returned to her natural surround-
ings, which knew no more of Colonel
Kingsward and his family than people in
what is called "a certain position" know of
138 THE SORCERESS.
each other — something of his name, some-
thing of his connections, but nothing of his
immediate circumstances. There were indeed
many questions about Aubrey's marriage
which she had to answer as she could. The
news of his engagement had been received
with many congratulations. Everybody felt
that poor Aubrey's first essay at matrimony
had been a very unfortunate one. The
sooner he brings a nice wife to Forest-leigh
the better, everybody had said. And when
Mrs. Leigh returned after her brief absence,
the many callers whom she received daily
were full of inquiries about the marriage. It
was generally supposed that his mother's
hasty expedition had been in some way
connected with it. She had gone about the
refurnishing, about the household linen, which
perhaps wanted renewing, and which was not
in a man's sphere — about something in the
settlements ; at all events, whatever it was,
her object must have been connected with
the approaching marriage. They came down
upon her full of the most eager questions.
" I suppose the day is fixed ? I suppose all
the arrangements are made ? How nice it
THE SORCERESS. 139
will be to see the house opened, and a new,
lively, young married couple to put a little life
in everything "• — matrons and little maids all
concurred in this speech.
"You have not heard then?" said Mrs.
Leigh, with a very grave countenance —
'* everything, alas, is postponed for the
moment. ^Nlrs. Kingsward. a most charming
woman, adored by her family, died last
"I told you it was those Kingswards!"
one of the ladies said to another.
''There are no other Kingswards that I
know of," said Mrs. Lei^h. who alwavs held
her head so high. " I went up with Aubrey
to pay them a visit of sympathy. There is a
verv laree voune familv. I found them
quite broken down with grief. Of course we
had not the heart, either Aubrey or I. to
press an arrangement in these dreadful cir-
cumstances. I confess I am rather down
about it altogether. Poor little Bee, my
future daughter- in-law, is the eldest. I am
quite terrified to hear that she has taken
some tragic resolution, such as girls are so
apt to do now-a-days, and think it her duty to
140 THE SORCERESS.
dedicate herself to her little brothers and
" Oh, but surely she would not be per-
mitted to do that — when everything was
" I hope not. I most sincerely hope not,"
said Mrs. Leigh. " Naturally, I have not
said a word to xA.ubrey. But girls now-a-
days are so full of their ideas, their missions,
and their duty, and all that !"
" Not when they are engaged to be
married," said a scoffing lady.
*' I wish I could be sure of that. Miss
Kingsward is only nineteen, just the self-
sacrificing age. I wish I could be sure .
There was something in her eye. But, how-
ever, not a word, not a word about this. I
still hope that as soon as a reasonable time
has passed "
" It is such a pity," said another, '' where
unnecessary delays are made. I am sure no
mother would wish her daughter's marriage
to be put off — things are so apt to happen. I
think it's tempting Providence when there is
" Colonel Kingsward is a very particular
THE SORCERESS. I4I
man. He will allow nothing to be done that
the most punctilious could object to. He
will not have anything spoken of even. All
the arrangements are in abeyance. It is
most trying. Of course, I am very sorry for
the family, and for him, who has lost so
excellent a wife. But, at the same time, I
can't help thinking of my own son kept
hanging in suspense, and all his plans broken
There was a chorus of regrets from all the
visitors, one party after another ; but from
more than one group of ladies as they drove
away there arose the most gloomy auguries,
spoken amid much shaking of heads. '* I
don't believe it will ever come to a marriage
after all," some said, "if Colonel Kingsward
is so very particular a man, and if he hears of
all that took place at Forest-leigh in the first
wife's time." '* Whatever took place," said
another, " it was her fault, as everybody
knows." Ah, yes," said the first speaker,
who represented more or less the common
voice, " I know the first wife was a little fool,
and whatever happened, brought it all on
herself But there is never anv business of
142 THE SORCERESS.
that sort without blame on both sides." Thus
the world generally judges, having half
forgotten what the facts of the case were,
though most of the individuals who constitute
the world could have recalled them very
easily with an effort of memory. Still, the
blurred general view is the one that prevails
after a time, and works out great injustices
without any evil intention at all.
It was thus that Mrs. Leigh thought it
prudent to forestall all remarks as to the post-
ponement of her son's marriage. She
succeeded well enough, perhaps too well.
Mrs. Kingsward's death accounted for every-
thing. Still, the impression got abroad that
Aubrey Leigh, that unlucky fellow, had
somehow broken down again. And as the
days went on and silence closed around,
further and further did Aubrey's mother find
herself from making any discovery. Indeed,
she did not try, strong as her resolves to do
so had been. For, indeed, she did not know
what to do. How was she to clear up such
a mystery ? Had she known the neighbours
about Kingswarden, and heard their talk
among themselves, she might have been able
THE SORCERESS. I 43
to form some plan of action. But her own
neighbours, who did not even know of Mrs.
KIngsward's death — how could she find out
anything from them ? She thought it over
a great deal, and when any friend of her
son's drifted near her expended a great deal
of ingenuity in endeavouring to ascertain
whether there was anything in Aubrey's life
which could have injured him in Bee's
estimation. But Mrs. Leigh was perfectly
aware, even while cautiously making these
inquiries, that whatever his friends might
know against him, his mother was the last
person who was likely to be told. As a
matter of fact, however, there was nothing
to tell, and gradually this very fruitless
quest died from her mind, and she did not
even dream of pursuing it any more.
And Aubrey remained in town disconso-
lately getting through the winter as best he
could, neglecting all his duties of hospitality,
keeping his house shut up, and leaving his
game to be shot by the gamekeepers — in-
different to everything. He could not bear
the place with which he had so many painful
associations, sharpened now by the loss of all
144 THE SORCERESS.
the hopes that had fallen so quickly of taking
Bee to it, and beginning a real life of happi-
ness and usefulness. What he wanted most
in life was to fulfil all his duties — in the
happiest way in which such duties can be
fulfilled, after the methods of an English
country gentleman with sufficient, but not
too great position, money, and all that
accompanies them. He was not an enraoe
foxhunter, or sportsman, but he was quite
disposed to follow all the occupations and
recreations of country life, to maintain a
hospitable house, to take his part of every-
thing that was going on in the county, and
above all, to efface the recollection of that
first chapter of his life which had not been
happy. But all these hopes and intentions
seemed to have been killed in him by the
cutting off of his new hopes. He kept up
his confidence in his mother until he went to
her at Christmas to spend with her those
days of enforced family life which, when
they are not more, are so much less happy
than the ordinary course of life. He went
down still full of hope, and though Mrs.
Leigh received him with professions of un-
THE SORCERESS. 1 45
impaired confidence, he was quick to see that
she had in reaHty done nothing— for that best
of all reasons, that there was nothing to do.
" You don't seem to have made progress,
however," he said, on the first night.
" No, perhaps I have not made much
progress. I don't know that I expected to
make much progress — at this time of the
year. You know in winter one only sees
one's neighbours, who know nothing. Later
on, when the weather improves, when there
is more coming and going, when I have more
This did not sound very cheerful, but it
was still less cheerful when he saw how little
even his mother s mind was occupied with his
affairs. It was not her fault ; all the thinking
in the world could not make Bee's motives
more clear to a woman living at a distance of
three or four broad counties from Bee. And
one of Aubrey's married sisters was in some
family difficulty which occupied all her
mother's thoughts. Aubrey did not refuse to
be interested in his sister. He w^as willing
to give anything he could, either of sympathy
or help, to the solving of her problem ; but,
VOL. II. L
146 THE SORCERESS.
conscious of so much in his own fate that was
harder than could fall to the lot of any
comfortable, middle-aged person, it must be
allowed that he got very tired of hearing of
Mary's troubles. He answered rather curtly
on one or two occasions, and chilled his
mother, whose heart was full of Mary, and
who was already disposed to blame herself
in respect to Aubrey, yet to be irritated by
any suspicion of blame from him. On the
last morning of his stay he had begged her,
if she could abstract her thoughts for a
moment from Mary, to think of him. " I
don't want to trouble you further, mother. I
only want you to tell me if you think my
whole business so hopeless that I had better
give every expectation up ?"
"Think your business hopeless, Aubrey?
Oh, no ; I don't think that."
" But we know just as much now as we
did in October. I do not think we have
advanced a step — — "
"If you mean to reproach me with my
want of success, Aubrey !"
'' No — I don't mean to reproach you with
anything, mother. But I think it seems just
as hopeless as ever — and not a step nearer."
THE SORCERESS. I 47
"Things cannot be clone in a moment,"
she said, hurriedly. " I never expected —
When the summer comes round, when one
sees more people, when one can really pursue
one's inquiries ." Mrs. Leigh was very
conscious that she had pursued few inquiries,
and the thought made her angry. '' Rome,"
she added, " was not built in a day."
Aubrev Lei^h said no more — but he went
back to London feeling that he was a beaten
man, and the battle once more lost.
There is nothing more curious in life than
the way in which it closes over those great
incidents that shape its course. Like a stone
disappearing in a pool, the slow circles of
commotion widen and melt away, the missile
sinks into the depths of the water, and
tranquility comes back to its surface. Every
ripple is gone, and yet the stone is always
This curious calm came into the life of Bee
Kingsward after the incidents related above.
The man with whom she had expected to
share everything disappeared from her exis-
tence as if he had never entered into it, and
a dead peace fell over her, and all things
around her. It was at once better for Bee
THE SORCERESS. 1 49
and worse that the mourning for her mother
swept her away out of all the coming and
going of ordinary life for a time — better
because she w^as saved the torment of a per-
petual struggle with her trouble, and worse
because it shut her up to a perpetual
recollection of that trouble. The Kino^sward
family remained at Kings warden for the
whole of that winter and spring. When the
season began there was some question of
removing to town, which Bee opposed
strongly. '' I have no wish to go out," she
said. " I could not, papa, so soon And
we have no one to take us."
" You will find plenty of people ready to
take you," he said.
And then Bee took refuge in tears.
'* Nobody — that we could endure to go with
— so soon, so soon ! — not yet a year," she
said. Betty followed her sister dubiously.
It was natural that she should always echo
what Bee said, but this time she was not
quite so sure as usual. Xot to balls ? Oh, not
to balls ! was Betty's secret comment, but —
Betty felt that to speak occasionally to some
one who was not of her own familv — not the
150 THE SORCERESS.
Rector or the Rector's wife, the Curate or
the Doctor — would be an advantage ; but
she did not utter that sentiment. After all,
what was one season to the measureless
horizon of eighteen ? Bee renounced her
season eagerly, and uttered exclamations of
content when Colonel Kingsward announced
that, in those circumstances, he had let their
house in town. But I am not sure that she
w^as so completely satisfied as she professed
to be. She had dismissed Aubrey "for ever"
— and yet, when the deed was clone, a longing
seized her sometimes to hear his name,
that someone should speak of him in
her presence, that she should hear accident-
ally where he was, and what he was doing.
She had imagined little scenes to herself in
which she had heard strangers saying to each
other that Aubrey Leigh had soon got over
his disappointment, that he was going to be
married to So-and-So ; or that he was going
to make the tour of the world, or to shoot
big game in Africa ; or, anything in short, so
loner as it was about him. Even when she
had been so determined against going out,
there had been a hope in her mind that some-
THE SORCERESS. I5I
how, she did not know how, some news of
him and what he was doing might be wafted
her way accidentally. She did not want, she
said to herself passionately, ever to hear his
name again ! Yet she had calculated on
hearing as much as that, hearing quite acci-
dentally, at the Royal Academy, perhaps, or
somewhere where she might happen to be
calling, that he was going to the ends of the
earth, or that he was going to be married —
things which the speakers might suppose
were not of the slightest interest to her. She
said all the same that she was delighted when
Colonel Kingsward informed them that he
had let the house in town — very glad ! before
it had time to get shabby, the poor old house;
yet, when she retired to her room for the
night, Bee cried, shedding many salt tears.
But nothing of this was apparent in her
life. The circles had all melted away from
the still bosom of the pool. The household
resumed its former regularity, quickened a
little, perhaps, by the energetic sweeping of
the new broom. Mrs. Kingsward had been
an easy mistress about many trifles, which
Bee, new to authority, and more enterprising
152 THE SORCERESS.
than her mother, exacted a rigid account of.
At the beginning she set all the servants by
the ears, each of them being anxious to
show that their own conscientiousness was
perfect, and their desire to consider their
master's interests ; but, by degrees, matters
settled down with an increased strictness of
order. " As mamma would have wished it,"
Bee said ; and she herself changed in a way
that would be alm.ost miraculous were it not
a transformation commonly visible from time
to time, from a light-hearted girl, full of little
amusing misdemeanours and mistakes, into
that sweet serious figure of the eldest
daughter, the mother-sister, so often visible
in England when the mistress of the house-
hold has been removed in early life. There
is no more beautiful or more tender vision ;
it is fine at all ages, but in the first bloom of
youth it has a pathetic grace which goes to
the heart. Bee underwent this change quite
suddenly, after a period of trouble and
agitation and over activity. It might not
perhaps have come but for the letting for the
season of the town house, which seemed to
make so complete a severance between her
and the ordinary current of life.
THE SORCERESS. 153
It was perhaps this that opened what
might almost be called a new relationship
between Bee and her brother Charlie, who
was the nearest to her in the family, though
there had not been hitherto an unusual
sympathy between them. For one thing,
Betty feeling herself a little forlorn in the
country with all the echoes of London, which
occasionally came to her ears, had been
permitted to accept an invitation to Portman
Square to visit a quiet elderly family, not
likely to lead her into any dissipation out of
keeping with her black frock, and Bee was
virtually alone with the children, to whom
she gave herself up with a devotion which
was the very quintessence of motherhood.
