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

Full text of "The student's wife : a novel"

n- 



I/- M 







. t 










L I B R.ARY 

OF THL 

UNIVERSITY 

Of ILLINOIS 

823 
D 2.26 s 




THE 



STUDENT'S AYIFE. 



^ md. 



MRS. MACKENZIE DANIELS, 

AUTHOB OP " MT SISTER MIXME," " FERNLET MANOR," " OUR 
GUARDIAN," " GEORQINA HAMMOND," ETC. 



IN THKEE VOLUMES. 
VOL. I. 



LONDON 
THOMAS CAUTLEY KE^'BY, PUBLISHER, 

30, WELBECK STREET, CAVENDISH SQUARE. 
1852. 



i^ 






THE studp:nt's wife. 



CHAPTER I. 

The world deals very rousrhlv sometimes 
with its gentlest ones ; and those of whom 
in their vouth it has been said that the 
first breath of sorrow will hurl them to 
the groimd, are often destined to encounter 
the \\ildest storms, and have a power given 
them to stand asrainst — if not to beat 
back — the whu-lwind, which fills with an 
infinite wonder, the sage prognosticators 

of their earlier years. 

«■ 

But the tempest once over, tlie angiy 
waves once hushed to a soothing calm, how 
intensely do these children of tranquillity 
and meekness enjoy the repose that follows 
— drinking in peace as the ver\- waters of 

VOL. I. B 



2 THE student's WIFE. 

life, and luxuriating, to an extent which 
none but themselves can fully comprehend, 
in the dull, changeless monotony that has 
at length succeeded their day of forced and 
unnatural excitement. 

The story I am about to relate was told 
to^me by one whose own history formed 
a striking exemplification of the above 
remarks; and although I was never en- 
trusted with more than a few disjointed 
passages from this most interesting and 
eventful life, I knew quite enough to 
convince me that my aged friend had 
personal experiences of no common nature, 
and that when she spoke of the calm joys 
of declining years, there was ever a prayer 
of deep thanksgiving in her heart for the 
contrast these afforded to the fierce, wild 
storms that had raged around her in her 
earlier days. 

Mrs. Porrest was nearly seventy when I 
first came to know her intimately ; but she 
was still remarkably healthy, and far more 
cheerful, I was assured by many, than she 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 6 

had been at any former period of her exist- 
ence. I can so distinctly remember her 
placid, gentle aspect, her soft, womanly 
voice, her rather faltering step, but above 
all, her dear ^vinning ways with those she 
loved ; and from this Kst I could never 
find a single human being excluded. 

I was very young, very thoughtless, and 
very much addicted to romance reading at 
the time to w hich I am now referring ; and 
one hot summer's day, having in vain ran- 
sacked my friend's library for something 
new in the "Castle of Otranto" stvle, I 
sought Mrs. Forrest in the cool, pleasant 
room where she was generally content to 
abide, and seating myself familiarly at her 
feet, said, saucily enough — 

" Now, you good, kind creature, do tell 
me yom* own history from the very begin- 
ning — and mind you don't leave out the 
love parts." 

"Little, coaxing Puss!" she replied, 
stroking my hair, and smiling more faintly 
than usual ; "so you thought to take the 

B 2 



4 THE student's WIPE. 

old woman by storm, did you ? but I bave 
no intention, eitber now or at any futiu-e 
13eriod, of gratifying your curiosity con- 
cerning my own past trials. Wbat you 
already knoAV I do not grudge you ; for tbe 
rest, let it be buried witb me. However, 
if you want materials for tbat romance you 
bave been talking about writing these last 
hundred years, I think I can supply you 
with some that will answer your purpose. 
And these, I may add, ought to interest 
you more than any which relate only to 
the grey -haired old woman beside you." 

" I am sure they won't, though," I said, 
Avith the licensed freedom of a spoilt child. 
*' You are going to tell me the whole life 
and adventures of some awfully good 
female, who always spoke, thought, felt, 
and, I dare say, loved by rule, or as her 
truly worthy and estimable parents desired 
her. Now, my dear, darling Mrs. Porrest, 
have some pity on a little sinner like my- 
self, and forbear driving me to despera- 
tion by holding up to my view this heroine 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. O 

of supernatural virtues. If you won't let 
me hear your own life, I would much 
rather go out and run after that pretty 
butterfly than sit listening to a sermon, 
badly disguised, like childi-en's powders in 
raspberry jam.'* 

"Little sinner, indeed !" replied my too 
indulgent friend, " and quite unworthy of 
a single spoonful of the delicacy you pre- 
sume to despise. Xeyertheless, as it hap- 
pens that what I am about to relate pos- 
sesses more the nature of raspberry jam — if 
by that you mean loye and nonsense — than 
of any doctor's stuff whateyer ; and as I am 
really curious to see this lons^ talked of 
romance begun, I shall overlook your im- 
pertinence, and proceed at once with my 
story. But go and fetch your work first ; 
I do not love to see young fingers playing 
at holiday too loner." 

" Without much anticipation of amuse- 
ment, I settled myself in an easy chair, 
and taking from my apron pocket a little 
netting that I generally carried about with 



6 THE student's WIFE. 

me, prepared to act, mth all due decorum, 
the part of listener to my respected and 
venerable friend. 

Alas ! the lips that then spoke so plea- 
santly have long been silent in the grave ; 
the meek eyes that wept in recalling the 
suiferings they had witnessed, have long 
been closed in death ! The very name of 
gentle Mrs. Forrest has become almost a 
forgotten sound ; but in the pages of the 
simple story I have at length determined 
on commencing, her memory shall live 
again ; and thrice honoured shall I feel if 
my repetition of the tale afford, to even one 
solitary individual, the same degree of 
pleasure and interest that I experienced, 
long years ago, while listening to it from 
the lips of gentle Mrs. Porrest, as I sat, a 
thoughtless girl, beside her in that cool 
and quiet room. 



CHAPTER II. 



TuE village of Elderton in the south of 
Encrland has always been a remarkably 
quiet place, and thirty years ago there was 
something positively curious in its entu'e 
freedom from every species of movement 
and progress, such as in present days may 
be discerned working, more or less rapidly, 
from one end of our industrious and fa- 
voured island to the other. Thu'ty years 
ago the little village of Elderton boasted 
only of a solitary and not particularly well- 
conditioned street, a very small rudely built 
chm-ch, and three or foiu* dozen cottages, 
inhabited by the labouring? classes. But at 
something less than a quarter of a mile's 
distance from this primitive hamlet stood an 
old parsonage house that would have done 
honoui' to a tillage of far higher preten- 



8 THE student's WIFE. 

sions than poor Elclertoii uas ever likely to 
put forth ; and how such a choice specimen 
of tasteful architecture came there at all, 
was a matter of lively astonishment to each 
successive rector who was fortunate enough 
to assemble his household gods beneath its 
pleasant and hospitable roof. 

During many years the moderately paid 
living of Elderton had been held by very 
aged incumbents, and the beautiful parson- 
age house had consequently changed mas- 
ters with a frequency that caused much 
dissatisfaction to the quiet villagers, who, 
having nothing of importance to grumble 
about, availed themselves of every trivial 
circumstance whereon they might hang 
that darling tale of grievances which ap- 
pears absolutely necessary to the comfort 
and independence of every son of Albion. 

But even this excuse for indulging the 
master passion was at length wrested from 
the worthy dwellers at Elderton by the 
arrival amongst them of a middle-aged, 
vigorous, and singularly energetic rector, 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 9 

who bid fair to outlive a large proportion 
of his parishioners, and to retain the charm- 
ing parsonage as long as the most inveterate 
railer against new teachers could desire. 

The Rev. Dr. Berrington was an exceed- 
ingly sociable person, and he entered upon 
his new living Avith the full determination 
of making himself as agreeable and as popu- 
lar, ^Wth all classes of his neighbours, as he 
could by any means contrive to do. The 
shock sustained by the reverend gentleman 
on discovering that there was, literally, only 
one class towards whom these benevolent 
and philanthropic feelings could be exer- 
cised might have deprived Elderton of the 
brigiitest star that had ever yet shone upon 
it, had not the amiable rector's sensible 
wife and pretty daughter declared loudly 
in favour of then* new home, in sjDite of 
those disadvantages which, in common 
with the head of the family, they acknow- 
ledged and deplored. 

Mrs. Berrington was, as I have hinted, a 
very sensible woman ; but, like the rest of 

B 3 



10 THE student's WIFE. 

US, she had her little weaknesses, one of 
which consisted in an exaggerated apprecia- 
tion of cupboards, of every variety and size. 
The absence of these useful domestic fix- 
tures in their last dwelling had been a con- 
stant source of regret to her ; and when 
she discovered, on going over the old par- 
sonage at Elderton, that every room and 
every landing had its separate cupboard, 
and that all were equally commodious, no 
earthly power could have persuaded her to 
yield to Dr. Berrington's hastily expressed 
proposal of endeavouring to exchange his 
recently acquired living with that of an 
easy, good-natured brother, who was set- 
tled in a bustling and extensively populated 
neighbourood. 

Theresa Berrington, the only and well 
beloved child of this really estimable 
couple, was a quiet, reserved, and very 
thoughtful little girl, just verging upon 
that charming age when life begins to 
throw off its chrysalis disguise, and to 
appear clothed in those exquisite rainbow 



THE student's WIFE. 11 

hues which the young, innocent heart 
fondly dreams will be eternal in their 
sweetness and beauty. So Theresa wan- 
dered alone, when the sun was setting, 
through the large, quaintly planted, but 
altogether delightful garden, of the parson- 
age house, and her foolish little heart was 
won by its novel and somewhat romantic 
aspect, in the same way, and quite as 
rapidly, as her mother's had been by the 
cupboards above mentioned. 

Under these circumstances, the new rec- 
tor of Elderton had no choice but to submit 
quietly to his fate, and, in justice to a very 
wortliy man, it must be acknowledged that 
he did so ^vith an excellent grace ; and 
instead of continuing liis lamentations 
asjainst the destinv that had brousrht him 
to this isolated portion of the globe, he set 
all his energetic brain in action to discover 
some means of ameliorating the e^il which 
had so suddenly burst upon hun. 

The family were seated at their comfort- 
able l^reakfast about a week after their 



12 THE STUDENT S WIFE. 

arrival, when Dr. Eerrington, Avho had 
appeared in an unusually thoughtful mood 
since he took his place at the head of the 
tahle, exclaimed abruptly, and with con- 
siderable animation — 

'' My friends, I have an idea — I have 
two ideas, indeed ; and I really think you 
will be charmed with them." 

'' Oh ! I hope," said Mrs. Eerrington, 
*' that you are not forming any plans for 
leaving Elderton. Now that everything is 
unpacked and put in order, it would be 
such a thousand pities." 

''My love, make your mind quite easy 
on that score," replied the smiling husband. 
" Erom the moment I found that you and 
Tessie had set your hearts upon the place, 
I thought no more of giving it up. Eut I 
presume you would, neither of you, object 
very vehemently to a little better society 
than there appears, at present, any chance 
of our obtaining." 

*' Certainly not," said the sensible wife, 
quickly, and looking affectionately at the 



THE student's WIFE. 13 

pretty daughter who sat so quietly by her 
side. 

" "Well, then, ray love," resumed the 
husband, **my first idea is — ^to build a 
house." 

" Good gracious. Dr. Berrington ! I 
never heard of such a thing in my life." 

" Nevertheless, my dear Jane, such things 
have been ; and, therefore, may be again. 
Now, just listen to me a moment." 

" But you know nothing about building, 
I am afraid," persisted the surprised Mrs. 
Berrington ; " and I am sure there are no 
architects at Elderton." 

" I scarcely think there are," continued 
the rector cheerfully, *'but there are 
masons, carpenters, and blacksmiths, I 
have no doubt ; and these will be enough 
for my piu*pose, as I intend the architects 
to be you, Theresa, and myself. There is 
a capital bit of building land to be sold 
cheap about five minutes' walk from our 
house, and here we will construct our cot- 
tage ornee, which will insure us some 



14 THE student's WIFE. 

society more congenial than that at present 
sarrounding us." 

" How very, very nice !" exclaimed The- 
resa, before her mother could speak ; '' and, 
dear papa, do let me draw out a plan for 
the garden, and have that quite under my 
own management." 

" So you shall, my Tessie ; and mamma 
shall have the cupboard department en- 
tirely under her control. It's my opinion 
that our joint production will prove a non- 
pareil, and that, when it is ready for habi- 
tation, our only difficulty will consist in 
choosing from amongst the numerous ten- 
ants who will offer themselves." 

*' I dare say it is a very nice plan," Mrs. 
Berrington now put in ; " but I really can- 
not yet see clearly where the tenants are to 
spring from. Depend upon it, people in 
search of houses would never dream of 
coming to quiet little Elderton." 

" It would certainly, my love, be unwise 
to place our hopes of a tenant on chance 
visitors to this exceedingly remote, and, to 



THE student's ^^IFE. 15 

more than three parts of the world, un- 
heard-of village. Iso, I rejoice to say I 
have still sufficient intelligence to discern 
between the possible and the impossible ; 
therefore my intention is, when the cot- 
tage arrives at completion, to advertise it 
in most of the London paj)ers ; and also, to 
send a di'awing of it, which Tessie shall 
make, to the principal house agents in the 
metropolis. I believe, my love, you will 
now admit that my plan is a very perfect 
one in all its parts and details." 

" You are, undoubtedly, an excessively 
clever man, Dr. Berrington," said theT\4fe, 
with a smile of genuine admiration. *' But, 
now, for the second idea you spoke of; I 
am quite ciu'ious to know what that can 
be." 

'' Ah ! " replied the rector, thoughtfully, 
" that must be quite an after consideration ; 
and, ^dth yom' leave, I will defer the com- 
munication of it until we see how the fii'st 
one works. At present, I want you and 
Theresa to put your bonnets on, and go 



16 THE student's WIFE. 

with me to look at the piece of ground on 
which our future cottage is to stand. You 
know my maxim — ' Whatever is to be 
done, let it be done quickly.' " 



CHAPTER III. 

Dr. Berrington was one of those indi- 
viduals who in the world are called "lucky." 
Almost everything he undertook prospered 
heyond his most sanguine expectations, 
and the present project was not destined 
to form an exception to this general rule. 
In a word, the pretty cottage ornee sprang 
up as if by magic, and the quiet people at 
Elderton were becoming enthusiastic con- 
cerning then' new rector, who, though he 
preached in the little oaken pulpit every 
Sunday, as man had never preached there 
before, was yet not too proud to doff his 
neat, clerical dress on working days, and 
assist in the painting, papering, and deco- 
rating of this rapidly progressing cottage. 

Mrs. Berrington and Theresa had also 
their allotted daily tasks, but the latter 



18 THE student's WIFE. 

evinced the most diligence, and performed 
her part, indeed, to such perfection, that 
the rector insisted on giving her name to 
the house, and ''Theresa Cottage" was 
consequently printed in very large letters 
just below the slanting roof, and many 
months before there was the slightest 
chance of its requiring a distinctive appel- 
lation of any kind whatever. 

But at length the word " Pinis 1" was 
pronounced by the triumphant architect 
and proprietor ; a flag of dazzling colours 
was hoisted from one of the gothic chim- 
neys, the advertisements were written out, 
and Theresa's drawing received the last 
finishing touches, preparatory to its depar- 
ture for the great metropolis. 

It was quite an amusing thing, during 
the week or fortnight that followed, to 
listen to the endless variety of conjectures 
hazarded by each member of the parsonage 
chicle, as to the style, manner, and appear- 
ance of the future tenants of Theresa Cot- 
tage. Ample space had been allowed in 



THE student's WIFE. 19 

its construction for the accommodation of 
a large family; and that the head of a 
large family would, sooner or later, answer 
one of the attractive advertisements, daily 
appearing in the London joiu^nals, was the 
firm and unchangeable conviction of all 
interested in the matter. But day suc- 
ceeded day, and week succeeded week, 
without bringing, in any shape whatever, 
the anxiously expected application ; and 
even the sanguine rector was beginning to 
experience sundiy uncomfortable misgiv- 
ings, when, one morning, the subjoined 
letter was put into his eager hands : — 

" Sir, 

" I have just seen, by accident, your advertisement 
in this morning's paper, and as I am at present in search 
of a perfectly quiet and secluded dwelling-house, I think 
it probable that the one here referred to may meet my 
views. Trusting to your kindness to send me, at your 
earliest convenience, full particulars relative to the cot- 
tage at Elderton, 

" I remain, sir, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" Annie Forrest. 
" P.S. — I have no family, and keep but one female 
servant." 



20 THE student's wife. 

*' Well," said Dr. Berrington, as he laid 
down the laconic epistle, which, for the 
benefit of his anxious companions, he had 
read aloud, " Well, it was scarcely worth 
while to build a house for the pleasure of 
becoming landlord to a crabbed old maid, 
with one female servant. Tessie, I am 
afraid your pretty flower garden will have 
small chance of being appreciated now, 
whatever may be the honour paid to 
mamma's fine cupboards." 

The rector spoke cheerfully and plea- 
santly, as, to his credit be it told, he nearly 
always did ; but it was not difiicult to per- 
ceive that he really felt great disappoint- 
ment at this death-blow to his hopes of 
sociable and intellectual neighbours. 

Had the present application arrived at 
an earlier period, there is no doubt that it 
would have been cast aside disdainfully, as 
imworthy a second thought; but experi- 
ence had convinced the amiable rector of 
Elderton, that even gothic cottages may 
sometimes "go a begging;" and he was 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 21 

not in those flourishing: worldly circum- 
stances to make the interest of the large 
sum expended in this last speculation a 
matter of little moment to him. 

On the contrary, it was highly important 
that Theresa Cottage shoidd begin to be 
useful as well as ornamental ; and, all 
things considered, there was nothing to be 
done but to write immediately to Mrs. 
Amiie Porrest, and give her those par- 
ticulars concerning the place that might, 
at once, decide the worthy lady to become 
its enviable occupant, or to abandon all 
thoughts of it for ever. 

The former result was obtained by the 
letter dispatched tliat night to London ; 
and a day was fixed, early in the ensuing 
week, for the arrival of the rector's tenant, 
with all her household goods, at Elderton. 

It was the spring-time of the year, and 
Theresa, though sharing in some degree 
her father's disappointment concerning the 
first occupant of her namesake cottage, was 
most anxious that the flower garden should 



22 THE student's wife. 

do credit to the care bestowed on it, and 
wear a smiling aspect, to welcome its new 
mistress. So, every day the rector's pretty 
daughter might be seen bending amongst 
the green shrubs and half-opened flowers 
that her own fair hands had planted, or 
training delicate creepers round the wooden 
pillars of the gothic porch, with a taste and 
skill that one would scarcely expect to find 
exhibited by such a very quiet looking, 
unassuming little girl. 

The day before Mrs. Porrest was expected 
to arrive, Theresa had worked so indefati- 
gably, that when the evening came she 
felt almost too tired to walk home ; and, 
thinking it possible that her father might 
come to fetch her, she seated herself on a 
rustic bench just within the porch of the 
cottage, and began that pleasant, idle sort 
of dreaming, in which we all, at one period 
or other of our lives, have been accustomed 
to indulge. 

It was a luxury, however, of which 
Theresa Berrington was only beginning to 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 23 

be conscious ; and there were still visions 
of new bonnets, of delicious gallops on a 
long promised pony, and of crossed letters 
from dear female friends, mingling Tsitli 
those anticipations of deeper and more 
mysterious interest, whose very nature was, 
at present, the sweetest mystery of all. 

But, on the occasion in question, Theresa's 
innocent castle-building came to an im- 
timely end, by the sudden unlatching of 
the garden gate, which caused her to rise 
hastily from her seat, and advance, with 
wondering looks, to meet the indi^-idual 
^\'ho had broken so unceremoniously on her 
pleasant solitude. 

One glance sufficed to couAince the 
rector's daughter that it was a stranger 
she saw before her ; and a stranger, too, 
of a stamp by no means common at 
Elderton. 

The lady — for it icas a lady, and no 
interesting hero dropped from the clouds 
on purpose to initiate Theresa into the 
charming mysteries of which she had been 



24 THE STUDENT^ S WIPE. 

vaguely dreaming — paused abruptly when 
she perceived Miss Berrington, and began 
in rather an embarrassed, nervous manner : 

" I really was not aware — I have to 
apologise for intruding ; but I had under- 
stood that " 

'' Oh pray," interrupted Theresa, already 
wonderfully interested in her very pale 
and sad-looking companion, " do not say a 
word about intruding. You probably heard 
that this cottage was to let ; and so it was 
until a few days ago. I am so sorry, if you 
did come to see it, that it should have been 
taken previously. We were most anxious 
to secure a pleasant neighbour, and I 
fear " 

The faintest possible blush on the still 
fair cheek of the stranger lady caused 
Theresa, at this point, to stop, and to 
reflect that she was getting much more 
confidential than she had any right to be. 
" I am sure," she continued presently, as 
the other did not speak, " we should have 
liked you for a tenant exceedingly. There 
is no societv at Elderton." 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 25 

** You are Dr. Berrington's daughter, 
then, I presume," said the lady, smiling 
for the first time, in what Theresa thought 
a most fascinating manner. 

" Yes ; and you are — forgive me, if I am 
taking too great a liberty" — 

" I am Mrs. Forrest, your father's new 
tenant," replied the stranger, extending 
her hand very cordially to the now blush- 
ing and confused Theresa; ''and I am 
happy that an accident has thus intro- 
duced us to each other, as I had fully made 
up my mind to shun all and every acquaint- 
ance, without the slightest reference to 
their merits or deserts." 

Mrs. Porrest probably volunteered this 
information to give her young companion 
time to recover from her siu^prise and con- 
fusion, for she was not a person of many 
words, and her own private thoughts or 
intentions were about the last subjects she 
was in the habit of making public. Theresa 
felt and appreciated this graciousness ; but 
it was some little time before she could ex- 

VOL. I. c 



26 THE student's wife, 

press any part of the delight she really- 
experienced in the idea of having such a 
charming, interesting, and altogether un- 
common sort of person for a neighbour — 
perhaps an intimate friend. Por had not 
Mrs. Porrest herself insinuated that she 
should henceforth consider Theresa an ex- 
ception to the rule of shunning all acquaint- 
ances which she so candidly confessed having 
made ? 

To the rector's simple, inexperienced little 
daughter, this was, indeed, an adventure 
of a most exciting natiu'e ; and Mrs. Porrest 
must have been more of a misanthrope than 
her looks proclaimed her to be, had she re- 
ceived coldly or indifferently the eager and 
assiduous attentions that her new acquaint- 
ance appeared disposed to lavish upon her. 

They first went all over the house to- 
gether, Theresa leading the way, and be- 
coming every minute more at her ease with 
the quiet, ladylike Mrs. Porrest, who, now 
that she had said what was required, and 
explained what she deemed necessary, sank 



THE student's WIFE. 27 

back to a natural or acquired reserve of 
manner, and allowed her young companion 
to have the whole conversation to herself. 

The latter, however, was abundantly 
satisfied with the praises bestowed on her 
flower-garden, and with Mrs. Porrest's 
assurance that this should be, for Theresa's 
sake, the ol)ject of her o^tl especial care. 

" But I am not much of a horticultu- 
rist," she continued; "and I shall really 
feel very grateful if you will come and look 
after these pretty flowers as often as pos- 
sible. You say you have no society at 
Elderton ; otherwise, believe me, I should 
scruple to invite you to so dull and lonely 
a place as any home of mine must be." 

"Oh!" said Theresa, eagerly, "I shall 

never find it dull or lonelv. It will be so 

(/ 

kind of you to let me come." 

Mrs. Eorrest looked half sm^prised and 
half affected at this girlish enthusiasm con- 
cernmg the doubtful privilege of visiting 
a middle-aged, spiritless, unamusing person 
like herself ; but she saw that it was genu- 

c 2 



28 THE student's wiee. 

ine — and Theresa Berrington became, from 
that m.oment, an object of singular and 
affectionate interest to a heart that, in all 
the wide world, had not a single creature 
on whom to lavish its still fresh and unpol- 
luted springs of tenderness and love. 

The new friends parted at the gate of the 
parsonage, Mrs. Porrest to return alone to 
the quiet village inn, where, with her one 
female servant, she was awaiting the ar- 
rival of her furniture, and Theresa to has- 
ten into the comfortable parlour of her 
happy home, and relate to her wondering 
parents every detail of the charming adven- 
ture which had filled her innocent heart 
with such pleasurable anticipations, and 
would give them all an interesting topic of 
conversation for many days to come. 



CHAPTER IV. 



As spring advanced, "Theresa Cottage''' 
became the admiration, if not the envy, of 
the whole neighbom^iood, and Mrs. Eor- 
rest looked around her, day by day, and felt 
that at last " the lines had fallen to her in 
pleasant places." That peace for which 
she had vainly sighed during so many 
clouded years was now within her grasp ; 
that absence of all external causes of excite- 
ment, which she had despaired of ever 
again experiencing, was now her daily por- 
tion. And she sat thankfully, if not yet 
rejoicingly, under her own vine and her 
own fig tree, none making her afraid. 

But a long course of mental suffering 
leaves other traces of its footsteps than the 
blanching of the cheek and the silvering of 
the hair ; and although these outward and 
visible signs of past sorrow had set their 



30 THE STUDENT S WIFE. 

eternal seal upon gentle Mrs. Porrest, it 
was in a more kindly manner than that 
sphit which works secretly upon the in- 
most heart had done. Eor this had thrown 
a dark veil over the beautiful face of nature, 
had distorted everything in the external 
world, had represented the waters of life as 
all bitter to the taste, and, finally, had ex- 
hibited death as the only refuge from suf- 
ferings which even long habit and consti- 
tutional ]3atience and meekness could not 
render endurable. 

The blanched cheek and the silvered hair 
would soon blend gracefully with advanc- 
ing age ; but years and years must pass 
before the poor bruised heart could see 
through the dark veil which grief had 
woven for it — the bright sun shining upon 
the world, as it had shone in those early 
days when sorrow was a poem of the ima- 
gination, and life a fair dream, in which 
this poem could find no place for represen- 
tation. 

Mrs. Porrest had been eminently calcu- 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 31 

lated to adorn as well as to enjoy society ; 
but, except for a very brief space, she had 
done neither, and it would have been a vain 
task to endeavour to persuade her that she 
had yet ample capabilities for both. Her 
intention, when she came to Elderton, was, 
as she had informed Theresa Berrington, to 
shun even those every- day acquaintances 
which are almost indispensable to our 
social condition, but which the friendless 
widow fancied would only be an aggra- 
vation of her loneliness. 

The accidental meeting with Theresa pre- 
vented, however, the entire carrying out of 
this purpose, as it was impossible to receive 
the daughter on friendly terms without be- 
coming, in some degree, intimate with the 
parents, who would, indeed, have been 
grievously disappointed had their interest- 
ing and amiable tenant persisted in the 
barbarous intention of closing her door 
and her heart against such unobtrusive 
advances as theu's. 

But although Mrs. Forrest did not do 



32 THE STUDENT S WIFE. 

this, she never professed — because she 
never felt — any vivid pleasure in the com- 
panionship of the rector or his wife. The 
former was too much in love with the 
world and its thousand innocent enjoy- 
ments, too earnest and energetic in all his 
words and actions, to suit one who desired 
nothing under the sun but entire freedom 
from excitement; and Mrs. Berrington, 
though calm and quiet enough for a saint, 
had a mind too practical and minute to 
accord with that of her reserved and grief- 
stricken neighbour. 

They had not a thought in common ; 
except it might be concerning Theresa ; 
and the affectionate mother was not dis- 
pleased at discovering that, if there was a 
subject which could rouse the interest of 
''that strange Mrs. Eorrest," and win a 
smile from those pale, calm lips, it was the 
subject of her own dear daughter's past 
life and future prospects. 

" We do not expect or wish our Theresa 
to form a grand connection," the rector's 



THE student's WIFE. 33 

sensible wife observed one day, in conver- 
sation with Mrs. Porrest ; *' nor should I 
care for her marrying at all, did I not 
conscientiously believe that there is no 
other state of life in which a woman can 
be so useful and so happy." 

The Avidow looked up suddenly as her 
companion said this ; and there was such 
an expression of pure wonder in her usually 
quiet eye, that Mrs. Berrington felt con- 
strained to say, somewhat anxiously, — 

" Sm^ely, Mrs. Forrest, you must think 
with me in this matter !" 

The other had a momentary flush over 
all her face; but, as this subsided, she said, 
in her old, placid way — 

" I am of opinion that usefulness and 
happiness may accompany any state of life, 
but that they are both more easy of attain- 
ment to the single than to the married 
woman." 

''Well, you certainly surprise me 
greatly," replied Mrs. Berrington, and her 
looks attested the truth of what she said ; 

c 3 



34 THE STUDENT S WIFE. 

but not being an argumentative person, 
she suffered the subject to drop — only 
observing, as a sort of sudden thought, 
when she was going away — 

" By the bye, my dear Mrs. Porrest, I 
think it may be as well for you not to give 
Theresa an unfavourable impression con- 
cerning matrimony. She has such an un- 
bounded admiration for you and all your 
opinions, that I should quite despair of 
ever eradicating any ideas she had ac- 
quired from you." 

''It is a subject on which I never 
willingly speak," said the widow quietly ; 
'' and, if I mistake not"— with a momen- 
tary smile — ''your daughter has already 
begun to think for herself in this most 
important matter." 

"What! my Tessie?" exclaimed the 
mother, with a little incredulous laugh. 
" Oh no, there I know you are deceived ; 
Theresa is a perfect child in every respect, 
and has not a thought beyond her home 
and its simple pleasures." 



THE student's WIFE. 35 

" Then, long, ven^ long, may she con- 
tinue so," replied Mrs. Forrest T^ith singu- 
lar earnestness ; '' and Heaven forbid that 
I should be the first to make her dream of 
matrimony in any way whatever." 

Mi's. Berrington appeared quite satisfied 
now, and returned home to tell her hus- 
band that she was thoroui^hlv convinced 
their mysterious tenant had experienced 
domestic trials of no common kind; and 
that she verily believed Mrs. Forrest re- 
garded matrimony as something too hor- 
rible to be spoken of, except in the way 
that children speak of spectres and hob- 
goblins, hiding then* pale faces, and 
shuddering in every fibre till the subject 
is dismissed. 

"Poor thing, poor thing!" said the 
rector, absently, " I have no doubt she 
will marrv as^ain." 

'' Goodness, Dr. Berrington ! you must 
surely be dreaming. Fancy Mrs. Forrest 
marrvino? asrain !" 

" Well, my dear, and why not ? Elder- 



36 THE STUDENT^S WIFE. 

ton may become a very populous neigh- 
bourhood yet. I think, indeed, the chances 
are that it will." 

" But, I cannot see, even if it should, 
how that could influence Mrs. Porrest. 
I did not mean that she would never have 
a chance of changing her name ; because, 
of course, she is yet quite young enough 
to attract many middle-aged men. I 
meant " 

*' Yes, yes, my dear, good, sensible Jane, 
I know precisely what you meant," inter- 
rupted the rector, in rather an impatient 
manner ; " but the fact is, I am not think- 
ing of our excellent neighbour at this 
moment. You may remember my men- 
tioning to you, when I first proposed 
building a house, another scheme that had 
suggested itself to me as a means of insu- 
ring an enlarged circle of acquaintance." 

'' Certainly," said the w]fe, promptly ; 
" I never forget anything you have once 
spoken to me about. What was it, my 
dear?" 



THE student's WIFE. 



"Well, as we are alone, I Mill tell you 
now. It was, and is — for I have at length 
resolved upon carrying it into execution — 
to receive a limited number of yoimg men 
to read with me during the vacations — 
not boys to teach, you understand ; but 
young men, who will be glad to ruralise 
for a few months, and keep up their 
classics, instead of idling away their time 
about town, and being a disgrace to theii- 
friends, and a nuisance to everybody else. 
I feel assured there are hundi^eds who Avill 
gladly avail themselves of so favom-able an 
opportunity for improvement and country 
recreations. But you wish to offer some 
remark, Mrs. Berrington.'' 

"I really fear," said the attentive wife, 
half timidly, and as if doubtful whether 
she had a right to fear anytliing that her 
husband did not fear, " that oiu' having 
such a very pretty daughter at home would 
make this plan an unwise one. You know 
Theresa is now seventeen and a half, and 
that she is more than commonly attractive. 