Colonel Kings ward also was in town — a man
cannot shut himself up (this was what he
said) w^hatever his private griefs may be.
He must keep a calm face before the world,
he must not allow himself to be hustled out
of the way. For this reason, he remained in
London, living in chambers, to which he had
an official right, in the dingy official grandeur
of Pall jNIall, and coming to Kingswarden
only now and then from Saturday to Monday.
154 THE SORCERESS.
This sundered Bee still more completely
from the world. And when Charlie came
back from Oxford she was more eager to
meet him, more pleased with his company
than ever before. This was not perhaps
entirely the young man's mind. That he
should choose to shut himself up in the
country in June was perhaps scarcely to be
expected. According to the curious rule
which prevails in England he "did not mind"
the country in January. But in June! How-
ever, it was soon apparent that there were
other things than the season in Charlie's
mind. He began a series of lamentations to
Bee upon the situation of the family and
things in general, by the usual complaint of a
young man in the country of having ''nothing
"A man cannot sit at home and dot up
the accounts like you," he said, "though I
don't say but that it's hard upon you, too.
Still, women like to tie up children's sashes
and that sort of thing, and calculate how
much their boots cost in a year. I say,
mother can't have had half such an easy life
as we all thought."
THE SORCERESS. I 55
" I never thought she had an easy hfe,"
said Bee, which was perhaps not exactly true,
but the things that Bee had thought a year
ago were so unHke the things she thought
now that she did not beheve hfe had ever
appeared to her in a different hght.
'' Well," said Charlie, " she had a way of
making it appear so. Do you remember
that last time at the Baths ? What a little
thing you seemed then, Bee, and now here
I am talking to you quite seriously, as if you
were mother. Look here. I want you to
speak to the governor for me. I am doing
no good here. In fact, there's nothing to do
— unless I am to drop into drinking and that
sort of thing in the village."
" Charlie ! "
" Well," he said, " I can't sit and sew
strings on pinafores like you. A man must
do something at my age."
*' And what should you do at Oxford ?
And why do you want to go there when
everybody is away ?"
" Everybody away ! That is all you know.
The dons are away, if that is what you mean.
There are no lectures going on. But lectures
156 THE SORCERESS.
are a mere loss of time. There are lots of
fellows up there reading. If you want to
read hard, now Is the best time."
'' How curious," said Bee, in genuine sur-
prise, "when all the people who teach are
away ! And I never knew that you wanted
to read hard."
'' No. I never was made to think that I
ought to," said Charlie, with rising colour.
" In this house nobody thinks of anything
more than just getting through."
Bee was a little angry as well as surprised
by this censure upon the family. She said,
*' The rest of us may not be clever — but
everybody says there are few men that know
as much as papa."
" Oh, In his special subjects, I suppose,
but I am not going in for the army. Bee,"
said Charlie, the colour rising higher on his
young face, which was still an ingenuous face,
though not of a very high order. "It is
such a wonderful thing to have your duty set
before you, and how you ought to make the
best of your life. I, for one, never thought
of it before. I was always quite satisfied to
get through and to have plenty of time to
THE SORCERESS. I 57
amuse myself ; but if you come to think of It
that's a very poor sort of Ideal for a life."
Bee looked up at Charlie with more and
more surprise. He was pulling his young
moustache nervously, and there was a great
deal of emotion In his face. It seemed
amazlnof to his sister that Charlie — Charlie
who had always been on the unemotional
side, should take this heroic tone, or do any-
thing but laugh at the suggestion of an Ideal
In life. She gazed at him In some bewilder-
ment. '' What are you going to read ?" she
asked, with doubt and wonder In her voice.
'' It Is just like a girl to ask a man what he
Is going to read ! Why, everything. I just
pushed through my mods., you know — a pass
— which It covers me with shame to think of
now. I must do something better than that.
I don't know that I'm very good at anything,
but work, after all, steady work, Is the great
thing ; and If work can do it ! " cried
Charley, breaking off, a little breathless, with
a strange light in his eyes.
"You almost frighten me, Charlie. You
were never meant for honours or a high
degree, were you ? Papa said you need not
158 THE SORCERESS.
go in for honours, It would lose time ; and
you thought so, too."
" I have changed my mind," said Charlie,
nervously. I thought, like other asses, that
in diplomacy you don't want much ; but now
I think differently. How are you to under-
stand how to conduct national affairs and all
that, and reconcile conflicting claims, and so
forth, and settle the real business of the
'' But Charlie, I thought it was languages,
and great politeness, and — and even dancing,
and that sort of thing, that was wanted in an
attache — — ^"
" Attaches," said the young man, with a
gravity which, serious as she also was, almost
made Bee laugh, "are the material out of
which ambassadors are made. Of course, it
takes time "
" Here Bee burst, without meaning it, Into
a nervous laugh.
"You are so dreadfully serious about it,"
" And w^hat should a man be serious about,
if not that ? " the young man replied.
Here for the moment, in great impatience
THE SORCERESS. 1 59
on his i^art, and in the call of some little
household necessity on hers, the conversation
closed ; but it was resumed as soon as the
brother and sister were together again. The
big boys were still at school, the little ones
engaged with their lessons, and baby walking
up and down in his nurse's arms, did not
interrupt the talk which went on between the
elders of the family. And there is nothing
with which it is so easy to indoctrinate a
girl than enthusiasm about an ideal, whatever
that may be, or sympathy in a lofty view of
duty such as this, which had dawned, it
seemed, upon her brother. Bee took fire, as
was so natural. She said to herself, that in
the utter downfall of her own life, it would be
a fine thing to be able to further his, and
kept to the idea of Charlie as ambassador,
settling all sorts of difficulties and deciding
the fortunes of the world for war or for
peace, as easily as if the question had been
one of leading a cotillion. How splendid
it would be ! She thought of herself as an
old lady, white-haired, in a cap and shawl —
for, in an imagination of twenty, there
are few gradations between youth and that
l6o THE SORCERESS.
pathetic, yet satisfactory ultimate period —
seated in a particular corner of a magnificent
room at the Embassy, looking on at her
brother's triumph. These sort of reflected
successes were the only ones she thought
that would ever come to Bee.
'' Charlie wishes to go up to Oxford to
read. Why does he wish to go up to Oxford
to read ? And what reading is it necessary
to do there ?''
"He says, papa, that it is easier to get on
when you have all your books about you —
and when you can arrange all your way of
living for that, instead of the interruptions at
"Oh, there are too many interruptions at
home ? I should have thought you were
quiet enough here. I hope you have not
thrown yourself into lawn tennis parties, and
tea parties, and that sort of thing — so soon,
VOL IL M
I 62 THE SORCERESS.
Her father looked at her with a seriously-
reproachful air. He had begun to dine out
pretty freely, though only in serious houses,
and where, he explained, it would be pre-
judicial to him in his profession not to
The undeserved reproach brought quick
tears to Bee's eyes. '' I have thrown myself
into no parties," she said, hastily. '' Nobody
has been here. What Charlie means is the
meal times, and hours for everything, and all
the children about. I have often heard you
say that you couldn't work when the children
were playing about."
*' My work and Charlie's are rather
different," Colonel Kingsward said, with a
" Well, papa ! but to read for a good
degree, so that you may distinguish yourself,
must want a great deal of application "
*' Oh, he wants a good degree, does he ?
He should have thought of it a little earlier.
And what use will that be to him in the
Foreign Office ? Let him learn French and
German — that's what he has got to do."
'* But even for French and German," said
THE SORCERESS. 1 63
Bee. " German is dreadfully difficult, and
Charlie does not pick up a language
easily ; and, besides," she added, '' he has
nobody to teach him at home "
" And who would he have at Oxford ?
Why, in the Long, even the shopkeepers go
" But that is just the time for good, hard
reading," said Bee, acting on her instructions,
'* when there are no lectures or anything
formal to interrupt you."
"He means, I suppose, w^hen he can do
whatever he likes, and there are no proctors
nor gate bills to keep him right."
" Papa," said Bee, earnestly, " I don't
think that is at all what Charlie means. I
am sure that he has a real desire to get on.
He says that he feels he has been w^asting
his time, and — and not — not responding
properly to all you have done for him. He
wants to make himself fit for anything that
may happen. If you will think, papa," she
added, with the deepest gravity, " what a
great deal of study and reading an ambassador
must require "
"An ambassador!" Colonel Kingsward
164 THE SORCERESS
was not given to laughter, but he laughed
now. *' He may think himself fortunate if he
is anything but an unpaid attache for the
next ten years — which is an office which does
not require a great deal of study."
" But, papa "
" Nonsense, Bee. He wants, I suppose,
complete freedom, and to amuse himself as
he pleases, with no control. I know what it
means to stay up at Oxford to read during
the Long. Oh, yes. I don't doubt men who
know how to grind, grind, but Charlie is
not one of them. Let him stay at home.
You are a great deal sharper than he is at
languages ; you can help him with his
German as well as anyone."
" Oh," cried Bee, from the bottom of her
heart, " not with German, not with German,
papa ! "
And there came over her a sudden vision
of the gardens at the Baths, the murmur of
talk in the air, the German officers with
their spurs, and one Englishman coming for-
ward among them, an Englishman without
spurs, without uniform, so much more dis-
tinguished, it had been Bee's pride to think,
THE SORCERESS. T65
in his simplicity, than all these bedizened
warriors — and now ! A gush of hot tears
came to her eyes. There was reason enough
for them without Aubrey Leigh, and Colonel
Kingsward, whose heart was still tender to
every recollection of his wife, did not think
of the other memory that thrilled poor Bee's
heart. He walked up and down through the
room for a moment saying nothing, and then
he paused by her side and put his hand with
an unusual caress upon his daughter's bowed
•'You are right, you are right," he said.
** I could not ask that of you. Bee."
Oh ! if I had but known ! Bee felt not
only miserable, but guilty, when her father's
touch came upon her hair. To think how
little the dear mother's presence told in that
picture, and how much, how much ! that of
the man — who had been vulgarly untrue to
her, a man without sense of purity or honour !
One whose name she never desired to hear
again. She could hardly accept the imputa-
tion of so much higher and nobler feeling
which her father's touch conveyed. The
dear mother! who never condemned, who
I 66 THE SORCERESS.
was always kind. She was moved to cry out
In self-abasement, "It was not mamma I was
thinking of, It was him ! him !" But she did
not do this. She raised her head and took
up her work again with a trembling hand.
" I suppose," said Colonel KIngsward, as
anxious as his daughter was to get away
from a subject which was too moving for
discussion, *' that Charlie finds KIngswarden
dull. It Is not unnatural at his age, and I
shall not object if he wishes to come to town
for a week or so. His own good feeling, I
hope, would keep him from anything unbe-
coming In the circumstances. But I must
hear no more of this going to Oxford. It Is
quite out of the question. If he had shown
any desire to go In for honours at the right
time . But now it is worse than folly.
He must get through as quickly as he can,
and take advantage of his nomination at
once. Who can tell how soon It may be of
no value ? The Foreign Office may be
thrown open, like all the rest, to every
costermonger in the country, in a year or two,
for anything one knows."
Charlie received this conclusion with dis-
THE SORCERESS. 167
appointment, rapidly turning into rage and
rebellion. "I should have thought the most
old-fashioned old fogey in the world would
have known better," he cried. " What,
prevent a man from reading when he is at
the University ! Did you ever hear of such
a thing, Bee ? Why, even a military man,
though they are the most obstinate in the
world, must know that to be really educated
is everything in these days. A week in
town ! What do I care for a week in town ?
It is exactly like the man in the Bible who,
being asked for bread, gave a stone."
Bee was greatly impressed by her brother's
anxiety to continue his studies. It filled her
with a respect and admiration which up to
this time she had never entertained for
Charlie, and occupied her mind much with
the question how, if her father were obdurate,
he might be aided at home in those studies.
She remembered suddenly that Mr. Burton's
curate had been spoken of as a great scholar
when he came first to the parish. He had
taken tremendous honours she had heard.
And why might not he be secured as an aid
to Charlie in his most laudable ambition ?
I 68 THE SORCERESS.
She thought this over a great deal as she
moved about her household duties. Bee
as a housekeeper was much more anxious
than her mother had been for many years.
She thought that everything that was
done required her personal attention. She
had prolonged interviews every morning
with the cook, who had been more or
less the housekeeper for a long time, and
who (with a secret sense of humour)
perplexed Bee with technicalities which
she would not allow that she did not
understand. The girl ordered everything
minutely for dinner and lunch and breakfast,
and decided what was to be for the nursery
as if she knew all about it, and reproved cook
gravely when she found that certain altera-
tions had been made in the menu when those
meals were served. " I assure you as that is
what you ordered, miss," cook said, with a
twinkle in her eye. All this Bee did, not
only because of her strong determination to
do her duty, but also because preoccupation
with all these details was her great salvation
from thoughts which, do what she would,
claimed her attention more than nursery
THE SORCERESS. 1 69
puddings and the entrt^es that pleased papa.