38 THE student's wife. 

I am sure I cannot be called a foolish or a 
nervous mother; but I certainly do not 
quite like the idea of having young men 
living in the house." 

" Pooh, pooh ! my dear," said the rector, 
in rather a hastier tone than usual — for he 
was not in the habit of meeting with do- 
mestic opposition, even in the mildest 
form. '^ Pooh, pooh ! do you suppose I 
have not weighed all the pros and cons of 
the case before mentioning it to you ? I 
am quite aware that our little girl has a 
face and figure that we need not be 
ashamed of; but I am also aware that she 
has one of the simplest and most innocent 
minds that was ever given to a daughter 
of Eve. Tessie would only laugh if any- 
body talked love nonsense to her ; besides, 
these young men are to be my companions 
— not your's or your daughter's." 

'' But we must see them daily, I sup- 
pose." 

" At meal times, of course ; but unless 
you give us much worse dinners than you 



THE student's WIFE. 39 

are in the habit of doing, 111 answer for 
my pupils being better occupied than in 
making love to a silly little puss who has 
never read a novel or a line of sentimental 
poetry in her life." 

Mrs. Eerrington, though far from insen- 
sible to the implied compliment concern- 
ing her domestic management, still looked 
restless and uneasy; and her husband 
perceiving this, grew a little firmer and 
more authoritative in his manner, know- 
ing, from experience, that argument would 
be of no avail whatever, and that, if he 
carried his point at all, it must be by 
taking the highest ground, and assuming 
resistance or opposition to be quite out of 
the question. 

It is but fair to state that the rector be- 
lieved conscientiously in the safety and 
wisdom of his plan. His love for Theresa 
was quite as warm and tender as her 
mother's could be; but it lacked, as a 
father's affection generally does, that 
watchfulness against evil — that anxiety to 



40 THE student's WIPE. 

guard the beloved one from the very ap- 
proach of danger which, perhaps, belongs, 
in its most enlarged meaning, exclusively 
to maternal instinct. 

This little conjugal dispute terminated, 
as similar differences in the rector's family 
invariably did terminate — namely, in the 
complete triumph of the clever and ener- 
getic husband, and the grave, though good- 
humoured, acquiescence of the affectionate 
and yielding wife. 

The former went away to his comfort- 
able study, for the purpose of laying the 
first stone of his new undertaking; and 
the latter found temporary relief from her 
very natural anxieties in considering which, 
or how many, of her cherished cupboards 
she could give up for the accommodation 
of the yoimg gentlemen when they should 
actually become domesticated in her hus- 
band's house. 



CHAPTER V. 



On one of the loveliest evenings of that 
lovely spring, when nature, tilled of keep- 
ing jubilee during the livelong day, was 
settling into her beautiful and dreamy rest, 
the solitary tenant of Theresa Cottage sat 
within its rustic porch, looking anxiously 
and even nervously dovra the green lane, 
wliich terminated in the high road leading 
both to Elderton and the more distant 
county toTNTi of Oxendean. 

The lonely, friendless widow, who found 
it almost too exciting for her shattered 
nerves to receive a visit from the gentle- 
manly rector or liis quiet wife, was now 
evidently awaiting the arrival of some far 
more important guest, whose anticipated 
advent had power to flush deeply the pale 
cheek of gentle Mrs. Porrest, and to change 
her usual expression of profound serenity 



42 THE student's wipe. 

into one of very decided and really painful 
restlessness. I cannot better explain the 
cause of all this than by laying before you 
the letter which had arrived at Theresa 
Cottage the preceding day. Here it is : — 

" My dear Annie, 

" You will start, I have no doubt, at seeing 
yourself thus familiarly addressed in a hand that can 
scarcely, after so many years, be familiar to you ; but 
a few words will satisfy your curiosity and plead my 
excuse. I am your old schoolfellow and friend, Lilla 
Boyne — or, rather, Lilla Ashton now ; for, of course, I 
made a fool of myself, like all the rest of us, and mar- 
ried the very moment I had a chance of doing so. The 
consequence of this insane act has been a nineteen 
years' broiling beneath an eastern sun (for it was a 
red coat and a pair of epaulets that won my marvel- 
lously silly heart) ; and now that I have returned to 
my native country, for the purpose of looking after 
our only child, a daughter, who was sent home to be 
educated, I find nearly all my old cronies dead or in 
distant lands, and feel myself more lonely than the 
individual who sold his own shadow to that black-coated 
gentleman of whom you remember our respected pre- 
ceptress used to speak so darkly and mysteriously. 
Jesting apart, my dear friend, I am really dying to look 
once again upon an old, familiar face ; and having, by 



THE student's WIFE. 43 

the merest accident, discovered your present where- 
abouts, I am on the point of starting for the outlandish 
place you have chosen to dwell in. If I am right in my 
reckoning, you may expect to see me sometime during 
the day after this will reach you ; and, as I was never 
famous for epistolary compositions, you will understand 
why I leave all further particulars to be communicated 
when we meet. Claiming your indulgence for the veiy 
imceremonious manner in which I have presented my- 
self to your notice, 

" I remain, my dear Annie, 
" Yours most sincerely and affectionately, 

" LiLLA ASIITON." 

The first emotion of which Mrs. Porrest 
was conscious, after reading this singular 
letter, was a decidedly unpleasant one — 
a mingling of instinctive vexation and of 
nervous dread at the thoughts of having 
her quiet, monotonous life broken in upon 
by an event equally unexpected and un- 
wished for. The idea that she might be 
questioned as to the past, that she might 
be led to speak, even in the most general 
manner, of those trials which night and day 
she was struggling and praying to forget. 



44 THE student's WIFE. 

was agonizing beyond expression to this 
timid and nearly heart-broken woman. 

All that day she was truly miserable, 
and wandered up and down the house like 
a troubled spirit, vainly trying to nerve 
herself for the coming meeting. 

An almost sleepless night made the 
matter very little better; but on rising 
and going into her pretty garden, the in- 
fluences of the sweet flowers and the sing- 
ing birds, and the pure, delicious atmos- 
phere, went to her very heart, and calmed, 
in a great measure, those terribly nervous 
feelings which had been nearly insupport- 
able on the previous day. 

Towards evening, though still in an ex- 
ceedingly restless and agitated state, Mrs. 
Eorrest became partly reconciled to the 
inevitable meeting with her early friend ; 
and at the time when I have presented 
her to your notice, sitting in the cottage 
porch, and looking anxiously down the 
green lane, her thoughts had wandered 
from her own present sensations far, far 



THE STUDENT S WIPE. 45 

back into the past, when she and Lilla 
Bo}TLe were careless, happy gii'ls together 
— when they had vowed eternal friendship 
beneath the cedar on the old school lawn, 
and believed that life could bring no 
sweeter or more exciting hour than that. 

But memorj^ had other scenes to exhibit 
wherein this sudden friendship shone T\dth 
a fainter light, and wherein the beautiful 
and haughty Lilla had trampled on her 
meeker companion and shaken the pure 
faith which the latter had fondly believed 
to be founded on a rock of adamant ; 
scenes, too, wherein specious excuses had 
been offered and hastv reconciliations 
made, to be followed by fresh and more 
provoking offences, and renewed — though 
ever colder assurances of forgiveness — on 
the part of the injured and oppressed. 

But standing out prominently from all 
earlier reminiscences was that of the fair 
summer night which had preceded the last 
parting of these so-called friends, ere they 
went forth from the narrow world of 



46 THE student's wife. 

school life into the wide and restless arena 
of the great world of pleasure beyond — 
went forth with what bright, hoping 
hearts ! with what gay, careless, life- 
enamoured spirits ! — Lilla Boyne in her 
proud, stately beauty, and Annie Mervyn 
in her exquisite prettiness, gentleness, and 
timidity. 

Yes, through the long vista of nearly 
twenty years, the poor lonely widow saw 
herself, as she had been at eighteen, as 
distinctly as she saw fair Lilla Boyne, and 
all the other thronging forms that made 
up the scene on that bright summer's 
night. 

She saw the moonlighted lawn, and the 
dear old spreading cedar, casting its heavy 
shadows over the soft green turf, and the 
clumps of arbutus and laurustinus shedding 
their delicate perfumes on the sultry but 
still most delicious air. All was delicious 
in those early days ; and at this period of 
delightful and bewildering excitement — 
this precursor of that glorious liberty which 



THE student's WIFE. 47 

should atone for ten thousand times the 
thraldom of the years that had gone by — 
was it strange that those young, hoping 
hearts, should become intoxicated with 
their o^vn happiness, and see enchantment 
written on every flower that grew, and on 
every wind that a\ hispered aroimd them ? 

Poor, desolate, friendless woman ! press 
those thin fingers tightly over those burn- 
ing and brimming eyes ; but the visions 
will not depart for tliis, nor yet for thy 
weary sighs, nor for that terrible and suffo- 
cating emotion which rises in the quivering 
throat, and thi^eatens to have vent in a 
loud cry of woe, that the solitary pillow 
alone should be privileged to hear. 

Fair, moving forms ; bright, glancing 
eyes ; young, rosy cheeks ; and joyous 
thrilling voices — there they all are ! And 
music — quick, inspiring music — is floating 
on the smnmer air ; and fairy feet are 
gliding and springing over the rustling 
grass ; and white arms are wreathing in 
girlish tenderness and animation; and all 



48 THE student's wife. 

is delicious gaiety, reckless excitement, and 
enchanting hope. 

Lilla Boyne and Annie Mervyn are the 
patronesses of this farewell fete; and the 
dancing over, how eagerly the rest of those 
young, giddy creatures crowd round these 
two envied beings, who on the morrow will 
leave for ever that grey, neutral ground 
between childhood and womanhood, to 
emerge into the full, dazzling blaze of the 
latter state, which must, of necessity, com- 
prehend the realisation of every dream of 
happiness that can suggest itself to the 
human mind. 

Poor, desolate, friendless woman! who 
is that wild, laughing, Hebe girl, keeping 
ever at your side, and seeming to glory in 
the demonstrations of esteem and affection 
that your approaching departure have 
called forth from the thronging school 
girls, and of which the haughty Lilla gets 
a somewhat scantier share ? How is it 
that one, who seemed to love and cling to 
you so tenderly then, should have no part 



THE student's WIFE. 



in your present sadness — should leave you 
to suffer and to weep alone r 

Ah ! you see, now, that light, bounding 
form — you hear, now, that sweet, ringing 
laugh — you can almost feel those losing 
kisses upon yoiu* poor, quivering lips ; and 
this is why the sob, so long repressed, 
bursts forth, at last, with such wild 
anguish, as you lean against the trellis 
work of the rustic porch, and pray, silently, 
but fervently, for grace to bear meekly 
this bitter, bitter curse of memory ! — this 
" sorrow's cro^^n of sorrow — remembering 
happier things." 

But, where is she — and where are they 
all ? And what has become of those radiant 
hopes — those sweet, sweet anticipations, 
which made that summer's eve so bright, 
and caused you to part with something of 
the old affection, even from proud Li 11a 
Bo^^le ; and to forgive freely every past 
offence, in favoiu' of the new life and the 
new joys that were opening before you 
both ? 

VOL. I. D 



50 THE STUDENT S WIEE. 

Poor, desolate, friendless woman ! Is that 
far-off grave " so cold and deep," indeed 
the dwelling place of merry, graceful, 
loving Emily Mervyn — the dear, dear 
sister of your happier years ? And are all 
your old companions scattered over the 
husy, restless world? And have the 
cruel v»^inds — the cold, cold moaning winds 
of earthly tribulation — taken away those 
bright and glowing hopes which your 
gentle, timid heart so fondly cherished ? 

Weep on, then ; and press those thin 
fingers tightly over those burning and 
brimming eyes ; for, not yet will the grave 
give up its dead; and not in this world 
will the hopes of youth — those glorious 
rainbow-tinted hopes — have a second birth. 
Weep on, daughter of affliction ; but 
forget not to mingle with thy weeping 
prayer and self-abasement, that, at the 
great harvest, thy lot may be amongst the 
number of those who, having sown in 
tears, shall reap in joy — joy unspeakable, 
and full of glory. 



THE student's WIFE. 51 

But, in my compassion for gentle Mrs. 
Forrest, I have wandered from the present 
scene, and presumed to glance into that 
dread future, of which we know so little, and 
should ever approach with such heartfelt 
reverence and solemnity. Let me retrace 
my steps. 

The sun is fast sinking behind the dis- 
tant hills ; the night breeze is beginning 
to rustle gently amongst the garden trees ; 
a few solitary birds are flying sAviftly to 
their woodland homes ; and Mrs. Forrest 
has mped away her rebellious tears, and 
is moving slowly and wearily along the 
gravelled path towards the gate which 
opens on the lane. 

She has heard the sound of distant car- 
riage wheels ; and longing, now, only for 
the meeting to be over, she makes one 
mighty effort to nerve her poor, weak 
spirit, and stands pale, mournful, but out- 
wardly composed, in readiness to receive 
and welcome her uninvited guest. 

Wliat a strange contrast to the gay, 

D 2 

o„ OF ILL ua. 



52 THE student's wife. 

smiling, youthful looking lady, who leans 
from the window of her chaise, as it ap- 
proaches the cottage gate, and evidently 
fails to recognise, in the grief- worn woman 
standing there, the blooming Annie 
Mervyn, of her girlish days. 

But Mrs. Porrest was prepared for this ; 
and, when her elegant visitor, descending 
from the carriage, advanced with some- 
what hesitating steps, and inquired if she 
was mistaken in believing that a lady of 
the name of Eorrest resided there, the pale 
widow held out her hand, and said, in a 
firm voice — 

" Lilla, I am Annie Porrest." 



CHAPTER VI. 

They were seated, face to face, mthin the 
parlour of the cottage ; they were looking 
at each other earnestly and gravely. Even 
the light, worldly Lilla Ashton was utterly 
subdued for the moment by the striking 
chancre in her earlv friend. Eor a minute 
or so neither of them spoke. 

But, presently, Mrs. Ashton rallied, and, 
stretching out her hand, for the second 
time, said, in a very soft and pleasing 
voice — 

" How foolish we both are. I cannot 
imagine how I could have been such a 
very goose as to expect to find you any- 
thing like the Annie Mervyn I knew long 
years ago. I am really unfeignedly glad 
to renew our acquaintance ; and if we are 
changed outwardly, that is no reason why 
we should be so inwardly. I am quite 



54 THE student's wife. 

aware that I look at least a hundred and 
ninety-nine, myself; but, then, that Indian 
climate is so cruelly destructive to the 
complexion." 

'' You are very little altered," said Mrs. 
Eorrest, quietly, and beginning to recover 
from her first emotion. 

'' Oh, my dear creature, you only flatter 
me, I am sure. Positively, I quite dread 
going to the glass of a day ; but this is all 
nonsense, when we must have such loads 
and loads to talk about. How do you 
think I found you out ?" 

" I have no idea." 

"Well, it was very funny; a complete 
fatality, I am perfectly convinced. You 
must know that my la^vyer married a 
daughter, or a sister, or a grandmother, or 
a something of your lawyer's. It couldn't 
be a grandmother, by the bye, because 
your lawyer is, himself, I believe, a man 
of sixty, and mine is not more than thirty ; 
but, at all events, it was a near relative, 
and so the whole liistory came out one day 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 55 

when I was inquiring' of my factotum — he 
is such a clever creatm^e — whether he 
knew anything of any of the old friends I 
had left in England ? Of course, he told 
me ahout your marriage, and that it was 
suspected your Imshand had led you a 
pretty life ; and that" 

" I am a mdow, Lilla," interrupted 
Mrs. Eorrest, in a tone of grave reproof, 
while a strange trembling came suddenly 
over all her frame. 

"Yes, yes, I know that; hut do you 
mean that I am ^^Tong in alluding to the 
past ? Upon my word, I have forgotten 
the ways of yoiu' Enghsh world ; and you 
must forgive me if I offend unT\dttingly." 

"Let me hear ahout yourself. Yours 
has been a happy lot — to judge, at least, 
by outward appearances ; and you have a 
child." 

" Well, about myself there is very little 
to relate. I married young — for love, of 
coiu-se ; though, fortimately, my husband 
had a tolerable income even then. I 



56 THE student's wife. 

accompanied him to India a few months 
after our marriage, and there I have re- 
mained quietly ever since; but Colonel 
Ashton took it into his head to send me 
off to see about Carry. So here I am; 
and here I must abide patiently, until the 
good ship Oriana — in which I have 
secured my passage to Madras — shall be 
ready to return thither." 

" And your daughter goes with you, of 
course?" 

Mrs. Ashton uttered a little laugh as 
she replied — 

" No, indeed, she doesn't. Carry is the 
oddest girl in all the world. She has 
taken it into her old-fashioned head — upon 
my word, that girl of mine has the notions 
of a woman of ninety — she has positively 
taken it into her ridiculous head, that a 
young lady cannot go to India without 
being supposed to want a husband. Colo- 
nel Ashton wished me to give her a choice 
in the matter, and Miss Carry has chosen 
to remain in England." 



THE student's WIPE. 57 

**It must be a severe trial to you to 
leave her behind," Mrs. Forrest said. 

A very slight suffusion came over the 
other's cheek at this observation. She 
was silent a moment, and then answered, 
in rather a light, jesting tone — 

" Oh ! I don't pretend to be violently 
affected at it ; though, of course, I am not 
blind to the absence of filial affection 
which it manifests. The fact is. Carry 
and I are nearly strangers to each other. 
She left me before she was ten years old ; 
and has, naturally, since then, received 
her impressions from those amongst whom 
she has been living." 

"I think you said she had been at 
school?" 

"Yes, and a very excellent one I do 
really believe; but there is, you know, 
frequently, with these people — these keep- 
ers of educational establishments — a nar- 
rowness of mind that one would not desire 
to find commim.icated to their pupils. I 
am sm^e poor Carry is awfuUy prejudiced 
and self-opiniated." d 3 



58 THE student's wife. 

" She lias, of course, been with you 
since your arrival in England ?" 

" Not all the time ; for her ladyship pro- 
fesses an abhorrence of fashionable society ; 
and as I have been necessarily rather gay 
myself, we did not get on quite comfort- 
ably together." 

" Yoti^ gay?" said Mrs. Porrest, in sur- 
prise ; " I thought you said in your letter, 
that you found yourself so terribly lonely." 

Again Mrs. Ashton coloured, and this 
time more perceptibly than before. 

'^Oli!" she said, '' so I was, at particu- 
lar seasons ; for, of course, there is little 
real enjo^nnent in dissipation : by the bye, 
I have got that Avord from Carry, I am 
sure. But, as I was observing, there is 
nothing in an endless round of parties, and 
such like, that can satisfy the heart when 
it is yearning for old associations, and all 
that sort of thing. But, what was I going 
to tell you ? Oh, I know, now. You re- 
member Janet Lawrence, I suppose?" 

"Perfectly. She made a love match 



THE student's WIFE. 59 

before we left school, I have heard, and 
has had many trials to encounter." 

" Poor thing ! I dare say she has ; but 
the elegant proverb of ' every dog has liis 
day' has been recently verified in her case ; 
for her husband, Mr. Singleton — through 
the deaths of I don't know how many per- 
sons — young, old, and middle-aged — has 
come in, not only for an ancient baronetcy, 
but a fortune of twelve thousand a year." 

" Poor Janet ! what a great change for 
her!" 

*' Happy Janet, you should say ; for she 
is, or ought to be, as happy as the day is 
long. I liave seen her very often of late, 
as they have taken a splendid town-house, 
and are doing the thing in style, I can 
assure you." 

*' Is there a family ?" 

*'That is just what I am coming to. 
There is only one son, who has, of course, 
gro\^^l suddenly into a person of consider- 
able importance. He is somewhat of an 
oddity, but quite a gentleman, and, his 



60 THE student's WIFE. 

mother says, remarkably clever into the 
bargain.^ Hitherto his education has been 
rather desultory, owing to their straitened 
means; and, I fancy, they are going to 
send him to study with a clergyman, as he 
declares loudly against the universities; 
and he has been a bit of a spoiled child." 

" How old is he now ?" 

" Near about three and twenty, I think ; 
but he looks ten years more. One of the 
steady ones, you see, and almost as old 
fashioned in his tastes and notions as my 
Carry." 

"They agree well, then, I suppose." 

Mrs. Ashton began to evince great in- 
terest in the subject she had selected to 
talk upon. She settled herself more com- 
fortably in her easy chair, drew the foot- 
stool closer to her feet, and replied, in 
quite an affectionately confidential tone — 

** Why, they have never met, at present ; 
but the truth is — you see I cannot be re- 
served with an old and dear friend like 
yourself; — the truth is, both Lady Single- 



THE STUDENT'S WIPE. 61 

ton — that is, Janet — and myself, think it 
would be an excellent thing to make a 
match between them. Lawrence Single- 
ton has quite an aversion to our sex, and 
was never known to pay a girl a compli- 
ment in his life. This did not much sig- 
nify as long as he remained a poor and 
obscure student ; but now that he is heir 
to a baronetcy and twelve thousand a year, 
his mother is in despau' about him ; and 
one day when I was speaking of Carry, it 
suddenly occurred to her that, if they 
could be throT\TL together, La^^Tence 
might come to think differently concern- 
ing matrimony.'* 

Mrs. Porrest looked grave, but offered 
no remark ; and, presently, the other con- 
tinued — 

'*We fancied, at first, that this would 
be of easy accomplishment, as Janet pro- 
posed taking Carry to live with her until I 
return again to England ; but when I 
mentioned the plan to that T\ilful daughter 
of mine, she said, shortly — * Mamma, I hate 



62 THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 

Londoiij and the sort of life these Single- 
tons are leading. Let me go to some 
qniet family in the country, and I ask 
nothing else.' Of course, I remonstrated, 
argued, and pleaded, hut it was all in vain ; 
for though Caroline professed her willing- 
ness to ohey any command of her mother's, 
she stated, in such forcible terms, her ob- 
jection to a London life, that I really had 
not the heart to act in complete opposition 
to her mshes." 

" I think you did rightly and kindly," 
said Mrs. Porrest ; "hut, surely, your 
daughter's taste is singular, in a young 
and, doubtless, a pretty girl." 

"Well, I do not call Carry a pretty 
girl," replied the mother; "she is rather 
elegant, perhaps, but her face wants 
animation and colour. There is nothing 
brilliant or striking about her. Still, I agree 
with you that it is a very extraordinary 
taste, this decided preference for the stupid, 
monotonous country. By the bye, how on 
earth came you to settle do^vn in such 



THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 63 

an isolated, out-of-the-way, ultra-romantic 
sort of place ?" 

" It suits me, now, perfectly," said Mrs. 
Porrest ; " for I have lived long enough to 
discover that there are no blessings to be 
compared to peace and tranquillity. All I 
crave at present is, complete immunity 
from excitement or change of any kind; 
and, I believe" — ^ith a very mournful 
smile — " that I may reckon on thus much 
from destiny ; for lam alone in the loorld^ 

Mrs. Ashton did not notice the sudden 
pallor that overspread her companion's 
face at these words. It was e^ddent, 
indeed, that her thoughts were wholly en- 
grossed by interests of her ot\ti, and that she 
had few sympathies to spare for the sor- 
rows of her dear old friend, whom, never- 
theless, she had made this long, trouble- 
some, and expensive journey to see. Mrs. 
Porrest was startled from some such re- 
flections as these by her guest saying, 
abruptly, as if in answer to her last obser- 
vation — although there had been a pause 



64 THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 

of several minutes between — " What, then, 
has become of your sister Emily ? Has 
she, too, married, and gone far away?'* 

" She died, five years ago," replied Mrs. 
Forrest, with tears raining, now, down her 
pale, thin cheeks. 

'' Bless me, you don't say so ! That 
gay, pretty, charming creature, whom 
everybody blamed, and everybody loved ! 
How well I can remember her on the 
evening of our farewell fete ! Yours and 
mine, Annie — when she dressed up as an 
old gipsey, and told all our fortunes for us, 
making yom's the brightest and the sun- 
niest amongst the whole. Ah, well, those 
were foolish, but very happy days. Hope 
is, after all, so much sweeter than reality ; 
but, my dear friend, I am distressing you 
by this silly babble. Let us talk of some- 
thing else." 

" No, no, Lilla !" said Mrs. Eorrest, in a 
choking voice, '' I have shunned, too long, 
every allusion to past days and events. 



65 THE STUDENT S WIFE. 

My heart cannot be the heavier for giving 
a voice to the dark thoughts that hannt 
me, both in my waking and my sleeping 
hours. I will tell you, at least, about poor 
Emily, whose days were, indeed, few and 
evil ; and who is now sleeping in a far-off, 
lonely spot, where neither sorrow nor joy 
can ever reach her imiocent, loving heart 
again." 

Mrs. Ashton immediately assumed a 
subdued and attentive look; while her 
agitated companion continued — 

" You may have heard that Emmy came 
to live with me when I married, as our 
guardian wanted to travel, and was very 
glad to get rid of her. In less than a year 
she formed an attachment to a young, 
giddy Irishman, who had run through a 
large fortmie, and was entirely dependent 
on a rich old uncle, li^Tiig, alone, in the 
extreme north of Ireland, and reputed to 
be as capricious as the ^dnd. They mar- 
ried, however ; and, full of love and 
romance, started for the residence of this 



66 THE student's wiee. 

elderly gentleman, who, according to their 
expectations, was to settle a handsome 
annuity upon them for life. The result 
proved how far they had been in error ; for 
Mr. Mahon, a confirmed bachelor himself, 
had no sympathy with lovers; and, 
instead of increasing his nephew's allow- 
ance, he withdrew all that he had pre- 
viously bestowed on him, and the young, 
ignorant, thoughtless creatures were left 
to fight their way in the world on poor 
Emily's pittance of a hundred and twenty 
pounds a year. But this — though bad 
enough — was far from the worst part of 
the case; for the husband's affections 
speedily withered, in the keen air of 
poverty and privation ; he grew morose, 
and even cruel to my poor, patient sister, 
who sank, at last, under the accumulated 
trials that she was forced to encounter. 
Previous to this, however, she had given 
birth to a boy, whose arrival softened, in 
some measure, the hard heart of the old 
uncle : for, from that time, he allowed 



THE student's WIFE. 67 

them a trifling sum which, by the poor 
young mother's management, sufficed to 
maintain themselves and child in tolerable 
comfort and respectability. For a few 
years, therefore, they did pretty well, as to 
outward circumstances; but as the boy 
grew up, he manifested such tokens of 
recklessness and extravagance, such utter 
want of thought, and such a decided taste 
for all the expensive pleasures in which 
his father had indulged, that my sister 
lost all heart, and ceased, I believe, to 
struggle any longer Av-itli her destiny. At 
any rate, she died when Philip was about 
seventeen, and before she had been able to 
persuade him to settle steadily to any piu'- 
suit or occupation. It is from her letters 
that I have gathered all I have now told 
you, except the fact of Philip's wildness ; 
for she — poor thing ! — always wrote of 
him in terms of boundless adoration ; and 
the utmost extent of her condemnation 
consisted in the expression of a wish, that 
her beloved Philip had been bom in a 



68 THE student's wife. 

higher rank, as he seemed quite unable to 
comprehend the necessity of restraining 
his natural tastes and inclinations. 

" After her death, the uncle adopted his 
grandnephew, leaving the father to provide 
for himself as he could ; but I have heard 
that Philip sent him constant, though 
secret supplies, while he lived ; and, in his 
last illness, returned to him, and did all 
that filial duty could do to lighten those 
suflPerings which folly and dissipation had 
occasioned.'' 

'* This young man cannot be so bad, then, 
after all. I presume he is living still." 

"Yes; and it is supposed he will in- 
herit all Mr. Mahon's wealth. The latter, 
however, is, as I before said, extremely 
capricious ; and he has favoured me with 
one or two communications, complaining 
bitterly of the trouble he has with Philip ; 
and giving, indeed, such an account of the 
young man, that I should wonder at his 
bearing with him at all, had I not heard 
that my nephew has a strange sort of 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 69 

fascination about him, which few have 
ever been able to resist." 

" Then, you have not yet seen him your- 
self?" 

*' Oh, no ; nor is it very likely that I 
shall do so now. And, truly speaking, I 
am not — in spite of much good that is 
spoken of him — greatly prej)ossessed in his 
favour; for, I cannot help connecting his 
^\'ildness and thoughtlessness, in some 
measure, ^ith my sweet sister's early 
death; and, Lilla, you know how dearly 
and entu-ely we loved each other." 

Mrs. Forrest paused here, from excess 
of emotion, and presently her companion 
said — 

" Did you see much of poor Emily after 
her marriage?" 

" I never saw her after she left me," 
was the tremulous reply. " But wlien I 
became free I visited her grave; and 
heard all about her husband and Philip 
from an old woman who had lived with 
her as servant until she died." 



70 THE student's WIFE. 

** It is very, very sad," said Mrs. Asli- 
ton; "but life is full of such histories; 
and the secluded existence you are leading 
nourishes vain regrets, and indisposes you 
to appreciate the blessings still remaining 
to you" 

" Pardon me," interrupted the widow, 
with singular earnestness. '' I am sure no 
human being ever appreciated the perfec- 
tion of earthly happiness as I appreciate 
the one solitary blessing which I now en- 
joy — that of rest, mental rest — Lilla ; 
which, to you, and to all who dance and 
smile through life, has no meaning beyond 
listless inanity and insupportable dul- 
ness." 

''Well, I confess, I am not quite pre- 
pared, at present, to establish myself in a 
hermit's cell; but, at the same time, you 
must not fancy that there are no stum- 
bling blocks in my path. Now, that tire- 
some young person I have the honour of 
calling daughter is, I assure you, a source 
of infinite trouble to me just now, when I 



THE student's WIFE. 71 

have so many preparations to make for my 
own return to India. AAliere, on earth, 
am I to look for a quiet family who will 
be disposed to receive, as inmate, a perfect 
stranger ; and one, too, who has such old- 
fashioned and ^^>^juvenile v\'ays and no- 
tions." 

'' Surely, your factotum, as you call him, 
might assist you here!" suggested Mrs. 
Forrest, hopelessly blind to the di'ift of 
her companion's confidences. 

A very charming and playful smile, 
Avliich concealed pretty well an irresistible 
wrinkling of Mrs. Ashton's polished fore- 
head, was, for a few seconds, the only reply 
to this; but presently she said — still smiling 
most bewitchingly — 

'^ How very odd, now, that you should 
have referred me, as it Avere, to this really 
invaluable individual ; because, when I 
mentioned the subject to him, what do 
you suppose he answered? You cannot 
guess, of com'se, so I must tell you. He 
actually wanted me to to ask you to receive 



72 THE student's wife. 

Carry; and, to tell you the truth I was 
so charmed with the idea that I have 
thought of nothing else ever since. Of 
course I was ignorant of your desire for 
complete solitude. But oh, my dear, dear 
friend ! if I could persuade you, for the 
sake of old times and our once ardent 
friendship, to receive my girl, I should 
he lightened of such a load of anxiety, and 
consider myself your debtor for ever and 
for ever." 

Mrs. Ashton spoke with a very graceful 
earnestness, and at the last words clasped 
her white hands, and looked up beseechingly 
to the changing and troubled countenance 
of her grave hostess, Avho as soon as she 
could find voice to speak, replied — 

" Are you really serious, Lilla ? Do you 
really know what you are asking ?" 

"Serious! good heavens! why should I be 
otherwise than serious?" — with a moment- 
ary irritation of manner. '' There is, surely, 
nothing so very out of nature in one friend 
begging another to receive her daughter 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 73 

for a few years. Colonel Ashton is a liberal 
raan ; and, as far as regards the pecuniary 
part of the business, I am quite sure there 
need be no difficulty. But" — 

"Lilla, you should have knoTVTi me 
better," interrupted Mrs. Eorrest, with 
a deep, indignant flush. *' I tliink you 
do know me better, and that this insinuation 
has its source in some other feeling than 
injustice ; I scarcely understand you even 
now. Tell me, distinctly, what you wish 
me to do." 

The beautiful guest pushed back her 
chair with manifest impatience, looked as 
if she thought her companion more than 
half a fool, and finally said, in rather a 
modulated voice — 

^* My dear creature, I am in despair at 
having wounded your feelings ; but, upon 
my honour, no living being, except your- 
self, would have been displeased at my 
allusion to money matters. I dare say it 
was shockingly vulgar and commonplace, 
but so is the world we live in — so am I 

VOL. I. E 



74 THE student's wife. 

myself; and it is just because you are of 
a finer and a rarer genus, that I feel per- 
suaded Carry and you would agree a 
merveille. What do you say now — ^may 
I bring her to you next week ?" 

Poor Mrs. Porrest raised one hand, 
and pressed it tightly against her forehead, 
while she gazed into the eager countenance 
of her companion, with a perplexity that 
would have been ludicrous, but for its too 
evident sincerity and an accompaniment 
of painful embarrassment, which compelled 
compassion for the tender-hearted, sorrow 
stricken woman, thus strongly urged to 
abandon the dearly bought repose she 
valued above all earth's precious gifts, 
and for the attainment of which, her 
very soul bowed itself in gratitude and 
praise to Heaven each day that rose, and 
each night that set, upon her little quiet 
world. 

''Lilla, you know not what you ask," 
she said again, after a prolonged and 
uncomfortable pause. "Your daughter 



THE student's WIFE. 75 

would pine to death in such a place as 
this, and with no companion but myself. 
Besides, what should I do with her — how 
amuse her — how make life even tolerable 
to a young, joyous gu'l ? No, no, Mrs. 
Ashton. Lilla, do not spr^ak of this 
matter any more. It would not do; I 
know it would not do." 

Lilla Ashton was a shrewd woman, 
though not a very imaginative one. She 
saw that her old friend was shaken — that 
her gentle mind vibrated between its 
yearning for repose and solitude, and its 
natural tendency to yield in all things to 
the will of others. It was cruel, under 
such circumstances, to press the subject. 
But Mrs. Ashton had no inconvenient 
scruples or sensibilities ; she had set her 
heart upon getting Carry to Elderton, 
and it was of small consequence to her 
that the agents she employed should suffer 
distress or annoyance in the accomplish- 
ment of this cherished object. 

Poor Mrs. Porrest was like a bird in the 



76 THE student's wife. 

snare of the fowler ; and though she 
strusro^led and fluttered — almost wildly — 
for a hrief sj)ace, the end was no less sure ; 
the beautiful Mrs. Ashton was none the 
less victorious over her meek and unselfish 
friend. 

It is true that nothins^ definite was de- 
cided that nisrht. But the lonely widow 
had consented to think the matter over; 
and her dreams were full of new and be- 
wildering and heart- sickening excitements, 
in which Caroline Ashton played the most 
conspicuous part, while the night-yisions 
of Caroline's mother were all bright and 
rosy-hued, and comjorehended subjects 
which it would be anticipating too much 
to imfold to the reader at present. 



CHAPTER VII 



Hostess and guest sat side by side at the 
breakfiast table the next morning, in the 
pleasant little parlour of Theresa Cottage, 
The pretty French windows, bordered with 
stained glass, were opened to admit the 
pure, refreshing breeze, and the perfume 
of the sweet flowers — now in their fairest 
summer beauty — and the sound of sum- 
mer's thousand humming voices, which, to 
gentle ^3J>s. Forrest seemed ever to convey 
messages of that i>eace and rest her poor 
torn heart cherished as its dearest treasures. 
Even !Mrs. Ashton was not insensible to 
the quiet loveliness of the scene, and, after 
discussing a dish of tempting strawberries 
— ^which the rector's daughter had thought- 
fuDv sent down to srraee her friend's break- 
fiast table — the smiling lilla drew her chair 



78 THE student's wife. 

a little nearer to tlie window, and said, in 
her winning voice, — 

" Well, really, this is a miniature para- 
dise. I can no longer wonder at your 
choice of a home, and I declare I shall 
quite envy Carry becoming domesticated 
in such an enchanting spot. The very 
sight of it is enough to make one forswear 
the world for ever ; hut it is only widows 
(liappy creatures !) who have the power of 
following their own inclinations and de- 
ciding upon their own localities. By the 
bye, Annie, it must cost you a fortune to 
keep that garden in such exquisite order." 

" It would cost me much more than it 
does, hut for the kindness of my landlord's 
daughter, who generally comes twice or 
thrice a week to look after the flowers and 
to scold my poor Susan about the weeds. 
This is one of Theresa's usual days, and, if 
you can stay long enough, you will see as 
pretty a little creature as may be found in 
any part of the United Kingdom." 

'' Oh, I am no great admirer of rustic 



THE student's WIFE. 79 

beauty," replied the handsome guest, rather 
shortly, and with a curl of the lip which 
ought to have proved to Mrs. Forrest the 
extreme stupidity she had been guilty of 
in speaking to an acknowledged beauty 
of the personal attractions of any other 
created being under the sun. But, alas ! 
poor Mrs. Forrest was lamentably deficient 
in all kinds of worldly wisdom ; so, instead 
of abandoning the subject, or beginning to 
temper her praise of Theresa, -she said, 
quite earnestly, — 

" Oh, but my little gardener is no rustic 
damsel. She is our rector's daughter, and 
endowed, if I mistake not, with more 
than a common share of refinement and 
sensibility." 

" What rector, what rector, for goodness' 
sake?" exclaimed the suddenly animated 
listener. '* Not the man who holds the 
living of Elderton: he has no grown-up 
family, surely ?" 

" He has one daughter — my little friend 
Theresa," replied Mrs. Porrest. ''But is 



80 THE student's WIFE. 

Dr. Berrington, then, an acquaintance of 
yours ?" 

" Oh dear, no," said the other, resuming 
her former manner ; " hut I have heard 
his name once or twice, and I fancied 
somebody had said that he had only one 
little girl, quite a child. But I have such 
a wretched memory for things that do not 
particularly interest me. And so Miss 
Berrington is a beauty, is she ?" 

" I should rather call her pretty," said 
Mrs. Porrest, with a puzzled smile, which 
the contradictory statements of her guest 
had excited : " hut, as you will probably 
see her in a few minutes, it vfould be a 
superfluous waste of words to describe 
her minutely. Tell me something further 
about your daughter instead. If Miss 
Ashton is really to be placed under my 
charge, I should wish to know enough of 
her tastes and disposition as will enable 
me, at least, not to run counter to them 
in any way." 

" My dear friend," answered the mother, 



THE student's WIFE. 81 

with an irritation which she tried in vain 
to conceal, under a jesting manner, " have 
I not assured you that Caroline Ashton is 
a sealed book to me at present ? I know 
only that she hates London and fashion- 
able people, and gaiety of every description. 
What she loves — if her natiu^e is capable 
of such a passion — I have yet to learn. 
But, for the rest, I will desh^e Mrs. Lumley 
— Carry's governess — to send you forth- 
with a written character of your future 
guest. This will remove all your scruples; 
for the dear old lady raves about the girl 
she has educated." 

"It is not on my o^ati account that I 
am anxious," began Mrs. Eorrest, scarcely 
knowing whether this was said seriously or 
not; but the other quickly interrupted 
her — 

" No, no ; I understand everything, and 
that you really are the kindest and most 
disinterested creature in the universe ; but 
you shall have the character for all that. 
There was a ring at the bell just now. 

E 3 



82 THE student's wipe. 

Will that be your pretty friend, or my 
carriage I wonder?" 

"It is Theresa," said Mrs. Eorrest, ap- 
proaching the open window. " I am glad 
you will have an opportunity of seeing my 
little favourite." 

In another minute Theresa was in the 
room, looking as fresh and as pretty as the 
rosebuds she carried in her hand, and 
blushing beautifully at the presence of the 
stylish and haughty stranger, who, with a 
cruel disregard of the poor child's feelings, 
scanned her from head to foot, and ac- 
knowledged Mrs. Eorrest's introduction by 
a little patronising nod, which — whatever 
might have been its object — made a very 
disagreeable impression on the rector's 
daughter, and caused her natural shyness 
to increase rather than diminish, and her 
usual unaffected grace of manner to be- 
come constrained and awkward in a most 
painful degree. 

Mrs. Eorrest saw all this, and regretted 
sincerely that her young friend had been 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 83 

exposed to such a strange reception from 
one whose intercourse with the world 
should have taught her courtesy, even if 
good feeling failed in suggesting it. But 
it was quite clear now that Lilla Ashton 
had not cast off the unaniiahle defects of 
Lilla Boyne ; and the gentle, peace-lo\ing 
widow had an inward trembling, in reflect- 
ing that her word had gone forth to be- 
come the guardian — the second mother, 
indeed — of this woman's daughter. 

Theresa lingered a few minutes arrang- 
ing the flowers she had brought in some 
vases on the table, and then went out of 
the room to take off her bonnet and shawl. 

Mrs. Eorrest was too much annoyed 
with her gtiest to speak iimnediately ; but 
she was thinking of asking the latter for 
an explanation of her odd manner to Miss 
Berrington, when Lilla rose from her seat 
and said, carelessly — 

" A perfect child of nature, this protege 
of yours, Annie. "\Yhat a pity it is, for 
the veracity of poets and romancers, that 



84 THE student's WIFE. 

uncultivated nature should be so peculiarly 
graceless." 

" You do not admire Theresa, then ?" 

"]^ot in her present crude state, cer- 
tainly. What she might become, if re- 
modelled by society and art, I do not pre- 
sume to determine. The girl has a fine 
complexion ; and with men, I believe, that 
goes a great way. But there comes my 
carriage now, so we must defer our discus- 
sion until I bring Carry to Elderton." 

Mrs. Porrest made no remark on this. 
She bade her old friend good bye with 
politeness, but without cordiality; and 
after receiving the last finished bow and 
smile of the elegant Lilla Ashton, turned, 
with a feeling of strange refreshment, to 
the simple, "uncultivated nature" of The- 
resa Berrington, who could not forbear a 
sigh of relief as the carriage rolled from 
the garden gate, and every trace of her 
beloved Mrs. Porrest's school-fellow dis- 
appeared. 

" Well, Theresa — and what do you think 



THE STUDENT S WIPE. 85 

of my fine visitor ? Was she not well 
worthy of those beautiful strawberries 
that, I am sure, you rose an hour earlier 
than usual to pick ?" 

Mrs. Porrest said this with a smile that 
was intended to dissipate the unwonted 
gravity of her favourite ; but some seconds 
elapsed before the latter raised her thought- 
ful little face and replied — 

" I never knew till now the meaning of 
an antipathy — at least, of taking an anti- 
pathy to a person at first sight. Oh ! my 
dearest Mrs. Porrest, you will think me 
very unamiable ; but I really do hope I 
may never see that lady again. There 
was something quite oppressive, almost ter- 
rifying, in the way she looked at me." 

" She always was, and always will be, 
incomprehensible to me," Mrs. Forrest 
answered : '' but we are not going to talk, 
or think either, about her at present. 
What has my little friend been doing with 
herself since we last met ?" 

" Oh, we have been so busy — mamma 



86 THE student's wife. 

and I" — said Theresa, resuming her usual 
eheerfuhiess. " Did I not tell you, some 
time ago, that papa intended taking a few 
pupils, or, at least, young men, to read 
with him ? Well, he has just made ar- 
rangements for receiving one who, I 
believe, is to remain with us several 
months. His relatives reside in London, 
and he mil come to Elderton at the end 
of this week." 

" And are you pleased, my dear, at the 
thoughts of this addition to your family 
circle ?" asked Mrs. Porrest, contemplating 
with some anxiety the fair, innocent face 
that was looking up into her o^vn. 

" I think I must own that I am," was 
Theresa's ingenuous reply; "for although 
I am perfectly happy at home, it is 
natural, you know, to wish for a little 
variety sometimes ; and should our new 
inmate be an agreeable person, it will cer- 
tainly add to our enjoyment — ^to yours, 
too, I hope, dear Mrs. Porrest, for we 
must all cling closely together and form a 
united, cheerful, and happy little band." 



THE student's WIFE. 87 

The widow sighed deeply, while she con- 
tinued looking earnestly at her young 
companion. 

"What makes you sigh?" asked the 
latter ; '' you will not surely shun all inno- 
cent amusements for ever ; for my sake 
you will occasionally come amongst us ?" 

" I was not thinking of myself then, 
Theresa," said Mrs. Porrest, very seriously. 
''Your words, my child, occasioned the 
sigh that trouhled you. Dear Theresa, 
why cannot you he contented with perfect 
happiness — why should you desire anything 
beyond ?" 

Theresa blushed a little and looked dowTL 
upon the carpet. Presently she said — ■ 

"I do not exactly desire anything more 
than I possess; but if it comes without 
effort of my own, you cannot blame me for 
feeling pleased." 

" I do not blame you, Theresa ; I only 
regret that you should be conscious of a 
want in the midst of so much happiness. 
Eve was perfectly happy in Paradise ; but 



88 THE student's wipe. 

in striying after something more — some- 
tiling as yet unknown — she lost her bright 
inheritance of bliss, and was doomed 
thenceforth to wander in a cold, ungenial, 
and sin-defiled world." 

" Dearest Mrs. Porrest, you are certainly 
taking a strangely exaggerated view of my 
present feeling. The forbidden fruit must 
have been infinitely more important than 
a new acquaintance, or companion even. 
There is nothing sinful, at least, in wishing 
for the latter, and it was sin that banished 
our first parents from Paradise." 

" Yes, dear child, and heaven forbid that 
any act of yours should ever drive you 
from the paradise of a happy home. Oh 
Theresa, beware of looking beyond the 
present — of indulging in visionary hopes, 
whose fulfilment is dependent on any 
created being. Keep your own heart pure 
and free, hold constant communion with 
your Maker, and be thankful for the pre- 
sent peaceful lot a merciful Providence has 
assigned you. Now come with me into the 



THE student's WIFE. 89 

garden, my dear, and let the flowers and 
the birds preach T^isdom and contentment 
to both of us." 

After a long day of quiet, rational enjoy- 
ment, Theresa prepared to hid her kind 
friend good-bye ; and it was then that 
Mrs. Forrest said to her — 

'* I, too, have some news to communi- 
cate to you, Theresa; I, too, have the 
prospect of a new inmate, who T^ill, pro- 
bably, form an agreeable addition to the 
limited society of our tillage. Xow, see if 
you can guess who the solitary old woman 
is likely to entertain ?" 

Theresa was all astonishment and curi- 
osity. She thought Mrs. Porrest had no 
living relatives, that she preferred soli- 
tude ; and that she was the last person in 
the world to have any sudden caprices. 
At length an idea occurred to her, and she 
said, eagerly — 

'' Oh ! surely it cannot be that Mrs. 
Ashton ? She is so very, very different 
from you." 



90 THE student's WIFE. 

" No, Theresa ; but it is Mrs. Ashton's 
daughter, a young lady of whom I never 
heard till yesterday ; and whose entertain- 
ment I intend trusting, in a great mea- 
sure, to my amiable little friend beside 
me. Now, I have given you a subject 
that may divide your thoughts with your 
own future guest; so good night, dear 
child, and do not forget all that is ex- 
pected of you." 

"But your news is charming," replied 
Theresa, with much animation. "Our 
numbers are indeed increasing rapidly, 
and a young lady was just what we 
wanted. I wonder how old she is, and 
what she is like. Do you know her 
christian name, dear Mrs. Porrest?" 

" Yes, it is ' Caroline ;' and, by the 
bye, you have not yet told me the name 
of your father's new pupil; and I'll 
answer for it you have it at your tongue's 
end." 

" It is Singleton — Lawrence Singleton," 
was the smiling reply. " But there is 



THE student's WIFE. 91 

papa waiting for me at the gate, so good 
bye, dearest Mrs. Forrest. I shall see 
you again very soon." 

Mrs. Forrest did not attempt to stop 
her young friend to ask for any explana- 
tions. Thought is very rapid, and long 
before Theresa had taken her father's 
arm, and begun her homeward walk, the 
friendless widow had unravelled Mrs. 
Ashton's scheme, and accorded to her 
old schoolfellow's manoeuvering the exact 
amount of admiration it merited. 



CHAPTER VIII. 



EoTJR days later, the two following letters 
arrived at Theresa Cottage. One was 
from Mrs. Ashton, and ran thus : — 

" My dearest friend, — 

*^I have only a single spare 
moment in which to tell you that I find 
it quite impossible to bring Carry to 
Elderton myself, and that, therefore, she 
will travel as far as Oxendean, under 
the charge of a respectable person, who 
happens to be going to that place, and 
from thence, find her way alone to your 
little rural, but most charming retreat. 

" I have desired Mrs. Lumley to write 
to you with full particulars, and I have 
no doubt that you and my daughter will 
get on admirably together. I shall en- 



THE student's WIFE. 93 

deavour to snatch another moment before 
I embark, to indnlge in a little epistolary 
chat with you, and, eii attendant, 

" Believe me ahvays, 
" Your sincere friend and well wisher, 

"• LiLLA ASHTON. 

" P.S. — I fancy Carry will make her 
appearance the beginning of the coming 
AYcek." 

The other letter was from Mrs. Lumley, 
and these were its contents : — 



"• Eairfield House, 
" Madam, — 



" Kensington. 



" I am requested by Mrs. 
Ashton to forward to you my candid 
opinion of the character, disposition, and 
conduct of my late pupil. Miss Caroline 
Ashton ; and I can do this with the most 
heartfelt pleasure, inasmuch as my im.- 



94 THE student's wife. 

pression of the young lady is a decidedly 
favourable one, and one founded on a ten 
years' intimate acquaintance. 

" I should mention, in the first place, that 
Miss Ashton possesses a very extraordi- 
nary development of the organ of ' order.' 
This, combined vnth a natural delicacy of 
taste and refinement of feeling, produces 
a most harmonious effect, which may be 
seen shining through her whole character 
and conduct. Next to order, I am of opi- 
nion that the organ of 'concentrativeness' 
is the most largely developed ; and this 
shows itself chiefly in a very becoming 
contempt for the trivialities of life, and a 
constant desire, on Miss Ashton' s part, to 
expend her really remarkable energies on 
some one distinct and worthy object. 

* Imagination,' ' wonder,' ' self-esteem,' and 

* love of approbation,' may, I believe, be 
ranked as next in succession. * Veneration' 
and ' benevolence' are both moderately de- 
veloped ; as, also, the organs of ' form,' 
' harmony,' &c., Slq* 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 95 

'' 'My Toung friend has not, I rejoice to 
say, neglected the advantages bestowed 
on her by a lengthened sojourn under my 
roof, of cultivating, to a very fair extent, 
the various talents with which nature has 
gifted her; and I flatter myself that, 
wheresoever placed, my esteemed pupil 
will be found a charming companion, a 
consistent friend, and, in all respects, a 
valuable member of society. 

" I have the honour to remain, 
" Madam, 
'^ Your obedient servant, 

" Lucy Priscilla Lumley." 

Mrs. Forrest laid aside both these letters 
with a very quiet smile, which was soon 
exchanged for a sigh, as she summoned 
the half-bewildered Susan to another con- 
sultation respecting Miss Ashton's rooms, 
and issued yet more peremptory orders 
than she had hitherto given for the careful 
arrangement of every article of fui*niture, 



96 THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 

and the addition of various elegant kniek 
knacks, which had been put away and 
almost forgotten since Mr. Porrest's death. 

In the evening came Theresa, and, in 
answer to her numberless and amusing 
conjectures as to what Caroline Ashton 
would be like, her half-wearied friend put 
the schoolmistress's letter into her hands, 
saying, as she did so, — "Now read that, 
my dear, and then draw me a portrait of 
my future guest." 

Theresa was some little time in getting 
through Mrs. Lumley's letter; and when 
this feat was accomplished, she looked 
up with a half-bewildered, half-reflective 
smile, and said, slowly — 

" I am very much afraid my rejoicing 
on Miss Ashton's account has been rather 
premature. Don't you fancy, from this 
singularly expressed description of her, 
that she will be somewhat stiff and unap- 
proachable ?" 

" I can fancy nothing, my dear," replied 
Mrs. Eorrest ; " and I want your imagina- 



97 



tion to supply the deficiencies of mine, 
since we have no one at hand to translate 
Mrs. Liimley's letter into plain, everyday 
English. Come, Theresa, let me have a 
fair, impartial portrait of Miss Caroline 
Ashton." 

" Just as she appears to me ?" 

''Of coiu'se. I am fully prepared for 
the worst." 

Theresa glanced again over the letter 
she had recently read ; and then, looking 
up smilingly at her companion, who 
appeared billing to be amused by her 
merry little fiiend, began her descriptive 
portrait : — 

" In person, she is tall and straight — 
so straight, I feel persuaded, that she will 
scarcely be able to bend low enou2:h to see 
an insicrnificant little beino? like myself. 
Her features are fine, but inclining to 
sharpness, particularly the eyes, which 
detect every imperfection at a first glance. 
She has a low, measured voice, and talks 
of arts and sciences as we poor, common- 

VOL. I. F 



98 THE student's wife. 

place mortals talk of flowers and country 
gossip. Pinally, dear Mrs. Eorrest, she 
dresses with an admirable taste and neat- 
ness ; and is always ready to be looked at 
and admired from eight in the morning till 
twelve at night." 

"A very pretty picture, Theresa; but 
it would still bear more filling up. I 
will take it, however, just as it is, for the 
present, and perhaps, in examining it 
often, I shall in some measure prepare 
myself for the original. But now, my 
dear, tell me about your Mr. Singleton, 
for I heard this morning, through Susan, 
that he had arrived." 

'' But I have not yet seen him." 

"Indeed! where have you been, then, 
aU day ?" 

*'At home; but papa and his pupil 
rode over to Oxendean, and did not come 
back to dinner. Mamma saw him for a 
few minutes, and she says he is very plain 
and very silent." 

" So much the better," was Mrs. Tor- 



THE student's WIFE. 99 

rest's observation; and Theresa, though, 
she looked up suddenly, did not ask why 
her friend thought so, or make any further 
remarks on the subject. 

After tea they walked about the garden, 
spoke a little more of Miss Asliton, and a 
little more of Mr. Singleton; then The- 
resa, fancying a storm was coming on, 
went to fetch her bonnet, and declared she 
must not stay a moment longer." 

" Well, go, my dear child, if it must be 
so," said Mrs. Eorrest, sadly ; " but I 
confess I am unwilling to part with you 
to-night, Theresa. Henceforth om' little 
quiet evenings will entirely change their 
character ; and if you come to me at all, 
it will not be as now — to enliven the soli- 
tary hours of a poor nervous recluse — ^but 
to learn worldly wisdom from one whose 
arrival, I franldy own, I look forward to 
with ever-increasing dread." 

Theresa took her companion's hand and 
kissed it fondly, while she answered, 
eagerly— 

F 2 



100 THE student's WIEE. 

" Oh ! my dear Mrs. Eorrest, after all 
your goodness, how can you suppose, for 
one instant, that any society could be so 
precious to me as your own ?" 

An affectionate, yet very mournful 
smile was the only reply to this ; and for 
a few minutes they walked side by side in 
silence, admiring the effect of the rich sun- 
set upon the gothic windows of the cottage, 
and on the closing flowers, and on the 
leaves of a beautiful silver birch that had 
been left standing, with a few other grace- 
ful trees, at the entrance of the little 
garden. 

"Is it not lovely?" said Theresa at 
length, as she stooped to gather an even- 
ing primrose, whose delicious perfume had 
long been tempting her to the theft. 
'^ Surely there is no place like the country, 
and no hour in all the day so sweet as 
this!" 

"It must possess a magic, indeed, to 
cause a little silly gM, such as Theresa 
Berrington, to sentimentalize in this man- 



101 



ner," exclaimed a voice which bore no 
resemblance to that of Mrs. Forrest ; and 
starting up hastily, Theresa saw — standing 
behind her — her father and a vouns? man, 
who she, of course, knew instantly must 
be Mr. Singleton. 

'' Come," said the former, cheerfully, 
and bending to kiss his daughter's crim- 
son cheek, " I am quite sure Mrs. Forrest 
must haye had enousrh of you by this time ; 
and ' mamma' wants you to take her place 
at the supper table, as she has gone to bed 
with a headache. This gentleman, as you 
will haye surmised, is our new guest and 
friend, Mr. Singleton: Singleton" — (tui'n- 
ing to the silent and abstracted-looking 
figure at his side) — "this is my little 
girl, and her name is Theresa. Now, I 
appeal to Mrs. Forrest to applaud my 
simple and certainly novel form of intro- 
duction." 

Mrs. Forrest made a suitable reply; 
and then tmniing to the yoimg man, 
whose silence she attributed to an excess 



102 THE student's WIFE. 

of timidity, said, in her kind, soft tones, 
"You do not resemble your mother, 
Mr. Singleton. She was an old school- 
fellow of mine." 

The stranger raised his head abruptly, 
pushed back a quantity of long, but not 
waving, hair from his forehead, and re- 
plied, somewhat absently — 

"Was it so, indeed!" Then looking 
round eagerly on the fair, tranquil scene, 
his dark and rather deep- set eyes lighted 
up with wonderful emotion, and, drawing 
in his breath, he said, in quite an under 
tone, and as if altogether unconscious of 
the presence of strangers — 

" This is, indeed, a beauty that may be 
felt — this is a spot in which the most 
restless might find repose." 

" It is, certainly, uncommonly pretty," 
replied the cheerful rector, in his plain, 
unsentimental manner; and I have no 
doubt, if you contrive to make yourself 
very agreeable, our fair and charming 
neighbour will let you come and take a 



THE student's WIFE. 103 

peep at her little paradise again. Eut it's 
getting late now, young people; and in 
spite of yonder glomng sunset, I suspect 
we shall have a storm by and bye. Come, 
make your adieux, Theresa, and let us be 
going." 

The latter immediately obeyed ; but be- 
fore the party could reach the garden gate 
a few thunder drops had fallen, and Mrs. 
Eorrest wanted them to turn back and 
remain in the cottage till it was over. 

"No, no!" said the rector, "there is 
no occasion for that. I have got my 
umbrella ; and, if you can lend us another, 
we shall do remarkably well. Here, Sin- 
gleton" — as, on a summons from Mrs. 
Porrest, Susan brought one out — " this 
will shelter you and my little girl ; so now, 
once more, we vnM march forN^ard." 

Mrs. Porrest stood long enough at the 
gate to perceive that Dr. Berrington's 
pupil held the umbrella very awkwardly, 
and neglected to offer his arm to the 
young lady who had been placed under his 



104 THE student's WIFE. 

charge. But as the rain drove her into the 
house before the pedestrians had reached 
the bottom of the lane, she trusted he would 
behave more rationally as they proceeded 
on their way. 

The next morning, however, all doubts 
on the subject were put to flight by the 
following note from Theresa, which was 
concealed amongst a basket of fruit she 
sent over, at an early hour, to her friend. 

" Dear Mrs. Porrest, — 

"I hope, from my very heart, 
your guest will prove more agreeable and 
less unlike a sane human being than oiir's. 
He is a perfect bear. Only think of his 
never offering me his arm last night, and 
letting me get quite wet through. Then, 
at supper time, filling my plate of cherry 
tart with salt ; and, when I laughed 
heartily at this — as, of course, I could not 
help doing — laying down his own knife and 
fork, and staring at me as if I were a frac- 
tion of a puppet show, or anything else 



THE student's WIFE. 105 

that he was quite privileged to look at, 
while it was his sovereign pleasure to do so. 
He is wonderfully plain, too ; is he not ? 
But tliis would he notliing, if he were less 
of a savage. I do hope papa will he more 
fortunate with the next he gets. 

*' In haste, 

" Ever your own, 

" Theresa." 



f3 



CHAPTER IX. 

The first two clays of the following week 
passed over and brought no news of Caro- 
line Ashton. 

Mrs. Porrest was in a state of distressing 
nervousness and excitement : she wished 
from her very heart that she had never un- 
dertaken such a charge at all, railed at her 
own weakness, and generally ended by 
folding her trembling hands, and wonder- 
ing what in nature she should do with the 
young lady, when she was actually beneath 
her roof. Theresa Berrington's imaginary 
portrait had become the bugbear of her 
imagination; and, even in her dreams, 
the gentle widow saw the tall, straight, 
unbending figure ever at her side; and 
beheld eyes of cold but piercing brilliancy 
fixed upon her, mth an expression that 



THE student's WIFE. 107 

said always — " Amuse me — exert yourself 
— give up all thoughts of quiet and repose, 
and invent amusement for the guest you 
have invited." 

Once or t^^ce poor Mrs. Porrest remem- 
bered, T^'ith a sensation of relief, the plan 
of Caroline's mother, to bring about a 
match between her dau^^hter and Law- 
rence Singleton; but a moment's reflection 
deprived her of this false consolation ; for 
even could she have brought herself to 
assist in any matrimonial projects, she 
believed, from the very little she liad seen 
or heard of the gentleman, that he was 
about the last person in the world likely 
to fall a \actim to female charms, or to be 
deluded by female snares, whereof the 
subjugation of his own heart was the 
object. 

The third evening had now arrived ; and, 
since Theresa's last visit, Mrs. Forrest had 
seen none of the party from the rectorv^ ; 
but she had resolved, if the former did not 
make her appearance this evening, to call 



108 THE student's WIFE. 

on Mrs. Berrington, and beg her to spare 
her daughter for a few days, till Caroline 
Ashton's first arrival had been, in some 
degree, got over. 

This visit to the rectory was a great 
undertaking for Mrs. Eorrest, who rarely 
went beyond her own garden, except to 
reach the village church on Sundays ; 
nevertheless, as Theresa did not come, she 
carried her project into execution, and 
was welcomed with sincere cordiality by 
the whole family. 

They had not long sat down to tea, and 
their guest was warmly pressed to join 
them at this social meal. Indeed, the 
hospitable rector would hear of no excuse ; 
and a few minutes beheld the solitary 
widow divested of her walking apparel, 
and bearing a part in the animated and 
cheerful conversation that nearly always 
enlivened the rectory tea table, whether 
few or many surrounded it. 

In the present case, the rector and his 
wife were the chief talkers ; Mrs. Porrest 



THE student's WIFE. 109 

generally preferring the oftimes arduous 
part of listener ; and Theresa, being com- 
pletely engrossed with her occupation of 
cutting bread and butter, of which Law- 
rence Singleton — who never opened his lips 
to anybody — appeared to be consuming a 
very immoderate portion. 

He sat with his back to the windoAv, his 
rather shaggy head supported on one arm, 
his figure bent most ungracefully over the 
table, and his right hand employed inces- 
santly in conveying to his mouth the deli- 
cate slices of bread and butter, which The- 
resa, with admu^able patience, continued 
to lay, one after another, on his plate. 

" Come, Tessie, my dear," said lier 
father at length, as a pause in the con- 
versation ensued, " get your ovra tea now ; 
and when our friend Singleton wants any 
more bread, he can help himself." 

" Oh ! I beg yom* pardon," exclaimed 
the yoimg man, rousing himself with an 
apparent effort, and pushing his plate 
away. " I had quite forgotten that I was 



110 THE student's WIFE. 

troubling Miss Berrington. Pray, let me 
help myself for the future." 

Theresa looked at Mrs. Porrest, blushed 
a little, and then sat down just opposite to 
Mr. Singleton, and where a few soft rays 
of the rapidly sinking sun fell through the 
quaintly latticed window upon her chest- 
nut hair and changed its hue to gold. In 
the room hung an old, exquisite painting 
of the Madonna, which the rector's fair 
young daughter had often been said to 
resemble ; but never, perhaps, had Theresa 
looked so like it as at this moment, with 
her pure eyes veiled by their long, droop- 
ing lashes, and the glory of the evening 
sunbeam resting on her youthful and 
classic head. 

" Surely," thought Mrs. Porrest, as, 
with warm admiration, she contemplated 
her favourite, " no man can see, unmoved, 
such beauty and such innocence as that !" 
And she glanced stealthily at Lawrence 
Singleton, to judge how he was affected 
by it. 



THE student's WIPE. Ill 

No change in liis attitude, no apparent 
consciousness that there was anything in 
the apartment worthy of recalling him 
from the land of visions, into which he had 
e^ddently strayed. 

A few days ago and there was nothing 
Mrs. Porrest so much desbed as that the 
rector's pupil should think nothing of her 
dear Theresa — should leave her simple, 
unpolluted heart as free from dreams of 
vanity and love as it had been before he 
came. 

Now she positively felt quite angry and 
indignant with this same pupil, because he 
failed to appreciate that marvellous loveli- 
ness which none, except the proud Lilla 
Ashton, had hitherto disputed. 