But while she pursued these labours there
was still time for other thoughts, and she
occupied herself very much with this question
about Charlie. Why could not Mr. Delaine
come to read with him ? Mr. Delaine had
shown an inclination to flirt with Bettty, but
Betty was now absent, so that no harm could
be done in that direction. She thought it all
out during the somewhat gloomy days which
Colonel Kingsward spent with his family in
the country. It rained all the Sunday, which
is a doleful addition to the usual heaviness of
a day in which all usual occupations are put
away. Colonel Kingsward himself wrote
letters, and was very fully occupied on
Sunday afternoon, after the Church parade
on Sunday morning, which was as vigorously
maintained as if the lessening rows of
little ones all marshalled for morning service
had been a regiment — but he did not like
to see Bee doing anything but '* reading
a book " on Sunday. And it had always
been a rule in that well-ordered house that
the toys should be put away on Saturday
evening, so that the day hung rather heavily,
170 THE SORCERESS.
especially when It rained, on the young ones'
heads. Colonel Kingsward did not mean to
be a gloomy visitor. He was always kind to
his children, and willing to be interested in
what they did and said ; but, as a matter of
fact, those three days were the longest and
the most severe of any that passed over
the widowed and motherless house. When
Bee came downstairs from the Sunday lesson,
which she gave in the nursery, she found her
brother at the writing-table in the drawing-
room, composing what seemed a very long
letter. His pen was hurrying over the page ;
he was at the fourth side of a sheet of large
paper — and opened out on the table before
him were several sheets of a very long,
closely-written letter, to which he was
evidently replying. When Bee appeared,
Charlie snatched up this letter, and
hastily folding It, thrust It Into its envelope,
which he placed in his breast pocket. He
put the blotting paper hastily over the letter
which he was himself writing, and the colour
mounted to his very forehead as he turned
half round. It was not any colour of guilt,
but a glow of mingled enthusiasm and
THE SORCERESS. IJI
shamefacedness, beautiful upon the face of a
youth. Bee was too young herself to admire
and appreciate this flush of early feeling, but
she was so far sympathetic in her own
experience, that she divined something at
least of what it meant.
''Oh, Charlie! she said, "you are writing
to someone "
" Most assuredly, I am writing to some-
one," he said, with the half pride, half shame
of a young lover.
" W^ho is she?' cried Bee. "Oh, Charlie,
tell me I Oh, tell me I Do I know who it
is ?" .
"I don't know," he said, "what you are
making such a fuss about. I am writing to
— a friend." He paused a moment, and then
said with fervour — " the best friend that ever
" A friend," cried Bee, a little disappointed.
" But isn't it a lady ?" she asked.
" I hope," he said, with a haughty air,
" that you are not one of those limited people
that think there can be no friendship
between a man and a woman, for if that's so
I ve got nothing to say."
172 THE SORCERESS.
Bee was scarcely philosophical enough to
take up this challenge. She looked at him,
bewildered, for a moment, and then said,
'' Oh, tell me about her, Charlie ! " It would
do me good — it would, indeed, to hear about
somebody whom there could not be any
objection to, who would be, perhaps, happier
than me," cried poor little Bee, the tears
coming to her eyes.
" Happier than you ? And why shouldn't
you be happy ? " said the elder brother. He
made an effort to turn away in dignified
silence, but the effort was too much for the
young man, longing to talk of the new thing
in his life. "There is no comparison at all
between a little thing like you and — and the
lady I was writing to," he said, holding his
head high. ''If you think it is any sort of
nonsense you are very much mistaken. Why,
she — she is as much above me as heaven is
from earth. That she should take the trouble
to show any interest in me at all, just proves
what an angel she is. I, an idle, ordinary
sort of fellow, and she ! — the sort of woman
that one dreams of. Bee, you can't think
what she has done for me already," Charlie
THE SORCERESS. I 73
cried, forgetting his first defiance. "I'm
another fellow ever since she began to take
notice of me."
Bee stole to her brother's side and gave
him a sympathetic stroke upon his shoulder.
'' Oh ! Charlie ! what is her name ? "
*' You wouldn't know her name if I were
to tell you," he said. And then, after a
moment's hesitation : "Her name," he went
on, " her real name as I call it, is Laura, like
Petrarch's Laura, don't you know, Bee ? But
I don't suppose you do know."
''Yes, indeed, I do," said Bee, eagerly.
She added in her turn, " I shouldn't have
thought you would know anything like that."
" No ; I'm not up to it," said Charlie, with
unexpected humility; "but I read it all up
as soon as she said it. Don't you think it's
a beautiful name ? "
" Yes," said Bee, yet not w^ith enthusiasm.
" But, oh ! " she added, " I hope she is not
married, Charlie ; for that would not be nice
" Married ! " cried Charlie. " I wish you
were not such a horrid little — Philistine. But
she is not married, if that is any satisfaction
174 THE SORCERESS.
''And Is she — beautiful, Charlie ? and are
you very, very fond of her ? Oh, Charlie ! "
Bee clasped his arm In both her hands and
sobbed. It made her feel wretched, yet
filled her with a delicious tender sense of
fellow-feeling. If he would only tell her all !
It would be hard upon her, and yet It would
be a sort of heavenly pang to hear another,
and, oh ! surely, this time, a happy love tale.
Bee sat down close by him, and clasped his
arm, and sometimes leaned her head upon It
in the warmth of her tenderness and
sympathy. And Charlie was persuaded, by
degrees, to speak. But his tale was not like
Bee's. It was a tale of a lady who had
stooped as from her throne to the young
fellow of no account — the ordinary young-
man, who could not understand how she had
come to think of him at all. It was she who
had inspired him with his new ambition, who
had made him so anxious to distinguish
himself, to make something of his life. She
had taken the trouble to write to him, to
keep him up to it since he had come '' down."
She had promised to let him come to see her
when he came ''up" again, to Inspire him
THE SORCERESS. 1 75
and encourage him. " One look at her is
better than a dozen coaches," Charlie cried,
in the fervour of his heart.
" Do you mean that you are going to see
her — in town ? " asked Bee, doubtfully.
''In town? No. She detests town. It's
all so vain and so hollow, and such a rush.
She came to live in Oxford at the beginning
of last term," Charlie said.
" Oh," said Bee, and she found no more to
say. She did not herself understand how it
was that a little chill came upon her great
sympathy with Charlie and this unknown
lady of his — friendship, if not love.
Colonel Kingsward, however, could not be
moved either by Bee's representations or by
anything said by his son to grant to Chadie
the permission, and the funds necessary,
to pursue his studies in Oxford by going
" up " to read " in the Long." It was indeed
very Httle that Charhe said to his father on
the subject. He responded somewhat sul-
lenly to the Colonel's questions.
" So I hear you want to go back to Oxford
to read ?"
'' Yes," said the young man.
" You have generally found before this
that by the end of the term you had had too
THE SORCERESS. I 77
" I suppose you want to be free of super-
vision and do exactly what you please. And
you find it dull at home ? "
" I have never said so," said Charlie.
''You ought to feel that in the circum-
stances it was appropriate that it should be
dull. Good heavens ! Were you contemplat-
ing amusing yourself, rioting with your
comrades, when your poor mother — "
'' I have never thought of rioting with
comrades," said Charlie, with averted head.
" One knows what that means — going up
to read in the Long : boats and billiards and
hotels, bands of young men in flannels
lounging about, and every decorum thrown
to the winds."
The Colonel looked severely at his son,
who stood before him turning over the pages
of a book in his hand, with lowering brows
and closed mouth.
" You think I don't know," he said, sharply;
'' but you are mistaken. What would have
been best for you would have been the
discipline of a regiment. I always thought
so, but at least I'm not going to permit every
decent bond to be broken through."
VOL II. N
178 THE SORCERESS.
"I think, sir," said Charlie, ''that it's
enough to say ' No,' without accusing me of
things I never thought of."
" I am the best judge of what is enough,"
said the angry father. ''If you want a week
or so in town, I don't object ; but Oxford in
the Long — No. I only hope," he added
severely, " that there's no woman in the
Charlie's countenance flushed crimson. He
gave his father a furious glance. "If that's
all," he said, " I may now go, perhaps ?"
"Yes, go," said the Colonel, angrily. He
was himself sorry for that last insinuation as
soon as his son had left the room. His angry
suspiciousness had carried him too far. Not
that he blamed himself for the suspicion, but
he was aware that to speak of it was a false
step and could do no good. If there was a
woman in the case, that flying dart would not
move the young man to penitence or turn
him from any dangerous way. Colonel
Kingsward, however, quickly forgave himself
for this inadvertence, and reflected with satis-
faction that, at least, he had prevented the
young fool from making an ass of himself for
THE SORCERESS. 1/9
this summer. And In such cases absence is
the best remedy and hinders much mischief.
Charlie rejected with indignation the week In
town which his father offered. " A week In
town!" he said to Bee, contemptuously, "to
waste my time and debase all my ideas !
What does he think I want with a week in
town ? That's the way a fellow's father
encourages him to do the best he can. Cuts
off all inspiration, and throws one on the
dregs of life ! It's enough to make a man
kick over the traces altogether."
" But, Charlie," said Bee, with timidity,
*' don't you think it's very, very quiet here.
We have nothing to disturb us. If you were
to try to do your work at home ? — you would
have the library to sit in all the week while
papa is in town."
''Out of reach of books, out of reach of
any coach — it's like telling a mason to build
a wall without any stone."
"The library Is full of books," said Bee,
with a little indignation.
"What kind of books? Military books,
and travels, and things for reference — old
peerages, and so forth — and some of the
l8o THE SORCERESS.
heavy old reviews, and a few novels. Much
good a man who is going in for real reading
would get out of those !"
" But you have your own books — all those
that you carry about with you, Charlie."
" Oh ! he said, with impatience, " What
are they ? Horrible cribs and things, that I
promised not to use any more."
" Does Laura," said Bee, with a little awe,
" say you are not to use cribs ? "
" And as for the quiet," said Charlie,
continuing his strain of complaint, '*if you
call that quiet ! When you never know that
next moment there may not be a rush down
the nursery stairs like wild horses let loose,
and shrieks all over the house for Bee or for
nurse, sending every idea out of a man's
head ; or else baby screaming fit to bring
down the house. You know nothing about
it, to be sure; it is like talking to the wind to
talk to a little thing like you. A man can't
work unless he's in the right place for work-
ing. If any difficulty arises in a passage,
for instance, what do you think I am to
do here ?"
*' Do you go to Laura, when there is a
difficulty about a passage, Charlie ? "
THE SORCERESS. l8l
"No, you little fool!" With a flush of
anger and shame he begged her pardon
next minute. " But It Is so hard to explain
things to you, Bee. You are so Ignorant
— naturally, for, of course, you never were
taught anything. Don't you know that
Oxford Is full of coaches ? " he said.
" That was just what I was thinking of,
Charlie — If you will not be angry, but let me
" Speak away," he said. This was on
Monday, after Colonel Kingsward had left.
The days which he spent at Kingswarden
were the heaviest, as has been said, to the
young party ; nevertheless when he went
away the blank of that long world of a week,
without any communication to speak of from
without, closed down alarmingly upon the
elders of the family. Even when papa was
cross, when he was dissatisfied with his
dinner or found fault with the noise of the
children. It was more or less an event. But
when he departed there was a sense of being
cut off from all events, separated from the
world altogether, shut out from the news and
the hum of society, which was very blank
I 82 THE SORCERESS.
and deadening. Bee and Charlie dined
alone, and it was dreary ; they spent the
evening together, or else — one in the library,
one in the garden, where the beauty of the
snmmer evening was terrible to the one poor
little girl with her recollections, incapable of
shutting them out in that utter stillness, and
trying very ineffectually not to be unhappy.
When Charlie threw open the window of the
library and strolled forth to join her, as he
generally did, it was a little better. Bee had
just done very conscientiously all her duties
in the nursery — had heard the children say
their prayers, in which they still, with a little
pause of awe, prayed God to bless dear
mother — and had made all the valorous little
efforts she could to keep down the climbing
sorrow. When she heard the sound of the
library window she quickly dried her eyes
and contrived to smile. And she was a very
good listener. She suffered Charlie to talk
about himself as much as he pleased, and was
interested in all he said. She made those
little allusions to Laura which pleased him,
though he generally answered with a scornful
word, as who should say that "a little thing
THE SORCERESS. I 83
like you " was Incapable of comprehending
that lady. But this was the sole diversion of
these young people in the evening. People
called in the afternoon, and there was
occasionally a game of tennis. But in the
evening they were almost invariably alone.
They were strolling about the garden on
this occasion when the young man bewailed
himself. Bee, though she made those allu-
sions to Laura, had never got over that little
chill in respect to her which had arisen in
the most capricious, causeless way when she
knew that Laura lived In Oxford. Nothing
could be more unreasonable, but yet It was
so. It suggested something fictitious in her
brother's eagerness to get back, and In his
supposed devotion to his work. Had his
Egeria been anywhere else Bee would not
have felt this ; but she did feel It, though she
could not tell why. She was very anxious
to please him, to content him, if possible, with
his present life, to make her sympathy sweet
to him, seeing that he had nobody but herself
to console him, and must be separated from
Laura until October. Poor Charlie ! It was
hard Indeed that this should be the case, that
184 THE SORCERESS.
he should have so dull a home and no com-
panion but his sister. But it could not be
helped ; his sister, at least, must do what she
''You must not be angry," said Bee, very
humbly. '' It is only an idea that has come
into my head — there may be nothing at all
in it — but don't please shut me up as you do
sometimes — hear me out. Charlie ! there is
''Mister — what ?" said Charlie, which in-
deed did not show a very complaisant frame
of mind — but a curate in the country is of
less importance in the horizon of the son of a
house who is at Oxford than he is in that of
the daughter at home.
"Mr. Delaine," repeated Bee. "You
don't remember him, perhaps, at all. He is
the curate. When he came first he was said
to be a great schalar. He took a first class.
You need not say, pooh ! Everybody said
so, and it is quite true."