Urged by this rather inconsistent feel- 
ing, the widow exclaimed, abruptly — '' Are 
you anything of an artist, Mr. Singleton ? 
Your mother, I remember, had quite a 
remarkable talent for drawing." 

"I can appreciate, but I cannot exe- 
cute," he replied, with greater promptitude 
than usual. 



112 THE student's WIFE. 

"What do you think, then, of that 
Madonna," continued his questioner, de- 
termined to find out, if possible, of what 
materials this singular being was com- 
posed. 

"Beautiful, very beautiful," he an- 
swered, raising his eyes to the exquisite 
painting, and contemplating it earnestly 
for a few minutes; then, following Mrs. 
Porrest's glance towards Theresa, he 
started and smiled quietly to himself, 
repeating, in a lower and more thoughtful 
tone — " A perfect masterpiece, — worthy of 
the Inimitable Artist." 

" Ah ! we are not quite sure who painted 
it," said the unconscious rector, still gazing 
with much satisfaction at his rare picture. 
And when Mrs. Porrest tiu^ned to the 
young man to see whether he intended to 
explain his last observation, he had re- 
sumed his old attitude, and was once more 
wholly unmindful of all that was passing 
around him. 

As soon as the tea equipage had been 



THE STrDENT's WIFE. 113 

removed, Mrs. Forrest hastened to prefer 
her request concerning Theresa ; and, after 
some hesitation on the mother's part, it 
was conceded that she should go to the 
cottage the following morning, which 
would be Thursday, and remain until the 
Saturday nis^ht. 

" I cannot spare her for a longer period," 
said Mrs. Berrington, taking her daughter's 
hand and pressing it affectionately, while 
she gazed with earnest fondness at the 
sweet, happy face, raised so confidingly to 
her own. '' Tessie and I have never been 
parted for a single day, at present, and to 
none but yourself, Mrs. Eorrest, would I 
confide my little ghl even now." 

The T^idow expressed her appreciation 
of the favour to be conferred on her, and 
then rose to say good bye, as it was already 
much later than she was in the habit of 
being out. 

" But we are not quite such goths, my 
dearest lady," exclaimed the rector, gal- 
lantly, "as to suffer you to walk home 



114 THE student's WIFE. 

unprotected. I would, myself, entreat the 
honour of becoming your escort, were I 
not certain that Mr. Singleton would ever 
after owe me a grudge for wresting such a 
privilege from him ; and I am ready to 
admit that in these delicate cases, youth 
ought to take the precedence of age." 

At the mention of his name, Lawrence 
Singleton had looked up quickly ; and, as 
soon as he comprehended what was re- 
quired of him, he left his seat without a 
word, and went in search of his hat and 
gloves. 

Mrs. Porrest's first impulse was to 
refuse this involuntary attendance ; but a 
moment's reflection decided her on not 
doing so ; and, after a cordial good night 
to the rector's family, she set forth with 
her young protector, hoping, during their 
tete-a-tete walk, to discover something 
more of his principles and opinions than 
he appeared disposed to reveal, gratuitously, 
to any of his new acquaintances. 

But the widow was such an exceedingly 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 115 

diffident and timid person herself, that she 
felt terrihly puzzled in what way to hegin 
the task of drawing out her silent com- 
panion ; and it is more than prohahle that, 
in spite of her resolution, they would have 
reached Theresa Cottage without exchang- 
ing a syllable, had not the sudden appear- 
ance of the moon, behind a group of dark 
pine trees, arrested either the artist eye, 
or the poet heart of Lawrence Smgleton, 
and caused him to exclaim — as he stopped 
abruptly, and stood, with folded arms, 
gazing on the scene — 

" I like that — it does me good. It is 
admirable ; full of beauty and harmony." 

"You appear to be an enthusiastic 
admirer of natm'e," said Mrs. Porrest, 
delighted with this favourable opening. 
'' Have you lived much in the country ?" 

" Never before," he replied, walking on 
slowly, but with his head still tm-ned in 
the direction of the dark trees, on which 
the moon was shining. 

''Where, then, did yom^ family reside 
previous to — to — ." Mrs. Porrest paused. 



116 THE student's WIFE. 

" To our change of fortune ?" he said, 
promptly. " Oh ! we lived always in Lon- 
don, in a dingy, sunless street, where my 
mother toiled at household drudgery till 
her cheek grew white and thin, and my 
father came home from his ill-paid lahours, 
looking each day more worn and heart-sick 
than the last." 

"And you — what were your pursuits 
during this time ?" asked Mrs. Porrest, 
becoming greatly interested. 

" I worked too — worked at law, which 
I hated with no common hatred ; hut my 
father was a lawyer, and he had no interest 
or money to educate me for any other pro- 
fession." 

'' How deeply you must all have rejoiced 
at the sudden change ! Was not your mo- 
ther powerfully affected when the news 
arrived ?" 

Lawrence seemed to shudder. " Ah ! do 
not ask me to recall that hour," he said 
quickly. " The scenes whereof human 
emotions form the chief elements, should 



THE student's WIFE. 117 

be witnessed by the Almighty Artist alone. 
Eut if YOU care to hear, I ^vill tell you 
what I did when the first overpowering 
emotion had subsided." 

" Do," replied Mrs. Eorrest, in a low 
voice, full of sympathy. 

"I had heard the news," he continued, 
" as we sometimes hear things in our 
dreams — ^dth a stransre consciousness of 
their reality, and yet a mysterious per- 
suasion that we must awake to find them 
a delusion. But the dull details of the 
case which mv father, as a lawver, entered 
upon, brought, by degrees, full con^-iction 
to my mind ; and then I went forth, A\ith 
a beating heart, from our close and nar- 
row street, to some green fresh fields I 
knew of, where I thought I might be 
alone. But it was a holiday; and hun- 
dreds of gaily dressed people, all laughing 
and talking loudly, were there before me ; 
and I felt that bm-ning tMrst for sohtude, 
which demands immediate relief at the 
risk of life or reason. So, I wandered on 



118 THE student's WIFE. 

and on, through lanes and meadows, and 
down scarcely trodden roads, till I came 
after hours of fatigue, to a thick, lonely 
wood, such as I had often and often dreamt 
of being in. Here I stayed my progress ; 
and, choosing a high, shadowy tree, I 
threw myself beneath it, and lay, during 
the long, quiet hom^s of that summer after- 
noon, gazing up at the blue sky and float- 
ing clouds, and listening to the wild carol 
of the birds that rang, like strange, sweet 
music, in the fragrant air around me. I 
do not know whether I was happy. I 
believe happiness must be something more 
tangible and real; but, I know that I 
enjoyed intensely, and for the first time 
since mental sensation had replaced the 
animal pleasures and impressions of early 
childhood. It was not the acquisition of 
wealth or station that I prized — not the 
prospect of emerging from the obscurity 
that had hitherto enshrouded me ; — it was 
liberty — liberty of thought and action — 
liberty to choose my own pursuits, my 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 119 

owTi recreations — liberty to throw aside for 
ever the studies my very soul abhorred — 
liberty to lie long hours, as I was lying 
then, listening to nature's melodies, and 
gazing up at God's bright and glorious 
heavens, whose mysteries I might now 
dream of at my will." 

Here Lawrence Singleton paused, for 
they were near IMrs. Forrest's gate; but 
the latter, whose interest in this strange 
young man had been thoroughly awakened, 
said, eagerly — 

" And since then ? A^Hiat has occurred 
since then, Mr. Singleton ? 

His momentary enthusiasm was quite 
gone; the very sound of liis voice was 
changed ; and he replied, somewhat 
wearily — 

" Oh ! that is nearly a year ago ; and 
my mother could not bear me to leave her 
diuing the period of her first initiation 
into fasliionable life." Tliis was said with 
a tincture of satire, the attentive listener 
fancied. '' But I still hate London, 



120 THE student's WIFE. 

changed as its aspect has become to us ; 
and, my father joining his persuasions to 
mine, permission was at length granted 
for me to come and study in the country." 

They stood, now, at the gate ; but Mrs. 
Porrest had yet one more question to ask. 

" You know Mrs. Ashton," she said, 
hurriedly, " the mother of the young lady 
I am expecting ? "Wliat do you think of 
her ?" 

" She appeared to me to be the same as 
the other fine lady friends I saw at my 
mother's house. I should not recognize 
her from any of the rest, if they were al 
brought this minute before me." 

" Did she never talk to you of Caroline, 
her daughter ?" 

" If she did, I have forgotten it. But 
it is certain that I do forget many things 
lately. They tell me, at home, that I am 
always dreaming ; and I think myself, 
sometimes — paradoxical as it appears — 
that I shall not awake entirely till I fall 
asleep for ever." 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 121 

"You must come and see me, Mr. Sin- 
gleton," said Mrs. Forrest, with much 
more warmth of manner than she was in 
the hahit of testifying to any save Theresa. 
'^ Eor your own, now, as well as for your 
mother's sake, I shall always welcome you 
gladly." 

" Thank you," replied the young man, 
with a hrusquerie rather inconsistent T\'ith 
the friendly confidences he had been 
making. And just touching the hand that 
his companion frankly extended to him, 
he bowed with an absent air, and departed. 

Mrs. Forrest had not time at present to 
meditate on what had passed between her- 
self and her old schoolfellow's son; for, in 
answer to her quiet ring at the garden 
bell, Susan rushed breathlessly down the 
path, exclaiming, — " Oh, ma'am. Miss 
Ashton has arrived !" 



VOL. I. G 



CHAPTER X. 



If it had been — " Oh ! ma'am, your death 
warrant is in the house," Mrs. Porrest 
could scarcely have exhibited a greater 
degree of agitation, or felt more reluctance 
to advance a step beyond the exact spot 
where she had received the news. All her 
morbid dread of this formidable young 
lady returned suddenly with overwhelm- 
ing power, and sat like a dreary incubus 
upon her shrinking heart. Susan waited 
a few seconds in respectful silence for her 
mistress to speak; but finding that the 
latter showed no disposition to do so, the 
girl, nothing loth to play the enviable part 
of news -bearer, continued, eagerly — 

*' She has been here these two hours, 
ma'am. A post chaise brought her, quite 
alone, too, from Oxendean. I have done 



THE STUDENT S WIEE. 123 

mv best to make the voimg lady comfort- 
able ; but she seems rather lonesome like, 
and as if she did not care much for talkbio^. 
You T^-ill find her, now, ma'am, in the 
front parlour ; but as long as it was light 
she walked about the garden, and looked 
at the flowers, I thought, as if she loved 
them almost as much as Miss Theresa and 
YOU, ma'am." 

" Very well," Susan, replied her mistress 
at length, moving slowly up the path ; ^' I 
must sro to Miss Ashton at once. Of 
course, you offered her some refreshment 
on her arrival ?" 

" O yes, ma'am ; and I persuaded her to 
take a cup of tea, poor thing ! for she 
seemed quite worn out ; and I have got a 
nice little chicken ready for supper — ^^y- 
haps Miss Ashton may fancy a bit, before 
she goes to bed." 

"You have done quite right, Susan. 
Now, bring in the candles, and then see 
about supper immediately.,' 

As Mrs. Forrest gave this order she 

G 2 



124 THE student's WIEE. 

opened the parlour door, and walked, with 
anything but a firm step, into the room. 

Caroline Ashton was sitting in a low, 
easy chair by the window, through which 
the moon shone brightly, and revealed, 
with perfect distinctness, the outKnes of 
her form and face ; but Mrs. Porrest had 
only time to take a very casual glance ere 
the young lady rose from her seat, and 
advancing, with extended hand, said, in a 
low and singularly quiet tone — 

" Mrs. Porrest, I presume ?" 

The widow pressed, with sincere warmth, 
the offered hand of her guest, while she 
murmured a few words of courteous wel- 
come, and assurances of her desire to ren- 
der Miss Ashton' s new abode in every way 
agreeable to her. 

"My mother did not exaggerate its 
beauties, at any rate," Caroline said, in 
reply to this; and then she remained 
silent, as if aware that it was the part of 
her hostess to lead the conversation, or 
ignorant of the subjects that would be 
most acceptable to her companion. 



THE student's WIFE. 125 

Por the moment, Mrs. Porrest was re- 
lieved by the entrance of Susan ; and by 
the time they were asrain alone — with the 
candles on the table — she had remembered 
that it was her duty to inquire concerning 
Miss Ashton's journey and her mother's 
intended voyage, and that these subjects 
would, probably, occupy them until supper 
was brought in. 

Her expectations were not disappointed ; 
for although Caroline did not aj)pear to be 
a great talker, she answered every question 
Avith a cheerful readiness that evinced a 
wish to promote the conversation, as well 
as a desire to render herself agreeable to 
the lady under whose roof she had come to 
reside. 

But Mrs. Forrest, accustomed to the 
caressing and endearing manners of The- 
resa Berrington, could not help thinking 
her guest exceedingly cold and precise ; 
and although her outward aspect was de- 
cidedly an improvement on Theresa's por- 
trait, there was something in her way of 



126 THE student's wife. 

speaking, in her faultless style of dress — 
simple though it was — and in the appar- 
ent absence of all impulsive feeling, that 
seemed to tally most unpleasantly with 
that fancy sketch which, during the last 
few days, had haunted poor Mrs. Porrest 
so perseveringly. 

Prejudices are bad things at all times ; 
and, when they take possession of a mind, 
weakened by solitude and mental suffering, 
they are particularly tenacious of their 
dominion, and generally require a very 
long notice ere they give up their cherished 
quarters. 

Caroline Ashton little dreamt of the 
unfavourable opinion that had been con- 
ceived of her, or of the many heartaches 
her anticipated arrival had occasioned, or 
it is probable that even that admirable 
self-possession and equanimity which Mrs. 
Eorrest, but for her irrational prejudices, 
must have admired, would have melted 
into air long before that first evening 
was over, and caused the almost desolate 



THE STrDENT'S WIFE. 127 

girl to hide her pale face and weep, again, 
as bitter tears as she had shed on parting 
with the dear friends who had, hitherto, 
been life, and hope, and sunshine to her. 
Eut, happily, the veil was on ; and beneath 
it, Caroline only saw a gentle kindness, 
less cordial, perhaps, than she had ex- 
pected, and a most attentive courtesy, 
with which she could find no fault. 

The tempting supper— which Susan had 
so thoughtfully prepared — was eaten ^ith 
little appetite by eitlier of the ladies ; and, 
at its conclusion, Mrs. Forrest su^^o^ested 
that her young guest must be fatigued, 
and probably ready to go to bed. To this 
Caroline made no objection ; and, shaking 
hands in a quiet, friendly manner, they 
parted for the night. 

The \^idow only fell asleep towards 
morning; and when she awoke, it was 
some time past her usual hour for rising ; 
and she had a thousand fears immediately 
about Miss Ashton's comforts, and made 
herself positively wretched at the idea that 



128 THE student's wife. 

she mighi have waited for her breakfast, 
or been at a loss for amusement, or walked 
on the damp grass in the garden, or done 
any other possible or impossible thing, 
which it was her duty, as a hostess, to 
have prevented. 

" La, ma'am," said Susan, as her mis- 
tress, in a rapid manner, expressed some 
of these apprehensions to her, "you'll be 
worrying yourself into a fever, if you go 
on in this way. Miss Ashton is old 
enough — and I am sure she looks wise 
enough — to take care of herself. When I 
went to ask her if she would have some 
hot water about seven o'clock, she was 
reading very comfortably in bed, and de- 
sired me to let her know when you began 
to dress. I thought she looked pale, and 
a little bit downhearted, poor thing ! So, 
I took her up a cup of tea, and she thanked 
me as though I'd put a crown upon her 
head. To my thinking, she's a very like- 
able young lady." 

Mrs. Eorrest did not reply to this ; but 



THE STrDENT's WIFE. 129 

she made all possible haste to dress herself, 
and then, having heard her guest go down 
before her, descended to the breakfast 
parlour, and found Caroline with a book in 
her hand, but looking decidedly ill, and 
out of spirits. 

" I am afraid you have not slept well, 
my dear," said the T\'idow, with very 
genuine anxiety ; " what a pity I did not 
think of sending up your breakfast to you. 
You have a bad headache, I am sure." 

" Not very bad," said Caroline, trying 
to smile cheerfully ; "I shall be better by 
and bye. Yom* servant was kind enough 
to bring me some tea, and that refreshed 
me srreatlv. Can I be of anv use to vou 
at the breakfast table, Mrs. Forrest r" 

This offer Avas gratefully declined ; and, 
as Caroline did not press it, the ^^idow 
was about to take her usual place, when a 
sharp ring at the bell was followed by the 
abrupt entrance of Theresa Berrington, 
laden, as usual, with fruit and flowers, and 
her sweet face glowing with health and 
happiness. g 3 



130 THE student's wife> 

" Dearest Mrs. Porrest, I am so glad to 
come to you," she exclaimed, on opening 
the door ; but pausing at once on seeing 
Caroline, she blushed with her accustomed 
shyness, and stood waiting for an intro- 
duction. 

This was soon got over ; and then, not 
discovering anything very terrible in Miss 
Ashton's appearance, the new comer re- 
peated her expressions of delight in being 
permitted to visit her dear Mrs. Porrest, 
and playfully forced the latter from her 
seat, and insisted on making breakfast. 

Eor awhile the conversation was sus- 
tained with considerable animation between 
the widow and her little favourite — the 
chief subject being Lawrence Singleton. 
And, during this time, Caroline Ashton 
employed herself in gazing wonderingly 
at the lovely countenance of Theresa 
Berrington, and marvelling whether it was 
that rare fascination of form and face, or 
some mysterious foreshadowing of the 
future, that led her to feel, at once, such 



THE student's WIFE. 131 

a powerful and unaccountable interest in 
the young stranger, whose very name she 
had never heard till now. 

Absorbed in her own reflections, she 
had paid no attention to the subject under 
discussion, and it was Mrs. Forrest who 
roused her suddenly, by saying — 

'' I believe the gentleman of whom we 
are speaking is not altogether unkno^vn to 
you. Miss Ashton; at least, you must 
have heard frequently of him from your 
mother ?" 

"I did not catch the name," replied 
Caroline, with immediate attention. 

"Lawrence Singleton," said Theresa, 
eagerly, longing to make a favourable im- 
pression on Miss Ashton. '' He has just 
come down from London to study the 
classics with papa ; and you cannot fancy 
what an oddity he is." 

Theresa would have gone on, for good- 
ness knows how long, T\ith her foolish 
gossip, had she not been startled and 
arrested by Caroline's sudden and remark- 



132 THE student's wife. 

able increase of colour, combined with an 
expression of unmistakeable astonisliment 
and annoyance. 

''Lawrence Singleton!" exclaimed the 
latter, at length. " Do you mean the son 
of Sir James Singleton, who has recently 
succeeded to the baronetcy?" 

"The same," replied Mrs. Porrest; and 
then pitying, and, in some measure, 
guessing at the cause of her guest's con- 
fusion, she told Theresa that her services 
were no longer required at the breakfast 
table, and advised her to go and put away 
her shawl and bonnet in the bedroom. 

Caroline took prompt advantage of 
being alone with her hostess to say, in 
rather an agitated voice — 

'' Mrs. Porrest, will you candidly answer 
me one question, and forgive its apparent 
want of delicacy ?" 

" Certainly, my dear, if I can." (Mrs. 
Porrest devoutly wished herself at the very 
bottom of the sea, aud thought Caroline 
more fo-rmidable than ever.) 



THE student's wipe. 133 

"Then, did you, diu^ing my mother's 
visit to you, express a desire for a young 
companion ; in short, did the proposal of 
my coming here emanate from you /" 

It was now the widow's turn to colour 
painfully, and to struggle between her 
strict conscientiousness and her acute 
dread of wounding Caroline, and, probably, 
of giving the lie to some representation of 
Mrs. Ashton's. But Caroline, with burn- 
ing cheek and tightly compressed lips, sat 
patiently waiting for an answer; and in 
the end her companion was obliged to 
say— 

" My dear Miss Ashton, the inference to 
be dra^^Ti from yoiu^ question is so very 
obvious, that I am most reluctant to 
acknowledge that I was not the originator 
of the scheme which has given me the 
pleasure of your society. But the affair 
was so quickly arranged, that it is pos- 
sible" — she dared not ^^j prohahle — "that 
your mother may have forgotten how it 
began. After all, it is of little conse- 



134i THE student's wife. 

quence, if, now you are here, I can suc- 
ceed in making you comfortable." 

" Mrs. Porrest," replied Caroline, with 
slow and remarkable distinctness of utter- 
ance, " you have, probably, been misled, as 
well as myself; and, therefore, I think it 
right to tell you, that my mother and 
Lady Singleton — who is a well meaning, 
but lamentably weak woman, guided en- 
tirely by those about her, and by mamma 
especially — that these two are desirous 
of makins: a match between Lawrence 
and myself. Perhaps, when you know 
me better, you will understand how pecu- 
liarly hateful all this sort of thing is to 
me. At present, I can only assure you 
that, so far from entering into their man- 
oeuverings, I refused Lady Singleton's 
pressing invitation to reside with her on 
this account ; that I entreated mamma to 
let me come into the country for the same 
reason ; and, finally, that I have never seen 
the young man ; and, if it can possibly be 
avoided, I never will,'" 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 135 

Poor, quiet, pea€e-loviiig, nervous !Mrs. 
Forrest ! Here was an agreeable position 
of affairs ! here was a delightful prospect 
for the time to come ! Por a few seconds 
after Caroline had ceased to speak, she sat 
looking at her in quite an amusing per- 
plexity, not knowing the least in the 
world what she ought to say or what to 
leave unsaid. 

Miss Ashton appeared to comprehend 
these feelings, for she held out her hand 
suddenly toward her hostess, and resumed, 
T\ith a most agreeable smile — 

" But we need not make ourselves un- 
happy because mamma and her friend 
form extravagant and ridiculous plans. I 
was only anxious to exonerate myself from 
any suspicions you might have formed, 
and to enlist you on my side. Now that 
both these objects are accomplished, we 
may dismiss the detestable subject for 
ever." 

'' Certainly, my dear;" said Mrs. Forrest, 
with a sigh that would not be restrained. 



136 THE student's wife. 

" And now we may have Theresa in again, 
I think.'' 

"One moment, Mrs. Porrest. Did 
mamma see Miss Berrington while she 
was here?" 

'' Yes, for a few minutes." 
• '' And what did she think of her ?" 

" Not much, I fancy ; at least, I con- 
sidered her admiration wonderfully cold : 
but, then, I have, perhaps, too exalted 
an opinion of Theresa's attractions." 

" You cannot have. She is the loveliest 
person I ever saw ; and mamma may find, 
to her cost, that Elderton has a fairer 
bride for the future owner of Burnham 
Park, than the one she so presumptuously 
destines for him. This Lawrence must 
be less than mortal, if he can see that 
beautiful young creature daily without 
loving her." 

Mrs. Porrest was prevented making a 
reply by the entrance of the "beautiful 
young creature" in question; and soon 
after the two girls went out into the 



THE student's avife. 137 

garden together, and left their gentle 
hostess to her very uncomfortable medita- 
tions concerning what she had just heard, 
and her renewed regrets at having con- 
sented to be made the dupe of the worldly 
and ambitious Lilla Ashton. 



CHAPTER XI. 



At a later hour of the same day, Caroline's 
headache being better, it was proposed that 
Theresa should introduce her to one of the 
many beautiful walks with which the neigh- 
bourhood abounded, while Mrs. Porrest, 
who was really quite unwell, from the 
unusual excitement she had undergone, 
endeavoured to get a little quiet sleep. 

jPor this purpose she placed herself upon 
the drawing-room sofa, drew down the 
blinds, and closing her aching eyelids, 
made a desperate effort to forget for a 
season the many annoyances which beset 
her path, and from which she could see no 
present prospect of emancipation. 

Alas ! poor Mrs. Porrest — her day of rest 
had been brief indeed ; and if her bruised 
heart had cherished hopes of building up 



THE student's WIFE. 139 

a tabernacle of peace in this vale of tears, 
how bitterly must it have mourned the 
defeat of these flattering anticipations ! 
how painfully it must have yearned for 
that portion beside the still waters, which 
seemed to flee farther and farther the more 
earnestly it was pursued ! 

Peace — blessed, heavenly peace ! why 
might it not be hers ? The blue skies, the 
summer air, the very insects that crawled 
lazily in the sunshine, or flew, with their 
pleasant, humming sound, about the quiet 
room — all these seemed full of peace, and 
as if they mocked, in theh^ serene enjoy- 
ment, the troubles of the wearied woman 
who lay, in a half-dreaming state, ques- 
tioning the mysterious allotments of Pro- 
vidence, and wondering whether the earth 
had no lonely spot where she might escape 
from life's warfare, and prepare herself for 
that better land vrhere true and everlasting 
rest is to be foimd. 

Mrs. Porrest fell asleep at last, and 
dreamt that having taken refuge in a con- 



140 THE student's WIFE. 

vent from tlie excitements of the world, 
slie had to settle the daily quarrels of the 
whole sisterhood of nuns, and spend the 
hours not thus employed in listening to 
the bitter complaints of the lady abbess 
against every member of the establishment, 
or the severe denunciations of the father 
confessor against the lady abbess herself. 

Erom this pleasing vision the sleeper was 
abruptly recalled by the entrance of Susan, 
who, advancing to the sofa, said, in a loud, 
cheerful voice, — 

" It's near five o'clock, ma'am, and you 
told me to rouse you at half-past four. 
The young ladies are not come home yet, 
but here's a letter for you, and if you'll 
have a drop of tea, I've got it ready for 
you." 

"Thank you, Susan, you may bring it 
to me, for I feel scarcely awake even now. 
Give me the letter, however, and open one 
of the windows : this room appears insaf- 
ferably hot." 

Whether the contents of the letter, 



THE student's WIFE 141 

which, on Susan's departure, Mrs. Forrest 
opened and read, had the effect of cooling 
the atmosphere, I am not prepared to say ; 
but it certainly removed every trace of 
drowsiness, and even made the startled 
reader think it probable that she should 
never sleep again. Thus it ran : — 

" Eally castle, 
*^ Count V Antrim, Ireland. 

" My dearest Aunt, — 

" You ^ill guess by the black edges 
of my paper that sometliing is the matter ; 
and so it is, for Old Mahon's off at last. I 
don't mean to speak disrespectfully of the 
old boy, though, perhaps, when I tell you 
that he's only left me two hundred a year, 
you would not wonder much if I did. The 
will was opened last Thursday, and, to 
the surprise of everybody, the bulk of the 
property was found to be bequeathed to a 
small-pox hospital in Dublin. What to do 
with myself I am, of course, as ignorant as 



142 THE student's wife. 

the man in the moon. One friend advises 
me to hang myself — another, to go into 
the army — another, to try my luck at the 
bar — another, to join some strolling players 
— and two or three more suggest my re- 
tiring to a country village, and living upon 
my means 1 1 Now all the former plans are 
at least possible, but this last, you knov/, 
is not, and I'll give any of them leave to 
duck me in the Shannon if they find me 
attempting such a thing. 

"At present I am staying with an old 
chum of mine, who is a regular good 
fellow, and when he's tired of me, I'm 
going, for a week or two, to some more 
friends, who won't take any refusal. But 
after this, my best of aunts, I shall be a 
desolate wanderer on the face of the earth ; 
and if I transport myself and chattels to 
your part of the globe, and beg permission 
to become, for a brief space, a dweller 
beneath your hospitable roof, I hope you 
wont deem your unknown nephew very 
presumptuous, or wish him at the bottom 
of the blue ocean." 



THE student's WIFE. 143 

" Should you consent to receive me, I 
shall probably find my way to Theresa 
Cottage — what a pretty name ! — in about 
a month or five weeks from the date of 
of this, and I can then discuss with you, 
my only surviving relative, the different 
plans that have been suggested for my 
future maintenance. As I am no scribe, 
my good aunt, excuse this rambling effu- 
sion, and remember the constitutional 
idleness and thoughtlessness of 

** Your affectionate, but unworthy nephew, 
*' Philip Maranham." 

" P.S. — You won't mind my two blood- 
hounds — Tantalus and Charon — I know; 
but as they are rather large, I mention 
them here to prevent any surprise on their 
appearance; and, also, that if you do not 
possess such an article, you may have a 
little kennel knocked up for them in the 
garden, as they have been desperately 
petted; and would take it ill, poor things, 



IM THE student's WIFE. 

if they did not find comfortable sleeping 
quarters. In the day they run about the 
house, like lambs ; and will, no doubt, 
soon make themselves quite at home in 
Theresa Cottage." 

" Please, ma'am, here is your tea, and 
I'm afraid it will be cold," said Susan, for 
the fourth time, as she stood in respectful 
amazement before her completely absorbed 
and greatly agitated mistress. This time 
her words were understood, for the letter 
was finished ; and Mrs. Eorrest, looking 
up with a sort of stony despair in her 
meek eyes, replied, calmly — 

" Put it down, Susan. I do not mind 
its being cold." 

" I hope you do not feel worse, ma'am ; 
or that you have had no bad news," said 
the girl, timidly; for the paleness of her 
mistress's face alarmed her, and she was 
unmlling to leave her alone. 

" Oh, no ! it is nothing particular. I 
cannot talk about it now," Mrs. Forrest 



THE student's WIFE. 145 

answered, immediately. ** The young ladies 
will want their tea when they come in; 
shall you have it ready, Susan ?" 

" Quite ready, ma'am. I've just been 
placing some of the flowers Miss Theresa 
brought this morning in Miss Ashton's 
rooms. Miss Theresa told me to do it, as 
she had found out that the young lady 
loved flowers. And, oh ! ma'am, it's just a 
pleasure to go into those rooms now that 
Miss Ashton has put everything in order. 
You never saw such a palace of neatness 
and elegance in your life — such lovely 
books, and boxes, and china images, and 
baskets of every shape ! Oh ! I do wish 
you'd step up presently, and take a 
peep ; it's like going into a fairy's room, 
I declare." 

How admirably adapted for the friendly 
visits of Tantalus and Charon, thought 
the unfortunate aunt of Philip Maranham, 
as she declined Susan's proposal of peeping 
into Caroline's rooms, and walked through 
the opened French window into the garden, 

VOL. I. H 



146 THE STUDENT S WIFE. 

that the cool eyening breeze might afford 
temporary relief from the oppressive sen- 
sation her nephew's letter had brought 
with it. 

She had not walked many minutes, 
before a ring at the gate announced the 
return of her guests ; and Theresa, running 
up to Mrs. Porrest the moment the gate 
was unlocked, declared they had had a 
most delightful walk, an assertion which 
Caroline's quiet smile fully corroborated. 
The latter, when she had expressed a hope 
that Mrs. Forrest was better, retu^ed to 
take off her walking dress ; and then The- 
resa, strolling by the side of her more 
than usually silent friend, with her bonnet 
hanging carelessly on her arm, began an 
animated and enthusiastic eulogy of Caro- 
line Ashton, to which the widow listened 
without comment or interruption of any 
kind. 

" She is really a darling," said the eager 
speaker, "and no more like that abomi- 
nable portrait I invented than Lawrence 



THE student's WIPE. 147 

Singleton is like papa. Oh ! I am sure 
you will love her dearly Avhen vou know 
her better, for she has just your tastes for 
quiet and solitude" — (here Mrs. Forrest 
groaned mentally) — '*and eyen dislikes 
general society. As for men, she declares 
it would be a positiye purgatory to her 
were she obliged to see much of them, for 
nearly the whole of her life has been 
passed amongst friends of her o^yn sex, to 
many of whom she appears much attached. 
I haye heard all about her mother and Mr. 
Singleton ; but in spite of Caroline's pre- 
sent resolution of neyer seeing him, I 
should not wonder if it ended in a loye 
match — there is something so deliciously 
romantic and out of the common way 
in it." 

"My dear Theresa," said Mrs. Eorrest, 
finding that her little friend intended to 
pause here, " you are talking sad nonsense 
to-night. I hope you haye not been en- 
tertaining Miss Ashton in a similar style, 
or I should much fear that she has formed 

H 2 



148 THE student's wife. 

a less exalted opinion of your wisdom than 
yon have done of hers ! " 

" Oh ! we have talked of nearly every 
subject under the sun," replied Theresa, 
with undiminished animation. '' Caroline 
knows so many things that I have scarcely 
heard of; and she is going to lend me 
books, and to teach me flower-painting 
from nature ; and we are to walk together 
every day that mamma can spare me ; and, 
in short, my dearest Mrs. Porrest, I am in 
a state of enchantment, which may well 
excuse the nonsense you say I have been 
talking." 

"Nonsense, indeed, you little goose!' 
said Mrs. Porrest, actually beguiled, for 
the moment, from the contemplation of 
her own troubles by the fascination which 
Theresa — in her gay, childlike moods — 
always contrived to exercise over her. 
" But there, you perceive, is Miss Ashton 
at the window ; so let us go in to tea." 

Nothing remarkable occurred during the 
evening, except that Mrs. Torrest, instead 



THE student's WIFE. 149 

of having to amuse the formidable Caro- 
line, was arbitrarily compelled to instal 
herself on the sofa, and forbidden to utter 
a single word. So she reposed in lux- 
urious indolence, listening — between the 
snatches of refreshing sleep which stole 
upon her — to Miss Ashton's very clever 
and amusing sketches of school life, and 
Theresa's equally entertaining and very 
naive observations thereon. 

When Susan, at ten o'clock, brought in 
the supper and the bedroom candles, Mrs. 
Forrest was the first to exclaim — 

" Dear me, is it so late ? I had no idea 
the evening was half over !" 



CHAPTER XII. 



But in the morning all the vexations and 
disquietudes of the preceding day returned 
with even increased hitterness, and the 
more Miss Ashton appeared to be recon- 
ciled to her new home, the more unwilling 
did her timid hostess feel to communicate 
to her the threatened addition to their 
household; and although no thought of 
refusing to receive her beloved sister's 
child had ever, for an instant, crossed the 
widow's mind, the prospect of his coming 
was not the less fraught with anxious and 
sickening dread to her. If she had shrunk 
from accepting the charge of Caroline 
Ashton, a quiet, well-conducted, and care- 
fully-educated young lady, how much more 
did she shrink from becoming, in any way 
whatever, the protectress of such an one 



THE student's WIFE. 151 

as she had pictm^ed Philip Maranham ! 
And yet what was to be done ? 

In a few weeks her quiet dwelling would 
be desecrated by the presence of this wild, 
untameable spirit and his fierce favourites, 
whose very names filled poor Mrs. Porrest 
with a trembling and unconquerable fear. 

As if to aggravate her distress, there 
occurred, dm^ing the day, repeated in- 
stances illustrative of Miss Ashton's pre- 
ference for a quiet life, as well as of her 
extreme fondness for order and regularity 
in all things. Once or twice she gently 
chided Theresa for leaving her working 
materials scattered about the room; and 
when the latter, laughingly, inquired 
whether she did not think a little dis- 
order graceful, Caroline replied, quite 
seriously — 

" My dear Miss Berrington, I am sure 
that in vour heart vou must feel as I do — 
that life, without the most perfect order 
and neatness — even in externals — would 
lose half its charms." 



152 THE student's wife. 

" I am afraid," said Theresa, with genu- 
ine humility, '' that I have much more 
to learn than I suspected, and this keen 
appreciation of external order amongst the 
rest. Miss Ashton, you will he disgusted 
with your pupil at the very outset." 

"Par from that," Caroline hastened to 
answer, with her pleasant, sensible smile ; 
" but although I might succeed in teaching 
you to practise order, the powerful appre- 
ciation and love of it is, I imagine, a gift 
of nature's own, and not always a de- 
sirable one ; at least, I can imagine it the 
cause of very great and constant annoy- 
ance, if the possessor should be placed in 
immediate relations with an individual 
entirely destitute of it. I doubt, in my 
own particular case, whether, with every 
other source of enjoyment, I could be quite 
happy with an habitually untidy and care- 
less person." 

"Then," observed Mrs. Porrest, with a 
desperate resolve to know at once the 
worst she had to expect — "then, I pre- 



THE student's WIFE. 153 

sume, my dear, you are not fond of 
animals about a house ?" 

"Decidedly not," said Caroline, ear- 
nestly. " Cats are always in the way ; birds 
are stupid, and make a terrible litter ; and 
as for dogs, they are my detestation — the 
fat, pampered, lazy, little animals." 

" But these are only lap dogs. There 
are some dogs really noble, admirable crea- 
tures, full of intelligence and fidelity — an 
example to human beings, an honour and 
a glory to theu' ovra species." 

This was Theresa's defence of the canine 
race ; for she had the bad taste to be exces- 
sively fond of them all, from the gigantic 
Newfoimdland to the ciu4y little parlour 
favourite, of which Caroline had spoken 
with such contempt. 

The latter smiled at her new friend's 
enthusiasm, and replied, immediately — " I 
quite agree with you in your admii*ation 
of the faithfulness and the intellis^ence of 
the better class of these animals; and, 
in my condemnation, I only included the 

H 3 



15 i THE student's WIFE. 

usual sort of household pets. Eut my ad- 
miration of the larger, nobler tribe of 
dogs is mingled with such an instinctive 
terror, that I could never, I think, under 
any cu'cumstances, become attached to 
one, or bear it any length of time in the 
same room with me." 

Mrs. Porrest grew pale, and walked out 
into the garden. She determined to ask 
no more questions for that day. 

But while the hostess of Theresa Cot- 
tage was sick at heart, and incapable of 
enjoying the beauties of that sweet summer 
time, because of the morbid weakness that 
past trials and recent solitude had gene- 
rated in her mind, the young people 
who shared her hospitality grew, hourly, 
more charmed with each other, and more 
contented with the destiny which had 
already made them acquaintances, and 
promised to make them friends. 

To Theresa, this brief visit had been a 
season of unmixed enjoyment; and she 
had just consented, on the Saturday even- 



THE student's WIFE. 155 

ing, to Mrs. Forrest's proposal of sending 
Susan to the rectory with a petition for 
another two days' holiday, when a mes- 
senger arrived with a note from Dr. Ber- 
rington, which rendered the suggestion 
useless. 

Theresa read this communication first to 
herself ; and then, glancing archly towards 
Caroline, she said, with a smile untinctured 
by a shadow of pique — 

'' Pray, admire the gallantry of your 
friend Mr. Singleton. I will read the note 
to you, and you shall condole mth me on 
my mortification. Listen — 

" Little Tessie, — 

" You must come home as soon 
as you receive this ; for neither your 
mother nor myself can do any longer 
without you. Even our taciturn guest is 
visibly pining away ; for he never eats a 
mouthful of bread now you are not here 
to cut it for him. But, lest your silly 



156 THE student's wiee. 

little heart should be uplifted at this in- 
telligence, I must tell you, that I just now 
asked him, four separate times, to walk 
oyer and fetch you home ; and, he either 
did not, or would not hear me, being more 
agreeably occupied in devouring ' Dante's 
Inferno.' I cannot come myself, having 
sprained my foot yesterday ; so, make 
haste, little puss, that you may be in time 
to pour out our tea, and cut Lawrence 
Singleton's bread and butter. 

^' Your foolishly devoted father, 

" A. G. Berhington. 

" I have a bit of news for you, if you are 
a good girl, and come home to tea." 

The lamentations that were uttered by 
Theresa's friends over this peremptory 
recall may so well be imagined, that it 
would be a mere waste of words to repeat 
them. Suffice it to say, that their effect 
upon the young girl's heart was a very 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 15? 

flattering and soothing one; and, as she 
walked slowl^^ home down the green lane, 
and along the quiet road that skirted the 
bright waving corn fields, a sensation of 
exceeding happiness, and keen enjoyment 
of life, filled her whole spii'it, and made the 
world around her appear strewed ^ith 
those lost flowers of paradise, which youth- 
ful eves are still pri^-ileged, occasionally, 
to discover amidst life's bitter weeds. 

It is so sweet to feel one's self the object 
of warm affection ; to know that when we 
come, there vriH be smiles of welcome, and 
of joy; and, when we go, there will be 
tears of sadness and regret. The blessed 
art of winning love comprises such dee]) 
and ever freshening som^ces of happiness. 
It is the good fairy's birth-gift to a few 
favoured mortals ; though, sometimes a 
less kindly spirit ^vill try to hamper even 
tills di^dne treasure ^vith a cm-se. 

But, of the curse that mai/ attend the 
power of inspiring love, the young, glad- 
some heart knows nothing ; and Theresa 



158 THE student's wife. 

Berrington saw no dark or sombre thread 
amongst the gay fabric her busy thoughts 
were weaving — heard no wailing note 
amidst the enchanting melodies which 
rang that sweet sunime 
pure and innocent heart. 



rang that sweet summer evening in her 



" Welcome, welcome ! my little rose- 
bud," exclaimed Dr. Berrington, gaily, as 
his daughter, looking the type of all fair 
things, entered the cheerful parlour, where, 
with his wife and La^Tcnce Singleton, the 
disabled rector was sitting. '' You are a 
dear child for coming home to us ; so, when 
your mother has kissed away one of those 
blooming cheeks, let me try what I can do 
with the other. And, what's the news, 
Tessie, what's the news ?" 

'' Yom^s or mine, papa?" asked Theresa, 
smilingly, as she disengaged herself from 
her mother's encircling arms, and ran to 
kiss her father. 

"Oh, A'ours, mv dear, of course. We 
are all dying to hear something of Miss 



THE STUDENT S WIPE. 159 

Ashton. But you have not spoken to Mr. 
Singleton vet, and he is looking quite 
jealous." 

" In niT eyes, he looks only profoundly 
indifferent to all earthly objects," said 
Theresa, bowing, good temperedly, to the 
young man. who had, indeed, neither ex- 
l^ressed nor betrayed the smallest interest 
in her return. " But I can forgive you, 
Mr. Singleton, and, in token of it, I am 
now going to sit doTMi, and begin cutting 
your bread and butter for you."' 

"You are extremely kind," he replied, 
colouring a very little, and smiling about 
as much. " I hope you have enjoyed yoiu' 
visit." 

" Oh, above everytliing," said Theresa, 
opening her blue eyes at tliis unexpected 
courtesy ; " and so would you, I am sm^, 
if you had been favoured, as I have, with 
the societv of one of the most charmins:, 
clever, and amiable young ladies in the 
world." 

" And is Miss Ashton indeed all this ?" 



160 THE student's WIFE. 

asked Mrs. Berrington, drawing her cliair 
to the table, and preparing for a little cosy 
family gossip. 

" Dear mamma, she is really a darling, 
delightful creature — not a bit stiff, or 
proud, or reserved, at least not with me ; 
and so sensible and clever, that if she were 
less good-natured I should be quite afraid 
of her." 

''But, Tessie, you have forgotten the 
chief point in your description, and one 
concerning which I see your poor mother 
and Mr. Singleton are in an agony of 
curiosity. In a word, is Miss Ashton 
pretty?" 

'* Oh, papa, it is you who are curious," 
said Theresa, laughingly; "and I shall 
punish your slander of Mr. Singleton by 
not answering the question, unless he 
thinks proper to ask it. Now, who will 
be in an agony, I wonder ?" 

" Why, Tessie, you have become quite 
mischievous," said her delighted father, 
gazing with pride and fondness at his 



THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 161 

child's sparkling eyes, as she turned from 
him to look at the grave aad silent Law- 
rence. " Come," addressing the latter, 
" you are bound, now, for all om- sakes, to 
propose the momentous question concern- 
ing Miss Ashton's personal attractions." 

The slightest possible expression of im- 
patience appeared, for a moment, on the 
face of the individual thus appealed to; 
but he shook it off, and said, with a laud- 
able attempt at appearing interested — 
" Pray, then. Miss Berrington, keep us no 
longer in suspense. Is this new friend of 
yours pretty?" 

" Shall I give you a full length portrait 
of her?" 

"As you please. I promise to pay 
attention." 

" Well, then, we must begin at the head, 
I suppose, or rather at the eyes, if we wish 
to be correct. These are of a dark grey, 
rather large, and very soft and earnest in 
expression. The head is classically shaped, 
and adorned with rich brown hair, simply 



162 THE student's wipe. 

braided over a wide, intellectual forehead. 
The nose and mouth are what I must call 
passable ; but the teeth are beautiful ; and 
the figure of my portrait is remarkably 
graceful and stately ; with hands and feet 
that might be taken for models, if you 
could fancy any one so dignified and re- 
tiring as Caroline Ashton, submitting to 
display her attractions." 

" Bravo, bravo, Tessie," cried the rector ; 
'' you will be writing a novel one of these 
days ;" while Lawrence Singleton, after 
keeping his eyes fixed on the former 
speaker for a longer period than attention 
to her description warranted, suddenly 
turned away, and forgot to make a single 
comment on what she had been telling 
him. 

That same evening Theresa communi- 
cated to her mother all that she had heard 
respecting Mrs. Ashton' s desire of marry- 
ing Caroline to Lawrence, as well as Caro- 
line's determination of avoiding an intro- 
duction to him. 



THE student's WIFE. 163 

"But you know, mamma," continued 
this foolish, romantic child, '* there is no 
reason against their liking each other ; and 
I have a presentiment that it Avill end in a 
charming wedding, at which Lawrence will 
forget whether he is the bridegroom or 
father, and, perhaps, conclude by putting 
the ring on the finger of the old pew opener ; 
that is to say, if love does not transform him 
into a rational being." 

"My dear Theresa," replied Mrs. Berring- 
ton, gravely, "I am much vexed at all this 
nonsense ; and I do entreat that you will 
avoid mixing yourself up with anything of 
the kind. Mrs. Asliton might, at least, 
have reserved her plots against this young 
man until he ceased to be Dr. Berrington's 
pupil." 

Theresa said no more to her mother; 
but she had so welcomed and caressed the 
idea of being the means of helping a love 
match between the dreamy Lawrence 
Singleton and the sensible Caroline Ash- 
ton, that she could not be expected to 
abandon it all at once. 



164 THE student's wife. 

Young people generally commence their 
initiation into the mysteries of human pas- 
sion by meddling, either in imagination or 
reality, with the love affairs of others. 



CHAPTER XIII 



Theresa did not visit the cottage again 
for several days, as her mother required 
her assistance in preparing for the recep- 
tion of another pupil whom Dr. Berrington 
had succeeded in obtaining. And this was 
the hit of news with which he had at- 
tempted to bribe his daughter to return 
home. 

The honom-able Arthur Cressingham was 
destined by his parents for a parliamentary 
career ; and having idled away two or three 
terms at Oxford, he had been suddenly 
seized with a desire to redeem the time so 
foolishly squandered; and meeting, acci- 
dently, vdih the rector's advertisement, he 
had proposed to his father to spend a few 
months at Elderton, for the purpose of 
carrying out his new and laudable am- 



166 THE STUDENT S WIFE. 

bition. To this plan no opposition was 
made; and after the exchange of one or 
two letters between the father and Dr. 
Berrington, every arrangement was com- 
pleted, and a not very distant day fixed for 
the arrival of the aristocratic pupil. 

Theresa was walking in the garden one 
evening, in rather a thoughtful mood, for 
her mother had been lecturing her that 
afternoon for always talking to Lawrence 
Singleton about Caroline Ashton, even 
when it was clear that the subject wearied 
him. She was reflecting now that it cer- 
tainly was very silly of her to try, by 
simple praise of a person he had never 
seen, to make any impression on a heart 
so evidently steeled against all soft emo- 
tions, so far above the weakness — poor 
Theresa fancied— of an every- day attach- 
ment. Her father had told her that Law- 
rence had brilliant talents, but that his 
mind was too dreamy and speculative to 
render them generally apparent. The rec- 
tor had said, also, that his pupil was of a 



THE student's WIFE. 167 

strangely melancholy and contemplative 
character ; and the simple-minded Theresa, 
coupling this with his frequent abstrac- 
tions, his seeming indifference to the trivial- 
ities of life, and his occasional bursts of 
excited feeling when anything beautiful, 
either in art or nature, roused him from 
himself — invested the reserved and unsoci- 
able young man not only with a mind far 
superior to any she had yet encountered, 
but with a heart capable of the deepest and 
tenderest passion, which was to be reserved 
till he found one worthy to inspire emo- 
tions so immeasurably above the ordinary 
standard. 

It is a cpmmon thing to connect a lofty 
intellect with a warm and sensitive heart, 
to believe that, because a person possesses 
a keen appreciation of physical and moral 
beauty, that he must necessarily have 
deeper capabilities for loving, and stronger 
inclinations for virtue, than his fellow 
men. It is, assuredly, very possible that 
wealth of heart and mind may be united 



168 THE student's wife. 

in the same individual, but it certainly 
is not a general rule ; and I believe the 
man of intellect will far more frequently 
be found entirely destitute of warm human 
feelings than possessing them in equal pro- 
portion to the qualities and powers of his 
mind. 

Theresa Berrington, however, was quite 
of an opposite opinion, for, in the few 
works of romantic fiction she had read, 
the heroes were of course miracles, both 
in head and heart ; and those who, like 
Lawrence Singleton, appeared in the first 
instance cold and passionless, always awoke 
at last as from a dark dream, and exhibited 
emotions whose wild intensity was only 
surpassed by their rock-like firmness and 
immutability. 

On the pattern of one of these charming 
heroes the rector's daughter had modelled 
all that was mysterious and incomprehen- 
sible in Lawrence Singleton's character; 
and she was wondering whether, after all 
Caroline Ashton would be sufficiently high- 



THE STUDENT S WIEE. 169 

souled to suit the requirements of such an 
ethereal individual, when a sudden turn 
in the thickly bordered and \Yinding path 
she had chosen, brought her face to face 
with the subject of her meditations — with 
Lawrence Singleton — not absorbed, as 
usual, with one of his worshipped books, 
but walking slowly, and apparently enjoy- 
ing the silent scene and hour. 

" It is a pleasant evening," said Theresa, 
when her first quick blush had partially 
died away. " But what a wonder, Mr. 
Singleton, to see you mthout a book !" 

" There are books on everv side of me," 
he replied, ^^dth one of those earnest 
glances that have been before alluded to. 
" I am reading from nature now. Do you 
not think that it is the fairest and clearest 
page of all ?" 

" Indeed I do," said Theresa, irresistibly 
flattered by her companion putting a ques- 
tion of this sort to her. ^' I have always 
loved the country dearly." 

" Have you ever lived in a town ?" 

VOL. I. I 



170 THE student's WIFE. 

" Yes ; but not a large one. I think I 
should be miserable in London." 

" Even if you had a fine house, and gave 
parties, and went to balls, and were very 
much sought after and admired ?" 

Lawrence said this with a sort of incre- 
dulous smile, as though he felt a certain 
conviction that no female heart could be 
indiflPerent to such things. And Theresa 
answered, indignantly, — 

" Oh, Mr. Singleton, I thank you for 
your opinion of me and of my sex. I see 
by your look that, whatever I might say, 
you would retain your very flattering 
impression of us ; therefore, it would be 
useless" 

" Nay," interrupted Lawrence, fairly 
smiling at the emotion he had excited ; " I 
promise to believe implicitly whatever you 
may tell me. What can I know about 
women's tastes and feelings ? I have had 
no opportunity of judging any, save my 
mother, and she is no longer young and 
enthusiastic." 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 171 

Theresa was more than appeased, and, 
as Lawrence actually 'turned and walked 
on by her side, she said, with unusual 
softness, — 

'* Then believe me, Mr. Singleton, when 
I assiu'e you that in my dreams of the 
futm^, neither a fine house, nor gaiety, nor 
general admbation have had any place. 
Oh, it is something far — far different, my 
idea of happiness !" 

*' What is it. Miss Berrington ? I should 
like to hear." 

There was something so exceedingly 
nm/ce in the way this question was p^^t, 
such an evident unconsciousness, on Law- 
rence's part, that he was asking no less than 
the most treasured and sacred thoughts of 
a young gM's heart, that Theresa, though 
she was certainly astonished, could not be 
offended with him. She replied only, in a 
low tone of voice, — 

" It would not interest you or any one, 
Mr. Singleton. Be satisfied in knowing 
what it is notP 

I 2 



172 THE student's wife. 

Lawrence said no more about it, but 
continued walking near Theresa, as if wil- 
ling to prolong the first tete-a-tete they 
had ever had. The latter sought anxiously 
in her somewhat bewildered brain for a 
subject likely to please her companion, but 
none suggested itself, now that Caroline 
Ashton was forbidden; and feeling every 
minute more embarrassed and ill at ease, 
she stopped abruptly as they were approach- 
ing a more secluded part of the garden, and 
said, — 

"I am afraid mamma will be wanting_ 
me now, so good bye till tea time." 

"Why are you going away? Do not 
leave me yet," replied the young man 
quickly, but with as much coolness as if 
he were addressing a child. 

Theresa hesitated. A strange, undefina- 
ble sensation fluttered at her heart. Por 
a moment the green trees seemed to dance 
before her sight, the firm ground to giv^e 
way beneath her tread ; but all this passed, 
and then, with an unwonted paleness on 



173 



her cheek, she gently declined the invita- 
tion to remain, and walked, with a slow 
and very thoughtful step into the house. 

The next day Theresa asked and ob- 
tained her mother's permission to spend 
the afternoon with Mrs. Eorrest ; and set- 
ting out as soon as their early dinner was 
over, she reached the cottage just as Caro- 
line had left the widow to enjoy her now 
daily siesta, and was going to write letters 
in her own room. 

" But I am delisrhted to see you," said 
the latter, with eyery appearance of sin- 
cerity. *' Come up stairs, and I will find 
you the books I promised ; and you must 
admu^e my harp and piano, which are both 
now unpacked. I am so glad to find that 
Mrs. Forrest likes music. But, surely, you 
are not well, my dear Miss Berrington; 
you look quite pale and dejected." 

"Indeed! I was never better," replied 
Theresa, eagerly ; " but it is so warm to 
day, and I walked fast. You must play 
and sing to me by and bye ; that will do 
me good." 



174 THE student's wife. 

They were soon seated by the open win- 
dow of Caroline's pleasant room, looking 
oyer books, discussing their contents, and, 
if not quite vowing eternal friendship, 
advancing so far towards it as to agree 
in henceforth dropping the ceremonious 
''Miss," and being Caroline and Theresa 
to each other. 

"And now," said CarolinCj after they 
had talked for more than an hour on 
general subjects, and she fancied her com- 
panion was looking somewhat wearied, — 
"tell me, dear Theresa, how you and Mr. 
Singleton are getting on. Is he more socia- 
ble and less bearish in his manners yet ?" 

Theresa did not blush — perhaps, because 
she had all along been expecting some such 
question — but she replied, without her 
usual animation — "There is no great 
change in him. I dare say he finds us 
terribly commonplace and uncongenial. 
Minds like Mr. Singleton's cannot bend to 
take an interest in everyday people. I am 
sore I wish we were different for his sake." 



THE student's WIFE. 175 

Caroline could not help smiling as she 
said — 

" You are a very humble little body, 
Theresa ; but this Lawrence cannot be 
what YOU appear to imagine, if he finds 
nothino^ to interest him in your intellect 
and character. I have alwavs heard that 
the loftiest minds are those which attach 
themselves the most readily to the natural 
and simple ones." 

Theresa bent over the book she had on 
her knee, and made no reply ; but her 
companion saw the rich blood mantle on 
her cheek, and heard the Httle, half 
smothered sigh, that told less of grief 
than of emotion, which must be con- 
cealed. Nevertheless Caroline continued, 
unpityingly — 

**As I am Groins; to denv mvself the 
gratification of becoming personally ac- 
quainted vrith. Mr. Singleton, you must 
tell me all his oddities, and describe the 
process of the socializing system upon 
him, Theresa. It will amuse me." 



176 THE STUDENT S WIFE. 

" But I shall soon see less of him than 
I have hitherto done ; for papa has another 
pupil coming in a few days, and then 
mamma intends altering all our domestic 
arrangements. The young men are to 
take their meals with papa, at a late hour, 
and have a room to themselves in the 
evening, unless they prefer the parlour." 

'' Your mother is prudent, Theresa.*' 

" Yes ; she never much approved this 
plan of receiving pupils. But shall we 
go down now and see Mrs. Forrest ?" 

Theresa was pleased to observe that 
the widow and her guest appeared on 
very friendly terms, and that the former 
had resumed all her old habits, without 
a fear of their meeting any interruption 
from Miss Ashton, who spent the greater 
part of every day in her own apartments, 
and only joined Mrs. Forrest when she 
felt assured her society would be agreeable. 

Caroline played and sang with much 
taste and execution, and this evening her 
talents were really a resource, as Theresa 



THE student's WIFE. 177 

was not in her usual spirits, and, till the 
music was thought of, a cloud seemed 
hanging over the whole party. 

"And now," said Caroline, when her 
fino^ers and her voice were faklv ex- 
hausted, — *'come and' see how I have 
attended to your flowers, Theresa. Mrs. 
Forrest seems to regard me as a novice ; 
but I flatter myself I have done wonders 
since you were here." 

The widow walked out with her vouno' 
friends, and thev soon fell into a cheerful 
strain of conversation, during which the 
tillage school, established by Dr. Berring- 
ton, and one or two other charitable 
institutions, under Theresa's particular 
surveillance, were mentioned. The latter 
asked Caroline whether she would like 
to become a teacher in the school, or an 
occasional \T.sitor amongst the poor, there 
being no one but herself and Mrs. Ber- 
rington to do all that was required in 
this way. 

" If," replied Caroline, promptly, " I can 

' i3 



178 THE student's wife, 

be really of any ser\dce, I shall not hesitate 
undertaking a portion of your work ; hut, 
do not be disappointed, if my exertions 
prove a failure ; because I acknowledge, 
frankly, my heart will not be engaged in 
the matter. I have no power of dividing 
my sympathies — of doing a little here and 
a little there. Give me one definite object 
to accomplish, and I could set about it 
with my whole heart and soul ; never 
weary or grow impatient till the end was 
attained. This is the peculiarity of my 
disposition — an unfortunate one, perhaps ; 
but I cannot change or modify it now." 

" I think, in a general way, it loould be 
unfortunate," said Mrs. Porrest ; '' because 
it rarely occurs, to women at least, that 
any great or important object is presented 
to them. Our destinies are usually among 
the quiet streams, which piu^sue the same 
undeviating course from day to day, and 
from year to year. In the lives of all 
women there will be found thousands of 
opportunities for the exercise of the lesser 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 179 

virtues of humanity ; while, perhaps, not 
one in a hundred ever meets an occasion 
for concentrating her energies on an indi- 
^ddual object." 

On one really worthy of undivided in- 
terest, perhaps not," replied Caroline; ''but 
I should imasrine it was no uncommon 
case to find a woman merging every care 
and hope into a solitary passion, and pur- 
suing this, whether it he love, fame, am- 
bition, or even revenge, with an energy 
that no minor objects would ever, for an 
instant, lure aside." 

" It may be that such cases are common 
enough," said Mrs. Eorrest, who was not, 
however, a very profound reasoner upon 
human nature ; " but I meant that for a 
right-thinking woman, whose passions are 
under her control, and who takes religion 
for her guide, there will rarely arise oppor- 
timities of exercising, T\ith profit, the 
power of concentration, which you say you 
possess." 

*' I agree with you, dear Mrs. Forrest; nor 



180 THE student's WIFE. 

do I ever anticipate that my capabilities 
in this respect will find any field for dis- 
play; but what says this little, pensive, 
listening friend of ours ? Theresa Ber- 
rington, you are called upon to make a 
speech, having reference to the last topic 
of conversation." 

** Indeed ! I am too ignorant to do any- 
thing but listen," replied Theresa, rous- 
ing herself from a profound reverie, which 
had, probably, prevented her from bene- 
fitting by Caroline's wisdom so much as 
she otherwise would have done. "And, 
indeed, it is time for me to say good bye. 
Mamma gave me strict orders not to re- 
main too late." 

" Well, God bless you, dear child," said 
Mrs. Porrest, kissing her with much affec- 
tion ; " and mind, when you next make 
your appearance, not to forget your smiles, 
as you certainly have done to-day." 

"If you do," added Caroline, running 
after Theresa to the gate, " I shall seriously 
recommend Mrs. Berrington to send you 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 181 

somewhere for change of ah^; unless the 
honourable Arthur Cressingham should 
happen to be provided with a better pre- 
scription." 

"Don't tease me, Caroline," said poor 
Theresa, meekly. " I have such a head- 
ache this evening, and nobody, you know, 
can be always gay." 

*' Come soon, then, and I will let you 
be as dull as you please. Shall we see 
you to-morrow?" 

" I fear not. Mr. Cressingham arrives 
the day after, and mamma will be so 
busy." 

" Ah ! that Mr. Cressingham, Theresa ! 
I fear he will monopolize you quite." 

" Mr. Cressingham indeed ! — but good 
night, Caroline; I will bring you all the 
news in a day or two." 



CHAPTER XIV. 



Mrs. Eorrest and Miss Ashton certainly 
got on much better together than the 
former had dared to hope they would do ; 
but still there was nothing in the slightest 
degree confidential in their intercourse at 
present, and although the widow saw 
much to admire and esteem in Caroline's 
character, she could not regard her as a 
loveable person, nor conquer her former 
prejudices so far as to agree in the very 
exalted opinion Theresa had formed of 
their new acquaintance. If Caroline had 
been a weak, or a timid, or a sickly girl, 
the tender-hearted Mrs. Porrest would 
have felt attracted towards her at once: 
but as she happened to be strong-minded, 
self-relying, and remarkably healthy, sym- 
pathy and pity were quite uncalled for; 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 183 

and Caroline Ashton was not endowed 
with tliat fascinating art which, even with- 
out any of these gentle pleas for human 
love, uu^esistibly compels attachment. 

Mrs. Eorrest was careful, however, to 
conceal from her guest that she felt any 
uncongeniality between them ; and if Caro- 
line guessed that such Avas the case, it ex- 
cited no apparent bitterness, bu.t caused 
her rather to double her exertions for the 
entertainment of the lonely woman upon 
whom she knew now she had been forced 
by her ambitious and ill-judging mother. 

That a young, thoughtful girl could 
be quite happy mider such • circumstances 
was not, of course, to be expected; but 
Caroline never complained, rarely looked 
melancholy, and quietly pursued the 
" even tenor of her way," trusting, per- 
haps, that time or circumstance would, 
sooner or later, bring a recompense for the 
trials she now so patiently endured. 

Mrs. Porrest made up her mind, at last, 
to break the subject of Philip Maranham's 



184 THE STUDENT^S WIFE. 

proposed visit ; and the manner in which 
Caroline received the intelligence would 
have won any heart less obstinately closed 
against her. The poor, nervous aunt, after 
a brief prelude concerning Philip's parents 
and his own disappointment at Mr. Mahon's 
death, drew forth the letter in which he 
announced his intention of coming to 
Elderton, and read the greater part of it to 
her attentive auditor, pausing when it was 
finished to see whether the latter would 
volunteer any observation by which the 
amount of her horror at the anticipated 
invasion might be guessed. But Caroline 
only smiled calmly, and said — 

" What a pleasure it will be for you to 
become acquainted with the son of your 
poor sister. You must be counting the 
days till he arrives." 

Mrs. Eorrest thought she was in a dream. 
'' But such a wild young man, my dear ; 
and then those terrible dogs — whatever 
will you do ?" 

Caroline laughed now outright. "Oh 



THE student's WIFE. 185 

never mind the dogs. I, for my part, will 
keep as much as I can out of their way, and 
we must manage to render then kennel so 
attractive that they ^vill not care for being 
in the house." 

'* It is really very good of you to make 
light of a circumstance that must be most 
annoying,' said ^Irs. Forrest, in increasing 
astonishment; ''but I fear a wild, noisy, 
probably careless and untidy, yoimg man 
constantly about the house will entnely 
destroy your comfort." 

" My dear Mrs. Eorrest, you must not 
suffer these evils to appear greater than 
they are. If your nephew should turn out 
wild, we will tame him ; if he is noisy, we 
will make him quiet. And should he also 
prove both careless and untidy, why his 
visit cannot last for ever, and we must just 
bear with him while it does." 

" Miss Ashton, you are certainly a phi- 
losopher. But suppose, for a moment, 
that we can neither tame Philip nor liis 
dogs, and that all three continue noisy, 



186 THE student's wipe. 

destructive, and troublesome, will not your 
patience fail even then ?" 

*' I hope not. I have no fears on the 
subject. And have we not Theresa to 
assist us in chaining this formidable spirit ? 
I have unlimited faith in A^r powers." 

Mrs. Eorrest sighed. " Ah, that is just 
the last thing to be desired, and yet how 
exceedingly probable." 