"A first in theology, I suppose," said
"No, not that — that's not what people call
a first. Mr. Burton, I have always heard, is
THE SORCERESS. 185
a good scholar himself, and he said a first ;
of course you know better than I do what
'* Well," said Charlie, *'and supposing for
the sake of argument that he took a first —
what then ?"
•' Why, Charlie dear ! He is an Oxford
man too ; he must know all the things you
want to know — difficult passages and all that.
Don't you think, perhaps "
" Oh, a coach !" cried Charlie. Then he
paused, and with withering satire, added
''No doubt, for little boys — your curate might
do very well. Bee."
*' He is not my curate," said Bee, with
indignation ; " but I have always heard he
was a great scholar. I thought that was
what you wanted."
** It is not to be expected," said her
brother, loftily, " that you should know what
I want. It is not a coach that is everything.
If that were all, there need be no such things
as universities. What a man needs is the
whole machinery, the ways of thinking, the
arrangements, the very atmosphere."
He strolled along the walk with his hands
l86 THE SORCERESS.
in his pockets and his shoulders up to his
" I do not think it is possible," he added,
turning to her with a softened tone, "that I
could make you understand ; for it is so
different from anything you have ever
** I hope I am not so dreadfully stupid !"
said Bee, incensed. "If Laura understands,
why should it be so impossible for me ?"
" Oh, for goodness' sake talk of things you
can know something about ; as if there was
any comparison between her and you."
" I think you are very uncivil," said Bee,
ready to weep. " I may not be clever, but
yet I am your sister, and it is only because I
wanted to help you that I took the trouble to
speak at all."
"You are very well meaning. Bee, I am
sure," said Charlie, with condescension ; " I
do full justice to your good intentions.
Another fellow might think you wanted to
have Delaine here for yourself."
"Me!" cried Bee, with a wild pang of
injured feeling and a sense of the injustice,
and inappropriatness, the cruel wrong of such
THE SORCERESS. iS/
a suggestion. And that Charlie could speak
like that — who knew everything ! It was
almost more than she could bear.
'* But I don't say that," he went on in his
lofty tones. " I know you mean well. It is
only that you don't — that you can't under-
stand." How should she? he said to himself
with amusing superiority, and a nod of his
head as if agreeing to the impossibility.
Bee resented the tone, the assumption, the
comparison that was implied in every word.
" I wonder," she cried, *' if you ever tell
Laura that she doesn't and can't understand .'^"
He stopped short opposite to her, and
grasped her arm. " Bee," he said almost
solemnly, " Don't ! If you knew her you
would know what folly it is and presumption
to compare yourself for one moment ! — and
do me the favour not to profane that name,
as if it were only a girl's name like your own."
"Is she a princess, then?" cried Bee, "or
an angel ? Or what is she ?"
"She is both, I think," said Charlie, in a
voice full of awe, "at least to me. I wish
you wouldn't talk of her in that way. I am
sorry I ever told you her name. And please
155 THE SORCERESS.
just let my affairs alone. You haven't been
able to do anything for me with my father,
which is the only thing you might have done
— and I don't want to discuss other things
with you. So please just let my concerns
alone from this day."
"It was not I that ever wished to inter-
fere!" cried Bee, with great mortification and
resentment, and after a few minutes' silent
walk together in much gloom and stateliness
the brother and sister bade each other an
offended and angry good-night.
C H AFTER XIV.
This made, however, but a very temporary
breach between Bee and her brother. They
were a little stiff next morning at breakfast,
and elaborately refrained from talking on any
but the most trivial things, but by noon this
reserve had broken down, and in the even-
ing, though Bee proudly refrained from
any reference to Laura, they were as con-
fidential as ever. Bee's mind had passed
through various vicissitudes in respect to
the object of Charlie's adoration. Her first
overwhelming interest had given way to a
little doubt, and this was naturally strength-
ened by the overweaning estimate of the
unknown which Charlie thrust upon her. A
girl is very willing to admire at second-hand
190 THE SORCERESS.
her brother's love, but when she Is told that
It is presumption to compare herself with
that divinity, her sympathy is strained too
far. Bee began to have an uneasy feeling
about this unknown Laura. It was one
thing to stimulate Charlie to work, to stir up
all that was best in him, to urge him to
distinguish himself, for Charlie's sake or for
their joint sakes, if they married and became
one — which was the only thing that could
happen in Bee's idea — but it was quite
another thing to pretend an enthusiasm for
this in order that Charlie should be kept
within her reach and at her feet during that
quiet time of the long vacation. Bee knew
enough to know that severe work is not
compatible with miuch love-making. She
imagined her brother strolling away from
his books to take Laura out on the river, or
lie at her feet in the garden, which had
become the habit of his life, as he betrayed
to her accidentally. Bee thought, with a little
indignation, that the lofty intentions which
would probably end in these proceedings
were of the nature of false pretences, and
that the girl whom Charlie endowed with the
THE SORCERESS. I9I
most superlative qualities should not attempt
to take him from his home for such reason ;
or, at least, if she did should do it frankly for
love's sake — which was always a thing to be
forgiven — and not on any fictitious pretence.
For Charlie, being refused that heroic way
of working, ''going up to read," did not read
at all, as was apparent to his sister's keen
eyes. He did not attempt to do the best he
could, being prevented from doing what he
desired. He settled himself, it is true, in the
library after breakfast, with his books, as if
with the intention of working, but before
Bee got through the little lesson which she
gave every morning to the little ones, Charlie
was out strolling about the garden, or lying
on the grass in the shade with a book, which
was usually a novel, or one which lay closed
by his side while he abandoned himself to
thought — to thought, not about his books it
was to be feared, for Bee, with tremors of
sympathy in her heart, recognised too well
the dreamy look, the drooped eyelids, the air
astray from anything going on around. From
questions of study, as far as Bee had per-
ceived in her short experience, the merest
192 THE SORCERESS.
footstep on a path, the dropping of a leaf,
was enough to rouse the student. Charlie's
thoughts were of a far more absorbing kind.
Colonel Kingsward suggested once more
the week in town, when he came on another
Saturday evening to Kingswarden. He was
a man not very open to a perception of the
wants of others, but as time went on, and he
himself became more and more sensible of
the ameliorating influences of society and
occupation, the stagnant atmosphere at home,
where his two elder children were vegetating,
so much against all their previous habits,
struck him with a sensation which he could
not wholly get the better of. It was only
right that Bee, at least, should remain in the
country and in retirement the first summer
after her mother's death. It would have been
most unbecoming had she been in town seeing
people, and necessarily, more or less, been
seen by the world. But yet he felt the
stillness close round him like a sensible chill,
and was aware of the great quiet — aggravated
by his own presence, though of this he was
scarcely aware — as if it had been a blight in
the air. It made him angry for the moment.
THE SORCERESS. 1 93
In other times his house in the country had
always been refreshing and deHghtful to him.
Now, the air, notwithstanding that it was full
summer, chilled him to the bone.
When you are escaping from the atmos-
phere of grief, anything that draws you back
to It feels like an injury. He was very cross,
very impatient w^ith the silence at table, the
subdued looks of the young people, and that
they had nothing to say. Was it not worse
for him than for them ? He was the one who
had lost the most, and to whom all ministra-
tions were due, to soften the smart of sorrow.
But afterwards his thoughts towards his
children softened. It was very dull for them.
On the Sunday evening he took the trouble
to press that week in town upon Charlie.
'' There's a spare closet you can have at my
rooms at the office," he said. " It's very
central if not much else, and I daresay your
friends will ask you out quietly as they do
me. I think even you might bring up Bee
for the day to see the pictures. She could
stay the night with the Hammonds and see
*' Oh, don't think of me, papa," cried Bee.
VOL. II. o
194 THE SORCERESS.
" I would rather, far rather, stay at home. I
don't care for the pictures — this year."
" That is foolish, my dear," said the
Colonel. "There is nothing in the least
unbecoming to your mourning in going there.
Indeed, I wish you to go. You ought not to
miss the pictures, and it will be a little
change. Of course, I cannot go with you
myself, but Charlie will take you, and you
can go to Portman Square to sleep. You
will see Betty, who must be thinking of com-
ing home about now ; indeed, it is quite
necessary you should settle that with her.
She can't stay there all the season, and it is
rather heartless leaving you like this alone."
''Oh, no, papa. It is I that wish her to
stay. She would have come back long ago
but for me."
Bee's generous assumption of the blame, if
there was any blame, excited her father's
suspicion rather than admiration. He looked
at her somewhat severely. " I cannot con-
ceive what object you can have in preferring
to be alone," he said. ''It is either morbid,
or — In either case it makes it more desir-
able that Betty should come back. You can
THE SORCERESS. I 95
arrange that. We will say Wednesday. I
suppose you will not be nervous about
returning home alone ? "
'' But, papa — "
** I consider the question settled, Bee,"
said Colonel Kingsward, and after that there
was nothing more to be said.
Poor Bee wept many tears over this com-
pulsory first step back into the world —
without her mother, without She did
not mean (as she said in her inmost thonghts)
anyone else; but it made the whole world
vacant around her to think that neither on
one side nor the other was there anyone to
walk by her side, to take her hand, to make
her feel that she was not alone. Neverthe-
less, it cannot be denied that, in the morning,
this was the first thought that came into her
mind, with a faint expansion of her young
being. The change, though it was not
joyful, was still something ; and when she set
out with Charlie on Wednesday morning her
heart, in spite of herself, rose a little. To
see the pictures ! The pictures are not
generally very exciting, and there was not, as
it happened, a sensation in any one of them
196 THE SORCERESS.
In this particular year, even had Bee been
capable of It, which she was not. But yet
she had a sensation, and one of the most
startling description. As she was going
languidly along, looking at one picture after
another, mechanically referring to the cata-
logue, which conveyed very little Idea to her
mind, her attention was suddenly attracted by
a lady standing In front of one of the chief
pictures of the year. She was talking with
great animation to some friends who sur-
rounded her, pointing out the qualities and
excellencies (or non-excellencies, for Bee
was not near enough to hear) of the picture.
She was picturesquely dressed In black, a tall
and commanding figure, with a great deal of
lace about her, and a fine profile, clearly cut
and Impressive. Bee's whole attention w^as
called to her as by a charm. Where had she
seen her before ? She seemed acquainted
with every detail of her figure, and penetrated
by a vague reminiscence as of someone who
had been of personal Importance to herself,
though she could not tell when or how. ''Who
Is she ? Oh, who is she .^" Bee asked her-
self. She was very handsome — Indeed Bee
THE SORCERESS. 19/
thought her a beautiful woman ; not young,
which is a thing always noted with a certain
pain and compassion by a young girl — but
full of grace and interest. While Bee gazed.
open-eyed, forgetful of herself — a young
figure, very interesting, too. to behold, in her
deep mourning, and with the complete forget-
fulness of herself involved in that wistful,
inquiring, and admiring gaze — the lady turned
round, presenting her full face to the girl's
troubled vision. Bee felt her breath come
short, her heart beat. She fell back hurriedly
upon a vacant place on one of the benehes
which someone had charitably left empty.
Bee did not know^ w^ho the woman was. nor
what possible connections she could have
with her own fate, and yet there was a
conviction in the girl's heart that she had to
do with it, that somehow or other her life
was in this woman's hands. It was the lady
whom she had met that autumn morning last
year in the firwoods round the Baths, where
Bee had gone to finish her sketch — the lady
who had appeared suddenly from among the
trees, who had sat down by her, and pointed
out the errors in the little picture, and
198 THE SORCERESS.
advised her how to put them right. The
black lace which was so conspicuous in the
stranger's dress, seemed to sweep over Bee
as she passed, with the same faint, penetrat-
ing odour, the same thrill of unaccountable
sensation. Bee could not take her eyes from
this figure as it moved slowly along, pausing
here and there with the air of a connoisseur.
Who was she ? Who was she ? Bee turned
as she turned, following her with her eyes.
And then there occurred the most won-
derful incident, so strange, so unsuspected,
so unaccountable, that Bee could scarcely
suppress a cry of astonishment. Charlie had
been " doing " the pictures in his way, going
faster than his sister, and had been roaming
down the whole side of the long gallery
while Bee occupied herself with one or two
favourites. He appeared now at a little
distance, having made the round of the room,
and Bee was the involuntary, much surprised
witness of the effect produced upon Charlie
by the sudden appearance which had so
much excited herself. He stopped short,
with it seemed a sudden exclamation, let the
book in his hands drop in his amazement,
THE SORCERESS. 1 99
then, cleaving the crowd, precipitated himself
upon the group in which the lady stood.
Bee watched with consternation the hurried,
eager greeting, the illumination of his boyish
face, even the gesture — both hands put forth,
and the quiver of his whole eager figure.
She even heard a little cry of surprise from
the lady, who presently separated herself
from her friends and went on with Charlie in
the closest conversation. It seemed to Bee
as she watched, following them as well as she
could through the crowd which got between
her and these two figures, that there were no
two heads so close together in all the throng.
They seemed to drift into a corner where the
pictures were of no importance, where they
were comparatively undisturbed as if for the
most confidential talk. It was not mere
acquaintanceship, a chance meeting with
some one he knew, it was utter forgetfulness
of everything else, complete absorption in
this new interest that seemed to move her
brother. For a time Bee formed no con-
clusion, thought of no explanation, but
watched them only with all her faculties.
The catalogue which Charlie had dropped
200 THE SORCERESS.
was shuffled and kicked to her feet by the
passers by, a visible sign that something
unusual had happened. What was It ? Who
was she ?
And then there darted Into Bee's mind a
suggestion, an Idea which she could not,
would not entertain. Laura ! Was It possible
that this could be Laura ? The thought sent
a thrill through and through her. But no !
no! no! she cried within herself; Impossible!