" What do you mean ? I assure you I 
only spoke jestingly." 

" But it is, nevertheless, one of my most 
serious apprehensions, that Philip and 
Theresa may take a fancy to each other, 
and then" — wringing her hands, as she 
always did when nervously excited — " and 
then, what should we do ?" 

" Let them marry, I suppose," said Caro- 
line, quietly ; '' but I have an idea that this, 
at least, will prove a groundless apprehen- 
sion. If Susan's report of the personal 
attractions of Mr. Arthur Cressingham is 
to be credited, he may turn out a for- 
midable rival for the smiles of your little 
friend." 



THE student's WIFE. 187 

" Well, that would be better, in a worldly 
sense," replied Mrs. Porrest. '' But why 
should not Theresa and you, and all who 
are not positively miserable, remain unfet- 
tered by closer ties ? How can people 
imagine that by increasing their sources 
of anxiety, they will increase their hap- 
piness. Surely, it is -wiser to continue on 
the safe side." 

" Por my o^^tl part, I quite agree with 
you," said Caroline ; *' and it must be a 
more than common temj)tation, which 
would change my settled purpose of join- 
ing the despised band of venerable spinsters, 
and preserving the independence that I 
love. But I have not the smallest ambi- 
tion to convert the world in general to my 
opinions on this subject ; and, as far as 
Theresa is concerned, I think it would be 
a thousand pities even to make the at- 
tempt. She is so eminently loving and 
loveable." 

''And, therefore, more likely to encounter 
trials in a married life. But this is an 



188 THE student's wife. 

idle discussion after all; and I have to 

write to my nephew by to-night's post." 
« « « ^ ^ 

The next time Theresa came to the 
cottage, her accustomed cheerfulness had 
returned; and she amused Mrs. Porrest 
and Caroline by a description of the elegant 
Arthur Cressingham, and the pains he 
took to adorn his certainly very handsome 
person, and the contempt with which he 
evidently regarded the neglected toilette 
and ungraceful manners of his fellow pupil, 
Lawrence Singleton. 

" Who repays this contempt with indif- 
ference, I hope," said Caroline. 

''Exactly," replied Theresa. "I really 
believe that Lawrence is scarcely conscious 
of this important addition to our circle." 

" And do you see much less of Mr. 
Singleton than formerly ?" 

There was a momentary hesitation, and 
a quick but flitting blush ; and then The- 
resa said — 

" Yes ; mamma has carried out her 



THE student's WIFE. 189 

plans, and she and I take all oiu- meals 
alone. However, I still see a good deal of 
both the young men, as they generally 
come into the garden when I am working 
there; and Mr. Singleton, who does not 
smoke, like his companion, sometimes 
assists me in weeding and tying up my 
flowers." 

Caroline smiled to herself, but made no 
remark ; and Mrs. Forrest said — 

" I am glad he is growing more rational. 
And do you like him better, my dear ?" 

*'Yes, certainly better; but you must 
see Arthur Cressingham. I am sure he 
would amuse you.*' 

Theresa stayed that evening to tea, and 
forgot afterwards, in the fascination of 
Caroline's music, that she had promised 
her mother to be home very early. When 
this circumstance was first remembered a 
heavy shower of rain was falling, and her 
friends would not hear of her starting until 
it was over. 

It was not over so soon as they expected, 



190 THE student's WIFE. 

and Mrs. Porrest had just desired Susan 
to prepare herself for taking Miss Berring- 
ton to the rectory, when a sharp ring at 
the garden hell announced a visitor, and 
was speedily followed hy the entrance of 
the honourable Arthur Cressingham, in 
propynd persona. 

He came in with a considerable degree 
of assurance ; and after bowing gracefully 
to all the ladies, he addressed himself par- 
ticularly to Theresa, stating that Mrs. Ber- 
rington, being uneasy at her daughter's 
prolonged absence, had requested one of 
the gentlemen to go in search of the truant 
— Dr. Berrington having, unfortunately left 
home about an hour before, and the ser- 
vants being, one and all, immersed in 
raspberry jam. 

Theresa could not help smiling, with the 
others, at this account, which was given 
with much quiet humour ; but there was, 
notwithstanding, some concealed source of 
annoyance in what she now heard, which 
neither escaped the observation of Caroline 



THE student's WIFE. 191 

Ashton nor of Arthur Cressingliam, who, 
after watching her for a few minutes, said, 
with affected carelessness — 

'^ By the bye, your mamma said you had 
promised to he home in time to label some 
scores of this delicious jam to-night ; and 
I perceive, by your countenance, that you 
are anticipating a maternal lecture for 
playing the truant. Allow me to act as 
mediator between you. I am in high 
favour at present, having assisted in trans- 
porting a cargo of little white pots from 
the kitchen to the store room." 

" You are very obliging," replied The- 
resa, bestowing upon him anything but a 
grateful look. " I need not, however, 
avail myself of your mediation in the pre- 
sent instance, because I have no fear of 
mamma's anger. If you will wait two 
minutes I shall be readv to return with 
you, though I am sorry mamma should 
have given you the trouble of coming." 

" Miss Berrington cannot deem the hon- 
our conferred on me anything but a lively 



192 THE student's wife. 

pleasure," said the young man, warmly; 
and as Theresa, without noticing this 
speech, was ahout to leave the room, he 
added — " I ought, by the way, to mention 
that Singleton would have offered to come, 
only he was in the middle of a Greek exer- 
cise, and thought he might lose the place 
if he left it. I like to do justice to every- 
body." 

How Theresa received this flattering 
announcement, or whether she appreciated 
the honourable Arthur's conscientiousness 
as it deserved, is not upon record, for she 
closed the drawing-room door abruptly as 
the last words were uttered ; and when she 
reappeared her veil was down, and the 
adieux were hurried over on account of the 
growing darkness. 

The inmates of the cottage saw no more 
of her for a fortnight. 



CHAPTER XY, 



Two scenes occurred diu^ing this fort- 
night which I am now going to exhibit to 
the reader. 

Lawrence Singleton sat alone one morn- 
insr in Dr. BerrinsTton's study. He had. 
refused an invitation to accompany the 
rector and Mr. Cressingham to Oxendean, 
and was deep in some metaphysical work 
he had chanced to stumble upon. 

Suddenly the door opened gently, a light 
footstep sounded on the floor, and looking 
uj), he saw Theresa advancing, with ap- 
parent reluctance, to the part of the room 
where he was sittins^. 

" Mr. Singleton," she said — " mamma 
has sent me to ask whether you would like 
to have your duiner ^vith us at two o'clock, 

VOL. I. K 



194 THE STUDENT S WII'E. 

or wait for papa and Mr. Cressingham. 
You are to do exactly which you prefer." 

After looking at the speaker almost 
tenderly for a minute or two, he replied, 
eagerly — 

'' Oh ! I will dine with you, by all means, 
if I may. Come here, now, and talk to 
me a little. I am weary of metaphysics." 

To her very brow the rich blood sprang 
impetuously, and one who watched might 
have detected the tremulous motion of the 
small hand that was suddenly raised, as if 
to ward off the too -glowing sunbeams from 
her dazzled eyes. 

" But I cannot stay," she said, at las^, 
"because mamma told me to make haste ; 
and — and you will soon forget that you 
wanted me." 

Lawrence smiled faintly, as he replied — 

" What strange creatures women are 1 
Should you like me to say that I could not 
forget it, that I shall think of nothing else 
all the morning ?" 

Theresa's lip quivered. 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 195 

'' Indeed, Mr. Singleton, I do not ^ish 
for any empty compliments, and I would 
much rather that you said no more about 
it." 

'' But you will leave me ?" 

'' I must." 

" But if you need not, would you ?" 

'' I do not know." 

*' Well, then, go ; I will not detain you." 

Still Theresa lingered. Her blue eyes 
were becoming liquid ; her heart was beat- 
ing thickly ; but the student did not speak. 
He was once more intent upon the hateful, 
senseless book, and apparently unconscious 
of not being alone. 

Poor, poor Theresa ! She knew she ought 
to go ; she felt she had l)een dismissed, but 
pride and dignity must concede one parting 
word, one parting glance, and both should 
be icy cold — cold as his own. 

"Then good morning, Mr. Singleton. 
You will try to remember two o'clock." 

He looked up quickly. Thek eyes met, 
and smiling as he had done at first, he 
replied gently, — k 2 



196 THE student's wife. 

" I will remember." 

The next scene took place about a week 
after this; but there was another actor 
in it. 

Theresa went one evening, when the 
sun had set, to tie up some roses which 
a heavy rain in the morning had beaten 
down. She had announced her intention 
publicly, and it is not improbable that she 
expected one or both of her father's pupils 
would join her in the labour, or, at least, 
lighten it by their society. But nearly an 
hour passed, and her hopes — if she enter- 
tained any on the subject — must have been 
rapidly decreasing, when the sound of foot- 
steps on the gravel path suddenly struck 
upon her ear, and sent the treacherous 
blood dancing wildly over her face and 
neck, and performing yet fiercer evolu- 
tions in the region of the heart. 

Theresa had been singing gently to her- 
self, as she pursued her light labours ; and 
the words '' I love and I am loved," bor- 
rowed from some popular ballad of the 



THE student's WIFE. 197 

day, died upon her lips as she turned to 
greet the new comer, and, perchance, to 
inquire why she had been left so long 
alone. 

** Oh ! Mr. Cressingham, is it you .^" 
pronounced by the young lady, in a tone 
that was not very flattering to the in- 
dividual addressed, began the conversation 
between them. 

*' I certainly am unfortunate enough, in 
the present instance, to be myself, and 
none other," answered the young man, 
with a slight tincture of irony in his man- 
ner. "But will you honour me by em- 
ploying tliese idle fingers, and, in the 
meantime, give repose to your OT^'n, which 
are too fairy like for such rude occupation ?" 

Theresa tore off an obstinate shoot, 
impatiently, before she deigned a reply ; 
and then it was — *' I am much obKged to 
you, but I have nothing for you to do now. 
The work is finished." 

** Ah !" he said, kneeling on the smooth 
turf beside her, and insisting on holding 



198 THE student's wife. 

up the tendrils of a creeping plant slie was 
trying to coax round a wire stand, — '' I 
deserve the implied reproof; and, upon 
my honour, I intended offering my ser- 
vices an hour ago. But the fact is, 
Singleton persuaded me to take a stroll 
with him ; and, I helieve, we lost our way 
in those romantic wilds he is so enamoured 
of. Miss Berrington, you are looking in- 
credulous ; hut ask Singleton whether my 
statement is not correct." 

Theresa turned round suddenly, expect- 
ing to hehold him to whom she was 
referred, hut no one was visible except 
the kneeling figure at her side; and as 
she bent again over her task, with indif- 
ferently concealed disappointment, Mr. 
Ores sin gham said, quietly — 

'' Oh, you will have to wait some little 
time ere you make the appeal to the inter- 
resting and accomplished Lawrence ; for 
I left him, in the most exalted heroics, at 
the bottom of the picturesque lane where 
your charming friends reside. It chanced 



THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 199 

that, as we accidentally strolled in that 
direction, the sound of raA'ishing music, 
accompanying a female voice, reached our 
delighted ears ; and when, after a quarter 
of an hoiu^'s patient listening, I ventured 
to remind my companion that it was gro\^'- 
ing late, he waved liis hand indignantly, 
with a glance that plainly said — " Begone, 
thou soulless clod of earth ;" so I took the 
hint, and vanished. But, Miss Berrington, 
I, also, love music ; and a few faint, silvery 
notes that the sweet evening hreeze wafted 
to me, as I entered the garden, have awak- 
ened so powerful a desire to hear more, 
that I do most earnestlv entreat of vou to 
gratify me. It was a delicious song you 
were warhling, ' I love and I am loved' — 
the very sentiment, I am convinced, to 
which you would give exquisite and 
thrillino^ eflPect." 

When Theresa looked up at the conclu- 
sion of this ramhling address, there was a 
strange agitation in her face, and a hurried 
absence of manner — so to speak — which 



200 THE student's wife. 

by no means escaped the notice of her 
companion. 

"Won't you sing" to me?" he added, 
presently, with a most insinuating soft- 
ness. 

" Oh ! I cannot sing — I know nothing 
of music," said Theresa, abruptly, as she 
threw down her garden implements and 
unceremoniously walked away. 

Arthur Cressingham watched her, for a 
few minutes, with a considerable degree of 
complacency expressed in his handsome 
face. Then he muttered some sentence 
to himself, in which the words, " exquisite 
child of nature !" alone were audible ; and 
lighting a cigar from a match-box he car- 
ried in his pocket, sauntered leisurely in 
an opposite direction to the one Theresa 
had taken. 

The latter went straight into the house, 
and met Lawrence Singleton coming 
through the hall. He seemed intending^ 
to pass her without even a word of recog- 
nition ; but Theresa was excited, and she 
said — 



THE student's WIFE. 201 

" Good evening, Mr. Singleton. I am 
so glad to hear you have been entertained 
by Miss Ashton's singing. I told you 
how clever she was — how superior in 
every respect. Oh ! I knew she was just 
the person to suit you." 

Lawrence looked down wonderingly at 
the pretty creature who stood before him 
with flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes. 
Por a minute or two he seemed quite at a 
loss either to gather the purport of what 
had been said, or to connect it in any way 
with the speaker's evident excitement ; but 
all at once, a smile — faint and momentary 
— ^broke over his usually sombre counte- 
nance, and he said, as he passed on — 

" Good night, Theresa. Why don't you 
practise singing yourself?" 



K 3 



CHAPTER XVI. 



"My dear, I find I must drive over to 
Oxendean this morning, to purchase a few 
things which I cannot get in the village ; 
and, as Philip will prohably arrive now in 
a day or two, I may not have another 
opportunity. Do you feel disposed to go 
with me, or must I leave you to your own 
resources until the evening ?" 

" Unless I can he of any assistance to 
you, pray, my dear Mrs. Eorrest, dispense 
with my attendance," replied Caroline 
Ashton, immediately ; '^ for, besides having 
one of my tiresome headaches, I regard 
shopping with a degree of horror not easily 
understood. When you are gone, I will 
try the effect of a good, brisk walk. There 
is a delicious breeze blowing from the hills 
this morning." 



THE student's WIFE. 203 

In half an hour more Mrs. Forrest 
stepped into the chaise wliich was to con- 
vey her to the comity town in search of 
various small luxuries she thought her 
spoiled nephew might require ; and, at the 
same time, Caroline went to put on her 
bonnet, in preparation for the solitary walk 
she had decided on undertaking. 

But fate had arranged that solitary it 
was not to be, for as one young lady 
descended the stairs, another was on the 
point of mounting them ; and Caroline 
Ashton and Theresa Berrington, after a 
very cordial greeting, agreed to proceed 
together to a delightful, lonely spot, about 
a mile distant, which by the country people 
was called " The Bennel." 

This was a narrow piece of table land, 
on the side of a somewhat barren hill, 
enclosed by a fringe of lofty elms, and 
covered thickly with patches of the fra- 
grant gorse, intersected here and there 
with one of purple heather. The trees 
threw deep shadows over a large portion of 



204 THE student's wife. 

the isolated spot they protected, and round 
all the country there was no place known 
where the breezes blew so cool and fresh 
as in this quiet and secluded *'bennel." 

" I like it," said Caroline, as they walked 
on slowly side by side, when their destina- 
tion was agreed upon, " because the idle, 
dirty urchins of the village have not yet 
converted it into a play ground, and there 
is no fear of having on^'s meditations dis- 
turbed by the howls of some wretched 
kitten or piippy, that these little unwashed 
demons are torturing for their own amuse- 
ment ; and the shade is always so deep and 
dark, so like the subdued tints of the old 
painters' landscapes. But why do you pre- 
fer this desolate looking spot, Theresa ?" 

'^ I never did till lately, and really I can 
give no reason for doing so now ; only to- 
day I long for quiet and darkness, or, at 
least, shade — shade without one gleam of 
sunshine. Caroline, I am very, very un- 
happy." 

"1 see you are, dear. May I enquire 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 205 

the reason — or is it still a profound secret, 
Theresa ?" 

" A week or two ago I would have died 
rather than confess what ails me ; but all 
my pride is quenched now; I have no 
feeling save one, and no hope to sustain 
that one- Perhaps I ought not to tell you 
an}i:hing about this ; and, I know I shall 
risk your esteem, and perhaps lose your 
friendship for ever. But, indeed, you 
cannot guess what I suffer — how I lie 
awake at nights, and watch the stars go 
out ; and count the long hours, and pray 
against that one feeling which has taken 
such entire possession of me. I never had 
a secret in mv life before — never cared to 
conceal a thought ; and, I believe I shall 
die soon, if I do not open my heart to 
somebody ; yet, I cannot tell how to do it." 

"My dear Theresa, I will spare you 
the trouble," said Caroline, in a kind and 
sympathyzing voice. '*I will guess your 
secret, if I may." 

Theresa trembled ^dsibly and turned 



206 THE student's wife. 

pale. "Can you Caroline?" I do not 
think so ; but do not try at present. Let 
us get to the "bennel," and sit down; 
here we might he heard. There is one 
who finds out everything — who I could 
fancy, reads my very thoughts. If my 
heart had room for a second powerful 

feeling, it would be hatred of . Can 

you guess this too ?" 

'' Yes ; but calm yourself now, Theresa. 
I will read to you from a little book I 
have in my pocket, till we reach our 
resting place." 

" What is it ?" 

'' ' Zimmermann on Solitude.' Do you 
know it, at all?" 

Theresa started, and appeared to recoil 
suddenly from her companion. But in 
a minute she said, with touching sadness, 
— " It is one of Ms chief favourites. How 
strangely fate seems against me. Do not 
read it aloud, Caroline. I will make 
companions of my own thoughts till we 
are in a more secluded spot." 



THE student's WIFE. 207 

In a quarter of an liour they readied 
the *' bennel," and finding a delicious little 
nook, where the gorse sprang more thickly 
and luxuriantly than elsewhere, and the 
trees flung their deepest shadows, the 
two friends seated themselves, side by 
side; and Caroline, returning '' Zimnier- 
mann" to its original hiding place, prepared 
to act the part of confidante to her still 
trembling and blushing companion. 

*' Well, Theresa, we are now away from 
all the world, and my first guess is this — 
you love Lawrence Singleton." 

A few tears falling down her bmming 
cheeks constituted Theresa's answer; and 
Caroline continued — 

'' Of course, I am not in the least sur- 
prised — nothing could be more natural; 
and, except that you look so unfeignedly 
miserable, I should ofier you my warmest 
congratulations. Now tell me, if you can, 
whence this despondency arises ?" 

" Oh ! Caroline, what a question ! How 
can you, for one moment, suppose that he 
cares one atom for me ?" 



208 THE student's wife. 

" Yet you, yourself, must have imagined 
so once, Theresa, or your attachment could 
not have ripened so rapidly as it appears 
to have done." 

" Caroline, you make me feel my degra- 
dation ; but it is right I should. And you 
do not know Lawrence. If you did, you 
would understand that he is one to be 
loved — worshipped, even — mthout any 
effort of his ot^ti. I think he looks upon 
me as a silly child — and, indeed, I am 
little else; but what I feel for him has 
matured my heart more than years of 
ordinary experience could have done. I 
had always fancied the passion of love 
a dream of delight ; to me it is simple, 
though continuous suffering." 

"Poor child! you are, indeed, altered, 
lately. But I have yet much to learn. 
Tell me, first, the reasons you had for 
imagining Mr. Singleton liked you; and 
then let me hear those you now entertain 
for fearing the reverse." 

"But the first are so slight, so ridi- 



THE student's WIFE. 209 

culous, and the last so clear and unmis- 
takable, that you will despise me as the 
weakest and vainest creature in the world." 

" Perhaps not, Theresa ; but, in any 
case, let me know all you have to tell." 

" Well, then, it began by his constantly 
fixing his eyes on me in the most earnest 
manner. I do not mean that my admira- 
tion of Lawrence originated thus, for to 
that I can affix no date, unless it might 
be the day when Mrs. Porrest repeated a 
conversation she had held with him in 
returning one night from the rectory ; but 
I mean that this habit of looking at me so 
constantly first awoke in my mind an idea 
that I was not altogether an object of 
indifference to him. But how you will 
despise me, Caroline, for these confes- 
sions ! " 

" Not at all. Your conclusion was per- 
fectly natural and reasonable. But what 
came next ?" 

" He met me one day in the garden ; 
and after some conversation — as I was 



210 THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 

going to leave liim — he asked me to stay. 
Ah ! I know you ^dll laugh at this ; hut 
my case is such a slight and meagre one, 
that I cannot afford to dispense with the 
most trifling incident." 

" Well, go on, dear. I do not see that 
it is so slight and meagre." 

Theresa's eye hrightened for a moment, 
and, in a firmer tone, she continued — 

*' After Mr. Cressingham's arrival, Law- 
rence hegan to join me in the garden, 
when I worked there in the evening. He 
sometimes helped me; hut oftener stood 
still, looking on. We talked very little 
on these occasions, and he never paid me 
the simplest compliment, or said a word 
that I could construe into anything heyond 
the commonest civility." 

" And have you nothing more to relate 
helonging to this part of the question ?" 

«« Very little. On one other occasion 
he asked me to stay with him, when I 
took a message from mamma ; and once — 
just once — he called me ' Theresa' in a 



THE student's WIFE. 211 

tone, and with a look that, at the time, 
I certainly thought indicative of some 
slight interest in me. Now, this is all, 
Caroline; the entu^e sum of proofs on 
which I dared to found a hope of heing 
loved by one as far above me as the stars 
of Heaven.'' 

Caroline was silent for a few minutes, 
and then she said — 

'* AYhat, besides the consciousness of 
your own inferiority, has recently depressed 
this hope, Theresa?" 

"Oh, a thousand things!" said the 
other, deeply blushing. " Lawrence is 
so variable in his moods. Often he does 
not seem to know when I am in the 
room; he passes me without a word or 
look. Sometimes I fancy he guesses my 
foolish love, and -fishes quietly to rebuke 
it. Arthur Cressingham taunts me with 
it, not openly, but by imputation ; and 
when I writhe beneath his cruelty — for 
cruelty it is — he seems positively to glory 
in my sufferings. I am beginning to 
tremble whenever he comes near me." 



212 THE student's wife. 

" And can you, in any way, account for 
this singular conduct on his part ?" 

'' No, except that he has a had, malicious 
character, and delights in occasioning mor- 
tification to others. " 

'^ Scarcely a reasonable explanation of 
the enigma, I think ; hut let us pass him 
by for the present. What do you intend 
to do?" 

" To do, Caroline ? What can I do, hut 
endure in silence the misery I have brought 
upon myself?" 

*' Cannot you go from home for a time ? 
Have you no friends at a distance who 
would receive you ?" 

" None ; besides, neither papa nor 
mamma would consent to my leaving 
them, imless I told them what I have 
been telling you, and this would be a 
moral impossibility." 

" I suppose so. Then shall I give you 
advice, Theresa?" 

" I should be grateful for any that would 
lift this load from my spirits ; but I have 



THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 213 

no hope of regaining the peace I have 
lost." 

" Peace, no : that, of course, in its real 
meaning, you must never expect again; 
but you may have joy, happiness, raptm^e, 
and all the other fine-sounding emotions 
which are generally accorded to mutual 
attachment. For, dear Theresa, in spite 
of your beautiful humility, I am perfectly 
convinced that Lawrence Singleton does 
not regard you with indifference." 

"Caroline!" 

" Oh, I am quite in earnest ; but don't 
exhibit that radiant look too often before 
me, or I may learn to regret that nature 
has cast me in so insensible a mould. 
After all, Theresa, this love has its mo- 
ments of compensation, and you would not 
return to your former innocent slumber if 
you could." 

*' Xot if I thought he cared the tinyest 
bit about me, or would ever do so ; but, 
shall I confess another idea that is haunt- 
ing me, Caroline ? I have, latterly, felt a 



214 THE student's wife. 

conviction that you are the person to suit 
Lawrence — that if he once saw you, his 
heart would fix itself for ever." 

" What absolute nonsense, Theresa ! 
These geniuses always exact beauty and 
simplicity in the object of their worship. 
I have none of the former, and certainly 
too little of the latter to please an ardent 
enthusiast like your Lawrence. Pray, dis- 
miss such an unfounded idea at once." 

" But you are so clever, dear Caroline ; 
you could enter into his studies, under- 
stand his enthusiasm, glory in his exalted 
intellect. Then, too, you play and sing 
beautifully. And he worships music; it 
is quite a passion with him; and I can 
barely get through the simplest air. Ah no ! 
it is too true, I can do nothing well, but 
love him." 

'' Qaite enough, dear ; but now for my 
advice, for it is already getting late. Have 
you sufficient resolution to shun this young 
man as much as possible — especially to 
avoid any tele-a-tete interviews ?" 



THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 215 

" Certainly, I can do this, Caroline." 

" Very well, but this is not all. You 
must feign indifference, even if you cannot 
feel it ; and, when you require one of the 
gentlemen to perform any trifling service 
for you, apply to Mr. Cressingham, — 
though I would strongly advise you to 
keep this one at a prudent distance also, 
till you learn more of his character. 
Above all, rally your spuits, Theresa, and 
endeavour to disposses Mr. Singleton's 
mind of the notion that he has the slis^htest 
influence over yom' gaiety or sadness." 

" I will try to follow yom^ advice, Caro- 
line. But, now, I have two favours to beg 
of you. You will not laugh at me ?" 

" No ; name them freely. I would do 
much to see you as you were." 

'' Dear Caroline, you are very good. 
One request is, that you ^yi\l give me 
lessons in music, instead of in flower 
painting ; the other, that you vnH consent 
to be introduced to Lawrence Singleton, 
and visit us at the rectory. 



216 THE student's wife. 

Caroline had promised not to laugh; 
but she could not forbear a smile, as she 
replied — 

'^ The first favour you have asked will 
afford me more pleasure in granting than 
it will, probably, do to you in receiving; 
the second, I cannot say as much for ; but 
to relieve your mind from a ridiculous 
apprehension, I will abandon my resolve 
of remaining unknown to this fascinating 
hero, and make my curtsey to him as soon 
as you please." 

" Thank you a thousand times, Caroline." 
said Theresa, somewhat wearily ; for ex- 
citement such as she had this morning 
undergone was still so new to her. *' Then 
I may come to you two or three times a 
week for my lesson?" 

''Whenever it suits you — the oftener 
the better; but let us return home now, 
or Susan will have us reported as lost or 
strayed." 



CHAPTER XVII. 



Somewhat less thaii a week after this, 
Mrs. Eorrest and Caroline were sitting 
at tea together in the little parloiu' that 
opened upon the lawn. It was a mild, 
serene evening, and they had been pro- 
posing to pay a visit to the rectory — 
Caroline's first visit — the widow being 
simply informed that Miss Ashton had 
retracted her determination concerning 
Mr. Singleton, to please Theresa, and that 
they might be more together. 

Mrs. Fori^st had heard the announce- 
ment with much satisfaction, though she 
entertained the private opinion that Caro- 
ine contemplated this step only as a means 
of getting more frequently out of Philip's 
way. Nothing could persuade this timid 
woman that her guest looked forward with 

VOL. I. L 



218 THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 

anything else than abhorrence to her wild 
nephew's arrival. 

" I am really quite anxious for this visit 
now/' said Caroline, continuing a conver- 
sation they had begun. "You think we 
shall find them all at home ?" 

'' All the family, no doubt, my dear ; 
and, I presume, you do not care particu- 
larly for the young men.'' 

'' Truly, no. I have seen one ; and, I 
believe, I have a tolerably correct idea of 
the other." 

'' Of Lawrence ? Yet Theresa does not 
talk much about him, does she ?" 

" Not very much ; but you know, when 
I first came, you both gave me a full- 
length portrait of this interesting oddity, 
and I have not forgotten it." 

" We see om^ little friend so rarely now, 
that I am seriously apprehensive the new 
pupil may have made an impression on 
her heart. He is, undoubtedly, very hand- 
some, and has most polished manners." 

Instead of replying to this, Caroline rose 
from her chair, saying — 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 219 

*'If YOU will excuse my leaving the 
table before you, I will put aside my paint 
box, and remove the vase containing that 
delicate flower I am copying out of harm's 
way. Susan would be exceedingly likely 
to knock it down, in one of her quick, 
bustling moments ; and I shall never get 
such another beauty." 

"Do, my dear," said Mrs. Forrest; and 
she was about adding some remark on 
Caroline's skill in painting from nature, 
when a sudden and violent peal from the 
garden bell caused both ladies to pause 
and look at each other inquiringly. 

" It cannot be Philip, of course," the 
^ddow faltered, at length, in a tone which 
betrayed that she entertained no doubt 
whatever on the subject. And scarcely 
were the words uttered, when a firm step 
was heard on the gravel path, followed by 
the abrupt and noisy entrance of a very 
dusty-looking individual through the open 
glass doors of the sitting-room. 

" My best of aunts, here I am at last," 

L 2 



220 THE student's wife. 

exclaimed a merry, youthful voice, in 
animated accents, while the owner of it 
darted towards the pale widow and lite- 
rally enclosed her in his strong arms, 
imprinting a multitude of kisses on her 
lips, cheek, and brow. Then turning, 
when this ceremony was over, to the 
astonished Caroline, who was just medi- 
tating an escape from the apartment, he 
rehearsed the preceding scene with all the 
effrontery imaginable, wholly regardless 
of the poor girl's indignant efforts to free 
herself from this most unexpected em- 
brace; and exclaiming — perhaps by way 
of apology — " My dear cousin, too, as I 
perceive by the striking likeness ! — how 
delighted I am to see you. Come, you 
can't be prudish with such a near relation ; 
besides, nobody minds me." 

Poor Mrs. Porrest, who was much nearer 
fainting than she had ever been in her life, 
tried vainly to raise her trembling voice, 
for the purpose of rectifying Philip's mis- 
take. Not a word would come, and she 



THE student's WIFE. 221 

was forced to stand a horror-stricken, 
spell-bound Tiitness of the insult offered 
to her quiet, dignified guest. But Caro- 
line, herself, the instant she was released 
from the stranger's arms, drew up her 
slight figure, and said, in a perfectly lady- 
like, but decided, tone — 

" Mr. Maranham, if I do not demand an 
instant apology for this extraordinary free- 
dom to a lady you have never before seen, 
it is because I owe a deep debt of grati- 
tude to your estimable aunt ; and because 
I feel persuaded, when you hear that no 
relationship exists betw^een us, this con- 
duct will never be repeated." 

Philip looked at the speaker in mo- 
mentary, but amusmg consternation; and 
would, probably, have replied to her start- 
ling address had not two enormous dogs 
rushed, at this instant, upon the scene, 
and commenced their installation by over- 
turning Caroline's painting table, and 
effecting the complete destruction of vase, 
flower, and all. 



222 THE student's wife. 

Miss Ashton was half out of the room 
when this disaster occurred ; but not hav- 
ing the heart to leave Mrs. Porrest in the 
midst of such terrible confusion, she now 
returned, and, mastering her natural fear 
of the powerful animals who were career- 
ing wildly about the apartment, she 
stooped to pick up the broken vase which 
had held her precious flower, leaving 
Philip to set the table on its legs, and to 
coax his unmannerly favourites into more 
becoming conduct. It was quite amusing 
to listen to him now. 

" Down, down you fiends, you devils ! 
Can't you be quiet for a moment ? Here 
Tantalus — lie down, sir. My dearest aunt, 
I am overwhelmed with shame — I feel 
myself the greatest criminal on the face 
of the earth. Come here, Charon, you 
beast ! My kindest cousin, you must in- 
tercede for me with your best of mothers. 
Oh, what an unfortunate dog I am, to 
make such an entree !'' 

Mrs. Porrest now found her voice, though 
it was still but a very faint one — 



THE student's WIFE. 223 

"My dear nephew," she said, gently 
ringing the hell at the same time, " I will, 
with your permission, have tliese animals 
removed to the kitchen for the present, and 
then I shall he al^le to give a better wel- 
come to my sister's child ; and also, per- 
haps, to convmce him that the young lady, 
who has just exhibited such admirable 
forbearance, is neither my daughter, nor 
his cousin; but simply a most esteemed 
and honoured guest." 