This lady was years older than Charlie — of
another generation altogether — not a girl at
all. She gazed through the crowd at the two
heads In the corner of the room, standing as
If they were looking at the pictures. They
had their backs to Bee, and she could see
nothing but occasionally a side glimpse of
Charlie's cheek and the lace bonnet, with the
unusual accompaniment of a floating veil,
which covered his companion's head. She
had remembered the veil at once — not primly
fastened over her face, as most ladies wore
them, but thrown back and falling behind, a
head-dress such as nobody else wore. It
distinguished from every other head that of
the woman who, Bee now felt sure, was like
THE SORCERESS. 20I
somebody in a tragedy of Fate — somebody
who had to do, she could not tell how, with
the shipwreck of her own life — for had she
not appeared mysteriously, from she knew
not where, on the very eve of misery and
ruin ? — and now was overshadowing Charlie's,
bringing him some calamity. Bee shivered
and trembled among all the crowding people
on the seat which so many people envied
her, and felt that she was retaining far longer
than her share. She was too much frightened
to do as she could have wished to do, to rush
after them, to draw her brother away, to
break the spell. Such a dark lady had been
known in story long before Bee was born.
Could it be true that hateful beings were
permitted to stray about even in the brightest
scenes, bringing evil augury and all kinds of
trouble with them ? Many a time had Bee
thought of this lady — of her sudden appear-
ance, and of her questions about the Leighs ;
of something in her look, an air of meaning
which even at the moment had confused the
unsuspicious, unalarmed girl. And now,
What was she ? Who was she ? Laura ?
Oh, no, no ; a hundred times no. If Bee
202 THE SORCERESS.
could have supposed that her respectable
father or any member of her Innocent family
could have wronged anyone, she would have
thought it was a ghost -lady ominous of
trouble. Oh, what a silly thought in broad
daylight, in the Academy of all places in the
world ! There was very little that was
visionary or superstitious in such a place.
Charlie came back to join his sister after
a considerable time with a glowing face.
" Oh, you are there ! " he cried. '' I've been
looking everywhere for you. I couldn't think
where you could have gone "
'' I should have seen you had you been
looking for me," said Bee.
" Well, never mind, now that I have found
you. Have you seen as much as you wish ?
It's time to be moving off if you mean to get
to Portman Square in time for tea."
''Charlie," said Bee, very gravely, getting
up and moving with him towards the door,
'' who is that lady you were talking to with
the black lace about her head ? "
"What lady?" said Charlie, with a very
fictitious look of surprise, and the colour
mounting all over his face. '' Oh, the lady I
THE SORCERESS, 203
met — that lady ? Well, she is a lady — whom
I have met elsewhere "
" I have met her, too," cried Bee, breath-
less, ''dow^n at the Baths just before
Oh, who is she — w^ho is she, Charlie? I think
she is one of the Fates."
"You little goose," cried her brother,
and then he laughed in an unsteady way.
*' Perhaps she is — if there was a good one,"
he cried. " She is," he added, in a different
tone, and then paused again ; '' but I couldn't
tell you half what she is if I were to talk till
next week — and never in such a noisy, vulgar
place as this."
Then Bee's mind, driven from one thought
to another, came suddenly back with a jar
and strain of her nerves to the question about
Laura ; was it possible that this should be
she ? — for it was the tone sacred to Laura in
which her brother now spoke. " Oh ! tell me
about her, tell me about her ! " she cried,
involuntarily clasping her hands — " she isn't
— is she ? Oh, Charlie, you will have time
to tell me when we get into the park. Didn't
she want to speak to me ? Why didn't you
introduce me to her if she is such a great
friend of yours ?"
204 THE SORCERESS.
'' Hush ! for goodness' sake, now ; you are
making people stare," said Charlie. He
hurried down the stairs and across the road
outside, making her almost run to keep up
with him. '' I say, Bee," he cried hurriedly,
when he had signalled to a hansom, '' should
you mind going by yourself? I hate driving
when I can walk. Why, you've been in a
hansom by yourself before ! You're not
not going to be such a little goose as to make
a fuss about it now."
''Oh, but Charlie — I'd rather walk too,
and then you can tell me — "
'' Oh, nonsense," he cried, " you're tired
already. It would be too much for you.
Portman Square, No. — . Good-bye, Bee.
I'll look up later," he cried, as, to Bee's con-
sternation, the wheels of the hansom jarred
upon the curb and she felt herself carried
PoRTMAN Square had seemed to Bee the
first step into the world, after all that had
happened, but when she was there this gentle
illusion faded. It was not the world, but
only another dry and faded corner out of the
world, more silent and recluse than even
Kingswarden had become, for there were no
voices of children within, and no rustle of
trees and singing of birds without. The
meeting with Betty was sweet, but the air
of the little old-fashioned tea-table, the long,
solemn dinner, with the butler and the foot-
man stealing like ghosts about the table,
which was laid out with heavy silver and cut
glass, with only one small bunch of flowers
as a sacrifice to modern ideas in the middle^
206 THE SORCERESS.
and the silence of the great drawing-room
afterwards, half lighted and dreary, came
with a chill upon the girl who had been
afraid of being dazzled by too much bright-
ness. There were only the old lady and the
old gentleman, Betty and herself, around the
big table, and only the same party without
the old gentleman afterwards. Mrs. Lyon
asked Bee questions about her excellent
father, and she examined Bee closely about
her dear mother, wishing to know all the
particulars of Mrs. Kingsward's Illness.
'' I can't get a nice serious answer from
Betty. She is such a little thing ; and she
tells me she was not at home through the
worst," Mrs. Lyon said.
It was not a subject to inspire Bee, or
enable her to rise above the level of her
home thoughts. Betty did not seem to feel
it in the same way. She was in a white frock
with black ribbons, for Mrs. Lyon did not
like to see her in black, '' such a little thing,
you know." Bee wondered vaguely whether
she herself, only a year-and-a-half the elder,
was supposed to be quite middle-aged and
beyond all the happier surroundings of life.
THE SORCERESS. lO'J
Mrs. Lyon gave her a great deal of advice
as to what she ought to do, and talked much
of the responsibilities of the elder sister.
' You must teach them to obey you, my dear.
You must not let down the habit of obedience,
you must be very strict with them : a sister
has more need even than a mother to be very
strict, to keep them in a good way." Bee
sat very still, while the old lady prosed. It
was so silent but for that voice, that the
ticking of the clock became quite an impor-
tant sound in the large dim room. And Bee
strained her ears for the sound of a hansom
drawing up, for Charlie's step on the pave-
ment. Many hansoms stopped at neighbour-
ing houses, and footsteps sounded, but
Charlie did not make his appearance. " My
brother said he w^ould look in later," she had
told Mrs. Lyon when she arrived. " W^ell,
my dear, we shall hope he will," the old lady
had said, but a voune man in London finds a
hundred engagements." And Betty, who had
been so serious, who had been so sweet, a
perfect companion at the time of their
mother's death, more deeply penetrated by
all the influences of the time than Bee herself,
208 THE SORCERESS.
now flitted about in her white frock, with all
her old brightness, and sang her little song
without faltering, to show Bee what progress
she had made since she had been taking
lessons. Bee could scarcely yet sing the
hymns in church without breaking down,
though to be sure a girl who was having the
best lessons would be obliged to get over
that. After the long evening when they
were at last alone together, Betty did not
respond warmly to Bee's suggestion that she
should now be thinking of returning home.
" You seem to think of nothing but the
children," she said ; "you can't want me," to
which Bee could only reply that there were
more things than the children to think of, and
that she was very lonely and had no one to-
" But you have Charlie," said Betty.
"Charlie is very full of his ow^n concerns.
He has not much sympathy with me. All
that he wants is to get back to Oxford."
" To Oxford in the vacation ? What
would he do there ?"
''He says he would work," said Bee.
"Oh, Bee, how nice of Charlie! I know
THE SORCERESS. 209
they do sometimes, Gerald Lyon tells me ;
but I never thought that Charlie "
''No," said Bee, "and I don't feel very
sure now, there is someone to whom he
writes such long letters — — "
"Oh, Bee! This is far, far more interest-
ing than reading! Do you know who she is?
Does he tell you about her ?"
" Her name is Laura," said Bee, "that is
all I know."
"Oh," cried Betty, "Charlie too!" And
then a flush came over the girl's uplifted face.
Bee, poor Bee, absorbed in the many things
which had dawned upon her which were
beyond Betty, did not observe the colour nor
even that significant "too" which had come
to Betty's lips in spite of herself.
" I think he met her or someone belonging
to her — at the Academy to-day ; and that's
why he hasn't come Oh, Betty, I am
not happy about it — I am not happy at all !''
Betty put her arms round Bee and kissed
her. She thought it was the remembrance of
her own disappointment and disaster which
made her sister cry out in this heartbroken
way. Betty looked very wistfully in Bee's
VOL. II. P
2IO THE SORCERESS.
eyes. She was more sorry than words could
say. If she could have done anything in the
world '' to make it all come right " she would
have done so, and in the bottom of her
heart she still had a conviction that all would
"come right." ''Oh, Bee, Bee!" she cried,
" cannot anything be done ? If only — only
you would have listened to his mother ! —
Bee held up a warning finger. '' Do you
think it is myself I am thinking of?" she
said, and then, wringing her hands, she added,
** I don't know what harm we have done to
bring it on, but, oh ! I think we are in the
hands of fate."
What did this mean ? Betty thought her
sister had gone out of her mind, and Bee
would make no explanation. But I think this
strange conversation made Betty rather less
willing to return home. She was the darling
of the house in Portman Square ; though
they did not go into society, they had all
manner of indulgences for Betty, and took
her to the Park, and encouraged the visits of
their nephew, Gerald, who was a very merry
companion for the girl. He was permitted
THE SORCERESS. 211
to take her to see various sights, and the old
people, as usual, did not perceive what was
beginning to dawn under their very eyes.
Betty was such a little thing. The con-
sequence was that, though Bee thought
Portman Square still duller than Kings-
warden, her little sister was not of that
opinion. Bee accordingly went back alone
next day, Betty accompanying her to the
railway station. Neither at Portman Square
nor at the railway station did Charlie
appear, and it was with a heavy heart
that Bee went home. It seemed to her
as she travelled alone, for, I think, the
first time in her life — - she was not yet
quite twenty — that everyone was following
his or her own way, and that only
she was bearing the whole burden of the
family. Her father had returned to his own
world, his club, his dinners, official and
otherwise. It was indispensable that he
should do so. Bee had understood, it being
impossible for a man in his position to with-
draw from the world on account of any
private feeling of his own. And Betty had
flashed back again into her music, and her
212 THE SORCERESS.
white frock, and was seeing everything as of
old. And Charlie — oh, what was Charlie
doing, drifting off into some tragic enchant-
ment ? The poor girl's heart was very-
heavy. There seemed only herself to think
of them all in their separate paths, one
here and another there, going further and
further off in so many different directions
from the event which had broken the
unity of the family, yet surely should
have held them together in their common
trouble. That event had gone into the
regions of the past. The time of the mother
was over, like a tale that is told. There
were still the children in the nursery, and
Bee, their guardian, watching over them —
but the others all going off, each at their
separate angle. It is hard enough to realise
this, even when age has gained a certain
insensibility, but to the girl, this breaking up
of the family was terrible. '' 1 — even I alone
remain," she was inclined to say with the
prophet, and what could she do to stop the
closing of these toils of Fate ? Her mind
gradually concentrated on that last and most
alarming theme of all — the woman, the lady,
THE SORCERESS. 213
without a name or history, or any evident
link with the family, who had thus, for the
second time, appeared in the path. Bee tried
to fall back upon her reason, to represent to
herself that she had no real cause for
assuming that the stranger of whom she
knew nothing, who might simply have been
walking through that German wood, and
have stopped by chance to speak to the little
English girl with her stupid sketch, had
anything to do with the disaster which so
soon overtook that poor little English girl in
the midst of her happy love. She had no
reason, none, for thinking so. She tried to
represent to herself how foolish she had been
to entertain such a notion, how natural and
without meaning the incident had been. And
now again, for the second time, what reason
had she to believe that anything fatal or even
dangerous to Charlie was in this lady's
appearance now ? She was a distinguished-
looking woman, much older than Charlie.
What was more likely than that such a
woman, probably by her looks a married
lady, a person of importance, should have a
great deal of influence over a youth like
214 '^^^ SORCERESS.
Charlie if she took notice of him at all ? All
this was very reasonable. There was far
more sense in it than in that foolish terror .
and alarm which had taken possession of her
mind. She had almost persuaded herself .
that these apprehensions were foolish before
she reached home, and yet the moment after
she had succeeded in reasoning it all out, and
convincing herself how foolish they had
been, they had risen up in a crowd and seized
her anxious mind again.
It was some days beyond the week which
Charlie had been allowed in town when he
came back. He was in agitated spirits, with
a look of mingled excitement and exhaustion,
which gave Bee many alarms, but which she
was not sufficiently skilled or experienced to
interpret. Colonel Kings ward had not come
home in the interval, having gone somewhere
else to spend his weekly holiday, and when
he did come there were various colloquies
between him and his son, which were
evidently of a disturbing kind. Some of
these were about money, as was to be made
out by various allusions. Charlie had either
been spending too much, or had set up a
THE SORCERESS. 21 5
claim to more in the future, a claim which his
father was reluctant to allow. But it seemed
that he had come out triumphant in the end,
to judge by their respective looks, when they
issued from the library together, just before
Colonel Kingsward left for town.
" I hope, at least, you'll make good use of
it," were the father's last words — and '' you
may trust me, sir," said Charlie, with all the
elation of victory.
He was in great spirits all day, teasing the
children, and giving Bee half confidences as
to the great things he meant to do.
" They shan't put me off with any of their
beastly Governorships at the end of the
world," said Charlie. " I shall play for high
stakes, Bee, I can't afford to be a mere
attache long, but they shan't shelve me at
some horrible African station, I can tell you.
That's not a kind of promotion that will suit
" But you will have to go where you are
sent," said Bee.
"Oh, shall I?" cried Charlie, '^that is
all you know about it. Besides, when a man
has a particularly charming wi " He
2l6 THE SORCERESS.
Stopped and coughed over the words, and
laughed and grew red.
'' Do you think your manners are so par-
ticularly charming ?" said Bee, with familiar
scorn, upon which Charlie laughed louder
than ever and walked away.
Next day he left home hurriedly, saying he
was going to make a run for a day or two to
''see a man," and came back in the same
excited, exhausted state on Saturday morning,
before his father returned — a process which
was repeated almost every week, to the great
consternation and trouble of Bee. For
Charlie never mentioned these absences to
his father, and Bee felt herself spell-bound,
as if she were incapable of doing so. How
could she betray her brother ? And the
letters to Laura ceased. He had no time
now to write these long letters. Neither did
he receive them as used to be the case. Had
the correspondence ceased, or was there any
other explanation ? But Charlie talked but
little to his sister now, and not at all on this
subject, and thus the web of mystery seemed
to be woven more and more about his feet —
Bee alone suspecting or fearing anything
Bee alone entirely unable to make it clear.
The year went on In Its usual routine, the
boys came back from school, there was the
usual move to the seaside, all mechanically
performed under the Impulse of use, and
when the anniversary came round of the
mother's death, It passed, and the black
dresses were gradually laid aside. And
everything came back, and everybody refer-
red to Bee as If there had always been a slim
elder sister at the head of affairs. Betty
came home at the end of the season with
a sentiment In respect to Gerald Lyon, and
with the prospect of many returns to Port-
man Square, but nothing final In her little
case, nothing that prevented her from being
2l8 THE SORCERESS.
one of the ringleaders in all the mischief
which Inevitably occurred when the family
were gathered together. Bee had become
so prematurely serious, so over-wrought with
the cares of the family, that Betty, who was
too energetic to be suppressed, gradually
came to belong rather to the faction of the
boys than to share the responsibilities of the
elder sister, which might have been her
natural place. The second Christmas, instead
of being forlorn, like the first, was almost
the gayest that had been known in Kings-
warden for many years. For the boys were
growing, and demanded Invitations for their
friends, and great skating while the frost
lasted, which, as the pond at Kingswarden
was the best for a great number of miles
round, brought many cheerful youthful
visitors about the house. Colonel Kings-
ward was nothing If not correct ; he did not
neglect the Interests of any of his children.
He perceived at once that to have Bee alone
at the head of affairs, without any support,
especially when his own time at home was so
much broken by visits, would be bad at once
for her •' prospects," and for the discipline of
THE SORCERESS. 219
the family. He procured a harmless, neces-
sary aunt accordingly, a permanent member
of the household, yet only a visitor, who
could be displaced at any time, to provide for
all necessary proprieties, an arrangement
which left him very free to go and come
as he pleased. And thus life resumed its
usual lightness, and youth triumphed, and
things at Kingswarden went on as of old,
with a little more instead of less commotion
and company and entertainment as the young
people developed and advanced.
It was perhaps natural enough, too, in the
circumstances that Charlie, though the oldest
son, should be so little at home. He came
for Christmas, but he did not throw himself
into the festivities with the spirit he ought to
have shown. He was in a fitful state of
mind, sometimes in high spirits, sometimes
overclouded and impatient, contemptuous of
the boys, as having himself reached so differ-
ent a line of development, and indifferent
to all the family re-unions and pleasures.
Sometimes it seemed to Bee, who was the
only one in the family who concerned herself
about Charlie's moods, that he was anxious
2 20 THE SORCERESS.
and unhappy, and that the air of being bored
which he put on so readily, and the hurried
way in which he rushed out and in, impatient
of the family calls upon him, concealed a
secret trouble. He complained to her of
want of money, of his father's niggardliness,
of the unhappy lot of young men who never
had any "margin," who dared not spend an
extra shilling without thinking where it was
to come from. But whether this was the
only trouble, or how it came about that he
had discovered himself to be so poor, Bee,
poor child, who knew so little, could not
divine. How miserable it was that it was
she who was in the mother's place ! Mamma
would have divined, she would have under-
stood, she would have helped him through
that difficult passage, but what could Bee do,
who knew nothing about life, who thought it
very likely that she was making mountains
out of molehills, and that all young men were
bored and uneasy at home — oh, if people
would only be all good, all happy with each
other, all ready to do what pleased the whole,
instead of merely what pleased themselves !
To Bee, so prematurely introduced into
THE SORCERESS. 221
the midst of those jars and Individual striv-
ings of will and fancy, It seemed as If every-
thing might be made so easy in life by this
simple method. If only everybody would be
good ! The reader may think It was a
nursery view of human life, and yet what
a solution It would give to every problem I
Colonel Kingsward then would have been
more at home, would have been the real
father who commanded his children's con-
fidence, instead of papa, whose peculiarities
had to be studied, and In whose presence the
children had to be hushed and every occasion
of disturbance avoided, and of whom they
were all more or less afraid. And Charlie
would have been more or less a second to
him, thoughtful of all, chivalrous to the girls,
fond of home, instead of, as he was, pausing
as it were on one foot while he was with his
family, anxious only to get away. And Bee
— well, Bee perhaps would have been different
too had that new, yet old, golden rule come
into full efficacy. Oh, if everybody, including
always one's own self, would only be good !
It makes the head go round to think what
a wonderful revolution in the world generally
2 22 THE SORCERESS.
the adoption of that simplest method would
produce. But in poor Bee's experience it
was the last rule likely to be adopted in
Kings warden, where, more and more to the
puzzled consciousness of the girl not able
to cope with so many warring iudividualities,
everyone was going his own way.
It was in the early spring that Colonel
Kingsward came down from town to Kings-
warden, looking less like the adoption of this
method than ever before. The children were
in the hall when he came, busy with some
great game in which various skins which
were generally laid out there were in use as
properties, making, it must be allowed, a
scene of confusion in that place. The
Colonel was not expected. He had walked
from the station, and the sound of his voice
stopped the fun with a sudden horror of
silence and fright, which, indeed, was
not complimentary to a father. Instead of
greetings, he asked why the children were
allowed to make such a confusion in the
place, with a voice which penetrated to the
depths of the house and brought Bee and
Betty flying from the drawing-room.
THE SORCERESS. 223
"Papa!" they both cried, in surprise,
mingled with alarm. Colonel Kingsward
walked into the room they had left, ordering
peremptorily the children to the nursery, but
finding certain friends of Betty's there, in full
enjoyment of talk and tea, retreated again to
his library, Bee following nervously.
'' Is your brother here ?" he asked, harshly,
establishing himself with his back to the fire.
" My brother ?" echoed Bee, for indeed
there were half-a-dozen, and how was she to
know on the spur of the moment which he
Colonel Kingsward looked, in the partial
light (for a lamp which smoked had been
brought in hurriedly, to make things worse),
as if he would have liked to seize his
daughter and wring her slender neck. He
went on with additional irritation : "I said
your brother. The others, I have no doubt,
will provide trouble enough in their turn.
For the moment it is, of course, Charlie I
mean. Is he here ?"
" Papa ! Why, he is at Oxford, you know,
in the schools "
Colonel Kingsward laughed harshly. "He
2 24 "^^^E SORCERESS.
was going in for honours, wasn't he ?
Wanted to go up to read In the long vacation
— was full of what he was going to do ?
Well, it has all ended in less than nothing,
as I might have known It would. Read
that !" he cried, tossing a letter on the table.
Bee, with her heart sick, took up and
opened the letter, and struggled to read, in
her agitation, an exceedingly bad hand by an
indifferent light. She made out enough to
see that Charlie had not succeeded in his
" schools," that he had not even secured a
"pass," that he had incurred the continual
censure of his college authorities by shirking
lectures, failing in engagements, and doing
absolutely no work. So far as was known
there was nothing against his moral character,
but Bee, to whom the censure of the
college sounded like a sentence of death,
put down the dreadful letter carefully, as if
It might explode, and raised large eyes,
widened with alarm and misery, to her
" Oh, papa ! " was all that she could say.
'' I telegraphed to him to come home at
once and meet me here. The fool," said
THE SORCERESS. 225
Colonel Kingsward, pacing about the room,
" is capable of not doing that — of going away
'' Papa, they say there is nothing against
his character. Oh ! you couldn't think that
he would — do anything dreadful; not dis-
appear, not " Bee said the rest in an
anguish of suspicion and ignorance with her
" God knows what an idiot like that may
do ! Things are bad enough, but he will, of
course, think them worse than they are.
There is one thing we may be sure of," he
said, with a fierce laugh, " Charlie will do
nothing to make himself uncomfortable. He
knows how to take care of himself" Colonel
Kingsward walked up and down the room,
gnawing the end of his moustache. The
lamp smoked, but he took no notice of it.
''There is one thing certain," he said, "and
that is, there's a woman in it I remember
now, he was always thinking of something ;
like an ass, I supposed it was his studies.
No doubt it was some Jezebel or other."
" Papa," said Bee.
" Speak out ! Has he told you anything ?''
VOL. II. Q
226 THE SORCERESS.
He Stopped in front of her, and stood looking
with threatening eyes into her face. "If you
keep back anything from me," he said, "your
brother's ruin will be on your head."
" Papa," said Bee, faltering, *' it is not
much I know. I know that there was a lady
who lived in Oxford ^"
"Ah! The long vacation," he exclaimed,
with another angry laugh.
"He used to write long letters to her, and
he told me her name."
" That is something to the purpose. What
was her name ? "
"He said," said Bee, in a horror of betray-
ing her brother, yet impelled to speak, " he
said that she was called — Laura, papa."
" What ?" he cried, for Bee's voice had
sunk very low ; and then he turned away
again with an impatient exclamation, calling
her again a little fool. " Laura, confound
her ! What does that matter ? I thought
you had some real information to give."
" Papa," said Bee, timidly, "there is a little
more, though perhaps it isn't information.
When he took me to the Academy in summer
I saw him meet a lady. Oh, not a common
THE SORCERESS. 22 7
person, a beautiful, grand-looking lady. But
it could not be the same," Bee added, after a
pause, *'for she was much older than Charlie
— not a young lady at all."
" Why didn't you tell me this at the time?"
cried Colonel Kingsward. " Can one never
secure the truth even from one's own child-
ren ? I should have sent him off at once had
I known. What do you mean by not young
" I should think," said Bee, with diffidence
and a great anxiety not to exaggerate such a
dreadful statement, ''that she might perhaps
have been — thirty, papa."
" You little idiot," her father kindly replied.
Why was she a little idiot ? But Bee had
not time to go into that question. The even-
ing was full of agitation and anxiety. The
poor little girl, unused to such sensations, sat
through dinner in a quiver of anxious abstrac-
tion, listening for every sound. There were
several trains by which he might still come,
and at any moment when the door opened
Charlie might present himself, pale with
downfall and distress, to meet his father's
angry look, whose eyes were fixed on the
2 25 THE SORCERESS.
door whenever It opened with as much pre-
occupation as Bee's — with this difference,
that Bee's eyes were soft with excuses and
pity, while those brilHant steely eyes which
shone from beneath her father's dark brows,
and which were the originals of her own,
blazed with anger. When dinner was over,
which he hurried through, disturbing the
servants in their leisurely routine, Colonel
Kingsward again called Bee to him into the
library. She was the only person to whom
he could talk of the subject of which his mind
was full, which was the sole reason for this
great distinction, for he had very little
patience with Bee's trembling remarks.
" Don't be a little fool," was the answer he
made to any timid suggestion upon which she
ventured ; but yet there was a necessity upon
him to discuss it with someone, and Bee,
however inadequate, had this burden to bear.
"If the woman is the kind you say, and if
she thinks there's anything to be made by it
— why the fool may have married her," he
cried. *' Heavens ! Think of it ; married at
three and twenty, without a penny ! But,"
he added, colouring a little, " they are very
THE SORCERESS. 2 29
knowing, these women. She would find out
that he was not worth her while, and prob-
ably throw him off in time."
"Oh, papa!" cried Bee, horrified by the
thought that her brother might be deserted
in the moment of his downfall.
" That is the best we can hope. He will
have K ingswarden, of course, when I die, but
not a penny — not a penny in the meantime
to keep up any such ridiculous— Listen ! Is
that the train ?"
There was a cutting near Kingswarden
through which the thundering of the train
was heard as it passed. This had been a
great grievance at first, but it was not with-
out its conveniences to the accustomed ears
of the household now. They both listened
with anxiety, knowing that by this time
it must have stopped at the station and
deposited any passenger, and for the next
half-hour watched and waited ; Bee, with all
her being in her ears, listened with an inten-
sity of attention such as she had never known
before, holding her breath ; while Captain
Kingsward himself, though he kept walking
up and down the room, did so with a softened
230 THE SORCERESS.
Step which made no sound on the thick
carpet, not uttering a word, hstening too.
To describe all the sounds they heard, or
thought they heard, how often the gate
seemed to swing in the distance, and the
gravel start under a quick foot, would be
endless. It was the last train ; if he did not
come now it would be clear that he did not
mean to come. And it was now too late
for any telegram. When it was no longer
possible to believe that he could have been
detained on the way, Colonel Kingsward
drew a long breath of that disappointment
which, in the yielding of nervous tension, is
almost for the moment a relief.