These words — the first his aunt had 
addressed to him — appeared to make more 
impression on Philip than anything that 
had yet occurred. He siezed her hand 
when she ceased speaking, and kissed it 
warmly ; then, turning again to Caroline, 
he said, with an irresistible smile of good 
humour — 

*' I am delighted to find that, if not a 
relation, you are, at least, a guest of my 
good aunt's, and that I shall, there- 
fore, have ample opportunities of making 
my peace with you. You look very amia- 



224 THE student's wife. 

ble ; so let us shake hands, and be friends 
from this moment. My name is Philip 
Maranham, and yours is " 

"Caroline Asliton ! — Miss Ashton, I 
should say" — put in Mrs. Forrest, who was 
growing too bewildered to be perfectly 
conscious of what she was about. 

" Oh, hang the 'Miss' and the 'Ashton,"' 
said Philip, squeezing the hand which 
Caroline had frankly offered him, till the 
poor girl was nearly crying out with pain. 
" Caroline is quite enough, isn't it ? — or 
Carry ; that is better still. So now. Carry, 
we understand each other ; and I am your 
sworn knight for ever and for ever." 

It was quite impossible to be angry with 
him, though unfeigned astonishment was 
certainly painted on the faces of both 
ladies ; but Philip was, happily, micon- 
scious of exciting either surprise or dis- 
pleasure; and, when the dogs had been 
removed, he declared liimself capable of 
eating a roasted ox; and said he would 
first retire and change his travel-soiled 



THE STX'DENT .S WIFE. 

dress, and then join his dear aunt and her 
sweet friend at the tea-table. 

There was a dead silence for a few 
minutes after he had left the room, which 
wo -n. at len^h, bv a remark &t)m 

Car jiiiiHj to the effect that she thought 
Mr. Maranham had a most prepossessing 
comitenauce. 

" He is the image of my beloved sister," 
said Air?. Forrest, ^ith tears shining in 
her T • • ^ ^ j2ot been for this 

re- . 1^ . >iii'iL Lti^i^erved me from the 

fii'st. I ^hjiild not have suffered his con- 
duet to you, my dear ^liss Ashton, to pass 
unreproved. I feel, however, more grate- 
ful than I can express for the gentleness 
and indulgence you have shown." 

'' Don't speak of it again," replied Caro- 
line, with a deep and sudden blush. ''Your 
nephew is very young. He seems to have 
quite the Irish character — ^warm, impetu- 
ous, and um-edee- "!:2 ; but, I have no fear 
of his repeating iLi- '; zenee ; and I forgive 

him fullv and ireelv." 

v ■ 

L 3 



226 THE student's wife. 

" We must abandon our projected ex- 
cursion this evening — at least I must ; 
and I trust you will remain with us, my 
dear/' 

" I think not," said Caroline. " I am 
really anxious to see Theresa; and you 
must have so many family matters to dis- 
cuss. I will make my escape before your 
nephew returns." 

*'Well, as you please, my love; but 
it is getting' late even now. Shall I send 
Susan to fetch you ?" 

" Oh, no ; my visit will be a short one, 
and I rather prefer a solitary walk ' in the 
gloaming.'" 

Caroline made haste to dress herself, 
and intended to pass out by the back 
door, as she thought, if Philip saw her 
he might offer himself as an escort, or, 
at least, give her poor hand such another 
gripe as that from which it was still 
smarting. But her plan proved singularly 
unsuccessful ; for the individual she wished 
to avoid was feeding his dogs by the 



227 



kitchen fire as she passed thi-ough, and 
he demanded instantly where she was 
going. 

*'To pay a visit, Mr. Maranham." 

" Say Philip next time. But how far 
have you to go ?" 

*' Less than a quarter of a mile. To 
the rectory." 

"AYhoHves there?" 

" Several persons ; but I cannot stay to 
talk now, or I shall be benighted." 

*^ Can't I go with you?" 

" No ; by the time your ox is consumed, 
it would be too late." 

"But I will give u}^ the ox. Do let 
me go." 

"Thank you; but I must still decline. 
Yoiu^ aunt anticipates spending the even- 
ing with you. Good night." 

" Good night, sweet Carrj^, if it must 
be so. I am falling in love much faster 
than I ever did in my life." 

Miss Ashton drew her shawl round her, 
pulled do^TL her veil, and passed out. 



CHAPTER XVIII 



The family at the rectory were all at 
home; and in the parlour, to which 
Miss Ashton was conducted, she found 
Dr. and Mrs. Berrington and Theresa, 
apparently discussing some very im- 
portant or interesting suhject, which her 
sudded entrance of course interrupted. 

The clergyman and his wife received 
Caroline with marked kindness, said many 
flattering things to her, and hoped, that 
now the ice was hroken, she would hecome 
a constant visitor. 

Theresa, who was looking much flushed 
and excited, kissed her friend repeatedly, 
asked a few questions about Mrs. Porrest, 
and listened, with as much attention as 
she could, to the account of Philip's arrival, 



THE student's WIFE. 229 

in which, however, it is but fair to say, 
the most piquant incidents were omitted. 

*' I must show you the garden before 
it gets later," Miss Berrington said, sud- 
denly, on the first pause in the conyersa- 
tion. And Caroline, whose ciuisoity was 
faMy awakened, got up instantly, and 
followed her conductor. 

They reached one of the shadiest of 
the lab^Tinthine walks, and then Theresa 
stood still ; and after booking searchingly 
on all sides, began eagerly — 

" Caroline, I haye something to tell 
you." 

" Which has made you yery happy, dear 
Theresa ; is it not so ?" 

'' Happy ? I don't quite know. I think 
my heart is too full for happiness. I ac- 
tually tremble at my own feelings ; but 
you shall hear what has occurred." 

"And congratulate you, too, I hope, 
Theresa" 

"Not for what you think; but listen. 
When last we parted, I had resolved on 



230 THE student's wipe. 

adopting your advice; so I came home, 
and kept out of Mr. Singleton's way all 
that day and the next — feeling more 
miserable and desponding than I can tell 
you. The following morning, at breakfast 
— you know this is the only meal we all 
take together — papa, after looking ear- 
nestly at me for some minutes, said, 
abruptly, — ' Tessie, you are growing quite 
pale and thin. You don't take sufficient 
exercise. I shall ^-o over to Oxendean, 
in a day or two, and see if I can't get a 
pony for you. This has been a long 
standing promise; but I am quite in 
earnest now.'" 

"Of course," continued Theresa, "my 
paleness vanished the same moment that 
it was commented upon, as I knew that 
every eye was directed inquisitively towards 
my poor face. I longed to know how 
Lawrence was looking; but I had not 
courage at first to meet the penetrating 
glance which I seemed to feel was upon 
me. At last, when general conversation 



THE STIJDEXt's WIFE. 231 

was resumed, I ventured to turn my eyes 
to the part of the tahle where he sat ; and, 
as I suspected, he was gazing steadily, 
inquiringly, and, I thought, sorrowfully at 
my troubled countenance. I felt the tears 
rush to mv eves. Oh, Caroline I am I not 
lamentably weak ? — and immediatly after, 
he rose quietly and left the room." 

" Did you follow, Theresa ?" 

" No. AYhen breakfast was over, papa 
told me to go out for a walk, to call upon 
Mrs. Porrest ; but, I had not the heart to 
do it. I said nothing, but went to my 
own room, and remained there alone the 
whole morning. I wished earnestly to see 
Lawrence. The idea that he attributed my 
altered looks to himself, distressed me — 
his strange glance haunted me ; and about 
one o'clock, the hour when the young men 
usually stroll in the garden, I proceeded 
thither with a book, and, sitting under the 
large walnut tree, waited anxiously for 
^Ii\ Singleton's appearance. But I waited 
in vain ; and found, to my disgust, that I 



\ 



230 THE student's wife. 

adopting your advice; so I came home, 
and kept out of Mr. Singleton's way all 
that day and the next — feeling more 
miserable and desponding than I can tell 
you. The following morning, at breakfast 
— you know this is the only meal we all 
take together — papa, after looking ear- 
nestly at me for some minutes, said, 
abruptly, — * Tessie, you are growing quite 
pale and thin. You don't take sufficient 
exercise. I shall ^'O over to Oxendean, 
in a day or two, and see if I can't get a 
pony for you. This has been a long 
standing promise; but I am quite in 
earnest now.'" 

"Of course," continued Theresa, "my 
paleness vanished the same moment that 
it was commented upon, as I knew that 
every eye was directed inquisitively towards 
my poor face. I longed to know how 
Lawrence was looking; but I had not 
courage at first to meet the penetrating 
glance which I seemed to feel was upon 
me. At last, when general conversation 



THE student's WIFE. 231 

was resumed, I ventured to turn my eyes 
to the part of the table where he sat ; and, 
as I suspected, he was gazing steadily, 
inquiringly, and, I thought, sorrowfully at 
my troubled countenance. I felt the tears 
rush to my eyes. Oh, Caroline ! am I not 
lamentably weak ? — and immediatly after, 
he rose quietly and left the room." 

" Did you foUow, Theresa ?" 

" No. AYhen breakfast was over, papa 
told me to go out for a walk, to call upon 
Mrs. Eorrest ; but, I had not the heart to 
do it. I said notliing, but went to my 
own room, and remained there alone the 
whole morning. I wdshed earnestly to see 
Lawrence. The idea that he attributed my 
altered looks to himself, distressed me — 
his strange glance haunted me ; and about 
one o'clock, the hour when the young men 
usually stroll in the garden, I proceeded 
thither with a book, and, sitting under the 
large walnut tree, waited anxiously for 
]\Ir. Singleton's appearance. But I waited 
in vain ; and found, to my disgust, that I 



234 THE student's wife. 

to my very soul. But I was spared the 
necessity of replying to this home ques- 
tion by the entrance of mamma and the 
breakfast. I could not eat much, as you 
may suppose ; and when everybody had 
finished, Lawrence asked me to walk 
round the garden with him — a request I 
was too weak to refuse. ' You have eaten 
no breakfast,' he said, when we had 
got out of hearing ; ' why didn't you ? ' 
' Because I was not hungry,' was my 
natural reply. ' Then you must be ill,' he 
retorted, ' and you ought to have a physi- 
cian. Is there a good one here ?' 'I don't 
know,' I answered ; ' but I do know that 
I am very well, and that I wish nobody 
would notice me.' Presently he asked 
whether I would take a ride with him in 
the afternoon, if he could find a pretty, 
quiet pony for me. I said it must depend 
on mamma, and we went in together to 
prefer the petition. Now, if it had been 
Arthur Cressingham, I am sure the answer 
would have been a decided ' No;' but Law- 



THE student's wiee. 235 

rence is difPerent : not a living soul could 
suspect him of a desire to flirt, or of 
ha\ing any other object in what he does 
than a simple and straightforward one. 
So mamma declared he was excessively 
kind, and readily gave her consent to my 
going. "Well, about four o'clock, Mr. 
Singleton came into the parlour and 
announced that the horses were at the 
door. I hastened to equip myself in a 
riding skii't that used to serve for my 
donkey expeditions at the seaside, and 
then, accompanied by mamma, I proceeded 
to the front door, where, beside Lawrence's 
OAvn horse, stood the most beautiful black 
pony I ever saw, with new saddle and 
bridle and everytliing complete. Mamma 
immediately began a string of questions, 
as to where he had procm-ed it, &c., &c.; 
but Lawrence told me to mount, and 
assured us both he would answer all in- 
quiries when the ride was over. ' Caroline, 
if you are not a rider yoiu^self, you can 
have no idea of the really exquisite enjoy- 



236 THE student's wife. 

ment this exercise is capable of producing.' 
To me it is almost bewildering at any time, 
and now, with him beside me, with his 
voice continually sounding in my ear, with 
all the wild hopes (which this day's inci- 
dents had renewed) whispering their sweet 
music in my heart, I felt — ah ! I could 
never tell you what my feelings were ; I 
think I am mad still to talk about them, 
as I am doing." 

" I like to hear you, Theresa ; but what 
did Lawrence say to you during this en- 
chanting ride ?" 

'' Oh ! he was all kindness and attention, 
though, certainly, in a very composed and 
quiet way ; but then, you see, this is his 
nature — there is no lightness or frivolity 
about him. He talked about books, asked 
me what style of reading I preferred ; then 
we spoke of music, and I told him you 
were going to give me lessons in singing." 

" And what reply did he make to this ?" 

"None at all. He smiled to himself, 
and remained silent for some minutes." 



THE student's WIFE. 237 

"But do you mean, Theresa, that, 
durinor all the time vou were alone to- 
gether, Mr. Smgleton said nothing that 
you could construe into an acknowledg- 
ment of attachment, on his part, towards 
you?" 

" Oh ! he said nothing," replied Theresa, 
eagerly ; " but, surely, actions are more 
eloquent than words, and you shall hear 
now what he did. After being out at 
least two hours — although it seemed far 
less to me — I proposed returning home, 
and Lawrence offered no objection. Papa, 
who had been absent all the morning, was 
standing, with mamma and Arthur Cres- 
singham, in front of the house when we 
arrived. The latter came forward to assist 
me in dismounting, but I was determined 
not to give him my hand, because he had 
such a mocking, disagreeable smile on his 
face ; so I called to papa — who was looking 
rather graver than I liked — and I told him 
I had enjoyed my ride excessively, and 
that if he really meant to give me a pony, 



238 THE student's wife. 

I hoped it would be just such a quiet 
darling as this one. 'To whom does this 
belong, Singleton?' said papa, as Law- 
rence got off his horse and came up to me* 
'To your daughter,' was the quiet reply; 
and, Avithout another word, he led his own 
horse to the stable and then went, through 
a different entrance, into the house." 

'' Well, what followed ? This is really 
quite an exciting story, Theresa." 

" It was now their dinner time ; so papa 
and mamma only looked at each other, and 
then at me, in speechless amazement. 
Arthur Cressingham accompanied us into 
the dining-room, and then I left them to 
take off my riding dress ; and mamma 
soon followed me to demand an explanation 
of what Lawrence had said. Of course I 
could give none, being quite as much 
astonished myself at receiving such a 
beautiful present. So we waited patiently 
till papa had finished dinner to hear what 
he would say; and, when you arrived, 
he had but just joined us, and a grave 



THE student's WIFE. 239 

discussion was taking place as to the pro- 
priety of alloT\'ing me to accept the pony. 
I am sure they have, neither of them, the 
least idea that Lawrence means an}i:hing 
beyond simple kindness ; so, I conclude 
the argument will end in my favour. But 
Oh, Caroline ! how can I thank Mr. Single- 
ton ? — what can I say ? I feel like a person 
in a confused though happy dream." 

Caroline Ashton remained in thoughtful 
silence for a few minutes, then she said, 
*' I am afraid, Theresa, now your affairs 
have reached this point, I shall prove but 
an indifferent ad\dser. It certainly appears 
strange to me that Mr. Singleton should 
give you a handsome present, and yet 
neglect the very favourable opportunity 
he had, during your ride, to express the 
feelings which you think, and / think, his 
conduct plainly indicates. A\^iere is he 
to-night ? I am quite curious to become 
acquainted with him now.'' 

" I believe he has gone out again with 
Mr. Cressingham. But let us return to 



240 THE student's wife. 

the house, or mamma will say I have 
monopolized you altogether." 

Caroline declared she should only have 
time to make her adieus to Dr. and Mrs. 
Berrington, as she was not in the hahit of 
being out alone at so late an hour. Theresa 
regretted that Mr. Cressingham was not at 
home, as he would have been delighted, 
she said, to oflPer his services to Miss 
Ashton." 

"But," replied the latter, "I should 
rather have accepted Mr. Singleton's arm, 
if you had raised no objection." 

Theresa opened wide her eyes, and fixed 
them on the speaker's face. "Oh," she 
said, with a sudden coldness of manner, 
" I have no doubt he would feel infinitely 
flattered by your preference, and be most 
happy to accompany you home. It is, 
indeed, a pity that he is not here." 

" So it is," replied Caroline, dryly ; " for, 
as he is fond of music, I might have played 
and sung to him." 

"You will not long be without an 



THE student's WIFE. 241 

opportunity of doing so. I will suggest to 
him the propriety of calling on Mrs. Por- 
rest.'' 

"Thank you, dear — that is just what I 
should like." 

Theresa burst into tears. 

"There, that ^\'ill do you good, you 
jealous little thing," said Caroline, putting 
her arm round her companion's waist, and 
gazing at her ^dtli the protecting tender- 
ness of an elder sister. Your nerves have 
been over-excited, and crying vrill prove an 
excellent tonic for them; but do not let 
them flow longer on my account. I only 
wanted to see whether your natm^e was 
prone to jealousy ; and now understand — 
once and for ever — that I would not 
stand in the way of your happiness for all 
the LaT\'rence Singletons in the world; 
and, moreover, — believing as I do that 
every throb of your little losing heart is 
influenced by this incomprehensible indi- 
vidual, — I will use my utmost efforts to 
bring about a definite understanding be- 

VOL. I. M 



242 THE student's wife. 

tween you. Now, should you object to 
trust him with me, Theresa ?" 

A sobbing ' No' and a fervent pressure 
of Caroline's hand were the only answers 
to this; and then the latter, after taking 
a hasty leave of her friend's parents, and 
bidding Theresa be of good cheer, set out 
upon her solitary Avalk to the cottage. 



CHAPTER XIX 



Caroline did not see Mrs. Forrest or her 
nephew again that night, as on her arrival 
she retired to her own room, and sent word 
that she was going to bed. But on de- 
scending in the morning to the breakfast 
parlour, she found Philip presiding at the 
j^reliminary meal of Tantalus and Charon, 
who both growled sulkily on Caroline's 
entrance, and looked very much disposed, 
she fancied, to exercise their teeth ane^^ 
upon her. 

" Oh, I am so glad you are come at last," 
said Philip, making two strides across the 
room to seize Miss Ashton's hand. *' Do 
you know I have been dreaming about you 
all night, though I never got a wink of 
sleep. Come, say something pretty and 
kind to me — won't you ? It's no joke to 

M 2 



244 THE student's wipe. 

lose an entire night's rest, after such a 
journey as mine." 

''What am I to say, Mr. Maranham ?" 
asked Caroline, sitting down as far as she 
could from Tantalus and Charon. 

" Surely your own heart might suggest 
something — such as, ' I am truly grieved, 
dear Philip, that you should have failed to 
repose mth that serenity which your spot- 
less conscience ought to insure ; but if I 
can atone for this disappointment by any 
little extra favour or indulgence, believe 
me, I shall only be too happy to do so.' 
Have I interpreted your sentiment, fair 
Carry?" 

" Most skilfully, of course.' Now, what 
favour, or indulgence do you require ?" 

'' Ah, let me see. I should not mind a 
friendly kiss to begin with." 

" Really, you are very moderate in your 
demands ! And, supposing this granted, 
what would be your next request ?" 

" Oh, we won't play at ' supposings,' if 
you please. Give me the kiss, and then 
I'll think of something else." 



THE STUDENT S WIFE. 245 

" No ; I must exact the whole catalogue 
of your requirements first. I cannot grant 
favours in the dark." 

'' You are not such a good-natured gui 
as I took you for, after all ; but, let me 
reflect. Well now, when you have kissed 
me, I shall probably ask you to go for a 
walk with me. You go — we're only sup- 
posing, of course — and then, as a natural 
sequence to this, I shall require you to 
spend the evening with me — to play, sing, 
read, and talk, till all my heart is won ; 
upon which I shall entreat of you to give 
me yours in return, and we shall have a 
wedding and a bridal tour, and end, like a 
fairy tale, by li\ing very happy ever after- 
wards. Xow, please to kiss me, mia bella 
sposa'' 

"Thank you," said Caroline, mth admi- 
rably preserved gravity ; " but, since you 
have opened to my view the consequences, 
I must decline taking this first step. Im- 
possible, I should imagine, for two natures 
to be more antagonistic than yom^s and 



246 THE student's wife. 

mine ; but we may be firm friends, not- 
withstanding ; we may even be Caroline 
and Philip to each other with perfect 
safety; for, between us, there will ever 
exist a moral wall of separation, which 
would be as difficult for me to step over as 
that physical one, in the person of your 
dog' Charon, who now forbids my approach- 
ing you to offer my hand on this compact, 
by stretching his formidable body across 
that part of the room I should be obliged 
to traverse." 

" Ah, you are cold, icy cold," said Philip, 
with a look of real disappointment. '' I 
might have known that England could 
produce nothing warm, or fresh, or genial. 
Here, come to me, old friends" — turning 
to the sleepy dogs — " you, at least, have 
Irish hearts, and Ave must console each 
other." ^ 

There was a striking plaintiveness in 
Philip's voice as he spoke these words, 
something so entirely at variance with his 
former wild, dare-devil manner, that Caro- 



THE student's WIFE. 247 

line looked up at him in pure astonish- 
ment, and she was on the point of 
giving expression to some gentle, soothing 
thought which her kind heart had sug- 
gested, and which, if spoken at that par- 
ticular moment, might have entered into 
Pliilip's soul, and changed materially both 
their destinies, when Mrs. Forrest came 
suddenly into the room ; and they all sat 
down to breakfast. 

'' I fear," said the widow, when the 
first pause in her nephew's rattling, but 
certainlv amusinfir, nonsense allowed her 
an opportunity of speaking, — "I fear, 
Philip, that you will soon be disgusted 
with Elderton. There is no society be- 
yond the rectory, and Miss Ashton and 
myself are such very quiet people." 

Philip made an expressive grimace as he 
replied — " Then I am afraid I shall become 
mischievous — pour 2)asser le temps. But 
I suppose this delectable neighbom^hood 
abounds in the pictm-esque. Cannot the 
amiable Caroline introduce me to some 



248 THE student's wipe. 

woodland glade or wild hill side, where I 
may dream of elves and fairies, and bewail 
my lonely lot ?" 

" I shall he happy to take a walk with 
you hy and bye," said Caroline, quietly, 
"if, at least, you can insure me from 
heing eaten up hy your hungry dogs. 
Mrs. Eorrest knows what a coward I am." 

" Oh ! they won't hurt you," replied 
Philip, a little disdainfully. '* But when 
shall you he ready to start ?" 

'' In about an hour. I have employ- 
ments that will detain me till then." 

'' But you are not going to leave this 
room ?" 

" Indeed I am. Your aunt is good 
enough to allow me apartments of my own, 
where I generally spend the morning." 

" And can't I spend it with you ? I am 
very harmless, upon my honour." 

'^ I have no doubt you are ; but I must, 
nevertheless, decline receiving you to-day. 
If you are fond of reading, I can lend you 
plenty of books." 



THE student's WIFE. 249 

'* Have you smythmg more interesting 
than a Preneh Gramnier or a ' Pinnock's 
History of England ?' " 

"That depends upon your taste," said 
Caroline, gravely. '' I have * Mason on 
Self-knowledge' and ' Harvey's Medita- 
tions among the Tombs.' " 

''Thank you. You don't happen, also, 
to possess ' The Whole Duty of Man,' do 
you? — because, if so, I'll take the three, 
and go and bury myself, Avith them, under 
one of the yew trees in Elderton church- 
yard!" 

" I will see what I can find," answered 
Caroline, as, ha\ing finished breakfast, she 
rose and went out of the room. 

Mrs. Forrest, who had been an attentive 
listener to the foregoing dialogue, looked 
earnestly at her nepliew when they were 
alone, as if she would fain read liis opinion 
of their recent companion. Eut Philip 
was the first to speak. 

''That is evidently a clever girl," he 
said, abruptly, "and she has a fair and 

M 3 



250 THE student's wife. 

pleasant face. What a pity she should not 
have a warm, Irish heart !" 

'* But you must not suppose, Philip," 
replied his aunt, " that it is only in Ire- 
land that warm hearts are to be found. 
Many among the English may rival even 
your country people in this respect. Caro- 
line Ashton is a most amiable young lady ; 
but she is not even the type of a class — at 
least, I have never met with another at all 
resembling her." 

" Then, you, too, think she is cold ?" 

''Yes. This certainly appears to me 
the great defect in her character ; and yet 
she is one of the least selfish persons I ever 
knew." 

"If she hadn't been so confoundedly 
cold," began Philip, half to himself; but 
passing out into the garden, where his 
dogs were basking in the sun, the rest of 
the sentence was lost to Mrs. Porrest for 
ever. 

A few minutes after the expiration of 
the stipulated hour, Caroline, very neatly 



THE student's WIFE. 251 

and becomingly dressed, joined Philip on 
the lawn, and announced that she was 
ready to walk with him. He started up 
immediately from his recumbent posture, 
looked at her steadily for a few seconds, 
then whistled to his dogs, and offered his 
arm to the younsr ladv. 

'^ Where are we going?" were his first 
words when the garden gate had closed 
upon them. *' Have you any woods about 
Elderton?" 

" Yes ; but they are too far to reach 
to-day. We must keep to the lanes and 
fields." 

" I hate pastoral scenery ; but every- 
thing, I suspect, will prove tame and flat 
in England." 

"It is a pity you came." 

" I begin to think so too. Why don't 
vou call me a savas^e. Miss Ashton?" 

" Because you are not one." 

" What am I then ?" 

" A young man who has been very much 
spoiled, and who is now in a bad temper." 



252 THE student's wipe. 

"You are extremely polite. Perhaps 
you will, also, be good enough to inform 
me what has occasioned this bad temper ?" 

" No ! we can none of us look into each 
others' hearts ; and those who presume to 
judge of inward feelings by the outward 
manner, are likely to fall into very fatal 
errors." 

" Then, pray, how are we to judge ?" 

" I think we are told that it is well to 
avoid all judgment of our neighbours. In 
the present case, I am quite disposed to 
obey this precept, and thus save myself 
from the possibility of any uncharitable 
conclusions." 

" How do you mean ?" 

" That, by forbearing to search into the 
cause of your ill humour, I cannot attri- 
bute to you more unworthy feelings or 
fancies than you actually possess; which 
I might do, if I ventured upon a pre- 
mature judgment of one who is almost a 
stranger to me." 

" What, if I told you that my ill humour. 



THE STrDEXT S WIPE. 253 

as you call it, arises from the judgment my 
reason has passed upon your inward feel- 
ings — exhibited, of coiu'se, through your 
outward manner." 

" I shall say that my outward manner 
was unfortmiate in having given offence to 
Mr. Philip ]\Iaranham ; but that it is now 
too old to change its garb or amend its 
ways." 

After a pretty long interregnum, during 
which Pliilip was rude enough to vrhistle 
an Irish ah, he said, suddenly — 

'' Pray, Miss Caroline Ashton, where 
were you educated ?" 

"At Eairfield House, Kensington, near 
London," was her prompt reply; "but I 
fear thev would not receire vou as a 
boarder." 

" I am not going to ask them,'" he said, 
rather an^rilv. "I was onlv thinkinsr 
that the head of the establishment ouorht 
to have a gold medal for tm-ning out 
such a finished pattern of propriety as 
yom^self." 



254 THE student's wife. 

" I am glad you approve of me. Shall 
we rest a few minutes under this venerable 
oak ?" 

"Philip threw himself on the ground, 
and summoned Tantalus and Charon, who 
still appeared to view Caroline with any- 
thing but a friendly eye. 

"Won't you stroke the dogs ?" said the 
former, observing that his companion kept 
somewhat aloof from himself and his 
favourites. " There can be nothing against 
the rules of Eairfield House in that, I 
should think.'' 

" Perhaps, when I know them better, I 
may approach and even touch them with- 
out fear," replied Caroline, taking no 
notice of his pettishness ; " but, at present, 
I must decline any familiarities with those 
fierce looking satellites of yours, whose 
beauty I have, nevertheless, sufiicient 
taste to admire." 

" Philip curled his lip, and said, pre- 
sently, " It is well that you are as cautious 
with the dogs as you are with their 



THE student's aviee. 255 

master, or I might strangle them in a fit 
of spite. I suppose the real fact is, that 
you have o>ot a lover somewhere in the 
vicinity of Eairfield House, who has for- 
bid your being the least friendly to other 
men/' 

''I have no loA'er," replied Caroline, 
'' and never had. Mv nature is uncon- 
scious of any yearnings for that sort of 
affection." 

"Hang me, if I didn't think so!" 
exclaimed Philip, with startling energy. 
" One might as well try to melt Snowdon 
with a bit of hot peat, as to make an im- 
pression on such a heart as yours." 

Caroline smiled, and the least possible 
tinge of colour passed like a shadow over 
lier face, and escaped Philip's observation, 
who soon continued — 

" Unfortunately for me, I cannot boast 
of an equal degree of insensibility. I have 
a vrWd, constant, and torturing craving for 
this very affection which you despise. My 
firm comdction is, that I am doomed never 



256 THE student's wife. 

to inspire it — that I sliall pass through 
life tolerated by many of my fellow beings 
— ^liked by a few, and loved, really, truly, 
devotedly loved, by none. Prom a child 
I have been possessed by this fierce thirst 
for human love. I say possessed, for it 
holds me as firmly as the demoniacs held 
their miserable victims in ancient days. 
I cannot get away from it, and already it 
has led me into dangers innumerable — into 
the water and into the fire. I have never 
been seriously in love myself, not because 
my nature is incapable of the passion — 
every bounding pulse will tell a different 
tale — ^but because I have never happened 
to meet the individual whom fate has 
reserved to make my torment or my joy — 
joy, did I say ? No, I feel it will be only 
bitterness and despair. Caroline Ashton, 
you are in for it now. Don't open those 
soft eyes, whose expression at times con- 
tradicts the cold words that fall from your 
icy lips ; don't look as if you suspected a 
madman beside you. I am not this. I 



THE student's "WIFE. 257 

only mean, that since you have yourself 
pronounced the inipossihility of ever be- 
coming nearer or dearer to me, I have 
elected you to the dignity of my confidante. 
You have a kind heart, though not a warm 
one, and you are imselfish — so the office 
will suit you well. What do you say ? Is 
it a mutual agreement ?" 

'' If I am to have a choice in the matter," 
replied Caroline, '* I shall Leg to dechne 
the honour vou wish to confer on me, 
unless" — she paused for a moment — "un- 
less I could really do you any good by 
listening to your revelations." 

" Upon my soul, you are a strange girl," 
said Philip, trying to look into the face 
which his companion, with apparent in- 
tention, kept averted from him. " You 
begin your speech in a tone sufficiently 
freezing to convert everything around you 
into a mass of petrifactions, and you finish 
it in a voice as soft and plaintive as the 
notes of an iEolian harp. Caroline, do 
let me see your face, if you please." 



258 THE student's wiee. 

Caroline turned and smiled. 
" Thank you. There is something 
serene and yet cheering in the expression 
of your eyes : they are beautiful eyes, 
Caroline, and I read in them now that you 
will be my friend and counsellor, that I 
may regard you as a faithful sister, and 
look to you at all times for indulgence, 
sympathy, and — platonic affection. TeU 
me if I have read correctly." 

" If you are satisfied with this reading, 
let it be so ; only do not reckon too much 
on my indulgence. To be really faithful, 
I must be sincere and just." 

a There, now you have adopted the 
freezing tone again, and the very air has 
become chilly and ungenial. Let us go 
home." 



CHAPTER XX 



"Theresa, my dear," said Mrs. Berring- 
ton, as she came into the breakfast -room, 
key-basket in hand, the morning after 
Caroline's visit, " had you not better go 
now and thank Mr. Singleton for his 
handsome present. He is quite alone in 
the studA^ and the others will not be 
down just yet." 

*' Yes, mamma, I will go immediately," 
replied Theresa, di'opjoing all her working 
implements in succession, and becoming 
red and pale alternately in the exertion of 
picking them up. 

'* But do not stay to chatter, my love,'* 
continued the prudent mamma, " as I have 
a little atfau' to consult you about before 
papa comes down. Why, Tessie, how 



260 THE student's wife. 

clumsy you are this morning; you have 
dropped those scissors at least four times." 

Theresa huddled all the things together, 
and hastened to leave the room. 

There was only a short passage between 
the breakfast-room and the study, and one 
that generally occupied about a minute in 
traversing ; but, on the present occasion, 
Theresa contrived to make the one minute 
nearely ten ; and, when these were expked, 
to linger still on the outside of the study 
door, as if the interior contained something 
from which she naturally and instinctively 
recoiled. 