''If there is no letter to-morrow morning
I shall go up to Oxford," he said, " and. Bee,
if you like, you can come with me. You
might be of use. Don't say anything to
Betty or your aunt. Say you are going with
me to town by the early train, and that
you may possibly not return till next day.
There is no need for saying any more."
" Yes, papa," said Bee, submissively. That
was all he knew ! No need for saying any
more to Betty, who had known every move-
THE SORCERESS. 23 I
ment her sister made since ever she was born!
But, at all events, Bee made up her mind to
escape explanation so far as she could to-
night. She paused for a moment at the
door of the drawing-room as she passed.
No more peaceful scene could have been
presented. Betty was at the piano singing
one song after another, half for practice, half
to amuse the aunt, who sat dozing in her
chair by the fire. The others had gone to
bed, and careless youth and still more care-
less age, knowing nothing of any trouble,
pursued their usual occupations in perfect
composure and calm. The aunt knitted
mechanically, and dozed in the warmth and
quiet which she loved, and Betty went
on singing her songs, indifferent to her
audience, yet claiming attention, breaking off
now and then in the middle of a line to ask
" Do you like that, Aunt Ellen ? Are you
paying any attention, Aunt Ellen ?" Yes,
my dear, I like it very much," the old lady
said, and dozed again. Bee turned away
with a suppressed sob. Where was Charlie ?
In disgrace, perhaps heart-broken, deserted
by his love, afraid to meet his father ! It
232 THE SORCERESS.
was foolish to think that he was out in the
night, wandering without shelter, without
hope, for there was no need of any such
tragic circumstances, but this was the picture
that presented itself too Bee's aching and
CHAPTER X \M I .
Charlie was not in his rooms at College, he
had not been there for some days, and
nobody could furnish any information as to
where he was. Colonel Kings ward had left
Bee in the hotel while he went on to make
his inquiries. He was very guarded in the
questions he asked, for though he was himself
very angry with his son, he was still careful
for Charlie's reputation, explaining even to
the college porter, who was very well
acquainted with the eccentricities of the
gentlemen, that he had no douht his son had
returned home, though they had unfortunately
crossed each other on the way. The Colonel
tried to keep up this fiction even with the
sympathetic Don, who made matters so much
234 THE SORCERESS.
worse by his compassion, but who was very
full and detailed in his relation of poor
Charlie's backslidings, the heaviness of whose
gate bill and the amount of whose sins and
penalties were terrible to hear. He had
attended no lectures, he had written no
essays, he had been dumb and blank in
" Out of consideration to you. Colonel
Kings ward, the College has been very for-
bearing, and shut its eyes as long as
" I wish, sir, the College had shown more
common sense and let me know," the Colonel
cried, in wrath ; but that did not throw any
light upon the subject.
As it turned out, Charlie had not " gone
in " for his " schools " at all. He had done
nothing that he ought to have done. What
things he had done which he ought not to
have done remained to be discovered. His
stern father did not doubt that a sufficient
number of these actual offences would soon
be found to add to the virtues omitted. He
went back to the hotel where Bee had been
spending a miserable morning, and they sat
together in gloom and silence.
THE SORCERESS. 235
"You had better go home," he said to her.
" He may have got home by this time, and
I don't see what use you can be here."
Bee was very submissive, yet begged hard
to return as far as London, at least, with her
father ; to wait for another day, in case some
trace of the prodigal might be found. Many
such parties have occupied the dreary hotel
rooms and stared in vain out of the windows,
and watched with sick hearts the passing
throng, the shoals of undergraduates, to their
eyes all dutiful and well-doing, while the one
in whom they are concerned is absent, in what
evil ways they know not. Poor Bee was too
young to feel the full weight of such alarms
but she was as miserable as if she had known
everything that could happen in the vague-
ness of her consciousness of despair and pain.
What Charlie could have done, what would
become of him, what his father would do or
could do, were all hidden from Bee. But
there was in it all a vague misery which was
almost worse than clear perception. Colonel
Kingsward, with all his knowledge of the
world, was scarcely less vague. He did not
know how to find out the secrets of an under-
2^6 THE SORCERESS
graduate Charlie had friends, but all of
them protested that they had seen very little
of him of late. He had fallen off from sports
and exercise as much as from study. He
had scarcely been on the cricket ground all
the summer ; he had given up football ;
'' boating on the river with ladies," he had
been seen, but not recently, for the floods
were out and such amusements were no
longer practicable. At night the Colonel
knew almost as little about his son as when
he had arrived full of certainty that the whole
matter could be cleared up in a few hours.
Next day began gloomily with another
visit to the Don, whom Colonel Kingsward
hoped to have seen the last of on their former
exasperating interview. As he had dis-
covered nothing elsewhere, he went back
again to the authority, who had also hoped
on his side to be free from the anxious but
impatient father, and they had another long
talk, which ended like the first in nothing.
The college potentate had no idea where the
youth could have gone. Charlie had left
most of his property still in his rooms ; he
had gone out with only a little bag, nobody
THE SORCERESS. 237
suspecting him of an intention to '*go down.'
After they had gone over the question again»
the Don being by no means as sympathetic
as the first time, and contributing a good deal
to Colonel Kings ward's acquaintance with his
son's proceedings — a sudden light was for
the first time thrown upon the question by a
chance remark. "You know, of course, that
he had friends in Oxford ?''
'' Like other young men, I suppose. I
have seen several of them, and they can give
me no information."
" I don't mean undergraduates : people
living in the town — ladies," said the Don,
who was a young man, almost with a blush.
And after sending for Charlie's scout, and
making other inquiries, Colonel Kingsward
was furnished with an address. He went
back to the hotel quickly, in some excitement,
to inform Bee of the new clue he had
obtained, but he scarcely reached the room
where she was awaiting him when he was
told that a lady had just asked for him down-
stairs. Bee was sent off immediately to
her room while her father received this
unexpected visitor. Bee had been watching
230 THE SORCERESS.
at the window all the morning, looking down
upon that world of young men, all going
about their work or their pleasure, all in their
ht place, while Charlie was no one knew
where. The poor girl had been breaking
her heart over that thought, wistfully watch-
ing the others among whom he ought to
have been, feeling the pang of that com-
parison, sometimes imagining she saw a
figure like his in the distance, and watching,
as it approached, how every trace died away.
Where was he ? Bee's young heart was very
sore. The vacancy was appalling to her,
filling itself with all kinds of visionary shapes
of terror. She could not think of him only
as wandering away in misery and despair,
feelinof himself to have failed, ashamed and
afraid to look anyone In the face. She
scarcely understood her father when he
hurried her out of the sitting-room, but
obeyed him with a sense of trouble and
Injury though without knowing why.
Bee spent a very forlorn hour in her room.
She heard the sound of the voices next door.
Her father's well known tones, and a low
voice which she felt must be a woman's.
THE SORCERESS. 239
She would have been much tempted to listen
to what they said if it had been possible, but
there was no door between the rooms, and
she could only hear that a long and close con-
versation was going on, without making out
a word of it. She was very restless in her
anxiety, wandering from the window to the
door, which she opened with a desire to hear
better, which defeated itself — and to see
better, though there was nothing to be seen.
It seemed to Bee that half the day was over
before the sound of movement in the sitting-
room warned her that the conference was
breaking up. Even after that there was a
long pause, and the talking went on, though
it moved closer to the door. Bee had
gradually grown in excitement as those
sounds went on. She stole to her own half-
open door, as the one next to it was opened,
and the visitor came forth attended with the
greatest courtesy by Colonel Kingsward, who
accompanied her to the stairs. There the
lady turned round and gave him her hand,
turning her face towards the spot where the
unsuspected watcher stood gazing with eyes
of wonder and terror
240 THE SORCERESS.
" Not another step," she said, with a sweet
but decided voice. " The only thing I will
ask from you, Colonel KIngsward, will be a
line, a single line, to say that all Is well."
''You may rely upon that," the Colonel
said, bowing over the hand he held, "but
may not I see you to your carriage, call your
"I am walking," she said, "and I am
alone ; come no further, please ; one line to
say that all Is well." He still held her hand
and she gave it a little, significant pressure,
adding In a low tone: "And happy — and
Bee stood as If she had been turned to
stone ; a little, clandestine figure within the
shelter of the door. It was a beautiful face
that was thus turned towards her for a
minute, unconscious of her scrutiny, and the
voice was sweet. Oh, not a woman like any
other woman ! She said to herself that she
remembered the voice and would have known
it anywhere ; and the look, half kind, yet
with a touch of ridicule, of mockery In It.
This was evidently not what the Colonel felt.
He descended a few of the stairs after her,
THE SORCERESS. 24I
until turning again with a smile and with her
hands extended as if to drive him back, she
forbade his further attendance. He returned
to the sitting-room thoughtfully, yet with a
curious, softened expression upon his face,
and a few minutes afterw^ards, not at once,
he came to the door again and called Bee.
There was still a smile lingering about his
lips, though his mouth had stiffened back into
its usual somewhat stern composure.
" Come in," he said, " I have something
to tell you. I have had a very strange visit
— a visit from a lady."
" I saw her," said Bee, under her breath,
but her father was too much pre-occupied to
"If this was, as I suppose, the lady whom
you and your brother met, you are right.
Bee, in thinking her very remarkable. She
is one of the handsomest women I ever saw,
and with a charm about her, which — . But,
of course what you w^ant to hear is about
Charlie. I am glad to tell you that she has
very much relieved my mind about Charlie,
Bee stood before her father with her hands
VOL. II. R
242 THE SORCERESS.
folded, with the most curious sense of revolt
and opposition in her mind — looking at him,
a spectator would have said, with something
of the sternness that was habitual to him, but
so very inappropriate on her soft brow. She
made no reply to this. Her countenance did
not relax. Relieved about Charlie ? No !
Bee did not believe it. Pity and terror for
Charlie seemed to take stronger and stronger
possession of her heart.
'' It is a long story," he said. " Sit down,
you have got a way of standing staring, my
dear. I wish you had more womanly models
like the lady I have just been talking to —
perfectly clear and straightforward in what
she said, but with a feminine grace and
sweetness. Well, it appears that Charlie
had the good luck to get introduced to this
lady about a year ago. Sit down, 1 tell you,
I won't have you staring at me in that rude
There was a little pause, and Bee sat
down abruptly, and not very gracefully.
Colonel Kingsward could not but remark the
difference. He followed her movements
for a moment with his eyes, and then he
began again —
THE SORCERESS. 243
" For all I can make out, he has been
treated with a kindness which should have
done everything for a young man. He has
been invited to the house of these ladies —
he has met all sorts of people who ought to
be of use to him, whom it was a distinct
advantage to meet — he has been kept out of
the usual foolish diversions of young men.
So far as I can make out, there is nothing
against his character except what these Don-
fellows call idleness — a thing that scarcely
tells against a young man in after-life,
unless he is a parson, or a schoolmaster, or
something of that kind. Even the missing
of his degree," said the Colonel, pulling his
moustache reflectively, "is of little impor-
tance among practical men. So long as he
can get through in his modern languages,
and so forth, of what importance are the
classics ? I am very much relieved in my
mind about Charlie. She thinks he must
have gone straight down to London, instead
of going home."
•' Who is the lady, papa ? "
Bee's interest in Charlie seemed to have
dropped, as the Colonel's had done, for the
244 '^"^ SORCERESS.
moment. His advocate had made herself
the first person on the horizon.
" The lady ? So far as I can make out
she is living here with some friends, up in
the district called the Parks, where a great
many people now live. She says she has
always taken an interest in the under-
graduates, who are left so sadly to them-
selves, and that, being of an age to make it
possible, she has wished very much to devote
herself to do what she could for these boys.
Unfortunately, with her unusual personal
attractions— — ." The Colonel stopped short
and bit his moustache. " After all her
kindness to your brother, encouraging him in
his work and setting his duty before him —
and no elder sister, no mother, could have
been kinder, from all she tells me — the
foolish boy repaid her good offices by — what
do you think .'^ But you will never guess."
" And I will never, never believe it," cried
Bee, " if it was anything — anything that was
not nice on Charlie's part ! " Her voice was
quite hoarse in her emotion, her secret fury
against this woman, of whom she knew
nothing, rising more and more.
THE SORCERESS. 245
" You little fool ! " her father said, rising
and standing up against the mantel-piece.
He laughed angrily, and looked at her with
his most contemptuous air. "One would
think that even in their cradles women must
begin to hate women," he said.
Bee, who hated no one unless it was this
woman whom she feared but did not know,
grew angry red. Her blue eyes flashed and
shone like northern lights. The cruel and
contemptuous assumption which touched her
pride of sex, added vehemence to the other
emotion which was already strong enough,
and roused her up into a kind of fury.
"If she says anything bad of Charlie I
don't believe it," she cried, " not a word, not
a word ! Whatever he has done she has
driven him to it !" Then Bee was suddenly
silent, panting, terrified or afraid that her little
outburst of passion would close all further
" It seems unnecessary to add another
word in face of such fierce prejudice !"
" Oh, papa, forgive me. Tell me ; I shall
say nothing more."
" You have said a great deal too much
246 THE SORCERESS.
already. After this," he said, sarcastically,
'' you will perhaps think that your brother —
of three and twenty, without a penny or a
prospect — did Miss Lance honour by forcing
a proposal upon her, making love to her at
the end of all "
" Miss Lance !" Bee said, with a sharp cry.