Ask her if it is so, and listen for the 
answer, made amidst the wild throbbings 
of that simple and truthful heart. It says, 
" I tremble at my own happiness — I shrink 
not from Mm, but from myself; from 
feelings which will not be concealed when 
that voice is ringing in my ear. I long 
and yet dread to hear him own he loves 
me. I could almost fancy that my senses 
will flee away in the presence of such 



THE student's WIFE. 261 

exceeding joy ; and vet, I know now that 
it is — that it must be so. Lawrence — my 
Lawrence loves me.'' 

Theresa heard the clock strike : it only 
wanted a quarter of an hour to break- 
fast time, and there was not a minute now 
to lose. She grasped the handle of the 
door with nervous haste, turned it quickly, 
and stood within the room. 

Lawrence was writing, near the win- 
dow ; but he looked up on hearing some 
one enter, and put down his pen when he 
found it was Theresa. She was too much 
agitated to think of the ordinary morning 
greeting; so, without even a word of 
apology for the intrusion, she began — 

" I have come, Mr. Singleton, to do 
what your abrupt departm'e, as well as 
the surprise I felt, prevented me doing 
yesterday — ^to thank you, I mean, for a 
present which is far too handsome for me, 
and which both papa and mamma feel 
quite distressed at your having purchased." 

If Lawrence Singleton thought, because 



262 THE student's wife. 

of these cold, formal words, that there was 
any deficiency of gratitude — warm, ardent 
gratitude — in Theresa's heart, he must 
have been something more than a matter- 
of-fact fool; but, perhaps, he did not 
think so, for he replied the moment the 
first speaker paused — 

" And are you distressed, also, Theresa ?" 

'* How can I be ?" she said, softly ; then 
added immediately — " I feel only that it is 
too good for me; that I am altogether 
unworthy of the kindness I have received 
from you/' 

Lawrence said — "Nonsense." But he 
must have been assured that, if truth 
ever issued pure and undefiled from human 
lips, it did so then — when a meek and 
loving girl expressed a conviction of her 
own unworthiness, compared with the 
object of her affection. 

" Nonsense," he said, rather brusquely. 
" What kindness have I shown you ? I 
heard you wanted a pony, and I had the 
means of procmdng one. I shall be very 



THE student's ayife. 263 

glad to know that you enjoy it. And now 
leave me, there's a good girl, because I 
have a translation here that I want to 
finish before breakfast." 

If anybody guesses that Theresa lingered 
after this, they will be doing her a grievous 
wrong. Less than a minute from the time 
the words were spoken, Lawrence had the 
study to liimself again, and Theresa was 
flying towards her own room, that she 
might have a few seconds to school her 
surprised and wounded heart, and compose 
her agitated features ere she presented 
herself before Mrs. Berrington. 

Nine o'clock ! They will all be assem- 
bling now ; and, if she lingers longer, she 
will be obliged to face the Avhole party at 
once, and probably receive a public lecture 
from her mother for having stayed to 
gossip with Mr. Singleton. 

Theresa felt that anything would be 
preferable to this ; so, putting on a mask 
of smiles — that mask which the world's 
hollow conventionalities too often oblige 



264i 



its children to assume — she went slowly 
down stairs to the breakfast-room, and crept 
quietly, hoping to escape observation, to her 
mother's side. Eut Mrs. Berrington neither 
slept nor dreamt in the daytime, so, look- 
ing up from the tea-pot, which she had just 
been filling, she said, reprovingly — 

" Theresa, you should not have remained 
with Mr. Singleton so long. It does not 
look well ; it is not right in any way." 

''Mamma," was the patient answer; I 
was a very short time in the study; I 
have been to my o^Yll room since." 

Mrs. Eerrington's countenance relaxed. 
" Oh, in that case, my dear, it is all very 
well. You thanked Mr. Singleton, of 
course?" 

" Yes, mamma.'' 

'' Did he say anything about his motives, 
or allude to — in short, did he give you 
no explanation concerning this splendid 

gift?" 

" None whatever, mamma. He only said 
it would afford him pleasure to see me 



THE student's wiee. 265 

enjoy it ; and then he returned to the 
occupation which I had interrupted."* 

** A most unaccountable person, cer- 
tainly '/' said Mrs. Berrington, in a musing 
tone : then, turning to her daughter (who 
had seated herself in the darkest part of 
the room), she continued, cheerfully — 

'' But now, Tessie dear, we must talk 
about this little plan of mine. I want to 
give a party.'' 

" A party, mamma ?*' 

" Yes love, a regular old-fashioned one, 
such as I remember my own father and 
mother used to give when I was a girl, 
and which I always enjoyed far more 
than any of the finer ones of later days. 
We lived quite in the country, you know, 
and had a small farm and a magnificent 
orchard, which yielded fruit enough to 
supply half the county. Well, when the 
time for gathering in the last apples, and 
pears, and walnuts arrived, my dear mother 
always invited the whole of our friends and 
neighbours to a dinner, which generally 
VOL. I. N 



266 THE student's wife. 

took place in the open air; and, when 
this was over, set them all to work at the 
gathering — ^the gentlemen climbing the 
ladders and plucking the fruit, and the 
ladies and children receiving it in their 
aprons and pinafores. You can form no 
idea of the merriment excited by the 
occupation. The old orchard used to ring 
again with shouts of laughter and screams 
of delight. The day always concluded 
with a dance under the dismantled trees, 
to the music of the village piper, which 
was then considered all-sufficient for any 
country assembly. Ah! those were, indeed, 
merry times, and merry hearts; but the 
world has changed since then." 

" It must have been very nice, mamma,'' 
said Theresa, from her quiet corner : " but, 
as you observe, the world has changed 
since then; and I really do not believe 
you would succeed in persuading any of 
the young men of our generation to 
attempt the occupation, much less make 
them enjoy it. Pancy Arthur Cressingham, 
for instance, in his tight, Parisian boots 



THE student's wiee. 267 

and lemon- coloured gloves, deliberately 
mounting a ladder to gather apples and 
walnuts ! I believe he would have a 
fainting fit at the bare idea/' 

Mrs. Berrington laughed at the picture. 
"Yet/' she said, "I could more easily 
imagine Mr. Cressingham making himself 
a child, for once in a way, than Lawrence 
Singleton. Tessie, shut your eyes for one 
moment, and try to realize the pictiu^e of 
our solemn, studious friend, standing on 
the ladder top and pelting walnuts at the 
admiring crowd beneath him !" 

*'I am sure I should be verv sorrv," 
began Theresa, indignantly; then, re- 
membering whom she was addressing, she 
added—" I mean, mamma, that you must 
see yourself that your old-fashioned party 
would be a complete failure." 

" Granted, if I attempted an exact copy 
of the original I have been describing," 
said ]Mrs. Berrington, svith a smile ; " but 
such was never my intention. We must 
have proper people to gather the fi:uit ; 

N 2 



268 THE student's wife. 

but it is always a pretty sight, and my 
idea was, to give a little quiet dinner first 
to our friends at the cottage — from whom 
you have received so much kindness — and 
then to let you all disperse about the 
orchard and garden till tea time; after 
which, Miss Ashton can give us some 
music, or you can get up a dance, or 
amuse yourselves in any way you please. 
Now, what fault has your little modern 
ladyship to find with this plan ?'* 

" None, mamma. When is it to take 
place?" 

"Well, the fruit is quite ready to be 
gathered now; so I was thinking about 
next Monday. And you might go down 
to the cottage to-morrow, and deliver the 
invitations ; of course, Mrs. Porrest's 
nephew must be included." 

"Yes, mamma." 

"Tessie, my dear,* there is certainly 
something the matter with you, or you 
would not be so indifferent about receiving 
your friends. But here comes 'papa;' so 
I shall catechize you another time." 



CHAPTER XXL 



Caroline had just persuaded Philip to go 
out for an hour with his dogs on the follow- 
ing morning, when Miss Eerrington was 
announced. 

" T^^e never see you here now," said 
Mrs. Porrest, imprinting a kiss on the pale 
cheek of her visitor. '' But, I perceive you 
are not well, so I must keep my reproaches 
for another time. And, by the bye, my 
love, I ought to have begun with congratu- 
lating you on your recent acquisition. We 
are quite curious to have a sight of this 
beautiful pony." 

"I have come," replied Theresa, "with 
an invitation from mamma, which, if you 
both accept it, will give you an opportunity 
of gratif)dng your cm^iosity. Papa and 
mamma wish you, my dear Mrs. Porrest, 



270 THE student's WIFE. 

and Miss Asliton, and Mr. Maranliam, to 
dine at the rectory next Monday. There 
will be a fruit gathering in the afternoon ; 
for the dinner is to be at the unfashionable 
hour of three o'clock, and we must amuse 
ourselves out of doors as well as we can 
till the evening. Do come, all of you, or 
mamma will be so disappointed.'* 

Mrs. Forrest entreated to be excused, 
but accepted readily for Philip, and left 
Caroline to answer for herself. 

" Oh, you must come," said Theresa, in a 
tone that left her own wishes on the sub- 
ject somewhat doubtful — '' for nobody else 
can play or sing ; and I am sure I don't 
know what we could do all the evening 
without music ; besides, both Mr. Cressing- 
ham and Mr. Singleton are anxiously an- 
ticipating the pleasure of seeing and hear- 
ing you ' ' 

Poor Theresa could get no farther, on 
account of a tiresome choking that would 
rise in her throat ; and Caroline answered 
quickly — 



THE student's WIFE. 271 

"Of course, I shall feel the greatest 
pleasure in accepting your mamma's in- 
vitation. And now, come up stairs with 
me, and take a singing lesson/' 

They hoth left the room together ; but, 
on arriving at Caroline's little sanctum, 
Theresa refused to lay aside her walking 
dress, declaring she was not in a singing 
humom', and had no time to stay. 

*' You have not a spark of curiosity, 
then, to see Philip Maranham?" said 
Miss Ashton, trying to make her grave 
companion smile. 

"Oh, I had forgotten all about him," 
replied Theresa, taking up a book. " How 
do you like him now ?" 

'* I think him amusing and original." 

" Always laughing and talking nonsense, 
I suppose? How detestable." 

" No. Occasionally he talks sense," 
said Caroline drily. "And, although he 
may not be gifted mth the exalted intellect 
of Lawrence Singleton, or the finished 
manners of Arthur Cressingham, I should 



272 THE student's wife. 

say tfiat ^detestable' was rather a stronger 
term than ought, in justice, to be applied 
to him." 

" Oh, I have no doubt he is an angel," 
exclaimed Theresa, without looking up 
from her book. " And, I am sure I am 
delighted that you should be so pleased 
with him. Is he fond of music ? ' ' 

" Not immoderately, I think ; but he 
can sing very well himself. I dare say 
you may hear him on Monday." 

'' Speaking of that," said Theresa, 
"mamma told me to ask you whether 
you would mind having your harp taken 
to the rectory on Monday evening. You 
know my piano is not a beauty, and it 
would do no justice to your playing." 

"I should not mind it at all," replied 
Caroline. " But, Theresa, I will have you 
learn a little duet, to sing with me for this 
occasion. If you really cannot stay to-day, 
will you come to-morrow morning and 
practise one?" 

Tor a moment Theresa's face brightened 



THE student's WIFE. 273 

all over ; but the gloom quickly shaded it 
again as she said — 

'' You know I have scarcely any voice. 
I should only make myseK ridiculous." 

'* Not at all. I have two or three very 
simple, easy pieces that we could sing 
together. Indeed, I must have my way." 

Theresa smiled again very faintly, and 
was on the point of replying, when a loud 
noise of barking dogs was heard below^ and 
immediately after a quick impatient step 
ascended the stairs, and was followed by 
the abrupt, unceremonious entrance of 
Philip Maranham. 

'' Carry," he exclaimed, on opening the 
door, " I want you to come out with me 
to a delicious walk I have discovered — so 
quiet and I really beg you ten thou- 
sand pardons — I thought you were alone." 

Por once, Caroline was too confused to 
decide immediately what she ought to do. 
Her colour rose rapidly ; and, long before 
she had in any degree regained her pre- 
sence of mind, the intruder was gone ; and 

N 3 



274i THE student's wife. 

Theresa's blue eyes were expressing volumes 
of inquiry. 

" Original, indeed ! " said the latter, at 
last, finding that Caroline was in no hurry 
to speak ; " and friendly, too, it appears, 
by his style of entering your private apart- 
ments. I should have thought such free" 
dom would have been particularly distaste- 
ful to you — above all people." 

"lam far from approving it," replied 
Caroline, good humouredly; "but this is 
the first offence, and I must teach Mr. 
Philip better manners for the future. You 
are not going already, Theresa?" 

" Yes, I must. But I have one thing to 
say to you first, Caroline. You have a 
secret of mine — the only secret of my life. 
I have never asked you to keep it to your 
own breast; but I do so now. By the 
friendship I am sure you feel for me — by 
all the undeserved kindness you have 
shown me — I implore you to give no hint 
to any human being of what I confided to 
you the day we sat together in the 'bennel.' 



THE student's wij*e. 275 

I shall not voluntarily speak on the same 
subject again — even to you I regret deeply 
ever ha^dng done so ; but the past cannot 
be recalled, and I will trust to your honour 
to conceal faithfully all you know of my 
folly and weakness. Do not ask me any 
questions. I have nothing to tell — no 
complaints to make. Assure me only that 
my secret is safe — that no consideration of 
any kind whatever could induce you to 
betray me." 

''Be at rest, Theresa," said Caroline, 
soothingly ; "for neither to yourself nor 
to any other person will I again open my 
lips on the subject, without a special per- 
mission from vou." 

c/ 

" Thank you. I am quite satisfied. And 
now good bye till to-morrow." 

Miss Berrington had scarcely left the 
house when Philip Maranham again pre- 
sented himself at Caroline's door, and 
asked if he might now come in. 

" If you msh to speak to me," said 
the young lady, passing out into the cor- 



276 TiTE student's wife. 

ridor, "I will take a turn in tlie garden 
with you. This apartment, I have before 
told you, is sacred to myself and any 
female friend I may choose to admit." 

"I have, indeed, discovered that you 
entertain angels there," replied Philip, 
emphatically ; '' and I am, therefore, con- 
strained to acknowledge the justice of my 
exclusion.*' 

" Well, shall we go down to the garden 
now?" 

Philip suddenly altered his manner, 
and, laying his hand firmly on Caroline's 
arm, said, almost savagely, — ''Not one 
step shall you take from this spot, Caro- 
line Ashton, until you have answered two 
or three questions that I am about to ask 
you." 

" Mr. Maranham — you hurt my arm ! 
Remove that iron grasp you have laid 
upon it ; and if your questions are reason- 
able and proper, I will answer them on 
the spot." 

" Reasonable and proper ! Hear this 



THE student's WIFE. 277 

model of all propriety ! Pray, is it 
against your code of reason and morality 
to tell me the name of the young lady 
I saw in your room about ten minutes 
ago?" 

"Not in the slightest degree," replied 
Caroline, smiling at her companion's sar- 
castic humour. "The young lady's name 
is Theresa Berrington. Do you admire 
her?'* 

Admire her ! — hut, I dare say, you do 
not. I never yet heard one woman 
acknowledge the beauty of another. No 
doubt that fair, shining angel you had 
smuggled away so nicely m your blue- 
beard chamber appears nothing more in 
your eyes than a decent-looking country 
girl; perhaps you consider her rather 
plain than otherwise.'' 

" I consider her one of the loveliest 
specimens of nature's handiwork," said 
Caroline, with a little more dignity than 
she had yet assumed. " But you have, 
probably, some other questions to ask me, 
Mr. Maranham?" 



278 



"There, now — ^you are offended!'' ex- 
claimed Philip; ''and, I suppose, I must 
beg pardon for having done you an 
injustice. But, in the name of all that is 
mysterious, why — if you acknowledge the 
divine beauty of your exquisite friend — 
why, 1 say, have you never mentioned her 
name, or family, or abode, to me before 
this?" 

*' I have spoken of her family and their 
abode several times,'' Caroline answered, 
with admirable patience. '' Miss Berring- 
ton's father is the rector of the parish; 
and it was to visit them that I went out 
the evening of your arrival. If I have not 
alluded to Theresa individually, it was 
because I could not possibly conceive your 
feeling any interest in a person you had 
never seen." 

" But now that I have seen her, this 
objection is done away with ; and you will 
confer an inestimable benefit on me by 
never speaking to me of anything or any- 
body else." 



THE student's WIFE. 279 

Caroline looked earnestly at Philip for a 
few seconds ; then she said, quietly — 

*' How much reality and how much non- 
sense is there in all tliis, Mr. Maranham ?" 

*' Do you mean in my admiration of 
Miss Berrington?'' 

" In the extravagant rhapsodies you are 
uttering concerning her." 

*' By heavens ! — you have no soul, or you 
would not ask such a question, or doubt 
that my whole heart and spirit are engaged 
in the matter. Come, Caroline, let us be 
friends again, and you will take me at 
once — now — this minute — to call at the 
rectorv." 

Whatever emotions of pity or surprise 
Caroline Ashton might have felt in listen- 
ing to the uninvited confidences of !Mrs. 
Forrest's nephew, she could not, at this 
last request, forbear laughing outright. 

'' Oh, laugh away," he said, passionately. 
" It is so easy for you frozen-hearted beings 
to mock the warm impulses of those in 
whose breasts natm^e has kindled an ever- 
gloTvdng fire. But I tell you, frankly, that 



280 THE student's wife. 

I am determined to know that exquisite, 
divine Theresa, whether you introduce me 
or not : so you will gain nothing by your 
ill nature." 

"I am really not aware of anything I 
could gain" — retorted Caroline, with a 
slight increase of colour — " by preventing 
your acquaintance with Miss Berrington ; 
and, to convince you that I have no such 
desire, I beg you will be at home to-morrow 
morning, about eleven o'clock, when my 
friend Theresa is coming to take a singing 
lesson. Now let me pass, if you please. I 
can afford you no further information." 

" You are not angry ?" 

" Why should I be ? You do injustice 
to yourself, and not to me, by exhibiting 
petulance and want of moral discipline. 
Another time, when you are in your right 
senses, I may give you a piece of serious 
and friendly advice ; at present it would 
be misconstrued, as any explanation is 
impossible. Now, good bye. I am going 
to sit with your aunt for the rest of the 
morning." 



CHAPTER XXII, 



Theresa was punctual to her appoint- 
ment on the following morning, and Philip 
Maranham was introduced to her in due 
form. Mrs. Porrest, who had heard some 
of his ravings of the previous day, already 
trembled in anticipation of an imprudent 
attachment, and a still more imprudent 
love match. She could not find it in her 
heart to depreciate Theresa in any way; 
but she did contrive to hint to her nepliew 
the folly it would be to think seriously of 
a girl without a penny, when he considered 
the income his uncle had left him — wholly 
inadequate for his individual maintenance. 
But although Philip knew enough of 
worldly matters to give assent to this rea- 
soning, as an abstract principle, he was 
quite incapable of using it in his own case 



282 THE student's wife. 

as a shield against the darts of passion- 
He listened patiently to the gentle words 
of his very gentle relative, kissed her soft, 
white hand when she ceased to speak, and 
assured her there was — 

" Nothins half so sweet in life 



As love's young dream." 

Theresa had never looked more lovely 
and attractive than she did on the morning 
of her presentation to Philip Maranham. 
The pensive, almost languid, air that had 
lately replaced her joyous smiles suited well 
her madonna style of beauty; and there 
was such a total absence of all coquetry, 
such a perfect indifference as to the effect 
she might produce on the young, handsome 
stranger, that Philip, wholly ignorant of 
the source whence this msonciance arose, 
felt convinced that the pure, faultless, 
radiant creature of his secret imagination 
stood, at length, in human form, before 
his enraptured sight. 

He was almost too agitated and delighted 



THE student's avife. 283 

to talk, though he did make one or two 
efforts to engage his pale idol in some sort 
of conversation; but Theresa answered 
him absently, or in monosyllables, and he 
soon abandoned the attempt, and seemed 
contented to absorb every other faculty in 
that of vision. 

Caroline Ashton w^as far from an unin- 
terested spectator of this scene, but she 
knew it would be useless to interfere. She 
seemed to feel, mdeed, with that singular 
prescience which is sometimes granted to 
thoughtful persons at particular epochs 
of then' lives, that any effort to stem the 
impetuosity of the torrent that had so 
abruptly broken forth, would be dangerous 
as well as idle, — that a fiery course of 
passion was destined to be run, — and that 
her part in the matter could only be of a 
silent and unobtrusive character. 

At present she must watch and listen, 
whether it was agreeable to her or not. 
Philip seemed to be unconscious of her 
very existence, as well as of that of every 



284 THE student's wife. 

other being in the world, except Theresa 
Berrington. The latter was evidently far 
from appreciating this distinction as it 
deserved ; and when Tantalus and Charon 
rushed suddenly from the lawn into the 
parlour, she devoted all her attention to 
them, and appeared really glad of an 
excuse for remaining silent. 

But Philip would not let her escape 
even now. After gazing for a few minutes 
at the pretty group formed by Theresa and 
the two huge dogs at play together, he 
said abruptly — " You are not, then, afraid 
of those rude animals, Miss Berrington ?" 

" Afraid ! Oh, no. I love all kinds of 
dumb creatures; and these appear as 
good-tempered as they are beautiful." 

" Yes, I have tamed them pretty well ; 
but Miss Ashton and my aunt are both 
timid with them still. You ought to 
come oftener, and set them a braver 
example.'' 

"Theresa has been indeed a deserter 
of late," said Mrs. Porrest, who had 



THE student's WIFE. 285 

entered in time to hear this last observa- 
tion. " She used to be my constant 
companion." 

" But you have others now," replied 
Theresa : '* and my duties are also mul- 
tiplied since then. I could scarcely get 
away for an hour this morning." 

" And we are wasting it all in idle chit 
chat," exclaimed Caroline, starting up 
fi'om her dra\^'ing table. " Come, Mr. 
Maranham, I must turn you and your 
dogs out of the room, unless any of you 
wish to assist at our singing lesson." 

"Oh, do let me stay," pleaded Philip, 
turning his fine, expressive eyes from 
Caroline to Theresa, in a most beseech- 
ing manner. " I will be so quiet, you 
shall not know I am in the room ; and, 
upon my soul, I have no idea what to 
do with myself, if vou send me awav." 

" Nevertheless, we must have the bar- 
barity to do it," said Caroline, discovering, 
from Theresa's face, that she did not want 
him with them ; " and if you go at once, 



286 THE student's wife. 

we will, perhaps, suffer you to walk part 
of the way back to the rectory with us, 
as I intend accompanying Miss Berring- 
ton when the lesson is over.'* 

Philip's eyes sparkled at this promise, 
and, with one more longing, lingering 
gaze at the object of his sudden admira- 
tion, he whistled to his dogs, and, with 
Mrs. Porrest, passed out upon the lawn. 

*' How do you like him, Theresa?" said 
Miss Ashton, when they were quite alone. 
" Don't say you have had no time to form 
an opinion, because I am certain that you 
have formed one." 

" Yes, it is true. I do not admire Mr. 
Maranham at all." 

" What fault do you find with him ?" 

" He does not interest me in the slightest 
degree. I cannot endure to hear a young 
man say he does not know what to do with 
himself. It is a sign of an unoccupied, if 
not a shallow, mind." 

*" Not always, Theresa ; but what is your 
next charge against Philip Maranham ? 



THE STUDENT'S WIFE. 287 

" He stares at one so perseveringly — not 
to say rudely. Nobody could like such 
close observation from a stranger.'' 

" He admires you excessively, Theresa.'* 

*' Does he ? I am sorry for it. He 
ought to admire you." 

"Why?" 

" Because your heart is still light and 
free; therefore, capable of being won." 

" And may not yours be light and free 
again some day, Theresa ? — and if so, may 
not Philip Maranham win it ?" 

"Never!" replied Theresa, firmly and 
emphatically. "My self-knowledge is 
limited enough, I do not doubt ; but it 
extends to the point of this conviction, that 
I could as easily fall in love with the man 
in the moon, as with this fascinating Mr. 
Maranham." 

"Indeed," said Caroline, shortly. "Then 
now let us proceed to our singing lesson." 

Theresa took consideral)le pains with 
her part of the duet, and Caroline assured 
her pupil, at the conclusion of the lesson, 



288 THE STUDENT'S WIEE. 

that she had no reason to be ashamed of 
the voice which nature had bestowed upon 
her, cultivation alone being required to 
render it a most attractive one. 

" And you will come frequently to 
practise with me, will you not ?" she said, 
as Theresa put away the music books and 
closed the piano. 

" Perhaps I may avail myself of your 
kindness,'' was the somewhat hesitating 
reply ; "but I will tell you after Monday. 
Must we have Mr. Maranham to walk 
with us now?" 

'^ Yes, I promised him he should go. 
You are hard upon this young man, The- 
resa." 

" And you are singularly indulgent, I 
think ; so one will balance the other." 

Caroline left the room quickly to put 
on her bonnet, and Philip joined them, a 
few minutes later, in the garden. 

As they passed a white rose tree, where a 
single full-blown flower raised its fair head 
proudly amidst the fast -withering leaves 



THE student's WIFE. 289 

around, Mr. Maranliam took out his pen- 
knife, and carefully severing this beautiful 
memorial of fading summer from its stem, 
presented it, somewhat timidly, to Theresa. 

*' Thank vou," she said, coldly. "It is 
a beautiful flower ; but you must find one 
for Miss Ashton, or I cannot accept this." 

"There are no more roses,'' replied 
Philip, evidently hurt at her ungracious- 
ness. " I will find another flower for 
your friend." 

"You are mistaken," rejoined Theresa, 
stooping down and exhibiting a tiny bud, 
half hidden amongst the luxuriant and 
drooping foliage. Here is one which, 
though born out of season, will bloom 
freshly when this you have plucked for me 
is scattered to the Avinds of heaven." 

"You are growing poetical, dear Theresa," 
said Caroline, as she took from Philip's 
hand the still green bud he offered with so 
little empressement ; and tlien, with a calm 
smile of thanks to the donor, she led the 
way through the littla gate into the lane. 

VOL. I. o 



290 THE student's wife. 

The walk to the rectory was a very short 
one; and, although Philip was not much 
indebted to the conversational powers of 
either of his companions, he expressed 
unbounded regret when Theresa's home 
appeared in sight, and told the latter, at 
parting, that he should count the minutes 
until Monday, when he hoped to find her 
kinder to him than she had been to-day. 

As Theresa shook hands with Caroline, 
the rose Philip had given her — already 
shaken by the wind — fell to pieces, and 
left the bare stalk alone in her possession. 

'' I told you how it would be," she said, 
half smiling, and glancing at Caroline's 
still uninjured bud. "The sun had forced 
mine into premature bloom, and it has 
withered at a breath. Yours was nou- 
rished in the cool shade, and it will have 
a long and vigorous life. Good bye, both 
of you : we shall meet on Monday." 

"Do you wish to extend our walk, or 
shall we go home at once ?" said Caroline, 
as they turned away from the rectory gate ; 
" I will do whichever you prefer." 



THE student's WIFE. 291 

She spoke very kindly and softly, as if 
she had really commenced her patient, 
sisterly office, and Avas ready to sympathize, 
heart and soul, with her wayward com- 
panion. 

" Take me where you like. I care for 
nothing now," he answered, passionately; 
then adding, the next moment, " Don't let 
me be such a brute to you, Caroline ; leave 
me to myself; I don't know what I say." 

^* Do you wish to be alone ?" 

'' No ; but I have no right to bore you 
with my ill humours. I have a bad dis- 
position ; I am selfish and impatient. You 
will soon be altogether disgusted Avith me, 
if you see into the inner sanctuary of my 
unregulated, evil heart." 

*' But I thought I was to be your friend, 
your sister ; and having accepted the office, 
I shall not shrink from its duties." 

" But they will weary you to death ; you 
will sink under the heavy burden." 

*' I think not. At any rate, I am pre. 
pared to make the trial." 
" Well, you shall, then. I will speak my 



292 THE student's wife. 

thoughts aloud. And to begin — I am 
madly in love with Theresa Berriugton." 

''I know it." 

" No, you don't. You see that I admire 
her : you hear the few words of homa^^e 
that rise spontaneously, and bubble over 
the foaming sea of passion that lies beneath; 
but you know no more of the wild love I 
feel for her than you do of the treasures 
that rest for ever in the unfathomable 
depths of ocean. Pshaw ! what should a 
young lady, fresh from Eairiield House, 
Kensington, know of sT!tch love as this ?" 

" I do not even believe in its existence," 
said Caroline, quietly. 

" What do you mean ? Did you not 
say, just now, that you knew I loved Miss 
Berrins^ton ?" 

" I said I knew that you were in love 
with her; but I have two very distinct 
meanings for ' loving' and ' being in love.' 
The first can result only from an intimate 
knowledge of the beloved object, and a 
keen appreciation of certain endearing 
qualities that you have — or fancy you 



THE student's WIFE. 293 

have — discovered in her. The last may 
be forced into existence in an hour hy the 
effect of mere physical beauty on an 
inflammable imagination — and all the fine 
sounding words about foaming seas of 
passion, and such like, belong not to this 
passion itself, but are a natural appendage 
to the excitable imagination, in which the 
sentiment has arisen." 

"Humph!" said Philip, turning sud- 
denly to the speaker : " this is pretty well, 
I think, for a school girl. But, I presume, 
you will not disj)ute that ' being in love' 
may lead, in course of time, to 'loving;' 
that it is, indeed, a formidable step in that 
dhection." 

" Possibly it may be, and, with you, I 
do not doubt that it is ; therefore, in my 
capacity of sisterly adviser, I would seri- 
ously entreat of you to crush, vrith a strong 
hand and fu'm will, anv feelius^s bevond 
those of the simplest friendliness that you 
now entertain for Theresa Berrin2:ton. 
The task I recommend cannot be such 
a very difiicult one at present; but it 



294 THE student's wife. 

may become one of impossibility, if long 
delayed." 

''Excellent and valuable advice," said 
Philip ; " but there are two reasons against 
my following it — one is, that I could not, 
if I would; and the other, that I would 
not, if I could." 

" You like suffering, then, I presume ?" 

" Not more than most people ; but I see 
no gigantic cause opposing itself against 
my indulging in a passion for Miss Ber- 
rington. She is not engaged, is she?" 

" I believe not." 

" Then, why should I not love her, and 
try, at least, in all humility, to gain her 
love." 

'' You scorn my advice." 

" Only because I cannot discover on 
what grounds it is offered. My aunt has 
probably infected you with her fears about 
our poverty ; but I tell you I laugh at 
these. Love would more than atone to 
me for the few luxuries I might have to 
dispense with. Oh, Caroline!" — and his 
voice suddenly changed to one of deep and 



THE student's WIFE. 295 

passionate sadness, while he laid his hand 
on the passive arm of his companion — " Oh, 
Caroline I do not dissuade me from seeking 
earth's brightest gift. If you knew how 
lonely and desolate I sometimes feel, how 
my heart pants for a true and fixed affec- 
tion — for a love that no time or circum- 
stance could change — for the sympathy 
and tenderness of a pure, bright angel, such 
as Theresa appears to me, — you would pass 
over, and look beyond the cold dictates of 
worldly prudence, and assist me with all 
your soul in the attainment of this blessed 
object." 

Caroline remained silent. What more, 
ind^^ed, could she urge, without betraying 
the secret she was so solemnly pledged to 
conceal ? She would have saved Philip, 
had it been in her power ; but it seemed 
as if fate was against him. 

" You do not answer," he said, at length. 
" You are wearying already of my confi- 
dences." 

" I am not," she forcibly replied. " I am 
thinking how I can best befriend you." 



296 THE student's wife. 

" Dear, kind Caroline ! And, what an 
ungrateful idiot I have been to you." 

With a sudden impulse of repentance or 
gratitude, he seized the hand that was 
then resting quietly on his arm, and 
attempted to draw it to his lips ; but Caro- 
line resisted even this familiarity. 

"I do not require any gratitude, Mr. 
Maranham; nor — nor" — she continued, 
with unusual hesitation and embarrass- 
ment — nor do I wish for this." 

"Oh, I beg your pardon I" he replied, 
quickly, almost thro^A ing aAvay the hand he 
had taken. " I had forgotten for the 
moment that I was in companionship with 
a young lady from Pairfield House. Por 
pity's sake let us return home, or I may 
be committing some other act of indis- 
cretion." 

END OE VOL. I. 



T. C. Newby, Printer, 30, Welbeck-street, Cavendish-square. 




UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA 



3 



12 084210407