The Colonel took no notice of the inter-
ruption. He went on with a kind of
disdainful comment to himself rather than to
" After all, there are things which a lady
has to put up with, which we don't take into
consideration. A young fool whom she has
been kind to, knowing he has nobody near to
look after him, no mother "—his voice even
grew a little tender at this point — " and by
way of reward the idiot falls in love with her,
asks a woman like that to share his
insignificant little life ! Jove ! What a
piece of impertinence !" the Colonel said,
with an angry laugh.
•' Did you say," said Bee, with faltering
lips, '' Miss Lance, papa ?"
He turned upon her with a look of extreme
"Why shouldn't I have said Miss Lance?
What is there unusual in the name ? "
Bee looked at him with a dumb rebellion,
an almost scorn and passion far greater than
his own. He had forgotten the name — but
Bee had not forgotton it. The fact that Bee's
own young life had suffered shipwreck had
perhaps escaped from his memory altogether,
though it was she who had done it. Bee
looked at him with her blue eyes blazing,
remembering everything that he had for-
gotten. Her brother had gone out of her
mind, and all the history of his Laura, and
the way in which he had been enfolded in
this fatal web. She went back to her own
wrongs — forgetting that she had keenly con-
firmed her father's decision and rejected
Aubrey on what she thought to be other and
sufficient grounds. She thought only of the
moment when sudden darkness had fallen
upon her in the first sunshine of her life, and
she had struggled against the rigid will of her
father, who would listen to no explanations —
who would not understand. And all for the
sake of this woman — the spider who dragged
fiy after fiy into her net ; the witch, the
248 THE SORCERESS.
enchantress of whom all poems and stones
spoke ! Her exasperation was so Intense
that she forgot all the laws of respect and
obedience in which her very being had been
bound, and looked at her father as at an
equal, an enemy whom she scorned as well
''What Is the meaning of these looks," he
said, '' I am altogether at a loss to under-
stand you. Bee. Why this fury at a name —
w^hlch you have never heard before, so far as
''You think I have never heard It before?"
said Bee, In her passion. " It shows how
little you think of me, or care for anything
that has happened to me. Oh, I have heard
It before, and I shall hear It again, I know.
I know I shall hear It again. And you don't
mind, though you are our father ! You don't
remember ! " Bee was still very young, and
she had that fatal woman's weakness which
spoils every crisis with Inevitable tears. Her
exasperation was too great for words. "You
don't remember ! " she cried, flinging the
words at him like a storm ; and then broke
down In a passion of choking sobs, unable to
To do Colonel KIngsward justice, he was
taken entirely by surprise by Bee's outburst.
He had no remembrance of the name. The
name had been wholly unimportant to him
even at the time when It had come under
his notice. The previous claimant to Aubrey
Leigh's affections had been " the woman,"
no more, to his consciousness. He did not
remember anything about the business now,
except that there was a story about a woman,
and that he would not permit his young
daughter to marry a man concerning whom
such a story existed. Even after Bee had left
250 THE SORCERESS.
him, when he really made an effort to pursue
into the recesses of his mind anything that
was connected with that name, he could not
make it out. Was it perhaps a tyrannical
governess ? but that would not explain the
girl's vehement outcry. He had not thought
for a long time of Bee's interrupted love, and
broken-off engagement. Of what conse-
quence is such an episode to so young a girl?
And there were others matters in his mind of
what seemed a great deal more importance.
Whatever was the source of Bee's previous
knowledge of Miss Lance, she hated that
singularly attractive woman, as it is usual for
the sex — Colonel Kingsward thought — to
hate instinctively every other woman w^ho is
endowed with unusual attractions.
What a magnificent creature that woman
was ! How finely she had talked of the unde-
veloped boy to whom she had hoped to be of
service, and with what genuine feeling, half-
abashed, distressed, yet not without a gleam
of amusement, she had told him of the
wonderful scene at the end, when Charlie
had asked her to marry him.
''Me ! A woman who might be his mother !"
THE SORCERESS. 25 I
she had said, with beautiful candour ; though
it was not candour, it was more Hke jest,
seeing that she was still young — young
enough to turn any man's head. And she
had added hastily, ''It must have been my
fault. Somehow I must have led him astray,
though I was so far from intending it. A
boy like your son would not have done such
a wild thing had he not supposed " She
put up her hands to her face to hide a blush.
"That is the worst of us, poor women," she
had said. '' we cannot show an interest even
in a boy but he supposes — oh, Colonel
Kingsward, can't you imagine what I felt,
wishing solely to be of use to your son, who
is such a good, ingenuous, nice boy — and
finding in a moment, without the least warn-
ing, that he had mistaken me like ///^/ / "
Colonel Kingsward was of opinion, and so
was everybody who knew him. that he was
by no means an impressionable man ; but it
would be impossible to say how touched he
had been by that explanation. And she was
so sorr}' for Charlie. She avowed that, after
what had happened, she would have con-
sidered herself inexcusable if she had not
252 THE SORCERESS.
come to his father, however unpleasant it
might be to herself, to show him how little,
how very little, Charlie was to blame.
''You must not — must not be angry with
him," she had said, joining her hands in
appeal. " Oh, forgive him ; it is so much
my fault. If I could but bear the penalty!
But I cannot endure to think that the poor
boy should be punished when all the time I,
who am so much older than he is, am the
one to blame. I ought to have known
better. I am at your mercy, Colonel Kings-
ward. You cannot say anything worse to
me than I have done to myself; but he, poor
boy, is really not to blame."
The Colonel had no wish to say anything
to her that was uncomplimentary. He
entered into her position with the most
unusual sympathy. Perhaps he had never
had so warm a feeling of understanding and
affection for anyone before. The compassion
and the appeal was something quite new and
original to him. He was not a man to be
sympathetic with the troubles of a middle-
aged spinster — an elderly flirt, as he would
probably have called her, had he heard the
THE SORCERESS. 253
Story at second hand ; in such a case he
would have denounced the mature siren in
the terms usual to men of experience. But
the presence of this lady made all the differ-
ence. She was not like anyone else. The
usual phrases brought forward on such
occasions were meaningless or worse in
respect to her. He was softened to Charlie,
too, by the story, though he could have raved
at his son's folly. The puppy I — to think a
woman like that could care for him I And
yet, as she said, there was no harm in the
boy ; only absurdity, presumption, the last
depths of fatuity. Poor young fool ! But it
was a different thing from racing towards the
bottomless pit for the mere indulgence of his
own appetites, as so many young men did,
and if this was the only reason of Charlie's
downfall it involved no loss of character and
need make no breach in his career, which
was the chief thing. He could make up his
lost ground, and the F.O. would care very
little for what the Dons said. The idleness
of a boy in love (the puppy I inexcusable in
his presumption, but yet with plenty of justifi-
cation at least) could do him no more than
temporary harm in any case.
254 THE SORCERESS.
These thoughts passed through the
Colonel's mind with a great sense of relief.
It did not occur to him that Charlie, when he
saw his folly, could have much difficulty in
getting over such a misplaced sentiment. It
must be done, and the boy must feel that
such a hope was as much above him as was
the moon in the skies. He must make up
his mind to apply himself, to get through his
examination, to begin his real life — which his
father would certainly impress upon him was
not mere amusement or happiness, if he liked
to call it so, but work and a sharp struggle to
secure his standing. As for his degree, that
was a matter of complete indifference to
Colonel Kingsward. The boy had his ex-
perience of Oxford life to talk of and fall
back upon ; he was a University man all the
same, though he had not been crowned by
any laurels he had made some friends, and he
had gained the necessary familiarity with that
phase of a young man's existence. What did
the details matter, and who would ever ask
about his degree ? An attache does not put
B.A. or M.A. (which was which, or if there
was any difference, or on what occasion such
THE SORCERESS. 255
vanities should be displayed the Colonel was
quite unaware) to his name like a school-
master. Nothing could be of less importance
than this. He dismissed Charlie from his
mind accordingly with much relief. It was
not at all unnatural that the boy should have
gone to town instead of going to Kingswar-
den. No doubt by this time he had made
his w^ay home, and this reminded the Colonel
that it would be as well to send his sister off
at once to meet Charlie there. He called
Bee again accordingly from her room, where
she had taken refuge, and instructed her in
what he desired.
"There is a train in an hour," he said.
'' You had better get ready. I wish you to
go home at once. Charlie will be there by
this time, I have no doubt, and I should like
you to let him know that if he is reasonable
and drives all folly from his mind, and
addresses himself at once to his preparation
for the exam., he shall hear no more from me
about the Oxford business. It depends upon
himself whether it is ever alluded to again."
" Papa," said Bee, faltering a little, "am I
to go alone ?''
256 THE SORCERESS.
" Why shouldn't you go alone ? Are you
afraid of getting into a cab at Paddington
and driving to Victoria, the most ordinary
everyday business? Why, I thought the
girls of your period revolted against being
protected, and were able to take care of
themselves wherever they went ?"
Now Colonel Kingsward had always
insisted on surrounding his daughters with
quite unnecessary care, being, as he prided
himself, on all questions in respect to women,
of the old school.
'*0h, no," said Bee, very tremulous, look-
ing at him with eyes full of meaning, '' I am
''Then why do you make any fuss about
it ?" he said. " I shall stay behind for a few
hours, perhaps for another night. I must see
whether he has left any debts, and square
accounts with the College, and — settle every-
thing." Bee was still looking at him
with that troubled air of meaning, and he
looked at her with a stern look, putting her
down ; but there was in his eyes a certain
understanding of her meaning and a shrinking
from her scrutiny all the same. " You have
THE SORCERESS. 257
just time to get ready/' he said, pulling out
his watch and holding it up to her. And
Bee had nothing to do but to obey. It was
not the drive from Paddington to Victoria,
the change from one railway to another,
which frightened her, though for a girl who
had never done anything alone, that was not
a pleasant thought ; but the girl was deeply
disturbed to leave her father there within the
power of the woman whom more than ever
she looked upon with terror as if she had
been an embodied Fate. How ludicrous was
the idea that a girl of twenty should be dis-
turbed and anxious at the thought of leaving
her father unprotected by her poor little
guardianship — and such a father as Colonel
Kings ward ! Bee saw at once the folly and
futility of such a notion, but she could not rid
herself of the alarm. Her terror of this
woman, now fully evident as the same who
had wrecked her own life, was more than
ever a superstitious panic.
Bee's mind was wholly possessed with this
idea. She thought of the beautiful, dreadful
lady in Christabel. She thought of that
other shuddering image in the poem, of " the
VOL. II. s
258 THE SORCERESS.
angel, beautiful and bright," who looked the
hero in the face ; " And how he knew it was
a fiend, that miserable knight " Aubrey
had not known she was a fiend, nor Charlie ;
and now papa ! What could such a woman,
do to papa? He was old (Bee thought)
beyond the reach of the influences which had
moved the others. What could Fate do to
him ? She asked herself this question in her
great alarm, trying to beat down the terror
in her bosom, and persuade herself that it
was foolishness. But the more she thought
the more her heart beat with fright and
apprehension. It seemed to her, somehow,
as if the former dangers had been nothing in
comparison with this, although she did not
know what it was that she feared.
Colonel Kingsward walked with his
daughter to the station, and he was very
affable and kind to her, taking unusual pains
to make her feel that there was nothing to
fear. He selected carefully a carriage which
was reserved for ladies, and put her into the
charge of the guard, whom he desired to find
a cab for her at Paddington, and look
after her in every way. Nothing could be
THE SORCERESS, 259
more fatherly, more thoughtful than he was ;
but all these precautions, Instead of re-
assuring Bee, increased her sensation of
danger. For the Colonel, though he had
always insisted upon every precaution, had
not been in the habit of personally seeing to
the comfort of his children. She followed
him with her eyes as he occupied himself
with all these little cares, and explained to
the guard what was to be done. And then
he went to the bookstall and bought her
illustrated papers and a book to amuse her
on the journey, Bee watching all the time
with growing wonder. She gave a hurried
glance now and then around her, sweeping
the station from one end to another, with
a terror of seeing somewhere appear the
woman who had brought such pain and
trouble into her life — though this, too, was
folly, as she was aware. And when at last
the carriage door was closed, and the train
almost in motion. Bee gave her father a last
look, in which there were unutterable things.
He had not met her eyes hitherto, whether
by chance or precaution. But now he was
off his guard and did so. Their looks
26o THE SORCERESS.
encountered with a clash, as if they had been
meeting swords, the same eyes, brilliant with
that blue blaze, flashing like lightning. But
it was the father's fiery eyes which gave way.
The girl's look penetrated into his very
being ; his dropped, almost abashed. How
did this strange change of position come
about ? It was anything but reassuring to
Bee. It seemed to her as if already a new
chapter of misery and dismay had opened in
life, although her fears had taken no shape,
and she could not tell what calamity was
possible. The very vagueness made it all
the more appalling to her inexperienced
As for Colonel Kingsward, he saw his
little daughter go away with a relief which
he felt to be ridiculous. That Bee's looks
should affect his movements one way or
another was beyond measure absurd, and
yet he was relieved that she was gone, and
felt himself more at ease. He had a great
many things to do — to settle his son's
accounts, to take his name off the college
books, to wind up that early unsuccessful
chapter of Charlie's life. But he now felt
THE SORCERESS. 261
very little real anger against Charlie — this
shipwreck of his had suddenly introduced his
father to what seemed a new view and new
objects, which indeed he did not in any way
define to himself, but of which he felt the
stimulus with vague exhilaration to the
bottom of his heart.
END OF SECOND VOLUME.
TILLOTSON AND SON, PRINTERS, BOLTON.
'.'■ • v.'m'.m,-.:^, ,'